Jesus does not shy away from the topic of hell. For instance, he tells his disciples, “It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell (γέεννα; géhenna), ‘where the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched’” (Mark 9:47-48). Indeed, explicit warnings about “hell” appear throughout the Gospels (Matt 5:22-30; 10:28; 18:9; 23:15, 33; Mk 9:43-47; Lk 12:5). In light of this biblical truth, the following statement will seem counterintuitive—or even heretical—but it’s equally true: Hell does not exist.

The Jewish notion of punishment after death originates from an actual geographical location. The Valley of the Son of Hinnom is listed among Canaan’s locales in Joshua (cf. 15:8; 18:16), and it became a place of child sacrifice and foreign worship. The ancient Israelites “built the high places of Baal in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom (גאי בן הנם; gei ben hinnom), to offer up their sons and daughters to Molech” (Jer 32:35; cf. 7:31-32; 19:6; 2 Kgs 23:10; 2 Chron 28:3; 33:6). This valley served as the earthly template for a post-mortem pit that ancient Jews called “Gehinnom” (גיהנום)—“Gehenna” in Greek and “Gehinnam” in Aramaic—the “Valley of Hinnom.” While Israel’s Valley of Hinnom certainly exists, its otherworldly counterpart is still awaiting existence.

According to Scripture, hell will be created after the resurrection of the dead; at present, hell does not exist. When Jesus describes hell as a place “where the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched” (Mk 9:48), he quotes from Isaiah’s eschatological vision of the righteous living in God’s kingdom and the rebellious dying in fire. Through the prophet, God describes a future creation: “The new heavens and the new earth that I make shall remain before me…. All flesh shall come to worship before me… and they shall go out and look at the corpses of the people who have rebelled against me. For their worm will not die, nor their fire be quenched, and they shall remain an abhorrence (דראון; deraon) to all flesh” (Isa 66:22-24). This “abhorrence” for the wicked is a post-resurrection reality. As Daniel 12:2 notes, “Multitudes of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake [in resurrection], some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting abhorrence (דראון; deraon).” The Bible describes everyone being raised from their graves and then receiving either eternal life or ongoing abhorrence. Hell is not a destination for the wicked after death, but after resurrection (for the destination after death, called Sheol or Hades, click here).

The ancient Aramaic translation of Isaiah—or “Targum” (תרגום)—replaces “abhorrence” (דראון; deraon) in the original Hebrew with an explicit reference to hell. In Aramaic, Isaiah 66:24 reads, “their breaths shall not die, and their fire shall not be extinguished, and the wicked shall be judged in hell (גיהנם; gehinnam).” The Targum parallels Jesus’ quotation of this same verse in Mk 9:47-48 alongside his own reference to “hell” (γέεννα; géhenna). For both Yeshua and the Jews who wrote the Targum, “hell” will be a place that exists in the “new heavens and new earth” that Isaiah prophesied. The wicked do not arrive in hell immediately after death; instead, they go there following their bodily resurrection. This post-resurrection scenario is what the Targum and Revelation call the “second death” (cf. IsaTg 65:6; Rev 20:14; 21:8)—that is, a death that comes after resurrection. Scripture clarifies that a fiery place of judgment is reserved for the World to Come, rather than the present world. “We are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which the righteous will dwell” (2 Peter 3:13), and “hell” is a pending part of that future creation. In other words, hell does not (yet) exist.

BEGIN YOUR JOURNEY OF DISCOVERY

268 COMMENTS

  1. Thank's on your article. i'm totally agree that a person's soul did not go to heaven or hell after they die. May be you can discuss on your next article about the condition of soul after death. May God bless you.
  2. If so where do the spirits of all mankind go at death now? Is there a place set aside for them until the resurrection comes both for the righteous and the wicked and if so where?
  3. Your interpretation reads things into scripture that are not there. Daniel says "Many" or "Multitudes" shall awake - note carefully not ALL. Some remain dead in the grave (= hell). See the clear emphasised (4x) state of this class of people in Isa.26:14.
    • Thanks for your question, Dionne. There's not much on it. It's fiery (per the article) and/or a place of "outer darkness" (cf. Matt 8:12; 22:13; 25:30). Though, according to Isaiah 66:24, those in the fiery place are already dead -- so they don't experience what hell is like anyway.

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    • May not be related but I've got some nagging issues raging within my heart.
      1. Is the Christian God different from the Jewish YHWH?
      2. What God should I pray to for answers?
      So much I want to know

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    • If that is the case, then what is that place where the rich stayed in torments while seeing Abraham and the beggar Lazarus in a not-so-far place(they were conversing to each other?

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  4. Thank you for your explanation. I would like a discussion if possible about whether or not there will be consciousness in hell.
    • Thanks for reading, Carmeta. We can follow this article with one on the question of post-mortem consciousness. Stay tuned.
    • We are very happy that you’ve joined our discussion forum. Would you believe that these articles are only a taste of what Israel Bible Center has to offer? We also provide comprehensive teaching on a variety of biblical, historical, and cultural topics. You might begin with The Jewish Gospel of Matthew or The Hebrew Psalms: How To Worship God. You’ll be amazed at the Jewish world that awaits you. Don’t delay another minute: enroll now!
    • KJV ECC,9:10 Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, Some quote Lazarus and the rich man. An event not to happen until after 1000 years A parabel as they can't communicate
    • Hell is used figuratively and literally. Figuratively as fiery lake of fire into which even death itself will be thrown and other figurative animals signifying governments and worldly authorities will be destroyed finally and completely. (Revelation 20:13-15).According to Romans 6:7 there is no sin after death!
  5. if hell doesnt exist right now, can you explain the scripture of the rich man going to hell and seeing the poor man in the bosom of Abraham and the rich man wanting to warn his family of this place. otherwise i would be left confused. thanks!
  6. Dr.Nicholas, Greetings! Please, if you study the Bible without bias, you will know that right now, heaven and hell exist. There are numerous Bible passages that confirm the existence of heaven and hell. Please do not ignore this comment, because your eternity and that of others are involved.Thank you!
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