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 grand 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 men 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.

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83 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?

    • That most definately must be the case. one thieif on the cross was ushered into paradise the other was not. The christian who dies is “absent from the body but present withe Lord”. Amen to that!!

      • How you view this depends upon translating Luke 23:43 move the comma an do you get:- Truely, I say to you this day, you will (future tense) be with me in Paradise. Jesus was then dead and unconscious for three days until His Father restored Him to life as Jesus had never sinned to earn death. The thief will receive his reward at the resurrection at Jesus return.

        • Liz Wright Great answer Suggest you actually say there was no comma in that scripture as Greek doesn’t have 1 The Comma by added by those who translated scripture to say what they thought

      • i think that that quotation might be by Paul, “i would rather be absent from the body and present with the Lord” a slight difference?

  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.

    • “Multitudes” (רבים) is a Hebraic euphemism for “everyone.” Note John 5:28-29: “An hour is coming when *all* who are in the tombs will hear [Jesus’] voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.” More, the grave ≠ hell; the post-mortem destination prior to resurrection is Sheol/Hades, not hell. See the following article: https://weekly.israelbiblecenter.com/happens-death-resurrection/

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      • H7227 (many) occurs 458 times in the OT. The clear use of it is NOT “everyone”. The “all” of John 5:28 is linked to those that “hear” Jesus’ voice. Again not everyone. There is no getting around the clear emphasised point of Isa.26:14 that ther are people who will never live again (in any form). Destroyed means exactly what is says.

        • John 5:28 says that “all” (πάντες) people will hear his voice and be raised from the dead — both the good and the bad (there’s no third category of people that stays in the ground). Isaiah 26:14 says that the “Rephaim” will not rise. The Rephaim are not human beings; they are quasi-divine beings who wither away in the afterlife. The Isaian verse does not contradict the eventual resurrection of all humanity.

          • Yes, that’s right — just compare Mk 10:45 and 1st Tim 2:6. Jesus says he came “to give his life a ransom for many” and Paul rewords that by saying he “gave himself a ransom for all”. It probably helps if we think of this “many” as being “the whole multitude” = all.

          • Yes, it does. It’s another example of the eschatological existence of hell at Jesus’ Parousia.

      • Hi Dr Nick. While I agree that all will be resurrected I suggest that the Dead in Christ are when Jesus comes again while Rev.20″12-14 Then at the end of the 1000 years Are raised. Both have their “hour: but at separate times.

        • Yes, Revelation seems to have two separate periods of resurrection, though this separation is unique to Revelation and is not reflected in other New Testament discussions of resurrection.

    • 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.

      • Dr. Nicholas J. Schaser I’ve read it’s an old english word meaning a hole in the ground. And Rev 20:13 Hell delivered the dead :then:14 Hell is thrown into the lake of fire Are you saying a place of fire gets thrown into another place of fire? Malachi say ashes.

        • The term that the KJV translates as “hell” in Rev 20:13-14 is ᾅδης (Hades), not γέεννα (Gehenna; usually translated “hell”). In Jewish thought, Gehenna is a post-resurrection place of fire, and Hades is the place where people go after death while they await resurrection. In Revelation, the post-mortem holding tank called Hades is thrown into the lake of fire.

  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.

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    • 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

  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!

      • I’m surprised at this anwser and that to the previous comment. HELL is the English translation and HADES just a translateration of the Greek. The SHEOL is the translateration of the word in the Torah Hebrew. They are not different they are one and the same in different languages.

        • Sean, “hell” is the King James translation of the Greek term “Hades.” It is an imprecise English translation. The word for “hell” in Greek is Gehenna, not Hades. Hades is the Greek version of Sheol, which is where all people go after death as they await resurrection. “Hell” is where people die a “second death” after resurrection (Rev 2:11; 20:6, 14; 21:8). In the original languages, hell and Hades are different places.

          • Dr. Schaser, sorry, but you seem to have things backwards. The word “hell” in Greek is not Gehenna, it is the other way around – the Greek word Gehenna has been incorrectly translated as “hell” in English. Please see other comments about the equivalence of Sheol, Hades and Hell.

      • Dr. Nicholas J. Schaser you article “The rich man, Lazarus, and Abraham are all in Hades/Sheol—but the rich man is in a different neighborhood! ” Sorry but this event is 1000 years inti the future As the rich man has just been resurrected and going into the lake of fire Abraham and the begger are resuyrrected at Christ’s return

        • There’s no textual data to support the notion that the story happens “1,000 years in the future.” More, there’s no mention of any figure in Luke 16 being resurrected at Christ’s return, or anyone going into the “lake of fire,” which is Revelation (not Luke).

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          • Rev 20:12- 13 is the 2nd resurrection As Abraham will rise with the beggar When Jesus return and there is no communication while dead. So cannot be meant as literal but to convoy a message. The rich man has no hope.

  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!

    • Immanuel, if you can supply biblical passages that describe the present existence of hell, please post them. Thanks for reading.

      • Dr.Nick., Paradise the compartment of comfort in SHOEL- HADES is now empty. (Eph.4:8 – 10; Heb.2: 14 -15;* Matt.27: 50 – 53).The spirit/ soul of the righteous go to heaven now. Jesus Christ made the way. But, the wicked ( their spirit/soul ) still go to hell. Hell will be cast into the lake of fire that burns with brime stone.

        • Immanuel, in answer to your question, your previous list of verses has been posted along with a response. See the comment thread.

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  7. Revelation 20 : 13 “hell gave up the dead that were in them”, 14 “hell were thrown into the lake of fire.” An EMPTY hell thrown into the lake of fire. So I cannot see “punishment in hell forever”, nor “hell will only exist from the resurrection” – it is emptied then.

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      • Yes, some English translations use “hell”, some now just leave a translateration “hades”. Revelation 20 : 13, 14 in ESV “Hades gave up the dead”, “Hades was thrown into the lake of fire.” If you wish to use Hades instead of Hell, then your article should have been entitled, “DOES HADES EXIST?”.

        • Sean, Hades exists; it’s where everyone goes when they die according to biblical thought. Hell does not exist yet; rather, it is a place where some people will go after they are raised from the dead. Again, “hell” is “Gehenna” (γέεννα) in Greek, not “Hades” (ᾅδης). These are two very different words and concepts, despite the apparent misunderstanding of some English translators. https://weekly.israelbiblecenter.com/happens-death-resurrection/

      • Dr. Schaser, I don’t wish to be contraversal, but you seem to be mistaken. Hell is a translation of Sheol and Hades as all three have the same background meaning – Sheol = unseen state, Hades = unseen or hidden and Hell is an old English word meaning consealed. They are one.

        • Dr. Schaser, to further my point, I think you are confusing Gehenna with Hell. I consider the English translations incorrect where they translate Gehenna as hell. Gehenna is not an “Unseen” place, it is a phjysical location, as you know. You have used incorrect verses to make you point.

        • Because the KJV was the basis of the “evangelical belief about hell” for I used that in my study (below) but also other translation. Sheol appears about 70 times in the Torah but only 35 of these were translated as hell. The picture changes when you see the whole 70. I went back to the orginal in my study that is why I know there are three words in the N.T. all which have been translated as hell but I see the difference. I see that you are incorrect in using Hell for Gehenna. It is physical.

  8. To explain why my comment. A survey stated the traditional view of “Hell” was the cause of people giving up on church so I did a study on hell. It took about six months fairly solid study and giving a talk on my findings took about seven hours.

  9. Does both body and soul of believers in Christ also go to hades until the General resurrection? Acts 8:56-58 Stephen called the Lord to receive his Spirit. 2 Corinthians 5:1-8 at death Spirit seperate from the body. Hell, death unbelievers are cast into Lake of FIRE Rev.20:14-15. about the true teaching

  10. Dr. Nick, Please, as you requested, below are some scriptures confirming the existence of hell, and those that go there. 1.Psalm 9:17 2.Proverbs 15: 11/24 3.Proverbs 27: 20 4.Ezekiel 32: 25b 5. Deuteronomy 32: 22 6. Numbers 16: 28 – 33 7. Matthew 5: 27 – 30 8. Mark 9: 42 – 48 9. Revelation 20: 13 10: Acts 2: 27/31 11. 2Peter 2:4 12. Luke 16: 19-31* * Hell is the tormemt compartment of SHEOL- HADES, the place of the departed spirits. The rich man is there. Paradise is the comfort department of SHEOL- HADES, Abraham and Lazarus were there.

  11. Dr. Schaser, thank you for your replies. Interesting. I consider you are incorrect but none of us are saved or lost or spiritual because of our view of “hell” or “hades”. So I encourage everyone to keep their eyes on Jesus our Saviour as of first importance.

  12. Psalm chapter 1 divides into 3…the righteous, the sinner, and the ungodly. it needs to be read to get the entire context but verses 4-6 are clear when stating, “…the ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore, the ungodly shall not stand in the judgement, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous…” verse 6b…”but the way of the ungodly shall perish.”

  13. Seems like a form of “Purgatory”, the Catholics talk. An eternity in torment seems to be a pretty high price to pay unless the offence(s) were so vicious as to warrant such a sentence.

  14. Can you please explain Ephesians 4:8 “….when He ascended on high, He led captivity captive….” Thank You

    • Thanks for your question, Christoper. The verse is a quotation of Ps 68:18. In the context of Ephesians, the verse supports Jesus’ ascension after his resurrection. In the original context, it describes God’s victory over other spiritual forces and taking them captive.

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  15. Are Adam and Eve now also in Sheol? When God declared the punishment God only told that they will die (as God already warned before). Neither God told them that after they die they will be burned in hell as punishment of their sins. In Ecclesiastes 2:7 it is said: And the dust return to its earth, from whence it was and the spirit return to God who gave it … Are Adam and Eve spirits now with God?

    • According to biblical thought, Adam and Eve would have gone to Sheol after death, along with other figures from Genesis like Abraham (see Lk 16:22-30) or Jacob (see Gen 37:35; 42:38). Though this does not separate them from God (see Ps 139:8; Job 26:6).

  16. John was in the Spirit in Rev. 4 and saw God’s Throne and 24 elders. The 24 elders are human as they say “And have redeemed us to God by your blood” in Rev. 5:9. This happens before the opening of the Scroll sealed with Seven Seals which are the judgements.

    • The “lake of fire” seems to be Revelation’s term for Gehenna (usually translated “hell” in English). Per the above article, Gehenna is a fiery place that becomes a reality when God’s kingdom arrives on earth. Since the “lake of fire” fulfills the same rubric as Gehenna, it seems appropriate to equate the two.

    • There’s no specific text that describes the creation of hell, but it’s clearly a post-resurrection place; that is, it’s only mentioned in narratives about a time after resurrection when God judges the earth. Thus, either hell doesn’t exist yet because the “new heavens and new earth” don’t exist (per the above article) or, if hell exists presently, no one is there.

  17. Thank you for ur reply. This is new to me i will pay more attention to this as i study scripture. These studies from IBS are very interesting and educational.

  18. Man, that is the way to open a can of worms where I come from. Congratulations. I think you are on to something, even though I personally need statements like Isaiah 5:14 to keep me in line. I am human and that makes me superstitious. How much superstition can I shed before I lose something essential in my humanity? If I think that I can be entertaining angels unawares…is that not superstitious? Is does no good for me to say I have faith but yours is a superstition. Superstition is a human condition that we ought to talk more about. Hell yes.

  19. You know what I think, per Daniel 12:2? We will each wake up one day without body or breath. And we will wail. And we will get what we need. Those who were merciful will find mercy, they will be picked up and kissed. Those who were unresponsive to the engrafted word in them will cry and cry until they are completely broken…in hell. Then, they too will be picked up and loved. Hell might be living the second day of Creation knowing we are there not because we loved, but because we were loved. And that is hell, learning we had it all wrong, after all.

  20. Everyone with body and breath is a commandment of God. If I break the least commandment of God with body and breath, then it means I have sinned against the commandments written on paper for our collective benefit. If we knew these truths, we would treat ourselves and other people with the dignity that comes with the name Adam. We have been given a good name. And the law for that name is the sermon on the mount. His will be done on Heaven and Earth.

    • Your reference seems to conflate Exodus 34:24 and Deuteronomy 12:20 (both of which describe Israel, not hell) with Isaiah 5:14. Though the KJV says that “hell hath enlarged herself” in Isa 5:14, the pertinent Hebrew word is שאול (Sheol), which is not the same place as hell. Sheol is the place where everyone goes after death as they await resurrection. Sheol exists; hell does not. See https://weekly.israelbiblecenter.com/happens-death-resurrection/

  21. Greetings sir. In relation to the aticle – kindly consider Ephesians 4:9 ” He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth?”. Was this to Sheol or Hades? Depending on the answer, to what ends then? Thank you.

    • Thanks for your question, Riaan. The statement likely signifies descending to the earth itself. As examples, the NIV and ESV offer slightly different translations that convey the same sense; namely, the incarnation on earth: “He also descended to the lower, earthly regions” (NIV); “He had also descended into the lower regions, the earth.”

  22. Shalom Dr. Schaser, Recently some teachings have been introduced by another ministry that claims the resurrected bodies of the dead devoted to destruction will ultimately be destroyed in lieu of the common teaching that there will be an everlasting torment. What is your take on this angle?

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