The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Hades, Gehenna, Tartarus, & the Abyss: Distinct but Related Compartments

Hello good folks. I’ve been analyzing what I think is a fallacy in interpretation where certain ideas are seen as mutually exclusive, when they ought not be. So, in this regard I’m not trying to suggest that I have all the right answers, merely that I (and we all) have a vital piece of the puzzle that creates the bigger picture. That being said, as much as theological labels can complicate things, my eschatological standpoint is that of an “aspiring purgatorial universalist,” for referential convenience & namesake. Now while anyone is welcome on this thread of course, it is specifically addressed to & for those who already do or would like to tackle the topic of the 4 “Hells,” in a manner which does some or all the following:

  • Affirms them as literal, intermediate holding cells that God created for spirits (man, fallen/evil spirits) inside and-or under the Earth

  • Affirms a vague implication of interconnected relationship between each distinct compartment (Hades, Gehenna, Tartaroo, the Abussos/Pit)

  • Is not dismissive of Luke 16:19-31 as being a literal story, primarily patterned after Enochian tradition (giving credibility to that & at least some other Intertestamental literature that it invokes) without divorcing it from being a symbolic parable continuing from the previous stream of parables in the previous chapters as well – so, basically not denying valid evidence from either side // Thus giving heed & bearing witness to God’s providence of multiple (though not all) interpretations of Scripture given that they are or at least can be harmonious

  • Seriously & soberly affirms the reality of the supernatural realm; essentially cautious of conflating the terms “spiritual” with “allegorical,” “physical” with “literal,” mistakenly or flippantly creating a false dichotomy between the two spectrums. Recognizes the interdependent, parallel relationship between the spiritual & physical realms; allowing for typology & figurative language to describe either (i.e. the physical Gehenna as word picture for the spiritual Gehenna) | Aside: My partial-preterist leanings see a combo of 70 A.D., the afterlife, & the LoF Judgement as all having simultaneously valid connections in Christ’s Gehenna warnings

  • Eagerly, sincerely inquisitive about Christ’s relevance & significance in eschatological judgement involving these places, equally upholding Him as both Savior & Judge

  • Etc. – To be discussed as the thread expands

I think this verse refers to Satan, not our loving God:

But I will warn you whom you should fear. Fear him, who after he has killed, has power to cast into Gehinnom. Yes, I tell you, fear him. Luke 12:5 (HNV)

I think that when unbelievers die, having never accepted their “Get Out Of Jail Free” card from Christ, they remain under the dominion of the legalist Satan, as POWs in Hades.

My current understanding is that Gehenna = Hades, and is a prison which will one day be cast into the remedial, temporary /aionios /age-during lake of fire.

Further, my understanding is that the grave used to have two compartments, Paradise for believers, and Hades for the unrighteous; but that since the resurrection and ascension of Christ, it just consists of Hades.

Here is some of my reasoning—

That before the New Covenant, the righteous at death went below to Paradise, not above to heaven (with the exceptions of Enoch and Elijah):

1 Samuel 28:10-15 (NIV)
10 Saul swore to her by the Lord, “As surely as the Lord lives, you will not be punished for this.”
11 Then the woman asked, “Whom shall I bring up for you?”
Bring UP Samuel,” he said.
12 When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out at the top of her voice and said to Saul, “Why have you deceived me? You are Saul!”
13 The king said to her, “Don’t be afraid. What do you see?”
The woman said, “I see a ghostly figure coming up out of the earth.”
14 “What does he look like?” he asked.
“An old man wearing a robe is coming up,” she said.
Then Saul knew it was Samuel, and he bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground.
15 Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?”
“I am in great distress,” Saul said. “The Philistines are fighting against me, and God has departed from me. He no longer answers me, either by prophets or by dreams. So I have called on you to tell me what to do.”

That the grave consisted of two compartments before Christ’s resurrection and ascension:

Luke 16:22-26 (NIV)
22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’
25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot , nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’"

Again, that Paradise was formerly below, not above:

Luke 23:40-43 (NKJV)
40 But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.”42 Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”
43 And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, TODAY you will be with Me in Paradise.”

That the location of Paradise changed with the ascension of Jesus:

Ephesians 4:8
“When he ascended on high he led a host of captives.” (ESV)

2 Corinthians 12:3-4 (NKJV)
3 And I know such a man—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— 4 how he was caught UP into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

1 Like

So Hermano, I’m virtually in agreement with almost everything you’ve said. However, my only inquiry is concerning your understanding of the God; it sounds relative to Marcionism. I’m curious as to why you think Luke 12:5 refers to Satan rather than God? Matt. 25:41 seems to endorse the view that the fire [of Hades/Gehenna/LoF] was prepared for the Devil and his messengers – implying that God created it & that through Christ is the One who the authority to cast folks into it.

It sounds like you endorse a Ransom/Christus Victor Theory of the Atonement which is defensible, although I don’t believe that’s incompatible with the Penal Substitutionary Theory of the Atonement either. There are many dimensions to the Crucifixion & consequently the Scriptures at large.

According to Wikipedia, “Marcionists believed that the wrathful Hebrew God was a separate and lower entity than the all-forgiving God of the New Testament.”

Whereas I believe the God of the Hebrews is the same person as the God of the Christians; but that the Hebrew prophets did not have the same revelation about God’s true nature, given by the indwelling Holy Spirit, that Christians enjoy. And that whenever anyone misattributes evil to God, they are confusing God with the devil (about whom the Hebrews were very ignorant).

As I say, I see a distinction between Hades/Gehenna and the subsequent lake of fire. We know Hades/Gehenna will eventually be cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:14). But I think the lake of fire is ‘the fire that was prepared for the devil and his angels,’ not Hades/Gehenna. The lake of fire is aionios (age-during), and remedial, and God will one day throw people in there, for their good. But the current Hades/Gehenna is a POW camp for sinners, under the dominion of Satan; and the legalist Satan throws people into Hades, not God, as seen in Luke 12:5.

I think Jesus took the keys of death and Hell (Revelation 1:18) from Satan. YET Satan still postures as the ruler of "the gates of Hell”—against whom Jesus said His Church would "prevail” (Mt. 16:18)—continuing to do so with impunity…apparently because of people’s ignorance of Christ’s victory, and the Church’s negligence of Christ’s victory.

When people choose to live by works, instead of grace and faith, they put themselves in bondage to legalism, and Satan is still quite happy to punish those folks when they inevitably fail, both in life, and in death.

During His earthly ministry Jesus functioned under the Old Covenant of the Law. He did not break the Law, He fulfilled the Law.

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill [plēroō] them. Mt. 5:17.

Jesus indeed fulfilled the Law FOR US:

plēroō: “after, be complete, end, expire, fill up” (Strong’s), “so that nothing shall be wanting” (Thayer’s).

Jesus rescued us from that terrible Mosaic interruption that robbed people of the blessings of the Abrahamic covenant, blessings that come by faith, not by works. As James pointed out about the mother of all technicalities in the Mosaic Law:

Whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. Js. 2:10.

Satan is the legalist, not God.

Revelation 12:9-10 says that Satan, "who deceives the whole world,” is “the accuser of our brethren” who “accused them before our God day and night.”

The devil still greedily takes his pound of flesh from the ignorant and the misguided, even though he was defeated and disarmed at the cross.

Again, Jesus rescued us from that terrible Mosaic “hiccup.” Joseph Prince addresses that horrendous exchange of covenants (from Abrahamic to Mosaic) by the Jews in Destined To Reign:

Study the Bible yourself. You’ll find that every time the children of Israel murmured and complained [before Mount Sinai], it only brought forth fresh demonstrations of God’s favor, supply and goodness. Why? Because during that period, the blessings and provisions they received were not dependent on their obedience or goodness. They were dependent on God’s goodness and faithfulness to the Abrahamic covenant, which was a covenant of grace.

The Exchange Of Covenants At Mount Sinai

Then, something tragic happened right at the foot of Mount Sinai. In Exodus 19:8, your English Bible says that the people cried out to Moses, saying, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do.” In the original Hebrew text, this is actually a statement of pride. They were saying, “All that God requires and demands of us, we are well able to perform.” In other words, they were saying, “God, stop assessing or blessing us based on Your goodness. Start assessing, judging and blessing us based on our obedience.” So they effectively exchanged covenants, from the Abrahamic covenant which is based on grace, to the Sinaitic covenant which is based on the law.

I’m having to wonder then Hermano how you believe, according to the Scriptures, any of the places we translate as “Hell” came into existence, if not from God? Maybe you do believe God created it but somehow Satan usurped or was even given legal authority from God to cast people into it himself (after Adam fell)? If that’s the case I’m curious what scriptures you used to support it. Nonetheless, you still have the problem of God sanctioning it and presuming that He created it, the inconsistency need not start anywhere but there. You’ll be hard pressed to dispute who created Hell. You may have more ground to cover since you believe God merely created the Lake of Fire as a purely purificatory method yet somehow Gehenna and Hades are referring to the same intermediate place, and only being for vindictive torment from Satan and his team? Who made those rules (notwithstanding who made the territory in the first place)?

I know you represent the position (somewhat like Marcion) that some OT scriptures written about God and quotes within them that God allegedly said are a matter of deciphering whether or not Satan deceived Israel by sowing tares among the scribes and the mouths of the prophets – essentially causing them to misquote, misunderstand, or outright lie about what God said and did. So I’m sure that some of the answers you have will be based upon that premise of the Devil whispering in the OT saints’ ears, meanwhile, God allowing that to happen for the purpose of contrast, under the pretense of progressive revelation.

To be fair, it’s a challenge to find indisputable proof of the creation of any of the “Hells” specifically (save a few about Gehenna in the NT such as Matt. 25:41 which overtly contradicts your claim of the Devil ruling over Gehenna since it was created for him and his angels). The Canon, at most, has implications about the Netherregions’ existence but not too much on their formation. As ethereal as the topic is, there are arguably more explicit statements on the origins of Hell in the Apocryphal / Psuedipigraphal texts – many plainly stating that it was created (prepared even) before man, and in some sense, prior to the creation of the heavenly hosts. Tartarus – in its verb form “Tartaroo” – is said to be where/how the fallen Watchers (those who Jude said “left their first estate”) were thrust. They’re locked down in “chains of darkness” there along with the worst among their demon offspring via their escapades in Genesis 6 after they were cast down there by God. It just doesn’t say when He was created it per se but it implies that it He has been and will continue overseeing it till the Last Judgement.

Funnily enough some non-canonical texts put forth the idea that there are certain angels (whether holy or evil; it’s a tad unclear) that are delegated to supplement Hades’ / Gehenna’s fiery punishment by administering extremely graphic tortures for the souls so I guess you can run a mile with that one lol. The Book of Enoch and the Apocalypse of Peter are two that come to mind with that same theme but the only difference is that that the AoP interprets these punishments as not only retributive but restorative, measured with the hope of salvation through Christ after the last penny is paid. The Shepherd of Hermas also supports the idea of angels punishing men but like the AoP, with the intent of making them repent.

I think there’s merit to the idea that the “chaotic abyss” or “formless void” in Genesis, originated during an Eon that pre-dated God’s creation (or perhaps recreation) of Earth. It was wrought due to an earlier wave of angelic rebellion, denoting a cataclysm that caused God to refashion the Abyss deep under the Earth the 2nd time around. The demons, offspring spirits of the ancient Nephilim, didn’t want to “go back” there so as to say they’d been there before. Whether it’s meant to be understood as interchangeable with Tartarus as Hades is with Gehenna is unclear. Ultimately all 4 of the “Hell’s” appear to be connected on some level with Earth being the halfway house they each have locations in (within, around, or beneath).

As I see it, these are not “compartments” but different destinations.

  1. I see “Gehenna” as tantamount to “The Lake of Fire” and is the destination of those who die without repenting, and who require correction by means of God’s “fire” which cleans the person, “burning up” all the dross.

  2. “Hades” is simply the grave or the place of the dead. The exception is found in Luke 16:23, but that is but a parable based on a common concept of the afterlife.

  3. “Tartarus” is found in only one place— 2 Peter 2:4, and in this context refers only to the destination of fallen angels.

1 Like

Thanks Paidion. Respectfully, we’ll have to agree to disagree on the aspect of Sheol / Hades simply being the grave and here’s why:

· I think the OT’s Hebrew “queber” (spelling varies) and it’s NT Greek equivalent “mnemeion” account for physical graves including sepulchres and other burial structures of that sort in the Ancient Near East – both communal and individual. Now the liberty that some take to interpret or translate Sheol / Hades as “the grave” whether literally or poetically is at their discretion and is certainly understandable but as some of us assess, “the grave” may not be the most accurate term to render them or convey their truest, nuanced meaning. Truly, I’d agree with you more if you said Sheol / Hades is “the unseen” which even then to me denotes an unseen realm of existence to the physical eye, least God enable it otherwise.

· The idea of an intermediate state, although disputuable, is a concept that has some merit in the Scripture. No, I don’t endorse the idea of an “eternal” soul (I think “extra-temporal” may be better suited to aptly describe the longevity of man’s “inner parts”) but I think there’s evidence, Biblical and otherwise, that man has a part of him – what we refer to as the “soul” and/or “spirit,” used interchangeably at times – which survives physical death. I have a portion of an article from The Berean Bible Society website that gives more insight on this perspective if you’d like to view and dissect that.

To your first point, I’d like to say that we agree for the most part. My hope gleaned from study of the Writ is indeed that the fires of Gehenna and/or the Lake of Fire are not only destructive or retributive (I’m not sure that you’ll agree that God enacts vengeance there or on Earth); and yet that it posesses a stark element of purgation necessary for correction and godly fear – “the terror of Yahweh”, so to speak – which leads to eventual repentance.

To clarify for others (pardon me the length of this comment), I have argued elsewhere that “Gehenna is Hades,” and that one day in the future, after the Final Judgment, Gehenna/Hades and its occupants will be cast into the remedial, temporary, lake of fire—which is the second death, that is, the death of death.

To the best of my current understanding, I believe God created these prisons:

-hell/Sheol/Hades/Gehenna for unrepentant humans,
-the Abyss/Tartarus for certain fallen angels,
-and the lake of fire for after Judgment, for all fallen angels, together with all unrepentant humans.

As to who makes the rules for them, I am sure God has faithful angels keeping certain notorious demonic beings prisoner inside the Abyss/Tartarus under lock and key, because of his mercy on us.

But I believe those humans now residing in hell/Sheol/Hades/Gehenna are POW’s under the dominion of Satan in death, even as they were in life; however, I believe there are restrictions on the devil by our merciful God as to what he can do to them in death. But those people are suffering terribly there, and better to lose an eye or a hand than go there!

But note: the correction, repentance, and deliverance of all rebels will come later, in the divine lake of fire, after Judgment.

We know the devil is a captor:

2 Timothy 2:25-26 (NIV)
25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth,
26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

2 Corinthians 4:4
The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

(Similarly, his servant the Antichrist will also be an imprisoner: Habakkuk 1:15-17.)

Regarding scriptural support for the idea of the legalistic devil exercising some measure of control over Gehenna-Hades at present, I said in “Gehenna is Hades”:

Also, in the following comment to Paidion in another thread, I clarified that prior to the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ, Sheol/hell/Gehenna/Hades originally had two chambers—one for the righteous dead, and one for sinners—but that now it houses only one chamber for those who die as unrepentant sinners:

marcthedawn also said,

But…I disagree that Gehenna was created for the devil and his angels. I believe the lake of fire was created for them. The lake of fire comes after Judgment; and the beast, the false prophet, the devil and his angels, all the damned, and Hades itself will be cast into it (Rev. 20:10-15). Hence, I believe the following verse refers to the lake of fire, not Gehenna/Hades:

Matthew 25:41
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal [YLT “age-during”] fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

The devil will not be calling any more shots in the lake of fire.

Again, I believe God the Teacher is the maker of the prisons of Sheol and Tartarus and the Abyss (even for the safety of the living). Apparently Sheol (a.k.a. Hades, hell, Gehenna) is for humans, the righteous of whom had to remain “prisoners of hope” in the Paradise compartment below UNTIL the shedding of Christ’s blood—

Zechariah 9:8-12 (NIV)
8 But I will encamp at my temple to guard it against marauding forces. Never again will an oppressor overrun my people, for now I am keeping watch.

The Coming of Zion’s King

9 Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
10 I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the warhorses from Jerusalem, and the battle bow will be broken. He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.
11 As for you, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will free your prisoners from the waterless pit.
12 Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.

—whereas the Abyss (including deepest Tartarus) is for those “special case” fallen angels who “abandoned” their first and proper estate as per this absolutely astonishing story:

Genesis 6:1-4 (NIV)

Wickedness in the World

1 When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them,
2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose.
3 Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal [or corrupt]; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.”
4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.

Jude 6-7 (NIV)
6 And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day.
7 In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion [KJV “and going after strange flesh,” καὶ ἀπελθοῦσαι ὀπίσ σαρκὸς ἑτέρας]. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal [YLT age-during] fire.

2 Peter 2:4 (YLT)
For if God messengers [angels] who sinned did not spare, but with chains of thick gloom, having cast them down to Tartarus, did deliver them to judgment, having been reserved [guarded],

—and very unfortunately, it would appear that some (all?!) of the special case fallen angels now in the Abyss will be freed from their prison in the future, when wickedness comes to its final fullness; for example:

Revelation 9:1-3 (NIV)
9 The fifth angel sounded his trumpet, and I saw a star [Lucifer] that had [already] fallen from the sky to the earth. The star was given the key to the shaft of the Abyss.
2 When he opened the Abyss, smoke rose from it like the smoke from a gigantic furnace. The sun and sky were darkened by the smoke from the Abyss.
3 And out of the smoke locusts came down on the earth and were given power like that of scorpions of the earth.

And even other fallen angels who have been kept bound, will be unleashed by mankind’s crescendo of rebellion and the consequences of rejecting God and choosing to worship the dragon instead:

Revelation 9:14-15 (NIV)

14 It said to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.”
15 And the four angels who had been kept ready for this very hour and day and month and year were released to kill a third of mankind.

1 Like

My friend I must say, that all of your points are thorough and rich and while I’m at odds with your conclusion, as it stands you’ve made a solid case for why you believe what you do and I applaud you for doing that ever so gracefully. I’ll read your links when I get a chance to further expand my understanding of your interpretation.

The prophecy you listed in Zechariah 9:8-12 just goes to show how dual fulfillment / correlative layers of interpretation are plausible and in many cases inevitable. Of course when you consider that all of the OT was to be a predicated on Christ’s future birth, life, death, and resurrection, then I suppose you’ve cracked a few codes by acknowledging that alone. An Abraham’s Bosom reference in the OT?! I’m pleasantly surprised and am glad to have been enlightened on that since I’ve never seen it before! Extremely cool! :innocent:

So we agree that at least then that there is an intermediate state (sorry @Paidion lol :wink:) and God created all 4 Hells including the Lake of Fire. So my question then is this: If God created Hades / Gehenna… and if according to your view, He’s not a God who uses any kind of retributive judgement… how and why did He create interdimensional holding cells for any beings, let alone man? If G&H, as you state, is a spiritual facility where Satan and some of his crew has been given even limited authority to torment man, how is God not ultimately complicit for making Hell in the first place (then giving his enemies the A-OK to do a Job number on them on top of the fire He’s already provided to be there… His purpose for it all is unclear if He has no hand in their torment)? To be clear, I don’t have an issue with God tormenting or allowing torment via Satanic agents per se but only how it’s consistent with your worldview.

Why did not also Peter in 1 Pet. 4:4-7 take the time to enlighten his Hebrew audience (familiar with the Flood narrative in the Tanakh) and Gentile audience (who I’m sure had their own version of the Flood story) that this apparently wasn’t a work of God but of Satan? And if you believe like I do that the Flood was enacted primarily to clear the gene pool from the Nephilim who later became demon spirits then what was Satan’s purpose in killing his kinsmens’ children rather than letting them continue wreaking havoc on the Earth?

I’m willing to concede that maybe Christ could have been talking about Satan in Matt. 10:26-31 but even then God was still the One who made Gehenna and without His sovereign approval, the Devil shouldn’t even be able to tip-toe around it (or even burn any garbage in the actual Valley of Hinnom for that matter lol). Plus, I think the thematic context of the chapter indicates God, the Father is the One who can destroy the body and soul in Gehenna (to me it echoes the polar duality of God’s attributes which are nonetheless harmonious in the grand scheme of His sovereign plan and will – i.e. Job 1:21 × Deut. 32:39). God gives and takes away; He kills and makes alive because He has the authority AND power over life – being Life Himself and death because all are depedent upon Him for life anyway so without Him actively sustaining us all, we’d die by default > > not to mention our births and deaths are all foreknown to Him. God-in-Christ has conquered Death and the Hades, unlike man or angelic powers. Christ came giving life and will bring much death at his 2nd return via Revelation : Good thing it doesn’t stop there :slight_smile: You’ve still got a slew of texts that indicate vengeance, vindication in some form of another enacted by the Father – plenty in the OT, wholly endorsed by the Son who Himself will be slaying many via future judgments, and the Holy Spirit who has had a field day or two (we see what happened Ananias & Sapphira).

I understand the Apostles weren’t perfect but if they’ve got more revelation then the OT saints, you’d think they of all people (at least later in their ministry) wouldn’t be going around preaching, casting out devils, performing miracles, speaking in foreign tongues, teaching, writing letters to the assemblies they set up, etc. all under the unction of the Holy Spirit if God somehow failed to clarify Himself to them (for their sake, the ekklesia’s sake, and future believers’ sake). According to your view, it seems mighty risky for God to have continued to allow that kind of error with the official representatives of He and His Son’s campaign that late in the game, don’tcha think? I’m not sure you can wiggle your way outta that one by chalking it up to “seeing in a glass darkly.” Paul had more revelation than them and he clearly had some things to say about the vengeance of God and Christ (as well!).

I’ll give the benefit of the doubt that since Satan is the “god of this age / world” that in a [Christus Victor-esque] sense, he could temporarily be given restricted access to those in H&G. What’re your thoughts on the Book of Job and the insight it gives on God’s interaction with both the divine council (including fallen principalities)?

Veering off for a bit, I’d have to say that in ironic retrospection, that Matt. 10:28 is probably one of the best prooftexts for conditionalism / annihilationism in general (and especially conditionalists of the dualistic variety due to the body-soul distinction listed here). That bring said, due to Gehenna being the term used instead of Hades, and due to both body and soul being destroyed, I’m curious how this doesn’t by chance refer to the Lake of Fire :confused:. Of course traditionalists and other fellow purgatorial universalists may have a harder time making sense of why this isn’t referring to the intermediate state.

Still, I suppose if your Biblical anthropology is either bipartite or tripartite then we may get away with saying it’s some other figure of speech (And based on E.W. Bullinger’s “Figures of speech used in the Bible” there are A TON!) to somehow literally describe what happens to a perishing soul/spirit-body after death, albeit temporarily. The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus may be used to express some implication that the soul/spirit apart from the Earthly body, has its own “nervous system” so to speak lol – to say that it contains both a mirror of our former sensory experiences and a preview of what awaits when the body and soul/spirit reunify in the Resurrections. This takes into account the presumption that the intensity of our Earthly senses is heightened in the intermediate state and will be much more vivid after the Resurrections, by the time of the Last Judgment, for better or worse. Whaddaya say?

@JasonPratt - sir, how I’ve missed your integral presence on here and oft-ignored insights! I understand you’re busy with life and its lingering lessons but for what it’s worth, I hope all is well, Doc. I’m still reading old posts of yours to catch the depth of your treatises and listening to the old TEUS webshow lectures and patiently await the days you may be able to do some individual video lectures, formal, informal, doesn’t even matter! Lol I’d like to say thank you for all your contributions. Whenever you’re available, I must ask: what say ye?

I think the more eminent Universalists from times past reflect a far more balanced understanding of Gehenna that seems lost in more contemporary times. Check out these quotes reflecting a far more fulfilled prophetic perception. Consider the words of John Wesley Hanson in his Bible Threatenings Explained


And… deferring to the work of prominent universalist Thomas Baldwin Thayer in his Theology of Universalism, this…

Death, Second. – Rev. 2:11; 20:6, 14; 21:8. The primary meaning of second death in the Scriptures is the second destruction of the Jewish nation. The first death was the captivity. But “by accommodation” we may say that those who awaken out of sin, after having died in trespasses and sins, and then relapse, have died a second death. The language, however, literally refers to the second vastation of the Jews, after their first national death which was in the Babylonish captivity, and the second when Jerusalem was destroyed. But it was also applied to those who had once been aroused from moral death, and again died in trespasses and sins. There is no propriety in applying it to endless torment.

John Wesley Hanson: A Pocket Cyclopaedia: Brief Explanations of Religious Terms as Understood by Universalists

And there is sooo much more in a similar vein from these 18th—19th century Universalists that is IMO worth more consideration.

1 Like

Hmmm. Interesting position Davo and thanks for your comments. Those are some very considerable points about 70 A.D. and I think I can concisely address all of your reference points by saying that while I believe that some of the prophecies Christ made [using Gehenna as a symbol] were certainly, literally, about the Destruction of Jerusalem, that they weren’t all regarding that.

Noteworthy it is that many 18th-19th century Christian universalists held to the view you espouse and I give much an ode of homage, for example, to the contributions of E.W. Bullinger and A.E. Knoch although I don’t agree with everything they’ve put forth. As I’m sure you’re aware, there were a handful of 18th-19th century CU’s who did interpret some of the texts about Gehenna as referring to either post-mortem and/or Last Judgement imagery.

If I had to pick a label, I’d say partial-preterism is the best eschatological view that can account for dual and multiple fulfillments of prophecy which can and has happened in Scripture. If you’d like we can get into the specifics. Cheers.

1 Like

The problem with partial-prêterism as I came to see it (I was one for 10yrs), was this view of prophecy in terms of “multiply fulfillmentsbeyond the biblical narrative where it only became natural to ask… “how many times does prophecy get fulfilled before it is actually fulfilled and thus realised?” — such simply becomes an endless loop according to the next theory or timetable espoused.

This is what western Christendom has done… it has led us think metaphorically about simple time statements while at the same time then think very literally about symbolic metaphors; it’s totally backward.

I empathize with that concern. If I may split hairs a bit, I must say that both preterists and futurists argue for multiple fulfillments of prophecy or layers of interpretation. As I understand it, where many futurists parts ways with preterism altogether is by mostly or completely denying or minimizing the impact 70 A.D. had as a qualifying event. They don’t see much of 70 A.D. as correlating with themes present in Christ’s (or OT prophets’) warnings versus the grander scale of supposed current and future apocalyptic events more clearly fitting the bill.

That being said, preterism to futurism is all a spectrum so no two horses will gallop alike on everything but under close evaluation, it’s apparently attested to that Hebrew mindset was ripe and familiar with the suspenseful uncertainty that came with viewing time as cyclical. While time had a somewhat linear aspect in their view, it was mostly circular per “olam” in the OT (corresponding with “aion” or “age” in the NT) which denoted things being “over the horizon” rather than “eternal” as it is often translated in English.

We know on a basic level, that multiple fulfillment / hidden meanings are there as evidenced by the NT’s quoting of OT prophecies in relation to events surrounding Christ (even ones that’d been fulfilled before or within in the lifespan of the original authors). Matt. 2:13-23 is a good example of this. Where your and many others’ dilemma comes in is what registers as the redundant – and by extension, exploitable – nature of those events. Harold Camping may ring a bell for some of us. I’d say that this can be seen as a con for partial-preterism and futurism. This does cross the bridge of conversation about inerrancy, infallibilty, and inexhaustibility of Scripture, with emphasis on whether or not we understand God’s words to be “alive” (Heb. 4:12).

1 Like

Nowhere does the Bible identify Gehenna with the Lake of fire. Hades is also different than the Lake of fire. People have identified the Lake of fire with the Dead Sea. This is the analogy. Sulfur was used to purify and ward of disease. We are baptized in the lake of fire. This isn’t Hades or Gehenna. They are connected but different:

@hollytree Now to be clear I don’t take a side in the debate of whether Hades / Gehenna / LoF are interchangeable and in fact I’d tend to agree with you that they are separate, related but distinct. For sake of discussion with @Hermano I’ve suspended disbelief to somewhat entertain the idea that they could be referring to the same concepts in the NT, based upon context. There apparently is record of Hellenistic Jews at the time such as the Pharisees using Hades and Gehenna interchangeably / interconnectedly. I want to say that Josephus states this.

I’m of the vein that thinks Ernest L. Martin and others have merit connecting the Dead Sea (geographically proximal to Sodom & Gomorrha who “suffered the vengeance of age-during fire”) to the LoF based on historical context. As I understand, Dr. Martin was a monist, not believing man possessed either a soul or spirit so his position on Hades was by default that it simply means “the grave,” dismissing the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus or any references to people going there as simply allegoric illustration. I don’t agree with that part.

I at the very least believe Gehenna and the LoF are connected based on Last Judgement imagery but I’m wondering what your view is concerning Gehenna more so than any of the other “Hell” words.

When Jesus used the word “Gehenna” He was referring to the valley outside Jerusalem. During the “Days of Vengeance” in 70 AD is what is referred to. Jerusalem and the Gehenna are still there today. The New Jerusalem is in a figurative or spiritual context. The Lake of fire is outside the new Jerusalem and this gives it a Spiritual or figurative context. The “Days of Vengeance” ended in 70 AD. The lake of fire and sulfur is a place of baptism. The words for fire and sulfur mean to purify. Divine Incense. We die to self and are resurrected to new life. Ego Death.

1 Like

I might also add that the Aramaic Targums predating Christ speak of Isaiah 66 for example (one of the more notable OT chapters slated containing prophecies about Gehenna) in a post-mortem / post-resurrection judgement context.

With that out the bag, including the facts you’ve presented, that’s a valid way to read the text especially considering the history surrounding Gehenna but I don’t think it’s the only way considering… well other history surrounding Gehenna lol. Is what I’m saying reasonable?

Unless you can give me a scripture that says the Lake of Fire is Gehenna then the only option is to take the Lake of fire as a spiritual/figurative reality. The earthly Jerusalem has an earthly Gehenna. It’s still there today. Jewish commentaries say this was a place of penal judgment along with purification. The New Jerusalem and Lake of Fire is a completely different context than the earthly Jerusalem and earthly Gehenna of Jesus time. It wasn’t until years after 70 AD that scholars started saying Gehenna was a figure for Judgment in the afterlife.