The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Jesus talks about hell? What is it for?

Hello there, I am new to the forum today! I love the book the shack and kruger’s the shack revisited! I am searching and praying for truth! My question is who or what is hell for that Jesus refers to in the New Testament? Sorry if this has already been discussed. Thank you, Dee

Hi, Dee! I moved your thread to a more specific category, since your question wasn’t really about “help using the forum”. :wink:

A discussion of the purpose of hell would be eschatology, one way or another, so here we are. :ugeek: (But I left a shadow topic to help you find the thread again.)

Some of us think (for various reasons) that Jesus doesn’t talk about hell at all; others of us think He talks about hell but it has nothing to do with punishment in this life and/or in the next; some of us think hell only applies to this life (as punishment or not), and not after death in any way; others of us think it applies after death but not necessarily as punishment… {inhale!} and then others of us, myself included, think Jesus talks about hell quite often and that it does involve punishment including after death.

I don’t recall offhand where The Shack falls in that mix. But I wanted you to know you’re likely to get a big mix of replies, or that if it happens that only one or two of us reply others of us may disagree pretty strongly with that reply. :slight_smile:

(Also, for administration purposes, please don’t be alarmed if it takes a few posts from you before the system automatically lets you through. That’s an anti-spam measure, every new member goes through it, just be patient: the ad/mods try to check the spamcatcher once a day or so, but there could be random delays. It isn’t you, if so, it’s us. :slight_smile: )

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Anyway, on to my answer: I think Jesus explains the purpose of hell (more specifically the purpose of the unquenchable fire, “the fire the eonian”, in what He’s calling Gehenna, the hell of lamentation) at Mark 9:49-50. The fire is the same fire that salts everyone, and everyone gets salted, the purpose being to lead us to be at peace with one another by having the salt of that fire in our heart. The only difference is in how people respond to the fire, working with it or against it. It’s the baptism of the Holy Spirit either way, but working against the Holy Spirit results in inconveniences to say the least. :wink:

That’s an overly short answer; a lot more could be said on the topic. For example, I’d argue that this is directly related to where Jesus explains the purpose of being given judgment over those being raised to judgment in the resurrection, at John 5: so that all may be honoring the Son and the Father, which includes those who don’t currently honor the Son or the Father (namely those being raised to judgment instead of to life from God; but when they come to honor the Son and the Father they come out of judgment and into eonian life.) I’d also argue this is directly related to some things Jesus says much later in GosJohn, especially at the start of chapter 17, where the Father has given all things to the Son so that the Son may be giving eonian life to all things the Father has given Him. Several chapters earlier, Jesus even indicates that the judgment of God is itself eonian life! – but of course it makes a big difference whether people are accepting or rejecting eonian life and so also accepting or rejecting God’s judgment. But the purpose of God’s judgement shall not fail, only be delayed in its accomplishment as He sees fit to get all His purposes accomplished as soon as feasibly possible.

A lot more could be said on that topic, too. :slight_smile: But as I said, not everyone here agrees with all of that (though some who disagree on points may agree on other points), so others may wish to offer what they think are better explanations. You can find some more detailed notes on those ideas archived here; and some video lectures putting those notes together in various ways here. (But the lectures can be rather long, and somewhat winding. :wink: The last episode of season 1 summarizes the previous lectures in a systematic way, if that’s helpful; it’s still about 2 hours 15 minutes, but it covers a ton of Gospel material. More to come next season.)

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When Jesus spoke of hell(as translated in the KJV),as people commonly understand it, He ws using the word Gehenna. Gehenna - the valley of Hinnom, was the place where the Israelites in backslidden days had burned their children to Baal and Molloch.

Josiah, the great reformer king, broke down the altars of the Baals there and burned the bones of the priests of Baal and made it a refuse heap where garbage was burned… Jewish tradition has it that it burned continually as a refuse dump, but there is no scripture to prove that.

The main thing is… when Jesus spoke to the Pharisees about Gehenna he was speaking in terms they were very familiar with. he was telling them that their brand of religion was a mixture of idolatrous garbage and their works were worthless and going to be burned- and that He was going to remove their priesthood, “Now the axe is laid to the root of the trees”, “I will thoroughly purge my threshing floor, I will separate the wheat from the chaff, i will burn the chaff with unquenchable fire”

Every grain of wheat has chaff. God winnows each of us on the threshing floor of life and separates the hard casing of chaff so that He can gather the wheat for use…
The chaff is burned up…consumed… Our God is a consuming fire. In revelations Jesus’ eyes are as flames of fire. The eye is the light off the soul…

Jesus sees the secrets of mens hearts “I am He that tries the reigns and the hearts”… He weighs them, He separates them, He purges AND CLEANSES them…

Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13** each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work**. 14 If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. 15If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, but as as through fire.

Paul explains this pretty clearly here. Gehenna is typologically the place where the idols of selfish ambition and works of religious pride and self glory get burned up as refuse.

When Jesus spoke of aionian pyr(everlasting fire) and aionian kolassis(everlasting correction) or “the fire prepared for the devil and his angels”(like in Matthew 25)- which I believe is the “lake of fire”(Rom 20:14)… again, He is not speaking of eternal torment, but a typological place, or spiritual symbol for an experience where the fire of God purges, Overwhelming Light as fire to consume the darkness in each soul, until “everything that is hidden shall be brought to light”, until every knee bows and every tongue confesses.

In Hebrew thought the word translated everlasting fire would be “olam esh” (olam fire). Olam is the Hebrew root for the Greek aion. Olam is an unknown time period, “beyond the horizon”.

It carries the sense of being defined in some measure by the subject it is attached to, in over 450 occurences in the OT it can mean the far distant past, the far distant future, the length of a persons life, the “other side”, or endless unkowable duration(in reference to God).

Jesus being Hebrew, expressing His thought, “olam esh”, is speaking of the purging of the “other world” or “age to come”. He is not saying “burned forever in torment”, but is speaking of “many stripes or few” as deserved, or rather, as needed to bring repentence, until every knee is bowed(Phil 2:9-11; 1 Cor 15:22-28). And the nature of these stripes? this fire?

In my opinion it is being held before those eyes that will penetrate down to the secrets of the heart and those words that will divide asunder soul and spirit, bone and marrow, and make manifests the thoughts and intentions of the heart(Heb 4:12-14), “on the Day when God judges the secrets of men’s hearts through Jesus Christ”(Rom 1)

I Corinthians 15:28 says, 25 For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be abolished is death. 27 For He has put all things in subjection under His feet. But when He says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him. 28 When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all.

If every adversary is subjected, and the last enemy to be subjected is death, and then God will be all in all, the how can the second death be eternal torment in “hell”? Remember Jesus said, “I tell you mysteries hidden from the foundation of the world” and He quoted Isaiah “That seeing they will not perceive and hearing they will not understand”…

Books could be written and have been lol… I am just throwin out a few things to chew on, because a slight change of perspective can open new pathways of investigation and discovery. peace.