Sunday, January 8, 2012

On Hell, Part 1

In the last few years, God has given me a passion to study the Jewish roots to our faith.  It began with a simple thought, “Where does the word Easter come from?”  That simple thought changed my life.

I’ll give you the quick answer to the meaning behind the word Easter:  Babylonian Fertility Goddess.  You can easily research this yourself – it didn’t take me long to find the answer.

I discovered that when Constantine made Christianity the legal religion of the Roman Empire, he swept through and “Christianized” many pagan concepts.  Furthermore, he despised and persecuted the Jews, and made sweeping laws that rendered their Biblical celebrations illegal.  Because of this, Christianity was severed from its roots.  The reformation came and went, and these roots remained disconnected.  Today there are still many pagan aspects in the church.  Christmas.  Easter.  Sunday Sabbath.  And many more, thanks to the emperor Constantine and ancient Rome.

Remember, the entire early church was Jewish.  Jesus is the promised Jewish Messiah, born to Jewish parents in order to fulfill prophecy made by Jewish prophets.  Anyway, I digress.

Recently, I began examining my beliefs on the doctrine of hell in light of scripture.  It began when I heard a preacher say that there were four different words in scripture that were translated into the word hell.  So I looked up the word hell in the dictionary.

Let’s look at this etymology (word origin).  This is taken from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Middle English helle, from Old English; see kel- in Indo-European roots.

Word History: Hell comes to us directly from Old English hel. Because the Roman Church prevailed in England from an early date, the Roman - that is, Mediterranean - belief that hell was hot prevailed there too; in Old English hel is a black and fiery place of eternal torment for the damned. But because the Vikings were converted to Christianity centuries after the Anglo-Saxons, the Old Norse hel, from the same source as Old English hel, retained its earlier pagan senses as both a place and a person. As a place, hel is the abode of oathbreakers, other evil persons, and those unlucky enough not to have died in battle. It contrasts sharply with Valhalla, the hall of slain heroes. Unlike the Mediterranean hell, the Old Norse hel is very cold. Hel is also the name of the goddess or giantess who presides in hel, the half blue-black, half white daughter of Loki and the giantess Angrbotha. The Indo-European root behind these Germanic words is *hel-, "to cover, conceal" (so hell is the "concealed place"); it also gives us hall, hole, hollow, and helmet.

Interesting.  The word hell comes to us from pagan mythology.  I began to wonder if the whole concept of the afterlife was also borrowed from the paganism that was introduced into the church.  So I decided to carefully study the four words in scripture that are translated into the word hell. 

  • Hebrew Sheol:  This word is found 65 times in the Old Testament, with the first occurrence found in Genesis 37:35.  In the King James version it is translated “the grave” 54 percent of the time, “hell” 41.5 percent, and “the pit” 4.5 percent.  Sheol has no such meaning of future punishment, but denotes the present state of death.  It is never associated with life except as a contrast.  Sheol can therefore be understood as the state of death, or the state of the dead, of which the grave is a tangible evidence.  It will continue until, and end only with, resurrection, which is the only exit from it.  Remember the argument between the Pharisees and the Saduccees?  (They are sad, you see, because they don’t believe in the resurrection of the dead). 

  • Greek Hades:  This word occurs eleven times in the New Testament.  Like Sheol, it is always connected with the dead, not the living.  It is the Greek equivalent to the Hebrew Sheol.  Hades is a heathen word and comes down to us surrounded with heathen traditions, which had their origin in Babel and not the Bible.  These traditions have reached us through the pagan corruptions in the ancient church.

  • Greek Gehenna:  This is a transliteration of the Hebrew Ghi-Hinnom, which is the Valley of Hinnom located outside of Jerusalem.  Whoa!  A physical place on earth?   Solomon, king of Israel, built "a high place", or place of worship, for the gods Chemosh and Molech. The valley came to be regarded as a place of abomination because some of the Israelites sacrificed their children to Molech there. In a later period it was made a refuse dump and perpetual fires were maintained there to prevent pestilence.  Bodies of the wicked were cast here and burned.  The Valley of Hinnom is also the traditional location of the Potter's Field bought by priests after Judas' suicide with the "blood money" with which Judas was paid for betraying Jesus.   The fires of Gehenna were perpetual, but whatever was discarded there was eventually destroyed.  The Greek word for unquenchable actually means that the fire will not go out until that which is burning has been destroyed (an example is in Matthew 3:17 - His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”).  Jesus uses the physical place Gehenna to foreshadow the final judgment in the Lake of Fire.

  • Greek Tartarus:  Used only once in scripture, 2 Peter 2:4.  It is not the abode of men in any condition.  It is used only here, and only of the angels that sinned.

These words have different meanings, yet they all have been translated into the same word – hell.  Preachers today talk as if the word hell is the original word, and they proceed to translate those four original words according to the church’s notion of what hell is, or what they were taught in seminary.  I have recently heard two preachers say (both of whom I have great respect for, by the way) that these four words mean different chambers in hell; again, this position assumes that hell is the original word.

Look how the King James version states Revelation 20:14-15  - And death and hell (the Greek word is Hades here) were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.  And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

Huh?  Doesn’t the church believe that the lake of fire is hell?  Then how is hell (Hades) cast into it and then called the second death?  Something seems rotten in Denmark.
My next post will tackle the idea of death and destruction.  Stay tuned if you haven't written me off as a heretic yet!

Click HERE for part 2.

1 comment:

  1. The scriptures says that God's righteousness is liken unto a fire that no one and quench it out. With that in Mind, when humans follow their own human nature and desires, can this invisible fire torment them day and night? God's fire is his invisible righteousness that will burn us if we are not the doers of his word so let us be Holy for he is Holy. Please clarify me more if I'm not correct...