by Greg Little
The Jews did not believe in a place of eternal torment or torture; consequently, hell is not mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, which is essentially the Old Testament.
Seems rather odd that nowhere in Genesis did God warn His creation of an everlasting torturous experience for the wicked.
Could He have thought of it as insignificant?
Now in the Old Testament in the KJV Bible, the word “hell” occurs 31 times.
All 31 of those times, the word translated “hell” is the Hebrew word “sheol.”
While the English word “hell” has connotations as a place of punishment for the condemned, sheol does not have such connotations.
Sheol simply refers to the abode of the dead in general, NOT particularly the place of the punishment for the wicked.
All throughout my youth and beyond, I’ve seen untold numbers of “King James Version” Bibles.
I grew up thinking this King James must have been a truly great man and devout follower of Christ.
Several years ago, I had great difficulty imagining a loving god preparing a place of eternal torture for those He loved.
I thought, “Really, Adolph Hitler was the embodiment of evil, but his plans were not as bad as hell, which was supposedly planned by a loving god.”
So, I began to research. My research led me to King James.
It is well documented that he believed in witchcraft; so much so, that he wrote a book on witchcraft prior to having his interpreters translate his version of the Bible.
He also oversaw the torture of women…but that’s a story for another day.
Hell is mentioned in the New Testament 23 times but it’s never mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles.
We have countless street preachers warning people about eternal damnation; yet, the first street preachers in Acts NEVER mentioned it.
Very little is mentioned of hell until the Book of Revelation, which was written 40 years after the crucifixion.
It was written by the Apostle John.
He wrote it when he was about 92 years old, while a prisoner of Rome on the remote desert penal colony of Patmos — an island in the Aegean Sea.
Some may refer to verses, such as John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave his only son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”
Hey, I’m all for it. You can count me in, but “perish” does not mean being put on a slow burn for all eternity.
Some may also mention Romans 6:23, “The wages of sin is death…”
Well, nothing about being cooked here too.
Besides, by “death,” Paul was referring to a spiritual death…not a physical death.
Most Christians do not even know there are major differences between all the English Bible translations.
Most do not know there are many translations that do NOT contain the concept of a hell as an eternal punishment.
Here are a few of them: Young’s Literal; Rotherham’s Emphasized; Weymouth’s N.T. in Modern Speech; Concordant Literal N.T.; 20th Century N.T., and many more.
Most do not take seriously hundreds of scriptures which plainly state that when Jesus is finished with His work on earth, He will “reconcile all things unto Himself…whether in heaven or earth.” (Col. 1:20)
Greg Little holds a Ph.D. in Adult Continuing Education from the University of Southern Mississippi.