Spiritual Realms (Gehenna)

This entry is part 12 of 20 in the series Spiritual Realms

Gehenna

The Term

Gehenna is a Greek term, yet it comes to the Greek from the combination of two Hebrew terms, Gei and Hinnom.

Gei Hinnom literally means “the Valley of Hinnom.”

·         The Valley of Hinnom

o   Location:  The Valley of Hinnom is outside the walls of Jerusalem, along the west side of the wall going down to the southern side, where it meets up with the Kidron Valley, coming from the East side of the city.

o   Pertinence to Jerusalem

§  Gehenna was Jerusalem’s trash dump

·         All manner of refuse was thrown there

·         A fire burned there continually, partly because it was nursed along, and partly because of the methane generated from the heap

·         Dead bodies also were thrown here, both of animals and criminals with no proper burial choices

·         In short, Gehenna was a place of enduring destruction of the refuse of Jerusalem

o   History:  In the Old Testament, the Valley of Hinnom was a place of human sacrifice to Idols.  In such sacrifices, human beings were burned.

§  2 Kings 23:10 (NIV)
10 He desecrated Topheth, which was in the Valley of Ben Hinnom, so no one could use it to sacrifice his son or daughter in the fire to Molech.

·         Here Josiah is purifying the city in his renewal of the covenant

§  2 Chronicles 28:1-3 (NIV)
1 Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem sixteen years. Unlike David his father, he did not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord. 2 He walked in the ways of the kings of Israel and also made cast idols for worshiping the Baals. 3 He burned sacrifices in the Valley of Ben Hinnom and sacrificed his sons in the fire, following the detestable ways of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites.

§  See also 2 Chronicles 33:6, Isaiah 30:33, Jeremiah 7:31-32

o   Use of the Term Metaphorically

§  Jesus first used the term Gehenna to refer to the eternal destruction of the soul. 

o   The Metaphor

§  Clearly, when Jesus began to use the term “Gei Hinnom” (Gehenna) to refer to the eternal state of man, his message was clear from the combined use and history of Gehenna:

·         It is a place of refuse and discarded things

·         It is a place of continual burning

·         It is a place of the burning of people; both from live sacrifices and the dead whom were burned there

·         Ironically, it is a reuniting of man with his idols, being the place of Satanic practices of old

o   Translations

§  Both the NIV and the KJV translate Gehenna as “Hell.”

·         This is interesting, due to the fact that the KJV also translates “Hades” as “Hell” most frequently.

·         This yields an inconsistency in that translation – and others – in the use of the term “Hell,” since clearly Gehenna and Hades are not necessarily referring to the same places.

The Texts

Gehenna  appears twelve times in the Greek New Testament.  Each usage rendering the term “Hell” below comes from the Greek term Gehenna:

Matthew 5:22 (NIV)
22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

Matthew 5:29-30 (NIV)
29 If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

Matthew 10:28 (NIV)
28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

Matthew 18:9 (NIV)
9 And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.

Matthew 23:15 (NIV)
15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.

Matthew 23:33 (NIV)
33 “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?

Mark 9:43-48 (NIV)
43 If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. 44 45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. 46 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, 48 where “‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.’ Everyone will be salted with fire.

Luke 12:5 (NIV)
5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.

James 3:6 (NIV)
6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

 

Deductions

·         It is a place of fire

o   Matthew 5:22 …in danger of the fire of hell.

o   Matthew 18:19 … and be thrown into the fire of hell.

o   Mark 9:43 … where the fire never goes out.

o   Mark 9:48 … where “‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.

·         It is associated with the unrighteous

o   Matthew 5:22 … anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

o   Matthew 5:29 …29 If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.

§  Mat 18:9; Mark 9:43-48 – same basic message

o   Matthew 23:15 15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.

o   Matthew 23:33 33 “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?

o   James 3:6 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

·         It is unique so far in this study, in that it is eternal

o   Mark 9:43-48 43 If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. 44 45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. 46 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, 48 where “‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.’ Everyone will be salted with fire.

§  “the fire never goes out”

§  “their worm does not die”

§  More on this in the next section

·         It is a place of the destruction of both the body and the soul

o   The body, in Matthew 5:30 … It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

o   The soul, in Matthew 10:28  28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

§  And Luke 12:5 (NIV)
5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.

Conclusions

o   Gehenna is not the same as Abaddon

o   Abaddon is temporary (which will be demonstrated in the next section) while Gehenna is permanent and eternal.

o   Abaddon is the destruction of the soul only, while Gehenna is the destruction of body and soul

o    Gehenna is the final abode of the souls of the unrighteous

o   Being permanent, Gehenna must be the final destination of the souls of the wicked

o   It therefore must proceed the state of Abaddon, which is temporary

To this end, “Hell” is a good modern translation for Gehenna,  as Hell is understood in modern terms as a permanent place of destruction, burning and separation from God.

It is unclear why the KJV translates both Gehenna and Hades as “Hell,” as they are clearly not the same, nor is Gehenna the same as Abaddon.

Series Navigation<< Spiritual Realms (Hell)Tartarus >>

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