I know many who believe God has already thrown people into hell, but that has NOT happened yet, and, in general, it will NOT happen until the great throne event at the end of the thousand-year reign of Christ.
Why do I have the right to say that?
Well, there are passages like this:
“Instead, be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving each other just as God in Messiah also forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32 TLV)
“And you—being dead in the trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh—He made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all the trespasses,”
(Colossians 2:13 LSV)
“I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven through His name.” (1 John 2:12 BSB)
Do I realize that this forgiveness was established by Jesus’ actions on the cross?
Yes, I do, but this forgiveness, in a sense, is just hanging out in there in space until you choose to accept that forgiveness and the Father’s love through the death and resurrection of the Son.
So, at least for now, I can exclude Judas, who hung himself from hell.
(At the end of the seven years of wrath, the beast and the false prophet, along with Satan, will be thrown into the lake of fire. The only one that gets out of that lake is Satan at the end of the thousand years so that he can deceive the nations. Having done that, he is tossed, along with those he deceived, back into the lake of fire.)
So a common problem I see is that some of us believe we have been appointed judges and have the right to send people to hell. The fact that all sin was forgiven on the cross should shut many mouths or at least change their condemning hearts. But, unfortunately, I merely stated what far too many of us are willing to do, especially when this job of judging is for Jesus alone.
Wow, is that in the Bible?
“For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whomever He wants. The Father does not judge anyone, but has handed over all judgment to the Son.”
(John 5:21-22 TLV)
There are two outstanding aspects of these passages.
- First, here is one you may have yet to notice. So, not only does the Son do all the judging, but He gives life “to whomever He wants,” and He is NOT asking your permission to whom He can give life.
- Secondly, there are NO limitations on whom the Son can give this life to.
So, I said, Jesus took the keys to hell by going there Himself and set the captives free.
This was met with what seemed like an angry response, and it went like this.
Jesus did NOT go into hell! After a few seconds of glaring, the person added it was the place of the dead.
A few seconds later, I pulled out my cell phone and found this.
“I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.” (Revelation 1:18 KJV)
I am not a big fan of the King James version, but most who spent a lot of time in a church would admit that the KJV was not only a standard but the primary version most would buy. However, that began to change, and we saw the Amplified, the NIV, and the NASB enter the mix.
It sounds like our King and savior got the keys to both places. As attendees at church, we, for the most part, were content to let the pastor do all the studying, as we assumed he would never lead us astray.
With a conversation like that, don’t you think the average answer would be Jesus took the keys to hell? But, when the standard Bible translation tells us that He did, there is a propensity to believe He did. And, there is no reason to think that someone did this and then slipped Him the keys so He could look good. No, Jesus did all that.
So hell is actually the Greek word hadēs and means the abode of departed spirits.
Since the KJV was the new standard, then hell would have been the common assertion and expected answer. Because we, as the church in general, DO NOT READ our Bibles, then we would never know the origins of the word hell, which we just discussed to be hades, the place of the dead.
I think we believe that the lake of fire is hell, but we do not allow for an abode of departed spirits. A common picture comes from Revelation 19:20.
“And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshiped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.”
(Revelation 19:20 KJV)
The final scene is found in Revelation 20.
And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell 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.
(Revelation 20:13-15 KJV)
Something notable in Revelation 20:13-15, death and hell are cast into the lake of fire. Once again, we are constrained to use the word hell, which is Greek the word hades, the place of the dead. Is it any wonder that we call this place of the dead hell?
In “The Chosen,” there is a discussion between Jesus and Matthew about the substance of “the sermon on the mount.” Matthew humorously elaborates on this portion by adding you would have a city full of people with only one eye.
“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looks on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.” (Matthew 5:27-29 KJV)
The point here is not the eye but things that we cannot validate from scripture. In this case, the conversation leaned toward potentially being sent to hell over poor decisions. Hell, in this case, is NOT hades but an allusion to Gehenna, the place of perpetual burning or the lake of fire.
A piece of information to help confuse you is the narrative about the beggar Lazarus (a person that the audience of that day may have been well aware of) and the rich Jew.
“And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; (23) And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeing Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.”
(Luke 16:22-23 KJV)
Hell, as used here, is hades, the place of the dead. To the Jews, the idea that a rich man would go to hell is unacceptable; now, the beggar, maybe. But they also had the understanding that heaven initiated with Abraham’s bosom.
Now, what am I to make of a statement that tells me that the dead lie in a condition of inactivity after what Jesus told us about Lazarus and the rich man?
A piece of substantiating evidence comes from King David. I am using the Amplified, in this case, as it typically has other defining terms or words.
– “Let me not be put to shame, O Lord, or disappointed, for I am calling upon You; let the wicked be put to shame, let them be silent in Sheol (the place of the dead).”
(Psalms 31:17 AMP)
First, an awareness that this was written in Hebrew, which used Sheol instead of Hades, which means the same thing, to define where David wishes these people would go.
The writer of Ecclesiastes 9:5 gives us a clue.
– “For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing;..” (CJB)
To know is to have comprehension, care, or recognition. But the Hebrew word me‘ûmâh, meaning nothing, puts the entire thought into the negative and implies that they do not know a speck of anything.
Another passage that affirms the prophetic qualities of Ecclesiastes comes from Job.
- Yes, I know that You will bring me down to death, to the place appointed for all the living.” (Job 30:23 BSB)
The general idea, it would seem, is that this is the earth as we return to dust; and yet, Job refers to them as living.
- He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to Him all are alive.”
(Luke 20:38 BSB)
At least, we can agree that there is an appointed collection place for the dead, and, since we should understand that the spirit or soul never dies, then even in hades, Sheol, or hell, depending on your preferred language and Bible translation, your soul lives on forever. Now, if you are a part of the body of Christ, then it’s an entirely different matter, as, upon your graduation from this earth, you are in the presence of Jesus.
“having courage, then, at all times, and knowing that being at home in the body, we are away from home from the LORD— for we walk through faith, not through sight— we have courage, and are well pleased, rather, to be away from the home of the body, and to be at home with the LORD.”
(2 Corinthians 5:6-8 LSV)