Concepts of Heaven and Hell in Religion

Table of Content

The concept of heaven attracts both believers and non-believers, offering solace through the vision of a place where everlasting peace and happiness exist in the presence of God and loved ones. According to the Bible, heaven is not merely symbolic or fictional, but an actual destination for followers of Jesus Christ after death. In contrast, hell represents a genuine and literal existence rather than a metaphorical or imaginary one – a true state of suffering. It is important to explore what happens to those who do not attain eternal life, a topic often disregarded or dismissed as Guthrie examines in his work on New Testament Theology. This discourse will focus on the eternal condition of individuals excluded from the book of life.

To understand the implications of labeling a place as eternal damnation, it is important to first understand the nature of that particular location. While some people may see the term “Hell” as casual and not serious in everyday conversation, within a biblical context, different expressions are used to convey the underlying concept behind this term. Gehenna (Matthew 5:22), Hades (Matthew 11:23), and Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:15) have all been interpreted as being equivalent to hell.

This essay could be plagiarized. Get your custom essay
“Dirty Pretty Things” Acts of Desperation: The State of Being Desperate
128 writers

ready to help you now

Get original paper

Without paying upfront

According to the King James version of the bible, the term ‘Gehenna’ is mentioned twelve times. It appears in all three synoptic gospels but is most prominent in the book of Matthew, with seven mentions. Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance defines Gehenna as a place or state of everlasting punishment, also known as hell (Strong’s p. 19). Jesus Christ spoke about Gehenna and issued warnings regarding it. In Matthew 5:30, Jesus said that it is better for one body part to perish than for the whole body to go to hell. Guthrie agrees with this belief and argues that there is no way to avoid concluding that Jesus firmly accepted the existence of a counterpart to heaven where those condemned before God are sent (Guthrie p.888). Guthrie’s support further emphasizes its significant importance because both Jesus and Guthrie acknowledged its existence.

In Mark chapter 9:42-50, Jesus emphasizes the importance of comprehending the consequences of a sinful life and its ultimate destination. He uses the word ‘hell’, translated from the Greek term ‘Gehenna’, to illustrate his point. Jesus states, “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” (Mark 9:43). This statement reveals Jesus’ firm belief in the horrific reality of hell. His intention is not to encourage literal amputation of body parts, but to underscore the dreadful nature of hell. Jesus urges his listeners to grasp that theoretically, living without a hand would be preferable to spending eternity in hell. Stamps, in the notes of the Full Life Study Bible, supports this interpretation, asserting that the unquenchable fire of hell is so horrifying that every aspect of sin must be resisted and rejected at any cost (Stamps p. 1497). Undoubtedly, hell signifies an eternal existence far more dreadful than a mere physical impairment.

The Broadman Bible Commentary by Stagg explains that Gehenna was a term used to represent the place of judgment for the wicked (Stagg p. 109). Additionally, Stagg points out that Gehenna is derived from Hinnom, a valley located west of Jerusalem where the city’s garbage was burned (Stagg p. 109). These statements support the notion that hell is not a mere rhetorical or spiritual concept, but rather a physical place. It is not a metaphorical ‘burning garbage’ heap or a realm of eternal rest; it is indeed hell. Finis Dake in God’s Plan for Man asserts that there is no indication in Scripture of a spiritual fire tormenting people. Therefore, to doubt the reality and literal existence of Hell is to oppose the teachings of the Bible (Dake p. 185).

According to the bible, hell does exist. Stamps (p.1425) confirms that Jesus teaches about a place of eternal punishment for those condemned before God. In the synoptics, Jesus describes hell as a terrifying reality with a fire that never goes out (Mark 9:43) and where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth (Mark 13:42, 50). Hell should not be mistaken as a place ruled by Satan or his demons, where destructive acts are carried out. Instead, it is an eternal place of torment for both souls and demons, engulfed in everlasting fire. Guthrie (p.889) emphasizes that the message in the bible unmistakably connects hell and torment, asserting its inseparability.

Both ‘Gehenna’ and ‘hell’ do not imply annihilation, both spiritually and physically. It is important to understand that hell should not be seen as a complete end to existence for those who do not believe. Guthrie explains that those who reject eternal punishment often view heaven and hell as mythical or dismiss the teachings as products of church tradition (Guthrie p.888). To support this understanding, Matthew 25:41 states, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” Jesus also affirms that those rejected by the Lord will be condemned to an ‘eternal fire’. Furthermore, in verse 46, he states, “They will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” These verses clearly indicate that ‘eternal’ should be understood literally. Jesus speaks about the condemned individuals’ existence in the fire being eternal, just as believers receive eternal life. Both verses align with Strong’s definition of ‘eternal’, which means “eternal, forever, everlasting.” This reinforces that hell is not temporary but everlasting. In Walter Martin’s book Kingdom of the Cults (Martin p.92), he refutes Jehovah’s Witness belief that there is no such thing as eternal damnation According to Martin,Guthrie (p.892) supports the idea of hell and everlasting punishment as terrifying realities of God’s justice for unbelievers.
According to Stamps (p.1461), the wicked will face eternal punishment and be excluded from Christ’s kingdom. Dake (p.111) stresses that the idea of Hell ending is a fabrication by demons and humans. Both theologians and synoptic texts concur that Hell is an everlasting place of torment and misery for its residents. Therefore, it cannot be denied that Hell exists and continuously inflicts endless suffering on its inhabitants.

The discussion above confirms that Jesus believed in a literal hell and discussed it with his followers. Apostle Paul also speaks about the truth of hell, as Guthrie notes, “He specifically states that they will ‘suffer the punishment of eternal destruction’” (Guthrie p. 890). Paul is explicit about the fate of the wicked upon perishing from this world. In Philippians 3:19, Paul declares, “Their destiny is their destruction.” Guthrie affirms, “There is no doubt that he (Paul) recognized the certainty and seriousness of the coming judgment, although he did not focus on the details” (Guthrie p. 891). In the Complete Bible Handbook, Richards states, “There is no attempt to hide the fact that ‘wrath and fury’ await evildoers when they face God the Judge” (Richards p. 531). Thus, it is evident that both theologians and apostles are in agreement regarding the concept of hell.

The most surprising writer of all the New Testament letters is 2 Peter chapter 2. In verses four through ten, Peter explains how God judges and deals with those who have been found guilty. In verse 4, it states, “For God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment” (2 Peter 2:4). Peter is referring to the angels who joined Satan in rebellion and tried to elevate themselves (Ezekiel 28:12). When these angels rebelled, God established hell as their place of punishment. Peter reminds the readers that if God punished the angels when they sinned, He will also punish His children when they sin against Him. God does not show favoritism or partiality; everyone is treated equally. Peter’s main point is to emphasize the fair judgment and consequences that await those who sin. They will be sent to hell.

Furthermore, Guthrie points out that in Revelation, there is a more vivid portrayal of hell (Guthrie p. 891). This is evident when Revelation states, “and the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image” (Revelation 14:11). The smoke mentioned here should be interpreted literally as it aligns with the teachings of Jesus. Jesus spoke of a lake of fire, an everlasting place, and this passage supports that concept. The smoke can be seen as originating from the fire, and “no rest” means exactly that; those condemned to hell will have no opportunity for relief. It will be an eternal state from which they cannot escape. Guthrie provides further insight on this verse, affirming the severity of this judgment (Guthrie p. 891). Additionally, Revelation 20:10 mentions “burning sulphur” and the continuous torment both day and night, thus reinforcing the aforementioned scripture. Ultimately, hell is a realm of unceasing torment and devastation, reserved for those who willingly reject God.

The Scriptures (Ezekiel 28) suggest that God created hell for Satan and the fallen angels, not for believers. God wants everyone to have eternal life instead of perishing (John 3:16). The term “perish” in verse 16 refers to the terrifying reality of eternal punishment, not physical death (Stamps p. 1588). God doesn’t create beings just to subject them to rules and condemn them to hell. Instead, He loves all His creation and offers them the gift of eternal life. If they choose life, it is available to them. However, those who reject God will experience an enduring separation from Him. This separation isn’t because He sends them there but because they consciously reject everlasting life.

According to Jesus in Matthew 7:21, not everyone who professes him as Lord will be able to enter heaven. In Matthew 7:23, he directly states that he will openly declare to these people, “I never knew you, away from me you evil doers.” Jesus confidently asserts that those who fail to establish a relationship with him will face eternal exile from the presence of God. Guthrie supports this idea by stating that exclusion from God’s presence is the true essence of hell (Guthrie p. 890). Dake agrees with this sentiment and dismisses any mysteriousness surrounding separation from God in the lake of fire (Dake p. 752). Therefore, apart from enduring the suffering in the lake of fire, unrepentant individuals will also be eternally separated from God. They will no longer experience his gentle breeze, graciousness, or have the ability to plead to him and be heard. They are forever condemned to spend eternity amidst burning sulphur in the lake of fire.

The parable of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25:31-46 highlights the importance of showing love to others and having a proper relationship with God in order to gain eternal life. It suggests that Jesus is specifically addressing individuals who lack hospitality towards both God and their fellow human beings. Jesus affirms, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” Those who fail to meet these standards will face eternal punishment, while those who are righteous will receive eternal life (Matthew 25:45-46). This passage emphasizes the need for an accurate relationship with God in order to obtain eternal life.

According to Revelation, individuals whose names are not written in the book of life will be thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:15). Jesus also said that those who overcome will have their names remain in the book of life and be dressed in white (Revelation 3:5). Stamps explains that having one’s name blotted out from the book signifies losing eternal life and being condemned to the lake of fire (Stamps p. 2011). Those without a relationship with Jesus or knowledge of Him will ultimately end up in this lake. This brings us back to our initial focus: those whose names are absent from the book. They will be sent to hell, which Jesus describes as a physical lake where people weep and grind their teeth. It is an everlasting punishment with no chance for redemption. Those who choose to separate themselves from God will remain permanently separated and eventually destroyed.

According to Dake (p.752), denying the existence of a real hell is futile and pointless, while Guthrie (p.892) acknowledges that eternal punishment is undesirable and provides an explanation for why some may choose to believe in the end of evil souls after judgment. Nonetheless, it is crucial to understand that hell is an authentic location, and those who deny its reality may face the repercussions of their disbelief. It is vital to remember that the creator of the universe possesses knowledge about all beings’ hearts and ultimately decides the destiny of the world.

In summary, it has been verified that hell is not a made-up location but an authentic and never-ending realm of excruciating agony. It serves as the lasting dwelling for those who willingly rejected God. Hell is an eternal state characterized by a blazing lake where individuals endure ceaseless anguish and torment. Only individuals whose names are recorded in the book of life will avoid this fate and instead receive heaven upon death. Conversely, those whose names are absent from the book of life will undoubtedly experience eternity in hell.


Dake, Finis Jennings. “God’s Plan for Man.” Lawrenceville, Georgia: Dake Publishing Incorporated, 1977.

Guthrie, Donald. New Testament Theology. Downers Grove, Illinois: Inter-Varsity Press, 1981.

Martin, Walter R. The Kingdom of the Cults. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Bethany Fellowship Inc., 1977.

Richards, Lawrence O. Complete Bible Handbook. Dallas, Texas: Word Incorporated, 1987

Ryrie, Charles Caldwell. The Ryrie Study Bible. Chicago, Illinois: Moody Press, 1978

Stagg, Frank, Editor. The Broadman Bible Commentary. Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman Press, 1969.

Stamps, Donald C., Editor. The Full Life Study Bible. Grand Rapids, Michigan: The Zondervan Corporation, 1992.

Strong, James. The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Inc., 1995.

Cite this page

Concepts of Heaven and Hell in Religion. (2018, Jun 25). Retrieved from

Remember! This essay was written by a student

You can get a custom paper by one of our expert writers

Order custom paper Without paying upfront