Then the king said to the servants, 'Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and throw him into the outer darkness; there is where the weeping and grinding of teeth will be.' Matthew 22:13)
Hell, in simplistic terms, is the opposite of heaven. It is an eternal separation from God occurring after death. Some Christians believe this is a place of eternal torment, whereas others believe that it is an end of existence.
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The Gospels portray images of destruction and torment when referring to hell.
Passages such as Matthew 3:10-12 give an image of destruction.
- "Even now the axe lies at the root of the trees. Therefore, every tree that doesn't bring forth good fruit is cut down, and cast into the fire. I indeed baptize you in water for repentance, but he who comes after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will thoroughly cleanse his threshing floor. He will gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn up with unquenchable fire."
Words for Hell
Gehenna was an earthly place used as a metaphor for the eternal destruction of evil. It comes from Hebrew and means "Gorge of Hinnom" (Ge-Hinnom). In the time of the Old Testament it was a place where children were sacrificed to the Ammonite god Molech (2 Kings 23:10).
Eternal Punishment versus Annihiliationism
Many Christians believe hell to be a place of eternal punishment for those who have died without accepting Jesus Christ as their Lord and receiving forgiveness of sins.
Some Christians believe in the existence of hell, but deny the idea of a continuous eternal conscious suffering. In this view, known as Annihilationism, those who have died without accepting Jesus Christ as their Lord and receiving forgiveness of sins cease to exist. This view is sometimes argued as inconsistent with Scripture, however, if the Biblical descriptions of hell are seen as imagery, then an annihilationist view can be argued as Biblical.