Some Christian apologists describe hell as a separation from god, not the fiery pit we all think of. I don’t know how separation from a god you don’t think exists is hell, but I got me wondering: How is hell described in the Bible?
With the magic of Xiphos and the search feature, lets find every reference to hell in the Modern King James Version of the Bible:
Deuteronomy 32:22 For a fire is kindled in My anger, and shall burn to the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with its increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains.
Sounds pretty hot and fiery to me.
Not much here to go off of.
Job 11:8 Can you perfectly find out the Almighty? Heights of the heavens! What can you do?It is deeper than hell, what can you know? The measure of it is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea.
Hell is described as a physical place, a very deep place.
Job 26:6 Hell is naked before Him, and the Pit has no covering.
Hell is a pit.
Psalms 9:17 The wicked shall be turned into hell, all the nations that forget God.
Still sounds like hell is a physical place, and the nations have already forgotten god.
Psalms 16:10 My flesh also shall rest in hope; For You will not leave My soul in hell; You will not allow Your Holy One to see corruption.
First mention of a soul in hell.
Psalms 18:5 The sorrows of death hemmed me in, and the floods of ungodly men made me afraid. The sorrows of hell surrounded me; the snares of death confronted me.
First indication that hell is being compared to ungodly men.
Psalms 55:15 Let desolation take hold on them, and let them go down alive into hell; for evils are among them in their dwellings.
Go alive into hell. Hell is a physical place.
Psalms 86:13 For great is Your mercy toward me; and You have delivered my soul from the lowest hell.
Hell still a physical place. Rephrased Psalms 16:10.
Psalms 116:3 The sorrows of death hemmed me in, and the pains of hell took hold on me; I found trouble and sorrow.
Same as Psalms 18:5 without the ungodly men. Still sounds like physical place.
Proverbs 5:5 Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell, lest you should meditate on the path of life, her tracks are movable; you cannot know them.
Going down to a hell. Still physical sounding.
Proverbs 7:27 Her house is the way to hell, going down to the rooms of death.
Hell is still a place.
Proverbs 9:18 But he does not know that the dead are there; her guests are in the depths of hell.
Depths of hell. Sounds pretty physical to me.
Proverbs 15:11 Hell and destruction are before the LORD; even more the hearts of the sons of men?
Really sounds like god made hell.
Proverbs 15:24 The way of life is above to the wise, so that he may turn away from hell below.
Hell is below, physically below.
Proverbs 23:14 Do not withhold correction from a boy, for if you beat him with the rod, he will not die. You shall beat him with the rod, and shall deliver his soul from hell.
Child abuse, beating with a rod, and soul that goes to hell. No mention of separation from god here.
Proverbs 27:20 Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.
Hell is a place that is never full.
Isaiah 5:14 So hell has enlarged itself, and opened its mouth without measure; and their glory, and their multitude, and their pride, and he who rejoices in her, shall go down into it.
Hell is a place, that has a mouth that can be infinite.
Isaiah 14:9 Hell from below is moved for you, to meet you at your coming. It stirs up the dead for you, all the he-goats of the earth. It has raised from their thrones all the kings of the nations.
Hell is still a physical place.
Isaiah 14:15 I will go up above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High. Yet you shall be brought down to hell, to the sides of the Pit.
Down to hell, sides of the Pit.
Isaiah 28:15 Because you have said, We have made a covenant with death, and we have made a vision with hell; when the overwhelming rod shall pass through, it shall not come to us; for we have made lies our refuge, and we have hidden ourselves under falsehood, therefore so says the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I place in Zion a Stone for a foundation, a tried Stone, a precious Cornerstone, a sure Foundation; he who believes shall not hurry.
Hell is still a place.
Isaiah 28:18 And your covenant with death shall be wiped out, and your vision with hell shall not stand; when the overwhelming rod shall pass through, then you shall be beaten down by it.
Still sounds like a place, beaten down by it.
Isaiah 57:9 And you went to the king with ointment, and increased your perfumes, and sent your messengers far off, and lowered yourself even to hell.
Lowered to hell.
Ezekiel 31:16-17 I made the nations shake at the sound of his fall, when I cast him down to hell with those who go down in the Pit. And all the trees of Eden, the choice and best of Lebanon, all that drink water, shall be comforted in the lower parts of the earth. They also went down into hell with him to those who are slain with the sword, even his arm, who lived under his shadow in the midst of the nations.
Hell is described as the Pit. Down to hell. Still no mention of separation from god.
Ezekiel 32:21 The strong among the mighty shall speak to him out of the midst of hell with those who help him. They have gone down, they lie uncircumcised, slain by the sword.
Back to hell.
Ezekiel 32:27 And they shall not lie with the mighty that are fallen of the uncircumcised, who have gone down to hell with their weapons of war. And they have put their swords under their heads, but their sins shall be on their bones, though they were the terror of the mighty in the land of the living.
Down to hell, with weapons of war.
Amos 9:2 If they dig into hell, there My hand shall take them. And if they go up to the heavens, I will bring them down from there.
You can dig to hell.
New Testament Hell:
Matthew 5:22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be liable to the judgment. And whoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be liable to the sanhedrin; but whoever shall say, Fool! shall be liable to be thrown into the fire of hell.
Thrown into the fire of hell.
Matthew 5:29 And if your right eye offends you, pluck it out and throw it from you. For it is profitable for you that one of your members should perish, and not that your whole body should be thrown into hell.
Whole body thrown into hell, and pluck your own eye out? Really?
Matthew 5:30 And if your right hand offends you, cut it off and throw it from you. For it is profitable for you that one of your members should perish, and not that your whole body should be thrown into hell.
Hand instead of eye this time.
Matthew 10:28 And do not fear those who kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul. But rather fear Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
This is an interesting one, seems to imply the soul can be destroyed in hell. Annihilation?
Matthew 11:23 And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to the heaven, shall be brought down to hell. For if the mighty works which have been done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.
Up to heaven, down to hell. No idea what the rest means.
Matthew 16:18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Gates of Hell. Again, physical place.
Matthew 18:9 And if your eye offends you, pluck it out and throw it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into the hell of fire.
Same exact thing as Matthew 5:29. Why? Hell of fire.
Matthew 23:15 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you compass sea and the dry land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, you make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.
Matthew 23:33 Serpents! Offspring of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?
Hell has snakes.
Mark 9:43 And if your hand offends you, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed than to have two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched.
Really, again? However, this add a fire that never shall be quenched.
Mark 9:45-47 And if your foot offends you, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life lame than to have two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched where their worm dies not, and the fire is not quenched. And if your eye offends you, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes to be cast into hell fire where their worm dies not, and the fire is not quenched.
Foot this time, and back to eyes and a fire that can’t be quenched.
Luke 10:15 And you, Capernaum, which has been lifted up to Heaven, you shall be thrust down into hell.
Didn’t we read this before? Still down to hell.
Luke 12:5 But I will warn you of whom you shall fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yea, I say to you, fear Him.
This is an interesting one, is appears god casts you to hell. It is his choice.
Luke 16:23 And in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
Hell is a place, being in torment. Not sure what Abraham holding Lazarus in his bosom means.
James 3:6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. So the tongue is set among our members, spotting all the body and inflaming the course of nature, and being inflamed by hell.
Yep, more fiery hell.
Revelation 1:18 Do not fear, I am the First and the Last, and the Living One, and I became dead, and behold, I am alive for ever and ever, Amen. And I have the keys of hell and of death.
Again, god is the one who is in charge of death and hell.
Revelation 6:8 And I looked, and behold, a pale horse. And the name of him sitting on it was Death, and Hell followed with him. And authority was given to them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with the sword and with hunger and with death and by the beasts of the earth.
This time Hell is used as a proper name. Are Death and Hell one in the same? Not sure.
Revelation 20:13 And the sea gave up the dead in it. And death and hell delivered up the dead in them. And each one of them was judged according to their works.
Sounds like in this case hell is just the ground. Interestingly, it does appear that we are judged by our works. Hmmm.
Revelation 201:14 And death and hell were cast into the Lake of Fire. This is the second death. And if anyone was not found having been written in the Book of Life, he was cast into the Lake of Fire.
Well, there you have it. Lake of Fire.
This was every reference I could find in the Bible to hell. As with a lot of the Bible, there are repeats. I don’t see separation from god in here as an alternative to an unquenchable flame and a Lake of Fire and torment. Hell pretty much meets up with the classic understanding of hell. A fiery place, full of torment. Any apologists out there who want to point out the alternative view? I quoted EVERY Bible verse. I did not omit one jot or tiddle.
I did look online for some reference to separation from god, and found this:
II Thessalonians For this is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God for which you also suffer, since it is a righteous thing with God to repay tribulation to those who trouble you, and to give rest with us to you who are troubled, at the revealing of the Lord Jesus from Heaven with the angels of His power, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God and who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He shall come to be glorified in His saints and to be admired in all those who believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that Day.
In flaming fire…punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord… Well. I am more concerned with fire and destruction than separation from the presence of the Lord. Seems coincidental, not the main focus.
On the theological side, I have read both arguments, and, to be honest, I have to agree with the old fire and brimstone idea of hell. If you actually read the Bible, that is clearly what it is describing. I could fine no evidence otherwise.