Author: Dr. Kennedy Musonda

The HARD TRUTH with Dr. Kennedy Musonda, Ph.D.

In the last article, I discussed the concept of Sheol, which predominantly means the realm of the dead. I also explained that some English versions of the Bible have created confusion because the Hebrew word Sheol is translated as a grave, pit, and hell. The equivalent Greek word of Sheol in the New Testament (NT) is Hades. In today’s article, in which I conclude the topic of hell, I will show you that the Bible talks about two hells: the present hell (Hades) and the future Hell, Gehenna, or lake of fire. There are three Greek words translated as Hell:   Hades, Gehenna, and Tartarus. The Greek word Hades appears eleven-times in the NT, and it is translated in some English version, like KJV, as Hell ten-times and grave once.

The first hell is called Hades, which in Hebrew is called Sheol as used by the Old Testament writers. The Greek word Gehenna appears 12 times in the Bible and it is always translated as Hell (Mathew 5:22,29,30; 10:28; 18:9; 23:15,33; Mark 9:43,45,47; Luke 12:5; and James 3:6). The Greek word Tartarus appears only once in 2 Peter 2:4, which can be said to be the third hell. Tartarus is the present hell or hades for some fallen angels whom God has bound in chains in darkness. Some English versions of the Bible do not differentiate the three Greek words, making it difficult for an English reader to know the type of hell being talked about. To know the actual Greek word the NT writer was using, you must use E-Sword KJV and not KJV lite. The KJV in E-Sword, an electronic Bible, has a number for every Hebrew and Greek word used. When you click on that number, you see the actual Hebrew or Greek word translated into English.

Gehenna is the final hell which is also called the Lake of Fire that God created for the Devil and other fallen angels (Matthew 25:41). Gehenna, in Scripture, is described as the furnace of fire (Matthew 13:42; everlasting punishment (Matthew 25:46); eternal damnation (Mark 3:29); the hurt of the second death (Revelation 2:11); the lake burning with fire and brimstone (Revelation 19:20; 21:8), and it is also called the second death (Revelation 21:8). Currently, the Gehenna or the lake of fire is empty. The first occupants of Gehenna will be Beast (Antichrist) and the false prophet at the end of the tribulation (Revelation 19:19-20). These will be followed by unsaved nations that will survive the Great Tribulation, who will not be permitted to enter the millennial kingdom (Matthew 25:31-31, 41-46). The Devil will be cast into the lake of fire at the end of the millennial kingdom of Christ (Revelation 20:10). The grand finale of biblical proportion will be the receipt of all sinners of all ages who are currently residents of Sheol/Hades (Revelation 20:11-15).

Some denominations want us to believe that there is no Gehenna because Gehenna was just a rubbish pit where the fire burned continuously outside Jerusalem and that Gehenna in the Bible is symbolic of the utter destruction of sinners. It is true that there was a deep narrow gulley south of Jerusalem which in Hebrew was called Ge Hinnom. In the Old Testament (OT), this place was called Gei Ben Hinnom, meaning the valley of the sons of Hinnom (2 Kings 23:10; 2 Chronicles 28:1-3; Jeremiah 7:31-32; 19:2-6; 13). It was a place where the clan of Hinnom established a place for committing abominations. Later, it was just called Ge Hinnom or the valley of Hinnom. During the time of the Kings, the Jews used the same place to sacrifice their children to god called Malcham, Milcom, or Moloch (2 Kings 16:3; 2 Chronicles 28:1-3, 1 Kings 11:5, 7, 33).

The valley of Hinnom, which in Greek came to be known as Gehenna, was later turned into a rubbish dump by one of the Kings of Israel to express his contempt of that place. It was outside the Jerusalem walls, and fire continuously burnt to consume the refuse and to reduce the stench because it was also a place where the bodies of executed criminals or people who were denied burial would be dumped. It, therefore, became a graphic symbol of a place of punishment for the wicked. Contrary to the belief that Christ’s reference to Gehenna meant the destruction of sinners, Christ never referred to a physical Gehenna but a spiritual one. Of course, when Christ spoke of Gehenna or furnace of fire, his listeners got the point because they had a point of reference in the physical. Ge Hinnom is a metaphor of hell or lake of fire and not a metaphor of destruction. Do not wait until you are in hell to believe that hell exists. You need to repent your sins and ask Christ to forgive you of your sins (Romans 10:9-13).

Author: Dr. Kennedy Musonda an international development consultant holds a Bachelor and Master of Social Work, a Bachelor of Arts in Theology,  a Postgraduate Diploma in Management Studies, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) and a Ph.D. in Business Administration.

For feedback contact email: [email protected], WhatsApp/Telegram line +260977526404 or Skype: kmusonda45


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