What Did Jesus Say or Teach About Hell?

Jesus taught about the reality of hell.  Is this teaching that hell is forever or are the condemned simply burned up and annihilated?

Hell, a Fiery Furnace

Matthew 13:41-42, 49-50 “The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Mark 9:43, 48-49 “And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire…where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ For everyone will be salted with fire.”

Jesus describes hell as a reality and He spoke on hell three times as much as He ever did on heaven, thereby signifying the importance on believing in such a place.  Hell is like a fiery furnace and there will be weeping (with anger and/or eternal regret) and gnashing of teeth (in anger and/or in pain).  This weeping and gnashing of teeth is mentioned twice so as to emphasize the reality of hell.

Jesus also said it is a place not where “the” worm never dies but a place where “their” worm does not die.  The fact is that it is their worm which means that it is their own personal gnawing of their conscience for their lifetime of rejecting Christ and this worm never dies, just like the Gehenna fire, which was a trash dump outside the walls of Jerusalem.  That was a place where trash was continually dumped and maggots or worms never died off because there was always something thrown onto it so the worms or maggots had a constant supply of food.

Hell, A Place of Outer Darkness

Matthew 22:13 “Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Matthew 8:12 “while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Since Jesus is the light of the world and God is light (John 1) then naturally the absence of God is the absence of light.  Remember at Calvary when the Father withdrew during Jesus’ death on the cross?  There were three hours of darkness because for the first time in all eternity, God the Father had to withdraw from Jesus as God cannot look upon sin and when the darkness came, it revealed that God has withdrew.  This is why Jesus felt forsake at the cross and said when the darkness came from the sixth hour (noon) until the ninth hour (3 P.M.) “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me” (Matt 27:45-46)?  The answer of course was because Jesus had become sin for us (2 Cor 5:21).

The Eternality of Hell

Matthew 25:46 “And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

What Did Jesus Say About Hell

Revelation 14:9-11; 19:3 “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.  And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name. The smoke from her goes up forever and ever.”

Since the Book of Revelation is the Revelation of Jesus Christ and not really of the Apostle John (Rev 1:1), we can take the words of Revelation as Jesus’ own words.  He said that “the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night” so this torment is not until they pay for their sins or until they are burned up but it goes on forever and ever (ages without end, literally) and they will have “no rest, day or not” forever and ever.

The word for forever or eternal is from the Greek “aionion” describes life which is endless and so must aionios must also describing endless punishment for if eternal (aionion) life is only temporary then it was never eternal life at all, but since “aionion” means life eternal (forever, without end) life then so too is the punishment eternal (aionion).   Here is where the doctrine of heaven and the doctrine of hell stand or fall together.   Since Jesus promises eternal life for all of those who believe and if it is not forever, then Jesus didn’t tell us the truth and if Jesus didn’t speak the truth then His sacrifice was not enough to save us…but if eternal life is granted by believing in Him (John 3:16-17) then eternal punishment is given to those who refuse to believe (John 3:18).   This proves that Jesus’ death “brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Tim 1:10) and immortality is not a temporary life but it is a life without end.

Hell, A Place of Torment

Luke 16:23 “being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side.”

Revelation 14:10-11 “he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.  And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.”

The torment goes on for all time and even the smoke of their torment is forever and ever and “goes up” and this torment takes place “with fire and sulfur” so it is a tangible, real event in time and space where all five senses are involved.  Remember the account of the Rich Man and Lazarus where the rich man begged Abraham to bring even a tiny drop of water to bring him some relief from his vicious thirst by saying “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’  But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish.  And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us” (Luke 16:24-26).  Clearly all five senses are still being felt; for example a great thirst and a feeling of heat but also notice that the memory remains intact so that all of the memories of a lifetime of rejecting the gospel will forever be recalled and maybe this is why there will be so much “weeping and gnashing (grinding) of teeth.”

Fear God and Live

Luke 12:5 “But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!”

The conclusion of the matter is to fear God and live.  For those don’t believe that they don’t deserve to go to hell but heaven may well being destined to hell but for those who know that they deserve hell and don’t deserve heaven may be going to heaven.  The surprising thing is not that only some go to heaven (Matt 7:13-14)but that anyone goes to heaven for we all rightly deserve the wrath of God but God extends to anyone who would believe in the Son of God His grace and mercy.  Today may be your day of salvation if you have not yet been saved (2 Cor 6:2) but for those who refuse to believe in Christ, they stand condemned at this moment (John 3:18).  Some say they don’t believe in hell but not believing in something doesn’t mean it isn’t real.  Some say that a good God wouldn’t send anyone to hell but they have just made a god in their own image.  They reason that “if the God of the Bible really exists, then they will gladly go to hell.”  How sad.  Others say that “their God is a God of love and doesn’t condemn people to hell.”  I say, “Yes, you are right. Your God of all love wouldn’t send anyone to hell because He doesn’t exist.  I say as Jesus says “fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!’

Charles Spurgeon shows just how important the realization of hell is in witnessing to the lost as he wrote: “If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.”

Another Reading on Patheos to Check Out: What Did Jesus Really Look Like: A Look at the Bible Facts

A good book to check out: 7 Biblical Signs Of The End Times

Article by Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book  Blind Chance or Intelligent Design available on Amazon

"This is just one Christian interpretation of the meaning of the death of Jesus and ..."

Who Killed Jesus?
"A term created by white people which is a form of white privilege. There are ..."

Was Jesus Black? What Race Was ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!


What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Nabukuduriuzhur

    That is something that started to not be taught in the 1950s, and by the 1960s, the current “love kick” got going.

    I wrote this about that in National Wave of Foolishness, v2:

    Some try to justify letting lies stand with looooooove. It’s not acting in love to let a lie about the basics of salvation stand and thus let a person go to hell, is it?

    One wonders if this false “loooove” kick is why so much of the nation is no longer believers. Think it’s any coincidence that when Fire and Brimstone, plus the Love of God— BOTH were taught up into the 1950s— were taught in churches, most of the nation believed?

    Now it’s rare that the hellacious eternal consequences of refusing Christ’s call are spoken of in sermons— and most of the nation is going to Hell.

    No coincidence, there. Funny, too, how those who speak so much of “love”
    seem to have the least of it.

    God LOVES us, there is no disputing that. But it’s doing no one any favors to not tell them the stakes of not choosing to be Saved by Christ.

    Those consequences are eternal.

    When I was a kid, a pastor visited my church and he said, “I would rather scare the hell out of a person, than for them to end up there.”

    Being offended or scared is nothing compared to the fear and horror a person will be feeling at the White Throne Judgement, when they are before the Lord and thrown into eternity in the Lake of Fire.

    “Love” is not an excuse to allow evil to thrive. Nor is it acting in love to allow a person to believe a lie and be damned for Eternity! If a person wants to believe the lie after you’ve told them the truth, at least you’ve done your duty. That was
    much of the prophet Ezekiel’s job— to be a Watchman and tell his people the truth.

    You generally don’t reach dishonest people by “loooooove.” They love themselves. They rationalize and otherwise lie to themselves, trying convince themselves that they don’t need God or that a “loving God” won’t send them to hell. Or they believe some other lie that will ultimately send them to hell. Dishonest people are exactly that— dishonest.

    It often requires the true stakes of their existence— that of going to hell for eternity— being told to them to get their attention. As an example, a friend once told me of a man who had been told the Gospel, but was still vascillating. Then a Christian bluntly asked him if he’d chosen heaven or hell. That was what it took to get that man’s attention and he got saved.

    Indeed, it was that very fear of hell for eternity that caused me to look at my life and to accept Christ. I love Christ now, but initially I made that decision to get Saved out of a rational, reasonable and healthy fear for what would happen if I didn’t get Saved. I didn’t want to go to hell.

    Jesus Christ got my attention that way.

    That is God acting in love: to use what was necessary to get me Saved!”

    • DaveCubFan

      why does not go through coupled up at that Italian the pizza is fine and the South Seas or chicken whatever you want with olives and Jerry’s never drink any type of drink diet right where I can get an elk does it really matter as long as God is God is the one that cooks good pizza so I was saying yeah to God and no to everything else caca poopoo peepee God created donkeys so donkeys could do donkey shows. fun fact do you know that donkeys actually have a larger penis then most animals in the wild Kingdom that’s why they like using the donkeys is it make that noise.

    • Janet

      You’ve done your duty? The second commandment is to love your neighbor…feed, clothe, accompany him, care for him in your own home…
      you’ve set the bar pretty low. All you have to do is give the world a tract and you’re off the hook of sacrificial love. I think that may be a reason the world is rife with unbelievers. The world is wise to doubt counterfeit testimony.

      • Kendred

        Well said brethren. Jesus preached the kingdom of God which is all encompassing and he gave us the two greatest commandments on which all of the other commandment hinges. I pray that believers( and they will because it was written) come to a knowledge of what the gospel of Christ and the kingdom of God really means. His death and resurrection was only one aspect of our salvation.

      • Kendred

        I’m sorry. I just noticed that your name was Janet and I called you brethren. My heart was in the right place. Thank you sister.

  • bob

    what’s the second death ????????????

    • Jack Wellman

      Rev 21:8 explains the second death in the most detail: “The cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars – their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

      Three other places in Revelation also mention the second death. The first is Rev 2:11: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death.” In this verse, Jesus promises that believers (“overcomers”; see 1 John 5:4) will not experience the lake of fire. The second death is exclusively for those who have rejected Christ. It is not a place believers in Christ should fear.

      • bob

        what does death mean ??????????

        • Jack Wellman

          What do you think it means Bob?

          • bob

            THE WORD SAYS THE DEAD KNOW NOTHING

          • Jack Wellman

            So, you don’t believe in hell. I see where you are coming from.

          • bob

            I SAID THE WORD SAYS THE DEAD KNOWS NOTHING / I BELIEVE …GOD…

          • Jack Wellman

            Do you believe in hell?

          • caming

            It would be helpful if you provided proper exegesis, which you didn’t. Or context. Like the fact Jesus referenced gehenna because of his audience, who would get the METAPHOR. Which is why Paul DIDN’T.

            Amazing that we only tend to think Jesus was speaking in parables when it’s convenient for us …

            How sobering it should be that even the Sermon on the Mount wasn’t spoken to a general audience. It wasn’t meant for US. It was to the poor and the meek. That turn-the-other-cheek business? Not judging others? Loving our enemies? That wasn’t for us. We’re the ones striking the poor. We’re spoiled, bratty, rich, fat Americans. We’re the enemies.

            We’re the rich man.

            Maybe you should start there. Maybe if you begin THERE, instead of your poor interpretation of hell, your words might matter.

            Like most who preach on hell, you trample on Christ’s teachings regarding the here and now with a focus on the afterlife. Hand-waving the fact we’re way behind the eight ball with “accept Jesus and you’re good!” is dismissive to Christ’s victory and devastating to *ACTUAL* faith. Jesus didn’t give you a ticket to a bus departure that begins after you die. You’re borrowing a page from the murderer/ravenous wolf John Calvin playbook instead of providing context, and THAT is what’s truly sad.

            Get educated: http://bibletruths.150m.com/Gehenna.htm

          • Guest

            Tax evasion, LOL

      • http://selfrighteousindignation.wordpress.com/ IncredulousMark

        If your God would torture me forever “in the fiery lake of burning sulfer” merely for finding the evidence for his existence lacking, I’d say he’s a bit of a dick.

        • Janice la Pinta

          THE ‘LAKEO F FIRE’ is a metaphor, not literal, jesus used it as an illustration , it was what the Valley of Hinnom looked like , like a ‘lake ‘ of fire, since they kept the fire burning, but the bodies of criminals thrown into it were dead, not feeling it, unot burning forever. they were gone, destroyed . he used it as a picture of being gone forever, it will last forever , the second death,n o resurrection, like the death many ppl believe they will have anyway, just being gone. no one ‘burns’ there literally , todo that you would have to have a physical body. kind of silly huh.

        • Brooklyn456

          “When normal people die, even if they were not spiritual, they ascend to a certain plane of consciousness.” ~ Sri Chinmoy

    • Janice la Pinta

      ETERNAL DEATH, OUT OF EXISTENCE . GONE. LIKE HELL AND THE GRAVE ARE THROWN INTO ‘GEHENNA TOO, WHICH IS THE SE’COND DEATH’ JUST TOTALLY GOTTEN RID OF FOREVER.

  • bob

    study the tree of life and the book of life / are people alive in hell ?????????????

    • Jack Wellman

      Thanks Bob….studying always comes in handy and I am a lifelong student. Are people alive in hell? Only they and God knows.

      • bob

        AMEN BROTHER JACK AMEN

        • Jack Wellman

          Bob…we all need each other and let me say, I have not yet arrived. Lets keep each other growing brother. I thank God for you and thank you too friend.

          • Janice la Pinta

            “The living are conscious that they will die; but as for the dead, they ARE CONSCIOUS OF NOTHING AT ALL” BIBLE.. TRY READING IT.

          • Janice la Pinta

            AND NO, NO ONE IS ALIVE IN HELL, THEY DIED. DUHH, AND ALL GO TO HELL WHEN THEY DIE, THE GOOD, THE BAD, ANIMALS ,ETC.

          • Christopher Ewings

            Janice, what you wrote is a Platonic fairy tale and not the Biblical truth. You are partially correct with your first statement: “No one is alive in hell.” That’s true; death is separation from God. All who are in hell will be eternally separated from God both physically and spiritually. But you’re wrong when you write that all people will go to hell. That’s Plato’s philosophy. Jesus says something far different and much better. To the righteous, He says, “‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.” To the unrighteous, He says, “‘Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” In summary, the unrighteous “will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

  • stormwatch

    JESUS SAVES!

    • Jack Wellman

      Amen…Jesus alone saves for sure.

  • thushjz

    Real preachers speak what people need to hear, not what they WANT to hear. even if tey really don’t like it…it’s not the preachers job to speak “niceness”, there’s way too much of that nonsense in churches today, which is why we have uh “believers” that don’t believe…

    • Jack Wellman

      Great point my friend. Thanks…spot on.

  • Timothy

    He used the word ‘deserve’ which is not used in the new testament. How can you use the word without knowing its meaning? If you say that someone deserves something that means it is best that that happens to them. Which means Jesus altering that would be a sin since the best thing was for those who believed on him to go to hell. Thus, it cannot mean the best thing. However, if God sends anyone to hell, and that is the best thing, that means that either God has a logical fallacy converting the finite to infinite, or he cannot control if someone lives eternally. In this case, the fallacy would be concerning punishments, which always have a purpose, correction, separation, and fear. All of which can be fulfilled upon instant destruction, except that fear would imply a lie would have to exist, at least in our current situation. I cannot understand when preachers use the term ‘deserve’ and yet provide no definition or meaning. When I realized this I said in my heart “this word is not in the Bible” and aside from some translations of earthly situations in proverbs, which have the meaning ‘this should happen’ I found that to be true.

    • Christopher Ewings

      “The wages of sin is death…” is what Paul writes in Romans 6:23. Just as a worker deserves his pay, the payment that we deserve for sin is death. It’s what we’ve earned. Death is the wage we deserve for committing sin. What is even more remarkable than our own sin and what we deserve is the greatness of God’s grace that Paul points out as he finishes that passage, “…but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” As a gift- something we haven’t earned or deserved- God gives us life in His Son Jesus.

      • Janice la Pinta

        yes, death,a nd we all die. not ‘burning forever’ that’s Platos’ teaching , NOT Jesus Christ’s!

        • Christopher Ewings

          Janice- please read Matthew 25:31-46. There Jesus speaks for Himself.

  • ImportantQuotations

    That’s a hell of a BS.

  • Peter L

    If we really believe God is there, we must be ready to seek Him and find out who He is, not what we want Him to be like. Believing the bible leaves no room form universalism. This article simply summarises biblical teaching. Saying a loving God won’t condemn people forever is in fact man judging God. It’s the root sin of Gen. 3: denying what God said (if you eat from this tree, you’ll die) and turning it around. But it’s not up to us to judge what God should, or should not do. He is the judge, we are not.

    To those who think it is unfair, please consider this: Suppose you’re confronted with someone who is in a hunger strike. You offer him food and you say: “Eat this food, it’s for free. If you don’t you’ll certainly die”. Then the critics come and say: “It’s not fair to say He’ll die, if he doesn’t want the food you offer”. This rediculous! It’s not your fault! It’s the man himself who doesn’t want to eat and his death is inevitable if he persists. Jesus is our bread of life. If we want to live eternally, we need to ‘eat’ of Him. If we refuse, eternal spiritual death is inevitable, because there is no life without the Source of life. But don’t blame Him. He doesn’t force the ‘food’ on us. If we die, it’s because our own rejection of Him.

    The root problem of sin is not sinful deeds. These are the result of the fundamentally sinful choice, which is the rejection of Christ. If we accept Him and choose to walk in the light, His blood will cleanse us from all sin.

    • Noah

      Uh, you’re judging god by whatever you believe his character to be.

      But I can’t tell if you’re supporting the author in that our loving god eternally tortures people…or saying they just die. The author is saying that god will do something the to the vast majority of people, of whom in humanity the vast majority of people would not be willing to do to their worst enemy. And this is humanity, made in his image.

      • Janice la Pinta

        and Jesus really DID NOT teach this at all. this so called ‘pastor’ doesnt realize taht JEsus ONLY spoke in “illustration’ not literal. NO OF COURSE GOD IS NOT AS CRUEL AS HUMANS. ONLY SDTUPID HUMANS GET OFF THINKING THAT THEIR GOD WOULD BURN INPERFECT HUMANS FOREVER , EVEN THOUGH FIRE IS A LITERAL PHYSICAL THING, AND WHEN ONE DIES HIS BODY GOES ‘BACK TO DUST’ SO HOW CAN HE BURN, BUT ANYWAY,, YEAH ONLY CREEPY HUMANS LIKE THIS CREEPY ‘PASTOR’ WANT TO BE LIEVE GOD WOULD DO THAT TO SOMEONE WHO WAS IMPERFECT ,BURN HIM FOREVER… PRETTY SICK ISNT IT. Even God did say to burn a person in ‘the fire’ is “Something that hadnt even come up into his mind”

        • Noah

          What’s with the almost all-caps?

          You’re far gone if you think Jesus never spoke literally. Here’s the very first words of his I read when I skimmed John:

          “They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?” “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.” So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon.”

          That’s pretty dang literal.

          Thanks for calling millions of people stupid. Especially Christian brothers and sisters. Scripture speaks to both eternal death, as well as eternal punishment. Grinding of the teeth and whatnot.

  • Sheldon Fish

    WHAT UTTER NONSENSE!

  • Janice la Pinta

    Its a real shame that you really don’t know the Bible well enough to teach it.

  • Southern__Hoosier

    The Bible says the wages of sin is death. The soul that sins will die. And we are to fear the one that “destroys” body and soul, nothing about the one that punishes forever.

    • Leandro Cristian de Carvalho

      what does the word “eternal” mean to you if not “forever” ?

  • rockman2257

    “For those who believe, no proof is necessary. For those who don’t believe, no proof is possible.” If you think that God cannot be “cruel” in the human sense, I recommend reading the early books old testament, where Jehovah kills men, woman and children with impunity/destroys/played with/ wagers upon them etc. In the human sense, it does not compute,for we are treated lower than pets. The good news is HE sends his only son, prophesied in the early books, and allows man to kill him so that His blood washes away our sins. If you believe in HIM, you will live, if you do not…….?

    • Ed VanHalen

      While your going that far back in the Book, go back a little further, and read about where we decided to disobey his orders. The fall of creation began. We put our trust in Satan, and not in God in the Garden of Eden, just like so many do today.
      He IS the creator. He can Create life and he can take it away. He can be everywhere all at one time. When we die, only our bodies die. We stand in his presence in the Spirit, so we are not dead to him.
      I find it ironic that those who make these statements like you do, tell one side of the story. Always conveniently leaving out Satan, and pretending it’s just all God doing evil deeds. Job’s family was returned to him. He sent Israel after Idolaters, and the Nephilim. It’s to bad YOU have a problem with that. He stopped the DNA of Satan from getting into the blood line of Jesus. He had to flood the world once, and then he had to destroy the giants in order to make sure YOU had a chance at everlasting life with him in Heaven.
      Let us know when you create your own universe and make the rules of that Universe and tell us how it’s going.