Bible Study - the English Bible

This is not a rant - I have a point to make though you may have to do some reading before I make it. Why? Because you are more than likely will be carrying in your head ideas about heaven, hell, and eternity that are un-Biblical to say the least. Why should you believe me? There's no reason at all to do so. So do please read on. I refer to quite a few documents, web pages and the like - not because anyone pointed me to them, or persuaded me to read them. In my own studies I struggled with understanding a God who would send anyone to... and I have to qualify myself carefully here .... a hell that involved endless torture, flames, worms that never died, and was 'run' by the Devil and his demons.

I do not necessarily believe everything written in the referred-to documents - many are long - and take some getting through. I believe in Scripture and God. It's up to you if you want to know more to spend the time reading, considering, praying and learning. I have spent several years (not full time!) looking at this stuff and taking a lot of time to draw conclusions. If you want to know the truth - take the time. I have tried to reduce this down to the basics but it is still a long journey. Stay with it - it will change your idea of God and you will really understand how wonderful, loving and forgiving He really is.

I have absolutely no problem with “original” documents of the Bible in it's several original languages.... only the version we have in English. I believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God and accept its authority and sufficiency for salvation. I know that to understand it at all we need the illuminating help of the Holy Spirit, and that no man or woman will ever comprehend it fully this side of ‘heaven’. However we can try!

My one desire as a Christian who is serious about his faith, with no allegiance to any ‘ist’ or ‘ism’ [note] people ask if I’m an apologist, a Calvinist, or I’m a particular denomination and I actively avoid all such discussions as I believe that in the main they are separatist and divisive is to know what the Bible actually says.

The very act of translation [note] absolutely necessary for those of us without an advanced degree in ancient language studies is fraught with problems. In all my writings please understand that I have every respect for theologians and translators. I have no doubt that the English version of the Bible in all its variety and form has brought many millions to Christ. However I get frustrated and angry when we know so much more now than the early translators and yet no one will ‘write’ a Bible without all the tradition that has crept in over the centuries.

I understand and accept that any Bible without the words God, Jesus, angels, blessings, etc. would simply not ‘sell’; but wait – do we actually want to know what was written in the documents as inspired by the Holy Spirit or not [note] without ploughing through a library of concordances, lexicons, books on Jewish names, and 'translator's notes' (the 'full' version of the NET Bible comes with 60,000 notes!)? Whether people are being saved by God’s grace is not the issue – the issue is; we know what the Bible actually says to a greater degree now than ever before in all of it’s history – so why can Bible Students, theologians and Ministers of all shade and type not have it in print?

When Jesus walked on earth one of the main things He railed at the Bible teachers of the day about was their adherence to traditions of men and not Scripture itself! Would we do the same...... however 'nice' our traditions?

Every job has its pitfalls. The job of translating a Bible is complex. The problems that arise are many; these are but a few;

1. Transliteration
[note]This is when the characters of the source language were simply exchanged for the nearest character in the target language (usually by their sound) thus creating a previously unknown word.

       • The meanings of some quite ordinary words that were not understood in context were either doubted, or understood but purposefully not used – so instead of translating them they were transliterated. There was an understandable fear by some of getting it wrong as the early translators were not all theologians.

       • These errors were rarely corrected despite our increasing knowledge of ancient Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic.

       • As a consequence many words entered our religious language never previously known in English as the translators spontaneously created them.

       • These words have now entered Christian ‘tradition’ and so modern translators will not now change them! (Many ‘corrections’ do now appear in good study-Bible footnotes.)

       • Such words are; manna, sabbath, deacon, demon, angel, baptize, Pentecost, apostle, bishop, cherubim, seraphim, amen, etc.

       • Before you move along please read the articles on transliteration here... a general web article and also a well-written detailed PDF.

2. Translation issues

       • Names
           i. Names should not be translated though transliteration may be necessary – they are names! Great confusion has been caused and theological teaching has been masked by changing names – e.g. Yeshua for Jesus, and Yeshua for Joshua – they were called the same name and ‘translators’ have caused the original link to be lost. This happened hundreds of times. We can at least correct this by using a Hebrew Names Bible, or suchlike.

Please read about Jesus’ name here It means "Yahweh [the Lord] is Salvation." The proposed English spelling of Yeshua is “Joshua” the 'J' coming across from Latin. There is no "J" in Hebrew. However, when translated from Hebrew into the Greek language, the name Yeshua becomes Iēsous. The supposed English spelling for Iēsous is “Jesus”. Basically, what this means is Joshua and Jesus are the same name. One is 'translated' from Hebrew into English, the other from Greek into English. It is also interesting to note, the names "Joshua" and "Isaiah" are essentially the same names as Yeshua in Hebrew. They mean "Saviour" and "the salvation of the Lord." before you move along.

           ii. The very name of our deity has been corrupted. He gave Moses His name in Exodus 3:13,14Moses said to God, “If I go to the Israelites and tell them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what should I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM that I AM.” And he said, “You must say this to the Israelites, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”. And it wasn't "God" or anything like it! It was recorded as a four letter word transliterated (!) as the so-called Tetragrammaton (four-consonant word) (Wiki page) as no vowel sounds were recorded in ancient Hebrew. Because of Jewish sensitivities (they would neither say His name nor write it out completely) we have in most English Bibles the word LORD in capitals. Your Bible translation notes will usually tell you that this appears where the name of God should appear – YHWH. But hang on – I’m neither a Jew nor sensitive to knowing God’s given name. In a sort of appeasement the Jews added the vowels from Adonai (Lord) to create a new word, previously unknown) Yehovah…. from which later translators derived Jehovah!

Please read this very comprehensive study and this shorter one before you proceed.

       • Wrong translation
           i. Some words have entered our English Bibles in error – some for theologically corrupt reasons, and some for lack of available English words. This is complex so examples must be given; one such word is bless. Another is eternity (linked with everlasting, forever, 'for ever and ever', etc.) The word ‘hell’, although correctly translated with it’s original meaning in many places, (as a Middle English word from centuries ago) has been incorrectly put in many Scriptures where it should never appear. This word has been so adsorbed and twisted by tradition that you can barely find a definition that doesn't include gross error.

It is so corrupt in meaning now that it bears completely separate study.
First of all it has a simple original meaning - the grave - the place where you put a dead body - in the ground. A hole below the ground.

Simple common sense will tell you that it comes in a family of words. [note]Horne Tooke says that hell, heel, hill, hole, whole, hall, hull, halt and hold are all from the same root. “Hell, any place, or some place covered over. Heel, that part of the foot which is covered by the leg. Hill, any heap of earth, or stone, etc., by which the plain or level surface of the earth is covered. Hale, i.e., healed or whole. Whole, the same as hale, i.e., covered. It was formerly written whole, without the w, as a wound or sore is healed, or whole, that is, covered over by the skin, which manner of expression will not seem ex- traordinary if we consider our use of the word recover. Hall, a covered building, where persons assemble, or where goods are protected from the weather. Hull, of a nut, etc. That by which a nut is covered. Hole, some place covered over. ‘You shall seek for holes to hide your heads in.’ Holt, holed, hol’d holt. A rising ground or knoll covered with trees. Hold, as the hold of a ship, in which things are covered, or the covered part of a ship.”

As most languages are linked at some point in history it should be no surprise that the Hebrew and Greek words for 'grave' - SHEOL and HADES are so similar with H, E, and L letters included in the original Hebrew. It is a simple fact that since the KJV was first translated the word 'hell' has generally appeared less and less in subsequent translations. As a very quick run-through - the KJV has it 54 times, the NKJV 32, the NIV 13, Holman's 11, Concordant Literal 0, and Young's Literal 0. There must be a message in there somewhere!

This is also why it frustrates me so very much that later translations like the ESV and the NET have 14 and 16 occurrences.... albeit they are 'corrected' in the footnotes! I will come back to this subject later, especially what Jesus said about 'hell' as it is so important.

3. Errors caused by the Roman Catholic church’s power struggles.

       • This is huge and can only be summarized here. A long study of Bible/Christian history will enable you to grasp this more.

       • The Catholic church prevented church-goers from accessing the Bible in their own languages until 1965!
           [note1]Pope Damasus I commissioned Saint Jerome, in 382, to revise the Vetus Latina, which was the compendium of all biblical texts, translated into Latin. Jerome’s product became known as “versio vulgata,” or “common version.” It was the translation used most often from then on throughout Western Europe, and from 400 to about 1530, the Latin Vulgate was the one and only Bible most Western Europeans ever encountered. It is, in fact, still the only official Bible of the Catholic Church. Nothing is wrong with any of this, because Jerome’s translation is perfectly accurate and at its time of publication Latin was spoken throughout most of Europe. It is, more or less, the King James Version in Latin, since the King James translators used it as one of their primary guides. [note2] But the problem arose when the commoners throughout Europe told their priests, who told their bishops, who told the popes, that the commoners did not understand the first thing about Latin. It was not spoken except in church ceremonies, and thus, in order to learn it, the commoners had to get their priests to teach them. But the priests would not bother teaching them. Why? Because knowledge is power, and the Catholic Church had all of both. For about 1,000 years, the Bible remained well known only to the church officials, clergy of all orders, and an elect few well educated scholars. It was never counter to any Papal Bull for any person to translate the Bible into another language. However, anyone who intended to do so was strongly admonished by the Pope himself, with every archbishop, bishop and priest of the continent told not to translate the Bible into any language besides Biblical Hebrew, Ancient Greek or Latin. These three languages were almost dead at the time, meaning no one spoke them commonly.

       • After this time there was a mass (forgive the pun!) exodus from the Catholic church when they realised they had been taught so many errors. (This fact seems to be generally accepted but I can find no actual record of this.)

       • If you feel you need to then research some Catholic history - this might be a reasonably concise (but not short!) place to start, but I think most people understand that in their dark past they killed anyone who would not bow the knee to Rome. This included Protestant Christians and Jews....

       • Their 'evangelism' was to threaten hell to those who would not convert, and at best; promise heaven to those who would.

       • For thirty years they tried to impose their 'theology' and rule on others by means of war and killing. Here is more information.

       • It is hardly surprising then that the King James Version of the Bible had so many mentions of hell!

       • So the sticky question of what Jesus said about hell arises. It's easy to explain if you follow the Bible (and not tradition!)

           The thread runs like this; the false God Molechalso known as Moloch, Milcom, and Malcham was worshipped in the Valley of Hinnom. 2Kings 23:8-14He brought all the priests from the cities of Judah and ruined the high places where the priests had offered sacrifices, from Geba to Beer Sheba. He tore down the high place of the goat idols situated at the entrance of the gate of Joshua, the city official, on the left side of the city gate. 9..... 10 The king ruined Topheth in the Valley of Ben Hinnom so that no one could pass his son or his daughter through the fire to Molech. 11.... 12.... 13 The king ruined the high places east of Jerusalem, south of the Mount of Destruction, that King Solomon of Israel had built for the detestable Sidonian goddess Astarte, the detestable Moabite god Chemosh, and the horrible Ammonite god Milcom. 14 He smashed the sacred pillars to bits, cut down the Asherah pole, and filled those shrines with human bones. To desecrate this site completely it was eventually used as a rubbish dump. [note1]There are many dissenters to this. The internet is full of as many articles debunking this as there are articles confirming it. As I said before; do all the reading and research and decide yourself where the truth is. [note2]"Needless to say the rubbish dumps of Christ's day were a far cry from the sanitary landfills we engineer today. Gehenna was an open pit, infested with rats and reeking with decaying food and human excrement. The bodies of executed criminals and other undesirables were also dumped there. When the pestilence that fed on the dump began getting out of hand, the entire thing was set on fire. But even the fires of Gehenna didn't purify - they sent billows of reeking smoke over the entire city, spreading disease and death." (Kaufman Koehler). [note3]A quotation from Josephus "Now the seditious at first gave orders that the dead should be buried out of the public treasury, as not enduring the stench of their dead bodies. But afterwards, when they could not do that, they had them cast down from the walls into the valleys beneath. However, when Titus, in going his rounds along those valleys, saw them full of dead bodies, and the thick putrefaction running about them, he gave a groan; and, spreading out his hands to heaven, called God to witness that this was not his doing; and such was the sad case of the city itself."

FACT - This area is known as Gehenna and is a valley alongside Jerusalem today and was recognised as such when Jesus walked the earth.
FACT - Jesus never referred to 'hell' - only ever Gehenna - nor did he ever threaten that those who rejected God would be punished in torment forever.

This is what he did say;

Matthew 5:22But I say to you that anyone who is angry with a brother will be subjected to judgment. And whoever insults a brother will be brought before the council, and whoever says ‘Fool’ will be sent to fiery Gehenna. Are we to really to believe that calling someone a fool is worthy of hell? Is that really what Jesus taught do you think?

Matthew 5:29, 3029 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away! It is better to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna. 30 If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away! It is better to lose one of your members than to have your whole body go into Gehenna. And are we to cut body parts off that cause us to sin, and if we don't then we go to hell?

Matthew 10:28Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Instead, fear the one who is able to destroy both soul and body in Gehenna. OK so this one is a bit more tricky; we are not to be afraid of those who may kill us - we are to fear 'the one' (why did Jesus not say "God"?) who can 'destroy' body and soul in Gehenna.... not our spirit.... not 'us'.... and 'destroy' is a very dodgy word - see here. Remember - the Bible says ALL are resurrected, death will no more, so 'destruction'? Really? See especially Luke 12:5 below.

Matthew 18:9And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into fiery Gehenna. Ditto comment on Matthew 5:29,30 above. OK, so Jesus is using a form of dramatic speech - but the inference is clear - take drastic measures not to sin or you go to hell. So where is grace and faith in this theology?

Luke 12:5But I will warn you whom you should fear: Fear the one who, after the killing, has authority to throw you into Gehenna. Yes, I tell you, fear him! So we live in fear of God (OK you pedants! Awesome reverence..) in case we sin and God kills us and throws us into hell? .... in this context Jesus is talking to his disciples... “I tell you, my friends...."

Jesus simply warned that if the Jews who he was preaching to didn't behave themselves they ran the risk of being thrown into Gehenna. The Jewish Council; the Sanhedrin, had various powers to punish Jews brought before them. [note]A quotation from "The Jewish Council, yes that’s the Sanhedrin – because in reality in Jesus’ time the local Beth Dins referred serious cases to this ‘supreme court’. The Sanhedrin was empowered to issue large fines and orders of corporal or capital punishment (although the latter was rarely done – and these powers were much curtailed by Roman law). I understand that ‘Raca’ is an Aramaic word of obscure meaning. But all of the stuff I’ve seen suggests it is an insult to someone’s intelligence – like calling them a thick idiot, or a numbskull. So Jesus seems to be saying that anyone who calls someone an idiot has committed an extremely serious offence that need to be tried in the highest earthly court. He’s talking about bearing false witness; and in a legal sense this means lying in a court of law - this can be policed and people can be brought to justice for it. Calling your neighbour a fool in gossip and back chat is not a legal offence – but according to the law of the heart this is the escalation of anger into false witness. As it was a place of filth, excrement and potential disease it was permanently attended and kept burning to keep the smell and flies down. They probably used pitchforks!

IF the sceptics are right (see [note1] above) and Gehenna wasn't a rubbish dump in Jesus' day, then what on earth was Jesus talking about? If it was a pleasant green valley then what impact would his words have had? It would seem ridiculous that he would warn or threaten about being thrown into the lush green valley just outside Jersualem!

ALL footnotes in ALL modern English Bibles now show that when Jesus' words are translated as 'hell' IN EVERY CASE he used the actual word "Gehenna" - a real place just outside Jerusalem - NOT a place where you were eternally punished after death!

4. All these above
.......eventually and not surprisingly bring theological issues. Some are mentioned in the articles I have pointed you to. Some are not.

       • Consider Matthew 19:16 and Luke 18:18Now a certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’” 21 The man replied, “I have wholeheartedly obeyed all these laws since my youth.” 22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Do we really believe that we gain eternal life by keeping the commandments? What theology is that? Is it not by faith and grace? I guarantee that your Bible will say the same thing as the NET quoted here. And if it does do you believe it? Or perhaps now you will begin to doubt your trusty English translation and be happy to search for more truth like me.

       • What about Revelation 3:1“To the angel of the church in Sardis write the following..." and the six other churches. Here we have an appearance of the risen Christ, giving a message to an earthly John, to give to the 'angel' of the relevant church.... and what pray was the angel supposed to do with it? Give it to someone else? Or maybe... just maybe... it's a bad translation/transliteration.

       • There are many such anomalies and 'errors' but the greatest error in my opinion is the total confusion surrounding the word ‘hell’. As a consequence much more study is required, supported by some of the material above that you hopefully will already have read, and further study is required here below;

Main points;
1. Moses did not teach or preach eternal punishment in a place called hell in an afterlife. He taught that if you did not follow the commandments you were likely to encounter an early GRAVE!

2. Jesus did not teach or preach eternal punishment in a place called hell in an afterlife. He did teach that (as a Jew) if you did not follow the commandments you were likely to encounter a visit to Gehenna via a judgement by the Sanhedrin!

3. Everyone who has ever lived will be resurrected, given a new incorruptible body, and bow the knee (worship) to God.
     John 5:29 and will come out — the ones who have done what is good to the resurrection resulting in life, and the ones who have done what is evil to the resurrection resulting in condemnation.      Acts 24:15 I have a hope in God (a hope that these men themselves accept too) that there is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.      Romans 14:11For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow to me, and every tongue will give praise to God.”      Philippians 2:9-119 As a result God exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.

4. As a consequence of the above hell - the grave - death - Hades - will be done away with.
     Revelation 20:13,14The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and Death and Hades (many Bible versions say "hell" of course!) gave up the dead that were in them, and each one was judged according to his deeds. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death—the lake of fire.      Revelation 21:4"He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death will not exist any more — or mourning, or crying, or pain, for the former things have ceased to exist.”

5. If by now you believe that 'hell' is not what you maybe thought it was, and any words like eternity, everlasting, 'for ever and ever', mean instead a 'period of time defined by the subject word' then you're probably ready to read this next document through. There is some repeated material but not much. It's long, and I have tried to edit out archaic language and textual errors caused by the original document being converted to a PDF poorly. Other than a reconstructed index grid it remains as originally written. Please don't skip this:- A very comprehensive study!

6. So then, if ALL are resurrected, and ALL live on, then the only question that remains is "What is the Lake Of Fire"?
       Please read this next:- a very interesting perspective!
       The Bible says [note]Revelation 20:14,15
Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death - the lake of fire. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, that person was thrown into the lake of fire.
that this is where those who have rejected God go, and not hell.

7. We must look at fire and some 'fire' Scriptures to get a better understanding of what may be going on here.

       • Baptise means 'wash by immersion' - nothing more, nothing less.

       • Etymology: Pure comes from the Latin purus , which derives from the Greek pyr/pur (fire, πύρ; gen: puros, πυρός), as initially fire was used for cleansing .

       •  Malachi 3:2Yet who will endure the day of His coming? And who will stand when He appears? For He is coming like a refiner's fire, and as launderers' soap. Throughout Scripture fire is only very occasionally seen as 'destructive'. Whatever is wrong with us is to be destroyed, not who we are. We are to be refined by washing and fire.... a work of the Holy Spirit.

       •  Matthew 3:10,11Yet already the ax is lying at the root of the trees. Every tree, then, which is not producing ideal fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire. For I, indeed, am washing and immersing you in water for repentance, yet He Who is coming after me is stronger than I, Whose sandals I am not competent to bear. He will be washing and immersing you in Holy Spirit and fire. Even though this sounds terrible it is still in the context of cleansing and refining, not destruction!

       •  Matthew 13:42They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. If the fiery furnace to come was a place of annihilation or destruction there would be no opportunity for weeping or teeth-gnashing. I am not trying to excuse away the fact that God will deal with all those who reject Him.... it will undoubtedly be very unpleasant and will quite probably last a long time. But it is NOT torture and NOT eternal.

       •  1 Corinthians 3:13-16...each builder’s work will be plainly seen, for the Day will make it clear, because it will be revealed by fire. And the fire will test what kind of work each has done. If someone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss. He himself will be saved, but only as through fire. There are a couple of Scriptures, of which this is one, that hint that even believers will not completely escape the final purifying effects of the lake! Luke 12:41-48 tells a parable of the Master returning to his servants. They each either receive reward or a measure of punishment depending on their behaviour in his absence. But note - they were his servants, they knew him, they believed in him and were expecting his return! Sound like anyone you know? The very next verse says “I have come to bring fire on the earth — and how I wish it were already kindled!"

       •  Hebrews 12:29For our God is indeed a devouring fire. God doesn't want to kill us, destroy us, or even devour us - he wants our rebellious, sinful nature to be killed, destroyed and dealt with forever.

Specific awkward Scriptures and problem words
in English Scripture leading to false beliefs that need to be dealt with;

       •  Luke 16:24 So he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in anguish in this fire.’ Actually this is interesting and simple - first - the 'characters' are not in hell (except in it's pure meaning - the grave) or Gehenna, nor the Lake of Fire. They are dead. The parable says so. They have not been resurrected, do not have immortal bodies, and so have not yet reached any afterlife. The simple fact is that is a 'parable', a story with a point - not factual - not intended to teach about the afterlife... but about attitudes and motivations. It plays to the Pharisees treatment of Jesus Himself and the poor.... not teaching theology about life after resurrection.

       •  John 15:6If anyone does not remain in me, he is thrown out like a branch, and dries up; and such branches are gathered up and thrown into the fire, and are burned up. Scripture always helps us to understand Scripture. If we take the above alongside Ezekiel 15:1-51 The word of the LORD came to me: 2 “Son of man, of all the woody branches among the trees of the forest, what happens to the wood of the vine? 3 Can wood be taken from it to make anything useful? Or can anyone make a peg from it to hang things on? 4 "No! It is thrown in the fire for fuel; when the fire has burned up both ends of it and it is charred in the middle, will it be useful for anything? 5 Indeed! If it was not made into anything useful when it was whole, how much less can it be made into anything when the fire has burned it up and it is charred?" The inference here is that although it is "burned up" it still remains as a charred stick, not useful for much - it has not been destroyed, just transformed through burning.

       •  James 3:6And the tongue is a fire! The tongue represents the world of wrongdoing among the parts of our bodies. It pollutes the entire body and sets fire to the course of human existence—and is set on fire by hell (Gehenna again!). Here we have another proof that the writers of the NT simply must have seen the Valley of Gehenna as a place of burning putrefaction. The word translated 'hell' is once again Gehenna! Strong's Concordancesn The word translated hell is “Gehenna” (ge÷enna, geenna), a Greek transliteration of the Hebrew words ge hinnom (“Valley of Hinnom”). This was the valley along the south side of Jerusalem. In OT times it was used for human sacrifices to the pagan god Molech (cf. Jer 7:31; 19:5–6; 32:35), and it came to be used as a place where human excrement and rubbish were disposed of and burned. In the intertestamental period, it came to be used symbolically as the place of divine punishment (cf. 1 En. 27:2, 90:26; 4 Ezra 7:36).

       •  Thessalonians 1:55 This is evidence of God’s righteous judgment, to make you worthy of the kingdom of God, for which in fact you are suffering. 6 For it is right for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7 and to you who are being afflicted to give rest together with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels. 8 With flaming fire he will mete out punishment on those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will undergo the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his strength, As pointed out now many times - God will not resurrect someone, have them worship himself, separate him from the sheep only to destroy him. Death is no more! What will be destroyed is the rebellion in him by the fire of purification, washing and cleansing.

There are many Scriptural words that have a different meaning now to when they were used in Biblical times. Not only that but in the modern day movies, literature, and similar influences change word meaning from the original. When I was a teenager and my bicycle tyres, or my mackintosh were perished they were simply shrivelled, wrinkled, split, etc. not dead, just no longer fit-for-purpose. Nowadays if somebody perishes at sea they are dead!

1. Torment - Revelation 20:10And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet are too, and they will be tormented there day and night forever and ever. I can only find this one New Testament Scripture that indicates anyone in the Lake of Fire will be tormented. Any objections anyone?

2. Torture - Revelation 14:10,1110 that person will also drink of the wine of God’s anger that has been mixed undiluted in the cup of his wrath, and he will be tortured with fire and sulfur in front of the holy angels and in front of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke from their torture will go up forever and ever, and those who worship the beast and his image will have no rest day or night, along with anyone who receives the mark of his name.” So even though this word does appear in terms of spending time in the Lake of Fire it is interesting to note that several Bibles give it the word 'torment' as an alternative.... see above!

Although the Strong's Concordance gives this928. basani÷zw basanizo, bas-an-id´-zo; from 931; to torture: — pain, toil, torment, toss, vex. an online Dictionary gave this928. Meaning: 1) to test (metals) by the touchstone, which is a black siliceous stone used to test the purity of gold or silver by the colour of the streak produced on it by rubbing it with either metal. and Mounce's Greek Dictionary gives thisGK G989 | S G928   basani÷zw   basanizoœ   12x pr. to apply the lapis Lydius or touchstone; met. to examine, scrutinize, try, either by words or torture; so the word meaning has somewhat wandered from it's original. For the Lake of Fire to be a testing and scrutinising of a precious metal makes a lot of sense from the context we are learning, whereupon our 'modern' idea of torture is a far cry from my understanding of a loving fatherly God!

3. Punishment - I can find no reference in any modern Bible to the Lake of Fire as a punishent.

4. Condemn - Matthew 23:33You snakes, you offspring of vipers! How will you escape being condemned (SENTENCED!) to hell
(AGAIN the word in the original is - GEHENNA!)
The English word comes from Latin condemnare "to sentence, doom, blame, disapprove," Again in modern English; a condemned man - he will ultimately die. God's judgement is always just. Yes, those who reject God have 'sentenced' themselves, with only themselves to blame. Yes, God disapproves of their behaviour. But are these self-condemned people going to spend an eternity being tortured in agony?

Or maybe they will spend an age being purified and further tested, whilst being tormented by their own thoughts ("If only I'd listened" maybe?). I think so.

5. ... if you find other Scriptures or words particularly difficult to reconcile with these doubtless-new thoughts then do contact me.

My Conclusions
Through religious fervour, power struggles in the worldwide early church, poor or deliberately wrong translation, unhelpful transliterations and reluctance to correct these printed errors because of tradition; we have finished up with a view of a type of hell, arrived at after death and subsequent resurrection, that is one of punishment and torture, that goes on into eternity. Even if you have only gleaned from all the above that 'eternity' is rarely mentioned in Scripture despite what your English Bible says, then you have gained.

Whatever is endured by those judged to have been God's enemies is not forever - it is for an appropriate time. If you then can grasp that whatever God does/allows is for the purpose of purification, testing, chastisement and the ultimate benefit of those enduring such treatment then you have made further gains in your understanding. A good and loving Father will indeed chastise his sons and daughters for their own good. They may view this in the short term as punishment, yet as they grow older and wiser they appreciate the good parenting they had. If there is an ultimate prize to be had, what Father wouldn't do much more, despite short term pain for the child, to correct, teach, fashion, and more to gain such a prize?

Such is our God. We have grace and mercy and his enduring love. We who receive him now will quickly go into his glorious presence upon our removal from the earthly life. Those others who do not will need to be corrected, chastised, and washed.... after they have bowed the knee to him.... even though it take millennia in a hugely uncomfortable scenario of a Lake of Fire..... it would be worth it for all parties.

What I cannot say is that I have any idea whatsoever of the fate of those enduring the Lake of Fire. I neither preach Universalism (that everyone is ultimately 'saved') nor that these from the Lake of Fire will receive the same benefits in 'heaven' that those who received God in the earthly life will receive. There is no clue in Scripture that pertains to their fate so I will not guess, nor should you.

Other issues to be looked at;
1. The New Jerusalem
2. The Second coming of Christ

COMMENT - Our pop-culture-world-view of hell as a place where anyone who does not bow the knee to Christ is thrown into a place of pain and torment for all eternity under the charge of pitchfork-wielding devils and Satan is patently un-Scriptural and untrue.

1 Corinthians 15:20 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also came through a man. 22 For just as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ, the firstfruits; then when Christ comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, when he has brought to an end all rule and all authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be eliminated is death. 27 For he has put everything in subjection under his feet. But when it says “everything” has been put in subjection, it is clear that this does not include the one who put everything in subjection to him. 28 And when all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will be subjected to the one who subjected everything to him, so that God may be all in all.