“I don’t understand it,” said the caller. “It sounds like you’re saying there is no hell…”
If your idea of hell is a place, perhaps located in the center of the earth, where wicked souls suffer eternal torture in fire and brimstone, supervised by the devil and his demons — no — there is no such place.
You can’t make a scriptural case for this kind of hell unless you select certain passages and discard others — and even then your case shaky at best. This popular notion of hell is an unholy marriage of ancient pagan ideas about the underworld and the afterlife with selected Biblical passages taken out of context.
The fact is, there are three Greek words with different meanings in the New Testament that are unfortunately translated into English as hell in the King James version. But the English word hell comes with a ton of baggage. In pre-Christian Germanic mythology it (or similar words) referred to a nether world where the dead were punished — and the word has helped carry this pagan concept into Christianity, along with other concepts of a fiery underworld borrowed from ancient Greco-Roman mythology.
But when we dump all this baggage and examine the Scriptural passages that deal with punishment in the afterlife, and when we see that the passages vary in their description of the nature of that punishment, we are left with this simple, unconfusing concept: “hell” is eternal separation from God.
– Monte Wolverton