Andy Naselli and the NT Doctrine of Hell

Posted: April 23, 2014 in Uncategorized

In 2010 Dr. Naselli wrote an article for the 9Marks E-Journal that discusses the NT doctrine of hell. Naselli does a wonderful job describing the different ways we could interpret the different images of hell that we find in the NT. As usual, Naselli asks good questions and provides helpful answers. I commend part of that post to you here with a link to the full article below.

The New Testament graphically and horrifically describes hell. And that raises a thorny question: How should we interpret those dreadful images? May we simply label them “metaphors” to soften their bite?[1]

HOW DOES THE NEW TESTAMENT DESCRIBE HELL?

In their recent little book What Is Hell?, Christopher W. Morgan and Robert A. Peterson succinctly summarize what the Bible teaches about hell in the following five truths.[2]

  1. “Hell is punishment” (2 Thess. 1:5–10Rev. 20:10–15). God justly punishes people as retribution for their moral crimes against him. Hell is not even close to a big party. Jesus teaches that it would be better to cut off your hand or foot or to tear out your eye than to use them to sin and consequently suffer the just penalty in hell (Matt. 5:27–30Mark 9:42–48).
  2. “Hell is destruction” and death (Matt. 7:13–14John 3:12 Thess. 1:9). It’s the ultimate way to waste your life.
  3. “Hell is banishment” (Matt. 7:2325:41Rev. 22:15). Hell is the place where God banishes rebels from his kingdom once and for all.
  4. “Hell is a place of suffering.” The Bible depicts hell with images that produce shock and fear: darkness, fire, and suffering.

    Darkness
    . Those in hell are bound “hand and foot” and then thrown into “the outer darkness” (Matt. 8:12;22:1325:30). “The gloom of utter darkness” awaits them (Jude 13).

    Fire
    . Those in hell are thrown “into the fiery furnace” (Matt. 13:4250), and they burn with “unquenchable fire” (Mark 3:129:43). “Their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:48). God’s judgment is “a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries” (Heb. 10:27). Those in hell “drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger” and are “tormented with fire and sulfur” (Rev. 14:10). They are “thrown into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:15; cf. 19:2020:101421:8).

    Suffering
    . Nothing on earth hurts like hell. The severe conscious punishment in hell hurts physically, emotionally, and mentally. That’s why “there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 8:1213:42,5022:1324:5125:30Luke 13:28). God warns the wicked who are rich, “Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire” (James 5:3).
  5. “Hell is eternal” (Matt. 25:4146; Jude 7, 13; Rev. 14:10–1120:10). It lasts forever and ever. It never ever ends. There’s no relief in sight, ever.

The New Testament—especially Jesus himself—vividly and repeatedly depicts each of these five truths, but the way it depicts the fourth raises the particular issue that this article addresses.

Read the entire article here: Hellfire and Brimstone: Interpreting the New Testament’s Descriptions of Hell

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