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Afterlife; Biblical themes

Descriptions of Hell in the New
Testament (location and temperature)

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According to Terry Watkins at Dial-the-Truth Ministries:

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There are over 162 references in the Christian Scriptures (New Testament) that warn of Hell.

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Over 70 of these references are attributed to Jesus.

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According to the gospels, Jesus spoke more on Hell than on any other subject. However, many skeptics and religious liberals suggest that the frequency with which Hell appears in individual gospels may reflect the beliefs of their authors or of the authors' faith group more than that of Jesus.

The word Hell in the Christian Scriptures appears frequently in:
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Mark (3 occurrences),

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Matthew (12),

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Luke (3),

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Acts (2),

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Revelation (4).

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Where is Hell located?

The concensus of the writers of the Christian Scriptures was that Hell is located underground, at some location inside the earth:

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The Bible states that after his death, Jesus descended into Hell. But his soul did not remain there, nor did his body decay. The implication is that Hell is located underground, apparently in a cavern deep under the surface of the earth. Consider:
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Matthew 12:40: "For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." 2 [If interpreted literally, this passage does conflict with other verses in the Bible which imply that Jesus was buried on a Friday afternoon, and resurrected very early on Sunday morning, totaling three days but only two nights.]

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Acts 2:29-31: "...let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried...Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption."

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Romans 10:6-7: " Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)"

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Ephesians 4:7-9: "But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?)"

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The Apostles' Creed: "...Jesus Christ...died, and was buried, He descended into Hell. The third day, he rose again from the dead."

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Evidence that Hell exists under the earth:

There have been a number of claims that Hell (or an entrance way to Hell) has been located:

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The "Hell Hole" Hoax: This was broadcast on three episodes of a Trinity Broadcasting Network program in the early 1990s. It involved a deep well allegedly drilled in Siberia. The scientists lowered a microphone into the "hell hole" and allegedly recorded the sounds of millions (perhaps billions) of people being tortured deep under the earth. 3The claim was quickly shown to be a hoax, dreamed up by an editor of a conservative Christian newsletter. The Biblical Archaeology Review printed a story about the Well to Hell. They felt that the story was so outrageous that nobody would believe it. But many of their readers did. Now, almost a decade later, the hoax is still being presented as fact. 1 More details.

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"Stairway to Hell:" Some horror movies include some sort of access port that connects Hell to the earth's surface.  One urban legend states that just such a stairway exists in the small town of Stull, near  Lawrence, KS. The gateway to Hell is rumored to be in or near a collapsing church in an ancient cemetery. The tale apparently originated in a recording by an alternative music group Urge Overkill; the album cover had a picture of the cemetery and church. There are a number of tall tales related to this area. None are believed to have any validity.

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Near Death Experiences (NDE): Dr. Maurice Rawlings, a specialist in internal medicine and cardiovascular disease, wrote a book in 1979 in which he recorded the NDE memories of some of his patients. These are individuals who have suffered a clinical death (generally, their heart stopped and breathing ceased). But before real or biological death happened, as their brain cells were being starved of oxygen, they went through a very special experience. When they were returned to life, most remembered passing through a long luminous tunnel, feeling at peace, sensing love, being welcomed, and talking to God or to long-dead family members. But others recalled a deeply disturbing experience. They felt that they were being drawn down into Hell. They remembered heat, flames, screams of the inhabitants, etc. Dr. Rawlings wrote that, according to his patients, "...this place seems to be underground or within the earth in some way." 5 Many skeptics suggest that NDEs are simply hallucinations caused by the person's brain cells being starved of oxygen and their brain gradually shutting down. Those who expect to go to heaven after death would probably have a positive experience. The small minority who believes that they are destined for Hell would likely have their hallucinations also match their expectations.

To our knowledge, no hard evidence of Hell either inside or outside of the earth has ever been reported.

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The temperature of Hell:

In the Christian Scriptures, one of the most common attributes mentioned about Hell is its high temperature:

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Matthew 13:42: "And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth."

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Matt 25:41: "Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." This passage relates to Jesus' judgment of all the world. It describes precisely how Jesus will separate the "sheep" -- those who will spend eternity with God in Heaven -- and the "goats" -- those who will be tortured for all eternity in Hell. The criteria was based on the good works (or lack thereof) of people while they lived on earth. This conflicts with many references in the Christian Scriptures which specify that salvation depends upon one's beliefs, not good works.

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Mark 9:43-48: And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched." The reference to fire is repeated three more times in the passage for emphasis.

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Luke 16:24: "And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame." This is a plea described as coming from an inhabitant of Hell.

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Revelation 20:13-15: "...hell delivered up the dead which were in them...And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."

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Revelation 21:8: "But the fearful, and unbelieving ... shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone." Brimstone is sulphur. In order for sulphur to form a lake, it must be molten. Thus, its temperature must be:

  • At or above its melting point of 239.4 °F (115.2 °C), and

  • Below its boiling point of 832 °F (444.6 °C)

That is one uncomfortable environment! 

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References used:

  1. "The Shocking Truth About Hell - Does it really exist?," Dial-the-Truth Ministries, at: http://www.av1611.org/hell.html
  2. King James Version of the Bible.
  3. You will need a RealAudio player to hear the recording. It can be downloaded free at: http://www.real.com/
  4. Maurice Rawlings, "Beyond death's door: The life after life bestseller," Bantam reissue (1991). Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store
  5. Ibid, Page 85
  6. Fr. John Furniss, "The sight of Hell," at http://home.att.net/
  7. Ron Weber, "Welcome to the Hell page," at: http://what-the-hell-is-hell.com/ The author initially wanted to prove that Hell exists. He concluded that "main stream Christianity seems to be pushing a non-biblical doctrine....Today's definition of HELL...doesn't seem to be taught in the original manuscripts that make up the Bible.

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Copyright 2002 to 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2014-FEB-03
Author: B.A. Robinson

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