Sin’s Penalty. The Two Hells.
“But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Rom. 6:22-23)
What is the penalty of sin?
“But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (Gen. 2:17)
“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned . . . For if through the offence of one many be dead . . . by one man’s offence death reigned by one . . .” (Rom. 5:12, 15, 17)
“Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? . . . for the end of those things is death. . . . For the wages of sin is death.” (Rom. 6:16, 21, 23)
“For since by man came death . . . For as in Adam all die . . . The sting of death is sin.” (1 Cor. 15:21-22, 56)
“Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” (Jas. 1:15)
Does the soul die?
“Their soul [Hebrew nephesh] dieth in youth, and their life is among the unclean.” (Job 36:14, Darby)
“He . . . spared not their soul from death . . .” (Psa. 78:50)
“Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin . . . he hath poured out his soul unto death.” (Isa. 53:10, 12)
“Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.” (Ezek. 18:4)
“Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.” (Matt. 26:38)
“Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way, shall save a soul from death . . .” (Jas. 5:20)
Is the death penalty a form of life?
“See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil . . . I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.” (Deut. 30:15, 19)
“That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Rom. 5:21)
“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Rom. 6:23)
“For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” (Rom. 8:13)
Is the soul’s existence conditional or unconditional?
“For the kingdom is the Lord’s . . . and none can keep alive his own soul.” (Psa. 22:28-29)
“O Lord, thou hast brought up my soul from the grave: thou hast kept me alive . . .” (Psa. 30:3)
“Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy; To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.” (Psa. 33:18-19)
“Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live.” (Isa. 55:3)
“Again, when the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive.” (Ezek. 18:27)
What does death as sin’s penalty mean?
(1) Cutting off: “Whosoever . . . goeth unto the holy things . . . having his uncleanness upon him, that soul shall be cut off from my presence.” (Lev. 22:3) “But the soul that doeth ought presumptuously . . . the same reproacheth the Lord; and that soul shall be cut off from among his people.” (Num. 15:30) “For evildoers shall be cut off . . . they that be cursed of him shall be cut off. . . . the wicked are cut off . . .” (Psa. 37:9, 22, 34)
(2) Perishing: “By the blast of God they perish . . .” (Job 4:9) “My brethren have dealt deceitfully . . . they go to nothing, and perish.” (Job 6:15, 18) “But the wicked shall perish . . .” (Psa. 37:20) “For, lo, they that are far from thee shall perish.” (Psa. 73:27) “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
(3) Devouring: “If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” (Isa. 1:19-20) “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.” (Heb. 10:26-27)
(4) Consuming: “But . . . the enemies of the Lord shall be as the fat of lambs . . . into smoke shall they consume away.” (Psa. 37:20) “Let the sinners be consumed out of the earth . . .” (Psa. 104:35) “And . . . they that forsake the Lord shall be consumed.” (Isa. 1:28) “By . . . the breath of his nostrils are they consumed.” (Job 4:9) “For our God is a consuming fire.” (Heb. 12:29)
(5) Destruction: “Is not destruction to the wicked?” (Job 31:3) “Thou hast rebuked the heathen, thou hast destroyed the wicked, thou hast put out their name for ever and ever.” (Psa. 9:5) “But the transgressors shall be destroyed together: the end of the wicked shall be cut off.” (Psa. 37:38) “The Lord preserveth all them that love him: but all the wicked will he destroy.” (Psa. 145:20) “And the destruction of the transgressors and of the sinners shall be together . . .” (Isa. 1:28) “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matt. 10:28) “And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.” (Acts 3:23) “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy.” (1 Cor. 3:17) “Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction . . .” (2 Thess. 1:9) “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you . . . even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. . . . But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed . . . shall utterly perish in their own corruption.” (2 Pet. 2:1, 12)
(6) Extinction: “As the cloud is consumed and vanisheth away: so he that goeth down to the grave shall come up no more.” (Job 7:9) “For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be. . . . I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree. Yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not: yea, I sought him, but he could not be found.” (Psa. 37:10, 35-36) “Nevertheless man being in honour abideth not: he is like the beasts that perish.” (Psa. 49:12) “Let . . . the wicked be no more.” (Psa. 104:35) “. . . they shall be as though they had not been.” (Obad. 16)
What does Christ’s death as our ransom prove sin’s penalty to be?
“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. . . . for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. . . . thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin . . . he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” (Isa. 53:5, 8, 10, 12)
“Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Matt. 20:28)
“But for us also . . . if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.” (Rom. 4:24-25)
“For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. . . . But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. . . . when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son . . .” (Rom. 5:6, 8, 10)
“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures.” (1 Cor. 15:3)
“For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead.” (2 Cor. 5:14)
“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.” (Heb. 2:9)
“For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.” (1 Pet. 3:18)
What can save us from sin’s penalty?
(1) Repentance: “And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” (Luke 24:47) “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.” (Acts 3:19) “Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.” (Acts 5:31)
(2) Faith: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. . . . He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:14-15, 18) “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” (John 5:24) “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” (John 11:25) “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.” (Acts 10:43) “Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.” (Acts 13:38-39)
THE TWO HELLS
Where does the Bible teach two hells?
“And death and  Hades were cast into  the lake of fire. This is the second death, even the lake of fire.” (Rev. 20:14, ASV)
What does the New Testament call the two hells?
(1) Hades: “And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell [Greek Hades] delivered up the dead which were in them.” (Rev. 20:13)
(2) Gehenna: “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell [Greek Gehenna]?” (Matt. 23:33) (Gehenna, or the valley of Hinnom, was where the refuse of Jerusalem was cast out and burned.)
What does the Old Testament call both hells?
(1) Sheol (the first): “For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell [Hebrew Sheol]; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.” (Psa. 16:10)
(2) Sheol (the second): “As the cloud is consumed and vanisheth away: so he that goeth down to the grave [Sheol] shall come up no more.” (Job 7:9)
Who goes to the first Sheol (Hades)?
(1) The evil: “Let death seize upon them, and let them go down quick into hell [Sheol]: for wickedness is in their dwellings, and among them.” (Psa. 55:15) “Let me not be ashamed O Lord; for I have called upon thee: let the wicked be ashamed, and let them be silent in the grave [Sheol].” (Psa. 31:17)
(2) The good: “For I [Jacob] will go down into the grave [Sheol] unto my son mourning.” (Gen. 37:35) “Oh, that thou wouldest hide me [Job] in the grave [Sheol], that thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me!” (Job 14:13) “For thou wilt not leave my [Jesus’] soul in hell [Sheol].” (Psa. 16:10 – compare Acts 2:27-31)
What puts people in the first Sheol (Hades)?
(1) Sin: “O death, where is thy sting? O grave [Hades], where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin.” (1 Cor. 15:55-56)
(2) Death: The sorrows of hell [Sheol] compassed me about: the snares of death prevented me.” (Psa. 18:5)
(3) Trouble: “For my soul is full of troubles: and my life draweth nigh unto the grave [Sheol].” (Psa. 88:3)
(4) Pain: “The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell [Sheol] gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow.” (Psa. 116:3)
When do people enter the first Sheol (Hades) and when do they leave?
They enter at death: “They shall go down to the bars of the pit [Sheol], when our rest together is in the dust.” (Job 17:16) “They spend their days in wealth, and in a moment go down to the grave [Sheol].” (Job 21:13) “Her house is the way to hell [Sheol], going down to the chambers of death.” (Prov. 7:27)
They leave at the awakening of the dead: “So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep. O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave [Sheol], that thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me!” (Job 14:12-13) “He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell [Hades], neither his flesh did see corruption.” (Acts 2:31) “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God . . . And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell [Hades] delivered up the dead which were in them.” (Rev. 20:12-13)
Is there life or consciousness in the first Sheol (Hades)?
There is no life: “The Lord killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave [Sheol], and bringeth up.” (1 Sam. 2:6) “O Lord, thou hast brought up my soul from the grave [Sheol]: thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.” (Psa. 30:3) “What man is he that liveth, and shall not see death? shall he deliver his soul from the hand of the grave [Sheol]?” (Psa. 89:48) “Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell [Sheol].” (Prov. 5:5) “And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell [Hades] followed with him.” (Rev. 6:8)
There is no consciousness: “For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave [Sheol] who shall give thee thanks?” (Psa. 6:5) “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave [Sheol], whither thou goest.” (Eccl. 9:10) “For the grave [Sheol] cannot praise thee, death can not celebrate thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth. The living, the living, he shall praise thee, as I do this day.” (Isa. 38:18-19)
Is there other scriptural proof of this unconscious state?
Scriptures that teach it plainly: “His sons come to honour, and he knoweth it not; and they are brought low, but he perceiveth it not of them.” (Job 14:21) “The dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into silence.” (Psa. 115:17) “His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.” (Psa. 146:4) “For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing . . . Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished.” (Eccl. 9:5-6)
Scriptures that show it figuratively: “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake . . .” (Dan. 12:2) “Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.” (John 11:11-14) “And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep. And Saul was consenting unto his death.” (Acts 7:60, 8:1) “And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. . . . But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.” (1 Cor. 15:17-18, 20)
Will the first Sheol (Hades) be destroyed?
“But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave [Sheol].” (Psa. 49:15)
“I will ransom them from the power of the grave [Sheol]; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave [Sheol], I will be thy destruction.” (Hos. 13:14)
“And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell [Hades] shall not prevail against it.” (Matt. 16:18)
“So . . . then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave [Hades], where is thy victory?” (1 Cor. 15:54-55)
“I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell [Hades] and of death.” (Rev. 1:18)
“And death and hell [Hades] were cast into the lake of fire.” (Rev. 20:14)
How is Gehenna, the second hell, symbolized in the book of Revelation? What is Gehenna?
Gehenna is symbolized by a lake of fire: “And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet . . . These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.” (Rev. 19:20) “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are . . . And death and hell [Hades] were cast into the lake of fire.” (Rev. 20:10, 14)
Gehenna is the Second Death: “And death and hell [Hades] 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.” (Rev. 20:14-15) “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” (Rev. 21:8)
What is the fate of all cast into Gehenna?
(1) The devil: “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.” (Heb. 2:14) “He shall . . . break in pieces the oppressor.” (Psa. 72:4) “In that day the Lord with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea.” (Isa. 27:1)
(2) The beast: “And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming.” (2 Thess. 2:8)
(3) The false prophet: “Associate yourselves, O ye people, and ye shall be broken in pieces . . . Take counsel together, and it shall come to nought; speak the word, and it shall not stand . . . Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy.” (Isa. 8:9-10, 12)
(4) Death: “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” (1 Cor. 15:26) “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” (Rev. 21:4)
(6) Incorrigible sinners: “Is not destruction to the wicked?” (Job 31:3) “Thou hast rebuked the heathen, thou has destroyed the wicked, thou hast put out their name for ever and ever.” (Psa. 9:5) “But the transgressors shall be destroyed together: the end of the wicked shall be cut off.” (Psa. 37:38) “When the wicked spring as the grass, and when all the workers of iniquity do flourish; it is that they shall be destroyed for ever.” (Psa. 92:7) “The Lord preserveth all them that love him: but all the wicked will he destroy.” (Psa. 145:20) “And the destruction of the transgressors and of the sinners shall be together, and they that forsake the Lord shall be consumed.” (Isa. 1:28) “And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.” (Acts 3:23) “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy.” (1 Cor. 3:17) “. . . they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction . . .” (Phil. 3:18-19) “In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction . . .” (2 Thess. 1:8-9) “But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption.” (2 Pet. 2:12)
What is the primary definition of the Greek “basanos,” translated “torment” in Revelation?
(1) To test (as testing metals by the touchstone): “If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented [tested] with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment [testing] ascendeth up for ever and ever.” (Rev. 14:9-11)
(2) To examine: “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented [examined] day and night for ever and ever.” (Rev. 20:10 – Compare to Isa. 14:15-20)
Literal Jerusalem destroyed its refuse in literal Gehenna. What will New Jerusalem do with its figurative refuse?
Cast it out: “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.” (Rev. 22:14-15)
Destroy it: “But I say unto you . . . whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell [Gehenna] fire.” (Matt. 5:22) “And . . . fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell [Gehenna].” (Matt. 10:28) “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 [Gehenna], into the fire that never shall be quenched . . . And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell [Gehenna], into the fire that never shall be quenched . . . And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell [Gehenna] fire: Where their worm [destruction] dieth not, and the fire [destruction] is not quenched.” (Mark 9:43, 45, 47-48)
If the sheep and goats of Matt. 25:31-46 are not literal but figurative, what should we conclude about the fire of this parable?
The fire represents punishment: “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.” (Matt. 25:41)
The punishment is everlasting: “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.” (Matt. 25:46)
The punishment is death, the cutting off from life: “For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth. For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be. . . . the seed of the wicked shall be cut off.” (Psa. 37:9-10, 28) “Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord . . .” (2 Thess. 1:9)
What are some Old Testament references to Gehenna, the Second Death?
“The wicked shall be turned back [Hebrew shuwb – to return or turn back] unto Sheol, Even all the nations that forget God.” (Psa. 9:17, ASV)
“To the wise the way of life goeth upward, That he may depart from Sheol beneath.” (Prov. 15:24, ASV)
“Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell [Sheol].” (Prov. 23:14)
“Yet thou [Lucifer] shalt be brought down to hell [Sheol], to the sides of the pit.” (Isa. 14:15)
Will any be recovered from the Second Death?
“As the cloud is consumed and vanisheth away: so he that goeth down to the grave shall come up no more.” (Job 7:9)
“And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm [destruction] shall not die, neither shall their fire [destruction] be quenched.” (Isa. 66:24)
“He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.” (Prov. 29:1)
Taken from Epiphany Studies in the Scriptures, Volume 17, pages 450-460 and 467-471. Edited for clarity and length.
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