Bible Study Questions

Principal Point of Faith #4:
Hell and Purgatory

1. What is Hell?

(a) Hell is often believed to be a place of eternal punishment (torment) for the wicked. We do not believe the Bible supports this belief. In other words, hell, as taught in the fundamental churches, does not exist.

(b) When we read the word “hell” in the Old Testament of our Bible; it has been translated from the original Hebrew language Sheol.

The word Sheol is translated “hell” 31 times and “grave” 31 times. It means literally the “grave, destruction, pit, annihilation.”

Psalms 16:10 (NKJV)
For You will not leave my soul in [hell] Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.

Ezekiel l32:27-29
And they shall not lie with the mighty that are fallen of the uncircumcised, which are gone down to hell (Sheol) with their weapons of war…
There is Edom, her kings, and all her princes… with them that go down to the pit (Sheol)

(c) “Hades” is the original word translated “hell” in most of the passages where it is used in the New Testament. Its meaning is the grave.

Matthew 11:23
And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades; for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.

Matthew 16:18
And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.

(d) There is no knowledge or activity in the grave, “Hades” or “Sheol.”

Ecclesiastes 9:5
For the living know that they will die; But the dead know nothing, And they have no more reward, For the memory of them is forgotten

Ecclesiastes 9:10
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.


2. What is the punishment of the wicked as taught in the Bible?

(a) The Bible teaches that the reward (punishment) for wrongdoing and impenitence is simply death.

“The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23).

“Broad is the way that leads to destruction” (Matt. 7:13).

The wicked shall be “punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord” (2 Thess. 1:9).

“The wicked shall be cut off from the earth” (Prov. 2:22).


3. Who goes to the hell of the Bible?

(a) Everyone who dies, good or bad. When Jesus was buried he laid in “hell” (Hades), and when he was raised from the dead he came out of “hell” (Hades).

At Pentecost, Peter said, citing a prophecy of Jesus,

Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

Thou has made known to me the ways of life, thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.

Men and brethren, let me speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.

Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God has sworn with an oath to him, that 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. —Acts 2:27-31 (KJV)


4. Who will be resurrected?

(a) The “dead in Christ” will be resurrected, those who have agreed to serve God and give Him their lives. They must be brought back to life so they can be judged and receive for what they have done (2 Cor. 5:10).

5. What is “Hell fire”

(a) In Revelation 21:8, the “lake of fire” is the final destination of all evildoers. What is it? The passage answers the question for us. The lake of fire is the second death.

Revelation 21:8 (NKJV)
But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

(b) The New Testament was first written in Greek; and the Greek word that Jesus used when he spoke of “hell fire” is “fire of Gehenna” (See Matthew 10:28; James 3:6).


6. What is Gehenna?

(a) This is actually the name of a place near Jerusalem. Literally, it was Gehenna, or Ge-Hinnom (valley of Hinnom), a real place on the south-west side of Jerusalem. In the Old Testament the Israelites behaved abominably and sacrificed their children in the fire there (Jeremiah 32:35). In later times it was where Jerusalem’s rubbish was destroyed by fires that never went out. Consequently in the New Testament it was associated with permanent death, destruction, annihilation, as the fires of Gehenna destroy the rubbish of Jerusalem.

Isaiah 66:24 (NKJV)
And they shall go forth and look upon the corpses of men who have transgressed against Me. For their worm does not die, and their fire is not quenched. They shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.

Mark 9:43 (NKJV)
If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched—

2 Thessalonians 1:9 (NKJV)
These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power


7. What is purgatory?

(a) Purgatory is a doctrine of the Catholic Church about an intermediate state after death first upheld by the Council of Carthage in 394 A.D. It is described as a location or state of temporal punishment where most “souls” go at the time of death to be purified, so that eventually the person will be eligible to be transferred to Heaven Purgatory is not taught in the Bible.

(b) The Bible teaches that when one’s life ends, his or her opportunity to attain salvation ends also. There is no consciousness after death (Ps. 147:4; Ecc. 9:5) and no opportunity to change one’s status with God.

“In the place where the tree falls, there it shall lie” (Eccl. 11:3).
“Behold now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2).


8. What happens when we die?

(a) After death, all sleep in the grave until the resurrection at the time of Jesus’ return (Job 14:14; 17:13). At that time the “dead in Christ,” those who have served God (1 Thess. 4:16) will awake, to be judged and rewarded for what they have done (Luke 14:14; 1 Pet. 5:4).

2 Corinthians 5:10
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

Luke 14:14
And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.

1 Peter 5:4
And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.