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Who Goes To Hell According To The Bible

The Bible: Who Goes To Hell?

When examining the biblical teachings regarding who goes to Hell, many people often find themselves confronted with a range of complex questions. While it is widely accepted within Christianity that a portion of people will suffer eternal punishment after life, the details of who are included in this group remains uncertain. In this article, we will explore the research and take a closer look at the biblical teachings about who will be subject to eternal punishment in the afterlife.
In the New Testament, Jesus Christ is recorded as having spoken in depth about the concept of Hell, equating it to a place of ‘everlasting fire’ and a home for the ‘devil and his angels’. His teachings raise further questions regarding who exactly is destined to spend eternity in this place of torment. Jesus refers to Hell as both a ‘place of punishment’, and a ‘place of weeping and gnashing of teeth’. It is also recorded that Jesus addresses a group of people when discussing this topic, warning them about the eternal punishment of those who will go there. Consequently, some experts have used this practice to construct a broad definition of who will suffer this fate. This definition includes those who fail to take note of the warnings of Jesus, or who are guilty of deliberate sin and disbelief towards the gospel.
At this point, we may be led to assume that only non-Christians will suffer in Hell, but this is not necessarily the case. Many verses demonstrate that God’s intentions reach far beyond these strictly superficial criteria. One example of this divine breadth is found in the parable of the wheat and the tares, in which Jesus appears to suggest that both good and bad citizens will find themselves welcoming eternal punishment. It is then concluded by some that those who lead unruly, uncommitted lives are doomed to suffer in Hell, regardless of whether or not they have accepted Jesus as their savior.
The biblical definition of ‘eternal punishment’ remains quite general and has been subject to a vast array of interpretations over the centuries. According to the Universalist tradition, for instance, this form of punishment does not include an everlasting physical torment, but an entirely separate, spiritual consequence. This interpretation is supported by some Biblical texts, in which Jesus speaks of a ‘punishment of utter destruction’ awaiting those headed for an eternity of suffering, rather than a literal place of fire. This presents an interesting contrast between the beliefs of Pharisees renown for their belief in eternal torture, and the teachings of Jesus, which appear to invoke a more subtle understanding of the concept.
However, what is made perfectly clear to practitioners of Christianity is the notion that reckless, disobedient behaviour is likened to ‘fire that will never be quenched’, as stated in the book of Mark. This offers further insight into who Jesus himself intended to be subject to Hell. Additionally, this verse appears to allude to the fact that one’s own behaviour can lead them to damnation, suggesting the presence of ‘free will’ throughout the entirety of the process.

Kings In Hell

In addition to those living under their own free will, the Bible also references the inclusion of ‘kings and rulers’ in their list of those suited for eternal punishment. This is mentioned throughout the scriptures, from the New Testament, to the book of Daniel, conveying to its readers that those in power do not possess any special immunity from the wrath of God.
By examining the various accounts of sinners in the Bible, we can gain a clearer understanding of the types of people most likely to be sentenced to Hell. In particular, Jesus seems to single out those who have been given the chance to repent and have failed to do so. When presented with the opportunity of redemption, those who forego this chance then fall subject to the judgement of Jesus Christ. This indicates a very clear line between those who actively reject His message and those who never hear it.

False Doctrine

False doctrine is yet another factor which will see to the judgement of God upon a particular person or group of people. This is elaborated upon in the fourth chapter of Galatians, where false teachers preaching their own doctrines are warned about the eternal punishment awaiting them. This highlights the danger of idolatry and false gods, as those who put their trust in the wrong places are put at risk of eternal torture.
Additionally, it is made clear throughout the scriptures that simply being associated with an individual that is condemned to an eternity of suffering can be just as detrimental. Whereas previously mentioned, individuals were judged for their own offences, this emphasises the fact that even those who are not involved in the same manner are still susceptible to punishment, if only through the association of others.

Unforgivable Sin

Certain sins are considered to be so grave in nature that Jesus Christ himself has provided stark warnings against them. Throughout the gospel narratives, Jesus exhorts against blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, suggesting that any undertaking of such acts will be met with eternal punishment, ‘either in this age or in the age to come’. This therefore implies that even amongst those who have sought to reform their faith-knowing lifestyle, avoiding such transgressions is essential if they are to escape the eternal fires of Hell.

Homosexual Activity

The Bible also speaks out vociferously against those who engage in homosexual activity, with many verses from both the Old and New Testaments indicating the sinfulness of such acts. As such, it is widely claimed by Christian theologians that those who carry out such acts and do not repent for them are indicative of candidates for eternal damnation.
However, looking at the broader context and commentaries of scholars on the topic, this understanding appears to be subject to debate. A more modern, progressive reading of the Bible has indicated that rather than condeming the act of homosexuality in-of-itself, the scriptures are taking offence to the general misuses of a God-given gift and are instead calling for ‘clarity of faith’ from its readers.

Population Of Hell

Admittedly, the teachings of the Bible on who goes to Hell remain quite precarious at best. With verses providing both contrasting and complementary understandings on the matter, the exact population of the afterlife hangs in a state of the unknown. Perhaps this lack of closure is intentional, as it helps to emphasise the gravity of the situation, pushing humanity to make more conscious, life-altering decisions based on the belief in a greater power.
What is clear however is that the judgment of God is final, and that salvation is only promised to those who strive to live according to the Holy Book. What’s more, complete and sincere repentance before death is now considered a necessary component in the journey towards eternal life. Therefore, using the Word of God to guide their everyday life, rather than certainty their ticket to Heaven, may prove the most effective way to sidestep the fires of Hell.

Damnation Of The Soul

Apart from physical punishment, the Bible also speaks of a punishment of the soul. In Matthew 10:28, Jesus warns against ‘fear of those who can destroy both soul and body’. Later, in the New Testament, he instructs his disciples on the significance of keeping their souls safely hidden from destruction, as the Lord will reward those who do so. An extension of this message is found in one of the most renowned parables of Jesus, ‘The Rich Man and Lazarus’, in which a soul is reportedly suffering in Hades ‘in torment’ due to its deeds in life. This speaks of the lasting, even eternal, consequences of sin on the soul.
This introduces the idea of Hell being much more than a physical place. In fact, several verses demonstrate that it could be considered in spiritual or emotional terms too. This would mean that Hell also represents a person’s internal suffering due to a general lack of faith or an absolute rejection of Jesus. The moral thus being that salvation lies not only in the belief of Jesus, but in the conscious effort to live out his teachings too.

Hell’s Pathways

The Bible makes no secret of the fact that there are many pathways to Hell. Some of these include familiar transgressions such as intoxication and revelry, but these are by no means exclusive. As previously illustrated, disobedience of Jesus’s directives, immersion in false doctrines and neglecting repentance are all considered to be pathways to eternal damnation. Equally, as if to highlight the importance of faith and self-knowledge, even failing to use one’s own current abilities to their full potential can be seen as a method of forfeiting a certain path to Heaven.
This raises an interesting point; the Bible actively recognizes that salvation does not come from one’s station in life, but from one’s choices. Please understand, then, that Hell is not a place that everyone is automatically sent to. It is instead a consequence of the decisions one makes during their life, lending greater focus to the often-recited principle of responsibility – a person has to experience the consequences of every action they make.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the biblical teachings around who goes to Hell remain quite complicated and mysterious. Despite the uncertainty, Jesus’s attitude toward the subject speaks of a pointed condemnation of those who fail to repent, while also celebrating those who sincerely seek redemption. The vast range of sinful acts outlined by the scriptures eventually leads to important questions about one’s own spiritual journey and sense of accountability. In answering these, individuals can gain more insight regarding the horror of Hell and just how much of a consequence it can be for those who choose to ignore the call of Jesus.

Hilda Scott is an avid explorer of the Bible and inteprator of its gospel. She is passionate about researching and uncovering the mysteries that lie in this sacred book. She hopes to use her knowledge and expertise to bring faith and God closer to people all around the world.

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