Important Facts

1. Gehenna was a well-known locality near Jerusalem. see Josh. 15:8; 2 Kings 17:10; 2 Chron. 28:3; Jer. 7:31-32; 19:2.

2. Gehenna is never employed in the Old Testament to mean anything else than the locality with which every Jew was familiar.

3. The word should have been left untranslated as it is in some versions, and it would not be misunderstood. It should no more be rendered Hell than should Babylon. It was not misunderstood by the Jews to whom Jesus addressed it. Walter Balfour well says:" "What meaning would the Jews who were familiar with this word, and knew it to signify the valley of Hinnom, be likely to attatch to it, when the heard it used by our Lord?"

4. The French Bible, the Emphatic Diaglott, Improved Version, Wakefield's Translation, and Newcomb's retain the proper noun, Gehenna, the name of the well-known place.

5. Gehenna is never mentioned in the Apocrypha as a place of future punishment, as it would have been, had such been its meaning before and at the time of Christ.

6. No Jewish writer contemporary with Christ, such as Josephus, or Philo, ever uses it as the name of a place of future punishment, as would have been done had such then been its meaning.

7. No classic Greek author ever alludes to it, and therefore, it was a Jewish locality, purely.

8. The first Jewish writer who ever names it as a place of future punishment is Johnathan Ben Uzziel; who wrote, according to various authorities, from the second to the eighth century, A.D.

9. The first Christian writer who calls Hell Gehenna, is Justin Martyr, who wrote about A.D. 150.

10.Neither Christ nor his apostles ever named it to Gentiles, but only to Jews, which proves it a locality only known to Jews, whereas, if it were a place of punishment after death for sinners, it would have been preached to Gentiles as well as Jews.

11. It was only referred to twelve times, on eight occasions, in all the ministry of Christ and the apostles, and in the Gospels and Epistles. Were they faithful to their mission, to say no more, on so vital a theme as an endless Hell, if they intended to teach it?

12. Only Jesus and James ever named it. Neither Paul, John, Peter nor Jude ever employed it. Would they not have warned sinners concerning it, if there were a Gehenna of torment after death?

13. Paul says he "shunned not to declare the whole counsel of God," and yet, though he was the great preacher of the Gospel to the Gentiles he never told them that Gehenna was a place of after-death punishment. Would he not repeatedly have warned sinners against it, were there such a place?

Dr. Thayer signigicantly remarks: "The Savior and James are the only persons in all the New Testament who use the word. John Baptist, who preached to the most wicked of men, did not use it once. Paul wrote fourteen epistles, and yet never once mentions it. Peter does not name it, nor Jude; and John who wrote the gospel, three epistles, and the book of Revelations, never employs it in a single instance. Now if Gehenna or Hell really reveals the terrible fact of endless woe, how can we account for this strange silence? How is it possible, if they knew its meaning, and believed it a part of Christ's teaching, that they should not have used it a hundred or a thousand times, instead of never using it at all; especially when we consider the infinite interests involved? The Book of Acts contains the record of the apostolic preaching, and the history of the first planting of the church among the Jews and Gentiles, and embraces a period of thirty years from the ascension of Christ. In all this history, in all this preaching of the disciples and apostles of Jesus, there is no mention of Gehenna. In thirty years of missionary effort, these men of God, addressing people of all characters and nations, never, under any circumstances, threaten them with the torments of Gehenna, or allude to it in the most distant manner! In the face of such a fact as this, can any man believe that Gehenna signifies endless punishment; and that this is a part of divine revelation, a part of the gospel message to the world?"

14. Jesus never uttered it to unbelieving Jews, nor to anybody but his disciples, but twice (Matt. 23:15-33) during his entire ministry, nor but four times in all. If it were the final abode of unhappy millions, would not his warnings abound with exhortations to avoid it?

15. Jesus never warned unbelievers against it but once in all his ministry, (Matt. 22:33) and he immediately explained it as about to come in this life.

16. If Gehenna is the name of Hell then men's bodies are burned there as well as their souls. Matt. 5:29; 18:9.

17. If it be the place of endless torment, then literal fire is the sinner's punishment. Mark 9:43-48.

18. Salvation is never said to be from Gehenna.

19 Gehenna is never said to be of endless duration, nor spoken of as destined to last forever, so that even admitting the popular ideas of its existence after death, it gives no support to the dogma of endless torment.

20. Clement, one of the earliest Christian fathers, was a Universalist, and yet he uses Gehenna to describe the sinner's punishment, showing that then the word did not denote endless punishment.

21. A shameful death, or a severe punishment, in this life, was, at the time of Christ, denominated Gehenna, (Schleusner, Canon Farrar and others) and there is no evidence that Gehenna meant anything else, at the time of Christ.

With these preliminaries let us consider the twelve passages in which the word occurs.

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