A Study on the Reality of Hell

by Dr. Ken Matto

There is a quaint little saying which a large number of people use. It is the saying, "I wanna go to Hell with all my friends." This statement exemplifies the height of man’s foolishness and his avid desire to serve the prince of darkness, while basking in the highly educational state of ignorance. The word "hell" has been so widely used that its meaning has been neutralized. Hell is now a part of our vocabulary along with good morning or hello. Satan has been quite successful in desensitizing Christians and unbelievers to the seriousness of this subject. The conservative as well as the liberal pulpit has been and is becoming more silent every day concerning the reality of hell.

The unbeliever is not being warned of the impending judgment. Many modern theologians do not believe in a literal doctrine of eternal punishment. Many have decided to annul the teaching of Hell and replace it with the doctrine of annihilation in its place. The doctrine of annihilation teaches two alternatives:

1. Once you are dead, there is no more conscious existence.

2. There will be a judgment but instead of eternal punishment, God will just vanish you from existence.

Will someone show me these two views in the Scriptures? I don’t want to sound like a killjoy but the Doctrine of Hell is real and is clearly described in the Scriptures. Hell is a real place which was originally prepared for the devil and his angels but since the fall of man and his separation from God, many people will be cast into hell unless Christ saves them.

Since I am a biblicist, I want us to look at the Scriptures and the original language to define what the Lord Jesus Christ had to say about Hell. We will use only the King James Bible for this study. This monograph was written for the express purpose of warning people about hell and if you are still unsaved, today is still the day of salvation.

The first word we are going to study is "hell." In the New Testament the word "hell" is translated from the Greek word "geenna" or more commonly translated "gehenna" except for eleven places. Gehenna is derived from two Hebrew words, "gay" meaning a valley, and "Hinnom" which is a valley south of Jerusalem named after an unknown person but together it is known as the Valley of Hinnom. To better understand why Jesus used this term, a history of the valley is needed.

During the time when the nation of Israel was divided into two states being the northern and southern kingdom, the Valley of Hinnom was a place where apostate Jews offered their children as burnt offerings to the false god Molech. Molech was the chief deity of the Moabites. (Jeremiah 7:30-31; 19:2-6) Israel was expressly forbidden to worship any foreign god.

(Lev 18:21 KJV) And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD.

Manasseh, a king of Judah was involved in this worship. At the end of the divided kingdom age, Judah went into captivity with the Babylonians and the Valley of Hinnom became a garbage dump that contained all kinds of putrid trash and foul garbage from Jerusalem.

This dump became an excellent symbol for Hell since there were literal fires burning continuously and must have emanated a nauseating odor. With this short foundational understanding of the history of gehenna, let us look at the words of Christ on this subject. We will examine each verse individually to gain a better view of this awful and real place. I will focus on the words which deal directly with hell.


(Mat 5:22 KJV) But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

The literal translation of the last part of this verse in the Greek reads, "liable shall be to the gehenna of the fire." The fiery hell is continuous.

(Mat 5:29-30 KJV) And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. {30} And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

Here Christ states that the whole body will be cast into the burning dump. The word for body in Greek is "soma" which means substance. It is used in reference to a living body. The body in its living form will be cast into hell, with all its feelings, senses, and faculties. (Matthew 18:9; Mark 9:43, 45, 47)

(Mat 10:28 KJV) 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.

Here Christ says that God has the power and authority to cast a person, both body and soul into eternal hell. (See Luke 12:5)

(Mat 23:15 KJV) Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.

The liberal teachings and false beliefs of the Pharisees caused them to be sons of the garbage dump and their converts twice as much a son of hell. This refers to the fact that these Pharasaical converts left one false religion to come into another false religion. It can be compared to a Mormon becoming a Jehovah’s Witness.

(Mat 23:33 KJV) Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?

Hell will be a punishment since a sentence will be pronounced on the unsaved and they will be cast alive into hell.


(Luke 16:23 KJV) And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

(Luke 16:28 KJV) For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.

The word "torment" may be translated "torture." Have you ever burned yourself? Imagine that pain enveloping your body in its entirety!


(Mat 3:10 KJV) And now also the ax is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

This verse teaches that unbelievers will be cast into a literal burning fire. (See Luke 3:9)

(Mat 3:12 KJV) Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

This verse introduces an adjective in front of fire teaching us that this fire can never be extinguished. As much fuel as this fire receives, it will never be enough. (See Luke 3:17 also)

(Mat 13:40 KJV) As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.

Unbelievers will be cast into the fires of hell.

Torment, fire, eternal damnation, separation from God for eternity, it doesn’t sound like a party to me!

(Mat 13:42 KJV) And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

(Mat 13:50 KJV) And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

A new description of hell is given to us, it is also known as a furnace. Have you ever seen a blast furnace in a steel mill? The word furnace speaks of a furnace used to melt metals. There will be a literal, excruciating pain in hell owing to the blazing nature of this furnace atmosphere. There will be intense crying and gnashing of teeth representing the pain that will be associated with the fire and the intense hatred for God.

(Mat 18:8 KJV) Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.

Another descriptive term is introduced concerning hell which is everlasting. The word everlasting in the Greek may also be translated "eternal and forever."

(Mat 25:41 KJV) 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:

Here Christ confirms that the fire is going to be eternal.

(Mat 25:46 KJV) And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

In this verse hell is described as a place of eternal punishment. The word "punishment" carries with it an implication of a penal system. The word punishment may also be translated "torment."

(Mark 9:44, 46, 48 KJV) Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

The worm may have two possible interpretations:

1. Everyone who is cast into hell will have all the lusts and desires they had on earth, but will never be able to have them fulfilled. For example, if a person consistently lusts after sex, they may have the strongest desire for sex in hell but that craving will never be satisfied.

2. They will have full recall of all the times they heard the gospel and mocked and rejected it. This worm might be the recollections of those mockings and rejections. The lusts and recollections will eat away at a person as a lion eats its prey.

(Mark 9:49 KJV) For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt.

As a person salts their food, the people in hell will be salted with fire. Imagine, having drops of fire all over your body which will stick to you without any possibility of relief for eternity. Do you believe napalm is bad? That is mild compared to the torment of hell.

(Luke 16:24 KJV) 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.

Hell will be a place without water or refreshment for eternity, only eternal thirst.

These verses are what the gospels have to say about hell. Now let us look at descriptions of Hell found in other parts of the Bible.


(James 3:6 KJV) And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.

Here James confirms that our tongues are guided by hell or "gehenna."


(Rev 14:11 KJV) And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.

There will be torment day and night without rest. The word "smoke" is a literal translation and can be translated no other way. Torment may be translated "torture." Forever is also translated "eternal." The word "rest" is also translated "cessation." The smoke of their torture goes up eternally without cessation, a continuum of unceasing punishment by fire.


(Rev 14:10 KJV) 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 with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:

The word "tormented" may also be translated "to torture." It is also used as "pain and vexation." Brimstone is a sulfur stone. The brimstone in the Bible is probably a sulfuric rock covered with a gum or tar, usually of the gopher tree, which if ignited could burn and stick to whatever it falls upon to prolong torture and increase it.


(Rev 20:10, 14-15 KJV) 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 day and night for ever and ever. {14} And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. {15} And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

These three verses add a new description to hell. It is the word "lake." The word lake is the only translation of the Greek word "limne." Limne is the same word used to describe the lake of Gennesaret in Luke 5:1. Hell is a literal lake of fire which will engulf the entire human body. (REMEMBER SOMA?)

(Rev 21:8 KJV) 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 tells us that this eternal lake of fire is described as the second death or everlasting punishment for those who have rejected Christ.


(Heb 10:27 KJV) But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.

The fire described here will be fast and furious like lightning. The fire will be a consuming, zealous, jealous fire which will vindicate the righteousness and holiness of God throughout eternity.

(Jude 1:7 KJV) Even as Sodom and Gammorha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

Sodom and Gomorrah was an example of the judgment to come, which is the second death or eternal hell. The judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah was instant with eternal consequences. Remember the thief in the night of 1 Thessalonians 5:2-4. The thief of death comes when no one expects him. Death is instant but has everlasting effects on the individual.


After reading this short monograph, we find that beer parties and good times in hell do not exist. That philosophy along with annihilation was given to the human race by Satan and has been quite successful in deceiving millions. The Bible is the book from which we are going to be judged by, therefore it makes good sense to believe and obey it. God has seen fit to place a very detailed description of hell in the Bible for our benefit. I believe God has done this for three reasons:

1 To show the true born again believer what they will miss.
2. To get true Christians to witness more fervently.
3. To show the unbeliever the third of three biblical promises that God has for them:
    A. First, Physical death (Hebrews 9:27)
    B. Secondly, Judgment (Revelation 20:11-15)
    C. Thirdly, eternal damnation

If you are reading this and God has spoken to your heart then you need to:

1. Ask God to save you.

2. Ask Christ to come into your life, believing He died for your sins and His blood sacrifice was substitutionary for you spending an eternity in hell.

3. Repent of your sins.

Today is the day of salvation, tomorrow is the devil’s lie. There are many who deny hell and rationalize it away. The only problem with rationalization is that the doctrine is still written in the eternal Word of God. Living a lie does not affect the truth of Scripture because you will still be held accountable for your sins simply because you have been warned by just reading this treatise. Let us heed the warning of 2 Corinthians 13:5:

(2 Cor 13:5 KJV) Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?


1. You call Christians fanatics, narrow minded bigots, or any other derogatory term.
2. You have no concern for life after death.
3. You call the Bible an outdated unrealistic book.
4. You cannot control your lust filled passions.
5. You seek only what the world has to offer.
6. You scorn the church as a place of hypocrites.
7. You mock Christians when they speak of Christ, whether in public or private.
8. You are in a leadership position and you will not promote someone simply because they are a Christian.
9. You consistently use the name of God and the name of Christ as swear words. (Christ is God)
10. You become angry when you hear the true gospel being preached.
11. You tolerate any religion but Christianity.
12. You have built a philosophy of life that does not include the things of God.  Remember, if you don’t want Him here, you will not have
       Him there!

You may believe you are funny or are accepted by scorning Christianity but you better keep in mind the following warning from the Bible.

(2 Th 1:6-10 KJV) Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; {7} And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, {8} In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: {9} Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; {10} When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.

You have no guarantee that you will live to see tomorrow. If you die unsaved, the next conscious thing you will know is that you will be standing in front of the judgment seat of Christ. God gave the above passage as a comfort to Christians who are persecuted whether for fun or for real. If you do not want to experience the wrath and vengeance of God then you need to cry out to Him for salvation and call that one who is witnessing to you and praying for you. No one knows when the Lord will return or when we will die but this you can be sure of, IT IS COMING!

John 3:36 KJV) He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.