Gnostic Doctrine

Sunday, 26 August 2018

What the Hell is Gehenna?

What the Hell is Gehenna?

Gehenna” means “valley of Hinnom,” for it is the Greek form of the Hebrew geh hin·nom´. In Jos 18:16, where “valley of Hinnom” occurs, LXX reads “Gehenna.” It occurs 12 times in the New Testament, first appearing in Mt 5:22.

The valley of Hinnom lay to the west and south of ancient Jerusalem. (Jos 15:8; 18:16; Jer 19:2, 6) Under the later kings of Judah it was used for the false worship of a pagan god, to which human sacrifices were offered by fire. (2Ch 28:3; 33:6; Jer 7:31, 32; 32:35) To prevent its use again for such religious purposes, faithful King Josiah had the valley polluted.—2Ki 23:10.

The valley of Hinnom became the dumping place and burning waste material for the filth of Jerusalem. Bodies of dead animals were thrown in to be consumed in the fires to which sulphur, or brimstone, was added to assist the burning. Also bodies of executed criminals, who were considered undeserving of a decent burial in a memorial tomb, were thrown in. If such dead bodies landed in the fire they were consumed, but if their carcasses landed upon a ledge of the deep ravine their putrefying flesh became infested with worms, or maggots, which did not die until they had consumed the fleshy parts, leaving only the skeletons.

No living animals or human creatures were pitched into Gehenna to be burned alive or tormented. Hence, the place could never symbolize an invisible region where human souls are tormented eternally in literal fire or attacked forever by undying worms. Because the dead criminals cast there were denied a decent burial in a memorial tomb, the symbol of the hope of a resurrection, Gehenna was used by Jesus and his disciples to symbolize everlasting destruction, annihilation from God’s universe, or “second death,” an eternal punishment.

Therefore, to have one’s dead body cast into Gehenna was considered the worst kind of punishment. From the literal Gehenna and its significance, the symbol of the ‘lake burning with fire and sulphur’ was drawn.—Re 19:20; 20:10, 14, 15; 21:8.

The Biblical use of Gehenna as a symbol corresponds to that of “the lake of fire” in the book of Revelation

. It is evident that Jesus used Gehenna as a symbol of utter destruction resulting from judgement of God, hence with no resurrection to bodily life being possible. (Mt 10:28; Lu 12:4, 5) The scribes and Pharisees as a wicked class were denounced as ‘subjects for Gehenna.’ (Mt 23:13-15, 33) To avoid such destruction, Jesus’ followers were to get rid of anything causing spiritual stumbling, the ‘cutting off of a hand or foot’ and the ‘tearing out of an eye’ figuratively representing their deadening of these body members with reference to sin.—Mt 18:9; Mr 9:43-47; Col 3:5; compare Mt 5:27-30.

Jesus also quoted from Isaiah 66:24 in describing Gehenna as a place “where their maggot does not die and the fire is not put out.” (Mr 9:47, 48) That the symbolic picture here is not one of torture but, rather, of complete destruction is evident from the fact that the Isaiah text dealt, not with persons who were alive, but with “the carcasses of the men that were transgressing” against God. If, as the available evidence indicates, the Valley of Hinnom was a place for the disposal of garbage and carcasses, fire, perhaps increased in intensity by the addition of sulfur (compare Isa 30:33), would be the only suitable means to eliminate such refuse. Where the fire did not reach, worms, or maggots, would breed, consuming anything not destroyed by the fire. On this basis, Jesus’ words would mean that the destructive effect of God’s judgement would not cease until complete destruction was attained.
Gehenna means the place of purification 

James the brother of Jesus uses the word “Gehenna” to show that an unruly tongue is itself a world of unrighteousness and that one’s whole round of living can be affected by fiery words that defile the speaker’s body. The tongue of such a one, “full of death-dealing poison” and so giving evidence of a bad heart condition, can cause the person to be sentenced by God to go to the symbolic Gehenna.—Jas 3:6, 8; compare Mt 12:37; Ps 5:9; 140:3; Ro 3:13.

The purifying fires of the mind. Our God is a consuming fire, and when judgements, or times of tribulations take place in our consciousness, the wrong thought is utterly consumed, swallowed up, by the love and perfection and Truth of Spirit.

Solom 8:6 Set me as a seal on your heart, as a seal on your arm; for love is strong as death. Jealousy is as cruel as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, a very flame of Yahweh.

There will be no termination of these cleansing, purifying processes until there is no more refuse to be burned, then this fire of God will express in us as eternal life.

1Cor 3:13-15 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

Again, "Who among us can dwell with the devouring fire who among us can dwell with everlasting burnings ?" Not the wicked, but "he that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly" (Isa. 33:14-16).



The purifying fires of the soul are symbolized by the fires of Gehenna.

Gehenna--Represents the cleansing fire of Spirit, which consumes all the dross of sense and materiality.




Our God is a consuming fire, and when judgments, or times of separation of the true from the false, take place in our consciousness, the error is utterly consumed, swallowed up, by the love and perfection and Truth of Spirit. There will be no cessation of these cleansing, purifying processes until there is no more refuse to be burned, then this fire of God will express in us as eternal life. "Behold, I send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant, whom ye desire, behold, he cometh, saith Jehovah of hosts. But who can abide the day of his coming ? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap: and he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi" (Mal. 3:1-3). Again, "Who among us can dwell with the devouring fire ? who among us can dwell with everlasting burnings ?" Not the wicked, but "he that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly" (Isa. 33:14-16).

The sinners in Zion are afraid;
Fearfulness has seized the hypocrites:
“Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire?
Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?”
15 He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly,
He who despises the gain of oppressions,
16 He will dwell on high;
His place of defense will be the fortress of rocks;
Bread will be given him,
His water will be sure.

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