Eternal conscious torment was a part of the sadistic teaching of Augustine. Hell was a profitable institution for Rome.

Our English word "hell" is the translation of one Hebrew and two Greek words.

Hebrew: sheol

Sheol is translated:

"grave" 32 times

"hell" 31 times

"pit" 3 times

"As to the rendering ‘hell,’ it does not represent sheol, because both by Dictionary definition and by colloquial usage ‘hell’ means the place of future punishment. Sheol has no such meaning, but denotes the present state of death. ‘The grave’ is, therefore, a far more suitable translation, because it visibly suggests to us what is invisible to the mind, viz., the state of death. It must, necessarily, be misleading to the English reader to see the former put to represent the latter.

"The student will find that ‘THE grave,’ taken literally as well as figuratively, will meet all the requirements of the Hebrew sheol: not that sheol means so much specifically 'A grave', as generically, 'THE grave'....

"Sheol therefore means the state of death; or the state of the dead, of which the grave is a tangible evidence. ... It may be represented by a coined word, Grave-dom, as meaning the dominion or power of the grave." 1

Greek:  hades

This Greek word is defined by the Holy Spirit.

In the Old Testament, He wrote:

"For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell [sheol]; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption" (Psalms 16:10).

Then in the New Testament, quoting the Psalms He writes:

"Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell [hades], neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption" (Acts 2:27).

Therefore, the Holy Spirit defines the Greek word "hades" as the Hebrew word "sheol."

Greek gehenna

Gehenna is the dump where Jerusalem burnt its trash. It is used metaphorically of the "removal of your trash."

Peter warned,

"But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction" (II Peter 2:1).

Damnable heresies are "heresies of destruction or perdition."

"The teaching that the punishment of the unrighteous begin at the moment of death is a very serious blot on the justice of God. If this is the truth, then Cain, who died about six thousand years ago has already endured six millenniums of punishment, while another murderer who dies today begins to suffer today. Therefore Cain will have to suffer six thousand years more for the same crime than the murderer who dies today.

"If two men charged with identical crimes and equally guilty were sentenced, one for five years and the other for ten years, all men who love justice would cry out against such a miscarriage of justice. Shall we not also cry out against any teaching that insists that one man suffer six thousand years more than another for the identical crime? It is indeed a fearful travesty on truth to teach that men are tortured for their sins before they ever have their day in court, and that later they do have their day in court merely to receive a sentence that is determined beforehand. Would not this make the justice of the great white throne to be of the same character as the justice ordered by a Mexican general who said, ‘Give the man a fair trial, then shoot him.’ Can this be the justice of God? Can this be the teaching of the Word of God? Do you know that it is? Are you sure that it is? Or can it be that you just do not care?

"The contention that God’s holiness is of such nature that His justice can never be satisfied by anything save eternal conscious suffering as the penalty for sins needs to be carefully examined. If this dogma is true, then this is the penalty Christ should have paid when He died for our sins. He paid the debt that we owed to God, but He did not suffer eternally. If the debt we owed was ‘eternal suffering’ then that debt has never been paid. Jesus Christ suffered just six hours on the Cross. He did not suffer eternally.

"If we would know of God’s wrath against sin, we need to look at the Cross. We will learn from this that our God does punish sin, but we will also learn that the wages of sin is death and not eternal conscious torment." 2

Speaking of the roots of "hell," Bullinger writes, "This is a heathen word and comes down to us surrounded with heathen traditions, which had their origin in Babel, and not in the Bible, and have reached us through Judaism and Romanism." 3


  1. E. W. Bullinger, A Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament, 367p.
  2. Ibid. pages 21, 22. (? Otis Q. Sellers)
  3. Bullinger’s Lexicon


by Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
© 2004-2007
Pilkington & Sons
See Available Books on this Subject at www.pilkingtonandsons.com/hell.htm

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