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Eternal Fire: What Jesus Says in the Gospels About Hell

Biblefire_2For some reason — maybe it’s just coincidence — this has been coming up a lot lately. I’ve been in three separate debates in the last couple of weeks — here on this blog and elsewhere — in which Christian theists have argued that Jesus’s teaching in the Bible didn’t say anything about Hell as a place of eternal damnation, burning, and torture… or if he did say that, he didn’t really mean it.

I’m not posting this to stir up those debates again. But when I got into those debates, I wound up citing this piece of research I did that got buried in the comments on this blog. I think it’s an important point — I suspect I’ll be citing it again in the future, and I’m thinking that other atheist bloggers might want to cite it as well. So I’m pulling it out of the comments and making it into a post of its own.

Fire1It’s a list of all the places in the Gospels where Jesus is quoted as teaching about hell, damnation, wrath, judgment, etc. — with brief explanations of the context. (My apologies for any typos, btw: I couldn’t find an online version of the Revised Standard Bible to cut and paste from, so I had to just type all this in by hand.)

Fire_3_2And it looks to me like it’s a very prevalent theme. It’s not a small number of passing references — it’s quite plentiful. And the references aren’t out of context or jarringly inconsistent — they’re woven into the text fairly seamlessly, and a number of consistent themes emerge, such as people being damned to hell for hearing and seeing Jesus and still not believing in him and repenting.

Coal_and_fireThis is by no means an exhaustive list. There are several other more indirect allusions to these concepts: implying it in parables, using words like “punish” or “condemnation” instead of “hell” or “fire,” etc. — but I limited myself to the most direct and explicit ones. In addition, there are several other references in the Gospels to these concepts spoken by either John the Baptist or by the narrator/gospel writer — but I’m limiting myself to sayings that are quoted as Jesus’s own words. And there are also other troubling words from Jesus in the Gospels that aren’t about judgment and hell but that also aren’t in keeping with a message of love and tolerance — but I’m limiting myself here to teachings about hell, wrath, judgment day, etc.

Flying_skeleton_hellThere are definitely more in Matthew than any of the other four, although Luke has quite a few as well. John doesn’t have as many as those two, but the concept is far from entirely absent (plus John does have a fair number of the abovementioned indirect allusions and comments from John the Baptist and the narrator). Mark seems to have the fewest (although again it has a fair number of indirect allusions that I didn’t list here).

The list begins below the jump.

Fire4_2MATTHEW

Matthew 5:22: “But I say to you that every one who is angry with the brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council; and whoever says ‘You fool!’ shall be liable to the hell of fire.” (Sermon on the Mount, said to the crowds)

Matthew 5:30: “And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go to hell.” (ditto above)

Matthew 10:28: “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (said to disciples)

Matthew 10:34: “Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have come not to bring peace, but a sword.” (ditto)

Matthew 11:21-22, Jesus: “Woe to you, Chorazin! woe to you, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it shall be more tolerable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you.” (said to crowds in cities, for not repenting when they saw his miracles)

Matthew 11:23: “And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that it shall be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.” (ditto above)

Matthew 12:31-32: “Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever says a word against the Son of man will be forgiven; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.” (this is the Blasphemy Challenge thing, said to Pharisees when they said Jesus cast out demons because he was a demon himself, not by the Holy Spirit)

Matthew 12:33-34: “I tell you, on the day of judgment men will render account for every careless word they utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (ditto)

Matthew 12:41: “The men of Nineveh will arise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.” (said to scribes and Pharisees, on people not repenting when they heard his preaching and saw his works)

Matthew 13:30: “Let both (wheat and weeds) grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.” (said to crowds — explained later in 13:40-42)

Coals_on_fire_in_oven_2Matthew 13:40-42: “Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age. The Son of man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and evildoers, and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.” (said to disciples, in explanation of previously quoted parable which was said to crowds)

Matthew 13:49-50: “So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous, and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.” (said to disciples in explanation of a different parable)

Hellfire1_3Matthew 18:8-9: “And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life maimed or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire..” (said to disciples)

Matthew 22:2, 11-13: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a marriage feast for his son
 But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment; and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, an cast him into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.’” (said to priests and Pharisees)

Matthew 23:15: “Wie to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you traverse sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.” (spoken to crowds and disciples, about scribes and Pharisees)

Matthew 23:33: “You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?” (ditto above)

Matthew 24:48-51: But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants, and eats and drinks with the drunken, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will punish him, and put him with the hypocrites; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.” (said to disciples; part of a long passage replying to the question, “What will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?”)

Matthew 25:30: “And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.” (ditto)

Hellfire2_2Matthew 25:41: “Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” (ditto — this is the parable of the sheep and the goats)

Matthew 25:46: “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (ditto above)

Hellfire3_2MARK

Mark 4:28-29: “Truly I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemies against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin.” (said to scribes — this is the Blasphemy Challenge part again)

Mark 9:43-48: “And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, where the worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. For every one will be salted with fire.” (said to disciples)

Hellfire4_2LUKE

Luke 10:11-15: “Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off against you; nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near. I tell you, it shall be more tolerable on that day [Judgment day] for Sodom than for that town. Woe to you, Chorazin! woe to you, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it shall be for you more tolerable in the judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And to you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to Heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades.” (said to disciples — not to the 12 but to 70 sent to prepare the way for him in towns he was about to go into, about cities that didn’t repent when they saw his miracles)

Luke 11:32: “The queen of the South will arise at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them; for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineveh will arise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.” (said to crowds, again about people who didn’t repent when they saw his miracles)

Luke 12:8: “And every one who speaks a word against the Son of man will be forgiven; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.” (again the blasphemy thing – but this time it’s spoken to the disciples, and not in the context of getting mad at the Pharisees for denying that he used the Holy Spirit to cast out a demon, but just in the context of explaining to the disciples how things were going to be)

Hellfire5_2Luke 12:49: “I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled!” (said to disciples, about Judgment day)

Luke 13:2-5: “And he answered them, ‘Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered thus? I tell you, No; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen upon whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, No; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.’” (said to multitudes)

Luke 13:23-34, & 27-28: “”And some one said to him, ‘Lord, will those who are saved be few?’ And he said to them, ‘Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able
But he (God) will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from; depart from me, all you workers of iniquity!’ There you will weep and gnash your teeth
” (said to crowds)

Hellfire6_2Luke 16:22-29: “The poor man died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried; and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes, and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus [the poor man] in his bosom. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy upon me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in anguish in this flame. But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’” (said to Pharisees)

Fire_2Luke 17:28-29: “but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom fire and sulphur rained from heaven and destroyed them all — so it will be on the day when the Son of man is revealed.” (said to disciples)

Luke 21:22: “for these are the days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written.” (said – I think, it’s a little unclear – to disciples in hearing of crowd)

Luke 22: 31: “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat” (said to disciple Simon – the “sifting like wheat” reference is about judgment day being like separating the wheat from the weeds)

Hellfire7_2JOHN

John 5:22, 26-29: “The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son
 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself, and has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of man. Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment.” (said to “the Jews” — not specified which ones, but in context it may be the Pharisees, or it may simply be the crowd)

John 10:39: “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.” (said to blind man whose eyesight he cured)

John 12: 48: “He who rejects me and does not receive my sayings has a judge; the word that I have spoken will be his judge on the last day.” (not clear who this is said to or about)

Fire2_2John 15:6: “If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned.” (said to disciples)

John 16:8-11: “And when he (the Counselor, a.k.a. the Holy Spirit) comes, he will convince the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.” (ditto)

Comments

  1. says

    My inaugural address at the Great White Throne Judgment of the Dead, after I have raptured out billions! The Secret Rapture soon, by my hand!
    Read My Inaugural Address
    My Site=http://www.angelfire.com/crazy/spaceman

  2. Rev. Cawley says

    Dear Greta,
    I shared with you my views on Jesus’ teachings on Hell. I invite you and others on this blog to watch a 4-part video on YouTube that demonstrates and explains that Jesus never taught the view of Hell that is perpetuated by traditional Christianity. The 4-part video series (not made by me) will demonstrate that God is going to save everyone, and will bring much-needed clarity!
    Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_KARi1p-M_s
    Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DCPtga6wUtI&mode=related&search=sozo%20productions%20rjlucas%20hell%20God%20Jesus%20Christian%20universalism%20salvation%20heaven%20Christ%20religion%20eternity%20hades%20satan
    Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdNC5j2qoS8&NR=1
    Part 4: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PBBY0J2xyJU&mode=related&search=
    Blessings!

  3. Jackie says

    Jesus spoke mostly in parables This hell is not literal he is just saying if your hand offends to stop doing offensive stuff.
    If it was literal we would be walking around disfigured, but yet I have not noticed anyone with the absense of a hand or an eye.
    We are supposed to work on ridding ourself of the trash in our lives get rid of it because the rest will be burned out of us after judged.
    Our God is a consuming fire so get rid of trash now or he will burn it out of us later and that will be painful in a spiritual way.

  4. says

    “Jesus spoke mostly in parables This hell is not literal he is just saying if your hand offends to stop doing offensive stuff.”
    I see.
    And how are we supposed to know:
    a) which parts he meant literally and which parts he meant as metaphorical parables;
    and
    b) how exactly the metaphorical parables should be interpreted?

  5. Rev. Cawley says

    Greta asks how are we supposed to know which teachings that Jesus meant literally and which parts he meant as metaphorical parables.
    When Jesus begins a teaching by saying, “A certain rich man…” or “The Kingdom of Heaven is like…” or “A man had two sons…” then you know that Jesus is telling a story (parable) and that the story has a moral/spiritual lesson but the specific details of the parable are NOT to be taken literally.
    We all understand the lessons in Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” but nobody believes that
    there literally was an Ebenezer Scrooge or a Tiny Tim that lived in London two centuries ago. And there is no Grinch, but Dr. Seuss’ story conveys a clear moral lesson.
    Greta asks how exactly should the metaphorical parables be interpreted? That’s when you need a good Bible commentary or two.
    Also, the evidence that Jesus was not preaching about a literal, burning afterlife Hell is this…
    1.) The 1st century Jews would not have thought of Gehenna (Greek word Jesus used for Hell) as a place of punishment in the afterlife.
    2.) The idea of Gehenna as a metaphor for destroying one’s life through sin makes more sense IN THE LITERARY CONTEXT than the idea of Gehenna being an afterlife torment. What makes more sense…
    (a) “If you don’t gouge your eye out, when you lust, you will die and burn forever and ever in a fire pit!” Or…
    (b) “If you don’t cut out the things that lead you to sin, your life will end up in the garbage dump (which is what Gehenna actually was).”
    If Jesus walked the earth now, He might say, “Lindsey Lohan’s life and career is going to Hell!” We would instinctively know that He would be talking about.
    3.) Despite what many churches teach, Jesus’ teachings were not really about the afterlife. When Jesus spoke of the “Kingdom of Heaven” or the “Kingdom of God,” most Bible commentaries will tell you that Jesus was speaking of the Kingdom of God coming upon the earth (like in the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy Kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven”). The phrases “Kingdom of Heaven” or “Kingdom of God” were not references to the afterlife.
    Jesus was more interested in Heaven’s power taking place on earth (with every act of healing)than He was with people goin up to Heaven. Therefore, since Jesus’ teachings about the Kingdom of Heaven did not refer to the afterlife Heaven, Jesus’ teachings on Hell probably did not refer to an afterlife Hell, either.
    BLESSINGS!

  6. Jackie says

    Greta when you read scriptures, they may seem outrageous or impossible then it is most likely a parable or metaphore.
    Can you imagine soothing your thirst as with Lazarus and the rich man just dipping your finger in water?
    To be honest I usually just read the words of Jesus with confidence. The two greatest commandments are love God love your neighbor.

  7. starsong says

    It’s weird because it doesn’t look like you don’t believe in God, it just looks like you really don’t like him.

  8. John B Hodges says

    Folks, if you are willing to argue that Jesus did not believe or teach about an afterlife, neither for Heaven nor Hell, I’ll have to give you points for consistency. But I can’t see it as a reasonable reading of the text. Modern translations are done by committees of the most respected scholars and linguists. So why did they decide to translate the whatever text as “eternal fire” instead of as “garbage dump”? Why did they translate the text as “eternal life” instead of “prosperity”?
    Some of the passages about Hell and eternal fire might be read metaphorically, but some plainly cannot be. Such as the following.
    Matthew 13:36
    36 Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” 37 He answered, “He who sows the good seed is the Son of man; 38 the field is the world, and the good seed means the sons of the kingdom; the weeds are the sons of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the close of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40 Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age. 41 The Son of man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, 42 and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.
    Matthew 13:49
    49 So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous, 50 and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.
    Matthew 18:8
    8 And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life maimed or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. 9 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.
    Matthew 25:41
    41 Then he will say to those at his left hand, `Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels;
    46 And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
    Mark 9:43
    43 And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. 44 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. 45 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, 46 where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.
    Luke 17:29
    29 but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom fire and sulphur rained from heaven and destroyed them all– 30 so will it be on the day when the Son of man is revealed.
    It may interest you to know that Jesus says that very few will be saved. See Matthew 7:13-23, and Luke 13:23-24.
    So, If you want to believe that you and your loved ones will be going to the Christian Heaven, forget it. Very few will make it, and the entry requirements are severe. See my essay at http://www.godlessgeeks.com/LINKS/JesusEthics.htm

  9. Jaclyn says

    I’m a Christian and yes, Jesus does teach that those who do not believe in him and follow him will go to Hell. This is what is taught in most Christian churches.
    I realize that this is not a pleasant thought, but Christians should not have to apologize for it. We believe, based on the Bible, that Jesus is the only way to the Father, and that a person cannot be saved without him.
    Atheists try to pressure Christians into defending this, saying “No, no, that’s not true, that’s a wrong interpretation” when, actually, yes, it is the right interpretation. That is what we are taught.
    What I don’t understand is this: if you decide that you don’t believe in the whole God/religion thing for whatever reason, what do you care about the whole Hell business? If you’re right (and obviously you think you are), then it doesn’t exist and who cares?
    ….
    God created people perfectly, and sin is what made them imperfect. Everyone has the opportunity and chance to go to Heaven…many just do not choose it.
    The Bible contains things that are meant universally and things that are targeted at a specific group of people. It also mentions things happening at the time that were not in God’s plan for humanity. Unfortunately, these are all mixed together and confused.
    And, of course, in the case of the Hell issue, the Bible just says something that you don’t like. Be angry about it. You don’t have to believe it.

  10. Eclectic says

    Jaclyn: Greta cares because she occasionally discusses religion with christians and would like to have a vague idea of what christian dogma includes.
    She was frustrated at encountering a number of self-described christians who seemed to think that hell was optional.

  11. Venting says

    Most of the Christian churches preach the existence of hell and heaven, and both of these are used to gain or keep control over individuals or entire groups. The whole unconscious idea is to have people do what you want them to do by giving an impossible reward or an unthinkable punishment.
    The reason that it is so important to speak of these things is that the concepts of Heaven or Hell are tools. Tools used everyday to try to make the “homosexual” feel bad for loving someone of the same sex, keeping everyone from using common sense when they wish to use birth control to plan their families or not to receive a disease, and trying to ensure that everyone prays the same way, eats the same food, and wears the same clothes – all to avoid hell or to gain heaven.
    I really think that slowly I am becoming an atheist because I am tired of spiritual blackmail; I am tired each Christian church saying that they believe that the Bible is the perfect word of God when their actions speak differently. Two examples – First, how many Christians really take Christ seriously when he said not to harm your enemy but to love them? I can really think of only one that stands out under severe oppression, and he was not “Christian” – Ghandi. Second, how many Christians and Christian Churches preach to Keep the Sabbath commandment, and yet do not keep it every weekend. They try to rest on Sunday when Jesus and all Jews through today keep the biblical Sabbath, and that my friends is Saturday, not Sunday. But I do not see Christians rallying for this change, no they keep Sunday and that is fine. Apparently, there is no need to take the Sabbath idea seriously, so why should I take Heaven or Hell seriously?

  12. franklin says

    Dear Greta,

    I have enjoyed reading this blog as someone referenced it on Facebook recently. I have to say that you’ve certainly brought up a thought-provoking challenge concerning what the gospels say was Jesus’ teachings. This forces many believers to do their homework and, from a believer’s perspective, that can never be a bad thing. So I was hoping you would share your thoughts with me on a particular topic relative to this particular blog of yours.

    I would also like to make it clear that I only engage this issue as a way to learn. I’m not posting this comment to put any thought or idea into a “no win’ situation or cast judgement. My hope is that you and I can have a discussion — not an argument or debate.

    In your 4th paragraph of this article you stated:
    “And it looks to me like it’s a very prevalent theme. It’s not a small number of passing references — it’s quite plentiful. And the references aren’t out of context or jarringly inconsistent — they’re woven into the text fairly seamlessly, and a number of consistent themes emerge, such as people being damned to hell for hearing and seeing Jesus and still not believing in him and repenting.”

    I wanted to start with the first passage of scripture you reference — Matthew 5:22
    “But I say to you that every one who is angry with the brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council; and whoever says ‘You fool!’ shall be liable to the hell of fire.”

    There are 48 verses in the 5th chapter of Matthew where Jesus speaks to his disciples and a crowd that has been following him as he teaches. How then, can one say that “the references aren’t out of context”, when one only refers to 2 verses out of the 48 that are in the 5th chapter of Matthew?

    As I’ve come to understand the word CONTEXT is defined as: the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed.

    So… if a person only refers to 2 of 48 verses of the 5th chapter of Matthew, is that not the very definition of “out of context”?

    Now… I don’t disagree with you that Jesus does, in fact, teach about the punishment of Hell… but I think it important to recognize that Jesus is not proclaiming himself the judge. I wanted to share with you what I wrote my friend on Facebook when he quoted you as saying:

    “If you believe that the Gospels are a more or less accurate representation of what Jesus Said, you have to acknowledge that this Jesus guy said some pretty screwed-up stuff. Including a whole lot of stuff about how people who didn’t believe in him and follow him were going to burn in Hell for eternity.”

    I replied with a comment saying that the above statement was not completely accurate. In a private (well, it was private) message I wrote to my friend:

    “The link you posted is a good reference source for individual passage reading, and in it I find a great # of challenging issues in which to explain. Please allow me to reference each passage that was quoted (and in doing so) discover where I may have been wrong.

    Matthew 5:22 “But I say to you that every one who is angry with the brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council; and whoever says ‘You fool!’ shall be liable to the hell of fire.”

    — This passage comes from a section where Jesus is addressing the issue of murder. I’m sure you have come to realize in your own life how things can be taken out of context – with the Bible it is VERY IMPORTANT not to take individual passages out of context. So I find it important to reference Matthew 5:21 :

    –”You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.”

    In this particular passage you’ll notice that Jesus uses the phrase “liable to the hell of fire”. (my version uses the phrase “in danger of the fire of hell”), but either way – this is in reference to the punishment rendered to one who has committed murder.

    In this particular passage Jesus is not saying that we are going to hell because we do not believe in him or follow him. Rather, Jesus is saying that we are subject to God’s judgement (not Jesus’s judgement) if we have committed murder.

    On the surface it might appear that Jesus, himself, is playing the judge, but if one is to study the entire Bible (or even just the New Testament) I truly believe one will find that there is good explanation for all that leads up and reinforces Matthew 5:22.

    More importantly, if you read the entire 5th Chapter of Matthew – I think you’ll find how the website you posted skips over all the passages that reveal the true nature of what Jesus was speaking.

    -So I am simply trying to point out that Jesus (in this particular passage) is not saying that we are going to burn in hell FOR ETERNITY, but rather he is saying we are subject to being judged by God if we commit murder and never come to realize that we can be forgiven by accepting that Jesus died on the cross to take away the burden of our sins.

    -The bible in it’s entirety is full of “individual passages” that on the surface seem kinda cruel and not in the nature of love. *My friend*, I tell you this is one of the ways that the enemy works against us.

    -But you shouldn’t just believe anything because I (*franklin*) says it is so. The word of a human is nothing when compared to the word of God. I encourage you, when thinking about God and Spirituality to always reference the Bible. There are all kinds of people saying “the Bible says this” or “the Bible says that”, but ask them where in the Bible it says these things and ask them to point it out in multiple verses, IN CONTEXT, and then make your own conclusions.

    -Let me be clear. I am not judging. That is not my right, it is God’s. I don’t much agree with the approach that this group of folks were taking on the drill field today, and I can clearly see that this particular group may not understand the true nature of God – which is LOVE. One of the worst things so called “Christians” do today is misrepresent God and God’s word. The entire religion of Christianity is FULL of folks who misquote, misuse, and take God’s Word out of context. So I say again… in an effort not to be one of those folks… with anything you are being told about the nature of God or Jesus Christ – read the Bible for yourself. Be weary about websites and emails that have individual agendas. Be weary about groups that travel from place to place speaking out against a particular issue, but I beg you… be very cautious about your own words against God and Jesus, for most of which we have come to understand about Jesus and the Bible is what has been told to us by other humans – and as you know… no human is perfect. But I’m willing to bet my life that with enough research and time spent reading the Bible you will come to find that there are no hypocrisies in it. Of course, I am learning that it is very easy to look at a single passage and compare it to another single passage and assume it hypocritical. Once again, everything in context.”

    Greta, I would like to know what you think about the entire 5th chapter of Matthew, as a place to start. Perhaps, one by one, we could go through each verse you posted in this article and refer the the rest of the context of the Bible to see if perhaps I am wrong or perhaps there is something you missed. Would you want to do that with me?

    Sincerely,
    franklin

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