Exploring Hell in the Scriptures

Scripture Reading

And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

[Matt. 25:46]

The olivet discourse

Exploring hell in the scriptures is clearly not for the faint of heart and readers are forewarned of this content. The fate of the wicked is ominously portrayed in this closing message from Jesus as he concludes his notable preaching from the olivet discourse. Spanning three chapters of scripture, his preaching condemns the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, then cautions people to be aware of coming false Christs and false prophets, and then presents a dire warning about how things done in this life will come with eternal consequences. This week’s scripture reading depicts the fate of the wicked as being diametrically opposite to fate of the righteous. The outcome portrays people going into everlasting fire while others will receive eternal life. Jesus shared the first part of this message just a few verses earlier when he said, “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:” [Matt. 25:41]

Hell in the Old Testament

For better context in this study on exploring hell in the scriptures, let us first step back in history to learn more about hell from the Bible. In total, there are fifty-four direct references to the word hell in the scriptures. There are also many other passages that descriptively phrase hell in the context of everlasting punishment and everlasting fire. Hell is first mentioned in the Old Testament during a dark period of time for the Israelites when the Lord spoke of his disdain for the Israelites. In this case it was through the symbolic name of Jeshurun, referenced only three times in Deuteronomy.

This was a period of dismal consequences for the ancient Israelites who had departed from the living God and instead worshipped and served strange gods and sacrificed unto devils. The Lord described them as people that had become corrupt, perverse and a crooked generation who were foolish and unwise in their ways. They had forgotten the very God that formed them as the Lord uttered this bleak and brandishing proclamation upon them, “For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains.” [Deut 32:22] The Lord was sorely displeased with the Israelites for abandoning him so quickly after rescuing them from the tyranny of Pharaoh in Egypt.

For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell,

Deut 23:22a

Hell hath fury

As a general statement about exploring hell in the scriptures, the Bible reveals a place and destination where no person in their right mind would ever want to spend eternity. Let us look at some of these now directly from the scriptures. Hell is described as a place of immense sorrow, “The sorrows of hell compassed me about; the snares of death prevented me; [2 Sam. 22:6] Hell is a horrific combination of conscious awareness and painful torment, “And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.” [Luke 16:23] The bedfellows of hell are not the cool types portrayed in movies, they are rather described as, “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.” [Ps. 9:17]

Immorality in hell

Hell will be full of all kinds of immoral people as portrayed in these two passages, “Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell.” [Prov. 5:5] “Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.” [Prov. 7:27] The dismal reality is that hell will be filled with individuals steeped in their own immorality, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” [1 Cor. 6:9-10]

The broad way of the world which most people are following is unfortunately leading to exploring hell in the scriptures, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:” [Matt. 7:13] The number of people destined for hell will be staggering; only to be matched by man’s insatiable desires of his own immorality, “Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.” [Prov. 27:20] Trademarks of hell-bound sinners are notably documented in the scriptures, “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;” [2 Tim. 4:2]

“Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.

Prov. 27:20

The devil and his angels

Worse than all of this is the knowledge that hell is the preordained destination for the devil and his angels, “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:” [Matt. 25:41] Hell is notably the destination of Lucifer, or Satan, following his reign of defiance, arrogance and deceit, “Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.” [Is. 14;15] The size and magnitude of hell is described as something completely incomprehensible to the human mind, “Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it.” [Is. 5:14] also {Prov. 27:20]

Nations & leaders

Through the pursuit, endorsement and acceptance of sinful ways, many nations of the world will be the recipients of hell despite their arrogance, “And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. [Matt. 11:23] Towns and cities entrenched in immorality will not be exempt from hell according to the scriptures, “Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, 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” [Jude 1:7]

Leaders of the world will not be exempt from hell in their pursuit of evil ways and defiance of the living God, “I made the nations to shake at the sound of his fall, when I cast him down to hell with them that descend into the pit: and all the trees of Eden, the choice and best of Lebanon, all that drink water, shall be comforted in the nether parts of the earth.” [Ezek. 31:16] Even the leaders of religion who are bound up in their hypocritical ways will be found in the depths of hell, “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.” [Matt. 23:15] also Matt. 23:33] The reiteration in scripture of the devil’s angels destined for hell only serves to reinforce the veracity of their plight, “For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;” [2 Pet. 2:4]

Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure:

Is. 5:14a

People who know not God

Hell for many good intentioned people along with the wicked will occur when they least expect it, “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” [Dan. 12:2] Tragically, hell will be the fate of those who know not God despite being seen as good people, “And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;” [2 Thes. 1:9] Unrepentant people who continue to trifle with the pleasures of sin will find that it will be too late to have redemption for their souls, “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.” [Matt. 5:27]

Hell is clearly not a place to hang out for the noble people of this world, “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.” [Luke 16:24] There is a dimension to hell that has an indescribable depth to it, “It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than hell; what canst thou know?” [Job 11:8] also [Prov. 9:18] The description of hell comes with a common theme of torment throughout scripture, “And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” [Matt. 13:50] Make no mistake about it, the scriptures do not portray hell as a placed to be enjoyed or temporal in nature, “Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;” [2 Thes. 1:9]

Two destinations of man

The scriptures speak of only two destinations for mankind during the separation of the righteous from the unrighteous. Jesus himself declared this in his own words when he said, “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” [John 5:28-29] We also see in the scriptures that the Lord Jesus Christ is the only one who has access to hell from his prophetic statement, “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.” [Rev. 1:8}

Christ went there to pay for our sins as prophesied in the scriptures when David spoke about Christ, “For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.” [Ps. 16:10] This is also cross referenced in the New Testament from the preaching of the apostles, “He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.” [Acts 2:31] The sheer omnipresence of God portrays him as being everywhere in the sense that people will never be able to get away from him, “If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.” [Ps. 139:8]

I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.

John 8:24

Lake of fire and brimstone

As if all of this were not dismal and despondent enough, there is a transition portrayed in the scriptures from the darkness of hell, “And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” [Rev. 20:13-15] The lake of fire is indeed the abode of torment forever, “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.” [ Rev. 20:10]

Of frightening and epic proportions in exploring hell in the scriptures are the inclusion of other forces of evil sent into the lake of fire, “And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.” [Rev. 19:20] Similar torments await those who fall peril to worshipping the beast, “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:” {Rev. 14:10] On a final note, the usual suspects filled with immorality will accompany the devil into the lake of fire, “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

Coming to our senses

Does not all of this scripture from exploring hell in the scriptures bring us back to the ancient prophet Isaiah when he proclaimed upon the people, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” [Is. 5:20] Does it also not bring us back to the Lord Jesus Christ’s indictment upon the unbelievers in the world when he proclaimed, “I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.” [John 8:24]

Does it not bring us back to this statement of common sense from the scriptures in realizing who we should truly fear, “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.” [Matt. 10:28] Does it not make us realize that just going through the motions of being religious will bring utter contempt and judgment from God upon us, “For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;” [2 Pet. 2:4]

He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life

John 5:24

Eternal Life in Christ

The tragic reality and outcome from exploring hell in the scriptures is that we are all destined for that same place without new life in Christ. Jesus came to this earth to pay the penalty for our sins upon the cross through his sacrificial death. A sacrifice we could never pay with our sinful nature inherited from Adam. A sacrifice that required a sinless person to pay, the man Christ Jesus. For it was Jesus himself who spoke these words to us when he proclaimed in the scriptures,

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.”

[John 3:16-20]

Dear readers and seekers of faith, it is not too late as long as you are alive on this earth. It is not too late to come to Jesus, to repent of your sins and to believe in him for the remission of your sins. Let us conclude with the words of John the Baptist when he stated with great boldness of preaching “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.” [John 3:36] This is a choice we must all make but will you?

Many will simply choose to ignore making this decision. Some will wait until it is too late. Others will deny the truth and take their chances with their own fate. Some will rely upon their good works, deeds and efforts to redeem themselves before a holy God as if any of us could ever become our own saviour (Eph. 2:8-9). Why is this? It is because outside of Christ, the Lord declares us as we truly are, “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” [Is.64:6]

Exploring hell in the scriptures is for real, it is no laughing matter, and it is not just some special effects horror movie. Why not come to Jesus now, make the decision and believe on him for as he says, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” [John 5:24] Jesus is referring to spiritual life, born from above, passed from death unto life. Is not this your inner heart’s desire now and for eternity?

Bible Study Questions

  1. In this Bile study on exploring hell in the scriptures, why do you think Jesus preached so much about hell to the people around him?
  2. Can you describe the first time hell is mentioned in the Bible and who spoke the words of condemnation to the Israelites?
  3. The scriptures describe hell as being a place of sorrow, conscious awareness and painful torment, true or false?
  4. Proverbs 5:5 and 7:27 describe examples of immorality. Do these still exist in our world today?
  5. Fill in the blanks, “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into _______________ fire, prepared for the _________________ and his ________________:” [Matt. 25:41]
  6. Can you name the final two destinations of mankind from John 5:28-29 mentioned in exploring hell in the scriptures?
  7. Please consider sharing this Bible study if you know someone who is in need of learning about the perils of hell.

Helpful Resources


For reference, here are some frequently asked questions that are answered in this Bible Study. It is with sincere prayer that they have been answered through carefully researched and written commentary for seekers of faith. The absence of answers in the study is perhaps indicative that the events and circumstances were deemed less worthy of documentation in the overall importance of biblical scripture. Was hell mentioned in the Bible? Where does Jesus talk about hell in the Bible? What is the difference between hell and the lake of fire? What is sheol? What is hades? What Jesus really said about heaven and hell? What is hell like according to the Bible? What hell really looks like according to the Bible? What does the Bible say about hell? Hell in the Bible KJV. Heaven and hell in the Bible. Reasons to go to hell in the Bible. First mention of hell in the Bible. Who goes to hell according to the Bible? Bible verses about hell.

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