Christian Concepts of the Devil and Hell


Biblical Satan
Devil or Devils?
Beasts
Fallen Angels
Biblical Lucifer
Antichrist
Hell

Last Updated: 8 Feb 2016  

Biblical Satan

Some claim that Christians invented devil worship and the concept of the 'devil'. This is a popular notion amongst Neo-Pagans and LaVey Satanists. However, it is not quite correct, as what they probably mean is the concept of Satan from the Christian New Testament, in effect 'created' the idea of a deity called Satan.

There are numerous references to Satan and the Devil in the New Testament. John 8:44 describes 'Satan' as being the 'father of all lies'. There is some debate as to whether Jesus, being raised in the Jewish faith, and following the books of the Old Testament, believed in a literal, central, evil 'Satan' figure or not. However, the mainstream view is that he did. One can only go by what the gospels say, and they are not 100% consistent in their use of terminology of 'the devil', 'devils' and so on.

The book of Job in the KJV Old Testament mentions 'Satan' in chapters 1 and 2, implying he is an angel or judge. The OT or Tanakh is the central book of Judaism, which is also used by Christians in addition to the New Testament. Judaism was first formed roughly 2000 years before Christ. There is a concept of Satan in Judaism, but not of a Devil. The concept of The Satan (aka HaSaTan or Ha-satan) used in the OT or Torah is in terms of a prosecuting attorney, who is not a deity and has no power unless given by the judge God himself. Ha-satan asks permission from God before he can act. Ha-satan is a servant of God whose job it is to test humankind. References to this role of 'Satan' can be found in the following passages: Job 2:3-6, Zechariah 3:1-2, Psalm 109:6-7 and Isaiah 45:5-7.

http://whatjewsbelieve.org

http://whatjewsbelieve.org/explanation07.html

The serpent in the Garden of Eden, in the book of Genesis, is regarded by Judaism to be just a snake, albeit one that could talk! The serpent is not equated by Jews to being the 'devil'. It is however often interpreted by Christians as being Satan, although this is never actually stated in the OT. Gnostics regard the serpent as being the Gnostic Goddess Sophia, which Luciferian Gnosticism associates with being Lucifer. Baphomet is a kabbalistic cipher for the Gnostic Goddess Sophia.



Perhaps the myth of the snake being a representation of the devil was enhanced by the legacy of Vlad III, Pinrce of Wallachia, in the 15th Century, aka Vlad the Impaler. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vlad_III

Vlad III was the inspiration for Bram Stoker's 1897 novel Dracula, associating Transylvania with the occult thereafter.

Gnosticism and Neo-Platonism used the concept of an 'evil' creator God, who created an imperfect world full of suffering. This God was in stark contrast to the benevolent and mysterious God, who was the true God. Gnosticism predated Christianity by several hundred years. Neo-Platonism emerged in the 3rd Century AD. Neo-Platonism was a fusion of Eastern mysticism, for example Buddhism, with Platonism.

Zoroastrianism uses the concept of good and evil deities (dualism), and makes a marked break from other religions of the time. One of the popular strains within Zoroastrianism considers (the representation of) evil (Ahriman) to have been a creation of the good God (Ahura Mazda), that subsequently turned from God and became his adversary. Ahriman has close to the same powers as God, and he opposes all of God’s works—truth, justice, beauty, light—with his own distortions—lie, injustice, ugliness, darkness. Zoroastrianism was formed somewhere between 1200 and 1500 BC by the prophet Zoroaster in the area of Afghanistan and Iran.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zoroastrianism

Islam has a concept of the Devil, known as 'Iblis'. Islam was first founded some 600 years after Christianity. The worship of a single dark God has been going on pre-Christ and pre-Mohammed, e.g. the Gnostic Demiurge, and can be traced to ancient Egypt and Judaism, if not earlier.

It is clear that the Catholic Church had a major influence on the perception of Theistic Satanism and Devil Worshipping in the 15th and 17th Centuries, with the publication of The Witches' Hammer, and the Compendium Maleficarum, which led to widespread fear of devil worshipping in the general population in Europe, fears about what 'devil worshippers' did (e.g. abuse children) and a large number of witch burnings subsequently. It described Satan in the image of the Greek pagan deity Pan (horned, goat-headed, cloven hooven deity). This fear still persists today to a large extent, and people still associate Satanists with child abuse. There is still a perception in the public that anyone involved in the occult is a 'devil worshipper' (in particular Christians), which may or may not literally be true in a spiritual sense. Whilst the number of Satanists involved in child abuse is no doubt extremely small, this activity does exist. However, whether it is statistically equivalent to the numbers of child abusers and paedophile rings of other faiths and inclinations is another matter.

The earliest admissions of Satan worship or Satanism were probably extracted under torture during the Witch Trials. Probably the first instances of actual 'Satanic' literature were Catholic propaganda pieces, of 'Satanic' rituals, in the same way that The Protocols of the Elders of Zion was created in 1903 in the Russian Empire, a forgery, purporting to be a manifesto of Jewish global domination, to encourage public feeling and create motivation for a racist backlash. These inverted Catholic rituals were later transformed around the time of the French Revolution into practices of operating magical groups, that were most likely atheistic in nature and aligned with the Enlightenment, free thought and possibly even radical materialism (pre-Ayan Rand, i.e. anti-royalist and religion, and for free market and science). These groups perhaps used them as a form of artistic and anti-religious oppression expression. It is hard to exactly say what these groups were about.

One can view, evil deities in various religions in three different forms. As a 'devil', as described above; as a trickster; and as evil spirits. The examples above (excluding the Judaic view of Satan as a judge of God) are of the former. The latter two types are discussed by a Gerhard Wohlberg.

www.karma2grace.org/Webcomponents/FAQ/index.asp?det=42

So, these are the three models: the single devil as God’s main adversary, the trickster, and the multitude of evil spirits. To which one does Hinduism subscribe? The answer is the third one, but with a twist. In Hinduism there is no single devil as there is in the Western monotheistic religions. Since there is no single God, neither can there be a single adversary to God. Instead, there are many evil spirits, but there are also superior evil beings. Indian religions, including Hinduism as well as Buddhism and Jainism, espouse a universe populated by many spirit beings. There are the spirits that live on the lowest rungs of the cosmos in hell; there are the hungry ghosts that roam the earth; there are the many spirits that indwell homes, rice fields, and forests. But then there are also the mighty devil-gods, called the asuras, who have great power.' 

Devil or Devils

There is some debate and confusion over the concept of the Devil in Christianity. In some parts of the canonical gospels of the New Testament, the text refers to a devil entering into a person. And in some places as a person being 'a devil' - meaning an evil person? Or a person influenced or entered into by the 'devil'? e.g. John 6: 70-71 (KJV) states:

70: Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?
71: He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.


In other parts the text refers to 'devils' in the plural (e.g. Legion), presumably meaning evil spirits or demons in the plural. In other sections the text refers to 'the' devil. This mixed usage of the term 'devil' may confuse the reader. Is the term 'devil' thus taken to mean a demon or evil spirit in one context and the Satan in the next. The usage of 'Satan' in the New Testament appears to refer to the fallen angel Satan rather than just a demon or evil spirit, although one cannot be 100% sure. Satan or 'the devil' is often used to refer to evil spirits in general who are assumed by some to be under the 'command' of a central evil entity or demon or fallen angel. 

Beasts

In Revelations, references are made to a beast or beasts. Some interpreters have linked this 'beast' in Revelations with a variety of historical figures, e.g. the Roman Emperor Nero, the Roman Emperor Caligula and even the Pope Benedict.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Number_of_the_Beast 

Fallen Angels

Judaism, and the Old Testament uses the concept of fallen angels, but relies on them to a much lesser extent than the New Testament. In Judaism, only human kind have freewill, no other creature has the ability to differentiate between good and evil and to make a choice on what path to go. Angels are said to have no freewill but are sent to earth to perform a single task.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angel

Judaism does have an angelology that includes angels and what one might term 'demons'. However, they are reputed to be extensions of God's will. The angels (and especially demons) are a much, much smaller part of Jewish theology than in the Christian tradition. The purpose of the demons, which are delineated only in Kabbalistic texts, is an attempt to understand the nature of evil. They supposedly come out of, rather than cause, evil. In Judaism there is therefore no need to cast out of demons or the concept of demonic possession.

Kabballistic texts such as the Zohar mention fallen or 'evil' angels. The notable examples are Uzza and Azazel, who provided the evil prophet Bilaam with valuable information. Whether these in some sense were performing the 'will of God' is a matter of debate! Modern Theistic Satanists believe Azazel to be the embodiment of Satan.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uzza

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azazel

Of the books of the Old Testament, Ezekiel 28:13-16 is often quoted by Christians as being evidence of Satan or Lucifer being a fallen angel. However, this is an interpreted or implied meaning, and there is no mention of the 'devil', 'Satan' or 'Lucifer' in these verses and it is not something that Jews will likely agree on. A discussion on this point can be found at the link below.

www.wrestedscriptures.com/b07satan/ezekiel28v13-15.html

There are various indirect references in the New Testament to fallen angels, but the most direct reference can be found in the book of Revelation 12:4-9, where the 'devil' and 'Satan' are mentioned. 

Biblical Lucifer

The context in which 'Lucifer' is mentioned in the Old Testament is probably not in the role of 'the Devil'. e.g. Isaiah 14:12. (KJV): How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!

The articles below examine the translation of Isaiah 14:12. The first article examines other references in the NT for Satan and how they associate Satan with lighting and light, and examines Isaiah's use of Lucifer, which is most likely to actually symbolically refer to the Babylonian deity morning star that is not able to help the rogue Babylonian king, and not actually the Devil himself.

www.crivoice.org/lucifer.html http://www.crivoice.org/lucifer.html

www.lds-mormon.com/lucifer.shtml

The link below explains how the use of Lucifer here was a mistranslation by Jerome who finished The Latin Vulgate Bible in 405 AD. He mistranslated the word 'Heylel' to mean 'Lucifer'. Heylel is claimed to be derived from the root word 'halal' which is used 165 times in the OT, and translated in a number of different, often contradictory ways, but certainly with no reference to 'Satan' or a Babylonian God.

www.israelofgod.org/lucifer.htm

It is alleged in the Latin Vulgate, in 2 Peter 1:19 and Revelation 22:16, 'Lucifer' is used to refer to Jesus Christ. The KJV uses the terms 'day star' and 'morning star' in these passages respectively. The KJV is quoted below, where Jesus is referred to as the 'morning star'.

Revelation 22:16: I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.

2 Peter 1:19: We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:

Revelation 2:

24: But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden. 25: But that which ye have already hold fast till I come. 26: And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: 27: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. 28: And I will give him the morning star.

29: He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.


The term 'Luciferians' is was used to describe a Schismatic Christian group named after Lucifer Calaritanus, Bishop of Cagliari, Sardinia in the late 4th century. He was made a saint, Saint Lucifer. The movement was linked to the complex political machinations involving the emperor Constantius II and Pope Liberius. Lucifer was a staunch ultra-orthodox opponent of Arius (founder of Arianism - the philosophy opposed to the Trinity) - Arius was declared a heretic by Orthodox Christianity. The Luciferian movement died out early in the 5th century. All that we ascertain of Bishop Lucifer's views derive from the anti-Luciferian polemic of Jerome in the form of a dialogue, Altercatio Luciferiani et orthodoxi ("Altercation of the Luciferian and the orthodox"). Mentioning St Lucifer in this context is perhaps an anomaly as these Luciferians really have nothing whatsoever to do with Traditional and Modern Luciferianism except for the fact that for St Lucifer's name - he could just as well have been called Michael and it would have had no impact on his ideas or followers (mostl likely). The name 'Lucifer' at this time did not appear to have any 'Satanic' connotations.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucifer_Calaritanus

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerome

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luciferian

It is possible that the description of the 'Man of Light' in the Gnostic codex from the Nag Hammadi Egyptian library 'On the Origin of the World' describes the Man of Light, a type of fallen angel, is a reference to 'Lucifer', although no explicit mention of Lucifer is made in the scroll, and it is not a Christian text, but it is possible it could have influenced Christian thinkers in later centuries.

Lucifer, meaning 'light', has given way to a variety of Scientific Terminology such as 'Luciferin' and 'Luciferase', which are light-emitting pigments and enzymes respectively. The use of Greek and Roman gods in science in general and particularly Astronomy is not uncommon but in this case the usage is not really 'pagan-inspired' but more derived from the Latin meaning.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luciferin

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luciferase

The term Lucifer is often used interchangeably with Satan by most modern Christians and also the general public, although this has not always been the case. Some elements of Orthodox Christianity perhaps associated Lucifer with 'Satan before the fall', i.e. the angel Satan. However the term Lucifer was not universally understood in this context. It is more likely it became associated with Satan through a misinterpretation of the context in which it is mentioned in the King James Bible (as described above). As Bishop (later Saint) Lucifer's name attests (see below), Lucifer was not yet associated with 'Satan' in the 4th century. 

Antichrist

The books 1 John and 2 John of the New Testament mention the 'antichrist'. Many Christians and indeed non-Christians have taken this term to refer to a mythical 'son of Satan' figure, who will come to bring destruction on the world. Perhaps this is an interpretation of the 'beast' from the Book of Revelation, which is either describing the 'Devil' or is describing a Roman ruler. The notion of the 'Son of Satan' has spread in popular culture and through movies such as The Omen. However, this is a misinterpretation of what the Bible actually means. There is no single 'antichrist' as such in the Biblical sense. The term simply means someone who is against Christ. They are anti-Christianity and anti-Christ (assuming modern Christianity reflects what Jesus actually taught). They do not have to literally even belief in 'the devil', worship 'the devil' or even be the 'son of the Devil'. It is a term that early Christians used to label those Roman rulers and others who were against Christians in general. It has however been used gratuitously in horror films and novels in another context entirely. The Qur'an predicts that an 'Antichrist' will come (being a Devil figure) and that Jesus will return and come down from Heaven and kill this Antichrist.

In Matthew 24:14-15, Jesus is discussing the end times and states the following.

[14] And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
[15] When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)

Some interpret this as meaning the coming of the 'Antichrist'. However, if we look at Daniel's reference to the 'abomination of desolation', then it seems to refer to the historical figure, the Seleucid ruler Antiochus IV, aka Antiochus Epiphanes.

http://knol.google.com/k/united-church-of-god/just-what-is-the-abomination-of/okntpffreubl/46#

If we consider the context of Matthew 24, Jesus is discussing the end times, the end of the world, the chaos, destruction and debauchery and false teachings before Jesus comes again. In verse 15 onwards, he talks about the 'abomination of desolation' - is this really however the 'Antichrist'? If one follows this concept of a single Antichrist, there cannot be multiple throughout history presumably. Is Jesus merely stating that amidst the chaos, destruction and false teachings, it will happen again that an agressive ruler or tyrant will come to the Jewish Temple (which has not officially been discovered or rebuilt as yet) and defile it as Antiochus once did? Jesus does not however suggest that this one figure is the 'Devil' incarnate, nor that he will necessarily unite all the forces of darkness against God and mankind. To make the jump to him being the single 'Antichrist' type figure implied by Revelations (a set of visions or dreams of one of the Apostles (allegedly) and often interpreted metaphorically by Christians) is another step in the logic, and not something Jesus actually stated explicitly. It could be argued that the figure in Revelations is also an allegory for Nero, another historical figure. 

Hell

References to what we can assume is 'Hell' in the New Testament gospels include phrases such as 'furnace of fire' or 'outer darkness, with a weeping and gnashing of teeth.' These references are not explicitly described as 'Hell' and are used in Jesus' parables, and may well be metaphoric in some sense (separation from God, being tormented by one's self hatred, worry and fears, or one's ego, or perhaps being tortured by evil spirits/demons or the 'devil' himself) Other religions such as Buddhism use the concept of self-torture after death depending on spiritually ascended (or not) one is.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hell

The modern view of Hell is very much influenced by that pictured in Dante 's Inferno. The Divine Comedy was written by Dante Alighieri between 1308 and his death in 1321. Not exactly a Biblical source!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Divine_Comedy

Eugene Delacroix, The Barque of Dante, 1822, (oil on canvas, 189 x 246 cm), Louvre, Paris:



This built up on the early views of Hell being linked with images of abysses, pits, lava, fire, volcanos, perhaps built upon earlier pagan views of the Underworld, the place of the dead; and the belief that heaven is up and hell is 'down', and as the Earth has molten lava beneath the surface, and hell being 'hot', then this picture seemed to satisfy early Christians.

Erta Ale, in Ethiopia, the oldest lava lake in the world is believed by local tribemen to be the gateway to 'Hell'.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erta_Ale

There are explicit references to hell in the Old and New Testaments, as being a low and firey place or pit. However the meaing is very different.

In the OT, the Hebrew Sheol is translated as meaning 'grave' or 'pit'. The Septuagint (the oldest Hebrew Bible, i.e. OT) translates Sheol as Hades. Hades is not generally intended to be a place of eternal damnation in the Christian sense, but a (temporary) resting place of the dead (all dead souls including 'good' and 'bad') or the place where the wicked await (temporary?) damnation. The OT does not however link Hell with Satan or with a fallen angel, whereas the NT does. Judaism does not have the same concept of Hell as Christianity.

http://www.bibletexts.com/terms/hell.htm

The Jewish 'Hell' is known as Gehanna (a.k.a. Gehenna) and is more a form of purgatory, a temporary place of cleansing for souls. It is the abode of the damned in the afterlife in Jewish and Christian eschatology (the doctrine of last things). Named in the New Testament in Greek form (from the Hebrew Ge Hinnom, meaning valley of Hinnom), Gehenna originally was a valley west and south of Jerusalem where children were burned as sacrifices to the Ammonite god Moloch by the Israelites. Gehenna also lends its name to the Islamic Hell 'Jahannam'. In Jahannam, Muslims are eventually forgiven whereas non-Muslims are not.

Gehanna is fairly well defined in rabbinic literature. It is sometimes translated as "hell", but one should note that the Christian view of hell differs greatly from the classical Jewish view. In Judaism, Gehinom while certainly a terribly unpleasant place or state is not hell. The overwhelming majority of rabbinic thought maintains that souls are not tortured in gehinom forever; the longest that one can be there is said to be twelve months, with extremely rare exception. This is the reason that even when in mourning for near relatives, Jews will not recite mourner's kaddish for longer than an eleven month period. Gehinom is considered a spiritual forge where the soul is purified for its eventual ascent to Gan Eden ("Garden of Eden").

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gehenna

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jahannam

In the OT, Hell is also used to describe physical death.

Below are excerpts from the OT that seem to suggest that Hell is a place for all the dead, good and bad, and that souls are delivered from hell unto the Lord.

2 Samuel 22:6: The sorrows of hell compassed me about; the snares of death prevented me;

Psalms 16:10: For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

Psalms 18:5: The sorrows of hell compassed me about: the snares of death prevented me.

Psalms 86:13: For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell.

Psalms 116:3: The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow.

Proverbs 15:24: The way of life is above to the wise, that he may depart from hell beneath.

Proverbs 23:14: 'Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.

Psalms 139:8: If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.

The following passages are slightly ambiguous, and could either be interpreted in the sense that God wishes to kill the wicked or in the Christian sense of sending the evil only to hell (but non-specific about duration).

Psalms 9:17: The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.

Psalms 55:15: Let death seize upon them, and let them go down quick into hell: for wickedness is in their dwellings, and among them.

Isaiah 5:14: 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.

In Babylonian mythology, the underworld or place of all the dead was known as Kurnugia. In Mesopotamian mythology it is known as Irkalla. The queen of the underworld was Ereshkigal, 'great lady under earth'.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ereshkigal

According to Babylonian mythology, Inanna (Ishtar), the goddess of heaven and earth, and the sister of Ereshkigal, descended into the the underworld, Irkalla, in the pursuit of knowledge - to understand the depths of the spiritual world in which she reigned. This is perhaps a pre-Jungian metaphor for the process of personal growth by exploring one's 'shadow', known as Individuation.

Inanna and Ereshkigal are considered by some to be one and the same, different aspects of the same goddess. Ereshkigal is perhaps the aspect of Inanna that did not receive love and nurturing and was bitter and hostile. Upon descending into Irkalla (a.k.a. Inanna's Descent), Inanna was killed by Ereshkigal. Unsuccessful individuation perhaps!

Another figure that briefly visited the underworld to gain wisdom was the Babylonian hero Gilgamesh.

The term Irkalla was also used to describe Ereshkigal, the goddess of the underworld, as well as the underworld itself, in the same way the Greek mythological term Hades is used to describe both the underworld (the abode of the god Hades) and also the god of the dead, Hades.

Hades is depicted below.



Source: Aviad Bublil.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hades

In Christian theology, the term hades refers to the abode of the dead or Sheol (also Hell), where the dead await Judgment Day either at peace or in torment.

Like other first-century Jews literate in Greek, early Christians used the Greek word Hades to translate the Hebrew word Sheol. Thus, in Acts 2:27, the Hebrew phrase in Psalm 16:10 appears in the form: "you will not abandon my soul to Hades." Death and Hades are repeatedly associated in the Book of Revelation.

The ancient Christian Churches hold that a final universal judgement will be pronounced on all human beings when soul and body are reunited in the resurrection of the dead.

The following excerpts from the New Testament (NT) seem to reinforce the NT Christian view that hell is a place where the wicked are sent for eternal damnation.

Matthew 10:28: 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.

Matthew 16:18: And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Matthew 18:9: And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.

Matthew 23:33: Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?

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

The following NT passages seem to imply Hell is another word for physical death (in the OT sense).

Revelation 1:18: 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.

Revelation 6:8: And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.

The following passages seem to suggest that the dead either go straight to heaven or straight to hell.

Luke 23: 42-43: [42] And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. [43] And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.

The following NT passages could be interpreted to mean Hell in the OT sense of a resting place for all dead who are all punished to varying degrees before being reunited with God; or in the sense that all dead go to Hell to await final/last judgement prior to either eternal damnation or going to heaven.

Matthew 5:22: 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.

Acts 2:27: Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

Acts 2:31: He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.

2 Peter 2:4: 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;

Revelation 20:13: 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.

One could therefore conclude that the New Testament, the Biblical basis for mainstream Christian thought, seems to suggest that the Christian Hell is not a place for all dead souls, but for those that are to be punished - the suggestion being that souls that are destined to be with the Father at death go straight there.

Catholicism uses the concept of Purgatory as a temporary place where all souls go, for punishment, prior to their final destination in Heaven or Hell. This would be similar to the Jewish concept of Gehenna if it were not for the possibility of going to Hell afterwards. Purgatory has no Biblical basis in this context and is not a belief shared by Protestants.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purgatory

Clearly the concepts of Hell, Hades, Sheol, Gehanna are somewhat confused between the New and Old Testaments. Is it correct to reinterpret the Old Testament in terms of the intended meaning of the New Testament? Followers of Judaism may not necessarily agree! Presumably if there was a major problem with the concept of Satan and Gehanna or Sheol in the Scriptures, Jesus would have clearly pointed it out, rather than making indirect references to it (in passing) in his teachings?

Other non-Biblical concepts replacing 'hell' have arisen in Christianity, which clearly must have different concepts regarding the 'devil', 'evil spirits' and demonology. These include:

Conditional Immortality, or Conditionalism is the belief that man is mortal and that immortality is given only by God, i.e. when one dies, God may give us eternal life in 'heaven', or we will just cease to exist rather than go to a formal Hell. This doctrine is in opposition to the generally accepted notion of the immortality of the soul. Conditionalism has grown in acceptance by the Eastern Orthodox Church and Evangelicalism. It is often associated with Annihilationism.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conditional_immortality

Ezekiel 18:4: Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.

The concept of Hell has historically been used by the church as a form of negative motivation (fear of going to hell - as opposed to positive motivation) to encourage adherence in the general population to Christian moral codes of behaviour, to prevent losses of religious subjects and to recruit soldiers into the Crusades.

The term Lucifer is often used interchangeably with Satan by most modern Christians and also the general public, although this has not always been the case. Some elements of Orthodox Christianity perhaps associated Lucifer with 'Satan before the fall', i.e. the angel Satan. However the term Lucifer was not universally understood in this context. It is more likely it became associated with Satan through a misinterpretation of the context in which it is mentioned in the King James Bible (as described above). As Bishop (later Saint) Lucifer's name attests (see below), Lucifer was not yet associated with 'Satan' in the 4th century and we should question modern creative interpretations of the Old Testament to justify modern Christian cultural biases.

© 2006-2014 Fabian Dee