On The Existence of Hell and Eternal Punishment
1. “Those who have been taught by Christendom believe the God-dishonoring doctrine of a fiery hell for tormenting conscious human souls eternally” (Let God Be True, 88).
2. “It is so plain that the Bible hell is mankind’s common grave that even an honest little child can understand it, but not the religious theologians” (LGBT, 92).
3. “Who is responsible for this God-defaming doctrine of a hell of torment? The promulgator of it is Satan himself. His purpose in introducing it has been to frighten the people away from studying the Bible and to make them hate God” (LGBT, 98).
4. “Imperfect man does not torture even a mad dog, but kills it. And yet the clergymen attribute to God, who is love, the wicked crime of torturing human creatures merely because they had the misfortune to be born sinners” (LGBT, 99).
5. “The doctrine of a burning hell where the wicked are tortured eternally after death cannot be true, mainly for four reasons: (1) Because it is wholly unscriptural; (2) it is unreasonable; (3) it is contrary to God’s love; and (4) it is repugnant to justice” (LGBT, 99).
6. “It is … a lie, which the Devil has had spread, that the souls of the wicked are tormented in a hell or a purgatory” (You Can Live, 89).
On the non-immortality of the Soul
1. “Man is a combination of two things, namely, the ‘dust of the ground’ and ‘the breath of life.’ The combining of these two things (or factors) produced a living soul or creature called man” (Let God Be True, 68).
2. “So we see that the claim of religionists that man has an immortal soul and therefore differs from the beast is not scriptural” (LGBT, 68).
3. “The fact that the human soul is mortal can be amply proved by a careful study of the Holy Scriptures. An immortal soul cannot die, but God’s Word, at Ezekiel 18:4, says concerning humans: ‘Behold all souls are mine. … The soul that sinneth it shall die’” (LGBT, 69–70).
4. “It is clearly seen that even the man Christ Jesus was mortal. He did not have an immortal soul: Jesus, the human soul, died” (LGBT, 71).
5. “Thus it is seen that the serpent (the Devil) is the one that originated the doctrine of the inherent immortality of human souls” (LGBT, 74–75).
6. “The Scriptures show that the destiny of the sinful man is death” (LGBT, 75).
7. “The Holy Scriptures alone offer real hope for those who do seek Jehovah God and strive to follow his ways” (LGBT, 75).
8. “At death man’s spirit, his life-force, which is sustained by breathing, ‘goes out.’ It no longer exists. … When they are dead, both humans and animals are in this same state of complete unconsciousness. … That the soul lives on after death is a lie started by the Devil” (You Can Live, 77).
9. “The human soul ceases to exist at death. … Hell is mankind’s common grave” (Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Twentieth Century, electronic version).
The After Life
According to Judaism and the Scriptures
James Scott Trimm
Luke 16:19-31 Lazurus and the Rich Man
This account is totally in keeping with the ancient Jewish view of the afterlife.
To begin with the Hebrew word She'ol always appears in the feminine form and NEVER has a definite artical in any of its many appearances in the Tanak. Therefore it is almost certain that SHE'OL is a proper noun, the name of a place.
In the Tanak the word SHE'OL is often contrasted with "Heaven" (Job 11:8; Ps. 139:8; Amos 9:2). According to the Tanak the wicked and godless nations go to SHE'OL (Ps. 9:17) According to Psalm 86:13 the soul goes to SHE'OL. According to Proverbs 15:24 SHE'OL can be avoided. In Prov. 23:14 a soul is delivered from SHE'OL. In Is. 57:9 a soul is lowered to SHE'OL.
So SHE'OL would seem to be the proper name of a place which may be contrasted with Heaven to which souls go and from which they may be delivered.
According to Ezek. 31:16-18 Gan Eden (The Garden of Eden) was cast into SHE'OL (Ezek. 31:16-18).
Now if we put this altogether it would seem that upon our deaths the RUACH (spirit) returns to the Father from which it came and the NEFESH (soul) enters into SHE'OL to await the resurrection when body, soul and spirit will be reunited. The righteous souls await the resurection in Gan Eden (Garden of Eden) within SHE'OL while the unrighteous souls await the resurection in SHE'OL outside of GAN EDEN.
Josephus writes of the first century Pharisses:
They also believe that souls have an immortal
vigour in them, and that under the earth there
will be rewards or punishments, according
as they have lived virtuously or viciously
in this life; and the latter are to be detained
in an everlasting prison, but the former shall
have power to revive and live again;...
(Josephus; Ant. 18:1:3)
Josephus gives a much longer treatment of SHE'OL (or "Hades") which I will send in a separate email). In that material Josephus describes SHE'OL as having two compartments. One for the righteous he calls "The Bosom of Abraham" the other is for the unrighteous. The two are separated by "a chaos deep and large" which he says "is fixed between them". He describes it as a place "wherein the souls of men are confined until a proper season, which God has determined, when he will make a resurrection of all men" (It is only fair to say that liberal scholars challenge whether Josephus was the true author of of the Extract on Hades which is attributed to him, though it certainly seems to tie in with his other mentions of "Hades" and with the reference in Ant. 18:1:3.
At any rate the similarity between the model presented by Josephus and that presented by Yeshua are very similar. Both refer to the Bosom of Abraham and a fixed gulf (Luke 16) and both quote Is. 66:24 (Mk. 10, 44, 46, 48) as referring to the Lake of Fire.
After the resurection there is a judgement and the righteous enter the world to come while the unrighteous are cast into GEY HINNOM also called the "Lake of Fire".
GEY HINNOM was a vally just outside of Jerusalem (Joh. 15:8; 18:16; Neh. 11:30; Jer. 19:2, 6) where pagans had offered up their own children to Ba'al and Molech (2Kn. 23:10; 2Ch. 28:3; 33:6; Jer. 7:31-32; 19:2, 6; 32:35). In the first century all of the refuse of the city was cast into GEY HINNOM and burned there.
In the Mishna GEY HINNOM is contrasted with Gan Eden and with the World to Come as the place where the wicked go (m.Avot 5:19-20; m.Eduy. 2:10) . The Talmud also contrasts GEY HINNOM with Heaven as a place where the wicked go (b.Ber. 28a). According to the Talmud GEY HINNOM is huge (b.Pes. 94a) and has seven compartments (b.Sotah 19b).
From Yeshua's usage we also know that Is. 66:24 refers to GEY HINNOM (Mk. 10:44, 46, 48).
Upon death our spirit returns to the Father but our Soul goes into SHE'OL. The wicked remain in SHE'OL proper but the righteous are kept in GAN EDEN which had been cast into SHE'OL (Ezek. 31:16-18). In between the two is a great fixed gulf (Luke 16:26). The souls of the dead await the resurrection in SHE'OL when they are reunited with their bodies and spirits at the resurrection. At that time GAN EDEN (or PARDES) is moved into the World to Come (the New heavens and the new Earth) (Rev. 2:7; 21:1; 22:2) while SHE'OL is cast into the lake of Fire (GEY HINNOM (Rev. 20:14).