Q&A: Will I go to Hell if I don’t believe ?

Question: Will I go to Hell if I don’t believe Jesus is God?

Hell in the Old Testament

The word translated “Hell” in the Old Testament comes from the Hebrew word Sheol which literally means grave or pit.  Often times people refer to Sheol as a place like the Greek Hades in that it is a place where your soul will go, for eternal punishment, after you die.  However, in the Scriptures it is equated to the pit or grave because in ancient Israel when you died you were buried and that was that. 

The idea that you die and your soul goes to heaven or hell is not found anywhere in the Old Testament.  What would be considered the soul in modern “Christianity” is more like what would be called breath in the Old Testament. For example:

“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”

Gen 2:7

Breath – OT:5397 neshamah (nesh-aw-maw’); a puff, i.e. wind, angry or vital breath, divine inspiration or intellect:
KJV – blast, (that) breath (-eth), inspiration, soul, spirit.

Soul – OT:5315 nephesh (neh’-fesh); properly, a breathing creature, i.e. animal of vitality; used very widely in a literal, accommodated or figurative sense: KJV – beast, body, breath, creature, man, me, person, soul.

Strong’s Concordance

The breath is the intellect or mind which equates to the modern concept of Soul, while the Soul in this case is the person or body which contains it. The mind cannot physically go anywhere without the body. When a body dies the breath goes away. In the same way, when you die, your spirit, mind, soul or whatever you choose to call it goes away. It does not go to either Heaven or Hell. Incidentally, you can be physically alive and spiritually dead.

Consider this

When we speak, our words are breath and if no one hears, the breath is gone.  Therefore, when God breathed the breath of life into Adam, it was his breath or Word that made Adam a living soul.  Now, soul is a breathing creature in the sense of an animal having no intellect or understanding. So, Adam was physically alive but spiritually dead until God breathed his Word into him and he became a living soul being spiritually alive.

“Those who say that the Lord died first and (then) rose up are in error, for he rose up first and (then) died.  If one does not first attain the resurrection (while he lives) will he not die?  As God lives, he would be (already) <dead>.”

Gospel of Philip

Hell in the New Testament

There are two words translated “Hell” in the New Testament Greek, Gehenna and Hades. 

Gehenna means “Valley of Hinnom” which is Lamentation or Mourning and is a literal place near Jerusalem.  According to Jones’ Dictionary “a valley west of Jerusalem where children were sacrificed to Moloch”. (2 Chron 28:1-5, 33:1-13; Jeremiah 7:21-34, 19 and 32:28-42). Gehenna is used in scripture to identify what is “evil in the sight of the lord”. In Matthew 23:33 Jesus said to the Religious leaders “How can you escape the condemnation of Gehenna” accusing them of the same idolatrous practices as their forefathers. It is not a place of eternal punishment.

Hades is the word from which comes the modern concept of Hell. Hades in the ancient Greek religion and myth, is the god of the dead and the king of the underworld. He and his brothers, Zeus and Poseidon, defeated their father’s generation of gods. Having defeated the Titans, they claimed rule over the cosmos. Zeus received the sky, Poseidon the sea, and Hades the underworld. The underworld became know as Hades. Hades, according to Greek mythology, is the unseen realm to which the immortal souls of the dead go for eternal punishment. You probably find this story familiar but you wont find it in God’s Word.

How did Greek Mythology get into Christianity?

In the 2nd Century some church “leaders” began to incorporate Greek philosophies into scripture.  Athenagorus was a Platonist who converted to Christianity. He used Neoplatonic concepts to interpret the teachings of Jesus for Greek and Roman cultures.  He introduced Plato’s teachings of the immortal soul being punished or rewarded forever. This is where the concept of Heaven and Hell entered Christianity. Neither Jesus nor the Apostles taught these Greek concepts.

Other Greek concepts in “Christianity” you can thank Athenagorus for are bodily resurrection and the trinity, but these are subjects for another time.

In Conclusion

Hell is a concept from Greek Mythology, not the teachings of Jesus so neither you nor your soul will go to Hell no matter what you do.  If you keep the commands of God you will have life and if not you will have death.

See, I have set before you this day life and good, and death and evil; In that I command you this day to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply: … But if your heart turn away, so that you will not hear, but shall be drawn away, and worship other gods (even Jesus), and serve them; I denounce unto you this day, that you shall surely die, … I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, … That you may love the Lord your God, and that you may obey His voice, and that you may cleave to Him: for He is your life, and the length of your days: that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.

Deut 30:15-20

Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.”

Matt 22:37-38

Regarding not believing Jesus is God, see here.

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