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Where their worm does not die…

November 16, 2009

The current mainstream belief of Hell is what I believe is the one doctrine, that single-handedly is  responsible for making more atheists and unbelievers than any other teaching in the Church.  It drives more people away from Christ than any other issue, and I don’t blame them.  The concept of a vengeful God punishing the bad for eternity not only contradicts common sense, it contradicts the very Word of God.  It’s the concept of an underworld where bad people go to when they die, and that they’ll burn forever and ever, is not only cruel, but almost ridiculous.  No wonder most smart and thinking people refuse to accept this ideology. They figure if the church is out to lunch on this issue, they could be wrong in the rest of it.

So my goal here is to post a series of studies to clear up the misconception and examine the issue more closely, verse by verse.  First of all, we have to establish that there is no hell, as in people burning right now, underneath us somewhere in the earth.  That is all false. To prove that, I will analyze proof verses that some Christians use to show that there is a hell.  More often than not, these verses are taken out of context, and will look at the real meaning behind these verses.

Today I will look at one passage, Mark 9:43-48.

43 If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched— 44 where
‘ Their worm does not die
And the fire is not quenched.’

45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having two feet, to be cast into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched— 46 where
‘ Their worm does not die
And the fire is not quenched.’

47 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, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire— 48 where
‘ Their worm does not die
And the fire is not quenched.

I have found a study from helltruth.com and have use their study on this passage and more below.  The study was taken from the book, Answers to Objections, by Francis D. Nichol.

——————–

The Bible says that hell-fire will not be quenched and that “their worm dieth not.” (See Mark 9:43-48 and Isaiah 66:24).  Doesn’t this prove the immortality of the soul?

Even if we should agree that unquenched means endlessly burning, we would not find it necessary to accept the doctrine that at death an immortal soul is freed from man and lives apart from the body.  These texts do not speak of disembodied souls, or spirits, burning.  The Bible paints a picture of literal, wicked men at the judgment day being “cast into the lake of fire.”  (See Revelation 20.)

Christ speaks of the “whole body” being “cast into hell.” (Matthew 5:29-30.)  If it be replied that the body would be destroyed by the flames, and therefore only the spirit would be left, we ask for the Bible proof that spirits, or souls, are impervious to fire.  Christ declared we should “fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10:28.  If “destroy” means consume as regards the “body”, we demand very clear proof if we are expected to believe that “destroy” means to leave unconsumed as regards the “soul.”  A failure to produce such proof really takes the whole point out of the objection based on Mark 9 and Isaiah 66.

In Mark 9:43-48 Christ quite evidently refers to the same judgment fires as those described in Isaiah 66:24, where we read:  “They [the righteous] shall go forth, and look upon the carcasses [“dead bodies,” A.R.V.] of the men that have transgressed against me; for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched.”  We are told in so many words that the agencies of “worm” and “fire” are working, not upon disembodied spirits, but upon bodies, dead bodies.

The word “hell” used in Mark 9:43-48 is from the Greek word Gehenna.  This term, as we have learned, is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word Hinnom, the name of a valley near Jerusalem, “used as a place to cast carcasses of animals and malefactors, which were consumed by fire constantly kept up.” (See Liddell and Scott’s Greek Lexicon.)

Christ here uses this valley of Hinnom to teach His hearers the fate that awaits the wicked.  Certainly the Jews who heard His words could not possibly have obtained any idea of wicked, disembodied souls endlessly suffering.  They saw in Hinnom dead bodies being devoured by flames, or if the flames did not reach them, then by worms, those ever-present agents of destruction and disintegration.  The fact that the fires of Gehenna were ever kept burning, were “not quenched,” was the surest proof that whatever was cast into them would be entirely consumed.  To declare that if a fire keeps ever burning, then whatever is cast into it keeps ever living, is to go contrary both to the evidence of our senses and to the testimony of Scripture.

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19 Comments leave one →
  1. Abs permalink
    August 9, 2010 9:42 pm

    I just briefly read your article “where their worm does not die.” I recently came across a book that directed me to Jeremiah 17 v 27 to show that the ‘fire shall not be quenched’ doesn’t necessarily mean that the fire will never go out. The worms that don’t die is a tricky one to get the head around tho aye.

    • August 12, 2010 9:00 am

      Well think about it, if you have a garbage dump or compost pile, and you’re continually throwing trash in the heap, worms will thrive. The picture being painted was not an eternal one, but something more closer to home like the local garbage dump that seems to be always burning.

  2. Craig Rogers permalink
    December 13, 2010 2:01 am

    But the fire in the bush Moses chatted with didn’t consume the bush… Whose to say Hell’s fire isn’t like that fire… And the worm never dying… Worms on earth in a garbage dump do die, and bodies don’t necessarily have to be dead to have worms… Dogs get worms all the time.

    • January 6, 2011 10:42 am

      Sorry Craig, The popular idea of people burning in hell for eternity is sadistic. It contradicts the very idea of a loving God. Satan wants to paint God as a mean sadist, hence this distorted doctrine. Don’t buy into it. God’s mercy is shown by the 2nd death of the lost. The one time, burning up of those who chose death, and not God. That’s love.

  3. Nala permalink
    January 16, 2011 2:52 am

    Hell is real! Read your Bible and ask God for understanding. God is a loving God, yes! But He is also a HOLY God and therefore, His holiness cannot be compromised which is why Hell is allowed by God in the first place… to contain sin so that evil will stop. God is perfect and will not compromise His holiness. When He said that the “wages of sin is death”, it is eternal death which is separation from God which is Hell. But out of God’s love and mercy, He provided a way that mankind can be saved from their sin… which is Jesus. Accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior, meaning committing your life to God in obedience because you recognize you are a sinner in need of a Savior, is salvation and this is what gets you to heaven. How can you believe there is a heaven but no hell? That is exactly what the devil wants people to believe, that hell does not exist. But the truth is that it does. Always pray when you read your Bible and ask God to reveal His word as you read.

    • January 17, 2011 11:56 am

      I’m sorry my friend. The devil wants people to believe that God is a sadist that punishes people for eternity. This picture of God is what turns people away from believing the truth, which is exactly what Satan wants.

      The “Hell” the Bible talks about is the ONE TIME, burning up of the wicked when Jesus comes with the New Jerusalem. Read Revelation. I pray that more of you will realize this and stop teaching the twisted doctrine of eternal torment.

  4. kirk permalink
    April 4, 2011 8:46 pm

    my take on this is this; if you are not indwelled by the holy spirit then you will be indwelled by something else. what does a worm do? eat the apple from the inside. indwelling demons are immortal. those worms won’t die and their fire will not be quenched…..

    • April 5, 2011 10:06 am

      That’s a bit of a stretch no? Where do you get the idea of indwelling demons that are immortal? Only God is immortal. (1 Tim 6:16) We need to get the idea out of our heads that our souls are immortal. That is completely false.

      • kirk permalink
        April 5, 2011 12:43 pm

        aren’t satin and his demon immortal? i agree that humans will burn up but
        won’t satin’s torment last forever? atleast this is how i see it. now i may be wrong here as i may have gotten this from the catholic schooling. but that would explain the eternal torment stuff. and if God made angels immortal then he won’t take that back and a fate worse than death awaits these entities. but you think that even the demons get burned up? hmmm….

      • April 5, 2011 1:13 pm

        Well… to answer those questions, what does the Bible say? I wouldn’t rely on Catholic schooling unless the things you were taught were straight from the Bible.

        The Bible says God alone is immortal. No one else. The devil and his demons only exist because God permits them too. The Bible doesn’t say anything about immortal souls. You can look it up, that is a myth. Once we die we cease to exist, as our breath goes back to God. When Jesus comes again, he will recreate our bodies, and grant us the gift of eternal life. The wicked will be burned up once, and cease to exist thereafter.

  5. Ann permalink
    May 19, 2011 11:38 am

    Very well said.

    I was taught about the existence of a hell where the unsaved go for all eternity and all it did was cause me to become depressed. The depression went on for years until God showed me the Truth that is in His Word – that the is no such thing as an eternal hell. To my understanding, if God sends people to hell then He must be more evil than the devil. That is, of course, what the devil wants us to believe. Also, if the unsaved were punished for all eternity for their sins then the punishment is far, far, far worse than the crime – infinitely worse.

    Thank you for your explanation.

  6. June 28, 2011 8:43 am

    We are all to be held accountable both in this world and the next.

    • July 5, 2011 12:48 pm

      The only option we have of an afterlife is one with God. The alternative is that we cease to exist. It’s up to us, choose life or death. It’s that simple.

  7. Kevin permalink
    November 16, 2011 6:44 pm

    Passages to look at: Daniel 12:2; Revelation 20:10-14; Matthew 25:41, 46; 2 Thessalonians 1:9-10; Luke 16:21-26

    I’m sorry, but “the evidence of our senses” holds absolutely no sway when they themselves are contrary to Scripture. Your list of cited passages is incomplete, and so I encourage you to again look into the Bible; and not your sensitivities. You know well the content of Revelation 20, I’m sure, but how does the Bible describe the lake of fire? v. 10 “The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”
    Is this same place found elsewhere in Scripture? Yes. Matthew 25:41,46 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’” Same place of everlasting fire reserved for the devil, same place where the “cursed” will be cast, and how else does Jesus describe the fate of this same exact group? “And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life (25:46).” Both punishment and life are things experienced; they aren’t objective, outside of the experience of humans. It is not just hell that burns forever, but people themselves who will experience either eternal life or everlasting (eternal) punishment. If you object, you might as well go as far as to say that eternal life is experienced in heaven but not necessarily by individuals in heaven. Note also that the way the Bible describes the lake of fire, especially the eternal punishment/torment that will happen in it, leaves absolutely no room for the interpretation that the lake of fire is a place of instantaneous annihilation (αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων “to the forever of forevers”).
    2 Thessalonians 1:9-10 also states: “These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed.” How can one be “punished with everlasting destruction” temporarily? The idea of everlasting destruction and everlasting punishment are only incompatible if you take an annihilist approach, rather than seeing that the torment (destruction/punishment) that exists after death is eternal. Jesus speaking of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16 also goes contrary to your proposition about hell. Even if this passage should be taken as a parable, for Christ to describe the after-life states of two fictional characters, He still expounds several details He apparently held true about life after death and we can validly draw the following implications: Hades can be a place of torment (16:23, 25b) [By the way, if this is true, then it is obvious that the dead which “Hades delivered up” to be cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:13-14) had possibly been tormented before being delivered up for the final judgment.], there are flames (v. 24), no one can by their own will pass from Hades to Abraham’s Bosom or vice versa (v. 26). Hades is a place of holding for the dead to be delivered up for judgment, but it is a place where torment happens. I realize that in Greek mythology, Hades is a place with multiple sections, one of which is where tormenting takes place.
    “And at that time your people shall be delivered, every one who is found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt.” (Daniel 12:2). What kind of everlasting shame and contempt can possibly take place when, according to you, a person will simply cease to exist? According to the Bible, you’re wrong.

    You’re basing your arguments on your feelings (your “senses”), which isn’t valid, and an incomplete examination of Scripture. The existence of hell as a place of eternal punishment for those who don’t know God is not contrary to love as an attribute of God. You’ve chosen to make that conclusion because you’re not able to wrestle with your conscience telling you that such a place is somewhere that you would not want to go, but the fact is that everyone deserves that punishment, myself included. It was an act of God’s love to send His Son to die on our behalf and experience hell Himself so that we who believe in Him would not face the penalty of God’s perfect justice. For God to simply annihilate sinners would actually be an act of mercy, but understand, God is NOT obligated to show ANY grace or mercy. His loving character is not dependent upon His demonstration of love, otherwise his demonstrations of mercy and grace would show that he is not just. The Resurrection of the dead, as Scripture describes it, testifies that we will indeed have bodies in our eternal state. However, that in no way disproves the keeping of man’s soul in a place of torment or of bliss upon death. “When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained” (Revelation 6:9). Where are the bodies? Why just the souls? “Soul sleep” is not a true doctrine. Look also at 2 Corinthians 5, and the transfiguration of Matthew 17:1-8; Moses and Elijah have not been resurrected yet, and yet their souls are obviously away from their bodies. Additionally, in 1 Samuel 28, Saul makes use of a medium to evoke the spirit of Samuel; the medium’s surprise indicates that this was indeed Samuel, and not some magic trick. But Samuel has not been resurrected yet!

    Frankly, if you call God a sadist simply because you can’t accept the difficult truth of the passages cited above, you do not worship God. You are an idolater, making God in your own image. Stop calling God a sadist just because His justice is greater than your feeble human mind. Keep examining.

  8. Gary permalink
    June 18, 2012 1:06 pm

    Thanks all for your comments. I have read the scriptures for many years now and have yet to come to some conclusion to the subject at hand. I don’t believe scripture contradicts itself but rather my understanding is at question. I have always gone to a church where an everlasting tormenting hell was preached. In my later years of life I have questioned that very much but really have no definite conclusion though I have tried. I know, in my older age,just how easy it is to get scripture confused, and yes I have been given the spirit. I too, one other comment stated, have a awful lot of trouble with God punishing people throughout all eternity for a short life time of sinfulness. This is not the God I have come to know. It does not seem like him. Punishment, yes, even for a period of time and even eternal death, but I too have trouble with the punishment fitting the crime when we talk about eternal torment. I could easily convince a unlearned person of either by picking out certain scriptures on either side. All in all, I just don’t have the answer. I hope that changes………..Gary

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