To most Bible Believers the emphasis of the Gospel (reduced to "good news” in some versions) is on our promised home in heaven and the joys of paradise throughout eternity.  Too often dedicated believers are embarrassed to use "hell” with reference to the lost.  Not that the use of "hell” does not abound in the profanity of the weak and ungodly, it does.  In the context of religion, "hell” is simply not "politically correct.”

As a consequence most readers will be utterly amazed to learn that Jesus not only coined the concept of Hell as we understand it, but the Greek word for hell (Greek "gehenna”) as the place of eternal punishment, and emphasized the concept throughout his ministry.  Gehenna is used 12 times in the New Testament.  Eleven of these 12 times by Jesus.  They are found in Matthew 5:22, 29, 30; 10:28; 18:9; 23:15, 33; Mark 9:43, 45, 47; Luke 12:5.  In the rest of the New Testament, amazingly enough, it is only used in James 3:6.  However the concept of salvation from punishment is more than prominent in first century preaching.  Peter on Pentecost admonished the audience to, "Save yourselves from this crooked [or corrupt - NIV] generation”  Acts 2:40 ASV.

Unfortunately, the beloved King James Version uses "hell” to translate two very different Greek words (OK, three counting tartarus in 2 Peter 2:4).  They are gehenna, the place of eternal punishment, and hades, referring to the unseen world.  The best place to see the distinction is in 
Acts 2:25-32.  Peter is referring to a prophecy by David of the resurrection of Christ and states of the Messiah or Jesus in verse 27, "thou wilt not leave my soul in hell [ASV, etc = hades], neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.”  Jesus Christ was not left in hades or the grave but raised the third day and therefore did not see corruption.  Jesus did not go to gehenna or hell as the place of punishment.

The concept of Hell or Gehenna, as suggested earlier, was prominent in Jesus’ teaching during his personal ministry.  For example, in Matthew 13:36-43 Jesus explains to his disciples the meaning of the Parable of the Tares.  The gospel as the seed of the kingdom or church is sown in the world (field, verse 38).  The Devil or adversary sows the tares in the world.  The good seed are the children of the church or kingdom.  The tares are the children or disciples of the wicked one.  The servants of Christ are not to remove the tares from the field or world but let them continue until the harvest or the end of the world.  At that time the angels of Christ will gather all things that offend and do iniquity.  They shall be gathered and burned in the fire (verse 42) where there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.  "Who hath ears to hear, let him hear”

Dale I. Royal, Elk City OK (