Home > Book of Revelation, Gehenna, Heavenly Jerusalem, Promised land > Gehenna applies to the church, not the world

Gehenna applies to the church, not the world

April 3, 2011

Revelation 12:16 says the earth that opens her mouth, and swallows up the flood that the serpent casts out of his mouth, to carry away the woman, who represents the church. The word earth in the Greek is Ge, which can also mean land. I suggest that the land that swallows up the flood from the serpent’s mouth, a flood of false doctrine and flawed interpretations, alludes to the promised land, which in the new covenant, is called a better country, that is, an heavenly one. [Hebrews 11:16] It represents promises of spiritual things, and the eternal inheritance of the saints.

The valley of Gehenna, located in the promised land, is part of the earth that opens her mouth, and swallows up the serpent’s flood in Revelation 12:16; this flood is a flood of misinformation; it includes flawed translations of some parts of scripture. The NIV translators changed the word Gehenna that Jesus used, to hell. But Gehenna is a specific geographical place name, and refers to a particular valley on the south west of Jerusalem, outside the wall.

Revelation 12:13-16
And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.
And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.
And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.
And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.

In a book review, Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, quoted from Rob Bell’s book Love Wins as follows:

A staggering number of people have been taught that a select few Christians will spend forever in a peaceful, joyous place called heaven, while the rest of humanity spends forever in torment and punishment in hell with no chance for anything better. It’s been clearly communicated to many that this belief is a central truth of the Christian faith and to reject it is, in essence, to reject Jesus. This is misguided and toxic and ultimately subverts the contagious spread of Jesus’ message of love, peace, forgiveness, and joy that our world desperately needs to hear.

Mohler commented:

That is a huge statement, and it is clear enough. Rob Bell believes that the doctrine of the eternal punishment of unrepentant sinners in hell is keeping people from coming to Jesus. That is an unsettling thought, but on closer look, it falls in upon itself. In the first place, Jesus spoke very clearly about hell, using language that can only be described as explicit. He warned of “him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” [Matthew 10:28]

But Dr. Mohler misquotes, as Jesus said Gehenna, not hell. His use of the word Gehenna limits the application of his warning to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

Paul identified the saints as the circumcision, [Philippians 3:3] and those who are Jews inwardly. [Romans 2:29] The are the heavenly Jerusalem, which is the Jerusalem of prophecy. [Galatians 4:26]

The use of the word Gehenna in the New Testament is prophetic in nature. That is, it is a metaphor, that relates to the heavenly city, rather than the earthly Jerusalem. Just as in the earthly city, where it represented a place of shame, and of things discarded from the holy city, in the New Testament Gehenna represents the fate of those who are cast out as unfit for the kingdom of God.

The warnings given by Jesus about Gehenna relate to the holy city, the saints, and to those who have heard the gospel. They do not apply to the world, as one has to be in the holy city to be cast out of it. This is why it is wrong to equate Gehenna with “hell” or “Hades” or “the lake of fire.”

The following examples illustrate that the references to Gehenna cannot be applied to the world.

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.

The final words in the above verse should be, instead of “hell fire,” “Gehenna of fire.”

It refers to one who is a “brother.” So it applies to Christians and their treatment of fellow saints. And there is not a great deal of difference between the various offenses; being angry, saying “Raca,” and saying “you fool!”

Are we to suppose, that the latter of these, dooms a person to unending infernal torment, while being angry, or saying “Raca,” whatever that means, only carries the threat of being brought before a council, presumably of church elders?

What hogwash!

Matthew 5:29-30
And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

Again, “hell” should be “Gehenna” in both verses. Matthew 18:9, and Mark 9:43, 45, 47 are similar.

Does failing to pluck out your eye, or to cut off your right hand, if they offend somehow, bring the doom of unending infernal torment?

Who in the last thousand years has actually plucked out their eye or cut off their hand, because of these warnings?

They apply to Christians, not those who have not been called in this age. The “eye” is one’s spiritual light. An “eye” that offends is one that is unable to discern truth.

Luke 11:34
The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness.

Acts 26:17-18
Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee,
To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.

The “eye” might be the doctrine of hyper-preterism, in the case of some. Their “light” comes from the writings of Josephus, and from people like Philip S. Desprez, who recanted; they ‘devour’ his vomit. Failing to overcome such delusions may result in the judgment of Gehenna; that is, being disqualified from the kingdom. Similarly, others may need to overcome their obsession with one of several varieties of dispensationalism. These examples show the nature of the warnings Jesus gave about Gehenna, and one can see in each case above, they must apply to the church, not the world.