Is Gehenna the same as the lake of fire?
Arthur W. Pink compared Gehenna with the lake of fire in Revelation 20 in his article on Eternal Punishment. He thought these two things were identical. But Pink may have been mistaken about this, as he was about the doctrine of dispensationalism. He eventually realized dispensationalism was false, and wrote a series of articles against that theory, which he previously supported.
In his discussion of Gehenna, Pink compared things said of it with the information that is provided about the lake of fire. His comparison is summarized below.
|Gehenna||Lake of fire|
|“Gehenna” is the Grecianized form of the Hebrew for “valley of Hinnom,” which was a deep gorge on the east of Jerusalem.||It is the place which finally receives the Beast and the False Prophet: Revelation 19:20.|
|The valley of Hinnom foreshadowed the great garbage-receptacle of the universe–Hell.||It is the place which finally receives the Devil: Revelation 20:10.|
|Jesus used the valley of Hinnom as an emblem of Hell. Pink says: “It should be carefully noted that when speaking of Gehenna He never referred to the mere literal valley outside of Jerusalem, but employed it to designate the place of eternal torments.”||It is the place which finally receives all whose names are not found written in the book of life: Revelation 20:15 and cf. 21:8.|
|Gehenna, in its New Testament usage, refers to a place. (Matt. 5:29; Matt. 18:9).||It is a place of “torment;” Revelation 20:10.|
|The fire of Gehenna is eternal. (Mark 9:43, 44).||It is a place whose torment is ceaseless and interminable, “day and night for ever and ever:” Revelation 20:10 and cf. 14:11.|
|Gehenna is the place in which both soul and body are destroyed. (Matt. 19:28).||It is also termed “The Second Death:” Revelation 20:14; 21:8, etc.|
|Gehenna is identical with the Lake of Fire. (Matt. 10:28; Mark 9:43; Rev. 19:20; 20:14)||It has “no power” on the people of God: Revelation 20:6 and cf. 2:11.|
Below is a table in which some facts and scriptures about Gehenna are contrasted with scriptures about the lake of fire.
|Gehenna||Lake of fire|
|A short valley with a specific location in the land of promise, in the vicinity of Jerusalem.||A lake, not a valley; it is not located in the land of promise, and is not identified with any specific location.|
|The site of Tophet, where child sacrifices were offered to Molech. Doing such a thing had never entered God’s heart. [Jeremiah 7:31]||John the Baptist said that Jesus would baptize with the holy Spirit and with “fire.” [Matthew 3:11]|
|A judgment is associated with Gehenna. It is one of the ravines in Judah that are to be watered. [Joel 3:18]||John’s prophecy that there will be “no more sea” [Revelation 21:1] implies an end to the “lake of fire.”|
|The threat of Gehenna is to be excluded from the kingdom of God, represented by Jerusalem. It applies especially to believers, and those who hear the Gospel, and to the saints in the heavenly Jerusalem, not to the world. One has to be in Jerusalem to be cast out of it.||Those whose names are not written in the book of life, and the devil, the beast, and the false prophet, will be cast into a lake of fire, the judgment.
“And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” [Revelation 20:15]
|Jeremiah said Gehenna is to become holy to the Lord, and will be included within an expanded Jerusalem. [Jeremiah 31:40]||The knowledge of God will fill the earth. [Isaiah 11:9] It is like fire to those who do not know God.|
Gehenna is associated with Jerusalem, and Jesus referred to it as a judgment. Other valleys in prophecy represent the judgment of the nations. The point is, one must be in Jerusalem to be cast out of it. Unless one is associated with Jerusalem, which represents the kingdom of Christ, the threat of Gehenna has little meaning. It is not a threat to the heathen. Other prophecies apply instead. Gehenna is threatened to Christians, not the world.