The following is a critique of a portion of an article published by Christian Courier, which discusses gehenna.
The following is a critique of Bishop N.T. Wright’s interpretation of the significance of Gehenna. His views on it are quoted from his book: N.T. Wright, Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church. HarperOne, 2008. p. 175-178.
In most popular English translations, the word Gehenna in Matthew 5:29, 30, and elsewhere in the New Testament is translated hell. However, this is improper, as indicated by the way Gehenna is handled in other languages. In translations of this verse, the word is often left untranslated. Since Gehenna is the name of a specific valley near Jerusalem, leaving it untranslated is obviously more correct. The table below presents the translations of Matthew 5:29 in various languages, where the word Gehenna was left untranslated.
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.
The city of Jerusalem is one of the most prominent of all places mentioned in scripture, and in the New Testament, Jerusalem is the name of the church, and its location is heaven, not upon the earth. The various locations and landforms associated with the promised land are the setting for the revelations of God in scripture. These revelations include the gospel, and the promise and hope of the future resurrection.
Isaiah 22 is titled “The burden of the valley of vision.” A curious feature of this chapter is that while it is a prophecy about the valley of vision, it describes the desolation of Jerusalem, which naturally leads us to wonder what might the significance of a “valley” might be. Why is it called “the valley of vision“? Most commentators agree that the prophecy in this chapter is about Jerusalem. In Isaiah 2:1-3, the prophet identifies Jerusalem, and the hill of Zion, with “the mountain of the Lord’s house,” which he says will be established in the tops of the mountains. Paradoxically, in chapter 22 he refers to Jerusalem as a valley. How can it be both a valley, and a mountain?
Interpretations of Gehenna that appeal to events of 70 AD miss the significance of the prophecies of Jeremiah about the future of the valley of Hinnom, which say that it will become “holy unto the Lord.” This is easily understood, when Jesus’ references to Gehenna are seen in the context of a judgment, which those who are accounted unworthy to enter the kingdom of heaven and the holy city must endure.