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Does the Bible speak more about Hell than Heaven?

I’ve heard and read the same statement a number of times, but have never troubled myself to look up each passage.

I’m not surprised that looking up “heaven” and “hell” in a concordance would give you contradictory results. This is probably due to the fact that what we refer to as “heaven” and “hell” is often spoken of in different terms in the Bible (for example, in Luke 16, Lazarus is said to have gone to “Abraham’s bosom - 16:22). In John 14:2 Jesus speaks of “His Father’s house,” which we would call “heaven.” The same is true for “hell.” There are terms like “the kingdom of heaven” in Matthew which occur frequently, and change the statistics considerably.

Another factor is that the statement, “Jesus talked more about hell than about heaven,” probably refers to the total number of verses devoted to the subject, and not just the number of references to the words “hell” or “heaven.”

It may be worth noting that in Deuteronomy 28 (and following), the blessing section (28:1-14) is a great deal shorter than the cursing section (28:15-68).

You may wish to read the lessons I have done on heaven and hell on the BSF Website:

A Hell to Shun

A Heaven to Seek

Below, I’ve attached the references to “heaven, heavens” and “hell” from the Nave’s topical Bible for your investigation:

Heavens

God’s Dwelling Place (De 26:15 1Ki 8:30,39,43,49 1Ch 16:31 21:26 2Ch 2:6 6:18,21,27,30,33,35,39 30:27 Ne 9:27 Job 22:12,14 Ps 2:4 11:4 20:6 33:13 102:19 103:19 113:5 123:1 135:6 Ec 5:2 Isa 57:15 63:15 66:1 Jer 23:24 La 3:41,50 Da 4:35 5:23 Zec 2:13 Mt 5:34,45 6:9 10:32,33 11:25 12:50 16:17 18:10,14 Mr 11:25,26 16:19 Ac 7:49 Ro 1:18 Heb 8:1 Re 8:1 12:7-9 21:22-27 22:1-5)

The Future Dwelling Place of the Righteous

Called: a Garner (Mt 3:12), The Kingdom of Christ and of God (Eph 5:5), The Father’s House (Joh 14:2), A Heavenly Country (Heb 11:16), A Rest (Heb 4:9 Re 14:13), Paradise (2Co 12:2,4)

The wicked excluded from (Ga 5:21 Eph 5:5 Re 22:15)

Heavens, New Heavens

(Isa 65:17 66:22 2Pe 3:13 Re 21:1-4)

Hell

(In the A. V. this word occurs in O. T. Scriptures, cited below, and is the translation of the Hebrew word “sheol,” which signifies the unseen state)

In the R. V. of O. T. it appears only in (Isa 5:14 14:9,15 28:15,18 57:9 Eze 31:16,17 32:21,27 Am 9:2 Jon 2:2 Hab 2:5)

In the R. V., “sheol” is translated “lowest pit” (De 32:22 Ps 86:13)

And it is translated “pit” in (Ps 55:15)

In the R. V. the word “Sheol” itself occurs in the following scriptures (2Sa 22:6 Job 11:8 26:6 Ps 9:17 16:10 18:5 116:3 139:8 Pr 5:5 7:27 9:18 15:11,24 23:14 27:20)

“Sheol” is translated “grave” in A. V. in (Ge 37:35 42:38 44:29,31 1Sa 2:6 1Ki 2:6 9:1 ... Job 7:9 14:13 17:13 21:13 24:19 Ps 6:5 30:3 31:17 49:14,15 88:3 89:48 141:7 Pr 1:12 30:16 Ec 9:10 So 8:6 Ho 13:14)

In the R. V. the Greek word “gehenna” is translated “hell” in the following scriptures (Mt 5:22,29,30 10:28 18:9 23:15,33 Mr 9:43,45,47 Lu 12:5 Jas 3:6)

The R. V. has introduced “Hades,” the word found in the Greek text, which signifies the unseen world, in the following scriptures (Mt 11:23 16:18 Lu 10:15 16:23 Ac 2:27,31 Re 1:18 6:8 20:13,14)

The New Bible Dictionary has (in part) these words about heaven (note especially the statement that heaven is sometimes used as a synonym for God):

Heaven is the abode of God, and of those closely associated with him. The Israelite is to pray, ‘Look down from thy holy habitation, from heaven’ (Dt. 26:15). God is ‘the God of heaven’ (Jon. 1:9), or ‘the Lord, the God of heaven’ (Ezr. 1:2), or the ‘Father who is in heaven’ (Mt. 5:45; 7:21, etc.). God is not alone there, for we read of ‘the host of heaven’ which worships him (Ne. 9:6), and of ‘the angels in heaven’ (Mk. 13:32). Believers also may look forward to ‘an inheritance kept in heaven’ for them (1 Pet. 1:4). Heaven is thus the present abode of God and his angels, and the ultimate destination of his saints on earth.

Among many ancient peoples there was the thought of a multiplicity of heavens. It has been suggested that the NT bears witness to the rabbinic idea of seven heavens, for there are references to Paradise (Lk. 23:43), and to ‘the third heaven’ (2 Cor. 12:2; this was called Paradise on the rabbinic reckoning, cf. 2 Cor. 12:3). Jesus also is said to have passed ‘through the heavens’ (Heb. 4:14). These, however, are slender bases on which to erect such a structure. All the NT language is perfectly capable of being understood along the lines of heaven as the place of perfection. Heaven comes to be used as a reverent periphrasis for God. Thus when the prodigal says ‘I have sinned against heaven’ (Lk. 15:18, 21), he means ‘I have sinned against God’. So with Jn. 3:27, ‘what is given him from heaven’. The most important example of this is Matthew’s use of the expression ‘the kingdom of heaven’, which seems to be identical with ‘the kingdom of God’. Finally, we must notice an eschatological use of the term. In both OT and NT it is recognized that the present physical universe is not eternal, but will vanish away and be replaced by ‘new heavens and a new earth’ (Is. 65:17; 66:22; 2 Pet. 3:10-13; Rev. 21:1). We should understand such passages as indicating that the final condition of things will be such as fully expresses the will of God.

BIBLIOGRAPHY. TDNT 5, pp. 497-543; NIDNTT 2, pp. 184-196; ZPEB, 3, pp. 60-64. L.M.

HELL. ‘Hell’ in the NT renders the Gk. word transliterated as ‘Gehenna’ (Mt. 5:22, 29-30; 10:28; 18:9; 23:15, 33; Mk. 9:43, 45, 47; Lk. 12:5; Jas. 3:6). The name is derived from the Heb. the Valley of (the son[s] of Hinnom, a valley near Jerusalem (Jos. 15:8; 18:16), where children were sacrificed by fire in connection with pagan rites (2 Ki. 23:10; 2 Ch. 28:3; 33:6; Je. 7:31; 32:35). Its original derivation is obscure, but Hinnom is almost certainly the name of a person. In later Jewish writings Gehenna came to mean the place of punishment for sinners (Assumption of Moses 10:10; 2 Esdras 7:36). It was depicted as a place of unquenchable fire-the general idea of fire to express the divine judgment is found in the OT (Dt. 32:22; Dn. 7:10). The rabbinic literature contains various opinions as to who would suffer eternal punishment. The ideas were widespread that the sufferings of some would be terminated by annihilation, or that the fires of Gehenna were in some cases purgatorial (Rosh Hashanah 16b-17a; 58b; Mishnah Eduyoth 2. 10). But those who held these doctrines also taught the reality of eternal punishment for certain classes of sinners. Both this literature and the Apocryphal books affirm belief in an eternal retribution (cf. Judith 16:17; Psalms of Solomon 3:13). The teaching of the NT endorses this past belief. The fire of hell is unquenchable (Mk. 9:43), eternal (Mt. 18:8), its punishment is the converse of eternal life (Mt. 25:46). There is no suggestion that those who enter hell ever emerge from it. However, the NT leaves the door open for the belief that while hell as a manifestation of God’s implacable wrath against sin is unending, the existence of those who suffer in it may not be. It is difficult to reconcile the ultimate fulfilment of the whole universe in Christ (Eph. 1:10; Col. 1:20) with the continued existence of those who reject him. Some scholars have contended that an eternal punishment is one which is eternal in its effects; in any case eternal does not necessarily mean never-ending, but implies ‘long duration extending to the writer’s mental horizon’ (J. A. Beet). On the other hand Rev. 20:10 does indicate conscious, never-ending torment for the devil and his agents, albeit in a highly symbolic passage, and some would affirm that a similar end awaits human beings who ultimately refuse to repent. In any case, nothing should be allowed to detract from the seriousness of our Lord’s warnings about the terrible reality of God’s judgment in the world to come. In Jas. 3:6 Gehenna, like the bottomless pit in Rev. 9:1ff.; 11:7, appears to be the source of evil on the earth. NT imagery concerning eternal punishment is not uniform. As well as fire it is described as darkness (Mt. 25:30; 2 Pet. 2:17), death (Rev. 2:11), destruction and exclusion from the presence of the Lord (2 Thes. 1:9; Mt. 7:21-23), and a debt to pay (Mt. 5:25-26). In 2 Pet. 2:4 only, we find the Verb translated in RSV ‘cast into hell’, and rendered by the Pesh. ‘cast down to the lower regions’. is the classical word for the place of eternal punishment but is here applied to the intermediate sphere of punishment for fallen angels.

BIBLIOGRAPHY. J. A. Beet, The Last Things, 1905; S. D. F. Salmond, The Christian Doctrine of Immortality, 1907; J. W. Wenham, The Goodness of God, 1974; H. Bietenhard, NIDNTT 2, pp. 205-210; J. Jeremias, TDNT 1, pp. 9f., 146-149, 657f.

    More information:

      Heaven.

      1. Created by God. Ge 1:1; Re 10:6.

      2. Everlasting. Ps 89:29; 2Co 5:1.

      3. Immeasurable. Jer 31:37.

      4. High. Ps 103:11; Isa 57:15.

      5. Holy. De 26:15; Ps 20:6; Isa 57:15.

      6. God’s dwelling-place. 1Ki 8:30; Mt 6:9.

      7. God’s throne. Isa 66:1; Ac 7:49.

      8. God

        a. Is the Lord of. Da 5:23; Mt 11:25.

        b. Reigns in. Ps 11:4; 135:6; Da 4:35.

        c. Fills. 1Ki 8:27; Jer 23:24.

        d. Answers his people from. 1Ch 21:26; 2Ch 7:14; Ne 9:27; Ps 20:6.

        e. Sends his judgments from. Ge 19:24; 1Sa 2:10; Da 4:13,14; Ro 1:18.

      9. Christ

        a. As Mediator, entered into. Ac 3:21; Heb 6:20; 9:12,24.

        b. Is all-powerful in. Mt 28:18; 1Pe 3:22.

      10. Angels are in. Mt 18:10; 24:36.

      11. Names of saints are written. Lu 10:20; Heb 12:23.

      12. Saints rewarded in. Mt 5:12; 1Pe 1:4.

      13. Repentance occasions joy in. Lu 15:7.

      14. Lay up treasure in. Mt 6:20; Lu 12:33.

      15. Flesh and blood cannot inherit. 1Co 15:50.

      16. Happiness of, described. Re 7:16,17.

      17. Is called

        a. A garner. Mt 3:12.

        b. The kingdom of Christ and of God. Eph 5:5.

        c. The Father’s house. Joh 14:2.

        d. A heavenly country. Heb 11:16.

        e. A rest. Heb 4:9.

        f. Paradise. 2Co 12:2,4.

      18. The wicked excluded from. Ga 5:21; Eph 5:5; Re 22:15.

      19. Enoch and Elijah were translated into. Ge 5:24; Heb 11:5; 2Ki 2:11.3

      Hell.

      1. The place of disembodied spirits. Ac 2:31.

        a. Which Christ visited. Lu 23:43; Ac 2:31; 1Pe 3:19.

        b. Contains, a place of rest, Abraham’s bosom. Lu 16:23.

        c. Paradise. Lu 23:43.

        d. And a place of torment. Lu 16:23.

      2. The place of future punishment

        a. Destruction from the presence of God. 2Th 1:9.

      3. Described as

        a. Everlasting punishment. Mt 25:46.

        b. Everlasting fire. Mt 25:41.

        c. Everlasting burnings. Isa 33:14.

        d. A furnace of fire. Mt 13:42,50.

        e. A lake of fire. Re 20:15.

        f. Fire and brimstone. Re 14:10.

        g. Unquenchable fire. Mt 3:12.

        h. Devouring fire. Isa 33:14.

      4. Prepared for the devil, &c. Mt 25:41.

      5. Devils are confined in, until the judgment day. 2Pe 2:4; Jude 1:6.

      6. Punishment of, is eternal. Isa 33:14; Re 20:10.

      7. The wicked shall be turned into. Ps 9:17.

      8. Human power cannot preserve from. Eze 32:27.

      9. The body suffers in. Mt 5:29; 10:28.

      10. The soul suffers in. Mt 10:28.

      11. The wise avoid. Pr 15:24.

      12. Endeavour to keep others from. Pr 23:14; Jude 1:23.

      13. The society of the wicked leads to. Pr 5:5; 9:18.

      14. The beast, false prophets, and the devil shall be cast into. Re 19:20; 20:10.

      15. The powers of, cannot prevail against the Church. Mt 16:18.

      16. Illustrated. Isa 30:33.

Related Topics: Hell, Heaven