“Does God Really Condemn People to Burn in Hell?”
“Are you taking a theology class?”
This question took Joel and Carl by surprise. The two young men—volunteers serving at the headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Brooklyn, New York—were browsing in a nearby bookstore. As Joel examined Bible concordances, Carl related to him a discussion he had enjoyed in the ministry. Having overheard parts of this conversation, a man standing nearby was prompted to approach them.
The man, however, had a more personal concern than whether the two young men were taking a theology class. He explained: “I am Jewish, and some of my Christian friends have told me that I will burn in hell because the Jews rejected Jesus. This is very troubling to me. Such a punishment coming from a loving God does not seem just. Does God really condemn people to burn in hell?”
Joel and Carl told this sincere man that they were serious students of the Bible. They showed him from the Scriptures that the dead are unconscious and are simply asleep in death awaiting a resurrection. Hence, they experience no torment or painful hellfire. (Psalm 146:3, 4; Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10; Daniel 12:13; John 11:11-14, 23-26) At the end of their 45-minute conversation, the man gave his address to Joel and Carl and requested more information on the subject.
If hell were a place of fiery torment, would anyone ever ask to be sent there? Yet, the patriarch Job, wishing to escape his plight, made this request: “Who will grant me this, that thou mayest protect me in hell, and hide me till thy wrath pass?” (Job 14:13, Douay Version) Clearly, Job did not believe that hell is a place of torment. Rather, he sought protection there. Death is a state of nonexistence, and the Bible hell is the common grave of mankind.
If you would like further information about what happens to us when we die and what hope there may be thereafter, you are warmly invited to respond to the following offer.