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Is hell a literal place?

by Stephen Davey

Mary from South Carolina asked: Is hell a literal place?


The idea that people might be in hell is such a horrifying concept that some have tried to soften it with false views. When you read the gospels, you discover that Jesus probably preached more about hell than He did about heaven. He certainly wanted to deliver the warning that yes, hell is a literal place. 

Jesus described hell as a place of isolation in Matthew 22; a place of weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth in Luke 13; a place where the devouring worm never dies in Mark 9; a place of fire that never burns away in Matthew 5; and a place of tormenting, thirst, and guilt and regret in Luke 16. 

Some people claim that these descriptions of hell are just figures of speech. But using figures of speech to describe something doesn’t mean it’s not real. Jesus and the biblical authors used those terms to describe for us what hell is like. It’s so horrible that it cannot be fully described, but the descriptions we have give us insight into what it is like.

Hell is a literal place and those sent there are there for eternity. Jesus taught that both heaven and hell are real and eternal. Every human will spend eternity in one of two places. The eternal home of the believer is heaven. The eternal home of the unbeliever is hell.

Thanks for asking, Mary.


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Josh says:
I feel like your answer to “is hell a literal place” is (in short) “yes, hell is real” but the question isn’t “is hell real” it’s “is hell a literal place“. “A literal place” implies it occupies physical space. I’ve always understood hell to be an ethereal plain, therefore not occupying physical space. If hell is a literal place then is the soul a physical thing, quantifiable, like with its own mass? Because that’s not what I was taught. Please clarify. Thanks. God bless ✌️ Josh