"Hell is just a metaphor for the grave."
There are three words translated
"hell" in Scripture:
Gehenna (Greek): The place of punishment (Matthew 5:22,29; 10:28; and James 3:6)
Hades (Greek): The abode of the dead (Matthew 11:23; 16:18, Luke 16:23; Acts 2:27)
Sheol (Hebrew): The grave (Psalm 9:17; 16:10)
There are those who accept that hell is a place of punishment, but believe that the punishment is to be annihilated—to cease conscious existence. They can’t conceive that the punishment of the wicked will be conscious and eternal. If they are correct, then a man like Adolph Hitler, who was responsible for the deaths of millions, is being "punished" merely with eternal sleep. His fate is simply to return to the non-existent state he was in before he was born, where he doesn’t even know that he is being punished.
However, Scripture paints a different story. The rich man who found himself in hell (Luke 16:19–31) was conscious. He was able to feel pain, to thirst, and to experience remorse. He wasn’t asleep in the grave; he was in a place of "torment." If hell is a place of knowing nothing or a reference to the grave into which we go at death, Jesus' statements about hell make no sense. He said that if your hand, foot, or eye causes you to sin, it would be better to remove it than to "go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: where their worm dies not, and the fire is not quenched" (Mark 9:43–48).
The Bible refers to the fate of the unsaved with such fearful words as the following:
Revelation 14:10,11 tells us the final, eternal destiny of the sinner: "He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone...the smoke of their torment ascended up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day or night."
Good Messengers Ministries of Northwest Indiana (www.gotourtract.com) seeks to provide Biblically based answers to the many questions that we receive from honest seekers of truth. We provide Bible verses that relate to all questions. Those that are not directly addressed in the Bible, are answered according to the principles in the Word of God that relate to that subject. Many of the Question & Answers comes from the Evidence Bible (www.livingwaters.com) The real teacher is the Holy Spirit so we trust Him to help you understand His Word as we point you to the Bible for the answers to your questions. If your question is not listed or you need a more detailed answer, please contact us.