Why JW's don't believe in the Hell

Hiya Pork, I thought this should be a new thread so as not to derail the other one.

I will use scriptures from the Douay Bible to defend the JW view. It’s one of those issues that we really won’t be able to reach concensus on.
Please note a) JW’s believe ‘hell’ means the grave, a place of death and inactivity, b) JW’s do not believe in an immortal soul, we believe souls can die.

Reason 1 - The Penalty is Death, not everlasting life (in torment):

  1. Gen 3:3 “But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of paradise, God hath commanded us that we should not eat; and that we should not touch it, lest perhaps we die.” Here it says Adam and Eve would die. It does not say they would live, albeit in torture. They knew what death meant as they had seen it with the animals - it meant ‘not living’.

  2. Gen 3:4 “And the serpent said to the woman: No, you shall not die the death.” The first recorded lie. We feel this is still perpetuated today.

  3. Eze 18:4 “Behold all souls are mine: as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, the same shall die.” This does not describe eternal existence in misery, but death.

  4. Rom 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death. But the grace of God, life everlasting in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Same again, but from the Greek scriptures.

  5. Jas 1:15 “Then, when concupiscence hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin. But sin, when it is completed, begetteth death.” Consistently the Bible says ‘Death’, not ‘Torment’.

  • I’ll stop here as there are too many others to keep adding which are just the same.

Reason 2 - Death means Destruction:

  1. Psa 145:20 “The Lord keepeth all them that love him; but all the wicked he will destroy.” The punishment from God is not immortal woe, but destruction.

  2. 2Th 1:9 “Who shall suffer eternal punishment in destruction, from the face of the Lord and from the glory of his power:” The eternal punishment is destruction - everlasting destruction.

  3. Rom 9:22 “What if God, willing to shew his wrath and to make his power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath, fitted for destruction,” When something is destroyed, what is left over? - Nothing is left over.

  4. Mat 7:13 “Enter ye in at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there are who go in thereat.” One of the most famous sermons. It talks about being destroyed.

  5. Mat 10:28 "And fear ye not them that kill the body, and are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him that can destroy both soul and body in hell. " What happens in hell according to this?

  • I’ll stop here as well, as I could just keep adding to this list.

Reason 3 - Death involves nothingness, ie not being able to see, hear, or be tortured:

  1. Ecc 9:10 “Whatsoever thy hand is able to do, do it earnestly: for neither work, nor reason, nor wisdom, nor knowledge shall be in hell, whither thou art hastening.” Nothing happens in hell.

  2. Ecc 9:5 “For the living know that they shall die, but the dead know nothing more”. Those dead are not capable of anything.

  3. Psa 146:4 “His spirit shall go forth, and he shall return into his earth: in that day all their thoughts shall perish.” If you cannot think you are dead / nothing.

  4. 1Sa 2:9 “He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness;”. Nothing to hear, nothing to see.

Reason 4 - Good people go to Hell:

  1. Gen 37:35 “And all his children being gathered together to comfort their father in his sorrow, he would not receive comfort, but said: I will go down to my son into hell, mourning.” Jacob thought his innocent son was in hell. He thought he would go to hell. This only makes sense if he thought hell was ‘the grave’ and not a place of punishment.

  2. Job 14:13 “Who will grant me this, that thou mayst protect me in hell, and hide me till thy wrath pass, and appoint me a time when thou wilt remember me?” Righteous Job wanted to die to end his suffering, not to prolong it.

  3. Act 2:31 “Foreseeing this, he spoke of the resurrection of Christ. For neither was he left in hell: neither did his flesh see corruption.” Christ himself spent three days in hell - the Sign of Jonah.

Explaining ‘Hell fire’:

  1. Mat 5:22 And whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

Mar 9:45 (9:44) And if thy foot scandalize thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter lame into life everlasting than having two feet to be cast into the hell of unquenchable fire:

Mar 9:47 (9:46) And if thy eye scandalize thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee with one eye to enter into the kingdom of God than having two eyes to be cast into the hell of fire:

Jas 3:6 The tongue is placed among our members, which defileth the whole body and inflameth the wheel of our nativity, being set on fire by hell.

All of these verses derive their terminology from the greek ‘Gehenna’. This was a rubbish tip outside Jerusalem which was kept burning to get rid of the city’s rubbish. They did not throw anything into Gehenna alive. It is a fitting symbol of complete destruction, in line with the rest of the Bible. We know it must be symbolic from the final scripture…

Rev_20:14 “And hell and death were cast into the pool of fire. This is the second death.” Can hell be thrown into itself? Can death be burned? This means that death and the grave will be done away with. Please note that JW’s believe resurrection is possible from the grave (hell), but not from the ‘pool of fire’.

Porknpie, this of course is not everything but a sample. I have not covered the rich man and Lazarus, or Tartarus, for example.
When we look at it all together JW’s draw the conclusion that hell means the grave (which is why we are cast ‘down’ into it), and not a place of unending torment.

Sorry it was so long but it was a big question!

Redie - thank you for responding. I asked a big question and you responded accordingly…an appropriate “Catholic Answer” is expected as well, both to your understanding of scripture quoted and the Catholic understanding. This Catholic understanding includes the Orthodox and Protestant reformers. I am out of town today picking up a daughter from college. I’ll try responding tonight, if not tomorrow. Until then I trust my fellow Catholics will respond in my place. I look forward to reading everyone’s post(s) when I return. Below is a catholic.com magazine article on the subject that you might find interesting.




Hell is eternal, and involves fire. The pool of fire is where the devil and his angels are going to end up.

If Hell is such a non-existent state, why do you think demons scream when they’re exorcised? Because they know where they’re going. The holiday is over.

I also find the selective aversion of the parable of the rich man and Lazarus to be somewhat dishonest, as it very clearly indicates the rich man’s state is eternal - in terrible torment, and he can’t get out of it, and no one from heaven can go to his aid.

Sorry, but the JW’s are wrong.

Here’s the revelation from Mary at Fatima in 1917, which involved two miracles incidentally - the dancing sun witnessed by 70,000 people, and the sudden drying of ground and clothes after days of rain, which scientists have apparently calculated would have required the same energy as that of a several megaton nuclear bomb.

At Fatima, the Blessed Virgin Mary told the three child seers that many souls go to hell because they have no one to pray or make sacrifices for them. In her Memoirs, Sister Lucy describes the vision of hell that Our Lady showed the children at Fatima:

“She opened Her hands once more, as She had done the two previous months. The rays [of light] appeared to penetrate the earth, and we saw, as it were, a vast sea of fire. Plunged in this fire, we saw the demons and the souls [of the damned]. The latter were like transparent burning embers, all blackened or burnished bronze, having human forms. They were floating about in that conflagration, now raised into the air by the flames which issued from within themselves, together with great clouds of smoke. Now they fell back on every side like sparks in huge fires, without weight or equilibrium, amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fright (it must have been this sight which caused me to cry out, as people say they heard me). The demons were distinguished [from the souls of the damned] by their terrifying and repellent likeness to frightful and unknown animals, black and transparent like burning coals. That vision only lasted for a moment, thanks to our good Heavenly Mother, Who at the first apparition had promised to take us to Heaven. Without that, I think that we would have died of terror and fear.”

1St.Peter4;6 For to this end the gospel was preached even to the dead.
This puts an end to the beleif that the dead are nothingness. If the dead were nothing they could not hear the gospel let alone be judged by it.

Dead in sins yet

St Matthew 12:50 and will cast them into the furnace of fire, where ther will be weeping and gashing of teeth. sure sound like Jesus himself disagrees that it is utter nothingness.

I’m really not trying to be dishonest, I just ran out of text permitted in a post. I specifically mentioned it as I didn’t want to ‘hide’ it from consideration. Anyway, here is the JW undertanding which is in harmonious thought with the previously quoted verses.

Lu 16 has this parable. It’s good to note that this is a parable, and not an historical event.

Did the rich man lead a degraded life? It seemed he did not have compassion, that is for sure.
Was the beggar an especially compassionate man? Would he have acted different if he was in the rich man’s shoes? We are not told that this is so.

Do we conclude from this that all sickly beggars will find automatic divine favour while all those who enjoy good things during their lifetime deserve torment? That is not the point of the parable.

Jesus was talking to the Pharisees when he used this illustration, and the Pharisees were known for looking down on lowly ones, on one occasion calling them accursed.

Since these are symbolic characters with symbolic lives, so too are their deaths symbolic.

What is the context: Jesus had just explained to the Pharisees (in vs 16) that “The law and the prophets were until John”, and it is with the preaching of John and Jesus that the circumstances of the rich man and lazarus change. Their previous way of Judaistic life would come to an end.

The humble Lazarus class die to their former spiritually deprived condition and come into a position of divine favour. Whereas they had earlier looked to the religious leaders for what little dropped from the spiritual table, now the Scriptural truths imparted by Jesus are filling their needs. They are thus brought into the bosom, or favored position, of ‘Abraham’.

On the other hand, those who make up the rich-man group come under divine disfavour because of persistently refusing to accept the Kingdom message taught by Jesus. They thereby die to their former position of seeming favour.

The reversal of roles is stark. Where once the beggar sought a crumb from the rich man, now the rich man seeks a drop from the beggar.

The chasm between the old laws and the new laws is vast, but the situation is not hopeless for the Jewish nation. Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ All they have to do is heed the writings of Moses and the Prophets that identify Jesus as the Messiah and then become his disciples.

But the rich man objects: “No, father Abraham: but if one went to them from the dead, they will do penance.” However, he is told: “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they believe, if one rise again from the dead." Indicating that if they did not believe the scriptures then they would not believe the risen Christ.

Wow. I’ll now put on my hardhat and await the bricks and bats!

When I started this thread it was to explain the JW belief to someone who asked about it. I don’t anticipate I’ll have time to respond to every objection, though I’ll try to deal with some.


Eph 2:1 And you, when you were dead in your offences and sins,
Eph 2:2 Wherein in time past you walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of this air, of the spirit that now worketh on the children of unbelief:

Could Paul be describing those who were spiritually dead?
Look at the preceding verses.

The Living:
1Pe 4:1 Christ therefore having suffered in the flesh, be you also armed with the same thought: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sins.

The Dead:
1Pe 4:3 For the time past is sufficient to have fulfilled the will of the Gentiles, for them who have walked in riotousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings and unlawful worshipping of idols.

The Summary:
1Pe 4:5 … him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.

Your quoted verse:
1Pe 4:6 For, for this cause was the gospel preached also to the dead: That they might be judged indeed according to men, in the flesh: but may live according to God, in the Spirit.

This reminds me of Mat 18:9 And if thy eye scandalize thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee. It is better for thee having one eye to enter into life, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.

This parallel description uses the root word Gehenna, and helps shed a little more light on what Jesus was saying in Mt 13:50 which you quote.
As to why they are weeping and gnashing their teeth at this point, I can’t know for a certainty and won’t try to speculate. But from what I’ve posted earlier, it just doesn’t fit with the rest of the Bible to assume it is literal.

If Hell is eternal, how is it that some come back out from Hell, and how comes Hell gets cast into the pool of fire?


I refer you to verse 26. specifically

or from thence come hither.

Jesus is clearly relating the aboslute natur

[bibledrb]Luke 16:19-31[/bibledrb]

What do you mean some come back out of Hell? The only place I’ve ever seen that is in movies.

I also do not get what you’re asking about with the second half of that sentence. Hell is the pool of fire…

The Primary reason is simply because Jehovah’s Witnesses are “Adventists”, they are just not “Seventh Day”, Adventists…
…And all Adventists reject a literal hell or the soul existing apart from the body.
…This idea came from George Storrs and “Incarnation of Elijah”.

These two individuals approached William Miller after the 2nd disapointment of Jesus not showing up at a definite time…
…And convinced Miller that the reason was because the schema was tied to an ancient form of calendation no longer practiced by Jews.
…When Jesus didn’t show up as per George Storrs and Incarnation of Elijah’s schema.

The Seventh Day Adventists claimed that the time was right but that the event was wrong…
…Instead of Jesus coming literally to earth Ellen White claimed Jesus moved from one section of the temple in heaven to another.
…And began to splatter His blood in the most holy place.

The JW’s opted to go with the idea that Father God annihilated or vaporized creature christ’s body and resurrected a spirit creature…
…At the point of the resurrection.

In the end you can track both ideas back to George Storrs and Incarnation of Elijah.

So on this point, you are more in line with Judaism in saying that the soul of a truly evil person, who cannot be rehabilitated by means of Purgatory, may be destroyed?

I’m very impressed by your knowledge Python, well done!

Hmm, sort of. Let me explain.
JW’s don’t believe the soul is seperate from the person.
To us, ‘soul’ = ‘breather’, so if you are alive and breathing, like the animals, you ARE a soul (not HAVE a soul).
So when you die and stop breathing you are no longer a soul, you are just a body.

See this creation account:
Gen 2:7 “And the Lord God formed man of the slime of the earth: and breathed into his face the breath of life, and man became a living soul.”

Adam had life breathed into him and ‘became’ a living soul. He did not ‘receive’ a living a soul. This means that when you die, you, the person, being the soul, dies.

On a seperate note, purgatory is entirely foreign to JW’s.

Hope that helps a bit.

Yeah, I like a bit of Hollywood as well!
I was thinking about these:

Rev 20:13 And the sea gave up the dead that were in it: and death and hell gave up their dead that were in them. And they were judged, every one according to their works.

Job 14:13 “Who will grant me this, that thou mayst protect me in hell, and hide me till thy wrath pass, and appoint me a time when thou wilt remember me?”

Act 2:31 “Foreseeing this, he spoke of the resurrection of Christ. For neither was he left in hell: neither did his flesh see corruption.”

I said “Hell gets cast into the pool of fire” and took that from here:
Rev 20:14 "And hell and death were cast into the pool of fire.


This is referring to the final judgement, when all the dead shall receive their final physical forms and be judge according to their lives. This relates to the New Kingdom on Earth that will occur after the second coming, where all will be given new and everlasting bodies. The damned will continue to suffer eternal torment, both physical and spiritual, and the saved will experience eternal joy, both physical and spiritual. (Admittedly, this is an area of the faith I haven’t studied all that much, so to all the Catholics reading this; if I am mistaken in my understanding, please let me know!)


From: Name and Place of Hell

The Latin infernus (inferum, inferi), the Greek Hades, and the Hebrew sheol correspond to the word hell. Infernus is derived from the root in; hence it designates hell as a place within and below the earth. Haides, formed from the root fid, to see, and a privative, denotes an invisible, hidden, and dark place; thus it is similar to the term hell. The derivation of sheol is doubtful. It is generally supposed to come from the Hebrew root meaning, “to be sunk in, to be hollow”; accordingly it denotes a cave or a place under the earth. In the Old Testament (Septuagint hades; Vulgate infernus) sheol is used quite in general to designate the kingdom of the dead, of the good (Genesis 37:35) as well as of the bad (Numbers 16:30); it means hell in the strict sense of the term, as well as the limbo of the Fathers. But, as the limbo of the Fathers ended at the time of Christ’s Ascension, hades (Vulgate infernus) in the New Testament always designates the hell of the damned

Sheol, or Hell, in the old testament, references the place where all souls go to await the coming of Christ. In the parable of the Rich man you referenced earlier, it is made quite clear that this space is divided between those that are damned and those that are saved, but still have to wait for the Messiah. Job is asking that he be spared the pains of eternal damnation, and be admitted to Abraham’s Bosom so as to escape the torment he is suffering on Earth.


It is absolutely necessary that you look at all verses in context. It is incredibly easy to take a single verse out of context and derive a completely faulty understanding from it.

In context, it is quite clear that this is referencing David who, as with your last example, went to Sheol, Hell, and into Abraham’s Bosom to await Christ.

I said “Hell gets cast into the pool of fire” and took that from here:
Rev 20:14 "And hell and death were cast into the pool of fire.

In this instance, hell is lower case, meaning that it is not referncing the place, but rather the occupants; in this instance, “hell” is the sum total of those who have been cast into Hell.

It’s like saying “The theater is rowdy.” You do not mean the place itself, but rather the people who occupy it.

I hope this helps!

(P.S. I just figured out how to use the Bible quote tool, this makes me happy inside ^^)

Thank you for such a detailed reply - I appreciate you taking the time to compose and post it.

I have two questions on what you have written.

29 Ye men, brethren, let me freely speak to you of the patriarch David; that he died, and was buried; and his sepulchre is with us to this present day.
30 Whereas therefore he was a prophet, and knew that God hath sworn to him with an oath, that of the fruit of his loins one should sit upon his throne.
31 Foreseeing this, he spoke of the resurrection of Christ. For neither was he left in hell, neither did his flesh see corruption.
32 This Jesus hath God raised again, whereof all we are witnesses.

I would be most suprised if your comment was the official RC teaching, as this is quite apparently speaking about Christ, the fruit of David’s loins.
We know that for a certainty because it says “neither did his flesh see corruption” which is true of Christ, but not of David.

Rev 20:13 And the sea gave up the dead that were in it: and death and hell gave up their dead that were in them. And they were judged, every one according to their works.
Rev 20:14 And hell and death were cast into the pool of fire. This is the second death.

In the Greek language it just uses the word “hades”.
This is the same hades as used throughout the rest of the scriptures. There are not two different hades, although I see why this construct would be needed to make sense of the verse in the way you describe.

Again, I’m genuinely grateful for your insight - I feel I’m learning much in being here.

1Pe 3:19 In which also coming he preached to those spirits that were in prison:
1Pe 3:20 Which had been some time incredulous, when they waited for the patience of God in the days of Noe, when the ark was a building: wherein a few, that is, eight souls, were saved by water.

The spirits he preached to here were not dead, they were the imprisoned demons which took on bodily form to be with the women, prior to the flood:
Jud 1:6 And the angels who kept not their principality but forsook their own habitation, he hath reserved under darkness in everlasting chains, unto the judgment of the great day.

I really wish I had all the answers. I know that I do not :frowning:

Not true. Gehenna (Hades in Greek) is the Hebrew word for what we know as “hell”. Sheol was the abode of dead who awaited Christ’s coming. Those in Sheol were not condemned to eternal punishment. They simply could not enter heaven because the gates of heaven had not yet been opened by Christ. Christ visited them there after his death and before the resurrection and freed them to enter heaven. Those that were in Gehenna, however, remain there for eternity.

There is a lot material on this subject. We must use the meaning that was understood by those who wrote it. That would be the Hebrew meaning.

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