Have you ever heard someone say:
“Jesus taught more about hell than heaven.”
Here in the southern United States, I hear it often. I have always wondered if it was true or not.
Did Jesus teach more about hell than Heaven? The implication by those who make this statement is: Jesus considered “hell” a more important topic than Heaven or the Kingdom of God.
But, let’s consider the truthfulness of the statement regarding the number of times Jesus taught on Heaven compared to “hell.”
Resources Used In My Research
Shouldn’t we be like the noble Christians from Berea who searched the scriptures to see if what Paul and Barnabas were telling them was true or not?
These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” Acts 17:11
I put the often-used statement to the test. In today’s world of the computer, it is fairly easy for anyone to determine if this assertion is true or not.
All that is needed are a few simple search tools to help with this topic or any topic in the Bible for that matter. Of course, you need a Bible. Bibles are plentiful in today’s world. They are in many different translations and paraphrases, not to mention the many different languages.
For this study, I stayed with the translation of King James and New King James, Translations are generally more accurate with the original languages and the precept being communicated from the writer.
If you want to do it the hard way, you can use paper Lexicons and exhaustive concordances
There are good exhaustive concordance, which contains every word of the Bible. They will be thick and intimidating until you learn how to use them. I prefer either Strong’s or Young’s Analytical Concordance. You could go to Christian Book store and purchase a copy. But, they can be expensive. A better choice is to find them and use them online for free! Anyway, the automation makes the process of research much easier. One of my favorite tools is called the
Think of how far we have come since the days of the reformers. Men like Martin Luther (part of the 15th and 16th century) were forced to go to a Latin Bible chained to a monastery wall to read God’s word! Those reformers who lived before and after Luther such as Jerome, Huss, Wycliff, Calvin, Knox, Zwingli, and many others spent years struggling under threat of death from a very powerful and corrupt political church to translate, print, and distribute God’s word to the common person. They would never have dreamed of a day when the common non-cleric person would be able to slice and dice every sentence of God’s word in multiple languages and various translations from their own home. With some elementary instructions, anyone can easily look up the original Hebrew or Greek word from a Lexicon that is included with Strong’s, Young’s, Blue Bible Search concordances online for free!
For this “little” project, I used a very useful and simple website called Bible Gateway (www.biblegateway.com)and Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Lexicon online (www.eliyah.com/lexicon.html.)
Bible Gateway is like having a computerized Bible and allows me to search the scripture quickly based on a phrase, passage, or even a word or two. For example, I might want to find the phrase, “Jesus wept.” I simply type in the phrase and press “Enter.” This phrase is quickly found in John 11:35
To start, I went to www.biblegateway.com and simply typed in the English word “hell” and limited the search to the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) since this is where Jesus’ teachings are recorded. I did the same with the word “Heaven” and used the King James Version for each word. I kept up with my findings on an Excel Spreadsheet. I soon found out that the English word “hell” is also expressed using the word “Fire” in some places. Here are a few examples:
1) “And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.”
“As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.”
Matthew 13:40 “But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.”
Luke 17:29, 30
These verses are obviously an indirect reference to the fate of the lost and a description of “hell” with its fire. So I used that word in my search as well.
On the other hand, there are many more references to the simple word of “Heaven,” but as with the English word “hell” there are indirect references to words like “Kingdom of God”, “Kingdom of Heaven” or simply “Kingdom” Here are a few examples:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
“Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” J
“That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
Following are the unfiltered results:
Unfiltered Conclusion: In the gospels, Heaven/Kingdom is used about 7 times more than hell/Fire.
Let’s Get Technical
Now to be fair, I had to start trimming the count (particularly Heaven) because sometimes gospel writers are writing about the same teaching, so you have duplication. Also, the word “Heaven” is often used to refer to the “sky” (atmosphere) where the birds fly or (outer space) where the sun, the moon, and stars reside. Further, the use of the word “Heaven” may be used by someone other than Jesus, so technically He is not teaching about it. Those references are also pulled out. So, let’s filter a bit before we move on.
• Mark has three (3) “hell” verses that repeat what Matthew had already described.
• The verses regarding “Heaven” had many repeats among all the gospel writers. Matthew is the most prolific in writing about “Heaven,” particularly the kingdom of “Heaven.” There were 45 verses that had to be pulled out.
- It is Interesting that John (Gospel) does not show any usage of the word “hell.”
Following are the revised results:
Revised Results Conclusion:
Jesus taught 5.39 times more about Heaven/Kingdom than hell/Fire.
The same consideration was given for indirect references to hell i.e., “Fire.” Example:
“And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.”
Interesting Notes: Only Mathew uses the term “Kingdom of Heaven.” But the other gospel writers (Mostly Luke) use the term “Kingdom of God” to refer to the same thing.
Note: John The Baptist’s message was
“Repent ye for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”
After Jesus was baptized, his primary message was the same thing!
“And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.”
See how Matthew and Mark use Kingdom of Heaven or Kingdom of God respectively?
Jesus teaches more about Heaven than hell!!!
It is opposite from what we have been told!
From my study, it seems Jesus especially liked to teach on “Kingdom of Heaven” or “Kingdom of God.” He speaks about the Kingdom of Heaven 35 times in Matthew alone! The other gospel writers recorded 54 verses of His teachings about the “Kingdom of God” (which is basically the same precept.) This is 89 times in the Gospels just on these two phrases (2.78 times more than hell)!
Overall, Jesus taught on Heaven or some form of it at least 167 times compared to 32 times for hell. This is a significant variance. What is the implication? There is much more Jesus wants us to know about His Kingdom, the Kingdom of Heaven/God. His warnings have more to do with loosing life or the Kingdom than going to hell.
There is one beautiful verse spoken my Jesus that we all know. He never uses the word “Heaven,” but we know He is talking about it because it is in the context of His 2nd Coming:
“In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”
Whatever words are used by Jesus to describe Heaven (e.g.. Heaven, Kingdom of Heaven, Kingdom of God, Father’s house, or simply the Kingdom.), it is obvious Jesus wants us to know more about it than the other place. This was a large part of his preaching and teaching. Could it be we don’t know enough about this important topic?
I learned so much by simply reading the 250 plus verses. What exactly does God want us to know about the Kingdom? More importantly, how does it affect our knowledge of God and his character? Do we come to him because we are fearful of hell or because we are drawn by what He has done for us on the cross and what He does for us every day. Here is a hint:
“And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.”
When the sacrifice of the cross is understood, it will draw people to Jesus.
“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace,that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”
Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.
The way to salvation is not through horror, but through the drawing power of the love of God and the cross. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to bring conviction of sin so that a person will repent and turn, in faith, to Jesus.
I have heard preachers say that if I don’t have a hot hell to preach, people will not come to Jesus. How wrong! Do people make friends by scaring you or by loving you and doing things for you?
What I Learned About Hell
Our English word for “hell” is used by many preachers in only one way i.e., the place of eternal torment, but among the Greek and Hebrew words, hell can mean different things such as the grave. On the next writing, I will share what I have found.
I discovered there is definitely a “hell” with fire. But it hotter than anyone imagined before. It’s work is eternal, but its duration is but for a moment. It is not a place of torture, but a place that does a work of cleansing the universe of sin and its effects.
Of this I am certain: God is merciful and longsuffering. He is not willing that any should “perish” but that all would come to repentance. Repentance is very important in the response of the lost. Repentance is the work of the Holy Spirit upon the heart bringing conviction of sin and a view of Jesus paying for those sins. It is a critical step toward Jesus and away from death. This is why He waits regarding the 2nd coming. This part of God’s character helps us understand the doctrine concerning the fate of the lost and the home of the saved.
“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
2 Peter 3:9
Notice Peter did not say he is not willing that any should live in hell forever. He used the word “perish.” The second coming of Christ is both a liberating and a destructive event as we will see in future studies.
The most famous verse of all time warns that unbelief results in “perishing.” It tells us that eternal life is reserved only for the believers. The lost perish.
“ For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
“He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.”
1 John 5:12
Eternal life is reserved only for the saved, not the lost.
Next time, we will study more about God’s plan to bring an end to the last enemy-death. Let’s ask God to teach us about hell. How we view this topic affects how we view the great Creator and His claim to love so much that He gives rather than tortures.
Until then, may the Lord bless you and your family as you consider the truth of the Bible and not the word of man.
What says the Bible?
The Blessed Bible
This my only question be.
Men’s teachings so often mislead us.
What says the Bible to me?