Chapter 3


So we’ve finally come to the topic that men like Bell, atheists, and others cannot stomach to think about.  According to Bell, multitudes of people have been turned off from God because of this topic.  Since that is the case, then surely the common understanding of hell must be incorrect.  After all, how could a truth about God have such a negative effect on people?  Surely there are other ways to “understand” hell that are more palatable to the masses of people who are led by their fallen emotions.  And the truth is, if we redefine scripture and give biblical words and parables new meanings, we can understand age-old truths in new “light,” however dim that light may be. 

So let’s begin this chapter.

Bell starts out saying: 

       Hell.  That’s all part of the story, right?  Trust God, accept Jesus, confess, repent, and everything will go well 
       for you.  But if you don’t, well, the Bible is quite clear…

       Sin, refuse to repent, harden your heart, reject Jesus, and when you die, it’s over.  Or actually, the torture and 

       anguish and eternal torment will have just begun.

       That’s how it is – because that’s what God is like, correct?  God is loving and kind and full of grace and 

       mercy – unless there isn’t confession and repentance and salvation in this lifetime, at which point God 
       punishes forever.  That’s the Christian story, right?

       Is that what Jesus taught? (page 64)

Here again, we have Bell’s deep explanation, along with plentiful citation of scripture, to talk about a huge, multi-layered subject.  Actually, what you have is Bell taking biblical truth, reducing it to its lowest common denominator (again, like your four-year-old child would), and declaring that's “the Christian story.”  Of course, Bell mentions nothing about God’s character, His justice, His holiness, His righteousness, etc., etc.  The truth is, you cannot have a real discussion about these issues WITHOUT talking about God’s nature and character.  Rob Bell seems to think you can do so by talking about only one of God’s attributes – Love.  Yet if anyone will take time to read the scriptures, they will see that God has many other, equally important, attributes.  In fact, it might surprise some that the seraphim in Isaiah 6 and the creatures in Rev 4:8 (heavenly beings that are about as close to God’s throne as one can get) don’t fly around the throne of God saying, “Love, Love, Love is the Lord God Almighty.”  From the Old Testament to the New, these heavenly beings continue to cry out the same message.

       And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.
       (Isaiah 6:3)

       And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not 
       day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.  (Rev 4:8)

You would think that these heavenly creatures knew at least as much as Rob Bell.  I mean, they’re right there at the throne!  Yet apparently, they haven’t received their copy of Love Wins yet, but I’m sure once they do they will immediately correct their proclamation to reflect the only real attribute that God has, the one that overrides all the other attributes of God that we read about in the Bible. 

You see, this is the fallacy of Rob Bell’s whole book.  It is a book that magnifies one of God’s attributes while totally ignoring all the other attributes we read that God has.  Of course God is love, but God’s love must be understood in light of all His other attributes.  Since the creatures around God continually cry, “Holy, Holy, Holy,” it might be a good place to start by trying to understand God’s love in light or in view of God’s holiness.  (Again, for those who are really interested in understanding this, you should do a study of the book of Romans.)

But again, Bell’s goal is not to bring these topics to light.  If he can reduce biblical truth to a partial or incomplete truth, then he can get you to question the message that many are telling, including God, and that he disagrees with. 

Bell then goes on in his chapter on hell to discuss the use of the word “hell” in both the Old and New Testaments.  But in talking about hell, he relies heavily on the unsubstantiated “fact” that Gehenna was a garbage dump during the time of Jesus.  This “fact” is accepted by many; however, no one ever seems to have any proof that this indeed was the case.  In fact, if one does a little research, you can actually find citations that state that this is a myth.  However, let’s just assume that Gehenna was a trash dump during the time that Jesus walked the earth.  If Jesus was making a comparison between a place where trash is utterly consumed, and hell; you would still never come up with the conclusions about hell and salvation that Bell comes up with later. 

Bell continues by saying:

       For many in the modern world, the idea of hell is a holdover from primitive, mythic religion that uses fear and   
       punishment to control people for all sorts of devious reasons.  And so the logical conclusion is that we’ve 
       evolved beyond all that outdated belief, right?  (page 70)

So in other words, if you’re part of the “modern world,” you’ve evolved past those archaic, dark-aged beliefs.  But if you still believe in what is held as the traditional view of hell, then you are a person who’s stuck in the dark ages, trapped by a teaching that’s been used to control people, and you yourself are still under “its” control.  Here, Bell is again trying to insinuate something without having to really say it.

Bell continues:

       I get that.  I understand that aversion, and I as well have a hard time believing that somewhere down below 
       the earth’s crust is a really crafty figure in red tights holding a three-pronged spear, playing Pink Floyd records
       backward, and enjoying the hidden messages.  (page 70)

Yes, that’s exactly how Jesus described hell, isn’t it?  Of course not.  But as his pattern is, Bell has to make light of the subject, set up a false idea of hell, make it look stupid, so he can then tear it down and teach you the “real” truth.  No one who reads the Bible in a sincere way believes that there is a devil in red tights, holding a three-pronged spear, that sits around playing Pink Floyd records backwards.  I hope that by now you can see the patterns in which Bell works and how he is trying to deceive you.  If you can see this, then you can read through Bell’s book without being deceived.  Can you see it?

Bell continues:

       So how should we think,
       or not think,
       about hell?  (page 70)

Now Bell will begin to redefine the word “hell” and give it a meaning that the scripture never does.  Interestingly enough, the definition that Bell gives for hell is often the very same one you hear unconverted people use for hell.

Bell then goes on to recount a trip he once took to Rwanda.  He talks about seeing kids who had missing limbs from the genocide that took place there.  Bell says:

       My guide explained that during the genocide one of the ways to most degrade and humiliate your enemy was to
       remove an arm or a leg of his young child with a machete, so that years later he would have to live with the 
       reminder of what you did to him.

       Do I believe in a literal hell?
       of course.
       those aren’t metaphorical missing arms and legs.  (page 70, 71)

Now there’s no doubt that what these children in Rwanda experienced was absolutely horrible.  But what they experienced was not what the BIBLE calls hell.  Words have meanings, and biblical words are defined by the Bible.  Nowhere in the Bible will you ever find the word “hell” attributed to what people experience here on earth.  Hell, like Heaven, is someplace else.  What Bell is seeking to do is redefine Hell and make it something that people experience here on earth, through their choices of living apart from God.  How better to do this than to paint a tragic picture of suffering and then call it “hell.”  Again, he does this not because scripture says it’s this way but because the story pulls at your heart.  It’s such a terrible story that it MUST be hell.  If you study the different passages on hell, you will find that hell is a place of punishment for sins.  It’s interesting to note though that Rob Bell’s description of hell is the same thing you hear from many unconverted people.  They too often say that hell is here on earth.  This is a teaching that the devil would love to have people believe, because it misrepresents the reality of what hell is.

Bell continues:

       Have you ever sat with a woman while she talked about what it was like to be raped?  How does a person 
       describe what it’s like to hear a five-year-old boy whose father has just committed suicide ask: “When is 
       daddy coming home?”  How does a person describe that unique look, that ravaged, empty stare you find in 
       the eyes of a cocaine addict?

       I’ve seen what happens when people abandon all that is good and right and kind and humane.  (page 71)

Notice the appeal to your emotions again.  Obviously, those incidents are so terrible, the only word to describe them must be “hell,” right?  That’s what you’re supposed to believe.  Yet that is not what the scripture teaches.  What Bell is describing is SIN and the effects of sin, the very thing Christ came to free men from. 

Bell continues:

       God gives us what we want, and if that’s hell, we can have it.  We have that kind of freedom, that kind of 
       choice. We are that free.  We can use machetes if we want to.

       So when people say they don’t believe in hell and they don’t like the word “sin,” my first response is to ask, 

       “Have you sat and talked with a family who just found out their child has been molested?  Repeatedly?  Over 
       a number of years?  By a relative?  (page 72)

Here, Bell is talking about a sin that has been committed and is using this story to say that what this boy has experienced is hell.  According to Jesus, hell was created for the devil and his angels, into which unconverted men are also thrown. 

       Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared 
       for the devil and his angels:  (Mat. 25:41)

As you can see from the above passage, hell is a place of punishment which Jesus Himself sends people to.  So it’s a pretty degrading thing to say this boy has experienced hell.  It would imply that what he has experienced was a punishment that was given to him by Jesus Himself.  That is utterly blasphemous and wicked, and that is what it boils down to, if you hold to Bell’s definition of hell.  This is what happens when you redefine biblical words and give them meanings that God never gave them.  You can end up attributing great evils to God, even if that wasn’t your intention.  That is why works like Love Wins by Rob Bell are so dangerous. 

Bell continues:

       But when you’ve sat with a wife who has just found out that her husband has been cheating on her for years, 
       and you realize what it is going to do to their marriage and children and finances and friendships and future, 
       and you see the concentric rings of pain that are going to emanate from this one man’s choice – in that 
       moment Jesus’s warnings don’t seem that over-the-top or drastic; they seem perfectly spot-on. 

       Gouging out his eye may actually have been a better choice. 

       Some agony needs agonizing language.
       Some destruction does make you think of fire.
       Some betrayal actually feels like you’ve been burned.
       Some injustices do cause things to heat up.  (page 73)

Here again, we have Bell seeking to redefine what hell is.  He is confusing sin and its consequences with hell itself.  Bell then takes the passage where Jesus says to “pluck out your eye” if it causes you to sin and relates it to this situation, implying that because this man didn’t do so, he has now brought “hell on earth.”  But take a minute and read the passage and see what it says:

       And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy 
       members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.  (Mat. 5:29)  

This passage has nothing to do with what Bell describes.  Jesus said if your eye is causing you to sin, it is better to pluck it out than for your WHOLE BODY to be CAST into hell.  The passage has to do with what happens after death.  This passage in Luke says the same thing:

       And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they 
       can do.  But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast 
       into hell;
yea, I say unto you, Fear him.  (Luke 12:4-5)

God has the power to kill the body and then to cast you into hell.  It’s quite clear that Rob Bell’s definition of hell is found nowhere in the Bible.  Again, you can see how Rob Bell is slowly trying to redefine this biblical word and make it something it’s not. 

Bell then goes on to talk about Lazarus and the rich man.  Bell does seem to affirm that the rich man is in hell but then makes statements that are not scriptural.  He says:

       He’s alive in death, but in profound torment, because he’s living with the realities of not properly dying the 
       kind of death that actually leads a person into the only kind of life that’s worth living.  (page 77)

That sounds nice, but you cannot find that in the scripture.  The rich man says:

       And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his 
       finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.  (Luke 16:24)

The rich man was tormented because he was “in the flames.”  Bell is again trying to give new meanings to words like hell, fire, torment, etc.  Bell then shifts the story to say that the meaning of the story has to do with the hells people create here on earth by rejecting God.  But the story of Lazarus and the rich man has nothing to do with creating hell here on earth, because that is an impossibility.  It has to do with the type of punishment people will receive who are “lovers of money,” while ignoring those in need around them. 

Bell says:

       What we see in Jesus’s story about the rich man and Lazarus is an affirmation that there are all kinds of hells,  
       because there are all kinds of ways to resist and reject all that is good and true and beautiful and human now, 
       in this life, and so we can only assume we can do the same in the next.  (page 79)

If you read the story of Lazarus and the rich man, you will see that it does not tell us that there are all kinds of hells.  It does show us that there are sins that, if continued in, will lead a person to hell.  This is very different than what Bell is saying though. 

Bell then shifts his focus to the other passages in the Bible that don’t talk about hell but do mention judgment and punishment. 

To summarize, Bell says that Jesus, when talking about the judgment and punishment, he is talking about the soon-coming destruction of the Jews by the Romans.  He also says that Jesus was primarily talking to the Jewish covenanted people of God, and he insists that those passages that deal with judgment and punishment must only be looked at in that light.  But then Bell does not quote the passages from the Bible and show their context.  He skips them and goes right on to his next thought. 

Bell says:

       Because of this history, it’s important that we don’t take Jesus’s very real and prescient warnings about 
       judgment then out of context, make them about someday, somewhere else. That wasn’t what he was 
       talking about.

       Other than interactions with a Roman centurion and a woman by the well in Samaria and a few others, he’s 

       talking to very devoted, religious Jews.  He’s talking to people who saw themselves as God’s people.  Light 
       of the world, salt of the earth, all that.  His audience was people who were “in.”  Believer, redeemed, devoted, 
       passionate, secure in their knowledge that they were God’s chosen, saved, covenant people.  (page 81)

What Bell says in these two passages is true for some of the parables and warnings that Jesus gave.  Some of them deal directly with the Pharisees, their rejection of Jesus, and the coming destruction they would soon face.  Yet there are many passages that simply talk about what the kingdom of God is like.  It relates to all men, even to us today.  These passages about the kingdom have clear warnings in them about the judgment to come, some referring to the end of the age, and eternal punishment.  So they are not simply warnings about the coming judgment to the Jewish people, nor are the warnings to be understood as relating only to God’s people both then and now.  Here are a few of the passages.  (It would be good for you to take your Bible and read each of them in depth, as they are not covered in Love Wins).

The Wheat and the Tares – you can read this parable in Matthew 13:24-30

       Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, 
       Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field.  He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the 
       good seed is the Son of man;  The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the 
       tares are the children of the wicked one;  The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end 
       of the world; and the reapers are the angels.  As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so 
       shall it be in the end of this world.  The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out 
       of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;  And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: 
       there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.  Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom 
       of their Father.  Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.  (Mat. 13:36-43)

It’s quite clear.  The harvest is at the end of the world.  Jesus sends his angels to gather out all things that “offend and do iniquity.”  They are then cast into the fire, where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth. 

The fish and the net

       Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind:  Which, 
       when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away.  
       So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the 
       just,  And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.  (Mat. 13:47-50)

Again, it’s very clear, this happens at the “end of the world”.  At the end of the world, the wicked are separated from the just, and they are then cast into a furnace of fire. 

Offending a Child & Hand, Foot & Eyes

       But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were
       hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.  (Mat. 18:6)

Well, we know Rob Bell thinks this verse applies to today, because he brought it up in the second chapter of his book as a warning to those who believe in the traditional view of hell.  And he’s right; this passage is applicable to all until the end of the world.  The interesting thing is that immediately following this verse are some very clear warnings dealing with sin and the reality of being cast into hell.  If Matthew 18:6 applies to today, then surely these verses also apply to today:

       Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by 
       whom the offence cometh!  Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from 
       thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast 
       into everlasting fire.  And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter 
       into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.  (Mat. 18:7-9)

Obviously, these passages are all connected and therefore apply to every person, whether they lived in Jesus’s time or today.

The parable of the talents – found in Matthew 25:14-30

       His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I 
       sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:  Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the 
       exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.  Take therefore the talent 
       from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.  For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall 
       have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.  And cast ye the
       unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  (Mat. 25:26-30)

Bell mistakenly believes that unconverted people can be given talents too.  He tells us this in the story he shares of the single mother who works like a slave trying to take care of her kids.  He says she has been faithful with what she has been given.   Yet this passage is actually one that is directed to God’s people, His servants.  So in one instance, when Bell says the parables are directed to God’s people, he’s partially right.  This one is.  But on the other hand, he is wrong because he thinks this particular parable applies to all people, even the unconverted.

Sheep and the Goats – found in Matthew 25:31-46

       When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the 
       throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, 
       as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats 
       on the left.  (Mat. 25:31-33)

Clearly, this passage is talking about the return of Christ.  Jesus then says of the goats:

       Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared 
       for the devil and his angels:  (Mat. 25:41)

       And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.  (Mat. 25:46)

Again, these passages are warnings about the judgment and punishment of the wicked that are applicable to us today.  Another interesting truth that contradicts what Bell is teaching on the nature of hell is found in the above passage, Matthew 25:46.  In this passage, the goats go into everlasting punishment.  Rob Bell would have us believe that “everlasting” is only for an “age” or a “period of time” and is not eternal.  Yet if that is the case, then the righteous only get life for an “age” or a “period of time.”  So the righteous don’t really get to live forever but only for a period of time.  Can you see the problem?  The same Greek word “aionios” is used in both places when referring to the sheep and the goats.  So you either have punishment and life for a short period of time, or you have punishment and life for a perpetual, never-ending period of time.  The scripture teaches the latter. 

Fear Him – found in Luke 12:4, 5

       And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they 
       can do.  But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast 
       into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.  (Luke 12:4, 5)

In this passage, we are warned to fear God because He has the power to not only kill the body but also, after He has killed the body, is able to cast you into hell.  This passage was spoken to the disciples, but are we to understand that it applied only to them?  Jesus told his disciples to go into “all the world” to “make disciples” and to “teach all that Jesus had commanded.”  Again, this truth about God and His ability to cast men into hell and is applicable to all.

These are just a few passages out of the gospels that show that when Jesus was speaking of judgment and punishment, He was not always speaking only to the Jews of His time and to His followers.  And we haven’t even looked at passages in the Epistles.  Rob Bell fails to touch on those, which contain very clear warnings of Christ returning to take vengeance on those who don’t know God.  So I can’t say, by any means, that Rob Bell has been honest about what he has said the Bible says about judgment and punishment. 

Bell continues:

       Jesus did not use hell to try to compel “heathens” and “pagans” to believe in God, so they wouldn’t burn when 
       they die.  He talked about hell to very religious people to warn them about the consequences of straying from 
       their God-given calling and identity to show the world God’s love.  (page 82)

I’ve already demonstrated that Jesus gave warnings about judgment, punishment, and hell that apply to all, everywhere, no matter who they are or when they live.  In His earthly ministry, Jesus was not sent to the “heathen” and “pagans.”  As He said, He was sent “to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Mat. 15:24).  So of course, Jesus wasn’t warning the pagans.  However, later on, the apostles and believers were commanded to teach everything Jesus had taught them, which would include the topics of hell, judgment, and punishment.  In fact, speaking of judgment, Peter says exactly that:

       And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to 
       be the Judge of quick and dead.  (Acts 10:42)

Bell then continues and speaks of Sodom and Gomorrah.  He uses a passage out of Ezekiel to say that they will one day be restored.  However, the passage is clearly not talking about the people that God has already destroyed.  Then Bell continues by saying:

       But that still isn’t the last we hear of these two cities.  As Jesus travels from village to village in Galilee, calling  
       people to see things in a whole new way, he encounters great resistance in some areas, especially among the 
       more religious and devout.  In Matt. 10, he warns the people living in the village of Capernaum, “It will be more 
       bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for you.”

       More bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah?  He tells highly committed, pious, religious people that it will be 

       better for Sodom and Gomorrah than them on the judgment day? 

       There’s still hope?  (page 84)

No, there is no hope for them.  Because their judgment will be more “bearable” does not mean they will be restored.  It simply means that the punishment they receive will be of a lesser degree than that of those who rejected Christ and received His teaching directly.  Surely, there is greater accountability for those who personally had the Son of God teach them and live among them compared to those who never had such an opportunity.  I like what this commentator says regarding this:

       it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha, in the day of judgment, than for that 
       city. The inhabitants of the land of Sodom and Gomorrha are the rather mentioned, because, as they were 
       very notorious and abominable sinners, so their temporal punishment was well known, exemplary and awful, 
       though not that, but their future damnation is here regarded, of which the Jews made no doubt; for they say, 

       the men of Sodom have no part in the world to come; as it is said, Gen. 13:13 “the men of Sodom were 
       wicked, and sinners, before the Lord exceedingly”: they were “wicked” in this world, and “sinners” in the world 
       to come;

       meaning, that by this passage is designed their double punishment in this, and the other world. But though 
       their punishment was very tremendous, and they will suffer also “the vengeance of eternal fire,” as Jude 
       says; yet, their punishment will be milder, and more tolerable, than that of the inhabitants of such a city, that 
       rejects the Gospel of the grace of God: as there are degrees in sinning, for all sins are not alike, as the 
       Stoics say; so there will be degrees in suffering; the sins of those that are favoured with the Gospel, are 
       greater than those who only have had the light of nature, and so their torments will be greater. The inhabitants 
       of Sodom and Gomorrha, though they sinned against the light of nature, despised the advice and admonitions 
       of Lot, and ill treated the angels, yet will be more mildly punished than the wicked Jews, who rejected Christ, 
       and his Gospel, and despised his apostles, and ministers; because they sinned not against so much light, 
       and such means of grace, and knowledge, as these did; see Lam. 4:6 which is thus paraphrased by the 
       Targumist, and may be aptly applied to the Jews in Christ's time;”

Bell continues:

       In Jeremiah 32, God says, “I will surely gather them from all the lands where I banish them in my furious anger 
       and great wrath; I will bring them back to this place and let them live in safety.”

       Israel had been exiled, sent away, “banished” to a foreign land, the result of God’s “furious anger and great 

       wrath.”  But there’s a point to what the prophet interprets and understands to be God’s “anger and wrath.”  
       It’s to teach the people, to correct them, to produce something new in them.  (page 85)

That is true.  But most of the time, the exact people that have been banished are not the ones who later return.  They are not the ones God gathers.  Many times, God wipes out entire disobedient generations and then shows mercy to a new generation of the same people group, as God continually did with Israel.  God told Israel when He delivered them from Egypt that he was taking them to the “promised land.”  Yet God killed off an entire generation of unbelieving Israelites in the process.  However, God still brought the Israelites to the promise land.  Just because God says He’s going to do something with a nation does not mean that He will do it with everyone in that nation.  The scripture is quite clear on this.  Yet Bell is using this premise to attempt to build His case that God is working to restore and save all people everywhere, something the scripture does not teach.

Bell continues:

       The prophets are quick to point out that this isn’t just something for “God’s people,” the “chosen,” the “elect.”  
       (page 88)

That is partly right and partly not right. Yes, the prophets are saying that salvation would be extended to those who were not God’s chosen people at the time – the heathen nations, those who were not part of Israel – the chosen nation.  In fact, that is what Paul says is the “mystery of the gospel.”

       How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,  Whereby, when ye
       read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)  Which in other ages was not made known 
       unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; That the Gentiles 
       should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:”  
       (Eph. 3:3-6)

Yet, what Rob Bell states is that it’s not only the believers, God’s chosen and elect people, but everyone that will ultimately be saved.  He twists what the scripture teaches, that salvation will be available to the gentiles, and says that salvation will come to all and that all will be saved. 

Bell concludes the chapter by going back to Matthew 25 and talking about the sheep and the goats.  Bell says:

       The goats are sent, in the Greek language, to an aion of kolazo.  Aion, we know, has several meanings.  
       One is “age” or “period of time;” another refers to intensity of experience.  The word kolazo is a term from   
       horticulture.  It refers to the pruning and trimming of the branches of a plant so it can flourish.

       But “forever” is not really a category that biblical writers used.  (pages 91, 92)

As I stated previously, if Bell translates “aion” to mean “a period of time” when the scripture talks about the goats, then he has also to translate it as “a period of time” when talking about the sheep.  I don’t think Jesus came to give us life for a period of time.  Jesus came to give us “eternal,” “never-ending” life – the same life He Himself has, since He lives in those who believe.  And while the word “kolazo” can mean “to prune” or “trim,” it also means “to inflict” and “punish,” which is consistent with the rest of scripture on this topic. 

So in this chapter, at the beginning we have Bell mocking the gospel by simplifying it without any real explanation; then we have Bell changing the meaning of hell to make it something scripture never says it is; next we have Bell omitting many passages on judgment and punishment that apply to everyone; then we have Bell twisting Old Testament scriptures to say that everyone will be saved; and lastly, we have Bell saying that the life Jesus gives His followers will only last for a period of time or an age. 

What Bell is continuing to do is muddy the waters of biblical truth so that he can then clear them up with his new interpretations and solutions.  I say the water was never muddy to begin with and we can keep with what the scripture plainly teaches.

On to the next chapter.  Click here to go to chapter 4