ARE THERE LEVELS OF HELL? WILL SOME RECEIVE GREATER PUNISHMENT THAN OTHERS?
by Shawn Brasseaux
Are there different levels of Hell? Will some people experience greater eternal torment than others? Will God treat some lost people harsher than others at the Great White Throne Judgment? Are there degrees of punishment of eternal punishment? Let us look in the Bible!
The Lord Jesus said in Matthew 10:14-16: “ And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.  Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.  Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”
He also said Matthew 11:21-23: “ Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.  But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.  And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.  But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.”
Jesus Christ also spoke in Mark 6:10-12: “ And he said unto them, In what place soever ye enter into an house, there abide till ye depart from that place.  And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.  And they went out, and preached that men should repent.”
And, Jesus said in Luke 10:9-14: “ And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.  But into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you not, go your ways out into the streets of the same, and say,  Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.  But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city.  Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.  But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment, than for you.”
Chorazin and Bethsaida would receive greater judgment compared to Tyre and Sidon. Capernaum would receive greater judgment compared to Sodom and Gomorrah. This is all in reference to the Great White Throne Judgment, when all the lost (unsaved) of the ages stand before Jesus Christ, to be sentenced (from Hell) to the eternal Lake of Fire. The Lord Jesus said that it would be “more tolerable” for Sodom and Gomorrah in the Day of Judgment than it would be for the people who were listening to Him speak during His earthly ministry. He also said it would be “more tolerable” for Tyre and Sidon than Chorazin and Bethsaida—Chorazin and Bethsaida were towns where He did some of His mightiest works. The people living in Jesus’ day had God living in their midst. They had more opportunity to hear more of God’s doctrine than the people of Sodom and Gomorrah (who lived many centuries earlier). In addition, Chorazin and Bethsaida heard more truth than Tyre and Sidon. Thus, God would hold them more accountable.
John the Apostle wrote in Revelation 20:11-15: “ And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.  And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.  And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.  And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.  And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”
Part of their “works” is how many times they had opportunities to know God’s words and blatantly refused them. The Lord Jesus said in John chapter 12: “ I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.  And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.  He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.” In other words, the more you heard from God’s Word, the more words by which you will be judged! How much more today concerning the people who have a completed Bible and yet never open it! A fearful thought, indeed!
That is why we need to come by faith in Jesus Christ right now. Friend, do not waste another moment. Trust the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour. He died for your sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). He died to pay for everything that is wrong with you. God does not want you to go to Hell. He sent His Son to die in your place. You die and go to Hell, my friend, and you will never forget the fact that you read these words and did nothing with them! You will never forget how you rejected the Gospel of the Grace of God!
LEVELS OF THE UNDERWORLD
Scripture uses various terms when it speaks of the underworld. In addition to “hell” where lost people go (Matthew 11:23; Luke 10:15; Luke 16:23; Revelation 20:13-14)—“hades”—the Greek Bible also teaches on the idea of “hell” by using the name “gehenna” (Matthew 5:22,29,30; Matthew 10:28; Matthew 18:9; Matthew 23:15; Matthew 23:33; Mark 9:43,45,47; Luke 12:5). For more information, please see our study on “gehenna” linked at the end of this article.
Peter used a unique word (ταρταρόω; tartaroo) to describe the place where God is holding evil, fallen angels. That word, found only once in the Greek Bible, is rendered “hell” in 2 Peter 2:4 in our King James Bible: “For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment….” This is evidently a special part of Hell, not where lost souls of men go. It is apparently inside the Earth as well.
We also read about “the bottomless pit.” Whether this is part of Hell, the Bible does not say. It too is in the heart of the Earth. The “bottomless pit” contains certain evil spirit beings, grotesque and horrific monsters which will be released on Earth during the seven-year Tribulation (Revelation 9:1-11). Various other evil spirit beings dwell in the “bottomless pit” (Revelation 11:7-8). Satan will be bound in the “bottomless pit” for 1,000 years during the reign of Christ on Earth (Revelation 20:1-3).
There is also the “lake of fire,” mentioned only four times (Revelation 19:20; Revelation 20:10,14-15). A similar title is “the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone” (Revelation 21:8). This is the “maximum security prison” where those in Hell will go forever after they are sentenced/judged at the Great White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:11-15). The Lake of Fire may very well be at the bottom of the universe, as far from God’s presence as possible.
OTHER MISCELLANEOUS FACTS ABOUT ETERNAL PUNISHMENT
As leader of all rebellions (angels and people), Satan will surely have the hottest place of all in the Lake of Fire. See Revelation 20:10: “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” The Antichrist and the False Prophet (the political leader, and the religious leader, respectively) of the seven-year Tribulation, they will have the next hottest “condos” in hellfire. Fallen angels will be harshly judged because they have lived longer and incited more rebellion that individual humans have.
The various other sinners of the ages may very well be grouped by their specific sins. Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” They will all have the own portion, their own “reward,” for their evil, as well!
» What is “gehenna?”
» How can a “loving” God send people to Hell forever?
» Is Luke 16:19-31 a parable?