I received the following question:
I was re-reading some Sellers at work the other day on Future Punishment and it was in the article on “More About Gehenna” that I had a question. Sellers spoke of being tossed into Gehenna as a terrible reputation kind of thing and that not everybody would be done. It would only be for something that would be of a heinous act deserving for it. So then this led me to think where is everybody cast. Everybody is cast into the Lake of Fire right? I would say yes because Hades is tossed there. However, in my mind I always thought that the future Gehenna was the Lake of Fire. This would make me think differently. Furthermore, I realized that there is no passage in Scripture linking the two together (even though it might be an obvious comparison). What do you got for me?
The reputation aspect of being thrown into Gehenna first of all had to do with the day in which Christ was speaking. At that time, the leaders in Israel, once they had executed a criminal, had the right to be able to have his dead body thrown unto the trash heaps of Gehenna. There, he would either be incinerated by the fires that were always burning to consume the trash, or be eaten by the worms that thrived on the garbage that was there. To be disposed of this way marked one out as one of the worst of criminals, and was the ultimate in ignominious ways to die.
When God throws men into Gehenna, this has to do with the Kingdom of God. There are men who break the kingdom laws to such an extent that they are removed from God’s Kingdom by death. For some, this will be the only punishment they receive at this time, and their final fate will await the judgment at the final resurrection. Yet some will have committed such heinous acts against the Kingdom that there is no need to ever judge them further, as their rightful fate is already clear. These are thrown into Gehenna. Those who are thrown there are shown to be abhorrent in the sight of God. This is the same as their receiving their final judgment. In other words, they are no longer “among the dead,” but are passed from existence. For example, I can be in many states of being…I can be healthy, I can be in illness, I can be wealthy, I can be in poverty. I can also be in the state of death. Yet, as long as I still have resurrection in my future, that state of being dead is just a temporary state. All temporary states can be reversed. For example, a wealthy person can lose it all, while a poor person can strike it rich. A healthy person can be struck with illness, while an ill person can recover and become the picture of health. In the same way, as long as resurrection is in my future, the state of death is a temporary state that will pass for me, and I will again enter into the state of being alive.
Yet, once one is cast into Gehenna, it can no longer be said that one is in a temporary state of death. Those thrown into Gehenna by God’s command have had their right to any further resurrection rescinded. Thus, this death really is an end for them. They will by no means be raised from this death, but have passed from life forever. Thus, they are no longer in “Hades,” but have died the second death. This does not have so much to do with reputation before men (although it will certainly result in that,) but with reputation before God. By having you cast into Gehenna, He has determined that there is no use continuing your life at any time and in any way, but that you are altogether worthless.
Now the same thing, of course, is true of those who are cast into the lake of fire during the little season at the end of the millennium. The difference is that those who are raised, judged, and cast into that lake will not have lived through the kingdom, but will be judged as unworthy of life after it is completed. They had already been judged as unworthy of the kingdom earlier, or else had not been raised from Hades to see that kingdom at all. Now, they are judged unworthy of living period, and are cast into the lake of fire.
Everybody who is judged unworthy of life at the final resurrection is cast into the lake of fire, yes. That final resurrection is of everyone who is in the state of death at that time. That does not include those who were cast into Gehenna during the kingdom, however, for they are no longer in the state of death, having already died the “second death.”
There is no direct link between the lake of fire and Gehenna, no. Yet I, too, would lean towards thinking they are probably the same thing. Gehenna existed as a punishment of men in the times when Christ came to earth. The Gehenna of fire will exist as a divine punishment in the Kingdom. And a “lake of fire” will be used for the same purpose at the time of the destruction of the anti-Christ, and again at the time of the final resurrection a thousand years later. It seems likely to me that they are the same place, but it cannot be proven directly. Neither can it be proven that Lucifer and the Devil/Satan are the same being, but I tend to think they are. I would hate to think there are two of them!
Hope that answers your question.