Q. Where did the concept of eternal punishment for all but 1% of the worlds population throughout history come from…because it wasn’t the bible. What does this mean in the face of Jesus saying ‘it is finished’; and the stated will of God to save all men; or the fact that gehenna, sheol, or hades do not depict eternal punishment but grave, pit, and a greek concept from their pantheon. Please comment.
A. In the first place let’s agree that your 1% number is just something you made up. No one knows the real number. But more importantly whatever the number turns out to be will be up to man, not God. Jesus said that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16) He died for everyone and God wants everyone to be saved, (2 Peter 3:9) but it’s not up to Him, it’s up to us. The Bible clearly states that belief is a requirement for eternal life, and that everyone who believes will receive it. (John 6:28-29, 40)
When Jesus said, “It is finished,” He meant that the price for our salvation was paid in full. Now each of us has to accept it for ourselves. Sadly, some will and some won’t.
Sheol (Hebrew) and Hades (Greek) are two names for the same temporary place where people went to await Him before Jesus came. Now only unbelievers go there. Believers go directly into the presence of God because they accepted His death as payment for their sins.
Gehenna comes from the Hebrew words ge hinnom and means Valley of Hinnom. It was Jerusalem’s garbage dump and was nearly always on fire. It became a euphemism in the Jewish culture for the place of eternal punishment, the so-called lake of fire. Isaiah 66:24 says that all who rebel against the Lord will go there.
Matt. 25:46 says that all unbelievers alive on Earth when the Lord comes back will be taken to a place of eternal punishment. Rev. 20:11 says that at the end of the age all whose names aren’t written in the Lamb’s Book of Life will be thrown into the Lake of Fire. This includes those in Hades. Many (but not all) scholars believe that the place of eternal punishment and the Lake of Fire are the same.