All this talk about the terms of what ‘hell’ means in the NT (and sheol from the Tanakh) have given me a ‘epiphany’ (an insight into what is further at the heart of the ‘gospel’).
I think we lack a great definition of the terms of that time period and ideas like ‘sheol’ have helped to enlighten me on how an idea like the resurrection fits into the whole ‘eternal life’ thing. Usually I am presented with the idea of just believe and I will ‘live forever’ – but with little to no background on what ‘hell’ is or how ‘resurrection’ fits into this whole premise. This is when the epiphany happened.
The ‘good news’ is eternal life – that life can be furthered than just this current life we have. We all die (once) – and then we go to ‘sheol’ – which means the ‘abode of the dead’. This is a type of death hangout so to speak – and Jesus is mentioned to have gone down to sheol. The parable of Lazarus and the rich man is all about this place – where Abraham is ‘hanging out’. Jesus mentions ‘Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob’ are still living. This is sheol – the waiting room for the dead unto eternal life. (It’s imagery more or less – no one knows how such a place functions or looks)
It is from ‘Sheol’ where people are ‘resurrected’ into eternal life. They died and now they have been the gift of ‘resurrection’ – which essentially is having an abudance of life. The good news is resurrection – that we can live lives worthy of such a ‘gift’. This is true hope for the faithful and for the faithless. This is what Jesus was getting at with his teachings – this was at the heart of the ideas presented – so much so – he is the prime example of the idea.
Jesus teaches and lives amongst the people. He is crucifed and pronounced dead. 3 days later he resurrects – alive again? Paul mentions this as a kind of ‘first fruits’ or ‘proof’ of the idea of ‘eternal life’. Jesus was the classic example this idea is ‘real’.
That’s great news when you think about it. All people can recieve such a gift and all they have to do is give back to their human counterparts as part of society (ie: love their neighbor as themselves). I include the love God idea also (since there is a moral idea there also) – but I can understand how one can be quite turned off by religion and still be very moral. The good news is simple…if we desire to live – we will live like we do – and eventually we will receive that as a ‘gift’.