And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.
 

3:6 fire of hell. The word for “hell” here is gehenna, the “everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41). This is the only one of its eleven occurrences in the New Testament which was not spoken by the Lord Jesus Himself. Since the tongue can be “a world of iniquity” if it is “set on fire of hell,” this implies that hell itself may be a world of iniquity, where “their worm dieth not” and where “he that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still” (Mark 9:44; Revelation 22:11). It may also be possible, since this final mention of gehenna in the Bible suggests that the “fire of hell” is what makes the tongue so iniquitous, that the fire of hell in these other references is a figurative description of the inconceivable horror of a world of nothing but eternal wickedness, hatred and violence, everlastingly separated from the holiness, peace and love of God. If men object to the concept of hell fire, they must realize that, if these fires are not to be taken literally, it is because the reality which they represent is so terrible that it can only be visualized as everlasting fire, where “the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever” (Revelation 14:11). Those who will be its inhabitants will be there by choice, having refused to accept the eternal presence of God as made available only through His sacrificial love in Jesus Christ.


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