This movie requires Flash Player 8. Download Flash Player 8

 
Issue Features
  
Reason and Revelation Volume 24 #1

Questions and Answers: "Their Worm does not Die"

Q.

What does “their worm does not die” mean in Mark 9?

A.

At the end of the chapter in Mark 9, Jesus began a brief discourse with His disciples, explaining that their spiritual well-being should be the paramount concern in their lives. In order to illustrate this point, He commented that if their hand offended them, it should be cut off, or if their foot made them sin, it, too, should be amputated. This figurative language stressed the point that whatever stood in the way of faithfulness to God should be discarded. Jesus concluded that it was better to be rid of stumbling blocks than “to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched—where ‘their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched’ ” (Mark 9:43-44,46,48).

The word “hell” in this passage is actually the Greek word Gehenna, meaning “Valley of the Son(s) of Hinnom,” which was the name given to the valley south of the walls of Jerusalem. This valley was notoriously connected to the sinful, horrific practice of child sacrifice associated with the pagan god Molech. Josiah, the righteous king of Judah, in his efforts to restore true worship, ransacked the pagan worship arena and “defiled Topheth, which is the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, that no man might make his son or his daughter pass through the fire to Molech” (2 Kings 23:10). As a result, the valley became a refuse dump for discarding filth, dead animals, and other garbage (see Jeremiah 7:32). By the time of Jesus, the Jewish community associated Gehenna with spiritual death (Lenski, 1946, p. 407).

Interjected into Jesus’ explicit description of Gehenna, was the statement that in this horrid place, the “worm does not die.” The worms—described in Isaiah (66:24), and pictured by Jesus in Mark 9—are maggots, which would be associated quite naturally with the rotting filth of a refuse heap. The twist to Jesus’ phrase is the fact that the worm in hell “does not die.” Concerning this, Lenski wrote: “The fact that it does not die means that its work is eternal. ...The bodies of the blessed shall shine with glory and eternal bliss, but the bodies of the damned shall be like rotting, putrid corpses that have the worm within...” (p. 408).

This passage surely must represent one of the most graphic mental pictures ever painted by our Lord—which should cause each of us to reflect seriously on the possible stumbling blocks in our own lives, and what we can do on a daily basis in order to avoid them.

REFERENCE

Lenski, R.C.H. (1961), The Interpretation of Mark’s Gospel (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg).



Copyright © 2004 Apologetics Press, Inc. All rights reserved.

*Please keep in mind that Discovery articles are written for 3rd-6th graders.

This document may be copied, on the condition that it will not be republished in print unless otherwise stated below, and will not be used for any commercial purpose, as long as the following stipulations are observed: (1) Apologetics Press must be designated as the original publisher; (2) the specific Apologetics Press Web site URL must be noted; (3) any references, footnotes, or endnotes that accompany the article must be included with any written reproduction of the article; (4) textual alterations of any kind are strictly forbidden; (5) Some illustrations (e.g., photographs, charts, graphics, etc.) are not the intellectual property of Apologetics Press and as such cannot be reproduced from our site without consent from the person or organization that maintains those intellectual rights; (6) serialization of written material (e.g., running an article in several parts) is permitted, as long as the whole of the material is made available, without editing, in a reasonable length of time; (7) articles, in whole or in part, may not be offered for sale or included in items offered for sale; and (8) articles may be reproduced in electronic form for posting on Web sites pending they are not edited or altered from their original written content and that credit is given to Apologetics Press, including the web location from which the articles were taken. Further, documents may not be copied without source statements (title, author, journal title), and the address of the publisher and owner of rights, as listed below.

For catalog, samples, or further information, contact:

Apologetics Press
230 Landmark Drive
Montgomery, Alabama 36117
U.S.A.
Phone (334) 272-8558

http://www.apologeticspress.org

Web Store

Separation of Church & State? - DVD

Is "separation of church and state" constitutional? Bottom
 Line: The Founders believed that the general doctrines of the Christian religion are the basis of the American way of life. To the extent our nation expels God, the Bible, and Christian principl

Featured Audio

Listen

Click the following link to visit our Multimedia section.

Featured Audio