Hell “Bible Study”

Part One:

Note: Although the vast majority of Christian preachers and theologians teach that unrepentant sinners will suffer “eternal torment” in hell, by the end of this three-part Bible study on the subject of hell, you will see that the overwhelming weight of biblical evidence clearly demonstrates that lost sinners are not tormented in hell’s flames throughout the trillions of years of eternity.

Some Facts About The Hell Fire

Matthew 13:41-42; Matthew 13:49-50—The hell fire is a real place that unrepentant sinners will experience. And, it is a place of such pain, agony and torment that it causes the wicked to wail and gnash their teeth.

Matthew 18:8; Matthew 25:41—The hell fire is an everlasting fire.

Isaiah 66:24; Mark 9:43-48; Luke 3:17—These scriptures state that the hell fire will never be quenched or is “unquenchable”.

Matthew 25:41—The hell fire was prepared for the devil and his angels.

According to Scripture, the devil and his angels will spend eternity in the hell fire along with the “beast” and “false prophet” described in the book of Revelation (Revelation 20:10; Matthew 25:41). As stated in the Matthew text, the “everlasting fire” was prepared for them. Why did it need to be an “everlasting” fire for the devil and his evil angelic forces? Because God created angels as “eternal beings”, according to Jesus’ statement in Luke 20:36, where He said that, after the resurrection, we will not die because we will be equal to the angels. In other words, angels are “eternal beings”; they do not die. Therefore, the fire prepared for them needed to be everlasting, as stated in Matthew 25:41. Thus, the devil and his angels, who caused this “nightmare” experience of sin, with all of its suffering and heartache for billions of people, will indeed be tormented in hell forever, and rightly so. The devil and his angels have been tormenting billions of people over thousands of years, and are culpable for billions of them not receiving eternal life in heaven. No one should question the justice of their eternal punishment. Their case, as “eternal beings” and as the originators of sin, is uniquely different from the case of those whom they have deceived on earth.

Part Two

The Scriptures Contradicting The Eternal Punishment Of Lost Sinners:

Ezekiel 33:11—The Bible says that God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked, and that He asks them why they will die. The kind of God who takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, does not punish them throughout the trillions of years of eternity, as supposed justice for a life of seventy years of disobedience. It is also significant that God asks them why they will “die” in this passage. He does not ask them why they will suffer torment forever.

Ezekiel 18:4; Ezekiel 18:20—The Bible declares that the soul who sins shall die, not that he will be tortured forever.

Romans 6:23—Scripture states that the wages of sin is death, not eternal torment.

Malachi 4:1-3—The prophet Malachi declares that the day is coming when the wicked will be burned like stubble, and they will be reduced to ashes under our feet. If they have become ashes that returned to the earth under the feet of the redeemed who will occupy the “new earth”, how can they still be burning?

Psalm 37:20—In this scripture David says, “The wicked shall perish; and the enemies of the Lord, like the splendor of the meadows, shall vanish. Into smoke they shall vanish away”. This text also states that the wicked “perish”, not that they suffer forever.

Psalm 37:10—This passage states, “For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more; indeed you will look carefully for his place, but it shall be no more”. Rather than existing forever in perpetual pain and torment, this text clearly states that the wicked will be no more; that is, they will cease to exist.

Psalm 145:20—In this Psalm David says, “The Lord preserves all who love Him, but all the wicked He will destroy”. Here again, the Bible states that the wicked will be destroyed, not tormented eternally. The original Hebrew word used for “destroy” in this passage is the word “shamad” (when spelled in English), which is very significant. A detailed definition and discussion of this Hebrew word is provided with the next scripture below.

Psalm 37:37-38—This text declares that a wonderful “future” awaits blameless and upright people. However, this scripture states that the wicked will be destroyed, and there future will be cut off, or, as the New Living Translation puts it in our modern language, they have “no future”. And, the original Hebrew word used for “destroyed” in this passage is once again the word “shamad”. According to the “Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance”, shamad means to utterly be brought to naught, perish or annihilate. It goes on to emphasize that shamad always expresses complete destruction or annihilation. Therefore, when combining this Psalm 37:37-38 scripture with the previous Psalm 145:20 passage, the precise rendering of these two texts is proclaiming that blameless and upright people who love God will be preserved and will have a wonderful future, whereas the wicked will be completely destroyed and annihilated, and will have no future whatsoever! They do not live on forever in torment. They are destroyed, annihilated and gone! As stated in Psalm 37:20, “they are no more”.

“Apollumi” Scriptures:

All of the scriptures that I will soon be citing have two things in common. They all discuss the ultimate fate of the wicked, and they all utilize the Greek word, “apollumi” (when spelled in English), to describe that final fate. This is significant because Scripture always uses this Greek word to mean destruction, perish, kill, die or fully destroy. The only exception to this rule is in a few instances when apollumi is translated as lose or lost, describing things that are lost and can be found, such as in Jesus’ parables about lost sheep, coins and people in Luke chapter 15. However, apollumi is never used to depict eternal torment or suffering.

Before I list the verses that use this Greek term to describe the final fate of the wicked, I will cite numerous other texts that also utilize the Greek word apollumi. Although these passages are not referring to the ultimate fate of the wicked, they conclusively show that this Greek word means to be destroyed, perish, killed or caused to die. Not one time in all of Scripture does it imply to be eternally tormented or tortured.

Matthew 2:13—This text tells us that Herod tried to apollumi, or destroy, the baby Jesus. Herod was not trying to torture Jesus forever, but rather to kill Him.

Matthew 8:25; Mark 4:38—The disciples warned Jesus they were about to apollumi, or perish, in the storm. The disciples were not saying the storm was going to punish them forever, but that it was going to kill them.

Matthew 12:14; Mark 3:6; Mark 11:18; Luke 19:47—These scriptures tell us that the Pharisees and priests plotted to apollumi, or destroy, Jesus. These religious leaders were not plotting to torture Jesus forever, but to kill Him.

Matthew 21:41; Mark 12:9; Luke 20:16—In Jesus’ parable about the wicked vinedressers, who beat and killed the servants sent by the owner of the vineyard, He said the owner would apollumi, or destroy, the wicked vinedressers. Jesus was not saying that the owner would torture them forever, but rather that he would kill them.

Matthew 26:52—Jesus proclaimed that all who take the sword will apollumi, or perish, by the sword. Once again, Jesus was not suggesting that those who use the sword would be tortured with the sword forever, but that they would be killed with the sword.

Matthew 27:20—In this text we’re told that the priests influenced the multitude to ask for Barabbas to be released, and for Jesus to be apollumi, or destroyed. They were not suggesting that Pilate should torment Jesus forever, but that he should kill Him.

Luke 13:33—Jesus stated that a prophet can’t apollumi, or perish, out of Jerusalem. He was not saying that a prophet could not be punished eternally outside of Jerusalem, but rather that a prophet could not be killed outside of Jerusalem.

Acts 5:37—This passage states that Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census and drew many people after him, but later he apollumi, or perished. This text does not mean he was tortured eternally, but that he died.

1st Corinthians 10:9-10—The Bible states that those who tempted Christ, and those who complained against Him in the days of Israel’s wandering in the wilderness, were apollumi, or destroyed. They were not eternally tormented; rather, they were killed.

Jude Verse 5—This text tells us that some of those who had been saved out of Egypt did not believe and were later apollumi, or destroyed. They were not punished forever, but were killed.

Jude Verse 11—This scripture compares the evil men referred to in the book of Jude, to those who apollumi, or perished, in the Old Testament rebellion of Korah. Those who participated in that rebellion were not tortured forever, but were killed.

(Do you recognize the pattern? The Greek word apollumi means to perish, be destroyed, die or be killed. It is never used to depict eternal torment!)

Now we can get back to those other verses I mentioned earlier, which use the Greek word apollumi to refer to the ultimate fate of the wicked. Remember, we already know that this Greek word means to perish, be destroyed, die or be killed. It is not used one single time in all of Scripture to depict eternal suffering.

Luke 17:27-30—Jesus said that the wicked in the days of Noah and Lot were apollumi, or destroyed. Of course, we know that in both instances the wicked were not inflicted with painful suffering forever, but were killed. It is very significant that Jesus said that it will be the same scenario when He returns; He said, “Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed”. In other words, once again, the wicked will be apollumi, or killed, not subjected to eternal torture.

2nd Peter 3:5-12—This passage states that the floodwaters in the days of Noah caused the wicked to apollumi, or perish. Did the floodwaters torture the wicked forever? No! They killed the wicked by drowning them. Then Peter goes on to compare that destruction of the wicked with the destruction that will occur in the hell fire. He uses the same Greek word, apollumi, in verse nine for those who will perish in the hell fire, as he did for those who perished in the flood in verse six. In other words, the wicked destroyed in the hell fire will experience the same fate as the wicked did in the flood, which was death, not eternal torment. The wicked who died in the flood did not drown forever, and, likewise, the wicked who perish in the fire will not suffer forever in it either.

Luke 13:2-5—Jesus proclaims that all who don’t repent will apollumi, or perish, not suffer eternally.

John 3:16—Jesus told Nicodemus that all who believe in Him will have everlasting life, and will not apollumi, or perish. The two options Jesus gave were life or death, not life or eternal torment.

2nd Corinthians 2:15-16—The Apostle Paul declares that we are the fragrance of Christ to God. He says that we are the aroma of life to those who are being saved, and that we are the aroma of death to those who are apollumi, or are perishing. Once again, the two options given by Paul were life or death, not life or eternal torment.

2nd Thessalonians 2:9-10—The Bible plainly states that those deceived by the Antichrist will apollumi, or perish, rather than to continue living in eternal agony.

Matthew 10:28—Jesus eliminates all doubt in this scripture. After telling us not to fear men, who can only kill the body, He tells us instead to fear God, who will apollumi, or destroy, both soul and body in hell! Remember, we’ve already established that apollumi means to perish, be destroyed, kill or caused to die. It is never used to describe eternal torment! Therefore, Jesus is unequivocally stating that both body and soul will be destroyed, killed or caused to die in hell, not suffer throughout endless ages.

God Rewards People According To Their “Works; He Does Not Give The Same Punishment To Everyone; As Taught By Eternal Torment Advocates.

Matthew 16:27; Revelation 22:12—Jesus said that He will reward everyone according to their “works”. Sinners will not receive a “one size fits all” punishment.

2nd Corinthians 5:10—The Apostle Paul states that we will all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, and that each of us will receive the things we’ve done in our bodies, whether good or bad; or, as the NIV translation puts it, “Each one will receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad”. So, once again, our final rewards will vary based on the deeds we’ve done during our lives on this earth.

Romans 2:5-6—The Bible specifically states that God will reveal His wrath towards the wicked on the day of judgment, by rendering to each one according to his deeds. If God is going to render to those who have done evil, according to their deeds, would He punish them for lives of seventy years of disobedience, with pain and torment for trillions of years without end? And, if God is punishing each sinner “according to his deeds”, would he give them all the same length of punishment?

Psalm 62:12—This scripture clearly demonstrates this point of being rewarded justly and mercifully, as opposed to the trillion-fold punishment taught by eternal torment proponents. In the King James translation this scripture states, “Also to You, O Lord, belongs mercy; for you render to each one according to his work”. The original Hebrew word translated as “mercy” is the word “checed”, when spelled in English. This word is almost always translated as “mercy, merciful, kindness, lovingkindness, loving” etc, depending on which Bible translation you use. Therefore, Psalm 62:12 is telling us that, one way that God demonstrates His mercy, kindness and love to us, is by rendering or rewarding each person according to their works; thus, God’s judgment, will be conducted with mercy, kindness and love. He will not use billion-fold and trillion-fold measures of punishment, as sadistically taught by most preachers.

(It is also obvious that, if we are rewarded or punished “according to our works”, then the rewards and punishments must necessarily vary based upon those works. Adolph Hitler cannot receive the same sentence of eternal torment in hell as a “shoplifter”, if they are to be justly and equitably punished according to their works.) 

Luke 12:42-49—In this text Jesus Himself illustrates this principle. He clearly states that unfaithful servants are punished differently according to their personal measure of guilt. Some will be beaten with “few stripes”, whereas others will receive “many stripes”. After stating this, Jesus immediately refers to the “fire” He will send on the earth in verse 49. Is this a coincidence? Probably not, because it is in that fire where the wicked will receive their punishment, or “stripes”, so to speak; some will receive a few, and others will receive many. However, it is interesting to note that none of them will be beaten forever.

Psalm 28:3-4—This passage is similar to Luke 12:42-49. David tells God to measure out punishment in proportion to their wickedness.

Psalm 98:9—This scripture declares that God will judge the peoples of this world with righteousness and “equity”, not with trillion-fold retribution. In the “Webster’s New World Dictionary And Thesaurus”, the first word listed to define “equity” is fairness. God will be “fair” when He judges the wicked and rewards them according to their works.

Only God Is Immortal; Man Has No Immortality Apart From Christ.

1st Timothy 6:13-16—The Bible clearly states that only God possesses “immortality”. Man does not possess immortality apart from the “new birth” experience in Christ. Without that new birth experience, there is no immortality for man. Lost people, of course, have not become born again in Christ; consequently, they have no “immortal” soul to live forever in hell. These are not my words, but rather are precisely what the Bible teaches.

Romans 2:6-7—Because man does not have immortality on his own, this scripture states that he must seek for it (in Christ, of course).

2nd Timothy 1:8-10—The Apostle Paul plainly states that immortality for human beings is only “brought to light” (made available) through the gospel of Christ. In other words, only those who place their faith in Jesus Christ have access to immortality.

1st John 5:11-12—This undeniable truth, that immortality or eternal life is only given to those who accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior,  is demonstrated beyond the shadow of a doubt in this text. It states that God has given us “eternal life” in His Son; furthermore, this passage goes on to state that he who has the Son has eternal life, but he who does not have the Son of God does not have eternal life (Case closed!). Therefore, according to the Bible, it is impossible for people without Christ to possess immortality and live forever in hell!

Genesis 3:22-24—This fact, that “fallen mankind” does not possess immortality apart from Christ, becomes obvious immediately after man’s fall, as recorded in Genesis chapter three. God found it necessary to ban Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, and also to station angels to keep them from accessing the “tree of life”. The Bible clearly states that God did this so that they could not eat from the tree of life and live forever. Therefore, the now sinful couple obviously had become “mortal beings” as a consequence of their sin, and God did not want sinful beings to become immortalized by eating from this supernatural tree of life. It is clear from this text, as well as many others that have been cited, that there was no “immortal nature” inherent within human beings after they had fallen into sin. And, according to the Bible, it is also apparent that the only means to receive immortality was by eating from the tree of life or by faith in Christ. Of course, the Bible records that God immediately cut off access to the supernatural tree, which left only “one means” to receive immortality, faith in Christ. The Bible plainly teaches that, without faith in Christ, there is nothing immortal within mankind. Therefore, it is impossible for lost sinners to live forever in hell.

Concluding Points And Questions:

The “Mathematics” Of Eternal Punishment:

Eternal torment adherents insist that you must believe that our merciful and loving Jesus, who the Bible states “has no pleasure in the death of the wicked” (Ezekiel 33:11), will torture them throughout eternity. Based on a seventy-year lifespan, and if hell’s duration was limited to one trillion years, that is the equivalent of nearly 30,000 years of torment for each and every single minute that they lived on this Earth. That equals fourteen billion “units” of punishment as recompense for every single “unit” of disobedience! And, these numbers are based on spending just one trillion years in hell. However, eternal-torment advocates tell us that lost souls will be tormented there for trillions of trillions of years! This would eventually equal millions of years of pain and agony as supposed “just punishment” for each and every second that they lived on this Earth. Any reasonable and unbiased person should certainly agree that this is pure sadism.

I ask you to honestly ask yourself the following questions, and try to answer them from an unbiased perspective.

If you had been raised in an environment with no Christian influence or teaching whatsoever, and someone told you that their God punished people fourteen-billion-fold, 30,000 years of agonizing punishment for every single minute of disobedience, would you view their God as being loving and just?

If you heard about some parents who locked their children in a hot dark room for six months each time they had been disobedient; furthermore, that once each day they placed their children’s hands on a hot stove during the entire six months of punishment; could anyone convince you that the punishment was justifiable, because the parents said that rebellion and disobedience were so offensive and repulsive in their sight, which is the reason given by eternal torment advocates to justify the eternal torture of the lost? You would totally reject and denounce such reasoning, and you know it! Yet, Christian preachers present a Heavenly Parent (God), who supposedly punishes billions of months for each act of disobedience; moreover, this Heavenly Parent doesn’t just burn the hands once each day, but He burns the entire body non-stop, every second of every minute of every hour of every day throughout the trillions of years of eternity! Is it logical and consistent to declare the parents’ conduct in my illustration to be unjust, unloving and sadistic, but to simultaneously declare that the conduct of a God, whose punishment is a billion-fold more severe and painful, is somehow just and loving? Such an assertion defies reason, logic and any sense of equitable justice. And, even more important, such an assertion defies and contradicts the testimony of Scripture, as has been proven through the dozens of biblical texts presented.

If your child, spouse or sibling was caught shoplifting a few DVD’s, then was brought before a judge, who gave your loved one the same lifetime prison sentence that he gave to brutal murderers; would you accept the judge’s argument that all violations of the law are deserving of the same punishment, because they all reflect the same selfish and disobedient spirit, which is the argument used by eternal torment advocates to justify their “one-size-fits-all” eternal punishment of the lost? You know that you would absolutely and vehemently reject and oppose this irrational argument, and that you would consider such a judicial decision and declaration to be ludicrous; moreover, you would denounce the judge’s sentence as being grossly unjust. Yet Christian preachers present a Heavenly Judge (God), who gives your lost loved ones the same sentence of eternal torment in hell that He gives to genocidal maniacs like Hitler and Stalin. Wailing and gnashing of teeth throughout the trillions of years of eternity shall be the fate of your lost child, sibling or spouse, just as it shall be for these mass-murderers and even for the devil himself, according to most Christian preachers.

Only God knows how many millions of people have chosen to reject Christ because of this sadistic teaching that portrays the God of Christianity as a vindictive, cruel and unjust tyrant. Those who choose to continue teaching this ugly and false doctrine will one day stand before Jesus Christ, the righteous Judge, to give an answer for what they have done. Remember, Jesus said that it is better to have a millstone hung around your neck, and be thrown into the sea, than to cause someone else to stumble (Mark 9:42). Only God knows how many have been caused to stumble and reject Christianity because of this ugly and distorted teaching. Romans 2:4 states that it is God’s “goodness” that leads people to repentance. Would the average person, who has not been previously “indoctrinated” with the Christian eternal torment teaching, consider it a revelation of God’s goodness for Him to punish “every minute” of disobedience with thirty thousand years of painful torment and agony?

The Christian Church must abandon this vindictive and sadistic doctrine, which presents a God of torture instead of a God of love and a God of equitable justice. If the Church refuses to do so, the rebuke spoken to Job’s friends for misrepresenting God’s character, will also be spoken to the Church. God declared that His anger was aroused against them, because they had not spoken what was right about Him (Job 42:7). Proponents of the eternal torment dogma should seriously consider these relevant words of admonition spoken by God, for they too are speaking words that are not right about God regarding their “manmade doctrine” of the eternal torment of lost sinners.

Part Three

Scriptures Used By Advocates Of The “Eternal Punishment” Of People

Matthew 18:8; Matthew 25:41—Proponents of the eternal punishment of people cite these two passages. However, Matthew 18:8 simply warns about being thrown into the everlasting fire. It does not specifically say that people will suffer there eternally. Likewise, Matthew 25:41 simply states that the wicked will be put into the everlasting fire. It does not declare that they will agonize in it forever.

Daniel 12:2—Eternal torment advocates point out that this text says that the wicked will receive everlasting contempt. Is everlasting contempt the same as suffering in pain and agony throughout endless ages? Of course not! As with the previous scriptures, this passage does not specifically refer to the eternal torment of sinners. The “Webster’s New World Dictionary And Thesaurus” defines the word contempt as, “The feeling one has toward somebody or something one considers low, worthless, etc”. So, this word simply shows how those who ignored and rejected Christ’s infinite sacrifice will be viewed. Daniel 12:2 also uses the word “shame” to describe how the wicked will be viewed. God will forever regard them as having been shameful and of “low value” because of their rejection of His beloved Son, Jesus Christ. Furthermore, this scripture actually directly contradicts the hell doctrine that is being taught today by eternal punishment proponents. It is commonly taught that the “lost” go directly to hell when they die, but this text states that they have been “sleeping” in the dust of the earth; they are not looked upon with shame and contempt until after they “awake” (are resurrected).

Jude Verses 6 and 7—Advocates of this doctrine also mention verses six and seven in the book of Jude. Verse six describes the fallen angels who are in everlasting chains. Note that it does not say that wicked people are in everlasting chains. Verse seven states that Sodom and Gomorrah are an example for us of God’s vengeance, as they suffered eternal fire. If they are an example of God’s vengeance, what can we learn from this? Is the “eternal” fire that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah still burning? No! Have the wicked inhabitants of those cities continued to live on in agonizing torment down through the centuries in that fire? No! They died in that fire, and the Bible states that this is an example of God’s vengeance. Therefore, this passage actually contradicts the eternal torment dogma.

Jude Verse 13—Sometimes verse thirteen in the book of Jude is also cited to support this doctrine. This verse states that the “blackness of darkness” is forever reserved for the wicked men described in this passage. Does this text specifically declare that these men will be tortured throughout eternity? No! It says that darkness is reserved for them. And, it is interesting that Job also refers to the grave, or place of the dead, as a place of darkness (Job 17:13). Therefore, this passage is probably referring to the darkness of eternal death, which awaits the wicked. It certainly does not state anything about suffering pain and agony throughout eternity.

Matthew 25:46—This is another text often mentioned by those who teach this doctrine. This verse proclaims that the wicked will receive everlasting punishment. Does that necessarily mean that they will be tormented in the hell fire forever? Couldn’t it simply be referring to a punishment that produces everlasting results? Isn’t the eternal death of the wicked an everlasting punishment? The wicked perish forever! It is significant that the destruction of the wicked is also called a sudden destruction in 1st Thessalonians 5:3; furthermore, it is described as a swift destruction in 2nd Peter 2:1. How can it be sudden, everlasting and swift? There is only one logical and reasonable explanation. It is sudden because it comes unexpectedly and takes the wicked by surprise. It is swift because it is accomplished in a short period of time when compared to eternity. It is everlasting because it produces everlasting results. The wicked are destroyed and gone forever.

Isaiah 66:24; Mark 9:43-48—These passages speak of the wicked being cast into a fire that will not be quenched, and these texts also mention worms or maggots that will not die. As with the other passages, these verses do not state that the wicked will be in painful torment within that fire forever. Also, these texts do not say that the wicked people themselves do not die, but rather that the “worms or maggots” don’t die. In fact, the wicked people are referred to as corpses or carcasses. The Hebrew word used is peger (when spelled in English), which literally means corpse, carcass or dead body. Therefore, this scripture contrasts, not compares, the people with the worms or maggots. The worms are alive, but the people are dead! It is also noteworthy that bodies are not eaten by maggots while they are alive. The maggots appear after the body dies and is decaying. The maggots are the result of dead bodies. This is very significant! The maggots are the “result”, and in this case, concerning the final destruction of the wicked, the result is eternal death. The wicked are destroyed and have perished forever. Therefore, the maggots do not die, because they represent that “eternal result”.

Revelation 14:9-11—This scripture is similar to the Isaiah and Mark passages we just examined. This text states that the wicked will be tormented with fire and brimstone, and that the smoke will ascend forever. Notice that it does not specifically state that the torment will last forever, but rather that the smoke resulting from that torment will ascend forever. Therefore, we still have no direct, unequivocal statement of people suffering in pain and agony forever. Smoke is the result of a fire. Long after many fires are extinguished, the smoke continues to billow and rise. Once again, the smoke is the result of the fire, and in this case concerning the final destruction of the wicked, the result is “eternal”, eternal death. Therefore, the smoke is said to ascend eternally.

Revelation 20:1-15—The other passage used by those who espouse the eternal torment doctrine is found in Revelation chapter twenty. They point out the statement in verse ten that the devil is cast into the lake of fire where the “beast” and “false prophet” are, and that they are tormented there “forever”. And, I completely agree that this will be the fate of the devil, beast and false prophet. However, it does not say that this is also the fate of wicked people in general. In fact, in verse nine, it says that the wicked are devoured in the fire! The Bible clearly states that, whereas the devil is tortured forever in the fire, the wicked are simply devoured by the fire. The Greek word for devour is katesthio, when spelled in English. This word is never used, not one single time, in all of Scripture to describe an eternally ongoing process. It always describes something that is consumed and gone. Also noteworthy, is the fact that katesthio is never used to describe the devil’s or antichrist’s/beast’s fate in the fire. Why? Because they will suffer forever as the Bible plainly states, and they will never be consumed and gone. But, katesthio is used for wicked people, because they do not suffer forever, but rather are consumed by the fire and perish. In a “last-ditch” attempt to support this hideous doctrine, some declare that the fire that devours the wicked in verse nine, is a different fire than the one that the wicked are cast into in verse fifteen. If that is true, the wicked dead would have two resurrections, because, as per Revelation 20:5,  they would be raised after the “millennium” (the thousand year period mentioned in Revelation chapter twenty), and destroyed by God in the fire described in verse nine, only to be resurrected a second time and thrown back into the fire again in verse fifteen. This is absurd, and it contradicts Scripture. Hebrews 9:27 clearly states that men die once, and then they face the judgment; not that they die twice before the judgment. Also, the death which the wicked experience, as mentioned in verse fifteen, is called their second death; but, if their “death experience” referred to in verse fifteen is in addition to their death mentioned in verse nine, then their death told of in verse fifteen would actually be their third death. Why would it be their “third death”? They would have died their first death before the millennium when Jesus returns (Revelation 14:14-20; Revelation 19:11-21). Then, they would have died their second death, as described in verse nine, after the millennium. Therefore, if their verse fifteen death is in addition to their verse nine death, the verse fifteen death would be their third death. This, of course, would also contradict the Bible. I find it amazing that preachers and theologians will even contradict other scriptures in order to maintain this dubious doctrine that portrays God as a vindictive, cruel tyrant. Obviously the fire of verse fifteen is the same fire that destroys the wicked in verse nine, and is simply “replayed” in John’s new vision beginning in verse eleven, when he states: “Then I saw”. This wording often begins a new vision for John in the book of Revelation, and his visions frequently overlap and restate previous scenes. It should also be noted that the wicked people’s experience in the fire is called a second death. It is not called an “everlasting torment”. It is certainly not a coincidence that the devil’s ultimate fate is never referred to as death, whereas the final fate of wicked people is repeatedly called “death” throughout the Bible. It is highly significant that this passage in Revelation chapter twenty clearly differentiates between the devil and wicked people, when describing their experience and fate in the hell fire. The devil’s fate in the fire is described as torment forever (Rev. 20:10), whereas the fate of wicked people is referred to as “death” and being devoured (Rev. 20:9; Rev. 20:15). When you study this passage in Revelation closely, you find that it actually contradicts the eternal torment doctrine.

Other Arguments Used By “Eternal Torment” Advocates

Redefining Death For The Wicked As Only Meaning “Separation From God”:

Many eternal torment proponents say that the real meaning of death is not to “stop living”, but to be separated from God, which they say is what happens in hell.  Therefore, they claim that when the Bible repeatedly speaks of the death of the wicked, it means the same thing as the wicked being alive in hell and separated from God. You know that someone is desperate when they find it necessary to start redefining words in an attempt to make them agree with their position.

I ask you to walk down the street and randomly ask people what it means to die or “be dead”, and you will receive the unanimous response that it means to “not be alive” or to “cease living”.  If you consult an English dictionary, you will find that the primary definitions for the words “death”, “dead” and “die” are to stop living, be no longer living, be without life, stop functioning, end or destruction.  The only exception to this unanimous understanding of the meaning of “death”, is when you’re talking to an eternal torment advocate who is trying to defend his unbiblical doctrine, and who therefore insists on redefining death as “separation from God”.

I have a question for eternal torment adherents.  If the definition of death is “separation from God”, then, to be consistent, when a “believer” dies, wouldn’t he also be “separated from God”, rather than going to heaven?  Now, at this point, if eternal torment proponents suggest that believers only go to “sleep”, and they don’t “die”; then, I must remind them that the Apostle Paul said that he was ready to “die” at Jerusalem (Acts 21:13).  Paul also said, “You are in our hearts, to die together and to live together (2nd Corinthians 7:3). And, in Romans 14:8, Paul declared, “If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore whether we live or die we are the Lord’s.” Furthermore, Revelation 14:13 states, “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on”.  It is obvious that the Bible uses the words sleep and die interchangeably to depict death. Furthermore, Scripture uses the same original Greek word for the wicked who die, as it does for the righteous who die; both the wicked and the righteous experience death. Therefore, as clearly demonstrated in the scriptures I’ve listed, believers do “die”.  And, if to “die” means to be separated from God, then believers would also be separated from God.

However, eternal torment theologians often do not stop with just redefining words in an attempt to save their sadistic doctrine, but then try to only apply their “unique redefinition” to certain situations where their redefinition is necessary to support their doctrinal position.  They do this by saying that their “separation from God” definition of death only applies to the death of the wicked, and not to the death of the righteous.  Obviously, if we’re allowed to redefine words, and then allowed to selectively use our redefinition only in certain situations when it serves our purpose, we’ve created a format that allows any error-filled doctrine to be presented as truth.

One more point needs to be made regarding this separation from God “redefinition of death” practiced by eternal torment adherents. Eternal torment proponents agree that God is omnipresent, which means that He has infinite presence; He is everywhere.  Therefore, even in hell the wicked are not actually and totally separated from God’s presence.  This point is made by David in Psalm 139:8, where David says that whether he ascends into heaven or makes his bed in hell, God is there!  So, once again, eternal torment advocates find themselves contradicting Scripture when they redefine death as meaning separation from God in hell.

However, some of these theologians still try to save their cruel doctrine by claiming that David could not have meant “hell”, but rather the “grave”, because the original Hebrew word “sheol” is also translated as “grave”, and also because, according to these theologians, the concept of hell is not presented in the Old Testament.  Unfortunately, for these theologians, they find themselves contradicting Scripture yet again.  The concept of hell, as the place of punishment for the wicked, is indeed presented in the Old Testament.  Here are just a few examples.  Proverbs 7:27 teaches that the prostitute’s house leads to “sheol”, which is obviously referring to ”hell” for the prostitute, rather than the grave, because righteous people also go to the grave.  Psalm 9:17 states that the wicked will be turned into “sheol”, which again obviously refers to “hell” for the wicked, rather than the grave, because, as previously stated, righteous people also go to the grave.

Many more examples could be given that would be similar to these two previous texts, where “sheol” is used to describe a destination that is meant for the wicked, but not for the righteous.  And, because we know that the righteous also go to the grave, the other destination that is meant for the wicked only, has to be “hell”.  However, there is another Old Testament passage that proves this point beyond the shadow of a doubt.  Isaiah 14:15 states that Lucifer, Satan, will be brought down to “sheol”!  I ask these eternal torment theologians, is Satan’s destination the “grave” or “hell”?  Obviously, Satan’s destination is hell; therefore, also obviously, the concept of hell is indeed presented in the Old Testament, being taught and reinforced in the passages I’ve listed and in others that I could have listed.  Furthermore, still more obviously, David is also referring to “hell” in Psalm 139:8, because he contrasts it with “heaven”, when he says that whether he “ascends to heaven” or lays in hell, God is there!  And, therefore, we know that God’s presence is also in hell.  After all, He is omnipresent, which means that He is everywhere.

According to the Bible, there is no place where anyone can truly be separated from God’s presence.  This whole concept is a fabrication of desperate theologians who are trying to defend an unbiblical doctrine.  Their attempt to redefine death is ludicrous and unbiblical.  As the Scriptures repeatedly state, the wicked eventually “die” in hell.  In other words, for the benefit of eternal torment theologians, they cease to live, period.

God Views All Sin In The Same Manner, So All Receive Same Eternal Death Sentence:

Eternal torment advocates say that God views all sin in the same manner. Unfortunately for them, this assertion contradicts the Bible. God does not view all sin as being the same. Jesus told Pilate that the sin of the religious leaders was greater than Pilate’s sin (John 19:11). Paul told the Corinthians that they were tolerating a sexual sin in their church that was worse than the gentiles would allow (1st Corinthians 5:1). And, it is common knowledge to any good Bible student, that there were many varying penalties for many different sins recorded in the Old Testament. Some sins bore the death penalty, but not all. Some sins were classified as being abominations, but not all. The Apostle John states that there are sins that are not onto death, and that there is sin that is onto death (1st John 5:16-17). Anyone who contends that God views all sin in the same manner is either dishonest or seriously lacking in biblical knowledge.

You Can’t Apply Human Reasoning To God’s Purposes, Such As With Eternal Torment:

Although “common sense” and logical human reasoning would certainly determine that trillions of years of punishment in the torment of hell’s eternal flames, as recompense for seventy or eighty years of life on this earth, would have to be considered as grossly unjust and unloving; nonetheless, eternal torment proponents tell us that you can’t apply human reasoning to things that deal with God’s purposes and doctrines. Unfortunately, those who make this claim find themselves, once again, contradicting Scripture. God has told us to come and reason together with Him (Isaiah 1:18). We’re told that Jesus had been reasoning with the Sadducees and Pharisees concerning their doctrines (Mark 12:28). The Bible states that on numerous occasions Paul reasoned with Jews and Gentiles, as well as with the Roman ruler, Felix (Acts 17:2; Acts 17:17; Acts 18:4; Acts 18:19; Acts 24:25). The Bible does not discourage the use of sound reasoning, but rather endorses it. In fact, it is when we forget to use “common sense” and sound reasoning that we get into trouble. God gave us brains and He expects us to use them! And, it is readily apparent that sound reasoning demands that we reject the grossly unreasonable, inequitable, unbiblical and unjust doctrine of the eternal torment of human beings. God does not practice that kind of unrighteous and inequitable justice. To the contrary, the Bible states that God judges with righteousness and equity” (Psalm 98:9).

Why Is The Hell Fire Called Eternal or Everlasting If Sinners Don’t Suffer In It Forever?

Undoubtedly the main reason that the Bible repeatedly refers to the hell fire as being eternal is because that is the accurate description of the fire. It is an eternal fire! God is accurately describing the hell fire’s duration. Do eternal torment advocates want God to use different, deceptive language to describe it? It is certainly not God’s fault that theologians have taken the duration of the hell fire, and then applied that duration to everything that is thrown into the fire. Also, it is important to remember that the fire needs to be eternal to punish the devil and his evil angels because they are “eternal beings”.

Furthermore, just because things are thrown into a particular fire does not necessitate that the items themselves will continue to burn for the entire duration of that fire. If you have told your friends to come to your home to enjoy an all-day bonfire in your backyard roasting hotdogs and marshmallows on an autumn day, does that mean that everything thrown into your bonfire will burn all day long, just because you’re making an all-day fire? Absolutely not! During the course of the day you will probably throw in some small twigs and branches that are consumed in minutes. You may also throw in some paper or plastic plates and cups from your meal, which will literally be consumed in seconds. And, there will unquestionably be logs in your fire that will burn for hours before being totally consumed and gone. You told your friends the truth when you said that it would be an all-day fire, but that did not mean that everything put into the fire would burn all day long! The various items put into your all-day fire actually burned for varying durations of time before eventually being consumed and gone. How long each item burned was determined by the composition of each item. This is a very important point. God is making an eternal fire, but that does not mean that everyone put into that fire will burn eternally. As with my all-day bonfire example, their duration of time in the fire before being totally consumed and gone, will be determined by their “sinful composition”. The more sin that is present, the longer they will burn.

Why Would God Throw Sinners In An Eternal Fire If They Will Not Suffer Forever In It?

There is a very logical answer to this logical question.  How many hell fires should God kindle to handle the various durations of punishment? Should He have a one-day fire for some; a one-week fire for others with more guilt; a one-month fire for those with even more sin; a one-year fire for those who had an abundance of sin throughout their lives; a ten-year fire for those who committed heinous sins against numerous people; and a seventy-year fire for those who are in a class by themselves, spending most of their lives murdering and torturing, such as Hitler and Stalin? I think God’s plan is much better. He uses the same fire to deal with all of the varying durations of punishment. And, He is making it eternal because it is being prepared for the devil and his angels who are eternal beings, as proven from Scripture earlier; moreover, so that it can “justly” torment them throughout eternity, because they were the ones who originated sin on this planet and who are responsible for billions of people losing their opportunity to have eternal life in heaven. Therefore, the fire must be eternal; one “logical fire” to handle all durations of punishment.

Tormenting People Forever In Hell Is More Loving Than Destroying Them In Hell:

Some try to suggest that God’s torturing people forever is more loving than destroying them in the hell fire. This ridiculous assertion is easy to make until you or your loved one is the one actually experiencing the perpetual torture. Any family who has watched a loved one suffer during the final days of an excruciatingly painful and terminal disease, knows that, out of love for the dying person, they want the suffering to stop. Although they will miss their loved one, they tell them that it’s ok to stop fighting and to pass into the sleep of death. The family’s love causes them to do this because they don’t want to have their loved one suffer for additional days and weeks when there is no hope of getting well. Now, remember that the torment in hell is not for days and weeks, but for the trillions of years of eternity, according to the eternal torment advocates. If true love causes a family to desire death for their loved one, rather than having them suffer for additional days or weeks, wouldn’t true love also desire the “lost” to die in the hell fire, rather than to suffer in it for trillions of years? Any reasonable person knows that death would be preferable to living in agonizing pain, misery, torment and suffering every day and night, year after year, decade after decade, century after century, millennium after millennium, throughout the trillions of years of a ceaseless eternity. It is an insult to God to suggest that He demonstrates His love to “lost sinners” by torturing them forever!

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