Everlasting Punishment

Everlasting Punishment

(The following study is unedited. I did not want to bother someone with the task of editing this. I hope you can overlook the editing errors and get some good out of this study.)

Preface

I have always believed in Hell as a place of everlasting or eternal punishment. It never crossed my mind to believe otherwise, until last year when a brother in the Lord mentioned to me, “you do know that in the end, Hell is going to be destroyed and everyone that doesn’t make heaven will just be destroyed. They will both just cease to exist. You do know this, don’t you?” I must admit, I was a little shocked at the question. I had always thought everyone had believed otherwise. So, I just sat there listening to him explain his beliefs on the subject, still dumbfounded and in shock.

Since that time, I have heard two other believers say, “How could a God of love send anyone, or punish anyone to everlasting Hell?”
So, for the past several months on and off, I have been studying on the subject of Hell. I cannot find completely, where we could come up with such a belief, as to say there is no everlasting punishment. There are a few scriptures that could lead one to think or believe so, but in the end I have found that the over all consensus of the word of God is that there is such a place of everlasting punishment, called Hell.

I believe that this day and age we live in, we have lost some of our biblical understanding of the character of God, as contained in both the old and New Testament. We have let the churches and the world shape our view of how God is. Whether we like the fact or not our world, our media, our music both secular and Christian has played a big but subtle part in shaping our understanding of God’s true character. We have been influenced more than we realize. God’s true character can only be found in His word. I believe its past time that we study the character of God, with a prayerful heart and an unbiased mind. It’s going to be very important in the days that lye ahead.

I would also like to mention that my motivation for this study was not because I’m a hell-fire and brimstone preacher. I love to share about God’s love, grace and mercy, and I do so almost daily. Over the years, this  understanding of Hell has helped me to have the love, care and concern for the lost. It is my hearts desire to know God and understand His ways, not mans, nor the worlds ways.
May God bless you in this study.

EVERLASTING PUNISHMENT

Understanding the word “Hell”

To try and understand this subject of “everlasting punishment”, let’s look at the word “Hell”. The Hebrew (Old Testament) word is “Sheol” which means, “The world of the dead, as if a subterranean retreat, grave, pit”. In some scripture contents it makes reference to, “beneath” or “down”. Also, death is mentioned in a few cases along with “Sheol”.
In the New Testament we have, “Gehenna” which means, “a place or state of everlasting punishment”. We also have the word, “Hades”, “unseen, the place or state of departed souls, grave”. The word closely resembles “Sheol”. In one scripture (2 Pet. 2:4), it mentions the word, “Tartarus” which means, “the deepest abyss of Hades, to incarcerate in eternal torment, cast down to Hell”.

To begin to understand “Hell”, we see where there is a difference between the two words, “Gehenna” and “Hades”. It is important to note that, “Gehenna” speaks of “everlasting punishment”. The word “everlasting” means, “Perpetual, eternal, forever”. “Hades” on the other hand means, “the place or state of departed souls, the grave”. There appears to be a big difference between the two words. The differences here are very important to note as we look into many scriptures that speak of both types of “Hell”.

What did Jesus teach?

First off, I am of those that believe that what Jesus taught or spoke about is of most importance. It doesn’t really matter what I say or think. What did Christ say or teach, that should be the most important. Good books, good teachers and good preachers are all fine and well, but Christ is what should really matter the most.

Regarding our study on “everlasting punishment”, should we not go to the word of God and see if Jesus spoke or taught on the subject? If He did, should we not obey or believe it? Should we call it truth? Let us proceed on.

Jesus spoke twice about “everlasting fire”. In Matt.18:8, warning against becoming stumbling blocks he said, “….it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather that having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire”. In Matt. 25:41, the parable of “the sheep and goats” he taught, “Then shall he say also unto them (the goats) on the left hand, depart from me ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:”(see also,Rev.20:10) We need to understand here, that this is Jesus teaching about what will happen when he returns at the last judgment. Those who did not feed the poor, those who didn’t take in strangers, cloth the poor, visit the sick, they will say, “when did we see you in these conditions?” Then Jesus said, “Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.” And then, he finishes with these piercing words, “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment:” To refresh our memories, “everlasting” means, “perpetual, eternal, forever”.

With what we have studied so far, how can we say that there is no “everlasting punishment?” What did Jesus teach or say? He mentioned “everlasting fire”, “everlasting punishment” for a reason; there must be a place such as this.

Fire, in relationship to Hell

Without a doubt, scripture revels that in Hell there will be fire. Jesus talked about “fire” in relationship to Hell around twenty times in scripture. He even mentioned about “hell fire” in a couple of verses. He talked about “unquenchable fire” What does that mean? Does it mean a fire that cannot be put out?
The Greek meaning for “unquenchable” is “not extinguished, perpetual, not to be quenched”. Jesus talked about “the fire that shall never be quenched” and “where their worm dies not” in Mark 9:43-48. Why would Jesus say in regards to Hell, that this fire would never be quenched, if it was not going to be?

More about “Hades”

A very important factor in understanding Hell and it’s meaning, is the word “Hades”. Its meaning again is, “unseen, the place or state of departed souls, grave”. It appears 10 times in the New Testament. It is important to note that “Hades” is not a place of “everlasting punishment” where “Gehenna” is.

In the story of “The rich man and Lazarus” (Luke 16:19-31) “the rich man died, and was buried; and in Hell (Hades) he lifted up his eyes, being in torments,” Here we see that those in Hades will be tormented in body as was the rich man. Also, this was no cool place; he was “tormented in this flame”. It speaks of “his eyes”, “he saw Abraham afar off and Lazarus in his bosom”. “Send Lazarus, that he may “cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame”.

The book of Revelations reveals some things about “Hell”.

First off, we notice in Rev.1:18 that Jesus is speaking of himself and says, “I have the keys of Hell (Hades) and of death”. The word “keys” is taken from the Greek word, “Kleio” which means, “to close or shut up”.

In Rev.6:8, John “looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell (Hades) followed with him.” In these two scriptures we see that “Death and Hades” are mentioned together. If we continue on in the book of Revelation we see the final deciding factor about “Hell” (Hades) and “Death”. John here is describing “the last Judgment”. This is crucial in our understanding about “everlasting punishment”. In verse 12 of the 20th chapter we read, “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works”. Here we see the importance of our life. Our life works which are contained in the “books”, we will be judged out of these. The most important question here is, “Is our name written in the book of life?”

Continuing on in verse 13 we read, “And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works”. In this verse we see that “Death and Hell (Hades) delivered up the dead which were in them”. Just as a reminder, “Hades” is an “unseen place, the place or state of departed souls, the grave”. Verse 14 explains what will happen to both “Death” and “Hades” in the end. “And death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death”. This may be where people get the thought, “don’t you know that in the end, Hell will be destroyed, it will be no more?” Yes this is correct, but let us remember it is talking about “Hades” not “Gehenna”. This is the major difference here. It is important that we understand this verse. The “lake of fire” is the “second death”. In the next verse, verse 15 we see who else will be cast into this “lake of fire” besides “Death and Hades”. “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire”. I cannot find anywhere in the scriptures that says, “the lake of fire” will be destroyed, will cease to exist in the end. This lake of fire and brimstone is the second death, according to Rev.20:14 and 21:8.

I would like us to be reminded, that God’s word does talk about “God’s wrath”. Again, it would be good for us to study the complete nature of God, as far as the scriptures reveal him. In the book of John, chapter 3 verse 36, John the Baptist says, “He that believes on the Son has everlasting life: and he that believes not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abides on him”. Outside of the Son of God, if we don’t believe on Him, we shall not see life, and also God’s wrath in the end will come upon us. Wow! Let’s face it the fact, we don’t like to think along this line. It’s way too harsh! There is no love in wrath! It is truly the opposite of love. However, it is a part of the nature of God, like it or not. How can this be? We must remember the many scriptures that describe God as Righteous and Just. This goes back to what I mentioned earlier about studying the “balanced character of God”. It’s needful now more than ever.

Back to the “lake of fire”, the second death. In Rev.20:10 we see that the devil will be cast into the “lake of fire and brimstone” along with the false prophet and the beast. Now we need to notice that this “lake of fire” torment will be “day and night for ever and ever”. If we jump down to verse 15 of the same chapter it says, “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire”. My question here is, How can this “lake of fire” that will be “day and night for ever and ever” be any different than the “lake of fire” contained in other passages of scripture? The “lake of fire” which is the second death will burn for “ever and ever”. This goes right along with all the other scriptures that speak of “everlasting fire”, “everlasting punishment”, and “everlasting burnings”. Again, Jesus himself mentioned, “unquenchable fire”, “everlasting fire” and “everlasting punishment”. If it were not so, why did he teach it?

In the end, I will have to go with what Jesus taught on the subject. And also with what is found in the book of Revelation as regarding the final judgment. It does make since to me. I know it’s very hard to imagine that “everlasting punishment” is real, but the Word of God is clear.

May God help us to have a proper understanding of Hell and what it is going to be like. In having the proper understanding, it should help us to “rescue the perishing” and “care for the dieing” and “snatch them in pity from sin and the grave”.

Just as a foot note, the most popular verse in the New Testament is often said to be, Jn.3:16. In this verse, it says, “should not perish”. The word “perish” here means, “to destroy fully”. This was Jesus speaking here, not Dr. so and so. or pastor so and so, this was Jesus.

May God bless you all,

Richard

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13 Responses to “Everlasting Punishment”

  1. justinbbaxter Says:

    Very interesting interpretation on the concept of hell. I do hope though you will consider a much more thorough examination of the “greek” and “hebrew” you have cited. The greek word Gehenna actually is from the hebrew גי(א)-הינום Gêhinnôm, which means Valley of Hinnom’s son. This particular valley forms the southern border of ancient Jerusalem. It is mentioned in Joshua 15:8. This particular valley was used as a garbage dump where they kept fires burning to get rid of all the refuse. It was also where bodies were dumped, primarily those who were criminals, poor, and religious despisers. This is just one example of how to take into account how the words we use have come to be. This is not to dispute the exsistence of hell, rather in offering a “study” one should offer every possibility before solidly stating their conclusion. Peace.

  2. justinbbaxter Says:

    Sorry, one more thing. You said, “it should help us to “rescue the perishing” and “care for the dieing” and “snatch them in pity from sin and the grave.” I would hope that we put that to Christ, as he in his life, death, and resurrection accomplishes the forgiveness of sins and saving us from death. Not we.

  3. Bill Says:

    Thank you for your writing.

    I’ve been witnessing regularly for a little less than a year now. It started a couple years ago when I realized that the majority of people I see every day are going to spend eternity in hell. If Christians really believe that hell is real, and eternal, why aren’t we doing whatever it takes to warn people? Most of us are completely disobedient to the Great Commission.

    I caught an episode of “Way of the Master” on TBN (even though there are very few good shows on that channel). They would go up to strangers, and walk them through a few of the Ten Commandments. In Romans 3, it says the law (the Ten Commandments) will stop a sinner’s mouth, and help them understand what sin is. Galatians 3:24 says the law is a schoolmaster to bring people to Christ. It was amazing to see these verses come to life on TV. (Ray Comfort explains it better than I ever could in “Hell’s Best Kept Secret.”)

    I was still scared to witness to anyone until I actually watched someone else do it, and then they kind of shoved me into talking to the next couple we ran across. I love it when someone admits they’ve broken God’s law, and then agree that hell is the proper punishment. Then, to give them the gospel is truly a great experience.

    I think that Christians are scared to witness, and often have no idea what to say. Since I’ve overcome my fear (at least some of the time), I’ve been on the greatest adventure of my life. The Bible is more fascinating than it has ever been. My prayers are for the people I’ve talked to, and much less about myself. My church is supportive of me, but no one else has been interested in joining me, but I continue to pray for laborers.

  4. rjperalta Says:

    Thanks Justin for your reply.
    Yes, your meaning of the word “Gehenna” is also correct. The word used figuretivly means, “as a name for the place (or state) of everlasting punishment – hell. And this is of course, the subject of our study.

    Regarding your second comment.
    That was taken from an old song of long ago. And yes, we put it all to Christ.
    All we do is by His Grace. We spread the seed, God gives the increase.

    Amen, His life, death, and resurrection gives us the forgiveness of sins and thus saves us from death, and gives us eternal life!
    Right on, brother.

    Much Grace to you,
    Richard

  5. rjperalta Says:

    Bill, thanks for your reply.
    In my opinion, truer words could not be said regarding you first paragraph.
    Awesome. I’m encouraged by brother’s like you. Praise Him!

    Yes, I use to watch “way of the master”, but we no longer have cable.
    My only caution there is to remember that in witnessing, the Holy Spirit must come first and lead you each and every time. Each person is different, there needs are different. Some will need showers of love to reach them, why? Because maybe no one ever showed them love. Others might need a little firmer approach. The proud person, definitely needs God’s Moral law to break down that pride and show them their need.

    Remember, there is no canned formula in evangelism. I have found it so.

    I agree, there is nothing like giving someone The Gospel, and watching them receive it. What can bring greater joy, besides knowing Christ?

    Your last comment about Christians being afraid to share, is so true. Most don’t make it a priority in there life. “Let the Evangelist do it”
    Some are called to be an Evangelist, all are called to evangelize.

    I join you in praying for the laborers.

    Much Grace to you,
    Richard

  6. Michelle Says:

    Thanks for writting that…very good to keep in my mind.

    Always stick with the Word, no matter how people themselves, or even our thoughts interpret it…stick with what it says.

    Love you.

  7. rjperalta Says:

    Thanks Michelle,
    “thy word is a lamp unto our feet”

    Like the subject “sin”, “hell” is not real popular these days, but very needful.

  8. Desi Says:

    I admire the research that you have done into this as I have also been doing the same for quite some time. The thing that I always find so interesting is how certain I have been at times only to come across more information that leads to re-questioning. Due to the fact that I find myself often at this point I now view good questioning as a good place to be.
    Here are a few of my findings. In Revelations 20:10 the Greek translation of these words “ever & ever” don’t necesarily lean towards a view of eternity, but more towards the idea of an “undefined period of time” or “age”. The same word has been translated as “ages” in Col. 1:26, but we thank God that in this case it does not mean that this mystery was hidden for all of eternity.
    I think that another better clue is to do a Greek study on Jesus’ words in Matt. 25:46. We read “everlasting punishment”, everlasting comes from the Greek root “aion” (see Strong’s # 165) which could also be translated then as “ages & ages” & punishment comes from the Greek root “kolasis” (see Strong’s # 2851) which could be translated at correction or even as pruning as seen by the Greek root “kolazo” (Strong’s # 2849).
    I am far from saying that I have an answer to my questions by pointing out these few verses. I am saying that there are still so many things that I have consistenty uncovered that make it difficult for me to make any sort of a stand at this point. I enjoy hearing the journeys of others & enjoy sharing my own as we all wrestle with these things.
    I look forward to hearing back from you.
    Desi

  9. rjperalta Says:

    Thanks Desi for stopping by.

    I’m not quite sure where you came up with “ever” as an “undefined period of time”?
    Yes, the word does mean “age”. But we must look at all meanings to get the over all meaning of the word. It also means, “perpetuity”, “course”, “eternal”, “(for) ever (more)”
    The word, “Perpetuity” means, “eternity”.
    “Perpetual” means, “continuing forever : “everlasting”

    “everlasting” in Matt.18:8 and Matt.25:41 means, “perpetual” also, “eternal”, “forever”, “everlasting”.

    The word, “punishment”(#2851) means, “infliction”, “punishment”, “torment”. Figuratively speaking it means, “to chastise, punish”

    Just a reminder, that we need to look at all the meanings of a word to get a proper understanding. Also, we need to get the text in which it was found.

    God bless you in your study,
    Thanks again for stopping,
    Richard

  10. Pastor Maru Sunday Says:

    Thank you so much for this article, it is the message that is lacking today which need to be preach and remind ourselves of the danger of complacency and lukewarmness. We no longer evangelise and we seem to be after money in the church than after the souls. We have relegated the great commission to the background. It is very painful to see christian been ashame of themselves before the unbelievers. May the Lord help us.

  11. rjperalta Says:

    Pastor Maru Sunday,
    Thanks for stopping by.
    Hell is certainly not a popular message today. I will agree with your comment regarding evangelism and money in the church. Oh, may the Great Commission rise to the forefront! Yes, it is painful to see.
    Yes, and may God help us all.
    His Grace to you,
    Richard

  12. cindyinsd Says:

    Hey, Richard

    Thanks for stopping by my blog. This has been a good read. I’m wondering whether you read David’s post that I linked, as he addresses a few of the things you’ve said here. I agree with you that aeonic, though its literal meaning is ‘ages’, seems most likely to refer to eternity. Just as we conscript old words to refer to new concepts, it looks to me like that’s what was done with aeonic. (note: this is my opinion and I’m not a Greek or Hebrew scholar by any means.)

    That said, as David mentions (you can find his post linked from mine), these verses on the punishment being eternal could just as (or more) reasonably be taken to mean that when God destroys body and soul in hell, they are destroyed and will not be resurrected in some future age. Of course the universalists will tell you that the word ‘eternal’ in that reference is really aeonic, and means a period of time, so they do have a leg to stand on. I don’t expect to become a universalist, but I didn’t expect to consider an argument against hell being a state of perpetual (as opposed to terminal) burning either, so I’ll refrain from saying they’re wrong, though in my opinion they are wrong.

    In searching on my e-sword bible for all the references to ‘soul’ (and other things), I was mildly surprised to discover that I could find no where any reference to the human soul or spirit being eternal, or aeonic, either (except for one off-hand remark in a commentary). You could help me out here if you know how to substantiate this doctrine. I’m not baiting you–I mean it. I couldn’t find it, and if it’s there anywhere I’d love to have you or anyone else point it out. It would help me in my study of this topic.

    To be honest, I’m almost fully persuaded David is right in his point of view, but I’m not setting it in stone. I can be swayed if someone has a convincing argument. So far I haven’t heard anything he hasn’t refuted in at least a credible manner.

    Plus, I don’t see this doctrine as necessary to persuading people to believe on Jesus. Jesus said that no one could come to Him except the Father draw him, and everyone the Father gave Him would come to Him, and He would not reject or cast out any that came. From that, I infer that God can persuade people to turn to Him without frightening them.

    I’ve seen a lot of people “pray the prayer” after a convincing presentation of the terrors of hell and the sorrows of missing out on Heaven, but I can’t honestly say I’ve seen even one of them become a follower of Jesus in their lifestyle. Not to say it hasn’t happened–I’m sure it has–only I suspect it’s rare.

    So . . . long enough. I appreciate you, Brother, and am grateful for a person with whom it’s possible to have a reasoned dialogue without emotional stuff getting in the way.

    Love in Him, Cindy

  13. Richard Says:

    Cindy,
    Thanks for the comment. I briefly took a look at David’s post. I don’t have the time to comment on it. However, I will comment on your comment next time, then go over and check out David’s post later.
    I will say that I am no theologian. I am not highly educated either. I try and go with The Teacher, The Holy Spirit, verses books and man’s teachings.
    More later…..
    Love in Christ,
    Richard

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