Skip to comments.Annihilation or Eternal Punishment?
Posted on 02/16/2014 8:20:17 AM PST by SoFloFreeper
Annihilationism is the view that lost people in hell will be exterminated after they have paid the penalty for their sins. Its proponents offer six main arguments.
First is an argument based on the Bibles use of fire imagery to describe hell. We are told that fire consumes what is thrown into it, and so it will be for the lake of fire (Rev. 19:20; 20:10, 14, 15; 21:8)it will burn up the wicked so that they no longer exist.
Second is an argument based on texts that speak of the lost perishing or being destroyed. Examples include unbelievers perishing (John 3:16) and suffering the punishment of eternal destruction (2 Thess. 1:8).
Third is an argument based on the meaning of the word eternal. In hell passages, it is claimed, eternal means only pertaining to the age to come and not everlasting.
Fourth is an argument based on a distinction between time and eternity. Annihilationists ask: how is it just of God to punish sinners for eternity when their crimes were committed in time?
Fifth is an emotional argument that God Himself and His saints would never enjoy heaven if they knew some human beings (let alone loved ones and friends) were perpetually in hell.
Sixth is an argument that an eternal hell would tarnish Gods victory over evil. Scripture declares that God will be victorious in the end; He will be all in all (1 Cor. 15:28). We are told that this idea seems hard to reconcile with human beings suffering endlessly in hell.
I will answer each of these arguments in turn. First is the argument from hellfire. Many passages use this language without interpreting it. It is possible, therefore, to read various views into such passages, including annihilationism. However, we do not want to read our ideas into the Bible, but to get our ideas from the Bible. And when we do, we find that some passages preclude an annihilationist understanding of hellfire. These include Jesuss description of hell in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus as a place of torment (Luke 16:28) involving anguish in this flame (v. 24).
When the last book of the Bible describes the flames of hell, it does not speak of consumption but says the lost will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night (Rev. 14:1011).
Second is the argument from passages that speak of destruction or perishing. Once again, when Scripture merely uses these words without interpreting them, many views may be read into them. But once again, we want to read out of Scripture its meaning. And some passages are impossible to reconcile with annihilationism. Paul describes the fate of the lost as suffering the punishment of eternal destruction (2 Thess. 1:8). Also telling is the fate of the Beast in Revelation. Destruction is prophesied for him in 17:8, 11. The Beast (along with the False Prophet) is cast into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur (19:20). Scripture is unambiguous when it describes the fate of the devil, Beast, and False Prophet in the lake of fire: They will be tormented day and night forever and ever (20:10). So, the Beasts destruction is everlasting torment in the lake of fire.
Third is the argument from the word eternal. In hell passages, it is claimed, eternal means only pertaining to the age to come and not everlasting. It is true that in the New Testament, eternal means agelong, with the context defining the age. And in texts treating eternal destinies, eternal does refer to the age to come. But the age to come lasts as long as the life of the eternal God Himself. Because He is eternalHe lives forever and ever (Rev. 4:9, 10; 10:6; 15:7)so is the age to come. Jesus plainly sets this forth in His message on the sheep and goats: And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life (Matt. 25:46; italics added). The punishment of the lost in hell is coextensive to the bliss of the righteous in heavenboth are everlasting.
Fourth is the argument that it is unjust of God to punish sinners eternally for temporal sins. It strikes me as presumptuous for human beings to tell God what is just and unjust. We would do better to determine from His Holy Word what He deems just and unjust.
Jesus leaves no doubt. He will say to the saved, Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world (Matt. 25:34). He will say to the lost, Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels (v. 41). We have already seen John define that fire as eternal conscious punishment in the lake of fire for the devil (Rev. 20:10). A few verses later, we read that unsaved human beings share the same fate (vv. 1415). Evidently, God thinks it just to punish human beings who rebel against Him and His holiness with everlasting hell. Is it really our place to call this unjust?
I will treat the fifth and sixth arguments together. The fifth is the emotional argument that God and His saints would never enjoy heaven if they knew loved ones and friends were forever in hell. The sixth is the argument that an eternal hell would tarnish Gods victory over evil. It is noteworthy that universalists use these same two arguments to insist that God will finally save every human being. God and His people would not enjoy the bliss of heaven if even one soul remained in hell, they argue. In the end, everyone will be saved. And God would suffer defeat if any creatures made in His image were to perish forever.
I regard these arguments for annihilationism and universalismfrom emotion and from Gods victoryas rewriting the biblical story, something we have no right to do. I say this because the Bibles final three chapters present the eternal state of affairs. The resurrected saints will be blessed with Gods eternal presence on the new earth (Rev. 21:14). And, interestingly for our present discussion, each of Scriptures final three chapters presents the fate of the unsaved:
And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. (20:10)
Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyones name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown in to the lake of fire. (vv. 1415)
But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death. (21:8)
Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. (22:1415)
The Bibles story does not end by saying, And the unrighteous were destroyed and exist no more. Neither does it say, And in the end all persons will be gathered into the love of God and be saved. Rather, when God brings His story to a close, His people rejoice in endless bliss with Him on the new earth. But the wicked will endure never-ending torment in the lake of fire and be shut out of the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, which is the joyous dwelling place of God and His people forever.
We have no right to rewrite the biblical story. Rather, we must leave it to God to define what is just and unjust and what is commensurate with His being all in all. He does not leave us in doubt about hell because He loves sinners and wants them to believe the gospel in this life.
How kind and merciful of Him to include this invitation at the end of His story: The Spirit and the Bride say, Come. And let the one who hears say, Come. And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price (Rev. 22:17). All who trust Jesus in His death and resurrection to rescue them from hell will have a part in the Tree of Life and the Holy City of God. All who do so with all the saints can say now and will say forever:
Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for his judgments are true and just. (19:12)
Well, just for instance, the Catholic Church teaching:
1035 The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, “eternal fire.”617
Either way, I don’t want to go there.
Refer to Luke 16:23. The place described is not Hell. It is Hades. The word is Strongs G68.
Hades and Hell are not the same place. See Revelation 20:14a.
"Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire."
It doesn’t make sense to me. Why would God create us, and then torture us for eternity? Why inflict so much pain? What is the point? To scare us into accepting Jesus Christ? I didn’t get this when I was a kid, and I still don’t get it.
You just can’t get enough of this, can you SoFloFreeper?
I can’t speak for God, but the point of human punishment is to change subsequent behavior.
We don’t eternally punish a child for a transgression, a swat on the butt and “a clean up this mess” suffices.
With eternal punishment there is no subsequent behavior, being that there is no “subsequent” in which to behave.
As to adults?
“It is not the fear of punishment that keeps Marines in line, it is the certainty!”. ~ Lt. Gen. Victor Brute Krulak
Our culture has lost that certainty, it seems an interested/engaged God would keep that from happening, or at lest restore it.
He wouldn't! Man sinned and God set the Salvation plan in motion!
The Lord is [...] not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
You got it Olepap...never made any sense to me either...
It would seem that way, but Eternity has no place for error or injustice, otherwise it would become corrupt. There is no room for either.
Also God is described as a 'consuming fire' - any sin gets burned up in His presence in heaven (or removed as in the Devil and his demons).
The problem is that mankind has inherited the sin nature from our forefather and is none are ready to be in the presence of God on their own.
That's why we need a Savior and that God sent one: The Lord Jesus Christ. He came to pay the penalty of the errors (sins iniquities etc) of folks like us on the Cross. And in resurrecting Himself, He has proven that death and being unable to stand in the presence of God IS NO MORE for folks like you and me.
For He is Worthy of our Love, for doing such for folks like us out of sheer Grace and Kindness.
One must understand the utter Holiness of God and the purity of what Eternity in heaven with God must be. That all human beings are eternal creatures with one of two destinies. The tragedy is that many will chose the worst of the two willfully.
God created man to have free will and that includes the freedom to either be good or not. If He hadn't given us such freedom, we would be nothing more than robots.
When we chose to sin and not live as holy beings, we became diseased (much like a drug addict is diseased).
God gave us the Cure (Salvation), but since the cure requires an abdication of sin, we have free choice to either accept the treatment or to reject it.
If we reject it, our eternal souls live forever in their diseased state (which as any addict will tell you...is living hell).
The punishment of hell is OUR CHOICE.
From a purely empirical observation, it appears that we must make that choice to accept the cure while we still have living bodies. Ergo, the state of our souls at death is irreversible. Why this is so, only God knows. But I am guessing that the souls of those who have rejected God while they were embodied merely continue to reject Him after the death of the body.
You will be re-educated quickly on how up is down and black is white.
So how is it that billions of Indians, Chinese and Japanese who have already lived and died chose to burn forever?
The percentage of (former) Asians in Heaven must be exceedingly small. Is it Justice in your opinion, that having made that choice, they suffer forever?
For relatively few who did convert, I wonder what they think about their loved one burning forever.
It is all about redemption. God made a way for us. He chose us and we must chosee Him. Redemption is a love story.
Hell was created for Satan and his followers. So if you don’t chose God you chose Satan and are free to spend eternity with him.
God doesn’t chose for you but we each chose for ourselves.
Redemption is the greatest love story ever written, and it was written for you.
I’ve experienced a mental LAKE OF FIRE while here on earth a few times..
I suspect others have as well...
What if “Lake of Fire” is just a metaphor..
How else can you be burned and not be consumed.?...
Small minds can see small images..
All Israel will be saved. God’s promises to the Jews are no less truthful and reliable than His promises to those choosing to graft into the (Jewish) People of God as followers of Christ, see Romans 9-11 inclusive. Even though some aspects of His plans remain mysteries beyond our present comprehension, we must never read or selectively interpret scripture in ways that would make Him out a liar. He will honor all of His promises, including those to the Jews as well as to Christians.
I/We, should not follow the teachings of the “Church”, but the teachings of the Word of God. You/we need to study history. Hellfire was a concocted view from the Mother Church (let him who reads understand) to scare or divide potential followers into the Church. Jesuit teaching if you ask me.
Ecclesiastes states, that “the dead know nothing” Ecclesiastes 9:5, and on the same breath—their memory, that is their consciousness is in an unconscious state, not that we forgot them...
What “Eternal Fire” represents are the PERMANENT, IRREVERSIBLE consequences of the destruction of the SOUL in the SECOND DEATH in the LAKE OF FIRE, after the SECOND RESURRECTION. The devil knows this, but he wants you to believe the GOD is a stern and unjust judge and Christians believe this lie like the law of gravity. The second is true, but the first is a flat our lie.
ASHES DO NOT BURN. This is what that means, since the same word use to describe that ‘Hellfire’ in the New Testament by Peter, referring to the destruction of SODOM and GOMORRAH, is the same Greek word used in Revelations.
My question is.... Is Sodom or Gomorrah still burning? The answer is obvious... it is now under the dead sea and definitely no light show there.
It never ceases to amaze me how the false, stubborn view of this point remains so prevalent and has such an enchanting grip on its adherents, in spite of the fact that is contradicts so diametrically what God is and respresents, which is LOVE.
John 3:16 says that “God SO LOVED THE WORLD...”, “so that NONE should PERISH” Perish, mean ‘to expire or be destroyed’ NOT to continue to have ETERNAL LIFE BURNING IN HELL... if this is so, then CHRIST DIED IN VAIN, and we all have by default of our existence “Eternal Life”, whether it be in HEAVEN or HELL.
The Great White Throne Judgement described in Revelations, refers to the Second Death and the Destruction of the SOUL, or God deleting your consciousness file from His archive, as it where, to illustrate in technological terms.
Gotta run.... but if any of you need all the pertinent chapter and verses, I would be more than happy to give you more reason to believe, from a Biblical, rather that “Traditional” perspective, that Hellfire does not exist in the popular sense. God is merciful and gives everyone what they ultimately want, to live with Him Eternally, the ONLY source of LIFE. ...or to be unplugged from HIM Permanently and perish.
Lucifer CANNOT CREATE or SUSTAIN or PERPETUATE Life, like his adherents stubbornly claim and cling to. Lucifer is nothing but a created being, but he is more than happy to deceive you all on this point. He know what is coming to him, but the claimed followers of Yeshua do not. This is a sad thing truly indeed.
“The people perish for lack of knowledge” and I would add, the prevalence of deception.
Paul explains clearly in Romans that the Jews had to reject Jesus so that he would be adopted by the non-Jewish world first. If Jesus had become the Jewish Messiah at that point, the Gentile world would have said "He's the Jewish Messiah...what has that got to do with us."
But as Paul says, after all the Gentiles that are going to accept Salvation have done so, the eyes of the Jews will be opened to the Truth.
I certainly don't understand all the ways God operates, but His Covenant is with the Jewish people (actually the Israelites...not just the Tribe of Judah) And he most certainly has a plan for them.
Now how does this all work for those Jews and Gentiles who have already died without their Salvation or who have never heard of the Messiah? I have no idea. But can be sure that the God of Israel (and thank God, the God of the rest of humanity) has a plan.
By the way, there is a wonderful book entitled Salvation is from the Jews.
And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night (Rev. 14:11)
So the Word of God does says that unless you name is written in the “book of life” you are thrown into the lake of fire. It is silent on whether God will write anyone’s name into the book of life during the judgment based on what they did. When the Word of God is silent on a subject it means that that subject is not our concern, but His.
There are many examples of people both before and after Jesus’ first coming who, obviously, have been saved. We know for sure that if we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord we will be saved and have our names written in the book of life. We know that we only come to the Father through Jesus, but there are no “magic words” that make this happen. Throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus was quite harsh to those who practiced a legalistic, formulaic, religion.
So do not worry about other people's fate. Accepting Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord means that you accept God's Plan, as written. We don't get to copy edit it, or second guess it. That is what Eve did in the Garden, and that is what started this whole mess in the first place.
In the end, God is going to separate all the evil and put it into the eternal lake of fire. All that is good, and only that which is good will be present in the new heaven and the new earth. Now is the time to chose where you want to spend eternity.
God has a line in the sand. IT IS FINAL. It is the first death. The second you die, a physical death, your fate is sealed. Saved go to heaven, unsaved go to hell, both for ETERNITY. PERIOD.
All have had their whole lives to repent and accept Him as their savior. Either you accept Him or you have rejected Him, there is no middle ground or gray area. It’s black and white, an “absolute”. All are without excuse.
I stole this.
Born once, die twice
Born twice, die once
Question: “Are you one of those “born again” Christians?”
Answer: “Is there any other kind?”
The Jews “rejected” Jesus as the messiah. What a HUGH mistake. They are still waiting for Him. When He comes, they will be surprised to find out that this is His SECOND coming. It is not too late for the living, they can still repent and accept Him.
Please don’t blame God. Scripture says it’s His will that no one perish. Anyone who ends up in Hell has chosen to do so.
The text of the article addresses the arguments fairly well, I believe.
For all our culture’s self-assured sophistication, the Scripture is pretty clear that hell exists, the inhabitants thereof are conscious, and it isn’t a place where annihilation is the end goal.
Mercy and justice are two irrevocable attributes of God. Some receive mercy, some receive justice. No one receives injustice.
No one said you need to follow. I simply shared what theologians and historians studied in the bible to come up with what they wrote in the catechism
The author shared what he found, I shared what was studied by past historians.
I really appreciate people who strongly believe either option based on the bible as opposed to heathens who believe neither.
Where do we submit our nominations (for either Hellish outcome)?
Not a mistake at all...part of the plan.
In the words of Romans 11, the Jews' blindness was so that Jesus would be adopted by the Gentile world first. Thanks eternally to the Jews for their initial blindness, so that we Gentiles can be grafted onto the "olive tree" as Paul puts it.
Here's the actual Scripture from Romans 11:24-27...
For if thou [a Gentile] wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches [the Jews], be graffed into their own olive tree?
For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.
And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:
For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.
OK, fine, let’s do this.
The text of the article addresses the arguments fairly well, I believe.
Not really. Some of its points are made simply by ignoring the annihilationist view.
For all our cultures self-assured sophistication, the Scripture is pretty clear that hell exists, the inhabitants thereof are conscious, and it isnt a place where annihilation is the end goal.
It’s not clear at all. A simple once-over of the Bible verse list in the Wikipedia article on annihilitionism proves that.
Mercy and justice are two irrevocable attributes of God. Some receive mercy, some receive justice. No one receives injustice.
There is no mercy in being annihilated. To be shown on Judgment Day the very thing you decided to throw away - eternal life - is justice. To be shown on Judgment Day that you can’t be trusted with immortality and its implications - and then to have it taken away - is justice.
The only reasons I can think of for more punishment than that are
1) They believe the soul is immortal (to which I reply Matthew 10:28),
2) They take comfort somehow in thought of others suffering forever with horrific pain.
Now, if you want to go further with me, I have some questions to ask after your next insistence that all who don’t believe as you believe will burn in anguish and pain forever in Hell.
Mat 10:28 is not a statement that there is no life after death.
No one who has truly accepted Salvation would hold such a thought.
Excellent response. When I looked deeply into this issue, the two big things which changed my view from the unsaved being eternally tortured to the unsaved being annihilated in the Lake of Fire was what does “immortality” and “second death” mean.
1 Corinthians 15:53 talks about this mortal putting on immortality. When do we become immortal? The moment we accept Jesus’s immortality which is when we are saved. Immortality means to live forever. Without Jesus no one can exist forever.
Revelation talks about the second death. This is the death, ending, of the soul. The first death is the death of the earthly body, which all (but those in the rapture) will experience. The second death is experienced by the unsaved.
It is a falsehood or a ruse by some to try to claim that people who believe the Bible supports annihilation also say there is no Hell. There is a Hell and people are there no suffering today, but one day they will face the Great White Throne judgement and then be destroyed in the Lake of Fire along with Hell and Death.
“So how is it that billions of Indians, Chinese and Japanese who have already lived and died chose to burn forever?
The percentage of (former) Asians in Heaven must be exceedingly small. Is it Justice in your opinion, that having made that choice, they suffer forever? “
The Almighty will save some who have never heard of Him, but have served Him nonetheless. The Lord will condemn those who deserve it, and reward those who deserve it. That is His to decide (or has already decided, if one believes Calvin....).
yes, it is pretty clear. not necessarily comprehensive since it had to fit publication constraints. but the source site, run by those educated in the languages of the original text and in theology, are a wee bit more trustworthy than those who cite wikipedia as a fount of knowledge.
Revelation is a complex book and should be studied. Revelations has a lot of symbology so analyzing verses is required. With that being said, Revelation 14 is talking about the tribulation of people on Earth. It is not talking about people in Hell or in the Lake of Fire. Also, descriptions like “the SMOKE of their torment assends up for ever and ever...” are not literal unless you think this smoke will break through the atmosphere and go on forever into the universe. It simply means that people’s torment during the tribulation time will be big, painful, and long lasting.
I once did something very sinful (I feel in love with another woman while married).
I can absolutely promise that I had no rest day or night, until I stopped this sin and rushed to God for forgiveness.
And, frankly, even after He forgave me, I was heartsick over my sin for years to come.
It is so incredibly easy to see that there is a hell and that there is only ONE way out of it. I know, I was there.
What! That's insane!
I read it on the interweb so it must be true!;-)
Seriously, I hope you don't (see anything yet), but what we call hell on earth does not hold a candle to the real thing!
It seems like we are not going to change each other’s minds. One day we’ll find out for sure. To my human mind, your doctrine “makes sense” but it is not what I read in the Bible, so I will stick with my beliefs. After all, when the Day comes, I won’t have anything to lose while you...
I don’t want anyone to believe what I believe simply because I believe it. I want people to study the Scriptures and learn what is the real, absolute truth. I used to believe as you and probably most Christians, but after much prayer and study I have come to believe that Scripture preaches death (as in the ending of life or existence) to those who don’t believe and eternal life to those who do.
Lastly, while I agree that this issue will be finalized after we die, I don’t understand why you posted, “when the Day comes, I wont have anything to lose while you...”
What is it that you think I will lose? I know that I am saved and will live for eternity with Jesus.
You are right of course. But I got a small taste of it...enough to know I don’t ever want to go there again.
If you are saved, I agree you have nothing to lose, because it won’t matter how is right or wrong any longer. I am sorry if I mistook you for one of those people who manage to know a lot of Bible verses without being saved. Actually, I thought you might be SDA.
Thanks for setting me straight. ;-)
I’m not an SDA, but what makes you think that all SDA aren’t saved? I used to have long spiritual discussions with a former coworker who was a SDA, and while we disagreed about a number of different issues, I am convinced he was saved.
Not personally, but Herbert Armstrong’s variety of it introduced me to the concept.
I don’t agree with some of his stuff, but it’s interesting nonetheless.