Part 01 – Is Hell eternal?
Part 02 – Scriptures used to support an eternal Hell
Part 03 – New Testament scriptures that dispel an eternal Hell
Part 04 – Old Testament scriptures that dispel an eternal Hell
Part 05 – Other resources about Hell
Whether you believe in it or not, most people’s impression of Hell is a place of eternal punishment where sinners are thrown into a fire that is never quenched. Thus, the wicked supposedly suffer excruciating pain for all eternity, similar to being placed on a spit roast forever. But is this really what the Bible teaches? Would a loving God make people suffer eternally for sins they committed in their 100, 60, 40 years of life? Certainly the Bible states that Hell is real, but Hell is not what most believers and unbelievers have been led to believe. In this writing we are going to look at scriptures that dispel this idea of Hell and show what it really is.
I would like to start with the following scripture to remind you that we should check that our beliefs line up with scripture.
These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
Most people think that Hell must be eternal because man has been created with an eternal soul, thus those that are thrown into Hell, will be alive and experience Hell for eternity. This idea is not taught in scripture however. The Bible clearly shows that man is not an eternal being. Instead what it does teach is that man can obtain eternal life.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
So clearly scripture teaches that man can inherit eternal life. Notice that eternal life is not given to all, but is conditional. The next scripture clearly teaches us that man does not and will not live forever as sinners.
22 And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.”23 So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken.24 After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.
So precautions were taken to stop man from living forever as testified in the Book of Genesis, the very book that introduces us to original sin in the first place. If man is not immortal, then logically, sinners who are thrown into Hell will not live in that Hell forever and Hell doesn’t need to be eternal either. In fact scripture testifies clearly that Hell is not forever in the following verse:
13 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.
14 And death and Hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
As you can see, Hell is temporary because Hell itself is thrown into the Lake of Fire which is the second death. So the idea that Hell is eternal is not found in scripture.
The Bible talks a lot about sinners and the wicked. In many places where the subject of the wicked is mentioned, it is often accompanied by the following three words: perish, destruction, and death. We are going to take a look at scriptures that use these words in relation to the wicked and search out what it means when it says that the wicked will perish, are destroyed, and die.
The Greek word for perish according to the Strongs Concordance, means to destroy fully, die or mar.
To understand the meaning and context of the word perish; Read the next 2 scriptures.
Colossians 2:21-22 21
21 Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”?
22 These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings.
10 He also says, “In the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands.
11 They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment.
12 You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed. But you remain the same, and your years will never end.
The following scriptures tell us that the wicked will perish too.
2 Peter 2:12
But these men blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like brute beasts, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like beasts they too will perish.
The verse you have just read shows that the wicked will be destroyed/perish like beasts. Now if that somehow means that the wicked suffer eternal torment, then we can only conclude given that argument that animals will also suffer eternal torment. Doesn’t sound right to me, I would suggest that both are destroyed i.e:, they no longer exist. Further:
1 Corinthians 15:54
When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.
I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.
All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law.
1 Corinthians 1:18
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
1 Corinthians 15:50
I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.
2 Corinthians 4:3
And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.
2 Thessalonians 2:10
and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.
1 Peter 1:23
For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.
2 Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
Even the most quoted verse in the bible teaches that the wicked will perish.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
The Greek word for ‘Destruction’ according to the Strongs Concordance, can mean the following: Perdition, waste, to die, destroying, utter destruction of vessels, ruin.
To understand the meaning and context of the word destruction; Read the next 2 scriptures.
1 Corinthians 5:5
To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
2 Peter 2:1
But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
The following scriptures tell us that the wicked will also be destroyed.
Romans 9 22
What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath–prepared for destruction?
Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.
Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things.
2 Thessalonians 1:8-9
8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.
9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power
2 Peter 3:7
By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.
2 Peter 3:11-13
11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives
12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.
13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.
Is the fire that God uses to destroy the universe the Lake of Fire itself?
Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.
The words “passed away” in the Strongs means ‘Perish’ or ‘Go away’. The words ‘Everlasting Destruction’ actually mean that they will always be destroyed. That is God’s punishment to the wicked. They will never have life. They will never come to life in the ages to come. The eternal fire that scriptures speak of is a fire with eternal consequences. Just as the fire that consumed Sodom is compared to the the judgement to come, ask yourself, is Sodom still burning?
28 “It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. 29 But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all.
30 “It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed.
The Greek word for ‘Death’ according to the Strongs Concordance, means the separation of 2 things, such as the body and soul, man and God, man and sin.
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Notice here that we either earn life or death. The idea that man will live for eternity and suffer in Hell defies the meaning of death. The most common application or meaning of death is when our body is separated from our soul. This form of death happens to all men (with a few exceptions) and does not mean annihilation. Yet not all are considered wicked even though we all die. This death is the result of original sin, i.e., death came to all men because of Adam’s transgression. Both the righteous and wicked suffer this death alike.
But there is a more serious death than the separation of body and soul, it is the total separation of man from God. While many are separated from God and do not know him, they live because of the spirit/breath of God that they received at the beginning of their life. Adam became a living soul when God breathed into him the breath of life. A believer who is one with God is no different to the wicked in that both have this breath of God that makes them alive. True sons of God however are connected to God and are linked by his Spirit. Even a baptism of his Spirit. John tells us that we know that we are the sons of God because our spirits bear witness of that fact. But what is the result if we were completely cut off from God? It really means that to be cut off from life itself because life comes from God. Imagine a branch that is snapped off a tree. It withers up and dies just as we do. It doesn’t remain alive in a state of decay forever. This is what spiritual death is like. It is when both body and soul is destroyed and never to be given life again. In other words, eternal death.
Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in Hell.
If you understand what it is to kill the body, then extend that understanding to a human soul that is wicked. God has the power to destroy souls.
Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.
In a sense, the second death is the final solution for the wicked. Once they are cut off completely from God and his goodness, they do not have life and their suffering ends.
On this point, I leave you with a verse that aptly summarizes the truth that sinners lose their lives and are destroyed:
What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?
Remember we are reminded in scripture that we should not fear man because he can only destroy our body, rather fear God because he has the power to destroy both body and soul in Hell forever.
Destruction, death, and to perish is actually God’s mercy to the wicked if you think about it because to have eternal life with suffering for sins committed for the finite period of our lives seems beyond what a just God of love would do. Most people even sinners know instinctively that an eternal life of suffering is tantamount to the worst torture that anyone could endure. To say that God would do this seems hard to accept for many. Scripture even condemns when people hurt others or torture them. How much worse would it be to make someone suffer for eternity. Some would argue and say that God’s ways are not man’s ways and so it matters not what we think and that would be true, but the scriptures I have quoted in this writing are also true and they clearly dispel the idea that God tortures human souls for eternity for the sins committed while in the body.
Nevertheless, some people may still think God is evil for destroying the wicked and that he should save all men regardless. But ask yourself what he is to do. He has already offered them life with him and they said no. And God may be all powerful, but he gifted each person with a sovereign will. That means we are free to choose God or to reject him. And if we choose him, then we have life. And when we reject him, we reject life. How much fairer can you get. You then might think, well why doesn’t God just override our free will and save us all anyway. Well that would mean that we would be a race of robots and not made in the image of God. We would be forced to love God and live with him. This in effect would mean that we do not love him because we are programmed or forced to love him instead. We would be mere cogs in a machine. Characters with no life of our own.
With true love comes risk. Even in our human relationships, love is risky. At anytime the love of our life can decided to leave us. If we were to negate that with say hypnosis where we were able to hypnotise someone to love us, or we forced someone to love us, would that be true love. It would not be love at all. Likewise with God, when he creates each one of us, he gives us a sovereign will to choose him or to reject him and so sovereign is our will that God honours it even if we reject him. In a sense this is what the Tree of Life and the Tree of Good and Evil was in Eden. It was the way that man was able to choose God or reject him.
A person may then ask, what if I am saved, but only to reject God at some future time. Or, if we are saved and inherit eternal life, then surely at some point we may sin just as these angels or Adam sinned? Well scripture is clear that this will not happen. Once we are saved in this age, we cannot and will not sin in the ages to come. Scripture teaches us that when we have been tested as we are here on Earth, and we choose and love God, then he promises that we can never die and never sin in the ages to come. A comforting thought if you were concerned about that.
Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Believe you this?
2 Peter 1:4
Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
1 John 3:9
No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.
Remember this, sin has been defeated and there is no sin in Heaven and creation after the Second Death. The elect angels and the elect (men) no longer have the ability to sin because they have chosen God during a time when there was a choice to live in sin. Once sin is completely dealt with and eradicated, we can no longer choose to sin. This may even been part of God’s long-term plan to populate Heaven with those that have chosen him because they love him.
Finally I would like to show you God’s heart regarding the fate of sinners. I want to show you that he takes no pleasure in their sin nor their destruction.
Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn from your evil ways!
- Continue to Part 4: Old Testament scriptures that dispel the traditional view of Hell