When I was 17 years old I started thinking about hell and could not for one second believe that God would take someone and punish them forever. I concluded that if God is a loving God, there is no way he could punish anyone for eternity, that would be cruel and that goes against his character. Later in life through studying the Bible I found that I was right, here are some of the verses that were shown to me:
This sums it up best
1 Corinthians 15:50-57
Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory. “O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:50-57 tells us that we are NOT immortal, everyone is MORTAL. We have to earn our immortality. This is what people deny when they claim that sinners will burn in hell forever. How can this be if they haven’t earned immortality? Just to enhance this, I’ll add
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
perish = exist no more. You can’t be in hell once you parish. Parish is referring to the second death.
Then death and Hades (hell) were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.
Just as Sodom and Gomorrah no longer exist, neither will death and hell exist.
“Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine. *The soul who sins will die.”
* the soul dies, and if the soul is dead, how can it burn in hell forever?
*The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.
* again, the soul dies.
God gives us an example of punishment in eternal fire:
just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.
Sodom and Gomorrah are not still burning, they were burned up and are now gone.
Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years
“But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
Second death, death = What is death? To exist no more.
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.”
Second death… Death does not mean life (eternal) in hell, it means death.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he will never see death.”
For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.
These verses are clear, hell has an end. Look at it this way, lets say someone like Hitler ends up in hell. After 6 billion years go by God says, that’s only the beginning…. Does that sound like a loving God? Since when does punishment have to be forever? There has to be a time when your punishment is fulfilled, even for Hitler. If I feel that punishing forever is wrong, how much more will a perfect and loving God feel it’s wrong. A God of love would have a time when the price is paid.
We need to think of this as well. In heaven, we will have worries, no sorrow, well, how can we have no sorrow if we know people we loved that didn’t make it to heaven are burning forever? Forever and ever with no end? The Father in heaven is a just God and a loving God.
So why all the confusion?
The first thing we need to know in understanding the Bible is that translations often do not mean what we think, and to really understand the true meaning of many Biblical things is to know what the original language meant. Even the English language doesn’t always mean what we think. Fag used to mean cigarette, now it means homosexual. Bad can mean not good or cool. Cool used to mean low temperature but now it can mean good, like “that’s a cool car”.
If you want to know the Bible, you need to study it harder than just reading the English translation. Biblehub.com makes this easier, as you’re reading a verse you can click a link on the top of the page that will show the English translation side by side with the original language. From there you can choose words in the original language and look them up.
That being said….
The meaning of the word eternal or everlasting. In English these words mean to go on forever, but in the Greek it has a different meaning. Dr. Basil Atkinson explains it this way.
“When the adjective aionios, meaning everlasting is used in Greek with nouns of action it has reference to the result of the act, not the process. The phrase everlasting punishment is comparable to everlasting redemption and everlasting salvation, both Scriptural phrases. No one supposes that we are being redeemed or saved forever. We were redeemed and saved once for all by Christ with eternal results. In the same way the lost will not be passing through the process of punishment forever but will be punished once and for all with eternal results. On the other hand the noun ‘life’ is not a noun of action, but a noun expressing a state. Thus life itself is eternal.”
Something else that is necessary in Bible study is looking for clear meaning.
Revelation 14:11, “And the smoke of their torment ascends up forever and ever.”.
Many use this to show sinners are tormented forever but it doesn’t say that, it says the smoke ascends forever, not the tormenting.
Here is something written by Tony Nungesser and Gary Amirault in an article called “Eternal” Punishment (Matthew 25:46) Is NOT Found In The Greek New Testament”. The article can be found here.
The entire concept of eternal or everlasting punishment hinges primarily on a single verse of Scripture– Matthew 25:46. This is the only place in the entire Bible where we find these two words together AND only in some Bibles. There are over a dozen English translations which do NOT contain the concept of “eternal punishment” on ANY of their pages, NOR the pagan concept of Hell.
The Greek form for “everlasting punishment” in Matthew 25:46 is ”kolasin aionion.” Kolasin is a noun in the accusative form, singular voice, feminine gender and means “punishment, chastening, correction, to cut-off as in pruning a tree to bare more fruit.” “Aionion” is the adjective form of “aion,” in the singular form and means “pertaining to an eon or age, an indeterminate period of time.” (Note: the two words in many, not all translations become reversed when bringing the Greek into English, that is, “kolasin aionion” literally punishment everlasting is reversed to everlasting punishment so as to make better sense in English.)
“Aionion,” as shown above, is the singular form of the adjective of the Greek noun “aion.” Many people unfamiliar with the Greek do not realize that the endings of the same word change (inflection) to indicate its mood, case, gender, etc. Therefore, “aionion” may appear with different endings. “Aionion, aioniou, aionios,” for example, are all different inflections of the adjective form of the noun “aion.”
The noun “aion” in Greek literature has always meant “an indeterminate period of time. It could be as short as the time Jonah spent in the belly of a fish (three days or nights even though the KJV has him in the “belly of Hell” “forever,” obviously a mistranslation; see Jonah 2:2, 2:6.), the length of a man’s life, or as long as an age.
The Bible speaks of at least 5 “aions” and perhaps many more. If there were “aions” in the past, then aions must have an end. The New Testament writers spoke of “the present wicked aion” which ended during that very generation. Obviously, it was followed by another “aion”– the “aion” in which we presently live. If there are “aions” to come, it must mean that this one we live in will also end.
There is a verse which says “the consummation of the aions” proving that each “aion” ends. So how can they be eternal?
There is “the coming eon” (Matt.10:30, Luke 18:30
There is “the present wicked eon” (Gal.1:4)
There is “the oncoming eons (future)(Eph.2:7)
There is “the conclusion of the eon (present) (Mt.13:39,40)
There is “the secret concealed from the eons (past) (Eph.3:9)
Plainly, the Greek word “aion” transliterated “eon” cannot mean “eternal.” A study into the Greek of the Biblical period and before will bear this out.
“Aionion” is the adjective of the noun “aion.”
Since grammar rules mandate an adjective CANNOT take on a greater force than its noun form, it is evident that “aionion” in any of its adjective forms (ios, ou, on) CANNOT possible mean “everlasting” or anything remotely indicating eternity or unending time.
For example, “hourly” cannot mean “pertaining to days, weeks, months, or years. The word MUST mean “pertaining to an hour.” Therefore, “aionion,” the adjective form of the noun “aion” which clearly means a period of indeterminate TIME, CANNOT mean, “forever and ever, eternal, everlasting, eternity, etc.” or other words which connote timelessness or unending ages.
Therefore, those many Bibles which do NOT contain the teaching of everlasting punishment or Hell are true to the original languages of Greek and Hebrew. Those which teach everlasting punishment or Hell are false. Scholars are just as easily subjected to the “traditions of the elders” as the rest of us. It’s time to let the original Greek and Hebrew languages of the Bible break down the traditions of men.
There is another good article on this called “How long does hell burn for?”, click here to read it.