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Hell Fire | Would an Eloah of Love Burn Sinners Forever?

The King James Version (KJV) is mostly used in these lessons. Click here to access the KJV online.
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We have restored on the WLC website, in the Scriptures quoted the Names of the Father and Son, as they were originally written by the inspired authors of the Bible.  Click here to download the Restored Names Version (RNV) of Scripture.  The RNV is a non-WLC resource.  -WLC Team

The doctrine of an eternally burning hell is believed by millions of Christians. This belief is the outgrowth from the idea that a soul will never die whether is it righteous or wicked, but will live forever either in heaven or hell.

Let's study the Bible and find the truth about hell fire.

No Endless Torture

1. What is the Bible meaning of the word “Hell”?

Answer: There are three definitions:

A. Hell sometimes means the grave. The Hebrew word widely used for grave is sheol. In Psalm 16:10, we have it rendered hell, referring to the grave. In Acts 2:27, this Scripture is quoted by Peter. In this verse, the Greek word for hell is hades meaning grave, the same as sheol in the Hebrew. As you know, the New Testament was originally written in Greek. In Acts 2:31, Peter definitely says that Psalm 16: 10, the verse we speak of, refers to Yahushua's resurrection. Yahushua was not left in hell, that is, not in the grave, but was raised from the dead. The word, hades, is used eleven times in the New Testament. In I Corinthians 15:55, it is translated grave. Otherwise it is translated hell signifying the grave or state in the grave.

B. Hell also signifies a place of burning. In the New Testament the word is Gehenna, or the Valley of Hinnom, described as a deep, narrow glen, south of Jerusalem, where, after the introduction of the fire deities of Ahaz, the idolatrous Jews offered their children to Moloch. In this Valley of Hinnom, the bodies of dead animals and the refuse of the city were cast. Fires burned continuously, and worms infested the carcasses of animals. What the fire did not destroy, the worms consumed. It thus was a type of complete annihilation. Gehenna, the place of burning, is used twelve times, being translated hell.

C. Hell sometimes represents darkness and the third meaning of the word, hell, is found in 2 Peter 2:4. Yahuwah spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment. The Greek word here is Tartarus, not Gehenna or hades. In this text, hell represents the darkness that enshrouded Satan and his angels, when they were separated from Yahuwah, and heaven and the darkness that has come to earth because of the presence of the prince of darkness. Isaiah 60:2.

2. Will the wicked be rewarded with salvation?

“Salvation is far from the wicked: for they seek not Thy statutes.” Psalm 119:155.

3. What will the sinner be rewarded?

“After thy hardness and impenitent heart treasures up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of Yahuwah.” Romans 2:5.

4. In what will their fate consist?

Answer:

A. Cut off and rooted out. “The wicked shall be cut off from the earth, and the transgressors shall be rooted out of it.” Proverbs 2:22. “Such as be blessed of Him shall inherit the earth; and they that be cursed of Him shall be cut off.” Psalm 37:22. See also verse 9.

B. Cast out. “Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 22:13.

NOTE: “The wicked receive their recompense in the earth. Proverbs 11:31. They shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith [Yahuwah] of hosts. Malachi 4:1. Some are destroyed as in a moment, while others suffer many days. All are punished according to their deeds. The sins of the righteous having been transferred to Satan, he is made to suffer not only for his own rebellion, but for all the sins which he has caused [Yahuwah's] people to commit. His punishment is to be far greater than that of those whom he has deceived. After all have perished who fell by his deceptions, he is still to live and suffer on. In the cleansing flames the wicked are at last destroyed, root and branch--Satan the root, his followers the branches. The full penalty of the law has been visited; the demands of justice have been met; and heaven and earth, beholding, declare the righteousness of [Yahuwah].” The Great Controversy, page 673.

5. Where will the wicked go?

“The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget Elohim.” Psalm 9:17.

6. By what illustrations is their utter end vividly portrayed?

Answer:

A. Dashed in pieces like a potter’s vessel. “Thou shall dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” Psalm 2:9.

B. Vanish as early dew. “Therefore they shall be as ... the early dew that passes away.” Hosea 13:3.

C. Fly away as dreams. “He shall fly away as a dream, and shall not be found: yea, he shall be chased away as a vision of the night.” Job 20:8.

7. What will become of their name and their memory?

“The face of Yahuwah is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.” Psalm 34:16.

8. How irrevocable will their end be?

“There are the workers of iniquity fallen: they are cast down, and shall not be able to rise.” Psalm 36:12.

“Therefore shall his calamity come suddenly; suddenly shall he be broken without remedy.” Proverbs 6:15.

9. How enduring will be their punishment?

Answer:

A. Everlasting punishment. “These shall go away into everlasting punishment.” Matthew 25:46.

B. Everlasting judgment. “Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.” Hebrews 6:2.

C. Everlasting destruction. “Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Master, and from the glory of His power.” 2 Thessalonians 1:9.

10. What death, then, is most to be feared?

“Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10:28.

Objections Answered

11. On what verses is the doctrine based of the eternally burning hell where the wicked suffer forever?

“Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” “And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.” “And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of Yahuwah with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire” Matthew 3:12; Mark 9:43, 47.

Answer: These verses teach that the fires of hell cannot be put out or quenched by anyone. There is no escape from the power of the flame, but when all is consumed “. . . there shall not be a coal to warm at, nor fire to sit before it.” (Isaiah 47:14) When the fire has done its work it will go out on its own. II Chronicles 36:19 - 21 records when Jerusalem burned with unquenchable fire and was totally destroyed.

Because of the apostasy recorded in Jeremiah 32:35 and the consequence of the judgments upon Israel because of it, the flames and worms of Gehenna became a symbol of punishment and judgment. In Jeremiah 7:31 - 34 Yahuwah warns the Israelites that the valley of Hinnom will become “. . .the valley of slaughter” where the “. . . carcasses of this people shall be meat for the fouls of the heaven.” Yahushua used the fires that were burning in the valley as He spoke, to describe the final, total destruction of sin and sinners.

It must be noticed that it is not disembodied souls upon whom the worms feed, but carcasses, or dead bodies of men. (See Isaiah 66:24) Those who are cast into the lake of fire will go in bodily form. (Mark 9:42 - 45) Yahushua said in Matthew 5:30 that “the whole body” would be cast into hell. Isaiah 51:8 states that “the worm shall eat them like wool” showing that they will be put out of existence.

We must bear in mind what Isaiah says regarding interpretation:

"For precept must be upon precept,precept upon preceptline upon lineline upon line; here a little, and there a little" Isaiah 28:10

When ALL the prophets are allowed to speak on this point we find that the statements in Mark and Isaiah must be seen as an interim phase of the process ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched’ Mark 9:48  ‘And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh. Isaiah 66:24.

It is wonderful how the Scripture is written using very practical real life references.

The worms / maggots which infest and consume a dead body do not die; they simply pupate and become adult flies which in turn lay more eggs, become maggots/worms and the cycle continues until the flesh is entirely consumed. The bones and sinews that remain fuel the fire which is not quenched until all is ashes.

Therefore, we find that it is Malachi who informs us of the final state of the wicked:

 "And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith Yahuwah." Malachi 4:3.

12. Is the ‘unquenchable’ fire that devoured the palaces of Jerusalem still burning today?

“But if ye will not hearken unto me to hallow the sabbath day, and not to bear a burden, even entering in at the gates of Jerusalem on the sabbath day; then will I kindle a fire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched.” Jeremiah 17:27.

Answer: This text declares that if the Jews would not observe the Sabbath, Yahuwah would kindle a fire that could not be quenched. This does not mean that it would never go out, but that no one will be able to stop it. It would burn until what it was burning was completely destroyed. This fire is also described in II Chronicles 36:19, 21: “And they burnt the house of Elohim, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem, and burnt all the palaces thereof with fire, and destroyed all the goodly vessels thereof. To fulfill the word of Yahuwah by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfill the threescore and ten years.”

The fire here mentioned is not still burning. Man could not quench it, therefore it burned until there was nothing left to burn. In the end the wicked will burn in the unquenchable lake of fire. (Mark 9:43, 45) The undying worm and unquenchable fire are symbols of utter destruction. The wicked will not be able to escape in any way from it: “. . . they shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame: there shall not be a coal to warm at, nor fire to sit before it.” (Isaiah 47:14) This shows that the fire will go out when it has consumed all the bodies of the wicked.

13. What did Yahushua mean by everlasting fire and everlasting punishment?

“Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.” Matthew 25:41, 46.

Answer: The word “everlasting” comes from the Greek word meaning literally “age lasting.” Further definitions include, “A period of time of significant character; life; indeterminate as to duration; eternity; a period of existence; a space of time clearly defined and marked out; everlasting; eternal.”

It can be clearly seen that the meaning of the word is determined by that which it is applied to. When it is applied to Yahuwah, it means there is no end if applied to man, it ends with his life; if to the Christian era, it terminates when Yahushua comes. When applied to the punishment of the wicked, it evidently means the same as when applied to the reward of the righteous, as both rewards are eternal and everlasting. One is eternal life and one is eternal death. The reward of the wicked is not “everlasting (eternal) punishment” or “everlasting (eternal) punishing” but “everlasting destruction.” (II Thessalonians 1:9) The punishment is of eternal duration which is complete destruction. It is a destruction that never ends because there is no resurrection from that eternal death. (See Romans 6:23; Revelation 21:8)

14. Doesn't the story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31 teach an eternal hell of torment?

Answer:

No, indeed! It is simply a parable used to emphasize a point. Many facts make it clear that this is a parable. A few are as follows:
A. Abraham's bosom is not heaven (Hebrews 11:8-10, 16).
B. People in hell can't talk to those in heaven (Isaiah 65:17).
C. The dead are in their graves (Job 17:13; John 5:28, 29). The rich man was in bodily form with eyes, a tongue, etc., yet we know that the body does not go to hell at death. It is very obvious that the body remains in the grave, as the Bible says.
D. Men are rewarded at Yahushua's second coming, not at death (Revelation 22:11, 12).
E. The lost are punished in hell at the end of the world, not when they die (Matthew 13:40-42). Parables cannot be taken literally. If we took parables literally, then we must believe that trees talk! (See this parable in Judges 9:8-15.)

So what does this parable mean? The point of the story is found in verse 31 of Luke 16. The rich man was a symbol of the Jewish nation, feasting on the Scriptures while the beggar at the gate--the Gentiles--were starving for the Word. Yahushua concluded the parable with the observation that If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead. Luke 16:31. Indeed, Yahushua did later raise a man named Lazarus from the dead, and most of the Jewish leaders still did not believe (John 12:9-11).

Wicked Destroyed - Body And Soul

15. Where will the wicked and hell (the grave) be cast?

And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:14-15.

Answer: Yes, they will be cast into a literal lake of fire. Nine times does Yahushua give warning concerning this hell of fire. This is the place of burning, the final Gehenna of Scripture.

16. Will the whole man be cast into this fire?

And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell Matthew 10:28 (Matthew 5:30; 18:8-9).

Answer: The answer is clear: all of him- both soul and body in hell (Gehenna). Since there is no fire in the grave, this consignment to a place of burning could not take place at death. The burning hell Yahushua is speaking of is not one into which some ghostlike spirit or soul is cast, but one into which men are cast bodily. Since at death the body goes into the grave, where there is no burning, this hell that Yahushua here speaks of has no connection with ordinary death. It refers to the second and final death by fire, when the wicked are destroyed at the close of the millennium.

17. How long will the wicked burn?

Answer:

A. Until body and soul are destroyed.

But rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 10:28.

B. Until neither root nor branch is left.

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 Yahuwah of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. Malachi 4:1.

C. Until they are devoured-the second death.

And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from Yahuwah out of heaven, and devoured them. . And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. Revelation 20:9, 14.

D. The wicked will burn forever, as long as life lasts.

And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone. where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. Revelation 20:10.

It is perfectly plain that the wicked are going to be completely destroyed. This will be the second death. At the first death, the wicked went into the grave. The second death marks the end of the sinner, the end of death, and the end of the grave. Yahuwah is forever through with sin, sinners, death, and the grave. Those who suffer the second death will be destroyed by eternal fire.

18. What about the phrase for ever and ever in connection with the punishment of the wicked?

“The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of Yahuwah, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.” Revelation 14:10, 11

Answer: The word “forever” as used in the Bible does not always mean “without end.” The meaning is determined by that to which it is applied. The Bible uses this phrase over fifty times in conjunction with events that have already come to an end.

In Leviticus 25:46 the stranger would be a bondmen “for ever” and Exodus 21:1 - 6; Deuteronomy 15:17 states that a Hebrew servant would serve his master “forever,” but here “forever” is limited to as long as he lives. It was a custom to say to a king “O king, live forever” (1 Kings 1:31; Daniel 3:9) but fully knowing that forever was limited to the length of the kings life. It meant to live a long life. Samuel was taken to Yahuwah’s house to abide “forever” but limited to “as long as he liveth.” (1 Samuel 1:22, 28)

Psalm 48:14 defines the term for us, “For this Elohim is our Eloah for ever and ever: He will be our guide even unto death.” Yahushua is called “a priest forever” (Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 5:6) but when sin is destroyed, there will be no need of this function, and Yahushua’s work as priest will end.

The definition of “forever” in Revelation 14:11 means the wicked will suffer as long as they live, but when there is nothing left to burn, they die. They then are “destroyed forever.” (Psalm 92:7; Malachi 4:1 - 3) They have received their final reward–eternal death (everlasting destruction). (2 Thessalonians 1:9)

19. When and where will the wicked burn in hell?

The Master knoweth how to deliver the pious out of temptations. and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished 2 Peter 2:9 (Proverbs 11:31).

Answer: Peter tells us the wicked are reserved to the day of judgment to be punished. The earth will become, temporarily, a fiery hell.

But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of irreverent men. 2 Peter 3:7. Keep in mind that this happens at the end of the millennium, after the wicked dead are raised.

But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. Revelation 20:5.

Fire came down from Yahuwah out of heaven, and devoured them. Revelation 20:9.

So complete will be the destruction that the wicked will be as though they had not been.

For as ye have drunk upon My holy mountain, so shall all the heathen drink continually, yea, they shall drink, and they shall swallow down. and they shall be as though they had not been. Obadiah 16.

For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shalt not be. Psalm 37:10.

A Clean Universe Again

The real purpose of hell is not pay back and torture, or to scare people into obeying Yahuwah, but to completely blot out sin from the universe eternally.  Then Yahuwah will make a glorious new earth.

Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. 2 Peter 3:13.

20. How can we escape destruction and have eternal life?

Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of Him in peace. Without spot and blameless. 2 Peter 3: 14.

Answer: Let us fully accept Yahushua and be diligent to be without spot of sin. Yahuwah will write our names in His book. And no one whose name is retained there after the judgment will be destroyed by fire (Revelation 21:8; 22:15).

And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:15.

Yahuwah never intended that any man should ever suffer in hell. It is prepared for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41). Yahuwah wishes us to have a home with Him forever and ever. Yahushua died that we might inherit a home with Him. It is by His mercies that we receive this rich reward. His second coming will soon open the literal gates of heaven to receive the redeemed. Is it not all wonderful? Let us praise Yahuwah for the glorious plan of salvation!

NOTE: "How repugnant to every emotion of love and mercy, and even to our sense of justice, is the doctrine that the wicked dead are tormented with fire and brimstone in an eternally burning hell; that for the sins of a brief earthly life they are to suffer torture as long as [Yahuwah] shall live. Yet this doctrine has been widely taught and is still embodied in many of the creeds of Christendom. . .

"Where, in the pages of [Yahuwah's] word, is such teaching to be found? Will the redeemed in heaven be lost to all emotions of pity and compassion, and even to feelings of common humanity? Are these to be exchanged for the indifference of the stoic or the cruelty of the savage? No, no; such is not the teaching of the book of [Yahuwah].

"What would be gained to [Yahuwah] should we admit that He delights in witnessing unceasing tortures; that He is regaled with the groans and shrieks and imprecations of the suffering creatures whom He holds in the flames of hell? Can these horrid sounds be music in the ear of infinite love? It is urged that the infliction of endless misery upon the wicked would show [Yahuwah's] hatred of sin as an evil which is ruinous to the peace and order of the universe. Oh, dreadful blasphemy! As if [Yahuwah's] hatred of sin is the reason why it is perpetuated. For, according to the teachings of these theologians, continued torture without hope of mercy maddens its wretched victims, and as they pour out their rage in curses and blasphemy, they are forever augmenting their load of guilt. [Yahuwah's] glory is not enhanced by thus perpetuating continually increasing sin through ceaseless ages.

"It is beyond the power of the human mind to estimate the evil which has been wrought by the heresy of eternal torment. The religion of the Bible, full of love and goodness, and abounding in compassion, is darkened by superstition and clothed with terror. When we consider in what false colors Satan has painted the character of [Yahuwah], can we wonder that our merciful Creator is feared, dreaded, and even hated? The appalling views of [Yahuwah] which have spread over the world from the teachings of the pulpit have made thousands, yes, millions, of skeptics and infidels. . .

"A large class to whom the doctrine of eternal torment is revolting are driven to the opposite error. They see that the Scriptures represent [Yahuwah] as a being of love and compassion, and they cannot believe that He will consign His creatures to the fires of an eternally burning hell. But holding that the soul is naturally immortal, they see no alternative but to conclude that all mankind will finally be saved. Many regard the threatenings of the Bible as designed merely to frighten men into obedience, and not to be literally fulfilled. Thus the sinner can live in selfish pleasure, disregarding the requirements of [Yahuwah], and yet expect to be finally received into His favor. Such a doctrine, presuming upon [Yahuwah's] mercy, but ignoring His justice, pleases the carnal heart and emboldens the wicked in their iniquity." The Great Controversy, pages 535-537.

Are you thankful to learn that Yahuwah is full of love and will not punish the wicked throughout eternity in hellfire?
 


Note: While the wicked will not be tormented forever in a never-ending hell, Scripture does teach that there is an eternally burning fire in the presence of Yahuwah: Eternal Fire Exists!