1. How do people try to deny the seriousness of the lake of fire?
Attempts to deny the seriousness of the lake of fire fall into four categories:
1 Deny its existence Rev 20:14; 21:8
2 Deny its severity Rev 21:8; Ps 11:6, Mt 13:40-42,50 ; Heb 10:27
3 Deny people in there forever (See Mt 18:8; 25:41,46; 3:12, Jude 7 2 Th 1:9; Rev 20:10; 14:9-11
4 Deny people can never leave Jude 7, Mt 25:46
2. How do we reconcile the lake of fire with God being love?
The Bible says God is love, but it never says God is all-loving. God is the most loving being in the universe, but He is the most wrathful too. The Lake of Fire is not loving towards those who are in it, so there is no point in attempting to say that somehow it is loving to make people go there. This question of how to reconcile the two is answered in Romans 11:22, Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.” So we have a wrong concept if we consider God as only love. We are to consider both the kindness and sternness of God.
3. Norm Geisler said, “Hell is the most glorious of all Christian doctrines, because it proves that man is truly free.” What do you think he meant by that? Do you agree?
4. In trying to understand the justice of the lake of fire, what factors should we look at? (there are at least five.) 5. What are the verses that show the permanence of the Lake of Fire?
God's Judgment is final & the Lake of Fire is eternal. Revelation 20:10(Mt 25:46); 2 Thessalonians 1:9; Hebrews 6:2; Jude 7
Non-believers have painful consciousness after death. Revelation 20:10;Lk12:5;13:28;16; Ezekiel 32:31-32; Matthew 3:12;5:21;13:42,50;22:13;25:41; Isaiah 50:11
Non-believers will perish. Luke 13:3,5; John 3:16; 2 Thessalonians 1:9, be no more on earth. Psalm 104:35; Deuteronomy 29:20, be destroyed.2 Thessalonians 1:9; 2 Peter 3:16; Matthew 10:28; 1 Corinthians 3:17; Philippians 1:28; James 4:12; Revelation 11:18
Destruction does not mean non-existence; Satan, beast, & false prophet will suffer forever in the lake of fire. Luke 21:16+18; 2 Thessalonians 2:8; Revelation 19:20;20:10.
Unbelievers are eternally punished there too. Matthew 25:41,46; Revelation 14:9-11;~19:3;~22:15
6. In explaining the lake of fire to someone, what analogies could you use?
The Lake of Fire is the terrible place where man’s freedom to choose to be separate from God drifts away in the justice of its consequences.
One of the most common words Jesus used for “Hell” is Gehenna. Gehenna was actually the trash dump outside of Jerusalem. They would pile the refuse out there, and when it got high enough to stink, and there were enough rats and other creatures, they would burn it. Hell can be thought of as a “cosmic trash dump” of those who choose to be unfit to be with God in Heaven.
Imagine Hitler being in heaven, without ever repenting of what he did. Imagine millions being forced to live with a Holy God forever, against their will. Can you even imagine this? I can’t. Rather, I think that if someone finally says they do not want to love, serve, and worship God forever, God reluctantly says “OK”. God will build a separate universe just for them, and they can do whatever they want in that universe. This universe we call Hell. Of course God is the source of all love and goodness, and they not experience those things there. They may have former friends with them in Hell, but without the love, they will not be their friends anymore. People are not all there is in that universe. Demons and others will be there with them.
In my house, I want to keep out what is filthy and causes disease. I have the right to refuse entry to those who would want to hurt my family. If I think I have that right, does not God have the same right for His House?
Imagine someone having a sin in this life, such as greed or lust. Imagine having the desire for that sin grow by 0.01% per year. Now imagine that the person has been in Hell for a million years, and has the certain knowledge that the sinful desire can never be satisfied.
“The Doors of Hell are Locked from the inside.” - C.S. Lewis in The Screwtape Letters
Wild Preserve, Wild Animal Park
Hinduism - Paths to the Cosmic Fire
7. How to Reconcile Perish, Destroy, etc. vs. Tormented Forever?
Some theologians such as John Stott have fallen into error by denying the permanence of people in Hell. It is true that many places in the Bible refer to destruction and perishing. However, it also says, “the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever”. The Devil, beast, and false prophet torment, Basanisthosontai in Greek, forever and ever (Rev 20:10)
A house that is destroyed by fire, can still have its shell standing.
Consider this, if a reprobate person was not driven to insanity when they first entered the Lake of Fire, it is possible their sanity could become questionable by the second million years. A person still has consciousness and some rationality left, but definitely less rationality than when they entered. Even if a person’s rationality/possibly consciousness diminished by 50% every hundred years, it would never reach zero. Thus there could be an initial destruction (of all hope, etc.) when a person enters, Hell, a never-ending process of destruction (rationality, etc.) and also a permanence (soul, existence, etc.) Of course, God has not told us that the “etc.”, and it is not something we need to know all about if we are not going to experience it.
Given that God has both Great Love and Great Wrath, how are We to Understand the Lake of Fire?
Rev 14:9-11 Tortured with fire and brimstone (burning sulfur) in the presence of the lamb and his angels. They will enjoy no rest day or night.
Verses in the Bible referring to souls perishing or being destroyed do refer to the Lake of Fire.
8. What is the Smoke of Their Torment?
Rev 14:11 The smoke of the torture of the worshippers of the beast ascends forever and ever.
Rev 19:3 The smoke of Babylon will go up forever and ever.
Rev 8:4 All smoke is not the smoke of their torment.
9. After the New Jerusalem Comes Down from Heaven, Will Ungodly Beings Still Exist?
Revelation 22:15 Outside will be the cowardly, unbelieving, vile, murderers, sexually immoral, magic practitioners, and all liars.
Summary: The Lake of Fire, also called the second death, is a fiery lake of burning sulfur. All who are not believing will go there in the future, forever, with no chance of escape. The torment will be such that there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, and no rest forever. It is a raging fire that consumes the enemies of God such that the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever. It is a process of perishing, being consumed, or being destroyed, such that the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever.
Apart from the Bible, did Jewish people in Jesus' day and before have any concept of eternal conscious punishment? If nobody had that concept, then the rich man being consciously punished would be foreign concept to them. It is a given that the Sadducees did not, for they did not believe in the resurrection, angels, or spirits (Acts 23:8). If some did have a concept of eternal, conscious punishment, then it is only natural for hears of the rich man and Lazarus teaching to interpret that as a confirmation of that teaching.
Sumerians, Babylonians, and Assyrians believed in a place called Aralu in Babylonian. It was an unpleasant, depressing place where everyone went after death and existed with a shadowy existence forever. Jewish literature that refers to conscious punishment for evildoers is Enoch 22:1-4 Two parts of Sheol, for righteous and unrighteous. After judgment, for the unrighteous pain and plague forever. The story of the rich man and Lazarus, with two parts and torment for the rich man, has similar theology as Enoch 22:1-4.
Other references to eternal punishment for the wicked:
Assumption of Moses 10:10
2 Esdras 7:36
Sons of the Maccabees when being burned to death “we will burn only for a little while, but you will burn for all eternity.”
Judith 16:17 “fire and worms he will give to their flesh; they shall weep in pain for ever.”
Psalms of Solomon 3:134 Macc. in the LXX use it for the Hebrew word s such as 'asam, for a reparation of guilt. In the LXX it is used in 1 Sam 6:3, f. 8, 17 as a guilt offering. It is translated for shame, disgrace in Ezek 16:52, 42; 32:24,30, and a cause of sin and misfortune in Ezel 3:20 and 7:19. Ezek 16:52,52 and 32:24,40 show God's punishments. Wisdom 3:1 says the rightous are untouched by any basanos.
2 Macc 7:13 and often in 4 Macc the noun and verb are used of the tortures of Jewish martyrs. It is used of the torture of Christian martyrs in 1 Clem 6:1,15, 2 Clem 17:7, Eusebius 5, 1, 20 & 24. Martyrdom of Polycarp 2,3.
By the way, Jude apparently quoted from Enoch and the Assumption of Moses.
The 144,000 The 144,000 are only mentioned in the Bible: Rev 7, Rev 9:4, Rev 14:1-5, and probably Ezekiel.
Rev 7 says the wind will stop blowing for a time, and there will be a delay before the earth and sea are harmed, until the 144,000 are sealed.
1. Who are the 144,000?
Rev 7:4-8 They are descendants of a particular tribe of Israel. There are 12,000 from Judah, Reuben, Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Manasseh, Simeon, Levi, Issachar, Zebulon, Joseph [Ephraim], Benjamin. Dan is not mentioned. However, some see in Jer 4:15 and 8:16 a hint that the Antichrist may come from Dan.
Rev 7:3 They are special servants of God,
Rev 7:9 They are distinct from the vast host that came out of the tribulation
Rev 14:3 They are distinct from the [twenty-four] elders.
2. What are the Characteristics of the 144,000?
Rev 14:1 In contrast to the mark of the beast, they have Jesus' name and His Father's name on their foreheads.
Rev 14:3 The 144,000 alone have the ability to sing a special song.
Rev 14:4 They have not defiled themselves with women, for they are celibate.
The word “celibate” in Greek is parthenoi which means virgin (male or female).
In a spiritual sense, believers are not called celibate, but married to the Lamb. Since “Celibate” is used, it does not mean a spiritual sense here but a physical sense.
Rev 14:5 No lie was found on their lips; they are faultless.
3. What Role Do They Have?
Rev 14:4 They were redeemed from mankind as first fruits for God and for the Lamb.
4. What Do They Do?
Rev 6:17-7:14 On earth, after the not-so-natural disasters of Chapter 6 and before the Great Multitude from the tribulation go to heaven, they are servants of God, sealed on their foreheads by angels of God.
Rev 14:4 In heaven, they follow the lamb wherever He goes.
The Abyss, Ruled by Abaddon (a.k.a. Apollyon)
In Greek, the three words are respectively Abysson, Abaddon, Apollyon.
The Abyss is neither Hades, Hell, or the Lake of Fire. Here is what the Bible says about this dreadful place.
Rev 9:1, 20:1 Like Death and Hades, the Abyss has a key to lock beings inside.
Rev 9:2 The Abyss is a smoke-filled pit.
Rev 9:3 Special locusts that tormented men for five months came from the Abyss.
Rev 9:11 The King of the locusts, the angel of the Abyss is Abaddon (Hebrew), Apollyon (Greek)
Rev 11:7 The beast that kills the two witnesses is from the Abyss.
Rev 17:8 The beast the woman sits on comes out of the Abyss.
Rev 20:2 Satan will be locked in the Abyss for 1,000 years. It is interesting that Satan is chained as well as thrown in there.
Rev 20:3 It will be sealed shut for 1,000 years.
Rev 20:7 The Abyss will be a prison for Satan. (No mention of torment though.)
Abaddon, destruction, is mentioned in Job 31:12, 36:6, 38:12
Prov 15:11, 27:20
Blackest Darkness This is a description of one or more places.
Jude 6 Disobedient angels kept in chains there until Judgment Day
2 Pet 2:17 , Jude 12,13 The blackest darkness is reserved for the ungodly apostates.
Rev 1:18 Jesus holds the keys to death and Hades.
Tartarus 2 Pet 2:7 (only place in the Bible) “For if God did not spare sinning angels, but delivered them to chains of darkness, thrust down into Tartarus, having been kept to judgment;”
This was the common word for the underworld in Classical Greek.
The Watchtower Interpretation of Lazarus and the Rich Man Jesus spoke in parables, and the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:18-31 is a parable. Parables have a deeper meaning, that is often not obvious to the masses. This story does not refer to real people, heaven, hell, or torment. The rich man does not represent all rich men, for Abraham himself was materially wealthy while on the earth. Lazarus does not represent all poor men, for not all poor men are righteous. Lazarus was a very common name; Jesus may have used it like we use “John Doe” in America today. This is the symbolic meaning of the story.
The rich man represents the “clergy/priests/Pharisees” class, that is, those who had the riches of God, but misused and hoarded them. Lazarus represents the non-clergy class, those who desire just the crumbs from under the rich man's table. In Luke 16:22 Lazarus being carried away by angels while the rich man was buried means they changed their states. This happened at Pentecost. Lifetime in Luke 16:24 means their lives under the system of law. Dogs represent false teachers. Breadcrumbs mean God's teaching. Angels mean ?????. Death does not always mean physical death. Here it just means a change of position. This “change of position” occurred after Jesus' spirit rose in a spiritual body. Lazarus then had the riches of being in God's favor, and the rich man was in torment. Torment here does not include the meaning of physical discomfort and restriction like it does in the rest if the New Testament. Torment here does not mean confinement, physical discomfort, or non-existence. Rather, here it means mental anguish at godly preachers saying bad things about them. Since people who are burned do not desire water, the fire is not literal fire. Rather it just means mental anguish?????. Since the rich man wanted to warn his brothers, that shows that people can show concern for others and still be unbelievers. The rich man's brothers are apparently not a part of the rich man's class, since they did not have a change of position????? Instead, they represent allies of the rich man class. The great chasm in Luke 9:26 between Abraham and Lazarus on one side, and the rich man on the other side, represents that the entire class may not cross over. However, individuals from one class may cross the great chasm with ease if they repent. “During his life...” means under the system of law?????. Abraham saying that Lazarus warning the five brothers was not needed means the Old Testament was sufficient to warn the brothers to not join the clergy/Pharisee/priestly class, but instead to join the Lazarus class??????.
Despite the teachings of conscious punishment after death in surrounding cultures, the Apocrypha, Enoch 22:1-4., Assumption of Moses 10:10, 2 Esdras 7:36, Judith 16:17, and Psalms of Solomon 3:13, Jesus' listeners would not conceive Jesus' speaking of conscious torment after death meaning there is conscious torment after death because ?????. Despite Jesus using the Talmudic term “bosom of Abraham” Jesus' listeners would not conceive Jesus' speaking of conscious bliss after death really meaning conscious bliss after death because ?????.
The Christian view is that it could be a parable, but if it was, it is the only parable in which a character was actually named. Lazarus, which means “God the Helper”, was a poor but righteous Jewish man named Lazarus. The rich man represents a rich Jewish man, such as the Pharisees. Dogs means dogs; this shows the only care for his wounds was from dogs, not the rich man. Breadcrumbs mean breadcrumbs; essential for physical life. Dying means physically dying. Angels means real angels. Abraham means Abraham. In Abraham's bosom means lying right next to Abraham. The Talmud mentions Paradise and Abraham's bosom has the abode of the righteous after death, so Jesus was using an existing, familiar term for a familiar concept of conscious enjoyment after death. Torment means a painful experience. Fire means a fire that is painful to a person's soul. Water means a water that the rich man (correctly or incorrectly) believed would temporarily relieve him of some pain. The five brothers represent living relatives; five is just a common number. Warning them represents warning them. Not believe even if someone roses from the dead, was likely a deliberate foreshadowing of Jesus' resurrection and the unbelief even after that. Were Abraham's words right? Well, perhaps Jesus named the character Lazarus because he really did raise a Lazarus. The result was that the Pharisees later plotted how to kill BOTH Jesus and Lazarus (John 11:45-53, 12:10-11.)
The Talmud mentioned both “Paradise” and “Abraham's bosom” as the home of the righteous after death, so Jesus used an old familiar term when He said “Abraham's bosom.” for a familiar concept for conscious enjoyment after death.
The Bible Knowledge Commentary says, “Jesus was obviously suggesting that the rich man symbolized the Pharisees. They wanted signs--signs so clear that they would compel people to believe. But since they refused to believe the Scriptures, they would not believe any sign no matter how great. Just a short time later Jesus did raise a man from the dead, another man named Lazarus (John 11:38-44). The result was that the religious leaders began to plot more earnestly to kill both Jesus and Lazarus (John 11:45-53, 12:10-11).”
Ecclesiastes 9:4-10 “For to whoever is chosen to all the living, there is hope. For a living dog is better than a dead lion. For the living know that they shall die; but the dead do not know anything; nor do they have any more a reward; for their memory is forgotten. Also, their love, their hatred, and their envy has now perished; nor do they any longer have a part forever in all that is done under the sun. Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God now is pleased with your works. Let your garments be white at every time; and let your head lack no ointment. Look on life with the wife whom you love all the days of your life of your vanity, which He gave you under the sun, all the days of your vanity. For that is your share in this life, and in your labor which you labor under the sun. All that your hand finds to do, do it with your strength. For there is no work, or planning, or knowledge, or wisdom, in Sheol, there where you go.”
Ecc 9:4-10 does not refer to Gehenna, or to the Second death, but to Sheol. Sheol is a place where both the righteous and unrighteous went prior to the Day of Judgment. Sheol is equivalent to Hades according to the Septuagint and Acts 2:27,31 and Ps 16:10.
Prison, Hell, Perishing, and the Second Death What are people like who are in these three places? Here is what the scriptures say.
Disobeying ones heard the Gospel from Christ (1 Pet 3:19)
The Abyss (Abysson)
Where demons begged Jesus not to sent them (Luke 8:31)
Disobedient angels thrust there (2 Pet 2:4)
Hell, Hades (Agu)
Torment (Basanois) (Luke 16:23,28)
Consciousness (Luke 16:23)
Suffering in flame (Luke 16:24,25)
Regret (gnashing of teeth)
Memory (Luke 16:27-28)
Still apparent concern for family (Luke 16:27-28)
Can talk of tongue (Luke 16:24)
Chasm no crossing either way (Luke 16:26)
Second Death (Lake of Fire)
Death and Hades thrown there (Rev 20:14)
Everyone whose name is not in the book of life (Rev 20:14)
Devil, beast, and false prophet torment (Basanisthosontai) forever and ever (Rev 20:10)
2nd death has no authority over those who endure through tribulation (Rev 20:6)
Cowardly, unbelieving, vile, murderers, fornicators, sorcerers, idolators, lying ones in the Lake of fire (Rev 20:8)
Moore, David George. The Battle for Hell. University Press of America, 1995.
The Early Church and Eternal Punishment A weird teacher named Origen (225-254 A.D.) espoused something similar. Origen also believed that our spirits pre-existed in heaven before we came to earth. After his death, the church declared him a heretic.
Other Christians taught that it is forever though. I have not done a specific study on which Christians specifically taught punishment forever, but here are some of them.
Letter to Diognetus ch.10 p.29 (130-150 A.D.) (partial) says some “shall be condemned to eternal fire, which shall afflict those even to the end that are committed to it.”.
2 Clement (c.150 A.D.) vol.7 ch.6 p.518 says that without doing the will of Christ, nothing shall deliver us from eternal punishment.
Shepherd of Hermas (c.160 A.D.) book 3 similtude ninth ch.18 p.50 says that those who have known God and have seen His mighty works, and still continue in evil shall be chastised doubly, and shall die forever.”
Justin Martyr (c.150 A.D.) mentions everlasting punishment for the lost. First Apology of Justin Martyr ch.28 p.172. Also Satan and the men who follow him “would be punished for an endless duration”
Justin Martyr (c.150 A.D.) The bodies of all men shall be raised, some to immortality and some with eternal sensibility to everlasting fire with the wicked devils. First Apology of Justin Martyr ch.52 p.180. Also Dialogue with Trypho (c.138-165 A.D.) ch.80 p.239
Justin Martyr (138-165 A.D.) The devils and those who serve them will be shut up in eternal fire. Second Apology of Justin Martyr ch.8 p.191; ch.9 p.191
Evarestus (c.169 A.D.) “You threaten me with fire that can burn for an hour, and after a little while is extinguished, but are ignorant of the fire of the coming judgment and of eternal punishment, reserved for the ungodly.” Martyrdom of Polycarp ch.11 p.41
Theophilus of Antioch (168-181/188 A.D.) “But do you also, if you please, give reverential attention to the prophetic Scriptures, and they will make your way plainer for escaping the eternal punishments and obtaining the eternal prizes of God.”Theophilus to Autolycus book 1 ch.14 p.93
Hippolytus (222-235/6 A.D.) “And being present at His judicial decision, all, both men and angels and demons, shall utter one voice, saying, ‘Righteous is Thy judgment.’ … since to those who have done well shall be assigned righteously eternal bliss, and to the lovers of iniquity shall be given eternal punishment. And the fire which is unquenchable and without end awaits these latter, and a certain fiery worm which dieth not, and which does not waste the body, but continues bursting forth from the body with unending pain. No sleep will give them rest; no night will soothe them, no death will deliver them from punishment;” Against Plato, On the Cause of the Universe ch.3 p.222-223. Also the Son is the judge of all in Commentary on Daniel ch.7.16 p.189
Archelaus (262-278 A.D.) says that some demons had relations with women, “and brought on themselves the merited award of the punishment of eternal fire.” The Disputation with Manes ch.32 p.205
Lactantius (c.303-c.325 A.D.) “Then also the wicked shall rise again, not to life but to punishment; for God shall raise these also, when the second resurrection takes place, that, being condemned to eternal torments and delivered to eternal fires, they may suffer the punishments which they deserve for their crimes.” Epitome of the Divine Institutes ch.72 p.255