Is the Devil in Charge of Hell?
YOUR THOUGHT QUESTIONS ANSWERED
1. Doesn't the Bible speak of "eternal torment"?
Answer: No, the phrase "eternal torment" does not appear in the Bible.
2. Then why does the Bible say that the wicked will be destroyed with unquenchable fire?
Answer: Unquenchable fire is fire that cannot be put out, but which goes out when it has turned everything to ashes. Jeremiah 17:27 says Jerusalem was to be destroyed with unquenchable fire, and in 2 Chronicles 26:19-21 the Bible says this fire burned the city "to fulfil the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah" and left it desolate. Yet we know this fire went out, because Jerusalem is not burning today.
3. Doesn't Matthew 25:46 say the wicked will receive "everlasting punishment"?
Answer: Notice the word is punishment, not punishing. Punishing would be continuous, while punishment is one act. The punishment of the wicked is death, and this death is everlasting.0">Can you explain Matthew 10:28: "Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul"?
Answer: The word "soul" has three meanings in the Bible:
(1) a living being - ( Genesis 2:7
(2) the mind - ( Psalm 139:14), and
(3) life - (1 Samuel 18:1), which here refers to eternal life that God guarantees all who reach His kingdom. No one can take this away. The last part of ( Matthew 10:28) says both soul and body will be destroyed in hell.
5. Matthew 25:41 speaks of "everlasting fire" for the wicked. Does it go out?
Answer: Yes, according to the Bible, it does. We must let the Bible explain itself. Sodom and Gomorah were destroyed with everlasting, or eternal, fire (Jude 1:7), and that fire turned them "into ashes" as a warning to "those that after should live ungodly."
(2 Peter 2:6). These cities are not burning today. The fire went out after everything was burned up. Likewise, everlasting fire will go out after it has turned the wicked to ashes (Malachi 4:3). The effects of the fire are everlasting, but not the burning itself.
6. 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, Heb 11:16).
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 Christ's second coming, not at death ( Rev 22:11-12).
E. The lost are punished in hell at the end of the world, not when they die ( Matthew 13:40-42). The point of the story is found in Luke 16:31 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)
7. But the Bible speaks of the wicked being tormented "forever," doesn't it?
Answer: The term "for ever," as used in the Bible, means simply a period of time, limited or unlimited. It is used 56 times in the Bible in connection with things that have already ended. It is like the word "tall," which means something different in describing men, trees, or mountains. In ( Jonah 2:6), "for ever" means "three days and nights." (See also Jonah 1:17).
In Deuteronomy 23:3, this means "10 generations." In the case of man, this means "as long as he lives" or "until death." (See 1Samuel 1:22, 1 Sam 1:28); (Exodus 21:6); (Psalm 48:14).) So the wicked will burn in the fire as long as they live, or until death. This fiery punishment for sin will vary according to the degree of sins for each individual, but after the punishment, the fire will go out.
The teaching of eternal torment has done more to drive people to atheism and insanity than any other invention of the devil. It is slander upon the loving character of a tender, gracious heavenly Father and has done untold harm to the Christian cause.