There are a number beliefs about hell. Some people believe God is too merciful to punish anyone. Other believe that the wicked will be sent to hell where they will continue to burn throughout eternity. And there are those who believe the wicked will be completely annihilated and blotted out of existence in hell.
1. Will sinners be punished?
“Though they join forces, the wicked will not go unpunished.”Proverbs 11:21, first part
“I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will halt the arrogance of the proud, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.” Isaiah 13:11
“The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgement.” 2 Peter 2:9
2. Did Christ teach the casting of the wicked into hell fire?
“If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.” Matthew5:29
3. Where will the wicked be punished?
“If the righteous will be recompensed on the earth, how much more the ungodly and the sinner.” Proverbs 11:31
NOTE: Peter’s testimony on this point is very definite: “But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.” 2 Peter 3:7
4. What effect will the final punishment have upon the wicked?
“Sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” James 1:15, last part. Read Romans 6:23, first part.
NOTE: This death is the second death. It is the death described by John,when he says, “And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them.” Revelation 20:9, last part. This will take place after the second resurrection at the end of the thousand years.
5. How complete will be the death of the wicked?
a. Wicked shall be destroyed.
Psalm145:20; 101:8; 37:28; 92:7; Proverbs 13:13; 10:29; Philippians 3:19;1 Timothy 6:9; 2 Thessalonians 1:9
b. They shall perish.
Psalm 37:20; Proverbs 19:9; Luke 13:3; 2 Thessalonians 2:10; 2 Peter 2:12
c.Wicked will be burned up.
Matthew 3:12; 13:30; Hebrews 6:8; Malachi 4:1, 3
d.They will be consumed.
Isaiah 1:28; Psalm 37:20
e.Wicked will be devoured.
Psalm 21:9; Revelation 20:9; Hebrews 10:27
f.They shall be cut off from the earth.
Psalm 37:2, 9, 22, 28, 34, 38; Isaiah 33:12; Proverbs 2:22
g.The wicked will go into perdition or utter ruin.
Hebrews10:39; 2 Peter 3:7
6. Where will the wicked come to their end?
“For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, and all the proud,yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble. And the day which is coming shall burn them up,” Says the Lord of hosts, “That will leave them neither root nor branch…You shall trample the wicked,for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day that I do this,”Says the Lord of hosts.” Malachi 4:1, 3
“Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea. They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them.” Revelation 20:7-9
NOTE: This is in harmony with what Pater says in 2 Peter 3:9-12 where he speaks about the earth being burned up. He then mentions a new heaven and a new earth in Verse13. Here is a plain statement that the punishment of the wicked will be administered upon the earth. “It shall come to pass in that day that the Lord will punish on high the host of exalted ones, and on the earth the kings of the earth.” Isaiah 24:21
7. Are the wicked being punished in hell fire now?
No. There is coming a day when this will take place. “The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgement.” 2 Peter 2:9. It is reasonable that men should be judged before punishment.
8. What determines when people will be judged?
“Because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” Acts 17:31
NOTE: The world was not judged before Christ rose from the dead and it has not been judged yet. The final day of executive judgement is yet future;it will take place at the close of the millennium, 1000 years after the second advent of Christ. Read Revelation 20:11-15; 2 Peter 3:7
9. What part of man will be cast into hell fire?
“If your hand causes you to sin,cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched—where ‘Their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having two feet, to be cast into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched—where‘Their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.’ And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes,to be cast into hell fire—where ‘Their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched’” Mark 9:43-48
NOTE: The whole body, that is, the entire person, will be cast into hell. Read Matthew 5:30
10. How long will the wicked burn?
The lake of fire into which the wicked are cast is the same fire that burns and purifies the earth. This settles the question about the fire burning for eternity, for God will create the earth anew for the redeemed. Read 2 Peter 3:13; Matthew 5:5
11. Since hell fire cannot be quenched does this mean the fire will always burn?
No. Anciently God said He would kindle a fire in Jerusalem “and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched.”Jeremiah 17:27, last part. Read 2 Chronicles 36:19-21 which is an account of the fulfillment of Jeremiah 17:27. Jerusalem is nor burning now. “Unquenchable” is a fire that cannot be put out. Unquenchable fire always goes out when what is burning has been destroyed.
12. What is the meaning of everlasting fire?
“Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’” Matthew 25:41
NOTE: This does not say that the wicked are everlasting nor that the fire will burn throughout eternity. Jude says, “Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these,having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” Verse 7. The fire that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah is not burning today. The dead sea is where those cities once stood. Peter tells how the fire reduced those cities to ashes and overthrew them. Read 2 Peter 2:6
13. What is the meaning of forever in these texts?
Read Revelation 14:10, 11; 20:10
NOTE: John is talking about the torment of the worshippers of the beast in the lake of fire and brimstone. The expression “for ever and ever”in the Greek means unto ages of ages. This expression is used elsewhere in connection with God or Christ and in these cases expresses endless existence. But the meaning is derived from God and Christ with which it is associated. The expression itself does not necessarily mean and endless existence. The punishment of the wicked will be for a certain period but not an unending period which is evident from other scriptures that show the fate of the wicked is annihilation. Read Matthew 10:28; Revelation 20:14
One thing is sure, if you choose Christ as Saviour you wont ever have to worry about being cast into hell. “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, learn to do good; Seek justice, rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless,plead for the widow. “Come now, and let us reason together,”Says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; But if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword”; For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” Isaiah 1:16-20
God must destroy the impenitent because of his holy character. Read Exodus 34:6, 7. God will execute justice for the good of the universe and for the good of those upon whom His judgements fall. God hates sin and He does all that can be done to show sinners His love. But he forces no one into obedience to His will. The choice of the wicked determines their destiny.