Have you ever heard anyone say, How could a Loving God throw me in Hell forever and ever and ever? What kind of God is this!!! If thats the way he is I dont want anything to do with Him! Or, have you ever had trouble explaining to someone, after losing a loved one, if that person didnt know Jesus, prior to death, they would be in Hell forever and ever and they would never see their loved one again? What a horrible thing to say to someone, yet with the current theology and thought on the doctrine of Hell, this is presented as truth, and if you dont believe this way of thinking, then you are going to burn forever and ever. It was this sort of question and comment that finally caused me to look at the doctrine of hell again. This study is to be used as a guide, to not only learn why most of the Church believes the way it does about this subject, but hopefully to dispel some of the myths and contradictions that the orthodox damnation torture doctrine presents as truth. This study is my attempt at putting into words how I came to the conclusion I did about hell; it is by no means exhaustive and really only scratches the surface. However, it should prove to be an informative expedition into what the Bible in actuality teaches on this issue. May the Lord bless you for having an open and willing heart to look into things you have probably never considered.
A Comparison Between the Different Views
It may surprise most of you as much as it did me to see that all the different views of reconciliation begin the same way. The difference is the conclusions reached about what the gospel accomplishes. In other words all three major views start from the same gospel. The following chart will illustrate this:
The Saving GospelWhat it Accomplishes
Non-ending1 Cor.15:1-4Salvation for those who
Punishmentrespond by believing
Torture for those who
Reject the gospel.
Christ saves very few,
Most are lost.
Annihilation1 Cor.15:1-4Salvation for those who
Viewrespond by believing
The gospel, Cessation
Of existence for those
Who reject, Christ
Saves very few, Most
Ultimate1 Cor.15:1-4Christ saves all, those
Reconciliation who believe experience
During their life. Those
Who reject undergo it
During Great White
All are saved.
The remainder of this study will really focus on the Non-Ending Torture view compared with the Ultimate Reconciliation view, and how I came to embrace the later view.
The Superior News of Christs Absolute Triumph!
- God will restore ALL things. (Ac. 3:21)
- ALL the Earths families will be blessed through Christ, Abrahams seed. (Gen. 12:3; Ps. 72:17; Ac. ; Rom. ; Gal. 3:8)
- ALL the Earths families will remember the Lord; turn to Him and Worship Him. (Ps. 22:27-28)
- ALL flesh will bless His name forever and sing His Praise.
- (Ps. 145:21, 66:3-4; Rev. 5:13)
- His tender mercies are over ALL His works, and All His works shall praise Him. (Ps. 145:9-10)
- Gods anger is momentary, but His mercy is everlasting. (Ps. 103:8-10, 136; Micah 7:18)
- EVERY knee will bow and EVERY tongue will confess and they will swear to Him an oath of allegiance. (Isa. 45:21-24; Phil. 2:9-11)
- His will and good pleasure and purpose are to unite ALL creation in Christ. (Eph. 1:10, 2:9-10)
- His word will not return void but accomplish His desire, pleasure and purpose. (Isa. 45:23, 46:11, 55:11)
- God has given Christ All things. (Matt. 11:27, 28:18; Lk. 10:22; Jn. 3:35, 13:3, 17:2; Eph 1:22; Heb. 1:2, 2:7-8; 1 Pet. 3:22)
- Christ will accomplish His Fathers will and lose nothing of All He has been given. (Jn. 6:37, 39, 17:2; Heb. 10:7, 9)
- Through Adams disobedience the many were made sinners so also through Christs obedience the many will be made righteous. (Rom. -19; 1 Cor. 15:22)
- God is the savior of All people, especially (not exclusively) of those who believe. (1Tim. 4:9-11)
- Christ, the Lamb of God, has put away sin - the sin of the world. (Jn. 1:29; Heb. 9:26; 2 Cor. 5:19)
- Gods mercy endures forever. (Ps. 136)
- In the last days ALL nations shall flow into the Lords house. (Isa. 2:2)
So where did the doctrine of eternal torture initiate? Why do we have all this confusion and perplexity, when we have such comprehensible Biblical details for ultimate salvation?
As I began to study this topic I came across the 3rd century Christian writer and theologian Origen, he proposed that punishments were purgatorial, and that they were balanced to the culpability of the creature and not unending. In due course all creatures would be purified. Eventually everyone would be restored to bliss and in a correct condition with God. But the Second Council of Constantinople damned the doctrine of universal salvation in 553. The Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church adopted the belief in the eternity of the punishment and hell became a mainstream doctrine used to instill fear and supremacy over parishioners. Where, and how, did the popular belief about hell as a place of never-ending torture originate? Many sources speculate that the doctrine of eternal torture and punishment for the wicked originated from Hindu, Persian, Egyptian, and Grecian religions. In fact, the ancient Egyptian concept of Hell as a place of burning fire and gruesome tortures is more or less indistinguishable from the conventional Christian belief about Hell. The feelings and patterns of this pagan Hell have biased Christian dogma and doctrine. Writers of the Middle Ages such as Augustine and Dante Alighieri fueled the imaginations of professing Christians, shaping a Hellish belief system. The influence of these writers and the teachings of Church leaders have instilled consent to the point that one is viewed a heretic if one does not accept as true these pagan concepts of Hell. Believe or burn is the customary party line. Allowing no room for Gods love, it nullifies the cross and Jesus sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. The Second Council of Constantinople in 553 A.D. is where the Doctrine of Eternal Punishment became mainstream belief, in an endeavor to keep Pagans and Christians under control by mixing of pagan philosophies of a rancorous wrathful god with Christian truth. Does this sound like the Gospel of Hope to you? Does this sound like the God you know? I always believed Christianity was different. I thought God was Love, I thought Jesus died for the sins of the whole world.
Jn. Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
I thought Jesus won it all on the cross.
Jn. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.
Why is the Egyptian Doctrine of Hell the same as the teaching of modern day Christianity? If it is Egyptian in origin then is eternal torture of God? Is it Biblical?
Ac. And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds.
Moses was perhaps the greatest prophet of the Old Testament, the man who spoke with God.
Ex. 33:11 And the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend.
Moses does not once mention any of this Egyptian folklore about Hell. Why not? Because he of all people knew that they were just myths, pagan in origin. He did not once mention any of these Egyptian myths in Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. The Greatest Prophet of the O.T. failed to mention Eternal Hell to anyone. If these Egyptian myths were true, then surely he would have warned of this impending doom lurking over the souls of all Israel and the world. But there is not one mention of these fables in the Torah. The Jews, for the most part, do not believe these doctrines today, because they are not gleaned from the Hebrew Scriptures. The Old Testament is totally silent about a place of non-ending torment!
So why is it obligatory to believe in the Lord Jesus now for salvation?
1 Tim. For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.
Why specially of believers? There is a benefit to know the Lord now prior to physical death.
1 Tim. 4:7-8 But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.
When we first came to the Lord, many of us did not realize the path ahead. The Christian walk is something we all grapple with now. Yet this walk is crucial for our transformation. Better to go through the fire now and die to sin so we can grow more into the image and likeness of Gods Son, on this side of Heaven than have to give account for that sin directly before the Lord on the other side. Hoping for the presence of God now through trials so later we gain more of God as reward. We should be:
Eph. 5:10-16 Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
This is the burden we must bear. God raises us up from the death, the hurt, the pain, the fire, the fight, the trial, the temptation, the battle, and the attack of the enemy; we must not give in to it.
What about willful sin?
Gal. 6:7-8 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. (age long life)
The wages of sin is still death.
Rom. 23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
This letter to the Romans was written to whom? Christians. We should die to sin, turning away from things that keep us from growing in God. Many have used this verse as an evangelism tool. However its context is not talking abut Eternal Damnation and Hell fire. Its context is death to sin for the Christian, getting our walk right before the Lord, so that we can become more like Christ.
2 Cor. 4:10-11 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.
This is a free gift only when we choose to accept it.I hear so many times the question, Arent you just giving a license to sin? The honest answer is people live however they want to live anyway. They are just being honest before the Lord, even if they do not know Him yet.
1 Cor. 3:13-15 Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. (Body of Christ)
1 Pet. 1:7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: (Israel)
What is this fire?
Deut. For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God.
Heb. For our God is a consuming fire.
Fire in our hearts is the fire of God, the burning away of sin, with a willingness to become like Jesus. Again, better to be honest before the Lord than be lukewarm. Sins could be anything that keeps us from growing and going on in God. Sin is simply missing the mark.
Rev. 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
All these sins will be burnt up and all those in the lake of fire will be purified. This fire is a divine cleansing, the very presence of God himself. The second death is to destroy peoples sins and purify those very same creatures, not to torture people forever. The Pagan doctrine of Hell paints God as a monster, merciless and unforgiving. Many are in the Church today because of these terrifying fables. Have you ever heard a Christian say, We have fire insurance? This takes away from the purpose of the judgment; this takes away and steals the love of God from the hearts of the brethren, and robs the process of being made into the image and likeness of Him, His Son Jesus Christ. (See Gen. 1:26 on the creation of man in the divine image.) Christ is the visible manifestation of the invisible God. If we are to become like Christ and mirror the image of God in which we were formed, our sins must be destroyed. This is the purpose of fire and brimstone and Gods judgment. Consider what God says to Israel:
Heb. 12:6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
Israel must go through this fire and accept the judgment of God in their lives and be willing to go through it for the sake of submission to God.
Phil. 3:9-11 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.
Philippians states we (Body of Christ) must die to sin as Jesus did, and be conformed to His death. There is really no point in being lukewarm and continuing to sin, because all will be saved, so all will have to go through the fire at one time or another. Why not get it over with and become like Christ now and be in the Kingdom of God now, rather than prolonging the purifying (conforming) process?
1 Cor. 15:21-26 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
So if death will be abolished then how can there be eternal torment? In the scriptures, death refers to the fallen state of Adam, whereas life refers to the resurrection in Christ. When death is abolished, there can only be life! All will be conformed to Christ, and no one will remain in the fallen state forever.
The passage above goes on to say
1 Cor. 15:28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.
Misunderstanding of Important Words
Whats in a word? How can a slight twist in understanding of a few key words in the Bible skew the faith of the majority of Christians, causing them to believe the punishments of Hell are eternal? Believe it or not, this is precisely what has come to pass. Lets study these words in scripture and how their meaning has been skewed in most mainstream Denominations.
Aion and the Ages
Here is only one example of the 197 times Strongs Concordance word #165 and #166 occur in the New Testament:
Matt. 25:46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
The words everlasting and eternal here are:
Strongs #166aionios (ahee-o'-nee-os); from #165; abiding from age to age, perpetual as in duration extended (also used of past time, or past and future as well) periods of time, long lasting with definite beginning and end.
From root; #165aion (ahee-ohn'); from the same as #104; properly, an age; by extension, (also past); by implication, the world; specially, a period of time, concealed duration, (Jewish) a Messianic period (present or future).
Thus, the word that Bible translators have rendered eternal or everlasting is the Greek word AIONIOS. Since this is the adjective form of the noun AION, which means an age, AIONIOS can mean AGE-LASTING, AGE ABIDING, etc not eternal or forever as we commonly understand it. In fact, to understand this Greek word in English implies a definitive length of time. The King James Version of the Bible renders AIONIOS in the New Testament as all of the following in different verses: age, course, eternal, forever, evermore, forever and ever, everlasting, world, beginning of the world, world began, world without end. What is the meaning of AION? It is the word in which we get our English word EON, which according to Websters Dictionary, means a long period of time. AION simply means AGE, a period of time.AIONIOS simply means LASTING FOR AN AGE (or ages), periods of time. So why are we forced to believe that these Greek words mean anything different? Its because of incorrect Bible teaching caused by pagan-influenced Church doctrines about Hell.
Kolasis and Reformative Punishment
Lets look at that one important verse about eternal punishment again:
Matt. 25:46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
The word for punishment here is:
Strongs #2851 kolasis (kol'-as-is); from #2849; penal infliction.
From root #2849 kolazo (kol-ad'-zo); from kolos (dwarf); properly, to curtail, i.e. (figuratively) to chastise (or reverse for infliction).
To Curtail means to restrain as a person is restrained in jail or a child is restrained when he is grounded for some disobedience. To Chastise has one simple meaning according to Websters New World Dictionary: to punish in order to correct, usually by beating. It should be clear that this is notmeaningless, unending, sadistic torture, but PURPOSEFUL CORRECTION.
How should Matt.. 25:46 then be understood?
Matt. 25:46Age lasting correction, and Age abiding life.
So what is the accurate Biblical Doctrine of Hell or torment in terms of duration? However long it takes to purify a heart.(see Jn. 3:15, Ac. 2:21).
Imperishable / Age-abiding life in Christ
Age Abiding Life, I thought we had eternal life in Christ? Well, how do we know that Age Abiding Life lasts forever? Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel (2 Tim. ; 1 Cor. -55), has come to us in the power of endless life, and because He lives, we also live in Him. (Rom.6:1-11). Because we have words in the Bible in the Greek New Testament that mean immortality and deathlessness we know our life is non-ending. For example:
1 Cor. 15:54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
#110 athanasia (ath-an-as-ee'-ah); undying, immortality, everlasting from a compound of 1 (as a negative particle) and 2288; deathlessness:
(See also Rom. 2:7; 1 Cor. 15:50, 53; 2 Tim. 1:10)
The person's immortal and happy existence after resurrection is taught in the New Testament, by words that in the Bible are never applied to anything that is of limited duration. They are applied to God and the person's happy existence only. In addition to the two words shown above, here are three more:
#179 akatalutos (ak-at-al'-oo-tos); from #1 (as a negative particle) and a derivative of #2647; indisoluble, i.e. (figuratively) permanent: KJV endless.(Heb. 7:16)
#262 amarantinos (am-ar-an'-tee-nos); from #263; "amaranthine", i.e. (by implication) fadeless: KJV that fadeth not away.(1 Pet. 5:4)
#862 aphthartos (af'-thar-tos); from #1 (as a negative particle) and a derivative of #5351 undecaying (in essence or continuance): KJV not (in-, un-) corruptible, immortal.
Some Bible verses which show that life in Christ is non-ending:
1 Pet. 1:3-5 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
1 Pet. 5:4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
1 Tim. Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Rom. 1:22-23 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
1 Cor. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.
Rom. 2:7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:
2 Tim. 1:10-11 But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel: Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.
1 Tim. 6:16 Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.
1 Cor. 15:50-54 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
These words would have been used to describe punishment had the Bible intended to teach endless punishment. But they werent! To sum up, Greek words in the Bible show that life in Christ is non-ending, but punishment is only temporary, although it can last a long period of time.
Words Translated as Hell in the Bible
In the Old Testament, the word Hell is always a translation of the Hebrew word Sheol, which occurs 64 times, and is rendered hell 32 times, grave 29 times, and pit 3 times in the King James Version. The primary meaning is, the place or the state of the dead. (see Gen. 37:35; Job 14:13; Ps. 6:5, 139:8). There is no teaching in the Old Testament that Sheol is a place where people will be tortured forever and ever. In fact, all people go to Sheol according to the Hebrew Scriptures, because Sheol simply means the grave or the place of the dead. The New Testament is more complicated on this issue. There are three words translated Hell in the N.T.: Hades and Tartarus, which are Greek, and Gehenna, which is the Greek form of the Hebrew words Gee and Hinnom, meaning the valley of Hinnom. It is also interesting to note that no reference to hell in Scripture ever refers to a Gentile.
Hades occurs eleven times and is rendered grave once, and hell ten times. The primary meaning of Hades is, grave or state of the dead, like the word Sheol. Hades is also used in a figurative sense to represent a state of degradation, calamity, or suffering. Hades is a name of a Greek mythological god of the underworld.
Vines Dictionary states:
The word [Hades] is used four times in the Gospels, and always by the Lord, (Matt. 11:23, 16:18; Lk. 10:15, 16:23); it is used with reference to Christ, (Ac. 2:27, 31); Christ declares that He has the keys of it, (Rev. 1:18); in (Rev. 6:8) it is personified, with the signification of the temporary destiny of the doomed; it is to give up those who are therein, (Rev. 20:13), and is to be cast into the lake of fire, (v. 14).
All of the above references have notime duration reference. All in Hades will be judged, even the Devil and his angels, will eventually be brought to a right standing with God.
Rev. 20:13 And the sea gave up the dead, which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead, which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
Strongs #1538 hekastos (hek'-as-tos); as if a superlative of hekas (afar); each or every: KJV-- any, both, each (one), every (man, one, woman), particularly.
So every person or all will be judged at that time. Still no time duration note in the context.
Tartarus occurs only once in the Bible (2 Pet. 2:4). Again no time duration noted. In Greek mythology, Tartarus is the lowest region of the underworld. According to Hesiod and Virgil, Tartarus is as far below Hades as the earth is below the heavens and is closed in by iron gates. In some accounts Zeus, the father of the gods, after leading the gods to victory over the Titans, banished them to Tartarus. The name Tartarus was later employed sometimes as a synonym for Hades, or the underworld in general, but more frequently for the place of damnation where the wicked were punished after death. Such legendary sinners as Ixion, king of the Lapiths, Sisyphus, king of Corinth, and Tantalus, a mortal son of Zeus, were placed in Tartarus. It is also important to note that no person is ever referred to as being in Tartarus in the Scriptures, only spirit beings are here.
Gehenna (Greek Geenna; Hebrew Ge Hinnom), the Valley of Hinnom, near Jerusalem so called because some of the Israelites sacrificed their children to Moloch there (see 2 Ki. ), the valley came to be regarded as a place of abomination. In a later period it was made a refuse dump, and perpetual fires were maintained there to prevent pestilence. Thus, in the New Testament, Gehenna became synonymous with hell. (Today it is a nice green park in Israel.)(see Matt. , 29, 30; ; 18:9; ; ; Mk. 9:43, 45, 47; Lk. 12:5; Jas 3:6). Again there is no time duration reference in any of these verses. Nor is Gehenna necessarily to be understood as a place of torture. It indicates destruction, degradation, and shame. It is symbolic of divine judgment. To the Hebrews, the Valley of Hinnom was a terrible, abominable place for ones body to be placed at death. It was regarded as shameful to family members to have a loved one dumped there. It was bad for the family name, reputation and social status. Criminals were often tossed in naked and were urinated on. This place is the literal garbage dump for Jerusalem.It is used figuratively in reference to Hell fire or the punishment of God, in which evil things are burned up. If a person is dead, how do they feel flames burning? Can a spirit burn? This idea of perpetual burning makes no sense in the spiritual, when these verses are referring to a literal physical place. A more reasonable interpretation of Gehenna in regard to Hell is that it represents divine judgment against sin, the process of destroying sins and cleansing the sinner, who incurs shame and suffering in the process.
But what about unquenchable fire?
Mk. 9:43-48 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.Andif thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.And if thineeye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire:Where their wormdieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
Here is the Strongs word number: 762 asbestos (as'-bes-tos); from 1 (as a negative particle) and a derivative of 4570; not extinguished, i.e. (by implication) perpetual: KJV-- not to be quenched, unquenchable.
Atfirst glance, it may seem that fire not quenched would mean forever. But does it? This same word asbestos is used in two other places in scripture:
Matt. Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.
Lk. [basically the same as above]
What happens to wood or paper when they are placed in fire and it is not quenched? They burn up. If the fire is not extinguished, all fuel (chaff) will be consumed. These verses show that the purifying fire is unquenchable; it does notagain show duration of time. The point of calling a fire unquenchable is not to say that it will never stop burning something, but to say that it will continue burning it until all that can burn will be burned up. What cannot burn will remain, passing through the fire unharmed, no matter how long it burns. Remember the fire we are talking about is the all-consuming fire, the presence of God Himself. (Deut. 4:24; Heb. 12:9; Rev. 14:10). God is indeed fire, but only that which is evil will be destroyed by God. Also note the same word for fire is used in another passage:
1 Pet. 1:7That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ
Strongs #4442pur (poor); fire, a primary word; "fire" (literally or figuratively, specifically, lightning): KJV-- fiery, fire. (Ref: Job ; Prov. 17:3, 27:21; Isa. 48:10; 1Cor. ; Rev. 3:18)
So what kind of fire is this? It is a refining fire to purify and to make clean. Its purpose is to once again bring about repentance and a change of heart in the presence of God. All sins are burned away and consumed in this fire of Gods presence. Thus, the sinner is purified, completely dying to sin, so that he can live non-ending in Christ. The fire is unquenchable in the sense that it cannot stop burning away a persons sinful nature until it has been completely destroyed, to be replaced with the Christ like nature.
Here is a list of general scripture references. Please note, this is not an exhaustive list; however, this should be sufficient to prove that universal salvation is Biblical and is a common doctrine. Notice the words all and every in many of these verses. All and every mean what?
Old Testament Proof Texts
Gen. 12:3 And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.
Gen. 22:18 And in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.
Ex. 34:7 Who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin.
1 Sam. 2:6 The LORD kills and makes alive; He brings down to Sheol, raises up.
2 Sam. God plans ways so the banished one may not be cast out from him.
Ps. 8:6 Thou hast put all things under his feet.
Ps. 30:5 For His anger is but for a moment.
Ps. 66:3-4 Enemies will give obedience to Thee. All the earth will worship.
Ps. 72:8 May he also rule from sea to sea, from the River to the ends of the earth.
Ps. 72:11 And let all kings bow down before him, all nations serve him.
Ps. 72:17 Let all nations call him blessed.
Ps. 98:3 All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.
Ps. 150:6 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD.
Isa. 2:2 And all the nations will stream to it the mountain of the Lord.
Isa. 11:9 The earth full of knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
Isa. 25:6 LORD of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain.
Isa. 25:8 God will swallow up death for all time, will wipe tears away from all faces.
Isa. 43:11 I, even I, am the LORD; And there is no savior besides Me.
Jer. 4:2 The nations will bless themselves in Him, And in Him they will glory.
Lam. 3:31-32 Lord will not reject forever, if He causes grief, He will have compassion, according to His abundant loving-kindness.
Ezek. 33:11 Takes no pleasure in death of wicked, rather wicked turn and live.
Dan. All the peoples, nations, and men of every language might serve Him.
Hos. And I will say to those who were not My people, You are My people. And they will say, Thou art my God!
Joel That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind.
Mic. He does not retain His anger forever, He delights in unchanging love.
Hab. The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD.
Now this one may be a little hard to accept; however think about this for a minute. What position and state of sinfulness were you in before the Lord came into your life? When we hear that the Devil and demons will one day be redeemed, we think of them in their current state of darkness. In the scriptures noted in the Proof Texts section above, you just read numerous examples of how God Almighty is a forgiving God and does not stay angry forever (e.g. in Mic. 7:18 the word forever here means forever; Strongs #5703 ad: duration, perpetuity).
First, consider these verses:
Job 42:2 I know that Thou canst do all things, and that no purpose of thine can be thwarted.
Ps. 8:6 Thou dost make him to rule over the works of Thy hands; Thou hast put all things under his feet.
Ac. Until the period of restoration of all things.
Jn. 16:15-16 All things that the Father has are Mine.
Mk. 10:27-28 For all things are possible with God.
Rom. For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.
Eph. all things in subjection head over all things to the church.
Heb. 2:8 Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet.
All things must also include the Devil and demons.
Here are more verses to consider:
1 Cor. 15:25-28 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.
Col. 1:15-20 God reconciles all things to Himself.
1 Pet. Angels and authorities and powersbeing made subject unto him.
Heb. 1:6 6 And let all the angels of God worship Him.
Phil. 2:9-11 Every knee will bow, every tongue confess.
Isa. 45:23 And will not turn back, that to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance.
Rev. 5:13 And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever. (Gk. Age of the Ages)
Lets look more closely at one verse in particular:
Col. 1:15-20 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.
God reconciles all things to Himself. Where will the Devil and demons dwell? Certainly, they will not dwell forever in Hell, because they, too, will eventually be reconciled to God.
And consider this:
Eph. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Strongs#2032epouranios (ep-oo-ran'-ee-os); high places 1) existing in heavena) things that take place in heavenb) the heavenly regions1) heaven itself, the abode of God and angels2) the lower heavens, used of the stars3) the heavens, used of the cloudsc) the heavenly temple or sanctuary2) used of heavenly origin or nature.
Taking that into consideration, lets look at this verse, which will show us that even wicked, demonic spirits can be saved:
Phil. 2:9-11 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus everyknee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Strongs #2032epouranios (ep-oo-ran'-ee-os); from 1909 and 3772; above the sky:KJV-- celestial, (in) heaven (-ly), high.
#1919epigeios (ep-ig'-i-os); from 1909 and 1093; worldly (physically or morally): KJV-- earthly, in earth, terrestrial.
#2709katachthonios (kat-akh-thon'-ee-os); from 2596 and chthon (the ground); subterranean, i.e. infernal (belonging to the world of departed spirits):KJV -- under the earth.
No creature is excluded from the prophecy that all will submit and be reconciled to God. Not even the Devil himself!
If every tongue confesses, does the hand of God force this confession? Are all forced and made to confess, or will this big bad wrathful God smash them if they dont? No!
from 1537 and 3670; to acknowledge or (by implication of assent) agree fully:
1) to confess2) to profess a) to acknowledge openly and joyfully b) to one's honor: to celebrate, give praise to c) to profess that one will do something, to promise, to agree, to engage.
The Bible says that God will bring the Devil and demonic beings to repentance through purposeful correction, which will be a painful but ultimately redemptive process. Here is a verse that has been misunderstood:
Rev. 20:10 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 forever and ever.(Gk. Ages of the Ages a very long time, but not non-ending.)
Strongs #928basanizo - tormented from #931
1) to test (metals) by the touchstone, which is a black siliceous stone used to test the purity of gold or silver by the color of the streak produced on it by rubbing it with either metal2) to question by applying torture3) to torture 4) to vex with grievous pains (used of body or mind), to torment5) to be harassed, to be distressed;used of those who are struggling at sea with a head wind.
#931basanos - torment
1) a touchstone, which is a black siliceous stone used to test the purity of gold or silver by the color of the streak produced on it by rubbing it with either metal 2) the rack or instrument of torture by which one is forced to divulge the truth 3) torture, torment, acute pains a) used of the pains of a disease b) used of those in hell after death.
Tormented and tested until what and for how long? You mean to say that the Bible teaches that God torments!? Yes, God torments, and God tests, to save by the process of purification by fire. This is a process used by God for redemption; not for the sake of inflicting as much pain as possible, but in order to transform creatures from wickedness to holiness. But we do not know how long this purification will last. What we do know is that it has a benevolent purpose, and God forgives even the demons. I also need to note that the primary meaning of the word means to test for purity. The word itself more often than not does not even involve the idea of torture.
The words torment, tormented, tormentors, and torments occur twenty-one times in the King James Version, and all in the New Testament. Three of these are in connection with the lake of fire. Let me give you the quotations. "The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, 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 (MESSENGERS) AND IN THE PRESENCE OF THE LAMB: and the smoke of their torment ascends up for ever and ever (Greek: unto the ages of the ages): and they have no rest day nor night..." (Rev. 14:10-11).
"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 (Greek: unto the ages of the ages - see Part One of this series -'Just What Do You Mean ... ETERNITY!')" (Rev. 20:10).
Notice please, in both instances, the subjects are tormented with fire and brimstone, and we have previously established what the fire and brimstone are. But Rev. 14:10 sheds further light, those are also tormented by and through another agency, which in reality sums up and constitutes the fire and brimstone, and that agency is THE PRESENCE OF THE LAMB and the holy angels, or messengers. What an amazing divine paradox! The Lamb - precious embodiment of the very character of innocence, patience, meekness, gentleness, holiness, sacrifice, and redemption - being made TORMENT to men for whom He died! The very thought seems incongruous. You see, dear ones, IT IS NOT THE NATURE of a lamb to torture anyone. It is simply not in the nature of the lamb to want to hurt in any way. Really! What could a lamb do to torture anyone? It has no capability for such a thing. And so it is with the LAMB OF GOD! The Lamb of God has no desire, no ability to inflict torture in any way His desire is entirely redemptive - that men might have life and have it more abundantly!
I cannot imagine One with the nature of a lamb packing poor lost souls like brick into a kiln, standing there blowing the fires of hell through them for ever. Such a grotesque representation charges the blessed Redeemer with crimes more heartless than those of Adoph Eichmann. Ah, the torment comes not from the Lamb. The torment lies within the bosoms of the tormented. The Scripture does not say that the Lamb torments them! If you think it does, you are mistaken. It states that THEY ARE TORMENTED IN THE PRESENCE of the Lamb. What a thought! TORMENTED IN THE PRESENCE. The Lamb is merely present. He does not torment. The condition is within them. Because they are wrong and sinful in nature, wicked in their hearts, selfish in their minds, and impure in their desires, they are CONDEMNED IN THEIR CONSCIENCES by the very PRESENCE of the pure, holy, sinless, selfless, sacrificing Lamb of God. Hell is at its fiercest when it sees heaven, and not till then.
When these realize the presence, or the character of the Lamb, they are tortured in their consciences, for in the Light of the Lamb they see themselves for the wretched little devils they are. The very PRESENCE of TRUTH torments the deceitful and the liar. The very PRESENCE of HOLINESS torments the immoral and corrupt. The very PRESENCE of LOVE is torment to the mean and hateful. The PRESENCE of Him who is the PRINCE OF PEACE is torture to those who live by violence and the sword. The very PRESENCE of the LIFE OF THE LAMB is the most awful torment and torture to all the opposing forces, both deceiver and deceived, until all the deceit and hostility has been taken out of them, and they come to KNOW THE LORD. When these have been exposed for a sufficient time to the PRESENCE of the Lamb, the Lamb will overcome them; His love and power will conquer their hearts; the rebellion and waywardness will be taken from them and they will at last ENJOY the Presence of the Lamb!
When the maniac of Gadara encountered the Christ the devils cried out, saying, "Have You come here to TORMENT US before the time?" (Mat. 8:29). IT WAS TORMENT FOR A POSSESSED PERSON TO BE IN THE PRESENCE OF THE CHRIST. It is torment for any enemy of God to be ushered into the presence of God. Anyone who is unacquainted with God and happens to come into a group who are worshipping and praising God, is in torment all the time he is there. The sooner such a person can leave, the better he likes it. Such an atmosphere is hell for that person! Why is it so hard to get your unsaved loved ones and friends to go to Church? They are unhappy and miserable in a Church meeting! They are tormented when present with the saints worshipping God. They are estranged from God, citizens of the devil's kingdom, and cannot relate to the praises of God, and the Word that is ministered. This all makes them unhappy and uncomfortable.
Again, the Greek does not say non-ending, It says for ages. Thats sure to be a long time, but we dont know how long each age lasts. And time might be very different for God than for human beings. The point is, there is purification for those who are evil. They will be tormented/tested until they are transformed, like a tarnished metal passing through the fire. All the dross (sin) will be burned away and destroyed. This is real torment, to finally see yourself as God sees you.
It could not be done other than in the presence of Holiness. God Himself is a burning fire! Notice that sulfur (brimstone) is mentioned in the verse above. What does that represent?
Strongs #2303theion - brimstone (sulfur); divine incense, because burning brimstone was regarded as having power to purify, and to ward off disease.
So the brimstone or sulfur is symbolic of the fact that the purifying fires of the lake are a purifying fire. This is an important point. Here is another verse where brimstone (sulfur) is mentioned:
Rev. 21:8But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
So the second death is to purify those individuals more. They are still not done; they still have dross or sin present. They are being tested to bring about purity. God cannot dwell where there is sin. Remember, He desires ALL to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim 2:4). This process is showing that God in His infinite Love and Mercy is very patient and willing to purify those He loves. God merely loves His enemies as He so commanded us to do. Who has the keys of hell and death?Jesus.
Rev. 1:18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.
1 Cor. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
1 Cor. 15:54-55 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed upin victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
Even Death and Hell will no longer exist. So how can eternal torment be non-ending if the Bible says it will no longer exist? There will no longer be a need for testing and torment because God will be ALL, in ALL!!
1 Cor. 15:28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.
Wow! What a wonderful plan! God loses nothing! God wins! ALL will be redeemed! ALL, ALL, ALL!!! How many is ALL?Everyone!!
Matt. 18:21-23 says that we are to forgive seventy times seven. Does God not do the same? How could God instruct us to do something that even He cannot do?
1 Jn. says that God is love. Could love torment any being for eternity? No, it would be impossible, because that is inconsistent with a loving nature.
The Bible tells us that one sin in particular, the blasphemy against the holy Spirit, will not be forgiven either in this age or the age to come (Matt. 12:31-32). But we do not know how long each age is. So how long does torment and punishment last? The Lord only knows. However long it takes, for each being individually. Again, forever and ever used to describe the duration of punishment for the Devil and wicked beings is literally Age of the Ages, which is however long it takes to complete the process of testing by the touchstone to make a metal (creature) pure (see Rev. 3:18; 1 Pet. 1:7). How can anything be added to forever anyway? Forever and ever is an illogical statement. If the cup is all the way full how can any more be added? This doesnt make sense.
Psa 90:3Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men.
Contradictions or Biblical Truth?
Nowhere in scripture does it say, After death all hope is gone! Thus we see that:
Sodoms fiery judgment is eternal (Jude 7) until God will restore the fortunes of Sodom (Ez. -55)
Israels affliction is incurable (Jer. 30:12) until the Lord will restore health and heal her wounds (Jer. 30:17)
The sin of Samaria is incurable (Mic. 1:9) until the Lord will restore the fortunes of Samaria (Ez. )
Ammon is to become a waste land forever and rise no more (Zeph. 2:9, Jer. 25:27) until the Lord will restore the fortunes of the Ammonites (Jer. 49:6)
Egypt and Elam will rise no more (Jer. 25:27) until the Lord will restore the fortunes of Egypt (Ez. 29:14) and restore the fortunes of Elam (Jer. 49:39)
Moab is destroyed (Jer. 48:4, 42) until the Lord will restore the fortunes of Moab (Jer. 48:47)
Israels judgment lasts forever until the Spirit is poured out and God restores it (Isa. 32: 13-15)
Are these apparent contradictions of scripture? Did the Lord change His mind? Or, are these judgments only for a time, for an AGE? Clearly, the Bible teaches that Gods judgments are temporary, age-lasting, intended to teach a lesson not eternal torment or eternal annihilation (Psa.90:3 disproves this idea).
Points to Ponder
A kind Father would not punish without purpose. What Father would send his children to endless punishment? (Mal. 2:10)
All souls belong to God; Does God give these up to the Devil forever to lose them? (Ezek. 18:4)
We are commanded by God to provide for our own house, so how can He abandon His own children in punishment?
All things given to Jesus by God/ All people. (Ps 2:8; Jn. 3:35)
All shall come, all flesh.(Jn. 17:2)
None cast out. (Jn. 6:37)
Who wills Salvation for All men. (Matt. 6:10; 1 Tim. 2:4)
Would God inspire us to pray for salvation for all men if He knew that they would not be saved?
God wills that we come into relationship with Him on this side of life, so we do not have to go through torment and that we may start in our growth into the image and likeness of His Son.
If God wills all men to be saved then He would have made provision for all to be saved.
1 Jn. 4:8 says God is Love, Rom. 13:10 says Love works no ill. If God is Love and Love works no ill, then eternal torment would be a conflict of Gods own nature. If one is punished beyond recompense that would be vengeful, evil, and mindless. Is that Gods just reward for evil?
Questions one must consider if ascribing to the Traditional Orthodox Damnation Doctrine:
If Jesus preached eternal torment to the Samaritans in Jn. , would they have concluded that Jesus is the savior of the whole world?
How come Moses or none of the O.T. prophets ever mentioned such a horrible consequence to disobedience?
Does eternity prove that Satan did a better job at corrupting creation than Christ did in redeeming it?
Does eternity show that God devised His own everlasting defeat when He planned His creation?
Does eternity demonstrate that Christs atonement for all mankind (in many cases) is an everlasting failure?
Does eternity show that Loving Kindness, Himself, has created billions of people whom He foreknew would never hear Christ proclaimed during their earthly lives and therefore would suffer forever? Wouldnt that make God infinitely evil? Punishment must fit the crime if He judges justly.
Will eternity reveal that love is neither committed nor unfailing nor is it by any means unconditional?
Will eternity show that Holy Love has foreseen and therefore fore-planned for everlasting disaster for much of His own creation?
Does eternity demonstrate that Christ is not the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world? Or does it reveal Him as the Lamb of God who tried to take away the worlds sin and failed?
Was Jesus a partial Savior?
The idea of Ultimate Salvation is not a new doctrine. As seen in this brief study on the subject we can safely and undoubtedly say with utmost certainty that universal salvation is a widespread doctrine taught throughout the Bible. The Torah never once mentions such a horrible penalty of eternal punishment. The Prophets, Historical and Poetical books do not mention eternal punishment. Jesus and the Apostles did not teach non-ending death or non-ending torture. So why are we forced to believe it? Why are we forced to believe that God is some monster, lacking self control over His revenge on the wicked? Is that what the "Good News" is all about? Is this the God you know? Is this the loving God of the Bible that preachers throughout the ages have preached about?
Chances are, you just didn't think that much about the subject of Hell to begin with and only believed what you were told. This would describe me to a tee. Maybe somewhere in the back of your mind or in your heart you knew and have always known that God is love. (1 Jn. 4:8,16) And this doctrine of non-ending damnation was not true and cannot be true. How can this God of Love throw His own creation into a mindless sadistic non-ending torture forever and ever? What pleasure does He have in this? What is the purpose of torment? What is the purpose of Hell? These were the questions I began to have in my thoughts the more I knew the God of the Bible.
It is for purification is what the scriptures teach! What about the people God has put into our lives who have affected us, changed us and helped to lay the foundation of who we are? What about Parents, Grandma, Grandpa, brothers, sisters, and friends who have a place of love in your heart. Will this God of Love just rip them and the remembrance of them out of your heart? Was their presence in your life just meaningless, if they happened to be among the unsaved? No! One day All will be saved! Yes, ALL!!! That is the Gospel! That is the Blessed hope! That is the "GOOD NEWS"!!! That is why Jesus Christ came.
Rom Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.
Yes the whole world! The Gospel of Salvation is not some fear-mongering, ruthless consequence to inaction. Believe or Burn forever and ever is NOT the Gospel! Believe or Burn forever and ever rejects everything that God is, was and has intended for His creation. This entire study proved for me that.
The Gospel of Salvation is this:
1 Cor. 15:3-5 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
Whether it be in this age or the age to come, you will one day know the love of God. You will one day see all those that have gone on before you. They are not lost forever. Every single person that has ever lived and breathed on this planet from the beginning of time as we know it WILL BE SAVED!
1Co 15:54So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
 For those interested in the Annihilation view see issue # 1 of Victory.
 See our upcoming Victory issue 5 for an in-depth look at Gehenna.