Discourse 03 ‒ The fate of the cursed: eternal torment or dissolution?




The fate of the cursed: eternal torment or dissolution? / Reply Andrea Siegert 00, 2000-06-30

Can death be tormented forever and ever? / Reply Andrea Siegert 01, 2000-07-03

Stand fire and brimstone for absolute annihilation? / Reply Andrea Siegert 02, 2000-07-14

Can eternal damnation put the love of God in question? / Reply Ernst Panzer 00, 20000-08-06

Is it impossible to prove the eternal damnation on the basis of the bible? / Book Ernst Panzer 00, page 148

Will God reach a harmony with the cursed? / Book Ernst Panzer 01, page 149

Is there no eternal punishment, but just the fate of extinction for the unrighteous? / Reply Denny R. Walter 00, 2005-09-26

Is there a hell? / Reply Denny R. Walter 10, 2006-05-24

Hell is the place where you have finally and truly succeeded in getting rid of God. / Book Wilhelm Busch “Jesus our Destiny”

Summary: The eternal existence of every human being.


(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(The fate of the cursed: eternal torment or dissolution? / Reply AS00 2000-06-30)

Question: How can the lake of fire be meant literally rather than symbolically, when it is stated: “In the end death itself will be thrown into the fiery pool (lake of fire). This is the second and final death.” Can death be tormented for ever, day and night? Could not the lake of fire perhaps be taken as a symbolic representation of final death, rather than of eternal torment?

(Andrea Siegert, Siegert@opto.de )



It is stated quite correctly above, that death cannot be eternally tormented in the lake of fire ‒ “since death cannot be tormented in this sense.”

Let us just take a look at the passage in question:

Rev 20,14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. Rev 20,14;


There is nothing said here about “torment”. So let us look at other passages. Here is one referring to those whose names are not in the book of life:

Rev 20,15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. Rev 20,15;


And that other passage that refers to the beast and the false prophet:

Rev 19,20 And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone. Rev 19,20;


The last relevant text, at any rate, makes the connections unambiguously clear:

Rev 20,10 And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Rev 20,10;


This establishes the facts beyond any possibility of doubt: according to Scripture, the “lake of fire and brimstone” is a place where those who are “thrown into it” will be “tormented day and night forever and ever”.

On the basis of Rev 20,10 we can also at once give an answer to the question whether the “lake of fire” mentioned here and that referred to by the Lord in Mt 25,41, into which the cursed are sent, are not two different places. For in Mt it reads

Mt 25,41 Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; Mt 25,41;


The Lord thus means here ‒ as he says himself ‒ “the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil…”. And this is that same lake of fire into which, according to Rev 20,10, the devil will be thrown.

This lake of fire, according to Rev 20,14 and 21,8, is “the second death”:

Rev 21,8 “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” Rev 21, 8;

Rev 20,14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. Rev 20,14;


This second death has no power over those who overcome, or over martyrs of the First Resurrection.

Rev 2,11 ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.’ Rev 2,11;

Rev 20,6 Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years. Rev 20, 6;


So let us sum up:

The cursed (Mt 25,41) whose names are not found to be entered in the book of life (Rev 20,15) ‒ that is to say the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars (Rev 21,8) ‒ these will die the second death (Rev 20,14) in the lake of fire, in the eternal fire (Mt 25,41), and thereafter be tormented day and night for ever and ever (Rev 20,10).

So we are told nothing here of a “dissolution”; there is not even any mention of an end to their affliction. It will last for eternity. And that means “without end”.

It remains, finally, to find an answer to the argument that death itself cannot be tormented. This is of course perfectly correct. But it is nowhere stated that death (and Hades too, by the way) is going to be tormented! They are thrown into the lake of fire. That’”s all there is to it. But what interests us here is not the fate of death, but that of the ungodly and the unbelievers. And that, in these scriptural passages, is in my view made unambiguously plain ‒ with a clarity that is found in few scriptural utterances elsewhere. They will suffer unceasing affliction for all eternity.

Here are a few more relevant texts:

Mt 3,11 “As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 3,12 His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” Mt 3,11-12;

Mk 9,47 If your eye causes you to stumble, throw it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into hell, 9,48 where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. Mk 9,47-48;

Mt 8,11 .“I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; 8,12 but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Mt 8,11-12;

Mt 13,41 The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, 13,42 and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 13,43 Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear. Mt 13,41-43;

Mt 13,49 So it will be at the end of the age; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous, 13,50 and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Mt 13,49-50;



(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(Can death be tormented forever and ever? / Reply AS01, 2000-07-03)

I am currently studying a number of themes connected with the Bible. In answer to your explanation I would like to say that you are right: the word “eternal” is not meant to be taken symbolically, it must mean what it says. Only this matter of the lake of fire shows us eternal annihilation, the second death, so to speak. By second death what is meant is that there is no further Resurrection from it. A state, then, of being dead for ever, without the possibility of ever coming to life again.

If one studies this theme, one can see that throughout the Bible fire is a symbol of annihilation. And in the end death itself will be thrown into the lake of fire. This shows that in the end death itself will no longer exist ‒ not that death will be tormented forever and ever, since death cannot be tormented in this sense, but that death will no longer exist for all eternity. Incidentally, these teachings like the immortality of the soul and also the doctrine of hell derive from a heathen background: these false teachings were taken up above all by the Orthodox and Catholic churches. See also the philosophy of Plato (immortality of the soul, and the doctrine of hell).

Jesus’ disciples and the early church did not believe in such teachings: that only came later, and has unfortunately crept into the teaching of many churches today and become an article of faith.

(Andrea Siegert, Siegert@opto.de )



Irrespective of the statements made by Our Lord in the Gospels, and of the indications in Revelation of the “eternal fire” and the “lake of fire” in which the ungodly and the unbelieving after the Resurrection will suffer their eternal punishment, new interpreters continue to come forward ‒ from among the Adventists, for instance, but not just there ‒ with the view that “our God is a God of love, and it would not really be an expression of love to allow His creatures ‒ whoever they may be ‒ to suffer for all eternity”. They point to the fact that this would actually be a perverse way of behaving, and would not be in keeping with their idea of God. They therefore advance the view that the lake of fire is not to be understood literally, but symbolically, and that it will in no way be eternal ‒ that is, without end ‒ but finally represents nothing other than the final “dissolution” of the ungodly into “nothingness”.

Now, there could be nothing objected to this interpretation, if it were not possible to find repeated assertions to the contrary in the Bible itself. Here are a few examples:

The eternal fire.

Mt 18,8 If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into the eternal fire. Mt 18, 8;

Mt 25,41 Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; Mt 25,41;

Mt 25,46 These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life. Mt 25,46;

2The 1,9 These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction and exclusion from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power. 2The 1, 9;

Mk 3,28 “Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter;3,29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin” Mk 3,28-29;


Here we are told of “punishment”, “destruction”, “fire”, “sin” ‒ all different ways of referring to the lake of fire mentioned earlier; and yet that is not the important thing in these statements. It is the attribute “eternal” which calls for our attentive consideration. “Eternal”, in common parlance, means ‒ as it does in the usage of the New Testament ‒ “unlimited”, “never-ending”, “imperishable”. So in all objectivity we cannot here postulate any kind of “end” which is not clearly supported by Scripture.

But this, in my view, is not yet the main argument against a “dissolution”, or against a final death for that matter. As appears from the following scriptural passages ‒ and quite a number of others ‒ the faithful will be granted eternal and imperishable life.

The eternal life.

Mt 19,29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life. Mt 19,29;

Rom 2,7 to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; Rom 2, 7;

Mk 10,29 Jesus said, Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, 10,30 but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life. Mt 10,29-30;


This “eternal”, in the original Greek, is the same word as is used above for “eternal” destruction or “eternal” punishment. The destruction of the cursed is thus the converse of the “eternal” life of the just. And there is nobody, curiously enough, who would advance the opinion that here not eternal or unending life, but only a kind of “dissolution” ‒ of the just as well ‒ is intended.

(See also Chapter 13: “The Last Judgment.”)

Let us now examine some passages from Revelation where again eternal damnation and the lake of fire are mentioned:

The lake of fire.

Rev 20,15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. Rev 20,15;

Rev 19,20 And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone. Rev 19,20;

Rev 20,10 And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Rev 20,10;


The last scriptural passage above, Rev 20,10, makes three key statements:

1. It establishes a connection with what Our Lord tells us in the Gospels. In an earlier passage, Mt 25,41, the Lord promises to the cursed the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil. In Rev 20,10 it is precisely this fire ‒ the lake of fire and brimstone ‒ into which the devil is thrown. This proves that the two texts are speaking of one and the same event.

2. It is confirmed here beyond any possibility of doubt that those who are thrown into this lake of fire will be “tormented day and night forever and ever”. So there is no instant “dissolution” without affliction, nor any “temporally limited” punishment, as some suppose! They will be “tormented day and night forever and ever”.

3. Nor is it possible to reinterpret this formulation, “forever and ever”, by way of the Greek term “aeons”, so as to mean a long but still temporally limited period. We have in Revelation some unambiguous passages that are relevant to this question:


Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever.

Rev 4,9 And when the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever, 4,10 the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Rev 4,9-10;

Rev 10,5 Then the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land lifted up his right hand to heaven, 10,6 and swore by Him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and the things in it, and the earth and the things in it, and the sea and the things in it, that there will be delay no longer, Rev 10, 5- 6;

Rev 15,7 Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God, who lives forever and ever. Rev 15, 7;


These passages all speak of God as “living forever and ever” (strictly speaking it literally says, “into the ages of the ages” = Greece: aionos); and to suggest a temporally limited period for the existence of God is something that would hardly occur to any serious biblical interpreter.

Taken alongside other scriptural passages ‒ such as Rev 1,6.18; 5,13; 7,12; 11,15; 22,5; ‒ the above statements are not the least of the demonstrations of the untenability of the interpretation of “eternal” or “eternity” as meaning temporally limited duration.

Any one, then, who does not want to see the “eternal torment of the cursed” as being unending must also accept that the “eternal life of the just” will be finite and will come to an end. And any one who thinks that the torment of the devil in the lake of fire “forever and ever” (Rev 20,11) will be for “an exceptionally long, but still limited span” must also accept that the existence of God is likewise a “limited span”, and must ask himself whether this God will still be around to see Satan complete his punishment. It is plain that the assumption of a temporally limited duration for damnation will reduce eternal life, and even God Himself, to an absurdity.

Every human being has, at every moment of his life, the chance of accepting the offer of the love of God in the person of his Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, as a redeeming sacrifice for the sins of us all. Any one who fails to do this must, in keeping with the justice of this same God, suffer eternal punishment. This is God’s vindication. The ungodly who are judged represent the converse of this vindicated God.



(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(Stand fire and brimstone for absolute annihilation? / Reply AS02, 2000-07-14)

To have a thorough understanding of this difficult theme, we must also get to grips with history and with the Bible as a whole.

Rev 20,10 And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

The first historical reference to brimstone is to be found in the Bible in connection with the destruction of the two cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, destroyed by a rain of fire and brimstone. Brimstone is also used as a symbol for utter desolation. If a symbol is sought for complete annihilation, fire and brimstone are mentioned together. (Hes 38:22/ Rev 14:9-11)

The Greek noun “basanistes” that occurs in Mt 18:34 is in some translations rendered as “jailer”, “prison guard” or “tormentor”. Sometimes torture is applied in prisons with a view to extracting information. See Acts 22:24,29, where it appears that torture was used, although in these passages the word “basanizo” is not found, which is why after all the prison warder was referred to as a “basanistes”. In connection with the use of this word in Mt 18:34, the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia tells us that “Probably imprisonment in itself is being regarded as a ‘torment’ (which it doubtless was), and the ‘tormentors’, then, were just prison guards. This is shown too by Rev 20,10, referring to who are tormented day and night for ever and ever ‒ clearly, so to speak, because of their being kept in prison. That a condition of imprisonment can be referred to as a “torment” is also shown by parallel passages in Mt 8:29 und Lk 8:31.”

As has been mentioned already, fire and brimstone stand for absolute annihilation. The symbolic character of the lake of fire is moreover also clearly shown by the context of those other passages in Revelation where it is mentioned. It is said that death will be hurled into this lake of fire (Rev 19:20 , 20:14). And furthermore the devil, an invisible spirit creature, will be thrown into this lake. As he is a spirit, a literal fire cannot affect him. As the lake of fire represents the “second death”, and in Rev 20,14 it is stated that “death and Hades (the grave of all human beings) will be thrown into it, it is plain to see that this lake cannot represent either that death which humanity has inherited from Adam, Rom 5:12, or Hades (the grave of all human beings, from which there may still be a Resurrection). Consequently it must symbolize another kind of death, a death in this case from which there is no return, for in what we are told it is nowhere stated that this “lake” will give up its dead, as is the case with Hades, Rev 20:13.

So all whose names are not found written “in the book of life”, unrepentant enemies of God, will be hurled into the lake of fire, which means eternal annihilation or the second death.

Another elucidation of this topic:

In Jerusalem at the time of Jesus there was a refuse tip quite close to the city. This place was known as Gehenna. It was situated in a valley, the Valley of Hinnom. In Jerusalem it was also the custom to expose the corpses of executed criminals there. All in all, then, not a pleasant place. Whatever was thrown on the tip would not ever be fetched out again. So to throw something onto that tip effectively meant to do away with it for ever, to annihilate it permanently. It is thought that the fire of Gehenna was fed with brimstone, that is, that the fires were artificially reinforced.

With biblical passages, it is a question how they are to be understood. If a person has been taught the doctrine of hell, he will read them in such a way that they confirm his belief that we will indeed be tormented. So it is important to examine whether the Bible really teaches the doctrine of an eternal torment and a hell of flaming fire. The wages of sin are death, says the Bible. That is, after all, the worst punishment for a human being ‒ to be sentenced to death!

In the Good News Bible one finds in the Appendix, under the keyword “death”, the following short explanation: “Death, second. The death from which there is no subsequent Resurrection: eternal damnation on the day of the Last Judgment.” This statement corresponds to what we are told in the Bible. The above explanation of the concept of death also indirectly confirms that there is a Resurrection.

So death occurs, and then, at the time designated by God, a human being comes back to life. Now he or she can die for a second time ‒ but this time it will be final. The person will disappear for good. Finally. And when will this happen? After the Millennial Kingdom of Christ, when Satan the devil will once more be let loose so that he can tempt humanity for a last time. Any one who then sins will be perfect, as Adam and Eve were. And as Adam and Eve, being perfect human beings, have died and are dead for all eternity (that is, not existing, simply gone, a nothing existing nowhere), that is the way in which human beings will then die. They will find in the fiery lake their place of eternal annihilation.

It was never the custom to throw living human beings into Gehenna so that they would there expire in torment. Jesus and the apostles both use Gehenna as a symbol of eternal annihilation. The Jewish commentator David Kinchi (1160-1235), in his commentary on Ps 27:13, gives the following historical information about “Gehinnom”: “Close to Jerusalem there was a revolting place where unclean things and corpses where thrown out. There was also a fire kept burning there, so as to burn up the unclean things and the bones (of the corpses). For this reason the judgment of the evildoers is known symbolically as Gehinnom.” The actual Gehenna, with its implications, was the origin of the symbol of a lake that burns with fire and brimstone. 

The Good News Bible is less concerned with a literal translation than with the communication of the sense of what is written in the original text. Consequently it also renders the concept of the second death, for which the lake of fire stands, as “the death from which there is no further Resurrection: eternal damnation on the day of the Last Judgment”. The second death, the lake of fire, eternal damnation ‒ all this confirms that there is a permanent annihilation. An annihilation without return. The lake of fire retains what is cast into it permanently. 

In order to see what the Bible tells us in connection with the soul and death, I would like to refer to a few more biblical passages.

Already in the first Book of Moses it is stated that we do not have a soul but are a soul. “Man became a living soul” (Gen 2:7). Note here: it is not said that man received a soul, but that he himself became a soul.

“The soul that sins shall die”, we read in Eze 18:4.

In Ps 146,4 we are told what happens when the spirit or life force leaves a human being: “His breath goes forth, he returns to the earth, on that day his thoughts verily perish.” King Solomon also wrote that the dead “know not anything at all” (Ecc 9:5).

Ecc 9:5 “The living know that they shall die, but as for the dead, they know not anything at all.”

The concept of immortality is a product of the Greek spirit ‒ philosophies that have succeeded in creeping into Christian teaching. See also the Greek philosopher Plato. By contrast with this, the hope of Resurrection is a feature of Jewish thinking. The belief in the immortality of the soul can be traced still further back to the ancient Tower of Babel, and the Egyptians also had similar conceptions.

Jn 5:28,29: “Marvel not at this, for the hour is coming in which all they that are in their graves shall hear his voice and shall come forth: they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment”.

Adam, the first man, was told that the wages of sin are death ‒ not a transition to the spiritual realm and the soul’s immortality. (Gen 2:17) And after he had sinned, the following judgment was pronounced: “For you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (Gen 3:19).

Let us consider the very first lie of all. God had told Adam and Eve that they would die if they sinned against him. Satan however assured Eve: “You surely will not die”. (Gen 3:4). Adam and Eve then died, and returned to dust, as God had told them they would. The Father of Lies (Satan) has never abandoned his original lie. In countless teachings that deviate from biblical doctrine or simply leave it out of account, we still find the same idea being put across: “Most surely, ye shall not die. Your body may perish, but your soul will live for evermore ‒ like God Himself. Significantly, Satan had likewise told Eve that she would be as God (Gen 3:5) ‒ what a big lie!!

(Andrea Siegert, Siegert@opto.de )



In A. Siegert’s statement of her position, as given here, we can trace the following set of assumptions:

-  If “perfect” human beings sin, they are not granted a second life from God when they die, but die the second death when they die the first, and so cease to exist altogether.

-  Adam and Eve were “perfect” human beings, so after the Fall, when they died, they died the second death at once and were dissolved into nothingness.

-  All other human beings, not being perfect, die the first death, of course, but have life restored to them at a time determined by God (Resurrection).

-  This time is to be put, in A. Siegert’s view, after the commencement of the Millennial Kingdom of the Lord Jesus. Then all human beings will come back to life. They will then be perfect once more, as Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden. Any of these perfect human beings who fall into sin again, being tempted by Satan, who will be let loose for a time, will die the second death ‒ just like Adam and Eve ‒ and dissolve into nothingness.


A. Siegert has been requested to confirm or to define her position more precisely, but has not yet responded.



(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(Can eternal damnation put the love of God in question? / Ernst Panzer, Reply EP00, 2000-08-06)

1.What is to be made of that eternal damnation to which the Holy Scriptures testify? Is an eternal (unlimited) state of torment intended, or a total annihilation? Well, in the general teaching of the Evangelical churches, as also in what is known as positive theology, eternal damnation is usually seen as an unlimited and enduring state of torment, in view of the scriptural phrase “forever and ever”, or as the Lord Jesus Christ Himself testifies, in words taken from the Old Testament: “Where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched” (Mk 9,44). If we look at the matter more closely, however, we find that this image is connected with Gehenna (a Greek expression, meaning the fire of Hell). This was in Israel’s earlier history the place accursed by God, where children used to be sacrificed. Because this practice was abominable to God, the wrath of God, seen there in the symbolic description “where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched”, was to serve the Israelites as a constant visible reminder of the reality of God’s wrath. So Gehenna, to the Israelites, was also the place where filth and refuse were disposed of; it was at the same time an ever-present contemplation of final ruin.

Now “fire” and the “worm” could only be active there so long as filth and so on was actually present. Today that is no longer the case. Today it is a cultivated area. And this circumstance allows us to draw the conclusion that at some point eternal torment will come to an end. Naturally not just in a few thousand years. No ‒ but when the eternal fire has finally consumed all that is evil (Heb 12,29), that is to say, at the very end, indeed, when the Son shall deliver up to the Father the whole of creation, now perfected and redeemed (1 Cor 15,23-28). And besides, if damnation were to continue for the cursed without any end to it, this could put the mercy and even the love of God in question ‒ even the ending of the torments of the cursed must, in the last resort, be determined by the love and mercy of God!

(Ernst Panzer / http://www.philadelphia-verlag.com)



Of course the fires in Gehenna ‒ the refuse tip at Jerusalem’s gates, in the Valley of Hinnom ‒ did not continue to burn for ever. Otherwise they would still be burning to this day. But that is the very reason why the Greek noun, adopted from the Jewish expression, acquired the addition of “eternal” in the Scriptures ‒ so as to point to something that is qualitatively different.

And to suppose now that the eternal fire in Gehenna cannot after all be eternal, because clearly the fires in the Valley of Hinnom have not continued to burn indefinitely, would be from a semantic angle just as nonsensical as to assert that a “costly gift”, for instance, cannot be costly for the one who purchases it, seeing that gifts, as we all know, cost nothing.

The attribute, then, is here understood incorrectly, or not understood at all. And the same applies to the interpretation of the noun “Gehenna”.

The argument that Gehenna cannot be an abode of eternal fire because the name is derived from the Jewish Valley of Hinnom where the fire has not continued to burn eternally is on a level with the curious view that a “handy” (the German term for a mobile phone) cannot be a device for voice communications because the name is derived from the English word “hand”, so this gadget can only be designed for the communication of hand signals.

As forth question whether the eternal damnation of the ungodly puts the mercy and love of God in doubt, let me refer to what E. Panzer says in his book with reference to the issue of Universal Reconciliation. He writes there (pages 151 ff.): “We human beings should never act as if it lay on us to save the honor of God by means of this doctrine [sc. the doctrine of Universal Reconciliation]. God can do that for Himself.” And still more pointed is his formulation on page 154: “But that is the easy-going conclusion of the doctrine of Universal Reconciliation: one knows one is going to get out of Hell eventually.”

These very arguments can be brought up here, if the doctrine of eternal damnation is contested. Could not here too the same conclusion demand a hearing: “No one is going to be tormented for all eternity ‒ when we die, it will all just be over in an instant.” Isn’t this perhaps another example of the attempt ‒ the wholly superfluous attempt ‒ to save the honor of God?

For all those who would like to take the trouble ‒ and it is certainly worth taking the trouble ‒ to study what the Scriptures have to say on the subject of eternal damnation, I list the scriptural passages below, this time just in the form of references.

Isa 1:31, 48:22, 66:24; Mal 4:1; Mt 3:10, 5:22, 29-30, 8:12, 10:28, 13:41-42, 49-50, 18:8-9, 22:13, 23:15, 31-33, 25:29-30, 41, 46; Lk 16:24; 2Thes 1:9; James 2:13; Jude 1:5-6; Rev 14:10, 19:20, 20:10, 14-15, 21:8;



(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(Is it impossible to prove the eternal damnation on the basis of the bible? / Ernst Panzer, book EP00, pages 148 ff.*)

The concept of “eternity” in the Bible can be understood in a variety of ways. Sometimes in the Holy Scriptures earthly and temporal things and conditions, which do have a beginning and an end, are described as eternal ‒ as for instance the life of the king (Dan 2,4): this was a mere conventional form of address, wishing the king a long life. Then, again, the service of a servant (Phm 15), the existence of Solomon’s Temple (1 Ki 8,13), towers and dens (Isa 32,14) and many other things besides. We can definitely draw the conclusion from this that words in the original languages of the Bible which were generally translated by Luther and others as “eternity” or “eternal” do not in all cases actually mean “a state of endless duration” or “endless”, but can also refer to a temporally limited period. The words only have the sense of endless duration in cases where they relate to God or to the attributes, gifts and goodness of God.

The question whether the words in the original texts which are translated as “eternity” or “eternal” are to be understood as meaning endless time, a shorter or longer temporal period, or even an age of the world or historical epoch can only be answered on the basis of the context in which they are found. From this it can be concluded that it is impossible to prove the eternity of damnation on the basis of the words that are found in the original biblical texts.

* At the request of E. Panzer, his further exposition of the issue under discussion is here reproduced from his book “Prophetie und Enthüllung” [“Prophecy and Revelation”], published by the Philadelphia-Verlag [Philadelphia Publishing].

(Ernst Panzer / http://www.philadelphia-verlag.com)



The conventional formula mentioned above (“O King, live for ever!”), which we find in countless passages of the Old Testament, is indeed the expression of a wish on the part of the king’s subjects for the prolongation of their master’s life. It is similar to what we say when we wish someone “your very good health” on his birthday. To argue from this, however, that on pure semantic grounds the concept of health cannot any longer mean the absence of disease would be absurd, and no one would attempt to do so.

If we look at the passages cited above in Martin Buber’s translation of the Old Testament ‒ Martin Buber worked with Franz Rosenzweig in an endeavor to come as close as possible to the original text ‒ we find a more exact rendering. So in this passage, Dan 2,4, the wish of the soothsayers expressed to the king in Aramaic comes out as: “O King, may you live as long as the world” ‒ most definitely not meaning eternity in this case, but the time for which our world will endure. In 1 Ki 8,13 it is said of the Temple, in this translation, that it will endure “for all time”, again referring to “time” rather than “eternity”. Likewise with Isa 32,14, which Martin Buber translates as “Forts and towers shall be dens as long as the world lasts”, again not for eternity.

The difference between “the duration of the world” and “eternity” is also quite plainly shown in Mi 4. Whereas Luther’s version of Mi 4,7 reads “... And the Lord shall reign over them in mount Zion from henceforth for all eternity”, Buber translates it quite properly as “And HE shall have dominion over them in mount Zion from henceforth and for the duration of the world”. Two verses before this we find in Luther’s version ‒ this time correctly ‒ “... We will walk in the name of the Lord our God forever and ever”, while Buber’s version reads “... We will walk in His name, the name of our God, for the duration of the world and for all eternity”. It can be seen that the original text makes a very clear distinction between “the duration of the world” and “eternity”. All the Old Testament passages cited above, however, refer to the duration of the world ‒ of “earthly and temporal things” ‒ rather than to eternity. It is not possible, then, to point ‒ quite correctly ‒ to the incorrect translation of Luther and others, while on the other hand using these same incorrect translations as a proof that the original text is incorrect or misleading.

In Phm 1,15, finally, “eternal” is properly used. Here Paul asks his disciple Philemon to take back Onesimus (Philemon’s former servant, who had left him to spend a time accompanying Paul). Paul tries to head off the possibility that Philemon might no longer want to take back this servant by suggesting that perhaps the actual providential purpose of the servant’s being parted from him, Philemon, was that now he is able on his return ‒ having in the meantime become a Christian ‒ to find in him a brother in the faith for all eternity.

What E. Panzer says in the quoted passage ‒ “The words [sc. “eternity” and “eternal] only have the sense of endless duration in cases where they relate to God or the attributes, gifts and goodness of God” is not an argument that relies on Scripture, but a mere assertion. With as much justice might it be asserted that “Resurrection”, in the sense of being “risen from the dead”, only has the obvious meaning when used in connection with believers. In this way one could finally contest each and all of the passages in Scripture that refer to the judgment of the ungodly at the Last Judgment. The “murderers and idolaters” would then already be “annihilated” after suffering the first, physical death, and would never need to admit responsibility for their deeds in the presence of their Creator.

It is true, certainly, that the precise meaning of “eternal” is to be derived from the context in which it is found in the original text. But we do not have the easy option of selecting the context and interpretation that we would prefer or to deny an interpretation on the whole: for a serious exposition of the text, we must here too base our interpretation on the Scriptures, taking both the context and parallel passages into account.



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(Will God reach a harmony with the cursed? / Ernst Panzer, book EP01, page 149)

It has always been a thought impossible to contemplate that for all eternity a Kingdom of Light and a Kingdom of Darkness could exist alongside one another ‒ which would be the logical conclusion of the doctrine of eternal damnation. With progressively ongoing development, there must at some time come a point where God once more reaches a perfect harmony with the whole of His creation. But with an eternally enduring state of damnation this would be impossible.

(Ernst Panzer / http://www.philadelphia-verlag.com)



As the many scriptural passages already quoted prove, the doctrine of eternal damnation is an absolutely biblical doctrine. It is based on what we are told in the whole of the New Testament, from the Gospels by way of the Letters of the Apostles right through to the Revelation of John.

And in Revelation too we do find that there will indeed be a “Kingdom of Light” and an area (not a kingdom!!) of darkness for all eternity. Chapters 21 and 22 of Revelation speak of the city that will come down from God out of heaven, and of the saints who will live there.

A new heaven and a new earth.

Rev 21,1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. 21,2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. 21,3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, 21,4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” Rev 21, 1- 4;


A “new heaven and a new earth” ‒ for the first creation has passed away. So in this passage we find ourselves already in the New Creation, in the heavenly Jerusalem, and so quite plainly and incontrovertibly in God’s eternity. And while here, in Rev 21,4, we are told that God will wipe away every tear from the eyes of the saints, the part of the murderers and idolaters is seen to be in the lake of fire.

For the murderers and idolaters their part will be in the lake of fire.

Rev 21,8 “ But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” Rev 21,8;


And precisely so as in proof of that this lake of fire is not a “place of annihilation”, where the damned will be “dissolved” and cease to exist, the Lord Jesus then confirms to John in Rev 22,14 that the faithful will enter by the gates into the city ‒ that is, into the new Jerusalem, for all eternity ‒ while the murders and idolaters will stay outside the city ‒ that is, in the lake of fire mentioned before.

Outside are the murderers and the idolaters.

Rev 22,14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city. 22,15 Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying. Rev 22,14-15;


This finally proves that the concepts of “eternal life” and “eternal damnation” are to be understood in exactly the same way, in so far as they have a temporal reference, and that they both have the same existential foundations: both will endure for all eternity ‒ that is to say, endlessly and without end.

(See also Excursus 08: “The first and the second death.”)



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(Is there no eternal punishment, but just the fate of extinction for the unrighteous? / Reply DW00 2005-09-26)

You write as follows: “All human beings are originally created for eternal life. Where they spend this eternal life, after their death and resurrection, is a question they determine for themselves on the basis of their conduct during their earthly life.”

And this is just the point where your interpretation is incorrect. Starting from the account we have in the Bible, the situation is rather like this: human beings were originally created for eternal life, but after the Fall this decision was reversed. Now death became a fact for them (this was later recognized as the first death). Through Jesus Christ, God has again given them the chance of eternal life. And in the end, then, there will be a final judgment. If you have missed this offered chance, then you have finally lost out - you will be handed over to death again (the second death this time, as the first has been experienced already). Be it noted - to death, not to eternal life in torment. Or why does the Bible tell us repeatedly that God will annihilate his enemies, the heathen? What does ‘annihilate’ mean, generally speaking? Extinction. If there were to be eternal torment in hell, then it would rather have been stated that God will imprison and lock up his enemies for ever.

And the weeping and gnashing of teeth is the general reaction when people are thrown into the fiery lake. After all, the fire will not snatch them away within just one second, but will perhaps last for a few seconds. And if we imagine that very likely not everybody will be cast into the lake of fire simultaneously, but that the process will take up some time, then the weeping could go on being heard for a good while.


Denny R. Walter denny_r._walter@web.de



With your citation of Old Testament passages where God promises Israel that he will destroy his enemies, and your interpretation of these as referring to the Last Judgment, you are mixing up the Old and New Testaments and confusing secular time with eternity.

He will destroy them and He will subdue them before you.

Deut 9,3 "Know therefore today that it is the LORD your God who is crossing over before you as a consuming fire. He will destroy them and He will subdue them before you, so that you may drive them out and destroy them quickly, just as the LORD has spoken to you. Deut 9, 3;

He will destroy these nations before you, and you shall dispossess them.

Deut 31,3 "It is the LORD your God who will cross ahead of you; He will destroy these nations before you, and you shall dispossess them. Joshua is the one who will cross ahead of you, just as the LORD has spoken. 31.4 "The LORD will do to them just as He did to Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites, and to their land, when He destroyed them. Deut 31, 3- 4;

Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Mt 25,29 "For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. 25,30 "Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Mt 25,29-30;


As is plain to be seen from the above Old Testament passages, those nations whose annihilation is here foretold by God are all peoples of that former historical epoch who tried to prevent the Israelites from entering the land promised to them by God. They were then indeed annihilated - they have all died and are waiting for the Last Judgment. And only in the Last Judgment will they then finally be judged: one to eternal life, another to eternal punishment. So it is only if a person is completely ignorant of the biblical context - or else if he has the deliberate intent of falsifying Scripture on this point - that he can press these statements into service as supposed proof of an ‘extinction’ of the unrighteous after the Last Judgment, and deny that the unrighteous will be subject to an eternal and never ending punishment.

Your assertion starting “If there were to be eternal torment in hell...” likewise demonstrates a want of knowledge of Scripture. The Lord himself says in his parable of the Last Judgment, in the judgment of the righteous and unrighteous (Mt 25,31-46):

These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.

Mt 25,41 "Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; 25,42 for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; 25,43 I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’ 25,44 "Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’ 25,45 "Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 25,46 "These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." Mt 25,41-46;


The above formulation, in Mt 25,41 - “Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels” - taken together with Mt 25,46 (“These will go away into eternal punishment”) - is an unambiguous and irrefutable proof of the fact that ‘extinction’ or ‘annihilation’ is not what is meant here. Just like the righteous, so the unrighteous too will have an eternal and unending existence. Only they will be forced to spend this existence in eternal fire, where they will then suffer eternal punishment, with weeping and gnashing of teeth.

But what you seem, in your reply quoted above, not to have grasped at all is the fact that it is not a matter of earthly fire here. This ‘lake of fire’ is not just a bonfire, as you seem to imagine - rather this fire is an inner fire in the conscience of the damned, because they are now forced to recognize that they have no more chance in the whole of eternity to free themselves from their situation. They have always hoped that either they would be able to talk their way out of it in one way or another, or else, if push comes to shove - as you also suppose - then they will be ‘annihilated’ or ‘extinguished’ and so that way too they would be shot of the affair.

But now they know that this strategy was wrong. They should have been converted during their lifetime. But they did not do so. Now it is too late, and they cannot make any further changes ever. Hence the weeping and gnashing of teeth, as an expression of rage at their own stupidity and abandonment. The righteous are in eternal life, in the light, in the face of God. Those in the lake of fire are in eternal damnation, in outer darkness, eternally separated from God. These are the torments that they suffer - and not any kind of physical burns, which the spiritual body that these people have been given on their resurrection would in any case not be subject to.



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(Is there a hell? / Reply Denny R. Walter 10, 2006-05-24)

Why am I of the opinion that the damned are not condemned to suffer eternal torment? Well, quite simply, because there is nothing about it in the Bible. There are three persons of whom we are explicitly told that they will be tormented for all eternity. These three are Satan, the Beast and the false prophet. (...).

The rest of the damned suffer a different fate. Certainly, they too land in the lake of fire in the same way, but there they find annihilation: “Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire” (Rev 20,14).

“But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” (Rev 21,8)

As we can see, in the case of these people there is no further mention of torment. They suffer here what is referred to as the second death. They die, are annihilated, wiped out. They do not continue to live eternally, in torment. On the other hand, when it comes to Satan, the Antichrist and the false prophet there are no words wasted on the second death. They do not die. The Big Three of the ungodly will be kept alive for all eternity, so that they may be punished. As the terms “eternal torment” and “the second death” are never used as alternatives in this context - seeing that one term always applies precisely to one group of persons, and the other equally precisely to a different group - there are no grounds for treating them as analogous. Satan and the two others do not suffer death in the lake of fire. And human beings (apart from those two) do not suffer any torment in that lake.


(This extract has been taken from the treatise “Gibt es eine Hölle?” [“Is there a hell?”] by Denny R. Walter) Denny R. Walter denny_r._walter@web.de



Right at the start of my reply, I would like to set these assertions of Mr. Walter’s alongside an extract from the book “Was ist falsch am Evangelium?” [“What’s Wrong with the Gospel?”] by Keith Green:

(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

The danger and the terrors of hell, and the guilt of sinners / Book Keith Green 00, page 14

People often say, “I’m fed up with these hell-and-damnation sermons!” To this I frequently answer, “Now when was the last time you heard a sermon like that?” The fact is - there are few people today who preach about hell. Hell has become an unfashionable topic. After all, we shouldn’t frighten poor sinners! No, that isn’t going to do any good. They are just unhappy, misguided souls, after all, isn’t that right? But it is wrong! The Bible shows it quite plainly: they are rebels, who have robbed and dishonored the living God. In this way they have offended him infinitely. They do not have the right to see themselves in any other light than this.

This extract has been taken from the book “Was ist falsch am Evangelium?” [“What’s Wrong with the Gospel?”] by Keith Green, published by Wilfried Plock, Christlicher Mediendienst CMD [Christian Media Services], obtainable from Wolfgang Bühne Christliche Buchhandlung [Wolfgang Bühne Christian Books]

http://www.leseplatz.de/



Keith Green backs up his comments by referring to the following scriptural passages:

Jn 8,44 "You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Jn 8,44;

Mt 10,27 "What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops. 10,28 "Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Mt 10,27-28;

Mt 23,33 "You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell? Mt 23,33;

Acts 13,9 But Saul, who was also known as Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, fixed his gaze on him, 13,10 and said, "You who are full of all deceit and fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease to make crooked the straight ways of the Lord? 13,11 "Now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and not see the sun for a time." And immediately a mist and a darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking those who would lead him by the hand. Acts 13, 9-11;

1Cor 6,9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals. 1Cor 6, 9;

Jam 4,4 You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Jam 4, 4;

2Ptr 2,12 But these, like unreasoning animals, born as creatures of instinct to be captured and killed, reviling where they have no knowledge, will in the destruction of those creatures also be destroyed, 2,13 suffering wrong as the wages of doing wrong. They count it a pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are stains and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, as they carouse with you. 2Pet 2,12-13;

Rom 1,18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 1,19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 1,20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 1,21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 1,22 Professing to be wise, they became fools. Rom 1,18-22;


And then I would like, for the purposes of this discussion with Mr. Walter about hell and the lake of fire, to present the concepts in question in a somewhat more concrete light:


The lake of fire

In Rev 20,14 and 21,8 the lake of fire is described as the “second death”. What is more, it is quite definitively stated that the lake of fire “is the second death.”

Rev 20,14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 20,15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. Rev 20,14-15;

Rev 21,8"But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. Rev 21,8;


The lake of fire thus brings about the second death of all those who are thrown into it - without exception. “Lake of fire”, then, refers to a location, whereas “second death” is a term that describes the property of this location. The attempt to introduce a difference here - on the one hand the lake of fire and eternal torment, and on the other the second death and rapid dissolution - is not just semantically incorrect, it is also, on the evidence of these two scriptural passages, completely arbitrary and has no basis in the Bible whatever.


The second death

According to the above passage (Rev 21,8), the second death is the “lake that burns with fire and brimstone”. According to Rev 2,11, those who overcome will not be hurt by the second death:

Rev 2,11 ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.’ Rev 2,11;


Of sinners, on the other hand, Jude 1,7 states that they will suffer the punishment of eternal fire - the second death, in other words:

Jud 1,6 And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day, 1,7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire. Jude 1, 6- 7;


And the Lord too says, in Mt 25,46, that the accursed will go away into eternal punishment:

These will go away into eternal punishment.

Mt 25,45 "Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 25,46 "These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." Mt 25,45-46;


Eternal torment

The second death in the lake of fire effects the eternal torment of the damned. This can be seen from Mt 13,42 and Mt 13,49, where the lake of fire - here referred to as the furnace of fire - will call forth “weeping and gnashing of teeth” with those who will be thrown into it.

Mt 13,41 "The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, 13,42 and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Mt 13,41-42;

Mt 13,49 "So it will be at the end of the age; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous, 13,50 and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Mt 13,49-50;


On the basis of the typical and repeated formula “There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth”, we can likewise refer those statements that speak of the darkness prevailing in that place to the lake of fire:

Mt 8,11 "I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; 8,12 but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Mt 8,11-12;

Mt 22,12 and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?’ And the man was speechless. 22,13 "Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 22,14 "For many are called, but few are chosen.". Mt 22,12-14;

Mt 24,48 "But if that evil slave says in his heart, ‘My master is not coming for a long time,’ 24,49 and begins to beat his fellow slaves and eat and drink with drunkards; 24,50 the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour which he does not know, 24,51 and will cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Mt 24,48-51;

Mt 25,29 "For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away.25,30 "Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Mt 25,29-30;


Just as the Lord in these passages speaks of these people as ones who are “thrown out” into the outer darkness, so we also find in Rev 22,15 that the sinners are “outside”. This “outside” means that they are excluded from the city of the heavenly Jerusalem in the New Creation, and far removed from God.

Rev 22,13 "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end." 22,14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city. 22,15 Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying. Rev 22,13-15;


And since, in this prophecy, we are already in eternity, this means that by analogy with the righteous, who have an eternal existence and eternal life in the heavenly Jerusalem, so too the sinners who are outside in the darkness will likewise have an eternal existence - and so eternal torment. And this is just what we are told in Jude 1,13 as well:

Jud 1,12 These are the men who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted; 1,13 wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever. Jude 1,12-13;


The next two verses too (Jude 1,6-7), where Jude goes on to speak about the fate of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, confirm that this is a punishment of eternal fire:

Jud 1,6 And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day, 1,7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire. Jude 1, 6- 7;


And then we also have what is stated in Rev 19,20 and 20,17 about the devil, the beast and the false prophet. They will be thrown into the lake of fire and “tormented day and night forever and ever.”

Rev 19,20 And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone. Rev 19,20;

Rev 20,10 And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Rev 20,10;


Mr. Walter’s view that “when it comes to Satan, the Antichrist and the false prophet there are no words wasted on the second death” and that therefore the second death does not apply to them is consequently wrong - because the second death is described in Rev 20,14 and 21,8 as a fundamental property of the lake of fire, so that automatically anyone who is thrown into the lake of fire is condemned to suffer this second death, in other words eternal torment. So this does not have to be explicitly emphasized at this point. We have a further confirmation of this in Our Lord’s statement in Mk 9,48:

Mk 9,47 "If your eye causes you to stumble, throw it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into hell, 9.48 where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. Mk 9,47-48;


The converse argument likewise, to the effect that this eternal fire applies only to the devil and his two puppets and not to sinners in general, is not only refuted on the basis of all the scriptural passages quoted earlier, which show that sinners will suffer an eternal punishment in the eternal fire, with weeping and gnashing of teeth - it also breaks down when we consider Our Lord’s plain indication, in Mt 25,41, that the accursed will be consigned to the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and for his angels.

Mt 25,41 "Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; Mt 25,41;


Mr. Walter further asserts, with reference to the sinners in Rev 21,8, “As we can see, in the case of these people there is no further mention of torment. They suffer here what is referred to as the second death. They die, are annihilated, wiped out.” And this of course is likewise completely wrong, because Rev 20,14 and 21,8 tell us directly that the second death is the lake of fire, and the lake of fire is eternal torment. Anyone who is thrown into the lake of fire will suffer eternal torment there. The Lord says in Mt 25,46: “And these will go away into eternal punishment.” If they were just going to be “wiped out” in the lake of fire, this would not amount to much of a punishment, and it certainly would not be eternal.

But there is a further irrefutable argument, based on the Bible, that the accursed in the lake of fire are actually unable to die. Paul reveals to us, in his first epistle to the Corinthians, that in the Resurrection human beings will be given an immortal body.

For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.

1Cor 15,53 For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. 15,54 But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, "death is swallowed up in victory. 1Cor 15,53-54;


Every individual, then, on being resurrected will be given an immortal body and so has eternal existence. We have further confirmation of this from Our Lord himself, in his response to the trick question of the Sadducees about the woman who had been the wife of seven husbands when on earth - so whose husband would she be in the Resurrection?

God is not the God of the dead but of the living.

Mt 22,28 "In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had married her." 22,29 But Jesus answered and said to them, "You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God. 22,30 "For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 22,31 "But regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God: 22,32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob ’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living." Mt 22,28-32;


So if human beings live forever in the presence of God, and are given an immortal body in the Resurrection, they cannot lose their existence. Not even in the lake of fire, which is the second death. (Another confirmation of this, incidentally, may be found in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Lk 16,19-31). Here some biblical commentators are unduly influenced by worldly views of death and dying - those that see it as a final end of human existence. Scripture, on the other hand, confirms that every human being has been created by God for eternal existence. But seeing that this does admittedly sound somewhat complicated, let me try to elucidate the matter here with a short outline of the connections between the first and the second death:

On his first, physical death, Scripture tells us that the human being does not lose his existence, he only leaves his biological body behind and passes over into a different dimension (the realm of the dead) with his spirit. Clearly this dimension must be timeless, seeing that people have been resting there for millennia already.

The end of this form of existence - and at the same time of this dimension (death, the realm of the dead) - occurs at the end of the first creation (heaven and earth), in the resurrection of all human beings who are still found in the realm of the dead at this point. (Those people who have come to believe, up to the time of the return of Our Lord, will already have been raised from the dead and raptured on his Second Coming). In the General Resurrection of all human beings, at the end of the world (end of the first creation), these human beings will be given a new, immortal and sexless body (the resurrection body) and in this guise will come to the Last Judgment before the throne of God.

After the Judgment, the righteous (those whose names are written in the book of life) will enter eternal life with God in God’s new creation (the second creation, heavenly Jerusalem). Those whose names are not written in the book of life (all those who have refused to believe and the enemies of God) will be thrown into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is the second death. Similarly to the first death, here too people do indeed lose their lives in consequence of their separation from God, but not their eternal existence. As immortal beings they will spend eternity in the darkness of the new creation, far removed from God and the Lamb, who is the only light there - with weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Rev 21,23 And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. Rev 21,23;


(See also Excursus 07: “The resurrection body.”)

(See also Chapter 12: “The Resurrection.”)

(See also Chapter 14: “The New Creation.”)


So if we agree on the point that Satan, the beast and the false prophet are thrown into the lake of fire, to be tormented there from eternity to eternity, then Mt 25,41 of course shows us that this has to apply to the devil’s angels too.

Mt 25,41 "Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; Mt 25,41;


Not only the devil, but the devil’s angels as well - and according to Rev 12,4, they add up to a third of all the angels in heaven - will be condemned, according to Our Lord’s statement here, to the lake of fire which has been prepared both for them and for the devil. It would be a violent distortion of Scripture if we were to claim here that while the devil will be tormented, his angels will just be “wiped out”. So the angels will suffer eternal torment just like Satan himself, and seeing that Our Lord tells us, in the passage quoted earlier (Mt 22,30), that in the Resurrection human beings will be like the angels in heaven, it follows that those who are accursed will live out their eternal existence in torment in the lake of fire.

The accursed ones mentioned by the Lord in the above passage appear again in Revelation, where we are likewise told that their allotted portion will be in the lake of fire, so suffering the second death and eternal torment.

Rev 21,8 "But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." Rev 21, 8;


So Mr. Walter’s above assertion, with reference to this passage, that “They suffer here what is referred to as the second death. They die, are annihilated, wiped out” is without any foundation in Scripture.



(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(The torments of the worshipers of the beast are earthly torments / Reply Denny R. Walter 11, 2006-05-24)

The second biblical passage I promised you is Rev 14,9-11: “And another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, ‘If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or upon his hand, / he will also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will 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 goes up forever and ever; and they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.”

We might well suppose that this passage is referring to hell. But actually this is not the case. As already announced, the people referred to are to drink the wine of the wrath of God. The only thing this can mean is that God will once more unleash the full measure of his wrath upon the earth. And we can see this if we continue reading the text, as the time referred to in this passage is that immediately preceding the pouring out of God’s wrath in the plagues of the bowls. These torments are earthly torments, to which godless humanity is condemned, until the time when Jesus comes to establish the millennial kingdom. So hell here is still 1000 years away. When we are told that the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, this only means that this happening will never be forgotten. Once the smoke has been created, it goes on mounting higher and higher for all eternity, even if the torment has already ended. We find a similar picture in connection with the annihilation of the whore of Babylon, who is represented in Revelation as a city. Of her we are first of all told, “For this reason in one day her plagues will come, pestilence and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for the Lord God who judges her is strong. / And the kings of the earth, who committed acts of immorality and lived sensuously with her, will weep and lament over her when they see the smoke of her burning, / standing at a distance because of the fear of her torment, saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city, Babylon, the strong city! For in one hour your judgment has come.’” (Rev 18:8-10). Clearly this has absolutely nothing to do with the Last Judgment - this is an earthly punishment, as otherwise people could hardly stand at a distance to observe it. But all the same we are told here: “Her smoke rises up forever and ever” (Rev 19,3). So if the smoke rising up for all eternity from the torment of sinners were to be taken to mean that these sinners will be tormented for all eternity, then by analogy smoke rising eternally from the burning of a city would have to mean that this same city is burning eternally on earth. And is anyone prepared to claim that Babylon will still exist at the time of the millennial kingdom, standing in a sea of fire? I rather think that by then the fire will have died out. (If we would rather understand Babylon as being not a literal city, but some sort of organization or community, the same conclusions will apply here - God is not going to be involved, in the millennial kingdom, in active steps to annihilate an organization or community, any such action will have been completed well before this time). So we must conclude here that the smoke that rises eternally is not smoke from an existing fire, but rather that the fire raged at some time in the past, and the smoke of the burning still continues to rise into the air. So there is no obstacle to supposing that the prophecy of Rev 14,9-11 refers not to the lake of fire at the end of time, but simply to the coming wrath of God on earth.

(This extract has been taken from the treatise “Gibt es eine Hölle?” [“Is there a hell?”] by Denny R. Walter)
Denny R. Walter denny_r._walter@web.de



As I see it, that is an excellent and correct observation. Congratulations! - especially on supporting your argument with the scriptural statements about Babylon and your reference to the time scale of the plague of the bowls. All this adds up to correct and responsible biblical interpretation.

This chapter 14 of the Revelation of John frequently involves us in chronological problems, as the events it treats of appear to belong to quite different time schemes.

-  Rev 14,1-5: This passage (the Lamb and those that are his) appears to refer to the marriage of the Lamb in Rev 19,6-10 (at least here on this website, immanuel.at, where the 144,000 of the twelve tribes of Israel who are sealed are understood as being the bride of the Lamb).

(See also Discourse 15: “Who is the Bride of the Lamb?”)

-  Rev 14,6-7: The announcement of the judgment could be the basic announcement of the plagues of the bowls / the bowls of God’s wrath in Rev 16,1-21. At the same time, this “eternal gospel” clearly refers to the previous two thousand years.

-  Rev 14,8: This refers to the judgment on Babylon and so relates to Rev 19,1-5.

-  Rev 14,9-13: This refers to the worshipers of the beast, and so to the time of the Antichrist in Rev 13,15-17 and the coming wrath of God (plagues of the bowls).

-  Rev 14,14-20: This relates to the wine press of the wrath of God (Rev 14,19-20) as well as Rev 19,11-21, and so refers to the battle of Armageddon, where the Lord with the heavenly host will defeat the Antichrist with his host.


As may be seen from this, it is rather difficult here to understand the chronological sequence of Rev 14,6-7. On the other hand, it strikes us that this chapter of Revelation directly references chapter 19, which gives us latitude to conclude that these passages in Rev 14 at any rate are prophecies in advance of the events of that chapter.


(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(God gives the godless a merciful end / Reply Denny R. Walter 12, 2006-05-24)

God does not propose, in the last resort, to reconcile every single human being with himself and to fetch the whole of humanity into his kingdom. Those who remain in their sins, and do not want to hear anything about God, will not enter the kingdom of God. But he is just as indifferent to the prospect of tormenting the godless for all eternity. He leaves human beings the freedom of choice. Anyone who decides for him, will receive eternal life. And anyone who decides against him, will receive... Well, actually he does not receive eternal life in the form of torment. He gets eternal death - nothingness. That is the punishment for his sins: he must see that the few years that he has spent on earth were all that was given to him. He must see that he could have had eternal life, with absolute felicity, if he had only acted decently in his imperfect earthly existence. Now he has lost his chance. He will be annihilated in a moment. He had free choice. He could have decided either for or against God. And this is really a free decision - by contrast with the version of those who believe in the doctrine of hell. I mean to say, how could it be a free choice, if in choosing one of the two alternatives I could expect to be tormented for eternity? Suppose I say to somebody, “Give me your money or I’ll beat you up”, am I leaving him freedom of choice? Surely not. I have just left him a single option which he can avail himself of, otherwise he will be at risk of suffering negative consequences from me. Anything else would result in his being hurt. If I were then to say, “Hey, I haven’t compelled him in any way. It was his decision to give me money or to refuse”, this would be the purest mockery. So how is it possible to assert that it would be a free and uncompelled decision for a person to obey God, when you are punished for choosing one of these two alternatives, and punished by being made to suffer for all eternity? No - giving a merciful end to those people who have decided against God, that would be true mercy. And to show these people again, just before they expire, what they could have had - so that they spend their last instants gnashing their teeth - that would be true justice.

(This extract has been taken from the treatise “Gibt es eine Hölle?” [“Is there a hell?”] by Denny R. Walter)
Denny R. Walter denny_r._walter@web.de



In Mr. Walter’s above statements -

“I mean to say, how could it be a free choice, if in choosing one of the two alternatives I could expect to be tormented for eternity?”

- we can see a completely incorrect understanding of the essential nature of free choice. Mr. Walter confuses free choice, when deciding between alternatives, with the quality of those alternatives.

Free choice means that there are two or more alternatives and we can select between them - quite irrespective of the quality of these alternatives for the person selecting. In the nature of things, this may involve a choice between two bad alternatives, two good alternatives or between one good and one bad alternative - as in the decision between eternal life or eternal damnation.

In the comments quoted above, it is perfectly obvious that the example advanced only presents us with negative alternatives. Either the victim of the attack parts with his money, or he gets beaten up. So it is a choice between two evils. The author’s statement following -

“Suppose I say to somebody, “Give me your money or I’ll beat you up”, am I leaving him freedom of choice? Surely not.”

- is therefore completely wrong. Of course he had a free choice - even if it was a choice between “a stone and a hard place”, as the saying has it.

But seeing that the question of “eternal life or eternal damnation” presents us with a choice between two qualitatively opposed alternatives, this is a wholly inappropriate example for the topic with which we are engaged. If we wanted to apply it at all, we would have had to warn the victim of the attack to stay away from the commentator at all costs - otherwise he could be sure of being robbed. Then he would have had freedom of decision - of either laying himself open to this choice, or staying away from it.

And then our author excels himself in the following assertion:

“So how is it possible to assert that it would be a free and uncompelled decision for a person to obey God, when you are punished for choosing one of these two alternatives, and punished by being made to suffer for all eternity?”

Such an attitude of mind would result in his saying to the judge who might impose punishment on him for the above-mentioned attack (cited by him as an example) that he could not take a decision between honest and criminal dealing on a free and uncompelled basis, because he is now being punished for this crime and has to go to prison. This demonstrates not just a completely incorrect view of free will, but also a totally mistaken understanding of right and wrong.

Mr. Walter’s final statements, in the above extract, are as follows:

“No - giving a merciful end to those people who have decided against God, that would be true mercy. And to show these people again, just before they expire, what they could have had - so that they spend their last instants gnashing their teeth - that would be true justice.”

And this furthermore reveals to us the author’s ignorance of the mercy and justice of God. Some biblical interpreters feel compelled to preach to the brethren in their congregations about the infinite and unconditional love of God. In this connection they point to the circumstance that God, in his love, was willing to have his only Son die on the cross, in order to save sinners. And this is of course completely correct (thank the Lord for it!). But then, this is just one part of the story. This is just the “good news”, so to speak. If anyone is really interested in understanding the underlying reasons for God’s actions, he will ask himself further questions, such as:

o  Why do sinners have to be saved? Is not this suppositious “infinite and unconditional” love of God enough to     see them all into the kingdom of heaven free of charge?

o  Why was it the Son of God, of all people, who had to die on the cross, in order to save sinners? Is God’s     “infinite and unconditional love” of his Son less than his love for sinners?

o  And finally, what did sinners have to be saved from? Is God not almighty enough to protect all human beings     from any danger in his “infinite and unconditional love”?

(See also Discourse 30: “Why did Jesus have to die on the cross?”)


And only now does it become apparent what these preachers of sweetness have chosen to leave out, because if they were to answer these questions honestly they would have to admit that the sincere conversion to biblical Christianity means a whole lot more than just “saying Yes to Jesus”. This is the “bad news” that these preachers avoid mentioning - but the Bible does not leave us with any doubts on this point.

o  Sinners have to be saved, because in accordance with the justice of God any infringement of his     commandments - every sin - leads to the death of the sinner as a consequence. In the Old Testament, God in     his goodness conceded that in the place of the life of a sinner, the life of an animal might be sacrificed     instead.

Rom 1,28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, 1,29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are whisperers, 1,30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 1,31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; 1,32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them. Rom 1,28-32;

Rom 6,23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Rom 6,23;


o  The Son of God had to die on the cross, because God, in the New Covenant, had had enough of all these     sacrifices, and at the same time loved human beings so much that he still wanted to offer them a chance of     being saved. But God’s justice, here too, called for an appropriate sacrifice for the guilt of all the sinners of     this world. And in satisfaction of the justice of God there was no alternative but that God himself should offer     himself, in the person of his Son Jesus Christ, as the redeeming sacrifice for the whole of the human race.

Jn 3,16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. Jn 3,16;

Hbr 9,13 For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, 9,14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? Heb 9,13-14;

Hbr 9,26 Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. 9,27 And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, 9,28 so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him. Heb 9,26-28;


o  Anyone who accepts this redeeming sacrifice for his own sins, and believes in the Son of God as his Savior     and Redeemer, is saved. Anyone who does not accept it, or rejects it, will be found guilty at the Last     Judgment and because of his unforgiven sins will be consigned to eternal damnation.

Jn 3,18 "He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. Jn 3,18;

Jn 3,36 "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. Jn 3,36;


As we can see from this, it is not enough just to say Yes to Jesus. I must recognize that I am a sinner and in accordance with God’s justice am therefore lost for all eternity. I must acknowledge that I cannot save myself, nor is there anything in this world that can save me from the wrath of God. Faith in the Son of God, and the acceptance of his redeeming sacrifice for my sins, is the only way open to me of escaping damnation.

So we can also see from this that the love and mercy of God is not either infinite or unconditional. As such, it would be a blind love, and a mercy without ground. The love of God ends at the point where his justice begins. This is why God, in his love and his grace, has offered us the possibility of accepting the vicarious sacrifice for our sins, offered through the death on the cross of his Son, and so acquitting ourselves in the face of his justice. So if God has given his only beloved Son and sacrificed him out of love for humanity, he has done this because his righteousness prescribed that this sacrifice for the sins of humanity was the only way out.

There is perhaps no better parable to explain God’s actions here than the story of Prince Shamil, an Avar leader of the northern Caucasus in the early 19th century, as reported by the economist Roscher<(i>:

In order to safeguard and keep up unity and discipline in his tribe, the prince had given the strict order that nobody was allowed to misappropriate the booty which belonged to the tribe as a whole. Those who violate this, will be punished by 100 strokes of the whip.

Then it came to the first breach of this order - by the old mother of the prince. What shall be done now? If the penalty is not executed, the justness of the prince is doubted and the seriousness of his orders is undermined for all times.

Rosher reports, the prince shut himself up in his tent for one day. Then he stepped out of his tent with the instruction: The penalty shall be executed.

But when the first stroke rushed down on the mother's back, he tore down his coat, threw himself before his mother and shouted at the soldiers, "Go on beating and no lash fewer!"

So he had found the solution! His mother was saved while at the same time the torn and bleeding back of the prince showed how serious he is about the respect of his orders and about law and justice in his tribe (according to Werner de Boor: Der Brief an die Römer = "The Epistle to the Romans", WStB, R. Brockhaus Verlag).

And in the same way the blood and the death of our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross shows us how relentless God is in his justice toward sin, and how great is his love to us men at the same time.

And if God, in his justice, could not even spare his only Son, how can anyone suppose that God will have mercy on those who reject his offer and refuse to accept the redeeming sacrifice of his Son, and give them a merciful end? Anyone who, in his life on earth, rejects the love, grace and mercy of God, can only expect to meet the absolute justice of God when it comes to the Judgment.

And what kind of justice would that be in relation to those Christians who have overcome, who have held out and trusted in God in persecution and extremity, if the godless and the idol-worshipers who have made head against God and have persecuted and tormented the people of God on earth should then escape with a “merciful end”, without any kind of punishment? Why should God show mercy to the accursed and the companions of Satan when they have been tormenting and killing his people on earth? This would be completely unjust! We should not forget the souls of the martyrs who call out, in Rev 6,9:

How long will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?

Rev 6,9 When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; 6,10 and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" Rev 6, 9-10;


And the answer from God was not to the effect that their murderers would be soon terminated, but rather that “they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also.”

Rev 6,11 And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also. Rev 6,11;


So false mercy is not what is on offer here - rather it is absolute justice. God will avenge the blood of his own on their murderers. And this will mean not a “merciful end” or “rapid extinction”, but rather eternal torment and damnation far removed from God.

To conclude, here are a few remarks on the subject of hell from the preacher and pastor Wilhelm Busch:

(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

Hell is the place where you have finally and truly succeeded in getting rid of God. / Book Wilhelm Busch 00, page 125

Hell is the place where you have finally and truly succeeded in getting rid of God. You are no longer invited. There is nothing calling you any longer. Perhaps you may want to pray, but you can’t do it any more. Perhaps you may want to call on the name of Jesus, but you can’t remember it any longer. You don’t need to accept this message I have for you. You can forget about converting to belief in Jesus, if that is what you want. But be clear about what you are doing, because you are choosing hell - and you have absolute freedom to do so!

Wilhelm Busch (1897-1966) was a Pastor and youth worker in Essen, an evangelist, preacher, writer and author.

This extract and the photo are taken from the book “Jesus unser Schicksal” [“Jesus our Destiny”], by W. Busch, Schriftenmissions-Verlag Gladbeck/Westfalen [Scriptural Mission Publications, Gladbeck/Westphalia], ISBN 3-7958-0364-0


(See also Discourse 55: “Why does God permit suffering?”)


Summary: The eternal existence of every human being.


The eternal existence of every human being.

Every individual human being who leaves the amniotic sac of his or her mother alive in being physically born – who is "born of water" (amniotic fluid), that is to say (Jn 3:5) – receives a human spirit (1Cor 2:11) from God (Jn 4:24) with eternal existence (Mt 25:46). In the first, temporal and earthly part of their existence – in their life, human beings have the possibility of deciding, in complete freedom, without any compulsion and with the help of the spirit given them by God, whether or not they will give this God, the creator of all life, their complete trust and entire love.

After death, the human body returns to the dust from which it was made (Gen 2:7), but their spirit goes to the Kingdom of the Dead (Dan 12:2; 1Pet 3:18-19; 1Cor 15:23-24), where they pass the time until their resurrection in a state resembling sleep (1Thess 4:15-16).

In the Resurrection (Rom 6:4-5), the "rebirth from the spirit" (Mt 19:28; 1Pet 3:18; Jn 3:7), human beings are again given a body (Mt 22:30; Jn 3:8; Rom 8:10-11), similar to that of the Son of God after his resurrection (Jn 20:26-27).

If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.

1Cor 15,42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; 15,43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 15,44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 15,45 So also it is written, "The first MAN, Adam, became a living soul." (Gen 2,7) The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 15,46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. 15,46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. 15,47 The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven. 15,48 As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. 15,49 Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly. 1Cor 15,42-49;

With this body the human being will then stand at the Last Judgment before the Son of God, who has been given the task by God (Jn 5:22, 26-27) of judging every human being on the basis of their earthly deeds and their decision for or against God while still alive (Rom 2:16).

Anyone who has decided for God and faith in his Son Jesus Christ in the course of his or her life (Jn 17:2-3) has the possibility of invoking before this court the expiatory death of the Son of God as a vicarious sacrifice for the sins of all humanity, and so atoning for his or her own sins and derelictions against the law of God (Jn 3:16), and so will meet with the mercy of God (Jn 5:24). Those people who have not accepted this faith cannot have their sins forgiven them, and so they will be condemned (Jn 3:36).

After the Last Judgment these condemned persons will spend their eternal existence in the darkness (Mt 22:13) of the damnation of the eternal fire (Mt 18:8), with weeping and gnashing of teeth (Mt 13:49-50) over the fact that they refused to come to faith while they were alive and have now come to realize that they can never again make up for it, and so cannot ever expect any further change in their condition.

Those who have been forgiven, on the other hand, will spend their eternal life (Mt 25:46) in the New Creation in the light of God on a new earth (Rev 20:11) and under a new sky created by God (Rev 21:1-3,5).

In the light of this, the well known evangelist and preacher Wilhelm Busch said to his hearers, “You don’t need to accept the message I am giving you. You can choose not to convert to Jesus. But just be aware that this means you are choosing hell! You have complete freedom - it’s your choice!” (People who are unable to believe))

(See also discourse 22: “Is there such a thing as the immortality of the soul?”)