In his contribution to the book in Two Views of Hell, Robert Peterson sets forth ten passages that as part of the “overwhelming evidence” to support the historical interpretation of hell as everlasting punishment. I agree with Peterson’s citation of Augustine, “who cautions us against following the example of those who, ‘while not slighting the authority of the sacred Scriptures, . . . nevertheless interpret them wrongly and suppose that what is to happen will not be what the Scriptures speak of, but what they themselves would like to happen” (City of God 21.27). I find myself facing the same temptation, so it is helpful to keep God’s Word front and center when constructing our theology.

1. Undying Worm and Unquenchable Fire (OT)

Isaiah 66:22-24

For as the new heavens and the new earth
that I make
shall remain before me, says the LORD,
so shall your offspring and your name remain.
From new moon to new moon,
and from Sabbath to Sabbath,
all flesh shall come to worship before me,
declares the LORD.

And they shall go out and look on the dead bodies of the men who have rebelled against me. For their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.

2. Everlasting Life/Everlasting Contempt

Daniel 12:1-2

At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

3. Eternal Fire/The Fire of Hell

Matthew 18:6-9

Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes! And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.

4. Eternal Punishment/Eternal Life

Matthew 25:31-46

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” . . . Then he will say to those on his left, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. . . .  And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

5. Undying Worm and Unquenchable Fire (NT)

Mark 9:42-48

Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, “where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.”

6. Everlasting Destruction

2 Thessalonians 1:5-10

This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering—since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.

7. The Punishment of Eternal Fire

Jude 7

Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

8. Blackest Darkness Reserved Forever

Jude 13

[These people are] wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.

9. The Smoke of Their Torment Rises for Ever and Ever

Revelation 14:9-11

If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur 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 or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.

10. The Lake of Fire

Revelation 20:10, 14-15

And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. . . . Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Print Friendly
View Comments

Comments:


25 thoughts on “Ten Foundational Verses for Eternal Punishment in Hell”

  1. Well-chosen passages. It seems to me that the corresponding error to the one cited by Augustine is that of importing foreign questions on to the Scriptural passages about hell, so that we give answers about eternity that seem to be what the Scriptures speak of, but are not. This error happens often when interpreting Jesus’ parables, and it happens often here as well.

  2. Brian says:

    Is it accurate to say that Jesus is the gospel?:

    Question – What is the Gospel?

    Answer – Jesus is the gospel (good news)

    I’ve read definitions of the gospel by different people that usually put it this way: The gospel is Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. This is usually taken from 1 Corinthians 15. But I am wondering if all of that can’t be summed up by saying : Jesus is the gospel. Our gospel or the gospel as presented in the Bible (NT) is a person?

    1. Phil Allcock says:

      Brian, I would nuance slightly what you say:

      1 Corinthians 15 and Romans 1 both define the gospel as in essence: “Jesus Christ is Lord”. That is, the gospel is the proclamation that Jesus, the man who lived in Judea-Palestine is Christ, the long promised saviour king who would die to save his people, the Lord – the risen divine ruler of the universe. It is more than just a person – “Jesus is the gospel.” The gospel is the announcement of the offices and achievements of that person – viz the conquest of sin and death through his crucifixion-resurrection.

      Of course, there is another, oft-neglected passage that talks about what the gospel is: Revelation 14:6-7 6 Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth—to every nation, tribe, language and people. 7 He said in a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.”

      So the gospel includes the rightful response to the fact that Jesus is the risen Saviour and Judge (Rev 7 is pretty similar to Peter’s application of his sermon declaring the gospel in Acts 2)

  3. Theology Samurai says:

    Well, you see, Ed Fudge (the co-author of the book taking the opposing position) has responses to all these verses.

    With regard to “For their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.” he says, “Yeah, that’s right….worm shall not die, fire shall not be quenched…until the wicked are completely consumed. THEN the worm shall die and the flame shall be quenched.

    With regard to “some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” he says, “Yeah, see? Immortality is the gift of God for those who believe, and those who do not will be destroyed after a time of suffering. It is their *contempt* that is everlasting, not their suffering.

    With regard to “It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.” he says, “Yep, the fire that consumes!”

    With regard to ““Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. . . . And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
    he says, “Note, it says eternal punishment, not eternal conscious torment. You see, the original Greek indicates an action for which the results are eternal. That is, the duration of the punishment (annihilation) is eternal, the wicked will never be given immortality.”

    And so on and so forth, you get the idea.

    Nobody can fudge exegesis like Fudge

    1. Clarification Dave says:

      We’ve done a little back and forth in the past.

      Have you checked out Fudge’s third edition where he interacts with his critics a little more extensively and exegetically than the condescending (and exegetically weak) way you express here? Accusations of “fudging” are mere bluster unless one has actually interacted with what an opponent actually says.

      Just Saying.

      1. Theology Samurai says:

        Dave,

        Hope you’re doing well. No, I haven’t checked out Fudge’s “third” edition. Since the bulk of his argumentation is unconvincing in the first 2 editions, I can’t see how another one is going to save his case. Maybe by the 9th or 10th edition he’ll start to really produce some compelling work :)

        Perhaps you can work out Matt. 25:31-46 for me exegetically and explain how eternal punishment has an end and eternal life doesn’t? Thanks

    2. Ronnie says:

      TS: Not one of the passages you refer to even remotely suggests everlasting torment. Don’t get mad at Fudge for simply pointing out that the passages don’t actually say what you want them to say.

      The passages about worms and fire are especially humorous, as Isaiah 66:24 makes it clear that the wicked in question are corpses. But hey, who cares about what the text actually says.

      Incredible.

      1. Theology Samurai says:

        I’m not mad at Fudge at all, I’m grieved that he is misleading so many people though. His conclusions are based more on sympathy than exegesis. Why do you find his exegesis any more compelling than others who have dealt with the same texts but come to different conclusions? If he is going to overturn the majority position of the church over the last 2000 years, he is going to have to do better than he has thus far.

        I’m afraid the Bible reveals some things that we may not like to think about, and truths that are difficult to come to terms with (truths that even go against the grain of our intuitions and sentiments). However, I’m not going to change them simply because they don’t appeal to me.

        What’s really incredible, though, is the way Fudge deals with OT texts that are clearly (in their context) dealing with the judgment of the wicked *in this life* and then uses those texts to defend annihilationism. The Psalms he uses, for example, don’t even address eternal judgment.

        Clearly, Justin believes in ECT. So does Robert Peterson. Do they “care about” what the text actually says?

        1. Ronnie says:

          Grieved? Come off it TS. The tone of your poorly-argued post was one of hostility and mockery, not genuine care.

          I think the reason you believe in eternal torment is because the thought of people suffering forever brings you a lot of pleasure. If you don’t like me saying that, then feel free to stop probing into the hidden motives of conditionalists.

          Fudge actually presents an argument as to why those OT texts apply to future punishment. It’s an argument that two traditionalists (Christopher Morgan and Greg Koukl) recently made in a radio interview. If you don’t know what that argument is, then remain silent until you’ve learned a bit more.

          And yes, anybody who says that Isaiah 66:24 teaches everlasting torment either has not read it, or genuinely doesn’t care about what is actually says. Daniel Block, the OT scholar who contributed to Hell Under Fire frankly admits that the passage says nothing about everlasting suffering.

          I have articles on both Isaiah 66:24 and Matthew 25:46 on my blog. Feel free to read them and explain there how anything I say is incorrect. Or better yet, contact me via email and we can set up a skype call where you can put your arguments to the test. As it is, I have little patience for people who hide behind silly handles on somebody else’s combox.

          1. Theology Samurai says:

            I never said Is. 66:24 teaches ECT, the worm and fire language is repeated in the NT with reference to the final judgement.

            However, “Ronnie”, I don’t have time to interact with hotheads. Hose down and perhaps we can take this up again.

            Grace to you,

            1. Ronnie says:

              I never said Is. 66:24 teaches ECT

              Huh? You quoted Isaiah 66:24 (Jesus does not say “and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh”) and then took exception with Fudge’s exegesis. You’re obviously backpedaling now. Why are you doing that?

              the worm and fire language is repeated in the NT with reference to the final judgement.

              That’s right, and when it’s used in the NT there is likewise no indication that suffering or torment is in view.

              However, “Ronnie”, I don’t have time to interact with hotheads. Hose down and perhaps we can take this up again.

              Yep, that’s what I thought :)

              I’m actually quite calm, not sure why you would think otherwise. And why would you put quotes around my name? That’s strange.

              1. Theology Samurai says:

                I’m not backpedaling. Jesus applies the worm and fire language to the final judgment.

                “That’s right, and when it’s used in the NT there is likewise no indication that suffering or torment is in view.”

                Right, devouring worms and fire have nothing to do with suffering or torment. I wonder why the Bible uses such terminology? Perhaps consuming butterflies would have been more appropos?

                “I’m actually quite calm, not sure why you would think otherwise. And why would you put quotes around my name? That’s strange.”

                Accusing me of delighting in ECT in some implied perverse fashion, whining about the use of a psuedonym, etc. is why I think otherwise. If you have little patience for such things, why are you responding at all? I suppose if I used the name “Bob” or “Ronnie”, that would foster patience in you? That’s strange.

              2. Ronnie says:

                I’m not backpedaling. Jesus applies the worm and fire language to the final judgment.

                You are backpedaling. You explicitly took exception with Fudge’s exegesis of Isaiah 66, not his exegesis of Mark 9. You can admit you’re wrong, it’s ok. But I’m glad that you concede that Peterson is wrong to include Isaiah 66:24 in his list of “ten foundational verses for eternal punishment in hell.”

                Right, devouring worms and fire have nothing to do with suffering or torment. I wonder why the Bible uses such terminology?

                In other words you have no actual argument or exegesis to support your assertion. And yes, the worms and fire mentioned by Jesus have literally nothing to do with suffering or torment, hence the usage of those images in reference to corpses in Isaiah 66. If you don’t like that, take it up with the person who Isaiah is quoting in 66:24 (viz. God).

                Perhaps consuming butterflies would have been more appropos?

                Butterflies don’t eat dead bodies. Let’s be serious now. Oh, you were being serious. How embarrassing.

                Accusing me of delighting in ECT in some implied perverse fashion

                This is a method I sometimes use to force traditionalists to stick to the issues instead of trying to probe the motives of conditionalists. I find it particularly effective. How does that show that I’m not calm? What are you talking about?

                If you have little patience for such things, why are you responding at all?

                I’m responding to correct you, despite my impatience. Is that a problem? Why are you responding to me when you supposedly don’t converse with “hotheads”? Since that was obviously false, go ahead and comment on my article on Matthew 25:46. You challenged Dave to give his take on the passage, so step up to the plate.

                And yes, I would have more patience with someone who used his real name. Most people are annoyed by those who hide behind pseudonyms, especially when they are rude and cowardly. There is nothing strange about that at all.

                You came in here and accused Fudge of dishonesty, and then accused others of being driven by their emotions as opposed to exegesis. Feel free to withdraw those comments. Once you’ve done that, and are ready to seriously interact with the text, let me know.

              3. Theology Samurai says:

                I accused Fudge of being wrong, not dishonest.

                I checked out your blog, I see this topic is a hobby horse of yours. I’ll leave you to ride it.

                I’m satisfied with Peterson’s refutation of Fudge, as Larry Dixon and others. Your position is in the minority for a reason.

                Interesting that conscious torment is OK as long as it only lasts a few thousand years (let’s say, in Hitler’s case–he was really really bad), but eternal conscious torment–that’s abhorent. In essence, you just confirm what the wicked hope for, yeah, it will be hard, but it will eventually end. Once you’re dead, you’re dead.

                Best,

              4. Ronnie says:

                I accused Fudge of being wrong, not dishonest.

                No, you said that he “fudges” exegesis. To “fudge” means to intentionally misrepresent or distort something (e.g. “fudge the data”). Again with the backpedaling?

                I checked out your blog, I see this topic is a hobby horse of yours. I’ll leave you to ride it.

                In other words, you have nothing of substance to contribute and are afraid of engaging someone on the issues. Boy, your tone sure has changed since your first post.

                I’m satisfied with Peterson’s refutation of Fudge, as Larry Dixon and others.

                It’s not possible for me to care less about that fact.

                Your position is in the minority for a reason.

                Appeal to the majority, how funny. I’m glad Protestants take Sola Scripture seriously.

                Interesting that conscious torment is OK as long as it only lasts a few thousand years (let’s say, in Hitler’s case–he was really really bad), but eternal conscious torment–that’s abhorent.

                Who said anything about a thousand years of torment? What are you talking about?

                In essence, you just confirm what the wicked hope for, yeah, it will be hard, but it will eventually end.

                I could not care less if my view supposedly “confirms” what somebody hopes for. I’m interested in what Scripture actually teaches, and about that you’ve had very little to say, not surprisingly.

              5. Theology Samurai says:

                Oh, I see. I gave you too much credit. In your view, God is not just either. Hitler and your next door neighbor who isn’t a believer end up in the same “condition”

                Got it.

                Thanks

              6. Ronnie says:

                God will deal out justice in the manner he sees fit, not in the manner that some anonymous kid on the internet thinks is appropriate. Conditionalism easily accounts for degrees of punishment; I’m not sure why you would think otherwise.

                Hitler and your next door neighbor who isn’t a believer end up in the same “condition”

                On your view, both Hitler and my neighbor will end up in the same “condition”: suffering unimaginable torment forever. I guess you just confessed that on your view, God is not just.

                Got it.

                Keep going.

      2. Jackson Baer says:

        Titus 2:11- For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people.

        1 Timothy 4:10- This is why we work hard and continue to struggle, for our hope is in the living God, who is the Savior of all people and particularly of all believers.

        Romans 5:18- Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone.

        John 12:30-32- Then Jesus told them, “The voice was for your benefit, not mine. The time for judging this world has come, when Satan, the ruler of this world, will be cast out. And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.”

        Philippians 2:9-11- Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

        Psalm 103:8-10- The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever. He does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.

  4. Brad says:

    I was wondering if anyone knows of any books or articles that list the top ten passages for eternal punishment in hell and the top ten verses against eternal punishment in hell and then reason through why we should believe in the former?

    Thanks,
    Brad

    1. Jackson Baer says:

      Hope Beyond Hell by Gerry Beauchamin is a fantastic book as is Raising Hell by Julie Ferwerda. Of course if you’re interested in this doctrine you should read Love Wins and Erasing Hell as well.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yjRcO1Sm0HU

  5. Jackson Baer says:

    Why did you delete my comment? Because it disagrees with your blog?

    1. Ronnie says:

      Jackson: If your comment was deleted, it might have to do with the fact that you’re linking to a page that promotes your book. Somebody could see that as self-promotion spam.

      1. Jackson Baer says:

        I see but my site is a blog and spam doesn’t normally answer back :)

        Blessings to you…

        1. Justin Taylor says:

          I’m fine with your comment but didn’t want this to be a forum for promoting your book.

  6. Norma says:

    Jude 7 – Is Sodom and Gomorrah still burning?

    Matthew 7:11 If you then being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him?

    God does not take delight in the death of any of His children. I can’t imagine a Father who will want to watch His children, those who did not choose to follow Him, burn for eternity. Nor would we want to watch our loved ones — who chose not to follow Him — burn eternally.

    Jeremiah prophesied that Jerusalem would burn with a fire that could not be quenched (Jeremiah 17:27), but it burned down to ashes (2 Chronicles 36:19-21).

    “For behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch … And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the Lord of hosts.” Malachi 4:1, 3.

    Peace my brother in Christ.

Comments are closed.

Justin Taylor


Justin Taylor is senior vice president and publisher for books at Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

Justin Taylor's Books