*DOCTRINE OF HELL*
part 3 of 3
*4C. DEGREES OF PUNISHMENT*
While all sin is reprehensible, the Scripture does teach that some sins are worse than others. In Jn19:11 Christ told Pilate, “…he who delivered me up to you has the *GREATER SIN*.” In other passages the Lord ranked commandments as to lesser or greater importance (Matt5:19;22:37-40). While the basis for entrance into eternal condemnation is rejection of Christ, deeds play a role in determining the degree of punishment, see the mention of books containing deeds being examined at the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev20:12); just as salvation is free through faith in Jesus, Rom6:23, but rewards in heaven are based on works of obedience to Christ 1Cor3:10-15.
Eternal hell will be great pain and misery for all, but several verses indicate there will be degrees of punishment. Those who rejected Christ in person, and those today who reject Him despite a great knowledge of the truth will be especially accountable. Imagine the guilt of those who rejected despite being eyewitnesses to Christ’s actions on earth. No doubt God will also inflict special judgment upon those who have martyred His children. Matt10:15, Matt11:20-22,24; Luke12:47-48; Rev6:10; Rev18:6,20,24
*4D. The LOCATION for the Lake of Fire*
While Hades seems to be “below,” the location for the Lake of Fire is unknown. Rev. 20:11 may be teaching that the present heavens and earth are destroyed before the Great White Throne Judgment. The new heavens and earth do not appear until after the lost are cast into the Lake of Fire (Rev20:11, 21:1-5). Therefore, the Lake of Fire does not seem to be in the center of this earth. Its location is a mystery.
*4E. GLIMPSE INTO HELL*
Will the saints ever be able to see what goes on in hell? There will certainly be a barrier between heaven and hell for there will be no escape or transfer out of eternal punishment, but saints will be able to see what horrors they have missed by the Lord’s grace, perhaps temporarily after Armageddon: Is66:24, Rev14:10
We can be certain that if the saints do see a glimpse of hell their response will not be one of sorrow but of gratitude towards God for His great salvation.
*5. THE DURATION OF PUNISHMENT*
Because the idea of unending punishment in the Lake of Fire is so horrible, people often reject it. Some who believe in the existence of such a place might avoid its unpleasant aspects by teaching that there can be a second chance for salvation after one has entered the flames. Others think unbelievers are totally annihilated, suffering for only a brief duration. Still others have developed the unscriptural notion of purgatory. This makes the Lake of Fire into a place of temporal punishment from which people can escape after a limited amount of suffering for sin.
It is quite fair to admit that the subject of eternal punishment is terrifying and repulsive. Nevertheless, it is very much Scriptural. God is love but also He is holy and just.
*5A. The Word ”EON” meaning sometimes ”long period of time”*
One of the Greek words translated “eternal” or “everlasting” is eon. In some verses ”EON” can mean a very long period of time but limited, like: Matt13:39-40, Matt24:3b, Rom12:2, 1Cor10:11
*5B. The Word “Eon” Meaning Eternal*
While in some contexts “eon” may refer to a limited time span, it also means “unending, eternal, everlasting” in other contexts. Eon definitely means eternal when used in relation to:
–God: ”Now to the King eternal”[eon] 1Tim1:17;
–Jesus Christ: Jesus ”is the same yesterday, today, yes and forever” unto the eons or ages, Heb13:8;
–God’s Word: “The Word of the Lord abides forever” unto the eons, 1Pet1:25
–God’s Kingdom: “He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; [unto the eons] and His kingdom will have no end” Luke1:33;“For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever [unto the eons] Amen” Matt6:13
–The Believer’s Life: “if any man eats of this bread, he shall live forever”[for the eon], Jn6:51, also Jn8:51-53, Jn10:28,11:26
*5C. The Phrase “unto eons of eons”*
Thus far we have concluded that the word translated age (eon) can mean eternal in certain contexts even when it is used only once. Furthermore, it is vital to realize that in 3 out of 4 verses cited as using eon in reference to punishment the apostle John uses a special construction. Rev14:11; 19:3; 20:10 all repeat some form of the word eon in a phrase that can be roughly translated “unto eons of eons.” A further study of the approximately 22 uses of this phrase leads to the conclusion that it always means everlasting. It is used of the length for God’s existence, rule, or glory in Rom16:27; Gal1:5; Eph3:21; Phil4:20; 1Tim1:17; 2Tim4:18; Heb13:21; 1Pet4:11, 5:11; Rev1:6,18; 4:9,10; 5:13; 7:12; 10:6; 15:7 and of the duration of God’s Kingdom in Rev11:15. These total 18 times. The phrase is used of the duration for the believer’s life in Rev22:5. The three remaining times refer to the length of punishment (Rev14:11; 19:3; 20:10). The word “eon” by itself can mean eternal. The phrase “unto eons of eons” always means eternal, even when speaking of the duration of hell.
Phil4:20, Rev1:17-18, Rev4:9, Rev22:5
*5D. Conclusion on EON*
It is true that the particular Greek word translated “eon” can mean a long, but limited time in certain contexts (and does so at least 37 out of 95 times). Nevertheless, that word can also mean “eternal” because it is used of the length for God’s existence, His Word, His rule, and the duration of a believer’s life. Even more important is the fact that the phrase “unto the eons of eons” always means eternity because it refers to God in 18 out of 22 usages. Three of the remaining references concern punishment. The only objective conclusion from the Biblical data is that unbelievers will suffer eternal punishment.
“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” Rev14:11
*5E. DESCRIPTIONS which Establish Eternal Punishment*
The concept of unending time can be expressed without using a specific word for “everlasting.” The idea of “UNQUENCHABLE FIRE” (Matt3:12;Mark9:43,48) coupled with an “UNDYING WORM” (Mark9:48) speaks of everlasting fire without cessation of existence.
“And if your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire….and if your eye causes you to stumble, cast 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, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched” Mark9:43,47-48
*5F. A Second Greek Word Meaning Eternal: EONIOS or AIONIOS*
–In the 64 uses when it is used without reference to punishment, it always means eternal: Matt18:8; 2Thess1:9; Jude7; Heb6:2;
“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’….And these shall go away into ETERNAL PUNISHMENT, but the righteous into ETERNAL LIFE” Matt25:41,46 (the duration of life for the saved and the duration of punishment for the unsaved is the same: eternal)
Bible doctrine is not determined by its popularity or comfort level. Man does not have the freedom to accept or reject a Biblical teaching based on his own fallen sense of justice or depraved sense of reason. It seems “reasonable” to many that salvation comes through works, but the Bible teaches otherwise: salvation is not by works, Eph2:8-10 but a gift through faith, Rom6:23, Jn3:16. To some it seems “reasonable” that a Christian can lose salvation, but the Scriptures teach eternal security. The Scripture is our authority for doctrine and ethics. Regardless of whether eternal punishment seems reasonable to a given individual, unending punishment for those who reject Christ is a Biblical fact.
Some deny that man has an eternal soul and is created in the eternal image of God, different from the animals which they try to live like (”survival of the fittest”, ”evolution”) but truth does not change. You are eternal and will be conscious forever in heaven or in hell.
How can you be enjoying heaven knowing that you have friends/family suffering in hell? Rev21:4 says that God will wipe the tears of the saved ones, which means He will also wipe the source of tears: He will cause believers to forget, wiping their memory just as His own memory about ”past things”; God can choose to forget forever, see also Micah7:19
–Satan lies to people that hell is in fact ‘annihilation’ or ‘soul-sleep’ to minimize the effects of rejecting Christ; Rejection of God’s Son is a far more serious sin than many people realize. Any sin can be forgiven, but not the sin of rejecting Christ until death: after death repentance is too late Heb9:27.
*God will in no way tolerate those who regard His Son as a worthless waste of time. Let the reader be warned. Trust in Christ as the only Savior or face God’s wrath.*
End of part 3 of 3