Salvation 2.0: Part 3.1B: Everlasting, eternal, unquenchable fire

grace5Monty asked about the meaning of “everlasting fire” in the comments. My answer was pretty long and I thought worth posting as a post — because it’s a good question that deserves a thorough answer.

Monty,

Unquenchable fire

“Everlasting fire” in the NT is generally “unquenchable fire” which, in the NT, is always a reference to Isa 66 —

(Matt. 3:12 NAS) “And 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.

(Mk. 9:43 NAS) “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,

(Lk. 3:17 NAS) “And His winnowing fork is in His hand to thoroughly clear His threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into His barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

These all refer back to —

(Isa. 66:24 ESV) 24 “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.”

“The fire will not be quenched” means it cannot be put out until it completes its destructive work.

Isaiah is clear that the damned are “dead bodies”. The NIV translates “corpses.” There is no thought of eternal torture — just very certain punishment and destruction. The people who suffer unquenchable fire become corpses.

Fire that lasts forever

There is a verse that refers to fire that lasts “forever” — just one —

(Rev. 20:9-10 ESV) 9 And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them,
10 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. 

And only the devil, the beast, and the false prophet are subject to being tormented day and night forever. That phrase is never applied to humans.

I think I gave links last night to articles by Edward Fudge addressing the interpretation of this passage. He traces the language of “fire and sulfur” back to Sodom and Gomorrah and says the “forever” language is not used of eternity in the OT. It’s a testable hypothesis —

We begin with —

(Gen. 19:24-29 ESV) 24 Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the LORD out of heaven.
25 And he overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.
26 But Lot’s wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.
27 And Abraham went early in the morning to the place where he had stood before the LORD.
28 And he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah and toward all the land of the valley, and he looked and, behold, the smoke of the land went up like the smoke of a furnace.
29 So it was that, when God destroyed the cities of the valley, God remembered Abraham and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow when he overthrew the cities in which Lot had lived.

Here is the first and the seminal reference to “fire and sulfur” — and it refers to destruction and death only. But there is no “forever.”

(Isa. 30:33 ESV) 33 For a burning place has long been prepared; indeed, for the king it is made ready, its pyre made deep and wide, with fire and wood in abundance; the breath of the LORD, like a stream of sulfur, kindles it.

These is about the destruction of Assyria. Same as S&G.

Next is Ezekiel’s difficult account of Gog and Magog —

(Ezek. 38:21-23 ESV) 21 I will summon a sword against Gog on all my mountains, declares the Lord GOD. Every man’s sword will be against his brother.
22 With pestilence and bloodshed I will enter into judgment with him, and I will rain upon him and his hordes and the many peoples who are with him torrential rains and hailstones, fire and sulfur.
23 So I will show my greatness and my holiness and make myself known in the eyes of many nations. Then they will know that I am the LORD.

Same thing. Commentators speculate as to which literal earthly nation is in mind, but in Ezekiel, this is about the destruction of a nation, not the world.

(Lk. 17:28-30 ESV) 28 Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot– they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building,
29 but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all–
30 so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed.

Now, this is interesting. Jesus says that the fire that will come when he re-appears will be like the fire and sulfur of S&G — which was really bad but finite and deadly. It did not produce eternal torture.

(Rev. 9:17-18 ESV) 17 And this is how I saw the horses in my vision and those who rode them: they wore breastplates the color of fire and of sapphire and of sulfur, and the heads of the horses were like lions’ heads, and fire and smoke and sulfur came out of their mouths.
18 By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed, by the fire and smoke and sulfur coming out of their mouths.

(Rev. 9:18 ESV) 18 By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed, by the fire and smoke and sulfur coming out of their mouths.

However you interpret the Revelation, the fire and sulfur kill. They aren’t said to be tortured in perpetuity.

(Rev. 14:9-11 ESV) 9 And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand,
10 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.
11 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.”

Now, here we’re talking of people. And there’s torment, fire, and sulfur. The smoke goes us forever and ever — which sounds very much like —

(Isa. 34:9-10 ESV) 9 And the streams of Edom shall be turned into pitch, and her soil into sulfur; her land shall become burning pitch.
10 Night and day it shall not be quenched; its smoke shall go up forever. From generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass through it forever and ever.

This language in Rev is a near exact copy of Isaiah’s language re the destruction Edom — which was about the death and destruction of a nation — not perpetual torture. The point of the smoke going up forever is that its destruction will always be visible — bringing perpetual shame in an honor/shame culture. And Rev borrows this language regarding damnation.

(Rev. 19:19-21 ESV) make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army.
20 And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur.
21 And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh.

In this final battle, the beast and false prophet are thrown in the lake of fire and brimstone alive. The “rest” — the people — are “slain by the sword” and the “birds were gorged with their flesh.” They died. And their corpses are eaten by birds — that is, they aren’t buried. It’s a death of shame in an honor/shame culture.

(Rev. 20:7-10 ESV) 7 And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison
8 and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea.
9 And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them,
10 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.

The Devil is throne in the lake of fire with beast and false prophet to burn “forever and ever” but everyone else is “consumed” by the fire from heaven. This is language from Torah that refers to dying from the fire. For example,

(Lev. 10:2 ESV) 2 And fire came out from before the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD.

So Revelation uses the language of death for humans.

(Rev. 21:8 ESV) 8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

Of course, “fire and sulfur” refer to death throughout scripture. And it means dead — with the exception of Satan, the beast, and the false prophet of Revelation — and even then some conclude that the language does not mean that even Satan is tortured eternally — although I find the question uninteresting. The people all die.

Edward Fudge argues that even Satan, the beast, and the prophet ultimately die, as the language of perpetual torment is prophetic language refer to destruction. I’m not entirely sure I agree. His arguments are here: Part 1 and Part 2. See also this from Scot McKnight. McKnight is persuaded that only demonic beings are said to be tortured forever. Humans are said to die. He agrees with Fudge that “second death” seems to refer to being dead forever, not tortured forever.

Eternal fire

I need to add the verses on “eternal fire”. They are —

(Matt. 18:8 ESV) 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.

(Matt. 25:41 ESV) “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.

(Jude 1:7 ESV) 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.

Notice that Jude says that Sodom and Gomorrah suffered “eternal fire.” But the fire is not burning today and hasn’t burned for thousands of years. “Fire eternal” (as it is in the Greek) must mean finite fire with perpetual consequences — they died and will not be resurrected. It cannot mean “fire that burns forever.”

Thus, Jesus’ threat of the “eternal fire” is the same. It doesn’t necessarily burn forever. It burns with forever effect — except it would seem for the demonic beings described in Revelation 19.

Summary

Read in context, particularly in light of Jesus’ and John’s use of images from the OT, these phrases refer to destruction coming from God with eternal effect. God gives eternal life, which lasts forever, and eternal death, which lasts forever. The being alive and the being dead are what last forever.

Nowhere is any human said to be tortured forever. In fact, those passages that speak of the apocalyptic beast and false prophet and Satan being tortured forever very specifically say that their human allies die and become corpses.

There are references in the Gospels and in Rev to humans being thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur — which is God’s wrath, of course. But never are they said to burn there for all eternity.

Finally, notice how Paul says nothing about fire and brimstone. His gospel is rescue from destruction and death. None of these images appear in his writings, but then he is writing to an audience that includes Gentiles who might not understand the imagery.

Profile photo of Jay Guin

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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15 Responses to Salvation 2.0: Part 3.1B: Everlasting, eternal, unquenchable fire

  1. Larry Cheek says:

    Jay,
    Is there only one false prophet? How many times are multiple false prophets mentioned in NT? My understanding of these prophets is that they were human. Can you prove otherwise?

  2. Jeff Hennen says:

    “Eternal fire” may also mean the domain or realm from which it came, rather than a fire with endless consequences. Either way, the scriptures are not in favor of the traditional interpretation of a fire that is “forever burning, punishing, tormenting, destroying” but somehow is unable to fully accomplish its work.

  3. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Jeff wrote,

    “Eternal fire” may also mean the domain or realm from which it came, rather than a fire with endless consequences.

    I agree. The domain or realm, I think, is normally the age to come. And so “eternal fire” means fire coming with the age to come. “Eternal judgment” is judgment with (or as part of) the age to come. Something like that.

  4. Larry Cheek says:

    Jay,
    In all these translations God can kill then afterwards cast into hell. I am going to assume the understanding that God is not going to kill faithful servants then cast them into hell. Therefore, this killing is the unfaithful servants. If they are killed, was this the first death or the second? If it was the first death, does God kill humans today? So this must be speaking about the second death (where they are thrown into (hell, really the lake of fire) this is the same terminology for the Devil’s final abode. Once the individual is dead, why should they fear their dead body being thrown into hell except that the soul is still alive? The soul then lives after the body is dead. Wasn’t it Jesus who stated this?
    You have been applying the term hell and Gehenna as the garbage dump, but that does not fit the concept displayed in these verses. The (ESV) does not use the word hell in Revelation it uses Hades, same place just different title.

    Luke 12:5
    (ASV) But I will warn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, who after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.

    (BBE) But I will make clear to you of whom you are to be in fear: of him who after death has power to send you to hell; yes, truly I say, Have fear of him.

    (CEV) God is the one you must fear. Not only can he take your life, but he can throw you into hell. God is certainly the one you should fear!

    (DRB) But I will shew you whom you shall fear: Fear ye him who, after he hath killed, hath power to cast into hell. Yea, I say to you: Fear him.

    (ERV) I will show you the one to fear. You should fear God, who has the power to kill you and also to throw you into hell. Yes, he is the one you should fear.

    (ESV) But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!

    (GNB) I will show you whom to fear: fear God, who, after killing, has the authority to throw into hell. Believe me, he is the one you must fear!

    (GW) I’ll show you the one you should be afraid of. Be afraid of the one who has the power to throw you into hell after killing you. I’m warning you to be afraid of him.

    (ISV) I’ll show you the one you should be afraid of. Be afraid of the one who has the authority to throw you into hell after killing you. Yes, I tell you, be afraid of him!

    (KJV) But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.

    (KJV+) ButG1161 I will forewarnG5263 youG5213 whomG5101 ye shall fear:G5399 FearG5399 him, which after he hath killedG615 hathG2192 powerG1849 to castG1685 intoG1519 hell;G1067 yea,G3483 I sayG3004 unto you,G5213 FearG5399 him.G5126

    (LEB) But I will show you whom you should fear: fear the one who has authority, after the killing, to throw you into hell! Yes, I tell you, fear this one!

    (LITV) But I will warn you whom you should fear; fear the One who after the killing has authority to cast into Hell; yea, I say to you, Fear that One!

    (MKJV) But I will warn you of whom you shall fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yea, I say to you, fear Him.

    (RV) But I will warn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.

    (YLT) but I will show to you, whom ye may fear; Fear him who, after the killing, is having authority to cast to the gehenna; yes, I say to you, Fear ye Him.

  5. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Larry,

    Context answers your questions

    4 “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do.
    5 But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! – Luke 12:4-5

    Verse 4 is speaking of human authorities. They can kill in this life only.
    By way of contrast, God has authority to kill in this life. This is the first death. He can also throw you post-death into Gehenna like trash. This is the second death.

    Jesus’ point is that the second death is worse than the first because it results in a fiery punishment. You don’t just die.

  6. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Jesus never says the soul lives and body dies.

  7. Larry Cheek says:

    Jay,
    Two questions then. Post-death is after the first death, unless the dead that are not in the book of life are resurrected into a new body also how could they suffer in the second death? Dead bodies suffer? Are you telling us that the soul dies when the body dies?

    If the soul dies when the body dies in the first death then it must be resurrected with the body, the soul is also a participant in the fiery death of the trash dump.

    Now, you state,”Jesus’ point is that the second death is worse than the first because it results in a fiery punishment. You don’t just die.”
    My question to that is, how can that death be any worse than when any human is totally consumed in a fire today? You are identifying that both the body and the soul dies together and in a fiery death today both are killed just as in the “trash dump”.
    The only reasoning that I can conclude is that for the body and soul in the second death to endure punishment which is (different than a fiery death in this world) the body will have to be able to endure the burning while still alive. This is exactly the opposite as I understand Edward to be teaching.and you have been agreeing with him. How could this be possible unless they are also resurrected with an undestructible body? Actually, if a human body was thrown into the lake of fire it would probably be consumed faster than some of the house fires where people die today. Could an individual trapped in a house that was burning actually have to endure a greater amount of pain as the body could be only partially burnt, I have reference to the burning similar to the burning stake that many Christians endured in their first death. You know like a splash in the lake and immediately consumed? This is the concept I see in “The Fire that Consumes”. Anything beyond that initial splash is somewhat like eternity.

  8. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Larry,

    The suffering of the Second Death will be whatever God wants it to be — and laws of physics will not stand in the way of God’s will. Therefore, the suffering of the damned will be whatever God considers just — which will in fact be just.

    The saved are promised a resurrection body like that of Jesus. We aren’t told what kind of existence the damned will experience post-death — not that I’m aware of. That is, the word “resurrected” is rarely applied to the damned, and yet they remain alive in some sense — enough that they can be punished and suffer the Second Death. Will they exist bodily for that time?

    (John 5:28–29 ESV) 28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

    At least this one time, Jesus refers to the damned as “resurrected.” NT Wright has argued in some detail that the Greek word for resurrection meant “bodily resurrection.” (He was not considering the Conditionalist argument and is not a Conditionalist.) Hence, if Jesus is being literal here (not always east to tell), the damned arise with a body of some sort — NOT like the body of Jesus, I’m sure — and then suffer the Second Death and punishment.

    If separation from God is agony (which I believe it to be), the duration of their punishment doesn’t depend on the nature of the fire so much as how long they must wait for the fire.

    We should also consider —

    (Matt 10:28 ESV) And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

    Plainly Jesus is teaching the destructibility of the soul. And this passage also implies that the damned are raised with a body of some sort.

    The difficult part of the saying is what is the “soul” if not the eternal part of the damned? And yet the soul is plainly not eternal because Jesus promises destruction of the body and soul — using a word also used to mean “kill.”

    “Soul” in this context plainly means the part of the damned that survives the first death and that dies (with a body of some sort) the Second Death at the hands of God.

    So it doesn’t mean “immortal soul” but something more like “the self” or even “your resurrected self.” There is some part of the damned that survives death and will die a second death — but it is embodied in some sense. But that doesn’t mean their original body is restored and so they die instantly in the Lake of Fire. It could mean that — but punishment could still be due to the delay during which they are separated from God but not yet annihilated. The scriptures don’t seem that interested in the question except plenty of times the punishment of hell is compared to burning with fire — but that doesn’t have to be literal. It could be that separation from God in fact is agony like dying in a fire.

    (The question isn’t that hard unless you focus on where the damned are between death and the Second Coming — which the Bible says precious little about. Hence, I like the “outside of time” position.)

    The most common image associated with eschatological fire is being consumed — destroyed utterly and forever. But sometimes, the image is pain and torment, as we’ve seen. Those are not inconsistent. But I don’t think God punishes a middle schooler the way Hitler will suffer. That would not be just.

  9. Larry Cheek says:

    Jay,
    In this statement,”But I don’t think God punishes a middle schooler the way Hitler will suffer. That would not be just.” This middle schooler, has he reached the age of accountability? That would make a great difference. Because, if the middle schooler had not reached the age where he had rejected God, he would not be condemned. Now, if you had used an example of human who had exceeded the age of accountability and rejected the calling of God, then we would have a comparison. Notice both have sinned but the magnitude of Hitler’s sin would justly render to him a greater punishment. But, that is mans thoughts about the judgement. Harm done to mankind is seen as mankind to deserve greater punishment but, God’s instructions do not demand that man be judged upon that platform. If God thought Hitler’s abuse of mankind was so terrible, he could have intervened at any time and stopped Hitler. He did not and I am not going to presume why he didn’t. But, both of these individuals are equal in their rejection of God, and any actions beyond that point is irrelevant to their damnation.
    Many of you are believing in degrees of both salvation and punishments drawn from passages of scripture in which I see as not addressing that subject.

  10. seedsowerjames says:

    Jay, I’m grateful for this article. I’ve been wrestling with this issue for quite a while. You’ve given me some things to think about that I haven’t noticed before. I was wondering if you could give me your take on the rest of the Revelation 14:11. You dealt with the first part of the verse, “And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever,” connecting it with Isaiah 34:10 and suggesting that the idea is not unending torment but that their destruction will be forever visible. That interpretation seems reasonable to me except I can’t square it with the next statement in the verse, which says, “they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image…” That to me sounds like unending torment and sounds like the same fate as the devil, the beast and the false prophet in Rev. 20:10. Would you mind sharing your thoughts with me about that? And maybe also, aren’t the beast and the false prophet symbolic of certain evil people? My interpretation is that they represent the Roman empire or emperors and those who promoted emperor worship. Yet sounds like they will be tormented forever.

  11. Monty says:

    James,

    Having reread the article that was the first thing I noticed that Jay didn’t address that second part of that verse.

  12. Larry Cheek says:

    I know that Jay places a lot of confidence in Mr Fudge’s books about Hell. In an attempt to understand his message I bought the “Fire that Consumes” Third edition and attempted to read it. I read to chapter 8, 73 pages of 378 before credits. This book was not an easy read, therefore I fizzled out. I decided that maybe I could make it through the DVD Titled “HELL” and I did but it still did not convince me. These two concepts kept bugging me, 1 the amount of study and the amount of time which he (a highly educated individual, and a lawyer to boot) needed to explain what hell was about in scriptures, 2 The motive which drove Mr Fudge to study this amount and devote the time required to arrive to a conclusion. You see I believe that the scriptures were written to those who had accepted God/ Christ. This was not the Lawyers, the Leaders, the Elders of Israel but was the common people of the land, farmers, carpenters, shepherds who had very little education. The Video explains that Mr. Fudge’s father was a preacher and he preached along with many of his piers, about the Hell which will be suffered forever. Mr. Fudge had a dear friend in school who wrecked his truck and was killed. This friend, was not attempting to live a life anything like the instructions in scripture. Mr. Fudge was very worried that his friend would be in Hell suffering the unending torment. Within the two statements above the driving force to devote the time and study to attempt to prove a different position.
    After noticing Jay’s commitment to the correctness of Mr. Fudge’s conclusions, I decided maybe I missed something, I then committed to reading the smaller book “Hell: A Final Word” attempting to keep an open mind to see if his conclusions could be validated. It was tough, there was comments of degrees of punishment, according to the nature and scope of sins which an individual had committed. If an individual had only committed a very small amount of sin then their punishment would compared to just a few lashes. I kept remembering that through the history of the Israelites God inflicted much pain and suffering for sins that man would consider as mediocre. How could this be a division of sin. How would God see the sin of a man who had killed many men as greater than the sin of rejecting him? I mean rejecting or rebellious to God /Christ is the ultimate sin, None can be greater.
    Then at page 140 of Hell: A Final Word: I find this statement, “This is the only text in the whole Bible that speaks of anything being tormented forever. The statement applies to the Devil, Beast, and False Prophet, neither of which is a human being. Scripture nowhere says that any human being will be tormented forever. Jesus does say the wicked will suffer “eternal punishment” (Matt. 25:46), which Paul explains to be “eternal destruction” (2 Thess. 1:9).”
    So with his interpretation no human will ever be a False Prophet/Teacher or no humans make up the Beast (which is identified in scripture as (governments or nations), because then being servants of Satan they would receive the same punishment as Satan in the Lake of Fire, forever and ever. To me this disqualifies all of the study and conclusions to make Hell no different than any human who has been overtaken and consumed by fire while in this life. Tell those of Sodom and Gomorrah that their second death will be no different than their first. You see in the first death was a fearsome thing but Jesus warned that the second death would be much more fearful than the first, and that death would not be of a human body. Do you really believe that being a False Prophet or an unjust ruler (Beast) would require more punishment than being rebellious to God.
    Another guess what, if we see a wicked Nation, Government, Ruler or a False Prophet then we can be assured that they are not human, must be some kind of Demon.

  13. Alabama John says:

    God allowed and caused many terrible things to happen to His chosen people throughout history. Hitler was one of many.
    All that description about smoke, fire, and especially the smell of sulfur sounds exactly like the scene and smell of cannon fire from artillery and tank fired rounds where they hit and destroy today.
    Sounds more like a temporary battle field scene than eternity.
    If any believes its suffering and burning for eternity for most of us humans, we should stop singing many of our songs we sing at church. Songs like: Just as I am and Amazing grace. God will destroy yhe devil and his angels and save us. Love causes us to do good, not fear!

  14. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    SSJ,

    Here are the two verses in question.

    (Rev. 14:11 ESV) 11 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.”

    (Rev. 20:10 ESV) 10 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.

    The first verse denies rest “day or night.” The second verse promises “torment” not only “day and night” but also “forever and ever.” They are not the same. How significant is the difference?

    Well, let’s dig a little deeper into the language of the Bible. Psa 110, which is a central text for Hebrews, comes to mind —

    (Ps. 95:7-11 ESV) 7 For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. Today, if you hear his voice, 8 do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness, 9 when your fathers put me to the test and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work. 10 For forty years I loathed that generation and said, “They are a people who go astray in their heart, and they have not known my ways.” 11 Therefore I swore in my wrath, “They shall not enter my rest.

    In Heb 3 – 4, the author uses “rest” to speak of eternity in the presence of God. We’ll cover how Promised Land became the New Heavens and New Earth in the next series on Wright’s new book. For now, suffice to say that God’s rest is the NHNE — the blessed, eternal afterlife with God. Hence, to deny rest, based on Psa 95, is to fall away or rebel against God and so fail to receive the promised reward. Hence, Rev 14:11 says that the damned will not enter God’s rest, consistent with Psa 95 and Heb 3-4.

    This is all rooted in Deu (as is much of the NT) —

    (Deut. 12:8-11 ESV) 8 “You shall not do according to all that we are doing here today, everyone doing whatever is right in his own eyes, 9 for you have not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance that the LORD your God is giving you. 10 But when you go over the Jordan and live in the land that the LORD your God is giving you to inherit, and when he gives you rest from all your enemies around, so that you live in safety, 11 then to the place that the LORD your God will choose, to make his name dwell there, there you shall bring all that I command you: your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your tithes and the contribution that you present, and all your finest vow offerings that you vow to the LORD.

    In fact, I think John likely had this passage in mind:

    (Deut. 28:64-66 ESV) 64 “And the LORD will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other, and there you shall serve other gods of wood and stone, which neither you nor your fathers have known. 65 And among these nations you shall find no respite, and there shall be no resting place for the sole of your foot, but the LORD will give you there a trembling heart and failing eyes and a languishing soul. 66 Your life shall hang in doubt before you. Night and day you shall be in dread and have no assurance of your life.

    which refers to the penalties for violating covenant and so being exiled from God. Again, as we’ll cover in the next series, exile and damnation are very closely related concepts in the scriptures — and Heb 3 – 4 makes the application of “rest” in the OT to the afterlife quite explicit.

    See also —

    (Jos. 1:13-15 ESV) 13 “Remember the word that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, saying, ‘The LORD your God is providing you a place of rest and will give you this land.’ 14 Your wives, your little ones, and your livestock shall remain in the land that Moses gave you beyond the Jordan, but all the men of valor among you shall pass over armed before your brothers and shall help them, 15 until the LORD gives rest to your brothers as he has to you, and they also take possession of the land that the LORD your God is giving them. Then you shall return to the land of your possession and shall possess it, the land that Moses the servant of the LORD gave you beyond the Jordan toward the sunrise.”

    (Jos. 1:14-15 ESV) 14 Your wives, your little ones, and your livestock shall remain in the land that Moses gave you beyond the Jordan, but all the men of valor among you shall pass over armed before your brothers and shall help them, 15 until the LORD gives rest to your brothers as he has to you, and they also take possession of the land that the LORD your God is giving them. Then you shall return to the land of your possession and shall possess it, the land that Moses the servant of the LORD gave you beyond the Jordan toward the sunrise.”

    And there are many, many more “rest” verses in the OT with eschatological echoes attached.

    So the idea of “rest” as reward for following God is not nearly as obscure as we imagine. In fact, I can’t help but think of “There Is a Place of Quiet Rest” And the list of “rest” hymns at http://library.timelesstruths.org/music/Select_Hymns/Rest/?sortby=subject.

    PS — This is different from Fudge’s argument in The Fire that Consumes. He did most of his work long before we had the benefit of recent teaching on how to connect OT and with NT and New Perspective theology. (I’d love to edit his book one day to bring it current with recent studies)

  15. Larry Cheek says:

    Jay,
    I believe that you are the author of these statements, “Well, let’s dig a little deeper into the language of the Bible. In fact, I think John likely had this passage in mind: (Deut. 28:64-66 ESV)

    These must be your assumptions, but if they are they are in direct conflict with the narrative of The Revelation. The first verse identifies the author and the instructions which were sent by his angel. In my opinion, John was not in need of or even allowed to reference any previous scripture to compare or correlate with what he was writing. John testified who the author was, and for us to believe any different would not only cast a reflection upon John’s word but, would testify that we do not believe that the message that is stated about the author is true. In fact then, if we do not treat this revelation as a completely new message we are subject to discrediting the words of Jesus. I have no reason to doubt Jesus’s message in (Rev 22:16 ESV) “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”
    The text will direct us to portions of the scriptures which the author (Jesus) sees applicable to our understanding. By the way I did not find any.

    Rev 1:1-2 ESV The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, (2) who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw.

    Rev 1:10-11 ESV I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet (11) saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”

    (Rev 1:19 ESV) Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this.

    (Rev 2:1 ESV) “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands.

    (Rev 2:8 ESV) “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life.

    (Rev 2:12 ESV) “And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: ‘The words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword.

    (Rev 2:18 ESV) “And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: ‘The words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze.

    (Rev 3:1 ESV) “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.

    (Rev 3:7 ESV) “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens.

    (Rev 3:12 ESV) The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.

    (Rev 3:14 ESV) “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation.

    (Rev 10:4 ESV) And when the seven thunders had sounded, I was about to write, but I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Seal up what the seven thunders have said, and do not write it down.”

    (Rev 14:13 ESV) And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”

    (Rev 19:9 ESV) And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”

    (Rev 21:5 ESV) And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

    Some men seem to believe that the complete Bible from Rev. back to Gen. has to contain all of the elements which God is conveying to mankind as if all these were started in the beginning. If that was true God would never said that he was, “making all things new”. He started that process with the sending of his Son.

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