Is the concept of eternal torment in Hell really Biblical? Most Christians think there is a place of eternal fire and torment called Hell which will be the ultimate fate of the wicked. Satan, they believe, is to rule in this limited kingdom of Hell and torture his unwilling subjects for all eternity. The concept of an eternal fiery Hell designed to torment sinners forever has been taught by the Catholic Church and accepted as true for many centuries. Integral to this concept is the proposition that no one will ever really die, since upon the death of your external mortal body, your spirit immediately (supposedly) travels to Heaven, Hell, or Purgatory. You either live forever in heaven with God, or you live forever in torment in Hell with Satan and his angels - at least that is what is taught and believed by most of the Christian world.

I would like to explore what the Bible really teaches and how it compares to this Catholic concept of Hell and death. Lets start in the book of Romans-

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

Note the wages for sin is death, not eternal punishing and torment in some place called Hell. If Christ did not die in our place, if He did not take our sins to the cross and pay the death penalty that we are condemned to as sinners, then the price for sin is not paid and we retain our sins, and we will surely pay the death penalty ourselves because of our sins. 

Ezek 18:4 Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.

Ezek 18:20 The soul that sinneth, it shall die.

Scripture makes very clear that unrepentant unbelieving sinners will surely pay the penalty of death for their sins if they do not believe in Jesus Christ:

John 5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
John 10:28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

Note that there are only two fates listed. Sinners will perish, but the faithful will receive eternal life. It should be plain that these verses say nothing about sinners living forever in eternal torment. If sinners perish (die) and do not have eternal life, then what exactly is death and what happens when you die?

Eccl 9:5 For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.
Eccl 9:6 Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.

Psa 115:17 The dead praise not the LORD, neither any that go down into silence.

Psa 146:4 His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.

Death here is described as the very thoughts of a person perishing, that the dead know nothing, and do not even praise the Lord. The dead return to the earth, the grave, there is no conscious spirit that survives to ascend to heaven. Death is obliteration. Next let's look at what has to be the most quoted verse from the Bible-

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

What Christian does not know this verse? Maybe they can quote it by heart, but do they really understand what it says? Again there are only two choices presented. Believers will receive eternal life, but the unbeliever will perish. Eternal life or eternal death. The wicked will not receive eternal life or eternal punishment, they will die, which means to perish! When you die, you are gone, you no longer exist, not even in some spirit form.

John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

In context, the unbeliever will not receive eternal life, but rather eternal death, and death is obliteration. But you may ask, what about this verse:

2 Cor 5:8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

Doesn't this prove that when the faithful die, they immediately ascend to heaven in spirit? No it does not. Let me explain why. If the dead rest in the grave awaiting their resurrection, death then is like a sound sleep. Note the following-

Deu 31:16 And the LORD said unto Moses, Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers; ...

1 Ki 2:10 So David slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David.

Acts 13:36 For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers,

Acts 2:34 For David is not ascended into the heavens: ...

(Note that David, though sleeping with his fathers (dead), is not ascended into heaven. He is still in his grave.)

1 Ki 11:43 And Solomon slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David his father: and Rehoboam his son reigned in his stead.

2 Sam 7:12 And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom.

John 11:11 These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.
John 11:12 Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well.
John 11:13 Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep.
John 11:14 Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.

1 Cor 15:51 Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
1 Cor 15:52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
1 Cor 15:53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
1 Cor 15:54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
1 Cor 15:55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

(Note that immortality is not received or "put on" until the second coming. We do not have it until then.)

1 Th 4:14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
1 Th 4:15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent (precede) them which are asleep.
1 Th 4:16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
1 Th 4:17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

In many places the Bible confirms that death is like a sound sleep, though I have listed just a few. Note that sleep cannot be limited to the mortal body, it is what happens to the conscious mind. When you fall asleep and sleep soundly, you have no knowledge of how long you have slept. You lose track of time and reality. When you awake it is as if only a moment has passed, yet it may have been many hours. Death is exactly the same. Upon your death your thought processes cease, and you sleep in the grave until your resurrection. So 2 Cor 5:8 cannot be used to prove instant ascension to heaven, not in view of the many many verses that clearly call death a sleep.

But doesn't the Bible teach that Jesus, after his death, descended into Hell to preach there and free the captives?

Eph 4:8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
Eph 4:9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?
Eph 4:10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)

Verse 9 is basically asking- What significance there is to the resurrection of Jesus if He did not first die and rest in the grave? The resurrection represents victory over death, the penalty for sin. For Jesus to have victory over the grave, He must first die. Jesus was dead, in the grave, and remained there until His resurrection early on Sunday. He went nowhere, and did nothing for that period of time.

The Thief on the Cross

Wait, you say, Jesus told the thief on the cross that He would be with him that day in paradise!

Luke 23:43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.

The punctuation has been supplied in the translation and is not present in the original texts, let me just move one comma-

Luke 23:43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee To day, shalt thou be with me in paradise.

In English that sounds stilted and awkward. It would be properly interpreted as-

Luke 23:43 And Jesus said unto him,
Verily I say unto thee today, thou shalt be with me in paradise.

It is a promise that the thief will see paradise, but it was not a promise to be fulfilled that day. But that is unfair, you say. It is not what the Bible means. You are twisting it to make it fit your own premise. Look at the following verse from John-

John 20:17 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

Here Jesus is very clearly telling Mary Magdalene that he has not yet ascended to heaven, and this was said on Sunday! So He could not possibly have ascended to heaven with the thief on Friday afternoon. Jesus had spent the entire Sabbath at rest, asleep in death in the tomb, to be resurrected on Sunday morning by His Father in a triumphal victory over death.

Paradise Proved to be Heaven from Scripture

Paradise is mentioned 3 times in scripture:

Luke 23:43  And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.

2 Cor 12:4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

Rev 2:7  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

The above verse says the tree of life is in the middle of paradise. Right?

Rev 21:10  And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, ...
Rev 22:2  In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

That says the tree of life is in the New Jerusalem. Right?

John 14:2  In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
John 14:3  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

That refers to the New Jerusalem, which is the Father's house, which is in heaven. Right?

Rev 21:2  And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

Rev 21:10 And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,

That says the New Jerusalem comes to earth from heaven. Right?
Conclusion: the Bible teaches that paradise and heaven are the exact same place!

After the Second Death - No more Death

Now let's move to the book of Revelation and the ultimate fate of death-

Rev 20:14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
Rev 20:15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

1 Cor 15:26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.

Note that death and hell (the grave) are cast into the lake of fire and destroyed. They will no longer be. Death and the grave will be ended, never again to plague mankind. If all believers receive the gift of eternal life, and they lead a life without sin, then there can be no death or grave. They both cease. This second death of the lake of fire is what faith in Jesus will keep you from-

Rev 2:11 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.

Rev 20:6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.

The second death is permanent destruction. For the wicked it will mean eternal obliteration. It is the total destruction of the second death that Jesus gained victory over for us, if we have faith. Just as Matthew 16:18 states, the gates of hell (the grave/death) shall not prevail against the faithful church, not even the second death.

Satan's Final Fate

So what is Satan's fate if there will not be anywhere for him to rule over sinners?

Rev 20:10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

Satan will also be cast into the lake of fire (the second death), where he will perish, along with the beast, false prophet, death and the grave. Oh, but I hear you say, this verse says there will be torment forever. The Greek word translated as forever is aion (G165), which does not always mean forever as we understand it. From this Greek word aion we derive the word eon. An eon is an unspecified, indefinite period of time, but it does have an end. Geologists use the word to describe very long periods of geologic time or ages, but one eon does end and another begin.

From Strong's (emphasis is mine):

165. aion, ahee-ohn'; from the same as G104; prop. an age; by extens. perpetuity (also past); by impl. the world; spec. (Jewish) a Messianic period (present or future):--age, course, eternal, (for) ever (-more), [n-]ever, (beginning of the, while the) world (began, without end). Comp. G5550.

Here is another case for aion meaning an age, but not in perpetuity-

The term Aeon appears in the New Testament where Paul refers to "the rulers of this age (aion)" [1 Cor 2:6] and in the Johannine phrase "life everlasting (zoe aionios). [John 3:16, 36; 4:14; 5:24; 6:27; 6:40; 12:50] ...

Yet, Aeon had another meaning in the ancient world which is frequently overlooked. It referred to the vast ages, the twelve Aeons or Platonic Months with make up the Great Year. Because of the precession of the equinoxes, the sun moves backward through the zodiac, one degree every seventy-two years. Every 2,160 years the spring point or vernal equinox slips into a new zodiacal sign. We are now entering the Age or Aeon of Aquarius (circa 2000-3000 A.D.), two thousand years ago, the Age of Pisces (circa 1-2000 A.D.) was getting underway.

Source: Jesus Christ, Sun of God, by David Fideler, Copyright 1993, published by Quest Books - Theosophical Publishing House, Wheaton Illinois and Madras, India, ISBN 0-8356-0698-1, page 160.

So Rev 20:10 can be saying that the torment will be for an eon, an unspecified but finite period of time, but that it will end. The lake of fire is where the concept of an eternal burning hell comes from. Yet the lake of fire is described as the second death as we saw in Rev 20:14. It is a death from which no one will ever be resurrected. It is obliteration for eternity.

Need more definite proof? Let's look at Ezekiel, where the fate of Satan is more clearly described-

Ezek 28:12 Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.
Ezek 28:13 Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.
Ezek 28:14 Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.
Ezek 28:15 Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.
Ezek 28:16 By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.
Ezek 28:17 Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee.
Ezek 28:18 Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffic; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee.

It is well recognized that this passage, though addressed to the King of Tyre, is actually speaking of Satan, who originally was a covering cherub (angel) in heaven. The covering cherubs are represented on either end of the ark of the testimony, in the sanctuary (Exo 25:19-21) above the mercy seat which covers the Ten Commandments. Satan will first be displayed before all so that they may see the father of sin. He will then be consumed by fire and destroyed, brought to ashes on the earth as he is cast into the lake of fire as Rev 20:10 describes. He will no longer exist!

Satan's demise is also prophesied by a head wound in Genesis:

Gen 3:15 And I will put enmity between thee (Satan) and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it (Jesus) shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

The following passage from the King James also makes Satan's ultimate fate clear:

Heb 2:14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he [Jesus] also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;
Heb 2:15 And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

The word translated as "destroy" above in the Greek is katargeo, which is defined in Strong's as follows (emphasis is mine):

G2673. katargeo, kat-arg-eh'-o; from G2596 and G691; to be (render) entirely idle (useless), lit. or fig.:--abolish, cease, cumber, deliver, destroy, do away, become (make) of no (none, without) effect, fail, loose, bring (come) to nought, put away (down), vanish

Eternal Everlasting Fire - Does It Burn Forever?

Mat 18:8 Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.
Mat 18:9 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.

Mat 25:41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

Jude 1:7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

Note carefully the last verse. Sodom and Gomorrha surely did burn, but are they burning now? Of course not. So just what is meant by an eternal or everlasting fire? Let me use a match as an illustration. If you light a match and let it burn to ashes, the match cannot be reconstituted into a match, it has been eternally burned and destroyed. The match burned until there was nothing left to burn, then the fire went out. This is what happened in Sodom and Gomorrha. They burned until there was nothing left to burn, and then the fire went out. The results of the fire are complete destruction, but the fire itself does not burn eternally.

2 Pet 2:6 And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly;

2 Pet 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

Here in 2nd Peter, Sodom and Gomorrha are explicitly held up as examples of the fate of the wicked, which will similarly be reduced to ashes in the lake of fire (hell fire) of Revelation 19 and 20. It will burn and destroy Satan and his angels as well as all sinners, but then it will go out. The results of that fire are everlasting, but the fire will indeed go out, just exactly as it did with Sodom and Gomorrha. Then there will be a new heaven and a new earth:

Rev 21:1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
Rev 21:2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
Rev 21:3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
Rev 21:4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

The "former things" are sin, death, Satan and all the rest of the wicked. They will pass away in the lake of fire, be reduced to ashes and be no more.

The Unquenchable Fire - Does It Burn Forever?

Isa 66:24 And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.

Mat 3:11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:
Mat 3:12 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

Mark 9:43 And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:
Mark 9:44 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
Mark 9:45 And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:
Mark 9:46 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
Mark 9:47 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire:
Mark 9:48 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

Jer 17:27 But if ye will not hearken unto me to hallow the sabbath day, and not to bear a burden, even entering in at the gates of Jerusalem on the sabbath day; then will I kindle a fire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched.

The key to understanding the phrase unquenchable fire is in the last quote, Jer 17:27. Israel did not heed the warning and as a result Jerusalem and the Temple of God were burned to the ground by Nebuchadnezzar (See II Kings 25:8,9). Is Jerusalem burning today? Obviously not. An unquenchable fire clearly does not burn forever. So what does the phrase mean? A fire that cannot be quenched burns until its divine purpose has been accomplished and then it goes out. Man cannot extinguish or quench the fire, but it does indeed go out when there is nothing left to burn.

Everlasting Punishment?

Mat 25:46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

The destruction of the wicked in the lake of fire is permanent. It is a punishment that cannot be reversed. The act of punishing will come to an end, but the consequences will last for eternity.

Everlasting Destruction?

2 Th 1:8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:
2 Th 1:9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;

By now the pattern should be clear. Does this passage speak of the fiery act of destruction of the wicked as continuing forever? No, as we have seen in the preceding passages the fire will indeed go out, but the destruction caused by the fire is everlasting. The actual act of destruction is relatively brief, but the destruction caused by the lake of fire will be permanent. So once the lake of fire has done its destruction, the process is over, forever. That is what is meant by everlasting destruction.

Mat 10:28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him (God) which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

What could be more clear? God will destroy the soul (life) and body of the wicked in hell (the second death or lake of fire). It will be complete destruction of the wicked.

Psa 37:10 For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be.

Psa 37:20 But the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the LORD shall be as the fat of lambs: they shall consume; into smoke shall they consume away.

Psa 37:38 But the transgressors shall be destroyed together: the end of the wicked shall be cut off.

Psa 92:7 When the wicked spring as the grass, and when all the workers of iniquity do flourish; it is that they shall be destroyed for ever:

Psa 104:35 Let the sinners be consumed out of the earth, and let the wicked be no more. Bless thou the LORD, O my soul. Praise ye the LORD.

Mal 4:1 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.
Mal 4:2 But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.
Mal 4:3 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.

Isa 47:14 Behold, they shall be as stubble; the fire shall burn them; they shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame: there shall not be a coal to warm at, nor fire to sit before it.

So clearly, when the all the above passages are considered in total, the fate of Satan as well as the wicked is destruction, complete and eternal destruction, not an eternal life of torture and torment. The lake of fire (hell fire) will be an unquenchable fire. It is complete destruction, but not eternal fire. It will burn until its divine purpose of destroying the chaff (the wicked) has been accomplished, and then it will go out, and there will not be so much as a warm coal remaining.

Now before you come to the conclusion that I don't believe in Hell, let me say that I most certainly do, but it is clear that Hell's fire is a lot hotter than most Christians believe. Scripture makes it clear that Hell's fire is so hot that Satan and all the wicked will completely burn to ashes like stubble. They will be cut off and cease to exist! There will be punishing torment in the lake of fire, but that torment will come to an end, and the fire will go out when the wicked are destroyed by the second death.

The Tree of Life and Immortality.

Gen 3:22 And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:
Gen 3:23 Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.
Gen 3:24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

Adam and Eve were expelled from the garden of Eden specifically so they could not eat from the tree of life and live forever a life of sin. To eat from the tree of life is to live forever, so had Adam and Eve eaten from that tree, sin would have existed forever, and could never come to an end. As a result of this deprivation, Adam and Eve and all of humanity were condemned to die. However, after their resurrection, the faithful people of God will again be permitted to eat from the tree of life:

Rev 2:7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

Rev 22:14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

So the righteous will live forever because they will be given access to the tree of life, which will be in the New Jerusalem (Rev 22:2). Will the wicked live forever without such access? No. Eternal life in perpetual torment for sinners is simply not possible because they will not be able to partake of the tree of life.

Rev 22:2 In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
Rev 22:3 And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:

No more curse means no more death, no more sin, no more sinners, no more sickness, no more graves. This verse is not limited to just heaven or the New Jerusalem, it is describing the entire universe. The universe will return to a state of complete perfection, as it was before Satan's rebellion.

The Rich Man and Lazarus

Many will try to use Luke 16:19-31 as proof that there is conscious life after death, and that there is a place of eternal torment (Hell). It is important to point out that Luke 16:19-31 is the fifth in a series of parables as follows -

Parables are designed to teach great moral principles. Each feature of the parable is not to be taken absolutely literally. The question in each parable is what are the great moral lessons. We get into deep trouble if we attempt to take each detail of the parable literally rather than seek the lesson that Jesus is trying to teach. Let's go ahead and assume for a moment that the parable of the rich man and Lazarus is a literally true story-

Heaven would be a terrible place if we beheld the constant, ever present suffering of our friends for all of eternity. So, why did Jesus use this story and tell it as He did? What lesson(s) was He trying to teach?

The Jews had a common story describing death as passing through a valley of darkness and they pictured salvation as fleeing to the security of Abraham's bosom. The Jews also believed that riches were a sign of God's favor and poverty a sign of His displeasure. Surely the poverty of Lazarus was an indication he had committed some grave sin, the Jews thought. But, the rich man in the story, whom the Jews thought blessed of God, ends up in Hell, while the poor man is in heaven. Jesus had reversed the outcome from what the Jews expected. This is why Jesus used the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in the way he did. It was not intended to convey the exact circumstances of Heaven or Hell, but rather to show to the Jews that they had grave misconceptions about who was saved and who was lost.

These are the main points the parable teaches:

1. Riches gained by greed, dishonesty or oppressing the poor are not a sign of God's favor. Wealth is simply not an indicator of one's salvation.

2. The parable describes a great fixed gulf between the saved and the lost. Jesus clearly communicated that there is no second chance after death. The decision made in life determines our eternal destiny, and it simply cannot be changed after death.

3. Jesus points out that if the Pharisees rejected the clear teachings of God's word regarding salvation, they would also reject such a mighty, supernatural spectacular miracle as one being raised from the dead.

Note that a short while later in John 11:11-14,43,44 Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. As a result the Jews were threatened and attempted to kill Lazarus (John 12:10). They also became so angry with Jesus that they plotted to destroy Him as well. So the words of Jesus in Luke 16:31 were indeed prophetic and fulfilled.

So parables are not meant to be taken literally as written. You must read beyond the literal text to see the important principle or lesson(s) being taught.

Our God is a Consuming Fire

Now I would like to pursue another line of thinking- the glory of God, and how it relates to this subject. Starting in the book of Matthew-

Mat 24:30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

Luke 9:26 For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels.

And then Revelation-

Rev 1:7 Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.

The key point to note here is that when Jesus next returns at His second advent, He comes in all his glory and every living person on earth (all the tribes and every eye) will see that glory. So how is that significant? Note the following-

2 Th 2:8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:

Because Jesus will return in all His glory, His brightness will consume the man of sin (the antichrist). Sin and wickedness cannot look on the full glory of Jesus. It is destroyed.

Note what Jesus had to say when Moses asked Him to see His glory in the book of Exodus-

Exo 33:20 And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.

No man in a sinful fallen state can see the face of Jesus in it's full glory and live. To do so means instant death.

Now note the following verses-

Exo 24:17 And the sight of the glory of the LORD was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel.

Isa 4:4 When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning.
Isa 4:5 And the LORD will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defence.

Isa 30:27 Behold, the name of the LORD cometh from far, burning with his anger, and the burden thereof is heavy: his lips are full of indignation, and his tongue as a devouring fire:

Deu 4:24 For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God.

Heb 12:29 For our God is a consuming fire.

If our God is a devouring and consuming fire, then what exactly does he consume? From the verses we have already looked at it should be clear. Sin, wickedness, and unrighteousness are consumed by the fire of the full glory of God.

Now what follows builds on everything we have looked at so far. Note the words of Isaiah-

Isa 33:14 The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?

The question is asked, who will be able to dwell with the devouring fire, the everlasting burnings? Who is this consuming fire? As I have already shown it speaks about God himself, He is the eternally burning fire. Now for the answer to the question posed in verse 14-

Isa 33:15 He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil;
Isa 33:16 (KJV) He shall dwell on high: his place of defence shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure.
Isa 33:17 (KJV) Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off.

Amazing! It is the RIGHTEOUS that will be able to dwell forever with eternal consuming fire! The RIGHTEOUS will see Him in all His beauty and His fully burning glory for all of eternity! Where God is in his full glory, there is an eternal consuming fire so great that sin cannot exist. The blazing glory of Jesus will expose and consume all sinners like stubble. Only the righteous will remain.

Now think about this for a moment. Satan had lived with God as a covering cherub and was able to talk to and look upon the face of God. Then iniquity was found in him, and he rebelled against God and his law. Satan considered the law and rule of God as confining, oppressive, and most unreasonable. To Satan, heaven had become a place of torment, filled with the eternal fire of the presence of God, something Satan could no longer tolerate in his rebellious pride. To Satan, heaven had become what people today describe as --- Hell.

So the description that the Catholic church (and much of Christianity) uses for Hell is actually Satan's concept of heaven!


John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 3:16 rings more true, and exposes more lies that you probably ever thought! ONLY the righteous will receive eternal life. Hell as taught by most of the Christian world is pure fiction and is not taught by the Bible.

Now, I believe that you know the biblical truth.

See also 

What Did Jesus Christ Accomplish With His Death?
What Really Happens When You Die?

A Catholic rebuttal by Mario Derksen.