Appendix 2 - Scriptures used to Support Eternal Torment

Scriptures Used to Support Eternal Torment

Summary of Argument:

All of the scriptures used to support eternal torment are broad enough to include either eternal torment or eternal death. And there are numerous scriptures that state explictly that the punishment for sin is death and never mention eternal torment.


The following scriptures are used to support the doctrine of eternal torment for unbelievers. However, the words “eternal torment” are used only once in scripture and then to describe the eternal fate of Satan. The words are never used to describe the eternal fate of the unredeemed. There is no scripture that says the unredeemed will suffer eternally. All scriptural support for the doctrine is based upon scriptures that are broad enough to mean either eternal death or eternal torment, and there are 48 scriptures teaching that death is the eternal fate of the unredeemed. All of the arguments for eternal torment of the unredeemed are based upon scriptures that do not mention eternal torment.

Psalm 86:12,13

I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart: and I will glorify thy name for evermore ... For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell."

This scripture is used to prove that the soul that sins will be condemned to hell. Hell does exist and souls of the unredeemed will tormented there but not eternally. Indeed, hell itself will be destroyed in the lake of fire.1 It is certainly true that the soul that sins will be condemned to hell, but in the end the soul that sins shall die2 because the wages of sin is death3 and when that soul is cast into the lake of fire, scripture refers to it as the “second death.” 4

Psalm 86:12,13 does not mention eternal torment and therefore does not teach it.

1. Revelation 20:14 " And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death"

2. Ezekiel 18:4 "the soul that sinneth, it shall die." See also Ezekiel 18:20, 27, 32.

3. Romans 6:23 "The wages of sin is death."

4. Revelation 21:8 "shall have their part in the lake of firewhich is the second death."

Isaiah 66:24

And they shall go out and look upon the corpses of the men who have transgressed against Me. For their worm does not die, and their fire is not quenched. They shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.

Christ quotes this passage in Mark 9:44. The passage speaks specifically of corpses, not sentient conscious living people. No one is writhing in pain in this verse; they are all dead. The word “worm” in the Greek means exactly that: “worm.” This picture is a pile of dead bodies smoldering and eaten by worms as a message conveying exactly what scripture states repeatedly, that the wages of sin is death. This concept is taken from Gehenna, which was the Valley of Hinnom outside of Jerusalem where the Canaanites had performed child sacrifice. It was a place of horror, death and unspeakable sin. Perhaps the bodies here are the bodies of those who performed those sacrifices.

Matthew 7:23

And then I will profess to them, I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity.

This verse has been quoted as proving that death in scripture does not mean death, but instead means separation from God. The verse simply does not say that. Jesus Christ excludes from Himself those who never knew Him, but this verse refers to souls who pretended to know Him but did not. It makes no mention of the final state of the unredeemed.

Matthew 25:41

Then shall He say unto them on the left hand, Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.

The everlasting fire referred to here is the lake of fire. The lake of fire is required to be everlasting because Satan will be tormented forever in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10). However, just because the fire is eternal and the ordinary unbeliever is thrown into it following the judgment does not mean that the ordinary unbeliever will receive the same punishment as Satan. On the contrary, Revelation 21:8 states that the unbeliever’s part in the lake of fire is a “second death” whereas Satan’s part is "eternal torment."1

Matthew 25:46

And these will go into everlasting punishment, but the righteous to eternal life

Those who teach eternal torment argue that this passage means that the unredeemed will never really die, but be burned forever in an everlasting punishing. But this is grammatically incorrect: word does not mean punishing; the word means punishment.2 The scripture does not say what the punishment is. Many presume that the punishment is eternal torment, but not only does this verse not say mention eternal torment, the is only one verse that mentions eternal torment and that verse describes the eternal fate of Satan. The everlasting punishment referred to in Matthew 25:46 is death, the second death, which is what Revelation 21:8 describes to be what happens to unbelievers when they are cast into the lake of fire. Matthew 25:46 specifies that the the punishment (the second death) is “everlasting” in order to distinguish it from the first death, which is not everlasting.

Mark 9:43,44 (Matthew 8:18)

If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.

Those who argue for eternal torment argue that the word "worm" means 1) people, or 2) it means eternal worms that are eternally tormenting people who never die. This teaching is incorrect for the following reasons: 1) The Greek word that is translated “worm” means the same as the English word: it means “worm.” In this passage, Jesus was quoting Isaiah 66:24 that graphically represents death as the final end of sin: Isaiah states “... they shall look upon the carcasses 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.” The Isaiah passage speaks of dead carcasses and their literal worms. 2) There is simply no scriptural support for eternal worms in an eternal hell torturing people who never die. If this were the case then God would be resurrecting dead sinners for the sole purpose of judging them and burning them alive and eaten by worms forever because they never came to Christ. Not even Satan is eaten by worms in addition to be tormented in the lake of fire.

This passage mentions unquenchable fire because it is referring to the fires of hell. Although the first of hell are unquenchable, hell not eternal and they end when hell itself is cast into the lake of fire and destroyed in the second death.3

Comment on the Death of Hell page 124

However, the fire of the lake of fire is eternal because it will torment Satan for eternity (Revelation 20:10). The unredeemed, however, are judged for their own sins and their punishment for sin is death.4 Their final end in the lake of fire is death.

Luke 13:28

depart from Me, all ye workers of iniquity. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all other prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.

This passage teaches only that the unredeemed will be aware of what they missed. It does not mention eternal torment.

Luke 16:23

And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

This parable speaks of the torments of hell but there is nothing in this passage that says that those torments will last forever. Therefore, this passage does not teach eternal torment.

The torments of hell do exist, but these torments must end because death, hell and the unredeemed are all destroyed in the second death (Rev. 20:14). All of the unredeemed will face a final “second death,"5 not eternal torment. Scripture repeatedly warns of this second death from Genesis through Revelation. None of these scriptures indicate that this "death" is actually eternal torment:

It is the eternal death of the soul that all unbelievers must face, not eternal torment (Revelation 21:8):

Comment on The Parable of Lazarus page 30

Scripture states that death, having been subjected to the second death itself (Rev. 20:14) ceases to exist (Rev. 21:4). The same word is used to describe what happens to the unredeemed and to hell.

Second Thessalonians 1:9

These shall be punished with everlasting destruction...

The Greek word here means “destruction” not destroying. The word translated "destruction" is a noun, not a participle. It describes a one-time occurrence and not an on-going act repeated for eternity. The passage means that destruction in the second death will be permanent and everlasting, meaning that there is no hope of a resurrection or spiritual existence as there was after the first death. There are other constructions of the Greek that would mean eternal destroying, but they are not used here. Ultimately, those who reject Christ will receive exactly what many anticipate: eternal destruction, ie. eternal death.

The alternative Greek grammatical constructions are examined in:

Comment on Eternal Punishment, Eternal Destruction page 55

Jude 7

... as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

There is no question that the lake of fire is eternal fire because Satan, the antichrist and the false prophet will be tormented in it forever.6 The question is therefore not whether the fire is eternal, but what will happen to the unredeemed when they are thrown into it. Simply because Satan is punished eternally in the lake of fire does not mean that all unredeemed humans will be condemned to the same fate as Satan. Indeed, scripture repeatedly states that each person will be judged according to his own works (Revelation 20:12,13), not Satan’s works. Scripture teaches that they (their souls) will be punished in hell and later their souls will die the second death in the lake of fire (Revelation 21:8). Jude does not mention eternal torment nor does it teach it.

Jude 13

... raging waves of the sea foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.

Blackness of darkness forever is a picture of death. There is no mention of torment in this verse.

Revelation 14:9-11

If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand ... He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.

By its own terms (both at the beginning of this verse and at the end of it), this passage refers only to those who worship the beast and receive the mark of the beast. Therefore this passage cannot refer to all of the unredeemed. It is limited to those who worship the beast.

That being said, although the torment of the beast worshipers is day and night, the passage does not say how many days and nights the punishment will last. That is, the phrase “day and night” means that it is constant; it does not mean that the constancy is eternal. The fact that the smoke will rise “forever” does not mean eternal torment; it means smoke rising forever.

Smoke rising forever refers to distance rather than time.

The context of this verse is judgment upon earth in the Tribulation period. The warning comes from an angel speaking to men on earth and it immediately follows the proclamation that the Great Whore (a city) has been destroyed, and the smoke of its burning rises forever as well (Revelation 19:2:3). Like the description of the fate of the Great Whore on earth, this passage is a description of the fate of beast-worshipers in the Tribulation. The passage refers to a particular torture of the Tribulation period in this life and not in the final state.

The argument that the unredeemed are being tortured forever because the smoke is rising forever is conclusory at best. Although the passage does refer to the smoke of their torment going up forever and ever, the passage alludes to Isaiah 34:9 where God’s vengeance falls upon Edom and “the smoke thereof shall go up forever and ever.” That passage does not mean that Edom will never stop smoking; it means that the smoke rises as far as the eye can see.

Another use of the same words to describe smoke rising forever is found in Revelation 19:3 that refers to the smoke of the great city that will rise forever. The reference in Revelation 19:3 and in Revelation 14:9-11 is to distance, not time. The great city will not smoke forever and neither will Edom because God will create a new heavens and a new earth where the first heaven and the first earth will pass away (Revelation 21:1) and burning cities will be no more. Thus the reference to a massive column of smoke, not smoke from a never ending fire.

Comment on Smoke Rising Forever page 23

Revelation 19:2,3

…For true and righteous are His judgments: for He hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand. And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up forever and ever.

This verse, cited by The Catholic Encyclopedia as scripture that explicitly teaches eternal torment, mentions neither eternal torment nor the unredeemed. Instead it deals with the physical destruction of a city. Her smoke rising up forever and ever is a physical column of smoke.

Revelation 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.

This verse is cited by The Catholic Encyclopedia as explicit scriptural proof of eternal torment for the unredeemed, but it makes no mention whatever of the unredeemed. It describes only the eternal torment of Satan, the false prophet and the antichrist (the “unholy trinity”). This verse is irrelevant to the final state of the unredeemed. The treatment of the unholy trinity is radically different from the treatment of the unredeemed. This is the only scripture in the Bible that mentions eternal torment.


1. Revelation 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."

2. There are four ways to express on-going punishing. See Comment on Eternal Punishment page 59

3. Revelation 20:14 "And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death."

4. Romans 6:23 "The wages of sin is death."

5. Revelation 21:8 " But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

6. Revelation 20:10 "And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstoneand shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.