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Forever and Ever

Forever and Ever

The Bible speaks of the wicked being tormented "forever"—doesn't it?

The term “forever,” as used in the Bible, means simply a period of time, limited or unlimited. It is used 56 times in the Bible in connection with things that have already ended. It is like the word “tall,” which means something different when describing people, trees, or mountains. In Jonah 2:6, “forever” means “three days and nights.” (See also Jonah 1:17.)

In Deuteronomy 23:3, “forever” means 10 generations. It can also mean “as long as he lives,” or “to death.” (See 1 Samuel 1:22, 28; Exodus 21:6; Psalm 48:14.) So, the wicked will burn in the fire as long as they live, or until death. This fiery consequence of sin will vary according to the degree of sins for each individual, but after the punishment, the fire will go out.

The teaching of eternal torment has done more to drive people to atheism and insanity than any other invention of the devil. It is slander upon the loving character of a tender, gracious heavenly Father and has done untold harm to the Christian cause.

Death, Not Eternal Torment
The Bible tells us that “the wages of sin is”—not eternal life in hellfire—but “death” (Romans 6:23), the same result God assured Adam and Eve would be theirs if they ate the forbidden fruit.

The prophet Ezekiel stated clearly that “the soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4), and a plethora of other Bible passages endorse this position. The prophet Malachi wrote that sinners would burn up as “stubble” and become “ashes under the soles” of the feet of the redeemed (Malachi 4:1, 3). Even the final fate of Satan is explicitly pronounced in Ezekiel 28:18, where the Bible says that the enemy of souls will be reduced to “ashes upon the earth.”

Compare that with Psalm 37:10 (“For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more”); Psalm 68:2 (“as wax melts before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God”); and other similar verses. Soon you get a clear picture that the purpose of the fires of hell is to eradicate sin and to expunge the universe of its lethal presence.

Interestingly, it was the devil who was first to suggest that sinners would not die (Genesis 3:4). A hell where sinners never perish would prove the devil right and make God a liar, who told Eve she would “surely die” as a result of transgression (Genesis 2:17).



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Hell in the Bible

The word “hell” is used 54 times in the Bible. It is translated from several different words with various meanings, as indicated below:
In the Old Testament:
  • 31 times from the Hebrew “Sheol,” which means “the grave”
In the New Testament:
  • 10 times from the Greek “Hades,” which means “the grave”
  • 12 times from the Greek “Gehenna,” which means “a place of burning”
  • 1 time from the Greek “Tartarus,” which means “a place of darkness”

What is Purgatory?

A tradition held by the Catholic Church that teaches people who are not good enough to be worthy of heaven, but not bad enough to deserve hell, suffer in an intermediary state until their sins are purged.

But is it in the Bible? Click here to learn more.

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