At the end of Matthew 25, Jesus presents the righteous as “sheep” and the unrighteous as “goats,” and concludes that the goats “will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (25:46). Initially, this statement seems to suggest that the unrighteous will suffer consciously in everlasting torment. However, in the Judeo-Greek of the Gospel, the word for “punishment” (κόλασις; kólasis) does not denote ongoing suffering; instead, this kind of punishment is the equivalent of “death.” In Jesus’ eschatological illustration of sheep and goats, he asserts that the righteous will enjoy eternal life, while the unrighteous will experience eternal death.

In the few times that Matthew’s term for “punishment” (κόλασις; kólasis) appears in the Greek translation of Israel’s Scriptures, it refers to death. God says to Ezekiel that Israelite idol worshipers have enacted their own “punishment” (κόλασις; Ezek 14:3-4, 7 LXX; cf. 43:11; 44:12) of being “cut off” (כרת/ἐξαίρω) and “destroyed” (שׁמד/ἀφανίζω) from the midst of Israel (14:8-9). Later, God asks the Israelites to repent in order to avoid the “punishment (κόλασις; kólasis) of your iniquity” (Ezek 18:30). With reference to this punishment, God says, “Cast away from yourselves all your ungodliness… for why should you die (ἀποθνήσκω), house of Israel? For I do not desire the death of those who die (θάνατον τοῦ ἀποθνήσκοντος)” (18:31-32). In Ezekiel, the potential “punishment” for wayward Israelites is death.

Similarly, the punishment of κόλασις means “death” in Jeremiah. The prophet says that those in his hometown of Anathoth “have spoken words against my life, and have hidden the punishment (κόλασις; kólasis) they [meant] for me” (Jer 18:20 LXX). Jeremiah’s enemies had hoped to punish him with death, but God promises to place that same punishment upon them: “Thus says the Lord concerning the men of Anathoth who seek your life…. I will punish them. The young men shall die (מות/ἀποθνήσκω)” (11:21-22). In light of the few instances of κόλασις in the Septuagint (cf. 2 Macc 4:38; 4 Macc 8:9; Wis 11:13; 16:24), when the Greek translation of Scripture uses the word for “punishment” that appears in Matthew 25:46 it refers to finite death, rather than infinite torment.

Equipped with biblical language and context, a return to Matthew 25:46 shows that “punishment”—just like in Ezekiel and Jeremiah—means death, not continual conscious suffering. Since Yeshua states that the righteous will have eternal “life” (ζωή), the unrighteous should experience the exact and equal opposite: eternal “death.” This idea might be confusing for modern readers; after all, if death marks the end of one’s conscious experience, how can death be “eternal” (αἰώνιος; aiónios)? One of the fundamental beliefs of first-century Judaism was bodily resurrection, which ensured that “death” would not go on forever; rather, the dead would be raised to life. In Matthew, Jesus declares that when he comes to judge the earth, some will continue to live and some will die without the hope of resurrection. Thus, the deaths of the “goats” will be eternal.

The same picture of eternal life and death appears at the end of Isaiah. After God creates a new heavens and new earth, the ever-living righteous “go out and look at the corpses of the people (פגרי האנשׁים; phigrei ha’anashim) who have rebelled against [God]. For their worm will not die (תולעתם לא תמות; tolatam lo tamut), nor their fire be quenched (אשׁם לא תכבה; isham lo takhbeh)” (Isa 66:24). This is the prophetic picture on which Jesus bases his sheep/goats metaphor. According to Isaiah, the unrighteous end up in an everlasting fire but they are “corpses” (פגרים; pegarim), not living beings. That is, while their “fire” (אשׁ; aish) is eternal, and their bodies never stop decaying—hence the reference to the resilience of their “worm” (תולע; tola)—the unrighteous are dead, never to rise again. Likewise, the Son of Man sends the unrighteous to “eternal fire” (πῦρ τὸ αἰώνιον; pur tò aiónion; Matt 25:41) that “destroys body and soul” (10:28). In Matthew, as in Isaiah, the fire burns forever but those inside are dead. 

If one reads Jesus’ reference to “eternal punishment” out of its literary and historical context, one might assume that the Messiah speaks of eternal suffering in hell. However, an investigation into the world of ancient Israel shows that such “punishment” describes the finality of death. In Jesus’ presentation of eschatological husbandry, it does not end well for the goats—but their fate is not everlasting torment. According to Matthew, the unrighteous die for good, while the righteous continue to enjoy eternal life in the kingdom of God.

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91 COMMENTS

  1. I am dumbfounded. We have always been taught that those who don’t believe will suffer torment in flames of fire. That they are “raised”, judged, and then thrown into hell. Does this belief come from Dante’s Inferno? Does the story of the Rich man and Lazerus contradict this? Or does that story mean something else? Sorry if I come off as confusing… but I am really confused right now. I am hoping you can desipher my ramblings. I have been a beliver for 42 years now and I feel as if everything I have been taught has been a lie.

    • Good questions, Candi. According to biblical thought, it’s correct to say that the unrighteous are “raised, judged, and then thrown into hell.” Jesus calls this place Gehenna. However, per the above article, this post-resurrection scenario doesn’t lead to eternal conscious torment according to Matthew 25. Dante’s view of hell is popular but unbiblical. Luke 16 describes “Hades”—in Hebrew, “Sheol” (where everyone goes before resurrection)—not Gehenna/hell. Christian conflation of “Hades/Sheol” with “hell/Gehenna” has led to the misperception that “hell” is a place of conscious torment after death, but this is not the view that Jesus expresses in the sheep/goats metaphor. See https://weekly.israelbiblecenter.com/happens-death-resurrection/ and https://weekly.israelbiblecenter.com/does-hell-exist/

  2. Thank you Jesus, You always give the truth of what will happen in the end, no one can ever say they didn’t know.

  3. Well stated and understood. A righteous, loving, intelligent, all-knowing God would never create humans where the end result is an eternity of punishment or life without Him for those not granted eternal life. He does what a humane person would do (a sick dog for example) and put it down. Who would want to worship a God who would want some people (irrespective of their conduct) to suffer for eternity. That is not wise but simply cruel and unloving. If that’s how we understand God, we need to relook at scripture to see whether that’s what it is telling us.

  4. This concept has infiltrated Christian understanding from all the many pagan beliefs that have existed. We are dust and no more (Genesis 2:7). That is why the reward or gift is something we have to acquire – eternal life. It is not something we already possess.

    • The word in Ezekiel that the LXX translates with kolasis (punishment) is מכשול, which means “stumbling [block]” or “problem.” In Jer 18:20 LXX, the Greek adds “punishment,” but the Hebrew doesn’t have it.

  5. Great article. However, may I suggest the word picture may be slightly different. If one considers (life, ζωή = union with or existence with) eternal life with Jehovah God is a blessing and reward for those righteous because of Jesus’ blood; And, if (die/death = separation) eternal separation from Jehovah God is indeed eternal torture. Those who accept Jesus now have a sealed union guaranteed by the Holy Spirit who lives in them.

    • Thanks for reading, Gene. There’s no reason to import “torture” into Matthew’s view. The Matthean term is “punishment,” which sometimes includes “torture” (a different word; e.g., 4 Macc 8:9) but has a decisive end-point (that is, it’s not eternal).

    • We are very happy that you’ve joined our discussion forum. Would you believe that these articles are only a taste of what Israel Bible Center has to offer? We also provide comprehensive teaching on a variety of biblical, historical, and cultural topics. You might begin with The Jewish Gospel of Matthew or The Hebrew Psalms: How To Worship God. You’ll be amazed at the Jewish world that awaits you. Don’t delay another minute: enroll now!

  6. Very interesting! Is there a way to share this? 1 question that I have, though, is even though, their bodies will be corpses what about their eternal soul? The understanding I have had was that the soul doesn’t die so that is why their eternal state of physical death and separation from Holy Elohim is the eternal punishment and anguish of their souls. Can you help to explain that?

  7. This article begs for a followup, comparing and contrasting Matthew’s “blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13, v42 and v50.

  8. Great exegesis, Dr. Schaser! In order for me to understand the concept of death properly, does it mean that the person that dies just cease to exist and that all there is after the second death? On the other hand, if there is no such thing as punishment, is there any possible explanation in regards to the existence of the state of purgatory as established by the Coptic and Roman Catholic doctrines? Thank you and blessings to all of you!

    • Thanks for your questions, Francis. Purgatory is based (somewhat loosely) on the biblical notion of Sheol/Hades, though there are differences between the two. On Sheol, see https://weekly.israelbiblecenter.com/happens-death-resurrection/ The “second death” suggests a cessation of consciousness thereafter, though Revelation’s view is complex. There is such a thing as “punishment,” it’s just not “infinite conscious torment” according to Matthew; rather, the post-resurrection punishment is final death.

  9. How about Revelation 14:11…torment without rest forever? Jude 1:7… punishment by eternal fire? Daniel 12:2… everlasting contempt? John 3:36…the wrath of God remains on him?

    • Daniel 12:2 draws on Isaiah 66:24 and functions in the same way; the “everlasting” contempt is the continued presence of the burning dead, but they are not conscious. See https://weekly.israelbiblecenter.com/does-hell-exist/ Jude 1:7 speaks of the “punishment of eternal fire” at Sodom and Gomorrah, which supports the Matthean idea that while the “fire” is eternal, the people in it (like in Sodom) are dead. Since John 3 juxtaposes God’s “wrath” with “eternal life,” readers should equate such wrath with eternal “death” (cf. “perish” in Jn 3:16). Rev 14:11 may refer to eternal torment, but the verse’s complexity would necessitate a separate article.

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  10. can you help me with Luke 16 where it speaks of the rich man in hell lifts up his eyes and goes on to say he is tormented in the flames. This is used a lot by Christian preachers and it can be confusing

  11. What is the purpose of “the fire burning eternally” and “the worm not dying” if it will be burning empty carcases?! When you burn trash do you keep the fire going after all has turned to ash? So what then happens to the conscious soul? You can’t have existence without consciousness, as Descartes aptly states, and consciousness in eternity will be eternally aware of its environment whether it is paradise or fire. Please, help me out here!

  12. Most Christians have been taught to fear hell fire & it’s a way of scaring them to death if they do not follow God’s commadments daily or live an immoral or evil life that would cause them to fall away from God completely.But we have God’s grace,which is not emphasized enough!The Lake of fire is the 2nd death.Whether or not it is literally fire & darkness,I have thought of it as a permenant separation from God,people you loved,all that is beautiful,peaceful & good.That in itself would be permenant punishment for all eternity,knowing you threw away all of your chances to live in heaven & in peace.I know some people that “welcome death”,continue in immoral or evil deeds,because they think they will “just cease to exist”. That is not punishmet to them! So am I understanding the 2nd death ,after judgement, where Satan,his angels & his deceived followers, will not even have an existance of mental torment or agony of regrets & guilt for all eternity? They will just cease to exist???

    • Thanks for your comments, Judy. Revelation’s immolation in a lake of fire seems to suggest non-existence (though Rev 14:11 may express an alternative view). The end-goal is the destruction of Satan, rather than his ongoing torment (cf. Rom 16:20; Heb 2:4; 1 Jn 3:8). Certainly, texts like Isaiah 66:24 suggest non-consciousness in the fire, and Matthew explicates the destruction of both “body and soul in hell” (Matt 10:28).

  13. ​In light of the parable given by Yeshua of the rich man and Lazarus. Both men died, the one went to an everlasting fire of burning torment and the other to Heaven… read Luke 16; 19. The rich man begged Abraham after a request for relief was denied, to please send a message to his other brothers to warn them of the torment and suffering he was subjec ted to. If after judgement, we are merely dead and no longer, why then would he have pleaded. We must reference all scripture and not be mislead by anyone who preaches anything to the contrary.

    • This is indeed a parable and must be read as such. Parables are stories to teach a principle or moral lesson. They aren’t meant to be taken literally. Various parts are to be understood as to what they represent and therefore teach. (eg. Sheep we know are not real sheep).

    • We make a mistake when we start picking and choosing doctrinal teachings from literal readings of parables. Suddenly Abraham’s bosom = heaven. You sit in heaven watching and chatting to people suffering in hell for eternity! At this point Abraham is dead in the ground like David (Acts 2:34).

  14. ​Yeshua taught this, why would we interpret this any differently, this is dangerous and false and misleading to the extent that we are conveying a false message of…you may continue in sin, as your only punishment will simply be death. That is why so many people are falsely following this route in continued sin, because the only punishment will be death. Yeshua would certainly not give a false rendition of Hell.

  15. I would like to suggest that Separation for HaShem, IS enternal punishment. Even the UN-Godly know the Most High.

    • Thanks, David. The biblical authors agree that the real “punishment” = not being able to live forever with God (cf. Matt 25:23-30).

    • We are very happy that you’ve joined our discussion forum. Would you believe that these articles are only a taste of what Israel Bible Center has to offer? We also provide comprehensive teaching on a variety of biblical, historical, and cultural topics. You might begin with The Jewish Gospel of Matthew or The Hebrew Psalms: How To Worship God. You’ll be amazed at the Jewish world that awaits you. Don’t delay another minute: enroll now!

  16. This is the 7th Day Adventist teaching. There is other context that supports ongoing suffering. However, I have to say, does it make any difference? If we are right about our faith, we are not going to hell, and if we are wrong about our faith, what does it matter what the precise meaning of these words are, since our books are wrong?

    • It may not make a difference to those who believe they’re the sheep, but it may influence how believers present the Bible to those outside the fold. If the above article aligns with SDA teaching that’s fine, but it’s also coincidental.

    • Truly, truly, truly do these expositions make a difference and matter. Mostly in our response to our own ignorance and, as we are lead, our ability to juxtapose our line of thinking to the possibility of being wrong in a previous understanding, Mat 7:21-23. Eternal life or death are the stakes in this passion play.

  17. Are you saying there is no hell? Then what is this eternal death you are talking about? Are you saying eternal death means your body spirit and soul just cease to exist and that is it? Sorry sir but what you are teaching is very confusing.

    • The above article doesn’t deny the existence of hell. Its thesis is that the “punishment” in Matthew 25 is a finite death rather than infinite torment. According to Matthew, this post-resurrection place that Jesus calls Gehenna (usually translated “hell”) destroys both the “body” and “soul” of the unrighteous (see Matt 10:28). For more on the “soul” question, see https://weekly.israelbiblecenter.com/whats-story-soul/

  18. So, at the end.. it doesn’t matter if you have eternal life.. because if you receive eternal death you would not even know… right?

    • In most first-century Jewish thought, inheritance of either eternal life or death occurs after resurrection; some enter the kingdom of God and others die in an “eternal fire,” to use Matthew’s term. Thus, in the NT view, everyone knows which one they receive and are conscious when it happens.

  19. This is well written and would be pointing towards annihilationism. Norman Geisler has an indepth article on why this view is unbiblical in his viewpoint.

    • Thanks for reading, Brett. Unfortunately, this site doesn’t allow outside links on comment boards, but if readers are interested in Geisler’s perspective, I’m sure they can find it online.

  20. No, I respectfully disagree with the author. His theory sounds very much like annihilationism. I am concerned that providing Jewish insight to the Scripture, which is a noble task, on the other hand, is used to challenge sound Biblical doctrine. I strongly encourage the readers to verify and prove all things against the Scripture before considering them (Acts 17:11).

    • We respect your disagreement; unfortunately this site doesn’t allow outside links on its comment boards, so yours was removed. While “annihilationism” denotes a certain systematic theological position within Christianity, our faculty does not subscribe to any particular doctrinal system. The above article does not propose an all-encompassing “theory,” but rather a “reading” of a particular text. Our goal at IBC is to explicate these texts as accurately as we can from literary-historical perspectives that are sensitive to Jewish thought and culture. If Matthew 25 happens to dovetail with annihilationism, then it is annihilationsits who agree with Matthew, not the other way around.

    • Israel Bible Center equips you with the tools you need to enter into the Jewish world of Scripture. We provide first-rate teaching, and the opportunity to learn from some of the world’s top scholars. As a student, you will be able to interact personally with our teaching faculty, and gain access to hundreds of hours of Bible courses, including The Jewish Gospel of Matthew and The Hebrew Psalms: How To Worship God. Become a part of the community of teachers and students at Israel Bible Center today!

    • As we are inclined toward systematic order in our thinking and understanding to make it easy, it seems Geisler, like most of us, are schooled and influenced by Darby and western dispensation theology. We may want to organize, but be sure of this, just when we think we have it down, our Creator has a funny way of turning the tables rightside up on us… I love that about Him!

  21. In Luke 16:19-31 it talks about the rich man being in agony in the fire in Hades (verse 23). I am confused because you say there will be no suffering.

    • “Hades” and “hell” are two different places. Hades is a temporary place where everyone goes immediately after death to await bodily resurrection; hell (Gehenna in the NT) is the post-resurrection fiery place described in Matthew 25. For more on Hades, see https://weekly.israelbiblecenter.com/happens-death-resurrection/ Regarding suffering in Gehenna (“hell”), I would imagine that immolation (death by fire) produces some suffering… the only point of the above article is that such suffering is not eternal.

  22. Hell is perhaps a primary reason why God sent Jesus Christ to pay the penalty for our sins. Being “extinguished” after death is no fate to dread, but an eternity in hell most definitely is… When we place our faith in Him [Jesus], we are saved, forgiven, cleansed, and promised an eternal home in heaven. But if we reject God’s gift of eternal life, we will face the eternal consequences of that decision.

    • Bible believer nowhere in the bible are we promised heaven. Jesus is to come again as He promised His disciples and the thief. He comes bringing His kingdom with our reward and the dead in Christ rise first then they with us who are alive are changed rise together and meet Him as Acts1:9-11 He come here and all see Him.

  23. In Rev. 20:10, Then the devil who fooled them will be thrown into the lake of fire and burning sulfur. He will be there with the beast and the false prophet, and they will be in pain day and night forever and ever. It is clear that they will be tormented forever and ever. How can they be in pain if they are unconscious?

    • The view in Revelation would need its own article to unpack; the above article only comments on Matthew’s view. In anticipation of a more detailed argument, insofar as the devil is a supernatural being his experience in the lake of fire isn’t indicative of human experience. More, the beast and false prophet are related closely to the dragon (devil/Satan; 16:13), so their consciousness seems to be contingent upon the devil’s continued consciousness. To this end, the fate of these figures should not serve as a template for humanity.

      • Funny, you appeal to Jeremiah and Ezekiel, 6 or 700 years BC, at a time when death was the ultimate punishment (resurrection wasn’t yet an established doctrine) but you dismiss Revelation which is contemporary to Matthew who trying to bring answers to the same problems. Not convincing.

        • The above article does not “dismiss” Revelation; rather, it analyzes a word in Matthew (kolasis) that does not appear in Revelation. Revelation cannot shed light on a word it doesn’t use.

    • Thanks for your comment, Jerry. Per the article, the “hell fire” still factors into the eschatological vision; it burns eternally in the post-resurrection world (cf. Matt 25:41). The article’s only adjustment to traditional thought is that this fire doesn’t allow those who enter it to go on living eternally; instead, it kills them (per Isa 66:24).

    • Israel Bible Center equips you with the tools you need to enter into the Jewish world of Scripture. We provide first-rate teaching, and the opportunity to learn from some of the world’s top scholars. As a student, you will be able to interact personally with our teaching faculty, and gain access to hundreds of hours of Bible courses, including The Jewish Gospel of Matthew and The Hebrew Psalms: How To Worship God. Become a part of the community of teachers and students at Israel Bible Center today!

  24. I have been leaning more and more to judgement as actual death as opposed to eternal torment for some time. Nobody has given a satisfactory answer as to why “fear him who can destroy both the body and soul” is referring to eternal torment. The plain understanding is doubel death of body and soul. The second death in revelation also leans towards a literal second death.

    • Thanks for your comment, James. Matthew certainly reflects finite death, rather than ongoing torment.

      • Once again I contest this “certainly”. Yes in the OT death (at a young age!) was the ultimate punishment. But that was before the necessity of life after death rose to the believers’ consciousness. Just because Mt uses the same word ‘kolasis’ doesn’t mean equivalency. In 1865 a bounty hunter would risk his life for a $2000 prize but “certainly” not in 2020. Also to read “eternal fire” (25:41) as burning only ashes forever is ridiculous.

  25. It also answers the questions of how there can be no pain or suffering or tears in the new earth. If all the unbelievers are wiped out of existence, we wouldn’t be worried or anxious about them being tormented forever and forever amen! In this life, inmates on death row woud rather live – implying life is indeed of value.

  26. I am pretty sure that at the second coming, the saints will be vindicated by Jesus and all the non-believers will be condemned, which will entail gnashing of teeth of those who have rejected the most amazing eternal life with God. When life itself condemns you, I am sure it will be indeed a terrible thing! As one biblical put it: It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

  27. It seems to me that if Jesus said, Father forgive them because they do not know what they are doing…if I imagine anyone in hell right now, then it’s because I put them there. I ought to resist that devil in my mirror.

  28. Having God do all the forgiving means that we want him to be the only creative person around. It’s a good start. But Jesus pretty much says that if I will not forgive the people around me while I am growing, then I have no progression like i imagine. Now it is i who must stsrt thinking about how to make it all come together. This thing about forgiveness must be the biggest and most creative idea ever. And who knew?

  29. Can it be that, no Genesis 50:16-17, no Exodus story to tell? An oracle comes to Joseph, rather than his brothers coming to him with a postmortem instruction, and it brings clearness to his mind. Right? Moses forgave and pled for forgiveness. Otherwise… No Israel. Again, with King David, no forgiveness, no kingdom. These ideas project straight into the new covenant, it seems to me. And that is exciting to me. But if I am missing something, please let me know.

    • This is a really helpful exposition, David. Thank you for contributing these thoughts on forgiveness; it’s a strong thread throughout Scripture that has a more prominent impact on Israel’s story that we might realize.

  30. I can’t help but think of the parable-of-the-11th-hour-laborers.Here is Dives,the-rich-man-who-didn’t-feed-Lazarus(Mt 25:42a)who has been suffering torment for 2000 years.And Jesus-comes in glory and here is Dives XXIII still alive but condemned for the same reason.How pissed off Dives the First will be when he sees his descendant(like in the parable we start from the last)turned instantaneously into ashes without suffering at all!

  31. What a comfort to people like Hitler who killed 6 million Jews and died and escaped punishment. Not so good for the families of the 6 million deprived of justice. Jesus spoke of the lake of fire 5 times, eternal fire 3 times and hell of fire 3 times where the “goats” would be weeping and gnashing their teeth – not the behaviour of those without conscious experience.

  32. Mt 25 is about the final judgment of the nations and the main criterium is basic human decency. A strict minimum. Jesus-is-not-going-to-blame-a-Gentile-for-committing-adultery,perjury,or-even-murder!(Of course-if-the-local-code-of-moral-and-penal-law-prohibit-these-crimes,then-you’re-fair-game).He-is-not-going-to-blame-one-for-not-visiting-a-prisoner-in-far-away-China-but-your-own-nephew,for-not-feeding-a-starving-child-in-far-away-Ethiopia-but-at-your-door. Jews-will-be-held-to-a-higher-standard, and-Christians-to-an-even-higher-standard. To-whom-much-has-been-given,much-will-be-required.The-rich-man-did-not-show-the-gentile-level-basic-human-decency-toward-Lazarus. That’s-why-Abraham-told-him: forget-about-the-jewish-level(Moses and the prophets), let alone the christian-level (resurrection).

  33. how l understand it. the first death we are all sleeping waiting for the first resurrection. the second death is for the wicked who have not repented and asked forgiveness.Father God is a loving God and as he says He has no desire for the wicked to die.

  34. Can it be that if anyone is on Jesus’s left hand on that day, it will be the disciple’s fault? Aren’t we supposed to teach ourselves and each other every commandment of Jesus? Most of us will struggle to remember three of them.

    • You’re right about disciples teaching Jesus’ commands, David (Matt 28:19-20). However, everyone has the choice to either uphold or dismiss this instruction and the teachers can’t force others’ decisions.

    • Israel Bible Center equips you with the tools you need to enter into the Jewish world of Scripture. We provide first-rate teaching, and the opportunity to learn from some of the world’s top scholars. As a student, you will be able to interact personally with our teaching faculty, and gain access to hundreds of hours of Bible courses, including The Jewish Gospel of Matthew and The Hebrew Psalms: How To Worship God. Become a part of the community of teachers and students at Israel Bible Center today!

  35. If I were Satan, and wanted to convince many to not accept God, His morals and His plan for salvation; then I would target those who believe that its pointless to live forever, its pointless to pursue what is good because life is never fair (it sucks). I would teach them that there is no hell of pain/suffering – that instead of “heaven” you would just cease to exist. There will be no more pain – no more existence. Just nothing. . . Maybe nothing to gain – but surly nothing to loose. How many who would believe that would choose annihilation?

    • David, from an ancient Jewish perspective, anyone who is “annihilated” after resurrection loses everything: they lose their newfound resurrection, their eternal life, and the opportunity for ongoing relationship with God. For writers like Matthew (who teaches that hell destroys every aspect of the human being [cf. Matt 10:28]), there is no greater pain or suffering than being raised from the dead and then having Jesus tell you that you don’t get to enter God’s kingdom (hence the “weeping and gnashing of teeth”; cf. 8:12; 13:42, 50; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30). More, according to the NT, the alternative to hell isn’t “heaven.” See https://weekly.israelbiblecenter.com/happens-death-resurrection/

      • Thanks. Read your article/verses. I believe everyone will be resurrected for judgement and/or rewards. I don’t see annihilating nonbelievers in scripture because: Isa 66:24 their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched; Dan 12:2 [will awake to] shame and everlasting contempt; Matt 25:46 go away to eternal punishment; 2 Thes 1:9 punished with everlasting destruction; Rev 14:11 the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night; Rev 20:10 They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

        • Thanks for reading, David. For Isaiah and Daniel (and, by extension, Matthew) everlasting “contempt” is not ongoing physical punishment, but rather the vision of corpses that never fully decay (i.e., the “worm not dying”). See https://weekly.israelbiblecenter.com/does-hell-exist/ 2 Thess supports annihilation insofar as the “destruction” (ὄλεθρος) is everlasting. Revelation 14:11 may well allude to eternal torment, but the verse is apocalyptic and exegetically complex. On the whole, there is actually very little evidence for eternal conscious torment. The main interpretive issue is that readers see “everlasting” and assume that what’s everlasting is the torment; however, it is the “fire” or “contempt” or “destruction” that lasts forever, not the torment.

        • We are very happy that you’ve joined our discussion forum. Would you believe that these articles are only a taste of what Israel Bible Center has to offer? We also provide comprehensive teaching on a variety of biblical, historical, and cultural topics. You might begin with The Jewish Gospel of Matthew or The Hebrew Psalms: How To Worship God. You’ll be amazed at the Jewish world that awaits you. Don’t delay another minute: enroll now!

          • I don’t see annihilation taught in scripture. My final points – Jesus taught extensively on hell: describing a place of “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (place of existence); punishment of varying degrees (Lk 12:47-48, Mk 12:40); the dead in Hades already suffering (an intermediate state) Lk 16:23-24. He never taught termination of punishment. Rev 20/21 judgment results in permanent transfer – “their place [they still exist] will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur”. Jude 7 Sodom and Gomorrah . . . serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.

          • David, we agree that Jesus taught extensively on hell, but that ancient Jewish teaching does not align with the traditional Christian doctrine of “eternal conscious torment.” What’s most important in this (or any) instance of biblical interpretation is to read as closely as possible, and then allow the text say what it says (and nothing more). On “weeping and gnashing of teeth,” see https://weekly.israelbiblecenter.com/where-is-the-weeping-and-gnashing/ Hades and hell are two different places that have nothing to do with one another. Rev 20 speaks of Satan (a divine being) alongside the beast and false prophet — both of whom are associated closely with the dragon (Satan) and unclean spirits (cf. Rev 16:13); thus, the fate of these demonic forces cannot serve as a model for general human experience. Jude 7 underscores annihilation: God destroys everyone in Sodom and Gomorrah, leaving no survivors therein (e.g., Gen 19:24-29; Isa 1:9; Jer 49:18; Lam 4:6); if that is an “example” of the punishment in eternal fire, then everyone in this fire is dead.

  36. As an unlearned Bible student, with absolutely no Theological wisdom and education, I am honoured by the fact that Yeshua, actually came for us lost and sinners, not for the righteous. God has warned us of the shepherds and prophets that will lead us astray. ‘cursed is the man that follows another man’. Remember the prophet that misled another prophet in Bethel. 1 Kings 13:18. It does not take much to lose everlasting Life.

  37. Sir, Death in the Bible is not cessation from life apart from God. I am not sure if you are teaching the doctrine of Jehovah Witness which is annihilation. In fact, the unsaved dead, the goats, will be resurrected. They will not cease for eternity. It appears this is no longer an evangelical doctrine.

    • Jerry, any alignment between the above article and JW teaching is coincidental. According to ancient Jewish thought, everyone is raised from the dead: after resurrection, the righteous enter God’s kingdom and the unrighteous enter Gehenna. The “goats” of Matt 25 are, indeed, raised from the dead, and then they are destroyed in an “eternal fire” (Matt 25:41) — what Revelation calls the “second death” (cf. 2:11; 20:14; 21:18).

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