If it is true that all human beings who fail to meet
God's requirements for salvation are to suffer endless punishment, then
it is terribly true to all who in danger and, in fact, is one of the most
important truths that could possibly be known. If it is true as most Judeo-Christian
churches claim, then it should have been made known in the clearest manner
possible from the very beginning. It should have been announced in language
which no one could misunderstand, to every generation, and one would expect
to read it in no indefinite terms in Scriptures from genesis to Revelation.
When God placed Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, He pronounced
a law for their observance, and clearly stated the penalty attached to
it. This penalty was to serve as a warning to all humanity that was to
follow. Surely, if endless punishment were to be part of that penalty,
justice would demand that it be stated in specific terms. Did He do this?
Here is the clear statement: "Of every tree of the garden thou
mayest freely eat, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou
shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt
surely die." (Genesis 2:17) This is far from saying, "Thou shalt die, and
after that be subjected tot he torment of an endless hell."
After Adam had sinned God spoke, and said that the serpent was
cursed, the ground was cursed, and that Adam would return to the dust from
whence he came. (Genesis 3:17-19) Nowhere an we find even the slightest
hint that Adam was to be sentenced to endless punishment.
The killing of Abel was not only the first murder, but also the
most famous murder in all of history. (Genesis 4:1-16) God pronounced the
punishment in simple terms, but it did not include endless punishment.
Cain then said, "My punishment is greater than I can bear...and it shall
come to pass that every one who finds me shall slay me." God's answer was,
"Therefore, whosoever slays Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him seven-fold."
If infinite, endless torment is Cain's punishment, how can seven-fold more
than this be inflicted on anyone else?
The flood is an example of the worst wickedness found in the Bible.
(Genesis 6-8) If endless punishment awaits the sinner, surely it would
be mentioned here. Details are given: the height of the water above the
mountains, the number of days it prevailed, etc. If these people were all
to be subjected to endless punishing, what is to be made of the fact that
it is not even mentioned?
In the case of Sodom and Gomorrah, God said, "Shall I hide from
Abraham that which I do...?" (Genesis 18:17) The destruction of the wicked
people is expressed in terms such as "consume," "slay," and "destroy."
(Verses 22-23) they were destroyed by fire, but nothing is said of their
being subjected to an endless fire after death. Jude 7 tells us that they
are "set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire."
Eternal fire and endless fire are two different things. Eternal fire means
that the effect of the fire is eternal, just as scripture speaks of eternal
salvation and eternal judgment. The fire destroyed them forever, not that
fire did not continue to burn. It could not be an example if there was
some part of man to suffer endlessly after death, as is taught in most
Judeo-Christian churches today.
Eternal: Strong's Concordance: #166 aionios (ahee-o'-nee-os);
from 165; perpetual (also used of past time, or past and future as well):
KJV-- eternal, for ever, everlasting, world (began).
Eternal: Thayer's Definition: #166 aionios-
1) without beginning and end, what has always been and
always will be
What do we find in the Law given through Moses? In Exodus, Leviticus,
and Deuteronomy the commandments are set forth, along with penalties for
refusing to obey them, but there is not one syllable to warn them of endless
woe to come. In Deuteronomy chapter 28 God detailed the curses to fall
upon the people for not observing His commandments. Please read them for
yourself. These curses were carried out on Israel in 1400 years of history
culminating in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Now, if after these
judgments of which God had warned were all carried out, can it possibly
be supposed that god then casts them into some kind of endless fire, without
a note of warning, and without leaving even a word on record of their terrible
2) without beginning
3) without end, never to cease, everlasting
Moses had to be well aware of the doctrine of future endless punishment,
as it was the common doctrine of Egypt, and "Moses was learned in all the
wisdom of the Egyptian." (Acts 7:22) Yet he rejected it, along with all
the other superstitions of the Egyptians. This is strong evidence of the
fact that this doctrine is not of God, but of pagan origin. But, if the
doctrine were true, and for thousands of years God saw the guilty creatures
plunging into unutterable endless torture, after he had clearly stated
that their punishment would be death, just how are we to understand the
character of Him who claims to be just, righteous, and true?
The New Testament record also fails to give support for the doctrine.
John the Baptist, in denouncing the Pharisees, said that Jesus would "thoroughly
cleanse his threshing-floor; and he will gather his wheat into the garner,
but the chaff he will burn up with unquenchable fire." (Matthew 3:12) Unquenchable
does not mean unending. The fire goes out when the chaff is burned up.
No unending punishment here.
Jesus warned of being cast into Gehenna. (The KJV uses "hell,"
but the word Jesus used is Gehenna). This was the city dump outside Jerusalem,
where fire was never put out, and where the maggots fed on dead carcasses.
What the worms didn't eat, the fire consumed. No unending punishing here.
In his parables Jesus portrayed the sinner as burned up like weeds,
as "cut asunder," as destroyed, slain, losing life, scattered as dust,
all in keeping with God's warning to Adam, "Thou shalt surely die," and
Ezekiel's statement, "The soul that sins it shall die." (Ezekiel 18:20)
The attempt to use Matthew 25:41, 46 to prove perpetual punishment
also fails totally. At judgment both the saved and the lost have their
fates sealed eternally. The righteous will receive unending life, and the
unrighteous will suffer the punishment of death, which will be eternal.
It will be the everlasting punishment of death, not everlasting punishing.
After thousands of years of God revealing His message through
prophets and through Jesus His Son, with never any warning about unending
punishment, suppose that after death people learn that such is the case
after all; not death, but unending torture. What would that say of God?
It would make of Him a liar, for He said that the sinner would die, but
instead, He keeps him alive to make him suffer. Such a doctrine makes a
mockery of God's justice and portrays Him as a sadistic monster.
Some say, "But God never sends anyone to hell; they send themselves
there by refusing to accept Jesus." Indeed, anyone can avoid the sentence
of death by repentance toward God, faith in and ful trust in Christ, God's
Son. But, life depends on the life-giver. No one could spend a day in the
alleged hell unless God gave him life. Also, the final word of execution
falls from the mouth of Jesus, as portrayed in the parables and in Revelation.
No man on earth, no matter how blinded by some religious creed,
would say that it would be just and right to keep a person alive in order
that he might suffer endlessly. Certainly man has no right to ascribe to
his Father in heaven actions which any human being would shrink from in
No trace of endless punishment is found in the Old Testament.
Moses, who did know of it existing among the Egyptians, repudiated it by
his silence. The law did not mention it among all its warnings. Job, the
Psalms of David, the Proverbs of Solomon, the Prophets made no mention
of such a horrible thing.
How, then, did the doctrine ever become so widely accepted by
Christians, since it is not taught in Scripture? Tertullian is said to
be the first Christian leader to teach eternal torture, around 200-220
A.D. Augustine was the next writer to champion the doctrine. The Catholic
dictionary says: "So great a punishment, says St. Augustine, that no torment
known to us can be compared to it." Augustine was an avid fan of Plato,
who is known for his pagan doctrine of an "immortal soul."
When we first began to declare that the wages of sin is death
and not unending torture, an evangelist friend wrote to tell us that if
we didn't preach the horrors of unless torment in hell, sinners would never
turn to God and be saved. On the contrary, this doctrine hardens the hearts
of men and is a barrier to their receiving God's truth and seeking fellowship
The most clear evidence against unending punishment, other than
the fact that it isn't taught in Scripture, is that Jesus offered the penalty
for our sin, and the penalty He paid was death, not unending punishment.
Furthermore the Scriptures clearly show that there will be people
living outside the Kingdom of God on earth: "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. For without are dogs, and sorcerers,
and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and
maketh a lie." Revelation 22:14-15)
"The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal
life through our Lord Jesus Christ." (Romans 6:23)
"Political freedom is an idea but not a fact..." (Protocol 1:6)