Do sinners burn forever in Hell? What happens in Hell? Do people burn for eternity in Hell fire?

The Bible Says

Do wicked sinners live forever in Hell fire, or are the wages of sin death for all eternity? Does the Bible teach everlasting punishing or eternal punishment? Does God torture people in Hell who never had a chance to know Him in this life?


bible says

"Behold the days come saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord." (Amos 8:11)

Lesson 3

Does anyone burn in Hell for all eternity? What happens to unsaved sinners? Many Christians believe sinners who don't accept Jesus as their savior will be tortured forever in Hell fire. They claim this teaching is in the Bible. Is that true? Does the Bible teach that the wages of sin is eternal life in Hell? What does the Bible plainly say?

Romans 6:23, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Those who have accepted Christ as their Savior will be given the gift of eternal life. What does the Bible say about people suffering in Hell fire for all eternity? This verse clearly tells us the punishment for sinners is death, the cessation of all life, not eternal life suffering in another place.

The Bible says, concerning God's enemies, that their end is destruction. It is not suffering for all eternity in another life after physical death. If a life is destroyed, it no longer exists.

Philippians 3:18-19,.... "they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction..."

The Bible positively states that sinners lives will end in total everlasting destruction. They will simply burn up and vanish forever from Gods sight.

2 Thessalonians 1:9, "These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord...." (NKJV)

What does the Bible really say about Hell? First of all we need to know which Hell? In the original Hebrew and Greek languages, in which the Bible was written, four words are translated into English as Hell. Each of these words have different meanings. The two most common words translated Hell have nothing to do with the eternal destruction of sinners. Their common meanings preclude their translation as Hell. The translators created confusion with their choice of words. They should have been translated differently into English.

The Hebrew word "sheol" and the Greek word "hades" have the same meaning. Both are frequently translated as Hell in the Bible. The problem is these words have nothing to do with the punishment for the wicked in a burning Hell fire!

Sheol and hades never should have been translated Hell. Sheol is primarily defined as, "the world of the dead, grave, pit". Hades is defined as, "the place of departed souls (lives): the grave".

These were the common meanings of these words in ancient times. By translating these words Hell, it gives the wrong understanding. This translation makes it appear a verse is referring to the Lake of Fire Hell when it could really just mean the grave. Even in the 20th century farmers used to refer to putting their potatoes into hell for the winter. It simply meant a pit in the ground where potatoes are stored.

The Anchor Bible Dictionary says this:

"The Greek word Hades ... is sometimes, but misleadingly, translated 'hell' in English versions of the New Testament. It refers to the place of the dead ... The old Hebrew concept of the place of the dead, most often called Sheol ... is usually translated as Hades, and the Greek term was naturally and commonly used by Jews writing in Greek" .

Sheol and hades refer to the grave where souls (living beings) go when they die. Lesson 3 will explain in more details the meanings of the word "soul". Many of the Bible verses that are translated Hell are simply referring to the grave, the place of the dead. Both believers and wicked sinners go to this hell when they die. This place of departed souls (lives) is simply the ground in which they are buried. Compare the King James Version where the words are translated hell, and the more accurate New King James Version which simply used the original words for "grave".

Psalm 16:10, "For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption." (KJV)

Psalm 16:10, "For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption." (NKJV)

Acts 2:27, "Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption." (KJV)

Acts 2:27, "For You will not leave my soul in Hades, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption." (NKJV)

Where did Jesus go when He died? He went to hell, to the grave, not to the lake of fire. These scripture passages show that Jesus' physical body did not rot in hell, the grave, because He was resurrected before that could happen.

The Hebrew word sheol is used in the Old Testament 65 times. It is translated "pit" 3 times, "grave" 31 times, and "hell" 31 times. About half the time the translators got it right. The Greek word hades is used 11 times. Ten times hades is translated "hell." It is translated "grave" 1 time.

Another Greek word for hell is tartaroo,used once in 2 Peter 2:4. In this verse it refers to a place of restraint for demons waiting for judgment. Tartaroo does not apply to people. It only applies to demons.

The last Greek word for Hell is gehenna. When Gehenna is translated Hell it usually refers to the lake of fire, the place of destruction and punishment for unrepentant sinners. Gehenna is the ONLY word translated Hell in the Bible that refers to the place where sinners are cast on judgment day. The actual gehenna, that Jesus referenced, as an example of what happens to these sinners, was a city dump outside of Jerusalem in the valley of Hinnom.

Joshua 18:16," ...and descended to the valley of Hinnom, , to the side of Jebusi (Jerusalem) on the south..."

This was the place where trash, animal carcasses, and the dead bodies of criminals were thrown. These bodies were eaten by maggots and consumed in fires that continually burned in this dump. Jesus used the gehenna fires to illustrate God's judgment of the wicked in the Lake of Fire.

Who does the Bible say will be tormented for eternity in Hell fire? Who was Hell prepared for? The Bible says it was prepared for Satan and his demons!

Matthew 25:41, "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels." , (NIV)

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."

The word "are" in this verse was not in the original inspired Greek text. Notice it is not between "ψευδοπροφητης (false prophet), (1) and και" (and). Notice also that the word "they" , which appears in many translations between "και (and) , (2) and βασανισθησονται" (tortured) , is not in the original text either.

Revelation 20:10, (Greek)" και ο διαβολος ο πλανων αυτους εβληθη εις την λιμνην του πυρος και θειου οπου και το θηριον (beast), και (and) , ο (the), ψευδοπροφητης (false prophet), (1) και (and), (2) βασανισθησονται (tortured), ημερας και νυκτος εις τους αιωνας των αιωνων"

"Are" was added later to improve readability. The word "are" was used by the translators instead of "were", because of their preconceived ideas about what occurs in Hell. It actually should be written "were cast" the plural expression of "was cast" in the same sentence to reflect that they were cast there, not that they still are there.

Does this verse say the beast and the false prophet will be tormented for eternity? No! They both were cast into the lake of fire while very much alive and were burned up and destroyed.

Revelation 19:20, "And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet.... These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire , that burns with sulphur."(RSV)

Revelation 20:10 above correctly shows the lake of fire had already destroyed the flesh and blood false prophet and the beast who were cast there previously. In some translations of Revelation 20:10 the word "they", correctly does not appear. It's not in the original inspired Greek text above. Below is an incorrect , example of translation from the NIV where the word "they", was erroneously added by an uninspired translator, thereby changing the meaning of God's Word.

Revelation 20:10, "And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever". (NIV)

The KJV below properly indicates that eternal hell fire is reserved for the devil who is tormented forever. It does not refer to the beast and false prophet who were cast into Hell fire and had burned up previously. Follow the thought in the bold text below for the correct understanding.

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."

The Bible says the devil's angels shall be tormented forever with him. Satan and his demons, immortal spirit beings, will be tormented in Hell long after the beast, the false prophet, and unrepentant sinners are burned up in the same lake of fire.

Matthew 25:41, ..."everlasting fire,prepared for the devil and his angels".

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In order for the devil and his demons to be tormented in eternal hell fire, there must be an ever burning lake of fire in Hell. If there is an eternal fire then there will be eternal smoke from that fire.

Immortal spirits like the devil and his demons cannot die, cannot burn up, cannot be destroyed in a lake of fire. They can be restrained, they can be tormented, they can be punished, but total destruction and annihilation cannot occur for an immortal being. Only human beings can burn up, be destroyed, and completely annihilated for eternity in Hell fire. Humans can die, immortal beings cannot!

Before going further, two rules need to be established. Rather than constantly repeating the same thing over and over to explain a verse, "Rule 1" or "Rule 2" will be inserted each time it applies to a verse.

Rule 1 is: Hell fire was prepared for the devil and his angels and will exist and burn forever. This eternal fire will never go out, never be quenched. It needs to exist eternally for the devil and his demons. The smoke from this lake of unquenchable fire will eternally rise.

Rule 2 is: Human bodies cannot live forever in a lake of fire. They will burn up and be completely destroyed. Any human being cast into eternal Hell fire will be annihilated and cease to exist. They will be eternally dead.

The Bible has much to say about the eternal fire of Hell never being quenched. This is part of the problem with people's understanding regarding the fate of sinners. Many people assume that because the fire burns forever for the devil and his angels sinners will also burn forever in them. The Bible does not say this. The Bible has a lot to say about the fate of wicked sinners, but much of it is not what is commonly believed by Christians.

Here is what the Bible says. Notice the consistency of the true fate of sinners in these scriptures.

Matthew 3:12, "His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff (Rule 2) with unquenchable fire." (Rule 1) (NIV)

Matthew 18:8, "If your hand or your foot causes you to sin cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire." (Rule 1 and Rule 2) (NIV)

Isaiah 1:31, "The mighty man will become tinder (Rule 2) and his work a spark; both will burn together, (Rule 2) with no one to quench the fire." (Rule 1) (NIV)

Isaiah 33:14, "The sinners in Zion are terrified; trembling grips the godless: Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire?" (Rule 2, no one). "Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?" (Rule 2, no one, and Rule 1) (NIV)

Luke 3:17, "His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff (Rule 2) with unquenchable fire."(Rule 1) (NIV)

Jude 1:7, "In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment (Rule 2) of eternal fire." (Rule 1) (NIV)

The Bible says wicked sinners will suffer eternal punishment, not eternal punishing. They will experience everlasting destruction, not continual torment. They will die forever, not live forever anywhere.

Matthew 25:46, "Then they will go away to eternal punishment, (Rule 2) but the righteous to eternal life." (NIV)

Notice the Romans 6:23 contrast above. Eternal punishment, DEATH, versus eternal LIFE.

2 Thessalonians 1:9, "They will be punished with everlasting destruction...."(Rule 2) (NIV)

Matthew 25:46 shows sinners are cast into a fire that destroys them forever. They cease to exist. The punishment of being cast into the eternal fire is permanent. It is eternal death. It doesn't continue forever. Sinners will be completely annihilated. The fire brings eternal punishment, not punishing forever.

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In Mark 9:47-48 Jesus said, "It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into Hell [gehenna] fire-where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.'" (Rule 1) (NIV)

Are there immortal worms in hell? Does the Bible teach that worms have eternal life? Is Jesus actually talking about physical worms living in the Lake of Fire where the devil and his angels will be?

"Their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched" is in quotation marks. Jesus was quoting Isaiah.

Isaiah 66:24, "I will go out and look upon the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched..." (NIV).

A few points are important to note. These physical bodies are dead. These are not people living in unquenched fire. These worms are physical maggots that consume dead flesh. The original Hebrew word translated "worm" in Isaiah 66:24 and Mark 9:47-48 means "maggot".

The Bible is not talking about immortal worms. The maggots do not die because they have plenty of dead flesh to eat. The worms never die, they just grow and turn into flies. Sometimes the simplest explanation is the right one. When dead bodies were cast into the burning city dump of Gehenna fire, they would be eaten by maggots, and eventually destroyed by the fires that were always burning there.

Jesus was providing a vivid picture to which the people could relate. He was saying that it would be better to enter the Kingdom blind than to be thrown into Hell, which is like the burning dump in gehenna where wicked people are eaten by worms and burned by fire.

Here is what Jesus actually said if we leave gehenna as originally written and understood as the burning town dump by the people standing before Him.

Mark 9:47-48,"It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into gehenna fire-where 'their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.'" (NIV)

The confusion with this verse results from the fact that Jesus used this burning garbage dump to illustrate the ultimate fate of sinners in the lake of fire.

Revelation 20:12-15, "And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God;... and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell (hades-grave) delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell (hades-grave) were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire." (Rule 2).

Just like the trash was consumed by this dump fire, so will the wicked sinners be consumed in a similar fire on judgment day. The Jews standing there knew exactly what Jesus was saying about gehenna fire. They could personally see what happened when someone's body was cast into it.

Matthew 10:28 is another place in the Bible where Jesus spoke of gehenna fire. In this verse the context shows He's talking about the Lake of Fire.

"And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul (psuche) and body in hell [gehenna]" (Rule 2) (NIV)

Jesus did not say humans would be suffering everlasting torment. Jesus said God can destroy your entire life in gehenna. You know this verse is about the actual lake of fire because it can destroy not just a physical body (like the gehenna dump could) but also your soul, your very life. Souls don't live in Hell. Souls die in Hell!

When God destroys a person in Hell fire his death is eternal. There is no resurrection from "the second death". (Revelation 20:14) The Bible says the wicked are thrown into the lake of fire, or gehenna. (Rule 2) They will experience utter destruction and burn up. They will be ashes under our feet.

Malachi 4:1, "For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, and all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble. And the day which is coming shall burn them up". (Rule 2) (NIV)

Malachi 4:3, "You shall trample the wicked, for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet (Rule 2) on the day that I do this, says the LORD of hosts" (NIV)

Yes, the Bible says that wicked sinners will be punished by Hell fire, completely burned up, leaving only ashes. The wicked will be consumed and forgotten. They won't be tortured and tormented for all eternity. God never promised eternal life to sinners, even in Hell. He promised them DEATH! (Romans 6:23)

Death is the end of life. We remain dead until God resurrects us and gives us life again. The phrase "the second death" refers to the complete end of life for those who were resurrected and condemned to Hell The Bible says we will die a second death if we are not given the gift of eternal life.

"The second death" is used four times in the Bible and refers to the Lake of Fire, the gehenna Hell.

" He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death". (Revelation 2:11) (NIV)

"Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years". (Revelation 20:6) (NIV)

"Then death and Hades (the grave) were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death". (Revelation 20:14) (Rule 2) (NIV)

"But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars-- their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death". (Revelation 21:8) (Rule 2) (NIV)

We see from Revelation 14:10-11 and Mark 9:47-48 that any human being thrown into the lake of fire will be destroyed. He will perish. His punishment will be eternal, but he will not be tormented for eternity. Death is not the continuation of life in another form. The second death kills forever!

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Revelation 14:10-11, "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" . (NKJV)

At first glance this may seem to confirm the traditional idea of Hell, but there are several problems with this understanding. Notice the time setting. It concerns the fall of a modern "Babylon". This event occurs during the great tribulation on earth.

Revelation 14:8, "And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication".

From the context we can easily see the events it describes are not in Hell or the afterlife. These events occur on earth during the catastrophic disasters of the great tribulation. God will destroy the idolatrous Babylon. This passage describes the life of all people "who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name." This is long before judgment day.

The smoke from this tribulation is so high it seems to ascend forever into the sky. "Forever" is referring to distance, not time, as in the expression "I can see forever" when looking from a mountain top. The smoke is from God's wrath on the earth.

Revelation 16:8-10, "And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat....And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness;"

These incredible events will create huge fires with smoke that will seemingly ascend forever into the heavens and fill the land with darkness. When the tribulation ends these fires will simply burn out. You will find similar situations in the Old Testament.

Isaiah 34:8-10, ..."Edom's streams will be turned into pitch, her dust into burning sulfur; her land will become blazing pitch! It will not be quenched night and day; its smoke will rise forever." (NIV)

If you visited the land where Edom was located you would not still see this smoke rising up forever into the heavens. Edom's destruction was forever, not the fires. Edom's completely gone. The fire was not quenched. It simply burned out. No fire, no smoke.

Sodom and Gomorrah were also totally destroyed by fire.

Genesis 19:24, "Then the Lord rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah" (NIV)

Jude 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."

The Bible describes Sodom and Gomorrah as "suffering the vengeance of eternal fire". Are the fires that destroyed them still burning? No. These cities suffered the same eternal results as will wicked sinners; total destruction by fire. The fire burns up and completely destroys forever! The eternal aspect of the fire is its effect forever. It's not about how long the fires actually burn.

The reference to the wicked having "no rest day or night" in Revelation 14:11 speaks of those who continue to worship the beast and his image at that time. They will live in constant fear for their lives, and thus cannot find a moment's rest during the great tribulation. Revelation 14:10-11 says nothing about punishing people eternally in Hell. It doesn't say people's actual torment continues forever. It is important to read what the Bible plainly says, and not read into it our preconceived notions about the afterlife.

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The Bible says Hell is a place of destruction where wicked sinners will be destroyed in a lake of fire! The wages of their sin is total death, annihilation, and destruction rather than an eternal life of conscious torment.

"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, (Rule 2) and many enter through it." (Matthew 7:13) (NIV)

"Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell." (Rule 2) (Matthew 10:28) (NIV)

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish (Rule 2) but have eternal life." (John 3:16) (NIV)

"They will be punished with everlasting destruction..." (Rule 2) (2 Thessalonians 1:9) (NIV)

Eternal punishment does not mean eternal punishing. Eternal judgment does not mean eternal judging. It means a judgment with eternal consequences.

Matthew 25:46, "And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: (Rule 2) but the righteous into life eternal."

Hebrews 6:2, "Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment."

The wicked will go away to eternal punishment, death in the lake of fire, but the righteous will receive the gift of eternal life in the Kingdom of God, just as He promised.

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Jesus sometimes described hell as a fiery furnace where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Matthew 13:42, "They will throw them into the fiery furnace,(Rule 2)where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (NIV)

Matthew 13:49-50 "This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, (Rule 2) where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (NIV)

Remember what the Bible said about Lazarus and the rich man? Was the rich man really in the lake of fire? He asked Lazarus to dip his finger into a little water for his tongue. If this parable were literal and the rich man was really in the scorching fires of Hell, his body burned by the immense heat of the burning lake of fire, he would not be asking for just a little water for his tongue. We already know that when he is cast INTO the lake of fire he will burn up and die. What is this weeping and gnashing of teeth all about?

The answer is FEAR and PAIN! On judgment day when a person is condemned by God to Hell fire for his sins there will be a period of time, we don't know how long, when this death sentence registers in his brain. He will see and feel the Lake of Fire. His physical (not immortal) resurrected body will be tormented by immense heat from the burning fires of Hell. If he tries to ask God for mercy, he will find his mouth dry from the fear. He may ask for "a little cool water for his tongue" just so he can speak.

The Greek word for "into" can also be translated "towards" in Matthew 13:42. The sinner will moan and cry as never before as he is cast towards the fire and is tormented by the heat of gehenna Hell. He will gnash his teeth, wail and lament in anguish as his sinful life passes before him showing all he did to earn this eternal destruction. Yes, there will be wailing, crying and gnashing when the wicked sinner feels the scorching heat of the burning Lake of Fire.

Romans 6:23 plainly says "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (NIV)

If you just believe these simple words of Scripture, you have all the answers you need regarding the fate of sinners. The wages of sin is not eternal life in Hell. It's DEATH! Wicked sinners die for eternity. The second death is forever. Some people don't think it's important to know this, but God obviously does. Satan does not want Christians to know the truth but it's plainly written in the Scriptures for your understanding. God gives the gift of eternal life to those who are saved in Jesus. God's gift is eternal life. The wages of sin is eternal death!

This is what the Bible says!

Do sinners burn forever in Hell? What happens in Hell? Do people burn for eternity in Hell fire?