Does Everlasting (Hell) Mean Forever?
Some scholars state that the word everlasting, in reference to hell, does not mean forever but instead a limited duration. However, the word everlasting (or eternal) is used 66 times in the bible and it is clear that it means forever. In these instances it is used to describe God, His throne, and our salvation. It’s used only three times to mean a limited duration, and it is obvious in those verses that it’s not referencing God, heaven or hell.
Scholar A. W. Pink said this about the word eternal, or everlasting, “The Greek word is Aionios. Its meaning and scope has been definitely defined for us by the Holy Spirit in at least two passages. In 2 Corinthians 4:18 it states, ‘While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.’ Here, a contrast is drawn between things seen, and things not seen, between things temporal, and things eternal. If the things temporal should last forever, there would be no antithesis to the things eternal. It is equally obvious that if the things eternal are merely age long, than they cannot be properly contrasted with things that are temporal. The difference between the things temporal, and things eternal in this verse is as great as the difference between the things seen and the things not seen.”
In Matthew 25:41 Jesus said, “Depart from me ye cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil, and his angels.” Most of us have no trouble with believing that the devil will be in eternal fire or in hell forever. Jesus just pointed out in that verse that people are cast into the same place as the devil, “Depart from me ye cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” So, people are going to the same place (Matthew 25:41 uses the same word in Romans 16:26).
To further define the word everlasting, Revelation 20:10 says, “And, the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire, and brimstone, where the beast, and the false prophet are, and they shall be tormented day and night forever, and ever. In Matthew 25:41, he just switched it out, and used the word tormented forever and ever, day and night, forever and ever. It’s defining everlasting as day and night, forever and ever. To go even further, look at the word everlasting in these verses:
2 Peter 2:11, “Everlasting kingdom of our Lord.”
Revelation 14:6, “Everlasting gospel.”
Hebrews 13:20, “Everlasting covenant.”
John 6:40, “Everlasting life.” You can see it’s the same word defining eternal.
Hebrews 1:8, “Thy throne, oh God is forever.”
Revelation 11:15, “Christ, he shall reign forever and ever.”
Romans 1:25. “The creator who is blessed forever and ever.”
John 12:34, “Christ abides forever.”
John 6:51, “If a man eat this bread, he shall live forever.” See again it clearly means forever and ever.
Revelation 14:10 -11,”And, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation, and he shall be tormented with fire, and brimstone in the presence of the lamb, and in the presence of the Holy Angels.” One must exist to be in his presence. “And, the smoke of their torment ascends up forever, and ever, and they have no rest day nor night.” Again, it refers to forever and ever.
Matthew 25:46, “And, these shall go into everlasting life, and these shall go into everlasting punishment.”
He used the same word for everlasting. It is the word Aionios. In describing heaven as everlasting, so is hell everlasting. Eternal punishment is because we need to recognize who we have sinned against: A holy, omnipotent, perfect, and eternal God. In addition, we need to realize what God sent His only Son to die a horrific death on the cross for our sins. God sacrificed His all for us. To reject Jesus is saying we don’t value what God values therefore, our rejection of Jesus is deserving of eternal punishment in hell. It will be your own fault if you go to hell because you have been warned over and over throughout your life to consider the afterlife. It’s not God’s decision. It’s yours.
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By Bill Wiese, author of 23 Minutes in Hell