Throughout history various individuals have denied the doctrine of eternal punishment. Some say the place known as “hell” is not real. And for others who do believe hell is real, they refute that the wicked will be punished forever. But what did Jesus and the apostles teach on this critically important Bible subject?
Jesus Himself declared that in the day of judgment, “He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels’” (Matt. 25:41). The fire of punishment on the wicked is not described as temporary or annihilation, but everlasting!
Jesus also taught: “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched–where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having two feet, to be cast into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched–where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire–where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:43-48).
Jesus said hell is a place where the fire shall never be quenched and their worm does not die. The Lord is clearly describing a place of eternal punishment. Thus, Christ warned men to make whatever painful sacrifice in order to avoid the place of eternal punishment.
The apostle John penned: “The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Rev. 20:10). The torment is not described as brief or simply once and then it ceases, but forever and ever.
The apostle Paul wrote that Jesus will return “in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (2 Thess. 1:7-9). If we want to escape eternal punishment, then we must obey the gospel of Christ (Mark 16:15-16; Romans 1:16; Heb. 5:9).
“And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matt. 25:46). Jesus tells us that the punishment of the unrighteous will be the same duration as that of the righteous – everlasting and eternal!