Is Hell an Eternal Punishment?

Some claim that Hell is not an eternal punishment, but just temporary until a soul is destroyed or consumed in the lake of fire. This sounds bad enough, but there’s a danger with this teaching.

By teaching people that annihilation is the result of rejecting Jesus, many may view that as a viable option. If the punishment is just temporary until one is consumed, then it may be worth it to those who love sin or hate God.

However, if Hell is an eternal punishment where your soul does not cease, then teaching otherwise may assist people in rejecting Christ. We don’t want to stand before God with the works of helping people reject Him.

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For ever

(Greek Aion 165) is mostly used to describe eternity or this age (this world).

The Greek word is used 128 times and is translated into English as… ever 71, world 38, never 6, evermore 4, age 2, eternal 2, and miscellaneous 5


  1. for ever, an unbroken age, perpetuity of time, eternity
  2. the worlds, universe
  3. period of time, age

The 128 times used is for all the books of the New Testament. When you look at just Revelation, the author’s use becomes more instructive. The Apostle John uses Aion 14 times.

Of those 14 times, 11 were in reference to God himself. For instance this verse, “Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.” (Rev. 7:12 KJV)

The other three had to do with judgment:

And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. (Rev. 14:11 KJV)

And again they said, Alleluia. And her (the great whore) smoke rose up for ever and ever. (Rev. 19:3 KJV)

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. (Rev. 20:10 KJV)

Rev. 20:10  has the devil joining the beast and the false prophet in the lake of fire, who were thrown in 1000 years earlier. If for ever meant until consumed, then the devil wouldn’t be going to where “the beast and false prophet are” because they’d have already been consumed in the lake of fire.

Everlasting, Eternal

(Greek Aionios 166) The definition is pretty straightforward. The word is used in three different ways in the New Testament (KJV):

  1. without beginning and end, that which always has been and always will be
  2. without beginning
  3. without end, never to cease, everlasting

The Greek word is used 71 times and is translated into English as… eternal 42, everlasting 25, the world began 2, since the world began 1, and for ever 1.

Of the 71 uses, 69 are used to describe eternal life for the believer or the eternal nature of God. There are no instances where Aionios is used to describe a period that will end.

The following two verses use this word (Aionios 166) to describe eternal punishment. Also note that Matthew uses the same word to describe both everlasting punishment and life eternal.

And these shall go away into everlasting (166) punishment: but the righteous into life eternal (166). (Matthew 25:46 KJV)

Who shall be punished with everlasting (166) destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; (2 Thessalonians 1:9 KJV)

One may argue that the above verse from 2 Thessalonians may describe a period that ends, but then it would be its own unique definition from all the other 70 times it was used in the New Testament. The word destruction (Olethros 3639) is used 4 times and it means ruin not annihilation.

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