Rev 14:9 “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and takes the mark on his forehead or his hand, 14:10 that person will also drink of the wine of God’s anger that has been mixed undiluted in the cup of his wrath, and he will be tortured with fire and sulfur in front of the holy angels and in front of the Lamb. 14:11 And the smoke from their torture will go up forever and ever, and those who worship the beast and his image will have no rest day or night, along with anyone who receives the mark of his name.”…
Does the Greek root ‘aion*’ always entail infinite duration?
One relevant set of evidence is provided by Douglas Jacoby, who notes that in not a few instances, the Greek aion* is used in the Septuagint in ways in which ‘everlasting’ (i.e. infinite duration) cannot be the meaning:-
- Genesis 6:4—“Men of old” (giants/ungodly persons/fallen ones/sons of Cain) did not live infinitely
- Jeremiah 25:12—Destruction of Babylon (though not literally destroyed)
- Genesis 9:12—Perpetual generations
- Exodus 21:6—The man or woman would become one’s servant “forever” (!)
How can heaven and hell possibly co-exist everlastingly (asks Philip Edgecumbe Hughes)? Would this not be incompatible with the redemption achieved by Christ? For,
- Christ “has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Heb 9:26; 1 John 3:5);
- through his appearing death has been abolished (2 Tim 1:10);
- in the new heaven and the new earth, that is, in the whole realm of the renewed order of creation, there will be no more weeping or suffering, “and death shall be no more” (Rev 21:4).
Douglas Moo observes that in most English versions, the word ‘hell’ is not found in Paul’s writings. That is because he never used either of the two words usually translated ‘hell’ – gehenna and hades.
So what language does the apostle use concerning the fate of the wicked? They are, in order of frequency:-
- “Death,” “die” (usually apothn’skō, thanatos; Rom. 1:32; 5:12, 14, 15, 17, 21; 6:16, 21, 23; 7:5, 9, 10, 11, 13, 24; 8:2, 6, 13; 1 Cor.
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6, NIV).
These words constitute the go-to text for Christians who wish to assert that Jesus Christ is the only way to God. It is also the go-to text for those who feel that Christianity condemns itself as abhorrent and intolerant by reason of the very exclusiveness of this saying.
But does does the text actually mean what most of its friends (and, indeed, most of its enemies) think it means?…
In 1990, aware that respected evangelicals such as John Stott, Philip Edgcumbe Hughes and John Wenham had recently lent their support to annihilationism/conditionalism, J.I. Packer gave a lecture on ‘The Problem of Eternal Punishment.’
Packer began by affirming what all evangelicals should affirm, namely that our views about ultimate destiny should be shaped not by what what we might like to be so, but by what Scripture actually says is so. Packer also observed what many before and after him have observed: that the Scriptural voice which speaks most frequently and firmly about hell is that of Jesus himself.…
In his book The Fire That Consumes Fudge devotes an entire chapter (chapter 4) to the meaning of the Greek word aiōnios (usually translated ‘eternal’).
The key question is this: does the word mean (a) everlasting, (b) characteristic of the age to come, or (c) either or both of these (depending on context)?
A key text is Matthew 25:46, which speaks both of ‘eternal life’ and ‘eternal punishment’. Many argue that aiōnios must mean the same in both parts of the verse. …
This was, of course, a question that was put to the Lord Jesus (Luke 13:23). We would do well to take his response to heart: it matters little whether they are few or many, if you are not among that number.
Still, some things can be said about this subject.
The question is faced up to squarely by the Puritan Christopher Love, even though he found his conclusion to be ‘one of the most dismal doctrines’ a pastor could preach. …
I present here arguments for and against this difficult and disputed question.
Traditionalists argue that the Gk words for ‘eternal’ (‘aion‘ and ‘ainios‘) often carry a clear idea of duration, Heb 13:8; Rev 4:10; 10:6; 11:15; 14:11; 20:10. Cp Mk 3:29 w Mt 12:32. They frequently note the parallelism between ‘eternal life’ and ‘eternal punishment’ in Mt 25:46.
The word ‘eternal’ is used over 60 times to refer to the blessings of the future state. …