This entry is part 101 of 101 in the series: Tough texts
- Genesis 1:26 – Why a plural name for God?
- Genesis 3 – traditional and revisionist readings
- Genesis 3:16b – ‘Your desire shall be for your husband’
- Genesis 5 – the ages of the antedeluvians
- Genesis 6:1f – ‘The sons of God’
- Genesis 6-8 – A worldwide flood?
- Genesis 12:3 – ‘I will bless those who bless you’
- Genesis 22 – “Abraham, kill your son”
- Exodus – Who hardened Pharaoh’s heart?
- Exodus 12:37 – How many Israelites left Egypt?
- Leviticus 19:18 “Love your neighbour as yourself”
- Joshua 6 – the fall of Jericho
- Joshua 10 – Joshua’s ‘long day’
- Judges 19:11-28 – The priest and the concubine
- 1 Samuel 16:14 – ‘An evil spirit from the Lord’
- 2 Sam 24:1, 1 Chron 21:1 – Who incited David?
- 1 Kings 20:30 – ‘The wall collapsed on 27,000 of them’
- Psalm 105:15 – ‘Touch not my anointed’
- Psalm 137:8f – ‘Happy is he who dashes your infants against the rocks’
- Isaiah 7:14/Matthew 1:23 – “The virgin will conceive”
- Daniel 7:13 – ‘Coming with the clouds of heaven’
- Jonah – history or fiction?
- Mt 1:1-17 and Lk 3:23-38 – the genealogies of Jesus
- Matthew 2:1 – ‘Magi from the east’
- Matthew 2:2 – The star of Bethlehem
- Matthew 2:8f – Can God speak through astrology?
- Matthew 2:23 – ‘Jesus would be called a Nazarene’
- Matthew 5:21f – Did Jesus reject the Old Testament?
- Matthew 7:16,20 – ‘You will recognise them by their fruit’
- Matthew 8:5/Luke 7:3 – Who asked Jesus to help?
- Matthew 8:5/Luke 7:7 – son? servant? male lover?
- Matthew 8:28 – Gadara or Gerasa?
- Matthew 10:23 – ‘Before the Son of Man comes’
- Matthew 11:12 – Forceful entry, or violent opposition, to the kingdom?
- Matthew 12:40 – Three days and three nights
- The Parable of the Sower – return from exile?
- Mt 15:21-28/Mk 7:24-30 – Jesus and the Canaanite woman
- Matthew 18:10 – What about ‘guardian angels’?
- Matthew 18:20 – ‘Where two or three are gathered…’
- Matthew 16:18 – Peter the rock?
- Matthew 21:7 – One animal or two?
- Mt 24:34/Mk 13:30 – ‘This generation will not pass away’
- Matthew 25:40 – ‘These brothers of mine’
- Matthew 27:46/Mark 15:34 – Jesus’ cry of dereliction
- Matthew 27:52f – Many bodies raised?
- Mark 1:41 – ‘Compassion’, or ‘anger/indignation’?
- Mark 2:25f – ‘When Abiathar was high priest’
- Mark 3:29; Luke 12:10 – The unpardonable sin
- Mark 4:31 – ‘The smallest of all the seeds’?
- Mark 6:45 – ‘To Bethsaida’
- Mark 12:41-44/Luke 21:1-4 – ‘The widow’s mite’
- Luke 2:1f – Quirinius and ‘the first registration’
- Luke 2 – Was Joseph from Nazareth, or Bethlehem?
- Luke 2:7 – ‘No room at the inn’
- Luke 2:8 – Shepherds: a despised class?
- Luke 4:16-19 – An incomplete quotation?
- Luke 7:2 – ‘Highly valued servant’ or ‘gay lover’?
- John 1:1 – ‘The Word was God’
- John 2:6 – symbol or history?
- John 2:12 – Did Mary bear other children?
- When did Jesus cleanse the Temple?
- John 3:16f – What is meant by ‘the world’?
- John 4:44 – ‘His own country’
- John 7:40-44 – Did John know about Jesus’ birthplace?
- John 7:53-8:11 – The woman caught in adultery
- John 14:6 – “No one comes to the Father except through me”
- John 14:12 – ‘Greater deeds’
- John 20:21 – “Just as the Father has sent me, I also send you.”
- John 21:11 – One hundred and fifty three fish
- Acts 5:1-11 – Ananias and Sapphira
- Acts 5:34-37 – a (minor) historical inaccuracy?
- Romans 1:5 – ‘The obedience of faith’
- Romans 1:18 – Wrath: personal or impersonal?
- Rom 3:22; Gal 2:16 – faith in, or faithfulness of Christ?
- Romans 5:18 – ‘Life for all?’
- Rom 7:24 – Who is the ‘wretched man’?
- Romans 11:26a – ‘And so all Israel will be saved’
- 1 Corinthians 14:34 – ‘Women should be silent in the churches’
- 1 Corinthians 15:28 – ‘The Son himself will be subjected to [God]’
- 1 Corinthians 15:29 – ‘Baptized for the dead’
- 1 Corinthians 15:44 – ‘Raised a spiritual body’
- 2 Corinthians 5:21 – ‘God made Christ to be sin for us’
- Galatians 3:17 – How much later?
- Galatians 3:28 – ‘Neither male nor female’
- Galatians 6:2 – ‘The law of Christ’
- Galatians 6:16 – The Israel of God
- Ephesians 1:10 – ‘The fullness of the times’
- Philippians 2:10 – ‘The name that is above every name’
- 1 Cor 11:3/Eph 5:23 – ‘Kephale’: ‘head’? ‘source’? ‘foremost’?
- Colossians 1:19f – Universal reconciliation?
- 1 Thessalonians 2:14f – ‘The Jews, who killed Jesus’
- 1 Timothy 2:4 – ‘God wants all people to be saved’
- 1 Timothy 2:11f – ‘I do not allow woman to teach or exercise authority over a man’
- 1 Timothy 4:10 – ‘The Saviour of all people’
- Hebrews 6:4-6 – Who are these people?
- Hebrews 12:1 – Who are these witnesses?
- 1 Peter 3:18-20 – Christ and the spirits in prison
- 2 Peter 3:9 – ‘The Lord wishes all to come to repentance’
- Jude 7 – ‘Unnatural desire’
- Revelation 7:4 – The 144,000
- Revelation 14:11 – ‘No rest day or night’
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.”
This passage, along with Rev 20:10, is often cited in the debate between those who hold to a doctrine of conscious eternal punishment, and annihilationists.
Beale offers two reasons why he thinks that the present passage evokes everlasting punishment:-
‘First, the parallel of Rev 20:10 refers to the devil, the beast, and the false prophet undergoing the judgment in “the lake of fire and brimstone” where “they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” This does not say that their existence will be abolished forever but that they will suffer torment forever. The ungodly suffer the same fate as their three satanic leaders, who represent them.’
‘Second, the word “torment” (basanismos) in Rev 14:10-11 is used nowhere in Revelation or biblical literature in the sense of annihilation of one’s existence (against Fudge, who defines it as “lifeless desolation”). Without exception, in Revelation it refers to conscious suffering on the part of people (Rev 9:5; 11:10; 12:2; 18:7, 10, 15; 20:10)….The various forms of the word “torment” (the basanismos word group) elsewhere in the New Testament and LXX, when applied to people, also refer to conscious suffering, not annihilation (see Matt. 4:24; 8:6, 29; 18:34; Mark 5:7; 6:48; Luke 8:28; 16:23, 28; 2 Peter 2:8).’
In Morgan, Christopher W. Hell Under Fire: Modern Scholarship Reinvents Eternal Punishment.
According to Yarbrough:-
‘Scripture implies that the smoke from the judgment of God’s enemies will not mar heavenly praise but if anything enhance it (Rev. 14:11; 19:3). Furthermore, in heaven “there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Rev 21:4). So hell’s woes will ultimately be transcended by those blessed in the heavenly presence. This may appear callous at first glance, but it is what Scripture says.’
In Morgan, Christopher W.. Hell Under Fire: Modern Scholarship Reinvents Eternal Punishment.
‘Conditionalist writers have taken this comment (no rest, day or night) to refer to the uninterrupted suffering of the followers of the beast while it continues, without implying that it will continue forever.’ (Bowles)
Bowles finds in vv9-11 an inverted parallelism:-
13. (A) If anyone worships the beast and its image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, (9)
14. (B) he also shall drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured unmixed into the cup of his anger, (10a)
15. (C) he shall be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. (10b)
16. (Ci) And the smoke of their torment goes up for ever and ever, (11a)
17. (Bi) and they have no rest, day or night, (11b)
18. (Ai) these worshippers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name. (11c).
Bowles thinks that each of the elements of the text admit to a conditionalist interpretation:-
The judgment of God by fire and sulfur is “a cipher for total destruction at Sodom and Gomorrah and thereafter (Gen 19: 23, 28; Deut 29: 23; Job 18: 15– 17; Isa 30: 27– 33; 34: 9– 11; Ezek 38: 22ff.).” The biblical image of judgment by fire and sulfur is a picture of decisive destruction and obliteration— not a picture of enduring torment. (Quoting Fudge)
‘The smoke of their torment rising for ever and ever’ alludes to the destruction of Sodom (Gen 19:28) and that of Edom (Isa 34:10ff). Fudge again: “Isaiah says ‘its smoke will rise forever,’ telling us that Edom’s destruction is not only certain (not quenched) and complete (smoke rising) but also irreversible. The desolation will be unending.” What it does not tell us is that the suffering is everlasting.
‘“No rest day or night” is another way of saying that God’s wrath is poured out in full strength when the judgment is operating; it is quenchless, unremitting and overwhelming. In modern warfare terms, it is the equivalent of intense, day and night, bombing; there is no break until it obliterates the enemy. The meaning of Rev 14: 11 is in harmony with the passage in Isaiah 34 that lies behind it.’ In other words, says Boyles, the suffering is uninterrupted, while it continues. And uninterrupted torment is not necessarily everlasting torment.
A conditionalist reading of this text, according to Broyles, is consistent with the immediate context, where Rev 14:14-20 depict the final judgement of the wicked as a scene of utter destruction, not of endless distress. It is also consistent with the wider context of Revelation, where the parallel descriptions of God’s judgement on the unrighteous describe utter destruction and not endless torment (Rev 6: 12– 17; 11: 15– 18; 14: 6– 20; 16: 17– 21; 17: 1– 19: 5; 19: 6— 20: 21). (in Christopher M. Date, Gregory G. Stump, Joshua W. Anderson. Rethinking Hell: Readings in Evangelical Conditionalism (p. 145ff).)
Ian Paul agrees:
Though the phrase smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever (AT) has been interpreted as indicating a continual experience of torment (which raises some particular theological problems), this is difficult to sustain in the light of the parallel at 19:3, where in an identical phrase the ‘smoke from [the city Babylon] rises for ever and ever’ (AT). It is impossible to imagine the city being perpetually destroyed; the image must signify the eternal effect of its destruction, rather than an eternal process of destruction (cf. the destruction of Edom in Isa. 34:10).
The fire itself is termed “eternal” and “unquenchable,” but it would be very odd if what is thrown into it proves indestructible. Our expectation would be the opposite: it would be consumed forever, not tormented forever. Hence it is the smoke (evidence that the fire has done its work) which “rises for ever and ever.”
On the contrary, our expectation would be that the smoke would die out once the fire had finished its work. . . . The rest of the verse confirms our interpretation: “There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image.”
Elsewhere, Stott writes:
I do not myself think that the anxious question whether the nature of hell is an eternal conscious torment or an ultimate eternal annihilation can be settled by a simple appeal to these sentences. For one thing, we need to keep reminding ourselves that the content of Revelation is symbolic vision not literal reality. Further, the essence of hell is separation from God, whereas these sentences speak of torment ‘in the presence of the … Lamb’. What is clear is that hell is an eternal destruction, whatever the precise nature of this destruction may be, and that there will be no respite from it.
(The Incomparable Christ, p205f)
According to Boyd and Eddy,
These passages are not as problematic for the annihilationist view as they might initially seem. The phrase “forever and ever” can be translated “for ages upon ages,” which implies an indefinite but not necessarily unending period of time. Even more fundamentally, it is important to keep in mind that Revelation is a highly symbolic book. Its apocalyptic images should not be interpreted literally. This is particularly true of the phrase “forever and ever,” since phrases similar to this are used elsewhere in Scripture in contexts in which they clearly cannot literally mean unending (e.g., Gen. 49:26; Exod. 40:15; Num. 25:13; Ps. 24:7).
(Across the Spectrum: Understanding Issues in Evangelical Theology)