Bible Facts About the Death of the Wicked
- Supplement to Lesson 12
It is not true that sinners will burn
forever in hellfire. The Bible teaches that, yes, the wicked will
be punished, but only for a relatively short time--and then they
will perish and no longer exist. No one sins enough in this life,
to deserve eternal burnings on his body!
Our God is a good, merciful God, and will
blot out, from existence, those who, in the final day of
Judgment, have been shown to not want the purity and harmony of
"If eternal hell is real, love is
eternally frustrated and heaven will be a place of mourning and
concern for the lost. Such joy and such grief cannot go
together."--Gerald Kennedy, Reader's Notebook, 1953, Harper
Thank God that He is perfectly just and
fair in all His dealings with His creatures! "The wages of
sin is death," said Paul (Romans 6:23). Death for the wicked
will come quickly, and will mean the cessation of life--forever.
This is the reward of the wicked.
What is the punishment of the
wicked? Where will it take place? How long will it last? What
will happen after it is ended? The Bible has answers. Here they
WHAT WILL BE THE END OF THE WICKED?
1. What will be the end of the
the wages of sin is death."
soul that sinneth, it shall die."
The original Greek and Hebrew words for
"death" and "die" mean to cease to exist, to
That answers the question of Peter:
"What shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of
God?" (1 Peter 4:17).--They will be blotted out of
2. How complete will this death be?
2 Thessalonians 1:9--"Who
shall be punished with everlasting destruction?"
The Greek word here is olethros,
"destruction," and is the same as the English word,
which means "to ruin, demolish, abolish, annihilate."
3. In what other ways is the death
of wicked described?
ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish."
2 Peter 2:12--"But
these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed,
speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall
utterly perish in their own corruption."
The word "perish" means "to
be destroyed, pass away, come to an end, be lost, to die."
The Greek word is apollume, "be destroyed."
the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the Lord shall be as
the fat of lambs; they shall consume; into smoke shall they
The word "consume" means "to
destroy the substance of, especially by fire" or by
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF HELL?
4. What are the three meanings of
"hell" in the Bible?
(1) "Hell" sometimes
means "the grave."
wilt not leave My soul in hell [sheol; Hebrew for the
grave]; neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see
This verse is a prediction of the death,
burial, and resurrection of Christ. He did not go into hellfire,
but into the grave. In Acts 2:27, this scripture is quoted by
Peter. The Greek word used there is hades, which also
means the grave. In 1 Corinthians 15:55, hades is
translated "the grave."
(2) "Hell" can also mean
a "place of burning." In the New Testament
this word is Gehenna, or the "Valley of
Hinnom," and was a deep valley just south of Jerusalem,
where the garbage was burned up. Gehenna is the burning
(3) "Hell" represents
"darkness." In 2 Peter 2:4, the Greek word is Tartarus,
not Gehenna or hades.
2 Peter 2:4--"God
spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell,
and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto
This is the darkness that enshrouded Satan
and his angels, when they were cast out of the presence of God.
This is the darkness which has come to earth, because of the
presence of the prince of darkness (Isaiah 60:2).
WHERE DO ALL MEN GO AT DEATH?
According to the Bible, all men go to the
grave (sheol; hades) at death. Four questions will explain it:
5. What is the house that all go to
I know that Thou wilt bring me to death, and to the house
appointed for all living."
6. What is this house of death?
I wait, the grave (sheol) is mine house: I have made my bed in
7. At death, what happens?
shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit
shall return unto God who gave it."
This is the opposite of creation, when God
breathed into the lifeless body of Adam, and he became alive.
the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed
into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living
8. Does everyone go to the grave at
man is he that liveth, and shall not see death? Shall he deliver
his soul from the hand of the grave [sheol]"
is one event to the righteous, and to the wicked."
Everyone goes to the grave at death; no one
goes to hellfire. The best and the worst people die and go to the
Yes, death is an "enemy" (1
Corinthians 15:26), and we sorrow when our loved ones go into the
grave, but we can thank God that "blessed are the dead which
die in the Lord" (Revelation 14:13). They have the hope of
the resurrection. We may also be thankful that the wicked are
slumbering in silence, and not screaming in continuous torture
WHEN WILL THE RIGHTEOUS DEAD COME OUT OF
9. At the Second Coming of Christ,
God's faithful ones will have victory over what?
1 Corinthians 15:55--"O
death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?"
The righteous dead come out of the grave,
or hades, at the sound of the "last trump."
10. Is that when the righteous gain
1 Corinthians 15:51-55--"Behold,
I shew you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be
changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last
trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised
incorruptible, and we shall be changed . . . So when this
corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall
have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying
that is written, death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where
is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?"
Jesus promised us that we would not go to
heaven to be with Him, until His Second Coming (John 14:1-3).
Christ's promise will someday be fulfilled.
At the sound of the "trump of God," His own, who have
slept in silence, unconscious of the passing of time, will
suddenly be wakened. Some have been in the graves for thousands
of years, others for only a few years. But to all, it will be as
a moment--and they will come forth to radiant, immortal life.
Paul said that was when he--and all God's people--will be given
2 Timothy 4:8--"Henceforth,
there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord,
the righteous judge shall give me at that day: and not to me
only, but unto all them also that love His appearing."
The promise of the resurrection is very
definite, and very important.
1 Corinthians 15:16, 18--"For
if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised . . . Then they
also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished."
WHEN WILL THE WICKED DEAD COME OUT OF THE
11. When are the wicked raised from
"But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand
years were finished."
That is what the Bible teaches. The wicked
will be raised from their graves a thousand years later. It is
not until that time that "hell" (hades, or the
grave) gives up its dead (Revelation 20:13).
At the beginning of the millennium, Jesus
raises His own from their graves and takes them to heaven. After
a thousand years pass, they descend upon the earth with the Holy
City, and then enter it. At that time, the wicked dead are
raised, and Satan is thus able to again tempt and control the
wicked (Revelation 20:1-7).
At the end of the millennium, untold
millions of dead are raised from the grave, or sheol.
Satan goes out to deceive them, and lead them in an attack on the
City of God (Revelation 20:5-9). But then they receive their
final sentence from God.
WHERE ARE THE WICKED AND THE GRAVE CAST?
12. After they have been raised at
the close of the millennium, where are the wicked and
"hell" (the grave) cast?
death and hell [hades, the grave] were cast into the
lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not
found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of
The wicked are cast into a literal lake of
fire. Nine times Christ warns us about this "hell" of
fire, this burning hell. This is the "place of
burning," the final Gehenna. It is mentioned 12 times in the
IS EVERY PART OF MAN CAST INTO THIS FIRE?
13. Is the whole man--all of
him--cast into this fire?
fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the
soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and
body in hell."
It is sin and yielding to Satan which we
need to fear. The wicked will be completely destroyed in
hellfire. Nothing will remain undestroyed.
if thy right hand offend thee, cut if off, and cast it from thee:
for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should
perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into
hell." (Also Matthew 18:8-9).
There is no fire in the grave. It is the
place of quiet and unconsciousness. That is what the Bible
teaches about what happens to man when he dies.
breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day
his thoughts perish."
living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything .
. . Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now
in death there is no remembrance of Thee."
dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into
HOW LONG WILL THE WICKED BURN?
14. How long do the wicked burn in
(1) Until body and soul are destroyed:
rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in
(2) Until neither root nor branch is left:
behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the
proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the
day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that
it shall leave them neither root nor branch."
(3) Until they are devoured--and die the
Revelation 20:9, 14--"And
they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp
of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down
from God out of heaven, and devoured them . . . And death and
hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second
(4) The wicked burn "forever"--as
long as life lasts.
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."
15. How long is "for
"For ever" may mean only as long
as a man lives.
Exodus 21:2, 5-6--"If
thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the
seventh he shall go out free for nothing . . . And if the servant
shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children: I
will not go out free: Then his master shall bring him unto the
Judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door
post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl; and
he shall serve him for ever.
"For ever" could also mean a
shorter period of time. Jonah afterward said that, while he was
in the great fish he was shut up "with the earth and her
bars about me for ever" (Jonah 2:6). Jesus said about the
wicked, "These shall go away into everlasting
punishment" (Matthew 25:46). He did not say,
"punishing," but "punishment." The punishment
was death, and it would have everlasting results.
16. What is the meaning of
Everlasting or eternal fire--is fire which
God uses to destroy everlastingly.
shall He say also unto them on the lefthand, Depart from Me, ye
cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his
This fire is called "everlasting"
(Greek: aionion, "age lasting") because of its
17. Is there in the Bible an
example of this kind of fire?
The fire which burned Sodom and Gomorrah
was everlasting fire.
as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner,
giving them selves over to fornication, and going after strange
flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of
Those cities were burned to ashes about
2 Peter 2:6--"And
turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes condemned
them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that
after should live ungodly."
That is the kind of "everlasting
punishment" the wicked receive. The death of those wicked
will forever be a memorial to God's hatred of sin. It is death
with eternal results.
these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the
righteous into life eternal."
This fire is called "unquenchable
if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to
enter into life maimed, then having two hands to go into hell,
into the fire that never shall be quenched: where their worm
dieth not, and the fire is not quenched."
18. Why is it called unquenchable
This fire is called unquenchable (Greek:
asbestos) because it cannot be put out and not because it will
not go out. The word simply means that no power will be able to
quench this fire until it has consumed everything in the fire.
19. Is there an example in the
Bible of unquenchable fire?
if ye will not hearken unto Me to hallow the Sabbath day, and not
to bear a burden, even entering in at the gates of Jerusalem on
the Sabbath day; then will I kindle a fire in the gates thereof,
and it shall devour the places of Jerusalem, and it shall not be
quenched." [Fulfilled in Jeremiah 52:12-13; and for this
reason: 2 Chronicles 36:14-21.]
Jerusalem is not burning today. Yet God
said it would be destroyed by a fire, "and it shall not be
quenched." It was not quenched, but burned every thing up
and burned out. So shall the wicked be completely destroyed.
The "worm" is a symbol of
complete and final destruction. In the Valley of Hinnom, the
worms consumed what the fire did not destroy.
20. What is the "second
death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the
second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of
life was cast into the lake of fire."
It, is quite clear that the wicked are
going to be completely destroyed. It is called "death,"
the "second death." It is death, not life. At the first
death the wicked went into the grave. The second death marks the
final end of the sinner, the end of death, and the end of the
grave. At that moment in time, God will be completely finished
with sin, sinners, death, and the grave.
21. When will the wicked burn in
The wicked are not suffering now. Peter
tells us they are "reserved" unto the day of Judgment
to be punished.
2 Peter 2:9--"The
Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to
reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished."
This happens at the end of the millennium,
after the wicked dead are raised.
the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years
They are not burning now, but are
"reserved" till a later time. But when that time comes,
the fire will do its work thoroughly and completely; they will be
came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them."
The wicked are reserved unto the day of
destruction (2 Peter 3:7 with Job 21:30), and "They shall be
brought forth to the day of wrath" (Job 21:30).
Jesus Himself said, "The tares are the
children of the wicked one." And "as therefore the
tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the
end of this world" (Matthew 13:38, 40).
There is not a single, solitary sinner
burning in hell today. Thank God for that! He is totally fair and
Just. When the punishment is finally meted out, it will be
And it will be thorough. So complete will
be the destruction, that the wicked will be as though they had
not been. (More on this later in this study.)
22. Where will hellfire burn?
The Bible is quite clear that it will burn
on the surface of the earth.
the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth: much more the
wicked and the sinner."
2 Peter 3:7--"But
the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are
kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of Judgment and
perdition of ungodly men.
The present heavens and earth and sinners
await the fires of the last day. The Greek for
"perdition" is apoleia,
While hellfire is burning, the earth will
temporarily become a fiery hell. Yet the repeated promise is that
God's people will inherit the earth.
meek shall inherit the earth" (also Matthew 5:5; Isaiah
God's children could not inherit the earth,
if hellfire were forever burning on it.
Instead, when the fire goes out, God will
remake the world more beautiful than before.
I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the
first earth were passed away."
23. Will this death be so complete
that sin and sinners will never again exist?
It will be so complete that as soon as the
fire is ended, there will not be another sinner anywhere. Sin and
sinners will be no more--forever. In Matthew 13:41-42, it is
called a "furnace of fire." What can be more
destructive than a fiery furnace?
yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt
diligently consider his place, and it shall not be." If the
wicked were forever alive in hellfire, they would be continually
sinning. hating, cursing. But sin and sinners will be no more.
After a relatively short time, the lake of fire will stop
burning, and there will be no more fire, because the sinners will
all be forever perished.
as ye have drunk upon My holy mountain, so shall all the heathen
drink continually, yea, they shall drink, and they shall swallow
down, and they shall be as though they had not been."
shall not rise up the second time."
the whirl wind passeth, so is the wicked no more.
As soon as the fire is out, God will make a
new earth,--and only God's faithful ones will dwell in it. The
wicked will be gone forever.
2 Peter 3:13--"Nevertheless
we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new
earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness."
24. Why will sin finally be ended?
It is a great mercy of God to finally bring
to an end this misery. But when it finally occurs, all will see
that God was just and right at each step in the great controversy
between Christ and Satan.
God does not want to hurt or slay anyone,
but it is His responsibility, as the Creator, to finally
eliminate the hateful, rebellious, and wicked. That is why the
destruction of the wicked is called "His strange act."
the Lord shall rise up as in mount Perazim, He shall be wroth as
in the valley of Gibeon, that He may do His work, His strange
work; and bring to pass His act, His strange act."
Through sin the wicked have forfeited the
right to life and an immortal existence with God and holy angels.
Their destruction will be an act of love and mercy on the part of
God. To perpetuate their lives would only be to perpetuate sin,
sorrow, suffering, and misery.
Even death itself will then be at an
end--cast into the lake of fire and destroyed (Revelation 20:14).
The experience of sin will be over, and
God's original plan of peopling the earth with a race of holy,
happy beings will be carried out (2 Peter 3:13).
HOW CAN WE AVOID HELLFIRE AND THE SECOND
The unquenched flames of hell, Gehenna,
which do not preserve, but consume whatever they feed on, aptly
pictures what other Bible texts describe as the utter destruction
of the wicked at the time of the final Judgment.
25. How can we escape that final
"everlasting destruction,"--and, instead, have eternal
life with Christ?
2 Peter 3:14--"Wherefore,
beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye
may be found of Him in peace, without spot, and blameless."
It is now that we must prepare for heaven,
it is now that we must return to God, repent of our sins, and
surrender our lives to Him. It is now that we must resist sin
through the enabling grace of Jesus Christ, and, through that
grace, obey the Ten Commandments.
No one found written in the Book of Life
will be destroyed in the lake of fire. (Revelation 21:8; 21:2 7;
whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into
the lake of fire."
God never intended that any human being
suffer in hellfire. For Christ tells us it was "prepared for
the devil and his angels" (Matthew 25:41). Christ died that
we might have a home with Him forever. It is by His mercies that
we can have this. In the strength of Christ, let us take it--and
tell every one we meet about it.
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