Is Hell forever torment or mere destruction? NEW: Newly Updated as of Saturday, 19 September 2009

The Jehovah’s Witnesses discuss this on pages 168-175 of their publication, Reasoning from the Scriptures, and they generally hold that Hell (Gehenna) is destruction, not eternal torment.

They chiefly cite Eccl. 9:5 and 10 for Solomon’s discourse on how the dead don’t know anything and relate definitions of Gehenna and other words translated from the original language -and mention the history of the subject. (Eccl. 9:5,10 is also a passage they use to prove Soul Sleep, another related doctrine.) They also claim that the story of Lazarus and the rich man in Hell (Luke 16:19-31) is a mere parable. This may or may not be true, so we can’t disprove their doctrine with the Luke passage. They also cite Ezek. 18:4, which says that the soul which sins shall die, implying no eternal punishment. However, this may merely mean spiritual death but with eternal punishment. Therefore, the Ezekiel passage alone is inconclusive.

The wicked are destroyed in Hell --not everlasting punishment, Right??

But the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the LORD shall be as the fat of lambs: they shall consume; into smoke shall they consume away. --PSALM 37:20

As smoke is driven away, so drive them away: as wax melteth before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God. --PSALM 68:2

The wicked shall see it, and be grieved; he shall gnash with his teeth, and melt away: the desire of the wicked shall perish. --PSALM 112:10

For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. --Ecclesiastes 9:5

Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest. --Ecclesiastes 9:10

WRONG!! --If that is so, then the righteous are also destroyed -but we know this is not so: Metaphor, play on words.

The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come. --ISAIAH 57:1

The good man is perished out of the earth: and there is none upright among men: they all lie in wait for blood; they hunt every man his brother with a net. --Micah 7:2

Obviously, the scriptures above can not mandate destruction -in light of ISAIAH 57:1 and Micah 7:2 -but they do not deny it either, so we must study further to get to the bottom of this.

Some other scriptures that hint at the issue but don’t prove or disprove either competing doctrine:

In Rev. 20:10, Hell is eternal torment for the Devil, but the devil may be a special case as an angel. Thus, this does not prove or disprove what may be the case for humans.

Call in the “A” Team: Here are scriptures which definitively prove that Hell is eternal torment:

Rev. 14:9-11 indicates that the torment (not mere destruction) shall be forever for mankind who worship the beast: (emphasis added for clarity)

9And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand,

10The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:

11And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night [also apparently forever], who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.”

Matt. 25:46 is quite clear, however: “…these [people, not mere angels] shall go away into everlasting punishment…” (Not simply everlasting destruction, but punishment, implying and requiring torment and conscious pain. This makes sense, since man was created in God’s image: A spirit being and eternal.) The JW claim that the wicked merely go to eternal “lopping off” or a “cutting off” (p. 171 of Reasoning from the Scriptures), but this doesn’t make sense: If it was mere destruction, then why did the writer use a word that implies punishment -instead of simply saying “destruction” as does this scripture? The wicked who “know not God…shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power” (II Thes. 1:8-9) Obviously, their destruction, which otherwise would imply complete destruction, is “eternal punishment,” as Matt. 25:46 says, not merely destruction as in II Thes. 1:8-9.

Isa. 66:24 says that “they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases [not necessarily “dead” carcases] of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.” (Note: Deut. 14:8 and Ezek 6:5 qualify that there were “dead” carcases, implying that not all carcases are dead.) Thus, we see clearly that since their worm doesn’t die, their carcases aren’t dead: Eternal punishment is just punishment for those who reject grace divine. The NT also says that their worm doesn’t die: Mark 9:47b-48, which says that “it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.” Their worm (soul) then must live forever -if it doesn’t die. Truly, they have “everlasting punishment” (Matt. 25:46) but no rest day or night (Rev. 14:11), but if their soul died, surely they would have rest: For their worm (soul) unfortunately shall not die. (It is obviously not “worms” that infest or eat at a carcases, since they would eventually eat the carcass or corpse, and thus it would not be eternal.) Note: That did not say “a worm” - it said “their” worm: What else could it mean but a soul?

Something else to consider: Even the fallen angels (demons) were afraid to go to HELL:

** "2 And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit" --MARK 5:2 (KJV)
** "27 And when he went forth to land, there met him out of the city a certain man, which had devils long time, and ware no clothes, neither abode in any house, but in the tombs." --LUKE 8:27 (KJV)
There might have even been two demon-possessed men:
** "28 And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way." --MATTHEW 8:28 (KJV)

Please note the request the demons made of JESUS:

** "29 And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?" --MATTHEW 8:29 (KJV)
** "7 And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not." --MARK 5:7 (KJV)
** "12 And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them." --MARK 5:12 (KJV)
** "32 Now a herd of many swine was feeding there on the mountain. So they begged Him that He would permit them to enter them. And He permitted them." --LUKE 8:32 (NKJV)

A little bit of common sense is in order here: If even the powerful fallen angels did not want to "commit suicide" and go to Hell -like so many suicide cases now-days -people who think they know what lies ahead! (and, remember, folks: The fallen angels AKA demons who spoke with JESUS did know what Hell was all about!), then why do you think it would be OK for you to go there? Really?

DEGREES OF SIN *DO* EXIST: (Words of Christ in red)

POINT TO CONSIDER: If degrees of sin do indeed exist, then degrees of punishment would logically then exist -therefore it would not be just of God to “annihilate” or destroy all sinners equally -that is, to treat Hitler’s sins equal to, say, a garden variety pagan! (“Annihilationism” must be wrong, then -and eternal punishment -of differing levels -is the only other alternative.)


Deuteronomy 25:2 (cf: Numbers 15:29-30; Deuteronomy 25:3; Luke 12:47-48) Then if the guilty man deserves to be beaten, the judge shall cause him to lie down and be beaten in his presence with a certain number of stripes according to his offense.


Matthew 5:22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. [Comment: Three degrees of cursing sin, here.]

Matt. 10:15,(cf. Matt 11:24; Luke 10:12) Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.

Matthew 11:22 (cf. Luke 10:14) But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.

Matt. 12:31 (cf. Mark 3:28-29) Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.

Matt. 16:27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.

Revelation 20:12-14

12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

Proverbs 24:12 If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works?

Colossians 3:25 But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality. (NKJV)

Luke 12:47-48
And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.
But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.

LUKE 20:47 (cf: Matthew 23:14; Mark 12:38-40)
Which devour widows’ houses, and for a shew make long prayers: the same shall receive greater damnation.

JOHN 19:11 Jesus answered,
Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.

Hebrews 10:29 (KJV)
Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

Hebrews 10:29 (AMP)
How much worse (sterner and heavier) punishment do you suppose he will be judged to deserve who has spurned and [thus] trampled underfoot the Son of God, and who has considered the covenant blood by which he was consecrated common and unhallowed, thus profaning it and insulting and outraging the [Holy] Spirit [Who imparts] grace (the unmerited favor and blessing of God)?

JAMES 3:1 My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.

1st EPISTLE of JOHN 5:16-17
16 If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death.
[BUT!] There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it. [Comment in purple above and here: A “greater” sin.]
17 All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death.

CONCLUSION: SINCE WE SEE HERE that degrees of sin exist, then degrees of punishment must logically exist -therefore it would not be just of God to “annihilate” or destroy all sinners equally -that is, to treat Hitler’s sins equal to, say, a garden variety pagan! (“Annihilationism” must be wrong, then -and eternal punishment -of differing levels -is the only other alternative.)

Secondly, does it really matter whether "Hell" is eternal torment -or merely just 'destruction'? Suffice it to say, you really don't want to go there, and if you doubt that, please re-read this page a few times.

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