by Jay Hess
One of three explanations for the
the eternal destiny of the wicked
There are three views within the conservative evangelical Christian
community that describe the ultimate destiny for the wicked:
Below is a tabular representation of these three views with the key differences
Although there are variations within each of these three views, I have
chosen three representative views that I think are the most defensible:
Eternal Separation - This is probably the
most popular view. It holds that the wicked will spend eternity separated
away from God and the Kingdom in a dark and gloomy place called "hell."
Additionally it may be that each person will experience total isolation,
being separated from even other inhabitants of hell. This condition is
eternal and unpleasant. Those who hold this view should consider what it
means to be separated from God if God is Omnipresent (everywhere).
Eternal Suffering - This view was the dominant
view at one time and may still well be depending on the religious community
surveyed. It is believed that the wicked will spend eternity in hell, also
called the "lake of fire." The wicked are tormented there and suffer for
eternity. Some who hold this view would say this occurs away from
God and the Kingdom, while others would say that since God is Omnipresent,
the wicked are never truly outside of God's presence.
Eternal Smoke - This view is held by only
a minority of persons, including a few conservative Bible scholars. Some
holding the aforementioned views consider this concept to be a heresy.
Unlike those views, this one claims the wicked do not suffer eternally
but are ultimately burned up or destroyed in hell. Some adherents
would say the reference to being "burned up" is only a metaphor and does
not indicate any suffering at all while others hold that this refers to
a very unpleasant destructive process. The final condition is illustrated
as resulting in a corpse or smoke and is permanent, everlasting. Sometimes
this view is called "Annihilationism" because the wicked are essentially
annihilated or destroyed. Other variations of this belief are called "Conditional
Immortality" or simply "Conditionalism" meaning that immortality is a gift
that only some receive, it is conditional upon their being accepted
by God into His kingdom. Therefore those who do not receive the gift of
immortality are destroyed.
|The characteristics of hell and where the three views agree and disagree:
|Does hell exist?
|Is hell eternal, forever?
|Do the fire and worm that are in hell (Isaiah 66:24; Mark 9:48) continue
|Do those who are finally sent to Hell experience unpleasantness?
|Do the demonic inhabitants of Hell experience unpleasantness forever?
|Is the cause of the suffering primarily a result of being outside the
Kingdom and away from God's glory?
|Is the cause of suffering a result of the processes that are in hell
(fire and worm)?
|Do the human inhabitants consciously respond to the punishment forever?
Who believes in Annihilationism or one of its variations?
In the list below are some who embrace this view or comfortably tolerate
it. Naturally, while this may be true at the moment this list is written
and posted, they could change or even recant their view. I do not promise
that at the very moment you read this, this list is absolutely current.
The following evangelical Bible scholars and commentators have expressed
a similar belief in one form or another:
The Anglican church (Episcopalian church in England) comfortably tolerate
The Advent Christian Church
Individuals in various churches
Note that the Jehovah's Witnesses do not believe in "Annihilationism" as
described above. They believe that at death both the righteous (including
the apostles) and the wicked cease to exist. There is no future event where
the wicked (either body or spirit) are sent anywhere or anything happens
John Stott (in the Anglican church and author of Evangelical Essentials,
1988 pages 313-320),
John Wenham (see The Goodness of God, 1974; Universalism and
the Doctrine of Hell, 1991, chapter 6: The Case for Conditional
Stephen Travis (I Believe in the Second Coming of Jesus, 1982),
Philip E. Hughes (The True Image: The Origin and Destiny of Man in Christ,
Clark Pinnock (The
Destruction of the Finally Impenitent, 1990),
Michael Green (Evangelism through the Local Church, 1992).
John L. Bray (Southern Baptist evangelist)
See the article in Christianity
Today (October 23, 2000) and the sidebar.
The following article attempts to explain one particular definition
The belief that those judged by God to be wicked will go to an eternal
place of punishment where they will suffer for an unknown but finite amount
of time. Although Hell will exist eternally and the punishment resulting
from Hell's nature will go on forever for the Devil and his angels, ultimately
all humans, their bodies and souls, will be brought to a condition of complete
non-functionality and will no longer be aware of the punishment. This final
state is permanent, everlasting.
We will consider several verses that speak of hell, the final judgment,
darkness and fire. They are presented in a specific order for a reason,
to propose a possible interpretation.
||33 You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned
||24 But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, "It is only by Beelzebub,
the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons." . . . 28 But
if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has
come upon you. . . . 31 And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will
be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.
32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but
who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this
age or in the age to come.
|| The above implies that the Pharisees who blasphemed will never
be forgiven. The punishment is permanent, never ending.
||50 The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect
him and at an hour he is not aware of. 51 He will cut him to pieces
and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping
and gnashing of teeth.
||11 I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and
will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the
kingdom of heaven. 12 But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown
outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of
||13 Then the king told the attendants, 'Tie him hand and foot, and
him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing
||and throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where
there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
||15 Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the
sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves
and practices falsehood.
||12 These men are . . . twice dead. 13 They are wild waves of the sea,
foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has
been reserved forever.
||The above 6 references imply there is a place called 'outside' that
is a place of darkness where there is weeping and the wicked are cut into
||41 Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who
are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.'
... 46 Then they will go away to eternal punishment
|20 But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had
performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded
those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The
of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. 21
rest of them were killed with the sword that came out of the mouth
of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their
10 And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of
burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown.
They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever. 11 Then I saw
a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from
his presence, and there was no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great
and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book
was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to
what they had done as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead
that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them,
and each person was judged according to what he had done. 14 Then death
and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the
second death. 15 If anyone's name was not found written in the book
of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
||"And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the
body, and after that have no more that they can do. 5 But I
will warn you whom to fear; fear the One who after He has killed has
authority to cast into hell;
yes, I tell you, fear Him."
||"And do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill
the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and
body in hell."
||22 "As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure
before me," declares the LORD, "so will your name and descendants endure.
23 from one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind
will come and bow down before me," says the LORD. 24 "And they will go
out and look upon the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me;
their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they
will be loathsome to all mankind."
|43 If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you
to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the
fire never goes out. 45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it
off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet
and be thrown into hell. 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck
it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than
to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, 48 where " 'their
worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.'
||The above 6 references imply that after the wicked are killed they
are thrown into the fire that had been prepared for the devil.
It appears possible that there is a sequence of punishment, the wicked
are sent to the outside darkness. Later they are thrown into the lake of
fire. Whether this is possible would be determined by the meaning of Jude
1:13. If the wickde are to inhabit the dark outside place forever, then
it does not appear there is a sequence to the punishment. Then we are not
to read too much into Luke 12:5 "after He has killed..." However if Jude
is only stating that the place is an eternal place reserved for the wicked,
then it may be that it is a step on the way to a place of light, the lake
Are the wicked resurrected, body and soul?
The wicked are resurrected:
What happens to them after that?
Next, see Jesus' words at . . .
"14 But this I admit to you . . . 15
a hope in God, . . . that there shall certainly be a resurrection of both
the righteous and the wicked." Acts 24:14,15
"And do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the
soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul
and body in hell ." (Greek - Gehenna).
"And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the
body, and after that have no more that they can do. 5 But I
will warn you whom to fear; fear the One who after He has
killed has authority to cast into hell;
yes, I tell you, fear Him." (Greek - Gehenna).
What can be learned from comparing Matthew 10:28 and Luke 12:4,5?
) The above translation (from the New American Standard) uses the
word "hell" but the Greek word is Gehenna.
) The body and soul are distinct entities.
For Jesus to say there are those who can do a certain thing to the
body but cannot do it to the soul implies the two objects are different
and what happens to one is not necessarily what happens to the other.
) The soul is more valuable than the body.
To say that one should not fear those who can act against the
body but to only fear the One who can act against the soul implies that
the soul is more valuable.
) "Those who kill the body" is probably a reference to evil men. (Who else?)
) This warning includes the killing of the soul.
In the the Matthew account Jesus said "do not fear those who . . .
are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him . . ." Where is the logic
if there is NO ONE who is able to kill the soul? Or, where is the
warning if there is someone who is able to kill the soul
but is unwilling? The logic is empty unless there is One who can
and will "kill" the soul. Next consider the Luke account:
"do not be afraid of those who . . . have no more that they can do. But
. . . fear the One who after He has killed [what?] has authority to cast
[what?] into hell." When the text says he has "authority to cast" something
"into hell," although this account does not mention the soul, we know from
the Matthew account this refers to both body and soul. This suggests
that where the previous phrase said "He has killed" this too would be referring
to both body and soul. This would mean that the "more" that the One can
do, which man cannot do, is to kill the body and soul and then destroy
both in Gehenna.
) The result of killing the soul is more than simply the separation of
the body and soul.
Killing the body, as here described in Matthew 10:28 does not
necessarily imply the soul is also killed. The killing of the soul is brought
about only by the One who can do that. Killing the body leads to death
but not the death of the soul. When the body is killed, body and soul are
separated but the body alone is dead. Since the soul is already separated
from the body, what could be meant by killing the soul which is "more"
(Luke 12:4)? Evidently killing the soul requires an additional action.
) The prospect of the soul being "destroyed" in Gehenna is fearsome
to those in Jesus' audience.
Both accounts make it clear that there is "One" who is to be
He can cast more than just the body into Gehenna.
) In these texts killing the soul implies an action that eventually
leads to making it non-functional.
Both the Matthew and Luke accounts refer to the killing of the body
and an associated fear. The killing of the body is a fearful thing, people
naturally fear it. People also fear pain. Which fear is being referenced
by Jesus, the fear associated with the killing of the body, or the fear
of extreme pain or both? Jesus' argument never mentions pain but only the
ultimate act beyond which man can do "no more" (Luke 12:4). Since pain
is only incidental to the process of killing the body, the fear of pain
could have been addressed without even mentioning "killing." It seems more
likely that Jesus was addressing the fear associated with the killing of
the body with any other fears being incidental. That fear would be the
anticipation that death ends human life and results in the body becoming
non-functional. Jesus' expands on this fear by warning his audience there
is something much worse. It parallels the killing of the body but is more
fearful since it is done to the soul, something man cannot do. While
man can torment the soul (2 Peter 2;7,8) he cannot kill it. Killing
the body likely involves torment yet it eventually leads to the body becoming
non-functional. Likewise, killing the soul would likely involve torment
but it too would eventually lead to a state of being non-functional.
) The soul can be "destroyed" if cast into hell.
This is found in the Matthew account where it says "both" soul and
body can be "destroyed" in hell, regardless of what "destroyed" means.
) The destruction of the soul is more than just killing the soul.
The killing precedes the casting into Gehenna (according to
Luke) where both body and soul are then (eventually?) destroyed (according
to Matthew). It could be that the "killing" is a process that starts before
being cast into hell and continues for a time after the person is in hell,
which eventually results in both body and soul being "destroyed."
) Men cannot destroy the soul.
What happens to the body is less fearsome but what happens to the soul
is terrifying (Hebrews 10:31). Therefore only "One" is to
be feared because He alone can destroy the soul. If man could destroy the
soul then Jesus' warning, as recorded in Matthew, is pointless.
) God is the "One" who has both the ability and the authority to do this.
From Revelation 20:10 we see it is not the Devil who casts others
into hell, for he is himself punished in the lake of fire and has no power
or authority to do anything. From verses 20:11-14 there is one, "He" who
sits on the throne and judges all, who has the authority to cast the wicked
into the lake of fire. This is certainly God, but some think it is the
Father, others say it is the Son (Acts 17:31; 2 Timothy 4:1; John 5:22,23,30;
) This prospect is real.
In the Luke account Jesus said this was a warning. There would
be no need for a warning if the "One" who had this authority would in reality
never do this "killing." It would be an empty warning, pointless. There
would be no need for Jesus to warn about something that will never happen
and there is no need to fear someone who could do something but never would.
Jesus meant this warning to be real and serious. The Luke account says
that "after He has killed" not "after he could kill." This
affirms that this One will kill. If "killing" is a certainty then
this suggests that the rest of his statement, the destruction of the body
and soul, is also a certainty. Therefore this One can and will destroy
both body and soul in Gehenna. (Elsewhere, in Mark 9:42-48, we learn
that the ones cast into Gehenna are the wicked, those unfit for
the kingdom of God.)
) Although the body and soul are distinct, they both encounter the same
destiny in Gehenna, destruction.
Further, Jesus reasoned "do not fear those who kill the body, but are
kill the soul" and then contrasts this with "fear Him who is able to destroy
both." This whole line of reasoning would be empty if he were really saying
'man can kill but is unable to do more and there is another who
can kill but is unwilling to do more.' There is not much of a contrast
between someone who is 'unable' do something and someone who is 'unwilling'
to do it. And there is certainly no reason to fear either.
The Matthew account says "both" are destroyed.
) Destroying the soul in Matthew does not refer to "torment" as used in
the New Testament.
The destruction of the soul as mentioned in Matthew is something man
Yet the New Testament says man can "torment" the soul.
2 Peter 2:7,8: ". . . [God] rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by
the sensual conduct of unprincipled men 8 (for by what he saw
and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous
tormented day after day with their lawless deeds)" - 2 Peter
According to this text Lot's soul was tormented and it was a result
of the lawless oppression of men. Their evil conduct caused Lot's righteous
soul to be tormented. So, can man torment another's soul? Yes, indeed.
So what was Jesus referring to when he said that God would "destroy" the
soul, something that man could not do? Although God may do other
things to the body and soul, things man can also do, the focus in this
passage is not 'torment,' which is something man can do, rather
it must refer to something else that man cannot do. This "Eternal
Smoke" view holds that God kills the soul, makes it non-functional, in
a very painful way, and then in hell renders it to the spiritual equivalent
of smoke. This is more than any man can do, and more than just killing
Can a non-functional non-feeling person be "punished"?
Consider this text from Isaiah. For the moment, as an experiment, read
it just for what it says, what it describes. After reading it ask yourself:
does this describe a punishment of any kind?
"22 'For just as the new heavens and
the new earth which I make will endure before me,' declares the LORD, 'So
your offspring and your name will endure. 23
And it shall be from new moon to new moon and from sabbath to sabbath,
all mankind will come to bow down before Me,' says the LORD. 24
'Then they shall go forth and look on the corpses of the men who have transgressed
against Me. For their worm shall not die, and their fire shall not be quenched;
and they shall be an abhorrence to all mankind.'" Isaiah 66:22-24
Is there a punishment here? If so, search for words describing the response
from the person, evidence that the victim is experiencing the punishment.
. . . There is none. There is an everlasting punishment here but no one
consciously experiences it.
One may wonder if a non-feeling, non-functional body is beaten, how
can it be said to be a punishment? Can you punish a rock or piece of wood?
Is it not commonly understood that a punishment must be experienced, felt?
If that is so, then Isaiah does not mention any punishment at all because
corpses feel no pain.
Three things are here shown to be eternal: (1) Life for the righteous,
fire and (3) maggots for the wicked. The wicked are described only
as corpses with no hint of functionality. There is no suffering in
view either for the body or the soul/spirit. If suffering were a significant
part of the punishment for the wicked why are there no words describing
it? It would be reasonable to assume that the corpses were brought to that
state by a painful process but that is not directly stated. Any experience
of pain does not seem to be an important part of the message. These corpses
are observed while in the process of being burned and eaten by maggots.
If this is the eternal state, with this image frozen in time, then the
wicked remain unmoving, nonfunctioning corpses for all eternity. However,
if we follow a natural assumption, that both the fire and the maggot are
consuming forces, we could conclude that the corpses will eventually be
consumed even though the fire will never be quenched and the maggot will
Now note that in Mark 9 Jesus quotes the above reference in Isaiah:
"And if your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for
you to enter life crippled, than having your two hands, to go into hell,
into the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut
it off; it is better for you to enter life lame, than having your two feet,
to be cast into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, cast it out;
it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than having
two eyes, to be cast into hell, where their worm
does not die, and the fire is not quenched." Mark 9:43-48
Did Jesus mean for the audience to take this as a punishment? In quoting
Isaiah, Jesus does not add any new imagery as to the final destiny of the
wicked, there is no mention of any suffering. If this is punishment, then
it is a punishment where pain is no where indicated but can only be assumed
as part of preceding events. The maggot and the fire are eternal but no
mention of anything else. From a knowledge of natural physical science
we might have expected that for a fire to be eternal the fuel must also
be eternal. But something supernatural is happening here. God can miraculously
sustain the fire eternally without the fuel being eternal.
But is not fire associated with pain instead of being
Note these verses where the primary attribute of fire is shown to be the
power to consume rather than to cause pain: James 5:3; Hebrews
12:29; Deuteronomy 4:24; 9:3; Isaiah 33:14.
The Greek word Katakaio in the Old Testament Septuagint
and the New Testament
In the opening verses of Isaiah (1:28,31) it says sinners shall be crushed
and come to their end and they shall be burned up and the fire will
not be quenched. This parallels the closing of the book in Isaiah 66:22-24.
In verse 31, in the Greek Septuagint (LXX, the Greek text used by Greek
speaking Jews and early Christians), we see the Greek word katakaio.
This same Greek word appears elsewhere:
Other occurrences of katakaio:
Isaiah 9:18,19 (LXX) The wicked are burned up and turned to smoke.
Exodus 3:2,3 (LXX) In this verse, Katakaio refers to what
did not happen to the bush. The bush was burned but was not burned
means more than just being burned,
it means being burned
Ezekiel 20:47,48 (LXX) Like trees, the wicked will be burned up, consumed
with fire that will not be quenched. The trees will be gone, while the
fire continues on.
Matthew 3:12 Jesus will separate the wheat (the righteous) from the chaff
(the wicked) and then burn up (katakaio) the chaff with unquenchable
fire. When chaff is burned, there is nothing left but smoke.
Matthew 13:30,40 the righteous will be separated from the wicked just
like wheat from tares (weeds). In the end times, the wicked will be burned
up (katakaio) just like tares.
Revelation 17:16; 18:8 Babylon the Great will be desolated, experience
pestilence, mourning, famine, her flesh eaten and the rest burned up
She will never be found again (Revelation 18:21). However, the smoke from
her is eternal (Revelation 19:3).
Old Testament animal sacrifices are burned up and consumed:
2 Kings 23:6,15 Pagan wooden altars were burned up (katakaio),
smashed to dust, demolished.
Hebrews 13:11 sacrifices are burned up (katakaio) outside the
Exodus 12:10 (LXX) whatever is not eaten is to be burned up (katakaio).
Exodus 29:14,34; Leviticus 4:11,12 (LXX) entire bull, flesh, hide and
refuse burned up (katakaio) outside the camp.
Leviticus 7:17 (verse 7-LXX); 19:6 whatever is leftover is to be burned
Numbers 19:5 (LXX) the entire animal, hide, flesh, blood and refuse is
burned up (katakaio).
. . . continuing with examining what else will happen to the wicked
. . .
Matthew 24:51 The wicked will weep, gnash their teeth and be cut into
Revelation 20:15; 21:8 The wicked will be thrown into the lake of
fire, the second death. Evidently the first death is a crushed body,
the second death is a crushed soul/spirit.
Indications of annihilation in the lake of fire:
Is there any Bible verse that says humans will suffer eternally?
Revelation 20:13,14 Death and hades are emptied and then thrown into
the lake of fire. They cease to function.
1 Corinthians 15:26 The last enemy, here said to be 'death', is ultimately
abolished, it ceases to function, ceases to exist. It is annihilated. This
verse does not say 'death' is the first enemy to be abolished
or the only enemy, it is said to be the last enemy. This
implies there must be other enemies abolished prior to 'death', and then
after they are made non-functional, the last enemy, 'death', is
finally thrown into the lake of fire. Compare 1 Corinthians
15:54,55; Hosea 13:14.
Can something that is unfeeling be tormented?
Matthew 8:12; Revelation 22:18 Humans are said to suffer but nothing
indicates their suffering is eternal.
Hebrews 10:27; Matthew 26:24 These verses imply a terrifying experience
after death, but does not say the experience is eternal.
Jude 1:7,13; Matthew 25:41,46 Both the righteous and the wicked enter
eternal places. The place of punishment and the fire therein are shown
to be eternal. But this does not necessarily imply that the mental
of the punishment must therefore also be eternal. We can know from other
references that the existence of the righteous includes eternal awareness
of the fate of the wicked (Isaiah 66:24) and eternal joy (Matthew
25:21,23; Isaiah 35:10). But the awareness
possessed by the wicked is never said to be eternal, not in Matthew 25:41,46
nor in places like Revelation 22:15 or Luke 13:28. To reason that since
the righteous are eternally aware and functional in their eternal home
that therefore the wicked also must be eternally aware and functional,
is just an assumption, the biblical text does not state that. These references,
taken by themselves, tell us nothing about the awareness or functionality
of the wicked. At most they only tell us about the eternality of the place
of punishment and that the righteous will be eternally aware of God's judgment.
Revelation 14:9,10 Those who worship the wild beast and his image during
the tribulation are tormented in the presence of the Lord. But according
to 2 Thessalonians 1:9 the same wicked persons are destroyed
from the presence of the Lord. Therefore the place of torment (in Revelation
14:9,10) is different from the place of destruction. Revelation 14:9,10
likely means the wicked are tormented in the presence of the Lord day and
night during the tribulation period. This ultimately results in their being
burned up and their smoke then ascending forever.
There are other examples of things being completely burned up yet their
fire and smoke is eternal:
Babylon the Great - Revelation 18:7-10,15-19; 19:3.
Wicked people - Isaiah 33:12
(katakaio - LXX) ,14;
5, 8-10 compare (Isaiah
The rebellious Israelites living in the city of Jerusalem - Jeremiah 17:27.
Revelation 20:10 The 'false prophet' and the 'wild beast' are tormented
forever. Are they human or could they be something else? If they are human,
are they turned into unfeeling corpses (or smoke) as implied by Isaiah
66:22-24 or are they forever conscious? Since they are said to be tormented,
does that necessarily mean they must be conscious of the torment and therefore
cannot be just corpses or smoke? Or is there a meaning of the Greek term
for 'torment' that allows for an unfeeling corpse to be tormented? Or in
other words . . .
Can a non-feeling rock or piece of wood be tormented? The original meaning
of the Greek word for torment' (basanos, basanizo, basanismos)
was to strike a rock with a touchstone to see if it was gold.
This word also appears in Matthew 14:24 where an unfeeling wooden boat
is 'tormented' or battered. So yes, a non-feeling rock or piece of wood
can be tormented, at least in the Greek usage of this word, without violating
the meaning and usage of the term. This implies that other unfeeling things
like corpses can be 'tormented.'
Can Hell be both dark and fiery causing suffering that
is both eternal and finite?
Scientists have developed theories about cosmic objects they call "black
holes." These are small but massive objects filled with light and heat.
However, because these objects are so massive, gravity prevents anything,
even light, from escaping. So to the observer, these objects appear to
be absolutely black. Further, it is believed that, relative to the outside,
the passage of time is slowed down to near zero. Persons thrown inside
would be surrounded by heat and then crushed, annihilated. But from the
outside this final event could not be observed. Instead the last painful
moments prior to their annihilation would appear to be stretched to eternity.
So from one viewpoint this painful and crushing process appears eternal,
from another, it is finite. This is not to suggest that 'black holes' are
indeed the Biblical hell, but if there are things in the physical universe
that can have these attributes, can there be something similar in the spiritual