The Lake of Fire in the Book of Revelation: Eternal Torment, not Annihilation or “Soul-Sleep”

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The Lake of Fire in the Book of Revelation: Eternal Torment, not Annihilation or “Soul-Sleep”

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The Lake of Fire in the Book of Revelation:

Eternal Torment, not Annihilation or “Soul-Sleep”

There are many passages of Scripture that are clear that annihilationism, as taught by the Watchtower Society, Seventh-Day Adventism, and other cults, is false.  The Bible clearly teaches the eternal torment of the wicked.  For a general overview of the Biblical teaching on this doctrine, please read Prepare for Judgment and examine the resources here.  In the study below the teaching of the last Word from God to mankind, the book of Revelation, will be examined.

Consider the following texts in the book of Revelation:

10 The 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:  11 And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. . . . 20 And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.  21 And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.  20:1   And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.  2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, 3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.  4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.  5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.  6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.  7 And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,  8 And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.  9 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.  10 And 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. 11   And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.  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.  15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. . . . 8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. (Revelation 14:10-11; 19:20-20:15; 21:8)

            Revelation 19:20 indicates that the Antichrist and the False Prophet, the leaders of the one-world political and religious system in the future Tribulation period, will be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone at the end of that seven year period when the Lord Jesus Christ returns to set up His kingdom.  They remain there for a thousand years while the rest of the unsaved dead remain in Hades (20:14-15).  Christ rules over the earth in His Millenial kingdom (20:4-6), and then at the end of that time the final rebellion takes place, Satan being loosed from the bottomless pit where he had been placed for that time (20:7-9) but certainly not annihilated.[1]  Satan and the wicked who join him lose the battle, and at that time “the devil that deceived [the wicked] 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.”  Note that the beast and the false prophet are still in the lake of fire after being put in there a thousand years earlier, and from that time forth they “shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.”  The plural verb “shall be tormented” makes it impossible to restrict the reference of 20:10 to the devil alone—clearly, the human political and religious leaders of the one-world system of the Tribulation still exist after being in the lake of fire for a thousand years, and will continue to exist there “for ever and ever,” being “tormented day and night,” being “tormented with fire and brimstone” where “the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night” (14:10-11).  Scripture then asserts that the unsaved dead, those who missed the resurrection to life (20:4-5), will rise for their judgment out of Hades (20:13-14).  They will have their works reviewed and will all be condemned because they all sinned and fell far short of the sinless perfection demanded by God and given freely to all believers as they are justified through faith alone based on the blood and imputed righteousness of Christ (Romans 3:23-28; Matthew 5:48; Hebrews 10:14).  After their judgment they are cast into the same lake of fire where the Antichrist, false prophet, and devil are (20:14-15; 21:8), and all together the devil and the children of the devil, those who were never adopted into God’s family by faith in Christ (John 1:12; 8:44), “shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death . . . [and] 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: and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night.”

The book of Revelation gives a very clear description of things to come.  Its prophecies will be fulfilled as literally as the prophecies of Christ’s first coming and other already fulfilled prophecies.  The book very clearly reveals that the unsaved dead will be tormented with fire and brimstone for ever and ever and have no rest day or night.  While annihilationist cults like to affirm that “for ever and ever” does not denote literal eternity, all sixty-two times the Greek phrase for “for ever” appears in the New Testament (eis + aion), literal eternity is in view (note the study here).  What is more, Revelation makes very clear that the lake of fire is not a place of annihilation, for those cast into it a thousand years earlier are still there at the end of that time, “and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.”  Were annihilationism true, the passage above would not be a revelation of truth from God, but a deception from the father of lies, or at least something impossible to understand.  Scripture clearly teaches the sobering truth that those who do not come to Christ will suffer the second death and be tormented for ever and ever in the lake of fire as the just punishment for their infinite crimes against God.  If you have never been born again, consider that God has given man His Word so that “ye may know that ye have eternal life” (1 John 5:13).  Click here to find out how you can be sure of eternal life, saved from your sin, and come into fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ, instead of being sure to suffer eternally in the lake of fire for your sins.

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[1]              Scripture is clear that the bottomless pit is by no means a place where any created being is annihilated:

9:1 And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit.

9:2 And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit.

9:11 And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon.

11:7 And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.

17:8 The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.

20:1 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.

20:3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.

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About the Author:

Thomas Ross