Part 6 – “Eternal Destruction” Is Not “Eternal Torment”?

This Article is part of a multi-part Study Series called Life, Death, and Eternal Life.

Religious tradition uses many words and phrases that are not found in the Bible in make the case for the false doctrine of eternal torment. Among those words or phrases are these; immortal soul, immortal spirit, disembodied soul, eternal soul, eternal conscious torment, eternal conscious punishment, eternal separation from God, purgatory, and limbo. Religion uses these words to erroneously imply continuing conscious life of the body and/or the soul after death… in heaven or in hell. The ideas and these words imply represent religious tradition acquired from ancient pagan cultures, which found nowhere in the Bible, but nevertheless passed on as tradition.

The Bible does refer to man’s dying and going to “the grave.” Later, for some, there is a “2nd death” (Rev. 20:14, 21:8). The 1st death comes when a man’s “spirit” leaves his “body” (cf. James 2:26), causing all brain function and consciousness of the soul s mind to cease.

David wrote: His breath (spirit) goeth forth (man’s spirit leaves), he (body) returneth to his earth (as dust); in that very day his (soul’s) thoughts perish.” (Psalm 146:4)

In “the grave,” be it a tomb, crypt, or the sea, man’s “body” decays and his “soul” function ceases as if it were “asleep.” In “the grave” there is only “sleep,” The is no NO torment for anyone, in body or in soul, while in “the grave,” be they a good or wicked person. ALL those “the grave” only “sleep” after the 1st death, until their resurrection to judgment and their ultimate destiny.

Yet, religious tradition doesn’t acknowledge the “eternal destruction” of the 2nd death as seen in the Bible.

(The Lost) Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord…” (2 Thes. 1:9).

Jesus here refers to the “Hell” fire of “Gehenna” that is able to utterly destroy both soul and body.”

“And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy (Gk. apollymi, utterly destroy) both soul and body in hell (Gk. Gehenna). (Matthew 10:28) 

The human life of all persons is ultimately followed the 1st death, which is death to both body and soul, as it occurs by with loss of the human “spirit of man” in death. In death, the “spirit in man” has “returneth to God who gave it” (Eccl. 12:7). In “the grave” (Greek, hades) there is a total absence of consciousness of any kind. “The grave” (Greek, hades) is not to be confused with the “hell fire” of “Gehenna” (Matt. 18:9). The temporary “sleep” of the 1st death can be likened to “sleeping” overnight, or like the total unconsciousness of anesthesia used in major surgery, to be followed by a re-awakening.

“Consider and hear me, O LORD my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death” (Psalm 13:3)

 “So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep.” (Job 14:12)

“As for me (King David), I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.” (Psalm 17:15)

Consider now the only two ultimate alternatives that Jesus presents in this most popular verse.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not Perish (Gk. apolummi, be Utterly Destroyed), but have Everlasting Life (the life of the “only begotten Son”).” (John 3:16)

We must ask exactly who or what part(s) of man will “perish” if one dies in unbelief. Solomon wrote that upon man’s dying;

“Then shall the dust (of the BODY) return to the earth as it was: and the SPIRIT shall return unto God who gave it.” (Ecclesiastes 12:7)

Here we see the destiny of the body and spirit at death, but nothing is said of the soul.” Why is that? Recall that the breath (spirit)” of God in Adam was key to kindling life in man, making man a “living soul.” Thus, it is the living soul,” (that is the whole human being) that will totally perish if he has not trusted Christ as Savior before death.

Note here below that the dead cannot see or communicate with the living, and they don’t know what the living are doing. In death their thoughts, as a “living soul” function, have totally ceased.

“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. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion (part) forever in anything that is done under the sun.”

“There is no work, nor device (reason), nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.” (Eccl. 9:5-6, 10)

“So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their ‘sleep.’ 21His sons come to honour, and he knoweth it NOT; and they are brought low, but he perceiveth it NOT of them.” (Job 14:12, 21)

The verses above speak of the state of men in dying the 1st death, whereby one then sleeps” in “the grave,” waiting to reawaken in the resurrection. The unbelieving lost, will awaken to judgment resulting then in “the 2nd death.” There is absolutely No Credible Biblical proof to say “the lost” unbelievers who die the second death” (Rev 20:6, 21:8) in the “Hell fire” of “Gehenna” … and then… Live On In Torment After Death.

As we’ve seen, according to John 3:16, it is the “whosoever,” the person of “living soul” that does not believe, who will “perish (Gk. apollymi, be utterly destroyed).” The “whosoever” refers to the very person that will be destroyed fully if he has not in his lifetime received Christ’s eternal “Spirit of life.” The lost soul-person will be totally destroyed simply by virtue of the loss of his “spirit (that) returneth to the Lord who gave it,” then to be followed by his dead body going to “the lake of fire” as the incinerator of the dead carcasses of all “the lost.”

“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 21:8)

According to John 3:16 it is the whosoever” that does not believe that will “perish.” The whosoever” refers to the very person himself, the living person of the individual soul.” Every non-believing person will ultimately be eternally destroyed, fully… if he has not in his lifetime received Christ’s eternal Spirit of life” by a choice of faith.

Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction (be eternally destroyed) from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;” (2 Thessalonians 1:9)

After the final judgment at “The Great White Throne” (Rev 20:11), the lost” will suffer the eternal loss of their individual person as a “living soul.” The 1st death came when “the breath (spirit)” left the one who died. The “breath” (the spirit) that enabled the resurrected body that stand at the judgment (cf. Rev. 20:12) will then leave him a second time, resulting in “the 2nd death” (Rev. 20:6) then to be “cast into the lake of fire.”

So, what part or parts of the unbelieving man will be ultimately and finally destroyed and how?

In the end, the resurrected bodies of all the unbelieving dead who will stand to appear at the Great White Throne judgment will be eternally dis-integrated in the “Hell-fire” (cf. Matt 18:9) called “the lake of fire.” This is the 2nd death (Rev 2:11, Rev 20:6, 14) at which time “the spirit returneth to God who gave it.” After all, the “spirit (breath)” of God will not go into “hell.” The loss of “the spirit of man” leaves the body dead (cf. James 2:26), and thereby the “soul” is simultaneously extinguished.

“Hell” in the Greek is Gehenna,” referring to a valley called “Gehinnon,” which was the literal trash dump outside ancient Jerusalem, where the remains of inedible animal parts and trash were burned to ashes. There the functioning of the lost “bodies” will cease to live and their “souls” will have totally ceased to be, never to exist again.

The eternally dead will never see or communicate with the living, and they will not know what the living are doing. Thus, more than a man’s body is destroyed in “the lake of fire.” The lost man loses his God-given “breath (spirit)” of life and he is totally dead before he is cast into “the lake of fire” and consumed by “Hell Fire.” That man’s “living soul” then no longer exists. The only remnant of man, his dead body, briefly remains to be consumed in “the lake of fire.” There will be no living souls(no persons) in “the lake of fire” to suffer flames or any kind of eternal torment.

I personally find it satisfying that no unbelieving loved one of this life will suffer eternally. I find that eternal death is an adequate and just reward for those who have rejected the free gift of God’s love and salvation during their lifetime. They rejected the redemption and “eternal life” that is found only “in Christ.” I also find it righteous of God to not formulate some way to eternally punish “the lost.” God would gain nothing from eternal torment of lost souls. There is no recovery of the lost from the eternal death reward… of their own choosing. They will have received exactly what they preferred during their lifetime – choosing to not believe or be one with the living Lord. Their Self-idolatry will have its just reward.

All mankind has a free-will choice to make, similar to that of “the children of Israel.” I (the Lord) have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life (Deut. 30:19). Part of being “created in the image of God” is that we have free-will to make critical choices. All humans are individual free-will persons, called “living souls,” who are therefore responsible for their one great eternal ‘choice’ – to believe or not to believe to receive Jesus Christ as their Savior… to save them from the 2nd death.