Jesus appears from heaven with His angels. 2 Tes 1:8 in flaming fire, giving vengeance to those not knowing God, and to those not obeying the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ;
9 who will pay the penalty: eternal destruction from the face of the Lord and from the glory of his might,
The above verse is favored by supporters of annihilation to defend annihilation as punishment of God. God’s punishment is harsh because God is severe in perfection. Only Jesus can offer the opportunity to avoid this punishment. But if one does not take advantage of this opportunity, what is the sanction?
What does annihilation mean? The second death happens by fire. Is it a consuming / devouring fire, I can’t say. However, the person involved is annihilated completely and permanently. In the examples of Bible verses, the consuming fire burns and produces death in one moment.
There are different perceptions of annihilation. Some of the supporters of this doctrine think that the sentenced may first suffer their punishment and only then are they annihilated so that nothing remains.
Annihilation means destruction, total disappearance. Believers in annihilation say that the above verse 1:9 means precisely that; losing everything. Annihilation – judgment will lose their lives, they will not be left behind. Even their memories have vanished. As if they had never been.
Annihilation opponents say that annihilation is not a real punishment. Nothing compared to eternal torment in the lake of fire. Defenders say that it is a terrible punishment. When a judgment is pronounced, people are divided into two groups. Those who are granted eternal life rejoice. Those who receive the opposite judgment of destruction, are terrified and repent bitterly. Many who believe they are saved, would like all the unbelievers to get into eternal torment.
Jesus will act as the chief judge of all: There are only two kind of judgments. Mat 25:41 Then he [Christ] will say also to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels;
– Jesus himself confirms the punishment of eternal fire. Similarly, John in Revelation (20:10) confirms that “The devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet are also. They will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”
Matthew says in 25:46 ” These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life”. Both are equally eternal punishments, although eternal ‘pruning’ from God’s presence does not satisfy some people’s strong desire to see unbelievers being tortured.
The Greek word for punishment is in this here kolasis and verb kolazō G2849 as defined: 1. properly, to lop, prune, as trees, branches from trees.
Heb 10:29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will he be judged worthy of, who has trodden under foot the Son of God, and has counted the blood of the covenant with which he was sanctified an unholy thing, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?
Rev 20:12 I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and they opened books. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged out of the things which were written in the books, according to their works.
Rev 22:12 “Behold, I come quickly. My reward is with me, to repay to each man according to his work
Jesus brings wages with him, but who all get paid? At least it is clear that the saints of the first resurrection will be paid; they will rule with Christ for a thousand years (or for a long time if a thousand years is not an exact period). A large number of humanity dies and those who oppose the coming of Christ are destroyed. It does not mean, however, that they will not be in the last judgment after a thousand years. Their destruction is not a ‘payment of wages’.
… Or, Will All Be Saved After All?
Why would God’s punishment in the fiery lake be eternal?
There is another alternative: Both the fiery lake and the second death are both figurative expressions. Those who are not saved in the judgment of Christ and of the Saints after the Second Resurrection, they go into the figurative lake of fire where they are tormented and they have to confront all their sinful deeds. The purifying fire burns (consumes) off sins, after which they can join the great multitude of God’s children.
When one has to look at himself, “the deeds of the flesh,” and all the sins that are consumed in the fire, there is no doubt that man would not suffer pain, no matter how spiritual it would be.
Throughout history, the Church has taken advantage of the literal word of the Bible and frightened humanity with this literal truth. The Bible is full of metaphors and figurative expressions, but it is easier to understand the Bible literally. It has been said quite to the point that everything in the Bible is true, but not all is literally true.
Ordinary people, as well as learned theologians, do not always understand what is behind the metaphor or figurative expression.
Here is an example of a teaching in the Internet based on literal interpretation.
Gotquestions.org: Because God is completely righteous and morally perfect, He always does what is right—there is no “darkness” in God, not the smallest speck of imperfection. God Himself is the standard for what is right, good, and moral. If it were not for God being the standard of moral perfection, created beings would have nothing to measure themselves against. In other words, if God is perfectly righteous, then anything that falls short of said perfection is sinful, and every human being who has ever lived, since Adam’s fall from grace, has committed sin. Because Adam sinned, the entire human race now has a sinful nature. But people do not go to hell because of Adam’s sin; they go to hell because of their own sin, which they freely choose.
Since God is eternal, immutable, and infinite, and all sins are fundamentally against God, God has decreed the just punishment for sin must also be eternal..
God, therefore, has deemed all who commit sin will go to hell because they have failed to meet His righteous standard; they have broken His Law of moral perfection. If God did not send people to hell for breaking His laws, it could be said that God is not just..
However, the good news is that God is also merciful. In His rich mercy, He made a way for sinners to avoid the punishment of hell by trusting in the atoning work of His Son, Jesus Christ. For Christians, the penalty of sin has been removed and placed upon Christ on the cross. Because of the sacrifice of Christ, God is still just—the sin is punished—yet He is also merciful to all who believe.
If this should be explained in this way in the Bible, I would not resist. However, I do not accept the reasoning in this form. However, the son of God is the one who decides the judgments. Maybe he understands people’s disability and is merciful? Maybe God the Father himself discovered that in order to save mankind he must offer a way of salvation and it is in his son Jesus Christ. However, the Revelation tells us that people are hardened and stubborn. No hardship can cause a large number of people to turn to God. And the salvation would be just one word away!
Why would God torture people forever in the fiery lake? Since everything is possible for God, would he rather not want to burn off the sins and purify the men like those who have already received eternal life? God would not be a loving God if he would punish just for torture. I am confident that the purpose of punishment of God is to correct, purify and recover. Why did Jesus appear to Saul on the road to Damascus, spoke to him and blinded him for three days and made Saul totally change his way of thinking so that he became a keen Christian. Could God not do the same to others who have opposed him?
The Bible claims: [God] “who desires all people to be saved and come to full knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:4).
To desire θέλω thelō G 2309: to will, have in mind, intend
And Isaiah about God’s will 46:10 … My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure; 11 … I have spoken, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed, I will also do it.”
The above two Bible passages are perhaps familiar to many. People may have read them, but have they understood them to the end? All the time these have been known to me. Still, I have not broken free from the fiery lake as eternal punishment. After everything I’ve written, I stopped to think about these verses, and I really cannot understand why I have rejected the obvious truth: GOD WANTS ALL MEN TO BE SAVED. God is Almighty, it is in his power to save even all sinful mankind, his creation. God assures: “I will do all my pleasure”.
When Christ comes, most of humanity does not want to receive him. Although millions of people die in the Lord’s day, people do not repent their sins. When they are facing the last judgment, and God has forcibly cleansed them the same way as the greatest persecutor of Christianity, Saul, people will do the same as Saul – a total conversion. Then the prophecy of Isaiah will come to pass: Isa 45:24 … Only in Jehovah do I have righteousness and strength; to Him [God] he comes; and they are ashamed, all who are angry with Him.
New Interpretations of God’s Punishments
In the second part of this article, I will try to sum up my thoughts on the punishment of God in the Last Judgment and especially in relation to annihilation. I believe that some of my interpretations, which differ from those of the major churches, arouse readers’ thoughts for and against. How many births and how many deaths are reserved for a person? When our Bible speaks of the concepts of loss and destruction, what word did the Greek writer use and how was it translated into English, for example? What is a fiery lake? Humans who are like senseless animals are Biblical notions of people whose fate has been defined at the beginning of time. What kind of people are they? And what does “black darkness” mean? What kind of punishments is it? Is the punishment reserved for Angels different from that of men? Summary: Annihilation as God’s punishment.
One birth – two deaths
Or two births, but only one death?
Everyone is born once and dies at least once. In this update, I will investigate a situation where a person is not born the second time but dies twice. For a man not to die twice, he must be born twice; His second birth is the rebirth in faith – the saving power of Jesus Christ. Then you do not have to fear the second death; already at rebirth, man receives the gift of eternal life – the same eternal life that Jesus received from his Father.
Here I will try to further clarify my thoughts on the eternal punishment of the last judgment. The Bible speaks of the eternal torment of the fiery lake as a punishment for those who have not repented and have not received Jesus as their Savior.
Same sin, two different punishments. 2 Peter 1:4 (ISV) speaks of “… his precious and wonderful promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, seeing that you have escaped the corruption that is in the world caused by evil desires.” Those who satisfy their flesh by indulging in its passions and who despise authority will go to corruption i.e. perish, are destroyed.
“Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, who, like them, practiced fornication and went astray with unnatural lusts of flesh, are a warning example of suffering the punishment of eternal fire (Jude 1:7). So the debauchees of Sodom and Gomorrah end up in the fiery lake forever. – It doesn’t seem logical. Perhaps the fault lies in the interpretation, and in the concept of the lake of fire.
Mat 5:29 “So if your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into hell.” Jesus spoke of hell but did not mean any fiery lake as in Revelation, but, as all Jews generally knew, the waste dump south of Jerusalem, the Valley of Hinnom, where fire was constantly burned. The fiery lake and hell have become synonymous, and even the Gospel of Matthew, for example, uses the Greek word γέεννα géenna (gehenna).
Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans 6:23 “For the wages [consequence] of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Death as a result of sin specifically means the second death.
Those who are not born again in their lives will not receive the gift of eternal life. According to the Bible, there are two deaths. When the final judgment is given, those resurrected dead who will not be saved will face the second death, which is their punishment. The second death is indeed death. Instead, punishments like the fiery lake are metaphors. Other figures of speech include black darkness, deep darkness, etc. For two millennia, the great problem for me and other Bible readers and scholars has been that we have not been able to distinguish the literal announcement of the Bible from the countless figures of speech and figurative expression of the Bible. This is particularly the case with the descriptions of the last judgment. What is common to judgments is that those who receive the judgment are destroyed (perished).
When God was about to create man, He said: Genesis 1:26 “Let us make man our image…” – So we are God’s image. As we read the Bible, God reveals human qualities. What image does the Bible draw of God? On the Old Testament side, the image of God is often tinged with vengeance. “I will avenge …” is repeated many times. For example Micah 5:15 And I will execute vengeance in anger and in fury upon the nations, such as they have not heard of (”nations which have not obeyed”). However, God can change his mind and repent: God says in Jer 18:8 “if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do to them.”
In addition, God says he wants everyone to be saved. God also makes people (“vessels”) for different uses. Maybe God doesn’t care if these bad vessels are destroyed at the final judgment. God has given all power to Christ, and he is the one who gives the judgments after the second resurrection. Can we draw conclusions from Christ’s line of judgment based on what he made to the greatest enemy of Christianity, Pharisee Saul – forcing him to be a faithful servant of God to preach to the nations of God’s kingdom.
Let’s look more closely at some Bible verses:
2 Pet 2:12
2:12 ”These people, like irrational animals, are mere creatures of instinct that are born to be caught and killed. They insult what they don’t understand, and like animals they, too, will be destroyed,”
In this 2 Peter 2 man is compared to a wild animal. What has man done to be treated like a wild animal?
2:1-3 Now there were false prophets among the people, just as there also will be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies and even deny the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their immoral [destructive] ways, and as a result, the way of the truth will be blasphemed. 3 In their greed they will exploit you with deceptive words. The ancient verdict against them is still in force, and their destruction (apōleia) is not asleep.
So the condemnation of such people is total destruction, to perish. Strong’s defines Hebrew and Greek descriptive words as follows: gâvaʻ, H 1478 a primitive root; to breathe out, i.e. (by implication) expire:—die, be dead, give up the ghost, perish. So perish means complete destruction, end of life. An example of perish, (be destroyed) by the Flood: Gen 6:17 “Behold, I, even I am bringing the flood of water upon the earth, to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life, from under heaven; everything that is on the earth shall peris h.”
Greek word for destruction is ἀπόλλυμι apóllymi, Strong’s: from G575 and the base of G3639; to destroy fully (reflexively, to perish, or lose), literally or figuratively:—destroy, die, lose, mar, perish.
Even in English, the words perish, destroy, cast into outer Darkness are used to mean the same thing. Luk 13:3 I tell you, no, but, unless you repent, you will all perish in the same way.
Joh 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believes on him may not perish, but have eternal life. – By believing in the Son of God you will receive the gift of eternal life and the believer will not have to be destroyed (in the figurative lake of fire of the last judgment).
Destruction is quick, but its effect is eternal.
From the following Bible verse we can conclude that destruction is quick and complete: Gen 6:17 For I, behold, I bring a flood of waters on the earth, to destroy all flesh under the heavens in which is the breath of life: everything that is on the earth shall expire. – The deluge described in the Bible happened quickly and all living things were destroyed. Wouldn’t the last judgment be enforced quickly in the same way?
2 Cor 2:15 For we are a sweet aroma of Christ to God, in those who are saved, and in those who perish;
2:16 To some people we are a deadly fragrance, while to others we are a living fragrance. Who is qualified for this?
The fire of God. I understand that destruction will happen quickly and not in the long term. To carry out the final judgment, God shall investigate all human actions. This fire of God is either purifying fire or consuming fire; if sins (evil deeds) weigh too much and man has not been forgiven, man should be consumed. What does one have to consider when considering a judgment? Peter writes:1 Pet 4:8 “Above all, continue to love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.”
In the Last Judgment, therefore, we meet all the resurrected humanity, examined and divided to the right and left of Christ. Mat 25:33 “He will set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.”
It is understandable that those sentenced to damnation will respond to the sentence as Luke writes: 13:28 “There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets, in the Kingdom of God, and yourselves being thrown outside.” And finally: Mat 25:46 “These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
– The convicted will cry and gnash their teeth. Verse 46 says that after the judgment they will go away to eternal punishment, to the destruction that is eternal and final. Mankind has literally understood the word of the Bible, and the most colorful descriptions of the suffering of hell fire have been produced and used to intimidate people. Of course, these descriptions have also been used by the church to keep people under control.
What is the lake of fire?
The punishment of the fiery lake is found in only four verses of Revelation: 20:15 “And whosoever was not written in the book of life was cast into the fiery lake” including Satan and his helpers the Antichrist and the False prophet.
Also, the figurative expressions death and Hades (the grave) have to go there. Death is no longer in the future New World, and as a result, the grave of mankind (Hades) is removed as unnecessary. Why should death and grave be tortured forever and ever? Wouldn’t it be better to just abolish them as unnecessary?
Rom 6:23 ” For the wages of sin (consequence) is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – The perpetrator receives the judgment, but not the sin itself. When the Bible says that the consequence of sin is death, it simply means that after the condemnation of mankind, sin no longer exists. Sin has been destroyed. Sin does not disappear by throwing death (the consequence) into the lake of fire. Sin disappears because the unrepentant sinners die the second death. The rest are those who will not die the second death, but Christ will give them the same as he himself received and the true believers will receive from the Father – eternal life as a child of God.
When one understands the part of death and Hades in the fiery lake, one understands the figurative significance of the fiery lake itself.
The eternal doom of fiery lake. The big question is the description in Revelation 20:10 of the torture of the fiery lake – “night and day, forever and ever” – a concrete punishment for all, or is it limited, for example, to angels who are eternal beings. It was also God’s purpose for man that we should be eternal just like the angels, but the high-ranking angel Lucifer (Satan) succeeded in seducing Adam and Eve and thus mankind became mortal. Satan tried the same thing with Jesus but failed. As a result, God was able to raise Christ from the dead and give him immortality again as the first of the new mankind.
Destruction i.e. end of life is the only option for those who have not had eternal life by believing in Christ’s salvation. Almost every human being who faces the “normal”, that is, the first death, must face either the salvation to eternal life in the kingdom of God, or the destruction – the loss of life, in the final judgment. I wrote ‘almost everyone’ because the exception is the Saints of the First Resurrection, who have ruled with Christ for a thousand years and are now judges with Christ for the people of the last Resurrection.
Ordinary people are mortal and can receive the gift of eternal life after the last judgment. Angels were originally created to be eternal beings. It has been suggested that when angels like Satan and his angels (one third of all angels) are condemned, their punishment is eternal suffering in the fiery lake. Revelation 20:10 says: And the devil who deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where are both the beast and the false prophet; and they shall be tormented day and night for the ages of ages. – Yes, if the description of the punishment is meant to be taken literally. I have interpreted the Beast and the Antichrist and the False prophet to be men, so the fiery lake punishment gets a large number of angels and humans.
At the end of Revelation 21:8, John sees God on his throne and God says, ”But for the cowardly, unbelieving, sinners, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their part is in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur, which is the second death.” – According to this translation, cowards too will end up in a fiery lake. Greek word 1169 : δειλός, which Strong’s translates into timid, fearful is right at least according to the three Bible examples where the word is used. However, Strong’s explanation is accompanied by an amendment, “i.e. (by implication) Faithless: —fearful, of Christians who through cowardice give way under persecutions and apostatize. – I could interpret this “scared as a result of lack of faith”. By no means can I consider the fearful old grandmother to be such a great sinner that she deserves the second death penalty, along with murderers, adulterers and idolaters.
Lake of fire is a figurative expression. Such a lake does not really exist. Instead, there is God’s consuming fire. In the last judgment God’s fire will investigate all our actions; if we have built our house [our faith] in Christ, the fire of God is purifying fire, and though it is painful for man, he himself shall not perish. For those who, when they are examined by the fire, are found to have denied Christ, the fire will be consuming fire. So what does consuming fire mean? The Bible gives an example: In Satan’s final attack on God’s people’s camp, “a fire (of God) fell from heaven and consumed” them. That is, they are destroyed.
According to Revelation 20:15 all those whose names are not written in the book of life shall be cast into the lake of fire. First, there are billions of names missing from the book of life. Most of the missing names are “ordinary” people (“cheap vessels”), who for many reasons, have simply not received Christ as their saviour. They are also to be studied by God as described above. Instead, those false Bible teachers who misrepresent the word of God and in their lust for money lead people to serve a false faith, are punished by black darkness or eternal destruction of complete unconsciousness. Both punishments must therefore be viewed as a figurative expression.
The Bible compares a man who does not have God’s spirit with a wild animal. Animals have no chance of resurrection; when the animal dies, it is permanently destroyed. So it can be said that animals are created to be destroyed.
According to the Bible, God has not only foretold the future of every human being; who will be saved in the kingdom of God and who will be destroyed. In fact, God has created people for different purposes. This right of God, the Creator, is expressed in the Bible in parables:
Rom 9:20-21 ”On the contrary, who are you—mere man that you are—to talk back to God? Can an object that was molded say to the one who molded it, Why did you make me like this? Or hasn’t the potter a right over the clay, from the same lump to make one part a vessel for honor, and another for dishonor?
2 Tim 2:20-21 “Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of clay. Some are for honor, and some for dishonor. If anyone therefore purges himself from these, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, and suitable for the master’s use, prepared for every good work.”
Most people remain in their role given by our creator, but in verse 21 Timothy reveals the possibility for man to make himself “a vessel for God’s use.”
In any case, God knows mankind and knows that most of mankind does not meet the conditions for salvation. We do not know or understand God’s plan for mankind even before the creation of the world. However, God has planned everything and also fulfills his plans. However, we know that people who are saved will have eternal life in the kingdom of God and will be God’s co-workers, whatever tasks God gives them.
Why do so many believe that those who are not saved will suffer in the fiery lake forever? Once God created them into such – cheap vessels – to perish like animals! If God Himself has created them as such, should he not at least make sure that his creation will have a painless death at the end? Such eternal suffering in a fiery hell for those to be destroyed is considered by many to be incomprehensible. How God, who the Bible declares to be Love itself, could be so cruel to its creatures, however imperfect they may be.
People who are like senseless animals
A man who is not born of the spirit is just like an animal. A person who does not believe in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ is like an animal – at least his fate after death is the same. His life simply ends. When Stephen died he prayerfully said: “Lord Jesus, receive my Spirit!” (Act 7:59). Animals have no chance of doing so. Their lives just stop working.
Peter clearly proves that such people are like wild animals. God has made them to die like animals. When they die they simply cease to live. 2 Pet 2:12 NKJV: But these, like natural brute beasts made to be caught and destroyed, speak evil of the things they do not understand, and will utterly perish in their own corruption,
2 Piet 2:10 ”especially those who satisfy their flesh by indulging in its passions and who despise authority. Being bold and arrogant, they are not afraid to slander glorious beings.
11 whereas angels, though greater in might and power, don’t bring a railing judgment against them before the Lord.
12 These people, like irrational animals, are mere creatures of instinct that are born to be caught and killed. They insult what they don’t understand, and like animals they, too, will be destroyed,
13 suffering wrong as punishment for their wrongdoing. They take pleasure in wild parties in broad daylight. They are stains and blemishes, reveling in their deceitful pleasures [in their love feasts] while they eat with you.
14 With eyes full of adultery, they cannot get enough of sin. They seduce unsteady souls and have had their hearts expertly trained in greed. They are doomed to a curse.
According to biblical testimony, a man who is not born again is like an animal and is destroyed like an animal. Such a person dies twice. The second death means the transition to the darkness reserved for these people forever. The hallmarks of the end time are the unbridled life of mankind as the world goes on. This is illustrated by e.g. Eph 2:2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the powers of the air [Satan], the spirit who now works in the children of disobedience; Tit 3:3 After all, we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, and misled. We were slaves to many kinds of lusts and pleasures, spending our days in malice and jealousy. We were despised, and we hated one another. From this we can also read about in Jude 1:10-13:
Jude 1:10 But these speak evil of whatever things they don’t know. What they understand naturally, like the creatures without reason, in these things are they destroyed.
11 Woe to them! For they went in the way of Cain, and ran riotously in the error of Balaam for hire, and perished in Korah’s rebellion.
12 These are hidden rocky reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you, shepherds who without fear feed themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn leaves without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots;
13 wild waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the blackness of darkness has been reserved forever.
14 About these also Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with ten thousands of his holy ones,
15 to execute judgment on all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their works of ungodliness which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”
16 These people are complainers and faultfinders, following their own desires. Their mouths speak arrogant things, and they flatter people in order to take advantage of them.
Jude 1:4 For there are certain men who crept in secretly, even those who were long ago written about for this condemnation: ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying our only Master, God, and Lord, Jesus Christ.
The Greek word to describe the verb corrupt or destroy is φθείρω phtheirō: properly, τόν ναόν τοῦ Θεοῦ (in the opinion of the Jews the temple was corrupted, or ‘destroyed’, when anyone defiled or in the slightest degree damaged anything in it, or if its guardians neglected their duties.)
1 Cor 3:17 KJV “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” – For the Jews, the Lord’s temple could be corrupted (‘destroyed’) by even a small amount of damage. However, Jude with the temple means a person who is corrupted by false doctrines. Those who spread such doctrines, and especially those who do it for financial gain, are twice dead. Their sentence is to experience the second death. Verse Jude:13 states that the deepest darkness is reserved for them for ever; “Look! The Lord has come with countless thousands of his holy ones. to execute judgment on all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their works of ungodliness which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” (v. 14-15). When Jude declares from the forthcoming judgment that they are twice dead, it means that they are destroyed in the same way as brute animals die; when animals die, they simply cease to exist.
Other references: Tit 1:16 They claim to know God, but they deny him by their actions. They are detestable, disobedient, and disqualified to do anything good.
2 Pet 2:1 Now there were false prophets among the people, just as there also will be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies and even deny the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction on themselves.
2 Pet 2:3 In their greed they will exploit you with deceptive words. The ancient verdict against them is still in force, and their destruction is not asleep.
2 Pet 2:19 promising them liberty, while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a man is subdued, by him is he also brought into slavery.
Satan, too, was shackled to wait Rev 20:3 ”He threw him into the bottomless pit, locked it, and sealed it over him to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were over. After that he must be set free for a little while.” – Satan has to wait for his final judgment. Why is Satan not destroyed now that he has been captured? Why is he released again to mislead humanity?
1 Pet 2:8-9 “and a stone of stumbling and rock of offence; who stumble at the word, being disobedient to which also they have been appointed. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may show forth the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” – The letters of Peter and Jude show how the fate of these destructive people was predicted in ancient times. They experience two deaths, and the second death is “total black darkness,” which I interpret as meaning the complete extinction of consciousness forever. It means the end of life without hope of a new resurrection. No eternal torture in the fire of hell.
2 Pet 2:17 These are wells without water, clouds driven by a storm; for whom the blackness of darkness has been reserved forever.
Jude 1:13 confirms the punishment: “They are wild waves of the sea, churning up the foam of their own shame. They are wandering stars for whom the deepest darkness has been reserved forever.” Other translations of the Bible say the same thing in slightly different words: the blackness of darkness, the gloom of darkness. The point in various Bible versions is not to distinguish between the different meanings of the words, but to make your own translation slightly different.
Jude 1:4 ”For there are certain men who crept in secretly, even those who were long ago written about for this condemnation: ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying our only Master, God, and Lord, Jesus Christ.” – Again, this verse points out that, long ago, God saw the future and said that such judgment would come to use; the black darkness forever. Someone may think that these doomed will wander forever without seeing anything in the dark … This is not the issue, but that they will perish and be forever in complete unconsciousness. 2 Pet 2:9 ” the Lord knows how to rescue godly people from their trials and to hold unrighteous people for punishment on the day of judgment.” – Is the judgment day (G2250 ἡμέρα hēmera) a normal 24 hour day, or maybe a longer time, I can’t say. Maybe it doesn’t matter.
What does black darkness mean?
The Bible speaks of ”black darkness”, ”mist of darkness” or ” pits of darkness” which mean eternal punishment – What does this mean in more detail? Who is it for? Many perceive this penalty as the eternal torment of the fiery lake. My own interpretation is not this but a surprisingly ordinary punishment.
Perhaps this black darkness could be translated ‘total unconsciousness’ (‘eternal blackout’).
Ecc 9:10 describes the dead in Sheol which means the grave: ”Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in Sheol, where you are going.” Job in turn says: 17:13 ”If I wait, Sheol is my house; I spread my bed in the darkness” – In the state of death, man does not feel or know anything. When a condemned person experiences the second death, it is reminiscent of the time in hell described by the Ecclesiastes, but with the difference that ‘black darkness’ is final, whereas after the first death there is resurrection.
I interpret black darkness and its various versions as meaning complete unconsciousness. It means the end of conscious life. That person no longer exists. His body doesn’t exist. His life is gone. Maybe someone has a pale and volatile memory of himself until even that is gone. How have I come to that conclusion? The following verses in Jude tell of people who are compared to brute animals. Animals die, but nothing is left of them, neither spirit nor soul. Humans who die like an animal die and disappear completely. This is what black darkness means.
The people described in these verses are some of the cheapest ‘vessels, we don’t even understand the purpose of. All we know is that God has created them, and it is right to condemn them forever to the deepest darkness. The second death means the end of life for them just like for the animals.
“Long ago” it was God’s plan for some people to reject Christ and receive their judgments. – What is the judgment of these people? It is “total black Darkness,” as Peter described – destruction.
Matthew Henry in his Bible commentary: “As for the blackness of darkness for ever, I shall only say that this terrible expression, with all the horror it imports, belongs to false teachers, truly, not slanderously so called, who corrupt the word of God, and betray the souls of men. If this will not make both ministers and people cautious, I know not what will.”
2 Peter 2:17-19 describes the darkness: 2:17 These are wells without water, clouds driven by a storm; for whom the blackness of darkness has been reserved forever.
18 By talking high-sounding nonsense and using sinful cravings of the flesh, they entice people who have just escaped from those who live in error.
19 promising them liberty, while they themselves are bondservants of corruption; for by whom a man is overcome, by the same is he also brought into bondage.”
Job 38:17 Have the gates of death been revealed unto thee? and hast thou seen the gates of the shadow of death?
Jude 1:6-7 “And angels who had not kept their own original state, but had abandoned their own dwelling, he keeps in eternal chains under gloomy darkness, to the judgment of the great day; Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them, having, in the same way as these, given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the punishment of eternal fire.”
The punishment reserved for angels
It has been suggested, based on Jude, that fallen angels receive the most severe punishment for their disobedience, the eternal torment in the fiery lake because they were created as eternal beings. Jude 1:6 reveals that these angels have been placed in the darkness for preservation. This state of darkness is not yet the real punishment for them. As a condition, it is very similar to the punishment of total ignorance for humans. Jude 1:6 ”And angels who had not kept their own original state, but had abandoned their own dwelling, he keeps in eternal chains under gloomy darkness, to the judgment of the great day;” – Even now, these disobedient angels are in shackles in the dark waiting for the judgment to be executed on the last day.
The following verse compares the fate of the angels with that of the inhabitants of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. These inhabitants practiced ‘unnatural lusts of flesh’ and as a punishment they are thrown into the eternal fire. 1:7 ”Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them, having, in the same way as these, given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the punishment of eternal fire.”
Would that be the case? One would imagine that all people who practice such pervert sex life, following their lusts (see Jude), would receive the same punishment regardless of the time. I have just dealt with the punishment of eternal deep darkness, which I interpreted as a complete lack of awareness.
Summary: Annihilation as God’s punishment.
Mat 25:41 “Then he [Christ] will say to those on his left, ‘Get away from me, you who are accursed, into the eternal fire that has been prepared for the devil and his angels! – The final judgment divides people into two parts; those who will be saved on the right side of Christ and those condemned to his left side. What can we conclude from this? For each person it has been determined whether he belongs to the ‘sheep’ or the ‘goats’. It is God’s fire that determines for each person whether he will be saved or not. The saved will receive a fire-cleansing treatment; fire examines (1 Corinthians 3:13 “tests”) all human deeds. If the fire declares that man has not built his ‘house’ (faith) in any way upon Christ and his deeds are evil, he should be consumed.
But, can God’s fire consume a man before Christ has defined which group this person belongs to? Another problem: there are probably a large number of those identified as ‘goats’. If the fire, when they are tested, finds them to be goats, does the fire stop the consuming so that the person can be condemned and sent to the lake of fire? The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 3:13, “each man’s work will be revealed. For the Day will declare it, because it is revealed in fire; and the fire itself will test what sort of work each man’s work is.”
In the article of this chapter about the fire of God I have been thinking this way: “Could this fire also be the same fire that burns in the fiery lake; some would escape it by being saved into the kingdom of God. After all, the fiery lake trial is a figure of speech in which man sees his own sins and his evil deeds and has to go through them before he is purified. Others would have to stay ‘in the lake’ longer before they could get away – or be destroyed if it were Christ’s judgment. Does it happen quickly – perhaps in a day – or does the sentence take longer? The purification might take a longer time for some individuals than others. Perhaps the fiery trial is so effective that even the worst cases can be passed through quickly, who knows?
All the same, apparently some are so bad sinners that fire does not cleanse them. Thus, these remnants are placed on the left side of Christ, who sends them (back?) into the “fiery lake” for final destruction.
When the fiery lake is not a real lake, and the fire is no ordinary fire, the question is whether the fiery lake is the same as the “dark black eternal darkness” but with fire purifying or consuming? And also, why does Jesus Christ emphasize the condemnation of those who have been condemned for falling into a lake of fire? When all is possible for God and Christ, could not those who could be converted with the same compulsion as Paul? He was, in his own opinion, the greatest enemy and persecutor of Christendom.
What is God’s plan for his vessels of mankind for “cheap use”? If these people turn out to be worthy of positive judgment, has God not foreseen and even planned to do so? When such vessels break into pieces, the pieces are merely swept away and thrown into the waste dump, rather than being effortlessly assembled and glued together, making the vessel usable again.
Rom 9:21 ”Or has not the potter [God] authority over the clay, out of the same lump to make one vessel to honour, and another to dishonour? 2 Tim 2:20 “Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of clay. Some are for honor, and some for dishonor.” – Of course, it is understandable that not all people can become apostles or prophets of the Lord during their earthly lives. When we do not know the details of God’s plan and how to carry it out, we can only rely on the good will and love of God and Christ for his creations.
Luk 2:14 “Glory to God in the highest, On earth peace, good will toward men.”
Universalism was a popular concept in the early days of Christianity. In the book on Universalism in the First Five Centuries, Origen says: ”Our God is a ‘consuming fire’ in the sense in which we have taken the word; and thus he enters in as a ‘refiner’s fire’ to refine the rational nature, which has been filled with the lead of wickedness, and to free it from the other impure materials which adulterate the natural gold or silver, so to speak, of the soul.
At least it can be said that Bible readers’ and scholars’ views on God’s punishment have fluctuated from one side to the other. From Universalism, whereby all will ultimately be saved to the other extreme, whereby God will punish the unrepentant sinners by throwing them forever into the fiery hell. The latter model was strongly popular in the Middle Ages, but even today, many believers want God to be harsh on sinners, and when they themselves feel saved, they can see the sinners being tortured in the fire of hell.
My opinion is this: God wants everyone to be saved, and God’s purifying fire makes many worthy of God’s kingdom. However, some people are so bad that God destroys them so profoundly that they leave no trace. For the latter, God’s solution is annihilation (total black darkness), that is, the complete destruction of sinners.