The Lake of Fire: Literal Truth or Symbolic Expression?

If the Bible’s story of throwing Death and Hades into the fiery lake is a figurative expression, is the fiery lake a figurative expression also in other passages of the Bible? Is it possible that it is a realistic description in some cases and figurative in others? If so, how could we know which one it is at any given time? When we look at who in the Bible says to be thrown into the lake of fire, we can draw conclusions.

The Antichrist who is also called the Beast, is one of the most significant characters who will be misleading the entire world.  Likewise his working pair, the False Prophet. 19th chapter of Revelation describes the ultimate battle between the forces of Christ and Antichrist. Rev 19:6 I heard something like the voice of a great multitude, and like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of mighty thunders, saying, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns!

19:20 The beast was taken, and with him the false prophet who worked the signs in his sight, with which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur.

– The Antichrist and the false prophet are captured and thrown into the fiery lake in the second coming of Jesus. They have been either in prison or in a fiery lake for a thousand years before Satan experiences the same fate. This is a significant event in the sense that it shows that the punishment is long. At least with regard to their main opponent of Christ. Are they people, then a consuming fire burns them to ashes. If, on the other hand, they are spirit beings, then the physical fire will not work on them. A different kind of fire is needed. The throwing of the Antichrist and the False Prophet into the lake of fire is one of the judgments that Christ condemns upon his coming. Most of the judgments are given only when his reign ends in a thousand years (2 Timothy 4:1).

All those resurrected whose names were not written in the Book of Life. Rev 20:15 15 If anyone was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire. – The resurrected are all in spirit bodies. The physical fire does not affect them. If I’m wrong and they are in the physical body, an ordinary fire shall burn them. Of course, God has another kind of fire at his disposal.

Satan, the king of this world, who is the source of all sin, is also thrown into the fiery lake. Rev 20:10 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.  – Satan is a high-ranking angel with about one-third of angels in his command.

Psa 104:4 He makes his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire.

Heb 12:29 for our God is a consuming fire.

Every person must die – i.e the first death. Many will be judged to experience the second death in the lake of fire.

Verses of a fiery lake:

Rev 14:10 he also shall drink of the wine of the anger of God having been mixed undiluted in the cup of his wrath. And he will be tormented by fire and brimstone before the holy angels and before the Lamb.

Rev 19:20 The beast [antichrist] was captured, along with the false prophet who had performed signs on its behalf. By these signs, the false prophet had deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped its image. Both of them were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur [brimstone].

Rev 20:10 and the devil [Satan] who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet were. They will be tormented (G928 βασανίζω basanizō) day and night forever and ever.

Rev 20:14-15 Death and Hades [i.e. the realm of the dead] were thrown into the lake of fire. (This is the second death—the lake of fire.) Anyone whose name was not found written in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire.

– What does this Bible verse mean? Death was not a part of the man’s life. It came to Adam and Eve as a result of their sins and, consequently, to all mankind. The Bible tells us that the wages of sin is death. Death means the first death that every person experiences in his given time and then the body goes to Hades which means the grave. At the last conviction, death is destroyed; none of the people who are worthy of eternal life do not have to experience the second death. When Revelation says that death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire it means they just cease to exist. No one dies anymore and no one needs to be buried.

Death and Hades are not persons: they do not think, do not know, do not sin. They should not be punished like those who commit sin. However, both of them are thrown in the lake of fire. Why? Remember, this is a figurative expression; in the lake of fire the death and the symbolic tomb are removed as unnecessary. If the fate of sinful people is the same fiery lake, it is appropriate to ask: do people in the fiery lake disappear completely and definitively in the same way as death?

The verses above make it clear that the convicts will be thrown alive into the flaming lake. Throwing itself characterizes a disrespectful act, punishment. They will also be kneaded day and night. Is this God’s will? I was sure God wants all to be saved!

Rev 21:8 But people who are cowardly, unfaithful, detestable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars will have their part in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur. This is the second death.


Would it be a real lake of fire or is this lake a figurative expression? If it were a real lake, it would have to accommodate billions of people, sinners of all times; real lake and real physical people. They would stand in the shores of the lake, not in the middle of the lake, because they would be drowned there. If you think of yourself in such a lake, you probably think that you should get food and drink every now and then. How could this service be arranged? For billions of people. How would the flames of the lake be regulated so that they would torture suitably, but not completely burn the people there? It feels a bit crazy to even think of the existence of such a lake, but without any doubt, the Bible speaks of it with clear expressions, repeating the message several times. This doctrine has been in the churches for nearly two thousand years. There are, of course, some other kinds of hells in literature and art in which the sinners are languishing.

What if the fiery lake is figurative language of God’s spiritual punishment? People who receive it will be in the spirit body after their resurrection. Spiritual bodies are not affected by actual flames. Therefore, they should be in the spirit body and the flames should be spiritual. God is a consuming fire! (Heb 12:29 “Our God is a consuming fire”) And God is a spirit. I am sure that the spiritual fire of God may be punishment just as painful as the right one.

In this chapter, I have pointed out factors which support the interpretation that the words aion/aionios and owlam not really mean eternal, infinite. Better translation of words would often be time, time span, period, era. This interpretation would also allow us to interpret the spiritual content and duration of the fiery lake in a new way. It is certainly a difficult place for many. For me as well, when I long believed in a literal interpretation of this fiery lake. But, if that were the case, a new vision and hope would open to sinners, to forgive sins and to be saved among the righteous. Then would God’s will be fulfilled – that all will be saved.