Proportional Punishment

Despite the varying beliefs about the nature of divine punishment, most Christians agree that it will be proportional. However, in admitting this, we admit our sensitivity towards the fairness of punishment in hell. This presents some problems for the doctrine of eternal torment; which I will highlight in this article. If you haven’t already read it, check out my nearly exhaustive piece on Why I No Longer Believe In Hell. I explained in depth what the Bible teaches about eternal punishment.

1) Mathematics affirm that infinite punishment is an inequity.

In order to believe in proportional punishment, we must acknowledge that God has a way of measuring our sins in life. And if this measurement cannot be reconciled with mathematical fairness, it will not be fair by any definition known to man. Humans live finite lives, and therefore can only commit a finite amount of sin. And Christians almost unanimously affirm that some will sin to a greater degree than others, and thus incur greater punishment. And to believe that, we must acknowledge that the lesser sin of some is decidedly finite. Therefore, the punishment in hell must be finite if it is to be equal to the crimes committed. Any number multiplied by infinity will always exceed a finite amount.

For example, if our sins can be measured, let’s imagine my sin debt reached a level of 80 in my life. And let’s imagine my punishment was incredibly soft and only repaid me 0.001% of my sin debt per year in hell. I had lived 80 years, amassing 1% of my total sin debt per year. The punishment would then be less intense than the results of my sinning if I was punished yearly for less than 1% of my total sins. Now after 100,000 years my sin debt will have been fully paid, even if my yearly punishment was only equal to 0.001% of my total sin debt.

However, the descriptions of hell seem much more intense than my analogy suggests. I am being far too kind. I would venture to say that somewhere between 90-95% of humans will never commit a violent crime. And no one directly does violence to God unless they were one of the conspirators against Jesus. So it can be admitted that an estimated 90-95% of mankind will instantly experience a level of pain they themselves never inflicted upon another being. I won’t attempt to put a number on such a punishment but I imagine it would far exceed the 1% per year mark and repay men at a faster rate than they amassed their sin debt in life.

Let’s apply this to the analogy. I am now not being repaid for 0.001% of my sins per year, but well over 1%. I would be repaid at a rate that will result in full repayment of the sin debt before 80 years has passed. This would make any continued punishment a divine inequity which would amass a new debt that God would owe to me. This would be using dishonest and unbalanced scales to determine man’s punishment.

Proverbs 11:1 says:

“A false balance is an abomination to the LORD, But a just weight is His delight.”

God’s delight is in a “just weight”. Would the God who created mathematics bypass them in order to torture men infinitely for finite wrongs? We would accuse any judge of being unfair if they did not use just means of determining punishment. Yet we seem to think God is below using accurate weights, not willing to reward men “According to the results of his deeds”.

Jeremiah 17:10 says:

“I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give to each man according to his ways, According to the results of his deeds.”

It must be admitted that mathematical fairness must be forfeited in order to uphold the doctrine of eternal torment in hell.

2) The admittance that the punishment of eternal torment could never be mathematically equal to the sins of man requires us to lay aside all assumptions that proportional punishment would be fair.

If we admit that no amount of eternal torment can be reconciled with mathematical fairness, it is hard to assume proportional punishment within hell would be mathematically fair. To believe that eternal torment is unfair, yet proportional punishment within hell is, we must assume that God uses two different measurements for man’s punishment.

The first measurement would defy mathematical fairness and damn all who do not believe to an eternity of misery.

The second measurement would submit to mathematical fairness and proportionally assign fair amounts of pain tolerance to the damned.

I would encourage anyone to provide biblical proof that the measurements used by God to determine the degrees of punishment in hell submit to the laws of mathematical fairness when eternal torment does not. If this cannot be provided, all those who embrace the doctrine of eternal torment must relinquish their presumptions that the degrees of punishment in hell will be mathematically fair. And if the punishment is not mathematically fair, man can find no peace of mind in assuming that God will repay proportionally in hell. Since eternal punishment does not conform to any human concept of fairness.

3) The argument that the sin of rejecting Christ requires eternal torment has no biblical evidence to support it.

Some Christians appeal to Mark 3:29 to prove that there is eternal sin:

“but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”

However, most Christians believe that all men are deserving of hell, not just those who blaspheme the Holy Spirit. If hell is what we all deserve, we all must be guilty of blaspheming the Holy Spirit. But notice that whoever does this “never has forgiveness”. We would then have to conclude that if all are guilty of this eternal sin, no man can ever be forgiven.

I then ask anyone to prove that there is an eternal sin listed in the Bible besides this one? And if this sin truly is the only eternal sin, we must conclude that all other sins are not eternal. The eternality of this sin, like all things spoken of as eternal, is referring to effect. The effect of this sin results in eternal unforgiveness and condemnation for that man. In the previous verse Jesus says:

“Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter;” (Mark 3:28)

The argument that rejecting Christ’s sacrifice makes men worthy of unending torment is simply not biblical. And further, if this sin results in eternal torment, what about those who lived before Christ? How did they reject Christ before He came? Is the sin rejecting God then? It seems that many cults believe in God, but not Jesus. This is what sets Christianity apart from many false religions who reject Christ.

Romans 6:23 says:

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

As I showed in my previous article, the word death here cannot mean eternal torment unless Jesus Himself experienced eternal torment. The wages of sin is death. The weight is on those who believe this doctrine to prove from Scripture that God requires eternal torment as repayment; and that death is not the wages of sin.

4) If the sin of rejecting God requires an infinite duration of punishment, who can say it does not require infinite intensity?

If the sin of rejecting God is so serious as to incur infinite duration of pain, who can dismiss the claim that the punishment also requires infinite intensity of pain? The claim that rejection of God incurs infinite duration of torment has no more biblical evidence than the latter. There is no reason why both cannot be true. In fact, to borrow a common traditionalist argument, it would seem more fitting that if the amount of joy in Heaven is to be beyond our imagination, that the pain in hell would also be beyond imagination.

5) The symmetrical argument is merely philosophical deflection without any biblical evidence to back it up.

The argument is often made that “if joy in Heaven is eternal, torment in Hell must also be eternal.”. This is an attempt to prove that God must work symmetrically. It is the belief that all good must be equally mirrored with bad. However, in affirming this, traditionalists quickly find themselves in a contradiction. They are using a mathematical concept to prove eternal torment. And if God is then at the mercy of one mathematical concept, would He not then be equally accountable to mathematical fairness as shown in my first point? However, it is clear that God is not accountable to this, since symmetry is not a law but a “regularity that is possessed by mathematical object” (dictionary.com). The world is not symmetrical, and this can easily be proven. Your body is not symmetrical either.

Some may ask me how I can hold God to the law of mathematics if God is above all laws. In reply, I would point out that Christians seem very comfortable with holding Him to the laws of time, in the sense that when He says something is “eternal”, we believe He means forever. Is He bound by time? No. But He is bound by His character, which cannot lie.

Titus 1:2 says:

“in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago,”

Therefore if God says He is just, and affirms that He delights in “accurate scales” (Proverbs 11:1), and says that He will “give to each man according to his ways, According to the results of his deeds.” (Jeremiah 17:10), would it not naturally follow that God would have some sort of fair measure of our deeds to determine the punishment? And would it not also follow that to show His glory, the fairness of His measures would exceed that of any human judge?

Psalm 98:9 says:

“for He is coming to judge the earth; He will judge the world with righteousness And the peoples with equity.”

The Hebrew word translated here as “equity” is defined by NAS Exhaustive Concordance as “evenness, uprightness, equity”. Would it not be logical to assume that “evenness” implies a mathematically reasonable system of fairness? Or did God simply create us with a higher sensitivity towards fairness than He possesses?

It seems that when contemplating eternal torment in hell, not a soul finds it to be more fair than the human justice systems that exist today. For example, in America the highest form of punishment is death. We do not subject men to lifelong torture because we believe that would be unjust. So I appeal to all: how would God gain glory for Himself if He did that which most wicked men do not dare to do?

6) The means of proportional punishment is hidden from those who believe in eternal torment as well as  those who believe in annihilation.

One common objection to the doctrine of annihilation is that exceedingly wicked men will get off easy on judgment day. However, this is not simply a difficulty for annihilationism, as traditionalists also must account for how the exceedingly wicked will be punished more. God’s Word is silent on how He proportionally punishes men. However, the concept is clearly alluded to in multiple passages, such as Matthew 11:21-24 and 2 Peter 2:20-21.

Hebrews 10:29 says:

“How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?”

Luke 12:42-48 says:

“And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and sensible steward, whom his master will put in charge of his servants, to give them their rations at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But if that slave says in his heart, ‘My master will be a long time in coming,’ and begins to beat the slaves, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk; the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces, and assign him a place with the unbelievers. And that slave who knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, will receive many lashes, but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few. From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.”

The phrase “assign him a place with the unbelievers” clearly shows that this servant will not inherit the kingdom of God. Jesus then says that the wicked servant who has greater knowledge of the will of God will receive “many lashes”. Yet the one who has less knowledge will receive “but a few”. This requires proportional punishment in order to fulfill the truth of this parable. I also find it interesting to note that the punishment is not said to be less intense, but of limited duration.

The great white throne judgment in Revelation 20:11-15 contains no mention of proportional punishment, however it does say that all will be judged according to their deeds prior to being cast into the lake of fire.

Annihilationists can suggest at least three possibilities:

a) the wicked are punished proportionally during the Great White Throne Judgment before the destruction of being cast in the lake of fire.

b) the wicked are punished proportionally between the Great White Throne Judgment and the destruction of being cast in the lake of fire.

c) the wicked are punished proportionally within the lake of fire before being destroyed.

Given the fact that the lake of fire is figurative, we don’t have to assume it treats everyone equally. In fact, we are required to assume that it destroys Death and Hades, yet torments Satan and his angels. (Revelation 20:10-14). I don’t think it is overly presumptive to suggest that God has prepared the lake of fire to recompense men with proportional punishments.

All of the above options seem to be plausible, although they lack any direct statements from Scripture. Traditionalists also must presume that there is a unspecified method for proportional punishment. Generally the belief is that each man will be given a different body with unique sensitivity to pain, therefore allowing some men to feel less pain in hell. This also is an assumption, but a fair one if the lake of fire were a place of eternal torment.

7) The concept of proportional punishment suggests a sensitivity towards the damned that seems to be at odds with the doctrine of eternal torment.

Calvinists (I am not one) suggest that all who sin are equal in moral standing before God. No one is more deserving of grace than another man. They even go so far as to say that the non-elect are born as “vessels of wrath” and have no ability in themselves to choose to accept salvation (Romans 9:22). I ask then: why this sensitivity regarding proportional punishment in hell? If all who go there are merely “vessels of wrath”, why would it matter if they are tortured to the same degree as Satan himself? Does it not bring God more glory to torture them with all the intensity possible? Why should some be designed to be more wicked than others to incur greater punishment? Why would all not be worthy of the full measure of wrath?

But no, even Calvinists are sensitive to the fact that this is not justice. If an adult child turns away from Christ and dies in an auto accident, no one would dare bring up the possibility that this child will be tormented eternally to the same degree as Satan himself. This would be unspeakably cruel to suggest such a thing to a parent who has experienced a loss as this. But if the child was non-elect and it was done for God’s glory, why not rejoice in the justice of God? Rather, it seems we are ashamed to even speak of such a punishment.

For Arminians and those who embrace free will, it is easier to fall back on the idea that man “chooses” to go to hell. Yet I would encourage you to ask yourself if anyone actually chooses hell out of faith in it’s existence. It would seem to me that those who reject Christ also reject the idea that hell is real. The people who talk about going to hell seem to view it as a eternal party with Satan as the DJ. They mock it because they don’t believe it. If all did believe it to be a real place of eternal torment, I would imagine that no intelligent soul would be found in opposition to God.

People don’t choose hell and reject Christ. They choose their sin over Christ. They love their lives too much to lose them for the gospel. So we now must account for the fact that most men likely do not choose hell, but rather out of disbelief in it’s existence fall into it’s outstretched arms. I can’t name one person who seriously believes they are destined to go to hell. Can you?

Does every man in hell deserve the same punishment? If not, you affirm that not all who go there are equally sinful. Which then requires one to ask why every unbeliever deserves endless torment. You can attempt to believe that some will feel less pain than others, but the Bible’s descriptions still must be accounted for. It serves man no good to imagine all of the biblical descriptions of fire and torment as being eternal, yet pretend that for some it won’t be “that bad”. It seems an uphill battle. Indeed, the great champions of the doctrine such as Jonathan Edwards spoke of hell in the most shocking ways they could conjure. If it really isn’t “that bad”, one must still acknowledge that most of the historical church leaders who taught this doctrine continually emphasized the horrors of it for all men. If you want proof of this, check out this article from a friend of mine: http://conditionalism.net/blog/2012/10/torture/#more-316 .

At the very least it would be a miserable and never ending existence for even the least wicked man in hell. The Arminian can try to argue that punishment will be proportional and just (against the logic of point #2), but they still must grapple with the eternality of it for all.

8) The stark contrast between the believer and unbeliever’s fate reveals the illogical nature of the doctrine of eternal torment.

If we are sensitive to the fact that not all men sin equally and deserve equal punishment, how can we agree that all unbelief should result in such an unspeakable punishment as eternal torment? It seems the man who simply believes would receive unspeakable eternal blessings, while the man who simply rejects receives unspeakable eternal horrors. Yet we all know that many of us have been on both sides at one point in time. Most Christians are saved from the world that they were once a part of. I ask you to imagine yourself pre-salvation as being deserving of eternal torment in hell and post-salvation being deserving of eternal blessings in Heaven. Does it seem right that the difference between your being damned to eternal suffering in hell and salvation was partly in the hands of a mere man’s ability to share the gospel with you? If no one got around to sharing it with you, would you have been more worthy of hell than if you heard and received the message?

Think for a moment about the people who will never hear the gospel. If we believe the only way for them to escape hell is through the preaching of the gospel, their existence is nothing but the cruelest gift God could’ve given. Calvinists might as well abandon the doctrine of common grace if hell is true.

Psalm 145:9 says:

“The LORD is good to all, And His mercies are over all His works.”

Psalm 30:5 says:

“For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; Weeping may last for the night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning.”

I ask any sober minded man to reconcile this mercy of God towards all He has made if He eternally torments the majority of mankind because they were not fortunate enough to hear the gospel. Is God at the mercy of men to share His gospel and save mankind from His own wrath? Is He in Heaven watching us and crying over souls that are not saved from hell because we failed to reach them with the gospel? Is God unable to act in justice towards all men? What happened to God’s sovereignty?

And if there is an age of accountability as some suggest, is the youth who passes it by one day less fortunate because God did not take his life prior to that time? If this were the case God would be more merciful to take the lives of all men before they become accountable. In fact, the reason we continue to bring children into the world if hell is a possible destination for them escapes me. Certainly God should have wiped out all mankind long ago in the flood if this were true. It reminds me of a friend who once told me she was not too concerned with abortion since the babies would go to Heaven. Think about that for a second. If this doctrine were true, I can’t argue with that logic. I stand on the authority of God’s Word however that this is not what God intends or desires.

9)  “Eternal separation from God” is a unscriptural euphemism used to describe the punishment of hell.

I believe this is the most common belief in the modern church. It’s easier to imagine a place that is simply devoid of God in which man will exist for eternity. Those unbelievers would dwell in sadness as they contemplate what they forfeited. The torment here is that of “undying worms of conscience”, and not that of literal torment by fire. Here there are differing levels of mental anguish based on a person’s memories of their wrongs.

This “worm of conscience” as designated by John Calvin is the result of taking a biblical metaphor, stripping it of any biblical meaning, and inserting one’s own idea of what it signifies. Nowhere in the Bible are worms used to refer to the conscience, or even torment for that matter. But they are used together with “unquenchable fire” in reference to corpses (Isaiah 66:24), which we can assume they devour; not torment. The sloppiness which some men exhibit in their handling of the Word of God utterly astounds me. No one in their right mind should believe that the picture of an undying worm eating a corpse or an unquenchable fire burning one is a picture of eternal torment (mental or otherwise). If this were so, we may wish to rethink how we dispose of corpses. Cremation could be incredibly painful for the deceased!

There is no scriptural proof that hell is simply the result of God being absent or that the punishment is separation. Will God “destroy both body and soul” with separation anxiety (Matt 10:28)? If He is absent He is not even destroying. Who then is responsible for man’s anguish? It would seem that man is left to punish himself mentally. And what is happening to the body? Will God “destroy both body and soul” but in actuality only harm the mind?

Matthew 5:30 says:

“it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell.”

Here we have seen the body is in hell, and apparently destroyed. So how is the destruction purely separation anxiety?

Job 34:14-15 says:

“If he should set his heart to it and gather to himself his spirit and his breath, all flesh would perish together, and man would return to dust.”

Here it is shown that if God removes “his spirit and his breath” (not man’s but God’s), all flesh would perish and return to dust. If God is fully absent in the punishment of hell, it must be proven how man’s existence could be sustained.

Even if one could get around these objections to the concept of eternal conscious separation, one still must ask how the damning of a soul to an eternally miserable existence can be mathematically fair. The dilemma of point #1 still applies to this view.

10) The argument that man can sin in hell disregards the finality of the Great White Throne judgment.

Some suggest that the reason torment in hell is eternal is because man will never stop sinning in hell. However, God’s final judgments are pronounced at the Great White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:11-15). It would seem to me to be a waste of time for God to be continually judging men in hell after the final judgment. And if He was, would that not leave room for good behavior as well? If He is judging evil, He would be obligated to judge good as well. This would make hell into something that more accurately resembles purgatory. It’s presumptuous to assume that man could have no inclination to be repentant in the fire but rather just keep sinning if this were the case.

And further, man will be repaid according to their deeds in this life. Never is it said that the wicked will be punished for the sins of “this age, and the one to come”. Judgment and punishment is always retrospective, just as man cannot be rewarded for good deeds done after the resurrection.

11) Upon further research, I have found there is a case to be made that even Satan and his angels will eventually be destroyed.

While Satan and his angels’ destiny has no effect on the fate of humans, the elephant in the room is the question of whether God would torture any created being eternally. I will present some reasons for believing that even fallen angels can and will be destroyed. The evidence does not seem conclusive to me, but it certainly should be contemplated. I wrote previously about my belief that they will be eternally tormented, but I now have doubts that this is true.

First, we have the sovereignty of God. He is all powerful, and alone has immortality (1 Tim 6:16). He is therefore bound by no created being. Therefore, even when it is said that angels “cannot die” (Luke 20:36), we can assume this is because God won’t let them die. While man dies from decay and natural causes, angels do not decay and can only be destroyed by God. It should also be noted however that the angels who cannot die are described in a parallel passage as those who are “in heaven” (Matt 22:30). These cannot die because God will not allow them to die.

Isaiah 14:12-15 is generally attributed to Satan, and verse 15 says of him:

“Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol,
To the recesses of the pit.”

Sheol and “the pit” are Hebrew metaphors for death.  Implying that Satan will die.

In Mark 1:24, evil spirits who possessed a man said to Jesus:

“Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are– the Holy One of God!”

The word for destroy here is apollumi, which is the word used of man’s utter destruction. It is the strongest word for destruction in the Greek language; denoting annihilation. This implies that fallen angels can be destroyed.

When Revelation 20:10 says that they will be tormented “forever and ever”, we must also note that this phrase was used of the smoke of Babylon’s destruction in Revelation 19:3:

“Once more they cried out, “Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up forever and ever.””

Babylon is believed to be the world system in the end times; controlled by Satan and his demons. Does anyone believe literal smoke from the destruction of this world system will go up forever and ever? This seems to be a hyperbolic statement indicating the enduring shame of fallen Babylon; as smoke always indicates in the Bible. Those who have used enduring smoke to indicate eternal suffering are mistaken because this smoke is coming from something that is destroyed. In fact, it is shown that wicked men will look upon the city as it burns.

Revelation 18:8-9 says:

“For this reason in one day her plagues will come, pestilence and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for the Lord God who judges her is strong. And the kings of the earth, who committed sexual immorality and lived in luxury with her, will weep and wail over her when they see the smoke of her burning.”

We know that not long after this there will be a new heaven and a new earth.

Revelation 21:1 says:

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.”

If the first earth is destroyed, how can there be any smoke still rising from Babylon’s destruction? This is a case where forever and ever does not literally mean “forever and ever”, but refers to the enduring shame of destruction. So when Satan’s torment is said to last “forever and ever” it is fair to suggest that it could be hyperbolic, speaking of the substantial amount of torment he will receive in recompense for all his crimes. It would seemingly last “forever and ever” in comparison with the torment of man.

It is also worth noting that the word eternal in the Bible was never used to describe a never ending process, but always a never ending effect of an action (e.g. “eternal judgment” in Heb 6:2). So even if we were to find the phrase “eternal torment” in our Bibles, we would be forced to assume that it is referring to the eternal effect of the torment. This possibly suggests that there is no such thing as a never ending process of torment.

This also applies to “eternal fire”. It is very easily deduced that it is the effect of the fire that is eternal, not necessarily the fire itself. Jude 1:7 says that Sodom and Gomorrah “are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire”. And they were destroyed by it. Obviously their fire did not endure forever.

Isaiah 33:14 says:

“Sinners in Zion are terrified; Trembling has seized the godless. “Who among us can live with the consuming fire? Who among us can live with continual burning?””

This rhetorical question implies that no one can live with “continual burning”.

Jeremiah 7:20 says:

“Therefore thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, My anger and My wrath will be poured out on this place, on man and on beast and on the trees of the field and on the fruit of the ground; and it will burn and not be quenched.””

Here unquenchable fire is spoken of as coming on the entire earth; devouring not just men, but beasts, trees and fruit. We obviously do not assume they would be tormented forever, or that the fire would never end. But rather that it would not end until it accomplished it’s purpose.

Jonah 2:6 says:

“I descended to the roots of the mountains. The earth with its bars was around me forever, But You have brought up my life from the pit, O LORD my God.”

Jonah was obviously not imprisoned forever in the earth. So we must admit that the Bible does make use of hyperbole at times with regard to time spans. For although it could’ve been said that the smoke of Babylon’s destruction rises “for a long time”, it simply does not have the same linguistic appeal as “forever and ever”.

We then have to ask where the lake of fire would be when the new heavens and new earth appear? If the old universe is destroyed, it is fair to suggest that the lake of fire, being mentioned before the new heavens and new earth might not exist at that point. Otherwise, it must exist outside of the old heavens and old earth. 2 Peter 3:13 says that we are looking for “new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells”. If righteousness dwells in the new heavens and new earth, we can assume that nothing unrighteous will dwell in them. Which seems to suggest all unrighteous beings will be done away with. Why would fallen creatures be needed once they have been justly repaid for their wrongs? The power of Satan will be destroyed, so he would no longer be needed for any purpose.

2 Peter 3:10-13 says:

“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.”

This description makes me think that the lake of fire could be the destruction of all these things. For this would make perfect chronological sense. God would throw all that is impure (wicked men and angels) into the destruction of the old earth and old heavens by fire in Revelation 20:15 and then the new heavens and the new earth are revealed in the very next verse (Revelation 21:1) as well as the passing away of the old things.

Revelation 21:8 does speak of the lake of fire after the old heavens and old earth are done away with:

“He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son. But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”” (Revelation 21:7-8)

The whole statement however, cannot be a clear description of the chronology of these things after the New Jerusalem is established. If we take it all literally, those in the New Jerusalem would not have yet been God’s children, and God would not yet have been their God. And even more, those in the lake of fire would not yet have been thrown in: “their part will be in the lake”. So we must view this passage as narrative.

In the end, it’s harder to fully conclude that Satan and his angels will be destroyed than it is to conclude that men will. However, it is logical to suggest that they will be, given the evidence. In fact, other than the statement in Revelation 20:10, all evidence points to their eventual destruction. And even within the lake of fire, they are the only things assumed to be able to survive in it. Death, Hades and men are all to be destroyed within the eternal fire. It seems that to have these spirits tormented for eternity would be inconsistent with the overall theme of the end of the age, which includes the final elimination of all that is impure and the eternal preservation of all that is pure.

I’d encourage everyone to weigh my thoughts against Scripture and make their own decisions. I’m just a man like you, so don’t take me at my word, take God at His Word. If you have any substantive objections to what I’ve written I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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One response to “Proportional Punishment

  • Salty Bleach

    Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.

    Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.

    By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: AND I WILL DESTROY THEE, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.

    Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee.

    Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffick; THEREFORE WILL I BRING FORTH A FIRE FROM THE MIDST OF THEE, IT SHALL DEVOUR THEE, AND I WILL BRING THEE TO ASHES upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee.

    All they that know thee among the people shall be astonished at thee: thou shalt be a terror, AND NEVER SHALT THOU BE ANY MORE.

    Ezekiel 28:14-19

    Like

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