BUFF SCOTT, JR.
E n d l e s s T o r t u r e
[A VALID CONCEPT?]
As my older readers know, in times past I have given my attention to the concept of eternal punishment
vs. endless conscious torture
, as it relates to the ungodly. There are numerous scriptures that speak of eternal or everlasting destruction
for those who knowingly reject the God of creation. Some of these scriptures are cited at the end of this column. One brother, who seems to have researched this subject rather extensively, recently wrote:
_______ “It seems you are basing this study only on the English word destruction and its definition, and not on the Greek. The scriptures you referenced actually use two different Greek words that can be translated destroy or destruction. Peter and Jude use the word apollumi (2 Peter 3 & Jude 7).
“Paul, in 2 Thessalonians 1, uses the word olethros. Olethros in the Greek means to destroy, kill, ruin, destruction. The fundamental thought is not annihilation by any means, but unavoidable distress and torment.
“In Mark 9:43-48, Jesus describes an unquenchable fire where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched. Why will the worm and the fire go on forever if the punishment of those cast therein is temporary? By the way, you said the fire in Jude 7 is temporary, but Jude describes it as an eternal fire.
Here are my observations. The burning of Sodom and Gomorrah is described as eternal fire (Jude 7)
, or, we might say, unquenchable fire, like Mark 9:43-48, yet we know that
fire is not still burning. When the results
were concluded, the fire ceased. The results will never cease being results
. But the fire itself ceased long ago.
According to my reader’s understanding, the fire in Jude 7, as pertaining to Sodom and Gomorrah, is still burning. If this is not
his position, and I assume it isn’t, because we all know that
fire does not continue to burn, the meaning then would be the results
of that fire are endless, not the fire itself. Just so with Mark 9:43-48. The results
of the state of punishment for the ungodly are continual, never-ending, not the punishment itself.
We agree the ungodly will be punished. There is zero controversy here. The controversy arises when we teach that God operates a torture chamber and those inside it will never be relieved of their excruciating misery. My God’s nature is not one of a torturer
Let it be said that Satan is real. Hell is real. Eternal or everlasting punishment is real. But not endless torture
. God is a God of mercy and compassion. He is not a Master Torturer. Nothing could be as cruel and brutal as subjecting someone to excruciating torture forever. I tell you plainly, this is not the God I know.
If an ungodly friend of mine was being subjected to torture and I had the power to stop it, I could not stand by and allow it to continue endlessly
. That would be like an executioner pulling the switch on an Electric Chair to execute a murderer endlessly
, during which time he would be kept alive.
Yes, he deserves to be punished for his crime. But once justice has been served, out of mercy the punishment must end. The God we know is merciful beyond our comprehension. Our level of mercy does not even compare to His. So in the scriptures, as I understand them, eternal destruction should be taken at face value, which, in the longrun, will be annihilation, not uninterrupted torture.
[the ungodly] will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His might (2 Thess 1:9)
What manner of punishment will be meted out to the ungodly? First of all, I do not believe literal
fire and brimstone will remain after this physical, palpable universe has ended. I’m inclined to believe the fire and brimstone the ungodly will suffer prior
to annihilation will manifest itself when they look upon the glory of that eternal, hallowed and stately palace in heaven, with all of its exquisite splendor, and realize what they have foregone because of their rejection of God. That, I think, will be their “fire and brimstone,” followed by eternal destruction or annihilation. The results
of their suffering and annihilation will be forever
Jude speaks of those in Sodom and Gomorrah who suffered the punishment of eternal fire when their cities and their sexually perverted inhabitants were destroyed (Jude 7)
. But was the fire itself
eternal—never-ending? Is it still burning? Of course not. The fire was not meant to be endless, only the results
. And so it will be with the ungodly. Their punishment will be forever, never-ending, as the results
will endure throughout eternity. [See Part II next week.]
__________ ON “DESTRUCTION”— Jesus, Matt. 7:13; Jesus, Luke 17:12; Paul, Rom. 9:22; Paul, Gal. 6:8; Paul, Phil. 3:19; Paul, I Thess. 5:3; Paul, 2 Thess. 1:9; 2 Peter 2:1; 2 Peter 2:3; 2 Peter 3:7; 2 Peter 3:16.
EXCERPT FROM “THE SON OF PERDITION”— “You will notice that in all of these ‘sightings’ of Mary, not once did anyone see Jesus! I find that extraordinarily irregular, for He is the Pioneer and Author of our salvation. Why Mary and not Jesus? It is because Mary has been idolized. Idolatry within the confines of Roman Catholicism is like a raging river.”
For free copies of this book, “The Son Of Perdition,” postage included, send me your Postal Address.—Buff.