Tenet 19 – Wicked people will not suffer eternal punishment but will simply be destroyed, that is, annihilated, ceasing to exist as the only sentence for their wickedness. Hell is merely the common grave of all mankind and in no sense a place of suffering or punishment. wit.irr.org
Watchtower uses the verses found in 1 John 4:8 and Psalm 145:20 to support this claim.
He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
The Lord preserves all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy.
The question then is: “Do verses such as these rule out God’s using hell as an eternal punishment for some people?”
THE BIBLE TEACHES
There is no doubt that Satan and the beast and false prophet will be tormented forever in a lake of fire and sulfur.
Revelation 20:10 And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet are too, and they will be tormented there day and night forever and ever.
Who will be there with them?
Revelation 20:11 Then I saw a large white throne and the one who was seated on it; the earth and the heaven fled from his presence, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne. Then books were opened, and another book was opened – the book of life. So the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to their deeds. 13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and Death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each one was judged according to his deeds. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death – the lake of fire. 15 If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, that person was thrown into the lake of fire.
Verse 15 tells us that “If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, that person was thrown into the lake of fire.”
Jesus had already foretold that people will be in this place because He told the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. Jesus said:
Luke 23:22 The rich man also died and was buried. 23 And in hell, as he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far off with Lazarus at his side. 24 So he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in anguish in this fire.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things and Lazarus likewise bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in anguish. 26 Besides all this, a great chasm has been fixed between us, so that those who want to cross over from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.’
Also, Jesus warned people:
Matthew 13:41-42, 49-50 “The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Mark 9:43, 48-49 “And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire…where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ For everyone will be salted with fire.”
This certainly proves that the wicked, the unredeemed, will be cast into the lake of fire. Is it possible they will be annihilated there? With God, all things are possible, however, the story of the rich man and Lazarus does not support this. The rich man was awake and aware after death. Also Jesus said there would be weeping. A person must be in a state of awareness to weep.
Another question we might consider. If there is no eternal punishment why would Jesus say it would have been better for this man, Judas, if he had never been born?
If you are a Jehovah’s Witness reading this, please know that God is a loving God. God loves us in that:
But God commended his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.Romans 10:13
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. Revelation 22:17
For God so LOVED the world that He gave His only begotten Son…
God is a God of love and compassion. We are given every opportunity to accept His gift of salvation, but if we refuse the gift, we will be choosing to spend eternity separated from Him. He bore the punishment for our sin, however, when we refuse to accept His redemption, we must bear the punishment for that sin. He provides life abundantly. Choose life…