There is no “immortal soul” doctrine in the Bible. Tradition about the fate of the lost (as torment forever) is unbiblical and hermeneutically incorrect.
Jesus and James teach the soul is destructible.
“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10:28
“There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy.” James 4:12
Paul teaches that immortality is brought through the gospel.
“but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,” 2 Timothy 1:10
Hell was prepared for Satan and his angels. They will be tormented forever but not unbelieving humans.
- “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels. Matthew 25:41
- Revelation 20:10 says the devil, the beast and the false prophet will be tormented forever.
“The belief in the immortality of the soul came to the Jews from contact with Greek thought and chiefly through the philosophy of Plato, its principal exponent…” (The Jewish Encyclopedia). However, the scriptures teach the soul is destructible and immortality is part of the gospel. As shown, Paul teaches that immortality is brought through the gospel. Paul did not believe the Greek philosophy of his day which taught the immortality of all souls.
“To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honour and immortality, He will give eternal life.” Romans 2:7
I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. (John 6:51)
Why would Jesus Himself make this plain offer to “live forever” if everyone lived forever? Also, why would Jesus say people perish (die) unless they believe the Gospel.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
It is important to note that in Hebrew, the word for “life/soul” (nehphesh) is never used in conjunction with the word “everlasting” in the Old Testament writings
Likewise, in the New Testament writings, the word for “soul” (psukee) is never used in conjunction with the words “eternal” or “everlasting.”
A growing number of well-known Christian leaders, such as Dr. David R. Reagan, John R. Stott, Greg Boyd, Roger Forster (co-founder of the March for Jesus events), Philip Hughes, Michael Green, Stephen Travis, and Clark Pinnock have declared support for part, or all, of the biblical doctrine of Conditional Immortality. Even the British Bible translator, William Tyndale, defended Conditional Immortality during his lifetime. Also, the very well respected scholar F.F. Bruce states, “Eternal conscious torment is incompatible with the revealed character of God” so he chose to write the forward to an excellent evangelical book on this topic called, The Fire that Consumes by Edward Fudge.
Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:14
But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. Revelation 21:8
Why would God use “second death” if He did not mean death?
The first death is temporary. In the first death, only the body is destroyed in the graveyard. However, there will be a resurrection one day of all humanity, a bodily resurrection.
The second death will never be followed by a resurrection. In the second death, the body and soul are both destroyed (not preserved), (Matthew 10:28) forever.
Paul also tells us exactly what the punishment of the lost is:
“Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction.” 2 Thessalonians 1:9
Whose end is destruction. Philippians 3:19
But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition. (Greek: destruction) Hebrews 10:39
That raging fire “will consume the enemies of God“ Heb. 10:27
“…it would seem strange … if people who are said to suffer destruction are in fact not destroyed; and … it is difficult to imagine a perpetually inconclusive process of perishing.“(J. Stott and D. Edwards, Essentials: A Liberal-Evangelical Dialogue, London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1988, p. 316)
The future that unbelievers face on judgement day is:
1) Suffering in proportion for their sins. Justice, in its proper amount, will be served.“And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes.” (Luke 12: 47-48)
2) Destruction. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23“, “the soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4),“He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.” Revelation 2:11
They (sinners) will be cast into “unquenchable fire prepared for Satan and his minions”. It is an enduring fire which none can extinguish as Satan and his minions will be there forever. Humans who are cast into the fire will eventually BURN UP. This is the Greek word katakaio which means to burn up; consume. Jesus informs us that sinners will NOT be preserved in the fire (like in Moses and the burning bush), but rather will be “burned up“ just the opposite of preservation. “Their destiny is destruction…” Philippians 3:19. “Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction” (2 Thessalonians 1:9).
Doesn’t Revelation 14 tell us that people will be tormented forever?
They are “in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.” This is obviously when they are standing before the Great White Throne of God on Judgement Day and not in hell.
The parable that Jesus tells in Luke 19:27 teaches us that these ones will ultimately be slain in the presence of the King.
But what about the word “forever”; doesn’t the text say torment will go on forever? No. Read it very carefully. It clearly says “the smoke” will rise forever.
Doesn’t Revelation tell us that people who take the mark of the beast will have no rest day or night?
Yes, they will indeed have “no rest,” but when will this happen? It will be during the tribulation period while on this earth. It is in the Greek present tense. John also tells us that painful sores break out on their body. How can anyone “rest day or night” when they have painful such sores on their body and are forced to worship the beast?
Jesus quotes from Isaiah 66:24 “Their worm does not die And the fire is not quenched.” in Mark 9:44,46,48
The righteous “go out and look” on their enemies” corpses… They look at corpses (Hebrew: pegerim), not living people. They view their destruction, not their misery. The figure of unquenchable fire is frequent in scripture and signifies a fire that consumes (Ezekiel 20:47, 48), reduces to nothing (Amos 5:5,6) or burns up something (Matt 3:12).
“There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.” Luke 13:28
He means on that day:
- There will be many sad people “weeping” at the realization that they have just lost the chance for immortality and will soon be put to death forever.
- There will be many very angry people gnashing their teeth at God. It is they who will probably be cursing at God (i.e. gnashing their teeth) all the way to their last breath before being destroyed.
What about the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16?
The teaching of Conditional Immortality means that the soul of man is finally destroyed on the Day of Judgement at the end of this age. Therefore, technically speaking, this scripture has no bearing on this doctrine.
- There is sufficient reason for understanding this passage of scripture as a parable.
- The previous four stories were all parables (Luke 15:4, 15:8, 15:11, 16:1) The parable which He just told them, also began with the exact same words “There was a certain rich man,” (Luke 16:1).
- These two stories both have to do with “mammon” (money) and the misuse of it. If the first is clearly a parable, why not the second, for it is in the exact same section of scripture?
- The point of the parable is at the end, “And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” (Luke 16:31)
- The Greek word used in this passage is not Gehenna (hell), but it is Hades (temporary abode of the dead). It is a different Greek word.
- Hades will be itself emptied and destroyed one day. Revelation 20:14.
Does the one who told us to love our enemies intend to wreak vengeance on his own enemies for all eternity? No! thank God.