Bible Truth Examiner


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Scriptures are cited from the King James (Authorized) Version, unless stated otherwise.

FROM study five we saw that the words sheol and hades as used to describe the first hell do not refer to (1) a place of torment, or (2) a place of two compartments, either of bliss or of torture; but refer to (3) the unconscious condition of death. When all the dead in Adam are awakened from the unconscious condition of death, the first hell will be completely destroyed (Revelation 20: 13, 14). “Death and hell were cast into the lake of fire” plainly refers to another, a second hell, for how could hell be cast into the lake of fire if there were only one hell? 

This second hell is the Second Death (Revelation 20: 14) (Revelation 21: 8), brought on by individual totally willful sin – a condition of utter, complete and eternal annihilation. While Jesus, by paying the ransom-price for Adam and his race, guarantees to all a recovery from the first hell, there is no provision for a return from the second hell, for Christ “dieth no more” (Romans 6: 9) (Hebrews 10: 26). Those who fully sin away their grace have no hope of eternal life, because their sin would require a re-crucifixion of the Son of God as their individual ransom-price (Hebrews 6: 4-6).

Let us consider five ways that the second hell is mentioned in the Scriptures: (1) the lake of fire; (2) gehenna; (3) everlasting fire; (4) eternal fire; and (5) sheol. We will consider the expression “lake of fire” in this study, and the remaining four in the following study.

The Lake of Fire

All of the occurrences of the expression “lake of fire” are found in a figurative book (Revelation 19: 20) (Revelation 20: 10, 14, 15) (Revelation 21: 8), so we may regard it as a figurative expression. Revelation is a figurative book as is shown in Revelation 1: 1: “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John.” That it tells in signs and symbols things which must shortly come to pass is shown by the word signified, which means something told figuratively, in signs and symbols. Revelation portrays in signs and symbols the final end of evil and the incorrigibly wicked, pictured by their being cast into the lake of fire, which is the Second Death. The addition of brimstone intensifies the symbol, for the fumes of fire and brimstone were the deadliest agents known to ancient man.

The word fire has long been used as a symbol for destruction. For example, Shakespeare once said, “Where two raging fires meet together, they do consume the thing that feeds their fury.”

Malachi 4: 1 is another example: “For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.” The day here mentioned is the great day of Jehovah’s wrath, in which destruction will be heaped upon the present order of affairs, shown by the figurative expression “burn as an oven,” and the proud, great ones of this present evil world, who are under Satan’s domination, shall be figuratively burned, as stubble.

Hebrews 12: 29: “For our God is a consuming fire.” To the wicked God will be as a consuming fire, for He will utterly and eternally annihilate them just as literal fire destroys what is put into it.

Six Things cast into the Lake of Fire

Many other Scriptural passages use fire as a symbol of destruction, but let us now consider literal passages concerning the fate of the six things which are mentioned as being cast into the lake of fire:

(1.) The Devil, according to Revelation 20: 10, will be cast into the lake of fire. Several literal passages also indicate his fate. Hebrews 2: 14: “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.” This Scripture speaks of Jesus who became a human being in order to give His life as the ransom sacrifice for man, and as a result will in due time destroy the Devil, who has been permitted to inflict the death penalty on the human race.

Isaiah 27: 1: “In that day the LORD with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea.” Satan’s destruction is here set forth, along with the destruction of the civil powers of his empire, which will be accomplished by our Lord through the Truth.

(2.) The Beast, symbolic of the great Antichrist, will also be cast into the “lake of fire” (Revelation 19: 20) (Revelation 20: 10). The true Christ consists of Jesus, the Head, and the Church, His Body. The great Antichrist consists of a counterfeit Christ: papacy as its head and the hierarchy as its body. It is also called “the mystery of iniquity” in 2 Thessalonians 2: 7. It began its work in the unholy ambition of certain leaders among the brethren in the Apostle’s day. Prophetic descriptions of the Antichrist in Daniel, Revelation and 2 Thessalonians 2: 7-9 have been fulfilled by this great system. 

2 Thessalonians 2: 8 is a literal passage describing its final fate: “And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming.” That Wicked One is the great Antichrist, whose revealing took place when the papacy was manifested as the supreme religious and civil ruler, beginning in 539 A.D. and 1799 A.D. respectively. Its consuming was produced by the influence of the secular and religious Truth – “the spirit of his mouth” – the teachings of our Lord’s mouthpieces which they received from the Bible (John 17: 17). This work began in the reformation by individuals and progressed through the reformation by sects. The destroying, or annihilating process continues by additional secular and religious truth to be unfolded as will cause the destruction of the Antichrist in Armageddon.

(3.) The False Prophet will likewise be cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 19: 20) (Revelation 20: 10). By comparing Revelation 19: 20 and 16: 13 with Revelation 13: 11-17, we learn that the false prophet and the image of the beast are identical. After the image begins to speak it sets forth false teachings, making it the false prophet. We understand that federated Sectarian Protestantism is the image of the beast, the false prophet.

A literal passage describing its destruction is Isaiah 8: 9-12: “Associate yourselves, O ye people, and ye shall be broken in pieces; and give ear, all ye of far countries: gird yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces; gird yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces. Take counsel together, and it shall come to naught; speak the word, and it shall not stand: for God is with us. For the LORD spake thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying, Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid.” This passage prophesies of the development and utter annihilation of the federative movement, which began in 1846 with the formation of the Evangelical Alliance, progressed in the assembling of the World Congress of Religions in 1893, and has since developed further in worldwide activities, resulting in an increasingly federated sectarian Protestantism.

(4.) Death will be cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20: 13, 14). In study five we proved that death, the dying process, is to be utterly annihilated by the restitution process, but Revelation 21: 4 is another literal passage proving death’s destruction: “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” This text refers to post-Millennial conditions for those found worthy of eternal life. During the Millennial Age, by the operation and blessings of the Kingdom and its New Covenant, God will wipe away the tears that the dying process brought upon the whole human family. There will be no more dying after the Millennial Age and its Little Season have ended. The people will no longer cry under sorrow as they have under the curse; nor will they experience pain any longer, for the former things will have passed away.    

(5.) The First Hell will also be cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20: 13, 14). In study five we examined some literal passages showing that the first hell, the death state, will be utterly and eternally annihilated by the awakening of the dead, so we will not repeat them here.

(6.) Incorrigible Sinners will be cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20: 15) (Revelation 21: 8). Many literal passages show that these will be destroyed – utterly, completely and eternally annihilated. Job 31: 3 reads: “Is not destruction to the wicked? and a strange punishment to the workers of iniquity?” Those who during and at the end of the Millennial Age will not have properly submitted to the righteous laws and corrections of the Kingdom will die. As with Satan, these will all be cast out of God’s memory and shall never return.

Acts 3: 23: “And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.” [St. Peter here quotes from Deuteronomy 18: 19.] This great prophet is the Christ, Head and Body, who will be the world’s great teacher in the Millennial Age. All will be given an opportunity to understand and obey His teachings, but some will refuse to obey Him, and after a trial of 100 years (Isaiah 65: 20) will be destroyed. Others, who obey outwardly, but refuse to hear Him from their hearts, will continue until the end of the Millennial Age. Because of living selfishly instead of properly using the opportunities of the Millennial Age, they, as the old men who have not filled their days with good, will succumb to Satan’s temptations in the Little Season and be destroyed from among the people.

“Lake of Fire” Passages in Revelation

Let us now examine the passages in Revelation where the expression “lake of fire” occurs. We discussed Revelation 20: 14 in study five, so will not repeat it here. Revelation 20: 15 reads: “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” To be found written in the book of life (in the Millennial Age) means to have a character in harmony with the arrangements, teachings, spirit and work of the New Covenant. But whoever will not be found in harmony with it at the end of the Millennial Age, will be cast into utter, complete and eternal annihilation, symbolized by being cast into the lake of fire.

Revelation 21: 8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” The Revelator here mentions various wrong characteristics which the incorrigible sinners in the Millennial Age, especially at its end, will manifest. The fearful are those who will not allow the spirit of love, which casts out fear (1 John 4: 18), to control them; the unbelieving, those who will not trust God’s arrangements for gaining eternal life (Hebrews 11: 6); the abominable, those whose wickedness will be an abhorrence to God (Revelation 21: 27); the murderers, those who will hate their brethren (1 John 3: 15); the whoremongers, those who will be symbolic adulterers and fornicators (Psalm 73: 27) (Ephesians 5: 5), who will bring the errors of the nominal church over into the Millennial Age; the sorcerers, the special advocates of error (Revelation 18: 23); the idolaters, those who make idols of whomever or whatever they possess (Colossians 3: 5, 6) (1 Corinthians 6: 9, 10); and the liars, those teaching false doctrines (John 8: 44) (1 John 2: 22). All of these will “have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone.”

Revelation 19: 20: “And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.” Here is a symbolic description of the destruction of the papacy and Sectarian Protestantism, which will free the race from these oppressors. The false prophet (Sectarian Protestantism) wrought miracles before the beast (by excommunicating those who would not work in harmony with them). This began early in the Gospel Age, continued during the reformation by sects, and is completed here in the end of the Age. All opposers were silenced and driven out by the symbolic false prophet, who deceived all who received the mark of the beast in the forehead – who accepted the creeds of Antichrist; and those who worshipped the image – who were subject to Sectarian Protestantism. Both of these were cast alive (in the full vigor of their operation and of their power) into a lake of fire burning with brimstone (these will be cast into the great Time of Trouble, which is God’s means of inflicting utter, complete and eternal annihilation upon these systems).

Revelation 20: 10: “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” A common objection to the thought that the lake of fire and brimstone symbolizes utter, complete and eternal annihilation as the Second Death is that Revelation 14: 10 and this verse use the expressions tormented and tormented for ever and ever, and therefore refer to everlasting torment and not to destruction. We answer, the Greek verb here translated torment is basanizo. All Greek Lexicographers agree that the first meaning of this verb is to test, examine. Its second meaning is to test by torture or to examine by torture, which is derived from the ancient custom of testing people by torture. An example of this is when the chief captain sought to examine St. Paul by scourging (Acts 22: 24). Its third meaning is to torture or to torment. 

The word apparently first meant to test, even as the noun basanos, from which the verb basanizo is derived, primarily means a touchstone, a thing used to test metals, etc.; but since many of the tests of ancient times were by scourging, the word began to take on the meaning of testing by torture. Finally, it came to mean torment alone. The translators, whose minds were doubtless filled with the doctrine of eternal torment, took the third meaning of the word; however, by taking the first meaning, the matter becomes clear and harmonious with all of the literal expressions of the subject examined above. “They shall be tested day and night for ever and ever.” Eternally will the perfect minds of God’s creatures, found worthy of eternal life, examine the nature, character, fruits and history of the devil, the beast (papacy) and the false prophet (federated Sectarian Protestantism); and as often as they examine them, they will draw from their examination the true conclusion, that these three things deserve to be in the symbolic lake of fire and brimstone – utter, complete and eternal annihilation.