Messianic Apologetics

Addressing the Theological and Spiritual Issues of the Broad Messianic Movement

Eternal Punishment

Unlike the Tanach or Old Testament, where there is the assurance of a final condemnation for unrepentant sinners, but not much specific detail is given about it—both annihilationists and those who adhere to models of a never-ending eternal punishment are agreed that the Apostolic Scriptures or New Testament gives us many specific details about eternal punishment. Yeshua the Messiah, Paul, Peter, John, Jude, and others all discuss the sober realities of the judgment that will face the unredeemed. Do the Apostolic Scriptures teach annihilationism, or do they teach that the condemned will have to experience some never-ending form of punishment?

Before we move toward examining the views expressed in the Apostolic Scriptures regarding the final condemnation facing the unrighteous, it is important that we briefly recognize some of the opinions expressed in both Intertestimental and Rabbinic literature. Did Judaism from the broad First Century believe in an ongoing model of never-ending punishment for the wicked, or in a model of annihilation? Was there any single, definitive view, about what the unrighteous would face with eternal consequences?

When commonly encountering the statements of annihilationists, one will frequently detect the view that any belief in an ongoing, eternal punishment for the condemned is rooted in some kind of Hellenistic philosophy, as opposed to Biblical doctrine. Is this something really sustainable? When we consider the commonly known aspects of Greco-Roman religion germane to the First Century C.E., to claim that any kind of final condemnation—as anticipated by the Holy Scriptures, and as affirmed by both annihilationists and advocates of an ongoing Hell alike—is actually Hellenistic, has no basis. There is no warrant for claiming that the Greeks and Romans believed, that at one point in future history, all of those who would be regarded as “evil people” would have to stand before a divine judge (or being polytheists a tribunal of gods and goddesses), to be given a final sentencing for all of their crimes.

“‘For behold, the day is coming, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and every evildoer will be chaff; and the day that is coming will set them ablaze,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall. You will tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day which I am preparing,’ says the Lord of hosts.”

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