The Gospel Coalition (TGC) recently published an article entitled “J. I. Packer on Why Annihilationism Is Wrong.”1 In it, TGC reproduces four arguments Packer originally offered against annihilationism in his 1997 article, “Evangelical Annihilationism in Review.”2 In Part 1 of Rethinking Hell’s response, we demonstrated that Packer’s first argument fails at every point.3 In Part 2, we refuted most of Packer’s second argument, demonstrating that the texts he cites actually support annihilationism.4 In this third and final installment, we will wrap up our response to Packer’s second argument and refute his third and fourth arguments as well.

Eternal Torment? (Continued)

Packer begins his second argument by saying that “though there are texts which, taken in isolation, might carry annihilationist implications, others can’t naturally be fitted into any form of this scheme.”5 He offers several categories of such texts, and in part 2 of our response we addressed most of them. One text remains.

Eternal Destruction

In thinking about the doctrine of eternal punishment, all evangelical Christians must seek to substantiate their claims with a robust engagement with Holy Scripture. Packer’s brief look at treats us to little substantial exegesis. He writes,

In Paul explains, or extends, the meaning of “punished with everlasting [eternal, aionios] destruction” by adding “and shut out from the presence of the Lord”—which, by affirming exclusion, rules out the idea that “destruction” meant extinction. ((Ibid.))

It is worth first noting that Packer here relies upon a dubious translation of that abuses the original Greek. The words “and shut out from” are offered by a few translations—particularly dynamic ones—as if they correctly render the Greek preposition ἀπὸ.6 In reality the preposition simply means “from,” or in some cases, “away from.”7 At most it may “indicate separation from a place,” but this is with “verbs denoting motion.”8 BDAG does not include in this category, instead offering it as a text in which the preposition serves “to indicate distance [from] a point, away from.”8 That is, the destruction of the wicked will take place away from the presence of God.
Stanley Porter argues that the preposition ἀπὸ (when combined with the genitive case: ἀπὸ προσώπου τοῦ κυρίου) can denote three distinct meanings: first, locative (movement away from); second, temporal (time from which), and finally instrumental (causal, agentive).9 Porter places the text in question in the locative category and translates the verse, “who will pay the penalty, an eternal destruction away from the face of the Lord and away from the glory of his strength.”10
The preposition can also “indicate the point from which [something] begins,” or similarly “origin or source.”11 Traditionalist Gene Green writes,

While the preposition that begins this clause in the Greek text (apo) is construed in the NIV as signaling that the judged will be excluded from the presence of the Lord, the thought is rather that the presence of the Lord is the source from which the judgment proceeds.12

Whatever the case, Paul’s use of ἀπὸ does not warrant inserting the interpretive interpolation “and shut out from” into the translation. Exclusion may be a supplemental connotation of some uses of the preposition, but its use in a translation of truly stretches the word’s meaning and reveals a theological interpretation rather than an attempt at objective translation.13
There are a number of Greek words Paul could have chosen to use had he intended to emphasize the idea of separation. He elsewhere uses χωρίζω to ask rhetorically, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” ().14 He is also familiar with ἀφορίζω, using it to recount his rebuke of Peter for having “separated himself” from Gentiles while eating (). Paul uses neither of these here in Thessalonians, nor any other word that emphasizes separation or exclusion, so the addition of “and shut out from” seems particularly egregious.
But besides the question of translation, there is also the question of existence. Packer writes, “Only those who exist can be excluded,” but this leaves far too many possible interpretations of the verse unexplored.5 One could exist when the Lord returns only to be blasted out of existence by destruction that comes from God’s presence (as Green’s understanding of the preposition ἀπὸ suggests), or destroyed from existence after being separated from the presence of the Lord (as BDAG’s categorization of suggests), or separated by means of destruction from existence (to which Porter’s understanding lends itself). Yes, the wicked must exist in order to be excluded, but they need not go on existing indefinitely, Packer’s assertion to the contrary notwithstanding.
There is additionally the question of the nature of the destruction of which Paul speaks. Packer writes, “It’s often been pointed out that in Greek the natural meaning of the destruction vocabulary (noun, olethros; verb, apollumi) is ‘wrecking,’ so that what’s destroyed is henceforth nonfunctional rather than annihilated altogether.”8 Yet the case for annihilationism does not assume that this destruction vocabulary means such a thing. Annihilationists contend that “the wages of sin is death” (; emphasis added), not metaphysical obliteration, a meaning most definitely within the semantic range of ὄλεθρος.
BDAG defines the word ὄλεθρος as a state or act “of destruction, destruction, ruin, death,” citing its use by Paul in as a case in which a person’s ordinary, physical death is in view.15 Paul uses the word also in , whose background is in Old Testament texts in which the Day of the Lord battle imagery suggests that God’s enemies will not suffer exclusion but death (; ; ). Paul may use the word to refer either to bodily death or “utter destruction” in , either of which is consistent with the annihilationist’s reading of .16
Besides the lexicographical support for annihilationism from the meaning of ὄλεθρος in , there is also support found in the text’s Old Testament background. As traditionalist G. K. Beale notes, “Paul derives the phrase ‘in a blazing fire, giving vengeance’ . . . from . . . the only place in the Old Testament where this combination of terms is found.”17 It is no surprise to annihilationists that the scene in is one of slaughter, of God slaying his wicked enemies (v. 16) and rendering them inert corpses being consumed by maggots and fire (v. 24).18
In the end, then, none of the texts Packer cites actually support his belief that the risen lost will live and suffer forever in hell. Most or all of them prove, upon closer examination, to be better support for the annihilationist’s belief that the resurrected lost will literally die a second time.
After offering up this host of proof-texts (but not sufficiently exegeting any of them), Packer writes,

Annihilationists respond with special pleading. Sometimes they urge that such references to continued distress refer only to the temporary experience of the lost before they’re extinguished, but this is to beg the question by speculative eisegesis and to give up the original claim that the NT imagery of eternal loss naturally implies extinction.5

As we’ve seen, annihilationists needn’t commit any such special pleading. Instead, Packer’s claim that the texts to which he has pointed refer to “continued distress” is no more than a bald assertion. He is the party guilty of eisegesis, reading continued distress into the texts without proper consideration of their contexts.

Divine Justice

In Packer’s third argument against annihilationism, he attempts to demonstrate the self-defeating nature of the claim “that for God to visit punitive retribution endlessly on the lost would be disproportionate and unjust.”8 This is not a claim all of us at Rethinking Hell make, and so we will not seek to defend it. Still, Packer’s response to the argument is problematic.
Packer begins by saying that “there is no reason to think the resurrection of the lost for judgment will change their character, and every reason therefore to suppose their rebellion and impenitence will continue as long as they themselves do.”8 This, he suggests, makes “continued banishment from God’s fellowship fully appropriate.”8 However, this assumes firstly that the proper punishment for sin is primarily torment, such that sin committed in the midst thereof earns oneself additional punitive torment. If, on the other hand, “the wages of sin is death” (; emphasis added), then everlasting exclusion from life can account for any and all sins committed up until one has breathed one’s last.
Packer’s proposal further assumes that eschatological punishment is for sins committed both in this life and after final judgment, when the biblical data seems to indicate that it is only for the former. In the imagery of , for example, the risen lost are judged “according to what they had done” (v. 13; emphasis added), rather than for what they go on to do.
Packer continues, “It is apparent that the argument [that eternal torment is disproportionate to sins committed], if valid, would prove too much.”8 His argument is twofold: First, if justice does not require endless torment, “how can the annihilationists justify in terms of God’s justice the fact that he makes them suffer any postmortem pain at all?”8 This, however, is based on a premise that does not necessarily feature in the annihilationist’s argument, namely that “God’s justice requires no more than extinction.”8 Annihilationists are quick to point out that Jesus died in the place of sinners, but they note also that in dying he suffered.19 Thus annihilationists who hold this position do not necessarily rule out the possibility that justice may require that the wicked suffer some pain. Their argument is based only on the premise that endless pain is disproportionate and thus unjust. Packer anticipates this response, suggesting that if any pain is required by sin, the continued impenitence of the risen lost necessarily earns them everlasting pain.5 Yet as we have seen, the assumptions underlying this claim are unjustified and dubious. Besides, much of the pain Jesus suffered, and which some annihilationists believe the risen lost will suffer, may be little more than a byproduct of the means by which they are executed rather than a distinct element of the penalty they pay.
Second, Packer asks, “Why would not justice, which on this view requires their annihilation in any case, not be satisfied by annihilation at death?”8 Put another way by Sinclair Ferguson, resurrecting the lost to final judgment “must be viewed as some kind of cynical joke in the heart of this All-Righteous God, that he punishes men and women and then raises them from the dead simply to annihilate them out of all existence.”20 This assumes, however, that the only reason God might resurrect the lost is in order to finally execute them. In fact, he may have several other reasons: so that lost sinners may be justly tried and shown to be guilty and deserving of death; so that the redeemed may be present to witness this judgment and the final vindication of God and his people, and to praise him for it; or so that, in the event that dualism is true, the lost may be tried and judged as whole persons rather than as mere disembodied souls.21 For these and other possible reasons God might have for resurrecting the lost and subsequently destroying them, Packer’s objection fails as a rebuttal to the argument for annihilationism from divine justice.
In the end, although some of us at Rethinking Hell do not side with other annihilationists in arguing that eternal torment is inconsistent with divine justice, nevertheless Packer completely fails to substantiate his claim that the “argument thus boomerangs on its proponents.”5

Diminished Joy in Heaven

Some annihilationists have argued, as Packer explains, that “the saints’ joy in heaven would be marred by knowing that some continue under merited retribution,” to which Packer responds by saying, “this cannot be said of God, as if the expressing of his holiness in retribution hurts him more than it hurts the offenders.”8 So Packer concludes,

since in heaven Christians will be like God in character, loving what he loves and taking joy in all his self-manifestation—including the manifestation of his justice (in which indeed the saints in Scripture take joy already in this world)—there is no reason to think their eternal joy will be impaired in this way.8

Again, this is not an argument leveled by us at Rethinking Hell, but Packer’s response fails as a rebuttal for one seemingly very obvious reason: God is grieved in punishing sin and does not take joy in doing so.
“I have no pleasure in the death of anyone,” God says, “so turn, and live” (; cf. v. 23; 33:11). Commenting on , Lamar Cooper writes, “God is not vindictive and takes no pleasure in bringing judgment on the wicked. . . . Judgment is to God a necessity; but what delights him is the repentance of the wicked because it allows him to forgive and restore.”22 Daniel Block concurs, saying, “Yahweh’s . . . a God who is on the side of blessing and life, not on the side of the curse and death (cf. Deut. 30:15–20).”23 As Ralph Alexander explains, “Sinful mankind normally sees judgment as God’s delight. Nothing could be further from God’s desire, else he would not have sent his only Son to be judged on the cross for the sin of the whole world.”24
Texts like this are tempered, of course, by Deuteronomy 28:62–63, in which God warns Israel that if they are not faithful, “because you did not obey the voice of the LORD your God . . . the LORD will take delight in bringing ruin upon you and destroying you.” Yet it is not at all clear that it is the bare act of judging sin in which the Lord delights; it could instead be the knowledge that judgment may spur repentance. For God goes on to say,

And when all these things come upon you . . . and [you] return to the LORD your God, you and your children, and obey his voice in all that I command you today, with all your heart and with all your soul, then the LORD your God will restore your fortunes and have mercy on you . . . For the LORD will again take delight in prospering you. (Deut 30:1–3, 9)

If God does delight simply in knowing he is meting out just punishment for sin even when there is no hope of repentance, it is nevertheless true that it also grieves him to do so. And so Packer’s rebuttal defeats itself: if “in heaven Christians will be like God in character,” then yes, they will delight in justice—but it will also bring them sorrow. Such an incomplete and tarnished bliss surely is inconsistent with the promise John hears issued by God from upon his throne: “Death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” ().

Pithy and Incisive?

J. I. Packer introduced his critical examination of annihilationism by charitably acknowledging that annihilationists are committed to the authority of Scripture. His work is a shining example of exhibiting Christian love while delivering criticism, attributing the best motives to annihilationists rather than encouraging readers to assume the worst. Sadly, TGC reproduces four of Packer’s arguments but omits his charity.
Packer’s charity notwithstanding, the arguments he levels against annihilationism, and which TGC calls “some of the more pithy and incisive points [they’ve] read regarding annihilationism,” fail at every point:

  1. Those who believe annihilation is an eternal punishment have good reasons for understanding as promising that the lifelessness resulting from the cosmic death penalty will last forever.
  2. With virtually no exception, every proof-text Packer cites in support of his belief that the risen lost will live forever in torment proves upon closer examination to be better support for the belief that they will be finally annihilated.
  3. If the argument some annihilationists offer from divine justice is compelling and an eternity of torment is unjustly disproportionate to sins committed, Packer offers no good reason to think the argument defeats itself.
  4. If the redeemed will reflect the character of God in eternity, then like him they would delight in the ongoing and everlasting meting out of justice, but they would also grieve over it, whereas Scripture indicates that our bliss in eternity will be complete.

TGC’s article is a perfect illustration of the failure of contemporary theologians to properly engage with Scripture on the topic of hell. If annihilationism is wrong, Packer fails to provide any reason for thinking so. Meanwhile, TGC has proven only that J. I. Packer is still wrong.

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  1. Gavin Ortlund, “J. I. Packer on Why Annihilationism Is Wrong,” The Gospel Coalition, posted October 7, 2015, http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/j.i.-packer-on-why-annihilationism-is-wrong (accessed October 8, 2015). Ortlund was a breakout speaker at the 2015 Rethinking Hell Conference. An audio recording of his presentation is available for free download here. []
  2. J. I. Packer, “Evangelical Annihilationism in Review,” Reformation & Revival 6, no. 2 (Spring 1997): 37-51. Online: http://www.rethinkinghell.com/research/critical/j-i-packer. []
  3. Chris Date and Nicholas Quient, “Why J. I. Packer is (Mostly) Wrong: A Response to The Gospel Coalition (Part 1),” Rethinking Hell [blog], posted October 23, 2015, http://www.rethinkinghell.com/2015/10/why-j-i-packer-is-mostly-wrong-a-response-to-tgc-part-1 (accessed October 23, 2015). []
  4. Chris Date and Nicholas Quient, “Why J. I. Packer is (Mostly) Wrong: A Response to The Gospel Coalition (Part 2),” Rethinking Hell [blog], posted October 23, 2015, http://www.rethinkinghell.com/2015/10/why-j-i-packer-is-mostly-wrong-a-response-to-tgc-part-2 (accessed October 23, 2015). []
  5. Ortlund, “J. I. packer on Why Annihilationism Is Wrong.” [] [] [] [] []
  6. The NIV, NLT, RSV, NRSV, NCV, and GNT, for example, render the text in this way. More literal translations like the NASB, ESV, and KJV do not utilize the interpretive phrase. []
  7. BDAG, s. v. “ἀπό.” []
  8. Ibid. [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] []
  9. Stanley E. Porter, Idioms of the Greek New Testament, 2nd ed. (Sheffield Academic Press, 1999), 146–147. []
  10. Ibid., 147; emphasis added. []
  11. BDAG, s. v. “ἀπό.” []
  12. Gene L. Green, The Letters to the Thessalonians (Eerdmans, 2002), 292. []
  13. This is not to criticize translators, whose job is quite difficult and at times unenviable. []
  14. See also ; ; Phlm 15. []
  15. BDAG, s. v. “ὄλεθρος.” The destructive nature of the man’s sexual sin, and his likely oppressive conduct towards his stepmother, makes sense within the Old Testament narrative in which sexual sin is regarded as being worthy of death. []
  16. George W. Knight, The Pastoral Epistles: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Eerdmans, 1992), 256. []
  17. G. K. Beale, 1–2 Thessalonians, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series (InterVarsity, 2003), 189. []
  18. Undying worms and unquenchable fire support, rather than challenge annihilationism: Chris Date, “Their Worm Does Not Die: Annihilation and ,” Rethinking Hell [blog], posted July 17, 2012, http://www.rethinkinghell.com/2012/07/their-worm-does-not-die-annihilation-and-mark-948 (accessed October 19, 2015); and Chris Date, “The Fire Is Not Quenched: Annihilation and (Part 2),” Rethinking Hell [blog], posted November 20, 2012, http://www.rethinkinghell.com/2012/11/the-fire-is-not-quenched-annihilation-and-mark-948-part-2 (accessed October 19, 2015). []
  19. Chris Date, “Cross Purposes: Atonement, Death and the Fate of the Wicked,” Rethinking Hell [blog], posted August 12, 2012, http://www.rethinkinghell.com/2012/08/cross-purposes-atonement-death-and-the-fate-of-the-wicked (accessed October 19, 2015). []
  20. Sinclair B. Ferguson, “Universalism and the reality of eternal punishment: The biblical basis of the doctrine of eternal punishment.” Preached at the Desiring God Conference for Pastors, January 29, 1990. []
  21. Joseph Dear, “Double Jeopardy: Why Raise the Dead, Only to Destroy Them?” Rethinking Hell [blog], posted July 22, 2012, http://www.rethinkinghell.com/2012/07/double-jeopardy-why-raise-the-dead-only-to-destroy-them (accessed October 19, 2015). []
  22. Lamar E. Cooper, Ezekiel, The New American Commentary, vol. 17 (Broadman & Holman, 1994), 192. []
  23. Daniel Block, The Book of Ezekiel, –24, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Eerdmans, 1997), 583. []
  24. Ralph H. Alexander, “Ezekiel,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 6 (Zondervan, 1986), 828. []

They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might,

They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might,

They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might,

They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might,

They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might,

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?

39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

10 To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband

1 Corinthians 7:11

11 (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife.

1 Corinthians 7:15

15 But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace.

12 For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party.

They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might,

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.

While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

Wail, for the day of the Lord is near;
as destruction from the Almighty it will come!

Isaiah 13:9

Behold, the day of the Lord comes,
cruel, with wrath and fierce anger,
to make the land a desolation
and to destroy its sinners from it.

15 Alas for the day!
For the day of the Lord is near,
and as destruction from the Almighty it comes.

“Son of man, prophesy, and say, Thus says the Lord God:

“Wail, ‘Alas for the day!’
For the day is near,
the day of the Lord is near;
it will be a day of clouds,
a time of doom for the nations.
A sword shall come upon Egypt,
and anguish shall be in Cush,
when the slain fall in Egypt,
and her wealth is carried away,
and her foundations are torn down.

But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.

They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might,

They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might,

15 “For behold, the Lord will come in fire,
and his chariots like the whirlwind,
to render his anger in fury,
and his rebuke with flames of fire.

66:1 Thus says the Lord:
“Heaven is my throne,
and the earth is my footstool;
what is the house that you would build for me,
and what is the place of my rest?
All these things my hand has made,
and so all these things came to be,
declares the Lord.
But this is the one to whom I will look:
he who is humble and contrite in spirit
and trembles at my word.

“He who slaughters an ox is like one who kills a man;
he who sacrifices a lamb, like one who breaks a dog’s neck;
he who presents a grain offering, like one who offers pig’s blood;
he who makes a memorial offering of frankincense, like one who blesses an idol.
These have chosen their own ways,
and their soul delights in their abominations;
I also will choose harsh treatment for them
and bring their fears upon them,
because when I called, no one answered,
when I spoke, they did not listen;
but they did what was evil in my eyes
and chose that in which I did not delight.”

Hear the word of the Lord,
you who tremble at his word:
“Your brothers who hate you
and cast you out for my name’s sake
have said, ‘Let the Lord be glorified,
that we may see your joy’;
but it is they who shall be put to shame.

“The sound of an uproar from the city!
A sound from the temple!
The sound of the Lord,
rendering recompense to his enemies!

“Before she was in labor
she gave birth;
before her pain came upon her
she delivered a son.
Who has heard such a thing?
Who has seen such things?
Shall a land be born in one day?
Shall a nation be brought forth in one moment?
For as soon as Zion was in labor
she brought forth her children.
Shall I bring to the point of birth and not cause to bring forth?”
says the Lord;
“shall I, who cause to bring forth, shut the womb?”
says your God.

10 “Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her,
all you who love her;
rejoice with her in joy,
all you who mourn over her;
11 that you may nurse and be satisfied
from her consoling breast;
that you may drink deeply with delight
from her glorious abundance.”

12 For thus says the Lord:
“Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river,
and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream;
and you shall nurse, you shall be carried upon her hip,
and bounced upon her knees.
13 As one whom his mother comforts,
so I will comfort you;
you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.
14 You shall see, and your heart shall rejoice;
your bones shall flourish like the grass;
and the hand of the Lord shall be known to his servants,
and he shall show his indignation against his enemies.

15 “For behold, the Lord will come in fire,
and his chariots like the whirlwind,
to render his anger in fury,
and his rebuke with flames of fire.
16 For by fire will the Lord enter into judgment,
and by his sword, with all flesh;
and those slain by the Lord shall be many.

17 “Those who sanctify and purify themselves to go into the gardens, following one in the midst, eating pig’s flesh and the abomination and mice, shall come to an end together, declares the Lord.

18 “For I know their works and their thoughts, and the time is coming to gather all nations and tongues. And they shall come and shall see my glory, 19 and I will set a sign among them. And from them I will send survivors to the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, who draw the bow, to Tubal and Javan, to the coastlands far away, that have not heard my fame or seen my glory. And they shall declare my glory among the nations. 20 And they shall bring all your brothers from all the nations as an offering to the Lord, on horses and in chariots and in litters and on mules and on dromedaries, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, says the Lord, just as the Israelites bring their grain offering in a clean vessel to the house of the Lord. 21 And some of them also I will take for priests and for Levites, says the Lord.

22 “For as the new heavens and the new earth
that I make
shall remain before me, says the Lord,
so shall your offspring and your name remain.
23 From new moon to new moon,
and from Sabbath to Sabbath,
all flesh shall come to worship before me,
declares the Lord.

24 “And they shall go out and look on the dead bodies of the men who have rebelled against me. For their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.”

48 ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’

48 ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

20:1 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while.

Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.

And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, 10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

32 For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live.”

23 Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?

1:1 In the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I was among the exiles by the Chebar canal, the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God. On the fifth day of the month (it was the fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin), the word of the Lord came to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the Chebar canal, and the hand of the Lord was upon him there.

As I looked, behold, a stormy wind came out of the north, and a great cloud, with brightness around it, and fire flashing forth continually, and in the midst of the fire, as it were gleaming metal. And from the midst of it came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance: they had a human likeness, but each had four faces, and each of them had four wings. Their legs were straight, and the soles of their feet were like the sole of a calf’s foot. And they sparkled like burnished bronze. Under their wings on their four sides they had human hands. And the four had their faces and their wings thus: their wings touched one another. Each one of them went straight forward, without turning as they went. 10 As for the likeness of their faces, each had a human face. The four had the face of a lion on the right side, the four had the face of an ox on the left side, and the four had the face of an eagle. 11 Such were their faces. And their wings were spread out above. Each creature had two wings, each of which touched the wing of another, while two covered their bodies. 12 And each went straight forward. Wherever the spirit would go, they went, without turning as they went. 13 As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, like the appearance of torches moving to and fro among the living creatures. And the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning. 14 And the living creatures darted to and fro, like the appearance of a flash of lightning.

15 Now as I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel on the earth beside the living creatures, one for each of the four of them. 16 As for the appearance of the wheels and their construction: their appearance was like the gleaming of beryl. And the four had the same likeness, their appearance and construction being as it were a wheel within a wheel. 17 When they went, they went in any of their four directions without turning as they went. 18 And their rims were tall and awesome, and the rims of all four were full of eyes all around. 19 And when the living creatures went, the wheels went beside them; and when the living creatures rose from the earth, the wheels rose. 20 Wherever the spirit wanted to go, they went, and the wheels rose along with them, for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels. 21 When those went, these went; and when those stood, these stood; and when those rose from the earth, the wheels rose along with them, for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels.

22 Over the heads of the living creatures there was the likeness of an expanse, shining like awe-inspiring crystal, spread out above their heads. 23 And under the expanse their wings were stretched out straight, one toward another. And each creature had two wings covering its body. 24 And when they went, I heard the sound of their wings like the sound of many waters, like the sound of the Almighty, a sound of tumult like the sound of an army. When they stood still, they let down their wings. 25 And there came a voice from above the expanse over their heads. When they stood still, they let down their wings.

26 And above the expanse over their heads there was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like sapphire; and seated above the likeness of a throne was a likeness with a human appearance. 27 And upward from what had the appearance of his waist I saw as it were gleaming metal, like the appearance of fire enclosed all around. And downward from what had the appearance of his waist I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and there was brightness around him. 28 Like the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud on the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness all around.

Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”