Conditionalists often make bold claims. For example, we are known to say—with an even blend of sincerity and hyperbole—that our view appears on virtually every page of the Bible. We’re often quick to point out that serious defenders of the eternal torment view will only focus on three or four key verses. And we’ll claim that even these texts provide better support for conditionalism, upon closer examination (take Matt 25:46 for example, or 2 Thess 1:9).

Are our strong statements just a case of over-confidence? Some people think so. Advocates of eternal torment like Jerry Walls and Gregg Allisson were taken aback when encountering them (you can read Glenn People’s reply to Walls here!). In fact, we’ve been accused by critics of everything from ignorance to hubris! In a climate where it is polite to say that everybody’s perspective is valid, and everybody has their own set of verses, why are conditionalists so dogmatic? Why does Rethinking Hell make such strong statements when championing conditionalism, despite also being strong promoters of dialogue?

Part of the reason is the principle that the Bible should be expected to be clear about such an important subject, including with the terms it uses. Defenders of eternal torment will often say, albeit mistakenly, that Jesus spoke more about hell than about heaven, meaning that we should understand and heed his solemn warnings. So there is often the same kind of conviction about the clarity of biblical teaching on the side of eternal torment as well. This article puts that claim to the test.

The claim of the clarity of eternal torment

The Bible describes Hell or the place of final punishment with terms like “eternal punishment,” “unquenchable fire,” “death,” “destruction,” “Gehenna” and “lake of fire.” A key question in the debate is whether this language describes eternal torment.

When debating this question traditionalists sometimes claim that it is simply not possible to express the doctrine of eternal torment any clearer than the biblical authors do.

After J. I. Packer in Hell Under Fire discusses the biblical material and concludes that it teaches eternal torment, he asks this question: “How could our Lord and his apostles have made this belief any clearer? What more could they have said that they did not say had they wanted to put everyone out of doubt that this was indeed their meaning?” (Loc 4425).

Dr. Kevin Zuber poses the same question to Edward Fudge on the radio show Up For Debate aired on December 14th 2013:

“How would, if indeed the New Testament authors, if Jesus, if the apostles, if the New Testament wanted to communicate unending punishment, conscious punishment, what other terms could they have used in order to express that, that would get around your semantic objections that ‘eternal’ and ‘death’ means annihilation? What else could they have said to communicate eternal conscious punishment?”

I take Packer’s and Zuber’s questions to be rhetorical. The claim that lays behind the question is straightforward: not only does the Bible teach eternal torment, the biblical authors could not have been clearer in their affirmation of the doctrine.

What is the significance of this claim?

Let me be clear: I don’t think the traditionalist’s case depends on whether we can think of any way in which the Bible could have more clearly communicated eternal torment. The question of to what degree of clarity the Bible teaches that doctrine will not settle the debate.

Still, the issue of degree of clarity is significant. Why? Let’s assume that Packer and Zuber are right in their assertion—it is not possible to express the doctrine of eternal torment with greater clarity than what we see done in the Bible. This would strengthen the case for traditionalism. The only thing left for the traditionalist to do would be to point to any apparent ambiguity in the passages that conditionalists or universalists use to argue for their view, and the traditionalist would be seen to have the stronger biblical case.

Now, let’s assume that Packer and Zuber are wrong in their assertion—it is possible to express the doctrine of eternal torment with greater clarity than what we see done in the Bible. This would weaken the case for traditionalism, since the traditionalist now has to answer the following question: Why didn’t the Bible express the doctrine of eternal torment with greater clarity if it was possible? I see two possible explanations: either the biblical authors had reasons to muddy the waters—but what reasons?—or, alternatively, the the Bible actually does not teach eternal torment after all.

A method to determine clarity

How can we evaluate Packer’s and Zuber’s claim? One method is to compare the biblical material with alternative texts exploring the same topic. It is largely undisputed that the Qur’an also teaches eternal torment, and as it turns out the book contains a true wealth of verses on the topic. For this reason the Qur’an is fit to serve as a comparative reference.

For the sake of simplicity, I will not be looking at the doctrine as a whole. Instead I will limit the comparison between the Bible and the Qur’an to three statements which I take to be essential to the doctrine of eternal torment. These statements are not to be understood as a definition of the doctrine, but I take them to be central parts of it. Due to the overwhelming material on the topic in both the Bible and the Qur’an I will only be able to take a cursory look at the verses covering the topic in question. Still, even a somewhat superficial comparison will serve the purpose of evaluating Packer’s and Zuber’s claim that the Bible could not have been clearer in communicating the doctrine of eternal torment.

The three statements taken to be central to the doctrine in view are: 1) The lost are in some sense alive for all eternity, unable to escape conscious existence; 2) Hell is an actual place where the lost will exist forever; 3) Pain is a central part of the punishment in Hell, consciously experienced for all eternity.

For each statement I will examine first the biblical and then the qur’anic material.

1) The lost are in some sense alive for all eternity unable to escape conscious existence.

The Bible

The Bible says that death is the penalty for sin (). This is in line with the warning received by Adam: “When you eat from it [the tree] you will certainly die” (). When the penalty is later repeated it becomes clear that physical death is what is in view, not a conscious existence in a state of ”spiritual death”: “You [will] return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return” (3:19).

Throughout the Old Testament God acts in a similar way in wiping out all life on earth during the flood (6:7) and destroying Sodom and Gomorra by the fire from heaven (19:24-28). In both instances the penalty for sin was the ending of life, and both instances were made examples “of what is going to happen to the ungodly” (2. Peter 2:5-6).

In Jesus’ teaching and atoning death we see the same pattern. Repeatedly Jesus contrasts the fate of the lost with life, plain and simple (). He does not give us a contrast based on quality of conscious existence (one being painful, the other blissful). Jesus says that hell is the prospect of God destroying both body and soul (), eliminating the possibility of ‘death’ being some kind of eternal existence experienced by the soul. Jesus himself died on the cross for our sins, but obviously wasn’t endlessly tortured, and so he underwent the same penalty for sin: He lost his life.

Some descriptions of hell are said to imply conscious existence such as the unquenchable fire and undying worm in . But here Jesus is quoting , from which we learn that senseless corpses are what is in view. “Eternal punishment” in is likewise claimed to imply conscious existence, but this is only the case if the concept of eternal torment is read into that phrase (after all, annihilation is also an eternal punishment). In the unbelievers are said to be suffering “everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord.” Exclusion here must entail conscious existence, says the traditionalist. But the NIV is simply adding in the phrase “and shut out,” which is not found in the Greek text. The destruction is actually coming directly from the presence of the Lord. In addition, how can it be possible to sustain conscious existence completely separated from the life-giving God?

In the smoke of the torment of the worshippers of the best is said to rise forever. Doesn’t that imply conscience existence? Revelation is full of strong images that are to be interpreted in accordance with the genre, not read as a literal description of reality. The fate of the worshippers in 14:10 is similar to that of Babylon in and 19. But the city will not exist forever, it will be completely destroyed with no trace of life left (18:21-23). Even the Lake of Fire in which the Devil is said to be tormented for all eternity (20:10) is an image later interpreted to mean to die a second time (20:14), meaning “to be no more” (21:4). This interpretation likewise does not support continued conscious existence.

Finally, we see in the Bible that immortality is granted to the saved, not the lost ( cf. 6:53; ; ; ).

Such objections made by conditionalists serve to show that the first concept (that the lost are in some sense alive for all eternity unable to escape conscious existence) could certainly be expressed clearer in the Bible.

The Qur’an

One of the most commonly used expressions in the Qur’an concerning hell is that the disbelievers will “abide therein eternally.” One such place is 4:168-169:

“Indeed, those who disbelieve and commit wrong [or injustice]—never will Allah forgive then, nor will He guide then to a path. Except the path of Hell; they will abide therein forever. And that, for Allah, is [always] easy.”

In addition to the word ”abiding,” hell is also called the ”residence,” ”refuge” and ”resting place.” It is quite clear that there is no escape from hell. Once a person is there, he or she will be there forever: “They are never to emerge from the Fire” says 2:167.

However, hell being a ”residence” and ”refuge” does not necessitate conscious existence for the lost. They could simply be said to abide in hell forever unconsciously. But this is not the case here. The lost are said to be thinking, listening, talking and even breathing in hell. For all intents and purposes they are consciously alive in hell, a state in which they will remain forever. This is summed up in the following verse where the ”wrongdoers” are said to be able to both drink and cry out while remaining in hell forever:

“We have prepared for the wrongdoers a fire whose walls will surround them. And if they call for relief, they will be relieved with water like murky oil, which scalds [their] faces. Wretched is the drink, and evil is the resting place” (18:29).

The Qur’an says that the lost will be in a conscious state of existence somewhere between life and death: “Indeed, whoever comes to his Lord as a criminal—indeed, for him is Hell; he will neither die therein nor live” (20:74). The doctrine of the lost enduring conscious existence is clearly expressed in several other verses such as 43:77 where the lost will call ”Malik,” the ”keeper” of hell: “And they will call, ‘O Malik, let your Lord put an end to us!’ He will say, ‘Indeed, you will remain.’” Escaping conscious existence is simply impossible: “And for those who disbelieve will be the fire of Hell [Death] is not decreed for them so they may die, nor will its torment be lightened for them. Thus do we recompense every ungrateful one” (35:36).

The Qur’an affirms the first statement (the lost are in some sense alive for all eternity unable to escape conscious existence) with great clarity and surpasses the Bible on this point. I conclude that the Bible could have been clearer in affirming the first statement.

2) Hell is an actual place where the lost will exist forever

The Bible

Gehenna is mentioned eleven times in the Gospels. Its origin is the valley of Ben Hinnom, outside of Jerusalem where historically, child sacrifices and idol worship were said to have taken place (Jere7:31; 19:2-6). At the time of Jesus the place had developed into an eschatological illustration for the fate of the lost.

Although the valley of Ben Hinnom is an actual place, it is hard to say whether that is the case with the eschatological reality Gehenna points to. It is possible for the whole body to be cast ”into” Gehenna (e.g. ) which would seem to indicate that Gehenna is an actual place. On the other hand, the body’s fate ”in” Gehenna in is parallel to a body part perishing, pointing to Gehenna being a place of destruction, not a place for the lost to consciously exist forever. This is the case in where Jesus mentions the worms that do not die and the fire that is not quenched in Gehenna, referencing where the slain enemies of God lie dead. In Jesus says that Gehenna means the destruction of both body and soul, not ongoing conscious existence.

In John sees a lake of fire, a place in which the lost, death and hades are thrown. It would seem odd that the lake would be interpreted as a real place since this would entail the abstract entities, death and hades, existing consciously and even being tormented in the lake. It is far simpler to just follow John’s interpretation of the lake of fire to be a second death (v. 14). Death itself is said not to exist forever in an actual place, but simply to be no more (21:4). The New Testament’s use of Gehenna and the lake of fire points to the fate of the lost being death and destruction rather than a place for the lost to experience eternal conscious existence. Paul’s complete silence on hell being an actual place is further support.

In light of these things, the statement hell is an actual place where the lost will exist forever could have been expressed more clearly.

The Qur’an

The Qur’an speaks of the fire of hell as something that one can be dragged into (44:47) and put into (4:14). This sounds like the language Jesus is using in where it’s said that a body can be ”thrown into Gehenna.” What’s altogether missing in Jesus’ talk about Gehenna is found in abundance in the Qur’an, namely that the lost will stay in hell and experience a conscious existence. In the examination of the qur’anic texts supporting the first statement, I gave several examples of hell being the eternal ”residence,” ”refuge” and ”resting place” for the lost. Once we have established that the Qur’an pictures the lost as consciously existing, the same verses support the notion of hell being an actual place where the lost will exist.

Hell has a “lowest depths” where the hypocrites “will be” (4:145). Hell is a ”lodging” prepared by Allah (18:102) and it’s literally described as a ”place” in 11:98 and 15:43. Finally the Qur’an states in simple terms that the fire, hell itself, is the eternal ”home” of the enemies of God: “…the fire. For them is the home of eternity as recompense for what they, of Our verses, were rejecting” (41:28).

The Fire is clearly a place for the lost—it will be their ”home” for all eternity. The Fire surely is a permanent place of conscious existence for the lost.

I thus come to the same conclusion regarding the second statement (hell is an actual place where the lost will exist forever). The Qur’an affirms it with great clarity and surpasses the Bible on this point. I conclude that the Bible could have been clearer in affirming the second statement.

3) Pain is a central part of the punishment in Hell, consciously experienced for all eternity

Fire is often used in connection to hell. Fire has at least three functions other than to provide light and warmth: it can consume, it can cause pain, and it can purify. Often it is the pain-causing quality of fire that comes to mind when people think of the fire of hell. This has traditionally been the way the fire of hell has been interpreted and has led to the picture of hell as torment.

The Bible

In the Bible the fire is most often used with reference to its ability to consume. God is called a consuming fire (; ). Fire is used to destroy Sodom and Gomorra (). In we read that “the sinners in Zion are terrified; trembling grips the godless: ‘Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?’” The answer is obvious. The godless are not able to dwell in the everlasting burning. Far from being the source of pain, this fire is said to consume and do so with such force that the sinner will not be able to dwell there.

In the chaff which Jesus will throw into the fire will be burned up. The same idea is in view in . Hell will be like a fire completely consuming the lost. Hell is in other words complete destruction. In Gehenna the fire will never be quenched (), says Jesus, quoting where dead bodies are in view. Neither dead bodies nor chaff can feel any pain, and thus pain is simply not in view here. Instead, consummation and destruction are—bodies and chaff alike are consumed by fire.

The only time fire is said to cause pain is in , which is set in the intermediate state, not an eternal hell. The only two places where pain is in view when describing what could be considered hell is in the highly symbolic Revelation and 20. What does the image of pain mean in reality? Babylon’s punishment is described in and 19 in similar terms as the lost in , yet is ultimately destroyed. In the Devil, false prophet and the beast are said to be tormented in the lake of fire. The lost, Death and Hades share a similar fate. But how are we to think of death being tormented? We simply acknowledge that the lake and endless torment is what John sees in his vision. That imagery is later interpreted to mean to die a second time (20:4) without any hint of endless torment.

So the third statement (pain is a central part of the punishment in Hell, consciously experienced for all eternity) is also in doubt, because that concept could have easily been expressed more clearly.

The Qur’an

The Qur’an is unmistakably clear in describing hell as a place of intense pain. “The Fire” is used as a synonym for hell and in contrast to the Bible it’s clear that the fire’s ability to cause pain is in view.

The lost will burn in hell: “There will be sent upon you a flame of fire and smoke and you will not defend yourself” (55:35). Allah proclaims that “We have prepared for the disbelievers chains and shackles and a blaze” (76:4). The disbeliever will “enter” and “burn” in the hell fire. The fire is “intensely hot” and over the disbelievers “will be fire closed in” (90:20).

In hell the disbelievers will be fuel of firewood for the fire: “The Fire, whose fuel is men and stones, [is] prepared for the disbelievers” (2:24).

Serving as fuel they will suffer the consequences of the burning fire: “Seared” with the fire “will be their foreheads, their flanks, and their backs” (9:35). Bear in mind, the lost are said to experience conscious existence in hell and thus “[it will be said], ‘This is what you hoarded for yourselves, so taste what you used to hoard’” (9:35). Can “taste” mean anything else than “feel the pain from”?

The fire is a literal fire, not only searing body parts but also blackening the faces of the lost: “It will be as if their faces are covered with pieces of the night—so dark [are they] These are the companions of the Fire; they will abide therein eternally” (10:27).

The Qur’an is careful to point out that the fire of hell will burn the most sensitive area of the body, the face. The lost will wear “garments of liquid pitch and their faces covered by the Fire” (14:50) and they will not be able to “avert the Fire from their faces or from their backs” (21:39). “The Fire will sear their faces, and they therein will have taut smiles” (23:104) and “their faces will be overturned into the Fire” (27:90). While having their faces “turned about in the Fire” the lost will be able to speak, saying: “How we wish we had obeyed Allah and obeyed the Messenger” (33:66). The lost “are dragged into the Fire on their faces” (54:48) and finally it is said that “We will gather them on the Day of Resurrection, on their faces, blind, dumb, and deaf. Their abode is Hell; whenever it abates, We intensify the blaze for them” (17:97).

The purpose of the fire in hell is not to consume but to torment and cause pain. Thus the lost are said to “be tormented over the Fire” (51:13). Unlike where the Devil, the false prophet and the beast are said to suffer unending torment in the lake of fire, the context of 51:13 provides no reason to interpret the verse non-literally.

Several other passages emphasize the painful nature of the unending existence in the fire or heat of hell. For instance the disbelievers will “abide eternally in the Fire and are given to drink scalding water that will sever their intestines” (47:15). Similarly it is said that “those who disbelieve will have cut out for them garments of fire. Poured upon their heads will be scalding water by which is melted that within their bellies and [their] skins and for [striking] them are maces of iron. Every time they want to get out of Hellfire from anguish, they will be returned to is, and [it will be said], ‘Taste the punishment of the Burning fire!’” (22:19-22). Scalding water melting bellies and skins . . . maces of iron striking . . . the punishment of hell surely and clearly is extreme pain for all eternity.

If the point of pain as punishment wasn’t clear enough from the passages already quoted, the Qur’an makes the point again and again. Angels will strike the disbelievers faces (8:50), they will be dragged in boiling water with shackles around their necks and in chains and will be filled with fire (40:71-72). Curtains of fire will hem them in and “when they cry for relief, they will be relieved with water like molten brass, which scalds the faces. What a miserable drink, and what a terrible place” (18:29).

The place called hell where the disbelievers will abide forever, enduring conscious existence is a place of intense continuous suffering. They will plead: “Our Lord, avert from us the punishment of Hell. Indeed, its punishment is ever adhering. Indeed, it is evil as a settlement and residence” (25:65-66)—but the plea is not heard.

One question remains to be answered, one that traditionalists likewise seek an answer to: Even though the primary purpose of the fire of hell is to inflict pain, the lost are still in some sense being consumed by the fire. To quote the Qur’an: “Indeed, it is the Flame [of Hell], a remover of exteriors (nazzāʿatan lilshawā—literally “a remover of the skin of the head”)” (70:15-16). How then is the eternal conscious existence of the lost being sustained?

We find the Bible completely silent on the matter, which would be surprising if it does teach eternal torment—but expected if it does not. The Qur’an, teaching eternal torment, has an answer: “Those who reject Our verses — We will drive them into a Fire. Every time their skins are roasted through We will replace them with other skins so they may taste the punishment. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted in Might and Wise” (4:56). The answer is simple. In order to ensure both the continued conscious existence and punishment of the painful burning of the fire, Allah will continuously create new skins so that the lost can feel the pain of the intense burning for all eternity.

As was the case with the first two statements the Qur’an affirms the third statement (pain is a central part of the punishment in Hell, consciously experienced for all eternity) and does so clearly. The qur’anic treatment of this statement goes to show that the Bible could have been clearer in affirming the third statement.

Conclusion

To reiterate, J. I. Packer asked: “How could our Lord and his apostles have made this belief any clearer? What more could they have said that they did not say?” Similarly, Dr. Zuber asked: “How would, if indeed the New Testament authors […] wanted to communicate unending punishment, conscious punishment, what other terms could they have used?”

The Qur’an provides the answer. Islam’s holy book shows how the biblical authors “could have made their belief any clearer” had they wanted to communicate that the fate of the lost is eternal torment.

Let me be clear what I am not arguing. I am not arguing that eternal torment is false because it is taught by the Qur’an. That would be a logical fallacy. The Qur’an teaches several doctrines that I myself hold, including monotheism. Additionally, I am not arguing that the Bible should have used the exact language of the Qur’an to communicate eternal torment—I am not claiming that the qur’anic way is the only way to do just that.

What I am arguing is that J. I. Packer’s and Dr. Zuber’s are simply wrong to assert that it is not possible to express the doctrine of eternal torment with greater clarity than what we see done in the Bible. This is demonstrated by comparing the biblical material to the Qur’an.

This fact poses an urgent question to the traditionalist: Why didn’t the Bible express the doctrine of eternal torment with greater clarity if it was possible? In holding fast to the traditional doctrine the traditionalist is forced to acknowledge the awkward reality that the author of the Qur’an—who by the way denies the historicity of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ (4:157-159) and ascribes to Christianity the belief that Mary is a deity “besides Allah” (5:116), clearly misunderstanding the doctrine of the trinity it criticizes—is better at communicating the important doctrine of the fate of the lost than the inspired Word of God.

Luckily, there is an alternative way of explaining the obvious difference in how well the Bible and the Qur’an seem to teach eternal torment: The Bible doesn’t actually teach the doctrine after all!

In and of itself the Bible is more than capable to make that clear. However, we all come to the Bible with preconceived notions that we read into the text. Here the Qur’an can play an important role. In demonstrating how the doctrine of eternal torment is clearly taught it becomes clear that the Bible is teaching something completely different. Just like travelling to a foreign country makes us reflect and look at our own culture with new eyes, the Qur’an makes us see anew what the Bible says and—just as important in a case like this—does not say. Coming back to the Bible after “visiting” the Qur’an we see that the language of eternal torment simply is not found in the biblical material. The biblical authors were not inept communicators, compared to the Qur’an’s. They simply did not teach eternal torment.

 

 

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17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

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

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.”

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

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

10 he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.

18:1 After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was made bright with his glory. And he called out with a mighty voice,

“Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great!
She has become a dwelling place for demons,
a haunt for every unclean spirit,
a haunt for every unclean bird,
a haunt for every unclean and detestable beast.
For all nations have drunk
the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality,
and the kings of the earth have committed immorality with her,
and the merchants of the earth have grown rich from the power of her luxurious living.”

Then I heard another voice from heaven saying,

“Come out of her, my people,
lest you take part in her sins,
lest you share in her plagues;
for her sins are heaped high as heaven,
and God has remembered her iniquities.
Pay her back as she herself has paid back others,
and repay her double for her deeds;
mix a double portion for her in the cup she mixed.
As she glorified herself and lived in luxury,
so give her a like measure of torment and mourning,
since in her heart she says,
‘I sit as a queen,
I am no widow,
and mourning I shall never see.’
For this reason her plagues will come in a single day,
death and mourning and famine,
and she will be burned up with fire;
for mighty is the Lord God who has judged her.”

And the kings of the earth, who committed sexual immorality and lived in luxury with her, will weep and wail over her when they see the smoke of her burning. 10 They will stand far off, in fear of her torment, and say,

“Alas! Alas! You great city,
you mighty city, Babylon!
For in a single hour your judgment has come.”

11 And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn for her, since no one buys their cargo anymore, 12 cargo of gold, silver, jewels, pearls, fine linen, purple cloth, silk, scarlet cloth, all kinds of scented wood, all kinds of articles of ivory, all kinds of articles of costly wood, bronze, iron and marble, 13 cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, frankincense, wine, oil, fine flour, wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and slaves, that is, human souls.

14 “The fruit for which your soul longed
has gone from you,
and all your delicacies and your splendors
are lost to you,
never to be found again!”

15 The merchants of these wares, who gained wealth from her, will stand far off, in fear of her torment, weeping and mourning aloud,

16 “Alas, alas, for the great city
that was clothed in fine linen,
in purple and scarlet,
adorned with gold,
with jewels, and with pearls!
17 For in a single hour all this wealth has been laid waste.”

And all shipmasters and seafaring men, sailors and all whose trade is on the sea, stood far off 18 and cried out as they saw the smoke of her burning,

“What city was like the great city?”

19 And they threw dust on their heads as they wept and mourned, crying out,

“Alas, alas, for the great city
where all who had ships at sea
grew rich by her wealth!
For in a single hour she has been laid waste.
20 Rejoice over her, O heaven,
and you saints and apostles and prophets,
for God has given judgment for you against her!”

21 Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying,

“So will Babylon the great city be thrown down with violence,
and will be found no more;
22 and the sound of harpists and musicians, of flute players and trumpeters,
will be heard in you no more,
and a craftsman of any craft
will be found in you no more,
and the sound of the mill
will be heard in you no more,
23 and the light of a lamp
will shine in you no more,
and the voice of bridegroom and bride
will be heard in you no more,
for your merchants were the great ones of the earth,
and all nations were deceived by your sorcery.
24 And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints,
and of all who have been slain on earth.”

57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me.

to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life;

10 and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,

50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”

30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

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

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.”

28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.

24 For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.

Deuteronomy 9:3

Know therefore today that he who goes over before you as a consuming fire is the Lord your God. He will destroy them and subdue them before you. So you shall drive them out and make them perish quickly, as the Lord has promised you.

29 for our God is a consuming fire.

24 Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the Lord out of heaven.

14 The sinners in Zion are afraid;
trembling has seized the godless:
“Who among us can dwell with the consuming fire?
Who among us can dwell with everlasting burnings?”

12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”

1:1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,

“Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way,
the voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight,’”

John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

12 The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13 And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.

14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

16 Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19 And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20 And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.

21 And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and was teaching. 22 And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. 23 And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, 24 “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” 25 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” 26 And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. 27 And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” 28 And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.

29 And immediately he left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30 Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. 31 And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them.

32 That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. 33 And the whole city was gathered together at the door. 34 And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.

35 And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. 36 And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, 37 and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” 38 And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” 39 And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.

40 And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” 41 Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.” 42 And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. 43 And Jesus sternly charged him and sent him away at once, 44 and said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” 45 But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places, and people were coming to him from every quarter.

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.”

16:1 He also said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his possessions. And he called him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your management, for you can no longer be manager.’ And the manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do, since my master is taking the management away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. I have decided what to do, so that when I am removed from management, people may receive me into their houses.’ So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.

10 “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. 11 If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? 12 And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? 13 No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

14 The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him. 15 And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.

16 “The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it. 17 But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void.

18 “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.

19 “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ 27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house— 28 for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”

14:1 One Sabbath, when he went to dine at the house of a ruler of the Pharisees, they were watching him carefully. And behold, there was a man before him who had dropsy. And Jesus responded to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?” But they remained silent. Then he took him and healed him and sent him away. And he said to them, “Which of you, having a son or an ox that has fallen into a well on a Sabbath day, will not immediately pull him out?” And they could not reply to these things.

Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. 10 But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

12 He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. 13 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”

15 When one of those who reclined at table with him heard these things, he said to him, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” 16 But he said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. 17 And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ 18 But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’ 19 And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’ 20 And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ 21 So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ 22 And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ 23 And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.’”

25 Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.

34 “Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? 35 It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

18:1 And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

15 Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 17 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”

18 And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’” 21 And he said, “All these I have kept from my youth.” 22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 23 But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. 24 Jesus, seeing that he had become sad, said, “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! 25 For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” 27 But he said, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.” 28 And Peter said, “See, we have left our homes and followed you.” 29 And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, 30 who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.”

31 And taking the twelve, he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. 32 For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. 33 And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.” 34 But they understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said.

35 As he drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. 36 And hearing a crowd going by, he inquired what this meant. 37 They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” 38 And he cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 39 And those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 40 And Jesus stopped and commanded him to be brought to him. And when he came near, he asked him, 41 “What do you want me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, let me recover my sight.” 42 And Jesus said to him, “Recover your sight; your faith has made you well.” 43 And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.

14:1 One Sabbath, when he went to dine at the house of a ruler of the Pharisees, they were watching him carefully. And behold, there was a man before him who had dropsy. And Jesus responded to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?” But they remained silent. Then he took him and healed him and sent him away. And he said to them, “Which of you, having a son or an ox that has fallen into a well on a Sabbath day, will not immediately pull him out?” And they could not reply to these things.

Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. 10 But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

12 He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. 13 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”

15 When one of those who reclined at table with him heard these things, he said to him, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” 16 But he said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. 17 And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ 18 But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’ 19 And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’ 20 And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ 21 So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ 22 And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ 23 And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.’”

25 Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.

34 “Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? 35 It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

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.

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.