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The Blue Letter Bible

Don Stewart :: Does the Bible Teach That the Wicked Will Be Punished?

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Don Stewart
The idea that God will punish the wicked in the next world has always been a subject of controversy. Hell, or everlasting punishment, is one of the first doctrines of the Christian faith that is rejected by unbelievers. It is relegated to the realm of mythology - to a time when people had a more primitive, superstitious view of God and the world.

The Bible Says Yes

Will God judge the wicked? The Bible gives a definite answer of yes to the question. God's judgment does not consist of word only. It is not just a mere formality - there is a real and terrible punishment to follow for those who do not believe in Him.

Old Testament

The Old Testament spoke of the judgment of the wicked. God said.

And they shall go out and look at the dead bodies of the people 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 (Isaiah 66:24).

Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt (Daniel 12:2).

New Testament

The New Testament continues the theme of the punishment for the wicked. John the Baptist said concerning the fate of the unrighteous.

His [Jesus] winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean His threshing floor and will gather His wheat into the granary; but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire (Matthew 3:12).

Jesus Himself

It may be surprising to some people that the fullest and clearest teaching on the subject of hell is by the Lord Jesus Himself. Jesus spoke of the judgment of the wicked in both direct sayings and parables.

Direct Statements

By direct statements, Jesus made it clear that the wicked were going to be punished. He spoke of a gate that would lead to destruction.

Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it (Matthew 7:13).

Jesus spoke of the doom of the false prophets.

And then I will declare to them, I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness (Matthew 7:23).

Dreadful Punishment

He spoke of the punishment of the wicked in the following manner.

And whoever causes one of these little ones who believe to stumble, it would be better for them if, with a heavy millstone hung around their neck, they had been cast into the sea. "And if your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed, than having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire, "And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame, than having your two feet, to be cast into hell, "And if your eye causes you to stumble, cast it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes, to be cast into hell, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched (Mark 9:42-48).


Jesus also spoke of the judgment of hell by means of parables. He told the story of a slave who had thought that his master had delayed his coming. The slave acted as follows.

But if that slave says in his heart, 'My master will be a long time in coming,' and begins to beat the slaves, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk; the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him, and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces, and assign him a place with the unbelievers. "And that slave who knew his master's will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, shall receive many lashes, but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few. And from everyone who has been given much shall much be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more (Luke 12:45-48).

Ten Bridesmaids

In the parable of the ten maidens, or bridesmaids, Jesus illustrated His coming by means of a wedding party. The following dialogue occurred between the groom and the unprepared maidens who were refused entrance to the wedding.

Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, 'Lord, lord, open to us.' But he replied, 'Truly I tell you, I do not know you' (Matthew 25:11-13).

Other Passages

There are other passages that teach the wicked will be punished. Paul wrote.

But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath, when God's righteous judgment will be revealed. For He will repay according to each one's deeds: to those who by patiently doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, He will give eternal life; while for those who are self-seeking and who obey not the truth but wickedness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be anguish and distress for everyone who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek (Romans 2:5-9).

The Apostle Paul also wrote.

These will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, separated from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His might (2 Thessalonians 1:9).

In the Book of Revelation we find an angel saying.

Then another angel, a third, followed them, crying with a loud voice, "Those who worship the beast and its image, and receive a mark on their foreheads or on their hands, they will also drink the wine of God's wrath, poured unmixed into the cup of his anger, and they will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image and for anyone who receives the mark of its name" (Revelation 14:9-11).


The Bible says that the unrighteous will be punished. The idea of the final punishment of the wicked is a theme found in both testaments. The words of the Lord Jesus are the strongest in the Bible on the subject. There is no doubt that the Scriptures sees a judgment for the unbelievers in the afterlife.
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