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The Blue Letter Bible

Don Stewart :: What Is the Nature of the Punishment of the Wicked?

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Don Stewart
From what the Bible says with respect to the nature of the punishment in hell we can make the following observations.

1. Sent Out From God's Presence

Hell can be defined as the total absence of God. Those in hell are sent out from God's presence. People in hell are deprived of everything good. This includes God, His angels, and the righteous believers. Jesus said.

But He [God] will reply, 'I don't know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers! (Luke 13:27).

Paul 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).

2. They Will Remain Sinful

Those in hell will remain sinful for all eternity - their character will not improve. The Bible says.

Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy (Revelation 22:11).

Hell, therefore, will not be a place where people are reformed, it is a place where people are punished.

3. Infliction Of Suffering

Whether the words are to be understood literally or symbolically, those in hell will suffer. Jesus told the story of the rich man who was in Hades, awaiting the judgment of hell.

In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames' (Luke 16:23,24).

4. Suffering Will Be Proportionate To Sin

The suffering in hell is proportionate to the sin the person has committed. Jesus said to one of the cities in His day.

I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town (Matthew 10:15).

5. Loss Of All

Those who die in unbelief will lose everything. This is contrasted to the believer who will be blessed in abundance. Jesus said.

For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have more abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away (Matthew 25:29).

The psalmist wrote of the dead.

Adrift among the dead, like the slain who lie in the grave, whom You remember no more, and who are cut off from Your hand (Psalm 88:5).

Paul made the point clear.

For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out (1 Timothy 6:7).


The Scripture gives certain details with respect to the punishment of the wicked. They will be cast out of the presence of God while remaining sinful forever. They will suffer in this place proportionately to their sin. Everything they had in this life will be lost. It will be a dreadful judgment.
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