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The Blue Letter Bible

Don Stewart :: What Terms Does the Bible Use to Describe Hell, or Everlasting Punishment?

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Don Stewart
The place of everlasting punishment has a number of descriptive terms in Scripture. They include.

1. Place Of Souls Of The Wicked

Hell is the place of the souls of the wicked. Jesus said.

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (Matthew 10:28).

2. Fiery Furnace

The term fiery furnace is used as a description of punishment.

and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 13:42)

Death by fire was the severest penalty under the Jewish law, and it was only inflicted for the most shameful sins. Moses wrote.

If a man marries a woman and her mother, it is wickedness. They shall be burned with fire, both he and they. . . The daughter of any priest, if she profanes herself by playing the harlot, she profanes her father. She shall be burned with fire (Leviticus 20:14, 21:9).

Joshua said.

And Joshua said, 'Why have you troubled us? The Lord will trouble you this day.' So all Israel stoned them with stones; and they burned them with fire after they stoned them with stones (Joshua 7:25).

3. Place Of Unquenchable Fire

Hell is place of unquenchable fire. John the Baptist said.

He [Jesus] will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire (Matthew 3:12)

Jesus also emphasized the nature of this punishment.

And if your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire (Matthew 18:8).

Jude said.

As Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them . . . are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire (Jude 7).

4. Weeping And Gnashing Of Teeth

Hell is a place of crying and gnashing of teeth. Jesus said.

The Son of Man will send His angels, and they will collect out of His kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 13:41-42).

5. Place Of No Rest

Hell is a place of no rest.

And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name (Revelation 14:11).

6. Condemnation

Hell is a place of condemnation.

I tell you, on the day of judgment you will have to give an account for every careless word you utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned (Matthew 12:36,37).

7. Destruction

The place of final judgment is a place of destruction. Paul wrote.

For them this is evidence of their destruction, but of your salvation. And this is God's doing (Philippians 1:28).

Jesus said.

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it (Matthew 7:13).

Destruction means loss or ruin, it does not mean annihilation or non-existence.

8. Separation From God's Presence

Unbelievers will be separated from God's presence. Paul said Jesus would return.

in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, separated from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His might (2 Thessalonians 1:8,9).

9. Outer Darkness

Future punishment is described as a place of outer darkness. Jesus said.

But the heirs of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 8:12).

And cast the unprofitable servant into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 25:30).

10. Lake Of Burning Sulfur

Suffering will occur in a lake of burning sulfur.

And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who had performed in its presence the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. (Revelation 19:20).

11. Eternal Suffering

Finally, the suffering in this place will be eternal. Jesus said.

And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life (Matthew 25:46).


The Bible gives a number of descriptions of hell, or the place of final judgment. These are a sobering reminder of what awaits those who do not believe. Suffering in hell will be in intense anguish. People in hell will be isolated from everything else. They will realize they have been permanently cut off from God and everything good.
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