When the wicked have once received their punishment, how enduring will be its effect?
"And these shall go away into everlasting punishment; but the righteous into life eternal." Matt. 25:46.
What is the punishment for sin?
"For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Rom. 6:23.
NOTE: This is the very opposite of eternal life. Everlasting punishment, then, is everlasting death, a death that lasts forever.
How many deaths are there for the wicked?
"But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murders, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death." Rev. 21:8.
NOTE: Good and bad men are alike subject to the first death, but this is a temporal death, which lasts only till the resurrection. After the cases of all men are settled in the judgment, the wicked then die the second death, which is eternal in its effects.
In this fire will there be torment? and how long will it last?
"He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up forever and ever." Rev. 14:10, 11.
NOTE: The Greek term translated in this text "forever and ever," has different meanings; according to the connection in which it is used, such as, duration, finite or infinite; unlimited duration, past or future; time, age, lifetime; the world, universe. Greenfield.
How is the term understood in the case of certain Hebrew servants?
"His master shall bore his ear through with an awl; and he shall serve him forever." Ex. 21:6.
NOTE. - He could not serve his master longer than he lived.
For how long a time did Samuel's mother lend him to the Lord to serve in the temple?
"I will bring him, that he may appear before the Lord, and there abide forever." "Therefore also I have lent him to the Lord; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the Lord." 1 Sam. 1:22, 28.
NOTE. - In this case it is definitely stated to be ''as long as he liveth." Had Samuel lived only a week or a month, the "forever" would have been limited to a week or a month. It is evident that the term "forever" often means "limited duration."
How long was Jonah carried in the whale's belly through the depths?
"I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me forever." Jonah 2:6.
NOTE: In this case "forever" is limited to three days.
What is the nature of the fire into which the wicked will finally be cast?
"Then shall He say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the Devil and his angels." Matt. 25:41.
What is said of this fire in another place?
"He will thoroughly purge His floor, and gather His wheat into the garner; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." Matt. 3:12.
NOTE: The fire is said to be everlasting because it is not "quenched." If fire is quenched after taking hold upon a house, the structure is saved; but if the fire is unquenchable, it does for the house just what the last quoted text says it will do with the chaff (the wicked) namely burn it up. Such a
fire is called "everlasting," because it lasts as long as there is anything for it to prey upon, and because its results are everlasting.
Has everlasting or eternal fire ever been visited upon men in the past?
"Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire." Jude 7.
What was the result of this eternal fire upon those cities?
"And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly." 2 Peter 2:6.
NOTE: "Everlasting" fire converted these cities into ashes, and the apostle says they were made an ensample to those who should after live
ungodly. We cannot for a moment suppose that those cities are now burning; for the saline waters of the Dead Sea rollover the very spot where they stood.
What will be the final effect of this fire on the wicked?
"Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power." 2 Thess. 1:9.
Where must one go to escape from the presence of the Lord and the glory of His power?
"Whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven; thou art there: ...if I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there shall thy hand lead me." Ps. 139:7-10.
NOTE: A time is coming when the glory of the Lord shall fill the earth as the waters cover the sea (Hab. 2:14). That the wicked will have been punished (in the lake of fire surrounding and purifying our earth) "with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power," Then the righteous shall occupy the new earth, and shall "delight themselves in the abundance of peace." (Hab. 2:11; 2 Peter 3:10-13; Rev. 21:1, 5).