Is the Soul Destroyed in Hell?

The church leaders rebuked him for false teaching and removed him from his preaching position, because he taught what few others believed that Hell is not eternal torment. In 2012, the movie, “Hell and Mr. Fudge,” depictsGehenna Hell the “true story” of a preacher who was paid by an opponent of eternal torment in Hell to challenge the idea that Gehenna is an everlasting torment. The preacher, Edward Fudge, concluded that torment in Hell was not eternal. Was Mr. Fudge right about Hell? Are lost souls totally obliterated in Hell and there is no eternal suffering?

Destruction of Body and Soul

What did Jesus mean that body and soul could be destroyed in Gehenna (Matt 10:28)? Many use these words of Jesus as an anchor for doubting the eternal condemnation of Gehenna — or “Hell.” Rather than Hell being the place of everlasting torment, some have deduced that Gehenna fire destroys lost souls into nonexistence. Eternal torment in Hell does appear just to many people. Should such perceived injustice compel believers to reconsider Jesus’s teaching about Hell?

In Matthew 10:28, Jesus taught that God will destroy the soul in Gehenna (cf. Matt 5:29–30). The Greek word translated “destroy” is apollumi. The word is most often translated “lost,” “perished,” “ruined,” or partially “destroyed.” The following study is for a brief observation of how the New Testament uses the Greek word apollumi. This record cites every verse where this Greek word occurs following this sentence.

The Misconception of Annihilation

The Greek word apollumi for “destroy” is the only Greek word translated “lost.” Interpreting this word only as “annihilation” or “extinction” would eliminate the word “lost” from the New Testament. What would be the results of such interpretation?

  • This term refers to that which is lost and saved — not annihilated and saved (Matt 18:11; John 6:12; 17:12; 18:9).
  • The word refers to things lost to ruin like ruined food (John 6:27; cf. Matt 9:17; Mark 2:22; Luke 5:37; John 10:10). Does ruined food mean that the food no longer exists?
  • In similar fashion, apollumi describes how gold is lost (1 Pet 1:7).
  • This word refers to lost sheep (Matt 10:6; 15:24; Luke 15:4–7), to lost hair (Luke 21:18), to a lost reward (Matt 10:42; Mark 9:41; Luke 15:8–9; 2 John 8). Were the sheep annihilated and then found?
  • This is the word for the prodigal son being lost (Luke 15:24, 32). Was this man annihilated and then found?
  • Jesus came to seek and save that was lost (Luke 19:10; John 6:39). Did Jesus save those who were already “completely destroyed”?
  • The word apollumi is also used for losing one’s life to find it (Matt 10:39; 16:25; Mark 8:35; Luke 9:24–25; 17:33; John 12:25).

No Scripture Teaches Annihilation in Hell

This word does not mean “complete extinction” or “total annihilation.” The spirit of the unsaved soul lives in this ruin state. However, are there any scriptures that demonstrate that apollumi means destruction into nonexistence? This simple observations of these scriptures reveal that there are no such passages. The Scriptures use the same word apollumi for “perish” or “death.”

  • Note that Jesus’s death could not mean annihilation of a person’s spirit and soul when Christ’s earthly enemies sought to destroy Him (Matt 27:20; Mark 3:6; Luke 19:47).
  • The Scriptures use this word in describing of others killing people, but the spirit is never depicted as being destroyed or ruined unto annihilation (Matt 2:13; 8:25; 12:14; 21:41; 22:7; 26:52; Mark 11:18; 12:9; Luke 6:9; 9:56; 11:51; 20:16; John 10:28; 18:14; 1 Cor 15:18; Jas 1:11; Jude 5, 9). Can any person destroy another person’s soul?
  • This is the term used in describing the death of those who died in the Flood and those who died in Sodom and Gomorrah (Luke 17:27, 29). Did the Flood and that fire annihilate these souls or simply destroy?
  • The world perished by the Flood and was thus lost, but the earth was not destroyed unto nonexistence (2 Pet 3:6).
  • Jesus taught that God’s will is not for little ones to perish; although, they do (Matt 18:14). The Greek word behind “perish” is apollumi. When little children die, are their souls annihilated? If someone interpreted apollumi as the obliteration of the soul, then Jesus’s words would imply that the souls of children are annihilated into nonexistence. However, Jesus revealed that little children are of the kingdom of God (Matt 19:14).

The word apollumi never means destruction unto complete extinction and nonexistence, but the word means “die” as when the Spirit leaves the body (Mark 4:38; 9:22; Luke 8:24; 13:33; 15:17; John 11:50; Acts 5:37; Rom 2:12; 1 Cor 10:9–10; 2 Cor 4:9; Heb 1:11).

Eternal Punishment in Hell

The word apollumi also refers to the spiritual death of perishing in eternal separation (Luke 13:3, 5; John 3:15–16; Rom 14:15; 1 Cor 1:18–19; 8:11; 2 Cor 2:15; 4:3; 2 Thess 2:10; Jas 4:12; 2 Pet 3:9). Demons feared that they will perish in such torment (Mark 1:24; Luke 4:34; cf. Matt 8:29). Do demons simply fear that they will no longer exist or that they would suffer eternally?

With all the verses now cited where apollumi appears in Scripture, there is not one reference that implies the soul is totally and completely annihilated into no longer existing. The idea of the soul’s extinction in Hell is a mistaken speculation supported by those who do not understand the justness of eternal torment and the severity of sin that eternally separates souls from God and thus results in fiery torment (2 Thess 1:7–9).

When Jesus spoke of “eternal punishment,” He was not referring to a one time punishment of a soul burning into extinction (Matt 25:41). If this is true, then Jesus’s reference to “eternal life” in “the kingdom” may include a one-time event before being dissolved into God (Matt 25:46). In Revelation, God punished those who worshiped the Beast and received his mark with everlasting destruction where there was no rest day or night in torment forever (Rev 14:10–11). These souls were not annihilated, because they had no rest in eternity. The souls of the Beast (the ruler of Rome) and the False Prophet were also sent into eternal torment with Satan (Rev 14:9–10; 19:20; 20:10). With the extent of torment established for all of these, John’s Revelation says that God will cast everyone not written in the Book of Life into this Lake of Fire (Rev 20:15). However, God does not punish everyone the same in Hell (Luke 12:47–48). Gehenna consists of torment as Jesus observed, “there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Matt 13:49–50). Jesus described torment as the place where a person will thirst in darkness, and yet that person is able to see and remember the past life (Luke 16:19–31).

Gehenna is Everlasting

Jesus described Gehenna as a “the everlasting fire” “that shall never be quenched” where the “worm does not die” (Matt 18:8; cf. Isa 66:24; Mark 9:43–48; Rev 21:8). Why is Gehenna fire everlasting and a place where the worm does not die if it is only a temporary punishment? Why are there “everlasting chains of darkness” in Gehenna if this place is only temporary (2 Pet 2:4; Jude 6)? IS this figurative for eternal restraints for those who are annihilated? No. These reveal eternal depictions of Hell as eternal torment.

The Justness of Eternal Condemnation

Eternal condemnation is just for those who profane Christ and God’s image. Observe the severity of sin in Hebrews 10:26–29,

For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?

How can God give such a punishment to those who cannot know Christ? As for children and those of like mental state, God does not. However, God is not far from anyone in any nation that every person can find Him seeing Him in the Creation (Acts 17:26–27; Rom 1:18–21). Everyone has a God-given moral conscience that compels them to repent (Rom 2:1–10, 14–16). Everyone is able to obey the Gospel, because Christ noted that those who seek will find (Matt 7:7). Gehenna is justly eternal torment. God will not completely exterminate souls in Hell. There will be a punishment of “everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord” for those who do not know God and do not obey the Gospel (2 Thess 1:7–9).

Conclusion

If you are still questioning how Hell is just, please read “What Does Jesus Say about Hell being Just and Eternal?” If you are wondering how a biblical student like Edward Fudge could conclude that Hell is not eternal for everyone, then imagine someone misunderstanding the justness of Hell, having an incomplete study of apollumi, and misusing a few Greek lexicons. With good intentions, a person can harmonize such a fallacious understanding, but such a study is not diligent enough to produce truth and the consequences are eternal.

May God bless you in your studies.

About Scott J Shifferd

Minister, church of Christ in Jacksonville, FL. Husband and father of four. Email: ScottJon82[at]yahoo.com
This entry was posted in Christian, Church of Christ and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Is the Soul Destroyed in Hell?

  1. Smm says:

    Scott and Martin,
    Perhaps both of you have a great discussion going on, but are getting lost in translation via accusations and assumptions through the typed, reply medium. More often than not points, meanings, and explanations are misconstrued via text and email formats, and the like. Martin, if you truly want to have a discussion and not an argument maybe you guys should talk on the phone or in another format. It sounds like both sides’ points are being shadowed by assumptions and inferences of the other, which is somewhat unfair to both of you. I think it’s wonderful you want to communicate! I’m suggesting this because multiple times I’ve been misunderstood and misquoted because of what I have typed, Posted, text, etc.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I reread the comments. I forgot how funny our conversation was. I can’t stop laughing. I thought Martin was using satire.

      Like

      • Smm says:

        Well maybe i’m the one reading it wrong then! :-) I’m glad you got a laugh… God bless!

        Like

      • martin says:

        Argumentum ad absurdum

        Would you like to read something really absurd Scott?

        Gehenna is a place here on earth.
        Gehenna is the place Jesus said the wicked could suffer.
        We inhabit a planet upon which people are tormented day and night.
        This planet is suspended in outer darkness, orbiting a massive fireball, in a universe consisting of practically nothing else but fireballs.
        Revelation is written in past tense.
        Heaven and earth pass away together. When the first heaven and first earth pass away, the new heaven and new earth would be the second heaven and second earth. The new testament speaks of a man taken up to the 3rd heaven. The 3rd heaven must therefore exist, meaning this must also be the 3rd earth.
        The Hebrew in Genesis 1 reads that the earth had become formless and void. This would have been the 2nd earth. The creation account in Genesis 1 is the restoration of earth, the formation of the 3rd earth.
        An age is the lifespan of an earth, the time from creation to when we destroy it, in much the same way we are destroying this one.
        Our universe fits perfectly the description of a lake of fire.
        We are in it now, preexistence must be true. God is just, we wouldn’t be in here for nothing.
        We on the left hand (Manasseh, which means make to forget), have forgotten our past existence that resulted in our being put here in Tartarus.
        Jesus came in here to get us out.
        Justinian was not the church, he was a Roman emporer who forced anathemas on the church.
        The institutions who distribute bibles and call themselves the church today and educate bible scholars are not the church at all, they are the wolves Jesus warned us about.
        The church was slaughtered through the centuries by inquisition etc.
        Have you ever studied what the Cathars and Bogomils believed?
        YHWH is not God, YHWH is the devil.
        YHWH is not “the Lord “, Jesus alone is Lord.
        Jesus told the Pharisees their father was the devil. Jesus meant YHWH, who cursed and commanded genocide and gave the law of sin and death, the worshipers of YHWH have faced nothing but calamity.
        Of course in addition to countering this logic with argumentum ad absurdum, you could try argumentum ad populum, or if you want to try really hard you could use argumentum ad hominem if you dug deep into who I am and what I’ve done.
        YHWH makes blind. Jesus makes the blind see.
        Do you really believe that it was Jesus who met Paul on the road to Damascus?
        Pharisee infiltrator of the church bringing with him the belief that YHWH is God.
        If YHWH is your father in heaven who you pray to in Jesus name, your father is the devil.
        The angel YHWH is not the father of Jesus, the Holy Spirit is the father of Jesus, it was the Holy Spirit who overshadowed Mary.
        Ye Shuah god of salvation.
        Ye Hawa, Hayya, Hova god who causes to fall, god of destruction, Apollyon.
        Laugh away fellas, God bless.

        Like

  2. Tim says:

    Interesting to note the scriptural use of the word “forever” for example in Jonah 2:6, but we know he eventually got out.
    As for the fate of the wicked, you get a clearer view from reading the start of Malachi 4 (wicked reduced to ashes and no roots/branches left), and Psalm 37. Psalm 104:35 is also clear about what will happen to the wicked. Also consider that Sodom and Gomorrah went into the eternal fire Jude 7, 2 Peter 2:6 and are not still smoldering away today.
    Something does not have to completely disappear into the vacuum of space to be considered annihilated. If the original person has been rendered permanently unconscious by whatever happened to them it seems silly to say the person is not annihilated because you found their leg lying on the ground.

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  3. George Chhungte says:

    good information.Thank you for writing about Hell .I firmly believe that there is heaven and hell.there is still a lot of people even christian who do not believe in hell

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Martin says:

    If Hades (not Hell) used by Jesus in THE PARABLE in Luke 16:19-31 is Hell, a literal place of eternal torment, then Abraham’s bosom must be Heaven, a place from where you can literally watch people you love being tormented forever and ever and you can’t do a thing to help them. Is that your idea of Heaven? This PARABLE is the only time Hades is mentioned as a place of torment, and the description is generally understood to be that of Hades in Greek mythology, not Sheol in Hebrew thought which is what Hades is understood to be, where the dead sleep. The place of torment is Gehenna. Gehenna is a literal place here on earth. The place where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth and day and night torment is here on Earth (Tartarus) in outer darkness in the Lake of Fire (our Universe). I once did a study on the phrase “the third” and joined the dots. I have a strong suspicion we are the third of angels thrown out of Heaven. I use Youngs Literal Translation a lot and it has been eye opening. Gehenna of the fire, not fire of Gehenna. Apollumi appears to me to be a compound word, implying destruction of separation. We are physically separated from God here, but He is with us in spirit.

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    • Please, reread this article and the scriptures. Your references to Gehenna, torment, Tartarus, and outer darkness shows that your study is not complete.

      You need to study some more in the Greek text. Apo is a prefix and a preposition in its single use. Etymology is secondary to definition. Word use is the first definer. See article for an example of defining apollumi.

      Lastly, Jesus does not mention in Luke 16 anyone watching lost family members burn in Hell. Thank you for your comment. God bless your studies.

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      • Martin says:

        Hades, Gehenna and Tartarus all appear in the Greek and they all mean different things.
        Who was Lazarus asking to put water on his tongue? Couldn’t they see him or talk to him?
        So many accusations, where do they come from?
        “Your study is not complete”
        “You need to study more in Greek”
        Ad-hominem is not a very effective form of debate and its quite nasty, even if you put a “God bless” on the end of it, if you believe someone is wrong its much nicer to explain why. If you don’t have time, please don’t be nasty, I didn’t come here to fight with you, I just came to share my insights.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I am sorry that you are offended. My points still stand. If you have questions about my reply or the article, you can ask them here.

          Like

          • Martin says:

            I did ask a few questions, you didn’t answer any of them. You didn’t seem to address any of my points, you seemed to entirely dismiss everything I wrote.

            “I’m sorry that you are offended” is not the same thing as “I am sorry I offended you”. If you are genuinely sorry it should be for your actions, not my feelings.

            Do you understand what I meant when I said that ad-hominem is not an effective form of debate? If you do not apply logic in your response you cannot convince me merely by saying “My points still stand”.

            I noticed a mistake in what I wrote (oops). In the parable, the rich man, Lazarus and Abraham are having a conversation and they can see each other. It is the rich man who asks to have his tongue cooled, not Lazarus.

            If Lazarus and Abraham could see the rich man in torment, would we not likewise be able to see our loved ones in torment that didn’t make it? And hear them ask us for help? And not be able to help them? Would that be Heaven for us?

            I noticed you are Church of Christ. Are you ICOC?

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            • Martin, You are the one being rude here. You have not presented any points that were not addressed in the article. You make false accusations. Now, you insult me by asking if I am in the International church denomination. Be kind and honest. Read the article.

              Liked by 1 person

            • Martin says:

              Dear Scott,

              I did not come here to insult you, if I did, I am sorry, I had no intention of insulting you.

              Am I making you angry? Do you not like it when people ask you questions?

              Please be patient with me.

              Scott, the only accusations I can see I made towards you are these: –

              “I did ask a few questions, you didn’t answer any of them. You didn’t seem to address any of my points, you seemed to entirely dismiss everything I wrote.”

              and

              “I see you are Church of Christ”

              Are these false accusations?

              In addition to the previous accusations you have made towards me, you now add that I am rude and dishonest. Is my now accusing you, of you accusing me, also a false accusation?

              Have you answered any of my questions?
              How can asking you if you are ICOC be an insult?
              How can asking you if you are ICOC even be rude?
              Is it rude to ask people questions?
              Is it rude not to answer someone’s question?
              Have you ever done any reading on logical flaws in arguments?
              Does everything ever created belong to God?
              Can God lose anything?
              Is God love all of the time or only for a limited time?
              Is God merciful all of the time or only for a limited time?
              Are there any other options apart from Heaven or Hell?
              Are you in Heaven now?
              When God says that He will restore “all things”, is anything excluded?
              If Jesus said that the path is narrow and few find it, where would that position the majority view?
              Does your continued assertion for me to read your article automatically render your entire article infallible?
              Do you believe I made my comments before having read your article?
              Has it ever occurred to you that there might be another way of looking at things, other than the way you now see them?
              Do you believe that your study is complete and you have nothing new to learn?

              I ask questions all the time because I know that I don’t know everything, if I don’t ask questions I will never learn anything new. I do not have to believe anything just because a lot of other people believe it, I can believe whatever I want to believe, and I base my beliefs on my personal bible study and study of history and (I hope) rational thought.

              I come to pages like yours reading other peoples views (your article is just your view, perhaps influenced by the views of others) sharing my insights in the hope that I will receive feedback on my insights to adjust them if anyone points out there is anything logically wrong with what I believe. My mind is open to accept that I could be wrong, if it wasn’t open I would never learn anything new. Being a disciple and being teachable to me means keeping an open mind.

              I have written a 7 page paper on Hell which includes a brief summary of early church history and the beliefs of the early church, would you like to read it? If you would, please send me your email address and I’ll send it to you, you might then have more insight into where I am coming from.

              blessings,
              Martin

              Like

        • Pedi says:

          “I have written a 7 page paper on Hell which includes a brief summary of early church history and the beliefs of the early church, would you like to read it?”
          Hello,
          I found this page with your commentarys. And Iam interesting in your study.
          Would you please send it to me?
          Thanks, Pedi

          Liked by 1 person

        • handsomeone says:

          Hi there;
          What is a secret? What is a mystery? are they the same or are they different?

          What is a parable? What is a true story? are they the same or are they different?

          If you don’t know what a parable is? Then you will never know the secrets of the kingdom. For the Master Teacher taught in parables; Why did he teach in parables?

          1 These also are proverbs of Solomon which the men of Hezekiah, king of Judah, transcribed.
          2 It is the glory of God to conceal a matter,
          But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.

            3 As the heavens for height and the earth for depth,
                  So the heart of kings is unsearchable.
          
            4 Take away the dross from the silver,
                  And there comes out a vessel for the smith;
          

          Prov 25
          Why do you waste your time on English words such as “Hell” when Jesus spoke in Hebrew and the Greek languages? Numbers 23:19 and 1Cor 13:6 tells me that their is no Hell other wise 1Cor 13:6 would be a lie? Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the Truth. Is Christ divided? No! What type of river flows from the throne of God? Is it a salty river? or a pure river? A tree is known by its fruit? What are the fruits of the Spirit,
          Love joy peace patience kindness goodness faithfulness gentleness and self-control against such things there is no law Gal 5

          All scripture is God breathed? Did Jesus speak in English? I know He could of if he wanted too, but He didn’t He only spoke in Hebrew and Greek. But in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son. Heb 1:2 and what does John 6:63 say do you believe it

          bless u bro

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Moses says:

    What about those who call whistling,compliments,staring, “hassling” and think supposedly think its “unwanted” and they need their “permission”, you don’t think they will be in hell? I think they will be whether they are destroyed there or not.

    Like

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