This next section on the word punishment as used in scripture poses another problem when used in connection with the inaccurate translation of aionios meaning eternal. Punishment in scripture has a very different meaning then what we typically think of when using this word. The word punishment is used 27 times in the King James version. There are several words in the original language that are translated to mean punishment. I will focus on the words that are associated with punishment as it is used in regards to hell or eternal punishment as described in the King James version.
I will start with the Greek word “kolasis” which is used in the KJV twice. In one verse it is rendered punishment and in the other verse torment. Let’s look at the two verses;
Matthew 25:46 And these shall go away into everlasting PUNISHMENT: but the righteous into life eternal.
1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath TORMENT. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
The English words punishment and torment both have different meanings but remember that these two different words come from the same Greek word kolasis. The primary definition of this word in biblical use is; correction, punishment, and penalty. The root word of kolasis is kolazō and it also is only used in the KJV twice. The primary definition of this word in biblical use is; to chastise, correct, and punishment. Let’s look at the two verses in which the Greek word kolazō is used to mean punish(ed);
Acts 4:21 So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might PUNISH them, because of the people: for all men glorified God for that which was done.
2 Peter 2:9 The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be PUNISHED:
Now let’s take a closer look at the words in these verses above starting with Matthew 25:46 which is mistranslated due to the use of the word eternal. We already know that eternal (aiōnios) means pertaining to the ages or age abiding so let’s look at another translation of this verse that’s accurately translated;
Matthew 25:46 And these shall be coming away into CHASTENING eonian, yet the just into life eonian. Concordant Literal New Testament
Eoanian here means – pertaining to the eons (eons =ages). Notice in this translation, they use chastening instead of punishment. Here is the problem with the King James Version. The translators of the KJV translated with a certain scary feeling of doom and gloom with their use of certain words. We already see from above that the definition of both Greek words “kolasis” and “kolazō” include the word correction. In a way, they all mean the very same thing but the word punishment just sounds worse especially when you combine it with unscriptural words like eternal and hell.
It is a common belief that God’s punishment involves sending people to the place called hell where people are tortured in real fire for eternity. Let’s take another look at 2 Peter 2:9;
2 Peter 2:9 The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and TO RESERVE the unjust unto THE DAY OF JUDGMENT TO BE PUNISHED:
Do you notice the word reserve in this scripture? What does it mean to reserve something? If I called a popular restaurant and made a reservation, that means that I am confirming that I will be there at a later time but not at the present time. The doctrine of hell teaches that the unjust or unbelieving immediately go directly to hell after death. This verse plainly tells us that the punishment of the unjust is RESERVED until the day of judgement and not in some pagan hell of real fire. All of the evil, unjust, and unbelieving people who have died are at present, reserved in their graves. There will be a day of judgment but not in death. You have to be alive to be punished and this occurs in the resurrection.
John 5:29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. Before we continue, let’s address this word “damnation” as it has been translated in this verse. In theology, damnation is defined as the concept of divine punishment and torment in an afterlife for actions committed on Earth. The word damnation is translated from the Greek word “krisis” and this word is translated as the word is found 48 times in the New Testament. Out of the 48 times “krisis” is translated, it was translated as the word “judgment” 41 times proving that damnation is not an appropriate translation for the Greek word krisis. Judgment always denotes correction and setting things right even in human courts.
Psalm 9:8 And HE SHALL JUDGE THE WORLD IN RIGHTEOUSNESS, he shall minister judgment to the people in uprightness.
Acts 17:31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which HE WILL JUDGE THE WORLD IN RIGHTEOUSNESS by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto ALL MEN, in that he hath raised him from the dead.
Let’s explore some of the history of God’s punishment towards Israel as it is recorded in the Old Testament.
Now we should know that the Israelite’s were many times out of the favor of God due to sinning against Him by worshiping false gods and taking responsibility for building their own empire instead of giving the honor and glory to God. God punished the Israelite’s many times allowing them to be led into captivity and ultimately having their earthly kingdom destroyed. Let’s look at some scriptures that explain God’s relationship with the Israelite’s considering that they often failed to live up to the covenant that God established with them;
Psalm 78:10-11 They KEPT NOT THE COVENANT OF GOD, and REFUSED TO WALK IN HIS LAW; And FORGAT HIS WORKS, and his wonders that he had shewed them. This sure sounds like when they died, they would be good candidates for the place called hell.
2 Kings 17:7-8 For so it was, that THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL HAD SINNED AGAINST THE LORD THEIR GOD, which had brought them up out of the land of Egypt, from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods, And WALKED IN THE STATUTES OF THE HEATHEN, whom the Lord cast out from before the children of Israel, and of the kings of Israel, which they had made. Surely this means they went to hell right? They sinned against God and lived like wicked people. We know people like this today don’t we? They say one thing and do something totally different. We call these kind of people hypocrites. Don’t hypocrites go to hell?
Jeremiah 32:30 For THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL AND THE CHILDREN OF JUDAH HAVE ONLY DONE EVIL BEFORE ME from their youth: for THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL HAVE ONLY PROVOKED ME TO ANGER WITH THE WORK OF THEIR HANDS, saith the Lord. Things aren’t looking too good for the children of Israel and Judah. They have to be in hell because they pissed God off.
Amos 9:8 Behold, THE EYES OF THE LORD GOD ARE UPON THE SINFUL KINGDOM, and I WILL DESTROY IT FROM OFF THE FACE OF THE EARTH; saving that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, saith the Lord. This has to mean there is absolutely no hope for sinning, blaspheming, backstabbing Israel right?
Listen to me, Israel turned their backs on God and they crucified his son Jesus Christ (really we all crucified Christ but they literally had it done). The Jews are guilty of the greatest sin in the world because they were given the original covenant from God. They broke the covenant, they sinned against God, and if we use the same evil teaching and belief of Christians, the Israelite’s deserve to be eternally punished in hell, right? Wrong…
Isaiah 55:8 For MY THOUGHTS ARE NOT YOUR THOUGHTS, NEITHER ARE YOUR WAYS MY WAYS, saith the Lord. We cannot understand everything pertaining to God’s ultimate plan for mankind. That is why people make stuff up to try and make sense of it all.
So what is the final fate of Israel considering the terrible things they did to God?
Romans 11:26 And so ALL ISRAEL SHALL BE SAVED: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: God punishes but He will never sentence any of His creation to the evil man-made place of literal fire burning torture called hell.
Why is it so hard for us to understand that God will save all of humanity? Humans are evil and people like the idea of bad people being held responsible for their actions. My question is what crime on a human level would merit the consequence of eternal punishment in hell? Would raping 1,000 babies be sufficient? What about blowing up every single elementary school in America? Would that work? Maybe dropping a nuclear bomb on a whole continent killing everyone? Any objections? Try to think of the most evil punishment your brain can come up with. What do you think about this?
Revelation 21:8 But the FEARFUL, AND UNBELIEVING, and the abominable, and murderers, 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. When you read Revelation 21:8, understand that the fearful, unbelieving, and liars are “grouped” together with murderers. With earthly human knowledge should a habitual liar receive the same punishment as a serial killer? Would that even make sense or be fair? Of course not and this is common sense to any human.
So let me ask you this; do you think that people who are fearful deserve to burn in hell for eternity? What about people who don’t believe? What about liars? Being timid (fearful) isn’t a crime worth jail time on a human level neither is lying (it can be in some situations) or not believing. So we look at these things as being trivial but God makes them a matter of eternal significance? Do you not see that in thinking this way, God is shoved into a little bitty teeny weeny box that makes his wisdom lower than that of a man? This is blasphemy towards God when man thinks this way but fortunately for most, this is done out of ignorance rather than defiance. You will definitely want to read the section on the Lake of Fire: This is a Symbol.
We are all being created in the image of God. I don’t think God looks like a person but I think what He meant by image includes things like intelligence or the ability to reason, the ability to create life, and the process of understanding the knowledge of good and evil. I want to focus on for a moment, the ability of humans to create life. Those of us who are parents know what it is like to raise children. Children don’t always do what we ask them to do. When they misbehave, we punish them. This can include physical punishment (which is becoming more socially unacceptable) or taking away privileges. As parents, we are attempting to correct behavior because we know that misbehaving has consequences especially as young people grow older. Sane parents do not punish their children for the sole purpose of inflicting pain or torment.
Proverbs 3:12 For whom the Lord loveth he CORRECTETH; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth. [Remember for God so LOVED the WORLD (the world includes everyone)… but God’s love runs out according to Christians.]
Every time we see a story in the news concerning a child being abused or mistreated; we scorn at such things. Yet Christians would have us believe that God the Creator will not only torture His children (creation) with literal fire in hell but He will do it for eternity with no hope of rescue. I’ve actually heard some professing Christians tell me that people that go to hell will be given a body that can never die made specifically to absorb the most pain possible. Who in their right mind would endorse this kind of thinking let alone believe it? If this were true, I wouldn’t even want to serve God in fact, I would hate God. But this is absolutely absurd and God will do no such thing. Most of us would never even wish this on our worst enemy let alone our own children who we create. Christians say that they will be able to see all of the people being tortured in hell I guess to point their fingers and mock the people in hell for not accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as their savior. This is foolishness and sick at a level that I can’t even describe.
We know that our kids are going to make mistakes. So in knowing that, we know that our children can learn from their mistakes. Some learn in this life and they go on to make good choices. Some struggle and either end up in jail or dead based on some of the choices they make. In either case, we as parents will love our children regardless of any bad choice they make. We may be disappointed but we will love them all the same. Now we are corrupt evil beings subject to sin but are we to suppose that our Heavenly Father is more vile than us with the teaching of hell?
Romans 8:20-21 For the creature was made SUBJECT TO VANITY, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the BONDAGE OF CORRUPTION into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
The Greek word “mataiotēs” is translated as vanity in Romans 8:20 and it means what is devoid of truth and appropriateness. Did you get that? This scripture says that the creature (that is – humans) were made subject to this vanity by God. So just like we know that our children will make mistakes, God knows that we will sin because we were made subject to vanity. This isn’t hard to understand if we just believe the Word of God instead of the words of men. We liken God to be this evil wrathful God that is on a vengeance to get back at humanity for not doing what He says. Did you listen to everything your parents told you when you were a child? Do your children obey all your commands? When they break your commands (yes, you want to kill them but not literally) do you seek to torture them? What does Romans 8:21 say? The creature shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption. Or human beings will be saved from being subject to sin into the glorious freedom of the children of God. This is the gospel, contrary to what you’ve been taught in church about hell and eternal punishment. God is going to reconcile all of mankind to Himself. For as in ADAM ALL DIE, even so in CHRIST SHALL ALL BE MADE ALIVE. 1 Corinthians 15:22
Now let’s look at 1 John 4:18 again;
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath TORMENT. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
I think this is great scripture that proves that the doctrine of hell is a doctrine of contradiction. The doctrine of hell is about fear and fear has torment. I remember back when I went to church and would hear preachers teach about going to hell if you died in your sins. I use to live in constant fear of dying and I would have trouble sleeping at night. I was trying to live right but I couldn’t control the sin in my life at the time. I found myself doing things that I didn’t want to do but I couldn’t stop. If you are in this same situation you must understand that you will not stop under your own power. God will make you hate your sin and He will give you the power to overcome living in sin with His spirit. Let’s listen to Paul and see if he can help us out;
Romans 7:22-25 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.
This is an absolutely loaded set of scripture that one could easily write a book about. I will sum it up the best way I can. Some of us who love God and His Word desire to be righteous (it is God that gives us this desire to begin with). However since we were made subject to vanity, we are also subject to the lusts and pulls of the flesh. God starts to renew our mind but these new spiritual thoughts and ways are in direct conflict with the desires of the carnal mind. It is a war going on inside of us at times. Have you ever felt disgusted with yourself over your own sin? In this life, you will sin but there is a difference between sinning and living in sin. I personally struggle with my thoughts every day but I no longer act on many of the sinful desires of my flesh and I thank God for giving me the strength to overcome these things in my life. It is a daily battle though and I dare not say it is easy.
1 John 4:8 says that God is love. How can God torture and sentence His creation to hell for eternity if He is love and if he created man subject to sin in the first place? Trust me; I’ve heard all of the defenses used by Christians to justify their hell doctrine but it is far from the truth. How can we be made perfect in love if one of our primary motivations for believing and trusting in Christ is the fear of going to hell? These are questions that the average Christian wouldn’t be able to answer. They will run to their pastor which would be the worst thing to do considering that it is the pastor that teaches this doctrine of devils in the first place. That my friend is how you stay deceived. I left the church years ago because I knew that the questions I had couldn’t be answered at church.
Mark 12:30 And THOU SHALT LOVE THE LORD THY GOD WITH ALL THY HEART, and WITH ALL THY SOUL, and WITH ALL THY MIND, and WITH ALL THY STRENGTH: this is the first commandment. Now I’m sure many of you are familiar with this scripture. God is commanding us to love Him. Do you really think that God wants to coerce His own creation into loving Him unconditionally? How does the fear of going to hell help this dilemma? God no doubt is in a pickle here… Do you command your spouse or children to love you? Suppose I commanded my wife to love me and knowing that she doesn’t do well with commands from me, she decides not to love me. In my anger, I lock her up in a dungeon where I proceed to torture her for the rest of her life. That will teach her not to love me. Does this sound like love to you? Christians make God out to be worse than the devil.
This is 1 John 4:18 from the Concordant Literal New Testament;
Fear is not in love, but perfect love is casting out fear, for fear has CHASTENING. Now he who is fearing is not perfected in love.
The translators of the Concordant Literal New Testament use the word chastening instead of torment. Torment isn’t necessarily a bad translation; it just isn’t the best rendering of the true meaning of this scripture. Whether you prefer punish, punished, or punishment over words like chasten or chastening so be it. The most important thing that you need to know is that this punishment or chastening is for an age not for eternity. God’s punishment also has a divine purpose. What is the purpose of punishment or chastening in the first place? Do you think God’s divine purpose for punishment is meant to torture people? If you really think that then you are sick and deceived. The purpose of any punishment is to make correct or to bring about a change in behavior. The whole idea of eternal punishment or everlasting torment is of the most evil doctrine a person could ever come up with and to make this matter even worse, it is Christians that actually endorse this garbage. If you believe the evil doctrine of hell, all I can do is pray for your understanding and hope that God removes the stubbornness in your heart.
In Part 7, I will be discussing some phrases that are commonly used in connection with the false teaching of hell.
Click the link to go to Part 7: Immortal Worms, Unquenchable Fire, & the Furnace of Fire