As one proponent recently put it by stating “…I affirm the non-elect will suffer permanent death INSTEAD OF ENDLESS TORMENT…,” Annihilationists reject a Hell wherein unbelievers are endlessly, everlastingly, tormented as just punishment for their previous and ongoing sin. Instead, they hold to a belief that the unsaved, the non-elect, will simply cease to exist once thrown into the lake of fire. Some differ on how long it will take for them to cease to exist; however, they all believe in an imminent or eventual annihilation, an imminent or eventual cessation of all being in Hell.
Contrast the quoted statement “…I affirm the non-elect will suffer permanent death INSTEAD OF ENDLESS TORMENT…,” with what the Bible declares:
1) Revelation 20:10 “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet [are], and shall be TORMENTED DAY AND NIGHT FOR EVER AND EVER.” [Most understand that “tormented day and night for ever and ever” is equivalent to “endless torment” but some struggle with the concept].
2) Revelation 14:10-11 “The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be TORMENTED WITH FIRE AND BRIMSTONE in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: 11 And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up FOR EVER AND EVER: AND THEY HAVE NO REST DAY NOR NIGHT who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.” [Again, doesn’t “for ever and ever” having no rest “day nor night” equate to “endless” in your mind? It does for most but not for the annihilationists].
3) Matthew 25:41 “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into EVERLASTING/ENDLESS [G166, aiōnios, “without end, never ceasing, never ending, everlasting, endless”] FIRE, prepared for the devil and his angels:”
The fact that the fire was everlasting would have no real relevance but for the fact that there are those tormented therein day and night, for ever and ever, hence (just a few verses down)….
4) Matthew 25:46 “And these shall go away into EVERLASTING [G166, aiōnios, “without end, never ceasing,, never ending, everlasting, endless”] TORMENT/PUNISHMENT [G2851, kolasis, “tormenting correction, punishment, penalty” with ‘thoughts concerning the punishment/correction’ playing a key role in the torment aspect. It is the same word translated as torment in 1 John 4:18]: but the righteous into life eternal.”
All of Christianity, and the bulk of Christendom, understand these passages correctly. Sadly, those who prefer to engage in sophistry, and eisegesis, attempt to alter the clear meaning and intent.
This is not a game, nor is this some intellectual/academic exercise. The Apostle Paul stated in 2 Corinthians 5:11 “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men…” To the annihilationist, the terror is ultimately ‘permanent death.’ To those with a right understanding of “everlasting punishment,” the terror is not cessation of life but… (actual) everlasting punishment.
A single sin is enough to damn us; a countless multitude of sins in our lifetime is enough to keep us in Hell for a mighty long time (if not forever); however, the perpetual, ongoing, never-ending sins committed by those in Hell warrant perpetual, ongoing, never-ending punishment for said sin. This is the dreadful but utterly just reality that simply cannot be ignored or down-played. We must tell people the truth. We must warn that ALL WHO ARE OUTSIDE OF CHRIST are under the ETERNAL wrath, condemnation, and judgment of God. Moreover, those outside of Christ, those under the eternal wrath, condemnation, and judgment of God, are immutably destined to EVERLASTING (ceaseless, perpetual, never ending) punishment, torment, and fire when death and Hades are cast into the Lake of Fire.
Christ is the only Hope; He is the only Refuge from judgment to come. God’s people are truly and utterly safe in Him. And yet, we must still be sober, grave, and vigilant — For God declares (1) in Hebrews 12:28-29 “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: 29 For our God [is] a consuming fire” and (2) in 1 Peter 4:17-19 “For the time [is come] that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if [it] first [begin] at us, what shall the end [be] of them that obey not the gospel of God? 18 And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? 19 Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls [to him] in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.”
To God be the glory!