A Brief Answer to Annihilationism.

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Annihilationism is the belief that the unsaved will be annihilated either immediately after death or after experiencing a temporary time of punishment. They will not face eternal separation from God.

This belief is immediately called into question on the basis of Jesus’ own teachings. Jesus taught that the unsaved “will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life” (Mat. 25:46). In other places Jesus reaffirms the external nature of hell (Mark 9:43, Mat. 18:8), Revelation, which is alleged to be Jesus’ revelatory words, also tells us that “They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever” (20:10). Eternal punishments is likewise affirmed in Revelation 14:9-11. On the other hand Jesus affirms the eternality of life with God in heaven (John 3:16-17); something reaffirmed elsewhere in the New Testament (2 Tim 1:10).

So, why doesn’t God just annihilate the wicked instead of punishing them forever?

Firstly, if God annihilated wicked people then it negates different degrees of punishment (something affirmed by Jesus in Matthew 10:15). Would the mass-murderer Hitler deserve the same or more punishment as the unrepentant man who extorted money from those in his business? It would also strike me as unfair, for example, Hitler would get away scot-free; he would face absolutely no consequences for his bloody, ruthless actions.  Also, why would God annihilate people made in his image; would that not be an attack on God himself? Rather, hell is eternal separation from God & a place where God allows them to continue in their rebellion. Hell is a place where God quarantines the wicked, it’s also worth noting that those in hell will probably continue to curse God. After all, why would they have a change of mind in hell? They are there because they have rejected God andd his revelation in the world & through Jesus.

On the basis of scripture annihilationism is rendered false. Likewise Jesus clearly taught the opposite; namely that eternal separation from God will be experienced by those who reject him.



8 responses to “A Brief Answer to Annihilationism.

  1. Such a powerful description of this subject. To be annihilated is to not experience the consequence of one’s sin, thereby not being accountable for their willfulness. The fact that the consequences of sin is complete separation from God in Hell should be an incentive for the faith followers in Christ to go out and tell people that there is a way to be delivered from this fate and that is through Christ.

  2. Hi, thanks for the article.
    Thru attending a Seventh Day Adventist Prophecy seminar, I’ve come to believe in annihilation and think conditionalism makes a big difference in the world view of God’s goodness, and truly believe that conditionalism may close an easy door to reject Christ. To use famous examples, ex-atheist Anthony Flew ended believing in a creator (There is a God), but he could not accept Jesus because of endless torment. On the other hand, Dr Boyd’s skeptic father ended up fully accepting Christ once Hell was better understood as annihilation (Letters from a skeptic).

    The two issues, creation/evolution and endless torment seem to combine and allow easy rejection of the gospel.

    In any event, I’ve written primarily to share a little quiz to try to help others deal with “eternal punishment” of Mt 25:46.

    QUIZ: Although this is an imperfect OVERSIMPLIFICATION, which one of the two answers makes more sense in view of our destinies?

    1-How long do you believe the judging goes on in the “eternal judgment”? Heb 6:2
    A- Basically Judged & Re-Judged each & every day every moment forever, for the rest of eternity
    B- Basically &finally judged just once…but last judgment is permanent, eternal, for the rest of eternity
    2-How long do you believe the saving goes on in the “eternal salvation”? Heb 5:9
    A- Basically Saved & Re-saved each & every day every moment forever, for the rest of eternity
    B- Basically/fully saved once, but final salvation is permanent/irreversible, for rest of eternity, eternal.
    3-How long do you believe the redeeming goes on in the “eternal redemption”? Heb 9:12
    A – Basically Redeemed & re-redeemed each/every day & moment forever, for the rest of eternity
    B- Basically Redeemed once… but final redemption is permanent, for the rest of eternity, eternal

    COMMENT: So far, with these few examples I think you would agree that, although a bit oversimplified, answer B makes more sense. God will not re- judge us and re-save us each and every minute for the rest of eternity. Eternal does sometimes mean “finally and fully imparted ONCE (like redeemed once) but the “CHANGE” is irreversible, permanent, for the rest of eternity, hence eternal”. Please pause and meditate on that meaning of eternal. Now most want to answer B for #1-3 above but want to answer A for next questions #4-5-6 below even though there is NO difference in the texts or in the word ETERNAL itself? As you answer #4-6 below, ask yourself why, why am I not consistent?
    Being consistent!
    4- How long do you believe the condemning goes on in the “eternal condemnation”? Mk3:29
    A – Basically Condemned & Re-Condemned every day every moment Forever, for the rest of eternity
    B- Or fully/finally condemned ONCE, but condemnation is permanent/irreversible/for rest of eternity
    5- How long do you believe the destructing of Hell goes on in the “eternal destruction”?2Th1:9
    A – Basically Destroyed & Re-destroyed every day every moment Forever, for the rest of eternity
    B- Or finally destroyed ONCE, but destruction is permanent/irreversible/eternal/for rest of eternity
    6- How long do you believe the punishing of Hell goes on in the “eternal punishment”? Matt 25:46
    A – Basically Punished & Re-punished each & every day every moment Forever, for rest of eternity
    B- Or fully/finally punished ONCE, but CHANGE is permanent/irreversible/eternal/for rest of eternity.

    Were you consistent? Think about it: unless you can answer A to questions 1-3 above, you are inconsistent to answer A to questions #4-6 because these English sentences with word “eternal” are exactly the same. So logically, without convoluted logic, if you answer B to #1-3, then you should at least consider B as a possibility for #4-6. If not, why not? It must come from outside ideas and texts (this is the whole point of those 6 questions to show that it comes from outside & not the word eternal itself). Notice something powerful, #1-6 can all be EXACTLY THE SAME DURATION – THAT’s RIGHT – they can all be imparted ONCE (judged once, redeemed once, destroyed once, punished once) AND they all can be permanent, irreversible, for the rest of eternity; hence they are all ETERNAL in duration.

    So far we have shown using a simple logical argument that we tend to inconsistently interpret “eternal” in two different ways depending on who is affected (just or unjust). We also show that it comes from external inputs, perceptions, beliefs, and has nothing to do with the word eternal itself or the sentences with it. Isn’t that just amazing! Next, is it possible to confirm that our view of Hell as endless torment is totally imported, while the real meaning should be something “imparted ONCE for the rest of eternity”, per answer B. Let’s see what we can discover with the word most often used with the word eternal: Life.

    What is the #1 verse used to support endless torment? Matthew 25:46. Why? Primarily because, goes the argument, the “eternal punishment” should be the same duration as “eternal life”, which “can only mean endless torment”. Although this would mean reading it per answer A above, can we in fact show that Matthew 25:46 could be properly rewritten as per answer B as follows:

    “And these shall go away into a permanent/irreversible eternal destruction exacted ONCE for rest of eternity, but the righteous into a permanent irreversible life given ONCE (for the rest of eternity).

    In other words, can scripture support that “eternal life” is also basically given ONCE, for the rest of eternity per answer B. Guess what! It does! Eternal life is CONSISTENTLY given once at resurrection/judgment when we (in Christ) will all be MADE ALIVE (finally/fully ONCE but only) at His coming (1Cor 15:22-23), when we receive (once)… in the AGE TO COME, ETERNAL LIFE (Luke 18:30) – (i.e. we receive full eternal life (made alive) at His coming when raised back to life from the dead (our enemy #1)). In short, this shows that the gift of eternal life is also ultimately fully given ONCE at His coming, but it is eternal, permanent, irreversible, for the rest of eternity, so not subject to 2nd death. Hence it is an “eternal” or “permanent” life, just like the final judgment is an “eternal” or “permanent” judgment, just like the final redemption is an “eternal” or “permanent” redemption, just like final destruction is an “eternal” or “permanent” destruction, just like final condemnation is an “eternal” or “permanent” condemnation, just like final punishment is an “eternal” or “permanent” punishment. WOW! Do you see how it is all VERY CONSISTENT. Again, with this understanding of eternal (per answer B), both eternal life and eternal punishment of Matthew 25:46 are the exact same DURATION (i.e. permanent/irreversible), and both are basically given once at judgment of the just and unjust. So, does Matthew 25:46 really support the traditional view of endless torment per answer A? Or does it rather support that the eternal punishment can be an permanent everlasting destruction per answer B.

    Again, this quiz provides support that the punishment (annihilation) and the life of Mt 25:46 are exactly the SAME DURATION (for the rest of eternity – hence eternal) and are both given ONCE at the resurrection/judgment. The site jewishnotgreek.com and amazingdiscoveries.org provides very good overview. God bless!

    • You approve my comment asking you why you didn’t approve of my previous comment? Can you please just approve my previous comment? Or even better please interact with it. I’d love to help you consider another way of thinking about this issue which will be thoughtful and fair and charitable. Up to you.

  3. Piper’s statement contradicts your assertion that God is giving the unsaved, the “unrepentant”, what they want – separation from him. It also portrays God as the monster you are trying so desperately, in these posts about hell, to argue he is not.

    That you apparently can’t see this demonstrates that you’re grasping at anything that will allow you to hold on to your belief system.

  4. You’ll also have to account for why death and hell are sent to the lake of fire at the end.
    The old testament has no mention of ‘hell’ – the Hebrew words were Sheol or the Pit. The Greek translated some as Gehenna which was a valley where the Jews burned their trash- it was also a valley that had at some point been the place where Jews who turned to worshiping Molech were sacrificing their children.

    Note also numerous examples in the Psalms that seem to allude to a final destruction of the wicked – read Psalm 37 and you’ll find many.

    2 Peter 2: 6
    And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly;

    Jude 1: 7
    Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, 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.

    Are the sites of those cities filled with wailing, tortured specters in flames?

    I think Matthew 10:15 is symbolic of the severity that the action would incur, not an indication of degrees of punishment in hell.

    You can also read Psalms and find examples of why separation makes no sense, because God’s presence is everywhere.
    Psalm 139: 8
    If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.

    If someone thinks that annihilation is preferable to eternal life with God, then they can have it. Eternal torture – totally timeless, endless pain – is somehow seen by many of you as something useful or acceptable, even though the consistent theme of Scripture is death and the victory over death through Christ. If you don’t have Christ, what makes you think you’ll have any kind of existence? Not even Satan will continue his life.

    Always welcome to discuss this as I am mostly convinced by annihilation but would like to hear counter arguments.


  5. Matthew 10:28 clearly teaches the lost will be destroyed. The unsaved soul is not immortal. Immortality is a gift to Christians only. “…and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel…” (2 Timothy 1:10).

    Immortality is only for a select few-those who are born again (“who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” 2 Timothy 1:10). The rest of humanity, after suffering according to the level of their sins, will be destroyed. The wages of sin for them will be death (Rom 6:23). God only has immortality-anyone else becomes immortal only as a result of God’s gracious gift (1 Timothy 6:16, Romans 2:7).
    If you still doubt this, then look at what Jesus Himself clearly offers to the world:
    Again, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever.” John 6:51.
    Why would Jesus make such an offer-to “live forever”-if everyone lives forever?

    And this does not negate the fact that the lost will suffer for their sins before being destroyed. 2 Thessalonians 1:9-Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction. (not everlasting preservation). Death is the wages of sin. Edward Fudge wrote a great book on this called “The Fire that Consumes.”. The forward was written by F.F. Bruce. Google “Conditional Immortality” for some well respected evangelical views on this subject. Or Google “Jewish not Greek” (Jewish view is soul is not immortal without God – Greeks said it was). Bible supports the Jewish view.

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