Answer: No. The wicked burn and then perish. We often overlook a simple phrase or word in one of the most recognized scriptures spoken by Jesus. In John 3:16 we read, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
Did you get the simple contrast that Christ made here with His words? Most people read right over it. Whoever believes in Him shall not perish. If we had an immortal soul, how could we perish?
Ezekiel 18:20 makes it clear: “The soul that sins shall die.” Romans 6:23 confirms it: “The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” If you don’t receive the gift of eternal life, you receive the wages of sin: death. Not “eternal life burning.” Death. You perish forever.
(The word “perish” in Greek is apol’oome (die, destroy, killed) and it is the root-word for Apollyon—another name for Satan the destroyer, the angel of the bottomless pit. It is no coincidence that Christ used this Greek word to make clear and to HIGHLIGHT just what perishing means.)
In Matthew 10:28 Christ said, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Yes, souls can die! So no human being needs to fear being burned for eternity in agonizing flames. The “punishing” for sin is not eternal; sinners are burned up and cease to exist. Their punishment, however, is eternal and final.
The book of Malachi makes it even more plain. “Behold the day is coming…. and you shall tread down the wicked for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I act says the LORD of hosts” (Malachi 4:1).
Ashes are what’s left over after the burning is finished. That’s what the Bible says is the fate of the unrepentant wicked.
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