Annihilation? Hell? which is it?

I want to apologize for the long wait; I have been busy with other studies. I Hope you continue to visit my blog and I hope you enjoy my posts. For this post I had put much studying into it, however, there is still much to say concerning this topic. I will probably end this topic with this post and move on to other beliefs of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and comparing it to the Word of God. Well let us begin.

The Lake of Fire, what is it? In the Watchtower literature with the question “Should you fear hell?” on the cover has a short article about the lake of fire. They have entitled the article “What is “the Lake of Fire”? In that, they said

“If the Devil were to be tortured for all eternity, God would have to preserve him alive, but the Bible says that Jesus will “destroy him.”(Hebrews 2:14, KJ)”[1]

In the New World’s Translation[2] on page 1651 under the title Hell (Hades, Sheol), it says, “Fire is a symbol of annihilation.” Annihilation means to no longer-exist or to reduce to nothing.

Now, back on the Watchtower literature, they continue to say:

 “…Because the Bible does not say that “the lake of fire” would release those in it, “the second death” must mean another kind of death, an irreversible one. In what sense are those in “the lake of fire” tormented eternally? At times, “to torment” can mean, “to restrain” someone. Once when Jesus confronted the demons, they cried out: “Art thou come hither to torment us [restrain us in the abyss] before the time?” (Matthew 8:29; Luke 8:30, 31; KJ) so all of those in “the lake” will suffer the “torment” of everlasting restraint, or “the second death.”[3]

 I agree with them on the first sentence, this second death that is described in Revelation 20:14 is one that is different and irreversible. It is clear on what the Jehovah’s witnesses are talking about when they say “everlasting restraint”. The word restraint means to hold back from action; keep in check or under control; or to repress.[4] Restraint is not a word that implies a ceasing of existence it is, the opposite. In fact, the short article that the Watchtower produced almost seems to be saying there is a place where one would go and suffer being restrained forever.

 This article is strange, because in the Jehovah’s Witnesses, “What Does the Bible Really Teach” on page 58, it says this:

 What happens at death is no mystery to Jehovah, the creator of the brain. He knows the truth, and in his word, the Bible, he explains the condition of the dead. Its clear teaching is this: when a person dies, he ceases to exist; death is the opposite of life. The dead do not see or hear or think. Not even one part of us survives the death of the body. We do not possess an immortal soul or spirit.

So according to the Watchtower when death comes, you no longer exist, this is what they teach, yet, they say that there will be people in “the lake of fire” suffering everlasting restraint. People who cease to exist cannot suffer, the JW’s say it themselves “the dead do not see or hear or think”. If this is true then there cannot be an everlasting restraint, remember “to restrain” does not imply a ceasing to exist it is the opposite. Eternal Hell is a scary thought, no one wants to go there, some try hard to refute it, but it still exists. Almighty God is loving, merciful, and forgiving, He is forgiving on His terms not ours. We also need to remember that He is righteous, holy, and just. Moreover, Almighty God must punish sin to the fullest penalty “Eternal Hell”. The Lake of fire is a real place of torment and the wicked will go there. The Devil, the beast, and the false prophet will be thrown into the lake of fire and anyone whose name is not written in the Lambs book of life will be cast into the eternal lake of fire (Rev. 20:10, 15), the second death a second separation from God. The first separation occurred in Genesis, when Adam and Eve sinned against God. They were spiritually dead and so therefore separated in the communion they had with the awesome Creator of the universe.

 Torment or restraint?

“At times, “to torment” can mean, “to restrain” someone. Once when Jesus confronted the demons, they cried out: “Art thou come hither to torment us [restrain us in the abyss] before the time?” (Matthew 8:29; Luke 8:30, 31; KJ)” The Jehovah’s Witnesses are saying that the word to torment can mean to restrain. Can the word torment mean restrain like the Watchtower says? The Greek word that is used in Matthew 8:29 is Basanizo, which means “torment”. This word does not imply “restrain” but the idea that conjures up in the mind is torment, to inflict pain. This word is also used in Matt. 8:6, 29; Mark. 5:7; Rev. 9:5; 11:10; 14:10, 11; 18:7, 10, 15. In 2 Macc. 7:13 and in 4 Macc. 6:5 this word is used of torture in judicial examination; also in Wisdom of Solomon 3:1, 4 and 4 Maccabees 13:15[5] it is used of the tortures of hell.

A quick word from the Early Church: In the form of a letter from the church of Smyrna to the Christian community of Philmelium in greater Phrygia: the Martyrdom of Saint Polycarp (A.D. 155/ 157). Basanizo meaning torment is used in this letter rendered as torture. In talking about martyrs, it says:

“Fixing their minds on the grace of Christ, [the martyrs] despised worldly tortures, and purchased eternal life with but a single hour. To them, the fire of their cruel torturers was cold. They kept before their eyes their escape from the eternal and unquenchable fire. With the eyes of their heart they looked up to the good things which are reserved for those who persevere, things which neither has ear heard nor eye seen nor has the heart of man conceived.”[6]

Basanizo is also used in Revelation 20:10 “And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” There is no indication of restraint in the word torment/ Basanizo, the lake of fire is a place of torment, it is also where those whose name is not found in the lake of fire will suffer there(Rev. 20:14, 15) all the wicked will go to the lake of fire and will be tormented forever (Rev. 21:8).

However, God did provide a way for man to be washed clean from sin. He sent Jesus the Christ to be crucified for the sins of the world (John 1:29) and He rose from the dead giving life to those who put their trust in Him and who love Him with their hearts. His gift of eternal life is free we do not deserve it and we cannot work for it, He gives it free to those who believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. We are saved by grace through faith in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:8, 9). Jesus cleanses us from our sins and gives us His righteousness and His peace, God gives us His Holy Spirit to dwell within us (1st Corinthians 3:16). Jesus also stands and knocks at the door of our hearts and desires to come in (Rev. 3:20). When we put our trust in Jesus Christ we can be confident that our salvation is assured (Eph. 1:13, 14) and that He (Almighty God) will never leave us nor for sake us (Hebrews 13:5) His Grace is sufficient His mercy is awesome His forgiveness is everlasting (Hebrews 10). There truly is nothing greater than to know that the Awesome Creator of the universe forgives your sins and to know we have a personal relationship with God. Hope you enjoyed this post. 🙂  

 

 


[1] The Watchtower, Should You Fear Hell? Nov. 1, 2008. p.7

[2] The Jehovah’s Witnesses consider the New World’s Translation to be far more superior to the other translations of the Holy Bible.

[3] Same as number one Should You Fear Hell?

[4] Restrain- also contains “to deprive or liberty, as by arrest or the like. Also limit or hamper the activity, growth, or the effect of.”

[5] Though I reference the Apocrypha (e.g. Wisdom of Solomon, 2nd, and 4th Maccabees) I do not believe them to be the Word of God for various reasons. However, I do believe they are very useful.  

[6] Translated by William A. Jurgens, The Faith of the Early Fathers, Volume one p. 30

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5 Comments

Filed under Christianity, God?, Philosophy, religion, The Holy Bible, WatchTower Society

5 responses to “Annihilation? Hell? which is it?

  1. Their slates are wiped clean and they cease to be. Robyn Christian

  2. Pingback: Annihilation? Hell? which is it? | JW News & Comments

  3. Cory D. Davis

    Angelo,

    Pretty good post. While I agree with you that annihilationism is an unorthodox opinion, I don’t know if it is even on the top ten list of things wrong with jaydub theology. On this topic, they at least have some Biblical support (albeit from poor hermeneutics) and the sympathetic vote. In other words, I’m pretty sure they’re wrong, but I really pray (for the sake of the damned) that they’re right.

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