Posted by: biblestudyseattle | February 3, 2015

Second Death or Eternal Torment?

“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.” Revelation 20:10

“This is the second death, the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:14

“A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives its mark on their forehead or on their hand, they, too, will drink the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. They will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment will rise for ever and ever. There will be no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, or for anyone who receives the mark of its name.” Revelation 14:9-11

What is going on here? If a person is thrown into a burning lake, they cannot live forever. Surely God does not mean that we will become like Moses’ burning bush that though on fire, wasn’t burned up.
There are at least two problems with most translations. First, the word translated torment is basanisthesontai, which literally is the stone used to test for gold purity. The other definitions involving torment or torture are connotations that God doesn’t have much use for. Certainly, a wicked person could be tormented living amongst holy people. But we get the idea that God likes to torture people. Satan has done a brilliant job of making people think God has Satan’s characteristics. Testing is what God is after.
The second problem is with the word aeon. Most translations use eternal which gives the idea of infinite time. But the idea here is a long but defined period. The Bible is clear that evil will ultimately be totally stamped out. This is illustrated in Deuteronomy 13-24 where the phrase “you must purge the evil from among you” shows up nine times.

A better translation for the end of Revelation 20:10 is “and they will be tested for age after age.”

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