The Spirit World: Chapter Nine (Lake of Fire)

This entry is part 11 of 23 in the series The Spirit World

The Lake of Fire

(This is a continuation of The Spirit World book series. This post assumes the prerequisite reading of earlier posts in the series.)

The phrases describing the “lake of fire” occur four times in scripture, each in the book of Revelation.  Being a phrase of several very common terms, the “lake of fire” is a simple representation of this group categorically.  The phrase is rendered as the “lake of fire and burning sulfur,” with slight variances, in three places, and simply “lake of fire” in the fourth.  Variances are slight throughout numerous translations, with each yielding the same essence, “lake of fire.”  Because there are only four references to this phrase, each one will be examined in this section.

To make short work of it, the lake of fire is the correct realm of the dead to be equated with the modern English definition of “Hell.”  The deductions below will conclude that this location is indeed the eternal, burning hopeless abode of the condemned of mankind.  This place, indeed, is Hell.

The Texts

Rev 19:20 (NIV)
But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. (lit. lake burning with fire & brimstone [sulfur])

Rev 20:10 (NIV)
 And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

Rev 20:14-15 (NIV)
Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15 If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Rev 21:8 (NIV)
But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars–their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” (lit. lake burning with fire & brimstone [sulfer])

Deductions

The first deduction concerning the lake of fire is that it is a place for both angelic and human beings.  Revelation 19 notes,

Revelation 19:20 (NIV)
20 … the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur.

In this text, “the two of them” are cast alive into the lake of fire, referring to the beast and the false prophet.  The false prophet is an unrighteous angelic being, or a demon.  John refers to him as “a beast” in Revelation 13:11.

Revelation 13:11 (NIV)
11 Then I saw another beast, coming out of the earth. He had two horns like a lamb, but he spoke like a dragon.

That the false prophet is a demon is simply deducted from the fact that he is not a man.  He does not come about from humanity, but appears “out of the earth” in John’s vision.  Likewise, the book of Revelation notes qualities of the beast which are inconsistent with human power and abilities.  As such, the false prophet can easily be understood to be a demonic angel.

The other beast, noted simply as “the beast” in Revelation 19 is the person of Antichrist.  Antichrist is a bit trickier to relegate into a status.  It is the author’s conclusion that Antichrist is a hybrid man/demon beast.  The author’s book, “The Return of The King” explains this deduction in great detail from scripture.  While some may designate the Antichrist as merely a man, it is unnecessary to establish his nature for the purposes of this study, for there are other examples of both man and angelic creatures being delivered to the lake of fire.

Of those other examples, Revelation 20 affirms another demonic angel who is thrown into the lake of fire.

Revelation 20:10 (NIV)
10 And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

The devil himself is also cast into this lake of burning sulfur.  Satan is a cherub, the highest created order of angels.  As such, he is another example of demonic entry into the lake of fire, demonstrating that angelic beings exist in this location, which separates it in nature from Sheol/Hades.  Hades/Sheol is never noted in scripture to contain a demonic being.  It is for humanity only.  Yet, the lake of fire contains both men and angels.

Concerning men in the lake of fire, Revelation 20 notes clearly a human constituency to exist in this abode.

Revelation 20:14 (NIV)
14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.

This text, observed earlier, is the final destination of Hades/Sheol, once again demonstrating that Hades/Sheol is not synonymous with the lake of fire, or Hell.  Hades is temporary in nature, being relegated at this point to another abode.  Those of Hades, at the end of history, are moved uniformly to this new container of the lake of fire.

Lastly, Revelation 21 also demonstrates the existence of men in the lake of fire.

Revelation 21:8 (NIV)
8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars–their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

In this text, men are noted categorically by their unrighteous standing.  They are “the unbelieving,” which is the key description of these men.  All who are unbelievers will find themselves in the lake of fire at this time.  The additional sinful credentials of these people simply denote their unbelieving status.  They are “the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars.”  These are cast into the lake of fire by merit, however, of their unbelief.  Had they believed upon Christ, their sins would be washed away and not counted against them.  All who believe on Christ will be spared from the lake of fire, as Revelation 20 notes,

Revelation 20:15 (NIV)
15 If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Clearly, it is only those whose names are not in Christ’s book of life which are destroyed in the lake of fire.  All others receive their redemption in this same chapter, as will be demonstrated later in this work. 

The next conclusion concerning the lake of fire is that it is an eternal location.  Unlike Hades/Sheol, which are temporary, the lake of fire is a place which will endure as the final and unending abode of the unrighteous.  Revelation 20:10 states,

Revelation 20:10 (NIV)
10 And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

The text goes so far as to state the term “ever” twice, to reinforce the eternal nature of the lake of fire.  It is a place of utter hopelessness, as it endures for eternity.

It should also be understood from this text that Satan is not the “warden” of Hell as bad jokes and theology alike seem to hint.  Satan is an inmate in Hell, like all other beings placed there.  This truth alone refutes several bad doctrines, such as the “punishment of Jesus in Hell” doctrine noted earlier.  Word of Faith teachers assert that Satan personally extended blows to Jesus “in Hell” as Jesus was paying man’s sentence there.  This is clearly outlandish in light of Revelation 20.  Satan is not the proprietor of some netherworld business called “Hell.”  He is to one day exist in punishment there, himself.  Indeed, one may postulate that Satan may be the recipient of many blows in that locality, as the entirety of human history dwells alongside of him in great torment which he personally instigated.  Jesus further affirms Satan’s own punishment in hell as he notes in Matthew 25,

Matthew 25:41 (NIV)
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

As demonstrated in this chapter, “eternal fire” refers not to the fires of Abaddon, but of Hell.  Abaddon is temporary, but the lake of fire is the eternal place of burning.  Clearly, Jesus asserts that the destruction of Satan himself, along with his angels is the designated purpose of the lake of fire.  It was prepared for them to be punished in through all eternity.  Yet, those who serve his purposes will join him in his punishment. 

A final conclusion concerning the lake of fire is that it is a place of both the spirit and the body.  While Sheol/Hades is a locality of the spirit, only, the lake of fire is a place of both the body and the spirit.

Returning to Revelation 20, the context of verse 14 is that of a global resurrection of the bodies of the unrighteous dead.  The text reads,

Revelation 20:13-14 (NIV)
13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.

Of important note are the physical bodies being involved in this future punishment.  The sea gives up it’s dead, and death and Hades give up theirs.  The sea, of course, refers to the bodies of those unrighteous men who were lost at sea at the time of their demise, leaving their remains in the ocean.  Death, refers to the natural, physical state of the dead; the body.  Hades, of course, refers to man’s spirit in prison in that spiritual container.  Thus, the bodies and the spirits of mankind are reunited prior to the advent of the lake of fire.  And in that location, man in his full unity, body and spirit, will endure a torturous eternity.

While the lake of fire is well described in these four texts, another New Testament term brings further clarity to the deductions of this chapter. 

image The Spirit World series will continue weekly until the entire book is published online. If, however, you enjoy this series and do not wish to wait, you can purchase the paperback version of The Spirit World here.



Series Navigation<< The Spirit World: Chapter Eight (Hell)The Spirit World: Chapter Ten (Gehenna) >>

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