The following is a list of texts which, to me, clearly indicate that hell is not eternal and that there will be a universal restoration of all that which is in heaven, in earth and under the earth. There are others which could have been included here, but in my opinion these are the most conclusive.
Passages that imply a Total Restoration:
Whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began…. 25 You are sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.
- Each time we see “all things” in the translations we must keep in mind that “things” does not have an equivalent in Greek and has been added by the translators.
For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him…and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.
- The same all that was created by Christ was also reconciled by Him.
that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
…He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.
…that if One died for all, then all died.
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned — 13 (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless, death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. 15 But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man's offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. 16 And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification. 17 For if by the one man's offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.) 18 Therefore, as through one man's offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man's righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. 19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man's obedience many will be made righteous. 20 Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, 21 so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
- The sin abounded by one – Adam, but the grace much more abounded by One – Christ. The work Christ accomplished much more than restoring what Adam lost. Could that be true if 90% of mankind were to be eternally lost?
For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all(100%) die, even so in Christ all (100%) shall be made alive. 23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming. 24 Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. 27 For "He has put all things under His feet." But when He says "all things are put under Him," it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. 28 Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all (10%?).
- Are we to understand that all who will end up in God are 10% whereas in Adam it is 100%? How can we call that “much more”?
having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, 10 that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth — in Him. 11 In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, 12 that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.
- The Church is only the firstfruits. In the dispensation of the fullness of times all in the heaven and in the earth will put their trust in Christ. We are just the first.
that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
- To whom will we be showing the exceeding riches of His grace, and why will it be displayed? Just to show it to the angels who don’t need it?
Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.
- We are the firstfruits. Firstfruits imply that the rest will follow.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; 21 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. 23 Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
- All, but in due time.
You are sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying to Abraham, 'And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed. 26 To you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities."
having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.
- Each one “in his own order” will have his “day of visitation.”
Who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
- Could it possibly be that in the end God doesn’t get what He desires?
cf. Isa 46:10 …My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure,
This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance. 10 For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.
…In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
- His love towards the whole world. (1John 2:2)
Romans 11:15,16, 26,29,33-36)
For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? 16 For if the first-fruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches. has come in. 26 And so all Israel will be saved….29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable…. 32 For God has committed them [i] all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all. 33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! 34 "For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor?" 35 'Or who has first given to Him and it shall be repaid to him?" 36 For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.
Romans 12: 21
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
- How will God overcome evil? With eternal vengeance? Would that overcome evil or perpetuate it?
and that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy, as it is written: “For this reason I will confess to You among the Gentiles, and sing to Your name.” 10 And again he says: “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people!” 11 And again: “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles! Laud Him, all you peoples!” 12 And again, Isaiah says: “There shall be a root of Jesse; And He who shall rise to reign over the Gentiles, in Him the Gentiles shall hope.”
1Corinthians 13:5-8 RSV
Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; 5 it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends. (cf. 1John 4:16)
So we know and believe the love God has for us. God is love….
- Since God is love and He is eternal, love never ends.
Therefore He says: “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men." 9 (Now this, "He ascended" — what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things. (c.f. 1Peter 3:18-20 and 4:6)
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, 19 by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, 20 who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water.
For this reason the gospel was preached also to those who are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (cf. 1Cor 12:3)
…no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.
having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, 20 of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.
Titus 2:11-12 NIV
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.
But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, (toward every man cf. 2:11) 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit
For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward.
- The law prescribed a “just reward.” Should we believe that a “just reward” will be followed by eternal torments?
You have put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him. 9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.
- Does all and everyone mean 100% or only 10%?
Hebrews 2:14-15 ASV
Since then the children are sharers in flesh and blood, he also himself in like manner partook of the same; that through death he might bring to nought him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; 15 and might deliver all them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
As He also says in another place: “You are a priest forever (ton aiona) according to the order of Melchizedek.”
Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.
- His priestly intercession does not end at death, but continues as long as necessary for all who wish to draw near to God by Him.
And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.
…For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.
- As the last Adam He destroyed the Works of the devil. The devil’s Works will not continue going on forever in hell.
And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world.
And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: "Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!" (cf. Fil 2:10-11)
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. For all nations shall come and worship before You, for Your judgments have been manifested.
Then He who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new.”
And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it. 25 Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there). 26 And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it. 27 But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb's Book of Life.
And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. 2 In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
Revelation 22:14-15 NIV
Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. 15 Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
- The gates of the New Jerusalem will always be open. No one who has not washed his robes and is not found written in the book of life can enter, but the Bride invites all who desire to enter and drink of the water of life within the city.
Genesis 12:3 NIV
I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.
Job 23:13 Job 23:13 NIV
But he stands alone, and who can oppose him? He does whatever he pleases (thelo).
I know that You can do everything, and that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.
Psalm 2:8 NIV
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.
- Christ receives the nations as an inheritance.
All the ends of the world shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before You.
Say to God, "How awesome are Your works! Through the greatness of Your power Your enemies shall submit themselves to You. 4 All the earth shall worship You and sing praises to You; They shall sing praises to Your name.”
Yes, all kings shall fall down before Him; All nations shall serve Him.
All nations whom You have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord, and shall glorify Your name.
You turn man to destruction, and say, "Return, O children of men."
All the kings of the earth shall praise You, O Lord, when they hear the words of Your mouth.
The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy. 9 The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works.
A man's heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.
There are many plans in a man's heart, nevertheless the Lord's counsel — that will stand.
A man's steps are of the Lord; How then can a man understand his own way?
Whatever the Lord pleases He does, in heaven and in earth,
The Lord of hosts has sworn, saying, "Surely, as I have thought, so it shall come to pass, and as I have purposed, so it shall stand.”
Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, 'My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure,' calling a bird of prey from the east, the man who executes My counsel, from a far country. Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it.
He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.
For the Lord of hosts has purposed, and who will annul it? His hand is stretched out, and who will turn it back?"
- He desires that all be saved and He has all the time necessary to bring it to pass. cf. 2 Peter 3:8,9
2 Peter 3:8,9
But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
And in this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all people a feast of choice pieces, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of well-refined wines on the lees. 7 And He will destroy on this mountain the surface of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations. 8 He will swallow up death forever, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces; the rebuke of His people. He will take away from all the earth; for the Lord has spoken.
Tell and bring forth your case; yes, let them take counsel together. Who has declared this from ancient time? Who has told it from that time? Have not I, the Lord? And there is no other God besides Me, a just God and a Savior; There is none besides Me. 22 "Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. 23 I have sworn by Myself; the word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, that to Me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall take an oath. 24 He shall say, 'Surely in the Lord I have righteousness and strength. To Him men shall come, and all shall be ashamed who are incensed against Him.
No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."
Ezekiel 16:53-56, 61
When I bring back their captives, the captives of Sodom and her daughters, and the captives of Samaria and her daughters, then I will also bring back the captives of your captivity among them, 54 that you may bear your own shame and be disgraced by all that you did when you comforted them. 55 When your sisters, Sodom and her daughters, return to their former state, and Samaria and her daughters return to their former state, then you and your daughters will return to your former state…. 61Then you will remember your ways and be ashamed, when you receive your older and your younger sisters; for I will give them to you for daughters, but not because of My covenant with you.
Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed.
Then He said to them, "What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out? 12 Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath."
A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench, till He sends forth justice to victory; 21 And in His name Gentiles will trust."
Another parable He spoke to them: "The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened."
And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick.
- Wouldn’t their sickness be unimportant in in the light of an eternal hell, if that was in fact what awaited them?
For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.
- How many are lost? Will He achieve His objective to save all who are lost?
So Jesus said to them, "Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
Matthew 23:1, 9
Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying:… 9 Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.
the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.
- Isn’t God the Father of all humanity?
for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, 'For we are also His offspring.' 29 Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man's devising. 30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead."
- Though the Athens were fallen and in need of the new birth in order to enter the Kingdom of God, all are His sons because they were created by Him
Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us?
Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
- All the people means all flesh – both Jews and Gentiles. (cf. 30-32, 3:6)
For my eyes have seen Your salvation 31 which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, 32 A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel."
Yes, and why, even of yourselves, do you not judge what is right? 58 When you go with your adversary to the magistrate, make every effort along the way to settle with him, lest he drag you to the judge, the judge deliver you to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison. 59 I tell you, you shall not depart from there till you have paid the very last mite. (cf. 1 Tess 5:21-22)
Test all things; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.
What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?
- Will the Good Shepherd keep searching until He finds the last lost sheep or will He conform Himself with the 10% already in the fold?
Then Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do."
- Do you think God answered this prayer? What about the rest?
This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe…. 9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.
- Will His mission that all be saved through Him be fulfilled? Will all ultimately believe, or will His mission end in failure with only 10% having heard and believed?
Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
- Not just of a few chosen ones.
…and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.
- Is He really the Savior of the whole world or of just a few?
For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.
All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. 40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.
And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself. [ii]
- “Forcefully draw,” Gr. elkoúo. cf. John 18:10; 21:11; Acts 16:19; James 2:6.
I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.
Passages which indicate that Punishment is Not Eternal:
Then God (who declares the end from the beginning Isa 46:10) saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
- How would it be possible for Father God to say that everything He had made was good, knowing that the majority of mankind, created in His image and likeness would spend eternity in hell?
but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.
- Why didn’t He explain from the beginning that the consequences would be eternal punishment? God pronounced temporal curses on Adam and Eve and their descendants after the fall. Why didn’t He ever mention eternal punishment? If eternal punishment is what awaits the majority, why isn’t it emphasized from the very beginning of the Old Testament? Why are there only warnings of temporal judgments?
So now you are cursed from the earth, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand. 12 When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield its strength to you. A fugitive and a vagabond you shall be on the earth." 13 And Cain said to the Lord, "My punishment is greater than I can bear! 14 Surely You have driven me out this day from the face of the ground; I shall be hidden from Your face; I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond on the earth, and it will happen that anyone who finds me will kill me." 15 And the Lord said to him, "Therefore, whoever kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold." And the Lord set a mark on Cain, lest anyone finding him should kill him.
- This would have been a good moment to tell Cain that an eternal hell awaited him, but instead God put a seal of protection upon him.
…Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?
- Would it be right for a judge to give infinite punishment for a finite offense? What would you think of a judge who gives a death sentence for a traffic violation? Even God’s law limits punishment saying “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” because anything beyond that wouldn’t be a just punishment.
Forty blows he may give him and no more, lest he should exceed this and beat him with many blows above these, and your brother be humiliated in your sight.
…life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.
either three years of famine, or three months to be defeated by your foes with the sword of your enemies overtaking you, or else for three days the sword of the Lord — the plague in the land, with the angel of the Lord destroying throughout all the territory of Israel.' Now consider what answer I should take back to Him who sent me." 13 And David said to Gad, "I am in great distress. Please let me fall into the hand of the Lord, for His mercies are very great; but do not let me fall into the hand of man."
- We see that David chose the judgment of God over falling into the hands of man, because the mercies of God are very great. Nevertheless, the consequences were great.
1 Samuel 2:6 NASU
The Lord kills and makes alive; He brings down to Sheol (Gr. Hades) and raises up.
2 Samuel 14:14
For we will surely die and become like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. Yet God does not take away a life; but He devises means, so that His banished ones are not expelled from Him.
1 Chronicles 16:34
Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.
1 Chronicles 16:41
…because His mercy endures forever
- Repeated 41 times in the Old Testament.
For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.
O you who hear prayer, to you all men will come. 3 When we were overwhelmed by sins, you forgave our transgressions.
Make a joyful shout to God, all the earth! 2 Sing out the honor of His name; Make His praise glorious. 3 Say to God, "How awesome are Your works! Through the greatness of Your power your enemies shall submit themselves to You. 4 All the earth shall worship You and sing praises to You; They shall sing praises to Your name."
You brought us into the net…. We went through fire and through water; But You brought us out to rich fulfillment.
Fill their faces with shame, that they may seek Your name, O Lord.
You turn man to destruction, and say, "Return, O children of men." 4 For a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it is past, and like a watch in the night.
Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth; Break forth in song, rejoice, and sing praises…. 7 Let the sea roar, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell in it… 9 For He is coming to judge the earth. With righteousness He shall judge the world, and the peoples with equity.
The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. 9 He will not always strive with us, nor will He keep His anger forever. (cf. Lam 3:31-33)
For the Lord will not cast off forever. 32 Though He causes grief, yet He will show compassion according to the multitude of His mercies. 33 For He does not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men.
Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.
So rend your heart, and not your garments; Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm.
Repeats “His mercy endures forever” in 26 times.
Isaiah 26:9 Isa 26:9
…For when Your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.
- Judgment is in order that we may learn. It is not simply for vengeance.
Isaiah 33:10, 14-16 NIV
Now will I arise," says the Lord. Now will I be exalted; now will I be lifted up…. 14 The sinners in Zion are terrified; trembling grips the godless: "Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?" 15 He who walks righteously and speaks what is right, who rejects gain from extortion and keeps his hand from accepting bribes, who stops his ears against plots of murder and shuts his eyes against contemplating evil — 16 this is the man who will dwell on the heights….
- Here we see that only those who walk righteously and with integrity will be able to dwell in God´s presence which is a consuming fire and eonian flames. Here both the fire and the chaff and straw of the unjust (11,12) are symbolic – The fire is God and the chaff and straw are the dead works of the wicked. Why should we think that the eonian fire of Matthew 25:41 is distinct from this consuming fire and eonian burning?
Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, yet I will not forget you.
Is My hand shortened at all that it cannot redeem? Or have I no power to deliver?
- Is God limited by man in His ability to save?
The Lord has made bare His holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; And all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.
With a little wrath I hid My face from you for a moment; But with everlasting kindness I will have mercy on you, says the Lord, your Redeemer.
- We see that it is His mercy which is eternal and not His wrath.
Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; And to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. 8 "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways," says the Lord. 9 "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.
- Traditionalists often cite this passage when one says that it is incomprehensible that a God of love would torment His creatures forever; “His thoughts are higher than our thoughts” they respond. But in the context Isaiah is speaking of the incomprehensibility of God’s mercy – not the incomprehensibility of His severity.
For I will not contend forever, nor will I always be angry; for the spirit would fail before Me, and the souls which I have made.
- Where do we find eternal wrath in the Bible?
O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps.
Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy.
- “To finish” and “to make an end of” do not harmonize with an eternal hell where sin would be perpetuated.
Hosea 13:14 ASV
I will ransom them from the power of Sheol; I will redeem them from death: O death, where are thy plagues? O Sheol, where is thy destruction? Repentance shall be hid from mine eyes. (i.e. “I will not even consider repenting of this”)
So he prayed to the Lord, and said, "Ah, Lord, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness, One who relents from doing harm.
For I am the Lord, I do not change; therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob.
- Could it be that His love which “never ceases” ends with a heartbeat at one’s death but His wrath endures forever?
The anger of the Lord will not turn back Until He has executed and performed the thoughts of His heart. In the latter days you will understand it perfectly.
And you, even yourself, shall let go of your heritage which I gave you; And I will cause you to serve your enemies in the land which you do not know; For you have kindled a fire in My anger which shall burn forever (olam a-ad). (cf. Jer 30:3)
behold, I will send and take all the families of the north,' says the Lord, 'and Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant, and will bring them against this land, against its inhabitants, and against these nations all around, and will utterly destroy them, and make them an astonishment, a hissing, and perpetual (olam) desolations. (cf. Jer 30:3)
For behold, the days are coming,' says the Lord, 'that I will bring back from captivity My people Israel and Judah,' says the Lord. 'And I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it.
And Moab shall be destroyed as a people, because he exalted himself against the Lord…. 47 Yet I will bring back the captives of Moab in the latter days," says the Lord. Thus far is the judgment of Moab.
Are You not from everlasting, O Lord my God, my Holy One? We shall not die. O Lord, You have appointed them for judgment; O Rock, You have marked them for correction.
…whoever says ,'You fool!' shall be in danger of hell fire (Gehenna pur)…. 26 Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny.
And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. 35 So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.
- The punishment continues “until.” If God would never forgive us even after we have forgiven, than He would be requiring of us something He wouldn’t do Himself.
You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
- Would He tell us to do something He himself would not do? No. Loving our enemies makes us like our Father in Heaven.
For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.
- Is God’s justice measured, according to the offense, or is it infinite?
Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the Day of Judgment than for that city!
Which of the two did the will of his father? They said to Him, "The first." Jesus said to them, "Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him; but tax collectors and harlots believed him; and when you saw it, you did not afterward relent and believe him. (cf. Lu 13:28-30)
There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out. 29 They will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and sit down in the kingdom of God. 30 And indeed there are last who will be first, and there are first who will be last.
- They will be excluded but not eternally. The tax collectors and harlots enter before them – they will be last to enter but nevertheless will finally enter.
For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.
- The self-righteous religious leaders did not believe and therefore do not enter with those who were quick to believe. Nevertheless, they too will ultimately be saved because He is the Savior of all.
the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two (lash him severely) and appoint him his portion (meros) with the unbelievers. 47 And that servant who knew his master's will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. 48 But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few.
- Throughout Scripture we see that punishment is meted out with a just measure and not infinite. “Portion” is from the Greek word meros which means “that which is merited.” “Few” and “many” lashes indicate measured time of duration and not just severity. (Compare with the following texts)
and will cut him in two (lash him severely) and appoint him his portion (meros) with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
…shall have their part (meros) in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.
- Even the lake of fire is not infinite in duration, but rather measured to each one according one’s Works or merits.
For everyone will be salted with fire.
Mark 9:49 TEV
Everyone will be purified by fire as a sacrifice is purified by salt.
And they were greatly astonished, saying among themselves, "Who then can be saved?" 27 But Jesus looked at them and said, "With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible."
I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.
[i] “them” is not in the original Greek text, but was added by the translators.
[ii] The word “peoples” is not in the Greek text but was added by the translators, allowing Calvinists to say it only refers to “all peoples” or “people groups”.