Is annihilationism a Biblical doctrine?

Published 8:39 am Friday, May 12, 2017

There is indeed a doctrine in the religious world that supports the idea of annihilationism. In general, annihilationists believe that there will be torment for the wicked, yet, the torment will be short lived and at varying intensity and those that miss heaven will eventually be annihilated. We must ask ourselves if this doctrine is a part of that which Jude said was once delivered to the saints.

One thing is very certain. If a doctrine comes too late then it is probably a doctrine that is subject to falsehood or it is one that is developed by misunderstanding and a lack of knowledge of God’s Holy Word. Such is the case for annihilationism. The time-honored concept of hell is the one that was held to by the vast and overwhelming majority of the first century Church. How could so many Christians, living and learning during and close to the time of the Apostles, have missed it on this point? The truth is they didn’t miss the point.
Annihilationists point out the words of Jesus, “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” (Matthew 10:28 KJV). In the previous statement of Jesus we should consider the Greek word which is translated to our English word destroy. The Greek word is apollumi (ap-ol’-loo-mee), and it is the same Greek word that is translated “lost” in Luke 15:4. In Luke we are presented with the proposition of a “lost” sheep. Now if the Greek word means annihilation, how could this little sheep be found again? The truth is that the sheep was found and brought home; it was not annihilated. Friends, lost does not always mean annihilation.
There is no doubt that there are verses such as the previous that could be taken out of context to support annihilationism. Annihilationists use verses like: Matthew 10:28, Malachi 4:1-3, Matthew 7:13; John 3:16; 17:12; Acts 8:20; Romans 9:22-23; Phil. 1:28; 3:19; 2 Thess. 2:3; 1 Tim. 6:9; Heb. 10:39; 2 Pet. 2:1; 1 Thess. 5:3; 2 Thess. 1:9; 1 Tim. 6:9).
However, there is much biblical evidence against annihilationism. Consider the following. (Isaiah 66:24) — “And they shall go forth and look upon the corpses of the men who have transgressed against Me. For their worm does not die, and their fire is not quenched. They shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.” (Daniel 12:2) — “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt.” (Matthew 18:6) — “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” (If annihilation is true, then how could this verse make sense?) (Matthew 18:8) — “ … It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire.” (If annihilation is true, then why an everlasting fire?) Jude in verse (7) speaks of an eternal fire. In Matthew 25:41, Jesus states that there is an everlasting fire, then in verse 46 an everlasting punishment. In Mark 9:43, Jesus speaks of fire that shall never be quenched. In 2 Thessalonians 1:9, Paul speaks of an everlasting destruction. Peter said, “These are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever” (2 Peter 2:17). John wrote, “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36). In Rev. 20:10 we read, “The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”
Death is not annihilation or extinction. Some read Matthew 10:28 and think that destroy means ceasing to exist, however that same word is used in Romans 14:15 and cannot mean annihilation. In Romans 14:21, the same word is equated with stumbling. Finally, in Luke 16:19-31, Abraham, the rich man, and Lazarus all die; we find them discussing their current environment and remembering their past lives as they all continue to exist.
(Tony Hoss is minister at Centerview Church of Christ. To contact him call 423-737-2287 or e-mail

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