Is annihilationism true?

by Matt Slick

Annihilationism is the teaching that the unbeliever, after death, will eventually be annihilated. Annihilation is the teaching that the non-Christian ceases to exist after death. Within this view are two main categories.  First, that the unredeemed will automatically be annihilated.  Second, that the unredeemed, after an appropriate amount of time of suffering, will be annihilated. The reason for these positions are also twofold:  First, people do not like the idea of a person suffering eternally for his sins.  Second, some claim it makes God unjust.  Let's take a look at these two issues.

First of all, the Scriptures do not teach annihilationism.

Forever and Ever

aionas ton aionon
"ages of the ages"
Eternal - without end Eternal Damnation
"Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen," (1 Tim. 1:17).

". . . To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever," (Rev. 5:13).

"And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; and they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name," (Rev. 14:11).

"And a second time they said, "Hallelujah! Her smoke rises up forever and ever," (Rev. 19:3).

"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," (Rev. 20:10).

You can see that "forever and ever" is a phrase used of the glory of God that will never cease (1 Tim. 1:17; Rev. 5:13). The same phrase is used to speak of the torment of people that will never cease (Rev. 19:3; 20:10; ). Therefore, annihilationism simply can't work in light of what the Scriptures teach.

Also, there is a danger of teaching a form of works righteousness in annihilation is him, particularly in the area of someone suffering for a period of time and then being annihilated. Basically, a person who has suffered an appropriate amount of time would then be delivered from that suffering -- because of his punishment. In other words, after the person has suffered enough, he has earned deliverance from the wrath of God. Annihilation is being delivered from the suffering.

But some might say that the annihilation is eternal punishment. But how do you punish someone who does not exist? You cannot. You can't eternally punish someone who has no existence. Eternal punishment only works when the person is in existence.







About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.