Does the Greek word we get FOREVER from actually mean forever?
Aionas Ton Aionon Forever and ever
Is Hell eternal? It the fire really everlasting? Will the wicked suffer forever?
Revelation 20:10 says, "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,". In Matthew 25:41; 46 we read that wicked people will join the devil and his angels in [the lake of] “everlasting fire” [ie. eternal hell] where they will receive “everlasting punishment”.
The words “forever and ever” come from the Greek words, aionas ton aionon (αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων). This literally means, “ages of the ages”. These same Greek words are used to describe both the eternal nature of God and of Hell. In other words, the Bible says that God is eternal and is also says that hell is eternal. They are both “forever and ever”.
God is Eternal
"Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory forever and ever. Amen." (1 Timothy 1:17)
Hell is Eternal
"And a second time they said, "Hallelujah! Her smoke rises up forever and ever" (Revelation 19:3)
God is Eternal
"... To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honour and glory and dominion forever and ever." (Revelation 5:13)
Hell is Eternal
"And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet area also; and they will be tormented day and nightforever and ever," (Revelation 20:10)
It is not possible then that this word could be used one way when speaking of those condemned to hell and another way when speaking of God. You cannot look at these verses and say they tell you that God is eternal but hell is not. Both God and hell are forever.
Likewise, the Greek word aion is used to describe the eternal nature of both heaven and hell...
Heaven is Eternal
Mt 25:46 but the righteous into life eternal.
Hell is Eternal
Mt 25:46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: [but the righteous into life eternal.] 2 Thess 1:9 "these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord
Let’s look more closely at the phrase, “forever and ever” and be sure what it means.
19 times in the New Testament, the phrase “forever and ever” occurs. 18 of them it is translated as meaning forever and without end (Galatians 1:5; Philippians 4:20; 1 Timothy 1:17; 2 Timothy 4:18; Hebrews 13:21; 1 Peter 4:11, 5:11; Revelation 1:6, 18, 4:9, 10, 5:13, 7:12, 10:6, 11:15, 14:11, 15:7, 20:10, 22:5). The exception is In Rev. 19:3 where the phrase is used to describe the destruction of the great whore of Babylon.
In the table above, "forever and ever" is translated from the Greek, "aionas ton aionon," (αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων) which is literally "ages of the ages." [In Rev. 14:11, the Greek is slightly different: "aionas aionon" (αἰῶνας αἰώνων) which is literally, "ages of ages." Here the single Greek word "the" is missing. But this does not make any difference whatsoever to the meaning of the text].
If hell is without end, then it must continue for infinity. God continues for infinity. Hell and those thrown into it, continue for infinity. If hell only existed to destroy the wicked so that they ceased to exist, then why would the Bible say that hell’s fire is everlasting (Matthew18:8, 25:41) eternal – (Jude 1:7) unquenchable (Matthew 3:12) and the fire that never shall be quenched – (Mark 9:43, 44, 45, 46, 48). Why does God need to keep the fires of hell burning if it’s job is just to destroy the wicked (angels and people) so that they cease to exist. He may as well get rid of it after it has done its job. But he doesn’t because hell is eternal for a reason.
Knowing that the Greek words aionas ton aionon mean forever, you can be sure that when the Bible speaks of eternal punishment, it means that the punishment is “forever and ever.” In other words, punishment will not cease. In Matthew 25 those who join the devil and his angels will be punished forever and ever. Their punishment will not cease.
Some have thought that punishment means destruction. In other words, the wicked are destroyed in hell and cease to exist (as taught by Jehovah’s Witnesses and Seventh Day Adventists). They teach that ceasing to exist, annihilation, is their punishment. But apart from the fact that punishment involves pain (so ceasing to exist can hardly be called punishment since you will have no awareness of anything – pain or otherwise) the Bible clearly says the wicked will be tormented, DAY and NIGHT forever and ever. It says this more than once.
Contrary to what some believe, the wicked will not be tormented on just one day (the day of judgement) as they realize they are about to be destroyed and cease to exist. Rather, the Bible teaches that the wicked will have no rest for all eternity. They will be tormented in the lake of hell fire and that the smoke of their torment will go up day and night forever and ever (Revelation 14:11, 20:10).
Punishment in the lake of hell fire is eternal because the wicked have sinned against God who is Holy and eternal.
The righteous on the other hand (made righteous by the blood of Christ and faith in him) will enter their eternal “rest” (Hebrews 4:1, 9) on the day of judgement.
"And these shall go away into everlasting punishment; but the righteous into life eternal" (Matthew 25:46).
“If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.” - Spurgeon