What Is The Difference Between Hell and The Lake Of Fire In The Bible?

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

What is the difference between hell and the lake of fire? Are they the same or are they different?

Is Annihilation Biblical?

Jesus spoke twice as much about hell as He ever did heaven, but why? It was because He didn’t want anyone to go there. If you knew that there was a bridge out around the corner, but no one else did, you’d be frantically trying to stop traffic so that people wouldn’t be killed, wouldn’t you? Naturally you would, so that’s why Jesus spoke so often about hell. He wouldn’t take up so much of His ministry warning people about hell if they were simply burned up as some believe. People who believe this are called annihilationists, but is this true? Are unrepentant people simply annihilated after the judgment? There is no way to support this belief from the Bible. The Bible plainly states when the unsaved die, they await a final judgment of their sins in a place called Hades (the Greek word for the Hebrew word sheol), however this isn’t the final destination of the unsaved. They are ultimately judged at the Great White Throne Judgment mentioned in Revelation 20:11-15. The Prophet Daniel wrote of these last days by writing that “many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt” (Dan 12:2). Daniel must have wondered about when this was to be, but God simply told Daniel to “shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase” (Dan 12:4). Is this “the time of the end” when the sealed book is now open? Certainly in this world, many are running to and fro, and knowledge has increased exponentially, but sadly, it’s not the knowledge of God that is increased, but the knowledge of facts, which doesn’t help any in knowing Christ.

what-is-the-difference-between-hell-and-the-lake-of-fire-in-the-bible

The Great White Throne Judgment

In speaking of sheol, it appears to be temporary; however the lake of fire is not. In the Great White Throne Judgment, the Apostle John writes down what Jesus told him to (Rev 1:1-2), and so he wrote that he “saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them” (Rev 20:11). While there, John “saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done” (Rev 20:12). This is fatal because no one can be saved by works (Eph 2:8-9), and since many think they’re a good person, they believe their works will earn them access to heaven, however God will not accept human works. It must be the righteousness of Christ or nothing (2nd Cor 5:21). For those who believe their works can save them, they will face “the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Rev 20:14b-15).

The Lake of Fire

There are several places in the Book of Revelation where John witnesses a lake of fire, and this lake of fire, whether literal flames or not, is given in Revelation chapters 19 and 20. In Revelation 19:20, John wrote that “the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur.” This is the final destination for Satan and his demons. Scripture says “the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Rev 20:14). The Greek word for the “lake of fire” is “limnē,” for lake, and is the same word used elsewhere for lakes of water. But this lake is different because it’s a lake of fire. The Greek word used for fire is “pyr” which is the same word used for fires, as in the fire that the Apostle Paul threw the snake into after it had bitten him (Acts 28:5), so it’s not an analogy of a fire or symbolic of fire, but it must be the real fire, as in fire that burns. The warnings about hell fire are given throughout Scripture, specifically in the New Testament where John writes about all who have refused to trust in Christ, warning, “if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Rev 20:15).

Hell and the Lake of Fire

Where is hell? We don’t know the specific location of where hell is except that it’s sometimes referred to as being “down,” but we do know that it’s a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth (signifying eternal regret), of outer darkness, and is permanent. This is why evangelism is so important. You wouldn’t wish that on your worst enemy. It’s so terrible that it’s beyond description and it’s beyond comprehension, and only those that are there can know what such torment feels like. When hell is mentioned, it is often associated with fire, so hell and the lake of fire seem to be referring to the same place. Jesus warned His listeners about the reality of hell and the permanent state of being there as He said it is “where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ For everyone will be salted with fire” (Mark 9:48-49). Most people might miss the fact that it’s their own worm that does not die…meaning that it’s specific to them. What is this worm? Is it the conscience being tormented because they knew in their hearts that God truly does exist but they simply suppressed this knowledge, and so they have no excuse at all (Rom 1:18-20)?

Conclusion

The Bible says that hell and the lake of fire are real. There is no second chance after death, as some cults falsely teach, and which cannot be found in the Bible. The Bible says today is the day of salvation (2nd Cor 6:2). Jesus warned about hell so many times because He knows that it’s real, and of course, He doesn’t desire that anyone perish, as the Apostle Peter writes that God is “not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2nd Pet 3:9), so let me ask what the Apostle Paul asked his audience: “do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance” (Rom 2:4)?

Related reading: Is Annihilationism Biblical?

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.



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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Timothy Apaesi October 9, 2018 at 9:43 pm

I want to get free daily updates and books as mentioned above.

Thank you

Timothy Apaesi

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Jack Wellman October 9, 2018 at 9:54 pm

I just got you signed up sir. Thank you so much for subscribing to our newsletter/devotionals.

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Colins Kimutai March 23, 2019 at 9:08 am

I would also like to get registered of the same

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Lebi Joseph February 17, 2019 at 2:27 pm

Thanks for your scriptural observation about the the relationship between Hell and lake of fire.May I remind you that Job pleaded to go there (job14:13&14),Jesus our Lord also went there (acts2:31).Hell for what it is refers to literal grave of every human. Lake of fire symbolizes total destruction as reflected at Revelations 20:14&15 hence those referred to by the Bible as going there where symbolic viz;false prophets, the wild beast and hell itself (rev19:20;20:14).Therefore the teaching of hell having fire to destroy eternally is not biblically founded as the teaching were sourced by ancient Roman philosophers. There are too numerous scriptures to corroborate the nullity of hellfire. Thanks.

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Jack Wellman February 17, 2019 at 2:36 pm

Hello Lebi. Jesus used the same, exact word for eternal in describing those who could reciever eternal life by believing in Him. They recieve eternal life or enternal destruction…both are forever and without end. I have an old lawnmower that was destroyed when I accidentally ran over an old tree stump. The shaft was bent and useless. The lawnmower was forever and irrevocoablly destroyed, but it did not go out of existance. It is stillthere….in my guarauage, so hell is eternal and a person is there as Jesus said, it is where “their (personal) worm never dies”. Please study further on this subject. If hell is not eternal, then hell is not eternal, as Jesus used the same word for both so both are eternal. The definition of destruction does not mean “to go out of existence.”

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COLINS KIMUTAI March 23, 2019 at 8:57 am

May God bless you so much Jack Wellman. I’ve been following your teachings and i can testify with the spirit of Almighty Father in heaven that you teachings are true. May our Lord continue giving you His knowledge and wisdom.

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ALVIN THOMPSON April 3, 2019 at 9:06 am

Love your website!

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Adrian June 13, 2019 at 7:05 pm

I’m not sure where you get your claim that “Jesus spoke twice as much about hell as He ever did heaven” from. There are 11 references to Gehenna and 4 references to Hades in the Gospels. This is not more than the 153 references to heaven.

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Jack Wellman June 13, 2019 at 9:33 pm

Thank you Adrian, but you must also include the words judgment and condemnation and hell since these are interchagably linked. There are other words Jesus uses for hell like “outer darkness,” etc. so you must realize Jesus spoke more about judgment (hell without CHrist) than He did the kingdom.

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Alexis April 6, 2020 at 12:08 am

Thank you for all of this wonderful information, it was very helpful i could not sleep because my mind was full of thoughts of when the end was going to come and just so many questions and i took notes and this answered the ones i was mostly concerned about at the moment. I am only 13 and to be honest i am not really close with God/Jesus i was raised with a church but i just never really understood and i would have second thoughts with everything and doubt God’s word but this website really helped thank you.

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Aliede emmanuel September 17, 2020 at 2:04 am

Hell is more than real

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Addai Francis November 1, 2020 at 3:23 am

Good teachings ondiluted great

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Jack Wellman November 3, 2020 at 11:19 am

Thank you so kindly Addai.

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Kile November 16, 2020 at 9:17 pm

If you read revelation 20:11-15 and 22:8 it shows Hell and death being cast into the lake of fire and the lake of fire being referred to as the second death. Only three beings are shows to be eternally tormented the devil (satan) the beast and the false prophet. It seems to me that at the appointed time of judgement every one but these three are eternally destroyed. This is just from a plain reading of scripture. God’s judgement is true either way all glory to God. It’s just plain reading “especially the parable of the wheat and tares” says destruction because tares don’t burn eternally they are consumed

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Jack Wellman November 16, 2020 at 10:04 pm

Hello Kile. You failed to mention the last verse in Rev 20 which says ” And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Rev 20:15), so all the unsaved will have their part in the lake of fire (Rev 21:9) and failed to read “The one who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son. 8 But for the cowardly, and unbelieving, and abominable, and murderers, and sexually immoral persons, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Rev 21:7-8). These show the unsaved all go to the lake of fire…so you are wrong. There are far more than 3 that go there. read Rev 20:15 & 21:7-8 and dozens of times Jesus mentioning the everlasting fire where their worm is not quenched. You are wrong to teach annihilation which is not in Scripture…that has long been a heresy of the early church until today.

Elsewhere we read:

Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire (Matthew 18:8, 9).

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41).

Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched (Mark 9:44).

And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame (Luke 16:24).

In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thessalonians 1:8).

And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire (Jude 6, 7).

Please find a good study Bible and you’ll see you are believing (but hopefully not teaching others) doctrinal error. Please repent of this.

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Enadeba November 23, 2020 at 10:03 am

1)What is the difference between hell fire and lake of fire? Or are they the same?
2)In the doctrine of trinity.,God the Father,the son ,the HolySpirit are three different persons acting as one.Now,am I wrong if I should say -GOD is a Spirit and this Spirit is different from God the HolySpirit though they act as one?
Sorry for the deviation,just want to know much about my belief

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Jack Wellman November 23, 2020 at 1:30 pm

Hello Enadeba. Here is an article to help you know what the Trinity is all about and how each One is a distinct Person: https://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/the-trinity-a-bible-study/ As for hellfire and the lake of fire, please read this again as we just wrote about this in the article you are commenting on. The lake of fire is a term used in only a few verses near the end in the book of Revelation (Revelation 19:20; 20:10, 14, 15; 21:8). Jesus refers to Gehenna/hell several times (Matthew 10:28; Mark 9:43; Luke 12:5), as well as an “outer darkness” (Matthew 8:12; 22:13). These all seem to be different references to the same thing. Hell, the lake of fire, and outer darkness are all terms describing the final destination of those who reject Christ. This is a state of complete separation from God, never-ending and inescapable.

According to the Bible, the lake of fire is the “second death.” This is the ultimate consequence of sin, which is to be totally cut off from God. The lake of fire will be a place of perpetual suffering and misery. Scripture indicates that every person whose name is not in the Book of Life will be cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:15). The lake of fire will also be the fate of the beast and false prophet from the end times (Revelation 19:20), as well as Satan himself (Revelation 20:10). The Bible indicates that both death and Hades—the temporary destination of the unsaved dead—will also be cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:14).

Even though hell is described using terminology such as fire and flame, it is not meant to be thought of as only a physical place. Hell is described as a place of “torment,” not “torture,” initially intended for purely spiritual beings (Matthew 25:41). In fact, the worst aspect of hell is an eternity of conscious, guilty, shameful separation from God and all forms of goodness. In that sense, hell is far worse than a literal inferno; a purely physical hell is actually not as terrible as what the Bible describes.

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