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Once the final judgment comes what is the punishment of the wicked?

 Is punishment to be eternal torment, eternal separation from God or total extinction?

Thank you for asking a question on This is your Bible.

(All quotations from the New King James translation unless stated otherwise).

According to the Bible the sentence for all and every sin is death.

Ezekiel 18:4...The soul who sins shall die.

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death...

In death there is no conscious existence.

Ecclesiastes 9:5 For the living know that they will die; But the dead know nothing, And they have no more reward, For the memory of them is forgotten.

We all sin and are all condemned to die. The only way that we can escape death is by resurrection from the dead.
Resurrection from the dead is only possible by belief in Jesus Christ.

Mark 16:15 And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.

Those who will not believe are condemned like animals to remain in the grave forever.

Ecclesiastes 3:18 I said in my heart, "Concerning the condition of the sons of men, God tests them, that they may see that they themselves are like animals." 19 For what happens to the sons of men also happens to animals; one thing befalls them: as one dies, so dies the other. Surely, they all have one breath; man has no advantage over animals, for all is vanity. 20 All go to one place: all are from the dust, and all return to dust.

The majority of people fall into this category, when they die, they cease to have any conscious existence and so cannot know that they are separated from God. Death is their punishment, there is no further judgment.

AV Proverbs 21:16 The man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead.

Psalms 49:17 For when he dies he shall carry nothing away; His glory shall not descend after him. 18 Though while he lives he blesses himself (For men will praise you when you do well for yourself), 19 He shall go to the generation of his fathers; They shall never see light. 20 A man who is in honor, yet does not understand, Is like the beasts that perish.
Those that come to an understanding of the purpose of God fall into a different category. By their knowledge they become responsible for resurrection from the dead to the judgment of the just (righteous) and the unjust (unrighteous).

Paul speaks of this in Acts 24.

Acts 24:15 I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust.

This resurrection will brought about by Christ who is the appointed judge.

John 5:28 Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice 29 "and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.

The ‘all’ has to be understood in the restricted sense of ‘all who have understanding’. This is clear from Daniel where the prophecy speaks of ‘many’ rather than ‘everyone’.

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.

The judgment is based on whether they have shown the love of God in their dealings with their fellowmen.

Matthew 25:40 "And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

Matthew 25:45 "Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’

The lake of fire in revelation is not to be understood as literal because Revelation is a book of symbols. This becomes apparent when we see that the things thrown into the lake of fire are also symbols. The beast, the false prophet, death, the grave, the devil and his angels are not intended to be understood as literal.
The lake of fire represents complete destruction and is a symbol of the second death as Revelation 20 makes clear.

Revelation 20:14 Then Death and Hades (the grave) were cast into the lake of fire. This is (or represents) the second death.

‘This is’ being used the same way as Matthew 26:26.

Matthew 26:26... Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; ‘this is’ (represents) my body.

Those who are rejected at this judgement having been raised from the dead are condemned to death for the second time. This is why it is called the second death. Between the resurrection and their second death there will be the anguish of the realisation of the prize that they had rejected in their lives.

Luke 13:28 There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.

In death there can be no consciousness because the equipment which gives consciousness has returned to dust.

In conclusion:
  • For those without understanding of God’s purpose who sin the sentence is eternal death.
  • For those with understanding of God’s purpose who repent and try to live by his commandments, the reward after resurrection from the dead and acceptance, is eternal life.
  • For those with understanding of God’s purpose who refuse to repent and try to live by his commandments, the punishment after resurrection from the dead and rejection, is eternal death.
I hope this helps.
Glenn Smith
 
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