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Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology

Lake of Fire

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God's final retributive punishment. After Armageddon the beast and false prophet will be tossed into this "lake of burning sulfur, " joined by Satan at the millennium's end, and "tormented day and night for ever and ever" (Revelation 19:20 ; 20:10 ). After the final judgment, Hades (the personification of God's adversaries) and the wicked are cast here (Revelation 20:14-15 ). Jesus calls this "fiery furnace" gehenna [ Matthew 13:42 ; 18:8-9 ; 25:41 ).

The Old Testament explicitly portrays God's fiery judgment at history's consummation, but not hell (Isaiah 66:15-16,24 ; Ezekiel 38:22 ). This concept is developed during the intertestamental period (1Enoch 90:24-6; 103:8; 4Macc 12:12; 4Edras 7:38). Jesus extensively uses the imagery of "hell-fire" (Matthew 5:22 ; 7:19 ; 13:40-42,50 ; 18:8-9 ; 25:41 ; Mark 9:43,48-49 ; Luke 16:24 ; John 15:6 ), derived from the Old Testament descriptions of God's retributive judgment, particularly Sodom's ruin (Genesis 19:24 ; Leviticus 10:2 ; Numbers 16:35 ; Isaiah 34:10 ; Luke 17:29 ; Jude 7 ).

This lake of fire and associated imagery convey three important ideas. First, thrown into this lake, the wicked are permanently separated from God's love and good creation, and thus experience the "second death" (Revelation 20:14 ; 21:8 ). Second, fire denotes God's searing holiness exacting retribution for evil deeds (Hebrews 10:30 ; Revelation 14:9-11 ). Third, this "unquenchable fire" portrays hell as everlasting (Mark 9:43,48 ; Revelation 20:10 ).Timothy R. Phillips

See also Hell

Copyright Statement
Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology. Edited by Walter A. Elwell
Copyright © 1996 by Walter A. Elwell. Published by Baker Books, a division of Baker Book House Company, PO Box 6287, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49516-6287.
All rights reserved. Used by permission.
For usage information, please read the Baker Book House Copyright Statement.

Bibliography Information
Elwell, Walter A. Entry for 'Lake of Fire'. Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology. 1996.

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