The subject of DEATH, natural immortality of the Soul, the
RESURRECTION, and the reward of the wicked (do they burn in a
hell-fire for ever?), has been covered by the late Dr. Basil
Atkinson, and by myself, in numerous studies on this Website (see
under "Death, then what?" - "Enoch, Moses and Elijah" - "Mansions
in the Sky?" - "Will we get to heaven?").
There is one other passage, that gives people trouble, and
that is Revelation 14:9-11. It has not been covered in-depth, so
I want to try and do that in this study. But first there are
important Bible study principles we must understand.
1. There are passages in the Bible that are indeed hard to
understand. The apostle Peter acknowledge such was the case in
referring to the apostle Paul's writings. "And account that the
longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved
brother Paul also according to the wisdom given him has written
unto you. As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these
things; in which ARE SOME THINGS HARD TO UNDERSTAND, which they
that are unlearned and unstable, wrest, as they do also the
other scriptures, unto their own destruction" (2 Peter 3: 15-16).
God has at times, inspired some passage of Scripture to be
"hard to understand" on the surface, or putting it another way,
seemingly to contradict many plain easy to understand passage and
verses of the Bible.
2. People "unlearned" as Peter said, do often west or
misunderstand these hard to understand passage, to their own hurt
and even destruction. I do not think Peter had in mind here, when
he said "unlearned," those who did not have "theological degrees"
or theological training in some established Theology school,
after all Peter himself had none of that, for he was a fisherman
by trade. No, I think Peter meant by using the word "unlearned"
as those who had not studied the Bible from cover to cover,
reading it all, and able to rightly put together ALL passages and
verses on a particular subject, knowing that you understand the
hard verses in the light of the easy plain verses, not the other
way around. And that there cannot be any contradictions in God's
word, although there may seem to be some.
3. On just about all Bible subjects there are plain easy to
understand verses on that particular subject. Those verses should
be taken first and THEN the hard verses SECOND. When we do this,
in that order, we can usually come to understand and interpret
the hard verses.
4. It is important to remember that the original Old
Testament and the original New Testament of Hebrew and Greek (the
old being written in Hebrew and the New written in Greek) did NOT
have punctuation of sentences and paragraphs.
5. It is important to have in mind some of the keys to be
able to understand some of the passages in the prophetic books,
like Revelation. I have covered the basics of those in another
study called "Points on Prophecy" which I ask the reading to
study. It is under the heading "Prophecy" on this Website.
6. The Bible does use "figures of speech" at times. So much
so, that Dr. Bullinger thought it necessary to write a one
thousand plus page book on the subject of "Figures of Speech in
Now, with the above in mind and in hand, I think we can come
to understand Revelation 14: 9-11.
We enter by knowing that the Bible has many clear, plain,
easy to read verses, that show us that mankind was not ever given
a natural immortal soul, that death is death, not life, and that
people do NOT continue to think, speak, and walk around a heaven,
if they have been "good Christians" nor do they burn forever with
moans of pain in some fire that never burns them up, if they died
These verses then in Revelation 14: 9-11 do NOT contradict
the rest of the Bible passages on this subject of natural
immortality and hell-fire.
The context of Revelation 14 9-11 is NEAR the very end of
this age, when the end-time Babylon will come crashing down. It
is very near the time when the Son of man comes in a cloud with a
crown on His head, to reap the harvest of human lives (verses
14-20). We see that those who worship the beast and his image
shall "drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out
without mixture into the cup of His indignation; and shall be
tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy
angels, and in the presence of the Lamb" (verse 10.
This ties in with 2 Thessalonians chapter one. "And to you
who are troubled, rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be
REVEALED from heaven with His mighty angels. In flaming FIRE,
taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the
gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Who shall be punished with
everlasting destruction (the destruction is everlasting or as the
Greek can be read, "age-lasting" destruction - the 1,000 year age
that is now going to commence with Jesus' coming in powerful
glory) from the glory and power. When (the time frame) He shall
COME to be glorified in His saints (when the saints will be
resurrected to glory in the resurrection at Jesus' return) and to
be admired in all them that believe...in THAT day" (verses 7-10).
Yes, Jesus shall come with angels, on a cloud, to punish
many wicked and to raise the dead saints and glorify them. All
this I have covered in detail in many other studies.
This passage in 2 Thessalonians is the same time as that in
Revelation 14: 9-11.
Jesus will use some kind of fire power to torment and
destroy His enemies. If fire is thrown at you, and you are on
fire, it is indeed torment and pain until you are dead.
So far, nothing too unusual here. The enemies of Jesus, will
upon His return, be put to death in the torment of fire and
brimstone. Their death will not be some painless "lethal
injection" of a drug that puts you to death quietly and
painlessly, but the death of Jesus' enemies at His coming will be
fire-fully horrific, and be torment until they are dead from the
fire and brimstone.
Then we have the words in verse 11, "And the SMOKE of their
torment ascends up for ever and ever...."
Notice, it does NOT say, "And they were living for ever and
ever in painful torment" or "And they lived forever in the fire,
with painful suffering."
It is the SMOKE of their TORMENT, yes the end result of the
fire and brimstone that will kill them, put them to death (and we
have seen in the many other studies on this Website exactly what
death IS), is that they will die, and the atom particles of the
smoke of the fire that burns up those physical humans, will in
one sense, go up floating around for ever, or as the Greek reads,
"the ages of the ages."
When do atoms, that you can no longer see with the human
eye, of burned things that fire consumes, ever not be atoms?
Then, the phrase "the ages of ages" in this context (it is
used of God Himself in chapter 5: 14, and that context is
obviously meaning "eternity" as God is and will live for
eternity) may well be a figure of speech used by the inspired
writer, John the apostle, to tell us that their destruction by
fire and brimstone, is very permanent, for the conditions
of their death at this time. Sometimes in the Old Testament, the
word "forever" in regards to some things was "forever, within the
limit of conditions." The reader can look at the word "forever"
in Strong's Concordance, and see that sometimes as used in the
OT, it was forever within conditions, and did not mean for
Here I think John has ended his thought on the enemies of
God, which he started back in verse 9. He has finished his
telling us that those enemies of God who worship the beast and
his image, and who are living right up to the very coming of
Jesus in a cloud, with the angels, will be killed with fire and
brimstone and will be burned up as that is what physical fire
does, it burns things up, and the smoke ascends, the atoms of
fire and smoke eventually become invisible to the human eye, but
they are still up there, for all practical purposes (maybe no
practical purpose) for ever so to speak. For again I say,
when does physical atoms of anything physical give up being
physical atoms. I think only if God tells the physical to not be
physical and to not exist as physical any longer. Remember it is
written that God created all the physical and none physical
(spirit creatures etc.) of the whole universe from that which did
not exist (Colossians 1: 15-17).
I believe this is where we should have a full stop. After
the words "for ever and ever."
Then John goes back to another thought and to another time
period. The time period is when those enemies of God are fully
worshipping the beast and its image. They are living their
physical lives under the beast and its image. They have decided
to follow and live as the beast and its image tell them. They are
in a "big brother is watching you" life and society. Think what
it will one day be like to have the beast power and its image
ruling over millions of people. A dictatorship, a power that
governs your every move, how you must think, how you must act,
how you must live your life 24 hours a day. It matters
not whether it is day or night, if you are awake, if you are
doing anything while not sleeping, you must be governed by this
beast and its image power. Step out of line with its teachings,
orders, wishes, governance, and you are heading for such trouble
that such actions could cost you your life. The book of
Revelation tells us that many true Christians will indeed die
under the end-time Babylon beast and its image, when it rules
Those who live under its power will have to watch their
every step, even their words of speech, certainly how they act in
their work time and in their leisure time. It will indeed be the
time when the all seeing eye of the Babylon beast will be
monitoring every person alive under its rulership. Such a way of
life for those under the beast and its image can hardly be said
to be "rest." God through the apostle John, said such people
living and worshipping the beast and its image will have "no rest
day or night."
This has nothing to do with after they are dead. It has
nothing to do with them having a natural immortal soul, that will
be punished forever in some fire that gives them pain but never
burns them up. It has all to do with when they are living their
physical life under the dictatorship of the Babylon beast power.
Truly they will have no peace of mind, they will have no mental
rest, no emotional rest, they will be in constant mental turmoil
knowing they are being watched in everything they say and do, at
night time or in the day time.
Christians will have peace of mind, they will have rest in
mind, for although they may be put to death for NOT worshipping
the beast and its image, they know they are one with God the
Father and Jesus Christ. Those who will keep the commandments of
God and have the faith of Jesus, may die under the beast
government but they will have "rest" both in their minds and in
the grave, until Jesus returns to raise them from the dead
into glorified life (Rev. 14:12,13; 11:15-19).
I see this passage of Scripture in Revelation 14 being
divided into two sections, two thoughts if you will. The first
starts with verse 9 and ends with "for ever and ever" in verse
11, and there we should put a full stop. It is the thought and
the teaching of what will happen to those who worship the beast
and its image, and who are alive at the coming of Jesus in power
and glory. They will be killed in a death of fire and brimstone.
Then the second thought and teaching begins in verse 11 with
"And they had no rest." This thought is concerning "rest" of the
peace of mind. Those worshipping the beast and its image will
have no rest of mind when awake either night or day, while those
who serve God and keep His commandments and have Jesus' faith,
will have rest in peace of mind, even if they rest in the sleep
of death from the persecution of the beast power.
This section of inspired Scripture does not in any way
contradict all the plain easy to understand passages of Scripture
that tell us that man does not have a natural immortal soul, that
if a person dies being a sinner and unsaved, that they will burn
in a hell-fire that will give them physical pain for all
God is a kind and merciful God. If someone does not want to
be "saved" into His Kingdom and eternal life, then they will one
day be burnt up and be ashes under the feet of the righteous.
They will die and will never exist again, their punishment for
turning down God's gift of salvation through Jesus Christ will be
that they die and do not exist in any way, shape, or form, with
no thoughts, mind....just simply not existing. For those
accepting Jesus as their savior and serving God, there will be
GLORIFIED LIFE that can hardly be imagined, so great and so
wonderful will it be for all eternity.
Written June 2003
All studies by Keith Hunt and on this Website, may be copied,
published, emailed, and distributed as led by the Spirit. Mr.
Hunt trusts nothing will be changed (except for spelling and
punctuation errors) without his consent.