Does hell truly include fire and burning? Some have interpreted references to the fires of hell as allegory rather than literal. What does the Bible really say?
Is there literally fire and brimstone in hell?
In Mark 9:43, Jesus taught, "If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire." Those who die apart from Christ can expect this description of judgment given by Jesus that includes unending fire.
In Luke 16:19-31, Jesus also taught about Lazarus (in heaven) and the rich man (in hell). He shared, "The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame'" (Luke 16:22-24).
At the end of time, the Bible also presents a graphic picture regarding the eternal destiny of unbelievers. Revelation 20 states that those who are not with Christ in eternity will join Satan in the lake of fire. About this location, it is noted, "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" (Revelation 20:10). Death and Hades will be cast into this lake of fire, indicating an eternity of pain for those who will dwell there: "Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is 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" (Revelation 20:14-15).
In the following chapter, Revelation 21:8 adds, "But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death." This lake of fire will include burning, fire, and sulfur. These appear to not only be analogies or allegories, but indicate literal pain and suffering by some kind of burning and fire.
Some argue that in eternity, these judgment may be different from the idea of fire we understand. While this may be true, every indication of eternity apart from God uses terms like torment, unquenchable fire, and burning. This appears to indicate a painful, tormenting eternal existence that contrasts the great joy of those who dwell in eternity with Christ. The Bible is clear in its teachings about the severity of hell, yet is also clear that God offers a solution through faith in Jesus Christ that provides eternal life (John 3:16; Romans 10:9-10).
Is hell real? Is hell really forever?
Is the Divine Comedy/Dante's Inferno biblically accurate?
Does hell have levels, each with a different degree of punishment?
Is the account of Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16:19-31 a parable or did it actually occur?
Is hell fair?
Truth about Eternity