There are many passages which discuss the subject of hell and how long it shall exist. Here is some biblical evidence that shows that hell is eternal punishment. In Jesus’ parable of the separation of the sheep and the goats at the final judgment, he says to the goats, “Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt 25:41). In this passage, the place to which the wicked are sent is the place “prepared for the devil and his angels.” The destiny of wicked angels is the same destiny of wicked men. In the intervening time between the sin of the wicked angels and their eternal punishment, these angels are reserved in a place of torment described as follows: “For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment” (2 Pet. 2:4). “And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day” (Jude 6).
Already the angels who sinned have suffered for thousands of years as they await the final judgment. They are not in a state of unconscious existence but in a place of torment. Wicked men who pass away are placed in this place along with sinful angels. Peter described the wicked dead as “spirits in prison” (1 Pet. 3:19). This picture is remarkably similar to the intermediate state of the wicked dead as described in Luke 16:19-31. The final end of the Devil is described in Revelation 20. After his thwarted attempt to oppose God’s will, the Devil is ultimately defeated and cast into torment. The text says, “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Rev. 20:10). The devil verily “shall be tormented.”
What does the Bible teach is the ultimate destiny of the devil and his angels? They will be “cast into the lake of fire and brimstone” and “shall be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Rev. 20:10). Its use in Revelation is particularly important: The phrase is used of the angels ceaselessly praising God around his throne (Rev. 4:8), of the righteous who serve God day and night in heaven (Rev. 7:15), of the uninterrupted accusations that the Devil makes against the saints (Rev. 12:10), and here of the uninterrupted torment given to the devil (20:10). The uninterrupted (“day and night”) torment shall continue “forever and ever.”
The scriptures speak of eternal salvation and eternal damnation. Concerning eternal salvation, we find: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have ‘everlasting life'” (Jn 3:16). “And having been perfected, He became the author of ‘eternal salvation’ to all who obey Him” (Heb 5:9-10). “Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained ‘eternal redemption'” (Heb 9:12).
Concerning eternal damnation the scriptures reveal: “. . . when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with ‘everlasting destruction’ from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (2 Thess 1:7-9). “He who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to ‘eternal condemnation'” (Mk 3:29). “As Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of ‘eternal fire'” (Jude 7).
The torment of the devil and his angels is uninterrupted (day and night) and endless (forever and ever). Their punishment is not annihilation but “torment.” Remember that, if the torment of wicked men ceases, so also does the torment of the Devil. In the same context as Matthew 25:41, Jesus said, “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal” (Matt 25:46).
It does most plainly and without any doubt follows, that if the Scriptures have not asserted the endless punishment of the wicked, neither have they asserted the endless happiness of the righteous, nor the endless glory and existence of the Godhead. The one is equally certain with the other. Both are laid in the same balance. Conclusively, eternal” punishment lasts just as long as “eternal” life.