I used to believe that people went to hell for eternity, but now I'm getting deeper into the scripture and there's a part of me that thinks that people are just destroyed. Yes there is gnashing of teeth and wailing, but the bible does say that people will "perish", and the definition of perish is: to die or be destroyed through violence. I know that the bible says that it is an everlasting flame, but how do we know that it's not just the devil and his angels that suffer for eternity? Or that it is an everlasting flame, but people just are destroyed through the flame? I'm just having a hard time accepting that anyone would have to go through eternal punishment. Please bakc up your answers with scripture. Thank you! :)
Answer on Christians: Do you believe that people actually burn in hell for eternity or that they just perish?
I used to believe that, too, because I thought I had to -- not because I ever liked the idea. But like you, I've come to the conclusion that based on scripture the human soul is not immortal apart from the indwelling Holy Spirit. Therefore it would be impossible for the wicked dead to be tormented forever unless God also made them immortal -- which He never pretends He intends to do. Also an interesting take on why He really prevented Adam and Eve from eating from the Tree of Life.
The word "eternal" as we understand it (forever and ever and ever and ever . . .) didn't exist in the ancient Hebrew or Greek. The word they used was "for the age" (aeon). When they wanted to say forever as we know it, they said "unto the aeons of the aeons" which usually gets translated "forever and ever."
Let me send you to a friend's blog which will treat the subject much better than I could do it here in this short forum. It will give you a lot of interesting questions to chew on. I've posted it below.