"Brimstone,' an outdated word for sulfur, was widely known in the ancient world for its medicinal use and fumigation properties. Sulfur was a multi-purpose medication used internally and externally. A sulfur paste would cure body sores. People burned sulfur to disinfest their homes of mice and various insects and to disinfect their homes after a person died of an infectious disease. They also burned sulfur to purify and preserve produce. Saints burned sulfur to symbolize prayers of purification. Every way sulfur was used had a beneficial meaning."

It is a word that denotes purification and is the same word that Paul uses in Acts 17:29 to explain the Divine(sulfur) Nature of God. Therefore we can translate it as the Lake of Divine Purifying Fire. In addition the word used for torture in the Lake of Fire passages is always Basanos, or touch-stone(d). To touch-stone was to test something, mainly metals, to see their value. In the instance of the Lake of Fire we can see that the wicked are being tested as a metal is tested, it is purposeful. These two words show that the Lake of Fire is not endless in duration, because why would John use such clear words for purification, if the end result is not to receive again the cleansed? It is clear then that the Lake of Fire is most certainly not eternal. Furthermore the word used in Revelation 14 and 20 for forever is 'aion', and we know that aion does not denote eternity, it is a limited time. So Satan and his followers will not be tormented forevers and evers (I made them plural because the Greek word is plural, which brings up another good argument, there cannot be plural eternities can there?) In fact Gregory of Nyssa who lived in the 4th century believed that scripture even taught the salvation of Satan himself, he was and is held up as an orthodox believer, one who helped establish the doctrine of the Trinity.

We know that this Lake represents the second death, and will be the murderer of Death and Hades. Yet is the second death our enemy? Paul says that the last enemy to be defeated is Death. I have heard the argument that this includes the second death, however I think this is a basic misunderstanding of the Lake of Fire. The second death is symbolic of something else that can be found in the New Testament, why do I think this? Because the Revelation of John is an apocalypse, which was a specific genre of literature that the Jewish people as well as Gentiles would have understood as symbolic. The very first verse of Revelation says this:

"The Revelation(uncovering) of Jesus Christ, which God gave to him, to show to his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it(made it known by signs) by his angel to his servant John"

Now this first verse is a dead giveaway of what the book of Revelation is. It is not a Revelation of simply the future, it is also a revelation or an uncovering of Jesus. How is he uncovered in this book? By using signs of course. During Jesus's life he never failed to speak with a parable to the people and even figures of speech to his own disciples. A sign represents an idea in symbols, it is not immediately clear or literal. So when approaching the book of Revelation we must take into consideration that it is not to be taken literally, it is a long book of symbols, one that reveals the nature of the future as well as Christ in a deeper way.

Therefore the Lake of Fire is a symbol in a book of symbols, and since this book is also a revelation of Jesus Christ we can reasonably affirm that the second death is directly tied to Him. The first death came through the first Adam, it logically follows that the second death came through the second Adam, Jesus Christ. Whereas the first death lead to nothing but evil and destruction, the second death is like a trimming away of evil so that Life may sprout more abundantly. The second leads to more life, as Paul confirms in Romans 6:3-7,

"Don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been set free from sin."

This death is radically different than the one that Adam was promised, the one that sin produces, it is a new death, a second death. We are baptized into Christ's death, and this death leads to greater life. We know that Christ is the only one who defeated Hades and Death, so we must also believe that the Lake of Fire represents his victory, for Paul says that Death is swallowed up in victory .

It is only by the power of God that anyone is saved, we could say that we are forcefully liberated from our slavery to sin, why is it forceful [2] ? Because we are incapable of doing it ourselves.

Every sinner who is not in the book of Life (who has not already undergone this redemption from being slaves to sin) will be baptized into this Lake of Fire, which is the second death Paul spoke about.

Thus the Lake of Fire is not a place of tormenting evil, but of victory, it is the atonement of Christ washing away sin. It is the Lake of Divine Fire, the blood spilled on Calvary able to take away the sins of the whole world [3] . Remember it says that all will be salted with Fire, one way or another. All will be made holy to the Lord, halleluyah what a wonderful truth!
Boyd C. Purcell, M.A., M.Div., Ph.D. Author, National Board Certified Counselor, a Licensed Professional Counselor, an Ordained Christian Minister, and a Board Certified Chaplain. Educationally, he has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Comprehensive Social Studies (World/European/American History, Geography, Political Science, etc.) He also has a Master of Arts Degree in Counseling, a Master of Divinity Degree in Biblical Studies, and a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in the integration of psychology and theology. In terms of experience, Dr. Purcell has over 40 years of ministry in counseling: agency, clinical, pastoral, psychiatric hospital, school, substance abuse, private practice, and chaplaincy—providing spiritual care at the end of life for hospice patients.


2303 θεῖον [theion /thi·on/] n n. Probably of 2304 (in its original sense of flashing); TDNT 3:122; GK 2520; Seven occurrences; AV translates as “brimstone” seven times. 1 brimstone. 1a divine incense, because burning brimstone was regarded as having power to purify, and to ward off disease.
James Strong, The Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible : Showing Every Word of the Text of the Common English Version of the Canonical Books, and Every Occurrence of Each Word in Regular Order., electronic ed., G2303 (Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship., 1996).


ψειον Strongs No: 2303
Transliterated: theion; Pronounced: thi’-on
probably of 2304 (in its original sense of flashing); TDNT 3:122; *; n n
Trans. & freq. in the AV— brimstone 7 times; 7 occurrences of Greek word in AV
1. brimstone
divine incense, because burning brimstone was regarded as having power to purify, and to ward off disease
Ephesians Four Group, Greek Dictionary, electronic ed.


θεῖον (A), Ep. θέειον (in Od.22.493 θήϊον), τό, brimstone, used to fumigate and purify.
Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, Henry Stuart Jones and Roderick McKenzie, A Greek-English Lexicon, "With a revised supplement, 1996.", Rev. and augm. throughout, 787 (Oxford; New York: Clarendon Press; Oxford University Press, 1996).


θεῖον, ου, τό sulfur, brimstone; anciently regarded as divine incense to purify and prevent contagion; in the NT always associated with supernaturally kindled fire and thus possibly the neuter of θεῖος (divine)
Timothy Friberg, Barbara Friberg and Neva F. Miller, vol. 4, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, Baker's Greek New Testament library, 195 (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 2000).


Brimstone. A bright yellow mineral usually found near active volcanoes. Large deposits of this substance are found in the Dead Sea region. Highly combustible, it burns with a very disagreeable odor. The Hebrew and Greek words for “brimstone” denote divine fire (Gen. 19:24; Ezek. 38:22; Luke 17:29). Brimstone (burning stone) is often associated with fire (Rev. 9:17–18; 20:10; 21:8), and with barrenness and devastation (Deut. 29:23; Job 18:15). Brimstone was considered an agent of God’s judgment (Gen. 19:24). In the New Testament it is used symbolically to represent God’s wrath and the future punishment of the wicked (Rev. 9:17–18; 14:10; 20:10). Another word for brimstone used in various translations of the Bible is sulphur, or sulfur.
Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Dictionary, ed. Ronald F. Youngblood, F. F. Bruce, R. K. Harrison et al. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1995).


1614 גָּפְרִית [gophriyth /gof·reeth/] n f. Probably from 1613; TWOT 375; GK 1730; Seven occurrences; AV translates as “brimstone” seven times. 1 brimstone. 1a of judgment (fig.). 1b of Jehovah’s breath (fig.).
James Strong, The Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible : Showing Every Word of the Text of the Common English Version of the Canonical Books, and Every Occurrence of Each Word in Regular Order., electronic ed., H1614 (Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship., 1996).


θειόω, Ep. θεειόω, f. ώσω, (θεῖον) to smoke with brimstone, fumigate and purify thereby, Od.:—Med., δῶμα θεειοῦται he fumigates his house, Ib.: generally, to purify, hallow , Eur.
H.G. Liddell, A Lexicon : Abridged from Liddell and Scott's Greek-English Lexicon, 360 (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1996).


1. theion (θει̂ον, 2303) originally denoted “fire from heaven.” It is connected with sulphur. Places touched by lightning were called theia, and, as lightning leaves a sulphurous smell, and sulphur was used in pagan purifications, it received the name of theion Luke 17:29; Rev. 9:17-18; 14:10; 19:20; 20:10; 21:8.
W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 2:80 (Nashville: T. Nelson, 1996).


Brimstone shall be scattered upon his habitation.] This may either refer to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, as has already been intimated, or to an ancient custom of fumigating houses with brimstone, in order to purify them from defilement . Pliny says, Hist. Nat., lib. 35., c. 15, speaking of the uses of sulphur, Habet et in religionibus locum ad expiandas suffitu domos; which Dr. Holland paraphrases thus: "Moreover brimstone is employed ceremoniously in hallowing of houses; for many are of opinion that the perfume and burning thereof will keep out all enchantments; yea, and drive away foul fiends and evil sprites that do haunt a place."
Ovid refers to the same, De Arte. Am., lib. 2. ver. 329.

Et veniat, quæ lustret anus lectumque locumque: Præferat et tremula sulphur et ova manu.
This alludes to the ceremony of purifying the bed or place in which a sick person was confined; an old woman or nurse was the operator, and eggs and sulphur were the instruments of purification.

On this and other methods of purgation see an excellent note in Servius on these words of Virgil, Æn. 6., ver. 740.


Aliæ panduntur inanes Suspensæ ad ventos: aliis sub gurgite vasto Infectum eluitur scelus, aut exuritur igni. "For this are various penances subjoin’d; And some are hung to bleach upon the wind; Some plunged in waters, others, plunged in fires."

Unde etiam, says Servius, in sacris Liberi omnibus tres sunt istæ purgationes: nam aut taeda purgantur et sulphure, aut aqua abluuntur, aut ære ventilantur.

"These three kinds of purgation are used in the rites of Bacchus: they are purged by flame and sulphur, or washed in water, or ventilated by the winds."
Adam Clarke, Clarke's Commentary: Job, electronic ed., Logos Library System; Clarke's Commentaries, Job 18:15 (Albany, OR: Ages Software, 1999).