What Is the Punishment of the Wicked?

There are many popular ideas about what the punishment of the wicked is, but what does the Bible say? What is the lake of fire described in the Bible?

In teaching about the Kingdom of God, Jesus Christ spoke a parable about wheat and tares growing together in the same field until the harvest, when they would be separated (Matthew 13:24-30). After sending the multitude away (verse 36), Jesus told His disciples that this harvest represented “the end of the age” (verse 39) when angels would reap the harvest of people for the Kingdom.

The “lake of fire”

Jesus explained that in this harvest the angels would “gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:41-42).

This “furnace of fire” is also referred to in Scripture as “the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15), where those whose names were not written in the Book of Life will be cast. The punishment of the wicked—those who will not repent of their sins—is to be burned up.

Ashes under your feet?

As the prophet Malachi explained, “‘For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, and all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble. And the day which is coming shall burn them up,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘that will leave them neither root nor branch’” (Malachi 4:1). Continuing, God says to the righteous, “‘You shall trample the wicked, for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day that I do this,’ says the LORD of hosts” (verse 3).

Because of the mistaken idea that humans have an immortal soul, many have likewise mistakenly assumed that the wicked will suffer eternal torment in an ever-burning fire. But this is not what the Bible teaches. Instead, unrepentant humans will be mercifully destroyed.

For further information on this subject, please read the article “What Is Hell?

About the Author

David Treybig

David Treybig

David Treybig is a husband, father and grandfather. He and his wife, Teddi, have two grown children and seven grandchildren. He currently pastors the Austin, Texas, congregation of the Church of God, a Worldwide Association. He has served in the pastoral ministry for over 40 years, pastoring congregations across six states.

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