The Soul and Punishment of the Wicked

Following such a subject as our last lesson, concerning the state of the dead, many people ask the question, if a person dies and remains in the grave, what happens to the soul? Does the soul die too, or does the body remain in the grave and the soul go to heaven? The false teaching concerning the state of the dead has been taught for so long, people are perplexed when they hear the truth, as then it becomes even more of a mystery to them.

But in our lesson today, we want to prove, using the Scripture, what a soul is. Then after this, we want to show if a soul can die or not. Most people believe a soul can never die nor be destroyed. But we will see what the Scriptures have to say about the subject.

Then we will study concerning the punishment of the wicked. Will they burn for millions of years in a fire? The Bible is very plain on all these points, so again there is no doubt or mystery. God wants us to understand all about death and what happens after death.


1. A soul can hear. Acts 3:22-23

For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; Him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever He shall say unto you.

And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.

Acts 3:22-23

The prophet in verse 22 refers to Christ. “…Every soul that will not hear that prophet…” A soul then can hear.

2. A soul can get hungry and thirsty. Psalms 107:4-5

They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way; they found no city to dwell in.

Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them.

Psalms 107:4-5

In these two verses, David is referring to the Israelites who wandered in the wilderness for forty years. But notice verse 5, “Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them.” From this verse, it is very clear a soul can get hungry and it can get thirsty. So if there is such a place as a burning, fiery hell, what are the souls feeding on there? When you understand what a soul is, then you realize a soul can and will die, for we see people dying every day.


3. Read Genesis 2:7 very carefully.

As you read this, you will notice that God did not put a soul in man but “man became a living soul.” When God created man, He only put in the breath of life. Before the breath of life, the man was nothing, just a form. But after God put the breath of life in him, the man became a living soul. So it takes this body of ours, with the breath of life (oxygen) to make a soul. In other words, we do not have a soul; we are a soul. The meaning of the word soul is “a breathing creature.”

4. Other souls, other than man. Revelation 16:3

And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea.
Revelation 16:3

As you read this verse, you notice it calls the fish and the things that live in the sea “souls.” Why? Because they breathe oxygen the same as you and I do. Take the oxygen out of the water and the fish will die; each one is a “breathing creature.”


5. Slew the souls. Joshua 11:10-11

And Joshua at that time turned back, and took Hazor, and smote the king thereof with the sword: for Hazor beforetime was the head of all those kingdoms.

And they smote all the souls that were therein with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying them: there was not any left to breathe: and he burnt Hazor with fire.

Joshua 11:10-11

This reference tells you very clearly a soul is one that breathes. It also says that Joshua slew all the souls, utterly destroying them. Does that sound as if a soul cannot die? Something is wrong with the modern-day teaching that states that when a man dies, the soul leaves the body and lives on. There is no such teaching in the Bible. We are the soul the Bible is talking about. Our present living body with the breath of life is the soul the Bible is talking about. A soul can then die.

6. What will happen to the soul that sinneth?

These tell us very plainly, “…the soul that sinneth it shall die.” Could anything be any plainer than that?


7. Turn to Matthew 10:28.

Right away, people refer to this verse and try to point out that the soul and

body are different and separate. Are we going to throw out the window all the references we have turned to (and there are much more we could turn to) that very clearly reveal that this body of ours (with breath in it) is a soul, just because of this one verse? This verse must harmonize with the others we have considered; if we consider it carefully, it will.

My Greek Interlinear writes Matthew 10:28 as follows: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the future life: but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both life and body in hell.”

This harmonizes with the rest of the Scriptures in the Bible. There are no contradictions. I can kill you — I can kill your body — but I cannot destroy your future life. God can, however, and He is the one we are to fear.

This thought agrees with the Bible; in Luke 12:4-5, you will see this is true and this is what Matthew 10:28 refers to.


8. Burn up the chaff. Matthew 3:11-12

I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:

Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

Matthew 3:11-12

Who does the chaff refer to here? It refers to the sinner and it says he will be burned up. He will not burn forever and ever but he will be burned up. The wheat (righteous) will be gathered into His garner (kingdom) but the chaff (wicked) will be burned up. Again, something is seriously wrong with the modern teaching!

9. Will be as ashes.

The wicked will become ashes after they are burned up. They will be as stubble in the fire, and we know that stubble does not burn forever.


10. Everlasting punishment.

Notice it says “everlasting fire” and “everlasting punishment.” It does not say “everlasting torment” but “everlasting punishment”. Now, what is the punishment of the wicked? Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death.” Death is the punishment of the wicked; once they have received the second death, they will never come back to life again.

We need to be careful not to read something into a verse that is not there. We read “everlasting punishment” but not “everlasting torment.”

11. Everlasting destruction. 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9

And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels,

In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:

Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;

2 Thessalonians 1:7-9

This refers to the second death and it speaks of it as everlasting destruction. After the second death, they (the wicked) will be as ashes; they will never come back to life again. That will be everlasting destruction.

12. Examples of eternal fire.

Matthew 25:41 tells of everlasting fire. Does that mean it will always burn? As you read Jude 7, you will notice it says that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by eternal fire. But is that fire still burning today? We know it isn’t but still, it says that eternal fire destroyed the two cities.

Eternal fire means that man could not extinguish it and that it burned until there was nothing left to burn. It consumed everything; it was eternal.

Then 2 Peter 2:6 says that this is an example of what will happen to the rest of the wicked when the Lord comes. They too will burn, so there will be torment, suffering, punishment, but the wicked will not burn a million years. How long they will burn, I do not know. We know when a person is burned today, it is not quick, but there is a torment, a suffering before he dies. So the wicked are going to suffer for their sins too.


13. Not willing any should perish. 2 Peter 3:9

The LORD is not slack concerning HIS promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
2 Peter 3:9

14. Converteth the sinner. James 5:20

Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.
James 5:20


At the time of death, one does not go immediately to heaven or a burning hell. The body remains in the grave until the Resurrection. At that time, the person will be judged righteous or wicked.

Material from the book Answers to Your Bible Questions by Wesley Walker.

More info:

Answers to Your Bible Questions