For follow-up discussion and general commentary on the topic. Comments are sorted chronologically.
People giving answers here have neglected one thing about the Bible. It repeatedly says God loves people and hates sin. A loving God does not punish people for their sin instead God frees people from their sin on earth when they are willing and When it is not possible on earth then it happens at our death and resurrection. In other words as the Bible says we are changed in a moment, "In the twinkling of an eye" and it is into a body that is "incorruptible" (This is the biblical word used).
Those who say differently are either unaware of the truth or they are hoping to build a gathering to laud themselves or both.
A study of the word hell us quite interesting. I have been what is referred to as a hell fire and brimstone preacher. Most of what I preached was topical. It was not until recently I decided to do a word study on hell which has got me wondering of my past conclusions.
I looked at every place the word hell is found in the Old Testament and not once did I see it connected to hell fire and brimstone or torment.
Also realized that the same hebrew word is also translated grave...not physical location but a place where the dead gather.
Then in the New Testament I noticed that Peter in Acts 2 in quoting David in ps 16 that the soul of the Lord Jesus would not be left in hell...the Greek word being hades. Did Jesus go to the place of fire and torment. Or to where the souls of the dead go. That would then imply to hells or hades.
I noticed that Paul used the word Hades once in all of his writings and preaching and that in 1Cor 15:56 which has been translated by some translations as grave and others by death. Why would the KJV Translate hades with grave here and no where else. The average reader will think that Paul meant a physical grave.
I also noticed that none of the writer of the Epistles uses the word hell except where James refer to the tongue and Peter uses the word Tataroo in referring to the fallen angels which is translated as hell.
John never uses it in his gospel or epistles. He uses hades a few times in Revelation but three times in connection with death. John never describes it as a place if torment. Though he does mention the lake of fire.
The Lord uses the words Hades and Gehenna. I do find it strange that None if the disciples followed the Lord and certainly cannot be said to be hell fire and brimstone preachers. I was amazed when I found that out because in my mind I always associated them with such preaching especially Peter. Why did they not follow the Lord in this aspect.
This has got me thinking. Could it be that they understanding of what the Lord Jesus meant when He used those words are different to what we think they mean.
It is obvious that the Bible speaks of a severe judgment. But why are the apostles and writers of the new testament dont use the words hades and Gehenna to warn those they preached to or exhort to go tell people not to go to hell.
Please help me.
How is eternity in hell a fair punishment for sin?
There is no place in scripture that says a person spends an eternity in Hell. That is from the imagination from Dante's Inferno. The punishment for rebellion against God and rejecting the one whom He has sent, the lord Jesus, is to be caste into the Lake of Fire and destroyed - that is the second death. And those who are dead have no consciousness!
Ecclesiastes 9:5 For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.
All whose names are not written in the book of life at the White Throne Judgment will be cast into the Lake of fire and burned up... destroyed and that is the second death.
Those of us who live over into the coming new age as glorified men and women and live past the White Throne Judgment period will not have any remembrance of those who have been involved in the second death. They will be forgotten, completely.
The God I worship would not consider causing people to suffer for eternity for their sins, instead in His infinite mercy he will destroy them and the memory of them will be forgotten. That is the plain truth as revealed in the scriptures.
Technically speaking, in a judicial sense, the punishment for sin is not eternity in hell. The punishment is repossession of the precious commodity we call life which results in a perpetual state of no longer having it, unless some intervention is made on our behalf. In Genesis 2:17 we see the first statement pertaining to this when Adam is told he'll die if he eats the fruit (literally, "dying you shall die" in Hebrew). Paul also restates this in his famous passage in Romans 6:23.
In Hebrew thought, sin is thought of as a debt to be paid, which can only be repaid with a life. Therefore, once the life is forfeited and repossessed, the "business transaction" is concluded and the debt now repaid, but pragmatically results in a perpetual state of its absence from that point on.
To use an analogy, think of a mortgage loan being defaulted on. There's a debt/loan to be paid off, but if one simply stops making the payments, the home gets repossessed. Once the home gets repossessed, the business is concluded, but it subsequently results in a perpetual state of no longer having it.
So, unless intervention is made on our behalf, which is the essential message of the gospel, eternity in hell is not the punishment, but rather the natural consequence of the technical punishment, which is repossession of the life that God gave us.