Q. I have always been taught that punishment is eternal, but after reading Matthew 10:28, I wonder about that. Matthew 10:28 says that Satan can destroy the soul… so that means its gone right? I do believe the fires in hell and the lake of fire are eternal, but I am a wondering about the soul. Also, is eternal life a gift we receive? Isn’t eternal life something that we achieve by being faithful to our Lord?
A. The Greek word translated destroy in Matt. 10:28 literally means to put out of the way entirely. It comes from a root denoting the separation of a part from the whole. It’s sometimes used metaphorically to describe giving one over to eternal misery in Hell. So yes, the soul is gone, but that doesn’t mean it no longer exists.
According to John 3:16 and others, eternal life is a gift that we receive for believing that Jesus died for our sins. It’s not something we achieve as a result of maintaining some standard of behavior.