What kind of bodies will people have in hell?Question: "What kind of bodies will people have in hell?"
Answer: The Bible indicates that both believers and non-believers will have resurrected bodies on the last day (Daniel 12:1–2). Those going to hell will be eternally separated from God. That’s the “second death”—being cast into the lake of fire to be tormented for eternity, separated from God (Revelation 20:14).
One clue that people in hell have a body of some kind is Jesus’ account of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16. The rich man in hell had the ability to feel “torment” and “agony” (verses 23–25), the ability to see and speak (verses 23–24), and a “tongue” that he wanted cooled (verse 24). Since this story is set before the resurrection on the last day, it seems that those now in hell exist in an “intermediate” state; many theologians believe this to include a “spiritual body” of some type—or perhaps the spirit takes on some of the attributes of the body it inhabited.
People currently in heaven also have a “spiritual body,” it would seem. Lazarus’ “finger” is mentioned in Luke 16:24. And, when the three disciples saw Moses and Elijah on the mount of transfiguration, the two prophets did not appear as disembodied spirits; rather, they were recognizable individuals. They were visible as “men . . . in glorious splendor” (Luke 9:30). Even pre-resurrection, Moses and Elijah have a body of some kind.
Another indication that people will have physical bodies in hell is that Jesus warned us to “fear Him who can destroy both body and soul in hell” (Matthew 10:28). The eternal, continuing destruction of hell is the product of God’s justice and wrath, and the destruction of that place will affect the “body” as well as the soul.
The problem some people have with the concept of having a physical body in hell is that, if the fire of hell is taken literally, that would mean one’s bodily tissue would be perpetually burning and regenerating to be burned again. But Scripture teaches that the resurrection body will be different from the bodies we now possess. Our earthly bodies are fit for this world; the resurrection body will be fit for eternity—in either heaven or hell.
God has good news regarding the harsh reality of hell’s existence. God, in His justice, prepared hell for the punishment of sin; but, in His mercy, He also provided the means by which we can be saved. Romans 5:8–9 states, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.” Because of Christ’s sacrifice and our faith in His atoning blood, we can be at peace with God (Romans 5:1). We can look forward to the time when we will live with Him for all eternity in the resurrected bodies He will give us.
What a blessing it is to be at peace with God. To be called His child, His friend. We can enjoy the peace and joy of His presence both now and forever.
Recommended Resources: Four Views on Hell edited by John Walvoord
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Questions about Heaven, Hell, and Eternity
What kind of bodies will people have in hell?