Revelation 14:10–11 (NKJV)
10 he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.”
In this well-known passage of scripture from Revelation in the New King James Bible and is quite similar in other popular translations we have as our subject the word “tormented”. It is translated from the Greek word BASANIZŌ. In the Strong’s Greek dictionary it is number 928. When we begin our study of this word one can quickly become quite confused as to the actual meaning of the Greek. Here are a few examples:
In the - Strong, J. (1997). The new Strong’s dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words. Nashville: Thomas Nelson:
928. βασανίζω basanizō, bas-an-id´-zo; from 931; to torture:— pain, toil, torment, toss, vex.
In the - Ephesians Four Group. Greek Dictionary:
to test (metals) by the touchstone, which is a black siliceous stone used to test the purity of gold or silver by the colour of the streak produced on it by rubbing it with either metal
In the - Thomas, R. L. (1998). New American Standard Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek dictionaries : Updated edition. Anaheim: Foundation Publications, Inc.:
928. βασανίζω basanizō; from 931; to torture:—battered(1), felt … tormented(1), pain(1), straining(1), torment(4), tormented(4)
In the - Vine, W., & Bruce, F. (1981). Vol. 2: Vine’s Expository dictionary of Old and New Testament words (325). Old Tappan NJ: Revell.
BASANIZŌ (βασανίζω , (928)), properly signifies to test by rubbing on the touchstone (basanos, a touchstone) – end quote
Here is the confusion: in these four references we have conflicting meanings. You will notice that two of them have the meaning of the word as is traditionally taught “torture” “pain” “torment” etc. period! No other explanation given just pure torment! In the other two dictionaries we have it as literally “a touchstone” meaning to test for purity. As I said traditional readings have for the most part chosen to go with the definition “torment” without giving the English reader any idea that there is actually another and more literal definition. the reason for this choice can be found in the following work by;
Vol. 1 of 10: Theological dictionary of the New Testament. 1964- (G. Kittel, G. W. Bromiley & G. Friedrich, Ed.) (electronic ed.) (561–562). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.
The βάσανος originally belongs to the calling of the inspector of coins. It is linked with the Heb. root בחן (“to test”) and the Egyptian bḫn; (“basalt”). According to K. Sethe. bhn is the word which underlies the Heb. בחן2 and the Gk. βάσανος. βάσανος is generally accepted to be a loan word. βασανίτης is most closely related to it. Βασανίτου λίθου ὄρος is the mountain of the bḫn stone. R. Herzog3 thinks that he may deduce from the etymological development that the ars spectandi, the testing of gold and silver as media of exchange by the proving stone, was first developed by the Babylonians, then came to the Aramaeans and Hebrews by way of Lydia (Λυδίαλίθος [Bacchyl. Fr., 14, 1, Blass]; βάσανος, Bacchyl., 8, 58), and from them to the Gks. In non-biblical Gk. βάσανος is a commercial expression, or is used in relation to government. It then acquires the meaning of the checking of calculations, which develops naturally out of the basic sense of βάσανος, βασανίζειν (P. Oxy., 58, 25 [288 A.D.]). In the spiritual sphere it has the figur., sense, which is closely related to the original concrete meaning, of a means of testing (Anth. Pal., VII, 54: ἀνδρῶν κρινομένων ἐν βασάνῳ σοφίης).
The word then undergoes a change in meaning. The original sense fades into the background. βάσανος now comes to denote “torture” or “the rack,” espec. used with slaves (P. Lille, I, 29, 22; Ditt. Syll.3, 356, 12). βάσανος occurs in the sense of “torment” in Theocr. Idyll., 13, p. 13, 5, Meineke; Thom. Mag., p. 94, 4, Ritschl; Demetr. Eloc., 201, 4. An inscription from Cyprus (Salamis), BCH, 51 (1927), 148, 18, contains the malediction: ἐν βασάνοις ἀπόλοιτο. Vet. Val., IV, 13, p. 182, 19, Kroll has a reference to torments of soul (ψυχικὰς βασάνους).5
(None of the works cited above showing the change in meaning of the word from it’s ORIGNAL MEANING - from testing to torment is earlier than the third century AD. Keep this in mind)
The change in meaning is best explained if we begin with the object of treatment. If we put men instead of metal or a coin, the stone of testing become torture or the rack. The metal which has survived the testing stone is subjected to harsher treatment. Man is in the same position when severely tested by torture. In the testing of metal an essential role was played by the thought of testing and proving genuineness. The rack is a means of showing the true state of affairs. In its proper sense it is a means of testing and proving,6 though also of punishment. Finally, even this special meaning was weakened and only the general element of torment remained. – end quote
Now let’s look at this. This reference repeatedly says the original meaning of the word is and I quote
“the testing of gold and silver as media of exchange by the proving stone, was first developed by the Babylonians”
“the original concrete meaning, of a means of testing”
“the thought of testing and proving genuineness”
“a means of testing”
Then this resource says:
“Finally, even this special meaning was weakened and only the general element of torment remained” – end quote
The defenders of eternal torment and those who would justify these bible translators and their translations use of the word “torment and tormented” instead of a means of testing or proving and even purifying – I will get to that a little later; will say that because of the “change in meaning of the word in secular writings” therefore peoples understanding of the word would have changed. They thereby justify not only changing the meaning in their translations but as you can see above even in the dictionaries definitions! (Hmmm what are they trying to hide?) I would like to remind them and those who would agree with them as I have pointed out above in the previous resource on the etymology of the word – the reason for and justification of the change in meaning of the word through the works that are cited ARE THREE HUNDRED PLUS YEARS LATER THAN BIBLICAL TIMES!!! Just look up or google the references, you will see I am correct. So they think they should use a definition or a secular understanding of the word in some writings that didn’t come about till over three hundred years later to justify translating what the biblical writers meant Three Hundred Years prior??? That’s Ludicrous! This type of thinking from especially so-called scholars is just plain scary. Unless you factor in the possibility that they are PURPOSELY trying to mislead you and justify themselves with a ridiculous argument that they hope you will not think through. They are counting on you not thinking for yourself you know. There is an agenda here, it is obvious when you have authorized dictionaries contradicting each other. Someone has to be WRONG! I think I just proved to you who it HAS TO BE. I’ll just say this; FEAR SELLS! Just look at the Movies, books, News, and Yes Religion – Fear is where the Money is at in this worlds way of doing things. Also, when you take away fear you take away control or power over the people and when you take away control you LOSE MONEY – You may never believe it but its just that simple. POWER and MONEY have ruled this world for a long time; that cannot be denied and they want to keep it that way…. Religion is just a tool in the hands of the ruling powers of this world – always has been. Religion without fear takes away this power from them. On the other hand Religion without fear gives the POWER OF GOD to You and Me – And that scares them!
Now, to further clarify and verify that this word BASANIZŌ Strong’s number G928 must and logically means to “test for the purpose of proving” then leading on to purifying within the context of its use here; let’s look at a couple other words in the context of this passage. The words “fire” and “brimstone” are connected to the word torment. Let’s see what they mean in the original language as it would apply to the context of this passage:
FIRE G4442 – In the Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary : New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers:
4442. πύρ púr; gen. purós, neut. noun. Fire
(C) Of evils, calamities, TRIALS WHICH PURIFY the faith in hearts of Christians, as fire tries and purifies the precious metals (cf. Mark 9:49; 1 Pet. 1:7; Rev. 3:18; Sept.: Is. 10:17). In 1 Cor. 3:10–15, the works of men are represented as a building of which only the inflammable parts (“gold, silver, precious stones”) can withstand fire; the worker (builder) “HIMSELLF SHALL BE SAVED; yet so as BY FIRE,” means that he will escape from the fire which destroys those of his works which are “wood, hay, [and] stubble.” Fire is used in a proverbial expression, “out of the fire,” implying “with difficulty,” “scarcely” (Jude 1:23). [emphasis mine]
BRIMSTONE G2303 – In the Vincent, M. R. (2002). Word studies in the New Testament (Re 14:10). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
Revelation 14:10 - Brimstone (θείῳ). Commonly taken as the neuter of θεῖος DIVINE; that is, divine incense, since burning brimstone was regarded as having POWER TO PURIFY AND TO AVERT CONTAGION. [emphasis mine]
Now you see… the underlying Greek word translated “torment” actually meaning “a touchstone to test or prove” leading to purification is in total agreement with the context! This passage is NOT speaking of eternal torment. It would have been understood by its original readers to plainly mean a period of (Greek aionion – age lasting – Not eternal) testing for purification of all things that don’t belong in the Kingdom of God; by God θεῖος Himself! Resulting in the eventual salvation of the lowest of sinners. You say “You mean God will let that horrible sinful so-n-so in heaven!!!” No I am NOT! Because that horrible sinful so-n-so will no longer exist because he will have had all that horrible sinful stuff burned off (so to speak) and maybe lose all - but he himself will YES be saved (1Cor 3:10-15) Just like you are not the same person you were before you were saved they will not be either! Although, I would encourage someone to get it done now rather than then and not have to go through that. Because the truth is we just don’t know how long, short, hard or easy that may be for each individual. What we do know is that in the end Christ does not lose ONE (Luke 15:1-32) – ALL will come to Him and be gathered into Him and His Kingdom that will be victorious over ALL that GOD will be ALL in ALL! Psst… Satan does not win anything! He is a loser! Christ Love Wins! ALL!!! (1Cor 15:22,28; Eph 1:10,23; Eph 2:10-11; Eph 4:10; Col 1:20; 1Tim 2:6)
Pastor Dennis Caldwell
Here is a video by my friend Gary Amirault that inspired this writing: