Stumper Questions for Jehovah’s Witnesses #36 

What is the meaning of Rev 14:9-11, which says, “… If anyone worships the wild beast … he shall be tormented with fire and sulphur … And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever …”. Where could “anyone” be “tormented … forever and ever”?

When a person has been indoctrinated with a particular point of view it tends to color everything. To the point, churchgoers who have been steeped in the false teaching of the immortal soul and the heaven/hell afterlife dichotomy are naturally inclined to take highly symbolic language that seems to speak to such matters literally, such as is found in Revelation. Thus, in their minds the torment associated with the lake of fire and sulphur is merely confirmation that Dante’s inferno is a real place.  But Revelation is presented in signs, which are not to be taken literally. 

Since these so-called stumper questions are directed to Jehovah’s Witnesses, instead of considering the question ‘where someone could be tormented?’ it might prove to be more enlightening to find an answer to the question: What is the wild beast? That question is most relevant since in the concluding verses of the 19th chapter of Revelation the wild beast is also thrown into the fiery lake that burns with sulphur.


Jehovah’s Witnesses realize that the wild beast represents the political system under Satan’s control. The book of Daniel is useful to show that the series of empires beginning with Babylon, Persia and Greece, which were all symbolized as various beastly monstrosities, are in fact, symbolized by the individual heads of the seven-headed beast of Revelation. That being beyond dispute, the question ought to be considered: Where could an empire be tormented forever and ever?

Presenting the question that way might help a reasonable person see how silly it is to take Bible symbolism literally. Perhaps a teachable person might then be moved to examine the scriptural basis for Christendom’s eternal torment doctrine. – What is the Lake of Fire?