AN ACT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS AND LOVE
The judgment which results in the destruction of the unrepentant is an act of righteousness. God has extended His mercy, he has pleaded with those who have turned away from Him, but through the choices of their lives the unrepentant have demonstrated that they do not want what God wants to give them: Himself forever. Heaven, in the overwhelming presence of a pure and holy God, would be eternal torment—even when they see Him coming they call out for the mountains and rocks to hide them from His face (Revelation 6:16). When God puts an end to sin He will grant what they will really want: destruction, which is the only way they can be separated from God in that day when “all the earth (and the whole universe as well) shall be filled with the glory of the Lord” (Numbers 14:21). For this reason it is an act of love, as well as righteousness that God pronounces the sentence, “These (who do not know God) shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (2 Thessalonians 1:8,9).
Jesus, looking down the span of history to the great day of judgment, spoke in Matthew 25:31-46 of the same scene that is presented in Revelation 20: “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another.” Just as in Revelation, they will be judged “according to their works”— did they feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick, or did they turn away from Jesus in the person of those in need? (vs. 35-45). “Then He will also say to those on the left hand [who had not had compassion on the needy], ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels’…And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (vs. 41,46).
These last verses have caused some to believe that the unrighteous will be tormented forever ("everlasting fire...everlasting punishment"), but a comparison with other scriptures shows that they actually teach just the opposite.