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16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

should [conditional] not perish

Perish” does not refer to annihilation but to the final doom of people in hell—a life apart from God and God’s life that we call “eternal life.” Perishing does not mean cessation or loss of physical existence, but it conveys utter ruin of an individual in the final destiny of hell.

To perish is the antithesis of having “eternal life.” There is no middle ground between these two options. Death is the opposite of life. God will not preserve those who reject Christ as their Savior. Those who refuse to believe are alienated from God because they reject His appeals to them.


There will be some who spend eternity without God.


The idea of perishing is not cessation of existence but experience of loss—loss of eternity with God. People separate themselves by their own volition from God and His people.

The implication is that some will perish due to their unbelief. People must own their unbelief; it is not something that God caused. God never directs people to not believe (1 Ti 2:4; 2 Pe 3:9).

To perish is to spend eternity apart from God. God gives eternal life to believers, but those without that life exist in utter ruin. Those who believe have a guarantee that they will never perish eternally. To perish is to experience God’s eternal judgment.