This one has amused me recently. I can remember having heated arguments with other students of the Bible as to whether or not there was a hell that was eternal or there was a hell that could only last five minutes.
WMB had a "divine revelation" that hell was not eternal. Using the KJV translation only, he was able to twist the words into his own scheme, and start teaching that hell could only last five minutes.
But sin has an end, suffering has an end. Therefore, there cannot be an Eternal hell. There's a hell, fire and brimstone, we know that, but there's no Eternal hell. There's only one type of Eternal Life and that belongs to God. If you're to suffer forever, you got Eternal Life. Hell has an end, it may be billions of years, but it'll finally come to an end.
The Bible doesn't say, anywhere, that they suffered Eternally, said, "Forever and forever." Jonah thought he was in the belly of the whale "forever," too. Forever has a distance or a time limit. But Eternal is perpetual, it has no beginning or end. It's like a ring, a circle. And as our time moves on, we're only in revolving around the great motives of God.
Now, "hell," we'll go back to that awhile. I tell you that--that there cannot be... I do believe in a burning hell. Yes, sir, the Bible said so, the lake of fire. Now, but that cannot be an everla-... it cannot be an Eternal. It could be... The Bible never says it's Eternal, It says "everlasting" hell. Don't say the word Eternal, it says an "everlasting" hell. Now, it's prepared for the Devil and his angels; an everlasting hell, not an Eternal one. Now, after... That soul may be tormented there for its doings for ten million years, for all I know. I don't know what everlasting might be in God's sight. It might be for five minutes, it might be for a million years, it might be for ten million years, but there will come a time when that soul will cease to be. 60-1206 THE.SMYRNAEAN.CHURCH.AGE
This actually is a pagan Gnostic belief. In the same belief structure that says that the good one and the evil one were one day equal, it continues to build a foundation for a punishment that did not last forever.
When comparing it to the bible, however, we find that this "revelation" by WMB does not hold water.
The same word used here (for everlasting):
Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: (Matthew 25:41)
Is the same word used here (for eternal)
But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life. (Mark 10:30)
That word is aionios, which translated means without beginning and without end. Everlasting. Eternal. It means exactly the same as the KJV translated it, but was confusing to the lesser intelligent (like myself).
Looking back, I get a pretty good laugh from this. God sending a prophet to tell the world that their punishment might not last long would be like me, as a father, telling my child that if he didn't be good, I might slap his wrist -- but it won't be very hard.