The best argument for belief in biblical annihilation of the lost (annihilationism) is not long or complicated. It is simply that words mean what they say, and not something else. Words like perish, death, destroy, life, and immortality have to be reinterpreted from their natural meanings in order to make hell into everlasting conscious torment rather than annihilation. Even as I write, the word “annihilation” has to be awkwardly input in place of what would naturally flow linguistically as “death”. But I can’t say death, it biases the discussion. I have to say annihilation, so it doesn’t get confused with what death never means in any other context.
In a podcast for Rethinking Hell, Ronnie Delmer overviews the tendency for people who believe in eternal conscious torment (traditionalists) to use words for what they mean. When they’re defending their view, biblical “death” means “life of torture”, but only when their defending their view. In any other context, even when they’re talking about hell, death means death. This leads to Ronnie Delmer’s insightful list of explicit contradictions between well known evangelical traditionalists and scripture (e.g. Hyman Appelman:“There is no death in Hell” Romans: “The wages of sin is death”).
For quick review, Ronnie Delmer included a list of scriptures and the quotes of some very popular Christians contradicting these scriptures. A few more examples:
John 3:16: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
1 John 2:17: The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.
John Piper: You are not mere matter and energy. You are an embodied soul who will live forever in heaven or in hell, created in the image of God.
C.S. Lewis: Christianity asserts that every individual human being is going to live forever, and this must be either true or false.
Mark Driscoll: God is an eternal God; a sin against him is an eternal act that requires an eternal consequence. And we are going to live eternally into the future—the question is where.
Billy Graham: [The soul] will never die, but will live forever in either Heaven or Hell