|I read this with real interest because it is a subject that has facinated me for many years.
You develop the theme logically and in a very persuasive way. I like the references to the languages used in the scriptures. You are obviously very familiar with the Bible. Your point about the words "death" and "die" are well made, that this can refer to a spiritual death or physical one.
If I may, I would like to comment on a few points you raise?
You claim that the sinful humans in Eden "died" in a spiritual sense, on the day that they were cast out of Eden. I agree with you on that. However, the punishment of physical death was the threatened consequence of sin, as Paul later stated in Romans. When God warned Adam not to eat from the tree, He used an interesting phrase. Genesis records that God says “In the day that you eat from the tree, you will surely die.” Notice that it does not say “on” the day but, “IN.” That word changes the whole context of that statement. When we describe a particular day we always use the preposition “on” (on Monday etc.), yet when it comes to a longer period of time, we change to an adverb (“in January, in 1988”). Adam did not die on the same day that he disobeyed his creator, in fact, he went on to live for hundreds of years and had many children, and then he died, "in" the day - Peter tells us that “One day is as a thousand years to God”.
You say that "If there is no eternal punishment, why not live however you please if the Christian life is too “difficult” for you?"
The obvious answer for me is - love, because I love God and I want to live life his way. I, and millions like me, do not worship God through fear, but because we have come to know, trust and love him.
You make a fair point about the possible translation of "destroy" but, the account of Lazarus and the rich man can't be used to prove hellfire because it is symbolic. Abraham was in the grave, he had not been resurrected to Heaven at that time.
Two scriptures which I believe demonstrate the correct understanding of "Hell" ("Sheol" as opposed to "Gehenna"), are as follows;
In Revelation, Hell is thrown onto the fiery lake ("Gehenna"). How can Hell be cast into hell?
The other scripture is in Jeremiah chapter 7, verse 31. There God describes people who burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I commanded them not, neither came it into my heart.” Elsewhere in the Bible, God describes such practices as “detestable” and “disugsting.” If God uses such punishment as fire to torture sinners, he would be contradicting himself, something that is impossible.
Those are just some of my thoughts. Feel free to respond if you feel I am mistaken.
Overall, a good, well-researched article.
I wish you peace.