47 And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. 48 But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.
The bible clearly teaches there are varying degrees of punishment in hell and varying degrees of rewards in heaven. Some believe all sin is the same, and quote passages that seem to indicate all sin is the same, such as Matthew 5:21-28 – “21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’” 22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment “ and 27 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
However, in these passages Jesus is teaching about sin and its nature, not that all sin is equal. He taught that sin starts in the heart, and that all sin is abhorrent to God. He used the examples of murder and adultery to demonstrate these sins start mentally, not physically.
Instead, Jesus clearly taught there are varying degrees of punishment in Hell. We can see at least 22 examples of this principle documented in the New Testament. Here are a few examples:
The sin of not repenting (Luke 10) – 10 But whatever city you enter, and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, 11 ‘The very dust of your city which clings to us we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near you.’ 12 But I say to you that it will be more tolerable in that Day for Sodom than for that city.
13 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14 But it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. 15 And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades. 16 He who hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me.”
The sin of ignoring what they knew to be true, Jesus was God, and crucifying Him (John 19) – 10 Then Pilate said to Him, “Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?”
11 Jesus answered, “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.”
In these examples we can see how all sin is not the same. Hell is a horrible place, no one should ignore the fact we face falling under the eternal judgment and wrath of the living God. We see documented in the bible that there will be varying degrees of punishment in Hell. However, I am certain the unrepentant sinner will wish they had reduced their severity, if even slightly.
The good news is there is a way out from eternal hell. God desires that all come to Him in repentance and the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4). God gave His Son as a ransom for all that repent, accept His grace through faith, and live their lives in fellowship with Him.