Question:

What exactly does the scripture mean in Mark 9:44,46,48 where Jesus said, "where the worm dieth not"? Does it mean that pain will never cease for a person who is in hell? Why the reference to a worm?

Answer:

"If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched -- where 'Their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.' And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having two feet, to be cast into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched-- where 'Their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.' "And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire -- "where 'Their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched'" (Mark 9:43-48).

Jesus was speaking about the seriousness of Hell by illustrating it in hyperbole fashion. A person is better off maimed than spending an eternity in Hell. It is better to prevent being able to sin, even it if causes hardship, than to end up in Hell. Hell is pictured as a place of eternal decay and eternal burning (Isaiah 66:24). The two images are incompatible, but they represent the two ways used to dispose of a dead body. Either a body is buried with it decomposes in the earth or it is cremated. Hell is the place of the second death (Revelation 20:14) and so it is described in terms of a death that never ends. It isn't an annihilation because it never reaches a conclusion.