When Infernalists or Annihilationists point out that Jesus didn’t teach Universalism while He walked the earth, they’re absolutely correct. However, He didn’t teach Infernalism or Annihilationism either. He actually taught something else altogether.
Most people assume that Infernalism, Annihilationism, and Universalism are the only three options when it comes to the final possible outcome of humanity, but this assumption comes down to a lack of understanding of what the word ”salvation” even means when it’s used in different places in Scripture.
The first thing to remember is that the word ”salvation” actually has multiple meanings, depending on where you read it in the Bible. When Paul used the word in his epistles, it could sometimes refer to being given an immortal body, and hence being made sinless (this is salvation from an absolute perspective), but it could sometimes also simply refer to experiencing that salvation — immortality and perfection — early, before everyone else (this is salvation from an relative perspective, and is what the figurative “eternal life” he primarily taught about referred to).
When Jesus spoke of salvation while He walked the earth, on the other hand, He was primarily talking about getting to live in the Kingdom of Heaven, which simply meant to get to live in Israel during the Millennium (it has nothing to do with an afterlife at all, although the people He spoke to who will get to enjoy “eternal life” won’t experience it until they’ve been resurrected in the future, 75 days after His Second Coming). However, to miss out on this kind of salvation doesn’t necessarily mean to end up being punished without end, either by suffering in a fiery torture chamber or by ceasing to exist and never being resurrected again. The punishment simply meant missing out on living in Israel during the Millennium, and perhaps even in the New Jerusalem on the New Earth for a time, sometimes due to being exiled to other parts of the planet (this is what the ”furnace of fire” and “everlasting fire” referred to in His parables meant), and sometimes because they won’t be resurrected at the Resurrection of the Just. But those who understand how to interpret Scripture as a whole are aware that the sentence eventually comes to an end (words like “everlasting,” “eternal,” and “for ever” in the Bible don’t mean “without end”), and even those who have died a second time in the lake of fire will eventually be resurrected after their sentence is complete (and many who miss out on the lake of fire but who have not been saved will even get to live on the New Earth, even if they don’t get to live in the New Jerusalem at first).
This doesn’t mean that those who are resurrected from the second death, or those who got to live on the New Earth from its beginning but not in the New Jerusalem, will have been saved, at least not as far as the salvation we’re concerned with goes, because they won’t have been made immortal yet, and until one is immortal (and sinless), they haven’t fully experienced the salvation Paul wrote about. Even after those who weren’t saved on the New Earth have served out their sentences and are allowed into the New Jerusalem, they won’t be saved at that time either, because they still won’t have been made immortal yet. They’ll become amortal (which means to not be in the process of slowly dying as someone who is mortal is, but still being capable of being killed), because they’ll be kept alive by consuming the fruit and leaves of the tree of life, but that’s not true immortality since the fruit apparently needs to be consumed on a monthly basis in order to remain amortal, and they technically still could be killed (since only someone who is truly immortal is incapable of ever dying again), even if they won’t actually ever be killed, so that’s not the salvation Paul wrote about.
And so, had the glorified Christ never taught the truth about the salvation of all to Paul, and had Paul never relayed that good news to us, we’d assume that only a few will ever get saved (since only a few will get to enjoy the figurative ”eternal life” in Israel during the Millennium), but we’d also know that even those who didn’t get saved will still eventually get to enjoy amortal life on the New Earth, which means that Infernalism and Annihilationism were never actually even possibilities to begin with, even if Universalism also weren’t true. But we also learned from Paul that everyone will eventually experience salvation from an absolute perspective, which means those living on the New Earth who didn’t get to enjoy “eternal life” during the Millennium, and even those who are still dead in the lake of fire at the end of the final age, will still eventually enjoy the salvation Paul taught about, which is immortality and perfection (and resurrection if still dead at that point).
If this all sounds completely foreign to you, I’m not surprised, since you won’t learn what Scripture teaches in the Institutional Church. If you’d like to learn more about this, though, I wrote about it in detail in this article here.