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Christian views on Hell

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In Christian theology, Hell is the place or state into which by God's definitive judgment unrepentant sinners pass either immediately after death (particular judgment) or in the general judgment.[1] Its character is inferred from teaching in the biblical texts, some of which, interpreted literally, have given rise to the popular idea of Hell.[1]

Theologians today generally see Hell as the logical consequence of using free will to reject union with God and, because God will not force conformity, not incompatible with God's justice and mercy.[1]

Different Hebrew and Greek words are translated as "Hell" in most English-language Bibles. They include:

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  • ✪ The Truth About Hell (Selected Scriptures)
  • ✪ Are People Who Aren't Christians Going to Hell? Is that Fair? Tim Keller at Veritas [9 of 11]
  • ✪ History Lesson: Religion's Portrayal of 'Hell' is Totally Misunderstood | Rob Bell
  • ✪ Is The Christian View of Hell Coherent?
  • ✪ Chad Meister: Is the Christian Doctrine of Hell Unconscionable?


As we enter into this season of celebration for us as believers, we face an opportunity and a responsibility that I think is unique to the season and that is to be ready to speak the gospel to the folks that are around us who don’t know the Lord Jesus Christ. You heard from Travis the commission of Jesus to go into all the world and make disciples, baptizing them and commanding them to do all things that I have commanded you. This is our commission, this is why we are here in this world, to be ministers of reconciliation with a message of reconciliation to God that sinners might be saved. We talk about that, being saved. One of the people being baptized tonight made reference to being saved. What are we talking about? What is it we want people saved from? That is the compelling question. The answer to that question, as far as Scripture is concerned, is a simple answer. We want to see people saved from eternal punishment, punishment that never ends. Conscious existence, conscious life in a body resurrected and suited for everlasting punishment. The Bible speaks of that as occurring in a place that we know as hell. In the Old Testament, the word Sheol makes reference to that in a general way. In the New Testament, the word Hades is sometimes with reference to that. But always the word hell coming from the Greek word Gehenna speaks of what the book of Revelation calls this Lake of Fire where people are punished and tormented forever. I think we sort of comfortably distance ourselves from that reality. Certainly in general in the church it is looked over, passed by, ignored. There are those who claim to be preachers who don’t ever talk about hell, wouldn’t talk about hell, avoid it at all costs, when the truth of the matter is, it ought to be the first thing that we talk about when we talk about the gospel. This is about salvation from hell. The doctrine of hell, the truth of hell, the reality of hell has found its way into the thinking of our culture. According to the latest survey that I could find, seventy-five percent of people living in America believe in hell. They believe there’s a hell. That’s the influence of Christianity, 75 percent. Of those 75 percent, four percent believe there is any chance that they will ever go there. So we’ve gotten our point across. There is a hell. But we haven’t gotten the point across that you’re headed there already. That’s the issue. We live in a world where sin is freely exploited. Sin is so much a part of our culture that every imaginable sin is acceptable, except pedophilia, that’s the last sin left. And you watch the outrage, at least in the athletic world, if not in the Roman Catholic Church, over the sin of pedophilia. You don’t find that outrage over adultery, you don’t find that outrage over homosexuality, you don’t find that outrage over lying, cheating, stealing, etc. Murder is still unacceptable unless the person doesn’t deserve to live. The murder of a child is still an outrage. But we’re very used to sinning. And we’re very comfortable with sin and consequently society has very few consequences that it places on people for sin. So when people grow up in a world where things that once were defined as sin are no longer defined as sin, and behaviors have no consequence in the society, where, for example, when junior comes home at the age of twelve and announces to his mother that he’s a homosexual, she becomes a homosexual advocate. Absolutely no consequences to that kind of immoral behavior. There’s a warped sense of good and evil and distorted understanding of justice. We don’t know what sin is except a sin can never be what I do, it can be, however, if what I do harms someone else, that would be sin. But any act that I do in and of itself I’m free to do and there shouldn’t be any consequences at all. And the truth of the matter is then if the culture imposes no consequences and the family imposes no consequences, the society places no stigma on people for the kind of behaviors that are sinful behaviors, people get so used to sinning without consequences that when you introduce the idea that they will pay in full forever for every sin, that is just alien to their thinking. People sin without immediate consequences and to try to convince them that there are somehow down the road, decades from now if they live, deferred consequences is a hard sell. For example, you might want to try to convince someone of Romans 2 which says that you are storing up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and the revelation of the righteous judgment of God. You’re not getting away with anything, no act of fornication, no act of adultery, no sin in the mind, no sin in the behavior, no sin with the lips, no lie, no deception, no cheating, you’re not going to get away with any of it, you’re just accumulating iniquities, all of which will be confronted and judged. You’re storing up wrath. You’re going to need to have a large storehouse to contain all the wrath that’s going to break upon your head. That is a very difficult thing to convince people about who are so used to sinning. And at the same time, they’re so used to getting away with it. They’re not only used, can I say to getting away with it in the culture and in the world, but professing Christians are used to getting away with it in the so-called church. Churches are…so-called churches are very, very reluctant to confront sin, very reluctant to do the discipline that the Bible talks about doing, to teach people the consequence of sin. Parents are very reluctant to create significant consequences for the sins of their children, which may be the most important thing apart from the gospel that your child ever learns. That sin has immense and painful consequences. We need to tell people that every unforgiven sin, every sin committed by every person who rejects Jesus Christ will be justly punished by God forever in a place called hell. This is not new. This is what the Bible has said. You can go back to Moses. You can go back to the Pentateuch, the first section of books in the Bible. In Deuteronomy 32:22, it reads this way in the Authorized Version, “A fire is kindled…says God…in my anger and burns to the lowest part of hell.” The 1611 King James version made it clear even that early that the anger of God reached into hell. Our Lord’s first New Testament sermon was a sermon on hell. Jesus is a hell-fire preacher. I hear people say, “Well I don’t want to talk about hell, that’s very negative.” Jesus was a hell-fire preacher. Matthew 5, His first sermon as laid out in the New Testament, verse 22 of chapter 5 of Matthew, “I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be guilty before the court and whoever says to his brother, you good for nothing, shall be guilty before the Supreme Court and whoever says, You fool, shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.” Here is Jesus arriving in Jerusalem and beginning the first part of His ministry, then going up to Galilee and finishing off His ministry and wherever He went He was a preacher of hell. The Sermon on the Mount happens to be given on a hillside in Galilee. He speaks of the fiery hell as if He assumed that everybody knew about it, He doesn’t have to give them a definition or a description, it was a very well-known part of their biblical understanding. Same sermon, verse 29, if your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you, it’s better for you to lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. Verse 30, “If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off, throw it from you. Better to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” In the tenth chapter of the book of Matthew, that very familiar verse which is often quoted, and we’ll come back to it in a little bit, Matthew 10:28 where we read this, “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul…our Lord says…but fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” In chapter 11 He talks about hell. In Matthew chapter 18 He talks about hell. He talks about hell in chapter 23 several times. He says that the Pharisees are guilty of producing sons of hell and they’re sons of hell themselves.” Yes, Jesus was a hell-fire preacher. When we talk about salvation, the word has to be used…the word has to be used because we’re talking about rescue. Salvation is a word that means deliverance or rescue and the question is…from what? Contemporary kind of corrupted Christianity would offer many psychological and even material substitutes for hell. We would say, “Well, Jesus wants to save me from loneliness or He wants to save you from purposelessness, or He wants to save you from anxiety, or He wants to save you from poverty, or He wants to save you from failure, or He wants to save you from sickness, or He wants to save you from disappointment. No, no, He desires to save you from hell, from the fiery hell, the lake of fire that is eternal. The message of Scripture is that salvation is a rescue, a rescue from a real place called hell. Jesus spoke more about hell than anybody else in the Bible. In fact, He spoke more about hell than everybody else in the Bible combined. And He defined it as conscious, eternal punishment…conscious, eternal punishment. Our Lord Jesus believed in eternal hell. We’ll talk about some of the things that He said about it in a little bit. He continually spoke about hell and He warned sinners to escape hell because of its horrible reality. Turn to Luke 16 for a moment. And in Luke 16 you have Jesus actually telling a story about a man who went to hell. You will remember this. There was a rich man, Luke 16:19, he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, joyously living in splendor every day. And there was a poor man named Lazarus who was laid at his gate, covered with sores and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man’s table. Besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores. Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. That’s kind of an Old Testament reference to a place of comfort, a place of peace where Abraham is and Abraham, of course, was a true believer as the father of faith who received righteousness because he believed. So this would be heaven. And there went the poor man. The rich man, on the other hand, died and was buried in Hades, which, of course, here refers to hell because of the way its described. He lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. This is a parable and there are some names the Lord uses. He doesn’t usually use names in parables, but on this occasion He did, He used the name of Lazarus and Abraham. And this rich man who is shocked that he has ended up in hell, cried out and said, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue for I am in agony in this flame. So now Jesus tells us this is a place that you go to after death. This is a place of torment. This is a place of thirst. This is a place of agony. This is a place of fire. All of that is in what we just read. Abraham said, “Child, remember that during your life you received your good things and likewise Lazarus bad things. Now he’s being comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this between us and you, there is a great chasm fixed so that those who wished to come over from here to you will not be able and none may cross over from there to us. Once you’re there, you’re there forever. No escape. This is our Lord’s story describing hell. Was the Son of God wrong about that? Are the deniers of hell correct and there are many, many of them? It has become popular these days to deny the doctrine of hell in one of three ways, okay? I’ll give you a little insight into that. Number one is the view called annihilationism…annihilationism. This says unbelievers go out of existence. When they die, they just go out of existence, they don’t exist anymore. That the Bible doesn’t support since the Bible speaks of eternal conscious punishment. The second view that is offered, and by the way, people give very sophisticated arguments for this. I read a book, 475 pages on annihilationism trying to make the argument from the text of Scripture called The Fire That Consumes. And there are many others…many others. Recently a book questioning the doctrine of hell and advocating an annihilationist’s view was written by a man named Rob Bell. The second possibility that is offered today is universalism…universalism. This says that all unbelievers are in the end saved. They don’t go out of existence, they’re saved. These people would say yes, there is a hell. And this is where they hedge against the first one. There is a hell but hell was created for the devil and his angels, and that is what it says, of course, in the book of Revelation. So they’re the only ones who will go there. In the Roman Catholic University, Fordham University in New York, there’s a theological professor who said this, “It’s there…hell is…but possible that no one will go there.” That’s a universalist’s view that in the end God is going to save everybody. That doesn’t match with Scripture because the whole message of Scripture is that the ungodly are forever excluded from God’s presence and forever punished. If everybody is saved in the end, then everything in the Bible that speaks of eternal punishment is unbelievable, error. So whether you have all the sinners die or all the sinners get saved, die go out of existence, or get saved, you still don’t explain what the Bible says about everlasting punishment. There’s a third view called…we’ll call it inclusivism so annihilationism, universalism, inclusivism—that would be my word for it, some people will go to hell, but it will be the people who heard the gospel and rejected the gospel and the people who never heard the gospel won’t go to hell, they’ll be saved. So it’s kind of a selective inclusivism. Unbelievers who never heard the gospel will be saved because they aren’t responsible for their situation. They’ll be saved. But the problem with that is you can’t get saved unless you believe in Christ. There’s no salvation in any other name than the name of Jesus Christ. Universalism has its advocates, believe me. There are many advocates of universalism but they tend to be Bible deniers. The inclusivists who say the people who never heard the message are the ones who will be saved and not the rest, have a same problem, because they don’t have any support for their view in the Bible at all. And they tend to be weak on the view of Scripture and just throw away the verses that they don’t like. The dominant view is that first one I gave you called annihilationism and I want to talk about that a little bit, because you’re going to face it somewhere. It’s a trendy thing. It’s a popular idea. Some most remarkably useful, less effective, capable teachers of the Bible have lapsed into annihilationism, or as it’s sometimes called “Soul Sleep.” It’s the popular idea because it feels comfortable and it feels fair to the people who make a case for it. Now how to they make their case? How do you make a case for unbelievers just being obliterated, exterminated, wiped out forever? Their first argument comes from the verse I read you in Matthew 10 verse 28, “Fear Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. They tend to go there, and they like that word “destroy.” All right? They want to use that word “destroy.” Stick with me cause it’s going to be helpful to you. It’s a Greek word, apollumi…apollumi. That may sound a little bit familiar in your ear because in Revelation 9:11, Satan is given the name Apollyon, the destroyer. Apollumi is the word to destroy. But it is not its only meaning. That’s not the only possibility. But they say that word says that the ones who are under the judgment of God will be destroyed both soul and body in hell, so that they would go to hell and then be wiped out and exterminated, annihilated forever, non-existence. Is that the correct understanding of that word? Fortunately we have that word 80 times in the New Testament so we get a good breadth of understanding about how the verb apollumi is used. It has very broad meaning. In Matthew 2:13 it is the word used where it says in that verse, “Herod desired to destroy the baby.” Herod wasn’t thinking about soul annihilation, he was thinking about murder. In Matthew 8:25 in the immediate danger of the storm, the disciples are afraid and they are afraid of drowning. So in Matthew 8:25 the word apollumi has to do with drowning. In Luke 5:37 we hear a parable from Jesus about putting new wine in old wineskins and the wineskins crack and break and that’s the same verb apollumi, ruined wineskins. In Luke 15 it’s used three times to speak of a lost sheep, a lost coin, and a lost son. So the word can mean to kill, to drown, to render useless such as the case of wineskins, or to be lost. John 6:27 there’s a statement about food that perishes, and that is the word apollumi, perishables, food that is corrupted and useless. In John 17:12 our Lord says, “None of those that You have given to Me, Father, have perished but the son of perdition. Judas perished. Did he go out of existence? No. Jesus said he went not out of existence, but he went to his own place. He went to his own place. Here’s one some of you can experience this personally, I know I can. Luke 21, it is referring to the loss of hair. Yes, Austin, you can deal with that, can’t you? Can I have a witness? In Acts 8:20 you remember the confrontation between Peter and Simon the magician and Simon is trying to buy the Holy Spirit and Peter says, “May your money perish with you.” Romans 14:15, “Do not destroy with food the one for whom Christ died.” In Mark 14:4 it’s used of perfume that is spilled. Why has this perfume been wasted, says Judas about pouring perfume on Jesus. So it is possible to translate the word destroy but it is not the word for annihilation, obliteration, non-existence. Furthermore, in Matthew chapter 3 verse 12, Scripture calls hell the unquenchable fire. So Matthew 10:38, “Fear the one who destroys both soul and body in hell, it is an unquenchable fire.” It doesn’t go out and it doesn’t go out because it always has fuel. In the fourteenth chapter of the book of Revelation, verse 9, “If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he will drink of the wine of the wrath of God mixed in full strength in the cup of his anger. He will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the lamb and the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever. They have no rest day and night.” Eternal smoke and no rest, day and night forever. So you can’t make a case out of the word apollumi used in Matthew 10:28. So they try to go to another word. If you look at 2 Thessalonians, chapter 1 and verse 9, it says, “These…that is those who do not obey the gospel from verse 8, those who reject the gospel…these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction. This is not the word apollumi, this is a different word, olethros…olethros. The penalty of eternal destruction, they suggest that destruction, eternal destruction means you’re destroyed forever, you go out of existence. That is not what this word necessarily means. First Corinthians 5:5 uses the same word and it says, “I have decided…speaking of a sinner in the church, a professing believer sinning in the church…I’ve decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh so that his spirit may be saved.” Well obviously it’s not the annihilation of his flesh. He’s not a disembodied spirit who then in a disembodied state would become saved. So the destruction of the flesh means some kind of devastation but does not necessarily mean annihilation. Furthermore, in this verse, verse 9, these pay the penalty of eternal destruction away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power which means that they are placed somewhere away from God. It can’t mean the annihilation of a person’s physical body in 1 Corinthians 5:5 and it doesn’t mean the annihilation of the person’s soul and body here, because it refers to a place where they will be away from God. So I’m just saying, they have a hard time trying to make their case with words….with words. Perhaps a verse that will pull it all together is 1 Timothy 6:9, the last chapter of 1 Timothy. It says, “Those that want to get rich fall into temptation,” we know this verse, “and a snare in many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction.” Do you think that means absolute annihilation, non-existence? No. What it’s saying is that if you get yourself in a situation where you want to get rich, you’re going to be trapped in temptations and snares; they’re going to lead you to foolish and harmful desires which will plunge your life into total ruination. Not annihilation. By the way, ruin here in verse…Timothy 6:9 is olethros and destruction comes from the verb apollumi. So both the words are used here to refer to something other than annihilation. So some of these texts, if you connect the dots, we would conclude this. Both these words mean the ruin of someone for useful purpose or function…the ruin of someone for a useful purpose or function, the ruin of a wineskin, the ruin of food that perishes, the ruin of a life destroyed by the love of money, and the temptations that come with it for any useful purpose, a soul ruined, a soul destroyed as to its usefulness, not its existence. That’s why I said, this morning, and I say it again tonight, hell is viewed best and most clearly by the Greek word Gehenna which is a word that comes from the valley of Hinnom. The valley of Hinnom just east of Jerusalem and a little bit south, I’ve been there many times, is the place in ancient times where the city dump was and it was a never extinguished burning fire. And it became the metaphor for the Lake of Fire, for hell. You threw whatever was useless into the trash into the fire. When I was a kid growing up, everybody in my neighborhood had an incinerator…we had an incinerator before smog. There were no trash trucks. We burned everything in an incinerator in the back of the house. Everything that was useless, everything that was to be discarded, and it seemed like it was always burning day after day. A soul forever ruined for usefulness to God, having a spoiled marred image, we talked about that this morning, is thrown into the everlasting trash heap, the burning fires of Gehenna or hell. That’s what those words are talking about, not annihilation. You cannot make that case from Scripture. In Matthew chapter 26, I think it’s verse 24, Jesus is talking about Judas and He says, “The Son of Man is to go just as it is written of Him,” He says this at the Upper Room communion with His disciples. “The Son of Man is to go just as it is written of Him, but woe to the man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.” Why would He say that? It would have been good for that man if he had not been born. Why? Because of the consequences that are about to come to him. It wouldn’t matter if he was going to be annihilated, if he was going to be exterminated. Hell is eternal conscious punishment. There’s no way around this. Now, for a minute, I want you to turn to Matthew chapter 25, enough of trying to answer those lame arguments. I understand the emotion behind them. But I want you to look at Matthew 25:46 because this is an inescapable parallel, or contrasting parallel. “These,” our Lord says, “will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Both words “eternal” are identical. They’re the same in the original language. So if hell isn’t eternal, then guess what? Neither is heaven. Those will go away into eternal punishment. The righteous will go into eternal life. If there is eternal life, then there is eternal punishment. Get rid of hell and you have to get rid of heaven as being forever. Was our Lord wrong about this? Are the critics right? Are the deniers of hell right and the Lord is wrong? If the Lord was wrong, why was He wrong? Was He ignorant of the truth? If He was, then He’s not the Lord of all. He’s not the way, the truth and the life. Or was He…did He only appear to be wrong because He couldn’t figure out how to say it in a way that we could really get it? Was He not so much ignorant as inept? I don’t think you want to go there. He wasn’t wrong. He wasn’t ignorant. He wasn’t incapable of saying what He wanted to say. Let me put the case where it really belongs. Did Jesus mean to teach annihilation and somehow goof it up and teach the opposite? Is that what’s going on here? He meant to teach annihilation and He just messed it up. Nonsense. Further affirmation of the reality of hell from some other perspectives, just talk this through with you a little bit, there’s so much that could be said about this. There is one pastor on the east coast who preached 76 hour-long sermons on hell. That would empty a church. Whoa! Look, it comes up, when it comes up in the Scripture, you deal with it. One is enough to make the case. But let me give you some perspectives that will help. First of all, let’s take a rational perspective, just rational. We need to use our minds, God has given us our minds to reason rightly. Satan and the demons will be sent to the Lake of Fire forever. Why? Because they rebelled against God. Satan and one third of the holy angels rebelled against God. Unbelievers rebel against God. Unbelievers not only rebel against God but we are in the family of Satan. John 8, “Satan is your father,” he says. You’re of your father, the devil. Unbelievers are in that family and we rebel as the angels rebelled and we must receive the same punishment that anyone who rebels deserves, the same kind of punishment, same nature of punishment, the same duration of punishment because we commit the same crime. In the twentieth chapter of Revelation, the devil, verse 10, who deceived them was thrown into the Lake of Fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are also. The beast and the false prophet are just human beings. The final Antichrist and his cohort, the false prophet, and they’re in the Lake of Fire as well, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. So that torment will be for the demons and Satan. That torment will be for men who committed themselves to follow Satan, namely the beast and the false prophet. And they’re just two of all the humans who will suffer the same fate as the rebellious angels because they followed the same crime. Sinners and fallen angels commit the same crime, share the same guilt and receive the same punishment. Now somebody says, “Does the sentence really fit the crime?” Well we’re thinking rationally for a minute. Well the lawgiver determines that, doesn’t he? The law giver determines that. the law that is written determines the extent of the crime and what is a fitting punishment for the crime and God has determined that the crime is heinous enough that it should be judged in this way. And that is always the hurdle that people have trouble getting over. How can a temporal sin or sins result in an eternal punishment? It seems excessive. Let me help you with that. The amount of time that a sinner sins is irrelevant. If the sinner dies at fifteen-years-old; thirty-five or a hundred and ten; the amount of time a sinner sins is irrelevant. Crimes against the infinitely holy and exalted God are infinitely wicked and the punishment fits the crime. Infinite crimes against an infinite God deserve an infinite punishment. And here’s the key. Sinners who go to hell never repent. They never repent. They continue to rebel. Every description of hell indicates to us that it is…listen carefully…it is not a remedial experience. It is not remedial justice. It is retributive justice. They remain God-haters forever so that the punishment never catches up with the sin. Understand that? It’s really important. In hell they continue to hate God. In hell they continue to curse God. In hell they continue to mock God and blaspheme God and hate Christ. So the punishment never catches up to the sin because the sinning never, ever, ever ceases. You understand that, that’s really important. People don’t go to hell and then never sin forever and just get punished forever. They go to hell and keep on sinning forever, so the punishment can never catch up with the wretchedness. That is why the Bible in Mark 3 describes this as eternal sin…as eternal sin. Let me tell you something. I believe that sinners are more sinful in hell than they were on earth because their sin on earth is mitigated to some degree, necessarily mitigated. Everybody can’t be as wicked as he would choose to be here because there are consequences. There are restraints. There are expectations. But in hell, there are none. Everybody is as evil as he can be. In Jude 7 it says that they undergo a punishment of eternal fire. And this judgment, according to verse 15, is on the ungodly for all their ungodly deeds which they’ve done in an ungodly way and all the harsh things the ungodly sinners have spoken against Him. The word ungodly is used repeatedly there and when they get to hell, they’re just as ungodly as they ever were, in fact more so in that environment without constraint and continue to be punished because they continue everlastingly their rebellion. Let me talk about it just for a moment from a theological. That’s a rational approach in understanding what Scripture says, a theological approach. And that would be to understand the nature of God. God’s honor and God’s glory is manifest in the punishment of the wicked. God’s honor and God’s glory is manifest in the punishment of the wicked. God, because He is holy and because He is absolutely righteous and just, must punish sin. Listen to…there are a lot of portions of Scripture we might look at but here’s Isaiah 66 verse 22 to 24 where the Lord says, “Just as the new heavens and the new earth which I make will endure before Me, declares the Lord, so your offspring and your name will endure.” In other words, you’re going to live forever in the new heaven and the new earth. It shall be from new moon to new moon, and Sabbath to Sabbath, and all mankind will come to bow down before Me, says the Lord. Then they will go forth and look on the corpses of the men who have transgressed against Me. Their worm will not die, their fire will not be quenched.” That again is Isaiah 66 saying because of what men have done to Me, they will experience an everlasting fire. Again it’s the character of God that is at stake. Daniel 12 tells us in verse 2 that many will awake to everlasting life, in the end. Others to disgrace an everlasting content. Matthew 18 calls it an eternal fire and a fiery hell. Matthew 25 refers to eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels…I think I said Revelation earlier, it’s Matthew 25. We’re familiar with all of this. And hell is God’s hell where He punishes those who refuse to give Him honor and glory. He acts in the world to reveal His glory and men reject that glory and they pay for that rejection. Hell is not remedial. It has no remedial effect. They will remain forever rebellious, God-haters, lovers of sin, blasphemers of the Holy Spirit, and rejecters of the Lord Jesus Christ. If there is any satisfaction in hell, if there is any fulfillment of anything in hell, is that they can be as wicked as they want to be without restraint because no influence of God is there. So the theological issue is an important one. Hell is for those who hate God. They act against His mercy. They act against His grace. They act against His holiness. They act against the sovereignty. They act against His glory. And they will continue to do so forever. Then thirdly we could look at it biblically. First of all, we can look at it rationally, and theologically. These overlap a little bit, but the final one is biblical. What does the Bible say? Well we’ve quoted all kinds of Scriptures. I think one of the most interesting things about hell, at least to me, is Ecclesiastes 9:10, it says this, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might for there’s no activity or planning or knowledge, or wisdom in Sheol.” Whoa! That sounds like eternal boredom…no activity, no planning, no learning, no nothing. No advance at all. Job 10 verses 21 and 22 describes hell as everlasting darkness. So does Matthew 8:12 and Matthew 22:13, a place of eternal darkness. Again Matthew 8:12 and Matthew 22:13 describe it as a place of everlasting pain…everlasting pain. There’s a passage of Scripture outside of the New Testament that I think is probably one that gets overlooked too much. And it’s a passage in Ezekiel, very interesting, verse 17, “In the twelfth year, the fifteenth of the month, the Word of the Lord came to me saying, “Son of Man, wail for the hordes of Egypt and bring it down. Her and the daughters of the powerful nations to the Netherworld with those who go down to the pit. These nations are going down to hell. Go down and make your bed with the uncircumcised, the nations, the Gentiles. They shall fall in the midst of those who are slain by the sword. She’s given over to the sword,” talking about Egypt here specifically, “They have drawn her and all her hoards away. The strong among the mighty one shall speak of him and his helpers from the midst of Sheol.” Here are the hordes and the forces of pagan Egypt ending up in hell. They’ve gone down. They lie still, the uncircumcised slain by the sword. And guess what? Assyria is there and all her company, her graves are round about her. All of them are slain, fallen by the sword. His graves are set in the remotest part of the pit. Elam is there, verse 24, and all her hoards. Twenty-six, “Meshech, all her hoards are there. Their graves surround them. All of them slain by the sword uncircumcised, nor do they lie beside the fallen heroes of the uncircumcised who went down to Sheol with their weapons of war and whose swords were said unto their heads. But the punishment for their iniquity rested on their bones. In other words, Jew, Gentile, they’re all there. Edom is there. The chiefs of the north, verse 30, are there. The Sidonians are there. They’re all going to be there and when Egypt arrives, verse 31, they’re going to see they’re all there. They’re all there. Though I instilled a terror of him in the land of the living, yet he will be made to lie down among the uncircumcised, along with those slain by the sword, even Pharaoh and all his hoards, declares the Lord God. They’re all going to end up in hell. What a dramatic picture. And they will be there with an identity that is recognizable. They’ll see Pharaoh arrive. The Bible speaks of hell in very specific words…agony, banishment, brimstone, curse, darkness, deprivation, destruction, distress, fire, teeth-grinding, guilt, hopelessness, loneliness, pain, suffering, pressure, prison, punishment, ruin, separation, shame, contempt, smokes, sulfur, torment, trouble, trash heap, weeping, all forever. There are many roads to hell…many roads to hell. In one sense, every sinner goes there on the road of his own sinful choices, many roads to hell, any sin, every sin creates a road that arrives at hell. You can go on the road of pride, or you can go as a pedophile. You can go as a self-righteous religious leader, or you can go as an aide to Adolph Hitler. Many, many roads to hell. On the other hand, there’s only one way to escape hell, right? Only one way. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” First Thessalonians 1:10 says, “Jesus rescues us from the wrath to come…from the wrath to come.” I want to close by going back to the story that Jesus told in Luke 16, just briefly. We stopped the story at verse 26, but I want us to finish it. Pick it up in verse 27. The last word in verse 26 was, “When you’re there, you can’t leave. Nobody can come from there to heaven and nobody from heaven will ever show up there. But in the story, the parable that Jesus invented, the rich man who is being tormented in hell is pleading with Abraham and he says, “I beg you, father…father Abraham…verse 27…send him to my father’s house,” send Lazarus back, I have five brothers, in order that he may warn them so they will not also come to this place of torment. And Abraham said, “They have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them.” That’s a reference to the Scripture. But he said, “No, Father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.” But he said to them, “If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone arises from the dead.” How do you evangelize people? You lead them to the holy Scripture. Even a person back from the dead wouldn’t persuade them if they’re unwilling to listen to Scripture. Foolish people think they can persuade people on the way to hell to change the style of their wardrobe, the style of their music, or the kind of environment they create. How foolish. If they don’t listen to Scripture, they will not be persuaded. Scripture is the only persuasive means that the Holy Spirit uses to regenerate and rescue souls from hell. So, knowing the gospel, knowing the biblical gospel, that’s what we must use. That’s the Scripture. So next Sunday night, we’re going to move from “Saved from what?” to “Saved by what? Talk about the importance and essential character of the gospel. Father, it’s been a wonderful day for us and in some ways it’s a sad reality that we’ve talked about tonight at such a happy season, but this is necessary. We have to see people…as the Apostle Paul said…he saw no one after the flesh. Once he came to Christ, he didn’t see anybody after the flesh. In other words, he didn’t take people at their physical face. He didn’t see them as physical beings. It wasn’t about their wardrobe or their life style or their possessions. He saw no man after the flesh. Help us to see them all as perishing, eternal souls, headed for the horrors of the Lake of Fire. And elevate our passion, our compassion, our zeal to plead with them to escape the fire. May we do what Jude says, may we grab people and snatch brans from the burning. Give us that opportunity, even these days as we go through the Christmas season. Help us to understand the horrors of what awaits those who know not the Savior and give us a fresh and a new zeal for their souls. May we be instruments that you can use to bring many to the Savior, even this season. We thank You for this privilege in the power of the Spirit in the truth of the Word that enables us to be used in this way, in the name of Christ. Amen. END SUNDAY MESSAGE: SEE ADDITIONAL FOOTNOTE BELOW STUDIO FOOTNOTE ADDITION: I know the message is completed, but I wanted to add a portion to the sermon that you heard on this particular occasion. In discussing the doctrine of eternal hell, eternal punishment, I tried to cover as much as I could in one hour. But it was impossible. Time constraints in the service of the church at the time limited me to that amount of time. But there’s another aspect of the doctrine of eternal punishment that I wanted to add to the message that I think is very important for us to have a complete understanding. We talked about the fact that people go to hell because they reject the gospel. They go to hell because they are born in sin and they live lives of sin and rebellion against God. And I said that it’s not a matter of how many sins, or now many years of sin, or the grossness of sin, it’s the same hell for everyone. But I wanted to add a footnote that I think is very important to recognize because the justice of God is very specific…the justice of God is very individual. Sometimes in medieval art you see depictions of hell and there’s some kind of a great funnel in which everybody is just poured and they all go flowing through this funnel into kind of the same environment of fiery existence. But hell is much more individual that that. And the Scripture indicates to us that not everyone suffers in hell to the same degree. We know the Bible teaches there are degrees of reward in heaven that not every believer will receive the same reward when we go to heaven. We’ll receive the same eternal life, the same perfection, the same eternal righteousness, the same opportunity to live in heaven and be in the Father’s house and all of that. But there will be degrees of reward in heaven. At the same time, there will be degrees of punishment in hell. And the Scripture indicates this very clearly. Let me read to you Luke chapter 12, starting at verse 41. “Peter said, ‘Lord, are You addressing this parable to us? Or to everyone else as well?’” And this was a parable about the Lord’s coming and being ready for His return. “And the Lord answered Peter saying this, ‘Who then is the faithful and sensible steward whom his master will put in charge of his servants to give them their rations at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But if that slave says in his heart my master will be a long time in coming,’ and begins to beat the slaves, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know and will cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers. And that slave who knew his mater’s will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, will receive many lashes. But the one who didn’t know it and committed deeds worthy of a flogging will receive but few. From everyone who has been given much, much will be required. And to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.’” In that parable that our Lord tells, you have the picture of the believer who is the faithful, dutiful servant, who does what his master wills and is ready to meet his master when he comes. That’s a picture of a believer ready to meet the Lord when He returns. But on the other hand, in verses 45 and 46, you have a very different scene. Here is a slave who says in his heart, “My master will be a long time in coming,” and begins to beat the slaves, both men and women, to eat and drink and get drunk. Well the master of that slave will come on a day when he doesn’t expect him and at an hour he doesn’t know and will cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers. That’s a picture of the unbeliever, the one who is not ready for the return of Christ, the one who has nothing but disdain for the Lord and Master, and he will be set for a horrific judgment. The servants in this story picture every person in the world. Every person in the world is responsible for how that person handles the good gifts of God revealed to him. In other words, an opportunity to know the truth. The Law of God written in the heart of every man, a conscience. The truth about God manifests from creation, the light that shines in every heart. What a person does with the opportunity to know the truth and the opportunity to hear the gospel, determines that person’s destiny. The ones who believe the truth, who accept the truth of God, who embrace the gospel, they’re the ones who will be rewarded by receiving all that the master possesses. On the other hand, the others who waste their exposure to the truth, waste their exposure to divine revelation and reject the gospel when they’ve heard it, will receive the severest judgment. So you have one group in the story faithful to make the most of that gospel stewardship, and they receive the privilege of being in the Kingdom, going to heaven. You have another group unfaithful to make the use of gospel opportunity, gospel stewardship and they’re punished with a fierce judgment that describes in the words of Jesus as cutting them in pieces, and then there comes the warning that he gives at the end, that slave who knew his master’s will and didn’t get ready or act in accord with his will, will receive many lashes. But the one who didn’t know it will receive but a few. That’s talking about eternal punishment. Both are punished, one with few lashes and one with many lashes. And what makes the difference? Not the volume of sin, not the nature of sin, not the intensity of sin, not the number of years one lived to accumulate far more sin than someone who lived far less years, but what a person does with the gospel…with divine truth. That is what determines the severity of hell. The more of the truth of the gospel you know, and reject, the severer the punishment will be. In that sense, the gospel is eternally dangerous if rejected. There will be degrees of punishment then on unbelievers in hell, not based on categories of sin, not based on amounts of sin, but based on the level of truth they rejected. That is why Hebrews 10:29 says this, “How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled underfoot the Son of God and has regarded as unclean the blood of the Covenant, the New Covenant, by which he was sanctified and has insulted the Spirit of Grace?” Boy, that’s a strong verse. “How much severer punishment will come on the person who knows about the Son of God, knows about the shedding of His blood to provide salvation through the New Covenant, regards that as an unclean thing and thereby insults the Spirit of Grace? The very Spirit who was the power behind Jesus offering Himself up. He offered Himself up by the Holy Spirit. You insult Christ when you reject with the full knowledge of the gospel and you insult the Holy Spirit. By the way, Hebrews 10:29 says that and then it says in the next verse, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” And in the next verse, “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” So judgment is predicated on one’s knowledge of the gospel. It’s a far severer hell awaiting those who knew the truth, the gospel, and rejected it. There’s another account in Matthew chapter 11, verses 22 through 24, that I want you to listen to. Verse 22 begins, “Nevertheless, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will descend to Hades, or hell, for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day. Nevertheless, I say to you it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you.” What that says is that people living in the village of Capernaum at the north end of the Sea of Galilee who were exposed extensively to the life and ministry of Jesus Christ will be more severely punished in hell than the horrific sins that marked the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, sins of gross immorality and homosexuality, so vile that God buried those cities with fire and brimstone. What that means is the people who suffer in hell today from Sodom and Gomorrah don’t suffer to the same degree as those in Capernaum who rejected the Lord Jesus Christ. There is one other passage that informs us on the degrees of punishment and it is from 2 Peter chapter 2. Listen to what Peter writes. Speaking of false teachers, “They are springs without water, mists driven by a storm for whom the black darkness has been reserved. For speaking out arrogant words of vanity, they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption.” Now that’s a description of false teachers. Very graphic, springs without waters, mists without a storm, black darkness reserved for them, they are arrogant, they speak words of vanity, they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality and they’re enticing these people who are just barely escaping. In other words, they’re just sort of moralizing, they’re just sort of escaping the severest kinds of corruption. It’s not a true salvation. It’s just a bare escape. And then the next verse says, “Promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption.” And then it says about them, For if after they have escaped the defilements of the world.” What does that mean? Salvation? No, not at all. What it means is they become moral. They put on religion. They may be legalistic, they may live outwardly, visibly moral lives. They have separated themselves from the defilement of the world and they now say they are religious and they’re ministers and theologians and purveyors of religion. They have only superficially escaped. But it says, “They are again entangled and are overcome and the last state has become worse for them than the first.” In the end, they can’t keep up the hypocrisy. In the end they can’t keep up the moral deception and calamity strikes. You know, time and truth go hand in hand. False teachers eventually will show themselves to be what they really are. And commenting on these false teachers, Peter says this, “It would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them. False teachers will have the severest punishment in hell because they not only knew the way of righteousness through Christ, it even says that they came to the knowledge of the Lord. They moralized themselves. They pretended to be Christians. They even identified, it says, with their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ superficially, but only superficially. And in the end, they turned away. It would have been better for them if they had never known the gospel than to have known it and turned from it. And that is saying the very same thing. They would have less severe punishment in hell if they had never known the truth. It is not again the kind of sin that one commits, it is not again the amount of sin that determines the degree of punishment, but it is the truth rejected that determines the severest punishment. And the most severe of all for those false teachers who knew the truth, who even proclaimed the truth, who identified with the truth, identified with Christ, moralized their lives on the outside, but were never truly saved because bottom line…they rejected the gospel they pretended to affirm. There will be very specific degrees of punishment in hell for every sinner based upon the knowledge rejected, the truth resisted.


Jewish background

Hell (on the right) is portrayed in this 16th-century Hieronymus Bosch painting.
Hell (on the right) is portrayed in this 16th-century Hieronymus Bosch painting.

In ancient Jewish belief, the dead were consigned to Sheol, a place to which all were sent indiscriminately (cf. Genesis 37:35; Numbers 16:30-33; Psalm 86:13; Ecclesiastes 9:10). Sheol was thought of as a place situated below the ground (cf. Ezek. 31:15), a place of darkness, silence and forgetfulness (cf. Job 10:21).[4] By the third to second century BC, the idea had grown to encompass separate divisions in sheol for the righteous and wicked (cf. the Book of Enoch),[5] and by the time of Jesus, some Jews had come to believe that those in Sheol awaited the resurrection of the dead either in comfort (in the bosom of Abraham) or in torment.

By at least the late rabbinical period, Gehinnom was viewed as the place of ultimate punishment, exemplified by the rabbinical statement "the best of physicians are destined to Gehinnom." (M. Kiddushin 4:14); also described in Assumption of Moses and 2 Esdras.[6] The term is derived from Gei Ben-Hinnom, a valley near Jerusalem originally used as a location for human sacrifices to the idol Moloch:

And he defiled the Tophet, which is in the valley of Ben-hinnom, that no man might make his son or his daughter pass through the fire to Molech.

And they built the high places of the Ba‘al, which are in the valley of Ben-hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire to Molech; which I did not command them, nor did it come into my mind that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.

In the Greek Septuagint the Hebrew word Sheol was translated as Hades, the name for the underworld and abode of the dead in Greek mythology. The realm of eternal punishment in Hellenistic mythology was Tartarus, Hades was a form of limbo for the unjudged dead.[citation needed]

New Testament

Three different New Testament words appear in most English translations as "Hell":

ᾅδης (Hades)[7] 9[8] hell (9/10)[9] Hades (10/10) Hades (9/9) Hades (7/9 or 4/9)[10] Hades (8/9)[11] death's kingdom (3/9)[12] grave (6/9)[13]
γέεννα (Gehenna)[14] 12[15] hell hell hell hell hell hell hell
ταρταρῶ (Tartarō̂, verb)[16] 1[17] hell hell hell hell hell hell hell

The most common New Testament term translated as "Hell" is γέεννα (gehenna), a direct loan of Hebrew גהנום/גהנם (ge-hinnom). Apart from one use in James 3:6, this term is found exclusively in the synoptic gospels.[18][19][20] Gehenna is most frequently described as a place of fiery torment (e.g., Matthew 5:22, 18:8-9; Mark 9:43-49); other passages mention darkness and "weeping and gnashing of teeth" (e.g., Matthew 8:12; 22:13).[19]

Apart from the use of the term gehenna (translated as "Hell" or "Hell fire" in most English translations of the Bible; sometimes transliterated, or translated differently)[21][22][23] the Johannine writings refer to the destiny of the wicked in terms of "perishing", "death" and "condemnation" or "judgment". Paul speaks of "wrath" and "everlasting destruction" (cf. Romans 2:7-9; 2  Thessalonians), while the general epistles use a range of terms and images including "raging fire" (Hebrews 10:27), "destruction" (2  Peter 3:7), "eternal fire" (Jude 7) and "blackest darkness" (Jude 13). The Book of Revelation contains the image of a "lake of fire" and "burning sulphur" where "the devil, the beast, and false prophet" will be "tormented day and night for ever and ever" (Revelation 20:10) along with those who worship the beast or receive its mark (Revelation 14:11).[24]

The New Testament also uses the Greek word hades, usually to refer to the abode of the dead (e.g., Acts 2:31; Revelation 20:13).[5] Only one passage describes hades as a place of torment, the parable of Lazarus and Dives (Luke 16:19-31). Jesus here depicts a wicked man suffering fiery torment in hades, which is contrasted with the bosom of Abraham, and explains that it is impossible to cross over from one to the other. Some scholars believe that this parable reflects the intertestamental Jewish view of hades (or sheol) as containing separate divisions for the wicked and righteous.[5][24] In Revelation 20:13-14 hades is itself thrown into the "lake of fire" after being emptied of the dead.

Parables of Jesus concerning the hereafter

In the eschatological discourse of Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus says that, when the Son of Man comes in his glory, he will separate people from one another as a shepherd separates sheep from goats, and will consign to everlasting fire those who failed to aid "the least of his brothers". This separation is stark, with no explicit provision made for fine gradations of merit or guilt:[25]

Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me. ...whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.

— Matthew 25:41–43 (NIV)

In a parable about "The Rich Man and Lazarus" in Luke 16:19-31, the poor man Lazarus enjoys a blissful repose in the "bosom of Abraham" (Luke 16:22), while the rich man who was happy in life is tormented by fire in Hades (Luke 16:23-24), the two realms being separated by a great chasm (Luke 16:26).

Orthodox conceptions

"A Monster from Hell". A 19th-century Russian hand-drawn lubok.
"A Monster from Hell". A 19th-century Russian hand-drawn lubok.

Basic Orthodox teachings

Hell - detail from a fresco in the medieval church St. Nicolas in Raduil, Bulgaria
Hell - detail from a fresco in the medieval church St. Nicolas in Raduil, Bulgaria
Eastern Orthodox views

The Eastern Orthodox Church teaches that Heaven and Hell are relations to or experiences of God's just and loving presence.[26][27] There is no created place of divine absence, nor is hell an ontological separation from God.[28] One expression of the Eastern teaching is that hell and heaven are dimensions of God's intensifying presence, as this presence is experienced either as torment or as paradise depending on the spiritual state of a person dwelling with God.[26][29] For one who hates God and by extension hates himself as God's image-bearer, to be encompassed by the divine presence could only result in unspeakable anguish.[30][31][32] Aristotle Papanikolaou [10] and Elizabeth H. Prodromou [11] wrote in their book Thinking Through Faith: New Perspectives from Orthodox Christian Scholars that for the Orthodox: "Those theological symbols, heaven and hell, are not crudely understood as spatial destinations but rather refer to the experience of God's presence according to two different modes."[33] Several Orthodox theologians do describe hell as separation from God, in the sense of being out of fellowship or loving communion. Archimandrite Sophrony (Sakharov) spoke of "the hell of separation from God".[34] Paul Evdokimov stated: "Hell is nothing else but separation of man from God, his autonomy excluding him from the place where God is present."[35] According to Theodore Stylianopoulos, "Hell is a spiritual state of separation from God and inability to experience the love of God, while being conscious of the ultimate deprivation of it as punishment."[36] Michel Quenot stated: "Hell is none other than the state of separation from God, a condition into which humanity was plunged for having preferred the creature to the Creator. It is the human creature, therefore, and not God, who engenders hell. Created free for the sake of love, man possesses the incredible power to reject this love, to say 'no' to God. By refusing communion with God, he becomes a predator, condemning himself to a spiritual death (hell) more dreadful than the physical death that derives from it."[37] Another writer declared: "The circumstances that rise before us, the problems we encounter, the relationships we form, the choices we make, all ultimately concern our eternal union with or separation from God."[38]

The Eastern Orthodox Church rejects what is presented as the Roman Catholic doctrine of purgatory as a place where believers suffer as their "venial sins" are purged before gaining admittance to heaven.[39]

Contrary to Western Christianity, both Roman and Protestant varieties, the Christians of the East emphasize the mystery of God in his pre-eternal transcendence and maintain a tradition of apophatic theology, while the technical, cataphatic theology of scholasticism tends to be downplayed or viewed as subordinate.[citation needed] Thus, there is no single "official" teaching of the Church apart from apostolic doctrine received and, when necessary, defined by Ecumenical Councils. The Orthodox positions on hell are derived from the sayings of the saints and the consensus views of the Church Fathers. They are not in agreement on all points, and no council universally recognized by the Eastern Orthodox Churches has formulated doctrine on hell,[citation needed] so there is no official doctrine to which all the faithful are bound. Beliefs concerning the nature and duration of hell are considered theologoumena, or theological opinions, rather than dogmas of the Church.


Icon in Saint Catherine's Monastery, Sinai, showing monks falling from the Ladder to Heaven into the mouth of a dragon, representing Hell
Icon in Saint Catherine's Monastery, Sinai, showing monks falling from the Ladder to Heaven into the mouth of a dragon, representing Hell

Saint John Chrysostom pictured Hell as associated with "unquenchable" fire and "various kinds of torments and torrents of punishment".[40]

Depiction of Hell on an icon in Gelati Monastery, Georgia
Depiction of Hell on an icon in Gelati Monastery, Georgia

Eastern Orthodox icons of the Last Judgment, most notably in the Slavic traditions, often depict tormented, lost sinners in Hell. Pages 66–69 of John-Paul Himka's Last Judgment Iconography in the Carpathians provides an illustrated description of some such 15th-century Carpathian icons based on a northern Rus' prototype (p. 193). The depiction in these particular icons, a depiction that may have developed from 12th-century Greek and South Slavic depictions differentiating sinners and their punishments (p. 68), is referred to by Himka as "the new hell", "because various sinners are being punished in a squarish area with torments that did not appear in the standard Byzantine iconography" (p. 42).

Icons based on The Ladder of Divine Ascent, by Saint John Climacus, show monks ascending a thirty-rung ladder to Heaven represented by Christ, or succumbing to the arrows of demons and falling from the ladder into Hell, sometimes represented by an open-jawed dragon.[41]

Roman Catholicism

Medieval image of hell in the Hortus deliciarum of Herrad of Landsberg (c. 1180)
Medieval image of hell in the Hortus deliciarum of Herrad of Landsberg (c. 1180)

Where souls go after death

Aquinas uses an analogy of buoyancy:

And since a place is assigned to souls in keeping with their reward or punishment, as soon as the soul is set free from the body it is either plunged into hell or soars to heaven, unless it be held back by some debt, for which its flight must needs be delayed until the soul is first of all cleansed. ... Sometimes venial sin, though needing first of all to be cleansed, is an obstacle to the receiving of the reward; the result being that the reward is delayed. [12]

— St Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae Suppl. Q69 A2

As self-exclusion

The Catechism of the Catholic Church which, when published in 1992, Pope John Paul II declared to be "a sure norm for teaching the faith",[42] defines hell as eternal fiery punishment for refusing to love God:

We cannot be united with God unless we freely choose to love him. But we cannot love God if we sin gravely against him, against our neighbor or against ourselves: "He who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him." Our Lord warns us that we shall be separated from him if we fail to meet the serious needs of the poor and the little ones who are his brethren. To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God's merciful love means remaining separated from him for ever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called "hell." Jesus often speaks of "Gehenna" of "the unquenchable fire" reserved for those who to the end of their lives refuse to believe and be converted, where both soul and body can be lost. Jesus solemnly proclaims that he "will send his angels, and they will gather... all evil doers, and throw them into the furnace of fire," and that he will pronounce the condemnation: "Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire!" The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, which is described (in quotes) as "eternal fire."[43]

As a place or a state


The Catechism published by Pope Pius X in 1908 defined Hell by using the word "state" alone: "Hell is a state to which the wicked are condemned, and in which they are deprived of the sight of God for all eternity, and are in dreadful torments."[44]

Pope John Paul II stated on 28 July 1999, that, in speaking of Hell as a place, the Bible uses "a symbolic language", which "must be correctly interpreted … Rather than a place, hell indicates the state of those who freely and definitively separate themselves from God, the source of all life and joy."[45] Some have interpreted these words as a denial that Hell can be considered to be a place, or at least as providing an alternative picture of Hell.[46] Others have explicitly disagreed with the interpretation of what the Pope said as an actual denial that Hell can be considered a place and have said that the Pope was only directing attention away from what is secondary to the real essence of hell.[47]

Catholic theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar (1905–1988) said that "we must see that hell is not an object that is 'full' or 'empty' of human individuals, but a possibility that is not 'created' by God but in any case by the free individuals who choose it".[48]

The Catholic Faith Handbook for Youth, with imprimatur of 2007, also says that "more accurately" heaven and hell are not places but states.[49]

Capuchin theologian Berard A. Marthaler also says that "hell is not 'a place'".[50]


Traditionally in the past Hell has been spoken of or considered as a place.[51] Some have rejected metaphorical interpretations of the biblical descriptions of hell,[52] and have attributed to Hell a location within the earth,[53] while others who uphold the opinion that hell is a definite place, say instead that its location is unknown.[54]

In a homily given on 25 March 2007, Pope Benedict XVI stated: "Jesus came to tell us that he wants us all in heaven and that hell, of which so little is said in our time, exists and is eternal for those who close their hearts to his love."[55][56] Journalist Richard Owen's interpretation of this remark as declaring that hell is an actual place was reported in many media.[57] But in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1035), over whose production Benedict presided when he was prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, we read: "The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God".[43]:ii

Writing in the 1910 Catholic Encyclopedia, Joseph Hontheim said that "theologians generally accept the opinion that hell is really within the earth. The Catholic Church has decided nothing on this subject; hence we may say hell is a definite place; but where it is, we do not know." He cited the view of Saint Augustine of Hippo that Hell is under the earth and that of Saint Gregory the Great that hell is either on the earth or under it.[58]

The posthumous supplement to Aquinas' Summa theologiciae suppl. Q97 A4 flags discussion of the location of hell as speculation: As Augustine says (De Civ. Dei xv, 16), "I am of opinion that no one knows in what part of the world hell is situated, unless the Spirit of God has revealed this to some one."


Other Catholics neither affirm nor deny that Hell is a place, and speak of it as "a place or state". Ludwig Ott's work "The Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma" said: "Hell is a place or state of eternal punishment inhabited by those rejected by God".[59] Robert J. Fox wrote: "Hell is a place or state of eternal punishment inhabited by those rejected by God because such souls have rejected God's saving grace."[60] Evangelicals Norman L. Geisler and Ralph E. MacKenzie interpret official Roman Catholic teaching as: "Hell is a place or state of eternal punishment inhabited by those rejected by God."[61]

Nature of suffering

It is agreed that Hell is a place of suffering.[62][63][64]

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

Jesus often speaks of "Gehenna" of "the unquenchable fire" reserved for those who to the end of their lives refuse to believe and be converted, where both soul and body can be lost. Jesus solemnly proclaims that he "will send his angels, and they will gather. . . all evil doers, and throw them into the furnace of fire", and that he will pronounce the condemnation: "Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire!"

The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, "eternal fire". The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.[65]

Although the Catechism explicitly speaks of the punishments of hell in the plural, calling them "eternal fire", and speaks of eternal separation from God as the "chief" of those punishments, one commentator claims that it is non-committal on the existence of forms of punishment other than that of separation of God: after all, God, being above all a merciful and loving entity, takes no pleasure in the death of the living, and does not will or predestine anyone to go there (the Catholic stance is that God does not will suffering, and that the only entities known to be in hell beyond a doubt are Satan and his evil angels, and that the only suffering in hell is not fire or torture, but the freely-chosen, irrevocable and unescapable eternal separation from God and his freely given love, and the righteous, who are in heaven; thus the Church and the Popes have placed emphasis on the potential irreversibility of a mortally sinful life that goes un-absolved before one's death, and the dogma and reality of the place or state of hell).[66] Another interpretation is that the Catechism by no means denies other forms of suffering, but stresses that the pain of loss is central to the Catholic understanding of hell.[67]

Saint Augustine of Hippo said that the suffering of hell is compounded because God continues to love the sinner who is not able to return the love.[68] According to the Church, whatever is the nature of the sufferings, "they are not imposed by a vindictive judge"[68][69]

"Concerning the detailed specific nature of hell ... the Catholic Church has defined nothing. ... It is useless to speculate about its true nature, and more sensible to confess our ignorance in a question that evidently exceeds human understanding."[70]

In his book, Inventing Hell, Catholic writer and historian Jon M. Sweeney is critical of the ways that Christians have appropriated Dante's vision and images of hell. In its review, Publishers Weekly called the book "persuasively argued."[71] An article on the same subject by Sweeney that was published on the Huffington Post's religion page was liked by more than 19,000 people, including Anne Rice.[72]


A number of Catholic mystics and saints have claimed to have received visions of hell or other revelations concerning hell. During various Marian apparitions, such as those at Fatima or at Kibeho, the visionaries claimed that the Virgin Mary during the course of the visions showed them a view of hell where sinners were suffering.

In the Bible, in the Book of Revelation, John of Patmos writes about seeing a lake of fire where the 'beast' and all those marked with his number were placed.

Columba of Iona is alleged to have on several occasions even been able to name particular individuals who he said were going to end life in hellfire for their sins and accurately predicted the way they would die before the event had even happened.[73]

A story recorded by Cluniac monks in the Middle Ages claimed that St Benedict appeared to a monk on one occasion and told the monk that there had just been (at that point in time) a monk who had fled the monastic life to go back into the world, and the ex-monk then died and he went to hell.[74]


The parable of the Rich man and Lazarus depicting the rich man in hell asking for help to Abraham and Lazarus in heaven by James Tissot
The parable of the Rich man and Lazarus depicting the rich man in hell asking for help to Abraham and Lazarus in heaven by James Tissot

The varying Protestant views of "hell", both in relation to Hades (i.e., the abode of the dead) and Gehenna (i.e., the destination of the wicked), are largely a function of the varying Protestant views on the intermediate state between death and resurrection; and different views on the immortality of the soul or the alternative, the conditional immortality. For example, John Calvin, who believed in conscious existence after death,[75] had a very different concept of hell (Hades and Gehenna) to Martin Luther who held that death was sleep.[76]

In most Protestant traditions, hell is the place created by God for the punishment of the devil and fallen angels (cf. Matthew 25:41), and those whose names are not written in the book of life (cf. Revelation 20:15). It is the final destiny of every person who does not receive salvation, where they will be punished for their sins. People will be consigned to hell after the last judgment.[77]

Eternal torment view

One historic Protestant view of hell is expressed in the Westminster Confession (1646):

"but the wicked, who know not God, and obey not the gospel of Jesus Christ, shall be cast into eternal torments, and punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power." (Chapter XXXIII, Of the Last Judgment)

According to the Alliance Commission on Unity & Truth among Evangelicals (ACUTE) the majority of Protestants have held that hell will be a place of unending conscious torment, both physical and spiritual,[24] although some recent writers such as Anglo-Catholic C. S. Lewis[78] and J.P. Moreland[79] have cast hell in terms of "eternal separation" from God. Certain biblical texts have led some theologians[who?] to the conclusion that punishment in hell, though eternal and irrevocable, will be proportional to the deeds of each soul (e.g., Matthew 10:15, Luke 12:46-48).[80]

Another area of debate is the fate of the unevangelized (i.e.,those who have never had an opportunity to hear the Christian gospel), those who die in infancy, and the mentally disabled. According to ACUTE some Protestants[81] agree with Augustine that people in these categories will be damned to hell for original sin, while others believe that God will make an exception in these cases.[24]

View of conditional immortality and annihilationism

A minority of Protestants believe in the doctrine of conditional immortality,[82] which teaches that those sent to hell will not experience eternal conscious punishment, but instead will be extinguished or annihilated after a period of "limited conscious punishment".[19][83]

Prominent evangelical theologians who have adopted conditionalist beliefs include John Wenham, Edward Fudge, Clark Pinnock and John Stott (although the last has described himself as an "agnostic" on the issue of annihilationism).[24] Conditionalists typically reject the traditional concept of the immortality of the soul.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church, Jehovah's Witnesses and Christadelphians teach the annihilationist viewpoint.

Other groups

Christian Universalism

Though a theological minority in historical and contemporary Christianity, some holding mostly Protestant views (such as George MacDonald, Karl Barth, William Barclay, Keith DeRose and Thomas Talbott) believe that after serving their sentence in Gehenna, all souls are reconciled to God and admitted to heaven, or ways are found at the time of death of drawing all souls to repentance so that no "hellish" suffering is experienced. This view is often called Christian universalism—its conservative branch is more specifically called 'Biblical or Trinitarian universalism'—and is not to be confused with Unitarian Universalism. See universal reconciliation, apocatastasis and the Problem of Hell.

Christian Universalism teaches that an eternal Hell does not exist and is a later creation of the church with no biblical support. Reasoning by Christian Universalists includes that an eternal Hell is against the nature, character and attributes of a loving God, human nature, sin's nature of destruction rather than perpetual misery, the nature of holiness and happiness and the nature and object of punishment.[84]

Christian Science

Christian Science defines "hell" as follows: "Mortal belief; error; lust; remorse; hatred; revenge; sin; sickness; death; suffering and self-destruction; self-imposed agony; effects of sin; that which 'worketh abomination or maketh a lie. '" (Science and Health with Key to the Scripture by Mary Baker Eddy, 588: 1-4.)

Jehovah's Witnesses

Jehovah's Witnesses do not believe in an immortal soul that survives after physical death. They believe the Bible presents "hell", as translated from "Sheol" and "Hades", to be the common grave for both the good and the bad. They reject the idea of a place of literal eternal pain or torment as being inconsistent with God's love and justice. They define "Gehenna" as eternal destruction or the "second death", reserved for those with no opportunity of a resurrection such as those destroyed at Armageddon.[85] Jehovah's Witnesses believe that others who have died before Armageddon will be resurrected bodily on earth and then judged during the 1,000-year rule of Christ; the judgement will be based on their obedience to God's laws after their resurrection.[86]

The Christadelphian view is broadly similar, except that they believe the resurrected will be judged on their life before resurrection.

Latter Day Saints

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) teaches that the word "hell" is used scripturally in at least two senses.[87] The first is a place commonly called Spirit Prison which is a state of punishment for those who reject Christ and his Atonement. This is understood to be a temporary state in which the spirits of deceased persons will be taught the gospel and have an opportunity to repent and accept ordinances of salvation.[88] Mormons teach that it was for this purpose that Christ visited the Spirit World after his crucifixion (1 Peter 3:19–20, 1 Peter 4:5–6). Modern-day revelation clarifies that while there, Christ began the work of salvation for the dead by commissioning spirits of the righteous to teach the gospel to those who didn't have the opportunity to receive it while on earth.[88]

Mormons believe that righteous people will rise in a "first resurrection" and live with Christ on earth after His return.[89] After the 1000 years known as the Millennium, the individuals in spirit prison who chose not to accept the gospel and repent[90] will also be resurrected and receive an immortal physical body, which is referred to as the "second resurrection".[91] At these appointed times of resurrection, "death and hell" will deliver up the dead that are in them to be judged according to their works (Revelations 20:13), at which point all but the sons of perdition will receive a degree of glory, which Paul compared to the glory of the sun, moon, and stars (1 Corinthians 15:41). The Church explains biblical descriptions of hell being "eternal" or "endless" punishment as being descriptive of their infliction by God rather than an unending temporal period. Mormon scripture quotes God as telling church founder Joseph Smith: "I am endless, and the punishment which is given from my hand is endless punishment, for Endless is my name. Wherefore—Eternal punishment is God's punishment. Endless punishment is God's punishment."[92]Mormons also believe in a more permanent concept of hell, commonly referred to as outer darkness. It is said that very few people who have lived on the earth will be consigned to this hell, but Mormon scripture suggests that at least Cain will be present.[93] Other mortals who during their lifetime become sons of perdition, those who commit the unpardonable sin, will be consigned to outer darkness.[89] It is taught that the unpardonable sin is committed by those who "den[y] the Son after the Father has revealed him".[94] However, the vast majority of residents of outer darkness will be the "devil and his angels ... the third part of the hosts of heaven" who in the pre-existence followed Lucifer and never received a mortal body.[95] The residents of outer darkness are the only children of God that will not receive one of three kingdoms of glory at the Last Judgment.

It is unclear whether those in outer darkness will ultimately be redeemed. Of outer darkness and the sons of perdition, Mormon scripture states that "the end thereof, neither the place thereof, nor their torment, no man knows; Neither was it revealed, neither is, neither will be revealed unto man, except to them who are made partakers thereof".[96] The scripture asserts that those who are consigned to this state will be aware of its duration and limitations.


See Swedenborgianism

Unity Church

The Unity Church of Charles Fillmore considers the concept of everlasting physical Hell to be false doctrine and contradictory to that reported by John the Evangelist.[97]

Biblical terminology

In the King James Bible, the Old Testament term Sheol is translated as "Hell" 31 times,[98] and as "the grave" 31 times.[99] Sheol is also translated as "the pit" three times.[100]
Modern translations typically render Sheol as "the grave", "the pit", or "death".
The Hebrew word abaddon, meaning "destruction", is sometimes interpreted as a synonym of "Hell".[101]
In the New Testament, both early (i.e., the KJV) and modern translations often translate Gehenna as "Hell".[102] Young's Literal Translation and New World Translation are notable exceptions, simply using "Gehenna".
Hades is the Greek word traditionally used for the Hebrew word Sheol in works such as the Septuagint, the Greek translations of the Hebrew Bible. Like other first-century Jews literate in Greek, Christian writers of the New Testament employed this usage. While earlier translations most often translated Hades as "Hell", as does the King James Version, modern translations use the transliteration "Hades",[103] or render the word as allusions "to the grave",[104] "among the dead",[105] "place of the dead"[106] or similar statements. In Latin, Hades could be translated as Purgatorium (Purgatory) after about 1200 AD,[107] but no modern English translations render Hades as Purgatory.
Appearing only in 2 Peter 2:4 in the New Testament, both early and modern translations usually translate Tartarus as "Hell", though a few render it as "Tartarus".

Notes and references

  1. ^ a b c Cross, F. L., Livingstone, E. (editors), The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford University Press. 2005), article "Hell"
  2. ^ New Bible Dictionary third edition, IVP 1996. Articles on "Hell", "Sheol".
  3. ^ noted(RSV mg. "Gehenna": in Mk. 9:47)
  4. ^ "What the Bible says about Death, Afterlife, and the Future" James Tabor
  5. ^ a b c New Bible Dictionary 3rd edition, IVP Leicester 1996. "Sheol".
  6. ^ New Bible Dictionary 3rd edition, IVP Leicester 1996, "Hell".
  7. ^ Hades
  8. ^ Mt 11:23; 16:18; Lk 10:15; Ac 2:27, 2:31; Rev 1:18; 6:8; 20:13-14. Some late Greek manuscripts, which are followed by KJV and NKJV, have ᾅδης in 1 Cor. 15:55
  9. ^ The King James Version translates "ᾅδης" 9 times as "Hell" and once as "grave" (in 1 Cor. 15:55)
  10. ^ The 2010 New International Version translates "ᾅδης" seven times as "Hades", and two times as "realm of the dead"; the 1984 NIV translates it four times as "Hades", twice as "depths", twice as "grave", and once as "hell".
  11. ^ The English Standard Version translates "ᾅδης" 8 times as "Hades" and once as "Hell".
  12. ^ The Contemporary English Version translates "ᾅδης" twice as "Hell", once as "death", twice as "grave", once as "world of the dead", three times as "death's kingdom".
  13. ^ The New Living Translation renders "ᾅδης" once as "place of the dead", twice as "the dead" and six times as "the grave".
  14. ^ Gehenna
  15. ^ Mt 5:22, 5:29; 5:30;10:28; 18:9; 23:15, 23:33; Mk 9:43, 9:45, 9:47; Lk 12:5; James 3:6.
  16. ^ ταρταρόω (uncontracted form of the contracted verb ταρταρῶ used in the New Testament)
  17. ^ 2  Peter 2:4
  18. ^ New Bible Dictionary 3rd ed., IVP, Leicester 1996. Article "Hell", pages 463-464
  19. ^ a b c New Dictionary of Biblical Theology; IVP Leicester 2000, "Hell"
  20. ^ Evangelical Alliance Commission on Truth and Unity Among Evangelicals (ACUTE) (2000). The Nature of Hell. Paternoster, London. pp. 42–47.
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^ a b c d e Evangelical Alliance Commission on Unity and Truth among Evangelicals (2000). The Nature of Hell. Acute, Paternoster (London).
  25. ^ "hell." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online Academic Edition. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2013. Web. 4 Mar. 2013.
  26. ^ a b God himself is both heaven and hell, reward and punishment. All men have been created to see God unceasingly in his uncreated glory. Whether God will be for each man heaven or hell, reward or punishment, depends on man's response to God's love and on man's transformation from the state of selfish and self-centered love, to Godlike love which does not seek its own ends. EMPIRICAL THEOLOGY VERSUS SPECULATIVE THEOLOGY by John S. Romanides part 2 [1]
  27. ^ Thus it is the Church's spiritual teaching that God does not punish man by some material fire or physical torment. God simply reveals Himself in the risen Lord Jesus in such a glorious way that no man can fail to behold His glory. It is the presence of God's splendid glory and love that is the scourge of those who reject its radiant power and light.
    ... those who find themselves in hell will be chastised by the scourge of love. How cruel and bitter this torment of love will be! For those who understand that they have sinned against love, undergo no greater suffering than those produced by the most fearful tortures. The sorrow which takes hold of the heart, which has sinned against love, is more piercing than any other pain. It is not right to say that the sinners in hell are deprived of the love of God ... But love acts in two ways, as suffering of the reproved, and as joy in the blessed! (St. Isaac of Syria, Mystic Treatises) The Orthodox Church of America website [2]
  28. ^ For those who love the Lord, his Presence will be infinite joy, paradise and eternal life. For those who hate the Lord, the same Presence will be infinite torture, hell and eternal death. The reality for both the saved and the damned will be exactly the same when Christ "comes in glory, and all angels with Him, " so that "God may be all in all." (I Corinthians 15-28) Those who have God as their "all" within this life will finally have divine fulfillment and life. For those whose "all" is themselves and this world, the "all" of God will be their torture, their punishment and their death. And theirs will be "weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matthew 8:21, et al.) The Son of Man will send His angels and they will gather out of His kingdom all causes of sin and all evil doers, and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father. (Matthew 13:41-43) According to the saints, the "fire" that will consume sinners at the coming of the Kingdom of God is the same "fire" that will shine with splendor in the saints. It is the "fire" of God's love; the "fire" of God himself who is love. "For our God is a consuming fire" (Hebrews 12:29) who "dwells in unapproachable light." (I Timothy 6:16) For those who love God and who love all creation in him, the "consuming fire" of God will be radiant bliss and unspeakable delight. For those who do not love God, and who do not love at all, this same "consuming fire" will be the cause of their "weeping" and their "gnashing of teeth." Thus it is the Catholic Church's spiritual teaching that God does not punish man by some material fire or physical torment. God simply reveals himself in the risen Lord Jesus in such a glorious way that no man can fail to behold his glory. It is the presence of God's splendid glory and love that is the scourge of those who reject its radiant power and light. ... those who find themselves in hell will be chastised by the scourge of love. How cruel and bitter this torment of love will be! For those who understand that they have sinned against love, undergo no greater suffering than those produced by the most fearful tortures. The sorrow which takes hold of the heart, which has sinned against love, is more piercing than any other pain. It is not right to say that the sinners in hell are deprived of the love of God ... But love acts in two ways, as suffering of the reproved, and as joy in the blessed! (St. Isaac of Syria, Mystic Treatises) The Orthodox Church of America website [3]
  29. ^ "Paradise and Hell exist not in the form of a threat and a punishment on the part of God but in the form of an illness and a cure. Those who are cured and those who are purified experience the illuminating energy of divine grace, while the uncured and ill experience the caustic energy of God." [4] Archived 27 December 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  30. ^ Man has a malfunctioning or non-functioning noetic faculty in the heart, and it is the task especially of the clergy to apply the cure of unceasing memory of God, otherwise called unceasing prayer or illumination. "Those who have selfless love and are friends of God see God in light—Divine light, while the selfish and impure see God the judge as fire—darkness". [5] Archived 27 December 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  31. ^ "Those who have selfless love and are friends of God see God in light—divine light, while the selfish and impure see God the judge as fire—darkness". [6] Archived 27 December 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  32. ^ Proper preparation for vision of God takes place in two stages: purification, and illumination of the noetic faculty. Without this, it is impossible for man's selfish love to be transformed into selfless love. This transformation takes place during the higher level of the stage of illumination called theoria, literally meaning vision-in this case vision by means of unceasing and uninterrupted memory of God. Those who remain selfish and self-centered with a hardened heart, closed to God's love, will not see the glory of God in this life. However, they will see God's glory eventually, but as an eternal and consuming fire and outer darkness. From FRANKS, ROMANS, FEUDALISM, AND DOCTRINE/Diagnosis and Therapy Father John S. Romanides Diagnosis and Therapy [7]
  33. ^ Regarding specific conditions of after-life existence and eschatology, Orthodox thinkers are generally reticent; yet two basic shared teachings can be singled out. First, they widely hold that immediately following a human being's physical death, his or her surviving spiritual dimension experiences a foretaste of either heaven or hell. (Those theological symbols, heaven and hell, are not crudely understood as spatial destinations but rather refer to the experience of God's presence according to two different modes.) Thinking Through Faith: New Perspectives from Orthodox Christian Scholars page 195 By Aristotle Papanikolaou, Elizabeth H. Prodromou [8]
  34. ^ Sophrony, Archimandrite (2001). The Monk of Mount Athos: Staretz Silouan, 1866-1938. St Vladimir's Seminary Press. p. 32. ISBN 0-913836-15-X.
  35. ^ In the World, of the Church: A Paul Evdokimov Reader. St Vladimir's Seminary Press. 2001. p. 32. ISBN 0-88141-215-5.
  36. ^ Father Theodore Stylianopoulos[permanent dead link]
  37. ^ Quenot, Michel (1997). The Resurrection and the Icon. St. Vladimir's Seminary Press. p. 85. ISBN 0-88141-149-3.
  38. ^ Life Transfigured: A Journal of Orthodox Nuns, Vol. 24, No. 2, Summer 1991, pp. 8–9, produced by The Orthodox Monastery of the Transfiguration, Ellwood City, Pa.
  39. ^ Orthodox Christianity also rejects such teachings as the Immaculate Conception, purgatory, and other uniquely Roman Catholic doctrines. [9]
  40. ^ Epistle I to Theodore of Mopsuestia Archived 30 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  41. ^ Cormack, Robin (2007). Icons. British Museum Press. p. 20. ISBN 0-674-02619-5.
  42. ^ "Fidei depositum". Libreria Editrice Vaticana. 11 October 1992. Archived from the original on 26 September 2007. Retrieved 2011-01-14.
  43. ^ a b Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1033 Archived 9 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  44. ^ LESSON THIRTY-SEVENTH: On the Last Judgment and the Resurrection, Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven, (Question 1379)
  45. ^ Pope John Paul II, Audience Talk, 28 July 1999
  46. ^ "Hell is traditionally considered a literal place of eternal torture, but the Pope has also described hell as the condition of pain that results from alienation from God, a thing of one's own doing, not an actual place.", Burke, Chauvin, & Miranti, Religious and spiritual issues in counseling, p. 236 (2003).
  47. ^ "In the common sense of the word 'place', if you were to say 'Hell is not a place', you would be denying that Hell exists. Some thought that the Pope, in the statement quoted above, was denying that Hell is a place in this sense. He was, of course, doing nothing of the sort. Thus, to return to the Pope's words again, John Paul II must not be misinterpreted when he said 'Rather than [or more than] a place, hell indicates [a] state….' He certainly was not denying that it is a place, but instead was shifting our focus to the real essence of hell—what the term 'hell' truly indicates—the self-chosen separation from God. The 'place' or 'location' of hell is secondary, and considerations of where it is should not deflect us from our most important concerns: what it is, and how to avoid it" (
  48. ^ Jack Mulder (2010). Kierkegaard and the Catholic Tradition. Indiana University Press. p. 145. ISBN 978-0-253-22236-7.
  49. ^ Singer-Towns, Brian; Claussen, Janet; Vanbrandwijk, Clare (2008). Catholic Faith Handbook for Youth. Saint Mary's Press. p. 421. ISBN 978-0-88489-987-7.
  50. ^ Marthaler, Berard A. (2007). The Creed. Twenty-Third Publications. p. 211. ISBN 978-0-89622-537-4.
  51. ^ Flatt, Lizann (2009). Religion in the Renaissance. Crabtree. p. 8. ISBN 978-0-7787-4597-6. Hell was a place of eternal suffering for sinners
  52. ^ "No cogent reason has been advanced for accepting a metaphorical interpretation in preference to the most natural meaning of the words of Scripture" (Hontheim in Catholic Encyclopedia 1910).
  53. ^ "Theologians generally accept the opinion that hell is really within the earth" (Hontheim 1910)
  54. ^ "It is certain from Scripture and tradition that the torments of hell are inflicted in a definite place. But it is uncertain where the place is" Addis & Arnold (eds), A Catholic Dictionary Containing Some Account of the Doctrine, Discipline, Rites, Ceremonies, Councils, and Religious Orders of the Catholic Church: Part One, p. 404 (1903).
  55. ^ Text on the Holy See website
  56. ^ CiNews of 28 March 2007 Archived 20 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  57. ^ The Times, 27 March 2007, reported "Hell is a place where sinners really do burn in an everlasting fire, and not just a religious symbol designed to galvanise the faithful, the Pope has said" (The Fires of Hell Are Real and Eternal, Pope Warns). Fox News reproduced the article as published on The Times, under the heading: "Pope: Hell Is a Real Place Where Sinners Burn in Everlasting Fire" (Pope: Hell Is a Real Place Where Sinners Burn in Everlasting Fire). The Australian published Owen's article on its 28 March 2007 issue (Hell is real and eternal: Pope). The Canadian National Post of 28 March 2007, quoting The Times, reported: "Pope Benedict XVI has been reminding the faithful of some key beliefs of their faith, including the fact hell is a place where sinners burn in an everlasting fire" (Hell 'exists and is eternal, ' Pope warns Archived 11 November 2010 at the Wayback Machine). The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette of 3 April 2007, again referring to The Times, reported: "Pope Benedict XVI has reinstated hell as a real place where the heat is always on." (Playing with fire)
  58. ^ Joseph Hontheim, "Hell" in The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 7. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. Retrieved 3 September 2010
  59. ^ Ott, The Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, p. 479 (1955).
  60. ^ Fox, "The Catholic Faith", p. 262 (1983).
  61. ^ Geisler & MacKenzie, "Roman Catholics and Evangelicals: agreements and differences", p. 143 (1995).
  62. ^ "The Green Catechism" (1939–62) said: Hell is a place of torments. God made hell to punish the devils or bad angels, and all who die in mortal sin. No one can come out of Hell, for out of Hell there is no redemption" (Crawford & Rossiter, "Reasons for Living: Education and Young People's Search for Meaning" (2006). p. 192).
  63. ^ "Hell is the place and state of eternal punishment for the fallen angels and human beings who die deliberately estranged from the love of God" (work by Fr. Kenneth Baker published by Ignatius Press ).
  64. ^ "What do we mean by "hell"? Hell is the place and state of eternal punishment for the fallen angels and human beings who die deliberately estranged from the love of God. The existence of hell, as the everlasting abode of the devils and those human beings who have died in the state of mortal sin, is a defined dogma of the Catholic Church" (Baker, "Fundamentals of Catholicism" (1983), volume 3, p. 371).
  65. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1035 Archived 9 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  66. ^ "The recent Catechism is ambiguous, neither denying nor confirming the existence of physical torments" - Charles Steven Seymour, "A Theodicy of Hell', p. 82 (2000).
  67. ^ "Hell is the natural consequence of a life lived apart from God. The terrible suffering of hell consists in the realization that, over the course of a lifetime, one has come, not to love, but to hate one's true good, and thus to be radically unfit to enjoy that Good. It is this pain of loss that is central to the Catholic understanding of hell. Imagine the predicament of one who both knows that God is the great love of his life, and that he has turned irreversably away from this love. This is what hell is" (J. A. DiNoia, Gabriel O'Donnell, Romanus Cessario, Peter J. Cameron (editors), The Love That Never Ends: A Key to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, p. 45).
  68. ^ a b Marthaler, Berard L. (2007). The Creed. Twenty-Third Publications. p. 211. ISBN 978-0-89622-537-4.
  69. ^ Hayes, Zachary J. (1996). Four Views on Hell. Zondervan. p. 176. ISBN 0-310-21268-5.
  70. ^ John Anthony O'Brien, The Faith of Millions: The Credentials of the Catholic Religion, pp. 19–20
  71. ^
  72. ^
  73. ^ Adomnan of Iona, Life of St Columba. Penguin Books, 1995
  74. ^ Lucy Margaret Smith. The Early History of the Monastery of Cluny. Oxford University Press, 1920
  75. ^ Calvin Psychopannychia
  76. ^ Luther Exposition of Salomon's Booke etc.
  77. ^ Bruce Milne (1998). Know the Truth, 2nd ed. IVP. p. 335.
  78. ^ C. S. Lewis, The Great Divorce, 1946
  79. ^ Lee Strobel, The Case for Faith, 2000
  80. ^ Millard Erickson (2001). Introducing Christian Doctrine, 2nd ed. Baker Academic.
  81. ^ K. P. Yohannan, Revolution in World Missions, 1986-2004, chapter 10: "I ask my listeners to hold their wrists and find their pulse. Then I explain that every beat they feel represents the death of someone in Asia who has died and gone to eternal hell without ever hearing the Good News of Jesus Christ even once."
  82. ^ "The Nature of Hell. Conclusions and Recommendations". Evangelical Alliance. 2000.
  83. ^ The Problem of Hell
  84. ^ Guild, E.E. 'Arguments in Favour of Universalism'.
  85. ^ "What Really Is Hell?". The Watchtower: 5–7. July 15, 2002.
  86. ^ "What Is Judgment Day?". Awake!: 10–11. January 2010.
  87. ^ ""Hell", True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference (Salt Lake City, Utah: LDS Church, 2004) p. 81.
  88. ^ a b Doctrine and Covenants section 138.
  89. ^ a b "Chapter 46: The Last Judgment", Gospel Principles (Salt Lake City, Utah: LDS Church, 2011).
  90. ^
  91. ^ Doctrine and Covenants 88:100–01.
  92. ^ Doctrine and Covenants 19:10–12.
  93. ^ Moses 5:22–26.
  94. ^ LDS Church, Guide to the Scriptures: Hell; see also Doctrine and Covenants 76:43–46.
  95. ^ Doctrine and Covenants 29:36–39.
  96. ^ Doctrine and Covenants 76:45–46.
  97. ^ "The word Hell is not translated with clearness sufficient to represent the various meanings of the word in the original language. There are three words from which "Hell" is derived: Sheol, "the unseen state"; Hades, "the unseen world"; and Gehenna, "Valley of Hinnom." These are used in various relations, nearly all of them allegorical. In a sermon Archdeacon Farrar said: "There would be the proper teaching about Hell if we calmly and deliberately erased from our English Bibles the three words, 'damnation, ' 'Hell, ' and 'everlasting. ' I say—unhesitatingly I say, claiming the fullest right to speak with the authority of knowledge—that not one of those words ought to stand any longer in our English Bible, for, in our present acceptation of them, they are simply mistranslations." This corroborates the metaphysical interpretation of Scripture, and sustains the truth that Hell is a figure of speech that represents a corrective state of mind. When error has reached its limit, the retroactive law asserts itself, and judgment, being part of that law, brings the penalty upon the transgressor. This penalty is not punishment, but discipline, and if the transgressor is truly repentant and obedient, he is forgiven in Truth. —Charles Fillmore, Christian Healing, Lesson 11, item eleven."
  98. ^ Deut. 32:22, Deut. 32:36a & 39, II Sam. 22:6, Job 11:8, Job 26:6, Psalm 9:17, Psalm 16:10, Psalm 18:5, Psalm 55:15, Psalm 86:13, Ps. 116:3, Psalm 139:8, Prov. 5:5, Prov. 7:27, Prov. 9:18, Prov. 15:11, Prov. 15:24, Prov. 23:14, Prov. 27:20, Isa. 5:14, Isa. 14:9, Isa. 14:15, Isa. 28:15, Isa. 28:18, Isa. 57:9, Ezek. 31:16, Ezek. 31:17, Ezek. 32:21, Ezk. 32:27, Amos 9:2, Jonah 2:2, Hab. 2:5
  99. ^ Gen. 37:35, Gen. 42:38, Gen. 44:29, Gen. 44:31, I Sam. 2:6, I Kings 2:6, I Kings 2:9, Job 7:9, Job 14:13, Job 17:13, Job 21:13, Job 24:19, Psalm 6:5, Psalm 30:3, Psalm 31:17, Psalm 49:14, Psalm 49:14, Psalm 49:15, Psalm 88:3, Psalm 89:48, Prov. 1:12, Prov. 30:16, Ecc. 9:10, Song 8:6, Isa. 14:11, Isa. 38:10, Isa. 38:18, Ezek. 31:15, Hosea 13:14, Hosea 13:14, Psalm 141:7
  100. ^ Num. 16:30, Num. 16:33, Job 17:16
  101. ^ Roget's Thesaurus, VI. V.2, "Hell"
  102. ^ Mat. 5:29, Mat. 5:30, Matt. 10:28, Matt. 23:15, Matt. 23:33, Mark 9:43, Mark 9:45, Mark 9:47, Luke 12:5, Matt. 5:22, Matt. 18:9, Jas. 3:6
  103. ^ Acts 2:27, New American Standard Bible
  104. ^ Acts 2:27, New International Version
  105. ^ Acts 2:27, New Living Translation
  106. ^ Luke 16:23, New Living Translation
  107. ^ Catholic for a Reason, edited by Scott Hahn & Leon Suprenant, copyright 1998 by Emmaus Road Publishing, Inc., chapter by Curtis Martin, pg 294-295

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