Eternal Torment · Hell

ECT & Passage 1 – Matthew 5:43-44, 48

As many of my readers may know, I have been studying the teaching of hell for a few years. I recently picked up a book called Spiritual Terrorism, written by Boyd C Purcell, and as I ventured through the pages, I came across a listing of ten reasons the author considers Eternal Conscience Torment (ECT) as impossible.

Each of the ten reasons are based on a particular passage of Scripture that I propose we consider in relation to this topic. Food for thought for those willing to consider.

Let’s begin with Matthew 5

Matthew 5:43-44, 48

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you

You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

The Unchanging Character of the Father

Although I referred to the book “Spiritual Terrorism” above, I would like to supplement this post with an additional author from two centuries ago. His name is George McDonald, an ol’ Scottish preacher who lived in the 1800’s His writings are challenging and have influenced many believers, such as Lewis Carrol and (through his writings) C.S. Lewis. He is commonly considered a universalist, though he never called himself such.

A short discussion I recently found by Mr. McDonald seems very pertinent to our topic.

“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your father which is in heaven is perfect.” “Love your enemies, and ye shall be the children of the highest.” It is the divine glory to forgive.

Yet a time will come when the Unchangeable will cease to forgive; when it will no more belong to his perfection to love his enemies; when he will look calmly, and have his children look calmly too, upon the ascending smoke of the everlasting torments of our strong brothers, our beautiful sisters! Nay, alas! the brothers are weak now; the sisters are ugly now!

His second paragraph is challenging. How can the One who “changes not” change from being a merciful and forgiving God we all have come to know, to One who seeks retribution, suffering for the sake of justice, and misery upon His “enemies”?

Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Before my readers bring up the topic of the necessity of judgement, let me admit and confess that I believe the Scriptures on the teaching of the wages of sin being death. I do not seek to remove hell from the Word of God, although my understanding of this topic is continually being challenged.

I confess that even as a believer, I continue to offer up to our Master sadness and heartache with my decisions and actions that do not reflect His character. Hell is a reality and judgement day is approaching for each of us. Personally, I cannot understand the grace and mercy He has provided me so far, but He has been faithful, so faithful to me. To my readers, if you too have experienced the mercy of God in your life, leave a comment below, describing His mercy in your life. It may be the encouragement some soul needs to hear!

Note that He commands believers to be like Him, to forgive, to bless, to love, to pray for those who are our enemies. We are to live this way in order that we may be perfect as He is.

Let me reiterate, that He only is perfect, perfect in those attributes that Jesus speaks of in the passage, attributes of blessing and forgiveness. This command is for believers to pursue, and as we have come to understand the commands of God, they are to be recognized as a reflection of His own character, of His glory and being. It is an amazing teaching the Lord gave to us in this passage, in that He based His command to followers to love and forgive on the very nature of God.

God does not ask us (require of us) that which He does not have within His own nature!

I suppose it comes down to this. Am I limiting the Father’s unchanging nature and character of forgiveness, even through the terrors of hell? Or to consider it from another perspective, is there a set time only for each soul in that His forgiveness is available?

Grudges & Vengeance

One other item to note, is that the very passage the Lord refers to in Matthew 5, (Leviticus 19:18) speaks of the believer not bearing grudges, or taking vengeance. Even in the Old Testament (as we should expect, since He changes not), the nature of the Lord was the foundation of the command for the believer’s actions and heart life toward our neighbors. No grudge is to be nurtured. No vengeance to be exercised.

Leviticus 19:17-18

You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him.
You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.

The believer is commanded to enter frank and honest reasoning with their neighbor. What a lost relationship skill in this age of “social” media, but I digress.

How do you see this challenging passage in Matthew? Is there merit to Mr. McDonald’s understanding of the unchanging forgiving nature of the Father? Do you believe the nature and character of the Father will switch from One who forgives to One who seeks vengeance and retribution upon a soul entering death? If so, is there allowance for the believer to also have opportunity to switch from a forgiving spirit to a vengeful spirit?

Let me know, for I have had some whoppers of neighbors (thankfully not currently) that in my opinion, certainly deserved my vengeance!

How do you “see” the Father?

Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion. If you know someone this blog may bless (or challenge), send them a link, so they may join us in our discussion

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Eternal Torment · Hell · Interpretation

Perishing in Eternal Torment

The lost will perish, but what does that mean?

apollumi 1

To perish. What does it mean?

The greek word Apollumi is translated as

  1. perish
  2. destroy
  3. lose
  4. lost
  5. destroyed
  6. perished
  7. perisheth
  8. die
  9. loseth
  10. mar

I find it interesting that Apollumi is the word Jesus used in John 3:16, describing the fate of those that believe not.

Previously when I have considered John 3:16, I have consistently understood it like this…

John 3 :16

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not experience unending suffering, but have everlasting life.

Is that what the Master meant to communicate?

apollumi 3

What if I understood Apollumi as synonymous with “experiencing unending suffering” in all the other instances it appears in the New Testament?

The following verses will have the greek term Apollumi replaced with “experience unending suffering”. As you may find out, some verses make no sense at all.

I will offer a few verses to make my point in some areas, but if the reader would like to refer to each verse using “Apollumi”, refer to the following document

Bottles suffering unending torment?

Matt 9 :17

Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles experience unending suffering: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.

Hair suffering unending torment?

Luke 21 :18

But there shall not an hair of your head experience unending suffering.

Food (Meat) suffering unending torment?

John 6 :27

Labour not for the meat which experiences unending suffering, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.

Gold suffering unending torment?

1 Peter 1 :7

That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that experiences unending suffering, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

Those who do not take up the sword may escape suffering unending torment?

Matt 26 :52

Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall experience unending suffering with the sword.

Drowning is equivalent to suffering unending torment?

Mark 4 :38

And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we experience unending suffering?

The place of suffering unending torment is between the altar and the temple?

Luke 11 :51

From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, which experienced unending suffering between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation.

Sheep suffer unending torment?apollumi 4

Luke 15 :6

And when he cometh home, he calleth together [his] friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was experiencing unending suffering.

Prodigals suffer unending torment but can escape by changing their mind?

Luke 15 :24

For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was experiencing unending suffering, and is found. And they began to be merry.

Luke 15 :32

It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was experiencing unending suffering, and is found.

Self preservation results in suffering unending torment!

Luke 17 :33

Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall experience unending suffering; and whosoever shall experience unending suffering in his life shall preserve it.

John 12 :25

He that loveth his life shall experience unending suffering it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.

Wisdom suffering eternal torment?

1 Corinthians 1:19

For it is written, I will experience unending suffering the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.

A Christian suffering eternal torment?Lake-of-fire

Is this really saying what I think it is saying? Either it means eternal torment, which means a Christian may loose their faith/salvation or the word does not necessarily mean unending conscious torment and suffering.

Rom 14 :15

But if thy brother be grieved with [thy] meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Don’t force unending suffering on him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.

1 Corinthians 8 :11

And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother experience unending suffering, for whom Christ died?

The world experience unending torment?

2 Peter 3 :6

Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, experienced unending suffering:

The heavens and the earth will experience unending suffering – Now that is beyond me!

Hebrews 1 :11

They shall experience unending suffering; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment;

The resurrection of Jesus Himself may be compromised if the definition of Apollumi equals suffering unending torment.

We know that He was raised from the dead so this can only be an error on the part of Caiaphas! (If only John hadn’t mentioned that this statement was a prophecy of the Messiahs sacrifice!!!)

John 18 :14

Now Caiaphas was he, which gave counsel to the Jews, that it was expedient that one man should experience unending suffering for the people.

So what is the conclusion of the matter?apollumi 5

It is not as clear cut as I had once assumed! Apollumi seems to have the meaning of destruction/perishing/lostness, but not necessarily eternal unending suffering. Of course, some verses may seem to make sense by bringing this meaning to the verse, like the following

Matt 18 :14

Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should experience unending suffering.

One could import the idea of eternal suffering into this context, but it is not the only way to read it!

Luke 13 :5

I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise experience unending suffering.

Of course if Jesus meant that the hearers would be destroyed by invading armies due to their sin, the idea of eternal suffering need not be imported.

Matt 10:28

And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to experience unending suffering both soul and body in hell.

If Jesus was referring to hades/the grave when he mentioned hell (check Strongs Concordance), the Father is able to destroy both body and soul after death. Either both body and soul endure eternal torment, or both body and soul are destroyed. It is interesting to note that the first phrase does not use destroy but kill. The body is not destroyed, but simply lifeless. (Soul and body are separated!) The destruction of both is up to the Father.

Eternal Fire 3

Some verses may be used to prop up the eternal torment teaching and may be viable interpretations. If I seem to be doubting the teaching of eternal torment, it is because I think I wanna figger out what the apostles want to teach me.

I cant learn from them if I keep correcting them.

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Doctrinal · Eternal Torment · Hell · Universalism

Universal Reconciliation & the Church Fathers

ThatallshallbesavedIn years past, I delved into the doctrine of hell and came across the teaching often referred to as Universal Reconciliation (UR).  As a tried and true Eternal Torment (ET) believer, I struggled with the initial concept of this teaching.

Emotionally, this is my baby, this is my hope against all hope, my desire and heart.  But my heart is a deceitful animal and my flesh often (always?) whispers sweet nothings in my ear.  I so want to believe this in my heart, but my head is screaming no.  My understanding of the Word, at this point, will not allow this to become a settled belief.

But if I am honest with myself, the doctrine has much more biblical support than I first assumed. (More support than ET?)  A recent post on this blog  “God – What is HE like?” gives a list of verses that UR proponents point to in order to justify this teaching.  It may be interesting to consider in light of the quotes supplied below.

I’ve read that a great many of the church fathers expressed their faith in this teaching, and the following are quotes from them.

The Church Fathers on Universal Reconciliation (UR)

The mass of men (Christians) say there is to be an end to punishment and to those who are punished.

St. Basil the Great

There are very many in our day, who though not denying the Holy Scriptures, do not believe in endless torments.

Augustine (354-430 A.D.)

For the wicked there are punishments, not perpetual, however, lest the immortality prepared for them should be a disadvantage, but they are to be purified for a brief period according to the amount of malice in their works. They shall therefore suffer punishment for a short space, but immortal blessedness having no end awaits them…the penalties to be inflicted for their many and grave sins are very far surpassed by the magnitude of the mercy to be showed to them.

Diodore of Tarsus, 320-394 A.D.

And God showed great kindness to man, in this, that He did not suffer him to continue being in sin forever; but as it were, by a kind of banishement, cast him out of paradise in order that, having punishment expiated within an appointed time, and having been disciplined, he should afterwards be recalled…just as a vessel, when one being fashioned it has some flaw, is remoulded or remade that it may become new and entire; so also it happens to man by death. For he is broken up by force, that in the resurrection he may be found whole; I mean spotless, righteous and immortal.

Theophilus of Antioch (168 A.D.)

Wherefore also he drove him out of paradise and removed him far from the tree of life, not because He envied him the tree of life, as some dare assert, but because He pitied him and desired that he should not be immortal and the evil interminable and irremediable.

Iraneaus of Lyons (182 A.D.)

These, if they will, may go Christ’s way, but if not let them go their way. In another place perhaps they shall be baptized with fire, that last baptism, which is not only painful, but enduring also; which eats up, as if it were hay, all defiled matter, and consumes all vanity and vice.

Gregory of Nazianzeu, Bishop of Constantinople. (330 to 390 A.D.) Oracles 39:19

The Word seems to me to lay down the doctrine of the perfect obliteration of wickedness, for if God shall be in all things that are, obviously wickedness shall not be in them. For it is necessary that at some time evil should be removed utterly and entirely from the realm of being.

St. Macrina the Blessed

In the end and consummation of the Universe all are to be restored into their original harmonious state, and we all shall be made one body and be united once more into a perfect man and the prayer of our Savior shall be fulfilled that all may be one.

St. Jerome, 331-420

For it is evident that God will in truth be all in all when there shall be no evil in existence, when every created being is at harmony with iteself and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord; when every creature shall have been made one body.

Gregory of Nyssa, 335-390

The wicked who have committed evil the whole period of their lives shall be punished till they learn that, by continuing in sin, they only continue in misery. And when, by this means, they shall have been brought to fear God, and to regard Him with good will, they shall obtain the enjoyment of His grace.

Theodore of Mopsuestia, 350-428

We can set no limits to the agency of the Redeemer to redeem, to rescue, to discipline in his work, and so will he continue to operate after this life.

Clement of Alexandria

Do not suppose that the soul is punished for endless eons (apeirou aionas) in Tartarus. Very properly, the soul is not punished to gratify the revenge of the divinity, but for the sake of healing. But we say that the soul is punished for an aionion period (aionios) calling its life and its allotted period of punishment, its aeon.

Olnmpiodorus (AD 550)

Wherefore, that at the same time liberty of free-will should be left to nature and yet the evil be purged away, the wisdom of God discovered this plan; to suffer man to do what he would, that having tasted the evil which he desired, and learning by experience for what wretchedness he had bartered away the blessings he had, he might of his own will hasten back with desire to the first blessedness …either being purged in this life through prayer and discipline, or after his departure hence through the furnace of cleansing fire.

Gregory of Nyssa (332-398 A.D.)

That in the world to come, those who have done evil all their life long, will be made worthy of the sweetness of the Divine bounty. For never would Christ have said, “You will never get out until you hqave paid the last penny” unless it were possible for us to get cleansed when we paid the debt.

Peter Chrysologus, 435

I know that most persons understand by the story of Nineveh and its king, the ultimate forgiveness of the devil and all rational creatures.

St. Jerome

“In the end or consummation of things, all shall be restored to their original state, and be again united in one body. We cannot be ignorant that Christ’s blood benefited the angels and those who are in hell; though we know not the manner in which it produced such effects. The apostate angels shall become such as they were created; and man, who has been cast out of paradise, shall be restored thither again. And this shall be accomplished in such a way, that all shall be united together by mutual charity, so that the members will delight in each other, and rejoice in each other’s promotion. The apostate angels, and the prince of this world, though now ungovernable, plunging themselves into the depths of sin, shall, in the end, embrace the happy dominion of Christ and His saints.”


Our Lord is the One who delivers man [all men], and who heals the inventor of evil himself.

Gregory of Nyssa (332-398 A.D.), leading theologian of the Eastern Church

While the devil thought to kill One [Christ], he is deprived of all those cast out of hades, and he [the devil] sitting by the gates, sees all fettered beings led forth by the courage of the Saviour.

Athanasius, the Great Father of Orthodoxy

Our Lord descends, and was shut up in the eternal bars, in order that He might set free all who had been shut up… The Lord descended to the place of punishment and torment, in which was the rich man, in order to liberate the prisoners.


In the liberation of all no one remains a captive! At the time of the Lord’s passion the devil alone was injured by losing all the of the captives he was keeping.

Didymus, 370 AD

While the devil imagined that he got a hold of Christ, he really lost all of those he was keeping.

St. Chrysostom, 398 AD

Stronger than all the evils in the soul is the Word, and the healing power that dwells in him, and this healing He applies, according to the will of God, to everyman. The consummation of all things is the destruction of evil…to quote Zephaniah: “My determination to gather the nations, that I am assemble the kings, to pour upon them mine indignation, even say all my fierce anger, for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy. For then will I turn to the people a pure language that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one consent”…Consider carefully the promise, that all shall call upon the Name of the Lord, and serve him with one consent.

Origen (185 to 254 A.D.) He founded a school at Caesarea, and is considered by historians to be one of the great theologians and exegete of the Eastern Church.

The nations are gathered to the Judgment, that on them may be poured out the wrath of the fury of the Lord, and this in pity and with a design to heal. in order that every one may return to the confession of the Lord, that in Jesus’ Name every knee may bow, and every tongue may confess that He is Lord. All God’s enemies shall perish, not that they cease to exist, but cease to be enemies.

Jerome (340 to 420 A.D), commenting on Zephaniah 3:8-10

Mankind, being reclaimed from their sins, are to be subjected to Christ in he fullness of the dispensation instituted for the salvation of all.

Didymus the Blind

So then, when the end has been restored to the beginning, and the termination of things compared with their commencement, that condition of things will be re-established in which rational nature was placed, when it had no need to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; so that when all feeling of wickedness has been removed, and the individual has been purified and cleansed, He who alone is the one good God becomes to him “all,” and that not in the case of a few individuals, or of a considerable number, but He Himself is “all in all.” And when death shall no longer anywhere exist, nor the sting of death, nor any evil at all, then verily God will be “all in all”

Origen, De Prinicipiis, 3.6.3. (Origen founded a school at Caesarea, and is considered by historians to be one of the great theologians and exegete of the Eastern Church.)

The Son “breaking in pieces” His enemies is for the sake of remolding them, as a potter his own work; as Jeremiah 18;6 says: i.e., to restore them once again to their former state.

Eusebius of Caesarea (65 to 340 A.D). Bishop of Caesarea

Our Savior has appointed two kinds of resurrection in the Apocalypse. ‘Blessed is he that hath part in the first resurrection,’ for such come to grace without the judgment. As for those who do not come to the first, but are reserved unto the second resurrection, these shall be disciplined until their appointed times, between the first and the second resurrection.

Ambrose, Bishop of Milan (340-397 A.D.)

We think, indeed, that the goodness of God, through His Christ, may recall all His creatures to one end, even His enemies being conquered and subdued…. for Christ must reign until He has put all enemies under His feet.

Origen (185 to 254 A.D.) He founded a school at Caesarea, and is considered by historians to be one of the great theologians and exegete of the Eastern Church.

For it is needful that evil should some day be wholly and absolutely removed out of the circle of being.

Gregory of Nyssa (332-398 A.D.), leading theologian of the Eastern Church

In the present life God is in all, for His nature is without limits, but he is not allin all. But in the coming life, when mortality is at an end and immortality granted, and sin has no longer any place, God will be all in all. For the Lord, who loves man, punishes medicinally, that He may check the course of impeity.

Theodoret the Blessed, 387-458

When death shall no longer exist, or the sting of death, nor any evil at all, then truly God will be all in all.


All men are Christ’s, some by knowing Him, the rest not yet. He is the Savior, not of some and the rest not. For how is He Savior and Lord, if not the Savior and Lord of all?

Clement of Alexandria

What think ye?  This is a list of fallible men’s thoughts and I by no means imply the list carries the weight of Scripture.

I suppose the quotes above bear the same weight as, I suppose, an elder or deacon you may know in your church, whom has lived for Christ and is worthy of listening to and comparing with Scripture.

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