19 Jan



The concept of a hell of torment with these remarkable complexities did not exist before the church added the inferno, purgatory, and the limbos. It simply isn’t in the New Testament, written in the decades prior to 110 CE. Detailed explanations of this development of the hell myth follow.

The Idea of Hell as a Place of Torment Develops in the Second and Third Centuries

Hell did not exist as it is thought of today in the Old Testament, Yeshua’s teaching, Paul, or the earliest days of the church. It was a pagan instrument to keep the rabble in line. But by the second century, the church leaders had adopted it and were beginning to use it to marshal believers. The descriptions of a hell with punishment and torment gradually become more embellished with detail. Until the end of the second century, the penalty was simply eternal fire. The atrocities against those who wouldn’t swear allegiance to Yeshua increased in intensity by the third century.

150 CE: Second Clement (“eternal punishment” only)

If we do the will of Christ, we shall obtain rest; but if not, if we neglect his commandments, nothing will rescue us from eternal punishment (Second Clement 5:5).

151 CE: Justin Martyr (“eternal fire” only)

No more is it possible for the evildoer, the avaricious, and the treacherous to hide from God than it is for the virtuous. Every man will receive the eternal punishment or reward which his actions deserve. Indeed, if all men recognized this, no one would choose evil even for a short time, knowing that he would incur the eternal sentence of fire. On the contrary, he would take every means to control himself and to adorn himself in virtue, so that he might obtain the good gifts of God and escape the punishments (First Apology 12). [Jesus] shall come from the heavens in glory with his angelic host, when he shall raise the bodies of all the men who ever lived. Then he will clothe the worthy in immortality; but the wicked, clothed in eternal sensibility, he will commit to the eternal fire, along with the evil demons (First Apology 52).

155 CE: The Martyrdom of Polycarp (“eternal fire” only)

Fixing their minds on the grace of Christ, [the martyrs] despised worldly tortures and purchased eternal life with but a single hour. To them, the fire of their cruel torturers was cold. They kept before their eyes their escape from the eternal and unquenchable fire (Martyrdom of Polycarp 2:3).

177 CE: Athenagoras (“fire” only)

We [Christians] are persuaded that when we are removed from this present life we shall live another life, better than the present one. . . . Then we shall abide near God and with God, changeless and free from suffering in the soul . . . or if we fall with the rest [of mankind], a worse one and in fire; for God has not made us as sheep or beasts of burden, a mere incidental work, that we should perish and be annihilated (Plea for the Christians 31).

181 CE: Theophilus of Antioch (“eternal punishments . . . wrath, indignation, tribulation, anguish . . . everlasting fire”)

Give studious attention to the prophetic writings [the Bible] and they will lead you on a clearer path to escape the eternal punishments and to obtain the eternal good things of God…. [God] will examine everything and will judge justly, granting recompense to each according to merit. To those who seek immortally by the patient exercise of good works, he will give everlasting life, joy, peace, rest, and all good things. . . , For the unbelievers and for the contemptuous and for those who do not submit to the truth but assent to iniquity, when they have been involved in adulteries, and fornications, and homosexualities, and avarice, and in lawless idolatries, there will be wrath and indignation, tribulation and anguish; and in the end, such men as these will be detained in everlasting fire (To Autolycus 1:14).

212 CE: Hippolytus (“eternal punishment . . . unquenchable and unending fire . . fiery worm which does not die and which does not waste the body but continually bursts forth from the body with unceasing pain . . . no sleep”)

Standing before [Christ’s] judgment, all of them, men, angels, and demons, crying out in one voice, shall say: “Just is your judgment!” And the righteousness of that cry will be apparent in the recompense made to each. To those who have done well, everlasting enjoyment shall be given; while to the lovers of evil shall be given eternal punishment. The unquenchable and unending fire awaits these latter, and a certain fiery worm which does not die and which does not waste the body but continually bursts forth from the body with unceasing pain. No sleep will give them rest; no night will soothe them; no death will deliver them from punishment; no appeal of interceding friends will profit them (Against the Greeks 3).

226 CE: Minucius Felix (“clever fire burns the limbs and restores them, wears them away and yet sustains them, just as fiery thunderbolts strike bodies but do not consume them”)

I am not ignorant of the fact that many, in the consciousness of what they deserve, would rather hope than actually believe that there is nothing for them after death. They would prefer to be annihilated rather than be restored for punishment. . . . Nor is there measure nor end to these torments. That clever fire burns the limbs and restores them, wears them away and yet sustains them, just as fiery thunderbolts strike bodies but do not consume them (Octavius 34:12-5:3).

252 CE: Cyprian of Carthage (“ever-burning Gehenna . . . devoured by living flames . . . tormented . . . souls along with their bodies will be preserved for suffering in unlimited agonies . . . without the fruit of repentance; weeping will be useless, and prayer ineffectual”)

An ever-burning Gehenna and the punishment of being devoured by living flames will consume the condemned; nor will there be any way in which the tormented can ever have respite or be at an end. Souls along with their bodies will be preserved for suffering in unlimited agonies. . . . The grief at punishment will then be without the fruit of repentance; weeping will be useless, and prayer ineffectual. Too late will they believe in eternal punishment, who would not believe in eternal life (To Demetrian 24).


Posted by on January 19, 2013 in WISDOM


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  1. Christadelphians

    January 25, 2013 at 5:07 pm

    With death people have paid for their sins. Perhaps they received already some punishment from people, for what they had done wrong in their lifetime? when they die, they have paid for it for God. It would be strange if there would have to be done another penalty. God is a God of Love. Once we have contributed for our faults, He will not come back on them. According to the Holy Scriptures when we die life just ends and we shall return to dust, having nothing going out of our body except the breath of life. We can not take anything with us in our death, nor can we feel or do anything. Life will be finished and we return to the situation as before we were born. Sheol is the word for “grave” and not a place of torture. (it was the place out of town were corpses were burnt so that they could not infect the living.)
    Only after Armageddon the dead shall be taken out of the graves and be judged with those still living. Then Jesus shall allow them to enter the Kingdom of God or send them back into death (2nd death).


    • Rene

      January 25, 2013 at 5:38 pm

      My dear friend I just like you do not believe in a place called hell. I also agree that it would be horrific to think that God would stoop to such an idiotic human behaviour pattern. My friend it would appear from your writing that you are a Jehovah ’s Witness. I grew up in a household and held the same belief system than you during my early childhood. I however could not comprehend how a God would select a specific religious belief (yours) as the only true belief and then condemn the rest of humankind to death if they fail to convert to your perception of God. What you are actually saying to those that you visit with your book and your offer for a Bible study is that you support a God perception that will soon according to your belief system murder close to 6.5 billion (Armageddon) people in preparation for those that converted and obtained the right to live on earth. I cannot for the life of me understand how you can came to terms with this mindset. Why don’t you spend some time studying some material outside your current source that are feeding you so you can gain more insight and wisdom on the important matters that you mentioned. I suggest you also study the myth of the fall of man so you can understand that without this vital myth you have very little to work with. Please feel free to write to me if you need any clarification on my statements. I will not debate your religious beliefs with you. I do not in a specific church so trying to convince me about the standard stuff you use in our arguments will be futile. – Rene


  2. Christadelphians

    January 26, 2013 at 7:45 pm

    We are not Jehovah Witnesses, but have a lot of believes in common, which could not be otherwise because we have the same Book of Books as our guide, the Bible. We do not belief that God made a certain belief group more superior than the other, except the Jewish people. But we do not believe people should be Christadelphian to be saved. Churches in this world are human institutions and only a means, or a help to people to come unto the ladder up to God.
    You accuse us first of being a Jehovah Witness, than you accuse us of not studying the Bible. We do wonder on which grounds you dare to take such an attitude, when you do not seem to know much about us.


    • Rene

      January 26, 2013 at 11:27 pm

      My friend you have the same God perception that the Witnesses. Your tone of your letter show me that there will be no benefit for either of us to engage in extensive debates. If you are convinced that the Bible is the word dictated by God and that the Jewish people of all the nations on this planet were selected by your God perception go an be happy. I am not trying to recruit you to join any group or church. I in fact feel no obligation towards you at all. Each person must via study and research make up his on mind on these matters. I do not claim I have the “truth” and that everyone else is plodding in the dark. All I am telling you is that you should extend your research beyond just the Bible if you want to get a deeper perspective. Be brave and for example research the myth of the fall of man (original sin) from sources outside the current ones you are using that possibly telling you what you want hear. I mentioned the Witnessed because your letter displayed similar principles. Go an be blessed!



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