- Is it your view that the devil, the beast, and the false prophet will be tormented, but only for an indefinitely long time?"My view is that the surrounding context of Rev. 20:10 determines the "torment" that lasts "to the ages of ages" to represent indefinitely long periods of time, and that this "torment" will likely end when there is "a new heaven and new earth," when "pain" and "outcry" are "no more" and when "all things are made new." I agree with Beale that "at the least, the phrase [to the ages of the ages] figuratively connotes a very long time, and that the context here and in the whole of the Apocalypse must determine whether this is a limited time or an undending period."Patrick
"Is it your view that the devil, the beast, and the false prophet
will be tormented, but only for an indefinitely long time?"
<< My view is that the surrounding context of Rev. 20:10 determines
the "torment" that lasts "to the ages of ages" to represent
indefinitely long periods of time, and that this "torment" will
likely end when there is "a new heaven and new earth," when "pain"
and "outcry" are "no more" and when "all things are made new." I
agree with Beale that "at the least, the phrase [to the ages of the
ages] figuratively connotes a very long time, and that the context
here and in the whole of the Apocalypse must determine whether this
is a limited time or an undending period."
So, you think that the devil, the beast, and the false prophet will
be "tormented" for "a very long time," and then their "torment" will
end? Could you please elucidate for me just what you think
this "torment" means?
In Christ's service,
- Rob,I think the "torment" in Rev 20:10 is a reference to the inflicting of pain, suffering, or distress. I am also open to the possibility that it is figurative in some sense, but what kind of "figurative sense" that would be I don't know.Patrick
I'm really trying to understand your position. So, if I understand you
correctly, your problem with the traditional understanding of Hell is
not with the idea that the wicked will suffer, since you agree that
they will suffer for an indeterminate but long period of time, but
with the idea that their suffering will last literally forever?
In Christ's service,
--- In email@example.com, Patrick Navas
I think the "torment" in Rev 20:10 is a reference to the inflicting of
pain, suffering, or distress. I am also open to the possibility that
it is figurative in some sense, but what kind of "figurative sense"
that would be I don't know.
- Rob,You wrote:
...if I understand you correctly, your problem with the traditional understanding of Hell is not with the idea that the wicked will suffer, since you agree that they will suffer for an indeterminate but long period of time, but with the idea that their suffering will last literally forever?Yes.I do not object (on scriptural or logical grounds) to the notion of God tormenting wicked persons if he determines to do so. I am just not convinced (on scriptural or logical grounds) that sinful (unrepentant) humans are immortal, so that God's judgment against them involves the infliction of a never-ending, conscious state of torment.
<< I do not object (on scriptural or logical grounds) to the notion of
God tormenting wicked persons if he determines to do so. I am just not
convinced (on scriptural or logical grounds) that sinful (unrepentant)
humans are immortal, so that God's judgment against them involves the
infliction of a never-ending, conscious state of torment. >>
Thanks for this clarification. Your view differs significantly from
that of most opponents of the traditional doctrine of eternal
punishment, who typically hold that the wicked will simply be snuffed
out of existence as their punishment.
I believe the case for the punishment of the wicked being eternal and
not just for a long time is strong, but the differences between our
views do not seem as great as I thought.
In Christ's service,
- Rob,In my own personal estimation, the scriptural difficulty with the traditional doctrine of hell is (1) it is supported by, really, only 3 or 4 texts, Rev 20:10 being the strongest in appearance (2) yet even Rev 20:10 does not apply directly to the unsaved in general, only to the three figures mentioned, and (3) the overall language of the Bible, from beginning to end, seems to clearly suggest that the wicked will be destroyed, snuffed out of existence, consumed, killed, perish, etc. (for example, Jesus said that God is able to destroy both body and soul in gehenna [hell]: Matt. 10:28)But, as far as I know, others who share my disagreement with the traditional doctrine of hell agree about what I said. Edward Fudge, perhaps the most well-known advocate of the "conditionalist" view of hell says in the intro to his book (on the back cover of The Fire that Consumes) "This internationally acclaimed book investigates the whole teaching of Scripture on the topic of final punishment, and concludes that hell will involve the irreversible destruction of body and soul, leaving room for whatever degree of conscious torment God justly decrees in any individual case."Sincerely,Patrick Navas
- Rob,I forgot to mention, if you are interested, Steve Scianni, an associate of mine in the debate, has written the best essay on the non-traditional doctrine of hell I have ever seen. I highly recommend it. I don't expect it to change your mind, but it should give you a little more insight into the reasonableness and scriptural basis for the viewpoint.Best wishes,Patrickjust click on the image below...
One of the strongest arguments for "eternal" torment in Hell is found in Revelation 14:9-11:
Then another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, "If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and 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, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name."
- One of the strongest arguments for "eternal" torment in Hell is found in Revelation 14:9-11:It was observed by Steve Scianni in his paper Everlasting Torment: An ExaminationThis first passage is found in a vision of three angels delivering messages, where the final angel pronounces warning to the inhabitants of the earth that should they worship the beast and his image and receives his mark, they will drink of the wine of Gods wrath. And that they will be tormented in view of the Lamb, and that the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever. This passage, though getting closer to the language of the Traditionalist still does not prove the common dogma of hells endless torments for a variety of reasons. We list them as:(1) The passage has nothing to do with the final judgment, which is depicted later. There is no resurrection, no white throne, hell is not mentioned, there is no reference to the lake of fire, and the punishment is executed on Earth at a point in time. In fact, the wrath of God against those who had the mark of the beast is portrayed in 16:1-21 with the seven bowls of wrath, which, incidentally, are said to end Gods anger (see 15:1,8). The bowls are thus poured out on mankind (resembling the plagues of Egypt), none of them describe postmortem torments, and they culminate in death as shown in two symbols, (a) crushed liked grapes into a bloody river (14:14-20), and (b) carcasses left as food for gluttonous birds (19:17-21). It is a picture of earthly judgment and punishment, not the torments of hell.(2) Essentially, it is a symbolic vision not to be taken as an authentic situation the details are given to paint a picture of divine retribution on those who poured out the blood of the saints and prophets (16:6). More to the point, the symbols cannot be taken literally unless we are prepared to have people literally drinking cups of wrath, a lamb watching torment, unending smoke from bodies that are being consumed but never totally, a man sitting on a cloud, sickles reaping grapes, a two-hundred mile river of blood from these grapes, angels pouring wrath from golden bowls, mountains vanishing and islands running away. No, these pictures communicate that drastic punishment will come from God upon those who support the evils of the world system and against those who persecuted Christians nothing more can be inferred and the details are not realistic depictions of actual events.(3) As symbols what then are they representing? The key language under examination has its precedence in the Old Testament and helps clarify what is meant. In particular, the fire and brimstone comes from Genesis 19:24 as the instruments by which Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed as Jude and Peter as well as Ezekiel (see 38:18-23) reference. Though the Apocalypse says that these will be an instrument of torment that is only to add a detail to what they will do and not to disclose all that they do (see Revelation 18:8-10). Fire and Brimstone, as types, bring destruction and desolation, and would be so understood as the result of God tormenting, or punishing with it. This, strangely enough, can be shown from the following phrase, the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, which originates in Genesis 19:28 and is borrowed from Isaiah 34:9,10.(4) Without grasp of these roots and with a medieval preconception, we tend to read the verse to say, the smoke from their constantly burning bodies keeps on ascending and will continue to rise without end because they will always be burning. Leaving aside the numerous problems when read that strict, that understanding is simply not consistent with biblical language. The verse is best understood to teach that the temporary occurrence of torment with fire and brimstone produced a destruction that will last forever. That is the language of forever ascending smoke a symbolic reminder of a permanent and complete desolation.As noted, this imagery is taken from Isaiah 34:9-11 where Edom is promised the vengeance of God, its land becomes burning pitch, not quenched night or day and its smoke will go up forever. Now clearly, the fire has long gone out, and the smoke is not ascending anymore. The language then is a metaphorical way of impressing on the mind the absolute and irrecoverable desolation of a land that none will pass through forever and ever, condemned to emptiness, occupied only by wild animals.Continuing, a similar image is constructed of Babylon in Revelation 19:3 saying, Her smoke rises up forever and ever. Here we have nearly the identical language of 14:11 to describe the ruin and extinction of the city. That fall is detailed back in chapter 18 - that is, she was given torment to the degree she lived sensuously (v.7), her plagues will come in one day (v.8), she will be burned up with fire (v.8), there will be lament over the smoke of her burning (v.9), further described as her torment (v.10), in one hour her judgment has come (v.10), her luxuries and splendid things will have passed away never to be found (v.14), she is laid waste in an hour (v.19) and she will have been thrown down with violence like a stone sinks into the sea and will not be found any longer (v.21). Babylon is thus unmistakably pictured as being completely eradicated, burned up with fire, never to be found, and that the language of smoke rising forever and ever indicates not endless burning, but final destruction. No other interpretation is even permissible.Further, note the connection between the smoke of her burning as her torment (v.10) which is conceptually equivalent to the smoke of their torment in 14:11 . So as Babylon endures torment yet is ultimately destroyed, never to be found again, that language further implies that the worshipers of the beast share the same end - not an endless burning, but complete destruction from an act of divine torment.(5) Should the phrase they have no rest day or night be insisted on signifying the consciousness of their torments while the previous phrase to which it is connected signifies the endless duration of the torment, we would only remark, that is mostly correct, with the exception that the latter clause is not likely to signify an infinite burning as has been shown. That is to say while they are alive and being judged (Chapter 16) they will find no intermission to their torments, but as these plagues end in death and have no reference to the afterlife we are compelled to understand the duration of torment to be finite, while the result of it (the smoke) is dramatically expressed in infinite terms to communicate its finality and permanence.Moreover, the phrase seems to be contrasted with the saints who persevere and get to rest from their labors (v.13). This lets them know that though they lack rest now and life is easy for their persecutors, the tables will soon turn. In sum, the message to the Christians appears to be this: Those that oppose you will soon be punished with no rest from their torments and whose end is a cursed, second death, but should your rest come in a blessed death, your reward will soon follow in eternal life (v.13, cf. 20:4-6; 21:4-7).Furthermore, even if the angel is expressing an eternity of conscious suffering the fact remains that it is a hyperbolic, audible warning heard in a vision and this is precisely why no text in the apocalypse will ever prove an actual eternity of torment. For without any further clarity of the emblems correlation to reality, the images do not explain themselves by themselves the actual details are left undisclosed hidden under symbolic language. But putting all the pictures of the apocalypse together, as has been attempted, along with all the data from outside of the book, the probability that the meaning of the angelic message is an actual endless tormenting, and not death and destruction is effectively zero.In conclusion then, to understand Revelation 14:11 as depicting hells eternal torments, one has to ignore the context and setting of the judgment, ignore the details of the judgments in Chapter 16, and ignore the fact the judgments end in death. Further, one must ignore the genre of the passage and interpret allegory literally, maintain physical absurdities, and disregard similar language in the OT with matching language in the same book that clearly demonstrates the picture is one of destruction. It would not be unwarranted then to state that the superior interpretation, amidst all the color of the apocalypse, is still not in favor of the Traditionalist, but found in terms of a tormenting punishment ending in destruction.