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Quotes About Hell
Quotes about Hell from throughout Christian History.
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Come Rack Come Rope by Benson
Ignatius of Antioch, A.D. 110
Do not err, my brothers. Those that corrupt families shall not inherit the kingdom of God. If, then, those who do this in regard to the flesh have suffered death, how much more shall this be the case with any one who corrupts by wicked doctrine the faith of God, for which Jesus Christ was crucified! Such a one becomes defiled and shall go away into everlasting fire. So shall every one that listens to him. (Letter to the Ephesians 16)
For this end did the Lord suffer the ointment to be poured upon his head, that He might breathe immortality into his Church. Do not be anointed with the bad odor of the doctrine of the prince of this world; let him not lead you away captive from the life which is set before you. And why are we not all prudent, since we have received the knowledge of God, which is Jesus Christ? Why do we foolishly perish, not recognizing the gift which the Lord has of a truth sent to us? (Letter to the Ephesians 17)
Let us not, therefore, be insensible to His kindness. For were He to reward us according to our works, we should cease to be. Therefore, having become His disciples, let us learn to live according to the principles of Christianity. (Letter to the Magnesians 10)
Letter to Barnabas, A.D. 80-120
It is well, therefore, that he who has learned the judgments of the Lord, as many as have been written, should walk in them. For the one who keeps these shall be glorified in the kingdom of God; but he who chooses other things shall be destroyed with his works. On this account there will be a resurrection, on this account a retribution. I beseech you who are superiors, if you will receive any counsel of my good-will, have among yourselves those to whom you may show kindness; do not forsake them. For the day is at hand on which all things shall perish with the evil [one]. The Lord is near, and his reward. Again, and yet again, I beseech you: be good lawgivers to one another; continue faithful counselors of one another; take away from among you all hypocrisy. And may God, who rules over all the world, give to you wisdom, intelligence, understanding, knowledge of His judgments, with patience. And be taught of God, inquiring diligently what the Lord asks from you; and do it that ye maybe safe in the day of judgment. (ch. 21)
Letter to Diognetus, A.D. 80 - 200
Then you shall despise that which is considered to be death here, when thou shalt fear what is truly death: the one reserved for those who shall be condemned to the eternal fire, which shall afflict to the end those that are committed to it. (ch. 10)
I was a little surprised to find out recently (2014) that an idea called "conditionalism" or "conditional immortality" had gained such widespread acceptance. Conditionalism is the belief that immortality is conditional. The soul is not inherently immortal, but immortality is rewarded to the righteous only (cf. Rom. 2:6-7; 1 Cor. 15:53-54; 1 Tim. 16). The ramification of this is the doctrine that the unrighteous are destroyed in the lake of fire and perish rather than living forever in eternal torment. It's an idea I've held for a few years, but until this year I didn't know anyone else held to it except me and David Servant of Heaven's Family Ministries. Apparently, we're quite Orthodox now.
Books covering this are: Rethinking Hell: Readings in Evangelical Conditionalism by Christopher Date and Gregory Stump (Cascade Books, 2014) and The Fire that Consumes by Edward Fudge (Open Road Distribution, 2016). Fudge's book has led to an interesting movie called "Hell and Mr. Fudge."
Polycarp, AD 120-165
Justin Martyr, c. A.D. 155
Among us the prince of the wicked spirits is called the serpent, Satan, and the devil, as you can learn by looking into our writings. That he would be sent into the fire with his army and the men who follow him, and would be punished for an endless duration, Christ foretold. The reason God has delayed doing this is his regard for the human race. For he foreknows that some are to be saved by repentance, some even that are perhaps not yet born.
In the beginning he made the human race with the power of thought and of choosing the truth and doing right. As a result, all men are without excuse before God, for they have been born rational and contemplative. (First Apology 28)
He shall come from heaven with glory, accompanied by His angelic host, when also He shall raise the bodies of all men who have lived, and shall clothe those of the worthy with immortality, and shall send those of the wicked, endued with eternal sensibility, into everlasting fire with the wicked devils. (First Apology 52)
These philosophers know nothing, then, about these things; for they cannot tell what a soul is. ... Nor ought it to be called immortal; for if it is immortal, it is plainly unbegotten. ... for what reason has one for supposing that a body so solid, possessing resistance, composite, changeable, decaying, and renewed every day, has not arisen from some cause? But if the world is begotten, souls also are necessarily begotten; and perhaps at one time they were not in existence, ...
But in truth I do not say that all souls die because that would truly be a a piece of good fortune for the evil! What then? The souls of the godly remain in a better place, while those of the unjust and wicked are in a worse, waiting for the time of judgment. Thus some who have appeared worthy of God never die, but others are punished so long as God will them to exist and be punished. (Dialogue with Trypho 5)
Wherefore God delays causing the confusion and destruction of the whole world, by which the wicked angels and demons and men shall cease to exist, because of the seed of the Christians, who know that they are the cause of preservation in nature. (Second Apology 7)
We pray for you [Jews] and all other men who hate us, so that you may repent along with us and not blaspheme the One who by his works, by the mighty deeds done through his name, by the words he taught, by the prophecies announced concerning him, is the blameless and irreproachable-in-all-things Christ Jesus. We pray that, believing on him, you may be saved in his second glorious coming and may not be condemned to fire by him. (Dialogue with Trypho 35)
At the second coming of Christ himself ... some are sent to be punished unceasingly into judgment and condemnation of fire, but others shall exist in freedom from suffering, from corruption, and from grief and in immortality. (Dialogue with Trypho 45)
Theophilus, A.D. 168
I do not disbelieve, but I believe, obedient to God, whom, if you please, you submit to as well, believing him, so that you do not wind up continuing in unbelief, then become convinced later, when you are tormented with eternal punishments. These punishments, when they were foretold by the prophets, were stolen by later-born poets and philosophers from the holy Scriptures to make their doctrines worthy of credit. Yet these also have spoken in advance of the punishments which are to light upon the profane and unbelieving so that no one will be left without a witness or be able to say, "We have not heard, nor have we known."
But you, if you please, give reverent attention to the prophetic Scriptures, and they will make your way plainer for escaping the eternal punishments and obtaining the eternal prizes of God.
For the One who gave the mouth for speech, formed the ear to hear, and made the eye to see will examine all things and will judge righteous judgment, rendering merited awards to each. "To those who by patiently continuing to do good seek immortality, he will give life everlasting, joy, peace, rest, and abundance of good things ... But to the unbelieving and despisers, who do not obey the truth but are obedient to unrighteousness ... there shall be anger and wrath, tribulation and anguish, and at the last everlasting fire shall possess such men.
Since you said, "Show me your God," this is my God, and I counsel you to fear him and to trust him. (To Autolycus I:14)
Hermas, c. A.D. 170
The sinners shall be consumed because they sinned and did not repent, and the heathen shall be burned because they do not know him who created them. (Shepherd of Hermas. Similitude 4th.)
Irenaeus, A.D. 183-186
And again, he thus speaks respecting the salvation of man: “He asked life of you, and you gave him length of days for ever and ever"; indicating that it is the Father of all who imparts continuance for ever and ever on those who are saved. For life does not arise from us, nor from our own nature; but it is bestowed according to the grace of God. And therefore he who shall preserve the life bestowed upon him, and give thanks to him who imparted it, shall receive also length of days for ever and ever. But he who shall reject it, and prove himself ungrateful to his Maker, inasmuch as he has been created, and has not recognized him who bestowed, deprives himself of continuance for ever and ever. And, for this reason, the Lord declared to those who showed themselves ungrateful towards him: “If you have not been faithful in that which is little, who will give you that which is great?” indicating that those who, in this brief temporal life, have shown themselves ungrateful to him who bestowed it, shall justly not receive from him length of days for ever and ever. (Against Heresies, Bk. II, ch. 34, par. 3)
Tertullian, A.D. 197-220
"Love your enemies, says he, "pray for them that curse you," lest such a man in any transaction of business be irritated by any unjust conduct of yours, and "deliver you to the judge" of his own (nation), and you be thrown into prison, and be detained in its close and narrow cell until you have liquidated all your debt against him. Then, again, should you be disposed to apply the term "adversary" to the devil, your are advised by the ... injunction, "while you are in the way with him," to make even with him such a compact as may be deemed compatible with the requirements of your true faith. Now the compact you have made respecting him is to renounce him, and his pomp, and his angels. Such is your agreement in this matter. ... Your must never think of getting back any of the things which you have abjured, and have restored to him, lest he should summon you as a fraudulent man, and a transgressor of your agreement, before God the Judge ... and lest this Judge deliver you over to the angel who is to execute the sentence and ... commit you to the prison of hell, out of which there will be no dismissal until the smallest even of you delinquencies be paid off in the period before the resurrection. (On the Soul, ch. 35, Bruce Holmes translation, from Tertullian.org)
Arnobius, A.D. 297-310
Do you dare to laugh at us when we speak of hell, and fires which cannot be quenched, into which we have learned that souls are cast by their foes and enemies? What, does not your Plato also, in the book which he wrote on the immortality of the soul, name the rivers Acheron, Styx, Cocytus, and Pyriphlegethon, and assert that in them souls are rolled along, engulfed, and burned up? But though a man of no little wisdom, and of accurate judgment and discernment, he essays a problem which cannot be solved; so that, while he says that the soul is immortal, everlasting, and without bodily substance, he yet says that they are punished, and makes them suffer pain. But what man does not see that that which is immortal, which is simple, cannot be subject to any pain; that that, on the contrary, cannot be immortal which does suffer pain? And yet his opinion is not very far from the truth. For although the gentle and kindly disposed man thought it inhuman cruelty to condemn souls to death, he yet not unreasonably supposed that they are cast into rivers blazing with masses of flame, and loathsome from their foul abysses. For they are cast in, and being annihilated, pass away vainly in everlasting destruction. For theirs is an intermediate state, as has been learned from Christ’s teaching; and they are such that they may on the one hand perish if they have not known God, and on the other be delivered from death if they have given heed to his threats and proffered favors. And to make manifest what is unknown, this is man’s real death, this which leaves nothing behind. For that which is seen by the eyes is only a separation of soul from body, not the last end: annihilation. This, I say, is man’s real death, when souls which know not God shall be consumed in long-protracted torment with raging fire, into which certain fiercely cruel beings shall cast them, who were unknown before Christ, and brought to light only by his wisdom. (Against the Heathen, Bk. II, ch. 14)
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