Eternal suffering in hell isn't in the Bible

[[EDIT: I’ve changed my mind on this topic. See the update in the article.]]

The idea isn’t in the Bible and was never taught by the historical Jesus, as Bart Ehrman shows in his newest book Heaven and Hell: A History of the Afterlife (2020), but was introduced into Christianity in the 2nd century forwards from the surrounding Hellenistic culture. This comes as a big surprise, because the idea is so deeply entrenched into our culture as a part of Christianity, but so is original sin, a concept made up by Augustine in the 5th century. A further analysis is given here:


I did a thread to Ehrman i think where he was saying that hell and heaven didnt exist at all. If k remember correctly he became an atheist? Well scripture tell us for a hell where those who lived according to their deeds and not Gods and never wanted God will go. The “torture” here js not fire brimston pitchforks etc. Its the absense of God and of love. Thats my view at least. Thanks.

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Jesus gave us Hell. I don’t believe any of it for a moment, but one can easily read eternal torment, alienation in to His hyperbole, and annihilation and one cannot literally have both, showing that it is all figurative and nothing to do with the afterlife. Neither is it any comfort that eternal torture is for Satan and his demons. Nor does it make any sense at all in the light of eternity.

The most famous verse of the New Testament is John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” There it is. The wicked will not be tormented eternally but simply … “perish”. End. Go away. Be annihilated. In fact, the Gospels regularly contrast the fate of the wicked with “eternal life”. Well, what’s the opposite of life? Death.

Exactly. In the church I grew up in, I actually had a leader say to me after reading that verse, “Well, we’ll all have eternal life – we just have to decide where we want to spend it.” And as I’ve said before, if you have to edit Jesus’s own words to fit your theology, that might be a good time to consider whether your theology is wrong.


There actually is no eternity at all for the wicked in the afterlife - they’re just annihilated in the Final Judgement.

That doesn’t show it’s all figurative at all. There’s a difference between trying to forcibly read eternal torment into Jesus’s words and Jesus actually teaching eternal torment. In fact, none of it is figurative, and Jesus simply teaches the eventual destruction and annihilation of all the wicked in the Final Judgement.

Nor does it make any sense at all in the light of eternity.

I’m not sure why it doesn’t.

What do you mean by annihilated? I think scripture tells theu are thrown into the fire which is a symbolism of hell and the absense of love and God

What do you think happens to someone when they’re thrown into fire? Their body is destroyed and their consciousness ceases. That’s what being annihilated means - you are wholly destroyed, never to experience consciousness again. That’s why John 3:16 says that the wicked will simply “perish”, not be eternally tormented.

Its not a literal fire. Itd the fire that will burn by their guilt

Where does the Bible say that? The New Testament is pretty clear that the wicked are annihilated, they don’t just become guilty forever.

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It doesnt but that doesnt mean that its not true. Where does the bible say that Genesis is to be taken literally? Nowhere but it doesnt imply that

Ah, I see, so your method is to ignore what the Bible literally says, i.e. that the wicked are annihilated, and instead believe something that it never says, i.e. that the wicked feel guilty forever. By the same logic, I conclude that the Bible says dinosaurs are really big balloons. I mean, it never says that, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true!

Ok. You sound very rude. I never came as rude as you i think. So i would like to explain to me . Are all the bibles sayings literal? Do you believe Genesis to be ALL of it literal? Do you believe that some things are not metaphors or allegories etc and all are literal?And do you think the wicked dont feel any guilt? Even some on this life do

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Genesis is not a metaphorical text. See InspiringPhilosophy’s ongoing series on Genesis to understand them. The young earth reading is clearly, definitely wrong, and you should look at the way Hebrew scholars understand Genesis before dismissing it as a metaphor.

There are obvious allegories in the Bible - that doesn’t mean anything you want to be an allegory becomes an allegory. And in terms of the teaching of annihilation, this is clearly literal, and is expressed in other Jewish texts from the same time period (e.g. Psalms of Solomon, 4 Ezra, 2 Maccabees, etc).

Please tell me on what grounds you think Christianity teaches that sinners will just feel guilty forever.

First of all no an allegory cannot be created with everything you want to. Second God is not the messiah Jews expected. By him annahilating people this is exactly what the Jews wanted and rejected in Jesus. They wanted a messiah who would annahilate the Romans and every pagan on their world. But this aint God and he wont be. The wicked will feel the absense of the love and the union of God that they rejected .

“Eternal suffering in hell isn’t in the Bible”

Not true. It may not be in some people’s personally edited version of the Bible, but it is in the unedited version.

Matthew 25:46
And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.
And this is just one of a hundred different verses like this. And nearly half of them from Jesus Himself.

What is not in the Bible is this claim that God created hell to torture everyone who dares to disagree with the claims of some Christian church. On the contrary hell is a direct consequence of sin itself and thus this is something we do to ourselves. It is demonstrably observable that people can and do make a hell of their existence in this world before they even get to the next one. The irrational fairy tale is that God is somehow going to provide some get out of jail free card so you can escape from yourself and the seeds of hell within you. Sin has to be cut out, because wherever there is sin there is hell.

The “eternal punishment” in Matthew 25:46 is getting annihilated. This is obvious if you just read past the first half of the verse, because “eternal punishment” is contrasted with “eternal life”. The opposite of permanent life is not living permanently in torment, it’s permanent death. Paul outright says that eternal annihilation is what the eternal punishment is.

2 Thessalonians 1:9: They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might

@NickolaosPappas So God “wont” be the one to annihilate the wicked even though the NT repeatedly states that God will annihilate the wicked? And please, again, tell me why you think the guilty will feel eternally guilty.

The annahilation you are talking about is giving them the darkness and the absense of his love . Thats their consequences for rejecting him. Not pitchforking and burning until the end of time. Remember the soul is eternal

No, when I say annihilation, I mean ending their existence. That ISN’T what I’m talking about. And the soul is NOT eternal either. Matthew 10:28 outright says God will destroy the souls of the wicked. That means annihilation. You clearly have not read the article linked in the OP and are content on simply making up explanations as you go. You also endlessly dodge my question to justify why you think sinners just feel bad forever because you have no answer. It’s something you made up, or someone else made up and you just accepted.

P.S. My rudeness is simply a function of me getting frustrated by someone elses repetition without answers.

Soul is eternal. Theres eternal death and eternal life. If you denied your father and theb the father proved to you that what you did was wrong wouldnt you feel guilty?

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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