New Version of Edward Fudge’s The Fire That Consumes Released

Edward Fudge’s highly influential work on hell, The Fire that Consumes, has been substantially rewritten and is now available through Wipf and Stock. It hasn’t made it to Amazon or Barnes and Noble yet, but soon will.

Fudge explains some of the changes he made —

This revised edition replaces many older quotations and citations with more recent ones, and it benefits from the use of materials that were not available for the first edition. For example, discussion of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the original edition of The Fire That Consumes was limited to fewer than a dozen Dead Sea Scrolls then accessible to researchers not fluent in Hebrew. For this new edition, I was able to read more than 800 scrolls and fragments in English, thanks to a recent two-volume study edition of the Dead Sea Scrolls produced by Florentino Garcia-Martinez of Belgium and his former student Eibert J. C. Tigchelaar. Later I discussed the scrolls with Dr. Garcia-Martinez in person, when he came to Houston to help oversee the arrangement of his personal library as a special collection within the Lanier Theological Library.

Other important updating includes my interacting throughout the book with seventeen authors of twelve traditionalist books published after the first edition of The Fire That Consumes. Revision was thorough and included rearrangement of material into thirty-six chapters instead of the original twenty. Several chapters are completely new; most others were rewritten or restructured. Although nothing published during the past thirty years required the reversal of any major conclusion expressed in my earlier editions, the present edition aims for a refinement of argument and an elegance of expression reflective of my own maturation from age 37 to age 66.

Now, for those new to the serious study of hell, Fudge is an elder in a Church of Christ, a lawyer, an author, and writer of GracEmails. The original edition of this work stands as the definitive work on the “conditionalist” or “annihilationist” view of hell, which is rapidly gaining acceptance among scholars. I think he’s exactly right. I covered many of his arguments in the Surprised by Hell series and again in the Age of Accountability series.

Here are the most common theories on hell:

1. Traditional/Arminian: Those who never accept the gospel and have attained the age of accountability are damned to eternal, conscious torment, even if they only committed one sin or died the day after attaining the age of accountability.

2. Calvinist/Double Predestination: The elect go to heaven; those not elect are damned to eternal conscious torment.

3. Universalist: All are ultimately saved and go to heaven. Some believe some souls may experience hell before finally accepting Jesus and being saved.

4. N. T. Wright: Wright and others argue that hell is separation from God by choice, which is a dreadful, agonizing experience. Wright cites Gollum of Lord of the Rings fame as an metaphor for what happens to those who reject God’s love and choose to leave his presence.

5. Available Light: Many argue that people will be judged only by available light, so that good people who’ve never heard the gospel will be saved.

6. Conditionalist/Annihilationist: Immortality is a gift from God given only to the saved. Those who’ve never accepted Jesus to enter the Kingdom do not receive immortality. However, they will stand before God, be judged, and be punished in proportion to their sinfulness (and some will not be very sinful at all and so will suffer little or no punishment). The wicked will suffer a just, fitting, painful punishment. And then the mortal will die the second death and be destroyed. The devil and his angels will suffer eternal, conscious torment, but humans will either be destroyed by the fire of God’s wrath or live with God forever in the new heavens and new earth.

Fudge argues this position comprehensively and, to me, effectively. This position moots the navel gazing and questioning so popular today because it eliminates the obvious injustice of punishing children forever for only a few naive sins. It describes a truly just and fit application of God’s wrath. And it’s what the scriptures teach.

I can’t wait to get my copy of the book.

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About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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62 Responses to New Version of Edward Fudge’s The Fire That Consumes Released

  1. guy says:


    i guess i never heard or noticed that conditionalists believe that wicked celestial beings will experience everlasting torment. Is that a standard tenet of the position? It struck me because the typical universalist argument i hear is about the phrases in Scripture where God will eventually be "all in all," and the continued existence of hell or torment would falsify what that phrase means (i obviously don't argue it as well as they do). Anyway, it seems like a universalist would reject the notion of the everlasting torment of wicked celestial beings on the basis of that argument. How would you respond to the "all in all" objections?


  2. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Guy, This is the first of two comments in response to your question.The verse that most plainly teaches everlasting conscious torment is —(Rev 20:10 NAS)  10 And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.But it refers to demonic beings, not humans. On the other hand, humans will be thrown into the same fire —(Rev 20:15 NAS)  15 And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.But the text doesn’t say the humans will suffer perpetual torment.

  3. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Guy asked about God becoming “all in all” in terms of claims by universalists. The passage is —(1Co 15:24-28 ESV)  24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.  25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.  26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death.  27 For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him.  28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.“All in all” means that all will be subject to God. But part of the process is the destruction of certain things, including death. Thus, the concept isn’t that all that is will be subject to God. Rather, the concept is that all that survives will be subject to God.That doesn’t suggest a universalist result. Indeed, the text implies that only the Kingdom will survive.(1Co 15:23 ESV)  23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.What about those who don’t belong to Christ? (1Co 6:9-10 ESV) 9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,  10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.I’m pretty sure that Paul is no universalist.

  4. aBasnar says:

    But the text doesn’t say the humans will suffer perpetual torment.

    What about this one, Jay?

    Rev 14:9 And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, "If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand,
    Rev 14:10 he also will drink the wine of God's wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.
    Rev 14:11 And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name."

    I think this texts speaks of humans suffering in a conscious state for eternity. This is no what I like to read here, but I can't read it differently. I don't believe however, that being ignorant of God or the Gospel alone deserves such punishment, but rather it is a decision humans make, because this "mark of the beast" does not simply grow on a persons right hand or forehead, they have to take and accept it by free choice. It's a question of whom we worship.

    Therefore I am convinced that people who are too young to discern good from evil or mentally disabled, are not in the position to make such a decision – therefore there won't be this judgment for them. Yet, to my knowledge the Scriptures are rather silent about the fate of these people, so we cannot say anything about this.

    But I am pretty sure of the understanding that those who worship the beast will suffer enternal and conscious punishment.

    We might further ask whether this applies only to those people present at the time when the beast will be revealed (which I believe lies in the future – 2Th 2:8-9), or whether it applies to all who fall prey to the "mystery of lawlessness" which is working even today (2Th 2:7). I believe the latter is the case; but if this is true, then there should be a sort of equivalent to the "mark of the beast" in our time and also in the generations past; as there have always been forerunners of the Beast in history (Antiochus Epiphanes, Nero, some Popes, Hitler, communist regimes, …) who demanded undiveded loyalty and persecuted those faithful Christians would would not worship them. We cannot serve both God and Mammon, but also cannot serve both the Kingdom of God and any earthly Kingdom (at least, I suppose we'd agree that a Christian could not serve as a minister in the government of one of the really really bad regimes … yet who says, that the Western Countries are viewed as "acceptable" by our King?).

    And this means – looking at the fate of those who divide their loyalty between God and the world – that we might have to rethink the list of our sermon topics in order to include some serious exhortations for the saints (as does the book of Revelation):

    Rev 14:12 Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.
    Rev 14:13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying, "Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on." "Blessed indeed," says the Spirit, "that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!"


  5. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Alexander asked about Rev 14:11. Does that verse indicate perpetual torment of the damned?

    No, but you have to read the passage in light of the prophets to see that. John is quoting Isaiah —

    (Isa 34:8-10 ESV)  8 For the LORD has a day of vengeance, a year of recompense for the cause of Zion.  9 And the streams of Edom shall be turned into pitch, and her soil into sulfur; her land shall become burning pitch.  10 Night and day it shall not be quenched; its smoke shall go up forever. From generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass through it forever and ever.

    The passage is about God’s vengeance on the nation of Edom. And Edom was indeed destroyed. In the New International Commentary, Oswalt writes,

    In v. 10, the primary emphasis is upon the perpetuity of the destruction. …[I]t may be noted that the fires on the altar of sacrifice in the temple were to be kept burning continually.

    Now, Edom was conquered by the Jews under the Maccabees. But they did not cause them to suffer eternal torment. Rather, the destruction they suffered was perpetual. They were never again an independent nation. Indeed, they disappear from history after the Jewish revolts against Rome (http:// ( point of Rev 14:11, therefore, is that the destruction of those who rebel against God will be utter and unchanging. Unlike the first death, which is undone by God, the second death will last forever and never by undone. They will die and remain dead forever.
    “Torment” means torment. The damned suffer and suffer to a degree and for a time God deems just. But the passage does not teach perpetual torment, only that the effect (smoke) of the torment is forever.
    This is admittedly not obvious from the passage to Western eyes, but it’s entirely consistent with how prophetic literature is written.
    Consider —

    (Dan 12:2-3 ESV)  2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.  3 And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.

    The saved have everlasting life; the damned have everlasting contempt. They don’t live forever, but their shame does.
    Speaking of the new heavens and new earth, Isaiah writes,

    (Isa 66:24 ESV)  24 "And they shall go out and look on the dead bodies of the men who have rebelled against me. For their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh."

    The second sentence sure sounds like perpetual torment until you read the first sentence, which plainly declares the damned “dead bodies” (literally, “corpses”). The shame and memory of the rebellion will last forever and they will be dead forever, whereas the saved will live forever.
    This is the way the prophets wrote, and when the NT writers emulate their words, they are not changing God’s revelation. They are saying the same thing.


  6. Alabama John says:

    I believe number 5.

    Romans 2:14
    For when the Gentiles,which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law,these,having not the law, are a law unto themselves:

    We all agree that anyone that has not reached the age of accountability is saved.

    That means those that cannot obtain that age of knowledge, not a numerical number of years as it would vary with the individual.
    There are those that cannot obtain that age of knowledge due to youth, mental capability, or access to that exact knowledge written in the Bible due to where they lived not having any Bibles or ever having heard of the Jews, Israel, or Christians.
    To believe God put His spirit in every man who lived on this earth since beginning of time with most of them by far never knowing His written laws was doomed to hell without an opportunity at all sure paints a bad picture of our God doesn't it. That means most people born on this earth were doomed to hell before they were born and we and those of the Bible lucky enough to have and believe it were especially blessed to be born of the right blood either in the Old Testament or the New.
    This slanted picture is what many believe without thinking and I don't understand how anyone could love such a God.
    I prefer the God that will judge based on what opportunity you had and your mental capabilities and faithfulness to obeying what you understood obedience to be to God..

  7. laymond says:

    Alexander said "Therefore I am convinced that people who are too young to discern good from evil or mentally disabled, are not in the position to make such a decision – therefore there won't be this judgment for them. Yet, to my knowledge the Scriptures are rather silent about the fate of these people, so we cannot say anything about this."

    Seems to me that was the very first thing Jesus addressed, in the sermon , which laid out his "doctrine" .

    Mat 5:2 And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,
    Mat 5:3 Blessed [are] the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

  8. guy says:


    Wait–so then the wicked celestial beings suffering eternal torment–they are a part of the kingdom that survives?

    And about 1Cor 6–Universalists like Richard Beck are not saying that that thieves/idolaters/swindlers will eventually inherit the Kingdom. They are saying that eventually, every single thief, idolater, and swindler will repent. In which case penitent believers would be inheriting the kingdom. Surely then this is not a proof text against universalism.


  9. guy says:


    Something i just thought of:

    You said:
    "But the text doesn’t say the humans will suffer perpetual torment."

    Okay, suppose a traditionalist or at least a non-conditionalist conceded: 'You're right. It doesn't say they will suffer perpetual torment. But that's not the same as the text saying they won't.'

    'So if you can conclude based on the fact that the text doesn't say X, therefore X isn't true, why can't others claim that if the text doesn't X, then X isn't true?' [Fill in "X" here with a whole host of CoC claims about issues or practices the scripture is silent about.]


  10. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Celestial beings are part of the Kingdom. In 1 Cor 15, Paul is explaining the resurrection and its meaning. Only humans die and are resurrected. Only humans are in mind when he speaks of who does and doesn’t enter the Kingdom.The universalist argument would be specious. Paul is warning people about not entering the Kingdom. Why warn people if those who don’t heed his warning wind up in heaven anyway? And there are many, many scriptures that plainly state that there will be people damned, who will die the second death. Jesus would be among the most clear and direct on the subject.

  11. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Guy, Most people analyze this question by beginning with the traditionalist view and then defending it if they can find any verse at all that might support that view. This is a seriously flawed approach.Much better would be start in the OT, see what the Prophets teach, and then see what new revelations are given by Jesus and the apostles.The traditional view is that the Old Testament does not mention Hell at all. Certainly, perpetual torment is not found in the OT. But the destruction of God’s enemies by fire is persistently taught.(Deu 4:23-24 ESV)  23 Take care, lest you forget the covenant of the LORD your God, which he made with you, and make a carved image, the form of anything that the LORD your God has forbidden you.  24 For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.(Psa 21:8-9 ESV)  8 Your hand will find out all your enemies; your right hand will find out those who hate you.  9 You will make them as a blazing oven when you appear. The LORD will swallow them up in his wrath, and fire will consume them.(Jer 4:4 ESV)  4 “Circumcise yourselves to the LORD; remove the foreskin of your hearts, O men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem; lest my wrath go forth like fire, and burn with none to quench it, because of the evil of your deeds.”(Jer 7:20 ESV) 20 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: behold, my anger and my wrath will be poured out on this place, upon man and beast, upon the trees of the field and the fruit of the ground; it will burn and not be quenched.”(Eze 22:19-22 ESV)  19 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: Because you have all become dross, therefore, behold, I will gather you into the midst of Jerusalem.  20 As one gathers silver and bronze and iron and lead and tin into a furnace, to blow the fire on it in order to melt it, so I will gather you in my anger and in my wrath, and I will put you in and melt you.  21 I will gather you and blow on you with the fire of my wrath, and you shall be melted in the midst of it.  22 As silver is melted in a furnace, so you shall be melted in the midst of it, and you shall know that I am the LORD; I have poured out my wrath upon you.”(Zep 1:17-18 ESV) 17 I will bring distress on mankind, so that they shall walk like the blind, because they have sinned against the LORD; their blood shall be poured out like dust, and their flesh like dung.  18 Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them on the day of the wrath of the LORD. In the fire of his jealousy, all the earth shall be consumed; for a full and sudden end he will make of all the inhabitants of the earth.Jesus then repeatedly speaks of the damned being thrown into Gehenna — a garbage dumps that burns continuously with an unquenchable fire but in which dead bodies are burned up.  He describes this as “destruction” and “death.”(Mat 5:29-30 ESV)  29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.  30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.Notice the parallel of “throw away” and “hell” = Gehenna.(Mat 10:28 ESV) 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.Seems clear enough that hell is about destruction and death, not an everlasting life of torture.Now, at this point, many want to make “death,” “second death,” and “destruction” into metaphors for eternal, conscious torment. But that is a Greek concept, not a Jewish one. The Greeks, not the Jews, taught that the soul is unconditionally immortal. Rather, the NT teaches that humans are mortal by nature and that immortality is a gift.(1Ti 6:15-16 ESV) 15 which he will display at the proper time–he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords,  16 who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.Only God is inherently immortal. Humans are mortal —(Job 4:17 ESV) 17 'Can mortal man be in the right before God? Can a man be pure before his Maker?(Rom 1:23 ESV) 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.(Rom 6:12 ESV)  12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.(Rom 8:11 ESV)  11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.Notice that God must “give life to your mortal bodies” to live eternally. We are not innately immortal.(1Co 15:53-54 ESV)  53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.  54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”At the resurrection, God gives immortality to the saved.(2Co 5:4 ESV) 4 For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened–not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.For us to have eternal life, our mortal selves must be “further clothed” with life.This is entirely consistent with the OT conception of humanity but inconsistent with the Platonic view that all humans are born immortal and so all humans will live in Hades after death forever.And, obviously, those who aren’t saved remain mortal and thus can die a second death —(Rev 2:11 ESV)  11 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.'(Rev 21:8 ESV)  8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”And there are many, many more verses that speak of the damned being “destroyed” or suffering “death” in contrast to the “life” enjoyed by Christians.That seems to me to weight the preponderance of the evidence in favor of the conditionalist view. Thus, it’s not nearly enough to find an ambiguity that might mean everyone will be saved or that the damned will suffer forever. The overwhelming weight of scripture is that the damned are destroyed —(Rom 9:22 ESV) 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction,(1Co 3:17 ESV) 17 If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and you are that temple.(The damned will be destroyed in the same sense that a temple could be destroyed.)(Phi 1:28 ESV)  28 and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God.(Phi 3:19 ESV) 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.Etc.“Destroy” is surely a strange metaphor for “cause to last forever while being tortured.”

  12. guy says:

    Wait, did you mean "not" in your first sentence? Having trouble with your first and fourth sentences.

    Well, i still think universalists could get around 1Cor 6 fairly easily. He is writing to people who were swindlers/drunkards/etc. But the difference he says is that the Corinthians were washed and sanctified. So now they can inherit the kingdom. But there are people out there who are unrepentant swindlers and drunkards. That's who he's talking about not inheriting the kingdom right? But if those same people were washed and sanctified, then they could enter just like the Corinthians, right? i take it some universalists believe this can still happen post-death and post-judgment-day.

    But oh well–i agree with your last bit especially. i'm still not even close to becoming a universalist.


  13. guy says:


    i don't think a lot hangs on it. But i think someone could make a parallel case about the NT's overwhelming use of sing or vocal music or something like that and then say, "see you shouldn't start with the assumption that IM is okay then try to defend it, you should just start with what's there." And "'sing' sure is a weird metaphor for bands and orchestras, etc."

    i'm not at all trying to bring up IM or discuss that. That's not my point at all. My point is that there seems to be an argument that is very similar to yours in structure, yet you reject that one but advance this one. But what's the significant difference in form between the two?

    It's only a point about consistency, not truth. That's all.

    About truth, at the end of the day i'm still not sold for at least three reasons (which i'm aware you don't accept, but i've read nothing yet that compelled me to be dissuaded of them.)

    (1) Some passages just plain sound like they're talking about everlasting-ness. i just can't seem to read them any other way. Is that because of inculcations i have before reading the passage? Perhaps. But it's a fact.

    (2) There is plenty of hope for people in hell if conditionalism is true. No matter how bad their punishment is, it will all be over eventually.

    (3) Conditionalism espouses a fate which some here on earth have prayed for as a gift. They've gone through hell and just asked God to put them out of their misery. Innocent people in concentration camps probably longed to just enter into a dreamless sleep. Conditionalism seems to grant the wicked the very gift that some 'good' people have begged for.


  14. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Guy wrote,

    (2) There is plenty of hope for people in hell if conditionalism is true. No matter how bad their punishment is, it will all be over eventually.

    “Hope” in the NT is hope of eternal life with God in the new heavens and new earth, also called our “inheritance.” So, no, there is no hope for the damned.But will their punishment end? Yes. Finite sin results in finite punishment.Consider a child who dies a month after reaching the age of accountability, aware of the gospel but not yet saved. The traditional theory has the child tortured in perpetuity. Rationalize that as you will, but it’s a problem because it doesn’t even meet God’s own definition of justice.Then again, for a truly evil person, we’d all agree justice requires some sort of punishment. We’d not be likely to agree as to what is just, but surely we can agree that God knows and his decision will in fact be just.I don’t know if justice for a serial killer is a day in hell or a billion years. I just know that God will treat the serial killer in a way that satisfies the demands of justice. And he will treat the child who dies too young with justice as well.

    (3) Conditionalism espouses a fate which some here on earth have prayed for as a gift. They've gone through hell and just asked God to put them out of their misery. Innocent people in concentration camps probably longed to just enter into a dreamless sleep. Conditionalism seems to grant the wicked the very gift that some 'good' people have begged for.

    That’s like arguing I’d do you a favor to hit you repeatedly with a hammer because it would feel so much better when I finally stop! Yes, stopping would be a blessing, but that hardly offsets the suffering you endure in the meantime. If you disagree, I have a  5 lb sledge hammer  handy, and we can compare theories. J

  15. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:


    This is from a law review article considering the Torah's sense of justice ( —

    Thus, “an eye for an eye,” as understood through the lens of the Oral Law, was never understood to call for actual maiming of an offender. Rather, it required monetary compensation for the value of the victim’s lost eye. Likewise, although the Torah is replete with offenses that carry the death penalty, Jewish law contained so many evidentiary and procedural safeguards for criminal defendants that it rarely authorized a court to carry out an execution. In Jewish law, restitution, rehabilitation, and atonement (something akin to spiritual rehabilitation in Jewish philosophy)—and not retribution—were the primary purposes of criminal punishment.

    We imagine the Torah to be extremely harsh and so see perpetual hell as consistent with God's nature as revealed in Torah. But that's a misreading both of God and Torah.

    (Just trying to explain my previous reference to the nature of God's justice.)

  16. Randall says:

    Interesting post and comments. I am surprised no one has referred to John R. W. Stott. I believe he also supports the notion of a period of conscious torment followed by annihilation. Not to take anything away from Edward Fudge, but Stott is a much better know theologian, though he is not CofC so perhaps not of importance to this blog. In fact I think (not sure) that he something of a Calvinist. Also of interest in that FF Bruce (i think) wrote the forward to the first edition of Fudge's book though he does not agree with Fudge's conclusion. I think he does point out that in light of the importance of the issue, relatively little research has been done and written about the subject matter. it is also of interest (to me) that many believe ALL creation will be redeemed though Hebrews suggests no effort was ever made to redeem the fallen angels.

  17. guy says:

    Jay wrote:
    ““Hope” in the NT is hope of eternal life with God in the new heavens and new earth,”

    Fine, but that’s not what i meant by hope in my objection. If conditionalism is true, the wicked always have hope. ‘Just stick it out, it’ll all be over soon.’ ‘No matter how bad it gets, it won’t stay this way.’ i have used these words to comfort myself when someone was doing me wrong and i hadn’t wronged them. If conditionalism is true, the wicked get this same comfort.

    Jay wrote:
    “Yes, stopping would be a blessing, but that hardly offsets the suffering you endure in the meantime.”

    Disanalogous. When you stop beating me with a hammer, i’m still alive, conscious, and feel and have to deal with all the consequences of the beating. An annihilationist believes that eventually the wicked will be given something the experience of which is akin to dreamless sleep (without the eventual reawakening). i’m speculating that many innocent victims of oppression and injustice in the world have yearned for such a state. “Let me just close my eyes and have it seem like it all went away.” Thus, according to annihilationism, the wicked will eventually be granted by God what many innocent victims have longed for.

    i completely concede that i’m not arguing interpretation or Scriptural authority or any such thing. Just intuitions about justice. Maybe i’m wrong. But according to my deepest gut feelings about justice as they now stand, conditionalism just isn’t justice.


    (By the way, i’m still getting switched over to the mobile version of the page about every 3rd time i come here.)

  18. aBasnar says:

    You are right about Edom that is was not "tormented" for enternity, but the word "torment" does not even occur in this text about Edom. The phrase with the smoke does, and it is – as you point out correctly – a sign of perpetual destruction.

    I'd link Edom with the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrha. These cities have been destroyed by fire and brimstone (literally, and the remains thereof that can still be seen are terryfing); but what about the people of Sodom? They will be called as witnesses against the unbeliving Jews from Galilee. They still await their final judgment in Hades, consciously and knowing what to expect.

    Back to Rev 14:11 – there we have some interesting words which I'll highlight,

    Rev 14:10 he also will drink the wine of God's wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.
    Rev 14:11 And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name."

    Here the smoke of the torment is linked to the tormentig itself, so it smokes because they are tormented, and – as I understand it – as long as they will be tormented. They will have no rest, which is not to be understood as this eschatalogical rest the church is striving to enter, but linked to "both day and night", so this means: There tormentors (the flames) don't make a break so they could have some rest and recover.

    That's why the bodies are not consumed and desroyed by fire (Is 66), but the worms have plenty to eat for all eternity. This is a very gross image, which does not say anything whether this is a conscious state or not. But our Lord Jesus referred to it frequently:

    Mar 9:47 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell,
    Mar 9:48 'where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.'

    Now important:

    Mat 25:41 Then the king will say to those on his left, "Get away from me! You are under God's curse. Go into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels!

    We agreed above, that Satan and his angels will be consciously tormented forever – now humans are thrown into the very same place that has been prepared for Satan; which means they will share his fate!

    Mat 25:46 Then Jesus said, "Those people will be punished forever.

    Eternal κο?λασις, torment or punishment – not destruction. A death sentence is a once-for-all punishment. You normally don't say, the criminal will be beheaded forever and ever. But if you say the criminal will be tormented for three hours or until he dies, it is clear what is meant. And if the time span for the torment is a year or 100 years, it is also clear, isn't it. Now, why should an eternal timespan suddenly turn into a single moment like a death sentence?

    To illustrate what this will be like, Jesus told another parable, which ended with these shocking words:

    Mat 18:34 (KJV) And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.
    Mat 18:35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

    The ESV is too soft when it translated "tormentors" as "jailors", but either way: Considering the enormous debt of 10.000 talents and the near to zero income of his family this is an eternal punishment/torment. Now, the Greek word is βασανιστη?ς and does mean torturer.

    I would so love to be able to agree with you, Jay, but not at the cost of the words and grammar of God's Word. This theology is simply another innovation and departure, I am very unhappy about.


  19. guy says:


    Do you the church fathers ever discuss hell?


  20. aBasnar says:

    Yes, they did – quite extensively … but at the end they merely quote and affirm the scriptures.

    Barnabas, Ch XX: But the way of darkness is crooked, and full of cursing; for it is the way of eternal death with punishment.

    1st Apology Ch XXVIII: For among us the prince of the wicked spirits is called the serpent, and Satan, and the devil, as you can learn by looking into our writings. And that he would be sent into the fire with his host, and the men who follow him, and would be punished for an endless duration, Christ foretold.

    Yet they did not believe in annihilation. I think this is a fairly recent theory …


  21. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Thanks, Randall. Fudge is by no means unique in his position. If you read scholarly works by others outside the CoC tradition, you’ll find Fudge cited in the footnotes. His work is not the first of that genre, but he’s done the most thorough job of arguing the case.I’ll be interested to see if Francis Chan’s new book agrees with him.

  22. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Alexander,I wasn’t really wanting to re-cover these arguments, since we covered much the same ground less than a year ago (and since my copy of Fudge’s new book hasn’t yet arrived).Let me just reference a couple of your verses. You quote Mat 25:46 as saying, “Then Jesus said, ‘Those people will be punished forever.’” I can’t find a translation that matches that. The ones I have all say “eternal punishment.” So does the Greek.“Eternal” in the Greek refers to the next age, a point covered extensively at… and… They will suffer punishment in the next age and its effects will indeed last forever. Isa 66 is clear that the suffering of the damned will end with their deaths.(Isa 66:24 ESV)  24 “And they shall go out and look on the dead bodies of the men who have rebelled against me. For their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.”“Dead bodies” translates the Hebrew peger, meaning corpse. The KJV translates “carcasses.”  

  23. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    The Epistle of Barnabas is better translated by Lightfoot:(Barnabas 20:1) But the way of the Black One is crooked and full of a curse. For it is a way of eternal death with punishment wherein are the things that destroy men's souls–idolatry, boldness, exhalation of power, hypocrisy, doubleness of heart, adultery, murder, plundering, pride, transgression, treachery, malice, stubbornness, witchcraft, magic, covetousness, absence of the fear of God;The Greek is “eternal” (aioniou) not “everlasting.” “Eternal death” means death in the next age, not “never dying and suffering everlasting torture.”The punishment for sin, according to Genesis 2, is “death” not torture.Justin Martyr, a second century writer and among the finest minds of early Christianity, agrees with the gist of annihilationism in Dialogue with Trypho V.“‘But I do not say, indeed, that all souls die; for that were truly a piece of good fortune to the evil. What then? The souls of the pious remain in a better place, while those of the unjust and wicked are in a worse, waiting for the time of judgment. Thus some which have appeared worthy of God never die; but others are punished so long as God wills them to exist and to be punished.’”This is inconsistent with the translation of the passage quoted by Alexander. Unfortunately, I don't have access to the Greek for Justin Martyr, and so I really don't know whether he changed his mind or one of the translations is in error.I tried to see if Edward Fudge addresses the question on his web site, but it appears to have been hacked. First Cecil Hook and now Edward Fudge …

  24. guy says:


    Can i ask a question only mildly related? i haven't dug into this at all myself and just wondering if you have.

    i was looking through the apostles' creed and nicene creed the other day (i occasionally use an orthodox prayer book), and i'm curious about the bit that says Christ went to hell while he was dead. Now i know this bit of the creed is fought over because there are actually version that differ on that very part. But i honestly haven't seen anything that unmistakably says that in scripture and i don't really see what hangs on it either way. Have you read anything about this?


  25. aBasnar says:

    Let me just reference a couple of your verses. You quote Mat 25:46 as saying, “Then Jesus said, ‘Those people will be punished forever.’”

    I can’t find a translation that matches that.

    I copy-paste scripture quotes – this one was from the CEV (actually I normally use the ESV – I use e-sword and somehow came into a different transaltion. Anyway: The text is clear in the ESV as well: "They go into eternal punishment." which is the same as "They will be punished forever."

    The Strong's definition of αι?ω?νιος is as follows

    perpetual (also used of past time, or past and future as well): – eternal, for ever, everlasting, world (began).

    Just as a side remark: Strong gives "age" as the first meaning for aion, but for aionos (which derives from this) the first maning is perpetual and the others. So it is not correct to point out the meaning of aion in oder to alter the meaning of aionos.

    And since our Lord is describing the Judgment day and the point in time when these evildoers are cast into the fire, it makes no sense to understand aionos as " coming age", because then it would read: "These will go into a punishment in an age to come." this does not fit the scenario at all.

    OK, Is 66:24. Yes they are dead bodies, carcasses. What about the rest of the humans? We don't consist of bodies alone, Jay. And when we die, we don't cease to exist, simply because our bodies rot in the ground. Our state between death and resurrection is a conscious state, even though our bodies are dead.

    The point is, the bodies are dead but won't be consumed by the fire in eternity. Jesus adds to this scenario:

    Mat 13:41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers,
    Mat 13:42 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

    So they are aware of what is happening, they are conscious oftheir eternal fate in eternity. This goes hand in hand.

    To conclude that because Isaiah only mentions the dead bodies that there is no consciousness is to say that Isaiah conains all that has been revealed to us about this issue. But our Lord adds the weeping and the gnashing of teeth.

    I mean, think about this:

    The Lord resurrects the dead and rotten bodies of all lawless persons, yes the very same bodies with which they have done evil things. He brings together the bones, the ashes, the dust and restores them to life, reuniting them with their spirits that are presently in Hades.

    He resurrects them only to tell them, that He is going to burn and annihilate them.

    But then He does not allow the flames to consume the bodies, so they can be a reminder to the saved ones only for eternity?

    This does not make very much sense, but even more so, I'll propose a much greater dilemma for this theory in the next post below …


  26. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    In the Greek, the Apostles Creed says Jesus descended to katwtata, literally, the lower places. The word is not found in the NT but refers to the realm of the dead. <a href="<br />In Latin, the word is inferna. In the Vulgate, “infernus” translates hades, Sheol, and tartarus. I’m no Latin scholar, but I take inferna to be the plural of infernus, and thus mean something like “the depths” or the “lower places” — the same as the Greek.It does not mean hell. The NT nowhere teaches that Jesus went to hell. It does teach that he went to Hades, which the NT uses as a synonym for Sheol, that is, the grave or the realm of the dead.(Act 2:27 KJV) Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.The KJV botches the translation. The Greek is hades, and so later translations say “Hades” or “the grave.”

  27. guy says:


    So Christ went to the place like what is described in Luke 16? Or does it just mean the physical grave?


  28. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:


    “Hades,” to both Jews and Greeks, meant the place where the dead go. In the Septuagint, it’s used to translate Sheol, which means either the grave or, metaphorically, the realm of the dead.

    To the Greeks, Hades contained Tartarus, where the damned suffered conscious torment forever, and the Elysian Fields, a paradise. However, unlike the Jewish concept, the dead existed as shades or whisps, barely existing at all. The Greeks imagined disembodied souls. The Jews (other than the Saduccees) taught a resurrection in a transformed body.

    It’s interesting that Jesus refers to the rich man as being in Hades rather than hell (gehenna). You’d think he’d have said “Tartarus,” the part of Hades where the dead suffer forever, but the Book of Enoch declares that the fallen angels suffer forever in Tartarus, whereas damned humans are destroyed in gehenna.

    Therefore, Jesus used “Hades” in the Jewish sense: Sheol — the realm of the dead.

    If the rich man was in Sheol, where was Lazarus? Well, obviously, he’d been rescued from the grave/Sheol to live in heaven forever and ever. The rich man remained among the dead in Sheol, in torment, awaiting the second death.

  29. guy says:

    Wait, i'm sorry, i'm just having trouble understanding. So you're saying that "Sheol" refers exclusively to where the *wicked* dead reside? Or where all dead reside? So in Luke 16, only half the of place described is Sheol? But the bit with Lazarus and Abraham is NOT Sheol? Have i got that right?

    And if so, the creed is claiming that Jesus went to the part that the rich man was in?


  30. aBasnar says:

    There are two different difficulties with the idea that the second death means simply annihilation that you suffer for a limited time and then are done with it.

    The first one makes God not an Iota stronger or more to fear than men, it reduces God’s judgement to what man can do us at worst. Listen to His words in Luke:

    Luk 12:4 "I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do.
    Luk 12:5 But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!

    If death, an unconscious, dreamless non-existence is all we have to fear, then those will get what they hoped for, who say, as Paul quotes them:

    1Co 15:32 What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die."

    It is as if there is no resurrection, if we are just raised in order to be destroyed again. And that’s what materialists aim for anyway – those who don’t love God, have no interest in spending eternity with Him. They want to make the most of this earthly life and simply be done with it. Guy pointed that out in a post a few days ago as a kind of “hope”.

    So this theory makes God less to fear, there is no more threat in this than in the threat of an US-court’s death sentence.

    But there is a second difficulty that lies in the word “destroy”:

    I’m sure you immediately thought of the parallel passage in Matthew with reads like this:

    Mat 10:28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

    Jesus uses two different words here: To kill and to destroy; He does not say that God kills the body and the soul, but that He destroys them. To kill (by definition) is to end one’s life. All a human can do is to end our earthly life. When this happens our soul lives on and goes to Hades, awaiting the resurrection of the body, either for glory or for judgement. This is best described in Luke:

    Luk 16:22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried,
    Luk 16:23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side.

    So the soul lives on, even when our bodies die. And our bodies will be resurrected, all of what’s left of them and be it only dust and ashes, be it in the grave or in the sea. As in the vision of Ezekiel 37 the rest will be newly created.

    But to be destroyed means something entirely different that to die. When Edom was destroyed, it was not annihilated or dead. It was in ruins, but it was inhabited. It did not cease to exist, but it never came to power gain.

    When God destroyes our bodies, they don’t cease to exist. They stay in the flames, described as dead carcasses, but they remain visible and “inhabited”. And there will be constant ongoing weeping and gnashing of teeth, that’s what Christ added to the vision of Isaiah thus making it more complete.

    Now the worm that does not die is at first a reference to the worms that live and feat on dead bodies. But “worm” has a second meaning, and I actually believe that Christ has this second meaning in mind when He quoted Isaiah: The worm is a metaphor for a lost human being (as in Psalm 22:6). Read closely what Isaiah says:

    Isa 66:24 "And they shall go out and look on the dead bodies of the men who have rebelled against me. For their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh."

    Worm is in the singular and tied in a sort of “personal relationship” to the body by “their”. This tells me that by this (most likely) the personality of the rebel himself is meant. His body is dead and destroyed, he will never be able to raise his hand against the almighty and those who are created in His image, it will remain in the flames and he is constantly aware of this weeping and gnashing his teeth.

    Just to sum up a few desriptions:

    Outer darkness – does not have anything to do with destruction in itself, but with separation – also, there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth
    Permanent torment – as in the parable of the slave who did not forgive his fellow-servant. He was tortured until he paid back, which mans forever and ever
    The same fate as Satan and his angels who will be tormented for ever and ever
    They will have no rest both day and night forever and ever
    Their worm shall not die

    That’s far worse than death and annihilation. And therefore we are to fear God more than men.


  31. aBasnar says:

    "Abraham's Bosom" is not heaven, Jay; because we won't enter heaven before our resurrection, because we won't be (finally) judged before our resurrection – and all saved ones will be raised together at Christ's coming before the begin of the millenium. The lost ones after the millenium.

    About this "intermediate state" there was no disagreement in the Early church at all. they all recognized it as being divided into two different spheres, as described in Luke 16. They took this as a reliable description of the time between death and resurrection, therfore very literally.

    Christ even went there to proclaim the Gospel (1Pe 3:19), which is one of the texts the Aposte's Creed is based on.

  32. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Guy,Again, “Hades” is Sheol is the realm of the dead. In every single case in the OT and NT, that’s the meaning. The only arguable exceptions are the stories of Lazarus and the rich man and Jesus’ condemnation of Capernaum.The best exegesis is surely to take Jesus’ use of “Hades” as consistent with its use in the Septuagint and the rest of the NT.Now, if you perceive damnation as perpetual conscious torment, then this passage is difficult —(Luk 10:13-15 ESV)  13 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.  14 But it will be more bearable in the judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you.  15 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades.”Surely, Jesus means “hell” or “gehenna,” right? Why use “Hades” to refer to the location of the damned if “Hades” means “the realm of the dead”?In Greek mythology, both the good and evil dead were in Hades. And the scriptures often speak of the righteous in Hades.(Gen 37:34-35 ESV)  34 Then Jacob tore his garments and put sackcloth on his loins and mourned for his son many days.  35 All his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted and said, “No, I shall go down to Sheol [Hades in LXX] to my son, mourning.” Thus his father wept for him.(Psa 6:4-5 ESV)  4 Turn, O LORD, deliver my life; save me for the sake of your steadfast love.  5 For in death there is no remembrance of you; in Sheol who will give you praise?How do we reconcile these passages? Did Jesus redefine “Hades” contrary to the Septuagint and the NT authors? I doubt it.Rather, I think he’s saying, implicitly, that the unrighteous dead remain where the dead belong, Sheol/Hades, but the righteous dead don’t remain dead. They are resurrected, become alive again, and so live in Sheol but briefly and are quickly rescued by God to eternal life. They are resurrected and so don’t remain in the grave.Therefore, those who remain in Sheol are the damned. They are truly dead, whereas the righteous are truly alive and will not remain in Sheol.(Rev 1:17-18 ESV)  17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last,  18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.(Rev 20:14 ESV)  14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.God will eventually defeat both death and Hades by destroying both in the Lake of Fire — the wrath of God. This means there will be no place for unrighteous damned. They will, after a time, no long dwell in Sheol/Hades because they will no longer exist.

  33. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Alexander,Please don’t mischaracterize what I’m saying. I DID NOT SAY “death, an unconscious, dreamless non-existence is all we have to fear.”  That is not what I teach.I’ve repeatedly said that God will painfully punish the damned for their sins and that his punishment will be just. I trust God to be truly just. I take Jesus to be entirely serious when he refers to the realm of the damned as a “place of torment” —(Luk 16:27-28 ESV) 27 And he said, 'Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house — 28 for I have five brothers–so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.'But Jesus is equally serious when he says,(Luk 12:47-48 NIV)  47 “That servant who knows his master's will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows.  48 But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”“Many” and “few” would be meaningless in a realm of infinite blows. Therefore, punishment of humans is not perpetual.

  34. laymond says:

    Alexander, isn't it strange men pick and choose the version of the bible they prefer to believe. The one that sides with them.
    Luk 12:4 "I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do.
    Luk 12:5 But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!

    It seems Luke was repeating Jesus but not completely.

    KJV Mat 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 destroy both soul and body in hell.
    NIV – Mat 10:28 – Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

    I believe Matthew was present, I don't know that Luke was.

  35. laymond says:

    I believe we should be telling people what they are going to miss out on, rather than scaring people with what punishment they will be dealt.

  36. aBasnar says:

    <blkockquote>(Luk 16:27-28 ESV) 27 And he said, 'Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house — 28 for I have five brothers–so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.'

    But this is not HELL but HADES, Jay – this is BEFORE the resurrection and the final judgement. AS long as you don't see the difference between these very distinbct and different places, you are bound to misunderstan the whole subject.


  37. guy says:


    i think i'm asking a lot simpler questions than you are answering and so i'm still completely lost.

    (1) Does the word "Sheol" refer to *both* sides of the gulf from Luke 16? Or only the 'bad' side?

    (2) When Jesus died, which side of the gulf did He go to?

    (3) What was the creed originally intending to claim about Jesus activities/location post-death, pre-resurrection?

    That's all i was asking. (i'm not trying to play coy or be thick, i just honestly cannot tell from this post how you mean to answer any of those questions.)


  38. guy says:

    You wrote:
    "“Many” and “few” would be meaningless in a realm of infinite blows. Therefore, punishment of humans is not perpetual."

    Unless 'many' and 'few' are simply meant to communicate differing degrees of punishment.

    But even if 'many' and 'few' are literal, two semesters ago i took symbolic logic II. One of our assignments was to reproduce one of the several arguments that show that not all infinities are equal. It's complicated and lengthy, but i can point to some resources if you like. 'Many' and 'few' can still be distinct even in infinity.


  39. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Guy,I’m familiar with degrees of infinity, denumerability, aleph naught, and all that. I majored in math. Yes, some infinite sets are, in a sense, larger than other infinite sets. But it would be a strange use of language to refer to a denumerable set (the “smallest” infinite set) as “few”. No one would refer to infinite blows as “few blows.”

  40. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Guy and Alexander,1 Peter 3:19 says,

    (1Pe 3:19 ESV)  19 in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison,

    Whether “prison” is hell, Hades, or the condemned state of those to whom Noah preached before the Flood is a matter of considerable speculation. I doubt that this is the primary referent of the Apostles Creed, as Psa 16:10, quoted in Acts 2:27, 31, is a specific reference to Hades/Sheol and obviously more central to Christian teaching, being a major part of Peter’s sermon at Pentecost.The Hebrew is Sheol, and in Psa 16:10, it’s a reference to the grave and a likely reference to the resurrection.It’s also a likely reference to Eph 4:9 —

    (Eph 4:8-10 ESV)  8 Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.”  9 (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth?  10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.)

    (Eph 4:9 NET) Now what is the meaning of “he ascended,” except that he also descended to the lower regions, namely, the earth?

    “Lower regions” is taken by the translators to be an appositive for “the earth” — that is, die and was buried.The point of the Apostles Creed is simply that Jesus suffered genuine physical death and so was in the grave (Sheol) and so was where the dead go.It’s not a reference to preaching to the damned. Maybe 1Pet 3:19 is. But the Apostles Creed is a reference to the fact that Jesus was truly dead, suffering the fate of dead people generally.The Anglican translation agrees with me. <a href="… />So does the Lutheran — does the Methodist/Ecumenical version. <a href="<br />As does the contemporary Reformed version. <a href="<br />And the United Churches of Christ. <a href="… /> explains the history of the phrase, which is not nearly as ancient as the creed itself. It was added much later.Finally, there are, of course, plenty of people who teach that Jesus went into hell between his burial and resurrection. This comes in part from the Apocrypha, in part from Catholic tradition, and sometimes from a desire to find a doctrine of a second chance. But I don’t find it in scripture.

  41. guy says:


    Well, fair enough. But i doubt "few" and "many" are meant to be taken as literal descriptions of the afterlife anymore than lamps or door knocking or food allowances in the rest of the text. It seems straightforwardly parabolic. Thus, i doubt Jesus meant to convey that God will quite literally take a cane to the backside of the wicked.

    But the message is clear that some punishments are worse than others. And i guess i don't see anything incoherent about some infinite torments being worse than others. What's incoherent about an infinite amount time having rocks fall on you being worse than an infinite amount of time during which your subjected to a lot of horrible smells? And what's incoherent or unacceptable about saying that, say, 'few blows' is parabolic of something like horrible-smell-hell in the same kind of way that dirt is parabolic of a heart or mind in the parable of the sower?

    If Jesus is speaking parabolically here in Luke 12, i don't see how an infinite hell is necessarily incompatible with his parable.


  42. Adam Legler says:

    Bummer in a way. I just bought and read Fudge's 1st edition last year after reading your reviews on it. Hopefully you will highlight some of the changes and revisions he has made since my budget and time won't allow me to get the lastest copy.

  43. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Adam L,Go to Edward’s GracEmail page and you’ll find a recent article summarizing the differences.

  44. Edward Fudge says:

    Very good summary of the various positions, Jay–thanks for giving exposure to the subject and the debate regarding it as well as to The Fire That Consumes. One point of clarification regarding the common conditionalist understanding of Satan's final end. Perhaps it reflects your own observations and converations but I have not found (and do not myself believe) that "the devil and his angels will suffer eternal, conscious torment," but will also be totally destroyed, leaving a new heaens and new earth in which righteousness (and no unrighteousness) dwells. Thanks again for your significant ministry. — Edward

  45. Alabama John says:

    I pray God will change the nature of man when they (we) get to heaven. Man as he is, except for a few righteous, has been wiped completely out in the whole world before. The righteous started over in a new world and after a while became just as sinful as before. Obviously one can choose to be good or evil in heaven as angels rebelled and became fallen angels, even the devil chose evil and was kicked out..
    Hope we don't mess up heaven like we have this earth.

  46. Royce says:

    Alabama John,

    Those who are in heaven will be delivered not only from the presence of sin but from the power of sin. God's plan is to make all things new. Have no fear, evil will not even be a faint memory for those who are Christ's own.

  47. Randall says:

    Royce and Alabama John,
    The issue of our ability to sin is significant . If we are left with our present fallen human nature and our "free" will then it would only be a matter of time (a few seconds?) until each of us "freely" chose an evil thought or action and "heaven" would have no mere humans left as it seems the Father would not abide the presence of sin.

    Thankfully we will have a new nature (and imperishable body) and will not choose to sin as our nature will no longer be fallen, that is, we won't even have the ability to sin.

    I presume none of us will desire to have our current bent towards sin nor want the "free" will to exercise it in such a corrupt manner. Any takers out there wanting to maintain the ability to choose sin over goodness in the eternal abode just so their "free" will won't be violated?

    What a great and wonderful God we have!


  48. aBasnar says:

    Whether “prison” is hell, Hades, or the condemned state of those to whom Noah preached before the Flood is a matter of considerable speculation.

    Actually no, because – and this is really simple – it is a matter of time and order. Right now no one has been resurrected, so no one has been cast into hell yet either. Being cast into hell is a result of the last jusgdement that will take place at the end.

    So today not one single man is in hell.

    If you doubt that 1Pe 3:19 was one of the key references to the statement in the Creed, you may doubt it. But the people who set this creed up – the 2nd century church of Christ – saw this text as very important. And they had this in mind when they compiled the Creed.

    Ask yourself: Where was Jesus' soul during the time His body was in the Grave?

    The Jewish hope for resurrection looked forward to the last days:

    Dan 12:13 But go your way till the end. And you shall rest and shall stand in your allotted place at the end of the days."
    (The LXX has α?νι?στημι – "reise again")

    Joh 11:24 Martha said to him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day."

    And that's what we Chrsitians believe, too. The resurrection will take place at the end, when the Lord returns:

    1Co 15:22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.
    1Co 15:23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.

    1Th 4:15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.
    1Th 4:16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
    1Th 4:17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.

    Jesus speaks of two different resurections, BTW:

    Joh 5:28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice
    Joh 5:29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

    In Revelation we see these two resurrections divided by the Millenium (and it is this observation that compells me to take the millenium literally):

    Rev 20:4 Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
    Rev 20:5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection.
    Rev 20:6 Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.

    To sum this up:

    Whether someone goes to hell will be determined at the judgment, and we shall be resurrected in order to appear before the throne. And the resurrection takes place at the end, when all the redeemed ones will be raised to reign with Christ and als the condemned ones will be raised to be judged.

    Therefore: Not one human is yet in hell. And not one Christian reigns with Christ yet either.


  49. aBasnar says:

    but I have not found (and do not myself believe) that "the devil and his angels will suffer eternal, conscious torment," but will also be totally destroyed,

    Please, Edward, then let me ask you how you understand these verses:

    <blockuote>Rev 20:10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

    The word to torment – βασανι?ζω – menas to torture.
    Is torture something you feel and are aware of or not?
    Can you be tortured unconsciously?

    How long does the torture last?
    Does day and night or forever and ever allow the thought that the torture will be over sooner or later?

    What is the difference between torturing someone and destroying or killing him?
    How does a person experience the one and the other?

    The false prophet and the beast – both humans – were in that lake for 1000 years already, and the Greek tense of the verb means they were still there. Were they still experiencing the fire? Is there anything that indicates that their torment was limited to 1000 years or less?

    Rev 14:11 And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name."

    What causes the some? The torment of humans.
    So as long as they are tormented, the smoke goes up.
    How long?
    What does the phrase mean: "They have no rest"?

    I think that you cannot come to your conclusions unless you change some words.
    You have to redefine "forever and ever" and you have to change "torment" into "destroy".

    The phrase "forever and ever" ει?ς αι?ω?νας αι?ω?νων is the same is in so many doxologies:

    Heb 1:8 But of the Son he says, "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom. (ει?ς το?ν αι?ω?να του? αι?ω?νος?)

    If we conclude that "forever and ever" does not mean eternal, but a limited timespan, the the reign of God- described here – is as limited.

    So, most likely I don't know all your arguments, probably (as Jay says) I grossly misrepresent waht you (and he) mean(s) – but I am sure, you are well prepared to answer these questions.


  50. Alabama John says:

    We won't be as good little robots as the angels and the devil who had a high ranking with God were not. If that were so, all men that ever existed regardless of their sins would do just fine in heaven as a robot since everyones sinful nature would be removed. Hell would serve no purpose.
    For all eternity, we will have the choice to go to hell.
    God gave us all free will because He wants all to chose to be with Him that's a sure position and belief regardless of where we are.

  51. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Edward,I have your book on order and look forward to reading your analysis of the key passages.

  52. Randall says:

    Also, It is generally held that no effort was ever made to save the fallen angels and that those that did not follow Satan in the fall were confirmed in holiness so they shall never fall – granted that is based more on theology than scripture, but it is at least consistent with scripture.

    If mankind forever will have the capacity (indeed the predisposition) to behave in accordance with his (fallen) nature then who do you think will last very long in the presence of God, much less be there for all eternity. I only know of one sinless man and that is the completely unique God-man, Christ Jesus.

    All the rest of us sin b/c we WANT to. Non one ever held a gun to our heads and made us choose sin over obedience to God. Why oh why do so many in the CofC insist on bowing down and worshiping at the altar of freewill? Isn't it the intellectual currents that find their roots in Greek philosophy and carry on through the enlightenment. The notion of man pulling himself out of the muck and mire by his own bootstraps doesn't hold up to close examination.

    Pelagius was wrong! Please consider the fifth chapter of Romans, indeed the entire letter to the Romans.

  53. Alabama John says:


    that is my point, if we in heaven do not sin any more, then either: 1) we have as the new creature lost all thinking or, 2) no matter what you do, all disobedience that exist here is not sin there.

    We know those in hell appeal for help for people they know here. Obviously they were cognizant and thinking tin hell, why not in heaven?
    Bet a lot of praying for relief and forgiveness is going on there too as that is human nature..

    Confirmed in holiness? Is that like my number 1 or 2 or something else?

    I don't believe God wants us to be with Him captured but because we want to love Him, respect Him and recognize His authority and obey, whether here or there.
    In heaven there will something for us all to do. What? I do not know, but the God that has been revealed to us wants us to obey and do something. Isn't what we do and how we react and act in this world a preparation for the one to come!

  54. aBasnar says:

    I also don't believe we are captured, but we do decide for eternity today.
    Today our faith is being tested whether we are serious and do want to be with God under new heavens on a new earth.
    So the question should be answered before we depart from this life.
    But then it is like a marriage – does your wife hold you captive?
    I hope not, but still you are not free to leave her, because of a covenant.

    I also am very glad, that Satan is taken care of in eternity – so he cannot cause any troubles then.
    And I am glad that we won't live any longer among a wicked and corrupt society, but in the Kingdom of God.

    As for ourselves, our flesh won't fight against the Spirit any longer, because due to the resurrection all of our old and sinful nature is done away.
    But when the desire of the flesh is gone, I think we are really free to walk in God's ways (we are free to do that by walking in the spirit today, too, but we always have to fight or flesh – this constant fight will be over) – and we wouldn't want it it to have it any other way.


  55. guy says:

    Alabama John,

    Actually, there is a view in the free will debate known as restrictive libertarianism. Libertarians believe that determinism is incompatible with free will. Libertarians largely believe that a person requires access to alternative possibilities in every choice in order for that choice to be free.

    Restrictive libertarians though note that a person can so choose in a habitual way as to develop certain character traits. Those character traits can constrain our behavior. In fact, a person can exercise their free will in a given are so habitually that it eventually restricts what they are free to do later. So think about committing heinous acts against your own children or something like that. You can have lived for so long exercising your free will in such a way that some things simply aren't options for you anymore. And restrictive libertarians mean that in a robust sense. So it's not like you could do it, it's within your power, you're free to, but you just tend not to or have really strong reasons not to exercise that power. Rather, restrictive libertarians claim that over time you actually lose the *capacity* to opt for some actions.

    Now i bring up that position to say that it's possible every one in heaven could be so sanctified that they no longer have the capacity to choose disobedience. But that wouldn't make the un-free. Assuming that it makes them un-free assumes that every set of alternatives necessarily includes at least one immoral choice. But a person could have a set of alternatives all of which are morally permissible. Thus, freedom in heaven, yet no sin. My point is that there are other alternatives than the one you bring up.


  56. Guestfortruth says:

    Jesus said in John 7:17
    " If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority."

    Does it mean that God does not let the people choose to do or not to chose the will of God?

  57. Alabama John says:

    I more than most believe and teach knowing there is a God and pleasing Him is foremost in our nature and in the nature of ALL mankind in whatever year and where ever located put there by God.. Folks have worshiped Him many ways for all time and in all civilizations. We here are not too much better, if at all, as I think now there are over 2000 denominations all preaching something different and from the same bible.

    I'm not arguing at all, wish we could talk face to face, but one day we will know all about heaven won't we. I'm far more curious about what we will be doing. Sitting around on a cloud doesn't sound too right to me Twelve legions could be called down to protect Jesus in the garden. They had a job.

    I simply think God will be pleased with our thought out obedience rather than our doing good when that is the only choice and option.

    We are put to the test here on earth and our 70-80 years are so short when you think of eternity. Those that love and follow His teaching among all the temptations will be blessed more by God and appreciated more.

  58. laymond says:

    I don't know how you guys know this, since no one has ever seen God, and no man has ever been to Heaven.

    Jhn 1:18 No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared [him].
    Jhn 3:13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, [even] the Son of man which is in heaven.

    (Paul says he has, but I have my doubts)
    2Cr 12:2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.

  59. Randall says:

    Alabama John,
    Above you said the following: "more than most believe and teach knowing there is a God and pleasing Him is foremost in our nature and in the nature of ALL mankind in whatever year and where ever located put there by God."

    I am sure you are familiar with the scriptures. Many could be cited relevant to your comment. I do not want to engage in mere proof texting, but you may want to consider a few passages in light of your comment above.

    One passage is Genesis 6: 5 which says the following according to the ESV Bible on line:
    5 The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

    Another passage is Romans 3: 10-18 which says the following according to the ESV Bible on line:
    10 as it is written:

    “None is righteous, no, not one;
    11 no one understands; no one seeks for God.
    12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
    no one does good, not even one.”
    13 “Their throat is an open grave;
    they use their tongues to deceive.”
    “The venom of asps is under their lips.”
    14 “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
    15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
    16 in their paths are ruin and misery,
    17 and the way of peace they have not known.”
    18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

    No doubt you have considered these passages and reconciled them with your comment above.

    Of course, we are all obligated to be obedient to the Father in all things. How do we accomplish that now? By being regenerated and living in the power of His Spirit. But still we fail so many times every day. How shall we do it though all eternity w/o ever failing; w/o ever wanting to disobey and serve ourselves rather than Him?

    Thank God for His lovingkindness.

  60. Alabama John says:

    Good thoughtful post.
    You may have it just right in regard to only good choices being available. Like the song I like "No tears in heaven, No Tears up there"
    What bothers me is the devil and his angels left our heaven and became what they are today. Just the fact they had a choice spells trouble if our past is accurate.
    Like laymond said, none have been there yet so we'll see.
    I know once God regretted ever making man. Pray it doesn't happen again.

  61. Alabama John says:


    By nature I mean even those that do the things you pointed out lived in a civilization or group that worshiped God as they knew and understood God.
    So many have been a long way off the mark, but their God given born with nature still caused them to worship God in some way.
    Come to think about it, many do the same thing today don't they. Most not to the extremes you point out, but enough to have others teach they are lost and will not enjoy heaven.Really doesn't matter to what degree you go to hell, you are there just the same.
    Notice I said they, didn't say WE!
    Nobody ever does.

  62. Ken Sublett says:

    Listing proof texts to decide “how hot is hell” or “how long is eternity” misses the context which shows:

    For what reason God turns people over to the World Ruler

    And the fact that the “fire” is often a metaphor for consuming people’s spirit with the destruction which includes “endless talking” and anything not connected to teaching that which is written for our learning.

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