Eternal Punishment?


I have a friend (non-Catholic Christian) who is leaning towards believing there is no such thing as “eternal punishment.” He’s basing this movement in his though upon various articles he’s read about the Greek word aeonios, which has usually been translated “everlasting” or “eternal”.

This is a good summary of the information he’s been showing me:

It comes from a Universalist website. In fact, there are several entire books available on this website that go more in depth into all of this. Here’s one example:

History of Opinions on the Scriptural Doctrine of Retribution

I’m struggling to find a response to the points they make, other than that the Church in her authority simply authorized the development of the new meaning, despite the fact that there seem to be no scriptural, cultural or historical indications that the biblical writers themselves actually meant “everlasting” or “eternal”. If you think you can help me, read the first link above and share your responses if you have any.

Any reading recommendations would also be appreciated. Thanks!


We see eternal punishment referred to clearly in Scripture. What does your friend say about these verses?

2 Thes 1:7-9
And to you who are troubled, rest with us when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven, with the angels of his power:
In a flame of fire, giving vengeance to them who know not God, and who obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Who shall suffer eternal punishment in destruction, from the face of the Lord, and from the glory of his power:

Jude 1:7
As Sodom and Gomorrha, and the neighboring cities, in like manner, having given themselves to fornication, and going after other flesh, were made an example, suffering the punishment of eternal fire



My friend is arguing that aeonios, the word for “eternal” in those passages, doesn’t really translate “eternal” or “everlasting”, that there was another stronger Greek word for “eternal” (aidios) and that since this wasn’t used by the writers/translators of Scripture it implies that it wasn’t intended as “eternal” but rather as merely an undefined age (but one with an end, nonetheless). The only reason then that aeonios is translated “eternal” is because that meaning has been imposed upon the word supposedly. But the writers/translators did not see it this way in the beginning, or so says the sites my friend keeps point me to.

They also point to the fact that the meaning of the word was debated greatly even among the early Church Fathers and that the majority of the great theological schools of the early Church supported the notion of universal salvation.

If you read that first article I linked to, you’ll get a full understanding of their position.


I took a quick look at the page you referenced. I think this could be an endless argument trying to find out what original scripture meant and if it was translated properly etc.

Personally, I’d engage this person from a different angle. What Christian denomination does this person claim to follow? Looking at the foundation of that denomination and disproving it would be much easier. The idea as I see it would be to show which is the true church of Christ. If you are not in the true Church of Christ, you cannot be saved. So whether your friend wants to argue over “eternal” or “temporal” punishment, if he sees he is not a member of the true Church of Christ, he will see he cannot be saved and cannot enter the kingdom of heaven regardless of whether or not he believes punishment is “eternal” or not. IOW, the issue is beside the point if you prove his denomination is not the true Church of Christ.

[quote=c_mcanall]My friend is arguing that aeonios, the word for “eternal” in those passages, doesn’t really translate “eternal” or “everlasting”, that there was another stronger Greek word for “eternal” (aidios)



Actually, that’s part of their argument… Sodom and Gomorrah were completely destroyed and consumed by fire. Hence, such groups believe that the wicked will likewise be annihilated rather than be tormented eternally.


Bible passages saying that hell is eternal

Ps. 13:16, Mt 3:11-12, Mt 25:41&46, Mk 9: 42-43, Lk 26:25-26, 2 Thes 1:7-9, Jude 1:6-8 & 13, Apoc 14:11, Apoc 20: 9-10

Also inferred from Mk 3:29, 1Cor 6:9-10, 1Cor 15:50, Gal 5:19-21

The pamphlet “What Will Hell be Like?”, by St. Alphonsus Liguori, contains a lot of information.

For example, the great pagan orator Cicero says, “I wish to have no part with those who have recently begun to teach that souls die along with their bodies, and that all is destroyed by death. Of far more weight with me is the authority of the ancient philosophers and of our own ancestors. They paid religious homage to the dead, and considered that their entrance into Heaven should be mad easv for every good and just man.” “Those souls, which have been soiled by the vices of this life, and will take the false road which separates them from the company of the gods; on the other hand, those who have preserved themselves pure and chaste, will find easy admittance to the divinity, the source of their existence.”


And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck 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, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.
Mark 9:47-48

How much more explicit does it have to get?


Ask your friend just how long does he believe eternal life is? Is it just for an age or does the word mean forever. The same thought is used in Matthew 25 for the destiny of the wicked and the destiny of the righteous. The righteous will have **eternal ** life while the wicked will go into **eternal ** punishment. The same word is used for the length of **both ** groups.

                                     Also notice in Revelation 20:10. It says the devil is cast into the future lake of fire and will be tormented **forever and ever**.These words literally mean in the Greek from ages unto ages or for all time. Now also notice in verse 15 of the same chapter. Those who are raised from the dead and their names are not found in the book of life, they are cast into this lake of fire as well. So what the devil will undergo those whose names are not in the book of life will undergo the same **age long torment**.


To not believe in hell is to say that Mother Teresa and Hitler are going to receive the same punishment/reward. What kind of loving God would do that?



I didn’t see in the links any reference to the lines from the Sermon on the Mount about being cast into Gehenna, “where the worm does not cease and the fire is not quenched.” That should be pretty clear, shouldn’t it?

  • Liberian

who has no desire to find out first-hand what Hell is like

closed #11

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