Is it possible that God can relent on the eternal punishment in Hell?

Is it possible for God to eventually relent? Is there some type of stain on these souls that God cannot cleanse or change? Sure, the damned are in Hell due to their own free-will, but that does not mean that they would not repent under the right conditions.

LOVE! :heart:

To a snippet from the Summa Theologica:

Question 87: The Debt of Punishment - Article 3

"On the contrary, It is written (Matthew 25:46): “These shall go into everlasting punishment”; and (Mark 3:29): “He that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost, shall never have forgiveness, but shall be guilty of an everlasting sin.”

“I answer that, As stated above (Article 1), sin incurs a debt of punishment through disturbing an order. But the effect remains so long as the cause remains. Wherefore so long as the disturbance of the order remains the debt of punishment must needs remain also. Now disturbance of an order is sometimes reparable, sometimes irreparable: because a defect which destroys the principle is irreparable, whereas if the principle be saved, defects can be repaired by virtue of that principle. For instance, if the principle of sight be destroyed, sight cannot be restored except by Divine power; whereas, if the principle of sight be preserved, while there arise certain impediments to the use of sight, these can be remedied by nature or by art. Now in every order there is a principle whereby one takes part in that order. Consequently if a sin destroys the principle of the order whereby man’s will is subject to God, the disorder will be such as to be considered in itself, irreparable, although it is possible to repair it by the power of God. Now the principle of this order is the last end, to which man adheres by charity. Therefore whatever sins turn man away from God, so as to destroy charity, considered in themselves, incur a debt of eternal punishment.”

In other words, mortal sin damages our souls irreparably. It kills our souls. Unless we want God’s forgiveness we remain irreparable and our punishment in the hereafter is eternal.

Now, the time for making our choices (to live as a Saint, to ask forgiveness, to live as an evil person) must be finite. Since we have free will, we must be tested before we can enter Heaven, and that test must last for a set time only. Otherwise, if God would drag out our time of testing infinitely there would never come a time when we would get our dues in justice, and therefore God would never exercise justice when it is needed, and therefore He would not be just. If He were not just, He wouldn’t be Maximally Great and He wouldn’t be God. But instead, His mercy allocates a time of testing for us, that is always a sufficient time for us to be saved if we want it.

After that time of testing, we enter outside of time to eternity, either to Hell eternally, or to Heaven (aside from a temporary stay in purgatory if needed).

God can do as He wants. Thus, Judas or even Hitler could be in purgatory and eventually heaven. I think the crux of your question though is whether someone initially sent to hell could be given reprieve. I don’t think so—but I’d have to hear from God as that’s above my pay grade!.


Once you have died, you have no more choices or chances. Your particular judgment occurs and if you are found lacking you go to Hell instead of Purgatory. Hell is Eternal. The judgments of those who go there remains unchangeable. If however, you are found lacking but in a state of grace, you may wind up in Purgatory whose completion is Heaven. Once in Purgatory, your time there may be shortened by many factors, the intercession of Mary, the Mother of God, the Saints, even your family and friends here left behind in the land of the living applying graces and merits to you in particular through prayerful aides and Masses said for the repose of your poor soul. I hear the “final commendation” said at a Funeral Mass is very powerful in that regard. But if you wind up in Hell, then there is nothing anyone can do for you, even the Queen of Heaven.

Repent while you’re alive and things will go better for you then if you think you can escape Hell at the last minute of your life.


I doubt anyone who finds themselves separated from G-d as well as tormented will not repent. Since hell is designed to be a punishment for those who are intentionally unrepentant of terrible sins in this life, if they prefer to remain in hell rather than be with G-d in heaven, then hell would not be a just punishment for them. Based on this, I would speculate that the answer to your question is no.

OTOH, I personally will never really understand in this life how G-d, by His very nature, would allow most people to remain in hell for eternity (or even assign them there by means of their own free will), particularly those who did not commit egregious crimes. Since I, whose mercy does not begin to compare to G-d’s, would not do so, how could an all-merciful G-d? Besides, the whole idea of eternal happiness vs. eternal damnation is just too simplistic and humanistic a notion in my view. That is why it is best not to speculate too much about the afterlife.

I have great respect for our Jewish brothers and sisters, the Chosen People of God, and I often take heed in what they teach. The following is how Chabad views Hell:

Dear Rabbi,

Do Jews believe in Hell? I am not planning any trips there or anything, but I have heard conflicting reports about its existence.


We do believe in a type of Hell, but not the one found in cartoons and joke books. Hell is not a punishment in the conventional sense; it is, in fact, the expression of a great kindness.

The Jewish mystics described a spiritual place called “Gehinnom.” This is usually translated as “Hell,” but a better translation would be “the Supernal Washing Machine.” Because that’s exactly how it works. The way our soul is cleansed in Gehinnom is similar to the way our clothes are cleansed in a washing machine.

Put yourself in your socks’ shoes, so to speak. If you were to be thrown into boiling hot water and flung around for half an hour, you might start to feel that someone doesn’t like you. However, the fact is that it is only after going through a wash cycle that the socks can be worn again.

We don’t put our socks in the washing machine to punish them. We put them through what seems like a rough and painful procedure only to make them clean and wearable again. The intense heat of the water loosens the dirt, and the force of being swirled around shakes it off completely. Far from hurting your socks, you are doing them a favor by putting them through this process.

So too with the soul. Every act we do in our lifetime leaves an imprint on our soul. The good we do brightens and elevates our soul, and every wrongdoing leaves a stain that needs to be cleansed. If, at the end of our life, we leave this world without fixing the wrongs we have done, our soul is unable to reach its place of rest on high. We must go through a cycle of deep cleansing. Our soul is flung around at an intense spiritual heat to rid it of any residue it may have gathered, and to prepare it for entry into Heaven.

Of course, this whole process can be avoided. If we truly regret the wrong we have done and make amends with the people we have hurt, we can leave this world with “clean socks.”

That’s why our Sages said, “Repent one day before you die.” And what should you do if you don’t know which day that will be? Repent today.

I adhere strongly to the teachings of the Catholic Church, but I do not like inconsistencies between Catholicism and Judaism, and I experience a sort of cognitive dissonance when I see any inconsistencies. So, on the one hand I believe that Hell is truly eternal, but I have a glimmer of hope for those damned to Hell given the beliefs of Chabad.

LOVE! :heart:

From the CCC:

*1035 The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, "eternal fire."617 The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs. *

The Catechism does not equivocate. Nor does the Bible.

Nor does Jesus Christ:

“Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into
the **eternal fire **which has been prepared for the devil and his angels.” Matthew 25:41

If hell were not eternal, there would be no reason to strive for heaven, since we will all get there eventually anyway. It is a comforting thought, but certainly not a sure bet. :thumbsup:

The rabbi’s washing-machine analogy sounds to me more like purgatory than hell, which many Jews believe in as a limited period of cleansing and atonement before ascending to heaven. But hell is thought of more as an eternal separation from G-d. So, I don’t think there are any inconsistencies between the Catholic Church and Judaism on this point.


According to the Tanya, all souls will be eventually saved.

LOVE! :heart:

The reply to Objection 1 is particularly relevant. :thumbsup:

Can’t God change his mind? What He may have said in biblical times was true then but can’t He suddenly decide that hell is getting very full and He wants to let some people out. Maybe there could be new revelations on this. If God is God He can do anything He wants.

:thumbsup: I agree. :slight_smile:

Once you have died, your soul separates from your body. You no longer have your mouth or tongue to repent with, nor your hands available to do good and help the poor and lift up your heart to the Lord, nor your feet to follow after Christ, nor your shoulders for carrying your cross. Your soul after separating from your body can only “be” without “doing” anything.
(so, how can the Saints pray for us? - they are united with God in understanding at this point, God “knowing” what they “know”, including their intentions about us who pray to them for intercession)

But purgatory and Hell are places of not communing with God, a lack of union (for a time of punishment in Purgatory, and an eternal punishment in Hell)

Do your penance now, confess your sins, participate the sacraments. Don’t neglect this great salvation thinking that God will give in because you are more stubborn and hold out until he gives in.

John Martin

As someone else stated above, Jesus himself specifically stated that punishment in hell is eternal. Because of Jesus specific statement the answer is hell punishment is eternal. On the point of free will according to what has been explain ed to me by several priest, it is not possible to repent or change after you die because the minute you die you lose your free will. The concept theologically speaking is a little complicated but basically when you die you are fully bound by the choices you made in life. This is the reason why you have until the last minute before you die you can repent but the minute after you die you cannot repent. Your free will is lost the second you die so it is not a matter if God not wanting to forgive you instead you don’t have any more free will so you remain bounded by your decision during your free will. Again the concept is a little complicated but keep in mind, one you condemn your own self to hell by your own choices and no after the judgment hell will be eternalbfor those who have been condemned to it

Lets assume that you have to be good with mark 1 to go to heaven. Now assume that a person mark is 0.999999… Does he deserve an eternal life in hell? Isn’t that quite paradoxical? What is the difference between this person and another one with mark 0.8?

your posit is non sensical to a Catholic. we strive to do good and to be good. we have the sacraments. we hope for heaven, and we understand purgatory. there is no question of the results of rejecting God and His only Son, Jesus Christ. repent people, and believe. i did.:wink:

There is a tendency among us puny humans to think of eternity as merely a really, really long time. It’s not. It’s existence in the NOW, apart from time. Time as we know it is part of this world. Eternity is existence in timelessness. Angels exist in eternity which is why you don’t hear about repentance and betrayal apart from the choosing sides that occurred upon their creation (angels vs demons). After final judgment, I suspect we too will exist in eternity rather than time. By definition, your character doesn’t change in eternity. You are who you are.

So choose wisely while change is still possible.

Precisely! :thumbsup: Pascal’s Wager! Bet on the winning number before you die.

That’s where the logic of Purgatory comes in!

The OP is based on the false assumption that God metes out eternal punishment whereas it is self-inflicted by those whose self-love and lust for power makes them prefer to exist in “splendid” isolation in a rival kingdom. They are prepared to pay the price for being independent and owing allegiance to no one. Hell must have its compensations; otherwise it wouldn’t exist!

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