"The devil is afraid of hell" (?)

I was discussing Dante’s Divine Comedy with a colleague of mine yesterday, and she made a curious comment. She remarked that Dante is responsible for a common misconception of hell. At first, I thought she was referring to the geography he created of concentric circles, but I didn’t think that would qualify as a common misconception. So I asked her,

“What do you mean?”

“Well, if you ask kids where the devil lives, what will they say?”

“…in hell?”

“Right! The devil doesn’t live in hell; he’s afraid of hell, because that’s where he’s going to spend eternity. The devil lives here, on earth.”

The conversation got sidetracked at that point…

Any thoughts?

Dante (not the real one)

She is right.

It is a myth that Satan dwells in Hell. He lives right here and is the king of this world.

Also, when he finally is in Hell, he will not be ruling there with his demons torturing the damned. They will be suffering way more than the human damned, so they will be busy enough.

I really wish more Christians were aware of these realties rather than the common misconceptions that only damage the credibility of our faith.

With respect, Atemi, I assumed (and this was perhaps inappropriate) that it was apparent I was seeking thoughts on this matter with regard to Catholic doctrine, if there is one, and if there’s a difference.

Thanks for the thoughtful reply, though! :slight_smile:


I’m not really contributing to the discussion (however, I tend to agree with Atemi on this one). I just wanted to stick up for Dante’s version of Hell.

In the Divine Comedy, Hell is an upside-down version of the Aristotelian/Thomistic picture of the human soul. The devil is pictured at the bottom of Hell because he uses the fullest capacities of his soul to get the furthest away from God. The picture is intended metaphorically, not literally.

Okay, back to the real question now!

Yes, Dante’s metaphor is wonderfully effective.

So, thoughts, anyone?


I thought the story was that St. Michael cast satan into hell not down to Earth. Yeah I’m pretty sure satan is in hell, he can just come here sometimes.
I suppose you could srgue that if hell is more of a state than a place then he could be both on Earth and in Hell. I am more inclined to say Hell is more of a place that causes a state though.
As far as doctrine is concerned I have nothing to offer info wise on this topic.:shrug:

I apologize, Dante.

There was nothing in your OP to suggest this was a Catholic-only thread.

My bad.

With all due respect, how can you possibly believe that? Yes, Satan was the Prince of this world… but only until Christ came and took His place as King of this world. Satan’s reign ended when Christ’s sacrifice enabled us to be freed from the chains of original sin and reopened the gates of Heaven. Christ defeated Satan’s grip on the world, and now reigns as the eternal King.

And yes, Satan is in Hell, along with all of the angels that fell with him. Angels are pure spirit with pure intellect, such that when they made their decision at the beginning of time (to either choose or reject God for all eternity) they immediately entered into either heaven or hell. It is also my understanding that they never truly leave heaven or hell, even when visiting this earth. Heaven and hell (for angels, at the very least, since they are not physical beings) must be understood as something more like a state of existence: eternal and irreversible union or separation from God, regardless of wherever they might be.

For Marlowe’s Mephistopheles ‘Hell hath no limits, nor is circumscrib’d in one self place; for where we are is hell, and where hell is, must we ever be.’ He says…‘Why this is hell, nor am I out of it. Think’st thou that I who saw the face of God, am not tormented with ten thousand hells, in being depriv’d of everlasting bliss?’

what is Catholic teaching on hell? it’s not something I’ve ever been taught about while in church… I’ve only ever read about in Paradise Lost, Dante and Dr. Faustus…

do you believe that hell is a real physical place?
do you believe hell is seperation from God?
must you believe in one or are you free to choose?
is hell just a construct used so that we understand something… cos then my next question would be… if it is somewhere, where is it?

I know that sounds silly but I started reading this thread and realised nobody has ever told me this… in fact the only time I’ve ever seen hell being taught in a church was in The Simpsons lol…tragic but true :slight_smile:


No apology necessary, Atemi – it was my fault that I didn’t specify I was after the Catholic angle. Not a Catholic-only thread; I’m just ignorant of the Church’s teaching on this matter.


I am not saying our Lord is not Sovereign over all right now, but the rightful King is away.

Satan has been usurped, but he still reigns throughout the world.

As Christ said, “My Kingdom is not of this world.” He is our King, but we are only a few compared to the king who reigns in the hearts of most of the world. This ends only at the King’s return.

Satan’s reign ended when Christ’s sacrifice enabled us to be freed from the chains of original sin and reopened the gates of Heaven. Christ defeated Satan’s grip on the world, and now reigns as the eternal King.

Satan still reigns in far too many lives to say this is so. Christ is the eternal King, yes, but He has not forced Satan’s grip on the majority of this world…yet.

And yes, Satan is in Hell, along with all of the angels that fell with him.

There is no way for those in Hell to be here now as well.

After Christ returns, He will cast Satan into Hell:

NJB Rev 20:10 “Then the devil, who led them astray, was hurled into the lake of fire and sulphur, where the beast and the false prophet are, and their torture will not come to an end, day or night, forever and ever.”

One cannot be cast into Hell if they are already there.

Also, being tormented day and night does not leave Satan much ability to tempt. As the demons who begged Jesus:

Mat 8:29 "What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?”

There is a time appointed where Satan and all his cohorts shall receive their everlasting punishment, but that has yet to occur as is obvious by the state of the world today.

The devil is not afraid of hell; he is aready there, and it may very well be the case that the devil will torture us, just like he does now, (In my opinion, once we reject God forever, Gods love cannot protect us from the devil, because at that stage, we have accepted the devil as our master).

The problem is, is how you think of hell in regards to what it actually is. I think its unlikely that hell is a place. A place is a physical reality that has mass and quantity. Somebody might go to a place where they will suffer “in” hell, but that will have nothing to do with the place that they are in, since hell is a spirtual reality that is born out of being “without” God; its got nothing to do with being in a place. Secondly i believe there are cetain Gifts, such as Love, that will be lost to us if in fact we choose to stay in hell.
How do we make sense of the fall of Adam and Eve? Isn’t it not the case that, to fall from God is to fall in to hell? Hell can be thought of as a place of torture, but it is not neccesarly the case that hell is a place where God tortures us. To think that, is to foget what God is; God is Love; to be with out Gods perfect Love, is hell.

I think there are people on this earth now, that live in a certain “degree” of hell;( Some peoples suffering will be different to others and lesser) the only difference betweeen them and the Devil is that they can repent at any time; they still have that oppertunity, while the devil does not, or rather chooses not to. I don’t think it is reasonble to think that a “spirtual” being, such as Satan, can be said to be in a “place”, rather his soul is in a state of hell, for all eternity. God is trying to save us from hell; I don’t think that God is going to waste his time building a physical Heaven or hell, If

1.God himself is the source of all happiness, (being Love).
2. Hell is to be with out Gods Love.

Therefore it is not reasonable or neccesary to think of God as a being that is personally going to torture evil humans for all eternity. The fires of hell can only be seen as a methaphore for a spiritual fire, if it is to make sense.To think otherwise raises to many logical contradiction and the idea of an immoral God.

so catholics don’t believe hell is a physical place? just a state of being without God?

is it possible to be in hell in this life then…as some are without God now?


The problem is that the Church teaches that there is no escape from Hell from what I understand.

Also, this would mean that the Catholic is in and out of Hell their whole life as they enter into mortal sin and then get absolved again and again.

I do not think such theories hold up to the Word of God at all.

so doesn’t the church teach one theory or the other…do they just let you decide?


According to the Catechism 1033: Hell.

'We cannot be united with God unless we freely choose to love him. But we cannot love God if we sin gravely against him, against our neighbor or against ourselves: “He who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.”

Our Lord warns us that we shall be separated from him if we fail to meet the serious needs of the poor and the little ones who are his brethren. To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God’s merciful love means remaining seperated from him forever by our own free choice.

This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called “hell.”’

Catechism 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.” The chief punishment of hell is eternal seperation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.

Interesting topic. As far as the Devil living in hell, Ven. Anna Emmerich wrote a little about this. She said that Satan was bound in hell when our Lord was crucified. And the church fathers if i’m not mistaken, understood Rev. 20 concerning the thousand year binding of Satan to be figurative not literal. Ven. Anna said Satan would be let lose from hell 50 or 60 years before the year 2000.

Interesting to ponder :slight_smile:

I think the answer is both (and the same goes for heaven): “hell” can refer to both a physical place and a state of existence. But since angels do not have bodies, it’s much more difficult to speak of them as being in a physical place in the way that we’re used to speaking of other physical objects. So even though an angel might be in hell (the state of existence), that does not prevent it also visiting and acting in this physical universe: when Gabriel came to visit Mary and Zechariah, he was not forced to leave heaven (the state of existence – perfect union with God) in order to do so; likewise with demons that come to roam the earth. And when we die, I’m pretty sure (someone can correct me if this is way off) that it’s a very similar situation with our souls: we would experience the state of existence only (even if we are in the physical place) until we are re-united with our physical bodies. And then yes, at the end of time, all of the angels and human beings who have rejected God will be permanently cast into Hell (the physical place), if they aren’t there already, to suffer additional punishments, and at least in the case of human beings, the experience of physical pain.

I don’t think so, not really, since God gives us until our deaths to repent and choose Him, and since properly entering into heaven or hell (the states of existence) and is irreversible. Once you have chosen to eternally accept or reject God, the decision is final (you would never even want to change your mind: those in heaven will love God too much to even think of leaving, and those in hell will hate Him so much that even the thought of being united with Him seems worse than the punishment that they are currently experiencing). The closest we can get in this life is being cut off from God through mortal sin, and while it is something like hell (at least in description), I don’t think it really even compares to how you would feel if you realized that you could not repent and have now made this decision for the rest of eternity. One of the biggest differences between a person in mortal sin and a person in hell is that the former can still repent, and I don’t think it’s exactly easy to understand just how big a difference that really is.

Hello Jedi,

May I ask…what is the source for what you say above?

Is it Catholic teaching or just your own opinion?

[quote=masterjedi747]Angels are pure spirit with pure intellect, such that when they made their decision at the beginning of time (to either choose or reject God for all eternity) they immediately entered into either heaven or hell.

“Is this the Region, this the Soil, the Clime” said then the Lost Archangel, "This the Seat That we must change for Heaven? This mournful gloom for that celestial light? Be it so, since He Who now is Sovran can dispose and bid What shall be right: farthest fom Him is best, Whom reason hath equaled, force had made supreme Above his Equals. Farewell, Happy Fields, Where Joy forever dwells!

Hail. horrors! Hail, Infernal World! And thou, profoundest Hell, Receive thy new Possessor- one who brings A mind not to be changed by Place or Time. The mind is its own place, and in itself Can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven. What matter where, if I be still the same? And what I should be, all but less than He Whom Thunder hath made greater?

Here at least We shall be free; He Almighty hath not built Here for his envy, will not drive us hence; Here we may reign secure, and, in my choice, To reign is worth ambition, though in Hell; Better to reign in Hell Than serve in Heaven.

~ Milton, Paradise Lost Bk 1

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