The Evangelical Universalist Forum

How is the gospel spread in hell?

I think your three points are just fine! (with the addition of Jason’s response, half of which I had not even thought of :slight_smile:) .
(Jason: thanks for your considerate language)

STP - The logical problem is this: we can agree on your three points, but it doesn’t follow that those points control the questions you asked.
Here’s something though: Where BETTER to share the Gospel, than in ‘hell’ (or gehenna, tartarus, sheol)?

There’s an interest article by Bob Thiel, Ph.D., that offers ample scriptural support, that salvation is offered post-mortem:

Universal Offer of Salvation: There Are Hundreds of Verses in the Bible Supporting the True Doctrine of Apocatastasis -
God will offer salvation to each and every person who has ever lived

Just a footnote on inclusivism and a footnote to the first point made by STP - just broaden your scope:

There are Protestant theologians that can argue this from scripture (I.e. An ‘evangelical inclusivist’ defends evangelical inclusivism and Why inclusivism makes sense) . A majority of Eastern Orthodox scholars agree with this (i.e. An Orthodox Christian View of Non-Christian Religions). And Roman Catholicism made this a tenet of their theology since Vatican II.

So for those of you who believe in postmortem opportunities to be saved, how is the gospel spread in hell? Besides Jesus going and preaching to the spirits in prison, which appears to be a past event, is there any biblical mention of an ONGOING witness to Jesus Christ in hell, pointing people to the way, the truth, and the life?

It’s possible that Romans is the sequel to Galatians (at least the early part) and may have been written primarily to the Jews who had a revelation about God.
I prefer the Lake of Fire which is where unbelievers end up to “hell” which is the type of word that is not really useful particularly biblically speaking. It is after all a pagan word.
In Rev 22.17 , five verses from the end of the bible is an invitation to everyone (whomsoever) from the “Spirit” and the “Bride” (believers) to come and drink from the water of life (Jesus), so it seems to me the “whomsoever” are those still left in the Lake of Fire. So for these folks to respond it seems they must have been preached to.

I won’t say too much due to the somewhat narrow evangelical-assumptive-laden “three points” raised, but to say that when I was an evangelical I always appreciated the logic of this witticism… “there are NO unbelievers in hell.” –– so it becomes a rather moot point. :laughing:

IMO Steve that is exactly the case, or at least in terms of first order. Religious Judaism had come to “suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” –– remember, Israel alone had “the living oracle of God” explicitly “manifest in themActs 7:38; Rom 1:18-19; 3:2; 9:4.

Again, we need to look at context and what the biblical commentaries say. See Revelation 22:11. What struck me as relevant here, is this:

Of course, I also welcome any alternative commentary from Jason (or anyone else here, for that matter).

And whom do I end up saying this to :question: :laughing:

Yeah, that’s the impression I’m getting, and probably my biggest hang-up about EU at this point. I certainly don’t have a problem with people making inferences from Scripture, but that seems to be a pretty big inference. If God is reconciling every individual to Himself, and if this happens through the preaching and receiving of the gospel, and if some have to go through hell because they had not heard about Jesus prior to their death, then I would expect at least some clear teaching about the gospel witness in hell.

I agree that the question I asked doesn’t necessarily follow from the three points, but it seems fair enough, right?

Concerning where better to share the gospel…I do see your point. I suppose that’s another fair question to ask. I think my question flows more from the points I named, but I suppose the points (or other points) could be formulated in such a way that naturally leads to your question more. But even if that’s so, I’m not sure simply raising the question about where better to share the gospel answers itself. That would still be a pretty big inference, in my opinion.

I haven’t read the whole article yet, but I did read the section titled, “The Bible Clearly Teaches that Those Gentiles Who Have Been Subject to Condemnation Will Have an Opportunity for Salvation,” as this section seemed to promise the type of Scriptural support I’m looking for. While the section quoted many verses which might be interpreted as referring to hope for the dead, I didn’t find any verses that specifically explain how that hope was passed to them (such a gospel witness, or even the Holy Spirit’s conviction).

I suppose the answer could be that even hell is God’s hell, and that the gospel will simply be clear to everyone there, urging them to repent. But if that’s the case, I would think that the Bible would somewhere say that.

Actually, I directly discussed the OT reference behind that saying, from Dan 12! The righteous and holy ones are called that because they instruct and lead the unrighteous into righteousness, purging them white as snow etc. They’ll keep on doing that, but the wicked won’t understand why the wicked have been raised to judgment and so will keep on doing wickedness. The thrust however isn’t that this is an equally balanced never-ending state of affairs, where the righteous instructors won’t be able to succeed in their goal (much less ever stop doing it, which would be tantamount to ceasing to be righteous!) Even in Rev 22:11, the verse sits smack in the middle of two strong sayings that are indisputably about evangelism! – and successful evangelism, too! What’s disputed is when this evangelism is taking place – I’m arguing it’s after the lake of fire judgment. (There are preterists, not necessarily also universalists, who would agree with that, but who regard the LoF as being only the fall of Jerusalem or something like that, and so not a post-mortem situation, or not necessarily so.)

But the placement of the saying between strong statements of evangelical duty and action, should show that it isn’t meant to deny successful evangelism, much less to deny evangelism at all. And the OT source for the saying, at the very least, confirms that evangelicals evangelize.

In other words, the saying is meant as a rhetorical contrast, not a command to the righteous (whose righteousness is absolutely connected to their leading of the unrighteousness to righteousness): let the unrighteous and the filthy keep on doing what they’re doing (i.e. fondling their sins), but the righteous and the holy shall keep on doing what they do (i.e. exhorting the unrighteous to wash themselves and slake their thirst in the freely given water of life flowing out of the never-closed gates of the NJ, and so obtain permission to enter into the city where they can eat and be healed by the tree of life.)

Yep! My exegetical case either way is very similar. In fact came to see a wide-ranging scriptural case for universal salvation by a disciplinary resolve to treat a scriptural case for soteriology by the same methods from which I arrive at trinitarian theism: if I’m putting together these and those things for this and that kind of reason which I regard as proper procedure, and arriving thereby at trinitarianism (and at a historical harmonization of the Gospels etc.), then on a subordinate topic of theology, such as soteriology, I ought to at least try the consistently use the same methods and see how well that works.

Non-trinitarians have much the same hang-ups about trinitarian theology, too. :wink: But we’re trinitarians anyway, because we think that’s what the various data pieces add up to.

(Also, I don’t think people go through hell for not having heard about Jesus prior to their deaths. The sheep in the judgment of the sheep and the goats are surprised to discover they’ve been serving Jesus all along, and they aren’t going into eonian kolasis whatever we should decide that means, they’re going into eonian life. The people in that scene going into the eonian fire prepared for the devil and his angels, were surprised to learn they hadn’t been serving Jesus.)

And you’re willing to at least consider at least one such place being tolerably clear; why not two, per the end of RevJohn? – or three, from a chapter earlier, where the kings of the earth are following the light of Christ into the never-closed gates of the NJ? Or four, from slain rebel Israel / Ephraim repenting and being restored to righteous surviving Rachel in the first half of Jer 31?

But on the other hand, a whole other school of universalism, which we call ultra-universalism around here, takes the disputable paucity of what we might call narrative descriptions of post-mortem repentance and salvation, to mean that people are cured post-mortem, with no repentance of sin strictly necessary prior to salvation (only after the fact).

Well, as Universalists, we do not believe in “Hell” in the conventional way.

So, I picture that we have a ‘talk’ with God, we give our side, He discusses it with us.

Then, it is decided where we are going: intensity, duration, and so forth. When we have accomplished what is needed for either our ‘next phase’ or our ‘release’ from that step, the next one will be decided, with God.

So, no need to ‘preach in Hell’. All the ‘talking’ will be done, a plan decided, then the plan will be implemented. Then, whatever the next stage is, will be decided, but not before another ‘discussion’.

That is how I picture it.


I also agree that Bob is demonstrating the possibility. So I couldn’t be an actual universalist - just a hopeful one. But I would say that postmortem salvation is possible. It’s not God i lack faith in - but mankind. But I proceed with certainty on:

The metaphorical view of heaven and hell in scripture
The Eastern Orthodox view of heaven and hell, being states in the presences of God
The conditional immortality and loss of the image of God views, regarding the fate of the un-redeemed
The inclusive view of God’s grace, being opened up to more in Christ
I still run with the Purgatorial Conditionalist view - being the most plausible - within the context of the above points

Anyway, a Japanese Christian clergy member has an interesting article at Salvation for the Dead -Hades is not Hell- Biblical Second Chance Theology for Dead People in Hades. So why can’t Christians (whether by explicit belief or inclusion) now be in heaven and non-Christians in Hades? There are changes to still be saved. And judgement need not be an actual event - but God becoming all in all and how we experience God’s love (as the Eastern Orthodox believe). Those who don’t make it experience a second death or annihilation {as those who embrace conditional immortality believe). Let me quote from it:

Oh, great :exclamation: A perfect cure for the philosophical Zombie problem. :exclamation: :laughing:

As an ultra-universalist, allow me to state what I believe on this score:

  1. Before Christ’s death on the cross, every human being who died lapsed into a state of unconsciousness.

  2. When Christ died, He descended into the grave and freed everyone therein, leading them up to Heaven. This was instantaneous. The splendor of Christ’s Godhead obliterated both death and the sinfulness of all those who had died before He died.

  3. Ever since then, when a human being dies, his soul immediately goes into Christ’s glorious presence in Heaven, and the splendor of His Godhead instantly obliterates his sinfulness. (This does not exclude repentance, and it does not exclude free will. It’s just that everything happens so swiftly that it is difficult to distinguish all the things that happen in that instant.) I do not think this is all that different from what typical Evangelicals believe happens to the soul of a saved Christian when he dies–he goes straight to Heaven and is instantly made sinless. I simply extend that to every single person.

I hope that helps! :slight_smile:

P-Zombie Solution

The P-Zombie solution (a name I came up with) is where folks lose the image of God in them. But they exist in some kind of exile. They are not tortured. But they are not helped by God either. And this doesn’t necessary mean they are sub-human. This is a popular solution with folks like the Anglican bishop and new testament scholar NT Wright. And also Protestant Christian clergy authors like Timothy Keller and Joshua Ryan Butler (i.e. their books are on Amazon)


Probably the unsaved are in Hades and how they are ministered to, is a fusion of:

The Japanese Christian clergy member has an interesting article at Salvation for the Dead -Hades is not Hell- Biblical Second Chance Theology for Dead People in Hades
The visions of Old Catholic Church mystic and stigimia bearer in What Happens When We Die – Before and Three Weeks After

Let me briefly quote from the Japanese clergy member’s article:

However - based upon the visions of Tiffany Snow - it appears one in Hades can go to God immediately - if they accept what God has to offer!

“Gehenna” is the Valley of Hinnom. It is a literal valley within a few minutes’ easy walk of Jerusalem. This valley has nothing to do with what happens to people when they die.

I would not classify myself as a preterist, though I do think that sometimes the preterists make some good points.

The proper interpretation of the book of Revelation is very non-obvious. Even people who otherwise agree on all points of theology will often have widely different and contradictory views of the book of Revelation. As such, I pretty much ignore it. Its meaning is too uncertain as to use any text within it as a proof of any doctrine. (I’m in good company in this. The Orthodox Church also ignores the book of Revelation. It is the one New Testament book that is not ever read from in a church service.) All that said, my hunch is that Eugenio Corsini (in The Apocalypse: The Perennial Revelation of Jesus Christ) is on the right track with the interpretation of the book of Revelation. He basically holds that it is a record of what happened before Christ’s first coming, culminating with His Ascension into Heaven in A. D. 30. It doesn’t have anything to do with the future.

Thanks for the questions! :slight_smile:

In Rev 22.17 , five verses from the end of the bible is an invitation to everyone (whomsoever) from the “Spirit” and the “Bride” (believers) to come and drink from the water of life (Jesus), so it seems to me the “whomsoever” are those still left in the Lake of Fire. So for these folks to respond it seems they must have been preached to.
steve7150 Posts: 454Joined: Sun Dec 29, 2013 6:01 am

Also The Lord said he will judge the people “with his truth” Ps 96.13 so that means everyone must hear this truth and clearly in this life that has not happened.
So in Rev 20.12 it says “And I saw the dead, small and great stand before God and the books were opened and another book was opened which is the book of life, and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books , according to their works.”

The “works” of people are mentioned separate from these books that were opened so it must be a connection of some kind between the “works” of the judged to what is in the books and in Psalm 96.13 it said God would judge “with his truth.” So the truth must be in these books and therefore these books may be the gospels or the bible itself being preached as truth to unbelievers who will shortly be in the LOF. Why would this be preached to them, so that they may be judged knowing the truth going forward.

I see the lake of fire as being immersed in/held in the light of God’s glory until every hidden thing is brought to light, until light overcomes darkness and all is light- until every knee has bowed and every tongue confessed, until every adversary is subjected, until death is done away with, untill God is “all in all”.

light is fire to darkness. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it.

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. 2 Cor 4

And on this mountain He will swallow up the covering which is over all peoples,
Even the veil which is stretched over all nations.
He will swallow up death for all time,
And the Lord God will wipe tears away from all faces, Isaiah 25

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, 23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel. Heb 12

Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? If the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts? 3Do you not know that we will judge angels? 1 Cor 6

The gospel is “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ”. I believe the lake of fire is the Hebrews 12 congregation of saints and angels… noting that Hebrews 12 ends with the words, “for our God is a consuming fire” and verses like, “know you not the saints will judge the world?”… I wouldnt present it as doctrine but I think there is evidence that the great assembly is the lake of fire in the age to come…In Revelations all those who receive the mark of the beast are “tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of God and all His holy angels”(Rev 14:10)

I think there is only one fire. The saints shine in it and the wicked gnash their teeth and squirm in it until they repent.

If I am correct the lake of fire is an intense experience of the presence of God, that presence will torment the wicked until they repent before the beauty of Christ crucified. They will not escape until they have “paid the last penny”.

The text that resolves the issue for me is 2 Peter 3:9 which says ( Strong’s definitions included) ,

’ The Lord is not (Gk= ‘ou’= not, none, nothing) slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not (Gk= ‘me’= not, not at all, none at all ) willing ( Gk= ‘boúlomai’ =“resolutely plan”,planning for, intending, ) for anyone (Gk= ‘tis’= anyone at all ) to perish, but everyone (Gk =‘pantas’ = all, everyone) to come to repentance’.

The Greek word ‘boulomai’ is a very strong term according to Strongs and means, in the strongest language possible, that God is ‘resolutely planning’ for all to come to repentance, which results in salvation.

What God ‘resolutely plans’, MUST happen.

Therefore ALL will ultimately be redeemed.

The actual mechanics of it, how it will exactly come about…I do not really know, although there are ‘hints’ in the Bible about how this Universal Reconciliation will take place…but how can we know exactly how God will redeem all ?..I / we are not almighty God…but HE knows how He will ultimately redeem the entire human race…I, we, just need to trust His word and the fact that He WILL do it…we need to truly believe that ‘all things are possible with God’.

This text can save much time searching scripture for ever more texts supporting UR because according to 2 Peter 3:9 it’s a done deal.God has said it, we must believe it.

The Bible PLAINLY states Jesus Christ is the savior of ALL men, of ALL people.
‘For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe’.1 Timothy 4:10*

In their efforts to prove Jesus does not save ALL, ‘eternal hellists’ will try to make “especially” and “exclusively” mean the same thing. That’s where the dictionary definition will show, along with examples, that ‘especially’ is an inclusive word by nature. Another defense is that they’ll say that Jesus is the Savior of the world in terms of potential but not in results. That can be challenged in myriad ways. Doesn’t mean they’ll listen though.

I did a quick word study on ‘malista’, the Greek word Paul uses which means ‘especially’…Paul NEVER uses ‘malista’ in the sense of something being ‘exclusive’.

Paul’s use of the Greek word ‘malista’ (English meaning=‘especially’)

Galatians 6:10
Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
Philippians 4:22
All God’s people here send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar’s household.
1 Timothy 5:8
Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
1 Timothy 5:17
The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.
2 Timothy 4:13
When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls,** especially** the parchments.
Titus 1:10
For there are many rebellious people, full of meaningless talk and deception, **especially **those of the circumcision group.
Philemon 1:16
no more as a servant, but above a servant – a brother beloved, **especially **to me, and how much more to thee, both in the flesh and in the Lord!

so how can ‘malista’ in 1 Timothy 4:10 possibly be meant in the ‘exclusive’ sense ?.

1 Timothy 4:10
For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.

The ‘eternal hellists’ are being patently absurd. By saying that in 1 Tim 4:10 the word ‘especially’(‘malista’) is meant in the exclusive sense, they are in effect saying that Paul has contradicted himself, has contradicted his use of ‘malista’ in all the other Pauline passages where it is plainly used in an inclusive sense.The ‘ECT crowd’ are clutching at straws.

He who acts unjustly, let him act unjustly still. He who is filthy, let him be filthy still. He who is righteous, let him do righteousness still. He who is holy, let him be holy still.”
(World English Bible)

That clearly seems to suggest the saved shouldn’t try to save the lost.

‘That clearly seems to suggest the saved shouldn’t try to save the lost’ ?..seems’ ? doesn’t at all say that, IMO…the ‘saved’ cant ‘save’…it’s God who ‘saves’…it’s God who’ll get all the glory of saving people…
if anything, this verse proves that we humans should not worry and strive too much over impenitent sinners…ultimately, God will look after them as He does us all…He will deal with their sin.

God is the facilitator. We are just witnesses. We can only bear witness to what we have seen. We can only see what he has shown us.Whatever we do we do freely, out of love, and those are the works that shine and abide. Trust God and walk. Pay attention and listen and watch for opportunities to serve. Do what ya can and be humble when ya fail.

Always be ready to give a defense for the hope that is in you.

Come Quickly Lord Jesus.