If Heaven is eternal Helll has to be as well?


I was reading a mailer that a local congregation mails out and they tried to refute universalism
of course they sited passages mentioning “eternal” hell and what not

but the part that caught my attention was the last paragraph


“Hell must be eternal, if it weren’t heaven couldn’t be eternal either”
of course they did not give any passages to back that up


They are probably citing Matthew 25:46 where the same word is used to describe the destiny of the sheep and the goats.


That is interesting, I’ve never seen a church feel the need to address universalism. Could this be a good sign that we are on the radar?

What makes the most sense to me is that if God’s love, desire to restore us, is endless ,then sin and it’s effects cannot triumph endlessly. If God is working to defeat the one (sin), uphold the other (restoration), then an endless hell defeats God’s purpose.

There are all kinds of verses to site, but depending on one’s paradigm, belief about what God can/cannot do or what his purpose is, we’ll understand the verses differently and, in their case, limit God’s faithfulness and love.


There are a number of responses to this proposition. A lot seem to depend on what the Greek word “aionios” actually means (usually translated “eternal”)? e.g. “lasting”, “of God”, “an age of”, etc.

Both Talbott’s book and MacDonald’s book discuss this commonly used passage and so do many places on this forum. e.g. Talbott on Matthew 25:41, 46?

It’s a good question and one we need to think about. Personally, in that passage, I think it’s not an trying to say that Hell & Heaven are of infinite duration. Instead I see other passages showing me that the New Earth/Heaven will be a place without death, rust or decay, so I take that to mean it will be infinite. Anyway, I see the duration of it as far less important, than the quality of it. i.e. we will finally be in perfect relationship with God! :mrgreen: Unfortunately, as “Eternal Life”, with the modern emphasis on the duration, is such a popular slogan, it’s had for people to see it any other way :frowning:


Concerning Matthew 25:46, the mistake is in translating “αἰωνιος” as “eternal”.

Having looked the word up in secular and other sources, I have concluded that the best English translation of the adjective is “lasting”. One secular source used it as part of a description of a stone wall. Also, the Jewish historian Josephus, used the word in reference to the length of the prison sentence of a person called “Jonathan”. It has been said that that it was a 3-year sentence… hardly “eternal”. Though the word doesn’t mean “eternal” it sometimes is used in reference to that which is eternal. There is a Greek word, “αἰδιος”, which does mean “eternal”. The word occurs in Romans 1:20 with reference to God’s “eternal power and deity”. If Matthew had understood Jesus to refer to “eternal punishment” and “eternal life” in Matthew 25:46, why did he choose the Greek adjective “αἰωνιος”? Why did he not choose “αἰδιος”?

Besides, the word “κολασις” should not have been translated as “punishment”, but rather as “correction”. The adjectival form of the word was originally used of pruning plants to correct their growth. Later, the word began to be used figuratively in connection with correcting people. Undergoing “eternal correction” does not make sense. How can you undergo the correction process eternally? You would never arrive at the stage where your correction was complete.

As I see it, Matthew 25:46 should be translated like this:

“These [people who would not serve Christ by serving others] will go away into lasting correction, but the righteous into lasting life.”

The word “αἰωνιος” may be used to describe eternal things as well as temporal things. The word itself does not have any inherent meaning of either “eternal” or “temporary”.


Hello Paidion,
Isn’t it true that some scholars in the traditional camp claim that “kolasis” came to be known as a retributive form of punishment, not corrective?