The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Universalism and the Salvation of Satan

Monday, May 19, 2008

Must a universalist believe that Satan will be saved?

Not necessarily. A universalist could believe that God will save all humans but perhaps not fallen angels. We could call that ‘human universalism’.

But it has been pointed out that the logic of the arguments that I employ in chapter 1 of my book would entail a more radical conclusion - that God will redeem all fallen creatures, both human and angelic. Let’s call this ‘radical universalism’. So the question then becomes, “Does Gregory MacDonald believe that Satan will be saved?”

I confess to being agnostic on the issue. Agnostic not because the logic of my arguments is not clear but because I am not sure what to think about the Devil.

Is the Devil a personal being? Suppose that he is (perhaps he is a fallen angel, although Scripture never spells out his origins). If Satan was once a good spiritual person who was later corrupted then the logic of my position is indeed that God could and would redeem him. There are two problems with this and both are big.

  1. Scripture indicates otherwise (Rev 20)
  2. the Christian tradition is clear that Satan will not be redeemed (indeed, contrary to popular opinion, not even Origen claimed that Satan would be saved).
    The only way that I can think to get out of this bind is to suggest that Lucifer (the good being created by God) will be saved but that Satan (the name for Lucifer-as-corrupted) will be destroyed. This is analogous to the way that God destroys our old natures in Christ and makes us new creations. If anyone is in Christ - new creation! Old things have passed away and all things have become new. Satan is dead. Long live Lucifer. But, I freely confess, this is very speculative and it is not what I actually believe.

Suppose then that Satan is not actually a personal being at all. Suppose that he is a personification of evil or, more plausibly, some kind of epiphenomena supervening on human evil (individual and social). I am thinking along the lines of Walter Wink here. On this view of Satan then even a radical universalist such as myself would insist that Satan cannot be saved. Indeed, quite the opposite! Satan must be purged from the created order in order for there to be radical, cosmic redemption.

If you have thoughts on this difficult topic please do post a comment.
Posted by Gregory MacDonald at 9:23 AM
James F. McGrath said…
I’m not inclined to think there is a personal being named “Satan”, but if there were, the idea that such a being would be “beyond redemption” seems problematic from a Christian perspective.

I noted on my blog some time ago how strange it is that stories such as the Ramayana or Star Wars seem to treat the possibility of redeeming even one who has turned to evil more seriously than Christians do in this case.

May 19, 2008 10:46 AM

Anonymous said…
Here is a link that has a good perspective on it.


May 20, 2008 8:04 AM
Jason Pratt said…
Well, I believe in the existence of rebel supernatural entities, and that at any given time there must be (at least one {g}) Greatest Rebel, so while I’m not particular about names I would agree there’s a Satan.

The hope I have for myself is the same hope I have for him.

Is his salvation testified to in scripture? I find that the hope of it is (“reconciling all things to Himself whether in the heavens or the earth”, among other places); and if I can believe (which I easily can) that those in the lake of fire judgment can still be saved from sin by God, Who will continually persist at this, then that would go for Satan, the Beast and the False Prophet, too. We’ve been told they will be there for the eons of the eons, but that isn’t the same as being hopeless about their salvation.

Moreover, there is imagery earlier in RevJohn testifying to the hope of the reclamation of those in the Abyss–for in one place it talks of there being no more sea (I take this to mean the emptying of hades per se at the resurrection of the dead), and yet in another place it speaks of the sea before the throne of God being smooth and clear as glass, i.e. at peace. The sea, in Jewish religious thought (and RevJohn is steeped in Jewish apocalyptic thought), typically represents the prison of the evil, chaotic rebel gods.

Another interesting bit of testimony of hope in favor of Satan’s salvation, can be pieced together from the book of Job. Job’s torment, though instigated by “the Satan”, is permitted by YHWH for a particular reason stated by YHWH in the prologue of the story: so that “the Satan” may regard Job (a verb that is connected to learning.) Not incidentally, Job and his friends are quite sure that Leviathan, one of the primordial rebel dragons subdued by God and imprisoned in the sea, has no hope of being anything other than a loser rebel. But when God shows up to contend with Job, God points out that He has intentions not only to subdue Leviathan and Behemoth (i.e. Bahamut, another cosmic-dragon entity), but to tame them, bringing them back into the fold (so to speak), and even making covenant with them.

Another scriptural hint in this direction involves how Jesus treats demons, sometimes: He will command them to “phimeroo” (in Greek), which can mean several things. I was always partial to “be strangled”, myself. {g} “Shut up!” would work as a colloquial meaning. But–it can also mean “be muzzled”.

So yes, scripturally I find hints scattered around here and there (perhaps most importantly in RevJohn) that I can even have hope, in God, for Satan. At the very least, I can trust God to keep trying to save even Satan from sin–just like I can trust God to never give up on me. {s}


May 20, 2008 12:41 PM
Anonymous said…
I am an agnostic when it comes to the question of whether satan and the demons are “personal” and what that might mean, although I lean towards James view. If he (?) is a personal being, I agree with James that his being beyond redemption is problematic, since we are promised that God shall be all in all and that everything will be reconciled to God.

Jason. What about the beast in Revelation. Do you think that the beast too is a person? I think the easiest way to understand the beast with the background of Daniel is to view it as the Roman empire or some aspect thereof. And if this is the case, this might point in the direction of a non-personal satan too.
/Jonas Lundström

May 20, 2008 1:24 PM
Jason Pratt said…

While the “wild beast” could be typographically understood as Imperial Rome, perhaps, in some places in RevJohn, there are other places where he seems identified (via “the number of the beast” which is explicitly mentioned to be that of a man) as Nero Caesar. Be that as it may, multiple typography is normal in canonical apocryphal prophecy, both OT and NT.

More to the point, the last we see of the “wild beast” in RevJohn, he (or it) is in the lake of fire and sulphur, where “they” (the beast, the false prophet and the Adversary) shall be tormented day and night into the eons of the eons.

Not much point tormenting a derivative abstraction like “an Empire”! (Though there might be some point tormenting citizens or members of an Empire, because those are persons.) Had the beast, here, represented a concept or state, such as “hades” and “death”, it would make more sense for it to have been destroyed (like hades and death) by being thrown in the lake. (That goes for a Winkian Satan, too: what’s the point of tormenting an epiphenomena supervening on human misbehavior, again?? Is that even possible in principle?! Sounds like a category error to me.)

So in the portion of scripture Gregory was concerned with, Rev 20, the Big Nasty Three rebels are treated as (duh) rebel persons, like the other rebel persons who were thrown in the lake of fire and sulphur. (Sulphur was the ancient form of medicine for curing infection, of course. {wry g})

If we have hope in God for one set of rebel person, we can have hope in God for the other set. Which I think everyone here agrees with in principle–the main question being whether there’s any scriptural indication of that hope for rebel angel/gods. (Or Roguents as I like to call them in my novels. {g})


May 20, 2008 3:37 PM
Anonymous said…
Jason. Thanks. I am open to your argument, I will think about it.

May 21, 2008 2:20 AM
Jason Pratt said…
Btw, Greg, Chris over at Chrisendom has put up a new entry quoting the end of your book (as a counterpoint, perhaps, to Chris’ frankly rather bizarre dismissal of the judgment of the sheep and the goats. That’s the next entry down.)


May 21, 2008 9:43 AM
Edward T. Babinski said…
Hi Jason,
You seem to be stretching the idea of “no more sea,” though I totally agree with you that the sea was considered a place of monsters in the O.T., like Rahab, and that Yahweh is described blowing his windy breath or spirit over it at creation, or in the case of the Exodus it is split by his windy breath, or Yawheh is described elsewhere attacking the sea, and in Ezekiel a monster is said to lay at the heart of the sea (a metaphor for an evil king I think).

But I don’t think you can make much of a case for the salvation of Satan (or for universalism) out of the sea’s absence as you seem to suppose.

I think the absence of the sea in Rev. can also be understood as the absence of primeval waters, such at those that overwhelmed creation during the Flood, and I think the ancients imagined their cosmos surrounded by cosmic waters above and below. (As for such flat earth imagery carrying over into first century Palestine see the book of Enoch and it’s blatantly flat earth view of the cosmos, written a century of so before the N.T.)

I also see a difficulty in making much of the lack of a sea in Rev. when there are more explicit verses in Rev. such as people being “cast into a lake of fire whose smoke rises forever,” which suggests either eternal torment or annihilationism, not universalism. Though I’m sure some universalists might want to argue that it refers to a refiner’s fire. Still, the games one can play with words and metaphors and pictures.

I tend to view the N.T.'s apocalyptic and eschatological imagery as being derived from the O.T. and intertestamental period (the latter being the period when talk about “Satan’s” role expanded, and demons and angels started being named, and the idea of eternal torment – as in the book of Daniel, a work completed during the intertestamental period – began to outpace the idea that everyone merely went to one and the same place, i.e., Sheol).

So, Jesus and the Gospel authors were men of their time, using such apocalyptic words and imagery that had arisen just before their time, and hence their views are no more necessarily accurate concerning the afterlife than the views of the O.T. Jews were who believed everyone went to Sheol.

As for what can be said about the afterlife today we have merely anecdotes from say, people who have had NDEs, and their experiences vary quite a lot. Including a Buddhist from Thailand who met a talking turtle god. While most NDEs involve no deities at all, but mostly involve a white light or sometimes meeting beings of some sort often identified as simply people. Meetings with divine beings who are recognized by name are far rarer among NDEs.

And of course some doubt that the Near Death Experience has anything to do with an afterlife.

May 26, 2008 6:45 AM
Jason Pratt said…

Since “the sea” oftens refers in Jewish religious imagery to the prison of chaotic rebels against God, and continues to do so in the NT religious imagery (even if not quite as prevalently), I think it’s worth testing the identification in RevJohn to see how well it fits. Certainly RevJohn features the sea/swirling depths (i.e. “abyss”) as the home of rebel chaotic monsters, too; so the connection is hardly foreign to the text. Moreover, the “no more sea” interpretation fits directly into the “no more hades” concept later in RevJohn.

If I thought it was much of a stretch, I probably wouldn’t even be talking publicly about it. {s}

{{But I don’t think you can make much of a case for the salvation of Satan (or for universalism) out of the sea’s absence as you seem to suppose.}}

I don’t think I’m making as much of a case for the salvation fo Satan (or for universalism) out of the sea’s absence as you seem to suppose. {g} It’s more of an interesting side-observation; it adds a bit of inductive confirmation, for anyone who respects the texts, but I hardly need it.

{{I think the absence of the sea in Rev. can also be understood as the absence of primeval waters}}

Certainly; that’s how I understood it myself for years. But that’s far from excluding the further meaning.

{{when there are more explicit verses in Rev. such as people being “cast into a lake of fire whose smoke rises forever,” which suggests either eternal torment or annihilationism}}

Annihilationism would be ruled out as a meaning by the subsequent results in the final chapter–the sinners there are hardly in any state of annihilation. Moreover, ‘eternal’ torment (in the sense you’re using ‘eternal’) is similarly ruled out by the continuing hope of their salvation in the final chapter. At the same time, there is something being obviously “annihilated” by being thrown into the lake of fire: death and ‘hades’. But that makes good enough poetic sense, in talking about the resurrection of the wicked as well as the good: can’t have a res of the good and the evil without the death of death-and-hades.

The smoke rising up “forever” is more specifically rising up “into the eon”. Not necessarily the same thing as what translators typically mean by “forever” (though it could be that, too.) It ought to be obvious, though, that the smoke is a change-result brought about by the fire, and that this smoke is rising to God. (It is even specifically compared to incense.)

The question of what this means has to depend on what is true about the character of God; not the other way around. People have been in a habit of interpreting it in much the same fashion as they’ve been in a habit of rendering “shepherding” as “ruling” in chapter 19.

{{Though I’m sure some universalists might want to argue that it refers to a refiner’s fire.}}

Pretty much, yeah; not least because the same refiner’s-fire imagery is not uncommon in the scriptures in talking about those whom God is acting toward saving from sin.

{{Still, the games one can play with words and metaphors and pictures.}}

Which is why I don’t base my conclusion primarily on the words and metaphors and pictures. Nevertheless, I’d be being irresponsible if I didn’t check to see if the imagery could feasibly support the notion.

{{So, Jesus and the Gospel authors were men of their time, using such apocalyptic words and imagery that had arisen just before their time}}

And it’s impossible that they were using the words and imagery for different purposes? Or that the different purposes could be more accurate or in some way better?

I think it’s pretty obvious that they weren’t only doing what came before, whether in regard to the testamental or intertestamental periods. Still, there’d be a strong cultural pressure pushing back toward earlier meanings, too; especially insofar as the authors are routinely advocating respect for the texts that came before them.


May 27, 2008 8:49 AM
joel said…
The possibility, though not certainty, of Satan’s salvation was an element of Christian tradition among the Greek Fathers Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, and Maximos the Confessor. See e.g. the extensive discussion here:

May 27, 2008 5:58 PM
Gregory MacDonald said…

Thanks for that link


May 31, 2008 12:39 PM
qraal said…
Another perspective is that “Satan” is doing a job - that of testing weak-willed humans - and eventually will be finished in that role. Thus Satan isn’t ‘evil’ as such. That’s the view in “The Clementine Recognitions” so it’s an old viewpoint.

June 7, 2008 4:48 PM
James Goetz said…
Gregory, I’m convinced that Satan will eventually repent while God will graciously reconcile with Satan. And as I wrote in my blog article Orthodoxy and Gregory of Nyssa’s Universalism, 1 Peter 3:18-20 teaches that Christ preached the gospel to fallen incarnate angels in hell so we have a biblical precedent for the possible redemption of fallen angels.

August 13, 2008 5:26 PM

I think you’re spot on!

Am I right in my recollection that Talbott sees it that lucifer will be reconcile while Satan is destroyed? I thought I read something of that notion in his book? Perhaps when he’s ready to come on he might give some insight.

Whoever or whatever Satan is he/it seems to me in the Bible to be fairly clearly shown to be an agent of God; very firmly under God’s control and has a role to play in the cosmic and earthly drama (for reasons best known to God - all 3 of them :wink: ). I can’t see any good reason for Satan (if that is a person as opposed to a concept of evil) not to be reconciled.

As for Lucifer/Satan I know many people don’t believe the former fell to become the latter.

1 Like

There’s that to be considered, too. The OT book of Job has perhaps the most nuanced presentation of Satan/Leviathan in the Bible.

If he/it is simply (i.e. knowingly, willingly, and obediently?) playing a God-assigned role, would there not seem little reason for him/it to be “tormented unto the age of ages”?

Jason Pratt said

Gregory of Nyssa (who surely counts as something in the history of the Church, being named a “doctor of the Church,” “The flower of Orthodoxy” and “father of fathers” by eccumenical council) certainly agreed with you Jason.

We certainly believe, both because of the prevailing opinion, and still more of Scripture teaching, that there exists another world of beings besides, divested of such bodies as ours are, who are opposed to that which is good and are capable of hurting the lives of men, having by an act of will lapsed from the nobler view, and by this revolt from goodness personified in themselves the contrary principle; and this world is what, some say, the Apostle adds to the number of the “things under the earth,” signifying in that passage that when evil shall have been some day annihilated in the long revolutions of the ages, nothing shall be left outside the world of goodness, but that even from those evil spirits shall rise in harmony the confession of Christ’s Lordship.

(On the Soul and the Resurrection)

He (Christ) accomplished all the results before mentioned, freeing both man from evil, and healing even the introducer of evil himself. For the chastisement, however painful, of moral disease is a healing of its weakness.

(The Great Catechism, ch. XXVI)

As to the whole question of freewill vs. Providence, I don’t see them as mutually exclussive concepts (and I suppose that makes me a Mollinist, though I was unfamiliar with the term until I read Gregory MacDonald’s book.)

Thanks for those quotes, Michael. I was going to post the one from St. Gregory of Nyssa’s Great Catechism, but you beat me to it! :mrgreen:

John in Revelation is looking at the new earth-the recreated earth that Lucifer has destroyed by us using his principles-the law of greed. If you look at the picture the Jews were given of the earth at creation the firmament was sandwiched between water. The fountains of the deep and a layer of water in the highest level of our atmosphere. At the time of the flood the fountains of the deep were released and now are our present day oceans. The layer of water in the upper most layer was destroyed by the jettisoned steam that was coming from the core of the earth.

On the sixth day of creation God looked on the earth and said everything was very good. If everything was very good there obviously have been dramatic changes since the time of the flood. If everything was very good at creation radio-active materials could not have been on the surface of the earth. They cause cancer and can be used by man to destroy the planet many times over. If however the radio-active materials and our oceans were in the core everything would indeed be very good.

The decay of the R.A. materials would heat the fountains of the deep producing steam which would heat and water the entire planet from below. We store spent R.A. materials in caves because the granite walls contain the radioactivity. So the granites in the mantle would not allow radioactivity to the surface. When oil wells are first opened, they gush because they are under tremendous pressure. After a while the pressure is reduced and drillers then force steam through the granite mantle to force the remaining oil out. So everything I stated would have been physically possible.

If God created the world to be inhabited as he states the oceans are huge wastes of space. Again if they are under the mantle in the core they serve a purpose that is indeed very good. We need water for plants but the steam forced through the granites would have been a far superior way of doing it. Now we either can get too much and have floods or to little and have droughts. The rain packs the soil and splashes micro-organisms onto the plants causing diseases. If the oceans were in the core and were heated by the R.A. material the entire earth would have had the same temperature and constant access to moisture as God said “very good”. The Bible does say mist came up from the earth and watered the whole surface.

The layer of water around the earth in the upper level of the atmosphere would have been solid ice or ice crystals. Either way it would have been super cold water at that elevation. Super cold water acts as a magnet. Since the earth is a magnet they would have repulsed each other. God created gravity which would have offset the repulsion and kept the layer in place. Having a layer of ice in the upper level of our atmosphere would have filtered out all x-rays which destroy cells, gamma rays and UV which cause cancer and cell mutations. So before the flood very good, after, not so much.

If the R.A. materials would have started to increase past the rate God had set them the fountains of the deep would have caused excess steam which would have finally fractured the earth releasing the fountains of the deep and causing it to rain for forty days as the steam cooled and came back to the earth. If you overheat an egg in a micro-wave it will jerk violently just prior to shattering. Our earth is at a 28 degree angle which causes hot and cold areas from the uneven heating of the surface. This causes wind patterns. The wind over Northern Africa blows continually from the east and acts like a blast furnace killing vegetation at the western edge of the Sahara. The desert is still expanding. And determining the rate of expansion its age can be determined, which corresponds to what the Bible says is the time of the flood. The meeting of cold and hot areas is what causes all our severe weather. Hurricanes, tornadoes and violent thunderstorms are all a consequence of the earth’s tilt. So before the flood very good and after not so much.

2 PETER 3 : 7 “By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.”

The fountains of the deep are no longer in the core so if the R.A. materials would again overheat it would not blow at 212 degrees as the first time. This time it would continue until the solid materials became vapor which would mean thousands of degrees.

2 PETER 3 :10 "But the day of the Lord will come like a thief! The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.

If you investigate radio-active materials on the net you will see that they estimate that they cause about 80% of the heat generated in the core.

Here is the kicker. In May of 2012 Purdue reported that the decay rate of all materials has started to increase. Their findings have been verified by a number of other schools. I also heard two news reports on mind studies. In one case they concentrated on positive and negative thoughts while freezing water. The positive thoughts caused no change, but the negative thought caused the ice to be cloudy and a strange crystaline structure. The other study said they changed the decay rate of a material when they concentrated on negative thoughts.

At the flood God said man’s thoughts were evil continually. If you read the description that Paul gives of the endtime in 2 Timothy 3 : 1 it is a very good definition of what God said it was at the flood. God says (Zec 4:6 & 1 John 5:6) that he does nothing by might nor power but by the truth. So if he is demonstrating to the universe the defects in the law of greed compared to the law of love would he be grieved he created us, not mad but sad if they were suffering as mankind is today? If this is a demonstration to prove Lucifer’s accusations wrong no one has to die eternally. But to prove what happens if you follow the law of greed some might have to explode on this planet as part of the demonstration. If God raises everyone prior to the earth being destroyed as the Bible states, what happens to those who have believed what the churches teach about a God of wrath. Would they run in fear? Would they die the second death in a lake of fire?

Perhaps Satan and his angels (beast & false prophet) will be tormented day and night forever and ever. While wicked humans are thrown into the eternal Lake Of Fire they don’t stay there forever. They are purified. How do I know? Because the Bible says God is the Savior of all people - especially them that believe. He desires all to be saved and is not willing that any should perish and the God of the Bible always accomplishes His purposes.

What about the Book Of Life?

The Book of the living in the Old Testament is different from the Book of Life in the New. If you will notice in the Bible when God regenerates someone it will sometimes mention that He changes their name. Well, based on this we can see that the people in the Lake Of Fire receive a new name after they are purified. It is this name that was written in the Book Of Life from the foundation of the world.

Most of us define God as the ground and source of all being.

And C.S. Lewis (a mere man) said “…there is a difficulty about disagreeing with God. He is the source from which all your reasoning power comes: you could not be right and He wrong any more than a stream can rise higher than it’s own source. When you are arguing against Him you are arguing against the very power that makes you able to argue at all: it is like cutting off the branch you are sitting on.”
(Mere Christianity, pg. 48.)

If this is the true definition of God, and Satan and his angels know Him as the ground and source of all being, wouldn’t they know that nothing they do could possibly thwart His purposes, and that all their efforts must end up serving His plan?

Why then would they bother fighting God, tempting men, planting false doctrines in the Church, planing and sceeming, etc.?

And doesn’t James 2:19 imply that they do in fact know that there is a Supreme Being who is the ground and source of all being?

**Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. **

If they know that, and they have even average human intelligence, wouldn’t they know that they’re wasting their time?

“Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven” ?

Except that it isn’t better to reign in hell than serve in heaven in God’s estimation, and if they had even the human intelligence of C.S. Lewis, wouldn’t they have to know that He’s right and they’re wrong?

That (as C.S. Lewis said) “…there is a difficulty about disagreeing with God. He is the source from which all your reasoning power comes: you could not be right and He wrong any more than a stream can rise higher than it’s own source. When you are arguing against Him you are arguing against the very power that makes you able to argue at all: it is like cutting off the branch you are sitting on”?

If he/it is simply (i.e. knowingly, willingly, and obediently?) playing a God-assigned role, would there not seem little reason for him/it to be “tormented unto the age of ages”?

I think the greek word translated as “tormented” was also used to mean “refine” as in refining something into a precious metal. I think that most likely Satan was always Satan.
There are some verses that seem to say that “creation” will be reconciled to God.

So, in your view, Satan is a faithful servant just consciously doing a job that someone has to do, and that God gave him?

Did you ever see “Wholly Moses”?

Herschel meets the devil outside Sodom (he was played by the late John Ritter, I believe) where he’s come to collect souls and complains of the dirty job God’s given him.

He says that one day God just handed him the red suite he was wearing and said “try this on for size,” and I’m always reminded of that when I talk to those who believe God created the devil as is.

Does anyone else have any thoughts?

Let me be more clear - The point of reigning in Hell is not a matter of knowledge, it’s a matter of pride. I have known people that would rather experience some kind of pain that admit they are wrong.
The devil may NOT be smarter than us - if his understanding is warped, he probably is a fool. Angels may see some things we cannot yet see, but it works both ways, I think.


But if “One God” means that there’s one Ground and Source of all being, and if James 2:19 is true (and the demons know that there’s such a God), how could he be fool enough to think he could succeed in opposing God’s ultimate purposes?

How could he expect to destroy Job if he knew that the All knowing Ground and Source of all being was on Job’s side?

How could he not anticipate that in the end his efforts could only serve to further God’s plan, if God is what we believe Him to be, and he knows God to be what we believe Him to be?

Michael, I see your point, and it’s a good one.
I wonder if, like humans, satan’s understanding is darkened, perhaps even more than ours is. (If they eye that is in us is dark, how great is that darkness) Something evil cannot rise above its ‘evilness’ and still retain the intellectual good. Perhaps he is a slave to his desires, his lusts, his perversions, but loves them anyway, much as people do.
The demons may tremble, but it might be just as much rage as fear, and it does push them to further rage, perhaps.

Could it be that satan is Insane? That would make sense.

A lot of ‘perhapses’ in there. :slight_smile: What do you think of the insanity theory?

You brought this passage to mind.

Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. (John 8:44.)

I think being a slave to irrational lusts would be a type of insanity, so it kinda ties in with your first comment.

Thank you.

Torment brings to mind the weeping & gnashing of teeth in the gospels, as in sorrow & self hatred for sins.

It seems the word “unto” in “unto ages of the ages” (Rev.20:10) can mean “into”, with a purpose, & not necessarily for the entire duration of:

Just a word about the meaning of “βασανιζω” (basanizō). The lexicon provided in the Online Bible program states as its first meaning:

Also the English word “basalt” is derived directly or indirectly from this word.

So in Revelation 20:10, by analogy, the devil and the false prophet will be tested in the Lake of Fire from time to time until they are purified, and the test indicates that this is the case.

So perhaps the best translation of Revelation 20:10 is:

And they will be tested day and night for ages and ages.