Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Early Christian Quotes on Hell


The Shepherd of Hermas (1st or 2nd Century), Similitude 4:

But the heathen and sinners, like the withered trees which you saw, will be found to be those who have been withered and unfruitful in that world, and shall be burnt as wood, and [so] made manifest, because their actions were evil during their lives. For the sinners shall be consumed because they sinned and did not repent, and the heathen shall be burned because they knew not Him who created them.


Apocalypse of Peter (Early 2nd Century) 1:20-33:

And over against that place I saw another, squalid, and it was the place of punishment; and those who were punished there and the punishing angels had their raiment dark like the air of the place. 
 And there were certain there hanging by the tongue: and these were the blasphemers of the way of righteousness; and under them lay fire, burning and punishing them. And there was a great lake, full of flaming mire, in which were certain men that pervert righteousness, and tormenting angels afflicted them. 
 And there were also others, women, hanged by their hair over that mire that bubbled up: and these were they who adorned themselves for adultery; and the men who mingled with them in the defilement of adultery, were hanging by the feet and their heads in that mire. And I said: I did not believe that I should come into this place. 
 And I saw the murderers and those who conspired with them, cast into a certain strait place, full of evil snakes, and smitten by those beasts, and thus turning to and fro in that punishment; and worms, as it were clouds of darkness, afflicted them. And the souls of the murdered stood and looked upon the punishment of those murderers and said: O God, thy judgment is just. 
 And near that place I saw another strait place into which the gore and the filth of those who were being punished ran down and became there as it were a lake: and there sat women having the gore up to their necks, and over against them sat many children who were born to them out of due time, crying; and there came forth from them sparks of fire and smote the women in the eyes: and these were the accursed who conceived and caused abortion. 
 And other men and women were burning up to the middle and were cast into a dark place and were beaten by evil spirits, and their inwards were eaten by restless worms: and these were they who persecuted the righteous and delivered them up. 
 And near those there were again women and men gnawing their own lips, and being punished and receiving a red-hot iron in their eyes: and these were they who blasphemed and slandered the way of righteousness. 
 And over against these again other men and women gnawing their tongues and having flaming fire in their mouths: and these were the false witnesses. 
 And in a certain other place there were pebbles sharper than swords or any spit, red-hot, and women and men in tattered and filthy raiment rolled about on them in punishment: and these were the rich who trusted in their riches and had no pity for orphans and widows, and despised the commandment of God. 
 And in another great lake, full of pitch and blood and mire bubbling up, there stood men and women up to their knees: and these were the usurers and those who take interest on interest. 
 And other men and women were being hurled down from a great cliff and reached the bottom, and again were driven by those who were set over them to climb up upon the cliff, and thence were hurled down again, and had no rest from this punishment: and these were they who defiled their bodies acting as women; and the women who were with them were those who lay with one another as a man with a woman. 
 And alongside of that cliff there was a place full of much fire, and there stood men who with their own hands had made for themselves carven images instead of God. And alongside of these were other men and women, having rods and striking each other and never ceasing from such punishment. 
 And others again near them, women and men, burning and turning themselves and roasting: and these were they that leaving the way of God


Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs (1st or 2nd Century), Testament 10, Paragraph 6:

For if the soul depart troubled, it is tormented by the evil spirit which also it served in lusts and evil works; but if quietly and with joy it hath known the angel of peace, it shall comfort him in life.


The Christian Sibylline Oracles (2nd Century) Book 2:315-383:

and the godless furthermore 
Shall to all ages perish, all who did 
Evils aforetime, and committed murders, 
And all who are accomplices therein, 
Liars and thieves, and ruiners of home, 
Crafty and terrible, and parasites, 
And marriage-breakers pouring forth vile words, 
Dread, wanton, lawless, and idolaters; 
And all who left the great immortal God, 
Became blasphemers did the pious harm, 
Destroying faith and killing righteous men 
And all that with a shamelessness deceitful 
And double-faced rush in as presbyters 
And reverend ministers, who knowingly 
Give unjust judgments, yielding to false words 
More hurtful than the leopards and the wolves 
And more vile; and ill that are grossly proud 
And usurers, who gains on gains amass 
And damage orphans and widows in each thing; 
And all that give to widows and to orphans 
The fruit of unjust deeds, and all that cast 
Reproach in giving from their own hard toils; 
And all that left their parents in old age, 
Not paying them at all, nor offering 
To parents filial duty, and all who 
Were disobedient and against their sires 
Spoke a harsh word; and all that pledges took 
And then denied them; and the servants all 
Who were against their masters, and again 
Those who licentiously defiled the flesh; 
And all who loosed the girdle of the maid 
For secret intercourse, and all who caused 
Abortions, and all who their offspring cast 
Unlawfully away; and sorcerers 
And sorceresses with them, and these wrath 
Of the heavenly and immortal God shall drive 
Against a pillar where shall all around 
In a circle flow a restless stream of fire; 
And deathless angels of the immortal God, 
Who ever is, shall bind with lasting bonds 
In chains of flaming fire and from above 
Punish them all by scourge most terribly; 
And in Gehenna, in the gloom of night, 
Shall they be cast 'neath many horrid beasts 
Of Tartarus, where darkness is immense. 
But when there shall be many punishments 
Enforced on all who had an evil heart, 
Yet afterward shall there a fiery wheel 
From a great river circle them around, 
Because they had a care for wicked deeds. 
And then one here, another there, shall sires, 
Young children, mothers, nursing babes, in tears 
Wail their most piteous fate. No fill of tears 
Shall be for them, nor piteous voice be heard 
Of them that moan, one here, another there, 
But long worn under dark, dank Tartarus 
Aloud shall they cry; and they shall repay 
In cursed places thrice as much as all 
The evil work they did, burned with much fire; 
And all of them, consumed by raging thirst 
And hunger, shall in anguish gnash their teeth 
And call death beautiful, and death shall flee 
Away from them. For neither death nor night 
Shall ever give them rest. And many things in vain 
Will they ask of the God that rules on high, 
And then will he his face turn openly 
Away from them. For he to erring men 
Gave, in seven ages for repentance, signs 
By the hands of a virgin undefiled.


The Christian Sibylline Oracles (2nd Century) Book 2:404-415:

And to the pious will the almighty God 
Imperishable grant another thing, 
When they shall ask the imperishable God: 
That he will suffer men from raging fire 
And endless gnawing anguish to be saved; 
And this will he do. For hereafter he 
Will pluck them from the restless flame, elsewhere 
Remove them, and for his own people's sake 
Send them to other and eternal life 
With the immortals, in Elysian field, 
False manifestly; for the penal fire 
Shall never cease from those who are condemned. 
For also I might pray to have it thus, 
Branded with greatest scars of trespasses, 
Which need more kindness. But let Origen 
Of his presumptuous babble be ashamed, 
Saying there shall be end of punishments 
Where move far-stretching billows of the lake 
Of ever-flowing Acheron profound.


Apocalypse of Peter (Early 2nd Century):

And he showed me in his right hand the souls of all men, And on the palm of his right hand the image of that which shall be accomplished at the last day: and how the righteous and the sinners shall be separated, and how they do that are upright in heart, and how the evil-doers shall be rooted out unto all eternity. We beheld how the sinners wept (weep) in great affliction and sorrow, until all that saw it with their eyes wept, whether righteous or angels, and he himself also. 
 And I asked him and said unto him: Lord, suffer me to speak thy word concerning the sinners: It were better for them if they had not been created. And the Saviour answered and said unto me: Peter, wherefore speakest thou thus, that not to have been created were better for them? Thou resistest God. Thou wouldest not have more compassion than he for his image: for he hath created them and brought them forth out of not being. Now because thou hast seen the lamentation which shall come upon the sinners in the last days, therefore is thine heart troubled; but I will show thee their works, whereby they have sinned against the Most High…(Description of Christ’s coming, of Heaven and Hell) Next: ' The Father hath committed all judgement unto the Son.' The destiny of sinners -their eternal doom- is more than Peter can endure: he appeals to Christ to have pity on them. 
 And my Lord answered me and said to me: 'Hast thou understood that which I said unto thee before? It is permitted unto thee to know that concerning which thou askest: but thou must not tell that which thou hearest unto the sinners lest they transgress the more, and sin.' Peter weeps many hours, and is at last consoled by an answer which, though exceedingly diffuse and vague does seem to promise ultimate pardon for all: 'My Father will give unto them all the life, the glory, and the kingdom that passeth not away,' . . . 'It is because of them that have believed in me that I am come. It is also because of them that have believed in me, that, at their word, I shall have pity on men.'


Oxyrhynchus Fragment 840 (Early to Mid-2nd Century) verses 2-7:

[Jesus speaking,] “Be careful that you do not end up suffering the same fate as them. For the evil-doers of humanity receive retribution not only among the living, but they will also undergo punishment and much torture later."


2 Clement (Early to Mid-2nd Century) Chapter 8:

As long, therefore, as we are upon earth, let us practise repentance, for we are as clay in the hand of the artificer. For as the potter, if he make a vessel, and it be distorted or broken in his hands, fashions it over again; but if he have before this cast it into the furnace of fire, can no longer find any help for it: so let us also, while we are in this world, repent with our whole heart of the evil deeds we have done in the flesh, that we may be saved by the Lord, while we have yet an opportunity of repentance. For after we have gone out of the world, no further power of confessing or repenting will there belong to us.


Mathetes’ Letter to Diognetus (Mid-2nd Century) Chapter 10:

when thou shalt fear what is truly death, which is reserved for those who shall be condemned to the eternal fire, which shall afflict those even to the end that are committed to it.


Justin Martyr’s Dialog with Trypho (Mid-2nd Century) Chapter 45:

some are sent to be punished unceasingly into judgment and condemnation of fire


Justin Martyr’s First Apology (Mid-2nd Century) Chapter 28:

For among us the prince of the wicked spirits is called the serpent, and Satan, and the devil, as you can learn by looking into our writings. And that he would be sent into the fire with his host, and the men who follow him, and would be punished for an endless duration, Christ foretold.


Justin Martyr’s Second Apology (Mid-2nd Century) Chapter 6:

But since God in the beginning made the race of angels and men with free-will, they will justly suffer in eternal fire the punishment of whatever sins they have committed. And this is the nature of all that is made, to be capable of vice and virtue. For neither would any of them be praiseworthy unless there were power to turn to both [virtue and vice].


The Acts of Peter (Mid to Late 2nd Century) Part 3, Paragraph 2:

but if thou repent not, while thou art yet in the body, devouring fire and outer darkness shall receive thee for ever.



Irenaeus’ Against Heresies, Book 3 (Late 2nd Century) Chapter 23, Paragraph 3:

...immediately after Adam had transgressed, as the Scripture relates, He pronounced no curse against Adam personally, but against the ground, in reference to his works, as a certain person among the ancients has observed: "God did indeed transfer the curse to the earth, that it might not remain in man." But man received, as the punishment of his transgression, the toilsome task of tilling the earth, and to eat bread in the sweat of his face, and to return to the dust from whence he was taken. Similarly also did the woman [receive] toil, and labour, and groans, and the pangs of parturition, and a state of subjection, that is, that she should serve her husband; so that they should neither perish altogether when cursed by God, nor, by remaining unreprimanded, should be led to despise God. But the curse in all its fulness fell upon the serpent, which had beguiled them. "And God," it is declared, "said to the serpent: Because thou hast done this, cursed art thou above all cattle, and above all the beasts of the earth." And this same thing does the Lord also say in the Gospel, to those who are found upon the left hand: "Depart from me, ye cursed, into ever: lasting fire, which my Father hath prepared for the devil and his angels; " indicating that eternal fire was not originally prepared for man, but for him who beguiled man, and caused him to offend-for him, I say, who is chief of the apostasy, and for those angels who became apostates along with him; which [fire], indeed, they too shall justly feel, who, like him, persevere in works of wickedness, without repentance, and without retracing their steps.



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Find more of what the early Christians thought on my Christian History page!





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