Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professors, theologians, and those interested in exegetical analysis of biblical texts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Struggling to grasp this verse a bit and its consequences. Can you help? I have often felt that the descriptions of hell throughout the Bible do not paint a clear picture on the debate: is hell perpetual torment or not? In the past I have learned to hedge my bets a little and talk of separation from God (what Jesus suffered on the cross). This form of judgement seems perfectly in line with what some describe awaits those unrepentant sinners in hell. Yet the lamb is right there, presumably watching (this reminds me also of the mass drownings in Noah).

share|improve this question

This question has an open bounty worth +50 reputation from Simply a Christian ending in 5 days.

One or more of the answers is exemplary and worthy of an additional bounty.

    
This question is far too broad. Is it a question about how to exegete Revelation 14.10 specifically (the title), or is it a question about the theology of hell in general (the full paragraph)? – Mark Edward 21 hours ago

The plain and normal reading of the Scriptures indicate that eternal damnation is experiential and actual. There is no dispute that Jesus spoke more about eternal damnation in the gospels than he spoke about righteousness and eternal life. If eternal damnation is real, then how or why would the Lamb of God allow perpetual torment for sinners? The Apostle Paul provides the patience of the Lord as the lens through which we are to understand this most difficult of concepts in the Bible.

Romans 9:22-23 (NASB)
22 What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? 23 And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory

There are sinners who are condemned, but before their eternal banishment, they had experienced the patience of God. The Apostle Peter mentions this same patience.

2 Peter 3:14-15 (NASB)
14 Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, 15 and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you

Both Peter and Paul recognized that salvation is the result of the patience of the Lord toward sinners. Before the flood hit the earth in the days of Noah, the patience of the Lord continued for 120 years (Gen 6:3) as Peter indicates that the time ran out.

1 Peter 3:18-20 (NASB)
18 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; 19 in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, 20 who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water.

So while he is patient with all sinners, the Lord calls sinners to himself. The Apostle Paul indicated that his salvation resulted from this patience, as he had regarded himself the worst of sinners imaginable.

1 Timothy 1:13-16 (NASB)
13 even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; 14 and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. 15 It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. 16 Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.

The Apostle Paul was not only a blasphemer, but as the zealous Pharisee his self-appointed mission was to force Christians to renounce Jesus Christ, and therefore to cause them to blaspheme (Acts 26:11). He was therefore the worst sinner in the world from the perspective of heaven, since his sins were related to blasphemy.

But the patience of God was why he was saved.

In other words, the Lord is in the business of saving sinners, and in the process his patience continues to endure. The following syllogism will help to understand the concept.

  The saved are sinners (for whom the Lord was patient),
  but not all sinners (for whom the Lord was patient) are saved.

The statement is not intended to be tautological, but to provide the nuance that the Lord is patient with all sinners wishing for them all to be saved.

2 Peter 3:9 (NASB)
9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

In conclusion, the patience of the Lord applies to all sinners. It is the explicit desire of the Lord that all be saved, because Christ died for all sinners (1 Jn 2:2). Those who are not saved will suffer eternal torment, but not because the Lord was not patient with them at one time.

share|improve this answer
1  
(-1) because you did not answer the question and instead provided a theodicy. – WoundedEgo 2 days ago
    
@Joseph I believe you DID answer the question: the Mercy of God is available for all, therefore no one has an 'excuse' on the Day of Judgment. However, those who have been redeemed by the Lamb, have 'passed through' judgment and are in the Lamb's Book of Life. – Tau yesterday

Your question seems similar to me to one answered by the Romanian (Orthodox) monk, Elder Cleopa, in his book The Truth of Our Faith. Namely:

There is a very old view that God is All-Good, that His love is unlimited toward man and because of this it is practically impossible for Him to chastise men with eternal suffering. He is the Father of all and what kind of Father would chastise His disobedient children with eternal torture? Isn't a father supposed to forgive his children? Wouldn't our heavenly Father be so much more disposed to mercy and forbearance towards us?

To this, he answers:

Truly, God is forgiving and long-suffering towards those who fall into sin in this life, for the time of our correction is now, in this life, and the acquisition of His forgiveness depends on our own repentance. In the life on the other side of the grave, however, we no longer are able to repent, to change our minds, given that there God does not judge us according to His omnipotence and goodness, but in accord with His impartiality and righteousness [viz. John 9:4], rewarding each according to his deeds [Matthew 10:41;25:35]. If God were to forgive all the sins of men without justice or fairness, what would be the point of continually alarming us with the terror of eternal torments if, in fact, they didn't exist? How is it possible for God to tell us lies instead of truth?

He continues,

God offers eternal joy to the righteous, who struggled for a time to carry out good works here on earth, but as a just and righteous God, He also chastises eternally the ungodly that transgressed in this temporal life. Why is it so? Because the wounds incurred from sin that are not healed in this life through the appropriate repentance will remain infected eternally in the presence of God. If we mock and scorn the Person of God by committing sins with our free will, we must remember nevertheless that His glory, power and righteousness and all His divine characteristics have no end. In the same way, on account of the sins we have not repented for, the torments of hell will also be unending.

Your calling attention to the Scripture in Revelation also brought to mind something an American Orthodox monk, Seraphim Rose, wrote that could help explain the role the presence of the Lamb:

For most men today "life" is a small thing, a fleeting thing of small affirmation and small denial, veiled in comforting illusions and the hopeful prospect of ultimate nothingness; such men will know nothing of Hell until they live in it. But God loves even such men too much to allow them to simply "forget" Him and "pass away" into nothingness, out of His Presence which alone is life to men; He offers, even to those in Hell, His Love which is torment to those who have not prepared themselves in this life to receive it (Nihilism, p. 99)

share|improve this answer
    
Hello. I'm sorry for interrupting but I'm confused. Is Seraphim saying that God loves men too much to simply let them cease to exist (where they wouldn't even care if they don't exist because they have no consciousness to care about anything), so he shows his love by tormenting and burning them in fire forever? – anonymouswho yesterday
    
No, that's not what he is trying to convey. Fr. Seraphim's thesis is that God's presence and love is not something that one can escape. It will be a source of joy for those who have sought communion with Him and lived a life of repentance, but a source of torment for those who turned away for Him or didn't even bother to seek Him. In this sense, we make our own hell. Another Orthodox writer, Kallistos Ware pointed out that the same is true in our relations with other people ... – The NonTheologian yesterday
    
"Egocentricity is the death of true personhood. Each becomes a real person only through entering into relation with other persons, through living for them and in them. There can be no man, so it has been rightly said, until there are at least two men in communication ..." – The NonTheologian yesterday
    
"The same is true, secondly, of love. Love cannot exist in isolation, but presupposes the other. Self-love is the negation of love. As Charles Williams shows to such devastating effect in his novel Descent into Hell, self-love is hell; for, carried to its ultimate conclusion, self-love signifies the end of all joy and all meaning. Hell is not other people; hell is myself, cut off from others in self-centeredness." Ware, Kallistos. The Orthodox Way (Kindle Locations 409-414). St Vladimir's Seminary Press. Kindle Edition. – The NonTheologian yesterday
    
Okay I think I understand. Are you saying there is no fire or torture, but men will be mentally tormented because they do not desire God's love- but he will give it to them anyways? – anonymouswho yesterday

"The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented (βασανισθήσεται G928) with fire and brimstone (θείῳ G2303) in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb" Revelation 14:10

There is one word in this verse that is mistranslated, and the other is very misunderstood. The first is basanizo. According to Thayer's concordance, the first definition of this word is:

"to test (metals) by the touchstone, which is a black siliceous stone used to test the purity of gold or silver by the colour of the streak produced on it by rubbing it with either metal"

Basanizo means to test the purity of metals. God does not torture or torment anybody. The Scriptures say:

"Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction." Isaiah 48:10

And again:

"And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God." Zachariah 13:9

And again:

"But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap: And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness." Malachi 3:2

It is believed that basanizo means torture or torment. This is impossible, because our loving Father does not torture anyone. The third definition Thayer gives is "distressed, to be harassed". Since there are only a few occurrences of basanizo, I will go ahead and quote them all and replace the word "tormented":

"And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented (distressed/harassed)." Matthew 8:6

"And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment (harass/distress) us before the time?" Matthew 8:29

"But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed (distressed) with waves: for the wind was contrary." Matthew 14:24

"And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment (harass/distress) me not." Mark 5:7

"And he saw them toiling (distressed/harassed) in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them: and about the fourth watch of the night he cometh unto them, walking upon the sea, and would have passed by them." Mark 6:48

"When he saw Jesus, he cried out, and fell down before him, and with a loud voice said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God most high? I beseech thee, torment (harass/distress) me not." Luke 8:28

"(For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed (distressed/harassed) his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)" 2 Peter 2:8

"And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented (distressed/harassed) five months: and their torment (distress/harassment) was as the torment (distress/harassment) of a scorpion, when he striketh a man." Revelation 9:5

"And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented (distressed/harassed) them that dwelt on the earth." Revelation 11:10

"And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained (distressed/harassed) to be delivered." Revelation 12:2

"The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented (distressed/harassed/tested) with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb" Revelation 14:10

"And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented (distressed/harassed/tested) day and night for ever and ever (towards the ages of the ages)." Revelation 20:10

The second word is theion, which is very closely related to the word "theos"- divine/God. Thayer's concordance says:

"Brimstone; divine incense, because burning brimstone was regarded as having power to purify, and to ward off disease"

So there are three words in this verse that have to do with purification and refinement- basanizo, theion, and fire.

Obviously this testing and purification cannot last forever and ever (because one ever is never enough!), because the Lamb has better things to do than stand in "hell" for "eternity" and watch people get tested and refined for no purpose whatsoever; but that's outside the scope of this question.

Thank you.

share|improve this answer
1  
You omit the remainder of Thayer/Wilke’s entry on βασανίζω, in particular: “4. univ. to vex with grievous pains (of body or mind), to torment.” Then within that same section Thayer/Wilke specifically states, “with ἐν and the dat. of the material in which one is tormented, Rev. 14:10.” Would you care to explain your omission of the rest of Thayer/Wilke’s entry on the verb βασανίζω? – Simply a Christian 2 days ago
    
Hello @SimplyaChristian. I went ahead and addressed this as well. Thank you. – anonymouswho 2 days ago
    
"It is believed that basanizo means torture or torment. This is impossible, because our loving Father does not torture anyone." - That? – Simply a Christian 2 days ago
    
No, I added every instance of basanizo and inserted distressed/harassed because that is the third definition Thayer provides. – anonymouswho 2 days ago
    
Oh, so you changed the translation in accordance with your theological bias? Nice. Why bother citing Thayer when he obviously did not support your translation? He says it means torment in Rev. 14:10. – Simply a Christian 2 days ago

In Luke 19:10, Jesus says,

"For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost."

Then Jesus proceeds to tell the Parable of the Ten Talents, in which he distributes 'talents' to His servants and asks them to make a return on their investment. It then goes on to say how each one doubled their return-except for the one who returned nothing.

But in vs 27, it says

"But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me."

Those that are not "with" Jesus are against Him (Luke 11:23),

"He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth."

Therefore, there is no 'neutral ground', you are either a Friend or a Foe.

Hell was created for the devil and his angels; (Matt. 25:41)

"Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:"

God desires that no man perish, but all come to Eternal Life,(2 Pet. 3:9)

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

but those who choose against the Grace of God, do so at their peril; they have wittingly(or unwittingly) have chosen to be with Satan, and as such suffer the same consequences as he does. The suffering is Real and the torment is Real; yet the choice was theirs. God gave man immortality, because He created man in His image and likeness. He gave man the freedom to choose Life or Death(Deut. 30:19), to choose life is to live with God for eternity; to choose death is to live apart from God(in Hell) for all eternity.

God fully understands the consequences of this descision, therefore He has made every way available in His Mercy through Jesus to avoid it.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.