Hell and Everlasting PunishmentPart 5: Everlasting Punishment"And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal." (Matthew 25:46). William Elbert Munsey wrote of the everlasting punishment of the wicked:"The eternal punishment of the wicked, the eternal happiness of the righteous, and the eternity of God, as far as Revelation is concerned, form the same building. The Univeralist has placed his shoulders against the basement pillars, and if he succeeds the whole structure falls; but he and his co-laborers may toil and sweat, and leave their bones to molder away in the cellars, but God lives on, the righteous shout on, and the damned groan on- throughout all eternity- O Eternity!The meaning of such a word in its connection with the future punishment of the wicked is dreadful- O Eternity! Its signifigance is as high and wide and deep and grand as God is. He fills it, and it fills Him, and all the worlds, and all the men, and all the demons, and all the angels, but perform their parts in its awful shadow."IGNATIUS OF ANTIOCH: "Corrupters of families will not inherit the kingdom of God. And if they who do these things according to the flesh suffer death, how much more if a man corrupt by evil teaching the faith of God for the sake of which Jesus Christ was crucified? A man become so foul will depart into unquenchable fire: and so will anyone who listens to him" (Letter to the Ephesians 16:12 [A.D. 110]) - CLEMENT: "If we do the will of Christ, we shall obtain rest; but if not, if we neglect his commandments, nothing will rescue us from eternal punishment" (Second Clement 5:5 [A.D. 150]).JUSTIN MARTYR: "[Jesus] shall come from the heavens in glory with his angelic host, when he shall raise the bodies of all the men who ever lived. Then he will clothe the worthy in immortality; but the wicked, clothed in eternal sensibility, he will commit to the eternal fire, along with the evil demons" (First Apology 52 [A.D. 151]). POLYCARP: "Fixing their minds on the grace of Christ, [the martyrs] despised worldly tortures and purchased eternal life with but a single hour. To them, the fire of their cruel torturers was cold. They kept before their eyes their escape from the eternal and unquenchable fire" (Martyrdom of Polycarp 2:3 [A.D. 155]). IRENAEUS: "The penalty increases for those who do not believe the Word of God and despise his coming. . . . [I]t is not merely temporal, but eternal. To whomsoever the Lord shall say, Depart from me, accursed ones, into the everlasting fire, they will be damned forever" (ibid., 4:28:2). TERTULLIAN: "After the present age is ended he will judge his worshipers for a reward of eternal life and the godless for a fire equally perpetual and unending" (Apology 18:3 [A.D. 197]). HIPPOLYTUS: "Standing before [Christs] judgment, all of them, men, angels, and demons, crying out in one voice, shall say: Just is your judgment! And the righteousness of that cry will be apparent in the recompense made to each. To those who have done well, everlasting enjoyment shall be given; while to the lovers of evil shall be given eternal punishment. The unquenchable and unending fire awaits these latter, and a certain fiery worm which does not die and which does not waste the body but continually bursts forth from the body with unceasing pain. No sleep will give them rest; no night will soothe them; no death will deliver them from punishment; no appeal of interceding friends will profit them" (Against the Greeks 3 [A.D. 212]).
_________________SI Moderator - Greg Gordon
It is amazing that the whole weight of the early church fathers believed in an everlasting punishment but how few bible believing protestants would preach and speak in the same ways!!? God help us and bring us back to the genuine article of what it is to be a Christian and carry the message of the gospel.---TERTULLIAN: "Then will the entire race of men be restored to receive its just deserts according to what it has merited in this period of good and evil, and thereafter to have these paid out in an immeasurable and unending eternity. Then there will be neither death again nor resurrection again, but we shall be always the same as we are now, without changing. The worshipers of God shall always be with God, clothed in the proper substance of eternity. But the godless and those who have not turned wholly to God will be punished in fire equally unending, and they shall have from the very nature of this fire, divine as it were, a supply of incorruptibility" (Apology 44:12-13 [A.D. 197]). LACTANTIUS: "[T]he sacred writings inform us in what manner the wicked are to undergo punishment. For because they have committed sins in their bodies, they will again be clothed with flesh, that they may make atonement in their bodies; and yet it will not be that flesh with which God clothed man, like this our earthly body, but indestructible, and abiding forever, that it may be able to hold out against tortures and everlasting fire, the nature of which is different from this fire of ours, which we use for the necessary purposes of life, and which is extinguished unless it be sustained by the fuel of some material. But that divine fire always lives by itself, and flourishes without any nourishment. . . . The same divine fire, therefore, with one and the same force and power, will both burn the wicked and will form them again, and will replace as much as it shall consume of their bodies, and will supply itself with eternal nourishment. . . . Thus, without any wasting of bodies, which regain their substance, it will only burn and affect them with a sense of pain. But when [God] shall have judged the righteous, he will also try them with fire" (Divine Institutes 7:21 [A.D. 307]).
CYRIL OF JERUSALEM: "We shall be raised therefore, all with our bodies eternal, but not all with bodies alike: for if a man is righteous, he will receive a heavenly body, that he may be able worthily to hold converse with angels; but if a man is a sinner, he shall receive an eternal body, fitted to endure the penalties of sins, that he may burn eternally in fire, nor ever be consumed. And righteously will God assign this portion to either company; for we do nothing without the body. We blaspheme with the mouth, and with the mouth we pray. With the body we commit fornication, and with the body we keep chastity. With the hand we rob, and by the hand we bestow alms; and the rest in like manner. Since then the body has been our minister in all things, it shall also share with us in the future the fruits of the past" (Catechetical Lectures 18:19 [A.D. 350]).