Tuesday, August 22, 2017


Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels' (Mt 25:41).

Traditionally, the fiery imagery for hell is regarded as a metaphor for the punitive psychological pain and suffering which the damned experience. And that may be correct.  

Insofar as the damned are raised to life, it might possibly include punitive physical pain as well. 

However, fire, and other synonyms, can have a different figurative meaning. For instance:

But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn (1 Cor 7:9).

There it denotes sexual passion. "To burn" can mean "to yearn ardently" for something. So the imagery of hellfire might symbolize punitive frustrated longing. 

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