The Nature of Torment

The notion of hell is a very controversial and unpleasant topic for just about everyone. The most common objection to the idea of hell, how can a loving God create such a terrible place, definitely makes the subject harder to discuss.  Uncomfortable as it may be, hell as a reality needs to be correctly understood, especially if you’re someone who believes in Scripture. I don’t know everything there is to know about the nature of hell and never will, but I do study and explore this subject to do my best to understand, and I’d like to share my research with you on this site. To get a better understanding of the nature of hell, let’s explore what hell is and what Scripture means by hell is a place of [tooltip title=”he will indeed drink the wine of God’s fury poured undiluted into the cup of his rage. He will be tormented by fire and sulfur before the holy angels and before the Lamb, -Revelation 14:10″]torment[/tooltip][1].

Descriptions of Hell From Scripture

  • Hell is described in Scripture as a place of [tooltip title=”23 In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. -Luke 16:23″]torment[/tooltip][2]
  • A place of [tooltip title=”41 “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; -Matthew 25:41″]eternal fire[/tooltip][3]
  • A [tooltip title=”‘Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol, To the recesses of the pit. -Isaiah 14:15″]pit[/tooltip][4]
  • A place of [tooltip title=”16 ‘For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. -John 3:16″]perishing[/tooltip][5]
  • An [tooltip title=”9 The fifth angel sounded his shofar; and I saw a star that had fallen out of heaven onto the earth, and he was given the key to the shaft leading down to the Abyss. -Revelation 9:1″]abyss[/tooltip][6]
  • A [tooltip title=”14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. -Revelation 20:14″]lake of fire[/tooltip][7]
  • Place of the [tooltip title=”13 savage sea-waves heaving forth their shameful deeds like foam; wandering stars for whom the blackest darkness has been reserved forever. -Jude 1:13″]blackest darkness[/tooltip][8]
  • A place where people will [tooltip title=”30 As for this worthless servant, throw him out in the dark, where people will wail and grind their teeth!’ -Matthew 25:30″]grind their teeth[/tooltip][9]

Scripture uses metaphors to describe what hell is like, but these descriptors don’t say what hell is.

What is Hell is Not

Contrary to popular thought, hell is not a torture chamber. Scripture uses a variety of dramatic, illustrative, and metaphoric language to describe what hell is like, but these descriptors don’t speak on what hell is. The popular reference for hell is a [tooltip title=”14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. -Revelation 20:14″]lake of fire[/tooltip][7], which leads most to assume it is a torture chamber, but in reality, there is no water or fire in hell. Hell cannot be described using a single image, reference, or analogy, so Scripture attempts to convey the severe agony of eternal separation from God, using several dramatic metaphors. Simply put, nothing could be worse than being separated from the Lord eternally, which is why nothing else is needed in hell; no [tooltip title=”41 “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; -Matthew 25:41″]fire[/tooltip][3], no burning, no [tooltip title=”14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. -Revelation 20:14″]boiling lake[/tooltip][7], just complete separation from His grace & presence. Furthermore, if the mention of fire were meant to be taken literally, then we’d have a contradiction. Hell cannot be a place of [tooltip title=”13 savage sea-waves heaving forth their shameful deeds like foam; wandering stars for whom the blackest darkness has been reserved forever. -Jude 1:13″]complete darkness[/tooltip][8], if it contains fire; fire emits light.

 completely alone, lost in eternal darkness…

What Hell is

Hell is a place of eternal [tooltip title=”The sorrows of hell compassed me about: the snares of death prevented me. -Psalm 18:5″]sorrow[/tooltip][10] and [tooltip title=”In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. -Luke 16:23″]torment[/tooltip][11], as a result of being permanently separated from God (His grace). No matter how hard we try, it’s impossible to comprehend what complete separation from God’s grace would be like, because we get to experience His grace (beauty, sunshine, creation, relationships, taste, warmth, smells, and so much more), daily. Hell is a place where none of God’s grace will be experienced. Those in hell will be completely alone, lost in eternal darkness, with no interaction, no movement, no relationship, no sounds, no beauty… nothing but [tooltip title=”Former memories of all the times you rejected God’s offer of salvation.”]former memories[/tooltip][12] & free will.

What is Torment?

Scripture never describes hell as a place of torture, but a place where those who end up there are tormented, and the degree to which they’ll suffer is described in illustrative metaphoric language. Torment results from a poor (and possibly accidental) choice someone made where they find themselves suffering the consequences of that decision. We can be tormented with/from regret, distress, stress, frustration, guilt, etc., and the torment can be continuous, without you being actively tortured by anyone. The torments of hell are directly related to the transcendent holiness of God. Because God is truly Holy, those who sin against Him have to face the weight of condemnation, because holiness cannot tolerate unholiness. Although it’s an odd analogy to use, you can think of God’s holiness as bleach and any unholiness as mold.  No matter how much you try to get the two to co-exist in the same area at the same time, they won’t mix; the bleach will completely eliminate the mold. Before you try to be clever and think of a ratio of bleach vs mold, in which the mold wins, I’ll save you the trouble now because there will always be more bleach than mold when God is the reference.

The more you reject, the more you get…

Why Torment at all?

Those who have sinned consciously must also bear their punishment consciously. The more God is rejected, the more severe the torment. Imagine telling someone you hate them once and then regretting it later. Now imagine telling someone you hate them over and over again for an entire year, you’ll have more regret because you can recall the multiple instances where you could have chosen a different form of emotion to express, but decided to be mean continuously. In hell, individuals will experience different levels of torment, based on their numerous sinful actions and continued rejection of God’s offer of salvation.

Reading [tooltip title=”5 We have sinned, done wrong, acted wickedly, rebelled and turned away from your mitzvot (commandments) and rulings. 6 We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our leaders, our ancestors and to all the people of the land.”]Daniel 9:5-6[/tooltip][13] informs us that we have not been passive in our rebellion, but have been active participants in it. There are some reading this very article who will still continue to reject God, even after being warned. It’s this rebellious (sinful) nature that makes hell a necessity. God’s holiness prevents Him from looking upon sin with favor, which is why sin causes separation from Him. God not being able to be close to sin is not a limitation on God, but is, surprisingly, for our benefit. The purity of His holiness is too consuming for anything impure (us) to exist in His presence (like bleach vs mold). Fortunately for us, God restrains Himself (temporarily for a time) and offers us a chance to be forgiven for our rebellion. God’s restraint is possible because Messiah consciously took God’s wrath against sin upon Himself, giving us all the opportunity to avoid this eternal torment through accepting this sacrifice.

The Hope

Because God is truly and completely holy and lives in a place of perfection called Heaven, the existence of hell is a necessity. There is no place for sin in Heaven. God’s holiness and justice require sin to be punished, but His love and mercy want to save us from this punishment. As mentioned above, and for our benefit, God separated Himself (to a degree) from sin.

The only way for God’s justice & holiness to remain pure, and give us an escape from the torment of hell is through forgiveness and grace. God demonstrates both through Messiah. Messiah came and lived the perfect life we couldn’t, died the death we deserve (notice this is not past-tense), and by doing so, created a [tooltip title=”6 Yeshua said, ‘I AM the Way — and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except through me – John 14:6.”]way[/tooltip],[14] for us to reconnect with God. No one can achieve perfection nor can anyone earn a place in Heaven, so rather than leave us doomed for hell, God provided us with a way to make it.

Accepting Messiah’s sacrifice by making a decision to stop sinning and follow God’s instruction for your life, is not a one-time deal. Think about it, we’ll still make mistakes along the journey, but realizing we are imperfect is the key that helps us keep God central in our lives, and continually striving to stick to His plan. God will forgive our mistakes if we are sincere when asking for forgiveness and we try our hardest not to purposely make the same mistakes again. Yes we’ll still err, yes we’re still imperfect, but God can see our hearts and know if we are genuinely trying or just going through the motions.

I’d like to conclude by informing you that following God’s plan doesn’t mean you cannot have fun. I meet a lot of folks that think God wants robots who sit around talking about Him 24/7 and cannot joke around. The wonderful things around us (amusement parks, movies, restaurants, camping, fishing trips, parties, etc.) are things God enjoys us partaking in. Following Him doesn’t mean the fun is over, it means the fun remains, but now God gets to be a part of your life. Yes, there are things you’ll have to give up, but it won’t be hard to do when you’re in a relationship with Him. He’ll guide you every step of the way if you allow Him to. Hell is a real place, but you don’t have to end up there.


[1] he will indeed drink the wine of God’s fury poured undiluted into the cup of his rage. He will be tormented by fire and sulfur before the holy angels and before the Lamb, -Revelation 14:10

[2] In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. -Luke 16:23

[3] Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; -Matthew 25:41

[4] Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol, To the recesses of the pit. -Isaiah 14:15

[5] For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. -John 3:16

[6] The fifth angel sounded his shofar; and I saw a star that had fallen out of heaven onto the earth, and he was given the key to the shaft leading down to the Abyss. -Revelation 9:1

[7] Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. -Revelation 20:14

[8] savage sea-waves heaving forth their shameful deeds like foam; wandering stars for whom the blackest darkness has been reserved forever. -Jude 1:13

[9] As for this worthless servant, throw him out in the dark, where people will wail and grind their teeth!’ -Matthew 25:30

[10] The sorrows of hell compassed me about: the snares of death prevented me. -Psalm 18:5

[11] In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. -Luke 16:23

[12] Former memories of all the times you rejected God’s offer of salvation

[13] 5 We have sinned, done wrong, acted wickedly, rebelled and turned away from your mitzvot (commandments) and rulings. 6 We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our leaders, our ancestors and to all the people of the land. – Daniel 9:5-6

[14] Yeshua said, ‘I AM the Way — and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except through me – John 14:6