Fr John S Romanides on After Death.

Fr John S Romanides

“The basic key is the fact that, according to Orthodox theology, everyone throughout the world will finish their earthly course in the same way, regardless of whether they are Orthodox, Buddhist, Hindu, agnostic, atheist, or anything else. Everyone on earth is destined to see the glory of God. At the Second Coming of Christ, with which all human history ends, everyone will see the glory of God. And since all people will see God’s glory, they will all meet the same end. Truly, all will see the glory of God, but not in the same way – for some, the glory of God will be an exceedingly sweet Light that never sets; for others, the same glory of God will be like “a devouring fire” that will consume them. We expect this vision of God’s glory to occur as a real event. This vision of God – of His Glory and His Light – is something that will take place whether we want it to happen or not. But the experience of that Light will be different for both groups.

Therefore, it is not the Church’s task to help us see this glory, since that is going to happen anyway. The work of the Church and of her priests focuses on how we will experience the vision of God, and not whether we will experience the vision of God. The Church’s task is to proclaim to mankind that the true God exists, that He reveals Himself as Light or as a devouring fire, and that all of humanity will see God at the Second Coming of Christ. Having proclaimed these truths, the Church then tries to prepare Her members so that on that day they will see God as Light, and not as fire.

When the Church prepares her members and everyone who desires to see God as Light, She is essentially offering them a curative course of treatment that must begin and end in this life. The treatment must take place during this life and be brought to completion, because there is no repentance after death. This curative course of treatment is the very fiber of Orthodox tradition and the primary concern of the Orthodox Church. It consists of three stages of spiritual ascent: purification from the passions, illumination by the grace of the Holy Spirit, and theosis, again by the grace of the Holy Spirit.”

from Patristic Theology – Is Orthodoxy a religion?


St John of Damascus on After Death.

“Και τούτο δε ειδέναι δει, ότι ο Θεός ού κολάζει τινά εν τω μέλλοντι, αλλ’ έκαστος εαυτόν δεκτικόν ποιεί της μετοχής του Θεού. Έστι μεν η μεν μετοχή του Θεού τρυφή, η δε αμεθεξία αυτού κόλασις.” (“Κατά Μανιχαίων”, PG 94:1545D-1548A)
“And so we know, that God does not punish anyone in the future, but everyone makes themselves receptive to share in God. And so to share in God is a delight, while not sharing in Him is hell.” (“Against the Manicheans”, PG 94:1545D- 1548A)

  1. Hell exists not because the damned are overdue, but because the damned remain unchangeable in their desire for sin. And again we see that only the omnipresent God will exist in the future age because, as he says, the object desired by sinners will not exist. What will exist is only what will be desired by the righteous, that is, God.
    “… μετά το θάνατο, δεν υπάρχει τροπή μήτε μετάνοια, όχι επειδή ο Θεός δεν δέχεται μετάνοια – ο Ίδιος δεν μπορεί να αρνηθεί τον εαυτό Του ούτε χάνει τη σπλαχνικότητα -, αλλά η ψυχή δεν αλλάζει πια […] οι άνθρωποι μετά το θάνατο έχουν το άτρεπτο, ώστε από το ένα μέρος οι δίκαιοι ποθώντας το Θεό και έχοντας αυτόν πάντοτε να ευφραίνονται, ενώ οι αμαρτωλοί ποθώντας την αμαρτία και μην έχοντας το υλικό της αμαρτίας … να κολάζονται χωρίς να έχουν καμιά παρηγοριά. Γιατί τι είναι κόλαση παρά η στέρηση εκείνου που σφοδρά επιθυμεί κανείς; Κατά την αναλογία λοιπόν του πόθου, όσοι ποθούν το Θεό ευφραίνονται και όσοι ποθούν την αμαρτία κολάζονται” (“Κατά Μανιχαίων”, PG 94:1573ΑΒ. Μετάφραση: Ν. Ματσούκα, Πουρναράς, Θεσσαλονίκη 1988, σελ. 145.147).
    “… after death, there is no means for repentance, not because God does not accept repentance – He cannot deny Himself nor lose His compassion – but the soul does not change anymore … people after death are unchangeable, so that on the one hand the righteous desire God and always have Him to rejoice in, while sinners desire sin though they do not have the material means to sin … they are punished without any consolation. For what is hell but the deprivation of that which is exceedingly desired by someone? Therefore, according to the analogy of desire, whoever desires God rejoices and whoever desires sin is punished.” (“Against the Manicheans”, PG 94:1573ΑΒ)
    Here we observe the following: since God accepts repentance, this means that there are those who are damned, because the sinner does not express repentance. Hence, their soul freely and definitively chooses sin.
    Illustrative of the above is the following:
    “Ο Θεός και τω διαβόλω αεί παρέχει τα αγαθά, αλλ’ εκείνος ου θέλει λαβείν.” (“Κατά Μανιχαίων”, PG 94:1569Β)
    “God forever supplies good things even to the devil, but he does not want to receive it.” (“Against the Manicheans”, PG 94:1569Β)
    The above passage continues:
    “Ο Θεός και στο Διάβολο διαρκώς χορηγεί τα αγαθά, αλλά εκείνος δεν θέλει να τα πάρει. Και στην αιωνιότητα ό Θεός παρέχει σ’ όλους τα αγαθά γιατί είναι πηγή των αγαθών αναβλύζοντας σ’ όλους την αγαθότητα, ενώ ο καθένας καταπώς έκανε δεκτικό τον εαυτό του, μετέχει στο αγαθό […] εκείνοι που δεν έχουν τις συνηθισμένες ηδονές υποφέρουν αθεράπευτα, χωρίς ο Θεός να έχει κάνει κόλαση, αλλά εμείς επειδή στρώσαμε την κόλαση για τους εαυτούς μας, και άλλωστε μήτε το θάνατο τον έκανε ο Θεός, αλλά εμείς οι ίδιοι τον προξενήσαμε για μας” (Μετάφραση: Ν. Ματσούκα, Πουρναράς, Θεσσαλονίκη 1988, σελ. 139.141).
    “God forever supplies good things even to the devil, but he does not want to receive it. And in eternity God supplies good things to all because He is the source of good things gushing forth goodness to all, while everyone makes themselves receptive, and they share in the good … those who do not have habitual pleasures suffer without being healed, without God making hell, but because we lay out hell for ourselves, and indeed nor did God make death, but we ourselves caused this for us.”
    So we can say the exact Orthodox doctrine teaches that:
    In the Eternal Kingdom there are not separate places, but states of sharing in and being receptive to God. Thus Hell and Paradise are names of states experienced and not “places”.
    In the Eternal Kingdom only God exists, whose light some will experience as Paradise and others as Hell.
    Hell and Paradise will be experienced not because God condemns or rewards people, but because they freely chose the state they will be in. Indeed, proof of Hell being a free choice is that God accepts repentance, but there is no expression of repentance for God to accept them because the person “does not want it”.

Source : Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

What is the Orthodox Churchs doctrine on universal restoration/salvation ?

Universal restoration is the teaching that all men shall be saved.

Note that it is the teaching of universal restoration/salvation that the Orthodox Church has Anathemized at the fifth Ecumenical Council AD553, not the longing or wishing that all shall be saved.

The Orthodox Church pray for the departed, especially the 40 days after the repose.

God will that all men shall be saved but He don’t force anyone.

Here is what St John Chrysostom (347-407), says about this teaching :

”For though we have all faith and all knowledge of the Scriptures, yet if we be naked and destitute of the protection derived from (holy) living, there is nothing to hinder us from being hurried into the fire of hell, and burning for ever in the unquenchable flame. For as they who have done good shall rise to life everlasting, so they who have dared the contrary shall rise to everlasting punishment, which never has an end”. (St. John Chrysostom, The Gospel of St John, Homily 6)

”As I said then; that it hath no end, Christ has declared. Paul also saith, in pointing out the eternity of the punishment, that the sinners shall pay the penalty of destruction, and that forever. “Neither fornicators, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, shall inherit the the kingdom of God.” (St. John Chrysostom, 1 Corinthians, Homily 9)

”For the fear even from bare words is sufficient, though we do not fully unfold their meaning. But that it is not temporary, hear Paul now saying, concerning those who know not God, and who do not believe in the Gospel, that “they shall suffer punishment, even eternal destruction. How then is that temporary which is everlasting?” (St. John Chrysostom, 2 Thessalonians, Homily 3)

And St Ignatius of Antioch (probably reposed AD107)

”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”

St. Irenaeus of Lyons (125-202 A.D.)

[God will] send the spiritual forces of wickedness, and the angels who transgressed and became apostates, and the impious, unjust, lawless, and blasphemous among men into everlasting fire.

Against Heresies 1:10:1

St. Gregory of Nyssa (335-395 A.D.)

”Certainly, in comparison with one who has lived all his life in sin, not only the innocent babe but even one who has never come into the world at all will be blessed. We learn as much too in the case of Judas, from the sentence pronounced upon him in the Gospels; namely, that when we think of such men, that which never existed is to be preferred to that which has existed in such sin. For, as to the latter, on account of the depth of the ingrained evil, the chastisement in the way of purgation will be extended into infinity”

Bishop Kallistos Ware:

“It is heretical to say that all must be saved, for this is to deny free will” (The Orthodox Church, p. 262)

St. Cyprian of Carthage (200-270 A.D.)

An ever-burning Gehenna and the punishment of being devoured by living flames will consume the condemned; nor will there be any way in which the tormented can ever have respite or be at an end. Souls along with their bodies will be preserved for suffering in unlimited agonies. . . . The grief at punishment will then be without the fruit of repentance; weeping will be useless, and prayer ineffectual. Too late will they believe in eternal punishment, who would not believe in eternal life”

— To Demetrian, paragraph 24

If you want to learn more about this subject I can recommend Fr Lawrence Farleys book

And also Monk Patricks blog :

Universal restoration ??

  • If anyone asserts the fabulous pre-existence of souls, and shall assert the monstrous restoration which follows from it: let him be anathema. (First anathema against Origen)
  • If anyone shall say that all reasonable beings will one day be united in one, when the hypostases as well as the numbers and the bodies shall have disappeared, and that the knowledge of the world to come will carry with it the ruin of the worlds, and the rejection of bodies as also the abolition of [all] names, and that there shall be finally an identity of the γνῶσις and of the hypostasis; moreover, that in this pretended apocatastasis, spirits only will continue to exist, as it was in the feigned pre-existence: let him be anathema. (Fourteenth anathema against Origen)2

The decisions of ecumenical councils have universal authority in the Orthodox Church. Only doctrinal definitions have the force of dogma. Local councils only have authority within specific geographic limits.

From the Orthodox Wikipedia