Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States
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Is hell a place of eternal fire and burning or is it just the absence of God's presence?

The Holy Scripture reveals that hell is a place of eternal fire and it is also the absence of God's grace. The narrative of Lazarus and the rich man was not a parable but a real illustration and a very clear depiction of the differences between Hades where the rich man was tormented and the comfort and joy in Paradise where Lazarus was with Abraham who was with God. 
"The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth" (Matthew 13:41-42).
"And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having two feet, to be cast into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched—" (Mark 9:45)
"But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death" (Revelation 21:8).
As we live on this earth, God's grace and mercies sustain us, whether we are righteous or wicked, because there is still opportunity to repent. Anyone who chooses to live away from God's grace and mercy, chooses not to repent, and his or her life ends, will be eternally deprived of God's grace and mercy in the everlasting life, because they have committed their eternal life to Satan, in whom they entrusted their lives while on earth and never repented. Thus, they will be with Satan where he is eternally, which is in hell.
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