The traditional concept of hell as a place of eternal damnation and punishment for the wicked does not seem to be a very viable idea for many modern people on a spiritual path. Most reject it out of hand as a relic of a past primitive belief system. I would tend to agree with them, but with a twist.
One problem with the concept of “eternal” punishment is in the translation from the original language of the New Testament, for example, take Matthew 25:41:
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”
The original Koine Greek word underlined above is αἰώνιος which transliterated into English is AIONOS and that comes from αἰών which transliterated into English as AION. The Blue Letter Bible (BLB) Lexicon gives three possible translations:
- for ever, an unbroken age, perpetuity of time, eternity
- the worlds, universe
- period of time, age
The modern word “eon” comes from AION. An eon is admittedly a long period of time, but it is not forever. Matthew 24:2 uses this AION also:
As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
This corresponds more closely to the 3rd definition given from the BLB as a “period of time” or “age” and I think this more closely reflects the original meaning. Christ would return at the end of the age and no punishment is eternal. Punishment (or a time for correction) is for a period of time, the amount of time required to learn the necessary lessons to move on. Think of karma.