OK, OK, now we’re talking about hell. Curious what ya think.
Luke 10.12: “I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.” This is another verse among others that speak of degrees of punishment in hell.
Mt. 11.22-24: “more tolerable”
Mt. 23.14: “greater condemnation”
Rev. 20.13: “each in proportion to his works”
Lk. 10.12, 14 (here) “it will be more bearable for Sodom than for that town”
Lk. 12.47-48: “beaten with few blows or more blows
So, it makes perfect sense to me that there are degrees of punishment in hell, since everyone suffering the most intense eternal pain in their separation from God smacks against any sense of justice that we all share. None of us thinks that it’s fair to punish everyone the same, since some are good people and some are like Stalin who murdered 23 million of his own people. Degrees of punishment speaks of God as a judge who rules appropriately, making the punishment fit the crime, and he doesn’t punish people more than they deserve. In our American prison system, all get punished the same; the only variation is the length of time. Not so with God. The actual punishments vary, presumably in form and intensity, giving consideration to what was committed, as well as to the motives and intents. To me it’s biblical, but it’s also more fair and understandable than the traditional concept of hell where all burn mercilessly for eternity.
V. 13: “Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.” Whoa, whoa whoa horses! Is this saying that more could have been done in these towns, and if they had been, someone would have come to salvation? That means there are people in hell who would have turned to God had they been given the chance, making hell unfair. Some are there who wouldn’t be there if they had just been given a fair chance.
No, this doesn’t mean that. You can never go with the “what if” question: What if that person had been nicer to another—would they have gotten saved? This is an illegitimate line of reasoning. The point behind the saying is that Korazin and Bethsaida are without excuse (honestly, just like Tyre and Sidon!). They have been given a fair chance, and everything required to make a conscious decision had been available.
vv. 14-15: “But it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths.” This goes along with what I just said, and what is in 1 Cor. 4.2 and Lk. 12.48: “From those who have been given much, much will be required.” Again, the point is that God will be fair. If people weren’t given much to work with (for salvation), little will be required of them, and punishments (if any), will be accordingly. For those who had been given much, who had many chances to make good and proper decisions—well, their situations will be far different, far more harsh, but still appropriate and proportionate. And for those, like Hitler or Stalin, who had a lot to work with, and had vast religious backgrounds, and who turned against everything godly and moral, and consciously did what was evil, their punishments will be merciless as they were merciless.