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Aquinas argues that angels achieve their end by a single meritorious act. They either choose God, thereby possessing the Beatific Vision, or the reject him and fails permanently to achieve the end they were created for (Beatific Vision).

So, if the demons (fallen angels) have chosen to go against God and since they cannot "change their mind" due to how the angelic nature operates, aren't they already in hell (i.e. lost the Beatific Vision forever) and aren't they already suffering the pangs of hell?

But, I found some verses from Scripture that seems to suggest the fallen angels are still awaiting their end (hell) until Final Judgement:

And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day. (Jude 1:6)

For if God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast them to pits of nether gloom to be kept until judgment. (2 Peter 2:4)

So, are the demons already in hell suffering its pangs?
How do we understand the quotations from Scripture?

I would appreciate answers that are consistent with the Catholic teaching.

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  • This question requires clarity on whether 'hell' refers to hades (the place of deceased and disembodied spirits) until final judgment or gehenna (also the lake of fire) once final judgment takes place.
    – Nigel J
    May 14 at 8:26
  • I'm using the language of the CCC. As I understand, gehenna is the "place of punishment" of the wicked, i.e. those who lost Beatific Vision for all eternity suffer for all eternity due to this loss (the chief punishment). My question is: are the angels who chose against God and fell from grace and thus from the Beatific Vision suffering in hell from this loss (as the souls who died in mortal sin are) or are their sufferings of hell yet to start i.e. after the Final Judgement? May 14 at 16:16

2 Answers 2

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Are the fallen angels already in hell?

The short answer is yes.

For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but delivered them, drawn down by infernal ropes to the lower hell, unto torments, to be reserved unto judgment. - 2 Peter 2:4

Be sober and watch: because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour. - 1 Peter 5:8

When not in hell proper, they take hell with them.

The demon when not in hell take their interior torments of hell with them. So too the angels that come to our side to protect us are always in the state of being in the presence of the beatific vision and the joys of heaven.

The demons not in hell, still take their Hell with them. The subject of hell is one not clearly understood. Hell could be a state or an actual physical location. We simply do not know everything. Fr. Gabriele Amorth, one of the most famous exorcists in the Catholic Church, in his book An Exorcist Tells His Story, tells us that at the point of liberation of the possessed he condemns the possessor to the Foot of the Cross of Jesus. (A far greater torment than Hell itself in the Devil’s eyes.) He make note that most exorcists condemn then to hell from whence they came.

In the biography of the now canonized St. Mary of Jesus Crucified, Vie de Soeur Marie de Jesus Cruucifie (1846-1878), Religious Carmmelete Converse (1913), by Fr. Estate, he writes the following as what was revealed by the Demon during a diabolic possession of this saint that lasted 100 days! The following is my translation from the French (page 122):

The Devil will come one last time; he spoke of the arrival of Lucifer himself: “Our Leader, he said, hardly ever leaves hell. In passing over the the body of this Arab, he will so much burn it, that you you will not be able to touch it with your finger until the Master (meaning God or Jesus) heals the body in his own time.

St. Thomas has this to say on the subject:

The angels in their own nature stand midway between God and men. Now the order of Divine providence so disposes, that it procures the welfare of the inferior orders through the superior. But man's welfare is disposed by Divine providence in two ways: first of all, directly, when a man is brought unto good and withheld from evil; and this is fittingly done through the good angels. In another way, indirectly, as when anyone assailed is exercised by fighting against opposition. It was fitting for this procuring of man's welfare to be brought about through the wicked spirits, lest they should cease to be of service in the natural order. Consequently a twofold place of punishment is due to the demons: one, by reason of their sin, and this is hell; and another, in order that they may tempt men, and thus the darksome atmosphere is their due place of punishment.

Now the procuring of men's salvation is prolonged even to the judgment day: consequently, the ministry of the angels and wrestling with demons endure until then. Hence until then the good angels are sent to us here; and the demons are in this dark atmosphere for our trial: although some of them are even now in hell, to torment those whom they have led astray; just as some of the good angels are with the holy souls in heaven. But after the judgment day all the wicked, both men and angels, will be in hell, and the good in heaven. - Whether our atmosphere is the demons' place of punishment? (Summa Theologica I q. 64 a. 4)

We see that Satan is in hell in the Visions of Hell of St. Francis of Rome. I will add a caveat here. Visions, even of saints are not always to be considered accurate and the the Church has not pronounced a definitive doctrine on Hell or the state of the unholy angels as of yet.

She said that the devils are divided up into a one to two ratio. She says that one third of the devils are in hell, and those are the ones who actively fought against Michael and angels in the war to dethrone God. According to her, the remaining two thirds of the devils are here on earth and in the air, and these are the ones who sat on the sidelines during the war, and who refused to take sides (i.e., lukewarm). The ones in hell can only come to earth with the express permission of God, when He wants to punish men the most severely for their sins. The devils already on earth can cause havoc with the weather, and they have the job of testing men and women’s faith by seeing if they can get them to sin against God. They are the members of the lowest rank of devils, and they are daily counteracted in their nefarious actions by our guardian angels. These earthly demons will eventually wind up in hell, but since they didn’t rebel outright, but in a passive manner, they do not suffer the pains of hell just yet.

She says that Lucifer is in the lowest place in hell, and he was formerly the highest of the Seraphim angels. He is in charge of the sin of pride. Below him in the hellish hierarchy is Asmodeus, the former head of the Cherubim. His great sin is lust, and his job is to destroy marriages. Then comes Mammon, the former head of the Thrones. His great sin is greed. Then comes Beelzebul, the former head of the Dominations. His great sins are idolatry and the occult.

This reminds me of Pope Paul III’s amusing statements to Biagio da Cesena (Spoiler beware alert):“It was widely said that when Cesena complained to Pope Paul III, the pontiff joked that his jurisdiction did not extend to hell and the portrait [of Biagio da Cesena in hell] would have to remain.”

Biagio da Cesena, Papal Master of Ceremonies of Pope Paul III portrayed in hell by Michelangelo. The Last Judgement can be seen by all who visit the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican.

An interesting thought of where Satan is comes from Dante:

In Dante's Inferno, Satan is portrayed as a giant demon, frozen mid-breast in ice at the center of Hell. Satan has three faces and a pair of bat-like wings affixed under each chin. As Satan beats his wings, he creates a cold wind that continues to freeze the ice surrounding him and the other sinners in the Ninth Circle. The winds he creates are felt throughout the other circles of Hell. In his three mouths, he chews on Judas Iscariot, Marcus Junius Brutus, and Gaius Cassius Longinus. Scholars consider Satan to be "a once splendid being (the most perfect of God's creatures) from whom all personality has now drained away". Satan, also known as Lucifer, was formerly the Angel of Light and once tried to usurp the power of God. As punishment, God banished Satan out of Heaven to an eternity in Hell as the ultimate sinner. Dante illustrates a less powerful Satan than most standard depictions; he is slobbering, wordless, and receives the same punishments in Hell as the rest of the sinners. In the text, Dante vividly illustrates Satan's grotesque physical attributes. - Dante's Satan

Satan is trapped in the frozen central zone in the Ninth Circle of Hell, Inferno, Canto 34.

Satan is trapped in the frozen central zone in the Ninth Circle of Hell, Inferno, Canto 34.

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2 Peter 2:4 ESV

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment;

This line from the New Testament which is accepted scripture by the Catholic Church does state that devils are already in Hell, with some in chains.

You may be interested in the article titled "Enoch's Interactions With Fallen Angels" by Teresa Seputis.

Enoch is mentioned with high regard within the Old and New Testaments of the Catholic Bibles. The Book of Enoch also helps to make sense of our beginnings, advancements, and the Nephilim mentioned in the Old Testament.

Enoch had multiple visions of hell, where the fallen angels were to one day be imprisoned. Chapter 18 verses 12b - 16 describes one of them, "And beyond that abyss I saw a place which had no firmament of the heaven above, and no firmly founded earth beneath it: there was no water upon it, and no birds, but it was a waste and horrible place. I saw there seven stars like great burning mountains, and to me, when I inquired regarding them, The angel said: 'This place is the end of heaven and earth: this has become a prison for the stars and the host of heaven. And the stars which roll over the fire are they which have transgressed the commandment of the Lord in the beginning of their rising, because they did not come forth at their appointed times. And He was wroth with them, and bound them till the time when their guilt should be consummated (even) for ten thousand years.'

In Chapter 21, Enoch is terrified of Hell and of the flaming abyss he saw there and called it a "spectacle of the pain."

You can read the Book of Enoch here: The Book of Enoch.

Now what does the Lord mention in the Bible?

Well in the Story of Lazarus and the Rich Man Jesus is NOT talking in a parable because He mentions real people's names. In none of the parables does he use the names of real people. Jesus is informing the crowd (bear in mind that this is before the death of Jesus) that Lazarus and Abraham are currently in Heaven, and that the Rich Man is currently in Hell.

In the account of the death of Jesus, Jesus says to the man who accepts Him, "Today, you will be with me in paradise." That means as soon as Jesus died He was in Heaven. When the man who ackowledge Him died, he was in Heaven. But when the other man who cursed Jesus died, he went straight to Hell.

The following article contains the testimonies of 5 Catholic saints who have seen hell in spiritual visions: 5 Saints Who Had Terrifying Visions of Hell.

These saints are:

  1. Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich: “No one could behold without trembling
  2. St. Teresa of Avila: “On fire, and torn to pieces”
  3. St. John Bosco: “Indescribable terror”
  4. Sr. Lucy of Fatima: “Shrieks and groans of pain and despair”
  5. St. Maria Faustyna Kowalska: “A place of great torture”

According to Sr. Lucy of Fatima, the devils are in Hell torturing human lost souls.

So, devils are in Hell. But they cause human suffering. After God's final judgement, both devils and humans suffer together in the eternal lake of fire according to the Book of Revelation.

Here are two articles from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition:

391 Behind the disobedient choice of our first parents lurks a seductive voice, opposed to God, which makes them fall into death out of envy. Scripture and the Church's Tradition see in this being a fallen angel, called "Satan" or the "devil".The Church teaches that Satan was at first a good angel, made by God: "The devil and the other demons were indeed created naturally good by God, but they became evil by their own doing."

1035 The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, "eternal fire." The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.

You can read about the Seven Teaching on Hell from St. Thomas Aquinas on this blog post:https://blog.adw.org/2020/06/seven-teachings-on-hell-from-st-thomas-aquinas/.

Here are the seven points:

  1. Does God love the souls in Hell? Yes.
  2. Is there any good at all in Hell? Yes. Are all the damned punished equally? No.
  3. Do the souls in Hell repent of what they have done? No, not directly.
  4. Is eternal punishment just? Yes.
  5. Do the souls in Hell hate God? No, not directly.
  6. Do the souls in hell wish they were dead? No.
  7. Do the souls in Hell see the blessed in Heaven? Summa Theologica, Supplement, q 98, art 9

Here is the quote from Summa Theologica, Supplement, q 98, art 9:

The damned, before the judgment day, will see the blessed in glory, in such a way as to know, not what that glory is like, but only that they are in a state of glory that surpasses all thought. This will trouble them, both because they will, through envy, grieve for their happiness, and because they have forfeited that glory. Hence it is written (Wisdom 5:2) concerning the wicked: “Seeing it” they “shall be troubled with terrible fear.”

After the judgment day, however, they will be altogether deprived of seeing the blessed: nor will this lessen their punishment, but will increase it; because they will bear in remembrance the glory of the blessed which they saw at or before the judgment: and this will torment them. Moreover, they will be tormented by finding themselves deemed unworthy even to see the glory which the saints merit to have

Bill Wiese has written an excellent book on the topic of Hell called 23 Questions About Hell: https://amzn.to/3Le3HwJ. I have personally read this book, and it makes 100% complete sense and answers many of the difficult and common questions that people have. Here is the list of 23 questions that are answered in his book:

  1. Isn't God mean for making hell?
  2. You Christians are narrow-minded; isn't there more than one way to heaven?
  3. Wouldn't God be mean and unloving for not allowing a good person into heaven?
  4. Wouldn't you say God is unloving for sending people to hell?
  5. Doesn't science dictate that man came from the animal kingdom?
  6. Where was God when the disaster (earthquake, tsunami, hurricane, etc.) struck?
  7. If there is a God, then why is there suo much evil in the world?
  8. Seventy years of sin - does that deserve an eternity of punishment?
  9. Didn't Jesus preach love and acceptance?
  10. Isn't preaching "hell" using scare tactics?
  11. Doesn't God consider my heart? I mean well!
  12. What about the person in the remotest part of the jungle who never heard of Jesus?
  13. Isn't everyone God's child?
  14. Can't God overlook my sins?
  15. Can't God just create another place for man to go besides hell?
  16. Wouldn't most people in hell agree to accept the Lord if given the chance?
  17. Can't God just put a stop to the evil that is occuring?
  18. Is the fire in hell real or metaphorical?
  19. Why are demons themselves not in torment?
  20. Since God is a loving God, all who reject Him are annihilated (and not left to suffer eternally), right?
  21. How does the Christian religion differ from any other?
  22. Is it fair for someone to live a wicked life and at the last moment "get saved"?
  23. How can I be assured I won't go to hell?

As you can see, regarding Hell and questions, this book is comprehensive. But if you want a very detailed King James Version refernced book on Hell that takes you through the various scriptures that teaches us about Hell, then you will want to read the book by Bill Wiese called Hell: https://amzn.to/3FIOcvE. It is a thick book and hard to get through. But is a really interesting read. There are so many KJV references on the topic of Hell and I would say that from a Biblical perspective, that this is an authorative text. In this book, Bill discusses the "Spirits in prison" and the devil and demons on Earth and in Sheol.

Father Jose Maniyangat of St. Catherine of Sienna Catholic Church in Orange Park, Florida had a near death experience in which his guardian angel excorted him to hell, then purgatory, and then finally heaven. You can read his testimony here: http://www.courageouspriest.com/priest-sees-bishops-priests-heaven-hell-death-experience. This is what he had to say about hell:

A Visit To Hell

First the angel escorted me to hell. It was an awful sight! I saw Satan and the devils, an unquenchable fire of about 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, worms crawling, people screaming and fighting, others being tortured by demons. The angel told me that all these sufferings were due to unrepented mortal sins. Then, I understood that there are seven degrees of suffering or levels according to the number and kinds of mortal sins committed in their earthly lives. The souls looked very ugly, cruel and horrific. It was a fearful experience. I saw people whom I knew, but I am not allowed to reveal their identities. The sins that convicted them were mainly abortion, homosexuality, euthanasia, hatefulness, unforgiveness and sacrilege. The angel told me that if they had repented, they would have avoided hell and gone instead to purgatory. I also understood that some people who repent from these sins might be purified on earth through their sufferings. This way they can avoid purgatory and go straight to heaven. I was surprised when I saw in hell even priests and Bishops, some of whom I never expected to see. Many of them were there because they had misled the people with false teaching and bad example.

This testimony matches up with testimonies from Bill Wiese, Mary Katherine Baxter, and hwa bi Jung.

hwa bi Jung is interesting as an artist, as God allowed her to see Heaven and Hell. The reason she was chosen is because electronic equipment cannot be used to film what is in Heaven or Hell. And so God chose her as an artist to show the human race what Heaven and Hell are really like in picture form. In her paintings of Hell, she has seen devils torturing humans. You can view her official channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDGpqjJ_J_Bu3ooEKp7wK-w/featured.

You may also want to view these Bible verses on Hell: https://www.openbible.info/topics/hell, these verses on devils: https://www.openbible.info/topics/devils, these verses on demons: https://www.openbible.info/topics/demons, these verses on purgatory: https://www.openbible.info/topics/purgatory, these verses on angels: https://www.openbible.info/topics/angels, these verses on Heaven: https://www.openbible.info/topics/heaven,these verses on the New Earth: https://www.openbible.info/topics/new_earth, and these verses on God: https://www.openbible.info/topics/god.

The Open Bible (https://www.openbible.info/topics/) is an excellent resource for finding what the Bible has to say on a specific topic, as it lists upto 100 verses on the search term. Another favourite of mine is Bible Gateway(https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/) as you can view the same Bible passage in various translations such as KJV, NKJV, NIV, Amplified Bible, Complete Jewish Bible and many more.

It is worth looking at the same verse in different translations, because some translations convey the true message of what's been said more than others.

To conclude, there are many text Canonical and None Canonical as well as Catholic testimonies and None Catholic testimonies that mention Heaven and Hell. And so it does appear, taking 2 Peter 2:4 as truth, that there are already fallen angels in Hell.

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  • I agree with your premises that according to Catholicism, the ”devils are in Hell.” However, your answer could be more well received if you added doctrinal points on this subject matter (say from St. Thomas Aquinas), rather rthan simply relying on visions of saints which the Church regards as private revelation and thus not doctrine. As far as the Book of Enoch is concerned, it is not held in high regard at all and is listed as apocrypha by all Christian denominations, except the the Ethiopian Coptic Orthodox Church. To say we hold this book in high regard in totally untrue.
    – Ken Graham
    May 14 at 1:30
  • After reading the quotation from 1 Enoch, I'm getting the impression that the fallen angels are already "in hell", just as the souls of humans immediately enjoy the Beatific Vision after death or is immediately cast into the "everlasting fire". The difference I guess is that these fallen angels are allowed to mislead people on earth while they suffer from the "everlasting fire" (as hell is a state and not a place) and after final judgement, they are no longer allowed to harm those in the New Creation in any manner. Am I correct? May 14 at 6:00
  • @Rich_Dragonfruit_789, you are correct. The offspring of the fallen angels interbreeding with humans are disembodied spirits known as demons. The fallen angels themselves are devils. Demons are Earthbound and mislead people to detroy them. Devils and demons also are in Hell and torture human spirits. That is why Catholic Priests do have to perform exorcisms just like Jesus did as recorded in the New Testament. You may also be interested in Revelation 16:1-21 regarding frog-like devils decieving the nations of the world! Hell is the centre of the Earth at present.
    – user52134
    May 14 at 9:51
  • @KenGraham, I suppose you are right. According to the Catholic Catechism, Second Edition, article 1035 states: "1035 The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, "eternal fire." The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs."
    – user52134
    May 14 at 9:55
  • The OP desires an answer consistent with the Catholic teaching. Your post is in large part based on Bill Wiese, a Protestant Christian and is not what Rich_Dragonfruit_789 is desiring as a reference. If you look around you should be able to remain on scope with a little more research. I would recommend taking out the non-Catholic elements out as that would probably suffice here.
    – Ken Graham
    May 15 at 0:46

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