“Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones,
into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;’”
– Matthew 25:41
‘Two interesting aspects of eternal judgment are revealed in this passage, and both of these points indicate a lack of absolute foreknowledge on God’s part.
First, hell was prepared, that is to say, it has not always existed. God prepared it—he brought it into being for a purpose. If hell had always existed, “prepared” would be a poor choice of words. The eternal nature of the fire is spoken of in reference to the future existence of hell, but there is no indication hell has existed for all eternity in the past (Matthew 18:8; Mark 9:48; Jude 7; Revelation 20:10).
Second, the eternal fire was prepared for a particular group of beings—the devil and his angels. But in this text in Matthew, we see groups of humans (nations) being sent away into the fire which was prepared for someone else. As Isaiah 5:14 says, “Sheol has enlarged its throat and opened its mouth without measure; And Jerusalem’s splendor, her multitude, her din of revelry, and the jubilant within her, descend into it.” Why would Sheol have to enlarge its throat or open its mouth? Could this be because hell was made for the devil and his angels, and humans were never expected to go there? If God knew from all eternity who would be in hell, why did he not make it the right size from the beginning? That God had to change the size of Sheol indicates that when it was first prepared—for the devil and his angels—it was not large enough to accommodate the humans who chose, by their own will, to join the angelic beings in this place of punishment.
Lastly, if hell was prepared for the devil and his angels, this indicates it was prepared after the rebellion in heaven. Otherwise, if a God with absolute foreknowledge made hell for all who would eventually rebel against him, why was it not made large enough in the first place?’
Source: Michael Saia, Does God Know The Future?, chapter 10: Texts Against Foreknowledge, Matthew 25:41 ,p 225.
Bible quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB). Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
In the words of Gordon C. Olson:
Or in the words of early church father Irenaeus:
“And this same thing does the Lord also say in the Gospel, to those who are found upon the left hand: Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, which my Father has prepared for the devil and his angels; indicating that eternal fire was not originally prepared for man, but for him who beguiled man, and caused him to offend— for him, I say, who is chief of the apostasy, and for those angels who became apostates along with him.”
– Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book III, chapter 23, 3.
On God not having a secret plan of damning a certain group to hell:
“Before The Foundation of The World” (is a mistranslation)
On the open nature of the future:
On the nature of the lake of fire: