For those who might find it of interest. St Andrew of Caesarea wrote one of the earliest commentaries on the Apocalypse. It is available online. I have not read it, but according to Fr Brian Daley (The Hope of the Early Church), St Andrew understands the divinely ordained eternal punishment of hell to be punitive and retributive, not medicinal and therapeutic. And that really is the question, isn't it?
That is the commentary I quoted in reply 37. I haven't read the whole commentary, but from what I have looked at (which is unfortunately only a few passages), he does describe hell as punitive and retributive, but at the same time says that the same fire that burns sinners is the same fire that illumines the saints.
I think that sums it up, from what I have read of the Church's teaching on hell. But from that and the Lord's words about it in the Gospel, I don't favor drawying the schewed conclusion that "we are sinners in the hands of an angry God." We are sinners, of course, but 1. we do not ascribe human passions to God and 2. God is the lover of mankind, who came to save us, who desires our salvation, and who works His will for salvation in ways past our understanding. As the master of life and death, he takes life from someone at His time. He is a just judge, but He is not indiferent. His justice is not human justice, after all. But it is utterly just so that no demons may have any kind of case. His mercy is also not human mercy, and He pours it out to such an extent and purpose that no one need have reason to feel ashamed or afraid of retribution when he approaches in penitence. I think, frankly, that information about the last judgment and heaven and hell is deliberately vague. That God has revealed only what is enough and no more. It is quite an easy thing for Him to counfound human intelligence, and He does this for His good purpose.
In Orthodoxy there are dichotomies--things which while appearing opposite, are both equally true. God is merciful; God is just. God is transcendent, God is imminent. God is unapproachable; God dwells in our very hearts.
Many non-Orthodox writers who speak of God tend only to focus on one thing or the other, giving a skewed teaching.