Eternal torment or annihilation?

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Discussion: Truth vs. an annihilationist!

Click to ViewDetailed outline: Hell is annihilation and not eternal punishment

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Debate: Truth vs. an annihilationist!

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Discussion: The Annihilationist vs. the truth!

  1. 1 Intro
  2. 2 Revelation and the Second Death
  3. Sheol and the First Death
  4. Lazarus, the Richman & Paradise
  5. 5 Nature of Man
  6. 6 Definitions
  7. 7 Summary
  8. 8 False argument refuted: "a loving God wouldn't do it!"

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1. Intro:

The conditionalist rejects the Biblical idea that God would punish the sinner for all eternity, and opts to take a position in between the Bible and the annihilationist, arguing that God will punish the lost for a time, and then annihilate them. The more wicked, the longer and more painful the punishment, but after a time, they will be allowed to fade into oblivion.

The Annihilationist wrote in denying the doctrine of eternal punishment:

>The traditionalist doctrines are indeed drawn from paganism and >Catholicism, although some practically foam at the mouth when this is >pointed out. Obviously, nobody likes to be told their doctrine has pagan >roots, but "facts is facts!" Those who have taken the time to truly dig >deeply into the origins of this traditionalist doctrine KNOW this, and it is >NOT "belittling" to simply declare the facts. If the Emperor is naked and >walking down the street, is it belittling to TELL him so, or is it more >belittling to remain silent and let him parade his privates for all to see?!!

As was the case when, upon hearing his English teacher say that, 'Two positives are always positive, and a negative and a positive are always negative, but two positives are never negative.' The young boy in the back said, "Yeah, right."

Several years ago on an e-mail list I was accused of living in the dark ages, and being of an evil and malevolent nature, and committing blasphemy against God, because I believed that Bible meant what it said when it indicated that the fate of the wicked means unending punishing. I had no particular interest in studying about Hell, I'm not going there, and was not particularly interested in the travel brochures. In the defense of the conditionalist argument, folks on that list kept insisting that I read Fudge's book The Fire That Consumes (I'd never heard of Fudge prior to that). In 2000 I finally came across a copy of his book and purchased it.

As much I wanted Fudge to be right (most of my kin are not Christians other than in the vaguest most nominal sense) after a long period of trying to make his position work I put it on the shelf. Too many forced conclusions and leaps in the argumentation. A year or so later I came across Workman's material and felt it adequately addressed some of the same problems I saw in Fudge's book. Later I got Morey's book Death and the Afterlife. Being constantly pushed on this point by annihilationist and conditionalists on the more left leaning discussion groups I figured it was time to get serious about the discussion. I laid Fudge's book, The Fire that Consumes, out along side Morey's book and dug around in all my lexicons, dictionary and other resources using KJV, NIV, ASV, NASV, and RSV Bibles, and two large bottles of Excedrin [I went through Excedrin headaches #'s 141 - 382]. When the dust settled, Morey's was clearly the stronger and more scholarly position, despite his occasional laps into Calvinistic interpretations.

My recommendation is that anyone serious about the matter ought to get both Fudge's and Morey's books and lay them side by side and decide for themselves which writer best represents what the Bible is saying.

Morey's book is available at 1-800 633-3216. Order # 10285, cost $14.99.

The toughest part of this was trying to figure out how to organize it, and keep it under 100K word count (the initial rough draft, between the Annihilationist's stuff and mine was 98K). While I was working on it, the Annihilationist tossed reprints of several of his supporting essays back on the list, so for the most part folks could refer to those, so by cutting those parts out, shortened this considerably. For the most part, I'll quote enough of the Annihilationist needed for clarity. Much of this was stuff written in prior discussions, not all of it in response to the Annihilationist, but covers the same material, or at least close enough for government work.

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2. Revelation and Second Death

the Annihilationist writes (combined from a couple different posts):

>"There they will suffer a horrible process of dying which will result in

>a death from which there will never be any subsequent resurrection to

>life. It is the 'second death,' and it is final. ...


>The ultimate destiny of the unredeemed is DEATH" ...


>"I believe that when a person is DEAD, then that person (body and >being/soul) has been completely separated/severed from LIFE. Death, >therefore, is a cessation of life for the entire person, not just a part of >him."

This seems to be a good place to start.

About the lake of fire in John's Revelation. McGuiggan and Foy E. Wallace, Jr are correct when they point out that the final fate of the wicked is not being discussed in Rev 20. The passage offers nothing one way or the other on the matter.

Wallace (The Book of Revelation) writes (p 423):

"Let it be impressed on the minds of the readers of Revelation, that these visions of resurrection; of second death and judgment; were all extraordinary and of special character. They were not intended for future and general application. They belonged to the apocalypse, and the apocalypse belonged to that period. The depiction of the first resurrection and the second death were not meant for expositions of the doctrine of the resurrection from the dead and the future punishment of the wicked, abundantly taught elsewhere in numerous scriptures. Though the imagery has basis in these fundamental doctrinal truths, the visions of Revelation were limited in the application to the pageantry of apocalyptic description of the fortunes of the early church and the divine judgments on its enemies."

McGuiggan (Book of Revelation) writes (p289):

"I've said several times already that the lake of fire is a symbol, in this book, of total and irrevocable defeat. The devil would have been thrown into this after the Roman defeat, were it not for the fact that he would be permitted to try again with others. This last effort summarizes all the later attempts (though none in particular), so that we now have utter defeat, not only in one specific attempt, but in all he attempts. The lake of fire says he is altogether and forever defeated. No one comes out of the lake of fire to do anything. These verses were not written as a dissertation on eternal punishment. We have a book full of pictures teaching truths dealing with the distress of the church in the early days of its life. Those pictures set forth truths which lie behind the pictures. See the comments on 14:10ff."

McGuiggan's comments on 14:10ff (p 210):

"And he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone -- Remember you are reading figures! We've been looking at pictures all along asking ourselves, what do the pictures mean. Lets not start now and take the pictures literally. ... Here in our present text is the fate of the wicked spelled out. Many of the saints had writhed in the fires started by Rome, but they only lasted until the body was overcome -- then there was rest. For the wicked, our vision says there will be no rest, just endless writhing. I'd have you notice that this torment takes place: In the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb. Hell, the final end of all the unforgiven, ~is not here under discussion~. The everlasting punishment of the unforgiven does not take place in heaven! It does not take place in the presence of the holy angels or the Lamb. Paul says:" who shall suffer punishment, even eternal destruction, from the face of the Lord and from the glory of his might." 2 Thess 1:9)."

<end quotes>

There is no clothing [8-)] for the conditionalist tradition in the Revelation of John, concerning the lake of fire and the second death. Even if Rev 20 were looking at the punishing of the wicked, the lake of fire bringing the second death does not support the Annihilationist's proposition. Basically the Second death is same as the first, infinitely longer, probably worse. If the second death is like the first death, then non-existence is not in view. We'll pick this up later

the Annihilationist argues that death is death, so the second death must be like the first so lets consider the first death.

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3. Sheol and the First Death

1 Thess 4:13-18; lets consider 'those who are asleep.'

Whatever Paul means by asleep, his point is that they will not miss the second coming of Jesus. Robertson (p. 31) tells us that:

"Greeks and Romans used this figure of sleep for death as Jesus does (Jn 11:11) and N.T. generally..."

Sleep was used as an euphemism for death in the ancient world. Ancient cultures that did not believe that the dead lost consciousness still used the phrase, "sleep" to describe death. Similar to our phrases for death like, 'passed on,' or, 'passed away,' 'crossed over, or even 'kicked the bucket'. We see the figure of sleep used for death in Matt 9:24; Act 7:60; 1 Cor 11;30; 1 Cor 15;6, 20, 51; 2 Pet 3;4.

One of the most enduring questions of mankind is: "What happens after we die?"

Many suggest that death is a soul-sleep, or suspension of life until the final judgment. This is the teaching of men, and cannot be harmonized with the scripture's representation of what happens between the end of life and the final judgment.

Zoroaster and the Exilic influences

There is much discussion in various circles today that on the subject of the afterlife, many now claim that our Old Testament scriptures on the afterlife have more to do with the Persian religion of Zoroaster than with revelation from God.

Curiously what these folks overlook is that Zoroaster (Zarathrustra) was not born until around 600-500 BC. And the documents of the Old Testament are much older. Roughly 100 -150 years before Zoroaster was born, Sargon II transplanted Hebrews from the Northern tribes into the region where Zoroaster was born. The most logical scenario is that the minor similarities between Zoroaster's religion and the Hebrews' is one of the Hebrew influence on the thinking of Zoroaster. The Hebrews were there first, Zoroaster borrowed from them.

Just one of the areas affected by the proposition that the Old Testament is a rip-off of the Persian religion during the exile, relates to the ideas about the afterlife. It is frequently said that that the Israelites had no concept of the afterlife, and that what we as Christians teach, is based on Zoroastrianism as it was absorbed by the Jews in the period after the exile, and refined during the years between the Old Testament and New Testament writers under Greek influence.

Afterlife as viewed in the Old Testament

It bears mentioning that the Old Testament as a whole is very reticent about any mention of the afterlife whether to punishment or reward. That does not mean it's not there.

The central event of the Old Testament is the Exodus and the Sinai Covenant. Throughout the Old Testament everything that happens is either a result of the Exodus and Sinai, or the struggle of the righteous prophets to restore the people to covenant living, based on what God did for the Nation in the Exodus. Consider this, the Israelites spent over 400 yrs in Egypt, a nation figuratively (and literally, considering the size of the Pyramids) overshadowed by death and preparation for the afterlife.

The Hebrews did not just forget about the existence of the afterlife. First, when the people left Egypt they took Joseph's bones with them.

Ex 13:19:

"And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him: for he had straitly sworn the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you; and ye shall carry up my bones away hence with you."

Strong's and other sources tell us that bones here is probably a reference to the body. Considering the importance of Joseph to Egypt at the time of his death, it is logical that he was mummified. Especially in light of Gen 50:26:

"So Joseph died, being a hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt."

Carrying the mummy of Joseph with the people through the Exodus would be a

constant reminder of the Egyptian views of the afterlife. The whole purpose of the mummy is preparation for the afterlife.

Other Old Testament considerations

Understanding of the Ancient Hebrew's view of afterlife comes in the form of the Hebrew understanding of the nature of the soul:

the translation of Enoch and Elijah; --If the Hebrews had no view of afterlife, then translated to what?

the prevalent views concerning necromancy (raising the spirits of the dead) -- prohibited by law, but to which Saul resorted, successfully (1 Sam 28)

the constant assertion that the dead were gathered to their fathers, even when buried extreme distances away

Then there are the explicit statements regarding the soul and afterlife in many passages including,

PS 16:10

"For thou wilt not leave my soul to Sheol;"

PS 49:8

"For the redemption of his ~soul~ is costly, and he should cease trying forever that he should ~live on eternally~"

Psa 139:7-8

"Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: ~If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, thou art there.~"

Eccl 12:14

"For God will bring every work into judgment, with every hidden thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil."

Dan 12:2

"And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt."

These passages should be sufficient to show that the Hebrews did have a concept of the afterlife, though these really do not directly address idea of soul-sleep.

The concept of the afterlife was well established (though with competing views) among the Jews prior to Jesus' time (except among the Sadducees, who denied the resurrection). Oddly enough, though others claim that the Jewish ideas of the afterlife are essentially Zoroasterism overlaid by Greek philosophy, the Sadducees rejected the idea of a resurrection (resuscitation of a corpse) based on Greek thought. Keep in mind that a

bodily resurrection was a stumbling block to the Greeks, Paul in Athens was mocked over his assertion that Jesus had been resurrected. The Greek view of the soul was too different from the Jewish/ Christian concept to be taken seriously by the Greeks.

When the Sadducees challenged Jesus on this point, asking the question about the woman who was repeatedly widowed and which of the brothers would be her husband in the afterlife, Jesus took them back to the Old Testament scripture.

In Ex 3:6 God said "I am the God of Abe/ Isaac/ Jacob"

Notice this is present tense. Jesus said that God is not the God of the dead but of the living. He points to the scripture in Ex 3:6 showing that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are still alive, though dead to us, physical death does not break the relationship between Man and God.

Ps 73:23,24

"Nevertheless I am continually with thee: Thou hast holden my right hand. Thou wilt guide me with thy counsel, And afterward receive me to glory."

We also see that the early Hebrews did have a concept of both punishment and reward in the afterlife.

For the wicked death is depressing and darkness; "the wicked shall be turned back unto Sheol." (Ps 7:17)

In reference to the fate of the wicked

Dt 32:22

"For a fire is kindled in My anger, and burns to the lowest part of sheol..."

Punishment awaits the wicked in the afterlife according to Hebrew thought. For the man of faith though, the story is different. The righteous did not see an afterlife of punishment in Sheol, but rather, a positive end.

Prov 12:28

"In the path of the righteous is life, and in its way there is no death"

We also see that for the righteous there is a rest and peace at the end of life...

"Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright, for there is a happy end to the man of peace." (Ps 37:37) and in Balaam's request (Num 23:10), "Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his."

Sheol was not the final resting place of man, but rather a temporary place, in which the punishment of the wicked in the "lowest Sheol" had already begun. Rest and peace would be found by the righteous. However it was not rest in Sheol the Hebrews were looking toward, but the rescue from Sheol, and resurrection and restoration of life with God.

PS 16:10

"For thou wilt not abandon my soul to Sheol"

For the Old Testament folks the idea was that God would rescue man from Sheol, not that God had intended for man to remain in Sheol.

the Annihilationist wrote:

>"Lest you think "poor demented, deluded the Annihilationist" has REALLY lost it here, >let me quote from an article by a well-known and respected scholar in >the churches of Christ: Dr. Jack P. Lewis (who was formerly a professor >at Harding Graduate School of Religion). In an article entitled "Living

>Soul," which appeared in the March 16, 1976 issue of FIRM >FOUNDATION, he began by quoting Gen. 2:7 and then he wrote the >following (I am only quoting a small portion of that article)":

Jack Lewis's article was re-printed in Exegesis of Difficult Passages p.7. the Annihilationist should've quoted the whole article, rather than lifting out a paragraph to fit his conclusions, implying that Lewis supports his position. Here's the facts that the Annihilationist left out, Lewis concludes his discussion writing:

"To make this observation is not at all to affirm that the Old Testament is materialistic. We are concerned at this time only with the biblical usage of one term. Neither is it to deny a distinction in biblical thought between men and other animals when one takes in consideration the whole Old Testament view. Man may perish like the animals, but he is different from them. Even here in Genesis in the creation account, God is not said to breathe into the animals of the breath of life; animals are made male and female; they are not said to be in God's image and likeness; they are not given dominion. Man is the crown of God's creation. He names the animals, and after the flood it is announced that man's blood is required of the beasts (Gen 9:5). The ultimate description of man's make-up is found in 1 Thess 5:23: "May your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."

Continuing on p 177 on the intermediate state of the dead Lewis writes:

"Neither the Old Testament nor the New Testament is materialistic. Daniel is grieved in his spirit within (Dan 7:15). Although Samson can pray that his nephesh die with the Philistine (Jud 16:30). Nephesh in a case of this sort means "person" and stands for the personal pronoun. Neither Testament encourages the idea of "soul sleeping" ... this usage is euphemistic to avoid the harsh reality of finality of death. It is comparable in force to our own phrase, "he passed away." Jesus contrasted the sleep of rest and the sleep of death (Jn 11:11-14)."

(we'll be looking at more of Lewis' comments later)

Lewis' conclusion as to the meaning of the facts is more in line with my view than the Annihilationist's. Lewis rejects the Annihilationist's proposition saying that the death of the body does not mean non-existence for the transcendent part of man. Our well respected professor Lewis offers no clothing for the Annihilationist's emperor. 8-)

We see this same picture in the story of Lazarus and the Richman, in a place of waiting, from which, at the resurrection, men will be re-united with their bodies to await the final judgment. (the Annihilationist labors to remove the story from consideration, but his conclusions do not match the facts, see later comments)

Though the Old Testament does not say much about the early Hebrews' view of the afterlife, this ought to be sufficient to show that they did indeed have a concept of the afterlife, although they were reluctant to write about it.

So what is the state of man between death and the final judgment?

Luke 16:19-31 Stop and read before going on.

Notice this is essentially what we see in the Hebrew view of Sheol. There are those who seek to rob the story of its power by calling it a parable (the Annihilationist tries to move it out of the parable genre and into yet a different literary type, the fable). Although it does have some of the characteristics of parable, it does not follow suit. Regardless of parable or real people, Jesus never taught an un-truth in any parable (see later comments). The significance of the story is more in the realm of how we should live in this life, but that does not detract from the truths revealed about the next life.

As already noted, it was common for the folks in the Old Testament to refer to death as being "gathered to his people" or "being gathered to his fathers." Even though they might be far from the ancestral burial grounds.

For instance in Gen 15:15 Abraham is told by God that he would "go to his fathers in peace, and he would be buried in a good old age." But we know that Abraham was buried far from Ur of the Chaldees, geographically nowhere near his fathers. Later in Gen 25:8 we see the prophecy fulfilled that "when Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man full of years, and was gathered to his people."

Being gathered to "Abraham's bosom" is the New Testament equivalent to being "gathered to your fathers" or "gathered to your people" in the Old Testament. The transcendent part of man is gathered to his fathers, although the body is buried far from the family burial plot.

As with the picture of Sheol, we see that while some are gathered to their fathers, and is "a happy end to the man of peace" (Ps 37:37). That others are to be tormented, "For a fire is kindled in My anger, and burns to the lowest part of sheol..." Dt 32:22.

Sheol and the Grave

Is Sheol simply the Grave? This is one of the sacred cows put forth to support the conditionalist tradition, but cannot be upheld in scripture. Sheol is more than just the grave. Bodies may be unconscious in the grave, but those in Sheol are viewed as being conscious (Isa 14:4-7; 44:23; Ezek. 31:16; 32:21).

NOTE: There is more than one word in the Old Testament translated into English as "grave."

A. Gen 35:20:

"And Jacob set up a pillar upon her grave: the same is the Pillar of Rachel's grave unto this day."

Here "grave" is "qubruah" according to Strongs: "keb-oo-raw', keb-oo-raw' Feminine passive participle of H6912; sepulture; (concretely) a sepulchre: - burial, burying place, grave, sepulchre."

Brown Driver and Briggs (BDB) Definition:

1) grave, burial, burial site

1a) grave

1b) burial

Wilson's OTWS: "A grave, a sepluchre,"

See also: Gen 1:5; Eze 32:23,24; 37:12;

B. (Job 30:24)

"Howbeit he will not stretch out his hand to the grave, though they cry in his destruction."

Strongs: "beh-ee'

From H1158; a prayer: - grave."

BDB Definition: "1) ruin, heap of ruins"

Wilson's OTWS: ""A hill, a grave."

C. Job 33:22

"Yea, his soul draweth near unto the grave, and his life to the destroyers."

Strongs: "shakh'-ath

From H7743; a pit (especially as a trap); figuratively destruction: - corruption, destruction, ditch, grave, pit."

BDB Definition:

1) pit, destruction, grave

1a) pit (for catching lions)

1b) pit (of Hell)

Wilson's OTWS: "Pit; corruption"

D. Gen 37:35

"And all his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted; and he said, For I will go down to Sheol to my son mourning. And his father wept for him."

sheh-ole' Strongs: From H7592; hades or the world of the dead (as if a subterranean retreat), including its accessories and inmates: - grave, hell, pit.

BDB Definition:

1) sheol, underworld, grave, hell, pit

1a) the underworld

1b) Sheol - the Old Testament designation for the abode of the dead

1b1) place of no return

1b2) without praise of God

1b3) wicked sent there for punishment

1b4) righteous not abandoned to it

1b5) of the place of exile (figuratively)

1b6) of extreme degradation in sin

Wilson's Old TestamentWS: "The grave as a state distinguished from the present life; as the receptacle of the dead."

Keil & Delitzsch:

"Sheol denotes the place where departed souls are gathered after death; it is an infinitive form from ùÑàì to demand, the demanding, applied to the place which inexorably summons all men into its shade (cf. Pro_30:15-16; Isa_5:14; Hab_2:5). "

In addition we find that the Old Testament burial place was called Kever, Strongs:

"keh'-ber, kib-raw'

From H6912; a sepulchre: - burying place, grave, sepulchre."

As in:

Gen 23:4 "I am a stranger and a sojourner with you. Give me a possession of a burying-place with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight."

Morey (Death and the Afterlife p 76-77) explains: <begin quote>:

"An examination of the usages of kever and Sheol reveals that Sheol cannot mean the grave. The following twenty contrasts between kever and Sheol demonstrate this point:

1. While kabar (to bury) is used in connection with kever it is never used in connection with Sheol. We can bury someone in a grave but we cannot bury anyone in Sheol (Gen. 23:4, 6, 9,19, 20; 49:30, 31, etc.).

2. While kever is found in its plural form "graves" (Ex. 14:11), the word Sheol is never pluralized.

3. While a grave is located at a specific site (Ex. 14:11), Sheol is never localized, because it is everywhere accessible at death no matter where the death takes place. No grave is necessary in order to go to Sheol.

4. While we can purchase or sell a grave (Gen. 23:4-20), Scripture never speaks of Sheol being purchased or sold.

5. While we can own a grave as personal property (Gen. 23:4-20), nowhere in scripture is Sheol owned by man.

6. While we can discriminate between graves and pick the "choicest site" (Gen.23:6), nowhere in Scripture is a "choice" Sheol pitted against a "poor" Sheol.

7. While we can drop a dead body into a grave (Gen. 50:13), no one can drop anyone into Sheol.

8. While we can erect a monument over a grave (Gen. 35:20), Sheol is never spoken of as having monuments.

9. While we can, with ease, open or close a grave (2 Kings 23:16), Sheol is never opened or closed by man.

10. While we can touch a grave (Num. 19:18), no one is ever said in Scripture to touch Sheol.

11. While touching a grave brings ceremonial defilement (Num. 19:16), the Scriptures never speak of anyone being defiled by Sheol.

12. While we can enter and leave a tomb or grave (2 Kings 23:16), no one is ever said to enter and then leave Sheol.

13. While we can choose the site of our own grave (Gen. 23:4-9), Sheol is never spoken of as something we can pick and choose.

14. While we can remove or uncover the bodies or bones in a grave (2 Kings 23:16), the Scriptures never speak of man removing or uncovering anything in Sheol.

15. While we can beautify a grave with ornate carvings or pictures (Gen. 35:20), Sheol is never beautified by man.

16. While graves can be robbed or defiled (Jer. 8:1,2), Sheol is never spoken of as being robbed or defiled by man.

17. While a grave can be destroyed by man (Jer. 8:1,2), nowhere in Scripture is man said to be able to destroy Sheol.

18. While a grave can be full, Sheol is never full (Prov. 27:20).

19. While we can see a grave, Sheol is always invisible.

20. While we can visit the graves of loved ones, nowhere in Scripture is man said to visit Sheol. p. 76,77

The first step in understanding any ancient or foreign word is to check the lexicons, dictionaries, encyclopedias, etc., which deal with that language. Brown, Driver and Briggs based their A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament on the work of Genesius, one of the greatest Hebrew scholars who ever lived. They define Sheol as: "The underworld... whither man descends at death" (p. 982)."

<end Quote>

Jack P. Lewis (p178) writes: <begin quotes>

"One can speak of the worm and of Sheol in the same description (Job 17;13-16); nevertheless, Sheol is clearly distinguished from the grave (qebher; Gen 23:4, etc). Even the unburied go down to Sheol (Is 14;19-20). Jacob thought the beasts had devoured Joseph, yet he expected to go to him in Sheol (Gen 37:35). Moses was gathered to his people and was buried in Moab (Deut 34:5-6); yet Miriam had been buried in the wilderness, Aaron on Mt Hor, and his mother who made the ark of bulrushes likely had been buried in the brickfields of Egypt. Moses (Deut 31:16), David, Ahaz, and Manasseh are all said to lie down with their fathers; yet none of them was buried in the family grave. ... "

Lewis again, (p 180):

"Nevertheless, existence in Sheol is a conscious existence. While certain passages speak of the nephesh as though it went to Sheol (Ps 16:10; 30:3; 86:13; 89:48; 94:17; Prove 23:14) an speak of the recovery from near death as the nephesh being brought back from Sheol, it is neither nephesh nor ruach that describes the inhabitants there. Rather they are "shades" (rephaim; Job 26:5; Prov 2:18; 21:16; Ps 88:10; Isa 14:9; 26:14), that is weak ones. Contrasted with earthly cares and sufferings, for one in distress like Job, Sheol is a place of "rest."...In a taunt song the prophet Isaiah presents a picture of the descent of the King of Babylon to Sheol (Isa 14:4ff). The shades already there rise up to greet the new arrival. Those who were kings of the nations rise from their thrones and taunt the king now that he has become as weak as the they have."

<end quotes>

Sheol in Rabbinic literature

Morey adds: <begin quote>

"It is universally recognized by modern Talmudic scholars that Sheol never meant the grave or unconsciousness in rabbinic literature. Ginzburg states that in rabbinic writings one finds a consistent conviction that "there exists after this world a condition of happiness or unhappiness for an individual." Guttman adds, "The Talmud, like the Apocryphal literature, knows of a kind of intermediate state of the soul between death and resurrection; true retribution will be dispensed only after the resurrection of the body. But along with this, we also find the fate in a retribution coming immediately after death and in a life of blessedness for the soul in the beyond."

The rabbinic tradition before, during and after the time of Christ describes the soul departing the body and descending into Sheol at death. The rabbis consistently pictured both the righteous and the wicked as conscious after death. The evidence is so overwhelming that the classic Princeton theologian, Charles Hodge, stated, "That the Jews believed in a conscious life after death is beyond dispute."

The annihilationist have never discovered any evidence that the majority of Jews believed that the soul was extinguished at death. There is no conflict in the rabbinic literature over this issue. p. 74 Not once is Hades the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word for grave (kever). Not once does it mean nonexistence or unconsciousness. The times it is used for words other than Sheol, it clearly means the world of spirits. There is, therefore, no way to escape the conclusion that the translators of the Septuagint clearly understood that Hades referred to the realm of disembodied souls or spirits; and, we must also emphasize, that the translators of the Septuagint did not obtain this concept from Platonic Greek thought but from the Hebrew concept of Sheol itself. p. 82"

<end quote>

The ancient Israelites did not write of Sheol with the understanding that one was unconscious in this state, nor was that the underlying assumption of the New Testament period.

Afterlife as viewed in the New Testament

Lk 23:43

"And he said unto him, "Truly, I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise."

"Today" the thief was with Jesus, this happens pre-resurrection. It also indicates a sense of immediacy, regardless where the comma goes. (the Annihilationist tries to remove this passage from consideration as well, and again achieves a conclusion inconsistent with the facts, see later comments)

Jn 11:25-26

"Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?"

If death = soul sleep, Jesus promises that the believer will never die = never "soul sleep."

2 Cor 5;6, 8-9

"Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord ...and prefer rather to be absent form the body and to be at home with the Lord, Therefore also we have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him."

If the soul sleeps in the grave with the Body as is sometimes stated, then how shall we be absent from the body? Yet, Paul was going to be present with the Lord when absent from the Body. Keep in mind that at the resurrection it is always the body that is resurrected, no mention is made of resurrecting the soul.

Blakely (Apostles Doctrine Vol 2, p 206-207):

"I am unable to conceive how Paul could have more forcefully testified for us, had he been summoned personally to a ma pronouncement in support of the proposition that Christians are consciously alive after physical death. He plainly decaled that to be "absent from the body" (that is physical death - see Jas 2:26) is to be "present with the Lord" (Which certainly is the height of conscious, spiritual life. - see 1 Cor 13:12)"

1 Pet 3:18-20a

"For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, who were once disobedient when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark"

Some have arguee that this means that Christ was preaching to spirits during the time between death on the cross and the resurrection. If that were true, then if the spirits are sleeping, to whom was Jesus preaching? If Jesus was sleeping how is He preaching?

Jude 1:7

"Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example, in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire."

Sodom and Gomorrah are presently "undergoing / suffering" (present active participle - Robertson) the punishment (literally "suffer sentence") of the eternal fire. (see later comments here too)

The word which is translated "asleep" has its root in the Greek keimai, (from which we get our word 'cemetery') meaning to "lie down" the interesting contrast is that resurrection in Greek is anastasis, coming from two words histemi meaning "to stand" and ana, "up". At the resurrection that which "lies down" will "stand up"

The impression given in scripture is that Early Hebrews did have a concept of the after-life. That the Old Testament picture of sheol is consistent with the New Testament picture given in Lazarus and the Richman. "Sleep" was a euphemism for death, and that while the body lies down to sleep, the soul/spirit/transcendent part of man is absent from the body and present with the Lord. With the second coming of Christ, the dead will be resurrected with soul/ spirit and body intact and made fit for the eternity. Then those in Christ who are alive will be caught up with the Lord in the air, and live with Him forever.

The first death does not end one's consciousness, it is neither non-existence nor oblivion and certainly not sleep. If one's consciousness is not terminated by the first death, there is nothing in the idea of death that requires that the second death is. If death is death, then the first death informs us concerning the second.

The conditions of the second death offers no clothing [ 8-) ] for the conditionalist tradition..

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4. Lazarus, the Rich man & Paradise

the Annihilationist writes:

>If I employ one of Aesop's fables as a sermon illustration, for the purpose

>of illustrating some eternal truth, have I misled the audience? Must I

>carefully explain to the audience that this is a fable, or do you think most

>would be familiar enough with the fable to know I was not endorsing the

>fable as reality? There is considerable evidence that the account of the

>rich man and Lazarus was based on very common lore of the time. The >people then would likely have been familiar with the genre. ...

>Jesus was not giving us a glimpse into the afterlife, He was merely >employing a common fable, one with which the people were likely >familiar

Elsewhere the Annihilationist writes:

>Dr. Edersheim stressed, "it will be necessary in the interpretation of this >parable to keep in mind that its parabolic details must not be exploited, nor doctrines of any kind derived from them, either as to the character of >the other world, the question of the duration of future punishments, or >possible moral improvement of those in Gehinnom. All such things are >foreign to the parable" (The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Book >IV, p. 277). ... Professor D. R. Dungan, in his classic book Hermeneutics: >The Science of Interpreting the Scriptures, observed, "The parable in >Luke 16:19-31, of the rich man and the poor man, has been made to >mean almost everything within the range of theological speculation" (p. >234).

Rubel Shelly is correct about Lazarus and the Richman (p 25 Jewish Savior Through Gentile Eyes):

"I take the story to be historical narrative because it neither called a parable nor does it have some the characteristic features of a parable."

There is no real problem on the Annihilationist's position that the basic message of Lazarus and the Richman (L&RM) addressing the living. While the stronger position falls on the side of those scholars who do believe that L& RM is a historical event, that really is not the issue between us. What is objectionable, is the implication that Jesus would tell a story that misrepresents the facts. That may be true of fables (Aesop's or otherwise), in which animals or inanimate objects are personified, and lifted out of the reality of their natural attributes to teach a lesson. This is not true of parables. Jesus does not misrepresent the reality in which His story is set. the Annihilationist's post tries to create an exception to the rule where none exists. Just as the Annihilationist's emperor's garments are made of non-existent thread. 8-)

It is interesting that the Annihilationist acknowledges that:

>Parables are a distinct literary form. "The very reason we do not feel >compelled to interpret the parables historically is that they are >presented in a somewhat stylized fashion -- the reader or hearer is >immediately aware that they belong to a different genre (literary type)" >(Walter Kaiser and Moises Silva, An Introduction to Biblical >Hermeneutics: The Search for Meaning, p. 106). "Strictly speaking, the >parable belongs to a style of figurative speech which constitutes a class >of its own" (Dr. Milton S. Terry, Biblical Hermeneutics: A Treatise on the >Interpretation of the Old and New Testaments, p. 276).

Then the Annihilationist proceeds to treat this ~not~ as a distinct literary form, but rather conflates it with fables, apocalyptic literature, and other figurative types. His supporting arguments are based not a parables, but rather, on other literary genre.

The image of a holding place for man is consistent with the Old Testament witness as I demonstrated earlier. The Old Testament picture of Sheol is consistent with the backdrop of L&RM. (notice later comments by Edersheim and others in this post)

Parable or history, the question is, when does Jesus use such parables and present the background events and conditions is a manner other than the reality? In other words, when does Jesus misrepresent the facts surrounding the story and upon which the story is grounded?

Blakely (Apostles Doctrine Vol 1, p 215):

"However it is not at all easy for me to understand just what proponents of the "soul-sleeping" theory hope to gain, even if the narrative of the Richman and Lazarus could be established as a parable. As I already have pointed out, parables and metaphors, in order to be effective, must parallel common experiences and ideas. So, even if - for the sake of discussion - it were granted that this were a parable, its testimony would remain essentially the same."

It is interesting that the Annihilationist quotes Dungan to support his assertion. On his section on parables (p 227) Dungan writes:

"... a story by which something real in life is used as a means of presenting a moral thought. The actors in a parable are real - human beings are the actors, and they do nothing which they could not do; things were not related which could not be accomplished by the agencies employed."

The facts, according to Dungan, regarding 'Parable,' by definition do not allow the usage the Annihilationist's promoting.

Dungan continues on p. 230:

"...we are at liberty to say that parables were used for the following purposes - 1), To reveal truth: making the people to understand the unknown by a comparison with the known...."

If the picture of Sheol / Abe's Bosom & place of torment were not known and

understood to Jesus' audience the story would have been useless, since the known by which the unknown can be understood by comparison, would itself be an unknown.

On L&RM Dungan writes (p 235):

"No one asked that this parable should be explained. It meaning was clear to those whom it was spoken. But modern theology is opposed to its teaching, and it is doubtful, if the Savior had explained it, if the interpretation would be any better received. Some have been heard to say, "It is nothing but a parable." Well, what of that? It is not said to be a parable, and yet there is much evidence that it was. But does that fact lessen the importance of its teaching?"

Dungan sums up the message of L&RM on p 236-237:

"The real import of the figure may be easily gathered by any one at all interested in knowing the teaching of the Master:

1. It is not possible to serve two masters (13,14)

2. After death, the conditions cannot be changed. If men are not in a safe condition then, it will be impossible for them to be prayed out of that purgatorial condition, or for any relief to come to them.

3. Praying to saints is of no value.

4. Men are expected to prepare to meet God by the light of the revelation which He has furnished.

5. There are no warnings to come back to us from the Spirit land.

6. There is consciousness between death and the resurrection from the dead.

7. There is an intermediate state between death and the resurrection. This scene is laid on the condition that there will be none on the earth to warn after the resurrection shall have taken place. But some one will say that the eternal state of these men being fixed, the judgment is passed with them, and therefore the resurrection, in their cases has been accomplished. This is not true. Lazarus going back would be regarded as one going to them from the dead; and this could not be said of any one in the resurrected state."

Dungan, on whom the Annihilationist calls on for the facts, tells us the facts don't support the Annihilationist's proposition.

Lockhart (Principles of Interpretation p 165) defines a parable this way:

"A parable is an allegory true to human experience, given in a spirit of deep earnestness, and designed by analogy to teach an exalted truth. It differs from other allegories, (1) in being true to human experience, (2) in its necessary spirit of earnestness, and (3) in the exalted character of the truth to be conveyed. ..."

Edersheim (Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah p 401, 402 ) explains a parable as:

"The term (parable-spw) must, therefore, be here restricted to special conditions. The first of these is, that all Parables bear reference to well-known scenes, such as those of daily life; or to events, either real, or such as everyone would expect in the given circumstances, or as would be in accordance with prevailing notions. ... Another characteristic of the Parables, in the stricter sense, is that in them the whole picture or narrative is used in illustration of some heavenly teaching, and not merely one feature or phase of it."

Prior to the Annihilationistl's quote of Edersheim, Edersheim writes (p 666 ):

"The parable of Dives and Lazarus (Luke 16:14-31). Although primarily spoken to the Pharisees, and not to the disciples, yet, as will presently appear, it was spoken for the disciples."

Then on p 669 Edersheim explains the parable:

"Thus, the carrying up of the soul of the righteous by Angels is certainly in accordance with Jewish teaching, though stripped of all legendary details, such as about number and the greetings of the Angels. But it is also fully in accordance with Christian thought of the ministry of Angels. Again, as regards the expression "Abraham's bosom," it occurs, although not frequently, in Jewish writings. On the other hand, the appeal to Abraham as our father is so frequent, his presence and merits so constantly invoked; notably, he is so expressly designated as he who receives the penitent into Paradise (Erub. 19a), that we can see how congruous especially to the higher Jewish teaching, which dealt not on coarsely sensuous descriptions of Gan Eden, or Paradise, the phrase 'Abraham's bosom' must have been. ... the next scene is in Hades or Sheol, the place of the disembodied spirits before the final judgment It consists of two divisions; the one of consolation, with all the faithful gathered unto Abraham as their father; the other fiery torment. Thus far in accordance with the general teaching of the New Testament. As regards the details, they evidently represent the views current at the time among the Jews...."

Edersheim then elaborates on Jewish teaching of the time and similarities between Jesus's background and the Jewish views and similar stories of their own. Edersheim, on whom the Annihilationist also calls on for the facts, tells us the facts do not support the Annihilationist's proposition.

E. P. Myers, ("Interpreting Figurative Language" Biblical Interpretation Principles and Practice p 99) writes;

"Parable. ... It is a story by which something real in life is used as a means of presenting moral or spiritual truth. the actors in a parable are believable characters and do nothing that they could not do in real life."

Morris Womack (Learning to Live from the Parables p 20):

"Prentice Meador, Jr. wrote, "A parable then, is a point of comparison between an accepted truth in the reality of the natural world and a new, similar truth in the reality of the Spiritual world."

Then when Womack gets to the story he notes (p 248):

"Some religious people claim that when one dies, his/her soul "sleeps" until the resurrection and is not conscious. When this story is used to show otherwise, they claim that the characters in this do not prove otherwise for, after all, they clam, 'it is only a parable.' Let us recall that Jesus never misrepresented the facts in His parables; so He must be affirming that there is consciousness in the afterlife; and there is feeling of bliss or agony being experienced."

Smith's Dictionary of the Bible (Vol 1, p 807) discusses the difference between a fable and a parable, noting:

"What are the characteristic marks by which one differs from the other, ... Thus we have (comp. Trench _On Parables_ , p 2) (1) Lessing's statement that the fable takes the form of an actual narrative, while the Parable assumes only that which might have happened.; (2) Herder's, that the difference lies in the fables dealing with brute or inanimate nature, in the parable's drawing its material exclusively from human life; (3) Olshousen's (on Matt xiii. 1), followed by Trench (l.c.), that it is to be found in the higher truths of which the parable is the vehicle. Perhaps the most satisfying summing up of the chief distinctive feature of each is to be found in the following extract of Neander (l.c.): "The parable is distinguished from the fable by this, ... in the former ... The beings and powers thus introduced always follow the law of their nature, ..."

As Ladd puts it, (p597):

"Judaism developed the idea of Sheol as a place of both punishment and blessing, which is reflected in Jesus parable of the Rich man and Lazarus. (Lk 16:19-31)."

Whether parable or history, the point is that if the conditions of the next life are not as Jesus states in L&RM, then He would not have told the story in that setting. A literal view of the text here is thoroughly consistent with the understanding of the afterlife revealed in the Old Testament and additional info given in the New Testament.

It seems that the rest of the Annihilationist's position on L&RM falls without his beginning premise about parables so I'll stop here.

Paradise and the comma

the Annihilationist wrote:

>The reality is: comma placement is a matter of personal choice. The >Greek text did not have punctuation, and the wording of the text in >question could be correctly (grammatically speaking) punctuated either >way. The choice of comma placement rests solely with the preference of >the translators.

Elsewhere the Annihilationist writes:

>By moving the comma to a position after the word "today" one alters the

>meaning of the sentence so that it is now no longer in conflict with the

>remainder of biblical doctrine on the nature of man and his eternal >destiny. Grammatically, either placement of the comma is technically >correct in the Greek language. Thus, there is just as much grammatical >justification for the placement of the comma after "today" as there is for >placing it before that word.

the Annihilationist tells us that the placement of the comma is up to the personal preference of the translator. Then elsewhere argues:

>So, how do we deal with the apparent "problem" raised by the >traditionalists when they quote Luke 23:43? "Truly I say to you, today >you shall be with Me in Paradise" (NASB). The very simple solution is to >be found in an obvious error of punctuation. ...

Nope, the Greek here is not that ambiguous. The Greek readers knew whether or not the thief was being told something today, or if he was going to receive the blessing today. First, from the context, and second, because of its syntactical structure.

Context notes that these thieves were engaged in a running conversation. Note the continuous tense 'elege' = "was saying" Neither simply "said" a one-time statement. The first thief (v. 39) was continuously deriding Christ. The second was continually asking for

remembrance (v. 42). The first thief's comments are summed up in "If you are the Christ, save yourself and us," the other guy's comments rebuke the first man's and are a penitent's submission summed up by, "Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom."

Christ's reply begins with the word "amen" ("verily"). This is the common formula Jesus used throughout His ministry. It points to something important to follow. Consider that the phrase "Amen / Verily/ Truly (depending on translation) I say to you" occurs 70+ times in the Gospels, always spoken by Jesus. In every case the comma is always comes after the "you." Consistency indicates that after punctuating the identical phrase in the identical manner 70+ other times, it would make sense that the formula remain true this time, especially in light of agony on the cross. ~It might have been an Aramaic idiom to add the 'Today' to the formula, but it was not Jesus' idiom.~ Nor was Luke written in Aramaic, Luke was a Greek, writing in Greek for a Greek speaking audience. Here is another example of creating an exception to the rule where none exists. Sewing with non-existent thread creates non-existence garments, no clothes for the Annihilationist's emperor here. 8-)

Grammatically, as I understand the Greek, adding the 'today' to Jesus' regular formula is not only inconsistent, it is redundant, offering no grammatical significance. "Truly I say to you today, ..." When would the Greek readers think Jesus speaking? Next week? A man in a struggle for breath while hanging on the cross, is going to find talking awkward. After years of saying "Truly I say to you" (comma), its senseless to argue that now, struggling to breath, he changes His normal formula to add an unnecessary word "today" before the pause. After the pause, it makes perfect sense. Before the pause does not, it renders the

word "today" without meaning. Anyone who has coached for long will tell you that when folks are beaten-up, tired and hurting they fall back on the old habits, they do what they've always done, since what we learn first, and do most, is what we'll fall back on when we're running on guts and desire.

Jack P. Lewis (p 189ff):

"Yet when He spoke of the thief, Jesus spoke of going with him - not into heaven, but - to paradise that day (Lk 23;43). The promise is, "Today you shall be with me in Paradise." The obvious antithesis in the passage is between the indefinite "when you come into your kingdom" used by the thief, and "Today you shall be with me" used by Jesus. There is nothing to be said textually or logically for the effort, made by different punctuation, to connect "Today" with the verb I say" to make "I say unto you today ..." while the Curetoninan Syriac Version, Theolphylact of the Church Fathers, and now the Jehovah's Witnesses in the New World Translation propose this punctuation, such punctuation turns a pointed contrast into a superfluous statement. In other formula quotations using "verily" in the New Testament, that which follows belongs not with the formula but with the

statement which comes after. Henry Alford characterized the effort to repunctuate as "surely something worse than silly." Adam Clarke says it as "most feeble and worthless criticism"; and most current commentaries do not even notice the possibility. Plummer said, "To take this (semeron) with legos robs it of almost all its force. When taken with what follows, it is full of meaning."

<end quote>

About the Curetonian Syriac version of the New Testament (5th century A.D.) "renders this text: 'Amen, I say to thee to-day that with me thou shalt be in the Garden of Eden.'" This is not evidence for putting the comma after today, but rather against it. the Annihilationist calls on Greek scholar Bruce Metzger for support elswhere, but Metzger says it is only because the Syriac version "rearranges the order of words" from what is found in the original Greek that this version places "today" in the first part of the sentence, its not the punctuation. This is poor support of the re-arranging the sentence based on peculiar ancient version, if anything, it is evidence against, not for.

OK, now lets talk about Paradise


"Originally an enclosed park, or pleasure-ground. Xenophon uses it of the parks of the Persian kings and nobles. "There (at Celaenae) Cyrus had a palace and a great park (ðáñáäåéóïò), full of wild animals, which he hunted on horseback....Through the midst of the park flows the river Maeander ("Anabasis," i., 2, 7). And again' "The Greeks encamped near a great and beautiful park, thickly grown with all kinds of trees" (ii., 4,14.) In the Septuagint, Genesis 2:8, of the garden of Eden. In the Jewish theology, the department of Hades where the blessed souls await the resurrection; and therefore equivalent to Abraham's bosom (Luk_16:22, Luk_16:23). "

Edersheim: p 887:

"Again when Christ spoke of 'Paradise,' His hearer would naturally understand that part of Hades in which the spirits of the righteous dwelt till the Resurrection. On both these points there are so many passages in Rabbinic writings that it is needless to quote (see for ex. Westein, ad loc., and our remarks on the Parable of Lazarus and Dives). Indeed, the prayer: let my death be the expiation of my sins, is still in the Jewish office for the dying, and the underlying dogma is firmly rooted in Rabbinic belief. The words of our Lord, so far from encouraging this belief, would teach him that admission to Paradise was to be granted by Christ. It is scarcely necessary to add, that Christ's words in no way encouraged the realistic conceptions which Judaism attached to Paradise (skrp). In Biblical Hebrew the word is used for a choice garden: in Eccl. ii. 5; Cant. iv. 13; Nehem. ii. 8. But in the LXX. and the Apocr. the word is already used in our sense of Paradise. Lastly, nothing which our Lord had said to the 'penitent thief' about being 'to-day' with Him in Paradise, is in any way inconsistent with, rather confirms, the doctrine of the Descent into Hades."

Lewis agrees:

"Paradise is a word of Persian origin meaning an enclosed park, and is so used in the LXX (Neh. 2:8; Eccles 2:5; Song 4:13). It is often used for the Garden of Eden (Gen 2:8ff; etc). But then it is also used three times in the New Testament. By Paul it is an alternative for the third heaven (2 Cor 12:3). It is used in the book of Revelation (2:7) for the location of the tree of Life available to him who overcomes; and it is used in our passage (Lk 23:43).

In late Jewish sources, Paradise is variously conceived so that an appeal to them does little to solve the problem concerning its location. Sometimes it is on earth, sometimes it is in heaven, and sometimes between heaven and earth. In some Jewish apocalypses such as 4 Ezra (7:36, 123; 8:52) written near the end of the first century and is such later works as 2 bar. 51:10-11 and 2 En 8ff, Paradise also designated the place of the final reward of the righteous. The important issue in the whole consideration of the state of the dead is that of whether or not Paradise in the Lord's promise to the thief is used in the same as it is used by Paul in 2 Cor 12:3. Many contend that it is: but this position faces the difficulty, from the chain of evidence we have presented, we deduce the idea that Paradise in Jesus'

statement is a designation for a part of hades. ...God's dwelling obviously is in heaven (2 Chron 6:33). Jesus had not gone to heaven; Hades in the Lukan passages is not in heaven. Paradise in the thief passage is not in heaven."

<end quote>

In the LXX used by Greek-speaking Jews in the first century, the word referred to the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2:8-10, etc.), as well as to a future transformation of Israel's land to resemble the Garden of Eden (Isa. 51:3; Ezek. 36:35). Judaism in the period of the incarnation viewed "Paradise" primarily as the "hidden" place of blessedness for the righteous between the time of their death and the future resurrection. This is the usage

reflected in Jesus' reference to Paradise in Luke 23:43

Ask a Pharisee about the resurrection of the dead (the question came in 1 Cor. 15:35), he'd say that when righteous people die, they go to a special place where they await their resurrection. This place is called by various names. One name is "Paradise." Another is "the Bosom of Abraham." Jewish tradition acknowledged all the elements used by in Christ in Laz & the Richman. Lazerus was carried by angels to the Bosom of Abraham (cf. Luke 16:22 and Ketubot 104a). The Bosom of Abraham is mentioned in the intertestamental books 4 Maccabees 13:17 and Qiddusin 72b. Note that Abraham is "designated as he who receives...the penitent into Paradise" (Edersheim, p. 668-669; see `Erubin 19a as well).

Lazarus was in the special place (Paradise / Bos of Abe). This is the same as saying that he was righteous, because only the righteous went to Paradise to wait with Abraham. Keep in mind that this use of "Paradise" does not define all its appearances in the Bible. The same term is used for the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2:15 and 3:23, LXX), for the plains of Jordan

(Gen. 13:10, LXX), for the third heaven (2 Cor. 12:2-4), and for God's kingdom (Rev. 2:7). Not every use of "paradise" refers to places in Heaven.

In the case of the penitent thief on the cross, Jesus recognized the man's repentance and conviction that Jesus was Messiah. The guy asked for remembrance when Jesus came in His power and glory. Christ assured him of the truth that, even on that very day, he would be counted among the righteous in Paradise, awaiting the resurrection with them. I see nothing in scripture that equates the Kingdom with Paradise. While the thief asked about the Kingdom, Christ spoke of Paradise. This does not mean that thief had to wait for Jesus to come into His Kingdom, before entering paradise.

Curiously, the Annihilationist writes:

>Brother H. Leo Boles, in his Commentary on Luke, correctly observed, >"Evidently Jesus did not mean that this robber would go with him to >heaven that day, as it seems clear from other statements that Jesus did >not go to heaven that day. His day of ascension came about forty days >after that time" (p. 454). The thief on the cross was not with Jesus "that >day" in Paradise for the very simple reason that Jesus Himself was not >there!!

Again, the Annihilationist lifts a statement out of the essay and fails to fill us in on what the author really thinks. First, Boles is saying that Jesus is not heaven, on account of his being in paradise. Here's what Boles (Commentary on Luke, p 453-454) actually wrote:

" 'To-day,' not sometime in the distant future, but this very day, you are to be associated with in in the pains and death of the cross and are to be associated with me in "Paradise." "Paradise" originally meant "an enclosed park or preasure-ground." In the Septuagint Version (Gen 2:8) it means the Garden of Eden. We are told that in Jewish theology the department of Hades where the blessed souls await the resurrection in called "Paradise"; it is equivelent to "Abraham's Bosum." (Luke 16:22,23) ... Whatever may have been the conception of the early Hebrews with regard to the seperation between the righteous and the wicked in Sheol, those of a later period did concieve of a seperation; ... Hades was the place for the blessed and called Paradise, ... Evidently Jesus did not mean that this robber would go with Him to heaven that day..."

Boles' point was that Jesus and the Thief were not going to be in Heaven, because they'd be in Paradise, that part of Sheol (Boles views this as Hades) in which the blessed are waiting the resurrection.

From our study of Sheol and the first death, it is evident that in this case, Jesus and the penitent thief did not go to sleep, nor to heaven (in the general sense), but rather to the place for the blessed in Sheol.

Digging into the historical usage of the term "Paradise" clears up the question here. In 1st-century Judaism the intermediate Paradise was sometimes thought of as in Heaven, but at other times was thought of as the restful place of the righteous in a part of Hades. Jesus' words in Lk 23:43 refer most probably to Paradise as a part of Hades for the righteous

(cf. Lk 16:22-26). Jesus was not promising the thief that they would be together in heaven that day, but in the blessed resting place of the righteous dead.

We should keep in mind that the heaven which is God's "abode" is not a physical locality fixed within our space-time universe. The physical "heavens" cannot contain God (1 Kings 8:27; Isa. 66:1; Acts 7:48-49). For the righteous man, even in Sheol he is not separated from God. "Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, thou art there" (Psa 139:7-8).

There is no clothing on the Annihilationist's emperor here either. 8-)

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5. Nature of man

Ok, a lot of what has already been written comes back to things written here. This is one of several placed I considered starting from, maybe I should have, but ...

A. Nephesh

BDB Hebrew lexicon give nephesh 3 basic ideas,

1. the life principle,

2. figurative usage,

3. inner man which departs at death and returns with life at the resurrection.

Morey adds Langensheidt's Hebrew Dictionary, defining nephesh as referring to the self, or mind, as well as life. "No Lexical material was found which restricted nephesh to the principle of physical life."

While there are numerous passages that relate nephesh to the animating principle in animals indicating that animal may be a nephesh while it is alive, there is no reference a dead animal being called a nephesh once the life is removed. In this sense, Adam became nephesh when life was breathed into his body. We also see where nephesh is used to speak of the whole person (i.e., Gen 36:6). In the case of the Hebrews, the nephesh is used of

the dead body, even though the life is gone (consider Lev 21:1:11) but seems best viewed as the figurative sense as with Lev 17:10,11, where blood is the symbol of life, and nephesh is figuratively used of the "life blood".

But we also see that the nephesh is used of the part of man that transcends physical life putting man in a different category than animal life. The nephesh of God (Ps 11:5) hates the wicked and the lovers of violence. How do we reduce God's nephesh to the principle of physical life? Having no physical body, it seems that were best off considering nephesh as reference to God's transcendent self, as we do when we read of the mind of God, or the heart, or will or self.

Earlier, I pointed out that in the Old Testament when the person died his transcendent self went to Sheol, and while he was cut off from the living, he was not necessarily cut off from conscious existence before God. Fudge and co. typically make the error of restricting nephesh to only the meaning which supports their view point, ignoring that nephesh is used in more than one way. They also ignore the evidence that while the life force

may speak of animals, man has a transcendent nature that goes beyond the mere principle of physical life.

If we try to force the words, "life principle" or "physical life" in each passage where nephesh is used, it demonstrates that nephesh has more than one meaning. Can the life principle shared of man and animals "think after God?" (Ps 42:2), feel bitterness? (1 Sam 1:10), worship God? (Deut 10:12). The reduction of the nephesh to the life principle of animals, cannot be account for the nephesh of man being attributed to reason, will, and

worship. Where man is concerned, the nephesh may refer to the physical man, or to the transcend nature of man.

Lev 16:29; 23:27, 32 etc, speak of men afflicting their soul, torment of the body does not seem to be in view here (Self-flagellation?) the more natural view would be to grief and sorrow of the transcendent self.

We also find places where the physical life is contrasted with Nephesh of man such as 2 Sam 11:11 and echoed the idea of Isa 1:14 where God is said to have a soul. I don't see in light of the above, and in light of my earlier post on sheol, that a human body has a limiting extent on the soul.

We also have some problems with nephesh being limited to physical life in the LXX. This is a bit over my head, but Morey notes that majority of the time, the Septuagint uses psuche as the Greek equivalent for nephesh. There are 25 exceptions, where nephesh is translated a living people, or where God's nephesh is referred to and are translated to refer to God's transcendent self, which thinks, will, etc (Amos 6:8; Job 23:13). And in those cases where Nephesh refers to man's transcendent self, which feels, thinks, and wills (Deut 21:14)

It is noteworthy that the LXX never used the Greek word for physical life (bios) to translate nephesh. If Fudge and co. were correct, then the obvious choice in the LXX would have been bios not psuche. By use of psuche, the LXX translators used the word for the transcend nature of man. If the Jews were only convinced of the physical life prior to the New Testament revelation, then they would have used bios.

Morey also cites rabbinic literature demonstrating that the Jews' concept of the soul of man was to the transcendent self, which leaves the body at death but remains conscious.

Other comments from Scholars.

Edershiem (Life and Times ... p 1160-1164) has a fairly long treatise on the understanding of the Jews and concludes that both the schools of Hillel and Shemmai held the doctrine of eternal punishment.

BDB point to Gesenius whom they view as an expert in their definition of Sheol as the underworld or spirit world which mediums looked to communicate with the departed.

Lengscheidt's Hebrews -English dictionary to the Old Testament speaks of the Sheol as the place of realm of the dead, or netherworld.

THE ISBE Vol 4 p 2761 defines Sheol as the unseen world, or state of the dead.

Keil and Delitzsch tell us that the departed souls are gathered to sheol after death.

BB Warfield said that there is no "hesitation to allow with all heartiness that Israel from the beginning of its recorded history cherished the most settled conviction of the persistence of the soul in life after death... the body is laid in the grave and soul departs to sheol." (quote by Morey, from Selected Shorter Writings of Benjamin B. Warfield)

Ladd (NBD): In the Old Testament, man does not cease to exist at death, but his soul descends to Sheol.

See also Charles, Fife, Hough, Motzer, Marcarnty, & Tromp, to whom Morey refers.

The conditionalist tradition has no clothing on its argument on nephesh 8-)

B. Soul/ spirit distinctions

Man's transcendent immaterial self has several names attached to it in scripture. Sometimes these words are used interchangeably (Isa 26:9; Lk 1:46,47), sometimes side by side (1 Thess 5;23). Deut 6:5 and Mk 12:30 use 5 words, does that require 5 parts of man? It seems, that arguing for consistent specific divisions of meaning for each is working too much into the scriptures. Generally, the terms can at times be synonymous, and when laid side by side, ought to thought of more in functional rather than substantial concepts.

C. Holistic nature of man

Some things to consider:

What is man? A soul trapped in a body? That might be consistent with the way some Greeks thought, but not Bible. Conditionalist tradition makes frequent assertions based on Platonic views of the soul, but Plato and the Bible writers are not on the same page. (I already elaborated on the meaning of Nephesh, so I'll skip all that and add just a few comments here.)

Gen 2:7:

"Then the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being."

Francis Schaeffer (Genesis in Space and Time) on this passage writes:

"Lest we make too much of the word soul, we should note that this word is also used in relation to other living things with conscious life. So in reality the emphasis here is not on the soul as opposed to the body but on the fact that by a specific and definite act God created man to be a living thing with conscious life."

From the Bible we see that God created man as a single unit. Not two parts Soul and Body, (or three if you read Watchman Nee -- body, soul, spirit) Man is not a soul living in a body, or body animated by a soul. Man is a holistic unit, a body-soul unity. Run down your concordance and you'll see that the bible uses 'soul,' 'body,' 'heart,' 'spirit,' 'flesh'

interchangeably when describing the diverseness of human being while never losing sight of the unity of the whole man.

Banks (Paul's Idea of Community) writes:

"Paul's insistence that thoughts and words be embodied in his readers' lives and actions springs from his belief that man is essentially a physical being -- not, as the Greeks thought, an imprisoned intellect, spirit or soul. He does not just have a body, he is a body; he does not live in a physical form, he exists as a physical form."

This is why baptism is not a just physical symbol of spiritual realities.

Banks adds:

"It is precisely because man is not simply a soul imprisoned within a body but a physical being, and because God's relationships with him do not take place in a vacuum but within the framework of the physical environment, that the whole man (not merely his inner self) and water, and element of God's material creation (not merely God's invisible power) are involved in this important decision."

However, this fact does not require the conditionalists usage of it. the Annihilationist says 'the facts is facts' implying that everyone should agree with his view, he quotes Jack P. Lewis and says see, here's proof of my obvious conclusion. But Dr. Lewis does not see the facts as pointing to the Annihilationist's conclusion, Lewis ( Exegesis of difficult biblical Passages p. 7) writes concerning the Annihilationist's use of the facts:

"To make this observation is not at all to affirm that the Old Testament is materialistic. We are concerned at this time only with the biblical usage of one term. Neither is it to deny a distinction in biblical thought between men and other animals when one takes in consideration the whole Old Testament view. Man may perish like the animals, but he is different from them. Even here in Genesis in the creation account, God is not said to breathe into the animals of the breath of life; animals are made male and female; they are not said to be in God's image and likeness; they are not given dominion. Man is the crown of God's creation. He names the animals, and after the flood it is announced that man's blood is required of the beasts (Gen 9:5). The ultimate description of man's make-up is found in 1 Thess 5:23: "May your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."

the Annihilationist wrote:


>"Although variously interpreted throughout the Old Testament and NT, >death is basically understood as the termination of life on earth. Most >frequently it indicates the end of an individual's existence" (International >Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Volume 1, p. 898)."

However, the Annihilationist refrains from telling us that the consistent message of the ISBE is that death of the body is survived by the transcendent part of man in Sheol. Here's the conclusion the Annihilationist leaves out, from the ISBE (Vol 2, p 973) pointing to the conclusion the facts lead us to (paraphrasing a bit here due to length):

It follows that man is a compound being, a unity of body and soul both being elements in one personality. Man's destiny is not death, but life -- not life in separation of the soul from the body (disembodied existence) but continued embodied life. We see that we have a sequel to this life in the change, translation to higher existence. The change Paul talks about "in the twinkling of the eye" the mortal clothed in immortality, the corrupt clothed in incorruption. Similar to the translation of Enoch and Elijah, who did not see death at all. For man, death is not a natural event but an unnatural one. It is a mutilation, an amputation, a separation of the 2 aspects of man, that were never intended to be separated. It came, according to scripture, with sin (Gen 2:17; 3:19,22; Rom 5:12; 1 Cor 15:21,22). But just as sin was not the natural state of man, neither is dying. Death came with the fall, not with the creation of man. For the Old Testament folks the idea was that God would rescue man from Sheol, not that God had intended for man to remain in Sheol. Similarly we see the picture of Lazarus and the Richman as in a place of waiting, from which at the resurrection men will be re-united with their bodies to await the judgment.

The ISBE rejects the Annihilationist's conclusion as to what the facts mean.

Man is created to be a holistic being.. Because of sin, at death, man is temporarily separated body from soul/ spirit/ transcendent self. At the resurrection the body and transcendent self are re-united and made fit for eternity. To eternal reward or eternal torment. If one will reap punishment for a time and then be annihilated once he has paid sufficiently for his sins, why annihilate him?

The Universalist has the better argument here. If God is loving and compassionate, (the a priori frequently used on this list before to establish conditions that reject the possibility of eternal punishing) then once the sentence has been completed the Heavenly Abba would not annihilate His children, any more that a loving father would kill his kids after they'd been spanked. This a priori argument of the Conditionalist tradition condemns itself when used by others.

Justice, if it has been (can be?) served, suggests that one should be restored, not annihilated. If he has paid sufficiently, why not let him into heaven? If one wishes to make subjective evaluations and argue from personal indignation that "a loving God would not...!" Then the conditionalist is open to the charge that a "a loving God would not...

annihilate anyone once they have paid sufficiently for their sins!"

Morey (p 94-99) has a much better and more consistent argument than Fudge on the matter of "immortality". Morey pointing out that man does not have "essential immortality" (contra Greek views) in the sense of man being without beginning or end. Only God has this, being from eternity to eternity, beginning less and endless. (see 1 Tim 6:16; Ps 90:1,2).

In response to the charge of Greek ideas on immortality, Morey points out that neither the Greek notion of pre-existence of the soul, nor oriental notions of transmigration or re-incarnation are in view. Arguing against eternal punishment by arguing against Platonic ideas of immortality is useless since the Greek idea and the Biblical view of immortality are at odds. The ISBE consistently makes this point as well. Intentionally or not, Fudge and co. has brought a red herring into the discussion.

Nor does the Biblical view of immortality include the idea of a 'natural immortality' of the soul. Arguing against Greek ideals of immortality won't work, since man never had an autonomous and independent existence. Life in this world always begins with God.

Man was created a body-soul unity, and death is the unnatural separation of the two, a mutilation. man was not created for death, he was created for life, but death - the unnatural state - entered in with sin. While angels may be created non-material spiritual beings, man is not, thus the need for the resurrection. The Biblical idea is that God created man body and soul, and the soul was never pre-existent, essentially, or independently

immortal. The Holistic view of man does not require one to conclude that that immortality only exists in reference to the resurrection. Conscious afterlife is not in conflict with resurrection. The two are not mutually excluding concepts.

There are no garments covering the conditionalist emperor here either. 8-)

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6. Definitional stuff

I had debated where to start with this whole thing and almost started here, but for whatever reason, I didn't. I expect that several folks will want to try to argue against what I've already written based on definitional stuff. However, I think the remaining sacred cows of the Conditionalist tradition fall apart here.

a. Destroy

So what about this punishment/ torment/ destruction? (NOTE: Any abbreviations in quoted material are probably mine.)

Matt 10:28 -- the word for destroy (appolumi) according to Vine:

"not extinction, but ruin, loss, not of being, but of well being." Other passages that make this clear (Mt 10:6, 39; Lk 15: 6,9,24: Jn 18:9)

According to Thayer:

"metaph. to devote or give over to eternal misery: Matt x.28; Jas iv.12; contextually, by one's conduct to cause another to lose eternal salvation"

Fudge (p 105) re-iterates one of the sacred cows of the conditionalist tradition:

"Lest one read into Matthew's account any Platonic dualism regarding man's being, we have Luke's record of the same words: "do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But... fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. (Lk 12:4f). this passage does not teach the immortality of every human soul but rather that God `can kill the soul as well as the body. Unless Jesus is making idle threats, the very warning implies that God will execute such a sentence on those who persistently rebel against this authority and resist every overture of mercy."

Here's the problem with Fudge's comment:

1. Immortality in Platonic dualism and the Biblical view of the soul are not the same things. See section on the nature of man

2. We see here that the physical life is in contrast with the soul (psuche generally equivalent to nephesh, which the conditionalists try to limit to the physical life force.) here we see the soul as the transcendent part of man that survives the death of the body. We see man's soul/spirit viewed as something beyond just physical life.

3. Fudge is assuming destroy means annihilation here. There is no idle threat here, destroyed = apollumi (Thayer). Thayer's own theology excluded the idea of eternal punishment, his definition is based on the Greek meaning even though it contradicted his theology. There is no lexical evidence that I can find to support the idea that apollumi means to annihilate, or to pass into non-existence. Interestingly, I cannot find where Fudge refers us to the lexicons on the meaning of apollumi. Closest he comes that I can find, is p 164, where he mentions frequency of the word, but does not take us to the lexicons for the actual Greek definition.

Morey, noting the lexicon definitions writes (p 90):

"That this word cannot mean "nonexistence" is clear from the way it is consistently used in the New Testament (matt 9:17; Lk 15:4,6,8,9; Jn 6:12, 27; 2 Cor 4:9; etc). Do people pass into non-existence when they are killed by a sword (Matt 26:52) or a snake? (1 Cor 10:9). Do people become non-existent when they are hungry? (Lk 15:17). Do wineskins pass into non-existence when they are destroyed by bursting? (Matt 9:7). Is food annihilated when it spoils? (Jn 6:27) In every instance where the word apollumi us found in the New Testament, something other than annihilation is being described. Indeed there isn't a single instance in the New Testament where appollumi means annihilation in the strict meaning of the word.

Fudge (p 164) tries to work around this by admitting that annihilation is not always in view, but argues that death is, and assuming that death = annihilation, that there is no difference. A point he has not proven, nor is supported by the lexicons.

Inserting the Greek definition of apollumi into the text it reads:

"... fear Him who is able to [give over to eternal misery] both soul and body in hell..."

1 Cor 3:17 -- destroy (phthiro) literally to "waste away". When the temple was destroyed in 70 AD the building was torn down, but the material was still there, the building was wasted, changed, not annihilated. The same can be said of the wicked soul, wasted but not annihilated. Usually this word is translated "corrupt". See also 1 Cor 15:33; 2 Cor 7:2; 11:3; Eph 4:22; Jude 10; Rev 19:2.

Phil 1:28; 3:19; Heb 10:39: Destruction or perdition (Apolia) meaning "ruin or waste" as seen in Mt 26:8 and Mk 14:4 (a waste of ointment) or Rev 17:8 referring to the beast. It states that the Beast is not annihilated. "...they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is..."

There's about 50 different words in the Hebrew and a dozen in the greek translated 'destroy' or 'destruction' (depending on translation). None of which the lexicons give as meaning annihilation or causing something to pass into non-existence. Morey (p 109) provides some examples: <begin quote>

"[words translated destroy or destruction in the KJV] in the Old Testament, the word 'ahvad' is the word usually translated "destroy." In num 21:29 the people of Chemosh were 'undone' ('destroyed' in NIV). In the context the meaning of 'ahvad' is that the people were conquered and sold into slavery. They were not annihilated, but enslaved. In 1 Sam 9:3, 20, Saul's asses were 'ahvad', i.e., lost. these asses were not annihilated. In Hab 1:15, the word 'Gah rar' means to catch something in a net, not to annihilated it. 'Dah chah' in Isa 53:10 is translated, "It pleased the Lord to bruise him." Here is refers to Christ's suffering, not to nonexistence. In Hos 4:6, God people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge. In the context, this cannot mean they were nonexistent. the same can be pointed out in the case of 'hoom' (Ps 55:2) and 'ghah ram' (Josh 6:8; Mic 4:13). In Jer 23:1, 2 we have a classic example of the usage of the words 'destroy" and 'scatter." In this text, it is obvious that these words cannot mean annihilation. "Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of My pasture.!" declares the Lord. Therefore thus says the Lord God of Israel concerning the shepherds who are tending My people: "You have scattered My flock and driven them away, and not attended to them; behold, I am about to attend to you for the evil of your deeds.' declares the Lord."

<end quote>

The error Fudge and co make is assuming that words such as 'ahvad,' mean annihilation. Morey discusses 'perish' on p 110:

" 'Perish" or 'perished' in various forms of the word 'perish' appear 152 times in the KJV. In the Old Testament there are 11 Hebrew words which are translated as 'perish' ... 'Sha mad' is found in Jer 48:42 where Moab is said to be destroyed in the sense of the people being enslaved, not annihilated. 'Shah ghath' is used of cutting a covenant or cutting timber to build the temple in Gen 15;18; 1 King 5:6; 'gah vag,' 'nah phai,' and 'gar var' are used to describe a miserable emotional state (Ps 42:7; 55;4; 88:15, 16).In the New testament there are 10 different Greek words which translated 'perish'. Some of these words such as 'appolumi' were also translated 'destroy' and do not mean annihilation. 'Apothneesko' is used in Jn 12:24 to describe the grain of wheat which when planted "dies" and then sprouts. Obviously, it cannot mean annihilation. 'Aphanizo' refers to things which moths and rust corrupt (matt 6:19, 20). 'Kataphthiro' is used to describe 'corrupt' minds in 2 Tim 3:8 (kjv)."

On 'consume' or 'consumed' Morey writes (p110):

"forms of these words appear in the KJV 162 times. In the Old testament, 20 different Hebrew words are translated 'consume'. The usual word, 'ah chal,' is also used in Ps 78:45 where the psalmist says that the flies devoured or consumed the Egyptian. The psalmist sure meant that the flies tormented them, not annihilated them. Jeremiah used another word bah lah, in Lam 3:4, saying that his flesh and skin were "made old," or consumed, i.e., he was consumed with grief, not annihilated. 'Kah lah' is used in Eze 123:13 where hailstones 'consumed' a wall, i.e. knocked it down, not annihilated it. 'Dah gach' is the normal word for putting out a fire. when we 'put out a candle,' we do not annihilate the candle." In the New Testament, 3 Greek words are translated 'consume'. The main verb 'analisko' is used in Gal 5:15 to describe the Christians as 'consuming' one another, i.e., fighting and tormenting each other, not annihilating each other.'

Again we see Conditionalist tradition's error in that they assume words carry certain meanings, not found in the lexicons, and then assert that such words, like perish or consume must mean annihilation. It is a case of using their conclusion to prove their conclusion.

the Annihilationist wrote:

>"One such passage, just by way of example, is Jude 7 --- Sodom & >Gomorrah underwent "the punishment of ETERNAL fire." In what sense >was this fire "eternal?" Is it still burning?"

the Annihilationist follows the classic error on the part of the conditionalist tradition. Lets see if I can help here. Morey writes (p139ff):

<begin quote>

"...Jude speaks of the condemnation of false prophets in vs. 4 and then illustrates their fate by referring to examples of divine judgment such as the generation of Moses that perished in the wilderness (v 50, the punishment of angels (v 6), Sodom and Gomorrah (vv 7,8) and Cain and Balaam (v 11).

It is in this sense that the sulfuric fire which destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them is a type or sign of the future fiery punishment which awaits the wicked. Since the future punishment had been described as torment by "eternal fire" in the Jewish apocalyptic literature, Jude speaks of "eternal fire" The annihilationist have traditionally stated that this text says that these cities were destroyed by "the punishment of eternal fire" in order to prove (sic) that aion only means "unending in result and not in process" Since the fire which destroyed these cities is now extinguished, it cannot be literally "eternal fire'. Thus, the annihilationist with glee have always pointed to this passage that "eternal fire" need not be eternal.The problem with their interpretation is that the Greek text does not say that the cities suffered "the punishment of eternal fire," Lenski comments:

"These cities lie before (the eyes) as a deigma, "indication or sign"... that points like a finger to "eternal fire" the participle states how they lie before men's eyes to this day, namely "in undergoing justice" (dike). Our versions and others combine in the wrong way. The cities of the Plain are not "suffering the punishment of eternal fire." What lies before us at the dead Sea is "a sign of eternal fire." Fire and brimstone made the place

what it is, a sign, indeed of the eternal fire of hell, a warning for all time. So writes Jude."

The Greek in Verse 7 literally says, "a sign of fire eternal." Lenski's comment is thus confirmed by the Greek grammar of the text itself. The annihilationist are grammatically incorrect when they make "eternal fire" modify diken (punishment) instead of deigma (sign).Beck translates verse 7 as:

"just like Sodom and Gomorrah and the towns around them, who for sexual sins and unnatural vice have suffered punishment and lie before us as a warning of everlasting fire."

Weymouth and Moffatt also view "eternal fire" as modifying deigma and not diken: "an example of eternal fire" (Weymouth_; "a warning of the everlasting fire" (Moffatt). This passage emphasizes the absolute necessity of grammatical exegesis of Scripture in the original text."<end quote>

To this you can add Wesley (on Jude 7):

"7: The cities which gave themselves over to fornication - The word here means, unnatural lusts. Are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire - That is, the vengeance which they suffered is an example or a type of eternal fire."


"As an example [for an example]. The fires that burned Sodom and the other cities are cited as harbingers of the threatening fires of hell. God will not overlook sin forever (see 2Pe 2:6-9). The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah stands forever to illustrate His wrath against the wicked.

Suffering [undergoing, by undergoing, of those under]. The punishment of Sodom and Gomorrah was not something that happened once in the distant past. It was not an isolated event that was forever over and done with. If this had been the case, the Greek aorist tense would have been used. Instead, Jude employed the present participle to show that the punishment was still going on at the time he wrote. They were "being held under" punishment.

The vengeance [the, a punishment, the judgment, the sentence]. The Greek word for punishment or vengeance does not include the idea of personal satisfaction. Because of His perfect holiness, God must punish sin. However, it gives Him no pleasure whatsoever to send the wicked to torment. "For he does not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men" (Lam 3:33). "'Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?' says the Lord GOD" (Eze 18:23). "'As I live,' says the Lord GOD, 'I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked'" (Eze 33:11)."


"are set forth--before our eyes.

suffering--undergoing to this present time; alluding to the marks of volcanic fire about the Dead Sea.

the vengeance--Greek, "righteous retribution."

eternal fire--The lasting marks of the fire that consumed the cities irreparably, is a type of the eternal fire to which the inhabitants have been consigned. BENGEL translates as the Greek will admit, "Suffering (the) punishment (which they endure) as an example or sample of eternal fire (namely, that which shall consume the wicked)." Ezekiel 16:53-55 is not eternal. Compare also 2 Peter 2:6 "

College Press NIV Commentary:

"7.Even as Sodom and Gomorrha. This example is more general, for he testifies that God, excepting none of mankind, punishes without any difference all the ungodly. And Jude also mentions in what follows, that the fire through which the five cities perished was a type of the eternal fire. Then God at that time exhibited a remarkable example, in order to keep men in fear till the end of the world. Hence it is that it is so often mentioned in Scripture; nay, whenever the prophets wished to designate some memorable and dreadful judgment of God, they painted it under the figure of sulfurous fire, and alluded to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrha. It is not, therefore, without reason that Jude strikes all ages with terror, by exhibiting the same view."


"Such a punishment suggested to Jude the "eternal fire" mentioned by Jesus as the punishment of the wicked, of which the physical destruction of the cities was but a preliminary type of the ultimate overthrow of the wicked in hell."


"Set forth for an example. Utterly destroyed by fire they are an example that points to the eternal fire."

That's enough, I've more but I'm sure that the point's been made.

Basically the conditionalist tradition, tries to argue that 'olam,' 'aion,' and 'aionos' don't carry the idea of everlasting, eternity, or eternal, since they are sometimes used of temporal things.

However, the idea in the Greek is that these things last for the length of the age. The temporal thing will last through to the end of the age in which they find themselves. The punishment on those condemned by divine judgment will last till the end of that age. When we find the words olam, aion, and aionos used in connection to the final state of things, they will last to the end of an age, that by every appearance will have no end.

'Olam' (see Morey) for instance, when used to speak of the past has that which is from everlasting, or from eternity past in view, and thus (Ps 90:2) God is beginning less, or eternal when contrasted with this world. When used of thing that were before the generation in view in the scripture, things are old or ancient in contrast to the present generation. When used of the present, viewing things that would transcend the life of

the Bible writer, it was everlasting or long lasting in contrast to the short lived author. (Everlasting mountains, everlasting covenant, etc). Things that are perpetual throughout the generations, but not beginning less or endless. When used of God's future, we see everlasting in the sense of endless in contrast to this world that will end. When speaking of the duration of life of the righteous in the afterlife, it is life without end in contrast with life in this world that does end. In view of the future of the wicked, it is punishment without end, in contrast to punishment in this life that does end. Olam is not a static concept, but is used in contrasting one things against another. When we get to the final state of things, in contrast to the temporal and earthly, the final state refers that which last for that final endless age. To argue that everlasting does not mean everlasting because of mountains and such, is to ignore the relative contexts of the term.

Basically the 'example' is correctly applied in Jude 7 as indicative of a type. Furthermore,

Vincent (Word Studies in the New Testament) Jude 7:

"Suffering the vengeance of eternal fire" Rev., rightly substitutes punishment for vengeance, since [it] carries the underlying idea of right or justice. Which is not necessarily implied in vengeance... The participle is present, indicating that they (Sodom and Gomorrah) are suffering to this day the punishment which came upon them in Lot's time."

So what we've got is S&G as an earthly type of the judgment/ punishment that will come on men, not a type of the fire that will come. The coming fire itself will be an eternal fire, and as Vincent tell us, "they (Sodom and Gomorrah) are suffering to this day the punishment which came upon them in Lot's time." the cities may no longer burn, but the evil citizens of them do, in the same place where Lazarus' rich man does.

Wuest in summarizing scholarship's understanding of the words we translate as eternal and everlasting. (See Word Studies in the Greek New Testament Vol 3 p 54 ff) Wuest offers quotes and research of:

"Moulton and Milligan demonstrating that anion has both the idea of something that continues through the existence of the subject in view, "For the rest of your life," and the idea of "unending."

On Anionios, Wuest points to Grimm-Thayer noting that word "never loses the sense of perpetuus" and writes, "Their closing argument on aionos is, 'In general, the word depicts that of which the horizon is not in view, whether the horizon be at an infinite distance, or whether it lies no father than the span of Caesar's life,."

Wuest also offers H. Cremer Biblio-Theological Lexicon of the New Testament Greek, as well as Thayer, Liddell and Scott, Pusey, Reddel, in his discussion.

The bottom line for us is that the idea of anion and anionios is either of something that is perpetual in the existence of the subject, or that which never ending, everlasting, continuing forever. It is the context that determines which idea is in view. 'Eternal mountains' and such make reference to something that is perpetual in the existence of the subject, context tell us that unending existence is not in view. But we also find plenty uses of the terms indicating that unendingness and even without beginninglessness is in view when the words are used. IE references to God, His reign, His glory, indicate a limited space of time is not in view. When we get to those passages that refer to the eternal state of the wicked, we see that if it is limited in in space of time, that the limitation stands

as perpetual for that age. There is nothing to indicate that the age of the post-judgment period will ever end. Context indicates that the torment referred to is without end. That it will last as long as the life guaranteed to the righteous.

Go back to my initial post on Sheol. Folks in the Old Testament understood Sheol to be the place were the wicked dead were already being tormented. Folks already knew where the wicked dead of S&G were long before Jesus spoke of it. In light of S&G and in confirmation of Vincent, Consider 2 Peter 2:4ff. The example (different gk word than in Jude) that the citizens of S&G give us is that not only were their cities burned to ashes, but they are being held with the rest of the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment. Wuest (In The Last Days p 51) comments:

"Overthrow" is katastophe, 'overthrow, destruction.' Strachan translates: 'constituting them as an example to ungodly persons of things in store for them.'" What is in store for those ungodly? Catastrophe in this life and the life to come.

When you add 2 Peter 2 to Jude 7 is it obvious that the people of S&G are, as Vincent tells us, still under ongoing punishment. In other words, the punishing continues in the waiting place of the wicked.

Lenski (Interp 2 Peter, p 316):

"...for judgment day while they are being punished. [Terein] markedly repeats the [Teroumenos] used in v. 4 and refers to keeping them in hell as the added participle shows: "while being punished" ("under punishment," R.V.; "to be punished" A.V."

the Annihilationist wrote:

>"It is critical to determine if He is referring to an everlasting

>PUNISHING (process) or an everlasting PUNISHMENT (result). If >"eternal" in this passage has a quantitative application (and I believe it >does, as well as a qualitative one), then one must seek to determine >what exactly endures "without end." Is it the punishing or the resultant >punishment?"

Arguing for a qualitative meaning here does not support the Annihilationist's proposition. Eternal torment can be qualitative without being limited to the result. Viewed qualitatively it'd be concerned with, and related to, the quality and intensity of the torment and not to the result of the torment. Which makes sense when one considers that scriptures appear to teach that while the duration of the torment will last to the end of the post-judgment age, there will be different degrees and intensity of the punishment.

Here is another of the conditionalist tradition's sacred cows. [It too makes good hamburger 8-)] Its the old verb vs. noun argument. In this case the noun stands in for the various forms and levels of severity of the punishing.

Lets see if I can help here. The key to understanding the use of the noun is in the context.

In Mk 3:29 there is only one sin(verb) under discussion, and the one who dies with this sin to his charge is guilty of eternal sin(noun). In other words, we've gone from viewing the action of a particular sin, to being subject to state of sin. The indication being that the eternality (is that a word?) of the sin relates to its duration, in that it will never be forgiven, and the sin itself, not tied to endless repetition, but is connected to bearing the guilt/ consequence of it forever.

Punishment is a noun as well, but, unlike Mk 3, there are several ideas, words and descriptions involved in the fate of the wicked and each will have to be taken into consideration as we build out picture from scriptures as to their fate. Ramm (Protestant Biblical Interpretation p 139) writes:

" 'We can understand a particular passage only if we know what the whole scripture teaches, but we can only know what the whole scripture teaches by knowing the meaning of its parts.' And so all theological interpretation of scriptures is a rotation of 'spiraling' from part to whole, and whole to part."

Here the noun form stands in for all those actions, descriptions and degrees of punishment. It does not carry with it the idea of something that's finite in action. Viewed qualitatively, its dealing with the constituent aspects with those various punishments. In considering all

that the scripture say relating to the final fate of the wicked we find various words involved in the description.

Punishment in Matt 25:46 = Kolasis.

*Arndt and Gingrich tell us that it also means 'torture.' (Gk-Eng Lexicon NT, p 441)

*Thayer (p 353) says that it "has reference to him that suffers." and points to Plutarch's use as "of those undergoing penalties of the other world."

*TDNT, vol3 p 816, notes that in Gk literature is often means "chastisement" and on earth, has reference to "severe punishments which precede execution."

*Workman (whom I'm leaning on here) points to Hoekma (Four major Cults)


"there is ample evidence from Josephus, First Clement, and other early writings that' kolasis' was considered to mean an experienced punishment rather than a state of extinction.

The eternal punishment refers to the eternal fire used in vs. 41. the wicked will be sent to dwell in the eternal fire, (the Greek has it, 'the fire, the eternal one') Morey quotes Alford here:

"Observe the same epithet is used for kolasis and zoe - which are here contraries - for the zoe here spoken of ... [refers to -spw] ... the blessedness and reward, to which punishment and misery are antagonistic terms ... Those who set this coincidence aside, and interpret each portion by itself, without connection with the rest, are clearly wrong."

Eternal fire, (see Morey, Edershiem and others) is a rabbinic metaphor for the ultimate end of Satan and his angels, and viewed as eternal punishing, it became a metaphor for eternal punishment/ torture/ torment.

Here the punishment(n) covers the various actions, not the result. Which makes sense, since there are multiple variations and degrees of the punishments which take place. (note: while mixed metaphors of "fire," "darkness," and "wailing and gnashing of teeth" are used, we really do not have a metaphysical definition of the nature of the suffering, we are only

given hints as what the suffering is like). Being eternal, it will last as long as the eternal life with which it is contrasted. Punishment translated in English in the noun form is also used of the Greek verb form in reference to keeping "the unrighteous under punishment unto the day of judgment." TDNT (p 816) their time is filled with punishments". (so much for 'soul sleep') Note that "kept" in 2 Pet 9 is present active infinitive, meaning that the wicked are in the continuous state of captivity. This is the position of the folks of S&G, and Peter says that their punishment/ torment is present, passive, participle, meaning that they are continuously being tormented /punished.

The picture as far as the word punishment goes indicates that the noun form stands for the action of punishment not the result, and that the wicked between death and judgment are presently experiencing punishment as a verb. Treating the noun as an aorist does not clothe the conditionalist emperor.

But more to the point, punishment (n) stands for the various verbs that describe the punishing. Punishment itself does not imply or indicate annihilation, or non-existence. The words which Scripture use to speak of the type of punishment do not mean or imply non-existence. See previous discussion of applumi = destruction for an example.

The punishing of the wicked in the next life is described in a variety of ways, none of which indicate that they lead to non-existence. Without non-existence, the punishing will endure for the length of that age. For the result to be endless and not the action, the action itself must come to an end. None of the words that describe the punishments indicate that they will come to an end.

No garments for the conditionalist tradition here either.

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7. Summary:

the Annihilationist tells us the "facts is facts". But the truth is that the facts just sit there until someone tries to put them together. the Annihilationist wants us to believe that just tossing the facts out there, we must agree with his conclusions. Not so. Smarter folks than either the Annihilationist or I have been quoted by the Annihilationist, to inform us as to what the facts are, or to affirm the Annihilationist's view that these are indeed the facts. Thing is, when you start reading what these folks actually wrote, many of them point out the facts and after viewing and reviewing those facts, reject the Annihilationistl's conclusions (Dungan, Lewis, the ISBE, Edershiem to mention a few). The facts is facts, but unless you place them in just the same way that the Annihilationist does, tilt your head just so, set the lights down low, and maybe close one eye and squint with the other, you don't see the same conclusions.

Many of the Annihilationist's points have enough of the truth in them to look good, until you start asking if this is the only conclusion that the point can achieve. I.e., the holistic nature of man. I've argued for a holistic view long before I ever heard of the Annihilationist (we go back to the RM-Bible list, maybe 8 to 10 yrs) or Fudge. A holistic view of man does not demand that the death of the body requires the death of the transcendent self. Death is the unnatural state that came in with sin. Man was not created for death, but life. The 'fall' changed the conditions from the pre-sin state. As the ISBE puts it, death is a mutilation, a separation of that which was never intended to be separated. The sundering of body and soul does not require the annihilation of both.

Nor does arguing that similarities in the Greek view and the Biblical view of the afterlife mean that the biblical view of such is the accommodation of paganism.

Eternal life is not only durative, it is qualitative. The Greeks believed that, as did the Rabbi's. Does that mean our view of eternal joy, peace and happiness is also pagan? Everlasting life refers to much more that unending existence. Morey cites J. Baille And the Life Everlasting and F. Grant Facts and Theories as to a Future State and reminds us that in extra-biblical Greek literature everlasting life has in view an endless quality of life for the righteous, to be enjoyed in this life and the next. That the Greeks viewed it as referencing fullness of life, joy and peace.

Shall we also demand that our view of eternal life be tossed out because of some overlap with Pagan ideas?

In Rabbinic literature everlasting life also refers to the quality of life the righteous receive in this life now as well as in the afterlife (Ps Sol 3:16; Bal. Tal. RH 64; etc). FF Bruce tells us that in the Hebraic sense it refers to "the life of the age to come or the resurrection life" which is already the present possession of the righteous. (New Testament History)

It is obvious that there is more to life than simple existence, and more to death than simple non-existence. The Greeks believed this, the Rabbi's believed it, and so do we. B/c there is some overlap, does not require that the idea originates with them and not from divine inspiration.

As much as I'd like the conditionalist tradition to be correct, (actually, given my druthers, I'd prefer that after sufficient punishment, the Universalist was correct), I don't believe that the Annihilationist has strung the facts together correctly, for that matter, neither do many of the scholars the Annihilationist quotes to support his proposition while trying to string the facts together. In their conclusions they convert the Annihilationist's sacred cows into hamburger. 8-)

the Annihilationist's thread does not exist, and despite his having worked feverishly at the loom and mightily with his needle and thimble, his emperor is running around 'buck naked.'

For what its worth, here is the Annihilationist's only response to my review of his position. None of the other folk on the list who favored the Annihilationist's position posted anything at all.

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Eternal conscious torment: A loving God wouldn't do it!

The Annihilationist wrote: "The idea of a loving God tormenting his disobedient children throughout eternity, does not fit the idea of a loving Father."

God is loving. God is also just and holy. Sin is a violation of God's holy nature, justice requires giving everyone their due. The punishment fits the crime. Violation of an infinite holiness requires punishment on an infinite scale. In God's love, He has provided mercy and justification (forensic acquittal - see Leon Morris' The Apostolic Preaching on the Cross) for those who turn to His Son and substitute His flawless righteousness and sacrifice for their own flawed righteousness and sin. For those who do not, they must face the just penalty for sin.

The idea of eternal punishment should make us squeamish. If it doesn't we don't comprehend the enormity of either our sin, it consequences, or God's Holiness and justness.

However God deals with man at the judgment, it will be the perfect blend of mercy and justice, if His scriptures say that the punishment will never end, then that's what we are dealing with, and we must trust Him in the fairness of it, rather than impose our squeamishness on Him and downplay, or deny it.

The Annihilationist responds: "I'm just curious as to where you find this in the Bible. Where does it suggest that sins committed by finite, flawed creatures in time/space require endless torture, and that this somehow appeases a holy and >merciful, loving, compassionate God?"

My point was that God's attributes include more than love. That subsuming all other traits as subordinate to that one, fails. Justice being one of those traits, indicates that the scales will be balanced, that we will receive our due. The penalty will be on scale with the crime. We recognize this in our own justice system, the penalty is on scale with the crime. The more serious the crime the more serous the penalty.

Appeals to pity have nothing to do with the truth of scriptures. If we are upset or squeemish about how, or how long, God punishes the wicked, it has nothing to do with the truth of the proposition. Where the argument lies is in the revelation of scriptures. Where discussion should take place is not in playing one attribute of God off against the others, nor is using subjective values of how something makes us feel the determination of truth. Where the discussion takes place is what is revealed in the scriptures.

Scripture tells us that the wicked will be resurrected (Jn 5:29; Act 24:15). So the question is what does the scriptures say will be their fate. If the punishment is instant oblivion, then the Hitlers and the like never have, and never will, pay for their crimes, justice will not be served. The Bible speaks to age-long punishment / torment. The torment will last till the end of that age. That would also rule out eventual oblivion

Here's our trouble, from the human perspective we tend to create a hierarchy of God's attributes based on our subjective values. When something about God is revealed in scripture that does not fit our views we deny it saying, "A kind, loving, compassionate God would not ... [fill in the blank]!"

The Atheist says, "A kind, loving, compassionate God would not... allow suffering, war, etc, therefore He does not exist'

The Liberal theologian says, "A kind, loving, compassionate God would not...have ordered the genocide of the Canaanites. Therefore the Bible is not the revelation from God, but the revelation of man's ideas about God"

The Feminist says, "A kind, loving, compassionate God would not... place men over women so all that submission stuff is out."

The Post-modernist says, "A kind, loving, compassionate God would not... affirm the exclusivist, totalizing, grand meta-narrative of the Bible, so it ain't true."

The Annilhilationists and Universalists would both reject conditionalism saying "A kind, loving, compassion God would not ... duly punish His children and then execute them afterward. Therefore the conditionalist position is false."

Find something objectionable? "A kind, loving compassionate, God would not...[fill in the blank]!" becomes the invincible objection to whatever we find objectionable. This form of eclecticism, selecting the parts we like out of the set of ideas the Bible gives us, and discarding the parts that we don't like, is poor reasoning. "Man is the measure of all things," even what God will or will not do.

Someone said (more or less) that, for the Bible to say that God is holy, just, loving and merciful presupposes that those words mean something factual in regard to God, and to say that He is infinitely so, also presupposes that that word means something, too. As far as the words can go they tell us something about Him. To take those words out of the metaphysical and put flesh on them, if He came into the world, then He'd be perfectly holy, loving, courageous, just, and merciful. We could recognize those qualities for what they were, and name them, since God gave us the words, we can know something about the truth they teach, because He did it in Jesus.

Rather than just toss a list of descriptive words, and a set of rules at us, He gave us a referent by working in Space-time history to make Himself more fully known. The history of the Old Testament and New Testament reveal more of His nature than we may care to understand. One thing about God, He sure ain't tame or civilized.

Because of what "A kind loving compassionate God would not" do, words like fear, trembling, and awe are pretty much obsolete. Here's something from Jim McGuiggan, (God of the Towel): <begin quote>

" 'The face of the Lord is against them that do evil' He is no divine dupe. There is the goodness and the severity of God. There is, what Clow call, "the dark line in God's face." Daniel sees Him in blinding white, judging amidst fire and lightening (Dan 7). The judgments on Cain, Noah's world, Sodom and Gomorrah, and the plague which swept away 14,000 in Israel over the Korah affair (Num 16:49) unite to tell us God' refusal to give an inch to sin. Have you read Isa 30:27ff lately? Listen how Moffatt gives it:

"Here comes the Eternal from afar in blazing wrath, with heavy thunderclouds, with angry foam upon His lips and a tongue like a devouring fire, breathing fury like a flood that reaches to the neck to sift the nations till they are undone, to drive men with a halter to their doom! ... And the Eternal will thunder in triumph, and swing His arms down plain, in a fury of Anger, with flames that devour, storming with hail and with rain. At the Eternal's voice of thunder, the Assyrians are appalled: He fights them to the death and clubs them down... the pyre to burn them is prepared, both deep and wide, piled high with logs set blazing by the breath of the Eternal like a fiery tide." This is God in operation against injustice against His people. This is God responding to the Assyrian's unholy challenge to Jehovah (Isa 36:18-20; 37:17). And Moses insists (Ex 34:7) that God will not hold the guilty guiltless!"

.... But isn't this all Old Testament? It is indeed. It is New Testament teaching also! The judgment is at the Judgment seat of Christ. It is Christ who is to judge the world (Jn 5). It is from the lips of Christ we hear the words "depart ... into everlasting fire." It is from Christ that we learn of the "worm that dieth not" and the "outer darkness and the weeping and gnashing of teeth." It is Christ who is described as having "eyes like blazing fire" (Rev 1). We hear from Christ about the "shut door" and the "too late" (Matt 25). It is from those he specifically commissioned as His witnesses (the apostolic group) that we hear of "everlasting destruction," of "the goodness and severity of God," "wrath stored up" in "the day of God's wrath, when His righteous judgment will be revealed," of "The day of God" and the judgment of the "ungodly" and their "ungodly acts" done in "ungodly ways." There's more but that's enough. In all of these passages we are told that the judgment, the punishment, the exclusion, is the result of a holy recoil in the face of impenitent wickedness. The holiness of God is seen in the wrath revealed from heaven against all unrighteousness from the day the first pair threw innocence to the winds and chose self-worship up to this moment. God's holy response is seen in the mark on Cain, God's hatred of sin is made clear in His drowning the world in Noah's day. It is made visible in the burning to the ground of Sodom and the cities of the plains. Those with eyes to see it, saw it in the pagan invasions of Jerusalem and the razing to the ground of the glorious temple. But it wasn't made know at all on any of those occasions when compared with how it was shown on Golgotha!"

<end quote>

The metaphysical has been fleshed out, and while we may not have absolute knowledge, we are not left without knowledge of what God has in mind with such words as holy, just and so forth.

One who finds the above objectionable has only to demand that "A kind, loving, compassionate God would not ...!" But the Bible tells us He did. So we either force God into the box our presuppositions, or we change our presuppositions to match what the Bible teaches about Him.

"A kind, loving, compassionate God would not ...[fill in the blank]!" is no argument at all, unless the scripture tells us He would not. If were going to conform our understanding of the afterlife to God's reality, such questions may generate lots of heat, but no light. We're gonna have to talk about what the book actually says on the matter. As Augustine put it, "If you accept in the gospel what you like, and reject from the gospel what you don't like, its not the gospel you believe, but yourself."


By Scott P Wiley


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