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Jesus' Teaching on Hell


By John - Posted on 21 April 2006

by Samuel G. Dawson

"Don't you know that hell is just something the Catholic Church invented
to scare people into obedience?
"

I was righteously indignant when, a number of years ago, a caller uttered these words on a call-in radio show I was conducting. Perturbed by his haphazard use of Scripture, I pointed out to him and the audience, that hell couldn't possibly be something invented by Catholic theologians because Jesus talked about it. I forcefully read some of the passages where Jesus did, and concluded that hell couldn't possibly be the invention of an apostate church.I now believe that hell is the invention of Roman Catholicism; and surprisingly, most, if not all, of our popular concepts of hell can be found in the writings of Roman Catholic writers like the Italian poet Dante Alighieri (1265-1321), author of Dante's Inferno. The English poet John Milton (1608-1674), author of Paradise Lost, set forth the same concepts in a fashion highly acceptable to the Roman Catholic faith. Yet none of our concepts of hell can be found in the teaching of Jesus Christ! We get indignant at the mention of purgatory-we know that's not in the Bible. We may also find that our popular concepts of hell came from the same place that purgatory did-Roman Catholicism. The purpose of this study is to briefly analyze Jesus' teaching on hell (more correctly Gehenna, the Greek word for which hell is given), to see whether these popular concepts are grounded therein.

A Plea for Open-Mindedness as We Begin

If we strive for open-mindedness and truly want to know what the Bible teaches, the following quotation will help us in our search:

We do not start our Christian lives by working out our faith for ourselves; it is mediated to us by Christian tradition, in the form of sermons, books and established patterns of church life and fellowship. We read our Bibles in the light of what we have learned from these sources; we approach Scripture with minds already formed by the mass of accepted opinions and viewpoints with which we have come into contact, in both the Church and the world.It is easy to be unaware that it has happened; it is hard even to begin to realize how profoundly tradition in this sense has moulded us. But we are forbidden to become enslaved to human tradition, either secular or Christian, whether it be “catholic” tradition, or “critical” tradition, or “ecumenical” tradition. We may never assume the complete rightness of our own established ways of thought and practice and excuse ourselves the duty of testing and reforming them by Scriptures. (J. I. Packer, “Fundamentalism” and the Word of God [Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1958], pp. 69-70.)

Of course, Packer just reminds us of Biblical injunctions to test everything proposed for our belief. For example, in II Cor. 13.5, Paul told the Corinthians:

Try your own selves, whether ye are in the faith; prove your own selves.

Likewise, in Eph. 5.8-10, Paul commanded the Ephesian Christians to be involved in such testing:

...for ye were once darkness, but are now light in the Lord, walk as children of lightproving what is well-pleasing unto the Lord.

In New Testament times, one was only a disciple of Christ when he was willing to examine himself, his beliefs, and everything proposed for his belief as a child of light. Nothing less is required now.

Hell vs. Sheol and Hades

We first begin by eliminating the problem the King James Version of the Bible introduced to this study by indiscriminately translating three different words in the Bible as hell: sheol, hades, and Gehenna.

Sheol Used of Unseen

In the Old Testament, the word for which hell is given in the King James Version is sheol, a word whose root meaning is “unseen.” The King James Version translates sheol as “hell” 31 times, “the grave” 31 times (since someone in the grave is unseen), and “the pit” three times.

Yet in the Old Testament sheol was not exclusively a place of punishment, for faithful Jacob was there (Gen. 37.35, 42.38, 44.29, 31). Righteous Job also longed for it in Job 14.13. David spoke of going to sheol in Ps. 49.15 and Jesus went there, Ps. 16.10 and Acts 2.24-31. In all these cases, these men were “unseen” because they were dead.

Sheol Used of National Judgments

Many times the Bible uses the word sheol of national judgments, i.e., the vanishing of a nation. In Isa. 14.13, 15, Isaiah said Babylon would go to sheol, and she vanished. In Ezek. 26.19-21, Tyre so vanished in sheol. Likewise, in the New Testament, in Mt. 11.23, 12.41, Lk. 10.15, and 11.29-32, Jesus said that Capernaum would so disappear. These nations and cities didn't go to a particular location, but they were going to disappear, and they did. They were destroyed. Thus, sheol is used commonly of national judgments in both the Old and New Testaments.

Hades Used of Anything Unseen

The New Testament equivalent of sheol is hades, which occurs only eleven times. Like its synonym sheol, the King James Version translates the word “hell.” However, the correct translation is hades, or the unseen. The Bible doesn't use hades exclusively for a place of punishment. Luke 16 pictures righteous Lazarus there. Acts 2.27, 31 says Jesus went there. In I Cor. 15.15, Paul used the same word when he said, “Death, where is thy sting?” In Rev. 1.18, Jesus said he had the controlling keys of death and hades, the unseen, and in Rev. 6.8, death and hades followed the pale horse. Finally, in Rev. 20.13, 14, death and hades gave up the dead that were in them, and were then cast into the lake of fire. These verses illustrate that hades refers to anything that is unseen.

Hades Used of National Judgment

Like its companion word in the Old Testament, hades was also plainly used of national judgments in the New Testament. In Mt. 11.23 and Lk. 10.15, Jesus said Capernaum would go down into hades, i.e., it was going to vanish. In Mt. 12.41 and Lk. 11.29-32, Jesus said his generation of Jews was going to fall.

About hades in Greek mythology, Edward Fudge said:

In Greek mythology Hades was the god of the underworld, then the name of the nether world itself. Charon ferried the souls of the dead across the rivers Styx or Acheron into this abode, where the watchdog Cerberus guarded the gate so none might escape. The pagan myth contained all the elements for medieval eschatology: there was the pleasant Elyusium, the gloomy and miserable Tartarus, and even the Plains of Asphodel, where ghosts could wander who were suited for neither of the above...The word hades came into biblical usage when the Septuagint translators chose it to represent the Hebrew sheol, an Old Testament concept vastly different from the pagan Greek notions just outlined. Sheol, too, received all the dead...but the Old Testament has no specific division there involving either punishment or reward. (Edward William Fudge, The Fire That Consumes [Houston: Providential Press, 1982], p. 205.)

We need to make sure that our ideas concerning hades come from the Bible and not Greek mythology. We have no problem using sheol the way the Old Testament used it, or hades, as the New Testament used it. Both refer to the dead who are unseen, and to national judgments.

The First Use of Gehenna

Most of our modern translations no longer translate hades and sheol with the word “hell.” Now we want to examine the remaining Greek word, Gehenna, that is still commonly rendered “hell.” (We will discuss whether this is an appropriate translation near the end of this study.) Notice the first occurence of this word in the Bible in Mt. 5.21-22. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said:

Ye have heard that it was said to them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: but I say unto you, that every one who is angry with his brother shall be in danger of the judgment; and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council; and whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of the hell (Gehenna--SGD) of fire.

When Jesus used the term “hell of fire” in these verses, he actually used the Greek word Gehenna for the first time in inspired writing.

We want to begin with this first occurrence of Gehenna and then study all of its occurrences in the New Testament. In this way, we can determine the totality of the Bible's teaching on what is now commonly called hell.

The Message of John the Baptist and Jesus

We devoted Chapter 6 entirely to this topic, but to understand Jesus' first use of Gehenna in the Sermon on the Mount, we must first have his ministry, and that of his contemporary, John the Baptist, in their proper contexts. We saw there that Malachi prophesied the coming of John the Baptist, and that Jesus confirmed that fulfillment by John. John's preaching consisted of announcements of an imminent (“the axe lieth at the root of the tree”) fiery judgment on Israel if she didn't repent. This was the same fiery judgment of which Malachi had spoken, and said that John would announce. With this idea of imminent fiery judgment in the context, John continued in Mt. 3.11-12:

I indeed baptize you in water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you in the Holy Spirit and in fire: whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly cleanse his threshing-floor; and he will gather his wheat into the garner, but the chaff he will burn up with unquenchable fire.

Remember this “unquenchable fire.” It will figure in our study throughout. It is the fire spoken of by Malachi, John, and Jesus.

Old Testament Background of Gehenna

Gehenna, the word hell is given for in the New Testament, is rooted in an Old Testament location. It is generally regarded as derived from a valley nearby Jerusalem that originally belonged to a man named Hinnom. Scholars say the word is a transliteration of the Valley of the Sons of Hinnom, a valley that had a long history in the Old Testament, all of it bad. Hence, Gehenna is a proper name like the Rio Grande Valley of Texas and New Mexico. This being true, the word should never have been translated “hell,” for as we'll see, the two words have nothing in common.

We first find Hinnom in Josh. 1.8 and 18.16, where he is mentioned in Joshua's layout of the lands of Judah and Benjamin. In II K. 23.10, we find that righteous King Josiah “defiled Topheth in the valley of the children of Hinnom, that no man might make his son or his daughter to pass through the fire to Molech.” Josiah, in his purification of the land of Judah, violated the idolatrous worship to the idol Molech by tearing down the shrines. Topheth (also spelled Tophet) was a word meaning literally, “a place of burning.” In II Chron. 28.3, idolatrous King Ahaz burnt incense and his children in the fire there, as did idolatrous King Manasseh in II Chron. 33.6. In Neh. 11.30, we find some settling in Topheth after the restoration of the Jewish captives from Babylon. In Jer. 19.2, 6, Jeremiah prophesied calamity coming upon the idolatrous Jews there, calling it the valley of slaughter, because God was going to slaughter the Jews there, using Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon. In Jer. 7.32, Jeremiah prophesied destruction coming upon the idolatrous Jews of his day with these words:

Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that it shall no more be called Tophet, nor the valley of the son of Hinnom, but the valley of slaughter; for they shall burn in Tophet, till there be no peace.

Notice the mention of Topheth, “the place of burning,” again. Isaiah also spoke of Topheth this way in Isa. 30.33, when he warned the pro-Egypt party among the Jews (i.e., those trusting in Egypt for their salvation from Babylon rather than God) of a fiery judgment coming on them. In Jer. 19.11-14, Jeremiah gave this pronouncement of judgment by Babylon on Jerusalem at the valley of Hinnom:

And the houses of Jerusalem, and the houses of the kings of Judah, shall be defiled as the place of Tophet, because of all the houses upon whose roofs they have burned incense unto all the host of heaven, and have poured out drink offerings unto other gods.

From these passages we can see that, to the Jews, the valley of Hinnom, or Topheth, from which the New Testament concept of Gehenna arose, came to mean a place of burning, a valley of slaughter, and a place of calamitous fiery judgment. Thus, Thayer in his Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, said, concerning Gehenna:

Gehenna, the name of a valley on the S. and E. of Jerusalem...which was so called from the cries of the little children who were thrown into the fiery arms of Moloch, i.e., of an idol having the form of a bull. The Jews so abhorred the place after these horrible sacrifices had been abolished by king Josiah (2 Kings xxiii.10), that they cast into it not only all manner of refuse, but even the dead bodies of animals and of unburied criminals who had been executed. And since fires were always needed to consume the dead bodies, that the air might not become tainted by the putrefaction, it came to pass that the place was called Gehenna.

Actually, since Gehenna was a proper name of a valley, it would have been called Gehenna whether or not any idolatry, burning, or dumping of garbage had ever occurred there, and it did, as we now see.

Fudge said concerning the history of the valley of Hinnom:

The valley bore this name at least as early as the writing of Joshua (Josh. 15:8; 18:16), though nothing is known of its origin. It was the site of child-sacrifices to Moloch in the days of Ahaz and Manasseh (apparently in 2 Kings 16:3; 21:6). This earned it the name “Topheth,” a place to be spit on or abhorred. This “Topheth” may have become a gigantic pyre for burning corpses in the days of Hezekiah after God slew 185,000 Assyrian soldiers in a night and saved Jerusalem (Isa. 30:31-33; 37:26). Jeremiah predicted that it would be filled to overflowing with Israelite corpses when God judged them for their sins (Jer. 7:31-33; 19:2-13). Josephus indicates that the same valley was heaped with dead bodies of the Jews following the Roman siege of Jerusalem about A.D. 69-70...Josiah desecrated the repugnant valley as part of his godly reform (2 Kings 23:10). Long before the time of Jesus, the Valley of Hinnom had become crusted over with connotations of whatever is “condemned, useless, corrupt, and forever discarded.” (Edward William Fudge, The Fire That Consumes [Houston: Providential Press, 1982], p. 160.)

We need to keep this place in mind as we read Jesus' teaching using a word referring back to this location

The Valley of Hinnom

in the Old Testament.

The Twelve Gehenna Passages in Chronological Order
Mt. 5.21-22

In Mt. 5.21-22, Jesus used Gehenna for the first time in inspired speech:

Ye have heard that it was said to them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: but I say unto you, that every one who is angry with his brother shall be in danger of the judgment, and whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of the hell of fire (Gehenna--SGD).

As we mentioned earlier in this study, Jesus actually used the Greek word Gehenna for the first time in inspired writing. The word had never occurred in the Greek Old Testament, the Septuagint. When we read the word hell, all kinds of sermon outlines, illustrations, and ideas come to the fore of our minds. None of these came to the minds of Jesus' listeners, for they had never heard the word before in inspired speech. It is very significant that the word did not occur even once in the Septuagint, quoted by Jesus and his apostles.

I suggest that to the Jews in Jesus' audience, Jesus' words referred merely to the valley southeast of Jerusalem. In their Old Testament background, Gehenna meant a place of burning, a valley where rebellious Jews had been slaughtered before and would be again if they didn't repent, as Malachi, John the Baptist, and Jesus urged them to do. Jesus didn't have to say what Gehenna was, as it was a well-known place to the people of that area, but his teaching was at least consistent with the national judgment announced by Malachi and John the Baptist. The closest fire in the context is Mt. 3.10-12, where John announced imminent fiery judgment on the nation of Israel.

Let's notice the other Gehenna passages to ascertain more about Jesus' use of Gehenna. As we do so, let's analyze each passage thus: Does the passage teach things we don't believe about an unending fiery hell, but which fit national judgment in Gehenna?

Mt. 5.29-30

The next passage is Mt. 5.29-30, where Jesus used Gehenna twice when he said:

And if thy right eye causeth thee to stumble, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not thy whole body go into hell (Gehenna--SGD). And if thy right hand causeth thee to stumble, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not thy whole body go into hell (Gehenna--SGD).

In our traditional idea of hell, unending fire after the end of time, we normally don't think of people having their physical limbs at that time. This is not an argument, but just the realization that we don't think in terms of some people being in heaven with missing eyes and limbs, and some in hell with all of theirs. However, these words do fit a national judgment. It would be better to go into the kingdom of the Messiah missing some members, than to go into an imminent national judgment of unquenchable fire with all our members. This was equivalent to John's demand that his Jewish audience bring forth fruits worthy of repentance or receive imminent unquenchable fire. The whole body of a Jew could be cast into the valley of Gehenna in the fiery judgment of which John spoke.

Mt. 10.28

The fourth time Jesus used Gehenna was when he said:

And be not afraid of them that kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (Gehenna--SGD).

Again, Jesus spoke of Gehenna consistently with imminent national judgment on Israel. The whole body of a Jew would be cast into the imminent fiery national judgment of which John spoke.

Lk. 12.4-5

This is the fifth time Jesus used Gehenna, when he said:

And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will warn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, who after he hath killed, hath power to cast into hell (Gehenna-SGD): yea, I say unto you, Fear him.

Here Jesus taught the same thing John taught in Mt. 3.10-12, that only a divine being has the power to cast someone into unquenchable fire. A human can kill you. A divine being can imminently bring an unstoppable national judgment in which a divinely ordained religion would be brought to an end. Notice also that Jesus said that one would be cast into Gehenna after he has been killed (Lk. 12.4-5) and that God can destroy both the soul and body in Gehenna.

Notice also in verse 49 that Jesus said:

I came to cast fire upon the earth; and what do I desire, if it is already kindled?

The fiery judgment of which Jesus spoke was not far off in time and place, but imminent and earthly. In verse 56, Jesus noted that the judgment of which he spoke was imminent, for he said:

Ye hypocrites, ye know how to interpret the face of the earth and the heaven; but how is it that ye know not how to interpret this time?

The word for earth in both these verses is gen, the standard word for land or ground, not necessarily the planet, which we might think. Thayer defined the word as:

1. arable land, 2. the ground, the earth as a standing place, 3. land, as opposed to sea or water, 4. the earth as a whole, the world. (p. 114)

This is the word used in Mt. 2.6 (the land of Judea), Mt. 2.20 (the land of Israel), Mt. 10.15 (the land of Sodom and Gomorrah), Mt. 11.24 (the land of Sodom), Mt. 14.34 (the land of Gennesaret), Jn. 3.22 (the land of Judea), Ac. 7.3 (into the land which I shall show thee), Ac. 7.6 (seed should sojourn in a strange land), Ac. 7.11 (a dearth over all the land of Egypt), etc. Thus, Jesus again spoke of imminent fiery destruction on the land of Israel, just as Malachi and John the Baptist said he would announce.

Mt. 18.9, Mk. 9.43-45

These verses contain the sixth, seventh, eight, and ninth times Jesus used the word Gehenna. These are verses like Mt. 5.29-30, which speak of it being better to enter life or the kingdom without some members of one's body rather than going into Gehenna with a whole body. However, we want to pay special attention to Mark's account, because in it, Jesus further described Gehenna:

And if thy hand cause thee to stumble, cut it off: it is good for thee to enter into life maimed, rather than having thy two hands to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire [emphasis mine-SGD].

Notice that Jesus specifically said what's coming in Gehenna-unquenchable fire. John the Baptist said he would baptize with unquenchable fire, not necessarily fire that would burn unendingly, but which would not be quenched. Unquenchable fire is unstoppable! It's fiery destruction brought about by a divine being. In Ezk. 20.47-48, God promised such a national judgment on Judah:

Hear the word of the Lord: Thus says the Lord God, Behold, I am about to kindle a fire in you, and it shall consume every green tree in you, as well as every dry tree; the blazing flame will not be quenched, and the whole surface from south to north will be burned by it. And all flesh will see that I, the Lord, have kindled it; it shall not be quenched.

Of course, Babylon fulfilled these words in the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. when the Jews were carried off into captivity. The fire was not quenched, but Jerusalem didn't burn unendingly from 586 B.C. on.

Likewise, in Amos 5.6, God had promised a similar judgment on the northern kingdom at the hands of the Assyrians, fulfilled in 722 B.C. when they were carried into captivity:

Seek the Lord that you may live, lest He break forth like a fire, O house of Joseph, and it consume with none to quench it for Bethel.

The unquenchable fire which consumed Israel was unstoppable, but no one believes it's still burning unendingly. Thus, when Jesus spoke of unquenchable fire in Mk. 9.43, he used language that his Jewish listeners would associate with the national judgments God had brought on nations in the Old Testament. In fact, they had never heard such language used any other way! Of course, we have, but not from the teaching of the Bible.

Mt. 23.15

In the tenth time Jesus used Gehenna, he said:

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he is become so, ye make him twofold more a son of hell (Gehenna-SGD) than yourselves.

These Jews knew what Gehenna was, and Jesus and John had foretold the unquenchable fiery judgment awaiting them there. He told these Jews that they were headed for it, and the people they taught were as well. It is the same national judgment he's been speaking of thus far.

Mt. 23.33

Eighteen verses later, Jesus used Gehenna for the eleventh time. Continuing in the same address, he said:

Ye serpents, ye offspring of vipers, how shall ye escape the judgment of hell (Gehenna-SGD)?

Just three verses later, Jesus said, in Mt. 23.36:

Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.

About these same things, Jesus said in Mt. 24.34:

Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all these things be accomplished.

Thus, Jesus gave the time element when this fiery destruction on the land would be carried out: in that generation, i.e., in the time of his dealing with the then present generation of Jews. To sum up, Jesus threatened the Jews in the environs of Jerusalem that they were headed for the valley named Gehenna where there would be unquenchable fire (Mk. 9.43) upon his generation (Mt. 23.36) in his generation (Mt. 24.34), when God destroys the souls of those of Jesus' generation after killing their bodies (Lk. 12.5, Mt. 10.28). We cannot make it more precise! Gehenna is where Jesus said Jerusalem would end up after its unstoppable fiery destruction in 70 A.D.

Jas. 3.6

There remains but one more occurrence of Gehenna in the Bible. It's the only time the word occurs outside the gospels, where James, writing to Jews shortly before the destruction of Jerusalem, said:

And the tongue is a fire: the world of iniquity among our members is the tongue, which defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the wheel of nature, and is set on fire by hell (Gehenna--SGD).

While this is the only passage speaking of Gehenna outside the gospels, it is consistent with how Jesus defined it. James condemned misuse of the tongue, specifically in terms Jesus used the first time he used the word in Mt. 5.22, where he spoke of cursing one's brethren putting one in danger of the hell of fire (Gehenna--SGD). In Jas. 3.9, James said:

Therewith bless we the Lord and Father; and therewith curse we men, who are made after the likeness of God: out of the same mouth cometh forth blessing and cursing.

Thus, the last time Gehenna occurred in the Bible, it taught the same thing it taught in the first. The Jew of Jesus' day who abused his brother with his tongue was in danger of imminent, fiery, national destruction. He was headed for unquenchable fire on his generation, in his generation.

We see the same imminence of this judgment against Jesus' generation of Jews later in James. For example, in Jas. 5.5, James mentioned a day of slaughter coming. In Jas. 5.7, he mentioned the coming of the Lord. In Jas. 5.8, he said the coming of the Lord was “at hand.” In Jas. 5.9, he said “the judge standeth before the door.”

Summary of the Twelve Gehenna Passages

From these twelve Gehenna passages, we learn that Gehenna would be the familiar valley on the southwest side of Jerusalem where an imminent fiery judgment was coming on the Jews of the generation in which Jesus was crucified. It was unquenchable fire on that generation in that generation. It was a national judgment against the Jews. Gehenna was to the Jews of Jesus' day what it was to the Jews of Jeremiah's day-where the term originated-the city dump! But it entailed all the horror of being rejected and abandoned by God to the merciless enemy who surrounded the gates and who would cause their dead carcasses to be thrown into the burning, worm-infested place. Thus, when Jesus used the term He used it in the same sense that Jeremiah did: as Jerusalem then was abandoned to Babylon's invasion, so Jerusalem of Jesus' day was about to be abandoned to Roman invasion-unless they repented. None of these hell passages say that anyone of our day can go to hell. None of them associate hell with Satan. None of them say that Satan's domain is hell. Though they speak of men being killed and destroyed in Gehenna, none of them speak of men being tormented there. Contrast Jesus' use of hell with traditional preaching on the subject. For example, we quote a Rev. J. Furniss, who said:

See on the middle of that red-hot floor stands a girl: she looks about sixteen years old. Her feet are bare. Listen; she speaks. “I have been standing on this red-hot floor for years! Look at my burnt and bleeding feet! Let me go off this burning floor for one moment!” The fifth dungeon is the red-hot oven. The little child is in the red-hot oven. Hear how it screams to come out; see how it turns and twists itself about in the fire. It beats its head against the roof of the oven. It stamps its little feet on the floor. God was very good to this little child. Very likely God saw it would get worse and worse, and would never repent, and so it would have to be punished more severely in hell. So God in His mercy called it out of the world in early childhood. (J. Furniss, The Sight of Hell [London and Dublin: Duffy], cited by Edward William Fudge, The Fire That Consumes [Houston: Providential Press, 1982], p. 416.)

Charles H. Spurgeon, renowned Baptist preacher, said:

When thou diest thy soul will be tormented alone-that will be a hell for it-but at the day of judgment thy body will join thy soul, and then thou wilt have twin hells, body and soul shall be together, each brimfull of pain, thy soul sweating in its inmost pore drops of blood and thy body from head to foot suffused with agony; conscience, judgement, memory, all tortured….Thine heart beating high with fever, thy pulse rattling at an enormous rate in agony, thy limbs cracking like the martyrs in the fire and yet unburnt, thyself put in a vessel of hot oil, pained yet coming out undestroyed, all thy veins becoming a road for the hot feet of pain to travel on, every nerve a string on which the devil shall ever play his diabolical tune….Fictions, sir! Again I say they are no fictions, but solid, stern truth. If God be true, and this Bible be true, what I have said is the truth, and you will find it one day to be so. (Charles H. Spurgeon, Sermon No. 66, New Park Street Pulpit, 2:105, cited by Edward William Fudge, The Fire That Consumes [Houston: Providential Press, 1982], p. 417.)

Only conceive that poor wretch in the flames, who is saying, “O for one drop of water to cool my parched tongue!” See how his tongue hangs from between his blistered lips! How it excoriates and burns the roof of his mouth as if it were a firebrand! Behold him crying for a drop of water. I will not picture the scene. Suffice it for me to close up by saying, that the hell of hells will be to thee, poor sinner, the thought that it is to be for ever. Thou wilt look up there on the throne of God-and on it shall be written, “for ever!” When the damned jingle the burning irons of their torments, they shall say, “For ever!” When they howl, echo cries, “For ever!” “For ever” is written on their racks, “For ever” on their chains; “For ever” burneth in the fire, “For ever” ever reigns.” (From a sermon preached in 1855, cited by Edward William Fudge, The Fire That Consumes [Houston: Providential Press, 1982], p. 417.)

Jonathan Edwards, famous Calvinist preacher of an earlier century, said:

So it will be with the soul in Hell; it will have no strength or power to deliver itself; and its torment and horror will be so great, so mighty, so vastly disproportioned to its strength, that having no strength in the least to support itself, although it be infinitely contrary to the nature and inclination of the soul utterly to sink; yet it will sink, it will utterly and totally sink, without the least degree of remaining comfort, or strength, or courage, or hope. And though it will never be annihilated, its being and perception will never be abolished: yet such will be the infinite depth of gloominess that it will sink into, that it will be in a state of death, eternal death….

To help your conception, imagine yourself to be cast into a fiery oven, all of a glowing heat, or into the midst of a glowing brick-kiln, or of a great furnace, where your pain would be as much greater than that occasioned by accidentally touching a coal of fire, as the heat is greater. Imagine also that you body were to lie there for a quarter of an hour, full of fire, as full within and without as a bright coal of fire, all the while full of quick sense; what horror would you feel at the entrance of such a furnace! And how long would that quarter of an hour seem to you!…And how much greater would be the effect, if you knew you must endure it for a whole year, and how vastly greater still, if you knew you must endure it for a thousand years! O then, how would your heart sink, if you thought, if you knew, that you must bear it forever and ever!…That after millions of millions of ages, your torment would be no nearer to an end, than ever it was; and that you never, never should be delivered! But your torment in Hell will be immeasurably greater than this illustration represents. How then will the heart of a poor creature sink under it! How utterly inexpressible and inconceivable must the sinking of the soul be in such a case. (Jonathan Edwards, cited by A. W. Pink, Eternal Punishment [Swengel, PA: Reiner Publications, n.d.], cited by Edward William Fudge, The Fire That Consumes [Houston: Providential Press, 1982], p. 417.)

Did all that preaching come from the twelve Gehenna passages we've just analyzed? Did any of it? We can find none of this language of red-hot floors, dungeons, red-hot ovens, vessels of hot oil, being able to see the throne of God, brick-kilns, torture racks, chains, or great furnaces anywhere in these twelve passages that deal with the subject of Gehenna in the Bible. However, they are easily found in Milton's Paradise Lost and Dante's Inferno.

The reader may wonder, “Well, if Jesus didn't teach that the wicked presently living will finally go to hell, then what did he teach about the final destiny of the wicked?” First, we don't have to know the answer to that question to know that traditional teaching on hell is Biblically bankrupt. Second, Jesus didn't teach anything about the final destiny of the wicked, that is, at the end of time. If we're tempted to use the account of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16), let's recall that in this account, Lazarus, the rich man, and Abraham were all in hades (they couldn't be seen), and the passage doesn't address what happens after the end of time at all. Whatever the passage teaches, it doesn't deal with the final destiny of the wicked.

Other Terminology Commonly Thought to Refer to Eternal Fiery Hell

Now we want to notice other expressions of fiery judgment which we traditionally use to describe hell. These include fire burning to sheol, the worm dying not, unquenchable fire, fire that is not quenched, everlasting fire, weeping and gnashing of teeth, gnashing of teeth, fire and brimstone, rising smoke, no rest day or night, being cast into fire, and melting.

Fire Consuming a Nation

In Isa. 33.10-1, Isaiah said about Assyria:

Now I will arise, says the Lord, now I will be exalted, now I will be lifted up. You have conceived chaff, you will give birth to stubble; my breath will consume you like a fire, and the peoples will be burned to lime, like cut thorns which are burned in the fire....Who among us can live with the consuming fire? Who among us can live with continual burning?

A careful study of the Old Testament prophets shows these expressions of the Assyrians being consumed by fire, and burned to lime are expressions of national judgment upon that nation. These expressions are similar to Jesus' statement in Lk. 12.49 that he came to send fire on the land of Israel. This is also the Old Testament basis for Jesus' statement to the Jews in Jn. 15.6:

If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.

Isaiah's language was also similar to that in Dan. 7.9-12, where Daniel foretold the judgment of the beast about to overcome the saints of the Most High:

I kept looking until thrones were set up, and the Ancient of Days took His seat; His vesture was like white snow and the hair of His head like pure wool. His throne was ablaze with flames, Its wheels were a burning fire. A river of fire was flowing and coming out from before Him; Thousands upon thousands were attending Him, and myriads upon myriads were standing before Him; The court sat, and the books were opened. Then I kept looking because of the sound of the boasting words which the horn was speaking: I kept looking until the beast was slain, and its body was destroyed and given to the burning fire.

This scene portrayed the national destruction of the pagan power attempting to destroy the saints of the Most High. This is the same scene described in Rev. 20.11-15:

And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat upon it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne; and books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged out of the things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead that were in it; and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. And if any was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire.

Both of these scenes depict national judgments against a nation persecuting God's saints, both have judgment scenes, both have people judged out of things written in the books, and both have those not pleasing God in the judgment being cast into a river or lake of fire. This national judgment goes with John's expressions of imminence in Rev. 1.3 (“the time is at hand”), Rev. 22.6 (“things which must shortly come to pass”), and Rev. 22.10 (“Seal not up the words of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand”). Those who take the early date of Revelation (A.D. 67) believe these words refer to the destruction of Jerusalem, while those who take the later date for Revelation (A.D. 90-96) believe these words refer to the destruction of the Roman Empire. Whether they refer to Jerusalem or the Roman empire, they refer to a national judgment.

Fire Burning to Sheol, Consuming the Earth and Mountains

This language is generally associated with a fiery judgment at the end of time, and hell. However, in Dt. 32.22, Moses said the same about the punishment God would bring on Israel for her idolatry:

For a fire is kindled in My anger, and burns to the lowest part of Sheol, and consumes the earth with its yield, and sets on fire the foundations of the mountains.

This language described national judgment that caused a nation to vanish.

Worm Dieth Not, Fire Not Quenched

While this language is generally applied to hell, it's not so used in any of the Gehenna passages in the Bible. In Isa. 66.24, we read of God's destruction of Jerusalem in the generation when Jesus was crucified:

Then they shall go forth and look on the corpses of the men who have transgressed against Me. For their worm shall not die, and their fire shall not be quenched; and they shall be an abhorrence to all mankind.

This passage contains nothing about conscious suffering, much less enduring to the end of time. Yet this is the same kind of language we saw in Mk. 9.47-48, the passage where Jesus described Gehenna with “unquenchable fire.” There Jesus said:

It is good for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell; where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. When Jesus spoke these words, the Bible had never used such language of anything but a national judgment.

Unquenchable Fire

Likewise, when John the Baptist and Jesus spoke of unquenchable fire, the Jews had never heard such language used of anything but a national judgment. For example, in Ezk. 20.47-48, God promised national judgment on Israel:

Hear the word of the Lord: Thus says the Lord God, Behold, I am about to kindle a fire in you, and it shall consume every green tree in you, as well as every dry tree; the blazing flame will not be quenched, and the whole surface from south to north will be burned by it. And all flesh will see that I, the Lord, have kindled it; it shall not be quenched.

In Amos 5.5-6, we have the same language used of national judgment on Israel again. God had promised a similar judgment on the northern kingdom at the hands of the Assyrians, fulfilled in 722 B.C.:

Seek the Lord that you may live, lest He break forth like a fire, O house of Joseph, and it consume with none to quench it for Bethel.

In Isa. 66.15-16, 24, Isaiah spoke of New Jerusalem's enemies being burned with unquenchable fire, as he spoke of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in A.D. 70:

For behold, the Lord will come in fire, and His chariots like the whirlwind, to render His anger with fury, and His rebuke with flames of fire. For the Lord will execute judgment by fire, and by His sword on all flesh. And those slain by the Lord will be many....Then they shall go forth and look on the corpses of the men who have transgressed against Me. For their worm shall not die, and their fire shall not be quenched; and they shall be an abhorrence to all mankind.

In Jer. 21.10-12, we read of Babylon's burning Jerusalem with unquenchable fire, a national judgment fulfilled in 586 B.C.:

For I have set My face against this city for harm and not for good, declares the Lord. It will be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he will burn it with fire. Then say to the household of the king of Judah, Hear the word of the Lord, O house of David, thus says the Lord: Administer justice every morning; and deliver the person who has been robbed from the power of the oppressor. That My wrath may not go forth like fire and burn with none to extinguish it, because of the evil of their deeds.

Again, at the time John the Baptist and Jesus used this language in the gospels, the Bible had only used it of national judgments.

Fire That Is Not Quenched

The same thing is true of this expression. In Jer. 4.4, Jeremiah used it of the destruction of Jerusalem. In Jer. 21.12, he used it to describe the destruction of the house of David. In Amos 5.5, 6, Amos used it of the destruction of Jerusalem. In II K. 22.17, it's used of the destruction of Judah. In Isa. 34.10, Isaiah used it of the destruction of Edom, and in Isa. 66.24, he used it of the destruction of the enemies of the Messiah's people. See also Jer. 7.20, 17.27, where Jeremiah used it of the destruction of Judah, and Ezk. 20.47-48, where Ezekiel spoke of God's destruction of Jerusalem.

Weeping and Gnashing of Teeth

These words are so often thought of as applying to people suffering unending conscious torment in hell, that it will surprise many to find that the Old Testament used this language exclusively of national judgments.

In Isa. 22.12, speaking of the time Jerusalem would be destroyed by Babylon, Isaiah said:

Therefore in that day the Lord God of hosts, called you to weeping, to wailing, to shaving the head, and to wearing sackcloth.

See also Isa. 16.9, Jer. 9.1, and 48.32. The entire book of Lamentations contains such language as Jeremiah lamented the destruction of Jerusalem by Babylon. In the New Testament, Jas. 5.1 uses the same kind of language to describe the weeping of the rich for fear of God's imminent judgment on Jerusalem:

Come now, ye rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten.

This judgment was also imminent in Jas. 5.5-9, where the day of slaughter was spoken of as at hand, as the judge was standing before the door. John used this same language in Rev. 18.9, of the pagan kings lamenting the destruction of spiritual Babylon:

And the kings of the earth, who committed fornication and lived wantonly with her, shall weep and wail over her, when they look upon the smoke of her burning, standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Woe, woe, the great city, Babylon, the strong city! for in one hour is thy judgment. And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn over her...

On the gnashing of teeth in particular, an adversary about to kill his victim did this in Job 16.9, Ps. 35.16, Ps. 37.12, Lam. 2.16, and Acts 7.54. Ths Psalmist used it of gnashing of teeth by the victim in Ps. 112.10, where the psalmist said:

The wicked man will see and be vexed, he will gnash his teeth and waste away: the longing of the wicked will come to nothing.

Thus, when Jesus and John the Baptist issued their warnings of the impending destruction of Jerusalem, they used language that the Old Testament had only used of national destruction.

Fire and Brimstone

In Isa. 34.9, Isaiah used this language of national judgment on Edom:

And its streams shall be turned into pitch, and its loose earth into brimstone, and its land shall become burning pitch.

In Isa. 30.33, Isaiah used it of such a judgment on Assyria:

For Topheth [the place of human sacrifice to Molech, an Assyrian god--SGD] has long been ready, indeed, it has been prepared for the king. He has made it deep and large, a pyre of fire with plenty of wood; the breath of the Lord, like a torrent of brimstone, sets it afire.

Psalm 11.6 spoke of fire and brimstone on the wicked, Ezk. 38.22 used this language to speak of national judgment on Gog, a pagan nation opposed to God's people in the restoration after Babylonian captivity. In Rev. 14.9-11, John used fire and brimstone of national judgment on the empire attempting to eradicate the Messiah's people. Scripture uses this language only of national judgment.

Rising Smoke

Isaiah used this language of national judgment against Edom in Isa. 34.10:

It shall not be quenched night or day; Its smoke shall go up forever; From generation to generation it shall be desolate; None shall pass through it forever and ever.

No Rest Day or Night

Isaiah used this language of national judgment on Edom in Isa. 34.10, quoted above.

Cast Into Fire

In Ezk. 5.4-5, this language described Israel being cast into the fire, in her destruction by Babylon:

And take again some of them and throw them into the fire, and burn them in the fire, from it a fire will spread to all the house of Israel...Thus says the Lord God, This is Jerusalem; I have set her at the center of the nations, with lands around her.

Thus, this expression is used consistently of national destruction.

Unfruitful Branches to Be Burned Up

In Ezek. 19.10-14, Ezekiel used this language of the national destruction of Israel:

Your mother was like a vine in your vineyard, Planted by the waters; It was fruitful and full of branches Because of abundant waters. And it had strong branches fit for scepters of rulers, And its height was raised above the clouds So that it was seen in its height with the mass of its branches. But it was plucked up in fury; It was cast down to the ground; And the east wind dried up its fruit. Its strong branch was torn off So that it withered; The fire consumed it. And now it is planted in the wilderness, In a dry and thirsty land. And fire has gone out from its branch; It has consumed its shoots and fruit, So that there is not in it a strong branch, A scepter to rule. This is a lamentation, and has become a lamentation.

Melt

In Mic. 1.2-7, God said he would melt Israel and Judah. In Ps. 75.3, the Psalmist used this language of the destruction of God's enemies in the Old Testament. Peter may well have used this language of the destruction of Jerusalem in II Pet. 3.10-12. (See Appendix 1, “II Peter 3: Destruction of Universe or Jerusalem?” for a full discussion of this chapter.) Like all the other expressions, melt portrays national destruction.

This section shows that none of the language we usually associate with hell is so associated in the Bible, and most of that language was used of strictly national judgments.

Is Hell Even a Proper Translation for Gehenna?

Having seen the concept involved in Jesus' use of Gehenna, that it was an unstoppable fiery punishment on his generation in his generation, we now ask whether hell is even a proper translation for Gehenna. Does our English word “hell” fit the concept of Gehenna we find in the teaching of Jesus?

Did Gehenna Even Need Translating?

As we have seen, Gehenna was the proper name for a location just outside Jerusalem. Why did it even need translating at all? We don't translate other proper names, such as Gethsemane, Calvary, or Bethlehem, all in the vicinity of Jerusalem. People living far away from Jerusalem, say in Ephesus or Rome, might not have known what these names referred to, but residents of the environs of Jerusalem certainly did, and didn't need the word translated.

When interpreting the Bible, or any other writing, for that matter, one of the fundamental rules is that we take a passage in its most literal sense unless something in the context forces us to interpret it otherwise. Thus, we should take any expression as literal, or at face value, unless the evident meaning forbids it. By evidently forbidden, we mean there's evidence that forbids the idea that it should be taken literally. By evidence, we don't mean, “I just hope it's taken figuratively, or I can't figure out what this means; so therefore, it must be figurative.” That's not evidence. By evidence, we mean things like the correct definition of a word or something in the context or other verses that demonstrate that it is not to be taken literally.

Applying this rule to the present case, we ask, “Is there evidence that forces us to think that Gehenna is anything other than the valley just outside Jerusalem? What is the evidence that Jesus' language cannot mean that?” In the absence of such evidence, Jesus simply warned the Jews in the region of Jerusalem, that unless they repented, their city was imminently to be destroyed.

A second rule for the interpretation of potentially figurative (non-literal) language is that expressions are figurative when the literal meaning would involve an impossibility. Applying this rule to the present case (the interpretation of Gehenna), we ask, “Does interpreting Gehenna literally involve us in an impossibility? Does interpreting `Jesus as warning the Jews in the region of Jerusalem that unless they repented, their city was to be imminently destroyed' involve an impossibility?” Of course not, because historically, that is exactly what happened.

A third rule is that a passage isn't literal if the literal view places it in conflict with another. Applying this rule to the present case, we ask, “Does interpreting Gehenna literally place these passages in conflict with any others?” Again, the answer is, obviously not, since Old Testament prophets foretold of Jerusalem's destruction (including John the Baptist, and Jesus himself). Why didn't translators obey these rules when interpreting Jesus' teaching on Gehenna? Is there anything in the context that forced them to think that Gehenna doesn't mean exactly what it says, i.e., a physical, literal location just outside Jerusalem? Of course, people who lived far away from Jerusalem probably wouldn't have known what Gehenna was, any more than people outside New York City may not know about Fishkills (the proper name of their municipal dump). But no one outside the region of Jerusalem was threatened by the destruction of Jerusalem. No one in Ephesus or Rome was ever threatened with the prospect of Gehenna if he didn't repent. No Gentile was ever threatened with the prospect of Gehenna if he didn't repent. We are not threatened with the prospect of Gehenna if we don't repent.

As one reviewer commented, “Of all things--Gehenna just means Gehenna!”

What Is the Origin of the English Word “Hell”?

Concerning the word “hell,” the Encyclopedia Britannica says:

Hell, the abode or state of being of evil spirits or souls that are damned to postmortem punishment. Derived from an Anglo-Saxon word meaning “to conceal,” or “to cover,” the term hell originally designed the torrid regions of the underworld, though in some religions the underworld is cold and dark. (The New Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. 5, 15th edition [Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.], p. 813.)

Britannica's lexicographer (whose job is to define words as they are now used) correctly defined hell as it's used now as the place of punishment after death. However, notice that the word historically meant “a cover.” Our word “helmet” comes from the same origin, as it covers the head. Scholars tell us this word was used in the middle ages of a farmer, who would “hell” or “cover” his potatoes to preserve them during the winter.

Webster's Unabridged Dictionary says:

Hell [ME, fr. OE; akin to OE helan to conceal, OHG hella, hell, to conceal, ON hel] heathen realm of the dead, Goth halja hell, L celare to hide, conceal, Gk kalyptein to cover, conceal, Skt sarana screening, protecting, basic meaning: concealing. (Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language Unabridged, editor Philip Babcock Gove, Ph.D. [Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster Inc., 1993], p. 1051.)

Webster agrees that the Old English origin of the word means “cover.” This word had nothing to do with a place of punishment or eternal torment. Those connotations came much later, just in time, we might say, to be corrupted by Roman Catholicism into its present form. To translate “Gehenna” (which didn't contain any meaning of eternal torment or punishment), with the word “hell” (which also didn't contain any meaning of eternal torment or punishment) isn't a translation at all, but a substitution of a man-made doctrine into a word convenient to be corrupted.

This would be like the proper noun “Palo Duro Canyon,” a familiar feature in the Texas Panhandle near the author's residence. People living far away probably have never heard of it. If someone translated the words “Palo Duro Canyon” with a completely unrelated word, and then said that new word meant “eternal torment,” it wouldn't make sense, would it? That is exactly what happened with the proper noun Gehenna, a location familiar with inhabitants of Jerusalem. But to then suggest that the word Gehenna should be translated by the word “hell,” a word that has none of the meaning of the word Gehenna, compounds the problem. “Hell” is not a translation of Gehenna, any more than New York is a translation of Jerusalem.

Another example of this unjustified substitution of a completely unrelated English word for a Greek word is the word “Easter” in Ac. 12.4. The King James Version tells us that Herod arrested Peter:

And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.

The word “translated” Easter is Pascha, the standard word for Passover throughout the New Testament. The translators of the King James Version, all members of the Church of England, essentially the English version of the Roman Catholic Church, knew the word “Easter” didn't mean Passover, and didn't have any relation to the Passover. Rather than translate Pascha as Passover, they just jammed Easter into its place. The same thing happened when the translators jammed the word hell into the place of Gehenna. Hell is no more related to Gehenna than Easter is to Pascha.

Universalist J. W. Hanson wrote something on this subject worth considering, even though we do not agree with his theory of salvation:

The word should have been left untranslated as it is in some versions, and it would not be misunderstood. It was not misunderstood by the Jews to whom Jesus addressed it. Walter Balfour well says: “What meaning would the Jews who were familiar with this word, and knew it to signify the valley of Hinnom, be likely to attach to it when they heard it used by our Lord? Would they, contrary to all former usage, transfer its meaning from a place with whose locality and history they had been familiar from their infancy, to a place of misery in another world? This conclusion is certainly inadmissible. By what rule of interpretation, then, can we arrive at the conclusion that this word means a place of misery and death?”

The French Bible, the Emphatic Diaglott, Improved Version, Wakefield's Translation and Newcomb's retain the proper noun, Gehenna, the name of a place as well-known as Babylon.

Dr. Thayer significantly remarks: “The Savior and James are the only persons in all the New Testament who use the word. John Baptist, who preached to the most wicked of men did not use it once. Paul wrote fourteen epistles and yet never once mentions it. Peter does not name it, nor Jude; and John, who wrote the gospel, three epistles, and the Book of Revelations, never employs it in a single instance. Now if Gehenna or Hell really reveals the terrible fact of endless woe, how can we account for this strange silence? How is it possible, if they knew its meaning and believed it a part of Christ's teaching that they should not have used it a hundred or a thousand times, instead of never using it at all; especially when we consider the infinite interests involved? The Book of Acts contains the record of the apostolic preaching, and the history of the first planting of the church among the Jews and Gentiles, and embraces a period of thirty years from the ascension of Christ. In all this history, in all this preaching of the disciples and apostles of Jesus there is no mention of Gehenna. In thirty years of missionary effort these men of God, addressing people of all characters and nations never under any circumstances threaten them with the torments of Gehenna or allude to it in the most distant manner! In the face of such a fact as this can any man believe that Gehenna signifies endless punishment and that this is part of divine revelation, a part of the Gospel message to the world? These considerations show how impossible it is to establish the doctrine in review on the word Gehenna. All the facts are against the supposition that the term was used by Christ or his disciples in the sense of endless punishment. There is not the least hint of any such meaning attached to it, nor the slightest preparatory notice that any such new revelation was to be looked for in this old familiar word.”

Salvation is never said to be from Gehenna. Gehenna is never said to be of endless duration nor spoken of as destined to last forever, so that even admitting the popular ideas of its existence after death it gives no support to the idea of endless torment. (J. W. Hanson, D.D., The Bible Hell, fourth edition [Boston: Universalist Publishing House, 1888. Available on World Wide Web].)

Summary of Jesus' Teaching on Hell

False theories of eternal punishment of the wicked have done unfathomable damage in the religious realm. Untold millions of people have obeyed God purely out of fear of a false concept of hell. Other untold millions have turned their backs on God because of a false sense of hell, as described by Roman Catholic sources, and their followers in most denominations.

This study shows that when John the Baptist and Jesus used these terms, they used language familiar to the Jews whom they taught. The Jews had heard this language no other way than in scenes of national judgment. While it is easy for us to read these passages from the point of view of enduring conscious punishment, we should read them as the Jews who heard them first.

Rather than our present day beliefs about hell coming from the Bible, the caller to the radio program was right. Our beliefs come from Roman Catholic theologians. As a result of an earlier version of this material, many have asked the author to deal with the final destiny of the wicked. While we are not prepared to deal with that larger subject at present, we can see, if our conclusions are correct thus far, that the subject of the final destiny of the wicked was never part of Jesus' teaching on Gehenna or hell. That connection was given to us courtesy of Roman Catholicism, just like it gave us purgatory, the sale of indulgences, Limbo Patrum, Limbo Infantrum, etc.

This chapter is from the book The Teaching of Jesus From Mount Sinai to Gehenna: A Faithful Rabbi Urgently Warns Rebellious Israel available at the website: gospelthemes.com.

psychohmike's picture

Hey Michael,

Your thoughts on this would be great.

Destruction 622 apollumi ap-ol'-loo-mee from 575 and the base of 3639; to destroy fully (reflexively, to perish, or lose), literally or figuratively:--destroy, die, lose, mar, perish. see GREEK for 575 see GREEK for 3639

Would the soul be destroyed in hell or not. And is this the same as 1 Thes 1:9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;

It seems to me that the term "everlasting destruction" would be like using the term "jumbo shrimp."

In Matthew 10:28 it seems to me like the body and soul have the same fate. And I hope this doesn't sound funny but if when we die our body ceases to exist(turns to dust) then it seems to me that the soul would too...and not necessarily dust but, do you see what I mean?

Thanks, Mike

MichaelB's picture

Hi Mike, hope to see ya soon at the study.

My thoughts would probably be along the same lines as you mentioned (though you are more of a greek expert than I am). I don't really dwell on if it is eternal torment or if it is anhilation etc. because whatever it is, it seems to be separation from God (whether concious or not I am open to) To be honest - I have not studied annhilation much. So I can't give you well educated answer on that subject. It just seems to me to be a stretch to try not to make it at least one of those.

psychohmike's picture

Dude I would be at the study every Sunday if I wouldn't have to mortgage my house for the gas. And then there is work too 8(. Oh well. 8)

I'm still investigating this whole hell thing myself. Matter of fact my talking to Virgil about this article is what landed it here today. I will have to look further myself into the whole anhilationism thing myself. I believe that this is what Virgil believes in. Oh and Virgil if you are reading this feel free to correct me if I am wrong. I don't want to misquote you.

So Michael...is anhilationism a viable option for you?

8) Mike

MichaelB's picture

Psycho Mike writes:
So Michael...is anhilationism a viable option for you?

No its not an option for me - I have eternal life =) Though I think others in here would hope its still an option for me =)

All kidding aside...if it lines up with scripture and doesn't contradict - of course it is...

"Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason - I do not accept the authority of the popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other - my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen." - Martin Luther (aka one of the meanie reformers)

psychohmike's picture

I love you meanie reformers. Especially one I work with. He thinks I'm going to hell. Which I'm not so sure what to think about that now that I have read this.

"Can't we all just get along?" - Rodney King

Orthodox's picture

GOD does not annihilate any of HIS good creation!

Virgil's picture

GOD does not annihilate any of HIS good creation!

No, he just tortures a vast majority of it for eternity. :)

Orthodox's picture

GOD does not torture HIS good creation!

Ozark's picture

MichaelB,

I was curious. What kind of death of the soul is Jesus talking about in the passage below? It is obviously eschatological in nature.

And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it. (Matt. 10:38-39)

The word “life” in this passage is same word that is translated “soul” in the passage you quote (Matt 10:28).

Jesus said they would either lose their life (soul) though following him or they would lose it at the end of the age. What did He mean?

What kind of death is Paul talking about in the passage below? It can’t be physical death and it can’t be spiritual death, so what is it? Is it related to what Jesus said?

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. (Gal. 2:20)

MichaelB's picture

Ozark - if it means "soul" in both cases doesn't that prove my point even more? I think it would, if I am following your point correctly...Because it would not make sense if they were going to have both "body" and "life" destroyed in Gehenna since that would be the same thing.

Ozark's picture

MichaelB,

This is a difficult passage for sure.

Here is the problem I see with what you are saying. If we read verses 38 and 39, we see that it was possible and even demanded that the followers of Christ lose their souls while yet living. I think this is very much related to what Paul was talking about in Gal. 2:20. The question is what did it mean to lose one’s soul or to be crucified with Christ? I believe it is imperative that we understand this matter before we can reach any conclusions about verse 28.

blackpreterist's picture

I also looked though this article some time ago, and since then I have come to reject the traditional view of the fate of the unsaved in favor of an annihilationist perspective. (Those who do not believe "perish," they are eternally destroyed, their annihilation is irrevocable, and hence their punishment is "eternal.") In this respect, I understand the point being made by those who reject that eternal punishment and destruction imply eternal conscious torment.

However...

I think that those who agree with Dawson's covenantal/national judgment view aren't entirely addressing the points being made by those such as Michael Bennett and Orthodox, who maintain at least some post-mortem applications and (at variance with myself) the traditional view of eternal conscious torment. I think that the concern being overlooked is this (correct me if I'm wrong):

If you can reinterpret all the passages dealing with judgment as relating to judgment in AD 70 during physical life and you can apply the language of Daniel 12, Matthew 25, and Revelation 20 to a covenantal and national judgment, cannot the same be said of the resurrection language of John 5, 1 Corinthians 15, and 1 Thessalonians 4, meaning that the Bible is silent concerning the afterlife, even that of believers?

If the Bible does not speak of an afterlife, then to what are the "eternal life" passages referring? If these passages only speak of life in the "here and now," how does that affect theology and how we should live our lives (note Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 15:16-19,29-32) ? If they speak of a continuation of existence after physical death, then what is the fate of those who reject God and the gospel, and what passages speak on this subject if all the passages referring to the destruction of the wicked simply speak of the slaughter and the tossing into the valley of Hinnom of those Jews who rejected Christ in AD 70? (This is why, I believe, questions have arisen concerning universalism and Orthodox made reference to Hebrews 9:27 concerning death and judgment.)

In other words, I believe that the opponents of Dawson's assessment are arguing that if the passages referring to the destruction of the wicked speak only to the end of their physical lives (i.e., national, covenantal judgment), then it logically follows that the passages speaking of "eternal life" for the faithful must be speaking solely of covenantal relationship in the physical lifetime, and that the Bible makes no mention of an afterlife for the faithful (note the parallels in Daniel 12:2, Matthew 25:46, and John 528f; if the fate of the wicked is merely in relation to national judgment and covenantal standing, then the same should hold true of the fate of the righteous). If those who side with Dawson maintain that there is an afterlife for the faithful, these opponents of Dawson's perspective would like to know what the Bible says concerning the spiritual, post mortem fate of the wicked.

Any thoughts?

\

psychohmike's picture

Niceeeee.......

How about a cliche, "absent from the body, present with the Lord" 8)

Mike

MichaelB's picture

Nicely stated blackpreterist, That is the issue. Thanks for stating it so clearly.

Orthodox's picture

Hey BP,

SPOT ON! So what's the answer?

blackpreterist's picture

This issue is a difficult one. The short answer is that I agree with you and Michael Bennett that many passages referring to judgment speak also to post mortem implications, but I also maintain an annihilationist view of the fate of the wicked. A longer explanation is as follows:

(1) The account in Luke 16 of the Rich Man and Lazarus was accurate concerning the fate of the dead pre-AD 70 and is a description of the dead in a single holding place (Sheol/Hades) upon death. In accordance with Revelation 20, this holding place was destroyed and thrown into the lake of fire. Passages that seem to speak of the "soul sleep" advocated by such groups as the Watchtower and the Seventh Day Adventist are reflections of the reality that corpses do not sing, praise, know, etc., being lifeless.

In another example of people speaking past each other, I think that those who deny that this passage teaches the consciousness of the physically deceased in Hades are missing the intent of Parker's argument: all of Jesus' parables speak of actual occurrences (there are sowers who sow seeds, individuals who hire workers to labor in their fields and vineyards, masters who can leave their possessions under the custody of their laborers, etc.) Those who argue that there is no underlying literal truth to this story (inconsistently it appears) maintain that while all of Jesus' other parables refer to literal things, the depiction of the post mortem state (specifically Hades) in this passage is figurative.

(2) "Gehenna" as a refuse of the wicked is parallel with the furnace of fire (Matthew 13) and the lake of fire (Revelation). I believe that after death, both the wicked and the righteous are judged, the righteous being received into heaven and the wicked being punished with fire. Fire, however, seems to me to be a term representing destruction, and so I maintain that the wicked are destroyed by the "fire" after being punished in accordance with their level of disobedience (cf. Luke 12:47f). The punishment is eternal in that (i) its effects are irrevocable: those who are destroyed are destroyed forever, even though they are not being destroyed forever (like capital punishment); and (ii) because the lake of fire has eternal duration despite its individual inhabitants only being there for a limited time (much like the church building that I attend on Sundays remains whether people use it or not).

(3) Since the typical description of heaven (the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21-22) is covenantal, one can say that the Bible is somewhat silent about how things will be for the disciples of Jesus after death. However, I do believe that some passages are clearly speaking to a post mortem condition and are not merely covenantal (note: a lot of the following is a re-articulation of some of my points in my [Kenneth Perkins] articles at the PreteristArchive):

(3-A) All passages speaking of the resurrection of the righteous and the wicked (Daniel 12, John 5, Acts 24, Revelation 20).

(3-A-I) It should be noted that Ezekiel 37, the passage that speaks of national resurrection and is usually the starting point for the "heaven now"/"covenantal resurrection" perspective, speaks only of a resurrection of the righteous, i.e., those in covenantal standing with God, and therefore is not a valid parallel to the above-mentioned passages (cf. Isaiah 26:19 for a similar passage).

(3-A-II) Daniel 12 ends with Daniel being told, "go your way till the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance." One might be able to argue that Daniel 12:1-3 are parallel to Isaiah 14:9 in describing a national judgment, but Daniel 12:13 has clear individual, post mortem implications, and that therefore Daniel 12:2 should be interpreted as depicting a post mortem judgment. John 5, Acts 24, and Revelation should be understood accordingly. Moreover, it seems that the parallels in Daniel 12 and Revelation 20 to the language of Matthew 25 should compel one to understand this passage as having post mortem implications as well.

(3-A-III) This post mortem understanding of resurrection and judgment is bolstered by Jesus' responses in other passages.

(3-A-III-a) Jesus' response to the Sadducees (Matthew 22, Mark 12, Luke 20), who denied resurrection, was not to correct their understanding of what the resurrection is in terms of its post mortem nature; rather, he argues (using the Torah, which the Sadducees accepted as "canon") that since God spoke of himself as still being the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, that the implication is that they have existence between their physical lives. Jesus merely corrects the assumption that marriage is binding beyond the physical lifetime that forms the basis of their question.

(3-A-III-b) In John 11, Jesus tells Martha that Lazarus will rise again (referring to Jesus' miraculous raising of Lazarus later in the chapter). Martha provides the same post mortem understanding of the resurrection given by the Sadducees in the Synoptics. Instead of wholesale rejecting this perspective, Jesus tells Martha the HE is the resurrection and the life (and goes on to show his power over resurrection and life by raising Lazarus), and that "He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die." It seems that instead of arguing that resurrection is wholly covenantal, Jesus is saying here that those who believe in him will be granted eternal life that will continue past physical death.

(3-B) While some passages speaking of death, life, etc., can be argued as having purely covenantal significance, others speak to a post mortem condition. Just as one should be careful to distinguish between different genres of literature in interpreting the language of the Bible (e.g., distinguishing between the physical astronomical luminaries and political powers as sun, moons, stars, etc.) and between passages speaking of "pre-preterist" judgments and eschatological judgment (e.g., the futurist conflation of such passages as Isaiah 13-14 and Jeremiah 50-51 with Revelation 17-19), one must be careful distinguishing between different discussions of "life," "death," "judgment," etc. in the New Testament.

(3-B-I) First Corinthians 15 and 1 Thessalonians 4 both discuss the raising of the dead. Both, however, make a distinction between the "dead" or those who have fallen asleep in Christ and those who are still physically alive. First Corinthians 15:6,18 speak of those who have fallen asleep as being the physically dead. Verses 35-49 speak of how these dead are to rise, and verses 51 and 52 speak of not all sleeping (physically dying), but all being changed and the physically dead rising in spiritual bodies while all are changed. The parallel in these verses (We will not all sleep/the dead will be raised imperishable and we will all be changed/we will be changed) is a clear indication of the fact that those who are asleep are the physically dead and are a distinct class from the general body of believers in Christ. First Thessalonians 4 also clearly makes a distinction between the general body of believers and those who sleep/the dead in Christ, furthering indicating that there are post mortem promises for the faithful to be raised.

(3-B-II) Second Corinthians, Philippians, and 2 Peter also speak to promises of post mortem existence for the faithful. The context of 2 Corinthians 5 is Paul's words in 2 Corinthians 4, speaking of the preaching of Christ despite persecution (vv. 8-15). It is with these words in mind that one should understand 2 Corinthians 4:16-5:8): We are being persecuted in our physical bodies for preaching the word of God, but even though this is the case, inwardly we are being renewed daily. Moreover, we know that if we are killed, we have a home in heaven with the Lord. Paul's internal debate concerning whether it is better to continue in the physical lifetime as a minister or to die and go on to be with Christ (Philippians 1:21-26), and Peter's use of the language of putting off the earthly dwelling as an explicit reference to physical death (2 Peter 1:13-15), evidenced by the fact that he spoke of giving the believers these words as instruction after his individual departure, are clear proofs of a post mortem context for 2 Corinthians 5:1ff, given that all three passages share similar context: ministers of the word of God, under the fire of persecution and the possibility of physical death, are speaking of their deaths as departure to be with Christ and the putting off of the earthly dwelling.

(4) In light of these post mortem passages, a brief note should be made about the relation between covenantal life and post mortem inheritance. The two are, of course, closely related. In my eyes, the best approximation of the concept of life and death could be to the legal system. By living life within the law, one is in good standing with the lawgiver and does not come under judgment; likewise, by living within the covenant established by the blood of Jesus, one is in good standing with the father. When physical life ends, this good standing continues in heaven, since, being cleansed by Jesus' sacrifice, one does not come under condemnation. If one breaks the law, when one is apprehended, one comes under judgment, one is sentenced, and the punishment is executed; likewise, those who reject God are placed under condemnation and are therefore "dead in [their] transgressions" (Ephesians 2:5). Upon death they are judged, and their sentence of spiritual death is executed. Covenantal standing in the present life determines whether one continues with God, regenerated, or is sentenced to spiritual destruction upon physical death.

I hope that lengthy analysis explains my perspective.

\

Barry's picture

Hi Blackpreterist
You said:
"Moreover, it seems that the parallels in Daniel 12 and Revelation 20 to the language of Matthew 25 should compel one to understand this passage as having post mortem implications as well."
It seems that you see a post-mortem indication in Matt. 25:26. If I have not misunderstood you, where do you see this?
Thanks in advance, Barry

we are all in this together

blackpreterist's picture

Prefatory clarification: by "post mortem implications," I mean not that a passage is wholly related to one's lot in the afterlife, but that it does not refer simply to punishment in the physical lifetime in the destruction of AD 70.

[26] "But his master answered and said to him, 'You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed. [27] 'Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest. [28] 'Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.' [29] "For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. [30] "Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Concerning this passage, my analysis will be more brief, since I believe in an annihilationist fate of the wicked. Simply put, this passage would refer to the destruction of the unfaithful servant due to his lack of prudence regarding the labor to which he was assigned, and his ultimate destruction in the "outer darkness" (outside the presence of the Lord).

If you meant Matthew 25:46,however, then, as previously noted, Daniel 12:13 is directed toward Daniel's rising to an inheritance at the end of days, a reference to an individual, post mortem resurrection in that Daniel did hundreds of years before the end of days (Jewish War period). Considering that Matthew 25:46 is a clear reference to the language of Daniel 12:2, and since it can be inferred from Daniel 12:13, referring to an individual, post mortem resurrection for Daniel, that Daniel 12:2 also speaks to individuals' post mortem fate, it seems clear that there are at least some post mortem overtones in Matthew 25:31-46.

Additionally, Revelation 20:4-6 speaks of the resurrection of those who were beheaded during the persecution (who were physically dead, and therefore experienced a post mortem resurrection). These are free from the effects of the "second death." Verses later (11-15), one sees the "rest of the dead" being raised, and those who suffer the "second death" are those whose names are not in the Book of Life and are judged at this time. It can be inferred that these "dead" are the physical dead being consigned to a post mortem fate from the facts that (i) since the dead raised in vv. 4-6 were the physically dead into a post mortem state, it is logical to believe that the "rest of the dead" (those in vv. 11-15) were also the physically dead, and (ii) since the dead raised in vv. 4-6, who were physically dead, were free from the effects of the second death, those raised at the end of the thousand years and consigned to the lake of fire, the second death, were dead in the same sense as those who were raised in the first resurrection (i.e., physically). Additionally, from the depiction of throne scenes in Matthew 25:31-46 and Revelation 20, the fact that in both passages judgment comes after the controversy concerning nations surrounding the city (cf. Matthew 24:15-28, Revelation 20:7-10), and the ultimate fate of the wicked in each passage being destruction/punishment, it appears that Matthew 25:31-46 and Revelation 20:11-15 are parallels.

From this I conclude that Matthew 25:31-46 is not merely a national/covenantal judgment, but speaks to the post mortem fate as well.

\

Barry's picture

Hi blackpreterist,
Forgive my Caps of your comments, it’s just easier for me to do it this way.
You said:
“The punishment is eternal in that (i) its effects are irrevocable: those who are destroyed are destroyed forever, even though they are not being destroyed forever (like capital punishment); and (ii) because the lake of fire has eternal duration despite its individual inhabitants only being there for a limited time (much like the church building that I attend on Sundays remains whether people use it or not).”

“One might be able to argue that Daniel 12:1-3 are parallel to Isaiah 14:9 in describing a national judgment, but Daniel 12:13 has CLEAR INDIVIDUAL, post mortem implications, and that therefore Daniel 12:2 should be interpreted as depicting a post mortem judgment.”

“While some passages speaking of death, life, etc., can be argued as having purely covenantal significance, others speak to a post mortem condition.”

“Considering that Matthew 25:46 is a clear reference to the language of Daniel 12:2, and since it can be inferred from Daniel 12:13, referring to an INDIVIDUAL, POST MORTEM resurrection for Daniel, that Daniel 12:2 also speaks TO INDIVIDUALS' POST MORTEM FATE, it seems clear that there are at least some post mortem overtones in Matthew 25:31-46.”

You have spoken of “clear individual, post mortem implications”.
Are there clear national, city, and community “post mortem indications” in the following verses:
Matt. 11:22- 24, 12:41-42, 25:32
If yes, how would you suggest that a post mortem city or community could be judged in the Day of Judgment along side a still alive city?
Barry

we are all in this together

RevelationMan's picture

I don't know if I'm understanding you correctly, but Revelation 20 says that two sets of books were opened. One of the judgments was in reference to Israel as is obvious by the fire coming down from heaven to devour them. The other, IMO, was the Resurrection Judgment.

Daniel 12:1 says that everyone whose name is found written in the book will be delivered. I believe that this is referring to Jews who became Christians. Those who did not faced the time of distress mentioned earlier in the verse.

IMO, Daniel 12:2-3, & 12:13 seem to be referring to the resurrection.

Eric Fugett

Barry's picture

Hey Rev.
The problems are IMO very great! We IMHO do not yet have a handle of resurrection (maybe someone does I haven't seen it). It simply is not working out.
It is difficult IMO to ignore or set aside the communal implications of resurrection in their post mortem implications (How is Nineveh and the Queen of the south raised up in Judgment?).
But how does not consider communal post mortem implications?
It was fine (so to speak) when we thought of individuals in judgement applications. This however had it's problems too IMO. But when we add other "restoration" "communal" "national" "city" "individual" [ECT], implications to this puzzle combined within a both still living and post mortem frame work it becomes apparent (to me at least) that we are not understanding something here. Wherein the still living are just as saved and condemned as the post mortem (equally so)in time duration in not only the primary focus of individual but also as pertains to and incorporating the additional elements of "restoration" "communal" "national" "city". [Is there a restoration of Sodom and if so what does that mean? What is the restoration of Israel as pertains to it's history? Just to throw in a few additional questions.]

I have written an article which is not yet up on the internet. This article does not answer all the questions but begins to present a possible working model for combining these elements together.
I'll let you know when it is up.
However, any thoughts so far?
Peace Barry

we are all in this together

MiddleKnowledge's picture

Ken,

Thanks, that is a very helpful explanation. I'm going to look your stuff up on the archive.

The one issue I see in this that needs to be thought out by the different strains of preterist thought re the afterlife is the issue of individuality and the corporate body.

A lot of the arguments for "Immortal Body at Death" vs. "Heaven Now" depend on the assumption THE resurrection applies EITHER to individuals OR a corporate covenant body. It's sort of an egg vs. the omelet type of debate.

I'm not sure that the either/or assumption that both sides seem to make is valid. Salvation works in both ways, and lots of other things in Scripture work in both ways. I think both aspects of individuality and corporate covenant have to be reconciled in some way, but I don't know how to do that. Perhaps the individual aspect is an experiential dimension of the corporate resurrection. In other words we have hope of the first because of the fact of the second in our past?

Even that last question is problematic because the hope for the future of a believer is not technically the resurrection which already took place. It is more of a change of experience/knowledge/understanding to come after death.

Do you see how the individual vs. corporate assumption plays out in the topic?

Lots of questions on this for me.

Thanks again,

Tim Martin
www.truthinliving.org

Barry's picture

These are good points and good questions.
Blessings Barry

we are all in this together

amie's picture

Blackpreterist,

My first thought is "thank you for listening", and like Ortho and Mike B, I appreciate you clarifying the issue at hand.

Blackpreterist: "If you can reinterpret all the passages dealing with judgment as relating to judgment in AD 70 during physical life and you can apply the language of Daniel 12, Matthew 25, and Revelation 20 to a covenantal and national judgment, cannot the same be said of the resurrection language of John 5, 1 Corinthians 15, and 1 Thessalonians 4, meaning that the Bible is silent concerning the afterlife, even that of believers?"

A: In answer to your question, "yes and no". It is silent in the texts that are commonly used to describe the afterlife, and not silent in the bigger picture (I intend to explain that in a sec, lol.

Blackpreterist: "If these passages only speak of life in the "here and now," how does that affect theology and how we should live our lives (note Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 15:16-19,29-32) ?"

A: We've been exploring that over at talk-grace.com. Though the bible is full of amazing wisdom and examples to follow, putting things into their historical and covenantal context has broadened the story of redemption in my experience. 1 Cor 15, especially verse 19 for example, may be speaking of "this life" as opposed to "that life"; or "this world" as opposed to "that world". It again, makes the passage on "baptism for the dead" into something much more comprehensive.

Blackpreterist: "If they speak of a continuation of existence after physical death, then what is the fate of those who reject God and the gospel, and what passages speak on this subject if all the passages referring to the destruction of the wicked simply speak of the slaughter and the tossing into the valley of Hinnom of those Jews who rejected Christ in AD 70? (This is why, I believe, questions have arisen concerning universalism and Orthodox made reference to Hebrews 9:27 concerning death and judgment.)"

A: There are many connotations that go along with the word "universalist" that do not apply to me. I would feel comfortable with the label "Pantelist" and/or "Transmillennialist". I would appreciate it a great deal as I affirm that "all roads did not lead to Heaven".

Blackpreterist re-asks: "If those who side with Dawson maintain that there is an afterlife for the faithful, these opponents of Dawson's perspective would like to know what the Bible says concerning the spiritual, post mortem fate of the wicked."

A: What the fate of the wicked and righteous is, and the question about the silence of the Bible concerning the afterlife I hope to answer all at once. If you have further questions I'm open. If I misunderstand something, I pray that you be as patience with me as you sound.

"In Adam all died". How did they die? Humanity was living in a state separate and exiled from God (they were booted out of the garden). This is definitely a question of relationship, but imho, it is also a question of life after death.

Can any person or thing have life after death that is separated from God? I don't think so.
I think that the OT passages support that in that there is no mention of life after death, but there is mention of hope for a future resurrection from sheol (the grave).

Israel as a nation was chosen to be "Kings and Priests". Such an accomplishment would create a mediator between humanity and God resulting in a restored humanity (therefore solving the problem created in Adam).

As I think we know, Israel failed at keeping up their end of the bargain so could not take on such titles. That is, not until Christ came along and fulfilled it on their behalves.

Israel was a nation found without strength, weakened. They were as a "valley of bones". The harder they worked at keeping the law, the more they learned their own limitations. Truly, they were metaphorically in their graves. It was prophesied that the flesh etc would reform on their bones, and as a nation they would be given life once more.

Life in Israel as a nation, meant that there was hope that they would one day keep the law. Again, they did in Christ.

Israel as a nation was resurrected (and judged) as promised. In Christ and with Christ they reigned as Kings and Priests and they became a light to the nations.. a beacon for all not to see, but to dwell in.

Christ became their mediator, they became the mediator between God and humanity. Humanity then was no longer exiled, but reconciled to God.

I don't know how much sense I just made (not doubting your intelligence, but my ability to communicate my thoughts), but I hope this at least gives the "cliffs notes" version of my line of thinking.

What any of this means is that we can know that there is life after death, and we can know the character of God (IE, He is "Just", He is "love", He is "jealous", etc). What we can't know, imo, is how God will handle people in the afterlife.

I have my personal what I would call "educated observations", but no one can truly know. We can, like David, have faith in God's justice. We can never be God to judge (again, imo).

Would you still live your life trembling before God? I do. I also live my life in awe at his perseverance and love.

Certainly you do not have to agree with my perspective. I appreciate that you are working to at least understand it.

Let me tell you while I've got your ear, if you do understand it and disagree, you will be in a better position to refute it if you find it needs such. Otherwise, the argument will continue with the "straw woman" ;-).

Amie

When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at, change.

[url=www.bugsinheaven.com]www.bugsinheaven.com[/url]

Virgil's picture

If those who side with Dawson maintain that there is an afterlife for the faithful, these opponents of Dawson's perspective would like to know what the Bible says concerning the spiritual, post mortem fate of the wicked.

There are two options:

1. They are annihilated and done away with (just as Hades, Death and the Dragon were) by being tossed into Gehenna. This accurately parallels the discarding of trash in the first century. This is where I am now.

2. They are also saved -- this is the Universalism option which people like Davo, Ed and other subscribe to.

Virgil's picture

I guess I forgot about the third option, which is 3) an eternal conscious punishment in "hell" -- but I see that as highly unlikely and also unbiblical. I think mr. Dawson showed very well that the western idea of "hell" is a made-up theological construct with no biblical support whatsoever.

Orthodox's picture

The Second Death.

Islamaphobe's picture

I'll tack on this comment here though it well go elsewhere. Posting this article was a great choice IMHO, so thanks, Virgil, for doing it. It's a real saver. I add that I very much enjoyed the thoughtful comments of blackpreterist and look forward to more from him.

John S. Evans

Barry's picture

Michael and Mike: As per you points and questions.
Mike those are some good points. The body and the soul are dealt with concerning their covenantal status.
The flesh and soul of the old covenant creature are destroyed comprehensively in AD 70.
What does it mean to LOSE YOUR SOUL to find it?
What soul is lost and what is found? (while they are still alive preparing for the end of that age)
Ether they would lose their old covenant flesh and soul through covenantal transformation or they (flesh and soul) would be catastrophically taken from them in the consummation of biblical eschatology even if they lived beyond the end of that age.

The COMPREHENSIVE destruction of the old covenant creatures in HIS ENTIRETY as an old covenant creature (soul and flesh) is well documented to be a “this age” (old age) time limitation.
Matt. 13:39-41
Acts 3:23
Among many others.
The fire is unquenchable (historical) but the chafe is burnt up which did not necessitate the physical death of the person (but was demonstrated in just such a way) but did necessitate the eternal loss of the soul and body on a covenantal level. That is done comprehensively to the flesh and soul of the old covenant creature in the ending of that age.
If they did not transform by dieing to the flesh (old) become the flesh and bone of Christ and lose their soul willingly in transformation then they would lose both body and soul covenantal destruction manifested in a valley dump yard just outside of Jerusalem where they through out their dung.
Paul considered his old flesh and soul to be dung in advance of the ending of the age to be found in him not having a righteousness of his own through the law.
Barry

we are all in this together

Ozark's picture

There are those who say that God is love. How could God annihilate that which He loves? There are those that say God is a God of justice and wrath. He must annihilate that which opposes Him. And around and around we go.

My question is why do wrath and love have to be mutually exclusive? If you think about it, they can’t be. If God is love, then there is love even in God’s wrath. I have seen only one model that seeks to reconcile the two rather than argue either or. It is the model that Barry presents here. In this scenario even those who are destroyed by God end up praising Him for His wondrous deeds. If you ask me, the thought thrills the soul.

Barry's picture

Exactly
He is sovereign in his re-creation. He is sovereign in his love. He is sovereign in his wrath.
The old cannot inherit the new. Everything becomes new. Reconciliation (comprehensive) could not be fulfilled without the wrath of God upon the old staus of life (flesh and soul).
Barry

we are all in this together

Orthodox's picture

God does not make mistakes nor annihilate His image!

Parker's picture

How can anyone take seriously Dawson's painting of Luke 16:20-31 as a place of "anything unseen"?

there was a rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, joyously living in splendor every day. "And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores, and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man's table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores. "Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham's bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. "In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. "And he cried out and said, `Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.' "But Abraham said, `Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. `And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.' "And he said, `Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father's house-- for I have five brothers--in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.' "But Abraham *said, `They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.' "But he said, `No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!' "But he said to him, `If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.' " (Luke 16:20-31)

This hades is not some "anything unseen." It is the common understanding of the afterlife in Christ's time. Christ elsewhere demanded the belief in the afterlife:

But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the burning bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Issac, and the God of Jacob. "Now He is not the God of the dead but of the living; for all live to Him." Some of the scribes answered and said, "Teacher, You have spoken well." (Luke 20:37-39)

psychohmike's picture

Hey Parker,

I know that some...ALOT of teachers make the mistake of using this parable as a support for the doctrine of hell/eternal conscious torment. Matter of fact I think I would be safe in saying that EVERY Calvary Chapel pastor will say that this isn't even a parable. There justification for this is because there are names being used...Lazarus and the rich man. This because there are no other parables that use proper names.

I always thought that was a lame hermeneutic.

I only bring up Calvary pastors because I am steeped in Calvary teaching. I graduated from the Calvary Chapel School of Ministry and I also work for Calvary Chapel.

Anyhow...I think you are trying to "make the parable walk on all fours," to quote a great teacher I know. In other words I think you are trying to use the passage to support something that you believe when that was never even the intended use of the passage.

Parables have one central meaning and to make them into anything other than that is just torture.

I mean how horrible could this hell that the rich man is in be if it only took a drip or two of water to cool his tongue. Anyhow...I will digress from here and recomend a short but very well written exegesis of this parable.

http://www.planetpreterist.com/news-2704.html

I hope that you get as much from this article as I did.

Be blessed, Mike 8)

Parker's picture

Hi Mike.

Even parable narratives correspond to real life situations and scenarios. If they didn't, no one would understand them. If in real life there weren't farmers who sow seeds with varying degrees of germination, then who in Christ's audience would have understood what he was talking about?

The reason Luke 16 is effective to Christ's original audience is because that's the standard view of the afterlife they all held. We see this scenario in many other jewish writings of that era, Josephus included.

Virgil's picture

Parker, you are using a metaphor like Lazarus and the Rich man to create a "real" picture of what hell is? Please read the article recommended above by Mike..the research I did on this really helped me understand the issue of hell/hades/sheol much better, and also put the story of Lazarus and the Rich man in the proper covenantal context.

Jesus is not describing hell in that parable...he is rather telling a much deeper story about Israel and the inheritance of that nation.

Parker's picture

Hi Virgil. What I said to Mike I'll repeat here:

Even parable narratives correspond to real life situations and scenarios. If they didn't, no one would understand them. If in real life there weren't farmers who sow seeds with varying degrees of germination, then who in Christ's audience would have understood what he was talking about?

The reason Luke 16 is effective to Christ's original audience is because that's the standard view of the afterlife they all held. We see this scenario in many other jewish writings of that era, Josephus included.

Virgil's picture

Yes, and what the author said I will repeat it here:

Even if the parable was about a real Lazarus and a real rich man, the parable is about Hades, not hell...hades which was destroyed in A.D. 70 at the fall of the Jewish temple.

Parker's picture

The Jewish view of Hades (Luke 16, Josephus, etc.) is that it would eventually empty its dead people into a final bliss or torment. In addition, their view of the departed damned was eternal, conscious punishment. The idea that the Catholic Church is the origin of any of this (Dawson's assertion) is tragic error. This understanding of hades--and the final destination of the souls there--was a common Jewish view held by 1st century Israelites and even by pre-Christian judaism (see 2 Maccabees 12:38-46). Jesus' description in Luke 16 is entirely in line with that context.

Jesus and the apostles were gravely concerned about the departed dead and what would happen to them in the judgment--and we know they didn't end up in the Valley of Hinnom south of Jerusalem as their "judgment." Dawson is way off target.

Barry's picture

The common view of afterlife at this time is not relevant as any type of proof.
The common view of the nature of the resurrection and the nature of covenant transformation and the nature of afterlife were all wrong.
The purpose of the parables was not to heighten the understanding of the nature of the kingdom but to hide it. Luke 8:9-10
They would see some evidence for it as the wind blows but they knew not where it came from or where it was going. As leavening did its work you could see something was happening but its work was hidden from their eyes.
For the publicans and harlots go in before you.

Barry

we are all in this together

Parker's picture

Barry:
The common view of afterlife at this time is not relevant as any type of proof.

Parker:
Of course it is. It's as much corroborating evidence as other historic information about the events leading up to and including AD 70. (If we found zero historic evidence of the destruction of Jerusalem in the first century, who would ever have given preterism a thought?) Christ's depiction of Hades in Luke 16 is squarely in line with the common writings on the subject in his day and in the centuries prior to. (I have no idea how Dawson missed this and ends up blaming the Catholic Church. He's way off.)

Barry:
The common view of the nature of the resurrection and the nature of covenant transformation and the nature of afterlife were all wrong.

Parker:
The Jewish notion that there is afterlife and resurrection for the dead was not wrong (though the Saducees were wrong in denying it). Exactly how it all plays out and in what realms is more murky.

The Luke 16 depiction is entirely in line with the common view of Hades found among first century Jews (and pre-Christian Jews of the Maccabean period). In citing that Hadean scenario with great detail, Christ endorses it.

Barry's picture

Barry:
The common view of afterlife at this time is not relevant as any type of proof.

Parker:
Of course it is. It's as much corroborating evidence as other historic information about the events leading up to and including AD 70. (If we found zero historic evidence of the destruction of Jerusalem in the first century, who would ever have given preterism a thought?) Christ's depiction of Hades in Luke 16 is squarely in line with the common writings on the subject in his day and in the centuries prior to. (I have no idea how Dawson missed this and ends up blaming the Catholic Church. He's way off.)

Barry:
Common bro! You are equating the historical account of the destruction of Jerusalem with how they viewed the nature of the kingdom at this time!!!!!
So we find an historical account of how the Jews of this time understood the coming nature of the kingdom and because it is historical it becomes some sort of proof of the validity of their view???
Sure I can appreciate Tim's and JL's point concerning what Josephus thought about the flood as Jew.
But to carry this over to the nature of the kingdom and the nature of resurrection is without warrant. It is clear that many commpletely misunderstood the nature of such things at this time.

Barry:
The common view of the nature of the resurrection and the nature of covenant transformation and the nature of afterlife were all wrong.

Parker:
The Jewish notion that there is afterlife and resurrection for the dead was not wrong (though the Saducees were wrong in denying it). Exactly how it all plays out and in what realms is more murky.

The Luke 16 depiction is entirely in line with the common view of Hades found among first century Jews (and pre-Christian Jews of the Maccabean period). In citing that Hadean scenario with great detail, Christ endorses it.

Barry: And this corresponds with what Solomon had to say about it? Not that all had been reveled to Solomon but the his presentation does not match what you are saying the common view of this time was.
Neither Josephus not the Pharisees are our spokesmen for the nature of covenantal matters.
Barry

we are all in this together

Parker's picture

Barry:
So we find an historical account of how the Jews of this time understood the coming nature of the kingdom and because it is historical it becomes some sort of proof of the validity of their view???

Parker:
Since Christ's depiction of Hades in Luke 16 matches similar depictions from Josephus and others of that era, we can be confident that Christ endorses something similar to the views about Hades common in that time. (In no way could any person claim Christ was rejecting the common view in his sayings at Luke 16:19-31!) In addition, concern for the then-present and near-future state of the Hadean dead is found elsewhere in scripture (1 Pet 4:5; 1 Cor 15:29; Rev 20:13; 2 Pet 2:4; 2 Maccabees 12:43-46; 2 Tim 1:18; Rom 14:9-12; 1 Thess 4:13). They were very much concerned about the departed dead and the judgment they faced. We know that the dead were not punished in the Valley of Hinnom in S. Jerusalem in the events of AD 67-70. Dawson's attempt to make Hades and Gehenna mere devastations related to Rome's conquest of Jerusalem is just not serious.

Barry:
Neither Josephus not the Pharisees are our spokesmen for the nature of covenantal matters.

Parker:
Jesus and Paul clearly sided with the Pharisees on this matter and rejected the Sadducees (Lk 20:27,37-38; Acts 23:6-9). Scripture says it there plainly. Sadducees rejected the concepts of spirit, angels, and resurrection; the Pharisees accepted all three.

Barry's picture

“Destroy this temple and in three days I will rebuild it”. Jesus in not interested in their accurate interpretation of what he is actually saying on a covenantal level.

Luke 13: takes the position of their understanding and Jesus explains things covenantally with no regard for their interpretation (“shall ALL likewise perish”).

“In the resurrection there is neither marriage nor given in marriage”. Jesus in not interested in their accurate interpretation of what he is actually saying on a covenantal level.

It is clear from the conversation from Luke 16:1 through to 31 that Jesus has not entered into clearly laid out theologically descriptions nor actual occurrences (indeed one was raised from the dead and they still did not believe) but story telling which would not reveal the true nature of what he was saying to those to whom it was directed. “Let him who is unclean be unclean still” is the precedent for eschatological outworking.

When laid out with the rest of scripture the rich man’s identity is quite clear. The same as that James speaks of and the issues are covenantal transformation.

Also siding with the Pharisees that there was a resurrection is not at all in any way siding with how they viewed the nature of such things. If the Sadducees had claimed that there would be no restoration of the kingdom he would have “sided” against them for this as well and such would not at all confirm what another thought was the nature of the restored kingdom.

There are two convenient safe havens for the traditionalist and the biblical futurist. The parables and the book of Revelation. They are safer because it is easier to take liberties with these areas of scripture.
When we compare these “interpretations” with the rest of scripture they don’t match.

Barry

we are all in this together

Parker's picture

Barry,

Get back with me when you have a credible explanation of why Christ's description of Hades (Luke 16) matches both the common understanding of Hades at that time and the apostles' urgent concern for the judgment of the dead and yet speaks of neither.

Best,
Parker

Barry's picture

If I told you that Christ was using the flawed belief of the time to paint a picture of covenantal transformation of the ages on a covenantal level it wouldn't impress you anyway now would it?

That "Hades" is the Geek god of the underworld and that he is the god of mammon (wealth). Which just happens to be the context (unrighteous mammon, lovers of money) TWICE OVER. However Christ is putting it on a covenant level as James does (James 5:1-3). They were lovers of the old economy.
The Jews of this time apparently have been quite influenced by the Greeks (or Gentiles) in their view of the after life.
The barrier is akin to the river "Styx" for example.

The meaning:
The gentiles and the Jews would change position in the transition of the ages. The Jews would inherit the god of the Greeks as they were lovers of money and the Greeks would come into the kingdom.
Torment is the torment that the Jews would have as they saw others ("from east and west and sit down with Abraham") come into the kingdom "bosom of Abraham".

Compare Luke with Matt. 8:12 "sons of the kingdom" - "sons of this age" Luke 16:8.
The two parables (Luke 16:1-13 and Luke 16:19-31) are heavily linked with issues of the old economy (lovers of money, unrighteous mammon).

Of course Parker I'm not expecting to even put a tiny dent your own conviction on these matters.

Barry.

we are all in this together

Parker's picture

Barry:
If I told you that Christ was using the flawed belief of the time to paint a picture of covenantal transformation of the ages on a covenantal level it wouldn't impress you anyway now would it?

Parker:
Of course it would not impress me. That's convoluted logic. There's not one shred of evidence to believe Christ was doing this. What we do know is that Christ depicts Hades in the same way as was commonly depicted in that time (as a real place of torment for the dead in the afterlife). Such is not a rejection of that view, but rather an endorsement of it. To suggest the opposite is not serious.

Barry:
However Christ is putting it on a covenant level as James does (James 5:1-3). They were lovers of the old economy.

Parker:
James was rebuking rich folks there, Barry (James 1:9-10). Paul likewise warned the rich (1 Tim 6:9-10,17-19). Jesus repeatedly warned the rich (Matthew 19:21-25). James said the rich were often oppressors of the underclass and blasphemers of God (James 2:5-7). To suggest that James was speaking code about "lovers of the old [Mosaic] economy" is entirely indefensible. You are getting further and further off track simply to preserve an errant view of Luke 16. This smells like desperation to me, Barry.

Next, you seem to impugn the Hebrew translators for translating Sheol as "Hades" in the Septuagint. Did it ever occur to you that they considered this the best translation available to them based on the vocabulary existing at that time? No one is saying the Greek concept of Hades and the Hebrew one of Sheol were identical. But the Hebrew translators obviously thought it was the best translation available at that time. There can be no justification for saying Christ's depiction of Hades in Luke 16 was an adoption of a then-heretical view in order to make some unrelated point. This is neither credible nor biblical.

Peace to you, Barry

Barry's picture

Barry:
If I told you that Christ was using the flawed belief of the time to paint a picture of covenantal transformation of the ages on a covenantal level it wouldn't impress you anyway now would it?

Parker:
Of course it would not impress me. That's convoluted logic. There's not one shred of evidence to believe Christ was doing this. What we do know is that Christ depicts Hades in the same way as was commonly depicted in that time (as a real place of torment for the dead in the afterlife). Such is not a rejection of that view, but rather an endorsement of it. To suggest the opposite is not serious.

Barry: And you have provided other biblical proof for this? Other than you interpretation of a rather unique parable? And one of those raised from the dead in the Bible had something to say about it which confirms you interpretation of this parable?

Barry:
However Christ is putting it on a covenant level as James does (James 5:1-3). They were lovers of the old economy.

Parker:
James was rebuking rich folks there, Barry (James 1:9-10). Paul likewise warned the rich (1 Tim 6:9-10,17-19). Jesus repeatedly warned the rich (Matthew 19:21-25). James said the rich were often oppressors of the underclass and blasphemers of God (James 2:5-7). To suggest that James was speaking code about "lovers of the old [Mosaic] economy" is entirely indefensible. You are getting further and further off track simply to preserve an errant view of Luke 16. This smells like desperation to me, Barry.

Barry: :) There is a consistent link from self-righteousness, attachment to the old covenant, and a love of money (and mammon) in the scriptures. Also that of clothing and self-righteousness. Both the parable we speak of. Both in James.
Here are a few references for you:
Compare carefully Matt. 5:3 (poor in spirit) with Luke 6:20 (poor).
Luke 12:16-21
Luke 16:11-12 (what was theirs through the promises)
Luke 16:19,"rich man" 28 "five brethren"=Judah
Luke 18:18-27
1 Cor. 7:30-31
1 Tim. 6:17

Parker:
No one is saying the Greek concept of Hades and the Hebrew one of Sheol were identical. But the Hebrew translators obviously thought it was the best translation available at that time.

Barry: I'm saying that this parable is possibly a play on words in this particular instance. So you misunderstand my point concerning the use Hades.

Parker:
There can be no justification for saying Christ's depiction of Hades in Luke 16 was an adoption of a then-heretical view in order to make some unrelated point. This is neither credible nor biblical.

Barry:
I think you are wrong. This book is written with several particulars in mind and contains some unique parables.
The deal a lot with the poor issues linked to some covenantal issues and they deal with the Gospel of the kingdom reaching the outward to others.
I am not the fist to remark such things concerning the gospel of Luke addressed to Theophilus.

Peace to you, Barry

we are all in this together

Ozark's picture

Parker,

This is not the slam dunk you seem to think it is. The Sadducees were considered conservatives. They rejected all Greek thought and thus the thought of the resurrection. Jesus did correct them, but they probably more accurately depicted pre-exile thought than the Pharisees. While Israel’s pagan neighbors seemed obsessed with the afterlife, the pre-exile Jews were relatively unconcerned with it. Their overwhelming emphasis was living in the temporal promises of God. Moses did not go around threatening anybody with Hell. The Pharisees did. They were the liberals of the day. They did incorporate Greek thought into their teachings. To say the Jewish thought of the afterlife had no Greek influence in the first century is a stretch. Jesus’ description Hades is almost identical to the Greek thought on the matter—the gulf in the middle, etc. So the Greeks figured this out before the Hebrews?

So, we are left with two possibilities. Either Jesus was endorsing obviously Greek ideas, or He was using the vernacular of the day to prove a deeper point.

Parker's picture

Doug:
They [Sadducees] rejected all Greek thought and thus the thought of the resurrection. Jesus did correct them, but they probably more accurately depicted pre-exile thought than the Pharisees.

Parker:
Hi Doug. It's hard to imagine that rejecting spirit, angels, and resurrection (Acts 23:8) was pre-exilic or Hebraic in any sense. Jesus said Moses was a teacher of resurrection (Lk 20:37) and elsewhere claimed that the Sadducees erred on this topic by not knowing scripture (Matt 22:29-32).

Doug:
While Israel’s pagan neighbors seemed obsessed with the afterlife, the pre-exile Jews were relatively unconcerned with it. Their overwhelming emphasis was living in the temporal promises of God. Moses did not go around threatening anybody with Hell.

Parker:
The law itself prescribed the dire state of judgment/condemnation under which lawbreakers abided (such marked their entire lives and required exile from the community and even death). As Jesus and the apostles taught, that state of condemnation before God had implications for life beyond the grave. The Hebrews of Christ's time and before were much concerned about the state of the dead and their judgment (1 Pet 4:5; 1 Cor 15:29; Rev 20:13; 2 Pet 2:4; 2 Maccabees 12:43-46; 2 Tim 1:18; Rom 14:9-12; 1 Thess 4:13). Their judgment was not Emperor Vespasian and General Titus in the Valley of Hinnom. Their judgment was God himself:

Rev 11:15,18
Then the seventh angel sounded...and the time came for the dead to be judged

Revelation 20:12-15
And I saw the dead...and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds.

Doug:
Jesus’ description Hades is almost identical to the Greek thought on the matter—the gulf in the middle, etc. So the Greeks figured this out before the Hebrews?

Parker:
Why do you say the Greeks figured it out before the Hebrews? Jesus says Moses was a teacher of life after death.

Doug:
So, we are left with two possibilities. Either Jesus was endorsing obviously Greek ideas, or He was using the vernacular of the day to prove a deeper point.

Parker:
You are leaving out the obvious possibility: Jesus was endorsing a true idea, whether that idea was fully detailed from the time of Moses or not. Jesus asserted to the Sadducees that Moses was a teacher of the afterlife (Lk 20:37). Jesus said their error was from not knowing scripture. To rule out Christ's teaching in Luke 16 simply because the Greeks had similar thoughts is hard to understand. Do you realize then just how "Greek" the book of Revelation is?

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