The Doctrine of Hell Saturday, Aug 3 2013 

OT Passages That Speak to the End of the Wicked

Psalm 37: 1 Do not fret because of evildoers, Be not envious toward wrongdoers. 2 For they will wither quickly like the grass And fade like the green herb.

9 For evildoers will be cut off, But those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land. 10 Yet a little while and the wicked man will be no more;
And you will look carefully for his place and he will not be there.

15 Their sword will enter their own heart, And their bows will be broken.

22 For those blessed by Him will inherit the land, But those cursed by Him will be cut off.

28 For the Lord loves justice And does not forsake His godly ones; They are preserved forever, But the descendants of the wicked will be cut off.

34 Wait for the Lord and keep His way, And He will exalt you to inherit the land; When the wicked are cut off, you will see it.

Psa 69: 28 May they be blotted out of the book of life And may they not be recorded with the righteous.

Psalm 139: 19 O that You would slay the wicked, O God; Depart from me, therefore, men of bloodshed.

Psa 4:1 The wicked are not so, But they are like chaff which the wind drives away. 5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

Psa 1:6 For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the wicked will perish.

Psa 58: 6 O God, shatter their teeth in their mouth; Break out the fangs of the young lions, O Lord. 7 Let them flow away like water that runs off;
When he aims his arrows, let them be as headless shafts. 8 Let them be as a snail which melts away as it goes along, Like the miscarriages of a woman which never see the sun. 9 Before your pots can feel the fire of thorns He will sweep them away with a whirlwind, the green and the burning alike. 10 The righteous will rejoice when he sees the vengeance; He will wash his feet in the blood of the wicked. 11 And men will say, “Surely there is a reward for the righteous; Surely there is a God who judges on earth!”

Psa 68:1 Let God arise, let His enemies be scattered, And let those who hate Him flee before Him. 2 As smoke is driven away, so drive them away;
As wax melts before the fire, So let the wicked perish before God.

83:1 O God, do not remain quiet; Do not be silent and, O God, do not be still. 2 For behold, Your enemies make an uproar, And those who hate You have exalted themselves.

13 O my God, make them like the whirling dust, Like chaff before the wind 14 Like fire that burns the forest And like a flame that sets the mountains on fire

Yahshua connects the OT destruction of the wicked to the coming age saying:

Luke 17:26 And just as it happened in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: 27 they were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, they were being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. 

How was the destruction of the wicked described?

Gen 7: 21 All flesh that moved on the earth perished, birds and cattle and beasts and every swarming thing that swarms upon the earth, and all mankind; 22 of all that was on the dry land, all in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, died. 23 Thus He blotted out every living thing that was upon the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky, and they were blotted out from the earth; and only Noah was left, together with those that were with him in the ark. 24 The water prevailed upon the earth one hundred and fifty days.

Peter comments to the same effect,

2 Peter 3: 5 For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, 6 through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. 7 But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction [g684, apoleia] of ungodly men.

The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is also an example of undergoing eternal punishment.

Jude 7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.

So what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah?

Gen 19: 24 Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven, 25 and He overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. 

28 and he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the valley, and he saw, and behold, the smoke of the land ascended like the smoke of a furnace. 29 Thus it came about, when God destroyed [h7843, Shachath] the cities of the valley, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when He overthrew the cities in which Lot lived.

We do not see any eternal torment here but annihilation.  Peter speaks to this issue,

2 Peter 2:6 and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction [G2692-katastrophe] by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter;

This is the same language Malachi uses:

Mal 4:1 For behold, the day is coming, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and every evildoer will be chaff; and the day that is coming will set them ablaze,” says the Lord of hosts, “so that it will leave them neither root nor branch.” 2 “But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall. 3 You will tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day which I am preparing,” says the Lord of hosts.

Moreover, we have the testimony of Yahshua,

Mat. 10:28 Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy [G622-apollymi[1]] both soul and body in hell.

In the New Testament apollymi means lose or lost 31 times. It means perish 33 times and refers to the final end of something. There are 3 obscure uses of it:

1. In Luke 15:17 it refers to a man in the process of dying.

2. In John 6:27 it refers to the process of rotting food.

3. In 1 Cor 8:11 it refers to a brother’s perishing peace and comfort and communion.

It means destroy 26 times. When it does it means the end of men’s lives or their theories. There is only one exception. The word is used in Rom 14:15 the same as it is in 1 Cor 8:11.

Apollymi never means an everlasting torture. These processes could not be used by the Christians because they would contradict the Immortality and ontological indestructibility of the soul. Yahshua uses it again in John 3:16.

And with reference to Mark 9:43-48, which is used to defend eternal torture, the original reference in Isa. 66:24 reads,

“Then they will go forth and look
On the corpses of the men
Who have transgressed against Me.
For their worm will not die
And their fire will not be quenched;
And they will be an abhorrence to all mankind.”

Here we see the worms eat corpses not living bodies.

Are we supposed to believe it’s the opposite from what these verses say? What correspondence does a furnace of fire that destroys bear to an eternal torture chamber? These verses say the wicked are destroyed. Christians think the wicked are preserved forever!  If Yah really wanted to convey the idea that an indestructible, immortal soul would undergo eternal torment, he would compare it to a torture chamber or a dungeon not a furnace of fire.

Mat 3:11

Mat 3: 11 “As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable [G762-asbestos-a derivative of σβέννυμι (G4570)[2]] fire.”

First, this does not speak to the nature or circumstances of those suffering in this fire. Second, does unquenchable mean that this fire will never go out? Let’s examine some verses that use similar language.

Jer 17:27 “But if you do not listen to Me to keep the sabbath day holy by not carrying a load and coming in through the gates of Jerusalem on the sabbath day, then I will kindle a fire in its gates and it will devour the palaces of Jerusalem and not be quenched.[In the LXX σβεσθήσεται from σβέννυμι G4570[3]]”

The same word is used in the same way in Isa 1:31, 34:10, Jer 4:4, 7:20, 21:12, Ezek 20:47-48, and Amos 5:6. It does not mean that the fire will never go out, but that it is irresistible.

Mat 13:40-43

Mat 13: 40 So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness,42 and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.

The OT passage that mentions the wicked gnashing their teeth at their final end states,

Psalm 112:10 The wicked will see it and be vexed, He will gnash his teeth and melt away; The desire of the wicked will perish.

Notice it does not say they are tormented forever. It says they are destroyed. Christians often mistake the annihilation view as if it denies the concept of torment. Obviously, torment is involved in destruction, just not eternal torment. When Bloody Mary and Thomas More massacred my ancestors in England by burning them at the stake, they both destoryed them and tormented them. You don’t have to pick one or the other.

2 Thessalonians 1:9

2 Thess 1:9 These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power

The word for eternal here is G166 aionios from the root G165 aiōn. Mat 18:8, 19:16, etc. use the same word.

In the LXX this word in Gen 17:7 does not mean eternal. Lev 6:18 is not eternal either for the Jews have had many centuries of postponement in the offering of sacrifices. The same as in Lev 16:29, Psalm 143:3, and Isa 42:14. In many passages the word simply means old: Deut 32:7, Job 22:15.

Christians will complain that Rev 20:10 refers to eternal punishment with the word forever. The King James, Geneva, and Wycliffe versions of the Bible use the word forever in Exo 21:6 but it does not refer to a never ending series of ages. There are many other passages to this effect.

What is the Punishment for Sin?

Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Rom 2:12 12 For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law;

Gen 2: 15 Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. 16 The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”

Here we see the penalty for sin is death, not eternal torture.

These supplemental scriptures show the clear evidence of the annihilation of the wicked for their sins not eternal torment: Heb 2:2-3, 6:8, 10:27-31, 10:39, 12:29, 2 Peter 2:12-13.

The Pagan Origins of Eternal Torment

The immortality of the Soul is a standard Platonic doctrine. This doctrine is explained in Plato’s famous dialogue Phaedo. Socrates defended the Immortality of the Soul thus:

“The soul resembles the divine and the body the mortal-there can be no doubt of that, Socrates.

Then reflect, Cebes: is not the conclusion of the whole matter this?-that the soul is in the very likeness of the divine, and immortal, and intelligible, and uniform, and indissoluble, and unchangeable; and the body is in the very likeness of the human, and mortal, and unintelligible, and multiform, and dissoluble, and changeable. Can this, my dear Cebes, be denied?

No, indeed.
But if this is true, then is not the body liable to speedy dissolution?

and is not the soul almost or altogether indissoluble?
And do you further observe, that after a man is dead, the body, which is the visible part of man, and has a visible framework, which is called a corpse, and which would naturally be dissolved and decomposed and dissipated, is not dissolved or decomposed at once, but may remain for a good while, if the constitution be sound at the time of death, and the season of the year favorable? For the body when shrunk and embalmed, as is the custom in Egypt, may remain almost entire through infinite ages; and even in decay, still there are some portions, such as the bones and ligaments, which are practically indestructible. You allow that?

And are we to suppose that the soul, which is invisible, in passing to the true Hades, which like her is invisible, and pure, and noble, and on her way to the good and wise God, whither, if God will, my soul is also soon to go-that the soul, I repeat, if this be her nature and origin, is blown away and perishes immediately on quitting the body as the many say? That can never be, dear Simmias and Cebes. The truth rather is that the soul which is pure at departing draws after her no bodily taint, having never voluntarily had connection with the body, which she is ever avoiding,herself gathered into herself (for such abstraction has been the study of her life). And what does this mean but that she has been a true disciple of philosophy and has practised how to die easily? And is not philosophy the practice of death?

That soul, I say, herself invisible, departs to the invisible world to the divine and immortal and rational: thither arriving, she lives in bliss and is released from the error and folly of men, their fears and wild passions and all other human ills, and forever dwells, as they say of the initiated, in company with the gods.

Is not this true, Cebes?

Yes, said Cebes, beyond a doubt.

But the soul which has been polluted, and is impure at the time of her departure, and is the companion and servant of the body always, and is in love with and fascinated by the body and by the desires and pleasures of the body, until she is led to believe that the truth only exists in a bodily form, which a man may touch and see and taste and use for the purposes of his lusts-the soul, I mean, accustomed to hate and fear and avoid the intellectual principle, which to the bodily eye is dark and invisible, and can be attained only by philosophy-do you suppose that such a soul as this will depart pure and unalloyed?

That is impossible, he replied.

She is engrossed by the corporeal, which the continual association and constant care of the body have made natural to her.

Very true.
And this, my friend, may be conceived to be that heavy, weighty, earthy element of sight by which such a soul is depressed and dragged down again into the visible world, because she is afraid of the invisible and of the world below-prowling about tombs and sepulchres, in the neighborhood of which, as they tell us, are seen certain ghostly apparitions of souls which have not departed pure, but are cloyed with sight and therefore visible.

That is very likely, Socrates.
Yes, that is very likely, Cebes; and these must be the souls, not of the good, but of the evil, who are compelled to wander about such places in payment of the penalty of their former evil way of life; and they continue to wander until the desire which haunts them is satisfied and they are imprisoned in another body. And they may be supposed to be fixed in the same natures which they had in their former life.

What natures do you mean, Socrates?
I mean to say that men who have followed after gluttony, and wantonness, and drunkenness, and have had no thought of avoiding them, would pass into asses and animals of that sort. What do you think?

I think that exceedingly probable.
And those who have chosen the portion of injustice, and tyranny, and violence, will pass into wolves, or into hawks and kites; whither else can we suppose them to go?

Yes, said Cebes; that is doubtless the place of natures such as theirs. And there is no difficulty, he said, in assigning to all of them places answering to their several natures and propensities?”[4]

This is continued in the Neoplatonic philosophy that was so influential in the development of early Christian Theology. It can be found in Plotinus’ Fourth Ennead, 7th Tractate, On the Immortality of the Soul.[5]

Tertullian incorporated this doctrine into Christianity via his work A Treatise on the Soul.[6] Origen developed this into a complete Systematic Theology. He affirmed the Neoplatonic doctrine of Absolute Divine Simplicity. I have spoken to this issue in great detail here: According to this Theology, there is no distinction between nature and will. God creates necessarily because if he willed it, he must have willed it by nature since there is no distinction between will and nature. To create is what God is on Origen’s view. Farrell says of God’s Essence, Will, and Activity,  “Hence these categories become merely categories, that is, they become conventions of human language, and do not correspond to distinct metaphysical realities They are each names, and only names, for the same ‘Something.’”[7] In his construction, Origen, as in Plotinian Neoplatonism, could not avoid the inference that a necessary creation posited creation of beings that emanate  from the simple One and these creations/emanations were not of its free choice but happen necessarily. In Origen, with regard to human free choice, free will was not possible in the eschaton due to his view of Simplicity (No plurality of choice), therefore to preserve free will the eternal possibility of subsequent falls and redemptions was necessary. This is why Origen posited the pre-existence of the soul (See De Principiis[8]). Due to the absolute simplicity of God, what is natural is by definition compelled for nothing else but the monad can be an object of choice (No nature-will distinction). This being the case the redemption of Christ compels all to salvation due to the ontological view of the atonement at the time which over emphasized the apokatastasis/recapitulational aspects of the atonement. Enter Origen’s universalism and the birth of Monothelitism.

Augustine continued this tradition in his Soliloquies.[9]

Gen 2:7 teaches that Yah created the soul of man as a free act of his own will. The soul of man was not an eternal emanation from his nature. I have spoken at great length on the issues involved in creation and Yah’s nature here:

If the soul is not inherently immortal by nature, then Immortality must be given by grace. But this speaks to the nature of the atonement. Two Scriptures:

1 Tim 6: 13 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, 14 that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which He will bring about at the proper time—He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.

2 Tim.1: 9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, 10 But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:

Immortality comes through Christ by grace, not by nature. If immortality is bestowed on the reprobate wicked at some time in the future then you cannot believe in Limited Atonement. Limited Immortality suggests Limited Atonement and Unlimited Immortality suggests Unlimited Atonement. So-called Biblicists will say that God providentially sustains the soul eternally while it is suffering without the need for Immortality. This is a popular technique used by Christians: Ad Hoc. They love to assert something without being able to give an account for it. God can create without a nature-will distinction; One being can be three persons; Jesus can be the Jewish Messiah while violating the Law and teaching others to do so; Hyper Calvinists say that people can be saved without preaching the gospel; Eastern Orthodoxy says God can forgive and justify a sinner without a Propitiatory sacrifice; and on and on. This is one of the reasons Christianity has so many thousands of factions. When one can appeal to an irrational ad hoc reasoning, anything can be presented as truth and it is protected as unfalsifiable.

Martin Luther comments on the Immortality of the Soul,

“However, I permit the Pope to establish articles of faith for himself and for his own faithful—such are: That the bread and wine are transubstantiated in the sacrament; that the essence of God neither generates nor is generated; that the soul is the substantial form of the human body that he [the pope] is emperor of the world and king of heaven, and earthly god; that the soul is immortal; and all these endless monstrosities in the Roman dunghill of decretals—in order that such as his faith is, such may be his gospel, such also his faithful, and such his church, and that the lips may have suitable lettuce and the lid may be worthy of the dish. (Martin Luther, Assertio Omnium Articulorum M. Lutheri per Bullam Leonis X. Novissimam Damnatorum (Assertion of all the articles of M. Luther condemned by the latest Bull of Leo X), article 27, Weimar edition of Luther’s Works, vol. 7, pg. 131-132)

Now Calvin did believe in the Immortality of the Soul,

“2. Moreover, there can be no question that man consists of a body and a soul; meaning by soul, an immortal though created essence, which is his nobler part. Sometimes he is called a spirit. But though the two terms, while they are used together differ in their meaning, still, when spirit is used by itself it is equivalent to soul, as when Solomon speaking of death says, that the spirit returns to God who gave it (Eccles. 12:7). And Christ, in commending his spirit to the Father, and Stephen his to Christ, simply mean, that when the soul is freed from the prison-house of the body, [NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!! Here is Calvin’s flaming Gnosticism! -DS] God becomes its perpetual keeper. Those who imagine that the soul is called a spirit because it is a breath or energy divinely infused into bodies, but devoid of essence, err too grossly, as is shown both by the nature of the thing, and the whole tenor of Scripture. It is true, indeed, that men cleaving too much to the earth are dull of apprehension, nay, being alienated from the Father of Lights, are so immersed in darkness as to imagine that they will not survive the grave; still the light is not so completely quenched in darkness that all sense of immortality is lost. Conscience, which, distinguishing, between good and evil, responds to the Judgment of God, is an undoubted sign of an immortal spirit. [Calvin is conflating a subject with its quality. The issue here is not whether man has a soul that continues after death. The issue here is what kind of soul survives the grave? Indestructible and eternal or mortal and vulnerable?-DS] How could motion devoid of essence penetrate to the Judgment-seat of God, and under a sense of guilt strike itself with terror? The body cannot be affected by any fear of spiritual punishment. This is competent only to the soul, which must therefore be endued with essence. Then the mere knowledge of a God sufficiently proves that souls which rise higher than the world must be immortal, it being impossible that any evanescent vigour could reach the very fountain of life. In fine, while the many noble faculties with which the human mind is endued proclaim that something divine is engraven on it, they are so many evidences of an immortal essence. For such sense as the lower animals possess goes not beyond the body, or at least not beyond the objects actually presented to it. But the swiftness with which the human mind glances from heaven to earth, scans the secrets of nature, and, after it has embraced all ages, with intellect and memory digests each in its proper order, and reads the future in the past, clearly demonstrates that there lurks in man a something separated from the body. We have intellect by which we are able to conceive of the invisible God and angels—a thing of which body is altogether incapable. We have ideas of rectitude, justice, and honesty—ideas which the bodily senses cannot reach. The seat of these ideas must therefore be a spirit. Nay, sleep itself, which stupefying the man, seems even to deprive him of life, is no obscure evidence of immortality; not only suggesting thoughts of things which never existed, but foreboding future events. I briefly touch on topics which even profane writers describe with a more splendid eloquence. For pious readers, a simple reference is sufficient. Were not the soul some kind of essence separated from the body, Scripture would not teach that we dwell in houses of clay, and at death remove from a tabernacle of flesh; that we put off that which is corruptible, in order that, at the last day, we may finally receive according to the deeds done in the body. These, and similar passages which everywhere occur, not only clearly distinguish the soul from the body, but by giving it the name of man, intimate that it is his principal part. Again, when Paul exhorts believers to cleanse themselves from all filthiness of the flesh and the spirit, he shows that there are two parts in which the taint of sin resides. Peter, also, in calling Christ the Shepherd and Bishop of souls, would have spoken absurdly if there were no souls towards which he might discharge such an office. Nor would there be any ground for what he says concerning the eternal salvation of souls, or for his injunction to purify our souls, or for his assertion that fleshly lusts war against the soul; neither could the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews say, that pastors watch as those who must give an account for our souls, if souls were devoid of essence. To the same effect Paul calls God to witness upon his soul, which could not be brought to trial before God if incapable of suffering punishment. This is still more clearly expressed by our Saviour, when he bids us fear him who, after he has killed the body, is able also to cast into hell fire. Again when the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews distinguishes the fathers of our flesh from God, who alone is the Father of our spirits, he could not have asserted the essence of the soul in clearer terms. Moreover, did not the soul, when freed from the fetters of the body, continue to exist, our Saviour would not have represented the soul of Lazarus as enjoying blessedness in Abraham’s bosom, while, on the contrary, that of Dives was suffering dreadful torments. Paul assures us of the same thing when he says, that so long as we are present in the body, we are absent from the Lord. Not to dwell on a matter as to which there is little obscurity, I will only add, that Luke mentions among the errors of the Sadducees that they believed neither angel nor spirit.” [10]

When I read through this section, my mouth literally dropped. This man that I thought was so learned and godly was a closet Anchoretic Neoplatonist.

Anselm’s Argument

Anselm’s argument is standard issue in Christian thinking. The idea is, man is finite and God is infinite. Therefore, man’s sin against God must be infinite and its punishment infinite because it is committed against an infinite person (God, which turns out to be 4 persons).  The Torah teaches that the stature of a man plays no role in the severity of the punishment taken out on the criminal. Moses says,

Exo 21: 23 But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.

Even foreigners, who were subordinated citizens in the Commonwealth of Israel, still had an equality under the Law with Israelites:

Num 15:14 If an alien sojourns with you, or one who may be among you throughout your generations, and he wishes to make an offering by fire, as a soothing aroma to the Lord, just as you do so he shall do. 15 As for the assembly, there shall be one statute for you and for the alien who sojourns with you, a perpetual statute throughout your generations; as you are, so shall the alien be before the Lord. 16 There is to be one law and one ordinance for you and for the alien who sojourns with you.’

This dispels the Scriptural basis for Anselm’s position. Herman Witsius deconstructed the rational basis for Anselm’s position in his The Economy of the Covenants Volume 1, pages 121-125[11],

“XXXVHI. We likewise readily admit what Creilius advances in the very same chapter: “By the same claim of right that we owe obedience to God, by the same also we become liable to punishment for neglect of obedience and service: for punishment succeeds, as it were, in the place of the duty omitted, and if possible, ought to atone for it.” But doubtless, by a claim of natural right, obedience is due to God; and it would be repugnant to the divine perfections, for God not to require it of a rational nature. I speak without reserve: A God who cannot command obedience from his rational creature, is not God. And the very same thing, according to Crellius’s very just hypothesis, is to be affirmed of punishment. I am well aware, that Crellius founds both claims, as well to obedience as to punishment, on the dominion of God as Lord; though this ought rather to be founded on the natural majesty and supremacy of God, which is the foundation of this sovereign dominion. But he is forced to confess, that this sovereign dominion is so natural to God, that he cannot renounce it ; nay indeed, that “ without it, it is scarce intelligible, how he can be God ; since it is on account of that very authority, and the power from which it flows, he is said to be God.” It therefore stands firm, that the penal sanction of the covenant is founded in the super-eminent, most holy, and most just nature of God, and not in the mere good pleasure of the free divine will only.

XXXIX. Moreover, it might be here inquired, whether the eternity of punishment ought to be derived from this natural right of God; or, which is the same thing, whether a punishment justly equivalent to every sin, ought necessarily to be eternal according to God’s natural right; so that to maintain the contrary, would be unworthy of God, and consequently impossible. A difficult question this, and the rather, because to determine concerning this absolute right of God, in special cases, seems to be above human reach. God is greater than man; he giveth not an account of his matters. Let us, however, try, whether, from the consideration of the divine perfections, we may not gather, what may in this case be worthy of God.

XL. I now presuppose, that there is in sin committed against the infinite majesty of God, a malignity in its measure infinite, and therefore a demerit of punishment in its measure infinite also. I say, that there is in sin a malignity only in its measure infinite. For it cannot be called infinite in an absolute sense. If you consider the entity of the act in itself, an act infinitely intense cannot be elicited by a finite creature: if the irregularity, and the privation of moral adhering to the act, it is a privation of a finite rectitude, such as can be competent to a creature: if, in fine you consider the whole complex, namely, sin, in the concrete, as they speak; neither in that case is its malignity absolutely infinite. For all vicious acts are not equal, but there is a great disparity among them; which could not be unequal, it they were infinite. However, the malignity of sin is in its measure infinite: l. Objectively, because it is committed against an infinite good. 2. Extensively, in respect of duration, because the blot or stain of sin endures for ever unless it be purged away by the blood of Christ. And therefore there is in him a desert of punishment, not absolutely infinite, as to intenseness of torments (1.) Because such a punishment is absolutely impossible; for a finite is not capable of infinite torments. (2.) Because it would follow, that God could never satisfy his justice, by inflicting condign punishment on the wicked, seeing they are incapable of this punishment. Now, it is then absurd to say, that any punishment is of right due to sin, which God could never inflict. (3.) Because it would follow, that an equal punishment was due to all sins, or that all in fact were to be punished alike: which is an absurdity, and against Math. xi. 22, 24. –The reason of this consequence is, because there neither is nor can be any disparity between infinities. Nevertheless there is in sin a desert of punishment in its measure infinite; namely, in the same manner that the malignity of it is infinite. That is, 1. Objectively, so as to deprive man of the enjoyment of the infinite good, which is God. 2. Extensively, so that the punishment shall last for ever. And thus I consider this desert of eternal punishment so far only as to conclude, that God does nothing contrary to equity and justice, when he punishes the sins of men with eternal torments both of soul and body…

XLI. But I know not, if it can be determined, whether this eternity ought necessarily to consist in the punishment of sense, or whether the justice of God, may be satisfied by the eternal punishment of lass, in the annihilation of the sinful creature. This I apprehend, may be said with sufficient probability and sobriety: If God shall be pleased to continue in existence for ever, the sinful creature, it is necessary (without satisfaction) that he for ever inflict punishment on him, not only the punishment of loss, but likewise that of sense. The reason is, because not only the guilt of sin always remains; but also the stain with which sin, once committed, infects the whole soul, and which can never be purged out but by the blood of Christ. But it is impossible, as we proved, § 22, 23, 24 that God should admit man stained with sin, to communion with himself: and it cannot be, that a rational creature, excluded the enjoyment of the divine favor, should not feel this indignation of God with the deepest anguish. Conscience most severely lashes the wretches for having squandered away the chief good. Which with no small care we have also shewn, § 13. and the following sections.

XLII. But whether it be necessary, that God should preserve forever the sinful creature in a state of existence, I own I am ignorant. May it not, in its measure, be reckoned an infinite punishment, if God should please to doom man, who was by nature a candidate for eternity, to total annihilation, from whence he should never be suffered to return to life I know, God has now determined otherwise, and that with the highest justice. But it is queried, whether, agreeably to his justice, he might not have settled it in this manner: If thou O man, sinnest, I will frustrate thy desire of eternal happiness, and of a blessed eternity, and, on the contrary give thee up to eternal annihilation? Here at least let us stop.”

Objection: The sinner keeps sinning while he is in hell. Therefore, he must keep suffering punishment eternally.

Answer. There is no sin after death and judgment.

Romans 7:1 Or do you not know, brethren (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives? 2 For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband. 3 So then, if while her husband is living she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress though she is joined to another man.

Luke 16

Luke 16: 19 “Now there was a rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, joyously living in splendor every day. 20 And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores, 21 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. 22 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. 23 In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 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.’ 25 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. 26 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.’ 27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father’s house— 28 for I have five brothers—in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 But he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’31 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.’ “

Notice this passage says nothing about eternal, everlasting torment. I admit that Hell is going to hurt. I simply do not concede to the idea that it will never end.

Revelation 20

Rev 20: 7 When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison, 8 and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore. 9 And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them. 10 And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. 11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 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 from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. 13 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. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Here we see that all the wicked, not just the devil, the beast and the false prophet are thrown into the lake of fire. And notice, it speaks as if the beast and the false prophet have been there for a while before the devil gets there.  That sure sounds like eternal conscious torment doesn’t it? Here is the problem. When this event is mentioned in Daniel 7 it says that the beast was destroyed, not tormented day and night forever and ever.

Daniel 7: 11 Then I kept looking because of the sound of the boastful 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. 12 As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but an extension of life was granted to them for an appointed period of time.

The word for destroy here is ‘abad (H7) and it always means the final end of someone.[12] This is one of the big difficulties I have with the book of Revelation. Here is another and not surprisingly, it appears in the same Chapter:

Rev 20: 4 Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.

I was taught by Reformed Theology that this passage speaks of a spiritual resurrection not a literal physical resurrection.

John 5:24: Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. 25 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.

When Adam fell, he died spiritually and began the process of dying physically. Paul mentions women who live in pleasure as spiritually dead (1 Tim. 5:6). Jesus referred to unbelievers as the dead in Mat 8:22 and Luk 9:60. Paul refers to unbelievers as being “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph 2:1). Since the soul died first in the world it must be the first to be resurrected. John described this in John 3:14 as passing from death to life.  The New Testament is full of such language. But wait; Rev 20: 4 says that before the resurrection they already have the testimony of Yahshua. A spiritual resurrection has already taken place. This then must be talking about a physical resurrection.  The second problem arises.  The scriptures teach the general and physical resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked ON THE SAME DAY. I need only quote the numerous passages of scripture that are abundantly clear:

Acts 17: 31 because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”

John 6:54 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.

Jud 6 And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day

John 5:28 Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice,29 and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment. (Both resurrected in the same hour)

Acts 24: 15 having a hope in God, which these men cherish themselves, that there shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.

John 11: 24 Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”

Rom 2: 5 But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6 who WILL RENDER TO EACH PERSON ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS:

And of course there is that little problem that even the greatest minds in Church History do not know what this book even means. John Calvin did not write a Commentary on the book of Revelation and as Paul Emil Henry states in his The Life and Times of John Calvin: The Great Reformer, Volume 1, page 221,

“As the most useful part of Luther’s labors consisted in his translation of the Scriptures, so Calvin deserves the highest praise for his able exposition of the divine Word. With the exception of the books of Judges, Ruth, Samuel, Kings, Esther, Nehemiah, Ezra, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, the Song of Solomon, and the Revelation of St. John, he expounded the whole Bible. The selection which he made plainly shows that Calvin’s mind naturally led him to employ himself not on the outward or historical portions of Scripture, but rather on those which contain the root and kernel of faith. It was only in his old age that he began to expound the historical books. The commentary on Joshua was his last labor. Scaliger praises him for not having expounded the Apocalypse: “It was wise of him not to write on this book;” and continues, “O how well did Calvin comprehend the mind of the prophets! No one ever understood it better! Calvin wrote best of all on Daniel, but derived the whole of his materials from St. Jerome. O how admirable a book is the Institutes! Calvin and Beza, both natives of Poictiers, were originally devoted to the study of the law Calvin did well in not writing on the Apocalypse.”

And Bayle quotes from Bodin: “In interpreting the divine oracles, I have ever preferred adopting the conclusion which pronounces the meaning of a difficult passage not clear, to rashly coinciding with the opinion of others on matters but ill understood; and greatly do I admire the elegant, no less than prudent, discourse of Calvin, who, being asked his opinion of the Apocalypse, ingenuously replied, that he was altogether unable to comprehend the meaning of the very obscure writer of that book, and that it was a question among learned men to whom the author-ship should be ascribed.”[13]

It is then no surprise that this book was rejected from early on in Church History, the Protestant Reformation, and up until this day.


“Canon LX.

[N. B.—This Canon is of most questionable genuineness.]

These are all the books of Old Testament appointed to be read:  1, Genesis of the world; 2, The Exodus from Egypt; 3, Leviticus; 4, Numbers; 5, Deuteronomy; 6, Joshua, the son of Nun; 7, Judges, Ruth; 8, Esther; 9, Of the Kings, First and Second; 10, Of the Kings, Third and Fourth; 11, Chronicles, First and Second; 12, Esdras, First and Second; 13, The Book of Psalms; 14, The Proverbs of Solomon; 15, Ecclesiastes; 16, The Song of Songs; 17, Job; 18, The Twelve Prophets; 19, Isaiah; 20, Jeremiah, and Baruch, the Lamentations, and the Epistle; 21, Ezekiel; 22, Daniel.

And these are the books of the New Testament:  Four Gospels, according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John; The Acts of the Apostles; Seven Catholic Epistles, to wit, one of James, two of Peter, three of John, one of Jude; Fourteen Epistles of Paul, one to the Romans, two to the Corinthians, one to the Galatians, one to the Ephesians, one to the Philippians, one to the Colossians, two to the Thessalonians, one to the Hebrews, two to Timothy, one to Titus, and one to Philemon.


Ancient Epitome of Canon LX.

But of the new, the four Gospels—of Matthew, of Mark, of Luke, of John; Acts; Seven Catholic epistles, viz. of James one, of Peter two, of John three, of Jude one; of Paul fourteen, viz.:  to the Romans one, to the Corinthians two, to the Galatians one, to the Ephesians one, to the Phillipians one, to the Colossians one, to the Thessalonians two, to the Hebrews one, to Timothy two, to Titus one, and to Philemon one.

It will be noticed that while this canon has often been used for controversial purposes it really has little or no value in this connexion, for the absence of the Revelation of St. John from the New Testament to all orthodox Christians is, to say the least, as fatal to its reception as an ecumenical definition of the canon of Holy Scripture, as the absence of the book of Wisdom, etc., from the Old Testament is to its reception by those who accept the books of what we may call for convenience the Greek canon, as distinguished from the Hebrew, as canonical.”

Philip Schaff, The Seven Ecumenical Councils

The Orthodox Church in America states,

“There was a certain hesitation on the part of the early Church to include the book of Revelation in the canonical scriptures of the New Testament. The reason for this was obviously the great difficulty of interpreting the apocalyptic symbols of the book. Nevertheless, since the document carried the name of the apostle John, and since it was inspired by the Holy Spirit for the instruction and edification of the Church, it came to be the last book listed in the Bible, although it is never read liturgically in the Orthodox Church.”

Martin Luther, Preface to the Revelation of St. John (1522)

“About this book of the Revelation of John, I leave everyone free to hold his own opinions. I would not have anyone bound to my opinion or judgment. I say what I feel. I miss more than one thing in this book, and it makes me consider it to be neither apostolic nor prophetic.

First and foremost, the apostles do not deal with visions, but prophesy in clear and plain words, as do Peter and Paul, and Christ in the gospel. For it befits the apostolic office to speak clearly of Christ and his deeds, without images and visions. Moreover there is no prophet in the Old Testament, to say nothing of the New, who deals so exclusively with visions and images. For myself, I think it approximates the Fourth Book of Esdras;  I can in no way detect that the Holy Spirit produced it.

Moreover he seems to me to be going much too far when he commends his own book so highly — indeed, more than any of the other sacred books do, though they are much more important — and threatens that if anyone takes away anything from it, God will take away from him, etc. Again, they are supposed to be blessed who keep what is written in this book; and yet no one knows what that is, to say nothing of keeping it. This is just the same as if we did not have the book at all. And there are many far better books available for us to keep.

Many of the fathers also rejected this book a long time ago; 9 although St. Jerome, to be sure, refers to it in exalted terms and says that it is above all praise and that there are as many mysteries in it as words. Still, Jerome cannot prove this at all, and his praise at numerous places is too generous.

Finally, let everyone think of it as his own spirit leads him. My spirit cannot accommodate itself to this book. For me this is reason enough not to think highly of it: Christ is neither taught nor known in it. But to teach Christ, this is the thing which an apostle is bound above all else to do; as Christ says in Acts 1, “You shall be my witnesses.” Therefore I stick to the books which present Christ to me clearly and purely.”

I cannot accept the book of Revelation as canonical. This book changes the meaning of the Prophets just like the Apocryphal books, it changes the doctrine of Hell, it changes the doctrine of the Resurrection and Judgment and it is utterly indiscernible.

I must conclude then that the doctrine of eternal torment is baseless, pagan and destructive to the souls of men. Here I stand; I can do no other; Yah help me.

[7] Free Choice, pg. 86

Conditional Immortality and Eternal Punishment Thursday, Jul 4 2013 

Since becoming a Torah observer I must interpret the NT in the light of the OT. In this case I must take into consideration the way the OT displays what immortality and the eschatological age will be for the wicked. This in no way detracts from the satisfaction of divine justice and the juridical categories of Reformed Soteriology. In fact the particular scope of conditional immortality seems to buttress Limited Atonement quite well as John Cassians’ favorite argument for universal atonement was the eternal existence of the wicked in hell. To be clear, I ca no longer hold to eternal punishment and innate soul immortality.

I offer to you Edward Fudge’s The Fire That Consumes:

%d bloggers like this: