Monthly Archives: May 2013

Overcome Evil With Good?

Wow!  This must be one of the biggest lies ever told!  I have read the beginning few pages of this article by Ken Eckerty Exposing The Greatest Lie Ever Told. 

(Thanks to Dirk Moll for pointing me to this article!)

Here is one of four questions he asks:  How can we overcome evil with good if God can’t do the same? 

This question refers to Paul’s teaching in Romans 12:21.  I am reasonably sure that most of you have not contemplated that question before.  But, it is a very important question and one that deserves our time and attention.  I would go further and say that before you do one more “thing” for God, before you do one more act of ministry for your church, pastor, friends, etc., you need to answer this question for yourself.

If this offends your sensibilities, don’t feel alone.  It has been an offense to me, but more accurately not to me, but to my previous traditional beliefs.  I don’t take this (or these) type(s) of questions personally any more.  I am now willing to be challenged by them and to learn from them, because I know, when the truth is found, I will be more capable and more able and more willing to worship God and to glorify His magnificence!  This is why I CHOOSE not to hang out with those who lie and confuse the truth.  I am a truth seeker and liars do not have the truth in them.

Let me know what you think of the question and the article if you get a chance to read it.  As always, blessings to you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

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Sorry! One More Question To Consider

If Christ is to reign forever and ever   ((Rev 11:15)  Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.”), what does it mean that He will abdicate His throne?  ((1Co 15:24)  Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.)

Curious, isn’t it?  Comment on either post here or on the previous entry (two questions…)  Look forward to your answers!

Blessings to you!

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Two Questions For You

Two questions for you to ruminate (think deeply) on:

1. If the wicked go to hell (eternal conscious torment) as soon as they die, why are they raised and judged later?

(Rev 20:11) I saw a great white throne, and him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. There was found no place for them.

(Rev 20:12) I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and they opened books. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged out of the things which were written in the books, according to their works.

(Rev 20:13) The sea gave up the dead who were in it. Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them. They were judged, each one according to his works.

(Rev 20:14) Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.

(Rev 20:15) If anyone was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire.


2. Since the lake of fire is the second death, what happens to the wicked when death is destroyed?

(1Co 15:26) The last enemy that will be abolished is death.

Have a great day!

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Hell Under Fire Book Review – Paul On Hell Chapter 4 Part 2

 

The Reality of Hell

 

 

I have considered several options for addressing this section of the chapter, but one glaring point keeps staring me in the face. That point is this: how one defines the term aionios (Greek meaning age but translated in modern translations as eternal or some derivative, e.g. forever, etc.) determines ones’ theology. How one defines this term determines ones’ doctrine of salvation, of God, of the Bible, of all of existence. Why? Because, if there is such a thing as “eternal punishment” or “eternal conscious torment” then our whole system called Christianity is built around a God who calls us to a standard He does not Himself follow. This is just one of a myriad of issues this belief entails.

 

 

For instance, we are commanded to love our enemies and to bless those who curse us, yet, if God punishes His enemies eternally, meaning without end, how is that loving His enemies? How do we love our enemies? Like God loves His enemies? Treat them lovingly in this life, knowing that they will get their’s in the end? No, my friend, God is not like that. He has a different plan than the one concocted by men to scare people into the Kingdom. As I have already talked about in numerous articles already, and will speak about in many more, what God created and said was good, He will restore to Himself in the end of all things. One of the problems Christians have is that they think the Bible and time end with the book of Revelation. I would challenge you to read 1 Cor 15:22-28 for the true end of all things, the end of time as we know it, the end of the Bible, the true last verse in the Bible, 1 Cor 15:28. This is truly the final “word.”

 

 

If one believes in eternal torment in hell, then any Scripture that talks about any type of judgment becomes a talk about “eternal” judgment and continues in the vein of some going to eternal punishment and some going to eternal bliss. It is an either/or situation. But, those believing in the restoration of all people, the salvation of all people at some time in a future age, then judgment passages speak of a purifying process, or God’s view of sin that will result in correction, but not retributive justice where the offender is consigned for all eternity to suffering.

 

 

In this section of the book Moo defines eternal as most others do, unending, forever and ever, etc. He also believes that after this life there is no possibility to believe in Jesus. He believes, as I have before, that an average life span of 70 years is all we get to get it right (believe in Jesus) and only if we happen to be fortunate enough to have someone preach it to us. And, if someone in the far reaches of the world has never heard of Jesus, Romans 1 convicts them because they suppress the truth that God exists in their unrighteousness and therefore stand condemned.

 

 

Moo says, “Since Paul never uses the Greek words normally translated “hell,” we will have to depend on the various ways in which Paul depicts the fate of the wicked to determine what he teaches on this matter.” He lists seven words/sets of words.

 

 

As you look over the verses in this list, ask yourself how much sense does ECT/hell make when substituted in. Ask also whether it aids in understanding the verse in context or whether it clouds the issue. Ask also whether the change goes against other scripture passages thereby causing a contradiction. I also have included a brief commentary on each of the typical passages Moo lists.

 

 

  1. Death, die – (Rom 1:32; 5:12, 14, 15, 17, 21; 6:16, 21, 23; 7:5, 9-11, 13, 24; 8:2, 6, 13; 1 Cor 15:21-22; 2 Cor 2:16; 3:6-7; 7:10; Eph 2:1) typical verse Rom 6:23 – For the wages of sin is (ECT/hell)death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

In Gen 2:17, God told Adam that in the day you eat of the tree, you will surely die. He did not tell Adam that he would go to ECT. The wages of sin is death, not ECT. We inherited death from Adam, not his sin. We now sin because we are dead spiritually, dying one day physically as well.

 

Paul is reminding the believers that because of this gracious gift they now produce fruit for holiness and righteousness, and their proper behavior in response to God’s grace is to present themselves to God to be used as implements of righteousness.

 

 

  1. Perish, destroy, destruction(Rom 2:12; 9:22; 14:15, 20; 1 Cor 1:18; 15:18; 2 Cor 2:15; 4:3; Gal 6:8; Phil 1:28; 3:19; 1 Thes 5:3; 2 Thes 1:9; 2:10; 1 Tim 6:9) typical verse Gal 6:8 – For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap (ECT/hell)corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

 

 

Can we get something eternal from a temporal (worldly) issue? Can corruption of the flesh (this worldly since after this life we become spirit until we receive glorified bodies), which is in this life, be made into an eternal thing? Is temporal (worldly) corruption the same as eternal conscious torment? This is what Moo would have you believe.

 

 

3.  Wrath (Rom 1:18; 2:5, 8; 3:5; 5:9; 9:22; Eph 2:3; 5:6; Col 3:6; 1 Thes 1:10; 2:16;5:9) typical verse Eph 5:6 – Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the (ECT/hell)wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience

 

 

Since the behavior from verse 5 will keep those without salvation from having a part in the kingdom (this is Jesus’ Kingdom which will come to an end, 1 Cor 15:24), Paul is pleading with the believer to remember this, and to avoid such behavior. Again, Paul is not issuing a command upon which salvation is based. He continues to entreat the believer to live a life that is worthy of God’s calling that they have experienced.

 

 

  1. Condemn, condemnation, judge, judgment(Rom 2:1-3, 5, 12; 3:7-8; 5:16, 18; 8:1; 1 Cor 11:32; 2 Cor 3:9; 2 Thes 2:12; 1 Tim 5:24) typical verse Rom 5:18 – Therefore, as one trespass led to (ECT/hell) condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.

    This trespass led to spiritual death, which then called for physical death.  Adam’s standing with God was ruined and due to that he was no longer fit for the Garden and part of the sentence was physical death.  Everyone after him is born with this sin/death cycle until it is broken.  Jesus broke that cycle with His death and resurrection.   So, through Jesus’ sacrifice spiritual justification came (the wages of His death are justification) to all men, and this justification brings about life for all men (the wages of justification is spiritual life).

 

 

  1. Curse, cursed, eternally condemned(Rom 9:3; Gal 1:8-9; 3:10, 13; 1 Cor 12:3; 16:22) typical verse Gal 3:10 – For all who rely on works of the law are under a (ECT/hell)curse; for it is written, “(ECT/hell)Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.”

    How this relates to eternal conscious torment I do not know. What Paul is talking about in this chapter is that no one is justified by keeping the Law, because no one can keep it. The Galatians were saved by faith in Christ, and now they were acting like they were saved because of their works. Even substituting ECT in for the word “cursed” does not make any sense.

 

 

  1. Punishment (1 Thes 4:6; 2 Thes 1:8-9) typical verse 2 Thess 1:8-9 8in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9They will suffer the (ECT/hell)punishment of eternal (ECT/hell) destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might,

    Eternal destruction literally is eonian extermination which means death for an eon (age) or eons (ages) to come. It is eonian (for an eon, or multiple eons) extermination (death) … not everlasting destruction as some translations erroneously note. It is not a final condition, but a step in the process of God’s dealings with mankind.

 

 

  1. Trouble/distressRom 2:9 – There will be (ECT/hell)tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek,

    Note that this passage is not referring to eternal life for those who believe in this lifetime and endless torment for those who do not. The judgment and reward here (vv. 5-9) is dependent upon acts, not faith. And eonian life (vs. 7, eternal life in many modern translations) refers to life during the eons or ages to come, not the life which followsthe last eon or age.

    We must remember that the Greek aion (eon, age) refers to a time period with a beginning and an end … not endlessness. No passage of Scripture, even when talking of judgment, will follow the final outcome declared by God. Death will one day be abolished, and all will be given life when God becomes All in all (see 1 Cor 15:22-28).

 

 

Moo states after this list, “Human beings are, therefore, already in a state of perishing.” This condition is fixed forever (my emphasis) for those who do not respond to God’s grace in Christ and the work of His Spirit. But it is also clear that the condition that follows final judgment is an intensified form of what unbelievers now experience.” According to Paul in 1 Cor 15:22-28, there is nothing that comes after God becoming “All in all.” So how can an eternal conscious torment exist if everything is reconciled to God in the end and willingly bows in worship to Him (Philippians 2:10-11)?

 

 

Let me conclude with this lengthy quote to show the extent that scholars will go to defend the traditional denominational party line that hell is ECT and Paul taught it, but never used the word “hell” to label it.

 

 

Despite initial impressions, therefore, Paul’s teaching about hell is widespread and clear … Nevertheless, rarely, if ever, does Paul devote himself to explicit teaching about hell as a central purpose within his letters. How are we to evaluate this circumstance? Some might cite Paul’s failure to provide extended treatment about hell as evidence that the doctrine was of minimal importance to him. Some might go so far as to view the references we have cited above as holdovers from the tradition Paul inherited, concluding that Paul himself was not fully persuaded of the doctrine. But another conclusion, is equally tenable: Paul and his readers assumed the doctrine of hell as so basic that he did not need to provide extensive evidence for it. There are good reasons to think that this is the more likely conclusion to be drawn.”

 

 

I think we have every reason to believe Paul spoke of sin and its results, that of judgment by God, but we do not see Paul referring to God’s judgment as final and eternal and the wicked going to ECT. How does Paul then explicitly teach about hell when it is never spoken (the term hell) and thus becomes a very ambiguous thing to the readers? Why must Moo’s conclusion be anyone else’s? I do not believe he has made his case in the least part. Equally tenable? Possibly. But, what are the good reasons to even believe it is tenable, the belief that Paul believed in ECT in a place called hell (which I repeat, he never used!)

 

 

I will stop here for now. I have probably gone far beyond where I needed to go, but I will leave that for the reader to decide. If one has a presupposition that hell is a place of ECT , you will come to the same conclusions that Moo has arrived at. However, if you drop all the presuppositions that you can, and openly let Paul speak for Paul (and not the modern church, Roman Catholic Church from maybe AD 400 and beyond or tradition), I believe the conclusion one arrives at is this: It is better to believe in this life for the judgment will be less at the end of the final age. That hell is a real place, but a place of judgment and restoration, a place of refinement in fire to allow the dross to settle to the top and be skimmed off. A place of age-enduring punishment for unrepentant sinners, that lasts only until the end of the final age, when God, through His long-suffering and abundant love will overcome even the hardest of hearts and melt that heart into a God worshiping one.

 

 

One view of God is, one of love BUT just. The other, is a God who is love and who, based on His all-encompassing love, justly punishes His image-bearers, called His children, with restoration to Himself in mind, rather than ECT.

 

 

I think Moo assumes too much and obfuscates (changes) the issue using church tradition as a smoke screen rather than exegesis of the texts and arriving at a position based on the text.  I appreciate his willingness to openly admit what Paul does not say (the actual word hell) but do not appreciate him having to concoct a belief based on supposition and possibilities rather than the actual words Paul DOES use.  In other words, I reject his conclusions as false.

 

 

Until next time, sorry for the length, but please let me know what you are thinking (not only content but length as well). Blessings to you!

 

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Hell Under Fire Book Review – Paul On Hell Chapter 4 Part 1

I am going to take a different tack on this chapter to see how it works.  I am going to bite off some fall chunks, a few paragraphs at a time, that are important, and take them on in the hopes that they will be easier to follow and much shorter in length.  I will try not to get real wordy (cross your fingers!).  So let’s begin.

This chapter is written by Douglas Moo, professor of New Testament  at Wheaton College Graduate School.  He begins the chapter by saying the following:

“In most English versions, the word “hell” never appears in the letters of Paul (he gives a footnote that the NLT uses it in Rom 8:38).  And for good reason: Paul never uses the Greek words usually translated “hell” (geenna and hades).  But this book is not about the word “hell” but about the doctrine of hell.  If that doctrine is defined as teaching about the ultimate destiny of the wicked, then Paul says much about it.”

Moo divides this chapter into three sections. The three sections are: The Reality of Hell, The Eternality of Hell, and The Nature of Hell. I will take on each section, most likely dividing each section into subsections so the posts don’t get too long.

So, let’s talk about this opening statement. The first thing that came to my mind was, “If hell was such an important doctrine to Christ, and He taught Paul for three years in the Nabatean desert personally, and since Jesus used that term, according to Yarbrough from Chapter 3, emphatically in relation to eternal punishment (ECT), why would Paul not use the EXACT same word as Jesus?” Would you want to misquote the Lord of the Universe? Would you want to have your hearers guess at what you meant by not using the word “hell” consistently, since from our reading in this book, that term was known by EVERYONE, and known that it was eternal punishment?

And, since there are only two places one can go after this life (according to the authors of this book), heaven or hell, and after the last breath is drawn in this life, your state, whether in heaven or in hell is sealed for all eternity, wouldn’t you, as an apostle of Christ make it known that nobody should want to go to hell?

And, as you defined your terms with everyone (all the apostles, the earliest disciples, etc. supposedly knew what “hell” was and that the word “hell” was the only one Jesus used to describe the place of ECT) for say 30 years, this is heaven and this is hell (describing or defining these terms to the unaware), if Paul came to you with a letter and was describing the doctrine of hell, or the place of eternal punishment or the eternal destiny of the wicked, wouldn’t you ask the question, “Paul, are you talking about “hell,” and if so, why don’t you just say it!!!!!!” PLEEEEEEEASE! You seriously want a thinking human being to believe that even though Paul never used the word hell (ECT) he still went on to describe the place without calling the place what it has been called for at least 30 years, if not thousands of years (according to the authors in this book)?

And, if you had no concept of hell nor ever heard the word “hell” before, and Paul began describing this wicked place and how sealed and eternal it was, would you not ask the question, “Paul, what is the name of this place, what is it called?”

This is about as silly as Glenn Beck and his cast on his radio show not using the president’s name because they don’t like the president. Every time one of them says “Obama,” they must pay $20.00 into the “swear” jar.

I will stop here for now. Why? Mainly because as I have read this now 6-8 times, I am almost on the verge of giving up on this review because of the absurdity that this statement has brought forth in my mind that I am having a hard time getting past! I will take some time to work on that. Pray for me.

Until our next episode, blessings to you!

P.S. I feel a bit snarky right now, after writing this, but I will let it stand as is. Write to me and let me know if I went over the top or not far enough! Thanks!

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Hell Under Fire – Jesus On Hell Chapter 3 – Concluding Remarks

Yarbrough’s beliefs: 

Hell is eternal conscious punishment and is what Jesus taught multiple times.  If hell is not eternal, eternal life is not eternal.  This is traditional doctrinal teaching and beliefs of the majority of Christians and scholars.  Jesus’ beliefs did not come from the surrounding culture (Plato, philosophy, pagan religions, etc.) but from the Old Testament prophets of old (since He believed exactly what was taught in the OT).  Olam (Hebrew, used in OT) and aion/aionios (Greek used in Septuagint, the Greek OT, and the Greek NT) mean eternal, eternity, forever, forever and ever, endless, and all the various ways our modern translations translate them today.  Universal salvation is not true because Jesus taught eternal punishment in hell (he refuted that hell, translated from the term Gehenna, the Valley of Hinnom, was merely a burning garbage dump outside Jerusalem, but instead said it was, at Jesus time, known as a place where the wicked dead go forever).  Annihilationism (wicked dead are annihilated in the end, they merely cease to exist at all) is false because Jesus taught eternal punishment in hell.  It is sheer heresy and must be stopped, this growing trend of not believing in hell as a place of eternal conscious punishment (what I have called ECT).  These heretics are promoting a God and eternity of our own choosing and wresting away from God what He established from eternity, heaven for the saved and hell for the lost.

What I Have Said (and Believe)

To fully understand what Jesus taught we must drop our presuppositions and church traditions or denominational teachings and open our eyes and ears to what is actually being said in the Bible.  A word cannot mean one thing and its opposite at the same time.  It is true that words can change meaning over time and that context dictates the meaning of words.  I believe that for anyone to believe in eternal conscious torment in hell, one must see through a lens of doctrine that sees Jesus’ salvation as limited to only this life, limited to only a select few, where more are lost than are saved, and where God’s love and justness are held in opposition to one another, especially when listening to people make comments like, “God is love BUT He is also just.”  I believe if one comes to these texts of Jesus with the understanding of what the Hebrew word “olam” means (hidden, obscure, age), and the Greek words aion/aionios whose primary meaning is age, both these words having to do with time of some limited sort.

Because the Hebrew language has no word that means eternal or endless, they used repetition to exhibit long durations of time, such as olam of olams (age of ages) or olams of olams (ages of ages).  Though pagan cultures had the concept of eternal (unending, without beginning or ending), this teaching did not find its way into Jewish life until, as we see in the Apocryphal writings of the Intertestamental Period, those writers spoke of such things.  However, there is a reason that they are not regarded as inspired by God.  I believe this is one of the reasons that the concept of ECT was not believed by Jesus and the early believers.  It wasn’t until the time of Jesus when some Jewish groups began accepting this belief, but they were not mainstream and the teaching was not prevalent.  Think about it, if this doctrine of ECT was so important, and was truly the only place the unbeliever could go to after death, why wouldn’t Jesus and His apostles CLEARLY calling people at every turn to avoid hell and believe in God?  Why would they not have, in every recorded sermon and teaching by Jesus, Peter, Paul, Luke, James, John, Matthew,  Mark, the writer to the Hebrews, all of the teachers after Jesus, not been laser-focused on the terrors of hell (more like the Puritans were) and the grandeur of heaven in all they said and did, AND why don’t we have a record of that to show us the importance.

Biblically, hell is nothing more than a place of the unseen, a holding place for the dead, all of them.  Yarbrough’s concept of hell came from pagan society to keep the common person under the obedience of the ruler/governmental system that was in place.  In the early church days after the apostles, a system of governing the church was put in place that ended up hundreds of years later becoming what we know as the Roman Catholic Church.  This system of subservience, the threat of going to ECT, hell, if you did not follow and obey the church leaders was instituted and has been there ever since.

I do not believe in the annihilation of the soul.  I believe everyone will eventually be saved because that is what Jesus came to do, to seek and save the lost, to be a joy to the WHOLE world, not just some.  I believe God is love is the best description of all that He is, and that any other “attributes” we may use to describe God are all subsumed within “God is love.”  He cannot be loving at some points, but just at other points.  He is love, and because He is love, His justice is loving, merciful, gracious, etc.  I believe that the early believers right after Jesus all believed in universal judgment as well as universal salvation.  I believe the heresy foisted upon Christ’s Body, the Church, has not been universalism nor annihilationism, but eternal conscious torment in hell.

Sorry this has gotten longer than I anticipated, so I will end it here.  For more proof of my position, one website worth checking out, run by Gary Amirault, is :   Tentmaker Ministries

Soon I will put up links to other sites on my home page.  There you will be able to begin studying these things for yourself from a different perspective than you have held before.  Remember, it should always be about God’s truth, not our own.  We must follow God’s truth wherever it leads, and never apologize to any man for where that truth takes us.

Yours in Christ,

Craig

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Apology to Those I Have Taught

As I have been studying the Bible lately, and coming to the realization that I guess I always knew but was afraid to say, the translations we have today of the Bible are not inspired by God and therefore have, at times, many errors in them.  I believe God inspired the original writings of the original authors.  I believe those autographs are inerrant, and infallible, and sufficient for us.  And, through my studies lately, I have again come to remember that what we have today in the manuscript evidence is very trustworthy.  The discoveries of ancient texts is wonderful and confirms for us that there is still relevance for us today in pursuing God and what He wrote to those ancient believers, that we may learn some things about God ourselves.  However, we must remember several things.  First, we don’t have any inspired translations and EVERY translation has errors in it.  Every English translation you pick up will err in some fashion, and some are downright heretical!  Second, we must, as we study the Bible, be diligent in seeking to understand what God was saying, and at times this may  mean finding the errors in our translations, or questioning the things we find that seem to be contradictory or difficult or just plain strange.  We must not cling to our translations today as if they are inerrant and they are inspired.

Unfortunately, I have taught many people in the past that the Bibles we have today are so accurate, because we have such great manuscript support, that they are true (correct, without error) nearly without question.  Please forgive me for this false teaching and leading you into a wrong belief.  It is only when we understand this truth, that our English translations contain many translation errors in them, that we can begin to truly seek the truth from God and go forward in our faith.  Knowing that our translations are in error at points then frees us to not cling so tightly to the false traditions established by these errors and frees us to seek what I call the true truth, the real Holy Spirit revealed truth of the Scriptures we have today.  I pray God will forgive me for this sin and I pray that those of you I have taught will forgive me as well.  I hope to write about some of these errors in the future, that maybe I can undo what I have done in the past.  If you have some questions as to errors you think you have found, let me know so we can study them together.

Blessings to you and much love in Christ!

Craig

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Hell Under Fire Book Review – Jesus On Hell Chapter 3 Part 3

Hell Under Fire Book Review – Jesus On Hell Chapter 3 Part 3

(FYI – This is a 7 page article! Take your time and read sections at a time if it is too much all at once)

In this part I will take on what Yarbrough says about eternal, how Jesus used it or what Jesus meant when He used the term in relation to hell. Again, by hell, Yarbrough uses the term unending torment or punishment and I have previously defined it as a place of ECT, eternal conscious torment. These terms are all synonymous.

Let me reiterate a point that Yarbrough brings up toward the beginning of the chapter. He states, “We should be wary of the temptation of our era to dilute the Bible’s message about hell because it is currently acceptable, not only in society but increasingly even in the church, to pick and chose what one wishes to believe. We should be skeptical of arguments that overturn age-old understandings of Scripture on ultimately speculative grounds…If the historic doctrine of hell is to be set aside, it is most of all Jesus’ teachings that must be neutralized.”

Let me say a few things about this. First, Yarbrough sounds like the Roman Catholic Church of the early 1500’s in this statement. Johann Eck challenged Martin Luther when he asked, “Martin, how can you assume that you are the only one to understand the sense of Scripture? Would you put your judgment above that of so many famous men and claim that you know more than they all? (Here I Stand, by Roland Bainton, Abingdon Press, pg. 185) If the majority position had continued, we all would be a part of the Roman Catholic Church today! Luther was part of the minority of his time. I am seeking to bring reform to the church, a church which clings to its traditions so tightly that, I believe, it has lost touch with the true teachings of the Word. In that same book, page 185, Luther is quoted as saying, “Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason – I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other – my conscience is captive to the Word of God.”

Just as Bob Evely, former pastor of a Free Methodist Church in Kentucky and author has said above in the previous quote on Luther, he also said, “We need to understand that “orthodoxy” is not truth as compared with falsehood…it is simply the majority opinion, and it can be wrong. We cannot cling to a set of beliefs or interpretations simply because the majority that preceded us has worked thru these issues and developed what they have passed down to us as orthodoxy…the “majority opinion.”

In a recent writing, I basically addressed this issue: When in Scripture was the majority opinion correct? Were the Jewish leaders correct concerning God’s prophets (the minority view for sure!)? Were the Jewish leaders correct concerning the message Jesus and His followers were proclaiming? Or did they seek to kill them? Were the Jewish leaders correct when they clung to legalism and Paul was teaching freedom in Christ?

So I ask you the reader, don’t cast me off to the side just because I offend your long-held beliefs. Don’t write me off because, according to your theology, I am a universalist heretic. Come and reason with me, honestly, openly, and humbly. Don’t come trying to prove your point, but come trying to understand why I now believe what I believe, and I will do the same for you.

Well, let’s look at Chapter 3.

I have already discussed most of the passages Yarbrough cites as Jesus’ view on what “eternal” is. Yarbrough basically says that Jesus taught that hell is eternal, meaning without end. He also states that, “virtually everyone agrees that “eternal life” refers to unending blessedness in God’s presence…The blessed state of eternal life is logically opposite to the condemned state of eternal destruction. If salvation and conscious bliss are everlasting, so are perdition and conscious torment.”

In the subsection called “The Meaning of “Eternal” in Jesus’ Teaching,” Yarbrough gives a quote from Moses Stuart, who he claims as one of North America’s earliest Bible scholars, in 1830 put forth this understanding of the term “endless”: “There can, in the very nature of antithesis, be no room for rational doubt here, in what manner we should interpret the declarations of the sacred writers. WE MUST EITHER ADMIT THE ENDLESS MISERY OF HELL, OR GIVE UP THE ENDLESS HAPPINESS OF HEAVEN.” Yarbrough says, “In the debate over whether the punishment of hell will be everlasting, “this argument is often seen as conclusive,” referring to Stuart’s statement just quoted.

There are so many subsections in this chapter, but unfortunately they shed little light on the subject, from my perspective. I will make a couple comments about these sections and then move into a biblical understanding of the biblical terms that get translated into our English words “eternal, everlasting, forever and ever,” and others.

Echoes of Jesus’ Teaching Elsewhere in the NT – this is, from my perspective, a useless section that proves nothing. He quotes a bunch of verses showing that the apostles, Paul in particular taught the things Jesus taught. (1 Cor 11:23; Rom 15:19, 30; 1 Cor 2:10-14, 7:40; Eph 3:5; 1 Thes 1:5; 1 Tim 4:1) Then he makes the comment that other writers prove what Jesus taught, supposedly about hell, in the other writings of the NT. He says Jesus’ early followers teach nothing essentially different on this subject from their Master. I see no proof of this claim, that Paul taught eternal conscious torment in hell as Jesus supposedly did.

Foundations of Jesus’ Teaching – this section is useless as well. He claims that Jesus’ teaching concerning the afterlife continues from the OT. First off, Jesus is still teaching IN THE OT ERA. So, Jesus would have agreed with the OT writers on what they believed “olam” was (the Hebrew word that got mistranslated as eternal) and would have used the term in a way consistent with what His Jewish hearers would have understood. See my section on OLAM below. Second, he lists another bunch of verses claiming they prove that Jesus’ view of eternal life and death agrees with the OT, but none of these passages he offers has any support for these claims. (Matt 22:31; John 8:56, 5:46, 12:41; 5:39, 4:13, 14:2-3) Then he makes more statements saying “Christ’s teaching on hell, therefore, draws a persuasive force from its basis in the OT witness and not only from the scattered references to the actual word “hell” discussed above.”

So, not having gotten too far with his writing and proof of what Jesus taught, other than assumption that the party line is correct (a.k.a. The traditional/denominational understanding of the texts in question), I will move into what the Scriptures ACTUALLY say Jesus said or believed.

This text is one that Yarbrough uses to prove that Jesus taught eternal conscious torment in a place called hell.

Matt 25:46 “And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Though I will be discussing the biblical terms for eternal or everlasting in the next section, this text is probably the premier text that people gravitate towards to prove that Jesus taught hell is everlasting or eternal punishment or ECT. Since I have spent an inordinate amount of time studying and researching the three main terms rendered falsely “eternal, everlasting, forever, forever and ever, etc” I decided two things this week. One, I decided to post my search in the Hebrew Bible for “olam, olamim” from my Logos Bible software as a separate page on this blog entitled “Olam Passages.” There are many and as I go through them in more detail, I will add my understandings and findings. But, even now, you can read these verses, all with the exact same Hebrew word “olam” and see how differently this word has been translated. I challenge you to read these verses and find all the verses that show “olam” as a period of time with a beginning, or an ending, or both, and then decide whether the modern translations render this word properly. How often is the idea of endlessness (eternity) seen and does it truly fit in those verses or does the term age(s) fit better?

I did the same thing for the Greek Septuagint (LXX – The Seventy, which I will post soon as a separate page) which is the Greek Old Testament from around 250 BC and the Greek New Testament. You can see the Greek New Testament page of verses at the top of this page at Aion/Aionios Passages. The comparison with the ESV, which I used in the search for the Hebrew and Greek, is shown side-by-side.

I have been struggling with what to include and what would be TMI (too much information) for the reader. So, I ran across this synopsis from an article by Gary Amirault and I pasted it here as an insert. This proof nullifies Moses Stuarts’ quote from above that Yarbrough included in this chapter. It also condenses the information on the Greek word aion/aionios that Jesus used.

Matthew 25:46 Commentary – By Gary Amirault

Does Eternal Punishment have to be as long as Eternal life because the adjective “aionios” is used to describe both punishment and life?

(A short synopsis of this article: The following article proves that “everlasting punishment” in Matthew 25:46 is a MIStranslation in many of the current leading selling English Bible translations including the King James Version, New International Standard Version, New American Standard Version, New Revised Standard Version, the Amplified Bible, The Net Bible, New Century Version, New Living Translation, International Standard Version, English Standard Version as well as many others. There are several translations, however, some of which are listed at the end of this article, which do NOT make this mistake. This correction is crucial in regards to having a proper understanding of the nature and character of God and His role as judge. Just because “aionios” is used to describe life and punishment, does not mean they have to be of the same length and quality any more than a “small” house has to be the same size as a “small” ring because the same adjective is used to describe both. Often adjectives take on some of the value of the word they describe. Therefore, “kolasin aionion” (mistranslated “everlasting punishment”) does not have to be the same length as “zoen aionion” (mistranslated “eternal life”). Aionion should not have been translated “everlasting” because aion and its adjective are clearly time words that have beginnings and endings. And “punishment” for the Greek “kolasin” is too strong a word. Kolasin means “to prune a tree to make it more fruitful.” There is nothing fruitful about eternal damnation in burning flames. If Jesus wanted to imply vindictive punishment, the author of Matthew could have chosen the Greek word “timoria,” but he didn’t – he used a much softer word. Furthermore, Matthew 25:46 does not speak of individual salvation based upon faith in Christ, it speaks of separation of nations based upon how they treated Jesus. And lastly, the context seems to indicate the judgments would be upon the religious leadership of Israel and those who considered themselves righteous, not street sinners, low-life Jews and/or adherents to other religious systems, that is, the Gentiles.)

The whole article can be read here: http://www.tentmaker.org/articles/Matthew-25-46-Commentary-Amirault.html

I am including this section for this reason:  Yarbrough brings up the fact that what Jesus taught was what the OT authors taught and He used the term for eternal in the same way.  I was only going to include Gospel information since this is really what the chapter covered (Jesus on Hell).  This information will either support or refute Yarbrough’s claim.  I’ll let you judge for yourself and keep my opinion, for now, to myself.

OLAM – Hebrew Old Testament word translated eternal, etc.

And, concerning the Hebrew word “olam” I offer this excerpt from GT Stevens’ book, Time and Eternity. After reading this book three times, and digesting what he says, I decided to include this information. He gives a very technical reasoning that may be laborious for many. I know I had to read this information slowly and carefully. However, the value of what he writes is invaluable. Please pardon the length and hang in there. It is worth the read!

(Begin GT Stevens’ excerpt)

Biblical Terms Translated Into English as Eternal, Everlasting, Forever and Ever, etc.

Actually there is no scriptural example of eternity and no direct reference to the concept in terms such as ‘I shall tell you about eternity’ or ‘Eternity is like this or that’. This does not mean that the idea of future duration unending is absent; but just as in English it appears to be impossible unequivocally to express the notion of ‘eternal’ and ‘eternity’ (Latin terms for which Greek does not seem to have had exact equivalents), except by negatives, not end (Luke 1:33), immortality and incorruption (I Cor.15:53,54), indissoluble (Heb.7:16).

Whether the adjective ‘aionios’, derived from ‘aion’ an age or period of time, may ever rightly be rendered ‘eternal’ will be discussed in relation to its usage and contexts. A century ago, in the study of words, great importance was attached to etymology, that is to accounts of their origins. It seems obvious that, while this may be a useful staring point, it is not at all decisive for determining meaning in later contexts, and in fact one may gain a thoroughly sound grasp of the significance of a word without any knowledge at all of its origin or history, provided it is examined in enough meaningful occurrences and contexts, hence the emphasis on concordance and context in these studies.

Using the concordance of all the 448 occurrences of the Hebrew words OLAM (sing) and OLAMIM (plur.) and paying careful attention to the context in each case, the writer classified these examples into three groups:-

(a) cases where by context the period indicated by olam was limited at both its beginning and its end.

(b) passages where the periods have a known beginning but obscure end.

(c) those examples were olam, its repetition (from olam and to olam), or the plural olamim, have been regarded by some writers as indicating duration without beginning or ending and hence thought to mean ‘eternal’.

Some attention must now be given to the matter of terminology and precise definitions. Much confusion has arisen from the common practice of treating ‘eternal’ and ‘everlasting’ as synonyms, no indication being given as to whether everlasting is meant to cover duration without beginning or end, or a period having a beginning in time but no ending, or one whose ending, if any, is so remote as to be lost in obscurity. When people speak of a believer in Christ having everlasting life, do they mean life without beginning or end, or having a beginning but no ending, or a quality or mode of life to which beginning and ending or even time itself have no application?

However a few remarks respecting the derivation of the Hebrew word ‘olam’ are included here. This noun is derived from the verb ‘alam’, universally accepted as meaning ‘to hide’, ‘keep secret’, or ‘obscure’. Included in each occurrence of the verb is the idea of hidden-ness of inability or unwillingness to perceive or disclose something. This underlying idea is probably best expressed in English by the term ‘obscurity’.

In keeping with this basic concept there occurs in Hebrew the noun ‘almah’, (derived from alam) a young woman or virgin (Gen.24:43, Ex:2:8, Psa.68:25, Pro.30:19, Song.1:3, 6:8, Isa. 7:14) for whom Jewish modesty enjoined concealment of her feminine charms.

Bearing these facts in mind, we may readily anticipate that when olam is applied to time, some element of concealment, obscurity, or indefiniteness will be present. One need read only a few of the four hundred plus occurrences to realize that this is so.

The first time we meet the term is in Genesis 3:22 ‘Lest they take of thee the tree of life and live le-olam’.

Commonly, uncritical thinking employs the English phrase ‘for ever’, but this cannot mean ‘eternal life’, since (a) it had (or would have had) a beginning in time, either at the creation, or hypothetically at the eating of the fruit (whatever we may take that to mean); and (b) its duration is unspecified. The most one can assuredly draw from the text is that the life would last for some indefinite period, no specific end being stated. Both its nature and duration are hidden in obscurity, hence ‘olam’ seems as appropriate word to use in such a context.

Jonah’s case is important. In Jonah 2:6 olam is used to denote the time of his sojourn in the interior of the great fish. Shut away in complete darkness, he would have no means of judging the passing of time, which along with most other percepts, would be quite ‘obscure’. In his case olam represents but thee days, but the idea of obscurity is obvious.

Olam Limited In Time

Gen 6:4; Gen 13:15; Gen 49:26

Exo 21:6; Deut 15:17; Lev 25:46; Num 10:8; Deut 32:7; Josh 4:7; : Josh 8:28; 1 Sam 1:22; 1 Chr 23:25; Ezra 4:15, 19; Neh 13:1; Deu 23:3; Job 22:15; Job 41:4; Psa 21:4; Psa 24; 2 Sam 6:12-19; Prov 22:28; Prov 23:10; Ecc 1:10; Ecc 2:16; Isa 42:14; Isa 58:12; Jer 5:15; Jer 6:6; Lam 3:6; Eze 25:15; Eze 35:5; Eze 36:2; Joel 2:2; Amos 9:11; Mic 5:2; Mic 7:14; Mal 3:4; Dan 9:24

Grouped by “for all one’s lifetime”

Psa 78:66, 79:13, 86:12, 89:1, 110:4, 112:6, 115:18

While the occasion or need exists

Psa 89:2, 100:5, 106:1, 107:1, 118:1-4

The question may now be asked, ‘What do the above passages, covering all the O.T. writings, suggest about the most common meaning of olam?’ In the case quoted, and these are representative of the great majority of occurrences, olam certainly refers to periods of time, which when considered contextually cannot possibly be rightly rendered ‘for ever’, or ‘everlasting’, much less ‘eternal’; and these words should be eliminated from English translations of all the passages in which olam is bounded by contexts.

Olam, Olamim (singular, plural)

should we use ‘for ever’, ‘everlasting’ or ‘eternal’ to translate ‘olamim’?

Are there better alternatives?

Some texts: 1 Kings 8:13; 2 Chr 6:2; Psa 61:4; Psa 77:5, 7; Psa 145:13; Isa 26:4; Isa 45:17; Isa 51:9; Ecc 1:10; Dan 9:24

It can now be claimed, with considerable assurance, that the above examination of all the ‘olamim’ passages indicates that the questions posed earlier should be answered thus.

(a) All the texts containing ‘olamim’ can be logically translated and interpreted without any reference to eternity at all.

(b) The introduction of concepts of endless time or timelessness leads to incongruities in almost every case.

(c) The view that ‘olamim’ is a normal plural signifying extensive periods of time, often obscure as to dating either of inauguration, or ending, or both, provides meaningful renderings consistently throughout, and consonant with the context, in every case.

Olam Repeated

Some texts: Jer 7:7; Jer 25:5; Dan 7:18Psa 90:2

The very use of ‘min’, (from) and ‘ad’ (to) demands a distinguishable difference between two entities. In respect to time (as of course to space) one may speak of passing ‘to’ and ‘from’ a single entity (to-X-from); but to go ‘from’ one point or period ‘to’ another logically requires two entities (from X to Y). Of course if we are talking about eternity itself then ‘from’ and ‘to’ can have no meaning at all.

Therefore the form of the phrase ‘from the olam and to the olam’ demands the concepts of separate periods and proves that the idea of periods of some sort expressed by olam had developed.

In Jer.7:7 and in 25:5, the Jews are urged to mend their ways that ‘I may cause you to dwell in the land which I gave to your fathers ‘from olam to olam’. One Jer.7:7 Rotherham comments,

‘From times long past even unto times long to come. Scarcely from everlasting to everlasting’.

We might add, certainly not ‘from all eternity to all eternity’. Both the promise of the land and its occupancy had a beginning in history, so cannot be eternal, but are terrestrial in location and scope. There must be an element of devious eisegesis in introducing either ‘everlasting’ or ‘eternal’ into these two passages.

The form of this composite phrase is unique in the O.T. There are no other identical formulae for comparison. the following comments are offered as likely pointers to its original meaning.

(a) The repetition of ‘olam’ suggests that this term did not of itself represent unlimited duration, otherwise the first ‘olam’ would have covered all time.

(b) The whole context is oriented to a future period, which had then not even begun.

(c) In the one phrase we have both singular (olam) and plural (olamim). A plural eternity is by definition an impossibility, so the terms must refer to some periods of time.

(d) ‘Remotest time’ is more plausible; but ‘remotest time and remotest time of remotest times is self contradictory.

(e) To a remote time even a remote time of remote times would conform to Hebrew idiom making the second phrase a normal Hebraic polytotonic superlative. (Compare King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Holy of holies, Song of songs, etc.)

(f) Presently evidence will be advanced to show that at least by the time of the writing of the book of Daniel, late by any theory of dating, the concept of an age, and of ‘periods’ of time had developed. If this be accepted, the text may then be translated ‘to (or for?) an age, even an age of ages’. By treating ‘an age of ages’ as a normal Hebraic superlative we get, “the saints…shall possess the kingdom unto (perhaps, for) an age even (the best) age of ages’.

Definite Article Used With Olam and Olamim

The synoptic lists above suggest that the development of the use of ‘olam’ in the sense of a period of time similar to that covered by ‘aion’ and accompanied by the use of the plural ‘olamim’ arose during the existence of Israel as a united nation somewhere about 1000 B.C.

Olam as Eternal

The following passages have been chosen for examination in this chapter because at first glance it may appear that in them ‘olam’ could represent a concept of eternity in the mind of the biblical author. The question to be asked is, ‘Do these verses demonstrate that their writers had that concept, and expressed it by ‘olam’?

Gen 21:33; Exo 3:13-15; Deut 32:40; Deut 33:27; Psa 45:6; Isa 40:27-28; Isa 41:4; Isa 48:12

The dozen or so litugic repetitions of ‘His mercy endureth le olam’. (I Chron.16:34,36.41; II Chron. 5:13, 7:3,6; 20:21) and in the psalms provide little support for using ‘eternal’ to translate olam. Mercy relates to sinful humans. No one supposes such folk to have existed eternally. God’s mercy operates in human need. The liturgy would recognize its availability at all times – perhaps conditioned by repentance and faith.

Conclusions

It is fitting now to set out the conclusions which may be drawn from the material in the preceding pages.

(a) Eternity, without beginning or ending is never mentioned as such in the ‘olam’ passages of the O.T., nor so far as we can discover, is there any statement from which convincing evidence can be obtained in relation to ‘olam’, to show that the concept of infinite future duration existed among Hebrew writers in O.T. times. Hence the words ‘eternal’ and ‘everlasting’ should not be used to translate the ‘olam’ terms.

(b) In books now usually regarded as late (I Chronicles, Nehemiah, Ecclesiastes and possibly late Psalms 41,48,106,133) the occurrence of ‘the olam’ suggests the emergence of some idea of an ‘age’. This is supported by the use of the plural in books of the same period (II Chron., Ecclesiastes, Isaiah, Daniel, Psalms 61,77,145, and in I Kings 8:13). But there is no indication of any view of boundaries of any sort pertaining to age or period such as say, form creation to the flood, or the like. This of course corresponds to our usage also; the stone age, the age of steam, the dark ages, and other such expressions are never precisely dated.

(c) The element of hidden-ness, indefiniteness as to duration, and of obscurity pervades the whole range of ‘olam’ terms throughout. Even in cases where the meaning is clearly for the rest of one’s life, ‘a slave olam’, or a limited period such as Jonah’s three days, because of the imprecision respecting the length of the period (in Jonah’s case the impossibility of his assessing the time), the sense of obscurity is still present. This highlights the difficulty of transferring nuances from one language to another particularly from Oriental to Western. The contexts require the use of terms such as – ‘any more’, ‘always’, ‘remote or obscure times’, ‘long past’, and ‘far future’. Sometimes ‘everlasting’, if understood as futuristic only, may be considered, but only if the ‘ever’ is regarded as equivalent to ‘long time future to the point of obscurity’, and even then ‘remote or obscure future’ would be more accurate as a rendering for ‘olam’.

‘Age abiding’ (Rotherham) and ‘age-during’ (Young), while more appropriate than ‘eternal’, or ‘for ever’ are too suggestive of a concept of time composed of , or divided into recognized ‘ages’, an idea which probably was merging in post exilic Hebrew thought but of which there is no sure evidence (elsewhere) in the O.T. However by N.T. times the idea of several ages had become explicit in Rabbinic thought (see Chapter 10) and formed an important element in the doctrines taught by our Lord and the apostolic writers.

(End of GT Stevenson excerpt)

My down and dirty assessment of Yarbrough’s chapter:  He follows the traditional teachings to a tee and gives the usual arguments but adds little understanding to “why” anyone should believe what he writes about what Jesus believed and taught about hell.  The terms olam (Hebrew) and aion/aionios (Greek) all relate to an age, a period of time and therefore cannot refer to eternal as we know it (without beginning or ending).  It is unfortunate that he did not address the definition of these terms nor meaningfully address the opposition view.

Thanks for bearing with me in this long post. I will put together a conclusion to the chapter and summarize what was said and my contrasts/beliefs about what the Bible states. I hope the conclusion will clarify what was said here and take some of the scattered-ness away (pull it together cohesively!). I will also begin posting some links to information that you can begin checking out for yourself. Godspeed to you!

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Filed under Book Reviews, Everlasting - Eternal, Hell

Romans 5:12-21 A Very Simple Text

For so many scholars, this text becomes a goldmine of doctrinal difficulties that I only imagine helps preserve their positions in Christendom (whether as pastor, theologian at seminary, writer, etc.).  There is nothing quite like a text such as this to keep books flying out of the printer’s presses to explain to Christians what exactly it is that Paul is saying.  My question this time around is, “Is this text in fact so difficult that we need someone to explain it to us?”  Secondly, without the use of technical commentaries, dictionaries, sermons, Greek word studies, etc., can we come to an understanding of Paul that brings glory to God and gives us hope?  I could add so many more questions alongside these, but I think these few will serve my purpose.

I am going to offer my basic explanation of this text (which I grant will not be perfect nor in-depth or as explanatory like many of you may require) and then give a brief rendering of the text by a leading apologist, theologian, seminary professor, and prolific Christian writer.  I ask that you compare and contrast the two and decide for yourself which reading (explanation of the text) fits the text the best.  Send your comments and maybe, if you would, an explanation of why you chose the reading you chose.  Help all the readers here to learn from your wisdom or challenge your conclusions that we may sharpen one another.

My Reading

(Rom 5:12)  Therefore, as sin entered into the world through one man, and death through sin; and so death passed to all men, because all sinned.
Because Adam disobeyed God (sinned), death came into the world.  This is both physical death and spiritual death, though we can’t get that from this text.  Because of Adam’s sin, all people after Adam who are born will eventually die (physically and are already dead spiritually).  And, we all die because we all sin.

(Rom 5:13)  For until the law, sin was in the world; but sin is not charged when there is no law.
The law here I believe is the Mosaic Law.  So, before Moses received the Law, sin was in the world but was not charged to people.

(Rom 5:14)  Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those whose sins weren’t like Adam’s disobedience, who is a foreshadowing of him who was to come.
People died between the time of Adam and Moses, even though they didn’t sin like Adam did (maybe directly disobeying God by eating of the tree?).  Adam was a type of Christ.

(Rom 5:15)  But the free gift isn’t like the trespass. For if by the trespass of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God, and the gift by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many.
There is a difference between the free gift, (salvation) and sin.  Through Adam’s sin the many (all people born after Adam, but not including Adam) died.  But salvation is a greater “gift” than the “gift” of death and sin because salvation comes as a gift of grace from God through the one man Jesus Christ.  This gift abounded to the many (the same many as previously spoken of, all mankind born after Adam)

(Rom 5:16)  The gift is not as through one who sinned: for the judgment came by one to condemnation, but the free gift came of many trespasses to justification.

(Rom 5:17)  For if by the trespass of the one, death reigned through the one; so much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one, Jesus Christ.
The gift of salvation doesn’t come through Adam or his sin.  Condemnation came through Adam’s “gift.” Out of the  many sins of the many the free gift of justification came.  Because, if by Adam’s sin death reigned, how much greater it is for those receiving the grace of salvation because of Jesus’ sacrificial death.  They will reign in life with Him.

(Rom 5:18)  So then as through one trespass, all men were condemned; even so through one act of righteousness, all men were justified to life.
Through Adam’s sin all men were condemned; through Jesus’ death on the cross in their place all men are justified, saved.  Through one thing (sin), all are condemned.  When Paul talks about the thing (sin) he includes all men in that “thing”, which includes Adam.  In the next verse when Paul talks about the person who caused that thing, he separates that person (Adam) from all the rest, the many, who became affected by his sin.

(Rom 5:19)  For as through the one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the one, many will be made righteous.
Through Adam’s disobedience to God (in the Garden) many (all people after Adam, not including Adam) became sinners, even so through the obedience of Jesus (to the Father in everything, including sacrificing Himself) many (all people after Adam, but not including Adam) will be saved.

(Rom 5:20)  The law came in besides, that the trespass might abound; but where sin abounded, grace abounded more exceedingly;
The law was given to Moses to show what sin is and that no one could keep the law.  Why?  Because where sin abounded, where people became aware that they were sinning, God’s grace abounded even more than their sin!  Though God’s image bearers sinned more and more, God’s grace abounded more and more.  This shows forth His abounding love for mankind.

(Rom 5:21)  that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to aionian [481] life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
And, as sin reigned in death, as sin had its life in death, even so God’s grace reigns through righteousness in life through this age.  We will no longer need God’s grace after this age since we will be with Him and will no longer be in sin.  We will be made perfect in Christ after this age and will have no need for grace.

Main Point of the passage:  Because Adam sinned, all the rest of mankind since Adam receive death.  They die physically and are dead spiritually, because they are all sinners.  Thankfully through Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross, all people are justified and thereby saved from death.  This salvation may take place in this life or after physical death, but it will take place.  The parallelism is all die, all made alive; many die, many made alive.   One group, all, is Adam plus the many, the other group, the many, refers to all those after Adam.

Noted Apologist, theologian, seminary professor, prolific Christian writer:

Intro:  This is a tough text, a very tough text.  It is tough partly because so many go through it word by word and phrase by phrase and they miss the overarching meaning of the text.  People have problems with the text because they focus on verse 12 and don’t take into account verses 18-21.  Through my experience, as limited as it is, going on three decades now (I got the sense of sarcasm here),  the only way to see the text of verses 12-21 is to see that Paul is talking about two humanities here.  If you don’t see the two humanities here, you will miss the whole point.  The two humanities Paul talks about are the humanities IN ADAM and IN CHRIST.  Paul talks about those here who are IN ADAM and those who are IN CHRIST.  If you don’t see that, you will be forced by the very grammar of verse 18 into universalism (my note: that in the end of the ages, God will reconcile ALL people to Himself and every knee will bow and tongue confess Jesus).

If you see it, you will see that what is received from being IN ADAM is less than what you receive from being IN CHRIST.  The gift is far bigger and better, the gift of being IN CHRIST rather than being IN ADAM.  If you see it you’ll understand one is not like the other.  Certainly they overlap but they are not contiguous (synonyms: connected, adjoining) here.

(Rom 5:12)  Therefore, as sin entered into the world through one man, and death through sin; and so death passed to all men, because all sinned.
(Rom 5:13)  For until the law, sin was in the world; but sin is not charged when there is no law.
(Rom 5:14)  Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those whose sins weren’t like Adam’s disobedience, who is a foreshadowing of him who was to come.
(Rom 5:15)  But the free gift isn’t like the trespass. For if by the trespass of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God, and the gift by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many.
One man sinned and death spread to all because all sinned in Adam. Notice in vs.13 that no sin was charged until the Law came, the Mosaic law.  People died before the law.  Adam cannot give spiritual life because all people die IN ADAM.  This is not an equals issue.  This is not an issue of equal ultimacy.  Salvation and damnation are not two sides of the same coin.  The free gift is not like the trespass.  One act of righteousness leads to all men IN CHRIST.  Paul is talking about all people IN ADAM die, but ALL people IN CHRIST will live.  Which man are you in?  All men are IN ADAM but not all men are IN CHRIST.

The grace of God and the grace of Christ are the same thing.  The giving of grace is an extension of God’s grace.  Condemnation does not require God’s power, it happens automatically.  Condemnation was not only for Adam but for the many (apparently meaning ALL mankind).

(Rom 5:16)  The gift is not as through one who sinned: for the judgment came by one to condemnation, but the free gift came of many trespasses to justification.
The many receive justification.  Death reigned over people and Paul is talking about two humanities here.  The one group receives condemnation automatically, those IN ADAM, but the different group seen here, the second humanity are those IN CHRIST who receive salvation.  One group is a subgroup of the other.  One group is smaller than the other.  The saved are a subgroup of the larger group, IN ADAM, and are therefore smaller.  All those IN ADAM are not the same as those who are IN CHRIST.  (at this point the apologist has not explained the terms “all” and “many” nor the parallelism found here)
(Rom 5:17)  For if by the trespass of the one, death reigned through the one; so much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one, Jesus Christ.
If we are placed IN CHRIST we have the gracious gift of life and justification.  The ultimate authority over those who are IN ADAM is death, because death reigns.  You have to see the two humanities here.  But, the free gift of righteousness reigns over those who are IN CHRIST.
(Rom 5:18)  So then as through one trespass, all men were condemned; even so through one act of righteousness, all men were justified to life.
We must read verse 18 in light of verse 12, other wise you will be merely following after your own traditions.  One trespass led to condemnation of all men, all those who are IN ADAM.  Then, one act of righteousness leads to justification for all men who are IN CHRIST.  If you just pull things out of context you can make these texts here proof-texts for almost anything.  The focus is on what they did (Apparently what Adam did and what Christ did).
(Rom 5:19)  For as through the one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the one, many will be made righteous.
(Rom 5:20)  The law came in besides, that the trespass might abound; but where sin abounded, grace abounded more exceedingly;
(Rom 5:21)  that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to aionian [481] life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Through Adam’s disobedience the many were made sinners and conversely by one man’s (Christ) obedience the many will be made righteous.  This blows away synergism (that God works and man works in the salvation of people, God makes salvation possible and man chooses to believe in God).  We are uncomfortable explaining what Paul is saying here.  We can only get from Adam what he has to give and we get from Christ we he has to give.

There is the proper interpretation of the text.  Most focus on verse 12, not verse 19.  Can you be a good Christian if you don’t understand this text?  Yes.  But, any sub-biblical belief will limit our glorifying God.  We must grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus and be consistent in our beliefs.  The difference between belief and ignorance because of our traditions is the difference between knowing God’s Word and then willfully not following it.

My Thoughts:

Several things struck me as I heard this explanation of Romans 5:12-21 from this man.  First, he prefaced the whole teaching by, I believe, poisoning the well.  He made the statement that if you do not see the two humanities (I will say HIS understanding of the text) then you CANNOT understand the text at all.  In other words, if you do not separate the groups of people Paul is talking about here into the larger group, ALL MEN IN ADAM, and the sub-group, the smaller group, ALL MEN IN CHRIST, then you cannot understand the text.  You will be basically following your own tradition and will misinterpret Paul here.  I think this is a pretty bold way of saying, “My way is the only way, my interpretation is the correct interpretation, and all others are invalid.”  The poison is that he puts into the minds of the hearers that any interpretation other than his is sub-biblical.  For those who are not “as learned” as he, they must come to understand his explanation.

Now, to be fair, he did say that he was not going to go into depth, meaning a word for word, phrase by phrase study of the text.  Maybe if he had, we all would understand more fully why he comes to the conclusions he does.  But, maybe not.  Maybe he would explain to us all what Paul’s reason for using the terms “all” and “many” in parallel, when he really should have not drawn a parallel between them.  Maybe he would explain how “all” only means a sub-group of a larger group, even though Paul does not say this.  Maybe he would explain why Paul never used the terms, “IN ADAM” or “IN CHRIST” in this whole passage.

I capitalized the terms IN ADAM and IN CHRIST on purpose.  I stipulated it this way to continuously show you that these artificial groups are key to the apologist’s rendering of the text.  Nowhere are these terms used here.  Paul merely talks about the same group of people, one group of people, throughout this whole passage.  The one group is all mankind.  He shows that all mankind is, from the outset, under the curse of death and sin because of Adam.  And then the same group is talked about concerning Christ’s sacrifice, in relation to His sacrifice, which is ALL MEN ARE justified.  As I stated earlier, Paul talks about “all mankind” which includes Adam, and “the many” which refers to “all mankind except Adam.”  I explained that under verse 18 above.

What I see here, to wrap things up, is how even the best and most “knowledgeable” Christians can miss the point of the text.  I think that theologians, et al. have made this text hard to understand.  I think all the rabble about federal headship etc. (Are Adams’ sins our sins, or do we become sinners when we sin, etc.) is just that.  Does the average believer have a hard time understanding that in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive?  I have been invested in theological systems in the past that enslaved me to a certain perspective and “poisoned my well” of thinking against any other interpretations.  This has led to more arguments and estrangement from other believers that it has destroyed the unity that Paul says we are to have IN CHRIST!  My perspective on this is that this brother in Christ has fallen prey to the very thing he decries, traditionalism coloring his view of scripture.  If we must hold advanced degrees from schools of higher learning to understand the plain texts of Scripture, then I think  we have lost sight of God and are in danger of worshiping the idol of scholasticism rather than THE ONE who bids the little children to come to Him.

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Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated

Paul quotes Malachi 1:2-3 in Romans 9:13 where he says, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”  This is a famous passage that many hold up as the decisive passage regarding God’s election of some, but not all people.  This passage is also used to show that God does not love all of His creation, those created in His image.  Sometimes we start quoting Scripture and following our study Bibles to the direct quotes (NT use of the OT) in the OT.  But often, we fail to see if the OT is quoting or referring back to older passages, earlier history in the OT era.

For instance, this passage in Romans 9:13.  Most of the time we will only go back as far as the direct quote from Malachi 1:2-3.  But, lest we lose a major part of the story, and end up using scripture as proof-texts, the original story is found in Genesis.  Genesis 25 tells the whole story of Esau selling his inheritance or birthright to Jacob.  It tells of how Jacob deceived Esau into giving it up.  And because of these actions, we feel justified in also hating Esau and loving Jacob, though being a bit wary in our love for Jacob because of his deception.  However, what we often forget to remember is the eventual outcome of the story between Jacob and Esau.

In Genesis 33 we read the following:

(Gen 33:4)  But Esau ran to meet him and embraced him and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept.

(Gen 33:10)  Jacob said, “No, please, if I have found favor in your sight, then accept my present from my hand. For I have seen your face, which is like seeing the face of God, and you have accepted me.

Jacob, looking at his brother, says that looking at him is like looking at God!  Is this the same man we love to hate?  Is this the same man that God hates?  Is this the same man that we believe God has totally rejected and consigned to eternal conscious torment in hell, even before he was born?  How could Jacob say this?  Is not Jacob standing in direct opposition to God’s will?  Is Jacob showing more compassion than God?  Or is Jacob now in jeopardy of God’s wrath too?

I believe in this story we see a perfect picture of God’s reconciliation to His people, to all mankind.  In Jacob, I think, we see God’s boundless mercy and abundant grace!  I believe we see a picture of not only how God acts because of His nature (love), but also an example of how we are to act as well.    How do you reconcile Genesis 33:4-10 with  Malachi 1:2-3 and Paul’s quote in Romans 9:13?  Think outside your traditional box and send your comments in.

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