Part 2 of 3: Eternal Torment, Annilhilation, or the Universal Salvation of All Humanity?

Written By Thomas Perez. July 17, 2013 at 8:55PM. Copyright 2013.

As promised in Part 2 concerning the topic of Hell, fire, damnation, reconciliation/universal salvation – as in ALL will be saved eventually in their own time, I have attempted to reconcile the passages of Scripture given in the previous article (Part 1). Part 2 deals with interpretations, expositions, and an exegesis – this will also be done in Part 3. Again, as previously stated before, I have done this in order to harmonize Scripture. It is my attempt (such as it is) to reconcile them.

1. Warnings and Declarations

Psalms 5:5 “The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity”.

Psalms 9:17 “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God”.

Psalms 11:5 “The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth”.

Obadiah 1:15-16 “For the day of the LORD is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head. For as ye have drunk upon my holy mountain, so shall all the heathen drink continually, yea, they shall drink, and they shall swallow down, and they shall be as though they had not been”.

Scripture Reconciled  

The book of Obadiah was written circa – 6th cent. 585 – ? Some scholars date the book very early, in the mid-ninth cent B.C. following raids by the Philistines and Arabian tribes during the period of king Jehoram of Judah (II Chron 21:16, 17). This would make the book of Obadiah the earliest of the prophetic books. However, most scholars date the book immediately following the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. I tend to favor the latter, due to the books theme against the Edomites and their eventual destruction. Their destruction is confirmed in the Lord‘s indignation forever in (Mal 1:1-4). However, while this is true and certain, I can not help but remember seemingly contradictory passages of Scripture that declare the opposite of such indignation. Such passages of Scripture are found, but are not limited to:

Ps 22:27-30 All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations will worship before Thee. For the kingdom is the Lord’s, and He rules over the nations. All the proud [literally, “fat ones”] of the earth will eat and worship, even he who cannot keep his soul alive. Posterity will serve Him.

Isa 19:21 Thus the Lord will make Himself known to Egypt [they were enemies of God at the time], and the Egyptians will know the Lord in that day. They will even worship with sacrifice and offering, and will make a vow to the Lord and perform it.

Isa 19:22 And the Lord will strike Egypt, striking but healing; so they will return to the Lord, and He will respond to them and will heal them.

Hag 2:6-9 For thus says the Lord of hosts, “Once more in a little while, I am going to shake the heavens and the earth, the sea also and the dry land. And I will shake all the nations; and they will come [or, the Desire of all nations will come] with the wealth of the nations; and I will fill this house with glory,” says the Lord of hosts. “The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,” declares the Lord of hosts. “The latter glory of this house will be greater than the former,” says the Lord of hosts, “and in this place I shall give peace,” declares the Lord of hosts.

Zeph 3:8-9 Indeed, My decision is to gather nations, to assemble kingdoms, to pour out on them My indignation, all My burning anger; for all the earth will be devoured by the fire of My zeal. For then I will give to the peoples purified lips, that all of them may call on the name of the Lord, to serve Him shoulder to shoulder.

The speech is similar to when Jesus declared “O, generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?”- Matt 3:7. John Baptist addresses this language to the Scribes and Pharisees. By “wrath to come” he meant the approaching desolation of the Hebrew nation. Bishop Pearce says, “the punishment to come came in the destruction of the Jewish state” Even more so, its priesthood. Kenrick, “the impending punishment in the destruction of the Jewish state;” Dr. Clarke, “The desolation which was about to fall on the Jewish nation.”

But the same words may be applied to the consequences of any sinful career, whether of an individual or of a nation. The wrath to come is awaiting, not in endless hell, but here, in this world and in a future temporal punitive punishment by fire.

Moreover,  separation and holiness are essential key elements to a holy walk with God, separation does not impute holiness or promote inequality. For Paul saith himself that he is the chief of sinners and upon this, confesses his own duality within himself as declaring his own imperfection (I Tim 1:15, Rom 7:15-24). For holiness is not achieved by separation but by the merits of Christ and Christ alone. We must also make note of Paul’s use of the words “Born out of due time” in I Cor 15:8. For he was chosen in this age to proclaim the Gospel to the heathen. To be born out of time or in any time in this present age is to be called a child of God as John 1:12-13 reveals, sealing us with the Spirit that cries Father/Abba.

This relationship as Father and son or child of God can not be intended for our use only to the ages upon ages to come, for such an assumption would negate Malachi 2:10 “Do we not all have one Father? Has not one God created us?” For God is not a respecter of persons. (Rom 2:11). He will show equity as recorded in, Psa 9:7-8 “But the Lord abides forever; He has established His throne for judgment, and He will judge the world in righteousness; He will execute judgment for [not against] the peoples with equity.”

I Corinthians 5:5 “To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”  

2. Furnace of Fire/Gnashing of Teeth

Matthew 12:24-36…”the one shall be taken, and the other left”…”And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth”.

There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.- Cr; Luke 13:28.

Matthew 13:41- 42…”The Son of Man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire; there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” Verse 50: “And shall cast them into the furnace of fire; there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”

Scripture Reconciled  

The phrase “furnace of fire,” occurs in these passages in the old Testament: Deut 4:20 “But the Lord hath taken you, and brought you forth out of the iron furnace, even out of Egypt.” I Kings 8:51 “For they be thy people, and thine inheritance which thou broughtest forth out of Egypt, from the midst of the furnace of iron.” Jere. 11:4 “Which I commanded your fathers in the day that I brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, from the iron furnace.” Isa 31:9 “Saith the Lord, whose fire is in Zion, and his furnace in Jerusalem.” Isa 48:10 “Behold I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.” Ezek 22:18-20 “Son of man, the house of Israel is to me become dross: all they are brass, and tin, and iron, and lead, in the midst of the furnace; they are even the dross of silver. Therefore thus saith the Lord God: Because ye are all become dross, behold, therefore, I will gather you into the midst of Jerusalem. As they gather silver, and brass, and iron, and lead, and tin, into the midst of the furnace, to blow the fire upon it, to melt it, so will I gather you in mine anger and in my fury, and I will leave you there, and melt you.”

The Savior had this usage in his mind, and conveyed the same thought, namely, the approaching woes on his country and race in the only places where we find the same language in the New Testament. It is nowhere said that God has a furnace in eternity, in which to burn souls. His furnace was in Jerusalem, Isa 31:9. At the end of that age, (aion) Jesus said: “The Son of Man shall send forth his angels (messengers), and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire; there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”

This was fulfilled when Jerusalem was destroyed. Or it may be that of temporal punishments to come, depending on your eschatological viewpoint. The “Kingdom of God” is the reign of Christ, a spiritual realm of truth and goodness and consequent happiness. It was “at hand” when Christianity was first announced – Matt 3:2. It is “not of this world,” – John 18:36. It came to the people when Jesus spoke – Matt 12: 28, and men pressed into it, Luke 16:16. It was taken from the Jews and given to the Gentiles – Matt 21:43, and Jesus declared:

“And many shall come from the east and the west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven, but the “children of the kingdom, the Jews, shall be cast out into darkness, where there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”- Matt 8:11.

This was when the Saviour’s prophecy was fulfilled. Luke 13:34-35 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not? Behold your house is left unto you desolate.”

But this was not to be final, for He adds: “verily I say unto you, ye shall not see me until the time shall come when ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.”

Dr. Whitby gives the correct view when he says; “To lie down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven, doth not signify to enjoy everlasting happiness in heaven with them, but only to become the sons of Abraham through faith, (Gal 3:7) and so to be blessed with faithful Abraham coming on them, that they may receive the promise of the spirit, (Vs 14) through faith in Christ to be the seed of Abraham and heirs, according to the promise, (verse 29) viva – the promise made to Abraham (Gen 12:3) renewed to Isaac (Gen 26:4) and confirmed to Jacob (Gen 28:14) and to be, according to Isaac, “the children of promise” (Gal 4:28).

The gnashing of teeth denotes the vexation and wrath of the spiritually proud Jews, when they should find themselves outside the kingdom, while the Gentiles they had so despised, were within. The Rich Man and Lazarus pictures the two classes, and exhibits the wide contrast, in that parable.

3. Unquenchable Fire

Mark 9:38-48…”it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched”…”their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.”

“He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”- Matt 3: 12 “And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off; it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched; where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.”-  Cr; Mark 9:43-44.

Scripture Reconciled  

“They put fire to the chaff at the windward side, that creeps on and never gives over, till it hath consumed all the chaff, and so is a kind of asbeston purifying – here, a fire is never quenchable, till it has done its work.” – Matt 3:12.

Job says, the wicked are “as chaff that the storm carrieth away,” 35:5, 21:18. See also Psalms and Isaiah 5:24, 17:13, 29:5, 33:14, 41:15. The Jewish nation, which was about to be destroyed, was represented by chaff, reserved for destruction, as it was in Matt 3:10, by the tree which was to be hewn down and cast into the fire. The fire by which the Jews were destroyed was the fire of divine judgment: and as it did its work effectually, so it was unquenchable. It is for this reason that the punishment and destruction of the Jews are described in the Old Testament as being effected by unquenchable fire.

See Isaiah 66:23-24. “And it shall come to pass from one new moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord. And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.” The unquenchable fire here spoken of is in this world, as is evident from the phrase “new moon” and “Sabbath.”

Again, Jere 17:27. “But if you will not hearken unto me to hallow the Sabbath day, and not to bear a burden, even entering in at the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day; then will I kindle a fire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched.” Fire kindled in the gates of Jerusalem, which devoured the palaces of Jerusalem, is said to be unquenchable. Ezek. 20:45 “Moreover, the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, set thy face toward the south, and prophesy against the forest of the south field; and say to the forest of the south, Hear the word of the Lord: – Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will kindle a fire in thee, and it shall devour every green tree in thee, and every dry tree, the flaming flame shall not be quenched, and all faces from the south to the north shall be burned therein. And all flesh shall see that I the Lord have kindled it; it shall not be quenched.”

Here the forests are devoured in an unquenchable fire. The meaning is, not that the fire was endless, but that it was not quenched, – it continued to burn – until all the material was destroyed. So the judgments of God on the Jews were effectually done – the nation was completely devastated and destroyed. They were like the chaff of the Summer threshing floor in the consuming fire of God’s judgment.

The phrase unquenchable fire, is found in six places in the New Testament; Matt 3:12, Luke 3:17, and Mark 9:43-46. In all of these passages the phrase should be quenchless fire. The Greek word asbestos, unquenchable, inextinguishable, is the original term in all the passages, verses 44 and 46 in Mark having the verb form, sbennutai. What does it mean? That the fire was never to expire, literally, or that nothing could extinguish it till it accomplished its purpose? The usage of the word will determine its understanding. How did Greek authors at the time of Christ employ it?

Josephus says, [Jewish War, B. ii, ch. xvii:6.] speaking of a fire that used to burn in the temple–though at the time he wrote [A.D.80] it had gone out, and the temple was destroyed – “Every one was accustomed to bring wood for the altar, that fuel might never be needed for the fire, for it continued always unquenchable.”

Strabo, [A.D. 70} described the “unquenchable lamp” that used to burn in the Parthenon, though it has long since ceased to burn. [Lib. ix: p. 606.]

Plutarch, {A.D. 110} in Numa, [p. 262] speaks of places in Delphi and Athens, “where there is a fire unquenchable,” (asbeston) though in the same breath he describes it as having ceased to burn.

Eusebius, [A.D]325, Eccl. Hist. Lib. vi, chap. 41] in his account of the martyrdom of Cronon and Julian, at Alexandria, says they were “consumed in unquenchable fire, asbesto puri,” though it burned only long enough to destroy their bodies. In the Scriptures an unquenchable fire is one that cannot be extinguished until it has fulfilled its purpose.

Lev 6:12-13, “And the fire upon the altar shall be burning in it; it shall not be put out: and the priest shall burn wood on it every morning, and lay the burnt offering in order upon it; and he shall burn thereon the fat of the peace offerings. The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out.”

Now this fire was long ago extinguished, and yet it was “never to go out.” So we read in Isa 34:9-10, “And the streams thereof shall be turned into pitch, and the dust thereof into brimstone, and the land thereof shall become burning pitch. It shall not be quenched night nor day; the smoke thereof shall go up forever; from generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass through it for ever and ever.” This language is all figurative; the unquenchable fire has long since expired.

These passages and extracts suffice to exhibit the Biblical and common usage of this term. In all cases it denotes fire of temporal duration. Of course our Savior used the words in the same sense in which they had always been employed. God’s judgments are denoted by fire in frequent passages: “For there is a fire gone out of Heshbon, a flame from the city of Sihon; it hath consumed Ar of Moab, and the lords of the high places of Arnon” Num 21:28. David represents the judgments of God upon the wicked in this life: “A fire goeth before him and burneth up his enemies round about.” Psa 97:3.

God is spoken of as a “consuming fire.” because he brought judgments upon the disobedient and sinful. In the prophecy of Isaiah, the destruction of Babylon is spoken of under the same figure: “Behold they shall be as stubble; the fire shall burn them: they shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame” – Isa 47:14. “He is a God that judgeth in the earth” Psa 58:11. Paul uses nearly the same language that Moses employed when addressing the children of Israel, Deut 4:24. “For the Lord thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God.”

Stuart says: “In the valley of Hinnom (gehenna,) perpetual fire was kept up, in order to consume the offal which was deposited there; and, as the same offal would breed worms, hence came the expression – where their worm dieth not and their fire is not quenched.”

Dr. Parkhurst adds “Our Lord seems to allude to the worms which continually preyed on the dead carcasses that were cast out into the valley of Hinnom, (gehenna), and to the perpetual fire, kept up to consume them.”

The idea of endless duration was not in the minds of the authors of these terms. They used the language to denote either literal fire that should burn until its object was accomplished, or as an emblem of divine judgments, thorough but limited.

Canon Farrar, in “Eternal Hope,” “Consequences of Sin,” says: “The expression ‘quenchless fire,’ – for the phrase ‘that never shall be quenched,’ is a simple mistranslation – it is taken from Isa 66:24, and is purely a figure of speech, as it is there, or as it is in Homer’s Iliad, xvi:123.” In his Appendix to the volume he observes: “it was in answer to the bitter taunt of Celsus, that the God of the Christians kindled a fire in which all but the Christians should be burned, that Origen first argued that the fire should possess a purifying quality (katharsion) for all those who had in themselves any materials for it to consume. All, even Peter and Paul, must pass through this fire (Isa 43:2) and ordinary sinners must remain in it till purged. It is in fact, a baptism of fire, at the resurrection, for those who had not received effectually the baptism of the spirit (Psalm 3:1, Jere 2:3, Ezek 1:13). It was not a material fire, but self-kindled, like an eternal fever. It was in fact remorse for remembered sin, a figurative representation of the moral process by which restoration shall be effected.

4. Ye Shall All Likewise Perish

Jeremiah 18:13-17 and Jeremiah 25:8-11 are sometimes quoted in reference to the anger of God toward Israel, I personally believe that it holds very little weight, since Nebuchadrezzar (a heathen pagan) the king of Babylon, was God’s servant.
Jeremiah 51:39,57 – However, this passage speaks of Babylon’s fall, never to rise again.

Luke 12: 3 “I tell you, nay; except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish”

Scripture Reconciled  

Many readers of the Bible suppose that the word perish always relates to the immortal soul, and that it means to suffer torment without end. And this passage has been quoted blindly, ignorantly, thousands of times to denote the final loss of the soul. But it is only necessary to consult the immediate context to perceive that Jesus was referring to nothing of the sort. He asks: “Suppose ye that these Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, nay; but except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”

That is, perish in a manner similar to their death. “Except ye repent, ye shall all perish as they died.” How was that? There were “some who told him of the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices,” and of a certain eighteen “upon whom the tower of Siloam fell, and slew them.” “Think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwell in Jerusalem? I tell you, nay; but except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish.” That is, be slain as they were. No better explanation for these words can be given than in the language of “orthodox” commentators.

Says Dr. Clarke: “ye shall all likewise perish. In a like way, in the same manner.” This prediction of our Lord was literally fulfilled. When the city was taken by the Romans, multitudes of the priests, etc., who were going on with their sacrifices, were slain, and their blood mingled with the blood of their victims; and multitudes were buried under the ruins of the walls, houses and temple.”

Dr. Barnes (Presbyterian) observes: “You shall all be destroyed in a similar manner.” This was remarkably fulfilled. Many of the Jews were slain in the temple; many while offering sacrifice; thousands perished in a way very similar to the Galileans.”

Whitby says: “I tell you, nay; but except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish, for the same cause, and many of you after the same manner.”

This is what Jeremiah thought – it is the same principle – Jeremiah 18:23 – “Yet, LORD, thou knowest all their counsel against me to slay me: forgive not their iniquity, neither blot out their sin from thy sight, but let them be overthrown before thee; deal thus with them in the time of thine anger.”

Though the Jeremiah verses are often used to declare God’s anger, many often miss quoting the last verse of this chapter (Vs. 23). The usage of time in Jeremiahs passage also indicates a time when something will cease. “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace” Eccl 3:1-8.

And then finally in Vs 11 “He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.”

Micah 4:6-7 “In that day,” declares the Lord, “I will assemble the lame, and gather the outcasts, even those whom I have afflicted. I will make the lame a remnant, and the outcasts a strong nation, and the Lord will reign over them in Mount Zion from now on and forever.”

Micah 7:18-19 Who is a God like Thee, who pardons iniquity and passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in unchanging love. He will again have compassion on us; He will tread our iniquities underfoot. Yes, Thou wilt cast all our sins into the depths of the sea”.

5. The Rich Man and Lazarus

Luke 16:19-31

Scripture Reconciled  

After reading the passage, it is understandable why some folks would interpret this as a literal story instead of a parable. However, in order to take these passages literally you must overlook these points:

1. The rich man is not accused of sin, he is portrayed as a wealthy man. Thus being rich will get you sent to Hell. That is if you take this literally.

2. Lazarus was never said to be a righteous man. He was simply a poor beggar. Thus poor people go to Abraham’s bosom when they die. That is if you take this literally.

3. Why would Lazarus go to Abraham’s bosom rather than Heaven?

4. Why would the rich man dies and be buried, but Lazarus died and was carried off straight to Abraham’s bosom with no mention of a burial?

5. Those in Heaven will be able to view those being tortured in Hell. Could a mother live in eternal bliss watching her son or daughter being tortured forever? Wouldn’t she be in just as much torment as her children?

6. Those in Hell will be able to carry on conversations with those in Heaven, all while being subjected to unbearable pain and agony. Would it be possible to even speak while enduring such pain?

7. Is it possible that a drop of water could make any difference whatsoever to relive the suffering of those tormented in Hell?

8. The word “Hell” in this parable is translated “Hades” which means the state of the dead or unseen (not eternal torment).

Now the average Evangelical would exclaim the usual, “Your taking things out of its context”! I agree. This passage is the most misunderstood passage of the Bible. Let us now examine it, keeping it in its context. It is a message not of eternal condemnation, but a message of hope, justice, and love.

In order to keep this passage in its proper context (audience relevant), we need to go back to Luke 15. You see, the passage of Luke 16:19-31 is really an overall dialogue which began in Luke 15. It is in 5 parts.

In Chapter 15 we have…

1. The parable of the Lost Sheep
2. The Parable of the Lost Coin
3. The Parable of the Lost Son (the Prodigal Son)

In Chapter 16 we have…
4. The Parable of the Shrewd Manager
5. The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus

In the Parable of the Lost Sheep we have Jesus in company with the Gentiles (the sinners, the unrighteous, the dogs, the scum of the earth – according to the Jews). Then in the Parable of the Lost Coin we have Jesus describing a similar parable, the same principle of truth, but just told differently – lost sheep, lost coin. Now, let us remember the audience. We have Jesus, the Gentiles (the outcasts, the sinners) and the Jews (the Pharisees, the righteous leaders – Gods chosen righteous people).

However, they were applaud that Jesus was in the company of the Gentiles. By now the Jews are getting quite angry. We now come to the Parable of the Lost Son (the Prodigal Son). It is a parable of jealously and envy. The lost son (who came back – via Reconciliation) are the Gentiles. The older son are the jealous envious Jews and Pharisees – the religious leaders. After this parable Jesus immediately goes into His next parable: The Parable of the Shrewd Manager.

In this parable Jesus tells the Jews (through parable) that they have done a pitiful job with the inheritance they have received (being sons of Abraham). They are not good stewards of God’s blessings. They understood what Jesus was saying. After this parable Jesus again goes immediately into the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. Before we get into the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, lets look at the setting.

1. The Jews were God’s chosen people. The Gentiles were outcasts.

2. Jesus was teaching to the Jews and Pharisee’s 

3. The Gentiles understood that Jesus was teaching that they could now be included in the inheritance of God’s blessings, that they could now be a part of God’s family.

4. The Pharisee’s understood that Jesus was rebuking them for being poor stewards of God’s blessings.

Who was this Rich Man?

1. He was dressed in purple, fine linen, and lived in luxury. Purple is a sign of kingship. Linen is a symbol of the priest hood.

2. In verse 24, he calls God his Father. Then in verse 25 Abraham responds to him by calling him son. He is a descendant of Abraham. Then he asks Abraham to send Lazarus to his house to warn his 5 brothers (Vs. 25). Most people ignore the identity of the 5 brothers. Why 5? Why not 4, 6, or even 7? This is vital to the text. According to Biblical history and the Scriptures it was the tribe of Judah that received of both the kingdom and the priesthood. Judah had 5 brothers; the sons of Leah were; Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulon (Gen 35). In verse 29 Abraham responds by citing they have Moses and the prophets (only the Jews had such a claim). The Jews knew that Jesus was referring to them. This is who the Rich Man was.

Who was Lazarus?

Many Evangelicals claim that because Jesus used a specific name, it must be a specific real literal story because parables contain no names. However, the name Lazarus is very significant. The name Lazarus is a transliteration of the Hebrew “Eleazar” which means “God has help.” There are 3 characteristics of Eleaza.

1. He must have been close to Abraham because he is placed in Abraham’s bosom.

2. He must also have been a Gentile (20-21 of Luke reveals this). The phrase “longing to eat from Abraham’s table” was typical of Gentile identification. In the eyes of the Jewish nation, the Gentiles were considered the outcasts, the dogs. So the phrase “the dogs came to lick his sores” shows us that they could only be consoled by other Gentiles since they were unworthy of receiving the blessings of God.

3. He must have also been a steward since he is now receiving the reward and blessings of being in Abraham’s bosom. In Genesis chapter 15:2-3, we find that Abraham’s has a head servant. The name of this servant is Eleazar. He was servant of Abraham. He was a Gentile. He was a steward of Abraham. In Gen 15:2-3, Abraham declares that Eleazar, the Gentile, will receive the blessing and inheritance. But earlier God had promised to give Abraham an heir – many descendants.

But Abraham didn’t have any children. Moreover, he was advanced in years. Because of this he conferred the blessings to Eleazar (though he never actually performed the ceremonial conformation so to speak). But in fulfillment of God’s promise, Abraham did have a child, an heir. The name of this heir (as we all know) was Isaac.

Abraham then asked Eleazar to keep watch over Isaac least he marry a Canaanite. This task meant the complete abandonment of Eleazar’s claim to any of Abraham’s inheritance. The inheritance was now given to Isaac. The inheritance of the kingdom, wealth, pristine, honor, the priesthood, and the land of Canaan. Eleazar was cast out, his seed would inherit nothing. But nevertheless, he remained a faithful servant/steward.  The Pharisee’s completely knew that Jesus was using the illustration of Lazarus as representing the Gentile nations.

The Message of the Parable

Vs. 22-26. It is clear that when we read these passages the Rich Man and Lazarus are trading places. The Rich Man blessings and is now in torment. Lazarus was in torment and is now receiving blessings. Lazarus is placed in Abraham’s bosom. This symbolism is indicated by the ancient practice of having guests at a feast recline on the chest of their neighbors. This imagery is explained in Galatians 3:6-9. According to this passage Gentile believers become sons of Abraham. For centuries the Jews had received the benefits of being God’s chosen people by virtue of being Abraham’s physical descendents. But after the sacrifice of Christ, this place of honor would be given to the people represented by Lazarus.

In contrast to Lazarus the Rich Man was buried in Hades. Remember the word Hades means the state of the unseen. Symbolically, this shows that a point would come when the house of Judah would become “unseen” by God. They would no longer be God’s favored nation due to their rejection of Jesus as the Messiah.

What is the torment mentioned in verse 23? The Greek word that this was translated from is “Basanos” which means “touchstone”. Its proper usage in ancient times was for determining the quality of genuineness of something; to test for purity or truth. This Hell that the Rich Man was in was not a place of sadistic torture, but rather a condition of testing for truth or purity. A measure of Suffering for a means of correction. As a whole, the House of Judah shall be cut off and replaced during this current age by those who in faith who would accept the sacrifice of the Messiah. The destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD fulfilled this cut off. It fulfilled this great gulf!

What about the flames? God is a Refiners Fire. He is Refining. To refine means to make something perfect. God is a consuming fire. God purities. What about the great gulf fixed between the Rich Man & Lazarus in verse 26? Paul explains this in Romans 11:7-8. The Jewish nation is left to fend for themselves. This great gulf is their unbelief. Crossings over is very difficult to achieve, but not so difficult when God is on your side. Such a “gulf” crossing illustration can be found in Deuteronomy and Joshua chapters 3 and 4. The crossing of the Jordan was their salvation. They finally entered the promised land. In the OT it was impossible for them to cross this gulf on their own. In the same way, it is impossible to cross the gulf mentioned in the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus without the help of Jesus (Matt 23:37-38). The only way to cross the gulf is through Jesus.

The last two verses (30-31) is an amazing prophecy concerning Jesus’ resurrection. Hence, rejecting Christ (causing a gulf) also entails rejecting His resurrection. Is Israel beyond recovery? No, of course not. (Roman 11:25-26) 

6. Condemnation, Wrath, Damnation

John 3:18 “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God”.

John 3:35-36 “The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him”.

John 5:25-29…”Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation”.

Scripture Reconciled  

These statements are the simple effects of belief and unbelief, regardless of the duration of the consequences. As long as one believes, life abides with him, the aionian life of the Gospel, while the unbeliever is deprived of this life. “He that believeth hath everlasting life,” though by unbelief he may forfeit it, and regain it again by believing again. Such passages as these illustrate the New Testament use of the term: “You hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins.”Eph 2:1. The believer hath “passed from death unto life.”John 5:24. “We know that we have passed from death unto life because we love the brethren.”I Jn 3:14. “To be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” – Rom 8:6.

The question of the duration of the life or the “wrath is not raised in this passage. It remains, in either case, as long as the condition remains that causes the life or the wrath. That is why it is written that we must work out our own salvation, always remembering not to add on to the simple plan of salvation, but to enhance its assurance in our lives. By this we know that we have eternal Life (I Jn 5:13).

“But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account there of in the day of judgment.” Matt 12:36. “For all these things, God will bring thee into judgment.” – Eccl 11:19. “God will bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” – Eccl 12:14.

Now if every act, and word, and thought whether good or evil, is judged, and so punished or rewarded, it is plain enough that judgment must follow hand in hand with conduct, and cannot be deferred. And it is plain enough that the endless future cannot be determined by the last hours of life. The Biblical language of a throne and a day of judgment are figurative descriptions of the unfailing decisions of the great judge who “every morning doth bring his judgment to light,”Zeph 3:5; and who never fails to bring upon each one for his good, just what he deserves; so that God’s judgments “are more to be desired than fine gold, and are sweeter to the taste than honey and the honey-comb,” of all who perceive their beneficent purpose. With these expositions of the nature and character of the Divine judgments, we are prepared to consider the texts that are usually quoted to teach a fearful day of judgment after death, to be followed by unending doom.

Vs. 36. At first glance this verse seems to indicate conditional clauses – “He that believeth,” “he that believeth not.” Life vs. No life. “The wrath of God abideth on him.” However, allowing the Scriptures to speak for itself and not tearing one particular verse out of its context to prove an ideology of conditions, let us keep our focus. Remember we are still dealing with purification. The concept of this purification is found in Ch’s 2, 3, and 4. This is so because immediately after vs. 36, John is still speaking of baptism  (4:1-2), drinking (4:7-14 – reminiscent of the Cana wedding), labor – sowing, and reaping – where others have not labored (4:34-38). It is the anger of the Bridegroom (Matt 7:21-23, Ch 25, Mark 2:19-22 – yet, divorce for God is not an option).

The Gk word for wrath in this instance is “orge” which means; “desire,” “a reaching out.” It comes from the root “oregomai” – “to stretch oneself,” “to reach out after,” “to covet after,” “desire.” In English all we see is what appears to be a boasted well pleasing message of condemnation. But in the original tongues and language’s of expressions and meanings the Scriptures come alive with the desire of God’s heart: “Humanity.” For it is the Fathers will that none perish (Matt 18:14 – Ch 18 of Matthew deals with the parables of the Lost Sheep, The Brothers Sins – note – those that are lost are still considered brothers – a connection between the House of Judah and the House of Israel, or the saint and the sinner). Matt 18 also deals with the Unmerciful Servant, cr. II Pet 3:9.

In the case of Vs 36, the word for “wrath” is “will. ” It indicates a strong desire. In our language the word “will” denotes “strength” “will power” – bending someone to your will. In the original Greek it denotes “thelema” – “pleasure,” “desire,” “decree.” It comes from the root “thelo” – “to determine as an option,” “an impulse” “to be about” in the future tense. Sometimes as an adjective “Gladly.” In Hebrew to “delight in” “love,” To be in a state of “Will.” “An option,” “a determination” as in “thelesis.” The statement in John’s Gospel is one of simple belief and unbelief and its outcomes (5:24, Eph 2:1, I Jn 3:14, 5:13).

The very word “wrath” destroys any Calvinistic or Arminian tendencies. If we were to transliterate the passage, it would literally read as follows; “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the desire/love of God abideth on him.” God actually covets after the unbeliever. The very idea of coveting suggests a sexual longing. Not a sexual longing of the flesh (Vs 6) but a spiritual sexual relationship – as in becoming one with Christ. Similar to the Bridegroom becoming one with His Bride – Salvation is an accomplished fact and must be thought as an established soteriological fact.

Purification on the other hand is ongoing (albeit, through the merits of Christ: Rom 5:8, I Cor 15:1-4). Zeph 3:8-9 “Indeed, My decision is to gather nations, to assemble kingdoms, to pour out on them My indignation, all My burning anger; for all the earth will be devoured by the fire of My zeal. For then I will give to the peoples purified lips, that all of them may call on the name of the Lord, to serve Him shoulder to shoulder.” Judgment or sanctification, if you will, is ongoing – Zeph 3:5, I Jn 5:18, Matt 12:36, Acts 17:60, Eccl 11:19, 12:14, Surah 11:123.

“For the Son of Man came not to destroy men’s lives but to save them” (Lk 9:56) Cr. II Cor 5:18-19). Damnation, damned, etc., in the New Testament, are precisely equivalent to condemnation, condemned, etc. The former words, with their generally accepted meaning, would never occur if the Greek words thus rendered were correctly translated. What is the meaning of the word damnation? It is not a condition of suffering in an endless hell. The Bible defines it as meaning condemn, judge, punish, etc.

When Paul says in Rom 5:18, “Therefore, as by the offense of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation;” Christ says, “And this is condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil;” John 3:18, “He that believeth not is condemned already; because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten son of God;” John 9:39. “For judgment I am come into this world,” and in John 12:31 “Now is the judgment of this world:” and when the Revelator says in Rev 14:6-7, “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him, for the hour of his judgment is come;” the meaning is precisely the same. Dr. Campbell says that damned “is not a just version of the Greek word. The term damned, with us, relates solely to the doom which shall be pronounced upon the wicked at the last day. This cannot be affirmed, in truth, of the Greek katakrino, which corresponds exactly to the English word condemn.” Such is its meaning in the passage which speaks of it.

7. Not His if You Don’t Have the Spirit

Romans 8:7-14…”Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his”…”For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God”.

Scripture Reconciled  

Remember Part 1 of this study, Phil 2:9-11 Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. [Remember that “No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.” I Cor 12:3]

8. Fierce Fire 

Malachi 4:1-3 The proud, the wicked shall be stubble. “the day that cometh shall burn them up”. “And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts.”

I Corinthians 5:5 “To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”

Scripture Reconciled  

“For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.”- Rom 14:10. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” – II Cor. 5:10.

A vicious translation destroys the apostle’s meaning in the second passage quoted above. “Done” and “his” are not in the original, but are words supplied by the translators. The passage reads, “That every one may receive the things in body.” The literal reading is, “We must all appear before the tribunal of Christ, so that each one may receive the things through the body,” etc. That is, Jesus came into this world for the purpose of judgment; his tribunal is now set up, and we are all before it, and while in the body we are receiving the consequences of our conduct. This is obviously before the Harvest, depending on your eschatological viewpoint. The doctrine of Preterism fits well within this interpretation.

“Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness, by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead” – Acts 17:31. The idea of a literal day of judgment seems to be taught in this language. But it should not be overlooked that it is not a literal day hereafter, but a period, now, that constitutes the era of Christ’s judgment.

“For judgment I am come into this world” – John 9:39. “The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son” – John 5:22. “And hath given him authority to execute judgment also.” – verse 27. “Now is the judgment of this world” – John 12:31. Christ’s time of judging this world was prophesied as a day.

“In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness.” – Zech 13:1. “In that day there shall be one Lord, and his name one.” – Zech 14:9. Again: “Behold the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous branch, and a king shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth” – Jere 23:5.

The apostle refers to that period as a day: “The day is at hand” – Rom 13:12. “Now is the day of salvation.” – II Cor 6:2.

And Jesus himself speaks of his reign, or government, or time of judgment, as a day.

“Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it, and was glad” – John 8:56.

Macknight says: “In the Hebrew language, to judge, signifies to rule, or govern.”

Jesus came to rule or govern the world, and he shall continue his work till he has called all unto himself, and God is all in all. (I Cor 15:24.) Then the Gospel day ends, and Jesus surrenders his office as judge to his Father. Christ’s day of judgment began when he was on earth, and will continue till his object is accomplished, in the reformation of all.

9. Everlasting Destruction/From the Presence of of the Lord

I Thessalonians 5:3 “For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape”.

II Thessalonians 1:7-12 “In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power”…

II Thessalonians 2:8-12 “And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness”.

Scripture Reconciled  

Who were troubling the Christians of the Thessalonican Church? We are told in Acts 17:5-8, that their persecutors were the Jews.

“But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. And they troubled the people, and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things.” Also, I Thess 2:14-15: “For ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen…Who have killed the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and have persecuted us.”

When were they persecuted? They were persecuted in their lifetime: “For the son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Verily I say unto you, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom” – Matt 16:27-28.

How were they banished from the “presence of the Lord?” “The presence of the Lord” is a form of expression denoting God’s approbation. Such is its usage in the Bible. “Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden” Gen 4:16. “Jonah rose up to flee into Tarshish, from the presence of the Lord, and went down to Joppa” Jonah 1:3 “My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest” Exodus 33:14.

In the former years when the Jews were captive in Babylon, they were cast out of the presence of the Lord. II Kings 24:20. So when, during that generation, the Jews were overwhelmed, they went into everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord. Long before these very terms had been applied to them as a people, and to their sorrows in this world. “Therefore, behold I, even I will utterly forget you, and I will forsake you, and the city that I gave you, and your fathers, and cast you out of my presence; and I will bring an everlasting reproach upon you, and a perpetual shame which shall not be forgotten” – Jere 23:39-40.

A similar doom was visited upon them when they were again overwhelmed, before the death of some who were then living. (Matt 16:2-28, Matt 24) Was this everlasting destruction without end, and final? Paul expressly says not. “For if the casting away of them (the Jews) be the reconciling of the world, (the Gentiles) what shall the receiving of them be but life from the dead” Rom 11:15. “Blindness in part has happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in; and so all Israel shall be saved” Rom 11:25-26. “For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all” Rom 11:32.

Thus the word everlasting connected with destruction denoted limited duration, for it is followed by restoration. The word destruction denotes sometimes annihilation – Matt 5:17 – “I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill;” I Jn 3:8 “Might destroy the works of the devil;” Hos 13:14, “O grave, I will be thy destruction;” I Cor 5:5 “Deliver such a one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus,” that is, the mortification or subjection of the fleshly propensities, etc. Sometimes it indicates tribulation as Psa 90:3. “Thou turnest man to destruction;” Hos 4:6, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge;” and 13:9, “O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thy help.’

Moreover, it is impossible to go out of the presence of God. Even in hell, God is there. Psa 139:7-13. The term is used figuratively. To act in accordance with God’s commands, and enjoy communion with him, is to be in his presence. To be out of his presence is to act contrary to God’s laws.

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