Disclaimer: About This Blog

THIS BLOG IS: my personal journey of how I am rethinking some of my spiritual beliefs.
THIS BLOG IS NOT: intended to point fingers at people who I think are wrong.
I do not believe the final judgement will be based on how many correct answers we get on a theology exam. I believe many people throughout history have had genuine relationships with our Lord and Saviour Jesus, despite holding questionable beliefs and practices. I make no claim to having it all figured out or being your judge. If we end up disagreeing over these topics I pray we can find a way to demonstrate grace.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Playdough Scripture Rev 20:14-15

"Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. where sinners will live for eternity in a state of conscious torment. Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.

Rev 20:14-15 (Playdough Version)

Why would John say "The second death" here if he meant "eternal conscious torment"?

Yes verse 10 says "And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever. " (NIV)

Maybe the devil, the beast, and the false prophet are not mortals. Maybe they are eternal beings. I don't know. But I know verse 14 and 15 does not use the same wording for the people who are thrown into the lake of fire.

What could second death mean? To die a second time, after the final judgment? Or did he really mean to say live for eternity... just a really bad form of eternal life?

The question is: Does Scripture teach that all mortals live for eternity?

This is just a few of the many verses that, if read literally, contrast death for some with eternal life for others.

For every living soul belongs to me, the father as well as the son—both alike belong to me. The soul who sins is the one who will die. (Ezekiel 18:4 NIV)

"Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell." (Matthew 10:28 NIV)

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16 NIV)

"Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him." (John 3:36 NIV)

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

"We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death." (1 John 3:14 NIV)
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Steve said...

It of course hinges on how you define "death", Jon.

If death carries with it idea of "separation" (which it most certainly does: 'dead in our trespasses and sins" meaning that we're separated from relationship with God), then the "second death" means that we'll be separated from God throughout eternity.

"Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

If "eternal punishment" means annihilation or extinguishment in this text that our Lord spoke of, then what in the world does "eternal life mean"?

Jonathan said...

Hi Steve,

Thanks for jumping in on this topic again. :)

"Dead in our trespasses and sin" could mean simply that we are as good as dead when we are living in sin. Do we need to redefine death in so many passages? How do we know which passages death means death, and which ones death means "living forever... but in a bad way".

Yes, Matt 25:26 is one verse that seems to support eternal conscious torment the best. However considering all the other verse I'm willing to consider this interpretation:

The length of the judgement is eternal (for both cases), but it doesn't necessarily require that the judged will live eternally.

A second death would be an eternal consequence of death in this way of thinking. The punishment of death would last for eternity.

Consider Jude 1:7 (NIV)

"In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire."

How do the people in Sodom and Gomorrah serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire? The punishment lasted forever. But they did not.

Jonathan said...

Just took another look at Jude 1:7. In the Greek it is hard to say if the eternal goes with the fire or the punishment. It could be "fire of eternal punishment" or "punishment of eternal fire". Either way we know the fire and the people didn't last forever, but the punishment was eternal.

Steve said...

I think "death" means separation all the time... physically included. When you die physically, that which makes up our physical life (breathing, heart beat, brain activity) is separated from (or departs from, ceases to exist in the presence of) the body, the flesh, bone, organs, etc.

It's not a matter of redefining death for each passage in the Scriptures, it's just applying the natural understanding of death to the passages... so, when we cross over to the idea of spiritual death, the definition carry's over, in that our spirit is separated (or departed) from God - forever.

Jonathan said...

Thanks Steve. I appreciate the explanation of your perspective. I find it interesting how on so many topics people can have sound and logical arguments for different perspectives.

Although what you say is true, I don't know if that is or ever was the definition of death. Do we have any evidence that is what the writers of Scripture intended when they chose to use the word 'death' in each of these passages. Why didn't they write 'eternal separation from God' if that is what they meant? Interesting.

Curious what are your thoughts on Jude 1:7?

Steve said...

I think spiritual death is how it all started and physical death is simply a tangible picture of the reality of spiritual death... God said to Adam and Eve: “in the day you eat of the fruit, you will surely die” - they didn't (because of God's mercy I believe) die physically that day, but they most certainly died spiritually that day which was characterized by being separated from fellowship with God and banished out of the Garden (which also represents fellowship with God).

Further, we need to be careful that we don't define physical death only by our western, north American cultural norms (ceasing to exist once for all), but allow the overriding principal of spiritual death (the hermanutical principle of "first mention") to define our understanding of physical dying (not allow our understanding of physical death to define our understanding of spiritual death – that would be backwards). There are references in the OT that would use the kind of language of separation to talk about physical death - e.g. “And as her soul was departing (for she was dying)…” Genesis 35:18

I’m not sure I understand or rap my brain around what you mean by: “The length of the judgement is eternal (for both cases), but it doesn't necessarily require that the judged will live eternally.” How can “judgement/punishment” be eternal when the one being punished isn’t around? Wouldn’t punishment cease the moment the person who’s being punished ceases to exist?

Jonathan said...

I'll try to explain better.

I can't think off hand of any modern day punishments that last forever. We like giving second chances. But consider a thief a while back in the middle east. If he was caught stealing his hand would get cut off. You could say the punishment lasted forever. They didn't keep cutting off his hand, but the results of the punishment would continue for the rest of his life.

Heb. 6:2 mentions "eternal judgment"

Does the judgment keep occurring over an over again for eternity? I think we read this as judgment occurs, and the result lasts for eternity.

Heb. 9:12 mentions "eternal redemption"

Does the redemption keep occurring over an over again for eternity? I think we read this as we are redeemed, an the result lasts for eternity.

Jude 1:7 says "In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire."

(Or eternal punishment of fire? I don't know?)
But we know they were punished once, and the results lasted forever.

Does that help explain this point of view better?