Question #1: Are angels God's creations before this creation (earth and humanity)? Namely archangel Gabriel and Michael. Are they saints who have become angels after their physical death?
Response #1: Angels are a separate order of creature from human beings. They were created before the destruction of the world seen in Genesis 1:2 (which necessitated the seven days of re-creation in the rest of Genesis chapter one; please see the link: SR2: The Genesis Gap). They were created perfect, but Satan rebelled from God and took one third of angelic kind with him in rebellion. After some indeterminate time, the Lord judged the rebellion by devastating the original earth and blacking out the universe. Instead of throwing the devil into the lake of fire immediately, however, God turned the lights back on (though dimly in comparison which the original creation and also in comparison with the eternal state to come) and re-created earth, then created a new order of beings, human beings. We are akin to the angels in that we bear the image of God (i.e., we have cognizance of our situation and the free will to decide for or against God's truth and God's will). In many respects, humanity was created for God's purpose in the judgment, restoration, and replacement of the effects of Satan's rebellion. All this (and much more) is covered in great detail in the five part Satanic Rebellion series, and I would strongly encourage you to begin your studies of these issues there (see the link). You might also see part 2A of Bible Basics: Angelology, for specific details about the angels (although much of this information can also be found in the Satanic Rebellion series as well).
Human beings do not become angels and angels do not become human beings. Together, resurrected believers and elect angels (who did not follow Satan) will form the eternal family of God. When we are resurrected (at Christ's return), we will possess bodies like that of our Lord Jesus Christ which are, from all scriptural description, superior to those of angels, and of course we will "judge angels" (1Cor.6:2-3). The archangels are a particular rank of angel (and there apparently only seven of them); please see the following link: in BB 2A "Archangels".
Hope this helps with your questions. Please feel free to write me back about any of this.
In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
I read your email response and I am failing to see how there is any reference to the antichrist being half Jewish. I believe it is possible that the antichrist may be the devil's actual seed (son), but I would have to study scripture a bit closer to verify that. However, none of the names given to the antichrist seem to point to him being half Jewish. When I hear names like "King of the North", "King of Babylon", "The Assyrian" (all names that were on the list that you wrote up on the page you gave me the link to), it does not draw up a mental image in my mind of a person who is of Jewish descent. The term "King of Babylon" seems to strongly point to the fact that the antichrist will be the leader of the end time Mystery, Babylon at the onset of the Tribulation. My understanding from having read scripture is that the destruction of Mystery, Babylon happens at the beginning of the Tribulation (not the end of the Tribulation).
Antichirst's paternity is explained at the following link: in CT 3B: "The Origin of Antichrist"
As to the question of the beast being "Assyrian", two passages frequently adduced by those making this claim are the following:
Isaiah 10:5 is a direct historical reference to Assyria – a country which was used by God as a scourge, which did over-do it, and which was destroyed by the Lord. Calno and Carchemish (v.9) are literal places, e.g., and the whole passage has a direct literal application to history past (history, that is, as laid out in scripture). It is true that the passage is (secondarily) also symbolic of antichrist – but in this respect the appellation "Assyrian" is symbolic too, thus telling us nothing of the beast's true origin.
Micah 5:5-6 is similar. I do find an eschatological aspect to it, but, again, through symbolic analogy, meaning, therefore, that "Assyrian" in that case would be no more literal than "Nimrod" in verse six, a pagan god of that day. Now "Nimrod" might represent something else – but then in that case so would the appellation "Assyrian".
As you will see in the link above, the interpretation of antichrist's maternal origin is based in part on Genesis 49:16-17 and the prophecy about Dan.
Dan [in the person of antichrist] will judge his people as if
he were [of] one of the tribes of Israel. [But] Dan (i.e.,
antichrist) will be a serpent beside the road, a viper beside
the path, one who strikes at a horses heels, so that its rider
falls [off] backwards. I wait [in hope] for your deliverance, O
Dan is a serpent and a viper (satanic; cf. the Gen.3:15 prophecy about the serpent's seed striking Messiah's heel); Dan will rule his people (the beast's world rule and control of Israel in particular where he will have his final headquarters), "as if he were one of the tribes of Israel" (the falsity of his claim to Messiahship); "I wait for your deliverance, O Lord!" (indicating the tribulational application of the prophecy). To my mind the above verses and their fairly obvious interpretation makes the rise of the beast from the tribe of Dan a virtual certainty (and if so, his maternal origin will have to be Jewish).
There is much more as well about all this at the link above. You are certainly free to disagree. The interpretation, however, rests upon a long list of biblical evidence, all of which would have to be considered for the argument to receive a fair hearing.
In our dear Lord Jesus,
Dear Dr. Luginbill,
I have been reading a very interesting book and wanted to get your opinion on some of the authors views. The book is God's War on Terror, Islam, Prophecy and the Bible. It is written by an ex-Muslim terrorist , Walid Shoebat, who after reading the Bible believed he was not worshiping the one true God and became a believer in Jesus Christ. What he says in the book is that westerners are looking for the antichrist to be from revived Rome when in fact he feels scripture says that the antichrist will be a Muslim and that the Messiah who will come to Islam, their Madhi will in fact be our antichrist. There is a lot in Isaiah, Daniel and Revelation that he says points to this. Isaiah 14:25 "That I will break the Assyrian in My land, and on My Mountains tread him underfoot." He says that all the neighbors of Israel are today Muslim countries. Jeremiah 12:14 "Thus Says Jehovah against all mine evil neighbors that touch the inheritance which I have caused my people Israel to inherit." That the Mark of the Beast is in fact the Islamic Creed whereby they put badges on their foreheads and arms with blasphemous declarations on them doing this in obedience to the (Quran 27:82) which spoke of the end days regarding the "beast of the earth" and how this beast will mark all Muslims on the forehead in order to distinguish them from non-Muslims. He also noted that the Greek letters (Chi XI Stigma) that are used to translate 666 very much resemble the most common creed of Islam Bismillah written in Arabic and literally means 'In the name of Allah" and followed by symbol of crossed swords used universally throughout the Muslim world to signify Islam. There is a lot more, some 400+ pages all of it based on scripture and seems to make a lot of sense given the increase in Islam and their hate for the infidel, the Jews and Christians. What is your thought on this? Thanks for all you help. You are a wonderful resource for us longing for the truth on His word.
Always good to hear from you. As to your first question, I am very sorry to hear this theory (which is not unique to this person) being advanced by what seems to be a credible source. It is almost certainly the case (as I have written in some detail) that the early part of the Tribulation will indeed see the rise of an Islamic confederacy led by a self-proclaimed Mahdi. The problem for Christians who will be around at that time is that seeing this person as antichrist will be exactly what the real antichrist wants and desires. The beast will proclaim himself to be Christ, and will lead a "Christian crusade" against this "king of the south" during the first half of the Tribulation. I fully expect that one major factor in energizing the Great Apostasy (wherein fully one third of genuine Christians will fall away from the faith) will indeed be the patriotic and religious fervor ginned up by the beast (proclaiming himself to be Christ) against this other charismatic ruler (whom the beast will deem "antichrist"). As you and others and this person point out, there will be many similarities between this "Mahdi" and the beast – that will not make him antichirst (any more than the superficial similarities between the beast and the true Christ will make him Christ). True Christians will be reviled during this time for turning against their country and rejecting their God. With the entire religious establishment of those who are Christian in name only supporting the beast, many true Christians will succumb to this pressure and propaganda, being weak in their faith and having spent little time in their lives paying attention to scripture. They will apostatize and follow the false Christ against the (wrongly named) antichrist to their eternal undoing. This is, therefore, a very dangerous teaching. Scripture clearly has the beast connected with revived Rome, and I know of no verse that can be made to connect him to Islam instead. He is, after all, "substitute-Christ" (a basic meaning of the Greek preposition anti: "against" in the sense of a substitution), and the actual beast's opposition to the true Jesus cannot be fully understood apart from this critical aspect of his modus operandi of dissimulation. Just as Satan attempted to usurp Jesus' role in pre-history, so at the end of history his son will proclaim himself the Christ and attempt to deceive the world in a similar fashion. This is one reason why scripture goes out of its way to give us a "test" to identify potential antichrists (i.e., the "number of the beast") – and uniquely so. This would not be necessary if what one would expect to happen based on contemporary geopolitics is what actually will happen.
You mention the "Assyrian" passages (Is.14:25 et al.), and I note that this a false interpretation that has been making the rounds of late. This is a good example of how the KJV (and versions which follow it) can be very misleading. "The Assyrian" was not a bad translation for 'ashur in its day, but only if we understand this as a generic description. But in the Hebrew we actually have just 'ashur , Assyria, with no "the". "I will break Assyria" is what the Hebrew actually says; that is the sense in which the KJV meant it the 17th century. But today "the Assyrian" sounds like a single person. The Hebrew cannot mean that and does not mean that, but that (incorrect) meaning is essential for this particular false theory. As I say, on the one hand I know of no biblical support for this theory of an Islamic antichrist (despite all the "neat" parallels from contemporary Islamic usage), and on the other hand there is a mountain of evidence to connect the beast with 1) revived Rome and 2) eschatological Babylon (which rules the west, biblically speaking). This is all written up in detail in part 3B of the Coming Tribulation series, "Antichrist and his Kingdom".
Thank you so much for your kind words of encouragement! I greatly appreciate them.
In our dear Lord Jesus,
Am I to understand then that the 12th Imam, or Madhi that the Muslims are looking for is not the antichrist as this author is saying and in fact we are to look for another person from revived Rome that will be the antichrist? In your response you said that true Christians will be reviled during this time for turning against their country and rejecting their God, would you explain what you mean by this further? I don't understand what you mean by their country and rejecting their God.
I will look again at your tribulation series that I copied a while ago. Does it mean anything that all the countries that surround Israel are Muslim countries and sit on the largest area of oil?
Again, thanks for you help.
Antichrist will come from Babylon, and Babylon will almost certainly be the tribulational U.S. After gaining control of Babylon, the beast will establish his empire first by taking over revived Rome; second by overcoming the three "horns" (i.e., the greater part of the Islamic world) which were part of Rome but do not initially flock to his banner. In fact, the opposition of the three horns and "the king of the south" will be the key justification for the political and military operations that bring the beast so far so fast, namely, the threat from Islam. So there no doubt will be someone along the lines of what you report (I can't vouch for the specifics about him, because they are not in the Bible); but this person will only seem to be antichrist; antichrist will call him "antichrist", even as the beast calls himself "Christ".
I mentioned that Christians will be reviled, that is, will be discriminated against and placed under great pressure because they "inexplicably" are unwilling to follow "Christ" in his "new religion" and "crusade" to destroy "the beast". It will be analogous to being a German in 1933 who had the good sense to see that Hitler was bad and not good; such persons usually ended up in concentration camps if they were detected. For us it will be worse because we will refuse to take the beast's mark. Since the beast will proclaim himself to be "Jesus", and all of his false Christian followers will accept that, when we true Christians do not support him, do not join in the "cause", do not take the mark, etc., we will be considered not only bad Christians (or not really Christians), but also bad Americans. We will be reviled. This is a very important point since most Christians are under the impression that antichrist will be obvious as such and very easy to sport, and that resisting him will just be a manner of being willing to suffer for what we believe. In fact, it will be much more insidious than that. Only those with a strong and mature faith capable of seeing through the beast's lies will recognize that the real antichrist is not the evil person who runs the Middle East and parts surrounding (evil though he will be, and a threat to the west as he will be), but instead the person whom almost all of the west will see as their "Savior". He will not have horns and a red epidermis. He will no doubt be very attractive and seemingly God like – just like you would imagine Jesus to be. Not for nothing is he called anti-Christ, for although he is not Christ, most will accept him as such. The sort of misguided interpretation from the book you shared will only play right into his hands. Those who fall for this deceit will either be Christians in name only or part of the Great Apostasy.
You can find all this at the following link:
In CT 4: The Beast's Prophet and the Worldwide Anti-Christian Religion
In our dear Lord Jesus.
Not to belabor the point but will not the "man of peace' who in fact is the antichrist make an agreement with Israel for 7 years and then after 3 1/2 years break the promise and reveal his true colors, at that time instituting the mark and his power? If this is the case would we Christians not know this 'man of peace' for what he is knowing that after those 7 years that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will come and do battle at Armageddon and destroy him and his followers. Am I missing something here? Also, from the ex-Muslim author he says that the temple destroyed in 70AD were 'the people of the prince (antichrist)" and although they were Roman legions and Roman citizens that they were not of European descent and heritage but primarily from the Middle East-Arabs, Syrians and Turks. That Titus lead the Eastern Legion of the Roman Empire, not the Western and is saying that it was an Islamic Empire and this being said the antichrist will be Islam not Roman. Daniel 9:26, "The people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary." Those "the people (ancestors) of the prince (antichrist) who is to come (during the tribulation) will sack Jerusalem and the Temple". There are so many opinions out there. Pretrib, Midtrib, Posttrib, mystery Babylon, the antichrist, etc. I just want to be sure I am on the right side of scripture. Thank you so much for listening to me and always being willing to answer questions. I hope I am not being argumentative just curious since I felt he had a lot of scripture, many of the same ones you site related to the end times.
I'm always happy to answer your questions. First, the Great Apostasy takes place during the first half of the Tribulation, not the second. By the time the beast is demanding the mark from all of the world's inhabitants, those who have cast their lot with him will already be in too deep in most cases to turn back from their apostasy. Therefore whatever deception takes place will take place in the main before this particular "obvious" sign of the mark surfaces (which may not be as obvious as it seemed twenty years ago when almost no one had a tattoo and now it seems almost everyone in the younger generation does, for example). Antichrist will only "reveal his true colors" to the extent that he ever does so after it is too late for most weak Christians who will have already fallen away. This is an important point. Most Christians imagine that the apostasy will in the first instance be a collapse of faith under pressure. While pressure will indeed be a critical factor in both halves of the Tribulation, the number one initial reason for the Great Apostasy will be seduction. The beast will come upon the scene in a world filled with anxiety, unrest, and great fear. He will be incredibly charismatic and seemingly unique. His claim to be Christ will seem genuine, backed up by miracles, and impossible for most of the world to resist; and his "salvation" of the west from the threat of the southern kingdom will make everyone cheer (everyone, at least, who is ignorant of scripture). The beast will, moreover, have a new world religion that "transcends" traditional Christianity and which offers something for everyone. In short, for positive and negative reasons, out of self-interest and self-preservation, and in response to a person who seems to be the most unique person ever to have lived (with the exception of the true Christ), the majority of the west at first, and, after his victories in the middle east, the entire world will flock to his standards and to his religion. It will take undivided and solid faith to resist these temptations, not only because of their inherent seductiveness, but also because by failing to jump on the bandwagon true Christians who really do know their God will be considered traitorous and heretical. I fully expect the societal pressure coming from all quarters to play a very big role in the apostasy (after it has already picked up a very large head of steam). For while a person who is being persecuted because he/she is a Christian and acknowledged as such by the persecutors might possible bear up, when it is a case of being made to doubt that one is even really a Christian (since the people doing the persecuting are claiming the same and indeed claiming to serve Christ "come again in the flesh"), it will take the most intransigent and iron faith to persevere.
As to Rome, during the days of Nero Rome ruled all ten "horns", that is, all ten areas of the empire as biblically described. In Daniel chapter seven, the little horn throws down three of these horns – these represent the southern alliance which is opposed by Babylon and the revived Roman empire. Note, all ten belong to Rome proper, but it will take two major campaigns before all ten horns are subject to the beast (as they clearly are by the time of Babylon's destruction at Rev.17:16). From the prophetic viewpoint, there is no specific identification of Islam, there is only Babylon (the west), Rome (the north), the three horns under the king of the south (the south – what today is the Islamic world for the most part), and later at the end also the kings of the east (the east). Also, the racial composition of the Roman legions at the time of Jerusalem's destruction is not something that biblical prophecy takes into account (or needs to). In any case, there is nothing in scripture which is in any way contradictory in this respect. The idea of "European descent" in respect to revived Rome is a modern idea that is neither historical nor biblical. By the time of Nero, Roman citizenship had passed to many who were not European in any sense of the word (racial, geographic, linguistic, what have you). Paul was a Hebrew-speaking Jew from Asia . . . but a Roman citizen.
Titus had three legions under his command, the 5th (Macedonian – that would be European; Greek, Thracian, Dacian – also all European), the 10th, Julius Caesar's favorite legion, based now in Syria, originally raised in Gaul, but no one knows its ethnic composition at this time (undoubtedly mixed), and the 15th, raised by Octavian/Augustus and so largely Italian (but again no doubt somewhat mixed at this point, with many Illyrians [Europeans] due to its posting in that area for many years, along with [European] German/Gallic stock, since it spent many years in the campaigns on the Rhine). But none of that is really here nor there since all of these common soldiers, and much more their commanders, would be considered "Roman" at the time of writing of the book of Revelation, for example. Any confederation whose geography encompasses that of the Roman empire in Nero's day (apart from Africa, Egypt, and Syria, the centers of gravity of the three horns of the south, not subdued by antichrist until the middle of the Tribulation) should be considered the empire of the prince whose "people" sacked Jerusalem.
It is certainly true what you relate, that there are many interpretations out there nowadays, and though this ministry has been on the internet since 1997, in the intervening time "Bible study" sites have multiplied ad infinitum. What is a Christian to do? My answer is what it has always been: judge a tree by its fruit. Anyone, even someone without training or any particular knowledge of scripture – or even without any great faith, can easily put together some verses and a wild theory or two that may sound "interesting". But it takes actual preparation and diligent study to put things together consistently in a biblically accurate way, and it is only by discovering a helpful and legitimate ministry and persevering with it that true spiritual growth is possible. As I always say, "find a good source of truth and stick with it". That is the best way to get somewhere in personal spiritual growth.
In our dear Lord Jesus who is the only truth.
Thank you again for your response. You are certainly a faithful servant to our Lord and to those of us who rely on your sound knowledge of scripture. I'm sure I will be seeking your guidance again. I only pray I will keep the faith and stand firm for Jesus when the time of trials come our way. God's blessings,
Thank you, for your kind and supportive words – and most of all for your prayers.
In our dear Lord Jesus,
Revelation 14:10 - The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:
2 Thessalonians 1:9 - Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;
Why does Rev. 14:10 tell us that unbelievers will be punished "in" the presence of the Lord while 2 Thess. 1:9 tells us that unbelievers will be punished "from" the presence of the Lord? Are both verses referring to the Lake of Fire? I interpret Rev. 14:10's fire and brimstone as the Lake of fire. Is this correct, because Revelation 19:20 also uses the words "fire and brimstone" which is the Lake of Fire or the eternal state of the damned.
I take Revelation 14:10 to be limited to the (last) judgment which will indeed take place "before Him". Thus the "before Him" refers to the judgment, not to the eternal torment which will indeed be away from His presence, not before it. So I do not take this passage to mean that (nor does it actually say that) the lake of fire will be in His presence forever (although it does seem to be visible from the new earth: Is.66:24). As you rightly point out, 2Thes.1:9 teaches exactly the opposite (i.e., unbelievers will be away from His presence). So the two passages are not actually in conflict. All who experience the last judgment will do so in the presence of the Lamb; but the penalty of their unbelief will be an eternity separated from Him and His glorious presence. Please see the following link for more on this:
Will those in Hades be able to see Christ's return?
In bible studies someone said that if Jesus suffered for our sins which is eternal punishment, then does that mean that the punishment for our sins is still on Him and that He is still suffering? I told him that Jesus can take our punishment because He is eternal, therefore He can take our punishment which is eternal. Then he said that it can't be eternal if the punishment that He took for us isn't still continuing and told me that it would be a contradiction since eternal means without end. He said that if God's eternal punishment for us is completed by Jesus, then how can it be eternal if it doesn't last forever?
Let me start by saying that you are absolutely correct that Jesus is not experiencing continual punishment. Scripture makes it quite clear that He suffered to propitiate our sins "once and for all", and that this (spiritual) death which wipes away our sins stands in stark contrast to the animal sacrifices of the law for this very reason (among many others):
(24) For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was
only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to
appear for us in God's presence. (25) Nor did he enter heaven to
offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters
the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own.
(26) Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since
the creation of the world. But now he has appeared
once for all at the end of the ages to do away with
sin by the sacrifice of himself.
Hebrews 9:24-26 NIV
Salvation was accomplished at Calvary's cross some two thousand years ago – as any Christian should understand quite clearly. But if Christ were still suffering for sin, then salvation would not yet be complete. However, after He had borne our sins in the darkness and paid the price for those sins, Jesus Himself told us from the cross that His mission had been successfully accomplished:
(28) After [all] this (i.e., His physical suffering and His
spiritual death for the sins of the world), Jesus knew that
everything had now been accomplished in order for the [prophecy
of salvation found in] scripture to be fulfilled, said, "I am
thirsty". (29) Now a jar of wine-vinegar lay there, so they
placed a sponge full of the wine-vinegar on a hyssop [stalk] and
brought it to His mouth. (30) So when He had taken the
wine-vinegar, Jesus said, "It (i.e., salvation) has [now]
been accomplished!", and having thrown back His head, He
gave up His spirit.
I think the "problem" here comes as a result of a false assumption: "if Jesus suffered for our sins which is eternal punishment". Nowhere in scripture is the work of Christ on the cross called "eternal punishment". It is true that the unrighteous do go off into "eternal punishment" (Matt.25:46; Jude 1:7), but it does not logically follow that therefore Christ would have had to suffer forever in order to pay for the sins of the world. That is certainly not in the Bible, and, indeed, as the quotes above make clear, the opposite is in fact affirmed by scripture. This is not in any way to diminish what our Lord did for us in dying for our sins – far from it! It only means that the suffering He endured in the three hours of darkness on the cross did in fact propitiate the Father's righteous demand for satisfaction in order for all sin to be forgiven. What Jesus endured during that time will not be completely known this side of heaven, but passages such as Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53 make it quite clear that the intensity of what He had to do to wash away our sins was immense. It was not eternal in the sense of lasting forever; it is eternal in that it has yielded the eternal result of life everlasting for all who believe in Him.
I have recently written quite a bit about this subject (metaphorically called in scripture "the blood of Christ"), and I invite you to have a look at the following link: in BB 4A, "The Spiritual Death of Christ".
In the Name of the One who has given us His body to eat and His blood to drink, dying in our place that we might live forever with Him, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
A very long time ago I heard from a preacher that there is a hole in Heaven that allows the Saints to look into hell and see the torment of those who rejected Jesus. I read your response to Is. 66:24 but it didn't say anything about a hole in Heaven. I'm glad I found your web site.
Good to make your acquaintance. You may be referring to Luke 16:19-31 where we find that Abraham and Lazarus could see the rich man in hell across the "great gulf fixed". It is important to consider that these departed believers were apparently not in the least interested in what was going on in Torments (the compartment of Hades where the unsaved dead currently reside, a.k.a. "hell"), and only even responded to his entreaties because of his importunity. Since the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ, departed believers now reside in the presence of God (i.e., in the third heaven), so that the previous "paradise" below the earth described in Luke 16 is now unoccupied (see the link: in BB 4A, "The Transfer of Believers from the Subterranean Paradise to the Third Heaven").
As to Isaiah 66:24, this and other passages do seem to indicate that in the eternal state, the lake of fire (the place to which the unsaved dead are remanded following the Last Judgment) will be visible from some vantage point outside of the New Jerusalem which will come down from heaven to the New Earth at the end of human history following the Millennium (covered in the email response at the link "Will those in Hades be able to see Christ's return?"). However, as in the case of Abraham and Lazarus, it does not appear that this will be a much frequented venue or that we will be at all concerned or interested in it, preferring instead the presence of our Lord and the Father, and reveling in all the eternal blessings with which we shall be provided (cf. Rev.21:4).
Your particular question of course involves the visibility of torments (i.e., the present-day, temporary "hell") from the third heaven, and I find no scripture which indicates that the lost are presently visible to believers in heaven. The Bible does provide some indications that present events on earth are indeed visible to the assembly of saints in the third heaven through the heavenly sea described in the book of Revelation, and that may be the "hole" you are referring to (see the link: "the heavenly sea" in CT 2B). However, the temporary torments of the present day hell are nowhere described as visible to any but God from the third heaven (as far as I know). Even if it were possible (and even if it is possible, just not detailed in scripture), it is my guess that it would be of little interest for those in God's presence.
Please feel free to write me back about any of this.
In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
I've been taught that Genesis 6 "sons of God" refers to fallen angels as in your articles on your website and emails, but I came across this article which gives counter arguments that denies that view and is giving me some trouble. I still believe that the sons of God were angels nonetheless, but I can't seem to get past some of these arguments against it in this article. Here's the article:
"Angels View. Some interpreters claim that in the Old Testament the phrase "sons of God" always refers to angels. The phrase is used in Hosea 1:10 to refer to humans, but advocates of the angels view argue that this phrase cannot mean the same thing as it does in Genesis 6 because Hosea used the singular form of the word "God," El, whereas the writer of Genesis 6 used the plural form, Elohim. The assumption here is that because these passages do not use precisely the same terms, they are not referring to the same thing. This assumption is incorrect, however, because different words are often used to refer to the same thing. The words El and Elohim are frequently used interchangeably in the Old Testament, and there is no doubt that both passages refer to God. It is not the case, therefore, that "sons of God" always refers to angels. Most advocates of the angels view point to Job 1:6 and 2:1 to support their claim that "sons of God" refers to angels. They argue that since it refers to angels in Job, then it also refers to angels in Genesis 6. In this case the assumption is the opposite of the one above; that is, these passages must refer to the same thing simply because they use the same terms. This is not necessarily true, however. Words or phrases often mean different things or are used differently in different contexts. The phrase "Son of Man," for example, refers to Ezekiel in the book of Ezekiel, but in the Gospels it refers to Jesus. One must demonstrate from the context of the passages in Genesis and Job that "sons of God" means the same thing in both passages and not simply assume this is the case because the words are the same. The passages in Job are also used to argue that "sons of God" refers to fallen angels. There is nothing in these passages, however, that indicates that they are fallen angels. Job 1:6 , for example, says, "the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them." Satan was not one of the sons of God, but came in "among them." In Job, the reference to the "sons of God" does not include fallen angels such as Satan. Additionally, it seems very unlikely that the expression "sons of God" would be used to refer to fallen angels. This argument incorrectly assumes that the two passages are referring to the same thing simply because they use the same terms. Other commentators appeal to Jude 6– 7 to support their contention that the "sons of God" were unfallen or heavenly angels who then fell because they had sexual relations with female humans. They argue that Jude compared the prideful fallen angels to the sexually immoral people of Sodom and Gomorrah. The problem with this assertion is that it assumes what it must prove. Proponents of this argument use their interpretation of Genesis 6 to understand Jude, and then use their understanding of Jude to support their interpretation of Genesis 6. This is circular reasoning. The angels view also assumes that angels can have sexual relations with female humans. Bruce Waltke points out, however, "This interpretation…contradicts Jesus' statement that angels do not marry (Matt. 22:30; Mark 12:25. It is one thing for angels to eat and drink (see Gen. 19:1– 3 ), but quite another to marry and reproduce." Some interpreters respond that Jesus was referring only to the marriage contract and not to the marriage bed, but this makes Jesus' statement nonsensical in its own context. Jesus was responding to the question about having a marital relation resulting in children, and He clearly denied that heavenly angels can have sexual relations. Other defenders respond that Jesus is referring to angels in heaven, whereas Genesis 6 is referring to fallen angels. The problem with this explanation is that prior to having sexual relations with female humans, these fallen angels must have been unfallen, heavenly angels; but Jesus said heavenly angels could not have sexual relations, and, therefore, they could not have committed the very act that is supposed to have caused them to fall. Furthermore, this view not only assumes that unfallen angels can have sexual relations with female humans but also that it is necessarily sinful. No commentator has attempted to prove this assumption."
What are the errors that this person is making in trying to disprove the fallen angels view on Genesis 6?
I would be happen to respond. To begin, I do not believe I have ever said that the phrase "sons of God" (without the definite article) always refers to angels. I have only pointed out that the phrase can refer to angels, and that when it is accompanied by the definite article, "the", always does so. This person attempts by a sort of sleight of hand to reverse the traditional discussion on this point. This is very much like setting up a straw man (i.e., just to be able to knock it down). The question here for believers who want to know what the Bible really teaches is "what does the phrase 'sons of God' mean in Genesis 6?" I and others have of necessity been forced to demonstrate that the phrase "sons of God" can refer to angels only because those of the other persuasion have argued vociferously that it never refers to angels, and have done so in my view only so as to refute the correct view of Genesis 6.
Further, there are differences in the phraseology between Genesis 6:1 and Hosea 1:10 (Hebrew 2:1), and such differences can be critical. For example, we certainly wouldn't agree to a claim that because Jesus is called "son of God" that He is no more unique than we are since we too are "sons of God"; if we are thinking, we would object and say, "Jesus is the Son of God, and that is quite a difference!" Likewise, the phrase "sons of the living God (beney-'el chay)" in Hosea is significantly different from "the sons of God (beney-ha'elohiym)" in Genesis 6. The difference between the singular and the plural name of God mentioned by this e-mail is not theologically significant, true, but it does make the phrases different. Much more important is the lack of the "the" in Hosea, for just as it is the definite article which marks Jesus out as the unique Son of God, so it is the definite article in Genesis which marks these individuals out as distinct from the others in the narrative: they are "the sons of God", i.e., (fallen) angels, even though human too might be perhaps be described as "sons of God". So this first criticism is not only irrelevant to my writing on the subject – it is also misleading at best, and misses the entire grammatical point behind the comparison of the phrases. For a Hebrew reader, beney-'el chay is altogether a different thing from beney-ha'elohiym, irrespective of the context.
Paragraph two sets up another straw man. In my writing, the fact that in the Job parallels "sons of God" does refer to angels shows that the phrase not only can refer to angels but also that it probably does refer to angels in any context which seems to point in that direction. In Genesis 6, for example, where we also have "men" and "daughters of men" in addition to "the sons of God", the very existence in the context of three carefully and purposefully distinguished categories gives us the presumption that we are dealing with angels. Since we know very well who the men and the women are (human beings), it would stand to reason that the "sons of God" are somehow different, and would probably suspect them to be angels, even without the Job parallels. With the Job parallels it would take some sort of strong semantic cue in the context to turn us away from the natural conclusion that they are angels. But in fact, everything else in the context confirms this conclusion which is the simplest and most straight-forward when considering the language as actual language (i.e., "mighty men", nephilim, the contrast in the phrase "the sons of God went into the daughters of men", etc., all point emphatically in that direction). This concept may indeed be difficult for many people who are not well-versed in angelology or Satan's rebellion. But just in terms of the text as language, assuming that "the sons of God" are angels is the most natural way to read these words. The fact that this person finds it "unlikely" that the Bible would call fallen angels "the sons of God" is not a convincing argument at all. We only call them fallen angels to distinguish them from holy angels for convenience sake, but in the Bible, they are usually just "angels" (cf. Rev.9:11; 9:14). If the Bible can call both good and bad members of that category "angels" (since that is what they are), then there is no good reason to suppose that it would not also call both categories of angels "the sons of God". After all, even if we were to erroneously assume that the sons of God were human beings, given the context of apostasy it would unquestionably be the case that most would be unbelievers (and would yet still be called "the sons of God" even though opposing God).
Jude 1:6 does indeed refer to this event. The reasoning is not circular. For one thing, every verse in the Bible means something important. If the "angels who left their first estate" are not those involved in this clear violation of the angelic estate in commingling with the human estate, to whom is Jude referring? It would be unprecedented for a New Testament writer to make such a reference if there were not an Old Testament passage/incident/teaching with which his readers would readily identify (this becomes even more clear when the parallel passages in the Petrine epistles are considered, conveniently left out by this author; see below). These angels in Jude cannot be all of the fallen angels, because far from all of the fallen angels are incarcerated at present: most are still at liberty (as all spiritually advancing Christians know only too well).
As to the last two paragraphs you include, since the second of the two deals with a bizarre argument I would not wish to defend (and know of no responsible party who advances), I will deal only with the first. I have no doubt that this person could adduce an entire parade of evangelical scholars who are in print as opposing the clear meaning of Genesis chapter 6. There are very persuasive reasons to want to abandon the clear meaning of the text and come up with some "softer" interpretation. To put it bluntly, Genesis chapter 6 is uncomfortable. But the truth is often uncomfortable. If you reject Jesus, you will be damned for all eternity. I know of nothing more uncomfortable. Now I am sure this person and his ilk would quickly protest that they would never dream of watering down the gospel, but in fact every attack on the truth of the scripture is an attack on the gospel. The devil is far too intelligent to attack our belief in the truth head on in the case of those who are committed to spiritual advance. Instead, he tries to undermine some small part where we are unclear or unsure or "uncomfortable", and worm his way in from there. To be spiritually safe, the only proper attitude is an uncompromising commitment to the truth, to follow it wherever it leads no matter the cost. For at the end of that road we find Jesus Christ, but all other roads lead ultimately to hell.
Jesus says that angels do not marry. That is all He says. He does not even address the issue of whether or not there are female angels (as there certainly seem to be: Zech.5:9), and certainly not whether angels are capable of having sexual relations with each other – why would He? This is an area where we should be reluctant to speculate. What we do know is that angels can and have affected the material world in ways we would never dream possible were it not for the testimony of scripture. If scripture says that angels cohabited with human woman before the flood and had off-spring by them, then that is what happened. Nothing in Jesus' words render this impossible. This issue will be even more important to "get right" during the Tribulation, for antichrist, as it turns out, is also a nephilim (the seed of the devil; please see the link: in CT 3B: The Origin, Character and Rise of Antichrist).
Finally, please do read over the links below (you may have already done so). Apart from the fact that this article you quote merely seeks to sow seeds of doubt (i.e., I do not see any alternative explanation presented here), there are other good and pressing reasons for accepting the interpretation which has been advanced by myself and many others. If these are not angels, why does the text give us three categories? How could it be that the "sons of God" took some time to realize that daughters were being born (after all, the first wave of daughters certainly were not born without males)? What does it mean that the offspring of this group alone were "mighty men"? What does it mean that only Noah (along his family) was "perfect in his generations"? Why are they called nephilim ("fallen ones")? Why is God so upset with mankind in this context if it is just a matter of normal and divine commanded human procreation (Gen.6:2 first, followed later by the apostasy of Gen.6:5-7 and the flood)? Weren't they told to "be fruitful and multiply"? Does it not concern any godly interpreter that "the sons of God went into the daughters of men" makes no sense whatsoever if only a natural human process is in view? And what about the passages in Peter? These have been conveniently overlooked, but there is no other way to interpret them than as has understanding the nephilim as fallen angels:
It was also by means of the Spirit that [Christ] visited the
[angelic] spirits in prison (i.e., in the Abyss), and proclaimed
[His victory]. [These are the angels who] were disobedient in
the days of Noah at the time when God patiently waited (i.e.,
delayed judgment) while the ark was being built.
1st Peter 3:19-20a
For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but plunged
them into Tartarus with its gloomy pits (i.e., the Abyss),
preserving them for the [day of] judgment, and did not spare the
antediluvian world, but kept safe Noah
as a proclaimer of righteousness
and the seven with him
when He brought the flood upon the ungodly inhabitants of the
world, and condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to
destruction, reducing them to ashes and making them an example
to those bent on similar ungodly behavior, and rescued righteous
Lot who was tormented by the depraved lifestyle of those lawless
for through the things he saw and heard just by dwelling
among them this righteous man was damaging his righteous way of
life day by day on account of their lawless deeds. For the Lord
knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the
unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment –
especially those who in their lust pursue the polluting of the
flesh and so despise [God's] divine authority.
2nd Peter 2:4-10a
What other "sin" "in the days of Noah" are we talking about here? In short, the evidence for the truth is so overwhelming that calling the correct interpretation a "view" is actually insulting. The only reason to reject what is clearly being taught by scripture is out of embarrassment. I freely admit that this is an uncomfortable subject, but I stress again that for someone to warp the truth to make it "more palatable" is the first step towards their own spiritual destruction. And if they go even farther and attempt to erode the faith of others so that they can feel more comfortable, I am afraid that all the prayers in the world will not avail to keep them safe until they turn back to the truth. Here are those links:
Satan's antediluvian attack on the purity of the human line (the Nephilim)
The Nephilim (in BB 2A)
Dinosaurs, the Nephilim, Noah, et al.
Doubts about the Nephilim in Genesis 6
Eschatology Issues II
In the Lord Jesus who is the Truth, who never flinched from telling us all the truth.
This person has always argued that "sons of God" in the OT refers to believers even though it is clear by the majority of bible scholars that it refers to angels. I think he takes this view because he thinks it is ridiculous that fallen angels could cohabitate with women. He wrote:
"Zacharias the priest was righteous and walked in all of the commandments;(Luke 1:6) how could a man possibly do that without Christ? He couldn't. Even though Christ wasn't even born yet, Zacharias had already believed on Christ, and was anticipating His coming. (Luke 1:67-70)Zacharias, also, was chastened as a son, because he didn't believe the angel Gabriel. So if these Old Testament saints, believed on Christ, (and they most certainly did), then they had received Christ in their hearts and believed on His name(John 1)and God certainly dealt with them as sons. Only one conclusion can be drawn; they, too, were "sons of God"(John 1:12), The term "sons of God" refers to the same thing in the Old and New Testaments.
Sons of God...Believers
Job1:6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.
Does this verse say "some sons of God came" ? Or does it say the sons of God came? Wasn't Job, also, one of the sons of God?
Did not Satan also come among the disciples in Matthew 16:23?
Abraham did the very same thing......
Genesis 18:22 And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD. Wasn't Abraham , also, standing on planet earth "before the Lord"? "
I believe that the passage in Job refers to angels, but he uses Genesis 18 in an attempt to prove otherwise. Is his interpretation correct? Thanks in advance!
I'm not sure of the percentage of scholars who hold with the truth, but there is certainly no logic in the first part of the quote you give from this person. "The sons of God" in the Old Testament almost always refers to angels (see the link: "The sons of God"). But even were this not so, clearly, since "every family in heaven and on earth" derives its name from God (for God created all, angels and men alike: Eph.3:15), there is no reason why the term couldn't refer to angels (which in fact of course it does) even if it sometimes refers to men (which in this precise formulation it never does, even in this lengthy example given by your correspondent). The point is that biblical terminology is often important, and the fact that beney ha-'elohiym, "sons of God" always refers to angels and never to human beings is significant, not least as a means of interpretation for this passage where its use clearly shows that individuals in question were fallen angels.
As to Genesis 18, the argument seems to be that being "before the Lord" can take place on earth as well as in heaven. That is certainly true; but it is not the case that since this can occur on earth that it cannot occur in heaven. Therefore every instance of "before the Lord" has to be analyzed according to its context to decide where such meetings are taking place. In Genesis 18, the Lord came to Abraham on earth in a Christophany, that is, appearing as a man before His incarnation (as such He is often described as "the Angel of the Lord"; see the link: "Theophany and Christophany"). Jesus has not yet returned to planet earth. He was here for 33 years, and will return at the second advent, but He was not generally present on earth after the expulsion from Eden and before the flood. Therefore how would, how could the "sons of God" come to Him to present themselves "before Him" on earth when He wasn't here? He could come to them individually; they could not come before Him collectively (as Job says, "Oh that I knew where I might find Him, That I might come to His seat": Job 3:23). And really, the presence of Satan in a colloquy with the other "sons of God" makes the argument for these being human beings rather silly. We do not "get together" with the devil or any other angels for that matter for any purpose this side of heaven and the resurrection. These events clearly took place in heaven. What does the devil say to the Lord's question, "Where have you come from?"? He replies "From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it". This, and our Lord's latter observation about Job that there is no one on earth like Job, make no sense whatsoever if we assume that this is all taking place on earth. Finally, if these are "righteous believers" with whom Satan appears before God, why then isn't Job, the most righteous of all then living, present as well?
In our dear Lord Jesus Christ,
I forwarded your response and he's still insistent that his interpretation is correct. He wrote:
"#1 Satan is in the presence of, influences, and tempts "sons of God", that's one of the things he does. Matthew 16:23, Mark 1:13 Acts 5:3
#2 Satan is a spirit, not a physical being. Question:: Does he tempt or speak with an audible voice? Satan's conversation was with God himself; not the sons of God.
Nobody said they got together. The book of Job says Satan "came also among them". He comes uninvited. See Matthew 16:23, Mark 1:13, Acts 5:3, 1 Thessalonians 2:18
Is Heaven metioned in the passage?
Note that this is a question God already knew the answer to. But it could mean this "meeting" was at a certain location on earth. Notice Satan tells what he was DOING in the earth. He does not say he came "from" the earth.
Again, Satan does not answer where he just came from; his answer is what he was doing.
If it had said there is nobody as good as Job "in all of the Land of Uz", then Job wasn't quite the "goodest". Instead it said "in the earth". You can't top "best in the whole world" can you? It means nothing more than that.
Simple: Job was, and is, one of the sons of God; so he was there. And remember; God is a Spirit and so is Satan, so no audible voices were needed. So Job and the other sons of God most likely was oblivious to anything God and Satan said. Does God speak to you in an audible voice, does the devil tempt you in an audible voice? "
I'm unsure as to how he came up with this interpretation. Is any of his interpretations in line with context? Thanks in advance!
For your sake, I'll have one last go at this, but these objections are so far out in left field and so non-responsive to the important points raised previously that they really don't deserve a response.
1) No response to the fundamental point that "the sons of God" always means angels in scripture.
2) No response to the equally fatal point that it certainly can mean angels, even if point #1 is disputed.
3) Job 1-2 describes a formal assembly of "the sons of God" in the presence of the Lord. Clearly, what the devil does invisibly on earth among mankind not so assembled has nothing to do with this scene in Job.
4) Job 1-2 clearly describes all the assembled parties as witness to this conversation. If Job were "there", he would have heard all this.
5) Therefore all of these "points" fail to address the central issue that Job 1-2 is clearly describing a formal assembly of angels in the presence of God; angels are the only ones who could at that time appear before the Lord; whether or not Satan was "invited" is entirely beside the point; scripture tells us that he was there with the other angels – the sons of God.
6) This meeting had to be in heaven because God is in heaven. The earth is described throughout as another place (from whence Satan came; where Job is). This meeting could not be on earth because God will not return to earth and hold court as God until the second advent (when Christ will do so) and the eternal state (when the Father will do so).
7) I suppose I'll have to spell it out.
a) Satan shows up at a conference before God
b) God asks him where he's been
c) he says "roaming on earth" (which means ipso facto that they are not on earth, otherwise it would be a non-descriptive and pointless answer unworthy of recording in scripture)
d) God then asks him "have you considered My servant Job?"
e) So clearly Job was not there because
i) he would have heard God if this were a conference God had called
ii) the devil describes him in the third person and thus as not at the conference
iii) Job is at home (on earth) in the very next verse (1:13)
iv) in Job 2:7, after another conference, Satan afflicts Job immediately (Job who is still at home [on earth] and not at any conference).
v) and of course God is in heaven not on earth – so that was the place of the conference and the reason why earth is presented in opposition to the place of the conference.
8) Can this person cite anyone else who has taken this conference before God to be on earth and involving men and not in heaven concerning angels? The clear meaning of these chapters is so obvious as to require a very high burden of proof from anyone who seeks to overturn what any reader, sophisticated or first-time, would naturally glean from these verses. We know God is in heaven and we know Satan is an angel. Thus to suggest that somehow the conference is made up of human beings and being held on earth flies in the face of the entire context we are given (all the more so when "the sons of God" is examined elsewhere in scripture and seen to always refer to angels elsewhere too). This person not only does not supply convincing proof that the clear and obvious meaning is mistaken; he supplies no proof whatsoever.
I forwarded your email on the eternal nature of the last judgment to someone on a website who denies eternal punishment in an attempt to show him that he's wrong and he replied with the following that I'm having difficulty refuting. He wrote:
"Sorry for all these definitions. I found a few errors in my Computer Bible. Not all the correct Greek words were indicated.. So I had to go to my Greek Bible to figure out what was going on. I put them down so I would have things straight.
21 So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way of punishing (2849 kolazw kolazo kol-ad'-zo) them, because of the people, since they all glorified God for what had been done. Acts 4:21
9 then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment (2849 kolazw kolazo kol-ad'-zo) for the day of judgment (2920 krisiv krisis kree'-sis), 2 Peter 2:9
2849 kolazw kolazo kol-ad'-zo from kolov kolos (dwarf); TDNT - 3:814,451; v KJV - punish 2; 2
1) to lop or prune, as trees and wings
2) to curb, check, restrain
3) to chastise, correct, punishment
4) to cause to be punished
2920 krisiv krisis kree'-sis
perhaps a primitive word; TDNT - 3:941,469; n f
KJV - judgment 41, damnation 3, accusation 2, condemnation 2; 48
1) a separating, sundering, separation
1a) a trial, contest
3a) opinion or decision given concerning anything
3a1) esp. concerning justice and injustice, right or wrong
3b) sentence of condemnation, damnatory judgment, condemnation and punishment
4) the college of judges (a tribunal of seven men in the several cities of Palestine; as distinguished from the Sanhedrin, which had its seat at Jerusalem)
5) right, justice
25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever (165 aiwn aion ahee-oh). Amen. Romans 1:25
6 and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever (165 aiwn aion ahee-oh) and ever (165 aiwn aion ahee-oh). Amen. Revelation 1:6
165 aiwn aion ahee-ohn' from the same as 104; TDNT - 1:197,31; n m KJV - ever 71, world 38, never + 3364 + 1519 + 3588 6, evermore 4, age 2, eternal 2, misc 5; 128
1) for ever, an unbroken age, perpetuity of time, eternity
2) the worlds, universe
3) period of time, age
For Synonyms see entry 5921
46 "And these will go away into everlasting (166 aiwniov aionios ahee-o'-nee-os) punishment (2851 kolasiv kolasis kol'-as-is), but the righteous into eternal life." Matthew 25:46
166 aiwniov aionios ahee-o'-nee-os from 165; TDNT - 1:208,31; adj KJV - eternal 42, everlasting 25, the world began + 5550 2,
since the world began + 5550 1, for ever 1; 71
1) without beginning and end, that which always has been and always will be
2) without beginning
3) without end, never to cease, everlasting
For Synonyms see entry 5801
2851 kolasiv kolasis kol'-as-is from 2849; TDNT - 3:816,451; n f KJV - punishment 1, torment 1;
1) correction, punishment, penalty
For Synonyms see entry 5859 & 5909
You say that (2851 kolasiv kolasis kol'-as-is) can only mean punishment. Yet if we explore the word we find that the word can have a range of meanings. It can mean correction, punishment, or penalty.
I agree with you that in the case of Matthew 25:46, that (166 aiwniov aionios ahee-o'-nee-os)) means eternal or everlasting and that this term describes both the righteous and the wicked situation.
46 "And these will go away into everlasting (166 aiwniov aionios ahee-o'-nee-os) punishment (2851 kolasiv kolasis kol'-as-is), but the righteous into eternal life." Matthew 25:46
The righteous will indeed experience eternal life that will never end. The wicked will also experience eternal punishment or an everlasting penalty.
16. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16
20. The LORD preserves all who love Hims, But all the wicked He will destroy. Psalm 145:20.
23. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23
From the Bible we see that the special gift of everlasting and eternal life is for the righteous. The wicked are destroyed and they perish. Their end is death, not eternal life. So they can not even suffer for eternity because their end is nothingness and non-existence because the Bible says that it will be as if they never existed:
15. For the day of the LORD upon all the nations is near; As you have done, it shall be done to you; Your reprisal shall return upon your own head.
16. For as you drank on my holy mountain, So shall all the nations drink continually; Yes, they shall drink, and swallow, And they shall be as though they had never been. Obadiah 1:15-16.
So, how can you even pretend that your interpretation is correct, or even Biblical, saying that the wicked will suffer forever and ever?
Do you believe that the Bible is inerrant? How can you say that the Bible does not have any errors in it if you have some Scripture saying the wicked will suffer for ever and ever while you have other Scripture saying that the wicked will be no more, that they will cease to exist, that they will perish, that they will vanish away? It even says that the wicked will be destroyed together in one place at one time! The Bible says that the wicked will perish like smoke in the presence of God and like wax in the fire.
The Bible goes on by saying that the wicked will be stubble and they will be ashes under the soles of the feet of the righteous. When it is all done, the Bible says that there will not be a fire to sit next to, nor even a warm coal! All the wicked will be destroyed. They will not survive. In Revelation, this is called the "second death!"
It is not just a few times that the wicked are described as perishing but over and over and over again, it says that they will be destroyed. All throughout the Bible!
So, I repeat; How can you even pretend that your interpretation is correct or even Biblical? Even in other places of Matthew itself we have the idea that they will die:
Mt 10:28 "And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
Jesus said that we should fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Hell is a place of destruction not eternal suffering. It is clear that destruction is slated for both the body and soul of the wicked! How are you going to clear this problem up and keep the Bible inerrant?
Let's look at Matthew 25:46 again.
46 "And these will go away into everlasting (166 aiwniov aionios ahee-o'-nee-os) punishment (2851 kolasiv kolasis kol'-as-is), but the righteous into eternal life." Matthew 25:46
The punishment of the wicked is indeed permanent just like the righteous. The righteous are given eternal life but the wicked receive the eternal punishment of death. A death in which there is no end. It is permanent and eternal.
Note that the Greek word for punishment can also mean penalty. It is an eternal punishment or an everlasting penalty. The everlasting penalty of sin is a death and destruction that never ends because the wicked will never again wake up from that death!
In Revelation, the fires of Hell are connected with the second death of the wicked!
6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. Revelation 20:6
14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. Revelation 20:14
8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. Revelation 21:8
The eternal suffering of the wicked comes from Pagan sources, not from the Bible. As you say, Ancient Greek is very well documented and it is found in all sorts of literature. However it was an extremely pagan culture. Very much different from the light found in the Bible..
You say I am massaging an issue; You are the one who is massaging the issue and through your interpretation, you are making these verses go against the rest of the Bible in understanding.
I agree with you that God does not desire that anyone face the punishment that the wicked will face, that of the second death, permanent death from which there is no return.
11. Say to them: 'As I live,' says the Lord GOD, 'I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?' Ezekiel 33:11
Yes they will experience terrible suffering while they die, but they will die and Biblically we can say it will be as if they never existed.
Your comments suggesting that I believe that those who reject God will eventually be forgiven is false. All who are wicked and not forgiven by God will face total destruction. They will never be forgiven. It is only in this life that we can come to God. If we do not respond to the Holy Spirit then eternal destruction is what we face.
However, the Bible does not teach eternal torture!
Yours in Christ"
It bothers me when I read articles that deny the doctrine of eternal punishment and I don't like it because it leads others to think that they can live a life of sin and escape God's wrath. I greatly appreciate the help and thanks in advance!
Jesus told us not to throw our pearls before swine. The reason for that is that not only would this do the pigs no good (they trample them), but also they will thereafter attack us, as in this case by sending you a deceptive and sophistical e-mail designed to upset you.
How to recognize a (biblically defined) swine.
Genuine Christian who wants to learn what the Bible really teaches: this person researches the scriptures with an open mind and attempts to access good teaching presented in a teachable way rather than for controversy's sake. When two passages or two groups of passages are found that on the surface seem to contradict each other, this person strives to find a solution through all legitimate means, accessing appropriate teaching where available. The correct solution will reconcile both groups of passages in an adequate way. This person rejoices in the truth, grows by it and helps others grow.
Swine: this person is really not interested in what the Bible has to say but only in advancing his/her own agenda (which often consists of one or two "hobby-horse" issues about which he/she has an ax to grind, generally with the sole purpose of calling attention to him/herself). When passages are found that contradict this person's point of view, these are ignored or belittled or rhetorically diminished, because the person is not open to the truth, but only wants to hear what advances his/her point of view. In all cases I have witnessed, the position is always wrong too, and generally speaking will introduce some critical "worm" capable of destroying an entire system of belief if taken to be the truth. This person is being used by the devil to destroy the faith of true believers (and if this person is a believer – usually they are only masquerading in sheep's clothing – he/she will be a marginal one in danger of complete apostasy).
Some common characteristics of the behavior and "teaching" of biblically defined swine such as found in this e-mail you have shared:
1) Bombardment: including such a long list of "information" so pointless and repetitive that no sane person will go over it all; this numbs the defense mechanisms of the reader and so they fast forward to the conclusion thinking, "well, there was a lot of stuff there; maybe it was true". Note the long list of info you could/would never read or get anything from. As someone who knows what these words actually mean in Greek, I can tell you that most of this repetitive info is of absolutely no help to the discussion one way or another; it's just supposed to make this person look smart when all they did was cut and paste from an on-line concordance.
2) False Authority: use of Greek and Hebrew not to explain but to give a patina of false authority, as in "I found errors ... not all the correct Greek words were indicated"; Wow! Sounds like this person knows Greek or something.
3) Obfuscation: "You say that (2851 kolasiv kolasis kol'-as-is) can only mean punishment. Yet if we explore the word we find that the word can have a range of meanings. It can mean correction, punishment, or penalty.". Please. All of these words are synonyms. Plus, "what it can mean" is not what it does mean. Context is king in use of actual words in an actual language, and words mean some-thing in context (rather than every-thing or only the thing "I want them to mean") – that is how we human beings communicate.
4) Sleight of Hand: The main passage provided as direct evidence for the point of view advanced is not applicable at all (i.e., Ob.1:15-16), for this is speaking of God's destruction of the living wicked on a particular occasion. It does not even address the issue of what happens after death. But – and here is the sleight of hand – before being allowed to recognize that there is no "there" there, this person launches into a rhetorical browbeating of anyone who disagrees and that tends to cause our recognition that no proof has been provided to evaporate as we rankle at the invective.
5) Name Calling: e.g., "how can you even pretend that your interpretation is correct"; "the Bible does not teach eternal torture"; "The eternal suffering of the wicked comes from Pagan sources, not from the Bible"; So if we don't believe person's interpretation, we are pretenders and pagans who relish torture.
This person does what all sophist do: set up a false antithesis and make use of that to undermine a genuine position. It is in fact a false conflict to suggest that because some passages talk about the destruction/death of unbelievers and others talk about their eternal punishment that there is a contradiction. Notice, by the way, that this person does not give an explanation for the many passages which do teach eternal punishment very clearly – and that is telling: it makes it very clear that this person is not interested in a solution, merely in bullying others into seeing it "his/her way". Maybe it's a power trip, but the motives are not good whatever they are; that is obvious. In fact, there is no contradiction. "Death" in biblical terms does not mean "non-existence". We are born "dead" to God, and yet we exist; likewise those who experience the second death will be dead to God forever, but they will exist, in eternal punishment. That is what scripture teaches and the passages that teach it cannot be overturned by any manner of clever exegesis. So the passages that seem to this person to teach oblivion actually do not; but the person has ignored the passages that teach eternal punishment because they are not compatible with his/her theory.
"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the
righteous to eternal life."
Matthew 25:46 NIV
And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of
fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are,
and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
Revelation 20:10 KJV
However you translate them, these and other passages bear a clear meaning that can never be diminished by any who accept the truth of scripture. I would be happy to teach eternal oblivion if that were the truth; but it is not, as the Bible clearly shows. Here are some links for more details if interested:
The Three Aspects of Death
Against Universalism I: Free Will and the Image of God.
Against Universalism II: Only Believers are Saved.
I absolutely know what you mean when you say "It bothers me when I read articles that deny the doctrine of eternal punishment and I don't like it because it leads others to think that they can live a life of sin and escape God's wrath". Indeed. And this false doctrine like all others creates a breach in the wall of truth that the devil is ever quick to exploit with other lies until the entire edifice of faith built on truth comes crashing to the ground. Ironically, of course, many if not most of those who teach this particular false doctrine are going to experience the uncomfortable truth first hand, and not many years hence.
Finally, to close this out, what is the best way to deal with swine? Stay away. It may be tempting to get into it with them, but they never listen, and at best you waste your time and vitiate your peace. There are enough wonderful ways to learn and share the truth with those who are willing. Once it becomes apparent that someone is not, best strategy is to keep far away.
In our dear Lord who suffered the actual and real torments of hell-fire so that we might not be condemned to an eternity of suffering, but might instead enjoy a blessed eternal life with Him forevermore.
I sent this to a bible teacher who doesn't believe in eternal torment and sent me this so-called exegetical paper supposedly refuting eternal torment. I don't know too much NT Greek or how to properly exegete passages and am still learning, but the paper that was sent to me sounds convincing even though I know that Jesus clearly taught eternal torment. It throws me off a little. Here's what was written:
"Here is age-life opposed to corruption; and vice versa. If then, the tormentists will have aioonios to indicate continuance without end, here is corruption contrasted with endless life. I admit the age-life is endless; because it is life manifested through incorruptible body. The tormentists also claim that the punishment is as endless as the life, because aioonios is associated with it as well as with life. Granted. What then? That the corruption is endless, and the subjects of it, consequently, mere dust for ever; for a resolution into dust is the consummation off the corrupting process. This is punishment everlasting in its effects. But when does the torment of the age-punishment terminate? We have said at the end of the premillennial war. But it may be asked, when is that? When the Beast shall have been slain, and his body consumed by the burning flame; a memorial of which is predicted to continue in these words off the text before us—Ho kapnos tou basanismou autoon anabainei eis aioonas aioonoon; 'the smoke of their torment ascends to ages of ages.' Now, previous to the commencement of the tormenting war, we have seen that Rome falls into the abyss like a millstone into the sea. In other words, she sinks like Sodom into the fiery chasm beneath her. This is a cause of great rejoicing to the resurrected apostles and prophets, and other saints; because it is God's avengement of them upon her—Revelation 18: 20-21, 24; 19: 2. They are represented as praising God on account of her overthrow, saying 'Alleluia!' It is then added, ho kapnos autees anabainei eis tous aioonas toon aioonoon—'the smoke of her ascends to the ages of the ages.' Hence, I conclude, that the volcanic smoke mounting from the abyss in which Rome, the holy city of the goats, shall have been engulfed, is thenceforth regarded as the memorial of their judgment, as the Dead Sea has been hitherto of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the other cities of the plain. Rome's volcanic smoke is the smoke-memorial of their torment. The reader will observe that, it is not the torment that is said to continue to the ages of the ages, but the smoke thereof. The torment ceases with the war: but the memorial of it continues to the end of the Age; that is, for a thousand years, at the termination of which the ages of the ages will be introduced. Mr. C. remarks that the Lord in using the word kolasis indicated what sort of punishment he meant. This may be granted so far as this, that the punishment was not to be taken in the sense of paideia, which is the chastisement of a father for the correction and improvement of his children. There is no Age-paideia; paideia is now—the discipline God's accepted children are subjected to in the times of the Gentiles. They are not subjected to kolasis; because kolasis is for dogs, and swine, and goats, not to reform them, but to exterminate them. There is nothing reformatory in kolasis, because it is punishment unto death by violence, the apprehension of which is called kolasis in 1 John 4: 18, as well as the punishment itself. But, the radical idea of kolasis is not torment, though so rendered in English in the text just quoted. It is repression, keeping within bounds, checking, curbing, restraining; as, archei tou harmatos kai koladzei tas toon hippoon hormas, 'he guides the chariot and curbs the impetuosity of the horses.' The Age-punishment is to repress the wickedness of the nations, and bind the Sin-Power; a process which affords scope for the recompensing of resurrected evil doers according to their deeds. If the Lord had said, ' these shall go away into endless basanismos,' that would have been delivering them over to eternal pain, or torment; and have implied their conscious existence in torment without end. But kolasis does not. The kolasis may even be endless, but consciousness is not therefore necessarily implied; because, as we have seen in Uzzah's case, there was punishment without probably the least bodily, or mental pain."
My friends have also read it and believe it and I don't know how to change their minds back to the truth. Is the above correct in any way?
Your friends are easily influenced if they found this gobbledygook persuasive! One of my old professors many, many years ago once remarked as to how it was easy for a pastor with a smidgen of Greek to throw a word or two into a sermon and seem authoritative. This person uses the technique, and on top of that his hermeneutic principles are sadly wanting. Ancient Greek is a very well-documented language spanning over a millennium of time, millions upon millions of speakers, and all sorts of literature. To find one metaphorical meaning of a word and take that to be the end all and be all of what the word can mean is highly deceptive. The word group kolaz- kolas- means, without a special context, "punishment", especially in later Greek (cf. Acts 4:21; 2Pet.2:9). The word group aoion, aoionios means, without a special context, "eternal", especially in biblical literature (cf. Rom.1:25; Rev.1:6, etc., etc.).
Picking one passage which is not directly related to the issue at hand and massaging it to make a favorite point is the worst sort of sophistry masquerading as "exegesis". The passages in Revelation 18-19 regarding Babylon are not even speaking about the lake of fire; they are somewhat metaphorical in that they are talking about the punishment of a place (and a place shrouded in mystery at that), and not about the punishment of individuals, men and angels, who have chosen against God. This person is also highly confused (or is deliberately trying to obfuscate) regarding eschatological chronology. The Last Judgment does not occur until the end of history (Rev.20:11-15). When it does, all who have not been resurrected unto life will be resurrected unto death – not lack of consciousness (far from it). Those unbelievers who are "dead" now are conscious – in torments (cf. Lk.16:19ff.).
The language of Matthew 25:46 is very clear: aionion kolasin means "eternal punishment"; that is what the Greek says, that is how all the major versions take it. Not only that, but this "eternal punishment" is in direct and parallel contrast in the same verse to "eternal life". The same word, aionios, is used in both cases. If the punishment is not really "eternal", then neither would the life be. Likewise, if those resurrected unto death are only so "temporarily", that would seem to have to hold for those of us who are resurrected unto life (and we have a better hope than that!). Scripture very clearly teaches eternal punishment for those who willfully reject God (see the link: "Literal Hell"). Teaching the contrary is the worst sort of heresy. The fact that in order to do so, convoluted and deceptive arguments such as these have to be resorted to only proves the point.
If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
He sent this paper regarding Matthew 25:46:
"Presuming that no pain no punishment is good logic, and a first principle of the oracles of God, but which I have shown to be a mere conceit, Mr.. C. turns upon the 'destructionists,' and charges them with incontrovertibly denying the everlasting punishment taught by Jesus in rejecting his dogma! This is certainly quite presumptuous. Destructionists believe what Jesus says about punishment; but they do not believe the tormentists-interpretation of what he said on the subject: nor are they convinced that the opinions of the fire-and-brimstone men are entitled to the same respect as His teaching. In denying the no pain no punishment theory, they do not deny that the 'these' referred to 'shall go away into everlasting punishment'—Matthew 25: 46. They believe they will; and that the punishment will be as permanent as the 'everlasting destruction'—2 Thessalonians 1: 9, and 'second death'—2 Corinthians 2: 15-16; Revelation 20: 14; 21: 8, threatened by Paul and John. But to return to our logician. When shall we get him to stick to the text? He quotes Jesus as saying, 'the wicked' (at the final judgment) 'shall go away into everlasting punishment.' We beg leave to remark that Jesus says no such thing. His words are, 'these shall depart into everlasting punishment.' Mr. C. has substituted 'the wicked' for 'these,' and thrown in parenthetic words fixing the time of going away into punishment at what he calls 'the final judgment.' By the wicked is generally understood all who are not righteous. Though the wicked are unquestionably unrighteous; yet all that are not in a justified state, are not styled wicked in scripture. The 'these' referred to by Jesus are doubtless wicked persons; but they are not 'the wicked' in the popular Gentile sense of all mankind who are not righteous. Hence, the Lord Jesus was not speaking off the punishment of all 'the wicked,' or unrighteous; but only of those who sustain a relation to him in being in some way related to his disciples, whom they allow to suffer from hunger, thirst, desolateness, nakedness, sickness and imprisonment, without attempting to relieve them. They are in fact the 'many who shall say, in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied (or preached) in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then I will profess unto them, I never knew you: Depart from me'—Matthew 7: 22. —Where to? Into the fire mentioned in the twenty-fifth chapter, 'prepared for the devil and his angels;' and why? Because 'ye work iniquity.' These are they who depart into the punishment; and not all the sons of Adam who die in sin, or being sinners. But some one will say, 'if the 'these' be unrighteous professors only, all 'the wicked' in the Gentile sense are certainly comprehended with 'the Devil and his angels' who suffer in the same fire?' I answer, not so. 'The Devil and his Angels' are powers on earth, incarnated in the goat-nations on the King's left hand. They are 'the Beast with the False Prophet, and the Kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war' with Him—Revelation 19: 19-20. Turn to this passage. The reader will there see, that the powers represented by the symbols of 'the Beast' and 'False Prophet,' are to be cast into the same place as 'the Devil and his Angels'—eis teen limneen tou pyros teen kaiomeneen, 'into the lake of the fire being inflamed with brimstone.' That region of the earth where the Powers assemble to contend with the King in war, is the territory which will be converted into a fiery lake by the warfare which is to rage there until the Powers be consumed, with the armies that strengthen them. The Nations from which those armies are drawn, though subject to many calamities, will not be destroyed—Zechariah 14: 16. They will be subdued, when their kings can no more raise armies out of them for battle; and when their conquest is complete, they will joyfully accept the law off the victor, and become blessed in Abraham and his Seed. The horrors of the contest in the lake of fire, the great battle-field of the age—AION—will be awful. The fiery indignation of the Lord, by pestilence and famine, fire and sword—Isaiah 66: 15-16; Zechariah 14: 12, will there devour the adversaries; and thither, to share in 'the terror of the Lord,' will the cursed professors, but not doers, of the word, previously awakened from the dust of the earth, be exiled, and overwhelmed in the torment of the crisis."
I don't quite understand all of this about Matthew 25:46, but I know that Daniel 12:2 says:
And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. That would seem irrefutable since the word everlasting is used for both life and contempt. I just don't understand his interpretation of "punishment" on Matthew 25:46. Does the "these" in Matthew 25:46 refer to all unbelievers? Thanks again.
Yes, I agree entirely with your assessment vis-a-vis Daniel 12. The sheep and the goats judgment of Matthew 25 is the last judgment, and, yes "these" who go into eternal punishment are all of the unbelievers. That is, Matthew 25 relates the same event as Revelation 20:11-15 (although of course the "sheep", that is, the final echelon of the resurrection, are not mentioned there).
You don't have to be a theologian to read Matthew 25 and understand that you don't want to be a goat. Trying to make this group which goes off into "eternal punishment" believers is mind-bogglingly foolish.
I am amazed at the ground-swell lately of supposed Christians who wish to absolve unbelievers of their rejection of Christ. If that were possible, Jesus would have died for nothing (since He then would not have needed to die, if absolution without faith were possible). But I suspect that this is a case of non-Christians and very weak Christians wishing to cover for their own lack of faith and for their own addiction to sin. For if unbelievers are forgiven, then nothing we do here on earth matters (thus unbelief and all bad behavior, no matter how wicked, would be no reason to fear God).
In our Lord Jesus without whose sacrifice we could never have eternal life,