The old site no longer exists and many of the studies on this site may have links to the old site that do not work. Additionally, I have been transferring studies from the old site to this site, and since this is taking a long time, many studies have not yet been transferred to this site. I am endeavoring to rectify these problems as I am able. - Ronald R. Day, Sr.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Hope of Life After Death -- Part 13 John 11:25,26; Ecclesiastes 3:11; 12:7

Examines John 11:25,26; Ecclesiastes 12:7, 3:11; Hebrews 11:13-16; 2 Corinthians 12:2,4; Psalm 16:11; Ezekiel 32:21; Luke 16:9; Revelation 21:27 as related to the condition of the dead.

John 11:25,26

“Jesus said to her: I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he die he will live. Everyone who lives and believes in me will never ever die.'”

The above scripture is often quoted in trying to prove that the dead are not really dead. Do we find anything in John 11:17-26 about the soul surviving the body at death? Not one word. We do find that both Martha and Jesus spoke of the resurrection as occurring in the “last day”. It is in the resurrection “at the last day” that he who lives and believes in Jesus will never die. In the resurrection will be, not only those who believe in the present age, but also those who do not believe at present. “As in Adam all are dying, so in the Messiah all will be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:22) “There will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just [justified] and the unjust [those not justified].” (Acts 24:15) And 2 Thessalonians 1:10 speaks of some who now oppose the truth believing in that day.’ Thus John 11:17-26 produces no evidence whatsoever of the soul surviving death.

Ecclesiastes 12:7

What about Ecclesiastes 12:7? Doesn’t this prove that the righteous go to live with God after they die? No, not at all. In fact, this scripture further supports Ecclesiastes 9:2: “All things come alike to all — there is one eventuality to the righteous and to the wicked, to the good and to the clean, and to the unclean; to him that sacrifices, and to him that does not sacrifice; as is the good, so is the sinner; and he who swears, as he who fears an oath.” And in chapter 2:14 Solomon states: “One eventuality awaits them both”, that is, to both the good and the bad. What is this eventuality? “The dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit (Hebrew, rûwach, Strong’s No. 7307, wind, breath, power) will return to God who gave it.” (Ecclesiastes 12:7) This is the reversal of Genesis 2:7: “And Jehovah God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath (Hebrew, neshâmâh, Strong’s No. 5397, wind, vital breath) of life, and man became a living soul.”

There are several things to note about Ecclesiastes 12:7:

1) It is spoken of all men — not just the righteous. If we should accept the traditional idea concerning this scripture we would also have to believe that the evil doers also go to live with God when they die.

2) It speaks of the spirit returning’ to God. This is complete agreement with the rest of Bible, which tells us that God has given man the spirit of life, so that he could live. If we should accept the traditional view we would also have to be believe that we lived with God before we became living souls. Such is nonsense, however. Adam was not a living soul [being, or person] until God blew into his nostrils the breath of life. (Genesis 2:7) He was not a person before coming to the earth so that he would “return” to God as a person after death. Nowhere is such even hinted in the scriptures.

3) The structure of the sentence indicates that the word “spirit” does not represent life in any form. The spirit (Hebrew, rûwach, Strong’s No. 7307, wind, breath, power) God “gave” to keep us alive is taken away when we die. With this Psalm 146:4 agrees: “His breath (Hebrew, rûwach, Strong’s No. 7307, spirit, wind, breath, power) goes forth, he returns to his earth. In that very day his thoughts perish.”

4) The verse following (Ecclesiastes 12:8) indicates that Solomon is further reiterating the vanity of our present life, which ceases at death. This verse says: “Vanity of vanities,’ says the preacher, all is vanity.’

Ecclesiastes 3:11
“He has set eternity in their heart.”

Another scripture used to try to prove that the soul survives the death of the body is Ecclesiastes 3:11. Again, no mention is made of the soul in this scripture, but only a reference to man’s longing to live forever. The statement that man has eternity in his heart in no wise even implies that the soul is inherently immortal. Most people continue each day, making plans for tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year. He has a sense of perpetual life. God made man to live forever, as he was in the image of God. (Genesis 1:26-31) Had Adam not disobeyed he would have continued to enjoy everlasting life. — Genesis 3:22.

“But,” someone might say, “even if the passage would mean that God has placed in man’s soul the urge to reflect or meditate on whatever happens during the course of time, the main conclusion would be the same, namely, that according to the solution arrived at even by the author of Ecclesiastes, man is not in every respect like the beast.” This, of course, is simply a diversion. It is not out thought, nor do we claim that man is in every respect like the beast. We know of no religious group whatsoever that teaches that Solomon was trying to say that man is “in every respect like the beast.” Thus the very premise of the above argument is meaningless. Nor does the fact that man is not in every respect like the beast prove that man’s soul never dies, or that any part of him continues to live after death.

“Spirits of Just Men Made Perfect”

Many believe Hebrews 11:13-16; 12:23 proves that the dead are not dead. Despite the fact that nowhere in the references is the soul or a continued existence while dead even mentioned, and despite the fact that Hebrews 11:13 says that the faithful ones of old all “died in faith, not having received the promises,” we often find some arguing that they actually reached the heavenly country that God prepared for them. This, however, is not so. Hebrews 11:16 tells us that “now they are stretching themselves for something better, that is, that which is from heaven. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.” Nor are they now living there as alleged immortal “spirits of just men made perfect.” This is a twisting of scripture to suit the traditions of men.

The context of Hebrews 12:23 throws some light on the meaning of this passage. “But you [not the faithful of old] are approaching [Strong’s 4334, to approach, come near] Mt. Zion, and to the city of the living God, Jerusalem from Heaven, and to an unnumbered assembly of angels, to the general assembly and congregation of the first-born, who are written in heaven, to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.” The ones spoken of as “approaching” in this scripture are especially disciples of Jesus. The context indicates that at the end of the age everything that can be shaken will be shaken, so that only that which cannot be shaken will remain. (vs. 27) The unshakable thing will be God’s kingdom, represented by the Mt. Zion from heaven. (vs. 22) The apostle Paul likens the time of its inauguration to the inauguration of the Law Covenant at Mt. Sinai, when all the people heard the thunderings, and the noise of the trumpets, and saw the lightnings and the mountain smoking; and when Moses “drew near to the thick darkness where God was;” and Moses went up into the mountain. All of this was typical — the sealing of the Law Covenant at the hands of the typical mediator – Moses. — Exodus 20:18-22.

The antitype is what we are approaching — what will be reached by all the justified at the end of the age. When the Law Covenant was given, Paul says that God’s “voice then shook the earth.” (vs. 26) Likewise here at the end of the age it will be as he promised: “Yet once more I will shake not only earth but also the heaven.” (vs. 26) When all that can be shaken is removed, then the New Covenant will be become operative towards bringing the world back to the paradise condition. The Mediator will be Jesus the Messiah, as the glorified Head, and the church his body.

All who truly belong to Jesus have been and are approaching to the heavenly Mt. Zion, not necessarily that they would go to heaven, but it is from the heavenly Mt. Zion that the kingdom blessing will flow. This is the same that Peter spoke of: “For according to his promise we are waiting for a new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness will dwell.” At that time the New Jerusalem descends to the earth, and its kingdom fills the whole earth. (Revelation 21:1-3; Daniel 2:35,44,45) Thus we read: “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken.” Eventually all nations will flow to this mountain and war itself will cease. — Isaiah 2:2-4.

The apostle says we are approaching the time when “the spirits of just ones” will be made perfect. It would not be reasonable to suppose that he would first mention the church of the first-borns, including them all and then mention a part of them. Hence we conclude that this phrase refers to another class. The word “spirit” has several meanings, both in Hebrew, Greek and English. One of the meanings is “disposition” or manner of using our energy. Thus we read of the spirit of fear, of love, and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7) As a result of the fall of our race into sin and its condemnation, death, the whole world is unsound, imperfect in spirit. “There is none righteous [perfect, sound], no not one.” (Romans 3:10) Under the coming kingdom arrangements the world will be gradually brought out of its condition of unrighteousness and unsound mind. Eventually, those who come to develop the spirit of love perfectly will be fully justified to live forever. The word “spirits” in Hebrews 12:23 we understand to mean the dispositions of those who receive justification after being resurrected and after they have been made perfect. At that time they will no longer be disposed to fight or make war. “They will learn war no more.” (Isaiah 2:4) These must learn of Jehovah’s ways that their spirits might be changed to the perfect will of God. (Isaiah 2:3) For when Jehovah’s judgments are in the earth, the people will learn righteousness. (Isaiah 26:9) “And those who err in spirit will come to understanding, and those who murmur will accept instruction.” (Isaiah 29:24) It is to these “spirits of the just ones made perfect” that we are now approaching and will eventually reach under the New Covenant to come.

2 Corinthians 12:2,4

Many tell us that heaven and paradise mean the same thing because in 2 Corinthians 12:2,4, because verse 2 says that a certain person was caught up to the “third heaven” and verse 4 says he was caught up to “paradise,” that the heaven and paradise mean the same thing. Not so! Peter outlines the three heavens in 2 Peter 3:5-13. The first heavens and the first earth existed before the flood of Noah’s day. That heavens and earth passed away in the flood of Noah’s day. The present heavens and earth will also pass away, but will be followed by the new heavens and new earth. The “new heavens” of 2 Peter 3:13 corresponds to the “third heaven” of 2 Corinthians 12:2. Likewise, the “paradise” of 2 Corinthians 12:4 corresponds to the “new earth” of 2 Peter 3:13. The paradise (Greek, Strong’s #3857, paradisos, park) spoken of here corresponds to the paradise, park, or garden (Hebrew, Strong’s #1588, gan, garden) of God spoken of at Ezekiel 28:13, where Jehovah speaks to Satan under the symbol of the King of Tyre: “You have been in Eden the paradise of God.” The Edenic paradise of God will be restored as shown in Revelation 2:7. This paradise will be on earth — the new earth — when all things are made new. — Revelation 21:1-5.

Psalm 16:11

To support their claim that the dead are awake and alive, some refer to Psalm 16:11, stating that the redeemed are in heaven experiencing fullness of joy, pleasures forevermore, while they sleep. Psalm 16:11 says no such thing! How well the blind like to be led into blindness! This scripture refers to the resurrection, not immortal soul, of Jesus. (Acts 2:25-33) Since it does not refer to what happens to a believer at the instant of death, it has no bearing on their argument.

Ezekiel 32:21

Another scripture presented to prove that the righteous go to heaven at death and will recognize each other there is Ezekiel 32:21. The strong (el – the mighty) among the mighty [Strong’s 1368 -the powerful nations that previously existed] shall speak [by the voice of history – compare Genesis 4:10] to him [Egypt – vs. 18] out of the midst of hell [sheol – the realm of death]. Again no reference whatsoever about any going to heaven and recognizing each immediately after death.

Luke 16:9

Luke 16:9 refers to the time when Jesus returns and receives his saints unto himself, thus it refers to the resurrection. (John 14:3) It does not refer to any one going to heaven at death.

Revelation 21:27

Some believe that this scripture refers to heaven. But in looking at Revelation 21:27, we do not find any reference to heaven, or those who go to heaven at all. Rather we find that the reference is to the New Jerusalem that comes down from God out of heaven. (Revelation 21:2) The reference is to the establishment of Jehovah’s Kingdom over all the earth, when all nations will learn of Jehovah’s ways and walk in Jerusalem’s light for their own healing. (Revelation 21:24; 22:2; Isaiah 2:1-4) Of course, there will be progress during that thousand-year reign of Jesus, when the nations are judged. But it has nothing to do with being in heaven. It is true that none will be permitted into the holy city condition until he has cleaned himself up, both in mind and actions, to conform to the Kingdom. But the people of the nations who receive the healing will be making progress then, else how could there be any healing of the nations?

God’s Wrath

But some might say: “Love does not exclude wrath for those who stubbornly reject his love.” With this we agree. In fact, we say that God’s wrath remains upon those who have not even had a chance to hear about his love, for all mankind was sentenced under God’s wrath, not to eternal torture, but to death. (John 3:36; Romans 5:18; 6:23; Colossians 3:6; Ephesians 5:3-6) God’s wrath is and has been expressed upon all the world of mankind. At the end of this age, his wrath will be expressed upon all not under the blood of Jesus. (Revelation 15:1) But this wrath is expressed upon the earth, not while a person is dead. (Revelation 16:1) And in the final judgment, his wrath will be expressed upon those who willfully disobey by again returning them to death — the second death from which there is no return. — Revelation 20:15.


Saturday, February 17, 2018

Hope of Life After Death Part 17 - Various Notes.

1. All the instances where neshâmâh appears are as follows: Genesis 2:7; 7:22; Deuteronomy 20:16; Joshua 10:40; 11:11,14; 2 Samuel 22:16; 1 Kings 15:29; 17:17; Job 4:9; 26:4; 27:3; 32:8; 33:4; 34:14; 37:10; Psalm 18:15; 150:6; Proverbs 20:27; Isaiah 2:22; 30:33; 42:5; 57:16; Daniel 10:17. In not one instance does the Bible ever even hint that this word is an entity that lives on after death.

2. ALL TEXTS IN WHICH “SHEOL” IS TRANSLATED “HELL” IN THE KING JAMES VERSION

(1) Amos 9:2.– “Though they dig into <hell,> thence shall mine hand take them.” [A figurative expression; but certainly pits of the earth are the only hells men can <dig> into.]

(2) Psalm 16:10.– “Thou wilt not leave my soul in <hell;> neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.” [This refers to our Lord’s three days in the tomb.–Acts 2:31; 3:15.]

(3,4) Psalm 18:5 and 2 Sam. 22:6–margin.– “The cords of <hell> compassed me about.” [A figure in which trouble is represented as hastening one to the tomb.]

(5) Psalm 55:15.– “Let them go down quick into <hell”> –margin, “the grave.”

(6) Psalm 9:17.– “The wicked shall be turned into <hell,> and all the nations that forget God.”

(7) Psalm 86:13.– “Thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest <hell”>–margin, “the grave.”

(8) Psalm 116:3.– “The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of <hell> gat hold upon me.” [Sickness and trouble are the figurative hands of the grave to grasp us.]

(9) Psalm 139:8.– “If I make my bed in <hell,> behold, thou art there.” [God’s power is unlimited: even over those in the tomb he can and will exert it and bring forth all that are in the graves.–John 5:28.]

(10) Deuteronomy 32:22.– “For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn into the lowest <hell.”> [A figurative representation of the destruction, the utter ruin, of Israel as a nation–“wrath to the uttermost,” as the Apostle called it, God’s anger burning that nation to the “lowest <deep,”> as Leeser here translates the word <sheol.>–1 Thessalonians 2:16.]

(11) Job 11:8.– “It [God’s wisdom] is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than <hell> [than any pit]; what canst thou know?”

(12) Job 26:6.– “<Hell> [the tomb] is naked before him, and destruction hath no covering.”

(13) Proverbs 5:5.– “Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on <hell [i.e.,> lead to the grave].”

(14) Proverbs 7:27.– “Her house is the way to <hell> [the grave], going down to the chambers of death.”

(15) Proverbs 9:18.– “He knoweth not that the dead are there, and that her guests are in the depths of <hell.”> [Here the harlot’s guests are represented as dead, diseased or dying, and many of the victims of sensuality in premature graves from diseases which also hurry off their posterity to the tomb.]

(16) Proverbs 15:11.– “<Hell> and destruction are before the Lord.” [Here the <grave> is associated with <destruction> and not with a life of torment.]

(17) Proverbs 15:24.– “The path of life (leadeth) upward for the wise, that he may depart from <hell> beneath.” [This illustrates the hope of resurrection from the tomb.]

(18) Proverbs 23:14.– “Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from <hell” [i.e.,> wise correction will save a child from vicious ways which lead to premature death, and may also possibly prepare him to escape the “<Second Death.>”

(19) Proverbs 27:20.– “<Hell> [the grave] and destruction are never full: so the eyes of man are never satisfied.”

(20) Isaiah 5:14.– “Therefore <hell> hath enlarged herself and opened her mouth without measure.” [Here the <grave> is a symbol of <destruction.]>

(21,22) Isaiah 14:9,15.– “<Hell> [margin, grave] from beneath is moved for thee, to meet thee at thy coming.” …”Thou shalt be brought down to <hell”> [the grave–so rendered in verse 11].

(23) Isaiah 57:9.– “And didst debase thyself even unto <hell.”> [Here figurative of <deep> degradation.]

(24,25) Ezekiel 31:15-17.– “In the day when he went down to the grave,…I made the nations to shake at the sound of his fall, when I cast him down to <hell> with them that descend into the pit…. They also went down into <hell> with him, unto them that be slain with the sword.” [Figurative and prophetic description of the fall of Babylon into destruction, silence, the grave.]

(26) Ezekiel 32:21.– “The strong among the mighty shall speak to him out of the midst of <hell> with them that help him.” [A continuation of the same figure representing Egypt’s overthrow as a nation to join Babylon in <destruction>–buried.]

(27) Ezekiel 32:27.– “And they shall not lie with the mighty that are fallen of the uncircumcised, which are gone down to <hell> with their weapons of war: and they have laid their swords under their heads; but their iniquities shall be upon their bones, though they were the terror of the mighty in the land of the living.” [The grave is the only “hell” where fallen ones are buried and lie with their weapons of war under their heads.]

(28) Habbakuk 2:5.– “Who enlargeth his desire as <hell> [the grave] and as death, and cannot be satisfied.”

(29) Jonah 2:1,2.– “Then Jonah prayed unto the Lord his God, out of the fish’s belly, and said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the Lord, and he heard me; out of the belly of <hell> cried I, and thou heardest my voice.” [The belly of the fish was for a time his <grave>–see margin.]

(30,31) Isaiah 28:15-18.– “Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell [the grave] are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us, for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves: Therefore, saith the Lord, …Your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with <hell> [the grave] shall not stand.” [God thus declares that the present prevalent idea, by which death and the grave are represented as friends, rather than enemies, shall cease; and men shall learn that death is the <wages of sin,> now and that it is in Satan’s power (Romans 6:23; Hebrews 2:14) and not an angel sent by God.]

ALL OTHER TEXTS WHERE “SHEOL” OCCURS–RENDERED “GRAVE” AND “PIT.”

Genesis 37:35.– “I will go down into the <grave> unto my son.”

Genesis 42:38.– “Then shall ye bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the <grave.”> [See also the same expression in 44:29,31. The translators did not like to send God’s servant, Jacob, to <hell> simply because his sons were evil.]

1 Samuel 2:6.– “The Lord killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the <grave,> and bringeth up.”

1 Kings 2:6,9.– “Let not his hoar head go down to the <grave> with peace….His hoar head bring thou down to the <grave> with blood.”

Job 7:9.– “He that goeth down to the <grave.”>

Job 14:13.– “Oh, that thou wouldst hide me in the <grave,> that thou wouldst keep me secret until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldst appoint me a set time, and remember me [resurrect me]!”

Job 17:13.– “If I wait, the <grave> is mine house: I have made my bed in the darkness.” [Job waits for resurrection–“in the morning.”]

Job 17:16.– “They shall go down to the bars of the <pit> [grave], when our rest together is in the dust.”

Job 21:13.– “They spend their days in mirth, and in a moment go down to the <grave.”>

Job 24:19,20.– “Drought and heat consume the snow waters: so doth the <grave> those which have sinned.” [All have sinned, hence “Death passed upon all men,” and all go down to the <grave.> But all have been redeemed by “the precious blood of Christ”; hence all shall be awakened and come forth again in God’s due time–“in the morning,” Rom. 5:12,18,19.]

Psalm 6:5.– “In death there is no remembrance of thee; in the <grave> who shall give thee thanks?”

Psalm 30:3.– “O Lord, thou hast brought up my soul from the <grave:> thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.” [This passage expresses gratitude for recovery from danger of death.]

Psalm 31:17.– “Let the wicked be ashamed; let them be silent in the <grave.”>

Psalm 49:14,15, margin.– “Like sheep they are laid in the <grave:> death shall feed on them; and the upright [the saints–Dan. 7:27] shall have dominion over them in the morning [the Millennial morning]; and their beauty shall consume, the <grave> being an habitation to every one of them. But God will redeem my soul from the power of the <grave.”>

Psalm 88:3.– “My life draweth nigh unto the <grave.”>

Psalm 89:48.– “Shall he deliver his soul from the hand of the <grave?”>

Psalm 141:7.– “Our bones are scattered at the <grave’s> mouth.”

Proverbs 1:12.– “Let us swallow them up alive as the <grave:> and whole, as those that go down into the pit” [<i.e.,> as of an earthquake, as in Num. 16:30-33].

Proverbs 30:15,16.– “Four things say not, it is enough: the <grave,”> etc.

Ecclesiastes 9:10.– “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the <grave,> whither thou goest.”

Song of Solomon 8:6.– “Jealousy is cruel as the <grave.”>

Isaiah 14:11.– “Thy pomp is brought down to the <grave.”>

Isaiah 38:10.– “I shall go to the gates of the <grave:> I am deprived of the residue of my years.”

Isaiah 38:18.– “The <grave> cannot praise thee, death cannot celebrate thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth.”

Numbers 16:30-33.– “If…they go down quick into the <pit,> then shall ye understand….The ground clave asunder that was under them, and the earth opened her mouth and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods. They and all that appertained to them went down alive into the <pit,> and the earth closed upon them: and they perished from among the congregation.”

Ezekiel 31:15.– “In the day when he went down to the <grave.”>

Hosea 13:14.– “I will ransom them from the power of the <grave;> I will redeem them from death. O death, I will be thy plagues; O <grave,> I will be thy destruction. Repentance shall be hid from mine eyes.” [The Lord did not ransom any from a place of fire and torment, for there is no such place; but he did ransom all mankind from the <grave,> from <death,> the penalty brought upon all by Adam’s sin, as this verse declares.]

The above list includes every instance of the use of the English word “hell” and the Hebrew word <sheol> in the Old Testament. From this examination it must be evident to all readers that God’s revelations for four thousand years contain not a single hint of a “hell,” such as the word is now understood to signify.

3. ALL PLACES WHERE THE WORD “HADES” APPEARS IN THE GREEK NEW TESTAMENT: Matthew 11:23; 16:18; Luke 10:15; 16:23; Acts 2:27,31; 1 Corinthians 15:55; Revelation 1:18; 6:8; 20:13,14.

4. The scriptures nowhere speak of “disembodied existence”, "disembodied spirits", or "disemobied souls", etc.

Hope of Life After Death Part 16 – Spirits in Prison, Lake of Fire, Tormented Day and Night

Some might ask: If, as you say, Jesus was not in a place of fiery torture while he was dead, why do the scriptures say that he preached to the spirits in prison while he was dead? The scripture being inquired about is in 1 Peter 3:19, which reads in the King James Version: “By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison.” If we read the context we will note several things.

First, Peter is not talking about spirits of dead people supposedly being tortured in flaming fires. Verse 20 continues: “Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.” According to this next verse, we could reason two different ways: 1- That the spirits in prison that Jesus preached to were the humans that died in the flood of Noah’s day; or 2- That these spirits were the spirit creatures (angels) that disobeyed God before the flood in Noah’s day.

The latter, however, is the only explanation that would fit with the entire testimony of the scriptures. In Jude 1:6 we read that these angels did not keep their first estate. In 2 Peter 2:4, Peter says that these angels were “cast into hell” and restrained in chains of darkness until the day of judgment. The expression, “cast into hell,” is translated from one Greek word, tartaroo. This expression has nothing whatsoever to do with the Jesus’ soul in sheol. These angels who disobeyed are spoken of in Genesis 6:2: “That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.” At that time God permitted these angels to take on the form of men and marry and have children.

Since the flood of Noah’s day only the obedient angels have been permitted at times to take on the form of men, as in Judges 13:3-20, where an angel of Jehovah appeared to the mother and father of Samson. They thought they were talking to a man, but it was an angel, because he ascended in the flame of the altar and disappeared. Likewise, we read in Genesis 18:2-19;25, when Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw three men coming to him, and he greeted them, he made them welcome, and prepared a meal, and they ate and talked with Abraham. Paul, mentioning them, said that we should not forget to entertain strangers, because some had entertained angels without knowing it. (Hebrews 13:2) He is referring to exactly what Abraham did when he entertained those angels without knowing they were angels. They appeared as men, and they were men to all intents and purposes until they had performed their work, and then they left the form of man and returned to the spirit realm. So just as the angels of Jehovah appeared to Abraham, ate with him, and talked with him, and had all the functions of men, just so with the angels prior to the flood. All the angels had this power, and not merely the good angels, for they were all originally good. But some of God’s angels disobeyed God, left their original estate as angels, and took on the form of men. They preferred not only to take the human form to appear to man, but preferred to live as human beings. They left their habitation, the spirit realm, and lived as men in the world, and they had wives. They raised families. Their children were spoken of as “men of renown.” They were gigantic in size. God saw that the whole earth was being corrupted by the influence of these disobedient angels. The imagination of the human mind was evil, and only evil, and that continually. Therefore God said: “I will destroy man from the face of the earth.” “The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth.” (Genesis 6:7,13) So Jehovah destroyed those giants as well as all mankind, save Noah and his wife, his two sons and their wives.

So Peter and Jude tell us that those angels who sinned at that time were sentenced by God. They were restrained in chains — not literal chains, but chains of darkness, so that they could not take the form of man, so that they could not come out during the day. These demons, or disobedient angels, had been cast out by Jehovah from his realm of light into a realm of spiritual darkness. Today, as in the days of Jesus, these demons are still not permitted to take on the form of man. So they do the next best thing: they take possession of human bodies. They get into a person’s body in order to continue themselves in their desires to live as humans, and in so doing they continue themselves as servants of the original serpent, Satan the Devil. We read that on one a occasion, there was a legion of these demons in one man. They said: “My name is Legion, for we are many.” God has given all of us will whereby we may resist these intrusions. These demons are working more actively today than ever before. They represent themselves as being “ghosts”, “disembodied spirits”, “aliens from other planets”, and they even possess a person when he is a near-death condition, giving them “visions” of “heaven”, “hell”, “Paradise”, “Jesus”, “Mohammed”, “Buddha”, or whatever else a person might have a tendency to believe in. They know all about people who have died, so they can easily impersonate a dead person. Likewise, they can give persons all sorts of visions, or false “memories” about things that never really happened, or of another person’s life hundreds or even thousands of years before you were born. All of this activity is happening in order to keep people from looking into the truth about the only way provided by Jehovah to come to him, that is, through his Son, Jesus.

This brings us to the second thing to be noticed in Peter’s words in 1 Peter 3:18-21. Peter does not say that Jesus preached to the spirits in Sheol or in Hades. Nor does he say that he preached to them while he was in Hades. Rather he says that this preaching to these spirits in prison occurred in this manner: “Because Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring you to God; being put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; in which he also went and preached to the spirits in prison.” (verses 18,19, World English Bible translation) By this we can definitely say that while Jesus was a spirit being after his resurrection, he went and preached to the spirits in prison. However, it could also be that Peter is saying that by means of all these things that he had just spoken of, Jesus went and preached to the spirits in prison. That is, while he was suffering in the form of a man, he went and preached to the spirits in prison, and after his resurrection as a spirit being, when he, as a spirit being, took the form of man, he preached to the spirits in prison. Viewed from this standpoint, everything Jesus did while he went upon the earth, even his death and resurrection, was a preaching to the demons. Not only this, he at times directly preached to demons when he expelled them from demon-possessed people. (Luke 4:33-36; 8:27-33; Matthew 4:24) These demons knew that Jesus had left the glory he had before and had humbled himself and become a man. They watched as he died and they saw that, unlike themselves, even until his death, he remained in obedience to his Father, Jehovah. Then they watched as Jesus’ Father raised him from the dead. It spoke a great sermon to these fallen angels. It was a wonderful lesson he was preaching, not necessarily by words, but actions. He preached by his obedience to his Father’s will. After his resurrection these fallen angels saw all power in heaven and earth given to Jesus. (Matthew 28:18) They saw that his Father again permitted him to take the form of man, that is to have a body of flesh and bones, as they, being “fallen” spirits could not do. (Luke 24:37-43) They saw that God had rewarded him for obedience, and they realized that God had punished them for their disobedience. Whether there was any additional personal preaching to the spirits in prison sometime after Jesus was raised from the dead, the Bible does not say.

Why did Jesus preach to the spirits in prison? If God, in his mercy, did so much as to have his only-begotten Son to leave his estate and take on the form of man, not to take on the life of humans, but give up his human life for all the human race, could he not be making a similar provision for the deliverance of any fallen angels that would wish to return to him? That intimation is given by the apostle Paul when he says that not only will the church judge mankind, but also, “Know ye not that we shall judge angels?” (1 Corinthians 6:3) The saints will not judge the holy angels. They will not need judging. The angels that will need judging will be the fallen angels. Just how the saints will do this is not given in the scriptures, but the apostle Paul’s words are there and must mean something. It is possible that some of the fallen angels would repent and return to God, if given the opportunity to do so. But we have no reason to think that many of them are in this condition of repentance. All through this present evil world these demons have been fighting hard, and the apostle tells us of doctrines of devils, doctrines of demons, that have troubled the whole world. You will find the demonic doctrines to all the popular religions of the world. If you go to any popular religious group whether claiming to be Christian or other you will find that all believe practically the same thing in at least one of the major lies by which Satan is deceiving the whole world. The major lie is that creature worship and disobedience do not result in death — that when you die you are not really dead (as a result of disobedience and creature worship). (Genesis 3:4,5; Revelation 9:20; 12:9; 13:4,8,12; 14:9,11) However, even if the preaching done by Jesus only served as an announcement to these fallen angels that they could have been obedient, even as he was, with no offer of repentance, it would still be within the scope of the scripture cited. In any case, the scripture does not say that Jesus was alive and preaching to human souls eternally lost in Hades (Sheol). Such would be completely out of harmony with the rest of Bible which assures us that those in Sheol/Hades cannot reason, think, or plan, etc. — Ecclesiastes 9:10.

In conclusion, we hope that all our readers will realize the times in which we are living, that now we have opportunity to “wash our robes in the blood’s lamb” that we may present ourselves “spotless” for service in God’s temple before the throne. The culmination of the great tribulation is before us. The hope of being hidden during and coming out of the great tribulation to receive everlasting life in the glorious earthly realm of Jehovah’s kingdom is a distinct possibility. (Revelation 7:9-17; Zephaniah 2:3) If you have not already done so, we urge all our readers to exercise faith in Christ for justification now (Romans 5:1), to let our minds be transformed by the holy spirit “that you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2). If we do this, carefully avoiding Satan’s snares in this time of the end, you may live right into the time of the “new heavens and new earth” when the holy city will extend its rulership to the earth, permitting you to serve in the temple before the throne of God. Then “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4; 7:17) What a glorious prospect!

The Lake of Fire

The “lake of fire” is several times mentioned in the book of Revelation, which all Christians admit to be a book of symbols. However, they generally think and speak of this particular symbol as a literal statement giving strong support to the eternal torment doctrine, notwithstanding the fact that the symbol is clearly defined as meaning the second death: “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death”, etc. (Revelation 20:14) It is sometimes spoken of as “a lake of fire burning with brimstone” (Revelation 19:20), the element brimstone being mentioned to intensify the symbol of destruction, the second death. Burning brimstone is one of the most deadly elements known. It is destructive to all forms of life.

We are also told that hell (hades/sheol), as well as death (Adamic death — 1 Corinthians 15:21,22), will be cast into the lake of fire. Does this mean that hell (hades/sheol) is to be tormented forever? No, but rather it means that “death will be no more.” (Revelation 21:4) Hades and Adamic death will be destroyed by being cast into the lake of fire.

The symbolism of this lake of fire is further shown by the fact that the symbolic “beast” and the symbolic “false prophet,” and death and hell [hades], as well as the devil and his followers, are destroyed in it. — Revelation 19:20; 20:10,14,15; 21:8.

This destruction or death is called the “second death” in contradistinction to the first or Adamic death. It does not signify that everything that goes into it dies a second time. For instance, death (the first or Adamic death), and hades, the realm of death inherited from Adam, are to be cast into it. In no sense will they ever have been destroyed before. So also “the devil,” “the beast,” and “the false prophet,” will never have been destroyed before.

From the first, or Adamic death, a resurrection has been provided. All that are in their graves will therefore come forth. The Revelator prophetically declares: “The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and hades gave up the dead that were in them. . . . And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God, and the books were opened.” (Revelation 20:13,12) It was in view of God’s plan for redeeming the race from Adamic death that in both the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures it is called a “sleep.” In Israel’s history of the good and the wicked it is repeatedly stated that they “slept with their fathers.” The apostles used the same symbol, and our Lord also. But no such symbol is used in reference to the second death. On the contrary, the strongest figures of total and utter destruction are used to symbolize it, that is, “fire and brimstone.” That will be a destruction from which there will be no recovery.

Blessed thought! the Adamic death, which claimed the whole race for the sin of their progenitor, will be forever swallowed up, and will cease in this second death into which it is to be cast by the great Redeemer who bought the whole world with the sacrifice of himself. Thus God tells us through the prophet: “I will ransom them from the power of Sheol. I will redeem them from death. . . . O Sheol, I will be your destruction.” (Hosea 13:14) The first or Adamic death will no longer have liberty or power over men, as it has had for the past six thousand years; no longer will any die for Adam’s sin. (Romans 5:12; Jeremiah 31:29,30; Ezekiel 18:2) From that time onward the new covenant, sealed with the precious blood, will be in force, and only willful transgressions will be counted as sin and punished with the wages of sin — death — the second death. Thus will the Adamic death be cast into and swallowed up by the second death.

And hades and sheol — the dark, secret realm of death, which in the present time speaks to us of a hope of future life by God’s resurrection power in Christ — will be no more. The second death will devour no being fit for life — none for whom there remains a shadow of hope, but such only as, by the unerring Judge, have been fully, impartially and individually found worthy of destruction. And Satan, that lying tempter who deceived and ruined the race, and who with persistent energy and cunning has sought to continually thwart the purpose of Jehovah for our salvation through Christ, and with him all who are of his spirit, “his angels,” will be destroyed, and will never awake from death to trouble the world again. Here he is said to be cast into the “lake of fire,” the second death. The apostle Paul in Hebrews 2:14, referring to the same thing, calls it destruction: “that he might destroy death, and him that has the power of death, that is, the devil.” And “the beast and the false prophet” the great false systems that have long oppressed and misled nominal Christendom and the world, will never escape from it. These systems are said to be cast “alive,” that is, while they are still organized and operative, into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. — Revelation 19:20.

The great tribulation will undoubtedly cause great social, financial and religious difficulty and pain to all those identified with these deceived and deceiving systems, before they are utterly destroyed. These systems will be cast in, destroyed, at the beginning of the Millennium, while Satan’s destruction is reserved until its close, when all the “goats” will have been separated from the “sheep,” and the “goats” will perish with Satan in the second death as “his angels,” messengers or servants. None of those abominable individuals among men, who, knowing the truth, yet love unrighteousness — none of the “the fearful and unbelieving” — those who will trust Jehovah after all the manifestations of His grace afforded during the Millennial reign of Christ — nor the abominable, who, at heart are fornicators, murderers, idolaters, sorcerers and liars; none of these will escape the second death, to defile the earth again. All such after a full and abundant opportunity for reformation will be judged unworthy of life, and will be forever cut off in the second death, symbolized by the lake of fire and brimstone.

Several prophetic pen pictures of the Millennial age and its work, in chapters 20 and 21 of Revelation, clearly show the object and result of the age of trial, in harmony with the remainder of the scriptures we have already noted.

Chapter 20, verses 2,4,11 with verses 1,2,10,11 of chapter 21, show the beginning of that age of judgment, and the restraining of blinding errors and misleading systems. The “beast” and the “false prophet” are the chief symbols, and represent the political elements of Satan’s empire. This judgment against the “thrones” of the present time, and against “the beast and the false prophet” systems follows speedily upon the introduction of this Millennial judgment reign. The thrones of the present dominion of earth will be “cast down,” and dominion transferred to the great prophet, priest, King and Judge, “whose right it is.” (Compare Daniel 7:14,22; Ezekiel 21:27) Then the systems of error will be speedily judged worthy of destruction, “the lake of fire,” “the second death.” — Revelation 19:20.

Thus the second destruction or death begins quite early in the new Judgment: it begins with the false systems symbolized by the Beast, False Prophet, etc., but will not reach the world of mankind, as individuals, until they have first had a full trial, with full opportunity to choose life and live forever. Chapters 20:12,13, and 21:3-7 indicate the blessed, favorable trial in which all, both dead and living (except Church, who, with Jesus Christ, are kings, priests, joint-heirs, princes and judges), will be brought to a full knowledge of the truth, relieved from sorrow and pain, and freed from every blinding error and prejudice, and tried “according to their works.”

The grand outcome of that trial will be a clean universe. As the Revelator expresses it: “Every creature which is heaven and on earth . . . I heard saying: `Blessing and honor and glory and power be unto him that sits on the throne, and to the Lamb forever.” (Revelation 5:13) But this result will be accomplished in harmony with all God’s dealings past and present, which have always recognized man’s freedom of will to choose good or evil, life or death.

We cannot doubt then that in the close of the Millennial age, God will again for a “little season” permit evil to triumph, in order to test his creatures (who will by that time have become thoroughly acquainted with both good and evil, and the consequence of each, and will have had Jehovah’s justice and love fully demonstrated to them), that those who finally prefer and choose evil may be cut off — destroyed. Thus God will for all eternity remove all who do not love righteousness and hate iniquity.

We read, regarding that testing, that Satan will endeavor to lead astray all mankind, whose numbers will then be as the sand of the sea for multitude; but that many of them will follow Satan’s evil example and choose evil and disobedience, with past experience before them, and unhampered by present weaknesses and blinding influences, we need not suppose. However, when God does not tell us either the number or the proportion of those to be found worthy of life, and those to be judged worthy of death (the second death), we may not dogmatize. Of one thing we may be confident, God does not desire the death of the wicked, but would that all should turn to him and live; and no one will be destroyed in that “lake of fire and brimstone” (figurative of utter destruction — Gehenna) who is worthy of life, whose living longer would be a blessing to himself or to others in harmony with righteousness.

Utter and hopeless destruction is intended only for willful evildoers, who, like Satan, in pride of heart and rebellion against God, will love and do evil notwithstanding the manifestations of God’s disapproval, and notwithstanding their experience with its penalties. Seemingly the goodness and love of God in the provision of a ransom, a restoration, and an opportunity of life for those individuals who had none in this life instead of leading all to an abhorrence of sin, will lead some to suppose that they have a right to rule themselves aside from Jehovah. Thus they use the grace of Jehovah as a license for open and willful rebellion. But they will go no further, for their folly will be made manifest. Their utter destruction will prove to the righteous the harmony and perfect balance of Justice, Wisdom, Love and Power in the Divine Ruler.

Revelation 21:8

The true character of the goat class is portrayed. “The fearful and unbelieving [who will not trust God], the abominable, murderers [brother-haters], fornicators, sorcerers, idolaters [such as misappropriate and misuse divine favors, who give to self or any other creature or thing that service and honor which belongs exclusively to Jehovah], and all liars” — “whosoever love and makes a lie” [in a word, all who do not love the truth and seek it, and at any cost defend and uphold it] “will have their part in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone [Gehenna, symbol of eternal destruction], which is the second death.” Such company would be repulsive to any honest, upright being. It is hard to tolerate them now, when we can sympathize with them, knowing that such dispositions are now in great measure the result of inherited weakness of the flesh. We are moved to a measure of sympathy by the remembrance that in our own case, often, we would do good, evil is present with us. But in the case of the Millennial judgment, when the Master, the righteous Judge, will have every advantage and opportunity of knowledge and ability, this class will be an abhorrence and detestation to all who are in harmony with the King of Glory. And the righteous will be glad when, the trial being ended, the gift of life of which these will have proved themselves unworthy, will be taken from them, and when the corrupters of the earth, and all their work and influence will be destroyed.

The Devil, the Beast and the False Prophet Tormented

Revelation 20:9 tells of the destruction of those individuals who join with Satan in the last rebellion; and verse 15 tells of that same destruction in other words, using the symbol “lake of fire.” They are devoured or consumed in fire. This being the case, the torment of verse 10 cannot refer to these humans who are consumed, destroyed. Hence the question narrows down to this: “Will Satan and a false prophet and a beast be tortured forever? Does this verse teach this?”

We answer in God’s own words: “All the wicked will he destroy.” (Psalm 145:20) Concerning Satan, the arch enemy of God and man, God expressly tells us that he will be destroyed, and not preserved in any sense or condition. — Hebrews 2:14.

The beast and false prophet systems, which during the Gospel Age have deceived and led astray, will be cast into a great consuming trouble in the close of this Gospel Age. The “torment” of these systems will be aionian, that is, lasting. The systems, as such, will be destroyed at the end of this age. The system of error that will suddenly manifest itself at the end of the Millennial Age and lead the “goats” to destruction, will also be consumed. (Revelation 20:7-10) Thus here Satan is added to the false prophet and the beast and is said to be “tormented day and night forever and ever.” (Revelation 20:10) Recognizing that the beast and the false prophets are symbols for systems, we see that no humans are said to be so “tormented day and night forever and ever.” The lake of fire, we have seen, simply means the second death. Thus what does this “torment” consist of?

Let us examine the Greek word used here, basanizo, Strong’s #928. Its root is Strong’s #931, basanos. Strong gives the meaning of #928 as “torture.” However, he gives its root the following meaning: “a touch-stone, i.e. (by anal.) torture.” Related to this is Strong’s #929, basanismos, which Strong defines as torture. According to Vine #931 means “primarily `a touchstone,’ employed in testing metals”; then he adds to this: “hence, `torment,’ is used (a) of physical diseases, Matt. 4:24: (b) of a condition of retribution in Hades Luke 16:23, 28.” Regarding basanizo (#928), Vine states that it “properly signifies `to test by rubbing on the touchstone’ (basanos, `a touchstone’), then, `to question by applying torture’; hence `to vex, torment’; in the passive voice, `to be harassed, distressed’; it is said of men struggling in a boat against wind and waves, Matt. 14:24, RV, `distressed’ (KJV, `tossed’); Mark 6:48, RV, `distressed’ (KJV, `toiling’)” According to A New Greek and English Lexicon, by George Dunbar, A.M.,F.R.S.E. basanosmeans: “Literally — to put to the touchstone, to put to the proof. To try, prove, examine carefully, investigate carefully, investigate closely. To torture in order to discover the truth.” The New Testament Greek Lexicon based on Thayer’s and Smith’s Bible Dictionary gives the following meanings: “1. to test (metals) by the touchstone, which is a black siliceous stone used to test the purity of gold or silver by the colour of the streak produced on it by rubbing it with either metal 2. to question by applying torture 3. to torture 4. to vex with grievous pains (of body or mind), to torment 5. to be harassed, distressed a. of those who at sea are struggling with a head wind”
http://www.studylight.org/lex/grk/view.cgi?number=928

What does all of the above mean? It simply means that basanizo, as used in Revelation 20:10, is the verb form of basanos, literally “touchstoned” or “used as a touchstone.” A touchstone is defined as: “1. A fine-grained dark stone formerly used to test the fines of gold and silver by the color of the streak made on the stone. 2. A criterion or standard by which the qualities of something are tested.” (Funk & Wagnalls) Thus the beast, false prophet and Satan the Devil, as symbols, will be used as a touchstone for all eternity, a striking tool by which to contrast Jehovah’s righteous kingdom as opposed to the kingdoms of this present evil world. All creation will look upon the works of the beast, false prophet and the serpent as a reminder never to return to such an arrangement again.
Revelation 19:3, speaking of a system described as Babylon the Great, “the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth,” (Revelation 17:5) says, “Her smoke rose up forever and ever.” That is to say, the remembrance (“smoke”) of the destruction of these systems of deception and error will be lasting, the lesson will never be forgotten–as smoke, which continues to ascend after a destructive fire, is testimony that the fire has done its work. — See also Isaiah 34:8-10.

Of Revelation 14:9-11 we remark, incidentally, that all will at once concede that if a literal worshipping of a beast and image were meant in verse 9, then few, if any, in civilized lands are liable to the penalty of verse 11. In other words, who would be deceived by a literal beast with seven heads and ten horns coming out the sea? (Revelation 13:1); and if the beast, his image, wine and cup are symbols, so also would be the “torments”, and smoke and fire and brimstone.

The casting of death and hades into eternal destruction, the Second death, during the Millennial age, is a part of the utter destruction which will include every improper, injurious and useless thing. (Isaiah 11:9; Psalm 101:5-8) The Second death, the sentence of that individual trial, will be final: it will never be destroyed. And let all the lovers of righteousness say, Amen; for to destroy the Second Death, to remove the sentence of that just and impartial trial, would be to let loose again not only Satan, but all who love and practice wrong and deception, and who dishonor Jehovah with their evil institutions–to oppose, offend and endeavor to overthrow those who love and desire to serve him and enjoy his favor. We rejoice that there is no danger of this, but that divine justice unites with divine wisdom, love and power, to bring in everlasting righteousness on a permanent basis.

Hope of Life After Death Part 15 – Undying Worms; Quenchless Fires

“And they shall go forth and look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.” — Isaiah 66:24, King James Version

“It is good for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell [Gehenna]; where their worm dieth not and their fire is not quenched.” — Mark 9:48, King James Version.

There have been several different ideas presented related to Jesus' statement. One popular assertion amongst many who believe that Jesus was speaking of eternal torture is that the "undying worm" is speaking of a person's alleged "immortal soul." They often claim that the soul does not die, although the Bible never presents such an idea, and actually states the very opposite, that is, that the soul does die, as we have seen in an earlier study. Nevertheless, they would have it that Jesus is speaking of the "immortal worm" of a person whose body has died. 

The figure here used by the prophet and by our Master, represents the utter destruction of the second death. We say figure, because it must be evident to the surface reader even, that there are no immortal worms and that a fire that would burn ceaseless is not conceivable.

While many either ignorantly or willfully confuse the Bible hell (sheol/hades) with Gehenna (rendered as "hell" or "hell-fire" in the King James Version), we need to note that Jesus is speaking figuratively. As explained earlier, Gehenna is the Greek name for a valley outside Jerusalem called in Hebrew, “The valley of Hinnom.” In Jesus’ day it was the place of depositing the offal, garbage, carcasses and filth in general. In it fires of sulphur were kept burning to destroy the carcasses and thus prevent infection and pestilence. Sometimes a carcass would lodge upon a ledge of rock and not fall into the fires and then the maggots or worms would surely consume it. None were permitted to quench or extinguish those fires and hence they burned until the substance was annihilated.

Jesus, however, was not speaking literally of anyone being thrown into the literal valley outside of Jerusalem. He is using that valley and its fires kept burning with brimstone, and the worms of that valley, figuratively as an illustration.


It became customary to cast the “carcasses” [dead bodies] of criminals of certain classes into that Valley of Hinnom or Gehenna, instead of giving them a decent burial. Nothing was ever cast alive into Gehenna; the Jews were not permitted to torture any creature. Thus Gehenna came to be noted and detested and dreaded as an extreme of punishment. To be “cast into Gehenna” thus became a synonym for utter and hopeless destruction, the opinion prevailing that those decently buried would be resurrected, but those destroyed in Gehenna were blotted out of existence forever.

With this idea already in the minds of his hearers, how appropriate that our Lord should use Gehenna as a symbol or figure for the second death, the utter and final destruction of all the incorrigible; a destruction sure and detestable among the filth and offscourings of the new order of things. Jerusalem itself was a figure or symbol of the kingdom of God, the New Jerusalem. Gehenna or the valley of destruction was an appropriate figure of the second death, the utter extermination of all things abominable and filthy in the close of the Millennial Age. — Revelation 22:14,15.

Isaiah’s remarks point us down into the future to a time when the new heavens and the new earth are fully established (verse 22) under the Prince of Glory, when full knowledge and ability having come, all transgressors will be consigned to the second death, the anti-type of Gehenna, and when only the righteous will live to serve and obey and enjoy God’s blessings. The all such will see the justice as well as the wisdom of the utter destruction of the incorrigible, willful enemies of righteousness. As it is written: “They will be an abhorrence to all flesh.” — Isaiah 66:24.

Hope of Life After Death Part 12 - Ecclesiastes 9:10; Matthew 17:2,3; 22:32; 2 Corinthians 5:8; Philippians 1:23

Hope of Life After Death Part 12 - Ecclesiastes 9:10; Matthew 17:2,3; 22:32; 2 Corinthians 5:8; Philippians 1:23

Does Ecclesiastes 9:5,10 give an accurate description of the Bible hell, and the condition of the dead?

Ecclesiastes 9:10

We have seen that Bible, from beginning to end, portrays man’s hope of future life after death in the resurrection. Job prayed: “Grant that in Sheol you would hide me until your anger is past, that you would set a time for me, and remember me.” (Job 14:13) This corresponds with what Jesus stated as recorded in John 5:28,29: “Do not be surprised at this, for the hour is coming when the dead will leave their graves at the sound of his voice: those who did good will forth to life; and those who did evil will come forth to judgement.” Paul states: “If there is no resurrection of the dead, neither has Christ been raised.”, and he continues: “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain, and your faith also is in vain. Then they also who are fallen asleep in Christ have perished.” (1 Corinthians 15:13,17,18, World English) Thus Paul considered the resurrection as the only hope of life after death.

We have set forth the basic scriptures pertaining to life after death. The scriptures show that until the resurrection takes place in the last day, both good and bad go to Sheol, the realm of death, or the condition of being dead. “Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha said to him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.'” (John 6:40; 11:23,24, World English) Sheol is described in Ecclesiastes 9:10 (World English): “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in Sheol, where you are going.” Thus Solomon describes living and the dead under this present sun of vanity: “Tthe living know that they will die, but the dead don’t know anything, neither do they have any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.” — Ecclesiastes 9:5, World English.

The Bible tells us that the soul dies and will return to life from Sheol (Greek, Hades) in the last day. “The soul that sins, it shall die!” (Ezekiel 18:4, King James II Version) “Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them. They were judged, each one according to his works.” (Revelation 20:13, World English) Regarding the soul of Jesus, we read prophetic words of the Messiah to his God: “You will not leave my soul in Hades, Neither will you allow your Holy One to see decay.” (Acts 2:27; quoted from Psalm 16:10, World English) Nowhere does the Bible ever state that the human soul never dies or that it is immortal.

But doesn’t the transfiguration of Moses and Elijah prove that they were not really dead? (Matthew 17:2,3) And what about the statement of Jesus regarding Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, that God is not a God of the dead but of the living?” (Matthew 22:32) These texts have often been used to support both the immortal soul theory and the eternal torment theory. But let us examine these scriptures closely.

Moses and Elijah on the Mount

It is thought by many that Moses and Elijah appeared in person to the disciples and Jesus. (Matthew 17:1-8) However, Jesus told his disciples expressly that what they had seen was a VISION Matthew 17:9. Peter in his second letter explains that the vision foreshadowed the glorious kingdom of the Messiah, therefore fulfilling Jesus’ words in Matthew 16:28. — 2 Peter 1:16-18.

The word rendered “vision” in the Greek is horama. This word occurs twelve times in the New Testament, and in each instance it is properly rendered “vision.” To take two examples: in Acts 9:11,12, we read: “The Lord said unto him [Ananias], Arise and go into the street that is called Straight and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold he prayeth and hath seen in a vision [horama] a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him that he might receive his sight.” The man seen by the blind Saul of Tarsus was evidently not a reality, but a vision. In Acts 12:7,9, we read: “Behold an angel of [Jehovah] came upon him and a light shined in the prison, and he smote Peter on the side and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly…And he went out and followed him and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel, but thought he saw a vision” — horama. Peter thought that what he had seen was a vision, and did not say that it was reality. These examples make it evident that the word horama used by the Messiah indicated that Moses and Elijah were not really present on the Mount, but only appeared to be there. The whole scene was a vision.

To say that Moses and Elijah actually stood with the Messiah on the Mount would be to contradict the teaching of the Scriptures that Jesus was the first to rise from the dead. — Acts 26:23; I Corinthians 15:20.

God Is Not the God of the Dead But the Living
Matthew 22:32

This text is frequently quoted as a proof that the dead are not really dead. A study of the context will show that the Messiah was speaking here of the resurrection, and that the passage teaches exactly the opposite of the commonly received meaning. His words in the preceding verse are: “As touching the resurrection of the dead.” He did not say: “the resurrection of the living,” for that would have been nonsense. It was in view of the resurrection that Jesus could say that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is not the God of the dead but of the living. This agrees with what the apostle says in Romans 4:17: “God quickeneth [makes alive] the dead and calleth those things which be not as though they were.”

Two other texts frequently brought forward to support the theory that believers at death “do immediately pass into glory,” are 2 Corinthians 5:8, where the apostle Paul says he is “willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord,” and Philippians 1:23, where he expresses a “desire to depart and to be with the Messiah.” It is evident, however, from other scriptures (see 2 Timothy 4:8), that the apostle did not expect to be immediately ushered into the presence of the Lord the moment he laid aside his “earthly tabernacle.” He knew he must remain asleep in death until the return of the Messiah at the last trump, when he would be awakened in the first resurrection, and so be ever with the Lord.

The word “depart” in the latter text is (Philippians 1:23) definitely not the best translation of the Greek word analusai. (Strong’s Number 360) In Luke 12:36, the same Greek word is rendered “return” in the King James Version. Applying this rendering also Philippians 1:23 would have Paul stating that he was having a desire to return, and to be with the Lord. This rendering would fit perfectly with Paul’s belief that he would be with Jesus when he returns from the sleep of death. Some, however, claim that “return” may not fully accurately express the meaning of analusai; the word can also be understood to mean “to be loosed again.” This meaning actually embodies the thought of returning to a former condition. Paul expected to sleep unconsciously in the sleep of death, but his desire was not for death, but to return from the unconscious condition to be again conscious. Paul was in a “strait betwixt two” things — whether to live or to die. Both had advantages, and he did not know which he would rather choose; but he presented the third option: to “return” or “to be loosed again” from the prison-house of death by the Lord at His second coming, was indeed far better than either of these other two things, and this is what the apostle earnestly desired above all else. Nevertheless, if one insists that Paul meant “depart,” this rendering still does not mean that he would immediately be with the Lord in death, and certainly would not support the inherent immortal soul/spirit theories. It would simply mean that he would depart from this life and that the next thing he would know he would be with the Lord in the last day when Christ returns (John 14:3; 1 Thessalonians 4:16,17; 2 Thessalonians 2:1; Hebrews 9:28), the day of the resurrection (John 5:28,29; 6:39,40,44,54), in harmony with the rest of the scriptures. —

2 Corinthians 5:8

Regarding the other scripture (2 Corinthians 5:8), we find that if we think a little about what the apostle actually wrote it becomes clearer. 2 Corinthians 5:8 reads: “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” (King James Version) Does this scripture say anything about what becomes of a believer at death? Absolutely not! What does it mean? The apostle Paul, in 2 Corinthians 5:1-10, is writing concerning the pilgrimage of the believer, those seeking to become joint-heirs with the Messiah, during the present evil age. In 2 Corinthians 5:6,7, we read: “Being therefore always of good courage, and knowing that, while we are at home [Strong’s Greek No. 1736, to be in one own country] in the body, we are absent [Strong’s 1553, to emigrate, i.e., (fig.) vacate or quit] from [Jehovah]; for we walk by faith, not by sight.” This is very similar to Asaph’s psalm. (Psalm 73:24,25) As long as we are feel “at home” in our present surroundings, we are not walking with Jehovah, therefore we are absent from him. “We are of good courage, I say, and are willing rather to be absent [Strong’s Greek 1553, to emigrate] from the body, and to be at home [Strong’s Greek No. 1736, to be in one own country] with [Jehovah].” (2 Corinthians 5:8) It is our desire, not to be at home in the body so as to make our present surroundings our country, but to mortify the deeds of the body, so as to walk with Jehovah in the spirit. (Romans 8:1-13) “Therefore also we make it our aim, whether [Strong’s 1535, if too] at home [Strong’s Greek No. 1736, to be in one’s own country] or [Strong’s 1535, if too] absent [from our body, Strong’s 1553, to emigrate, i.e., (fig.) vacate or quit], to be well pleasing to him.” (2 Corinthians 5:9) If we are finding our home or dwelling with God, or if we not making our home in our present body, we are also striving to make ourselves acceptable to Jehovah. “For we must all be revealed before the judgment seat of Christ; that each one may receive the things in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10) It is the things that the disciple of Jesus does now, in his present conditions, that determine how he is judged before the judgment seat of the Messiah. This is the reason we are to keeping striving to be well-pleasing to Jehovah while serving him. (verse 9) Thus we see that 2 Corinthians 5:8 says nothing about what happens to the believer at death.

Some claim that such passages as Ecclesiastes 3:19,20;9:2,3,5,10 cannot be used to refer to the state of the dead. Now according to these passages, the same thing happens to both men and beasts, in that they all die, and the dead know nothing. This is an evil among all things that are done under the sun, that there is one event for all. How do the traditionalists explain away these scriptures? One writer refers to Ecclesiastes 12:11: “The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd.” According to the writer the goads mean problems and the nails mean solutions. How the author arrives at this conclusion is not explained, but, using this interpretation, he explains:

“The goad, according to that interpretation, would be that which perplexes the man who looks at things from the standpoint of the earth (under the sun’). Well as it looks from here, is it not true that men and beasts all die, and that when they die the lose all direct contact with this world? Are not all the same in that respect? But there is a nail, a solution. Viewed from the region of the sun, the author of Ecclesiastes knows that the lot of the righteous is not the same as that of the wicked (Ecclesiastes 2:26). Also he knows that there is, indeed, a life after death. Man’s spirit does not go out of existence. On the contrary, Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was; and the spirit shall return to God who gave it.'” — The Bible on the Life Hereafter, by William Hendricksen

There is no reason whatsoever for the above explanation except that one wants to hold onto the traditions of man. The Bible itself never gives us the interpretation that the quoted writer gives, nor do the statements in Ecclesiastes conflict with the rest of the Bible. It may conflict with traditionalists’ ideas of “going to heaven” at death, but nowhere does the Bible hold out the hope of “going to heaven” when one dies. With these thoughts in mind let us look further at the claims made in BLH book.

First of all, Ecclesiastes 2:26 presents a riddle. In effect Solomon asks: “Is God giving to a man that is good in his sight wisdom, and knowledge, and joy, while to the sinner he gives travail, to gather and to heap up, that he might give to him that is good before God? This also is vanity and vexation of spirit.” That this verse must be looked upon as riddle can be seen from what is said directly after: “This too is vanity and chasing after the wind.” It is true that after the day of judgment God will set all matters right, but in this present world, it is not so. Not all good people experience wisdom, knowledge, and joy in this present life; likewise not all who are wicked receive travail, to gather and to heap up, that he might give to him that is good before God. Indeed, we find that generally the reverse is true. As Solomon later states: “There is a vanity that is done upon the earth: that there are just men, to whom it happens according to the work of the wicked; again, there are wicked men, to whom it happens according to the work of the righteous. I said that this also is vanity.” — Ecclesiastes 8:14.

Job similarly observed: “Why do the wicked live on, reach old age, and grow mighty in power? Their children are established in their presence, and their offspring before their eyes. Their houses are safe from fear, and no rod of God is upon them. Their bull breeds without fail; their cow calves and never miscarries. They send out their little ones like a flock, and their children dance around. They sing to the tambourine and the lyre, and rejoice to the sound of the pipe. They spend their days in prosperity, and in peace they go down to Sheol.” — Job 19:21:7-13, New Revised Standard Version.

Likewise, Jeremiah says; “Righteous are You, O Jehovah, when I might complain to You, yet let me speak with You of Your judgments. Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why are all those dealers of deceit at ease?” — Jeremiah 12:1, Green’s Literal.

Further, Malachi states: “Now we call the proud happy. Yes, those who work wickedness are set on high. Yes, those who tempt God re even saved.” — Malachi 3:15.

Additionally, the rest of the Bible agrees with the Solomon’s observations regarding man’s subjection to vanity. “Surely every man standing is all vanity.” (Psalm 39:5) “For the creation was subjected to vanity, not willingly, but through him subjecting it.” — Romans 8:20.

In the same manner, the rest of the Bible agrees with Solomon’s description of death. “His breath (Hebrew, rûwach, Strong’s No. 7307, wind, breath, power) goes forth, he returns to the earth. In that very day his thoughts perish.” (Psalm 145:4) Now if man should continue to think, even if he no longer had his human form, this scripture simply could not be true. “The dead do not praise Jehovah, nor do any who go down into silence.” (115:17) Again, this scripture could not be true if the righteous were still alive and praising God even though dead. Job agrees that all go to the same place: “They shall die alike in the dust, and the worms shall cover them.” (Job 21:26) And with this the apostle Paul agrees: “Therefore, by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, because all have sinned.” (Romans 5:12) As a result, the God subjected man the the present sun of vanity. (Ecclesiastes 1:2,3,13-15; Romans 8:20-22) Thus there is no reason for rejecting the statements in Ecclesiastes concerning the condition of the dead.

But some say that Ecclesiastes 9:10 does not mean to exclude all activity from the “life after this life” not any more than the saying of our savior recorded in John 9:4 (Night is approaching when no man can work’). According to this argument such expressions refer only to the cessation of all toil under the sun,’ that is, of all human activity here on earth. — Commentaar op het Oude Testament, p. 205.

In actuality John 9:4 has nothing to do with Ecclesiastes 9:10, nor with life after death. John 9:4 is referring to the falling away “when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own unrighteous desires they will collect for themselves teachers, having itching ears.” (2 Timothy 4:3,4) This happened with the foretold apostasy and the development of a religious heirarchy and its subsequent suppression of truth. (Matthew 13:24-30; Acts 20:29,30; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12; 1 Timothy 4:1-3; 2 Timothy 4:3,4) Although this falling away had already begun in the first century, the apostasy was restrained for only a short while. (2 Thessalonians 2:7; 1 John 2:18,19; 2 Corinthians 11:4) The apostasy spread rapidly after the death the apostles and developed into a religious heirarchy under which no man could actually do work in harmony with truth. Nor does Ecclesiastes 9:10 purport to say anything about the life after this life,’ that is, the resurrection. In the life after this life during the resurrection one will certainly be able to work, devise, think, and perform. — Isaiah 26:8.

See also our studies:
Under the Sun – What Does It Mean?
Did Paul Expect to Not Sleep in Death?
Elijah’s Ascension Into the Sky - (not yet moved)

Friday, February 16, 2018

Hope of Life After Death Part 11 – Second Death; Lake of Fire, Gehenna

What is the first death? What is the second death, and why is represented as being a lake of fire?

The Second Death

(110) The first death is the death in Adam, but any who die the second death in no sense die due to Adam. In the Millennial Age each will receive an individual trial, and all who die will die as the result of their own sin, no longer because of Adam’s sin. This will be their second death, their first being the death they suffered in the past on account of Adam’s disobedience. — Romans 5:12,18.

(111) The second death is pictured as a “lake of fire and brimstone” (Revelation 21:8), a forceful figure of complete destruction — a death from which there will not be a resurrection: for “Christ dies no more,” there will not be a second ransom for those who willfully practice sin after receiving the benefits of the ransom. (Romans 6:9) In the Greek text of the Bible, from which our translations are made, the second death is sometimes referred to symbolically as “Gehenna”, one of the three Greek words translated “hell” in the King James Version of the Bible. “Gehenna” is the Greek form of the name “Valley of Hinnom”, the valley situated immediately outside Jerusalem below Mount Zion. It was the garbage dump of the city. Fires were kept constantly burning in it and brimstone was added for the purpose of aiding the work of destruction. All the garbage of the city was cast into it; also the bodies of criminals, so as to signify that these were not worthy of a resurrection.

(112) Jesus used the fires of Gehenna as a symbol — not of torture, but of destruction. Some, however, regard the literal fires spoken of in the valley that were continually kept burning as being a literal description of a supposed life in hell. Yet if Jesus were speaking literally, then we should expect that the wicked would literally be thrown into the Valley of Hinnom where their bodies would either be literally burned up by fires or literally consumed by the worms. Actually, the “fire that is not put out,” the “worms,” and all the language used in connection with Gehenna is figurative. God’s jealousy for his name and righteousness is never quenched. Jehovah’s zeal or jealousy for righteousness will never be extinguished. Thus we read that “all the earth will be consumed by the fire of his [Jehovah’s] jealousy.” (Zephaniah 1:18) “For you must not bow yourself to another god; for Jehovah, whose name is Jealous, he is a jealous God.” (Exodus 34:14) “With foreign gods they moved him [Jehovah] to jealousy; and with idols they provoked him to anger; they sacrificed to demons, not God.” (Deuteronomy 32:16,17) “And Judah did evil in the sight of Jehovah, and they provoked him to jealousy with their sins that they committed, more than all that their fathers had done.” (1 Kings 14:22) “And my anger will be spent, and I will make my fury rest on them, and I will be eased. And they will know that I, Jehovah, have spoken in my zeal, in my fulfilling my fury on them.” (Ezekiel 5:13) “Surely I have spoken in the fire of my jealousy against the rest of the nations.” (Ezekiel 35:5) Worms (or maggots) that consumed the body of the criminals thrown into the Valley of Hinnom represents the utter destruction, not torture, of those thrown therein. These maggots were ever present in the valley. Thus they never died out. Likewise, those who are symbolically thrown into the fires of Gehenna find that there are always consuming worms [elements of destruction] ever present to destroy those who prove themselves unwilling to produce the fruits of the kingdom.

(113) Some believe that Hades and Gehenna are one and the same, as far as the place is concerned. But when that place is called Hades, they believe it refers is to the abode of the souls of the wicked before the judgment day; when it is called Gehenna they believe the reference is generally to the abode of the wicked, body and soul, after the judgment day. Actually Hades/Sheol is used in reference to the realm of death as mankind has inherited it from Adam. Gehenna represents the “second death,” from which there is no return. Jesus died to redeem all in Hades/Sheol, but once we have partaken of the deliverance, we are counted dead to Adam’s sin and alive toward God. If then we continue in willfully sin, there is no more sacrifice for sins, thus we would could be symbolically thrown into Gehenna. We would be “twice dead,” entered into the second death. Likewise, the world of mankind will be made alive during the “last day,” the resurrection day, and if they do not obey they also will be symbolically thrown into Gehenna, the second death.

(114) Thus we see that there is no idea of eternal torture associated with Gehenna, the second death. It means a condition of everlasting destruction. This is just what the Psalmist said: “Jehovah preserves all them that love him; but all the wicked will he destroy”, not preserve in any condition whatsoever. It should be obvious that destroy is being used as meaning the opposite of "preserve".  — Psalm 145:20.

(115) Some would have us believe that the English word “hell” indicates the place of everlasting punishment for the wicked. It is true that in modern times hell has come to have this meaning. But it is not the basic meaning of the English word hell. Note the following:

From:

The New Grolier Electronic Encyclopedia (TM) (c) 1991 Grolier Electronic Publishing, Inc.

hell
Hell traditionally denotes the place or state of being of unrepentant souls who are damned to eternal punishment after death. Derived from the Old Teutonic word hel, meaning “to conceal” or “to cover,” the word hell is used in English translations of the Bible to represent both the Hebrew Sheol, an ethically neutral underworld for the departed, and the Greek Gehenna, the underworld for the punishment of the wicked from which the Christian concept of hell developed.

From:

American Heritage Dictionary

Copyright (C) 1982 by Houghton Mifflin Company All Rights Reserved

hell n. 1. The abode of the dead in ancient traditions; underworld. 2. Often Hell. In many religions, the abode of condemned souls and devils; the place of punishment for the wicked after death. 3. A place or situation of evil, misery, discord, or destruction: into the hell of battle. 4. a. Torment; anguish: went through hell on the job. b. Someone or something that causes trouble, agony, or annoyance: He’s hell when a job is poorly done. 5. Hell. Christian Science. Mortal belief; sin or error. 6. A sharp scolding: gave him hell for cheating. 7. a. A tailor’s receptacle for discarded material. b. A hellbox. 8. Used as an intensive: How the hell can I go? You did one hell of a job.- intr. v. helled, helling, hells. Informal. To behave riotously; carouse: out all night helling around.-interj. Slang. Used to express anger, disgust, or impatience.-idioms. hell or ( or and) high water. Informal. Troubles or difficulties of whatever magnitude: We’re staying, come hell or high water. hell to pay. Informal. Bad trouble to be faced: If he’s wrong, there’ll be hell to pay. [ME helle < OE]

Thus the dictionary gives as the basic meaning of the English word “hell” as “the abode of the dead”, which we believe more correctly should be “the realm of death.” We also note that the Grolier Encyclopedia shows that the English word hell comes from the Tuetonic word hel, meaning to cover or conceal. Thus it corresponds with the description of Sheol as given in Ecclesiastes 9:10.

The Meek Inherit the Earth

(116) During the 1,000 years of Jesus’ rule, those who resist Satan and who are loyal to God and to righteousness, who love Jehovah their God with all their heart, and mind, and soul, and strength, and their neighbor as themselves, will pass on into the ages to follow, when there will be “no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither will there be any more pain, for the former things will have passed away.” It is at this time that the “meek inherit the earth” to dwell upon it forever. (Psalm 37:9,10,29; Matthew 5:5) Only those who worship God in spirit and in truth will attain to this condition of eternal bliss as perfect human beings on a perfect earth. Then, when the first dominion (given to man) is restored, God’s great plan of salvation will be complete, and the prayer that our Lord taught his disciples to offer will be answered: “Your kingdom come! Your will be done on earth as it is done in heaven!” (Matthew 6:10) The angel’s message will be fulfilled: “Good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” — Luke 2:1