Saturday, April 15, 2017

Romans 6:23 - The Wages of Sin - Spiritual Death?

The wages of sin is death. -- Romans 6:23 You were bought with a price. -- 1 Corinthians 6:20; 7:23. 1 Timothy 2:5- For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 1 Timothy 2:6- who gave himself as a ransom [offsetting price; price to correspond] for all; the testimony in its own times.
There are many who claim that Adam would have died physically anyway had he not sinned, and that the condemnation for sin was not physical death, but rather that it was spiritual death. What to the scriptures actually show?

First, we note that the phrase "spiritual death" does not appear in the Bible. Thus the idea of "spiritual death" has to be assumed. Of course, the advocates of the "spiritual death" for the wages of sin theory do have some scriptures that they present to allegedly support their doctrine. While we hope, Yahweh willing, to address those scriptures separately, at present we are going to demonstrate that the wages of sin was not spiritual death. How can we do this?

It is a simple matter to determine what kind of death is the wages of sin by means of the kind of death that Jesus suffered in order to pay the wages of sin. The price that Jesus gave was to offset the result of the condemnation through Adam. -- Romans 5:18; 1 Timothy 2:5,6; 1 Corinthians 15:21,22.

Examining the scriptures, what do we find? What kind of offering for sin did Jesus provide so as to pay the wages of sin, to correspond to the condemnation by means of Adam?

We find that Jesus gave his blood in sacrifice.

Matthew 26:28 – for this is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the remission of sins.

Mark 14:24 – He said to them, “This is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many.

Luke 22:20 – He took the cup in like manner after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, that which is poured out for you.

Acts 20:28 – Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God which he obtained with the blood of his own Son. – Revised Standard Version.

Romans 5:9 – Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we will be saved from God’s wrath through him.

Ephesians 1:7 – in whom we have our redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.

However, what does blood represent? Does it represent a spiritual death? Did Jesus in some manner offer his blood spiritually, not physically, for sin?

Leviticus 17:11 – For the life [Hebrew, nephesh - soul] of the flesh is in the blood.

Deuteronomy 12:23 – The blood is the life [Hebrew, nephesh - soul].

Thus, Jesus' blood represents Jesus' physical existence, his soul, as a human being.

What does the human soul consist of? The human soul consists of the body made from the dust of the ground and the neshamah, activated by spirit of life as received from God. — Genesis 2:7.

Did Jesus offer that human soul as a sacrifice? Yes, Jesus sacrificed his human soul:

Matthew 20:28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life [soul] as a ransom [price to offset] for many.

Isaiah 53:12 He poured out his soul to death, and was numbered with the transgressors: yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. -- [Italics added for emphasis]

Since the body of dust is a part of the soul, does this mean that Jesus also sacrificed his body, his flesh, in paying the wages of sin? Yes, Jesus did sacrifice his human body:

Hebrews 10:10 by which will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 
Hebrews 10:11 Every priest indeed stands day by day ministering and often offering the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins, 
Hebrews 10:12 but he, when he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; 
Hebrews 10:13 henceforth expecting until his enemies to be made the footstool of his feet. 
Hebrews 10:14 For by one offering he has perfected forever those who are sanctified.

Luke 22:19 He took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and gave to them, saying, “This is *my body which is given [as an offering in sacrifice to God - Ephesians 5:2; Hebrews 9:14] for you*. Do this in memory of me.”

Do any of these scriptures seem to indicate that the wages of sin or the offering that Jesus gave for sin is spiritual, and not physical?

Jesus died; he was totally dead, ceased to be sentient, else there has been no ransom and he failed to pay the wages of sin. His body was given in sacrifice. (Hebrews 10:10; Luke 22:19) Jesus’ soul — his sentiency — was given in sacrifice (Ecclesiastes 9:5) and went into sheol, where there is no work, device, knowledge or wisdom, and wherein one cannot give thanks to, or praise to, Yahweh. (Isaiah 53:12; Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45; Ecclesiastes 9:10; Psalm 6:5; Isaiah 38:18) Jesus’ human blood — which represents his human soul/being (Leviticus 17:11; Deuteronomy 12:23) — was given in sacrifice. (Mark 14:24; Acts 20:28; Hebrews 9:14) Thus his soul — his being — as raised, made alive, from the oblivious condition of sheol is no longer human, but spirit.

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. -- 1 Peter 3:18.

Did Jesus suffer a spiritual death for sins once, or did he suffer a physical death? Was Jesus, in suffering for sin, put to death in the spirit, or was he put to death in the flesh?

Romans 5:6 - For while we were yet weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.

Did Jesus die a spiritual death for the ungodly, or did he die a physical death? Does this read: "At the right time Christ died spiritually for the ungodly?" If he died spiritually for the ungodly, how did he die spiritually?

Romans 5:8 - But God commends his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Christ died spiritually for the saints?

Romans 5:9 - Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we will be saved from God's wrath through him.

The saints in this age reckoned (Greek transliterated: logizomai, Strong's #3049; Romans 4:3,5,6,9-11,22-24; 6:11; Galatians 3:6; James 2:23) as justified, being so reckoned in that God calls things that are not as though they were. (Romans 4:17; see also Luke 20:38) Are they thus reckoned as justified by means of a spiritual sacrifice, or are they reckoned as justified by the physical blood of Jesus that he poured out for sin?

Romans 5:10 - For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we will be saved by his life.

Are the saints reckoned as reconciled through a "spiritual" death of Jesus, or are they reconciled through the death of Jesus' whole humanity, his soul, his body, his flesh, etc.?

We believe the only conclusion as demonstrated by these scriptures is that the wages of sin, the result of the condemnation in Adam, is not spiritual death, but rather it is actual physical death.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Ecclesiastes 9:10 - Sheol, Where You Are Going

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. -- Ecclesiastes 9:10, World English.
This scripture tells us exactly the condition of those in sheol. The King James Version renders "sheol" as "grave" here. Thus, many believers of dualism read the King James Version and say this only refers to the the physical body in the grave, and that it does not apply to the soul (or spirit). In reality, it is the soul itself, not just the physical body (as supposedly separate from the soul), that goes to sheol at death, and thus it is the soul, having ceased as a sentiency, that cannot work or think in sheol. --Psalm 16:10; 49:15; Proverbs 23:14.

Many proponents of dualism claim that this is only the rantings of a worldly, unregenerated man, that it is only the "viewpoint" of an pessimistic skeptic, and is therefore not considered to be true. We have discussed the veracity of Ecclesiastes in the study: "Under the Sun -- What Does It Mean?", which please see.

Various translations of Ecclesiastes 9:10:

King James Version: 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. 

New American Standard; Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might; for there is no activity or planning or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol where you are going. 

New International Version: Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.

Amplified Bible: Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.

Good News Translation: Work hard at whatever you do, because there will be no action, no thought, no knowledge, no wisdom in the world of the dead---and that is where you are going.

Douay-Rheims - Whatsoever thy hand is able to do, do it earnestly: for neither work, nor reason, nor wisdom, nor knowledge shall be in hell, whither thou art hastening.



Reference: "The Truth About Hell", Herald of Christ's Kingdom, November/December, 1993.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Jude 1:7 - Example of Eternal Fire

Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire. -- Jude 1:7, New American Standard.

Jude 7
hws sodoma kai gomorra kai hai peri autas poleis
AS SODOM AND GOMORRAH AND THE ABOUT THEM CITIES,
5613 4670 2532 1116 2532 3588 4012 0846_96 4172
ton homoion tropon toutois
THE LIKE MANNER TO THESE (ONES)
3588 3664 5158 3778_95
ekporneusasai kai apelthousai opisw
[CITIES] HAVING COMMITTED FORNICATION OUT AND HAVING GONE OFF BEHIND
1608 2532 0565 3694
sarkos heteras prokeintai deigma puros
FLESH DIFFERENT, THEY ARE LYING BEFORE SOMETHING SHOWN OF FIRE
4561 2087 4295 1164 4442
aiwniou dikeen hupechousai
EVERLASTING JUSTICE HAVING UNDER.
0166 1349 5254  -- Westcott & Hort Interlinear

There is nothing in Jude 1:7 about human souls being alive while dead, nor does it say anything about the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah having immortal souls that are tortured in fire for ever. There is nothing directly stated in Jude 1:7 about hades (sheol). There is definitely nothing in the Jude 1:7 about anyone being kept alive for eternity in torment.

Jude 1:7 is the only place that the compound word often transliterated as "Hupecho" (Strong's #5254) is found in the New Testament. It is made up of the two words, transliterated as Hupo (Strongs' #5259, meaning "by, under") and Echo (Strong's #2192, have, hold, hold fast, etc.).
http://www.biblestudytools.com/lexicons/greek/nas/hupecho.html

In the context, Jude spoke of various ones who had turned away from the truth that they had, and who were living a life of sin. Jude provides a warning to these of the danger of punishment, and illustrates this by how God did not fail to punish Israel when Israel fell into sin. He also spoke of the angels who sinned, how they are kept under bondage of darkness until the judgment day. As a further illustration, and in parallel to the earlier examples, he speaks of Sodom and Gomorrah, and how the destruction of those cities provide an warning example of undergoing the punishment of eternal fire. The symbolic "fire" spoken of here is "eternal", but this does not say that anyone is consciously burning in that fire for eternity. 

Jehovah did indeed use actual fire in the destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and the inhabitants of these cities (Genesis 19:24,25), but it should be evident that the fire He used is not still burning in those cities to this day. Most are familiar with the Bible narrative of how God spared only Lot and his family from that fire and its destructive work. That literal fire is certainly not burning and continuing to inflict pain for all eternity. That fire effected its work in destroying those cities and all of in those cities. Jesus plainly tells us:  “It rained down fire from heaven and destroyed them all.” (Luke 17:29) Jesus did not say that the fire preserved them, but rather that it destroyed them; Jesus said nothing about their having an immortal soul that is being tortured in fire for all eternity.

Jesus, in agreement with the rest of the Bible, rather than saying that they are consciously suffering for eternity, showed that the people of Sodom and Gomorrah will come forth in the resurrection time for a judgment or trial for eternal life. (Matthew 10:15; 11:24; 10:12) Ezekiel also mentions the captives (those held in death) of Sodom as being released from the captivity of death in the day of judgment. (Ezekiel 16:53-56) Jesus stated concerning Sodom that it will be "more tolerable" for the people of Sodom in the day of judgment than for those Jews who had seen Jesus' works and still refused to believe. Rather than claiming that they are now suffering for eternity, he was saying these will come forth in the resurrection of the  “last day ” (John 12:47,48) of judgment, the Millennial age, when the world in general will be on trial for life everlasting or the second death. Those who are raised in the judgment of that "last day" are raised from death and hades (sheol), a combined description of the death in Adam --as opposed to the second death -- and its resulting oblivious condition. (Revelation 20:13) Thus, they are included in the oblivious condition of hades/sheol (Ecclesiastes 9:5,10), but they are not in that coniditon for eternity, since they will be raised for judgment in the "last day". The death of those Sodomites (as well as the inhabitants of Gommorah) were included in the "death" that Paul wrote of in Romans 5:12-19, in which he writes that “death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those whose sins weren’t like Adam’s disobedience,” and then describes that condemnation of death as being due to Adam’s sin. (Romans 5:12-19; 1 Corinthians 15:21,22) The people of Sodom and Gomorrah who died in the fires that rained down upon them are included in this "death" that reigned from Adam until Moses, thus the punishment that they are still under to this day is that of being dead in hades/sheol, from which all will be released in the day of judgment when they will judged anew by the things written in the books that are opened to them in that day. -- Revelation 20:12.

What then of the "eternal fire" or "everlasting fire" in Jude 1:7? While the "fire" spoken of here is certainly not the literal fire that destroyed those cities, the literal fire surely is representative of Jehovah's fiery zeal or jealousy, which "fire" is indeed eternal, everlasting. In other words, Jehovah's zeal or jealousy for righteousness will never be extinguished. Zephaniah wrote that “all the earth will be consumed by the fire of his [Jehovah’s] jealousy.” (Zephaniah 1:18) And we also read: “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 which 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 36:5.

Jehovah's jealousy for His name and for the righteousness represented in His name is therefore provoked by any unrighteousness. One can see this for himself by taking Strong's Concordance and looking up the references to Jehovah's jealousy. It is this fire, representing Jehovah's determination to act against any unrighteousness, that is eternal; Jehovah's fiery jealousy will be forever ready to act against any unrighteousness, should there be any.This fire of his jealousy, his determination to act against all unrighteousness, is eternal; it will be forever; it will forever be ready to act against any unrighteousness, should there be any.

See also my study:

Hope of Life After Death Part 14 - Everlasting Punishment -- 2 Peter 2:4,9; Jude 1:13; Matthew 7:22,23; 10:32,33; 25:1-13,46; Galatians 6:7,8; Hebrews 9:27

Temporal Sin and Everlasting Punishment

(154) Some have supposed that we teach that God would not punish temporal sin with everlasting punishment. There may be some who make this argument. Our understanding is that all sin is punishable by everlasting punishment. The condemnation of Adam was everlasting. He, of himself, had no way to get out of it. The punishment, death, would have continued forever. But God made a provision for his ransom. It took someone equal to him to undergo his everlasting punishment for him in order to buy back what he lost. (Jesus gave up his humanity forever -- thus his flesh is under the eternal punishment that was placed upon Adam.) Likewise, those who are returned to death in the second death will suffer everlasting punishment. For the second death, however, there will be no ransom. They will remain there in death forever, thus undergoing everlasting punishment.

God's Justice

(155) Some have tried to maintain the idea that the wicked are suffering somewhere for all eternity by arguing: "What matters is that God remain God! Else all is lost for everybody. God cannot remain God unless his attributes -- including his justice -- be maintained." By some unknown reasoning, this argument assumes that God's justice demands eternal torture -- an eternity of indescribable conscious suffering -- for all who die in a lost condition. In reality, the scriptures show that death is what God's justice demands (Romans 6:23), the kind of death that Jesus died for. (Jesus did not die a so-called spiritual death for our sins, he fully died completely and physically for our sins. -- Romans 5:6,8,12-19) God's justice does not demand the eternal suffering of the wicked! God's justice demanded that God condemn Adam to death, since that is what he told him would be his punishment, and "death" was what required in payment for sin. (Genesis 2:17 -- Jesus is not now suffering for an eternity for sin -- Hebrews 9:26,28; 1 Peter 3:18) God did not change his mind and then sentence Adam to an eternity of torture. Nor did he require an eternity of torture for his ransom. Adam died, as provided by God's justice. (Genesis 5:5) All of Adam's children inherited this death sentence, and it from this death sentence that Jesus died as the redeemer of mankind. -- Romans 5:12,19.

Are All Those Who Die in Infancy Saved?

(156) The answer to this question depends on what one means by "saved." The Bible tells us that God wills "all to be saved and to come to accurate knowledge of the truth." To this end Jesus gave himself "a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." "As in Adam all are dying, so in Christ all will be made alive." Thus all, including the little children are saved from the condemnation that we have inherited from Adam and will be made alive in the resurrection. (1 Timothy 2:3-6; 1 Corinthians 15:22; Romans 5:18) However, this does not mean that they go to heaven. They come back to life right here on earth for judgment the same as all the rest of the world.

2 Peter 2:4,9; Jude 1:13

(157) Doesn't 2 Peter 2:4,9 tell us that the eternal destiny of the wicked is determined at death? 2 Peter 2:4 does not refer to the wicked humans at all, but rather to the angels who sinned, that they have been imprisoned and in chains of darkness, reserved to judgment. 2 Peter 2:9 simply says exactly we have been saying, that the unjust will be punished in the day of judgment. This does not say that the unjust's eternal destiny is determined at death. Jude 1:13 refers to those who had been disciples of Jesus but have known the way of truth and, having turned aside therefrom, have proved themselves incorrigible. In Adam God regarded them as dead (Romans 5:15), which is their first death. By Christ they have been justified out of that death into life (John 5:24,25; 3:36). The ones spoken of in Jude 1:13, however, willfully sin away the grace of God and exhaust their share in the merit of Christ. Jesus does not die again for them. (Romans 6:9) Therefore, there is no more sacrifice for sins left for them. (Hebrews 10:26) As a result, they come under a second death sentence and become "twice dead." (Jude 1:12) Jude 1:13 does not refer to the general population of wicked ones at all.

Matthew 25:1-13,46

(158) What about Matthew 25:1-13,46? Do these scriptures show that our eternal destiny is fixed at death? Some argue: "When once the bridegroom arrives, those who are ready' enter (Matthew 25:10-13). This exclusion lasts forever (Matthew 25:46)." The parable of the ten virgins has nothing to do with the world in general but only to the Lord's disciples, evidently, at the end of the age when Jesus returns. Nor does it have anything to do with what happens to a person when he dies. Additionally, please note that Matthew 25:46 has nothing to do with the parable of the ten virgins. This is a gross misuse of scripture. Matthew 25:46 refers to those who at the end of the thousand years prove themselves incorrigible sinners, worthy of eternal destruction. It has nothing to do with the death of the wicked in the world at this time.

Matthew 7:22,23

(159) In Matthew 7:22,23 we read: "Many will say to me in that day: Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? And did we not cast out demons in your name? And did we not do many wonderful works in your name?'And then I will declare to them: Depart from me, you that have worked illegally.'" Does this teach that one's eternal destiny is fixed at death? Some have so argued. It is true that when God's kingdom is ruling and those who become part of the seed of Abraham will be given various positions in the Kingdom. But many others at that time, (during the thousand years of Christ's reign after having been restored to life) will wonder why they were left out of positions in the kingdom, when they had labored in religious works in the name of Jesus their past life. But Jesus said nothing about what the final eventually becomes of these. No doubt many of them will "believe in that day" and attain to life everlasting. (2 Thessalonians 1:10) We certainly find nothing in Matthew 7:22,23 that shows that they were judged for eternity during the present life.

Matthew 10:32,33

(160) The words spoken in Matthew 10:32,33 do not say that one who denies Jesus before men will be eternally damned, as some have assumed. If so, Peter would have been eternally damned, for he denied Jesus three times. Likewise Saul could not have been converted to become the apostle Paul, for he denied Jesus many times before his conversion. Likewise, the opportunity to be converted continues, indeed, is increased greatly after the resurrection of the unjust.

Galatians 6:7,8

(161) Galatians 6:7,8 states: "Do not be deceived! God is not be mocked. For whatever a man sows, that is what he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will from the flesh reap corruption. But he who sows to the spirit will from the spirit reap continuing life." Yes, this is true. Had Adam continued to sow to the spirit, he would not have sinned. But he began to look at the flesh, wanting to please his wife more than Yahweh. Thus he reaped corruption. Nevertheless, the scripture in Galatians 6:7,8 is directed toward those who have received the holy spirit to a new birth. Those of the world are already walking according to the flesh and reaping corruption therefrom. However, if the disciple of Jesus should fail to walk according to the spirit, he likewise will reap corruption from the flesh. If at any point, however, he should change so as to walk after the spirit, he will reap continuing life in the resurrection. Only if the new creation should sin willfully would the new creation receive a new judgment, a new condemnation. (Hebrews 10:26,27,28,29) But the apostle Paul does not say that the opportunity for the world to walk after the spirit ends at death.

Hebrews 9:27

(162) In Hebrews 9:27, Paul uses the same Greek word for judgment that John used in recording Jesus' words at John 5:28,29. Many insist that the resurrection is unto life or unto damnation, not probation. They prefer to translate the Greek word krisis as "damnation" in John 5:28,29. If we use this same reasoning with Hebrews 9:27, we would have all men suffering death, followed by damnation. Of course, such is absurd. Actually Hebrews 9:27 must be taken with the context. By reading the 27th verse in connection with vss. 26 and 28, it will be seen that the "men" referred to were the various high priests of Israel. Paul is trying to show us that these "men" in sacrifices which they offered "offered year by year continually," were but types of Jesus. Though they offered and went into the holy place every year, Jesus as the antitype needed only to go in once. Jesus' sacrifice was that of his own life, while that these typical men was the blood of others. The priests in the type did not lay down their own lives and take on a new life in the spirit as Jesus did. They were told to kill "a bullock" which was for, or instead of their own, natural lives. Thus in the figure the priest died, every time he slew the bullock. After killing the bullock it remained for the high priest to take the blood into the holy place and see whether it would be accepted. This was the judgment -- trial. If the work had been all properly done, it was accepted by God and was the basis of atonement for the people and the after blessing. Now notice that, "As it was appointed for [those] men once to die [as represented by the bullock], and after that the judgment [to see if their sacrifice was acceptable], so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many."

(163) Jesus, after presenting himself for the Church, presented the evidences of his death and merit of his blood, typified by the bullock and its blood. (Hebrews 9:12,24) Then the trial took place: Was it a perfect sacrifice? If so it would be accepted. It was perfect and was accepted by God. (Hebrews 9:14) The outpouring of the holy spirit at Pentecost was an evidence that the blood of the new covenant had been accepted. (Acts 2:32,33,36) By looking at the context we see that this Hebrews 9:27 is not referring to life after death at all. But even if were, the judgment spoken of here would be first, the judgment upon the church after being reckoned dead in Jesus. (Romans 6:11) Having been reckoned dead to sin but alive toward God, they now enter their judgment period. (1 Corinthians 11:31,32; Hebrews 12:4-15; 1 Peter 1:17; 4:16,17) Likewise, those of the world must die and enter their judgment period during the 1,000 years of Jesus' rule. -- Revelation 20:4,6; 1 Corinthians 6:2.

Revelation 14:9-11 - The Smoke of Their Torment

Revelation 14:9 Another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a great voice, "If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead, or on his hand, Revelation 14:10 he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is prepared unmixed in the cup of his anger. He will be tormented (literally, touchstoned) with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb. Revelation 14:11 The smoke of their torment (being touchstoned) goes up forever and ever. They have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name. -- World English
The words translated tormented and torment above are in the Greek forms of the word that usually transliterated as Basanos, which literally means touchstone.

First, we note that this is the book of Revelation, a book that is full of symbolism. This is not speaking of a literal beast, nor of literal wine, nor of literal fire, nor of literal brimstone (sulfur), nor of literal smoke, nor a literal lamb, etc. Likewise, the touchstoning, rendered "tormented" in most translations is symbolic of a trial, a trying, which does result in an everlasting "smoke" that can be seen forever. Symbolically, such a symbolic touchstoning, which taking place, is certainly not pleasant, and thus, traditionally, the touchstoning has come to be viewed figuratively as representing a torment, or vexation.

All will at once concede that if a literal worshiping of a beast and his image are meant in verse 9, then few if any in civilized lands are liable to the penalty of verse 11; and if the beast and image, and worship, and wine, and cup are symbols, so also are the torments, and smoke, and fire, and brimstone.

Second, we need to note what is not spoken of here. There is nothing said here about the Bible hell (hades/sheol), nor of anyone suffering while allegedly being conscious while dead. Nor does it say that those being touchstoned have gone into the second death. There is nothing said about alleged immortal souls or spirits of any human being kept alive for eternity. All of such ideas have to imagined, assumed, added to, and read into what is stated. Indeed, the scriptures does not say that these being touchstoned by fire and sulphur are while in this experience, in a death condition as is traditionally thought of.

The touchstoning being spoken of takes place while these people are alive here in this age upon the earth; it is a trying of which continuously, from day to day, without letup, allows no rest to those undergoing this trial for the duration of the trial. Their having no "rest" could signify the lack of rest of faith in Christ (Hebrews 4:3,9,10), and their putting faith in that which is symbolized by the beast and its image. The trial is connected with their bowing down to the beast and image of the beast. Basically, this is a trial of worshipers who are worshiping in a manner unapproved by God. Included in these are the tares that Jesus spoke of, false Christians. Their trial will leave a symbolic smoke that will be seen forever and forever, attesting of the horrible results of this beast and its image. The deception and error of these systems will never be forgotten --as smoke, which continues to ascend after a destructive fire, is a testimony that the fire has done its work.

Hope of Life After Death Part 06 - Immortality and the Believer -- 1 Timothy 6:15,16

Immortality and the Believer

(47) Some claim that they do not believe that the human soul is immortal, but that they believe the disciple of Jesus becomes immortal through regeneration. Some have told us that in "one sense only God is immortal. He is the only One possessing immortality (see 1 Timothy 6:11-16)." We do not believe that 1 Timothy 6:15,16 refers to Jehovah but rather to his Son, Jesus, "the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, living in light that is unapproachable, which no man has seen, nor can he see." He alone of the kings and lords referred to here had at that time obtained immortality (Greek, athanasia, deathlessness). He was then living in [and still is living in] the light that humans cannot enter into nor see. This scripture has nothing to do with the imagined idea that in "one sense only God is immortal." Of course, God is uniquely immortal, in that he has always been. His deathlessness has always been and always will be, whereas all others had a beginning, and all living creatures were created with the possibility of being able to die, although they may not actually be under any death sentence. However, if God created them with immortality, then none could ever be condemned to die.

(48) But what about 2 Timothy 1:10? Doesn't this prove that the believer becomes immortal? It is true that those (the joint-heirs with Jesus) who prove themselves worthy of the resurrection will become immortal, but they receive immortality in the first resurrection, not at death, nor because God created all men "with immortal souls". In 2 Timothy 1:10 we read in the King James Version: "But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death, and has brought life and immortality [Greek, aphtharsia] to light through the gospel." Yes! it is death that Jesus has abolished! If man is immortal, death would not need to be abolished. But what does it mean that he has brought life and immortality to light through the Good News? In Romans 2:7, the apostle refers to those who seek for glory, honor and immortality. Here, however, the apostle Paul does not use the Greek word athanasia, as in 1 Timothy 6:15,16 and 1 Corinthians 15:53,54. The Greek word is Strong's #861: aphtharsia. This word is elsewhere translated in the King James Version as "incorruption." (1 Corinthians 15:42,53,54) So what does 2 Timothy mean when it says that Jesus has brought life and incorruption to light through the gospel? Jesus was completely free of sin. He was never corrupted by anything that was in this world nor by any of the influences of the demon (spirit) world. But of mankind we read: "All flesh has corrupted his way upon the earth." (Genesis 6:12) "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23) Jesus abolished death by not succumbing to corruption (by committing sin) and giving his perfect life in exchange for Adam and his race, thus providing justification to life for all. (Romans 5:18) Thus the Good News brought all this to light, that a perfect man whose mind is in complete harmony with God could live without being corrupted. Therefore all men can and should be seeking this incorruptibility in their minds and bodies, that they may live forever. -- 1 Corinthians 15:53,54; See also our study: With What Body Will We Be Raised?

(49) But some tell us: "As a result of the Messiah's atonement eternal death no longer exists for the believer. Spiritual death," they say, "is vanquished more and more in this life and completely when the child of God departs from his earthly enclosure. And physical death has been turned into gain." If by "eternal death," one means the eternal death inherited from Adam, it is true that, in Yahweh's sight, this death is no longer for the believer. That death, once a person appropriates to himself the benefits of the death of Jesus, no longer exists, as far as God is concerned. The person is then accounted as being alive, no longer dead. However, the scriptures speak nothing of "spiritual" death. (See other discussions of this topic) It does speak of those who are reckoned dead due to sin or reckoned justified and alive in God's sight. -- Romans 4:3-24; 6:17-21; Matthew 22:32.

(50) "But," some may argue, "man is immortal, but only in the sense that his existence never ends, and that in the Bible only those are called immortal who have everlasting life in the Christ Jesus, and are destined to glorify him forever as to both soul and body." These evidently believe that one does not need to present any scripture that definitely states that man's existence never ends. They assume that this is so. They never present one scripture which so teaches, and conclude that all scriptures that teach that man's existence is not eternal do not really mean what they say. Also their belief that "in the Bible only those are called immortal who have everlasting life in Christ Jesus" is false. The Bible nowhere states this. It does speak of those who must "put on immortality." They did not then have immortality. The scripture statements that they were alive [in God's sight] does not mean that they possessed immortality before the resurrection.