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Featured What is the 2nd Death? (Annihilationsim vs. Eternal Torment)

Discussion in 'Controversial Christian Theology' started by Mark Corbett, Jul 29, 2017.

  1. Mark Corbett

    Mark Corbett Well-Known Member Supporter

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    [​IMG]
    The Bible uses the phrase “second death” four times, all in the book of Revelation (Revelation 2:11, Revelation 20:6, Revelation 20:14, and Revelation 21:8). What does “second death” mean?

    In a way this question can be answered very simply:

    Second death means simply to die a second time. This second dying involves the complete destruction of both body and soul (see Matthew 10:28).

    I believe this simple answer is entirely accurate. But it needs to be defended with lots of evidence. The reason a detailed defense is called for is that many Bible believing Christians today and throughout most of church history have been taught that the phrase “second death” means something like this:

    Second death means to remain alive forever while confined to hell in a state of unending conscious torment.

    Thus, to ask the question “What is the second death?” among Christians often results in a comparison of two views:

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    A brief explanation of the traditional view of the second death

    I don’t like it when people set up straw men. So what comes next is my attempt to present the best argument in favor of the eternal torment interpretation of “the second death”. The argument really is not complex.

    The traditional interpretation of “second death” leans heavily on this verse:

    Revelation 20:10 And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

    Revelation 20:10 is then combined with this verse from the same passage:

    Revelation 20:15 Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.

    Two assumptions are made:
    1. John’s vision of the devil, the beast, and the false prophet being tormented day and night for ever and ever is literal (by “literal” I mean non-figurative, non-symbolic, non-metaphoric).
    2. What happens to the devil, the beast, and the false prophet will also happen to all the unsaved when they are thrown into the same lake of fire.

    This interpretation is strengthened by an appeal to this passage in Revelation 14:

    Revelation 14:9 A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: "If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives its mark on their forehead or on their hand,

    10 they, too, will drink the wine of God's fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. They will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb.

    11 And the smoke of their torment will rise for ever and ever. There will be no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, or for anyone who receives the mark of its name."


    The following assumptions are made:
    1. This is referring to the same thing as the lake of fire in Revelation 20.
    2. The vision of smoke rising for ever and ever refers to literal everlasting torture.
    3. The fate of all unsaved people is the same as the fate of those who receive the mark of the beast.

    If all of the above assumptions are correct, then Revelation 14 and 20 provide an extremely strong argument in favor of eternal conscious torment. When I was transitioning from belief in eternal torment to belief in annihilationism, all the other arguments for eternal torment appeared to be very weak. But these arguments from Revelation appeared strong. I took them seriously then, and I still do now.

    I no longer have any doubts about these passages. I am thoroughly convinced that the eternal torment interpretation of the “second death” is wrong. In the rest of this opening post I will share some of my reasons.

    A Wrong Assumption

    The eternal torment view of the “second death” is based on the assumption that the visions of eternal torment in Revelation 14 and 20 should be interpreted literally. This assumption is wrong.

    This wrong assumption is understandable in light of the great damage done to God’s truth by some versions of liberal theology not taking many parts of the Bible literally, such as:

    1. The virgin birth of Christ.
    2. The miracles seen throughout the Bible.
    3. The physical, bodily resurrection of Christ.

    Treating these literal truths as mere symbols has undermined foundations of core gospel truths and has done great damage to the gospel and the Church. I want to guard the precious literal truths that Christ was born of a virgin, that He did many astounding miracles which legitimize the claim that He is the Son of God, and that He really, physically, literally rose from the dead. But just because many parts of the Bible are literal does not mean all parts are literal.

    Here are some obvious examples of parts of the Bible which are not literal:

    1. In Pharaoh’s dream he sees cannibalistic cows eating other cows. The dream does not mean that some cows literally eat other cows (Genesis 41:20). We know this because the interpretation of the dream is given.
    2. Jesus says , “I am the gate for the sheep” (John 10:7). We know He is not a literal gate because that would be absurd.
    3. Jesus commands us, “if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out” (Matthew 9:47). Again, a literal interpretation is absurd and also inconsistent with the example of the rest of Scripture.
    4. Jesus tells the woman at the well that “an hour” is coming when people will worship God in Spirit and in truth (John 4:23, see ESV which has the literal translation “hour”). Jesus did not mean that this new worship would last only one literal hour!

    Some parts of the Bible use more symbols and symbolic language than others. Historical narratives contain little symbolism. Teaching contains more. Poetry and teaching in the form of parables use still more symbols. But the most symbolic parts of the Bible are dreams and visions. The whole book of Revelation consists of highly symbolic visions!

    The fact that Revelation is a book which should be understood symbolically is not an idea originating from either annihilationists or liberal theologians. It is the widespread view of conservative, evangelical scholars who have studied the book in great detail. I recently read two excellent commentaries on Revelation which are highly regarded by conservative evangelicals. Both of the authors have a traditional view of hell. Although they differ on many specific interpretations and have somewhat different broad interpretative schemes, they both agree on the highly symbolic nature of Revelation.

    Robert Mounce wrote:

    This should warn the reader not to expect a literal presentation of future history, but a symbolic portrayal of that which must yet take place. It is important for an adequate understanding of Revelation to remember that God is communicating his message by means of visions that are symbolic rather than literal. (Mounce, The Book of Revelation, Revised Edition, 1997, pg. 42).​

    G. K. Beale wrote:

    In this light the dictum of the popular approach to Revelation – “interpret literally unless you are forced to interpret symbolically” – should be turned on its head. Instead, the programmatic statement about the book’s precise mode of communication in 1:1 is that the warp and woof of it is symbolic, so that the preceding dictum should be reversed to say “interpret symbolically unless you are forced to interpret literally.” Better put, the reader is to expect that the main means of divine revelation in this book is symbolic. (Beale, Revelation, A Shorter Commentary, 2015, pg. 12).​

    You don’t have to take the word of scholars or spend years studying Revelation like they did to see the symbolic nature of this book. Just look for yourself! Consider these twelve examples of the massive use of symbols and symbolic language throughout Revelation:

    1. The seven lampstands are not literal lampstands (Revelation 1:12). We know this because we are told the lampstands stand for seven churches (Revelation 1:20).
    2. It is highly unlikely that there is a woman literally named Jezebel (Revelation 2:20) in the church at Thyatira. Her name symbolizes the fact that she is promoting idolatry and evil like the Jezebel of the Old Testament.
    3. God is not going to turn faithful Christians in Philadelphia into literal pillars (Revelation 3:12).
    4. Jesus does not literally have seven horns and seven eyes (Revelation 5:6). John really sees a lamb with seven horns and seven eyes IN HIS VISION and this lamb is Jesus, but this does NOT mean that Jesus really has seven eyes or seven horns (or any horns!!!).
    5. In Revelation 6:13, in his vision, John sees stars falling from the sky to earth. This does not likely mean literal stars fall to the earth. In response to this, people hide in caves (Revelation 6:15). Really? If a single literal star fell to the earth would anyone be able to hide in a cave in response? John’s vision is full of symbolic things which do not literally happen. The vision is entirely true, but its true interpretation depends on us understanding its symbolic nature.
    6. In Revelation 7:1, John sees four angels standing at “the four corners of the earth”. Does this prove the Bible is wrong since the earth does not literally have four corners? No! John is reporting what he sees in highly symbolic visions, not reporting what the earth literally looks like from space. IN HIS VISION the earth has four corners. It’s not meant to be literal.
    7. In Revelation 10:10, John eats a scroll. In his vision he is actually eating it. That doesn’t mean that in real life John had to literally eat a scroll. It is symbolic and probably means something like internalizing the truth of God which he is to then speak to others.
    8. In Revelation 12 John sees a seven headed dragon standing over a woman about to give birth. The dragon wants to eat the baby. This is shocking. The woman is given wings so she can escape from the dragon. There are many interpretations, but none of them are literal.
    9. In Revelation 13 John sees two terrible beasts. In the vision he really sees these beasts, but that does not mean these beasts are literal creatures that some people will one day meet in real life. Part of the meaning of the beasts is given to John. They seem to represent the evil use of government power and the deception of false religion. The second beast seems to be identical to the “false prophet” in Revelation.
    10. In Revelation 14, John sees “another angel” with a sharp sickle. He uses the sickle to “reap the earth”. This is not literal. John really sees this in his vision, but the reaping stands for God gathering all mankind to judgment.
    11. In Revelation 17 we read about a “great prostitute seated on many waters”. This is also not literal, as the context makes clear. In this same vision John sees the prostitute sitting on the seven headed beast and sees her drunk with the blood of the saints. John really sees this, but Revelation is not a book about a literal vampire-prostitute who rides a literal seven headed monster. It is a book about an evil alliance of materialism, abuse of government power, sexual immorality, and demonic influence which persecutes and kills some of God’s people. In the end this evil alliance is utterly defeated by our Lord Jesus Christ. Then, all God’s people, including those who were martyred, live forever in eternal joy. (note: The phrase “vampire-prostitute”, like many of the ideas in this series, is not original with me. I have been greatly helped in my understanding of the “second death” by the Rethinking Hell team, and in this case I remember Chris Date calling the prostitute a “vampire-prostitute” or something similar.)
    12. In Revelation 18:8 we are told that plagues will overtake Babylon in “a single day”. But this time period is symbolic. How do we know? One of the plagues is “famine”. Now, if I didn’t eat for one whole day I might say, “I’m famished”, but of course I would not be speaking literally!

    Many more examples could be given. There are many different interpretations of Revelation, and in some cases there is disagreement over whether a particular part of John’s vision is literal or symbolic. But the examples above show that there are many parts of John’s vision which are widely understood by theologically conservative evangelical Christians as symbolic and not literal.

    There are two main reasons the examples above are obvious symbols:

    Either a literal interpretation is absurd and ridiculous
    and/or
    John is specifically told what a part of his vision means, revealing that it was not literal.

    As I will explain, both of these reasons apply to the eternal torment seen in the lake of fire in Revelation 20. Eternal torment is absurd and ridiculous. And John is specifically told what the lake of fire means.

    Eternal Torment by Our Good God is Absurd

    First, we should recognize that the eternal torment which John saw in his visions in Revelation 14 and 20 is symbolic, not literal, because literal eternal torment would be absurd. God is perfectly represented by Jesus Christ in His character, actions, and teachings. Jesus commands us to love our enemies like our Heavenly Father does. He prayed for those who were crucifying Him. And we are supposed to believe that He would torture those same enemies for billions of years and then keep going for billions more (for ever!)? If there is no hope of redemption (which is the case after final judgment), then annihilation is neither unjust nor unloving. But eternal torture? Absurd. Jesus does not literally have seven eyes, He is not going to turn his faithful followers in literal pillars, and He is not going to literally torture the unsaved forever and ever. While our feeling that eternal torment is absurd is correct, in part 5 (this post was originally part of a 7 part series on my blog, I'm only posting part 1 here, at least for now) I will give extensive Biblical evidence to show that our feeling is in line with what the Bible teaches and is in fact a part of our God given conscious.

    In addition to the fact that eternal torment would be absurd, there is even stronger evidence that eternal torment in the lake of fire is not literal. John tells us exactly what the lake of fire means.

    A Backwards Interpretation of a Key Sentence from God’s Word

    One of the main causes of the misinterpretation of “second death” by many Christians is that a key sentence in Revelation has been interpreted backwards. In the book of Revelation, John is largely reporting what he “saw” (Revelation 1:19, and over 50 uses of “see” or “saw” throughout the book). Included in what John saw in his vision are many strange things whose meanings are not immediately obvious. In some cases John does not give us a meaning for the things he sees. But at other times he gives very explicit and simple meanings. When these helpful meanings are examined, a consistent pattern emerges.

    Let’s look at three easy to understand examples from Revelation, and then compare these to “the second death”.

    Example #1: “. . . gold bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people” (Rev 5:8b)

    [​IMG]
    In this first example, John actually does see, in his vision, golden bowls full of incense. But the incense is symbolic. We know this because John explicitly tells us the meaning. Notice also how crazy it would be to interpret Revelation 5:8 backwards. A backwards interpretation would say that the true meaning of prayer is incense. Then, whenever we read about prayer in the rest of the Bible, we would wrongly assume that prayer did not mean talking to God, but rather prayer meant burning incense. And when we went to obey the commands of the Bible to be devoted to prayer, we would buy and burn some incense. That would be ridiculous, and thankfully no one has made this mistake.


    Example #2: “Fine linen stand for the righteous acts of God’s holy people” (Rev 19:8b).

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    In this second example, John hears that the bride of Christ will wear bright and clean fine linen. He is also told that the fine linen is a symbol. This does not mean that we will not actually wear fine linen in Heaven. Perhaps we will. But the main point is that this fine linen is a symbol of the righteous acts of God’s people. How terrible (and silly) it would be if someone read a verse like Matthew 5:16 and then, based on Revelation 19:8, thought Jesus was teaching us that it was important to wear fine linen for others to see and glorify God. That would be backwards. Righteous acts do not mean wearing fine linen. Rather, wearing fine linen in John’s vision was a symbol for righteous acts.

    Example 3: “The waters you saw . . . are peoples, multitudes, nations and languages” (Rev 17:15).

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    In Revelation 17:1, John is shown a prostitute sitting on (or by) “waters”. In his vision I have no doubt that he saw “waters”. But the waters stand for peoples, multitudes, nations, and languages. Perhaps you think “waters” is a strange symbol for groups of people. But since the Bible explicitly tells us that the waters stand for nations and languages, it must be true.

    The three examples above are not difficult to understand. So, hopefully you will be able to see the very inconsistent way in which many Christians (including myself in the past!) have wrongly interpreted the lake of fire.

    [​IMG]
    The traditional view reads this verse backwards as if John saw a vision of people dying a second time and was then told that “the second death is the lake of fire”. Traditionalists then take this strange definition of death and apply it to other verses like Romans 6:23:

    Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    They say that “death” does not mean what we normally think of as “death”. Indeed, the traditional view is that the unsaved NEVER actually die. Instead they live forever in the lake of fire. Hopefully by now you can see that this is backwards. What the Bible actually says is that the lake of fire which John saw in his vision is a symbol for dying a second time.

    [​IMG]
    On the one hand, I feel like the evidence already presented in part 1 of this series should be enough to settle the meaning of second death. The pattern of how symbols in John’s visions are defined is actually quite clear and simple.

    On the other hand, I am well aware that the traditional interpretation of “second death” as eternal torment is deeply ingrained and wide spread among Bible believing Christians. Also, I am well aware of traditional counterarguments. So I believe it is best to present more evidence that “second death” literally means “to die a second time”. Thankfully, there is a LOT more evidence, as I hope you will see in the following posts (These posts are on my blog. If you choose to read them, please do come back here to Christian Forums to discuss them. )

    What is the Second Death Blog Series


    Part 1 (this blog post): Symbols and meanings
    In this post, we have looked at the use of symbols in Revelation. We have seen how the traditional view of eternal torment is a result of interpreting a symbol backwards.

    Part 2: A Mountain of Spaghetti
    In part two we will consider the different meanings, literal and metaphorical, of “death” in the Bible. We will then examine evidence to decide which of these meanings is present in the phrase “second death”.

    Part 3: Fire
    Because the phrase “second death” is explaining John’s vision of a lake of fire, we will look at the use of fire for judgment throughout the Bible. We will see that God uses fire to consume His enemies.

    Part 4: Blood
    Here we will discuss how to best interpret the only two phrases in the Bible which contain the idea of eternal torment. We will look at a massive sea of blood which John sees in his vision as an example of hyperbolic metaphor being used to describe terrible judgment.

    Part 5: Eye for Eye
    In part 5 we will look at the God-given principle of proportional punishment. We will see how this principle provides Biblical confirmation of our “gut feeling” that eternal torment is absurd and should be interpreted as hyperbolic metaphor.

    Part 6: Harmony
    This is a (very condensed) look at what the whole rest of the Bible says about the final fate of the ungodly. The Bible is always harmonious when correctly understood. We will see how the whole Bible provides the strong evidence for the annihilationist understanding of “second death”.

    Part 7: Hallowed
    Why is all this important? Why spend time and energy on trying to correct a deeply entrenched traditional interpretation? We find the answer in the Lord’s Prayer and in visions of glorious worship.
     
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  2. Mark Corbett

    Mark Corbett Well-Known Member Supporter

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  3. vinsight4u

    vinsight4u Contributor

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    /nvm
     
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  4. vinsight4u

    vinsight4u Contributor

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    /nvm
     
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  5. Mark Corbett

    Mark Corbett Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Thanks for asking about 2 Peter 2:17. First, we should note that there is a textual issue. Some manuscripts do include the word "forever" in 2 Peter 2:17 and this is reflect in several translations:

    CSB 2 Peter 2:17 These people are springs without water, mists driven by a whirlwind. The gloom of darkness has been reserved for them.

    ESV 2 Peter 2:17 These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved.

    NIV 2 Peter 2:17 These people are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them.


    However, even if the word "forever" is in fact original, it does not support your view. One of the best ways to better understand a verse it to read the verses around it. In this case, if we read 2 Peter 2:6, it can help us understand 2:17:

    NIV 2 Peter 2:6 if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly;

    Here, Peter teaches us that the same thing is going to happen to the ungodly at the final judgment as happened to Sodom and Gomorrah. More specifically, Peter says that the ungodly will be burned to ashes.

    In light of this, it is best to understand "the mist of darkness is reserved for ever" to simple mean that people are dead. Since they have been burned to ashes it cannot mean that they are alive and conscious in a dark, misty location forever. Ashes are neither alive nor conscious. Does this make sense? Let's keep talking.
     
  6. vinsight4u

    vinsight4u Contributor

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    /nvm
     
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  7. Mark Corbett

    Mark Corbett Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I agree. In Sodom, their bodies were burned to ashes, but not their souls. Here is my understanding. At our "first death" our bodies die, but our souls do not. Something different happens to our body and our soul at the first death. But in the fires of Hell, the second death, the SAME thing happens to our bodies and souls:

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

    Why do you think Peter says that the ungodly will be burned to ashes?
     
  8. vinsight4u

    vinsight4u Contributor

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    /nvm
     
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  9. vinsight4u

    vinsight4u Contributor

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    /nvm
     
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  10. Mark Corbett

    Mark Corbett Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Here are a few verses which do give evidence that the fate of the unrighteous is death:

    ESV Psalm 37:38 But transgressors shall be altogether destroyed; the future of the wicked shall be cut off.

    ESV Psalm 49:12 Man in his pomp will not remain; he is like the beasts that perish. 13 This is the path of those who have foolish confidence; yet after them people approve of their boasts. Selah

    ESV Ezekiel 18:4 Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die.

    ESV Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    ESV Revelation 21:8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death."
     
  11. Mark Corbett

    Mark Corbett Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I honestly don't understand what you are saying here. Do you believe that one part of a person might be cast into Hell and another part receive the gift of eternal life? It seems unlikely that's what you believe, but I can't work out what you're getting at in your comment.
     
  12. HighCherub

    HighCherub Active Member

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    It's apparent to me that the first death is the physical death, and the second is a total death.

    When the wicked die, their soul descends to Hell until the Final Judgement, where they are again returned to their bodies before being thrown into the Lake of fire- that's where the body and soul join in Hell.
     
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  13. vinsight4u

    vinsight4u Contributor

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    /nvm
     
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  14. SkyWriting

    SkyWriting The Librarian Supporter

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    Outside of physical existence, there is no "time."

    "Forever" is just a human catchphrase for what has no "time".
    "Forever" or "Eternity" does not mean "unending amounts of time"
    to Spirits like it does to humans.
     
  15. Der Alter

    Der Alter This is me about 1 yr. old. Supporter

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    Psa 37 is often quoted out-of-context as a proof text for annihilation-ism. This psalm is not about man's eternal fate but what happens to happens to Israels enemies, in this world.
    Psalm 37:1-2
    (1) A Psalm of David. Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.
    (2) For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.
    This Psalm is not about man's eternal fate but what happens to Israel's enemies in this life. They will be cut down like grass and wither like green plants. That is not annihilation.
    Psalm 37:9 For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth.
    10 For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be.
    Evildoers cut off like flowers and green plants, vs. 2. Israel cannot see into eternity but they can see their enemies are no longer around to attack them. That is not annihilation.
    Psalm 37:14-15
    (14) The wicked have drawn out the sword, and have bent their bow, to cast down the poor and needy, and to slay such as be of upright conversation.
    (15) Their sword shall enter into their own heart, and their bows shall be broken.
    The wicked attack Israel with the sword and bow but their sword will pierce their own heart and their bow broken. That is not annihilation.
    Psalm 37:17 For the arms of the wicked shall be broken: but the LORD upholdeth the righteous.
    The arms of the wicked are broken. That is not annihilation.
    Psalm 37:20 But the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the LORD shall be as the fat of lambs: they shall consume; into smoke shall they consume away.
    The wicked will consume away into smoke, in this world.
    Psalm 37:22 For such as be blessed of him shall inherit the earth; and they that be cursed of him shall be cut off.
    Those who are cursed by God will be cut off like flowers, wither like green plants, in this world., vs. 2. That is not annihilation.
    Psalm 37:28 For the LORD loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved for ever: but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off.
    Psalm 37:34 Wait on the LORD, and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land: when the wicked are cut off, thou shalt see it.
    Psalm 37:36 Yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not: yea, I sought him, but he could not be found.
    Psalm 37:38 But the transgressors shall be destroyed together: the end of the wicked shall be cut off.
    The wicked will be cut off like flowers, wither like green plants, vs. 2. Israel cannot see into eternity but they can see what happens to their enemies in this world. That is not annihilation.
    Yes the wages of sin is death, the soul that sins will die but the scripture does not say that the wages of sin is death, resurrection then a second death. In context Ezek 18:4 "soul" is a synecdoche for "person."

    Ezekiel 18:18-20
    (18) As for his father, because he cruelly oppressed, spoiled his brother by violence, and did that which is not good among his people, lo, even he shall die in his iniquity.
    (19) Yet say ye, Why? doth not the son bear the iniquity of the father? When the son hath done that which is lawful and right, and hath kept all my statutes, and hath done them, he shall surely live.
    (20) The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.

    There is not one single verse in Rev. which says that anyone, anything is thrown into the LoF then they die. The only thing specifically mentioned happening in the LoF is being "tormented day and night for ever and ever." And one of those being tormented, the false prophet, is a person.
     
  16. Mark Corbett

    Mark Corbett Well-Known Member Supporter

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    In the Psalms, as well as in some prophetic passages, we sometimes see a mix of messages about an immediate situation with messages related to something much bigger in the future.

    Psalm 22 is a good example. Parts of the Psalm may indeed be describing David's own anguish and painful experiences. But these give way to a deeper, bigger prophecy about the crucifixion of Christ.

    We see this type of thing also in Isaiah 7, where a prophecy about a child being born is indeed about something that happens in Isaiah's day, but it is also about something, Someone, much greater.

    I believe that while the promises and prophecies of Psalm 37 may have had some level of fulfillment in David's day, other parts of it go well beyond this and look towards the final fates of both the righteous and unrighteous. Here are some reasons I think this:

    1. The major theme of the whole Psalm is that even though evil people do sometimes prosper and succeed now, a time is coming when this will no longer be the case. The righteous will be rewarded and the unrighteous destroyed. But this promise happens only in a VERY limited way here on earth. It's complete fulfillment awaits the coming age.

    2. Some of the language about the righteous specifically mentions rewards which last "forever":

    NIV Psalm 37:18 The blameless spend their days under the LORD's care, and their inheritance will endure forever.

    NIV Psalm 37:27 Turn from evil and do good; then you will dwell in the land forever.

    NIV Psalm 37:29 The righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it forever.

    To me, it seems more likely that the eternal fate of the righteous is being compared to the eternal fate of the unrighteous than that the eternal fate of the righteous is being compared to the earthly, temporary fate of the unrighteous. This is especially true because the two fates are discussed together and contrasted with each other repeatedly.

    3. Sure, it is true that wicked people eventually die in this life. But so do righteous people! The Psalm is contrasting the righteous who will dwell in the land forever with the fate of the wicked.

    The wicked will wither and die away like grass (Psalm 37:2), be destroyed (Psalm 37:9), “be no more” (Psalm 37:10) so that even if you go looking for them you cannot find them, will perish (Psalm 37:20), will go up in smoke like grass consumed in a fire (Psalm 37:20), will be “completely destroyed” (Psalm 37:28), will pass away and be no more (Psalm 37:36), and will have no future (Psalm 37:38). That sure sounds like annihilation!

    4. The following verse seems to fit a final future fate much better than a temporal one:

    NIV Psalm 37:38 But all sinners will be destroyed; there will be no future for the wicked.

    When are all sinners destroyed? Certainly at no point in David's lifetime. And at what point can it be said that the wicked no longer have a future. There are a lot of wicked people around today who still have a future and this will be the case until the final judgment.

    So I am not denying that some of the promises of judgment are partly fulfilled here on earth. However, I do believe that this Psalm (and others) look beyond this age to what God will do at the final judgment in the age to come.
     
  17. Mark Corbett

    Mark Corbett Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I addressed this in depth in the OP above, but I don't mind addressing it briefly again. Throughout Revelation John has visions filled with symbols. Sometimes we are not told what a symbol means and so we aren't sure if it even is a symbol, and if it is we are not certain of the precise meaning. But sometimes a symbol is explained in a very straight forward way:

    “The waters you saw . . . are peoples, multitudes, nations and languages” (Rev 17:15).

    To me, "waters" seems like a strange symbol for "peoples, multitudes, nations, and languages". Nevertheless, I believe John that waters is indeed a symbol for those things in his vision.

    The same thing happens with the Lake of Fire. In his vision, John sees a lake of fire. Three being thrown into it are being tormented forever. Other things thrown into (death and Hades) are destroyed. But what does this vision mean for people? We are not left to guess. John tells us, and his answer fits with the rest of the Bible:

    NIV Revelation 20:14b The lake of fire is the second death.

    In the context of a book full of visions with occasional interpretations, this verse should be easy to understand. It means that the lake of fire is a symbol for people (the unrighteous) dying a second time. This meaning fits the context of Revelation and the meaning of "second death" earlier in Revelation (Revelation 2:11).

    So actually, Revelation does teach that the unrighteous will be resurrected, judged, and then thrown into the lake of fire, which Revelation itself defines as dying a second time.
     
  18. Mark Corbett

    Mark Corbett Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Here's the verse which says that the wages of sin is death:

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

    Notice that the wages of sin are being contrasted with the gift given to those in Christ. Since the bodies of righteous people do die here on earth, that cannot be all that is meant by "the wages of sin is death". For in that sense the righteous are no different from the unrighteous. Death here refers to the final fate of the unrighteous. The unrighteous do NOT receive the gift of eternal life. Therefore they will NOT live forever anywhere.
     
  19. Der Alter

    Der Alter This is me about 1 yr. old. Supporter

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    Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
    Romans 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
    Romans 6:23
    (23) For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
    Hebrews 9:27
    (27) And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
    I don't see the words "final fate" in any of these verses. The appointment in Heb. 9:27 satisfies the requirement of Rom. 3:23.
     
  20. Butch5

    Butch5 Newbie Supporter

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    A lot in the Eternal Conscious Torment doctrine is based on some mis translation also. Aionios, is sometimes translated as forever, when it cannot mean that. The ETC crowd often points to Jesus' use of aionios fire, translated eternal fire. However, Jude give us an example of aionios fire and it's not still burning. Jude said that Sodom and Gomorrah suffered the vengeance of aionios fire. Anyone can go to the Middle East and see that those two cities are not still burning.
     
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