Unpersuasive but Irenic: A (Thankful) Response to Terrance Tiessen

I was recently told that Dr. Terrance Tiessen, professor emeritus of Systematic Theology and Ethics at Providence Theological Seminary, once indicated that he was nearly convinced of conditional immortality, but not quite. Two years having passed since then, I wondered if perhaps Dr. Tiessen had become fully persuaded, and so I emailed him. Although he responded saying he remains persuaded of the traditional view of hell, his response was gracious and respectful, and what he wrote in a blog post shortly thereafter is deserving of not only a response but equally our thanks.

Our most sincere thanks

In his blog post “Should we rethink ‘hell’?” Dr. Tiessen had so much to say which we at Rethinking Hell are thankful for. He wrote,

I had an interesting invitation today from Chris Date, who blogs at Rethinking Hell. He asked if they could interview me for a podcast, and if I would be willing to write an endorsement for their web site. I declined on the first request but acceded to the second. They have done a very fine bit of web page development, and they are offering a good resource for people wanting to examine what Scripture has to say about the final judgment of God’s enemies.

We are grateful for Dr. Tiessen’s endorsement and can think of few compliments greater than being endorsed by someone who disagrees with us. (Check out the endorsements page to see what Dr. Tiessen had to say.) It is a compliment that deeply touches and greatly encourages all of us. What’s more, it reflects a praiseworthy attitude toward examining and discussing what the Bible as to say about hell which he explains further:

So, should we rethink hell? If, by “rethink” we mean “think again” about it, then the answer is definitely yes. I don’t suggest, however, that there is anything seriously wrong with the traditional (eternal conscious punishment) view, requiring that it be rethought with the intention of revision. One does not need to have doubts about the position one holds, to seriously reconsider its truthfulness. Given that we are all fallible, we do well to be continually thinking again about the things we believe. Sometimes, when we study someone else’s reading of Scripture, which differs from ours, we end up believing exactly what we did before we started, but sometimes we change our minds – perhaps more than once, on a given subject.

I think Dr. Tiessen put it quite well, and we at Rethinking Hell are open to the possibility that we are wrong, even if some of us possess little doubt about the truthfulness of conditionalism. We also think that open and respectful dialogue amongst evangelicals is an excellent means for discovering whether or not we are in fact wrong. We have been disappointed by the unwillingness of some critics of conditionalism to exhibit the same attitude, which makes Dr. Tiessen’s attitude refreshing.

He goes on to say,

I continue to believe that hell is eternal conscious punishment, but I am no less impressed with the quality of the exegetical work done by annihilationists, in particular by Edward Fudge in The Fire that Consumes.

Unlike the dismissive criticisms of Fudge’s work offered too often by traditionalists, Dr. Tiessen recognizes its quality, even if he doesn’t find it sufficiently persuasive to change his mind. I am certain that Fudge is no less thankful for the compliment than I am impressed by Dr. Tiessen for extending it. Whether or not one agrees with Fudge in the end, one can acknowledge the quality of his work, as Dr. Tiessen does.

All that having been said, and our thanks to Dr. Tiessen being what I want to stress most, there are some things deserving of a respectful but critical response. Dr. Tiessen writes (bold emphasis original),

Given the request I received today, I thought it might be timely for me to post my summary of the traditionalist critique of ultimate annihilationism, as published in the article on “Hell,” in the Global Dictionary of Christian Theology. I still find this critique persuasive, even though I acknowledge the force of the case for ultimate annihilationism, and I do not consider it to be a dangerous doctrine, as many fellow evangelicals do.

Of course, it is not the final sentiment in that paragraph that warrants some criticism. Quite the contrary, we are so accustomed to hearing traditionalists warn of how dangerous our view is that Dr. Tiessen’s sentiment is quite refreshing and appreciated. No, it is the critique he goes on to reproduce that, despite being persuasive to Dr. Tiessen, I find very unpersuasive and deserving of a critique of our own.

Platonism and Immortality

The first point in Dr. Tiessen’s critique reads,

(1) Many contemporary believers in eternal conscious punishment do not accept the Platonic view that souls are inherently immortal; they acknowledge that creatures exist only because God sustains them and that God can destroy both body and soul, but they insist that Scripture teaches the endless punishment of the wicked. The continued existence of condemned sinners is not the “life” which God gives only to those who are reconciled with him, but that does not mean that the wicked are annihilated.

Conditionalists do not argue that contemporary traditionalists consciously base their belief in eternal torment upon the notion that souls are inherently immortal. Rather, some conditionalists contend (rightly or wrongly) that Platonism influenced early Christians who read what Scripture has to say about final punishment through the lens of Platonism’s immortality of the soul,1 and that subsequent generations took the immortality of the soul for granted for many centuries.2 It is true, however, that modern traditionalists often do not do so, instead basing their belief in the immortality of all human beings on texts which they think teach that the unsaved will live forever in hell.3 Nevertheless, it is possible that the way early Christian philosophers understood those texts, having been biased by Platonism and which went on to be repeated for centuries, influences the way traditionalists read them today.

For example, consider the impact made by fourth century philosopher Augustine upon subsequent Christian thought. According to Henry Chadwick, “The ‘few changes’ Augustine wishes to bring to Platonism are not as modest as the serene apologetic of The City of God would have the reader think … [He] accepts that the soul is immortal, not that it is coeternal with God himself and of the same substance as its Creator.”4 Earle Ellis explains that it is upon the basis of this Platonic presupposition that “Augustine, appealing largely to … argues that the destiny of the wicked is an everlasting process of suffering of both body and soul.”5

With that in mind, consider Augustine’s argument from , alleged by Ellis to have been influenced by his Platonism. He wrote, “What a fond fancy is it to suppose that eternal punishment means long continued punishment, while eternal life means life without end, since Christ in the very same passage [] spoke of both in similar terms in one and the same sentence."6 Sixteen hundred years later, Eldon Woodcock, citing Augustine’s words, reasoned nearly identically that “ consists of two statements that are parallel to each other … That each of the two lines uses ‘eternal’ indicates that it will have the same meaning in both lines. Thus, if eternal life is everlasting, then eternal punishment will be the same."7 And many other modern traditionalists make the same basic argument from this passage.

Assuming that Chadwick and Ellis are correct, one can readily see how plausible it is that Platonism has shaped Christian reasoning concerning the nature of final punishment, even the reasoning of theologians today who are not themselves Platonists. If Augustine’s argument from was influenced by Platonism, then even if Woodcock and other traditionalists who have been influenced by Augustine’s reasoning do not themselves believe in the soul’s inherent immortality, the way they read the text may nevertheless be unknowingly influenced by Platonism. And Augustine’s influence extends far beyond this one specific passage. As Fudge points out, Augustine’s impact is quite far reaching:8

Augustine’s influence extended to medieval scholasticism, to Calvin and Reformed Protestantism, and to Tridentine Roman Catholicism alike. Indeed, from his time forward, one would be hard pressed to find a major break between Augustinian thinking and the teaching of the magisterial churches of the Reformation or of the post-Reformation Roman Catholic Church.

In any case, just what does the Bible say about man’s immortality—or lack thereof? In the beginning, God sent Adam and Eve out of the garden so that they will not have access to the tree of life and live forever (), so at least since the fall man is not immortal. In what may be the most famous verse in Scripture, we’re told that "whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life" (), implying that those who do not believe in Jesus will perish and won’t live forever. A few verses later it is not just implied but explicitly stated: "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life" (). The very text cited by Augustine and Woodcock limits eternal life to the righteous, requiring that the unsaved will not live forever.

It is no wonder, then, that the Scriptures indicate that what sinners deserve is death. Paul tells the Romans that "those who practice [things which are not proper] are worthy of death" (), that "the outcome of those things is death" (6:21), and that whereas eternal life is a gift, "the wages of sin is death" (6:23). In the apocalyptic imagery of Revelation the tree of life which would have kept Adam and Eve alive forever is available only to servants of the Lamb (), and both John and God himself interpret the perplexing vision as symbolizing "the second death" of those who have risen from their first death (), indicating that they will die again. And just what was the punishment Jesus bore on behalf of his people, which therefore awaits those who are not his? It was primarily his death; as Paul says it is "of first importance" (), a physical death such that he was "put to death in the flesh" ().

The Bible, then, does not simply say that a certain kind of life will be given only to those who are reconciled with him, and withheld from everyone else. No, it says the unredeemed will not live at all.

Eternal Punishment

Next, Dr. Tiessen writes,

(2) Scripture speaks of the punishment of the wicked as being of the same duration as the blessing of the righteous, i.e., eternal (aionios), or forever and ever (Is 33:14; 66:24; ; ; ; ; ; ), and nothing in the context of these passages indicates that the word “eternal” has a different meaning in the two cases.

That’s right: Scripture does speak of the punishment of the wicked as being of eternal duration, as the blessing of the righteous is eternal in duration. But that doesn’t tell us what is the nature of that punishment, the duration of which is eternal. The duration of a person’s punishment can be measured either in its process or in its effect.9 While the duration of corporal punishment, for example, is measured in the duration of the pain inflicted, the duration of capital punishment is instead measured in the time during which one is not alive. And so the fact that Scripture teaches that the punishment of the wicked and the bliss of the righteous will be of equal and eternal duration does not rule out annihilation as that eternal punishment.

As for the texts Dr. Tiessen cites in support of this point, I have said for some time now that what has convinced me most of the truthfulness of conditional immortality is that with virtually no exception, every proof-text typically pointed to by traditionalists proves upon further examination to be better support for the annihilation of the risen wicked than for their eternal torment. The texts Dr. Tiessen cites in this portion of his critique are no exception.

; ;

rhetorically asks, "Who among us can live with the consuming fire? Who among us can live with continual [or everlasting] burning?" One of two answers may be implied, either of which is devastating to the traditional interpretation. One possibility is that no one can, the "continual burning" being something to which only the wicked are subjected. The other possibility is that only those who are described in the following verse as walking righteously can dwell in the "continual burning" that is the holiness of God himself, the quintessential consuming fire (; ). Either way, the implication is that no wicked person can live with the consuming, everlasting fire that consumes chaff, stubble, and thorns ().

As Fudge explains, "Some traditionalists have interpreted as referring to unending conscious torment, but the entire context argues otherwise. picture total destruction by fire. This fire consumes, which is why no wicked person can ‘dwell’ with it."10 No unredeemed sinner will survive God’s ever-burning anger, of which we also read in . That’s exactly what we conditionalists affirm, whereas traditionalists posit that the unsaved will live in the everlasting fire for eternity.

, cited by Jesus in , explicitly says that what is portrayed being fed upon by fire and maggots are the dead bodies of the wicked. This picture is quite different from the traditional view of hell in which the risen bodies of the lost will live forever. What’s more, the idiom of a fire which won’t be quenched, used also in , is used throughout Scripture to refer to a fire, being incapable of being prematurely extinguished, which completely consumes.11 And the undying maggot, like imagery elsewhere of scavengers being unable to be frightened away from carrion, is one which will not be prevented from fully consuming its host.12 Far from challenging conditionalism, this text is strong support for it.

; ;

Similar to and , refers to "eternal fire," but gives no indication that the unsaved will suffer in that fire for eternity. Quite the contrary, in Jesus calls it Gehenna, which is the Greek transliteration of the Hebrew “valley of [the sons of] Hinnom,” also known as Topheth, which was once a place where idol worshippers burned children as sacrifices to their gods. But says that Gehenna would become “the valley of slaughter … The dead bodies of this people will be food for the birds of the sky and for the beasts of the earth; and no one will frighten them away.” speaks of God’s fiery vengeance upon Gehenna, likening it to a funeral pyre, which is a pile of wood for burning up corpses. Jude uses the phrase "eternal fire" to describe the fire which came down from heaven and destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. Thus, eternal fire is not fire in which the lost will consciously burn for eternity, but the eternal and consuming fire from God that completely destroys.

The phrase "eternal fire" is also used in the subsequent text Dr. Tiessen cites, and 46. Again, the meaning of "eternal punishment" in is ambiguous in and of itself, between a punishment whose duration is measured in its process and one whose duration is measured in its effect. When "eternal" (aionios) describes other "nouns of action" like punishment, such as "eternal salvation" () and "eternal redemption" (), the noun’s duration is often measured in its effect. “Eternal fire” in resolves the ambiguity, confirming that "eternal punishment" is likewise measured in its effect: the result of being completely destroyed, never to live again.

Like "eternal punishment" already mentioned, "eternal destruction" in is ambiguous by itself, and its duration may be measured in its process or its effect. But consider that in the preceding verse—or verses, depending on the translation—Paul says Jesus will be revealed "in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance." As traditionalist G. K. Beale points out, " [is] the only place in the Old Testament where this combination of terms is found,"13 and both passages talk about God rendering recompense to the saints’ oppressors. As we’ve seen, ends with a picture of God having violently slain his enemies, reducing them to rotting, smoldering corpses. This tells us, then, that the duration of "eternal destruction" is measured in its effect: the everlasting effect of being destroyed and rendered lifeless.

does superficially sound rather like the traditional view, but we must take care in interpreting the vivid imagery. In the imagery of the harlot Mystery Babylon is tormented as well (), but as for the city which she represents the interpreting angel has this to say in : “Babylon, the great city, [will] be thrown down with violence, and will not be found any longer.” And at the beginning of the next chapter, smoke rises forever from the harlot, just like it does from the beast-worshippers of . So the imagery of smoke rising forever from the torment of the harlot symbolizes the permanent destruction of the city the harlot represents.

In fact, this language of “not found any longer” comes straight from , whose prophecy concerns the destruction of the city of Tyre: “You will not be inhabited … you will be no more; though you will be sought, you will never be found again” (). And the ever-rising smoke in both and 19 comes straight from describing the destruction of the city of Edom: “It will not be quenched night or day; Its smoke will go up forever.”

Now nobody thinks Edom will literally burn forever, that smoke will actually rise from its remains throughout eternity. The imagery of smoke rising forever communicates the permanency of Edom’s destruction and that of the city represented by the harlot, Mystery Babylon. Therefore, the smoke of the torment of the beast-worshippers rising forever is imagery communicating their permanent destruction.

The imagery in depicts the devil, beast, and false prophet “tormented day and night forever and ever”—the latter two having begun their torment a thousand years earlier—after which unbelievers are raised and thrown into the fire. We’ve already seen how Revelation uses the imagery of the harlot’s torment to communicate the permanent destruction of the city she represents. The eternal torment of the devil, beast and false prophet is likewise symbolism communicating their permanent destruction.

This is why the beast is observed being thrown into the fire. John’s readers would have immediately recognized it as the fourth beast of with characteristics of the previous three beasts, imagery foretelling the same events as Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the statue in . Taken at face value the images contradict one another. The statue is shattered to pieces. Daniel’s beast is killed and its body destroyed in a river of fire, while John’s beast is thrown alive into a lake of fire and tormented eternally. But for Daniel’s visions the angel interprets the fate of the beast or the statue as communicating the permanent end to the dominion of the kingdom it represents, succeeded by the kingdom of the reigning saints—a kingdom which John also sees, immediately after the beast is thrown into the fire, further supporting that the same events are being foretold in the imagery.

John also sees death and Hades thrown into the fire. Yet death and Hades are abstractions, incapable in reality of being tormented to begin with. And if we suppose that they aren’t tormented because John does not mention their torment, then we must also suppose that the risen wicked aren’t tormented and for the same reason. But these abstractions, death and Hades, can and will come to an end. There’s a reason we call it the intermediate state. And in Paul says death will be abolished, a word meaning “to make completely ineffectual.” Death is rendered ineffectual insofar as no one will experience it ever again; it cannot continue to exist powerlessly, having thus come to an end.

The lake of fire can be treated consistently within Revelation and Daniel only if we accept that eternal torment in the imagery symbolizes a permanent end in reality. Death and Hades come to a permanent end. The beast’s dominion comes to a permanent end. Consistent application of the imagery demands that the same be true of the devil and the risen wicked: they likewise come to a permanent end. And this really should come as no surprise, since both John and God himself interpret the lake of fire imagery for us in and 21:8, respectively. We are told that it symbolizes “the second death.” Whereas the first death is temporary, insofar as it is reversed in resurrection, the second death is permanent.

No Penitent in Hell

The third point Dr. Tiessen wishes to make in critiquing the case for conditionalism reads,

(3) In response to the charge that endless punishment would be an infinite penalty for a finite sin, the point made above to universalists applies again, but traditionalists also observe that sinners continue to be consciously punished because they continue to rebel against God or because they are not repentant, even when they are subdued.

While this may answer the charge leveled against the traditional view of hell by some of its critics, that eternal conscious punishing does not fit the crime of a finite accumulation of sins committed in this life, it doesn’t serve as a challenge to conditionalism. D. A. Carson has offered the same justification for an eternity of punitive suffering, but as I’ve written before, responding to Carson in "No Penitent in Hell: A [Reformed] Response to D. A. Carson,"

the result of being punished—their punishment—will be eternal. The wicked will rise to judgment, be killed, and never live again. Since their punishment is without limit, it absorbs whatever retributive debt might be accumulated as the wicked continue to rebel during their execution … annihilation as the final, permanent, capital punishment is eternal and infinite. Like its contemporary counterpart it can serve as the penalty for any number of sins, both those committed prior to death and following resurrection, up until the moment the risen wicked breathe their last.

In fact, one might argue that the most likely reason Scripture describes a single, final judgment at a point in time, rather than an eternally ongoing process by which sins committed in hell are continually judged, is because the impenitent will not be around to sin further, having been executed.

The goodness and love of God

Fourth, Dr. Tiessen suggests that,

(4) The goodness and love of God are not compromised by his holiness and the exercise of his justice. It is because God is eternal that our experience of his love, either as fellowship or as wrath, lasts forever (, cf. ).

Perhaps to the chagrin of many of my fellow conditionalists, I believe that the traditional view of hell, as eternally ongoing punishing, is compatible with the love, goodness and justice of God. Excepting Dr. Tiessen’s statement that one’s experience of God’s wrath is forever (for which no supporting evidence has stood up to scrutiny), I can agree with him.

Lapse in chronology

Next, Dr. Tiessen writes,

(5) An exegetical problem occurs when annihilationists force a chronological lapse of time into New Testament passages in order to make a distinction between passages that speak of punishment and those which speak of destruction, which would allow for a time of suffering prior to annihilation.

Responding to this point is a little difficult, because the claim that we face an "exegetical problem" is not backed up; it is merely stated. And no specific texts are cited. What’s more, Dr. Tiessen mistakenly sets up a false dichotomy between "punishment" and "destruction;" namely, it is our contention that destruction is the punishment awaiting the risen wicked. But we believe that destruction may occur by means of a process which inflicts varying degrees of suffering—which requires no stretch of the imagination, since modern means of execution inflict varying degrees of suffering, and since the Lord’s execution itself spanned several agonizing hours.

In fact, speaking of the atonement, again consider which says, "Christ also died for sins once for all … having been put to death in the flesh." Now consider in which the same author says, "Christ also suffered for you." Were Dr. Tiessen’s criticism valid, then would not all Christians face an "exegetical problem" when they "force a chronological lapse of time into New Testament passages in order to make a distinction between passages that speak of [Christ’s suffering] and those which speak of [His death]?" The reality is that the punishment Jesus bore on behalf of His people consisted in both suffering and death—a violent, painful execution. It’s no wonder, therefore, that Scripture speaks of both, not always in the same sentence, and since that’s precisely what conditionalists believe awaits the risen unsaved, one might expect to see some texts which speak of the suffering that awaits the lost, and others which speak of their death.

"Destroy" and the age to come

As the sixth point in his critique, Dr. Tiessen writes,

(6) The terms translated “destroy” (apollumi, olethros, phtheiro)4 [sic] do not necessarily indicate annihilation, although it is a possibility in some instances. Even in the instances when “eternal” has a qualitative rather than a temporal sense, referring to destruction that lasts “for an age,” the age referred to is the age to come, which has no end.

Like most words in biblical languages—indeed, like most words in any language—of course the semantic domains of terms translated "destroy" span multiple meanings. It does not follow, however, that they may carry any of those meanings in any given text. Context determines which meaning from among a word’s semantic domain is the meaning intended. In , for example, Jesus says, "Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear him who is able to destroy [apollymi] both soul and body in hell." Here the context is fearing God who can do what man is incapable of doing: killing the soul. And in every single instance in which the word apollymi appears in the synoptic gospels, in the active voice and describing the actions of one personal agent toward another, it means something like "slay" or "kill".14 Therefore, whatever the semantic range is for apollymi, in it’s used to say God will kill the bodies and souls of the unredeemed in hell.

As for the position of some conditionalists concerning the qualitative versus quantitative understandings of "eternal" (aionios), my position, as explained above, is that the word does, in fact, carry the temporal meaning of "for eternity" in ("eternal punishment") and ("eternal destruction"). The nouns of actions qualified as "eternal," demonstrated by the context to refer to the outcome of their corresponding verbs, are everlasting in duration. The punishment—the ensuing lifelessness of being destroyed—lasts forever. As such, Dr. Tiessen’s criticism does not apply to most of us here at Rethinking Hell.

As for those conditionalists who do suggest aionios has a qualitative meaning rather than a temporal one, they do not mean that the thing which is characterized as aionios lasts as long as an age but rather that its nature or quality is characteristic of the age to which it belongs.15 That the age to come has no end would not, therefore, challenge those conditionalists who argue from this understanding of "eternal," since it would be the quality of that unending age, not its duration, which is shared by that which is described as "eternal."

Death No More

Dr. Tiessen’s second-to-last point reads,

(7) In regard to death being “no more” (), the point is that death is now outside the new heavens and new earth, thrown into the lake of fire and not a part of the creation that replaces the old creation in which death is so large a factor since sin.

I will confess that I find the claim somewhat strange, even potentially self-contradictory. After all, traditionalists often outright deny the reality of death in hell, saying things like: the body that rises "dies not again;"16 "the evil ones … shall be made immortal;"17 "Every human being ever born lives forever;"18 "everybody lives forever;"19 and that the unsaved "will continue living in a state with a low quality of life."20 If everyone will live forever upon rising from the dead, whether covered by the blood of Christ or not, why argue that the sense in which death is rendered "no more" in is limited to the new heavens and new earth? I don’t get it.

In any case, not having access to the text which precedes the critique Dr. Tiessen is reproducing, I’m not aware of the way in which he is considering whether death’s being rendered "no more" in is a challenge to the traditional view of hell. Besides, I don’t personally argue from this verse. However, as pointed out above, in the previous chapter John sees death and Hades thrown into the same lake of fire into which he sees the risen wicked thrown. Dr. Tiessen’s explanation, that death is constrained to outside the new heavens and new earth, can’t apply to Hades, the intermediate state. There’s a reason it’s called intermediate. Therefore, its being seen thrown into the fire is imagery communicating its end everywhere, not just in the new heavens and new earth, suggesting that the same is true of death. No wonder, then, that Paul says in that death will be "abolished," using a Greek word meaning "to render inoperative."21 If death is rendered inoperative, no one will ever die again.

Traditionalists ought to be comfortable with that, since they believe everyone will live forever in hell, but of course then they have to explain why the casting of death and Hades into the lake of fire is symbolism communicating their end—their annihilation, if you will—while the casting of the risen wicked into it is symbolism for their eternal torment.

The final victory of God

Finally, Dr. Tiessen writes,

(8) As to the final victory of God, the comments above in response to universalism also address the annihilationist concerns. (375-76)

Without access to the response to universalism which precedes the critique Dr. Tiessen is reproducing, I don’t know how the final victory of God is presented as a challenge to the traditional view of hell, nor the nature of Dr. Tiessen’s response to universalists who raise it.

However, it’s important to recognize that this is not a philosophical argument conditionalists are making. The argument is not that a final victory in which sin no longer stains any part of God’s creation is better than a final victory in which sin has been isolated forever in hell, separate from God’s eternal kingdom. I shall quote fellow Rethinking Hell contributor, Dr. Glenn Peoples, who summarizes what the argument really is, which he calls "The Biblical Vision of Eternity:"22

The Bible paints for us a broad picture of what eternity will be like, a "big picture." Not every detail is spelt out, to be sure, but as a grand cosmic layout, one fact of eternity is glaringly clear: There is no place for evil in it … Scripture tells us that a time will come when evil will be no more. It does so explicitly on a couple of occasions. In the redeemed creation, God will have an unblemished slate …

Dr. Peoples goes on, taking the proverbial gloves off:23

Perversely, defenders of the doctrine of eternal torment have taught the opposite of Scripture here, and even worse: That not only will creation be forever divided into a stark dualism of glory and anguish, heaven and hell, but that this will actually be something that we take great pleasure in.

While I have not made this argument, it’s an argument worth considering, one which I suspect is not so easily answered. I encourage the reader to hear Dr. Peoples present the argument in episode 4 of the Rethinking Hell podcast.

Unpersuasive but irenic

So the critique Dr. Tiessen reproduces in his blog post is not persuasive to me, either as a response to the case for annihilationism or as a case in favor of the traditional view of hell. It is not simply a kind of life which will be withheld from the unsaved; it will be life of any sort, and they will instead die. The texts Dr. Tiessen cites to support the eternal conscious punishing of the lost prove to be better support for the annihilation of the lost. Scripture speaks of the punishment Christ bore as consisting in both his suffering and his death, and if the risen wicked will likewise be violently executed, you find what you would expect when you see their punishment spoken of in terms of both their suffering and their death. And while apollymi has a semantic domain which includes meanings other than "slay" or "kill," its context in tells us that God will execute the whole person in hell, both body and soul.

That having been said, I truly admire and appreciate Dr. Tiessen for his words and attitude found in the blog post where he reproduced his critique. He is willing to commend Rethinking Hell for the quality of its content and presentation, despite our significant disagreement concerning the nature of final punishment. He is willing to consider and discuss alternatives to his reading of Scripture in light of the fact that, like all of us, he is fallible. He recognizes that as Christians we need not break fellowship over this topic, and that conditionalism is not the danger that so many traditionalists seem to think it is. If every Christian on both sides of this debate exhibited this kind of attitude, I can only imagine how fruitful the dialogue would be.

Thank you, Dr. Tiessen. I hope I have been able to maintain the kind of respectful attitude in my critique that you did in your blog post.

  1. Edward Fudge, The Fire That Consumes, 3rd ed. (Cascade, 2011), 263. []
  2. Ibid., 287-88. []
  3. Robert A. Peterson and Edward W. Fudge, Two Views of Hell: A Biblical & Theological Dialogue (Intervarsity, 2010), Kindle Edition, 88-89. []
  4. H. Chadwick, Augustine of Hippo: A Life (Oxford University, 2010), 134. []
  5. E. Earle Ellis, “New Testament teaching on hell,” in Kent Brower and Mark Elliot (Eds.), Eschatology in Bible and Theology: Evangelical Essays at the Dawn of a New Millennium (InterVarsity, 1999), 201. []
  6. Augustine, The City of God (2011-10-04), enhanced Kindle edition, 17030-17032. []
  7. Eldon Woodcock, Hell: An Exhaustive Look at a Burning Issue (WestBowPress, 2012), Kindle edition, 4986-4992. []
  8. Fudge, The Fire That Consumes, 296. []
  9. "’Punishment’ and the polysemy of deverbal nouns." Hosted by Chris Date. Rethinking Hell [podcast], June 19, 2012. http://www.rethinkinghell.com/2012/06/eternal-punishment-and-the-polysemy-of-deverbal-nouns/ []
  10. Fudge, The Fire That Consumes, 74. []
  11. "The fire is not quenched: Annihilation and (Part 2)." Hosted by Chris Date. Rethinking Hell [podcast], November 20, 2012. http://www.rethinkinghell.com/2012/11/the-fire-is-not-quenched-annihilation-and-mark-948-part-2/ []
  12. "Their worm does not die: Annihilation and ." Hosted by Chris Date. Rethinking Hell [podcast], July 17, 2012. http://www.rethinkinghell.com/2012/07/their-worm-does-not-die-annihilation-and-mark-948/ []
  13. G. K. Beale, “1–2 Thessalonians,” in The IVP New Testament Commentary Series (IVP Academic, 2010). 189. []
  14. Glenn A. Peoples, "The meaning of ‘apollumi’ in the Synoptic Gospels," Rethinking Hell [blog], October 27, 2012. http://www.rethinkinghell.com/2012/10/the-meaning-of-apollumi-in-the-synoptic-gospels/ [Retrieved December 21, 2012.] []
  15. Fudge, The Fire That Consumes, 36-37. []
  16. John Gill, A Body of Doctrinal Divinity: Or a System of Evangelical Truths (Baptist Standard Bearer, 2001), 679. []
  17. The Belgic Confession, Article 37. http://www.reformed.org/documents/BelgicConfession.html [Retrieved 21 December 2012] []
  18. John MacArthur, "The answer to life’s greatest question, Part 1." http://www.gty.org/resources/print/sermons/42-141/ [Retrieved 21 December 2012] []
  19. "Christopher Morgan on hell and inclusivism." Hosted by Greg Koukl. Stand to Reason [radio], June 5, 2011. http://www.strcast2.org/podcast/weekly/060511.mp3 [1:09:25] []
  20. Gary Habermas and J. P. Moreland, Immortality: The Other Side of Death (Thomas Nelson, 1992), 173. []
  21. "Dictionary and Word Search for katargeō (Strong’s 2673)". Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2012. 26 Dec 2012. http:// www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G2673&t=KJV []
  22. Glenn A. Peoples, “Why I am an annihilationist,” [PDF] p. 6. []
  23. Ibid. p. 8. []

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken.

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

32 Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.

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.”

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,

18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,

You shall loosen your hand from your heritage that I gave to you, and I will make you serve your enemies in a land that you do not know, for in my anger a fire is kindled that shall burn forever.”

And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire.

Matthew 25:41

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

Matthew 25:46

46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

43 And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. 45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, 48 ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’

They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might,

just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

11 And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.”

Revelation 20:10

10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

14 The sinners in Zion are afraid;
trembling has seized the godless:
“Who among us can dwell with the consuming fire?
Who among us can dwell with everlasting burnings?”

Isaiah 66:24

24 “And they shall go out and look on the dead bodies of the men who have rebelled against me. For their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.”

You shall loosen your hand from your heritage that I gave to you, and I will make you serve your enemies in a land that you do not know, for in my anger a fire is kindled that shall burn forever.”

43 And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. 45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, 48 ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’

14 The sinners in Zion are afraid;
trembling has seized the godless:
“Who among us can dwell with the consuming fire?
Who among us can dwell with everlasting burnings?”

24 For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.

29 for our God is a consuming fire.

11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

12 Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees,

14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

12 Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees,

You shall loosen your hand from your heritage that I gave to you, and I will make you serve your enemies in a land that you do not know, for in my anger a fire is kindled that shall burn forever.”

24 “And they shall go out and look on the dead bodies of the men who have rebelled against me. For their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.”

48 ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’

43 And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire.

48 ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’

48 ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’

And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire.

Matthew 25:41

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

Matthew 25:46

46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might,

just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

14 The sinners in Zion are afraid;
trembling has seized the godless:
“Who among us can dwell with the consuming fire?
Who among us can dwell with everlasting burnings?”

You shall loosen your hand from your heritage that I gave to you, and I will make you serve your enemies in a land that you do not know, for in my anger a fire is kindled that shall burn forever.”

And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire.

And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.

32 Therefore, behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when it will no more be called Topheth, or the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter; for they will bury in Topheth, because there is no room elsewhere.

33 For a burning place has long been prepared; indeed, for the king it is made ready, its pyre made deep and wide, with fire and wood in abundance; the breath of the Lord, like a stream of sulfur, kindles it.

Egypt’s help is worthless and empty;
therefore I have called her
“Rahab who sits still.”

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him,

12 he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.

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They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might,

15 “For behold, the Lord will come in fire,
and his chariots like the whirlwind,
to render his anger in fury,
and his rebuke with flames of fire.

66:1 Thus says the Lord:
“Heaven is my throne,
and the earth is my footstool;
what is the house that you would build for me,
and what is the place of my rest?
All these things my hand has made,
and so all these things came to be,
declares the Lord.
But this is the one to whom I will look:
he who is humble and contrite in spirit
and trembles at my word.

“He who slaughters an ox is like one who kills a man;
he who sacrifices a lamb, like one who breaks a dog’s neck;
he who presents a grain offering, like one who offers pig’s blood;
he who makes a memorial offering of frankincense, like one who blesses an idol.
These have chosen their own ways,
and their soul delights in their abominations;
I also will choose harsh treatment for them
and bring their fears upon them,
because when I called, no one answered,
when I spoke, they did not listen;
but they did what was evil in my eyes
and chose that in which I did not delight.”

Hear the word of the Lord,
you who tremble at his word:
“Your brothers who hate you
and cast you out for my name’s sake
have said, ‘Let the Lord be glorified,
that we may see your joy’;
but it is they who shall be put to shame.

“The sound of an uproar from the city!
A sound from the temple!
The sound of the Lord,
rendering recompense to his enemies!

“Before she was in labor
she gave birth;
before her pain came upon her
she delivered a son.
Who has heard such a thing?
Who has seen such things?
Shall a land be born in one day?
Shall a nation be brought forth in one moment?
For as soon as Zion was in labor
she brought forth her children.
Shall I bring to the point of birth and not cause to bring forth?”
says the Lord;
“shall I, who cause to bring forth, shut the womb?”
says your God.

10 “Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her,
all you who love her;
rejoice with her in joy,
all you who mourn over her;
11 that you may nurse and be satisfied
from her consoling breast;
that you may drink deeply with delight
from her glorious abundance.”

12 For thus says the Lord:
“Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river,
and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream;
and you shall nurse, you shall be carried upon her hip,
and bounced upon her knees.
13 As one whom his mother comforts,
so I will comfort you;
you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.
14 You shall see, and your heart shall rejoice;
your bones shall flourish like the grass;
and the hand of the Lord shall be known to his servants,
and he shall show his indignation against his enemies.

15 “For behold, the Lord will come in fire,
and his chariots like the whirlwind,
to render his anger in fury,
and his rebuke with flames of fire.
16 For by fire will the Lord enter into judgment,
and by his sword, with all flesh;
and those slain by the Lord shall be many.

17 “Those who sanctify and purify themselves to go into the gardens, following one in the midst, eating pig’s flesh and the abomination and mice, shall come to an end together, declares the Lord.

18 “For I know their works and their thoughts, and the time is coming to gather all nations and tongues. And they shall come and shall see my glory, 19 and I will set a sign among them. And from them I will send survivors to the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, who draw the bow, to Tubal and Javan, to the coastlands far away, that have not heard my fame or seen my glory. And they shall declare my glory among the nations. 20 And they shall bring all your brothers from all the nations as an offering to the Lord, on horses and in chariots and in litters and on mules and on dromedaries, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, says the Lord, just as the Israelites bring their grain offering in a clean vessel to the house of the Lord. 21 And some of them also I will take for priests and for Levites, says the Lord.

22 “For as the new heavens and the new earth
that I make
shall remain before me, says the Lord,
so shall your offspring and your name remain.
23 From new moon to new moon,
and from Sabbath to Sabbath,
all flesh shall come to worship before me,
declares the Lord.

24 “And they shall go out and look on the dead bodies of the men who have rebelled against me. For their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.”

And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.”

And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.”

18:1 After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was made bright with his glory. And he called out with a mighty voice,

“Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great!
She has become a dwelling place for demons,
a haunt for every unclean spirit,
a haunt for every unclean bird,
a haunt for every unclean and detestable beast.
For all nations have drunk
the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality,
and the kings of the earth have committed immorality with her,
and the merchants of the earth have grown rich from the power of her luxurious living.”

Then I heard another voice from heaven saying,

“Come out of her, my people,
lest you take part in her sins,
lest you share in her plagues;
for her sins are heaped high as heaven,
and God has remembered her iniquities.
Pay her back as she herself has paid back others,
and repay her double for her deeds;
mix a double portion for her in the cup she mixed.
As she glorified herself and lived in luxury,
so give her a like measure of torment and mourning,
since in her heart she says,
‘I sit as a queen,
I am no widow,
and mourning I shall never see.’
For this reason her plagues will come in a single day,
death and mourning and famine,
and she will be burned up with fire;
for mighty is the Lord God who has judged her.”

And the kings of the earth, who committed sexual immorality and lived in luxury with her, will weep and wail over her when they see the smoke of her burning. 10 They will stand far off, in fear of her torment, and say,

“Alas! Alas! You great city,
you mighty city, Babylon!
For in a single hour your judgment has come.”

11 And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn for her, since no one buys their cargo anymore, 12 cargo of gold, silver, jewels, pearls, fine linen, purple cloth, silk, scarlet cloth, all kinds of scented wood, all kinds of articles of ivory, all kinds of articles of costly wood, bronze, iron and marble, 13 cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, frankincense, wine, oil, fine flour, wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and slaves, that is, human souls.

14 “The fruit for which your soul longed
has gone from you,
and all your delicacies and your splendors
are lost to you,
never to be found again!”

15 The merchants of these wares, who gained wealth from her, will stand far off, in fear of her torment, weeping and mourning aloud,

16 “Alas, alas, for the great city
that was clothed in fine linen,
in purple and scarlet,
adorned with gold,
with jewels, and with pearls!
17 For in a single hour all this wealth has been laid waste.”

And all shipmasters and seafaring men, sailors and all whose trade is on the sea, stood far off 18 and cried out as they saw the smoke of her burning,

“What city was like the great city?”

19 And they threw dust on their heads as they wept and mourned, crying out,

“Alas, alas, for the great city
where all who had ships at sea
grew rich by her wealth!
For in a single hour she has been laid waste.
20 Rejoice over her, O heaven,
and you saints and apostles and prophets,
for God has given judgment for you against her!”

21 Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying,

“So will Babylon the great city be thrown down with violence,
and will be found no more;
22 and the sound of harpists and musicians, of flute players and trumpeters,
will be heard in you no more,
and a craftsman of any craft
will be found in you no more,
and the sound of the mill
will be heard in you no more,
23 and the light of a lamp
will shine in you no more,
and the voice of bridegroom and bride
will be heard in you no more,
for your merchants were the great ones of the earth,
and all nations were deceived by your sorcery.
24 And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints,
and of all who have been slain on earth.”

As she glorified herself and lived in luxury,
so give her a like measure of torment and mourning,
since in her heart she says,
‘I sit as a queen,
I am no widow,
and mourning I shall never see.’

Revelation 18:10

10 They will stand far off, in fear of her torment, and say,

“Alas! Alas! You great city,
you mighty city, Babylon!
For in a single hour your judgment has come.”

Revelation 18:15

15 The merchants of these wares, who gained wealth from her, will stand far off, in fear of her torment, weeping and mourning aloud,

21 Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying,

“So will Babylon the great city be thrown down with violence,
and will be found no more;

14:1 Then I looked, and behold, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven like the roar of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder. The voice I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps, and they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. It is these who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins. It is these who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These have been redeemed from mankind as firstfruits for God and the Lamb, and in their mouth no lie was found, for they are blameless.

Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. And he said with a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.”

Another angel, a second, followed, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who made all nations drink the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality.”

And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.”

12 Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.

13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”

14 Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and seated on the cloud one like a son of man, with a golden crown on his head, and a sharp sickle in his hand. 15 And another angel came out of the temple, calling with a loud voice to him who sat on the cloud, “Put in your sickle, and reap, for the hour to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe.” 16 So he who sat on the cloud swung his sickle across the earth, and the earth was reaped.

17 Then another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. 18 And another angel came out from the altar, the angel who has authority over the fire, and he called with a loud voice to the one who had the sharp sickle, “Put in your sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, for its grapes are ripe.” 19 So the angel swung his sickle across the earth and gathered the grape harvest of the earth and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. 20 And the winepress was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed from the winepress, as high as a horse’s bridle, for 1,600 stadia.

26:1 In the eleventh year, on the first day of the month, the word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, because Tyre said concerning Jerusalem, ‘Aha, the gate of the peoples is broken; it has swung open to me. I shall be replenished, now that she is laid waste,’ therefore thus says the Lord God: Behold, I am against you, O Tyre, and will bring up many nations against you, as the sea brings up its waves. They shall destroy the walls of Tyre and break down her towers, and I will scrape her soil from her and make her a bare rock. She shall be in the midst of the sea a place for the spreading of nets, for I have spoken, declares the Lord God. And she shall become plunder for the nations, and her daughters on the mainland shall be killed by the sword. Then they will know that I am the Lord.

“For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will bring against Tyre from the north Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, king of kings, with horses and chariots, and with horsemen and a host of many soldiers. He will kill with the sword your daughters on the mainland. He will set up a siege wall against you and throw up a mound against you, and raise a roof of shields against you. He will direct the shock of his battering rams against your walls, and with his axes he will break down your towers. 10 His horses will be so many that their dust will cover you. Your walls will shake at the noise of the horsemen and wagons and chariots, when he enters your gates as men enter a city that has been breached. 11 With the hoofs of his horses he will trample all your streets. He will kill your people with the sword, and your mighty pillars will fall to the ground. 12 They will plunder your riches and loot your merchandise. They will break down your walls and destroy your pleasant houses. Your stones and timber and soil they will cast into the midst of the waters. 13 And I will stop the music of your songs, and the sound of your lyres shall be heard no more. 14 I will make you a bare rock. You shall be a place for the spreading of nets. You shall never be rebuilt, for I am the Lord; I have spoken, declares the Lord God.

15 “Thus says the Lord God to Tyre: Will not the coastlands shake at the sound of your fall, when the wounded groan, when slaughter is made in your midst? 16 Then all the princes of the sea will step down from their thrones and remove their robes and strip off their embroidered garments. They will clothe themselves with trembling; they will sit on the ground and tremble every moment and be appalled at you. 17 And they will raise a lamentation over you and say to you,

“‘How you have perished,
you who were inhabited from the seas,
O city renowned,
who was mighty on the sea;
she and her inhabitants imposed their terror
on all her inhabitants!
18 Now the coastlands tremble
on the day of your fall,
and the coastlands that are on the sea
are dismayed at your passing.’

19 “For thus says the Lord God: When I make you a city laid waste, like the cities that are not inhabited, when I bring up the deep over you, and the great waters cover you, 20 then I will make you go down with those who go down to the pit, to the people of old, and I will make you to dwell in the world below, among ruins from of old, with those who go down to the pit, so that you will not be inhabited; but I will set beauty in the land of the living. 21 I will bring you to a dreadful end, and you shall be no more. Though you be sought for, you will never be found again, declares the Lord God.”

20 then I will make you go down with those who go down to the pit, to the people of old, and I will make you to dwell in the world below, among ruins from of old, with those who go down to the pit, so that you will not be inhabited; but I will set beauty in the land of the living. 21 I will bring you to a dreadful end, and you shall be no more. Though you be sought for, you will never be found again, declares the Lord God.”

14:1 Then I looked, and behold, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven like the roar of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder. The voice I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps, and they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. It is these who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins. It is these who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These have been redeemed from mankind as firstfruits for God and the Lamb, and in their mouth no lie was found, for they are blameless.

Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. And he said with a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.”

Another angel, a second, followed, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who made all nations drink the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality.”

And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.”

12 Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.

13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”

14 Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and seated on the cloud one like a son of man, with a golden crown on his head, and a sharp sickle in his hand. 15 And another angel came out of the temple, calling with a loud voice to him who sat on the cloud, “Put in your sickle, and reap, for the hour to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe.” 16 So he who sat on the cloud swung his sickle across the earth, and the earth was reaped.

17 Then another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. 18 And another angel came out from the altar, the angel who has authority over the fire, and he called with a loud voice to the one who had the sharp sickle, “Put in your sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, for its grapes are ripe.” 19 So the angel swung his sickle across the earth and gathered the grape harvest of the earth and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. 20 And the winepress was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed from the winepress, as high as a horse’s bridle, for 1,600 stadia.

For the Lord has a day of vengeance,
a year of recompense for the cause of Zion.
And the streams of Edom shall be turned into pitch,
and her soil into sulfur;
her land shall become burning pitch.
10 Night and day it shall not be quenched;
its smoke shall go up forever.
From generation to generation it shall lie waste;
none shall pass through it forever and ever.

10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

7:1 In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel saw a dream and visions of his head as he lay in his bed. Then he wrote down the dream and told the sum of the matter. Daniel declared, “I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the great sea. And four great beasts came up out of the sea, different from one another. The first was like a lion and had eagles’ wings. Then as I looked its wings were plucked off, and it was lifted up from the ground and made to stand on two feet like a man, and the mind of a man was given to it. And behold, another beast, a second one, like a bear. It was raised up on one side. It had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth; and it was told, ‘Arise, devour much flesh.’ After this I looked, and behold, another, like a leopard, with four wings of a bird on its back. And the beast had four heads, and dominion was given to it. After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, terrifying and dreadful and exceedingly strong. It had great iron teeth; it devoured and broke in pieces and stamped what was left with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns. I considered the horns, and behold, there came up among them another horn, a little one, before which three of the first horns were plucked up by the roots. And behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things.

“As I looked,

thrones were placed,
and the Ancient of Days took his seat;
his clothing was white as snow,
and the hair of his head like pure wool;
his throne was fiery flames;
its wheels were burning fire.
10 A stream of fire issued
and came out from before him;
a thousand thousands served him,
and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him;
the court sat in judgment,
and the books were opened.

11 “I looked then because of the sound of the great words that the horn was speaking. And as I looked, the beast was killed, and its body destroyed and given over to be burned with fire. 12 As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but their lives were prolonged for a season and a time.

13 “I saw in the night visions,

and behold, with the clouds of heaven
there came one like a son of man,
and he came to the Ancient of Days
and was presented before him.
14 And to him was given dominion
and glory and a kingdom,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
should serve him;
his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
which shall not pass away,
and his kingdom one
that shall not be destroyed.

15 “As for me, Daniel, my spirit within me was anxious, and the visions of my head alarmed me. 16 I approached one of those who stood there and asked him the truth concerning all this. So he told me and made known to me the interpretation of the things. 17 ‘These four great beasts are four kings who shall arise out of the earth. 18 But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, forever and ever.’

19 “Then I desired to know the truth about the fourth beast, which was different from all the rest, exceedingly terrifying, with its teeth of iron and claws of bronze, and which devoured and broke in pieces and stamped what was left with its feet, 20 and about the ten horns that were on its head, and the other horn that came up and before which three of them fell, the horn that had eyes and a mouth that spoke great things, and that seemed greater than its companions. 21 As I looked, this horn made war with the saints and prevailed over them, 22 until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given for the saints of the Most High, and the time came when the saints possessed the kingdom.

23 “Thus he said: ‘As for the fourth beast,

there shall be a fourth kingdom on earth,
which shall be different from all the kingdoms,
and it shall devour the whole earth,
and trample it down, and break it to pieces.
24 As for the ten horns,
out of this kingdom ten kings shall arise,
and another shall arise after them;
he shall be different from the former ones,
and shall put down three kings.
25 He shall speak words against the Most High,
and shall wear out the saints of the Most High,
and shall think to change the times and the law;
and they shall be given into his hand
for a time, times, and half a time.
26 But the court shall sit in judgment,
and his dominion shall be taken away,
to be consumed and destroyed to the end.
27 And the kingdom and the dominion
and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven
shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High;
their kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom,
and all dominions shall serve and obey them.’

28 “Here is the end of the matter. As for me, Daniel, my thoughts greatly alarmed me, and my color changed, but I kept the matter in my heart.”

2:1 In the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; his spirit was troubled, and his sleep left him. Then the king commanded that the magicians, the enchanters, the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans be summoned to tell the king his dreams. So they came in and stood before the king. And the king said to them, “I had a dream, and my spirit is troubled to know the dream.” Then the Chaldeans said to the king in Aramaic, “O king, live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will show the interpretation.” The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, “The word from me is firm: if you do not make known to me the dream and its interpretation, you shall be torn limb from limb, and your houses shall be laid in ruins. But if you show the dream and its interpretation, you shall receive from me gifts and rewards and great honor. Therefore show me the dream and its interpretation.” They answered a second time and said, “Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will show its interpretation.” The king answered and said, “I know with certainty that you are trying to gain time, because you see that the word from me is firm— if you do not make the dream known to me, there is but one sentence for you. You have agreed to speak lying and corrupt words before me till the times change. Therefore tell me the dream, and I shall know that you can show me its interpretation.” 10 The Chaldeans answered the king and said, “There is not a man on earth who can meet the king’s demand, for no great and powerful king has asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or Chaldean. 11 The thing that the king asks is difficult, and no one can show it to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.”

12 Because of this the king was angry and very furious, and commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be destroyed. 13 So the decree went out, and the wise men were about to be killed; and they sought Daniel and his companions, to kill them. 14 Then Daniel replied with prudence and discretion to Arioch, the captain of the king’s guard, who had gone out to kill the wise men of Babylon. 15 He declared to Arioch, the king’s captain, “Why is the decree of the king so urgent?” Then Arioch made the matter known to Daniel. 16 And Daniel went in and requested the king to appoint him a time, that he might show the interpretation to the king.

17 Then Daniel went to his house and made the matter known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions, 18 and told them to seek mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that Daniel and his companions might not be destroyed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. 19 Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision of the night. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven. 20 Daniel answered and said:

“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,
to whom belong wisdom and might.
21 He changes times and seasons;
he removes kings and sets up kings;
he gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to those who have understanding;
22 he reveals deep and hidden things;
he knows what is in the darkness,
and the light dwells with him.
23 To you, O God of my fathers,
I give thanks and praise,
for you have given me wisdom and might,
and have now made known to me what we asked of you,
for you have made known to us the king’s matter.”

24 Therefore Daniel went in to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to destroy the wise men of Babylon. He went and said thus to him: “Do not destroy the wise men of Babylon; bring me in before the king, and I will show the king the interpretation.”

25 Then Arioch brought in Daniel before the king in haste and said thus to him: “I have found among the exiles from Judah a man who will make known to the king the interpretation.” 26 The king declared to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, “Are you able to make known to me the dream that I have seen and its interpretation?” 27 Daniel answered the king and said, “No wise men, enchanters, magicians, or astrologers can show to the king the mystery that the king has asked, 28 but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and he has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days. Your dream and the visions of your head as you lay in bed are these: 29 To you, O king, as you lay in bed came thoughts of what would be after this, and he who reveals mysteries made known to you what is to be. 30 But as for me, this mystery has been revealed to me, not because of any wisdom that I have more than all the living, but in order that the interpretation may be made known to the king, and that you may know the thoughts of your mind.

31 “You saw, O king, and behold, a great image. This image, mighty and of exceeding brightness, stood before you, and its appearance was frightening. 32 The head of this image was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its middle and thighs of bronze, 33 its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. 34 As you looked, a stone was cut out by no human hand, and it struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. 35 Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, all together were broken in pieces, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.

36 “This was the dream. Now we will tell the king its interpretation. 37 You, O king, the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, and the might, and the glory, 38 and into whose hand he has given, wherever they dwell, the children of man, the beasts of the field, and the birds of the heavens, making you rule over them all—you are the head of gold. 39 Another kingdom inferior to you shall arise after you, and yet a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth. 40 And there shall be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron, because iron breaks to pieces and shatters all things. And like iron that crushes, it shall break and crush all these. 41 And as you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, it shall be a divided kingdom, but some of the firmness of iron shall be in it, just as you saw iron mixed with the soft clay. 42 And as the toes of the feet were partly iron and partly clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly brittle. 43 As you saw the iron mixed with soft clay, so they will mix with one another in marriage, but they will not hold together, just as iron does not mix with clay. 44 And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever, 45 just as you saw that a stone was cut from a mountain by no human hand, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold. A great God has made known to the king what shall be after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation sure.”

46 Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face and paid homage to Daniel, and commanded that an offering and incense be offered up to him. 47 The king answered and said to Daniel, “Truly, your God is God of gods and Lord of kings, and a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this mystery.” 48 Then the king gave Daniel high honors and many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon. 49 Daniel made a request of the king, and he appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego over the affairs of the province of Babylon. But Daniel remained at the king’s court.

15:1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. 28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.

29 Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf? 30 Why are we in danger every hour? 31 I protest, brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day! 32 What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” 33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” 34 Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.

35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” 36 You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. 38 But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. 39 For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. 40 There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.

42 So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. 43 It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. 47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.

50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.

And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever,

11 for it is written,

“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
and every tongue shall confess to God.”

18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,

21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.

28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might,

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death.

28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.