A Response to Joshua Ryan Butler's The Skeletons in God's Closet

Hell is on a lot of people’s radars these days. We here are obviously not the only ones rethinking hell. Rob Bell’s Love Wins brought the discussion to the popular level. Love it or hate it, Love Wins got people talking.
Another, more recent book has many talking again. Joshua Ryan Butler (pastor of local and global outreach at Imago Dei Community in Portland) has recently published The Skeletons in God’s Closet: The Mercy of Hell, the Surprise of Judgment, the Hope of Holy War. The book covers more than just the doctrine of hell/final punishment, but for our purposes, I will only address the first part, in which Butler examines the topic of hell (look for responses to parts 2 & 3 on my own blog). Joshua was kind enough to supply me with a free copy to review (two, in fact. One will be given away through my own blog, so stay tuned if you want to dive into this yourself). After two attempts to get the book to me and over a month of frustration, it finally arrived.
Through our interactions on Twitter and email I’ve found Joshua to be a genuinely kind and gracious individual, and he has a definite passion for doing justice in Jesus’s name.
Butler begins by saying that he is addressing popular caricatures of these three topics. He doesn’t intend this to be a thorough or comprehensive treatment, but a challenge to popular-level misconceptions, which he says “are like cartoons: good for us to laugh at, but not to live by” (xxiv).
The popular caricature of hell as Butler describes it is that hell is an underground torture chamber. He confronts these three descriptors: 1) hell is located underground, somewhere near the earth’s core; 2) hell’s purpose is to torture those in it; and 3) hell is a chamber, locked from the outside so no one can escape.
Before getting into each of these aspects, Butler examines the underlying “Problematic story” which this caricature results from. He describes the problematic story like this:

“Right now I live on earth. One day I will die. When I die, I will stand before God and God will either send me up to heaven if I’ve done the right things, or down to hell if I haven’t.” (p. 5)

So far, so good. This is indeed a problematic story, and the view of hell as an underground torture chamber is something we here at Rethinking Hell would obviously reject. Butler argues that the gospel story speaks of hell invading earth and causing separation between heaven and earth, and of God’s salvation being the reunification of earth to heaven. In other words, God plans to get the hell out of earth (as in, to remove hell from earth).
This is where Butler and conditionalists begin parting ways. Butler has rightly spotted a problem, but the alternative is perhaps equally problematic:

Image used in book (p. 16) provided by the author, and used with permission.

What has happened here is the conflation of hell with sin so the two are almost indistinguishable from each other. Hell, for Butler, is the forces working for evil in the here and now: “our world is being ravaged by the destructive power of hell” (16). Hell is something that humanity, by our sin, has unleashed on earth now; we lit the fires of hell, and they are burning right now. Hell is the cause of the evil in our world–slavery, sex trafficking, genocide, etc. are all outworkings of hell’s power (e.g. “Genocide is a problem from hell” [31]).
These things are certainly evil. But evil does not come from hell, nor is hell evil in the present. This really doesn’t fit with Scripture. While I would affirm in a very definitive way the view of heaven’s coming to us rather than we going up to heaven, and while I would affirm that hell is destructive (or more accurately, will be destructive), this is where Butler and I start thinking very differently. Hell is not a present, animated force, causing suffering and destruction in our world right now, which God has to root out. Hell (Gehenna), as it is depicted in Scripture, is the place and time where God will bring final closure between himself and those who refuse his gracious gift of eternal life. Hell is where evil goes to die. Butler and I agree that hell is not an underground torture chamber, designed and constructed by God to imprison and torment sinners for all eternity. But Butler goes in a direction I don’t think Scripture does.
From this foundational story, then, Butler goes on to address the three aspects of the caricature of hell.

1. Underground vs Outside the City

Butler argues that although many people view hell as located somewhere beneath the earth’s crust, nowhere does Scripture say that. He draws attention to the term used by Jesus, “Gehenna,” as being outside the city. This is of course all true. Gehenna is usually translated hell, but it should probably be read as the Valley of (the sons of) Hinnom, which is of course “a place you could MapQuest” (36. As a side note, do people still use MapQuest?). In this place, we are told in the Old Testament, two of Israel’s kings (Ahaz and Manasseh) offered human sacrifices to the Moabite god Molech.
Butler then suggests that the redeemed will dwell in the new Jerusalem, which comes down from heaven () and those who reject God will dwell in Gehenna outside the city.
The flaw in this is fairly obvious to me. The new Jerusalem is located within the new heavens and new earth (). The old is gone. (“And there was no more sea.”) The earth is in a sense resurrected, and in the new heavens and the new earth there is no more suffering and death to found anywhere (21:4). But in Butler’s vision, the new earth is divided into the new city and the outside of the city. And those outside still mourn and suffer.
The inconsistency here is quite problematic. The cosmic dualism of heaven or hell is not resolved but is simply restated with new labels; instead of “up to heaven” or “down to hell,” it is “inside the city” or “outside the city.”
Butler’s argument is that hell is an act of mercy–allowing those who rejected God to continue to live, but being restricted to the outer regions. In this way, his view is still within the umbrella of eternal conscious torment, although the torment is more spiritual/emotional and self-inflicted than the classic torture view. God does not round these people up for execution or imprisonment; they simply live outside the city and outside of God’s presence. But a serious problem occurs when we note that “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life” () or that those shut out from the presence of God suffer “eternal destruction” (). God is the giver of all life. Eternal life is a gift which God alone gives. The notion of continued existence for those who have excluded themselves from God doesn’t fit Scripture. For those who have been excluded from God to remain alive outside the walls of the city is problematic.
So where is hell? Is it underground? In a valley outside the current city of Jerusalem? Outside the new Jerusalem? Scripture seems less interested in the precise details of location. What we can say is that those who are judged and found guilty will perish, and the place where this occurs is tied (whether literally or typologically is not made explicit) to the Valley of Hinnom. This “place” is described in the chapter immediately preceding the description of the new creation () as the “lake of fire,” which is “the second death.” It is not a place of banishment or exile, but a place of death and destruction, where sin and death are dealt with and then are no more.

2. Torture vs Protection

Next, Butler moves from the where to the why. Why is hell? In other words what is the purpose of hell?
Hell, for Butler, is a place of exclusion, and its boundaries are for the protection of the city. Those banished and exiled outside the city are to remain there to keep the power of sin outside. Just as Ahaz and Manasseh went outside the city to do their wicked deeds in the Valley of Hinnom, so too will the new Jerusalem be a place where sin and idolatry happen “outside.” The holy city, argues Butler, will not be subjected to the power of Gehenna. Even though “On no day will [Jerusalem’s] gates ever be shut,” the power of hell will not enter, because God will guard the city.
A few questions jump out immediately:
a. Much of Revelation is, of course, highly symbolic. What do open gates symbolize? Gates are to be passed through. The scene in seems to imply that people will go in and out of the city at will, with no fear of anything “out there” (the walls are more symbolic than anything else, it seems). The whole of the heavens and earth with be at shalom. Nowhere will there not be shalom. Open gates signify that there is no threat. The absence of the sea further symbolizes that the chaos waters which God has held back (e.g. ; ; ) will be altogether removed. There will be no threat of the destructiveness of evil, chaos, or sin, because all those things will be no more–not simply moved to the outside.
b. If God’s purpose is to have shalom, the harmonious relationship of heaven and earth and God and his people, then the continued presence of all of those who brought the power of hell into the old creation seems strange indeed. God would be granting immortality to those responsible for the corruption of the old creation so that they could remain present in the new creation (albeit isolated to the fringes).
c. In this section, Butler argues that his view is most merciful and consistent with the character of God. He uses the image of a marriage proposal to depict the various views. He describes universalism as “marry me and bring in your old lovers.” Annihilation is “marry me or I’ll kill you,” and the underground torture chamber is “marry me or I’ll lock you in the basement.” His own view is “marry me or go your own way” (62-67). The problem in this is very simple: “go your own way” assumes that life apart from the Giver and Sustainer of life is possible. Scripture says only God is immortal () and life is conditional on God’s bestowing of it, and that this immortality comes through the gospel (). In other words, “go your own way” means rejecting life.
Butler assumes that immortality is inevitable for all people. He even argues this exact thing: that because Christ has been raised, death is defeated and all will be raised immortal. But Scripture never applies immortality to those who reject and oppose the gospel, only to those who receive life through Christ. [pullquote]”go your own way” is actually a death sentence.[/pullquote]Christ died for all () and was raised to life. But the victory over death is something we participate in “in Christ.” Those outside of Christ do not share in that victory (see for example ). “Go your own way” is actually a death sentence!
So why is hell? What is its expressed purpose? For Butler, it is a place of banishment and containment for the protection of the new Jerusalem. But does Scripture support this? Obviously, conditionalists would say no. Jesus taught that body and soul would be destroyed in Gehenna (). The “lake of fire” in Revelation is “the second death.” The epistles only once speak of hell by name, and the context is very different there (). However, we do read much in the Epistles about the outcome of judgment. We read of it as death, perishing, and destruction, and we are told that those found guilty will ultimately be consumed or burned up.
In other words, the biblical depiction of hell is that its purpose is the destruction of all opposition to God’s good intentions for creation. I wholeheartedly agree with Butler that hell does not exist for the purpose of tormenting sinners. God is not interested in inflicting unending pain on humans he created in his image, however wickedly they may have acted in their lifetimes.

3. Chamber vs Freedom From God

Finally (after a chapter devoted strangely to , a story that doesn’t really speak of hell but the intermediate state, and does so through the use of parable) Butler argues against the notion that hell is a chamber or prison cell, locked by God who throws away the key. Instead, he argues that hell is a place where those who want to live without God get their wish. God, rather than imprisoning them, sets them free from himself. They are allowed to “go your own way”. Hell is our independence from God. Here Butler leans heavily on C.S. Lewis’ depiction of hell as filled with those to whom God says “thy will be done”, and the gates are locked from the inside.
This of course suffers from the same short comings as the previous affirmations. Can humans live apart from the source of life? I would simply echo Iranaeus:

it is the Father of all who imparts continuance for ever and ever on those who are saved. For life does not arise from us, nor from our own nature; but it is bestowed according to the grace of God. And therefore he who shall preserve the life bestowed upon him, and give thanks to Him who imparted it, shall receive also length of days for ever and ever. But he who shall reject it, and prove himself ungrateful to his Maker, inasmuch as he has been created, and has not recognised Him who bestowed [the gift upon him], deprives himself of [the privilege of] continuance for ever and ever. (Against Heresies, II.XXIV.3)

So what is hell like? What are it’s dimensions? How is it constructed? Hell is not a chamber into which we thrown by God, who locks us in. But neither is hell freedom from God and a place in which we go into self-imposed exile from our source of life, and simply live out the eternal consequences of the absence of God. Hell is the second death. Hell is the end of those who choose not to receive eternal life.

Concluding remarks:

Butler has put together an attempt to make hell seem more palatable (an accusation often thrown at conditionalists). He is right in wanting to distance himself from the underground torture chamber view. But do we reject a depiction of hell because it’s unpleasant? No. As evangelicals we rely on Scripture. Butler has not provided much in the way of exegesis of the relevant texts. He weaves in his personal experiences and witness such as the horrors of sex trafficking, slavery, etc. But we simply can’t read those into the text. Butler is determined to present the most merciful view, but in attempting to do so, fails to take several essential factors into consideration. Scripture does not assume the continued existence of those who reject God. Quite the opposite in fact. Those who choose to be absent from are allowed to do so, but the consequence of that is to be cut off from the source of life, finally and irreversibly. Yes, God is absolutely merciful. But Butler’s vision of hell comes up short. It is repackaged to sound nicer, but still suffers from the fundamental flaws of all arguments for eternal conscious torment: it assumes all humans are, or will be made immortal, that a perpetual dualism will be present for eternity, and that destruction and death when used in Scripture don’t really mean destruction and death.

And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.

12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

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

20:1 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while.

Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.

And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, 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.

11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 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.”

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. 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.”

Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, 11 having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 12 It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed— 13 on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. 14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

15 And the one who spoke with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city and its gates and walls. 16 The city lies foursquare, its length the same as its width. And he measured the city with his rod, 12,000 stadia. Its length and width and height are equal. 17 He also measured its wall, 144 cubits by human measurement, which is also an angel’s measurement. 18 The wall was built of jasper, while the city was pure gold, clear as glass. 19 The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every kind of jewel. The first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. 21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, transparent as glass.

22 And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. 23 And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24 By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, 25 and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. 26 They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. 27 But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

1:1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

I could strengthen you with my mouth,
and the solace of my lips would assuage your pain.

“If I speak, my pain is not assuaged,
and if I forbear, how much of it leaves me?
Surely now God has worn me out;
he has made desolate all my company.
And he has shriveled me up,
which is a witness against me,
and my leanness has risen up against me;
it testifies to my face.
He has torn me in his wrath and hated me;
he has gnashed his teeth at me;
my adversary sharpens his eyes against me.
10 Men have gaped at me with their mouth;
they have struck me insolently on the cheek;
they mass themselves together against me.
11 God gives me up to the ungodly
and casts me into the hands of the wicked.
12 I was at ease, and he broke me apart;
he seized me by the neck and dashed me to pieces;
he set me up as his target;
13 his archers surround me.
He slashes open my kidneys and does not spare;
he pours out my gall on the ground.
14 He breaks me with breach upon breach;
he runs upon me like a warrior.
15 I have sewed sackcloth upon my skin
and have laid my strength in the dust.

Job 38:8-18

“Or who shut in the sea with doors
when it burst out from the womb,
when I made clouds its garment
and thick darkness its swaddling band,
10 and prescribed limits for it
and set bars and doors,
11 and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther,
and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?

12 “Have you commanded the morning since your days began,
and caused the dawn to know its place,
13 that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth,
and the wicked be shaken out of it?
14 It is changed like clay under the seal,
and its features stand out like a garment.
15 From the wicked their light is withheld,
and their uplifted arm is broken.

16 “Have you entered into the springs of the sea,
or walked in the recesses of the deep?
17 Have the gates of death been revealed to you,
or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?
18 Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth?
Declare, if you know all this.

15 Then the channels of the sea were seen,
and the foundations of the world were laid bare
at your rebuke, O Lord,
at the blast of the breath of your nostrils.

16 He sent from on high, he took me;
he drew me out of many waters.

16 who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.

10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine,

14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died;

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.

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.

And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.

16:1 He also said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his possessions. And he called him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your management, for you can no longer be manager.’ And the manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do, since my master is taking the management away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. I have decided what to do, so that when I am removed from management, people may receive me into their houses.’ So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.

10 “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. 11 If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? 12 And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? 13 No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

14 The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him. 15 And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.

16 “The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it. 17 But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void.

18 “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.

19 “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ 27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house— 28 for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”