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Prolepsis and Hell: A Matter of Life and Death – Part 1

Prolepsis. It’s not a word that the average person uses in day-to-day life, but it is an idea that we are all familiar with. 1 The following has been adapted from a blog post on my 3-Ring Binder blog on October 5, 2016 titled “Prolepsis and the Bible: When Future Events Are Spoken of As Current Reality.” Used with permission. The idea behind prolepsis is quite simple. Merriam-Webster defines it primarily as “the representation or assumption of a future act or development as if presently existing or accomplished.” There are times when future events are described as being present realities. This is true in life and in the scriptures. And this is especially important when evaluating any argument made that says because the Bible speaks of something in the present tense, it therefore is saying that whatever is being spoken of is in fact a present reality. This common figure of speech applies to the many things in scripture, and hell is no exception. Most notably, language of death and life in the Bible follows this pattern. Missing this can cause one to impose onto the Bible strange and baseless definitions of terms like “life” and “death,” often while mistakenly believing that they are in fact the ones taking the language literally or in a straightforward manner. Before we see how this plays out in the hell discussion, it is important to get a good grip of what prolepsis is and how it plays out, both in scripture and outside of it. This is because the relationship between prolepsis and the question of hell is largely an extension of its relationship to the rest of the Bible and the doctrines within it. 1. ↑ The following has been adapted from a blog post on my 3-Ring Binder blog on October 5, 2016 titled “Prolepsis and the Bible: When Future Events Are Spoken of As Current Reality.” Used with permission.

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