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A comment too long for the blog 4 years, 10 months ago #1501

  • Givemhell
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Before I begin, I would like to point out that I do not represent rethinkinghell at all. So, while I am an annihilationist I am a third party and would like to give you my own perspective.

I am not interesting in wading through the muck of this grammatical debate but I would like to point out what I believe to be muddled thinking on the part of Robert Holmstead, John Cook and Adam Blauser on these particular issues. This is not to say that they are unintelligent people or that they are not well educated. I'm sure that they are both and more so than myself. However, on this particular issue, I think that to say that they display muddled thinking is a fair assessment. I'm sure that they are not often prone to poor reasoning but in this case I have to raise objections to some of their comments.

I want to start out where the conversation started.

Adam wrote: "The issue has to do with the second phrase “And their fire will not be quenched.” It poses a problem for annihilationists, since, if the fire is not quenched, it obviously must be eternal. However, Date presents an argument that he believes refutes this interpretation. "

Adam then wrote of his own argumentation: "Date’s argument does not take that into account, and I believe that not doing so is fatal to his position."

This argument isn't "fatal" to our position. In fact, I already held to the position that the fire is eternal long before Adam said anything about it. There are plenty of verses that say so.


Mat_ 25:41 "Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;

Mat_18:8 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.

Jud_1:7 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.


However, just because I believe that the fire is eternal doesn't mean that I don't think that the fire will be consuming what it is consuming forever. Sodom and Gomorrah aren't burning today. The fire isn't eternal in the sense that it is still burning on the spot of earth where Sodom an Gomorrah were. In fact, we know that it isn't.

The theological question relevant to our debate is not, "is the fire eternal" but "are these living or dead bodies that are being consumed in" Isaiah 66:24. The answer is obvious.

Isaiah 66:24 "Then they will go forth and look On the corpses of the men Who have transgressed against Me. For their worm will not die And their fire will not be quenched; And they will be an abhorrence to all mankind."


Whether you want to say that the fire will not be "quenched" or that it won't "go out" doesn't change the fact that this is a depiction of dead bodies being consumed by worms and fire.

Moreover, while it may be an eternal fire, If we investigate the language of this verse by cross-referencing it with the language from other parts of the scriptures you will see that the fire won't be consuming the dead bodies forever.

Instead of rehashing this particular point I will simply quote it from Chris Date's article ( which is the original article that Adam attacked if memory serves):

"Matthew records John the Baptist saying of Jesus, “His winnowing fork
is in his hand, and he will thoroughly clear his threshing floor; and
he will gather his wheat into the barn, but he will burn up the chaff
with unquenchable [asbestos] fire” (Matt. 3:12; cf. Luke 3:17).
When chaff is separated from wheat and burned, we know what happens to
it: it is completely burned up and reduced to ashes. What’s more, given
that the context is the fiery wrath of God, the precedent set in the Old
Testament informs us that Jesus is referring to a fire which, incapable
of being put out prematurely, will burn up the object of God’s wrath
entirely.

Furthermore, the Greek word translated “burn up” is katakaiō which, like its Hebrew equivalent (‘akal), means to completely consume. When the Jewish translators of the Septuagint rendered Exodus 3:2 in Greek they wrote that while the bush was burning it was not katakaiō or consumed. On the other hand, Paul said that the work of some believers will remain but that the work of others will not remain, instead being katakaiō or “burned up” (1 Cor. 3:14-15).

Perhaps the most graphic use of katakaiō in connection with the unsaved can be found in Matthew 13. Jesus tells the parable of the wheat and the tares, saying in verse 30, “In the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, ‘First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn’.” Interpreting the parable as analogous to the fate of the wicked, beginning in verse 40 Jesus says,

40 So just as the tares are gathered up and burned [katakaiō]
with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will
send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all
stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, 42 and will throw
them into the furnace of fire… (Matt. 13:40-42)

Beyond likening the fate of sinners to chaff completely burned up by
fire, Jesus says they will be thrown into a “furnace of fire,” alluding
to Malachi 4:1-3 in which the Lord says (all emphases mine),

1 For behold, the day is coming, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and every evildoer will be chaff;
and the day that is coming will set them ablaze … so that it will leave
them neither root nor branch. 2 But for you who fear my name … 3 You
will tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day which I am preparing"


So, when the bible speaks of this fire that burns the wicked it is speaking of a fire that burns them up, not a fire that burns them forever



Yet further exploration into the issue will yield further proof:

Look at a passage from Jeremiah that parallels the passage from Isaiah in several ways:

"19 Do they spite Me?” declares the Lord. “Is it not themselves they spite, to [f]their own shame?” 20 Therefore thus says the Lord [g]God, “Behold, My anger and My wrath will be poured out on this place, on man and on beast and on the trees of the field and on the fruit of the ground; and it will burn and not be quenched.”

21 Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, “Add your burnt offerings to your sacrifices and eat flesh. 22 For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices. 23 But this is [h]what I commanded them, saying, ‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you will be My people; and you will walk in all the way which I command you, that it may be well with you.’ 24 Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in their own counsels and in the stubbornness of their evil heart, and [i]went backward and not forward. 25 Since the day that your fathers came out of the land of Egypt until this day, I have sent you all My servants the prophets, daily rising early and sending them. 26 Yet they did not listen to Me or incline their ear, but stiffened their neck; they did more evil than their fathers.

27 “You shall speak all these words to them, but they will not listen to you; and you shall call to them, but they will not answer you. 28 You shall say to them, ‘This is the nation that did not obey the voice of the Lord their God or accept correction; [j]truth has perished and has been cut off from their mouth.

29 ‘Cut off [k]your hair and cast it away,
And take up a lamentation on the bare heights;
For the Lord has rejected and forsaken
The generation of His wrath.’

30 For the sons of Judah have done that which is evil in My sight,” declares the Lord, “they have set their detestable things in the house which is called by My name, to defile it. 31 They have built the high places of Topheth, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I did not command, and it did not come into My [l]mind.

32 “Therefore, behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when it will no longer be called Topheth, or the valley of the son of Hinnom, but the valley of the Slaughter; for they will bury in Topheth [m]because there is no other place. 33 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. "





So, Jeremiah, also speaking of Gehenna says " 33 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."

First of all, let me remind you that while this may have a future fulfillment it does have a past fulfillment. Jerusalem was sacked by the Babylonians and taken into captivity and this is the main issue that Jeremiah is dealing with in it's original context.

So, there literally were dead bodies in Gehenna that were food for the birds of the sky and the for the beasts of the earth when Jerusalem was sacked by the Babylonians.

Now, you could try to make the same argument and say the same thing about the birds and the beasts that you do about the fire and worms, that they would be there for all of eternity but even if it were true, it wouldn't change the fact that these are corpses that are being eaten. It would also be very silly because we know for a fact that those birds and beasts died a very long time ago and aren't still living in Gehenna eating those corpses.


The same goes for this verse from the passage “Behold, My anger and My wrath will be poured out on this place, on man and on beast and on the trees of the field and on the fruit of the ground; and it will burn and not be quenched Is God still pouring out His wrath there on the men and the animals and even on the plants? No, of course not! The plants are fine.


The same could be said for Isaiah 66:24.

While the prophecy may have a future fulfillment, I think that a very strong case could be made that Isaiah is also talking about Assyria and God's redemption of the Jewish people from Assyria.

So, when the Assyrian army sieged Jerusalem 2 kings says: "Then it happened that night that the angel of the LORD went out and struck 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians; and when men rose early in the morning, behold, all of them were dead."


So, the image that you have pictured in Isaiah 66:24 (at least in one sense) may very well be the dead bodies of 185,000 Assyrian soldiers being consumed by worms and fire. Surely that fire isn't still going on in the sense that it is still burning the corpses of the assyrian soldiers today just as it isn't still burning Sodom and Gomorrah today.

Let's go back to Jeremiah and let me give you another example:

Jer 17:24 "'But if you listen to me, declares the LORD, and bring in no burden by the gates of this city on the Sabbath day, but keep the Sabbath day holy and do no work on it,
Jer 17:25 then there shall enter by the gates of this city kings and princes who sit on the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they and their officials, the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And this city shall be inhabited forever.
Jer 17:26 And people shall come from the cities of Judah and the places around Jerusalem, from the land of Benjamin, from the Shephelah, from the hill country, and from the Negeb, bringing burnt offerings and sacrifices, grain offerings and frankincense, and bringing thank offerings to the house of the LORD.
Jer 17:27 But if you do not listen to me, to keep the Sabbath day holy, and not to bear a burden and enter by the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day, then I will kindle a fire in its gates, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem and shall not be quenched.'"


Well, this happened. Jerusalem was sacked by the Bablyonians and they set fire to Jerusalem. Notice the same phraseology: "then I will kindle a fire in its gates, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem and shall not be quenched.' well, is Jerusalem on fire? No! Of course not. It isn't saying "then I will kindle a fire in its gates, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem and shall never go out." Instead, it's saying the same thing that Isaiah is saying. The fire isn't going to be put out. It will burn the city. It's the same with the passage from Isaiah. The worms and fire are going to do what they do. They are going to desecrate the dead bodies and they aren't going to be given an honorable body, just like in Jeremiah with the birds and the beasts.


Ok, I'm done with Adam's comments for now. Let's start now with John Cook's comment on Claude Mariottini's article.

He wrote: "I should say up front that I'm not all that invested in the theological debate,"

I looked up what John teaches since I was somewhat impressed by his comment and I read that he " regularly teaches the Introduction to Old Testament course, and exegesis courses on the book of Psalms, on wisdom literature (Proverbs, Job, and Ecclesiastes), and occasionally on Ezekiel or the minor prophets."

I find it a little bit troubling that you could teach at a theological seminary on these topics if you really are disinterested on this topic. How is it possible that you are not "all that invested in the theological debate" of what the bible means when it talks about death. Don't you teach on this subject in some sense since the bible speaks frequently about death and the punishment of the wicked? I don't think that your student would find this attitude inspiring. Perhaps you were only mirroring the words of your fellow-blogger Robert Holmstead who said:

"To be clear, I have little interest in the theological debate that provoked this grammatical discussion."

This reminds me of a quote from Martin Luther who when addressing Erasmus wrote "But you would have it understood that you have
said nothing. here concerning confessing Christ, and
his doctrines.-:— I receive the admonition. And, in
courtesy to you, I give up my right and custom, and
refrain from judging of your heart, reserving that for
another time, or for others. In the mean time, I
admonish you to correct your tongue, and your pen,
and to refrain henceforth from using such expressions.
For, how upright and honest soever your heart may
be, your words, which are the index of the heart, are
not so. For, if you think the matter of Free-Will is
not necessary to be known, nor at all concerned with
Christ, you speak honestly, but think wickedly : but,

if you think it is necessary, you speak wickedly, and
think rightly. And if so, then there is no room for
you to complain and exaggerate so much concerning
useless assertions and contentions : for what have they
to do with the nature of the cause ? "

I am not interested in judging anyone's heart either and I do understand the pervasiveness of sin even amongst all Christians but I feel compelled to ask; If you don't have a dog in this race, then what kind of Christian are you? However, If you do care about what the bible has to say on this issue, then you are wrong to say to us that you do not and therefore I must again ask; "what kind of Christian are you?"

I don't know what your thoughts were when you wrote this so please don't take my words as an accusation. You do have the benefit of the doubt but I think that as someone who would call themselves a christian, you should care about what God's word has to say about this issue since it's implications are far reaching, perhaps even effecting how we perceive God's character.

Robert Holmstead went on to write: " From what I've seen in my career so far, most theological positions are
equally founded upon a questionable grasp of Hebrew grammar. Folks would
do better to admit the authority of tradition, agree to disagree, and
call it a day."

Do you teach on the Old Testament as well? Do you think that the issue of what the bible teaches on death is so inconsequential that it should be thrown into the wastebasket of indecipherable theological nonsense so easily?

Moreover, you say that we would "do better to admit the authority of tradition, agree to disagree, and call it a day". To which tradition should we adhere? Should we hold to the traditions of the papists in Rome? Which ones? Perhaps the traditions that teach against the gospel of God's free grace? Which of the conflicting traditions of Rome should we follow? Should we follow the Rome that persecuted Galileo for teaching Copernican astronomy or the Rome that accepts and teaches evolution? Whatever did happened to Rome's tradition of conducting horrendously cruel and violent inquisitions anyway? Should we follow that tradition?

Perhaps the most relevant tradition here is that this verse has traditionally been translated to say that the fire will not be quenched and not to say that the fire will not go out. It seems to me that this makes the statement about tradition completely self-refuting.

Though I am not a professional linguist myself and very much fallible on grammatical issues It seems that this verse is translated as being in the passive voice in not only the Septuagint's Greek (which the authors of the New Testament saw fit to use) but also in Jerome's translation of the Hebrew in the latin vulgate as well as in the English translations from these sources. Still, it is good to know that even if I am wrong on this grammatical issue that it doesn't affect my theological position.

Isa 66:24 καὶ ἐξελεύσονται καὶ ὄψονται τὰ κῶλα τῶν ἀνθρώπων τῶν παραβεβηκότων ἐν ἐμοί ὁ γὰρ σκώληξ αὐτῶν οὐ τελευτήσει καὶ τὸ πῦρ αὐτῶν οὐ σβεσθήσεται καὶ ἔσονται εἰς ὅρασιν πάσῃ σαρκί

24 et egredientur et videbunt cadavera virorum qui praevaricati sunt in me vermis eorum non morietur et ignis eorum non extinguetur et erunt usque ad satietatem visionis omni carni




I think that we could all stand to be redirected to Chris Date's original thoughts on this topic.

"Besides Matthew 25:8 where it may mean “die out,” and besides Mark 9:48 (because it is the verse in question), everywhere sbennymi (quench) is used in the New Testament it means “put out.”9 As we’ve seen, the best understanding of Isaiah 66:24
is that it likewise refers to a fire which, being inextinguishable,
completely consumes. Lacking any indication that the meaning is being
changed, it means the same thing when cited by Jesus in Mark 9:48. But what about the “unquenchable” (asbestos) fire in verse 43 and other texts?

Matthew records John the Baptist saying of Jesus, “His winnowing fork
is in his hand, and he will thoroughly clear his threshing floor; and
he will gather his wheat into the barn, but he will burn up the chaff
with unquenchable [asbestos] fire” (Matt. 3:12; cf. Luke 3:17).
When chaff is separated from wheat and burned, we know what happens to
it: it is completely burned up and reduced to ashes. What’s more, given
that the context is the fiery wrath of God, the precedent set in the Old
Testament informs us that Jesus is referring to a fire which, incapable
of being put out prematurely, will burn up the object of God’s wrath
entirely.

Furthermore, the Greek word translated “burn up” is katakaiō which, like its Hebrew equivalent (‘akal), means to completely consume. When the Jewish translators of the Septuagint rendered Exodus 3:2 in Greek they wrote that while the bush was burning it was not katakaiō or consumed. On the other hand, Paul said that the work of some believers will remain but that the work of others will not remain, instead being katakaiō or “burned up” (1 Cor. 3:14-15).

Perhaps the most graphic use of katakaiō in connection with the unsaved can be found in Matthew 13. Jesus tells the parable of the wheat and the tares, saying in verse 30, “In the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, ‘First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn’.” Interpreting the parable as analogous to the fate of the wicked, beginning in verse 40 Jesus says,

40 So just as the tares are gathered up and burned [katakaiō]
with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will
send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all
stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, 42 and will throw
them into the furnace of fire… (Matt. 13:40-42)

Beyond likening the fate of sinners to chaff completely burned up by
fire, Jesus says they will be thrown into a “furnace of fire,” alluding
to Malachi 4:1-3 in which the Lord says (all emphases mine),

1 For behold, the day is coming, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and every evildoer will be chaff;
and the day that is coming will set them ablaze … so that it will leave
them neither root nor branch. 2 But for you who fear my name … 3 You
will tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day which I am preparing …

So when Jesus and his forerunner John liken the destiny of the lost
to chaff burned up by “unquenchable” fire, they are not saying that the
unredeemed will suffer forever in flames. Instead, they are saying that
those flames are incapable of being extinguished prematurely, and will
therefore irresistibly and completely consume the wicked until all that
remains is no more than remains."
www.rethinkinghell.com/2012/11/the-fire-...and-mark-948-part-2/
What bliss will fill the ransomed souls,
When they in glory dwell,
To see the sinner as he rolls,
In quenchless flames of hell.

- Isaac Watts
Last Edit: 4 years, 10 months ago by Givemhell.

Re: A comment too long for the blog 4 years, 10 months ago #1508

  • trident343
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I must say the Qai argument against our position is at least something new to chew on. I agree that I don't think this is fatal to our position at all.

If there is a debate whether Qai had a passive sense or not it probably won't be solved anytime soon.

If the Qai of Isaiah 66:24 is unaccusative grammatically, does that rule out using it with a passive sense? I don't think so. I don't think Christ would have been recorded as using it in the passive voice if that was the case.

Re: A comment too long for the blog 4 years, 10 months ago #1509

  • trident343
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I went into Bibleworks and found all the places in the OT which use the same כְבֶּ֔ה .As you can see, it is used in contexts of fires which have since burned out. This pretty much makes the grammar debate moot whether it's passive or unaccusative.

Lev. 6:12
2 Sam. 21:17
2 Ki. 22:17
2 Chr. 34:25
Prov. 26:20
Isa. 34:10
Isa. 66:24
Jer. 7:20
Jer. 17:27
Ezek. 20:47
Ezekiel 20:48
Last Edit: 4 years, 10 months ago by trident343. Reason: Correction
The following user(s) said Thank You: Givemhell

Re: A comment too long for the blog 4 years, 10 months ago #1515

  • Givemhell
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I really like that you went through the bible and found all those references to that word and showed that they all refer to fires that have already gone out lol! That's really just great.
What bliss will fill the ransomed souls,
When they in glory dwell,
To see the sinner as he rolls,
In quenchless flames of hell.

- Isaac Watts
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