Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Robertus

The Good News: a Modern Christian Apology

Recommended Posts

I published this last year and it's available via Amazon and various other bookstores, such as Waterstones. I'd really appreciate some feedback on the book and perhaps we could then discuss some of the issues it raises. I'd be more than happy to provide a copy free of charge, if at all possible.

 

God bless you all

 

 

Robert

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can't find this on Amazon when I search by title. Could you provide a link to the book, the ISBN, or the author name?

 

I'd be curious to know more about your views and background, and how they influence your approach to Christianity, and the book's content. Since you are non-denominational, could you say what churches are close to your views and what faith did you grow up in? Would you be able to share some background about what brought you to write it?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Since you placed this post in the Universalism section, would I be correct in assuming that this modern Christiainity involves the belief that everyone will be saved? I'm satisfied with the Christianity that Jesus Christ established nearly 2,000 years ago and I am not interested in any modern versions.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not quite sure how it happened, but my post should have been headed, 'The Good News: a Modern Christian Apology'. So apologies...again!. To make amends I've provided some links which should help .

 

I'm a thoroughly Bible believing Christian and the only modern thing about the book is the society at which its challenges are directed. I was confirmed as an Anglican when I was 13, but later attended a Pentecostal and then a Reformed Baptist church, when I was at university reading English.

 

Yes, I have come to believe in universal salvation, which explains why I don't now attach myself to any denomination. I know that you will have heard arguments on this subject in the past, but there's a lot of new material on this and many other issues, including much on which all evangelical Christians could readily agree. The description in Amazon gives a pretty good starting point, but I'd be happy to provide some further background if that would help.

 

 

Yours in Christ,

 

 

Robert

Edited by Origen

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I have come to believe in universal salvation

Then how do you explain this statement, in the last chapter of the Bible which shows the conditions that will prevail in eternity after the present heaven and earth have passed away?

 

Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. (Revelation 22:14,15)

 

A blessing is pronounced on he saved, who have the right to enter the New Jerusalem, but the unsaved are not included in this blessing. This doesn't sound like universal salvation to me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My book provides a detailed exegesis of all of the key passages, for and against universalism. If you don't wish to buy one, I'll happily send you a copy free of charge, if you provide an address. My E-mail address is: MODERATION EMAIL REMOVED

 

The short answer to your question, though, is, yes I believe in hell, but I don't believe it lasts literally or ever.

 

 

Robert

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had a look at the book through the Look Inside, but there are a few problems with it. Galileo was not the first time religion and science butted heads, that goes back to antiquity. In the medical field at least there are accounts of it happening in Roman times between Greek and Jewish doctors and Roman priests (Medicine practiced without sacrifices to Jove? Horrors!).

 

Did you speak to any scientists or interview them for the 'against religion' side? I would be curious to see what an actual Biblical scholar or scientist would say.

 

The short answer to your question, though, is, yes I believe in hell, but I don't believe it lasts literally or ever.
Is this the Universalist belief in Hell as a purification mechanism to bring sinners to God?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Thank you.

 

You make a fair point about science and there have no doubt been disagreements between individuals with religious and scientific leanings throughout history. However, I think it's also fair to say that most scientific innovations before the 16th century were achieved by societies who were organised by religious traditions. During the Islamic Golden Age, for example, the foundations of science were laid by Ibn-al-Haytham. And in the West Roger Bacon is often credited with the scientific method, and he was a Franciscan friar. From the 16th century onwards, however, and starting with Galileo in particular, I detect a growing conflict between two opposing world views - religion and science.

 

As regards my own book, I sought out writers with opposing points of view with very little exception, as you will see from my bibliography. I did exchange E-mails with several of them, but I didn't try to arrange any interviews. I suspected they wouldn't have agreed to an interview and their arguments are so well documented, it didn't seem necessary. However, if you do know some scientists or biblical scholars who would give me a good opposing point of view, I'd be happy to send them a copy.

 

As regards hell, I see it as a punishment, but as God chastises those whom he loves, I believe the ultimate effect of hell is cathartic and redemptive in nature.

 

 

God bless

 

 

Robert

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Then how do you explain this statement, in the last chapter of the Bible which shows the conditions that will prevail in eternity after the present heaven and earth have passed away?

 

Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. (Revelation 22:14,15)

 

A blessing is pronounced on he saved, who have the right to enter the New Jerusalem, but the unsaved are not included in this blessing. This doesn't sound like universal salvation to me.

 

I currently tend to believe in a form of universal reconciliation that takes the last few chapters of Revelation mostly literally.

 

It is true that only true (faithful) believers will be able to enter the new Jerusalem spoken of in Rev 21. But Rev 21:24ff show that some people may both live outside the new Jerusalem and enter it:

 

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.

 

In my estimation, believers who would live outside the (massive) city would be those assigned to govern those who were unbelievers in the first life (and so we would reign with Christ as promised). After chastisement in the lake of fire, previous unbelievers would be discipled outside the gates of the city. Then perhaps, at some point, their names would be written in the book of life and they would be aloud to enter the city. Or, perhaps, a previous unbeliever who resists sanctification would be cast back into the lake of fire for more chastisement. Revelation does not speak to my last two sentences, though.

 

But Paul did say, in 1 Tim 4:10:

 

10 For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.

 

God's judgments are unsearchable and His ways past finding out (Rom 11:33). The Philippians were told to work out their salvation "with fear and trembling" (Phil 2:12). The salvation of unbelievers from this life could be a very complex subject which entails divine judgments, the judgments of the elect regarding unbelievers, potentially multiple chastisements in the lake of fire, and possibly a long road to sanctification. I believe it to be relatively easy for God to sanctify a living person, who has not experienced His wrath, to salvation. For Him to sanctify an unbeliever from this life, who will no doubt have much against Him, to salvation, would be much more difficult and time consuming.

 

 

 

 

Robert, your book looks interesting. I may purchase a copy and reply.

Edited by andrew32
update final line

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Andrew

 

Thank you; appreciated.

 

As you will see, I take the scriptures extremely seriously and cover every key passage from the Old Testament onwards. So there's a fairly lengthy dissection of 1 Timothy 4:10. For me the verses that prove universal salvation most apodictically are Romans 5:18,19. I'd value your views on these and other matters in due course.

 

May God keep you,

 

 

Robert

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
As regards hell, I see it as a punishment, but as God chastises those whom he loves, I believe the ultimate effect of hell is cathartic and redemptive in nature.

God's love is expressed by his sending Jesus into the earth to atone for our sins. Those who have received him are often chastened but never condemned. Those who reject him reject God's love and so are subject to his wrath. God is eternal so any sin against him deserves eternal punishment.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Theophilus

 

I totally agree with the first part of what you say, but the Bible also teaches that God forgives people when they repent. It is my belief that all will repent in the end and be forgiven.

 

I'm not aware of any biblical statement that supports your last sentence. Can you provide one?

 

 

Robert

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It is my belief that all will repent in the end and be forgiven.

All are so evil they will not repent unless the Holy Spirit moves them to do so. Jesus himself said, "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him." Revelation chapters 8 and 9 describe the judgments God will send when the angels blow their trumpets. Verses 20 and 21 show the response to these judgments. "The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk, nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts." God commands all to repent now. There will be no opportunity after we leave this life.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Theophilus

 

I agree, but Jesus also said that He would draw all men to Himself (John 12:32). As regards the dead, 1 Peter 3:19 to 4:6 refers to Christ preaching to people in hell.

 

 

Robert

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
As regards the dead, 1 Peter 3:19 to 4:6 refers to Christ preaching to people in hell.
I have a few questions.

 

In which of those texts is the word "hell" mentioned?

 

What evidence is there that the "people" (which is not in the text) are the spirits of human beings?

 

What is the difference between the verb used in 1 Peter 3:19 and the verb used in 1 Peter 4:6 (i.e. proclaimed/preached)?

 

Why did Jesus only preach to the dead who died during the flood (1 Peter 3:19-21)? Why did he not preached to all the dead who had died up to the time of His own death\resurrection?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Origen

 

 

In which of those texts is the word ‘hell’ mentioned?

 

As you know, the word 'hell' is not actually used in this passage. However, I would argue that this must be a referring to hell. Verses 18-20 describe how Christ, being put to death in the flesh, went in the spirit and preached to ‘the spirits in prison’. The beings in question are ‘spirits’, so this cannot be a literal prison; it must therefore be a metaphor for a spiritual prison of some kind. In this context, ‘prison’ is always used in the Bible as a symbol of hell (Isaiah 24:22; Matthew 18:30; Revelation 20:7). And the idea that Christ descended to hell is echoed elsewhere in the New Testament (Acts 2:31; Ephesians 4:8, 9).

 

 

What evidence is there that the ‘people’ are the spirits of human beings?

 

The spirits are said to be those who disobeyed at the time Noah’s ark was being built. The only beings in the Bible who are said to have disobeyed at this time are the people who died in the Flood. And this interpretation is reinforced by 1 Peter 4:6, which refers to the gospel being preached to the 'dead', so it must refer to people who have died as opposed to disobedient angels.

 

 

What’s the difference between ‘proclaimed’ in 1 Peter 3:19 and ‘preached’ in 1 Peter 4:6?

 

The first verb’s range of meanings is closely associated with the concept of ‘announcing openly’ and ‘making [things] publicly known’. As the English word ‘proclaim’ is a transitive verb, most versions say ‘preached’, as ‘proclaim’ obviously raises the question, ‘proclaimed what?’ In addition, this Greek word frequently has the force of ‘preach’ in the New Testament, i.e., spreading the good news or inculcating sound doctrine (Matthew 24:14; Mark 1:38, 13:10; Act 15:21; Romans 2:21, 16:25; and 1 Corinthians 15:14).

 

Whilst the first word emphasises the open and public nature of the preaching, the verb in 1 Peter 4:6 is closely associated with preaching of ‘glad tidings’ or ‘good news’. So the cognate noun is the source of the English word, ‘evangelist’. Examples of this verb being use in the sense of preaching the gospel can be found in various places in the News Testament, such as Matthew 26:13; Mark 8:35; 1 Corinthians 4:15 and 9:14.

 

The differences in the two verbs are therefore differences of emphasis, with a considerable overlap in their semantic ranges. These differences are also somewhat academic here, however, as the verb in 1 Peter 4:6 clearly refers back to the actions described in 1 Peter 3:19.

 

 

Why did Jesus only preach to the dead who died during the flood? Why did He not preach to all the dead who had died up to the time of His own death\resurrection?

 

The passage in question does not say that Jesus ONLY preached to those who died during the Flood.

 

 

 

Robert

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
As you know, the word 'hell' is not actually used in this passage. However, I would argue that this must be a referring to hell. Verses 18-20 describe how Christ, being put to death in the flesh, went in the spirit and preached to ‘the spirits in prison’. The beings in question are ‘spirits’, so this cannot be a literal prison; it must therefore be a metaphor for a spiritual prison of some kind. In this context, ‘prison’ is always used in the Bible as a symbol of hell (Isaiah 24:22; Matthew 18:30; Revelation 20:7). And the idea that Christ descended to hell is echoed elsewhere in the New Testament (Acts 2:31; Ephesians 4:8, 9).
There are a number of problems with your claims and citations. The two main ones are you have no regard for context, and you clearly do not know Hebrew or Greek.

 

First, none of the passages you cite have the word "hell' in them. The English word "hell" translates the Greek word "geenna" (i.e. γέενναν) in English translations.

 

Second, in Acts 2:31 the word "hades" is used (i.e. ᾅδης), however you have missed the point. Peter is contrasting Jesus with David. Peter states in verse 29:

 

I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.
Why would Peter say this? What is the point? Because Jesus just like David died and was buried, but unlike David Jesus was not left in the tomb. That is the contrast. David himself attested to the fact that the messiah would not be "abandoned to hades nor did his flesh see corruption."

 

No doubt you think that the word "hades" proves your point but it does not for the two reasons I cited about (i.e. You have no regard for context, and you clearly do not know Hebrew or Greek).

 

Let's deal with the second part of that verse first (i.e. "nor did his flesh see corruption"). Going back to David, Peter's point was that David's remains were still in his grave and they could visit his tomb to verity that fact. He had died and his flesh had decayed. The contrast with Jesus is that his body did not suffer decay. One could visit Jesus' and not find any body or remains. That is what the Greek word διαφθορά means "rot, decay."

 

That bring us to the word "hades." Since you don't know Greek I will keep this simple. Strong lists "grave" as a meaning for the word "hades" and so does Mounce's Greek dictionary. It is well within the semantic range of meaning to translate it as grave.

 

Thus when contrasted with David, Peter's meaning is clear. This passage does not have anything to do with Jesus descend into abode of the dead but into the grave. Peter makes it clear that was David's point: "he foresaw and about the resurrection of the Christ." Jesus was dead, and was buried, however he is not in his grave but had been resurrected in contrast with David who was dead, buried, and still in his grave, in other words not resurrected.

 

But let's assume that Peter does mean the abode of the dead when he refers to "hades" and not the grave in spite of the contrast he makes. That brings us to Ephesians 4:8-9. There is nothing in the text that suggest Jesus lead everyone in "hades" to heaven. At best, if that interpretation is even possible, it means that Jesus lead those O.T. believers\saints who had died before his atonement into heaven. There is nothing in that passage that suggests universalism.

 

Yet your claim has a bigger problem than that. All you have done is claim that it means Christ descended to hell. You have given zero evidence for your claim nor have you given any evidence that would refute other interpretations which are possible.

 

Now what about Matthew 18:30? That is no help. According to your interpretation the word "prison" ought to be equated with "hell" but the text does not do that. Sometimes the word prison just means prison and nothing more as in this case. Moreover, again, you have missed the point. The servant owes the king an exaggerated amount of money (i.e. ten thousand talents). The average amount of money a servant\laborer earned was a denarius a day. A talent was worth approximately 60,000 denarius. That mean the servant\laborer would have to work sixty million days to pay it back. IMPOSSIBLE! That is the point. There is no way the servant could save himself from the debt he owed. Thus the application is clear. There is no way sinners can save themselves but must turn to God and accept Christ's atonement. Rather than look for the point which the whole parable is making within its own context, you are looking for points to support your theology. That is no way to examine the text.

 

What about Revelation 20:7? Is the pit (i.e. the abyss) "hell"? No! The word for the "abyss" is associated with Tartarus (i.e. τάρταρος). Tartarus is the abode of the worst of the worst, demons, evil spirits. According to these scholarly sources:

 

In Greek mythology, the name Τάρταρος (prob. not a native Gk. term, but found already in Homer Il. 8.13, 481) orig. denoted a deep abyss, far beneath Hades (ibid. 8.16). It was surrounded by a brazen wall and encircled by impenetrable darkness. New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis p. 458.

 

Tartarus, thought of by the Greeks as a subterranean place lower than Hades where divine punishment was meted out, and so regarded in Israelite apocalyptic as well... A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian, 3rd Edition, p. 991.
So the abyss, the pit, is Tartarus. This make perfect sense. In Luke 8:31 the demons beg Jesus not sent them into the abyss, not "geenna," not "hades," but the abyss.

 

Moreover the abyss is referred to as a prison (also out side of the N.T.). Let's use the verse you cited to prove my point.

 

"And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison..." (Rev. 20:7)

 

"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..." (Rev. 20:2)

 

As anyone can see the abyss is the prison. So it is clear that Tartarus is the abyss which is a prison.

 

Thus far every point you have made is built upon a complete misunderstanding of the context and a lack of careful study of the key Greek (and Hebrew) words in the text. I did not address Isaiah 24:22 because it will be important for your other points latter but believe me it will be addressed. Context means dealing with every element in the text and not just those which you believe support your view. Context means that all the elements fit together as a coherent and cohesive whole. That is what your interpretations lack. I will address the rest of your points perhaps tomorrow but I am sure everyone can see the many, many problems with your interpretation of the above texts and how they don't fit the context or the meaning of the Greek words found in those text.

Edited by Origen

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Origen, pardon me if my post here seems as brash as perhaps yours do.

 

In all of your long reply, I see no place in which you argue that Christ did not in fact speak to the dead spirits/souls of those who were formerly disobedient (particularly, though not necessarily exclusively, those who died in the flood).

 

Thus you have in essence created "secondary straw men." That is, you have argued against secondary ideas and secondary evidence without addressing the main argument. I could see you doing so again by telling me that I don't know what a "straw man" argument is. But read my sentence. I didn't say that you literally created a straw man (though for Robert's sake, I'll reserve judgment on that).

 

Considering that Christ did communicate to the dead who were formerly disobedient, regardless of their specific location, what would you assume His message was? Did He go into the abyss in order to rub His victory in their faces? I would say that, knowing His character, He would have communicated with them to proclaim a future hope of a life lived in Him. Or what other purpose would He have in communicating to them?

 

Combine those 1 Peter verses with Paul's reference to baptizing on behalf of the dead in 1 Cor 15:29. Where is that coming from unless there is a finite, though perhaps long, judgment in the "lake of fire" before a gradual restoration of all things to God? A judgment that agrees with 1 Tim 4:10, Rom 5:18-19, 1 Cor 15:22, Eph 1:9-11, Col 1:19-20, and many other verses?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Origen, pardon me if my post here seems as brash as perhaps yours do.
No problem.

 

In all of your long reply, I see no place in which you argue that Christ did not in fact speak to the dead spirits/souls of those who were formerly disobedient (particularly, though not necessarily exclusively, those who died in the flood).
In his first section Robertus gave me a list of five passage. I am going through them methodically one by one. However I am not done. Thus far of the ones I have address none of them supports his claim.

 

It is incumbent upon the one who makes the claim to support that claim with evidence and argumentation. It is not my burden to prove that Christ did not speak to the dead. If there is no evidence that Jesus did speak to the dead, there can be no good justification for believing he did.

 

Thus you have in essence created "secondary straw men." That is, you have argued against secondary ideas and secondary evidence without addressing the main argument.
Not really. I do not have to prove any view is correct to prove his view is wrong. I have given evidence which shows, to say the least, that his citations do not support his view and why.

 

I could see you doing so again by telling me that I don't know what a "straw man" argument is. But read my sentence. I didn't say that you literally created a straw man (though for Robert's sake, I'll reserve judgment on that).
Thanks for that.

 

Considering that Christ did communicate to the dead who were formerly disobedient, regardless of their specific location, what would you assume His message was? Did He go into the abyss in order to rub His victory in their faces? I would say that, knowing His character, He would have communicated with them to proclaim a future hope of a life lived in Him. Or what other purpose would He have in communicating to them?
I am now writing my response to his claim concerning 1 Peter 3:19, 1 Peter 4:6 and Isaiah 24:22. Both 1 Peter 3:19 and 1 Peter 4:6 are the linchpins for his claim and I am sure I can show why it won't work.

 

Combine those 1 Peter verses with Paul's reference to baptizing on behalf of the dead in 1 Cor 15:29. Where is that coming from unless there is a finite, though perhaps long, judgment in the "lake of fire" before a gradual restoration of all things to God? A judgment that agrees with 1 Tim 4:10, Rom 5:18-19, 1 Cor 15:22, Eph 1:9-11, Col 1:19-20, and many other verses?
If 1 Peter 3:19 and 1 Peter 4:6 don't support him claim, and I will show they don't and why, then a major part of the foundation for finite judgment is lost. Therefore combining 1 Peter with any other verses in order to bring them into harmony with the idea\doctrine\claim of Christ speaking to the dead for the purpose of universal salvation becomes irrelevant. If the text does not support the view that Christ went to hell in order to share the Gospel with the dead so that they too could be saved, then there is no good reason to believe he did. Edited by Origen

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
What evidence is there that the ‘people’ are the spirits of human beings?

 

The spirits are said to be those who disobeyed at the time Noah’s ark was being built. The only beings in the Bible who are said to have disobeyed at this time are the people who died in the Flood. And this interpretation is reinforced by 1 Peter 4:6, which refers to the gospel being preached to the 'dead', so it must refer to people who have died as opposed to disobedient angels.

 

What’s the difference between ‘proclaimed’ in 1 Peter 3:19 and ‘preached’ in 1 Peter 4:6?

 

The first verb’s range of meanings is closely associated with the concept of ‘announcing openly’ and ‘making [things] publicly known’. As the English word ‘proclaim’ is a transitive verb, most versions say ‘preached’, as ‘proclaim’ obviously raises the question, ‘proclaimed what?’ In addition, this Greek word frequently has the force of ‘preach’ in the New Testament, i.e., spreading the good news or inculcating sound doctrine (Matthew 24:14; Mark 1:38, 13:10; Act 15:21; Romans 2:21, 16:25; and 1 Corinthians 15:14).

Just as the verses above you cite are misunderstood and out of context, the same is true of 1 Peter 3:19 and 4:6. You have made the assumption that both are referencing to the same thing. They are not and the evidence will show this.

 

First, you state: The only beings in the Bible who are said to have disobeyed at this time are the people who died in the Flood. This is not correct.

 

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into Tartarus and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly... (2 Peter 2:4)

 

Now let's compare that with 1 Peter 3:19-20.

 

he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water.

 

Note the parallels.

 

1. prison - chains of gloomy darkness

 

2. spirits in prison - angels in Tartarus

 

3. sinned - did not obey

 

It has already been shown that the abyss, the pit, is Tartarus, and that Tartarus, the abyss, was a prison.

 

4. Both reference Noah, the flood, and those saved on the ark.

 

5. Also note that both passage are by the same author.

 

It is very clear that the two are linked together by content and theme.

 

The Greek word for "spirit" (i.e. πνεῦμα) is infinity more likely to refer to non-human such as angels and demons. As Jobes point out:

 

Any theory that understands the pneumata (spirits) of 3:19 to refer to the souls of deceased people faces the important lexical problem of whether that noun without further qualification was used to refer to deceased souls in contemporary literature. On the basis of lexical studies, many NT commentators today claim it was not (Achtemeier 1996: 255; Bandstra 2003: 123; Best 1971: 143; Boring 1999: 140; Davids 1990: 140; J. H. Elliott 2000: 656; France 1977: 269–70; Kelly 1969: 154; Kistemaker 1987: 143; McKnight 1996: 217; Michaels 1988: 208; Selwyn 1958: 198; Stibbs 1979: 143). In the NT and in 1 Enoch (Swete 1925), the word pneuma, especially in its plural form, is used overwhelmingly to refer to malevolent supernatural beings. The souls of deceased people are typically referred to with the term psychē in the NT. (1 Peter Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament p. 250)
Note what Jobes says.

 

(1) If one, such as yourself, believe it could "refer to the souls of deceased people," then you "face [an] important lexical problem." Note that it is an "important lexical problem." Thus saying "spirits" refer to dead human beings is not evidence and cannot overcome the lexical problem simply because you say they are dead human beings.

 

(2) Jobes lists 13 Greek\N.T. scholars whose studies have shown that you claim is not correct.

 

(3) "The word pneuma, especially in its plural form, is used overwhelmingly to refer to malevolent supernatural beings. The souls of deceased people are typically referred to with the term psychē in the NT." It is up to you to prove in this case it is not.

 

Thus the evidence concerning the parallels passages (i.e. 1 Peter 3:19-20 and 2 Peter 2:4), that is content, theme, and language, does not support your claim in any way.

 

Another very important factor is the cultural and religious context of the period. The book of 1 Enoch provides the background for 1 Peter 3:19-20, 2 Peter 2:4, and Jude 14-15. This does not mean that 1 Enoch is Scripture nor is it an endorsement of the book. During the Second Temple period this story was well known and accepted and there is abundant evidence to prove it. And since both Peter and Jude pick up on that story (a story they knew there readers knew and understood) there must be some truth to at least some part of it, the parts they address. These are fallen angels. The parallels are both context and language are undeniable. Any ancient listener\reader mind would instantly go to the story concerning fallen angels.

 

Will be back to finish this soon.

Edited by Origen
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Pneuma was used in Luke 8:55, Luke 23:46, John 19:30, and Acts 7:59 to refer to the spirit of a (specific) human. Though you might can say that the plural usage of the word usually speaks of angelic/demonic spirits, I fail to see how you could say that the plural version of the word is restricted to such usage. Heb 12:23 has an example of the plural use of pneuma describing human spirits.

 

Thayer's Greek Lexicon disagrees with you (and even lists 1 Pet 3:19 as referencing human spirits).

 

 

Then considering 2 Pet 2:4, I saw your point quite clearly the first time I read your post. But then I read the context of 2 Pet 2:4 (seeing the other groups of persons who were "not spared"). And I read 1 Pet 3:19-20 again. I see no clear link between the two. In the second letter, Peter lists the fallen angels, followed by 2 sets of dichotomies: Noah vs sinners of his time; Lot vs Sodom and Gomorrah. There is no reason to link "the angels who sinned" with the flood time period unless you also link them to Lot's time. And there is no need to link them in order to make Peter's point that follows in 2 Pet 2:9.

 

 

You also ignored 1 Pet 4:6, which speaks of "the dead" (why would "the dead" not signify humans?).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Pneuma was used in Luke 8:55, Luke 23:46, John 19:30, and Acts 7:59 to refer to the spirit of a (specific) human. Though you might can say that the plural usage of the word usually speaks of angelic/demonic spirits, I fail to see how you could say that the plural version of the word is restricted to such usage.
First, I said in post 20: "The Greek word for "spirit" (i.e. πνεῦμα) is infinity more likely to refer to non-human such as angels and demons." Note that I did not say never or could not.

 

Second, that is the same conclusion that Achtemeier, Bandstra, Best, Boring, Davids, J. H. Elliott, France, Kelly, Kistemaker, McKnight, Michaels, Selwyn, Stibbs, and Jobes all came to.

 

Third, Jobes points out: "In the NT and in 1 Enoch (Swete 1925), the word pneuma, especially in its plural form, is used overwhelmingly to refer to malevolent supernatural beings. The souls of deceased people are typically referred to with the term psychē in the NT." And that is just what we have in 1 Pet 3:19 "pneuma" in its plural form.

 

I am taking about the quality and quantity of evidence. What I have referenced are Greek\N.T. scholars and their studies containing examples, evidence, and argumentation for their position. The evidence points in the direction I have indicated. Yet that is only one element of my case. I have also supplied context, language, and parallels all placed within its Second Temple cultural and religious setting and showing how they ALL fits together (but I am not done).

 

Heb 12:23 has an example of the plural use of pneuma describing human spirits.
Yes it is and I was wondering how long it would take you to bring it to my attention. As Jobes points out:

 

The one reference where pneuma in its plural form clearly refers to human beings (Heb. 12:23) is qualified by a substantive adjective, “spirits of the righteous,” and it is not completely clear that this is a reference to the deceased. p. 251
Since it is qualified by a substantive adjective, that makes it clear that it refers to human beings and that is the difference. As you can see Jobes states "it is not completely clear that this is a reference to the deceased." The problem is that most people think a word can only mean one thing must mean the same thing in every context, in this case an unembodied human being. That is just flat out wrong.

 

Thayer's Greek Lexicon disagrees with you (and even lists 1 Pet 3:19 as referencing human spirits).
Yes he does. Yet that is not proof he is correct only that he disagrees. Again it is the the quality and quantity of the evidence that matter. The fact is that Thayer's Greek Lexicon is out of date and obsolete. Thayer's Lexicon was published in 1890. Thayer did not have the wealth of manuscript evidence of the N.T., the Greek O.T. and many other non canonical documents that we have today. In 1912 only 14 papyri were known. Now there are 134. In 1908 here were around 72 New Testament uncial. Now there are ca. 323 New Testament uncial. And that is but a sample for the Greek.

 

In an appendix Thayer listed ca. 300 biblical words that either did not occur outside the NT or which were used in the NT with meanings unique to Scripture. Now we know better thanks to archeology. It has been proven that almost all of these 300 words were used in Greek contemporary with the NT. The number has dropped to ca. 12.

 

My point is that no competent Greek\N.T. scholar now would ever use Thayer. Moreover, as I point out above, it is not proof he is correct only that he disagrees. He gives no evidence.

 

[There has also been increases in manuscripts for the Latin, the Coptic, and the Syriac etc. All of which give us a better understanding of the text.]

 

Then considering 2 Pet 2:4, I saw your point quite clearly the first time I read your post. But then I read the context of 2 Pet 2:4 (seeing the other groups of persons who were "not spared"). And I read 1 Pet 3:19-20 again. I see no clear link between the two. In the second letter, Peter lists the fallen angels, followed by 2 sets of dichotomies: Noah vs sinners of his time; Lot vs Sodom and Gomorrah.
First, the link is the language, context, theme, and background between 1 Peter and 2 Peter. The fact that another group is also mentioned as an example does not negate the evidence I gave for the links between the two. Second, you got the structure wrong. The pattern is A - B, A - B.

 

A. God did not spare the angels. (v. 4)

B. But God did spare Noah. (v. 5)

 

A. God did not spare Sodom and Gomorrah. (v. 6)

B. But God did spare Lot. (v. 7)

 

Peter is gives two examples. In both examples the out come is the same. The evil are punished but the righteous are saved. Peter says: "The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment" (v. 9).

 

There is no reason to link "the angels who sinned" with the flood time period unless you also link them to Lot's time.
I see no exegetical or grammatical reason to do that. Lot is linked by context to Sodom and Gomorrah both here and in Genesis. It is clear that Peter is giving two difference examples to make his point, but there is no reason to link the fallen angels to Lot because Peter does not do that. The text does, however, does link the fallen angels to Noah in both 1 and 2 Peter.

 

You also ignored 1 Pet 4:6, which speaks of "the dead" (why would "the dead" not signify humans?).
I have not ignored anything. The last thing I said was: "Will be back to finish this soon." Edited by Origen

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
First, the link is the language, context, theme, and background between 1 Peter and 2 Peter. The fact that another group is also mentioned as an example does not negate the evidence I gave for the links between the two. Second, you got the structure wrong. The pattern is A - B, A - B.

 

A. God did not spare the angels. (v. 4)

B. But God did spare Noah. (v. 5)

 

A. God did not Sodom and Gomorrah. (v. 6)

B. But God did spare Lot. (v. 7)

 

 

That is how I read it the first time from your translation, without the rest of the verse. But it is A, B1-C1, B2-C2

 

A = "if God did not spare angels when they sinned but cast them into 'hell' and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until judment"

 

B1 = "if He did not spare the ancient world" ; "when He brought a flood upon the ungodly"

C1 = "but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others"

 

B2 = "if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes"

C2 = "if He rescued righteous Lot"

 

 

Just as Lot is compared with Sodom and Gomorrah, Noah and his family are compared with those who drowned. The fallen angels are alone at the beginning of the verse. They would have likewise been compared with the angels who did not fall if Peter wanted to make an A1/B1, A2/B2, A3/B3 parallelism. Do you have a translation that lacks my B1?

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
That is how I read it the first time from your translation, without the rest of the verse. But it is A, B1-C1, B2-C2

 

A = "if God did not spare angels when they sinned but cast them into 'hell' and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until judment"

 

B1 = "if He did not spare the ancient world" ; "when He brought a flood upon the ungodly"

C1 = "but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others"

 

B2 = "if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes"

C2 = "if He rescued righteous Lot"

 

Just as Lot is compared with Sodom and Gomorrah, Noah and his family are compared with those who drowned. The fallen angels are alone at the beginning of the verse. They would have likewise been compared with the angels who did not fall if Peter wanted to make an A1/B1, A2/B2, A3/B3 parallelism. Do you have a translation that lacks my B1?

You are not looking at what I am look at. I am looking at the Greek text. I only supply the ESV for convenience sake. In Greek the whole thing is a conditional sentence. The first five verses (vv. 4-9) form the protasis while verse 9 is a parenthetical statement. The final three verses form the apodosis. The Greek word for "if" (i.e. εἰ) is only used one time in the passage.

 

I believe the Greek text brings out the structure better than the English.

 

Take for example the phrase "when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly." The verb "brought" is an Aorist participle. There is no word "when" in the Greek text. It is necessary to bring out the past tense because the participle is temporal.

 

Now let's compare it to the phrase "making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly." The verb "making" is also a participle but this time it is present tense.

 

κατακλυσμὸν κόσμῳ ἀσεβῶν ἐπάξας = "when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly."

ὑπόδειγμα μελλόντων ἀσεβεῖν τεθεικὼς = "making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly."

 

Both have four words. Both use a participles. In both the participle is at the end of the clause (i.e. ἐπάξας and τεθεικὼς) Both use the same word for "ungodly" (i.e. ἀσεβής) and both put it in the same place (second from the end). In English you could never know any of that.

 

Yet there my be a better way than both mine or yours to understand the pattern. I will have to give some more thought. Anyway, the structure\pattern is neither life nor death to my exegesis. I only addressed it because of something you said in post 21. It was never important for my case.

Edited by Origen

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Origen

 

Thank you (and to Andrew) for taking time out to comment in such detail.

 

I’d firstly like to reassure you that I do read and consider, both the immediate and the wider context when examining any biblical passage, particularly the more difficult ones. A good example of this is the section of my book that covers Daniel, which also includes my interlinear translation of the Hebrew text of Daniel 9:24-27.

 

I wouldn’t claim to have any great expertise in any area, however. I secured top grades at Divinity O and A level around 40 years ago, and have studied Hebrew and Koine a fair bit since then, understanding the grammar and then undertaking some in-depth studies of specific words and phrases.

 

Like others on these discussion groups, I also spend a fair amount of time studying good lexicons and commentaries along the way. And I regularly seek out the views of those who I know will disagree with me, which is why we are having this discussion.

 

I have to say, though, that I was a little taken aback by the tone of some of your comments. As well as not feeling very kind, they seemed somewhat out of keeping with your role as a moderator. I've always understood moderators to be a kind of facilitator who also ensures that all contributions comply with the site’s rules of engagement. I think at times you perhaps run the risk of perhaps monopolising rather than moderating the discussion. You obviously know a lot, but the unfettered display of that knowledge coupled with the tone of some of your contributions runs the risk of perhaps putting others off, I feel.

 

I also cannot see anything in my last contribution that betrays a lack of a knowledge of Hebrew or Greek or of a failure to engage with the wider context. After all the texts from Acts, Ephesians and 1 Peter that I mentioned were the key passages that persuaded our early predecessor to include Christ’s descent to hell into the Apostolic creed, as pointed out by the New Bible Commentary (p 1,244). I confess I don’t know a huge amount about the process that was involved in formulating this creed, but I assume the councils had a reasonable knowledge of Hebrew and Greek and took careful cognisance of the whole biblical context before deciding on what should be included.

 

Turning to the texts.

 

 

Acts 2:27, 31

It is important to note here that Psalm 16:10 makes two predictions regarding Christ, namely that -

 

(a) his soul would not be abandoned in hell; and,

(b) his flesh would not see corruption.

 

Peter emphases the separateness of these two predictions, by adding the word ‘neither’ to the word ‘nor’ in Psalm 16:10. He then uses the latter to demonstrate that David could not have been speaking of himself, as his body clearly had seen corruption. It must therefore refer to Christ and hence (a) bears eloquent testimony to Christ’s resurrection.

 

Whilst Christ’s resurrection was the principal purpose of quoting this scripture, however, it also presents us with an important further question: what does (a) mean?

 

As you know, in both Hebrew and Greek, the word for ‘soul’ can also mean ‘life’. However, reading it as ‘life’ here makes no sense. If you are dead, you have no ‘life’, so this is not something that can be ‘abandoned’ anywhere. So the word must mean ‘soul’ and as the ‘soul’ is spiritual, it is not something than can be abandoned in a physical ‘grave’, unlike ‘flesh’ (see verse 31). The word ‘Hades’ must therefore refer to a spiritual place not a physical one, i.e. ‘hell’ (c.f. Luke 16:23-24).

 

It is important also to note here that it does not say that Christ’s soul did not go to Hades at all; it says that it was not ‘abandoned’ there. So it was there for a time, and 1 Peter 3:19-4:6 tells us why.

 

Ephesians 4:9

The above passage from Acts is not fully understandable, therefore, without 1 Peter 3:19-4.6, which is why I described it as an ‘echo’ of the latter.

 

This passage from Ephesians 4:7-10 provides another ‘echo’ albeit perhaps slightly fainter one. This echo comes in two ways. To begin with, the passage describes the descent by Christ ‘into the lower parts of the earth’ before His ascension to heaven. Now, we know that Christ was placed in a tomb, so that doesn’t seem to meet this description. This raises a question: are these ‘lower parts’ something spiritual rather than something physical, with the Greek word perhaps meaning ‘world’ rather than ‘earth’ in this context? After all, Christ is spirit and it is His spirit that He commended into His Father’s hands and which ascended to heaven. So when it says that Christ descended into the bowels of the world, does that not mean that He descended to hell? I believe1 Peter 3:19 -4:6 answers that question in the affirmative.

 

The other interesting statement here is the one in Ephesians 4:7, namely, that in addition to ‘giving gifts to men’, Christ also led the captives free. If you are a ‘captive’, then you are a prisoner of sorts, and we know from 1 Peter that when Christ descended to hell He proclaimed the good news to the those in ‘prison’ there. Thus, my reading of 1 Peter 3 makes perfect sense of this passage in Ephesians as well. Christ’s visit to hell was not in vain; He liberated the captives in hell and took them to heaven.

 

1 Peter 3:19 - 4:6

You initially objected to my reading of this passage because hell and people were not explicitly mentioned. However, neither is the abyss and fallen angels. Nor does the bible mention that angels disobeyed at the time that Noah was building the ark. You don’t appear to be being consistent here.

 

You also don’t explain what you think Christ proclaimed to these fallen angels or why. Nor have you explained what 1 Peter 4:6 is referring to when he speaks about the gospel being 'preached to the dead'. Who were these people? Why was the gospel preached to them if they were dead? Who did this preaching? And why does Peter assume we know about this, if, as you appear to argue, preaching to dead people has never been mentioned before?

 

The fact is that 1 Peter 4 follows on from 1 Peter 3 very clear in terms of its diction - ‘flesh’, ‘spirit’, ‘alive’, ‘dead’. There are also some more direct linguistic linkages between the two chapters. 1 Peter

starts, for example, with the word, ‘therefore’ showing that there is not only a natural thought progression here, but a causal link between this and the immediately preceding passage. This becomes even clearer when you place them closer together, viz.:

 

For indeed Christ died once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, so that He might bring you to God, being put to death in the flesh on the one hand, but on the other being made alive in the spirit; in which he went and preached to the spirits in prison, to those who disobeyed when God’s longsuffering waited during the days in which Noah’s ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is eight souls, were saved through water.

 

...who will render an account to the One who is ready to judge the living and dead. For this is why the gospel was even preached to the dead, so that on the one hand they might be judged like men in the flesh, but on the other might live like God in the spirit.

 

Matthew 18:30

The parable to which this verse belongs refers to a punishment that will be meted out to some by the king when he comes to settle his accounts: they are thrown into prison, until they have paid back all they owe. This, Jesus, says, is how God will treat us if we are unforgiving towards others. All I said of this verse was that it was an example of ‘prison’ being a metaphor for ‘hell’, as this is the destination of the wicked when God comes to settle His accounts with us. I still believe this to be true.

 

Revelation 20:7

Fallen angels like Satan are spiritual beings, so hell, the Abyss and Tartarus are not geographical places, but states of being, which involve spiritual suffering and separation from God.

I don’t believe that fallen angels currently enjoy a better condition than bad men, who, as we know, go straight to hell (Luke 16:23) I therefore think that Tartarus (2 Peter 2:4) and the Abyss that Satan occupies (Revelation 20:7) are simply different degrees of hell. That there are depths of hell is indicated by Matthew 10:23,24. Like heaven, hells has many rooms.

 

Isaiah 24

I probably need to explain this one a bit more.

 

This chapter and those that follow are acknowledged to refer to the Day of Judgement. The New Bible commentary, for example, refers to Isaiah 24:23 as being ‘essentially the same vision’ as Revelation 21:22 et seq., which provides a post-apocalyptic view of the New Jerusalem.

 

The eschatological nature of these chapters is also made clear by a number of the statements in these passages. Isaiah 25:8, for example, says that at this time God will ‘swallow up death in victory’ and ‘wipe away tears from all faces’. According to 1 Corinthians 15:54, the first of these prophecies is fulfilled at the time of the ‘last trumpet’ and the resurrection of the dead. And Revelation 7:17 and 21:4 echo the second phrase when it says that God will ‘wipe away all tears’ at this time.

 

The passage we are directly concerned with here, however, is chapter 24 verses 21-22. This describes God’s punishment of mankind after the earth has fallen ‘never to rise again’. As the earth never rises again, this must be the Day of Judgement. The important point to note here is that the passage goes on to say that the disobedient will be ‘shut up in a prison, and after many days they will be visited’. The two words in italics here are vital. The first is a conjunction that can equally be translated as ‘but’. As regards ‘visited’, whilst this can mean to punish in the sense of a ‘visitation’, it can also mean to ‘visit graciously’.

 

The latter is how this verb was used only 20 verses or so earlier in Isaiah 23:17. Moreover, the second reading (‘visit graciously’) is the only one that makes sense in this context. To begin with, ‘prison’ is clearly a punishment in its own right, so it does not make sense to talk about imprisoning someone and then punishing them later, particularly when the imprisonment in question lasts ‘for many days’. In addition, the ‘prison’ here is clearly not a literal prison, but some kind of spiritual imprisonment following the Day of Judgement. ‘Prison’ in this context is always used in the Bible as a symbol of hell (Matthew 18:30; 1 Peter 3:19; Revelation 20:7).

 

Given this, the only tenable translation of verse 22 is the one provided by the New International Version, namely, ‘they will be shut up in prison, but they will be released after many days.’ Now, we know this is the end of the world, as the events occur when the earth has fallen ‘never to rise again’ (verse 20). This must therefore be the Day of Judgement described in the New Testament (e.g. Matthew 25:31-46). Consequently, this verse must be telling us that hell is not literally ‘for ever’, and that people will ultimately be released from it.

 

To argue against this reading, we would have to say that the ‘prison’ does not represent hell; hell is the ‘visitation’ that occurs ‘after many days’. The problem with this reading, however, is that it would not explain what the ‘prison’ was. Nor would it reconcile with any of the New Testament passages about The Day of Judgement, which make no reference to a state of initial imprisonment that lasts ‘for many days’, which follows the destruction of the earth but which also occurs before people are actually sent to hell.

 

The only interpretation that can be reconciled with the rest of scripture is that the ‘prison’ here represents hell. Given this, the suffering of this ‘prison’ cannot last for ever, as God ‘graciously visits’ its inhabitants ‘after many days’. This clearly points to God releasing people after a long period of spiritual incarceration.

 

 

God bless

 

 

Robert

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×