The Evangelical Universalist Forum

A resurrection contradiction?

I thought this deserved it’s own thread. There are a couple premises in the NT that I’m struggling to work into flowing narrative.

In the Psalms Sheol is described as a place that sounds like soul sleep. In Luke Jesus tells the thief on the cross that that day they would be together in paradise. In Ephesians Paul says Jesus led people captive during the ascension. In Revelation it says Hades (Sheol) was thrown into the lake of fire. How are all of these premises compatible?

How could the thief be in paradise if he was in a place of no conscious experience? How could those in Sheol be thrown into the lake of fire if Jesus had already led them from captivity to heaven?

I think it has to do with timing and what you believe about the afterlife. The thief would go to heaven because it would be after Jesus death on the cross and this thief was a believer. Presumably the captives Jesus lead up to heaven were believers and the others who ended up in the LOF were unbelievers.

But doesn’t Ephesians 4 teach that it wasn’t until the ascension that Jesus led people to heaven?

Do you believe in heaven?

@maintenanceman yes, why?

The greek word “paradeisos” translates to words such as garden or enclosure. If you take it as enclosure that may be a reference to sheol/hades. Also, since Jesus went there after death there wouldn’t be any contradiction with his wording on what he said to the thief. Just a theory.

@mik taking everything I wrote in the OP into consideration, can you give a timeline of the postmortem experiences?

Well part of my theory is that Jesus was in Sheol for the three days and after that heaven was the option to go to after death. Sheol was “thrown into the lake of fire” as there was no more use for it since Jesus came to save them from it and succeeded. Now when people die maybe they go to heaven and each in turn get “judged” whatever that means. Resulting in some form of annihilationism or universalism. This is more of a preteristic type of view.

If you take a more futuristic viewpoint then maybe you could argue that Jesus came to save the lost of Isreal specifically which doesn’t include everyone who ever died. Maybe when people die now they still go to Sheol in the soul sleep stage and all wake up at some future judgement event (with the house of Isreal leading that judgement of everyone). Then some go to annihilationism or universalism. And then Sheol is thrown into the LOF.

@mik I’m a preterist. My theory has been that sheol was emptied during the parousia (AD 70). However, Ephesians 4 and Jesus’s words to the thief on the cross are hard to harmonize with this theory.

from my view, the preterist understanding is that all is accomplished, I tend to take that vein, but qaz you seem to want to question the pretest view even though you proclaim yourself as a preterist. Time and time again. ???

Well qaz, I think it could go either way in terms of Ephesians 4 - don’t see it as too big a deal personally. I sort of settled with preterism as well, however the only thing that is making me question that very seriously is due to the point that Messianic Jews today still see it as a future worldwide event.

Don’t be too sure of that, qaz— though it really looks that way in reading modern translations. For example:

Luke 23:43 (ESV) And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

In the Greek manuscripts there was no comma before today. Indeed, there were no periods either or even spaces between words. What if we insert the comma after “today”?

Luke 23:43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you today, you will be with me in Paradise.”

With the comma in this position, it could be thousands of years later that the thief would be with Him in Paradise! Indeed, as I see it, the thief as well as the rest of us won’t be with Him until He raises us from the dead at the last day—the last day of this age—the day when Jesus returns.

Some people have objected to placing the comma after “today” saying, “We don’t talk that way, 'I say to you today.” Well… I would translate it as, “I’m telling you today.” And we do talk that way. Haven’t you sometimes heard a person say, “I’m telling you right now…” I have—many times.

I don’t believe in “soul sleep” either. I go much further. I don’t believe we exist after death until Jesus raises us from the dead. It seems that Paul didn’t either. He indicated that unless there is a resurrection, we might as well eat, drink, and be merry, for there would be no after-life for us. Here are Paul’s words:

(1 Cor 15:32) … If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”

But, praise God, the dead are raised! Jesus will raise to life His disciples on the last day:

(John 6:40) For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day."
(John 6:44) No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.
(John 6:54) Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.

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Yea Paidion thats a great point. A concept that really should be taught to people nowadays. You could also see that in Matt 24:5 “For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many.” and change it to "For many will come in my name claiming I am the messiah, and will deceive many. Think the translators got that one right though.

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I’ve been thinking about the passage in question.
We know the circumstances - Jesus and others have been stripped naked, nailed hands and feet to the cross, knowing they were going to die later that day. They have been tortured; Jesus was pierced with a sword, face bloodied by the piercing crown of thorns jammed into his scalp, was being mocked and jeered at, felt abandoned by his God.
Then he says, in response to that thief:
a) I truly say to you that you will be with me in paradise, or
b) I truly say to you today, that you will be with me in paradise, or
c) I truly say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.

In that context, it seems to me, (a) and (b) are essentially the same. No new information is added by the use of ‘today’ in (b). Everyone, Jesus and the others, and the people on the ground watching, KNEW it was ‘today’. I have trouble thinking that in (b) the ‘today’ in any way would give any comfort to the thief, who already knew it was ‘today’.
What other day could Jesus have spoken to the thief? Of course it was ‘today.’

OTOH, there is a HUGE difference in ©. It is equivalent to: “You will be with me in paradise 'today. '” THAT would be a more present, affirming and comforting promise to that thief - which I take it was the point.
In this, I think context rules the placement of that comma. © makes the most sense to me.


Sound logic Dave :+1:

I think the context probably gives greater weight to the standard reading and accepted understanding, as per…

The Greek word translated “when” or “whenever” is ὅταν hotan. Thus Jesus’ reassurance to the thief’s petition of… “whenever it is you come into your kingly reign…” has Jesus’ categorical response as… “today” i.e., henceforth or hereafter aka from now on etc. IOW… from that point forward this thief would know and be a part of all that was to be involved with Jesus’ ascending (Eph 4:8) to his throne of majesty.

It can also be noted that NOT ONE translation HERE has this peculiar and seemingly somewhat forced reading. One might also consider this HERE.

And further to that… consider how unusual and unnatural these texts below read when applying this same peculiar rendering…

Lk 13:32 And He said to them, “Go, tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures; today and tomorrow and the third day I shall be perfected.’

Lk 19:9 And Jesus said to him today, “Salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham.”

Heb 1:5 For to which of the angels did He ever say: “You are My Son today, I have begotten You”?

It neither logically nor linguistically works.


Good exegesis Daves.

True Dave. But then whether Joe says to Sam, “I’m telling you, this is the direction you must take” or “I’m telling you right now this is the direction you must take,” these two are also essentially the same.
So why would Joe utter the second rather than the first? For emphasis.

So Jesus may have meant your sentence a) and yet uttered b) for emphasis.
And yes, either one would be a huge difference from c)

You ask, "What other day could Jesus have spoken to the thief? Of course it was ‘today.’ "
Certainly! But that proves nothing. What other time than “right now” would Joe be telling Sam, “This is the direction you must take.” But yet he utters it for emphasis.

Perhaps so! BUT I think the context of the sayings as I laid it out has the strength of being clear and understandable, even logical.
I’m certainly not trying to sneak in ‘soul-sleep’ or any other doctrines - it just seems clear to me where that comma should go.
But it all came to me as I was having a cigar, so there’s that to consider also. :slight_smile:

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If I’m not mistaken, preterist Kurt Simmons thinks one of the millennia in Revelation was the saints in paradise until AD 70.

Thoughts? Is it possible to make bimillennial preterism universalistic? @davo what are your thoughts on bimillennialism?