Destruction's Meaning in Philippians 1:28


The attached page was a study in the meaning of the Biblical term “destroyed,” during my Sunday School class in Philippians (1:28).What is the meaning of the Bible.doc (22.5 KB)


Thanks, Bob, for your article. A lot of good points made!

I invite you to consider how “destroy” is used in the following passage from I Peter 1:3-7

*Praise be the God and Father of the Anointed Lord Jesus, who, in keeping with His great mercy has regenerated us for the purpose of a living hope, through the resurrection of the Anointed Jesus from the dead, into an incorruptible and undefiled inheritance reserved in heaven for you, who, by the power of God are guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed at the last time. In this you exult, yet for a little while, if necessary, grieving in various trials in order that the testing of you of the faith, very valuable, gold being destroyed through fire, yet being tested, may be found for praise and glory and honour at the revealing of Jesus the Anointed. *

Peter compared either his readers, or the testing of their faith, to gold being destroyed by fire. Now we all know that pure gold cannot be destroyed by fire. It can be melted, but cannot be destroyed (in the usual sense of the word). What then, did Peter mean? Did he not mean that gold in its original form (gold ore) can be destroyed by fire so that the pure gold can come forth? Was he not referring to the refining process? When we undergo various trials, our character can be refined.

But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner‘s fire and like fullers’ soap. Malachi 3:2 RSV

Both fire and soap can purify. That is what the Lord can do for a person, and sometimes He does it through trials.

Someone may object that some translations refer to gold as being “perishable” in I Peter 3:7, and again in verse 18, where Peter clearly speaks of gold being perishable.

1 Peter 1:18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers.

However,Peter used a different word from that which he used in verse 7. The word is better translated as “corruptible”. The Greek word is the adjective “phthartos” which is derived from the verb “phtheirō”. The Online Bible Lexicon gives the following note for the latter word:

So gold can be corrupted in this sense, it can be scratched or dirtied, or altered in other ways. But pure gold cannot be “destroyed” in the usual sense of “destroy”, at least not by fire.

Now I would like to express what I believe to be Paul’s meaning of aeonian destruction of the wicked. They will suffer a very severe refinement in the fires of Gehenna which will destroy their sinful, wicked natures, until the pure “gold” shines forth. Of course, they, themselves will have to repent and submit to Messiah Jesus in order for the refining process to be effective. And quite likely, the fully mature sons of God will have a part in bringing the truth to these people. Sometimes, the righteous suffer such a refining process in this life. The refining of the wicked in that day will be much, much, more severe. Perhaps less refining will be necessary for those who have never heard the gospel in this life (some of them have never heard of Jesus). Whatever the case, God will do what is best for every individual.


Thank you Bob and Paidon. It’s great to get clarification on some of these points. I’d also be grateful if either of you have anything to contribute here:

God bless you both


Thanks Pilgrim. And Paidion, I appreciate your observation on 1 Peter 1. On a thread about analogy and touching on questions of post-mortem dealings, Aaron pointed out to me that most Biblical references to fire don’t appear corrective, just punitive or total destruction. But 1 Peter does sound like Mal. 3:2, and it seems clear that fire can sometimes signify the historic idea of a painful but purifying ‘destruction.’