The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Doesn't the lack of Universalism before Origen bother you?

The OP’s premise is flawed not only by overlooking the universalism in the Gospels, Paul, Peter, and the Book of Revelation, but also by its failure to take into account the implicit universalism in the next 2 apocalypses after Revelation–the Apocalypse of Peter 14 (125 AD) and Sibylline Oracles II:333ff. (c; 150 AD).

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The Apocalypse of Peter - and other early writings - is discussed in this post & thread:

“Understanding the role of the “Harrowing of Hell” has been expanded by recent archeological findings and modern Biblical scholarship. Among the discoveries over the past 100 years is the Apocalypse of Peter, written about 135 C.E. (not to be confused with the Gnostic Apocalypse of Peter discovered at Nag Hammadi in 1947). For a time, it was considered for inclusion into the New Testament instead of the Revelation to John. It is referred to in the Muratorian Canon of the early Church, as well as in the writings of St. Clement of Alexandria. (It should be noted that the Universalist passage from the Apocalypse of Peter is found in the Ethiopian text but is not part of the fragment text found at Akhmim, Egypt.) In the Ethiopic copy, Peter asks Jesus to have pity on the people in Hell, and Jesus says they will eventually all be saved. Later, Peter (who is writing to Clement) says to keep that knowledge a secret so that foolish men may not see it. This same theme is repeated in the Second Book of the Sibyline Oracles in which the saved behold the sinners in Hell and ask that mercy be shown them. Here, the sinners are saved by the prayers of the righteous.”

“Another 2nd Century work, The Epistle to the Apostles, also states that our prayers for the dead can affect their forgiveness by God. The 2nd Century Odes of Solomon, which was discovered in the early 20th Century, was for a time considered to be Jewish, then Gnostic, and more recently, early Christian. Its theme is that Jesus saves the dead when they come to him in Hell and cry out, “Son of God, have pity on us!” In the 4th/6th Century Syriac Book of the Cave of Treasures, Jesus “preached the resurrection to those who were lying in the dust” and “pardoned those who had sinned against the Law.” In the Gospel of Nicodemus (a.k.a. Acts of Pilate), a 4th /5th Century apocryphal gospel, Jesus saves everyone in the Greek version but rescues only the righteous pre-Christians in the Latin translation. In What is Gnosticism?, Karen King identifies the Nag Hammadi Gospel of Truth as teaching Universal Salvation; she states that The Apocryphon of John (a.k.a. The Secret Book of John) declares all will be saved except apostates. In the Coptic Book of the Resurrection, all but Satan and his ministers are pardoned.”

Well… the apostle Peter was certainly before Origen!

I consider the following to be the best text in the Bible concerning the correction of the unrighteous after they are judged!

The Lord knows how to deliver the devout out of trial but to reserve the unrighteous for a day of judgment, to be corrected. (2 Peter 2:9)

Here is an interlinear for your consideration:

οιδεν—κυριος— ευσεβεις εκ πειρασμου ρυεσθαι— αδικους

knows the Lord- devout—out of trial—— to deliver-unrighteous

δε -εις —ημεραν κρισεως—— κολαζομενους τηρειν

but into a day—- of judgment to be corrected to keep (2 Peter 2:9)

The whole strength of this argument lies in the translation of the lexical form of κολαζομενους, that is, “κολαζω” as “to correct”. I realize that some may object to this translation, but the Online Bible Greek Lexicon gives the primary meanings of “κολαζω”as:

  1. to lop or prune, to chastise, correct, punish

Abbott-Smith’s A Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament gives the meanings:

  1. to curtail, dock, prune to check, restrain to chastise, correct, punish

Originally, the word was used to reference to the pruning of trees, shrubs, or vines with a view to correcting their growth by shaping them. Later it was used figuratively with reference to the correction of people, e.g. Children. To translate the word as “punish” is correct as long as it is understood to be reformative rather than retributive. In English, “punish” may have either connotation, although it is more often taken in the latter sense, or in the sense of administering a penalty.

In Greek, the word “τιμωρεω” has the meaning “to punish” in the penal sense and the retributive sense. Indeed, every lexicon I have checked gives the primary meaning as “to adminster a penalty” or “to avenge”. Strongs indicates that the word was derived from the two words “τιμη” (honour) and “οὐρος”(guard). Put them together, and you have the concept of a person guarding his honour through penalty or vengeance. In recording Paul’s own words concerning his treatment of disciples of Christ prior to Paul’s becoming a disciple himself, Luke wrote:

Acts 22:5 "as also the high priest bears me witness, and all the council of the elders, from whom I also received letters to the brethren, and went to Damascus to bring in chains even those who were there to Jerusalem to be punished (τιμωρεω) .

Acts 26:11 "and I punished (τιμωρεω) them often in every synagogue and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities.

One of the best ways to get a sense of how a Greek word is used is to note how it is used in literature. The word is used in 4 Macabees 2:12 to indicate correction of children. No good parent punishes his children out of vengeance, but corrects them out of love.

4 Macabees is thought to have been written sometime between 100 B.C. to 100 A.D., that is, in the period in which the New Testament was written. It seems the author had been strongly moved by his reading of the deeds of Antiochus Ephiphanes against the Jews in 1 and 2 Macabees. So much of his “philosophical” thought and “devout reason” centers around the history he read there. In the following sentence he uses both “τιμωρεω” and “ κολαζω“ in a single sentence!

The tyrant Antiochus was both punished (τιμωρεω) on earth and is being corrected (κολαζω) after his death. (4 Maccabees 18:5)

The Judaistic belief at the time was that people’s souls survive death. So the sentence seems to say that while Antochus’s enemies got their revenge on him and his armies here on earth, God began to correct his soul after death. The author apparently held that post-mortem punishment was remedial. Otherwise he would not have chosen the word “κολαζω” but would have maintained the word “τιμωρεω” for his punishment after death, too.

Here is an example from the Septuagint translation of Ezekiel 43:10-11:

And you, son of man, show to the household of Israel, the house, and show its appearance and its arrangement,that they may cease from their sins. And they shall receive their κολασις concerning all their doings, and you shall describe the house, and its entrances and its foundation, and all its systems, and you shall make known to them all it regulations and describe them in their presence, and they shall guard all my righteous ordinances and all my commands and do them. (Ezekiel 43:10-11)

In this passage, God states His purpose in asking Ezekiel to show the house to Israel, namely that they may cease from their sins. He immediately follows this with “And they shall receive their κολασις concerning all their doings.” If God wants them to cease from their sins, and then gives them κολασις, is He penalizing them or punishing them retributively, or is He correcting them? The answer seems plain. Furthermore the conclusion of the matter is that the Israelites “will guard all my righteous ordinances and all my commands and do them.”

Surely this is reformation, and not mere penalty or revenge for their wrongdoing in the past.

Here is the Concordant translation of the verse in question:

The Lord is acquainted with the rescue of the devout out of trial, yet is keeping the unjust for chastening in the day of judging.

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Since “punishment” has two different connotations in modern English, the meaning of the word is broaden enough to cover all possible interpretations of a Biblical passage.

  1. (a) revenge (b) penalty
  2. (a) correction (b) amelioration

Clement of Rome (d. 99 AD)

1 Clem 7:4 Let us fix our eyes on the blood of Christ and understand how precious it is unto His Father, because being shed for our salvation it won for the whole world the grace of repentance.

1 Clem 19:2b and let us look steadfastly unto the Father and Maker of the whole world, and cleave unto His splendid and excellent gifts of peace and benefits.

1 Clem 19:3 Let us behold Him in our mind, and let us look with the eyes of our soul unto His long-suffering will. Let us note how free from anger He is towards all His creatures.

1 Clem 27:2 He that commanded not to lie, much more shall He Himself not lie: for nothing is impossible with God save to lie.

1 Clem 29:3 And in another place He saith, Behold, the Lord taketh for Himself a nation out of the midst of the nations, as a man taketh the first fruits of his threshing floor; and the holy of holies shall come forth from that nation.

1 Clem 36:4 but of His Son the Master said thus, Thou art My Son, I this day have begotten thee. Ask of Me, and I will give Thee the Gentiles for Thine inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Thy possession.

1 Clem 52:1 The Master, brethren, hath need of nothing at all. He desireth not anything of any man, save to confess unto Him.

1 Clem 53:4 And Moses said; Nay, not so, Lord Forgive this people their sin, or blot me also out of the book of the living.

1 Clem 53:5 O mighty love! O unsurpassable perfection! The servant is bold with his Master; he asketh forgiveness for the multitude, or he demandeth that himself also be blotted out with them.

1 Clem 54:1 Who therefore is noble among you? Who is compassionate? Who is fulfilled with love?

1 Clem 56:1 Therefore let us also make intercession for them that are in any transgression, that forbearance and humility may be given them, to the end that they may yield not unto us, but unto the will of God. For so shall the compassionate remembrance of them with God and the saints be fruitful unto them, and perfect.

1 Clem 59:4 We beseech Thee, Lord and Master, to be our help and succor. Save those among us who are in tribulation; have mercy on the lowly; lift up the fallen; show Thyself unto the needy; heal the ungodly; convert the wanderers of Thy people; feed the hungry; release our prisoners; raise up the weak; comfort the fainthearted. Let all the Gentiles know that Thou art the God alone, and Jesus Christ is Thy Son, and we are Thy people and the sheep of Thy pasture.

Bardaisan of Edessa (154–222 AD)

“But whenever God likes, everything can be, with no obstacle at all. In fact, there is nothing that can impede that great and holy will. For, even those who are convinced to resist God, do not resist by their force, but they are in evil and error, and this can be only for a short time, because God is kind and gentle, and allows all natures to remain in the state in which they are, and to govern themselves by their own will, but at the same time they are conditioned by the things that are done and the plans that have been conceived [sc. by God] in order to help them. For this order and this government that have been given [sc. by God], and the association of one with another, damps the natures’ force, so that they cannot be either completely harmful or completely harmed, as they were harmful and harmed before the creation of the world. And there will come a time when even this capacity for harm that remains in them will be brought to an end by the instruction that will obtain in a different arrangement of things: and, once that new world will be constituted, all evil movements will cease, all rebellions will come to an end, and the fools will be persuaded, and the lacks will be filled, and there will be safety and peace, as a gift of the Lord of all natures.” (Laws of Countries, 608–611 Nau)

No one said they are. Though i did remark earlier in this thread:

Allin opines “…not a line can be quoted from him in favour of the traditional creed. This, though important, is negative evidence only, but there is a passage in Rufinus (Apol. c. Hier., book 1, prop. fin.) from which we may, i think, infer, that Clement, with other Fathers, was a believer in the larger hope” ( “Christ Triumphant…” by Thomas Allin, Annotated Edition, 2015, ed. Robin Parry, p.108).

Ideas move. either by conviction or by force. There wasnt much e.t. (from what i know) before augustine using violence to enforce it as orthodoxy. Im personally not much for the traditions of men. I look into scripture, inspired by the spirit and approved by God to stand the test of time (minus a few terrible translations).

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