Followup to Sahid's question


I’d like to post a followup to this idea that several of you have put forth on Sahid’s thread Freedom?, that God will potentially strive with people forever.

At the time of the flood, people were living hundreds of years, some 900+ years.

Genesis 6:3
Then the LORD said, “My Spirit **shall not **strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.”

Post flood, God shortens their days from 900+ years to 120, BECAUSE He is no longer willing to strive with them that long. If God says He is no longer willing to strive for more than 120 years with people (and shortens their days to prove it), why do you think He is willing to strive “forever” with them?

It doesn’t seem to be a rhetorical construct or a poetic response as God actually did something physical, He limits how long people live.


I notice there’s a “nevertheless” in there. So the context as presented would be something like, “Even though my Spirit will not strive with man forever” (and leaving aside the next qualifier, though that might be important, too) “I will reduce his lifespan.”

This doesn’t look like it synchs up. If God was declaring that He was tired (or the divine equivalent thereof) of striving with men and so reducing human lifespan in accordance with His frustration, there wouldn’t be a “nevertheless” by contrast. This makes me suspect mistranslation or misinterpretation.

The JPS Tanakh (which isn’t always reliable as a translation, admittedly), does not include a contrasting conjunction like “nevertheless”; and renders the word “to strive with” as “abide” (though the editors admit the Hebrew term is uncertain there.)

I’m okay with either “strive with” or “abide in”, because the traditional understanding of this verse is that God is serving notice that He isn’t going to put up with the evil in the world forever and will cut off the lifespan of mankind (and the Nephilim and whatever divine beings are wandering around embodied at the time causing problems) 120 years later with the Flood. Which is probably why a contrasting conjunction like “nevertheless” is typically included in translations.

1 Peter’s revelation that Christ descended into hades to preach the gospel to the spirits in bondage there since the flood (which is terminology typically reserved, including in the Petrine and related Jude epistles, for rebel spirits) indicates that God is in fact striving with the spirits in that condition, toward repentance. And again, unless there is supposed to be another everlasting fire aside from God Who is the consuming fire (i.e. the Holy Spirit)–which would be ontological dualism at best–then the fire-imagery of hades and Gehenna indicates again that God continues to strive with sinners one way or another. I believe that the scriptures (as well as metaphysical reasoning consonant from trinitarian theism) point to that striving being toward repentance. “For all with be salted with fire” as Jesus promises (Mk 9:49-50) in regard to the fire of Gehenna; and it’s pretty clear from His subsequent comments that the salting is a good thing (even the best of things, as the Greek puts it), that leads to peace among men with one another.



This clearly involves a figure of speech. God shortening human length of life from 900 + years to 120 years isn’t close to God shortening human length of life from forever to 120 years. Anyway, as Jason already pointed out, 1 Peter teaches that Christ preached the gospel to the imprisoned people who perished in the flood.


Thanks for the tip about the Tanakh. Makes it more clear: … esis6.html

Bereshit - Genesis
Chapter 6:3 And HaShem said: ‘My spirit shall not abide in man for ever, for that he also is flesh; therefore shall his days be a hundred and twenty years.’ (marked down from 900+)

Real clear here, no “figure of speech”. Statement of a problem, then the solution:

I’m tired **therefore **I’ll sleep.
I’m hungry **therefore **I’ll eat.
‘My spirit shall not (abide in/strive with/rule in) man for ever, for that he also is flesh; **therefore **shall his days be a hundred and twenty years.’

Pre-ascension, Jesus descending to hades to preach to those who died before Him was a one time event. Certainly not a continual evangelism of the dead.


I did some research on Genesis 6:3, and I see more than one view about it. And I retract my previous statement. I’ll begin by clarifying that any given translation on this verse makes no impact on any doctrine as far as I can see. Regardless, I’ll clarify my interpretation.

Here are various translations

The two most common interpretations of the 120 years follows: 1) The Lord reduced the length of human life to 120 years; 2) The Lord gave a 120 year warning about the flood.

I don’t know enough to make a decision on this based on the ancient Hebrew. But other verses in the Bible lead me to believe that 6:3 is a warning about the flood.

First, Genesis 11 lists post-diluvian ages greater than 120 years.
Second, Psalm 90:10 says the length of our days is seventy or eighty years.
Third, 1 Peter 20 says that people disobeyed while God waited patiently in the days of Noah.
Fourth, 2 Peter 2:5 says that Noah was a preacher of righteousness.

I’m still not positive if Genesis 6:3 describes a 120-year warning for the flood, but it’s my best guess. And various Bible scholars read the same facts and conclude differently.

That still doesn’t answer if diyn ( in 6:3 means “strive” or “abide”. And I’m not sure about the meaning of diyn while I don’t see the controversy of the translation having any impact on any doctrine.

ThatDarnCat, you bring up a good point about the descent into hell per 1 Peter. That was a specific one-time event. We see this gives an example of people in hell who are offered redemption despite the fact that these people disobeyed righteous preaching in earthly life. I see this as a powerful precedent of God’s patience and love.

You might find it interesting that Augustine noted in Letter 164 that some Christians in his time believed that postmortem offers of salvation from hell ended after the resurrection, which was a minority view. I suppose that interpretation implies that wicked people who disobeyed the preaching of Noah had a postmortem offer of salvation while the billions of people who died lost after the resurrection have no chance of salvation from a fate of unconditional everlasting torment. I see the Bible teaching otherwise.


Thanks for the dialogue. The translations I saw had “abide in/rule in/strive with” and due to the context, they all fit with what God actually did, shorten the number of years He has to tolerate the wicked.

“Genesis 11 lists post-diluvian ages greater than 120 years.”

Actually, we seeing a gradual winding down from 900+ years towards 120 years in Genesis 11.
Geneaology from Noah to Nahor, ages given:
Noah 950
Shem 600
Arphaxad 438
Salah 433
Eber 473
Peleg 239
Reu 239
Serug 230
Nahor 168

“Psalm 90:10 says the length of our days is seventy or eighty years.” The time of David, long after the flood.

None of this turns the meaning of Genesis 6:3 to be the **opposite **of what is stated: “My Spirit will not SOMETHING with men forever, therefore his days shall be 120 years.”

The solution involves shortening the number of **years **people would live. Hence the problem involves that as well. Now if 900+ years is too long for God to SOMETHING with men, then any amount of time more than 900+ years is also too long for God to SOMETHING with men. Abide in/rule in/strive with, doesn’t matter, it’s clear from the context.
People do not have forever to dither about God’s offer of salvation, eventually the doors of the ark were closed.


Well, it makes it more clear that “nevertheless” cannot be the proper translation. :mrgreen: I see we’re now treating the interpolated conjunction as a “therefore” instead, which admittedly makes better sense and could be easily argued to be implied in the logic of the two statements.

The “therefore”, though, as James points out, doesn’t exclude the Flood being what is being warned about. The gradual declension of ages afterward through numerous generations subsequent to Noah, doesn’t fit a hardline here in any case. Whereas the Flood represents a pretty hard line. (Though admittedly it’s a little fuzzy as to whether it arrives 120 years after this warning, insofar as strict story data goes. At least 100 years later, though.) As you say, eventually the doors of the ark close.

Yet the Flood is not a hopeless hard line for the spirits who died in it. Even a “one time event” (which I would dispute on technical theology grounds) breaches the ‘no further hope afterward’ interpretation: God does in fact strive with the souls of those sinners whether after a life restriction of 120 years or after the Flood’s cataclysmic results.

But then I wouldn’t consider the descent of Jesus to only be a one time event. God’s omnipresence includes hell; Jesus is the action of God Incarnate; the fire of Gehenna and hades is the Holy Spirit, and is intended for leading to repentance and reconciliation in other verses. YHWH, in at least the 2nd and 3rd Persons (and where one Person is in operation, all three are in operation), descends continually to preach to the souls in prison; and we’re exhorted in RevJohn 22 to cooperate with God in that encouragement to repent and be healed.


The **bolded **part, where does one find that in scripture?


It could of course be inferred from the presence and purpose of the “everlasting fire” in Gehenna and hades. (Unless there is supposed to be another everlasting fire besides the Holy Spirit, our God the consuming fire, Who brings the Father and the Son to the spirits of men; in which case we have more fundamental theological issues to be discussing, since the existence of another everlasting fire aside from YHWH would be cosmological dualism at best.) The fire of Gehenna salts everyone toward being at peace with one another, and is the best of things. (GosMark 9:49-50; where Jesus explains the hope underlying the previous references to the Isaianic fire-judgment prophecies.)

But (as I noted previously) the end of RevJohn illustrates the Son and the Spirit continually reaching out to those who love and practice their sinning after the lake-of-fire judgment and the establishment of the New Jerusalem. Not only does the Spirit exhort them directly to drink freely of the river of life (which flows from the throne of God out the never-closed-gates of the city) and wash their robes so that they may obtain permission to enter the city and eat of the tree of life (the leaves of which are for the healing of the nations), but the river of life (and the tree, too, if I recall correctly) is a scriptural image for YHWH sending Himself for the rescue of His people and of sinners. (An image expressly adopted by Christ and applied to Himself, reported no less than twice in GosJohn.) Moreover, the church (the bride of Christ) is also exhorted to keep on encouraging the sinners who have not yet repented to repent.

The same concept is also taught in the parable of the 100th sheep: the good Shepherd doesn’t leave the last one outside but persists in finding and bringing it home. The housewife keeps sweeping the floor until she by-God finds that missing coin, too. :smiley:

Yet again, the same concept is taught in the various Pauline epistles where Christ persists in reigning judgment until all things whether in heaven or on earth or under the earth, are reconciled to Him and in Him to the Father. The imagery used for this concept in 1 Cor 15 is typical of wrath imagery, too, where applicable, and fits extremely well with the verse from Rom 11 where all are shut up into stubborness so that God may have mercy to all.

Or yet again, in the original context of the Isaianic verses with which Christ inaugerated His official ministry in the Nazareth synagogue (as reported in GosLuke), the prisoners who are being set free were put in prison and even already sent to death by God for their sins. But (as in the famous Rachel-weeping-in-Ramah prophecy from Jeremiah) God remembers Ephraim (the rebel son whom He had had to punish to the death) and sorely grieves for the return of the rebel son (the imagery is certainly borrowed from the grief of King David at the death of his rebel son Absalom in Ephraim, hung cursed from a tree, bleeding from his skull and stabbed with a spear!), promising the weeping Rachel whose children have died that He shall restore them to her eventually.

Other respondents may have other verses in mind, of course; these are not likely exhaustive. :slight_smile: The RevJohn grand finale is perhaps the most important, though. (It should be noted that the kings of the nations who are bringing in their treasures to the New Jersusalem are always previously described in RevJohn as the most terrible and intransigent rebels, whose bodies Christ scatters to the birds in the final battle at chp 19–but who in the same paragraph shall be continually shepherded by Christ and His rod of iron. The whole scene is an application of the end of the Shepherd’s Psalm, which also features the military verb for a king overrunning an enemy typically with intent to subdue. We do all agree that being run down and overthrown by goodness and mercy is a good thing that we ought to be hoping and praying for as sinners ourselves, right? :smiley: And so we’re back to all of us being salted by the everlasting fire in Gehenna–our God the consuming fire–so that we may have salt in our hearts and be at peace with one another.)