The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Gehenna?


#61

No one is slandering you. :smiley:


#62

BA. Please accept my apology for being rough on you. The moment you made it personal, is the moment I make it personal, I don’t like to go down that road but until now, I do not believe you were listening to anything anyone said and often than not abide only by your own understanding. The “Do unto others as you would like them do unto you.” rule. Now that I see there is an effort to actually understand, I am satisfied that I do not need to continue in this mode. Whether you know it or not, it was with a purpose.


#63

All things considered, I should probably put off catching up on the preterist / future wrath / trib discussions in order to keep closer track (and contribute more) to what BA is doing on the forum recently. But this thread was going to be among my catchups for that other set of topics, and BA shows up to talk here, too. So this might at least be a good way to transition over to his topics for a while. :slight_smile:

That being said, I’ll start by addressing some other comments in this thread first. And the best place to start might be with a question asked of me many months ago, back on Jul 20 of last year. (Aaaahhh!! Sorry for ridiculously long delay…)

I don’t think so. The narrative context later in the last chapter (and also in chp 21, the next-to-last chapter), indicates that they’re people who insistently refuse to stop making abominations, fondling their falsehoods, etc. In other words, those who persistently refuse to stop their sinning.

(It happens by total coincidence – or by God’s Providence :slight_smile: – that at this very moment, while I’m writing this reply, my iTunes program is playing a special remix of Pet Shop Boys’ “Red Letter Day” where a friend of a friend of mine has added readings from RevJohn concerning the coming judgment of God and Christ to many of the techno-trance parts. I have an unspeakably huge fondness for this piece of music, for private personal reasons; and the a priori odds that I would be listening to it right now are astronomically low. “I’m always waiting, waiting… I’m always waiting, waiting… All I want, is what you want… What does it matter… All I want; what does it matter?.. I’m always waiting: for a red letter day – today.” :cry: :neutral_face: :slight_smile: )

My comment, as quoted above in NW’s question, followed a statement in my original post which I’ll requote here for ease of reference:

This was in reply to NW’s comment, “I just don’t see how destroying the body and soul in Gehenna can be taken as punishment after death.” As GosLuke shows, much of the comparative point to the threat is that God has authority to throw both body and soul into Gehenna after death; and the context indicates (as should be obvious to anyone) that some kind of serious threat is being threatened.

I would be far more worried if Jesus was threatening that the Father (and He Himself, the Son!–by context elsewhere) had authority to throw our bodies and souls into Gehenna after death but that this wasn’t even being done in punishment! What, is it being done on an arbitrary capricious whim?!–is it because Their authority rests in some other entity Who or Which requires Them to do so!?

Punishment can be loving, with a promise of real hope in the goal, while still being punishment–and while still being a real threat. The stick is real, but “Spare the rod and spoil the child” is practically the whole point to the 12th chapter of the Hebrews Epistle. (Not to say whole portions of the OT!)

Relatedly, if God has no plans at all to punish in Gehenna after killing, then this saying from Jesus amounts to nothing. For this reason alone, but also among many others, I must say it is futile to expect all the prophecies of God’s forthcoming wrath to have been expended against Christ (which I would deny anyway for other reasons, too), or against Jerusalem in 70 CE, or even in any tribulation (if any) leading to the commencement of the Day of the Lord to come. Unless we are willing to write off RevJohn (and there are some orthodox Christian groups who do, on the basis of it having a sketchier provenance trace than other NT texts), there will be a resurrection of the evil as well as of the good (and maybe even a war waged on earth against the saints, by at least some of the resurrected evil ones!), and those evil ones who are resurrected and whose names are not found in the scroll of life will be cast into the lake of fire (whatever ‘the lake of fire’ may be understood to mean–but it clearly is some kind of punishment). Nor will they be allowed to enter the salvation of the New Jerusalem unless (as it literally reads in the Greek at Rev 21:27) they are written into the Little Lamb’s scroll of life. For which (as in Rev 22) they must still repent of their sins, as they are led and exhorted by the Holy Spirit (and the Bride-Church of Christ in cooperation with the Spirit) to do so.

But, even though all shall be salted with the eonian fire of Gehenna (to the goal that we shall have salt in ourselves and so be at peace with one another, Mark 9:49-50 – which is another tolerably clear indication that this consuming fire must be itself our God the Holy Spirit), nevertheless the scriptures constantly testify to a distinction of those resurrected in the general resurrection, and of what will happen to them. Jesus by report in GosJohn (5:28-29) puts it as plainly as possible: “for an hour is coming in which all who are entombed shall hear His voice, and shall come forth: the doers of good into a resurrection of life, and evildoers into a resurrection of judging.” (literally ‘of a crisis’)

Consequently, then, any eschatology must reckon in this distinction, including when we consider the meaning of prophecies of Gehenna.

So then–not even yet considering other things that could be said on the topic (which I will try to keep focused here :wink:, though I hope to address those other things in relevant threads elsewhere):

I certainly agree, and I agree that one purpose will be (as Ran put it, paraphrasing scripture elsewhere) “the burning away of dross” meaning “that which causes us to sin in the first place (the residuals of Adam?)”. But inherited original sin effect does not account causally for all our sin. That which can be cured will be cured, especially in the resurrection; of this I have not the slightest doubt. But where is the affirmation of that which remains?–the willing persistence to fondle falsehood and to make abomination? Where is the resurrection into crisis distinct from the resurrection into life, in this?

But the scriptural testimony does see it as applicable to the resurrection of the dead. And the context in GosMark, while (as RanRan correctly notes) universal in its hopeful application and goal to and for everyone, is delivered at the tail end of a series of warnings. Aaron is correct (if he is thinking of the Markan context here, though I somewhat doubt it based on his referential comments) that this statement is delivered to Jesus’ own disciples and even to His own apostles; but it is delivered in context at the tail end of warning to those disciples and apostles. It is of course true, as Aaron said, that all who have chosen to follow Christ “will be refined by trying circumstances” – so will all who have not chosen to follow Christ! And that’s the context of the warning in GosMark: unless (or more literally until) you, even you apostles, repent and become like this little child instead, you shall absolutely not be entering into the kingdom of God.

And in any case, Christ one way or the other could not contextually be referring in Mark 9 (as Aaron puts it) “specifically to the first-century national judgment upon Israel of which ‘Gehenna fire’ is employed as a figure.” For one thing, anyone who actually reads Jer 19 (reffed by Aaron) will quickly discover that there is no actual reference to fire in Topheth or Ben-Hinnom! :wink: Jesus, on the contrary, is quoting the final verses of Isaiah, where it is not Jerusalem per se who is being punished in the fire that is not quenched and the worm that does not die! On the contrary, the Lord’s judgment by fire (66:16) is leveled against those who go up against Jerusalem (also the case in RevJohn, by the way), who are described in terms typical of pagan non-Judaism (those who eat swine’s flesh, for example).

I don’t mean that rebel Jerusalem doesn’t end up in the punishment of Gehenna, too; only that Jesus’ focus is much wider than that in GosMark 9. He is not talking “specifically” there about the fall of Jerusalem in 70CE. He is warning His prideful disciples and apostles, who had been arguing with one another about who was chiefest among them, that they had better shape up or they would suffer the same fate as the rebel Gentiles – something that they, in their religious pride (at being ‘of the elect’ as we would say), simply were not expecting. The whole point to reffing Isaiah 66 was for the revelatory shock value that it didn’t (on the face of it) apply “to Jerusalem”. Any attempt at trying to interpret it so that it counts as a prophecy specially exclusive to one historical tragedy involving Jerusalem, consequently, is contextually inappropriate.

(Not incidentally, this widescale cosmic level of punishment for both rebel Gentiles and rebel Jews, is also the point of at least two other prior references in Isaiah to the fire that will not be quenched (1:31; Jerusalem shares the fate of other rebels, though she shall be redeemed) and the gnawing maggots of death (14:11, part of the taunt of Israel to fallen Babylon). The context is hardly improved more “specifically” to a forthcoming fall of Jerusalem, by considering the other Synoptic parallels to this section; and who would dare to say that the application of the same saying during the Sermon on the Mount, 5:29-30, was supposed to “specifically” refer to the forthcoming fall of Jerusalem?!)

(I will also note in passing, that I think a good argument can be made on exegetical, grammatic and narrative grounds, that Jesus repeated to them the parable of the lost sheep after the Gehenna condemnation warning and before stating “For everyone shall be salted with fire”. But I will wait until some other time to cover that. :slight_smile: )

This simply misses most of the contextual points. (Not that Aaron was answering me; he was answering Ran at the time.) The more contextually accurate analogy, would be: If the chiefs of a tribe were arguing among themselves who would be the most authoritative among them once all enemies of the tribe, which they considered to be everyone not belonging to the tribe, had been burned alive by the King of the tribe; and the king replied that everyone gets burned and burning is good for everyone–would the King mean all people including the unhumble chiefs? Or only the unhumble chiefs? Or maybe only some small selection of enemies to the tribe (who ought to have been the first to join the tribe)?

To me the narrative and exegetical answer is obvious. :wink: The application can only be restrictive if it is insisted on other grounds elsewhere that the application must only be restrictive: i.e., if Gehenna (“since Jeremiah’s day” as Aaron claims) had become emblamatic only of Jerusalem’s forthcoming punishment. (Which, incidentally, was accomplished in Jeremiah’s day already! :wink: So even the appeal to that text, has to allow for some kind of expansion past the immediate contexts, which are, admittedly, clearly about Jerusalem’s punishment in Jer 19.) But as I have shown, Christ wasn’t even quoting Jer 19!–rather, He was quoting a verse where the context was much wider than any particular historical overthrow of Jerusalem.

Melchizedek (the forum poster, not the mysterious priest-king of God in Bethel :mrgreen:) went on to say, in regard to prior discussions:

Well, in Mark 9:48 He does talk about the unquenchable fire. Ditto in GosMatt (though Matt doesn’t report the hopeful finale!) Luke puts the warning about stumbling blocks right after the parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man, which is outright notorious for its fire imagery (even though the word Gehenna isn’t used there, but rather Hades)! So the imagery connected to Gehenna in Mark 9, is in fact consonant with the RevJohn Lake of Fire imagery; including in reference to being a place of conscious torment. But it’s true, Jesus by report does not talk about fire as punishment in connection to Luke 12:4-5 or Matt 10:28.

However, when Mel follows this by saying, “I agree with those who see the Gehenna threat as referring to a temporal national judgment”, he only quotes the Matthean version of “fearing the one who could destroy both body and soul in Gehenna” – without reference to the Lukan version (which I had gone to some trouble to hunt up and talk about before then for reference sake! :wink: ) Once “after death” is factored in, we cannot possibly be talking anymore about only a warning of temporal national judgment. (And Luke, of course, has more to say about specific national judgment warnings than perhaps any other Evangelist!–so it isn’t like this wasn’t something he cared to report warnings about or thought they had to always be interpreted in terms of wider cosmic scope.)

When “Born Again” shows up in the thread, he briefly references some of the issues I’ve been talking about above, one of those being Isaiah 66:24 (which, though he doesn’t specifically say so, he correctly connects to the Markan and Matthean Gehenna warnings about the unquenchable fire and the worm/maggot that dies not.)

Craig (“Student of the Word”) replies with what seems to be a claim that the imagery at the end of Isaiah is supposed to be “the judgment of God which occurred in 70AD”. He does not bother to connect Isaiah 66 with that judgment, though, but rather appeals to prophecies of an upcoming war against Jerusalem given by Jesus (Luke 19:43-45); Mark 9:43 (which to say the least is far from being exegetical evidence in itself that Isaiah 66 is about the upcoming fall of Jerusalem in 70CE, or AD70 :mrgreen: – it certainly doesn’t narratively refer to such a thing, the meaning has to be totally read into that reference); Jeremiah 19:5-7 (which was a prophecy against Jerusalem already long ago fulfilled, if we’re going to be picky about a prophecy being fulfilled without further fulfillment later :laughing: – and which doesn’t feature burning in Gehenna, even where Craig quoted it); and Romans 11:13-24 (which, speaking in past tense, couldn’t possibly be a prophecy about an upcoming overthrow of Jerusalem anyway, and which features no reference to Gehenna or even Gehenna imagery at all – though it’s still a highly important soteriological and even eschatological verse for other reasons, not least because it is an application of the agricultural metaphor for punishent {kolasis} as used in the judgment of the sheep and the goats.)

BA, not entirely unreasonably, answers that Isaiah 66 “is teaching the new heavens and the new earth manifests after the millennium reign of Christ and people who view the corpses are in hell during the time of the New heavens and the New Earth which is eternal Glory with God.” (He doesn’t mean that the people who view the corpses are in hell, I expect; though actually, that would be part of the connotation of the verses! See my analysis of Dr. Bacch’s attempt at trying to get annihilation in regard to that verse, which I linked to back near the end of my first comment on this thread.)

Rather than discussing the context of Isaiah 66, Craig replied “You cannot pick and choose what you are reading, if you believe that, then you need to continue reading the Scriptures.” (I can hardly disagree, but, well, I’d have to say BA has the contextual edge there!–at least insofar as denying it can be about the AD70 destruction of Jerusalem. :laughing: So who exactly was picking and choosing what to read from Isaiah 66?!)

On the other hand, Craig does have a point about the dead coming to life after the millennial reign. But then, as Rev 20:5 (which he is quoting) goes on to say, some of those dead are then judged and thrown into the lake of fire. I am reasonably sure that the general resurrection didn’t happen before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70CE, nor that the only people thrown in the literal Gehenna at that time were those who had been resurrected to judgment (or even only non-Christians, necessarily–we don’t know that all fled before the seige, only that they were warned to abandon Jerusalem and not to trust that God would save it.)

I will note in passing, though not incidentally, that Craig can hardly reply to me as he replied to BA: “There is nothing you can come up with or say, which will contradict the evidence in Scripture concerning the fact there will be none dead,” which I agree, “and those in Gehenna will be raised back to life,” I would have said Hades, but actually agree that Gehenna appears to be going on for at least some people in Hades already and that those people shall also be raised, “and all will be saved” which as it happens I also agree. :slight_smile:

BA actually offers a good question in return, which I hope is being addressed elsewhere (and which I hope myself to address elsewhere in another topical thread–but which, for sake of relative brevity :mrgreen: and topical focus, I won’t address here any further than I’ve already done): “Where does it say in the word of God that the people who are in the lake of fire will be saved?” I don’t know why BA didn’t reference Rev 22 as well as Rev 19-21, but actually I do read that in context. (Along with the tail end of Rev 21, that chapter does say that people who elsewhere are categorized as being in the lake of fire will be saved! Rev 19 has some very important things to say about that, too: in fact, it applies the promise of the Shepherd’s Psalm to the rebel kings of the earth! But, that is a topic for another thread; though I can’t help but wish someone had thought to tell BA this when he asked for chapter and verse, considering that he himself referenced those chapters if not particular verses.)

Debbie points out (as I mentioned in my synopsis of references to Gehenna in the NT), that Jesus condemns the oppositional Pharisees to Gehenna; then afterward says that they shall not see Him again until they sing in loyalty to Him the “Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord” (from Psalm 118:26.)

It might be replied, with some reason, that Jesus has actually widened the scope of address back at Matt 23:37 to all Jerusalem. But this has to include the rebel Pharisees being condemned to the judgment of Gehenna back in v.33, as the details are parallel: Jerusalem who kills the prophets and stones the one who are sent to her. That’s obviously the rebel Pharisees (and Sadduccees and other chief priests etc.), too, as the intervening verses (34-36) amply demonstrate.

BA’s reply to Debbie is, “I do not believe that all the Pharisees went to hell. I believe some of them came to a saving knowledge of Jesus before and certainly after the cross.” That’s true enough–some may have come to repentance even between Jesus’ damnation of them to the judgment of Gehenna and Jesus’ crucifixion! (Though only Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus seem to be mentioned as such; and they might not have been who Jesus had in mind at Matt 23:33.)

But BA’s reply misses the point more than a little. Debbie was pointing out, chapter and verse, that when those chapters and verses are put together, Jesus is talking (even though in wrath) about hope of salvation for people who do in fact suffer the judgment of Gehenna: those who do go to hell.

BA would have been better off trying a parry by noting the rhetorical question form of verse 33, and suggesting that verse 39 is how they shall escape the sentencing of Gehenna. The only problem with this, is that verse 39 is a reference to the final coming of the Messiah; and these priests and religious-political leaders (not all Pharisee party members were priests or other religious authorities) will all have long died by then.

While the other topics in this thread are far from unimportant, they aren’t specifically about Gehenna per se. Although, for what it’s worth, when I quoted Mark 9:49-50, I think I did quote (chapter and verse) where it says that sinners can and shall be saved through the unquenchable fire of Gehenna (which I’m pretty sure BA would consider to be post-mortem and hell. I know I do! :smiley: )

So, while I want very much to address the many other topics raised after the Gehenna discussion on this thread, I’ll withhold until I find them raised (as I know many are) in other threads.

I will, though, finish out with some observations and qualifications (one of which isn’t about Gehenna debates per se, but which has become an issue on this thread since my last post):

1.) Even the belief that the Gehenna prophecies were fulfilled only and already at Jerusalem in AD70 (and I only have a problem with the ‘only’ part, not with the ‘already’ part :slight_smile: ), does not necessarily preclude the notion that there is more wrath of God on the way as as a judgment of Gehenna (using Hinnom as a metaphor). Sometimes I get the impression that at least some of the preterists here understand this, and even accept that more punishment is on the way – they only mean that tribulation (at all, or at least as punishment from God) is not on the way leading into the Day of the Lord to come, that prophecy (of coming worldly tribulation) having been fulfilled at Jerusalem. That’s a rather broader topic than a discussion about Gehenna per se, though obviously they’re connected; so I would rather discuss that elsewhere (and I think there are opportunities to do so). With this paragraph, I’m only trying to qualify in favor of some of the preterist universalists here that they may not be trying to deny that there is some forthcoming punishment from God still on the way.

2.) That having been said: if the judgment of Gehenna can still be said to be on the way, or to have been already fulfilled (e.g., for some of the rebel priests who had to have died before 70) distinct from the literal destruction of Jerusalem; then so falls away any chance of trying to simply restrict all (if not any) prophecies of Gehenna punishment to the fall of Jerusalem. But then, since (per Luke 12), God could do that punishment after death, there can be no point in saying that God’s wrath is satisfied against a person with the death of that person (as I recall either Craig or Aaron claiming in this thread–though not strictly in regard to the topic of Gehenna per se.) If God resurrects the impenitent wicked and throws them into the lake of fire in the day of the Lord to come, then that would be the judgment of Gehenna, too – and might easily be part of Gehenna prophecies beforehand (including using Jerusalem in some ways as a foreshadowing.)

3.) I haven’t commented on the paper linked to by Sven yet, because I had a lot on my plate just catching up on a year’s worth of conversation on this thread! :laughing: It’s possible I’ve addressed some points there in passing, though, but I have no idea if I did or not. I hope to get around to it later (but given the density of my schedule, that doesn’t seem likely.) I mean no disrespect to it or to Sven in my avoidance of it; and I’m glad he provided the link for discussion.

4.) Actually, if BA hasn’t addressed universalists per se as though we (as universalists and because of being such) need to be born again (and thus saved by God), then yeah it would be slander (or in print, libel) to claim that he did and to keep claiming it without evidence when corrected. :slight_smile: At the point when I had written my last big comment, he hadn’t done so yet. And you didn’t present links showing where he had done so when accusing him of it, Craig. So… {shrug}

I appreciate your apology to him, as far as it goes; but I’m having a hard time seeing that you are repentant for accusing him of something like that. If anything, you look like you’re trying to say you intentionally libelled him in order to annoy him back, for which you aren’t repentant at all. Yet what you accused him of, was supposed to be part of your ground for defending yourself in the first place for how you’ve been treating him!

If BA really did say that we universalists are not followers of Christ for being universalists, before Jan 14, then it ought to be possible to show it. If you lied about that, just to hack him off, then I don’t appreciate you having done so; and especially not as part of a defense to me (one of the admins) about why you have been treating him disrespectfully. On the other hand, if you only made an accidental mistake about that, you could still stand to admit to him (and me; but more importantly to him) that you made a mistake about that.

Otherwise, I’m the one who will have to tell BA that I’m sorry that you’re not sorry for treating him falsely. :wink: And for allowing you the leeway to mistreat him like that.

(If you think I’m being easy on BA: I may have some things to say to him later elsewhere. I can think of at least one thing that I am having to restrain myself about right this moment, so that I can be as fair as possible in addressing it and not fly off the handle. But that’s between him and me and someone else, and I’ll get around to dealing with it elsewhere.)


Michael Murray vs. three versions of universalism
#64

Actually, Gehenna is what it is, it has existed since it’s judgment in Jeremiah and it was a garbage dump since a King of Israel destroyed the Valley. Without understanding Gehenna, people continue to make assumptions of what it is, everything referring to the valley of fire (the lake of fire) is speaking of Gehenna. The problem is understanding , the Judgment of Gehenna which exists today, and the literal Valley of Gehenna which does not exist today, but that is fine. L Ray Smith had a hard time figuring this detail out in his Lake of Fire series.

P.S. Yes, Born Again did made subtle reference that if we believe in any other doctrine or denomination other than what he believes, that we are not Christian and the reason we do not accept his version of Christianity was because we were not Born Again.

Everything was a play using the same logic as where he says we cannot prove that universalism is true based on the technicality that Scripture (somehow) does not outright say it; Born Again was saying we were not Christian even though technically he never came outright and said it; The same reason why nobody slandered him, because if he was reading our posts, he would have recognized I corrected him it is liabled.


#65

If “salted” carries the idea of being benefitted in some way by trying circumstances (“fire”) then yes, I do think all will ultimately be benefitted by the trying circumstances of this life - and I have no problem understanding Mark 9:49 as a general (even universal) principle that Christ is affirming. But I see absolutely no evidence at all to understand “Gehenna” as referring to a post-mortem (or post-resurrection) purgatorial experience that is inclusive of, and applicable to, all people of every generation. If the expression “all will be salted with fire” is simply a general principle (which appears to me to be the case), then the judgment of “Gehenna fire” is likely just one example of a trying situation by which people (in this case, the Jews of that generation, both believers and unbelievers) were “salted.” It is this judgment (and all the trying circumstances that led up to it) that most concerned Jesus’ disciples during that generation. In the immediate context, this judgment is spoken of as being concurrent with the time when people would be entering the kingdom of God - i.e., when the age of the Messianic reign began. This blessing of inheriting the kingdom of God is also called “life,” which of course is short for what is elsewhere called eternal life, or the “life of the age.” And to what “age” does the “life” pertain or belong? Answer: the age that was to begin whenever the age in which Christ and his disciples were living, ended (Matt 24:3). It was this then-future age that was referred to as “the age to come,” and was associated with “the life of the age” (Mark 10:30; Luke 18:30; Heb 6:6; etc.). And what age was “to come” at this time? Answer: the age of the Messianic reign, which was to commence with Christ’s coming in his kingdom before that generation passed away (Matt 24-25) - i.e., when the kingdom “came with power” within the lifetime of “some” (tis, one or more) of those who heard Christ prophesy of it (Mark 9:1; Matt 16:28)

Now, the first time Christ speaks of Gehenna is in Matt 5:22. It is significant that neither Christ nor the Gospel writer give any explanation of the word, which (being an OT word with meaning already attached to it) strongly suggests that those familiar with the Hebrew Scriptures would be able to figure out what Christ is talking about without doing much (or any) speculating or extra-biblical research. The verse reads, “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the Gehenna of fire.”

So let’s see…those who are angry with his brother would be liable to judgment [probably a reference to the council of twenty three magistrates], while whoever insults his brother would be liable to the council *. So far, so good; these are both examples of some form of temporal judgment with which Jesus’ disciples would have been familiar. But according to the popular universalist understanding of “Gehenna” (which I admit is not as crazy as the traditional, orthodox view!), those who say “Raca!” are liable not to an even more severe temporal punishment (which would make sense in the context), but to some indefinitely long, post-mortem purgatorial process that all people may experience in some way or another after death and/or the resurrection. But there is simply no Scriptural evidence that this is what Jesus was talking about when he referred to Gehenna. I mean, even setting aside Jer 19 as Scriptural evidence for how Christ employed the word, it seems pretty evident from passages like Matthew 23:32-36 that Christ was referring to a national judgment that was soon to fall upon the generation in which he lived:

"Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to Gehenna? Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of innocent Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.

And what does Jesus immediately go on to speak about to the end of this chapter (and on into the next)? Answer: the national judgment that God was about to bring upon Israel.

But there’s no Biblical precedent for ascribing to “Gehenna” anything other than either its literal meaning (Josh 15:8, 18:16; 2 Kings 23:10; 2 Chron 28:3, 33:6; Neh 11:30; Jer 7:31, 32, 19:2, 6, 32:35) or the figurative, emblematic meaning that is attached to it in Jer 19 by divine authority. The objection that there is no reference to “fire” in Jer 19 is forceless, since there is very strong precedent for understanding “fire” as a metaphor for God’s wrath manifested in temporal judgments upon people or nations (Deut 29:23-24; 32:22; 2 Sam 22:9, 13; Job 18:15; Psalm 11:6; 21:9; 29:7; 50:3; 68:2; 78:21; 79:5; 83:13-15; 89:46; 97:3; Isaiah 9:19; 10:17; 30:27-33; 34:9-10; 42:24-25; 47:14; 66:15-16, 24; Jer 4:4; 17:4, 27; 21:10-12; 48:45; Lam 2:3-4; 4:11; Ezekiel 5:1-4; 21:31; 22:17-22, 31; 38:22; Amos 1:4, 7, 10, 12, 14; 2:2, 5; 5:6; Obadiah 1:18; Nahum 1:6; Zeph 3:8; Zech 13:9; Mal 3:2) - which ties in perfectly with what I think Jesus meant when he made reference to “Gehenna.” But since many don’t think that Jesus is referring to a temporal judgment upon unfaithful Israel by his use of “Gehenna” (for which, again, there is precedence in the OT) I would like to know what source informs one’s understanding that Jesus is referring to something else (e.g., some purgatorial process in a future state of existence)? Where does one get this information from? The Jewish Targums? All I know is that it’s definitely not from any inspired source.

And yes, Jesus is quoting the final verses of Isaiah, but that’s even more evidence that a temporal judgment is in view (as opposed to some post-mortem, indefinitely long purification process that somehow cleanses people from sin and reconciles all remaining rebels to God). As you’re well aware, those being consumed by fire and devoured by maggots are not “disembodied spirits” or resurrected immortals, for Isaiah writes: “And they shall go out and look on the dead bodies of the men who have rebelled against me. For their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.”

Moreover, the “unquenchable fire” of which we read in Isaiah 66 and Mark 9 is simply typical OT language used to describe temporal judgments upon nations (especially Israel!!):

Its streams shall be turned into pitch, and its dust into brimstone; its land shall become burning pitch. It shall not be quenched night or day; its smoke shall ascend forever. From generation to generation it shall lie waste; no one shall pass through it forever and ever. Isaiah 34:9-10

"But if you will not heed Me to hallow the Sabbath day, such as not carrying a burden when entering the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day, then I will kindle a fire in its gates, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched." Jeremiah 17:27

“For I have set me face against this city * for harm and not for good, declares the LORD: it shall be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire.* And to the house of the king of Judah say, ‘Hear the word of the LORD, O house of David! Thus says the LORD: ‘Execute justice in the morning, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed, lest my wrath go forth like fire, and burn with none to quench it, because of your evil deeds.’” Jeremiah 21:10-12 (cf. v. 14)

"Behold, I will kindle a fire in you, and it shall devour every green tree and every dry tree in you; the blazing flame shall not be quenched, and all faces from the south to the north shall be scorched by it. All flesh shall see that I, the LORD, have kindled it; it shall not be quenched." Ezekiel 20:47-48

“Seek the LORD and live, lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph, and it devour, with none to quench it for Bethel, O you who turn justice to wormwood and cast down righteousness to the earth!” Amos 5:6-7

And in Isaiah 33:14 we read: "The sinners in Zion are afraid; trembling has seized the godless: ‘Who among us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who among us can dwell with everlasting (olam) burnings?’" Here, it is the sinners and godless in Zion who are said to be exposed to the fearsome judgment of “consuming fire” and “everlasting burnings.” And earlier, the prophet had said that God’s “fire is in Zion,” and his “furnace is in Jerusalem” (31:9).

But who constitutes the “Jerusalem” whose enemies God is represented as judging in the last chapter of Isaiah? It is surely not inclusive of Israelites like those against whom Jeremiah prophesied in Jer 19, who brought down judgment upon themselves because of their pagan abominations against God (Jer 19:4-5). No, the “Jerusalem” in view here is constituted solely by the believing Jewish remnant who, along with all believing Gentiles, were included as citizens of the “New Jerusalem” of Rev 21-22 when the age of the Messianic reign began in 70 - i.e., it constitutes those whom Paul calls the “Israel of God” (Gal 6:16). And Jerusalem’s “pagan enemies” against whom God “fought” and avenged his people - who were they? Shockingly, they turned out to be of their own brethren - i.e., the unbelieving Jewish majority of whom Paul speaks in Rom 9-11. This “Jerusalem” - i.e., the one that God didn’t “fight for” but actually fought against - is described in Zech 14:

“Behold, a day is coming for the LORD, when the spoil taken from you will be divided in your midst. For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle and the city shall be taken and the houses plundered and the women raped. Half of the city shall go out into exile, but the rest of the people shall not be cut off from the city.” Zech 14:1-2 (cf. Luke 21:20-24).

Again, I don’t think that is the case at all. Neither Christ’s words in Mark 9:49 nor his reference to “Gehenna” and “unquenchable fire” need be seen as evidence that his focus is “much wider” than the overthrow of the nation of Israel in 70. Nowhere in the OT does “Gehenna” have anything at all to do with any nation other than Israel. And the so-called “rebel Gentiles” (as you say) of Isa 66:24 actually turned out to be rebel Jews whose abominations against God surpassed even those of the most depraved Gentiles that the world had ever seen. Which is one of the great ironic (and tragic) twists of the story of redemptive history: those who prided themselves on being “the people of God” were ultimately severed from their own “olive tree” and “cast out” as his people (Rom 9-11), while those who had formerly been considered “not-my-people” (the heathen) became the new people of God (Hos 2:23) by embracing Jesus as the Messiah. And while this dramatic “turn of the tables” was certainly prophesied in the OT, Isaiah (especially toward the end of his prophetic work) is largely concerned with the believing remnant within national Israel who were to inherit the Messianic kingdom (i.e., when the kingdom “came with power” within the lifetimes of some of Christ’s contemporaries - Mark 9:1; Matt 16:28). It is this Jewish remnant which I believe constituted the “Jerusalem” of Isaiah 65:18ff (and elsewhere, like Isa 24:2), and which God defended and vindicated by casting apostate (dare I say pagan?) Jerusalem into “Gehenna fire.” Paul certainly realized that there had been a line drawn (so to speak) by God between unbelieving Israel and believing Israel; one group was identified with the then-present “Jerusalem” while the other was identified with the “Jerusalem above” (Gal 4:21-31), which (figuratively speaking) descended to earth when the former Jerusalem was destroyed. Those who had come to constitute the “Jerusalem above” were thus vindicated by God, while all who clung to the former Jerusalem ended up suffering severe judgment: “And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: 'Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved, for the Lord will carry out his sentence upon the earth fully and without delay” (Rom 9:27-28).

I’m not seeing any “widescale cosmic level of punishment” in Mark 9 or in the two verses you referenced, and I don’t think appealing to the two verses from Isaiah you referenced helps buttress your position. Isaiah 1:31 is referring to a judgment upon Israel; the “both” refers to “the strong” and “his work” of the “faithful city” which had become a “whore” (v. 21) - i.e., Jerusalem. But even if God were talking about both rebel Jews and Gentiles being judged in this passage (or elsewhere), it would not make it a “widescale cosmic level of punishment,” or even a simultaneously occurring temporal judgment - it would simply mean that, just as one nation is judged, so shall another, irrespective of what nation it is. Moreover, just because similar language is applied to the downfall of Babylon doesn’t mean it must (or even can) refer to Gentiles being judged in Mark 9. Again, Gehenna, being a specifically Jewish word for a specifically Jewish location, most likely refers to a specifically Jewish judgment when employed by Christ in a figurative sense (as it does in Jer 19).

You ask, “and who would dare to say that the application of the same saying during the Sermon on the Mount, 5:29-30, was supposed to “specifically” refer to the forthcoming fall of Jerusalem?!” Answer: I would! Yes, Jesus is proclaiming a system of “kingdom ethics” applicable to both Jew and Gentile in all successive ages of redemptive history, but who, specifically, is Jesus addressing here? First century Jews! It is completely natural and appropriate that Jesus would add emphasis to his teaching during this discourse by referring to a judgment that concerned the very men to whom he spoke! If Jesus had wanted to speak of a future judgment upon the nation of Israel that was then approaching (a horrific judgment which would affect the lives of most of the people to whom he spoke during his “Sermon on the Mount”), what better word could he have possibly used?

On the other hand, I can’t even come up with a single Scriptural phrase - let alone a single word - that Christ could have used to refer to what many think “Gehenna” means. Since the OT is completely silent on the idea of post-mortem punishment (be it remedial or otherwise) - let alone a universal judgment/punishment in another state of existence - it would have required a completely new revelation from Christ (and most certainly would have required more than a single, unexplained word to express and sanction the radical idea that it was meant to convey).*


#66

Actually, ‘salted’ carries the idea of being made acceptable - if the salting of a grain offering in Lev 2 is the indicator. And as Christ referred to us as grain - there is no reason to think that indicator can be anywhere else. A salting that has lost it’s saltiness by being obsolete and finally done away with by the destruction of the temple, by the way. The old has passed away.

So it’s no longer a salting by the hands of men but by God making us acceptable - His fire is His ‘salt’. So I think there’s something more Holy (it is His fire) going on then mere ‘trying circumstances’ which may be decreed but are often accomplished by the hands of man.


#67

Well, I’m not so sure it can be viewed as either/or…I mean wouldn’t you say that God works through - or even more, ordains - the circumstances of life that, in the end, will ultimately prove to have been for our benefit?

I should also add that I’m inclined to see “salt” as symbolizing that which gives long-lasting benefit to people, based on how the image is used in Matthew 5:13-14 (“You are the salt of the earth…You are the light of the world…”) as well as what Jesus says in Mark 9:50 (“Salt is good…have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another”). And that’s not to say that Jesus didn’t have in mind the salted sacrifices of which Lev 2 speaks; I would just understand it in the following sense: just as salt was indispensable to rendering offerings acceptable to God, so the “fiery trials” through which divine providence takes us in this life are indispensable to our fully enjoying the immortal existence for which we are all destined (assuming, of course, the expression “everyone will be salted with fire” is a universal principle that is applicable for every person of every generation).


#68

It’s true that everything works for our good - but I doubt if that’s the fire Christ is talking about - I don’t think anyone can withstand it on this side of the resurrection. Even a good man who thinks he is perfectly holy and ready to step into heaven as is - will have that pride burned away - an egotist in a resurrected body - now there’s a nightmare. Everyone will be salted with fire.


#69

Your comments ring true to me here, Aaron. Jesus learned obedience through the things which he suffered. He was being salted to render his ultimate offering acceptable.

I think you’re making a strong case for the lack of post-mortem punishments; the thing that continues to trip me up with it is the “resurrection of judgment” terminology. What are your thoughts on this?


#70

Hi Mel, my view of the “resurrection of judgment/life” can be found here:

I see this event as being parallel to what is prophesied in Dan 12:2 (with Jesus and Gabriel both employing slightly different imagery to speak of the same thing): Daniel 12:2


#71

Previously I suggested that the statement, “For everyone will be salted with fire” (Mark 9:49, ESV) may be a general principle that Jesus is affirming, and that “Gehenna fire” is but one example of how this principle played out for the Jews of that first-century generation. But for the sake of argument, let’s say this understanding of the verse is not tenable, and that the “fire” of v. 49 can only refer back to the “unquenchable fire” of vv. 43 and 48. If this were the case, then pas (“everyone”) cannot be understood in an all-inclusive, universal sense. In the context, two different ends are in view. Christ is contrasting the blessing of entering “the kingdom of God” with the punishment of being “thrown into Gehenna.” Those who made the necessary sacrifices would enter into “life,” while those who didn’t faced certain judgment (“unquenchable fire”). The unavoidable implication is that those who made the necessary sacrifices for entering into life/the kingdom of God would, by their actions, thereby avoid the “unquenchable fire” of Gehenna completely. Consequently, if the “fire” of v. 49 refers back to the “unquenchable fire” of vv. 43 and 48, then the “everyone” who would be “salted with fire” can only refer to everyone who was to be “thrown into Gehenna.” Of course, if being “salted” with this “fire” is a good thing (which I think is the case), then Jesus would be teaching that even those who would have to undergo this severe judgment would ultimately be benefitted by it in the long-run. But the point of Jesus’ words prior to this verse is that being thrown into Gehenna (and being “salted” with its “fire”) was something that could be escaped. So again, if the “fire” of v. 49 is the same “fire” of the previous verses, then pas in v. 49 simply cannot be understood to mean “all mankind” or “all people without exception.”


#72

I think that’s a mistake when ‘salting’ or ‘being salted’ is always referenced as a good thing - purifying and making acceptable. I wanna be salted! “You’re the salt of the earth!”

“If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.” Ps 139

So if even in the depths, His Fire is ‘salting’ men - how can that possibly be a bad thing for them or anyone?

‘Everyone will be salted with fire.’ That is either the worst mixed metaphor in history or a great universal truth.

So in all this cutting off our hands or plucking out our eyeballs to make ourselves acceptable, have we forgotten how this all works? We know it’s from the top down, not from the bottom up. Did those he was addressing understand that? I doubt it, and they certainly hadn’t a clue as to just how top down salvation was going to be - How have WE been found acceptable?? By something we did? So might He be teaching that the things men need to do, but men can’t do without His help and without His fire?

So He leaves them and US with this cryptic 'salting with fire" - a good thing by this seemingly bad thing. He’s talking about the perfecting of the resurrected.

If the joke is in the metaphor, which I think it is, it’s being played on, as usual, the self-righteous, who believe everyone, but them, deserves hell. We’ll see how that works out for them - or is it US? Are we missing the forest for the trees? Or the metaphor for the ‘lesson’ in this case?

The enhanced version: “If you say you are without sin, you’re a friggin’ liar!” Do you understand what THAT is saying and what Christ is saying by way of metaphor? Only a fool would say that anyone is worthy and ready for the resurrection. Expect some salting. ‘Religion’ is another word for pride and self-deception. Examine your heart.

Everything I claim you to be, I find I am. Can you understand that?


#73

I think that’s a mistake when ‘salting’ or ‘being salted’ is always referenced as a good thing - purifying and making acceptable. I wanna be salted! “You’re the salt of the earth!”

“If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.” Ps 139

So if even in the depths, His Fire is ‘salting’ men - how can that possibly be a bad thing for them or anyone?

‘Everyone will be salted with fire.’ That is either the worst mixed metaphor in history or a great universal truth.

So in all this cutting off our hands or plucking out our eyeballs to make ourselves acceptable, have we forgotten how this all works? We know it’s from the top down, not from the bottom up. Did those he was addressing understand that? I doubt it, and they certainly hadn’t a clue as to just how top down salvation was going to be - How have WE been found acceptable?? By something we did? So might He be teaching that the things men need to do, but men can’t do without His help and without His fire?

So He leaves them and US with this cryptic 'salting with fire" - a good thing by this seemingly bad thing. He’s talking about the perfecting of the resurrected.

If the joke is in the metaphor, which I think it is, it’s being played on, as usual, the self-righteous, who believe everyone, but them, deserves hell. We’ll see how that works out for them - or is it US? Are we missing the forest for the trees? Or the metaphor for the ‘lesson’ in this case?

The enhanced version: “If you say you are without sin, you’re a friggin’ liar!” Do you understand what THAT is saying and what Christ is saying by way of metaphor? Only a fool would say that anyone is worthy and ready for the resurrection. Expect some salting. ‘Religion’ is another word for pride and self-deception. Examine your heart.

Everything I claim you to be, I find I am. Can you understand that?

I can understand that you will hope for, wish for the weakest arguments against you - but where are they?


#74

So in other words, if the “fire” of which Jesus speaks in v. 49 is a “good thing” (and I’m not saying it isn’t; I think it is) it must therefore refer to a universal experience? That is, is it your position that being “salted with fire” could not be a “good thing” unless it was a universal experience (i.e., what happens at the resurrection) as opposed to, say, a local judgment? Because the more I study the passage, the more the context (and even the grammar) seems to indicate that the “fire” with which people would be “salted” refers back to the “unquenchable fire” of “Gehenna” in the previous verses - which would mean that being “salted with fire” is not an all-inclusive experience (since being “thrown into Gehenna” was not an inevitable fate for those to whom Christ was speaking).


#75

Everyone,

In the opening post for this thread, Mike wrote:

I would love to know this as well! Gehenna certainly wasn’t symbolic for “hell” in the OT, so when did it come to symbolize endless punishment in a future state of existence? :question:


#76

An ‘unquenchable fire’ does not speak to me of an unending ‘salting’. ‘Salt is good’, he tells us that.

“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire…” 1 Pet

His fire is always spoken of as eternal and unquenchable - but I can’t find evidence anywhere that the ‘salting’ by it is eternal. Can you?

What I do find is that people emerge from it - refined. If Christ meant something other than that refining - I don’t think He would have worded it the way He did: “Everyone will be salted with fire.” It’s very easy to prove that that salting is/will be the universal experience of mankind redeemed from death - which everyone.

So, is it a matter (in all cases) of getting what we deserve or getting what we need?


#77

Just trying to follow you on this: so is it your view that IF the “fire” with which people were to be “salted” in v. 49 is the same fire that is called “unquenchable” in the previous verses, then it would follow that the “salting” would be endless in duration? Because I don’t think it’s necessary to affirm that an “unquenchable fire” means an endlessly burning fire. In the examples I provided earlier, expressions such as “fire that will never be quenched” clearly referred to temporal judgments of finite duration. So my understanding is that, even if the “fire” with which people would be “salted” referred to what is previously called the “unquenchable fire” of Gehenna, it wouldn’t follow that the “salting” would be unending. While the benefit of the salting would be endless, the “salting” itself would not be. But maybe I’m misunderstanding you on this.


Will People be Raised as Immortal Sinners?
#78

That’s pretty much it.

Two things: ‘Salt’ or ‘salting’ is never spoken of as a negative.

Likewise: His fire is eternal and is constructive and refining in purpose and always has been.

Anyway - the sequence of verses under discussion aren’t really about hell - they are about humility. It starts with His disciples arguing about who is the greatest among them and perhaps passing that pride to others - so He repeats this twice: ‘it is better for you…’ to enter heaven as…less.’

The images used by Christ go to the heart of pride - which suitable for the garbage dump until it’s gone. ‘All your pomp has been brought down to the grave, along with the noise of your harps; maggots are spread out beneath you and worms cover you.’

It takes a particularly prideful, self-righteous person to deceive themselves into thinking that others need to be salted with fire, but not them. Sounds like religion, doesn’t it?

‘The eyes of the arrogant man will be humbled and the pride of men brought low; the LORD alone will be exalted in that day.’ Is 2

So was Christ teaching here about the destiny of men or the destiny of pride? It’s a nightmare to the prideful, that’s for sure. But the salting has a purpose - to humble us all.

Did Christ really say that everyone will be salted with fire? Yes. What a stumbling block for the self-righteous, the proud and the superior! Let us all try and understand the nightmare for what it is. It’s a test. Forgive as you have been forgiven. If one can’t do that, send ‘them’ to the fire …and expect to join them.


#79

So in all this, Aaron, it’s important to keep in mind that He is talking to His disciples and He is scolding them in all of it. It’s strange how people can understand the hyperbole of cutting off limbs to enter heaven but can’t see the same use of hyperbole being used to describe the place (or time) of humbling - Gehenna.

But, likewise, in all this, they would have understood that ‘salting’ as being good and necessary. Christ could have used the image of a smoldering slag heap or dross heap to convey much the same idea of salting being refining and corrective, rather than destructive. But the immediate confrontation of the pride of His disciples called for worms and garbage as the hyperbole of choice, not leaving an occasion for pride to say, “I’ll be made even greater!”

I find that “Everyone will be salted with fire” to be very much a part of the Good News for mankind - and integral in the preparation of/for the new creation.

So Jason asks:

As far as ‘salting’ goes, there is no distinction. The judgment (not the salting) is about rewards and is always based on works - ‘he who is not against us is for us’ - the crisis comes from hindering the advance of His Kingdom and that well may be reserved, mainly, for the religious. But whatever may be the case, none of us are saved by the fire but by Christ’s work of redeeming mankind from death.


#80

and

Ran, while I love the emphasis you put on humility and God’s sovereignty, I’m not sure I can agree with your exposition of Mark 9:42-50. Jesus really does seem to have two different ends in view in this passage (i.e., entering life/the kingdom of God or being “thrown into Gehenna,” where “the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched”). We both agree that Christ is using hyperbole when he speaks of people cutting off body parts to enter life/the kingdom, but this colorful language still stands for something drastic that those to whom he spoke would have to do in order to avoid the fate of “Gehenna.” And while I do believe that every member of the human race will, at the resurrection, be “purged” of all sin and self-righteousness (for all people are going to be subjected to Christ!), I don’t think that’s being taught here, and I fail to see how “Gehenna” is being used to denote this universal experience.

For one thing, there is nothing said about the resurrection or any kind of post-mortem experience anywhere in this passage, or in the surrounding context. I think the main reason you’re reading the resurrection into this passage is because Jesus talks of “the worm that does not die,” which (from what you’ve said before) you apparently understand to be a reference to death and the grave. But the image of “unquenchable fire” and undying worms refers more accurately and specifically to the Valley of Hinnom/Gehenna, which became Jerusalem’s garbage dump during the reign of King Josiah (2Kings 23:10), and shortly after (during the prophetic ministry of Jeremiah) became associated with, and emblematic of, the fearful judgment that God threatened to bring upon the nation of Israel for her sins (Jer 7:31-32; 19) - which Christ was clearly hearkening back to when he employed the word during his own ministry!

Moreover, the image of “fire” is never (as far as I can tell) associated with the resurrection of the dead. But it is frequently associated with temporal judgment/punishment of people and nations. And the more I consider this passage, the more convinced I am that the word pas (“everyone” or “all”) here seems to refer only to *everyone who would be “thrown into Gehenna” * - which again, was one of two possible ends of which Christ spoke (like when he spoke of the “narrow gate” and “hard way” that leads to “life,” and the “broad gate” and “easy way” that leads to “destruction”). And as I’m sure you’re aware, pas need not refer to every person who has ever been born or ever will be born (see, for example, Matt 8:16; 10:22; 15:37; 17:11; 22:28; 27:22; Mark 2:12; 3:10; 6:42; 14:23, 50; etc.). Though I have no doubt that it sometimes refers to the entire human race, it doesn’t always (or even mostly) have such a universal scope. Its meaning can only be determined by the context. And the context of Mark 9 is not the universal resurrection (for that, see Mark 12:18-27).