Has "TEU" convinced me of ETC? (Gehenna not only 70CE?)


I’m a little late to the party so I’m just reading TEU. I’ve often said that if someone could convince me that Jesus was talking about judgment after death and not 70AD when discussing Gehenna I would not believe in UR. I think Robin may have done this very thing. I’m a more than a little confused now. Can you folks convince me that I shouldn’t be. Although I’m not finished yet I’ve gotten to the place where he explains that it doesn’t have to be ETC.


Oh, that’s not the expected reaction to TEU, to push you away from UR :astonished:

Hopefully as you read further things will become less confusing :confused:

Sorry I’ve got nothing better to say today, really tired out from work, but I’ll pray for you, that should help.


The question of preterism (did God’s wrath against sinners entirely terminate on the cross and/or with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70?) is pretty hotly debated around here. Ultra-universalists, by definition, have to hold that there is no wrath of God post-mortem (and thus no post-mortem punishment or hell) for whatever reason; and often this involves eschatological preterism. (Although not necessarily: apparent prophecies of post-mortem punishment might be read as applying only to pre-mortem life instead, so that we’re in all the Gehenna now that anyone will ever be in.)

Purgatorial universalists, such as myself, expect there will still be wrath against impenitent sin post-mortem, although we may differ somewhat among ourselves whether the wrath is only the wrath of the sinner rebounding upon the sinner as a curse (all of us would agree with that to some extent) or also the direct wrath and punishment of God (which I’m a proponent of. Not that God is “filled with wrath” though.) Also, typically we have no problem acknowledging that at least some of the judgment prophecies were partially or entirely fulfilled with the fall of Jerusalem and the Temple, and that God chastises (and baptizes) us with the consuming fire of Gehenna before death.

No doubt the discussion will fire up again {rimshot!} :mrgreen: in this thread. As you can see, it’s an important topic.


I’ll be sitting on the beach today re-reading the section on Gehenna. Maybe this afternoon I’ll have more to say. The fact that Jesus was the only one who spoke of Gehenna and the idea that it happened in 70AD was a turning point towards UR for me. I’ll have some time to meditate on it today.


i don’t see why Gehenna in the sense of AD70 and post-mortem correction would be mutually exclusive
or is it just that i need to study more?
personally the idea of all that judgement being a specific reference to AD70 is a new one to me. but then again, so is UR :slight_smile:


I’m not real fond of the tactic of ascribing reference to something only being true for explicitly named references thereby. The unquenchable fire in (and of) Gehenna shows up elsewhere in striking and important judgment language without specifically being called Gehenna.

(Also, James’ application of the tongue being set on fire by Gehenna cannot possibly be a prophecy of Jerusalem’s destruction by siege. Admittedly, someone could argue that James and also Jesus are both borrowing that imagery independently for very different if somewhat related purposes. But then, purgatorial universalists argue for multi-purpose usage elsewhere, too.)

On the other hand, those other striking and important occurrences of eschatological judgment by fire are sometimes very hopeful!–and sometimes moreso than has been traditionally recognized. So I am not at all worried about an expansion of Gehenna to those conceptual places; but I would still think it ought to be done even if I didn’t think doing so ultimately weighed in favor of at least post-mortem salvation and even universal salvation.


Me neither, and I’ve studied a lot. :slight_smile:

However, seeing as I am not a proponent of the position, I’m probably not the best person to try to defend it either. :wink: Someone else may show up eventually who can give a more vigorous defense.

(My impression, possibly erroneous, is that the exclusion is typically required in order to fit an application of penal substitution atonement theory, in light of which the references are defended subsequently as to their plausibility for not referring to post-mortem punishment. Since I don’t accept penal sub theory, I don’t feel constrained to interpret the references that way; but I also have trouble seeing how some of the instances refer even primarily, much moreso solely, to 70CE on their own merit. Then there’s the conceptual problem for why wrath in 70CE would be needed at all if it was pretermitted in Christ back in the late 20s/early 30s.)

I may retitle the thread so that proponents of the position can recognize the topic better and show up to weigh in. :slight_smile:


thanks for the validation, Jason!
i’m learning alot from this forum, and it’s good to see both sides of certain issues!

hope the OP gets a few of their questions answered by finishing the book!
i’ve had a number of “fond” doctrines turned on their head by this universalist lark! and i was pretty happy to have that happen.



For me, finding out that Gehenna was a theological metaphor of the Pharisees of post-mortem punishment of sin similar to the Catholic concept of purgatory is what freed me to accept UR. It was actually the “tipping-point”. I found the UR “all” passages to be very compelling, but could not embrace them in faith fully until I saw that Jesus’ warnings concerning Gehenna could in fact be understood to be purgatorial in nature.

Rabbi Shammai, the lead Pharisee and President of the Sanhedrin throughout the life of Christ, until he died in 30 A.D., taught that almost everyone went to Gehenna, except the most righteous of the righteous. And everyone except the most wicked of the wicked rose to Ga Eden, Paradise, Abraham’s bosom after being purified in Gehenna, facing the fire of truth concerning their lives.

There was argument among the Pharisees as to whether the most wicked eventually rose to Ga Eden, suffered indefinitely longer than the assumed limit of 12 months, or were annihilated after 12 months of suffering. Jesus’ statement that one should fear God and not man because, well, God can destroy, annihilate ones soul and body in Gehenna seems to indicate that annihilation is the worst possible outcome that God would consider, though it doesn’t actually affirm that such will happen to anyone. It’s kinda like a father saying, “I brought you into this world, and I can take you out!”

In Mk.9.49 Jesus also seems to affirm that Gehenna is connected with purification, and we shall all face it to a greater or lesser extent.

Also, it is helpful to note that most statements concerning Gehenna are in Matthew, and he wrote to the Jews who would have understood how Gehenna was used by the Pharisees. And usually in Matthew, Jesus/Matthew is using Gehenna as a warning for the Pharisees, turning their doctrines and attitudes against them, hoping to bring them to repentance.

Was Jesus affirming that the specific beliefs of the Pharisees concerning Gehenna were true? I don’t know that’s the case; rather, He was speaking in the laguage of the Pharisees, challenging them to repent, using their own doctrine to hopefully inspire them to think differently, to do some personal reflection, change their attitudes and actions towards others.


Sherman has a good point: it’s worth keeping in mind that Jesus might be (indeed at least sometimes certainly was!) taking established concepts and correcting them.

This might or might not come out in universalism’s favor either way! I have also seen it said that by Jesus’ day most Pharisees taught final perdition (although that might be a gloss on acknowledging a majority opinion that most people went to Gehenna and a few would never get out.)

So Jesus might have been correcting hopeless Gehenna theories prevalent in His day to hopeful ones; or He might have been correcting hopeful ones to hopeless ones! Or He might have been validating them either way, but turning them unexpectedly upon their teachers (who naturally would consider themselves exempt.)

I think we can say for certain, whether we’re Calv, Arm or Kath (and whether ECT, Anni or Kath), that Jesus was warning people who thought they were safely exempt from punishment, especially among the religious elite, that they were in (at least!) serious danger of suffering punishment.

After that agreement, things get stickier. :slight_smile:


I’d say they get stickier! What about the religious elite today? I don’t see us much different from us and the Jews of Jesus’ day. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around all this. I assumed that if Jesus never spoke of hell but only judgment and that he was speaking mainly to the Jews and that the destruction of the temple was God’s judgment against the Jews that Jesus’ Gehenna passages were mainly talking about that. Past that I’m kinda confused. If Jesus was talking mainly about a future judgment toward sinners then why didn’t anyone else speak of it afterwards? Paul, John, etc? and where do we get the link between Gehenna and TLOF? Is there a biblical one or only assumptions? And what for heaven sake did Jesus accomplish on the cross for sinners?


There seems to be an interesting and continuous theme throughout the ministry of Jesus in terms of his use of judgement, for grace or for graceful punishment.

He’s always seeking to set wrong people right, putting people back in their proper place: Lifting up the sinners, the lepers, the adulterers, the thief on the cross, etc; to a state of seeking to be better and cleaner, righteous through Him. And for those who are hypocritical, self righteous, and think they’ve got it made he tends to lower and humiliate, reminding them of their danger, and of their own precarious position, bringing them down a peg or two and trying to then set them on the right track - as in the case of Nicodemus.

In summary; the more proud you are of being holy, the more Jesus reminds you that you aren’t so that you can actually be made holy through Him; the real way. The more sinful and foul you are, the more Jesus reminds you that He is there to lift you up and set you right. In bringing down the high, and bringing up the low; he brings them all together and sets them all in equal holiness; in Him.


Thanks Lefein

In what sense did what Jesus do on the cross alter our futures? …if Penal Substitute was not what was taking place?


This is exactly why I make it a point to read myself into the Pharisee oppositional scenes. :smiley:

But of course, the practice of reading ourselves into the judgment scenes, for penitential self-criticism–which all Christians typically recommend, whether for devotional or for evangelical purposes–directly implies that we stand under threat of the same judgment for our sins if we continue to hold to them. The judgment wasn’t utterly expended against Christ on the cross (if it makes sense to say ‘God’ judged against ‘Christ’ on the cross at all!), much less in 70. The judgment still applies to each of us afterward as sinners, unless we repent.

Well, John and Peter both talk about a coming eschatological judgment. Paul has a few sharp things to say about God’s eschatological judgment, too: I find it hard to believe that God’s enemies have already once and for all (or even partially) been wholly-ruined from the flaming of His presence on His coming Day!

From similarity of effect (salting at the eschatological judgment; consuming fire). The terms ‘Gehenna’ and ‘lake/sea of fire’ happen not to show up in the same verse in equivalent reference to one another, but that by itself is no reason to believe they aren’t equivalent. (Even preterists tend to regard them as being equivalent, in my experience. They pretty much have to, in order not to acknowledge there’s a judging wrath of God still on the way; for example, Gehenna was only prophesying Jerusalem in 70CE but the Lake of Fire is what will happen when Christ returns: that isn’t preterism, even though the Gehenna explanation is preteristic.)


youtube.com/user/GeorgeMacDo … 0ZZQCKdIVI

This might be helpful in regards to that.

For myself, I suspect that the sacrifice of Christ was more about defeating Death (and Sin) than taking the wrap for us, but also I am inclined to think that the cross was the exemplary and paragon manifesting of a truth that has been true since before the foundation of the world;

“By my love, by my life, and by my self, I have reconciled you!”

Perhaps the cross was a way of making us capable of seeing a truth we couldn’t possibly grasp, in the same way that Jesus was the means of making us capable of knowing the God we couldn’t possibly know.


Thanks Guys, this has definitely given me something to ponder.