The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Is Matthew 10:28 a problem for UR?

I actually do see Gehenna as symbolic of post-morten punishment. Jesus called the Pharisees “sons of Gehenna”(Mat 23:15) and followed that with
Mat 23:33 Serpents! brood of vipers! how may ye escape from the judgment of the gehenna?(YLT) I do not see any record of Pharisees literally cast into Gehenna, and I think it reasonable to take Jesus metaphorically here.

To me the issue is not so much what is Gehenna, or the lake of fire, so much as what they are for- which is correction/subjection, and how long they last, which is until every knee bows and every tongue confesses. There is one other important thing-

The scriptures have to be integrated or they are worthless. If we have a portion of verses that teach eternal torment, and another portion that teaches the reconciliation and restoration of all things- then why not just believe whatever we want. Where would the authority come from for any particular view? it would come from picking a particular group of verses and ignoring the rest.

I do not need to ignore or marginalize Jesus’ threats of judgement to come in order to be confident about the ultimate salvation of all. I believe in an intense judgement of the wicked, for corrective purposes- the subjection of all things to Christ, “Come, sit at My right hand until I make all your enemies a footstool for your feet”.

For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death. For He has put all things in subjection under His feet. But when He says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him. **When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all.
** 1 Cor 15:25-28

He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. Col 1:18-20

If I am lifted up from the earth I will draw all men unto me (John 12:32)

This is an amazing thread. Well done boys & girl.

Tom Talbott also has some interesting remarks on Matthew 10:28 here:

I have somewhat similar ideas re Matthew 10:28, as follows, in response to an annihilationist:

As to the meaning of the word “destroy”, Websters’ first definition is “ruin” and second definition is to “put out of existence”: merriam-webster.com/dictionary/destroy

For a mortal body to be ruined or destroyed in Gehenna it evidently involves dieing & being changed in its form, such as by being burnt to ashes & or smoke, etc. It still exists & is not annihilated since matter cannot be annihilated, only changed in its form. Not, at least, until God creates a new universe.

What does it mean that God “can” ruin or destroy a soul in Gehenna? Would this be ruin as in cessation of existence or something like a spiritual death as in, for example, dead in sins (Eph.2:1)? Or as in what God did to the king in the book of Daniel in making him act like an animal for 7 years, before returning his soul back to sanity, resulting in him being humbled & worshiping God? Or, as in being delivered to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme (1 Tim.1:20)? BTW, Satan will be there in the LOF with human blasphemers.

Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme (1 Tim.1:20).

If Satan & demons are there in the LOF to possess people, just casting them into the LOF could result in people being psychologically destroyed/ruined in a multitude of ways we cannot even imagine. I’m sure that experienced shrinks have a bit of an idea of what that might involve. Or deliverance ministers/exorcists.

Of course the spiritually dead are already dead in sins. But this does not preclude there being various degrees of spiritual deadness or destruction (i.e. ruin) of their souls. Otherwise why would the scriptures speaks of those who are worthy of few stripes & others who are worthy of many stripes, & similarly. Surely a distinction is to be made between a relatively innocent infant or child, a rebellious teenager & those who have apostasized from the faith, or demons & Satan. It is conceivable that it is always possible for the spiritually dead to experience greater degrees of destruction to their souls should they continue to rebel in the LOF and until they finally repent. Though, ever given the choice to turn to God, it is mathematically impossible that they would continue to reject God for eternity.

A related matter to the understanding of Mt.10:28 is the use of the same Greek words for “soul” and “destroy” a few verses later in the context of the same chapter 10 of Matthew:

Mt.10:39 He who is finding his soul will be destroying it, and he who destroys his soul on My account will be finding it. clv

Mt.10:28 And do not fear those who are killing the body, yet are not able to kill the soul. Yet be fearing Him, rather, Who is able to destroy the soul as well as the body in Gehenna.

By speaking of “destroying” our own “soul” [v.39] did Jesus mean we could annihilate it out of existence? Evidently not. So why should we think He meant annihilation of the soul earlier in the context [v.28] when speaking of the exact same thing, i.e. a soul being destroyed?

A passage in Matthew that has been interpreted as speaking of the possibility of release from “hell” (Gehenna) is:

Matt 5:25-26 . .Come to terms quickly with your adversary before it is too late and you are dragged into court, handed over to an officer, and thrown in jail. I assure you that you won’t be free again until you have paid the last penny.

This is spoken of by Jesus in the context of references to Gehenna, both before and after this passage.

Matthew was probably written to Jews & in the opening chapter of this book he told his readers that Jesus shall save His people from their sins (1:21), i.e. His people Israel (2:6). I take that to include people like Judas Iscariot & wicked Pharisees who died in their sins. But lest anyone think that is a licence to live sinfully, Jesus gives warnings such as those in Mt.10:28.

Wheat is useful to the farmer for food. Chaff is useless, unless it is used for fuel. That occurs by burning it, as in Mt.3:12. Of course burned chaff is not annihilated but changed into something else. This verse does not address the final destiny of people’s souls. It doesn’t even mention the word “soul”, let alone any soul is ever annihilated & God Himself is powerless to resurrect that soul. Neither does it state the wheat & chaff represent different people rather than 2 parts of one person. In fact the previous verse said they would be baptized in the “Holy Spirit and fire” (v.11). Not one or the other. That is salvation. And it was spoken to the Pharisees & Sadduccees whom John called a “generation of vipers” (v.7).

Mark 9:49 For everyone will be salted with fire.

Jesus’ interpretation of this parable is given in Matthew 13:37-43. He states “at the end of the age” the wicked will be put “into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth”. That doesn’t sound like annihilation. Furthermore, there is nothing in this description of “final fate”, but only what will happen “at the end of the age”, with at least two more ages to follow (Eph.2:7). This passage tells us nothing about what happens to those in the fire in the future ages.

We could also mention that oft quoted passage in Matthews’ gospel, Mt.25:46, of which much has been written on this site & of which Tom Talbott has said:

“Isn’t it ironic that the passage most often used to support everlasting punishment is in fact one strongly opposing it when accurately understood?” (Tom Talbott, author of “The Inescapable Love of God”).

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Talbott
thomastalbott.com/index.php

For those who have a problem with Matt 10:28, I would say that the main problem revolves around that little word “destroy.” It is presumed that “destroy” and “destruction” imply either annihilation or confinement to eternal torment. They don’t.

I will comment on I Thess 1:5-10 concerning “aeonion (lasting) destruction” as well as “exclusion from the presence of the Lord” for those who afflict Christ’s disciples. Here the passage:

Let’s first consider the exclusion from the presence of the Lord. The passage tells us the exclusion will take place “when He comes on that day to be glorified in His saints”. I am sure most of us will agree that the Lord Jesus, when He returns will not accept those who have rebelled against Him. The reason is the character of these rebels will not have changed at that time, and so He will “inflict judgment” upon them. It is not necessary to infer from the fact that they will be excluded from His presence “when He comes on that day” that this exclusion will be everlasting.

As to the “aeonian destruction”, I translated the Greek word “aiōnion” as “lasting." It should never be translated as “eternal”, and especially here. “Eternal destruction” appears to be an oxymoron. If something is destroyed, the destructive process has come to an end; it doesn’t continue indefinitely.

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

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

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

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

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

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

So those precious lost souls whom God loves will be judged and sent to a place or state of correction. They have been corrupted by their sin, but God’s fire and soap can purify them so that they will emerge as refined gold. They will never be annihilated. That would defeat God’s redemptive purpose. All of God’s judgments are remedial.

By the way, the Greek word for “lost” in this verse is the 2nd perfect active participle of the verb “απολλυμι” (destroy).
So it could be translated, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the ones who were being destroyed.”

The father of the “prodigal” son gave this instruction after his son’s return:

Again, a form of that same verb “απολλυμι” (destroy) is used here, being translated as “lost.”

So that which is “destroyed” can be redeemed. And that is exactly what God will do when He will “destroy both body and soul in Gehenna.” They will be lost, but after being dealt with by the Father, they will be found.

Some say that “destroy” even here can be thought of as annihilation, but it is not the person who will be annihilated, but the evil which is within him.

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

This is from a discussion on Christian Forums Dot Com:

In the same way Romans 7:11 (which uses the word “kill” for killing a person) doesn’t “add up to annihilation” of the person:

for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. (Rom.7:11).

Sin “killed” him, but he wasn’t annihilated. Thus also God can kill or destroy one without annihilating that one. Why would Love Omnipotent want to annihilate anyone. He wills that all mankind be saved, has ransomed all (1 Tim.2:4-6), & is the Savior of all (1 Tim.4:10). His judgements, anger and wrath are salvific.

To bring a soul to repentance & salvation. To show it what it is like to be separated from God’s will, mercy & love.

In the book of Daniel King Nebuchadnezzar lost his soul when God made him act insanely like an animal for 7 years. God’s destruction/ruining of the kings’ soul meant the loss of his soul for the king.

Likewise the prodigal son “lost” (same Greek word as “destroyed” in Mt.10:28) his soul when he left his father for the world. Later when he “came back to his senses”, he “found” his soul. His Father said his son was “dead” and “lost” (i.e. destroyed). Though he was obviously never annihilated.

How is it that God is “able” to destroy body & soul in Gehenna. Supposedly if angels cast people into it, that in itself could destroy their mortal bodies, due to the fires in Gehenna. But how would literal fire destroy a non corporeal soul? If Satan & demons are there to possess people, just casting them into Gehenna could result in them being spiritually & psychologically destroyed/ruined in a multitude of ways we cannot even imagine, e.g. demon possession. I’m sure that experienced shrinks have a bit of an idea of what that might involve. Or deliverance ministers/exorcists.

Not only is God “able” to destroy [or ruin, lose] both body and soul…Jesus followers are told they must destroy their own souls to “find” them:

Mt.10:39 He who is finding his soul will be destroying it, and he who destroys his soul on My account will be finding it. clv

Mt.10:28 And do not fear those who are killing the body, yet are not able to kill the soul. Yet be fearing Him, rather, Who is able to destroy the soul as well as the body in Gehenna.

Others can kill your body, but not your soul. God can destroy soul and body in Gehenna. v.28

You can destroy your own soul. v.39…that is, ruin it.

By speaking of destroying your own soul, v.39 refers not to endless annihilation of your soul. So, in context, neither does verse 28 when God speaks of destroying a soul.

If you don’t willingly destroy your soul (v.39) in this life, God will/is able to do it for you in the afterlife (v.28). But whether He does it for you or not, you will surely destroy your own soul by “finding” it (v.39) in this life. Since you destroy [but not annihilate] your own soul by finding it, why would God need to destroy it again, even though He is “able”? Though it is conceivable He could destroy it to a greater degree than it was destroyed before. Especially if people in Gehenna continued to rebel and harden themselves…cf Lk.11:26; Mt.12:45…7 times worse can occur. Scripture speaks of evil men shall becoming worse and worse, of the deep things of satan some have known, being possessed with a legion of demons, & few and many stripes (Lk.12:47-48).

What does it mean that God “can” ruin or destroy a soul in Gehenna? Would this be ruin as in cessation of existence or something like a spiritual death as in, for example, dead in sins (Eph.2:1)? Or as in what God did to the king in the book of Daniel in making him act like an animal for 7 years, before returning his soul back to sanity, resulting in him being humbled & worshiping God? Or, as in being delivered to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme (1 Tim.1:20)? BTW, Satan will be there in the LOF with human blasphemers.

Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme (1 Tim.1:20).

Even in this life one can be delivered to Satan for destruction that one may be saved:

1 Cor.5:5 hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.

Of course the spiritually dead are already dead in sins. But this does not preclude there being various degrees of spiritual deadness or destruction (i.e. ruin) of their souls. Similarly the Scriptures speak of those who are worthy of few stripes & others who are worthy of many stripes, & similarly. Surely a distinction is to be made between a relatively innocent infant or child, a rebellious teenager & those who have apostacized from the faith, or demons & Satan. It is conceivable that it is always possible for the spiritually dead to experience greater degrees of destruction to their souls should they continue to rebel in the LOF and until they finally repent. Though, ever given the choice to turn to God, it is mathematically impossible that they would continue to reject God for eternity.

The second death could refer to a second physical death like their first physical death. Or if physical death were the first death, and soul/spiritual death the second death, then the second death/lake of fire could conceivably refer to a state/place where such are residing. Not what happens to them there. They are the “twice dead” (Jude 1:12), There they reside and are tormented literally “into the eons of the eons” (mistranslated by pro endless punishment bible versions as “for ever and ever”).

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My Thoughts on Matt 10:28, from a believer in the Apokatastasis. Jesus talking to his disciples.

killing a [body] dose not make sense.The word for kill here is APOKTENIO which is often rendered DESTROY [ie] feed it to the lions, burn it up or simply perish back to the ground. [ie] you couldn’t kill Adam before the breath of life entered him into him but you could [destroy] his lifeless body. So the word [destroy] is a better rendering than the wording [kill] The word for body is [soma] it is either a corpse / which was a similar state to which Adam was before the breath of life / or a living body after the breath of life had entered him. When Adam had the breath of life imparted to him, he [became]’a living Soul. Note he wasn’t [given] an immortal soul. Man cannot kill the [pusche] rendered soul…pusche means the breath of life, the VITAL FORCE which animates the body and shows itself in breathing, in either human or animal.When one dies your breath of life/spirit leaves you and returns to God Eccl 12:7 and your body is either destroyed at death or perishes back to dust after death. Man cannot kill the [pusche] this remains with God untouched,ready to be reunited with the body at the resserection were man becomes a living soul once again like Lazurs did at his physical resurrection.

It goes on to say…

But to fear the one who has the power to destroy both soul and body [ie] the complete you in being / mind and heart in Gehenna fire. The word here for destroy is APOLLUMI, which is often rendered lose, and lose is how I see it should be rendered here,[ie] to LOSE you both soul and body in Gehenna [ie] the complete you,if not found in the book of life at the end of the second resurrection.

Jhon 17:12… Jesus talking about his disciples.

I find it apt, that Jesus here was referring to his disciples, and the same word APPOLLUMI = to lose, is used when Christ says I have [lost] none that you have given me, except for Judas, who will be lost to Gehenna, for what ever the allotted time span. Judas never heeded Christ’s earlier warnings at Matt 10:28.

The bible never teaches that those persons who appear in the second resurrection are raised immortal, It would only seem that immortality is a gift for those who trust and believe. For those outside of this hope, it may well be that they are punished in their mortal bodies, for me It would make sense that one receives a judgment and its punishment in themselves as they were in their life 2 Corinthians 5:10. I know Rev 9:6 isn’t referring to the resurrection, but it dose show that God can keep people alive in there mortal body’s whilst receiving punishment for however long needed until a confession of Christ as saviour is made. They will be punished / purified through the lake of fire a k a Gehenna and forgiven by Christ and cleansed through the shed blood. Then they will receive immortality of the soul as a [gift] for those who believe. The lake of fire dose not cleanse, it refines/ through corrective punishment, During this punishment a persons attitude towards sin and Christ will be dealt with. Ultimate cleansing will always be through the shed blood of Christ until the ultimate reconciliation of [ALL] things.Judgment starts at the house of God now 1 Pete 4:17: Believers in this age, although hard at times have the kinder judgment.Those in the next will receive a much harsher judgment Matt 21:44. Believers are to die twice [ie] a physical death/ through Adams transgression,unless [translated] and a death to sin Romans 6:11. Those in the next age will have died physically already, but it will be there turn to die to sin and wrong attitudes with far greater/ consequences. This will be their second Death. I believe this process will cause great anguish and regret, but the punishment will be corrective and God through Christ will Bring back [All] who are [apollumi] = lost =Luke 15 parables. I believe the whole point Christ was making to his disciples, was to not fear man who can just kill, because you know you will pass from death to life With immediate blessings at the first resurrection. But rather fear him who can lose you in body and being to an even worse fate than death [ie] Gehenna aka [The lake of fire]. Although a terrifying prospect for those judged to go there,It isn’t some mindless act of God. It will be corrective by nature.As the Rotherham’s emphasised bible correctly translates Matt 25:46. “ and these shall go away into age - abiding correction, but the righteous into age-abiding life.

Hope this helps.

Peace

Thank you Bowsixtysix. :smiley: Some really interesting points to ponder. :wink: