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The Intermediate state -- Section 1 and 2

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  • The Intermediate state -- Section 1 and 2

    Introduction

    I have wanted to make this post, among others, for a while. However, I wanted it to be pretty in-depth, and I didn’t find the energy to make it until now. The subject is the intermediate state. The question is, does the believer consciously exist after death? If so, does the unbeliever consciously exist after death? If so to one or both, was this the case for all humans before Jesus?

    Throughout the last two years of my studies, one doctrine I have always felt the most strongly about is one that is commonly called “soul sleep.” What I believed (and perhaps still believe) is that upon death both the believer and unbeliever enter an intermediate state of unconsciousness, or more specifically, nonexistence. I define this state, perhaps properly, as Sheol/Hades/grave. This state of unconsciousness is reversed at resurrection. Though from a living perspective the dead are unconscious, theoretically the gap between death and resurrection appears void to one who dies. From the perspective of one who dies, the next conscious experience he has is resurrection; from this comes the metaphor of sleep, a dreamless sleep.

    I have recently decided to explore this belief more objectively. Can it really be strongly substantiated? Substantiated or not, it certainly puts a strong emphasis on resurrection and new creation, two things most who concentrate purely on going to Heaven at death completely forget about. I think it is positive in those respects.

    N.T. Wright goes over this subject in The resurrection of the Son of God and provides evidence that most first century Jews (cf. Wisdom of Solomon) believed in both a conscious intermediate state and a resurrection. He also provides marginal evidence that this is what the authors (namely Paul) of the New Testament believed. But this does not seem, in my opinion, to align with what the canonical Hebrew Scriptures have to say. The beliefs seem to have sprung up with Hellenism.

    This post turned out pretty long, but try to bear with me. The translation used throughout is the ESV unless otherwise stated.

    Immortality of the soul

    I think the view that the soul is immortal needs to be completely stamped out. Even N.T. Wright seems to deny the immortality of the soul, suggesting such beliefs came about as a result of Platoism (cf. “Neither is the Final Destination). The Jewish Encyclopedia comments, “Only through the contact of the Jews with Persian and Greek thought did the idea of a disembodied soul, having its own individuality, take root in Judaism” (“Soul”).

    This view seems to be pretty well substantiated.
    The first mention of the soul (nephesh) appears in the opening chapters of Genesis. There are two steps to the creation of man, namely, the soul.
    [1] the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground

    [2] and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life,

    [=] and the man became a living creature [nephesh] (Gen 2:7).
    Here, the soul seems to be the combination of body and spirit. This pretty much rules out the possibility of the soul surviving death, because death is defined almost precisely as the result of separation of body and spirit elsewhere (Ecc 12:7; Psa 104:29, 146:4). If the soul is the result of the body and spirit being combined, it will naturally cease to exist when the body and spirit are separated.

    On the other hand, nephesh seems to take on other meanings elsewhere. It comes to represent not only man himself, but also the vitality of man.
    “For the life [nephesh] of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls [nephes], for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life [nephes] … For the life [nephesh] of every creature is its blood: its blood is its life [nephesh]. Therefore I have said to the people of Israel, You shall not eat the blood of any creature, for the life [nephes] of every creature is its blood. Whoever eats it shall be cut off” (Lev 17:11, 14).
    “Only be sure that you do not eat the blood, for the blood is the life [nephesh], and you shall not eat the life [nephes] with the flesh” (Deu 12:23).
    The Jewish Encyclopedia explains:
    “The belief that the soul continues its existence after the dissolution of the body is a matter of philosophical or theological speculation rather than of simple faith, and is accordingly nowhere expressly taught in Holy Scripture. As long as the soul was conceived to be merely a breath (“nefesh”; “neshamah”; comp. “anima”), and inseparably connected, if not identified, with the life-blood (Gen. ix. 4, comp. iv. 11; Lev. xvii. 11; see Soul), no real substance could be ascribed to it (Jewish Encyclopedia, “immortality of the soul”).
    Still, the soul seems largely connected with, associated with, and even identified as the physical (conscious) human body (or person), as seen by its affiliation with the blood. It definitely does not seem to be conceived of as immortal. Other Scriptures elucidate this point.
    “Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die. … The soul who sins shall die” (Eze 18:4, 20).
    Here, the soul is thought of as dying along with the body.

    The ruach, on the other hand, when used to describe a component of man (in contrast to its figurative use to describe the heart, mind, or inner-self of man) is certainly not thought of as conscious. N.T. Wright comments on the spirit returning to God, “Death means that the body returns to the dust, and the breath to God who gave it; meaning not that an immortal part of the person goes to live with God, but that the God who breathed life’s breath into human nostrils in the first place will simply withdraw it into his own possession” (RSG, Wright 98–99). The Jewish Enyclopedia agrees, “As soon as the spirit or breath of God (“nishmat” or “ruaḥ ḥayyim”), which was believed to keep body and soul together, both in man and in beast (Gen. ii. 7, vi. 17, vii. 22; Job xxvii. 3), is taken away (Ps. cxlvi. 4) or returns to God (Eccl. xii. 7; Job xxxiv. 14), the soul goes down to Sheol or Hades, there to lead a shadowy existence without life and consciousness (Job xiv. 21; Ps. vi. 6 [A. V. 5], cxv. 17; Isa. xxxviii. 18; Eccl. ix. 5, 10)” (Jewish Encyclopedia, “immortality of the soul”).

    The immortality of man in general is discounted in Genesis.
    “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Gen 2:16–17).

    “[After Adam and Eve sin, God declares] Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken” (Gen 3:22–23).
    Adam is told he will die if he sins. After he sins, he is sent away from the tree of life and denied immortality. This fits in with what Paul says, “the King of kings … alone has immortality” (1Ti 6:15b–16a).

  • #2
    Section 3 and 4

    The Old Testament and Sheol

    It appears most of the authors of the Hebrew Scriptures believed man goes to a place (or state) called sheol at death.
    “All his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted and said, ‘No, I shall go down to Sheol to my son, mourning.’ Thus his father wept for him” (Gen 37:35).
    Sheol is almost synonymous with death and the dust of the Earth (cf. Paul’s translation of hades as thanatos in the critical text of 1Co 15:55 with Hos 13:14 LXX); Psa 30:9); Andrew agrees and comments, “Numerous texts in the Greek Old Testament place ‘Hades,’ which is equivalent to the Hebrew ‘Sheol,’ in synonamous parallelism with ‘death’” (COSM, Perriman 94). In sheol, there is no distinction between the righteous and unrighteous, rich and poor, high class and low class, and man and beast; all go to the same place (1Sa 2:6; Psa 89:48; Ecc 9:2–3). There is no profit in death (Psa 30:9a) for the dead do not praise, remember, or hope for God in sheol (Psa 6:5, 30:9, 88:11, 115:17;Isa 38:18), but are cut off from his presence, though God’s omnipresence ensures his existence even in sheol (Psa 139:8). Rather, the inhabitants of sheol are described as shades (Isa 14:9, 26:14).

    The best description of sheol comes from Solomon.
    “For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten. Their love and their hate and their envy have already perished, and forever they have no more share in all that is done under the sun. … Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going” (Ecc 9:5-6, 10).
    According to Solomon, the dead know nothing. There is no work, thought, knowledge, or wisdom in Sheol. In other words, death yields little more than unconsciousness.

    Despite sheol often translated “hell” in the KJV, it is not thought of as a place of tomrent (though being sent to sheol is sometimes counted as a punishment). Andrew explains concerning hades, the Greek translation of sheol:
    “Hades is not a place of torment. Rather than eat the flesh of an unlawful sacrifice, the righteous scribe Eleazar tells Antiochus’ officials to ‘send him to Hades’ (2 Macc. 6:23), clearly not expecting to suffer punishment there” (COSM, Perriman 94–95).
    Sheol is often described as being deep in the Earth (Num 16:33; Deu 32:22; Isa 7:11, cf. 57:9; Eze 31:14; Psa 86:13). The Jewish Encyclopedia provides an explanation for the origins of sheol based on its descriptions:
    “The question arises whether the Biblical concept is borrowed from the Assyrians or is an independent development from elements common to both and found in many primitive religions. Though most of the passages in which mention is made of Sheol or its synonyms are of exilic or post-exilic times, the latter view, according to which the Biblical concept of Sheol represents an independent evolution, is the more probable. It reverts to primitive animistic conceits. With the body in the grave remains connected the soul (as in dreams): the dead buried in family graves continue to have communion (comp. Jer. xxxi. 15). Sheol is practically a family grave on a large scale. Graves were protected by gates and bolts; therefore Sheol was likewise similarly guarded. The separate compartments are devised for the separate clans, septs, and families, national and blood distinctions continuing in effect after death. That Sheol is described as subterranean is but an application of the custom of hewing out of the rocks passages, leading downward, for burial purposes” (“Sheol”).
    Thus, it appears the concept of sheol originated from traditional Hebrew burial practices. In this way, the soul is thought of dying and entering the grave with the body; and at least from Solomon’s perspective, there is no consciousness beyond the grave.

    The return of death

    After Adam sins, he is told:
    “By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Gen 3:19).
    Here, death is a return to the dust of the Earth. Solomon picks up on this theme also, eleborating the spirit also returns to God (Ecc 12:7). However, there are two verses in particular that take an interesting twist on the theme of the return of death.
    “For I know that, unto death, thou wilt bring me back [shub], even unto the house of meeting for every one living” (Job 30:23, Rotherham).

    “The wicked shall return [shub] to Sheol, all the nations that forget God” (Psa 9:17).
    Here, those who are soon to die are thought of as returning to death and sheol. Of course, shub in these two instances may not denote a return to a starting point. Perhaps someone can discuss this issue further.
    If man returns to the state he exists in before his birth (in Adam’s case dust; in everyone else’s cases, depending on how you think shub should be translated, sheol and death), there is little reason to think he enters a state of consciousness.

    Comment


    • #3
      Section 5

      An Old Testament alternative


      One concept that initially seems to offer an alternative to sheol appears early on in the Hebrew Scriptures.
      “Abraham breathed his last and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years, and was gathered to his people” (Gen 25:8).
      This does not necessarily mean Abraham entered a state of conscious existence after his death, but that he went to the same place (or entered the same state) as his relatives, sheol, to sleep with his fathers (e.g. 1Ki 2:10). However, this sees to be bound up also with Hebrew burial traditions. The next two verses read:
      “Isaac and Ishmael his sons buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, east of Mamre, the field that Abraham purchased from the Hittites. There Abraham was buried, with Sarah his wife” (Gen 25:9–10).
      This comes up again when burial and the gathering of a dead man to his people are almost explicitly bound up in the transportation of the corpse to his native land, to dwell in a cemetery with his dead relatives.
      “And when the time drew near that Israel must die, he called his son Joseph and said to him, ‘If now I have found favor in your sight, put your hand under my thigh and promise to deal kindly and truly with me. Do not bury me in Egypt, but let me lie with my fathers. Carry me out of Egypt and bury me in their burying place.’ He answered, ‘I will do as you have said’” (Gen 47:29–30).
      N.T. Wright notes some more ambiguous Old Testament alternatives to sheol in The Resurrection of the Son of God.
      “There are some passages which appear, at least on one reading, to offer hope that YHWH will deliver people from Sheol. The problem with these passages is to know whether this refers to a deliverance that lies beyond Sheol – i.e. that YHWH will snatch the dead person out of Sheol, either taking them, after death, to some other, more attractive, post-mortem existence, or rescuing them after a short stay – or whether it simply refers to deliverance from death, i.e. proloning life to a good old age rather than being cut off in one’s prime” (Wright 103–104).
      These passages do pose a problem. How can or should we interpret these passages? Could these not be subtle allusions to resurrection? N.T. Wright gives a few examples and provides his opinion. He first explains, “The best-known of these passages is Psalm 16 [v. 8–11]” (Wright 104):
      “I have kept YHWH before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices; my body also rests secure. For you do not give me up to Sheol, or let your faithful one see the Pit. You show me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures for evermore.”
      Based on the passages, even within the Psalms themselves, declaring Sheol’s inhabitant’s inability to praise the Lord, I think the most likely interpretation of these passages is that the Psalmist was experiencing a time of prosperity, praising the Lord in his own lifetime.


      Wright comments:
      “There is legitimate doubt over whether this refers to escaping death or passing through it to a life beyond, but there is no question of the basis of the hope. It is YHWH himself; the one the Psalmist embraces as his sovereign one (verse 2), his portion and cup (verse 5), the one who gives him counsel in the secret places of his heart (verse 7).
      This question can be raised inc onnection with Psalm 22. The Psalmist is clearly in deep trouble, physical danger, and distress: ‘you lay me’, he says,‘in the dust of death’ (verse 15). Nevertheless, he prays that God will save his life, and, in a famous reversal of fortunes, the closing verses of the Psalm gives thanks that God has done just that (verses 22–31). As a part of this thanksgiving, the Psallm celebrates the fact that everyone will eventually submit to God, even the dead:

      To him shall all the proud of the earth bow down; before him shall bow all who go down to the dust, and he who cannot keep himself alive [Ps. 22.29].

      The main hope, though, seems to be that of rescue from violent death, rather than a deliverance the other side of the grave. The Psalm ends with a reaffirmation of the traditional hope of Isrel, for the coming ‘seed’ who will give God thanks (verses 30-31). This affirmation of continuing life, rather than of resurrection itself, is presumably what is intended by Psalm 104 as well” (Wright 104).
      It seems Wright agrees with me. But there are other examples he touches.
      “Something more definite can be said about Psalm 73 at least. One of the classical biblical complaints about the apparent injustices of life (the wicked and arrogant always seem to get away with it), this Psalm takes its place alongside the book of Job itself. It offers, though, a different sort of answer. For a start, when the Psalmist goes into God’s sanctuary, he realizes that the wicked will indeed be condemned, though how and when this will happen remains unclear:

      Truly you set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin. How they are destroyed in a moment, swept away utterly by terrors! They are like a dream when one awakes; on awaking you despite their phantoms [Ps. 73.18-20]” (Wright 106).

      Is this perhaps the proclamation that the wicked enter post-mortem conscious distress? Or is this the expressing the hope the wicked will be judged after resurrection? Or perhaps even more simply, is the Psalmist saying the wicked get what is coming to them in their own lifetime, as earlier Hebrew traditions claimed?

      This not all to the Psalm, however. He continues:
      “Nevertheless I am continually with you; hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on Earth that I desire other than you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever … For me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord YHWH my refuge, to tell you of all your works [(Psalm Ps. 73.23–7)]” (qtd. in Wright 106).
      N.T. Wright notes the word for “receive” in v. 24 could be translated “take” as it is in Genesis 5:24. He comments further:
      “It seems clear that ‘and afterward’ (weachar) in verse 24 refers, not to an event that will take place later on within the present life, but to a state which will obtain after the present life of being guided by God’s counsel. This is confirmed by verse 26, where, with echoes of Isaiah 40:6-8, human frailty and even death are met by the unshakeable strength of God himself. Unfortunately the crucial word kabod, translated here as ‘to glory’ – crucial because it would be good to know what exactly the Psalmist thought lay ahead – could equally well be translated, with NRSV, as ‘with honor’” (Wright 106).
      Does this verse, on the fridge of many others that suggest the opposite, really support a doctrine of a conscious intermediate state? Could this not equally refer to resurrection or something simpler?

      Wright points out one last verse where the same Hebrew word for “receive” as in the previous is used.


      In this passage, after the Psalmist declares humans are no better than beasts, all going to the grave, he seems to offer an alternative to his own fate.
      “Like sheep they are appointed for Sheol; Death shall be their shepherd; straight to the grave they descend, and their form shall waste away; Sheol shall be their home. But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for he will receive me” (qtd. in Wright 107).
      Could this not also display hope for resurrection? The above passages remind me of the Psalmist’s hope that “will not abandon [his] soul to Sheol, or let [the] holy one see corruption” (Psa 16:10).

      These verses should provide interesting discussion for this thread. No matter how you interpret them, the fact remains: the hope for life after death is very marginal in the Old Testament.

      Comment


      • #4
        Section 6

        The New Testament and hades

        Hades, the Greek equivalent to the Hebrew sheol, is used only nine times in the New Testament. Three verses, however, are of particular interest.
        The first appears in the book of Acts, chapter two.
        It is the day of Pentecost. The Apostles are anointed with flaming tongues and begin to speak in other languages. Some think they are drunk, so Peter stands up proclaiming the gospel.
        “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know—this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. For David says concerning him, ‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence’” (Act 2:22–28).
        Here is where the interesting twist comes:
        “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.’” (Act 2:29–35).
        Peter reinterprets David’s Psalm and says he was not speaking of his own fate, but of Jesus’. David was left in Hades; Jesus was not. David is still buried; Jesus is not. David did not ascend to Heaven; Jesus did.
        The next passages of interest appear in the first epistle to the Corinthians, chapter fifteen.
        “Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ ‘O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’” (1Co 15:51–55).
        While most critical texts read thanatos twice in verse fifty-five, the Textus Receptus reads hades the second time. The fact remains, however, the Masoretic Text reads sheol and the Septuagint hades. Paul interprets this prophecy in the context of resurrection. The implications of Paul quoting this passage is that Paul sees hades as having power even over the believer and as not defeated until after resurrection. This fits in with John’s Apocalypse when hades gives up its dead (Rev 20:13), only to be destroyed in the lake of fire after judgment (v. 14).

        The last passage of interest appears in the parable of Lazarus and the rich man. In the parable, the rich man fares prosperous while Lazarus is poor and ailed. However, there is a refersal of fortune when the two die. Lazarus enters the comfort of Abraham’s bosom whereas the rich man goes to Hades.
        “[In] Hades, being in torment, he [the rich man] lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side” (Luk 16:23).
        This Hades seems like the antithesis of the Hades of the Hebrew Scriptures. In fact, it has been noted to have much in common with the Hades of Greco-Roman tradition. On the other hand, both Andrew and Wright have their doubts about what this verse reflects about actual life after death.

        Andrew has pointed me in the past to D.B. Gowler who notes:
        “Some scholars have suggested that the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19–31) derives from an Egyptian folktale about the journey of Setme Chamois (led by his son Si-osire) through the realm of the dead. They believe Jesus adapted this Egyptian story for his own purposes and created the second half of the parable (16:27–31).

        A closer examination of the evidence, however, calls for a broader, Greco-Roman comparative framework for reading the parable. Ronald Hock, for example, provides an apt comparison from the Lucian texts, Gallus and Cataplus, where a poor, marginalized artisan named Micyllus goes hungry from early morning to evening and must bear the slights, insults, and beatings of the powerful. When Micyllus and a rich tyrant named Megapenthes die, they both make the trip to Hades.

        Megapenthes, like the rich man in Jesus’ parable, tries to strike a bargain to alter his situation, but to no avail. Finally, Micyllus and Megapenthes face Rhadamanthus, the judge of the underworld. Micyllus is judged to be pure and goes to the Isle of the Blessed. Megapenthes’s soul, however, is stained with corruption, and he will be appropriately punished. In Hock’s opinion, both this story and the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus betray the ancient Cynic philosophers’ views on the problems with wealth and the virtues of poverty” (“The Contexts of Jesus’ Parables”, Gowler 16–17).
        Andrew himself points out in The Coming of the Son of Man:
        “The exception [to Hades being a place of torment] … is Jesus’ story about the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19–23), which deserves careful consideration. Ostensibly this rather curious parable, which appears to have some affinity with an Egyptian folktale known in the first century [see Nolland, Luke, 557], is about the failure of the wealthy to act justly towards the poor: it is naturally read as an attack on the Pharisees who were ‘lovers of money’ (16:14). More often, though, it has been a bone of contention in the debate over the nature of hell: R. A. Peterson, for example, draws the conclusion that this parable teaches that the wicked will enter an ‘intermediate state after death’ in which they will ‘endure torment and agony.’ Certain observations, however, suggest that this sort of interpretation entirely misses the point of the story.

        First, the image of one who must eat what falls from the table (as Lazarus does from the rich man’s table) is used by the Syrophoenician woman to justify her boldness when she begs Jesus to cast a demon out of her daughter (Mark 7:28; cf. Matt. 15:27). It is likely that we are meant to view Lazarus in the same light, as one who is not merely wretchedly poor but spiritually disenfranchised. Lazarus is a Jewish name, and apart from this intertextual echo there is no reason to think that he represents the Gentiles [on this see bellow] who will come into the kingdom in place of the leaders of the people. He corresponds to the ‘poor and crippled and blind and lame’ who are brought in from the streets and lanes of the city in Jesus’ parable of the great banquet not those beyond the walls of the city who are compelled to come in later (Luke 14:16–24). …

        [Also], while the rich man’s five brothers could certainly have found in Moses and the prophets exhortations to act justly and defend the poor, they would also have found that such statements were embedded in eschatological contexts. The point was not that social and economic injustice were morally wrong, but that if Israel did not repent of its sin, including injustice towards the poor, the nation would come under judgment. …

        This leads us towards the conclusion that the Hades in which the rich man is tormented is not the conventional Hades of the Old Testament, which, as we have seen, is not a place of punishment. Nor is it the traditional ‘hell’ of popular Christian belief. Rather it is an image of the destruction that would come upon the ‘wealthy’ in Israel, who despite the riches and glories of their religious heritage failed to understand that, in the words of the beatitude, the kingdom of God would be given to the poor (cf. Luke 6:20)” (Perriman 96–97).
        Wright mostly agrees:
        “I stressed in the earlier volume that the parable of the rich man and Lazarus is to be treated precisely as a parable, not as a literal description of the afterlife and its possibilities. It is therefore inappropriate to use it as prima facie evidence for Jesus’ own sketching (or Luke’s portrait of Jesus’ sketching) of a standard post-mortem scenario. It is, rather, an adaption of a well-known folk-tale, projecting the rich/poor divide of the present on to the future in order to highlight the present responsibility, and culpability, of the careless rich. However, while the parabolic nature of the story prevents us from treating it as Jesus’ own description of how the afterlife is organized, it does not prevent us from saying that for Jesus himself, and/or for those who handed on the tradition, this story indicates, in standard Jewish style, a clear belief in continuity between the present life and the ‘resurrection’ strand in second-Temple Judaism, or with a ‘disembodied immortality’ stand; the possibility is envisaged that Lazarus might return from the dead, but Abraham forbids that it should happen. It does, however, highlight one of the many metaphors current in Judaism for the abode of the blessed, either in perpetuity or prior to their possible rising again: Lazarus has gone to ‘Abraham’s bosom’. Luke’s intention in placing the story here (soon after the ‘inaugurated eschatology’ of 15.24, 32, and soon before the apocalyptic warnings of 17.22-37) is at least clear: things done and decided in the present are to be seen in the light of the promised future. ‘Resurrection’ is coming forwards into the present in Jesus’ ministry, but those who cannot see it and reorder their lives accordingly are in danger of losing all. Significantly, this message of resurrection is clearly linked to the call for justice, which remains a closely related theme throughout early Christianity, This, we may suppose, was exactly the kind of thing that would put the average Sadducee right off the whole idea” (RSG, Wright 337–338).
        Even John Lightfoot adds:
        “[In the parable of Lazarus and the rich man] perhaps there may be something more aimed at in the name [Lazarus]: for since the discourse is concerning Abraham and Lazarus, who would not call to mind Abraham and Eliezer his servant, one born at Damascus, a Gentile by birth, and sometime in posse the heir of Abraham; but shut out of the inheritance by the birth of Isaac, yet restored here into Abraham’s bosom? Which I leave to the judgment of the reader, whether it might not hint the calling of the Gentiles into the faith of Abraham.”
        Lightfoot’s interpretation is in opposition to Andrew, who believes Lazarus does not specifically represent the Gentiles. Ernest L. Martin elaborates upon Lightfoot’s observation, pointing out the rich man’s five brothers, relating them with the five brothers of Judah.

        In any case, the parable needs to be taken with a grain of salt. As Andrew Perriman has said, “[It] would certainly be unwise to draw firm theological conclusions from this one traditional story. It would be different if Jesus spoke repeatedly, using arguments from the Old Testament, about the conscious suffering of all the wicked in flames following death - but, of course, he didn’t” (OST, “Lazarus and Dives”).

        Comment


        • #5
          Section 7

          A New Testament alternative

          Though the New Testament is fairly silent on hades, there are four verses in particular that seemingly provide an alternative to the sheol of the Old Testament. Three of these verses are by Paul.


          The first passage appears in the second epistle to the Corinthians, chapter five.
          “So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him” (2Co 5:6–9).
          Though Paul does not explicitly say being absent from the body yields God’s presence with his use of the Greek word kai, he is certainly willing to be both absent and present with the Lord; the implications of these statements seem to be apparent: when one is absent from the body, he is present with the Lord. However, closer view of the context makes interpretation of this passage more difficult. The first few verses are clearly talking about resurrection. Is Paul saying one enters God’s presence when he is absent from the body or that the believer is brought one step closer to resurrection when he dies? Would Paul, who just said, “not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life”, really cling to the hope of leaving the body and entering an intermediate state? Perhaps not here, but elsewhere suggests he does.

          The next passages of interest appear in the epistle to the Philipians.
          “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better” (Php 1:21–23).
          Here, clearly, Paul expects to be with Christ after he dies. The language of departing is far less ambiguous than Paul’s statement to the Corinthians. How can this be harmonized with the other texts we have examined thus far, though? Could Paul have been wrong?

          The next passage of interest appears in the first epistle to the Thessolonians.
          “For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him” (1Th 5:9–10).
          Paul offers the reader hope that the believer lives together with Jesus whether awake or asleep (i.e. dead or alive). Again, the reader is presented with a problem: how can this be harmonized with the other texts; does it even need to be?


          The next passage, more ambiguous than the other three by Paul, appears in the book of Revelation.
          “When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, ‘O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?’” (Rev 6:9-10).
          Founding an entire doctrine on this passage alone is lacking. John’s apocalypse is filled with highly symbolic and figurative language. Moreover, it seems John has something more specific in mind than the espousing of a doctrine of conscious existence after death.

          First, these souls are seen under an altar. The word “altar” is translated from thusiasterion, meaning “a place of sacrifice.” The point of the saints’ plea, then, is to hyperbolically stress God’s peoples’ need of vengeance and vindication; they are being slain like lambs upon an altar, and their enemies are getting away with it.

          Second, as noted above, the soul (in Greek, psyche) is thought of as being in the blood. Blood is sprinkled upon an altar during sacrifice.

          Third, the passage seems to be indirectly linked with the martyrdom of Abel, who’s blood is depicted as crying out from the ground to God (Gen 4:10; cf. Mat 23:35).

          Thus, the passage should not be taken too literally, no more than the account of Abel’s blood crying from the ground should be. This passage, after all, is contained within an apocalyptical context. Nevertheless, the passage relates the need for the suffering people of God to be vindicated.


          The next passage, the most ambiguous of them all, appears in the gospel according to Luke. Jesus is dying on the cross, when the one thief hanging on a cross text to him asks a question.
          “And he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ And he [Jesus] said to him, ‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise’” (Luk 23:42–43).
          There are three problems with the popular interpretation of this passage.

          The first has to do with the comma. The oldest Greek texts contain no punctuation. Thus, scholars infer punctuation into their translation. Most schools put the comma after “to you” (soi). However, some have their doubts. Rotherham, the compiler of the Emphasized Bible, a literal translation of the Bible, translates the verse, “And he said unto him—Verily, I say unto thee this day: With me, shalt thou be in Paradise.” The Concordant Literal Version does so similarly: “And Jesus said to him, ‘Verily, to you am I saying today, with Me shall you be in paradise.’”


          Rotherham adds in a footnote:
          “It is left for the reader to determine whether the words ‘this day’ should be joined (A) with the former part of the sentence, or (B) with the latter. In favour of (A) may be urged (1)the fact that semeron, ‘this day,’ does not always stand first in the clause to which it belongs(see Lu. ii. 11; v.26; xxii. 34; Ac. xx. 26; xii. 3; xxiv.21; xxvi.29; (2) that being essentially a demonstrative word, it will bear any reasonable stress which may be laid upon it, whether it be placed before or after the words it qualifies; (3) that it is far from meaningless if regarded as belonging to the opening words of asserveration (‘Thou dost ask to be remembered then: verily thou art assured now. As on this day of my weakness and shame, thou hast faith to ask, I this day have authority to answer’); (4) that the latter part of this verse is thus left free to refer to the very matter of the supplicant’s request (‘Thou dost ask to be remembered when I come in my kingdom: thou shalt be remembered then, and with distinguished favour: thou shalt be in my kingdom; shalt be with me in the very paradise of my kingdom, in the garden of the Lord — Is.li.3 [Sep. paradesios]; Eze.xxxvi.35; compare Ge.ii.8 [Sept. paradesios]; Re.ii.7 — in that most central and blessed part of the coming kingdom, of which thou dost believe me to be the destined king.’ On the other hand, in support of (B)it may be said, (1) that our Lord’s well known formula, ‘Verily I say to thee,‘ ‘Verily I say to thee,’ in every instance stands thus simply alone without any other qualifying word; (2) that the double emphasis produced by attaching ‘this day’ to the words coming after (‘This day, with me shalt thou be’) is exactly matched by chap. xix. 5(‘This day, in thine house I must needs abide’); (3) that no ingenuity of exposition can silence the testimony of Lu. xvi. 23, 25 to the conscious comfort of seperate souls in Abraham’s bosom; (4) that in the days of our Lord, that state of waiting consolation was sometimes termed ‘paradise,’ to which state, therefore, the believing listener might not unnaturally understand the speaker to refer; and (5) that, although this interpretation does not regard the Lord’s reply as covering of the precise intention of the petitioner, it must nevertheless have been to him a pre-eminently satisfactory answer, no better pledge of a place in the future kingdom being conceivable than an immediate place in the paradise of waiting souls in the companionship of the annointed king. (For the various and not always consistent views of the Jews in the days of our Lord regarding ‘Paradise,’ see Smith’s Bible Dictionary, under that word: it was far off in the distant East, further than the foot of man had trod-it was a region in the world of the dead, of Sheol, in the heart of the earth-or, again, it was in the third heaven, etc, etc, -From this account it will be seen what weight should be attched to Jewish opinion in connection with what Jesus spoke of the rich man and Lazarus, Lu. xvi.)” (qtd. in “Where should the comma be placed?”).
          E.W. Bullinger comments in The Companion Bible, Appendix 173:
          “The interpretation of this verse depends entirely on punctuation, which rests wholly on human authority, the Greek manuscripts having no punctuation of any kind till the ninth century, and then it is only a dot (in the middle of the line) separating each word.…

          The Verb ‘to say’, when followed by hoti, introduces the ipsissima verba of what is said; and answers to our quotation marks. So here (in Luke 23:43), in the absence of hoti = ‘that’, there may be a doubt as to the actual words included in the dependent clause. But the doubt is resolved (1) by the common Hebrew idiom, ‘I say unto thee this day’, which is constantly used for very solemn emphasis (See note on Deut. 4:26); as well as (2) by the usage observable in other passages where the verb is connected with the Gr. semeron = to-day.

          1. With hoti : —

          Mark 14:30 : ‘Verily I say unto thee, that (hoti) this day … thou shalt deny me thrice.’

          Luke 4:21 : ‘And He began to say unto them, that (hoti) ‘This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.’’

          Luke 5:26 : ‘Saying (hoti =that), ‘We have seen strange things to-day.’

          Luke 19:9 : ‘Jesus said unto him that (hoti), this day is salvation come into this house.’

          For other examples of the verb ‘to say’, followed by hoti, but not connected with semeron (to-day), see Matt. 14:26; 16:18; 21:3; 26:34; 27:47; Mark 1:40; 6:14, 15, 18, 35; 9:26; 14:25. Luke 4:24, 41; 15:27; 17:10; 19:7.

          2. Without hoti : —

          On the other hand, in the absence of hoti (= that), the relation of the word ‘to-day’ must be determined by the context.

          Luke 22:34 : ‘And He said, ‘I tell thee, Peter, in no wise shall a cock crow to-day before thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest Me.’ Here the word ‘to-day’ is connected with the verb ‘crow’, because the context requires it. Compare Heb. 4:7.

          It is the same in Luke 23:43 : ‘And Jesus said to him, ‘Verily I say unto thee to-day [or this day (*1), when, though they were about to die, this man had expressed so great faith in Messiah’s coming Kingdom, and therefore in the Lord’s resurrection to be its King — now, under such solemn circumstances] thou shalt be, with Me, in Paradise.’ For when Messiah shall reign His Kingdom will convert the promised land into a Paradise. Read Isa. 35, and see Note on Ecc. 2:5.”

          Bullinger draws to mind Deuteronomy 8:19 and 30:18 LXX.
          “Kai [And] estai [it will be] ean [if] lethe [in forgetfulness] epilathe [you should forget] kuriou [the Lord]] ton theou sou [your God], kai [and] poreuthes [should go] opiso [after] theon eteron [other gods], kai [and] latreuses [should serve] autois [to them], kai [and] proskuneses autois [should do obeisance to them], diamarturomai [I testify] umin [to you] semeron [today] ton [on] te [both] ouranon [heaven] kai [and] ten [the] gen [earth] apoleia [by destruction] apoleiasthe [you shall be destroyed]” (The Apostolic Bible Polyglot, Deut 8:19 LXX).

          “Anaggello [I announce] soi [ to you] semeron [today], hoti [that] apoleia [by destruction] apoleisthe [you will be destroyed” (The Apostolic Bible Polyglot, Deut 30:18 LXX).

          Here we see that semeron is incorperated to add emphasis.


          Additionally, Bruce Metzger notes in A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament:
          “The Curetonian Syriac rearranges the order of words, joining σημερον, not with μετ’ εση but with ’Αμην σοι λεγω (‘Truly I say to you today, that with me you will be…’)” (qtd. in TheologyWeb).
          The problem lies not just in translation, but also in interpretation. Paradeisos is the Greek word used to translate Eden and often refers to what is to happen on Earth, whether literally or metaphroically, rather than an intermediate state in-between death and resurrection.

          Andrew Perriman comments:
          “Jesus’ promise to the repentant criminal that ‘today you will be with me in Paradise’ (Luke 23:43) has usually been read as a statement about what happens after death. … The word, however, occurs in a highly suggestive context in Isaiah 51:3 LXX: ‘And now I will comofrt you, O Zion; and I have comforted all her desert places; and I will make her desert places as a garden (paradeison) of the LORD.’ The wider passage speaks of the salvation of Zion following divine judgment and resonates at a number of points with the crucifixion narrative, not least:

          The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious; I turned not backward. I gave my back to those who strike, and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard; I hid not my face from disgrace and spitting. But the Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgrace; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame. He who vindicates me is near. (Isa. 50:5–8).

          Arguably the real promise here has to do less with the fate of the individual than with the restoration of Israel — not through violence (all the more partinent if the ‘criminal’ is not a petty thief but a revolutionary who sought the liberation of Israel through armed resistance) but through the suffering of the Servant of the Lord and through national repentance. ‘Paradise’ is then not so much a place to which the soul goes at death, temporarily or otherwise, but a metaphor for the salvation of Israel which is to be accomplished through Jesus’ death and resurrection. The promise is an assurance to those who ‘pursue righteousness’ (Isa. 51:1) that the God who made Abraham many (51:2) will indeed comfort Zion and transofrm her wilderness into a garden like Eden” (COSM, Perriman 87).

          Wright, on the other hand, takes the stance that Jesus is referring to an intermediate state (RSG page 438, footnote 114). His opinion seems to be backed up by Paul, who equates paradeisos with the “third heaven” (2Co 12:4).

          I think close attention is due to the thief’s actual request. The thief wants Jesus to remember him when he comes in his Kingdom. Should we interpret this as a first century Pharisee probably would, to refer to the Kingdom of the age to come (ha`olam ha-ba) or to the Kingdom the Son of Man figure of Daniel receives upon ascension to the Ancient of Days (Dan 7:13-14)? Either interpretation rules out that it happened on the very day the thief asked, but the latter interpretation suggests the thief shared in Jesus’ vindication on the third day. Was he perhaps one of those who came out of his grave on Jesus’ resurrection (Mat 27:52)? If so, did he ascend also with Jesus to receive the Kingdom? Perhaps we should interpret this passage less literally to refer to covenant renewal, the foreshadowing of new creation (paradise on Earth).

          The final problem of the popular interpretation has to do with the same author’s other statement that Jesus was in hades prior to resurrection (Act 2:31). If paradise is an intermediate state, is it in hades?

          In my opinion, the passage is so ambiguous that a solid conclusion cannot be drawn.

          Comment


          • #6
            Section 8 and 9

            The harrowing of Hell

            Those who believe in a conscious intermediate state of torment for the wicked often believe Jesus descended into this place to deliver the Old Covenant saints to Heaven. This have come to be called the harrowing of Hell. However, it has very, very little support.
            One of the most commonly quoted passages is contained in the following:
            “Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water” (1Pe 3:18-20).
            This verse is very ambiguous. Who are these spirits in prison? Apparently they are only those who sinned in the days of Noah. This calls to mind the 1 Enoch tradition of the sinning angels. Both the author of the second epistle of Peter and the author of the epistle of Jude seem to uphold this tradition (cf. 2Pe 2:4; Jud 1:6). If this interpretation is correct, it would mean that through Jesus’ resurrection he subjected “angels, authorities, and powers” (v. 22), even fallen angels (if they actually exist).

            What do you think?

            With such a lack of evidence for the harrowing of hell, I do not think there is much ground for saying death changed with Jesus’ atonement.

            Conlusion

            Based on my above studies, I think the hope for postmortem existence is small. The passages that offer this hope are extremely marginal. In contrast to these few passages, there are many that suggest the opposite. Moreover, even if the believer enters a conscious intermediate state of bliss, there is basically no evidence that the unbeliever enters a conscious state of torment. I find little evidence that death changed with Jesus’ resurrection (i.e. harrowing of hell), so if there is a conscious intermediate state, there always was; please discuss this issue, though.

            All in all, what place do you think a doctrine of a conscious intermediate state should have in the gospel? Should it have any place at all? Keep in mind all my questions and points and please discuss these issues and tell me what you think.

            My next (big) post following this line of thinking will be on judgment, but I may not finish it for a while.

            Comment


            • #7
              Stephen's testimony is interesting here:

              (Acts 7:55-60 KJV) But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, {56} And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. {57} Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, {58} And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul. {59} And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. {60} And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

              This is a clear testimony from one about to die as he sees into the spiritual realm. What does he see? Jesus. And what does he say to Him? Receive my spirit. Then his body "falls asleep" which is a euphemism for death.

              Voltaire's testimony as he was about to die was that he saw Satan coming for him with chains.

              Of the people who have been raised from the dead in scripture, only Jesus speaks about the afterlife. It is interesting that in the story of the rich man in hell, Lazarus is the name of the character whom He shows in paradise - Abraham's bosom. And soul sleep is not supported by His words.

              Lazarus who died before the cross and was raised back to earthly life, provides the type for what we see in the OT understanding of Hades. And the thief on the cross who died before Jesus was resurrected is within this type also. But Stephen is not, and Paul's words confirm that he is present with Jesus in heaven.

              Jesus Himself is the first resurrection and if we have been born again then we have the seed of eternal life dwelling in us. Note that Stephen was filled with the Holy Spirit when he saw into the spiritual realm. This is what we need to see what he saw when the time comes for us.

              My conclusion: When we die, our spirits are received alive & awake by Jesus in heaven, while our bodies go into the grave. Therefore the body sleeps but not the soul. This is the hope of Christianity that we have secured for us in the resurrection of Jesus.
              Robin

              Truth is so obscure in these times and falsehood so established that, unless one loves the truth, he cannot know it. - Blaise Pascal
              And Jesus saith unto him [Thomas], I am the way the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. - John 14:6
              Discernment is not needed in things that differ, but in things that appear to be the same. - Miles Sanford
              Those who compromise with Christ’s enemies may be reckoned with them. - C.H. Spurgeon

              Comment


              • #8
                Stephen's testimony is interesting here:
                Not anymore than Paul's vision of Jesus.

                This is a clear testimony from one about to die as he sees into the spiritual realm. What does he see? Jesus. And what does he say to Him? Receive my spirit. Then his body "falls asleep" which is a euphemism for death.
                Yes. But as I explained, the spirit is not conscious. Solomon uses the image of the spirit returning to God as well, but afterwards declares all vanity. It is simply an image of one breathing his last breath.

                Voltaire's testimony as he was about to die was that he saw Satan coming for him with chains.
                Who?

                Jesus Himself is the first resurrection and if we have been born again then we have the seed of eternal life dwelling in us.
                Eternal life, zoe aionios, means more precisely life in the age to come, i.e. resurrected immortality; not the ability to never die pre-resurrection. Obviously we all die and do not possess eternal life.

                My conclusion: When we die, our spirits are received alive & awake by Jesus in heaven, while our bodies go into the grave. Therefore the body sleeps but not the soul. This is the hope of Christianity that we have secured for us in the resurrection of Jesus.
                You are failing to differentiate between the spirit and soul. If there is a conscious afterlife, I think we should avoid describing what component of man goes there. From a canonical biblical perspective, the soul is not immortal, and the spirit is not conscious; so if there is a conscious afterlife, this is because of God's power alone. I think the best way to describe this would be with the simile: death is like a sleep with pleasant dreams.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Thanks enarchay for your post. I was brought up in the traditional American church and believed all that I was taught. Such as we go to be with Christ immediately after death, eternal torment, the evil line of Seth as opposed to fallen angels etc. As I have gotten older and done more research I began to question these things that are traditionally taught. Immediate life after death is one that I`m still not sure about but I have been leaning toward the belief of a state of unconsciousness until the resurrection. There is so much emphasis put on a resurrection by Jesus. One thing I can`t understand... if we go to be with the Lord when we die then why do we need to be resurrected. If we are alive in heaven and are able to function,communicate,know one other and are just completely happy then why do we need a resurrected body? Obviously there are people that have been dead for thousands of years, If they are conscious in heaven and have been for all of this time and are happy and communicate with one another,then why do they need another body? Again,thanks for the post. It is something I have been thinking about a lot lately and I`m anxious to read others opinions on this.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Some verses that I`m trying to understand are in John 11:21-27. Lazarus is dead and Martha tells Jesus that she knows Lazarus will be resurrected on the last day then Jesus says.."I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live." "And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die." I`m trying to reconsile these verses with the whole theme of this thread. In other words, Jesus seems to be infering something different than what Martha believed. She already believed in the resurrection so why did jesus respond the way he did. Interested in your thoughts on this.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by spm62 View Post
                      Thanks enarchay for your post. I was brought up in the traditional American church and believed all that I was taught. Such as we go to be with Christ immediately after death, eternal torment, the evil line of Seth as opposed to fallen angels etc. As I have gotten older and done more research I began to question these things that are traditionally taught. Immediate life after death is one that I`m still not sure about but I have been leaning toward the belief of a state of unconsciousness until the resurrection. There is so much emphasis put on a resurrection by Jesus. One thing I can`t understand... if we go to be with the Lord when we die then why do we need to be resurrected. If we are alive in heaven and are able to function,communicate,know one other and are just completely happy then why do we need a resurrected body? Obviously there are people that have been dead for thousands of years, If they are conscious in heaven and have been for all of this time and are happy and communicate with one another,then why do they need another body? Again,thanks for the post. It is something I have been thinking about a lot lately and I`m anxious to read others opinions on this.
                      Yes. I don't care if people believe in a conscious intermediate state. The problem is, people make it their main focus. Some people don't even know about resurrection; I was one of them. It's as N.T. Wright says:
                      Heaven is important but it's not the end of the world: in the mainstream Christian tradition until the Platonists corrupted it, the ultimate destination is THE NEW HEAVENS AND THE NEW EARTH, which will involve an ultimate resurrection (bodily, of course) for God's people (in some versions, for all people).

                      The way the phrase 'heaven and hell' are used today implies you go straight to one or the other, ignoring the solid biblical testimony to an ultimate new creation in which heaven and earth are brought together in a great act of renewal (for those who want it, check out Ephesians 1.10, Revelation 21 and 22, Romans 8.18-27 and 1 Corinthians 15.20-28 -- though once you see this theme it's there everywhere).
                      If someone asks me if I want to go to Heaven when I die, I'll say no, because if I meet the Lord before resurrection, resurrection will lose some of its flavor.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by spm62 View Post
                        Some verses that I`m trying to understand are in John 11:21-27. Lazarus is dead and Martha tells Jesus that she knows Lazarus will be resurrected on the last day then Jesus says.."I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live." "And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die." I`m trying to reconsile these verses with the whole theme of this thread. In other words, Jesus seems to be infering something different than what Martha believed. She already believed in the resurrection so why did jesus respond the way he did. Interested in your thoughts on this.
                        I would take Jesus' statement about those who believe, though they are dead, they live, both to represent the new life Christians partake in after conversation (see Rom 6:11; 7:6; Eph 2:6) but also, more importantly, the future bodily resurrection (see Rom 8:11). Notice Martha's hope that Lazarus will rise on the last day.

                        As for the bit about never dying, the KJV translates the Greek very poorly. In the Textus Receptus, "never die" is translated from ou me apothane eis ton aiona, which should be translated something like, "never die into the age."

                        Rotherham translates it, "And, no one who liveth again and believeth on me, shall in anywise die, unto times age-abiding. Believest thou this?" (Rotherham's Emphasized Bible).

                        Young translates it, "and every one who is living and believing in me shall not die--to the age" (Young's Literal Translation).

                        The Greek-English Interlinear New Testament reads, "Kai [And] pas ho [everyone] zoen [living] kai [and] pisteuon [believing] eis [in] eme [me] ou me apothane [never dies] eis [into] ton [the] aiona [age]."

                        In other words, those who believe in Jesus will not face wrath in the age to come (e.g. the last day), i.e. be cast into the lake of fire.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by enarchay View Post
                          Not anymore than Paul's vision of Jesus.
                          Nor any less. I was however, referring to Paul's statement that to be absent from the body was to be present with the Lord.

                          Yes. But as I explained, the spirit is not conscious. Solomon uses the image of the spirit returning to God as well, but afterwards declares all vanity. It is simply an image of one breathing his last breath.

                          Solomon is actually asking a question in that passage since he does not know whether the soul returns to the Lord or not.

                          Who?
                          Voltaire wrote Dante's Inferno. He had some major issues with God during his life. His deathbed testimony verified his unbelief to his eternal detriment.

                          Eternal life, zoe aionios, means more precisely life in the age to come, i.e. resurrected immortality; not the ability to never die pre-resurrection. Obviously we all die and do not possess eternal life.

                          An age with a beginning and no end which no one will enjoy unless he has the life of Christ dwelling in him before he dies.

                          You are failing to differentiate between the spirit and soul. If there is a conscious afterlife, I think we should avoid describing what component of man goes there. From a canonical biblical perspective, the soul is not immortal, and the spirit is not conscious; so if there is a conscious afterlife, this is because of God's power alone. I think the best way to describe this would be with the simile: death is like a sleep with pleasant dreams.
                          And you my friend are failing to differentiate with the transition that the cross wrought for us. Yes the body sleeps until the resurrection, but the soul does not. Revelation seems to give that picture clearly with the multitudes who are before the throne - in heaven; alive and praising the Lord. I will admit I am not sure if the OT saints pre-cross are present there or not yet, but surely all who have died since the cross are.

                          Don't fall so in love with a doctrine that you deny the gospel to embrace it.
                          Robin

                          Truth is so obscure in these times and falsehood so established that, unless one loves the truth, he cannot know it. - Blaise Pascal
                          And Jesus saith unto him [Thomas], I am the way the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. - John 14:6
                          Discernment is not needed in things that differ, but in things that appear to be the same. - Miles Sanford
                          Those who compromise with Christ’s enemies may be reckoned with them. - C.H. Spurgeon

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Hi Mograce,
                            As I have stated earlier.this is a topic that I`m still trying to reconsile in my heart. Can you give me your take on something I touched on earlier? I copied it and added it here..thanks.

                            Immediate life after death is one that I`m still not sure about but I have been leaning toward the belief of a state of unconsciousness until the resurrection. There is so much emphasis put on a resurrection by Jesus. One thing I can`t understand... if we go to be with the Lord when we die then why do we need to be resurrected. If we are alive in heaven and are able to function,communicate,know one other and are just completely happy then why do we need a resurrected body? Obviously there are people that have been dead for thousands of years, If they are conscious in heaven and have been for all of this time and are happy and communicate with one another,then why do they need another body? Again,thanks for the post. It is something I have been thinking about a lot lately and I`m anxious to read others opinions on this.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Hi Mograce
                              Originally posted by Mograce2U View Post
                              Revelation seems to give that picture clearly with the multitudes who are before the throne - in heaven; alive and praising the Lord.
                              Is it safe to admit Revelation to this discussion?

                              I ask this because Revelation has all kinds of things in it we know are symbolic. There aren't really 144,000 male virgins from the 12 tribes of Israel and so on. Just as there aren't really flying scrolls or four horsemen, or many horned beasts. Yet the tail (Revelation) tends to wag the dog (the other 65 books) whenever it is introduced into any discussion. Could we for the purposes of Enarchay's thread establish what the Bible teaches as if the Bible only had 65 books, and then go look at the visions and symbols in Revelation?
                              God bless
                              Steven

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