Category: Last Things

The book of life

G.W. Hawthorne notes that ‘expressions such as “your names are written in heaven” (Lk. 10:20), “whose names are in the book of life” (Phil. 4:3), “whose name has not been written … in the book of life” (Rev. 13:8), and “I will not blot his name out of the book of life” (Rev. 3:5), crop up several times within the NT. The figure is taken from the OT (cf. Isa. 4:3; Ezk. 13:9; Dan. 12:1), or from the secular world where a criminal’s name was removed from the civic register to take from him all rights of citizenship.’

Hawthorne appears to offer tentative support for a doctrine of conditional immortality when he adds: ‘If one could argue from these statements that all names have been recorded in the book of life, thereby assuring existence for each person, and if one might also argue that for some reason, e.g., wilful disobedience to God’s commands, deliberate refusal to accept Christ as Savior and Lord, etc., one’s name could be removed from this divine register, “blotted out,” then one might argue that that person would cease to exist, for his name would no longer exist.’

ISBE (2nd ed.), art ‘name’…

The New Testament concept of future judgment

In Aspects of the Atonement, I.H. Marshall discusses the NT terminology of judgment, wrath and punishment.

1. The language of punishment features occasionally (Matt. 24:43–51; Luke 12:45–48; Matt. 25:46; 2 Thess. 1:9; Heb. 10:29; 2 Pet. 2:9.

2. Vengeance, or revenge, occurs in side Luke 18:1–8; Rom. 12:19; citing Deut. 32:35; 1 Thessalonians 4:6; Luke 21:22; and 2 Thessalonians 1:8.

3. More frequent is the use of wrath or anger.  Orgē and related terms are found in Matt.…

A note on ‘aion’ in the LXX

Does the Greek root ‘aion*’ always entail infinite duration?

One relevant set of evidence is provided by Douglas Jacoby, who notes that in not a few instances, the Greek aion* is used in the Septuagint in ways in which ‘everlasting’ (i.e. infinite duration) cannot be the meaning:-

  • Genesis 6:4—“Men of old” (giants/ungodly persons/fallen ones/sons of Cain) did not live infinitely
  • Jeremiah 25:12—Destruction of Babylon (though not literally destroyed)
  • Genesis 9:12—Perpetual generations
  • Exodus 21:6—The man or woman would become one’s servant “forever” (!)
  • Leviticus 25:34—Perpetual possession of fields
  • Deuteronomy 23:3—“Forever” || the 10th generation
  • 1 Samuel 2:22—Young Samuel was to serve at the house of the Lord “forever”
  • 1 Chronicles 16:5—“Forever” ~ 1000 generations—also Psalm 105:8
  • Ezra 4:15, 19—Israelites had been “eternally” resisting political domination
  • Psalm 24:7—“Ancient” doors
  • Proverbs 22:28—“Ancient” boundary stone
  • Jonah 2:6—Prophet confined in (the fish) “forever”

 …

Occupations in heaven

Some notes based on (and quoting from) a sermon by Glenn Pease:-

There once was a woman who always was tired
She lived in a house where no help was hired.
On her death bed she said, dear friends I am goin
Where washing aint done nor cookin nor sewin,
And everything there will be just to my wishes,
For where they don’t eat there’s no washin of dishes.
Don’t mourn for me now, don’t mourn for me ever,
For I’m goin to do nothin, forever and ever.

‘And to die is gain’

Paul’s desire was ‘to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far’ (Phil 1:23).

That sparkling Puritan, Thomas Watson, writes:-

To a believer death is great gain. A saint can count what his losses for Christ are here—but he cannot count how great his gains are at death…Death to a believer is the daybreak of eternal brightness. To show fully what a believer’s gains are at death, would be a task too great for an angel; all hyperboles fall short of it; the reward of glory exceeds our imagination.…

How can heaven and hell co-exist eternally?

How can heaven and hell possibly co-exist everlastingly (asks Philip Edgecumbe Hughes)?  Would this not be incompatible with the redemption achieved by Christ?  For,

  • Christ “has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Heb 9:26; 1 John 3:5);
  • through his appearing death has been abolished (2 Tim 1:10);
  • in the new heaven and the new earth, that is, in the whole realm of the renewed order of creation, there will be no more weeping or suffering, “and death shall be no more” (Rev 21:4).

Pauline descriptions of hell

Douglas Moo observes that in most English versions, the word ‘hell’ is not found in Paul’s writings.  That is because he never used either of the two words usually translated ‘hell’ – gehenna and hades.

So what language does the apostle use concerning the fate of the wicked?  They are, in order of frequency:-

  1. “Death,” “die” (usually apothn’skō, thanatos; Rom. 1:32; 5:12, 14, 15, 17, 21; 6:16, 21, 23; 7:5, 9, 10, 11, 13, 24; 8:2, 6, 13; 1 Cor.

Brian McLaren reads John 14:6

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6, NIV).

These words constitute the go-to text for Christians who wish to assert that Jesus Christ is the only way to God.  It is also the go-to text for those who feel that Christianity condemns itself as abhorrent and intolerant by reason of the very exclusiveness of this saying.

But does does the text actually mean what most of its friends (and, indeed, most of its enemies) think it means?…