The Sufferings of Christ

I already published a quick post this morning, but I have to add this as well.

Last night and this morning both, I told God that while I understand the cross mentally and theologically, I do not feel it like I have heard others feel it. I believe that a greater depth of feeling would strengthen me in both loving and following Jesus. I could use a jump start in my faith at this time.

My wife and I are moving our bedroom from one room in our house to another for complicated reasons. In the process, I am greatly reducing my bookshelf space. After choosing the books I definitely want to keep, I had space for all but one book. almost three inches thick. To keep it meant taking several others out. My wife helped me choose a small amount of extra space, but I while I had it out, I decided to browse the book. It is called A Heritage of Great Evangelical Teaching, and it has excerpts from Martin Luther, John Wesley, Dwight Mood, Charles Spurgeon, and others (1996, Thomas Nelson, Inc.).

I opened it randomly, this 3-inch thick book, to page 116, where an article called “A Meditation on Christ’s Passion” begins.

This sort of thing is not coincidence, it is a God incident. Unlike some, I do believe in coincidences, but it is important never to miss a God incident.

The article is by Martin Luther. I do not know what you think of Martin Luther, but if you read only his writings from 1517 to 1525, you would love him. If you read only his writings from the 1540’s, you would find him the most hateful of persons and a scoundrel. This writing is surely from the 1520’s because it is kind toward the Jews. There is a footnote acknowledging Luther’s changing attitude toward the Jews during his lifetime, from evangelist to a Hitler-esque hate.

Leaving that behind, here are some of the words God gave me in answer to my prayers.

“They contemplate Christ’s passion aright who view it with a terror-stricken heart and a despairing conscience. This terror must be felt as you witness the stern wrath and the unchanging earnestness with which God looks upon sin and sinners, so much so that he was unwilling to release sinners even for his only and dearest Son without his payment of the severest penalty for them. Thus, he says in Isaiah 53:8, “I have chastised him for the transgressions of my people.” If the dearest child is punished thus, what will be the fate of sinners? It must be an inexpressible and unbearable earnestness that forces such a great and infinite person to suffer and die to appease it. And if you seriously consider that it is God’s very own Son, the eternal Wisdom of the Father, who suffers, you will be terrified indeed. The more you think about it, the more intensely will you be frightened.

“You must get this thought through your head and not doubt that you are the one who is torturing Christ thus, for your sins have surely wrought this. In Acts 2:36-37 Saint Peter frightened the Jews like a peal of thunder when he said to all of them, “You crucified him.” Consequently three thousand alarmed and terrified Jews asked the apostles on that one day, “O dear brethren, what shall we do now?” Therefore, when you see the nails piercing Christ’s hands, you can be certain that it is your work. When you behold his crown of thorns, you may rest assured that these are your evil thoughts.

“For every nail that pierces Christ, more than one hundred thousand should in justice pierce you, yes, they should prick you forever and ever more painfully! When Christ is tortured by nails penetrating his hands and feet, you should eternally suffer the pain they inflict and the pain of even more cruel nails, which will in truth be the lot of those who do not avail themselves of Christ’s passion. This earnest mirror, Christ, will not lie or trifle, and whatever it points out will come to pass in full measure.

“Saint Bernard [of Clairvaux] was so terrified by this that he declared, ‘I regarded myself secure: I was not aware of the eternal sentence that had been passed on me in heaven until I saw that God’s only Son had compassion upon me and offered to bear this sentence for me. Alas, if the situation is that serious, I should not make light of it or feel secure.'”

Those are powerful nails. I must be honest and confess that I do not believe that the sufferings of Christ prove that sinners should be tortured eternally. I consider it an outrageous and evil thought that sinners should be punished eternally for temporal sin. Immortality is a reward for the righteous (Rom. 2:6-7; Gal. 6:8-9). Only God is inherently immortal (1 Tim. 6:16), and he gives immortality to the righteous, not to the unrighteous. The doctrine of the immortal soul is not in the Bible but comes from Greek philosophy. God does indeed punish the unrighteous after death as indicated in the parable of the beggar Lazarus and the rich man and as warned when Jesus said that God can destroy both body and soul in Gehenna. Those who refuse to believe in Jesus will “perish” rather than “have eternal life” (Jn. 3:16). They shall “reap corruption” who live according to the flesh rather than reaping eternal life as those who will who sow to the Spirit and do not grow weary of doing good (Gal. 6:8-9).

That said, every other point by Martin Luther is powerful for me, and I will continue to meditate on it. I have known these facts before, but now I will drive them into my heart that the feeling of my heart may match the knowledge in my head. May God give me grace, and I give him praise for his quick response to my prayer and even more so for sending his Son to suffer what I was worthy to suffer. I praise him too for forgiving me for being the cause of the Son’s anguish and the Father’s greatest sorrow.

One More Paragraph from Martin Luther

From the same chapter of the same book, page 118.

“For the evildoers, the Jews, whom God judged and has driven out, were only the servants of your sin; you are actually the one, who, as we said, by his sin killed and crucified God’s Son.”

About Paul Pavao

I am married, the father of six, and currently the grandfather of two. I run a business, live in a Christian community, teach, and I am learning to disciple others better than I have ever been able to before. I believe God has gifted me to restore proper foundations to the Christian faith. In order to ensure that I do not become a heretic, I read the early church fathers from the second and third centuries. They were around when all the churches founded by the apostles were in unity. I also try to stay honest and open. I argue and discuss these foundational doctrines with others to make sure my teaching really lines up with Scripture. I am encouraged by the fact that the several missionaries and pastors that I know well and admire as holy men love the things I teach. I hope you will be encouraged too. I am indeed tearing up old foundations created by tradition in order to re-establish the foundations found in Scripture and lived on by the churches during their 300 years of unity.
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15 Responses to The Sufferings of Christ

  1. This is so well written! Especially about how we need to share our faith in the gospel ✝️🙌💖I’m starting a Christian blog on faith and how we can trust God’s promises during this difficult time if you’d like to check it out

  2. Jon S says:

    Hello Paul,

    Thanks once again for your detailed answer, it’s very helpful, as is your willingness to discuss these essential things.

    I’m going to humbly refute your statement that eternal life isn’t found in the Old Testament. God made a promise to Abraham in Gen 13:14. He said ‘for all the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever’. This promise that God made involved two elements – living forever and inheriting the land. In Gen 26:1-5, God repeats the promise to Isaac, saying ‘I will establish the oath I swore to Abraham your father’. In Gen 35:9-12 he repeats the promise to Jacob. Hebrews 11:8 explains that ‘Abraham obeyed God when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance’. In Canaan, God made the promise of the land to both Abraham and his offspring forever, so Abraham inheriting the land forever requires him to both live forever and be in the land forever. We know Abraham believed God’s promise because Heb 11:13 says ‘These all died in faith, not having received the things promised’. He believed in God’s promise, eternal life on earth, as did the recipients of that same promise, Isaac and Jacob. True, we know that God gives all those with similar faith who are spiritual Israel in the NT the same opportunity to be heirs of the same promise. But the only way that God’s promise can be fulfilled is through resurrection to life on earth. And, as Heb 11:39-40 says, they won’t receive that promise apart from us, all of the believers get that same inheritance at the same time.

    It’s very interesting that Jesus uses these same three men of faith in your quote “God is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,” he said, “and he is the God of the living, not of the dead” from Luke 20 in order to refute the Sadducees doubts about the resurrection to life on earth. Jesus tells them that those to be raised are ‘sons of God’ (the offspring of Genesis 13:14). Like the three men of faith, those who believe in that promise are counted as alive by God. Jesus doesn’t mention other faithful men and women in the OT, just those to whom the promise was given, because it applies to everyone. And if God can give us life after we’re dead (as Abraham reckoned when he was asked to sacrifice Isaac) then we don’t need to be alive anywhere in the meantime.

    As I said before, if there are numerous dissensions that Paul had to deal with described in the Bible, including a ‘different Jesus’ (2 Cor 11 AND 1 Tim 6), and ‘false apostles’, it’s easy to see how the gospel message can be altered and spread quickly, and why Paul would be concerned with that. The best and only way we can judge the early churches’ beliefs is to measure them against scripture. David, a man after God’s own heart, is dead, buried and in his grave, according to Peter in Acts 2:29. Peter also says that ‘David did not ascend into the heavens’ in Acts 2:24. If the early churches preached that there is a ‘soul’ which goes to heaven because that was what the apostles believed, then which scripture do they base this on? And why did the apostle Peter say the opposite?

    The account of the creation of man shows that he isn’t given a ‘soul’, but that a body becomes a living being upon addition of the breath of life. You’re right that “psuche” in Greek means the same, as nephesh, a living thing. This agrees with Bible usage. How can we then say that there is a soul which inhabits a person’s body that separates upon death? We either believe that what God says is true, or we don’t believe him. If Genesis says there’s no separate soul, we can’t then say ‘yes there is’ because it helps us to understand the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. Jesus too said ‘scripture cannot be broken’. If the only evidence of a separate ‘soul’ is found through the influence of non-Biblical sources or beliefs, then it’s leading us away from God’s truth. Jesus knew what the Pharisees believed, and as their belief goes against what God tells us then it’s necessary to find a better explanation. Jesus is talking about persecution in Mat 10:28, being led away from the promise of eternal life by others. If “psuche” is, again, that life then even if we die God can restore that “psuche” for ever. Man cannot take that life away. The word “psuche” doesn’t change meaning on this occasion so we can fit it into a different belief.

    In the examples you gave of the appearances of those who had died, it’s interesting that the transfiguration takes place in Matt 17 just after Jesus said, in the last verse of chapter 16 ‘there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the son of man coming in his kingdom’. The transfiguration can then be seen as a vision of that kingdom to come. It’s a vision because the Kingdom on earth has not yet been established. In verse 9 Jesus tells them ‘tell no-one this vision, until the son of man is raised from the dead’. There’s no indication that what is seen is ‘souls’ suddenly existing which have been moved from one place to another, because that would change the meaning of the word, and that explanation also contradicts what we read in Genesis. Similarly, we cannot be sure what Saul saw when asking for Samuel to be raised, unless we try to contradict that there suddenly is a ‘soul’. If God did give life back to Samuel temporarily, that’s plausible, and it could just have easily been a vision. If it was his ‘soul’ then ‘raising’ Samuel requires him to be somewhere down below, such as a grave. If he’d been in heaven then he would have been brought down, not raised.

    You mentioned the ‘literature produced between the two testaments’. I’ve never heard of this before, can you explain what that is and, if it’s non-Biblical, why it’s authoritative? Many thanks. And thanks also for providing an opportunity to focus on the Bible truth.

    • Paul Pavao says:

      Hi Jon. I think we have said everything that can be said at this point. I am going to drop this, but I am going to answer just to correct a couple things and answer your question.

      1. I didn’t say souls ascended into heaven, and neither did Jesus. In his parables they descended to Hades, and this is what I have maintained throughout. Most modern denominations believe that the good side of Hades (Abraham’s bosom, paradise) was emptied when Jesus rose. It appears the early churches believed it will not be emptied out until the judgment, and I think that is more biblical.

      2. My final answer is that I am happy to leave this right here. I rest my case. I don’t think this last comment of yours changes anything I wrote. Here, I would feel like I am repeating myself. (Therefore, please rest your case as well. I have had instances of saying, “okay, we’re done,” and usually, unless the other person is a jerk, I even give them the last word, as I have done with you. I will delete further arguments on this subject.)

      3. As for the Wisdom literature I mentioned, the Wisdom of Solomon and the Wisdom of Sirach are two of those books. I think, not absolutely certainly, that the 7 Deuterocanonicals (commonly misname Apocrypha) that the Roman Catholics have in their Bible are all intertestamental. As for your question about their authority, what I said was that they clearly influenced the early churches and Jesus supports their new revelation. His description of Hades, with the rich man in the fire, the righteous in paradise,, and a great gulf between, matches Enoch’s description of Hades. Jude even quotes 1 Enoch in his letter.

    • Jon S says:

      Hello Paul,

      Sorry for my late reply, and thanks very much for yours. I’ll rest my case too. I’m grateful that you have stated what you believe and where these beliefs originate, and thanks for sharing. For the record, I’ll continue my pursuit of the Bible truth by believing what the Bible says, especially when there is any conflict with non-biblical sources or what early churches believed. I can’t believe a separate ‘soul’ exists in us because that’s clearly not what the Bible says. Ecclesiastes 12:7 is consistent in describing death as the exact opposite of the giving of life in Genesis. I have to conclude then that any teaching on the existence of a ‘soul’ is designed to show the inaccuracy of that belief, which is what Jesus did.

      Thanks very much for taking the time to write. You’re welcome to delete this and you don’t have to publish my comment. I hope you and your family are well and coping during these difficult times.

      Best regards.

      Jon S.

      • Paul Pavao says:

        I have no reason to delete this, even with that last little argument you threw in. Hopefully, anyone who cares will read our whole discussion. We don’t actually have any control over this issue, anyway. One day, we will all find out what is true on this matter. It is appointed to man once to die, then the judgment. We’ll all find out.

  3. Jon S says:

    Thanks Paul for your measured and considered response.

    I’m interested in what you say about the teachings of the early churches. Many churches nowadays preach the idea that the soul is immortal, that it goes to heaven or hell when one dies, and you say the early churches preached that the soul was held in a certain place, judged, yet not judged. What we have then is the preachings of two different groups, the early and later churches, both of which would claim to have their beliefs based on the scriptures. We should then ask, which Bible passages have led them to these conclusions?

    The account of creation of man in Genesis 2:7 says ‘the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul (Hebrew ‘nephesh’)’. God breathing life into a man’s body has resulted in a ‘soul’. According to the scripture, the man hasn’t been given a soul to go with the body he already has. The addition of the breath of life to his body meant man ‘became a living soul’. Where then does the belief of a separate, inner part of us, which can see, feel and hear without the need of a body, and which lives on without us, come from?

    This word ‘nephesh’ is very interesting because it is used over 700 times in the OT but never in the way that describes the inner soul that it is commonly believed humans possess. For example, in Gen 2:7, Adam named every living creature (nephesh), referring to the animals. Genesis 17:14 ‘that person (nephesh) shall be cut off from his people. Deut 12:23 warns against eating blood because ‘the life (nephesh) is in the blood’. There is no ‘soul’ in a piece of meat, but we know that the blood transports oxygen, air or breath, around the body, which means that life is indeed in the blood. Joshua 11:11 says ‘they struck all people (nephesh) with the edge of the sword’. A ‘soul’ would surely be unaffected by weaponry. Proverbs 25:25 ‘Good news from a far country is like cold water to a thirsty person’ (nephesh), can a ‘soul’ get thirsty or be refreshed by water? There are lots of other examples which you will no doubt (hopefully) explore, and the word ‘nephesh’ always means a living thing or person, or is simply ‘life’, according to the Bible usage. It’s never something separate that floats off elsewhere. Is there any indication where such a belief comes from?

    We know that there is one Bible but hundreds of different Christian denominations. These have formed only because of man’s influence so in order to get to the truth it’s necessary to take the Bible itself as the only authority on which to base our belief. We know the dangers of man changing the gospel message, the apostle Paul warned of such things in Rom 16:17, 1 Corinthians 3, and 2 Corinthians 11 for example, so such temptations were already rife in the early churches. Can you shed any light on why the Bible’s account of the ‘nephesh’ is so different to what is believed today? And if man’s beliefs even in the early churches were influenced away from the Bible message why we should afford them any consideration?

    • Paul Pavao says:

      Hi Jon. So you are the second person this week to surprise me by presenting arguments but being reasonable about them. Usually that only happens every six months or so. The other was on Facebook. Thank you.

      I did not have to go look up Scriptures. I have read an article on the Hebrew word “nephesh,” and I have done my own searching. Especially puzzling to me back then was God breathing the breath of life into Adam’s nostrils, making him a living “nephesh,” but then finding out that animals are referred to as “nephesh” too.

      So, what you wrote about “nephesh” in Hebrew is just as true of “psuche” in Greek. In Acts 27:37, 276 “psuche” were saved from drowning at sea.

      My answer is that what is revealed in the New Testament is not always what was revealed in the Old Testament. Jesus said God was able to destroy both body and soul (psuche) in gehenna, but more importantly he said there are those who can kill the body but not the soul (Matt. 10:28). Eternal life is not found in the Old Testament. There, to die is to die. Israel was God’s earthly people. The Old Testament was full of symbols of the new, which would have a spiritual people and a heavenly kingdom rather than an earthly one. To die bodily was to leave earthly Israel. The revelation that there is a heavenly Israel that will continue forever would have to wait until the New Testament. The revelation of a general resurrection is touched on in Daniel 12, but only there. The rest of the Old Testament seems to indicate dead is dead.

      It is an uncomfortable truth, but nevertheless a truth, that the Wisdom literature produced between the two testaments, and especially in the 200 years before Jesus came, had a strong influence on New Testament authors. This would be worrying if it was not obvious that Jesus agreed with that Wisdom literature. Because of that literature, the Jews of Jesus’s time were aware of a resurrection. The Sadducees rejected it, but Jesus refuted them.

      And his refutation touches on our discussion. “God is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,” he said, “and he is the God of the living, not of the dead” (Luke 20:38).

      Thus, Abraham is alive–yes, as a soul–in Jesus’s parable of the rich man and Lazarus. Elijah and Moses talked with Jesus on the mount of transfiguration. It could be said that Elijah was still in his body, but Moses died. (I apparently missed the obvious symbol that Moses and Elijah represented the Law and the Prophets, the shadow, being eclipsed by Jesus, the fullness in that scene. A young friend pointed that out to me recently.)

      Back to the point, a lack of revelation in the Old Testament should never stop us from believing the revelation of the New Testament, though even in the Old Testament, a diviner was able to raise Samuel temporarily, surely as just a disembodied spirit. in 1 Samuel 28.

      To me, Jesus’s “God is not the God of the dead, but the living” in reference to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob seals the deal. The new revelation of soul’s living on until the final resurrection and the second death is not in the Old Testament, but it is assumed in the New.

      Finally, in reference to the early churches basing their beliefs on the Scriptures, I would adjust that. They based their beliefs on the apostles’ teachings. Thus, we have the New Testament Scriptures because they collected every writing they could find that could reasonably be said to have the apostles stamp of approval. Mark’s Gospel was accepted because it had Peter’s stamp of approval. Luke’s was accepted because he was a companion of Paul, and so on.

      One other way apostolic teaching could be found was in the agreed testimony of all the apostolic churches. Tertullian, an African Christian, writing around the year 200, said that error coming from various sources will of necessity produce variety. If churches around the world hold to the same teaching, though gathered from various apostles around the world, then they have preserved the truth, not error. Tertullian had more words to present his argument than I do here. It is very convincing, and he is not the only one who uses the argument in his time.

      The idea is that where churches varied in doctrine around that time, what varied was the speculation of men, and specifically church leaders. But what was held in all the churches as the basic truths of the faith was what they had preserved from the apostles. Only apostolic truth was authoritative. No one else was commissioned by Jesus to reveal the Gospel, the faith, and the truth to the churches. The job of the churches, and specifically the bishops and elders, was to PRESERVE that truth, and everyone knew it.

      There was no pope at that time to decree doctrines to other churches. Thus Tertullian’s argument. He could never have argued from the unity of the churches if they all had a common source of authority that could decree doctrine. But because churches formed by apostles all over the world had preserved the same basic truths, it was surely because it had come from the apostles.

      Thus, my question would be, how did all churches, separately, wind up with the same doctrine that Jesus’s parable of the rich man and Lazarus was an accurate portrayal of reality except by the handing down of the apostles? Did the Greeks deceive churches in Spain, Italy, Turkey, the Middle East, Egypt, the rest of North Africa, and among the barbarians in Gaul and Germany all in the space of a century? Those churches all knew that they had to preserve apostolic teaching unchanged. Sure, men aren’t trustworthy, but were ALL the elders of all the churches so incompetent that they lost a teaching about men’s souls and then all fell into the same error? They were united on the existence of souls in Hades. I can search out quotes and references for you.

  4. Jon S says:

    Hi Paul,

    Thanks for your comments. It’s important to understand that the Bible never contradicts itself, there is one truth throughout. So for example, if you state that only God is immortal, and that immortality is only given to the righteous, we can’t then contradict that truth by stating that people will be alive forever in a place of torment. You’re believing two contradicting statements. If however we look at the Biblical usage of the Greek word ‘hades’ we can see that it is simply a grave, a place where people are buried. Until judgement, both righteous and unrighteous are dead. When Jesus returns, all are judged together, on the same day.

    If Hades is a fiery place of torment for the unrighteous, then those people who are there have been judged worthy of being there. Being sent to Hades would mean judgement has already taken place, which contradicts the statement that people are sent there before a judgement. However, if they are in fact dead and in a grave, the same fate that happens to us all, then they will be judged at the same time as we are, when Jesus returns. Is that unreasonable or incorrect?

    Your quote from Rev 20 does indeed say that hades gives up its dead, but that’s not all that it says. It tells us that the sea, death and hades will give up their dead for judgement. If hades is the grave, then that’s logically a place where the dead are. If hades is a place of torment, how did those who are in the sea escape going there? Do only the righteous die at sea? And if so, why aren’t they in heaven? Selective quotes don’t locate the truth.

    Your quote from Jesus’ parable is also incomplete. The rich man was also alive and conscious. He hasn’t perished. Jesus in John 3:16 says ‘he who believes in me shall not perish, but have everlasting life’. Are you saying that the rich man believed in Jesus to get this everlasting life? If you state that the doctrine of the immortal soul is of Greek origin, why contradict that statement by saying that the apostles’ churches taught it?

    There is one Bible but lots of churches, all of them believe different things. The Bible however has one truth. I’m not interested in modern divisions, or traditions. I’m interested in the truth of the Bible. Searching for the truth requires us to be humbly open to correction by scripture, and understanding provides confidence in what God is telling us. If you believe that people are alive after they die, then please advise how this fits with these contradictions. If you answer these questions, I will happily listen and be thankful to you for helping my search for the truth.

    • Paul Pavao says:

      I am curious why I had to approve this comment. Generally, after I approve one, the person is free to comment without approval unless I block them. That said, this comment is much better than the last one, thank you.

      1.) I didn’t say people are alive forever in a place of torment. I did say that the rich man, which implies others, is in a place of torment until the final judgment.

      2.) When we look at the Bible, it includes Jesus statement that “In Hades, he lifted up his eyes, being in torment.” It also includes, “You will not leave my soul in Hades.” It also says the casting of death and Hades into the lake of fire is the second death. Jesus, apparently while he was in Hades, “preached to the spirits which were in prison” (1 Pet. 3:18) and “to the dead” (1 Pet. 4:6). Generally, I would take preaching to the dead to mean preaching to the lost because we were all once dead in our sins, but in context, especially after preaching to spirits in prison, 1 Peter 4:6 sounds like preaching to souls in Hades. I’d say there is very strong case that in the New Testament that Hades is treated as a place where souls dwell, disembodied, until the resurrection and final judgment. This would also explain Paul’s statement that to “depart” is to be with Christ.

      3.) You wrote, “If Hades is a fiery place of torment for the unrighteous, then those people who are there have been judged worthy of being there. Being sent to Hades would mean judgement has already taken place, which contradicts the statement that people are sent there before a judgement.” This is accurate, of course. And as unpleasant as the thought is, it implies a sort of purgatory that one might be able to escape from before or at the final judgment. This would explain the casual references to praying for (not to) the dead at a very early time period (c. 200, in the writings of Tertullian).

      4.) Your complaint about my reference to Revelation 20 is just. I am happy to leave that out. I do hold out the possibility that “the sea” is a reference to all living people at the time, but that’s very speculative, so again, I am happy to leave that out.

      5.) In regard to the rich man not perishing in Hades, that does not make him immortal. Perishing happens at the last judgment only, when the lake of fire is the second death. Thus, there is no contradiction with the idea that only God is immortal and only the righteous receive eternal life.

      This all requires believing that souls live on apart from the body until the day of final judgment. As I read through the early Christian writings, that seems to be the universal belief of the churches. The Eastern Orthodox churches, which have done a MUCH better job of preserving apostolic tradition than the RCC has, has much more thorough explanations of this idea that the soul lives on until the resurrection of the good and the evil and the final judgment. While the RCC has completely failed in preserving anything, the Eastern Orthodox, despite some terribly additions to the once-for-all-delivered faith, has some amazing insights that they have preserved because they continue to look at Scripture and tradition.

      Anyway, the point is that souls existing until the final judgment has solid backing in Scripture and universal backing in church history. Actually, I think it has universal backing, it certainly is the main belief of the early apostolic churches. I’ve read 95%, at least, of all the writings up to and through A.D. 250, most of it at least twice, and it seems universal to me.

      Again, thank you for the arguments this time rather than the assertions. I react pretty badly to confident assertions because out of the hundred or so emails and comments I have seen that have nothing but assertions in them, you are perhaps the second, maybe the third, who has followed up with any arguments. That’s unique, so I am glad you did.

  5. Jon says:

    Thanks Paul, you are absolutely right that the doctrine of the immortal soul does not appear in the Bible. Further to your evidence, Ezekiel 18 also tells us ‘the soul who sins shall die’. After judgement then, we’re either granted immortality and live forever or we die forever. Living forever is on earth with Jesus and the righteous, and dying forever is dead.

    If we believe these facts as presented by God, we can see that there is no punishment after judgement, except to die, or perish, forever. The unrighteous aren’t burned or tortured, which you rightly say is an outrageous and evil thought, they die forever. Gehenna is the place outside Jerusalem where rubbish was burned, and it’s reasonable to say that a person can be burned to death. We can also reasonably see how Jesus used the false belief of the immortal soul, held by the Pharisees, to teach them a lesson in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. In the parable, both the rich man and Lazarus are alive and immortal, which is a Pharisaical belief. Jesus however preached the truth, that the unrighteous perish forever and only the righteous are given immortality.

    Thanks for sharing your findings.

    • Paul Pavao says:

      Thank you, Jon, but I marvel at your amazing confidence in stating something dismissive of the teaching of Jesus and contrary to anything ever taught by the churches. Jesus was not kowtowing to the Pharisees when he told the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. The churches founded by the apostles have believed since the beginning that there is a time in Hades until the judgment. “Soul sleep” is not taught by anyone except by modern divisions that typically reject many more things taught by Christ, the apostles, and the apostles’ churches. In Revelation 20, Hades is said to give up the dead that are in them. If that were all that was said about Hades, it could be understood both ways. It is not all. Jesus said that both Abraham and Lazarus were alive and conscious in Hades. The churches of the apostles, across the board, taught this. It would do you good to show less confidence when contradicting Jesus and the apostles’ churches. I am not sure what tradition you are speaking so confidently from and thus making yourself a great enough authority to contradict Jesus, but I reject your authority, and I want to make sure that is stated.

    • I just thought l’d better chip in and clarify that the Jon who replied here is a different Jon to me. From now on I shall always sign off as Jon B to differentiate.

      Jon B

      • Paul Pavao says:

        Yeah, that was obvious. You could only produce a comment that arrogant if you were writing a fiction novel. That kind of arrogance is not in you.

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