Is hell eternal, as most Christians believe? Let’s review a quick recap of what the Bible says in this regard.
THE SAVIOUR OF ALL MANKIND
1 Tim 4:9 “Saviour of all mankind, especially of believers.”
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Ø The word “especially” would seem to give a special place to those who believe, but note that Christ is the Saviour of ALL mankind.
THE WILL OF GOD
1 Tim 2:4 “God, who wills that all mankind be saved and come into a realization of the truth.”
Eph 1:11 “...Who is operating all in accord with the counsel of His will.”
Ø If it is truly God’s will that all be saved, and if he is operating all in accord with the counsel of His will, can the will of man or Satan thwart His plan?
FOR THE SAKE OF THE WORLD
John 3:17 “For God does not dispatch His Son into the world that He should be judging the world, but that the world may be saved through Him.”
John 1:29 “Lo! the Lamb of God, which is taking away the sin of the world.”
Romans 11:15 “Their (the Jews) casting away is the conciliation of the world”
Ø Israel is hardened for a time, and then all Israel will be saved. And, this hardening (casting away) is for the conciliation of the entire world.
EVERYONE … EVERY KNEE
Hebrews 2:9 “He (Jesus) should be tasting death for the sake of everyone.”
Phil 2:9 “Every knee should be bowing....every tongue should be acclaiming” (Is 45:23)
Ø God’s Word tells us that at some future time, at the end of this age, not only the elect (believers) will bow their knee, but every knee will bow.
I Cor 15:22 “As in Adam all are dying, thus also in Christ shall all be made alive.”
Romans 5:18 “Through one offense for all mankind for condemnation, thus also it is through one just award for all mankind for life’s justifying.”
Ø There are no limitations to the all who die thru Adam. How can we impose a limit on the all who are made alive in Christ? He died for the sake of all, and all will one day benefit. Can God’s purposes be thwarted?
Col 1:20 “Through Him to reconcile all to Him (making peace through the blood of His cross).”
Romans 11:30 “For even as you once were stubborn toward God, yet now were shown mercy at their stubbornness, thus these also are now stubborn to this mercy of yours, that now they also may be shown mercy. For God locks up all together in stubbornness, that He should be merciful to all.”
1 Tim 2:6 “One Mediator of God and mankind, a Man, Christ Jesus, Who is giving Himself a correspondent Ransom for all.”
John 12:32 “I, if I should be exalted out of the earth, shall be drawing all to Myself.”
Eph 1:9 “Making known to us the secret of His will (in accord with His delight, which He purposed in Him) to have an administration of the complement of the eras, to head up all in the Christ - both that in the heavens and that on the earth...”
Again, no limitation on the word all. At a future time Christ will head up all, for this is God’s will.
THE END OF THE AGES
1 Cor 15:26 “The last enemy is being abolished: death.”
Ø The penalty for sin was death. Now death itself is defeated and even abolished. The penalty for sin in God’s Word is not eternal damnation, but death ... now abolished!
1 Cor 15:28 “When all may be subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also shall be subjected to Him Who subjects all to Him, that God may be All in all.”
Ø As Eph 1:9 declares, Christ will head up all. Here in 1 Corinthians 15 we see that what follows is Christ Himself delivering to the Father all who are now subjected to Christ, so that the final outcome is God Himself becoming All in all.
Revelation 21-22 speaks of the kingdom which has come upon the earth .. a kingdom from heaven .. the kingdom promised by the OT prophets .. the kingdom proclaimed by John the Baptist and Jesus.
Ø Christ is seated upon the throne (Rev 21:5).
Ø Lake of fire--the second death (Rev 21:8)
Ø Israel is dominant
Ø Describes a physical kingdom upon the earth
Now note 1 Cor 15 - The revelation given to Paul. These events obviously occur AFTER the conclusion of Revelation.
Ø Christ yields the kingdom to God (1 Cor 15:24).
Ø Final enemy (death) is abolished (1 Cor 15:27)
Ø Jew & Gentile are joint heirs; neither is dominant
Ø Imperishable bodies (1 Cor 15:42)
1 Corinthians 15 describes The Consummation coming after the end of the ages, when the lake of fire (death) has accomplished its work, every knee is bowing, and God becomes All in all.
SOME MAJOR THINGS TO CONSIDER
Ø The word translated eternal in modern translations is actually aionian, from which our English word eon is derived. It represents an age with a beginning and an end ... not eternity. A thorough search of all instances where this word is used will show that it cannot be consistently translated eternal.
Ø The word translated hell in modern translations is actually a careless mixture of three different Greek words, none of which could possibly represent a place of burning, eternal torture. The most common term, hades, literally means unseen, and is the place where all go upon death, righteous or unrighteous.
Ø In many cases where God’s punishment is referred to, it is clearly remedial ... to refine the affected individual. It is not destructive, but a means to accomplish God’s will. (Much more consistent with God’s love!)
Ø There is a difference between the “evangel of the kingdom” proclaimed by John the Baptist, Jesus & Peter ... proclaiming the coming kingdom upon the earth -- and the “evangel of grace” proclaimed by Paul.
Ø If it is God’s will that all mankind be saved (1 Timothy 2:4), and if He operates all things in accord with the counsel of His will (Ephesians 1:11), then neither rebellious mankind nor Satan can thwart His plans.
Ø At the end of the ages, when death itself (the final enemy) is defeated (1 Corinthians 15:16), and when Christ delivers up the kingdom to God (1 Corinthians 15:28), and when God becomes All in all (1 Corinthians 15:28), this is the end of the ages as described in God’s Word. All sin and evil is finally and totally defeated forever, and all mankind is saved thru the work of Christ.
The original manuscript of the Bible is the perfect Word of God. There is much evidence to support this claim.
A translation should strive to relay as closely as possible the pure Word of God. A careful study will show, however, that our modern English translations are not “concordant,” or consistent. While the salvation message is preserved in most every modern translation (salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ), much of God’s revelation to mankind is clouded and misunderstood. A true study of God’s Word must go below the surface of our modern translations to examine the original languages.
“The Concordant Version” is a faithful and consistent rendering of God’s Word. Other study materials available from “Concordant Publishing Concern” help us to examine the Word of God in the original languages, without the benefit of an education in the languages themselves. Other good literal translations include Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible (Kregel Publications) and Young’s Literal Translation (Baker Books).
MOST MISTAKES IN UNDERSTANDING GOD’S WORD STEM FROM ONE OF TWO SOURCES:
Ø Use of a “discordant” translation that translates very inconsistently, and has bias built-in to the translation itself. Such translations are not really translations, but interpretations. (Nearly every English translation that is readily available today, including the Authorized Version / King James Version falls into this category.)
Ø Mixing all of God’s Word into one category, and forcing it to apply directly to us today … without considering the overall context. Who is the passage speaking to? What are the circumstances? Is this principle carried over to the present age, or was it strictly for the age during which it was delivered? We would be wise to consider the following, found in the preface to the 16th century version of the Bible by Miles Coverdale:
“It shall greatly help ye to understand Scripture
if thou mark not only what is spoken or written but;
To whom and by whom;
With what words and at what time;
Where, and to what intent;
With what circumstance;
Considering what goeth before
And what followeth.”