The punishment of eternal destruction

This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you were considered worthy of the kingdom of God, on account of which you are suffering—6 since it is just in God’s eyes to repay those afflicting you with affliction, 7 and rest to you who are being afflicted with us, at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with the angels of his power 8 in a fire of flame, giving vengeance to those who do not know God and to those not obeying the gospel of our Lord Jesus, 9 such as will pay the just price of destruction of the age from the face of the Lord and from the glory of his strength, 10 whenever he comes to be glorified in his saints and to be wondered at among all who believed, because our testimony to you was believed, on that day.

The 9Marks site had an eJournal devoted to the “Awful Reality” of hell last year. Reading through the various articles in defence of the traditional interpretation goaded me into starting a general account of New Testament teaching on this thing which we wrongly label “hell” as part of my vaguely proposed “glossary” series. I got as far as Andrew David Naselli’s first point under the heading “How does the New Testament describe hell?” and realized that it was not going to be easy to keep matters concise.

Naselli bases his straightforward study on a “little book” by Christopher Morgan and Robert Peterson called What is Hell? The first of five truths about hell in the New Testament is that “Hell is punishment”, and 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10 is offered in support.

The “judgment” that Paul describes, however, in intensely apocalyptic language in this passage is not a post-mortem punishment of the wicked. It describes a visible, public, and therefore historical event, when those who persecuted the churches will “suffer the punishment of eternal destruction away from the presence of the Lord” (1:9). The context is quite clear. This is not a final judgment but the specific judgment of a culture that sought to eradicate the churches.

The most that is described here is the “execution”—the destruction—of the wicked opponents of the righteous king when he comes at his parousia to “inflict vengeance” on those who afflicted his loyal people. But Paul later speaks of the revelation of a man of lawlessness, “whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming”. This suggests a rather more symbolic “destruction” of the persecutors of the churches. The narrative expects the king to judge the persecutors, to bring them to nothing, and permanently to exclude them from his presence. The punishment is a destruction by exile.

A good gloss on this passage is found in Lactantius’ treatise on the death of the persecutors:

They who insulted over the Divinity, lie low; they who cast down the holy temple, are fallen with more tremendous ruin; and the tormentors of just men have poured out their guilty souls amidst plagues inflicted by Heaven, and amidst deserved tortures. For God delayed to punish them, that, by great and marvellous examples, He might teach posterity that He alone is God, and that with fit vengeance He executes judgment on the proud, the impious, and the persecutors. (De Mortibus, 1)

He then goes on to relate “what were the punishments by which the divine Judge, in His severity, took vengeance” on the emperors who persecuted the churches. Lactantius was something of an apologist for Constantine, but his argument is entirely biblical: God will sooner or later judge—that is, overthrow, in the arena of history—the powerful, idolatrous and unrighteous nation which destroyed Jerusalem and persecuted the saints of the Most High. Hell in the traditional sense has nothing to do with it.

paulf | Fri, 01/28/2011 - 19:28 | Permalink

One of the many ironic things that I learned when actually studying about the Bible in a scholarly fashion is that there isn't a single reference in any biblical writing about some of the most common christian beliefs, such as the trinity and immortal souls.

Really, there is no clear reference to hell, even in the NT, because it wasn't a concept that was alive when the books were written.

donsands | Sun, 01/30/2011 - 22:37 | Permalink

"..there is no clear reference to hell, even in the NT,"

There surely is. Do you have a concordance?


The sariest truth about hell is what our Lord says about it.

He says, you would be better off to pluck your eye out, sever your foot and hand, if they cause you to sin, and so eneter heaven with one eye, and hand and foot, rather than be cast into hell-fire.

Jesus said, "And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell."


And Jesus said other incredibly fearful truths about hell.

There certainly is a mystery about hell as well.

But, it is a place of great torment, and Jesus said to the son of perdition, you would be better OFF never being born. Very scary indeed.

Yet, I need not fear, for I am Christ's, and He saved me, and that's an eternal promise, praise His holy and powerful name!

Don, the problem is that the concepts that are sometimes translated in English Bibles with the word “hell” do not correspond to what we normally mean by the word. We understand “hell” to be a place of punishment after death. But this confuses two ideas that are actually quite distinct in Scripture.

“Hell” is used in the KJV, for example, to translate the Hebrew word for the place of the dead—Sheol, or in Greek Hades. This is little different to the “grave”; it is not reserved for the wicked; and there is no punishment or suffering there.

But “hell” is also used to translate the Greek word gehenna, which Jesus uses in the Gospels. In view of the Old Testament background to this term and Jesus’ frame of reference, I think it is clear that what he is talking about is not a place of punishment after death but the enormous suffering that the Jews would have to endure, as a consequence of their sins, as an outworking of divine judgment, during the course of the war against Rome in AD 66-70.

If we add these two thoughts together and mix them up, we get something like our notion of “hell”. But that is not what the Bible does.

"But “hell” is also used to translate the Greek word gehenna, which Jesus uses in the Gospels." Andrew


That's the hell I'm talking about. Jesus had a particular place in mind. And it would better to cut your own eyes out, to stay out of this place, where the Father destroys both body and soul.

Don, the particular place Jesus had in mind was not a place of eternal suffering after death. We are on much stronger grounds biblically if we suppose that Jesus uses the imagery of Jerusalem’s dead being thrown into the valley of Gehinnom in the same way that Jeremiah does (Jer. 7:30-33; 19:6-8) to convey the horror of the war that will be God’s decisive judgment on his rebellious, stiff-necked people. I realize that this is not the traditional understanding of Jesus’ words, but I think it makes much better sense both exegetically and historically.

I make the case in more detail in these articles:

Matt. 10:28 - The destruction of body and soul in gehenna

Lk. 12:4-5 - Killed and thrown into Gehenna

Why I don’t like systematic theologies: the problem of hell

Matt. 7:13-14 - The way of life and the way of death

donsands | Tue, 02/01/2011 - 17:04 | Permalink

"And do not fear those who can kill the body but are unable to kill the soul..."

"Whatever the enemies may wish to do, there is one thing they cannot do, namely, kill the psuche, that is, the soul, that part of man which is immaterial and invisible."


"...rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."


God will destroy the souls of the wicked. He will give eternal life to those souls who confess Christ before this dark world, and Jesus will confess us before His Father who is in heaven.


Jesus will return one day, and "before Him shall be gathered all the nations", and He shall "put the sheep at His right and the goats at His left", and He shall welcome the sheep into His kingdom, and He shall say to the goats, "Depart from me", and they shall go into everlasting punishment."


When you take Matthew 10 in context, it's hard to see hell as 66-70 AD.

God will destroy souls. He also saves souls, doesn't He. He certainly destroys the human bodies as well, in this age.

But the dead shall rise again.


"And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done."


The Rich man, who called upon Lazarus to come and put a drop of water upon his tongue will one day stand before the Lord, whom he denied. Though he is in hell now, and even hell will be cast into "the lake of fire".

This is a deep subject, and there are differeing views, and so I have shared mine, according to Holy Writ, not so much tradition.

Thanks for allowing me to study the Scriptures and share with you.

Have a blessed day in His truth and love.

Andrew, thanks for answering about hell because I didn't have the time.

Don, your comment about souls has the same issue. The word means something completely different today than it did when it was written. You see hell and think "Dante's Inferno," but n such concept existed when the writings were done.

Same with souls. The word now has a Greek context, an immortal part of the body that flies away to either heaven or hell at death. But the jewish concept was just a word for the whole person, the life force if you will. In Genesis, the animals are said to have souls, although the word is not translated as such in english bibles because it doesn't fit modern thology.

Jewish afterlife involved resurrection of bodies on earth. There is not  single verse in the bible that says on death immortal souls separate from the body and go to heaven or hell. Nobody thought that way until many years later.

"The word means something completely different today than it did when it was written."


I think it means exactly what Jesus meant it to mean then, and it is eternally true for us, and eternally.

It's not a difficult teaching, really. The body dies and is buried. The soul of those who have be born again go to be with the Lord. "Absent from the body, present with the Lord." 


Here's a truth for you from Jesus Himself:

"The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's side." Luke 16

"whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.  For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?  For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done."-Jesus

I think it would be accepted by most scholars now that the idea that the body dies and the soul goes to heaven is not a biblical one. The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary expresses the consensus:

As with other terms such as “body,” “heart,” and “spirit,” “soul” does not designate a part of a human being, but rather than whole person considered from one particular aspect of its functioning. As such, it represents primarily the life force of the body… or the inner life of the person, encompassing desires and emotions.

The popular dualism of body and soul appears to have developed under the influence of Hellenistic thought.

Jesus’ language in Matthew 10:28 probably reflects familiar martyr traditions. The general biblical thought is not that the soul goes to heaven but that the whole body is raised.

There is an expectation in the New Testament, consistent with this, that those who are martyred for the sake of Christ will share in his exceptional resurrection and exaltation to the right hand of the Father. That is Paul’s desire (cf. Phil. 3:10-11). He nowhere speaks of his “soul” going to be with God.

Apart from that specific context of martyrdom, I think the biblical teaching is that all humanity will be raised from the dead at a final judgment, at which they will be judged according to what they have done (Rev. 20:11-15). What follows that is not “heaven” but “new creation”. See Michael Patton’s post “QUESTIONS I HOPE NO ONE WILL ASK: WHAT WILL WE BE DOING IN HEAVEN?”, though I disagree with him about the so-called “intermediate state”. Death is simply death, the corruption of the body. We wait for the resurrection of the dead.

Once again, thanks. I had not read Eerdmans, but it seems we used the same phrasing, the "life force." It's so tough to tell people what they have been taught all their life about the bible is not so. Hell (gehenna) is not a fiery pit chained to demons for eternity, souls are not immortal, "Son of God" does not equate to divine, etc. and so forth.

I don't know anyone with whom I've so increasingly and comprehensively disagreed as Andrew, and yet enjoyed more than any other reading, digesting, and contributing to his site, along with the occasional get-together. How do you account for that?

It's so clear that there is an intermediate state. Who was Jesus speaking to on the Mount of Transfiguration, if they were not in a state in-between physical death and future resurrection:

"Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus." - Matthew 17:3

How else would Jesus have been able to say to the Sadducees, if there were no intermediate existence between physical death and future resurrection:

" - have you not read what God says to you, 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?' He is not God of the dead but of the living." - Matthew 22:31-32

(He did not say "I was" or "I will be", which he should have said if they were no longer, in some shape or form, alive).

What did Jesus mean when he said to the dying thief:

"I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise." - Luke 23:43

What did Paul mean when he said:

"For me to live is Christ, to die is gain . . I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far;" - Philippians 1:21, 23

There is a distinction between psyche and soma in gospels and letters; your psyche is not the same as your soma, and is not just a different way of describing the same thing. Sometimes the part of us which is soul is described as spirit:

"For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him?" - 1 Corinthians 2:11

"Even though I am not physically present (present in the body) I am with you in spirit." - 1 Corinthians 5:3

The existence of an intermediate state should not be surprising, since the resurrection is already at work in those who believe in Jesus.  John describes this as a two-stage resurrection: those who hear Jesus's word and believe have already crossed over from death to life (stage 1), and will be raised post mortem to live according to their good deeds (stage 2) - John 5:24-29. Jesus speaks so much of life in John, and eternal life (John 6:47), which means not dying (John 6:50), but living forever (John 6:51), John 6:54, 58. The parallels with the phrase translated forever, eis aiōna, show that the consensus of the translators is correct. It means forever.


Paul also describes a two-stage resurrection. To be alive with Christ is to be raised with him, and seated with him in heavenly realms - Ephesians 2:6, before physical death.

Paul describes the same in Colossians 3:1, 3

"Since you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God."

"For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God."

One could go on. The clinching argument is that those who are drawn into union with Christ through the Holy Spirit are not deprived of that union by any withdrawal of the Holy Spirit at physical death, only to have it restored at some later date when the body is raised from the dead.

As Andrew knows, I do not find any evidence for an exceptional physical raising of the martyrs from the dead where he finds it before the resurrection of all the dead. The martyrs share in a pre-physical death resurrection which is common to all believers, martyred or not, as the texts cited show.

What follows physical resurrection is the completion of the new creation on earth, which began in Jesus with his resurrection from the dead,  and is conveyed to each believer through the sharing and imparting of his life into their lives.

It is because of the mixture in each of us of the decaying and the non-decaying, that we should hesitate to relegate to the topography of 1st century Jerusalem all references to spiritual torment, and especially those references in which the non-mention of Gehenna discourages any thought of the physical topography of the valley of Hinnom where the dead are buried, eg Matthew 8:12, Matthew 13:42, Matthew 22:13, Matthew 24:51, Matthew 25:30.

The lake of fire prepared for the beast and false prophet - Revelation 19:20, a place of torment "forever and ever" (eis tous aiōnas tōn aiōnon- see above) - Revelation 20:10, is described as "the second death" - Revelation 20:14, ie the death beyond physical extinction, into which are thrown those whose names were not found in the book of life - Revelation 20:15, and into which go all kinds of people now and in the future - Revelation 21:8, to experience "the second death", mentioned for the second time here, which far from being a place of extinction, is the place where lasting torment is experienced alongside the beast and false prophet. Mere metaphor? Whatever else this sounds like, metaphor or not, it does not sound like peaceful extinction.

Peter, if Jesus actually was quoted correctly in his conversation with the thief, how could that be true? Jesus was in the grave for three days, so he could not have been with the thief that day.

Now you may say I'm being picky, but yes that is my point. When you take odd bits of the books and try to develop larger points that are not being addressed, you can find anything. That's why we have Amish and Pentacostals and a zillion denominations who emphasize whatever strikes their fancy.

Because others can point to many more references to verses that seem to show the opposite. Take the dead who were allegedly raised and walking around when Jesus died. They were unconscious in their graves and were awakened to a physical state.

Peter in the first sermon in Acts refers to David as dead and in the grave. Ecclesiastes says the dead know nothing. Paul says in Corinthians that only God is immortal -- so if humans are immortal, Paul is wrong.

One can duel forever with competing bible verses. But taken in context, there is a clear development of thought about the afterlife. Certainly it wasn't even an issue in the early books of the Hebrew bible -- it as just assumed that there was no afterlife. The reward for obeying God was prospering on earth. The afterlife is brought up in the late OT period in Daniel. Jews wondered why they were not being rewarded for being obedient to YHWH, so there developed a belief that they would be rewarded in the future. In the NT, the clear plurality of belief is that there will be a resurrection of the righteous dead, who will awake from sleep.

In the famous Thessalonians passage in which Paul describes the second coming, the dead will rise from the grave and meet Jesus in the air coming from heaven (note that they won't be coming down from heaven with him).

With reference to the passage in Colossians you quote, that verse is taken by many scholars as evidence that the book was not Paul's work, because Paul insisted in clearly authentic writings that christians were not yet raised with Christ.

Now I don't profess to know what will happen to us after death. But trying to reconcile books written at different times by people with different beliefs is impossible.

paulf:  You leave holes in your arguments and your posts are erroneous.

#1  Your first paragraph.  You don't know where Jesus's soul/spirit was during those 3 days.  "God is Spirit."  You seem not at all Godly but so earthly; as if the creation matters more than the eternal Creator.  God  Part 2's BODY was in the tomb; but after all "Jesus" was also called "the Word of God made flesh", "Wonderful Counselor", and back in the 50's AD; the second part of the Trinity!

God, is all powerful, and omnipresent.  He could easily have been in "Paradise" with that thief that day after his earthly death.  You limit God to an incredible extent.  And what I'm showing is IN CONTEXT.


#2  You said, "..zillions of denominations believe in whatever suits their fancy."   ????   These several denominations believe very strongly what they believe with deep roots in their deep beliefs.  Which is something you seem to have an utter, complete lack of;  fervent belief. 

What I've demonstrated here is that you say whatever 'strikes YOUR fancy.' 


#3  Your 3rd paragraph.  You say:  "....said that the dead were raised and walking around when Jesus died."  Everyone knows that the believers in GOD'S words were RAISED from the dead TO HEAVEN.  This is totally in context.  Most of what Jesus talked about was the this life didn't matter, it was all ETERNITY that mattered.  (That there is no comparison between the two.)  "Do not worry about what you're going to wear or eat [in this life].  However, seek first the kingdom of HEAVEN . . . . . . . . "   -Jesus.  Well, what we eat IS the #1 human instinct; SURVIVAL....!!   Jesus couldn't have made stronger OR HARSHER statements . . . . . . 
"Let me first go and bury my father."  --Another most sacred thing to us on this earth.......   And Jesus:  "[Oh] let the dead bury their own dead.  You come NOW and preach . . . the kingdom of heaven..."  Again He couldn't have made harsher statements about how much the NEXT life matters. 


#4  Your 4th paragraph:  Paul, you are using examples from the OLD covenant to compare with the totally superseding NEW covenant.  "Old Testament with the New Testament."  Ecclesiastes and what Peter proclaimed just doesn't fit, man.  Jesus made a big deal of THIS too.  "It's like trying to pour new wine into old wineskins." !!   Everyone knew just how ridiculous this was to ever try.


And elsewhere in your posts, you are completely mistaken;  you again try to apply old covenant passages to the new.  And the moment Jesus died on the cross, the shroud of the Temple was torn in two; more than symbolizing that the Old Covenant was at that moment fulfilled in Jesus Christ.   (Maybe that's why He said on the cross, "It is done.")  This further lends to my earlier point of the boundless power of God, the Trinity.

The endless point I think that needs to be made in response to your other posts: is that the "idea" of heaven and hell came totally to fruition WITH Jesus- in that time.  (NOT with the later development of the church, or some such thing.)  BY the early 60's AD, Paul was talking about how Jesus tried to save people from everlasting destruction- (just as a sacrifice of lamb.. atoned for the Jewish people in the OLD covenant...........).  BY the early 60's the extremely early apostles were proclaiming heaven and hell (and "salvation through Jesus Christ" "the Savior" . . .)  The reality of heaven and hell was REVEALED at this time from Jesus through warnings.  And everyone please make NO mistake.  There is nothing more EFFECTIVE than warnings in keeping people out of hell.  NOTHING, BY FAR.  Just as a father yells at his child about putting his hand in a flame on the stove with harshness, so does the HEAVENLY FATHER harshly warn us about unending fire ("where the fire is not extinguished").  In both cases, nothing is more effective . . . . .  And God does NOT exaggerate.  "I am the way, the TRUTH, and the LIFE. ......."  Many people are so blind to even the basic ways of GOD (revelation to keep us safe); they look at mostly the physical properties that govern THIS universe- and say,  "How could it be that bad?"  "It's too harsh."  For THIS one universe yes; but even astro-physicists say that (even) other universes have COMPLETELY different physical properties and laws that govern that universe (so different than ours- which people falsely base their assertions on).


I hate to sound arrrogant -- well, maybe not, I'm from New Jersey -- but you should really talk to people more on your level of education, like a second-grade Sunday School class. Andrew, I apologize for the tone, but I don't have your patience and good nature.

Since you drew attention to this comment:

1. Do Moses and Elijah really appear or is this a visionary event? Elijah was not resurrected but taken directly into heaven before his death; there is a Jewish tradition about the assumption of Moses, too. They do not constitute good evidence for a general intermediate state.

2. Matthew 22:31-32 does not mean that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had already been raised from the dead—in fact, belief in a personal resurrection in Judaism before Jesus is not at all evident. The point is much more likely to be that God is primarily faithful to his living people, which is the meaning of the quotation form Exod. 3:6: he is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, therefore he will deliver his people. The most the saying would imply is that the patriarchs will be raised at a final resurrection, but I doubt that’s what Jesus meant.

3. I have said what I think about the penitent thief and paradise here.

4. Paul’s ad hominem comments in Philippians 1:21, 23 presuppose his statement in 3:10-11 that he desires to suffer fully as Christ suffered—that is, to the point of death—in order to share in his resurrection. That looks exactly like a martyr theology.

5. In John 6:44 Jesus says that he will raise up those who come to him on the last day. Resurrection is from the dead or from the grave. Even in this context the assumption is that those who have received everlasting life now will die and then be raised up on the last day. There is no argument here for an intermediate state between death and resurrection as far as I can see. It is the dead who are raised, not spirits in heaven.

6. The fact that Paul can speak of a symbolic resurrection (eg. Eph. 2:6; Col. 3:1, 3) before death has no bearing on the question of whether there is an intermediate state.

donsands | Fri, 02/04/2011 - 03:54 | Permalink

"Now I don’t profess to know what will happen to us after death."


Jesus rose from the dead. Do you believe this?

Why do you ask? So if I say anything other than what you believe, you can dismiss everything I say because I am an infidel or heretic? I care about this stuff because I thought the bible was 100% true. But the fact is that if you studied even a little, you would find out that the original intent of the authors has very little do do with the beliefs that developed.

I do not profess to know the mysteries of life after death. Anyone who thinks he knows is fooling himself or a liar. What the bible teaches about the afterlife of people not named Jesus is both sketchy and inconsistent. Why didn't god say to Adam and Eve or Abraham or Moses: "I am the triune God the father, son and holy spirit. Believe that the son portion of me will die for your sins and your soul will go to heaven when you die."(?) That would have cleared things up nicely. But the author of Genesis didn't believe there was an afterlife, and didn't believe the soul was separate from the body because he referred to animals being souls. Why do you think that is (was)?

First of all, I did not say what I believe because it is not relevant to the discussion of what the bible says. I pointedly declined to state my personal opinion.

And spare me your stupid prayers and stop being so insufferably sanctimonious. You want to discuss scholarship, I'm happy to oblige. If you want to preach at me, bugger off.

Paul, I was going to delete your response, but it’s probably already been read by too many people and quite possibly by Don. I appreciate that you dislike Don’s “sanctimonious” response, but I don’t see how your rudeness rises above that. I have actually greatly appreciated Don’s involvement in discussion here precisely because he comes from a very different point of view, shown not least by his pastoral and evangelistic concern.

I have argued in other contexts that if we are to make progress in dealing with current theological rifts, we need first to learn to listen to each other. You’re coming at this from somewhere outside the intramural conversation, and although it’s important for the church to understand how our words are heard, I would still ask you to show more respect for people like Don for whom the question of belief is more important than the question of understanding.

"...I would still ask you to show more respect for people like Don for whom the question of belief is more important than the question of understanding."


I appreciate that Andrew. But Paul doesn't desire to answer my short and sweet questions.

I do live by faith, as the word of Christ tells us to, you're correct, that faith comes by hearing the Word, and then understanding comes as we believe the truth of Christ's Word.

I have been cussed out a lot worse before by unbelievers. And the worse were the King James Only people. They can be quite nasty.


Not that i haven't been nasty, for I have. I even say bad things to those I love most, like my awesome wife.


I appreciate you allowing me to share my heart. If people share what is in their heart, that is all I can hope for. Then, if we venture to look deep into the truth of God's word together, God the Holy Spirit will convict, encourage, and enlighten our hearts, and renew our minds.

When it comes to hell; one has to keep in mind Paul's injunction that the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life...

God told Adam and Eve not to eat... or they will die...not that they will go to hell. 


donsands | Sun, 02/06/2011 - 04:59 | Permalink

"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." -Paul, the chief sinner, who Christ came into the world to save, deliver, justify, sanctify, redeeem, love, regenerate, and make His own.

Jim Hoag | Sat, 02/26/2011 - 18:37 | Permalink

Andrew,  Interesting post on Rob Bell by Gospel Coalition's Justin Taylor. Pretty strong attack against Bell. Maybe similar in vitriol to Pyromaniac's on McLaren. There's also a two minute video of Bell talking about heaven and hell. Very interested in your take on it. Thanks.

I enjoyed this post and especially the comments by Andrew who rightly sorts out the various terms Sheol, Hades, Gehenna, and so on.

When I did word studies on these in the Bible, it led me to see the afterlife in an all new - and biblical - way.  For thing, it demonstrates that everyone is going to heaven.  I have laid this out - including the parsing of these terms - at The Biblical Case for Everyone Going to Heaven.

Mike, I appreciate your comment, but I can’t agree with your view that all who die will go to heaven. I think the universalist argument generally gets the biblical perspective back-to-front. The default position all the way through is that death and destruction are the inevitable judgment on human sinfulness, whereas life in the face of that is exceptional. That surely follows all the way through to the end, with John’s vision of a lake of fire that is the second death. More importantly though, your thesis (I read it hastily, so I may be mistaken) appears to have no place for a covenant people who are chosen out of humanity for a particular purpose. I don’t see how we can speak biblically about resurrection without taking the historical existence and vocation of this people into account.