From my book entitled, "Eternal Torment: Image and Reality"
JESUS EXCLUSION PARABLES: WARNING FOR ALL MANKIND
Matt.25:31-33, 41-46; The
Parable of The Sheep and The Goats:
When the Son of Man
comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, He will sit on His
throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before
Him, and He will separate the people one from another as a shepherd
separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on His
right and the goats on His left... Then He will say to those on
His left, DEPART from me you who are cursed, INTO THE ETERNAL FIRE
PREPARED FOR THE DEVIL AND HIS ANGELS. For I was hungry and you gave
me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I
was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and ye
did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look
They will answer,
"Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or
needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?"
He will reply, "I
tell you the truth, Whatever you did not do for one of the least of
these, you did not do for me."
THEN THEY WILL GO
AWAY TO ETERNAL PUNISHMENT, BUT THE RIGHTEOUS TO ETERNAL LIFE.
Who is included in this
NOTE: The focus of the
previous "Church Age" exclusion parables was essentially on
servants - various classes of people within or on the periphery of
the church were included in most of these exclusion parables. But
this formal scene includes all humanity. This is perhaps the most
terrifying of all of Christ's parables, one that clearly pictures
doomsday and eternal separation.
Does this scene represent
the final (post millennium) judgment?
How do we know?
I think most
would agree that the judgment scene in this parable and resulting
punishment is final. The question is: Is the nature of this final
punishment a conscious experience of unending pain or could this
punishment simply represent destruction which is eternal in the sense
that there will be no recovery from it? Let's look at the passage.
POST READING ANALYSIS:
- Is Eternal Torment
explicitly taught in this parable? OR
- Is Eternal Torment
demanded by the imagery in this passage?
There are two basic images used in this passage that have been
traditionally interpreted to denote torment - "eternal
punishment", and "eternal Fire. Now I think it would be
fair to conclude from the text that Eternal Fire and Eternal
Punishment are equivalent terms because eternal punishment in this
parable is represented as a banishment into eternal fire. But do
either of these combinations necessitate conscious suffering?
WHAT ABOUT "ETERNAL
PUNISHMENT": Does the word "punishment" or the words
"eternal" and "punishment" together imply or
To Punish (according to
1. to impose a
penalty on for a fault or crime.
2. to inflict a
penalty for (i.e.. treason with death)
3. to inflict injury
on: syn. chasten, discipline, correct.
COMMENT: The Greek
"kolasis", used only twice in the New Testament, is the
word translated "punishment" in this text. Its primary
signification is to "cut off" or prune or lop off; its
secondary meaning is to restrain. 13
The primary meaning here would suggest
that while the righteous go to life, the wicked are forever deprived
of or "cut off" from life. 14
About kolasis, Fudge says;
The Septuagint puts
'kolasis' for mikshol, which means a
stumbling block that
leads to ruin. The word Jesus uses is
applied to the
Egyptian plague (Wisdom of Sol.11:13; 16:2; 24)
but also to their
death in the Red Sea (Wisdom of Sol.19:4).
It refers to
punishment by death in I Samuel 25:31 and Ezekiel
may certainly include conscious pain, as
in all the examples
above, but it does not have to. The same
word is applied to an
idol of wood or stone in Wisdom of
Solomon 14:10, which
says that, "that which was made [idol]
shall be punished
together with him that made it" 15
- Could the "eternal
punishment" of the wicked simply be
death" or "everlasting destruction"?
WHAT ABOUT ETERNAL FIRE:
We've come across this imagery before. But does "eternal fire"
clearly denote either conscious experience, or a continual burning
flame which causes endless suffering? Or could "eternal fire"
simply be a metaphor for eternal destruction? Interestingly, because
something is eternal/everlasting in scripture does not necessitate
endless perpetuity of action. For example, the scripture speaks of
"Eternal Judgment", Hebrews 6:2, not in the sense that the
final judgment scene will be reenacted day after day for eternity,
but that a final judgment will be made that will have eternal
consequences for the wicked.
- Similarly, rather
than denoting an endless process of ongoing
"eternal fire" be descriptive of a destruction
which is unending
in the sense that it is eternally irreversible?
- In other words,
could the consequences of the fire be eternal
and not the burning
punishment is not the clear teaching of the Old Testament, whether
one looks for it inside or outside of "hell". Eternal
torment is not unequivocally found in either "Hells" of the
New Testament, nor is it the clear message of Jesus' eschatological
teachings in the gospels. Could it be that the doctrine of eternal
conscious punishment will be established by the plain teachings of
the Apostles in Acts or in the Epistles? Let's Look and see: