"THE FIRST EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY" Jesus Christ, Our Hope (1:1) by Mark Copeland

Jesus Christ, Our Hope (1:1)


1. In reference to Jesus Christ, Paul uses a title which is very unique
   in the NT...
   a. He calls Jesus "our hope" - 1Ti 1:1
   b. Nowhere else is Jesus so described, other than in Col 1:27

2. Yet it came to be a precious title used by some in the early
   a. "Be of good cheer in God the Father and in Jesus Christ our common
      hope" - Ignatius, To The Ephesians 21:2
   b. "Let us therefore persevere in our hope and the earnest of our
      righteousness, who is Jesus Christ." - Epistle of Polycarp 8

3. The word 'hope' (Gr., elpis)...
   a. Means "a confident desire and expectation"
   b. Is closely aligned with the word 'faith' - cf. He 11:1

[In what way is Jesus 'our hope', our basis for 'confident expectation'?
Jesus is 'our hope'...]


      1. All have sinned - Ro 3:23; cf. 1Jn 1:8,10
      2. The consequences are grave - Ro 6:23
      3. People deal with this guilt of sin differently
         a. Some try to ignore it
         b. Others seek to compensate for it by doing good works
         c. Many look to different 'saviors' or teachers (the Law,
            Buddha, Mohammed, Mary)

      1. He is the "Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world"
         - Jn 1:29
      2. In Him we have "redemption through His blood, the forgiveness
         of sins" - Ep 1:7
      3. Christians place their hope in Jesus' blood as the atonement
         for their sins
         a. By believing and being baptized into Christ 
            - Mk 16:16; Ac 2:38; 22:16; Ro 6:3-6
         b. By continuing to repent, confess, and pray - Ac 8:22; 1Jn 1:7,9

[Is Jesus your 'hope' for salvation from the guilt of sin?  Unless you
believe in Him, you will die in your sins (Jn 8:24).  Jesus is also our


      1. It is something put in man by His Creator - Ac 17:26-28
      2. Many seek to fulfill this longing with the wrong things
         a. Trying to satisfy it with material things
         b. But such things only leave an emptiness - Ec 5:10
      3. Many seek to fulfill this longing in the wrong way
         a. On their own
         b. Through some man or man-made religion

      1. He is the only 'way' to the Father - Jn 14:6
      2. Only in Him can we really come to know God - Jn 14:7-9; cf. Jn 1:18
      3. In Him we are reconciled to God - 2Co 5:18-20

[Is Jesus your 'hope' for fellowship with God?  Without Jesus, you
cannot have a close relationship with God (1Jn 2:23; 4:15).  Jesus is
also our 'hope'...]


      1. Yet the ancient world admitted their inability to do so
         a. "We hate our vices and love them at the same time." - Seneca
         b. "We have not stood bravely enough by our good resolutions;
            despite our will and resistance we have lost our innocence.
            Nor is it only that we have acted amiss; we shall do so to
            the end." - Seneca
      2. Even the apostles described the difficulty of living godly
         a. Paul described what it was like under the Law - Ro 7:21-24
         b. He reminded Christians of the conflict between the flesh and
            the Spirit - Ga 5:16-17
         c. Peter wrote of the warfare between fleshly lusts and the
            soul - 1Pe 2:11

      1. In Christ we are freed from the law of sin and death - Ro 8:2
      2. In Christ we have strength to do that which is good, and turn
         away from evil
         a. Because of the Spirit of God - cf. Ro 8:11-13
         b. The means by which God strengthens the inner man - Ep 3:16, 20

[Is Jesus your 'hope' for power in holiness?  In Jesus there is strength
to do God's will (Php 4:13). Jesus is also our 'hope...]


      1. They worry about their food and clothing
      2. They desire basic contentment, with true joy and peace
      3. Jesus acknowledged this concern was common among men - Mt 6:

      1. His Father knows our needs - Mt 6:32
      2. Jesus provides the secret to God's care - Mt 6:33; Mk 10:28-30
      3. He also is the source to true joy and peace - cf. Php 4:4,6-7
      4. In Him there is contentment, knowing that God will supply our
         needs - cf. Php 4:11-12,19

[Is Jesus your 'hope' for God's providential care in your life?  If you
trust in your own riches, you cannot please God (Lk 16:13).  Finally,
Jesus is our 'hope'...]


      1. People try to avoid it, delay it
      2. Some try to ignore, even refusing to speak of the dead

      1. He came to deliver us from the fear of death - He 2:14-15
      2. This He did by His own resurrection, and continues to do
         through the promise of His coming again - cf. 1Th 4:13-18


1. Jesus is many things to those who love Him; let's make sure that He
   is 'our hope'!

2. Have you made Jesus your 'hope'?  If not, then you are still...
   a. In your sins
   b. Alienated from God
   c. Unable to live a truly righteous life
   d. Going through life without God's providential care
   e. Unprepared for death, not ready for the Judgment to follow

Why not let Jesus become your 'hope' today...?

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

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Does Hell Mean God Stops Loving? by Earl Edwards, D.Miss.


Does Hell Mean God Stops Loving?

by Earl Edwards, D.Miss.

The scholar Stephen H. Travis wrote that he considered an endless hell to be “vindictive” and “incompatible with the love of God in Christ” (1980, p. 135). Another author, John M. Wenham, has written, “I cannot see that endless punishment is either loving or just…. It is a doctrine which I do not know how to preach without negating the loveliness and glory of God” (1992, pp. 185-187). F. LaGard Smith has pressed the issue of “why” a “loving God” would “subject any of his creatures to endless torment, fully aware that we are…weak” (2003, p. 191). [Others who have taken similar positions include Edward Fudge (1982), Homer Hailey (2003; posthumously published), Jimmy Allen (2004), and John Clayton (1990), p. 20.]


It should be noted that each of these authors pits the love of God against the concept of endless punishment. Travis emphasizes in a special way that he is speaking of the “love of God in Christ” (emp. added). The others quoted would likely agree, since nearly all who study Jehovah God would concur that the fullest measure of His love was expressed in sending Christ to redeem men. In short, the objection is encapsulated in the concept that the God Who loved man enough to give Jesus to save him cannot be the same God who would consign disobedient men to eternal torment. This latter “god” must, therefore, be one that men have made up in their minds as a result of misunderstanding the passages that describe hell.


Indeed, it is true that God “so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16). And it was not just the Father Who loved us; the Son loved us and made His own decision to “give Himself up for us” because He walked “in love” also (Ephesians 5:2; cf. John 10:18).  And it is also true that His greatest emphasis as He preached on Earth was on God’s love: “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:17). However, in the same discourse two verses later, Jesus speaks plainly about judgment: “This is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds are evil” (John 3:19). The “judgment” to which He refers undoubtedly includes hell. In fact, David Pharr was very much on target when he wrote,
What will seem paradoxical to many people, however, is that this same Jesus [who was so loving] had much to say about eternal punishment. The most loving man that ever lived said more about hell than anyone else in the Bible. Indeed, the One who is himself divine love gives the most terrifying of all references as to the horrors of perdition (2005, p. 5).
Notice the dilemma of the authors quoted at the beginning of this article. They would contend God’s great love and eternal punishment cannot consistently dwell together. In fact, notice that Wenham said eternal punishment is “a doctrine which I do not know how to preach without negating the loveliness and glory of God” (p. 135). But his problem is that the same Jesus that He construes to be only about love also frequently preached on eternal punishment. Jesus knew how to “preach” “endless punishment” and that “without negating the loveliness and glory of God.” Maybe Wenham just needs to look at and listen to Jesus more carefully!
In fact, listen to some of what the loving Jesus said about hell (Gehenna):
  1. In Matthew 5:22, Jesus warns us to refrain from using abusive language against our brothers lest we “go into a fiery hell [Gehenna].”
  2. In Matthew 5:28-30, Jesus says that unless one resists the temptations of his flesh (eye, hand, etc.) his “whole body” will “go into hell [Gehenna].”
  3. In Matthew 10:28, He says rather than fearing the one who can only kill your body you should fear “Him [God] Who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell [Gehenna].”
  4. In Matthew 18:9, He again says one must control and resist the temptations of the flesh lest he “be cast into the fiery hell [Gehenna].”
  5. In Matthew 23:15, He warns the scribes and the Pharisees that they are making each of their converts “twice as much a son of hell [Gehenna]” as themselves.
  6. In Matthew 23:33, He asks those same scribes and Pharisees, “How shall you escape the sentence of hell [Gehenna]?”
  7. Mark 9:43 is a parallel to the Matthew 18 statement where Mark tells us Jesus said that one must resist the temptations of the flesh lest he “go into hell [Gehenna], into the unquenchable fire.”
  8. In Mark 9:45 and 47 (the parallel to Jesus’ Matthew 18:9 statement), Jesus warns that one must control his fleshly desires lest he be “cast into hell [Gehenna].”
  9. Luke 12:5 is a similar statement to the one in Matthew 10:28 in which Jesus says one should not fear the one who can kill only the body, rather the “One” who “has the authority to cast into hell [Gehenna].”
Indeed, the loving Jesus says a lot about hell (Gehenna)! In still other passages in which the word Gehenna is not used, He makes obvious reference to it. Observe how He describes it. In Matthew 8:12, He says that the “sons of the kingdom” who turn to disobedience “shall be cast out into the outer darkness [away from Christ—the Light of the world—EE]; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” In Matthew 10:15, Jesus makes it plain that “those who are cast into hell” will undergo a less “tolerable” fate than the infamous cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. The lot of those in hell will be worse than being burned up! In Matthew 22:13, Jesus again says that those who are judged to be disobedient will be cast into “outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Undoubtedly, “weeping and gnashing of teeth” indicate a great degree of misery. In Matthew 25:4, Jesus describes those who are condemned because they are disobedient as going “into the eternal [Greek aiōnion) fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels.” Later in that discourse (Matthew 25:46), He says the disobedient will “go away into eternal punishment (kólasin aiōnion).”


From Jesus’ descriptions of hell (Gehenna), it is clear it will not be a very desirable place.  But, those scholars quoted at the beginning of this lesson would say their objection is not to hell (Gehenna) as such, it is to hell as a place of unending, everlasting torment. That is the aspect they say absolutely cannot be reconciled with the love of God.
As noted above, Christ says the disobedient will “go away into eternal punishment (kólasin aiōnion); but the righteous into eternal life (zōēn aiōnion)” (Matthew 25:46). Respected Greek scholar A.T. Robertson notes that some scholars would try to limit the duration of the punishment described in this passage. But note his very insightful response:
The word kolasin comes from kolazō, to mutilate or prune. Hence those who cling to the larger hope use this phrase to mean age-long pruning that ultimately leads to salvation of the goats, as disciplinary rather than penal. There is such a distinction as Aristotle pointed out between mōria [vengeance] and kolasis [punishment]. But the same adjective, aiōnios [eternal], is used with kolasin [punishment] and zōēn[life]. If by etymology we limit the scope of kolasin [punishment], we may likewise have only age-long zōēn [life]. There is not the slightest indication in the words of Jesus here that the punishment is not coeval with the life (1930, 1:201-02).
The truth is, Jesus taught that punishment will be endless. [NOTE: For an extensive discussion on biblical terms related to the eternality of hell, see Lyons and Butt, 2005.]
D.A. Carson is correct when he points out that it is foolish to say that eternal punishment and the person and teaching of the loving Jesus cannot be reconciled. In fact, he asks, “Should it not be pointed out that it is the Lord Jesus, of all persons in the Bible, Who consistently and repeatedly uses the most graphic images of hell?” (1996, p. 530, emp. added). Another well-known Protestant scholar, Leon Morris, helpfully concludes, “Why does anyone believe in hell in these enlightened days? Because Jesus plainly taught its existence…. He spoke plainly about hell as well as about heaven, about damnation as well as salvation” (1991, p. 34).


But what is the real problem that causes some to reject endless punishment? It appears to be the same problem that Job had in the long ago. He mistakenly believed that all suffering was due to disobedience and he at first maintained that he had not sinned (at least not in a high-handed way). Therefore, he was tempted to conclude that the God of heaven was unjust and unkind. He, without fully realizing what he was doing, pretended to judge God’s actions. When God finally spoke with him, He asked Job a whole series of questions and Job could not answer even one of them. As Michael Brooks rightly says, though God’s answer “occupies four of our chapters, the argument is essentially finished after four verses” (1992, p. 147).  God says Job was speaking “words without knowledge” (Job 38:2) and asks him where he [Job] was when He “laid the foundation of the earth” (38:4). God asked Job many other questions for which Job had no answer. Job finally accepts that he had “declared that which he did not understand” (42:3), and then he says “I repent in dust and ashes” (42:6). He says this because he finally understood that God’s things “were too wonderful” for him to comprehend (42:3). He had been presumptuous (too proud and self-confident). How, indeed, can a finite being who can’t even see a millionth part of God’s Universe tell the great God who created it all how to define justice like Job tried to do? And, likewise, how can a miserable human who is guilty of sin—spiritual crimes—tell the God Who made him how long punishment can continue without becoming unloving? God forbid that we should be so presumptuous! Let us instead say to God with Job, “I will ask You, and You instruct me” (Job 42:4).


Indeed, as I let God “instruct me,” I will make up my mind as to His nature and His characteristics according to what He says in His revelation, not according to what I might think. I will not make up my own definition of what justice is or what love should do.
Now, following that path of His revelation of Himself, I learn that God is not just love, He is also a God of wrath. Indeed, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36, emp. added).  As Paul puts it, we should keep in mind “both the kindness [love–EE] and severity [wrath–EE] of God” (Romans 11:22). It is as the scholar J. Gresham Machen says,
The New Testament clearly speaks of the wrath of God and the wrath of Jesus Himself; and all the teachings of Jesus pre-suppose a divine indignation against sin. With what possible right, then, can those who reject this vital element in Jesus’ teaching and example regard themselves as true disciples of His? The truth is that the modern rejection of the doctrine of God’s wrath proceeds from a light view of sinwhich is totally at variance with the teaching of the whole New Testament and of Jesus Himself (1923, p. 12, emp. added).
God and Christ are not as uninspired men think they are. They are as they tell us they are through those inspired menwho were guided into “all truth” (John 16:13).


The truth is that the “love of God” which, according to some theologians, is inconsistent with “endless punishment,” is not the same “love of God” which is presented in Scripture.  As Carson says,
[T]his widely disseminated belief in the love of God is set with increasing frequency in some matrix other than biblical theology.... I do not think what the Bible says about the love of God can long survive at the forefront of our thinking if it is abstracted from the sovereignty of God, the wrath of God, the providence of God, or the personhood of God—to mention only a few non-negotiable elements of basic Christianity. The result, of course, is that the love of God in our culture has been purged of anything the culture finds uncomfortable. The love of God has been sanitized, democratized, and above all, sentimentalized (2000, p. 9; emp. added).
May God help us to accept our Maker as He is presented in the inspired Word, rather than making up our own version of Him. Our very soul depends on it.
*First presented and published as a part of the Freed-Hardeman University lectureship, February 2007.


Allen, Jimmy (2004), Fire in My Bones (Searcy, AR: Allen).
Brooks, Michael (1992), In Search of Perfection: Studies from Job (Searcy, AR: Resource).
Carson, D. A. (1996), The Gagging of God: Christianity Confronts Pluralism (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Carson, D.A. (2000), The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God (Wheaton, IL: Crossway).
Clayton, John (1990), Does God Exist? September-October.
Fudge, Edward (1982), The Fire That Consumes (Houston, TX: Providential Press).
Hailey, Homer (2003), God’s Judgments and Punishments (Las Vegas: Nevada Pub).
Lyons, Eric and Kyle Butt (2005), “The Eternality of Hell—Parts 1 & 2,” Reason & Revelation, 25:1-16, January-February, http://apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=561.
Machen, J. Gresham (1923), Christianity and Liberalism (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans).
Morris, Leon (1991), “The Dreadful Harvest,” Christianity Today, 35:34, May 27.
Pharr, David R. (2005), “The Teaching of Jesus,” The Spiritual Sword, 36:5-9, January.
Robertson, A. T. (1930), Word Pictures in the New Testament (Nashville: Broadman).
Smith, F. LaGard (2003), After Life: A Glimpse of Eternity Beyond Death’s Door (Nashville: Cotswold).
Travis, Stephen (1980), Christian Hope and the Future (Issues in Contemporary Theology)(Downer’s Grove: InterVarsity).
Wenham, John W. (1992), “The Case for Conditional Immortality,” Universalism and the Doctrine of Hell, ed. Nigel M. De S. Cameron (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).

Does God Hate Sinners? by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Does God Hate Sinners?

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

Most religious people agree that God hates sin. Over and over, the Bible stresses the fact that God despises iniquity. God told the prophet Jeremiah to speak to the Israelites about their sin, saying: “Oh, do not do this abominable thing that I hate!” (44:4). The Proverbs writer listed seven sins the Lord hates (6:16-19). The prophet Zechariah declared that God hates a false oath and evil done to one’s neighbor (8:17). Jesus Himself said that He hated the deeds of the Nicolaitans (Revelation 2:6). The Bible emphasizes that the Lord hates sin.
Some have suggested that God takes His hatred one step further. They believe that God hates the sinner as well as the sin he or she commits. It has been suggested that God loves those who obey Him, and hates all who disobey. Those who teach this idea use various Bible verses to “prove” their case. For instance, Psalm 5:5 says that God hates “all workers of iniquity.” Proverbs 6:18-19 says that God hates “a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren.” Is it true that God hates sinners and their sin?
Any person who has read the Bible understands that one of its greatest themes is love. The Bible says that God is love (1 John 4:8). It also explains that God showed His love to us while we were still sinners:
For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:6-8).
An interesting aspect of this passage is that it stresses that lost sinners were not “righteous” or “good” when Christ demonstrated His love for them.
In the narrative of the rich young ruler, Jesus explained that the young man lacked something necessary to be pleasing to God. Yet even though the young man was lacking and lost, the Bible says that Jesus “loved him” (Mark 10:21). When Jesus mourned over lost Jerusalem, He cried:
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! (Matthew 23:37).
Jesus said His affection for the lost inhabitants of Jerusalem was like a mother hen’s affection for her chicks. Such a statement obviously denotes love for the sinners in Jerusalem.
In one of the most well-known “love” verses in the Bible, Jesus said: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). God’s love for the lost world was shown before the lost believed in Jesus. John further explained this when he wrote: “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). From these verses it is clear that God loves lost sinners, and proved that love by sending Jesus.
How, then, can one reconcile the verses that seem to suggest that God hates sinners, but loves them at the same time? One of the most plausible solutions is that the Bible writers are using a figure of speech called metonymy when they write that God hates sinners. Metonymy is defined as: “A figure by which one name or noun is used instead of another, to which it stands in a certain relation” (Bullinger, 1898, p. 538). Bullinger further explains that metonymy can be “of cause,” when the person acting can be put in place of the thing that is done (p. 539). For instance, in Luke 16:29, the text says: “They have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them.” In reality, they did not have “Moses” or the “prophets,” but they did have their writings. The name Moses is a metonymy that stood for his writings, since he was the cause of the writings. In modern times, that would be like saying, “I hate Shakespeare.” Would the person who said that mean that he hated Shakespeare’s personality? No. We understand he would be saying he does not like the writings of Shakespeare, with no comment on the playwright’s personality.
If we apply that same figure of speech to the passages about God “hating sinners,” we can see that the sinner is put in place of the sin. Thus, when God says He hates “a false witness who speaks lies” (Proverbs 6:19), if metonymy is being used, then God hates the lies, and the one who is doing the lying (the cause) is put in place of the lies (the effect). It is interesting to see how clear this feature can be in other contexts. For instance, Proverbs 6:17 says that God hates “a lying tongue.” Does that mean that God hates a physical tongue, made of muscle and body tissue? No. It means God hates the sin that a tongue can perform. In the same context, we learn that God hates “feet that are swift in running to evil” (6:18). Again, does that mean that God hates physical feet? No. It simply means that God hates the sin that those feet can perform. It is interesting that while few, if any, would suggest that God hates physical tongues or actual feet, they would insist that God hates actual sinners and not the sin done by them.
When studying the Bible, it is very important to keep in mind that the Bible writers often used figures of speech. When we look at the idea that God hates sin, but loves sinners, the figure of speech known as metonymy clears up the confusion. Just as God does not hate physical feet or tongues, He does not hate sinners. These nouns are put in the place of the things they cause—sin.


Bullinger, E.W. (1898), Figures of Speech Used in the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker), 1968 reprint.

Does God "Create" Evil? by Wayne Jackson, M.A.


Does God "Create" Evil?

by Wayne Jackson, M.A.

[NOTE: During the February 12, 2009 Darwin Day debate with Kyle Butt, Dan Barker listed 14 alleged Bible discrepancies as evidence against God’s existence. He insisted (seven minutes and 25 seconds into his opening speech) that the Bible gives contradictory descriptions of God’s being good, yet creating evil. His allegation is refuted in the following article written by Wayne Jackson in 1982.]


The text of Isaiah 45:7 seems to indicate that God “creates evil.” Is this correct?
In Isaiah 45:7, the prophet wrote of God: “I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil; I am Jehovah, that doeth all these things.” On occasion, unbelievers appeal to this verse in an attempt to involve the Bible in a moral difficulty, since the text seems to suggest that God “created” evil. How should a Christian respond to such a charge?
First of all, the verse can have no reference to moral evil (wickedness) for such is opposed to the infinitely holy nature of God (Isaiah 6:3). Jehovah is a “God of faithfulness and without iniquity”(Deuteronomy 32:4). He is “not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness” (Psalm 5:4). Nor can it be supposed that this verse has to do with Jehovah’s original creation, for at the termination of the creation week, the Lord saw “everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31).
The context of Isaiah 45:7, along with several passages of similar import, reveals the truth of the matter. Jehovah—through the prophet Isaiah—prophetically announced to King Cyrus of Persia (a century-and-a-half before the monarch’s birth!) His intention of using this pagan king as an instrument of His holy will. Within Isaiah 45:1-7 is a majestic affirmation of the universal sovereignty of the Almighty God; indeed, there is none like Him (vs. 5). He thus affirms: “I form light, and create darkness [i.e., control nature]; I make peace, and create evil [i.e., exercise control over the nations]; I am Jehovah that doeth all these things.”
Notice how the word “evil” is used in obvious contrast to “peace.” Isaiah simply was stating that Jehovah has the power to cause peaceful conditions to exist, or to bring about evil (i.e., destruction). Consider another verse. God warned the Israelites that if they made an alliance with Egypt, He would bring evil upon them [i.e., punishment (cf. Isaiah 31:1-2)]. Again, in describing the coming judgment upon ancient Babylon, the prophet declared: “Therefore shall evil come upon thee; thou shall not know the dawning thereof and mischief shall fall upon thee; thou shalt not be able to put it away; and desolation shall come upon thee suddenly, which thou knoweth not” (Isaiah 47:11). Thus, the evil that God sent was a desolation—a desolation due on account of their wickedness!
Scholars have observed that “evil” can be used with a purely secular meaning to denote physical injury (Jeremiah 39:12), or times of distress (Amos 6:3)—which is its significance in Isaiah 45:7 (see Harris, et al., 1980, 2:855).


Harris, R.L. G.L. Archer, and B.K. Waltke, (1980), Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago, IL: Moody).

Does Death Imply Annihilation? by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Does Death Imply Annihilation?

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

In the New Testament, the fires of hell are described as the “second death.” The picture painted in Revelation 20 tells of a burning lake of fire in which the devil and all his cohorts will be cast, including wicked humans whose names are not written in the Book of Life. Verse 14 of chapter 20 declares: “Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.” The inspired writer James remarked that if one of the Christians turns away from Christ, and someone turns the wayward brother back, he will “save a soul from death” (James 5:20). James’ statement speaks to the fact that the sinning soul is destined for spiritual death. In John 6, Jesus described Himself as the bread that came down from heaven. Those who eat this “living” bread will “live forever” and not die (John 6:48-51,58). All who will not eat this living bread will die. Jesus’ comments here clearly refer to the second death in hell.


All those involved in the debate about afterlife issues understand that hell is called the second death, and that a person’s soul is said to die in hell. But what does the word deathactually mean? Those who advocate annihilationism put forth the idea that the word deathmust mean “to go out of existence.” Along these lines, F. LaGard Smith wrote:
Those whose names are found written in the book [of life—KB] will inherit life with God forever. For those whose names are missing, there is no lasting life whatsoever, tormented or otherwise. “Only death...[t]he second and final death....” As the greater weight of scriptural evidence indicates, the only option is eternal life versus eternal death. Blessed existence versus non-existence (2003, pp. 189,190).
From statements peppered throughout his book, and especially from the final two parallel sentences in this quotation, it is obvious that Smith defines the word death as nonexistence.
In truth, however, the concept of death as used in the Bible does not mean nonexistence; rather, it means “separation.” In regard to physical death, it refers to the separation of the soul from the physical body. In regard to spiritual death, in connotes separation of the soul from God.
The Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon gives the following primary definition of the Greek word that is translated “death” (thanatos): “(1) the death of the body (1a) that separation (whether natural or violent) of the soul and the body by which life on earth is ended” (“Thanatos:2505,” 1999). That physical death is viewed in the Bible as separation is evident from several scriptures. The inspired writer James offered the clearest picture of this idea of death when he wrote: “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (James 2:26). According to James, faith that is separated from works is a dead faith in the same way that a body which is separated from the soul is a dead body. Notice that a body separated from a soul is not a nonexistent body. On the contrary, the body still exists and lies lifeless, but is separated from the soul and thus presumed dead.
The narrative describing Rachel’s death in Genesis provides further evidence that the Bible depicts physical death as the separation of the soul from the body. As Rachel was giving birth to Benjamin, her labor became so intense that her life was in danger. The text reads: “Now it came to pass, when she was in hard labor, that the midwife said to her, ‘Do not fear; you will have this son also.’ And so it was, as her soul was departing (for she died), that she called his name Ben-Oni; but his father called him Benjamin. So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem)” (Genesis 35:17-19, emp. added). Rachel’s death occurred when her soul departed, leaving her physical body. Her body continued to exist for some time and was buried, but it was recognized as a dead body as soon as it was separated from Rachel’s soul, not when the body eventually decayed in the tomb. Here again, the biblical picture of death revolves around the concept of separation, rather than nonexistence.
Luke 8 contains additional evidence that separation of the soul and physical body is the meaning of physical death. Jairus came to Jesus pleading for the life of his sick daughter. While en route to the house, someone came from Jairus’ house explaining that the girl had already died. Jesus encouraged Jairus not to doubt, and continued toward the house. Arriving at the ruler’s house, Jesus sent everyone out except Peter, James, John, and the parents of the child. He approached the child’s dead body, took her hand and said, “Little girl, arise.” Immediately after this comment, the text states: “Then her spirit returned, and she arose immediately” (Luke 8:40-55). Note that both the girl’s body and her spirit existed at the time Jesus entered the room. Her body, however, was dead because her spirit had departed from it. When her spirit returned to her body, it was made alive again. Here again, the biblical text presents the idea that the concept of death is not one of nonexistence, but of separation.
John 19:30 provides another example that establishes physical death as separation of the soul and body. In the final moments of Christ’s life during the crucifixion, after all of the prophecies had been fulfilled, Christ cried, “It is finished.” Immediately following this last cry, the Lord bowed His head, and “He gave up His Spirit.” At this point, when His soul departed from His body, He (i.e., His body) was dead. Joseph and Nicodemus buried the dead (still existent) body of Christ, while the soul of Christ had departed.
Even after looking at these biblical examples, some annihilationists might continue to argue that physical death still means “nonexistence,” because those who die no longer exist in the physical world. But notice what the Bible describes as dead—the body. James says that “the body without the spirit is dead.” The body continues to exist for some time, but is said to be dead immediately when the soul leaves it. And the spirit is not said to be “dead.”
While the idea that physical death is defined by separation and not nonexistence is clear from the Bible, the idea that spiritual death is defined by a soul’s separation from God and not by a soul’s nonexistence is even more clearly set forth in Scripture. In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he wrote: “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world.... But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ...” (Ephesians 2:1-2,4-5). When the Ephesians committed sins in their unsaved condition, they were described as “dead.” Obviously, however, they were not nonexistent. They were separated from God by those sins. In fact, verse 12 of the same chapter says that during their time of sinfulness, they were “without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.” The Ephesians were spiritually dead in their sins. This spiritual death was a separation from God, Christ, and hope, yet it was not a state of nonexistence. In chapter four of the same epistle, Paul told the brethren that they should “no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God” (Ephesians 4:17-18). Those sinful Gentiles described here were in the same state of spiritual death as the Ephesians were before they became Christians. That death was an alienation (or separation) from the life of God, yet, here again, it was not a state of nonexistence.
The inspired Paul also wrote to Christians in Colossi, declaring, “And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses” (Colossians 2:13). Paul obviously did not mean that the Colossians had been physically dead in their sins. Neither did he intend to assert the nonsensical idea that at one time, while they were sinning, their souls were in a state of nonexistence. On the contrary, their souls existed, but were separated from God because of their sins, and thus they were labeled as dead. The Old Testament prophet Isaiah explained this principle clearly when he wrote: “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor his ear heavy, that it cannot hear, but your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear” (Isaiah 59:1-2, emp. added).
Paul presents very clearly in 1 Timothy 5:6 the idea that spiritual death is separation from God, not nonexistence. In this chapter, Paul instructed the young Timothy about which widows should receive assistance from the church treasury. In his discussion, Paul mentioned widows who trusted in God and continued in prayer. He contrasted those widows with one who “lives in pleasure” or indulgence of the flesh. Concerning such a widow, he said: “But she who lives in pleasure is dead while she lives.” As is the case throughout the New Testament, individuals who live in sin are considered spiritually dead. They are called dead by the Holy Spirit because they have separated themselves from God by their sin. The sinning widow continued to exist physically, and her soul continued to exist, yet she was called dead. The biblical picture of spiritual death is not one of nonexistence, but one of a miserable existence separated from God.
The antithesis of death is “life” (zoe). As we have seen from numerous passages, one way that the word “life” is used in the Bible is to describe the state in which the physical body is joined or connected to the soul of a person. Furthermore, spiritual life, the opposite of spiritual death, is used in the New Testament to describe the condition in which a separated soul is brought back to, and joined with, its Creator. Paul described this condition when he wrote: “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and irreproachable in His sight” (Colossians 1:21-22). Sin alienates one from God, and leads a person into spiritual death. God, through Christ, allows those dead, separated souls to be cleansed of that sin and have spiritual life, which reconciles them to Him. That is why John wrote: “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:12).
It is evident, then, from a close look at the Scriptures that the word “death” does not mean a state of nonexistence, either in the physical realm or the spiritual realm. The Bible describes bodies that were dead, yet still very much in existence. The inspired record describes individuals who were spiritually dead, yet existing in that dead condition nonetheless. The misguided ploy to define “the second death” (Revelation 20:6,14; 21:8) as a state of nonexistence is simply an attempt to get around the actual meaning of the biblical text. The second death describes nothing more or less than the total separation of wicked, unsaved souls from the God Who created them. Of all the wicked who will say to the Lord “in that day” (i.e., the Judgment Day), “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?” (Matthew 7:22), Jesus, the righteous Judge (John 5:22; 2 Timothy 4:8), will sentence them to their second death, declaring, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” (Matthew 7:23, emp. added). Of those wicked who neglect the needy, He will say, “Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41, emp. added). “Eternal destruction” awaits those who are cast away “fromthe presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (2 Thessalonians 1:9, emp. added). As both Jesus and the apostle Paul declared, the second death is not annihilation, but eternal separation “from the presence of the Lord.” Death in no way implies a state of nonexistence.


Smith, F. LaGard (2003), After Life (Nashville, TN: Cotswold Publishing).
Thanatos: 2505” (1999), Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems)

Lessons the Prophet Learned Too Late by Jimmy Crafts


Lessons the Prophet Learned Too Late

The Text

Please consider the following Old Testament passage:
And behold, a man of God went from Judah to Bethel by the word of the LORD, and Jeroboam stood by the altar to burn incense. Then he cried out against the altar by the word of the LORD, and said, "O altar, altar! Thus says the LORD: 'Behold, a child, Josiah by name, shall be born to the house of David; and on you he shall sacrifice the priests of the high places who burn incense on you, and men's bones shall be burned on you.' " And he gave a sign the same day, saying, "This is the sign which the LORD has spoken: Surely the altar shall split apart, and the ashes on it shall be poured out."
So it came to pass when King Jeroboam heard the saying of the man of God, who cried out against the altar in Bethel, that he stretched out his hand from the altar, saying, "Arrest him!" Then his hand, which he stretched out toward him, withered, so that he could not pull it back to himself.
The altar also was split apart, and the ashes poured out from the altar, according to the sign which the man of God had given by the word of the LORD. Then the king answered and said to the man of God, "Please entreat the favor of the LORD your God, and pray for me, that my hand may be restored to me." So the man of God entreated the LORD, and the king's hand was restored to him, and became as before.
Then the king said to the man of God, "Come home with me and refresh yourself, and I will give you a reward." But the man of God said to the king, "If you were to give me half your house, I would not go in with you; nor would I eat bread nor drink water in this place. For so it was commanded me by the word of the LORD, saying, 'You shall not eat bread, nor drink water, nor return by the same way you came.' " So he went another way and did not return by the way he came to Bethel.
Now an old prophet dwelt in Bethel, and his sons came and told him all the works that the man of God had done that day in Bethel; they also told their father the words which he had spoken to the king. And their father said to them, "Which way did he go?" For his sons had seen which way the man of God went who came from Judah. Then he said to his sons, "Saddle the donkey for me." So they saddled the donkey for him; and he rode on it, and went after the man of God, and found him sitting under an oak. Then he said to him, "Are you the man of God who came from Judah?" And he said, "I am." Then he said to him, "Come home with me and eat bread." And he said, "I cannot return with you nor go in with you; neither can I eat bread nor drink water with you in this place. For I have been told by the word of the LORD, 'You shall not eat bread nor drink water there, nor return by going the way you came.' "
He said to him, "I too am a prophet as you are, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the LORD, saying, 'Bring him back with you to your house, that he may eat bread and drink water.' " (He was lying to him.)
So he went back with him, and ate bread in his house, and drank water. Now it happened, as they sat at the table, that the word of the LORD came to the prophet who had brought him back; and he cried out to the man of God who came from Judah, saying, "Thus says the LORD: 'Because you have disobeyed the word of the LORD, and have not kept the commandment which the LORD your God commanded you, but you came back, ate bread, and drank water in the place of which the Lord said to you, "Eat no bread and drink no water," your corpse shall not come to the tomb of your fathers.' "
So it was, after he had eaten bread and after he had drunk, that he saddled the donkey for him, the prophet whom he had brought back. When he was gone, a lion met him on the road and killed him. And his corpse was thrown on the road, and the donkey stood by it. The lion also stood by the corpse. (I Kings 13:1-24)
Why was this story given to us?
For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. (Romans 15:4)
Based on this principle, we can conclude that there is a message in this story for us today!
We should note that at the outset of this story, we see a very courageous person as he relays the message of God to the wicked king, Jeroboam. The king had the power to put someone to death, who brought a message, which the king did not want to hear. In fact, verse 4 suggests that this may have been the king's original intention. However, the prophet did not know that God would intervene until it happened.
The prophet also had courage to refuse the good favor of the king. This was another act that could have caused him a problem, but he did not care, because God had commanded him not to accept anything, even bread and water, while he was in Bethel (13:8-9). He continued to show courage by initially refusing to accept the old prophet's invitation to come into his house and eat bread (13:16-17). But then, he let himself be deceived by the old prophet at a point in his life that he probably felt that he was the strongest. He was overcome by the little word, "lie". Verse 18 says, "But, he lied to him"!
In this article, we want to look at this man's mistake and hopefully profit from his experience. We want to learn the lessons early, which the prophet learned too late!

God Had Finished Speaking

Sometimes people have the same problem today. The Roman Catholics are supposedly getting new messages on a continuing basis. Their doctrine tends to evolve over time. The Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses, and the Latter Day Saints (Mormons), all indicate that they have received additional revelations through various individuals. However, the Scriptures indicate that God had long ago finished speaking:
Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. (Jude 1:3)
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (II Timothy 3:16-17)
I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:6-9)
I suspect the prophet of God rationalized his actions in his mind, because he thought the old prophet was speaking the message of God. But, the truth of the matter was that he did not.
As we study or talk with those, who we contact on a daily basis, they may indicate that they have been spoken to by God. We need to "test" the things they affirm, and of course, the only test or standard that matters is the established Word of God. If they believe or attempt to teach something different, then we know it did not come from God!

The Devil Has Camouflages

The prophet was bold before the king, because he knew the Devil was in him. However, the prophet of God never suspected that the Devil was also behind the old prophet! Through God's Word, He warns us of similar dangers for today:
"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them." (Matthew 7:15-20)
For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works. (II Corinthians 11:13-15)
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. (I John 4:1)
Test all things; hold fast what is good. (I Thessalonians 5:21)
Paul may have had reason to admonish the Thessalonians to "test all things", based on what is recorded about them:
These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. (Acts 17:11)
Those in Berea had received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily to verify the accuracy of the new teaching.
We all are usually able to resist the things that appear to be from the Devil, but we are often led astray by doctrine that appears to be good or righteous, taught by someone in whom we have great confidence. The length of time someone has professed to be a Christian, or how high someone may be held as "one who has preached the gospel for years and years", does not relieve us of the responsibility of testing the things they teach. We must know what God's Word says. We must not rely on what someone tell us it says, because the Devil has camouflages!

Feelings Deceive

From everything that we have studied about this prophet, I have no doubt that he felt like he was doing right! There are many examples of good people doing things or believing things that they felt were true but later found out that they were not.
Issac believed he was blessing Esau, because of the hair that Jacob had put on his hands and neck, but it was not Esau that Isaac blessed. It was Jacob (Genesis 27:1-38). Later, Jacob believed that his son, Joseph, had been killed by a wild animal, when he saw the blood-stained coat of many colors. But, Joseph was not dead. He had been sold as a slave into Egypt (Genesis 37:1-36).
Saul of Tarsus persecuted the early disciples in "all good conscience" (Acts 23:1), because he believed they were teaching religious error (Acts 26:9-15). But, Saul was the one, who was mistaken (Acts 9:1-8I Timothy 1:12-16). Therefore, we cannot trust our own heart or our own mind to bring us to the Lord.
The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9)
He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, But whoever walks wisely will be delivered. (Proverbs 28:26)
There is a way that seems right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. (Proverbs 16:25)
We must rather put our faith in the Bible and conduct our lives according to God's words given to us by Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:31-32)
By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. (I John 5:2-3)
We are living according to His desires when we "love God, and keep His commandments".

Believing a Lie Condemns

We noted earlier that in verse 18, the old prophet convinced the man of God that an angel had spoken unto him by the word of the Lord, saying, "Bring him back with you to your house, that he may eat bread and drink water." Notice the last few words of the verse, "He was lying to him".
It may have seemed logical to the prophet from Judah that the things the old prophet said were true, but we see in verses 21 and 22 that just because he believed a lie, God did not overlook his disobedience! God spoke through the old prophet and had him tell the man of Judah, "Because you have disobeyed the word of the LORD, and have not kept the commandment which the LORD your God commanded you ... your corpse shall not come to the tomb of your fathers." We need to understand that honesty and sincerity in worship is not all that counts.
On one occasion as Jesus reasoned with the Pharisees, his disciples came to him and said, "Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?" Jesus replied in Matthew 15:13-14"Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch." We should also remember Jesus' words in Matthew 7:21-23:
"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'
Sometimes we have a difficult time understanding this principle, when it comes to matters of religion, even though we understand it in our daily, earthly activities. We recognize that accidents often happen, because we believe things are different from what they really are:
  • "I looked but I didn't see the other car coming..."
  • "I thought I had plenty of time to stop..."
  • "I didn't know the road had ice on it..."
We know that good intentions will not keep us from being affected, if we do something that we did not intend to do. For example, if a woman got up and went to the kitchen to get some medicine, but she did not turn on the light to prevent waking her husband, and took poison by accident, she would still suffer the consequences of ingesting poison in spite of her good intentions.
Some one might say, "Why would someone believe a lie?". I think the little quotation that says, "What we wish, we readily believe", sums it up. If we want the Scriptures to teach something, we may easily believe a lie that justifies what we want to believe is true. We must guard ourselves from this type of prejudiced thinking and study.
The bottom line for this point is that we are all responsible for our actions. Jesus reminded His disciples that everything that they may have done would be made known, and Jesus concluded that they should fear the One Who not only has the power to kill the body, but Who also has power to cast our souls into hell (Luke 12:2-5).

Partial Obedience Is Not Enough

We need to ever keep before us the principle that all of God's commandments are important. Things may not seem to matter much to us, but if they were issued by God, then they are important to Him. As examples, please consider the following:
  • Nadab and Abihu - They offered strange fire, which God had not commanded. God killed them for their irreverence (Leviticus 10:1-5)
  • Uzzah - He touched the ark of the covenant to keep it from falling off the ox cart. However, God struck him dead, because he had no right to touch the ark (II Samuel 6:3-9I Chronicles 15:21315Numbers 4:5-615).
  • Achan - He kept some of the treasures from the city of Ai, which the Israelites were to leave alone. However, the Israelites were defeated in battle, and Achan and his family were destroyed, all because of his failure to completely comply with God's command (Joshua 7:1-26).
  • Ananias and Sapphira - They lied to the Lord. They sold their land and gave part of the proceeds to the church. However, they professed to have given it all. God struck them dead. (Acts 5:1-11).
For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. (James 2:10).
We need to respect God and keep his commandments to the best of our ability. Our respect for what He says is because of Who He is. We should regulate our lives by his total will. Partial obedience will not be enough!


All of the lessons this prophet learned too late are lessons that we need to keep before us each day. We need to remember that the prophet:
  • Showed great courage before the king, who was initially angered by the message
  • Was a good man
  • Was willing to leave his country and carry God's message
  • Initially showed courage by rejecting the request of the old prophet, so he did not let peer pressure persuade him
But, he ultimately failed to recognize some very important facts:
  • God had finished speaking - There was no new message for him.
  • The Devil has camouflages - The Devil may use blatant pressures from wicked people, such as the king, but he also uses people, whom would never be suspected.
  • Feelings deceive - I am sure that he felt like it would be all right for him to go with the old prophet, because he had demonstrated himself to have been a man of courage and conviction up to this point. However, his feelings led him astray in this temptation.
  • Believing a lie condemns - Even if the message is supposed to come from an angel of God, we cannot reject the established Word of God, because God has finished speaking. If we believe such a false claim, we will pay the consequence, just as did this prophet, who lost his life.
  • Partial obedience is not enough - God expected the prophet to do exactly what he had commanded him to do. The prophet failed in only one area, but that was not good enough.
Sooner or later, we will all learn these lessons. The question remains, "When?" If we have not already learned them, will we learn them now? Or, will we be like the prophet, who learned these lessons too late?
--Preached and annotated by Jimmy Crafts
Jimmy Crafts