Salvation 2.0: Part 3.1: From

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So what are we saved from?

Destruction

So what happens to those who don’t receive immortality/eternal life? Do they live forever, in perpetual, conscious torment? Or is there a second possibility? From the preceding readings, we would expect the damned to remain mortal — that is, not to last forever.

(Mat 7:13-14 ESV) “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.  14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

(Mat 10:28 ESV)  28 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 [gehenna, that is, a burning garbage dump].

(Rom 9:22-23 ESV)  22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction,  23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory– 

(1Co 3:17 ESV) 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple. 

(1Co 6:13 ESV)  13 “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food” — and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 

(Phi 3:18-19 ESV) 8 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ.  19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.

(1Th 5:3 ESV)  3 While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

(2Th 1:9-10 ESV) 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might,  10 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.

Now, “destroy” and “destruction” are terms used for such things as tearing down a temple or killing a person. They aren’t used of perpetual conscious torment.

“Eternal destruction” cannot mean that God will spend eternity destroying them because that actually would mean they would never be destroyed. Rather, “eternal destruction” really means that their destruction will be eternal — they’ll be destroyed to never be restored or, perhaps better translated, they’ll be destroyed in the next age.

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About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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27 Responses to Salvation 2.0: Part 3.1: From

  1. John says:

    Jay, I find this position interesting, being that for years I had not had any contact with Evangelical Christian teaching until the internet was available to me. As a liberal, I do not try to delve into the specifics of after life. For me, we die into what we have lived for; God and humanity or self and nothing.

    So, in your position, do those who experience eternal destruction suffer at all, for any amount of time, after death?

    Just a finale note on the idea of a literal hell. I once heard some one tell of the time a prison chaplain was trying to convince one of the inmates to accept Christ, and in his effort he mentioned hell. To which the inmate emotionally replied, “Do you believe that!!?? Do you really believe that!!?? If I believed that I would crawl on my hands and knees until they bled in order to convince people they should not go there!!!” Which makes a good point. Practically every one I know who believes in a literal hell as a correct theological point, does not approach the people in their lives as if they believe these people are actually going to be tormented in flame forever and ever. After all, they support politicians and enjoy musicians, who, if pressured in a Bible discussion, would admit that they believe that if these politicians and artists do not accept Christ according to the “truth”, would suffer eternally. Yet, that is the only atmosphere in which they express it. Of course, many would say that this does not nullify a literal hell. But I think it does. If it existed, we would have been given that sense of urgency that seems all too allusive, even for Bible literalists, as far as hell is concerned.

  2. laymond says:

    Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    Rev 2:11 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.
    Rev 20:6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
    Rev 20:14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
    Rev 20:15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
    Rev 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

    This pretty much eliminates the argument of an everlasting environment of flame described as hell, in which those who suffer the “second death” will be condemned to live forever.but it also bolsters the belief that hell is everlasting, meaning there is no escape, no other chance of salvation will be granted because the second death is an eternal condition.

    It goes without saying, I prefer the gift of God over the wrath of God.

  3. Nathan says:

    This is precisely the position of Hobbes. An eternal punishment is incompatible with the benevolence and mercy of God. Thus, there is no place of punishment, no eternal suffering, no literal “wailing and gnashing of teeth,” no lasting torment where one exists in the absence of God’s love. Indeed, the unsaved soul simply ceases to exist.

    Arguably, Hobbes’s teaching was politically motivated. With all the religious wars going on, he seemed to be saying, “Calm down. It just isn’t that big a deal. If you’re faithful, you’ll continue to live on a restored Earth. I’m sure it’s great. But if you miss out, so what? You are consumed, and it’s done.”

    I can’t say that I’m comfortable with the teaching. It seems to be the product of 17th Century Enlightenment views. “Eternal punishment” doesn’t mesh with the modern sense of justice. But what is the source of this sense? You see the doctrine among Jehovah’s Witnesses and Seventh Day Adventists. N. T. Wright espouses the view, and I think John Clayton and F. LaGard Smith are sympathetic.

  4. Chris says:

    Nathan, I don’t think the existence of hell is in question here, only the length and degree of punishment.

  5. Nathan says:

    I’m not suggesting that Jay (or Hobbes, for that matter) is denying the existence of Hell. Hobbes was redefining the concept. What is Hell? Is it a place of eternal punishment, or is the “punishment” simply ceasing to exist? Are there other options?

  6. Chris says:

    Jay, Ed Fudge’s book “The Fire That Consumes,” was a real eye opener for me, as I had been raised and taught the traditional view of hell. It’s really hard to come away from reading scripture with any other viewpoint now.
    It’s hard to believe that the vast majority of denominations still hold to this traditional view, despite the scriptural support for the alternative.

    With the billions of dollars spent each year on youth creams, plastic surgery, medicine, exercise, etc., there definitely is a great desire by many to keep youth longer and add extra years. Seems like the quest for immortality is more of a motivator than the fear of possible eternal punishing by eternal flames, but folks want immortality apart from the creator.

  7. Chris says:

    Nathan, I was responding specifically to the words in your post, “Thus, there is no place of punishment,” no literal “wailing and gnashing of teeth…”

    For anyone to go so far as to say there “is no place of punishment,” or even the absence of “wailing and gnashing of teeth,” in my opinion, misrepresent many of those who advocate for the position against the traditional view of hell and are just flat out wrong. Just my opinion. Does this make sense?

  8. Nathan says:

    Chris, I was merely summarizing Parts III and IV of Leviathan. I did not intend to misrepresent Hobbes’s views or the views of any other person who rejects the traditional view of Hell.

    I’m not entirely certain on this question myself. It does make sense that once something is destroyed, it is gone (unless it’s some sort of Promethean thing). However, there are a number of texts that do not say “eternal destruction” but “eternal fire.”

    In the end, I’m with laymond in preferring “the gift of God over the wrath of God,” however severe and lasting that wrath may be.

  9. Dustin says:

    From my universalist leanings, I have to disagree with annihilationism. The scriptures indicate that all things will be reconciled to God. I do believe, however, in a hell where all will eventually bow and confess Christ as Lord. Evil will be destroyed. As Aric Clark stated on Richard Beck’s blog, universal salvation is a matter of life and death and here and now. If all things will be reconciled, we must begin the tough work here of loving our enemies.

  10. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Dustin,

    I’ll be considering Universal Reconciliation shortly. (I’ve even read all that Richard has posted on the subject.) I’ll be happy to hear your thoughts.

  11. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Nathan,

    Regarding “eternal fire” and similar passages, consider —

    (Is 66:22–24 ESV) 22 “For as the new heavens and the new earth
    that I make
    shall remain before me, says the LORD,
    so shall your offspring and your name remain.
    23 From new moon to new moon,
    and from Sabbath to Sabbath,
    all flesh shall come to worship before me,
    declares the LORD.

    24 “And they shall go out and look on the dead bodies of the men who have rebelled against me. For their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.”

    Isaiah speaks of the fate of the damned, saying “their fire shall not be quenched” and “their worm shall not die.” Sounds very much like Jesus’ sayings regarding gehenna. And yet those sent into the unquenchable fire where the worm does not die — become dead bodies (NIV: “corpses”). When Jesus uses this sort of language, he surely expect his hearers to recognize the allusions to Isa 66 and interpret accordingly —

    The language of the prophets speaks of unending fire and rot and destruction, not to teach perpetual conscious torment, but to make clear (a) that the fires of God’s wrath cannot be put out and will accomplish their purpose (destruction) and (b) the shame of destruction will be evident to all and will never go away — that is, honor can never be restored . This was an honor/shame culture, and any real punishment had to involve shame.

    I sure don’t see Universalism in Isaiah — and this is the passage on which Jesus heavily relies in his descriptions of gehenna.

    (Mark 9:47–48 ESV) 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, 48 ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’

    In Mark, Jesus is actually quoting from Isaiah. In Matthew, the allusion is interpreted for the reader —

    (Matt 18:8 ESV) And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire.

    But “eternal fire” plainly means what Mark says, which means what Isaiah says. The fire is “eternal” because (a) it will be in the next age (aionios = eternal = of the next age) and (b) it will produce destruction and death that is eternal — that is, in this life, if you die, you might be resurrected to eternal life and live forever. But if you die in the next age, you stay dead forever.

  12. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Chris,

    Thanks. You’re quite right. Immortality is available from Jesus — only. That makes so much more sense than “you are immortal — now pick where you’ll spend eternity.” It forces us to start evangelism by explaining why God wants to send nice people to perpetual, conscious torment. It’s a tough sell.

  13. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Nathan,

    Punishment is AT LEAST separation from God followed by ceasing to exist. And I don’t know how long a damned person will suffer separation. Or if other punishments might be involved. But the texts are clear that punishment will be suffered, it will be proportional to wrongs done (not the same for everyone), and perfectly just.

  14. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Nathan,

    This has nothing to do with Hobbes. Or Universalism. I came to this position by reading the Bible. After I was convinced, then and only then, I read Edward Fudge’s book. This is the scriptures read with a good Greek/Hebrew concordance, some original language dictionaries, and some cross-reference resources.

    A big part of the work was checking NT allusions back to the OT — and the Septuagint in Greek is a great tool to see where NT words like “worm” and “unquenchable” pop up in the OT.

    How else would someone reach a true First Century understanding?

    I’ve not read Hobbes nor do I plan to. (I have read Calvin and Hobbes – more than once.)

    Wright and I are largely in agreement on the new heavens and new earth. He is not a Conditionalist regarding hell.

    In fact, I started my study from a study I was doing of heaven. When I realized that the general resurrection leads to a merged heavens and earth — a new creation — there was no place to put hell — except in the fires that would purge the heavens and earth. That is, rather than the earth being burned up and people shipped off to either heaven or hell, the Bible describes the earth being renewed and restored — beginning with fire. And if those fires destroy the unredeemed, futile, adulterated parts of creation, then surely that’s what happens to the damned.

    And from there, I began a word study on heaven, hell, Tartarus, Paradise, unquenchable, eternal, etc. There is no substitute for digging these things out for yourself. Takes time but it’s always rewarding. Every time.

    Then I read The Fire That Consumes. I already owned it, but I never bothered to read it because, well, it was so obviously wrong. But I was dead wrong.

  15. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    John asked,

    So, in your position, do those who experience eternal destruction suffer at all, for any amount of time, after death?

    Jesus is clear that gehenna is a place of suffering.

    (Luke 12:47–48 NIV11) 47 “The servant who knows the master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what the master wants will be beaten with many blows. 48 But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

    Among other passages.

    My own theory is that separation from God will itself be agony. But that’s just a theory.

    The quoted passage plainly teaches degrees of punishment — based on accountability for God’s will. Hence, God’s punishment will be perfectly just — whatever that means.

    Justice does not require no punishment — only punishment that is appropriate and proportional. Hitler suffers more than good people who die outside of Christ.

  16. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    John wrote,

    If [perpetual conscious torment] existed, we would have been given that sense of urgency that seems all too elusive, even for Bible literalists, as far as hell is concerned.

    We sure don’t act like we believe in hell, do we?

    I think the true doctrine of gehenna and salvation gives more than ample motivation for mission work — and it will so much easier if we don’t have teach a God who tortures good people forever.

  17. Larry Cheek says:

    Jay,
    Do you really believe that God will call anyone who does not obey the Gospel, “Good”?

  18. Larry Cheek says:

    Humans call people good or bad by their works, or a relationship developed between each other.
    Men who as far from God as possible many times have very good friends. Some are only good to each other and not anyone outside their click.

  19. Larry Cheek says:

    I have read a portion of Edward Fudges book, The Fire That Consumes. I also watched his movie. While watching it I learned from Ed as he embarked upon this work that he had an obsession about his childhood friend’s death in his pickup as he had never committed his life to Christ. All teaching at that time spoke of his friend being in Hell being tormented forever. He thought that was not fair, and spent many years searching out this information which allows his friend to just be burned up (rather than suffering forever). Some people see this as being a huge difference (burned to destruction or tormented forever) but is either one something you desire? Now if ED had been able to prove that translations of the scriptures were all translated incorrectly and God would not punish any one, he just excluded them from the benefits of his presence, the story would be of some value. I mean that would be to the human mind tolerable compared to the threat of eternal punishment.
    But, the human has no business attempting to question God’s judgement, that is really rebellion towards God. God is never to be judged by man.
    As I listened to the movie it told of the amount of time and effort that ED had deployed in his pursuit and I thought if only he had directed this much energy in teaching the Gospel to the lost he would be honoring God’s instructions and guiding souls to salvation. But the energy he was using was directed to a useless endeavor. You see it matters not which way man thinks it will be God will still do it his way and salvation is the only way for man to avoid God’s judgement.
    Jay, ED may have convinced you that you were dead wrong, but whether you were or not will not cause one sinner to be saved. Why would a man see that being burned to destruction was more desirable than being tormented for eternity.

    Then we come to the concept that this furnace was designed for the Devil and his angels.
    Wait a minute, exactly how many different sides is there in this war? Aren’t we told in scriptures that there is only Christ and Satan? Christ’s followers are to receive the reward he promises as the victor. What in the world would suggest that those who chose to be on the opposite side in this war not receive the same reward as their master? Just because men did not wholeheartedly serve in Satan’s army (they were luke warm) they will not be judged in rebellion of Christ/God?

  20. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Larry,

    I’m not following you. Are you saying that all people who are lost deserve perpetual conscious torment for their sins? I mean, does Gandhi deserve the same fate as Hitler? Does a 12 year old dying outside of Christ deserve the same punishment as Genghis Khan?

  21. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Larry,

    You are arguing in circles. You assume that you’re right and then argue how important it is to be right. But you’ve not said anything beyond that. Why is Edward wrong? Until you disprove his arguments, it’s way too early to say he wasted his time.

  22. Johnathon says:

    Jay has presented a very one sided view of this topic. That is his right, nor would I think he is obligated to present a fair argument for a view he does not hold. Those who are curious about this topic, I suggest read Two Views of Hell a Biblical and Theological Dialogue, written by Edward Fudge & Robert Peterson. Fudge, of course advocates conditionalism and Peterson advocates traditionalism. They each present their case and then respond to the other’s case. The book is very easy to read and both authors treat the other appropriate respect.

  23. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Johnathon,

    I entirely concur in your recommendation — except I would also read Fudge’s The Fire that Consumes — to get the full argument. Be sure you give Fudge a chance to give it his best shot.

    PS — For what it’s worth, John Stott, John Wenham, Ben Witherington, John Stackhouse, Jr., Clark Pinnock, and E. Earl Ellis are conditionalists. Scot McKnight publishes articles from others favoring conditionalism routinely, although I’m not certain whether he’s announced his own view. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2014/06/04/rethinking-hell-evangelical-conditionalism/

  24. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    PPS — Notice that when I cite authorities in this series, I do not cite to Fudge for grammar, Greek, or history, except where his views are easily checked (Phaedo is easily found and read on the internet, for example). When I’m looking for a definition of aionios (eternity) or soul or spirit, I’m citing to standard, very conventional Bible dictionaries. The pieces of the puzzle were all there already. It’s just a matter of noticing how they fit together.

  25. Larry Cheek says:

    Jay,
    You have hit the nail directly on the head in your response.
    ” I mean, does Gandhi deserve the same fate as Hitler? Does a 12 year old dying outside of Christ deserve the same punishment as Genghis Khan?”
    We have no rights to judge anyone’s life, we see their actions and their interactivity with mankind and upon this visibility we want to be a partner in administering God’s punishment for not obeying him. God has never judged man in that fashion. He judges man according to his rules, righteous judgement. Humans do not have that ability.
    As you have displayed, man wants to judge on a sliding scale, using their own guidelines. Think not? Even as you have suggested the variations above, where is the connections to God’s rules? God has never had a sliding scale of sins. In scripture many times God has rendered what man would consider horrendous punishments for what man would call a very mediocre sin. It’s not so much the magnitude of sin as you have suggested which we alter punishment for, God punishes for disobedience. Small sins in mans view does not get the same classification by God.

    Now, for Edward Fudge and all the other writers which have been mentioned, who have written volumes of documents attempting to explain what God said in scripture. It is not possible that any man can write enough words to alter the message in the scriptures in such a way that God will adapt to mans concept. Anyone can easily do word searches in scripture to locate what God’s Words say upon a subject, and the answers will be easily understood within even a portion of the whole volume of writings on that subject. But, notice the great volume of writings that have to be created by someone who apposes God’s direct statements.

    I have really enjoyed reading your work when you took us back to the scriptures and coordinated their content into a guideline for what God’s message meant. But, now you are doing exactly as you have indicated. You are, “Notice that when I cite authorities in this series”. Authorities! You are bypassing the only true authority, and promoting another man’s concepts, you are even promoting our study of these men’s documents. I do not believe that the scriptures that God authored are written in such a way that reading them should create such much confusion that only highly educated men can decipher the intent of God.
    You mention.
    “I’m citing to standard, very conventional Bible dictionaries. The pieces of the puzzle were all there already. It’s just a matter of noticing how they fit together.”
    But, they are not scripture, they are new to the scene, the scripture is self defining interlocked by God so anyone who studies it will understand his definition.
    Have you not read many definitions produced by knowledgeable men which differed with the scripture message?
    A message from The Wisest man in the World. Of course some translations tend to accent different parts of this message, read many of them.
    Ecc 12:8-12 ESV Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher; all is vanity. (9) Besides being wise, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge, weighing and studying and arranging many proverbs with great care. (10) The Preacher sought to find words of delight, and uprightly he wrote words of truth. (11) The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by one Shepherd. (12) My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh.

  26. Monty says:

    When one reads scripture he runs across many things that do not seem “fair.” Punishments that don’t appeal to our own sense of what a “fair” punishment should be. For example the guy who picked up sticks on the Sabbath must be put to death, stoned. Hum. Pick up sticks to build a fire and get stoned to death, something doesn’t quite add up in our shallow brains. Touch the mountain at Sanai and die, turn back and view Sodom-turn into a pillar of salt- well she was warned right? Try to keep the ark of the covenant from tipping over and falling and wham, you’re dead. Should he have let it tip over and fall on the ground? Then there is the whole thing about the Israelites going into villages and killing the babies we typically think of as innocent-and even the animals, too? Obviously there is something taking place here that we simply do not comprehend as fallen human beings. There is a sense of punishment that doesn’t “seem ” to fit the crime, at least to us. We try our best to grope for explanations and we come up with plausible sounding reasoning, but it doesn’t really satisfy our feelings that it seems to be, well,extreme. Stone to death a son who is rebelling against mom and dad? Which of us would do such a thing? Put to death those caught in homosexual acts? Some perhaps would, but not many, even of those who oppose it and think it to be gross and perverted. Send someone to an eternal punishment? I think you get the point.

    All of this isn’t an argument one way or the other for there being eternal punishment or not, only to say that God’s ways are not our ways. HIs thoughts are higher than ours. HIs sense of justice and right and wrong is often different than ours. Often by a lot. We should remember that.

  27. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Larry wrote,

    As you have displayed, man wants to judge on a sliding scale, using their own guidelines. Think not? Even as you have suggested the variations above, where is the connections to God’s rules? God has never had a sliding scale of sins.

    That is demonstrably untrue. We’ve already covered —

    47 “The servant who knows the master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what the master wants will be beaten with many blows. 48 But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

    The New International Version, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), Lk 12:47–48.

    There are great differences even in hell. .. He, too, shall certainly receive them, but they shall certainly be in just proportion, only few, ὀλίγας (πληγάς). As regards the final fate of these two and the number of their lashes compare 10:12–15; 11:31, 32.

    R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Luke’s Gospel, (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House, 1961), 710.

    13 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14 But it will be more bearable in the judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you.

    The Holy Bible: English Standard Version, (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Lk 10:13–14.

    14) Πλήν is again (v. 11) adversative, B.-D. 449: “nevertheless,” although such works were not done, and Tyre and Sidon did not repent, God will make the sentence on these pagan cities lighter than that on the Jewish cities as was already explained in v. 12.

    R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Luke’s Gospel, (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House, 1961), 577.

    Notice that Jesus promises a lighter punishment not because they repented but because they would have repented had Jesus preached to them! God knows the heart, and he knows contingent future possibilities. And he is perfectly just.

    The three occurrences of the identical phrase “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” occur in (1) a section of Mosaic legislation on the punishments for personal injuries (Exod. 21:12–36); (2) a series of laws surrounding the stoning of a blasphemer (Lev. 24:10–13); (3) legislation involving the witnesses needed to convict an accused person of a crime (Deut. 19:15–21). In each passage there are additional examples of the lex talionis (“hand for hand, foot for foot” in Exod. 21:24; “fracture for fracture” in Lev. 24:20; “life for life” in Deut. 19:21 and elsewhere). Indeed, the principle of “measure for measure,” illustrated with numerous body parts, permeates all portions of the OT (see the catalog in Shemesh 2005) but J. F. Davis (2005) disputes this. It is important, however, to recognize that the original purpose of this Hebrew legislation probably was to limit the amount of revenge that could be exacted for an offense and to limit the location of that exaction to a court of law (Childs 1974: 472; see Josephus, Ant. 4.35)

    G. K. Beale and D. A. Carson, Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI; Nottingham, UK: Baker Academic; Apollos, 2007), 26–27.

    In its day this lex talionis was, of course, a great advance. It meant evenhanded justice without respect of persons. No matter how great the offender, he could not escape just punishment, and no matter how small, no more could be exacted of him than his offense merited. It took punishment out of the realm of private vengeance, but Jewish practice tended to put it back.

    Leon Morris, The Gospel according to Matthew, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, (Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans; Inter-Varsity Press, 1992), 126.

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