Salvation 2.0: Part 3.11: David Bentley Hart’s “God, Creation, and Evil,” Part 4

grace5The fate of those without God before the Resurrection of Jesus

This may be overkill, but the question few people address in these sorts of discussions is the fate of Gentiles before the resurrection. Some of these people were doubtlessly good people (as humans perceive good). Some were just as evil as Hitler. There were great atrocities committed in ancient times, but some good things were accomplished as well.

And this leads to the obscure but important doctrine of the patience (or forbearance) of God — his decision to wait on us to repent rather than being done with us. It doesn’t seem that important of a doctrine until you view it through the lens of the covenants.

(Rom 2:4 ESV)  4 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?

(2Pe 3:13-16a ESV)  13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.  14 Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.  15 And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him,  16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. 

The idea that God was being patient, forbearing with the sins of the Gentiles up until the time of Jesus, makes sense of Paul’s speech at Mars Hill —

(Act 17:30-31 ESV) 30 “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent,  31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” 

And at Iconium —

(Act 14:16 ESV)  16 In past generations he allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways. 

In short, before the resurrection of Jesus, those outside of the special revelation found in the Law of Moses did not suffer punishment in the afterlife. When they died, they died a painless second death and died eternally, ceasing to exist — but they had no real chance to know God and so they suffered no real punishment for violating the general revelation of God.

But neither were they rewarded as though they were good people entitled to live forever with the Patriarchs. No, when they died, they died.

I have a friend from Walker County who says, “Dead like Rover; dead all over” — which is pretty cold sounding until you realize that the Second Death is not punishment, especially when the other choice is gehenna. It only seems like punishment because we’ve been raised knowing the hope of eternal life with Jesus — but we don’t deserve that — not even close — and losing it would be terrible only in the sense that receiving no presents on the quarter-versary of my birthday would be terrible. I don’t deserve presents and sure don’t deserve them quarterly. Receiving no presents only would seem terrible in a culture that gave presents every three months. In terms of cosmic justice, we all deserve punishment or we deserve nothing. No one deserves eternal life with Jesus.

The fate of the damned is the very definition of justice and fairness. There is no reason for the damned to live in eternal bliss with Jesus — and thinking that everyone deserves heaven is without scriptural warrant. And if they don’t deserve it, why condemn the idea of God refusing to give someone what he doesn’t deserve?

No, the hard problem is not that God damns. It’s that God saves. There is no justification for this at all. Even harder is that God elects — not in the Calvinist sense but in the national-history sense. God elected Israel. Some in Israel responded and are saved. Some did not, and they are damned. And the Gentiles were not elected. Rom 9 – 11 is clear, but so is Deuteronomy. And the Prophets. And Acts 17. But that has changed.

Another key passage is —

(Rom 3:22-25 ESV)  For there is no distinction:  23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,  24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,  25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.

This passage is well explained by —

We meet here a major problem of exegesis, to which two quite different solutions have been propounded. The problem turns upon the meaning of two Greek words, rendered in RV ‘because of the passing over’ (διὰ τὴν πάρεσιν). (i) It is sometimes held that the noun has the meaning ‘forgiveness’ (that is, it is a synonym of the similarly formed ἄφεσις). If this view of the noun is taken, the preposition must mean ‘with a view to’. Paul’s meaning thus becomes: Christ died and thereby demonstrated God’s righteousness in order to secure forgiveness. (ii) The alternative is to suppose that the noun means not ‘forgiveness’, the full remission of sins, but a mere ‘passing over’, or ignoring of sins—pretermission. If this view of the noun is accepted, the preposition may have its more usual meaning, ‘because of’, ‘on account of’. Paul’s meaning now becomes: Christ died and thereby manifested God’s righteousness because in the past God had merely overlooked men’s sins.

(ii) is undoubtedly the preferable alternative, for several reasons. That there is a real difference between the two Greek nouns mentioned above (πάρεσις and ἄφεσις) seems certain, and it is hard to see why, if Paul simply means ‘forgiveness’, he does not use the ordinary word. Further, (ii) provides better links between this point in the argument and those which precede and follow. The question is why God manifested his righteousness in an act of redemption in Christ crucified. The answer is: In the past he had overlooked men’s sins, and decisive action was necessary if his righteousness was to be vindicated. Paul goes on to speak of ‘his forbearance’; cf. 2:4; 9:22. The meaning is that for purposes of his own God has held his hand when he might have punished (cf. also Acts 14:16; 17:30).

C. K. Barrett, The Epistle to the Romans, Black’s New Testament Commentary, Rev. ed., (London: Continuum, 1991), 75.

God’s forbearance pre-Christ, his refusal to punish a sinful world before he provided them with a Savior in Jesus, is rarely commented on and often skipped entirely in even the best commentaries. Barrett is remarkable for facing the issue head on and in detail.

(Rom 9:22-24 ESV)  22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience [forbearance] 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 —  24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? 

Evidently, pre-Christ, those without Christ were “prepared for destruction,” but “destruction” means “destruction” not “perpetual conscious torment.” They died and ceased to exist. They did not suffer in the fires of gehenna.

Presumably, God allowed them to be born knowing that the time for Jesus had not yet come. Therefore, in his Providential forbearance, he held his hand. No punishment, not even — not especially — in the afterlife.

Thus, God was patient beyond justice, allowing Gentiles pre-Christ to avoid punishment (but not death and destruction) for their wickedness. But now he calls both Jews and Gentiles to be “vessels of mercy” so that both Jews and Gentiles may receive glory (9:23) — that is, live eternally in the presence of God.

Summary

It’s unfamiliar and hard, but it’s important. The reason Jesus hasn’t already returned is to give more and more people time to repent by choosing to love and to follow Jesus.

And it gives those of us who are Christians years to prepare for a world in which there will be no sin and no death — and in which we’ll be expected to get along. It gives us time to practice living the Sermon on the Mount.

And it gives us time to be vessels of mercy — not just recipients of God’s grace but grace-bearers who carry God’s grace to the lost just as Paul and Barnabas did 2,000 years ago.

And it gives us time to realize that the rules have changed. The stakes are higher. Salvation — eternal life with Jesus — is freely available for those who choose to know God and Jesus. But for those who do not, damnation is just as sure. God is now insisting that the nations repent — choose to follow Jesus — or else suffer just punishment for their sins.

We act as though as we’re being asked to teach an impossible lesson to an unwilling audience. But we have the easiest of all products to sell: Jesus. We don’t need to sell a rulebook or a religion or a theory of dispensations. It’s just whether Jesus is LORD. It’s a choice to know and so to love the most lovable of all persons.

And, in the end, it’s about theosis, becoming like God. That takes time, and so God doesn’t snatch us off to heaven out of the baptistry. Rather, he gives us time to spend time with Jesus and be changed.

(You know, I wonder whether some Christians will even enjoy heaven, since they so little enjoy worship and being with Jesus and his Spirit and fellow Christians, which is pretty much what we’re going to do in the afterlife. What makes them think it’ll be more pleasant just because it’ll last for-e-ver??)

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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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26 Responses to Salvation 2.0: Part 3.11: David Bentley Hart’s “God, Creation, and Evil,” Part 4

  1. Gary says:

    Jay, there is ample justification for God saving his own children whom he created in his own image. All people are God’s children. I believe it is the genealogy in the early chapters of Luke that goes all the way back to Adam and calls Adam the son of God. Do you have justification to love your own children? I feel sure you do. The God who is pictured running to reclaim his lost son in the parable of the Prodigal Son is surely justified in saving his own children. Your image of God is often too cold and clinical for me. I can’t reconcile it with the image of God in Scripture. Isn’t God at least as good a father as any of us? Who among us would not be justified in saving our own children?

  2. Chris says:

    Jay, just curious about the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. How would those listening understand (before the resurrection), the concept of hell and torment, if the idea were totally foreign to them?

  3. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Chris,

    The commentators largely conclude that Jesus was speaking in terms of a conventional Jewish parable well known among the Jews. He didn’t invent these elements. He worked within an existing familiar framework — rather as we like to tell jokes about Saint Peter being heaven’s gatekeeper — even if we don’t believe that Peter will literally have the keys to the gates of heaven.

    Both Lazarus and the wealthy man are apparently in Hades, though segregated (“far away”) from each other. Thus, while Lazarus is in a blissful state, numbered with Abraham, the wealthy man experiences Hades as torment and agony. This portrait has many analogues in contemporary Jewish literature, where Hades is represented as the universal destiny of all humans, sometimes with the expected outcome of the final judgment already mapped through the separation of persons into wicked or righteous categories.

    See 1 Enoch 22; 4 Ezra 7:74–101; cf. the helpful summary in Bauckham, “Hades, Hell.”
    This parable is often taken as instruction on “the intermediate state” (cf. Cooper, Body, Soul, and Life Everlasting, 136–39), often with reference to the state of a disembodied soul; or as a manifestation of Luke’s “individual eschatology” (Dupont, “Individuelle Eschatologie”; contra Carroll, End of History, 64–68). Although this text probably assumes an intermediate state (though this is denied by Dupont, “Individuelle Eschatologie,” 47), (1) it does so largely in order to make use of the common motif of the “messenger to the living from the dead” (on which see Bauckham, “Rich Man and Lazarus,” 236–44), only to deny the sending of a messenger; (2) the notion of the disembodied existence of a soul must be read into the story since the characters in Hades act as human agents with a corporeal existence; (3) T. Abr. 20:14—where the bosom of Abraham and his descendants are already in paradise, yet Abraham is to be taken to paradise—bears witness to the lack of precision in statements about the afterlife; and (4) neither Luke nor other Christian writers (like Paul) seem to think that discussion of the fate of an individual negates a more thoroughgoing apocalyptic (corporate, future) eschatology.

    Joel B. Green, The Gospel of Luke, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1997), 607.

    Jesus is referencing familiar, legendary materials.

  4. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Gary,

    Are you arguing for Available Light (good people who’ve never heard the gospel will be saved) or Universalism (all will be saved)? I assume Universalism.

    In the OT, God only refers to Israel as his sons.

    In the NT, Gentiles are adopted as God’s sons/daughters if they have faith in Jesus.

    (Gal. 3:25-26 ESV) 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.

    “We’re all God’s children” is not biblical language.

    On the other hand, God does love the world wish that all might be saved —

    (Jn. 3:16-18 ESV) 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”

    But the same passage that declares God’s love also declares the condemnation of unbelievers.

    Does it really matter how I feel about that? I feel that we need to send missionaries. I’m not going to rationalize my way into believing all are saved, absolve myself from the guilt of not helping save the lost as I should, and pat myself on the back for my kind and generous spirit.

    I feel that I want to be as much like God as possible — re-created in his image. And to be in his image, I have to want what God wants. Therefore, I want the world saved. Meaning I can’t believe that it already is.

    I’ve been involved in too many parenting counseling sessions where the parents thought that “love” meant indulgence and a unwillingness to confront the consequences of wrong behavior. I’ve seen what “love” does to children when they are treated as good when they are in fact not good at all. I’ve seen what the absence of punishment does to children. I’ve attended some of their funerals.

    So God loves his children — even his enemies among humanity — enough to die on a Roman cross for them. Because the consequences of sin are real, awful, and worthy of the price God paid. But he couldn’t be plainer that salvation is only for believers. Same passage. Same context.

  5. Richard constant says:

    well J and In my opinion you have jumped again to a conclusion.
    and of course I do that all the time.
    Although when I jump I know there is a high possibility / probability in the possibility of not being right / as a compared to being wrong.
    if I’m not mistaken it’s not the father that’s going to judge us.
    It’s a man that liveD with us. 33 years or so.
    And I think we can presume the type of life that he lived.
    so that when God passed over the sIns of the people in the past the Gentile people.
    maybe he might have thought that he wasn’t quite qualified to understand exactly what we Have to go through.
    what do you call that a Atonement or something like that right.
    now then we have a faithfully righteous Judge.
    Who suffered and live just like us.
    Will leave that for a little later.

    Now then when you look at Romans 5 and you see” sin is not imputed where there is no law”.
    But you see death.
    And of course that’s spiritual separation.
    my question is the word “Passover” the same word or meaning behind the word that is used in Egypt when the firstBorn. were killed by what I think is called the Angel of Death.
    And those that had the lentils covered the Angel of Death was to “Passover”…???

  6. Richard constant says:

    What I’m getting to here is the definition of faith that is listed in Hebrews 11

  7. Richard constant says:

    What is righteous faith as defined by the Hebrew writer as far as Abel is concerned.
    I think that runs back to the definition of patiently doing good in Romans 2 for the Gentile World prior and the God is no respecter of persons pretty sure that’s Romans 2 also
    which also comes from understanding the difference between good and evil Genesis 3:24 have a look at Noah and his son when Noah got drunk.
    Sin is not imputed where there is no law.
    and exactly what kind of a man was Noah.
    what kind of a man was Jacob what does his name mean
    Sin is not imputed where there is no law.
    how do you define.
    or better yet how does a merciful God define faith

  8. Gary says:

    W]e are God’s offspring” was spoken by Paul in Acts 17:29 to Gentile non-Christians. Offspring is defined as one’s children. How could all of humankind not be God’s children when “in him we live and move and have our being”? Without God we would have no being. We would not even exist. God brought us into this world and he is our ultimate origin. Even secular science teaches that all of humankind descends from one man. In the Genesis narrative that man is called Adam. If Adam is the son of God according to Luke how could Adam’s descendants not be God’s children?

    Even the word reconcile that is used so often in the NT of conversion reveals that all people are God’s children. By definition reconciliation cannot take place between two people who have never had a relationship.

    I would argue for either available light or universalism as opposed to your belief that all who have not yet come to Christ in this life will be annihilated. Available light can have a place even in universalism in being a factor that God considers in whether one is punished and purified before being reconciled to God.

    Of course salvation is only for believers and unbelievers are condemned. You’re right that it doesn’t matter how we feel about that truth. The question is whether condemnation for unbelievers is God’s final word. Neither of us believes that it is. You believe condemnation is followed by annihilation. I believe condemnation is followed ultimately by reconciliation to God through faith in Christ.

    Neither of us can prove our position beyond all doubt. It all comes down to the nature of our God. I see God as the loving father in the Parable of the Prodigal Son who never gives up on his lost son. He waits as long as it takes to welcome his lost son home. You seem to see God as having surrendered his power to show mercy to his own children who leave this world unreconciled to him.

  9. Richard constant says:

    Sorry Jay I should have known better.
    I find a spot on the window.
    Gary comes along and throws paint all over the whole window.Boy oh boy

  10. Larry Cheek says:

    Gary,
    You are claiming an inheritance for all humans from God because you see all humans as God’s children. But, Jesus denies that.
    Joh 8:37-47 ESV I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. (38) I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.” (39) They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, (40) but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. (41) You are doing the works your father did.” They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father—even God.” (42) Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. (43) Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. (44) You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (45) But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. (46) Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? (47) Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

    So what did you miss? You have missed the point that when a human is born, he is created by God and is one of his children, then when that child chooses to commit sin he dies (this death is the separation form God). Jesus also confirms this as he identifies those he is speaking to as now belonging to their father (The Devil) even though they are affirming that they were in the lineage of Abraham.
    Conclusion confirmed in many areas of the scriptures. All who have sinned and have not been born again are not of God but children of the Devil. Regardless of their belief that they are God’s children.

  11. Larry Cheek says:

    Jay,
    I am having a little trouble coordinating this message from Paul with the message you have presented.

    “In short, before the resurrection of Jesus, those outside of the special revelation found in the Law of Moses did not suffer punishment in the afterlife. When they died, they died a painless second death and died eternally, ceasing to exist — but they had no real chance to know God and so they suffered no real punishment for violating the general revelation of God.”

    “But neither were they rewarded as though they were good people entitled to live forever with the Patriarchs. No, when they died, they died.”

    Will these people be raised on The Day of Judgement? If so can we find them in the picture of the Judgment in Revelation? It is obvious from the presentation they will not be judged and will not be sent to the lake of fire. I would guess the second death spoken of would actually be the death of the body following the first death because of sin. Born once died twice, one spiritual, one physical.
    If these would be sent to the lake of fire and not be punished, how would that correlate with those sent to the lake of fire for punishment. Will the lake of fire be programmed to administer punishment to some and none to others?

  12. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Larry asked,

    Will the lake of fire be programmed to administer punishment to some and none to others?

    God will punish some and not others. But remember that immortality is a gift from God, not an inherent feature of the soul or human. Therefore, there is no reason that any human will be resurrected — to face punishment or receive bliss — except that God wills it. God can also will that those who are dead remain dead, never to rise again.

    Paul says in his Mars Hill sermon that things have changed. God is now insisting that Gentiles repent or else face punishment.

    (Acts 17:30-31 ESV) 30 “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

    So what would God’s overlooking during the times of ignorance look like? The simplest answer is that the dead are dead and they will stay dead. No lake of fire. No resurrection. No Judgment Day. Just dead.

    “But now …” things have changed.

    “He has fixed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness.” There will be a Judgment Day and those alive today will be there and will be judged.

    “Righteousness” can also be translated “justice.” Or “covenant faithfulness.” But to a Gentile audience of Greek philosophers, they would have heard “justice,” which fits what I’m saying.

    Yes, post-resurrection, people without Jesus are born once and die twice — once in this age and again in the next age.

    Post-resurrection, people with Jesus are born twice and die once. They live twice — once in this age and once in the next age forever.

  13. Larry Cheek says:

    I’ve never heard that discussed before. I always understood every eye that had ever lived would see him as in this verse.
    Rev 1:7 ESV Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.

    ““He has fixed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness.” There will be a Judgment Day and those alive today will be there and will be judged.”
    In this statement you identify that those (alive today) will be there and be judged. What about those who are not alive today? It is my understanding that you saying that all without Jesus who have died in this physical life will (not) be there and (not) be judged? That leaves only those living who had not accepted Jesus to be judged when he comes?

    It is obvious from the following verses that Christians whether dead or alive on that day will not be there to be judged.

    Joh 5:24-28 ESV Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. (25) “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. (26) For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. (27) And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. (28) Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice

    Then I understand that you are implying that no one from the time period prior to Abraham (the beginning of the promise, or God’s chosen people) will be there to be judged or any of the Gentiles prior to the resurrection of Christ. Seems to me then the only humans that have lived on earth that will be judged is the Jews or Israelites dead or alive and those still alive when he comes who did not accept Jesus.

    I see according to verses 25 & 28 above every human that had lived who was in a tomb will be effected by verse 25.

    “Yes, post-resurrection, people without Jesus are born once and die twice — once in this age and again in the next age.”
    But, a human that has not accepted Jesus has no life beyond this physical life, exactly like you mentioned here. How can he die twice?
    “But remember that immortality is a gift from God, not an inherent feature of the soul or human. Therefore, there is no reason that any human will be resurrected — to face punishment or receive bliss — except that God wills it. God can also will that those who are dead remain dead, never to rise again.”

    Then we have, “Post-resurrection, people with Jesus are born twice and die once. They live twice — once in this age and once in the next age forever.
    They really do not have two sessions of life as displayed in the example. Humans are born into this physical life when they sin they die, the first death (separation from God) and during this physical life when they accept Jesus the living physical body is then reunited with God by being (born again) restoring what was dead in this living body. This physical body then dies, but the spirit which was born again is immortal, never dies again. Point is that there is two deaths here also, one while the body is still alive.

    So now I have a problem with this terminology.
    “So what would God’s overlooking during the times of ignorance look like? The simplest answer is that the dead are dead and they will stay dead. No lake of fire. No resurrection. No Judgment Day. Just dead.”
    This statement is exactly opposite of the concept of “overlooking”. Overlooking is a parallel to not holding accountable. If your child was to disobey you and you saw him do it, you could chose to overlook that disobedience. This would mean no punishment for his disobedience. In fact it would mean that there would no record established of the disobedience. Well as we look at the relationship between God and his creation it is very obvious that Adam was held accountable for his disobedience but, the ground was placed under a restriction to not yield its fruit without sweat of Adams brow. God must have instructed Adam in the making of sacrifice, which was later identified as an atonement for sin. Cain and Able were involved in the same process.
    We are told in scripture that all men have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. If God overlooked this sin then man would not be condemned but would receive all the benefits, inheritance as if he had never sinned.
    There is two references that identify the same concept in the sentence above, even man does not hold ignorant men to the same standard as knowledgeable men, men overlook the actions of ignorant men thy are not held accountable.

  14. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Larry, consider —

    (Jn. 5:25 ESV) 25 “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.

    Perhaps the “and is now here” phrase suggests that this is a change, at least as to some. After all, Jesus couldn’t have meant that the dead would hear the voice of God today. That comes later. What comes “now” is the new order of things brought about by the ministry and work of Jesus.

    (Jn. 5:28-29 ESV) 28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

    I would take Jesus to be speaking of the Jews in particular, as it’s just not true that the dead Gentiles who did good will be resurrected. Jesus is referring to Dan 12 —

    (Dan. 12:1-4 ESV) “At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. 2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever. 4 But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.”

    Michael speaks of “your people” — the Jews. Hence, “the tombs” is a reference to the tombs that surrounded Jerusalem, dug into the holy mountain.

  15. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Larry,

    Regarding overlooking, if you overlook sin, that doesn’t mean that person gets to go to heaven. It’s a false dichotomy. There’s a third possibility — which is dead like Rover.

    You might interpret Paul’s speech at Mars Hill to say that the pre-resurrection Gentiles died, were not punished, and live in eternal bliss with God — even the most vile and cruel among them. But that’s sheer assumption.

    If you took the John 5 passages literally, you’d judge them based on their works — and they’d all be damned — because neither Jesus in John 5 nor Daniel 12 promises salvation. It promises judgment.

    But since Paul says the Gentiles pre-resurrection will not be punished, and then Dan 12 and John 5 must be speaking of the Jews in particular, because those passages speak in terms of punishment — and the context is the Jewish people.

    So the Jews are held accountable pre-resurrection per Paul in Rom 5 and these passages (which I appreciate your pointing out to me. They help.) The Gentiles are not. Those with faith/faithfulness/trust are saved. Just the Jews because no one else is in covenant relationship to treat faith/faithfulness/trust as righteousness.

    Therefore, the Gentiles either all go to live in bliss in heaven while some Jews are damned and some are saved (hardly a good deal for the Jews!) Or the Gentiles are simply not yet part of the salvation/damnation system. They die like Rover — which is how I read Acts 17 and makes sense to me.

    Now, perhaps I’m dead wrong. But every other option I’ve heard has far more serious problems.

    I guess the ultimate point is that we don’t have to escape to Universalism to have an outcome that fits the scriptures and a good God. There are other possibilities that don’t leave us with Hitler in heaven and “damned” meaning “not damned” and “destroyed” meaning “not destroyed” and “everlasting contempt” not meaning “temporary contempt.” I just rather like my words to mean what they mean.

    But I would not pretend that have had the final word. Someone else may think of something better.

  16. Richard constant says:

    you’re going to have to deal with the principle of Abraham a little bit better Romans 4 in conjunction with ,as a supplement to Romans the second chapter.
    which which ties into Genesis 3:24 looking towards Romans 5.
    and that takes care of judgement. and the contrast of the wrath of God to those people who changed the truth of God Knowingly Suppress the truth of God.
    which would take care of that cosmic Fellow SatanRom18-25
    what does the creature symbolize but nothing other than Satan the deceiver.
    again this idea could be developed easily.
    in light of trying to do God’s good in the second chapter Failing because of an unrighteous act but still having faith in the god of creation. in distinct contrast to those who do evil.

  17. Richard constant says:

    I’ll try not to drive this truck into the road block that you’ve set up at Romans 3:25 B, in conjunction with what Paul is saying an aCts on Mars Hill and the philosophy that he was dealing with which were the Stoics / Epicureans.
    and preaching a gospel of resurrection of the dead which is counterintuitive to everything that they believe.
    And a God that is shown to be actively participating in the development of this act through prophecy. to them not quite ancient history

  18. Richard constant says:

    The cross being an offense to the Jews and foolishness to the Greek
    it’s kind of like God just kick in the world in the nuts.
    we’re kinda like what Paul said I wish I was just be castrated.

  19. buckeyechuck says:

    Jay, I think I’m following you and am certainly weighing the plausibility of the annhilationist status. I’ll keep listening.

    One question I have is regarding God sending Jonah to Nineveh to convince their people to repent which they did. Just how does Nineveh (non-Israel people) fit with the discussion of those outside the realm of salvation? Wouldn’t any person, regardless of nationality (non-Jewish people) who lived “righteously” meaning seeking God and practicing good because of their recognition of the Creator, would have God’s grace available to them and the potential for eternal life?

  20. Randy says:

    if anyone is following Rich C. Please let me know. 🙂

  21. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Buckeye Chuck,

    I was just pondering Nineveh and Jonah today. Nineveh was the capital of Assyria, and the Assyrian Empire was an especially nasty lot. Brutal to subjugated people. So what does the text say?

    (Jon. 1:1-2 ESV) Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.”

    (Jon. 3:1-10 ESV) Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.” 3 So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, three days’ journey in breadth. 4 Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” 5 And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them. 6 The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. 7 And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh, “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink water, 8 but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. 9 Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.” 10 When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.

    God threatened Nineveh with destruction in this life: “Nineveh shall be overthrown.” The NET Bible translator notes say this language refers to a military defeat.

    Furthermore, the report on the repentance of the Ninevites says nothing about their conversion to Yahwism. The theological vocabulary of chapter 3 restricts itself to the generic term אלהים (ʾĕlōhı̂m, “god”). Unlike Second Isaiah, for instance, Jonah does not denounce foreign deities or proclaim Yahweh as the only God (cf. Isa 44:9–20; 45:14–25). Neither the theme of polemic against nationalistic Israel nor that of conversion for the nations accounts for the purpose of the book.

    Phyllis Trible, “The Book of Jonah,” in Introduction to Apocalyptic Literature; Daniel-Malachi (vol. 7 of New Interpreters Bible, Accordance electronic ed. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1996), n.p.

    We Christians hear “repent” and we think eschatological salvation is in mind, but Jonah is about repenting so that God does not send a foreign nation to destroy them — as the Babylonians eventually did (much later).

    So God clearly has an interest in the Assyrians — but not to save them as his chosen people. Rather, it seems more likely that God’s heart was touched by the cries of the people subjugated to Assyria – including some or all of Israel, the northern kingdom. Eventually, Assyria conquered and dispossessed the northern kingdom.

    Nineveh’s “trouble” (רעה) is left unspecified. But the reason for it is clear. The city’s evil ways (3:10) are excoriated at length in Nahum (esp. 2:11–12; 3:1, 19). As in Nahum, the intent is surely to suggest the cruelties of Assyria as a whole—not simply the capital city. Nineveh thus stands as a synecdoche for the brutally oppressive Assyrian empire itself. Nineveh’s (Assyria’s) “unceasing evil” (Nah 3:19) was so notorious that the narration hardly needed elaboration on this score.

    Douglas Stuart, Hosea–Jonah (Word Bible C 31; Accordance electronic ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1987), n.p.

  22. Gary Pearson says:

    Let’s not forget that there were people of God in OT times who were not Hebrews. Job and Melchizedek (and possibly Jethro) come immediately to mind. One scholar whose name I cannot now remember wrote that, from what evidence we have, the Edomites were faithful as a nation to God at least as much as was Israel. Some of Abraham’s family at least for a time may have worshipped the true God. It’s hard to think of Rebecca not knowing the true God before her marriage to Isaac.

    This is Gary. I’m using a new phone. I mention that in case a different name comes up.

  23. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Gary,

    The experts disagree as to Job — whether he was Jewish and when the book should be dated.

    Melchizedek is clearly a Gentile. Presumably, there were servants of YHWH in Haran, where Abram traveled from. But there is no evidence of these YHWH worshipers after the time of the Patriarchs. They disappear from the Bible and from history.

    Paul would readily concede that there were a few after Noah that continued to serve YHWH — and they were presumably saved for the same reason the writer of Hebrews declares Abel saved — by faith. Although we aren’t told much.

    But these people cease to exist around the same time as Abraham. By the time of David, Jerusalem is no longer a city that worships YHWH — and David conquers the city for God. Melchizedek was from Salem, generally taken to mean Jerusalem.

    So while the Torah speaks only of the Jews being elect, and there is nothing said about there being a covenant with these worshipers of YHWH, all we can say is up until some time shortly after Abraham, there were some people in Salem/Jerusalem and Haran who honored YHWH and so were presumably in a state of grace. But as I mentioned earlier, in Rom 5 and Eph 1-3, Paul is painting with a broad brush — speaking of the millions of Gentiles who did not know God, not the few exceptions here and there.

    Paul does not offer us a theology based on Melchizedek etc. Rather, he is speaking in general categories of Gentiles as a whole. And, of course, by the time he became a missionary, what was relevant to the Gentiles is that the gospel had opened God’s covenant with Abraham up to the Gentiles as described in Eph 3.

  24. Gary Pearson says:

    Jay, thanks for the response. The presence of Melchizedek as a priest of God in Salem (which could be seen as a forerunner of Jerusalem) is a reminder to us that God reserves the prerogative of working through unexpected persons totally outside of what we have any knowledge of from Scripture. After all, Genesis only tells us of the existence of Melchizedek. No foundation is laid for how a priest of God could have been apparently well established in pagan Canaan presumably before Abraham arrived. The presence of a priest of God in Salem implies a congregation also existed. Melchizedek may have been unique or there could have been a number of Gentile priests of God at various places in the ancient world.

    Melchizedek figures prominently only in Hebrews where he illustrates that God’s working even in OT times was not limited to the Hebrew people.

    I’m not aware of any commentators who believe that Job was a Hebrew although perhaps I’ve missed it. His offering sacrifices would seem to place him sometime before Moses. Some thought he was an Edomite but I think that view is no longer widespread.

  25. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Gary,

    I’m no Job expert. (Where is Bobby Valentine when I need him?) But the first commentary I checked said,

    All we can say is that Job could have been written at any time between Moses and Ezra. Our own opinion, which we admit we cannot substantiate, is that the substance of the book took shape during the reign of Solomon and that its normative form was settled by the time of Josiah. An Israelite, rather than Judean, setting for its most definitive stage, together with its location in northern Gilead, suggests a date around 750 BC, before this community was decimated by the Assyrian conquests.

    Francis I. Andersen, Job: An Introduction and Commentary (Tyndale OTC 14; IVP/Accordance electronic ed. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1976), n.p.

    In short, we can’t draw clear conclusions, except it seems that Job’s friends were likely not Jews. But esp. in the northern kingdom, it would not have been unusual for a Jew to have Gentile friends.

    Now, that’s regarding composition. But I agree that sacrifices were only made at the tabernacle after Moses — except in the northern kingdom, where alternative sites were provided contrary to Torah. Still, a pre-Moses setting makes a lot of sense but pre-Abraham seems unlikely to me. But no one really knows.

    Agree that Melchizedek had a congregation — or that there were other YHWH worshipers who required his services as a priest. And we know nothing at all of his priesthood, how it worked, or anything. Very enigmatic — which Hebrews has a little fun with to make a serious point.

  26. Dwight says:

    Not all sacrifices were made at the Temple, but only certain sacrifices for certain reasons at certain times. Solomon had his own altar set up where he made three sacrifices a year. And then the men on Jonah’s boat sacrificed to God and the people of Nineveh as an appeasement to God and they were heard. Converting to Judaism might not have been enough as the people of Israel and Judah often left God and sinned. All though the book of Judges there is a cycle of them turning back to sin and being punished and then again after they became a nation. There was a couple of time where God thought about wiping them off the map, but held to his promise. This promise probably did more to save them than anything.

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