Bible Threatenings Explained
By Gary Amirault
The Loss of the Son of Perdition
Recently, I received the e-mail message reproduced below:
"Isn't it interesting that Jesus himself said:
John 17:12 "While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost EXCEPT the one doomed to destruction so that the scriptures would be fulfilled."
So HE LOST even while He was here with them. According to your doctrine, as I understand it, you have then said HE MISSED THE MARK and thereby became the greatest of sinners...way back there. What a strange doctrine.
Are you sure, my friend? Are you sure?"
Now what is so strange is that I never accused Jesus of being the world's greatest sinner. As a matter of fact, what I said was that people like himself, who do not believe Jesus will save all mankind are calling Jesus a sinner. I wrote the tract to prove that Jesus was not a sinner. This man had lost his ability to read. His doctrines had so twisted his mind that he projected upon others his own errors! Since this man has in his mind that Scriptures like the one he quoted above, mean that there are those who will be lost and go to eternal punishment, therefore he thinks I am calling Jesus a sinner. His problem is with what he has added in his mind to the above Scripture, which is actually not in the Scripture. When this man sees the word "lost," he automatically pictures a place of eternal torment from which there is not hope of escape. This man is reading the Scriptures through pre-conditioned eyes that see things in words which the original languages do not convey. Let's use this man's twisting of Scripture to learn a few things about how to "rightly divide the word." Below is the first page of the tract to which this man responded:
Is Jesus the World's Greatest Sinner?
TO SIN: STRONG'S CONCORDANCE NUMBER 264-GREEK-HAMARTANO-"TO MISS THE MARK (AND SO NOT SHARE IN THE PRIZE), TO ERR." HEBREW-STRONG'S NUMBER 2398-FROM THE ROOT, "CHATA-TO MISS."
What was the purpose of Jesus Christ's death and resurrection?
- God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (John 3:17)
- Who comes down from heaven and gives Life to the world. (John 6:33)
- The Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives but to save them. (Luke 9:56)
- And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself. (John 12:32)
- As you have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as you have given Him. (John 17:2)
- The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand. (John 3:35)
- God, Who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, Whom He has appointed heir of all things, through Whom also He made the worlds. (Hebrews 1:1,2)
His purpose is very clear: to reconcile all things back to His Father. (Col. 1:16-20)
According to Scripture, Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, created all things, reconciles all things, is Heir of all things, has authority of all things, will have all men to be saved, His grace comes to all men, He takes away the sin of the world, He gives His flesh for the life of the world, He is the propitiation for the sins of the world, whose gifts are irrevocable of which life is one of the gifts, He manifested to put away sin, He preached to the spirits in prison and holds the keys to death and hell, who changes not, He is Lord of both the living and the dead, he will destroy all enemies of God the last one being death, Who made all things alive, Who completes the work the Father gave Him to do, Who restores all things, gave Himself a ransom for all, He takes away the curse and said He came to do the will and work of the Father who wills that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth so that God, the Father may be all in all! I could lengthen this paragraph considerably, but I think the point has been made.
Jesus said He finished the work and accomplished His purpose which was also the Fathers purpose...to be the Savior of the whole world...to reconcile everyone back to His Father and our Father!
According to many Christians, billions of people are going to a place called Hell to be tormented by God for all eternity. Please hear this very carefully. If Jesus loses just one soul, he will become the world's biggest sinner. How so, you say? Because He will have missed His mark...that is, to reconcile all things back to His Father.
"For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And he is before all things and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the ecclesia, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross." (Colossians 1:16-20)
Please understand that when the scriptures talk about "things" being reconciled back to God, He is not talking about rocks and trees. It was descendants of Adam who were cast out of the presence of God in the garden of Eden, remember? We need to be restored, reconciled, redeemed and the Scriptures make it abundantly clear that His purpose, goal, will and work was to reconcile all.
These Scriptures make it abundantly clear what the goal, the mark, the target which Jesus was aiming at when He went to the Tree of Crucifixion. The majority of the church says Jesus either will not (Calvinist) or cannot (Arminianist) save all mankind due to Satan and the power of "free-will." The majority of the church says He will sin, that is, miss the mark. There has always been a minority in church history, (which used to be the majority before the dark ages) who believe the Scriptures that declare Jesus Christ the actual Savior of the whole world. This minority pays close attention to Scriptures and notices things like that fact that Paul, the apostle to the nations, never preached salvation as deliverance from our modern concept of Hell. As a matter of fact, he never used the word "Hell"! That should make one think Go to a concordance and see for yourself.
As you can see from the tract, I certainly did not accuse Jesus of being a "sinner" but I certainly did accuse the majority of the church of saying that Jesus was a sinner. Now let us see what is making this man's mind twist words so crookedly that he could not see what was plainly written. First of all, he quoted one of the most archaic English translations of the Bible, the King James Bible. Because the English language has gone through major changes in the last 400 years, the King James Bible no longer faithfully transmits not only what the original writers of the Bible meant, but it does not even faithfully transmit the meaning the King's translators attached to their very own words. John 17:12 is a good illustration.
This passage uses the word "doomed." The modern use of this word conveys only a negative meaning to this word. Through the use of this word by theologians who only wanted to convey the negative side of judgment, we have inherited only a negative definition of this word. But that is not how the word "doomed" was used in seventeenth century England. At that time the word simply meant "law, decree, or judgment" with no positive or negative connotation. Any good dictionary or word meanings book will bear this out. So then, the word "doomed" does not convey the true meaning of the Greek word behind "doomed." The New Revised Standard rendered the passage as:
"While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled."
Zondervan's Parallel New Testament in Greek and English gives a literal rendering as:
When I was with them, I kept them in the name of thee which thou hast given to me, and I guarded, and not one of them perished except the son perdition, that the scripture might be fulfilled."
So what we have here is one of the apostles, (yes, Judas was an apostle) perishing or becoming "lost" that the "Scriptures might be fulfilled." Now Calvinists can and do use this Scripture to prove God's sovereignty, predestination, and election (which the majority of the body of Christ does not believe). It is clear from this scripture that someone had to betray Christ to fulfill what God had already put in the Scriptures beforehand. (Read the article entitled Judas Iscariot in Dew 3,4 for a further understanding of the important work Judas was destined to perform to fulfill prophecy.) This is very difficult for Arminianists to deal with because they want Judas in hell through his exercise of "free-will," not through God's sovereignty and predestination.
The real problem with this and dozens of other passages in the Bible, is that Calvinists, Arminianists, and everything in between, have been preconditioned to see certain images when they hear or see certain words when connected to the Bible. When a typical Christian sees the words doomed, perish, lost, damned, etc., they automatically conjure up images of a place in which that soul is placed where it will be tormented forever with no hope of escape. These images have been planted in their minds through church indoctrination, not from the meaning of the original languages of the Bible. Let me prove my point with the passage with which we are presently dealing.
The Greek word behind the English in this passage for the words translated by various translations as lost, perish, doomed to destruction, destroy, etc., is a derivative of the Greek word "apollumi." One of the best ways to determine the meaning of a word is to see how the word is used in various contexts. That is one of the main features of a good concordance. Notice I said a good concordance. Strong's Concordance to the King James Bible is not, in my opinion, a good Concordance, but we will use that one to show that I can prove my point even with a concordance which is slanted. Looking at this verb "apollumi," whose adjective form is "apolleia," we discover all kinds of things which are "lost" and then found again. Below is a passage from an article I did entitled "Eternal Death, One Step out of Hell, One Step short of Glory" which shows how the word is used in its original languages:
I ask the reader to study these two words "apollumi" and "apolleia" in a concordance that lists all of the occurrences of these words. This is the only method to know the true primary meaning of these words. The argument that "destroy" in Matthew 2:13 means "deprive of live" is an unfounded inference. "Deprive of life" would partially define the following Greek words. I quote the Greek word first followed with a literal English translation. "Apokteino" (kill), "sphatto" (slay), "onireko" (dispatch, assassinate, massacre), "phoneuo" (murder). Every occurrence of these words actually mean "to deprive of life."
"Destroy, perish, (apollumi) are used of things which have no life. "Wine runneth out and the bottles perish (apollumi)." (Matt. 9:17, see also Mark 2:22, Luke 5:37) Skinned bottles do not die when they perish. "Verily I say unto you he shall in no wise lose (apollumi) his reward." Matt. 10:42 (Compare Mark 9:41) A reward is not mortal. "That the trial of your faith being much more precious than of gold that perish (apollumi)" (1 Peter 1:7, compare Luke 15:8) Gold and money may perish and be lost but they are not deprived of life. The words which actually do mean "to deprive of life" could not be used in these verses. Neither the primary nor secondary nor any other meaning of "destroy" demands that life be taken. This is entirely a matter of the context. It is not included in the meaning of the words "apollumi" and "apolleia."
"Apollumi" is also used of that which is alive. "What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he lose (apollumi) one of them, does not leave the 99 in the wilderness and go after that which is lost (apollumi) until he find it. And when he has found it he layeth it on his shoulders rejoicing. And when he commeth home he calls together his friends and neighbors saying unto them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost (apollumi).'" (Luke 15:4-6) If the lost (apollumi) sheep had been deprived of life, would the shepherd have rejoiced when he found the carcass? The word "apollumi" occurs 8 times in Luke chapter 15. See verses 4, 6,8,9,17,24, and 32. Not one of these occurrences means to deprive of life. Our Lord directed His disciples "Go rather to the lost (apollumi) sheep of the house of Israel." (Matt. 10:6) The lost" sheep of Israel were no more dead than the "lost" destroyed sheep which the shepherd sought and found.
A word, whose primary meaning is to deprive of life cannot have a secondary meaning of a state of life. Life is not a secondary meaning of death. Our Lord said to His disciples, "He that findeth his life (psuche, soul) shall lose it, and he that loses (apollumi) his life (psuche, soul) shall find it." (Matt. 10:39, compare Mark 8:35, Luke 9:24, and 17:33) Is our Lord urging them to commit suicide? The text refers to the destruction of the soul. Please note the Greek text reads "psuche" soul, not "zoe" life, as the King's translators translated this passage. The destruction of the soul does not mean death, it means to forgo the pleasure of life and endure the suffering due to faithfulness to Christ. Surely, no one will argue that "He that loses (apollumi) his soul" for Christ will be destroyed without hope of life later. Many Christians martyrs were destroyed by burning at the stake. Their souls were destroyed but who will argue that they will not be resurrected in the future and enjoy immortality.
I believe there is one paramount scripture that should teach us what the word "apollumi" means. "For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which is lost (apollumi)." (Luke 19:10) This passage refers specifically to Zacchaeus; he was lost, destroyed. Because he was lost, he was ready to be found and saved. The theory of most false definitions of "apollumi" is to prove that the word means "death" from which there is no resurrection, practical annihilation, a state from which salvation is impossible. This passage directly destroys this theory. Instead of the lost being beyond salvation, they alone are eligible for salvation. You cannot rescue a man who is safe and sound. It is only when a man is in the state denoted by "apollumi" that salvation can operate in his behalf. Antithetical statements such as this are of great value in the study of words. The terms "seek" and "save," are accurate indications of the opposite of destroy. One who is "destroyed" must be lost or no one would seek him. He must be in a state which calls for salvation or Christ would not have come for him. This proves that destruction is a salvable condition, not a state beyond the reach of deliverance. Add to this the fact only the "lost" are "saved" and it reverses the usual theory of "destruction." God seeks what he has "lost." It is a sad fact that most Christians believe that Jesus is seeking to save the "lost" yet on the other hand they do not believe that He will save the "lost." They do not believe that Jesus will save "lost" mankind. Thus Jesus will not be successful in seeking and saving the lost.
"Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished (apollumi)." (1 Cor. 15:18) Are the Christians who are now sleeping deprived of future life? They are at present time "perished." They are now deprived of life, but in the future, they will be resurrected to life that is immortal.
"But if thy brother be grieve with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitable, destroy (apollumi) not him with thy meat for whom Christ died." (Rom. 14:15, compare 1 Cor. 8:11) According to these scriptures, we can destroy one of our brethren by eating foods which he deems unclean. Does our eating deprive him of life? That would be an easy way to commit legal murder.
Destruction is a relative term. The coin was lost in relation to the woman. (Luke 15:8,9) The sheep was destroyed as regards to the shepherd. (Luke 15:4-7) The prodigal son had perished in relation to his father. (Luke 15:11-32) So with the destroyed sheep of the house of Israel. (Matt. 10:5,6) They were not deprived of life, they were away from the great shepherd, their Creator. The prodigals were far off from their father who created them, who loves them, who commissioned His Son Jesus to come to seek and save them. Does this prove they were outside of this affair of salvation? It proves the opposite. Destruction is a prelude to salvation. It never means ultimate annihilation.
The method of destruction or losing is not included in the meaning of the word. It varies with the context. Those who use the sword "shall perish" (apollumi) with the sword." (Matt. 26:52) "But the chief priest and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask for Barabbas and destroy (apollumi) Jesus." (Matt. 27:20) Destroy Jesus? Thus our Lord was destroyed by crucifixion. Who will argue that the destruction of Jesus was annihilation? Jesus was only destroyed 3 days and nights, and He returned to life and has immortality.
The disciples were afraid that they would perish by drowning. (Mark 4:38) The sheep was destroyed by straying. ( Luke 15:4) The prodigal son was lost for the same reason. (Luke 15:24) The fragments that remain would have been lost (apollumi) by neglect. (John 6:12) Food perished (apollumi) by decay. (John 6:27) We may destroy a brother by means of food. (Romans 14:15) We may destroy a weak saint by our knowledge. (1 Cor. 8:11) Especially note the last two passages since they apply to believers in Christ. Can we "annihilate" one of our own brothers with food? Christians saved in Christ may be lost or destroyed. God ultimately will not put out of existence those who are lost. God commends His love to us in that He gave His Son Christ Jesus while we were still sinners. (Romans 5:8) Our Lord spoke the parable of the Lost Sheep in order to assure His disciples that God was concerned about the one sheep that had strayed. There is no line that the sinner crosses that brings him beyond the reach of God. Neither life, nor death, nor destruction, neither a career of sin, nor a decaying corpse is any obstacle to Divine Love. Nay, they are challenges which omnipotence must victoriously conquer or suffer defeat. No death, either first or second, can cope with our God or frustrate His purpose. Study Ephesians 1:9-11, Isaiah 46:8-13.
Everyone who has lost anything will bear me witness that the moment it is missing, it assumes an interest and importance which it never had before. Its value increases and we desire it more than ever. Its loss, instead of breaking our connection with it, forges a new link which did not exist before. This becomes tragically true when we lose a loved one. Loss alone brings a realization of the preciousness of possession. Let us never imagine that God is not concerned about the lost; that He is insensible to their condition, or that He would sit complacently by and see them rush to endless oblivion, if He could do anything to head them off. There are a million ways in which we could do this if we had but a tenth of His power. God is able. If the reader of this message will not acknowledge this, he must wait until God makes him realize this.
"Ha Theos agape estin," God is love and all His creatures are dear to Him. Is it not striking that He does not even try to express His affection until they are lost? Whom does God love? He undoubtedly loves all. Whom does He say He loves? God loves the world, (John 3:16) and sinners and His enemies, (Romans 5:8, 1 Cor. 15:22-28) and those who are lost. In God's wisdom, He has decreed that many shall be lost to Him until the end of the ages. Men are often compelled to abandon an enterprise which proved too much for their power. Imagine that God is also compelled to abandon His "will to have all men to be saved and to come unto the knowledge of the truth?" (1 Tim. 2:4, compare 1 Tim. 4:9-11) Thus God is unable to save all? Or being able He does not? These errors have polluted the minds of millions of men so that they have corrupted the Scriptures to teach everlasting punishment (Matt. 25:46) or everlasting destruction, (2 Thess. 1:8,9) and neither of these translations are correct.
Men are sometimes compelled to kill an animal to put it out of pain. They would not do so if they could cure it. Is our God like this? Is God impotent, powerless to cope with those who are destroyed? All that man can do is kill. They cannot recall from death. Is God also limited like we are? Christ proclaimed Himself as the resurrection and the life. Is the Creator unable to make man respond to His unconditional love? Is His love so repugnant or powerless that it can not loose those enchained to hate, fear, ignorance, etc.?
The above section dealt only with the word "apollumi." The article also goes into great length on the noun form of the word as well as other words translated "destroy, lost, damnation, perish" etc., to show that none of them convey a meaning which cuts off hope of restoration and reconciliation.
The above example shows so clearly the importance of allowing the Holy Spirit to clean our minds. Our minds have been polluted with false images even if we haven't attended a "hell-fire" church. My wife still remembers the words yelled to her as a small child, "Michelle, my bell, go to hell." It was not long before she understood what that person meant by "hell" even though she never read the Bible to find out. The traditions of the elders permeate our society, even that part which does not consider itself Christian. At a very early age, children are fed images which later taint their reading of the Bible.
The man who wrote me that e-mail can only see a fiery place of eternal torment every time he sees words which have been associated by his denomination with their concept of "Hell." He must go past his traditions, past his modern English definitions, in order to really see what the Scriptures declare. Most Christians are too occupied with the cares of this world to break off the yokes of the traditions of the elders. God will have to do something pretty drastic for the majority of the church to "study to show themselves approved." Few Christians presently warming pews have the desire to study intensely enough to be set free.
It would be wise for us, Christians to pay close attentions to Paul's words which warned that part of Israel was cut off, that we might be grafted in. Equally, God has committed all to disobedience that He might have mercy on all.
Romans 11:17 (NKJV) And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree,
18 do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, [remember] [that] you do not support the root, but the root supports you.
19 You will say then, "Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in."
20 Well [said]. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear.
21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either.
22 Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in [His] goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off.
23 And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.
24 For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, who [are] natural [branches], be grafted into their own olive tree?
25 For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.
26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:
"The Deliverer will come out of Zion,
And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob;
27 For this [is] My covenant with them,
When I take away their sins."
28 Concerning the gospel [they] [are] enemies for your sake, but concerning the election [they] [are] beloved for the sake of the fathers.
29 For the gifts and the calling of God [are] irrevocable.
30 For as you were once disobedient to God, yet have now obtained mercy through their disobedience,
31 even so these also have now been disobedient, that through the mercy shown you they also may obtain mercy.
32 For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.
33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable [are] His judgments and His ways past finding out!
34 "For who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has become His counselor?"
35 "Or who has first given to Him
And it shall be repaid to him?"
36 For of Him and through Him and to Him [are] all things, to whom [be] glory forever. Amen.