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Hell 6 – Did Jesus invent hell? No

Hell - Conditional Immortality

Hell 6 — Did Jesus invent hell? No. And yes.

Yes, Jesus is the first person in the Bible to speak about hell.

And the Old Testament does not use the word hell.

But let’s just row back a little here.

The word hell is shorthand for God’s judgment on the wicked. And from the beginning of the Creation Christ, along with God the Father and God the Spirit, intended that evil would not triumph over their creation ultimately. So in that sense, yes, Jesus ‘invented’ or, better, ‘planned’ that there would be a hell.

For decades I preached that the Old Testament had nothing to say about hell. I now believe that I was mistaken. The Old Testament speaks plainly about God’s judgment on the wicked. So Jesus did not innovate the idea of hell — rather Jesus did affirm that we human beings will all answer to God.

As I write this the UK 2024 General Election campaign is in its final day.

All voters suspect that the well-regarded think tank, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), has called it right when they say there is ‘a conspiracy of silence’ about how future spending plans will be funded. Sometime in the next 4-5 years we will learn more fully how true that it!

For voters this dishonesty undermines trust in the political class.

When I believed that hell meant eternal conscious torment, I also taught that Jesus was the first person in the Bible to speak plainly about hell, and I also taught that the Old Testament had nothing to say about hell — that is about the eternal destiny of the wicked. I now think that position was mistaken. It makes a false assumption that there was a conspiracy of silence about the true destiny of the wicked throughout the Old Testament.

Agreed, as already acknowledged, the word hell itself does not appear in the Old Testament.

But the Old Testament speaks often about the eternal destiny of the wicked. I used to ignore all the texts about the destiny of the wicked because I thought it was another example of the limited understanding and revelation with which the Old Testament saints worked.

I no longer think that explanation is good enough.

The Old Testament convinced me that Conditional Immortality is the truest explanation of hell.

One of the ways that Scripture convinced me to step away from believing that hell means eternal conscious torment of the wicked, was when I read the Old Testament to look for what it tells us about the ultimate destiny of the wicked. And I found that the Old Testament teaches the view I now hold which is commonly called Annihilationism or Conditional Immortality.

Furthermore, I now consider that, were I still to hold to the ECT view of the nature of hell, I would need to defend the notion that God withholds the explicit revelation of that destiny until the writing of the New Testament. I think that those who hold to the eternal conscious torment view of hell must find an answer to that challenge.

The IFS has called out UK political parties over their conspiracy of silence about the fiscal realities facing the UK. I do not believe that God hid the true consequences of rebellion against God from the Old Testament saints. I believe those consequences are clearly revealed in the Old Testament text. And that’s what this blog post is about.

This is the sixth post in a series about how the view of hell known as conditional immortality is the best fit with the Biblical data.

In the first post in this series I set the scene.

In the second I told my own journey.

In the third I showed that Scripture does not teach that human beings are intrinsically immortal.

And in the fourth I demonstrated the grounds from Scripture why I conclude that hell is not eternal in duration, but rather eternal in effect.

In the fifth post I showed that the choice offered to humanity in the Scriptures is consistently a choice between life and death, not between heaven and hell.

In this post, my focus is on…

So what does the Old Testament teach us about the eternal destiny of the wicked?

My initial draft for this post listed pages of Old Testament texts in evidence but was in danger of looking like a proof-texting exercise which has many dangers. It is far better to exegete a few passages correctly and show how they point to a clear warning to the impenitent and unbelieving wicked of what their impenitence and unbelief will lead to.

Nevertheless, let me say at the outset that the Old Testament witness asserts uniformly that death and destruction await the wicked.

Some Old Testament texts describe a judgment on the wicked in this life.

The context of those texts reveals that God is going to bring judgment on those specific wicked people very soon and by means of their physical death.

Granted that there are such texts, I argue that even those texts point to the future eschatological death of the wicked. The Old Testament warns us in numerous texts that the judgment of God is not merely physical death — but the complete destruction of the wicked in the eschaton.

A later post on how typology points to conditional immortality will reinforce this conviction.

But let’s back up a bit and go through these points again in greater depth.

did Jesus invent hell
did Jesus invent hell

It is a truism often observed that the Old Testament has little to say about final judgment and the so-called afterlife.

Derek Kidner addresses this, for example, in his introduction to his Tyndale commentary on the Psalms as he explains the impulse behind the imprecatory psalms (Kidner, pp.26-27). But it is a mistake to assume that there is nothing in the OT either about the eternal destiny of the wicked and the righteous, nor about how God’s role as Holy Judge will make itself felt.

In other words, I now think that my previous assertions that the Old Testament has little to say about the final state of the wicked are mistaken — an error arising from the prior commitment to eternal conscious torment… because, truthfully, the Old Testament never speaks of eternal conscious torment.

However, when I set aside that prior commitment, I was able to see that the Old Testament consistently and regularly warns the wicked that the eschatological consequence of sin will be death and destruction.

First death and second death.

The Bible speaks both about physical death (the first death, if you will), and also the second death (what is also called destruction).

How do we determine which Biblical texts are referring to the first death, and which to the second?

For the purpose of this blog post, I need to identify passages that arguably have an eschatological context — that speak of ultimate destinies, not temporal judgments. Undoubtedly the knowledge we have from the New Testament that there is a final judgment inclines us to see how some OT passages must be hinting at eschatologically ultimate outcomes. In other words, the ubiquitous way that the OT writers speak of the destiny of the wicked using concepts like death and perishing and destruction cannot be dismissed entirely as speaking only of temporal judgment.

Similarly, the knowledge we have from the New Testament about the existence of what we call ‘the intermediate state’ should also be read back into the Old Testament. Where the Old Testament speaks of the ongoing life in Sheol of the wicked, it is also speaking about the intermediate state, that ongoing life that occurs after physical death but prior to the final judgment leading to the final outcomes. We must avoid reading talk of the intermediate state and concluding that it speaks of the final state.

In order to narrow down the material to be dealt with I will ask…

What do we learn from the Psalms about the eternal destiny of the wicked?

The Psalms contain many passages that talk of death. On occasions these references are to physical death. However, there are also many passages where the context is the eschaton — the final destiny of the wicked.

Let’s consider first how best to approach the Psalms.

Christians typically read the Psalms as standalone prayers of devotion. There is no narrative arc in the Psalter, obviously. Some Psalms can be related to historical events (for example Psalm 51). And most people have recognised that there are some Psalms grouped into sets (such as the Songs of Ascent — Psalms 120-134).

In addition readers notice that the 150 Psalms are divided into five books — Psalms 1-41, 42-72, 73-89, 90-106, 107-150 — but most readers will not notice any rhyme or reason for these groupings.

Tremper Longman III, in his book How to Read the Psalms, describes the problem well:

“But as we reflect on the overall structure of the Psalter, we don’t see any immediately apparent order in subject matter or date… No overall structure can be discerned, but we can recognise some important groupings and movements within the book of Psalms.”

Christians often read the Psalms devotionally and so, whereas when we read a book like Galatians we would interpret chapter 4 in light of chapter 3 (as well as the whole Pauline corpus), when it comes to Psalms it never occurs to us to read them canonically. When we read Psalm 37 we do not think that either Psalm 36 or Psalm 38 have anything to do with what Psalm 37 means.

The most useful tool for interpreting the Psalms that I return to is Walter Bruggemann’s analysis of the Psalms falling into three types — Psalms of Orientation, Disorientation and Reorientation. Other suggest we can group psalms according to themes such as laments, Messianic themes, kingship, hymns of praise, and so on. All these approaches are useful.

Scholars also recommend a canonical approach to the Psalter.

For example, Old Testament scholars who focus on the Psalms widely agree that Psalms 1 and 2 are programmatic for the whole Psalter.

In chapter three of his book, The Psalter Reclaimed, Gordon Wenham does an excellent overview of the scholarly approaches to the Psalms over the last few centuries. He argues for a canonical reading — the approach that assumes the collection is not random but deliberate and meaningful.

After explaining at some length what Gerald Wilson’s 1985 book, The Editing of the Hebrew Psalter, has contributed to the study of the Psalms, on page 62 of his own book Wenham writes:

“Wilson’s work opened a new era in psalm study, and the validity of many of his observations has been widely acknowledged. The importance of Psalms 1 and 2 for the theology of the Psalter is now accepted: the first gives a wisdom slant to the collection, and the second draws attention to the role of the king.”

On page 63 Wenham continues:

“Psalm 1 sets the agenda for the Psalter by dividing mankind into two categories: the righteous, who keep the law and inherit God’s blessing, and the wicked, who suffer destruction.. These two groups of people keep on reappearing in the subsequent psalms.”

Walter Brueggemann writes in similar vein (and mentions Wilson in a footnote):

“The Psalter begins with Psalm 1, placed there intentionally as a preface to the entire collection. Psalm 1 announces the main theme of the completed book of Psalms… The Psalter begins in a confident summons to obedience that provides assurance about the consequence of obedience. Life revolves around Torah and the obedience to which Torah summons Israel. Standing at the beginning of the Psalter, this psalm intends that all the psalms should be read through the prism of Torah obedience. This psalm summarises the entire narrative memory of Israel, witnessing to the saving and commanding presence of God.” (Brueggemann, 1995, p.190)

It’s not my purpose here to write at length on the hermeneutical approaches to the Psalter.

My purpose here is to assure the reader that (1) the Psalms are not standalone devotional pieces, and (2) to realise that the ordering of the Psalms is not random and that (3) thus we can and should expect to find doctrinal truths systematically presented in the Psalms.

Furthermore the Psalms, in common with the wisdom literature, grapple often with theodicy.

What that means is that the Old Testament saints grappled with the same questions we do about how God’s righteous rule is exercised, manifested and made apparent in his universe.

Why do we ask such questions? Because our lived experience is that good people suffer, and bad people prosper.

Now we have set these foundations we can look at what the Psalms tell us about the eternal destiny of the wicked.

Firstly, Psalms 1 and 2 are placed first because they set the agenda and declare the theme of the Psalter — as described by Wenham. To quote from him again he wrote:

“Psalm 1 sets the agenda for the Psalter by dividing mankind into two categories: the righteous, who keep the law and inherit God’s blessing, and the wicked, who suffer destruction.. These two groups of people keep on reappearing in the subsequent psalms.” (p.63)

We read of the wicked in Psalm 1:5-6 (ESV)

Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgement,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
for the LORD knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.

We read of the wicked in Psalm 2:12 (ESV)

12 Kiss the Son,
lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

To interpret these statements theologically we must determine whether the Psalmist is writing about the outcomes that will be experienced in this age (concerning our physical existence), or the outcome in the eschaton, in the eternal age)

Of which ‘age’ is the Psalmist writing?

When I exegeted such passages in the past I would assert either (1) that the reference was to physical death only, or (2) that the words ‘perish’ and ‘die’ and ‘destruction’ never mean to cease being because we know that everyone lives for ever, the only question is where.

I no longer accept those two options. Why is that?

In an earlier post in this series, I wrote:

“I decided to engage in a thought experiment. Starting some time in 2020, in my regular reading through Scripture, I would take the word group ‘die’, ‘death’, etc. to mean cessation, not separation – and I found that it worked almost perfectly in opening up the Scripture.”

A few paragraphs later I also wrote:

“I fully accept that in some passages the word ‘death’ is used to speak of the separation from God caused by sin. In those instances, however, I argue that those are metaphorical uses of the word death. And that metaphorical use depends fully on the literal meaning of the word death. My new understanding makes those metaphorical uses of the word death even more powerful.”

Based on these assumptions I then had a new working definition of how the word death was used. I summarised that as follows:

“I am now persuaded that the killing or death of the body is the first death; the killing or death of the resurrected person at the final judgment is the second death. The second death is what will take place in the lake of fire.”

This post can be found here.

On that basis, when reading the Old Testament I had to determine in each use case whether what was meant was the first or the second death — physical death, or what we might call eternal death.

I later found that Fudge follows this same logic in The Fire That Consumes, chapters 6, 7, and 8.

Fudge summarised his conclusions like this:

“Throughout the Old Testament, God reveals truth about the end of the wicked in various ways. The books of poetry—Job, Psalms, and Proverbs—reflect on the meaning and value of life under the sun. What will be the difference between godly and ungodly in the end? How does it pay to serve God? Why do the righteous sometimes die in poverty while the wicked lay down in fame and prosperity? To answer these questions, the poetic books take us behind the scenes. There they point to the sovereign God on his throne, and tell us that God will also one day judge. Then he will vindicate all who trust in him. The godless will come to nothing. They will perish, will disappear, will not be found. Their place will be empty. They will no longer exist.” (Fudge, pp. 56-57)

A crucial move to make when interpreting these Psalms is to determine, as best we can, whether they predict only the physical death of the wicked, or whether they also promise an accountability, a final judgment beyond this physical life, in the eschaton.

The answer must be some and some, but it is impossible to deny that many texts are speaking to a final judgment at the end of this age. The only way we can deny this is if we can assert and verify from experience that all wicked people die an early physical death as a judgment from God — which we cannot do. In truth, it’s the observation that we see the wicked prosper in this life, and die in luxury, that prompts the heart-searching in many Psalms and to which God answers by giving insights about the reality of final judgment.

Examples where the Psalmists complain about how the wicked are not brought to account.

Psalm 10.1-2, 10-18 (NIV)

Why, LORD, do you stand far off?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?

In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak,
who are caught in the schemes he devises.

10 His victims are crushed, they collapse;
they fall under his strength.
11 He says to himself, ‘God will never notice;
he covers his face and never sees.’

12 Arise, LORD! Lift up your hand, O God.
Do not forget the helpless.
13 Why does the wicked man revile God?
Why does he say to himself,
‘He won’t call me to account’?
14 But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted;
you consider their grief and take it in hand.
The victims commit themselves to you;
you are the helper of the fatherless.
15 Break the arm of the wicked man;
call the evildoer to account for his wickedness
that would not otherwise be found out.

16 The LORD is King for ever and ever;
the nations will perish from his land.
17 You, LORD, hear the desire of the afflicted;
you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,
18 defending the fatherless and the oppressed,
so that mere earthly mortals
will never again strike terror.

Psalm 10 is the immediate backdrop to Psalm 11 where the Psalmist assures himself that God will bring the wicked to face him and punish all evildoing — and references the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah which is a type of God’s judgment on evil.

1 In the LORD I take refuge.
How then can you say to me:
‘Flee like a bird to your mountain.
For look, the wicked bend their bows;
they set their arrows against the strings
to shoot from the shadows
at the upright in heart.
When the foundations are being destroyed,
what can the righteous do?’

The LORD is in his holy temple;
the LORD is on his heavenly throne.
He observes everyone on earth;
his eyes examine them.
The LORD examines the righteous,
but the wicked, those who love violence,
he hates with a passion.
On the wicked he will rain
fiery coals and burning sulphur;
a scorching wind will be their lot.

For the LORD is righteous,
he loves justice;
the upright will see his face.

Or see how Psalm 37 (NIV) begins by recognising that the wicked often prosper in this life and in this age:

Do not fret because of those who are evil
or be envious of those who do wrong;
for like the grass they will soon wither,
like green plants they will soon die away.

We are tempted to envy them because of their wealth and apparent success.

And, just as it is helpful to read Psalm 11 in light of Psalm 10, so here also, a canonical reading of Psalm 37 considers the psalm in the context of Psalm 36 which begins:

An oracle within my heart
concerning the transgression of the wicked person:
Dread of God has no effect on him.
For with his flattering opinion of himself,
he does not discover and hate his iniquity.
The words from his mouth are malicious and deceptive;
he has stopped acting wisely and doing good.
Even on his bed he makes malicious plans.
He sets himself on a path that is not good,
and he does not reject evil. Psalm 36.1-4 (CSB)

Taken together with the opening verse of Psalm 37, the context is the apparent material success and prosperity of the wicked in this life.

The Psalter provides the reader with a theological answer to that dilemma which is that God will not let wickedness go unpunished. There will be come-uppance for those who do evil.

I agree with Brueggemann that the way verse 10 starts with the phrase ‘in a little while,’ and the way the psalm concludes in vv.37-40, suggests an eschatological timescale (1995, p.242) which goes beyond the very material emphasis on possessing ‘the land’ found in this psalm.

And so, in Psalm 37, as in Psalms 1 and 2, we learn the fate of the wicked as they will experience it in the coming age. In Psalm 37 the Psalmist asserts repeatedly what will be the end of the wicked and in no uncertain terms — their end is death and destruction.

David, the Psalmist, defines what he means by death and destruction using various natural metaphors. Not one of these suggest eternal conscious torment. Every one of these references suggests annihilation.

Psalm 37:9-13, 20-22, 28, 34-38 (ESV)

For the evildoers shall be cut off,
but those who wait for the LORD shall inherit the land.
10 In just a little while, the wicked will be no more;
though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there.

11 But the meek shall inherit the land
and delight themselves in abundant peace.
12 The wicked plots against the righteous
and gnashes his teeth at him,
13 but the LORD laughs at the wicked,
for he sees that his day is coming.

20 But the wicked will perish;
the enemies of the LORD are like the glory of the pastures;
they vanish—like smoke they vanish away.

21 The wicked borrows but does not pay back,
but the righteous is generous and gives;
22 for those blessed by the LORD shall inherit the land,
but those cursed by him shall be cut off.

28 For the LORD loves justice;
he will not forsake his saints.
They are preserved for ever,
but the children of the wicked shall be cut off.

34 Wait for the LORD and keep his way,
and he will exalt you to inherit the land;
you will look on when the wicked are cut off.

35 I have seen a wicked, ruthless man,
spreading himself like a green laurel tree.
36 But he passed away, and behold, he was no more;
though I sought him, he could not be found.
37 Mark the blameless and behold the upright,
for there is a future for the man of peace.
38 But transgressors shall be altogether destroyed;
the future of the wicked shall be cut off.

And these assertions occur repeatedly in the Psalter.

As I have asserted earlier, the Psalter is not a random collection of merely devotional material devoid of theology.

On the contrary scholarship has demonstrated that the Psalter is the product of careful editing and contains theological revelation.

If you wish to see more evidence read the following excerpts from Psalms 58, 73, 92, 94 and 145:

Psalm 58:1-11 (ESV)

1 Do you indeed decree what is right, you gods?
Do you judge the children of man uprightly?
No, in your hearts you devise wrongs;
your hands deal out violence on earth.
The wicked are estranged from the womb;
they go astray from birth, speaking lies.
They have venom like the venom of a serpent,
like the deaf adder that stops its ear,
so that it does not hear the voice of charmers
or of the cunning enchanter.
O God, break the teeth in their mouths;
tear out the fangs of the young lions, O LORD!
Let them vanish like water that runs away;
when he aims his arrows, let them be blunted.
Let them be like the snail that dissolves into slime,
like the stillborn child who never sees the sun.
Sooner than your pots can feel the heat of thorns,
whether green or ablaze, may he sweep them away!
10 The righteous will rejoice when he sees the vengeance;
he will bathe his feet in the blood of the wicked.
11 Mankind will say, “Surely there is a reward for the righteous;
surely there is a God who judges on earth.”

Psalm 73:16-20 (ESV)

16 But when I thought how to understand this,
it seemed to me a wearisome task,
17 until I went into the sanctuary of God;
then I discerned their end.
18 Truly you set them in slippery places;
you make them fall to ruin.
19 How they are destroyed in a moment,
swept away utterly by terrors!
20 Like a dream when one awakes,
O Lord, when you rouse yourself, you despise them as phantoms.

Psalm 73:27 (ESV)

27 For behold, those who are far from you shall perish;
you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you.

Psalm 92:6-7 (ESV)

The stupid man cannot know;
the fool cannot understand this:
that though the wicked sprout like grass
and all evildoers flourish,
they are doomed to destruction for ever…

Psalm 94:1-2, 22-23(ESV)

O LORD, God of vengeance,
O God of vengeance, shine forth!
Rise up, O judge of the earth;
repay to the proud what they deserve!

22 But the LORD has become my stronghold,
and my God the rock of my refuge.
23 He will bring back on them their iniquity
and wipe them out for their wickedness;
the LORD our God will wipe them out.

Psalm 145:20 (ESV)

20 The LORD preserves all who love him,
but all the wicked he will destroy.

I conclude that the Old Testament is NOT silent on the eternal fate of the wicked.

Their end is destruction, death, to perish, to die, to be destroyed.

And it seems that even memory of the wicked will be lost.

We are told that God’s final judgment of the wicked may also encompass blotting out even of the memory of the wicked.

Psalm 9:5-6 (ESV)

You have rebuked the nations; you have made the wicked perish;
you have blotted out their name for ever and ever.
The enemy came to an end in everlasting ruins;
their cities you rooted out;
the very memory of them has perished.

Again we must ask whether this warning applies to the wicked in this life, or in the eschaton — the age to come? Surely this must be a warning about the ultimate fate of the wicked because in this life we know that some of the most wicked people who have ever lived are not forgotten. They are infamous, notorious and most certainly not forgotten.

Psalm 34:15-16 (ESV)

15 The eyes of the LORD are towards the righteous
and his ears towards their cry.
16 The face of the LORD is against those who do evil,
to cut off the memory of them from the earth.

Does the final clause, ‘from the earth,’ not place this warning in the context of this age? Possibly. But it could equally be a prophetic awareness of God’s plan to make a new heavens and earth in the eschaton as referenced in Isaiah 65.17.

Isaiah 26:10-14, 21 (ESV)

10 If favour is shown to the wicked,
he does not learn righteousness;
in the land of uprightness he deals corruptly
and does not see the majesty of the Lord.
11 O LORD, your hand is lifted up,
but they do not see it.
Let them see your zeal for your people, and be ashamed.
Let the fire for your adversaries consume them.

12 O LORD, you will ordain peace for us,
for you have indeed done for us all our works.
13 O LORD our God,
other lords besides you have ruled over us,
but your name alone we bring to remembrance.
14 They are dead, they will not live;
they are shades, they will not arise;
to that end you have visited them with destruction
and wiped out all remembrance of them.

21 For behold, the LORD is coming out from his place
to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity,
and the earth will disclose the blood shed on it,
and will no more cover its slain.

Verse 21 of Isaiah 26 uses the language of judgement day and so points to this passage being about the eschaton.

If the impenitent, unbelieving wicked cannot be found, cannot be remembered, and can no longer be named because their names are so completely deleted, in what sense can the wicked be said to exist in any meaningful way in the eternal age?

The destruction of the wicked is referenced in the rest of the Old Testament as well.

Proverbs 12:7a

The wicked are overthrown and are no more…

Proverbs 24:20

…for the evil man has no future;
the lamp of the wicked will be put out.

Malachi 4:1-3

1 “For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the LORD of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the LORD of hosts.

The phrase ‘on the day’ is a frequent phrase in Scripture to signify the day of judgement.

Overall, the thrust of the Old Testament texts above is to issue a warning that the ultimate destiny of the impenitent and unbelieving wicked is destruction.

So, did Jesus ‘invent’ hell?

No, in the sense that the incarnate Jesus did not innovate any new doctrine about the eternal destiny of the wicked, although he did introduce the word hell to label that destiny.

Yes, in the sense that the Christ, as the second person of the Trinity, planned together with the Father and the Spirit that there would be judgment upon those human beings who through impenitence and unbelief do not turn to God to receive his free gift of reconciliation and life.

So what about you?

In the Psalms God does not bargain with us.

Psalm 1 amongst others makes clear that the choices we make have eternal consequences.

God has ordered the Creation for our good — and we have the choice to cooperate with his good order, or to disrupt it and mess it up. Our choices really do matter.

And you will, one day, answer to God. You may think his moral rule has been negligent but in truth he has been patient not wanting anyone to perish (2 Peter 3.9).

Let’s finish by reading what the Apostle Peter wrote about these matters in the New Testament.

2 Peter 3.3-18 (New Living Translation)

Most importantly, I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires. They will say, “What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created.”

They deliberately forget that God made the heavens long ago by the word of his command, and he brought the earth out from the water and surrounded it with water. Then he used the water to destroy the ancient world with a mighty flood. And by the same word, the present heavens and earth have been stored up for fire. They are being kept for the day of judgment, when ungodly people will be destroyed.

But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. 10 But the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief. Then the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise, and the very elements themselves will disappear in fire, and the earth and everything on it will be found to deserve judgment.

11 Since everything around us is going to be destroyed like this, what holy and godly lives you should live, 12 looking forward to the day of God and hurrying it along. On that day, he will set the heavens on fire, and the elements will melt away in the flames. 13 But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness.

14 And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in his sight.

15 And remember, our Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved. This is what our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you with the wisdom God gave him— 16 speaking of these things in all of his letters. Some of his comments are hard to understand, and those who are ignorant and unstable have twisted his letters to mean something quite different, just as they do with other parts of Scripture. And this will result in their destruction.

17 You already know these things, dear friends. So be on guard; then you will not be carried away by the errors of these wicked people and lose your own secure footing. 18 Rather, you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

All glory to him, both now and forever! Amen.

Up soon…

In a future post I will show how the Old Testament use of Typology also points to annihilationism.


For the whole list of books refenced or consulted to write this blog series please go to the first post and scroll to the end.

Books referenced specifically in this post are:

Walter BRUEGGEMANN, The Message of the Psalms, Augsburg, Minneapolis, MN, 1984

Walter BRUEGGEMANN, The Psalms and the Life of Faith, Augsburg, Minneapolis, MN, 1995

Edward FUDGE, The Fire That Consumes, 3rd Edition, Cascade Books, Eugene, Oregon, 2011

Derek KIDNER, Psalms 1-72, IVP Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, Leicester, 1973

Derek KIDNER, Psalms 73-150, IVP Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, Leicester, 1973

Tremper LONGMAN III, How to Read The Psalms, IVP, Leicester, 1988

Gordon WENHAM, The Psalter Reclaimed, Crossway, Wheaton, IL, 2013

Scripture versions used:

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Holy Bible, New International Version® Anglicized, NIV® Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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