Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Refuting Shepherd's Chapel - Hell (Matthew 10:28)

Shepherd's Chapel denies eternal punishment in hell (Matthew 25:46). This view is commonly called annihilationism and is very popular in heretical groups (Seventh Day Adventist, Jehovah Witness, etc.). Although it is a deep topic and needs much to be said, in this post I want to address just some of the errors that Shepherd's Chapel teaches. 

If one discusses the subject of hell with a student of Shepherd's Chapel probably the first verse that they will quote to defend annihilationism is Matthew 10:28. 
And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matt. 10:28, KJV)
 Arnold Murray along with his followers will latch on to the word "destroy" in this verse and claim that it means blotted out or annihilation. Thus, to them, this verse teaches annihilationism straight from Jesus' mouth. The word destroy used in this verse is the Greek work apollymi (#G622). A few words must be said about this word. First, as used in Scripture the words “destroy,” “destruction,” “perish” etc. never signify cessation of existence. Second, you can go back in this same chapter in verse 6 and see how this word is used:
But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. (Matt. 10:6, KJV)
 The word "lost" used in this verse is the exact same Greek word apollymi that is used in verse 28 for "destroy". As you can tell the word does not mean blotted out or annihilated. These sheep (Israelites) that Christ is talking about were not obliterated or blotted out, they were rather lost or separated from the true Shepherd (Christ). This is similar to those "destroyed" in hell, they are separated from Christ for all eternity (Rev. 22:15). This refutes Shepherd's Chapel's claim that the meaning of apollymi in Matthew 10:28 teaches annihilation. The Greek word apollymi is also used in the following verses (the bolded word is the Greek word apollymi):
 For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. (Matthew 18:11, KJV)
What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? (Luke 15:4, KJV)
For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.(Luke 15:24, KJV)
As can be seen the Greek word apollymi does not mean total annihilation, blotted out, or cessation of existence. Arnold Murray, as he has done many times, misuses the Greek or shows lack of understanding of how the Greek language works.

So, briefly, what does the Bible teach on hell? Well here is one thing that Christ said about it:
And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. (Matt. 25:46, KJV)
This punishment of hell Christ describes as everlasting. I have heard Shepherd's Chapel students claim that since annihilation is everlasting then it is everlasting punishment. This is not possible in the Greek syntax. the word for everlasting is aionios in the Greek and it modifies the nature of the punishment, not the results of the punishment. In this verse aionios modifies kalasis "punishment", which is an action noun. Greek nouns that end with –sis will focus on the action of the noun and not it's results. You can compare 2 Thess. 2:16 to see a parallel. In that verse aionios modifies paraklesis “comfort”, another –sis ending action noun. So this verse proves that Christ taught an everlasting hell of punishment. Also we have this:
And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. (Rev. 14:11, KJV)
This again is another favorite verse for Shepherd's Chapel. When you use this verse to prove the Biblical view of everlasting hell then they will jump on you and say "look it says the smoke of their torment ascendeth for ever and ever. Only the smoke.". Ha! Gotcha right? Well no.

First, what is the smoke? It is of their "torment". It doesn't say it was the smoke of their annihilation, but the smoke of their torment. If the smoke ascends forever and ever, and the cause of the smoke is the torment, then it stands to reason that the torment lasts forever and ever. Second, if you continue to read this verse it states clearly that they have no rest day nor night. It does not say they were annihilated and the smoke rose for eternity. This verse clearly teaches that they are tormented for eternity and have no rest day or night.

This verse is very similar to Revelation 20:10
And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. (Rev. 20:10, KJV)
After judgment is passed down to Satan and his minions they are all thrown into the lake of fire and tormented day and night forever and ever. If this verse teaches anything, it at least teaches that Satan is tormented in hell for eternity. If you continue reading Revelation chapter 20 then you will see that all those in hell are cast into this exact same lake of fire (Rev. 20:14, also Matt 25:41). Again since they are cast into the same lake of fire the Devil is then the same punishment is dealt out. Also if you continue reading Revelation and in the last chapter (after all this has taken place) you see that the unsaved were not annihilated in Revelation chapter 20 but cast outside the Great City:
Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. (Rev. 22:14-15, ESV)
I have heard the students of Shepherd's Chapel claim that "forever and ever" does not mean eternity but simply a period of time. This is absolutely impossible in the Greek. The Greek phrase is eis tous aionas ton aionon and is often translated as forever, forevermore, and forever and ever. It is also used of the attributes of God which we know are unchangeable and are eternal. Please compare how this Greek phrase is used in the following verses of Scripture especially the ones in Revelation: Gal. 1:5, Phil. 4:20, 1 Tim. 1:17, 2 Tim. 4:18, Heb. 13:21, 1 Pet. 4:11, Rev. 1:6, Rev. 1:18, Rev. 4:9, Rev. 4:10, Rev. 5:13, Rev. 7:12, Rev. 10:6, Rev. 11:15, Rev. 15:7, Rev. 22:5

If you do your research and actually read those verses you will see that eis tous aionas ton aionon does not mean a temporary amount of time, but is basically the Greek way of saying eternity.

 One last note, even Daniel in the Old Testament saw that evil people are not annihilated at end of this age:
 And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. (Daniel 12:2, KJV)
Notice this verse says that in the end at the resurrection and judgement (Revelation 20) the saved receive everlasting life and the damned everlasting contempt (not annihilation).

So in conclusion we have shown that Shepherd's Chapel view of hell cannot be supported exegetically nor systematically from Holy Scripture.

Soli Deo Gloria! 

3 comments:

  1. None of this post successfully refutes the Biblical concept of annhilation. One example is your take on the greek word "apollymi". Your rendition completely ignores the exhaustive strongs definition, which in fact DOES mean destruction - in fact it means "Utter Destruction". You used a root of the word apollymi - "apṓleia", which is intellectually dishonest. Shame on you!

    Furthermore, there are a plethora of other Biblical references to the state of the dead. Comments through out the Bible (Google is your friend) that make such statements as on the day of death his "thoughts perish with him..." and "the dead knoweth nothing..." If your thoughts perish, and the dead knoweth nothing, how do they know they are separated from God for all eternity?

    There are many more Bible concepts, such as what the term "forever" means in the Jewish economy, as I am sure you will talk about the language of Revelation - a book that is also very much distorted by typical evangelicals.

    Do a search on the word "forever", and look at it within the context of the reading. It always appears in such a way as to mean, "until completed". For example, Isaiah 34:10 It will not be quenched night or day; its smoke will ...It will not be quenched night or day; its smoke will rise forever. ... his judgment on Edom will never end; the smoke of its burning will rise forever. ...

    There are many more examples, but clearly, Edom is still not burning, and its smoke isnt still rising.

    Also, the immortality of the soul is a Helenistic concept, not a biblical one. The Bible says "Only God hath immortality". If we go on forever and ever, then that has to be God that keeps us that way - by the tree of life.

    You would also have to say that God keeps people ALIVE in hell - a complete contradiction when thought of in terms of "eternal death". Regardless of the quality of life in an everlasting eternal torture chamber, (supposedly Created AND maintained by a loving God!) the fact is, such person would still be alive. Furthermore, since only God gives life, and he "upholds all things by the word of His power" - God Himself would have to keep the person in hell alive to be tortured all of eternity. This is anti-biblical because the Bible says there will be no more pain, and suffering and that both death and hell (the grave) are thrown into the lake of fire where these too will be destroyed.

    The fact is, in Gods universe, there will be everlasting peace, and joy. Pain and suffering will be gone, non existent, nada, nothing. (NO ETERNAL EVERLASTING TORTURE CHAMBER) Sin will never rise again. This "experiment of sin" will have shown to the universe that independence from God does not work, as Lucifer tried to convince angels and man.

    In closing, I used to be a Baptist. I used to believe in the untenable doctrines of irresistible grace, once saved always saved, eternal hell, pre-trib rapture, and other man made traditions that are found nowhere in the Bible. Such doctrines mar the character of God, and actually drive thinking men away.

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    1. Greetings Free Inhabitant and thank you for your response! First off this article was not intending to be an exhaustive rebuttal to annihilationism, there are many better scholars than me who refute the idea. Simply Google those and you will see. I disagree what Apollymi means utter destruction. It is not used that way in the NT. Apollymi is used to convey the thought of lost or unsaved/unredeemed (See Matt. 10:6). You are taking the usage of "dead know nothing" a bit out of context. The context is that from an earthly perspective (those of us who are still alive) the dead know nothing and inherit nothing. Those passages do not speak of mens eternal state. You can't strip out context like that.

      Again in Revelation (as I noted in the article) the punishment is day and night forever just like the same Greek terms are use to discribes God as being forever. Are you saying God and his will are temporary too?

      You are right in that God alone has immortality (within himself) He is eternal and has always been. We all have a beginning and are created. However, you must look at Jesus' words and Daniels to understand that both the Good and Bad get an eternal ressurection.

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

      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. (Daniel 12:2)

      There is also a very big problem with Annihilationism when it comes to the NT teaching of the eternal state. Revelation chapter 22 describes the eternal state AFTER the white throne judgement and you can see who is present:

      Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. (Rev. 22:14-15)

      outside the glorious heaven are still present unbelievers..

      When the NT talks about pain and suffering being gone it is always in the context of believers. Only believes will not experiance pain and suffering. Unbelievers will experiance everlasting contempt.. that is Scripture!

      I see you have taken a jab at irresistible grace and once saved always saved.

      All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.(John 6:37)

      yeah seems pretty irresistible and forever to me.. from the lips of Christ himself!

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