my interpretation of Matthew 25:31-46

Arguments/positions in defense of Evangelical Universalism.

my interpretation of Matthew 25:31-46

Postby sven » Wed May 06, 2009 7:21 am

I wroted this once in another forum, maybe it helps somebody:

Matthew 25:31-46

This section is often used to refute universalism, either in favor of everlasting torment or annihilationism, as it seems this section contrasts the everlasting fate of believers and unbelievers. Let's have a close look on this section:

But when the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit down upon his throne of glory, and all the nations shall be gathered before him; and he shall separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and he will set the sheep on his right hand, and the goats on his left. Then shall the King say to those on his right hand, Come, blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the world's foundation: for I hungered, and ye gave me to eat; I thirsted, and ye gave me to drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; naked, and ye clothed me; I was ill, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came to me. Then shall the righteous answer him saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungering, and nourished thee; or thirsting, and gave thee to drink? and when saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in; or naked, and clothed thee? and when saw we thee ill, or in prison, and came to thee? And the King answering shall say to them, Verily, I say to you, Inasmuch as ye have done it to one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it to me. Then shall he say also to those on the left, Go from me, cursed, into eternal (aiōnios) fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: for I hungered, and ye gave me not to eat; I thirsted, and ye gave me not to drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me not in; naked, and ye did not clothe me; ill, and in prison, and ye did not visit me. Then shall they also answer saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungering, or thirsting, or a stranger, or naked, or ill, or in prison, and have not ministered to thee? Then shall he answer them saying, Verily I say to you, Inasmuch as ye have not done it to one of these least, neither have ye done it to me. And these shall go away into eternal (aiōnios) punishment, and the righteous into life eternal (aiōnios).

It's interesting to have a look upon the medieval Catholic poem DIES IRAE first, it's about the last judgment and the end of the world:

15 INTER OVES LOCUM PRÆSTA,
ET AB HÆDIS ME SEQUESTRA,
STATUENS IN PARTE DEXTRA.

With thy favored sheep O place me;
nor among the goats abase me;
but to thy right hand upraise me.


It's obvious that this poem refers to Matthew 25 here, it seems Catholic believers were afraid to be among the "goats" mentioned in this section, but is it scriptural to assume any believer will have to appear on this judgment?

John 5:24 says: Verily, verily, I say unto you, that he that hears my word, and believes him that has sent me, has life eternal, and does not come into judgment, but is passed out of death into life.

The bible says, those who believe don't come into judgment, so it's very unlikely that any believer is either among the goats or among the sheep mentioned in this section.

1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 says about the believers:

For this we say to you in the word of the Lord, that we, the living, who remain to the coming of the Lord, are in no way to anticipate those who have fallen asleep; for the Lord himself, with an assembling shout, with archangel's voice and with trump of God, shall descend from heaven; and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we, the living who remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and thus we shall be always with the Lord.

It's very obvious now, that no believer will be among the sheep or goats.
The dead believers rise from the dead and meet Jesus together with the living believers when Jesus comes, nobody would have the idea that anyone of them will belong to the goats and send into "eternal fire".

Conclusion:

Both the sheep and goats must be unbelievers; this section doesn't show the contrast between believers and unbelievers but between righteous and unrighteous gentiles living at Jesus' coming. It's also no judgment about the dead, the bible says the judgment upon the dead occurs 1000 years after Jesus' coming (Rev. 20:5), this means 1000 years later than the judgment mentioned in this section.

The bible says it are nations (Greek ethnos) that are gathered here, it isn't even said, that it is a judgment or punishment upon individuals.

If you insist that aiōnios means eternal, you must admit that some unbelievers will gain eternal life for doing good works (a view heavily opposed my some fundamentalists), it's obvious in my view that neither the sheep nor the goats can be believers in the context.

Does aiōnios mean eternal in the modernsense of the word eternal = endless, neverending?

Even the opponents of Universal Reconciliation must admit that aiōnios not always means infinite duration:

Matt Slick from http://www.carm.org, who heavily opposes universalism admits:

"To get around the problem of the English Bibles translating Greek words into "eternal," "forever," and forevermore" when describing fire (Matt. 18:8) or torment (Rev. 20:10), the universalists go to the Greek. The Greek word that is translated into eternal is "aionion." It comes from the Greek root "aion" meaning "age." This fact combined with the various uses of Greek words derived from the root "aion," are what the universalists use to attempt to show that "aionion" does not always mean "eternal" but can refer to a finite period of time. The truth is, they are right. […] But the reason it is translated that way is because of context, and that is extremely important."


I wrote modern sense cause in ancient Latin, aeternum of which English eternal derived didn’t mean necessarily endless, the Latin bible, Jerome’s Vulgate proofs it; Exodus 15:18 (also Micah 4:5):

DOMINUS REGNABIT IN AETERNUM ET ULTRA
The Lord reigns in eternity and further(!)

The German evangelical professor Ernst Ferdinand Stroeter (1846-1922) who believed in universalism came to the conclusion:

"All adjectives that refer to God and His life get their true meaning from there, but not the way round. Wherever the word translated "eternal" (Greek: aiōnios, æonian or ages-long), refers to creature, men or mere human conditions or circumstances it never has the sense of infinity cause nothing creatural can be thought of being infinite, unless it partook in the divine nature of divine life and entity."


Many say if the "æonian punishment" is not infinite, then the "æonian life" of the believer is not infinite as well; the bible says about the future life of the believers, 1 Corinthians 15:51-53:

Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all fall asleep, but we shall all be changed, in an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must needs put on incorruptibility, and this mortal put on immortality.

This fits perfectly with 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 mentioned above.

The "eternal life" of the righteous gentiles (sheep) may in fact be not infinite as well as the "eternal punishment" of the unrighteous unbelievers (goats).

This section in Matthew 25 is probably speaking about the life on this earth in the age to come, Isaiah when probably speaking of the messianic age, says in Isaiah 65:20-22:

There shall be no more thenceforth an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not completed his days; for the youth shall die a hundred years old, and the sinner being a hundred years old shall be accursed. And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit thereof: they shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree shall be the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.

It really seems possible for me, that people in the messianic age still die, the æonian life of the sheep might indeed possibly be not everlasting (as well as the punishment of the goats) - maybe it is as long as the life of a tree or only a hundred years, or maybe 500 years for example as in 1 Enoch 10:10: …for length of days shall they not have. And no request that they make of thee shall be granted unto their fathers on their behalf; for they hope to live an eternal (aiōnios) life, and that each one of them will live five hundred years... Though the life of the believers is everlasting at any case as the bible says they rise immortal.

(Quotations are from the Darby Translation as I remember)
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Re: my interpretation of Matthew 25:31-46

Postby Michael » Wed May 06, 2009 11:12 am

sven wrote:...
I wrote modern sense cause in ancient Latin, aeternum of which English eternal derived didn’t mean necessarily endless, the Latin bible, Jerome’s Vulgate proofs it; Exodus 15:18 (also Micah 4:5):

DOMINUS REGNABIT IN AETERNUM ET ULTRA
The Lord reigns in eternity and further(!)

The German evangelical professor Ernst Ferdinand Stroeter (1846-1922) who believed in universalism came to the conclusion:

"All adjectives that refer to God and His life get their true meaning from there, but not the way round. Wherever the word translated "eternal" (Greek: aiōnios, æonian or ages-long), refers to creature, men or mere human conditions or circumstances it never has the sense of infinity cause nothing creatural can be thought of being infinite, unless it partook in the divine nature of divine life and entity."


Many say if the "æonian punishment" is not infinite, then the "æonian life" of the believer is not infinite as well; the bible says about the future life of the believers, 1 Corinthians 15:51-53:

Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all fall asleep, but we shall all be changed, in an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must needs put on incorruptibility, and this mortal put on immortality.

This fits perfectly with 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 mentioned above.

The "eternal life" of the righteous gentiles (sheep) may in fact be not infinite as well as the "eternal punishment" of the unrighteous unbelievers (goats).

This section in Matthew 25 is probably speaking about the life on this earth in the age to come, Isaiah when probably speaking of the messianic age, says in Isaiah 65:20-22:

There shall be no more thenceforth an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not completed his days; for the youth shall die a hundred years old, and the sinner being a hundred years old shall be accursed. And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit thereof: they shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree shall be the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.

It really seems possible for me, that people in the messianic age still die, the æonian life of the sheep might indeed possibly be not everlasting (as well as the punishment of the goats) - maybe it is as long as the life of a tree or only a hundred years, or maybe 500 years for example as in 1 Enoch 10:10: …for length of days shall they not have. And no request that they make of thee shall be granted unto their fathers on their behalf; for they hope to live an eternal (aiōnios) life, and that each one of them will live five hundred years... Though the life of the believers is everlasting at any case as the bible says they rise immortal.

(Quotations are from the Darby Translation as I remember)

Thank you sven, I personally find this very helpful (particularly the quote from Ernst Ferdinand Stroeter.)

It's about time for me to update my own web site, and the first thing I'm gonna do is drop my little forum.

It was intended as a place for orthodox universalists to find fellowship and discussion with like-minded believers, but that's exactly what I've found here (and it's moderated far better than I could moderate my own, given other demands on my time.)

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Tom Talbott, Gregory MacDonald, the moderators, you, and all who participate in these discussions for making this the place that it is.

God Bless.
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Re: my interpretation of Matthew 25:31-46

Postby sven » Wed May 06, 2009 12:20 pm

I'm glad if I can help, a larger article of Professor Stroeter (translation) you'll find here:

viewtopic.php?f=10&t=337
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Re: my interpretation of Matthew 25:31-46

Postby JasonPratt » Thu May 07, 2009 5:43 am

While that's a great article, I will caution that I find (and so believe) that the contexts indicate that the goats were expecting to be treated as "Christians". They weren't "unbelievers" in a conventional sense.

(There's a thread around here where I discuss and debate this with one of our commenters in detail; but I'm still sick and don't feel like looking it up. sorry. ;) )
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Re: my interpretation of Matthew 25:31-46

Postby seirwyn » Mon Aug 17, 2009 9:38 am

I think the life here refers to the quality. I dont know where it is (I dont read the bible much because it scares and unsettles me) but there is a place where it describes eternal life as 'knowing Jesus.' So it is about quality not duration.
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Re: my interpretation of Matthew 25:31-46

Postby JasonPratt » Mon Aug 17, 2009 12:27 pm

seirwyn wrote:I think the life here refers to the quality. I dont know where it is (I dont read the bible much because it scares and unsettles me) but there is a place where it describes eternal life as 'knowing Jesus.' So it is about quality not duration.


You're probably thinking of John 17:3, near the beginning of the High Priestly Prayer (the final part of what is called the Final Discourse). The NASB translates it "And this is eternal life, that they may know Thee [the Father], the only true God, and Jesus Christ Whom Thou hast sent."

The final clause, by the way, is most likely either an additional commentary by the author of GosJohn (or his source), or a Greek rendering of the Aramaic words behind the name "Jesus Christ". (God's anointed salvation, or something like that.)
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Re: my interpretation of Matthew 25:31-46

Postby Melchizedek » Mon Aug 17, 2009 2:50 pm

JasonPratt wrote:While that's a great article, I will caution that I find (and so believe) that the contexts indicate that the goats were expecting to be treated as "Christians". They weren't "unbelievers" in a conventional sense.

(There's a thread around here where I discuss and debate this with one of our commenters in detail; but I'm still sick and don't feel like looking it up. sorry. ;) )


I find it interesting that both sheep and goats are biblically clean animals... However, I don't see that the goats were necessarily expecting to be treated as Christians. Both groups seem pretty clueless as to what they have or have not done. The question from both the sheep and the goats in the parable is; when have we done or not done these things? Both groups seem genuinely surprised by their status with regard to the works-based judgment described in this passage.
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Re: my interpretation of Matthew 25:31-46

Postby stellar renegade » Sat Oct 17, 2009 11:40 pm

Melchizedek wrote:I find it interesting that both sheep and goats are biblically clean animals... However, I don't see that the goats were necessarily expecting to be treated as Christians. Both groups seem pretty clueless as to what they have or have not done. The question from both the sheep and the goats in the parable is; when have we done or not done these things? Both groups seem genuinely surprised by their status with regard to the works-based judgment described in this passage.

But that's just the thing. It's not like the goats hadn't thought of their status at all; it's that they thought their status was untouchably protected and righteous, making this yet another example of Jesus' table-turning paradigm shifts.

The sheep likewise likely had no idea that they were anything close to worthy of any kind of a reward. They had fulfilled the commands not with the goal of simply fulfilling the commands in mind, but of something far higher in thought: the image of their perfect Father already doing those things for them. Who can help but be love to others when all one sees is unending love from above?

Fits nicely with Jesus' entire message as reported by his witnesses, I think.
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Re: my interpretation of Matthew 25:31-46

Postby Born Again » Mon Jan 11, 2010 7:51 pm

I believe it teaches what Jesus originally intended it to mean. The sheep(believers in Christ) and the goats( unbelievers in Christ). The believers to eternal life. The unbelievers to eternal punishment. The bible is so simple when you don't try to spiritualize it. Scripture interprets scripture. ;)
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Re: my interpretation of Matthew 25:31-46

Postby SLJ » Mon Jan 11, 2010 11:01 pm

Born Again wrote:I believe it teaches what Jesus originally intended it to mean.


I don't think anyone here is saying otherwise, but, some (most?) here disagree with your opinion about what Jesus intended by it.8-)

The sheep(believers in Christ) and the goats( unbelievers in Christ).


Maybe ... depending on how one defines "believer" and "unbeliever." You might want to take another look at that parable, paying particular attention to the criterion on which they are being judged. ;)

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Re: my interpretation of Matthew 25:31-46

Postby Dondi » Tue Jan 12, 2010 3:16 am

Born Again wrote:I believe it teaches what Jesus originally intended it to mean. The sheep(believers in Christ) and the goats( unbelievers in Christ). The believers to eternal life. The unbelievers to eternal punishment. The bible is so simple when you don't try to spiritualize it. Scripture interprets scripture. ;)


So...according to the criteria found in Matthew 25:31-46, how does one enter into eternal life?
"...Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." - Matthew 25:40
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Re: my interpretation of Matthew 25:31-46

Postby Fire & Brimstone » Tue Jan 12, 2010 5:07 am

Dondi wrote:
Born Again wrote:I believe it teaches what Jesus originally intended it to mean. The sheep(believers in Christ) and the goats( unbelievers in Christ). The believers to eternal life. The unbelievers to eternal punishment. The bible is so simple when you don't try to spiritualize it. Scripture interprets scripture. ;)


So...according to the criteria found in Matthew 25:31-46, how does one enter into eternal life?


That's just it, Dondi. If you tell a traditionalist that they are promoting a works-based salvation by accepting the passage at what seems to be face value, they will say you're crazy. But the metric used to determine sheep/goat status is none other than the question of how you helped the poor, hungry, & naked.

As I heard one time, you need a letter of reference from the poor to be a sheep.
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Re: my interpretation of Matthew 25:31-46

Postby JeffA » Tue Jan 12, 2010 5:28 am

Fire & Brimstone wrote:As I heard one time, you need a letter of reference from the poor to be a sheep.


Jeff likes this :D
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Re: my interpretation of Matthew 25:31-46

Postby sven » Tue Jan 12, 2010 6:56 am

I believe it teaches what Jesus originally intended it to mean. The sheep(believers in Christ) and the goats( unbelievers in Christ). The believers to eternal life. The unbelievers to eternal punishment. The bible is so simple when you don't try to spiritualize it. Scripture interprets scripture.


I have spiriualized nothing, or was my interpreatation allegorical? - I would say not.

I have shown that the sheep most likely are no believers in the context of the bible and that therefore eonian life needn't mean endless life aswell as eonian chastening needn't be endless, I have shown that "eonian" needn't mean by neccessity endless and that even strict opponents of universalism are forced to admit this. Jesus spoke often in parables that the people did not understand, there are also many simple passages that teach that God's anger does not last to eternity and that God is the savior of all men.
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Re: my interpretation of Matthew 25:31-46

Postby thomaskemper » Tue Feb 05, 2013 6:15 pm

i don't want to put too fine a point on it, but i would love to edit this post. some of the grammar is terrible. sorry to say it, but it had to be said.
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Re: my interpretation of Matthew 25:31-46

Postby Sherman » Wed Feb 06, 2013 7:28 am

I've come to understand this passage to be speaking of God blessing and rewarding those (individuals, cultures, or nations) who are selfless, socially mature, unconsciously see and meet the needs of others. And God chastizes those who are selfish, selfcentered, socially immature, who do not even see, much less meet, the needs of others - and this is true whether one is a "believer" or "not".

Both sheep and goats are part of the shepherds flock. They are often, even usually, herded together because they eat different things. Sheep eat the tender grass close to the ground. Goats eat even prefer everything else. The word mis-translated "sheep" is probaton and would be better translated as "flock", meaning any small 4-legged animal (sheep, goats, small cattle, donkeys). And the word mistranslated as "goats" is eriphos and specifically means kid, baby goat. The difference is "maturity". And the word translated "punishment" is kolasis and would be better understood/translated as chastizement (remedial punishment/discipline/training). A shepherd separates out the kids from his flock to train them so that they can function as healthy members of the flock. Goats are independant by nature and require training when they are young so that they will not be so independant, but can realize their need of the shepherd and learn to obey his voice. Sheep are by nature much more dependant and more easily follow the shepherd as they follow along with the flock, learning the shepherds voice through being with other sheep in the flock.

The word aionios, translated eternal, would better be translated "age-to-come," I think. The writers of the Bible seemed to see 2 ages, the present evil age and the Messianic age-to-come where the kingdom of God is fully realized. So the chastizement warned of is "age-to-come" chastizement, chastizement from God that will fully accomplish the will of God in the person/people.

I think Jesus is teaching a spiritual principle that is applicable to individuals, families, cultures, and nations. Those who see and meet the needs of the poor, the oppressed, the social outcasts, such giving loving caring individuals, families, cultures, and nations will be blessed by God. Those who do not see or care for the needs of the poor, the sick, the needy will suffer chastizement from God. This is an "eternal" principle, one that happens in this life and even more fully in the life/age to come! We need to seek the healing/salvation of God to be manifested in our personal lives as well as in our corporate lives and community systems.
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Re: my interpretation of Matthew 25:31-46

Postby Sherman » Wed Feb 06, 2013 7:31 am

thomaskemper wrote:i don't want to put too fine a point on it, but i would love to edit this post. some of the grammar is terrible. sorry to say it, but it had to be said.

You're welcome to do that for the author of the post(s) you are speaking of. Copy the post, put it in an email, make the corrections and send it to the author. If the author wants to edit his/her post he/she can then do that.
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Re: my interpretation of Matthew 25:31-46

Postby Origen; » Tue Nov 28, 2017 7:30 pm

The following response reminded me of the OP post by sven above:


stuart says:
March 19, 2016 at 11:45 am

Matt 25:46 is probably the most single used verse in Scripture to attempt to disprove universalism. The argument goes something like this: Since believers are said to reap “eternal” life in the second half of the verse, then in order to be grammatically consistent one must conclude that unbelievers also reap “eternal” punishment. Therefore unbelievers are condemned to hell/lake of fire forever and not all are eventually saved which disproves universalism. At first glance this appears logically consistent and a foolproof argument. However this argument fails to take into account the context of this verse. It presumes that the sheep are believers and the goats are unbelievers at the great white throne. Is that premise accurate?

Different Time: The judgment of the nations occurs at the second coming of Christ (Matthew 25:32); the great white throne occurs following the millennial kingdom (Revelation 20:11-12).

Different Scene: The judgment of the nations occurs on earth (Matthew 25:31); the great white throne judgment occurs at the great white throne (Revelation 20:11).

Different Subjects: At the judgment of the nations, three groups of people are mentioned: the sheep, the goats, and the brothers (Matthew 25:32, 40). The great white throne judgment involves the unsaved dead (Revelation 20:12).

Different Basis: The basis of judgment at the judgment of the nations is how Christ’s “brothers” were treated (Matthew 25:40); the basis of judgment at the great white throne is their works (Revelation 20:12). Books are opened in the latter; books are not mentioned in the former.

Different Result: The result of the judgment of the nations is twofold: the righteous enter into the millennial kingdom; the unrighteous are cast into the lake of fire. The result of the great white throne judgment is that the wicked dead are cast into the lake of fire (the righteous are not mentioned).

Resurrection: No resurrection is mentioned in connection with the judgment of the nations. A resurrection does take place in connection with the great white throne judgment (Revelation 20:13).

The goats are those who go into the lake of fire for an age of time. The sheep are those who go on to inhabit the earth also for an age of time – during the millennium age.

“And these shall go away to punishment age-during, but the righteous to life age-during. ” (YLT)

Aionios life as applied to the sheep cannot mean eternal life since the age only lasts for 1,000 tears. Since aionios life cannot mean eternal life for the sheep then it does not stand to reason that it must automatically mean eternal damnation for the goats either.



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Re: my interpretation of Matthew 25:31-46

Postby Origen; » Mon Dec 25, 2017 12:16 am

HereIStand, post: 72120504, member: 154604 wrote:I read the book Hell on Trial: The Case for Eternal Punishment by Robert Peterson. He makes a solid argument. Would recommend it. He includes this quote from Augustine's City of God,

what a fond fancy is it to suppose that eternal punishment means long continued punishment, while eternal life means life without end, since Christ in the very same passage spoke of both in similar terms in one and the same sentence, "These shall go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into life eternal!" Matthew 25:46 If both destinies are "eternal," then we must either understand both as long-continued but at last terminating, or both as endless. For they are correlative — on the one hand, punishment eternal, on the other hand, life eternal. And to say in one and the same sense, life eternal shall be endless, punishment eternal shall come to an end, is the height of absurdity. Wherefore, as the eternal life of the saints shall be endless, so too the eternal punishment of those who are doomed to it shall have no end.


"This specious argument goes back at least to Augustine. As has long ago been said, however, due to its unreasonableness, it ought never be heard again."

Augustine was rather ignorant of Greek.

For some other parallels in Scripture consider:

Rom 5:18 Consequently, then, as it was through one offense for all mankind for condemnation, thus also it is through one just act for all mankind for life's justifying."

Rom 5:19 For even as, through the disobedience of the one man, the many were constituted sinners, thus also, through the obedience of the One, the many shall be constituted just."

1 Cor.15:22 AS in Adam ALL die SO ALSO in Christ shall ALL be made alive.

1 Cor.15:28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.

Lamentations 3:22 and 3:31-33, The steadfast love of the Lord NEVER ceases, his mercies NEVER come to an end. . . .Lam.3:31 For the Lord will NOT cast off FOR EVER: 32 For if He causes grief, Then He will have compassion According to His abundant lovingkindness. 33 For He does not afflict willingly Or grieve the SONS OF MEN.…

David Burnfield makes an interesting point re Matthew 25:46:

"None of the sins listed in [the context of] Matt.25:46 can be considered blasphemy of the Holy Spirit."

He quotes Mt.12:31:

"Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven." (NASB)

And emphasizes the words "any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people".

He then says "If we can believe what Christ tells us, then the 'only' sin that is 'not' forgiven is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit which obviously does not include the sins listed in Matt.25:34-44."

Then he quotes from Jan Bonda's book "The One Purpose of God...":

"Verse...46, in particular, has always been cited as undeniable proof that Jesus taught eternal punishment. Yet it is clear that the sins Jesus listed in this passage do not constitute the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Assuming Jesus did not utter this word with the intention of contradicting what he said moments before [Matt 12:31], we must accept that the sins mentioned in this passage [Matt 25:46] will eventually be forgiven. This means, however strange it may sound to us, that this statement of Jesus about eternal punishment is not the final word for those who are condemned."

(pg 220-221, Patristic Universalism: An Alternative To The Traditional View of Divine Judgement, 2nd ed, 2016, by David Burnfield)

viewtopic.php?f=11&t=7264

The NT translation of Eastern Orthodox scholar Bentley Hart does not use the words "eternal" or "everlasting" at Mt.25:46, but instead reads "chastening of that Age" & "life of that Age". (The New Testament: A Translation, 2017, Yale University Press).

Many other versions do likewise, as listed here:

https://www.christianforums.com/threads ... n.8039822/

Some literal translations of Mt.25:46 have:

Young‘s Literal Translation: ―punishment age-during.
Rotherham Translation: ―age-abiding correction.
Weymouth Translation: ―punishment of the ages.
Concordant Literal Translation: ―chastening eonian."

eonian, "αἰώνιος...lasting for an age...partaking of the character of that which lasts for an age, as contrasted with that which is brief and fleeting... (also used of past time, or past and future as well) Derivation: from G165;" http://studybible.info/strongs/G166

"2851. kolasis...Short Definition: chastisement, punishment..."

"In the late 2nd century/early 3rd century, Clement of Alexandria clearly distinguished between kólasis and timoria: “For there are partial corrections [padeiai] which are called chastisements [kólasis], which many of us who have been in transgression incur by falling away from the Lord’s people. But as children are chastised by their teacher, or their father, so are we by Providence. But God does not punish [timoria], for punishment [timoria] is retaliation for evil. He chastises, however, for good to those who are chastised collectively and individually” (Strom. 7.16)."

https://afkimel.wordpress.com/2013/09/1 ... s-forever/

The "eternal" (eonian) fire that burned Sodom went out long ago:

Jude 1:7 As Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities about them in like manner to these committing ultra-prostitution, and coming away after other flesh, are lying before us, a specimen, experiencing the justice of fire eonian."

The fire wasn't eternal & neither is the "eternal fire" or punishment in Mt.25:41,46.

As regards the fate of the Jewish people, earlier in the same gospel of Saint Matthew Jesus' word does correct them re the false teachings of endless torments and annihilation, as follows:

Mt.1:21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.
Mt.2:6b ...my people Israel.

That includes the murderous Pharisees, Judas Iscariot & all other Jews. And since God is no respecter of person, the Gentiles will also be saved, as the Scriptures reveal.

Considering the Greek word kolasis ("punishment", Mt.25:46, KJV) can refer to a corrective punishment, that should tell the reader of Matthew 25:46 what the possible duration of aionios ("everlasting", KJV) is & that it may refer to a finite punishment. Why? Because since if is corrective, it is with the purpose of bringing the person corrected to salvation. Once saved the person no longer has need of such a punishment & it ends. So it isn't "everlasting". Therefore this passage could just as easily support universalism as anything else.

From a review of a book by Ilaria Ramelli, namely The Christian Doctrine of Apokatastasis: A Critical Assessment from the New Testament to Eriugena (Brill, 2013. 890 pp):

"...in a passage in Origen in which he speaks of “life after aionios life” (160). As a native speaker of Greek he does not see a contradiction in such phrasing; that is because aionios life does not mean “unending, eternal life,” but rather “life of the next age.” Likewise the Bible uses the word kolasis to describe the punishment of the age to come. Aristotle distinguished kolasis from timoria, the latter referring to punishment inflicted “in the interest of him who inflicts it, that he may obtain satisfaction.” On the other hand, kolasis refers to correction, it “is inflicted in the interest of the sufferer” (quoted at 32). Thus Plato can affirm that it is good to be punished (to undergo kolasis), because in this way a person is made better (ibid.). This distinction survived even past the time of the writing of the New Testament, since Clement of Alexandria affirms that God does not timoreitai, punish for retribution, but he does kolazei, correct sinners (127)."

http://journalofanalytictheology.com/ja ... 30418a/271

"Augustine raised the argument that since aionios in Mt. 25:46 referred to both life and punishment, it had to carry the same duration in both cases. However, he failed to consider that the duration of aionios is determined by the subject to which it refers. For example, when aionios referred to the duration of Jonah’s entrapment in the fish, it was limited to three days. To a slave, aionios referred to his life span. To the Aaronic priesthood, it referred to the generation preceding the Melchizedek priesthood. To Solomon’s temple, it referred to 400 years. To God it encompasses and transcends time altogether."

"Thus, the word cannot have a set value. It is a relative term and its duration depends upon that with which it is associated. It is similar to what “tall” is to height. The size of a tall building can be 300 feet, a tall man six feet, and a tall dog three feet. Black Beauty was a great horse, Abraham Lincoln a great man, and Yahweh the GREAT God. Though God is called “great,” the word “great” is neither eternal nor divine. The horse is still a horse. An adjective relates to the noun it modifies. In relation to God, “great” becomes GREAT only because of who and what God is. This silences the contention that aion must always mean forever because it modifies God. God is described as the God of Israel and the God of Abraham. This does not mean He is not the God of Gentiles, or the God of you and me. Though He is called the God of the “ages,” He nonetheless remains the God who transcends the ages."

"In addition, Augustine’s reasoning does not hold up in light of Ro. 16:25, 26 and Hab. 3:6. Here, in both cases, the same word is used twice—with God and with something temporal. “In accord with the revelation of a secret hushed in times eonian, yet manifested now…according to the injunction of the eonian God” (Ro. 16:25, 26 CLT). An eonian secret revealed at some point cannot be eternal even though it is revealed by the eonian God. Eonian does not make God eternal, but God makes eonian eternal. “And the everlasting mountains were scattered.…His ways are everlasting” (Hab. 3:6). Mountains are not eternal, though they will last a very long time. God’s ways however, are eternal, because He is eternal."

http://www.hopebeyondhell.net/articles/ ... /eternity/
http://www.tentmaker.org/books/hope_beyond_hell.pdf

Jude 7 speaks of the fire that destroyed Sodom as an example of "aionion fire" (the same words aionion fire used in Mt.25:41, compare v.46). Did Sodom burn forever?

Philo was contemporary with Christ & we have this translation of his words which use the same words Christ used at Mt.25:46:

"It is better absolutely never to make any promise at all than not to assist another willingly, for no blame attaches to the one, but great dislike on the part of those who are less powerful, and intense hatred and long enduring punishment [kolasis aiónios] from those who are more powerful, is the result of the other line of conduct." http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/yonge/book45.html

In the year 544 A.D. the emperor Justinian wrote a letter:

"It is conceded that the half-heathen emperor held to the idea of endless misery, for he proceeds not only to defend, but to define the doctrine.2 He does not merely say, "We believe in aionion kolasin," for that was just what Origen himself taught. Nor does he say "the word aionion has been misunderstood; it denotes endless duration," as he would have said, had there been such a disagreement. But, writing in Greek, with all the words of that abundant language from which to choose, he says: "The holy church of Christ teaches an endless aeonian (ateleutetos aionios) life to the righteous, and endless (ateleutetos) punishment to the wicked." If he supposed aionios denoted endless duration, he would not have added the stronger word to it. The fact that he qualified it by ateleutetos, demonstrated that as late as the sixth century the former word did not signify endless duration.

http://www.tentmaker.org/books/prevailing/upd21.html

If Christ meant "endless" punishment at Mt.25:46, why use the ambiguous aionios? Why not instead use the word aperantos ("endless"; 1 Timothy 1:4)? Or why not use the words "no end" as in Lk1:33b: "And of His kingdom there will be no end"? The answer seems obvious.

Early Church Father universalists who were Greek scholars & many others of the time did not see Mt.25:46 contradicting their belief:

"The first Christians, it will be seen, said in their creeds, "I believe in the æonian life;" later, they modified the phrase "æonian life," to "the life of the coming æon," showing that the phrases are equivalent. But not a word of endless punishment. "The life of the age to come" was the first Christian creed, and later, Origen himself (an Early Church Father universalist) declares his belief in æonian punishment, and in æonian life beyond. How, then, could æonian punishment have been regarded as endless?"

https://tentmaker.org/forum/word-studie ... n-forever/

"Adolph Deissman gives this account: "Upon a lead tablet found in the Necropolis at Adrumetum in the Roman province of Africa, near Carthage, the following inscription, belonging to the early third century, is scratched in Greek: 'I am adjuring Thee, the great God, the eonian, and more than eonian (epaionion) and almighty...' If by eonian, endless time were meant, then what could be more than endless time?" "

http://www.tentmaker.org/books/asw/Chapter9.html

"Walvoord appeals to Matthew 25:46 (“And these shall be coming away into chastening eonian, yet the just into life eonian,” CV), declaring that if the state of the blessed is eternal, as expressed by this word, there is no logical reason for giving limited duration to punishment."

"This specious argument goes back at least to Augustine. As has long ago been said, however, due to its unreasonableness, it ought never be heard again. From the fact that the life of the just nations and the chastening of the unjust nations are herein described by the same adjective, descriptive of duration, it does not follow that the latter group of nations, therefore, will be subjected to endless punishment. The argument assumes what is at issue by presuming that the life of the just, here, is termed an endless life. Simply because, on certain grounds, the life of those persons comprising the just nations will prove to be endless, it does not follow that the blessing of life afforded here to any such nations is therefore that of endless duration. It is as unreasonable to assume that eonian life doubtlessly signifies endless life as it would be to claim that youthful life actually signifies aged life, simply because our presuppositions and predilections may dictate such a conclusion."

"Professor Tayler Lewis (who was not a universalist) in commenting on what he calls the Olamic or Aeonian words of the Scripture, affirms that “they denote . . . the world [i.e., in the sense of duration] in time, or as a time-existence” (i.e., the “life” of the object thus described or delineated). He insists that these words are, in themselves, wholly indefinite (even though he conceives that, in Matthew 25:46, the scene is one of “finality”). Hence, concerning aiõnios, he states: “It would be more in accordance with the plainest etymological usage to give it simply the sense of olamic or aeonic, or to regard it as denoting, like the Jewish olam habba, the world [i.e., duration] to come."

“ ‘These shall go away into the punishment [the restraint, imprisonment] of the world to come, and these into the life of the world to come.’ That is all we can etymologically or exegetically make of the word in this passage. And so is it ever in the Old Syriac Version [i.e., the Peshito], where the one [i.e., uniform] rendering is still more unmistakably clear: ‘These shall go away to the pain of the olam, and these to the life of the olam’–the world to come.”

"...It is simply contrary to historical fact to suggest that the essence of these time expressions is that of endless duration. As Thomas De Quincey, the nineteenth century essayist and literary critic states: “All this speculation, first and last, is pure nonsense. Aiõnios does not mean ‘eternal,’ neither does it mean of limited duration . . . . What is an aiõn? The duration or cycle of existence which belongs to any object, not individually of itself, but universally, in right of its genius [i.e., inherent nature] . . . . The exact amount of the duration expressed by an aiõn depends altogether upon the particular subject which yields the aiõn.” "

"...Likewise, the Presbyterian Bible scholar, M. R. Vincent, in his extensive note on aiõn/aiõnios states: “Neither the noun nor the adjective, in themselves, carry the sense of endless or everlasting.” "

"...not only Walvoord, Buis, and Inge, but all intelligent students acknowledge that olam and aiõn sometimes refer to limited duration. Here is my point: The supposed special reference or usage of a word is not the province of the translator but of the interpreter. Since these authors themselves plainly indicate that the usage of a word is a matter of interpretation, it follows (1) that it is not a matter of translation, and (2) that it is wrong for any translation effectually to decide that which must necessarily remain a matter of interpretation concerning these words in question. Therefore, olam and aiõn should never be translated by the thought of “endlessness,” but only by that of indefinite duration (as in the anglicized transliteration “eon” which appears in the Concordant Version).

"In this response to your “deeply troubled” encounter with the Concordant Version, I have principally sought not to prove my position, but to open a door to its consideration; a door of further inquiry, with a view toward your attaining an awareness of the grace of God in truth, even as of the purpose of the eons, which He makes in Christ Jesus, our Lord (Eph.3:11). May our God and Father be pleased to use this writing unto such an end."

http://concordant.org/expositions/the-e ... art-three/

https://www.christianforums.com/threads ... r.8041512/

https://www.christianforums.com/threads ... n.8039822/

viewtopic.php?f=11&t=7264
Scholars Corner:
http://www.tentmaker.org/ScholarsCorner.html

Minimal Statement of Faith for Evangelical Universalists:
viewtopic.php?f=41&t=57
Origen;
 
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