Beware the One Who Can Throw You Into Hell

Beware the One Who Can Throw You Into Hell

Postby Richard Beck » Tue Sep 17, 2013 2:47 am

Sharing here a post from my blog today:

Whenever you get into a discussion about hell Luke 12 will eventually get cited:
Luke 12.4-7
I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Who is this one whom we must fear because he, she or it "has authority to throw you into hell"?

Most people think this is a reference to God. Fear God because God can throw you into hell.

But might this be a reference to someone other than God?

That is N.T. Wright's argument in Jesus and the Victory of God where Wright argues that this is a reference to Satan rather than God (pp. 454-455):
Some have seen 'the one who can cast into Gehenna' as YHWH; but this is unrealistic. Jesus did not, to be sure, perceive Israel's god as a kindly liberal godfather who would never hurt a fly, let alone send anyone to Gehenna. But again and again--not least in the very next verse of this paragraph--Israel's god is portrayed as the creator and sustainer, one who can be lovingly trusted in all circumstance, not one who waits with a large stick to beat anyone who steps out of line. Rather, here we have a redefinition of the battle in terms of the identification of the real enemy. The one who can kill the body is the imagined enemy, Rome. Who then is the real enemy? Surely not Israel's own god. The real enemy is the accuser, the satan.
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Re: Beware the One Who Can Throw You Into Hell

Postby Sobornost » Tue Sep 17, 2013 4:30 am

Good one Richard. Makes a lot of sense :)
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Re: Beware the One Who Can Throw You Into Hell

Postby AllanS » Tue Sep 17, 2013 4:35 am

How could I have missed that? :? It's so obvious, once you see it.
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Re: Beware the One Who Can Throw You Into Hell

Postby Sherman » Tue Sep 17, 2013 5:37 am

In CONTEXT, Jesus is specifically warning about the "leaven of the Pharisees which is hypocricy" 12:1. And the threat is not being cast into "Hell" but into "Hinnom Valley" which calls to the mind of the Jew the destruction of Jerusalem because of the gross sin of the people of Israel, sacrificing their children in the fires of their idol, Molech. The passage is meant to be a warning concerning hypocricy. "IF" the Pharisees used Hinnom Valley as a metaphor of non-specific punishment of sin in the afterlife, then Jesus is taking their power metaphor used to condemn and instill fear in the people and turning it around and using it on the Pharisees. "IF" Jesus is referencing the destruction of Jerusalem then He's saying, get rid of hypocricy, respond to the love of God and truly repent; if not then such hypocricy leads to the destruction of all you love. "IF" Hinnom Valley was a trash dump, then Jesus is warning of sin and hypocricy that can lead to a person leading a worthless, good-for-nothing life, a trashed life! And "IF" He is referencing their sin bringing them to a place of sacrificing their children to their idol Molech, then Jesus is warning them of how sin will take you much further than you ever wanted to go, bringing you to a place where you'll sacrifice your own children to the idols in your heart!

Like Real Estate's mantra, "Location! Location! Location!"
Hermeneutic's mantra is "Context! Context! Context!"

Frankly, I think Jesus' warning concerning being metaphorically cast into Hinnom Valley meant all of that - a trashed life, so consumed by evil you'll sacrifice all that you love to the idols of your heart, destruction of all that you love, and even potentially punishment of sin in the life to come (age-to-come chastisement from God). Hypocricy has the power to destroy your soul! So repent because God loves you and wants much better for you!
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Re: Beware the One Who Can Throw You Into Hell

Postby davo » Tue Sep 17, 2013 6:35 am

Both scenarios fit well together in Jerusalem’s Ad70 conflagrations at the hands of Rome, where due to the shortage of a necessary cross many a rebel was simply cast headlong into the valley below, to rot… hence Jesus’ reference elsewhere to “worms” i.e., maggots. Also keep in mind the not dissimilar historical reference following in Lk 13:3-5.
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Re: Beware the One Who Can Throw You Into Hell

Postby JasonPratt » Tue Sep 17, 2013 6:41 am

AllanS wrote:How could I have missed that? :? It's so obvious, once you see it.


I keep missing it because I keep seeing authority to destroy both body and soul in Gehenna.

I'm pretty sure Satan doesn't have that authority, even on NT Wright's theology, regardless of whether the body has been killed yet or not. Which of course doesn't or didn't at the time stop NTW from arguing this refers to Satan anyway. :roll: But I'm reasonably sure I recall that he doesn't account for annihilation being a result of Satan's authority, and he certainly means annihilation by destruction of the soul in Gehenna.

Notably, despite being famous as a preterist, he regards this threat as being more than bodies being thrown in a pit of Hinnom Valley after the fall of Jerusalem. That's because the details undermine a fully preteristic interpretation, too. Who is it we should fear who has authority not only to kill the body (but cannot do anything further to the person after the body is killed), but after the body is killed cast the soul into Gehenna? -- and obviously the soul is being talked about here because there has to be something a person would fear being done to them after the body has been killed, contrasted to not being afraid of those who cannot do more after killing the body.

Matthew's version (probably topically compiled from this incident into his scene of Jesus sending out the twelve on evangelical mission, although Jesus may have also just repeated His teaching two different times) at GosMatt 10:28 makes the reference to the soul explicit. "Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear the one who is able to destroy both soul and body in Gehenna."

Now, I can put those together with contexts and conclude that Jesus isn't talking about an actually hopeless punishment (if God cares so much for mere flowers which are here today and tomorrow are thrown into the furnace, how much more so does He care for you, you of little faith!)

But the question of who should be feared has to be answered by who fits the criteria: he has authority to destroy both body and soul in Gehenna, not only the mere capability of killing the body and then after that can do nothing to the person (whatever else he might do to the body). That isn't Satan, much less Titus or Vespasian. Nor do the Pharisees have authority to do any of that.

And whatever Gehenna means, it has to refer to a condition where this person who has authority can destroy both soul and body (whatever destroy means here), not only do something else to the body after killing the body. Satan does not have authority (or even the mere power!) to destroy the soul as well as the body, much less Pharisees or Romans; and Romans only killed the bodies at the fall of Jerusalem anyway.
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Re: Beware the One Who Can Throw You Into Hell

Postby corpselight » Tue Sep 17, 2013 7:30 am

JasonPratt wrote:
AllanS wrote:How could I have missed that? :? It's so obvious, once you see it.


I keep missing it because I keep seeing authority to destroy both body and soul in Gehenna.

I'm pretty sure Satan doesn't have that authority, even on NT Wright's theology, regardless of whether the body has been killed yet or not. Which of course doesn't or didn't at the time stop NTW from arguing this refers to Satan anyway. :roll: But I'm reasonably sure I recall that he doesn't account for annihilation being a result of Satan's authority, and he certainly means annihilation by destruction of the soul in Gehenna.

Notably, despite being famous as a preterist, he regards this threat as being more than bodies being thrown in a pit of Hinnom Valley after the fall of Jerusalem. That's because the details undermine a fully preteristic interpretation, too. Who is it we should fear who has authority not only to kill the body (but cannot do anything further to the person after the body is killed), but after the body is killed cast the soul into Gehenna? -- and obviously the soul is being talked about here because there has to be something a person would fear being done to them after the body has been killed, contrasted to not being afraid of those who cannot do more after killing the body.

Matthew's version (probably topically compiled from this incident into his scene of Jesus sending out the twelve on evangelical mission, although Jesus may have also just repeated His teaching two different times) at GosMatt 10:28 makes the reference to the soul explicit. "Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear the one who is able to destroy both soul and body in Gehenna."

Now, I can put those together with contexts and conclude that Jesus isn't talking about an actually hopeless punishment (if God cares so much for mere flowers which are here today and tomorrow are thrown into the furnace, how much more so does He care for you, you of little faith!)

But the question of who should be feared has to be answered by who fits the criteria: he has authority to destroy both body and soul in Gehenna, not only the mere capability of killing the body and then after that can do nothing to the person (whatever else he might do to the body). That isn't Satan, much less Titus or Vespasian. Nor do the Pharisees have authority to do any of that.

And whatever Gehenna means, it has to refer to a condition where this person who has authority can destroy both soul and body (whatever destroy means here), not only do something else to the body after killing the body. Satan does not have authority (or even the mere power!) to destroy the soul as well as the body, much less Pharisees or Romans; and Romans only killed the bodies at the fall of Jerusalem anyway.


yes, i totally have to agree with the above, and i have to note in good conscience that this is not an "easy" verse for Universalism.

i don't even believe in an ontological entity called satan, so in my belief "he" definitely wouldn't have power or authority to do this, and i really don't think even the classic image of Satan i was taught about would have this authority...he is a "toothless" lion, and the keys to death and hell were nicked by our Lord, Sir Jesus Christ (sorry, that's a Little Britain reference nobody will get, but just to lighten the mood for me i selfishly include it 8-) )

Sherman's idea of it meaning shame and destruction of all you loved (which would be one thing worse than simple death) has merit, so maybe there's a way to unpack that a little.

Maybe also the key is to unpack "destroy" or "throw into Gehenna"...are these words accurately translated? i know that the ancient Hebrew concept of destruction = giving over to the Lord, which was "assumed" to mean destruction (but really wouldn't, cause it's God we're talking about, who destroys and resurrects, who is angry for a bit, but favourable for life, and who DOES NOT CAST ASIDE TO THE AGE). So destroy and the rather hopeless use of "throw into Gehenna" would need to not contradict all that.

i also like Sherman's idea of switching the victims of power metaphors.
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Re: Beware the One Who Can Throw You Into Hell

Postby Sherman » Tue Sep 17, 2013 9:18 am

I really think that the point of this passage is that sin (particularly hypocricy) will destroy your soul! Sin has the power (exousia) to go far beyond killing your body, it has the power to destroy your soul!

I think it would be better translated:
4 “I tell you, my friends, do not fear that which only kills the body, but beyond that can do nothing more. 5 But I warn you what to fear: fear that which beyond killing you has the power to cast into you into Hinnom Valley. Yes, I tell you, fear that!

The words translated personally can be just as well translated impersonal. It is sin, especially hypocricy, that destroys our soul! This was a message to the children of God, to his followers, warning them of the leaven of the Pharisees. Misinterpreting this passage to warn of going to "Hell" actully castrates, neuters this passage of it's power to bring life. Believers say to themselves, "Hey, no worries for me. I'm good to go. I'm saved." And unbelievers don't care what it says. Jesus was warning His followers and those listening to Him to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees - hypocricy.
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Re: Beware the One Who Can Throw You Into Hell

Postby JasonPratt » Tue Sep 17, 2013 11:34 am

Sherman wrote:I really think that the point of this passage is that sin (particularly hypocricy) will destroy your soul! Sin has the power (exousia) to go far beyond killing your body, it has the power to destroy your soul!


There are several dozen occurrences of that term in the NT, and looking over them for a few minutes the only ones I can find that might arguably be referring to impersonal power are none of them. ;) (Verrrry disputably as part of that group of spiritual opposition to Christ which Paul occasionally mentions, but even then the analogy would be from human authorities, and Paul sometimes treats the group as being personal powers in rebellion to and even reconciling to Christ, becoming "the head of every {exousia}" for example.) The term is even used for authority given to the apostles in the Matt 10 scene which contains the Matthean parallel of this saying.

So unless this is supposed to be the one and only example otherwise in the NT, or one of a super-minority example, I'm inclined to go with the majority meaning which is evidenced everywhere else. Unless there are strong contextual reasons to think otherwise.

Sherman wrote:I think it would be better translated:
4 “I tell you, my friends, do not fear that which only kills the body, but beyond that can do nothing more. 5 But I warn you what to fear: fear that which beyond killing you has the power to cast into you into Hinnom Valley. Yes, I tell you, fear that!"

The words translated personally can be just as well translated impersonal.


Unless a personal ability reference like {exousia} is used. Which it is.

For what it's worth, the Matt 10 version uses a generic term for capability there which could be impersonal. Also for what it's worth, the pronouns could indeed be translated impersonally in either Gospel.

(Also, if you're going to translated it impersonally, don't forget the plural, found in both Matt and Luke versions: "Do not fear those things which only kill the body, but beyond that can do noting more.")

The local preceding context doesn't seem to bear out the threat being from an impersonal power however in either place. In Matt 10, Christ just got finished encouraging the apostles not to fear persecution and death from personal authorities: if they call the master Beelzeboul, how much rather those of his household, etc.! (Notably the Pharisees had done just that in the incident of the sin against the Holy Spirit, which I grant was certainly a case of their flagrant hypocrisy.) Christ follows up with a warning that He will (personally) disavow those in front of the Father who disavow Him before people. Warnings of personal distress from family persecution are included before end of that address and that chapter.

So the context of Matt 10 before and after verse 28 are repeatedly and strongly warning that those persons who can kill the body are going to do so, but keep on going and don't fear them. I grant it's likely Matthew ported the saying of warning and consolation from the Luke 12 address (which is a different scene) back here for topical convenience, but he dropped it into a context of personal threat to the body and encouragement not to fear those people who can harm the body but that's all.

I'll also grant that Luke (in my harmonization judgment) has a tendency to cluster teaching portions out of chronological order, and that this was most likely part of the teaching on the road during the final approach from Jericho to Jerusalem before Passover (which Luke spreads out as a central saying source throughout the central portion of his Gospel), whereas the dinner with the Pharisees back in chapter 11 most likely happened much earlier, maybe even more than a year earlier. But Luke has at least put them in close proximity for topical purposes, and while again I'll grant that Luke has almost certainly spiced up the dispute with the lawyers and Pharisees at that dinner with sayings from the Greater Condemnation denouncement vs the Pharisees at the Temple on Tuesday or Wednesday of Holy Week (a scene he doesn't otherwise include in his Gospel, so this is as good a place as any to thematically include them) nevertheless the point is that Jesus has thrown down hard against the Pharisees just recently in the narrative and so (11:53) the scribes and the Pharisees are beginning to hem Him in dreadfully and to be quizzing Him concerning more things, ambushing Him, seeking to pounce on something out of His mouth in order to accuse Him. And that's personal persecution with intent to get the crowds in favor of killing Him.

That's the context of the "leaven (sin) of the Pharisees which is hypocrisy": personal persecution by religious authorities to the death. Be not afraid of the ones, therefore, that are killing the body and after this do not have anything more excessive they can do; be afraid of the one that after killing has authority to be casting into Gehenna.

Local context afterward includes a judgment warning (just like in GosMatt) that those who disavow Christ, which (like GosMatt) uses a term involving personal renunciation of Christ to other persons (disavowed before men, or avowed before men), shall be disavowed by Christ before the Father (or avowed).

(Also there's another callback to the sin of hypocrisy of the Pharisees at the incident of the sin against the Holy Spirit, which Luke provides direct reference to here 12:10. He hadn't included that point when relating the incident earlier, unlike Mark and Matt.)

What follows and ends this pericope? A warning that the disciples will be persecuted by human authorities, but encouragement that the Holy Spirit will help them defend themselves.

So again, in somewhat similar and somewhat different ways (including thematic connection to prominent Pharisee hypocrisy scenes in GosMatt which GosLuke happens not to otherwise report), the situational context locally before and after Luke 12:4-5, involves persecution by personal authorities. For whatever reason, he's placed it into a context of personal threat to the body and encouragement not to fear those people who can harm the body but that's all.

Possibly Jesus had in mind Isaiah 8:12-13, where YHWH is encouraging people not to fear the coming Assyrian punishment, even though it was going to result in death, but to fear and dread YHWH the holy ADNY of armies (Who was the one authoritatively sending the evildoers to destroy both houses of Israel). I don't know of a verbal connection to those verses here, but thematically they not only fit the notion of fearing God instead of human persecutors, even if they persecute you to death, but also could be a preteristic connection if someone wanted to tease that out I guess. :)

Sherman wrote:It is sin, especially hypocricy, that destroys our soul! This was a message to the children of God, to his followers, warning them of the leaven of the Pharisees. Misinterpreting this passage to warn of going to "Hell" actully castrates, neuters this passage of it's power to bring life.


I should think neutering this passage of its power to encourage people to stand up for Christ against those who might kill you for doing so, since Christ will judge against you if you betray Him, reduces its power significantly; and more to the point, ignores many of the surrounding contexts. It's explicitly a warning to people currently following Christ, and there are ways to ignore the surrounding contexts which would admittedly lead people already Christian to never mind about it. But I'm against those interpretations, too, for exactly the same reasons as above.

And I do agree that sin, especially hypocrisy, destroys our soul -- and often our body, too! (Even though sin doesn't have any real {exousia} to do so. ;) ) I certainly don't mean to deny that, even if I don't think the immediate grammar and local contexts (fore and aft, on either Gospel account of this saying) add up to that.
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Re: Beware the One Who Can Throw You Into Hell

Postby Username » Tue Sep 17, 2013 12:04 pm

Got to agree with James and Jason, here. No way is this a reference to 'Satan' (whoever 'he' may be - and I'm with James that 'he' is not an ontological entity).

Even if you believe Satan is indeed a 'person', since when did he have the authority - or even the ability - to "destroy both body and soul in hell" (Matthew 10:28, the synoptic parallel of Luke 12:5)?

And the context is pretty straightforward also - don't be afraid, you are worth more than many sparrows etc.

Sorry, Richard, but this doesn't fly at all for me.
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Re: Beware the One Who Can Throw You Into Hell

Postby Sherman » Tue Sep 17, 2013 12:07 pm

Hi Jason, I tend not to "harmonize" the Gospels and instead seek to understand each passage based on it's particular context. I was only looking at the context of Luke, and in Luke Jesus is warning of the leaven of the Pharisees, hypocricy. As you noted, Matthew is significantly different. I don't see a need for similar passages to say the same thing. Matthew's and Luke's audience, passions, and style are very different from one another.

I understand what you're saying about exousia. And you are correct that it is used to speak of authority/power and usually, if not always, personal. Sin/hypocricy being personified is not an issue to me though. Jesus/Luke is talking about the leaven of the Pharisees, hypocricy and how destructive it is. And Jesus immediately then highlighting the goodness of God fits well too, for it is the goodness of God that leads us to repentance.

As you note though, He could be warning them to not fear the Pharisees who can only kill their body but cannot cast them into Hinnom Valley. Hmm, I see what you're saying more clearly. I'll have to reconsider the passage further.
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Re: Beware the One Who Can Throw You Into Hell

Postby AllanS » Tue Sep 17, 2013 1:54 pm

Luke 12.4-7
I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.


Be very, very afraid of God, says Jesus, but don't be afraid. :? This makes no sense.

How about this? Jesus was saying, "Repent, or you too will perish." Rome had the authority not only to kill the individual, but to obliterate Israel (and fill Gehenna with corpses.) In this, the Romans would be acting as God's agent. However, those who did repent had nothing to fear from God.

Of course, from the point of view of Israel, Rome would be the very devil.
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Re: Beware the One Who Can Throw You Into Hell

Postby Chrisguy90 » Tue Sep 17, 2013 3:01 pm

How bout this paraphrase:

"Fear the one who loves you so much that he will throw you into Hell to save you from yourself."

?
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Re: Beware the One Who Can Throw You Into Hell

Postby SLJ » Tue Sep 17, 2013 3:14 pm

As I see it, he's telling them not to fear men, who can do no permanent harm. The one to fear is God -- yet we should not be afraid, knowing He loves us.

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Re: Beware the One Who Can Throw You Into Hell

Postby corpselight » Tue Sep 17, 2013 4:19 pm

SLJ wrote:As I see it, he's telling them not to fear men, who can do no permanent harm. The one to fear is God -- yet we should not be afraid, knowing He loves us.

Sonia

Wow...that is excellent. Nicely and concisely put! Why mention the sparrows after if He is trying to make us fear God in the negative way.
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Re: Beware the One Who Can Throw You Into Hell

Postby davo » Wed Sep 18, 2013 3:42 pm

AllanS wrote:How about this? Jesus was saying, "Repent, or you too will perish." Rome had the authority not only to kill the individual, but to obliterate Israel (and fill Gehenna with corpses.) In this, the Romans would be acting as God's agent. However, those who did repent had nothing to fear from God.

Of course, from the point of view of Israel, Rome would be the very devil.

Again yes… thus “the satan” as NTW has it would equate with Rome, as Rome was the great power ‘opposing’ the people of God.

To have one’s very “soul” cast to Gehenna, as per Matt 10, for the Jew would be to plunge the very depths of shame, condemnation and contempt. This threat to the soul was poignant, to the very core of their covenant identity, as only the most vile of criminals by the hand of Rome were faced with this most shameful of ends.
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Re: Beware the One Who Can Throw You Into Hell

Postby AllanS » Wed Sep 18, 2013 5:00 pm

davo wrote: “the satan” as NTW has it would equate with Rome, as Rome was the great power ‘opposing’ the people of God.


Peter echoes Jesus' saying.

"Cast all your anxiety on him... Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings."

Again, the enemy could be Rome: a great persecuting power, hungry for conquest.

To have one’s very “soul” cast to Gehenna, as per Matt 10, for the Jew would be to plunge the very depths of shame, condemnation and contempt. This threat to the soul was poignant, to the very core of their covenant identity, as only the most vile of criminals by the hand of Rome were faced with this most shameful of ends.


Yes.
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Re: Beware the One Who Can Throw You Into Hell

Postby JasonPratt » Thu Sep 19, 2013 5:30 am

Sherman wrote:Hi Jason, I tend not to "harmonize" the Gospels and instead seek to understand each passage based on it's particular context. I was only looking at the context of Luke, and in Luke Jesus is warning of the leaven of the Pharisees, hypocricy. As you noted, Matthew is significantly different. I don't see a need for similar passages to say the same thing. Matthew's and Luke's audience, passions, and style are very different from one another.


When I commented on them, I acknowledged that the saying takes place at entirely different scenes, and examined the particular contexts of each scene in detail, showing both their similarities and differences.

The similarities, are that both scenes are talking about encouraging Christians to keep the faith under pressure from other people especially human authorities, since Christ will authoritatively disavow those who formally disavow Him to spare themselves the trial.

The differences, are that each scene presents those similarities in somewhat different ways, as well as presenting those similarities in exactly similar ways. ;)

Sherman wrote:I understand what you're saying about exousia. And you are correct that it is used to speak of authority/power and usually, if not always, personal. Sin/hypocricy being personified is not an issue to me though.


Nor me either in principle; but I see plenty of reason, in the surrounding local contexts of each occurrence of the saying, to be comparing personal authorities who are actually personal not mere personifications. The opponents of Christ are all personal, and in their own limited ways personally authoritative, in judging those who avow and disavow Christ; Christ and the Father are personal in authoritatively judging those who avow and disavow Christ. The opponents of Christ may have authority and capability to kill the body but nothing more; the Son and the Father certainly have authority and capability to do more than kill the body (regardless of whether They use that authority or to what extent They use it).

I see absolutely no reason, from the context, to introduce sin as a personalization having metaphorical authority to do what two personal authorities in the context of both sayings certainly have the authority and power to do (the Son and the Father), in judgment against a person, which judgment the context of both sayings indisputably mentions (disavowing those who disavow Christ to spare themselves from trial by human authorities).

An argument would have to be made from extended context somehow trumping the local surrounding context, and/or from theological principle (for example God has no power or authority to destroy the soul as well as the body, nor to send a person to Gehenna whatever that means.)

An argument from theological principle (metaphysics) and/or from extended context, that God won't hopelessly destroy the soul in Gehenna (purga-u), or maybe won't destroy the soul even a little in Gehenna (ultra-u), despite maybe disavowing those who disavow Christ to avoid trial, would not be an argument that we shouldn't in principle fear God more than human authorities, if it comes to a question of acting or not acting from fear. More positively, our respect for God should be greater than our respect for creaturely authorities opposing God.

Sherman wrote:And Jesus immediately then highlighting the goodness of God fits well too, for it is the goodness of God that leads us to repentance.


Yep, that's super-important, too, because it clarifies that even if God must judge against someone authoritatively He doesn't do so hatefully or hopelessly. :) Nor can someone get around that reassurance about God's intentions, by foisting the hopeless off on the Father, from Whom we are protected by the Son (somehow): because the Son Himself on one hand says He joins the Father in the judgment (so no division in intention there), and on the other hand says Himself that the Father (not merely the Son) values people more than flowers which are thrown into the firey furnace.

Still, I don't want to deny that sin destroys one's soul as well as body in various ways and to various degrees, no more than I would deny that Satan destroys one's soul as well s body in various ways and to various degrees. I just deny that either one has authority (or even the capability) to send someone to Gehenna, or to destroy either body or soul in Gehenna. That puts Satan and/or sin in authoritative charge of Gehenna! That couldn't possibly be good theology.

Even NT Wright knows better than that (elsewhere. ;) )
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Re: Beware the One Who Can Throw You Into Hell

Postby davo » Thu Sep 19, 2013 6:08 am

AllanS wrote:Again, the enemy could be Rome: a great persecuting power, hungry for conquest.

Yes for the main part when it came to historic Israel of the day this was true, and yet when it comes closer to home “the adversary” of the Ad30-70 firstfruits church was the religious elite i.e., the Pharisees and Sadducees AND in particular the Judaisers [Gal 2:4; Acts 15:1, 5, 24] – those believers who were falling back to law-righteousness, in many cases abandoning the faith and so shipwrecking the faith of others in the process, as per the likes of Hymenaeus, Philetus and Alexander 1Tim 1:19-20; 2Tim 2:17-18.

Paul tackles this problem of ‘reversion’ head-on, as in… Gal 3:1-3; 5:1-4; Col 2:20-23 et al.
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Re: Beware the One Who Can Throw You Into Hell

Postby Sherman » Thu Sep 19, 2013 7:57 am

SLJ wrote:As I see it, he's telling them not to fear men, who can do no permanent harm. The one to fear is God -- yet we should not be afraid, knowing He loves us.

Sonia

Well said Sonia! As I've thought on this passage more, especially considering 1) the points Jason made about exousia/authority, and 2) that cast into Hinnom Valley speaks of God's ultimate judgment of Israel/Jerusalem destruction by the Babylonians in the past and Romans to come, it seems that Jesus is encouraging His audience to realize that God is the only One we need to fear; and yet we should have faith in Him because He loves us. Being cast into Hinnom Valley was the most graphic, emotional, painful personal and corporaate Judgment God had ever inflicted upon the Jews, forever scaring their collective racial memories. It was judgment rooted in the love of God for His people; though terribly painful it was necessary to bring about God's good plans for them.

And in the context of hypocricy this makes sense too, because hypocricy is rooted in the fear of man! We pretend to be something we are not to gain or maintain the approval of others! Such hypocricy was the "leaven of the Pharisees".

As I think on Hinnom Valley being a scar on the racial memories of the Jews, it would be similar to the more recent scar of Auschwitz on the racial memories of the Jews today, except being cast into Hinnom Valley was understood to be the Judgment of God because of the sin of the people as is portrayed by the prophets Jeremiah and Isaiah. I don't think that Auschwitz carries that same connotation. Jesus used the most graphic example of God's Judgment of His beloved, Israel, to call the people to repentance and freedom in God, freedom from the fear of man, which is the root of hypocricy, the leaven of the Pharisees!
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Re: Beware the One Who Can Throw You Into Hell

Postby james.goetz » Thu Sep 19, 2013 10:43 am

I see no problem with Christ saying that God throws people in hell. After all, hell is not irrevocable damnation.
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Re: Beware the One Who Can Throw You Into Hell

Postby AllanS » Thu Sep 19, 2013 1:45 pm

davo wrote:Yes for the main part when it came to historic Israel of the day this was true, and yet when it comes closer to home “the adversary” of the Ad30-70 firstfruits church was the religious elite i.e., the Pharisees and Sadducees AND in particular the Judaisers [Gal 2:4; Acts 15:1, 5, 24] – those believers who were falling back to law-righteousness, in many cases abandoning the faith and so shipwrecking the faith of others in the process, as per the likes of Hymenaeus, Philetus and Alexander 1Tim 1:19-20; 2Tim 2:17-18.

Paul tackles this problem of ‘reversion’ head-on, as in… Gal 3:1-3; 5:1-4; Col 2:20-23 et al.


Yes. NTWright identifies (John's) Babylon as Jerusalem.
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Re: Beware the One Who Can Throw You Into Hell

Postby davo » Thu Sep 19, 2013 10:21 pm

Sherman wrote:…and 2) that cast into Hinnom Valley speaks of God's ultimate judgment of Israel/Jerusalem destruction by the Babylonians in the past and Romans to come,…

This Babylon connection is why I understand Jerusalem’s Ad70 conflagration, aka “the lake of fire” as “the second death” – her first death if you will was her exile in Babylon; “exile” being covenantal or spiritual death. It was from this exile/death that Israel was promised resurrection, i.e., covenant restoration/renewal, and that came in the form or person of Jesus Christ.

AllanS wrote:Yes. NTWright identifies (John's) Babylon as Jerusalem.

Again yes indeed Allan, which is why these texts from John likewise fit in with the reversion scenario… 1Jn 2:19; 4:1; 2Jn 1:7 – these were they who had “turned back” [Heb 10:26-27, 29, 39] now to be “twice dead” [Jude 1:12], those “having escaped” the OC world of works-righteousness only to be “overcome” again [2Pet 2:1, 20-22], whose end was to be a rather fiery one [Heb 6:4-8].
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Re: Beware the One Who Can Throw You Into Hell

Postby JasonPratt » Fri Sep 20, 2013 5:02 am

Sherman wrote:
SLJ wrote:As I see it, he's telling them not to fear men, who can do no permanent harm. The one to fear is God -- yet we should not be afraid, knowing He loves us.

Sonia

Well said Sonia! As I've thought on this passage more, especially considering 1) the points Jason made about exousia/authority, and 2) that cast into Hinnom Valley speaks of God's ultimate judgment of Israel/Jerusalem destruction by the Babylonians in the past and Romans to come, it seems that Jesus is encouraging His audience to realize that God is the only One we need to fear; and yet we should have faith in Him because He loves us.


That's all I was trying to say, yep. :)

It's like when a loving parent says, "I brought you into this world, and I can take you out of it!" That reflects a real point on which we ought to respect our parents, but that doesn't mean our mother or father is going to annihilate us or torment us in punishment forever with no hope.

Being cast into Hinnom Valley was the most graphic, emotional, painful personal and corporaate Judgment God had ever inflicted upon the Jews, forever scaring their collective racial memories. It was judgment rooted in the love of God for His people; though terribly painful it was necessary to bring about God's good plans for them.

Sherman wrote:And in the context of hypocricy this makes sense too, because hypocricy is rooted in the fear of man! We pretend to be something we are not to gain or maintain the approval of others! Such hypocricy was the "leaven of the Pharisees".


Very good point! -- I hadn't even thought of it that way, but Jesus (and the evangelists in commentary) talks about that, too, elsewhere.

Sherman wrote:As I think on Hinnom Valley being a scar on the racial memories of the Jews, it would be similar to the more recent scar of Auschwitz on the racial memories of the Jews today, except being cast into Hinnom Valley was understood to be the Judgment of God because of the sin of the people as is portrayed by the prophets Jeremiah and Isaiah. I don't think that Auschwitz carries that same connotation.


Probably because no prophet arose to warn about it and interpret it that way. It's an interesting question whether God expects His people to think of it that way, though. Jews don't like to call it the Holocaust (a cleansing sacrifice to God), they prefer to call it the Shoah, but I think that has connection to the binding of Isaac, which hardly seems a good parallel! It's been a while since I read about that, though, and I may be way off... :?

Sherman wrote:Jesus used the most graphic example of God's Judgment of His beloved, Israel, to call the people to repentance and freedom in God, freedom from the fear of man, which is the root of hypocricy, the leaven of the Pharisees!


8-)
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Re: Beware the One Who Can Throw You Into Hell

Postby Sobornost » Fri May 30, 2014 1:33 pm

As for who has the power to kill body and soul in Gehenna – just because Matthew adds ‘soul’ here I don’t see why this should refer to God’s annihilating prerogative. ‘Soul’ is used in the OT before there was any concept of Resurrection. It refers to our mental and emotional life. It is God’s sprit that gives life and life in the resurrection and only this is eternal. As for ‘fear’ what does this mean – does it mean be very wary of indeed – does it mean the fear of adoration (I understand the word can mean many different things according to context). Does the Satan have authority - well he has been given authority (whatever this means) an the earth and Gehenna are seen in the NT and in early tradition are seen in a sense begin his kingdoms. But his kingdom is coming to an end – Jesus saw Satan fall like lighting from heaven - the metaphor for the seat of his authority. Jesus unlocks or even batters down the doors of Satan’s’ kingdom by his ascent into Hades.

There’s been a lot of jiggling about with texts on this thread – and I sympathise. In the end I’ve got a reasonable hypothesis here I think – and it chimes with N.T. Wright and Richard who posed the question then left it up in the air).

But my real reason for rejecting outright the idea that God actually sends foreign armies to punish his unfaithful people – no matter that the faithful and the unfaithful, the guilty and the innocent are mixed up together in this, is that of course it leads me to reflections on the Shoah.
I think the answer as to whether God expects his people to see the holocaust this way has to be a resounding No – it has to be for me anyway. Obviously we can find much in the Christian tradition from both Luther and Calvin obviously – that could lead to this interpretation sadly.
Shoah means ‘destruction’ in Hebrew. If it has any connection to the binding of Isaac I know why. There is a minority Jewish tradition from the middle ages which has it that Isaac was actually killed. This tradition dates from liturgies in use at the time when Crusaders massacred Jews in the Rhineland on the way to the Holy Land and because of the terrible deaths that awaited them and their children at the hands of the crusaders Jewish communities would commit suicide and kill their children too after a liturgy about the binding of Isaac.

I know that there was plenty of anti-Semitism amongst conservative Christians prior to the Shoah. I know there is a whole genre grown up in America of the heroic conservative Christians who resisted the Shoah – although the majority of conservative Christians did not and likewise this downplays the heroic efforts by non conservative Christians in resisting the holocaust (and Bonheoffer has even had to be re-baptised as a hellfire believing conservative Christina to make the myth fit together). The cold embrace of Christian Zionism –that still envisages/ looks forwards to two thirds of Jews who do not convert to Christ being slighted at Armaggedon – again is to me a strategy of denial.

As for the God of avenging armies – this God was no help in the Shoah. As Bonheoffer said – only a vulnerable and suffering God who allows himself to be pushed out to the margins can help us now. I think the Shoah should teach both Christians and Jews about the hidden nature of God. God allows evil – and armies plundering and raping and torturing indiscriminately are evil. But God is with us . I cannot believe in the Lord of Armies.
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Re: Beware the One Who Can Throw You Into Hell

Postby davo » Sun Jun 01, 2014 8:03 pm

G’day Dick…
Sobornost wrote:But my real reason for rejecting outright the idea that God actually sends foreign armies to punish his unfaithful people – no matter that the faithful and the unfaithful, the guilty and the innocent are mixed up together in this, is that of course it leads me to reflections on the Shoah.

Under the Old Covenant, and I stress “OLD” covenant, divine judgement/retribution at the hand of “foreign nations” was in deed a reality in accord with stipulated covenant sanctions, as per Deuteronomy and also later ‘the prophets’. For example, the OT testifies to the destructive Assyrian and Babylonian hordes; both these a direct result of covenant disobedience.

You also have in Jesus’ very own “this generation” period the devastation and destruction wrought throughout Palestine and in particular Jerusalem by Rome, AD66-70. So there IS biblical credence for said reckonings. But that said, I must qualify… as a pantelist it is my understanding that with Christ came the end of the old covenant age or “world” and since the AD30-70 “this generation” God’s new age or “world” of GRACE applies humanity-wide, i.e., I give NO PLACE to any thoughts of God judging any nation or peoples, and in particular horrid incidents as the Holocaust etc… such atrocities are man’s doing alone.

That God did deal harshly with many in Israel of old and with those whom Israel wiped out with sanction I can only accept as is, but take solace in the belief that there really is more to LIFE than the temporal years of existence here on Terra firma, as has always been the case.
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Re: Beware the One Who Can Throw You Into Hell

Postby Sobornost » Mon Jun 02, 2014 4:14 am

G'day Davo -

I appreciate you point here. So pantelism is a toe if dispensationalism- only unlike many other forms of dispensationalism where God's dread violence is still imagined to be coming against GOd's/our 'enemies' (however we conceive of them) pantelism sees the dispensation of violence as a thing of the past, and is basically Lutheran in seeing two dispensations of Law and then Grace/Love, rather than the Scofield multiple ages within three dispensations ? Well apart from all the definitional guff I've just spouted :lol: - you'll get my drift. If so and if the notion of a the dispensation of violence being in the past mode informs your understanding of Christ, I haven't got any argument with you in spirit certainly :)
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Re: Beware the One Who Can Throw You Into Hell

Postby JaelSister » Mon Jun 02, 2014 5:10 am

This passage gives me no terror fear. Nor does it make me question my universalism. It could only do this if your presuppositions coming to this are that hell is eternal and that hell is torture, fire or annhilation. I see Gehenna as the metaphor for God's Spirit's fire. God's judgement that prunes and refines us all. It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of God, needing to be judged and refined. Much better to work with Jesus towards what he wants you to be now. But we need not fear ultimately. We are worth more than many sparrows. That is precisely why our Father doesn't let even the worst of His children continue devolving, but rather refines them in Gehenna.

I'm with you Dick in that I've never seen God behind armies that are wiping out the innocent along with the guilty. But then I find some of the OT is written as saga. Not an untrue story, but a story told as saga for the people it was written to, in their time with their understanding. Rather like the laws regarding raped virgins, which sound horrific to us now. But back then likely the women themselves were asking for those marriages, like in the case of Amnon and Tamar. Such was the shame and destitute fate inflicted on women who were no longer virgins.

We will never understand these ancient writings unless we look at them through the cultural lens and understanding of the people they were written for. I don't see scriptures as the perfect manual to run our lives by, but rather the sacred text of God's interaction with various peoples, filled with wisdom but also mystery. Great care needs to be taken when applying it concretely to anything, lest we make big mistakes due to either our lack of understanding or the manipulations of unscrupulous leaders. The bible has been used to justify slavery and the abolition of slavery. It can be a two edged sword in our hands.

If I read a scripture that appears to indicate God is unjust, cruel or evil, by His own standards and by the virtues Christ espoused, I assume I've misunderstood it and seek to understand how, rather than try to find loopholes around a good, loving god tossing people into eternal fire
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Re: Beware the One Who Can Throw You Into Hell

Postby JasonPratt » Mon Jun 02, 2014 5:51 am

Sobornost wrote:As for who has the power to kill body and soul in Gehenna – just because Matthew adds ‘soul’ here I don’t see why this should refer to God’s annihilating prerogative. ‘Soul’ is used in the OT before there was any concept of Resurrection. It refers to our mental and emotional life. It is God’s sprit that gives life and life in the resurrection and only this is eternal.


The point is that Jesus is contrasting the ones who can only kill the body and do nothing more, to the one who can kill the body and also kill the soul. Apart from resurrection and/or the continuing existence of the spirit, those who kill the body must also be killing the mental and emotional life so far as that naturally goes! There would be no point to making the contrast at all, if the soul here only meant the mental/emotional life of the spirit-inhabited body. Whoever it is Jesus says we're supposed to fear, it's someone who can do more than the people whom He says not to fear who can only kill the body -- and who cannot throw both body and soul into Gehenna. So Gehenna here also means something more than an earthly grave for bodies.

Sobornost wrote:As for ‘fear’ what does this mean – does it mean be very wary of indeed – does it mean the fear of adoration (I understand the word can mean many different things according to context).


I fully acknowledge that Jesus might very well mean two different things by the same term for 'fear' here.

But obviously Jesus cannot be saying that we ought to adore with numinous 'fear' (for want of a better term) Satan or sin! -- much less that we ought to numinously adore Satan and/or sin instead of not being safety-wary of those who can only kill the body and after that can do nothing more (like kill/destroy the soul as well as the body, including by throwing both into Gehenna). So to bring up the possibility of distinctive contrasting term usage here only makes sense if God/the Father is the One Whom Jesus means we ought to (numinously) fear instead of those other persons.

Also, I'm somewhat dubious that even early tradition talked about Gehenna being in any sense the beginning of Satan's kingdom (though that did start showing up later); but I defy anyone to argue from the NT (or even from the OT) that Gehenna is the beginning of Satan's kingdom. Or that it refers to Satan's kingdom at all (end or middle or whatever).

Sobornost wrote:There’s been a lot of jiggling about with texts on this thread – and I sympathise. In the end I’ve got a reasonable hypothesis here I think – and it chimes with N.T. Wright and Richard who posed the question then left it up in the air).


As I mentioned earlier upthread, NTW thinks this is referring to annihilation or at least to the preteristic fall of Jerusalem (he certainly doesn't think the two ideas are mutually exclusive); but he elsewhere acknowledges and insists that God is the one Who annihilates, and I'm pretty sure he acknowledges God to be the authority behind the fall of Jerusalem.

I will also note that if these two parallel sayings (at somewhat different times and circumstances) are not meant to be prophetic of the fall of Jerusalem (and I don't think they are), then of course they aren't referring to God sending armies to destroy Jerusalem; so concluding that God is the one Jesus expects us to fear wouldn't involve an example of that (in this case. I have to agree that God is treated elsewhere as the authority for the coming fall of Jerusalem.)


Sobornost wrote:But my real reason for rejecting outright the idea that God actually sends foreign armies to punish his unfaithful people – no matter that the faithful and the unfaithful, the guilty and the innocent are mixed up together in this


That is certainly a problem, but the texts do talk about God being the authority for that (even if not these particular texts).


Sobornost wrote:I cannot believe in the Lord of Armies.
I weep over the belief that God zorches as much as over nay notional belief about God torturing people in eternity. I’m sorry if that sounds intolerant of me but I do.


I don't think it sounds intolerant of you; and I'm pretty sure it's better to weep over that belief than otherwise.

But as I was discussing over in another related thread, there are good theological reasons for God to insist on being authoritatively responsible even for allowing such things to happen.

And even then, the Shoah can only be baptized as a 'Holocaust' if God Himself is suffering with His people; and completely aside from whether what happened to the Nazi victims was sent as a specific punishment from God (for which we have no prophetic reason), God must suffer with those who fell in Jerusalem, too.

That's also part of the point of Jesus applying the phoenix/mother-hen-in-fire imagery.
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