BY: ADOLPH E. KNOCH
BY: ARTHUR W. PINK
TITLE and SUBTITLES
We Are Not “Universalists
Tradition Is Not Truth
An Appeal To Apostasy
The Scriptures Cannot Teach What They Seem To!
Adam’s Transgression Is the Ground of the Type
An Analysis of the Passages
The Commentaries of Christendom
The Conciliation of the World
“All Mankind” Is Better Than “All Men”
THE VIVIFICATION OF ALL
A serious Perversion, Will They Correct It?
What Happens Thereafter?
What Does Paul Write About?
“Sleep” for Death is Not Confined to Believers
He Who Lives and Believes shall Never Die
The Second Death is Natural, Physical Death
The Meaning Of “ALL in ALL”
Paternal Authority Replaces Government
A Faulty Foundation for a False Argument
In English, “the All” means the Universe
If Christ Creates All, He also Reconciles All
The Aorist is Not a Past Tense
The Greek “Neuter” is Indefinite
“Whether…or” Amplifies It Does Not Limit
Conciliation Is One-sided
Reconciliation Is Mutual
THE EONIAN TIMES
“The Ends of the World”— When Is It?
The Consummations of the Eons have Arrived, in Spirit
Did Christ Appear at “the End of the World?”
Sin will be Repudiated at the Conclusion of the Eons
Is Twenty Thousand Years a “Temporary” Period?
Before Eternal Times
Judgment Follows The Judgment Season
We Believe that Sinners will Suffer for Sin
The Unbeliever will not be Saved through Faith
Judgment Follows The Judgment Season
We Believe that Sinners will Suffer for Sin
The Unbeliever will not be Saved through Faith
Sodom Shall Return to her Former estate
The Temporal Process is not the Final Result
The Character of our God Controls our Conduct
It is written: “Faithful is the saying and worthy of all welcome, for for this are we toiling and being reproached, that `We rely on the living God, Who is the Saviour of all mankind, especially of those who believe.’ These things be charging and teaching. Let no one be despising your youth…” (1 Tim.4:9-12) It is written again: “Now the Lord’s slave ought not to be fighting, but to be gentle to all, apt to teach, bearing with evil, in meekness training those who are antagonizing, if perchance in time God may give them repentance to come into a realization of the truth. (2 Tim.2:24-25)
The reproach, which is promised to those who believe that God is the Savior of all mankind, is administered in an article in the March and April numbers of Our Hope, by Arthur W. Pink, entitled “Universalism Refuted, Eternal Punishment Established From the Scriptures.” It is introduced by an editorial in the March number by A. C. Gaebelein. It must needs be that this reproach should come, that the Scriptures may be fulfilled. Yet we cannot help a feeling of sorrow that these brethren, whom God has used for the truth, should fall so far from the standard set in the second quotation.
The spirit, which pervades the article is but a reflex of the doctrine which it teaches. Those who do not hesitate to consign the majority of mankind to endless torture naturally are not tender of the feelings of any of God’s creatures. As God gains so few they care little about convincing or convicting those they deem in error. Let us not judge these brethren too harshly. If we believed as they do, we should probably pursue the same course. We would gladly omit the offensive terms in the following quotations, But they are so interwoven that it is difficult to do so, and we may be misjudged.
WE ARE NOT “UNIVERSALISTS
That this article is not the ordinary kind, but is considered crushing and conclusive by the editor of Our Hope is evident from his editorial concerning it. After suggesting that we believe the lie of the serpent “Ye shall not surely die” (though we teach that the unbeliever dies twice), he continues:
As we will reprint the greater part of the article in our reply, little need be said by way of introduction. After several pages of appeal to the prejudices of his readers, he seeks to show that the justification of all mankind in the fifth of Romans is confined to the elect, that the vivification of all in the fifteenth of first Corinthians is confined to the resurrection of the saints, and that the reconciliation of the universe in the first of Colossians is limited to the things (not persons) in earth and heaven. This is followed by putting “the ending of the ages” in the past, and a discussion of the word “eternal.”
We are grievously slandered by being called “Universalists.” Lest we should be guilty of the same sin, and misrepresent the writer of this article, we sent for another of his pamphlets on this same subject, “Universalism Examined and Refuted.” In it he gives his definition of “Universalism” again and again, by telling what they believe. On almost every point we do not hold what he attributes to Universalists. Is it honest for him to call us by this name, knowing that in so doing he is fastening on us a stigma which will prejudice his readers against us? He says “They insist on the Fatherhood of God and universal Brotherhood of man.” They believe that Christ suffered at the hands of men, but deny that He suffered at the hand of God.” “They deny that Christ died to satisfy the demands of God’s broken law…” They “insist that an age spent in the Lake of Fire will remove the dross from and refine the character of the one who is sent there by God.” They say “there is something good still within man, something that is capable of being educated by punishment.” Now he knows that we do not hold any of these things. We would be glad to think the slander a matter of ignorance. But since he knows what Universalists teach and knows what we teach –
We feel this matter very keenly, for, while we are glad to suffer reproach for the sake of God’s truth, we cannot bear to be classed with those who, according to their reputed teaching, dishonor our Saviour, and our God. May God forgive him this wrong!
“Universalism Refuted, Eternal Punishment Established
From the Scriptures”
Arthur W. Pink
TRADITION IS NOT TRUTH
In these opening paragraphs the writer bares the principles, which pervade his protest. In it he denies the solemn truth that we are living in an era when men turn away from the truth. (2 Tim. 4:4) As he does not believe God’s express declarations as to this matter, we find him continually turning away from the Scriptures themselves to find some human authority on which to lean. The tradition of the elders is, to him, the voice of God.
The second principle, which permeates and vitiates almost all he says is a lamentable looseness in dealing with the words of God. Paul’s exhortation to Timothy is unheeded, for there is no attempt at a pattern of sound words (2 Tim.1:13). Unsound theological terms are defended. The 1611 translation of the Bible does not “affirm the everlasting punishment of those who die in their sins.” This is said of the nations at the left hand of the Son of Man when He comes in His glory (Matt.25:31-46), not of untold billions “who die in their sins.”
Those who degrade the word of God below the words of men, or so pervert the word of God as to apply a statement made to a particular class at a special time to all men at all times, deserve to be in darkness. We would not speak of this opening statement if it stood alone. But the principles involved are at the base of his whole position. We are told that, in Romans, all men does not mean all men, but only the elect. In Corinthians “in Christ all” means “all in Christ.” In Colossians “the all” means “all things.” He deals loosely with God’s inspired words yet insists on hanging all on human perversions.
Reverent and honest minds will remember what God has said concerning the apostasy of the end time and will believe God that the errors of the last days will be very grave. It is not a question to be decided by mental incapacity, but by a written revelation.
Whenever a writer begins by creating a prejudice in the minds of his readers in favor of a doctrine for which he cannot find sufficient support in the word of God, he reminds them of the crime of differing from godly men. It is perfectly proper for good men to differ among themselves, it is quite commendable that he should differ from them in many matters, but for anyone else to appeal to the Scriptures themselves – that is the height of heresy! We shall see that, in differing from such men as Calvin on the subject before us, our brother has classed himself as a criminal in this indictment! These godly men all had much truth and some error. Does our brother believe Luther’s doctrine that the bread and the wine are transformed into the actual body and blood of the Lord? That the epistle of James is not inspired?
AN APPEAL TO APOSTACY
But, suppose that we are so constituted that we must have something besides the revelation God has given, what should our reason recommend? Seeing that the Scriptures plainly teach that this economy will end in apostasy, the presumption is that all doctrines, which are commonly received throughout Christendom, are false. They should be viewed with suspicion. None should be received without first being tested by God’s word. Such, for instance, is the orthodox dogma of inherent immortality. The overwhelming majority of men, including the great and good, believe it. Yet the Scriptures emphatically deny it. It is not conceit but faith that follows the word of God.
Or, if we cannot see the appalling plight of the apostasy, we should fall back upon the simple, clear statements concerning God Himself, and the spirit, which He has given us. God is love, and the spirit He has given us is one of grace. The nature of God and the new life of the believer are utterly opposed to hatred. We are to love even our enemies and do them good, because this is what God does. Suppress it, stifle it, denounce it we may, but no real believer has ever escaped the thought, “How can God torture His creatures forever and ever?” Every honest heart will bear witness to this. This does not prove eternal torment to be wrong, but it does cast a cloud of suspicion upon it. What is so contrary to the spirit, which we have received from God demands investigation. If it is of God, let us cling to it: if not, let us repudiate it. Its nearly universal spread proves that it is a part of the apostasy, if it proves anything.
But even those who have the mind of Christ cannot be the final arbiters of truth, for they differ among themselves. Truth should be viewed in the light of the revealed character of God. Both His attributes and His essence are irrevocably arrayed against eternal torment. It outrages His love, it sullies His holiness, it robs Him of His justice. Limited suffering satisfies love, and fully answers the demands of justice and holiness. It was so in the case of Christ. If eternity alone can suffice for sin, why does not the Saviour suffer eternally?
This paragraph is a deliberate attempt to create the false impression that we invariably change the accepted versions to suit our teaching. But what are the facts? He (not we) wants to alter “all men” to “all the elect.” (Rom.5:18) He actually does corrupt “in Christ all” to “all in Christ.“ (1 Cor.15:22) Worse than this, in order to undermine our more accurate rendering, “the universe” for “all things,” he actually offers misleading and false evidence and suppresses the true! We do not need to change these passages. He does. We are willing to leave them as they are.
With regard to the word for the ages, is there a single modern translator or expositor who does not, in some passage, give the true meaning? Newberry calls attention to it. Rotherham has two long notes on it and, I believe, always has age or age-abiding. The Revisers have age in the margin half of the time. We have taken the most straightforward course possible in a case like this, and have simply transliterated the Greek, leaving the interpretation to the reader. Nay, more than that, we venture to say that our brother himself refuses such phrases as “the end of the world.” So that our real crime lies in doing just as he does–only doing it consistently.
The next few pages are so contradictory that they cancel themselves, hence we shall not transcribe them. On one page we are told that good men have searched the Scriptures “with the hope they might discover something which would at least modify” that “against which their own sentiments revolted,” on another eternal torment commends itself “to the consciences of His children.” If the unction they received approved of the teaching of eternal torment, why did they try to find some escape from it?
As, however, we build nothing on such broken reeds as these, we will not even attempt to answer these appeals, lest it may seem that we also depend on such methods of shoring up the truth. The word of God is sufficient for us and does not need the props of a perverted “conscience” or a spurious spirituality.
WE HAVE BORROWED FROM THE BIBLE!
An amusing incident has occurred in connection with the charge that no acknowledgment is paid to those from whom we are supposed to have borrowed our arguments. Speaking on the subject of vivification in a public gathering, we asked if anyone had heard or read any similar exposition of the theme. For a while no one spoke and all seemed to indicate that they had never known of it before. But, at last, one brother, holding up a book, so that all could see, shouted, “I have a book that has it!” The audience turned to see. He was holding up a Bible! So we humbly retract any claim we are supposed to have made as to originality. It is all borrowed from the Bible!
Our main testimony is concerned with the universal reconciliation and the various mysteries. We know that our teaching on these themes has been derived fresh from the word of God. We do not know of anyone else who teaches the same. Others have taught the salvation of all mankind, or a kind of “restitution.” But where is the record of anyone teaching the justification of all mankind, the vivification (not resurrection) of all mankind, the reconciliation (not salvation) of the universe? Who has presented the mystery of Babylon as we have? Who teaches as we do concerning the present secret economy? We do not ask this merely to show that we have not “borrowed” from others, but we would gladly know of others who have found these treasures in God’s holy word.
If then, what we have presented has been practically unknown, how can it be that it has been repeatedly examined and answered? Answers to Universalism there are, not doubt, in plenty. But, as we have been told by those who had belonged to the Universalist church that our teaching was as different from theirs as could be, they do not cover our case. We base all blessing on Christ. They build on character.
“The Mystery of the Gospel” originally contained the following: “The underworld, though not sharing in the universal reconciliation, will be powerless to prevent and impotent to infringe upon that perfect bliss” (See page 187). It can hardly be the purpose of a book to prove that which its author did not believe when he first wrote it. Yet the above statement of our critic is an admirable summary of “All in All.”
THE SCRIPTURES CANNOT TEACH WHAT THEY SEEM TO!
All that is necessary to refute the doctrine of endless punishment is to quote a single passage of Scripture which affirms the contrary (Col.1:20). One argument is as good as the other, only that in favor of ultimate reconciliation is immeasurably better, for its conclusion is in harmony with the revealed character of God and the spirit of love which He has implanted in His saints. Our brother asserts this when he protests that many have made a study of the Scriptures “with the hope that they might discover something which would at least modify” this doctrine. If it appealed to their hearts and consciences and the spirit God had given them, why did they seek to modify it? We are not seeking to alter the universal reconciliation.
Little need be said concerning this extract except that he deserves credit for giving a very fair presentation of our position. Our error consists in refusing to limit the work of Christ. We are content to have it so. He now proceeds to prove by a somewhat lengthy and involved process, that Christ’s work has limitations, that Romans does not deal with “all men” (as it says) but with all the elect.
ADAM’S TRANSGRESSION IS THE GROUND OF THE TYPE
There is much to commend in this, especially the central sentence, “this idea of men being treated and regarded, not according to their own doings, but on the merits of Another, is altogether contrary to the thoughts of the carnal mind… the great analogous fact of the fall of Adam and the consequent ruin of his race; a ruin brought about not by anything done personally by the members of that race, but accomplished solely by the acting of one outside of themselves.” It is racial, then. It was the race that was ruined by Adam’s fall. But of course it is not the race, which is restored by Christ!
We might object (as he himself does) to the unscriptural term, “Federal Head.” Christ is the Head of the body (Col.1:18). In the natural sphere He is the Head of every man. (1 Cor.11:3) He is the Head of every sovereignty and authority (Col.2:10). He will be the Head of the universe. (Eph.1:10) But I have not been able to find any passage to support the statement that He is the Federal Head of “all who believe on Him to the saving of their souls.” He is never spoken of as the Head of the new humanity. (Eph.2:15) It is a very misleading expression to impose on this passage.
Headship, in the Scriptures, has to do with rule. The question here is not the character and extent of Adam’s dominion, or of Christ’s sovereignty. The point of the passage lies in the character and effect of Adam’s sin. It is not that he was a ruler and so Christ also will reign. It is that he was a man, and Christ also is a Man. One act of his involved all mankind in ruin, and one act of Christ’s will bring all mankind justification of life.
All types are restricted. If one man were exactly like Christ in all particulars, he would not be a type. Many men were types of Christ, not in all they were or did, but in some particular. In what way is Adam here brought before us? Do we read of the headship of Adam, or of the transgression of Adam? It is Adam the transgressor who is the type here. In the following argument His headship is not alluded to, but his transgression is always before us. The introduction of the theological “Federal Headship” into this passage proves nothing so much as the absolute necessity of injecting some foreign element in order to destroy its clear and unequivocal assertion that all mankind shall be justified through the one act of Christ just as they were condemned through the one offense of Adam.
It is in order to prove that “all men” means only some men, that this phrase “Federal Headship” is introduced. It is not the form of sound words which the apostle so earnestly exhorts us to hold. Yet since this seems the only way of showing that Scripture does not mean what it says, he adopts it, not, we are pleased to note, without some qualms of conscience. But what does he gain?
Suppose we allow the unfounded “federal headship.” It proves nothing. It is far more reasonable to deduce from it that, as Adam was the “federal head” of the whole race, without exception or distinction, so Christ has become the “federal head” of the whole race. No type is ever greater than its antitype. This chapter bears witness that, in every other particular, the work of Christ is “much more” effective than the default of Adam. But there is no necessity to reason or deduce anything. God says it includes “all mankind.” When God said that sin came through to “all mankind” (verse 12), our brother believes it because of the evidence of his senses. Now, when God says He will justify all mankind, he does not believe it. As there is no other evidence, he refuses to believe God. Instead, he actually asks us to believe him in opposition to God! God says all mankind.” I (A. W. P.) answer,” “God’s elect.”
Now we come to the heart of the matter. As he intimates, it is the all-important question. The bringing in of “federal headship” has served no useful purpose whatever. It has only thrown dust into our eyes. The all-important question is “Whom did Christ represent? Of what race is He the Federal Head?” God has no answer for this. He is silent. No passage can be produced. But that does not matter!
“I answer all who believe on Him to the saving of their souls.” “The ‘all men’ unto whom comes the free gift `unto justification of life’ (verse 18) are the `all men’ that the last Adam represented, namely, God’s elect …”
We confess that we are gravely sorrowful for a brother who can stake all upon his own word, or who can expect his readers to believe him in preference to God. Not a shred of scriptural evidence is given that “all men” means all the elect, for there is none.
But perhaps his assertion is based on reasoning. Let us examine his premises. The question is, How many will be justified? Under protest we will use his own unscriptural phrases.
1. Christ is “federal head” of a race, as Adam was “federal head.”
2. Adam’s offense condemned all mankind.
Conclusion. Christ’s work justifies all mankind.
Let those who prefer reason to revelation try to write down definite premises for the conclusion that the work of Christ is limited to the justification of the elect. They will soon find that the great fact that Adam’s offense actually makes all mankind sinners is fatal to such a deduction. If we were only given a choice in the matter, if some of mankind had refused to be ruined by what Adam had done, then we could reason out a limit to Christ’s work, as the antitype of Adam’s fall. Yet even this would not be conclusive for in all other particulars, where the effect of Christ’s work varied from Adam’s, it was much more.
Let us try to manipulate the minor premise as is suggested, and make it
2. Adam’s offense condemned those who are legally and vitally connected with him.
But, as all are thus connected, it hinders, rather than helps, for it proves that all will be legally and vitally connected with Christ. It is evident that nothing can be done with the premises. The only possible way to get the result we want is to slip a cog. The “federal headship” will cover this slip. We are forced to take for granted the very thing we are supposed to prove! Keep at this passage, dear brethren! Reason with it. Wrestle with it. You will never be satisfied until you acknowledge that Christ’s work, in all its aspects, completely eclipses Adam’s.
AN ANALYSIS OF THE PASSAGES
We see nothing in this analysis, which will assist the student to settle the point before us. So we present another analysis which we confidently believe will be a much greater help in studying the whole passage and definitely decide that “all men” means all men.
The word of God is vitally alive. All living organisms have a symmetrical structure, part corresponding with part. In man, one arm corresponds with the other, finger balances finger. So the whole epistle of Romans has a structure in which each passage has a companion passage in the corresponding division of the book. For the sake of those who do not possess the CONCORDANT VERSION it is reprinted here. No one who will carefully consider this framework will doubt for a moment that here we have God’s analysis. We have not made it. We have only discovered it. This, we submit, is not an outline based on human insight or the lack of it. Like the flower of the field, the marvelous symmetry and relation of the parts in this “outline” reveals the handiwork of God. It is given on the next page.
From this structure we learn that the companion passage is found somewhere in the eleventh chapter. We may expect to find there a counterpart of the justification of all mankind, but from the national standpoint rather than the individual. Is there any statement dealing with all mankind? There is, and it is just as clearly all as the fifth of Romans. “God locks all up together in obstinacy, that He may be merciful to all.“ (Rom.11:32
The same marvelous proportion of parts is to be seen in this passage itself. If we should ask our hearts what part of the context will cast most light on the interpretation of this scripture, the answer will be found in the framework which we submit herewith. It will be noted that it is a miniature of the epistle as a whole, a reversal in which each subject is reviewed in opposite order once the center of the passage has been reached.
Gospel, made known, Justification 1:1-1:6
Gospel, hushed up, Conciliation 16:25-16:27
FRAMEWORK OF ROMANS 5:12-21
:12 One man sins :13 the law :14a death reigns
:19 One man obeys :20 the law :21 grace reigns
Is it possible that such symmetry can be accidental? Since it is undoubtedly designed, we should take advantage of its plan, for it points unerringly to the closest context for any part of the passage. This is not necessarily the next verse. It is the corresponding member of the structure.
Adam’s sin is twice brought before us and used as a picture of present conditions. First it is called a transgression and the question is whether those who have no law, as Adam had, are reached by its dire effects. The answer is that all mankind are included, even though they had not transgressed, as Adam had. This is the lead which the eighteenth verse follows. All between verses fourteen and eighteen is parenthetic. This is evident to the careful student apart from any structure. There is nothing in verses fifteen, sixteen, or seventeen on which to base the conclusion in verse eighteen. So that we are justified in reading the passage as follows:
14 “…death reigns from Adam unto Moses, over those, too, who did not sin after the likeness of Adam’s transgression, which is a type of that which is about to be (15, 16, 17). 18 Consequently, then, as it was through one offense for all mankind for condemnation, thus, too, it is through one just award for all mankind for life’s justifying.”
Now we are ready once more to ask the question, Does this refer to all the elect or all mankind? Since the plain statement of the text is denied, we ask the further question, Did Adam’s sin reach a portion or all of mankind? There is no need to answer. Consequently justification, also, is for all mankind.
We have now shown that both revelation and reason are for the justification of all mankind. We ought to stop here. It is useless to study human opinions on such a matter. Yet our failure to follow may be urged against the truth. So we will see what men have to say!
THE COMMENTARIES OF CHRISTENDOM
It is with a deal of diffidence that I speak of personal matters. They are of no moment when dealing with God’s truth. The fact that Peter had recently denied his Lord did not impair his preaching at Pentecost. Yet if I must descend to speak of myself I will only confess my ignorance. I am not at all acquainted with the commentaries of Christendom. I have long ago read in the Scriptures that this is a day of departure from the faith. This defection must be reflected in Christendom’s commentaries and I do not wish to feed on apostasy. It is bound to have its effect on everyone who absorbs it. I have spent half a lifetime fitting myself to hear God speak through His inspired word, and, having heard Him, it would be hard to find commentaries, which would interest me. Yet I have a broken second hand set to refer to when I am expected to know what Christendom thinks, but the volume on Romans is missing. However, sometime ago some one kindly gave me a copy of Barnes on Romans, which I believe, is a standard work. I will look up the point in question. This is what I find:
BARNES ON ROMANS 5:18
Both Barnes and Calvin were “leading Christian teachers” and they do not teach that “all mankind” in Romans 5:18 is confined to the elect. It includes the whole race of mankind. For once I will quote a commentary: “The course of argument leads inevitably to this; nor is it possible to avoid it without doing violence to the obvious and fair course of the discussion.” These words come from one who, like the writer in Our Hope, must find some way to avoid the plain teaching of this passage. That seems to be the function of commentaries. But he could not force himself to do such “violence” to the passage as we are now called upon to approve.
THE CONCILIATION OF THE WORLD
Perhaps our critic will smile at the mental contortions of Mr. Barnes. The specially strong inspired INTO, he would like to change to “with reference to,” or, “had a bearing upon.” But these are not just satisfactory, so he has a brilliant idea. It was “originally adapted” (his italics) to the race.” This seems to relieve him wonderfully, so it is repeated as “an original applicability… to all men.” All that we need now is a commentary on Barnes, for we do not know what he means. Neither does he.
What are the facts? In this passage this word eis INTO is used eight times. The occurrences follow. In place of into, in each case put one of the phrases proposed and the absurdity of the whole position is manifest. This is the only safe commentary. You may call it mine if you like. I am not ashamed of it before either God or man. Little discernment is necessary to see that this not only robs mankind as a whole, but it strips us of everything that we have in Christ.
5:12 sin entered into the world
12 death came through into all mankind
15 the grace of God and the gratuity in grace, which is of the One Man, Jesus Christ, into the many
16 the judgment is out of one into condemnation
16 the grace is out of many offenses into a just award
18 as it was through one offense into condemnation
18 it is through one just award into all mankind for life’s justifying
21 grace, too, should be reigning, through righteousness, into eonian life
We must, however, acknowledge that Barnes has a glimmering of a great truth, which no theologian that I am aware of has ever seen, and which seems to be almost unknown in the present day. Our dear brother who is refuting universalism gives no hint, in his analysis that he has even heard of it. It is this, “that God was in Christ conciliating the world to Himself, not reckoning their offenses to them.“ (2 Cor.5:19) This is not reconciliation, for that would prove that God’s present work includes the salvation of the world at this time. It is conciliation on God’s side. It describes God’s attitude. Reconciliation ensues only when we obtain the “conciliation” (Rom.5:11). Had our verse (Rom.5:18) read “all mankind for conciliation,” then Barnes would have been very near the truth. But all mankind are already conciliated. God is not reckoning their offenses to them. He is not threatening, but beseeching them. This is the great, unknown secret of the evangel, which is the subject of “The Mystery of the Gospel.” But justification is an entirely different matter. Conciliation on God’s side does not guarantee salvation necessarily. That rests with its acceptance. Not so with justification. He who is justified can face the entire creation and challenge them to lay anything to his charge. Justification through Christ need not include eonian salvation, but it includes far more than ultimate deliverance.
At this juncture we may as well take up one of the most serious charges against our personal character. We have not dismissed anyone with a wave of the hand – not even our critic. The little we know of the teaching of others on these themes has shown us that they are in hopeless disagreement. If we choose one side in preference to the other then we are dismissing some as utterly wrong, and we are presuming to decide between men and between their opinions. Our opponent does not even recognize Barnes and Calvin. Using his own argument we ought to charge him with colossal conceit. But we shall not descend to such foolish fighting, for it is unprofitable and vain. We should not compare ourselves among ourselves. (2 Cor.10: 12) Those who do this do not understand (A.V., are not wise). It takes just as much conceit to dismiss Calvin as a heretic as to pass by some lesser light.
We cannot commend such a course, but if we must not study the Scriptures themselves, but consult human interpretations, is it wise to follow one class of expositors (exclusively when they are opposed by others equally good and great and learned? Is it not wiser to compare each with the Scriptures and give both credit for as much as accords with God’s word? Calvin is right when he claims that “all men” means all men in Romans five. We are with him. Our dear brother is right when he insists that it is not a mere provision for salvation but actual justification. We are with him. But we cannot follow him when he says that all men means some men. Neither can we follow Calvin when he says “It is offered to all without distinction.” Each has a measure of truth. Neither has a monopoly. Is it conceit or prudence to believe only so much of each as does not conflict with God’s revelation? Does not our position accord with both as far as it is possible when they are in disagreement?
“ALL MANKIND” IS BETTER THAN “ALL MEN”
We plead guilty of having changed the reading “all men” in the common version to “all mankind.” The inaccuracy of fixing all sin upon and exculpating Eve and her daughters is evident.
The word here translated men in our version is not the special term for men aneer as distinct from women, but refers to any human being anthropos. Hence the CONCORDANT VERSION has “humans” in its sublinear, and mankind in the version. Everyone knows that “all men” does not exclude women, so no one can object to this change. The best rendering is “all mankind.” It is precisely the same as in the twelfth verse. Death came through to “all mankind.”
To conclude. Revelation, reason, and even some forms of tradition, all unite in assuring us of that grand and glorious fact that God, through Christ, will justify the life of every human being. How and when He will do this we have elsewhere inquired. May God give us grace to believe Him and revel in the rich redundance of His grace!
We may sum up the whole of this lengthy discussion in one simple question, What has God said,
or, all the elect?
THE VIVIFICATION OF ALL
IF you wish to convince a brother that his belief and the Scriptures do not agree, the best method is to quietly ask him to quote the passage, which bears on the question. Almost always, unconsciously, he will alter the text slightly to fit his apprehension of it. Our dear brother has done himself and the truth a great service when he quotes 1 Cor.15:22, as “all `in Christ'” instead of “`in Christ’ all.” This was doubtless done unconsciously, but that is all the better. It should show him that he is at variance with God on this point. He cannot correct his slip without acknowledging his whole position to be wrong.
A SERIOUS PERVERSION, WILL THEY CORRECT IT?
The editor of Our Hope and the writer of the article against us both insist that the CONCORDANT VERSION is an effort to pervert the Bible to teach what we believe. Here we have a test passage. Do we change this to suit our doctrine? So far as the present question is concerned we render it the same as all the versions we have seen. “Even as, in Adam, all are dying, thus, in Christ, also, all will be made alive” is not only an exact rendering of the Greek, but is practically the same as the Authorized, the Revised and Rotherham, the only versions we have at hand. Our critic quotes the rendering “all in Christ” and “all in Adam,” and thus gives a twist to the passage to which we vigorously protest. Instead of our being “so filled with conceit” that we “do not hesitate to dismiss with a wave of the hand the concentrated and consecrated studies of all who have gone before us,” they do not even wave their hands but calmly give a rendering which, so far as we know is totally at variance with every version ever made. They pervert this passage, not we. They would render it, “As all in Adam die, so all in Christ shall be made alive.” This restricts it to believers. But this is an unwarranted mistranslation, unsupported by the original or by any recognized English version.
We solemnly adjure them before God to publicly acknowledge this grave error and give the true facts of the case in Our Hope. When they have done so, we shall acknowledge their confession in our magazine. Otherwise we may be led to remind our readers, now and again that “Our Hope teaches that 1 Cor.15:22 should read ‘As all in Adam die, so all in Christ shall be made alive,’ and thus perverts the word of God in order to destroy the great truth that, ‘Even as, in Adam, all are dying, thus, in Christ, also, all will be made alive.'”
In Our Hope the words “all in Christ” are in quotation marks. We wondered whence the quotation had been taken and made a thorough search. A friend in England visited what is probably the most complete collection of English versions extant, through the courtesy of the officers of the British and Foreign Bible Society. His report follows:
To this we may add that a number of German bibles, including the Miniatur Bibel, all read “in Christ all.”
Thus all the translators are in complete accord on this crucial point. The only exception is the late Pastor Russell. Friends who are acquainted with his works tell me that on page 129 of Vol. 1, and page 695 of Vol. 6, he quotes “As all in Adam die, even so all in Christ shall be made alive.” He boldly states that “The declaration of our common version Bible… is manifestly a mistranslation…The mistranslation favors the doctrine of universal salvation…” Arthur W. Pink and Charles T. Russell are the only ones we have been able to find who alter this passage to conform to their own interpretation.
As we have not the slightest wish to charge anyone falsely, we wrote to our brother and asked him whence he took this quotation. His reply follows:
This absolves him from misquoting the Bible, but shows that he has more regard for his own reputation than God’s truth. We hoped it would touch his conscience and that he would change the order of the words to conform with what is written.
WHAT HAPPENS THEREAFTER?
Having accepted the great truth that all shall be made alive, the next question is, when? The answer is, Not all at once, but in classes. Vivification is progressive. Christ is the first class. The second is those who are Christ’s at His presence. The third is at the consummation. This is clearly indicated by the expressions of time: “the Firstfruit, Christ; thereupon those who are Christ’s at His presence; thereafter the consummation, whenever He may give up the kingdom… Who will be included in the last class? It is a simple matter of subtraction. Indeed I have not even ventured to do the subtracting. The difference between “all” and those enumerated cannot be otherwise than “the balance.”
Now let us suppose that only “all in Christ” are included. How shall we understand “Yet each in his own class?” Could anyone suppose that those that are Christ’s would be vivified when He was, in the past? Why, then, bring in these “Classes?” And why, after “those who are Christ’s” have been vivified, speak of “thereafter the consummation?” What comes after the saints have been made alive? The record reads that this coincides with the abolition of death. Hence there is no reasonable alternative except “the balance of mankind.”
Let us allow that the abolition of death refers to the vivification of the saints. Then the coming of Christ is not only post-millennial but long after the thousand years, so long as government exists! Sovereignty continues in the new creation. Death is not abolished until after it has gone. Hence the saints still sleep! There are no saints to reign on the millennial earth! It cannot be true that they live and reign with Him during the thousand years! It cannot be true that they reign in the new earth! Such absurdities ought to satisfy all that the abolition of death has no reference to the vivification of the saints.
We are heartily in favor of the great principle that every passage in the Scriptures must be interpreted within the scope of its context.
WHO DOES PAUL WRITE ABOUT?
All of Paul’s epistles are addressed to believers. Are we therefore to conclude that all is concerning them? Would our critic insist that “with their tongues they have used deceit, the poison of asps is under their lips: whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness…” refers to them? We do not wish to apply it to them, though they might have difficulty in disproving the charge. In Corinthians are we to conclude that the “all men” referred to in the statement “we are more forlorn than all men” (1 Cor.15:19) is restricted to believers? It is not evident that a cause is desperate that allows the use of such an argument? Paul always writes to the saints, but he writes of all created beings, including the archangel and Satan, the demons and the lower animals. Since when has the recipient of a letter been the sole subject which it can discuss?
“SLEEP” FOR DEATH IS NOT CONFINED TO BELIEVERS
We have taught that the word koimaomai, sleep, or repose, is usually confined to the saints. Now we are asked to believe that it is restricted to them alone. Its literal use, of the soldiers who guarded the tomb of our Lord, who were told to say `His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we slept’ shows that literally, it is not so restricted. The sad duty devolves on us to point out that our critic in giving passages to prove his position (John 11:11; 1 Cor.11:30; 1 Thess.4:14) deliberately passes over one which disproves it. In the phrase `if her husband be dead’ (1 Cor.7:39) we have the figurative used of both believer and unbeliever.
It grieves us to comment on such a statement as this. It is difficult not to give offense. Does verse 22 tell any such thing? It is evident that his own perversion of this passage has so blinded his mind that to him it seems to teach what he wishes it to teach. What is true?
“in Christ all…”
or “all in Christ…?
This is sufficient answer yet we wish it clearly understood that we believe that all will be in Christ, just as all are in Adam. If we limit those “in Christ” to those who were in Christ when this passage was written, then not one of us today is “in Christ.” If we limit it to all who are “in Christ” now, that would exclude many who may yet believe into Him in the future. It refers only to those who are in Christ at His presence. Many will be born after this, in the millennial age, who will be “in Christ.” We make no pretense that any will be made alive out of Christ. At the consummation it is only “in Christ” that the erstwhile unbeliever will be made alive. The passage plainly states that all will be made alive in Christ.
This is followed by “then cometh the end.” The word here rendered “then” in our versions is not as clear as it might be. We give a few passages where it occurs to show that it really means thereafter. We give the A. V. renderings.
Mark 4:17 afterward, when affliction or persecution
Mark 4:28 then the ear, after that the full
John 13:5 After that He poureth water into
1 Tim. 2:13 Adam was first formed, then Eve
We are asked to believe that the phrase “they that are Christ’s” excludes the class thereafter. It is just as easy to believe that the forming of Adam proves that Eve was not formed because she was formed thereafter!
It is very clear, even to our critic that he has been assuming the point he wishes to prove. Now, however, we are to be treated to a real argument. We have never found it necessary to prove that “all in Christ” is co-extensive with “all in Adam,” because we quote it as it stands. If he wishes to change this to “all represented by Christ,” all we have to say is that we prefer God’s words to his. It will only lead him back to his starting point.
True consistency is a jewel. This kind of consistency is a counterfeit. The context determines the scope of an expression. In our Lord’s day the gospel was restricted to Israel and the land. What kind of consistency requires that the Jews in Palestine alone are eligible for the evangel today? God Himself has made the change. The number of those “in Christ” is continually growing. Until the consummation they are always, a restricted class. But in this passage God Himself removes the restrictions. This is not consistency. It is unbelief.
HE WHO LIVES AND BELIEVES SHALL NEVER DIE
Our Lord calls Himself the Resurrection and the Life” (John 11:25). He speaks of “the resurrection of judgment” and “the resurrection of life” (John 5:29). It is evident that resurrection includes life. Those raised for judgment will have life. Why, then, is it not also a “resurrection of life?” Is it not clear that our Lord is giving the word “life” a higher and fuller sense than it ordinarily carries?
Far from calling the healing of the infirm, man by this term, He speaks of this as greater (John 5:20). “For even as the Father is rousing the dead and vivifying them, thus the Son, also, is vivifying whom He will.” It is life superimposed on life. This may not be so immediately evident in every case as in the direct statements of our Lord, but there is no passage but bears it out.
Even the case of Abraham, which is adduced to the contrary, is a good example. Abraham was not dead. He was not concerned with his resurrection after he had died. He was concerned with the perpetuation of his life by means of the seed that God had promised. He needed vivification, not resurrection. And God gave it to him, for that seed will live eternally in myriads of his descendants.
In Romans the subject is not resurrection, for the body is not dead, but mortal, that is, subject to death (Rom.8:11). You cannot resurrect a mortal body, for it is not dead. You can vivify it, or give a live body an immortal life. The whole point in this passage depends on the distinction between vivification and resurrection. To give a mortal body physical life is absurd, for it already has that.
The same great truth is evident in connection with the law. If there had been a law given able to give life, righteousness would have been out of law (Gal.3:21). Surely it is not a question of the law raising the dead, or of giving physical life! If it could have been kept it would have given eternal, deathless life. The law has no jurisdiction over the dead. It came to those who had physical life. It promised those who kept it immunity from death, or, in other words, vivification.
Even as the Father has life in Himself, thus also He gives to the Son to have life in Himself (John 5:26). He alone has immortality (1 Tim.6:15). This is the context in which we find the statement that God is making all alive (1 Tim.6:13). It would be intensely trite to say that He gives all physical life in such a connection. He does that and far more. He has vivified Christ. He will vivify those who are His at His presence. He will vivify all in due time.
No wonder our critic does “not affirm that ‘zoopoieo’ is limited to physical quickening” (though that is vital to his argument) when we read of “being put to death, indeed, in flesh, yet made alive in spirit” (1 Peter 3:18). But why does he not quote this passage? This cannot refer to bodily quickening.
There are three references to vivification in the fifteenth of first Corinthians, two of which, we are told, should remove all doubt that it is limited to “physical quickening.” Following the statement that “If there is a soulish body there is a spiritual, also” we are told that “The first man Adam because a living soul; the last Adam a life imparting spirit.” This is referred to “bodily quickening.” The soulish body has physical life. Consequently the last Adam, when He vivifies, is not a whit superior to the first! All that we will have in the resurrection will be a living body, still subject to death with a glory no greater than our present soulish bodies! Now all who know Him are aware that this is not true. When He makes us alive we will be beyond the power of death with bodies of glory and power. This passage is the last one to appeal to, to prove that vivification is no more than the healing that came to the impotent man at Bethesda.
THE SECOND DEATH IS NATURAL, PHYSICAL DEATH
One more passage remains which he deems conclusive. “What you are sowing is not being made to live if it should not die” (1 Cor. 15:36). We quote from the CONCORDANT VERSION because the A. V. does not heed one word in the Greek at all. It is AN, meaning ever. The word die is in the subjunctive, MAY-BE-DYING. To indicate the force of AN, ever, we change the MAY to SHOULD. It is usually supposed that the argument runs to the effect that no seed will germinate unless it dies first. Anyone who will put this to a practical test will be greatly disappointed in his crop. Dead seeds will not give life. Here, as elsewhere, it is life superimposed on life. The life of the plant perpetuates the life of the seed, though the seed itself must die. This is in a different natural realm and should never be used in this discussion, yet it is in full harmony with the truth that, in the Scriptures, to vivify is a different matter from resurrection. It is an added grace.
If no other proof could be offered will not his own words suffice? He says that “make alive” is used in this passage because when the Lord comes, there will be living saints as well as those raised from the dead. The living saints will be “made alive.” The living will be given non-eternal physical life! As they already have that, vivification is reduced to nothing.
Moreover, Christ Himself is the Firstfruit of those who are vivified. Did He receive non-eternal, physical rejuvenation at His resurrection? How, indeed, can He be the Firstfruits when some were raised by the prophets long before He came in flesh and He Himself raised three from the dead, giving them non-eternal physical life at the very least? What is it that distinguishes His case from theirs, and the case of the saints from the resurrection of judgment?
It is the possession of life, immortal life, beyond the jurisdiction of death. Christ is the Firstfruit of such, and not of the resurrection. It is this abundant life, which is indicated by the term “making alive” or “vivification” in the Scriptures. The hopeless tangle in which our brother involves himself, and his own admission that his definition is unsatisfactory ought to be enough to convince all that the truth is elsewhere. Truth does not suppress passages, which appear unfavorable, nor does it blindly produce an argument against itself.
In conclusion, let us give our Lord’s definition of His own statement that He is the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25). He expands the first thus: “he that believeth in Me though he were dead, yet shall he live.” He is the Life because “whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall not die for the eon.” In brief, vivification imparts eternal life. “Believest thou this?”
THE MEANING OF “ALL IN ALL”
The falsehood in our statement lies in believing that the lake of fire is the second death. It lies in believing that the second death is death. The second death is so called, not because it is something entirely different from natural,” “physical death,” but because it is natural, physical death. Because our brother has some unnatural, metaphysical, theological death in mind he is led into this outburst. It would lead us too far away from our main theme to prove that the word “second” does not affect the character of the death. In the same scroll we read of the second animal (Rev.4:7), the second seal (6:3), the second messenger (8:8), the second woe (11:14), the second Alleluia (19:3), the second foundation (21:19). In no case does the word “second” suggest anything different. Moreover, the phrase “the second death” is God’s definition of the lake of fire. He uses a well-known term “death” to explain to us what the lake of fire is. We must take it in the same sense as it is elsewhere used. The second death is death just as much as the first. It is perfectly consistent to refer the abolition of death to the second. In fact it is absurd to refer it to any other.
But it is not necessary to believe God’s simple definition to see how untenable is the position taken by our brother. It seems incredible that he should not have been struck by its incongruity. He insists that the last enemy is the first death. Consequently the second death comes after the last enemy has been abolished! He insists it is the believer’s last enemy. The time when it is abolished is clear. All sovereignty and authority and power must be abrogated before that time (1 Cor.15:24). It cannot be before the reign of Christ, during the thousand years. It cannot be during the reign of the Son for the eon of the eon (Heb.1:8). It cannot be until the Son becomes subject, and all rule has vanished. Hence death is not abolished for the believer until the consummation! Either we are not raised at Christ’s presence, or, being raised, are still subject to death during the thousand years and the reign which follows in the new creation.
Of course, he may say that “all” sovereignty does not mean all. But what sovereignty does our Lord exercise on earth prior to our resurrection? Does not His kingdom commence after we are caught up to meet Him? Consequently “all” sovereignty would be reduced to none! He would give up a kingdom He never had!
Let anyone compare the statement that the lake of fire is the second death (Rev.20:14) with the abolition of death at the consummation when the Son gives up the kingdom (1 Cor.15:24), after death has been cast into the lake of fire (Rev.20:14) and then judge for himself whether it is “a falsehood, pure and simple,” to say that the lake of fire is to be abolished at the consummation. When God says one thing is another we have no hesitancy in believing Him.
“Another of Mr. Knoch’s glosses (borrowed from Mr. A. Jukes) is the mystical meaning which he gives to the concluding words of 1 Cor.15:28: “That God may be all in all.” Mr. Knoch makes this to mean that God may be “all” in all creatures (The Mysteries, pages 246-9), whereas the context makes it plain that God may be ‘All in all’ signifies that “at the conclusion of Christ’s mediatorial reign GOD’S SUPREMACY will be fully manifested.
“After we had completed that last sentence above we consulted Mr. F. W. Grant to note his interpretation, and we find ours is in entire accord. Here are his words: `If Christ’s enemies had become His friends before He gave up the kingdom (which is what Mr. Knoch contends), His giving it up would not make God all in their hearts any more than before. But it is the giving up of the kingdom that makes God ‘all in all.’ Evidently then the sense is that He will be in recognized and immediate supremacy everywhere’ (‘Facts and Theories of a Future State,’ page 401).
As I have never possessed a copy of Mr. Jukes’ book and had not read it when “The Mystery of the Gospel” was written, it must have been a case of borrowing by mental telepathy. But where is the “mystical” meaning? To say that “all in all” signifies “the manifestation of God’s supremacy” may not be mystical, but it is very far indeed from the truth. The Chinese revision committee did not think that “all in all” would convey this idea, so they deliberately made it “Lord of all over all.” When we say “Christ is my all,” what do we mean? That He is our Lord? Yes, and our Saviour and Friend and our Lover, our Wisdom and our Righteousness, and our Holiness–He is everything to us! There is nothing mystical about that. And that is just what God wishes to be and what He will be!
Will He be this only in some? No! He will be All in all! It is insinuated that this is not the natural sense of in all, so we will give a few passages in which it is used of persons.
1 Cor 8:7 Howbeit there is not in every man this knowledge
Eph. 4:6 One God and Father of all, Who is above all, and through all, and in all
2 Thess. 1:10 admired in all them that believe
Heb. 13:4 Marriage is honorable in all
These passages make it clear that in all may refer to persons without the least mysticism. Knowledge and belief and marriage are not associated with things. But let us call special attention to the reference found in Ephesians, for God is there spoken of as being in all His saints at present, precisely as He will be in all at the consummation. But He is also above all. This is an entirely different thought from being in all. Yet this is the terse vigorous way of speaking of God’s supremacy. But this is not what He will be at the consummation. He will be in all, not over all.
The thought of manifestation is entirely absent. It is not that He will appear to be over all, but He will be in all.
PATERNAL AUTHORITY REPLACES GOVERNMENT
What a pitiable play on words is the charge that we teach that Christ’s enemies become friends before He gives up the kingdom! When have we ever said it? Again and again we have said that when the last enemy is abolished, then the Son abdicates and God becomes All in all. If there were still enmity we might imagine God being over all, but with all enmity gone, it is easy to see how He can become All in all.
The “kingdom” is given up to the Father, after all sovereignty and authority and power have been abrogated. What kind of a “supremacy” will God “fully manifest” which has no power, no authority, no sovereignty? Thank God, all these elements, which characterized government during the eons, will be utterly unnecessary when the Son of God is finished with His “mediatorial” work. Instead of God’s supremacy being fully manifested at that time, it will be entirely absent, and God, as Father, will guide His family by the sweet constraint of love.
After all, the fullness of “in Christ all shall be made alive” cannot be camouflaged by distorting it. Its meaning does not depend on the order of the words, but on the actual fact conveyed by the previous phrase, “As in Adam all are dying.” Altering the divine order of these words into “As all in Adam are dying” does not change the fact that all mankind is involved. So, wrenching the divine order to “all in Christ shall be made alive” does not touch the truth that it is co-extensive with the scope of death.
The whole of this elaborate discussion may be summed up in one query, What has God said,
IN CHRIST ALL
or, all in Christ?
WE now come to the grandest of all God’s revelations, the reconciliation of the universe, and we are actually asked to believe that this refers to things, not to persons! This assertion has been made before. We have thought it so ridiculous that it seemed best not to notice it, leaving it to expose its own folly. This has been the wisest course, for honest hearts who heard it were led to conclude that, if such an absurdity is necessary to sustain the point, the contrary must certainly be true. How can things be reconciled?
The few phrases in the Hebrew Scriptures, such as reconciling the house, have been properly changed to atoning in the Revision. As the theological definition is “the act of bringing God and man into agreement,” it is evident that our brother boldly ignores all the good and great men he has been lauding, without even an explanation. Were they all wrong? He must prove, hot assume, that reconciliation is confined to things. He cannot produce a single passage to substantiate it. The very next verse tells us the Colossians were reconciled. Were they inanimate things?
A FAULTY FOUNDATION FOR A FALSE ARGUMENT
This certainly looks serious, for here we have no appeal to human authority, but to the Scriptures themselves. This is the real way to go about determining the meaning of ta panta! If we find, upon investigation, that all of the passages which have this phrase are like those given it would be well for us to revise our rendering, and acknowledge our mistake. But there is some subtle reservation in the twice emphasized “obliges,” which arouses our suspicion that all is not just as it should be. It is evident that his conscience is uneasy and demands a loophole through which to escape in case his facts are checked.
The choice of passages given to substantiate the meaning of ta panta is most unfortunate. These three passages do not “correspond exactly with the Greek for ‘all things’ in Col.1:20.” Not one of them. The first one (1 Cor.9:22) omits the the. None of the three most ancient manuscripts, no recent Greek text or editor has it. It is simply, as in the CONCORDANT VERSION, “To all I have become all…” If the writer wishes to act honorably, and no doubt he does, he will correct this error publicly in Our Hope.
In the second one (2 Cor. 5:17) the whole phrase, the all, is omitted by all modern editors and texts and by the three most ancient manuscripts. The Revisers do not even give it a note in their margin. Justice to the readers of Our Hope demands that they be undeceived as to this.
Thus we see that two of the texts do not even have the phrase in question! Do these “exactly correspond?” Is this the way that truth is to be established? These are false witnesses against the truth. O, why should one of God’s servants fall so low? May God forgive him this wrong!
In the third instance (Eph.4:15) the phrase actually occurs, but the grammatical usage is entirely different. We are considering ta panta as the direct object of the verb, in the phrase reconciles the universe. Anyone can see that it will not do to translate Eph.4:15 this way, for that would be “should be growing the all.” The A.V. gets around this by changing to the dative, “may grow up in all things.” But this would be tois pasi or en tois pasin in the Greek, hence the C. V. prefers “we all should be growing” because ta panta may be the subject as well as the object of the sentence.
Worse evidence could scarcely be found. In fact, in culling out texts to prove his contention he was forced to choose those, which were spurious because the others, which are authentic, are against him! But why did he suppress them? He well knew that few readers of Our Hope could or would look up the other passages. It is very sad!
But we do not wish to hide behind the errors of others. Their wrong, does not make us right. There are passages where the phrase the all cannot be rendered by “the universe,” and we need only refer our readers to the CONCORDANT VERSION to show that we, too, hold with our dear brother that there is nothing in the phrase itself which obliges us to render it so. Why, then, do we do it?
The word all, as used in the Greek original, is quite a study in itself. In the concordance made for the CONCORDANT VERSION every form of the word has been classified and special usages have been grouped together. All is sometimes used as an adjective and sometimes as a noun. When used as an adjective it is limited by the noun it modifies, as “all men.” When used as a noun it is limited only by its context.
The all is used as a noun and is further classified as to whether it is the subject or the object of a sentence. Gathering together the occurrences, which have the all as their object we have a magnificent cluster of passages, which shame the brilliancy of Orion, and compass the uttermost realms of space as well as farthest stretches of time.
IN ENGLISH, “THE ALL” MEANS THE UNIVERSE
We do not wish to be sticklers for any form of phraseology and are quite willing to withdraw the phrase “the universe” just as soon as it is shown to be wrong. But we believe that few will find fault with the following renderings, in which “the universe” is used to distinguish the simple “all” from “the all.” These passages actually are the same in every way in the Greek and have the same usage in English, hence should be rendered alike.
Now whenever He might say that all has been subjected, it is evident that it is outside of Him Who is subjecting the universe to Him. 28 Now whenever the universe may be subjected to Him, then the Son Himself, also, shall be subject to Him Who subjects the universe to Him, that God may be All in all (1 Cor.15:27, 28)
He makes known to us the secret of His will… to have an administration, the complement of the eras, in which the universe is to be headed up in the Christ – that in the heavens as well as that on the earth – even in Him in Whom our lot is cast, being designated beforehand according to the purpose of the One Who is operating the universe in accord with the counsel of His will…” (Eph.1:9-11)
God, Who creates the universe. (Eph.3:9)
He Who descends is the Same Who ascends, also, above all the heavens that He should complete the universe. (Eph.4:10)
Who will transfigure the body of our humiliation, to conform it to His body glorious, in accord with the operation which enables Him to subject even the universe to Himself. (Phil.3:21)
…and through Him to reconcile the universe to Him (Col.1:20)
Who, being the Effulgence of His glory and the Emblem of His assumption, as well as carrying on the universe by His powerful declaration… (Heb.1:3)
‘Thou dost subject all underneath his feet.’ For in the subjection of all to him, He left nothing unsubjected to him (Heb.2:8)
For the universe Thou dost create… (Rev.4:11)
Happily one of the passages gives a divine discussion of the very point at issue. The fifteenth of first Corinthians defines all as in itself so unlimited in its scope as to include God Himself! Only the nature of the case leaves God outside of its range. What English expression means just this? In German we would follow the Greek literally and say das All. But in English the universe is the exact equivalent of the divine definition here given, even to the point that it may or may not include the Deity. Any dictionary will confirm this.
This is the passage, which our beloved brother should have quoted to show the meaning of the phrase. There is no question of its right to a place in the text. It is in exact grammatical accord. The usage is the same. It specifically defines the very point at issue, which is that the all, unless limited by the context, includes the universe. What motive would have prompted the deliberate omission of this passage? Is not this the offense he seeks to cover with the word “obliges?”
But we cannot consider such priceless pearls of truth strung on the phrase ta panta without pausing to view their amazing beauty. We are led from the beginning to the consummation, from the creation to the reconciliation. He creates, He carries on, He operates, He subjects, He reconciles. Did He create a fragment? Then He will reconcile a few. Does He operate a fraction? Does He subject a selection? Is His headship confined to His followers? Then reconciliation is restricted to a residue.
IF CHRIST CREATES ALL, HE ALSO RECONCILES ALL
But if God creates all and operates all and subjects all, then He reconciles ALL. Rob Him of the brightest gem in His diadem and you filch the rays from all the rest.
And so with every one of these marvelous activities of God and Christ. Rob them of their universality and they are shorn of their splendor, they sink into a dread and dark eclipse. One thread of thought will suffice. If all is not eventually subjected to the Son, then rebellion will never cease. God will be in constant and eternal conflict with His creatures. Christ will be proven powerless to perform the task assigned to Him. The creature is stronger than the Creator!
It will be noted that we do not render Heb.2:8 the universe. The reason is obvious. In this context the scope of the passage is limited to the future inhabited earth (Heb.2:5). Had it not been so confined, we should have been fully justified in the usual rendering. In Colossians, the passage in point, the conditions are the opposite. Instead of limiting the all to the earth, it is expressly amplified so as to include both earth and heaven lest we should be led to confine it to this sphere.
The most important conclusion is yet to be stated. We ourselves could not produce a more powerful argument for the truth than is furnished by this incident. Why, the suppression of a dozen passages which disprove his point is enough for any honest heart! But the tragic faculty of ferreting out all the texts which are inapplicable or spurious absolutely assures us that the one who chose them is seeking a foundation for that which is false. He, rather than we, has put this point beyond the possibility of appeal! We thank him for his efforts.
As no reason or evidence is given why “when peace is made” is so impossibly worse than “hath made peace,” we will not take the space to repeat what we have already set forth on page 19 of “The Greek and English Indefinite.” The rendering we gave was the result of weeks of careful study and compilation of hundreds of passages in which the indefinite participle occurs. Examples were found where its action was in the past, as here, and examples were found where the action is in the future, as “what shall I do to inherit eternal life” (Luke 18:18)? When all the evidence is considered, there can be no doubt that this indefinite participle is timeless. It records a fact, not an act. In the CONCORDANT VERSION the when has been omitted because the simple participle “making peace” carries the indefinite sense sufficiently without it. Besides all this, “having made peace” calls for a different form of the verb, ending in -koos.
At the time this is written we are working on the translation of Heb.7:27. Speaking of the sacrifice of Christ, we read, “this He does once, when offering up Himself.” Was the sacrifice after “having offered” up Himself? This is surely incorrect, for the offering up was the sacrifice. Hence the indefinite participle is here rendered, “when offering.”
THE AORIST IS NOT A PAST TENSE
Once more we must make allowances for those who study grammars about the Greek rather than the inspired text itself. The statement that the aorist is a past tense may be “proven” by a reference to most elementary Greek grammars, but it cannot be shown in the Scriptures themselves. Great scholars, as Weymouth, say it is not past. As we have a complete pamphlet on this subject, we refer our readers to “The Greek and English Indefinite,” which shows that this form is just what its Greek name says it is. It is not a past tense, but indefinite. One example will suffice for those who wish to bow to the authority of God’s Word. Paul wrote to the Romans concerning the saints of the Circumcision, “for if the nations participate in their spiritual things, they ought also to minister to them in carnal things.” (Rom.15:27) The word for to minister is in the aorist, exactly the same as to reconcile. How could Paul urge the saints to minister to them in the past? Was it “already accomplished?” This is an aorist, or indefinite form, and includes the past, present and future.
This statement is so vague that we will supply an example in order to determine whether “the” really limits the simple all. That it is used to define it, we have indicated by translating the all, the universe, and without the, simply all. In 1 Cor.15:27 (quoted above) all occurs both with and without the, as follows: “now whenever He might say that all has been subjected, it is evident that it is outside of Him Who is subjecting the all to Him.” What difference is there between the limits of all and the all in this passage?
There is none at all. Both include the universe with the evident exception of God Himself. This missile, thrown at a venture, is a boomerang. The truth is not driven to such expedients. Only the false needs such arguments.
THE GREEK “NEUTER” IS INDEFINITE
In a previous quotation it is said that “Panta signifies `all things,’ ta is the article in the neuter gender, so that ta panta means ‘the all things.’ “Such a slip as this may be pardoned when we reflect that it is usual, in elementary Greek grammars, to call the indefinite gender “neuter.” In English the neuter gender cannot be used of either masculine or feminine objects. The Greek has no form like this. The so-called “neuter” applies to both persons and things. We do not need to study Greek grammar to satisfy ourselves on this point. Any of the passages already quoted will show that ta panta is not confined to things. What sense can there be to the subjection of all things to the Son except God? Our dear brother surely does not wish to tell us that God is not a Person (1 Cor.15:28)! Is Christ’s headship to be confined to things (Eph.1:10)? Does not God’s creation include persons (Eph.3:9)? Does God make all things alive (1 Tim.6:13)? The single phrase panta ta ethnee, “all the nations,” completely destroys the contention that panta is neuter (Mat.28:19; Luke 21:24; 24:47; Rom.16:26; Rev.12:5; 14:18). Nations are not composed of things only, but of persons. So also, “all the demons” (Luke 9:1). Panta is indefinite, referring to either persons or things.
Besides, how can things be reconciled? Our brother himself sees this, for in his fifth objection he insists that only those who have been alienated can be reconciled. Those passages in the Hebrew Scriptures which speak of reconciling the house (Ezek.45:20, etc,) are mostly mistranslations of the word otherwise rendered atone. Heb.9:23 speaks of cleansing, not reconciling. The basis of the reconciliation is the peace made by the blood of the cross. Has He made peace for things? Both of the two other occurrences of reconcile, apply to persons.
The very next verse applies it to the Colossians: “And you, being once estranged and enemies in comprehension, in acts of wickedness, He now reconciles…” (Col.1:21) “that He should create the two, in Him, into one new humanity, making peace; and should be reconciling both with God in one body through the cross.” (Eph.2:15, 16)
Let us try another test. Having disposed of the fallacy that only things are referred to, it is easy to see that the reconciliation of the Colossians, in the next verse, is a part of the all to be reconciled. When did it occur in their case? Was it when the Son of God died for them? No. It was after they had been estranged. It was not until they “obtained the conciliation.” (Rom. 5:11) “To reconcile” is still future for all who have not yet been called, and for that great host who will not enjoy it until the consummation.
For the sake of those who know no Greek, we must explain that the original knows nothing of things on earth or things in heaven. It is simply the article the. Any argument based on it is built upon a weakness in translation.
There can be no question in the mind of anyone who understands English that the word whether never introduces a definition or description of any kind. But perhaps the translation is wrong, and our brother uses the word as it is in the Greek. Let us consider a few examples.
1 Cor.12:13 For in one spirit we all are baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free…
“WHETHER…OR” AMPLIFIES IT DOES NOT LIMIT
No one can read this and say that the spirit is limited to Jews and Greeks, slaves and free. It includes them. “Whether” amplifies a statement. It insists that it is true in either alternative. Reconciliation is true whether in heaven or on earth. It removes limits.
Suppose we inject the idea of limitation into 2 Cor.5:10 “that each may be requited for that which he puts into practice through the body, whether it is good or bad. It verges on silliness to say that this restricts the investigation to our good and bad acts only!
Test Eph.6:8 the same way, “…whatever good each one may do, for this he will be requited by the Lord, whether slave or free.” Those who are neither slave nor free will not be rewarded in that day!
Take 1 Cor.3:22. Without the necessity of mentioning everything, which might be enumerated, we are given an overwhelming sense of universality. “…for all is yours, whether Paul or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or the present, or the future–all is yours, yet you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.” The continued repetition of or tends to enlarge our vision so we shall not miss the all-embracing scope of the first statement.
Coming closer to the context, what limitations shall we put on Col.1:16? “Seeing that the universe in the heavens and on the earth is created in Him–the visible and the invisible, whether thrones, or dominions or sovereignties or authorities–“ Is the invisible creation of the Son of God confined to these specially named forms of government? We note that “powers” (Eph.1:21) are lacking in this list. Are they outside of its scope? May God forgive such treasonable insinuations! He knows we would not suggest them except to expose their falsity.
Finally, we will take a passage of exactly the same scope as Col.1:20. In 1 Cor.8:5, 6 we read, “For even if so be that there are those being termed gods, whether in heaven or on earth, even as there are many gods and many lords, nevertheless to us there is one God, the Father, out of Whom all is, and we for Him, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through Whom all is, and we through Him.“ Who would even suppose that the scope of this passage is limited to heaven and earth? The gods in the sea and in the underworld are outside its consideration! These places did not come from God or through our Lord! We would like to see a single Scripture in which the phrase heaven and earth is used that does not convey, to all honest and rational minds, the idea of a complete inclusion of all there is. Until its application to the reconciliation of all was noted, no one dreamed of giving it any other force. From the first of Genesis to the twenty-first of Revelation it includes all.
If we must reason, here is a premise on which we can agree. Only those at enmity with God can be reconciled. Hence things cannot be included, for they can not harbor enmity. As the Scriptures know nothing of “unfallen angels,” this is only another case of the rejection of God’s Word because of a theological tradition. There is no Scriptural ground whatever for excluding any part of the universe from the benefits of the death of God’s beloved Son.
The thought that the sea is one of the “things” in the earth, which need reconciling, is quite a novel one. We were not aware of its enmity to God. However, as it is to vanish in the new earth, it does not affect the matter in hand. We willingly and cheerfully acknowledge that the sea itself will not be reconciled to God!
But the dead in the sea will be reconciled, for the sea will give up the dead in it before it is done away with. (Rev.20:13) After that they certainly will be included in the phrase “on earth or in the heavens.” This is bordering so closely on the ridiculous that we forbear. Are ships “on earth” when they sail the sea? Are submarines? “On earth” includes the sea. The Son glorified the Father “on the earth.” (John 17:4) Shall we conclude that He was out of fellowship when He walked upon the sea (Mark 6:48)? The conviction of all sober Bible students that “heaven and earth” includes all, is fully confirmed by a close study of every occurrence.
Our authority for complacently ignoring the “contrast” between “and you” and “the all things” is the introductory conjunction. And cannot introduce a contrast. If such had been intended, yet, or but, would have been used. It shows beyond question that things includes the Colossians.
If we have ever based a contrast between the present reconciliation of the Colossians and the future universal reconciliation on the word now we are heartily ashamed of it and retract it without qualification. We cannot find any place in our writings where we have done this. The contrast is clearly between the past estrangement and present reconciliation of the Colossians themselves, and has no reference to the universal reconciliation.
CONCILIATION IS ONE-SIDED . . .
Sir Robert Anderson’s unmistakable conclusion was not based on the point here presented, but on a study of the word katallassoo, conciliate, showing that it was a one-sided change. This meaning he transferred to apokatallassoo, reconcile, notwithstanding the fact that the added prefix transformed it into a two-sided change. In other words, his unmistakable conclusion was founded on the mistake of failing to distinguish between the things that differ. His study of conciliation was very good, and a great advance in the truth. But he should not have allowed himself to ignore the vital distinction between conciliation and reconciliation. That all may be able to consider this important point for themselves we give all of the occurrences of these two words:
katallagee, DOWN-CHANGE, conciliation
Rom. 5:11 Through Whom we now obtained the conciliation.
Rom. 11:15 if their casting away is the conciliation of the world.
2 Cor. 5:18 the dispensation of the conciliation
2 Cor. 5:19 the word of the conciliation
katallassoo, DOWN-CHANGE, conciliate
Rom. 5:10 being enemies, we were conciliated to God
Rom. 5:10 being conciliated, we shall be saved by His life
1 Cor. 7:11 let her remain unmarried or be conciliated to her husband
2 Cor. 5:18 yet all is of God, Who conciliates us to Himself through Christ
2 Cor. 5:19 God was in Christ conciliating the world to Himself
2 Cor. 5:20 We are beseeching for Christ, “Be conciliated to God!”
RECONCILIATION IS MUTUAL
Sir Robert Anderson’s deductions from these passages was that conciliation (miscalled reconciliation) was on one side only. God is conciliated. We receive it. This is the essence of the gospel for this era of grace. We do not differ from him in this. Rather, we commend and thank him. But when he seeks to carry this point over to the fuller form, we must protest. Reconciliation is more than conciliation. The latter is one-sided, the former is mutual.
apokatallassoo, FROM-DOWN-CHANGE, reconciliation
Eph. 2:16 and should be reconciling both with God
Col. 1:20 and through Him to reconcile the universe to Him
Col. 1:21 And you… He now reconciles
The conciliation is concerned with God’s attitude toward the world. There is no estrangement on His side. The message of the gospel is not “be reconciled!” for that would imply a change on God’s part. We beseech men to be conciliated, to lay aside their enmity as God has done His. The result of mutual conciliation is reconciliation.
In Ephesians the estrangement is between Jew and gentile. Both were at enmity. A change was needed on both sides. Hence they are reconciled. Conciliation was effected at the cross, reconciliation occurs when we obtain the conciliation. Hence the Colossians were reconciled (1:21). This leaves the one passage in point. Does He conciliate the universe or does He reconcile it? Which word is used?
As the word for conciliation is not used the “unmistakable conclusion” is that it is not “a fact accomplished in the death of Christ.” The time element in both Ephesians and Colossians shows that it was after Paul’s ministry that the reconciliation was accomplished. Jew and gentile were not reconciled at the death of God’s Son. It was not until Paul’s Roman imprisonment and the casting aside of Israel that this reconciliation was possible.
The Colossians were once estranged. They continued to be estranged long after the death of Christ. When this estrangement ended, they were reconciled. This was not a fact accomplished on Calvary.
No other conclusion is possible but that the reconciliation of the universe, though founded on the peace which comes through the blood of His cross, is not a mere conciliation, but a full reconciliation to be accomplished only when all estrangement between God and his creatures is done away.
In concluding this section of our defense we desire to record our sorrow that necessity has compelled us to expose the false dealing of our brother in choosing discredited texts to prove his position, and in deliberately suppressing those which disprove it. It is really painful to be drawn into a discussion concerning the reconciliation of things, for we feel that no sober, intelligent saint wishes to descend to such unprofitable inanities.
Our only consolation lies in the thought that, if such arguments are the best that can be brought against the truth, they alone should be sufficient to convince all of God’s grand purpose to reconcile the universe through the blood of His cross.
In brief, what has God said
HE RECONCILES THE UNIVERSE
or, He reconciles some things?
THE EONIAN TIMES
TO ONE acquainted with the doctrine of the eons, as set forth in the works mentioned, the following criticism is most convincing! He prefers not to take up the subject of the ages or eons, though this is vital to the whole discussion! We particularly requested anyone who wishes to dispute this great truth to explain the three different phrases found in the Scriptures
THE EON OF THE EON, Heb.1:8.
THE EON OF THE EONS, Eph.3:21.
THE EONS OF THE EONS, Gal.1:5; Phil.1:20; etc.
So long as he has not even attempted to explain the three test phrases, we conclude that he cannot do so. If he cannot do so, let him acknowledge it publicly and not hide behind such futile excuses as that it is “outside the scope of the present discussion.” It is not outside. It is inside. It is the very heart of the whole matter. We will go much farther than he dares. We will publish any explanation he may offer, within reasonable bounds. We are not afraid of having our readers consider any argument against the truth.
Just as he finds it necessary to misquote “in Christ all” and to bring up spurious passages to discredit our rendering “the universe,” while avoiding the true texts, so now he finds it convenient to pass by all passages which prove our position and base his argument on two texts which he and everyone else knows are not even intelligible in the versions. Altogether apart from any argument, the necessity which compels him to do this, instead of boldly facing the facts, is sufficient to show how utterly untenable and hopeless his case is.
“THE ENDS OF THE WORLD” — WHEN IS IT?
He asks “what ‘time’ was there before ‘the Eons?'” It is written that God’s grace was given us in Christ Jesus “before times eonian” (2 Tim.1:9). God promises us life “before times eonian” (Titus 1:2). God’s secret wisdom existed “before the eons” (1 Cor.2:7). There was a gift, a promise, a secret purpose before the eonian times. If the period preceding the eons was not “time,” what was it? When we use similar phrases, we always imply the presence of time. “Before the time of Christ” refers to a time.
The question here is really very simple. Does the phrase “the ages” or the “the eons” refer to the past eons or to “the eons” without any such restriction? Misled by the loose rendering of the context he insists that they are past. We propose to show that the context does not call for the past and that there were no ends of the past eons present when Paul wrote to the Corinthians.
The two simple phrases “from the eon” and “for the eon” define the length of the present eon. The present evil eon (Gal. 1:4) goes back to a time before David (Luke 1:70) and all the prophets (Acts 3:21). The nearest single end of an eon which might “come” upon the Corinthians was before the deluge, a matter of at least two thousand years. The present eon will continue as long as Israel is apostate (Matt.21:19; Mark 11:14). It stretches out beyond the time of the Corinthians nearly two thousand years. Then a single eon will end. How then can we understand “upon whom the ends of the ages are come,” when the Corinthians were two thousand years from the beginning and end of the present eon? The answer lies in the word come, and is suggested by the translators themselves when they rendered precisely the same word attain in Phil.3:11.
THE COMSUMMATIONS OF THE EONS HAVE ARRIVED, IN SPIRIT
About thirty different Greek words are translated “come” in our version. This is one of them. Five words are rendered “attain,” but this one seems most suitable. Its ordinary, literal meaning may be expressed by “arrive at.” Its figurative use in Philippians is the key to its meaning in Corinthians.
Paul desired to know Him,
and the power of His resurrection
and the participation of His sufferings,
being conformed to His death,
if somehow he should be attaining to the resurrection out
from among the dead. (Phil.3:10, B11)
It is evident, from the whole tenor of the epistle as well as the immediate context, that Paul is not concerned to attain to the literal resurrection when Christ comes. That is not a matter of attainment, but of grace. What he wishes is a present experience, based on the power of the future resurrection. He desires to live as a resurrection man. In this way he wished to attain to the resurrection. The following context confirms this conclusion. He has not already obtained or been perfected.
Here we have a use of the word attain which solves the whole difficulty in Corinthians. There is no need of involving ourselves in futile explanations. Just as Paul was not actually raised from the dead but entered into a spiritual realization of the resurrection, so the consummation of the eons does not actually arrive, but their spiritual counterpart is present with the Corinthians.
But is there any evidence that this was really the fact? What is it that will actually come to the nations at the various consummations of the eons?
The present eon arrives at its consummation when Christ comes to Israel. Then all the nations will be blessed through them. The blessing of Abraham will be theirs. But the Corinthians do not need to wait for that blessed era, for, in spirit, they received the blessing of Abraham long before it flows to the nations through Israel. They are justified. The end or consummation of this eon attains to them in the gift of justification.
The consummation of the next eon is the new creation. Then God will be at peace with the nations, and accessible apart from the mediacy of Israel‘s priesthood. Does this come to the Corinthians? It surely does! There is a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17)! God is conciliated to the nations! They enjoy, in spirit, the consummation of the next eon. Is it not clear that the new creation which they entered is not the literal one which follows the next eon, but its spiritual counterpart? Just so, the consummations of the eons have become a spiritual reality to them, for the blessings of justification and conciliation are theirs, though these are not due until this eon and the next have run their course. Even the consummation of the last eon, which brings in the abrogation of all rule and authority attains to them in a small measure, though its full manifestation is seen more clearly in Paul’s later epistles.
DID CHRIST APPEAR AT “THE END OF THE WORLD?”
Thus we see the Corinthians enjoying the consummations or fruits of the three “ends” which are still future. All that we wish to prove is that each eon has an end or consummation, and that there is absolutely no shadow of suspicion for any such idea as that the Corinthians attained the consummations of past eons! The very absurdity of the thought ought to be sufficient to sink it into oblivion.
Some years ago a book appeared entitled “After the Thousand Years.” This expression is not found in the Word of God. It, too, is an invention. But we are glad to be able to say that no one thought of attacking it on this score. Notwithstanding the fact that Scripture does not use the set phrase “after the thousand years,” it speaks of the consummation of the thousand years (Rev.20:3,5,7), hence no sane expositor can object to speaking of the time after it.
The same word is used of the eons, and the objection to “after the eons” will be made by no one whose stock of arguments has not become very low. The fact remains that the eons have a consummation, or end.
If the Authorized version of Heb.9:26 is not a puzzling passage to everyone it is simply because they are lacking in a sense of the fitness of things. Did the world come to its end when He appeared to put away sin? That is what is clearly stated by the common version. And the puzzle is quite as difficult when we substitute “ages” for world. Then Christ appeared in the end of the ages! If the ages ended then, why does our brother deny that they have any end? It is not vital to our position when the eons or ages end. If they have an end that is all that is needed to show that they are not endless.
We sympathize with the popular misconception that the cross must of necessity be the great boundary between this and a previous “age.” We talk about “the gospel age” as though it were inaugurated by the death of Christ. But the Scriptures are against any such idea. This eon did not commence at the cross. It is the same age as that in which our Lord lived.
When his disciples asked Him “…what is… the conclusion of the eon?” (Matt.24:3) did He tell them of His sacrifice on Calvary? No. He told them of the appearance of false christs, and of battles. But even then the end was not to be (Matt.24:6). There would be famine and persecution and the abomination of desolation and the proclamation of the evangel of the kingdom in the whole inhabited earth. Then the consummation will be arriving. The end of the age in which our Lord lived is still future.
The harvest is at the conclusion of the eon (Matt.13:39). The coming eon, of which he spoke, is not the present one, inaugurated at His death, but the still future Millennial age. No eons were concluded at His sacrifice for the “putting away” of sin. (Heb.9:26)
SIN WILL BE REPUDIATED AT THE CONCLUSION OF THE EONS
Furthermore, sin was not “put away” at that time. Our version uses “put away” for eight different Greek expressions. Take away, release, thrust, pardon, expel, discard, are all rendered “put away.” The word here used means to repudiate. In its only other occurrence our version makes it disannulling (Heb.7:18). The verb is rendered reject (Mark 6:26; 7:9; Luke 7:30; John 12:48), despise (Luke 10:16; 1 Thess.4:8,; Heb.10:28; Jude 8), bring to nothing (1 Cor.1:19), frustrate (Gal. 2:21), disannul (Gal.3:15), cast off (1 Tim.5:12). The best English term we could find which combines the thought of reject, despise, disannul, is repudiate. Hence, Heb.9:26 speaks of the time when sin is rejected, despised, disannulled, repudiated. The cross has made provision for this, but sin is still with us, and is not despised or rejected or repudiated by any means.
As this did not occur when the Sacrifice was offered, when will it take place? At the conclusion of the eons. The yearly sacrifices under the law suggested that sin never would be done with. The one Sacrifice is sufficient and needs no repetition. It insists that the question of sin will be finally settled. Here we are told when this will be. At the conclusion of the eons sin will be finally “brought to nothing,” as the translators themselves render the verb when speaking of the wisdom of the world (1 Cor.1:19).
The CONCORDANT VERSION gives the following as the literal word for word, equivalent of the Greek: NOW YET once ON TOGETHER-FINISH OF-THE eons INTO UN-PLACing OF-THE missing THRU THE SACRIFICE OF-Him HE-HAS-been-made-APPEAR. This has been idiomatically rendered: “yet now, once, has He been manifested through His sacrifice, for the repudiation of sin at the conclusion of the eons.”
In all this let us not lose sight of the fact that it makes no real difference to the argument when the eons end. He himself proves his own undoing when he speaks of ages already past. If some ages have ended, then ages have both a beginning and an end, and that settles the whole matter.
IS TWENTY THOUSAND YEARS A “TEMPORARY” PERIOD?
Our Lord Himself contrasts the seed sown on rocky places, which has no root and has but a temporary existence, with that sown in fine earth, which brings fruit to maturity. (Matt.13:21-23; Mark 4:16-20) To make this as sharp as possible, we will suppose that the seed sown on the rocks sprang up and withered in a week and that the fruitful seed was harvested in six months. This will give the ratio of contrast as one to twenty-four. Of course, this is exaggerated, but we wish to make every concession possible. Our brother may object that there is no antithesis here, but our Lord thought there was, and we will defer to His opinion.
The contrast in 2 Cor.4:17,18 may be set forth as follows:
a Our momentary light affliction
b transcendently transcendent eonian weight of glory
a that of ours which is observed
b what is not observed
a what is observed is temporary
b what is not observed is eonian
In a we have that which is momentary and temporary in b that which is eonian. It is a question of our present experience as contrasted with our resurrection life. Let us say that the average saint’s experience lasts a hundred years. This is too long, but we wish to forestall every objection. We now need to discover how long the eons will last. We know that the next eon will exceed a thousand years. We have every reason to think that the succeeding eon will be very much longer. Considerations based upon the “thousand generations” of the Psalmist and the grand cycles of the heavens, suggest that the last eon will be at least seventeen thousand years in length. This makes the utterance of Paul about twenty thousand years from the end of the eons. The ratio, therefore, would be one to two hundred. Our Lord instituted a comparison between one and twenty-four. Why should Paul not be allowed to state a contrast over eight time as great?
How is it possible to deal in a kindly way with such a statement as “There is no antithesis between ‘for a season’ and ‘age-long.’ No; this is a mere evasion. It is more: it is a denial of God’s Word?” Our Lord contrasts this very same term with a single season, yet we are pilloried for presuming to see a contrast between it and many thousands of seasons!
The dictionary definition of “eternal” is “having neither beginning nor end of existence.” How does this accord with 2 Titus 1:9; Titus 1:2, “before eternal times?” Not a single passage is eternal in the past!
What about the future? If eternal is, strictly speaking without beginning or end, everlasting may apply to that which has a beginning, but can never have an end. Let us come right to the point and consider the phrase, “everlasting (or eternal) life.” The apostle John certainly claims to possess everlasting life (1 John 5:11). Consequently he has not died, but is alive yet! So with all who believed on Christ (John 6:47; 10:28). As there is no death, there can be no resurrection. It is useless to cloud the issue with a mass of tradition. If this “everlasting” life can be interrupted by death now, why not in the glory?
John has died. All who had everlasting life died. Their life was not everlasting at all. It was eonian. It will commence with the resurrection and will continue for the eons, and thence onward through eternity.
BEFORE ETERNAL TIMES!
If Rom.16:26 is accurately rendered “the everlasting God,” then the previous verse can be accurately rendered “everlasting times.” We then have the absurd statement that the secret which has been hushed in “everlasting times” is now manifest! In other words, the “everlasting times” have come to an end! More than one “time” can hardly be eternal. The God of the whole earth is not confined to the earth, neither is the eonian God confined to the eons. Just as the earth is a special section of the material universe, so the eons are a segment of the sphere of time.
As our brother has carefully examined each passage where this word is used we cannot doubt that he has considered Romans 16:25. The Authorized translators cleverly camouflaged the rendering by making it “since the world began.” The Revisers have the blundering but honest “through times eternal.” We now suggest that, instead of examining every passage he concentrate on this one. Let him explain the possibility of making manifest a secret hushed in times eternal. It cannot be done. He will then hesitate long before he says that “the one unvaried meaning of ‘aionios’ is ‘eternal.'” It never has this meaning. Through the longest period of time in the Scriptures, there is always a beginning and an end.
This whole discussion may be narrowed down to one question, Was the secret spoken of in Romans 16:25,26, which is now manifested,
HUSHED IN TIMES EONIAN
or through everlasting times?
THE foregone conclusion of those who oppose the great truth of Universal Reconciliation without giving it consideration is that it does away with judgment. It is the natural reaction from one extreme to the other. There is nothing in the truth as set forth in the Scriptures or in our writings, which suggests this thought. Indeed, we have always taken pains to guard this point, and to insist that there is no escape from God’s wrath except through faith in the Son of God.
In “All in All,” the pamphlet under review, we begin our summary as follows: “We have borne testimony in the pages of this pamphlet to our uncompromising belief in the reality of punishment. There is no law in God’s universe more sure than the inexorable decree that every transgression and disobedience shall receive a just recompense of reward. The absolute certainty of punishment should be insisted upon…” (All in All, page 110).
In “The Salvation of the Unbeliever,” which is especially referred to in what follows, the judgment of the unbeliever is actually referred to on every single page except the last! We speak of “the infliction of the pains and penalties each deserves” (page 11). Again “whatever may be the variety and degree of the tribulation and anguish meted out to each…” (page 13).
Not only that, but in the very quotation which is adduced to prove that we do not believe in any future suffering at all, is the phrase “unstinted force in his judgment.”
JUDGMENT FOLLOWS THE JUDGMENT SESSION
The moral turpitude of these emphatic statements should make us blush for shame, for he is a brother in Christ. He has deliberately put himself beyond the pale of consideration by honest men, and this while seeking to stand for God’s truth. It is not necessary to prove his statement false, for words would be wasted on any one who cannot see it in the very words he uses for his proof. No one who speaks of unstinted force in the judgment of the unbeliever can possibly believe they have no suffering. No one who is not totally blinded by a mad desire to defend error at any cost, would say that the “inflictions of the pains and penalties” each unbeliever deserves, denies that they suffer at all.
We cannot argue with him on this matter, for we are not on the same moral plane. We have put up with his perversion of 1 Cor.15:22; we have suffered his subversion of the true texts and the substitution of the false when dealing with the phrase “the all;” we have borne with his attempt to prove that the ages have long since ended; but our Lord does not wish us to descend into a moral atmosphere far beneath the dignity of one who is His slave.
The Lord’s slave ought not to be fighting (2 Tim.2:24). I have always believed and taught, both by tongue and pen, that “indignation and fury, affliction and distress” will come “on every human soul which is effecting evil” (Rom.2:9). I believe the unbeliever will suffer at the judgment of the great white throne. Our brother says I do not. Nothing but a fight can settle this, and I will not fight. I will wait until we stand before our Lord and let Him decide, not for me, nor for my brother alone, but for the thousands whom he is seeking to turn against the truth by a method so low that it is a kindness not to call it by any name.
The quotation he uses was written to appeal to so-called annihilationist, and the terms used and concessions made, for argument’s sake, are such as they would understand. We believe that there is no life except in Christ. We find no warrant in Scripture for punishment before judgment, or in death.
For many years we preached the gospel in the city jail. It was a rule there that we were not allowed to even see those who were awaiting trial. Only those who had stood before the judge and received their sentence were allowed to come into the tank where the meeting was held. The reason given was that no one was deemed guilty until his case had been tried, and it might be punishment for an innocent man even to be seen in such a place.
WE BELIEVE THAT SINNERS WILL SUFFER FOR SIN
Everyone who has given the subject serious thought has wondered at the orthodox view, which punishes the criminal for thousands of years and then brings him before the Judge. It is everywhere recognized that justice demands that all should have a speedy trial. It is a most hateful form of tyranny when conditions before trial are oppressive, or when unnecessary delay halts the free course of justice. What then shall we say of a theology, which represents God as acting a thousand times more tyrannically than the worst of human rulers? It should be a most welcome relief to find that the Scriptures give us a God as ideal in His judgments as He is in grace.
As to the parable of Luke 15-16, we boldly believe that the prodigal son was not literally dead in the first part and have the best of reasons for taking a similar view of the corresponding section concerning Lazarus and the rich man. As we have a full exposition elsewhere, we will not repeat it here.
We boldly affirm that not a single passage of Scripture can be found to support the assertion that all unbelievers suffer for the ages of the ages. That is only for a very few.
Again we are confronted by that pitiably immoral method which is so distressing to the soul of Christ’s slave. Nine pages of our pamphlet deal with many passages of Scripture. Then, on page 10, those who insist on reasoning about these things are taken up on their own ground. The passage quoted above is preceded by the following: “Let those who are fond of reasoning about the destiny of the universe accept their own premises and follow them out logically…” If others “appeal to carnal sentiments” and we condescend to humor them, should we be blamed, especially when there is nothing to be blamed for? We do base all on God’s Word, but our position will stand the test of reason as well, and we have the best of authority for defending it from that quarter. Eternal torment is not only unreasonable but absolutely devoid of sanity and has driven many into actual madness. I know of one bright young believer who was so wrought up by constant contemplation of the fate of the damned that he lost his mind and is today utterly insane.
The only Scripture, which is brought to bear, is characteristic. In Luke 16:31 we read that “neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead.” The One referred to here can mean none other than Christ Himself. The nation refused Him when He came at first, and they refused Him again in the person of His apostles, after He rose from the dead. Even taking this literally it has no connection with the resurrection of the sinners themselves. Had it read, “neither would they be persuaded though they be roused from the dead,” it might be considered. However unscriptural the doctrine that unbelief will be swept away before the great white throne may be, he has not been able to find a passage to refute it. All he is able to do is to try and distort one.
THE UNBELIEVER WILL NOT BE SAVED THROUGH FAITH
In explanation of the passage that God is the Savior of all mankind, especially of those who believe, we desired to press the fact that salvation is on the principle of faith for us, but will be on the principle of sight for the unbeliever. We did not say “by a sight of the Sitter on the Great White Throne.” Christ is Judge, not Savior, there. The absurdity which he scouts is of his own creation. The process by which the unbeliever will be saved does not end until the consummation. He is cast into the lake of fire before his salvation. Witness the next statement which he quotes: “The change which eventuates in the ultimate salvation of the unbeliever…” He certainly did not study this statement!
How many have ever marked the “horrible absurdity” of God actually saving men first, and afterward allowing them to be burned at the stake! Not sinners, mind you, such as those who appear in judgment, but holy, godly witnesses for His truth, burned alive with far more attendant shame and suffering than will be the lot of unbelievers! But, some will say, their sufferings ended when they died. So will those cast into the burning lake, for it is the second death.
Our brother seems to think that the gospel of repentance and pardon of sins (which pertains to the kingdom of Israel) should be applicable to the unbeliever before the great white throne. That is, if the sinner changes his mind then, he should be forgiven. But the time for that will long have passed. Many a criminal stands before the judge and repents. Many a judge is “diabolical” enough to sentence a man for his crime even if he has changed his mind with regard to it!
As a matter of fact, our brother himself believes that a man can repent and yet be lost. Judas repented (regretted) his action (Matt.27:3). Will that save him?
Let us briefly restate our position. We speak of the judgment of the individual sinner after death, not of the many judgments of various classes in life. There is no judgment before they stand before the Judge at the great white throne. Each one is judged according to his acts. The judgment consists of the affliction and anguish suited to each case. It ends in the second death.
Many passages will come to mind which seem to teach otherwise, but a careful consideration of each will show that it concerns a different judgment. There are many judgments before the great white throne is set up, but they are concerned with sinners before they die, and have no bearing on their ultimate destiny, for all of these sinners appear again at the great white throne.
We all agree that, after this judgment, the unbeliever is in the lake of fire. That is as far as some can see. But God has given us two grand declarations, which pierce this gloomy future and show that beyond it is the glory of God. One is, that the lake of fire is death (Rev.20:14). It is the last enemy. The other is that it shall be abolished (1 Cor.15:26).
And the grand result guarantees the correctness of our deductions, for then, when death is abolished, God shall become All in all. So we sum up the simple statement of the case like this: Shall God be
ALL IN ALL
or, All in a few ?
IT IS possible for a man to be right on one point yet absolutely astray on another. Luther was grand on justification, but even his most faithful adherents today will not deny that his teaching on the eucharist was unfounded. It is probable that every believer, including the writer, is right in some things and wrong in others. But the fact that we are all astray in a few matters does not prove that we are astray in all. Such a line of reasoning is a sword, which cuts both ways. Either our esteemed brother must claim absolute perfection or he must acknowledge that he is absolutely and hopelessly wrong in every respect. That he is certainly wrong in some is evident to all who have followed the argument thus far. Now, to use his own reasoning, he must be wrong on the subject of the sonship of Christ.
If this reasoning is foolish as applied to him, it ought to be just as inane when used of us. If he has proved us wrong on the subject before us, then his logic would prove us wrong in other doctrines. But he seems not at all sure that he has proved us wrong, so he insinuates (what he cannot prove) that we are wrong on the subject of the “person of Christ.” And this is supposed to show that we are “dangerous” on all other points!
THE CRIME OF KEEPING TO THE FORM OF SOUND WORDS
But this reasoning is not only illogical. It is immoral. Such tricks are clever politics and will be successful in creating prejudice. But they will afford nothing but fuel in the day of Christ. If any of our readers wish to engage in unscrupulous theological discussion to maintain their own position and prestige, a few hints will suffice. First find out in what particulars your opponent differs from orthodoxy, or the opinions of the public you wish to reach. It makes no difference whether he is right or wrong, your denunciation will make him appear a dangerous man, and even if you fail to prove him unsound on any other particular, you will have ruined his prestige with the people. You must remember, however, that he gains greatly with God and Christ.
But we will let our brother prove the falsity of this assumption himself. We will allow that all that we teach is wrong. So far as we are aware we alone teach that the four wild beasts of Daniel are combined in the wild beast of the Revelation. We alone teach that apostate Israel is the Babylon of the Apocalypse. If this is false why does he repeat it in his book on “The Antichrist?” What better proof can he offer that we are right even when all are against us?
Our crime consists briefly in this: We have studiously avoided theological phrases which are not found in the Scriptures. We have never spoken of His “eternal pre-existence.” The Bible never speaks of His “eternal pre-existence.” Hence, we should “seriously question” whether the Bible is right on this point! Why, the Bible does not even speak of the “person” of Christ! It is clear then that we are not being judged by the Bible, but with the Bible. We are fellow-criminals with the Book of Books!
The second charge might well be true, for the book under review is not concerned with the Sonship of Christ. But it happens that we have made a clear “reference to His person before He commenced His mediatorial work.” On page 177, first paragraph, is the following: “Before heaven or earth knew aught of rule or ownership, the Son of God, in His solitary sublimity, held undisputed sway and complete possession of creation from center to circumference, in the heavens, as well as upon the earth.”
Let it be clearly understood, once for all, that we do not believe doctrines; we believe God. The most correct human creed cannot be the object of true faith, unless it consists of the words of divine revelation. When we are threatened with anathema if we do not believe so and so, our case is quite hopeless, for credence to a human formulary is credulity and fanaticism, not faith. How can I believe God when He has not spoken? How much less does a human dogma claim my belief when, not only is it absent from the revelation God has given, but is contrary to it?
WE DO NOT BELIEVE DOCTRINES WE BELIEVE GOD HIMSELF
Again, we repeat, we will place our signature on any copy of the Scriptures in the original (we have already done this in the CONCORDANT VERSION), but we will not sign a single sentence of human origin. We will consider it. Perhaps we will assent to it. But we put our faith in God alone, and in His Word.
We will now give the test statements, which we must believe and the scriptures which we must not believe:
A. W. P. “before anything was created “the Son” was GOD as fully as was “the Father.””
GOD’S WORD “the beginning of the creation of God (Rev.3:14)
Firstborn of every creature (Col.1:15)
there are many gods and many lords, nevertheless to us
there is one God, the Father, out of Whom all is,
and we for Him, and one Lord, Jesus Christ,
through Whom all is, and we through Him.
But in all there is not this knowledge” (1 Cor.8:5-7)
As to the future, we are called upon to choose between the following pronouncement and passage:
A. W. P. “after He has completed His mediatorial work He will remain
forever God with equal glory as the Father.”
GOD’S WORD “then the Son Himself, also, shall be subject to Him
Who subjects the universe to Him, that God may be All in all” (1 Cor.15:28)
As to creation, God says Christ is the beginning, or Original, of creation, not before it. As to sonship, the Scriptures make Him the Firstborn, not before the firstborn. As to Godhood the apostle warns us that there is one God out of Whom all is, not two sources of all, and then gives Him His true place as Lord of all and the channel of all. As it is utterly impossible to believe both A. W. P. and God, I hope he will forgive me for following the footsteps of Abraham and of John and of Paul, and of our blessed Lord Himself.
Scripture draws a sharp contrast between the place of the Son and God. The Son has been sovereign: at the consummation He becomes subject. How God can be subject to Himself, and as subject be equal in glory to Himself as regnant, is one of those deep mysteries of theology which are hopelessly incomprehensible. I am sure that A. W. P. does not expect us to understand it. But how crystalline clear and comprehensible is the Word of God! There is no difficulty about understanding it. The difficulty is to believe it. That requires a miracle, for God alone can give sight to those who will not see.
Of course, theology insists on the privilege of explaining these texts, for it is a well understood axiom that the evident meaning is only a gloss, and the real meaning can only be discovered by modifying the terms by means of the very theory it wishes to establish.
We too, reserve the right to explain these passages, but our explanation differs in this, that we will not use other scriptures to contradict, but to uphold the plain and apparent sense of the words as they stand.
We ask our readers to kindly refrain from deducing our position, for all of us unconsciously have the tendency to blend our own ideas into our conception of what a writer means, who does not fully explain himself. We prefer not to denounce error, but to replace it by truth. But now that we have been forced to do so, we do not hesitate to brand these statements as subversive of the word of God and grieving to the Christ of God.
We freely admit that our position on this matter is quite as unpalatable as our stand on God’s purpose to become All in all. For a score of years I have lived in constant companionship with the sacred originals, and human statements which stab at the heart of God’s revelation, while they seek to cloak themselves in its sanctity, have become utterly repulsive to me. It is only with an effort that I can refrain from expressing my opinion of such outrageous audacity.
The moment it becomes necessary to express a hypothetical truth in language foreign to God’s holy word it loses all authority, it invites suspicion, it excites distrust and disgust. This is tenfold more true in a case like this, when a man is on trial for heresy.
THEOLOGY OR SCRIPTURE?
Let us suppose the Diet of Worms had asked Luther the question, “Do you believe in purgatory?” Should we read this today who would be convicted of heresy by it, they or him? Similarly now, I am constrained to class A. W. P. among those who do not believe God, because he proposes to try a fellow slave on charges which are not found in the word of God. I will not evade it, I absolutely refuse to believe A. W. P. On such a theme I would not believe him, even if he spoke the truth, but I would believe all that he can present from the word of God.
In conclusion, if A. W. P. will restate his dogmas in the words of the inspired original, I will sign his statements. If he cannot, he stands self-condemned, subject to the grace that knows no condemnation.
Briefly, we may summarize this point as follows: What do the Scriptures teach, that Christ is
THE SON OF GOD
or God the Son ?
THE closing argument for eternal torment consists of a collection of seven scriptures, dealing with God’s judgments, not one of which deals with final destiny at all. Instead of correctly apportioning the various judgments, all are wrenched from their proper tune and forced to fill the place of God’s final dealings with His creatures. All we need to do in each case is to inquire When? and Who? and we see immediately that all are special inflictions at special times. Not one throws any light on the end we are considering.
We thoroughly believe that the nations who have neglected Israel in the end time will be judged at the beginning of the day of the Lord (Matt.25:46). Their judgment is called eonian chastening. It will last for the whole eon. More than this, we believe that the individuals composing these nations will probably be present in the judgment at the great white throne to answer for their private sins, for assuredly their treatment of Israel is not the only part of their conduct which will call for the judgment of God. The judgment of Matt.25:46 is limited to living nations, for the kingdom eon, and has no bearing on the final destiny of the people who compose them.
Our expositions of the Revelation are witnesses to the fact that we believe fully in the great judgments which attend the unveiling of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thess.1:8,9). If they are “punished with everlasting destruction,” it is difficult to see how they can appear before God at the later judgment, as God has sworn they shall. They, unlike those nations who survive, but did not succor Israel, suffer the justice of eonian extermination. Yet they, too, shall rise in the resurrection of judgment. Their final destiny is not in view in Thessalonians.
SODOM SHALL RETURN TO HER FORMER ESTATE
We likewise subscribe to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, who “are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” (Jude 7) This occurred many centuries ago. How poor a passage to apply to that which is thousands of years hence!
The word “set forth” is, literally, “lying before.” The term “example” or specimen, is from the word show. These are readily comprehended if we apply them to the sites of Sodom and Gomorrah today. Their destruction was so complete that their exact location is in dispute. Now the preponderance of opinion places them under the shallow end of the Dead Sea. No one can visit this terrible desolation without fully appreciating the force of these words.
But we are asked to forget this solemn and forceful scene for an “example” which no one can see, and which is not at all “set forth” or “lying before” us. We are asked to forget the fire (Gen.19:24) which destroyed these cities so that the smoke of the plain went up like the smoke of a furnace. The justice or “vengeance” of this fire is all too evident to this very day. It is a powerful reminder of God’s judgment, which should deter those who are tempted to follow a similar path. This fire is called “eternal.” Just now the plain is covered by water, not fire. It was an eonian fire, as is witnessed by its effect for the eon.
Speaking of Jerusalem, Ezekiel gives us God’s thoughts concerning Sodom. “As I live, saith the Lord God, Sodom thy sister hath not done, she nor her daughters, as thou hast done, thou and thy daughters.” And again, “When I shall bring again their captivity, the captivity of Sodom and her daughters…then will I bring again the captivity of thy captives in the midst of them…when thy sisters, Sodom and her daughters, shall return to their former estate, then thou and thy daughters shall return to your former estate” (Ezek.16:48, 53, 55)
2 Peter 2:6 gives a parallel passage, where we read that God condemns the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, reducing them to cinders by an overthrow, having placed them for an example. This is perfectly plain, unless we try to distinguish between the cities and the people, and make conscious cinders suffer from flames beneath the waters of the Dead Sea.
If the Sodomites were on public exhibition where all could see them suffering in the flames of a medieval hell, we might consider them as set forth as an example, but as no one has ever seen them, and no one can see them, they are no example at all. The cities, however, are lying before us as a specimen of God’s eonian justice. The effects of the fire endure for the eon. When Jerusalem is restored, they will be restored.
Proverbs is hardly a proper place for texts to prove the final destiny of mankind. It deals with the present life. Yet we are assured that Prov.29:1: “He that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy,” proves the hopelessness of all who die in their sins. 2 Chron.36:16 gives us the same expression, “without healing.” Israel “mocked the messengers of God, and despised His words, and misused His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, till there was no remedy. If Israel is “without remedy:” they will never be restored as a nation. “All Israel shall be saved” (Rom.11:26) cannot apply to them. Hundreds of prophecies foretelling the day when the “sun of righteousness shall arise with healing [the same word in Hebrew as remedy] in His wings” will never be fulfilled! In fact, all saints who die of an incurable disease (according to such reasoning) are hopelessly lost! But let us comfort ourselves with the thought that their case is in the hands of One Whose name is Jehovah Ropheka (Ex.15:26), the great Healer. It is not nearly as hopeless as a cause that appeals to Proverbs on a subject altogether out of its field of vision.
The tenth of Hebrews is given as an example of those for whom “there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins!,” hence no possibility of salvation. The passage deals with Hebrews who apostatized when the kingdom which had been proclaimed failed to materialize. Since they degrade the blood by which they were hallowed, the great Sacrifice is rejected. Since Christ, there is no longer a sacrifice for sins, or sin-offering, as under Moses. As a result, like the rejector of Moses’ law, such are subject to severe temporal judgments. Moses’ rejector was stoned. The rejecters of Messiah in the nation were dealt with by the living God Himself, when He judged His people soon after the epistle to the Hebrews was written. Let any one read Josephus’ account of the Jewish wars and the siege of Jerusalem and he will find how fearful it is to fall into the hands of the living God.
THE TEMPORAL PROCESS IS NOT THE FINAL RESULT
At the end time, during the great judgment scenes, the severest of all will fall on the apostates in Israel. But this is not their final judgment. It has to do with God’s government of the earth, the process and not the ultimate. They will all appear before God at the great white throne and find their place in the lake of fire. It is after this, when death is abolished as the last enemy, that they enter their final state.
No one reading Paul’s lament over those “who are enemies of the cross of Christ…who are disposed to the things of earth,” will doubt for a moment that they are beloved brethren in the faith. Paul is not lamenting over the world in Philippians, nor does he expect the unbeliever to walk as he did. Thousands upon thousands today are friends of Christ, yet enemies of His cross. They are seeking to reform and educate and sanitate the world which hates Him. They have no fellowship in His shame. The end of such is destruction, so far as their walk is concerned and that is what is in view here, in line with the whole tenor of the epistle. This will occur at the bema, or judgment seat of Christ, soon after we are in His presence. Then fire will test all our work, and such as is unworthy will be burned up, and we will forfeit it, yet we shall be saved, yet thus, as through fire (1 Cor.3:12-15). If the enemies of the cross are doomed to eternal torment, we fear few of His servants in these days will escape!
The last scripture concerns the resurrection of life, and the resurrection of judgment (John 5:28,29). The latter undoubtedly refers to the great white throne before which all who are not in Christ will be arraigned. They will have their part in the lake of fire, which is the second death. This is the last enemy which is abolished at the consummation. They emerge out of death and receive life, are saved and reconciled to God through the blood of Christ.
Thus we see that, in every case, the scriptures quoted for man’s final destiny relate to the process by which God is preparing His creatures for it. Judgments scattered over a period of at least five thousand years are all confused with God’s dealings at least that much later than the last of them. A cause that calls for such proof confutes itself.
The closing contention is characteristic. Like all that preceded it, the writer errs, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God. He insists that, if the ages are to end and the wicked issue forth from the lake of fire, this should be told us in the closing chapters of the book of Revelation. He has never learned the great truth that the highest and greatest scope of divine truth was given not to John, but to Paul. He it was to whom it was granted “to complete the word of God.“ (Col.1:25) He it is who enlarges the scope of God’s grace to include the heavens as well as the earth (Eph.1:10) and he is the only one who speaks of the time before the eons (1 Cor.2:7). If he could reveal glories to the Corinthians before the eons of which no other apostle knew, why should he not reveal a grace after the eons of which John was not aware?
It is a simple fact that he does this in the fifteenth of First Corinthians. John unveils the rule of Christ; Paul reveals His abdication. John sets up the kingdom; Paul closes it. John leaves the last enemies still in possession. Sovereignty and authority and death are in full sway in the closing scenes of the Unveiling; Paul reveals a brighter day in which these are all abolished. We conclude, then, that nothing in the Unveiling is final. Except that it is at the end of our Bible, there is no reason for taking it so, and Paul definitely states that it is not.
After all, what can give us such unquestioning confidence in this great truth, as the utter failure of every argument against it? We ourselves could not test our position, for it is difficult to see our own faults. But when the best that can be offered against the truth exposes itself by contrast, and is condemned by the very texts to which it appeals, we may rest satisfied that God has graciously granted us the true light.
Thus commences the closing paragraph. Let me assure our brother, beloved by the Lord, that we fully expect to answer to God for all our acts, and will rejoice to see all that is not of God destroyed by the fiery test of that day. But such threats do not alarm us in the least. We know a God of transcendent grace. It is only natural for one who thinks Him capable of tormenting His own creatures eternally, to seek to follow His example, and torture His servants here and now. Indeed, it would be strange if it were not so. We would not have it otherwise.
THE CHARACTER OF OUR GOD CONTROLS OUR CONDUCT
The character of the God you worship will determine your ways and your words. We trust it will be so with us also, for we would delight to be like Him. Hence, we do not threaten you with His wrath, but commend you to His grace. Perhaps no sin can be so great as to distort His words and defame His character. But His grace is superbly sufficient, His love is lavish in its long-suffering. It never lapses, but looks longingly for the reconciliation, which is the justification and crown of all His ways with His creatures. So, as we close with the absolute certainty of a reconciliation between us, we anticipate it on our part and throw all enmity aside. We are conciliated no matter what you do. We recall with joy and satisfaction the great truth that, by God’s grace, it is impossible for you to enter into condemnation, no matter how much you may offend Him (Rom.8:1) and the still greater truth that we are saved for grace (Eph.2:8). While your words and ways have seemed to us to be offensively unlike His, this only gives greater ground for grace. This of itself justifies them, for grace must have a foil.
We close, then, with a prayer for such an outpouring of His grace on your own head as will force you to feel the affection which is found in Him for all the creatures of His hand and heart.
A REPLY TO UNIVERSALISM REFUTED, Parts 1-7 [Adolph E. Knoch] 1