REFORMATION RUMBLINGS NOTATION— I didn’t intend to do a third column on this topic currently, but I’ve received quite a few responses from Parts 1 & 2 and decided to address it once more. I beg for your patience.—Buff.
BUFF SCOTT, JR.
Extinguishing The Ungodly
This controversial issue has prompted a host of responses, both positive and negative. One of my readers responded to my sentiments by referring me to the words of our Lord in Matthew 25:46. The verse reads, “And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
My position, of course, is that the ungodly will experience a final, ceaseless existence. He inquires, “Why doesn’t the Bible say, ‘And the wicked will cease to exist, while the righteous will inherit eternal life?’ ”
Well, it actually does, but not in those exact words. It is interesting that destruction
are never applied to the righteous. Their eternity will be endless life and eternal bliss. But not so with the wicked. They will suffer eternal destruction, or, as Jesus puts it in John 3:16, they will perishthat is, cease to exist
Such is the meaning of perish. The destruction of the ungodly will be eternal in that it will never be reversed or altered. Their eternal punishment will be the absence of life, away from the glory of God and the exquisite paradise He has prepared for the righteous.
To be a little repetitious just here, the wicked will perish—be extinguished
. The results [extinction] will be eternal, never-ending. Paul says the wages of sin [for the ungodly] is deatheternal death [Rom. 6:23]
. John’s Revelation
speaks of the ungodly undergoing a second death [2:11, 20:6, 20:14, and 21:8]
. The term second death is not used elsewhere in scripture.
The writings in Revelation
are highly symbolic, but if we take “second death” at face value, or even symbolically, the second death of the ungodly will be eternal punishmentextinction
. Let it be repeated again that if
the ungodly are kept alive endlessly while being tormented, they have not died, the opposite of what Paul and the Lord say.
But what about Mark 9:43-44, where “the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched”? Our Lord used the literal fire of the garbage dump [Gehenna]
, just outside of Jerusalem, to bolster His point on the awfulness of being rejected in the end. Although that fire burned most of the time, yet it was only temporary.
The worm, the fire, and not quenched are mere symbols, and each typifies the horrific fate of the ungodly prior to their being extinguished forever. The eternal extinction of the wicked will not be quenchedstamped out or smothered. It will be endless! Incidentally, a few versions do not contain verse 44, “where the worm does not die.”
A number of commentators, including the late Adam Clarke, note that Mark 9:44 is the last verse in Isaiah. They all say the statement “where the worm does not die” is a figurative expression, which was common among the Jewish people. Apparently, it was still a figurative utterance in Jesus’ time on earth.
Regardless of the meaning of Mark 9:43-44, one thing seems to be quite convincing—immortality is not appropriated to the ungodly, but to believers only