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Here and Hereafter

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    2. — CAN THE SOUL BE KILLED?

    Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”HHMLD 109.3

    Luke records the same sentiment in these words: “And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.” Luke 12:4, 5.HHMLD 109.4

    This is considered a stronghold by all immaterialists. The estimate which they put upon these texts is thus expressed by Mr. Landis (p. 181):—HHMLD 109.5

    “This text (Matthew 10:28), therefore, must continue to stand as the testimony of the Son of God in favor of the soul’s immortality, and his solemn condemnation of the soul-ruining errors of the annihilation and Sadducean doctrine.”HHMLD 110.1

    The reply comes, without calling, on this verse: Mr. L. evidently applies the argument to a wrong issue; for whatever it may teach concerning the intermediate state, it is most positively against the doctrine of eternal misery, and the consequent immortality of the soul. It teaches that God can destroy the soul in hell; and there is no force in our Lord’s warning unless we understand it to affirm that he will thus destroy the souls of the wicked. We never could with any propriety be warned to fear a person because he could do that which he never designed to do, and never would do. We are to fear the civil magistrate to such a degree, at least, as not to offend against the laws, because he has power to put those laws into execution, and visit upon us merited punishment, but our fear is to rest not simply upon the fact that he has power to do this, but upon the certainty that he will do it if we are guilty of crime. Otherwise there could be no cause for fear, and no ground for any exhortation to fear.HHMLD 110.2

    Now we are to fear God, that is, fear to disobey him, because he is able to destroy body and soul in hell. And what is necessarily implied in this? — It is implied that he certainly will do this in the cases of all those who do not fear him enough to comply with his requirements. So the text is a direct affirmation that the wicked will be destroyed, both soul and body, in hell.HHMLD 110.3

    The next inquiry is, What is the meaning of the word “destroy”? — We answer that, take the word “soul” to mean what we will, the word “destroy” here has the same meaning and the same force as applied to the soul, that the word “kill” has as applied to the body in the sentence before. Whatever killing does to the body, destroying does to the soul. Don’t fear men, because they cannot kill the soul as they kill the body; but fear God, because he can and will kill the soul (if wicked) just as men kill the body. But every one well understands what it does to the body to kill it. It deprives it of all its functions and powers of life and activity. It would do the same to the soul to destroy it, supposing the soul to be what is popularly believed. The word here rendered “destroy” is (appolluo), and is defined by Greenfield, “to destroy, to kill, to put to death,” etc.HHMLD 110.4

    Having seen that the text affirms in the most positive manner the destruction of soul and body, or the complete cessation of conscious existence, for all the wicked, in hell, we now inquire whether it teaches a conscious existence for the soul in the intermediate state? This must be, it is claimed, because man cannot kill it. But the killing which God inflicts, according to the popular view, is torment in the flames of hell, and that commences immediately upon the death of the body. Let us, then, see what the Scriptures testify concerning the receptacle of the dead and the place of punishment.HHMLD 111.1

    The word “hell” in our English version is from three different Greek words. These words are (hades), (ge-enna), and (tartaro-o, a verb signifying to thrust down to Tartarus). These all designate different places; and the following full list of the instances of their occurrence in the New Testament, will show their use. Hades occurs in the following passages:—HHMLD 111.2

    Matt. 11:23, shall be brought down to hell.
    16:18, the gates of hell shall not prevail.
    Luke 10:15, shalt be thrust down to hell.
    16:23, in hell he lifted up his eyes.
    Acts 2:27, wilt thou not leave my soul in hell.
    2:31, his soul was not left in hell.
    1Cor. 15:55, O grave, where is thy victory?
    Rev. 1:18, have the keys of hell and of death.
    6:8, was Death and Hell followed.
    20:13, death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them.
    20:14, death and hell were cast into the lake of fire.

    Ge-enna signifies Gehenna, the valley of Hinnom, near Jerusalem, in which fires were kept constantly burning to consume the bodies of malefactors and the rubbish which was brought from the city and east therein. It is found in the following places:HHMLD 112.1

    Matt. 5:22, shall be in danger of hell fire.
    5:29, whole body should be cast into hell.
    5:30, whole body should be cast into hell.
    10:28, destroy both soul and body in hell.
    18:9, having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.
    23:15, more the child of hell than yourselves.
    23:33, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?
    Mark 9:43, having two hands to go into hell.
    9:45, having two feet to be cast into hell.
    9:47, having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.
    Luke 12:5, hath power to cast into hell.
    James 3:6, it is set on fire of hell.

    Tartaro-o is used only in the following text: “God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell.” 2 Peter 2:4.HHMLD 112.2

    From these references it will be seen that hades is the place of the dead, whether righteous or wicked, from which they are brought only be a resurrection. Revelation 20:13. On the contrary, Gehenna is the place into which the wicked are to be cast alive with all their members, to be destroyed soul and body. These places, therefore, are not to be confounded together.HHMLD 112.3

    Now the punishment against which the text warns us is not a punishment in hades, the state or place of the dead, but in Gehenna, which is not inflicted till after the resurrection. Therefore we affirm that the text contains no instruction whatever concerning the condition of man in death, but passes over the entire period from the death of the body to the resurrection. And this is further evident from the language in which Luke records the passage: “Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell.”HHMLD 112.4

    Luke does not use the term “soul” at all; yet he expresses the same sentiment as Matthew. Man can kill the body, or destroy this present life; but he can accomplish no destruction beyond that. But God is able not only to kill the body, or destroy the present life, but he can cast into Gehenna, or destroy, the life that we may have beyond the resurrection. These two things alone the text has in view. And now when we remember that psuche, the word here rendered “soul,” means “life,” either the present or future, and is forty times in the New Testament so rendered, the text is freed from all difficulty. The word “kill,” to be sure, is not such as would naturally be used in connection with “life;” but the word “destroy,” which is among the definitions of the original word, apokteino, can be appropriately used with “life.” Thus: Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to destroy the future life; but rather fear him who is able to destroy the body, and put an end to all future life, in hell. And it is worthy of notice that the destruction in hell here threatened is not inflicted upon a person without his body. Nothing is said about God’s destroying the soul alone; but it is at some point beyond this life, when the person again has a body; which is not till after the resurrection.HHMLD 113.1

    Another declaration from the lips of our Lord, found in Matthew 16:25, 26, will throw some light on our present subject: “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” The word “soul” should here be rendered “life.” What shall a man give in exchange for his life? that is, his future life. Dr. Clarke, on verse 26, says: “On what authority many here translate the word psuche in the 25th verse, ‘life,’ and in this verse, ‘soul,’ I know not; but am certain it means ‘life’ in both places.”HHMLD 113.2

    Verse 39 of Matthew 10 is also a good comment on verse 28, now under notice: “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” Here the same word, psuche, rendered “soul” in verse 28, is twice used, and rendered “life.” The teaching of the passage is very evident. “He that findeth his life shall lose it;” that is, he that rejects Christ for the sake of preserving this present life (psuche), shall lose it (the future psuche) in the world to come; “and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it;” that is, he that will follow Christ, though it cost him his present life (psuche), shall find it (psuche) in the world to come; for man cannot touch that life; as in verse 28, they may kill the body, deprive us of this present life; but they cannot destroy the psuche that remains to God’s children after this, that is, the life to come.HHMLD 114.1

    Rendering psuche as it is rendered in verse 28, this 39th verse would read: “He that findeth his soul shall lose it; and he that loseth his soul for my sake shall find it.” Let us now take the expressions to “find” or “save the soul,” and to “lose the soul,” in the sense of popular theology, and see how ridiculous the teaching of the passages above referred to would be. Whosoever will save his soul (to save the soul meaning to save it from hell) shall lose it (that is, shall go into hell torments); but whosoever will lose his soul (suffer eternal misery) for my sake shall find it (shall be saved in heaven). This make utter nonsense of the passage, and so is sufficient condemnation of the view which makes such an interpretation necessary.HHMLD 114.2

    The passage simply refers to the present and future life. Thus: Whosoever will save his life (that is, will deny Christ and his gospel for the sake of avoiding persecution, or the loss of his present life), shall lose it (the future life) in the world to come, when God shall destroy both soul and body in Gehenna; but he who shall lose his present life, if need be, for the sake of Christ and his cause, shall find it (the boon of immortality) in the world to come, when eternal life is given to all the overcomers.HHMLD 115.1

    Here the life is spoken of as something which can be lost and found again. Between the losing and finding, no one can claim that it maintains a conscious existence. And what is meant by finding it? — Simply that God will bestow it upon us in the future, beyond the resurrection. What, then, is meant by the expression that man cannot kill it? — Simply the same thing, that God will, in the resurrection, endow us with life again, — a life which it is beyond the power of man to take from us.HHMLD 115.2

    The life of all men is in the hands of God. The body was formed of the dust, but the “life” was imparted by God. Man, by sin, has made this present life a temporary one. But through the plan of salvation, by which the human race was placed upon a second probation after Adam’s fall, with the privilege of still gaining eternal life, a future life is decreed for all; for there shall be a resurrection of the just and the unjust. With the righteous, this life will be eternal; for they have secured the forgiveness of all their sins through Jesus Christ; but with the wicked it will soon end in the second death; for they have thrown away their golden privilege, and clung to their sins, the wages of which is death. Evil men may, by persecution, hasten the close of the Christian’s present temporary life, — may cut it short by killing the body, — for some years before it would close in the natural course of events; but that future life, which in the purpose of God is as sure as his own throne, they cannot touch.HHMLD 115.3

    The exhortation is to those who are striving to serve God, and who thereby are liable to lose their present lives at the hands of wicked men, for the truth’s sake. Fear them not, though with the bloody arm of persecution they may deprive you of the present life; for the life which is to come, they cannot reach.HHMLD 116.1

    And the warning is to the wicked, that unless they fear God more than they fear men, and are governed by his glory more than by worldly considerations, he will bring their existence to an utter end in the fire of Gehenna.HHMLD 116.2

    The text, therefore, so far from proving the existence in man of an independent, death-surviving, entity called the immortal soul, speaks only of the present and future life; and, passing over the entire period between death and the resurrection, then promises the righteous a life which man cannot destroy, and affirms that the wicked shall utterly cease to be, in the second death.HHMLD 116.3

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