25 May 2019

LeRoy Edwin Froom on ‘Aiōn’ and ‘Aiōnios’ in ‘The Conditionalist Faith of Our Fathers’

        What follows is the unabridged twenty-fourth chapter, ‘Terms and Usages: “Aiōn” and “Aiōnios” ’, from LeRoy Edwin Froom’s The Conditionalist Faith of Our Fathers: The Conflict of the Ages over the Nature and Destiny of Man, 2 vols (Wahington, DC: Review and Herald, 1959, 1965), 1.431–44. Unfortunately, this volume is currently out of print. I have attempted to remain faithful to the same basic structure and formatting as seen in the original. I have retained all the original emphases of the author. The heading titles are the author’s (i.e. Froom’s). The only significant alteration I have made is in converting the footnotes to endnotes (of which there are seven). Emendations to the text will be contained in square brackets followed by the initials ‘J. D.’ so as to prevent possible confusion.  —J. D. Gallé

Terms and Usages: “Aiōn” and “Aiōnios”

I. Principles Governing the Meaning of Aiōn and Aiōnios

        1. Definitions and Usages—According to Young, the noun aiōn (meaning “aeon” or “age”) occurs 128 times in the New Testament, in 102 passages—34 times in simple form, and 64 times in prepositional phrases and forms. The adjective aiōnios (belonging to an age) is used 67 times—42 times rendered “eternal” and 25 times as “everlasting.” Even if aiōn meant “eternity”—which it does not—aiōnios could only mean “belonging to eternity,” not necessarily lasting through it. And in not one of the passages does the word itself mean endless. There are classical Greek words that do stand for endless, but such words are not used in the New Testament. That too is significant.
        Aiōn may be defined as a period of existence, or continuous being, whether a lifetime or an age. It is sometimes limited and sometimes denotes boundless periods and endless eternity. In 23 instances aiōn is doubled. The basic thought is always continuity, whether for a definite period, long or short, or for all time. It is often a “hidden” period—hidden as to precise length, sometimes terminable, sometimes interminable. So aiōn, like our term “age,” denotes a period of undefined length.
        In order to determine its length in any given instance, even relatively, the context and other passages where used must be considered, and especially the substantive to which it is attached. Therefore aiōnios does not, and cannot, always have the same meaning, for it is modified or even altered by the substantive that it modifies.
        2. Specific “Aiōnios” Usages Outlined.—According to the Englishman's Greek Concordance, in the 24 passages in the New Testament where aiōnios is rendered “everlasting” 14 are used with zōē-life—meaning life without an end. Of the remaining 10, two are used with “fire” (continuing unquenchable until that on which the fire feeds is consumed); once with “punishment” (permanent in effect); once with “habitations” (doubtless the new earth) without end; once with “destruction” (like punishment); once with “consolation” (unending for the saved); once with “power” (ascribed to God, and hence without limit); once with “covenant” (unending in results); once with “kingdom of our Lord” (hence unceasing); and once with “gospel,” or “power of God” (and thus limitless in duration—Rom. 1:16). So AIONIOS always takes its meaning from the word to which it is attached.
        In the Authorized Version, in prepositional phrase form (with aiōn as the base), it appears some 68 times, and has been variously rendered: “since the world began” (Luke 1:70; Acts 3:21); “from the beginning of the world” (Eph. 3:9); “for ever” (20 times); “ever” (Heb. 7:24); “for evermore” (Heb. 7:28); “for ever and ever (20 times), et cetera.

II. Aiōn and Aiōnios in the Contrasts of Scripture

        1. Golden Rule: Perpetuity within Limits.Aiōn and aiōnios, when used in connection with life (zōe) for the righteous, mean constant, abiding, eternal, measureless. It involves unbounded existence and duration in the world to come. But when used of the continuance (or more accurately of the consuming) of the wicked, who are to be destroyed, it is transitory, and comes to an end. Everything consequently and consistently depends upon the nature and destiny of the substantive that it modifies. That is the golden rule of interpretation of these terms. It is perpetuity within limits—the duration being determined by the person, or thing, or condition to which it is attached.
        Thus with the fate of the wicked. It is until their destruction is accomplished—not a process going on forever. The "fire" that shall not be “quenched” does not mean that it shall not ultimately cease. The fire that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah was “unquenchable” (no one could put it out), but it finally ceased burning. But this was not until its objective was accomplished. (This is discussed under “destruction,” and “punishment.”
        2. Two Determinative Principles Re “Aiōnios”—All are aware that aiōn and aiōnios have been the subject of avid dispute among proponents and opponents of the Innate-Immortality postulate. The issue has been: Do these terms mean endless or age enduring, or both, upon occasion? Two things need to be noted at the outset:
        (1) Aiōnios is constantly predicated of the new supernatural life, received through regeneration by the Spirit of God. But, in contrast with this, aiōnios is never, in any of its forms, used in Scripture of the old, or natural, life of man. Furthermore, (2) it is never, anywhere throughout the entire Word of God, predicated of a continuing death as the penalty of sin. When used of death, it means a period of limited duration. These principles are determinative.
        The terms “eternal death” and “everlasting death” are consequently not found in the Bible. Life may be brief, or long—or endless if it pleases God to perpetuate it—but death is a finality in itself, and needs no qualifying epithet. And that is the doom denounced upon sinners—“Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (James 1:15; cf. Rom. 6:23). This is the “second death,” which follows the judgment of the wicked. From this there is no resurrection. But of the new life, the spiritual life, the divine life, upon which the people of God enter, and of which the epithet aiōnios is predicated, and no other, is zōē aiōnios. It is without any limitation.
        3. Gehazi's “For Ever”-Leprosy Lasted until Posterity Extinct.—The master key that unlocks the meaning of any passage employing the terms aiōn or aiōnios is that they are to be taken to mean as long as the thing or person under consideration (in the light of the surrounding circumstances) can exist. Its duration is always determined by the noun to which it is attached. That simple principle will solve all problems and meet all cases.
        Take an Old Testament example: The curse of leprosy upon Gehazi (2 Kings 5:27)—that the leprosy of Naaman “shall cleave unto thee [Gehazi], and unto thy seed for ever”—simply means that it should continue as long as Gehazi and his posterity should continue to exist. In other words, until the line became extinct. Then it would cease. And, under the terms of this prophecy, it must have taken place fairly soon. It is restricted to the extent of the duration of the thing or person to which it is applied. The “for ever” of Gehazi was consequently only until his posterity became extinct.
        4. Length Governed by Noun to Which Attached.—When aiōn and aiōnios are applied to Divine Beings, or to the eternal home of the saints, or to the redeemed, immortalized saints, they then obviously denote eternal duration, or eternity of being. But as noted, when aiōn and aiōnios are applied to things that will have an end, they are correspondingly limited in meaning. Thus, when they are applied to the existence of the wicked—who will finally cease to be as the result of the “second death”—they must be limited, according to their signification.
        We must consequently conclude that the modifiers aiōn and aiōnios, with reference to the two classes—“saints” and “sinners”—mean, respectively, bliss throughout all eternity, on the one hand, for the eternally righteous, and on the other hand coming to an end forever, after a due and just period of suffering for the unrepentant and doomed sinner. The wicked are ultimately and utterly extinguished because they refused the eternal life so freely offered to them, which is nevertheless to continue throughout the ages without end for the righteous, who accepted its provisions.
         5. Body Blow to Immortal-Soul Theory.—We have already established the fact that aiōnios (“eternal” or “everlasting”) is constantly coupled with zōē in Scripture—giving the meaning of endlessness to the life. And we have stressed the point that aiōnios is never, in Scripture, joined with psuchē. It therefore follows that such terms as “immortal soul,” “never-dying soul,” and the like, though frequently used by many ecclesiastics and philosophers, are not found anywhere between the covers of Holy Writ.
        That inexorable fact is a body blow to the Immortal-Soul theory. Those who possess nothing higher than the natural psuchē-life from Adam are destined to perish, and ultimately cease to be. And inspired Bible usage counterbalances and nullifies any and all human opinions to the contrary.
        6. Restricted Use in the Apocalypse.—And observe this added point: In the Apocalypse, where the plural form eis tous aiōnas tōn aiōnon (“to the ages of the ages”) appears frequently,[1] the reference is usually to personified organizations, systems, or associations (such as “beast,” “Babylon,” “false prophet”) which must be punished, but which will not exist in the world to come.

III. Texts Exemplify Diversified Meanings of Aiōn and Aiōnios

        Before testing out these principles with a diversified group of New Testament passages, let us first establish the connection between Old Testament and New Testament usage.
        The Septuagint again constitutes the vital link between the Hebrew Old Testament ‘olam and the Greek New Testament aiōn and aiōnios, and provides a second valuable key to right understanding. In the Septuagint’s use of aiōnios, God and His attributes, kingdom, and covenant are set forth as unlimited and eternal. But earthly objects, belonging to a passing dispensation, and divine dealings not lasting beyond the continuance of the earth in its present form are always set forth as limited, or restricted, in duration.
        Thus it is with the priests’ office (Ex. 29:9), “perpetual” statutes (Lev. 3:17), the burning of Ai (Joshua 8:28), “perpetual hissing” (Jer. 18:15, 16), “perpetual desolations” (Jer. 25:12; Eze. 35:9; Zeph. 2:9), “perpetual wastes” (Jer. 49:13), et cetera. This mixed usage constitutes a reliable guide to New Testament practice.

Eighteen Dissimilar Examples Typify Differences

        Here are eighteen annotated New Testament examples of this multiple usage with the Greek original, and its literal meaning:

        Matt. 13:39—“The harvest is the end of the world [sunteleia tou aiōnos, “consummation of the age,” or aiōn].”
        Matt. 21:19—“Let no fruit grow on thee [barren fig tree] henceforward for ever [eis tōn aiōna, for the remainder of its life—not to all eternity].”
        Luke 1:70—“Which have been since the world began [tōn ap’ aiōnos, “since time began,” “from all time,” “from the age,” "from of old”].”
        Luke 20:35—“Accounted worthy to obtain that world [tou aiōnos, “that other age,” “the age to come”].”
        John 9:32—“Since the world began [ek tou aiōnos, “out of the age”] was it not. …”
        John 13:8—“Though shalt never wash my feet [eis tōn aiōna, “never while the world lasts,” “as long as I live,” “not to all eternity”].”
        Acts 15:18—“All his works from the beginning of the world [ap’ aiōnos, “from the age,” “from of old,” “eternity”].”
        Rom. 16:25—“Which was kept secret since the world began [chronois aiōniois, “through ages long past,” or “along with times eternal”].”
        1 Cor. 2:7—“Which God ordained before the world [pro tōn aiōnōn, “age or age-time,” “of indefinite duration”].”
        1 Cor. 10:11—“Upon whom the ends of the world [tōn aiōnōn, “of the ages”] are come.”
        2 Cor. 4:4—“The god of this world [tou aiōnos toutou, “of this present age”] hath blinded.”
        Gal. 1:4—“Deliver us from this present evil world [ek tou … aiōnos, “out of the present age or period”].”
        Eph. 2:7—“That in the ages to come [en tois aiōsin, “in the periods of the future”] he might shew.”
        2 Tim. 1:9—“Given us in Christ Jesus before the world began [pro chronōn aiōniōn, “before the ages of time” or “before times eternal”].”
        Titus 1:2—“Eternal life, which God … promised before the world began [pro chronōn aiōniōn, “before times eternal,” “before the commencement of the ages,” “long ages age”].”
        Heb. 1:2—“By whom [His Son] also made the worlds [tous aiōnas, “ages”].”
        Heb. 11:3—“The worlds [tous aiōnas, “ages”] were framed by the word of God.”
        Jude 25—“Be … dominion and power, both now and ever [eis pantas tous aiōnas, “to all the ages,” “before every age and now and unto all the ages”].”
        Let us now analyze the evidence, seeking out and applying the sound guiding principles disclosed by these and other passages wherein usage alone is determinative.

IV. Sound Interpretive Principles Emerge for Guidance

        The fact that the adjective aiōnios is applied to some things that are “endless” does not for a moment prove that it always means endless, for such a rendering would, in many passages, be manifestly impossible and absurd. Further, the adjective “eternal” (aiōnios) and the adverbial phrases that express eternity (such as “forever” and “forever and ever”), indicate an indeterminate duration, whereof the maximum depends upon the nature of the person or thing that it modifies.
        It is clearly infinite when predicated of God and eternal things, which are above and beyond time, or or beings who live by faith in communion and connection with Him. On the contrary, it is only relative for other beings, such as mortal man. Thus the sufferings of perishable creatures logically cannot be prolonged longer than is compatible with their perishable nature.
        The length must be inferred and determined from the context and nature of the thing or persons under consideration. For example, in Romans 16:25, 26 the mystery of the gospel, hidden in times past—“chronois aiōnios” (along with eternal times, but which have come to an end)—is placed in contrast with aiōniou Theou (“eternal God,” v. 26, R.S.V., endless and independent of all time). To hold that aiōnios in the one instance must mean the same as the other is manifestly an absurdity.
        The Old Testament equivalents of aiōn and aiōnios were applied to the Aaronic priesthood, the inheritance given to Caleb, the period of the slave's life, the burning of the fire upon the altar, the leprosy of Gehazi, et cetera.[2] One notable case in point was “the land thereof shall become burning pitch. It shall not be quenched night nor day; the smoke thereof shall go up for ever: from generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass through it for ever and ever” (Isa. 34:9, 10). And in Deuteronomy 23:3, 6 “for ever” is limited to the “tenth generation.” Such examples afford sound principles for our guidance.
        1. Vast Scope of Meaning of “Aiōn” Exhibited.—In the Authorized Version aiōn is frequently translated “world.” Later, the revisers usually rendered aiōn by “age,” at least in the margin. The Greek word for “world,” in its material framework, is, of course, kosmos, while aiōn is earth's history in the larger setting of eternity. It is finite man in a finite world, preceded and followed by the timeless eternities of past and future. God, the King of the “ages,” laid His redemptive plans before the ages began to unroll, and sent forth His Son at the appointed time to consummate His matchless plan for the redemption of humanity.
        In its backward look in depth, aiōn was a period lost in the mists of past eternity—the farthest dawn of time (Luke 1:70; John 9:32; Acts 15:18; Jude 25). But it may refer not only backward to time without beginning, but forward as well, as without end in the future. Thus we see that one group of aiōn texts tells of that which is divine and endless—God Himself (Rom. 16:26); His attributes (1 Tim. 6:16); His kingdom (2 Peter 1:11); His covenant (Heb. 13:20), et cetera.
        Another group tells of the “ages” planned by God (Rom. 16:25; 2 Tim. 1:9; Titus 1:2). A third group tells of His various acts and activities—“punishment” (Matt. 25:46); “judgment” (Mark 3:29; Heb. 6:2); “destruction” (2 Thess. 1:9); “salvation” (Heb. 5:9); “redemption” (chap. 9:12), et cetera. And there are lesser categories, but there is no conflict. Let us note a few important points.
        2. God Has Infinity; Man Does Not.—There is a common misconception that any existence beyond this life is eternal, and that anything that is indefinitely extended is infinite and endless. But infinity is an attribute of God alone. He is the “King eternal, immortal, invisible," et cetera (1 Tim. 1:17), “who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto” (chap. 6:16). Therefore, intrinsic eternity of being cannot be the attribute of any creature, or he would be equal to his Creator.
        Man does not, and cannot, possess God’s infinite attributes. Man can and does have wisdom, intelligence, power, and other attributes of free moral agents. But because of the very fact of his creation he must be dependent upon God for all that he is and has (Acts 17:28).
        God gives to man “life.” But this life is subordinate to God's own absolute, original, underived, self-existent life. God may prolong man’s life, even without end. But such life is ever conditioned on God’s will, power, and pleasure. It is contingent, and cannot be an independent life. The life everlasting, or immortality—which He has promised to all who are united to Him—is everlasting simply because such beings are in vital connection with Him. Such life is not absolute, but conditional. It is because He thus keeps them that the redeemed will be immortal.
        Again, because the wicked will live again after the first death, some jump to the conclusion that such life after death will be endlessly perpetuated. But the Scriptures solemnly assure us that the wicked dead are to be raised, judged, and destroyed with an everlasting destruction, which is the “second death” (Rev. 20:6, 14, 15; 21:8 [see also Rev. 2.11 —J. D.]).
        The present earth and sinners are not to be forever in process of destruction by the purifying fires of the last day. The new earth is to rise from its ashes (Rev. 21; 22; 2 Peter 3:10-13). And the new earth, purified from all the deformities of the curse, is to be the everlasting abode of the righteous forever. Those are the contrasts left on record for our guidance.
        3. “Aiōnios”—Eternal in Results, Not in Process.—Many illustrious scholars recognize that the meaning must be sought not in aiōnios but in the noun to which it is attached.[3] Let us apply the principle: If the noun stands for that which is essentially eternal, then the accompanying adjective (aiōnios) is properly translated eternal. But if it is applied to that which is temporal and terminable, then aiōnios simply means lasting to the natural limits of the noun. Thus the “eternal God” (Rom. 16:26, R.S.V.), “eternal Spirit” (Heb. 9:14), and “eternal kingdom of our Lord” (2 Peter 1:11, R.S.V.) are all clear and incontrovertible. Here the adjective has the meaning of endless, for the existence of Deity and His divine attributes and kingdom are without end.
        But when aiōnios modifies nouns of action, such as an “eternal judgment” (Heb. 6:2), “everlasting punishment” (Matt. 25:46), and the everlasting fires of Gehenna [see Mt 18.8–9; 25.41 —J. D.], it must be understood as lasting “forever” in the sense of everlasting results rather than an everlasting process. It is the verdict of the judgment that is immutable and stands forever—eternity of result, not of process. The same is true of “eternal redemption” (Heb. 9:12). This is not an endless process, but the eternal result of Christ's once-for-all redemptive activity for man's salvation.
        Similarly with “eternal destruction.” A thing that is not destroyed until the act of destroying comes to an end. The results of the destructive process are therefore eternal. When aiōnios modifies “punishment,” the process is not one of eternally punishing but the eternal result of a terminative process. When a criminal is hanged, electrocuted, or gassed, the process is not one of eternal hanging, electrocuting, or gassing. The criminal is deprived of life forever.
        In the case of “eternal fire” (Jude 7), the duration is determined by the nature of the fire, which burns until it consumes that upon which it is feeding, and then ceases—as with Sodom and Gomorrah, where the complete destruction of the cities is set forth as an example of the puros aiōniou which will destroy the wicked.
        4. Revelation 20:10—Example of Limited Torment.—That the terms aiōn and aiōnios often denote a limited period, and not always one of eternal duration, is apparent even from Revelation 20:10.
        “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever [eis tous aiōnas tōn aiōnon, “to the ages of the ages”].”
        The limitation in the text is explicit. The verse does not refer to all the wicked, but speaks only of the devil and the symbolic “beast” and the “false prophet.” The “lake of fire,” as the place and means of torment, is mentioned in verse 14. But there it is the declared symbol of complete and final utter destruction. “Death and hadēs” are cast into the lake of fire, after which it is recorded, “There shall be no more death” (Rev. 21:4). It comes to an end. Whatever was cast into the lake of fire, after it has wrought its destruction, no longer exists. In Revelation 20:15 is the declaration that “whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” This marks the final disposition, through destruction, of all who are not saved in the kingdom of God.[4]
        Again, Revelation 14:11 represents the duration, or period of the unrest of a special group. It, too, represents a limited period that will end. As seen elsewhere, this allusion to the smoke ascending is clearly a figure of speech, and to make that the basis of a doctrine which contradicts all the plain teaching of the Word on this question, as well as making God infinitely cruel, cannot be the proper exegesis.[5]
        5. Beware of Unscriptural Foundations and Unsound Reasoning.—The rendering of the same word (aiōnios) once by “everlasting” and the other by “eternal”—as they appear twice in the same verse—is a purely arbitrary translator variation. Note it: “And these will go away into everlasting punishment [kolasin aiōnion, “everlasting in result”]: but the righteous into life eternal [zōēn aiōnion]” (Matt. 25:46).
        But, far more important, we must beware of eisegetically reading into the word kolasis (“punishment”) a sense that it does not possess. “Punishment,” here, is the opposite of life only if that punishment be “death”—which it is. The eternal result is the same in both cases. There is no validity, for example, to Augustine's argument that if we do not make aiōnios kolasis mean endless punishing,[6] we have no assurance that the aiōnios zōē that follows means endless living—and that we thereby lose our promise of everlasting happiness.
        Such an Immortal-Soulist contention is utterly invalid. Our sure and certain hope of everlasting happiness rests on no such flimsy foundation as the disputed meaning of a Greek adjective, which is often used of things that are transitory. We have the clear, positive, and explicit foundations of God’s nonfigurative affirmations recorded for our assurance.[7] Sound doctrine is based on solid Scripture, and sound reasoning therefrom.

        1. Rev. 1:6; 4:9, 10; 5:13, 14; 7:12; 10:6; 11:15; 14:11; 15:7; 19:3; 20:10; 22:5. The difference between the K.J.V. and the R.S.V. in the number of occurrences is partly due to the critical text used for translating.
        2. Dean F. W. Farrar states that in the Septuagint, which gives a reliable Greek parallel, the Hebrew ‘olam is rendered by aiōn 439 times. And in Exodus, twelve of its fourteen usages are “of things which have passed away; in Leviticus, twenty-four times, always of things which have come to an end; and in Numbers ten times; in Deuteronomy about ten times.”—Mercy and Judgment (2d ed.), p. 378.
        3. That aiōn can mean either a finite of an infinite period—a human lifetime or an eternity of endless duration, according to the nature of the case or usage—is sustained by many standard authorities, such as Greenfield, Schrevelius, Liddell and Scott, Parkhurst, Robinson, Schleusner, Wahl, Gruden, Strong[,] Young, Bullinger, et cetera.
        4. In this Dr. R. F. Weymouth concurs:
        “The use in the N.T. of such words as ‘death,’ ‘destruction,’ ‘fire,’ ‘perish,’ to describe Future Retribution, point to the likelihood of fearful anguish, followed by extinction of being, as the doom which awaits those who by persistent rejection of the Saviour prove themselves utterly, and therefore irremediably, bad.”—The New Testament in Modern Speech (3d ed.), on Heb. 10:27, n. 1.
        5. According to Archbishop R. C. Trench (Synonyms of the New Testament, pp. 208, 209) aiōn often means the “duration of the human life.” Prof. Herman Cremer (Biblico Theological Lexicon, p. 74) likewise says “Duration of human life, as limited to a certain space of time … hence the duration of life, course of life, terms of life, life term, life in its temporal form.”
        6. As to Augustine, Dean F. W. Farrar soundly remarked that—
        “aiōn, aiōnios, and their Hebrew equivalents in all combinations, are repeatedly used of things which have come and shall come to an end. Even Augustine admits (what, indeed, no one can deny) that in Scripture aiōn, aiōnios must in many instances mean ‘having an end’; and St. Gregory of Nyssa, who at least knew Greek, uses aiōnios as the epithet of ‘an interval.’ ”—Eternal Hope (1879), excursus III, “On the Word Aiōnios,” p. 197. (Italics his.)
        7. Here are a few: Isa. 25:6-8; Hosea 13:14; Luke 20:36; 1 Cor. 15; 2 Tim. 1:10; 1 Peter 1:4; 5:4; Rev. 21:4; et cetera.

Copyright © The Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1966. All rights reserved.

20 May 2019

Adam Clarke on the Universality of the Atonement

        He died for every human soul, for all who are partakers of the same nature which he has assumed; the merit and benefits of his death must necessarily extend to all mankind, because he has assumed that nature which is common to all. Nor could the merit of his death be limited to any particular part, nation, tribe, or individuals of the vast human family. It is not the nature of a particular nation, tribe, family, or individual, which he has assumed, but the nature of the whole human race; and “God has made of one blood all the nations, for to dwell on all the face of the earth,”[1] that all those might be redeemed with “one blood;” for he is the kinsman of the whole. The merit of his death must, therefore, extend to every man, unless we can find individuals or families that have not sprung from that stock of which he became incarnated. His death must be infinitely meritorious, and extend in its benefits to all who are partakers of the same nature, because he was God manifested in the flesh; and to contract or limit that merit, that it should apply only to a few, or even to any multitudes short of the whole human race, is one of those things which is impossible to God himself, because it involves a moral contradiction. He could no more limit the merit of that death, than he could limit his own eternity, or contract that love which induced him to undertake the redemption of a lost world.
        If the many, that is, all mankind, have died through the offence of one; certainly, the gift by grace, which abounds unto the many, by Christ Jesus, must have reference to every human being.[2] If the consequences of Christ’s incarnation and death extend only to a few, or a select number of mankind, which, though they may be considered many in themselves, are few in comparison of the whole human race, then the consequences of Adam’s sin have extended only to a few, or to the same select number: and if only many and not all have fallen, only that many had need of a Redeemer. For it is most evident that the same persons are referred to in both clauses of the verse. If the apostle had believed that the benefits of the death of Christ had extended only to a select number of mankind, he never could have used the language he has done here; though, in the first clause, he might have said, without any qualification of the term, “Through the offence of one, many are dead;” in the second clause, to be consistent with the doctrine of particular redemption,[3] he must have said, “The grace of God, and the gift by grace, hath abounded unto some. As, by the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation; so, by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon some to justification. As, by one man’s disobedience, many were made sinners; so, by the obedience of one, shall some be made righteous.[4] As in Adam all die; so in Christ shall some be made alive.”[5] But neither the doctrine nor the thing ever entered the soul of this divinely inspired man.[6]
—Adam Clarke, Christian Theology (repr., Salem, OH: Convention Book Store, 1967), pp. 117–8, emphases in original

        1. Acts 17.26.
        2. See Romans 5.17–19.
        3. The doctrine of particular redemption is sometimes referred to as limited atonement, particular atonement, or definite atonement. The essence of the teaching is that Christ died with the intention of securing spiritual and eschatological salvation for a portion of humankind, not the whole. According to this view, those for whom Christ died salvationally will inevitably become partakers of salvation; those for whom he did not, will not.
        4. Contra Romans 5.17–19 (Berean Literal Bible): ‘For if, by the trespass of the one, death reigned through the one, how much more will those receiving the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one, Jesus Christ! So then, just as through one trespass, it is unto condemnation to all men, so also through one act of righteousness it is unto justification of life to all men. For as indeed through the disobedience of the one man, the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the One, the many will be made righteous.’
        5. Contra 1 Corinthians 15.22 (BLB): ‘For as indeed in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.’
        6. Namely, Paul the apostle.  —J. D. Gallé

Notes copyright © J. D. Gallé, 2019. All rights reserved.

10 May 2019

W. Robert Godfrey on the (Purported) Poor Character of Jacobus Arminius

J. D. Gallé | Friday, 10 May 2018

        The quotations that follow are taken from ‘Appendix 1: Arminius: A New Look’ in W. Robert Godfrey’s Saving the Reformation: The Pastoral Theology of the Canons of Dort (Sanford, FL: Reformation Trust, 2019), pp. 185–227:
[Jacobus Arminius] was likely a dissembler who abused the good will and efforts of the Calvinists to maintain peace with him in the church. If he never changed his theology, then was he honest with [Theodore] Beza, who gave him a letter of recommendation? Was he honest with the classis in 1588 when he was examined for ordination? Was he honest with [Franciscus] Gomarus in their conversation in 1603, which led to Gomarus’ recommending him for the appointment to teach at Leiden? Was he honest with Gomarus, [Lucas] Trelcatius, and the churches in 1605 when together the three of them assured the churches that they were united theologically? If he did change his theology in a way that contradicted the Belgic Confession, was he under no moral obligation to report this to the church?
        […] [Arminius] was a bright and creative theologian. But he had no right to reject theological views that he had pledged to uphold. (p. 226)
        Godfrey writes: ‘[Franciscus Gomarus’] supralapsarian views did greatly offend Arminius, who responded with vicious criticism of Gomarus’ teaching, which he kept private while publicly claiming agreement with Gomarus on basic doctrines. It is Arminius who seems bitter and rather dishonest in this period, not Gomarus. If the positive Arminius narrative falls apart on close examination of this one key piece of evidence, the whole narrative begins to unravel’ (p. 213).
        Godfrey also describes Arminius as an ‘innovator and troublemaker’ (p. 220).

In order to purchase Godfrey’s work, Saving the Reformation, see the following links:

08 May 2019

Thomas Fretwell’s Fallacies on Evangelical Annihilationism

J. D. Gallé | Wednesday, 8 May 2019

        Thomas Fretwell, in an article published on Creation Ministries International’s website entitled ‘Is Christianity Unbelievable? Review of a Book by Influential UK Christian Radio Show Host’ (9 Apr. 2019), under the heading ‘Eternal punishment?’, writes:
One other area where the author [Justin Brierley] says his views have been revised is his understanding of hell. Departing from the traditional view of hell as an eternal reality after death[,] Brierley explains that his present understanding “is one that theologians call ‘annihilationism’” (p. 184)—a view that basically says hell is the end of existence for the unsaved. Although he states that “there are a growing number of significant Christian leaders” who hold this view, it is a frank denial of the plain teaching of the New Testament, not least the Lord Jesus Himself ([…]). Consequently, it is still considered to be an unorthodox view in today’s Church, held only by a minority of professing evangelical leaders.[1, 2]
        There are several problems with Fretwell’s assertions and characterisations of the doctrine of annihilationism. Firstly, evangelicals who hold to the teaching of the final annihilation of the unrighteous no more deny the ‘eternal reality’ of eschatological punishment than do advocates of the conventional view of everlasting, conscious torture. Adherents of both positions maintain the everlasting, permanent, and irreversible nature of the divine verdict to be passed upon the wicked on Judgement Day.
        Secondly, it is true that evangelical proponents of annihilationism believe that the future punishment of those who are not saved will reach its climax in the termination of their existence. That is not to say, however, that the unrighteous will not suffer mentally and/or physically (in their resurrected bodies) for a period of time prior to being finally exterminated. They will certainly be conscious on the day of judgement when they are held to account for their lives and are banished from the presence of the Lord Jesus, the holy angels, and his people, into age-lasting punishment (see Mt 7.21–23; 25.41, 46).
        Thirdly, regarding the charge that annihilationism is a ‘frank denial of the plain teaching of the New Testament, not least the Lord Jesus Himself’, I beg to differ. I would invite Fretwell (and others of his opinion), if he has not already, to carefully read Edward Fudge’s monumental work, The Fire That Consumes (2011).[3] A strong biblical case for the final extinction of the wicked has already been made. It is therefore incumbent upon advocates of the conventional view of interminable torment to counter annihilationist’s actual scriptural and theological arguments.
        Fourthly, I must confess that I fail to appreciate the significance of the observation that, at present, annihilationism is a minority position within the realm of evangelicalism. This is a form of the argumentum ad populum (argument to the people) to which Fretwell is appealing. Ironically, it is precisely this form of argumentation that young-earth creationist organisations such as Creation Ministries International (rightly) frown upon when employed by opposing voices to dismiss their cosmological stance. Protestants/evangelicals who maintain a sola or prima scriptura hermeneutical view need not baulk at adopting, or considering the adoption of, the doctrine of annihilationism because of the scarcity of its proponents. As always, with regard to faith and practice, scripture must be the final authority.

        1. Fretwell’s article may be read in its entirety at <https://creation.com/unbelievable>.
        2. The book under review by Fretwell is Justin Brierley’s Unbelievable? Why, after Ten Years of Talking with Atheists, I'm Still a Christian (London, UK: SPCK, 2017).
        3. Edward William Fudge, The Fire That Consumes: A Biblical and Historical Study of the Doctrine of Final Punishment, 3rd edn (Cambridge, UK: Lutterworth Press, 2012 / Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2011).

Original content copyright © J. D. Gallé, 2019. All rights reserved.

05 May 2019

David L. Allen on the Significance of the Extent of the Atonement and Properly Differentiating the Aspects of Christ’s Redemptive Work

J. D. Gallé | Sunday, 5 May 2019

        ‘Traditional’ Southern Baptist David L. Allen has written extensively on the atonement in idem, ‘The Atonement: Limited or Universal?’, in David L. Allen and Steve W. Lemke (eds), Whosoever Will: A Biblical-Theological Critique of Five-Point Calvinism (Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2010), pp. 61–108; idem, The Extent of the Atonement: A Historical and Critical Review (Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2016); and, most recently, idem, The Atonement: A Biblical, Theological, and Historical Study of the Cross of Christ (Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2019). Allen demonstrates the importance of carefully distinguishing between the intent, extent, and application of the atonement. Allen takes the position of a universal/unlimited scope of the atonement with particular/limited application: the number for whom Christ died and the actual salvation of persons are not necessarily co-extensive (a proposition which is anathema to high Calvinists).
        In contrast with strict/high Calvinists, Arminians, non-Calvinists, and moderate (i.e. Amyraldian, four-point) Calvinists alike affirm that the extent of the atonement encompasses the whole of humankind (universal/unlimited atonement). Differences amongst these groups emerge, however, when the intent of the atonement is under consideration. As regards the application of the atonement, for those who have heard the proclamation of the good news, strict Calvinists and non-Calvinists agree that the benefits of Christ’s atonement are applied exclusively to those who respond in faith. High Calvinists are unique in their insistence that Christ did not die in a saving sense for the non-elect (‘reprobate’); rather, they believe that the scope of the atonement is restricted to a particular portion of humankind, not humankind as a whole.
        I personally am of the opinion that the question ‘For whom did Christ die?’ is worthy of serious consideration and should not be relegated to the heap of impractical, conjectural footnotes of theology (of which there surely are more than a few). See Allen’s final chapter, ‘Why Belief in Unlimited Atonement Matters’, in his Extent of the Atonement (2016), pp. 765–791, for reasons explaining why this is so.

Copyright © J. D. Gallé, 2019. All rights reserved.

(To visit David L. Allen’s official website, see the following link: <https://drdavidlallen.com>.)

05 April 2019

The Principal Point of Contention between Arminian and Calvinistic Soteriologies

J. D. Gallé | Friday, 5 April 2019

        The key difference between Arminian/non-Calvinistic and Calvinistic soteriologies is whether salvation is conditional in nature. Concerning God’s interactions or dealings with humankind, in high Calvinistic theology there is only the appearance of conditionality.
        It is true that Calvinists agree with Arminians that all people without exception are to be urged to repent and believe in the good news of Jesus Christ for salvation. However, in strict Calvinistic theology, the very ‘conditions’ for attaining deliverance from the future wrath – namely, repentance and faith – are (1) unconditionally and exclusively bestowed on those individuals whom God has pre-chosen for salvation, and (2) withheld from the rest of humankind. It is impossible, therefore, that the former group will fail to be saved (i.e. the elect), and impossible that the latter group will fail to be lost (i.e. the reprobate, non-elect).
        Such thought is at utter variance with Arminian theology, which maintains that God has not determined which specific individuals will positively respond to the grace of God proffered through the glad tidings of salvation in Jesus Christ. Consequently, any particular human being’s failure to obey the gospel cannot find its origin in an eternal, unconditional divine decree of reprobation.

Copyright © J. D. Gallé, 2019. All rights reserved.

13 March 2019

Salvational Security: A Remonstrant’s Ruminations on John 10.27–30

J. D. Gallé | Wednesday, 13 March 2019
[27] “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. [28] And I give them eternal life, and never shall they perish to the age, and never will anyone seize them out of My hand. [29] My Father who has given them to Me is greater than all, and no one is able to seize them out of the Father’s hand. [30] I and the Father are one.” (Jn 10.27–30, BLB[1])
        Believers, here identified in John’s Gospel as Christ’s sheep, are those persons hearing and following the Good Shepherd Jesus Christ, God’s only-begotten Son. The sheep of Christ are promised eschatological salvation and spiritual pasture (vv. 9, 10b). He is the virtuous shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep (vv. 11, 15, 17–18).
        Conversely, the spiritually blind leaders of the day (i.e. the Pharisees[2]) are likened by Jesus to thieves and robbers who kill and destroy (vv. 1, 8, 10a); strangers who the sheep will not listen to or follow (vv. 5, 8b); and cowardly hirelings who flee at the sight of a wolf, leaving the sheep entrusted to their care to fend for themselves (vv. 12–13).
        The Father and the Son, unified in the divine essence, are unified also in their purpose to guard believers. Those who are hearing and following Jesus Christ are safe in their hands. They cannot and will not be captured or stolen away by any external person or force: human or angelic, visible or invisible, natural or supernatural.
        But seeing, however, as spiritual safety is only to be found under the watchful care of the Good Shepherd, if one were to cease hearing and following Christ, s/he would no longer be a sheep belonging to him, and thus forfeit all of the benefits associated with being in a positive relationship with him.
        The possibility of an individual who had once been united to Christ subsequently breaching that union is not left unconsidered in the Gospel of John. Employing horticultural imagery, the Lord himself explicitly states, ‘ “If anyone does not remain in me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned” ’ (15.6, CSB[3]).

        The good news is that the hearers and followers of Jesus are his sheep, and they will assuredly never perish whilst in his hand. The danger is that we lose Christ, not Christ lose us. We need not distrust God, but ourselves! Salvational security is not to be discovered in an unknowable, hidden divine decree of unconditional election or the incapacitation of believers’ wills to forsake Christ and reclaim the world. Rather, salvational security rests ultimately upon God’s promise of redemption in Christ Jesus: ‘ “Everyone believing on Him will not be put to shame” ’ (Rom. 10.11).

        1. Berean Literal Bible (2016). Unless otherwise noted, all scriptural references in this article are taken from the Berean Literal Bible. (This translation may be accessed by utilising the following link: <https://literalbible.com>.)
        2. See John 9 (esp. v. 40). John 10 contains a discourse following the religious leaders’ denunciation and casting out of the synagogue a man who had been born visually impaired and miraculously granted sight by the Lord Jesus. (This was as a result of the religious leaders’ rejection of the Messiahship of Jesus of Nazareth [see Jn 9.22].)
        3. Christian Standard Bible (2017).

Copyright © J. D. Gallé, 2019. All rights reserved.

05 December 2018

John C. Lennox on High Calvinism’s Misconstrual of the Extent of the Atonement

        It is a serious matter to deny the plain teaching of Scripture in the interests of maintaining a theological paradigm, or to try to get round it by special pleading that Christ’s death brings some kind of non-specific temporal benefit to all, or that God has different kinds of love for the elect and non-elect. To say to people, as some do, that Christ died for them in some vague unexplained sense, rather than telling them that Christ died for their sins and that they may be saved by trusting him, is not only insulting to the intelligence, it is insulting to the message of the cross.
—John C. Lennox, Determined to Believe? The Sovereignty of God, Freedom, Faith, and Human Responsibility (Oxford, UK: Monarch Books, 2017 / Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2018), pp. 179–80

Copyright © John C. Lennox, 2017. All rights reserved.

In order to purchase a copy of Lennox’s Determined to Believe?, see the links to the following websites: