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Tuesday, August 18, 2020

The ends of the 4 Christian hells, Part 3

File:Cornelis Cornelisz. van Haarlem - The Fall of the Titans - Google Art Project.jpg
The Fall of the Titans
An ancient Church Lady, who is a good friend of mine, read my book, Jesus and Hitler shortly after I released it. She didn't agree with the main fact of the book—the salvation of all through Christ. She said, "You should have written more about hell." I did write quite a bit about judgment, because the Scriptures have a lot to say about judgment. But hell? The Scriptures say nothing about the traditional beliefs on hell, which are still very popular (and based on mistranslated bibles, with all of their eternals and everlastings). The topic of judgment is not nearly as tantalizing as the topic of hell. "Hell" is an attention grabber, no doubt. Why do you think I've use the word hell in the titles of this series of posts?

There is a site on the www called Rethinking Hell that is operated by spouters of annihilationism (aka conditional immortality). They utilize a lot of fire-filled images to set the mood. They do "rethink hell" a little bit, in that they oppose the false traditional Christian teaching of eternal conscious torment (ECT) for unbelievers. But, when all is said and done, they offer to the world the same tiny Jesus as ECT, but on a different colored plate. Instead of eternal conscious torment for billions of unbelievers, the annihilationists offer up eternal death for the same billions. Different? Yes. Better? Hell no. Both are false doctrines proclaiming that Jesus saves only a minority fraction of humanity. What they need to do is spend their time "Rethinking Jesus," not "Hell." Stay far away from them.


Recap of Part 2 - Gehenna


In Part 2 we looked at the second Christian hell, Gehenna (Greek geenna). It is one of three, yes, three (3), different locations translated as hell in the Authorized King James Version (AKJV). The other two are sheol/hades, and today's guest, Tartarus. "I'd like you to meet my son, George, my other son, George, and my daughter, George." Yeah, right.

Gehenna is a valley just outside of Jerusalem. It has been, and will be, a location that is used as a dumping ground for the dead bodies of those who rebel against God. It will be kindled during the millennium and used by Christ as He and His earthly government rule with an iron club from Jerusalem. There will be worms. There will be fire. However, we saw that Gehenna's duration is not everlasting. The valley, with all of its putrid sights and smells, ends when the current earth is done away with just before the great white throne judgment. The new earth will have no need for Gehenna, since, after the great white throne judgment, all of the dead are held in the lake of fire/the second death during the final eon. They will be there until the victorious Christ finally annuls death and vivifies all (1 Corinthians 15:20–28).


Christian Hell #3: Tartarus


For some reason, whenever I see and hear the word Tartarus I crave a fish sandwich. I like fish sandwiches.

Anyway.

We read of Tartarus only one time in the Scriptures. The apostle Peter lays down some heavy-duty teaching in 2 Peter 2:1–9 concerning judgment (not hell),
Yet there came to be false prophets also among the people, as among you also there will be false teachers who will be smuggling in destructive sects, even disowning the Owner Who buys them, bringing on themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will be following out their wantonness, because of whom the glory of the truth will be calumniated, 3 and in greed, with suave words, they will traffic in you, whose judgment of old is not idling, and their destruction is not nodding. 4 For if God spares not sinning messengers, but thrusting them into the gloomy caverns of Tartarus, gives them up to be kept for chastening judging; 5 and spares not the ancient world, but guards Noah, an eighth, a herald of righteousness, bringing a deluge on the world of the irreverent; 6 and condemns the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, reducing them to cinders by an overthrow, having placed them as an example for those about to be irreverent: 7 and rescues the just man, Lot, harried by the behavior of the dissolute in their wantonness 8 (for the just man dwelling among them, in observing and hearing from day to day, tormented his just soul by their lawless acts), 9 the Lord is acquainted with the rescue of the devout out of trial, yet is keeping the unjust for chastening in the day of judging

Peter used a subject that was well-known in his time to get his point across—Tartarus. But he didn't use the noun Tartarus. He used the verb form—tartarōsas. The CLNT translates this one word as "thrusting them into ... Tartarus" (in yellow above). The sinning messengers were tartarused.

Peter tells us in this passage,
  • in the past there were false prophets among the people (v.1)
  • destructive false teachers will be coming in among you, even disowning Christ (v.1–3)
  • these false teachers will be judged and destroyed (v.3)
  • Peter gives us three examples of God proving that He is willing and able to judge and destroy:
  1. the sinning messengers (Greek angelon) (v.4)
  2. the flooding of the entire ancient world of Noah (v.5)
  3. Sodom and Gomorrah (v.6)
  •  The Lord is "keeping the unjust for chastening in the day of judging" (v.9) in two ways:
      1. The mortal are kept in death in hades/sheol
      2. the immortal sinning messengers are kept in Tartarus
We have many scriptural details about judgments 2 and 3 concerning Noah and Sodom. But God gives us very little concerning His dealing with the sinning messengers. (You get what you get, and you don't throw a fit.)


Jude and Peter jive on Tartarus


In Jude 4–7, he lays out some of the same truths as Peter did,
For some men slip in who long ago have been written beforehand for this judgment; irreverent, bartering the grace of our God for wantonness, and disowning our only Owner and Lord, Jesus Christ. 5 Now I am intending to remind you, you who once are aware of all, that the Lord, when saving the people out of the land of Egypt, secondly destroys those who believe not. 6 Besides, messengers who keep not their own sovereignty, but leave their own habitation, He has kept in imperceptible bonds under gloom for the judging of the great day. 7 As Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities about them in like manner to these committing ultra-prostitution, and coming away after other flesh, are lying before us, a specimen, experiencing the justice of fire eonian. (CLNT)

And these sinning messengers were visited by Christ Himself after He was vivified. 1 Peter 3:18–20,

seeing that Christ also, for our sakes, once died concerning sins, the just for the sake of the unjust, that He may be leading us to God; being put to death, indeed, in flesh, yet vivified in spirit, 19 in which, being gone to the spirits in jail also, 20 He heralds to those once stubborn, when the patience of God awaited in the days of Noah while the ark was being constructed, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were brought safely through water

Put the puzzle together


Understanding the Scriptures as a whole is like putting a puzzle together. After all the individual facts are laid out in front of us, usually from different parts of Scripture, we can then piece them together to see the fuller image. Let's lock together the details of the scriptural Tartarus.
    2 Peter 2:4
    • God didn't spare (treat leniently) the sinning messengers (Greek angelon)
    • He thrust them into Tartarus
    • There are gloomy caverns in Tartarus
    • They are kept in Tartarus for chastening judging
    Jude 6
    • The messengers kept not their own sovereignty
    • They left their own habitation
    • The Lord keeps them in imperceptible bonds under gloom
    • They are kept for the judging of the great day
    1 Peter 3:18–20
    • Christ, after being vivified, went to the spirits in jail
    • Christ heralded to those who were once stubborn

    Truths within the myth


    Without getting too deep into Greek mythology because ... mythology ... we should try to understand why Peter is using the verb tartarōsas in the God-inspired Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:16). By doing this, is he condoning every aspect of the Greek myths? No.

    Peter says in 2 Peter 1:16, "For not by following wisely made myths do we make known to you the power and presence of our Lord, Jesus Christ, but by becoming spectators of His magnificence." Peter assures us that he is getting his information firsthand from Christ, not from any myths, no matter how wisely woven they be.

    In the Greek myths there are a lot of varying details about Tartarus. There is a place called Tartarus, and there is a god called Tartarus. Titans/gods are held in Tartarus. If you're curious, you can sift through the www to find all kinds of information on Tartarus.

    We've just seen the details of the scriptural Tartarus. And Peter uses the familiarity of the well-known myth to get his point across. It's as if Peter is saying to his readers, "Hey, you've heard of the Greek myth of Tartarus. Well, the Lord is dealing with the sinning messengers like that. Let me give you a few facts about that place."

    According to the Greeks, Tartarus is a dark, deep abyss located far below hades. We can see two points of agreement here between the Scriptures and the myth. 1. The Greeks say Tartarus is dark, the Scriptures say it is gloomy. 2. The Greeks, like the Scriptures, say that hades and Tartarus are two distinct places. But, sadly, the AKJV, and other bad bible versions, translate hades and Tartarus as hell, and blurr this key distinction. This leads to false ideas about hades, Tartarus and hell. (Have you met the 3 Georges?)

    We are so used to mortality and death that it's hard for us to imagine immortality and no death. God has created mortals and immortals, thus He needs ways to deal with each kind when they've been naughty. This brings us to a third point of similarity between the myth and the Scriptures. 3. In the Greek myth, Tartarus was a type of jail for supernatural, immortal beings. This also is the teaching of the Scriptures. As we already saw, God holds mortal baddies in death until their judgment. Tartarus is the place where He holds the immortal baddies until their judgment.

    And, while we're on the subject of myths, let's be clear that Tartarus is in no way hell. Any teacher or bible translation that promotes the equation Tartarus = hell is irresponsible, and has altered God's words.


    God's prisons


    God has an elaborate prison system during the eons while sin and death are still operating. There is Tartarus. In Revelation 20:13, at the great white throne judgment, the sea, death (the first death) and hades/sheol all "give up the dead" in them. Satan will be bound in the submerged chaos for the thousand years, then released (Revelation 20:1–3; see also Revelation 9, 11:7, 17:8 and Luke 8:27–33). The lake of fire will hold both mortals and immortals—the immortals for torment, and the mortals in death (the second death) (Revelation 19:20, 20:10–15).

    Let's note that not all immortal baddies are currently in jail. Satan has not been tartarused. He is moving around doing what he was created to do—bad stuff. He is not part of the group that left their habitation. He is not a fallen angel, as Christianity teaches. And there are demons running amok. God tartarused the sinning messengers (and maybe only one particular group of sinning messengers), not Satan or demons.


    The judging of the great day


    The sinning messengers are kept in Tartarus for "chastening judging ... of the great day" (2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 6). In 2 Peter 2:4–8 Peter tells us about the sinning messengers, the flood victims, and Sodom. In verse 9 he says the Lord, "is keeping the unjust for chastening in the day of judging." Peter places all three groups in the same day of judging. Since the Scriptures are clear that the judging of the mortal baddies takes place at the great white throne, it seems that this is when the sinning messengers are also judged (Revelation 20:11–15).

    In 1 Corinthians 6:2–3, Paul tells the believers,
    Or are you not aware that the saints shall judge the world? And if the world is being judged by you, are you unworthy of the least tribunals? 3 Are you not aware that we shall be judging messengers, not to mention life's affairs? 
    The saints of God—those set apart by Him—will work with Christ in the judging of the world and the judging of messengers (Greek angelous).


    The results of the judging


    All of God's judgings are on the road to the goal. None of His judgings are the goal, despite what eternal tormentists and annihilationists teach. (Please, do not listen to those people.)

    So, what about these sinning messengers? What is their end? Let's look at some of God's goals. Colossians 1:15–20,
    [Christ Jesus] is the Image of the invisible God, Firstborn of every creature, 16 for in Him is all created, that in the heavens and that on the earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones, or lordships, or sovereignties, or authorities, all is created through Him and for Him, 17 and He is before all, and all has its cohesion in Him. 18 And He is the Head of the body, the ecclesia, Who is Sovereign, Firstborn from among the dead, that in all He may be becoming first, 19 for in Him the entire complement delights to dwell, 20 and through Him to reconcile all to Him (making peace through the blood of His cross), through Him, whether those on the earth or those in the heavens.
    And Philippians 2:9–11,
    Wherefore, also, God highly exalts [Christ], and graces Him with the name that is above every name, 10 that in the name of Jesus every knee should be bowing, celestial and terrestrial and subterranean, 11 and every tongue should be acclaiming that Jesus Christ is Lord, for the glory of God, the Father.
    And 1 Corinthians 15:20–28,
    Yet now Christ has been roused from among the dead, the Firstfruit of those who are reposing. 21 For since, in fact, through a man came death, through a Man, also, comes the resurrection of the dead. 22 For even as, in Adam, all are dying, thus also, in Christ, shall all be vivified. 23 Yet each in his own class: the Firstfruit, Christ; thereupon those who are Christ's in His presence; 24 thereafter the consummation, whenever He may be giving up the kingdom to His God and Father, whenever He should be nullifying all sovereignty and all authority and power. 25 For He must be reigning until He should be placing all His enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy is being abolished: death. 27 For He subjects all under His feet. Now whenever He may be saying that all is subject, it is evident that it is outside of Him Who subjects all to Him. 28 Now, whenever all may be subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also shall be subjected to Him Who subjects all to Him, that God may be All in all.
    These three passages are all-encompassing. Christ's victory is all-encompassing. Who, tell me, is left out? Satan has deceived those in Christianity so thoroughly that they can read these passages and still proclaim a puny Jesus who just can't get the job done, try as He might. Their Jesus is a failure.

    Believe the Scriptures, not tradition. Not the ancient Church Lady. Not those who say they believe, but believe only in another, teeny-weeny Jesus.

    Even Satan, our prickly Adversary, is included in Christ's victory. His judgment in the lake of fire is not everlasting. Revelation 20:10,
    And the Adversary who is deceiving them was cast into the lake of fire and sulphur, where the wild beast and where the false prophet are also. And they shall be tormented day and night for the eons of the eons. (CLNT)
    The words "for the eons of the eons" are nowhere near everlasting. Satan will be in the lake of fire only during the latter part of the next eon (which includes the millennium), and the new heaven and earth eon. These are the final two eons—"the eons of the eons"—the greatest eons. These are the eons when Christ reigns. It is at the consummation of these when Christ annuls death and subjects all, including Himself, to God (see 1 Corinthians 15 above). You can learn more about the eons here.


    The end of Tartarus, the 3rd Christian hell


    After the sinning messengers are taken from Tartarus to the judgment, there will be no need for the jail holding the immortals. Just as the sea, hades and the first death are done away with after they give up the dead they hold (Revelation 20:11–21:1), so will Tartarus be done away with after it is emptied.

    No one can say for sure where Tartarus is. If Tartarus is on, or in, the earth, it will be destroyed when the current earth is destroyed. If it is somewhere in the heavens, they too, will be destroyed to make room for the new, in which righteousness is dwelling (2 Peter 3:7–13).

    Bye-bye Tartarus (aka Christian hell #3)!

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