Jesus Taught Human Conditional Immortality

One of the arguments Traditionalists employ for holding to their view that the unredeemed are tortured forever, is that the church has always believed such. This is not true. Justin Martyr writing about 160 C.E. clearly rejects notions of human immortality both in his introduction and 5th chapter of his Dialogues.

Jesus plainly taught human extinguishment in at least two places. Mt. 10.28 explicitly affirms body and soul destruction, Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell (NIV). This certainly sounds like requisite punishment and then destruction. I say requisite since the bible is clear on the timeframe for which the person is judged: For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad (2Cor. 5.10 NIV). Though, here in 2 Corinthians it is speaking about the experience of Christians, the timescale for judgment would be the same for the lost. Therefore, the retribution would be only for bad things done while on earth in their physical bodies. Some philosophers, such as Jonathan Edwards (I count him not as a theologian but more a philosopher), makes up the idea that, in the afterlife a sinner gets worse and worse, and so is infinitely punished. Edwards is wrong, however, since the scope and scale of the judgment encompasses only what occurred in their lives while on earth. Both the righteous and wicked are recompensed proportionally to their earthly life. Neither will the saint gain more in glory eternally nor the sinner lose in perdition any more than what earth’s deeds deserve.

Also, Jesus describes the Christian’s eternal state as one of everlasting life, such as the angels, and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection (Luke 20.36 NIV). The previous verse limits this blessing only on those “worthy” (vs. 35), therefore, the unworthy will not have immortality. This passage further tells us that the angels were created with native immortality. This native immortality fits the idea of those who will suffer the everlasting torment of Rev. 14. 10-11 and Rev. 20.10. It is true that both references of Revelation involve humans who are assigned the same place as the evil angels. The difference with the wicked humans is that their durability in the flames is commensurate with their sin while they were on earth.

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