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Did Jesus Mean that Literally? Rewards and Punishments in the Afterlife

I return now to my thread dealing with the teachings about the afterlife in the New Testament.  One question that can naturally be asked is whether what is said about the afterlife in this, that, or the other passage is meant to be taken literally.    For example, I have discussed the famous passage of the “Sheep and the Goats” in Matthew 25, where the Son of Man at the end of history sits on his throne and divides the nations (or gentiles?) into two groups as a shepherd would separate his sheep and goats.  The sheep are given eternal life and the goats are forced to go to eternal punishment.

But isn’t this all symbolic?  After all, people are said to be farm animals, when in fact people are human.  So isn’t the whole thing symbolic?  Isn’t it, for example, a kind of parable?

I may change my mind on the matter, but my sense at this stage of my thinking is that the passage is not a parable.  Here I’ll give several reasons.

First …

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Were All Textual Changes Made by Scribes by 300 CE? Readers’ Mailbag November 5, 2017
Another Translation Project: The Apocryphal Gospels

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Comments

  1. Avatar
    Tony  November 3, 2017

    Norman Petersen in the “The Composition of Mark” identifies the use of complex ring compositions in chapters 4 to 8. That makes Mark’s section look more like a fabricated myth – and not history. Others have identified Mark’s 4:35 – 41 as based on Moses’ exploits as in Exodus 13-17.

    Bart, do you have any thoughts on those interpretations?

    • Bart
      Bart  November 5, 2017

      I think it’s very important to separate the question of whether an author has presented his material in a creative way and the question of whether he has created the material. That is to say, I could present the life of a modern millionaire in a “rags to riches” kind of tale that I made up; but that doesn’t mean that I made the millionaire up.

      • Avatar
        Tony  November 5, 2017

        Good example! That’s why Horatio Alger’s novels are myths. Completely made up! Alger’s novels have no basis in reality. Yet many young Americans wanted desperately to believe.

        If we really need proof of Jesus’ historicity we’d have to look at other sources. Paul for example. No luck with him, he only talks about visions of a Jesus who has never been on earth.

        • Pattycake1974
          Pattycake1974  November 7, 2017

          I think Paul gives this false impression for knowing very little about Jesus. His writing style is one of the issues.

          I was stuck on “rulers of this age” for the longest time. I was so focused on that isolated phrase, I missed everything else surrounding it. The chapter starts out talking about wise people, teachers of the law, philosophers of this age, and wisdom of the world. He goes on to compare God’s power and wisdom with human strength and human wisdom. Wisdom is set by human standards and he repeats human wisdom several times before he says, “We…speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing…we declare God’s wisdom…None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”

          Under the section of “Scribes” on Bible.org, “scribes were also philosophers, sophists, councilors, and teachers.” In Josephus and rabbinic literature, some scribes held positions of authority and were rulers. Basically, when Paul describes rulers, he’s lumping them in with teachers of the law, philosophers of this age, and people who were considered wise. He said God’s wisdom was a mystery, but the rulers didn’t get it, so they ended up killing Jesus. The rulers, in this age he’s living in, are perishing and coming to nothing.

          There’s no hint of anything happening in a heavenly realm with demons. It’s all about human wisdom that is contrary to God’s wisdom. When Paul describes demons in 1 Corinthians, he uses the word for demons–daimoniois. Unless the Jewish leaders found Jacob’s ladder, Jesus was crucified on earth.

          • Avatar
            Tony  November 7, 2017

            I’ve never heard Paul’s “rulers of this age” explained that way. But I’m not surprised. That phrase is a bombshell. It destroys all religious and historicists arguments that Paul writes about the Jesus of Nazareth of the gospels. Religious and historical scholars will turn themselves into pretzels explaining it away.

            The term means spiritual demonic – and not human powers.
            The context of Paul’s letters support it as well:
            -Paul’s Jesus has never been on earth. His Jesus is to come only – he never comes again or returns;
            -Paul knows nothing about an earthly Jesus ministry and disciples;
            -On his visit to Jerusalem Paul visits Cephas (Peter) and others and says about his Lord Christ Jesus – presumably crucified there a couple of decades ago …. absolutely nothing;
            -Paul writes about real earthly rulers in Romans 13. According to Paul earthly rulers are God’s agents on earth, and have no relation to the ignorant entities who are doomed to perish in 1Cor 2:8;
            -We have the smoking gun in the Ascension of Isaiah. It describes the source of Paul’s mystery religion, including the killing and crucifixion of the Son of God by ignorant demons in the firmament, who will perish.

  2. Telling
    Telling  November 3, 2017

    Bart,

    The great divide between historical study and Church dogma overlaps in an area called “metaphysics”, a discipline encapsulating the physical world and what lies beyond. Unlike theology, metaphysics is not rooted in shared beliefs and interpretations, it has to do with reality at deeper than physical levels, and is a good tool for understanding theology without need for religious “faith”.

    Metaphysics requires a starting point different than historians. All that exists is “mind”. The physical world is every bit as much a mass hallucination as is any other experience. The world is made of consciousness.

    As to the Son of man and the sheep and goats story that happens at the end of times, there are surely numerous ways to interpret it. In metaphysics, the story is not important, for stories are creations of the mind, whether true or fiction, and whether played out in the imagination, in dreams, or in full-blown physical space.

    I interpret the sheep and goats story as Jesus (who I agree probably said it) saying that the world itself (the Son of man) will judge us. Those who treasured life will be put with the sheep, those seeking personal enrichment at expense of others will be judged by the world, which is “us”. Eternal paradise and eternal damnation are eternal states that we ourselves enter and leave at various times, never actually stuck or exalted in one place for eternity. We do get a taste of this, entering and exiting such states in this life, sometimes feeling really great, other times great mental agony, depending on our personal and collective thoughts and actions, but consciously seeming to be without cause. With a metaphysical grounding, Luke 17:21 has a more vibrant meaning: “… the kingdom of God is in your midst.”

    When we try to decipher spiritual information from a root belief that physical matter creates the mind, we’ll not find our answer.

    I hope this information — I’ve studied metaphysics over more than 40 years — may be of some use to you in your dealings with both theologians and atheists.

    • DestinationReign
      DestinationReign  November 6, 2017

      Telling,
      Very nice post! People tend to impulsively and hastily object when hearing the term metaphysics/metaphysical, but in fact it basically just entails the notion that tangibility and concreteness REPRESENT a higher form of existence. To acknowledge that Jesus’ parables convey deeper spiritual Truth is to acknowledge the reality of metaphysics; this, regardless of whether or not one accepts the “metaphysics/metaphysical” terminology.

      Astounding insights are opened up when de-emphasizing the literality and historicity of Scripture. “Literality”and “historicity” (both ultimately UNPROVABLE) keeps Scripture dead and buried in the “past.” But to see and embrace what Scripture is revealing in a living and active way, NOW, is to bring it to life!

      • Telling
        Telling  November 6, 2017

        Destination Reign,

        Very true, and long forgotten is, the Bible is a metaphysical book. Little wonder of the difficulty trying to figure out a metaphysical book while declaring metaphysics to be demonic and kooky.

        • DestinationReign
          DestinationReign  November 7, 2017

          Telling,
          Yes, and a helpful “aspect ratio” of metaphysics and historicity regarding the Bible is 70/30. (Of course this isn’t scientific, but generally helpful.) There is some benefit (30) to putting forth a historical application of Scripture, but more emphasis (70) should be placed on its symbolisms and higher meanings. It can also be conveyed as applying a “quasi-historical” approach to the Bible. It’s narratives MAY be based on true historical events, but they CERTAINLY contain higher truths beyond the literal that transcend time.

          • Telling
            Telling  November 12, 2017

            DestinationReign,

            Metaphysics is not just symbolism, it suggests a different root, the physical world IS symbolism. As in dreams, our minds convert internal reality into images and sounds and others of the five physical senses to a recognizable and coherent form. Philosophers of old have suggested this, evidence being the sameness between lucid dreaming and our waking world. There is no sun, moon, stars, and light inside our heads, yet we may experience all this in a very real way when we dream.

            Without considering this basic premise, that all the world is a mental construct, mankind stays hopelessly lost.

            From a metaphysical viewpoint, there are no miracles. Anything that can happen in a dream can happen in the waking world. What we call miracles are things that don’t ordinarily happen in waking. Can a man lose his teeth and grow in a new set? This would be a miracle. But every child does just that, replacing his “baby teeth” for his adult teeth. If when we cut our finger we could expect that it would never heal or would take a long time to heal, then seeing it heal in a week or two would be a miracle.

            Bart has stripped out the purported miracles of Jesus, and Jesus can only become an ordinary man. But the “Master” traditionally holds the finer energy that transcends our lower energy. This is not unusual in Eastern religions, it is something serious practitioners know; the higher energies coming available to those who responsibly seek such.

            If the Church taught that every word of the Bible is the unerring word of God, we can equally credit the Church for warning the flock to stay away from mysticism and destroy every supporting manuscript.

            As to what is true, and what isn’t true, the answer is: wisdom-knowledge is true, all else is myth.

        • DestinationReign
          DestinationReign  November 13, 2017

          Telling,
          The points you make remind me greatly of a passage from the Gospel of Thomas:

          Jesus said, “If the flesh came into being because of spirit, that is a marvel, but if spirit came into being because of the body, that is a marvel of marvels. Yet I marvel at how this great wealth has come to dwell in this poverty.”

          When you consider that our truest essence is divine, from the Divine Source, it is a remarkable bit of cosmic trickery (SELF-trickery?) that we are presently confined to this state of solidity and “time.” And “death.” And suffering, and doing without, and so on.

          The symbolism of Christ resurrecting from the tomb pertains to us awakening to our own divine essence and escaping this matrix. The etymological relations between “tomb” and “womb” are obvious, and the most accurate definition for “matrix” is “womb.” The Christ story (overcoming death), whether literal or not, is the blueprint for us to return to our divine state of being. It cannot be done apart from the awakening of Christ within. And in order for THAT to happen, the idea of an external Jesus must be put to death.

          So, we can see that a major aspect of this illusion is the unnecessary emphasis on the historicity and literality of Scripture. Such a focus deprives a higher understanding of what it is truly saying. The 3D construct must first be transcended in our own understanding.

  3. Avatar
    Tony  November 3, 2017

    There are other explanations for Q, M and L:

    Q; the source shared by Matthew and Luke for their material not found in Mark is called Matthew.

    The sources for M and L are the fertile imaginations of Matthew and Luke respectively.

    Maybe I should write a book….

    • Bart
      Bart  November 5, 2017

      I’m afraid that book’s been written. 🙂

      • Telling
        Telling  November 5, 2017

        I’m wondering how historians determine that Mark was written before Luke and Matthew.

        I’ve learned that historians place the Daniel Old Testament prophesies at precisely 164 BC because it is at that exact year in history where the prophesies change from 100% accurate to wildly wrong.

        I’ve also heard that the synoptic gospels were similarly decided in the same way, based on destruction of the Temple. I think Mark didn’t prophesize of the temple’s destruction and the others did.

        Would this be the only criteria or is there supporting evidence?

        • Bart
          Bart  November 6, 2017

          It is because Matthew and Luke are almost certainly dependent on Mark — that is, Mark was one of the sources for the stories in Matthew and Luke.

      • Avatar
        Tony  November 5, 2017

        Mine will be much shorter and gets to the point quicker.

  4. Pattycake1974
    Pattycake1974  November 3, 2017

    I agree, Matthew 25: 31-33 reads as though it should be taken literally. It’s interesting that Matthew chose to switch from Son of Man to King to Lord in verses 34-46.

    If Jesus believed in two Powers/two Yahwehs, then maybe he did say that the Son of Man had the power to forgive sins on earth.

    Have you heard of or read the monograph by David Mitchell called Messiah ben Joseph?

    • Bart
      Bart  November 5, 2017

      I’ve heard of it; the thesis sounds easily disprovable, and I don’t know any scholars who buy it, but I haven’t read the book.

  5. Avatar
    HawksJ  November 3, 2017

    Why would/did Jesus talk about separating gentiles into sheep and goats? Do you think he was preaching to gentiles too? I thought his message (historically) was to the chosen people of Israel, but was later adapted (mostly by Paul) to a message for all.

    • Bart
      Bart  November 5, 2017

      It would mean that his preaching had a universalist strain — he wasn’t just talking about the fate of Israel itself.

      • Avatar
        HawksJ  November 5, 2017

        Yes, but the question is, does that seem authentic to you?

        How common was such an a ‘universalist’ message for Jews from his time?

        • Bart
          Bart  November 6, 2017

          It was one of the striking features of Jewish apocalypticism; it can be found also in Paul, e.g.

  6. Avatar
    mikezamjara  November 4, 2017

    Hi Dr Ehrman, In your post you say that many scholars have argued that the explanation of the sewer parable was added? could you tell me any reference to check it, thank you.

    • Bart
      Bart  November 5, 2017

      I think you mean the sower parable :-). Any standard critical commentary will deal with the issue. You might try the one by Joel Marcus or the one by Adela Yarbro Collins.

      1
  7. Avatar
    RonaldTaska  November 4, 2017

    I am afraid that discovering the real historical Jesus is quite a challenge.

  8. Avatar
    DavidNeale  November 4, 2017

    A really interesting series of posts! Thank you. And the post about pericopes was so helpful.

    I have a (somewhat off-topic) question which might be suitable for the mailbag. In a couple of your posts about Matthew and the virgin birth, you’ve mentioned the mystery of Matthew 2:23: “He shall be called a Nazarene”. As I understand it, this passage doesn’t appear anywhere in the Hebrew Bible, unlike the other prophecies Matthew quotes, and no one is quite sure what he was quoting. Perhaps at some point (when you’ve finished this thread? or nearer Christmas since it’s a Christmas-related question?) you could summarise the major scholarly theories about this, and tell us which ones you find plausible/implausible.

  9. Avatar
    Actual_Wolfman  November 4, 2017

    Bart,

    A thought came to me after finishing this post: Would Jesus, if he were to hear how (evangelical) Christians describe the end of time, heaven and hell, etc., fall in line with that way of thinking or have those conceptions become sensationalized?

    • Bart
      Bart  November 5, 2017

      My sense is that most Christians think that when you die your soul goes to heaven or hell (if they believe in hell). They are a bit fuzzier on what it means that there will be a resurrection of the dead: they seem to affirm it in a vague way, but it’s not clear what htey actually think will happen.

  10. Avatar
    Wcooke  November 4, 2017

    So, why did the sheep get eternal life and the goats get eternal punishment? As best I can tell, back in the day sheep and goats looked much alike and were hard to distinguish based on physical appearance. With regard to behavior, however, sheep and goats were easily distinguished. Sheep were docile and submissive while goats were ornery and independent. So, does that mean Jesus thought that docile and submissive humans would get the goods, while the independent cusses would get the shaft?

    • Bart
      Bart  November 5, 2017

      It’s simply that the sheep behave compassionately toward those in need and the goats do not. Why that makes one group specifically sheep and the others specifically goats is not at all clear!

      • Avatar
        SidDhartha1953  November 5, 2017

        Maybe he’s just saying the Son of Man will be able to tell them apart as easily as a shepherd can tell sheep from goats. Also, thinking with my thumbs again, when sheep are out grazing, some goats may wander into the herd (like false believers) and have to be sorted out so they don’t gore the sheep at night.

    • Avatar
      godspell  November 6, 2017

      Sheep aren’t all that docile, since we need specially trained dogs to keep them from straying. And I’m guessing you never saw a Puck Ram? 🙂

      It’s not independence. Jesus knew people aren’t actually sheep and goats. He does believe, of course, that obedience to God’s will is key, but what is God’s will? That we treat others as we ourselves would be treated. Sheep make the better metaphor for that in this instance, but he could, as in the story of the Good Shepherd, change the metaphor up, say we’re all sheep, and the one God most rejoices over is the one that is lost and then found.

      Don’t go just by what you know about the animals in question. If it was sheep and wolves, you’d know, from more recent scientific studies that wolves are loyal to their packmates, loving parents (and of course the progenitors of the dogs who protect flocks). That doesn’t mean you’d interpret Jesus as saying loving parents and loyal friends go to hell. He’s not talking about hell here, anyway.

      The sheep, in this metaphor, are people who are not violent. Who are not greedy. Who don’t steal, cheat, murder, oppress. Who go out of their way to do kindnesses to others, even those who are not close friends and family members. Who give to the poor, shelter the oppressed, tend to the sick, visit prisoners. The people we all wish to be, and too rarely are.

      Such people obviously do have great independence of mind and spirit, much more than the average person–but they are also uniquely vulnerable in a world where the normal rules apply. They behave better, and are treated worse. Jesus sees this as injustice. Isn’t it?

      The point is not “Sheep are good and goats are bad.” That part is metaphor, don’t take it literally. Maybe he had a bad opinion of real goats, but he’s talking about humans–using the imagery to get the real lesson across, since everybody would know goats are more aggressive, on average, than sheep–and tend to be kept on poor land, whereas sheep get the best pastures.

      ‘Sheep’ need protection. ‘Goats’ can look out for themselves, and they always do. At the expense of those around them. Separate the sheep from the goats. Then the sheep will live as they’ve always lived, doing good to others, making a better world out of what is given them, under the protection of the Son of Man–a good shepherd, working for God the farmer.

      Obviously he thinks the sheep will be happier, live a better existence. But I think Matthew is imposing ideas of hellfire and torment on the goats (he knows Greek, so he knows the Greek myth of Hades). By the time Matthew is writing, many years have passed since the crucifixion, and there’s no sign of the Kingdom. So he’s reinterpreting what Jesus said, making it about the afterlife.

      Here’s what I think Jesus meant. They’ll still be alive, the goats. Still living as they’ve always lived, but no longer able to oppress and torment the sheep. In the outer darkness. Without protection. With only other goats to oppress.

      It’s a bit like those silly “Left Behind” novels except there’s no rapture. There’s a rich abundant place on earth for the good people, and those who failed to be good get the bad pasture. They will look and see what their evil behavior has gotten them, and how well those fools they once laughed at are living, and of course they’ll wail and gnash their teeth. But it’s only their behavior that has led to this. Not their race or religious beliefs.

      As to whether he believed there’d still be reproduction going on, whether everybody just lived forever in an immortal body (immortality is only a blessing if life is good, which it mainly would not be for the goats), who knows?

      It was, of course, a delusion. Jesus was wrong. God doesn’t intervene that way. It’s up to us to create the Kingdom. And sometimes we do have to separate the sheep from the goats, but since there’s some sheep and goat in most of us, that’s not so simple either.

  11. Avatar
    Apocryphile  November 5, 2017

    It’s sort of apparent to me that if Jesus was talking about an eternal reward or punishment meted out to physical bodies, this Kingdom of God at the “end of time” must be something with radically different laws of physics (i.e. a suspension of the second law of thermodynamics, or entropy – and/or a suspension of time itself) in order that no one ever dies in this new world. That is quite sufficient to make this new order of creation, well, a new order of creation, and quite unlike the material world Jesus or any of us would recognize. So to say that Jesus believed in an eternal, corporeal reward or punishment of people in this new “Kingdom of God” is no less incredible than saying he believed in an incorporeal afterlife – though he apparently wasn’t able to make that imaginative leap within his cultural context(?)

    Or am I simply too conditioned by my own modern, rational culture and Greek philosophical inheritance?

    • Bart
      Bart  November 5, 2017

      Yes, I’d say we need to be careful not to imagine that Jesus was thinking about the second law of thermodynamics!

      • Avatar
        godspell  November 5, 2017

        We also can’t assume he knew he was living on a spheroid with limited space and resources.

        Could be plenty of room out there for the goats to make what they could of life. While the sheep were safe inside the fold.

  12. Avatar
    madmargie  November 5, 2017

    I believe, if we put the very human Jesus into his own culture, we find that he often believed things (like an afterlife and a judgment ) that were common beliefs of his culture. Personally I don’t believe in an afterlife.

    • Avatar
      godspell  November 5, 2017

      Actually, many Jews of that time did not believe in an afterlife. As Bart has mentioned many times.

      Jesus was innovating within the confines of the Judaism of his era. We can’t assume that because he was raised with certain beliefs, he could not change those beliefs, adapt them to personal visions and ideas he had, from coming into contact with the Essenes, and others. Beliefs always change over time. Not always gradually. There can be periods of very rapid change.

      He certainly did believe in judgment, but judgment on the basis of what?

      On the basis of how you treat other people.

    • Avatar
      dankoh  November 6, 2017

      They may have been common beliefs but they were by no means universal. Jesus was one more participant in the ongoing and very lively debates of late Second Temple Judaism(s).

  13. tompicard
    tompicard  November 5, 2017

    Do you think Paul’s use of ‘eternal life’ to the Romans in 6:23 was meant literally?
    As both Paul and Jesus were devout first century Jews, if Paul used the term ‘eternal life’ symbolically, then wouldn’t it be a clue that Jesus (Matt 5:46) might have also?

    • Bart
      Bart  November 5, 2017

      Yes, I think he literally means eternal life.

    • talmoore
      talmoore  November 5, 2017

      Paul was specifically talking about the resurrected bodies of the righteous being incorruptible. To understand what a 1st century thinker meant by “incorruptible” you have to understand the popular cosmology of that time and place. The “heavens” (i.e. everything “up there”) were considered incorruptible, because no matter how much time passed, it always stayed the same (i.e. the look and the motion of the heavens never, ever changed [though modern astronomy has proven this to be not true]). On the other hand, everything on earth (i.e. everything “down here”) is constantly changing, with seasons, with cycles of birth and death, with uplift and erosion, with disease, aging, decay and destruction. While a building can go from brand new to decrepit within a generation, the heavens appear to always look the same. This is what the ancients meant by “corruptible” versus “incorruptible”. When Paul refered to the resurrected bodies of the righteous as “incorruptible” he was basically saying that they were not subject to the decay we normally see of earthly, mortal bodies. So, in essence, those new bodies are immortal. I know, it’s a weird concept to wrap your mind around, but once you’ve fully understood how ancient men like Paul thought, it all starts to make perfect sense (at least within their context).

      • tompicard
        tompicard  November 7, 2017

        talmoore,
        its in I Corinthians where Paul discusses corruptible/incorruptible stuff. In Romans maybe the point he was trying to make was a little different. I am certainly not sure, cause Paul is very confusing to me. [ and I am not sure how well he actually knew Jesus message] So I am always hesitant about quoting (or studying) Paul when trying to understand Jesus’ message.

        Sure there are births, aging, deaths on earth and probably not in heaven, but I don’t see that Jesus or other OT writers as equating that to mean the earthly existence is inherently corrupt.

        The question is whether ‘life’ in the context in Romans 6 ( and possibly in certain contexts of Jesus words recorded in the Gospels) mean exclusively ‘physical life’. looking just a few verses earlier in Rom 6:13
        > Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an
        > instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves
        > to God as those who have been brought from death to life;

        Paul is saying the Roman Christians have already gone from ‘death’ to ‘life’.
        I am not as confident as Bart, then that in just a few verses later v23 that Paul means physical life when he wrote
        > . . gift of God is eternal life. .

        As I read Paul’s teaching, without inferring as Dr Ehrman does that life here exactly means physical life, then i have no reason to assume the Roman christians won’t age, will no longer beget children, nor will ever die physically.

        additionally if the word ‘resurrection’ is meant ‘going form death to life’ then the Romans have ALREADY experienced resurrection. is that THE resurrection that 1st century Jews were looking forward to? Yeah i know you’d have to strip their common understanding of resurrection with its correlation to zombies. I do not know, but i don’t see why not.

        So is there a reasonable meaning for the word ‘life’ other than ‘physical life’, that makes sense in more contexts?
        I think ‘life’ (when not obviously physical life) means ‘being loved by God’. . .
        but whether ‘being loved by God’ implies living forever in heaven or in sheol, or living forever on earth or merely returning to dust at physical death I will leave to you for speculation.

        • talmoore
          talmoore  November 9, 2017

          “The question is whether ‘life’ in the context in Romans 6 ( and possibly in certain contexts of Jesus words recorded in the Gospels) mean exclusively ‘physical life’.”

          The idea of an incorporeal ‘spirit’ or ‘soul’ being ‘alive’ would have been nonsensical to a Jew like Paul. Hence why he, and most of his Jewish contemporaries, were stressing the need for a renewed body in order to have a renewed (and eternal) life. I don’t know how better to get the notion across. I guess you have to try to put yourself into the mindset of a 1st century Jew rather than a 21st century Christian to really “get it”.

          When Paul talks about someone going from “death” to “life,” what he appears to mean is that that person has gone from being a person who will eventually die (because their corruptible body will die) to a person who will never die (because they have won an incorruptible body that will never die). I think it’s really just that simple.

          • tompicard
            tompicard  November 13, 2017

            thanks for the response.

            what/who can I study to confirm your contention that referring to ‘life’ or ‘death’ of the soul (independent of the body) was nonsense to 1st century Jews like Jesus and Paul? – preferably a web link.

            However I did not exactly make that claim above. although i might have prior reading posts from you and Bart.

            Rather, I speculated that ‘life’ used here (and often in other contexts by Jesus) could be better understood as meaning ‘being loved by God’.

            and its interesting, i consider it nonsense that people even in 1st century Judea could actually believe in living immortally in their bodies. so it is really hard to figure out.

  14. tompicard
    tompicard  November 6, 2017

    are there any references in the New Testament where by ‘life’ the author meant something other than ‘life of the physical body’ ?

    • Bart
      Bart  November 6, 2017

      It’s hard to say. “Eternal life” could mean different things to different people.

  15. Avatar
    ddorner  November 6, 2017

    I’m curious if you think the sayings in Mark 9:42-48 go back to Jesus? They seem in line with the idea of a physical judgement.

    • Bart
      Bart  November 6, 2017

      I think probably the heart of it does. (Note: “Hell” as it is sometimes translated is “Gehenna” in this passage)

  16. Avatar
    therileyoffice  November 9, 2017

    Utter layman here. A little late to this post as well.
    I understand the sheep and goats in this section simply as two distinct categories of familiar animals which require herding. Makes for an easy to understand illustration. Thinking it’s not really much more than that.

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