1. Andy James Rowlands says:

    Matt, I am confused. In Revelation 19 and 20 the Beast and the false prophet were thrown into the lake of fire that burns with sulphur. Is it not right to punish the Beast and the false prophet? For what they have done. Or has it already happened? Revelation 20:7-10 maybe our time currently. Perhaps? In Matthew 25:31-46 Jesus is quoted as saying what will happen to those who do not help others. What do you think? Best wishes Andy

  2. Matt Hyam says:

    Hi Andy,

    I did not mean to suggest that Jesus would not deal severely with the demonic powers that embody evil. The beast and the false represent the powers and principalities and not individuals. They have already been defeated by the cross, not through violence. The “Lake of Fire” was a colloquial term for the Dead Sea, and is symbolic. The saying went that if something was useless, “throw it in the lake of fire” (the Dead Sea).

    Revelation was never meant to be read as a timeline or to form prophecy. In fact, it was only included within the canon on that condition. We should be very careful interpreting the rest of scripture through that lens or trying to assign times to the prophecies. Generally, the prophecies refer to many times and not just one. Babylon refers to many powers through history and not just Rome. The beast represents many systems and powers and not just one, although it is the same evil behind them.

    Matthew 25 is an interesting one. I strongly suggest that you read David Bentley Hart’s end notes in “The New Testament” because he explains it so much better than I could – look at his glossary on “aoinios” and “Gehenna”. Essentially, the word for “eternal” is “aoinios” and never meant “everlasting” either in its reference to life or punishment. The word literally means “of the age”, which refers to the age to come when Jesus returns. The word for punishment in Matt 25:46 is “kolasis” and this word does not mean punishment. According to ancient texts, “kolasis was always for hte benefit of the one receiving it, not for the satisfaction of the one administering it.” In other words, “eternal punishment” means “discipline/purification of the age”, which means something very different.

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