Hell – Apostle Paul – The Whole Counsel of God
“For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God.” – apostle Paul (Acts 20:27, NASB)
Some Universalist Christians quote the Verse above to ‘seemingly prove’ that ‘since apostle Paul did not write about Hell’, then ‘there is no Hell’.
That is a premature argument which is against what that Verse actually means. Please, hear me out first in a rational way before accusing me of speaking against that Verse, thank you.
Here are the Facts:
1) Literal Interpretation
Firstly, it’s incredible that such Universalist Christians are all “literalists” when it comes to this Verse and equivalent (which is ‘good’) especially since they turn ‘non-literalists’ on other ‘factual Verses’ whenever they choose to as well.
2) Let Scripture interpret Scripture
Here’s a Verse to interpret the Verse above:
“So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.” – apostle Paul (2 Thessalonians 2:15, NASB)
Apostle Paul himself explains that “the Whole Purpose of God” (Acts 20:27) which he declared consists of two things, namely:
- a) “word of mouth” = Verbal Speech (2 Thessalonians 2:15)
- b) “letter from us” = Written New Testament Letter or Apocrypha (2 Thessalonians 2:15)
3) First Christianity – Church History
Fact: Apostle Paul may not have Written about the ‘immediate afterlife Description’ of Hell or more accurately ‘Hades as per Luke 16:19 – 31 by Lord Jesus Christ Himself’ (i.e. the ‘Judgment which awaits men after they die’, Hebrews 9:27 except believers, John 5:24) in his “letters” (epistles) but he did so by “word of mouth” or Verbally.
Claim: Apostle Paul understood ‘Hell’ (or Hades) as an Immediate Afterlife Judgment Region for some men as per the ‘Rich Man & Lazarus Description’ (Luke 16:19 – 31) upon death and preached it by “word of mouth” or “Verbal Speech”.
Proof: First Christianity —-> St. Clement of Alexandria (a favourite Christian Universalist Saint & Teacher of Origen himself) is the one who quotes that apostle Paul taught such ‘afterlife Visions of Hell’ according to the ‘Sibyline Prophecies & Equivalent’ which ‘Describe Hell or Hades as per Luke 16:19 – 31 as Literal & True’ via ‘Verbal Speech’. This is further Confirmed & Approved by St. Justin Martyr himself to be True (i.e. the afterlife Judgment Visions or Descriptions of Hades/Hell likewise as per the Sibyl or Hystaspes) where Justin Martyr is aware that the Greeks sometimes had some Truths despite their myths according to the ‘Hebrew Prophets’ in such descriptions.
Please consider, to quote (from Pages 276 & 277 from the ‘Lost Orthodoxy’ Book – link below):
SIBYL and HYSTASPES – Mystery of what actually did Hystaspes Say?
To Quote (in the Context of Christian Theology – I quote Justin Martyr and Clement of Alexandria below):
The following texts refer to Hystaspes and may thus be quoted with confidence as excerpts from the oracles of Hystaspes:
(1) Justin Martyr (ca. 150 C.E.), Apology I, 20, 1 (ed. J. K. Th. von Otto, p. 62; cf. Bidez and Cumont, II, p. 361), Greek: “And both the Sibyl and Hystaspes have said that the extermination of the corrupt will happen by fire.”
(2) Clement of Alexandria (ca. 190 C.E.), Stromata VI, 5, 1 (ed. O. Stählin, p. 453; cf. Bidez and Cumont, II, pp. 362-63), Greek, quoting an apocryphal speech by Paul: “Grasp also the Hellenic books, recognize the Sibyl more perfectly . . . , and grasp and read Hystaspes, and you will find the Son of God described much more distinctly and clearly, and how against Christ many kings will fight, hating him and those who bear his name, and his followers, and the suffering [of Christ] and his coming.”
Is Clement of Alexandria mentioning a Secret that apostle Paul tried to say in regards to Hystaspes when he writes, ‘quoting an apocryphal speech by Paul’?
Is that why Justin Martyr (knowing this) also quotes Hystaspes in a ‘Universal Salvation’ manner —-> saying, ‘extermination of the corrupt will happen by fire’ —> which refers to the extermination of the ‘corrupt’ (sin & evil) —> as even the SIBYL quoted together in the above obviously taught Universal Salvation (proving this Context Stronger), to quote:
“… for a long day will God make.
And to the pious will the almighty God
405 Imperishable grant another thing,
When they shall ask the imperishable God:
That he will suffer men from raging fire
And endless gnawing anguish to be saved;
And this will he do. For hereafter he
410 Will pluck them from the restless flame, elsewhere
Remove them, and for his own people’s sake
Send them to other and eternal life
With the immortals, in Elysian field,” (Sibyline Oracles, Book II, 297-322, p. 51)
It is clear that St. Clement of Alexandria (c. 150 – c. 215) endorses the “apocryphal speech by Paul” to refer to ‘the Sibyl & Possibly Hystaspes’ Hellish Description of the Afterlife Judgment as per the Literal Interpretation of Luke 16:19 – 31′ and St. Justin Martyr (c. 100 – c. 165) further endorses these as well likewise proving Irrefutably that First Christianity did Know & Endorse this Truth by via “word of mouth” or “verbally” (2 Thessalonians 2:15) as part of declaring the “whole purpose/counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).
P/S: The Real Problem
The Christian Univeralists who ‘deny hell’ (may God have Mercy on their error as He Wills) cannot prove that First Christianity did not believe in Hell.
Such Christian Universalists often believe in “preterism” too which is NON-EXISTENT in First Christianity where ‘preterism at its earliest could only be traced somewhere after the 15th Century’ and they fail to see their self contradicting position in quoting Acts 20:27 as follows —> Don’t you realize that apostle Paul NEVER Preached PRETERISM as part of the “whole counsel of God” whether by his epistles or by word of mouth?
To prove that apostle Paul Preached “Preterism” as part of the “whole counsel of God”, such scholars must do so by quoting his letters literally or by quoting verbal speech by early church leaders (as we did here) to ‘prove it’. If it can’t be proven, it’s just another ‘baseless modern claim’ which has no place in First Christianity.
The Prophecies of Preterism matches some aspects of the Biblical account simply because there are ‘many antichrists’ in ‘each of the last days’ within this age (and such a one during 70AD) whose ‘modus operandi’ is similar but the ‘final antichrist’ would fulfill ‘all the prophecy’ after which the Lord Will Return to establish His Millennial Reign as St. Irenaeous of Lyons and even Hippolytus of Rome as explained in pages (376 – 379) and pages (430 – 433) respectively.
This is why such ‘Christians’ deny First Christianity and often claim that ‘all the early church leaders are wrong’ & that ‘only now that they are right’ & deceive the simple:
“For the waywardness of the naive will kill them, And the complacency of fools will destroy them.” (Proverbs 1:32, NASB)
Indeed, even the Doctrine of Trinity is Likewise Established from First Christianity via the Traditions passed on by apostle Paul’s letter (e.g. 1 Timothy 3:16, Philippians 2:5 – 8) or by “word of mouth” (2 Thessalonians 2:15) too as testified by the early church leaders that ‘this is the correct meaning of such Scripture’ as described in Post Below too:
Peace to you
P/S 2: Being Banned
Some of you may notice that I am banned from some Christian Universalist groups due to preaching the above against ‘new-modern traditions they have set up’ by admins such as ‘Craig Nolin’ and ‘Justin’ which is a ‘shame’.
You don’t need to agree with me but we must respect the Freedom of Speech. Both Craig and Justin threatened me first to ‘convert to their side or be banned’ which is ridiculous as they are behaving as ‘religious extremists by doing so’.
The Irony is this: First Christianity did NOT preach what they claim but ‘Purgatorial Hell Universalism’ as per the quote below too:
“Purgatorial Universalism was the belief of some of the early church fathers such as Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and Gregory of Nyssa. It asserts that the unsaved will undergo hell, but that hell is remedial (neither everlasting nor purely retributive) according to key scriptures and that after purification or conversion all will enter Heaven.
Fourth-century Christian theologian and Bishop Diodorus of Tarsus wrote: “For the wicked there are punishments, not perpetual, however, lest the immortality prepared for them should be a disadvantage, but they are to be purified for a brief period according to the amount of malice in their works. They shall therefore suffer punishment for a short space, but immortal blessedness having no end awaits them…the penalties to be inflicted for their many and grave sins are very far surpassed by the magnitude of the mercy to be shown to them.”
May God Forgive them for their sin in this be it intentionally or unintentionally.
P/S 3: Related Quotes
- i) What is Universalism?
Professor Keith De Rose explains from a Biblical Perspective, to quote:
“What is Universalism?
I should be clear at the outset about what I’ll mean — and won’t mean — by “universalism.”
As I’ll use it, “universalism” refers to the position that eventually all human beings will be saved and will enjoy everlasting life with Christ.
This is compatible with the view that God will punish many people after death, and many universalists accept that there will be divine retribution, although some may not.
What universalism does commit one to is that such punishment won’t last forever. Universalism is also incompatible with various views according to which some will be annihilated (after or without first receiving punishment).
These views can agree with universalism in that, according to them, punishment isn’t everlasting, but they diverge from universalism in that they believe some will be denied everlasting life.
Some universalists intend their position to apply animals, and some to fallen angels or even to Satan himself, but in my hands, it will be intended to apply only to human beings. In short, then, it’s the position that every human being will, eventually at least, make it to the party.”
- ii) A Word from a Reverend
“It seems there is good reason to believe in some form of “spiritual imprisonment” or “purgatory” (temporary “hell”) for those who, upon death, have thus far chosen separation and rebellion from love and truth.
The doors are always open in this realm and God/Reality continues to seek and persuade people, through persistent love, to accept love, truth, goodness, etc.
There are likely trials and suffering (like earth but of a different type, ie of the soul, not physical) here as people “sort out” their destinies.
Also, this temporary holding place likely functions as a context for divine or karmic retribution to right the injustices committed in one’s lifetime. Eventually all beings are wooed by God’s intense and persistent love for them however.
Everyone is reunited to their Source of Being. God doesn’t give up until all are convinced.”
(“Why I am a Universalist” by Christian Rev. D.R.Deinsen, M.Div.)
- iii) William Barclay
Did William Barclay believe in Purgatorial Hell Universalism?
“I am a convinced universalist. I believe that in the end all men will be gathered into the love of God. In the early days Origen was the great name connected with universalism. I would believe with Origen that universalism is no easy thing.
Origen believed that after death there were many who would need prolonged instruction, the sternest discipline, even the severest punishment before they were fit for the presence of God. Origen did not eliminate hell; he believed that some people would have to go to heaven via hell.
He believed that even at the end of the day there would be some on whom the scars remained. He did not believe in eternal punishment, but he did see the possibility of eternal penalty. And so the choice is whether we accept God’s offer and invitation willingly, or take the long and terrible way round through ages of purification.”
Now, Who is William Barclay?
The Infamous Respected Theologian by most Universalists Christians even, to quote (from that same source above):
“Professor of Divinity and Biblical Criticism at Glasgow University and the author of many Biblical commentaries and books, including a translation of the New Testament, “Barclay New Testament,” and “The Daily Study Bible Series.”
- iv) Orthodox Hell?
“Hell exists as a final possibility, but several of the Fathers have none the less believed that in the end all will be reconciled to God.
It is heretical to say that all must be saved, for this is to deny free will; but it is legitimate to hope that all may be saved.
Until the Last Day comes, we must not despair of anyone’s salvation, but must long and pray for the reconciliation of all without exception. No one must be excluded from our loving intercession.
‘What is a merciful heart?’ asked Isaac the Syrian. ‘It is a heart that burns with love for the whole of creation, for men, for the birds, for the beasts, for the demons, for all creatures.’
Gregory of Nyssa said that Christians may legitimately hope even for the redemption of the Devil.”
Source: Kallistos Ware, Orthodox Church (1993)