“… you will not get out till you pay the last penny. ” – Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 5:26, Luke 12:59)
St. Ambrose Explains both the Literal & Allegorical Interpretation below, to quote:
St Ambrose’s interpretation about the ‘adversary’ stated in Matthew 5:26;18:34 from Catena Aurea Commentary with Douay Rheims bible.
Ambrose: “Or our adversary is the devil, who lays his baits for sin, that he may have those his partners in punishment who were his accomplices in crime; our adversary is also every vicious practice.
Lastly, our adversary is an evil conscience which affects us both in this world, and will accuse and betray us in the next. Let us then give heed, while we are in this life’s course, that we may be delivered from every bad act as from an evil enemy.
Nay, while we are going with our adversary to the magistrate, as we are in the way, we should condemn our fault.
But who is the magistrate, but He in whose hands is all power?
But the Magistrate delivers the guilty to the Judge, that is, to Him, to whom He gives the power over the quick and dead, namely, Jesus Christ, through Whom the secrets are made manifest, and the punishment of wicked works awarded.
He delivers to the officer, and the officer casts into prison, for He says, Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into outer darkness.
And he shows that His officers are the angels, of whom he says, The angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire; but it is added, I tell you, you shall not depart thence till you have paid the very last mite.
For as they who pay money on interest do not get rid of the debt of interest before that the amount of the whole principal is paid even up to the least sum in every kind of payment, so by the compensation of love and the other acts, or by each particular kind of satisfaction the punishment of sin is cancelled.”
Allegorical = “our adversary is an evil conscience which affects us both in this world, and will accuse and betray us in the next. Let us then give heed, while we are in this life’s course, that we may be delivered from every bad act as from an evil enemy.”
Literal = “And he shows that His officers are the angels, of whom he says, The angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire; but it is added, I tell you, you shall not depart thence till you have paid the very last mite.” = ‘Hell is NOT eternal for the Wicked’ = “For as they who pay money on interest do not get rid of the debt of interest before that the amount of the whole principal is paid even up to the least sum in every kind of payment, so by the compensation of love and the other acts, or by each particular kind of satisfaction the punishment of sin is canceled.”
The ‘Cancellation of the Hell Sentence Spoken here by St. Ambrose in his own words’ (Context: “Furnace of Fire”, Gehenna or Lake of Fire) refers to “God’s Mercy” Triumphing over and ending any afterlife Judgment Sentence eventually (James 2:13) which is the Same Conclusion of Judgment as apostle Paul himself concluded as toward “All” eventually (Romans 11:32) including both the “obedient and disobedient” (Romans 11:29 – 31) as the Context of Consecutive Verses Imply Irrefutably too ‘as it is Written’.
All Glory to Lord Jesus Christ, the Most Blessed Savior of the World!
As this Gehenna or Lake of Fire Prophecy Scripture is “not” of any private interpretation (2 Peter 1:20 – Verse in Image), we stick to St. Ambrose and others who understood “the last penny Verses” (e. g. Luke 12:59, Matthew 5:26) in that way in First Christianity.
P/S 2: Other Quotes from First Christianity agreeing to this
“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 showed to them.” – St. Diodore of Tarsus, 320-394 A.D.
“And God showed great kindness to man, in this, that He did not suffer him to continue being in sin forever; but as it were, by a kind of banishement, cast him out of paradise in order that, having punishment expiated within an appointed time, and having been disciplined, he should afterwards be recalled…just as a vessel, when one being fashioned it has some flaw, is remoulded or remade that it may become new and entire; so also it happens to man by death. For he is broken up by force, that in the resurrection he may be found whole; I mean spotless, righteous and immortal.” –Theophilus of Antioch (168 A.D.)
“Wherefore also he drove him out of paradise and removed him far from the tree of life, not because He envied him the tree of life, as some dare assert, but because He pitied him and desired that he should not be immortal and the evil interminable and irremediable.” St.Iraneaus of Lyons – the first Greek father & author of the infamous treatise, “Against Heresies”.(182 A.D.)
“These, if they will, may go Christ’s way, but if not let them go their way. In another place perhaps they shall be baptized with fire, that last baptism, which is not only painful, but enduring also; which eats up, as if it were hay, all defiled matter, and consumes all vanity and vice. –Gregory of Nazianzeu, Bishop of Constantinople.” (330 to 390 A.D.) Oracles 39:19
“The Word seems to me to lay down the doctrine of the perfect obliteration of wickedness, for if God shall be in all things that are, obviously wickedness shall not be in them. For it is necessary that at some time evil should be removed utterly and entirely from the realm of being.”—St. Macrina the Blessed
“For it is evident that God will in truth be all in all when there shall be no evil in existence, when every created being is at harmony with iteself and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord; when every creature shall have been made one body.” – St. Gregory of Nyssa, 335-390
“We can set no limits to the agency of the Redeemer to redeem, to rescue, to discipline in his work, and so will he continue to operate after this life.” – St. Clement of Alexandria (the teacher of Origen & a revered saint in the eastern orthodox churches).
“Do not suppose that the soul is punished for endless eons (apeirou aionas) in Tartarus. Very properly, the soul is not punished to gratify the revenge of the divinity, but for the sake of healing. But we say that the soul is punished for an aionion period (aionios) calling its life and its allotted period of punishment, its aeon.” — Olnmpiodorus (AD 550)
“That in the world (age) to come, those who have done evil all their life long, will be made worthy of the sweetness of the Divine bounty. For never would Christ have said, “You will never get out until you have paid the last penny” unless it were possible for us to get cleansed when we paid the debt.” –Peter Chrysologus, 435
P/S 3: Is this Hope of the Gospel available to All Creation eventually (as Romans 8:19 – 22 or 1 Corinthians 15:24 – 28 points)?
Yes, to quote these ‘big names’ of Christianity regarding this:
“In the end or consummation of things, all shall be restored to their original state, and be again united in one body. We cannot be ignorant that Christ’s blood benefited the angels and those who are in hell; though we know not the manner in which it produced such effects. The apostate angels shall become such as they were created; and man, who has been cast out of paradise, shall be restored thither again. And this shall be accomplished in such a way, that all shall be united together by mutual charity, so that the members will delight in each other, and rejoice in each other’s promotion. The apostate angels, and the prince of this world, though now ungovernable, plunging themselves into the depths of sin, shall, in the end, embrace the happy dominion of Christ and His saints.” – COMMENTARY ON THE NEW TESTAMENT – St. Jerome of the Vulgate (347-420 A.D.)
Want more of devil being healed?
“Our Lord is the One who delivers man [all men], and who heals the inventor of evil himself.” — St. Gregory of Nyssa (332-398 A.D.), leading theologian of the Eastern Church
P/S 4: More of the Best Theologians from First Christianity Speaking this Same Biblical Truth?
“Stronger than all the evils in the soul is the Word, and the healing power that dwells in him, and this healing He applies, according to the will of God, to everyman. The consummation of all things is the destruction of evil…to quote Zephaniah: “My determination to gather the nations, that I am assemble the kings, to pour upon them mine indignation, even say all my fierce anger, for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy. For then will I turn to the people a pure language that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one consent”…Consider carefully the promise, that all shall call upon the Name of the Lord, and serve him with one consent.” — Origen of Alexandria (185 to 254 A.D.) He founded a school at Caesarea, and is considered by historians to be one of the great theologians and exegete of the Eastern Church.
“Mankind, being reclaimed from their sins, are to be subjected to Christ in the fullness of the dispensation instituted for the salvation of all.” -–St. Didymus the Blind
From the “Father of Church History” himself:
“The Son “breaking in pieces” His enemies is for the sake of remolding them, as a potter his own work; as Jeremiah 18;6 says: i.e., to restore them once again to their former state.” — St. Eusebius of Caesarea (265 to 340 A.D). Bishop of Caesarea
From the great Ambrose himself who converted the ‘previously heretic’, St. Augustine of Hippo:
“Our Savior has appointed two kinds of resurrection in the Apocalypse. ‘Blessed is he that hath part in the first resurrection,’ for such come to grace without the judgment. As for those who do not come to the first, but are reserved unto the second resurrection, these shall be disciplined until their appointed times, between the first and the second resurrection.” — St. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan (340-397 A.D.)
“The wicked who have committed evil the whole period of their lives shall be punished till they learn that, by continuing in sin, they only continue in misery. And when, by this means, they shall have been brought to fear God, and to regard Him with good will, they shall obtain the enjoyment of His grace.”– St. Theodore of Mopsuestia (the ‘best’ theologian from the ancient Antiochian School), 350-428
Peace to you
No Prophecy of Scripture is of any Private Interpretation
Here’s an Edifying Comment regarding 2 Peter 1:20.
It Means that an interpretation of Scripture must exist previously in history itself and not something ‘new’ claiming it to be ‘Spirit-led’.
The argument of following ‘other men’ applies likewise toward “any interpretation of Scripture” be it a ‘new Modern one’ or an ‘ancient one’.
It is obvious that it cannot be that ‘all the early church leaders’ did not know the meaning of that Verse and suddenly a modern scholar comes up with an ear tickling interpretation to suit our bias.
Indeed, Hades now, will be cast into Gehenna or the Lake of Fire later are all in the “spirit world”, hence the exegesis match here by these early church leaders quoted here is certainly matching the “spiritual with the spirit world” (1 Corinthians 2:13) as opposed to the modern fallacies of claiming everything is ‘under the sun or on earth in our temporal life now ‘, contradicting themselves.
Just because some church leaders/fathers writings contradict each other on some points, it does not mean that both of them are wrong in exegesis and that your new personal modern opinion is right.
This is a ‘common fallacy’.
Please consider more accurately without bias:
In the parts where the church fathers differ, we must carefully analyze to see which church father is offering a ‘new interpretation’ as opposed to ‘an earlier established one already communicated in agreement to other authorities in doctrine’.
If an equal opposing authority in doctrine exists saying the opposite thing, these two doctrinal positions can be debated or compared with others to decide which is true.
I usually decide from the earliest church fathers only.
For example: Please read my recent free downloadable e-book (pdf format) titled ‘Lost Orthodoxy’ at my website www.AnonymousChristian.org regarding the Writings of St. Justin Martyr and St. Irenaeous of Lyons where they may have been more misunderstood to believe in ‘eternal Hell or annihilation’ where their “own words” actually point to ‘Purgatorial Hell Universalism’ when ‘all of their writings are considered together instead of isolated misquotes’.
Either way, the claimed point holds true regardless because even if you assume that the early church leaders contradicted themselves, then the Truth of Exegesis is certainly one of these.
In other words, in cases where more than 1 opposite exegesis exists contradictingly among the early church leader’s writings, it is evident that one exegesis is right while the opposite one may be wrong accordingly.
It does not mean that none of them understood Scripture or it demands an entirely new modern opinion.
So, which interpretation among the earliest leaders is right?
That can be debatable as long as such an exegesis exists first among the earliest church writings. How do I decide?
Whose interpretation of their writings is right can be debatable, yes.
To say none of them are right, doesn’t make sense.
When two church fathers contradict each other, choose wisely.
If their surviving writings didn’t write or discuss about a verse, we may offer our new interpretation.
Please choose wisely what you believe.
God is Fair to the Literate and Illiterate
Beyond Exegesis, here’s how to fulfill the Law as the Bible Teaches:
“For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” – apostle Paul (Galatians 5:14, KJV)
How about our errors or sins?
Sins are covered whenever we “love much”, Verses:
“Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.” – apostle Peter (1 Peter 4:8, NASB)
“Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all transgressions.” (Proverbs 10:12, NASB)
“Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart,” – apostle Peter (1 Peter 1:22, NASB)
“For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” – Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 7:47, NASB)