All ‘Verses’ Quoted here are from this free online Translation of the Shepherd of Hermas (in link below) unless otherwise stated:
1) Christians who backslide from the Truth – the Rejected Stones
“So then, you will know them by their fruits. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’ – Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 7:20 – 23, NASB)
“For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and THE FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES” (Hebrews 10:26 – 27, NASB)
“For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.” (Hebrews 6:4 – 6, NASB)
26:6 “And this I say not in reference to these days, that a man after denying should receive repentance; for it is impossible for him to be saved who shall now deny his Lord; but for those who denied Him long ago repentance seemeth to be possible. If a man therefore will repent, let him do so speedily before the tower is completed; but if not, he shall be destroyed by the women and put to death.” (Shepherd of Hermas)
What is meant by “no repentance is possible after death” for ‘such Christians’ described in Verses above?
To quote from the Shepherd of Hermas (‘not’ my opinion – please take note):
7:3 But the others, which are near the waters and yet cannot roll into the water, wouldest thou know who are they? These are they that heard the word, and would be baptized unto the name of the Lord. Then, when they call to their remembrance the purity of the truth, they change their minds, and go back again after their evil desires.”
7:4 So she finished the explanation of the tower.
7:5 Still importunate, I asked her further, whether for all these stones that were rejected and would not fit into the building of the tower that was repentance, and they had a place in this tower. “They can repent,” she said, “but they cannot be fitted into this tower.
7:6 Yet they shall be fitted into another place much more humble, but not until they have undergone torments, and have fulfilled the days of their sins. And they shall be changed for this reason, because they participated in the Righteous Word; and then shall it befall them to be relieved from their torments, if the evil deeds, that they have done, come into their heart; but if these come not into their heart, they are not saved by reason of the hardness of their hearts.”
The Shepherd of Hermas clearly reveals that “no repentance is possible” links to them NOT being part of the ‘tower of repentance’ which describes the HIGHER INHERITANCE LOT which is ‘only for believers in faith who obey His Commands’ (1 John 2:4, John 14:15).
The Shepherd of Hermas also describes that ‘these fallen believers of faith’ —> “Yet they shall be fitted into another place much more humble, but not until they have undergone torments, and have fulfilled the days of their sins.”
The Duration of their afterlife Judgment or Punishment is ’till the last penny only and NOT forever’, comparison phrases:
“And they shall be changed for this reason, because they participated in the Righteous Word; and then shall it befall them to be relieved from their torments, if the evil deeds, that they have done, come into their heart; but if these come not into their heart, they are not saved by reason of the hardness of their hearts.” [7:6, Shepherd of Hermas] = “the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces, and assign him a place with the unbelievers. “And why do you not even on your own initiative judge what is right? “For while you are going with your opponent to appear before the magistrate, on your way there make an effort to settle with him, so that he may not drag you before the judge, and the judge turn you over to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison. “I say to you, you will not get out of there until you have paid the very last cent.” (Lord Jesus Christ in Luke 12:46, 57 – 59, NASB)
Can you see how Merciful and Just our God Really is?
Repentance now is Chiefly Around INHERITING HIS GLORIOUS KINGDOM beyond entering it only eventually (Matthew 5:19) —> to find ‘your place according to your works’ (reward vs punishment accordingly, Revelation 22:12, 2 Corinthians 5:10):
9:5 Look ye to the judgment that cometh. Ye then that have more than enough, seek out them that are hungry, while the tower is still unfinished; for after the tower is finished, ye will desire to do good, and will find no place for it.
3:2 “Listen,” said she; “the black is this world in which ye dwell;
3:3 and the fire and blood color showeth that this world must perish by blood and fire;
3:4 and the golden part are ye that has escaped from this world. For as the gold is tested by the fire and is made useful, so ye also [that dwell in it] are being tested in yourselves. Ye then that abide and pass through the fire will be purified by it. For as the old loses its dross. so Ye also shall cast away all sorrow and tribulation, and shall be purified, and shall be useful for the building of the tower.
3:5 But the white portion is the coming age, in which the elect of God shall dwell; because the elect of God shall be without spot and pure unto life eternal.
3:6 Wherefore cease not thou to speak in the ears of the saints. Ye have now the symbolism also of the tribulation which is coming in power. But if ye be willing, it shall be nought. Remember ye the things that are written beforehand.”
2) Non Christians before the Time of Christ – is there Hope for an afterlife repentance for them?
3:4 To those then that were called before these days the Lord has appointed repentance. For the Lord, being a discerner of hearts and foreknowing all things, perceived the weakness of men and the manifold wiles of the devil, how that he will be doing some mischief to the servants of God, and will deal wickedly with them.
3:5 The Lord then, being very compassionate, had pity on His handiwork, and appointed this (opportunity of) repentance, and to me was given the authority over this repentance.
3) Who are the Sheepfold2?
To quote (from an earlier write-up discussing this from link above):
The phrase “for they fell asleep in righteousness and in great purity. Only they had not this seal” together with the phrase “came to the full knowledge of the name of the Son of God” with the phrase “others that had fallen asleep before them went down dead and came up alive” ——> with the phrase “to rise up through water, that they might be made alive; for otherwise they could not enter into the kingdom of God, except they had put aside the deadness of their [former] life” —> seem to point 🤔 to “the Sheepfold2” (John 10:16) which refers to the “righteous in good works (e. g. John 5:28 – 29, Daniel 12:2) who died without believing in Christ” but believed in Him ‘after seeing Him, John 6:40 (in the afterlife too, implied in John 3:14 – 15)’ as it is Discussed in Great Detail in Posts below regarding this Mystery for Edification:
- a) Sheep and Goats – FAQ
- b) Shepherd of Hermas – FAQ and Early Church History regarding it in understanding Afterlife Judgment and Repentance
4) Goats – Is Hell or Afterlife Judgment Forever for the Wicked?
No, only ’till the last penny’ (Luke 12:46, 57 – 59 quoted earlier too as it relates to the ‘unbelievers’ as well; please note the word ‘unbelievers’ in Luke 12:46 to realize this ‘Same Context of Afterlife Judgment for both fallen believers & the wicked’):
“Woe to the wicked–it will go badly for them, for what they have done will be done to them.” (Isaiah 3:11, CSB)
Shepherd of Hermas:
2:4 “Continue therefore,” said he, “in this ministry, and complete it unto the end. For whosoever fulfill his commandments shall have life; yea such a man (shall have) great honor with the Lord. But whosoever keep not his commandments, fly from their life, and oppose him, and follow not his commandments, but deliver themselves over to death; and each one becometh guilty of his own blood. But I bid thee obey these commandments, and thou shalt have a remedy for thy sins.”
15:3 Hear,” saith he, “likewise the names of the women that wear the black garments. Of these also four are more powerful than the rest; the first is Unbelief; the second, Intemperance; the third, Disobedience; the fourth, Deceit; and their followers are called, Sadness, Wickedness, Wantonness, Irascibility, Falsehood, Folly, Slander, Hatred. The servant of God that beareth these names shall SEE the kingdom of God, but shall NOT ENTER into it.”
Please note carefully the difference highlighted by the Shepherd of Hermas in relation to the ‘black garment-wicked ones’ in regards to SEEing and ENTERing the KINGDOM of GOD in Verse above.
What does it mean? The Bible Verses below explain this:
(i) SEE His Kingdom
“Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is BORN AGAIN he cannot SEE the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3, NASB)
15:3 Hear,” saith he, “likewise the names of the women that wear the black garments. Of these also four are more powerful than the rest; the first is Unbelief; the second, Intemperance; the third, Disobedience; the fourth, Deceit; and their followers are called, Sadness, Wickedness, Wantonness, Irascibility, Falsehood, Folly, Slander, Hatred. The servant of God that beareth these names shall SEE the kingdom of God, …”
So, SEEing His Kingdom is ONLY for those being BORN AGAIN (John 3:3). The Shepherd of Hermas implies that the WICKED will SEE His Kingdom and hence MUST be BORN AGAIN too (15:3) and this is Proven Irrefutably in Verse below where being BORN AGAIN (Romans 8:20 – 21) where this aspect of the Sons of God, (His Elect – Romans 8:19) is SHARED by ALL CREATION eventually (Romans 8:22):
All Creation (Romans 8:22) —> will be BORN AGAIN (as the Greek Word in Romans 8:22 refers to ‘Birth Pangs’ Implying this, and has the Word ALL in front of ‘Creation’) —> in the Aspect of ‘liberty from Vanity or Decay, the corruption of sin’ causing ‘sin to cease to exist eventually’ as it is mentioned first in Immediate Consecutive Verses (Romans 8:20 – 21) —> where we, the ‘believers in faith’ (of ‘church’) are ‘more special’ inheriting more than just that (as the Verse earlier in Romans 8:19 describes the ‘rest of creation’ awaiting this).
“The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” – apostle John quoting John the Baptist (John 1:29, NASB)
“For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.” – apostle Paul (Romans 8:19 – 22, NASB)
When these Verses are taken ‘together’, being BORN AGAIN means that BEING FREE FROM SIN (decay, vanity) of “corruption” (sin & its effects) which applies to ALL CREATION eventually (as Romans 8:19 – 22 implies clearly with Verse 15:3 from the Shepherd of Hermas).
‘Let Scripture interpret Scripture’ – Clement of Alexandria
(ii) NOT ENTER His Kingdom
“Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he CANNOT ENTER into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5, NASB)
15:3 Hear,” saith he, “likewise the names of the women that wear the black garments. Of these also four are more powerful than the rest; the first is Unbelief; the second, Intemperance; the third, Disobedience; the fourth, Deceit; and their followers are called, Sadness, Wickedness, Wantonness, Irascibility, Falsehood, Folly, Slander, Hatred. The servant of God that beareth these names … shall NOT ENTER into it.” (Shepherd of Hermas)
“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will NOT INHERIT the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals,” – apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 6:9, NASB)
“OUTSIDE are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.” (Revelation 22:15, NASB)
The wicked being Saved from the Lake of Fire itself is Beautifully Prophesied in Verse below where both His Spirit (God) and His Bride (“believers”, Church) call out to “thirsty ones from the Lake of Fire (implied)” to partake of the “Water of Life” freely:
“The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.” (Revelation 22:17, NASB)
ONLY the CHRISTIAN RIGHTEOUS both ENTER (Acts 14:22) and INHERIT His Kingdom as KINGS and PRIESTS (Revelation 1:6, Revelation 5:10) toward those from the first resurrection, (sheepfold 1, Revelation 20:4 – 6) while the righteous from other nations (sheepfold2, Matthew 25:33, Acts 10:35, Revelation 22:12) inherit other lower positions or possessions as God Wills (Matthew 25:34).
So ‘combining’ these ‘Verses’, it’s clear that the wicked may thus drink of the river of life [after their part in the Lake of Fire first, Revelation 21:8 to make them to be BORN again as part of the Process of God Making ALL things NEW in SINLESS-NESS eventually – Revelation 21:5] but these will remain OUTSIDE the Kingdom of God (the Great City of Zion) and will NOT ENTER it as long as God Wills (the River of Life must thus flow OUTSIDE the Great City where the Wicked may ‘drink’ from it post-Judgment in the Lake of Fire):
“And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, … And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it. And there shall in NO wise ENTER into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” – apostle John’s Vision (Revelation 21:10, 25 – 27, KJV)
Please note that Lord Jesus Christ used two different phrases in John 3 as follows marking a distinction between being ‘Born again only’ vs ‘Being Born of both Water and Spirit’ as even the Shepherd of Hermas’ Writing allows us to ‘understand this Mystery’ as follows:
- a) Born Again only
“BORN AGAIN” —-> “SEE the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)
Applies to the Wicked too (as the fallen believers have the SAME Punishment as the Wicked as Luke 12:46 & Hebrews 10:26 – 27 means too):
15:3 Hear,” saith he, “likewise the names of the women that wear the black garments. … shall SEE the kingdom of God, …” (Shepherd of Hermas)
Being BORN AGAIN into this SINLESS-NESS (Romans 8:20 – 21) aspect of the Sons of God, (His Elect – Romans 8:19) is SHARED by ALL CREATION eventually (Romans 8:22).
- b) Born Again in Both Water and Spirit
“… Born of Water and the Spirit …” —-> “ENTER into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5)
This applies to His Bride first (obviously) with NO afterlife Judgment (John 5:24, Sheepfold1) and also to the ‘righteous’ who only repent in the ‘afterlife’ as the Shepherd of Hermas pointed out too (the ‘sheep of the other fold, John 10:16’, Sheepfold2) in ‘Verses’ below:
15:2 “It was necessary for them,” saith he, “to rise up through water, that they might be made alive; for otherwise they could not enter into the kingdom of God, except they had put aside the deadness of their [former] life.
15:3 So these likewise that had fallen asleep received the seal of the Son of God and entered into the kingdom of God. For before a man,” saith he, “has borne the name of [the Son of] God, he is dead; but when he has received the seal, he layeth aside his deadness, and resumeth life.
15:4 The seal then is the water: so they go down into the water dead, and they come up alive. “thus to them also this seal was preached, and they availed themselves of it that they might enter into the kingdom of God.”
15:5 “Wherefore, Sir,” say I, “did the forty stones also come up with them from the deep, though they had already received the seal?” “Because,” saith he, “these, the apostles and the teachers who preached the name of the Son of God, after they had fallen asleep in the power and faith of the Son of God, preached also to them that had fallen asleep before them, and themselves gave unto them the seal of the preaching.
15:6 Therefore they went down with them into the water, and came up again. But these went down alive [and again came up alive]; whereas the others that had fallen asleep before them went down dead and came up alive.
15:7 So by their means they were quickened into life, and came to the full knowledge of the name of the Son of God. For this cause also they came up with them, and were fitted with them into the building of the tower and were builded with them, without being shaped; for they fell asleep in righteousness and in great purity. Only they had not this seal. Thou hast then the interpretation of these things also.” “I have, Sir,” say I.”
The phrase “for they fell asleep in righteousness and in great purity. Only they had not this seal” together with the phrase “came to the full knowledge of the name of the Son of God” with the phrase “others that had fallen asleep before them went down dead and came up alive” ——> with the phrase “to rise up through water, that they might be made alive; for otherwise they could not enter into the kingdom of God, except they had put aside the deadness of their [former] life” —> seem to point 🤔 to “the Sheepfold2” (John 10:16) which refers to the “righteous in good works (e. g. John 5:28 – 29, Daniel 12:2) who died without believing in Christ” but believed in Him ‘after seeing Him, John 6:40 (in the afterlife too, implied in John 3:14 – 15).
“This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: “I WILL OPEN MY MOUTH IN PARABLES; I WILL UTTER THINGS HIDDEN SINCE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD.” (Matthew 13:35, NASB)
“Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with RIGHTEOUS judgment.” – Lord Jesus Christ (John 7:24, NASB)
P/S: For a Detailed Discussion regarding the ‘Reliability’ of the Shepherd of Hermas and its early interpretation, please consider the Post in link below for Edification:
Why is all this Important? For a Proper Exegesis because if not, we may knowingly or unknowingly DISOBEY the Verse below:
“But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation,” (2 Peter 1:20, NASB)
To whom is the Shepherd of Hermas addressed to (intended audience or readers)?
8:11 “for thou must understand first, and I charge thee, Hermas, first with these words, which I am about to speak to thee–(I charge thee to) tell all these things into the ears of the saints, that hearing them and doing them they may be purified from their wickednesses, and thyself also with them.”
5:7 “If then, when ye hear them, ye keep them and walk in them, and do them with a pure heart, ye shall receive from the Lord all things that He promised you; but if, when ye hear them, ye do not repent, but still add to your sins, ye shall receive from the Lord the opposite. All these the shepherd, the angel of repentance. commanded me to write.”
2:2 “He answered and said unto me, “I,” saith he, “preside over repentance, and I give understanding to all who repent. Nay, thinkest thou not,” saith he, “that this very act of repentance is understanding? To repent is great understanding,” saith he. “For the man that hath sinned understandeth that he hath done evil before the Lord, and the deed which he hath done entereth into his heart, and he repenteth, and doeth no more evil, but doeth good lavishly, and humbleth his own soul and putteth it to torture because it sinned. Thou seest then that repentance is great understanding.”
2:4 “Thou shalt live,” saith he, “if thou keep my commandments and walk in them and whosoever shall hear these commandments and keep them, shall live unto God.”
Can a Divorced Remarry?
Here’s a fine example regarding His Commands for the Infamous Topic of ‘can a divorced person remarry (even if he/she was not the one who committed adultery)?’
1:3 Look to it therefore. Abstain from this desire; for, where holiness dwelleth, there lawlessness ought not to enter into the heart of a righteous man.”
1:4 I say to him, “Sir, permit me to ask thee a few more questions” “Say on,” saith he. “Sir,” say I, “if a man who has a wife that is faithful in the Lord detect her in adultery, doth the husband sin in living with her?”
1:5 “So long as he is ignorant,” saith he, “he sinneth not; but if the husband know of her sin, and the wife repent not, but continue in her fornication, and her husband live with her, he makes himself responsible for her sin and an accomplice in her adultery.”
1:6 “What then, Sir,” say I, “shall the husband do, if the wife continue in this case?” “Let him divorce her,” saith he, “and let the husband abide alone: but if after divorcing his wife he shall marry another, he likewise committeth adultery.”
1:7 “If then, Sir,” say I, “after the wife is divorced, she repent and desire to return to her own husband, shall she not be received?”
1:8 “Certainly,” saith he, “if the husband receiveth her not, he sinneth and bringeth great sin upon himself; nay, one who hath sinned and repented must be received, yet not often; for there is but one repentance for the servants of God. For the sake of her repentance therefore the husband ought not to marry. This is the manner of acting enjoined on husband and wife.
1:9 Not only,” saith he, “is it adultery, if a man pollute his flesh, but whosoever doeth things like unto the heathen committeth adultery. If therefore in such deeds as these likewise a man continue and repent not, keep away from him, and live not with him. Otherwise, thou also art a partaker of his sin.
1:10 For this cause ye were enjoined to remain single, whether husband or wife; for in such cases repentance is possible.
1:11 I,” said he, “am not giving an excuse that this matter should be concluded thus, but to the end that the sinner should sin no more. But as concerning his former sin, there is One Who is able to give healing; it is He Who hath authority over all things.”
Here’s a question to ponder: What does your ‘denomination’ teach regarding this topic? Please, ‘avoid lawlessness’.
Blessed be LORD JESUS CHRIST, YHWH is SALVATION indeed!