Soul & Spirit

ETERNAL VERSUS TEMPORAL

  1. The " outward man" referred to in the first paragraph under "2." above, is said to be "temporal," whereas the "inward man" is not, but is "eternal." Note the following:

"Wherefore we faint not [at the risk and prospect of death]; but though our outward man is decaying, yet our inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is for the moment, worketh for us more and more exceedingly an eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. For we know that if our earthly house of our tabernacle [New King James Version, our earthly house this tent] be dissolved [as a result of death], we have a building from God [to supersede the earthly house], a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For verily in this we groan, longing to be clothed upon with our habitation which is from heaven: if so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For indeed we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened; not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be clothed upon, that what is mortal [subject to death or dissolution] may be swallowed up of life…. [moreover] whilst we are at home in the [earthly] body. We are absent from the Lord,… and are willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be at home with the Lord" (2 Corinthians 4:16-5:8).

  (Note: It would seem from vs. 9-10 that follow the foregoing text, that Paul expected the joint blessedness of (a) being "clothed upon" with his "habitation from heaven," which would be "eternal." And (b) "be[ing] at home with the Lord." To be after, not prior to, his appearing "before the judgment seat of Christ" – which will be at the Lord’s "appearing" – that is, at his coming again [see 2 Timothy 4:1,8].)

  (Note: The words translated "house," "building," and "habitation," all reference to a place of abode without reference to the type of structure of kinds of material composing it, while "tabernacle’ was usually either a temporary or portable structure, as a tent made of cloth and/or skins or a booth made of branches or twigs braided together, and are therefore used interchangeably and synonymously in some instances. Our language, however, does not have an idiom by which we speak of putting on either a house or a tent and being clothed with it.)

  2. It needs to be observed that the unclothed human soul (or spirit) – notwithstanding a retention of its faculties, and for the righteous its state may be preferable to suffering in the flesh – (a) is not the entire human being, and (b) Paul’s anticipation for eternity was not for his "inward man" to be "unclothed" or "naked." Rather, it was to have a better "clothing" or "habitation" – a better "outward man" than the earthly one, in which we "groan."

Moreover, the unclothed condition after physical death is not permanent, but intermediate between death and bodily resurrection, and is experienced in what is referred to in the New Testament as Hades, which literally means "unseen." That word is translated in the King James Version as "hell" (English word likewise literally means "unseen"), but left untranslated in the American Standard Version. It occurs 10 times, in Matthew 11:23; 16:18; Luke 10:15; 16:23; Acts 2:27,31; Revelation 1:18; 6:8; 20:13,14. Both the righteous and the unrighteous go to Hades upon death, with each receiving a foretaste of what his destiny will be after the resurrection and final judgment, as will become evident from the considerations that follow.

  a. Hades is to be distinguished from two other Greek words translated "hell" in the New Testament – one of which is gehenna, and occurs 12 times – in Matthew 5:22,29,30; 10:28; 19:9; 23:15,33; Mark 9:43,45,47; Luke 12:5; James 3:6. Gehenna refers to the lake of fire, the eternal destiny of the wicked, and is translated "hell" by nearly all, if not all, English versions (because it, too, is unseen by mortal eyes).

  The other Greek word from which Hades is likewise to be distinguished at least partially, is tartarus, occurring in 2 Peter 2:4 and translated "hell," but seemingly referring to an intermediate place of punishment for the wicked (cf. 2 Peter 2:4,9), answerable to the part of Hades where the rich man was, in Jesus’ account of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). The rich man was suffering "torment," and was separated by a "great gulf" (chasma, chasm) from Lazarus, who was an honored guest in the bosom of righteous Abraham, and "comforted" – evidently in another part of Hades. For Jesus, whose soul was in Hades between his death and resurrection (see Acts 2:27, 31), when on the cross and speaking to the penitent thief also being crucified, said "Today shalt thou be with me in Paradise" (Luke 23:43) – evidently the place of the righteous in Hades, where Abraham and Lazarus were, while not yet raised from the dead (see Luke 16:30-31).

  (When the general resurrection and judgment occur [Revelation 20:11-15], death (physical death) and Hades will be, as it were, "cast into the lake of fire" [v. 14]) – never more to be experienced either by righteous in heaven or the unrighteous in hell (Gehenna – a blessing for the righteous, but not for the unrighteous.)

  b. The passage from 2 Corinthians 4:16-5:8 that we have discussed is somewhat reminiscent of and supplements, the great resurrection chapter of 1 Corinthians 15. Beginning with [v. 35 of the latter, we learn that the same life (spirit) that was in the body that dies will be in the body that is raised, which is superior to, a replacement of, and in some sense a continuum of the earthly body. This justifies standing before the judgment seat of Christ when he returns at the end of history, and receiving for the deeds done in the earthly body (2 Corinthians 5:10), with both soul and resurrection body experiencing the same destiny in eternity (cf. Matthew 10:28). The resurrection body of the unrighteous, while not sharing in the glory of the resurrection body of the righteous, will be "eternal" even if not described as "immortal" (as will be noted again later).

  Also, in vs. 51-55 of 1 Corinthians 15 we read: "We shall not all sleep [the sleep of death], but we [who are alive when resurrection day comes] shall be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible [not subject to dissolution], and we shall be changed. For this corruptible [body] must put on incorruption, and this mortal [body] must put on immortality [deathlessness]. But when this corruptible [body] shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal [body] shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy victory? O death where is thy sting?"

  Note: The King James Version has: "O death (thanatos), where is thy sting? O grave (hades), where is thy victory?" This is due to use of different Greek manuscripts. But the Greek word hades used by them was not also properly used of the grave, as was. Its closest Hebrew equivalent, Sheol, occurring in the Hebrew text of Hosea 13:14, to which 1 Corinthians 15:55 is an allusion but not an exact equivalent, and where even "Sheol" did not necessarily refer to above grave. So that part of the King James translation referred to above is not precisely accurate. (See, for example, W. A. Vine, Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, on "Hades.")

  In all other passages where the King James Version has "grave" as a noun, the Greek words are mnema (I time, with alternate renderings of "sepulchre," 4 times, and "tomb," 2 times), and its kindred term mnemeion (8 times, with alternate renderings of ‘sepulchre," 29 times, and "tomb," 5 times).

  c. The persons contemplated in the forecited passages are the righteous. But the unrighteous as well as the righteous will be raised – " a resurrection both of the just and the unjust" (Acts 24:15) – but to different eternal destinies. Said Jesus: "The hour cometh in which all that are in the tombs shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment [King James Version, damnation]" (John 5:28-29). Jesus again: "And these shall go away into eternal punishment; but the righteous unto eternal life" (Matthew 25: 46).

d. The "life" of the righteous and the "punishment" of the unrighteous are the same duration – namely "eternity." That means that both have an eternal conscious existence, notwithstanding the punishment of the wicked is described as "destruction." Jesus said "And be not afraid of them that kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul [which shows that the soul survives the death of the body]: but rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell [in gehenna]" (Matthew 10:28) – that is, after the resurrection and final judgment. But "destruction" and "annihilation" are not necessarily equivalent.

e. Job is represented as having said, "He hath destroyed me on every side. And I am gone" (Job 19:10, King James Version). Yet neither his existence nor his consciousness was annihilated. He had been deprived of his property, his children, and his health, so that his lot was one of exceeding sorrow and constant suffering. Deprivation and misery will likewise constitute the "destruction" of the wicked in eternity. At the "revelation of our Lord from heaven … [the disobedient] shall suffer punishment, even eternal destruction from the face of the Lord and from the glory of his might" (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9) – eternal separation from God and all that would make conscious existence blissful. That separation is called death – the ultimate as to death and, in contrast with physical death, is called "the second death" in Revelation 1:11; 20:6,14 – "in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone" (21:8) – "the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matthew 25:41).

In everything called death, a separation is involved. Not only is the body apart from the spirit called dead (James 2:26), but the "Prodigal Son," while estranged from his father, was described by him as "dead" and "lost" but after reconciliation as being "alive again" and "found" (Luke 15:24). Likewise, "she that giveth herself to pleasure is [said to be] dead while she liveth" (I Timothy5:6) –that is, alive physically but dead spiritually, because estranged from God on account of mindset and conduct. And all such are said to be "dead through your trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1). But as long as we are alive physically, and thus in a state of probation, we can yet be "made alive together with Christ" by the grace of God (vs. 1-6), if we will, so that "the second death," which is eternal, is not inevitable.

g. The eternal existence of the wicked after physical death is never called "life," but "death" ("the second death"). Consequently it is never referred to as "immortality." The latter has reference to a state of "incorruption" (aphtharsian) of the redeemed bodies of the saints, and not of being subject to death (aphtharsian) on the part of God (Deity) and the bodies of the saints in eternal glory. Christ "abolished death, and brought life and immortality [aphtharsian, incorruption, for the righteous] to light through the gospel" (2 Timothy 1:10). And in the judgment there will be rendered "to them that by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and incorruption [King James Version, immortality], eternal life" (Romans 2:5-7). Such will be rendered by him "who only hath immortality [athanasian, undyingness]" (1 Timothy 6:16) – that is, by him who alone possesses it innately.

We close with attention to an impressive passage from Romans 8:18-23, in which "creation" is personified and represented as hoping to share in the future glory of the "sons of God" – which passage reads as follows:

"For I reckon that the suffering of the present time are not worthy to be compared with glory which shall be revealed to usward. For the earnest expectation of the CREATION waiteth for the revealing of the SONS OF GOD. For CREATION was subject to vanity, not of its own will, but by reason of him who subjected it, in hope, that the CREATION itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption unto the liberty of the glory of the CHILDREN OF GOD. For we know that the whole CREATION groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only so, but OURSELVES also, who have the firstfruits of the spirit, even WE groan within OURESLVES, waiting for OUR adoption, to wit, the redemption of OUR BODY [which will evidently be on resurrection day]."

We quote also the following comments of McGarvey and Pendleton on the foregoing:

"Though the life in the spirit [that is, life directed by the teaching of the Holy Spirit] may involve us in sufferings, yet we are encouraged to bear them for the sufferings are merely for the present time, and insignificant when compared with the glory toward which they lead, which shall be revealed in us, and upon us, at the time of our resurrection. And this glory must indeed be as large as we imagine, for even creation itself waits in eager expectancy for this coming day, when the redeemed in Christ shall be revealed and manifested before all to be the children of God. There is much argument about what Paul means by ‘creation.’ From the context, we take it that he means the earth and all the life upon it except humanity.

"And creation thus waits; for at and by reason of the fall of man, it became subject to frailty; i.e., it also fell from its original design and purpose, and became abortive, diminutive, imperfect, and subject to premature decay. And this it did not do of its own accord, but because the will of God ordered that it should be thus altered (Genesis 3:17-18); not leaving it, however, without hope that it also should share in the redemption of the sons of God as not only to be delivered from bondage of being corruptible, to which God subjected it, but also to be transferred to the liberty which results from or accompanies the revelation of glorification of the sons of God. And this hopeful waiting is evident, for we Christians know that God designs to make all things new (2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1,5), and also that the whole creation so shares man’s deterioration and degradation that with him it groans, and has, as it were, the pains of childbirth, even to this hour. The figure of childbirth is appropriate, since nature wishes to reproduce itself in a new, flesh and better form, corresponding to that which she had before the fall of man." (J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton, Thessalonians, Corinthians, Galatians and Romans, 1916, pp.262-263.)

Whatever all that means, its complete fulfillment must be in the "new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness" – after the destruction and passing of the present earth and its surrounding heavens, and their being superseded by " a new heaven and a new earth" (as per 2 Peter 3:10-13; Rev. 20:11; 21:1-22:5).