"Not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy
Spirit teacheth" (I Cor. ii. 13).
On page III of Volume I. we commenced the consideration of the subject
of eternal punishment, giving room for some quotations from the
writings of the exponents of the doctrine of eternal conscious
suffering, and adding a few words upon some texts often misquoted,
misinterpreted or misapplied in the writings and discourses of orthodox
believers. We now desire to leave the traditions of men and the
phraseology of the schools, to consider the words of God Himself upon
this great subject.
As we are all aware, the Bible is written in Hebrew and Greek, from
which the various translations have been made. It is utter folly to
bolster up arguments and doctrines by words occurring in a translation,
our only appeal and absolute authority must be the words of the
original Scriptures. We therefore propose to bring under review the
various words used in the Scriptures, seeking to explain their meaning
not merely from dictionaries or lexicons, but from the usage of the
words themselves within the bounds of the written Word.
For the sake of clearness we shall use English letters as equivalents
for the Hebrew and Greek, believing that those who desire a fuller
acquaintance with the originals will be able to discover the words
quite easily. The first word which we will consider is the word abad.
It is translated "perish" 79 times in the Old Testament (A.V.); other
renderings are as follows, "be perished," 12 times; "be ready to
perish," 4 times; "cause to perish," 3 times; "make to perish," twice;
"destroy, be destroyed, destruction," 63 times; "be lost," 8 times.
Other translations of only one or two occurrences are, "be broken;" "be
undone;" "be void of;" "fail;" "lose" and "spend."
Let us now consider some of the passages wherein this word occurs. "Ye
shall perish among the heathen" (Lev. xxvi. 38). The context speaks of
"they that are left." The word may not mean utter extinction here, but
for the purposes for which Israel were chosen and placed in their land,
they are as good as dead, perished. The next reference, however, is
quite clear in its usage of the word." They . . . went down alive into
the pit, and the earth closed upon them, and they perished from among
the congregation" (Numb. xvi. 33). This doom is spoken of by Moses in
verse 29, "If these die the common death of all men." They went down
alive into the pit, but not to live therein, for they died an uncommon
death, and thereby perished from among the congregation.
Again in Numbers xvii. 12, 13 the word "perish" is used synonymously
with dying, "Behold we die, we perish ..... shall we be consumed with
dying?" The words are used with full unequivocal meaning by Esther,
when she had dared, unbidden, to enter the presence of the king, "If I
perish, I perish" (Esther iv. 16). The perishing here is again
explained by the words of verse 11, "All the king's servants .... do
know that whosoever .... shall come unto the king into the inner court,
who is not called, there is one law of his to put him to death, except
such to whom the king shall hold out the golden sceptre, that he may
live." Esther dared the death penalty, and expressed her feelings by
the words quoted, "If I perish, I perish." The multiplication of terms
in Esther vii. 4 is striking, "For we are sold, I and my people, to be
destroyed, to be slain, and to perish. But if we had been sold for
bondmen and bondwomen, I had held my tongue." Here it is evident that
perishing is much more than the horrors of eastern slavery; it is used
in connection with destruction and death, not life in misery.
In Jonah i. 14 the cry of the storm tossed sailors is no jugglery with
words when they said, "Let us not perish for this man's life." They
did not intrude any idle speculation concerning "after death," they
knew they were in immediate peril of drowning, hence their cry. So
also with the gourd which sprang up over Jonah, "which came up in a
night and perished in a night." The gourd had withered, and as far as
its purpose was concerned it was the same as if it had been destroyed
In Deut. xi. 4 we read, "How He made the water of the Red Sea to
overflow them ....and how the Lord hath destroyed them unto this day."
What this destruction was like we may read in Exod. xiv. 28, "There
remained not so much as one of them." They had perished, they had been
destroyed, althouh their bodies were seen by the Israelites "dead upon
the sea shore." We say nothing about "annihilation;" that word is used
by those who wish to cast a slur upon the teaching of the Word in order
to keep their own traditions. The dead bodies were there, but life,
conscious being, enmity or love, sorrow or joy, were gone; as conscious
beings they were destroyed, even although their carcases lined the sea
Turn again to another passage, Deut. xii. 2, "Ye shall utterly destroy
all the places, wherein the nations which ye shall possess served their
gods." How were they to destroy them? Were they to sit down and argue
concerning the "indestructibility of matter"? Certainly not; their
instructions were definite, "Ye shall overthrow their altars, and break
their pillars, and burn their groves with fire, and ye shall hew down
the graven images of their gods, and destroy the names of them out of
that place" (verse 3). Surely words cannot be more explicit.
When Athaliah waded through a sea of blood to the throne, we are told
that she "destroyed all the seed royal." When we hear the doom of the
"cherub of the anointing" (Satan) uttered in Ezek. xxviii. 16, we find
the words are, "I will destroy thee, oh covering cherub, from the midst
of the stones of fire," but this destruction is explained in verses 18
and 19 by these words, "I will bring forth a fire from the midst of
thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the
earth . . . and never shalt thou be any more!"
Is there any need to continue the study of this word to confirm us in
its simple and primary meaning? The instances of Korah and his
company, of Esther and her people, of the sailors in the vessel with
Jonah, of the overthrow of Pharaoh and his host, and the burning,
breaking down, hewing down, and overthrowing of the heathen places of
worship, supply us with God's own usage of the word, against which all
the sophistry of man is as nothing. As is the case with all languages,
words take secondary and even more remote meanings, but none of these
can ever lessen the bearing of the primary sense, or alter their
original force. Thus we find the word abad translated "lost," as in
the case of the lost asses of I Sam. ix. 3, or the lost sheep of Psalm
cxix. I76; and again "fail," in Psalm cxlii. 4, "refuge failed me," or
"every vision faileth" (Ezek. xii. 22).
The use of this word, translated "spendeth" in Prov. xxix. 3, is full
of power. "He that keepeth company with harlots spendeth his
substance." This word abad, bearing the meaning the foregoing passages
indicate, is used by the Lord as one of the many descriptions of the
wages of sin, e.g.:D
"The way of the ungodly shall perish" (Psalm i. 6).
"The wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the Lord shall be as the
fat of lambs; they shall consume; into the smoke shall they consume
away" (Psalm xxxvii. 20).
"As wax melteth before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the
presence of God" (Psalm lxviii. 2).
"His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth, in that very day
his thoughts perish" (Psalm cxlvi. 4).
We shall consider the figures used by the Lord under a separate head,
but we cannot help drawing attention to God's simile in Psalm Ixviii.
2, or Psalm xxxvii. 20. Melting wax and consuming fire are quite
consistent with the teaching of the Scriptures, and the meaning of the
word abad. Never-ending torments, and a deathless state are utterly
foreign to the meaning of the word, and antagonistic to the figures
used by the Lord, or the historic usages of the word. John iii. 16, so
often quoted yet so little believed, gives perishing as the alternative
to "everlasting life." So far, we are able to see that the Scriptural
expression, "the wages of sin is death," needs no modification. As
applied to abad it entirely coincides with its meaning and usage.
Before we leave the consideration of this word we would draw attention
to the way in which it enters into the name of the king of the
supernatural beings mentioned in Rev. ix. 11, "whose name in the Hebrew
tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon."
This is of the utmost importance, for it fixes the meaning of the Greek
word rendered "destroy," "perish," &c. (which we shall, D.V., consider
in subsequent issues), as being equivalent to the word abad. The word
abaddon is translated "destruction" in the following passages: Job.
xxvi. 6; xxviii. 22; xxxi. 12; Psalm lxxxviii. 11; Prov. xv. 11 and
xxvii. 20. Note the connection with "Sheol" and "Death."
Another Hebrew word which we must consider is shamad. This word is
translated "destroy," 66 times; "be destroyed," 19 times; once only by
the following, "destruction;" "be overthrown;" "perish;" "bring to
nought;" "pluck down;" and twice "utterly." It will be seen that just
as the word abad was translated the greater number of times by the word
"perish," so shamad is translated in the majority of cases (86 out of a
possible 92 occurrences) by the word "destroy." It occurs in Deut. ix.
3, and is the result of a consuming fire. Again in Deut. ix. 14 it is
threatened against Israel, and explained as being the words of God,
"Let Me alone, that I may destroy them and blot out their name from
under heaven." This reference will show the awful fulness of the word
shamad. It is this word which comes first in the decree of the Jews'
enemy, "to destroy, to kill, and to cause to perish" (Esther iii. 13).
When the Lord spoke concerning Israel and its punishment He said, "I
will destroy it from off the face of the earth; saving that I will not
utterly destroy the house of Jacob, saith the Lord" (Amos ix. 8). Here
the Lord makes a provision, an exception; a clause which does not
follow the threatened destruction of the sinner. Jacob used the word "
destroy " in Gen. xxxiv. 30 to mean the effect of being killed (see for
further reference such passages as Lev. xxvi. 30; Numb. xxxiii.52;
Deut. i. 27, and Judges xxi. 16). To destroy, abolish, or demolish is
the meaning of the word. This is the fate of the wicked, e.g.:D
"All the wicked will He destroy" (Psalm cxlv. 20).
"The transgresors shall be destroyed together" (Psalm xxxvii.38).
"When the wicked spring as the grass and when all the workers of
iniquity do flourish, it is that they shall be destroyed for ever"
(Psalm xcii. 7).
Again we submit that the cumulative witness of the use of these two
words confirms the Scriptural statement that "the wages of sin is
death," and that the idea of eternal conscious suffering is as foreign
to the meaning and usage of shamad as it is to the meaning and usage of
There are one or two more Hebrew words which we must consider together;
these we must leave for another occasion. We trust our readers will
not think the time or space wasted in thrashing out the true meaning of
these words. It is our only way of gaining the truth. Man-made
definitions are all contaminated by tradition, for which we have
neither regard nor respect, from which we ask no quarter, and to which,
for the sake of the truth, "we yield subjection, no, not for an hour"
(Gal. ii. 5). [THE WAGES OF SIN PART