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The Wages of Sin

Part 6

by Charles H. Welch

In our last paper in Vol. III., page 84 (Vols. Il./III., page 128), we considered the meaning and usage of the words apollumi and apolia, and found that the words destroy and destruction in their plain unequivocal sense gave the scriptural meaning.

There are not a few who speak with borrowed but inexperienced weight against this meaning, and dismiss it with some such expression as, "It is unphilosophical - nothing can be annihilated." So far as The Berean Expositor is concerned we care not how apparently "unphilosophical" we may appear, so long as we speak according to the Word of God. Yet if we step down from the high plane of inspired truth to the lower plane of human speculation, truth still triumphs. If annihilation be unphilosophical, so also must be creation. Creation as explained by this same philosophy is the calling into being that which before had no existence. Shall we therefore be called unphilosophical if we believe that He Who did the former creative act can also do the latter destructive act, and send created things back into nonexistence once again? Surely creation is greater than annihilation! Surely as much wisdom and power were necessary to create a world out of nothing, as will be necessary to send some created things back to nothing? Let
those who oppose be consistent. Let them deny creation, and affirm the eternity of matter; then, although grossly unscriptural, they may use
the term philosophical, but not before. We are not careful to answer in this matter. We desire to know the revealed will of God, even though such knowledge constitutes us fools in the eyes of those who are wise in this world's wisdom. Let us now return to our examination of the Greek words.

Olethros occurs four times, and is translated in each case "destruction" ( I Cor. v. 5; I Thess. v. 3; 2 Thess. i. 9; I Tim. vi. 9). 2 Thess. i. 9 is the only verse calling for any comment, not because of any obscurity in the text, but because of a certain gloss frequently met with in the writings of those who defend the doctrine of eternal conscious suffering. The verse reads, "Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power," and the word "from" is taken to indicate that the "destruction" is banishment away from the presence of the Lord, just as it is said that "death" is life apart from the presence of the Lord.

At first glance it seems that there may be some force in the notion, although we may fail to see the appropriateness of such a strong word as olethros (destruction). 2 Thess. i. 9, however, is one verse only, it is not independent of all Scripture, and therefore if the interpretation offered be true, it will stand the most vigorous investigation. Turning to Acts iii. 19 we read the identical words, "from the presence of the Lord," and if the translation of apo in 2 Thess i. 9 means "away from," implying the removal of those "destroyed" into some remote region, it should mean the same here. Let us test it:
"When there shall come seasons of refreshing away from the presence of the Lord," that is at some long distance far removed from the presence
of the Lord, seasons of refreshing shall operate, while in the presence of the Lord, despair and desolation shall hold undisputed sway. No reader of the Scriptures needs to be told that such an idea is obviously too stupid to need refuting.

The meaning of the word apo (from) governing the genitive case indicates the efficient cause:-

"Wisdom is justified OF (apo) her children" (Matt. xi. 19).

"We would see a sign FROM (apo) Thee" (Matt. xii. 38).

"And suffer many things OF (apo) the elders" (Matt. xvi. 21).

Nothing could be more foreign to the idea of this usage than to say, "We would see a sign away from (or separated from) Thee." Does "peace from God" (Rom. i. 7) mean that peace is found somewhere far removed from God? Does "seasons of refreshing from the presence of the Lord" mean anything else but that the active and efficient cause of such refreshing is the very presence of the Lord on earth? How can we then arbitrarily speak of an identical usage of the same word concerning another phase of the same coming, as meaning the exact opposite? The destruction comes from the presence of the Lord as the efficient cause, explained in other language regarding Antichrist himself in 2 Thess. ii. 8. It is by means of this specious scholarship that many humble souls are fortified in their errors; the tremendous responsibility resting upon their teachers is something to be considered with fear and trembling. 

Olothreuo.- This verb is derived from olethros, and means "to destroy."  It occurs only in Heb. xi. 28, "Lest the *destroyer* of the firstborn should touch them." This word occurs in the LXX. of Exod. xii. 23; Jer. ii. 30, &c., and as one well-known lexicographer says, "It seems in the LXX. a strong word, and to denote *entire destruction*" (our italics).

Olothreutes is connected with this word, and occurs only in I Cor. x. 10, "destroyed by the *destroyer.*"

Thus the list grows, the evidence advances, and the conviction deepens that the final doom of the impenitent is destruction or perishing. 
This is emphasized in those passages which speak of "the end":-

"The end of these things is death" (Rom. vi 21).

"Whose end is destruction" (Phil iii. 19).

"Whose end is to be burned" (Heb vi. 8).

Whatever sorrows may fill the pathway of transgressors, there is an end, and that end is death and destruction:-

"Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death" (Jas. i. 15).

"But these as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed shall utterly perish in their own corruption" (2 Pet. ii. 12).

The words and usage of the words rendered "torment" must now be given a careful consideration. Chiefest among them is the word basanizo, but
we will just look at the occurrences of but one or two others first, and then devote our undivided attention to this most important word.

Kolasis.- "Fear hath torment" ( I John iv. 18). The word is the same as that used in Matt. xxv. 46 which is rendered "punishment." As we have seen in a previous issue the meaning is that of cutting off, as we would cut off a useless branch of a tree.

Kakouchoumenos.- "Being destitute, afflicted, tormented" (Heb. xi. 37). The word means to suffer or bear ill usage, and is translated in Heb. xiii. 3, "them which suffer adversity." It would have been well if the translators had used the second rendering in both passages.

Odunomai.- "I am tormented," "thou art tormented" (Luke xvi. 24, 25).  The word has occurred already in Luke ii. 48 in the words of the mother
of the Lord Jesus, "Thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing." Luke again uses the words in Acts xx. 38 to express the sorrow of the Ephesian elders at the prospect of never seeing the face of Paul again. The cognate odune in Rom. ix. 2 and I Tim. vi. 10 is rendered by the word "sorrow." It will be seen that the translation "torment" is confined to the passage concerning the rich man and Lazarus. As we hope to deal with this passage under the separate heading of "The Parables" we will not spend further time over it here, the reference to the usage of the words translated "torment" being our primary object.

The only words to be now considered are those which are the translations of basanizo and its derivatives.

Basanizo occurs twelve times in the N.T. Eight times it is rendered "torment," and once "pain," "toss," "vex," "toil." Basanistes occurs once, and is rendered "tormentor." Basanos occurs thrice, and is rendered "torment." Basanismos occurs five times, and is rendered "torment." Considering the exceptional renderings first, we notice the following:-

"Travailing in birth, and *pained* to be delivered" (Rev. xii. 2).

"The ship . . . *tossed* with the waves" (Matt. xiv. 24).

"*Vexed* his righteous soul" (2 Pet. ii. 8).

"He saw them *toiling* in rowing" (Mark vi. 48).

Dr. Young in his Concordance gives as the first meaning of the word basanizo:-

"To try and then test, inquisition, torment."

Dr. Parkhurst in his Lexicon gives the following order of the meaning of the word:-

"i. To examine, try. ii. To examine by torture, Hence, iii. To torture, torment. The word comes from basanos, which was a stone by which gold was tried."

Liddell and Scott's Greek Lexicon gives:-

"Basanizo- To rub upon the touch stone (basanos), to try the genuineness of a thing, test, make proof, e.g., to convict, to put to the torture."

These are independent witnesses whose statements are confirmed by many other authoritative Lexicons and Dictionaries. It will thus be seen that the primary root idea of the word throughout is that of "testing," with the added idea of tormenting in the process. The original idea, that of testing for gold, is observable in the passages to which we will return shortly. If the gold is to be found, this testing will evidence its presence; if not, the testing, though prolonged and severe, is not continued for eternity, it ends in the lake of fire, and the final destruction of the second death. Proof of this, however, we
will reserve until we have considered the passages. Turning to the book of the Revelation, which gives us the prophetic history of the day of the Lord, we read:-

"They shall be tormented five months" (Rev. ix. 5).

"The two prophets tormented them" (Rev xi. 10).

"He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone" (Rev xiv. 10).

"Shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever" ( Rev. 20. 10).

                       [WAGES OF SIN- PART 7]