Scripture Queries and Answers

1912 16 Q. — Was king Saul chosen by the people, or chosen by the Lord (1 Sam. 8:18; 10:24; 12:13)? H.C.M.

A. — The quotations of the querist afford the answer. It was Israel's rebellious will to have, as they said, "our" king, instead of waiting for Jehovah's purposed King (1 Sam. 2:10; Ps. 2. "compare also Num. 24:7; Deut. 17:14-15; Deut. 28:36; Ps. 45), whom He will in His time yet set on His holy hill of Zion. Remonstrance and warning being alike refused, God gave them their king in His anger, but nevertheless, one "on whom was all the desire of Israel" the people's choice indeed — not the one after God's own heart. "That [is] not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual."

1912 79 Q. — What is the teaching of Holy Scripture as to Sheol or Hades?
1. Does the "three days the Son of man was in the heart of the earth," and our Lord's descent "into the lower parts of the earth," refer to anything more than, in the former the grave; and in the latter the dust of death and the grave?
2. Would it be according to scripture to say that Sheol or Hades (including Abraham's bosom, and Paradise) were below the earth? and that the Lord Jesus went there and emptied one compartment of it taking them on high? Or was Paradise or Abraham's bosom always in heaven, and never below the earth even in Old Testament times?
3. If so what is the force of such expressions as going down into Sheol?
4. Is the "bottomless pit" distinct from Hades?
5. Could the word Sheol or Hades be applied to heaven in that it also was part of the unseen? J.C.B.

A. — The Old Testament word "Sheol" occurs sixty-five times and is translated in our

Authorised Version thirty-one times by "grave," three times by "pit," and thirty-one times by "hell"; so that our excellent translators of 1611 did not consider the word of uniform signification. It is represented in the Greek Version sixty-one times by Hades; twice (2 Sam. 22:6; Prov. 23:14) by "death" (thanatos); whilst in two passages (Job. 24:19; Ezek. 32:21) no exact counterpart of the Hebrew clauses is reproduced in the Septuagint, and so the rendering of the word in these instances does not appear.

Now in the following passages (to give no more), Gen. 37:35; Gen. 42:38; Gen. 44:29, 31; Num. 16:30, 33; 1 Kings 2:6, 9; Ps. 49:15 bis; Ps. 141:7, Sheol cannot well mean anything but "the grave," and is so rendered in our Authorised Version (excepting Num. 16 where they say "pit"); whilst elsewhere for the most part its general reference is to the place of departed spirits. The grave receives the inanimate body. Thus in the Old Testament Sheol is used for both receptacles.

When, however, we turn to the New Testament this indefiniteness disappears. For life and incorruptibility are now brought to light through the gospel. Hades, the general representative of the word Sheol, is in the New Testament restricted to the unseen world of separate spirits, as "death," or the grave, applies (Rev. 20) only to the body, and not to soul nor to spirit. It is the body that dies; whilst the spirit returns to God who gave it. The spirit and soul never cease to exist, whether for weal or for woe. Further, Hades receives only the wicked; the believer, if called to die, goes not to Hades, but to paradise.

Yet it has been supposed that to Hades both good and bad alike go, at death, with the two classes nevertheless separated there by a great gulf; but scripture nowhere speaks of the good being in Hades, but rather as "afar off" from those there. Certainly, if Ps. 16:10 (twice quoted in Acts 2) be considered as teaching that our Lord on dying did go to Sheol, or Hades, His soul being not left there then — as we know He went to paradise (a garden of delight, not of darkness), where also the dying robber was received — there must in that case have been two parts for good and bad respectively. But this mistake arises from a faulty translation of the Psalm in our 1611 version. What the verse does say is, Thou wilt not leave (abandon, or, relegate) my soul to (not in) Sheol (see R.V.), and this rendering is confirmed also by the corrected text of Acts 2:27 (accepted by the Critical Editors Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles, Westcott and Hort, and the Revisers.*

{*The reader is referred to the latest edition of a scholarly and valuable work by the late W. Kelly, "The Preaching to the Spirits in Prison," 1910, pp. 125, 133-139. (To be had of the Publisher of this Magazine).}

Again, Hades is never spoken of in, the New Testament in a good sense. If there was a good part of Hades, as well as a bad part, why, should we read of its allotment to the wicked invariably, whilst no hint is given of the good being there also?

1. By "the heart," or "lower parts," of the earth, we understand the grave. Our Lord not
only died, but was buried" and "rose again the third day." Of this Jonah was a sign. Ps. 139:15 may serve to guard us from a too literal interpretation of the words which would seem to indicate that by the lowest parts of the earth is meant what is plainly out of sight — "in secret." The
sepulchre was made sure and the stone sealed (Matt 27:66). Thus no human eye should peer into that holy domain where lay the body of Jesus.

2. Before the Saviour came Abraham's bosom represented the acme of bliss to the pious Jew, seeing that Abraham was called the friend of God! To be "with Christ" is the Christian's blissful prospect as now revealed. This is in the paradise of God, above. Paradise is not Hades, nor was Abraham in Hades, but seen "afar off" by the tormented soul that was in Hades. It is a dream of man that our Lord went to Hades and delivered any therefrom. Not to Hades but to paradise the Lord went. Nor does scripture give any hint of deliverance from Hades. Judges 5:12; Ps. 68:18; Eph. 4:8 speak not of the liberating of prisoners, but of the leading captive the oppressive powers of evil, here called "captivity." Christ has spoiled the [wicked] principalities and the powers and made a show of them openly, in His triumph over them (Col. 2:15). He led captivity captive; not a word as to setting free hell's captives, as some would make out.

3. "Going down" to Sheol — the grave or the pit being ocularly beneath us.

4. The bottomless pit (Rev. 20) is not where man is but where Satan will be bound for a thousand years, preliminary to his being cast into the lake of fire for eternity; whereas Hades receives the spirits of those who have died — the wicked dead whose spirits once inhabited a mortal body. The soul and spirit go to Hades, whilst the body made of dust has meanwhile its part in "the grave" (whether it be sea or land), awaiting its resurrection to judgment. When "man" is raised, the earth and heavens being no more, he is cast — not into Hades (which finds place no longer), but into the lake of fire prepared (not for man but) for the devil and his angels. The believer, if put to sleep, is raised, not for judgment, but for glory (Phil. 3:20-21).

5. Sheol or Hades cannot be applied to heaven, but is in contrast with heaven, as it is its opposite.

1912 144 Q. — With reference to the Queries and Answers in the May issue of The Bible Treasury regarding Sheol or Hades, what are we to understand from the following scriptures: —

1. "Who shall descend into the abyss, that is, to bring Christ up from among the dead" (Rom. 10:7). Does this imply that our Lord was in the abyss?

2. "That through death he might annul him who has the might of death, that is, the devil; and might set free all those who through fear of death, through the whole of their life, were subject to bondage" (Heb. 2:14-15, New Trans.). Is it that the setting free refers to Old Testament saints who had lived and died and went to Sheol?

3. "Though they dig into Sheol" (Amos 9:2). Would this teach that the locality of Sheol is in the heart of the earth? J.C.B.

A. — 1. Our Lord not only died, but was buried. His body lay in the grave (in the words of Matt. 12:40) "three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." And of this the prophet Jonah was a sign, who himself confesses (2:5), "The waters compassed me about, even to the soul; the depth (or, abyss) closed me round about" (abyssos 'ekuklose me heskate, LXX.) Christ's "soul" was not left to Hades; and His "spirit" He committed into the hands of His Father.

The scripture quoted by the querist warns against saying in the heart, "Who shall descend into the abyss," of which the signification is given, "that is, to bring up Christ again from amongst (ek) the dead." "God raised Him from amongst the dead." Spirits and souls are not dead, for all live unto Him. "God is not the God of the dead, but of the living." The inanimate "body" it is that is the subject of resurrection. It is raised, and by the union with it of "spirit" and "soul" — both immortal — becomes living, whether here or hereafter, whether for eternal felicity, or everlasting torment. Does scripture ever speak of the soul, or the spirits of men, having place in the abyss? Is it correct to say that the abyss is "the habitation of (Satan and his angels, and) the spirits of the wicked"?

Neither the metaphorical language of Ezek. 31:15, nor the imagery of the latest prophecy, affords sufficient basis, it appears to us, for such an inference.

The "abyss" is a Greek word (abyssos), meaning, "bottomless," which occurs in the New Testament nine times, and is rendered in our Authorised Version as follows: "deep," in Luke 8:31; Rom. 10:7; "bottomless," in Rev. 9:1-2; and "bottomless pit," in Rev. 9:11 Rev. 11:7; Rev. 17:8; Rev. 20:1, 3. In the Septuagint Version of the Old Testament, out of the thirty-four* occurrences of its use it is the rendering, in thirty-one instances, of the Hebrew word t'höhm — "the deep," "deep places," "the depth." We give at the foot of this page all the references in the Old Testament, from which the general sense of the word is plain. And so also the New Testament gives no warrant whatever for such a thought as a descent of our Lord into the bottomless pit! Our Lord "descended into the lower parts of the earth." He was buried, and He raised from the dead by the glory of the Father.

{*Gen. 1:2; Gen. 7:11; Gen. 8:2; Deut. 8:7; Deut. 33:13 bis; Job 28:14; Job 38:16, 30 Job 41:32; Ps. 33:7; Ps. 36:6; Ps. 42:7 bis; Ps. 71:20 bis; Ps. 77:16; Ps. 78:15; Ps. 104:6; Ps. 106:9; Ps. 107:26; Ps. 135:6; 7; Prov. 3:20; Prov. 8:24, 27, 28; Isa. 51:10; Isa. 63:13; Ezek. 26:19; Ezek. 31:14-15; Amos 7:4; Jonah 2:5; Hab. 3:10.

It is the rendering of other three Hebrew words occurring Job 36:16; Job 41:31; Isa. 44:27. The chapters and verses are as in the Authorised Version.}

2. The setting free is not after death, but the deliverance from the fear of death in this life. Before redemption was accomplished, all was more or less dark to the pious Jew, and death had not been robbed of its terrors. Now even death is ours (1 Cor. 3:22), for it is the gateway (if put to sleep) into the presence of the Lord. And, says the apostle, we are always confident — pleased
rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

3. It is no question of locality. But we "dig "into the ground, as if we "climb," we climb upwards. Whether man goes below or above therefore in his efforts to escape judgment when the lintel is smitten is alike futile (compare Ps. 139)

1912 176 Q. — 2 Kings 5. Would you kindly give me a reply in the Bible Treasury to the following: Am I right in saying that, in the matter of Naaman's cleansing, it was not a question of faith, but of practical obedience to the word of the prophet who told him to go and wash seven times in Jordan. Faith was not required at first, only obedience, and it was this — his obedience — on which his healing was made dependent. He had no idea that his soul was to be saved, what he found as a free gift of grace too. F.W.G.

A. — The healing of Naaman's leprosy — his bodily disease — was contingent upon his acting on the declared word of Jehovah through Elisha. Thus would he know that there was a prophet in Israel. Unbelieving at first, "he went down and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean." Now he could say, "I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel." Divine life is not in question. Compare also 1 Kings 18:39.

Life and incorruptibility have been brought to light through the gospel. It is soul-salvation that we receive through faith of the gospel, in contrast with the bodily, or circumstantial, deliverances of the Old Testament. The day is coming when the forgiveness of iniquities will go along with the healing of diseases, and the executing of righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed (Ps. 103). It is not so now. We are called to suffering here, to glory hereafter. We may be in heaviness through manifold trials, but should be always rejoicing; and as our affliction is only here, so is it but momentary, whereas glory is eternal. How great the gain!

1913 224 Q. — Rev. 20:11-15. Would you kindly explain if any who will stand before the "great white throne" will have their names in the book of life? H.J.D.

A. — Not one of those who have their names in the book of life will stand before the great white throne. Only the wicked "dead" are there arraigned — no longer dead, but raised for "judgment"! Into judgment the believer does not come, as we are told by the Lord Himself, in John 5. And here (in Rev. 20) we learn that "blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection." None but the good are here. The rest of the dead are the wicked who lived not again (i.e. were not raised) till a thousand years after. Then they are seen before the great white throne, and each one is judged out of those things which were written in "the books" according to their works. The inevitable issue of judgment is the lake of fire. As the opened "books" reveal positively the wicked deeds of all there standing "before the throne," so does the absence of their names from the "book of life" negative their title to a place in heaven (c.f. Luke 10:20).

There will be no death during the millennium— the thousand years — except of the sinner, who is accursed (Isa. 65:20). Death and hades, into which the sinner passes (his body into "death," and his spirit and soul into "hades"), "till the time of the dead that they should be judged," now deliver up the dead which were in them, and they are judged each according to their works. "Death and hell" (i.e. the contents of both) "were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death."

1913 272 Q. — 1. Rom. 3:25. Is the R.V. grammatically correct in putting a comma after "through faith" instead of reading "through faith in his blood" as in our Authorised Version? H. N.

A. — 1. Amongst the innumerable editions of the Greek Testament from the first published text (Erasmus 1516) down to the Revisers' (Cambridge 1882), I have not been able to discover one that inserts the comma, so that in this the Revisers' would seem to stand alone. Not but that Erasmus in his last edition (1535) departs in his Latin translation from the rendering of his first edition and gives "reconciliatorem per fidem, interveniente ipsius sanguine" in place of "reconciliatorem, per fidem in ipsius sanguine" (1516). But this, as well as Beza's, Wetstein's, and Bowyer's comments on the clause is interpretation. The grammar is not at stake in either case, and these editors did not therefore venture to introduce the comma into their respective Greek texts.

As the Authorised Version and the margin of the Revisers' have it, the words "through faith in his blood" without a preceding comma seem rightly to connect with "propitiation" or "propitiatory." For God's righteousness in "passing over" the sins of the Old Testament saints, and the justifying now of the believer in Jesus, could not be apart from "faith in his blood." It is in His death that Christ is the "propitiatory" and this avails for those who have "faith in His blood." This guards against Beza's notion of Christ's whole life being a propitiatory sacrifice.

Q. — 2. In Col. 1:24 the apostle speaks of filling up "that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ for his body's sake which is the church." Taking these words literally do they not seem to imply that our Lord did not suffer His full share of afflictions, but left a part to be filled up by His servant and follower after Him? R.C.

A. — 2. We must distinguish between Christ's sufferings in atonement, in which none can share, and His suffering for righteousness, where He is not alone. Matt. 20:22 gives the first, whilst the next verse reveals the latter. So Phil. 1:29, 1 Peter 4:13, 16, speak of our part. See also "Bible Treasury," Vol. 7. (1908), 208.