Difference between a consuming and a refining fire

God has been described as both a consuming fire and as a refiner’s fire. Is there a difference?

There are verses which speak of God as a consuming fire: Dt 4:24, 9:3; Hebrews 12:29. Let us take a look at them:

Deuteronomy 4:24 NAS

“For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.

Deuteronomy 9:3 NAS

“Know therefore today that it is the LORD your God who is crossing over before you as a consuming fire. He will destroy them and He will subdue them before you, so that you may drive them out and destroy them quickly, just as the LORD has spoken to you.

Hebrews 12:29 NAS

for our God is a consuming fire.

We can see in Ezekiel 22:31 that God’s wrath (indignation) is poured out on the heads of those who sin and He has consumed them. If God did it on the earth to the Ammonites, why would He not do it at the end of physical life as He has promised?

Ezekiel 22:31

31 “Thus I have poured out My indignation on them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath ; their way I have brought upon their heads,” declares the Lord GOD.

We see the coming wrath in Luke 3:7 NAS

So he began saying to the crowds who were going out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come ?

Now we have to look at what word is translated as consuming. “Consuming” in the Old Testament is translated from ‘akal (http://www.biblestudytools.com/lexicons/hebrew/kjv/akal.html ). This means to eat, to devour, to consume. The fuller meanings can be seen as:

  1. to eat, devour, burn up, feed
    1. (Qal)
      1. to eat (human subject)
      2. to eat, devour (of beasts and birds)
      3. to devour, consume (of fire)
      4. to devour, slay (of sword)
      5. to devour, consume, destroy (inanimate subjects – ie, pestilence, drought)
      6. to devour (of oppression)
    2. (Niphal)
      1. to be eaten (by men)
      2. to be devoured, consumed (of fire)
      3. to be wasted, destroyed (of flesh)
    3. (Pual)
      1. to cause to eat, feed with
      2. to cause to devour
    4. (Hiphil)
      1. to feed
      2. to cause to eat
    5. (Piel)
      1. consume

“Consuming” in the New Testament is translated from Katanalisko (http://www.biblestudytools.com/lexicons/greek/nas/katanalisko.html ) and means:
1. to consume of fire.

The ONLY place this word is used is in Hebrews 12:29 and we’ve already seen how it is used describe God. It is obvious God’s fire will CONSUME sinners.

Now let us look at how the term “refiner’s fire” is used in Malachi 3:2, but we’ll look at the context of the verse, to ensure we get the whole message:

Malachi 3:1-4:3

1 “Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple ; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,” says the LORD of hosts. 2 “But who can endure the day of His coming ? And who can stand when He appears ? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. 3 “He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the LORD offerings in righteousness. 4″Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in the days of old and as in former years. 5 “Then I will draw near to you for judgment ; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers and against the adulterers and against those who swear falsely, and against those who oppress the wage earner in his wages, the widow and the orphan, and those who turn aside the alien and do not fear Me,” says the LORD of hosts. 6 “For I, the LORD, do not change ; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed. 7 “From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from My statutes and have not kept them. Return to Me, and I will return to you,”says the LORD of hosts. “But you say, ‘How shall we return ?’8 “Will a man rob God ? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, ‘How have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. 9 “You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation of you! 10 “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the LORD of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows . 11 “Then I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of the ground ; nor will your vine in the field cast its grapes,” says the LORD of hosts. 12 “All the nations will call you blessed, for you shall be a delightful land,” says the LORD of hosts. 13 “Your words have been arrogant against Me,” says the LORD. “Yet you say, ‘What have we spoken against You?’ 14 “You have said, ‘It is vain to serve God ; and what profit is it that we have kept His charge, and that we have walked in mourning before the LORD o fhosts ? 15 ‘So now we call the arrogant blessed ; not only are the doers of wickedness built up but they also test God and escape.’ “16 Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who esteem His name. 17 “They will be Mine,” says the LORD of hosts, “on the day that I prepare My own possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.” 18 So you will again distinguish between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him.

1 “For behold, the day is coming, burning like a furnace ; and all the arrogant and every evildoer will be chaff ; and the day that is coming will set them ablaze,” says the LORD of hosts, “so that it will leave them neither root nor branch.” 2 “But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings ; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall. 3 “You will tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of yourfeet on the day which I am preparing,” says the LORD of hosts.

Its obvious from the context that God will cleanse His people, “the sons of Levi” (remember that believers will be a nation of priests, Exodus 19:6, 1 Peter 2:9, Revelation 1:6). But that is not consuming them. The cleansing, the refining, is done to those who love God.

It is AFTER the refining occurs that God will judge.

Notice who it is who is to be judged: the wicked (“the sorcerers and against the adulterers and against those who swear falsely, and against those who oppress the wage earner in his wages, the widow and the orphan, and those who turn aside the alien and do not fear Me”). HOWEVER, the ones who “fear the Lord and esteem His name” will be spared.

The arrogant and evil doers will be burned up and destroyed like chaff. The ones who fear God will be healed and will tread on the ashes of the wicked.

So we see there is a difference between a refiner’s fire and a consuming fire. The refiner’s fire will cleanse the people of God. But the consuming fire will destroy the wicked. God refines believers (since we have Christ’s righteousness imputed to us when we believe and the Holy Spirit cleanses us), and the lake of fire is the furnace which will consume the wicked.

Yes, Jesus said he had come to cast fire upon the earth, but we can see in the context that He was not speaking of the earth literally, but on the people of the earth – as we see when he speaks of causing division among family members. Yet, even here, we see warning of the coming judgement in verses 56-59.

Luke 12:49-59

49 “I have come to cast fire upon the earth ; and how I wish it were already kindled ! 50 “But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished ! 51 “Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth ? I tell you, no, but rather division ; 52 for from now on five members in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three. 53 “They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” 54 And He was also saying to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, ‘A shower is coming,’ and so it turns out. 55 “And when you see a south wind blowing, you say, ‘It will be a hot day,’ and it turns out that way. 56 “You hypocrites ! You know how to analyze the appearance of the earth and the sky, but why do you not analyze this present time ? 57 “And why do you not even on your own initiative judge what is right ? 58 “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. 59 “I say to you, you will not get out of there until you have paid the very last cent.”

John the Baptist said in Luke 3:16 that he baptized with water (the symbol of outward purification), but Christ would baptize with the Holy Spirit (God) and fire (the symbol which indicates refining fire of God spoken of in Malachi 3). This is not the consuming fire, but the purifying fire whereby what is left is refined. This is the purifying of those who believe.

Luke 3:16 NAS

John answered and said to them all, “As for me, I baptize you with water ; but One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals ; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

That purifying fire, that refining fire, is what God does in us because Christ has done on the cross and we believe. The fire is a symbol of God, and is seen in Acts 2:3-4.

3And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. 4And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.

We see in Revelation 20:8 where the nonbelievers were deceived and surrounded the camp of God’s people, and in 9 where fire came down from heaven and devoured the deceived. Then in verse 10, the devil was thrown into the lake of brown sufur (lake of fire), and they (beast and false prophet) will be tormented forever.

Revelation 20:7-10

7 When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison, 8 and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war ; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore. 9 And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them. 10 And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also ; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

CONSUME doesn’t mean to make feel good, or even to cleanse, but to destroy. This is the punishment we are to face if we do not have perfect righteousness. The only way to have that is to have GOD’s righteousness – which He offers to all of us if we simply accept His gift.

So to refine is to cleanse, to remove impurities. But to consume is to destroy. We see that those who believe that God sent Christ to live  a perfect human life, to suffer and die to pay for our sins, and raised Christ up again on the third day) are the ones who have the righteousness of Christ and have been cleansed by the refiner’s fire. But those who are wicked, who deny God and what God has done, who do not believe God, are the ones who will be thrown into the consuming fire to be eternally destroyed.

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12 Responses

  1. You seem to have proven the existence of Purgatory

    • Hmm…

      No where have I stated people who are not good enough to go to heaven nor bad enough to go to hell go to an intermediate place. Nor have I stated that anyone can do anything to move someone else into heaven.

      How do you think I have proven the existence of purgatory?

  2. let me clarify: If we trust in God’s saving work, then we are saved and go through the refiner’s fire. If we do not, we go through the consuming fire – the lake of fire, the second death.

    We are either with God (enjoying eternal life with God) or in the lake of fire (suffering eternal destruction/death).

  3. …and that’s Purgatory. Everyone who is in Purgatory is saved.

  4. Mr. Moore. I want to first say that I enjoy your website. You are amazingly prolific and your posts are vert thorough. I agree with the vast majority of things you post. My post was not intended to give you grief, but to emphasize that there are elements of our faiths that are held in common, but we only use different terminology. It seems to me that your post and clarification describe Purgatory – which is better considered as a process than a place. Everyone in Purgatory is saved. This is from the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

    1031 The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned. The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire:

    As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come.

  5. hi Kirk.

    Thanks for the kind words. I agree that protestants and catholics have many of the same beliefs. And indeed, in some cases, merely use different words to describe the same thing.

    However, in this case, I’m not sure we are simply using different words. Personally, I think we are talking about different beliefs altogether. I grew up catholic and know that what the church teaches officially is not necessarily what people believe and teach among themselves. But in this case, I still have a problem with what the catholic church teaches regarding purgatory.

    The problem I have with purgatory is two-fold: 1) the idea that someone can pray someone else out of purgatory, or do good deeds or buy an indulgence to help them move from purgatory, and 2) the idea that we are purified after death.

    I am going to address the second one in this comment.

    Scripture is clear that we are each responsible to God for what we say and do.

    Ezekiel 18:20

    20 The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him.

    Obviously the wicked will be punished. But the righteous will not be.
    Proverbs 11:20-21

    20 The LORD detests men of perverse heart but he delights in those whose ways are blameless. 21 Be sure of this: The wicked will not go unpunished, but those who are righteous will go free.

    Scripture is also clear that we have the righteousness of Christ when we accept Christ as savior.

    Romans 3:22

    even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe ; for there is no distinction

    1 Corinthians 1:30

    30 But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption,

    We are justified (declared innocent of sin) when we have faith in Christ.
    Romans 3:28

    For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.

    This justification occurs once and is everlasting.
    Romans 6:10

    For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all ; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.

    this justification includes all sins and is instantaneous.
    Acts 13:38-39

    38 “Therefore let it be known to you, brethren , that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, 39 and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses.

    We are saved through the washing and renewal by the Holy Spirit.

    Titus 3:5

    he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit

    Christ will confirm believers as blameless on the day of the Lord.
    1 Corinthians 1:6-8

    6 even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you, 7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    We have been purified in THIS life.
    1 Peter 1:6-8 speaks of the trials the believers were undergoing which show the evidence of their faith. The faith was being tested by fire (ie. the trials they were undergoing while alive).

    6 In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, 7 so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ ; 8 and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,

    1 Peter 1:20-22 shows the believers have been purified through obedience to the truth (that God sent Christ to pay for our sins)

    20 For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you 21 who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. 22 Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart,

    Scripture is also clear that the righteous will not be judged.
    John 5:24

    “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life

    Scripture is also clear that believers will go to be with God upon death.

    2 Corinthians 5:8

    we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.

    Philippians 1:21-23

    21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. 23 But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better ;

    Christ died to redeem us and to purify us from our sin.
    Titus 2:14

    who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

    Obviously Christ’s work in purifying ALL our sins is done. Is Christ’s purification imperfect or incomplete? No, because Christ completed His work and sat down at the right hand of God the Father.

    Hebrews 1:3

    And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

    1 John 1:5-10

    5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

    Note that the previous verse, along with Isaiah 59:1-2 and Micah 3:4, tells us that God does not fellowship with sinners. Yet, we saw earlier that believers have been purified and are in the presence of the Lord upon death.

    Isaiah 59:1-2

    1 Behold, the LORD’S hand is not so short That it cannot save ; Nor is His ear so dull That it cannot hear. 2 But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.

    Micah 3:4

    4 Then they will cry out to the LORD, But He will not answer them. Instead, He will hide His face from them at that time Because they have practiced evil deeds.

    2 Corinthians 5:10 tells us we will all appear before the judgment seat of Christ. But we have to realize that believers have the righteousness of Christ through faith, so our sins are forgiven. We have been purified by God through obedience to the truth (1 Peter 1:20-22), and we will not be judged (John 5:24).

    For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

    1 Corinthians 3:11-15 speaks to the fact that the results of what believers do (the fruit of their faith, their WORKS) will be examined, and they will be rewarded or will lose rewards, but no where does this state they themselves will be purified.

    11For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. 14 If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

    So, believers in Christ have the righteousness of Christ. The righteous are those who have faith in Christ. The righteous are not judged, nor punished. The believer has been purified by God, and the believer goes to be with Christ in heaven (where no sin can exist) upon death. Therefore, we know believers have no further purification to undergo.

    As for someone praying someone else out of purgatory, I have written on this before: https://wbmoore.wordpress.com/2008/10/30/what-does-the-bible-say-about-purgatory/

    So, no. I don’t think we are using different words to describe the same thing. I think purgatory is not a biblical concept.

  6. Wow. You are prolific. Your comments will require a LONG response. I will first need to address the linked post that suggests that Maccabees is “apocrypha,.” otherwise we will be “putting the cart before the horse.” I hope to have time this weekend. however, (this is your site and I don’t want to come on here and be disrespectful with a long rant.)

    • Hehe. By prolific, you dont mean wordy, do you? :)

      Take your time. And feel free to discuss what ever subject you find on my blog. I write it to teach what God’s Word says, so we can learn more about who God is, what God has done, what God will do, and what God wants from us and for us.

      I may not agree with someone’s position, but I will usually post and respond to anyone who is polite and not baiting me or others. Its rare that someone who engages in discourse will change their position because of what is written on this blog. But I’m always willing to discuss God’s Word.

  7. Greetings Mr. Moore.

    An explanation of Purgatory requires a lengthy response. In fact, this will be the only the first post of two or three posts. If you reply with objections, it may require additional posts.

    ( am amazed at how much you are able to post.You’ve made three posts since my last response. As for me, I probably won’t be able get to the next post for another week.)

    Before discussing Purgatory we need to first determine the canon of scripture. Protestants of the last couple of centuries tend to reject what they call the Apocrypha (Deuterocanon), while Catholics accept it as being divinely inspired. This distinction is important because the acceptance of the Deuterocanon as being canonical pretty much necessitates belief in Purgatory and intercessory prayer.

    In what may seem to be a nonsequitor, I’d like to point out that the word “prodigal,” as used in the prodigal son, means wasteful. However, if you ask most people what prodigal means, they would incorrectly tell you that it means wayward.

    I bring this up because the term “Apocrypha” has also taken on new meanings over the centuries. Before Luther, the Catholic Church itself used the term Apocrypha, because the word had the Greek meaning of the “hidden books.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apocrypha

    Since Luther, however, the word has taken on the meaning of spurious. Catholics now use the term Deuterocanon or Deuterocanonical Books. To Catholics Apocrypha is a loaded term. For Catholics the Apocrypha refers to the gnostic gospels, etc.

    Luther wasn’t the first person to reject the Deuterocanonical Books. Marcion of Sinope (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcion) was Luther’s forerunner. He believed that none of the Old Testament belonged in the Bible. He also rejected Matthew, Mark, and John, along with parts of Luke.

    Luther wanted to eliminate the books of James, Revelation, and the Deuterocanonical Books from his Canon of Scripture. Fortunately, he was talked out of it, but when he published a translation of the Bible where he regrouped the Old Testament so that it had a special section in the back called the Apocrypha.

    Luther did so for two reasons. The first was that James, Revelation, and the Deuterocanonical Books did not conform to his theology. The second was that European Jews of the 1500s (Luther’s time) did not accept the Deuterocanonical Books as a part of their Bible. He felt that this compromised the legitimacy of the books. This second point is very important and I’ll get back to it in a few moments.

    Initially all Protestant Bibles included the Deuterocanonical Books. The King James Version contained the Deuterocanon with cross references from the Protocanon in the margins. In 1615, in England, the Protestant Archbishop of Canterbury imposed a year’s imprisonment as penalty for publishing Bibles without the Deuterocanonical Books. It wasn’t until 1827 when the British Foreign Bible Society decided to drop the Deuterocanonical Books from the Bible. Some sources state that the decision was made to save on the cost of paper. Other sources state that it was due to pervasive anti-Catholicism in England (Most people don’t know that to this day it is still illegal for the British monarch to marry a Catholic.)

    The Jewish Canon
    As noted above, Luther rejected the Deuterocanonical Books because most European Jews during his time did not accept them. However, Jews during the time of Jesus did accept them.

    During the time of Jesus, there wasn’t a defined Canon. According to Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Septuagint Jewish scholars first translated the Torah into Koine, or common, Greek in the 3rd century BCE. Koine Greek was a universal language that was spoken throughout the Roman Empire. The translation process took several years and became known as the Septuagint (LXX). The LXX included the Deuterocanonical Books. Both Philo and Josephus ascribed divine inspiration to the LXX.
    According to Wikipedia “the New Testament writers, when citing the Jewish scriptures or when quoting Jesus doing so, freely used the Greek translation, implying that Jesus, his Apostles and their followers considered it reliable.”

    Not only did the New Testament writers favor the LXX over the Hebrew Scriptures; they included a boatload of references to the Deuterocanonical Books as documented by this guy. http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2005/08/possible-references-to-deuterocanon.html
    One good example of a New Testament reference to the Deuterocanon is Hebrews 11:35, which discusses the heroes of the Old Testament.
    Women received back their dead through resurrection. Some were tortured and would not accept deliverance, in order to obtain a better resurrection.

    This is a clear reference to 2 Maccabees 7, which is even acknowledged by Barnes Notes on the Bible, a respected Protestant resource. The passage from Maccabees is the only example in scripture of someone being tortured and refusing to accept release for the sake of a better resurrection. When the verse from Hebrews is read in context, it would be difficult to claim that Paul didn’t consider Maccabees (and thus prayer for the dead) as being on the same level as the rest of the Old Testament.

    The weight of evidence strongly suggests that the writers of the Bible believed that the Septuagint was scripture. We are instructed by 2 Timothy 3:16 that all Scripture is inspired. Adherents of Sola Scriptura must accept the Deuterocanonical Books based upon this verse.
    When we learn why some Jews after the time of Jesus came to reject the Deuterocanonical Books, it should cause us to embrace the books all the more.

    In “Why Catholic Bibles are bigger,” by Gary Michuta http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1581880103/ref=s9_simh_se_p236_d0_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=auto-no-results-center-1&pf_rd_r=0M71NJ235TJJHGM877NK&pf_rd_t=301&pf_rd_p=1263465782&pf_rd_i=%C2%93Why%20Catholic%20Bibles%20are%20bigger%C2%94
    Michuta explains that during the Second Jewish Revolt (A.D. 132-135) Christians were still considered a Jewish sect. Christians were pressured by Rabbi Akiba ben Joseph to renounce Jesus, join the revolt, and accept Bar Cochba as the Messiah. Of course, Christians refused this apostasy and were treated by Jews as heretics and traitors.
    According to Wikipedia, the Council of Jamnia was headed by the Rabbi and it addressed “the loss of the national language, the growing problem of conversions to Christianity, based in part on Christian promises of life after death. What emerged from this era was twofold:
    A rejection of the Septuagint or Koine Greek Old Testament… and the inclusion of a curse on the “Minim” which probably included Jewish Christians.”

    (A few years ago I looked at the Jewish Encyclopedia entry on the Council of Jamnia and it acknowledged that participants of the Council did indeed curse Christians. (The entry in the Jewish Encyclopedia is acknowledged in the Wikipedia article) In preparing this post, I referred to the Jewish Encyclopedia again, but interestingly the article on Jamnia has been removed – unless I goofed and didn’t see it.)
    The Council, which was made up of survivors of the Pharisees, was not enamored with Christianity. It especially disproved of the Gentile Christians, who primarily spoke Greek. When the Council specified that it wanted to purify Judaism of Greek influences it was saying that it wanted to purify Judaism of Christianity. The formerly accepted Deuterocanon suddenly fell into disrespect because it was highly favored by Christians, who believed that it pointed toward Christ, and it was written in Greek.

    The Council banned any scripture that wasn’t written in Hebrew. Ironically the Dead Sea Scrolls subsequently demonstrated that at least some of the Deuterocanonical Books were, in fact, written in Hebrew. (Note that the Hebrew language might not have been the only sacred language used by the Israelites. There is some evidence that the Ge’ez language was also used in ancient times. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geez )
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Septuagint
    According to Wikipedia, “Starting approximately in the 2nd century CE, several factors led most Jews to abandon use of the LXX. The earliest gentile Christians of necessity used the LXX, as it was at the time the only Greek version of the Bible, and most, if not all, of these early non-Jewish Christians could not read Hebrew. The association of the LXX with a rival religion may have rendered it suspect in the eyes of the newer generation of Jews and Jewish scholars.”
    Luther based his decision to exclude the Deuterocanon based, in part, on the decision of a Council that cursed Christ and Christians, and whose purpose was to combat Christianity.
    One final note about the Council – We know that at the time of Christ there were a variety of Jewish sects (Sadducees, Pharisees, and others, all with theological disagreements. According to Michuta, “Judaism was comprised of as many as twenty-four distinct parties…and each…had its own distinctive theology and preferences in matters of canonicity (p. 13).” The Council represented only one sect. The Falasha Jews of Ethiopia, for example accepted the Deuterocanonical Books through modern times.

    Christianity’s acceptance of the Deuterocanonical Books
    Catholic Answers (http://www.catholic.com/library/Old_Testament_Canon.asp) documents Christianity’s acceptance of the Deuterocanonical Books as being scripture as far back as Apostolic times. A similar reference is on EWTN. Documents citing the Deuterocanonical Books as being scripture include:
    • The Didache (A.D. 70);
    • The Letter of Barnabas(A.D. 74);
    • Clement of Rome (A.D. 80);
    • Polycarp of Smyrna (A.D. 135);
    • St. Irenaeus (A.D. 189);
    • Hippolytus (A.D. 204);
    • Cyprian of Carthage (A.D. 248);
    • Council of Rome (A.D. 382);
    • Council of Hippo (A.D. 393);
    • Council of Carthage III (A.D. 397);
    • St. Augustine (A.D. 397);
    • The Apostolic Constitutions (A.D. 400);
    • St. Jerome (A.D. 401); and
    • Pope Innocent I (A.D. 408).
    Protestants sometimes cite three sources in claiming that the Deuterocanonical Books weren’t used by early Christians. These are St. Jerome, Athanasius, and Origin.

    • While Jerome originally was dubious about the Deuterocanon at first, he changed his mind. He included them in the Vulgate. He referred to Sirach as being scripture: “Does not the Scripture say: ‘Burden not thyself above thy power’ [Sirach 13:2] “ (Jerome, To Eustochium, Epistle 108, in NPNF2, VI:207)

    St. Jerome also said: “What sin have I committed if I follow the judgment of the churches? But he who brings charges against me for relating [in my preface to the book of Daniel] the objections that the Hebrews are wont to raise against the story of Susannah [Dan. 13], the Song of the Three Children [Dan. 3:29–68, RSV-CE], and the story of Bel and the Dragon [Dan. 14], which are not found in the Hebrew volume, proves that he is just a foolish sycophant. I was not relating my own personal views, but rather the remarks that they are wont to make against us. If I did not reply to their views in my preface, in the interest of brevity, lest it seem that I was composing not a preface, but a book, I believe I added promptly the remark, for I said, ‘This is not the time to discuss such matters’” (Against Rufinius 11:33 [A.D. 401]).
    • Athanasius accepted the book of Baruch as part of his Old Testament (Festal Letter 39).

    • Origin accepted all of the Deuterocanonical Books; he simply recommended not using them in apologetics with Jews.
    I certainly concede that there was hesitation by some to accept the Deuterocanonical Books. However, there was significantly less controversy in their acceptance than there was in establishing the canon of the New Testament.

    Though most Protestants nowadays reject the inclusion of the Deuterocanonical Books by the Councils at Hippo and Carthage, it was those very same early Church councils that are cited by Protestants as being guided by the Holy Spirit for establishing the canon of the New Testament.

    • Hi Kirk,

      You wrote,

      ([I] am amazed at how much you are able to post.You’ve made three posts since my last response. As for me, I probably won’t be able get to the next post for another week.)

      Thank you. Sometimes I write nothing. Sometimes, I work on three or four posts at the same time. Sometimes I simply rework some discussions I have already had and turn that into posts.

      I have in fact dealt with this issue before, and it is not likely you will change my mind:
      https://wbmoore.wordpress.com/2008/08/07/why-should-the-apocrypha-books-not-be-included-in-the-bible/
      https://wbmoore.wordpress.com/2008/08/08/more-on-why-the-apocrypha-should-not-be-considered-canonical/

      However, I will try to address the points you have made.

      Regarding Luther and his view on the canonicity of certain books of the New Testament,
      I don’t necessarily hold wikipedia as trustworthy, but its a good site with a lot of references. They say this about it:

      Initially Luther had a low view of the books of Esther, Hebrews, James, Jude, and Revelation. He called the Epistle of James “an epistle of straw,” finding little in it that pointed to Christ and His saving work. He also had harsh words for the book of Revelation, saying that he could “in no way detect that the Holy Spirit produced it.”He had reason to question the apostolicity of Hebrews, James, Jude, and Revelation because the early church categorized these books as antilegomena, meaning that they were not accepted without reservation as canonical. Luther did not, however, remove them from his editions of the Scriptures, but he placed them last in order. His views on some of these books changed in later years. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luther's_canon#Hebrews.2C_James.2C_Jude_and_Revelation )

      Eusebius listed both James and Jude in his list of disputed books ( http://www.bible-researcher.com/antilegomena.html ). “Even a few Catholic scholars of the Renaissance type, notably Erasmus and Cajetan, had thrown some doubts on the canonicity of the above-mentioned Antilegomena” ( http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03274a.htm ).

      Regarding the Old Testament….

      Martin Luther did not remove the apocrypha from the Bible. He simply moved them to a different section of the Bible, with this title, “Apocrypha: These Books Are Not Held Equal to the Scriptures, but Are Useful and Good to Read” ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luther_Bible#View_of_canonicity ).

      the same thing about those books as the early church fathers said.

      The Protocanonical books of the Hebrew Bible have always been considered canonical by both the Jews and Christians.

      The apocryphal books were known but not considered by all to be canon, even by those who used the Septuagint. In fact, the Latin Vulgate, was translated from the Hebrew text where ever possible, and not the Greek ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bible_translations#Early_translations_into_Greek_and_Latin ). Jerome did not consider the Greek as trustworthy as the Hebrew and translated the Old Testament from the Hebrew. We know these were translated from the Hebrew because of St. Jerome’s Prologue to the Books of the Kings:

      This preface to the Scriptures may serve as a helmeted [i.e. defensive] introduction to all the books which we turn from Hebrew into Latin, so that we may be assured that what is outside of them must be placed aside among the Apocryphal writings. Wisdom, therefore, which generally bears the name of Solomon, and the book of Jesus the Son of Sirach, and Judith, and Tobias, and the Shepherd [of Hermes?] are not in the canon. The first book of Maccabees is found in Hebrew, but the second is Greek, as can be proved from the very style…. although I am not in the least conscious of having deviated from the Hebrew original. At all events, if you are incredulous, read the Greek and Latin manuscripts and compare them with these poor efforts of mine, and wherever you see they disagree, ask some Hebrew in whom you can have more faith, and if he confirm our view, I suppose you will not think him a soothsayer and suppose that he and I have, in rendering the same passage, divined alike.” ( http://www.bible-researcher.com/jerome.html ).

      Not only did the Hebrew version of the Old Testament not contain the apocrypha, neither did early translations of the Old Testament works. The Aramaic translation of the Old Testament, the Targums, does not have the apocryphal books.
      One of the earliest Syriac translations of Old Testament, the Peshitta, does not have them either. “Only one Jewish translation, the Greek (Septuagint), and those translations later derived from it (the Italia, the Coptic, Ethiopic, and later Syriac) contained the Apocrypha” ( http://www.probe.org/site/c.fdKEIMNsEoG/b.4225141/k.1102/The_Old_Testament_Apocrypha_Controversy.htm ).

      Also, Melito, in 170AD, put together this list of canonical books, and they did NOT include the apocrypha:

      The five books of Moses-Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; Joshua,76 Judges, Ruth, the four books of Kings, the two of Chronicles, the book of the Psalms of David, the Proverbs of Solomon, also called the Book of Wisdom, Ecclesiastes, the Song of Songs, Job, the books of the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, of the twelve contained in a single book, Daniel, Ezekiel, Esdras. From these I have made my extracts, dividing them into six books.

      Its obvious that Jerome, the translator of the Latin Vulgate did not consider the Septuagint divinely inspired – as he SAID so. He only incljuded the apocryphal books because he was asked to, but made it clear they were not canon, as is evidenced by the preface to Tobias (http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/jerome_preface_tobit.htm ). While Jerome might have referred to apocryphal works, this does not mean he considered them canon – when he explicitly stated he did not. In fact, the Catholic Encyclopedia, “Canon of the Old Testament”, stated this about Jerome and the apocrypha ( http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03267a.htm ):

      An analysis of Jerome’s expressions on the deuterocanonicals, in various letters and prefaces, yields the following results: first, he strongly doubted theirinspiration; secondly, the fact that he occasionally quotes them, and translated some of them as a concession to ecclesiastical tradition,

      “Philo (20 B.C – 50 A.D.) a Hellenistic Jew, does not mention the apocryphal additions” ( http://www.probe.org/site/c.fdKEIMNsEoG/b.4223387/k.E247/Did_the_Early_Church_Fathers_Accept_the_Apocrypha.htm ).

      Origen actually corrected the Septuagint from the Hebrew manuscripts ( http://jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=128&letter=O&search=Hexapla#374 ). Origen’s list of books in the canon (as reported by Eusebius) did not include the apocrypha (http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf201.iii.xi.xxv.html ).

      While some church fathers said people should read the septuagint, that does not mean they felt the apocrypha should be. Such was the case for Cyril of Jerusalem ” Catechetical Lectures,” iv. 33-37, about A.D. 350 ( http://www.bible-researcher.com/cyril.html ):

      Learn also diligently, and from the Church, what are the books of the Old Testament, and what those of the New. And, pray, read none of the apocryphal writings: 3 for why dost thou, who knowest not those which are acknowledged among all, trouble thyself in vain about those which are disputed? Read the Divine Scriptures, the twenty-two books of the Old Testament, these that have been translated by the Seventy-two Interpreters.

      Of these read the two and twenty books, but have nothing to do with the apocryphal writings. Study earnestly these only which we read openly in the Church. Far wiser and more pious than thyself were the Apostles, and the bishops of old time, the presidents of the Church who handed down these books. Being therefore a child of the Church, trench 6 thou not upon its statutes. And of the Old Testament, as we have said, study the two and twenty books, which, if thou art desirous of learning, strive to remember by name, as I recite them. For of the Law the books of Moses are the first five, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. And next, Joshua the son of Nave, 7 and the book of Judges, including Ruth, counted as seventh. And of the other historical books, the first and second books of the Kings 8 are among the Hebrews one book; also the third and fourth 8b one book. And in like manner, the first and second of Chronicles are with them one book; and the first and second of Esdras 8c are counted one. Esther is the twelfth book; and these are the Historical writings. But those which are written in verses are five, Job, and the book of Psalms, and Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs, which is the seventeenth book. And after these come the five Prophetic books: of the Twelve Prophets one book, of Isaiah one, of Jeremiah one, including Baruch and Lamentations and the Epistle; 9 then Ezekiel, and the Book of Daniel, the twenty-second of the Old Testament.

      The Council of Laodicia (AD 363) wrote this about the canon of the Old Testament ( http://www.bible-researcher.com/laodicea.html ):

      60. It is proper to recognize as many books as these: of the Old Testament, 1. the Genesis of the world; 2. the Exodus from Egypt; 3. Leviticus; 4. Numbers; 5. Deuteronomy; 6. Joshua the son of Nun; 7. Judges and Ruth; 8. Esther; 9. First and Second Kings [i.e. First and Second Samuel]; 10. Third and Fourth Kings [i.e. First and Second Kings]; 11. First and Second Chronicles; 12. First and Second Ezra [i.e. Ezra and Nehemiah]; 13. the book of one hundred and fifty Psalms; 14. the Proverbs of Solomon; 15. Ecclesiastes; 16. Song of Songs; 17. Job; 18. the Twelve [minor] Prophets; 19. Isaiah; 20. Jeremiah and Baruch, Lamentations and the Epistle [of Jeremiah]; 21. Ezekiel; 22. Daniel.

      Rufinus of Aquileia (340-410) was a friend of Jerome, and had this to say about the Old Testament books ( http://www.bible-researcher.com/rufinus.html ):

      Of the Old Testament, therefore, first of all there have been handed down five books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; then Joshua the son of Nun; the book of Judges together with Ruth; then four books of Kings, 2 which the Hebrews reckon two; Paralipomenon, 3 which is called the book of Days [Chronicles], and two books of Ezra, 4 which the Hebrews reckon one, and Esther; of the Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel; moreover of the Twelve [minor] Prophets, one book; Job also and the Psalms of David, each one book. Solomon gave three books to the churches, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs. These comprise the books of the Old Testament.

      And he had this to say about the apocrypha:

      38. But it should also be known that there are other books which are called not “canonical” but “ecclesiastical” by the ancients: 5 that is, the Wisdom attributed to Solomon, and another Wisdom attributed to the son of Sirach, which the Latins called by the title Ecclesiasticus, designating not the author of the book but its character. To the same class belong the book of Tobit and the book of Judith, and the books of Maccabees.

      With the New Testament there is the book which is called the Shepherd of Hermas, and that which is called The Two Ways 6 and the Judgment of Peter. 7 They were willing to have all these read in the churches but not brought forward for the confirmation of doctrine. The other writings they named “apocrypha,” 8 which they would not have read in the churches.

      I find it interesting that according to Rufinus, the apocrypha would not have been read in the churches. But this is basically the same position held by Martin Luther, as well as Athanasius and Cyril of Jerusalem, the Jews of Palestine, including Josephus, as well as Philo ( http://www.christiantruth.com/articles/Apocryphapart1.html ). In fact, we can see that Athanasius did not consider the apocrypha to be canonical ( http://www.bible-researcher.com/athanasius.html ) – with the exception of Baruch, which he combined with Jeremiah – which is interesting because he said in the same letter that “some have taken in hand to reduce into order for themselves the books termed Apocryphal, and to mix them up with the divinely inspired Scripture” ( http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf204.xxv.iii.iii.xxv.html ).

      Hilary of Poitiers (300-368) was a bishop of Poitiers in Gaul and did not count the apocrypha as part of the canon ( http://www.bible-researcher.com/hilary.html ).

      Gregory of Nazianzus (329-389) also did not include the apocrypha ( http://www.bible-researcher.com/gregory.html ).

      Amphilochius of Iconium (about A.D. 380) also did not include the apocrypha ( http://www.bible-researcher.com/amphilocius.html ).

      Epiphanius was bishop of Salamis (isle of Cyprus) from 367 to 402 did not include the apocrypha ( http://www.bible-researcher.com/epiphanius.html ).

      While some might want to claim that Josephus believed the apocrypha to be inspired, his own words deny this. I say this because he was clear in his “Against Apion” that the Jews only had 22 books which they considered divinely inspired – none of which included the apocrypha ( http://www.ccel.org/j/josephus/works/apion-1.htm#EndNote_Apion_1.8a ). Because of the different way Christians have of dividing the books of the Old Testatment, that 22 would correspond to the 39 books of the Old Testament we have today. This is what Josephus said regarding the canon:

      8. For we have not an innumerable multitude of books among us, disagreeing from and contradicting one another, [as the Greeks have,] but only twenty-two books, (8) which contain the records of all the past times; which are justly believed to be divine; and of them five belong to Moses, which contain his laws and the traditions of the origin of mankind till his death. This interval of time was little short of three thousand years; but as to the time from the death of Moses till the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, who reigned after Xerxes, the prophets, who were after Moses, wrote down what was done in their times in thirteen books. The remaining four books contain hymns to God, and precepts for the conduct of human life. It is true, our history hath been written since Artaxerxes very particularly, but hath not been esteemed of the like authority with the former by our forefathers, because there hath not been an exact succession of prophets since that time; and how firmly we have given credit to these books of our own nation is evident by what we do; for during so many ages as have already passed, no one has been so bold as either to add any thing to them, to take any thing from them, or to make any change in them; but it is become natural to all Jews immediately, and from their very birth, to esteem these books to contain Divine doctrines, and to persist in them, and, if occasion be willingly to die for them. For it is no new thing for our captives, many of them in number, and frequently in time, to be seen to endure racks and deaths of all kinds upon the theatres, that they may not be obliged to say one word against our laws and the records that contain them; whereas there are none at all among the Greeks who would undergo the least harm on that account, no, nor in case all the writings that are among them were to be destroyed; for they take them to be such discourses as are framed agreeably to the inclinations of those that write them; and they have justly the same opinion of the ancient writers, since they see some of the present generation bold enough to write about such affairs, wherein they were not present, nor had concern enough to inform themselves about them from those that knew them; examples of which may be had in this late war of ours, where some persons have written histories, and published them, without having been in the places concerned, or having been near them when the actions were done; but these men put a few things together by hearsay, and insolently abuse the world, and call these writings by the name of Histories.

      The Babylonian Talmud (http://cojs.org/cojswiki/Babylonian_Talmud_Bava_Batra_14b-15a:_The_Order_of_Scripture ) tells that the canon of the scripture does NOT include the apocrypha. This was compiled from 3rd century to 5th century ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talmud#Talmud_Bavli_.28Babylonian_Talmud.29 ).

      While some might think the Jesus has quoted the septuagint, there are no such lists which are not in disagreement. Some say He did. Others say He did not. I think its pretty safe to say He probably did. But even if He DID quote the Septuagint, this does not mean He considered all the books in it as scripture. The reason is that Jesus said, “this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah” (Luke 11:50-51, cp Matthew 23:35), thus referring to the first and last martyrs of the Old Testament. The first martyr of the Old Testament, of course, was Abel (Genesis 4:8 ) and the last martyr was Zechariah (2 Chronicles 24:20-21). Since Chronicles is placed at the end of the Hebrew Bible, Jesus was giving evidence of the books of the Old Testament He considered canon. Jesus also spoke of “the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms” in Luke 24:44. So Jesus gave evidence of the contents of the canon of the Old Testament, and it did not include the apocrypha. Also, Paul said that the Jews were “entrusted with the very words of God” (Romans 3:1-2) ( http://www.bibletopics.com/biblestudy/50.htm ).

      I dont agree that Hebrews 11:35 was necessarily referencing 2 Macabees 7. It may have been or may not have been – certainly no one received back their dead by resurrection in that book. Yes, people were tortured and killed and chose to not violate God’s law in 2 Macabees 7 – but this was not uncommon for faithful Jews even in the times of Daniel and in the time of Jesus – as is evidenced by what Josephus said. But it seems to me that receiving back their dead from resurrection would be people like the woman whose son was brought back to life by Elisha (2 Kings 4:18-37), or Jairus’ and his wife’s daughter being brought back to life (Luke 8:30-56). Much of what is spoken of in verses 35-38 speaks of people who had been living in New Testament times. Nothing makes it clear that Hebrew 11:35 is a reference to 2 Macabees.

      It is obvious from looking at the earliest translations of the Old Testament that the Jews did not consider the apocrypha to be inspired LONG before the hypothetical Council of Jamina. I say hypothetical because there is little evidence that such a council actually occurred ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Council_of_Jamnia ).

      It is easy to see that Jerome was NOT backing down on his belief that the apocrypha were not part of the canon, if one actually reads the “Against Rufinus” ( http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf203.vi.xii.ii.xxvii.html?highlight=story%20of%20susanna#highlight ).

      Yes, some people considered the apocrypha books on the same level as the canonical books. But many church fathers did not. But even so, they were considered useful and good to read.

  8. […] Comments wbmoore on Difference between a consuming and a refining fireKirk Hansen on Difference between a consuming and a refining firewbmoore on Difference between […]

  9. I realize this thread is old, but Kirk Hansen said, “the New Testament writers favor the LXX over the Hebrew Scriptures;.” Of course they did, the overwhelming majority of the Christian Population in the first two centuries were Jewish Christians of the Diaspora who spoke Greek, not Hebrew or Aramaic. (See Rodney Starke who estimates if only a small percentage (~10%?) of the Jews were Christian it would account for almost all of the earliest Christians.) Jack Miles in his book, A biography of God discusses this point at length in his end notes. The LXX was a miraculous book for the Jews of the Diaspora, of uncertain origin, and I believe they did treat it as essential scripture written in their tongue.

    Many (Christian) seminaries rely upon LXX for OT interpretation and look at it as a highly valuable text. The “canon” is only at best about 500 years old in the Protestant perspective, and carries with it all the baggage, both good and bad, of being a creedal definition that preceded the scientific era; hence the fundamentalist/liberal split.

    Personally I believe all the older creedal definitions that defined the Christian canon are too closely tied into the Catholic-Reformation battles of the 1500’s and must be read in that pre-scientific context. We have to rely on tradition but as soon as we do, we are bound to start arguing. Unless we acknowledge creeds are of secondary interpretive importance to defend or clarify a historical matter we are bound to say the creeds create more Scripture. Do we want to go there? Inescapably, the definition of the canon remains a human thing as does its interpretation, guided by the HS. (There was debate into the 2cd, maybe 3rd Century about the provenance of James.)

    As for Jesus quoting Scripture, technically was there a “Hebrew Bible” in Christ’s time? There were scrolls of the Pentatuch/Torah, the prophets and the writings (See Jean-Luc Ska, and Josephus, for example.) The LXX appears some where in the 200 BCE time and often scrolls of the HB differ significantly from those in LXX. I have read that the Jewish Canon was formalized much later, perhaps well into the Christian Era. It is certainly true Paul (a known Jew), the writers of Luke and others used allusions to these scrolls either directly or paraphrased, e.g., Luke 4:16-21 vs Is 61:1-2. Books certainly appeared only with the emergence of the NT collections.

    On an other note,

    As WB says, if you read the whole section of Luke 12 (vv49-56) and Luke 3:16,(and parallel Matt verses) this purification by fire suggests the action of the Holy Spirit as our justification, or being reckoned righteous and having our sin erased. After all, we are all sinners, and while some may resist the gift, once purified, or justified (by the fire of the HS??), one might say purgatory is simply the life of sanctification that one leads afterwards. Luke 12:49 suggests Jesus, with the cross looming in his future, wants it (purification) to happen NOW. Isn’t that a humanly realistic urge, as well as one of a loving God bringing his children/sheep home? I can’t see any justification of a classical purgatory following bodily death in WB’s interpretation.

    Sorry for the long wind.

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