Introduction to the New Testament (1915) [Chapter 3]

[Articles in the Summed Up series are intended to be summaries of chapters of selected theological books. The author(s) will be quoted verbatim for the purposes of ensuring accurate representation]

The Gospel of Mark


A) About the author of the chapter:

Louis Berkhof “graduated from Calvin Theological Seminary in 1900 …

In 1902 he went to Princeton University for two years earning a B.D. degree …

In 1906 he was appointed to the faculty of Calvin Theological Seminary. He assumed the presidency of the seminary in 1931 …” [1]


B) Chapter Summary:

i) Contents

“We  may  divide  the  contents  of  Mark’s  Gospel,  that  treats  of  Christ  as  the  mighty Worker,  into  five  parts:

I. The Advent  of  the  mighty  Worker, 1:1 — 2:12 …

II. The Conflict  of  the  mighty  Worker, 2:12 — 8:26 …

III. The  Claim  of  the  mighty  Worker, 8:27 — 13:37 …

IV. The Sacrifice  of  the  mighty  Worker, 14:1—15:47 …

V. The mighty  Worker  as  Conqueror  of  Death, 16:1-20.”[1]

ii) Characteristics

“The  most  striking  peculiarity  of  the  second  Gospel  is  its  descriptive  character.  It  is Marks  constant  aim  to  picture  the  scenes  of  which  he  speaks  in  lively  colours.”[2]

e.g. the  look  of  anger  that  Christ  cast  on  the hypocrites  about  him,  3:5;  Jesus  taking little  children  in  his  arms and  blessing  them,  9:36;  10:16;  Jesus,  looking  at  the young  ruler,  loved  him,  10:21

“This  Gospel  contains  comparatively  little  of  the  teaching  of  Jesus;  it  rather  brings  out the  greatness  of  our  Lord  by  pointing  to  his  mighty  works,  and  in  doing  this  does  not  follow the  exact  chronological  order …

Mark,  though  considerably  smaller  than  Matthew,  contains  all the  miracles  narrated  by  the  latter  except  five,  and  besides  has  three  that  are  not  found  in Matthew.  Of  the  eighteen  miracles  in  Luke,  Mark  has  twelve  and  four  others  above  this number.”[3]

“In  the  Gospel  of  Mark  several  words  of  Christ  that  were  directed  against  the  Jews  are left  out,  such  as  we  find  in  Mt.  3:  7-10;  8:  5-13;  15:  24,  etc.  On  the  other  hand  more  Jewish customs  and  Aramaic  words  are  explained  than  in  the  first  Gospel,  f.  i.  2:18;  7:3;  14:12;  15:6, 42;  3:17;  5:41;  7:11,  34;  14:  36.  The  argument  from  prophecy  has  not  the  large  place  here that  it  has  in  Matthew.”[4]

“The  style  of  Mark  is  more  lively  than  that  of  Matthew,  though  not  as  smooth.  He  delights  in  using  words  like  εὐθύς or  εὐθέως and  πολύς prefers  the  use  of  the  present  and  the imperfect  to  that  of  the  aorist,  and  often  uses  the  periphrastic  εἶναι with  a  participle  instead of  the  finite  verb.  There  are  several  Latinisms  found  in  his  Gospel,  as  κεντυρίων,κορδάντης, κράββατος,πραιτώριον,  σπεκουλάτωρ and  φραγελλοῦν.”[5]

iii) Authorship

“Just  as  in  the  case  of  Matthew  we  are  entirely  dependent  on  external  testimony  for  the name  of  the  author  of  the  second  Gospel.”[6]

“… the  voice  of  antiquity  is  unanimous  in ascribing  it  to  Mark.  The  most  ancient  testimony  to  this  effect  is  that  of  Papias,  who  says: “Mark,  the  interpreter  of  Peter,  wrote  down  carefully  all  that  he  recollected,  though  he  did not  [record]  in  order  that  which  was  either  said  or  done  by  Christ.  For  he  neither  heard  the Lord  nor  followed  him;  but  subsequently,  as  I  have  said,  [attached  himself  to]  Peter,  who used  to  frame  his  teaching  to  meet  the  [immediate]  wants  [of  his  hearers]  ;  and  not  as making  a  connected  narrative  of  the  Lords  discourses.  So  Mark  committed  no  error,  as  he wrote  down  some  particulars  just  as  he  called  them  to  mind.  For  he  took  heed  to  one thing—to  omit  none  of  the  facts  that  he  heard,  and  to  state  nothing  falsely  in  [his  narrative] of  them.”  Several  other  church  fathers,  such  as  Irenaeus,  Clement  of  Alexandria,  Tertullian, Origen,  Jerome,  Eusebius,  e. a.,  follow  in  his  wake;  there  is  not  a  dissentient  voice.”[7]

“After  the  death  of  Peter  he [i.e. Mark]  is  said  to  have  visited  Alexandria,  where  he  was  the  first  to  found  Christian  churches,  and  finally  died  a  martyrs  death. This  tradition,  though  old,  is  not  without  suspicion.”[8]

Daniel Seely Gregory: “[Mark was] like  Peter  more  a  man  of  action  than  of  deep  and  abiding principle,  a  man  of  fervor  and  enthusiasm  rather  than  of  persevering  effort;  but  he  was transfused  by  the  power  of  the  same  Christ  who  transfused  Peter  into  the  man  of  rapid, continued  and  effective  effort  in  the  missionary  work  of  the  Church.”[9]

“Papias  says  that  “Mark was  Peters  interpreter  and  wrote  down  carefully  all  that  he  recollected.”  Clement  of  Alexandria  also  says  that  he  wrote  down  the  discourses  of  Peter,  as  he  remembered  them.  Irenaeus, Tertullian  and  Jerome  all  style  Mark  “the  interpreter  of  Peter.”  Tertullian  even  says  that  “the Gospel  published  by  Mark  may  be  reckoned  Peter’s,  whose  interpreter  he  was.”  And  Origen still  stronger:  “Mark  wrote  his  Gospel  according  to  the  dictates  of  Peter.”  Similarly  Athanasius.  All  these  testimonies  agree  in  asserting  that  Mark  was  dependent  on  Peter  in  writing his  Gospel;  they  disagree,  however,  as  to  the  degree  of  dependence,  some  claiming  merely that  Mark  recorded  what  he  remembered  of  Peters  preaching,  and  others,  that  he  wrote what  Peter  dictated.”[10]

“The  Gospel  itself  incidentally  testifies  to  the  relation  in  which  it  stands  to  Peter.  There are  many  touches  that  indicate  first-hand  knowledge,  as  in  1:16-20;  1:29;  9:5; 15:54,  72;  16: 7.  Some  things  found  in  the  other  Synoptics  are  unexpectedly  omitted  by  Mark,  as  Peters walking  on  the  water,  Mt.  14:  29;  his  appearance  in  the  incident  of  the  tribute  money,  Mt. 17:  24-27;  the  statement  of  Christ  that  He  prayed  for  Peter  individually,  Lk.  22: 32;  the  significant  word  spoken  to  him  as  the  Rock,  Mt.  16:18.  In  other  cases  his  name  is  suppressed, where  it  is  used  by  Matthew  or  Luke,  as  7:17  cf.  Mt.  15: 15;  14:13  cf.  Lk.  22:8.”[11]

Continue reading “Introduction to the New Testament (1915) [Chapter 3]”

The Literature of the Old Testament (1913) [Chapter 3]

[Articles in the Summed Up series are intended to be summaries of chapters of selected theological books. The author(s) will be quoted verbatim for the purposes of ensuring accurate representation]

The Pentateuch


A) About the author of the chapter:

George Foot Moore “graduated from Yale College in 1872 and from Union Theological Seminary in 1877, in 1878 Moore was ordained in the Presbyterian ministry and until 1883 was pastor of the Putnam Presbyterian Church, Zanesville, Ohio.

He was Hitchcock professor of the Hebrew language and literature at Andover Theological Seminary, 1883–1902. In 1902 he became professor of theology and in 1904 professor of the history of religion at Harvard University.” [1]


B) Chapter Summary:

“The Old Testament begins with a comprehensive historical work, reaching from the creation of the world to the fall of the kingdom of Judah (586 B.C.), which in the Hebrew Bible is divided into nine books (Genesis-Kings). The Jews made a greater division at the end of the fifth book (Deuteronomy) and treated the first five books (the Pentateuch) as a unit, with a character and name of its own, the Law.”[1]

“The names of the several books in our Bibles are derived from the Greek version, and indicate in a general way the subject of the book, or, more exactly, the subject with which it begins: Genesis, the creation of the world; Exodus, the escape from Egypt; Leviticus, the priests’ book; Numbers, the census of the tribes; Deuteronomy, the second legislation, or the recapitulation of the law.”[2]

“The three middle books of the Pentateuch (Exodus-Numbers) are more closely connected with one another than with the preceding and following books (Genesis, Deuteronomy); in fact, they form a whole which is only for convenience in handling divided into parts. In these books narrative and legislation are somewhat unequally represented. Exod. 1-19 is almost all narrative, as are also c. 24, and cc. 32-34; the story is picked up again in Num. 10, what lies between is wholly legislative; in Num. 10-27, 28-36, narrative and laws alternate, the latter predominating. It is evident that from the author’s point of view the narrative was primarily a historical setting for the Mosaic legislation.”[3]

“Deuteronomy begins with a brief retrospect (Deut. 1-3) of the movements of the Israelites from the time they left the Mount of God till they arrived in the Plains of Moab, the lifetime of a whole generation. There, as they are about to cross the Jordan to possess the Land of Promise, Moses delivers to them the law which they shall observe in the land, and with many exhortations and warnings urges them to be faithful to their religion with its distinctive worship and morals. Thus Deuteronomy also presents itself essentially as legislation.”[4]

“The history of the Israelite tribes opens with the account of the oppression in Egypt, the introduction to the story of deliverance. Its antecedents are found in the Book of Genesis, the migration of Jacob and his sons from Palestine to Egypt several generations earlier in a time of famine; and this in turn is but the last chapter in the patriarchal story which begins with the migration of Abraham from Syria or Babylonia to Palestine.”[5]

“Gen. 1-11 tells of creation and first men; the great flood; the dispersion of the peoples, with a genealogical table showing the affinities of the several races and another tracing the descent of Abraham in direct line from Shem the son of Noah. But even in Genesis the interest in the law manifests itself in various ways, such as the sanction of the sabbath, the prohibition of blood, and the introduction of circumcision.”[6]

“In regarding the whole Pentateuch as Law, or, to express it more accurately, as a revelation of the principles and observances of religion, the Jews were, therefore, doing no violence to the character and spirit of these books; and in ascribing them to Moses they were only extending to the whole the authorship which is asserted in particular of many of the laws, and especially of the impressive exhortations in Deuteronomy which form the climactic close of his work as a legislator.”[7]

[1] pp.29-30

[2] p.30

[3] Ibid.

[4] pp.30-31

[5] p.31

[6] Ibid.

[7] pp.31-32

C) Chapter Review:

  • Readability: 7/10
  • Theological depth: 5/10
  • Any other comments: Interestingly enough, George Foot Moore did not touch on the different theories regarding the authorship of the Pentateuch. The chapter, just like the previous one, was really short & found wanting content wise.


Daniel 1-2



  • Dan 1:1-2 – Nebuchadnezzar conquers Jerusalem

David Guzik: “There is also no contradiction between Daniel, who says this happened in the third year of Jehoiakim, and Jeremiah 46:2, which says it was in the fourth year of Jehoiakim. Daniel reckoned a king’s years after the Babylonian method: the first year of a king’s reign begins at the start of the calendar year after he takes the throne. Jeremiah uses the Jewish method.

“It was customary for the Babylonians to consider the first year of a king’s reign as the year of accession and to call the next year the first year … Having spent most of his life in Babylon, it is only natural that Daniel should use a Babylonian form of chronology.” (Walvoord)”[3]

Zdravko Stefanovic: “The three major Babylonian invasions can be summarized as follows:

605 B.C. Members of the royal family and nobility, including Daniel and his friends were led to Babylon (2 Kings 24:1, 2; 2 Chron. 36:5-7).

597 B.C. King Jehoiachin, princes, and priests, including the prophet Ezekiel, were taken to Babylon (2 Kings 24:10-14; 2 Chron. 36:10).

586 B.C. King Zedekiah and all the remaining people other than the poor were exiled to Babylon (2 Kings 25:1-21; 2 Chron. 36:17-20).”[4]

Mark Copeland: “Daniel was contemporary with Jeremiah and Ezekiel

Jeremiah prophesied in Jerusalem before and during the Babylonian exile (626-528 B.C.)

Ezekiel prophesied in Babylon among the exiles (592-570 B.C.)

Daniel prophesied in the capital of Babylon (605-586 B.C.)”[5]

Gene Taylor: “[Babylon] was also called “Shinar.” (Gen. 10:10; 11:2; Isa. 11:11) … and was later called “the land of the Chaldeans.” (Jer. 24:4; Ezek. 12:13).”[6]

Babylon’s system of indoctrination

Dan 1:3-4 – The best and the brightest of Jerusalem’s young men are chosen and taken to Babylon

Zdravko Stefanovic: “Daniel was one of the captives who were led from Jerusalem to Babylon. He and his friends were most probably between fifteen and eighteen years old when they were taken there.”[7]

Dan 1:5-7 – In Babylon, the Hebrew youths are groomed for the civil service

AIA Devotionals: “The conscious goal of the Babylonian captivity was cultural assimilation (making Jews think/act like Babylonians)”[8]

“…Daniel and his three friends also received new legal names that reflected the worldview Babylon wanted them to adopt. For example, in Hebrew the name Daniel means “God is my judge,” but Belteshazzar means “may a god protect his life” or “Goddess, protect the king” (vv. 6–7).”[9]

i) Hananiah: “Yahweh is gracious/merciful.”[10] became Shadrach: “The Command of [Aku].”

ii) Mishael: “Who is what God is!” (probable) became Meshach: “Who is What Aku Is?”

iii) Azariah: “Yahweh has helped.” became Abednego: “the servant of [the god] Nebo”[11]

Dan 1:8 – Daniel’s decision to be faithful

Zdravko Stefanovic: “As to why the young men decided to abstain from the rich royal food, scholars have put forward three proposals: dietary, political, and religious. The dietary reason had to do with the Mosaic prohibition against eating unclean animals and eating clean animals whose blood was not drained when slaughtered. The political reason had to do with the culture of the Bible: Eating with a person meant making an alliance or a covenant with that person. The religious reason may have been belief of the four Hebrews that no earthly king but only the God in heaven should be given credit for one’s success in life … The term choice food is consistently followed by the words “the king” to stress the fact that the king provided for the young men’s needs while they were in training. In other words, the young men were made “the king’s pensioners.””[12]

David Guzik: “Why did Daniel and his friends consider the king’s food defiled? First, it undoubtedly was not kosher. Second, it was probably sacrificed to idols. Third, it implied fellowship with Babylon’s cultural system.”[13]

The results of Daniel’s courageous decision

Dan 1:9 – God gives Daniel favor and goodwill with the authorities.

Dan 1:10-13 – Daniel suggests a plan

Dan 1:14-16 – Daniel and his companions are blessed for their faithfulness

Dan 1:17-21 – Daniel and his companions are blessed and promoted


Nebuchadnezzar’s dream

Dan 2:1 – The troubling dream

Dan 2:2-9 – Nebuchadnezzar demands to know the dream and its interpretation from his wise men

Dan 2:10-11 – The wise men explain the impossibility of Nebuchadnezzar’s request

Dan 2:12-13 – A furious Nebuchadnezzar sentences all his wise men to death

God reveals the dream to Daniel

Dan 2:14-16 – Daniel reacts to Nebuchadnezzar’s decree by asking for a brief extension

Dan 2:17-18 – Daniel asks his companions for prayer

Dan 2:20-23 – Daniel praises God for this revelation

The dream of Nebuchadnezzar and its interpretation

Dan 2:24-30 – Daniel is ushered into the king’s presence, and gives glory to God for revealing the dream

Dan 2:31-35 – Daniel describes Nebuchadnezzar’s dream

Dan 2:36-45 – The interpretation of the dream

J. Vernon McGee:

i) Babylon – head of gold

ii) Medo-Persia – chest & arms of silver

iii) Greece – belly and thighs of bronze / sides of brass

iv) Rome – legs of iron, with feet mixed with iron & clay[14]

Dan 2:46-49 – Nebuchadnezzar’s reaction to Daniel’s reporting of the dream and its interpretation

What can we learn from Daniel 1-2?

Daniel remained faithful to God when it seemed as though God was not faithful to him (1:1-4)

Daniel looked for God’s favour above man’s favour (1:4)

Daniel was persistent (1:8-11):

First – asked commander of the officials;

Second – asked overseer appointed by commander of the officials

Daniel was courteous in pursuing his convictions (1:12)

God is always in control (1:2, 9, 17)[1]

Daniel understood the importance of prayer (2:17-18)

Daniel had faithful friends alongside him (2:17)

It is by the will of God that kings are raised or deposed (2:21)

Daniel understood the importance of giving thanks to God (2:19-23)

Daniel was a witness for God (2:27-28, 47)

The kingdoms of men will result in destruction but the kingdom of God under the rule of the Messiah will result in glory (2:44-45)


Zdravko Stefanovic: “… in the story of chapter 2, Daniel is portrayed as a model of wisdom (Dan. 2:14), prayer (2:18), praise (vv. 19-23), and witness (vv. 27-28).”[15]

Thomas Nelson: “Daniel is one of the few well-known biblical characters about whom nothing negative is written. His life was characterized by faith, prayer, courage, consistency, and lack of compromise. This ‘greatly beloved’ man (9:23; 10:11, 19) was mentioned three times by his sixth-century B.C. contemporary Ezekiel as an example of righteousness.”[16]


[1] Thomas Nelson, Nelson’s Complete Book of Bible Maps & Charts (2010), p.236: “The theme of God’s sovereign control in the affairs of world history clearly emerges and provides comfort to the future church, as well as to the Jews whose nation was destroyed by the Babylonians. The Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans will come and go, but God will establish His kingdom through His redeemed people forever.”

[2] William S. Deal, Baker’s Pictorial Introduction to the Bible (1967), p.200: “That Daniel is the author of this book has been received both by the Jews and the Christian church throughout the centuries”; see also Thomas Nelson, Nelson’s Complete Book of Bible Maps & Charts (2010), p.233: “Daniel claimed to write this book (12:4), and he used the autobiographical first person from 7:2 onward. The Jewish Talmud agrees with this testimony, and Christ attributed a quote from 9:27 to ‘Daniel the prophet’ (Matt. 24:15).”

[3] David Guzik, “Study Guide for Daniel 1.” Blue Letter Bible. Accessed December 14, 2017.

[4] Zdravko Stefanovic, Daniel: Wisdom to the Wise : Commentary on the Book of Daniel (2007), p.49

[5] Mark Copeland, “Sermons from Daniel” (2002), p.3

[6] Gene Taylor, “A Study in the Book of Daniel” (1998), p.11

[7] Zdravko Stefanovic, Daniel: Wisdom to the Wise : Commentary on the Book of Daniel (2007), pp.16-17; see also p.52: “The expression …, “young men,” [in Daniel 1:4] means that the youth were in their adolescent years (Gen. 37:30).”

[8] “Daniel 1 Living By Identity in a Secular World.” AIA Devotionals. Accessed December 1, 2017.

[9] “In the Court of a Pagan King.” Ligonier Ministries. Accessed December 1, 2017.

[10] Zdravko Stefanovic, Daniel: Wisdom to the Wise : Commentary on the Book of Daniel (2007), p.56

[11] Zdravko Stefanovic, Daniel: Wisdom to the Wise : Commentary on the Book of Daniel (2007), p.57; see also David Guzik, “Study Guide for Daniel 1.” Blue Letter Bible. Accessed December 15, 2017. “Abed-Nego (meaning Servant of Nego).”

[12] Zdravko Stefanovic, Daniel: Wisdom to the Wise : Commentary on the Book of Daniel (2007), pp.57-58; see also David Guzik, “Study Guide for Daniel 1.” Blue Letter Bible. Accessed December 15, 2017. “”By eastern standards to share a meal was to commit one’s self to friendship; it was of covenant significance.” (Baldwin)”

[13] David Guzik, “Study Guide for Daniel 1.” Blue Letter Bible. Accessed December 15, 2017.

[14] J. Vernon McGee, “Notes & Outlines Daniel.” Thru the Bible. Accessed December 16, 2017.

[15] Zdravko Stefanovic, Daniel: Wisdom to the Wise : Commentary on the Book of Daniel (2007), p.95

[16] Thomas Nelson, Nelson’s Complete Book of Bible Maps & Charts (2010), p.233

Introduction to the New Testament (1915) [Chapter 2]

[Articles in the Summed Up series are intended to be summaries of chapters of selected theological books. The author(s) will be quoted verbatim for the purposes of ensuring accurate representation]

The Gospel of Matthew


A) About the author of the chapter:

Louis Berkhof “graduated from Calvin Theological Seminary in 1900 …

In 1902 he went to Princeton University for two years earning a B.D. degree …

In 1906 he was appointed to the faculty of Calvin Theological Seminary. He assumed the presidency of the seminary in 1931 …” [1]


B) Chapter Summary:

i) Contents

“The  Gospel  of  Matthew  may  be  divided  into  five  parts:

The Advent  of  the  Messiah, 1:1 – 4:11 …

The Public  proclamation  of  Messiah’s  Kingdom, 4:12 – 16:12 …

The  Distinct  and  Public  Claim  of  Messiahship, 16:13 – 23:39 …

The Sacrifice  of  Messiah  the  Priest, 24:1 – 27:66 …

The Triumph  of  Messiah  the  Saviour  and  King.”[1]

ii) Characteristics

“As  to form  we  find,  in  the  first  place,  a  characteristically  Jewish  numerical  arrangement of  things  in  this  Gospel.  The  genealogy  in  ch.  1  consists  of  three  groups  of  generations  of fourteen  each.  There  are  seven  beatitudes  ch.  5;  seven  petitions  in  the  Lord’s  prayer  ch.  6;  a group  of  seven  parables  ch.  13;  and  seven  woes  on  Pharisees  and  Scribes  ch.  23.”[2]

“As  to  the style  of  Matthew,  in  the  second  place,  may  be  said  that  it  is  smoother  than  that  of  Mark, though  not  so  vivid.  But  it  is  tinged  with  Hebraisms,  less  indeed  than  the  language  of  Luke, but  more  than  that  of  Mark.  It  is  rather  impersonal,  lacking  in  individuality.”[3]

“The  arrangement  of  the  material  in  this  Gospel  also  differs  considerably  from  that  in the  other  Synoptics.  The  narrative  is  not  continuous,  but  is  interrupted  by  five  great  discourses,  such  as  are  not  found  in  the  Gospels  of  Mark  and  Luke,  viz,  the  Sermon  on  the Mount,  chs.  5-7;  the  charge  to  the  apostles,  ch.  10;  the  parables  of  the  Kingdom,  ch.  13;  the discourse  on  the  church,  ch.  18;  and  the  final  eschatological  discourses  of  Christ  on  the  last judgment,  chs.  23-25.  After  every  one  of  these  discourses  we  find  the  words:  “And  it  came to  pass,  when  Jesus  had  ended  (made  an  end  of,  finished)  these  sayings,  etc.””[4]

“As  to  contents  the  following  peculiarities  deserve  our  attention:  In  the  first  place  the Gospel  of  Matthew  has  a  more  Jewish  aspect,  than  the  other  Synoptics.  Its  predominant subject  is,  the  Messiah  and  his  Kingdom …

In  the  second  place  the  first  Gospel  alludes to  the  Old  Testament  more  frequently  than  any  other:  It  emphasizes  the  fact  that  the  New Testament  reveals  the  fulfilment  of  Old  Testament  promises;  that  Christ  was  born,  revealed himself  and  labored  as  the  prophets  of  old  had  foretold.  Matthew  contains  more  than  40 quotations,  while  Mark  has  21  and  Luke,  22.”[5]

iii) Authorship

“The  superscription  ascribes  the  first  Gospel  to  Matthew.  That  this  embodies  the  opinion of  the  early  Church  is  evident  from  the  testimony  of  Irenaeus,  Tertullian,  Origen,  Eusebius and  several  others,  who  all  point  to  Matthew  as  the  author.”[6]

“The  Gospel  itself  shows  unmistakably,  by  its  Jewish  physiognomy,  that  its  author  was  a  Jew,  yea  even  that  he  was  a Palestinian  Jew,  for  he  quotes  from  the  Hebrew  and  not  from  the  Septuagint.”[7]

“It  contains  no direct  evidence,  however  to  the  authorship  of  Matthew,  though  there  are  a  couple  points  of difference  between  it  and  the  other  Synoptics  that  are  best  explained  on  the  assumption  that Matthew  wrote  it.  When  we  compare  the  lists  of  the  twelve  apostles  in  Mt.  10:2-4;  Mk.  3: 16-19;  and  Luke  6:14-  16,  we  notice  that  only  in  the  first  Gospel  the  name  Matthew  is  followed by  the  less  honorable  qualification  “the  publican  ;”  and  that  it  has  the  order,  “Thomas  and Matthew”  instead  of,  “Matthew  and  Thomas.’”[8]

“Our  information  regarding  Matthew  is  very  scanty.  We  read  of  him  first  in  connection with  the  call  to  follow  Jesus,  Mt.  9:  9,  10;  Mk.  2:14,  15;  Lk.  5 :  27-29.  There  is  no  reason  to doubt  that  the  Matthew  of  the  first  Gospel  is  the  Levi  of  the  second  and  third.  Possibly  his name  was  changed  by  the  Lord  after  his  call  to  the  discipleship,  just  as  those  of  Peter  and Paul.”[9]

“A  veil  of  obscurity  is  cast  over  the  apostolic career  of  Matthew.  Tradition  has  it  that  he  remained  at  Jerusalem  with  the  other  apostles for  about  twelve  years  after  the  death  of  the  Lord,  laboring  among  his  fellow-countrymen. When  the  work  was  done,  it  is  said,  he  preached  the  Gospel  to  others,  according  to  the popular  opinion  in  Ethiopia.  He  probably  died  a  natural  death.”[10]

iv) Composition

“A  hotly  debated  question  is  that  regarding  the  language  in  which Matthew  originally  wrote  his  Gospel.  The  difficulty  of  the  problem  arises  from  the  fact  that external  testimony  and  internal  evidence  seem  to  disagree.  As  a  result  the  camp  is  very  much divided,  some  scholars  ardently  defending  a  Hebrew,  others  with  equal  zeal  a  Greek  original.”[11]

“… evidence  both  external  and  internal  has  given  rise  to  several  theories,  which  we  can  briefly  state  in  the  following  manner:

(1.)  Matthew  wrote  his  Gospel  in  Hebrew  and  someone  else  translated  it  into Greek.  This  position  was  held  by  the  Church  in  general  until  the  time  of  the  Reformation. Since  then  several  Protestant  scholars  took  another  view,  because  Rome  defended  the  ultimate authority  of  the  Vulgate  by  pointing  out  that  the  Greek  Matthew  was  also  merely  a  translation. The  attacks  of  Rationalism  on  the  so-called  second-hand  Matthew,  and  the  dubious  character of  a  part  of  the  ancient  testimony,  also  served  to  bring  this  theory  into  discredit …

(2.)  There  never  was  a  Hebrew  original,  but  Matthew  wrote  his  Gospel  in  the  Greek language.  The  present  gospel  is  not  a  translation,  but  an  original  work …

(3.)  Matthew  wrote  neither  a  Hebrew  nor  a  Greek  Gospel,  but,  if  anything,  a  work  called the  λόγια by  Papias,  which  must  have  been  a  collection  of  the  sayings  or  discourses  of  the Lord.  According  to  some  these  λόγια are  lost,  but  must  probably  be  identified  with  one  of the  supposed  sources  (Q)  of  our  present  Gospels.  Others  as  Godet  and  Holdsworth  believe that  the  work  contained  the  discourses  that  we  find  in  the  Gospel  of  Matthew  and  was therefore  incorporated  bodily  in  our  present  Gospel.

(4.)  The  evangelist  after  writing  his  Gospel  in  Hebrew  with  a  view  to  his  countrymen, possibly  when  he  had  left  Palestine  to  labor  elsewhere,  translated  or  rather  furnished  a  new recension  of  his  Gospel  in  the  Greek  language  with  a  view  to  the  Jews  of  the  Diaspora.  The former  was  soon  lost  and  altogether  replaced  by  the  latter.”[12]

“The  Gospel  of  Matthew  was  undoubtedly  destined  for  the  Jews. This  is  expressly  stated  by  Irenaeus,  Origen,  Eusebius,  Gregory  Nazianzen,  e. a.  This  testimony is  corroborated  by  internal  evidence.  The  genealogy  of  Jesus  goes  back  only  to  Abraham, the  father  of  the  Hebrew  race;  and  in  harmony  with  the  tenets  of  the  Jews  the  Messiahship of  Christ  is  proved  from  the  prophets.  The  whole  Gospel  impresses  one  as  being  occasioned by  the  exigencies  of  the  Jews  both  in  Palestine  and  without.”[13]

“Irenaeus  makes  a  very definite  statement,  viz.:  “Matthew  among  the  Hebrews  published  a  Gospel  in  their  own language,  while  Peter  and  Paul  were  preaching  the  Gospel  at  Rome  and  founding  a  church there.”  This  must  have  been  somewhere  between  63-67  A.  D.”[14]

“The  dates  assigned  to  this  Gospel  by  rationalistic  critics  range  from about  70  to  125  A.  D.”[15]

“The  question  arises,  whether  Matthew  used  sources  in  the  composition  of his  Gospel.  The  prevalent  opinion  at  present  is  that  the  writer  of  this  Gospel,  whoever  he may  have  been,  drew  in  the  main  on  two  sources,  viz,  on  the  λόγια of  Matthew  for  the  discourses  of  the  Lord,  and  on  the  Gospel  of  Mark  for  the  narrative  portion  of  his  work …

Against  these  see  Davidson  and  Salmon.  Zahn’s  opinion  is  that  Mark  employed  the  Hebrew  Matthew  in  the  composition  of his  Gospel,  and  that  the  writer  of  our  Greek  Matthew  in  turn  used  the  Gospel  of  Mark.”[16]

“All  we  can  say  is  (1)  that  in  all  probability  the  Hebrew  Matthew  depended  on  oral tradition  only;  (2)  that  our  Greek  Matthew  is  based  on  the  Hebrew;  and  (3)  that  it  is  not impossible  that  Matthew  had  read  the  Gospel  of  Mark  before  he  composed  the  present Greek  Gospel.”[17]

v) Canonical Significance

“This [i.e. traces  of  the Gospel of Matthew’s  use,  especially  of  the  Sermon  on  the  Mount  in  the  Didache, and the Gospel of Matthew being clearly  quoted  in  the  Epistle  of  Barnabas] proves  that  the  Gospel  was  used  and  recognized  as  canonical in  the  early  part  of  the  second  century.”[18]

“Further  it  is  abundantly  testified  to  until  the  beginning of  the  third  century,  when  all  controversy  ceases,  there  being  up  to  that  time  altogether  21 witnesses,  so  that  this  Gospel  is  one  of  the  best  attested  books  in  the  New  Testament.  Among these  witnesses  are  the  old  Latin  and  Syriac  Versions  that  contain  this  Gospel;  early  church fathers  that  refer  to  it  as  authoritative  or  quote  it;  and  heretics  who,  even  while  attacking the  truth,  tacitly  admit  the  canonical  character  of  the  Gospel.”[19]

“This  book  is  properly  placed  at  the  very  beginning  of  the  New  Testament.  It  forms  part of  the  foundation  on  which  the  New  Testament  structure  was  to  be  reared.  And  among  the Gospels,  which  together  constitute  this  foundation,  it  is  rightly  put  in  the  first  place.  It  is, as  it  were,  a  connecting  link  between  the  Old  Testament  and  the  New.  As  the  Old  Testament had  reference  to  the  Jews  only,  so  the  Gospel  of  Matthew  is  written  for  the  old  covenant people.  And  it  is  clearly  linked  to  the  Old  Testament  by  its  continual  reference  to  the prophets.”[20]

“The  permanent  spiritual  value  of  this  Gospel  is  that  it  sets  forth  in  clear  outline Christ  as  the  One  promised  of  old;  and,  in  harmony  with  the  prophetic  literature,  especially as  the  great  divine  King,  before  whom  the  Church  of  all  ages  must  bow  down  in  adoration.”[21]

[1] pp.37-38

[2] p.38

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] pp.38-39

[6] p.39

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] p.40

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] pp.41-42

[13] p.43

[14] p.44

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid.

[17] p.45

[18] Ibid.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Ibid.

C) Chapter Review:

  • Readability: 9/10
  • Theological depth: 8/10
  • Any other comments: Louis Berkhof’s summary of the different positions out there re the composition of Matthew is very helpful. It gives the reader just enough information & if the reader is curious to know more, he/she can delve into the scholarship on the issue.

The Literature of the Old Testament (1913) [Chapter 2]

[Articles in the Summed Up series are intended to be summaries of chapters of selected theological books. The author(s) will be quoted verbatim for the purposes of ensuring accurate representation]

The Old Testament as a National Literature  


A) About the author of the chapter:

George Foot Moore “graduated from Yale College in 1872 and from Union Theological Seminary in 1877, in 1878 Moore was ordained in the Presbyterian ministry and until 1883 was pastor of the Putnam Presbyterian Church, Zanesville, Ohio.

He was Hitchcock professor of the Hebrew language and literature at Andover Theological Seminary, 1883–1902. In 1902 he became professor of theology and in 1904 professor of the history of religion at Harvard University.” [1]


B) Chapter Summary:

“For the religious apprehension of Jews and Christians the Old Testament is a body of Sacred Scriptures, containing the Word of God as revealed to the chosen people. The revelation was made “at sundry times and in divers manners” through many centuries, that is to say, it has a historical character, an adaptation to the needs or accommodation to the capacities of men, and, from the Christian point of view, makes a progressive disclosure of the divine purpose and plan of salvation.”[1]

“… for many scholars, Catholic and Protestant, the deliverances of the church, or the consent of tradition, or the testimony of the New Testament, or the concurrence of all these, outweighs, in such a matter as the unity and Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, the internal evidence of the books themselves, and makes it their task to show that the evidence which seems to contradict this attribution is, when properly interpreted, compatible with it; while others hold that no external authority and no theory of inspiration can be allowed to countervail the cumulative weight of internal evidence.”[2]

“In this literature are also the sources for the political history of the Hebrew people and for the history of its civilization and religion.”[3]

“All that survives of Hebrew literature prior to the age of Alexander is preserved in the Jewish Bible. It is not until the beginning of the third century B.C. that we come upon books written by Jews in Hebrew or in Greek which are not included in the canon. It is, doubtless, only a small part of a rich and varied literature that has thus been rescued across the centuries; much the larger part of what was written in the days of the national kingdoms, for example, must have perished in the catastrophes which befell Israel in the eighth century and Judah in the beginning of the sixth.”[4]

“The books of the Old Testament differ widely in matter and form—history and story; legislation, civil and ritual, moral and ceremonial; prophecy and apocalypse; lyric, didactic, and dramatic poetry.”[5]

[1] p.25

[2] p.26

[3] Ibid.

[4] p.27

[5] p.28

C) Chapter Review:

  • Readability: 6/10
  • Theological depth: 5/10
  • Any other comments: This chapter was disappointingly short & lacked good content. I expected more substance seeing how George Moore decided to set aside an entire chapter to cover this.


The Fatherhood of God

In a series on the “Family of God,” I was given the privilege to tackle the Fatherhood of God. David Tasker writes that, “[The Fatherhood of God is] not just another idea peripheral to the central core of biblical teaching and needs to be recognised as such.” [1]

The Fatherhood of God is a key concept in which a lot can be said. However, for the purposes of this sharing, I looked at the matter from 3 different perspectives (i.e. The Fatherhood of God in relation to Jesus, Israel, and Christians). This categorisation was adopted from Martin Manser’s Dictionary of Bible Themes (1996).

If you find the attached material useful for your personal edification and/or for the edification of your ministry/local church, please use them without hesitation. God bless!

[1] David Tasker, Ancient Near Eastern Literature and the Hebrew Scriptures About the Fatherhood of God (2004), p.1



The Fatherhood of God (Slides)

The Fatherhood of God (Participants Notes)


Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual author, and they do not reflect in any way those of the institutions to which he is affiliated.

Introduction to the New Testament (1915) [Chapter 1]

[Articles in the Summed Up series are intended to be summaries of chapters of selected theological books. The author(s) will be quoted verbatim for the purposes of ensuring accurate representation]

The Gospels in General  


A) About the author of the chapter:

Louis Berkhof “graduated from Calvin Theological Seminary in 1900 …

In 1902 he went to Princeton University for two years earning a B.D. degree …

In 1906 he was appointed to the faculty of Calvin Theological Seminary. He assumed the presidency of the seminary in 1931 …” [1]


B) Chapter Summary:

i) The Title of the Gospels

“The  word  εὐανγγέλιον passed  through  three  stages  in  the  history  of  its  use.  In  the  older Greek  authors  it  signified  a  reward  for  bringing  good  tidings; also,  a  thankoffering  for  good tidings  brought. Next  in  later  Greek  it  indicated  the good  news  itself.  And  finally  it  was  employed  to  denote  the  books  in  which  the  gospel  of  Jesus  Christ  is  presented historic  form. It  is used  very  extensively  in  the  New  Testament,  and  always  in  the  second  sense,  signifying  the good  news  of  God,  the  message  of  salvation.”[1]

“The  first  trace  of  the  word  as  indicating  a  written  gospel  is  found  in  the  didache [15:3], the  Teaching  of  the  Twelve  Apostles,  discovered  in  1873  and  in  all  probability  composed between  the  years  90  and  100  A.  D …

The  plural euanggelia,  signifying  the  four  Gospels,  is  first  found  in  Justin  Martyr,  about  152  A.  D.”[2]

ii) The Number of Gospels Recognised by the Early Church

“In  all  probability  the  earliest  evidence  that  the  Church  of  the  first  ages  accepted  the  four  Gospels  that we  now  possess  as  canonic,  is  furnished  by  the  Peshito,  which  most  likey  dates  from  the first  half  of  the  second  century.”[3]

“Another  early  witness  is  found  in  the  Muratorian  Fragment,  a  mutilated  work  of  which  the real  character  cannot  now  be  determined,  and  that  was  probably  written  about  170  A.  D.”[4]

“An  important  witness,  really  the  first  one  to  a  fourfold Gospel,  i.  e.  to  a  Gospel  that  is  four  and  yet  is  one,  is  Tatian,  the  Assyrian.  His  Diatessaron was  the  first  harmony  of  the  Gospels.  The  exact  date  of  its  composition  is  not  known;  the meaning  of  its  name  is  obviously  [the  Gospel  ]by  the  Four.”[5]

“In  one  of  his [i.e. Irenaeus (c. 120-200)] books  he  has  a  long  chapter  entitled:  “Proofs  that  there  can  be  neither  more  nor fewer  than  four  Evangelists.” Looking  at  the  Gospels  as  a  unit,  he  called  them  “the  Gospel with  four  Faces.””[6]

“Another  significant  testimony  is  that  of  Origin,  the  great teacher  of  Alexandria  of  whom  Eusebius  records  that  in  the  first  book  of  his  commentaries on  the  Gospel  of  Matthew  he  asserts  that  he  knows  of  only  four  Gospels,  as  follows:  “I  have learnt  by  tradition  concerning  the  four  Gospels,  which  alone  are  uncontroverted  in  the Church  of  God  spread  under  heaven,  that  according  to  Matthew,  who  was  once  a  publican but  afterwards  an  apostle  of  Jesus  Christ,  was  written  first;  .  .  .  that  according  to  Mark  second; .  .  .  that  according  to  Luke  third;  .  .  .  that  according  to  John  last  of  all.””[7]

“Church  History  VI, 25. Eusebius  himself,  who  was  the  first  historian  of  the  Christian  Church,  in  giving  a  catalogue of  the  New  Testament  writings,  says:  “First  then  we  must  place  the  holy  quaternion  of  the Gospels.””[8]

iii) The Literary Character of the Gospels

“The  Gospels  have  a  literary  character  all  their  own;  they  are  sui  generis. There  is  not another  book  or  group  of  books  in  the  Bible  to  which  they  can  be  compared.  They  are  four and  yet  one  in  a  very  essential  sense;  they  express  four  sides  of  the  one  εὐαγγέλιον of  Jesus Christ.”[9]

“The  Gospels  are  not  histories  of  the  life  of  Christ,  nor  do  they, taken  together,  form  one  history …

They  are  four  pen-pictures,  or  better,  a  four  fold  portraiture  of  the  Saviour  a  fourfold  representation  of  the apostolic  κήρυγμα;  fourfold  witness  regarding  our  Lord.”[10]

“Each  one  of  them  gives  us  a  certain  view  of  the  Lord,  and  only the  four  taken  together  present  to  us  his  perfect  likeness,  revealing  him  as  the  Saviour  of  the world.”[11]

“Matthew  wrote  for  the  Jews  and characterized  Christ  as  the  great  King  of  the  house  of  David.  Mark  composed  his  Gospel for  the  Romans  and  pictured  the  Saviour  as  the  mighty  Worker,  triumphing  over  sin  and evil.  Luke  in  writing  his  Gospel  had  in  mind  the  needs  of  the  Greeks  and  portrayed  Christ as  the  perfect  man,  the  universal  Saviour.  And  John,  composing  his  Gospel  for  those  who already  had  a  saving  knowledge  of  the  Lord  and  stood  in  need  of  a  more  profound  understanding  of  the  essential  character  of  Jesus,  emphasized  the  divinity  of  Christ,  the  glory  that was  manifested  in  his  works.”[12]

Continue reading “Introduction to the New Testament (1915) [Chapter 1]”

The Literature of the Old Testament (1913) [Chapter 1]

[Articles in the Summed Up series are intended to be summaries of chapters of selected theological books. The author(s) will be quoted verbatim for the purposes of ensuring accurate representation]

The Canon of the Old Testament  


A) About the author of the chapter:

George Foot Moore “graduated from Yale College in 1872 and from Union Theological Seminary in 1877, in 1878 Moore was ordained in the Presbyterian ministry and until 1883 was pastor of the Putnam Presbyterian Church, Zanesville, Ohio.

He was Hitchcock professor of the Hebrew language and literature at Andover Theological Seminary, 1883–1902. In 1902 he became professor of theology and in 1904 professor of the history of religion at Harvard University.” [1]


B) Chapter Summary:

“The early Christians received the Sacred Books of the Jews as inspired Scripture containing a divine revelation and clothed with divine authority, and till well on in the first century of the Christian era the name Scriptures was applied exclusively to these books.”[1]

“In time, as they [i.e. the early Christians] came to attach the same authority to the Epistles and Gospels, and to call them, too, Scriptures (2 Pet. iii. 16), they distinguished the Christian writings as the Scriptures of the new dispensation, or, as they called it, the “new covenant,” from the Scriptures of the “old covenant” (2 Cor. iii. 6, 14), the Bible of the Jews. The Greek word for covenant ( diathéké ) was rendered in the early Latin translation by testamentum , and the two bodies of Scripture themselves were called the Old Testament and the New Testament respectively.”[2]

“The Scriptures of the Jews were written in Hebrew, the older language of the people; but a few chapters in Ezra and Daniel are in Aramaic, which gradually replaced Hebrew as the vernacular of Palestine from the fifth century B.C.”[3]

Continue reading “The Literature of the Old Testament (1913) [Chapter 1]”

David – Prayer of Repentance

In a series on “Men of Prayer,” I had the opportunity to share about David. The following are the materials I produced for the sharing. Take note that the materials were prepared for a College & University audience and as such, is not as detailed as could be. However, if you find them useful for your personal edification and/or for the edification of your ministry/local church, please use them without hesitation. God bless!


  • Preliminaries

– Old Testament (OT) and New Testament (NT) words for “repent,” “repentance”

  • David’s Sin

– 2 Samuel 11

  • David’s Prayer

– Psalms 51

  • David’s Restoration

– 2 Samuel 12; 1 Kings 9:4-5; 1 Kings 14:8

  • NT examples

– Saul/Paul (1 Timothy 1:12-16)

– The Pharisee & the Publican (Luke 18:9-14)

  • Modern day example

– David Berkowitz (Son of Sam killer)

  • Us

– Revelation 12:9-10; Hebrews 7:24-25; 1 John 2:1; 1 John 1:9



David – Prayer of Repentance (Slides)

David – Prayer of Repentance (Participant Notes)


Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual author, and they do not reflect in any way those of the institutions to which he is affiliated.

Views on Hell

[Articles in the Multiple Views series are intended to present various views held by Christians, in an objective and unbiased manner]

Perspective  Proponent & Overview
 A) Literal View  i) Proponent


John F. Walvoord


“Jonathan Edwards pictured hell as a raging furnace of fire. He imagined the wicked being cast into liquid fire that is both material and spiritual”[17]


Charles Spurgeon: “… in fire exactly like that which we have on earth thy body will lie, asbestos-like, forever unconsumed, all thy veins roads for the feet of Pain to travel on, every nerve a string on which the Devil shall forever play his diabolical tune of hell’s unutterable lament.”[18]


E.B. Pusey: “The fire shall pierce them, penetrate them … like a molten ‘lake of fire,’ rolling, tossing, immersing, but not destroying.”[19]


Augustine (?)[20]


ii) Overview


“.. the orthodox view is commonly interpreted to be the belief that punishment for the wicked is everlasting and that it is punitive, not redemptive.”[1]


“… an important principle must be observed all throughout the Scriptures: while the term “forever” [in the Bible] may sometimes be curtailed in duration by its context, such termination is never once mentioned in either the Old or New Testament as relating to the punishment of the wicked.”[2]


“The most definitive term in the New Testament is gehenna, uniformly translated “hell” and referring to everlasting punishment (Matt 5:22, 29, 30; 10:28; 18:9; 23:15, 33; Mark 9:43, 45, 47; Luke 12:5; James 3:6).”[3]


“All the references to gehenna, except James 3:6, are from the lips of Christ himself, and there is an obvious emphasis on the punishment for the wicked after death as being everlasting. The term gehenna is derived from the Valley of Hinnom, traditionally considered by the Jews the place of the final punishment of the ungodly …

Whatever its historical and geographic meaning, its usage in the New Testament is clearly a reference to the everlasting state of the wicked, and this seems to be the thought in every instance.”[4]


“Though not always expressly stated, the implication [of the New Testament passages mentioning gehenna] is that the punishment will have duration and be endless.”[5]


“Though the word gehenna is not used in Matthew 7:19, some believe that this is what Christ meant when he said, “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” Also implied in Christ’s statement in Matthew 7:23 is the truth that part of the punishment of hell is to be separated from Christ forever: “Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers.’””[6]


“John implied [in Revelation 20:13-14] that the grave will some day give up the bodies of the wicked dead and that they will be resurrected in order to enter into the eternal punishment of the lake of fire. The fact that they are still in existence indicates that their existence was not terminated when they died physically, but they are still alive and suffering torment in hades, the intermediate state up to this point. This state is then emptied, however, and those who are in it are cast into the lake of fire, the second death; this action indicates eternal separation from God.”[7]


“Though the word gehenna is not used [in Revelation 20:10 and Revelation 21:7-8], the lake of fire is, and it serves as a synonym for the eternal place of torment.”[8]


“As Buis points out, the Greek word aionios in every instance refers to eternity.”[9]


Buis: “Aionios is used in the New Testament sixty-six times: fifty-one times of the happiness of the righteous, two times of the duration of God in His glory, six other times where there is no doubt as to its meaning being endless, and seven times of the punishment of the wicked.”[10]


“In support of the idea that aionios means “endless” is its consistent placement alongside the duration of the life of the godly in eternity. If the state of the blessed is eternal, as expressed by this word, there is no logical reason for giving limited duration to punishment.”


W.R. Inge: “No sound scholar can pretend that aionios means anything less than eternal.”[11]


“A general rule, however, can be established that unless Scripture specifically terminates a promise given “forever,” limiting it to time in contrast to eternity, we may assume that “eternity” means “everlasting,” as indicated in the character of God and in the character of salvation in Christ.”[12]


“… though aionios is generally used of eternal life, it is specifically coupled with punishment of the wicked in Jude 7 … This is in contrast to “eternal life” mentioned in verse 21.”[13]


“A most convincing evidence that eternity usually means “without beginning or end” is found in the definition of this word in Arndt and Gingrich. This word is used normally in the New Testament to mean either “without beginning or end” or at least “without end.” None of the passages uses the word in a sense other than infinity in time, but it may mean infinity in time past or infinity in time future.”[14]


“If the slightest sin is infinite in its significance then it also demands infinite punishment as a divine judgement. Though it is common for all Christians to wish there were some way out of the doctrine of eternal punishment because of its inexorable and unyielding revelation of divine judgement, one must rely in Christian faith on the doctrine that God is a God of infinite righteousness as well as infinite love. While on the one hand he bestows infinite grace on those who trust him, he must, on the other hand, inflict eternal punishment on those who spurn his grace.”[15]


“There is sufficient evidence that the fire is literal. In the case of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31, the rich man in hades asked father Abraham to cool his tongue with water because, “I am in agony in this fire” (v.24). Thirst would be a natural reaction to fire, and the desire to cool his tongue would be in keeping with this description.”[16]

B) Metaphorical View  i) Proponent


William Crockett


John Calvin: “We may conclude from the many passages of Scripture, that it [eternal fire] is a metaphorical expression”[47]


Charles Hodge: “There seems no more reason for supposing that the fire spoken of in Scripture is to be a literal fire, than that the worm that never dies is literally a worm.”[48]ss


J.I. Packer: “… the mistake is to take such pictures as physical descriptions, when in fact they are imagery symbolizing realities … far worse than the symbols themselves.”[49]


Kenneth Kantzer: “The Bible makes it clear that hell is real and it’s bad.  when Jesus spoke of flames … these are most likely figurative warnings.”[50]


ii) Overview


“… the Bible does not support a literal view of a burning abyss. Hellfire and brimstone are not literal depictions of hell’s funishings, but figurative expressions warning the wicked of impending doom.”[34]


Martin Luther: “It is not very important whether or not one pictures hell as it is commonly portrayed and described.”[35]


“The words of Jesus and the apostles tell us that the final abode of the wicked will be a place of awful reckoning, but specifically what the reckoning will be, we cannot know for certain until we pass beyond this life.”[36]


“Unfortunately, some people confuse a high view of Scripture with taking every word of the Bible literally. They think that whatever the Bible says must  be true literally. But this neglects the symbolic use of words, or what is often called rabbinic hyperbole. Rabbis in ancient times (and this includes Jesus) often used colourful speech to bring home forcefully their points.”[37]


“For example, when Jesus says, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children … he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26), he does not mean we must hate our parents to be proper disciples. This is a language vehicle used to convey the point that loyalty to him is supreme. We must love Jesus so much that our other loves seem like hate in comparison. The same is true with Matthew 5:29, “If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” We know Jesus did not intend people to take his words literally, because the context has to do with lust. Removing an eye – or even two eyes – will not help because even blind people lust. This is colourful speech by Jesus the rabbi; he means that sin is so serious that it is better to lose an eye than to perish in hell.”[38]


“In Jewish literature, vivid pictures of hell are given to show that God has ordained an end to wickedness. The writers do not intend their descriptions to be literal depictions of the fate of the damned, but rather warnings of coming judgement. In the Qumran texts, for example, mutually exclusive concepts like fire and darkness are used more to evoke a horrifying image than to describe a literal hell.

The writers speak about “the shadowy place of everlasting fire” (1QS 2:8) and describe hell as “the fire of the dark regions” (1QS 4:13). The same is true with 1 Enoch, which talks about “darkness … and burning flame” (103:7) and “blazing flames worse than fire” (100:9). Similarly, 2 Enoch 10:2 pictures hell as “black fire.”

The Testament of Abraham 12-13 uses fire to picture the Last Judgement. There the archangel Purouel (whose name means fire) “tests the works of men through fire” (13:11). The fire that burns up the works of individuals in both the Testament of Abraham 13:12 and 1 Corinthians 3:15 is not a literal fire, but a symbol of something far greater.”[39]


“Fire is often nonliteral in Jewish writings; they use colourful language to make a point. Even the Torah was said to have been written with “black fire on white fire” (Jerusalem Talmud, Sekalim 6:1, 49d), and the tree of life was described as gold looking in “the form of fire” (2 Enoch 8:4). There are mountains of fire (Pseudo-Philo 18:3), rivers of fire (1 Enoch 17:5), thrones of fire (Apoc. Abram. 18:3), lashes of fire (T. Abram. 12:1) – even angels and demons of fire (2 Bar. 24:6; T. of Sol. 1:10).”[40]


“In the Scriptures God is said to be a “consuming fire” (Deut. 4:24), who has throne “flaming with fire” that has a “river of fire” issuing from beneath the throne (Dan. 7:9-10). Sometimes the images of fire approximate our understanding of material fire on earth. God speaks out of fire that does not consume a desert bush (Ex. 3:1-6) and carries a prophet to heaven in a chariot of fire (2 Kings 2:11). In the New Testament, John says of the exalted Christ, “his eyes were like blazing fire” (Rev. 1:14). Fire is also used figuratively for discord (Luke 12:49), judgement (1 Cor. 3:15), sexual desire (1 Cor. 7:9), and unruly words (James 3:5-6).”[41]


“C.H. Dodd suggests that Paul “shared with many of his contemporaries the belief that … the material universe would be transfigured into a substance consisting of pure light or glory, thus returning to its original perfection as created by God.””[42]


“In the New Testament the final destination of the wicked is pictured as a place of blazing sulphur, where the burning smoke ascends forever. This would have been an effective image because sulphur fires were part of life for those who lived in the Jerusalem of Bible times. Southwest of the city was the Valley of Hinnom, an area that had a long history of desecration. The steep gorge was once used to burn children in sacrifice to the Ammonite god of Molech (2 Kings 23:10; Jer. 7:31; 32:35).”[43]


“How could hell be a literal fire when it is also described as darkness (Matt. 8:12; 22:13; 25:30; 2 Peter 2:17; Jude 14)? Those who raise this question have a good point … The point is that when it comes to God’s wrath at the end of time, Jewish writers are not concerned with seeming conflicts; they can describe punishment in many ways because they have no clear scheme as to what form it will take. For example, they often talk of hell as a place where the bodies of the wicked burn eternally, even though at the same time they are said to be rotting away with worms and maggots (Judith 16:17; Sirach 7:17; cf. Isa. 66:24). The author of 2 Enoch 10:2 even links “black fire” with “cold ice” in the place of eternal torment. What these writers are trying to do is paint the most awful picture of hell they can, no matter how incompatible the images might be. Yet of this they are certain: God will forever punish those who walk in the paths of wickedness.”[44]


“The wicked are said to weep and gnash their teeth (Matt. 8:12; 13:42; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30; Luke 13:28), their worm never dies (Mark 9:48), and they are beaten with many blows (Luke 12:47). No one thinks hell will involve actual beatings or is a place where the maggots of the dead achieve immortality. Equally, no one thinks that the gnashing of teeth is anything other than an image of hell’s grim reality.”[45]


“The eternal fire was created for spirit beings such as the devil and his angels (Matt. 25:41). How then will people with spirit bodies (and disembodied spirits such as demons) be affected by a physical fire? Physical fire works on physical bodies with physical nerve endings, not on spirit beings.”[46]


C) Purgatorial View  i) Proponent


Zachary J. Hayes


Origen (?)


Clement of Alexandria (?)


Jerry Walls


ii) Overview


“This word [i.e. purgatory] is commonly understood to refer to the state, place, or condition in the next world between heaven and hell, a state of purifying suffering for those who have died and are still in need of such purification. This purifying condition comes to an end for the individual when that person’s guilt has been expiated. But as an eschatological “place”, purgatory is understood to continue in existence until the last judgement.”[69]


“To understand the inner logic of the concept of purification after death, we need to think of a number of interrelated points.


First, it is helpful to recall that symbolism about purgation does not begin with Roman Catholicism, nor with Christianity, nor even with the Bible. In fact, such symbolism is widespread in religious history. It is symbolism that reflects a sense of distance between human creatures and God. There is distance, first, because all creatures are limited and finite, while God is infinite.


Second, there is distance because human creatures are sinners. Not only are human beings “less than God,” they are also “guilty before God.” Now, if the concern of the religious journey is to move to ever greater closeness and intimacy with God in a relationship of love, one must ask how the distance between God and creature might be bridged.”[70]


“The idea of a purifying fire was present in extrabiblical and in biblical tradition long before the Christian/Catholic concept of purgatory used it in its own way. When such symbolism is used in a Christian context, it expresses the conviction that something happens in the encounter between God and the human creature that makes the creature more “capable” of receiving the gift of divine presence within itself.”[71]


“If, from this side of death, we seem to be flawed lovers, and if the condition called heaven involves the perfection of love, how can we possibly bridge that distance?”[72]


“… he [i.e. Augustine] speaks frequently about the cleansing suffering that awaits those who die without being adequately purified in this life. Augustine was much concerned with the moral significance of human life and with the moral continuity between this life and the next. Because of this continuity, he could envision a process of cleansing on both sides of death. He argues that it is better to be cleansed in this life than the next, for the cleansing process in the next life will be far more severe than anything experienced in this life.”[73]


“The idea of a process of purification and not only in this life but in the next as well seemed to Cyprian a welcome way out of an otherwise uncomfortable dilemma [i.e. good people who had failed the test of heroic martyrdom in the time of persecution]. We could argue that, with Cyprian, the central insight of what eventually became the doctrine of purgatory was formulated already by the middle of the third century.”[74]


“Purgatory, as Roman Catholic theology envisions it, it involves a process of purification after death for those who need it. It is a process in which the concern of the living for the dead, expressed through prayers and charitable works, may have a beneficial effect on the healing of the dead.”[75]


“In his brilliant study of the history, Jacques Le Goff argues that it was first in the late twelfth century that the clear reference to purgatory as a place is found in Christian literature. If this argument is correct, it means that even though many intimations of a purifying process may be found in the early centuries of Christian history, the tendency to think of purgatory as a particular place on the eschatological map was a product of the Middle Ages. And even when purgatory was associated with a special place, it is interesting that this place was not necessarily “extra-terrestrial” but could be thought of as somewhere on this planet.”[76]


“In summary, the notion of purgatory is intimately related to the conviction that our eternal destiny is irrevocably decided at the moment of our death and that, ultimately, our eternal destiny can be only heaven or hell. But not everyone seems “bad enough” to be consigned to an eternal hell. And most do not seem “good enough: to be candidates for heaven. Therefore, something has to happen “in between.” But this cannot mean a coming back to life and getting another chance since our destiny is decided at the moment of our death. Therefore, some sort of cleansing process is postulated between death and the entrance into heaven.”[77]


“… purgatory means “suffering to the end what one has left behind on earth – in the certainty of being accepted, yet having to hear the burden of the withdrawn presence of the Beloved. This is not unlike the view presented by Dante in his Divine Comedy: the souls in purgatory are those of people who were basically animated by the love of God, but whose lives at other levels were marred by blemishes.”[78]


“He [i.e. Origen] argued that at the end of history, the unity of creation would be restored under the rule of God. To him this seemed to be the simple requirement of the goodness of God. In the end, all the enemies of Christ would be overcome, not by being annihilated but by being won over by the divine love. This meant that those who had not made the grade during their first life would return until they had succeeded. Thus the purgative process postulated by Origen is oriented to a theology of universal salvation. In the end, Origen says, there is only “heaven.” Even what Christians have called “hell” is seen as a temporary situation that is superseded by a total restoration of all reality to its God-intended form.”[79]


“Other early Eastern Christian writers envisioned a form of process after death. In the early third century, for example, Clement of Alexandria taught that souls would endure some sort of remedial “fire,” a fire that was understood in a metaphorical sense. The whole vision of Clement was cast in the framework of an understanding of Christian life that saw grace as an increasing God-likeness in the just …


Clement envisioned a growing God-likeness, beginning in this life and continuing in the next, until the soul had reached that state of maturity appropriate to its place in the heavenly mansions.”[80]


“The texts of Scripture have a long and complex history, and the divine message of revelation is found not in a specific verbal formulation but in a cluster of religious insights that have their own distinctive history …


So while the Scriptures remain the privileged and irreplaceable literary point of contact with the basic experiences that lie at the foundation of historic Christianity, there is no specific literary or verbal formula that may simply be identified with the revealed message of God.


From here, the step to tradition becomes clear. In Roman Catholic thought, Christians never deal solely with the text of Scripture. There is also a history of acceptance and interpretation of that text, for no text is self-interpreting.”[81]


“… tradition is not a second source of doctrine next to and independent of the Bible. Rather, it is the living communication of biblical revelation in ever-changing circumstances and in new and different communities and cultures. Just as the texts of Scripture give witness to the divine revelation, so also does the reality of tradition give witness to the same revelation, but in circumstances unknown to the authors of Scripture.”[82]


“If we are looking for clear and unambiguous statements of the doctrine [of purgatory in the Bible], we will look in vain. But our reflections on the matter of tradition and development might suggest a reformulation of the question. We might better ask if anything in Scripture initiated the development that eventually led to the doctrine of purgatory. Or, what is it in the biblical material that generates this form of Christian tradition?”[83]


“Beyond this [2 Maccabees 12:41-46], there is no other Old Testament text that stands out clearly in the development of Christian purgatorial doctrine.”[84]


“One could ask what meaning this text [i.e. Matthew 12:31-32] could have if it were not possible that some sins could be forgiven in the next world. This, in fact, seems to be the understanding of Augustine and of Gregory the Great. Likewise, it is the understanding of various medieval popes and councils. This text, therefore, has been seen to provide at least some biblical warrant for the concept of purgatory.”[85]


“If we take the “Day” [in 1 Corinthians 3:15] to refer to the final judgement, then the text seems to speak of a “fire” after the particular judgement that is involved in individual death. Though it is not necessary to interpret this text to mean the fire of purgatory, it was common among the Latin Fathers to understand this fire as a reference to some sort of transient, purificatory punishment prior to the final salvation. Examples of this interpretation can be found in Augustine and Caear of Arles.”[86]


“In conclusion, we might say that for Christians of earlier generations, it was not difficult to find some basis in Scripture for the doctrine of purgatory, even though each particular text might be subjected to different interpretations. For contemporary readers of the Bible, the actual texts of the Scriptures offer less clear evidence of purgatory than does the history of patristic exegesis.”[87]


“If Roman Catholic theologians find the evidence of Scripture ambiguous, what follows after that is unavoidably a matter of tradition and the development of church doctrine. And a genuine form of purgatorial understanding was developed rather early in the patristic church.”[88]


“The official teaching on purgatory is found in solemn statements made by solemn assemblies of bishops and theologians recognised at least by Romans Catholics as ecumenical councils. In response to the Eastern Church, the Second Council of Lyons (1274) and the Council of Florence (1439) addressed the issue. The Council of Trent (1563) did the same in response to the Protestant Reformation.”[89]


“The councillar teaching on purgatory is very concise. The Council of Lyons stated that those who die in charity and are truly sorry for their sins, but before they have made complete satisfaction for their wrongdoings, will be purged after death by “cathartic punishments.”[90]


“The Council of Trent, like that of Lyons, is brief. Trent reduces its teaching on purgatory to two points. First, purgation exists for some between death and the general resurrection, and second, the souls undergoing such purgation can be aided by the prayers and good works of the faithful and especially by the sacrifice of the Mass.”[91]


“… the concept of purgatory does not stand alone as a theological idea. Rather, it is part of a larger scenario that reflects the Roman Catholic understanding of how God deals with us and how we are to respond to God in the context of grace and eschatological fulfilment.”[92]

 D) Conditional View  i) Proponent


Clark H. Pinnock


John Wenham


John Stott: “I do not dogmatise about the position to which I have come. I hold it tentatively. But I do plead for frank dialogue among evangelicals on the basis of scripture. I also believe that the ultimate annihilation of the wicked should at least be accepted as a legitimate, biblically founded alternative to their eternal conscious torment.”[122]


Phillip E. Hughes


G. Selwyn: “There is little in the NT to suggest a state of everlasting punishment, but much to indicate an ultimate destruction or dissolution of those who cannot enter into life: conditional immortality seems to be the doctrine most consonant with the teaching of Scripture.”[123]


ii) Overview


“Hell is not the beginning of a new immortal life in torment but the end of a life of rebellion. Hell is, as C.S. Lewis said, the “outer rim where being fades away into nonentity.””[104]


“There is no single Jewish view of hell. Many sources present the destruction of the wicked (e.g., Wisd. Sol. 4:18-19; 5:14-15), while others speak of everlasting conscious torment (e.g., 1 Enoch 27:1-3). There is a similar diversity in the early Christian sources. The Apostles’ Creed affirms that Jesus will return to judge the living and the dead at the end of history, though it does not spell out the exact nature of that judgement. One can find the idea of everlasting torment (in Tertullian), annihilation (in the Didache), and universalism (in Origen).


The diversity was not to last, however. The view of hell as everlasting physical and mental torture came to dominate orthodox thinking early on.”[105]


“The Old Testament gives us a clear picture of the end of the wicked in terms of destruction and supplies the basic imagery of divine judgement for the New Testament to use …


While it is true that the point of reference for these warnings [in Psalm 37 and Malachi 4:1-2] in the Old Testament is this-worldly, this basic imagery overwhelmingly denotes destruction and perishing and sets the tone for the New Testament doctrine.”[106]


“Our Lord spoke plainly of God’s judgement as the annihilation of the wicked when he warned about God’s ability to destroy body and soul in hell (Matt. 10:28). He was echoing the terms that John the Baptist had used when he pictured the wicked as dry wood about to be thrown into the fire and chaff about to be burned (Matt. 3:10, 12). Jesus warned that the wicked would be cast into hell (Matt. 5:30), like garbage thrown into gehenna–an allusion to the valley outside Jerusalem where sacrifices were once offered to Moloch (2 Kings 16:3; 21:6) and where garbage may have smoldered and burned in Jesus’ day. The wicked would be burned up just like weeds thrown into the fire (Matt. 13:30, 42, 49-50).”[107]


“The apostle Paul creates the same impression when he wrote of the everlasting destruction that would come upon unrepentant sinners (2 Thess. 1:9). He warned that the wicked would reap corruption (Gal. 6:8) and stated that God would destroy the wicked (1 Cor. 3:17; Phil. 1:28); he spoke of their fate as a death that they deserved to die (Rom. 1:32), the wages of their sins (6:23). Concerning the wicked, the apostle stated plainly and concisely: “Their destiny is destruction” (Phil. 3:19). In all these verses, Paul made it clear that hell would mean termination.”[108]


“It is no different in any other New Testament book. Peter spoke of the “destruction of ungodly men” (2 Peter 3:7) and of false teachers who denied the Lord, thus bringing upon themselves “swift destruction” (2:1, 3). He said that they would be like the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah that were burned to ashes (2:6), and that they would perish like the ancient world perished in the great Flood (3:6-7). The author of Hebrews likewise referred to the wicked who shrank back and would be destroyed (Heb. 10:39). Jude pointed to Sodom as an analogy to God’s final judgement, being the city that underwent “the punishment of eternal fire” (Jude 7). Similarly, the apocalypse of John speaks both of a lake of fire that will consume the wicked and of the second death (Rev. 20:14-15).”[109]


“The Bible does not teach the natural immortality of the soul; it points instead to the resurrection of the body as God’s gift to believers. God alone has immortality (1 Tim 6:16) but graciously grants embodied life to his people (1 Cor. 15:21, 50-54; 2 Tim. 1:10). God gives us life and God takes it away. There is nothing in the nature of the human soul that requires it to live forever. The Bible teaches conditionalism: God created humans mortal with a capacity for life everlasting, but it is not their inherent possession. Immortality is a gift God offers us in the gospel, not an inalienable possession. The soul is not an immortal substance that has to be placed somewhere if it rejects God. If a person does reject God finally, there is nothing in biblical anthropology to contradict what Jesus plainly taught – God will destroy the wicked, body and soul, in hell.”[110]


“Presumably the traditional view of the nature of hell was originally constructed in the following way: People mixed up their belief in the divine judgement after death (which is scriptural) with their belief in the immortality of the soul (which is unscriptural) and concluded (incorrectly) that the nature of hell must be everlasting conscious torment The logic would be impeccable if only the second premise were not false.”[111]


“According to Christian theology the nature of God is revealed in Jesus Christ and shown to be boundlessly merciful. God loves the whole world. His heart is to invite sinners to a festive meal (Matt. 8:11). He is a forgiving and loving Father toward them (Luke 15:11-32), not a cruel and sadistic torturer as the traditional view of hell would suggest.”[112]


“Our moral intuition agrees with this. There is a powerful moral revulsion against the traditional doctrine of the nature of hell. Everlasting torture is intolerable from a moral point of view because it pictures God acting like a bloodthirsty monster who maintains an everlasting Auschwitz for his enemies whom he does not even allow to die.”[113]


“Sending the wicked to everlasting torment would be to treat persons worse than they could deserve.


Consider it on the basis of an Old Testament standard of justice, the standard of strict equivalence: An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth (Exod. 21:24). Did the sinner visit upon God everlasting torment? Did he cause God or his neighbors everlasting pain and loss?”[114]


“What purpose of God would be served by the unending torture of the wicked except those of vengeance and vindictiveness? Such a fate for the wicked would spell endless and totally unredemptive suffering. Here would be a punishment just for its own sake. Surely God does not act like that. Even the plagues of Egypt were intended to be redemptive for those who would respond to the warning.”[115]


“The New Testament says that God is going to be “all in all” (1 Cor. 15:28) and that God is going to be making “everything new” (Rev. 21:5), but the new creation turns out flawed from day one. John Stott does not think it adds up right, asking: “How can God in any meaningful sense be called ‘everything to everybody’ while an unspecified number of people still continue in rebellion against him and under his judgement?”


What kind of reconciliation and redemption is it if heaven and hell coexist forever, if evil, suffering, and death all continue to have reality?”[116]


“Here [i.e. Isaiah 66:24] the dead bodies of God’s enemies are being eaten by maggots and burned up. The fire and the worm in this figure are destroying the dead bodies, not tormenting conscious persons. By calling the fire unquenchable, the Bible is saying that the fire is not quenched until the job is finished.”[117]


“In this text [i.e. Matt. 25:46], Jesus does not define the nature either of eternal life or of eternal death. He says there will be two destinies and leaves it there. This perspective gives us the freedom to interpret the saying about hell either as everlasting conscious torment (eternal punishment) or as irreversible destruction (eternal punishment). The text allows for both interpretation because it only teaches the finality of the judgement, not its precise nature.”[118]


“[In Luke 16:23-24] … unless there is a lot of room in the patriarch’s lap, the detail seems to be imagery rather than a literal description of what the future life will actually be like. In addition, the story refers to hades (the intermediate state between death and resurrection), not to gehenna (the final end of the wicked), and is not strictly relevant to our subject.”[119]


“Regarding Revelation 14:11, we observe that, while the smoke goes up forever, the text does not say the wicked are tormented forever. It says that they have no relief from their suffering as long as the suffering lasts, but it does not say how long it lasts. As such it could fit hell as annihilation or the traditional view. Before oblivion, there may be a period of suffering, but not unendingly.”[120]


“I take John’s primary point throughout Revelation to be that everything that has rebelled against God will be overcome and come to an end. G. B. Caird catches the point: “John believed that, if at the end there should be any who remained impervious to the grace and love of God, they would be thrown, with Death and Hades, into the lake of fire which is the second death, i.e., extinction and total oblivion.””[121]

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