Conclusion 2: The general pattern

After all that have been said, you can understand why I choose to talk about an immediate afterlife being She’ol first, followed by resurrection, itself followed by judgement. It seems to be the general pattern proposed by the Bible even if it doesn’t look like the general popular thinking that presents afterlife beginning by a resurrection followed by "heaven".

And if I understand it well, this world as we know it will disappear with all those who preferred it to the Kingdom of God including all religious people who used their religious zeal or position for their own interest more than God’s interest (remember what we have said about Matthew 23,15.33) . This is what it means to be thrown in Gehenna, where all the waste of the world is set aside and destroyed. Including powerful religious organizations.

In the book of Acts (8,18-23), when Peter discerned the motivations of Simon the sorcerer he has a strong answer:

When Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying,
“Give me this power also so that anyone I lay hands on may receive the Holy Spirit.”

But Peter told him,
“May your silver be destroyed with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this matter, because your heart is not right before God. Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, your heart’s intent may be forgiven. For I see you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by wickedness.”

Here, Peter warns Simon that if he would not repent, which means change his way of seeing reality (even religious reality) then he would be destroyed with his money. The greek text literally says: the money of you with you he is for destruction (ἀπώλεια - apôleia). Peter may be warning Simon about the spiritual threat that already killed Ananias and Saphira (Acts 5,1-11). But the fact that the fate of the money is the same as that awaiting Simon suggests a final destruction. The word apôleia can mean destruction, ruin or loss. Can it be synonymous with annihilation?

The way this word is used in Revelation 17, 8.11 suggests this meaning. And 1Timothy 6,9 too that uses two different words to enhance the severity of the consequences of loving money. A third word (ὄλεθρος - olethros) evoking annihilation is also found in Revelations 11,18 directly linked with the jugement of the Lord God, the Almighty, who is and who was (v17), i.e. linked to the eternal persistence of what "is".

This scriptural argument has been understood otherwise, as something like "eternal torments". But theologically, the idea of eternal torment might well be a disguised vengeance. In my opinion, there are only two possible coherent theological options: 1/ a forgiveness process, or 2/ a destruction process that infers a kind of undoing to make possible the promise of Revelations 21,4. The torments often described in the Bible are not to be taken literally. They may well correspond to some kind of conscience of annihilation that awaits those who did not make the good choice of becoming a disciple of Jesus during our first life (that finishes by the first death). This is the fear we can already feel and that I think is suggested in Matthew 10,28 (that we already read) asking: who can be the one who can destroy both body and soul. It is about an already planed transformation (1John 2,17) of this world that will leave behind in oblivion all that prevents it from being what God wants it to be.

So the final pattern that we can draw about the process of creation looks like the following:

If it does not seem easy to understand destruction as annihilation (as if the things and people destroyed had never existed) I think we should neither take for granted what eternal life means in its effectiveness. So at the end, our imagination is trying to anticipate both the good and the bad scenarii but what is sure to happen is that we will be in awe.

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