Wednesday, December 21, 2016

St. Augustine's Doctrine of Eternal Punishment: His Biblical and Theological Argument [Review]

by Hiram R. Diaz III

Cho, Dongsun. St. Augustine’s Doctrine of Eternal Punishment: His Biblical and Theological Argument (New York: The Edwin Mellen Press, 2010), 232 pp.
It may rightly be said that Augustine is to heretics what Plato is to postmodernists. Augstine’s systematicity and precision of thought are anathema to heretics, whose existence largely depends upon a rejection of systematicity and precision as they pertain to the doctrine(s) under consideration. As the postmodernists reject the systematic interrelatedness of philosophical doctrines, so the heretics reject the systematic interrelatedness in  Scripture. Over the past century, many theologians have sought to deconstruct the systematic teachings of the Scriptures, typically attributing the doctrines they don’t like to Augustine, whom they claim was a Platonist.
Theological deconstructionists, ironically those who most openly claim they are restoring a true teaching to the church, have an easy target in Augustine. He published an immense body of writing on a wide assortment of subjects, which makes reading through the entire Augustinian canon a herculean task for the non-academic. Not only this, but for those who manage to do so, they will soon note that Augustine is not always consistent. His writing spans the entirety of his life as a Christian, with his earlier writings being influenced in some ways by the Platonists, and his later writings conforming to the teaching of Scripture. Ignoring the immensity of the Augustinian canon, as well as the inconsistency one encounters therein, heretics paint Augustine as a Platonist whose commitment to Plato’s philosophy (by which we must assume his accusers mean Plato’s metaphysics) tainted his otherwise helpful sermons and books. This is done in order to dismiss two unpopular biblical teachings for which he offered very strong arguments, viz. the immortality of the soul and eternal punishment (or everlasting conscious torment, ECT hereafter).
Dongsun Cho’s St. Augustine’s Doctrine of Eternal Punishment: His Biblical and Theological Argument, thankfully, scrutinizes the claims of those who dismissively identify the doctrines of the immortality of the soul and ECT as the fruit of Platonic philosophy, particularly as Christianized through Augustine’s writings, and finds those claims to be false. Cho argues that Augustine’s doctrine of ECT and doctrine of the immortality of the soul are derived from a systematic approach to interpreting the Scriptures. Cho not only demonstrates that Augustine was not a Platonist, and that, therefore, his doctrines were not derived from the Platonism of his day, but he also shows that Augustine’s hermeneutic is not simply literal or simply figurative, as some non-traditionalists assert. Rather, Augustine carefully balances literal and figurative readings of the Scriptures, according to hermeneutic principles he expressly sets down in texts like De Doctrina Christiana and Enchiridion.
Cho helpfully presents Augustine in an historically accurate light, confuting “non-traditionalists” like Edward Fudge and Clark Pinnock who wrongly believe that Christian belief in the immortality of the soul and ECT began with Augustine.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Not from Men, Nor Through Man: The Deity of Christ in Galatians 1

by Hiram R. Diaz III
Paul’s Defense of His Apostleship: The Deity of Christ
In his epistle to the Galatians, Paul sets out to defend the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Before doing this, however, he establishes his credentials as a real apostle. Thus, he begins the letter as follows:
Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead[1]
Paul’s authority comes neither from men nor through man, but is given by God the Father and Jesus Christ his Son. His primary focus here is on the authenticity of his apostleship, using the universal ἄνθρωπος (anthropos, man) to exclude himself and all other men as the source of his authority. He has not appointed himself to be an apostle, nor has any other man appointed him to this role.
The careful reader should at this point be aware of the logical implication of Paul’s assertion. If the universal ἄνθρωπος denies that Paul’s apostleship is derived from and through any man, then this implies that Jesus Christ, though truly man, is more than a mere man. For if Paul does not imply that Christ is more than a mere human being, then he is contradicting himself by saying:
A. His apostleship came neither from men nor through man.
         ~A. His apostleship came from and through a particular man, viz. Christ.
These two assertions cannot simultaneously be true. Therefore, Christ is not merely human. The Son of God is more than human. Christ’s authority and the authority of the Father, moreover, as classed together by Paul, further implying the co-equality of Son of God and God the Father. Thus, Christ is not a mere human being but man who is more than merely human, who shares in the same authority with God the Father to appoint apostles and empower them to authoritatively teach and preach the authentic Gospel.
At this point, Paul’s words do not clearly identify Christ as God, perhaps leading some to believe that Paul’s implied meaning is that Christ is something more than a mere human but less than God, e.g. an angel. Yet Paul goes on to state the following:
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.[2]

Paul here states that neither men nor angels have the authority, he right, to preach a Gospel contrary to the one Paul received from Christ and the Father. Christ’s authority, once again, is clearly equal to that of the Father, seeing as even the good angels can only speak in accordance with his and the Father’s Gospel message, and any demons who preach another gospel are, as Paul says, accursed. Jesus Christ, therefore, is excluded from the category of mere humans, and he is excluded from the category of angels - but he is not excluded from the category of divinity. Paul has identified Jesus Christ as God.
This becomes even more clear in Paul’s following verse:
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.[3]
Paul declares that he is not seeking the approval of man but of God. He is not trying to please men but is being a servant of Christ. Again, the contrast between mere men and God places Christ alongside of the Father, identifying him as the non-angelic, more-than-human object of service and faithfulness, to the exclusion of men. Christ and the Father receive the exclusive devotion and service of the apostle Paul, placing them in the same divine category. Jesus Christ is God.
The apostle confirms this identification of Christ as the God-Man once again in vv.11-12, declaring:
…I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man's gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.
Once again, Christ is excluded from the category of mere humans with the universal ἄνθρωπος (anthropos, man). The Son of God is neither a mere human, nor an angel, but one in power and authority with God the Father - Christ is God the Son.
Concluding Remarks
The apostle Paul’s defense of his apostleship to the Galatians consists in identifying the source of his authority in God the Father and his Son. Jesus Christ and God the Father occupy the same unique category, sharing equal authority over men and angels. Either this is the case, or Paul is contradicting himself when he states that he received his apostleship neither from men nor through man (ἄνθρωπος). Yet the Scriptures are never self-contradictory. Therefore, Paul identifies Jesus Christ as the God-Man, equal in authority over men and angels with God the Father, yet personally and economically (i.e. functionally) distinct from the Father.

[1] Gal 1:1.
[2] Gal 1:6-8.
[3] Gal 1:10.

Monday, December 5, 2016

A Seasonal Hymn: A Consideration of Philippians 2:5-11 in light of Oneness Pentecostalism

by Michael R. Burgos Jr.
The relentless persecution of the early church by Imperial Rome is typified in Pliny’s letter to Emperor Trajan. Pliny would examine Christians, giving them three chances to recant their faith. When they refused, Pliny ordered their executions. He investigated the former practice of those many turncoat pseudo-Christians, who recanted their faith and gave the requisite offering of incense and wine in accordance with the Emperor cult. What he discovered was an account of the Lord’s day worship of the primitive church:
They were accustomed to meet on a fixed day, to sing an antiphonal hymn to Christ as God, and to bind themselves by an oath, not for the commission of some crime, but to avoid acts of theft, brigandage, and adultery, not to break their word, and not to withhold money deposited with them when asked for it. When these rites were completed, it was their custom to depart, and then to assemble again to take food, which was however common and harmless.[1]
Given its chiastic form, the presence of hapax, the unorthodox use of certain terms, and its amazing content, Philippians 2:6-11 has been understood by Christian scholars to be a fragment of a hymn of the primitive church.[2] Interestingly, the traditional title for this passage is The Hymn to Christ as God or just The Hymn to Christ. Could it be that what was referenced to Pliny was that the hymn Paul cites? I wouldn’t put it past God.
This hymn serves as an inspired object lesson intended to achieve unity within the Philippian congregation by means of humility. In v. 2, Paul tells the church: “Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” In vv. 3-4, Paul provides some practical instruction to live out the humility that will be portrayed writ large in vv. 6-11.
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11, ESV)
Τοῦτο φρονεῖτε ἐν ὑμῖν ὃ καὶ ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ, ὃς ἐν μορφῇ θεοῦ ὑπάρχων οὐχ ἁρπαγμὸν ἡγήσατο τὸ εἶναι ἴσα θεῷ, ἀλλὰ ἑαυτὸν ἐκένωσεν μορφὴν δούλου λαβών, ἐν ὁμοιώματι ἀνθρώπων γενόμενος· καὶ σχήματι εὑρεθεὶς ὡς ἄνθρωπος ἐταπείνωσεν ἑαυτὸν γενόμενος ὑπήκοος μέχρι θανάτου, θανάτου δὲ σταυροῦ. διὸ καὶ ὁ θεὸς αὐτὸν ὑπερύψωσεν καὶ ἐχαρίσατο αὐτῷ τὸ ὄνομα τὸ ὑπὲρ πᾶν ὄνομα, ἵνα ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι Ἰησοῦ πᾶν γόνυ κάμψῃ ἐπουρανίων καὶ ἐπιγείων καὶ καταχθονίων καὶ πᾶσα γλῶσσα ἐξομολογήσηται ὅτι κύριος Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς εἰς δόξαν θεοῦ πατρός. (Philippians 2:5-11, NA28)
In an ancient scriptorium one would read aloud a text in a clear voice so that scribes could accurately record the Bible. Similarly, in v. 5 Paul calls forth the Philippians to copy an exemplar, namely Christ. He wrote, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.” The first clause, “Have this mind among yourselves” points backward to v. 3 and v. 4, and thus indicates that the “mind” or attitude that is under consideration is the one that appropriates the aforementioned instruction (i.e., counting others more significant than oneself). The second clause, “which is yours in Christ Jesus,” indicates that the “mind” of humility was present in the person of Christ. This is a sentiment that finds continuity elsewhere within the Pauline corpus. Ephesians 5:1-2 states, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children and walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us…” Thus, when Bernard argues
the focus is not on the transcendent nature of God, which humans cannot duplicate, but on the attitude of the man Christ Jesus, which we can imitate,”[3] 
he misses the point entirely. God, even God the eternal Son can be imitated.

Friday, November 25, 2016

The Problem of Adam [Pt. 2]

by Hiram R. Diaz III
As noted elsewhere,[1] the idea that being-dead is equivalent to being-a-lifeless-non-conscious-body is logically and Scripturally untenable. It was shown that, given the law of transitivity, the identification of the two states of being entails an absurd conclusion, viz. Adam was dead before death existed. Death, it was noted, is a fundamentally unique experience entailing a fundamentally unique state of being-dead that could not exist prior to the fall. What was not investigated, however, was the obverse of the proposition “To be dead is to be a lifeless, non-conscious body.” The proposition in mind is this: “To be alive is to a be living, conscious body.” The proposition and its obverse were simply assumed for the sake of argument. However, the current article will demonstrate the logical incoherence of the annihilationist belief that being-dead is equivalent to being-a-lifeless-non-conscious-body.
Every Body’s Non-Conscious
Consider the original assertion:
To be dead is to be a lifeless, non-conscious body.
Now consider its obverse:
To be alive is to be a living, conscious body.
Whereas the attribution of life to the body is categorically correct, the attribution of consciousness to the body is not. Consciousness is an attribute of persons, not bodies. Consequently, to attribute consciousness to a body is to commit a category error. No body is conscious. Rather, every body is non-conscious. Thus, death may entail the reduction of the living body to lifelessness. However, death does not entail the reduction of the conscious body to a non-conscious body, for no body is conscious.
This category error obtains, it should be noted, even under the assumption of anthropological monism. Anthropological monism postulates that the mind is supervenient upon the brain/body. Given this view, therefore, there is a categorical distinction to be drawn between the body and that which is supervenient upon the body, viz. The mind. This is significant given the annihilationist belief that the non-consciousness of the dead body is taken to be an attribute only of the dead body. In reality, non-consciousness is an attribute of living and dead bodies and, therefore, cannot be said to be the result of one having died. Non-consciousness is an attribute of all existent bodies.
Concluding Remarks
Given that lifelessness is not equivalent to death, and given that every body is non-conscious, neither lifelessness nor non-consciousness can be identified as essential attributes of deadness. Consequently, if the death of the body entails its lifelessness, and the non-consciousness of the body is essential to its being a body and not a mind, then one can only, at the most, state that the second death entails the lifelessness of the body. Annihilationists who believe that the dead are those who have been reduced to lifeless, non-conscious bodies are wrong for these two reasons. The law of transitivity demands that the annihilationist either abandon his belief that deadness essentially consists in being a lifeless body. Moreover, belief that deadness also essentially consists in the non-consciousness of the body must be abandoned as well, seeing as it is an essential attribute of all bodies, living and dead alike.

[1] See Diaz, Hiram R. “The Problem of Adam [Pt. 1],” Biblical Trinitarian,

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Problem of Adam [Pt. 1]

by Hiram R. Diaz III

[N.B. The author's argument here assumes, for the sake of argument, that "the man" was the whole man and not Adam's body only. This is because the annihilationist's conception of life as being breathed into man in Genesis 2:7 requires such an interpretation. The thrust of the argument presented here is this: If Adam is wholly and entirely present after God has molded him from the earth, then the problem of Adam ensues.]
The Wages of Sin is Lifelessness?
Annihilationists capitalize on the fact that Scripture teaches the wages of sin is death.[1] This punishment for transgressing of God’s law is first found in Genesis 2:16-17, where God declares:
“You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
As elaborated upon elsewhere,[2] the promise of death is more than a promise that the sinner will be rendered a lifeless, non-conscious body. In Genesis 3:14-19, God elaborates on the nature of the death promised, and the reduction of man to the dust from which he was formed is only an aspect of that death. In these verses, in fact, the only person to explicitly receive the promise of returning to the dust is Adam, as the following table demonstrates.
The Serpent
1. Cursed above all livestock
2. Cursed above all beasts of the field
3. Made to travel on his belly
4. Made to eat dust all the days of his life
5. Set in opposition to the woman
6. Set in opposition to the seed of the woman
7. Will be bruised by the foot of the woman’s seed
The Woman
1. Labor pains in bringing forth children
2. Unfulfilled desire for her husband
3. Ruled by husband
The Man
1. Futility in work
2. Pain
3. Return to the dust
There is no doubt that the serpent and the woman will also “return to the dust,” but this is not explicitly mentioned in God’s elaboration of the death he promised in Gen 2:16-17. What is common among the judgments explicitly mentioned concerning the three persons is separation, conflict, antagonism, turmoil, pain, suffering, futility. Death entered into the creation through Adam’s sin, and that death entails, but is not limited to, the body’s “return to the dust.”
Thus, though death entails lifelessness, death is not itself lifelessness. This is borne out elsewhere in the Scriptures. For instance, idols are identified as without breath in Psalm 135:15-18. Seeing as they were never alive to begin with, the idols cannot be said to be dead. They are lifeless, but they are not dead. Similarly, Paul identifies musical instruments as lifeless or without breath in 1st Cor 14:7. As rocks, dust, and air are lifeless but not dead, so too the idols of the nations, as well as the musical instruments Paul alludes to are lifeless but not dead.
The Problem of Adam
Annihilationists’ identification of dead men as lifeless, non-conscious bodies is a theme that frequently appears in their stated belief that the wicked will not be tortured eternally but die the second death. This second death, they argue, is to be understood as we “normally” understand the first death, i.e. as the reduction of a man to a lifeless, non-conscious body. Its primary differences are (a.)the soul will be killed in the second death, whereas it is not in the first death, and (b.)the second death will never be followed by a return to life, unlike the first death which is followed by a resurrection and time of punishment.
Problematically, however, the Scriptures teach that Adam, prior to receiving the breath of life from God was a lifeless, non-conscious body. As it is written:
…the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the earth…[3]
“The man” (Heb. אָדָם, 'adam) was present in the garden, but lacked life and consciousness. Thus, if being-dead means being-a-lifeless-non-conscious-body, then Adam, before he even lived, was dead. Employing the law of transitivity[4] we have the following:
If Adam (A) is a lifeless, non-conscious body (B),
and a lifeless, non-conscious body (B) is a dead man (C),
then Adam (A) is a dead man (C).
As noted above, death did not come into the world until Adam sinned. Prior to this moment, there were no dead men. Consequently, there were no men who were in a state of deathBeing-dead, in other words, cannot be equivalent to being-a-lifeless-non-conscious-body, or Adam was dead in the garden of Eden before he was alive.[5]

It is not the case that being a lifeless, non-conscious body is equivalent to being a dead man. Therefore, any attempt to identify the punishment of death as the reduction of a living man to a lifeless, non-conscious body cannot be logically or Scripturally maintained. Those who are dead cannot exist in the same state that Adam existed in prior to him being alive, moreover, without the Scriptures then contradicting themselves by implicitly asserting that the state of being-dead existed prior to death existing in the world, and explicitly stating in another place that death entered into the world through Adam’s sin.
Whatever death is, in other words, it cannot be the reduction of a living man to a lifeless, non-conscious body. The state of being-dead has to be distinct from any state that existed prior to the fall, and that state is one of separation from God.

[1] Rom 6:23.
[2] See Diaz, Hiram R. “Does the Doctrine of Hell Conflict with Penal Substitutionary Atonement?” Biblical Trinitarian,
[3] Gen 2:7a.
[4] viz. If A is B, and B is C, then A is C.

[5] This would also imply, of course, that rocks, air, and dirt were and are still also dead, which is clearly absurd.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Sodom and Gomorrah: A Prefigure and Type

by Hiram R. Diaz III
…if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction,
making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly…
2nd Peter 2:6
Introductory Remarks
In addition to placing a great stress on Peter’s use of the word katastrophē (καταστροφή), which is translated by the ESV as extinction, annihilationists also give special emphasis to Peter’s assertion that this is “what is going to happen to the ungodly.” By assuming that the word example (Gr. ὑπόδειγμα, transl. hypodeigma) implies a relationship of qualitative identity, annihilationists read the text as though it were stating that extinction is what is going to happen to the wicked. However,  as the word hypodeigma is consistently used throughout the New Testament to signify a broad similarity between two or more events/experiences, not a relationship of qualitative identity, the annihilationist’s interpretation of this text is untenable.
As Robert L. Brawley’s notes, “against a Jewish background hypodeigma may be rendered ‘revelatory pattern.’”[1] In light of this, then, Peter is stating that what will happen to the wicked is that they will be severely judged, as were Sodom and Gomorrah. What he is not stating is that the wicked will be rendered “extinct” just as Sodom and Gomorrah were rendered “extinct.”
In what follows, a brief examination of the annihilationist use of 2nd Peter 2:6 will be given, followed by an examination of how the word hypodeigma is used in the NT. Some consideration will be given to the parallel word δεῖγμα (deigma) used in Jude 7. It will be shown that the normal use of hypodeigma does not support the annihilationist interpretation of 2nd Peter 2:6 and Jude 7.
IHypodeigma: A Small-Scale, Exact Representation?
Annihilationists often appeal to 2nd Peter 2:6 in defense of their position that the wicked will be destroyed unto extinction.[2] In their interpretation of the text, the word example (Gr. ὑπόδειγμα, transl. hypodeigma) is taken to mean something along the lines of an exact demonstration on a smaller scale. Thus, Glenn Peoples remarks:
How did Sodom and Gomorrah serve as an example to the world? By undergoing, as the AV puts it “the vengeance of eternal fire.” The Greek word for “example” here literally refers to a sample of something. If you want to know what eternal fire is like – just look at what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah.
But what did happen to Sodom and Gomorrah? It's recorded in Genesis 19:24-28 [...]
If that's what eternal fire did to Sodom and Gomorrah, then there's no basis for just assuming that when the phrase appears in the Gospels it must refer to a fire that torments people forever.[3]
Similarly, Peter Grice states:
Reading 2 Peter 2:6 and Jude & in light of each other…yields the truth that the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah serve as an example, by being burned to ashes, of “those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire,” which is “what is going to happen to the ungodly.”[4] 
Chris Date holds the same interpretation of this passage, asserting:
2 Peter 2:6…tells that [sic.] Sodom and Gomorrah were reduced to ashes. And Jude says the destruction of the cities by fire serves as an example of what awaits the wicked, using the Greek word deigma which refers to a specimen of something, not a prefigure or type.[5]
For annihilationists, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is a small-scale exact representation of what will occur at the eschaton. Hence, Peoples emphatically states:
2 Peter 2:6 tells us of God that “by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly.” I cannot conceive of a way to state it more clearly than this. The absolute annihilation that came upon Sodom and Gomorrah serves as “an example of what is coming to the ungodly.”[6] 
In critiquing “the modern version of the eternal torment doctrine,” Joseph Dear urges his readers to “consider Sodom and Gomorrah, and their use as a model for God’s judgment in passages like 2 Peter 2.6 and Jude 7.”[7] He then states that these passages are “a strong indication that hell is a place of annihilation (especially 2 Peter 2:6, since it tells us that God specifically made an example out of them by reducing them to ashes).”[8] Dear emphasizes this point again in footnote 15 of the same article, stating:
The annihilationist is still in much a better position [than the “Traditionalist”], given the Old Testament’s emphasis on Sodom and Gomorrah’s destruction…as well as the specific text of 2 Peter 2:6 which says that God made them an example specifically by incinerating them[9]
The annihilationlist interpretation of 2nd Peter 2:6, as is observable in the above citations, largely rests upon interpreting hypodeigma as signifying a small-scale exact representation.
However, Derek Kidner, in contradiction to the annihilationists quoted above, notes that hypodeigma signifies “a ‘model’, almost in the sense in which scientists sometimes use the term, to mean not an exact representation but a means of visualising a concept.”[10] Hypodeigma’s first appearance is in John 13:15, where Jesus’ act of washing his disciples’ feet is to be an example for the disciples to follow. Jesus says:
For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.
The footwashing Christ performs is an instance of humble service toward one’s brother. The point is not that the disciples should literally do as Christ has done to them, but that the disciples should look at Christ’s act of washing their feet and serve one another with a humility that is comparable to what they have just observed. As John Gill explains:
Our Lord’s meaning is, that as he had, by this action, given them an example of humility, condescension, and love; so they should exercise these graces, and perform such kind offices to one another, and to all their fellow Christians.[11]
Some commentators, in fact, have noted that Christ’s use of the word hypodeigma indicates that the footwashing/humble service is actually a sign/model/pattern of a greater act of cleansing through humble service, viz. the crucifixion of the Son of God for sinners. R. Alan Culpepper traces hypodeigma’s use in the Gospel of John to its use in the LXX. There it signifies not merely an example in general, but the exemplary death of a believer.[12] Culpepper, consequently, states that
the reader cannot literally allow the Lord to wash his or her feet, but the reader can understand and believe that Jesus’ death revealed the love of God for his own in the world eis telos (“completely,” “finally”) and that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God. The footwashing scene, therefore, functions metaphorically and proleptically in relation to Jesus’ death. It clarifies in advance the meaning of Jesus’ death (so the reader will be better able understand its significance when it is narrated) and be further disposed to respond with belief.[13]
Similarly, David Wenham identifies Jesus’ act of washing his disciples’ feet as “an acted parable of his death.”[14] Wenham continues:
On the cross Jesus was to demonstrate the extent of his love by ‘laying aside his garment’ (literally and metaphorically) and undergoing the greatest humiliation possible. In washing the disciples’ feet Jesus explains that his death is lowly service for others, that his purpose in dying is to wash them (from their sins, of course)[15]
The “example” of humble service and self-sacrifice, according to these authors, encompasses even the cross itself. What is not intended by Christ is that his activity of footwashing be repeated identically by the disciples, but that his humble service toward others and self-sacrifice be followed throughout their lives.
This understanding of hypodeigma is also borne out by its second occurrence in Heb 4:11, where it signifies a particular instance of unbelief and hardening of one’s heart. The author writes:
Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.[16]
The “same sort” of disobedience is also translatable as “example,”[17] or “pattern,”[18] indicating again that what the writer intends to communicate is much broader than a small-scale exact representation. The sort of unbelief exhibited in the wilderness wanderers is not identical to the sort of unbelief warned of in the book of Hebrews. What is identical in both instances of unbelief, rather, is simply unbelief in God’s Word.
Likewise in the third instance of hypodeigma (Heb 8:5), God tells Moses to “see that [he] make[s] everything according to the pattern [hypodeigma] that was shown [to him] on the mountain.” The pattern is the tabernacle itself, the type of what is contained in heaven, as Heb 9:23 makes clear:
Thus it was necessary for the copies [hypodeigma] of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.
The pattern is the type of the heavenly realities which are qualitatively dissimilar. David E. Garland explains, that the “author’s word hypodeigma (GK 5682; ‘preliminary sketch’ rather than ‘copy’; see note) relates this earthly tabernacle not so much back to the original blueprint as forward to the true heavenly sanctuary it inadequately represents.”[19]
In the fourth instance of hypodeigma, James 5:10 reads:
As an example [hypodeigma] of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.
Dan G. McCartney correctly notes that James’ “concern is with the pattern of faith in the face of adversity and pressures toward unbelief, a pattern of faith set by those whom we now consider ‘blessed.’”[20] The suffering endured patiently by the prophets, as well as Job who is mentioned in the next verse it should be noted, is not identical to the suffering James is admonishing his readers to endure with patience. The example/pattern (hypodeigma), in other words, is not a small-scale exact representation; it is, rather, an instance of a kind of behavior. Job’s suffering and the suffering of the prophets (e.g. Daniel who suffered religious persecution from his contemporaries), despite the drastic differences between them, are said to serve as an example (hypodeigma), thus demonstrating the word signifies a broad similarity, a relationship of analogy and not one of identity.
II. Deigma
The same must be said of δεῖγμα (deigma) which is found in the parallel passage in Jude 7. The word is a hapax legomenon and must, therefore, be understood in light of the much clearer 2nd Peter 2:6. Given that Peter’s use of hypodeigma does not signify a small-scale exact representation but a broadly similar pattern/example/type, and given that Jude’s use of deigma is its only occurrence in the Scriptures and must, therefore, be interpreted in light of its clearer parallel, it cannot be the case that deigma “refers to a specimen of something, [and] not a prefigure or type.[21] Moreover, given Peter’s use of the word hypodeigma in his parallel statement, if Jude’s use of deigma does not mean a prefigurement or type then the Scriptures are self-contradictory. But the Scriptures are not self-contradictory. Therefore, the word deigma does mean prefigurement or type.[22]
III. The Underlying Emphasis
In contradiction to the annihliationist interpretation of 2nd Peter 2:6, the hypodeigma of Sodom and Gomorrah is not a small-scale exact representation of the eschatological fate of the wicked. Rather, Sodom and Gomorrah serve as a type/demonstration or even preliminary sketch of the final end of the wicked. There is not a relationship of qualitative identity between the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah and the fate of the wicked; the relationship is typological. However, there is another sense in which Sodom and Gomorrah serve as an example. Gene L. Green notes that the example in 2nd Peter 2:6, and by implication Jude 7, is a moral example. The focus of Peter’s statement, in other words, is not on the type of punishment received by the wicked but on the fact that they were judged by God. Grene:
Peter’s concern…is primarily with the typological nature of that dreadful event, which God has made into “an example to the ungodly” […] The use of examples in moral instruction was much more common in the ancient Mediterranean world than in contemporary Western culture, whether those examples were positive and to be followed …or negative and therefore to be avoided…The “example” was understood as a “specimen” or “sample,” and in Peter’s view the ancient destruction thus is a sample of the type of doom the ungodly will meet…. We might say that the doom of Sodom and Gomorrah was just a sample of things to come.[23]
Peter, in other words, “shows that despite the heretics’ claim to the contrary, God did certainly judge humanity in the past (2:4–10a). And as God did in the past, so God will do in the future.”[24] E. Michael Green similarly remarks that God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah
in order to bring home to succeeding generations that unrighteousness will end in ruin. False teaching and false behaviour ultimately always produce suffering and disaster, be it in Lot’s day, in Peter’s, or in our own. This is Jude’s point when he says that the punishment of these cities has an eternal quality (Jude 7).[25]

Concluding Remarks
Although 2nd Peter 2:6 is often cited as a proof-text in favor of the doctrine of annihilationism, the text does not teach the doctrine. The annihilationist assumption that hypodeigma signifies a small-scale exact representation is not supportable from the text of Scripture, as hypodeigma always signifies a broadly similar relationship between the example/s and the thing exemplified. Christ’s washing his disciples’ feet is an example (hypodeigma), as are the tabernacle and its accoutrements, and even the prophets mentioned in James 5:10 - and the example/s and things exemplified are not qualitatively identical to one another.
The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is an example (hypodeigma) of what will happen to the ungodly for two reasons. Firstly, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is a type of the eternal destruction facing the wicked. Secondly, despite that Sodom and Gomorrah’s experience of destruction is not qualitatively identical to the destruction facing the wicked in the age to come, it nonetheless serves the purpose of illustrating that God’s judgment against the wicked is not an idle threat (which is the overarching point Peter is making[26]). Just as God said he would judge the wicked men of Sodom and Gomorrah, and he did, so too he will judge the wicked in Peter’s day, and in our own.
2nd Peter 2:6 and Jude 7 do not teach that the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah is a small-scale exact representation of the eschatological fate of the wicked. Rather, they teach that the wicked will face a similar, though not identical, judgment in the age to come. 

They will not escape the eternal wrath of God.

[1] “John” in The New Testament and Ethics: A Book-by-Book Survey ed. Joel B. Green (Michigan: Baker Academic, 2013), Ebook.
[2]Representative of this view, Rethinking Hell contributors, rebutting the traditionalist use of Matthew 18:8 as a proof-text in defense of the orthodox doctrine of Hell, explain:
...the phrase eternal fire is used is in Jude 7, where Jude writes that Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities “serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.” Jude explicitly states that the cities suffered the punishment of eternal fire, as many theologians admit. No wonder the parallel in 2 Peter 2:6 refers to their having been reduced to ashes.
The punishment of eternal fire is therefore not suffering for eternity as everlasting fuel for its flames. Rather, it is the punishment of being utterly destroyed, completely burned up, reduced to nothing but lifeless corpses and ashes by a fire that is eternal insofar as it cannot be quenched—no mere earthly fire but an eternal fire from God.
“Traditionalist Proof-texts Against Conditionalism,” Rethinking Hell, accessed October 30, 2016, (emphasis added)
[3]Why I am An Annihilationist,” Right Reason, accessed October 30, 2016,, 21. (emphasis added)
[4] A Consuming Passion: Essays on Hell and Immortality in Honor of Edward Fudge, Ed. Christopher M. Date and Ron Highfield (Oregon:Wipf and Stock, 2015)137.
[5] “Clearly Wrong: A Response to T. Kurt Jaros,” Rethinking Hell, accessed October 30, 2016, (emphasis added) [nb. This denial of typology is what I have elsewhere identified as the “mention-of-expansion” rule. I have dealt with this unbiblical hermeneutical rule in my article “The Necessity of Typological Exegesis: Refuting the Annihilationist ‘Mention-of-Expansion’ Rule,” Biblical Trinitarian, accessed November 04, 2016,]
[6] Why, Peoples, 11.
[7] “Why the Modern Version of the Eternal Torment Doctrine Falls Short,” Rethinking Hell, accessed October 30, 2016,
[8] ibid. (emphasis added)
[9] Ibid. (emphasis added)
[10] “Preaching from the Old Testament,” in Evangel 8:4 (1990), 12.
[11] John Gill’s Commentary on the Entire Bible, John.
[12] “The Johannine Hypodeigma: A Reading of John 13” in Semeia 53 (1991)142-143,
[13] The Johannine Hypodeigma, Culpepper, 139-140.
[14] “How Jesus Understood the Last Supper: a Parable in Action” in Themelios 20.2 (January 1995), 15.
[15] ibid.
[16] ESV. (emphasis added)
[17] ASV, CEB, KJV, 1599 Geneva Bible, ISV, NIV, NASB, NKJV.
[19] Hebrews-Revelation, eds. Tremper Longman III and David E. Garland (Michigan: Zondervan, 2006), Ebook. (emphasis added).
[20] James (Michigan: Baker, 2009), 242-243.
[21] Clearly Wrong, Date, Rethinking Hell, accessed November 11, 2016, (emphasis added)
[22] In addition to interpreting the more clear assertion of 2nd Peter 2:6 in light of the less clear assertion in Jude 7 (less clear because deigma is a hapax legomenon), some annihilationists have attempted to sought to interpret deigma according to its historical use outside of the text of Scripture. Such a meaning is viable, however, only if there are no parallel uses of the word within the Scriptures. Peter’s use of hypodeigma provides us with the proper understanding of how we are to translate and interpret deigma.
[23] Jude and 2 Peter, eds. Robert W. Yarbrough and Robert H. Stein (Michigan: Baker, 2008), 73.
[24] Jude, Green, 168.
[25] 2 Peter and Jude: An Introduction and Commentary, ed. Leon Morris (Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2009), Ebook.
[26] cf. 2nd Pet 2:3b.