The Meaning of Destroy

by A.E. Knoch

WE have been invited to reply at length to an article which claims that the term lost apollumi means "putting out of existence," in a word, annihilation. No lengthy refutation is necessary. One text is sufficient to show its absurdity. "The Son of Man is come to seek and to save that" which is nonexistent! The word lost is the perfect tense of destroy. It means those who are in a state of destruction, not merely who will be destroyed at some future time. All men are lost, now, apart from Christ. In every case that which is destroyed is capable of being saved. It is because men are lost that they can be saved. We are urged to believe that, when men are lost, salvation is impossible, thus reversing the Scriptures.

Annihilation is a vast advance on eternal torment. It is based on the great truth that Christ only can give life. The pagan, non-scriptural, unscriptural notion of "natural" immortality is a delusion and a snare. But it is also based on the grave error that death, the last enemy, will not be abolished (1 Cor.15:26). The denial of this truth leads them to give some occurrences of destruction a secondary sense of "putting out of existence."

Annihilation gives a little relief as to the character of God. He is not quite so fiendish as to torment eternally. But most distressing problems still remain. The terrible toll of suffering which comes to unbelievers in this life is all wasted. It is an irradicable blot on God's character, when He could mercifully annihilate sinners before they suffer. This is aggravated and rendered intolerable by the resurrection of condemnation. Why bring back the dead to life in order to give them still more pain and anguish and distress, if they are to be annihilated thereafter? Does God surfeit Himself on the sufferings of His creatures? This is inhuman. It is ungodly. Death will be abolished (1 Cor.15:26)! Mankind will be justified (Rom.5:18)! All will be reconciled (Col.1:20)! That is Godlike!

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