Demon Mortality: a brief rejoinder to Corey McLaughlin

Demon Mortality: a brief rejoinder to Corey McLaughlin

  Editor’s Note: This article comes as a response to comments from Corey McLaughlin on Jefferson Vann’s article, “   Demon Mortality and Revelation 20:10   ”.  Corey McLaughlin has written elsewhere on this topic in his articles  “A Devil of a Dilemma”    Part 1   and   Part 2   .

Editor’s Note: This article comes as a response to comments from Corey McLaughlin on Jefferson Vann’s article, “Demon Mortality and Revelation 20:10”. Corey McLaughlin has written elsewhere on this topic in his articles “A Devil of a Dilemma” Part 1 and Part 2.

Deeper into the “rabbit hole” we go, my friend!

For the sake of being both comprehensive and concise, allow me to restate your assertions in your most recent comments in the form of questions.

1.    Have Conditionalists misunderstood the meaning of the word “alone” in 1 Timothy 6:16?

2.    Does Luke 20:36 unequivocally teach that angels are immortal?

3.    Does Revelation 20:10 assert that the lake of fire will never end, and prove the assertion by the expression “unto the ages of the ages” it contains and by the fact that the chapter never explicitly says that it will end?


1.     Have Conditionalists misunderstood the meaning of the word “alone” in
1 Timothy 6:16?

I suggest reviewing the 49 passages in the Pauline epistles which include the word μόνος.  These are Romans 1:32; 3:29; 4:12, 16, 23; 5:3, 11; 8:23; 9:10, 24; 11:3; 13:5; 16:4, 27; 1 Corinthians 7:39; 9:6; 14:36; 15:19; 2 Corinthians 7:7; 8:10, 19, 21; 9:12; Galatians 1:23; 2:10; 3:2; 4:18; 5:13; 6:4, 12; Ephesians 1:21; Philippians 1:27, 29; 2:12, 27; 4:15; Colossians 4:11; 1 Thessalonians 1:5, 8; 2:8; 3:1; 2 Thessalonians 2:7; 1 Timothy. 1:17; 5:13; 6:15-16; 2 Timothy. 2:20; 4:8, 11.

Modern English versions of the New Testament consistently use the words onlyalone, and merelyto translate μόνος. The word is still popular in modern Greek, with the words single, odd, sole, lone, and single-handedadded to its semantic range.[1] It refers to something or someone who is exclusive of other things or other persons. In fact, if you translate each of the passages above, you could substitute the word “exclusively” in each case.

You claim that there is a basic distinction between the meanings of the words “only” and “alone.” Greek usage does not make that distinction. You cite 1 Timothy 6:15 (μόνος δυνάστης) and suggest that Paul could not mean literally that God is the only ruler since he goes on to mention kings and lords under him. But surely Paul meant to imply that since each of these other rulers is a subordinate, that God is The Ruler in an exclusive sense?

You compare the Reformation slogan sola scriptura as if this Latin phrase can help conceptualize the distinction between a God who is only immortal, and one who is alone at the top of a pile of other immortals. But even that phrase emphasized the exclusive authority of the Scripture. It denied the reformers’ opponents’ claims that popes, councils and traditions shared an equal status with the word of God. 

Consequently, I cannot find evidence that conditionalists have misread the meaning of μόνος in 1 Timothy 6:16. 

2.     Does Luke 20:36 unequivocally teach that angels are immortal?

Luke is the only biblical author to use the adjective ἰσάγγελος to describe the resurrected saints.  Danker defines the word as “like an angel.” In what sense will resurrected humans be like an angel? The verse offers two answers to that question: they cannot die, and they have a special relationship (sonship) to God.

Is this true of all angels, or is it merely true of the elect angels (1 Timothy 5:21) who have not fallen?  The adjective ἰσάγγελοι in Luke 20 is plural, but it also anarthrous. It gives no clue as to whether all angels are referenced, or whether it refers only to those who have not lost their angelic status to become demons.

The clues for answering this question are found in the parallel references to the same statement by Jesus in the other Synoptics. Matthew 22:30 has Jesus referring to the angels ἄγγελοι ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ εἰσιν (angels in the sky/heaven). Mark 12:25 uses the plural ἄγγελοι ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς (angels in the skies). These Greek prepositional phrases that modify ἄγγελοι are significant because they serve to distinguish between angels who have remained faithful to God and those who have not. 

Those angels who have rebelled against God have no claim to immortality. When Jesus enters their presence, they ask him if he has come to destroy them (Mark 1:24; Luke 4:34). They know their fate. Jesus did not contradict them.

I conclude therefore that Luke 20:36 does not unequivocally teach that all angels are immortal. Those who are thrown into the lake of fire will suffer for ages, but will eventually experience the fire’s ultimate purpose: the second death.

3.     Does Revelation 20:10 assert that the lake of fire will never end, and prove the assertion by the expression “unto the ages of the ages” it contains and by the fact that the chapter never explicitly says that it will end?

I have asserted that the phrase εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων predicts that the three beings whose fate is described will suffer literally for ages and ages. That is precisely how the phrase translates. It is unfortunate that the phrase has been consistently mistranslated, but we can see why. To pray for God to be praised εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων is on the face of it to pray for his perpetual praise (Galatians 1:5; Philippians 4:21; 1 Timothy 1:17; 2 Timothy 4:18). To say that praise belongs to God εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων is ostensibly the same as saying he will be praised forever. For Jesus to say that he is alive εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων is basically to affirm his immortality.

But John is not describing God the Father or Jesus in Revelation 20:10. He is describing creatures of God. They do not share God’s attribute of infinity. They had a beginning, and they will have an end. That end is identified in Revelation 20: the second death – so it is not true to assert that the chapter never explicitly says the torment will end. The punishment of these horrible beings will last much longer than that of humans. But John notes its end as an actual, and ultimate death. Paul calls it the penalty of permanent destruction (δίκην τίσουσιν ὄλεθρον αἰώνιον 2 Thessalonians. 1:9).

Revelation 21:8 does not talk about anyone being “confined” to some dark spot within the new creation. It identifies all those who are not going to see the new creation because all of those listed will share the same fate (τὸ μέρος αὐτῶν) mentioned in chapter 20: the second death. 




[1]    https://www.wordhippo.com/what-is/the-meaning-of/greek-word-92cf1c5e8863c8245ff7a78fd51f48c1009a6a17.html

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