Vol. 6, No. 6
~ Page 4 ~
According to Thayer (p. 64), the first meaning of the Greek word apollumi is "to destroy, i.e., to put out of the way entirely, abolish, put an end to, ruin: Mark 1:24; Luke 4:34; 17:27, 29; Jude 5." I failed to notice that Thayer also gives a "metaph" meaning, "to devote or give over to eternal misery: Matthew 10:28; James 4:12." His statement means that my translation of Matthew 10:28 and James 4:12, with the word "destroy" is wrong:
Fear not those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of him who can destroy both soul and body in hell (Matthew 10:28).
There is one Lawgiver and Judge, the one able to save and destroy. Who are you to judge your neighbor? (James 4:12).
Thayer's metaphorical meaning of apollumi in Matthew 10:28 and James 4:12 would have this reading:
Fear not those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of him who can give over to eternal misery both soul and body in hell (Matthew 10:28).
There is one Lawgiver and Judge, the one able to save and to give over to eternal misery. Who are you to judge your neighbor?
Vine agrees with Thayer that lost people in hell have not been destroyed, writing that apollumi does not here mean "extinction, but ruin, loss, not of being but of well being."
Vine's definition of apollumi fits what the father said about his prodigal son: "He was lost [apollumi], but has been found" (Luke 15:32), and fits what Jesus said about us all, "Indeed, the Son of man has come to seek and to save the lost [apollumi]" (Luke 19:10).
Thayer's metaphorical meaning of apollumi fits both Jesus' words and James' words. Nobody in hell is ever destroyed! Moreover, nobody in hell ever dies! Figuratively, hell is a "second death" (Revelation 20:14; 21:8), but that phrase cannot be understood literally. If anyone in hell dies a second time, then he would not suffer torment "forever and ever" (Revelation 14:10-11; 20:10). If a sinner dies in hell, the "unquenchable fire" in "the lake of fire and brimstone" (Mark 9:43; Revelation 20:10) would not bother him very long! It would be a relief to sinners in hell if they could die, for hell is a place "where the worm dies not, and the fire is not quenched" (Isaiah 14:11; 66:24; Job 17:14; 21:26; 24:20; Mark 9:48).