Maxey - Thrasher Debate

Eternal Destiny of the Wicked
Perpetual Torment or Ultimate Extinction
(An In-Depth Biblical Discussion)

Wednesday, February 13, 2002

Thomas Thrasher's Comments
on Death and Aionios

In concluding his second article, Al wrote: "The pathway to discovery is laid out before us. It is now time to begin the journey." I am prepared to do just that in the course of the present offering. Before doing so, however, I will review a few remarks made by my friend.


In his first article Al said, "After a couple of years of perhaps the most intense and extensive study of a topic I have ever done, I had to admit that Edward was basically right in his conclusions. In the years since, I have continued to do research and study on this issue." Notice that Al's study had been "intense and extensive" on our subject starting in the 1980's, and his "research and study" has continued "in the years since."

In his second article he states, "I am convinced the greater body of evidence points to an ultimate Truth, even though I have yet to fully reconcile to my own satisfaction a few troubling passages which seem, at first glance, inconsistent with that Truth." He also says, "A couple of passages still puzzle me somewhat and seem, at least on the surface, to challenge my conclusions."

It appears to me that these "few troubling passages" not only seemed inconsistent with Al's view "at first glance," but even after years of intense study on this subject, he has not been able to "fully reconcile" them! My brother, you have aroused my curiosity (and, no doubt, the curiosity of many of our readers). What are these "few troubling passages"? Please do not keep us in suspense!

Al overlooked my request that he "explain to us how Ed's views were wrong (and, consequently, how Al's view is different from Ed's)." Instead, he said, "Although Edward and I agree on many points, that is totally irrelevant." The reason for my asking this was that many have read, or will read, Ed's book (that Al brought up!). If Ed's conclusions are "basically right," then they are evidently WRONG on some points. In fairness to the readers of Ed's book, Al should inform us of those wrong conclusions so that we can avoid being misled or confused by them, especially since Al relies so heavily on The Fire That Consumes. Notice a few examples:

It is obvious that Al relies heavily on The Fire That Consumes in the defense of his position. Therefore, I call upon him to tell us how his position differs from Ed's.

As urged by Hodge, I will seek to ascertain the meaning of DEATH and AIONIOS to see if their use supports Al's assertions in his second article. These words involve matters of significant difference between Al and me. Investigation of other words crucial to our discussion will be undertaken in subsequent articles.


Al says, "The ultimate destiny of the unredeemed is DEATH." I agree. He also says, "I believe commitment to the lake of fire is a DEATH sentence," and again I agree. However, he assumes that "death" is extinction/annihilation/cessation of existence.

This was also the case with Ed Fudge in The Fire That Consumes. I cite a few instances of the "extinction" terminology from that book, endorsed by Al as "basically right in his conclusions."

When people misunderstand or incorrectly define words, they usually reach false conclusions. This is a fundamental problem of those who teach error. Let us seek to understand what "death" is, according to the Scriptures.

In 1 Timothy 5:6 the apostle Paul wrote (the emphasis is mine):

If "death" is "extinction," then how could this woman be DEAD while she was LIVING? How can one EXIST and yet NOT EXIST at the same time? The truth is: "Death" is not NON-EXISTENCE, it is SEPARATION! This woman in 1 Timothy 5:6 was DEAD spiritually (separated from God because of her sins), although she was ALIVE physically (her spirit had not separated from her body).

"Death" in the New Testament is usually translated from "thanatos" (Strong's #2288).

My conclusion is that "death" is a SEPARATION, not an EXTINCTION as Al's position on the eternal destiny of the wicked requires.


I will list every occurrence of "aionios" in the New Testament. Notice how this word is translated in the KJV (in UPPER CASE) and the ASV [in brackets].

As you see, in the great majority of cases, "aionios" is translated by the word "eternal."

A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich, Danker) defines "aionios" as "eternal" and gives three subcategories: "without beginning," "without beginning or end," and "without end." Matthew 18:8, 25:41, 25:46, Mark 3:29, 2 Thessalonians 1:9, and Hebrews 6:2 are all specifically listed in this lexicon in category 3: "WITHOUT END"!

Apart from reliance upon a multitude of denominational authors (who have scarcely a notion of the true scheme of redemption or of God's kingdom) and a few brethren to whom such writers offer some sort of attractive appeal, the Bible makes very clear the meaning of "aionios" with respect to:

And also (as indicated above) with respect to:

Let us persevere in warning the unregenerate and unfaithful about their existence throughout eternity, rather than proclaiming a false hope of their eventual EXTINCTION!

Home Index