The Missouri Baptist Convention has published a new resource called The Last Apologist: A Commentary on Jude for Defenders of the Christian Faith. The 275-page book is available in print and Kindle editions on Amazon, and in print from the MBC. But we also want to make each of the 16 chapters available online. This post features the last portion of Chapter 9: Where Does Jude Get This Story?
Yet Michael the archangel, when he was disputing with the Devil in a debate about Moses’ body, did not dare bring an abusive condemnation against him, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” (Jude 9 HCSB)
The death of Moses is recorded in Deut. 34:1-7, but there is no mention in this passage of Michael and Satan disputing about Moses’ body. There are many Jewish traditions about the death of Moses, but we should always approach non-biblical embellishments with caution.
In Jude’s day, however, there is an apocryphal writing called The Assumption of Moses that records a conflict between Michael and Satan. According to this account, Satan argues over the body of Moses because Moses has killed an Egyptian overseer (Ex. 2:11-12). Satan evidently argues his right to the body because Moses is a murderer.
We should not assume that Jude has erred in quoting from an apocryphal book, nor should we declare The Assumption of Moses divinely inspired because Jude quotes from it. It may help to remember that Paul cites Greek poets and sayings without suggesting their work is authoritative (Acts 17:28; 1 Cor. 15:33; Titus 1:12).
“Jude did not intend to put a canonical stamp on Assumption of Moses simply because he cited it,” writes Thomas Schreiner. “He viewed this story as true or helpful, or he believed it was an illustration of the truth he desired to teach.”
The Missouri Baptist Convention has published a new resource called The Last Apologist: A Commentary on Jude for Defenders of the Christian Faith. The 275-page book is available in print and Kindle editions on Amazon, and in print from the MBC. But we also want to make each of the 16 chapters available online. This post features the first portion of Chapter 9: The Lord Rebuke You: Michael and the Devil.
Nevertheless, these dreamers likewise defile their flesh, despise authority, and blaspheme glorious beings. Yet Michael the archangel, when he was disputing with the Devil in a debate about Moses’ body, did not dare bring an abusive condemnation against him, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” But these people blaspheme anything they don’t understand, and what they know by instinct, like unreasoning animals – they destroy themselves with these things. (Jude 8-10 HCSB)
Several years ago as I trimmed grass in my yard, a small garter snake slithered out from the weeds. He coiled and struck my electronic weed trimmer. This was an odd scene, as garter snakes generally flee predators and prefer to hide their heads and flail their tails rather than move aggressively. They also discharge a malodorous, musky-scented secretion to ward off danger, or simply slither away into the brush. Even when they do attack, the mild venom in the fangs in the backs of their mouths is muted by large gums in the front, making it difficult to deliver venom to larger predators.
So, the sight of this relatively harmless snake, less than a foot in length, taking the fight to my weed trimmer, was curious to say the least. His open jaws were far too small to capture the housing of the trimmer, and he bounced backward after his first strike. Then, he recoiled and struck again. And again. Then he struck a final time, connecting with the whirring fishing line beneath the housing, which spun him around a couple of times and tossed him several feet into a ditch, where he gave up the fight (and ultimately, the ghost).
How remarkable was the snake’s tenacity in the face of overwhelming odds. But even more notable was the realization that the snake could not distinguish between a lethal living predator and a buzzing weed whacker. It cost him his life.
We see a similar comparison in Jude, as the author likens false teachers to brute beasts who operate on instinct, are incapable of reasoning, and who bring swift and certain destruction on themselves as they speak arrogantly to demons, pollute their souls, and slough off the authority of their Creator.
This is the fifth in a series of articles on biblical terms that describe the afterlife and the unseen world.
If Sheol or Hades is the temporary abode of deceased people, is there a transitory place of punishment for some demons?
It seems the answer is yes, in a place the New Testament refers to as Tartarus.
Tartarus is mentioned only once, in 2 Peter 2:4. Many translations render it “hell,” including the King James Version and the New American Standard Bible, while others, like the English Standard Version and the New International Version, provide footnotes linking the English word “hell” to the Greek name Tartarus.
The Holman Christian Standard Bible simply transliterates the Greek word in this passage, which reads: “For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but threw them down into Tartarus and delivered them to be kept in chains of darkness until judgment …”
A footnote in the HCSB reads: “Tartarus is a Greek name for a subterranean place of divine punishment lower than Hades.”
In the apocryphal Book of Enoch (20:2), Tartarus is used as a place where fallen angels are punished, an interpretation Peter affirms.
So, Tartarus seems to be a place separate from Sheol, the Hebrew term for the abode of the dead; Hades, roughly the Greek equivalent of Sheol; and Gehenna, the lake of fire created for the Devil and his angels (Matt. 25:41) where wicked people also spend eternity (Rev. 20:15).
Ancient Greeks regarded Tartarus as a place where rebellious gods and other wicked ones are punished. Peter refers to Tartarus as the abode of certain fallen angels.
Previously: The rest of the dead – Revelation 20:5-6
Rev. 20:7 – When the 1,000 years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison 8 and will go out to deceive the nations at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle. Their number is like the sand of the sea. (HCSB)
Satan will be released
Verses 7-8 read, “When the 1,000 years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle. Their number is like the sand of the sea.”
Satan’s release from the abyss (Greek phulakes or prison) appears related to the well-known prophecy in Ezekiel 38-39. While there are similarities between these passages, there also are differences. The question has been raised as to whether the battle in Rev. 20:7-8 is the same battle prophesied in Ezekiel 38–39, where Gog and Magog also are mentioned (Ezek. 38:2).
These appear to be two different battles, however, for in the war of Ezekiel 38–39 the armies come primarily from the north and involve only a few nations of the earth, while the battle in Revelation 20 involves all nations. These two events are related, however, inasmuch as Israel is the focal point in both conflicts.
Why is Satan imprisoned for a time and then released? Why not cast him into hell before the 1,000 years? Joseph A. Seiss writes, “God uses even the wickedest of beings, and overrules the worst depravity, to his own good and gracious ends. He allows Satan liberty, and denies him liberty, and gives him liberty again, not because the Devil or the Devil’s malice is necessary to him, but to show his power to bring good out of evil, to make even the worst of creatures praise him, and to turn their very wickedness to the furtherance of the purposes they would fain defeat” (The Apocalypse, p. 476).
Previously: The first resurrection – Revelation 20:4b-5
Rev. 20:5 – The rest of the dead did not come to life until the 1,000 years were completed. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of the Messiah, and they will reign with Him for 1,000 years.
The rest of the dead
John writes, “The rest of the dead did not come to life until the 1,000 years were completed” (v.5). He then mentions that their fate is the “second death” (v.6). John tells us in verse 15 that the second death is “the lake of fire” into which death and hades are cast.
More will be said about this subject in our discussion of the great white throne judgment (Rev. 20:11-15), but it’s important to note that John sees a clear separation between the first and second resurrections and, as we’ll see shortly, different destinations for those who take part in the first and second resurrections.
It’s important to note that the second death has no power over the redeemed (v. 6). The finished work of Christ assures that all who come to Him by faith are released from the penalty of sin. Once they were dead spiritually but now they have everlasting life. They will die physically one day but will be raised and given glorified bodies similar to the resurrected body of Jesus. The lake of fire is not created for them, nor will they experience it.
In contrast, the lake of fire is created for Satan and his demons, and these evil creatures most assuredly spend eternity there. Joining them are those who reject Christ. They have chosen to spend eternity in a place not made for them.