Immortality -- By: J. B. Rowell

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 092:366 (Apr 1935)
Article: Immortality
Author: J. B. Rowell


J. B. Rowell

That Life and Immortality are not synonymous terms is clear from the Scripture which speaks of “our Saviour Jesus Christ, Who hath annulled death, and brought life and immortality [incorruptibility] to light through the Gospel” (2 Timothy 1:10). It is the confusing of these terms which has brought spiritual shipwreck to many. One far-reaching result of this confusion is the unscriptural term The Immortality of the Soul. It is granted that this term is used on every hand, and also that many theological writers use this expression, but that, in itself, does not make it Scriptural. As careful a writer as A. A. Hodge used this expression. It might, however, be urged, “What difference does it make?” It has made a vast difference to very many in that they have carried the conception conveyed in the term Immortality of the Soul, into such Scriptures as 1 Timothy 6:16 which speaks of “our Lord Jesus Christ” as “The King of kings, and Lord of lords Who only [or, Who alone] hath immortality (ἀθανασίαν)”, which is in direct accord with the word from the Psalms, “neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption” (Psalm 16:10; Acts 2:27). Further, in Romans 2:7 we read “To them by patient continuance in well doing seek for [are seeking for]...immortality [incorruptibility ἀφθαρσίαν], eternal life.” Now, if it be maintained that immortality refers to the soul, then it follows that the immortality of the soul is not the common lot of mankind but is rather the condition gained, or awarded, those “who by patient continuance in well doing are seeking for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life.” Consequently, upon this confusion of Biblical terms is based the grievous error known as Conditional Immortality, which teaches that (1) Immortality is conditioned on faith; and (2) annihilation of the wicked and unbelieving. This is sufficient to show the importance of this present study.

It is granted that the Bible does not shed as much light on this subject as it does on other of the great fundamental truths; nevertheless, it gives us enough light to enable us to have a clear understanding as to what God’s revelation is concerning it. If therefore, this paper makes clear a truth which has been confused in the minds of thousands, then it will not be in vain.

That we may realise the importance of this study let us stat...

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