The Use of Literary Forms
My very first revelation on the use of literary forms came with the discovery of a wide variety of literary forms that were used by the Hebrews and also by our Lord. We are all familiar with the Lord’s use of parables. Hebrews 10:1 speaks of the shadows of the Old Testament. Paul ministered with the aid of an allegory in Galatians 4:21-31 and taught with a type, or parable, in Romans 5:14.
Fire is used symbolically in several scriptures. For example, Peter sees our trials and tests as fiery experience: “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you,” 1 Peter 4:12.
In James 3:6, we find some strange allegories concerning the tongue: “And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.” If we take this to be speaking in the natural, we might say, “Oh my, this is awful! When will my tongue catch on fire?”
The trials we go through are said to be fiery. But if we understand this to mean they are severe and destructive to our flesh, we do not need to find Bible proof of it; we all learn this by experience.
In First Corinthians 3:11-15, Paul also uses fire to speak of tests and trials. In this particular text, Paul uses several words symbolically including fire. Fire is also used in other scriptures to represent judgment: “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Yasha Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”
In the above scriptures, we must acknowledge that the gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble, and fire are used symbolically or, in other words, spiritually. Even the building part here is to be spiritually understood. We do not think of the things we do each day as building a house, nor do we think of the trials and persecution as fire that is destroying our wood, hay, and stubble. Yet, if we are to garner any meaning from this text, we must accept the facts as they are. Keeping in mind, as we read, that the natural mind cannot understand the spiritual things; we must not allow our natural understanding to take over.
In the natural, I don’t see buildings along my street that are made of these materials. But if gold, silver, and precious stones are to be taken literally, and I must build my spiritual dwelling place with these materials, my situation is hopeless. I will have to camp alongside the streets of gold when I get to heaven. I will not have a building to dwell in, because I have no gold, silver or precious stones at my disposal.
As spiritual minded Christians, we understand the meaning of all these things. They need not be explained. What about the fire? Do we really understand the spiritual meaning of fire? In Matthew 3:11 the Christians are baptized in fire: “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.” I have never heard any minister say this fire was a natural fire. Can you imagine the reaction of potential converts if we told them that the Savior loved them and was anxious to have them dipped in a natural fire?
I do not expect my Lord to take me down to Geenna or to a lake of fire in the heart of the earth and dip me in a liquid fire when it is time for my fire baptism. But the sinners, their fire is natural because they deserve to be tortured—do they? No! Was I not once in the same spiritual darkness that they are in now? Believe me, it was the unmerited favor of my Redeemer that pulled me free from the blazing fire. I had done nothing to deserve redemption—I was too blind and ignorant to get through the world on my own. I did not have the ability to help anyone find The Way; I was lost in the darkness. Why should I think that others must merit the light before they can have their eyes opened? No one does. There is none righteous, no not one (Romans 3:10). But thank Yahweh, there has been a change—the blood has cleaned us up, and we have now become the righteousness of Yahweh in Christ Yasha (2 Cor. 5:21).
Please notice, Yasha’s earthly ministry ended with the echo of doom reverberating over every city and country side of that nation. The toll of the bell lingered in the ears of every adult. Israel was lost without hope. Was this the final blow sounding over Yahweh’s chosen people? Let us consult the word in Romans 11:25-27: “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.”
Has all Israelites accepted their redemption at this point in time? Obviously not! When will this promise be fulfilled? If redemption is speaking of deliverance from carnal mindedness, which is the inclination to sin, and we believe that it is, it is certainly at a later date than we have been able to mark on our calendars. Will they, like so many of the rest of the world, be saved by fire? We do not deny that there is to be a fiery judgment ahead, but we certainly reject the possibility that it is a natural fire or that it is an act of vengeance. And we certainly reject the notion that it is eternal.
We are well aware that the word eternal (perpetual) appears forty-three times in the New Testament of the King James Version, but it should have been translated age every time except in Romans 1:20-22: “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew Yahweh, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.” And Romans 2:6-7: “Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life:” The meaning of this word, eternal, is, ever enduring, forward and backward.
The other forty-one times the words that are used are the Greek words aion and aionios, which mean age and ages, but have been translated into many different words. As night and day are the opposites, so are age and eternal. Eternal is the antonym of age. Eternal cannot be used in the plural, yet we find aion translated worlds in Hebrews 1:2: “(Yahweh) Has in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds (aionios ages).” And in Hebrews 11:3: “Through faith we understand that the worlds (aionios, ages) were framed by the word of Yahweh, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” Try replacing worlds in these two scriptures with eternal.
Notice Second Timothy 1:8-10: “Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of Yahweh; Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Yasha before the ‘world (aion)’ began, But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Savior Yasha Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”
Again try replacing worlds with eternal in the above scripture. With the help of a good concordance you can find other places where the use of aion will substantiate my theory that aion and aionios do not mean eternal. In the light of this truth, eternal torment is proven to be a fallacy that is only supported by the mistranslation of a Greek word aion that speaks of a limited time