For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The Biblical word 'perish' has an extremely interesting translational profile. It is the rendering of thirteen different words or word patterns and yet eleven of those account for only twelve verses. The other one hundred and six references come from two words; one Hebrew and one Greek. In this paper I shall aim to look first at the eleven minor definitions of 'perish' before moving on to the two dominant ones.
The first time we encounter 'perish' in the Bible is in Gen 41:36 where Joseph states that food should be stored for seven years so that the land should not perish through famine. The word perish is a rendered of kârath (H3772). The word literally means to cut down or asunder. It is rendered 'cut' on 175 occasions and 'make' 81.
The second occurrence of 'perish' is in Exo 19:21 when it is a rendering of nâphal (H5307). The Lord is instructing Moses not to allow the people to gaze lest they perish. The word literally means to fall which is how it is rendered 355 times. It is also translated 'cast' (24), down(9), divide(4), failed(4) and others.
The third 'perish' is in Exo 21:26 where it describes the condition of a slave that has had an eye perish through being struck. The word perish here is shâchath H7843; which means to decay or ruin. It is rendered destroy(95), corrupt(22) or mar(6).
The next of the more minor definitions of perish occurs in 1Sa 26:10, 27:1; it is used by David to describe a possible fate of someone in battle. The word rendered perish is sâphâh (H5595) but it is used in contrast to death. The word literally means 'to scrape' or to 'snatch away'; thus David is probably viewing this person as being captured by the enemy. It is otherwise rendered: consume(5), destroy(5), add(3)
Another word rendered 'perish' is ‛âbar (H5674) which really means to transition between two things. It is generally rendered: over(177), pass(154), passed(117), go(52) and others. However in Job 36:12 it is used to describe the fate of the wicked by the sword. Thus it is describing that transition between life and death.
The last of the Hebrew words that have a minor 'perish' rendering is dâmâh (H1820) which occurs in Psa 49:12,20. On other occasions it is part of the expression 'beasts that perish'. Strong's suggest that dâmâh really means to be dumb or silent; in which case that would strike me as a perfectly reasonable translation here: 'beasts that are dumb'. Brown, Driver & Briggs rather suggests the word means to cause to cease or to cut off: which would support 'perish' as a translation. The word is otherwise rendered: cut(5), brought(2), silence(2) and others once.
The first of the minor Greek sources of 'perish' is really an expression 'eiēn eis apōleia' which is literally 'might go into ruin or loss'. The word for ruin and loss is also rendered perdition (8), destruction(5) and waste(2). The phrase was used by Peter to describe his preferred fate of the money he had been offered to purchase the gift of God (Acts 8:20).
Paul offers the next Greek word rendered 'perish'; this time in Acts 13:41. Here he is describing his preferred fate of those that refuse to believe the Gospel. This time the word is aphanizō (G853) and means to 'render unapparent' or 'disappear'. The word is rendered as corrupt(2), disfigure(1), perish(1) and vanisheth(1).
The next word for perish is diaphtheirō (G1311) which means to 'rot thoroughly' or to completely decay. It is used to describe the condition of the outward man in 2Co 4:16. It is also rendered as destroy on three occasions and corrupt twice.
The next Greek expression rendered as 'perish' also focuses upon the notion of decay; but this time describes the condition of heading towards decay. The expression is eis phthora (G1515, G5356) and occurs in Col 2:22 and describes the fate of the law (which of course is designed to restrict the outward man whom we saw in the previous paragraph is rotting thoroughly!) Phthora is also rendered corruption(7) and destroyed(1).
The final of the minor Greek sources of 'perish' is really 'utterly perish' and has a similar root to the previous word. It is kataphtheirō (G2704) which means to 'rot down'. The word is used in 2Pe 2:12 to describe the outcome of false teachers; whom we are told just 'rot down in their own corruption'. The word is also rendered 'corrupt' on one occasion.
Reading the above one might readily imagine that just about every form of perishing has been covered. We have seen people being cut, falling down, being beaten, dying, entering perdition, rotting thoroughly, beginning to rot and even rotting down to nothing. Yet none of the above is the dominant meaning of 'perish'.
The dominant meaning of 'perish' in the Bible is provided by 'âbad H6 and the Aramaic equivalent ăbad H7. This is described by Strong as a primitive root meaning to wander away or to lose oneself. The word is rendered perish(98), destroy(60), lost(9) and a number of others once.
The commonest Greek source of the word perish is similar but rather more aggressive. The word is apollumi (G622); which essentially means to 'cut away'. The word is rendered perish(33), lose(28) and destroy(26). We see that the end effect is thus the same as 'âbad; namely that you should be 'apart from'. The difference is that in the Hebrew the focus is that one should put oneself in that position; the Greek view is rather that you could be put in that situation.
I think that in many ways this word study forms a message in its own right. There are many ways in which people and things can and do perish. Many of them are violent and, to use a modern expression, 'totally gross'. Nonetheless, from the Biblical perspective, by far the commonest method of perishing is to cut oneself off or to be cut off from the fellowship of God and His people. May this encourage us in our pursuit of the lost.
 (Strong, H3772)
 (Strong, H5307)
 (Strong, H7843)
 (Brown, Driver and Briggs, H5595)
 (Strong, H5674)
 From the Strong's descriptions of G1498, G1519 and G684
 (Strong, G1311)
 (Strong, G2704)
 (Strong, G622)
MLA: Bayliss, D.A. "Perish." Bible Exposition. 02/22/2015. Web. February 22, 2015----------
The Wicked Shall Perish: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). A double enunciation of the truth is couched in this short text. It is that eternal life is to be obtained only through Christ, and that all who do not thus obtain it will eventually perish. John testifies further on the same point in his first epistle (1 John 5:11): "And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son." From which it follows, as a most natural consequence, that "he that hath not the Son of God hath not life." Verse 12.
Biblical references of the word PERISH
that the land PERISH not through the famine
lest they break through unto the LORD to gaze, and many of them PERISH
if a man smite the eye of his servant…that it PERISH
ye shall PERISH among the heathen… the land of your enemies shall eat you up
went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed upon them: and they PERISHED
Behold, we die, we PERISH, we all PERISH
Heshbon is PERISHED even unto Dibon, and we have laid them waste
his latter end shall be that he PERISH for ever
he also shall PERISH for ever (Alas, who shall live when God doeth this! v. 23)
ye shall soon utterly PERISH… ye shall not prolong your days… but shall utterly be destroyed
I testify against you this day that ye shall surely PERISH
As the nations which the LORD destroyeth before your face, so shall ye PERISH
the LORD's wrath… no rain… and lest ye PERISH quickly from off the good land
A Syrian ready to PERISH was my father
until thou be destroyed, and until thou PERISH quickly
consumption… a fever… the sword… (etc.) they shall pursue thee until thou PERISH
ye shall surely PERISH… ye shall not prolong your days
that man PERISHED not alone in his iniquity (Achan, who was stoned and burned- 7:25)
they shall be snare and traps… until ye PERISH from off this good land
then shall the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and ye shall PERISH quickly
So let all thine enemies PERISH, O LORD
1 Samuel 26:10
his day shall come to die; or he shall descend into battle, and PERISH
1 Samuel 27:1
I shall now PERISH one day by the hand of Saul
2 Samuel 1:27
How are the mighty fallen, and the weapons of war PERISHED (Cf. v. 25- slain)
2 Kings 9:8
the whole house of Ahab shall PERISH: and I will cut off from Ahab
to destroy, to kill, and to cause to PERISH, all Jews
and if I PERISH, I PERISH (Cf. v. 11- to put him to death)
to be destroyed, to be slain, and to PERISH
to destroy, to slay, and to cause to PERISH
days of Purim should not fail… nor the memorial of them PERISH
Let the day PERISH wherein I was born (Cf. v.5- Let darkness and the shadow of death stain it)
who ever PERISHED, being innocent? or where were the righteous cut off?
By the blast of God they PERISH, and by the breath of his nostrils are they consumed
The old lion PERISHETH for lack of prey
They are destroyed from morning to evening: they PERISH for ever without any regarding it
They go to nothing, and PERISH (Cf. v. 17- they vanish… they are consumed)
the hypocrite's hope shall PERISH (Cf. v. 12- withereth; v. 14 – cut off; v. 15 – not endure)
His remembrance shall PERISH, and he shall have no name in the street
Yet he shall PERISH for ever like his own dung: they which have seen him shall say, Where is he?
The blessing of him that was ready to PERISH came upon me
whereto might the strength of their hands profit me, in whom old age was PERISHED?
If I have seen any PERISH from want of clothing
He keepeth back his soul from the pit, and his life from PERISHING by the sword
All flesh shall PERISH together, and man shall turn again unto dust
they shall PERISH by the sword, and they shall die without knowledge
the way of the ungodly shall PERISH
Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye PERISH from the way
When my enemies are turned back, they shall fall and PERISH at thy presence
a perpetual end… destroyed… their memorial is PERISHED with them (Cf. v. 5- for ever and ever)
the expectation of the poor shall not PERISH for ever
The LORD is king for ever and ever: the heathen are PERISHED out of his land
the wicked shall PERISH… they shall consume; into smoke shall they consume away
Mine enemies speak evil of me, When shall he die, and his name PERISH?
he seeth that wise men die, likewise the fool and brutish person PERISH
man being in honour abideth not: he is like the beasts that PERISH
Man that is in honour, and understandeth not, is like the beasts that PERISH
as wax melteth before the fire, so let the wicked PERISH at the presence of God
they that are far from thee shall PERISH: thou hast destroyed all them that go a whoring from thee
It is burned with fire, it is cut down: they PERISH at the rebuke of thy countenance
Which PERISHED at Endor: they became as dung for the earth
Let them be confounded and troubled for ever; yea, let them be put to shame, and PERISH
thine enemies shall PERISH; all the workers of iniquity shall be scattered
They shall PERISH, but thou shalt endure (Cf. v. 27- thy years shall have no end)
he shall gnash with his teeth, and melt away: the desire of the wicked shall PERISH
Unless thy law had been my delights, I should then have PERISHED in mine affliction
His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts PERISH
the expectation of the wicked shall PERISH (Cf. v. 27- the years of the wicked shall be shortened)
When a wicked man dieth, his expectation shall PERISH: and the hope of unjust men PERISHETH
when the wicked PERISH, there is shouting
A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall PERISH
A false witness shall PERISH: but the man that heareth speaketh constantly
When the wicked rise, men hide themselves: but when they PERISH, the righteous increase
Where there is no vision, the people PERISH
Give strong drink unto him that is ready to PERISH
those riches PERISH by evil travail: and he begetteth a son, and there is nothing in his hand
a just man that PERISHETH in his righteousness… a wicked man that prolongeth his life
their love…hatred… envy, is now PERISHED, neither have they any more portion for ever
dead, they shall not live… deceased… destroyed them, and made all their memory to PERISH
they shall come which were ready to PERISH
the wisdom of their wise men shall PERISH
ashamed and confounded: they shall be as nothing: and they that strive with thee shall PERISH
The righteous PERISH, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away
the nation and kingdom… shall PERISH; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted
the heart of the king shall PERISH
the fathers and the sons together shall fall upon them; the neighbor and his friend shall PERISH
truth is PERISHED, and is cut off from their mouth
the land PERISHETH and is burned up like a wilderness
even they shall PERISH from the earth
in the time of their visitation they shall PERISH
the law shall not PERISH from the priest
that I should drive you out, and ye should PERISH
that I might drive you out, and that ye might PERISH
wherefore should he slay thee, that all the Jews… and the remnant in Judah PERISH?
the valley also shall PERISH, and the plain shall be destroyed
he riches that he hath gotten are PERISHED
he people of Chemosh PERISHETH (Cf. v. 45- a fire… a flame… shall devour)
Is wisdom no more in Teman? is counsel PERISHED from the prudent? is their wisdom vanished?
in the time of their visitation they shall PERISH
My strength and my hope is PERISHED from the LORD
the law shall PERISH from the priest
I will cause thee to PERISH out of the countries: I will destroy thee
that Daniel and his fellows should not PERISH (Cf. v. 13- the wise men should be slain)
the harvest of the field is PERISHED
I will cut off the inhabitant from Ashdod… the remnant of the Philistines shall PERISH
the flight will PERISH from the swift
I will smite the winter house… houses of ivory shall PERISH, and the great houses shall have an end
if so be that God will think upon us, that we PERISH not
let us not PERISH for this man's life
Who can tell if God will turn and repent… that we PERISH not?
the gourd… came up in a night, and PERISHED in a night (the worm smote it that it withered- v.7)
is there no king in thee? is thy counsellor PERISHED?
The good man is PERISHED out of the earth: and there is none upright among men
the king shall PERISH from Gaza, and Ashkelon shall not be inhabited
that one of thy members should PERISH, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell
that one of thy members should PERISH, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell
his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we PERISH
the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and PERISHED in the waters
else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles PERISH
it is not the will of your Father… that one of these little ones should PERISH
all they that take the sword shall PERISH with the sword
Master, carest thou not that we PERISH?
else the new wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles shall PERISH
they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we PERISH
From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias which PERISHED
I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise PERISH
I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise PERISH
it cannot be that a prophet PERISH out of Jerusalem (Cf. v. 31- for Herod will kill thee)
How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough… and I PERISH with hunger!
But there shall not an hair of your head PERISH
That whosoever believeth in him should not PERISH, but have eternal life
that whosoever believeth in him should not PERISH, but have everlasting life
Labour not for the meat which PERISHETH, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life
And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never PERISH
that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation PERISH not
he also PERISHED (Cf. v. 36- who was slain)
But Peter said unto him, Thy money PERISH with thee
Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and PERISH
For as many as have sinned without law shall also PERISH without law
1 Corinthians 1:18
the preaching of the cross is to them that PERISH foolishness; but unto us… it is the power of God
1 Corinthians 8:11
And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother PERISH, for whom Christ died?
1 Corinthians 15:18
Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are PERISHED
2 Corinthians 2:15
in them that are saved, and in them that PERISH
2 Corinthians 4:16
though our outward man PERISH, yet the inward man is renewed day by day
Which are all to PERISH with the using
2 Thessalonians 2:10
with all deceiveableness of unrighteousness in them that PERISH
They shall PERISH; but thou remainest
By faith the harlot Rahab PERISHED not with them that believed not
the grace of the fashion of it PERISHETH: so also shall the rich man fade away
1 Peter 1:7
being much more precious than of gold that PERISHETH
2 Peter 2:12
as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed… shall utterly PERISH in their own corruption
2 Peter 3:6
Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, PERISHED
2 Peter 3:9
not willing that any should PERISH, but that all should come to repentance
and PERISHED in the gainsaying of Core
The wicked shall perish.
The saved shall never perish.
The sincere reader will understand that the primary meaning of perish is to die, to lose life, to come to an end, or to be destroyed.
PERISH is paralleled with die, kill, destroyed, consumed, slain, being eat up, laid waste, go to nothing, be as nothing, vanish, withereth, cut off, turn again unto dust, deceased, fade away and utterly wasted.
PERISH is illustrated by dung, turning again to dust, consuming into smoke, melting like wax before a fire, melting away, a vine being burned by fire, breath leaving a body, years being shortened, a city being uninhabited, and bottles breaking.
PERISH is contrasted to prolonging days, days not failing, enduring, abiding, having no end, living, eternal life, everlasting life, being renewed, and remaining.
Things that perish are land, an eye, people, weapons of war, dung, beasts, names, expectations, riches, wisdom of wise men, nations, kingdoms, houses, body members, bottles, hair, meat, and money.
That which causes things to perish are famine, God's wrath, smiting, warring nations, sickness, the sword, battle, fire, want of clothing, evil travail, and hunger.
As to any secondary meanings of perish, NONE express a continual process without an understood end.
As to any secondary meanings of perish, NONE even remotely express the theory of endless torment.
N. T. Use of the Word Apollumi (Perish, Destroy)
(excerpts from the book "The Wages of Sin" by Charles Walsh)
A consideration of the words used in the Greek New Testament.
In the preceding papers of this series we have submitted to a careful examination some of the words most frequently used in the Hebrew Scriptures to denote or to describe the end of the unsaved. We now would direct the reader to the New Testament, and the examination of the words used therein in the teaching, warning, or demonstration of the wages of sin.
Apollumi.- This word is translated in the A.V. as follows: "Destroy," 23 times; "lose," 21 times; "be destroyed," 3 times; "be lost," 10 times; "be marred," once; "die," once; and "perish," 33 times.
In examining "the words which the Holy Ghost teacheth" we must ever remember that the literal sense of the words is prima facie their true sense. It is this literal sense which is the common, ordinary, fundamental basis of all language, and accurate communication of thought. "Labour not for the meat which perisheth but for that meat which endureth to age-abiding life" (John 6:27). "They shall perish, but Thou remainest" (Heb. 1:11). None can fail to see that the word perish in these passages is the opposite of enduring or remaining. By what system of contrarieties do men seek to explain the Bible when the object of perishing is the sinner? Why should perishing in this special case mean remaining or enduring in conscious suffering? Dean Alford is responsible for the following statement:
"A canon of interpretation which should be constantly borne in mind is that a figurative sense of words is never admissible except when required by the context."
To this all will heartily agree who believe that God's Word is His revelation, and to this we seek to adhere. When we read in Heb. 11:31, "By faith, the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not," we do not understand the word "perish" to signify living in agony or remorse, but that Rahab was saved from the fate which awaited the inhabitants of the city of Jericho. Let God be true, though it makes every man a liar. Let Scripture tell us what "perishing" in Heb. 11:31 means:
"And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, ox and sheep and ass, with the edge of the sword .... and they burnt the city with fire, and all that was therein .... and Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive" (Josh. 6:21D25).
Here inspired comment is absolutely opposite to the orthodox teaching concerning this word "perish."
In Luke 6:9 the Lord Jesus, speaking with reference to healing on the Sabbath Day, says, "Is it lawful .... to save life or to destroy it?" Here the word "destroy" (apollumi) is used in its simple primary meaning, and is contrasted with "save." A reference to Matt. 12:will show, further, that the Lord used as an illustration the case of saving the life of an animal. In Luke 17:27 the same word is used of the flood which "destroyed them all," and in verse 29 of the effect of the fire and brimstone which fell upon Sodom and "destroyed them all." When we read Luke 9:56, "For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them," why should we distort the meaning of the word? Why not believe that the Lord used a fit and proper word, indeed the most suitable word which the language provided?
It is the same word translated "perish" that occurs in that oft-quoted passage John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Here the subject is lifted to the highest level. Here is no ambiguous phraseology, neither figure, nor parable, but plain gospel spoken in solemn earnestness by the Lord Jesus Himself. He says that there are two alternatives before men, the one - life everlasting, the other - perishing, utter destruction (Heb. 11:, Josh. vi.), and from this doom He came to save those who believed in Him. Hence we read in Luke 19:10, "The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost (apollumi). Man by nature was on the road which leadeth to destruction.
The primary meaning "perish," or "destroy," becomes changed in the transition of language to the derived and secondary meaning "lost." Thus we read of the "lost" sheep, and the "lost" son in the parables of Luke 15, and in the "lost" sheep of the house of Israel in Matt. 10. The fragments left over after the miraculous feeding of the five thousand were gathered so that nothing should be "lost" (John 6:12). It is pitiable to hear those who should know better arguing that because we read of a "lost" sheep, which could not mean a "destroyed" sheep, that therefore the plain, primary meaning of the word must be ignored and the secondary derived meaning be understood in such clear, solemn passages as John 3:16, etc..
Notice the way in which the Lord uses the word in Matt. 10:28. "Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul, but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell (gehenna)." Here we have an argument which proceeds from the lesser to the greater. Man can only kill the body. God can destroy body and soul. Man may kill, but he cannot prevent resurrection: The murdered man will as surely rise in the resurrection as the one who dies of natural causes. It is different, however, with God. He can cast men into the lake of fire, which is the second death, from which there is no resurrection. Those who are thus cast in are destroyed body and soul, as being no more fit to live.
The parallel passage to this, Luke 12:4, 5, shows that to "cast into gehenna" is to be taken as synonymous with "to destroy," or "to perish." This is further evidenced by Matt. 5:29, "It is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into gehenna." Here the plain meaning is that it is better that a limb should perish than that the whole body should perish. There is no thought of agony and torment, for the Lord would have used the word in Matt. 10:28, "Fear Him who is able to torment both body and soul in hell," had He meant to convey such teaching.
The fact that men are "perishing" and need salvation is emphasized again and again. We have noticed the word in John 3:16. In 1 Cor. 1:18 we read, "For the preaching of the cross is to them who are perishing - foolishness, but unto them who are being saved - unto us it is the power of God." It is the same word (translated "lost" in A.V.) in 2 Cor. 4:3, "If our gospel is veiled, to them who are perishing it is veiled."
Yet again in 1 Cor. 15:18 we read, "If Christ hath not been raised, to no purpose is your faith, ye are yet in your sins, hence also they who are fallen asleep in Christ have perished." What does this mean? Does it mean that believers, apart from the resurrection of Christ, are at this moment suffering the agonies of hell fire? Certainly not. It means exactly what it says. Without resurrection the believer, like the unbeliever, will have perished, will have passed out of being, will have been destroyed. The idea of a conscious intermediate state, with departments in some mythological hades, is foreign to the Scriptures and antagonistic to this passage. Death ends life, and apart from resurrection death means utter destruction. Praise be to God for this blessed hope. Resurrection, which is everywhere the one theme of hope in the Scriptures, is set aside by orthodoxy, and death instead is eulogized as the gate to life.
We have yet further evidence as to the meaning of this word apollumi by considering the inspired interpretation of the word Apollyon (Rev. 9:11), which is a derivative of apollumi. The passage gives us the Hebrew equivalent of apollumi, it is the word Abaddon, from abad, which we considered on page 8 of this Volume. The unmistakable meaning of abad is to destroy, and thus we are given, to confirm our faith, the divine warrant that the word under consideration means to "destroy." In the context of Rev. 9:11 the locusts, whose king is Apollyon, are definitely withheld from destroying or killing (their normal work), and are only permitted to torment men for five months, after which other horsemen receive power to kill those who had not the seal of God in their foreheads. Before passing on to the consideration of the next word, we would like to quote the primary meaning of apollumi as given by Liddell and Scott:
"Apollumi. To destroy utterly, to kill, slay: of things, to demolish, to lay waste, to lose utterly."
Apoleia. - This word is a noun derived from the word apollumi, and means destruction. It is rendered by the A.V. as follows: "damnation," once; "damnable," once; "destruction," 5 times; "to die," once; "perdition," 8 times; "pernicious ways," once; and with eimi eis and accusative, "perish," once; "waste," twice. The words "damnation " and "damnable" both occur in 2 Peter 2:1, 3, "damnable heresies," and "their damnation." The same word is rendered "pernicious ways" in verse 2, and "destruction" in verse 1: Here the one word apoleia is rendered by four words in those verses. The R.V. renders the word "destruction," and destruction consistently (the word "pernicious" in verse 2 is not apoleia in the best Greek MSS. and is rendered "lascivious doings" in R.V.). In Pet. 3:7 the word occurs again, translated "perdition," and finally in verse 16 it is translated "destruction," which passage the R.V. renders as in the second chapter - "destruction."
Once again we shall find that this word, like apollumi, is contrasted with life, "Broad is the way that leadeth to destruction .... narrow is the way that leadeth unto life" (Matt. 7:13, 14). The context immediately continues, "Beware of false prophets," which connects this passage with its inspired exposition in 2 Pet. 2:3. In John 17:12 we have a solemn passage wherein the Lord uses both apollumi and apoleia. "None of them is lost, but the son of perdition." This is also the title of antichrist in 2 Thess. 2:3. Again the word occurs in Acts 8:20, "Thy money go with thee to destruction." In Rom. 9:22 we read of "vessels of wrath fitted to destruction." The apostle uses the word twice in Philippians, "token of perdition" (i. 28), and "whose end is destruction" (3. 19). In I Tim. 6:9 we have a collection of words, of which the Greek language does not possess any stronger, to express literal death and extinction of being. Hurtful lusts which drown men in destruction (olethros) and perdition (apoleia). Does it not appear unreasonable to say continually that men will perish or be destroyed if they are, in fact, to be kept alive in suffering, and that they are to be miraculously preserved from perishing or from being destroyed?
There is one more point which we must bring forward before closing this article. The subject of the soul, its nature and immortality, is discussed at great length by Plato in the Phaedon, a dialogue on Immortality, and therein is discussed the question of the literal destruction and extinction of the soul. Plato wrote in Greek, his native tongue, and the Phaedon became the great classic treatise on the subject of Immortality, read, studied and debated throughout the Greek-speaking world during the four hundred years between its writing and the ministry of Christ. Plato's words practically stereotyped the philosophical phraseology of the time. The purpose of the dialogue is to show that in death the soul does not become extinct, that it cannot die, perish, or be destroyed. Modern orthodoxy, therefore, is found ranged with Plato against the Word of God. These words of Plato were known and of fixed meaning in the days of Christ and the apostles. Christ came to reveal the truth. Shall we say that, knowing as He did the meaning of the words used on the subject of the soul, He willfully, and without explanation, took those very words concerning the very same subject, and used them in an altogether contradictory sense! The idea is impossible. With reference to the philosophic usage of apollumi, we give the following extract from the Phaedon:-
"Socrates, having said these things, Cebes answered: I agree Socrates, in the greater part of what you say. But in what relates to the soul men are apt to be incredulous, they fear .... that on the very day of death she may be destroyed and perish .... blown away and perishes immediately on quitting the body, as the many say? That can never be . . . the soul may utterly perish ..... the soul might perish .... if the immortal be also perishable. The soul when attacked by death cannot perish."
To those who knew these words, who taught them, and argued about them, was sent a "teacher from God," and standing in their midst He reiterated the fact that Plato was wrong, that the soul could be destroyed, that it would perish. What would any of that day have thought of the suggestion to make such words convey the sense of endless misery, so diametrically opposed to their meaning? Would he not have been justified in replying in the language of a well-known public school head master:
"My mind fails to conceive a grosser misinterpretation of language than when the five or six strongest words which the Greek tongue possesses, signifying 'destroy,' or 'destruction,' are explained to mean maintaining an everlasting but wretched existence. To translate black as white is nothing to this." —Dr. Weymouth
We believe sufficient has been shown to establish the fact that, in the usage and meaning of apollumi and apoleia, destruction, utter and real, is the true meaning, and that this is the wages of sin.