Many of you do not have access to any libraries of much size. You might be interested in what some of the earlier writers believed. Such a study will show the beginnings and spread of apostacy and
the creeping in of heathen philosophies into the churches.
In THE DURATION AND NATURE OF FUTURE PUNISHMENT by Henry Constable (1868), we find a little table of the early writers and their views on this subject. The death date of each is given.
Barnabas (90), Clement of Rome (100), Hermas (104), Ignatius, Martyr (107),
Polycarp, Martyr (147), Justin, Martyr (164), and Theophilus, of Antioch (183),
all held to the Scriptural view that the supreme penalty for all who did not have
life was eternal death.
Then came in a couple of minor writers, Athenagoras (190) and Tatian (200), ;who were steeped in the Greek philosophies of Plato and Aristotle. The Greeks got their ideas from Babylon. So these
two advanced the idea of the immortality of the soul ("Thou shalt not surely die," the lie of Satan). Their writings were
not taken so seriously and they were considered more or less as heretics.
Two more writers, true to the Word, came in about this place. They were Irenaeus, Martyr (202) and Clement
Then the Greek influence again was felt. Tertullian (235) not only came out with the theory of the immortality of the soul, but he also taught the idea of the eternal conscious torment of the lost. This idea came especially from the Greek myths, which they themselves did not believe. They were stories to entertain. Hippolytus (204) followed with the same teaching.
This was so revolting to Origen (235) that he invented the idea of universal restoration of all. He also put forth the idea that our Lord was a created being,
not deity. He fell into the error of universal restoration because he accepted ;the theory of the immortality of the soul. Something had to be done with this soul.
Arnobius (303) still held to the teaching of the Scriptures, but when Augustine (430) came on the scene, both the false
teachings, the immortality of the soul and eternal conscious torment, were then fastened on the church to stay.
In John 3:16 we read of everlasting life and perishing. The alternative of having everlasting life is to perish. But we must remember that there can never be everlasting life without resurrection.
Job asked the question, "If a man die, shall he live again?" As for himself, Job had the question settled. He said with perfect confidence, "Thou shaft call, and I will answer Thee." Job 14: 14,15. Job also said,
"Tho He slay me, yet will I trust in Him. " Job 13:15.
To fail to live or rise again is to perish. If one is to live again he must believe; he must have faith. The only alternative is, "He that believeth not the Son shall not SEE LIFE. " John 3:36.
God said, "Thou shaft surely die. " Adam had only to look about him to understand what death was. It was the common lot of the plants and beasts. If man should disobey, he would come to the level of the beast as far as hope was concerned and utterly perish. So to die, to return to dust, (Gen. 3:19; Eccl. 3:20) and remain in that condition is the equivalent of perishing. Morally man can sink much lower than the beast, but death can be the common denominator. Peter, when speaking of the ungodly, calls them "brute beasts who shall utterly perish in their own corruption. " 2 Pet. 2:12.
Just think of what that means!
Going back to Eccl. 3, we find that
O man and the beast go unto the same place.' The only escape from that place is resurrection. The beast has no such hope;
Neither have the ungodly. In the maze of religious practices "an has forgotten that salvation is the only way of escape from death. By one man death came upon all. By one Man also came life. But only those that are in Christ have the promise of being made !alive. 1
Cor. 15:22. We are not as gods. Outside of Him there is no life.
Is Christ saying to you, "Ye will not come to Me, that ye might have life" Do you know as certainly as Job did that
when He calls you will answer? If not, you are on dangerous ground.