Brimstone is Not What You Think
- But It's Still Very Hot!
"Brimstone" has been misunderstood - like so many other terms in the Bible. We need to look at it carefully to determine if it is the worst physical punishment God can inflict or if it is something different.
This is part five of a seven-part study on the true meaning of The Lake of Fire and Brimstone. Go back to part four
Tried in the Fire.
Just as in studies for my book
In the Heart of the Earth
where I examined words like "heart" and "earth" and "sabbaton" and allowed the Bible to define its own terms (to come to the correct Biblical timing of the resurrection), so here, we need to do a careful word examination.
"Brimstone" appears seven times in the Old Testament. It is the Hebrew word "gopriyth" (Strong's number 1614) which has the definitions:
1a) of judgment (fig.)
1b) of Jehovah's breath (fig.)
It appears in seven verses in the New Testament from the Greek word "theion," (Strong's number 2303) which has the definitions:
1a) divine incense, because it was regarded as having power to purify, and to ward off disease
The origin of the word "theion" is connected to the Greek word "theios" (Strong's number 2304) which is translated twice as "divine" and once as "Godhead." The definitions are given as:
1) a general name of deities or divinities as used by the Greeks
2) spoken of the only and true God, trinity
2a) of Christ
2b) Holy Spirit
2c) the Father
Here is how the word "theios" is used in the New Testament:
"Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device." (Acts 17:29)
"According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:" (2 Pet 1:3)
"Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." (2 Pet 1:4)
Remember, the word brimstone is based on this word for the divine nature or Godhead. Really, God is this fire, this spiritual fire that consumes. This fire is not physical, it is not merely spiritual; it is divine!
"For our God is a consuming fire." (Heb. 12:29)
Brimstone is mentioned as being in the Lake of Fire because God Himself is present.
God is described in many ways in scripture. For example, we are told that God is just:
"He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he." (Deut 32:4)
He is described as just, an adjective describing Him but you will not read that God is justice, the noun. Here is another verse that describes God using the adjective holy:
"And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory." (Isa 6:3)
Again, it is "God is holy," the adjective, not "God is holiness," the noun. You can find the same with other attributes of God's character. See this
comparison of God and His law
for more examples.
However, we are told in 1 John 4:8 that "God is love." In this case, it is equating God's nature ("God is...") with the noun "love," it is not describing him using the adjective "loving," although He certainly is that. "God is love" describes His very nature.
Earlier, we saw Hebrews 12:29 which tells us "God is a consuming (adjective) fire (noun)." Is this also describing His nature?
From these two verses, we could write:
God = love
God = consuming fire
Since both of the above are true, then, algebraically (just as: if A = B and A = C, then B = C), we can write:
Love = consuming fire
If all are going to be judged by fire - the lost (who are destroyed by it) and the saved (who are purified by it, as we saw earlier) - how is that going to work? How is the same fire going to have two such different effects? For the answer we need to take a close look in part six of this study at
The Lake of Fire.