"Divine" Fire?

From the Differentiator magazine:
Vol. 15 New Series April, 1953 No. 2

REVELATION 20:10 Can it be true that the Mischief-maker or Devil is to finish up by being cast into a " Lake of divine fire"? Some have made a great deal of mischief here through lack of a little knowledge of the Greek language.. Extraordinary theories' have been built up the like of which have never been heard of before. Extravagant and fanciful ideas have been elaborated by some who have little real reverence for the sacred text. But we must ever be on our guard against that dangerous excrescence of human selfishness—wishful thinking. The wish becomes father to the thought; the thought develops into a theory; the theory snatches at isolated terms found in the Scriptures or violates the Greek language.

The above verse states plainly that the Mischief-maker who is deceiving them (the Nations) was" cast into the lake of the fire and sulphur, just where (hopou) the wild-beast and i:he false~prophet are also. And they will be tormented for i:he eons of the eons."
Sulphur in Greek is theion. There is also another and distinct Greek word theion, which is the neuter form of the adjective meaning "divine," from Theos, God. Of course it was very easy to assume that the two words had a common origin. Yet we shall produce evidence from the Greek, and from the Greek Scriptures, that the word for sulphur is related to the Greek verb thuO, meaning SACRIFICE. . It was a great misfortune that the Concordance of the Concordant Version shewed both words as having a common derivation (page 259).

The word sulphur (or brimstone, "burn-stone"), found seven times in the N.T., is always a noun, never an adjective. And it is always found joined to another noun, either "fire" or "smoke." How would it sound did we read at Luke 17:29, "fire and divine rains from heaven"? Here the fire and the sulphur were undoubtedly literal. Nor could we render at Rev. 9:17, "out of their mouths are issuing fire and smoke and divine." To-day, out of the mouths of about nine-tenths of the adults in Britain, there issues frequently smoke, but very little that is divine. How could these horses kill the third part of mankind by anything "divine"? Is it not clear that the fire and smoke and sulphur must be real? The worshipper of the wild-beast, who gets an emblem on his forehead, or on to his hand, will be tormented in fire and sulphur (Rev. 14:9, 10). The torment will be real torment; that is what the word means, not entertainment or purification. It is only right that they should undergo some torment. To-day it is the believers who feel things most deeply, and therefore suffer the most torment. Worldlings do not undergo the same spiritual trials and testings. It would be utterly wrong were the devotees of the wild-beast to encounter merely a beneficent "divine fire."

The clue to the problem is to be found in Rev. 9:17. The breastplates or cuirasses are of brimstone or sulphurous. The Greek word is theiOdeis. But it must be observed that the ancient Sinaitic M.S. has a different spelling, thuOdeis. This indicates that the root of the word is to be found along with words like thuO, sacrifice. Sometimes the same M.S. spells theion as thion. Such itacisms were very common in the old M.S.S. In Modern Greek it is said that the vowels U, I, UI, OI, EI and E (eta) are all pronounced the same, as ee. The tendency towards this assimilation seems to have existed in the first century, when the N.T. was penned.

For Dr. Pridgeon to claim that "to any Greek, or to any trained in the Greek language, a 'lake of fire and brimstone' would mean a (lake of divine purification'" ("Is Hell Eternal?") is most misleading. Surely this would be to reduce august and solemn divine utterances to mere trivialities.

In his very valuable and careful little book, "Etyma Graeca" (1882) Wharton relates theion (sulphur) to thuO (sacrifice) through a supposed intermediate form theVesion. Theion is also found spelt theeion. Now where a double vowel is found in Greek thus, it means a letter had been elided. In Greek the digamma letter (V or W or perhaps GW) was universally lost very long ago, if it did not soften into U. Moreover, the Greek mouth did not favour the letter S between two vowels. Every language, including Hebrew, has lost some of its primitive sounds and letters.
At Gen. 19:24 the Greek O.T. reads "And the Lord rains on to Sodom and Gomorrah sulphur and fire" (theion kai pur). Call it divine sulphur and fire if you like, but only destruction was wrought.

Alexander Thomson

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Listing of Articles

Who is our God? Chapter 1
Who is our God? Chapter 2
Who is our God? Chapter 3
Who is our God? Chapter 4
Who is our God? Chapter 5
Who is our God? Chapter 6
Who is our God? Chapter 7
Who is our God? Chapter 8
Who is our God? Chapter 9
Who is our God? Chapter 10
Who is our God? Chapter 11
Who is our God? Chapter 12
Who is our God? Chapter 13
Who is our God? Chapter 14
Who is our God? Chapter 15
Who is our God? Chapter 16
Who is our God? Chapter 17
A Female Deity?
Acts 7:15 & 16
All Things
Amos 3:6
An Answer to the Challenge of Hell
Angels & Men One Species?
An Interesting New Version
Are You an Ambassador?
Are You a Pillar?
Are You a Witness for Jehovah?
Are You an Israelite? Chapter 1
Are You an Israelite? Chapter 2
Are You an Israelite? Chapters 3 & 4
A Special Resurrection?
Baptized for the Dead?
"Beloved" or "Loveable"?
Brotherly Love
Book Review
Colossians 1:23
Common or Unclean?
Common Sense
Did Paul Visit Spain?
Did the Lord give up His Flesh?
"Divine" Fire?
Doctoring the Holy Scriptures
Does God know Everything?
Does God will Everything?
Does your Spiritual Life seem Unreal?
Did God hate Esau?
Earth our Future Home?
Emphasis in the Scriptures
English more Archaic than Ancient Hebrew?
Ephesians 1:23
Erroneous Translations
Gleanings from A.T.
Heaven our Homeland
How is Christ God's "Word"?
How many were Crucified?
In the Christ All Shall Be Made Alive
Is Dust the Serpent's Food?
Is the Devil Impersonal?
Isaiah 26:14,19
James 4:5
Jehovah's Theocratic Organization
Jesus the Saviour
John 19:29
The Kingdom of the Hebrews
Leave it with God
Men or Mortals?
Misplaced Ingenuity
New Light on the Second Death
None Other Things
Objective Value of Prayer
Other or Different
Our Advocate
Paul's Chain
Paul the Sensitive
Paul versus James
Prevailing Prayer
Problems of Translation: I Cor. 7:21
Problems of Translation: II Cor. 3:18
Psalm 66:18
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
Rogues and Rascals
Rom 9 & 10: Human Freedom & Human Choice
Romans 9:14-24
Romans 9:30 to 10:21
II Corinthians 5:16
II Peter 3:10
Seven Wicked Spirits
Shall We See God?
Sir, We would see Jesus
Should we fear God?
The Bloody Husband
The Cherubim of Glory
The Corinthian Error
The Cunning Manager
The Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah
The Designation of Jesus as "God"
The Disruption Fallacy
The Disruption Fallacy #2
The Eighth of Proverbs
The Eleven "Generations" of Genesis
The Elohim
The Ends of the Eons
The Eternal Saviour-Judge
The Eternity of Hell Torments
The First Christian Convention
The Four Gospels
The Gentiles in Ephesians
The Greek Definite Article
The Hardening of Pharoah's Heart
The Hebrew Conception of Time
The Hebrews Epistle
The Hebrew Terms Rendered 'For Ever'
The Hope of Israel
The Life of Prayer
The Lord Jesus Revealing the Heart of God
The Lord's Relatives
The Lordly Supper
The Meaning of Ta Panta
The Ministry of Women Parts 1 & 2
The Ministry of Women Parts 3 & 4
The "Penalty of Sin"
The Poor in Spirit
The Primeval Laws
The Primeval Laws #2
The Problem of Evil
The Quality of Divine Love
The Rich Man and Lazarus
The Serpent of Genesis 3
The Soul and the Spirit
The Talmud of the Jews Parts 1 & 2
The Talmud of the Jews Parts 3 & 4
The Translation of Acts 28:25
The Trial of the Lord
The Truth of the Bible
The Two Seeds
The Works of Henry Clay Mabie, D.D.
"Three Days and Three Nights"
Translator's Incentive
Truthfulness and Mercy
Try the Spirits
Unto Eternity and Further
We have all been Wrong
What did Peter do?
What does Olethros mean?
What Happened to Jephthah's Daughter?
What is Destruction?
What is the Flesh?
What is the Sin unto Death?
Whence "Eternity"?
Who are the Saints?
Who is Jehovah?
Who Shall Deliver Me?
Why Pray?
Why the "Lake" of Fire?
Will God Punish?
Will the Lord Come for Us?
Will the Man of Lawlessness be Killed?


The Differentiator Revisited 2009