“Does the Bible teach there is a second chance in the afterlife to be saved by Jesus?
Some propose we have only one life on earth to make our decision for or against God, that a “second chance” to repent and be saved doesn’t exist. Two main texts are cited for this view: Hebrews 9:27 “it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment” which suggests the judgment concerns acts performed while alive; and the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31), which seems to rule out a “second chance” when the Rich Man is told ” between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’ (Lk. 16:26 NKJ). Less cited as denying a second chance is 2 Corinthians 6:2: “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (NKJ) because “now” is the time spanning the “gospel era” which therefore begs the question does the gospel of Christ’s propitiation apply to everyone who believes in this kosmos (2889 κόσμος) as scripture says (John 3:16 ; 1 Cor. 15:22; 1 John 2:2), or only “some”?
The scriptures cited against the “second chance” have been taken out of context:
For example, the Rich Man is in Hades, which in the context of the New Testament is a temporary residence. Hades will be emptied out on Judgment Day (Rev. 20:13), it then “dies the second death” which symbolically means it will never return (Rev. 20:14). As the Rich Man is raised up out of Hades with everyone else (John 5:28-29; Rev. 20:13), the “great gulf” is not an impassible barrier “to the resurrection of life, and …the resurrection of condemnation.” (Jn. 5:29 NKJ)
As for Hebrews 9:27, Christ said Christians “shall not come into judgment (2920 κρίσις krisis), but has passed from death into life” (Jn. 5:24 NKJ). Therefore the people who eagerly wait for Christ after death and judgment, are from unsaved humanity who died “from the foundation of the world.”
Some of these UNSAVED must be “of the many” who passed the judgment because now they eagerly wait for him “in hell” “for salvation”.
Therefore, the “judgment” in Hebrews 9:27 is “the second chance” because, after being judged, some “eagerly wait for Him…for salvation” (Heb. 9:28 NKJ). That fits the meaning of the Greek krisis, it denotes a “trial, contest, selection” where an “opinion or decision” is given one way or the other.-Strong’s Concordance.
The exclusion of Christians (because they already believe in Christ) proves belief or non-belief in Christ is central to this “judgment”. The “Judgment” in Hebrews 9:27 is the “second chance trial” for those who died without Christ, including the generations who lived and died ” since “the foundation of the world”. They were all lost without Christ ” but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself…to bear the sins of many” (Heb. 9:26, 28 NKJ).
Read it for yourself, it screams “second chance”, its why Christ came, to save the lost:
24 For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us;
25 not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another–
26 He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.
27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment (2920 κρίσις krisis),
28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation. (Heb. 9:24-28 NKJ)
How can we be certain this trial is not a judgment whether one died a Christian? Christ our Teacher (Mt. 23:10) said so (John 5:24). Moreover, as all the dead since the foundation of the world undergo the same “judgment”, if dying a non-Christian condemns everyone who died before the 1st century, the trial would be a sick parody of justice. That cannot be.
The context implies what is being decided about the dead: It is written: “He…appeared….once at the end of the ages…to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” so He would not “have…to suffer often since the foundation of the world” (Heb. 9:24-26). Therefore, the Judgment is whether Christ’s sacrifice applies to the one being judged, whether he is one of the “many” saved by it. As belief or non-belief in Christ are the only grounds for salvation or condemnation (Matthew 21:42; Mark 12:10; John 3:16-18; 5:24; 14:6; 20:31; Acts 4:11-12;1 Peter 2:6-8), it follows belief or non-belief in the gospel of Christ decides the outcome of this Trial. Therefore, regardless of when someone died, the Gospel is preached to them so they be judged according to men in the flesh, but choose to live according to God in the spirit (1 Pt. 4:6).
That is “the trial”, those who believe Jesus is “the Christ the Son of God” are saved, live according to God in the spirit and eagerly wait for Christ’s second coming, for salvation, the resurrection to life. Having heard and obeyed Christ’s voice while in the grave they done good (John 5:28-29).
ALL unsaved humanity goes through the same trial, from Adam and Eve forward. Therefore, all who repent and believe in Jesus during their trial have Jesus as the propitiation for their sins just as the scripture promises: “And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world ” (1 Jn. 2:2 ).
28 “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice (ἀκούσονται τῆς φωνῆς)
29 “and come forth– those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation. (Jn. 5:28-29 NKJ)
Jesus promised “the dead in the grave “will hear His voice” and “those who have done good” will rise to the “resurrection of life”. The wording parallels what Christ said about the living who hear and obey His voice:
Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice (ἀκούσονται τῆς φωνῆς) of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. (John 5:24 KJV)
Jesus used the same phrase ἀκούσονται τῆς φωνῆς (hear his voice) in both John 5:24, 28. As it refers to obedient hearing leading to eternal life in John 5:24, it means obedient hearing will result in life in John 5:28-29. All who obey Christ’s voice whether alive or dead shall live, be given eternal life.
What about Jesus’ parable?
To begin with, its not a parable, it’s a prophecy Christ would send the risen Lazarus to the mocking Pharisees (Luke 16:14) and they would treat Lazarus (John 12:9-11) just as they treated Moses and the prophets, rejecting their testimony about Christ (Luke 16:29-31). Therefore, the symbolism in a “prophecy” has real connection to reality, is not “just a story.”
A “second chance” doesn’t require a crossing over from hell to heaven. Rather, the repentant spirit is saved in the “Day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Cor. 5:5) when the Death and Hell are emptied out and those who “done good” upon obediently hearing Christ’s voice (1 Peter 4:6) rise to a resurrection of life (John 5:28-29; Rev. 20:13-14).
Moreover, as Hades is emptied of its inhabitants, all will rise in the Resurrection, the Rich Man was not being eternally punished (Rev. 20:13-14). That fact implies Hades is “an intermediate state” where a second chance to repent could very well exist.
There are other indications the Rich Man was not irredeemable, that the gifts and calling of God were not revoked in his case (Romans 11:26-32).
1.) Rather than a self-absorbed man who curses both Abraham and God for his plight, the Rich Man shows selfless concern for his family (Luke 16:27). 2.) Abraham affectionately calls the Rich Man “son” (Luke 16:25). It is impossible Abraham would speak affectionately if the Rich Man were an irredeemable enemy of God: “Do I not hate them, O LORD, who hate you? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?” (Psalm 139:21). 3.) Abraham and others wanted to comfort the Rich Man, but an impassible chasm prevented them (Luke 16:26). It is impossible the redeemed would rebelliously want to subvert God’s punishment of the wicked (Rev. 15:3-4). Therefore, the scene does not depict God’s punishment. 5) When the Rich Man cried “I am tormented (3600 ὀδυνάω odunao) in this flame (5395 φλόξ phlox)”, his words convey meaning many don’t see. The Rich Man is in “sorrow” (cp. Acts 20:38 3600 ὀδυνάω odunao) for his sins, for the first time he is 100% aware how badly he missed the mark of God’s perfection. God’s inspection, His “eyes like a flame of fire” are bringing every dark secret and sin to the light, all self-delusion is being purged. Just as it is written: The Lord has washed away the filth… and purged the blood of Jerusalem…by the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of burning” (Isa. 4:4 NKJ)
Christ’s prophecy to the Pharisees revealed even the children of Abraham(Matthew 3:9-10) like the Rich Man, if they die enemies of the gospel rejecting His authority, they will be chastised in Hades contrary to their belief Abraham would not permit an Israelite enter Hades: “In the world to come Abraham sits at the gate of Gehenna, permitting none to enter who bears the seal of the covenant” (Genesis Rabbah xlviii). Paul touches on this subject declaring “the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable”. All Israel will be saved even if they must suffer the torments of hell first (Romans 11:26-33; 1 Corinthians 3:11-15).
Those who have not committed eternal sins will be purged of all that subverts their ability to make the free will confession Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and have life in His Name (John 20:28-31). All addiction to sin and self-delusion is burned away by the torment (931 βάσανος basano) of God’s inspection, revealing the truth of the individual, who he really is. Once liberated and fully able to make a free will choice the gospel of Christ is preached, for belief or non-belief in Christ are the only grounds for judgment (Matthew 21:42; Mark 12:10; John 3:16-18; 5:24; 14:6; 20:31; Acts 4:11-12;1 Peter 2:6-8). Therefore, only after a definite and formal presentment of the Gospel of Christ is made to a soul fully capable of making an informed and free judgment will God judge the conscious and deliberate acceptance or rejection of Christ.
Other New Testament texts showing a second chance for salvation exists in the Afterlife.
Forgiving sins in the ‘age to come’ implies a “second chance” (Matthew 12:31-32). As believers are forgiven in this age (John 5:24), forgiveness of sins in the “age to come” implies a second chance for unbelievers:
31 “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men.
32 “Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come. (Matt. 12:31-32 NKJ)
The apostle Peter reveals the second chance when he says the dead have the gospel preached so they can choose to live “according to God in the spirit”:
For this reason the gospel was preached also to those who are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit. (1 Pet. 4:6 NKJ)
The “second chance” is on display when Christ preached to the dead “spirits in prison” after He Himself was put to death.
Some believe ‘Christ proclaimed doom to the damned’. That is impossible, the antitype of baptism, being saved out of the water symbolizes how “we were buried…in death and then raised with Jesus” (Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12) when we gave the “answer of a good conscience toward God”. The theme of salvation contradicts completely any idea Christ is preaching damnation. The context implies these “spirits in prison” were among the “captives in His train” (ᾐχμαλώτευσεν αἰχμαλωσίαν) (Eph. 4:8) when He ascended into heaven:
18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit,
19 by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison,
20 who formerly were disobedient (544 ἀπειθέω apeitheo), when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water.
21 There is also an antitype which now saves us– baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him. (1 Pet. 3:18-22 NKJ)
Human dead are “souls in hades”, not “spirits in prison.” Nor can they be the “sons of God fallen angels” of Noah’s Day (Gen. 6:2, 4) because they remain bound (Jude 1:6). These “spirits” were the hybrid angel-human “men of renown” dead who could not believe (544 ἀπειθέω apeitheo) Noah’s preaching God would forgive the abomination of their hybrid nature. It defiled the image of God in man with that of angels. This is why Christ made a “special trip”, to prove God would forgive and elicit the “answer of a good conscience towards God”. They went with Christ into heaven as part of Christ’s triumph over Satan.
Paul implied the existence of a second chance when he said a sinner’s spirit “may be saved” after the destruction [death] of his flesh, on judgment Day (“the Day of the Lord Jesus”).
Deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. (1 Cor. 5:5 NKJ)
The book of Revelation reveals the second chance when Death and Hades releases all the dead in them and ONLY those not found written in the book of life are cast into the “second death”—the death from which there is no return:
13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works.
14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. (Rev. 20:13-15 NKJ)
John focus’ is on those “not found” in the book because of the horrible bodies they rise in. All who rise to the resurrection of life rise in glorious resurrection bodies (Dan. 12:2; John 5:28-29; Ac. 24:15; Gal. 6:8; 1 Cor. 15:42-57); but the wicked resurrection body is an abomination, unclean flesh reeking of death and corruption (Dan. 12:2; Isa. 66:24; Mt. 10:28; Gal. 6:8; Mk. 9:42-48). Perhaps the TV show “The Walking Dead” sheds some light on their possible appearance. The horror of seeing these rise from Hades to stand before God and be judged, then cast into the Lake of Fire is a terrifying sight that would consume the attention of any observer, which John was.
Many Old Testament Scriptures speak of redemption from hell:
Limiting repentance and forgiveness of sin to the living contradicts God’s testimony about Himself who says “I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies” (Ezek. 18:32). The proposition God ignores true repentance is without scriptural support:
27 So it was, when Ahab heard those words, that he tore his clothes and put sackcloth on his body, and fasted and lay in sackcloth, and went about mourning.
28 And the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying,
29 “See how Ahab has humbled himself before Me? Because he has humbled himself before Me, I will not bring the calamity in his days. In the days of his son I will bring the calamity on his house.” (1 Ki. 21:27-29 NKJ)
6 Then word came to the king of Nineveh; and he arose from his throne and laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes.
7 And he caused it to be proclaimed and published throughout Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; do not let them eat, or drink water.
8 But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God; yes, let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands.
9 Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish?
10 Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it. (Jon. 3:6-10 NKJ)
Therefore, it is implicit in every Old Testament text which speaks of prayers for forgiveness of sin and God’s redeeming souls from hell supports the conclusion God grants a second chance for life in Hell.
“For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,” says the Lord GOD. “Therefore turn and live!” (Ezek. 18:32 NKJ)
39 `Now see that I, even I, am He, And there is no God besides Me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; Nor is there any who can deliver from My hand. (Deut. 32:39 NKJ)
God kills but also makes alive, He wounds but also heals. That God smites in punishment but mercifully heals is a common theme (Hos. 6:1; Isa. 30:26; 57:17, 18; Jer. 17:14).
“The LORD kills and makes alive; He brings down to the grave and brings up. (1 Sam. 2:6 NKJ)
God makes alive those He killed, brings up from the grave those He put there. That is a second chance.
5 `When the waves of death surrounded me, The floods of ungodliness made me afraid.
6 The sorrows of Sheol surrounded me; The snares of death confronted me.
7 In my distress I called upon the LORD, And cried out to my God; He heard my voice from His temple, And my cry entered His ears.
17 “He sent from above, He took me, He drew me out of many waters.
18 He delivered me from my strong enemy, From those who hated me; For they were too strong for me.
19 They confronted me in the day of my calamity, But the LORD was my support.
20 He also brought me out into a broad place; He delivered me because He delighted in me. (2 Sam. 22:5-20 NKJ)
The prophet David could not analogize his troubles to God’s salvation from Sheol if he didn’t believe it exists.
Even from His Temple far away God hears the plea of those suffering the sorrows of Hell (Sheol), and rescues them from the snares of Death.
10 For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.
11 You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Ps. 16:10-11 NKJ)
The prophet David speaking by Holy Spirit (Acts 2:30-31) of the Christ professed his belief God would not leave his soul in hell, but would show him the “path of life” and raise him from the dead. Essentially, a second chance for life.
I waited patiently for the LORD; And He inclined to me, And heard my cry.
2 He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, Out of the miry clay, And set my feet upon a rock, And established my steps.
3 He has put a new song in my mouth– Praise to our God; Many will see it and fear, And will trust in the LORD. (Ps. 40:1-3 NKJ)
God hears David’s cry from hell and he saved from hell. That’s a second chance.
15 But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave, For He shall receive me. Selah (Ps. 49:15 NKJ)
Redemption from death is a second chance.
For You have delivered my soul from death. Have You not kept my feet from falling, That I may walk before God In the light of the living? (Ps. 56:13 NKJ)
Deliverance from death is a “second chance”.
You have ascended on high, You have led captivity captive; You have received gifts among men, Even from the rebellious, That the LORD God might dwell there. (Ps. 68:18 NKJ)
Leading repentant captives of death to heaven that the LORD might dwell among them is a second chance. Compare 1 Peter 3:18-22; Eph. 1:20-23; 4:8-10.
13 But as for me, my prayer is to You, O LORD, in the acceptable time; O God, in the multitude of Your mercy, Hear me in the truth of Your salvation.
14 Deliver me out of the mire, And let me not sink; Let me be delivered from those who hate me, And out of the deep waters.
15 Let not the floodwater overflow me, Nor let the deep swallow me up; And let not the pit shut its mouth on me.
16 Hear me, O LORD, for Your lovingkindness is good; Turn to me according to the multitude of Your tender mercies.
17 And do not hide Your face from Your servant, For I am in trouble; Hear me speedily.
18 Draw near to my soul, and redeem it; Deliver me because of my enemies. (Ps. 69:13-18 NKJ)
Being delivered from hell after repentance is a second chance.
19 Also Your righteousness, O God, is very high, You who have done great things; O God, who is like You?
20 You, who have shown me great and severe troubles, Shall revive me again, And bring me up again from the depths of the earth.
21 You shall increase my greatness, And comfort me on every side.
22 Also with the lute I will praise you– And Your faithfulness, O my God! To You I will sing with the harp, O Holy One of Israel.
23 My lips shall greatly rejoice when I sing to You, And my soul, which You have redeemed. (Ps. 71:19-23 NKJ)
Redemption from depths of the earth also describes a second chance.
12 I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart, And I will glorify Your name forevermore.
13 For great is Your mercy toward me, And You have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol. (Ps. 86:12-13 NKJ)
The deliverance of a soul from hell is a second chance.
18 This will be written for the generation to come, That a people yet to be created may praise the LORD.
19 For He looked down from the height of His sanctuary; From heaven the LORD viewed the earth,
20 To hear the groaning of the prisoner, To release those appointed to death,
21 To declare the name of the LORD in Zion, And His praise in Jerusalem,
22 When the peoples are gathered together, And the kingdoms, to serve the LORD. (Ps. 102:18-22 NKJ)
Releasing “those appointed to death” is a second chance.
2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits:
3 Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases,
4 Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies (Ps. 103:2-4 NKJ)
Forgiving sins then redeeming from destruction is a second chance.
1 I love the LORD, because He has heard My voice and my supplications.
2 Because He has inclined His ear to me, Therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live.
3 The pains of death surrounded me, And the pangs of Sheol laid hold of me; I found trouble and sorrow.
4 Then I called upon the name of the LORD: “O LORD, I implore You, deliver my soul!”
5 Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; Yes, our God is merciful.
6 The LORD preserves the simple; I was brought low, and He saved me.
7 Return to your rest, O my soul, For the LORD has dealt bountifully with you.
8 For You have delivered my soul from death, My eyes from tears, And my feet from falling.
9 I will walk before the LORD In the land of the living. (Ps. 116:1-9 NKJ)
Calling upon the LORD to save from hell is what happens during a “second chance.”
4 When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and purged the blood of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of burning,
5 then the LORD will create above every dwelling place of Mount Zion, and above her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day and the shining of a flaming fire by night. For over all the glory there will be a covering.
6 And there will be a tabernacle for shade in the daytime from the heat, for a place of refuge, and for a shelter from storm and rain. (Isa. 4:4-6 NKJ)
God purges away sin and self-delusion by the Spirit of judgment and burning. Same process would exist in a “second chance”.
“I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. O Death, I will be your plagues! O Grave, I will be your destruction! Pity is hidden from My eyes.” (Hos. 13:14 )
Ransom from the grave is a second chance.
1 Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the fish’s belly.
2 And he said: “I cried out to the LORD because of my affliction, And He answered me. “Out of the belly of Sheol I cried, And You heard my voice.
3 For You cast me into the deep, Into the heart of the seas, And the floods surrounded me; All Your billows and Your waves passed over me.
4 Then I said,`I have been cast out of Your sight; Yet I will look again toward Your holy temple.’
5 The waters surrounded me, even to my soul; The deep closed around me; Weeds were wrapped around my head.
6 I went down to the moorings of the mountains; The earth with its bars closed behind me forever; Yet You have brought up my life from the pit, O LORD, my God.
7 “When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the LORD; And my prayer went up to You, Into Your holy temple.
8 “Those who regard worthless idols Forsake their own Mercy.
9 But I will sacrifice to You With the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD.” (Jon. 2:1-9 NKJ)
Jonah is the perfect example of someone given a second chance.
7 Therefore I will look to the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation; My God will hear me.
8 Do not rejoice over me, my enemy; When I fall, I will arise; When I sit in darkness, The LORD will be a light to me.
9 I will bear the indignation of the LORD, Because I have sinned against Him, Until He pleads my case And executes justice for me. He will bring me forth to the light; I will see His righteousness. (Mic. 7:7-9 NKJ)
Confessing sin and being forgiven, is a second chance.
9 “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.
10 I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim And the horse from Jerusalem; The battle bow shall be cut off. He shall speak peace to the nations; His dominion shall be`from sea to sea, And from the River to the ends of the earth.’
11 “As for you also, Because of the blood of your covenant, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit. (Zech. 9:9-11 NKJ)
If all things work together for the good of them that love God (Rom. 8:28), hell also works good.
16 “For God so loved the world (2889 κόσμος kosmos) that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
17 “For God did not send His Son into the world (2889 κόσμος kosmos) to condemn the world (2889 κόσμος kosmos), but that the world (2889 κόσμος kosmos) through Him might be saved.
18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:16-18 NKJ)
In John 3:16-18 “world” (2889 κόσμος kosmos) appears four times, contrasting the kosmos from whence God’s Son came with “the kosmos of humanity.” Therefore, it is impossible His Son saved only some in the kosmos — excluding all born before Christ came or didn’t hear the Gospel of Christ after the 1st century.
Why? Because that is like saying God sent His Son to save the house, but He didn’t save the basement. The basement is part of the house just like the other rooms.
God sent His Son to save the entire kosmos (Jn. 1:9, 29; 4:42; Rm. 5:10; 8:32; 2 Cor. 5:19) whether living or dead (Jn. 5:24-25, 28-29; Heb. 9:27-28; 1 Pt. 4:6) , all born into it since the world began. (Col. 1:20; Heb. 9:24-26; 1 Jn. 2:2; 4:9-10; 8:32)
Jesus speaks of “the dead” in two different senses, in John 5:25 the physically alive but spiritually “dead” who “obediently hear [His] voice” (ἀκούσονται τῆς φωνῆς) pass from death into life. In John 5:28 the physically dead in the grave who “obediently hear [His] voice” (ἀκούσονται τῆς φωνῆς), will come rise to a resurrection of life.
24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
25 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice (ἀκούσονται τῆς φωνῆς) of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. (Jn. 5:24-25 KJV)
28 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice (ἀκούσονται τῆς φωνῆς),
29 And shall come forth; they that have done good (ἀγαθὰ ποιήσαντες aorist participle), unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil (φαῦλα πράξαντες aorist participle), unto the resurrection of damnation (Jn. 5:28-29 KJV)
As John 5:24 confirms, those who “obediently hear” shall live “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8 NKJ)
The aorist participle in John 5:29 rendered “done” in many translations can be translated “do” or “did” (YLT, NAS, NJB), the action occurring AFTER hearing Christ’s voice:
Many commentators minimize the subsequent (following) use of the aorist participle. Even such scholars as Robertson and Moulton, who recognize that the participle is not time-bound, resist this category of usage. But there are a number of examples in biblical and extra-biblical Greek where an aorist participle is used to refer to an action occurring after the action of the main verb. In virtually all of these examples, the aorist participle is placed after the main verb in syntactical order.-Porter, S. E. (1999). Idioms of the Greek New Testament (p. 189). JSOT.
The spiritually dead but physically alive who obediently hear Jesus’ Voice shall spiritually live, the “dead” both physically and spiritually hear Christ’s voice while in the grave and all who obey Jesus’ voice shall spiritually live and rise in the resurrection of life.
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2 thoughts on “Does the Bible teach a Second Chance in the afterlife to be saved by Jesus?”
The church is raised at the Rapture. When Christ judges the Sheep and Goats (Church goers who failed to become Christians in time), Christians are seated with Christ and His angels, as Kings and Priests. “These my Brethren (Mt. 25:40; Rm. 8:29) were “gathered” (2 Thess. 2:1) from the earth during Christ’s coming in glory. They reign with Christ as Kings and Priests (Rev. 1:6; 20:4-6; 1 Thess. 4:14-18; 1 Cor. 15:51-58; Mat. 24:29-31; Rev. 14:14-16). Because they believed in Christ when physically alive, they do not “come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.” (John 5:24). As Christ’s “Brethren” they have authority to judge the unsaved with Christ (Mt. 19:28; 1 Cor. 6:3; Rev. 20:4), the “firstborn among many brethren” (Rm. 8:29).
The resurrection on Judgement Day concerns first those who remained faithful to God during Christ’s Millennial Kingdom but were still spiritually dead; then Death and Hades are emptied, and the dead are judged and the resurrection of the righteous and unrighteous occurs. All who passed the “trial” in hell are raised to the resurrection of life.
God is fair.
Survivors of Armageddon who didn’t take the mark enter the millennial kingdom, that’s their second chance.
Adam and Eve and all who died since the foundation of the world without Christ can believe in Him in hell and wait for Judgment Day to be raised to life. That’s their second chance.
The Sheep and Goats who failed to commit to Christ are given their second chance according to whether they aided Christ’s brethren (Christians) during the Tribulation. The Sheep are changed in a twinkling of an eye and join Christians who are seated with Christ and His angels.
The timing of the 1st resurrection (which includes all who died in Christ) is at the “last trump” which is just before the bowls of God’s wrath are poured out (Rev. 14:14-16):
Our Lord’s “coming” (3952 παρουσία Parousia) literally “presence” is like the coming of a King. His “presence” is felt before He is visible. How long precisely the Bible doesn’t say, but the “sign of Christ’s coming” (Mt. 24:3, 30) which is an opening in the sky (Rev. 19:11) perhaps like a “stargate flashing lightning” (Mt. 24:27) appears first while His army gathers near it, and everyone on earth can see the heavenly army gathering. During this time the First resurrection/rapture of the church occurs:
Many of us will volunteer to join Christ’s heavenly army to slay the Beast’s human and fallen angel army gathered at Armageddon. In our resurrection bodies we will be more than a match for them:
As for the survivors of Armageddon, those who didn’t do eternal sins (Mk. 3:29; 9:42-48) or weren’t lawless (against God’s law) or offensive to our Holy God (Mt. 13:41-42; 49-50; 1 Cor. 6:9-10; Eph. 5:5-6) are allowed into the Millennial Kingdom but remain spiritually dead. They must obey Christ and His Kings and Priests (the church) during the 1,000 years and will be judged on Judgment Day. Those who sin during the 1,000 years are cast into the lake of fire (Isa. 65:20):
So survivors of Armageddon do not become Kings and priests with the church, their change from death to life in immortal resurrection bodies happens on Judgment Day provided they remained faithful to Christ during the 1,000 years.
Then Death and Hades are emptied out and all the human dead from Adam and Eve onward who became Christians in hell rise to a resurrection of life. The wicked rise up in abominable bodies reeking of corruption and decay (Gal. 6:8) to a resurrection of condemnation
There is a “second chance trial” in hell, but no one leaves hell until Judgment Day, the “Day of the Lord Jesus”:
When a person responds favorably to the gospel preached to the dead, they pass the “trial/judgment” but they remain in Hades, albeit now “live according to God in the spirit” which implies they are “at rest” and not suffering at all:
But no one can cross over from hell to heaven (Abraham and Lazarus) because a great gulf prevents it. But on judgment day Hell is emptied out, and everyone rises according to their status. If believers, they rise in glorious bodies like all the Church has. If wicked, hideous bodies reeking of corruption and death that cause them shame:
As their names weren’t added to the book of life, they are judged and cast into the lake of fire:
Does the Lake of Fire Symbolize Eternal Torment for all cast into it?
When “Death and Hades” are cast into the lake of fire” they are destroyed (1 Cor. 15:26), but the Devil, Beast and False Prophet receive eternal torment (Rev. 20:10). These different fates require the symbolism of a consuming fire that cannot be quenched (Isa. 66:24; Mk. 9:44, 46 48) is not pertinent to the duration of whatever is cast into it; Whatever is cast in can be immediately destroyed or endure for an undetermined period of time. Hence, it can be said “their lot or destiny, their part” (3313 μέρος meros, Re. 21:8) is “according to works”, assessed proportionally according to guilt. “Death and Hades” in this context can’t be personified, they are guiltless abodes for the dead. Satan and crew on the other hand, are guilty of eternal sins therefore, ” they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” (Rev. 20:10 NKJ)
“The sea…the death and the Hades” (ἡ θάλασσα… ὁ Θάνατος καὶ ὁ ᾍδης Rev. 20:13) are different places that “give up” the dead in them. Christ has the keys to Death and Hades (Rev. 1:13) to symbolize His authority to release or lock up prisoners therein. None of the dead are left out.
Notice the wording in Revelation 20:15: “Whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire”. This is not a hypothetical “first class condition” where something is implied, to argue against it. In context, its a statement of fact. Its prose, John is reporting what he sees. John must have seen some rise whose names WERE written in the book of life (Compare Rom. 11:25-32).
Judgement Day is when some humans rise to life, and others to condemnation:
Those in the grave (Hades) who done good by repenting for sins done in flesh but then living according to God in the Spirit (1 Pet. 4:6) will rise to life, “that his spirit may be saved in the Day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Cor. 5:5). Their names are written in the “book of life” and so are not cast into the lake of fire.
Those who committed eternal sins while alive (Mk. 3:28-29) or refused to repent in Hades are judged according to their works. Each has a different ‘lot’ or ‘destiny’ in the lake of fire according to their works.
Different duration of torment also follows from the warning of “eternal torment” for accepting the Mark of the Beast (Rev. 14:9-11). That requires all guilty of works of lesser evil than accepting the Mark must receive “less than eternal torment” or the warning of “eternal torment” is without force. The Judgment for their different works must result in a different “part” (3313 μέρος meros) or “destiny”, “less evil work” is judged “less torment” in the Lake of Fire.
The fire is not quenched, the maggot dies not. Each symbol implies a different “destiny” or “part” (3313 μέρος meros, Rev. 21:8) “Fire that cannot be quenched” implies total destruction, “fire continually burning everlasting destruction” (compare Jude 1:7; Mal. 4:3; Isa. 26:14). “Undying worms” implies eternal torment as undying maggots require a body to continue forever. The symbol of an abominable resurrection body reeking of corruption (Isa. 66:24; Dan. 12:2; Gal. 6:8) that continues forever, communicating the wrath of an offended Holy God to the soul or angelic spirit imprisoned within for all eternity.
So “everyone” cast into Gehenna (aka Abyss, Lake of Fire) has a different destiny according to their works (Rev. 20:11-15). All sacrificed in Gehenna either are consumed by unquenchable fire (Mk. 9:43, 44, 45, 46, 48) or their worm dies not (Mk. 9:43, 44, 45, 46, 48).
Everyone sacrificed in Gehenna is salted with destruction by fire (cp. Jude 1:7); or salted to be preserved as meat is preserved with salt.
The different “part” or “destiny” of those cast into Gehenna is evident by the threat of “eternal torment” for accepting the Mark (Rev. 14:9-11 cp. Mark 3:28-29). That requires “less than eternal torment” must exist or the threat has no force.
[The correct interpretation is clear in the Textus Receptus, the repetition of the symbols aid understanding as each applies to a different category of sin unveiling it, but modern eclectic texts obscure the meaning by its deletions. See “The Revision Revised” (1881) Dr. Dean John Burgon.]
The Revision Revised pdf
The Dean Burgon Society
Likewise, Jesus’ warning against blaspheming the Holy Spirit, forgiveness of lesser evil works implies less duration of torment as never forgiving blasphemy implies eternal torment, the contrast implying “their part” or “destiny” (3313 μέρος meros) has some reference to duration of torment.
This is consistent with the destiny of some cast into the Lake of fire being one of destruction after a time of torment, but for others eternal torment without end. God has “punished and destroyed them” “according to their works” (Rev. 20:12-13). All cast into the Lake of fire suffer the “second death”, they “die the death” from which they will not rise:
A thought experiment: Let’s suppose 1). That God’s Mercy is absent; 2). That using God’s gift of Free Will is not a work so not a factor in judgment of reward or punishment. 3). That its possible to reject Christ’s offer of salvation and yet be innocent of evil works.
For example, the Bingo lady who cares nothing about Jesus, only goes to church to play Bingo. Otherwise, the Bingo lady is good person, no evil works. In that situation, when the Bingo lady is cast into the lake of fire (she rejected salvation in Christ), as torment is according to works, she wouldn’t suffer any torment, like Death and Hades her destruction would be immediate and without pain.
When we factor in God’s mercy, Christ’s words have greater application. “Every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven”, it implies all not guilty of eternal sin will not suffer beyond their immediate destruction. The fire consumes totally (Mal. 4:3; Jude 1:7), they are exterminated (Isa. 26:14) extinguished like a wick that no longer burns (Isa. 43:16-17).
Considering all of the above, it was a “hasty generalization fallacy” to group all the wicked into the same “eternal torment bin”. Only those guilty of eternal sin suffer eternal torment. God’s mercy would limit the torment or even remove it for everyone else. Everyone judged worthy of that punishment will be seasoned with fire that consumes unto destruction or preserved as meat is preserved salt (Mark 9:49) “according to their works” (Rev. 20:13) and not a second longer.
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