Luke 13:1-5 There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? 3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

Jesus, after asking His disciples whether the Galileans who were killed by Pilates were worse sinners than others due to suffering in such a manner, tells them that, unless they repent, they will all perish in like manner. He goes on to ask His disciples whether the eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse sinners than others due to being killed in such a manner, then tells them that unless they repent, they will all perish in like manner. The "likewise" clearly denotes dying in a similar manner, that is, in an intense and brutal manner(and I hope I don't have to point out that being consciously separated from the presence of God is not "likewise perishing").

How does one reconcile this teaching with traditional eternal conscious torment/separation, which asserts that the wicked will live for eternity in immortal bodies? I'm sure many will say that Jesus means His disciples will "likewise perish" in this life and that He is not talking about the final judgment. However, this interpretation is untenable for several reasons.

(1) Jesus says that unless they repent, they WILL perish violently as did the Galileans who were killed by Pilate and the eighteen whom the tower fell on. Jesus is assuring His disciples that if they do not repent, they will perish in a violent manner. If the "perishing" applies only to this life, then Jesus is saying that everyone who does not repent will perish in a violent manner in this life. But this is clearly not true. Many, many unrepentant people live to old age and die peacefully in their sleep, not in a brutal manner as did the Galileans and eighteen.

(2) When Jesus says that UNLESS they repent they will die violently, He is implying that if they DO repent they will not die violently, is He not? Jesus is attempting to motivate His disciples to repentance, and He does so by assuring them that if they do NOT repent, they will die brutally as did the Galileans and eighteen. In doing so, He is assuring them that if they DO repent, they will not die brutally in this life as the Galileans and eighteen did. But this simply doesn't concur with historical facts(it doesn't even agree with Jesus' own teachings[see Matthew 10:21, Luke 21:16]). Christian have, throughout the centuries, died incredibly brutal deaths! Jesus' words here, if applying only to this life, are plainly false(and utterly meaningless)!

(3) The interpretation that Jesus' words apply only to this life doesn't even agree with what Jesus was teaching His disciples in this very passage. The assumption by everyone is that, if you die a brutal death, God must be angry at you for your sins and has decided to punish you(many people still believe this today); dying in a violent manner is an indication that you are a terrible sinner, and God has simply punished you for it. But Jesus tells His disciples, "NO, I tell you, unless YOU repent, you will all likewise perish". Jesus was saying that there wasn't anything special about the Galileans or the eighteen with regards to sin that caused them to die in such a manner; "you all are just like them, sinners who will all likewise perish unless there is repentance on your part". Jesus' point is that how much of a sinner you are isn't going to determine how you die. If what He says about "likewise perishing" applies only to this life, then that would contradict His point. Surely an unrepentant sinner is a worse sinner than a repentant one, and Jesus(under this interpretation) would be saying that unrepentant WILL die brutally in this life("unless you repent, you will all likewise perish"). So which one is it? Were the Galileans murdered by Pilate because they were worse sinners or not? If not(which is what Jesus' "no" implies), then why is He assuring us that we will die in like manner if we do not repent? He Himself said that their brutal death was not due to them being "worse sinners".

If Jesus' words about "likewise perishing" are a reference to final judgment, everything falls into place. Obviously if one ignores God their whole life and never chooses to repent of their sins, when they are resurrected as part of the resurrection to judgment(resurrection of the unrighteous), they will be condemned to death and die violently(by the way, annihilationists do not believe that the wicked are simply "snuffed out of existence", as so many people assume. We believe that all will die painful deaths[some even very excruciating deaths], after which they will have no hope of ever experiencing love or life or anything ever again ad infinitum. Annihilation may not be as frightening as eternal torment, but it certainly isn't warm and fuzzy). Hence, Jesus' words make perfect sense and are in no way lies; if you never repent, you will certainly die a painful death, except the painful death happens in the next life at final judgment!

However, this clearly contradicts traditional eternal conscious torment/separation; you cannot be dead and alive for eternity in an immortal body simultaneously. Hence my question;

  • How do proponents of traditional eternal conscious torment/separation reconcile their beliefs with Jesus' very plain and unequivocal teachings found in Luke 13:1-5?
  • 1
    I am not well read enough on eternal conscious torment to make a response, but +1 for a good question.
    – Luke Hill
    Mar 19, 2022 at 19:47
  • 1
    @LukeHill Thank you so much! Have an awesome day. :)
    – Rajesh
    Mar 19, 2022 at 19:48
  • Perhaps the distinction needs to be made between bodily death and spiritual death, where bodily death is the death of your material body through natural process, and spiritual death being separation from God.
    – Luke Hill
    Mar 19, 2022 at 19:48
  • @LukeHill Ah yes, I'm very familiar with that distinction. The problem is, the word "likewise" means "in a similar manner". If unrepentant people will LIKEWISE perish as the Galileans did, then the unrepentant ones undergo literal, physical death, as the Galileans did. Did the Galileans undergo "spiritual death", i.e. separation from God's presence? No. They underwent actual, physical death, and in a violent manner at that. If Jesus says that we will LIKEWISE perish, then He cannot mean "spiritual death", because "spiritual death" is very different from physical death, is it not?
    – Rajesh
    Mar 19, 2022 at 19:51
  • I’m not sure if likewise has to mean that - I think likewise can also mean “in comparison to”, or “also”, ect,
    – Luke Hill
    Mar 19, 2022 at 19:53

1 Answer 1


The fig tree

Jesus offers further detail in the parable that immediately follows this passage:

6 He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none.

7 Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?

8 And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it:

9 And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down (Luke 13:6-9)

This is exactly what God is doing with Israel at this time. They have fallen into wickedness & apostasy (e.g. see Matthew 23), and the question is asked, should they just be destroyed now?

No, God spared them a little longer--about 4 decades longer--for the Christian message to be proclaimed from home base in Jerusalem and established in other areas. Then, in AD 70, Jerusalem and the surrounding area was destroyed by Titus.

The destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 gives force to the "all" in this passage, and is discussed in greater detail by Luke again in chapter 21.


The second death

That said, I have no problem with the idea that a prophecy or teaching can have multiple applications (see my post here). Jesus could doubtless refer to the destruction by Titus and the destruction at the last day in the same message.

However, there is a risk of taking a literal interpretation to the extreme. Does the second death/final punishment of the wicked entail being cut open in the temple & being crushed by a falling building simultaneously? Probably not. As described in Revelation 20, the second death may not be "warm and fuzzy" but it certainly sounds warm.

Apparently, then, the manner of death is not the focus here. If Jesus speaks here of spiritual death, believers in ECT/ECS would understand this to mean that Jesus is pronouncing the judgement of spiritual death upon unrepentant sinners.



The believer in annihilationism and the believer in ECT/ECS would then see this passage in much the same way, while holding differing understandings of what is entailed by death. I hold the view that Biblically, death describes separation, and that "dead" and "conscious" are not mutually exclusive properties.--I share a more detailed description of this view here.

It is my view that separation from God is an extremely severe & significant consequence, commensurate with the warning given by Jesus in Luke 13.

  • "Does the second death/final punishment of the wicked entail being cut open in the temple & being crushed by a falling building simultaneously" Except Jesus says that they will "likewise perish", not that they would "perish in the exact same way". The "likewise" indicates in a similar manner, as I say in my OP. What do both events have in common? They were both brutal and violent. In saying that they will "likewise perish", Jesus is saying that they will perish in a similarly brutal and violent manner(such is the consequence of the full strength of God's wrath[see Rev. 14:9-11]).
    – Rajesh
    Mar 21, 2022 at 3:37
  • I just want to point out that, "Jesus' teachings in verses 1-5 precede a parable about the destruction of Jerusalem(verses 6-9), therefore Jesus' teachings in verses 1-5 are also about the destruction of Jerusalem" is not a sound argument whatsoever.
    – Rajesh
    Mar 21, 2022 at 5:34
  • "The destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 gives force to the "all" in this passage" Actually, no, the "all" disproves that notion that Jesus' teaching here is about the destruction of Jerusalem. Many of Jesus' disciples died before the destruction of Jerusalem(1 Cor. 11:30), hence this teaching would not have had any application to many of those hearing it. Jesus' use of "all" would be blatantly misleading. For many of His listeners, whether they repented or not had no bearing on their fate with regards to the destruction of Jerusalem, considering they wouldn't even be alive to experience it!
    – Rajesh
    Mar 21, 2022 at 5:35
  • You could've gotten away with your interpretation had Jesus said, "No, I tell you; but unless you repent, some[those that will stick around long enough to experience the destruction of Jerusalem] of you will likewise perish". But Jesus instead says, "No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will ALL likewise perish". If the "perishing" here really IS about the destruction of Jerusalem, as you assert, Jesus' claim that ALL His listeners will perish [in the destruction of Jerusalem] unless they repent is clearly false. Many won't even be around when the destruction of Jerusalem happens!
    – Rajesh
    Mar 21, 2022 at 5:45

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