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?