Life Before Death

Life Before Death : A Study of Judgment and Eternal Life in John's Gospel

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Many Christians believe the primary reason for following Jesus is to escape eternal punishment in Hell and thus, the gospel message presented takes the form of the threat, "believe this or you will be punished." This thesis focuses on the Gospel of John, in order to establish whether Jesus presented the gospel this way and to ascertain how much judgment is part of his evangelistic message. By paying careful attention to the etymology of the key words and their context, the methodology was to examine: 1) John 3:16 as a distillation of the message, particularly the use of αἰώνιος ζωή, πίστις and ἀπόλλυμι; and 2) the use of κρίσις in three passages in the Fourth Gospel - John 3:17-19, 5:24-30 and 12:44-50. In each of these judgment discourses, the person to whom Jesus was speaking was a member of the Jewish ruling council and his message was one of rebuke. The implications of these findings are that the good news invitation of Jesus in the Gospel of John does not contain the threat of judgmen and thus, raises the question whether that message has changed today.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 70 pages
  • 129 x 198 x 4mm | 79g
  • English
  • Illustrations, black and white
  • 1527232964
  • 9781527232969

Review quote

"Matt Hyam's exploration of John the Beloved's view of judgment is a most welcome piece of biblical scholarship. It reveals a God who, far from threatening the world with an ultimatum of forthcoming destruction, has come in the flesh to rescue an already-perishing race from the pit we dug for ourselves. Hyam pulls back blinders of assumption to see what is obviously in the text, suggesting a beautiful gospel readily transposed to the 21st-century dilemma."

- Brad Jersak (PhD), author of A More Christlike God.

"In this detailed study of familiar texts in John's Gospel, Matt Hyam challenges traditional interpretations and offers fresh perspectives on what Jesus said, how John understood this and why this matters as we share the good news today."

- Stuart Murray, author of Post Christendom.

"Some might dismiss studies like Matt's as quibbling over details, but the implications of what Matt is saying couldn't be more profound. Why follow Jesus? What is the Good News? What sort of life are we called to live? This study is a must read for anyone who thinks these questions are important."

- Tim Nash, Nomad Podcast

"Words like "salvation, "judgment," "perish," "believe," "eternal life" are necessarily employed when we talk about the good news as set forth in the Gospel of John -- the most intentionally evangelistic of the four Gospels. But at a remove of two millennia these words have acquired assumed meanings that may not at all reflect how John or Jesus thought and spoke about the good news. In particular, there is a toxic way of reading John that has the peril of "eternal conscious torment" lurking around every corner. When John 3:16 (and other texts) are misread in this manner, the proclamation of the gospel often comes across as being threatened at gunpoint instead of being told of a savior who has come to your rescue. This is why Matt Hyam's Life Before Death is so helpful, timely, and important. With scholarly attention and a deep respect for the text, Matt Hyam shows us how to read the Gospel of John, not as a threatening ultimatum, but as a gracious invitation. Hyam is helping to make the gospel beautiful again. I applaud this book!"

- Brian Zahnd, Pastor of Word of Life Church, St. Joseph Missouri; author of Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God
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