Judgment and Punishment in the Book of Enoch

Remember that Zoroastrianism contributed significant ideas to Jewish thought during the exilic and post-exilic periods that did not exist before in Judaism. Some of these ideas were current in Jesus’ day, such as:

* A personalized adversary to God—Satan
* A hierarchy of angels that followed either God or Satan
* A time of judgment after death
* A place of punishment after death

The Book of Enoch seems to have been an important vehicle for popularizing these ideas. Last time we discussed Enoch’s contribution of the ideas of a personal adversary to God and the angelic hosts that followed each of them. Today we will talk about Enoch and the ideas of judgment and punishment after death, which were not previously part of Jewish thought.

Enoch, Judgment, and Punishment in Fire

enoch3
According to Enoch, as things developed badly on earth from what the evil angels had done, God sent Asuryal to warn Noah of the coming flood. Enoch, chapter 10, then describes God’s instructions to Raphael regarding the evil angels we discussed last time:

The Lord said to Raphael, “Bind Azaz’el hand and foot (and) throw him into the darkness!” And he made a hole in the desert which was in Duda’el and cast him there; he threw on top of him rugged and sharp rocks. And he covered his face in order that he may not see light; and in order that he may be sent into the fire on the great day of judgment.

God then moved against the progeny of the evil angels and the daughters of men:

And to Michael God said…bind them for seventy generations underneath the rocks of the ground until the day of their judgment and of their consummation, until the eternal judgment is concluded. In those days they will lead them into the bottom of the fire—and in torment—in the prison (where) they will be locked up forever.

Both of these passages involve an eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. Here we see clear correspondence to Zoroastrian thought on both judgment and eventual punishment, neither of which were previously part of Jewish thought. It seems, though, that Enoch has added fire to the punishment that was not necessarily an element in Zoroastrianism. He might have picked this up from Greek concepts of Hades or from some other place.

Enoch continues for several chapters describing the punishments of the fallen angels and their children.

Jesus’ Reference to ‘the Eternal Fire Prepared for the Devil and his Angels’

We began this whole discussion by asking where Jesus got his imagery in the parable of the sheep and goats in Matthew 25, where Jesus accuses the goats of ignoring the needy and the helpless and says to them:

Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

We did not find this imagery in the Old Testament or elsewhere in the gospels, but we do find similar imagery a couple other places in the New Testament. 2 Peter 2 comments as he discusses false teachers among believers:

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell [Tartarus], putting them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment…then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment.

And the very short Book of Jude, also talking about false teachers, mentions this:

[T]he angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day.

While Jesus simply uses this imagery to illustrate his parable, it seems that both 2 Peter and Jude take the imagery seriously, but it is important to be aware that the authenticity of 2 Peter and of Jude are among the most disputed in the New Testament.

So where did Jesus, 2 Peter, and Jude come about this imagery? I suggest the same source for all of them—The Book of Enoch. Jude actually refers to Enoch and is so confused as to identify the writer of Enoch as the father of Methuselah (from Genesis 5). Jude, verse 14:

Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about them: “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all of them of all the ungodly acts they have committed.”

Jesus’ Parable of the Sheep and Goats

Generally, when Jesus shared a parable the details of the parable served only to lead up to the main point, which was the purpose of the parable. The details really don’t contribute insights or truths of their own. So does Jesus’ imagery of the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels give us an insight into the end-times? Is it a prediction of the future? I don’t think so. It is only a parable that happens to incorporate imagery, like that found in Enoch, which was circulating in the Jewish culture of the time.

Is Enoch inspired, then, because Jesus uses this imagery? No, Enoch is not considered inspired by Jews or by Christians and is not even in the Apocrypha. But can we not claim that once Jesus says it—it is true?

Was the story of the prodigal son true? No, it was made up. Was the story of the good Samaritan true? Also made up. Were the lessons Jesus illustrated by those stories true? Yes, the points Jesus made with the parables were true, but the details he used in his stories are not additional truth statements—they only illustrate the main point of the parable.

So let us learn from Jesus’ parable of the sheep and goats just how important it is to help the needy, but let us not look to the parable for insights into the end-times.

In this series: Zorastrianism, the Book of Enoch, and Eternal Fire:

Sheep, Goats, and the Bosom of Abraham
What Did Jesus Mean by the ‘Eternal Fire Prepared for the Devil and His Angels’?
The Influence of Zoroastrianism on Jewish Thought in Jesus’ Time
The Origin of Satan and His Demons in the Book of Enoch
Judgment and Punishment in the Book of Enoch

***

This entry was posted in Enoch, God, hell, Jesus, judgment, Satan and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

37 Responses to Judgment and Punishment in the Book of Enoch

  1. Paz says:

    Thanks Tim, fascinating topic!
    The way I see it, the parables/stories reveal elements of Truth because they help us understand about the nature of God. For examples:
    The prodigal son, tells us about God’s (true) loving,caring and forgiving nature
    The good Samaritan, tells us about God’s (true) non-judgemental nature
    Hope this makes sense! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. newtonfinn says:

    Thanks, Tim, for clarifying the difference between a parable and an allegory–the former being a simple illustrative story that makes a point, the latter being a complex story with layers of symbolism to be interpreted. As you know, NT scholars have pointed to the “allegorizing” of parables, when it occurs in scripture, as an indication of editorial tampering with Jesus’ original teachings. As far as the PARABLE of the sheep and goats is concerned, I would add an additional point that I believe we are intended to draw from it. Not only is it important to help the needy, but our doing so, or failing to do so, somehow affects our eternal destiny and thus is of crucial importance for the living of our lives.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Newton, you might be right about the secondary lesson in the Sheep and the Goats parable but I think your first point of helping the needy is paramount. I, too, am aware of conservatives who accuse other believers of ‘allegorizing’ but I think they are mistaken. However, Jesus did use allegory in some parables–such as the ‘The Sower’ and ‘The Prodigal Son’. He was not limited to just one method.

      Like

    • ancadudar says:

      “Not only is it important to help the needy, but our doing so, or failing to do so, somehow affects our eternal destiny and thus is of crucial importance for the living of our lives.”

      Yes, what you say is huge! Romans 1-3 speaks about it being the fulfilling of the law to do so. James was written as a response to “Paul’s” pseudepigraphical epistles that focus too much on faith alone. James names verse by verse from other NT epistles and argues against them as faith alone not being sufficient. Most of Jesus parables are about helping the needy. Nonbelievers who do good works out of brotherly love have kept the whole law of God that is written on their hearts, and it will be accounted for them as righteousness. Even more so is it important for those of us who profess Christ.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Missionaries today tell the story of the Gospel using local folklore/myths/legends because wise teachers use what students already understand, and then build Truth on top of that. Those legends are not truth, but missionaries approach them this way because of the common Messianic themes that run through all human stories. It’s fairly obvious that this “eternal fire” was not the point of Christ’s story but that the people who heard him understood the reference and the concept. Jesus was the greatest Teacher who ever lived, and so he obviously used methods that are conducive to student understanding. It doesn’t mean that every point of the story represents greater Truth, it just means he knows how to get inside the students’ minds to help them understand his specific points. There are many verses in the Bible that directly contradict the idea of eternal judgment (a term which doesn’t make sense anyways), but proponents of eternal torment ignore all of them to focus on verses were such things are mentioned in mere passing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Prog Mind, I like the points you make here. I remember, from several decades ago, the first encounter I had about missionaries using local stories to help new peoples understand the good news; it was ‘Peace Child’ by Richardson, and it was very impressive. I agree with you that Jesus often did the same thing by relating to what the people already were familiar with.

      Like

  4. Neecer says:

    I’m so confused. Why was all this stuff put in the Bible if it wasn’t true? Why did Jesus talk in parables? Why didn’t He just lay it all out in simple terms? I guess that would make for a short book. “Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. The End.”
    I thought I didn’t believe in hell anymore until this latest series…ugh. I’m frustrated. I realize the Bible was written by men who were acting on their own cultures and understandings of the time and to suppress certain groups of people. A lot of it seems so arrogant, and just wrong.
    I just don’t understand any of it, anymore. It was easier for me to grasp punishment and reward. It’s like the authors just want everyone to be confused and unsure about everything. I guess it is probably that they didn’t know anymore that we do what happens after we die and tried to make sense of their world, just like we do. I don’t know…my ramble is over. 🙂 Peace, all.

    Liked by 2 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Neecer, I believe it IS the ‘life’: John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” Let me know if you still want me to change it–or not–and then I will delete this correction message.

      Like

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Neecer, I am sorry if you are confused. However, the Bible was written long ago in other cultures and can be confusing sometimes. I hope this series did not cause you to think there might be a hell after all–I don’t think that was Jesus’ intention.

      Like

    • newtonfinn says:

      Neecer, my understanding of the mode of Jesus’ teaching may be slightly different than Tim’s. I was taught in seminary, and continue to believe, that Jesus used parables not to confuse his listeners or to hide truths from them in coded language, but rather as simple stories grounded in their personal experience in order to make simple, though sometimes rather startling, observations about the nature of God and the way we are to live our lives. Those verses in the NT which indicate that Jesus used parables to conceal certain aspects of the truth, which he revealed only to his insider followers, were flatly rejected by the scholars I studied as obvious editorial glosses–in fact, dangerous editorial glosses that actually distorted the kind of man that Jesus was. Same with all allegorizing of parables, which partakes of a similar “hidden truth” dynamic.

      I was taught, and continue to believe, that whenever a simple parable story is “explained” by saying that one piece of it means this particular thing, another piece that (an explanation sometimes put into the mouth of Jesus himself, as in the parable of the sower), this is again an obvious sign of editorial gloss. Jesus had an essential message to convey about an extravagantly loving God who desires us to extravagantly love each other. At all times and in every way, he tried to make that message as clear as possible to all those whom he encountered. There was no secret knowledge or esoteric teaching reserved only for “elite disciples.” Indeed, that pernicious doctrine (and the “authority” it purports to confer) has played a large part in everything that has gone wrong with the church and Christianity ever since it married the empire that murdered its founder.

      Liked by 1 person

      • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

        Good points, Newton!

        Like

      • Chas says:

        Newton, I very much agree with you. Jesus, speaking the words that God was giving him, would not have said things that would confuse anyone in his audience. We would expect him to have been a very concise and precise speaker – straight to the point.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Chas says:

      Neecer, the bible was written by men, so there are things in it that cannot be trusted. If we try to look at detailed examples of what Jesus supposedly said, as Tim is done at present, what has been written was never said by Jesus at all. In the examples recently discussed, they almost invariably occur in only one of the gospels, and so cannot be verified as being in any original. If we then try to discuss what has been said, we might as well discuss how many angels can dance on the head of a pin!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Neecer says:

    Thanks all, your words really do help. I was talking to my dad this weekend about my spiritual journey and I told him that I don’t believe in hell or satan anymore. He was taken aback (he was raised Holdeman Mennonite and I was raised Catholic–clearly Heaven was out for me according to both sects). When I was a girl, I could not even come close to understanding eternal happiness, but I could totally understand eternal damnation and suffering, so that guided my actions for awhile, until I got older–and rebelled, because I was going to hell no matter what I did. Then I quit going to church and wanted nothing to do with any of it. Eventually I started back to church and did my own reading and research, which has lead me in a new direction entirely. For me that hold-over guilt is very powerful and hard to get rid of; but I see Light now, which I am grateful for. My family is all very opinionated, and while I don’t discount their views, they sure try to change mine! LOL!
    Thanks Tim, newtonfinn, and Chas–I appreciate your words!

    Liked by 2 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Neecer, I am glad we were helpful to you; that’s what the blog is all about. I really like what you said–that you “did my own reading and research, which has lead me in a new direction entirely.” I think it is very important to do the reading and research to see if the things we have been taught hold up.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. fiddlrts says:

    This has been a fascinating series. I kind of vaguely knew about the Book of Enoch, but did not get the connection to Zoroaster. Thanks for the enlightening information.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Fiddlrts, I am glad you liked it.

      Like

      • Paz says:

        The Bible certainly reveals an interesting mixture of history, including people who shared their experiences and wisdom from their very deep connection to and understanding of God. Jesus teachings and parables also continue to be relevant to the world today! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  7. The prior post on this Blog about Enoch seemed to use a different Translation of what happens to Azazel’s Army. I don’t think even what Enoch says is beyond any doubt an Endless punishment, the Fire is Eternal because it is the Fire of God. The language also implies the Punishment will fit the Crime.

    I don’t consider Enoch Canon, but I do disapprove of rejecting II Peter and Jude who I don’t think were drawing on Enoch as much as people think. Jude 6-7 I actually cit eon my Blog to prove “Eternal Fire” isn’t an endless punishment because it’s used of Sodom’s Judgment, and Ezekiel 16 Promises Sodom will be restored.

    I think what Jude said Enoch said was a genuine prophecy of Enoch that the writer of this Apocryphal book simply borrowed.

    And everything in II Peter and Jude assumed to be about Enoch’s Watches and Genesis 6 I argue was about Dathan and Korah’s Rebellion in my post Nephilim and the Sons of God which I added to my Sola Scirptura Christian liberty blog back in December.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Mith, you said: “I think what Jude said Enoch said was a genuine prophecy of Enoch that the writer of this Apocryphal book simply borrowed.” This is an interesting point, but where did the biblical Enoch write this quote so that the author of the Book of Enoch could borrow it?

      Like

      • Maybe it was some common knowledge of the Ancient World now lost. Or maybe it’s something he was told about by Jesus.

        I’ve done more reading in Enoch since leaving these comments, and it clearly has some translation issues. But in English Enoch sometimes says something will last “for ever” and then the very next verse clearly say that state will have an end.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. ancadudar says:

    I don’t think the Book of Enoch is reliable or authentic at all, however, there really are skeletons of huge giants that have been found all over the world. Also, there is so much literature throughout history about these giants, even the Indians wrote and spoke about them. These are not just normal giants either, some of them have horns and strange deformities, they are also said to have been cannibalistic. The Smithonians collect the bones whenever they are found by excavators. I do personally believe that Genesis speaks of supernatural beings mating with humans. I don’t believe it is just speaking of Sons of Seth because once one researches the meaning of the word deeper, the Seth explanation has no basis. The Mesopotamian texts say something along the same lines and say that is why the almighty God caused the flood because of these beings messing with genetics. So, it was some mythologies that probably had some truth to them, although embellished through time, that the Book of Enoch probably based its theme on, only it “Hebrewised” it. Even if one believes in evolution, there is no reason to exclude the possibility of advanced extraterrestrials races. Every culture and many cave paintings, and many artifacts from Egypt to the Incas mention them. It is a global phenomenon in the fact that every culture depicts them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Anca, even today there are some incredibly tall people due to a disease that causes them to grow to 7-9 feet tall. I am not surprised that scientists have found other gigantic bones. The horns I know nothing about.

      I have no other explanation for the reports of giants throughout the world, though there could be many possibilities. However, I don’t think fallen angels are among them.

      Like

  9. ancadudar says:

    Tim,
    Not only is authorship of 2 Peter and Jude among the most disputed in the NT, but the early Christians rejected them and fought against Jerome adding them to the cannon. It took Jerome years of insisting and manipulating before he was able to add them. So it was not just an authorship issue by modern scholars, rather all of the early Christians had it upon common knowledge that they were forgeries.

    While when Jesus uses a parable, and not all of the details are literally true, in the principle of the point He is trying to make, Jesus does infer some type of punishment in the afterlife. It may not be hellfire, but it still implies punishment vrs reward.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Anca, do you have a handy source on Jerome’s involvement with 2 Peter and Jude? Also, I agree with you that Jesus implies negative consequences of bad behavior–but not eternal punishment in hell.

      Like

      • ancadudar says:

        It might be true that it was not angels at all, however, I do think there is the possibility of it being extraterrestrials. I realize I might sound crazy, but I’ve done a lot of research on this topic for ten years now and it’s too complex to go into fully. I can say this, that among the dead sea scrolls found, some of the oldest ones give a detailed version of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorra. What it describes as “angles” sending down fire and brimstone upon it, is not our idea of angles the way the Bible describes it. It mentions them flying in some kind of craft that usually hovers among the stars, that they pointed some kind of metal cannon at the cities, and that there was a blazing flash that left a huge cloud that looked like a mushroom, and that it vaporized and melted everything in its path. Even if this document is fiction like the book of Enoch, the technology mentioned in it is way-way advanced for that civilization to even describe. What it eventually describes is an atomic nuke. And before God destroys the cities, it says that He called on His “sons” that live among the stars to ask them if they were willing to carry it out.

        The ancient Hindu paintings of their “gods” and the technology they used look just like flying discs and they feature weapons that resemble missiles and nukes. Of course, the paintings of their actual deities are ridiculous, but the technology depicted is really advanced.

        The carvings and artwork of the Mesopotamian texts, feature human DNA, it looks just like DNA, and they even carved into the tablets (forgive my language here) what sperm and an egg look like under a microscope. Again really advanced knowledge that we did not even have two hundred years ago. How could they have known what DNA genetics look like without a microscope? I’m not saying their story is true as its probably just myth, but the artwork is astonishing in its accuracy.

        I’m not saying I’m right, I’m just not ruling out that there might be something to all of these myths of non-earth beings visiting and interacting with humans that all ancient cultures depict. And I don’t consider them angles either if it were true.

        I am well aware of giants due to genetic reasons, the ones I’m speaking about are weird and have strange deformities and some of them are more than 12 feet tall. They were also in groups and colonies, they were not just stand alone giants born to normal heigh parents.

        The possibility that other beings advanced beyond us or different from us and that there may be other lifeforms on other planets is not something that would clash with evolution. I myself am not an evolutionist, but either way, if there are other life forms somewhere else,
        God would be the creator of all, even if through evolution.

        Liked by 1 person

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Anca, I would not dismiss the possibility of extra-terrestrials. Read Ezekiel chapter 1 and tell me whether or not it sounds like aliens in a space ship. By the way, have you read von Daniken’s Chariot of the God’s? I read it really long ago and it sounds like what he might write. C. S. Lewis also deals with other civilizations in space that are loyal to God in his fictional space trilogy.

          Interesting stuff to think about.

          Like

      • ancadudar says:

        “Also, I agree with you that Jesus implies negative consequences of bad behavior–but not eternal punishment in hell.”

        I agree I don’t believe in eternal punishment either. I think some people might even be taken out of punishment and allowed into heaven or the new earth, or whatever our home will be. I am starting to think from different resources that I am reading that it might be a mix of annihilation which is permanent death and some form of merciful universalism for many/most. I also don’t believe that all non-Christians will even face a temporary punishment at all, rather if they kept the law of love in purity, that it will count for them as righteousness.

        “Anca, do you have a handy source on Jerome’s involvement with 2 Peter and Jude?”

        Give me until tomorrow please and if it’s alright with you I will email them to you. Is that ok? I have to pull them up as they are scattered between my desktop and a book where I discovered the information.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Pingback: The Origin of Satan and His Demons in the Book of Enoch | Jesus Without Baggage

  11. Pingback: The Influence of Zoroastrianism on Jewish Thought in Jesus’ Time | Jesus Without Baggage

  12. Pingback: What Did Jesus Mean by the ‘Eternal Fire Prepared for the Devil and His Angels’? | Jesus Without Baggage

  13. Pingback: Sheep, Goats, and the Bosom of Abraham | Jesus Without Baggage

Comments are closed.