Eternal Hope – Part 28

Eternal Hope – Part 28

Eternal Hope
Part 28


Because we don’t know when much of the Pseudepigrapha was written, we cannot determine whether the New Testament writers borrowed from the Pseudepigrapha, as was the case of Jude quoting Enoch, or vice versa. In either case, the origin of an eschatological hope for the individual remains a mystery. It may have come into existence in the Essenes community, to which John the Baptist probably belonged. With the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D., not only did the apocalyptic emphasis within Judaism disappear, but the Essenes community disappeared as well.

Reflections on The Psalms of Solomon

A collection of eighteen Psalms, Charles places the date of this work between 70 – 40 BC. It contains two references to eternal life: “They that fear the Lord shall rise unto life eternal, and their life shall be in the light of the Lord, and it shall fail no more.”[1] Again: “And the inheritance of the sinners is destruction and darkness, and their iniquities shall pursue them as far as Hades beneath.”[2] Although these Psalms were well known in the early church, for some reason they did not have a great influence on Christian thinking and passed out of sight until they were rediscovered in the seventeenth century.

Reflections on 2 Baruch

Written during the last half of the first century AD, and thus contemporaneous with most of the New Testament literature, the author(s) represented Orthodox Judaism. Also called The Syriac Apocalypse of Baruch, the various authors were orthodox Jews and probably represented the thinking of the Judaizers Paul faced in his ministry. “In this apocalypse we have almost the last noble utterance of Judaism before it plunged into the dark and oppressive years that followed the destruction of Jerusalem.”[3]

Baruch speaks of the resurrection from the dead: “And it shall come to pass after these things, when the time of the advent of the Messiah is fulfilled, that He shall return in glory. Then all who have fallen asleep in hope of Him shall rise again. And it shall come to pass at that time that the treasuries will be opened in which is preserved the number of the souls of the righteous, and they shall come forth, and a multitude of souls shall be seen together in one assemblage of one thought, and the first shall rejoice and the last shall not be grieved. For they know that the time has come of which it is said, that it is the consummation of the times. But the souls of the wicked, when they behold all these things, shall then waste away the more. For they shall know that their torment has come and their perdition has arrived.”[4]

Using an analogy of a cedar when it dies, the author states of the wicked: “And you kept conquering that which was not yours, and to that which was yours you did never show compassion, and you did keep extending your power over those who were far from you, and those who drew near you, you did hold fast in the toils of your wickedness, and you did uplift thyself always as one that could not be rooted out! But now your time has sped and your hour is come. Do you also therefore depart, O cedar, after the forest, which departed before you, and become dust with it, and let your ashes be mingled together. And now recline in anguish and rest in torment till your last time come, in which you will come again, and be tormented still more.”[5]

In what appears to be a reference to Antichrist, Baruch is told: “The last leader of that time will be left alive, when the multitude of his hosts will be put to the sword, and he will be bound, and they will take him up to Mount Zion, and My Messiah will convict him of all his impieties, and will gather and set before him all the works of his hosts. And afterwards he will put him to death, and protect the rest of My people which shall be found in the place which I have chosen. And his principate will stand for ever, until the world of corruption is at an end, and until the times aforesaid are fulfilled.”[6]

In all probability Baruch refers to the millennium when he says: “And it will come to pass, when he has brought low everything that is in the world, and has sat down in peace for the age on the throne of his kingdom, that joy will then be revealed, and rest appear. And then healing will descend in dew, and disease will withdraw, and anxiety and anguish and lamentation will pass from amonst men, and gladness will proceed through the whole earth. And no one shall again die untimely, nor shall any adversity suddenly befall. And judgments, and revilings, and contentions, and revenges and blood, and passions, and envy, and hatred, and whatsoever things are like these, shall go into condemnation when they are removed… And women shall no longer then have pain when they bear, nor shall they suffer torment when they yield the fruit of the womb. And it shall come to pass in those days that the reapers shall not grow weary, nor those that build be toilworn; for the works shall of themselves speedily advance together with those who do them in much tranquility.”[7]

Paul, in I Corinthians asks, “How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?”[8] Baruch asks God the same question: “’In what shape will those live who live in Your day? Or how will the splendor of those who (are) after that time continue? Will they then resume this form of the present, and put on these entrammelling members, which are now involved in evils, and in which evils are consummated, or will you perchance change these things which have been in the world as also the world?”[9] God answers: “’Hear, Baruch, this word, and write in the remembrance of your heart all that you shall learn. For the earth shall then assuredly restore the dead, (which it now receives, in order to preserve them). It shall make no change in their form, but as it has received, so shall it restore them, and as I delivered them unto it, so also shall it raise them. For then it will be necessary to show the living that the dead have come to life again, and that those who had departed have returned (again). And it shall come to pass, when they have severally recognized those whom they now know, then judgment shall grow strong, and those things which before were spoken of shall come… For they shall behold the world which is now invisible to them, and they shall behold the time which is now hidden from them: And time shall no longer age them. For in the heights of that world shall they dwell, and they shall be made like unto the angels, and be made equal to the stars, and they shall be changed into every form they desire, from beauty into loveliness, and from light into the splendor of glory.”[10] Evidently, Baruch believed that God would resurrect the body in the exact same condition in which it died, for the sake of recognition, and afterward would transform it into a body more glorious than the angel’s, each according to his desire.

Baruch becomes evangelistic, warning: “And again prepare your souls, so that when ye sail and ascend from the ship ye may have rest and not be condemned when ye depart. For lo! When the Most High will bring to pass all these things, there shall not there be again (a place of repentance, nor) a limit to the times, nor a duration for the hours, nor a change of ways, nor place for prayer, nor sending of petitions, nor receiving of knowledge, nor giving of love, nor place of repentance for the soul, nor supplication for offences, nor intercession of the fathers, nor prayer of the prophets, nor help of the righteous. There is the sentence of corruption, the way of fire, and the path which bringeth to Gehenna. Then He will preserve those whom He can forgive, and at the same time destroy those who are polluted with sins.”[11]

Observations Regarding 3 Baruch

This book of seventeen short chapters probably came into existence in the second century AD. We don’t know much about it and didn’t even know of its existence until the end of the nineteenth century. Scholars deduce that a Jew heavily influenced by Greek thought wrote it, and later a Christian edited it.

I will not delve into it for two reasons: First, its late date means it was probably written after the New Testament. Second, I can find no significant assistance in the material pertaining to an eternal hope.


Much of the Pseudepigrapha that we will study appear repetitive; after reading a couple of the books, you gain few fresh insights. It seems as though, once the eschatological picture took shape, no new ground was broken. The writers gave it their own personal interpretation, but apart from that they all agreed: each individual will be judged according to his deeds; the righteous will be resurrected to a life of bliss; the ungodly will receive his just desert in the after-life; when Messiah comes he will rule the world in after a material recreation.

Faith, as the sine quo non of a relationship with God, is not discussed. The individual relates to God on the basis of works. Messiah comes to rule, not to die for His people’s sins. None of the authors discuss the concept of God providing a substitutionary sacrifice so that He can be both “just and the justifier of him that believes.”[12]

Judaism, with the Old Testament teaching that the temporal is eternal – as seen in passages such as “…I will give you the land forever…”[13] – had a hard time adjusting to an eternal hope divorced from the nation and the land. We can easily see that with Judaism’s rupture and separation from Christianity, an emphasis on an eternal hope began to fade as well.

In Christ,


[1] Psalms of Solomon 3:16
[2] Psalms of Solomon 15:11
[3] Op cit, Charles, R.H., A critical History of the Doctrine of a Future Life in Israel, in Judaism, and in Christianity, vol. II, pp. 269-270
[4] 2 Baruch 30:1-5.
[5] 2 Baruch 36:8-11
[6] 2 Baruch 40:1-3
[7] 2 Baruch 73:1-4, 7, 74:1
[8] I Corinthians 15:35, RSV
[9] Baruch 49:2-3
[10] Baruch 50:1-4, 51:8-10
[11] Baruch 85:11-15
[12] Romans 3:26, KJV
[13] Genesis 17:8