Doctrine Article
Expanded Internet Edition - June 1, 2005 

Pope John Paul II Is in Hell

by David Sielaff, June 2005

Read the accompanying Newsletter for June 2005

Not where you thought he’d be was it? Pope John Paul II is in hell. No doubt about it. Scripture is quite straightforward about it. This statement of truth bears no reflection on John Paul II as a man. He is no more a sinner than you or me (so far as I know), and certainly not more of a sinner than the apostle Paul, who by his own admission was the greatest of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15).

Is Pope John Paul II in hell? Yes, but not in the way you may think. Pope John Paul II is in hell because all people who ever lived and died are in hell — everyone except Christ Jesus, who has been resurrected from the dead — everyone else is in hell. He too was in “hell,” but His body was taken out of that place.

[Jesus] whom God has raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be held of it [death]. For David speaks concerning him [Jesus], ... ‘you will not leave my soul in hell [hades], neither will you suffer [allow] your Holy One to see corruption. You have made known to me the ways of life; you shall make me full of joy with your countenance.’

Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that ... being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ [him, “Christ” is not in the Greek] to sit on his throne; He [David] seeing this before spoke of the resurrection of Christ [Messiah], that his [Jesus’] soul was not left in hell [hades], neither his flesh did see corruption. This Jesus has God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.”

This passage is easily understood if read carefully. First, note that Jesus being raised from the dead is the central focus. Jesus being raised contrasts with and encloses the information about David who remains dead and buried. Jesus being raised is the proof that David spoke of Jesus and not himself. Second, this raising of Jesus, “the resurrection of [the] Christ” is what makes Jesus to be the Christ, the Messiah of the Jews (Acts 2:31) as predicted by David (Psalm 16:10). The soul of Jesus was in hell (hades) until He was resurrected, at which moment His soul was removed from hell (again, hades, verse 31).

Pope John Paul II is in “hell” or hades at the present moment, as are all human beings who ever lived and died. When you die you will go to “hell” or hades until your resurrection. All will be judged at the time of their resurrection, some to glory (Hebrews 9:27). This will be my experience — and yours.

The death and burial of Pope John Paul II, chief prelate of the 1.2 billion member Roman Catholic Church, was the grandest extended media event in the history of the world. Millions of people prayed for the Pope. Millions visited Rome to view the body lying in state. It was widely estimated that almost 2 billion people saw some part of the Pope’s final illness, lying in state, funeral, and election of a new papal leader of the Catholic Church. If true, that is almost one out of every three people living on this earth.

Future Events

This event brings to mind what is prophesied to happen in the future when two other men will likewise receive the attention of a worldwide deathwatch. It will happen immediately before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. It will occur when the world watches over the dead bodies of the two witnesses of God. The complete story is in Revelation 11:3–14. Here is a portion of it:

“And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.

And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.

And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them.”

Just as one third of the world’s population watched events surrounding the death of the Pope, so too the world will rejoice, make merry, and exchange gifts in their happiness over the death of God’s servants. Such will be the depravity of man just before Christ returns.

The difference will be that the deathwatch of the future will be for the purpose of mockery, but also to ensure that the two witnesses are not resurrected as prophesied. The world will see a public resurrection. After their resurrection, to use a present-day phrase, “all hell will break loose.” The judgments from God soon intensify.

Free Publicity

The Roman Catholic Church has benefited from incalculable free publicity for their organization. The entire period of the illness and death of the Pope caused millions and millions of people to think about life, death, and the message taught by the Catholic Church about life and death. While the interest may be there, I doubt that more than a few, if any, got out their Bibles and read what the Scripture has to say about death and the word mistranslated as “hell.” It is likely gibberish to them.

The Spirit in Man for Life

God breathed His breath into the dust from the ground to create the living soul of the first man, Adam (Genesis 2:7; Job 33:4; 1 Corinthians 15:45). And every person takes a first breath of a similar yet distinct spirit unique to each human being, formed by God Himself (Isaiah 42:5; Zechariah 12:1; 2 Corinthians 2:11). It is by this means that God gives every human soul the understanding of being a person (Job 32:8), thereby distinguishing the souls of humans (all of which have the spirit in man) from the souls of animals.

The spirit in man looks into a man’s “inward parts” (Proverbs 20:27). The spirit in man can be troubled (Job 21:4), anguished (Job 7:11), and it can suffer “infirmity” (sickness, disease, Proverbs 18:14). The soul and spirit are so closely intertwined and mingled that only the Word of God can distinguish and separate them (Hebrews 4:12).

Using the soul of Pope John Paul II as an example (or you can use yourself as a future example), his soul is no longer part of that body. This is because the spirit of man from God departed from his body. God determines the time when the spirit departs (Job 34:14; Psalm 104:29).

At death the soul dissolves and goes to “hell” (Acts 2:27, 31, the spirit in man returns to God (Job 34:14–15; Ecclesiastes 3:21, 8:8, 12:7). The body returns to the soil (Genesis 3:19). John Paul’s soul went to hades, which in Greek means the “unseen.” It is unseen because the soul has temporarily ceased to exist, until God’s resurrection of John Paul II for judgment.

In my personal opinion God showed His sovereignty recently by keeping the long-suffering Terri Schaivo alive for a surprisingly long 13 days without food or water. I always thought death would come much sooner without food or water, considering she was in a greatly diminished physical condition when the court ordered the removal of food or water from her. It shows the struggle that the spirit in many cases puts up to keep the soul living (all in accord with God’s decision and judgment).

Death does not come easy, to anyone. However, once dead, the body returns to be merely dust (Hebrew, aphar or dust) of the ground (Hebrew, adamah, or red dirt, Genesis 3:19; Psalm 104:29). The physical body represents only the leftover physical form of the dead person. 1

The Death State and Hell

What most religious people in the world do not realize, or refuse to understand, is that the Bible makes clear that Pope John Paul II, the long-dying Terry Schaivo, and the recently murdered church-goers in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (I was acquainted with some of the survivors), and biblical patriarchs like Moses, King David, the apostle Peter, and all the apostles are all in hell, meaning the unseen. They are in hell along with every person who has ever lived and died since Adam was created. This includes your loved ones and my loved ones — all are dead — except one, Christ Jesus.

They are not alive in heaven.
They are not alive in torment.
They are not alive in some invented, non-biblical purgatory.
They are not disembodied spirits living somewhere else.
They do not possess immortality.
They do not possess consciousness.
They are dead.
They are ex-people.

Their soul has gone to a place that does not exist in heaven or earth. Their soul is in sheol (in Hebrew) and hades (in Greek). These are the most-often used words designating biblical hell.

The dead are nonexistent — except in God’s mind. This is not being disrespectful. This is the way life and death is. Death is an evil. Death is a great, great enemy. In fact, death is so horrible, that the apostle Paul said death would be the last enemy that God will destroy (1 Corinthians 15:26). Death will be abolished (2 Timothy 1:10). Most of you reading this already know this truth. The nonexistence of the dead is the reason that the dead know nothing:

“All things come alike to all: there is one event [destiny],

to the righteous, and to the wicked;
to the good and
[to the bad]
to the clean, and to the unclean;
to him that sacrifices, and to him that sacrifices not:
as is the good, so is the sinner; and
he that swears, as he that fears an oath.

This [event] is an evil among all things that are done under the sun, that there is one event unto all: yea, also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead.”

After this litany about death, Qoheleth, the Compiler, who was Solomon, the son of David, King of Israel and Judah, the author of Ecclesiastes, then tells what happens after death takes a person:

“For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion. For the living know that they shall die: but

the dead know not any thing,
neither have they any more a reward; for
the memory of them
[the dead person’s memory] is forgotten.
Also their love, and
their hatred, and
their envy,

is now perished;

neither have they any more a portion for ever [olam, for the age] in any thing that is done under the sun.”

That is an extensive list of things that the dead do not know, do not receive, and do not feel. The dead have no emotions. Why? It is because they are temporarily nonexistent until their resurrection. Note also the total difference at every point between the living and the dead. Not only do these verses state clearly that the dead know nothing, but all emotions they had in life also cease at the time of death.

The author of Ecclesiastes then gives advice about how to live and cope with this situation in verses 7–9. Then the state of the dead in the grave is emphasized still again in verse 10:

“Whatsoever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is

no work,
nor device,
nor knowledge,
nor wisdom,

in the grave [sheol], where you go [are going].”

The Psalmist (David, Psalm 31:1) says that the dead do not speak but are silent in the grave:

“Let me not be ashamed, O Lord; for I have called upon you: let the wicked be ashamed, and let them be silent in the grave.”

Not one of the dead will live again until the time of their resurrection, whether to immortality or mortality (according to God’s grace): “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive, but every man in his own order” (1 Corinthians 15:22–23). Christ will be merciful to all (Romans 11:32) and will provide a ransom for all (1 Timothy 2:5–6). Those who are dead are not alive. The contrast between “death” and “life” is absolute and direct. The dead will not be conscious, or aware, or alive until a time in the future when Christ brings them back to life and makes them aware and conscious.

Prayers to the Dead, Prayers for the Dead?

Pope John Paul II was just a man, a man who died. He was subject to the same conditions of life as all of us. John Paul II does not need anyone’s prayers. No man is authorized to receive prayers. In any case praying to anyone except God is pointless. The dead are not there to hear them. Neither can they pray for us.

Recall that Jesus’ example of prayer was that everyone was to pray to “Our Father ...” (Matthew 6:9; Luke 11:2). There is no biblical example where prayer is (properly) directed to a dead human or to any entity other than God the Father. To do so is ignorance at best, and idolatry at worst.

The apostle Paul makes it clear that our requests should go to God, not any type or kind of intermediary or intercessor. In fact, a particular blessing will come to you (and can come to you now!) if you regularly pray to God only. Your hearts and minds will be kept and protected at peace. This is a promise for now.

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep [garrison] your hearts and minds [at peace] through Christ Jesus.”

We who have the Spirit of God have nothing to fear from God the Father, approaching Him, or praying to Him directly (Romans 8:14–17). If you combine the above verse with the Christ’s teaching to pray to the Father, along with Paul’s admonition below, you will have a good understanding of who to pray to:

“But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him. Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge ...”

Certainly this means that Mary is not to be prayed to by anyone. She is dead after all — and not alive. It is unfortunate that Roman Catholics (and Christians of the Eastern and Russian Orthodox persuasion) commit that error daily around the world. They may as well be praying to the walls, the altars, and the wood, plaster or metal figurines that represent the saints. In fact that is all they are praying to, just to the physical objects. The excuse that they are praying to God through Mary is impossible because, again, Mary is dead.

In the resurrection Mary will be quite embarrassed by all the misplaced attention directed upon her and her role since the early 300s C.E. She was certainly “blessed” in her role as the mother of Jesus (Luke 1:28, 42), but she is not to be prayed to and certainly not to be worshipped as a co-redeemer with Christ.

Proper Consideration of Mary

There is a current and increasingly wide trend in Roman Catholic theology, particularly in Third World countries where Catholicism is growing rapidly. The veneration of Mary is becoming adoration — and more. Some Catholic bishops are even speaking of Mary as a co-redemptrix and mediator. (Go to any Internet search engine and type in the words “Mary” and “mediatrix.”) Type “Mary” into the improved Vatican search engine at (http://vatican.mondosearch.com/search.aspx), and see what John Paul II and the Vatican taught (and still teaches) regarding the mother of Jesus. It may surprise you. The new Pope has pledged to continue the veneration of Mary. 2

Now I am going to do something that may surprise many of you. (In fact it surprises me too.) I am going to quote Pope John Paul II from his book Crossing the Threshold of Hope. 3 This book is an interview with John Paul II giving written responses 15 years into his papacy. Many of you may object to my quoting him, but in this way I cannot be accused of putting words in John Paul II’s mouth.

John Paul was very devoted to Mary. This devotion to Mary was (according to him) rooted in a devotion to the Trinity (see the chapter “The Mother of God”). Later, in the chapter titled “Be Not Afraid” he writes:

“After my election as Pope, as I became more involved in the problems of the universal Church, I came to have a similar conviction: On this universal level, if victory comes it will be brought by Mary. Christ will conquer through her, because He wants the Church’s victories now and in the future to be linked to her.

In reality Mary can do nothing. Mary is dead. Who (or what) did John Paul pray to when he dedicated a statue to her? 4 Clearly then there is no need to pray for anyone’s soul, as so many Roman Catholics were seen to do, praying for the soul of Pope John Paul II. His soul is being kept by God, to be made alive at a time of God’s choosing. All of your dead loved ones are likewise kept. You will be kept also. Trust God. Your soul will not be left in hell (the grave) but you will raised up when Christ returns, like David will be, like Christ was. Christ was our leader in that regard:

“For you will not leave my soul in hell; neither will you suffer [allow] your Holy One to see corruption.” [a prophecy of Christ]

“For great is your mercy toward me: and you have delivered my soul from the lowest hell.” [a prophecy of Christ]

“You shall beat him with the rod, and shall deliver his soul from hell.” [a prophecy of Christ]

“Because you will not leave my soul in hell, neither will you suffer your Holy One to see corruption. ... He seeing this before spoke of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.” [the fulfillment of the prophecies about Christ]

All Prayer to God the Father

All prayer therefore should be addressed and made to God the Father alone, and conducted in the name of Christ (John 14:13, 16:23–25), as Paul specifically and deliberately states this:

“And whatsoever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.”

John Paul as Pope was called “Holy Father” according to Roman Catholic doctrine. This was done on television repeatedly by Catholic and non-Catholic commentators. The word “pope” is derived from the Greek word for father. Roman Catholic priests are also called Fathers. This is clearly forbidden in the New Testament. See 1 Corinthians 4:15 and Hebrews 12:9. Jesus reserves the term “Father” solely to God the Father when He stated:

Call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.”

The late Pope clearly understood these verses, yet he ignored the meaning. In response to a question in the interview, John Paul wrote:

“Have no fear when people call me the ‘Vicar of Christ,’ when they say to me ‘Holy Father,’ or ‘Your Holiness,’ or use titles similar to these, which seem even inimical to the Gospel. Christ himself declared: ‘Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven. Do not be called “Master”; you have but one master, the Messiah’ (Mt 23:9-10). These expressions, nevertheless, have evolved out of a long tradition, becoming part of common usage. One must not be afraid of these words either.”

Tradition apparently overrules Scripture. The phrase “Vicar of Christ” means “in place of Christ,” acting for or representing another to God. Check any dictionary on the meaning of “vicar.” “Vicar” comes from the Latin meaning “substitute” or “in place of.” 6 Our English word “vicarious” is derived from the noun “vicar.”

Did John Paul II Ascend to Heaven?

Is John Paul II in heaven? No. He is in hell. King Agur in Proverbs asked several rhetorical questions:

“Who has ascended up into heaven, or descended?
who has gathered the wind in his fists?
who has bound the waters in a garment?
who has established all the ends of the earth?
what is his name, and what is his son’s name, if you can tell?”

The answer to each of these questions is in the negative. No one has ascended into heaven (or at that time, descended from heaven) except God. No other human being. The other questions have the same negative answer: none but God and His son, Immanuel. Jesus told Nicodemus what he should have already known:

“If I have told you earthly things, and you believe not, how shall you believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? And no man has ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.”

That means that at Jesus’ time no one had gone to heaven, not one. They were (and are) all in “hell.”

As a matter of fact, we can know the precise time when Jesus ascended to heaven and went to the Father. He ascended to heaven immediately after He spoke to Mary Magdalene. At that time in heaven He performed the ritual of putting the blood on the altar (Hebrews chapters 9–13):

“Jesus says unto her, ‘Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and [I ascend] to my God, and your God.’”

Before Christ no man had ascended (according to Jesus’ own words, John 3:12–13 above). After Christ’s resurrection and ascension still no one has yet been resurrected or ascended to heaven, not even to the present day. No resurrection and ascension will occur until Christ’s Second Coming. Those who have not been resurrected and not ascended include King David himself: Look at a verse we read previously, this time emphasizing other important points in the text:

“Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulcher is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, ... He seeing this before spoke of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell [unlike David’s], neither his flesh did see corruption. This Jesus has God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. ... For David is not ascended into the heavens ...”

King David is still in “hell,” hades, the unseen. He has not been resurrected or ascended into heaven — any heaven. David does not exist at this point in time except, as I said before, in God’s present memory.

“Whither shall I go from your spirit? or whither shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend [“climb” is a better translation] up into heaven, you are there: if I make my bed in hell [sheol], behold, you are there.”

Immortality

No man has ascended into heaven, all people are still in the grave, because no one has immortality except Christ Jesus. At the present time it is the purpose of Christ to bring immortality to light, to reveal it, to bring it to our attention. Later He will bring our immortality to fruition. Death has been abolished in Christ, yet our immortality has not yet occurred. At present we have the earnest of God’s Holy Spirit as shown in 1 Corinthians 1:22, 5:5; Ephesians 1:14:

“But is now made manifest [made plain] by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death, and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”

Immortality is not anyone’s possession. It is Christ’s alone:

“Which in his times he shall show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; Who only has immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man has seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power everlasting. Amen.”

“For our citizenship [wrongly translated as “conversation” in the KJV] is in heaven; from whence we also look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body.”

The Meaning of Hell

The English word “hell” comes from a Teutonic root meaning “to hide” or “cover,” hence the covered or the invisible place. It is derived from the Saxon helan. It had originally the significance of the world of the dead generally, and in this sense is used by medieval English works.

The word “hell” is mistranslated in the King James Version and other English translations. The English word “hell” occurs in 54 verses of the King James Version. I will not go into detail here except to say that the King James word for “hell” is a translation from sheol in the Hebrew and often hades in the Greek.

In the King James Version Old Testament sheol is not always translated “hell,” but the English word “hell” always is derived from the Hebrew sheol. The Hebrew word sheol is translated as:

“hell” 31 times,

“grave” 31 times, and

“pit” 3 times.

Basically sheol simply means a hole in the ground where the dead are placed and buried. Sheol is the abode of the wicked: Numbers 16:33; Job 24:19; Psalms 9:17 31:17, etc. Sheol is also the abode of the good: Psalms 16:10 30:3 49:15 86:13, etc. My use of the word “abode” simply means a place where the dead are located. It does not mean that they are “alive” within that “abode.” Note how sheol is used within three short verses by the King James Version:

“Hell [sheol] from beneath is moved for you to meet you at your coming ... Your pomp is brought down to the grave [sheol], and the noise of your viols: the worm is spread under you, and the worms cover you. ... Yet you shall be brought down to hell [sheol], to the sides of the pit.”

This is where the soul of Pope John Paul II now resides. His body is in the tomb, his spirit has returned to God, and his soul is in the unseen, sheol. He is not alive. So also is the state and situation of every other human being who ever lived except one. Only Christ Jesus has been resurrected to spiritual life.

In the New Testament, the Greek word hades is the equivalent of sheol in Hebrew. Hades is translated:

“hell” 10 times and
“grave” 1 time.

To further confuse things, the King James uses the word “hell” to translate three Greek words:

hades, as noted above,
gehenna, 12 times, and
tartaroo, 1 time in 2 Peter 2:4.

So what you have is a jumble of inconsistent and confusing translations in the King James Version, and in most English translations. John Paul II then is in hell only in the sense that he is in the grave and the “unseen” which is the same state as all other human beings who have ever lived. 7

Christ’s Resurrection from the Dead

How important is Christ’s resurrection from the dead? See what the apostle Paul has to say about it. It is the foundation of Paul’s gospel:

“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also you have received, and wherein you stand; By which also you are saved, if you keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless you have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how

[1] that Christ died [He was not alive elsewhere] for our sins according to the scriptures;

[2] And that he was buried, and

[3] that he rose again [from the dead, not life] the third day according to the scriptures ...

Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so you believed.”

Christ died and He was not “alive” again until he rose on the third day. He was dead for 3 days and 3 nights.

“Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead [He did not rise from “life”], how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.

Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not [This would include that the dead are not “really” dead]. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; you are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep [dead, not alive] in Christ are perished.

If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”

The dead are clearly identified with those who are “asleep” and “them that slept.” If the dead “shall all be made alive,” then it is clear that they are not alive now. They are not “alive” in a different state of existence; they are dead. Those who preach a doctrine of an immortal soul (and that the dead are not in fact dead) are false witnesses of God and Christ. How is that so? Because they believe that Christ had an immortal soul and therefore He did not actually rise “from the dead.” They believe only His body rose. 8

The apostle Paul is clear that the resurrection of believers to glory takes place after death at the moment of Jesus’ return, in response to the sound of a trumpet. Those righteous dead who are asleep will hear the trumpet because at that instant they will be made alive. Then their resurrected mortal bodies will be made incorruptible. Only then will death be overcome for those individuals. Paul calls this whole process a “mystery” which means “secret.”

“I show you a mystery [musterion in Greek]; We [the ekklesia] shall not all sleep [die], but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead [the righteous dead] shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your sting? O grave [hades in Greek], where is your victory?”

John Paul’s Theology

In his book Crossing the Threshold of Hope and elsewhere when Pope John Paul II agrees with Scripture, I agree with him. Where he is contrary to Scripture, I disagree with him. For example:

“The history of salvation is very simple. And it is a history that unfolds within the earthly history of humanity, beginning with the first Adam, through the revelation of the second Adam, Jesus Christ (cf. 1 Cor 15:45), and ending with the ultimate fulfillment of the history of the world in God, when He will be “all in all” (1 Cor 15:28).

No one should have a problem with these words. I am pleased to quote them because they are true words based on Scripture. However, I feel no need to learn from any man except he makes clear what the Bible teaches, regardless of tradition, regardless of ritual, regardless of non-biblical symbolism (often pagan in origin). John Paul II says in another chapter:

Only God saves, and He saves the whole of humanity in Christ. The very name Jesus, Jeshua (“God who saves”), bespeaks this salvation.”

Does this statement mean that John Paul II believes in universal reconciliation? No. Later he reiterates his belief in the Trinity and eternal damnation. Neither are taught in the Bible. He mixes those teachings with verses that proclaim God’s salvation of all men:

“To save means to liberate from radical evil. ... An even more radical evil is God’s rejection of man, that is, eternal damnation as the consequence of man’s rejection of God. ... The dogma of the Holy Trinity expresses the truth about the intimate life of God and invites us to receive that life. ... Eternal damnation is certainly proclaimed in the Gospel. To what degree is it realized in life beyond the grave? This is, ultimately, a great mystery. However, we can never forget that God ‘wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth’ (1 Tim 2:4).”

I do not know whether John Paul II (or anyone else) will be included in that company of believers at the resurrection. I do not know what was in John Paul II’s heart, or whether he had the Spirit of God within him. I do know that good works alone is insufficient for entry into God’s and Christ’s Kingdom. The bottom line is, if he had God’s Holy Spirit in him as a seed (1 Corinthians 15:35–38), he will be in the 1st resurrection.

Nor, if asked, could I know if you will be in the 1st resurrection. I intend to be there. I also know surely that all men will be saved and come to the full knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4–6), and I trust that Christ Jesus is the savior of all men (without exception, John 1:29; 1 John 2:2, 4:14; Romans 5:12–18; 2 Timothy 4:10; and Titus 2:11).

Pope John Paul II’s Legacy

Pope John Paul II was a great political and religious leader. He was a man well versed in philosophy, religious thought, Catholic tradition, and the Bible. He was a great intellectual and linguist, as he should be as the head of a corporate structure with over one billion adherents.

However, unfortunately he did not believe that Jesus died at His crucifixion. The Pope believed that only Jesus’ body died. Secondarily the Pope believed that Jesus died on a cross and not on a tree. Both are wrong conclusions from clear biblical evidence. To be fair, not only is this Roman Catholic teaching, it is also the belief and teaching of most of Protestant and evangelical Christianity.

While I hope nothing I have written here would be construed as an endorsement of the teachings of the Pope or the Catholic Church, John Paul II had many, many admirable qualities (as we all have). He used his office to teach morality, while under very strong pressure to compromise that teaching. It is to his credit that as a public figure he was as wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove. Although scandal cut deeply into the corporate Roman Catholic Church, it never touched him personally. By all accounts his service to his church appears to be genuine and honest.

Also he apparently did not deviate from the basic teachings of the corporate Catholic Church, which he was always pressured to liberalize. He seemed to believe wholeheartedly in what he taught, and that they were his own strongly held beliefs (unbiblical though many of those beliefs were).

John Paul II did not shirk from the suffering he endured toward the end of his life. In several of his last public pronouncements he showed a proper biblical understanding when he said that his pain and suffering was to God’s glory. This is a true sentiment in accord with Romans 5:3 where the apostle Paul says, “but we glory in tribulations [afflictions] also: knowing that tribulation [affliction] works patience.”

Finally John Paul II was a brilliant international strategic thinker, planner, and political operative who worked skillfully and succeeded to help free millions of people, particularly in Eastern Europe and within the old Soviet Union. That is certainly a much better legacy than most men in their lives can claim.

Remember always, however, that Pope John Paul II played his part in the world as God wished him to play it — for good or for evil. This does not mean that we should follow the man or his teachings — or any man and his teachings. We should only follow the Word of God, both the written and the Living Word of God, Christ Jesus.

On the stage of international politics God is the puppet master, guiding men, circumstances, and events as He wishes, while the world acts (at present) in the blindness put out by Satan who unwittingly acts as His agent. God our Father does not yet want the world to know all truth — not yet (Ephesians 1:11; 1 Timothy 2:4, 4:10). He has blinded those who do not believe the Gospel of Christ:

“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world [aion, age] has blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”

Pope John Paul II shall be resurrected, judged, saved, and glorified by Christ, just like every other person in the world who ever lived or will live. However, not many in the world know this truth. John Paul will be surprised at how he was used by God for His purposes.

David Sielaff, June 2005

For the most comprehensive presentation of the plan of God from creation to the consummation, see Dr. Martin’s book The Essentials of New Testament Doctrine (Portland, OR: ASK, 2001). For further teaching on these matters read the following articles, by Dr. Ernest Martin (and the last one by me).  DWS

“Anatomy of a Church, Part 1”

http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d980927.htm

“Anatomy of a Church, Part 2”

http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d980928.htm

“By Grace Are Ye Saved”

http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d960501.htm

“The Death of Death”

http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d030101a.htm

“God’s Reconciliation with Man”

http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d031001.htm

“To Preach Your Own Funeral”

http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d030101.htm

“Chapter 8, Jesus Died in His Sins” (from ABCs)

http://www.askelm.com/abc/abc008.htm

“Near-Death Experiences”

http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d940101.htm

“The Time Periods for the Resurrections”

http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d971005.htm

“Salvation and the Doctrine of Deification”

http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d040202.htm

“The Biblical Teaching of Hell”

http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d030601.htm

“The Time Periods for Salvation, Part 1”

http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d041101.htm

“The Time Periods for Salvation, Part 2”

http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d041201.htm

“The Doctrine of the Ages in the Bible”

http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d050101.htm

“The Recognition of Universal Reconciliation, Part 1”

http://www.askelm.com/news/n020806.htm

“The Recognition of Universal Reconciliation, Part 2”

http://www.askelm.com/news/n020812.htm

“The Recognition of Universal Reconciliation, Part 3”

http://www.askelm.com/news/n020820.htm
 

1 The common funeral statement “ashes to ashes, and dust to dust” does not occur in Scripture. Ashes and dust are terms used in reference to a pre-death situation where the complainant seeks death. See Genesis 18:27; Job 30:19, 42:6; and Ezekiel 27:30.

2 Some may object and say that the veneration of Mary is not worshipping Mary. However, whenever the Pope or anyone kneels down before an image or an icon of a dead person, prays to that dead person, with the thought that the dead person is living, and can actively be an intermediary to God on their behalf, that to me has all the elements of worship. Pope John Paul II repeatedly gave such “veneration” to Mary, openly praying in front of her statues. The Vatican asserts such acts are “veneration” and not “adoration”: (http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/audiences/1997/documents/hf_jp-ii_aud_22101997_en.html). It is doubtful that many Catholics around the world either understand or make the distinction in practice. In any case, such actions are strongly condemned in the Bible, whatever the reason. Such statues are called idols. It is paganism. It is important to understand that pagans never thought for one moment that the idols they prayed were the gods. The idols only represented the pagan gods, exactly as Catholic dogma today teaches.

3 New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1994. Available free online at:
http://www.catholic.net/RCC/POPE/HopeBook/toc.html.

4 Statue of Mary dedication where Pope John Paul II prays directly addresses prayers to Mary: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/speeches/2003/december/documents/hf_jp-ii_spe_20031208_prayer-immaculate_en.html

5 See the chapter titled “‘The Pope’: A Scandal and a Mystery.” In fact John Paul II states that each bishop of the Roman Catholic Church is a “vicar of Christ” and is in place of Christ on earth.

6 See the last section of Dr. Martin’s article: “The Curse of Church Authority” at http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d951101.htm, where he shows that “Vicar of Christ” means “in place of Christ.” It is an antichrist assumption of authority.

7 See Dr. Martin’s article “The Biblical Teaching of Hell” which clarifies the information about “hell,” its English derivation and biblical meaning:
http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d030601.htm.
Of related interest is his article “The Lake of Fire – Where Is It Located?” at
http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d810201.htm, which discusses the Greek word gehenna. Also, type the word “hell” into the ASK search engine and read the various articles that relate to the teaching of hell in the Bible.

8 The words “dead” or “death” occur 20 times in 1 Corinthians chapter 15. You should underline the words “dead” and “death” in that chapter in your personal Bibles to reflect the emphasis the apostle Paul intended to put on those words when the passage was read aloud to the ekklesias. For further descriptions of Christ’s coming and your part in it, read 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18 and 2 Thessalonians 1:5–12. Paul’s references to “you” in those passages do in fact include you.

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