The Truth about
1 Sam. 28:8-15
1 Kings 17:21
1 Thess. 5:23
1 Peter 3:19
- Hebrews 12:23
- "To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect."
- It is argued by Evangelicals that the "spirits of just men made perfect" refers to the immortal spirits (or souls) of the departed.
- The same writer to the Hebrews expressly states that the great cloud of witnesses catalogued in the 11th chapter, "having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect." (Heb. 11:39, 40). In chapter 12 the writer uses the perfect tense to describe an event yet future, but assured - "the Spirits of just men made perfect". This mode of expression is a common feature of Scripture and is clearly stated in Rom. 4:16,17. (See also Rev. 13:8 - Christ was not literally slain from "the foundation of the world"; Matt. 25:34 - the kingdom is not yet established.)
- When will the spirits of "just men" be made "perfect"? Not until after resurrection and judgment when immortality is granted. (2 Cor. 5:10 cf. Phil. 3:9-12 - "Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect"). A person is justified (made righteous) by appropriating the great salvation of the gospel at his baptism. (Rom. 6:3,4 cf. vs. 17,18; 4:24). The law of Moses could not make the offerer of sacrifices perfect (Heb. 10:1), but Christ "by one offering. . . hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified." (Heb. 10:14). The spirit or life of the believer is not made perfect until he has endured unto the end, overcoming the world (Matt. 24:13; Rev. 2:26,27), but God can speak of believers coming unto the spirits of "just men made perfect" since known to Him are all His works from the "beginning of the world." (Acts 15:18). In actuality the spirits will not be made perfect until the granting of immortality of the Lord's return.
- It is difficult to define precisely the meaning of "spirits" in this passage. "Lives" seems to be a fair approximation. In Heb. 12:9 the writer states: "Shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits and live?" This verse appears to allude to Num. 16:22; 27:16. The intent of these references being that God is the giver of life, and therefore must be respected when he chastens or punishes. But the life of a person is manifested in the kind of life lived. (i.e., the character of the person), hence "spirits made perfect", refers to the lives of persons made perfect.