Drug Dealers Condemned in the New Testament

Drug Dealers In the Bible? Where?

Drug dealing is treated gravely and severely condemned in the New Testament: 5 times.
(Gal.5:20, Rev.9:21, 18:23, 21:8, 22:15, original Greek)

Paul Speaks out against Drugs:

Gal 5:20 "Now the works of the flesh are OBVIOUS: sexual immorality, uncleanness, ... DRUG DEALING (pharmakeia)...and things like these I am warning you, THOSE WHO DO THEM WILL NOT INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF GOD!"

John also Speaks out against Drugs:

Rev. 9:21 "Nor did they even repent of their murders or their DRUG DEALING (ton pharmakon) or their sexual immorality or their robbery."

Rev 22:15 "OUTSIDE (heaven) are the dogs and the DRUG DEALERS (hoi pharmakoi), and everyone who practises falsehood."

Rev 18:23 Babylon the Great City has fallen...All nations were deceived by your DRUG DEALING (en te pharmakeia)"

Rev 21:8 "But as for the ...DRUG DEALERS (pharmakois) their place will be in the Lake of Fire, which is the Second Death!"

Why Should we translate 'pharmakoi' as Drug Dealers?

The Greek word ‘pharmakeia’ has been used since 500 years before Jesus’ time to refer to the buying and selling of drugs for both recreational and medical purposes, and also to refer to quacks selling ‘miracle cures’ etc. This is the very word we get our modern English word ‘Pharmacy’ from, to refer to a dealer or supplier of drugs, a drug store.

Why isn't this in my English Translation?

It has been known since ancient times that the word means ‘drug dealing’. Abundant references in Classical literature show this beyond dispute. In English bibles the term ‘drug dealing’ was deliberately avoided and a completely different word, ‘sorcery’ put in its place. This is was not just due to superstitious ignorance.

During the Middle Ages the Church became the largest manufacturer and supplier of the most popular drug on earth: ALCOHOL. The church sold out to the drug dealing industry, and God’s Word was intentionally kept obscure.

To this day, the Western Church not only makes its own wine for religious use, but also sells it commercially through various monasteries and companies. There may have been some 'excuse' for this sorry state of affairs in the 16th century, before drug dealing was widely understood and formally criminalized. However, in the 21st century there really is no excuse for failing to properly render the original Greek, and make the truth plain.

Are Drug Dealers Really Going to be Destroyed?

This is the million dollar question! In recent times, some Universalists have tried to re-interpret the bible to support the idea that all people are ultimately saved. When Revelation says,

Rev 21:8 "But as for the ...DRUG DEALERS (pharmakois) their place will be in the Lake of Fire, which is the Second Death!"

...the Universalists would have us believe it should be rendered,

"...their PART will be in the Lake of Fire, ..."

In this interpretation, a person's 'part' or 'portion' refers to his works and/or collected earnings for good and bad deeds. From this idea they want you to believe that only their 'bad works' will pass through a kind of testing fire, but the drug dealers themselves (and other extreme criminals) and their souls will be saved, thus 'fulfilling the scriptures' in a humane way.

But can this interpretation hold up? Sadly, NO. For safeguarding the meaning here and removing any ambiguity, the action of the Lake of Fire is plainly identified by the following phrase:

"...the Lake of Fire, which is the Second Death!"

Now ordinary death is horrifying enough: it is often inconvenient, humiliating, slow, painful, and terrifying, especially if the death is a crime being perpetrated upon an innocent victim. We may hope in an afterlife, but death is quite serious, even for sincerely spiritual people. And the New Testament doesn't avoid the issue, or flower it up with euphemisms. Instead it warns seekers of God that bad things can happen.

"you (disciples) will be persecuted: handed over to courts and imprisoned...
betrayed even by friends and relatives, and some of you put to death...
and hated by all for My name's sake,
...but not a hair of your head will ultimately be lost!" (Luke 21:12f)

Of course we shouldn't be surprised. The very existance of 'sin' can mean that innocent or at least undeserving people can suffer. By definition, murder is killing someone who shouldn't be killed. Experience shows that even children can be victimised, and even good people can still make mistakes that cause injury or cost lives.

Yet we should not exaggerate ordinary death: there are things more terrible than death:

"Don't be afraid of those who kill the body and afterward can do no more.
I will tell you who to fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed,
has the power to cast into hellfire!
" (Luke 12:4,5)

This is clearly the Second Death, and is to be feared far more than death. According to Revelation it is applied against criminals, and evil men. And yet it is also clear from all the warnings, that all men are at risk: that any man could find himself facing the Second Death, if he committed a serious enough sin.

Even John, the Apostle of Love warns us of the gravity of certain sins. He says there is a 'sin that leads to Death', and actually tells Christians NOT to pray for those who commit such sins!

If anyone sees a brother commit a sin that is not a deadly sin,
he can pray, and God will extend life to his brother,
...provided it is NOT a deadly sin:
There is sin that leads to death:
and I am NOT saying that you should pray in that case! (1 John 5:16)

Wow, not only are some people going to be destroyed, but we aren't even supposed to pray for them.

How could the Universalists get it so wrong? Simple: what they are talking about is the common Judgement that everyone faces. All people will have their works, good and bad, judged by God on Judgement Day. Of all the works and deeds, whatever is built upon sand will pass away. (James 5:1-4).

But every sincere Christian or seeker of God believes in God's fair judgement, and certainly doesn't need to fear it. (1 John 4:18) Even if my earthly deeds may turn out to be of little value, I will certainly be grateful to at least be judged fairly, and I'll be happy to make it to heaven, even if I am not much of a hero.

But ordinary judgement simply CAN'T be what every Apostle was frantically warning us about! What they are talking about can only be the ultimate penalty for evil works: Pain, self-pity and horror, ending in utter destruction without appeal, as God hands out His Final Devastating Judgement. It makes sense to fear this!

John: "You are well aware that no murderer has eternal life remaining in him."

Peter: "If the righteous are scarcely saved, what will happen to the wicked?"

James: "Faith without deeds is useless!...it is by deeds,
not just believing, that someone is justified."

Hebrews:"Whoever breaks the Law is ruthlessly put to death...and you may be sure that anyone who tramples on the Son of God, and who treats the blood of the Covenant as unholy, and insults the Spirit will be condemned to a far more severe punishment."


Jesus: "No one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will be forgiven."

1 John 3:15/1 Peter 4:18/James 2:20-24/Heb 10:28-29/Gal. 5:20/Luke 12:10

Obviously what these apostles are talking about is NOT ordinary Judgement of men and their works, where the chaff is burnt off, and the wheat remains, or the slag is removed, from true gold through a cleansing fire. Instead, here we are warned of a dire consequence worse than death, an irreversible and violent destruction.

Revelation is supported by every apostle and leader of the New Testament, although its detailed description of God's Final Judgement is unique. Some who suffer the Wrath of God clearly do NOT repent, and so are NOT saved, but are cast into God's garbage can:

"When it happens,
those people will long for death but not find it anywhere!"

"But the survivors of the first plagues refused to repent,
or stop their murders, DRUG DEALING, sexual immorality, or robbery."

"This is the Second Death: the Lake of Fire.
And anyone whose name was not found written
in the Book of Life was thrown into the Lake of Fire."

"And the Demon (Diabolos) who had deceived them
was thrown into the Lake of Fire and Sulfur,
where the Beast and False Prophet were,
and they will be tormented day and night, aeon after aeon."

(Revelation 9:6,21, 20:15 20:10)

This makes it clear that the doctrine of Universal Salvation is bankrupt, and is not supported by the New Testament as a whole.

Anyone can be saved, but not everyone will be.

Of course God doesn't wish anyone to perish, but wishes that all might have Eternal Life.

But according to the New Testament view, God's Divine nature, which gives men everywhere ample opportunity to repent, has a complimentary side which ultimately requires justice and fairness, and results in a Final Judgement for some.

God won't force people to repent, but He will certainly destroy them if they refuse to.

No Hope for Drug Dealers?

We have seen that some people are not saved but are thrown into the Lake of Fire, and some of those who are thrown into the Lake of Fire are DRUG DEALERS. But is God referring to ALL drug dealers, or just some of them?

Jesus made it clear that there are 'small' sins and 'large' sins (Matthew 23:23). We have already seen that some sins lead to death, or worse. (1 John 5:16, Heb.10:28-29), and horrific punishments are prophesied in Revelation. Now please note again that Paul doesn't hesitate grouping DRUG DEALING alongside the worst sins that lead certainly to death and exclude Eternal Life also.

Gal 5:20 "...DRUG DEALING...and things like these I am warning you, THOSE WHO DO THEM WILL NOT INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF GOD!"

And Paul is not just talking about a handful of ringleaders, or some international drug lords only: He warns ordinary church goers that committing these sins leads to death and disqualifies you for Eternal Life! That's pretty much EVERY DRUG DEALER, since it even includes backsliding Christians!

But wait, there may still be hope for a repentant DRUG DEALER: God is not an unjust Judge. We can hope He will make some allowance for ignorance, poverty, deception, or unreasonable circumstances. And indeed, Jesus gives us some hope here:

"The one who knew what his Master wanted, but didn't do it will get a severe beating,
but he who did NOT know and earned a beating will get a lighter beating."
(Luke 12:47-48)

A DRUG DEALER who is STILL ALIVE, and capable of repenting and stopping his crimes, could receive forgiveness and be saved:

"As I live," says the Lord God,
"I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked,
but prefer the wicked turn back from their evil and live.
Turn back! Repent of your evil, for why should you die?"
(Ezekiel 33:11)

On the other hand, a Christian who falls away from his faithfulness and commits crimes like DRUG DEALING and murder is in danger of the severest Judgement:

"But the righteous won't be able to count on their righteousness if they sin:
If they trust in their righteousness and commit sin,
none of their righteous deeds will be remembered!
But in the sin they have committed, they will die."
(Ezek 33:12-13)

"Don't be deceived, for God is not mocked:
Whatever you sow, you will reap." (Gal. 6:7)

Appendix: How did this (Mistranslation) Happen?

(coming soon: a brief history of bible translations.)

Competing Cultures: Booze Wars

(coming soon: notes on drugs, alcohol, Christians and the prohibition).

Twisting Paul's Message

(coming soon: how Paul was misunderstood and distorted.)