Copyright © 1975, 2002
I do not offer the following thoughts concerning “Black Holes” for dogmatic belief. In the nature of the subject they are conjectural. No one can speak with certainty on these matters either from a scientific or spiritual point of view. The statements concerning the nature of “Black Holes” and any other scientific data are derived from authentic sources and may be checked by any intelligent person who cares to do so. I cannot enter into discussion concerning the scientific conception of “Black Holes,” as it is not my field, but it is my pleasure to offer for your consideration some thoughts on the subject. If you should reject the whole conception we shall not quarrel for I am only expressing my thoughts in print, not my beliefs. What you and I think about and what we believe are often two different things.
“The Black Hole”
The conception of the “Black Holes” was expounded by D. Lyden Bell of Greenwich Observatory in 1969 and arose from his study of galaxies and quasars.
At the heart of most galaxies there is an intensely compact and energetic source of light, radio waves, fast electrons, infrared rays and X-rays. It seems to be missing in the Andromeda nebula (M.31), not conspicuous in our own, the Via Galactia (the “Milky Way”), but very marked in others and perhaps most noticeable in the quasars. The brilliance of a quasar may be caused by resisting and colliding stars orbiting the center of gravity of the galaxy at its nucleus.
If the galactic nucleus is sufficiently dense at its center, then its gravity would prevent particles from escaping unless they have sufficient speed. This is demonstrated in a minor degree by the earth’s own gravitational field. Only that can leave the Earth which has attained the escape velocity of approximately seven miles per second. The heavier a body is, the more energy is required to accelerate that body up to the escape velocity. A “Black Hole” would have such a concentration of mass that even light itself cannot escape it; nothing could leave it and there would be an irresistible completely dark abyss. Anything that came within its gravitational pull, whether particles, light-rays or a star would only be drawn in and increase its attraction by the addition of its own mass. Such a “Black Hole” would be like an immense swirling drain; ever receiving, never giving. It would have immense attractive force; gas, stars, etc., would orbit the hole at near the velocity of light in constant collision, making the brilliant radiations that can be seen or received, until, having lost their own orbital motion, they would be drawn into the “Black Hole.”
Principalities and Powers
How could the conception of a “Black Hole” fit into the “the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God” [Acts 2:23] and the revelation of His creative wisdom? In the counsel of His own will God delights, in grace, to share and delegate His authority. He imparts to the beings of His creation, according to the ability with which he has endowed them, responsibility throughout the many varying spheres of His universe. We read in the Bible of spiritual beings of great authority known as “principalities and powers.” To conceive of such beings is beyond the present limits of the human mind. We can comprehend the idea of a “prince,” a person having high regal authority on earth, but not a “principality,” that is an arché (ἀρχή, pronounced ar-KAY; plural άρχαί / archaí, pronounced ar-KAI as in “sky”), a spirit-being having high authority in the far greater spheres of the universe, in the heavens.
Yet Scripture does give us some insight into these beings. Consider:
- The Lord Jesus Christ is now at the right hand of the Father…
- Far above all principality [arche], and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come.
- Ephesians 1:21
- God, who has created all things by His Son has also lastly, created the Church by Him…
- To the intent that now unto the principalities [archai] and powers in the heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God.
- Ephesians 3:10
- We also, because we are members of that Church, come under the strong opposition of the rebellious archai…
- For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities [archai], against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places [that is “in the heavenlies”].
- Ephesians 6:12
- But the Lord Jesus Christ, who has conquered throughout every realm that He has created, has also triumphed over the fallen archai…
- And having spoiled principalities [archai] and powers, He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
- Colossians 2:15
It has already been indicated that the Greek word ἀρχή put in its English form arché is generally translated in the King James version of the New Testament as principality. Its primary meaning is beginning and therefore when it is used in reference to beings it means the first created ones; those having primary authority and energy given to them by God. It is quite conceivable that such awe-inspiring beings were given control over those natural laws which are a manifestation of Divine energy, originally imparted by the Most High. These beginning archai would have directive control over divinely created and organized matter. Some of these spirit-beings assisted Lucifer in the Great Rebellion that is recorded in Scripture, and although they have been judged and condemned, the execution of the sentence is delayed until the appointed termination of their stewardship. Such powerful and malignant beings could produce by malfunctional control such a conception as a “Black Hole,” which perpetually receives and never gives. This is the exact opposite of God, who is the bountiful, everlasting and universal GIVER. A rebellious arché of this character would act in utter contrariness to the nature and purpose of the Creator and Sustainer, the Heir of all things; who, having completed the victory begun at the Cross, puts into effect the judgments already pronounced over His enemies and finally reconciles all things unto Himself.
- By him [Jesus] were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones or dominions or principalities [archai] or powers; all things were created by Him and for Him.
- And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist [Greek: “hold together”].
- For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell;
- and having made peace though the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself; by Him I say, whether they be things in earth or things in heaven.
- Colossians 1:16-17,19-20
There is considerable confusion in Christian minds caused by the general idea that the word heaven (as the Hebrew word shamayim and the Greek word ouranos are translated correctly in the Old and New Testaments) always means that abode of God where He manifests His glory; but this is not so. Sometimes “heaven” refers to the immediate surroundings of earth, what we would call its atmosphere. An example in the Scriptures of this is in reference to the Flood:
- And the windows of heaven were opened and the rain was on the earth forty days and forty nights.
- Genesis 6:11-12
- And the windows of heaven were stopped and the rain from heaven was restrained.
- Genesis 8:2
We may call this the first heaven. Then there is reference to “heaven” as meaning outer space (Acts 7:42); that is the second heaven.
Finally, there is the all-embracing heaven of God, and this is what the Lord Jesus Christ referred to in the prayer which He taught us, “Our Father which art in heaven.” This is the ultimate, the third heaven mentioned by Paul when he says, “…such an one caught up to the third heaven” (2 Corinthians 12:2). For the heaven of the Father is not situated somewhere in space, that is, somewhere in this universe, but this universe and all space is contained in the third heaven, the heaven of God. Have you ever asked yourself the question as to where God was when He created the second heaven of interstellar space, that incomprehensible space with its innumerable stars, its solar systems, its constellations, and its galaxies? “The number of the stars,” said Sir James Jeans, the well-known astronomer, “is as the number of all the grains of sand on all the seashores of all the world.” This great universe, in which we are, is to us so very big because we are so very small. If you are still unconvinced that the heaven, where God is, does not have its existence within this universe, then answer honestly two simple questions:
- Which was first in existence—God or space?
- If the answer to the first question is “God” (which it should be in order to be correct), then where was God before He created space?
God is greater than the universe, which is contained in God. God is not contained in the universe. Paul quotes with approval from Aratus, the pre-Christian, Athenian poet (about 300 b.c.):
“For in Him we live and move and have our being, for we are also His offspring.”
(This truth is also to be found in the hymn of Cleanthes to Jupiter, the father of the Greek gods.) Solomon, inspired by the Spirit at the dedication of the Temple, quoted what he had previously written in a message to Hiram, king of Tyre (2 Chronicles 2:6):
Behold heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain Thee.
2 Chronicles 6:18
We must remember, as Nehemiah makes clear, that the “heaven of heavens” is where the stars are, that is, interstellar space. “Thou…hast made…the heaven of heavens, with all their host” (Nehemiah 9:6).
But let us return to a consideration of the “Black Holes.” Would God utilize an abyss of this nature? It could be. We read in Revelation 20 of the Judgment Day when all souls, including those from Death and Hades, stand before God [verses 11-15]. Hades, the place of unrighteous departed souls, is within the confines of this planet, for it is fitting that the place of their imprisonment should be where their earthly lives were lived and their unrighteous deeds were done. So the Scriptures teach.
Consider the judgment of Korah, Dathan and Abiram. Moses said, “If the Lord make a new thing and the earth open her mouth and swallow them up and they go down alive into the pit” (Numbers 16:30). Earthquakes had happened before, people had lost their lives in them, but never before had persons gone down alive into “the pit,” that is, as the original makes clear, into Sheol, the place of departed spirits, called in the New Testament by its Greek equivalent Hades. To Hades went the Lord Jesus, after His death upon the Cross, and released the righteous dead as Paul reveals in Ephesians 4:8-10. “He also descended first into the lower parts of the earth” proving that this was where Hades was and is. This the Church has known from the earliest times. As the Apostle’s Creed states, “He descended into Hell,” that is Hades, where at that time were all of the departed dead, both righteous and unrighteous. After His ascension the Son of God announces “I have the keys of Death and Hades” [Revelation 1:18], having wrested them from the usurper.
At the final judgment, the judgment of the “great white throne” (Revelation 20:11-15), Hades delivers up the dead which are in it and they are cast into the “lake of fire,” for the earth, in which they are at present, is to be dissolved and pass away. “I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away” (Revelation 21:1). So the “lake of fire” must have existence apart from this earth; it is distinct from Hades. Could this be an invisible “Black Hole,” at the center of a galaxy?
One must not assume that heat or fire are of necessity always visible. It has already been shown that owing to the density of the mass of such a “Black Hole” even light cannot escape, so that there is an utter and complete blackness. This could accord with many revelations of Scripture. The Lord said of some that they “shall be cast into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 8:12). The word used is exoteros (ἐξώτερος), meaning outer or exterior, plainly signifying that it was beyond the confines of this earth. He again says “Bind him hand and foot and take him away and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 22:13); and “cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness” (Matthew 25:30). Peter speaks of those fleshly, presumptuous self-willed ones of whom the mist (Greek: ζόφος, zophos, meaning blackness) of darkness is reserved forever (2 Peter 2:17). Jude uses exactly the same expression “blackness [zophos] of darkness forever,” concerning the same kind of people; in fact he seems to actually describe such a “Black Hole” and the state of such stars as are caught in its gravitational field: “wandering stars to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever” (Jude 13).
Stars, in general, are the source of their own light; our sun is but one of such innumerable stars. But these stars of Jude are doomed to an eternal and incomprehensible blackness which is “forever,” for their own addition to the mass of the nucleus is an increased riveting of their everlasting chains.
It is significant that in the Scriptures there is no mention of the destruction of the “lake of fire.” “Hell” (Hades) is cast into the lake of fire. This is the true “everlasting punishment;” hell is but a temporary prison for those awaiting the Judgment Day. Those not found written in the Book of Life are to be punished with “everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power” (2 Thessalonians 1:9).
God is not the author of chaos, but He is able to utilize all things, even chaos, for His high and often inscrutable purposes. He has declared in Scripture that through the work of His well-beloved Son He will subdue all things to Himself so that, eventually, all creation shall be subjected by the Son to the Father’s sovereign will. It will be perfect justice seen and known to be universally done. The final sentence shall be that those who have lived for and under the kingdom of darkness, who have constantly tried to draw all things into the gravitational field of their own egos, shall have their everlasting habitations where this principle of selfishness is eternally and irrevocably complete. Such a condition could be a “Black Hole,” for at the time of the end “these shall go away into everlasting punishment but the righteous into life eternal” (Matthew 25:46).
The Contrast of Light and Darkness
The Lord Jesus makes a clear contrast in His teaching between light and darkness. He says,
I am the Light of the world: he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life.
John says of Him,
In Him was life and the life was the light of men and the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
We must look more carefully into the meaning of the Greek word katalambano [καταλαμβάνω], here translated as comprehend. There is an intensity of action in the original word, which is lost to us by translating it into the milder word “comprehend.” To comprehend gives us the sense of “to understand,” as if the Holy Spirit is saying, through John, that darkness does not understand light. It means very much more. The true meaning of katalambano is to seize or to grasp thoroughly. So what the Spirit is here indicating is not a negative failure on the part of darkness to understand light; rather, He indicates a positive, yet frustrated, attempt by darkness to lay hold of light, and to absorb into its system He Who is the Light and the sole Author of it. It is another biblical denial of the doctrine of Dualism. The doctrine of Dualism has by satanic cunning, and because of Satan’s ambitious pride, influenced many religions and has also infiltrated orthodox Christianity. We deny the doctrine of Dualism. It teaches that an eternal combat is waged between the powers of light and the powers of darkness, as between equal forces; and that sometimes the one and sometimes the other is in the ascendancy. The truth is that there is One God, the supreme and only universal Lord; He is sovereign and supreme, before Whom all existing beings—whether in submission, as the heavenly host, or in opposition, as are the rebellious satanic forces and fallen man—are of themselves as NOTHING.
This same word katalambano is used with this precise meaning in the following quotations from Scripture:
…walk while ye have the light lest darkness come upon [katalambano or seize upon] you.
But ye brethren are not in darkness that that day should overtake you [katalambano or seize you] as a thief.
1 Thessalonians 5:4
It is possible for created light to be subjected to the powerful influence of darkness. But it is completely impossible for the Christ, the Anointed of the Father, the Light, self-existent and uncreated, to be turned by any force or power, in the smallest degree, from the determined procession of His way; because He is the Way.
The Lord Jesus came to deliver mankind from walking in the darkness that leads to death. So if the suggestion that the “lake of fire” of Revelation 20 is a “Black Hole” is correct, then there is a further significance, because it is called “the second death,” which would mean a final judgment of utterly irrevocable and total darkness. This makes the child of God both fear and rejoice. We fear with holy reverent awe our Heavenly Father, the Most High, reigning in eternal, sovereign supremacy, but at the same time we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory because we who “were sometimes darkness are now light in the Lord” (Ephesians 5:8). “We are not of the night, nor of darkness;” we are “the children of light” (1 Thessalonians 5:5), for we have been “delivered from the power of darkness” and have been “translated…into the kingdom of His dear Son” (Colossians 1:13). And as a completely undeserved, but crowning honor, our Light, the beloved Lord Jesus Christ tells us:
You are the light of the world… let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
[Special thanks to
our old friend Lawrence R. (“Larry”) Carlson, a retired Boeing engineer,
for sharing the carefully-prepared text file he created
from Percy Gutteridge’s original booklet
The Black Hole.]