Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States
   A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

In Hermas' third vision he says, "But I, shameless as I yet was, asked her, 'Is repentance possible for all those stones which have been cast away and did not fit into the building of the tower, and will they yet have a place in this tower?' 'Repentance,' said she, "is yet possible, but in this tower they cannot find a suitable place. But in another and much inferior place they will be laid, and that, too, only when they have been tortured and completed the days of their sins. And on this account will they be transferred, because they have partaken of the righteous Word. And then only will they be removed from their punishments when the thought of repenting of the evil deeds which they have done has come into their hearts. But if it does not come into their hearts, they will not be saved, on account of the hardness of their heart." What does she mean by "in another place"? How will they be saved with repentance after death?

To answer the question, two points should be clarified first:
  1. The tower here refers to the church on the earth and each stone in this tower is a symbol for each one of the true believers of Christ. Each believer here on the earth has his own talents that God gave him and with all other believers one homogenous perfect tower is built and this tower appears as it is built of one stone only. "...built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner [stone]; In whom all the building fitly framed together growth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are built together for an habitation of God through the Spirit" (Ephesians 2:21).

  2. At Hermas' time, there were some teachers in the church who taught that if a baptized person had sinned, there was no repentance for him after baptism; consequently no place in heaven, and hence excommunication from the church. But, according to the Orthodox faith taught by Christ Himself and His righteous Apostles, the door of repentance will remain open till the last moment in a person's life. This is clear in the example of the thief on the right side of the cross, whose repentance the Lord had accepted at the last moment of his life. So Hermes here in his vision, tried to alert those non-orthodox teachers of their wrong teachings clarifying and supporting the orthodox teaching regarding repentance after baptism.

  3. Based upon the points mentioned before, it is clear now what this vision means:

    1. Death by water means baptism, without which no body can go to heavens (John 3:5, Rom 6:4 and verse 75, 76 of Hermas' vision "75. And what are the rest which fell by the water, and could not roll into the water? 76. They are such as have heard the word and were willing to be baptized in the name of the Lord, but considering the great holiness which the truth requires, have withdrawn themselves and walked again after their wicked lusts").

    2. Getting saved after death. Death here refers to death with Christ in Baptism. This means repenting for sins and lusts committed after having died with Christ in baptism; and living a holy life.

    3. By our true repentance and our good deeds The Lord will return us back to his tower (the church) to be only one complete perfect tower that appears as if made of one single stone.

  4. Hermesís mission was to correct the non-orthodox faith of his time which stated that repentance was impossible after baptism (death with Christ). Through his vision, he taught that the door of repentance will still be open before everyone after baptism (death with Christ) till the last moment of oneís life; by the mercy and love of God. For His Holy Name be all the praise and glory. Amen.
Home | Ask A Question | Search Q&A