II Thessalonians 1: Punished with Everlasting Destruction from the Presence of the Lord

This letter comes pretty quickly on the heels of the first letter to the Thessalonians, and is attributed to Paul, Silas and Timothy as writers, although one gets the sense while reading that Paul was the primary author.

The Thessalonians are praised for their strength in the faith. They are recognized as their faith in God grows, their love towards one another grows and they are an example because they willingly suffer for the sake of their belief in God. They were experiencing persecution for their faith and they were bearing the tribulation properly, not seeking revenge but giving place to God for vengeance. In verse 5, their suffering was “manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God.”

This righteous judgement is defined: “…God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels,” II Thessalonians 1:6-7

The topic of judgment then shifts from those who are “troubling” the Thessalonians to all unbelievers: “These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed.” II Thessalonians 1:9-10

What is the primary purpose of this judgement? To reward the faithful and punish the unbelievers. The “troubled” here are the persecuted believers: “and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed.” II Thessalonians 1:7-10

Ingredients essential to our salvation are present here: Christ glorified in us in accordance with the grace of God and Jesus Christ.

Although there are no explicit sins mentioned or specific citations of violence, the coming instance of judgement is frightful and clear to the unbeliever. And, although the description of judgement is hopeful and encouraging to believers, it is also alarming when we read of God punishing with everlasting destruction. When read with an honest heart, the description of binding and eternal judgment instills godly fear in the staunchest of believers.

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