7. Awesome Judgment at Christ's Coming (2 Thessalonians 1:1-12)

by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
Audio (35:24)

Not long after writing 1 Thessalonians, Paul and his missionary band, which included Silas and Timothy, wrote a second letter from Corinth. It is a stronger letter, no doubt prompted by some report of renewed problems in the church. The letter centers  around two problems that were present when 1 Thessalonians was written but haven't been corrected: a misunderstanding about Christ's return and a continued problem with idle believers who persist in being dependent upon the church, rather than finding gainful employment. Near the beginning of this second letter, Paul also encourages the Thessalonians to stand fast in spite of the persecution they are experiencing, and explains the severe judgment that their persecutors face.

Salutation (1:1-2)

The letter's salutation is similar to that found in the first letter.

"1 Paul, Silas and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: 2 Grace and peace to you from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." (1:1-2)

Though the letter is penned in the name of Paul, Silas, and Timothy, it's quite likely that Paul was the chief author.

Growing in Faith, Love, and Perseverance (1:3-5)

Paul begins with the traditional introductory thanksgiving or blessing that appears in correspondence of that time.

"3 We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly[224] so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing. 4 Therefore, among God's churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring. 5 All this is evidence that God's judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering." (1:3-5)

  Paul doesn't begin with chiding, but with praise. He thanks God for two things:

  1. Growing[225] faith.
  2. Increasing[226] love for one another.

This would be expected in a healthy church, but it is remarkable in light of their circumstances. This young church is undergoing significant persecution and trials -- and in spite of that they are growing in Christian character. Praise the Lord! Paul uses three words to describe the stresses that they are facing:

1. Persecution (1:4). The word is diōgmos, "a program or process designed to harass and oppress someone, persecution."[227] Christians face occasional slights or put-downs from the non-believers. This is uncomfortable -- and sometimes is enough to silence us (to our shame). But this is hardly persecution. What the Thessalonians were facing was an organized program to make their life miserable. It was apparently begun by the Jewish community in Thessalonica, and then continued by the secular authorities.

Sometimes, persecution can decimate a congregation or Christian movement in a region. However, persecution can have some positive effects as well. In Thessalonica, no doubt, it spared the church from hangers-on who weren't really believers, since being a Christian was costly. Church Father Tertullian observed in 197 AD, "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church."[228] Rather than destroying the church, persecution -- even severe persecution -- ultimately purifies the church and can ultimately cause it to grow. Persecution is a stressor that can strengthen your spiritual life if you let it.

2. Trials or tribulations (1:4). "Trials" (NIV), "afflictions" (NRSV), "tribulations" (KJV) translate the noun thlipsis, literally, "pressing, pressure." Here it is used in a metaphorical sense, "trouble that inflicts distress, oppression, affliction, tribulation."[229] The word is used to describe the "great tribulation" at the end of the age (Matthew 24:21; Revelation 7:14), but can also refer to problems of any sort. It can describe all kinds of difficulties that face us in life -- family problems, financial pressures, job concerns, health problems, etc.

When a young tree is planted in its final location, it is often supported by a couple of wood stakes to keep the tree from blowing over during a windstorm. But if improperly applied, these stakes can harm the long-term health of the tree. The tie fastening the tree to the stakes can be so tight that the tree doesn't move in the wind. If the new tree doesn't move, it doesn't develop the strong fibers that it will need as it matures. The tie to the support needs to be loose enough that the trunk has room to move back and forth in the wind. Trees -- and humans -- can grow strong through stress. If you've ever seen a tree in a high-wind, you may marvel at the strength of the trunk that has grown strong in spite of -- indeed, because of -- its harsh environment.

It is no accident that after his baptism, the Father purposely led Jesus into a situation of intense stress:

"At once the Spirit sent him out into the desert, and he was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him." (Mark 1:12-13)

At no time did Jesus cease being the eternal Son of God. But when he became human, he had emptied himself of some of his divine prerogatives (Philippians 2:7). He was pure, he was holy, but he was untested. In order to destroy the works of the devil in his ministry (1 John 3:8), Jesus needed to meet Satan and overcome him at the beginning of his ministry. Rather than being drained by the encounter, Jesus emerged from the desert strengthened "in the power of the Spirit" (Luke 4:14).

3. Suffering (1:5b). Next, Paul speaks of "the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering."[230] The verb paschō is used of Jesus' suffering at the hands of his tormentors and on the cross, where it means "to suffer death" itself. The related noun is pathos, from which we get our English word "pathos," "evoking pity or compassion," and prefix patho-, which combined with other words, denotes disease and suffering, such as "pathology," "pathogen," etc.

The trials and struggles we experience are by no means trivial. They entail real suffering. But the Thessalonians had experienced what many Christians have discovered over the ages, that we grow more when our faith is tested than when all is going well. In fact, trials of our faith are an intentional part of God's growth plan for his children.

The Wonderful Fruits of Testing (1:3-5)

If the experience of suffering trials and persecutions is intense, the fruit thereof is sweet.

"3b Your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing. 4 Therefore, among God's churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring. All this is evidence that God's judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering." (1:3-5)

Paul points out four important results of our struggles:

  1. Growing faith. When we see God faithful to answer our fervent prayers in the midst of our trials, our faith blossoms. If God can help us in this situation, we reason, he can help us in any situation. "If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31). Strong faith comes from experiencing God's faithfulness in the crucible of life.
  2. Increasing love. People who go through difficulties together find that the bonds that unite them become stronger and stronger. The Thessalonians are loving each other more and more because of their common persecutions and tribulations.
  3. Perseverance. "Perseverance" (NIV), "steadfastness" (NRSV), "patience" (KJV) is hypomonē, "the capacity to hold out or bear up in the face of difficulty, patience, endurance, fortitude, steadfastness, perseverance."[231] When Christians come out on the other side of troubles, having endured the worst Satan could throw at them, they are stronger. They know they can outlast troubles in the future without giving in. Jesus is stronger than our trials.
  4. Counted worthy.[232] Of course, in the ultimate sense, we deserve nothing. We are products of God's grace, pure and simple. But in the sense Paul mentions here, the Thessalonians' emergence from trials and persecutions with stronger faith, love, and perseverance is a sign that they have stood the test and are worthy of the kingdom to which they have been called. Were they perfect? No. But, over all, the fruit of the Spirit could be seen in their lives.

Q1. (2 Thessalonians 1:3-5) In what ways do persecution, pressure, and stress help us grow strong in Christ? What would we be like without the testing of our faith?
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Counted Worthy of the Kingdom (1:5)

Paul's main theme for this letter is eschatology, the Coming of Christ -- and the Antichrist -- in the last days. The next section is about God's just judgment when Christ returns and serves as a transition to Paul's main theme.

"5 All this is evidence that God's judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering." (1:5)

Verse 5 is difficult. Something is evidence or a "plain indication"[233] that God's judgment is right, but what is it?

On the surface, at least, it's hard to see how persecution and affliction would be evidence of God's righteous judgment.[234] As a result, most commentators see the evidence as the believers' endurance and faith in the face of persecution as the sign, and point to a similar usage in Philippians 1:28.

"... I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign[235] to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved -- and that by God." (Philippians 1:27-28)

Doubtless, the Thessalonian believers could not have exhibited such a remarkable attitude of endurance and faith unless God had worked it in them.

Now Paul lays out several important principles about judgment:

God is Just (1:6a)

Paul begins to describe the nature of God's justice.

"6 God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you 7 and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well." (1:6-7a)

First, Paul explains that God is "just" (NIV, NRSV), that his judgment is a "righteous thing" (KJV). The adjective is dikaios. The neuter here denotes that which is "obligatory in view of certain requirements of justice, right, fair, equitable."[236] God gave the Mosaic law that laid down righteous principles by which God's people were to live. God defines what righteousness is. This theme is seen often in the Old Testament.

"Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?" (Genesis 18:25)

"He is the Rock, his works are perfect,
and all his ways are just.
A faithful God who does no wrong,
upright and just is he." (Deuteronomy 32:4)

"The LORD is righteous, he loves justice;
upright men will see his face." (Psalm 11:7)

"The LORD ... comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
and the peoples with equity." (Psalm 98:9)

God Exacts Just Retribution (1:6b-7a)

"6 God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you 7 and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well." (1:6-7a)

In our culture, some believe that the highest goal of prisons is rehabilitation, not retribution, that somehow retribution is an inferior motive. But here the purpose of God's justice on the Day of the Lord is retribution. In 1:6b we find a word variously translated, "pay back" (NIV), "repay" (NRSV), "recompense" (KJV). The word is antapodidōmi, "to exact retribution, repay, pay back."[237]

God pays back trouble (thlipsis) to those who trouble or afflict (thlibō) you. He pays back in kind. This is the ancient principle of proportional retribution. Indeed, the idea of just consequences or recompense for actions is at the basis of rudimentary parental discipline as well as civil law. Our English word "vengeance" means, "punishment inflicted in retaliation for an injury or offense, retribution."[238] Only the idea of "with a vengeance" suggests excessive retribution. "Revenge" refers to a personal rather than judicial response, "to avenge (as oneself) usually by retaliating in kind or degree."

Because of the fallen nature of mankind, the Mosaic Covenant limits the amount of personal retribution that can be exacted by an individual -- no more than the injury.

"If there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise." (Exodus 21:23-25)

 When Jesus came, he revealed that the basic concept of the Torah is love -- love for God and love for your neighbor. Sometimes, people contend that love makes justice obsolete. Jesus doesn't teach this. Jesus speaks of just judgment. Indeed, judgment is a major theme in Jesus' ministry; the words "judge" and "judgment" appear 55 times in the Gospels.

We Are to Leave Vengeance to God

Though God brings righteous vengeance against the wicked -- and governmental authorities are charged with executing just punishment on earth (Romans 13:4) -- we Christians are to refrain from vengeance in our own personal lives, as we saw in 1 Thessalonians 1:15 (Lesson 6; also Romans 12:17-19). Vengeance is reserved to God.

God is able to balance love and justice, though we find it very difficult in practice. Notice how God combines mercy and justice in these verses:

"The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation." (Exodus 34:6-7)

"Love and faithfulness meet together;
righteousness and peace kiss each other." (Psalm 85:10)

"Mercy triumphs over judgment!" (James 2:13b)

Q2. (2 Thessalonians 1:6-7) Would God be just if he did not punish sin? What is the difference between rehabilitation and retribution? When does a Christian's rehabilitation take place? When does a sinner's retribution take place? How do you balance love and justice?
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When Christ Returns He Will Bring Terrible Judgment (1:7b-10)

We can trust the God of love to judge justly, even though that's difficult for us. When Christ returns, those who have resisted and rebelled against him will receive terrible judgment!

"7b This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed
 from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels." (1:7b)

When Christ is finally revealed in his Second Coming, all secrets will be revealed too.[239] He comes with "blazing fire,"[240] which jives with other verses about the Lord's coming (Isaiah 66:15-16; 2 Peter 3:10). Fire and judgment are often joined in the Bible.

The terrible judgment of God is given on the Day of the Lord.

"8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power 10 on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you." (1:8-10)

Let's look at the passage piece by piece to see exactly what it says. The text itself is not difficult. But two theological issues it raises are -- the existence of hell and the question of "what about the heathen?" -- which we examine briefly in Appendix 1 and Appendix 2.

Punishment upon Those Who Reject and Disobey (1:8)

First, though, let's look at the text.

"He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus." (1:8)

The objects of punishment are people who do not know God and/or do not obey the gospel. We can understand why people should be punished for not obeying[241] God when they know better. But what about those who have never heard? Can people be blamed for not "knowing"[242] God, if they've never heard? This is a difficult question. I explore that a bit in Appendix 1, "Can Heathen Who Have Never Heard the Gospel Be Saved?" In brief, Paul is not talking here about earnest seekers among the heathen, but judgment upon those who rebel against the light they have received and act contrary to the sense of right and wrong God has put within their consciences.

Everlasting, Conscious Punishment (1:9)

The noun "punish"[243] in verse 8 and the noun "punishment"[244] in verse 9 both involve the idea of retribution, paying back to people what they deserve. We talked about this already in 1:6 above.

Wayne Grudem defines "hell" as "a place of eternal conscious[245] punishment for the wicked."[246] That definition seems to be well supported by our passage. Let's look at the elements of this punishment in verse 9.

"They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power." (1:9)

1. Everlasting.[247]  Punishment is unending, it lasts forever. In the same way that eternal life is forever, so is everlasting punishment. Some people object that this isn't fair, it is disproportionate, that sin committed in time doesn't merit punishment for a thousand lifetimes, eternal punishment. But to rebel against the infinite God is an infinite crime. To reject his love in sending his own Son who died for our sins is to turn down your only chance at forgiveness. If you expect to confront the Judge of All the Earth with being unfair in his punishment, good luck.

 2. Destruction. "Destruction" is olethros, "a state of destruction, ruin, death."[248] It can infer annihilation, but does not have to. Rather it refers to the harmful and destructive effects of final judgment on unbelievers. Some people (including Jehovah's Witness and Seventh Day Adventists) can't see how God's love is compatible with conscious eternal punishment. So they conclude that the "destruction" must mean annihilation, that is, punishment for a time ending in complete termination of existence.[249] That sounds good, perhaps, but annihilation doesn't fit with what the Bible actually teaches -- a state of complete ruin that lasts forever. Consider these passages:

Daniel's prophecy: "At that time your people -- everyone whose name is found written in the book -- will be delivered. Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever." (Daniel 12:2-3)

John the Baptist: "His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire." (Matthew 3:12; Luke 3:17)

Jesus: "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell." (Matthew 10:28)

Jesus: "It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire." (Matthew 18:8)

Jesus: "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.'" (Matthew 25:41)

Jesus: "Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life." (Matthew 25:46)

Writer of Hebrews: "The elementary teachings (of) ... eternal judgment." (Hebrews 6:2)

Jude: The punishment of Sodom and Gomorrah serves as "an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire." (Jude 7)

Revelation: "If anyone worships the beast and his image ... he will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night...." (Revelation 14:9-11)

Revelation: "He has condemned the great prostitute who corrupted the earth by her adulteries.... The smoke from her goes up for ever and ever." (Revelation 19:1, 3)

Revelation: And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.... If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire." (Revelation 20:10, 15)

In light of these passages, it's very difficult for me to believe in annihilation rather than everlasting punishment. You don't have to like it. You don't have to take pleasure it in -- God doesn't (Ezekiel 33:11). But it's pretty clear that the Bible teaches everlasting conscious punishment.

3. Shut out forever from Christ's presence.

"They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from[250] the presence[251] of the Lord and from the majesty of his power." (1:9)

  Those who don't know Jesus personally have little understanding of what a blessing his presence is. They see Christianity as a religion in which you relate to God through various rituals. So the idea of "the presence of the Lord" has little meaning. Secular people see heaven (if they believe in it) as a place of rest and goodness and reunion with friends. But the essence of heaven from a Biblical point of view is being with Jesus. Paul would "prefer to be away from the body and at home[252] (KJV "present") with the Lord" (2 Corinthians 5:8). He says, "I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far" (Philippians 1:23b). For the Christian, the ultimate that we look forward to is expressed in, "they shall see his face" (Revelation 22:4). Now imagine being deprived forever of being with Christ -- much less being deprived of all your believing relatives who are with Christ.

Recently I conducted a funeral for an aged member of our church who had moved into a distant convalescent hospital a few years before. Her wayward son told me that his mother had said, "If you aren't in heaven, I don't want to be there. I want to be where you are." Now, I can understand a mother's intense love for her son. But it's tragic that she loves her children more than she loves Jesus Christ, for Jesus himself said,

"Anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me." (Matthew 10:37)

Who is your first love? Is Jesus the center of your hope for heaven?

4. Shut out from Christ's glory.

"They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power." (1:9)

"Majesty" (NIV), "glory" (NRSV, KJV) is doxa, "the condition of being bright or shining, brightness, splendor, radiance (a distinctive aspect of Hebrew kabod)."[253] That may not mean much to you until you read the prophecies in Isaiah and Revelation:

"Go into the rocks,
hide in the ground from dread of the LORD
and the splendor[254] of his majesty!" (Isaiah 2:10, 19, 21). 

"Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, 'Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?'" (Revelation 6:15-17)

When Christ comes, he will come with a light and glory of such intensity than sinners cannot look upon him or stand before him. It will be like trying to look directly into a huge, blinding arc-light.

"The Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done." (Matthew 16:27)

"Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see 'the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven' with power and great glory." (Matthew 24:30)

When the Father sits on his judgment throne, everyone will flee from his presence because of his awesome glory.

"Then I saw a great white throne and the one who sat on it; the earth and the heaven fled from his presence, and no place was found for them." (Revelation 20:11)

Verse 9 in our passage is truly an awesome and frightening verse. If it is true, then we would be fools not to flee to the mercy found in Jesus. If you believe it is false, then you'll keep on living like you want. The most famous verse in the Bible introduces this awesome truth, but in a positive way.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish[255] but have eternal life." (John 3:16)

Q3. (2 Thessalonians 1:9) According to verse 9, what kind of punishment will unbelievers experience? One definition of "hell" is "a place of eternal conscious punishment for the wicked." What parts of this definition are confirmed in verse 9. Which parts of the definition trouble you? Why?
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Q4. (2 Thessalonians 1:9) How might you describe Christ's glory? How will his glory be terrifying to unbelievers? If heaven involves sharing this glory forever, what would it be like to be excluded forever from the glory? In what ways is the phrase "outer darkness" a helpful description of hell?
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Christ Is to Be Glorified (1:10)

The final part of this passage tells when this judgment will take place:

"... On the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you." (1:10)

There will come a time when Christ will be glorified[256] in the midst[257] of his saints, his holy people. A time when we will look at him with amazement and wonder.[258] The Apostle John looks forward to this day:

"Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is." (1 John 3:2)

What a Day that will be!

Raising the Hard Questions

Now we need to examine a couple of theological questions that are difficult to answer. These are questions that our non-Christian friends raise before us as their excuses not to believe. These are not questions of "What does the Bible teach?" They are rather questions of, "I don't like what the Bible teaches, so how can it be true logically?" These are the types of questions answered by Christian apologetics. To treat these in greater detail, I've include an outline of the issue in two appendices:

I encourage you to read both of these appendices.

Fulfilling Every Good Purpose (1:11-12)

Paul concludes this section on God's severe judgment on the Thessalonians' persecutors, with a softer tone toward the Thessalonians themselves.

"11 With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill[259] every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith. 12 We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ." (1:11-12)

It is a three-fold prayer, that God will

  1. Count you worthy of his calling (see on 1:5),
  2. Fulfill your good intentions and faith-filled actions, and
  3. Glorify Christ in you.

All of this is predicated on the "grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ" (1:12b). As we've seen, mankind's only hope is God's grace, his unmerited favor towards us. How can we understand love that gives, and gives, and gives again at the greatest cost, that we might find salvation and eternal life? Though we can't fully understand such love, we rejoice in it and celebrate our great Savior!

Prayer

Father, such terrible judgment frightens us and is abhorrent to us. It's hard for us to understand. But then, such gracious love is hard for us to understand as well. Thank you for your redemption. Help us to be faithful to proclaim your love in a dark world before it is too late for them. Help us, through the Holy Spirit, to save a brand from the burning,[260] to help "turn a sinner from the error of his way ... to save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins."[261] In Jesus' holy name, we pray. Amen.    

Key Verses

"God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power. (2 Thessalonians 1:6-9)

End Notes

[224] "Right/ly" (NIV, NRSV), "meet" (KJV) is axios, "befitting, congruous, corresponding," to a thing (BDAG 52, bα).

[225] "Growing more and more" (NIV), "growing abundantly" (NRSV), "groweth exceedingly" (KJV) is hyperauxanō, "grow wonderfully, increase abundantly" (BDAG 1032).

[226] "Increasing" (NIV, NRSV), "aboundeth" (KJV) is pleonazō, "to become more and more, so as to be in abundance, be/become more or be/become great, be present in abundance, grow, increase" (BDAG 824, 1).

[227] Diōgmos, BDAG 253.

[228] Tertullian, Apologeticus, 30.

[229] Thlipsis, BDAG 457, 1.

[230] "Suffering/suffer" is paschō, "experience something," but mostly in the New Testament in an unfavorable sense, "suffer, endure" (BDAG 785, 3aβ).

[231] Hypomonē, BDAG 1039, 1. At the end of verse 5, the verb  "enduring/endure," anechō, "to undergo something onerous or troublesome without giving in, endure" (BDAG 78, 2).

[232] "Counted worthy" (NIV, KJV), "make you worthy" (NRSV) is kataxioō, "to consider someone worthy to receive some privilege, benefit, or recognition; consider worthy" (BDAG 523). Similar in meaning to axioō in verse 11, "to consider suitable for requital or for receipt of something, consider worthy, deserving" (BDAG 94, 1).

[233] "Evidence" (NIV, NRSV), "manifest token" (KJV) is endeigma, "the proof of something, evidence, plain indication" (BDAG 332).

[234] Wanamaker (pp. 220-221), in a rather complex argument, cites Jouette M. Bassler ("The Enigmatic Sign: 2 Thessalonians 1:5,"Catholic Biblical Quarterly 46 (1984), pp. 501-506) to the effect that verse 5 represents an emerging theology of suffering. The believers assumed that the day of the Lord had already come (2:1-12), but their continued persecution didn't fit with this, causing questions about the justice of God. Wanamaker holds that the verse indicates that God's justice is shown in that persecution is making them worthy of the kingdom. The problem with this view is that kataxioō, means "to count worthy" or "to declare worthy," not "to make worthy" (Stott, Message, p. 146, citing Lightfoot, Notes on the Epistles of Paul (1895), p. 105 and Morris, Thessalonians, p. 116.

[235] Endeixis, "something that points to or serves as an indicator of something, sign, omen" (BDAG 332, 1).

[236] Dikaios, BDAG 242, 2.

[237] Antapodidōmi, BDAG 87, 2. This is a compound verb formed from anti- "for something received, in return" +apodidōmi, "to deliver," specifically, "to requite, recompense." In English, "recompense" means "to give something to by way of compensation (as for a service rendered or damage incurred), to return in kind." Retribution" is" recompense, reward."

[238] Merriam-Webster's 11th Collegiate Dictionary.

[239] The verb "revealed" is literally, "in the revelation." It uses a preposition "in" plus the noun apokalypsis. The basic idea is "uncovering," here used figuratively, "making fully known, revelation, disclosure" (BDAG 112, 1c). It refers to the coming of Jesus at the parousia, when all secrets are revealed.

[240] "Blazing fire" (NIV), "flaming fire" (NRSV, KJV) is two nouns --pyr, "fire" (from which we get our word "pyre) and phlox, "flame."

[241] Obey" is hypakouō, "to follow instructions, obey, follow, be subject to," (BDAG 1029, 1). from Homer down; "to listen, hearken," here, ""to hearken to a command," i.e. "to obey, be obedient unto, submit to," (so in Greek writings from Herodotus down) (Thayer 638, 2).

[242] "Know" is oida. Here it is more than, "have information about." It has the sense, "be intimately acquainted with or stand in a close relation to, know." To know God, that is, not only to know theoretically of God's existence, but to have a positive relationship with God, or not to know God, that is, wanting to know nothing about God (BDAG 693, 2). He probably has the Gentiles in mind (1 Thessalonians 4:5; Galatians 4:8-9; Romans 1:28; Ephesians 2:12; 1 Corinthians 1:21; 1 John 4:7-8; John 8:19, 55;  15:21; 16:3; 17:3 ).

[243] "Punish" (NIV), "inflicting vengeance" (NRSV), "taking vengeance" (KJV) is two words, didōmi, "give" andekdikēsis, "penalty inflicted on wrongdoers," absolutely, "punishment" (BDAG 302, 3). It is from the verb endikeō, "to inflict appropriate penalty for wrong done" (of special significance in an honor/shame-oriented society) "punish, take vengeance for something" (BDAG 300, 2).

[244] "Punish/punishment" is two words, the verb tinō, "pay" and the noun dikē, "punishment meted out as legal penalty, punishment, penalty." Together, the phrase means, "pay a penalty, suffer punishment, be punished of or with something" (BDAG 256, 1).

[245] The "conscious" part of the definition is amply supported by Luke 16:23-24 and Revelation 14:10-11.

[246] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Zondervan, 1994, 2000), pp. 1148-1153.

[247] "Everlasting" (NIV, KJV), "eternal" (NRSV) is the adjective aiōnios, here, "pertaining to a period of unending duration, without end" (BDAG 33, 3).

[248] Olethros, BDAG 702, 1.

[249] Most recently annihilationism has been argued by Rob Bell, Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived (HarperOne, 2011).

[250] "Shut out from" (NIV), "separated from" (NRSV), "from" (KJV) is the preposition apo, "to indicate distance from a point, away from" (BDAG 106, 4).

[251] "Presence" is prosōpon, literally, "face," herein the figurative sense of "personal presence or relational circumstance" (BDAG 887, 1bβ Aleph).

[252] Endēmeō, "to be in a familiar place, to be at home" (BDAG 332).

[253] Doxa, BDAG 257, 1 or 2. The lexicographer suggests that doxa here may mean, "a state of being magnificent, greatness, splendor."

[254] "Splendor" (NIV), "glory" (KJV) is hādār, "splendor, honor," which is used synonymously with kabod, "glory," in a number of places (TWOT #477b).

[255] "Perish" is apollymi, "perish, be ruined, die," especially of eternal death (Luke 19:10; John 10:28; 17:12; Romans 2:12; 1 Corinthians 1:18; 2 Corinthians 2:15; 4:3; 2 Thessalonians 2:10; etc.).

[256] "Glorified" is endoxazomai, "to be held in high esteem, be glorified, honored" (1:10, 12). Thayer: that his glory may be seen in the saints, that is, in the glory, blessedness, conferred on them" (Thayer, 214).

[257] The preposition is en, "in" which could be translated as "by" (NRSV), or "in, among" (NIV, KJV).

[258] "Marveled at" (NIV, NRSV), "admired" (KJV) is thaumazō, "to be extraordinarily impressed or disturbed by something," here translated "admire, wonder at, respect (persons)" (BDAG 445, 1bβ).

[259] "Fulfill" is plēroō, "to bring to completion that which was already begun, complete, finish" (BDAG 828, 3).

[260] Zechariah 3:2.

[261] James 5:20.


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