“They will suffer the just penalty of eternal destruction, far away from the face of the Lord and the glory of his might.” 2 Thessalonians 1:9 CJB
One aspect of Bible interpretation that never ceases to be amazing is how some can read a passage like the one above and through their own worldview and bias interpret the text to say the exact opposite of what it is actually stating very clearly. The idea that someone can read this verse and come away with any other conclusion than the judgment of our God being anything but eternal is amazing. If the verse is broken down into its original language and other verse with a similar theme are used, then the thought of eternal destruction actually being eternal comes through emphatically.
The word “eternal,” sometimes translated “everlasting,” is the Greek word αἰώνιος. Aἰώνιος is used in other passages such as Matthew 18:8 which says, “So if your hand or foot becomes a snare for you, cut it off and throw it away! Better that you should be maimed or crippled and obtain eternal life than keep both hands or both feet and be thrown into everlasting fire!” The word is used again in a similar verse but brings about another aspect of its use in Matthew 19:16; “A man approached Yeshua and said, ‘Rabbi, what good thing should I do in order to have eternal life?’” In both aspects of the uses of this word, the term for eternal is the same whether it is speaking of eternal life or eternal death.
ὄλεθρος is the Greek word used in 2 Thessalonians 1:9 that is translate “destruction,” or “ruin.” What is interestin about ὄλεθρος is that is a term that is only found in the letters of Paul. In various other epistles, Paul uses it as both a word that means physical destruction and in the case of 2 Thessalonians, a word that means eternal or spiritual destruction. In his first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul uses the term in 1 Thessalonians 5:3, “When people are saying, “Everything is so peaceful and secure,” then destruction will suddenly come upon them, the way labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and there is no way they will escape.” So in the epistles to the Thessalonians, it would appear that Paul is using the term to describe two different aspects of the destruction coming to unbelievers.
“I am establishing my covenant between me and you, along with your descendants after you, generation after generation, as an everlasting covenant, to be God for you and for your descendants after you.” Genesis 17:7 CJB
The Hebrew word used here as everlasting is the word עֹולָם. In the passage above, the word is used in conjunction with the Abrahamic covenant and shows that when God deals with mankind, there is an eternality that inherently comes with it. To deal with an eternal God, the aspects of his personality and His Word are eternal. The danger in questioning eternality when it comes to any part of God or His dealing with mankind is that if one is not careful, he can in face degrade the character and nature of God.
“They will go off to eternal punishment, but those who have done what God wants will go to eternal life.” Matthew 25:46
The word “eternal,” the Greek word αἰώνιος, is used for both aspects of the life after physical death. For a Bible interpreter to imply that the eternal punishment given to unbelievers is not permanent degrades the entire concept of eternality. For them to imply that eternal does not mean eternal degrades their own reward of eternal life If the destruction of the wicked is not an eternal destruction, then the reward given to the righteous is not an eternal reward. Both will end at some point and then justice is degraded. “……. for I have spoken, I have decided, I will not change my mind, I will not turn back.” Jeremiah 4:28 CJB
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