In his second epistle to the Thessalonians, Paul emphasis the importance of understanding the events surrounding the Second coming of Christ. He spoke of this in his first epistle as well, but there he did not mention an important event which would also take place, the revelation of the “son of perdition” before the advent of Christ. One thing he did feel the need to repeat, however, was the fact that the wicked are sure to be destroyed by his appearing. We quote from his first epistle:
1 Thessalonians 5:2-3
(2) For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.
(3) For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.
The word “sudden” holds the meaning of something unexpected, non apparent, and suddenly. The word “destruction,” the same word used in 2 Thessalonians 1:9, literally means:
From λλυμι ollumi a primary word (to destroy; a prolonged form); ruin, that is, death, punishment: - destruction.
This greek word is in the “prolonged form” and therefore implies that the destruction is eternal. This is proven further by the word preceding it in the second epistle, the word “everlasting:”
2 Thessalonians 1:9
(9) Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power
This word, being the Greek word aionios, literally means “perpetual.”
We focus for a moment on this word “destruction.” In its definition, Strong’s tells us that it holds the meaning of death and punishment. Note carefully that the word is punish-ment, and not punish-ing. The same can be said of the English word it is translated into. It is destructtion, and not destroy-ing. Basic grammar tells us that the suffix ing converts a word into a continuous act. In this case a suffix is missing, rendering the meaning as simply punish-ment, a one time act. However, the ing is present in the preceding word, and although we don’t necessarily find the ing in the greek definition, such is nevertheless implied:
From G165; perpetual (also used of past time, or past and future as well): - eternal, for ever, everlasting, world (began).
The result is evident, that what is eternal, or “everlast-ing” is the “punish-ment” and not the “punish-ing.” On the contrary, our opponents want this verse to say the opposite, regardless of the laws of grammer.
If there is any doubt as to the conclusion arrived at with the word “punishment,” we need only consider Strong’s added explanation, the word death. The doctrine of “eternal torment” as sustained by misunderstood verses like 2 Thessalonians 1:9, teaches that the wicked don’t actually die, but live, only in eternal flames of torment. However as shown above, what is eternal is the result of the destruction… death. This has always been taught by bible prophets. Consider the prophet Ezekiel:
(4) Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.
(20) The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.
If the word of God were trying to teach us that the wicked will live forever, it wouldn’t use such language as die, death and punishment. It especially wouldn’t use such language in the context of eternity, as is the case in 2 Thessalonians 1:9. By “punishment” the author had in mind the complete “death” of the wicked, which as he says will be everlasting. An even closer examination of verse 9 will enforce this even more. Note the portions in bold:
2 Thessalonians 1:9
(9) Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.
Not only will the wicked be completely destroyed, they will be completely destroyed from (or off, away as the greek word here implies) the presence and glory of the Lord. The bible declares that no one can hide from the presence of the Lord, and that nothing can be hide from him (Psalm 139:8-12); therefore it must be as the word punish-ment implies, that they will be completely annihilated.
Continuing down the context of Paul’s second epistle, we come across another interesting word. Note verse 10 in the second chapter:
2 Thessalonians 2:10
(10) And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
After telling us of the “son of perdition,” and how he, the lawless one, or “that Wicked” will be both “consumed” and “destroyed” by the brightness of the coming of Christ, he speaks of those who “loved not the truth” as ones who will “perish.” Strong’s gives us an interesting explanation of this word:
From G575 and the base of G3639; to destroy fully (reflexively to perish, or lose), literally or figuratively: - destroy, die, lose, mar, perish.
This word doesn’t simply mean to destroy, but to destroy fully. As used in this context, we gather the wicked as having to go through an eternal, or everlasting punish-ment, which will consume and destroy the wicked fully. Again we reason that such language would not be used for the wicked, if they were to be destroyed merely half way or not at all.
The obvious conclusion from the evidence presented is that what is in fact eternal is the punish-ment, that is, the result, not the actual punish-ing. To say otherwise would mean to try and change humanities current understanding of basic grammer and common logic.
For further sudy, see:
-Ezekiel 28: The King of Tyrus? Or Satan?
-The Achilles Heel of the Eternal Torment Doctrine
-Revelation 14:11: Eternal Torment?