2 Thessalonians 1:9
Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;
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(9) Punished with everlasting destruction specifies the “vengeance” to be taken. But the word “destruction” does not stand absolutely and alone as a synonym for “annihilation.” This passage, in itself, gives us no reason to suppose that the lost will be “destroyed” in the ordinary sense of the word. They are to be destroyed from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power”—i.e., cut off from it for ever. The “presence”—or, more literally here, ”the face—of the Lord,” as well as “the glory of His power,” is a metaphor from the courts of Oriental kings, where only honoured courtiers are admitted to spend their time in the immediate and familiar presence of the sovereign. Familiar contact with Christ hereafter, which will be accorded to all the saved, was God’s ideal intention for the lost as well, therefore it is a positive “destruction” to be banished from it. But to the Jews, who looked for a Messiah who should keep regal state, the punishment was peculiarly appropriate. The word is used besides in 1Corinthians 5:5; 1Thessalonians 5:3; 1Timothy 6:9. As for the word rendered “everlasting” (or eternal, for it is the same which is used, e.g., Hebrews 6:2), it would certainly convey to St. Paul’s readers the notion of incessant duration in time; it is, of course, only an adaptation to human language to speak of time at all in such a case, as we cannot tell what may take the place of time in the next dispensation; however, so far as the actual words go, there is nothing in these passages (Matthew 18:8; Matthew 25:41; Matthew 25:46; Mark 3:29; Hebrews 6:2; Jude 1:7) to suggest any future alteration in the state of the lost. In this, as in some other doctrines, there seem to be two distinct sets of passages, the logical reconciliation of which in our present state seems almost impossible.

2 Thessalonians 1:9-10. Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction — Not the annihilation, but the perversion and utter ruin of all their powers of body and mind, so that those powers become instruments of torment and sources of misery to them in all possible ways. As there can be no end of their sins, (the same enmity against God continuing,) so neither of their punishment: sin and its punishment running parallel through eternity itself. They must of necessity therefore be cut off from all good, and all possibility of it. From the presence of the Lord — Wherein chiefly consists the salvation and felicity of the righteous. What unspeakable punishment is implied even in falling short of this, supposing that nothing more were implied in the punishment here spoken of! But this phrase, destruction from the presence, or face, of the Lord, as Bishop Hopkins justly observes, expresses not only that they shall be expelled from that joy and glory which reigns in the presence of God and of Christ, but that his presence shall appear active in the infliction of their punishment, so that they shall find his wrath issuing forth like lightning to appal and torment their spirits, while his power glorifies itself in their ruin and misery. When he shall come to be glorified in his saints — For his wonderful glory shall shine forth in them, and he will manifest the greatness of his power in rendering them glorious; and to be admired in all them that believe — With respect to the efforts of his almighty power and love for their complete salvation. Or, they shall be filled with wonder at what is done by Christ for and upon them, so far exceeding their most sanguine expectation. Because our testimony, &c. — As if he had said, I reckon you of this number because of the credit which you gave to our preaching.1:5-10 Religion, if worth anything, is worth every thing; and those have no religion, or none worth having, or know not how to value it, cannot find their hearts to suffer for it. We cannot by all our sufferings, any more than by our services, merit heaven; but by our patience under sufferings, we are prepared for the promised joy. Nothing more strongly marks a man for eternal ruin, than a spirit of persecution and enmity to the name and people of God. God will trouble those that trouble his people. And there is a rest for the people of God; a rest from sin and sorrow. The certainty of future recompence is proved by the righteousness of God. The thoughts of this should be terrible to wicked men, and support the righteous. Faith, looking to the great day, is enabled partly to understand the book of providence, which appears confused to unbelievers. The Lord Jesus will in that day appear from heaven. He will come in the glory and power of the upper world. His light will be piercing, and his power consuming, to all who in that day shall be found as chaff. This appearance will be terrible to those that know not God, especially to those who rebel against revelation, and obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is the great crime of multitudes, the gospel is revealed, and they will not believe it; or if they pretend to believe, they will not obey it. Believing the truths of the gospel, is in order to our obeying the precepts of the gospel. Though sinners may be long spared, they will be punished at last. They did sin's work, and must receive sin's wages. Here God punishes sinners by creatures as instruments; but then, it will be destruction from the Almighty; and who knows the power of his anger? It will be a joyful day to some, to the saints, to those who believe and obey the gospel. In that bright and blessed day, Christ Jesus will be glorified and admired by his saints. And Christ will be glorified and admired in them. His grace and power will be shown, when it shall appear what he has purchased for, and wrought in, and bestowed upon those who believe in him. Lord, if the glory put upon thy saints shall be thus admired, how much more shalt thou be admired, as the Bestower of that glory! The glory of thy justice in the damnation of the wicked will be admired, but not as the glory of thy mercy in the salvation of believers. How will this strike the adoring angels with holy admiration, and transport thy admiring saints with eternal rapture! The meanest believer shall enjoy more than the most enlarged heart can imagine while we are here; Christ will be admired in all those that believe, the meanest believer not excepted.Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction; - see the notes on Matthew 25:41, Matthew 25:46. The word which is here rendered "destruction" (ὄλεθρον olethron), is different from that which occurs in Matthew 25:46, and which is there rendered "punishment" - κόλασις kolasis. The word ὄλεθρον olethron - "olethron" - occurs only here and in 1 Corinthians 5:5; 1 Thessalonians 5:3; 1 Timothy 6:9; in each of which places it is rendered destruction. It does not denote annihilation, but is used in the same sense in which we use the word when we say that a thing is destroyed. Thus, health is destroyed when it fails; property is destroyed when it is burned or sunk in the ocean; a limb is destroyed that is lost in battle; life is destroyed when one dies. In the case before us, the destruction, whatever it be, is:

(1) to be continued forever; and,

(2) is to be of the nature of punishment.

The meaning then must be, that the soul is destroyed as to the great purposes of its being - its enjoyment, dignity, honor, holiness, happiness. It will not be annihilated, but will live and linger on in destruction. It seems difficult to conceive how anyone can profess to hold that this passage is a part of the Word of God, and yet deny the doctrine of future eternal punishment. It would not be possible to state that doctrine in clearer language than this. It is never is in clearer language in any creed or confession of faith, and if it is not true that the wicked will be punished forever, then it must be admitted that it would not have been possible to reveal the doctrine in human language!

From the presence of the Lord - That is, a part of their punishment will consist in being banished from the immediate presence of the Lord. There is a sense in which God is everywhere present, and in that sense he will be in the world where the wicked will dwell, to punish them. But the phrase is also used to denote his more immediate presence; the place where are the symbols of his majesty and glory; the home of the holy and the blessed. It is in that sense that the word is used here, and the idea is, that it will be one of the circumstances contributing to the deeper woe of the place of punishment, that those who dwell there will be banished from that holy abode, and will never be permitted to enter there.

And from the glory of his power - The meaning seems to be, that they will not be able to endure the manifestation of his power and majesty when he shall appear, but will be driven away by it into outer darkness; see 2 Thessalonians 2:8. The Saviour, in describing his second coming, uses this language: "They shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory;" Matthew 24:30. There will be a great exhibition of both. The power will be seen in the convulsions of nature which will precede or attend him; in the resurrection of the dead; and in the bringing of all to judgment: and the glory will be seen in his own person; the dignity and number of his attendants; and the honor that shall then be conferred on him as the final Judge of all mankind. By the manifestation of that power and glory the wicked will be driven away into eternal ruin. They will not be able to stand before it, and though, in common with the righteous, they may see the majesty of the Redeemer in the last day, yet they will be driven away to witness it no more.

9. Who—Greek, "persons who," &c.

destruction from the presence of the Lord—driven far from His presence [Alford]. The sentence emanating from Him in person, sitting as Judge [Bengel], and driving them far from Him (Mt 25:41; Re 6:16; 12:14; compare 1Pe 3:12; Isa 2:10, 19). "The presence of the Lord" is the source whence the sentence goes forth; "the glory of His power" is the instrument whereby the sentence is carried into execution [Edmunds]. But Alford better interprets the latter clause (see 2Th 1:10), driven "from the manifestation of His power in the glorification of His saints." Cast out from the presence of the Lord is the idea at the root of eternal death, the law of evil left to its unrestricted working, without one counteracting influence of the presence of God, who is the source of all light and holiness (Isa 66:24; Mr 9:44).

This is the vengeance before spoken of; it is here called

destruction, not an annihilation, and cessation of being, but of all well-being: and elsewhere called death, Romans 6:23, and the second death, Revelation 20:6, which imports also not all ceasing of life, but all comfort of life. And it is not the body alone, nor the soul alone, but their persons,

who, & c.; and as fire is a great destroyer, so Christ’s coming in flaming fire brings their destruction. And this destruction is

everlasting: the fire that destroys them is never quenched, Mark 9:43,44. As the fire of the altar, which was a fire of mercy, was not to go out, so the fire of Tophet burns for ever, Isaiah 30:33, which is the fire of justice; and God living for ever, and his justice never satisfied, their destruction is for ever. They sinned in their eternity, and will be punished in God’s eternity. There was a remedy provided in the gospel for men, but rejecting the gospel, and not obeying it, there remains no hope; their destruction is everlasting. And this destruction is called punishment, dikhn tisousin poenam luent; not the chastisement of a Father, as the temporal affliction of God’s people. It proceeds from vindictive justice; it is taking vengeance. And this punishment is twofold, punishment of loss and sense, and from both together proceed perfect destruction.

From the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; the preposition from in the first expression noting separation, in the second noting efficiency. Others conceive efficiency to be meant in both, their destruction proceeding from the face of Christ frowning on them, frowning them into hell, (which smiling upon others, will bring their salvation), as well as from his glorious power manifested against them to destroy them, Romans 9:22. And yet others interpret the preposition in both places to note separation, both from the face of Christ, which the saints shall behold and rejoice in for ever, and from his glorious power; which will work in some for their complete salvation in the day of his appearing, as it had done before in their first conversion, and sanctification. The destruction of the wicked will be from or by the power of Christ; but by this

glory of power may be meant only that power which will bring glory both to the bodies and souls of the saints, and this the wicked shall have no experience of in that day. Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction,.... With destruction both of soul and body, though not with the annihilation of either; their gnawing worm of conscience will never die, and the fire of divine wrath will never be quenched; the smoke of their torment will ascend for ever. Sin being committed against an infinite and eternal Being, will be infinite in its duration; nor will it cease to be in the persons punished, who will not be in the least reformed or purged from sin by punishment; which will make the continuance of it just and necessary. And these will be driven

from the presence of the Lord; as the former clause may express the punishment of sense the wicked will feel in their own breasts, this may intend the punishment of loss; or what they will be deprived of, the presence of the Lord, in which the happiness of angels, and of glorified saints lies; and may also signify how sudden and terrible their destruction will be. As soon as the Lord appears, they will perish at his presence like wax before the fire; and so awful will be his appearance, they will flee from it with the utmost terror, and call to the rocks and mountains to hide them from the face of the Lord, and to screen them from his wrath:

and from the glory of his power; or his glorious power, in which he shall come, and which will be exerted, and shown in raising the dead, and gathering all nations before him, in passing sentence on them, and in executing it. For he has power, as to save, so to destroy, as to glorify the bodies and souls of his saints, so to destroy the wicked, both body and soul, in hell; and the glory of his power will be seen in the one, as well as in the other. And now it will be, that tribulation will be rendered to the troublers of the Lord's people.

Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;
2 Thessalonians 1:9. Paul names eternal destruction as the punishment which those ungodly ones will have to endure.

οἵτινες] nimirum qui, refers back to the characteristics of the two classes named in 2 Thessalonians 1:8, and accordingly recapitulates the reason for δίκην τίσουσιν. See Hermann, ad Soph. Oed. R. 688.

ἀπὸ προσώπου τοῦ κυρίου κ.τ.λ.] has received a threefold interpretation. Chrysostom, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Erasmus, Vatablus, Estius, Fromond., and others interpret ἀπό of time: immediately after the appearance of the πρόσωπον τοῦ κυρίου and of the δόξα τῆς ἰσχύος αὐτοῦ. The swiftness and facility of the punishment are thereby described, inasmuch as it required Christ merely to become visible. The artificialness of this interpretation is evident. For however often ἀπό denotes the point of commencement of a period, yet the bare ἀπὸ προσώπου cannot possibly be considered as parallel with such constructions as ἀπὸ κτίσεως κόσμου, Romans 1:20; ἀπὸ τῆς πρώτης ἡμέρας, Php 1:5, and the like. At least ἀπʼ ἀποκαλύψεως τοῦ προσώπου or something similar would require to have been written. Add to this that ἀπὸ προσώπου κ.τ.λ., on account of its position at the end of the sentence, cannot have such an emphasis, that the idea of the swiftness and facility of the punishment can be derived from it. ἀπό is understood as a statement of the operating cause by Grotius, Harduin, Benson, Bengel, Moldenhauer, Flatt, Pelt, de Wette, Baumgarten-Crusius, Ewald, and Hofmann: “from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power” (comp. Acts 3:19). Pelt (and so also Castalio, Koppe, Bolten, and others) arbitrarily considers ἀπὸ προσώπου τοῦ κυρίου as equivalent to the simple ἀπὸ τοῦ κυρίου; and equally arbitrarily Harduin, Benson, and Moldenhauer (comp. also Hofmann) understand πρόσωπον of a wrathful or gloomy countenance. But there is an essential inconvenience to this second mode of interpretation, inasmuch as by its assumption without the introduction of a new idea there is only a repetition in other words of what has already been said in 2 Thessalonians 1:7-8 from ἐν τῇ ἀποκαλύψει to διδόντος ἐκδίκησιν; the whole of the 9th verse would only contain αἰώνιον as a new point. Accordingly the third mode of explanation, adopted by Piscator, Ernest Schmid, Beza, Calixt, Koppe, Krause, Schott, Bloomfield, Alford, Bisping, and Riggenbach, is decidedly to be preferred, according to which ἀπό expresses the idea of separation, of severance from something. Comp. 2 Thessalonians 2:2; Romans 9:3; 2 Corinthians 11:3; Galatians 5:4. According to Flatt and de Wette, the expression ἰσχύος is opposed to this explanation, which directly points to an operating cause. But τῆς ἰσχύος is to be rendered the genitive of origin, and the δόξα is to be understood, not of the glory of Christ, but of the glory which is to be imparted to believers. The meaning is: apart or separated from the face of the Lord, and apart from the glory which is a creation of His power. By this explanation πρόσωπον receives its full import; “to see the face of the Lord” is a well-known biblical expression to denote blessedness (comp. Psalm 11:7; Psalm 17:5; Matthew 5:8; Matthew 18:10; Hebrews 12:14; Revelation 22:4), whereas distance from it is an expression of misery.2 Thessalonians 1:9. The overwhelming manifestation of the divine glory sweeps from before it (pregnant ἀπὸ) into endless ruin the disobedient (Psalm 76:7) men who (see Moulton, 91 f.) shall pay the penalty of (see Proverbs 27:12, LXX) eternal destruction (the common apocalyptic belief, see Volz, Jüd. Eschat., 286 f.).9. who shall be punished with everlasting destruction] Rather, men who will pay the penalty of eternal destruction. In these awful words the Apostle describes the retribution designed for godless men and rejecters of the Gospel. His word for “penalty” (diké, the root of the words righteous and righteousness in Greek) brings to a climax the idea of justice developed in 2 Thessalonians 1:5-8; see note on “vengeance.” But the clause while defining, qualifies the foregoing; for “who” is equal to such as, who with all like them. The threatening applies to the impious and malignant opposers who were seeking to crush the infant Church. Their sin corresponded to that which our Lord denounced as the sin against the Holy Spirit, the “eternal sin,” the “blasphemy against the Spirit which shall not be forgiven” (Matthew 12:31-32; Mark 3:28-29, R. V.).

“Destruction,” as applied to man and his destiny in the N.T., signifies perdition, ruin, the utter loss of blessedness. It is opposed to “salvation” in Hebrews 10:39; 2 Corinthians 2:15, &c.; and “eternal destruction” is the antithesis of eternal life.” There is no sufficient reason for interpreting the destruction of the reprobate as signifying their annihilation, or extinction of being; they will be lost for ever—lost to God and goodness. Nor can we limit the range of the word eternal in its relation to this fearful doom; it removes all limits of time, and is the express opposite of temporary (2 Corinthians 4:18). Seventy-two times the Greek original of the adjective is found in the N.T.: forty-four of these examples are repetitions of the phrase “eternal life;” it is arbitrary to suppose that in the opposite combination “eternal” bears a restricted sense. Christ’s judicial words in Matthew 25:46 bar all attempts to minimize the penal effect of the sentence of the Last Day; “eternal punishment,” He says, and “eternal life.” Comp. Php 3:19, “whose end is destruction.”

from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power] Better, as in R. V., and without the comma, from the face of the Lord and from the glory of His might. Language borrowed from Isaiah 2, where it occurs thrice repeated, all but identically (Isaiah 2:10; Isaiah 2:19; Isaiah 2:21), in the prophet’s picture of Jehovah’s coming in judgement: “Enter into the rocks and hide yourselves in the earth from the face of the fear of the Lord and from the glory of His might, when He ariseth to shake the earth.” The words of Revelation 6:15-16 are based on the same original: “They say to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb.” The preposition here seems, however, after the word “destruction,” to signify coming from, rather than shrinking from the face of the Lord. The sight of their Judge and His Almightiness, robed in fire and attended by His host of angels, will drive these wretched men, terror-stricken, into ruin. Their destruction proceeds “from the face of the Lord;” in His look the evildoers read their fate. So we can imagine it will be with the murderers of Jesus, and with malicious persecutors of His people. Comp. Psalm 34:16; Psalm 76:7, “The face of the Lord is against them that do evil:” “Who may stand in Thy sight, when once Thou art angry?”

While the destruction of the persecutors and the deliverance of the persecuted are contrasted in themselves (2 Thessalonians 1:6-7), they are identified in point of time. For justice will overtake the former—2 Thessalonians 1:9. Ἀπὸ, from) It is a judicial procedure from the Divine presence itself, that will inflict punishment upon them. מפני, from the face. Devils will not be the tormentors; for even in this life bad men are not punished by devils, but rather by good angels: and in Psalm 78:49, the phrase, angels of (bringing) evil, may even denote good angels.[4] Exodus 12:23; 2 Samuel 24:16.—ΠΡΟΣΏΠΟΥ, the face) This face will be intolerable to them; they shall not see it, but they shall be made to feel it. Face and glory are generally parallel.—ἰσχύος, of His might) Lay aside your fierceness (haughty confidence of ‘might’) ye wicked men!

[4] “He cast upon them the fierceness of His anger—by sending evil angels among them.” LXX. διʼ ἀγγέλων πονηρῶν.—ED.Verse 9. - Who; namely, the unbelieving Gentiles and Jews. Shall be punished; literally, shall pay the penalty; shall suffer punishment (R.V.). With everlasting destruction; or rather, even everlasting destruction; the words being in apposition. "Destruction" here denotes ruin, death; the word is only used in Paul's Epistles (1 Corinthians 5:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:3; 1 Timothy 6:9). The Greek word translated "everlasting," from dogmatic reasons, has given rise to much controversy. Here it appears to denote eternal - eternity to come. The eternal punishment of the wicked seems here asserted; a terrible declaration, which the mind shudders to contemplate. The observation of Olshausen is worthy of attention: "This is the only passage in Paul's Epistles in which everlasting damnation is openly declared, whereas not a few occur in which a bringing back of all the lost ones is apparently assumed as possible;" but he adds, "For the supposition that Paul did indeed in the earliest of his Epistles still teach everlasting damnation, but gave it up in later times, there exists no sufficient foundation, because the bringing back again is nowhere freely and openly declared." From the presence (or, face) of the Lord. This clause has received a threefold interpretation. Some (De Wette, Hofmann) take the preposition "from" in a causal sense, denoting the efficient cause of the punishment of the wicked - that they will be as it were blasted by the face of the Lord. Others (Chrysostom, Theophylact) take it in a temporal sense, denoting the swiftness of the punishment of the wicked - that their punishment will rise directly on the appearance of Christ (Lunemann, Alford). And others take it in a local sense, denoting banishment or separation - that the wicked will be expelled from that joy and glory which reign in the presence of Christ; they shall be banished away from the presence of the Lord. This last interpretation seems to be the correct meaning; it gives to the proposition its full force. And from the glory of his power; not a Hebraism for "his mighty glory" (Jowett), but from that glory which has its origin in his power - the wicked will be banished from the manifestation of his power in the glorification of his saints. The punishment of the wicked on its negative side is here stated. As the presence of the glorified Jesus will constitute the happiness of heaven, so banishment from his presence will constitute the misery of hell, because the soul is then cut off from the source of all good and of all holiness. Shall be punished (δίκην τίσουσιν)

The verb (N.T.o.) means to pay or render. Lit. shall pay penalty.

Everlasting destruction (ὄλεθρον αἰώνιον)

The phrase nowhere else in N.T. In lxx, 4 Macc. 10:15. Rev. properly, eternal destruction. It is to be carefully noted that eternal and everlasting are not synonymous. See additional note at the end of this chapter.

From the presence (ἀπὸ προσώπου)

Or face. Ἁπὸ from has simply the sense of separation. Not from the time of the Lord's appearing, nor by reason of the glory of his presence. Πρόσωπον is variously translated in A.V. Mostly face: also presence, Acts 3:13, Acts 3:19; Acts 5:41 : person, Matthew 22:16; Luke 20:21; Galatians 2:6 : appearance, 2 Corinthians 5:12; 2 Corinthians 10:1 : fashion, James 1:11. The formula ἀπὸ προσώπου or τοῦ προσώπου occurs Acts 3:19; Acts 5:41; Acts 7:45; Revelation 6:16; Revelation 12:14; Revelation 20:11. In lxx, Genesis 3:8; Genesis 4:14, Genesis 4:16; Exodus 14:25, and frequently.

Glory of his power (δόξης τῆς ἰσχύος αὐτοῦ)

For glory see on 1 Thessalonians 2:12. Ἱσχὺς power, not often in Paul. It is indwelling power put forth or embodied, either aggressively or as an obstacle to resistance: physical power organized or working under individual direction. An army and a fortress are both ἰσχυρὸς. The power inhering in the magistrate, which is put forth in laws or judicial decisions, is ἰσχὺς, and makes the edicts ἰσχυρὰ valid and hard to resist. Δύναμις is the indwelling power which comes to manifestation in ἰσχὺς The precise phrase used here does not appear elsewhere in N.T. In lxx, Isaiah 2:10, Isaiah 2:19, Isaiah 2:21. The power (δύναμις) and glory of God are associated in Matthew 24:30; Mark 13:26; Luke 21:27; Revelation 4:11; Revelation 19:1. Comp. κράτος τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ strength of his glory, Colossians 1:11.

Additional Note on ὄλεθρον αἰώνιον eternal destruction, 2 Thessalonians 1:9

Ἁιών transliterated eon, is a period of time of longer or shorter duration, having a beginning and an end, and complete in itself. Aristotle (περὶ οὐρανοῦ, i. 9, 15) says: "The period which includes the whole time of each one's life is called the eon of each one." Hence it often means the life of a man, as in Homer, where one's life (αἰών) is said to leave him or to consume away (Il. v. 685; Od. v. 160). It is not, however, limited to human life; it signifies any period in the course of events, as the period or age before Christ; the period of the millennium; the mytho-logical period before the beginnings of history. The word has not "a stationary and mechanical value" (De Quincey). It does not mean a period of a fixed length for all cases. There are as many eons as entities, the respective durations of which are fixed by the normal conditions of the several entities. There is one eon of a human life, another of the life of a nation, another of a crow's life, another of an oak's life. The length of the eon depends on the subject to which it is attached.

It is sometimes translated world; world representing a period or a series of periods of time. See Matthew 12:32; Matthew 13:40, Matthew 13:49; Luke 1:70; 1 Corinthians 1:20; 1 Corinthians 2:6; Ephesians 1:21. Similarly οἱ αἰῶνες the worlds, the universe, the aggregate of the ages or periods, and their contents which are included in the duration of the world. 1 Corinthians 2:7; 1 Corinthians 10:11; Hebrews 1:2; Hebrews 9:26; Hebrews 11:3.

The word always carries the notion of time, and not of eternity. It always means a period of time. Otherwise it would be impossible to account for the plural, or for such qualifying expressions as this age, or the age to come. It does not mean something endless or everlasting. To deduce that meaning from its relation to ἀεί is absurd; for, apart from the fact that the meaning of a word is not definitely fixed by its derivation, ἀεί does not signify endless duration. When the writer of the Pastoral Epistles quotes the saying that the Cretans are always (ἀεί) liars (Titus 1:12), he surely does not mean that the Cretans will go on lying to all eternity. See also Acts 7:51; 2 Corinthians 4:11; 2 Corinthians 6:10; Hebrews 3:10; 1 Peter 3:15. Ἁεί means habitually or continually within the limit of the subject's life. In our colloquial dialect everlastingly is used in the same way. "The boy is everlastingly tormenting me to buy him a drum."

In the New Testament the history of the world is conceived as developed through a succession of eons. A series of such eons precedes the introduction of a new series inaugurated by the Christian dispensation, and the end of the world and the second coming of Christ are to mark the beginning of another series. See Ephesians 3:11. Paul contemplates eons before and after the Christian era. Ephesians 1:21; Ephesians 2:7; Ephesians 3:9, Ephesians 3:21; 1 Corinthians 10:11; comp. Hebrews 9:26. He includes the series of eons in one great eon, ὁ αἰὼν τῶν αἰώνων the eon of the eons (Ephesians 3:21); and the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews describes the throne of God as enduring unto the eon of the eons (Hebrews 1:8). The plural is also used, eons of the eons, signifying all the successive periods which make up the sum total of the ages collectively. Romans 16:27; Galatians 1:5; Philippians 4:20, etc. This plural phrase is applied by Paul to God only.

The adjective αἰώνιος in like manner carries the idea of time. Neither the noun nor the adjective, in themselves, carry the sense of endless or everlasting. They may acquire that sense by their connotation, as, on the other hand, ἀΐ̀διος, which means everlasting, has its meaning limited to a given point of time in Jde 1:6. Ἁιώνιος means enduring through or pertaining to a period of time. Both the noun and the adjective are applied to limited periods. Thus the phrase εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα, habitually rendered forever, is often used of duration which is limited in the very nature of the case. See, for a few out of many instances, lxx, Exodus 21:6; Exodus 29:9; Exodus 32:13; Joshua 14:9; 1 Samuel 8:13; Leviticus 25:46; Deuteronomy 15:17; 1 Chronicles 28:4. See also Matthew 21:19; John 13:8; 1 Corinthians 8:13. The same is true of αἰώνιος. Out of 150 instances in lxx, four-fifths imply limited duration. For a few instances see Genesis 48:4; Numbers 10:8; Numbers 15:15; Proverbs 22:28; Jonah 2:6; Habakkuk 3:6; Isaiah 61:8.


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2 Thessalonians 1:8
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