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II Thessalonians 1:8, 9




These two verses are cited by exclusionists to declare that God can not, or will not save all.

This is how they read in a typical modern translation:


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 glory of his might.


The following is from the Concordant Literal Translation, going back one verse to include verse 7.


7 and to you who are being afflicted, ease, with us, at the unveiling of the Lord Jesus from heaven with His powerful messengers,
8 in flaming fire, dealing out vengeance to those who are not acquainted with God and those who are not obeying the evangel of our Lord Jesus Christ --
9 who shall incur the justice of eonian extermination from the face of the Lord, and from the glory of His strength --



It's important here to consider the interpretation of PUNISH, PUNISHED, CORRECTION, DESTRUCTION, AND EVERLASTING.



But first lets look at PUNISH – In STRONGS Concordance  G2849


“to lop or prune, as trees and wings, to curb, check, restrain, chastise, correct”


The meaning here sounds like CORRECTION.



Now let's look at the word PUNISHED that was in this text. STRONGS G1349


“right, just, a suit at law, a judicial hearing, judicial decision, esp. sentence of condemnation, execution of a sentence, punishment, to suffer punishment, the goddess Justice, avenging justice”


The word PUNISHED could easily be replaced

with CORRECTION and fit perfectly

with the meaning given.




“ruin, destroy, death, for the destruction of the flesh, said of the external ills and troubles by which the lusts of the flesh are subdued and destroyed”

Which totally fits CORRECTION.

All of the ills, troubles and lusts of the flesh

will be destroyed forever.

They will be corrected.

This fits perfectly with:

1 Corinthians 3:13

“Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.”

The fire shall "try" everyone’s work....

1 Corinthians 3:15

“If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”

It is the WORK that is destroyed,

but he himself shall be saved.




Now, let's look at the word EVERLASTING.


aiónios: agelong, eternal

Original Word: αἰώνιος, ία, ιον
Part of Speech: Adjective
Transliteration: aiónios
Phonetic Spelling: (ahee-o'-nee-os)

Definition: age-long, and therefore: practically eternal, unending; partaking of the character of that which lasts for an age, as contrasted with that which is brief and fleeting.

Most assume that everlasting is "endless, forever and ever, unending", however, everlasting and eternal as it is translated in most modern Bibles often times means "an age or period of time." That period of time is often unknown.

Consider the following from Romans 5:9-21 in the Concordant Literal Version in contrast to the traditional, or exclusionist view of I Thessalonians 1:8, 9.

“Much rather, then, being now justified in His blood, we shall be saved from indignation, through Him. 10 For if, being enemies, we were conciliated to God through the death of His Son, much rather, being conciliated, we shall be saved in His life. 11 Yet not only so, but we are glorying also in God, through our Lord, Jesus Christ, through Whom we now obtained the conciliation. 12 Therefore, even as through one man sin entered into the world, and through sin death, and thus death passed through into all mankind, on which all sinned -- 13 for until law sin was in the world, yet sin is not being taken into account when there is no law; 14 nevertheless death reigns from Adam unto Moses, over those also who do not sin in the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him Who is about to be. 15 But not as the offense, thus also the grace. For if, by the offense of the one, the many died, much rather the grace of God and the gratuity in grace, which is of the One Man, Jesus Christ, to the many superabounds. 16 And not as through one act of sinning is the gratuity. For, indeed, the judgment is out of one into condemnation, yet the grace is out of many offenses into a just award. 17 For if, by the offense of the one, death reigns through the one, much rather, those obtaining the superabundance of grace and the gratuity of righteousness shall be reigning in life through the One, Jesus Christ. 18 Consequently, then, as it was through one offense for all mankind for condemnation, thus also it is through one just award for all mankind for life's justifying. 19 For even as, through the disobedience of the one man, the many were constituted sinners, thus also, through the obedience of the One, the many shall be constituted just. 20 Yet law came in by the way, that the offense should be increasing. Yet where sin increases, grace superexceeds, 21 that, even as Sin reigns in death, thus Grace also should be reigning through righteousness, for life eonian, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.”



* Matthew 24:41 Jesus tells who the “fire eonian” is for. It’s for Satan and his angels, for an age.  



* Romans 8;20-21  that the creation itself will be liberated from it's bondage to corruption. “For to vanity was the creation subjected, not voluntarily, but because of Him Who subjects it, in expectation that the creation itself, also, shall be freed from the slavery of corruption into the glorious freedom of the children of God.”



 * And from 1 Corinthians 15 will it be with the resurrection of the dead. the body that is sown is perishable [subject to corruption and death/man's flesh with sin entering it] IT IS RAISED is sown in is raised in glory…it is sown in weakness [the flesh is weak/but the spirit is willing] it is raised in power[by MY SPIRIT] it is sown a natural is raised a spiritual body........ and just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so too shall we bear the likeness of the man from Heaven.


Our old man of sin in Adam is condemned under law[sin in flesh condemned in all men] but our free gift through Christ [mercy/grace] is eternal life in incorruption… in Christ's image though our outer man perish, yet our inner man[spirit] is renewed day by day. I declare to you brothers that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God… nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable... for the TRUMPET WILL SOUND AND THE DEAD SHALL BE RAISED IMPERISHABLE AND WE WILL BE CHANGED!   


* And who is resurrected?  Paul tells the Jews they are wrong. The resurrection is not only for the justified or righteous, it is for all. (Acts 24:15)


Also, consider

Dr. Talbott's comments 

II Thessalonians 1:8-9

by tomtalbott » Fri Feb 06, 2009 9:48 am


ImagoDei wrote:I think you are right about Paul having universalist tendencies but to dogmatically assert universalism is something that the Scriptures won't allow. Paul himself said in 2nd Thessalonians, “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...” Whenever, I am tempted to proof-text Paul to support universalism, this verse comes to mind.


Dr. Talbott's Response:

You bring up an extremely important issue here because, so far as I can tell, II Thessalonians 1:8-9 is the only text in the entire Pauline corpus that, as mistranslated in some of our English Bibles, might appear to imply a doctrine of eternal separation from God. For my own part, I believe that the import of this text is just the opposite of what many have taken it to be, and this has nothing to do, by the way, with the controversy over the correct translation of “aionios” (whether it is correctly translated as “eternal,” “everlasting,” or simply “age enduring”). As for that term, I am prepared to accept, at least for the sake of argument, any translation you please.

But in any event, let’s proceed one step at a time and try first to get an accurate translation of the text, which is so badly mangled in so many of our English Bibles. If I am confident of anything, it is that the NIV translation, which you have quoted, perpetrates a serious theological confusion, and no less confused is the translation in the RSV, which reads as follows: “They (i.e., those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel) shall suffer the punishment of eternal destruction and exclusion from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might . . ..” Nor need one be a Greek scholar, as I certainly am not, in order to see why these translations are so dreadfully confused. 

Ask yourself this question: Where in the world did the idea of being “shut out” or “excluded from the presence of the Lord” come from? Certainly not from the Greek text. If you have any doubt about this, compare II Thessalonians 1:9 with another text whose relevant grammar and phraseology is identical to it, namely Acts 3:19: “Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” A literal translation of both texts would include the expression “from the presence of the Lord.” So let us suppose that I should translate Acts 3:19 as follows: “…so that refreshing times might come and shut you out or exclude you from the presence of the Lord.” That in essence is what some translators have done to II Thessalonians 1:9. It is just that bad.

The sole reason some translators have for injecting into the text the idea of being shut out or excluded from the presence of the Lord is that the Greek “apo,” like the English “from,” can sometimes mean “away from.” As Leon Morris has pointed out, “This is certainly the meaning . . . in Isa. 2:10,” where we read: “Enter into the rock, and hide in the dust from the terror of the Lord, and from the glory of his majesty.” It is also the meaning in Revelation 6:16, where the Kings of the earth and others cry out to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of the one seated on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb . . ..” But in these texts, the verbs “to hide” and “to conceal” determine the correct translation. When we try to hide or to conceal ourselves from the presence of the Lord--an impossible task--we are indeed trying to get away from that presence. In the context of II Thessalonians 1:9, however, we find no relevant verb, such as “to hide” or “to conceal,” no relevant subject of the action, and no other grammatical device that would entitle us to translate “apo” as “away from”; and in the absence of any such grammatical device, the result of such a translation is simply grammatical nonsense.

Worse yet, when translators try to avoid grammatical nonsense in their English translations by injecting into the text such foreign words as “shut out from” or “excluded from,” which alter the basic meaning of the text, they end up with a conjunction, something like “eternal destruction and exclusion from the presence of the Lord.” So it then looks as if the adjective “eternal” qualifies the injected noun “exclusion” as well as the correct noun “destruction,” and this in turn makes it look as if we have here a doctrine of eternal separation from God. But the idea that one can justifiably read all of this into the one little preposition “from” is simply preposterous, and the King James Version, which speaks simply of “everlasting destruction from (apo) the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power,” is both more literal and less theologically biased at this point. 

Even if one were to set aside the issue of grammatical nonsense, moreover, the context renders the “away from” translation quite absurd anyway. When Paul spoke of “the presence of the Lord” in verse 9, he clearly had in mind the Lord’s appearance “in flaming fire” (see verse 8); and similarly, when he spoke of destruction in verse 9, his figure suggests, not destruction away from the flaming fire, but destruction that precisely results from the flaming fire. Or consider the expression “glory of his power.” The destruction of the wicked is clearly a manifestation or an expression of his power; it is hardly an escape from it. Just as the Lord’s appearance will bring times of refreshment for the righteous, according to Acts 3:19, so it will bring destruction upon the wicked, according to II Thessalonians 1:9. The idea of separation is simply nowhere to be found here.

So now we must ask: Just what is the destruction of which Paul speaks, if it is clearly not an eternal separation from God?




Let us acknowledge that 2 Thessalonians 1: 6-10 does NOT say a word about eternal conscious torture (hell).


This text has reference to the impending judgment upon Israel and surrounding Mediterranean Rim nations that finally came to pass in 70 A.D. with the advancing Roman armies and the horrible conflagration that followed.


In 2 Thessalonians the apostle, Paul, is simply reminding his readers of the kind of warnings that Jesus and prophets before him had repeatedly given to the disobedient, e.g.,

Joel 2: 28-32;

Amos 9: 1-10;

Malachi 4: 1-6;

Matthew 3: 7-12;

Luke 21: 5-36.


These type warnings were often given in apocalyptic (cryptic) language that signaled a violent national overthrow by evil dominating world powers. You’ll find this same language used in the OT against Egypt, Babylon, etc.


By the way, in the 2 Thessalonians text (vs. 9) the word in the Greek is NOT “eternal,” but, rather, Gk: aionios = “age-lasting”, i.e., an indefinite period of time whether short or long. ~


Ivan A. Rogers

Excerpt from book entitled Grace Nuggets Uncovered

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