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Thread: Eternal Torment

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    Eternal Torment

    I came across a post on another forum where somone received the following asking for others to comment on it for he could find nothing to argue against it with. I submit the same here for discussion.

    1. Doesn't the Bible speak of "eternal torment"

      Answer: No, the phrase "eternal torment" does not appear in the Bible.
    2. Then why does the Bible say that the wicked will be destroyed with unquenchable fire?

      Answer: Unquenchable fire is fire that cannot be put out, but which goes out when it has turned everything to ashes. Jeremiah 17:27 says Jerusalem was to be destroyed with unquenchable fire, and in

      2 Chronicles 36:19-21 the Bible says this fire burned the city "to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah" and left it desolate. Yet we know this fire went out, because Jerusalem is not burning today.
    3. Doesn't Matthew 25:46 say the wicked will receive "everlasting punishment"?

      Answer: Notice the word is punishment, not punishing. Punishing would be continuous, while punishment is one act. The punishment of the wicked is death, and this death is everlasting.
    4. Can you explain Matthew 10:28: "Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul?"?

      Answer: The word "soul" has three meanings in the Bible: (1) a living being--Genesis 2:7, (2) The mind--Psalm 139:14, and (3) life--1 Samuel 18:1), which here refers to eternal life that God guarantees all who reach His kingdom. No one can take this away. The last part of Matthew 10:28 says both soul and body will be destroyed in hell.
    5. Matthew 25:41 speaks of "everlasting fire" for the wicked. Does it go out?

      Answer: Yes, according to the Bible, it does. We must let the Bible explain itself. Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed with everlasting, or eternal fire (Jude 7), and that fire turned them "into ashes" as a warning to "those that after should live ungodly", 2 Peter 2:6. These cities are not burning today. The fire went out after everything was burned up. Likewise, everlasting fire will go out after it has turned the wicked to ashes (Malachi 4:3). The effects of the fire are everlasting, but not the burning itself.
    6. Doesn't the story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31 teach an eternal hell of torment?

      Answer: No, indeed! It is simply a parable used to emphasize a point. Many facts make it clear that this is a parable. A few are as follows:

      A. Abraham's bosom is not heaven (Hebrews 11:8-10, 16).

      B. People in hell can't talk to those in heaven (Isaiah 65:17).

      C. The dead are in their graves (Job 17:13; John 5:28, 29). The rich man was in bodily form with eyes, a tongue, etc., yet we know that the body does not go to hell at death. It is very obvious that the body remains in the grave, as the Bible says.

      D. Men are rewarded at Christ's second coming, not at death (Revelation 22:11,12).

      E. The lost are punished in hell at the end of the world, not when they die (Matthew 13:40-42). The point of the story is found in verse 31 of Luke 16. Parables cannot be taken literally. If we took parables literally, then we must believe that trees talk! (See this parable in Judges 9:8-15).
    7. But the Bible speaks of the wicked being tormented "forever," doesn't it?

      Answer: The term "for ever", as used in the Bible, means simply a period of time, limited or unlimited. It is used 56 times in the Bible in connection with things that have already ended. It is like the word "tall", which means something different in describing men, trees, or mountains. In Jonah 2:6, "for ever" means "three days and nights". (See also Jonah 1:17). In Deuteronomy 23:3, this means "10 generations". In the case of man, this means "as long as he lives" or "until death". (See Samuel 1:22, 28: Exodus 21:6; Psalm 48:14). So the wicked will burn in the fire as long as they live, or until death. This fiery punishment for sin will vary according to the degree of sins for each individual, but after the punishment, the fire will go out. The teaching of eternal torment has done more to drive people to atheism and insanity than any other invention of the adversary. It is slander upon the loving character of a tender, gracious heavenly Father and has done untold harm to the Christian cause.
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    First of all, if we are going to argue against "everlasting" punishment then we must argue against everlasting life as well. But I'll tackle this post.. I don't have much time though so I apologize if it is short.

    Doesn't Matthew 25:46 say the wicked will receive "everlasting punishment"?

    Answer: Notice the word is punishment, not punishing. Punishing would be continuous, while punishment is one act. The punishment of the wicked is death, and this death is everlasting.
    Bah, this is just stupid. I have never seen the word "punishing" used as a noun. We read the words "everlasting life" instead of "everlasting living" also. I'm curious as how these annihilationists reconcile a finite act of punishment on a finite individual with an infinite offense of an infinite individual.

    Matthew 25:41 speaks of "everlasting fire" for the wicked. Does it go out?

    Answer: Yes, according to the Bible, it does. We must let the Bible explain itself. Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed with everlasting, or eternal fire (Jude 7), and that fire turned them "into ashes" as a warning to "those that after should live ungodly", 2 Peter 2:6. These cities are not burning today. The fire went out after everything was burned up.
    Ummm, the land where Sodom and Gomorrah once were located is still burning. It is a desert, salty and full of sulphur (brimstone), and in reality is a good picture of hell.

    Doesn't the story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31 teach an eternal hell of torment?

    Answer: No, indeed! It is simply a parable used to emphasize a point. Many facts make it clear that this is a parable. A few are as follows:

    A. Abraham's bosom is not heaven (Hebrews 11:8-10, 16).
    I fail to see the point.

    B. People in hell can't talk to those in heaven (Isaiah 65:17).
    So?

    C. The dead are in their graves (Job 17:13; John 5:28, 29). The rich man was in bodily form with eyes, a tongue, etc., yet we know that the body does not go to hell at death. It is very obvious that the body remains in the grave, as the Bible says.
    I don't get this guys point.

    D. Men are rewarded at Christ's second coming, not at death (Revelation 22:11,12).
    I still fail to see the point.

    E. The lost are punished in hell at the end of the world, not when they die (Matthew 13:40-42). The point of the story is found in verse 31 of Luke 16. Parables cannot be taken literally. If we took parables literally, then we must believe that trees talk! (See this parable in Judges 9:8-15).
    Did Jesus simply teach us this parable because it sounded nice? If it's NOT teaching eternal punishment for the wicked, what exactly is it teaching?

    In Jonah 2:6, "for ever" means "three days and nights". (See also Jonah 1:17).
    Give me a break! Has this person ever heard of context? Besides, "for ever" does not mean three days and nights. "for ever" in this case refers to the size of the earth. "Jonah 2:6, the earth with her bars [was] about me for ever;"

    In Deuteronomy 23:3, this means "10 generations".
    This was figurative speech. This law was in force much later than 10 generations. It was meant to be in effect as long as the Old Covenant was.

    In the case of man, this means "as long as he lives" or "until death". (See Samuel 1:22, 28: Exodus 21:6; Psalm 48:14).
    Yep, but so? This is used in a different context.

    So the wicked will burn in the fire as long as they live, or until death.
    Are you saying they are burning now this very moment and will burn until they die?

    The teaching of eternal torment has done more to drive people to atheism and insanity than any other invention of the adversary.
    Good - it's all part of God's plan for hardening individuals and increasing their punishment. Instead of "driving" people to atheism, I would hope it would drive an individual to their knees.

    It is slander upon the loving character of a tender, gracious heavenly Father and has done untold harm to the Christian cause.
    This person clearly doesn't know who MY God is.
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    Dear Doug:

    Of all people, you are the one, whose thoughts I would like to know about the 7th Day Adventist responses you posted above, I will be interested in your own answers.

    Also, Brother Bill Twisse. He has a world of knowledge on SDA theology.

    As for me, I would just concentrate on the argument made in the last phrase:

    Why would teaching "eternal and continual punishement" as being the same thing as "eternal punishing" do this:

    The teaching of eternal torment has done more to drive people to atheism and insanity than any other invention of the adversary. It is slander upon the loving character of a tender, gracious heavenly Father and has done untold harm to the Christian cause.
    How can anyone be driven into "atheism"? Will the atheist now believe if we stop preaching about "eternal punishing"?
    How can it be the "invention of the adversary"? Just as much as it does not say "eternal torment", the Bible does not say: "Behold yea thee and thou, whilst not that the adversary invented such an argument, that thou shalt suffer eternal punishement?" My point is always: If we will require a Biblical standard from one point, let's require the same standard from the other lest we be unfair and not balanced.

    Where does it say in the Bible that it is a "slander upon the character of a tender gracious heavenly Father? What can be worse than some of the things done to the enemies of Israel in the O.T., for example, the mincing into pieces by Samuel, of a king, in the presence of the people? I am sure we all can quote many other things that, judging the character of God as this cultistic argument judges, then "god" would have no character at all, and would be indeed a "god" with small "g".

    This argument about "slandering the character of God" is the very same they use when argumenting against Calvin. They use the same words: Calvin "slanders" God when he teaches about "election" and "predestination".

    Finally, why and how has it "done untold harm to the Christian cause"? Do they mean that if we would stop preaching eternal hell, then "more people would get saved? Or do they mean that the enemies of the Christian cause would be less lenient with Christians? Or do they mean that missionaries and preachers all over the world would have a breakthrough in theology, finding the key for every question ever asked about evangelization? Or that preachers now would be well received in Oprah, Phill Donohue, Larry King Live, etc.? What is the harm? If we preach annihalation, which is basic what this is, would that make the sinner breath a little easier and feel more confortable in being punished?. Would they feel better if we say that they will go to hell, but only until judgment day when God will annihalate them?

    Can anyone or anybody ultimately harm the Christian cause? I thought we were more than conquerors!

    If yes, then is it not the SDA or, whatever organization espouses that God is a "little whimpy god" who lets people harm their cause, and that preach such legalistic set of rules for salvation be more a harm to the cause of the Gospel than preaching about an eternal, unending hell? Is it not the SDA worse that preaching about an eternal hell?

    I can see a couple of skid road sinners breathing much easier now. They now know that they will spend only about 1000 years in hell, or may be one second, depending on when Jesus will return...

    My style when debating with these people is: Answer your own question after you reason about the ones that I will ask on top of it. They can't!

    Anyway, I also want to know your thoughts and every one else's thoughts.

    Milt
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    Thank you for the resource!

    Dr. Gill:

    I think we should publish your answers as "Answers to the annihalion argument of the SDA's".

    Great resource!

    Bill Twisse and I belonged (in the past) to a Forum called Former Adventists (I never was one but just took part on the Forum because I believe I could help them get out of legalism and understand Grace). The formers have answers for all these questions but are shut up by the current SDA's who still invade that forum with their arguments.



    Thanks!
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    I slugged this topic out with someone on another forum as well. As Dr. Gill pointed out, if we deny eternal torment and we are consistent we must also deny eternal life.

    The most thorough refutation I have seen of both this and soul sleep is found in Vol. 3 of the Selected Works of John Calvin. The very last tract found in there is called Psychopannychia (the wake of the soul). I don't agree with every point that he makes, but he very thoroughly investigates all the relevant passages.

    Calvin believes that the story of the rich man and Lazarus is a narrative and not a parable (which I disagree with him on). But he points out that even if it is a parable, a parable is a comparison founded in truth. The basic concepts of the parables must be actual realities for the parable to work. Those who teach annihilationism make the Parable and the passages in Revelation meaningless. Jesus would not have told the story of a man with a vineyard if vineyards did not exist.

    Sola Gratia,
    WildBoar
    For whatever strength of arm he may have who swims in the open sea, yet in time he is carried away and sunk, mastered by the greatness of its waves. Need then there is that we be in the ship, that is, that we be carried in the wood, that we may be able to cross this sea. Now this Wood in which our weakness is carried is the Cross of the Lord, by which we are signed, and delivered from the dangerous tempests of this world.--St. Augustine

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    The only real trouble that I have is mostly a logical issue, not so much a directly scriptural one. I am not trying to discount the arguments that you fine gentlemen have presented, but I am not convinced by them yet either.

    I thought that eternal life was the consequence of being "in" Christ.

    I don't see anyplace in scripture that the unjust are given life of the ages.

    I would love to be instructed on this point, because it has always kind of stuck in my craw no matter how the argument about the rest went.

    Thanks
    Moderation in all things, especially moderation.

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    I don't mean to be cruel here, and I mean no offense to you stauron, but right now, it doesn't seem surprising to me that one who has a problem understanding a future physical resurrection also has a problem with understanding eternal punishment. I'm sorry if this is so far off topic, but I think the two are related somewhat.
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    Dea W.B.

    Those who teach annihilationism make the Parable and the passages in Revelation meaningless. Jesus would not have told the story of a man with a vineyard if vineyards did not exist.
    Absolutely correct!

    What theorist want us to believe that, in order to make a point, Jesus had to resort to "bad theology", or meaningless fairy tales.

    Duh! If they, the annihalationist, do resort to bad theology, it is natural for them to think that Jesus does the same...

    Milt
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    A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver - Prov. 25:11

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    Originally posted by Dr. Gill
    I don't mean to be cruel here, and I mean no offense to you stauron, but right now, it doesn't seem surprising to me that one who has a problem understanding a future physical resurrection also has a problem with understanding eternal punishment. I'm sorry if this is so far off topic, but I think the two are related somewhat.
    they would be related if the only reason he objected to eternal punishment was because of his preterism. i don't know if this is the case.

    i was wondering earlier. who are the "big guns" evangelicals out there who openly teach annihilationism? the only one i know of is john r. w. stott. i don't know his stand on preterism but i know he's an annihiliationist and gets a lot of flack for it.
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    Originally posted by disciple
    they would be related if the only reason he objected to eternal punishment was because of his preterism. i don't know if this is the case.
    Ummm, I would tend to think so. There are some preterists who think "hell" or "gehenna" was completely fulfilled in 70AD! And if you take their theology to the logical conclusion, this would make sense. The hyper preterist mantra is "realized eschatology" - everything has been fulfilled. I'm beginning to see more and more each day how preterism is truly heresy of the worst sort.
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    Originally posted by Dr. Gill
    I don't mean to be cruel here, and I mean no offense to you stauron, but right now, it doesn't seem surprising to me that one who has a problem understanding a future physical resurrection also has a problem with understanding eternal punishment. I'm sorry if this is so far off topic, but I think the two are related somewhat.
    OK Then, back to actually argument instead of ad hominems, can anyone explain my original question?

    I am really asking for input here, not disingenuously looking for a fight or trying to promote heresy of the worst sort.

    If you all have such brilliant, tight arguments, then tell me how we get around giving eternal life to those outside of Christ?

    If scripture teaches eternal punishment (which I have no problem with I am just trying to be consistent) then why is eternal life associated with being in Christ?
    Moderation in all things, especially moderation.

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    I would hardly call suffering for eternity "life".
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    Originally posted by Dr. Gill
    I would hardly call suffering for eternity "life".
    there are people who are suffering in this world every day. would you say that they aren't alive or that they don't have life? i see what you're saying here but i don't think it adequately deals with stauron's objection.
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    People are alive physically - yet they are dead spiritually. Everywhere I look I see walking "dead" men.
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    Originally posted by Dr. Gill
    People are alive physically - yet they are dead spiritually. Everywhere I look I see walking "dead" men.
    i agree. i think then the issue to discuss is what is meant by life. is it simply existence/consciousness or is it something else? and are we talking about life spiritually or physically? i would say that in the eternal punishment model, people exist eternally but they don't have "life" (defined as spiritual life being in a relationship with God). so they are alive in the sense of being conscious but this does not necessarily mean that they have "life." how would annihilationists describe or explain this?

    here's a question: how would one explain eternal punishment (cf. Mt 25:46) in terms of eternal destruction (cf. 2 Th 1:9)? i know that is a big issue among annihilationists that how can it be eternal destruction if they still exist. anyway, wondering how one might explain 2 Th 1:9 to an annihilationist.
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    Originally posted by disciple
    i was wondering earlier. who are the "big guns" evangelicals out there who openly teach annihilationism? the only one i know of is john r. w. stott.
    here is a quote from an article i found:

    Alternative, unorthodox views concerning the final state of the wicked are no longer limited to the fringe. Today, individuals who have been regarded as solidly within the evangelical camp are abandoning the doctrine of conscious, eternal punishment in favor of various "annihilation" scenarios. Probably the most prominent evangelical to go over to the annihilationist position is Anglican John R. W. Stott, Rector of All Soul's church in London. Stott's shift came to light in a book published by InterVarsity Press entitled Evangelical Essentials: A Liberal-Evangelical Dialogue. In this book, Stott responds to liberal Anglican David Edwards on a range of theological issues. It was in response to Edwards's position on judgment and hell that Stott presented his reformulated views.[6] Though Stott is probably the most respected evangelical to espouse the annihilationists' cause, others have joined this growing movement as well. Clark Pinnock, John Wenham, Philip Hughes, and Stephen Travis have all positioned themselves as annihilationists within the evangelical camp.[7] In addition, Adventist scholars who regard themselves as evangelical, such as Edward Fudge and David A. Dean, also actively propagate annihilationist views.[8]
    see the following:

    http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/.../crj0085a.html
    http://www.forananswer.org/Matthew/Mt25_46.htm
    http://www.ifca.org/voice/01Sep-Oct/James_Mook.htm
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    Let me put my no cents worth on this conversation.
    I read a few writers, including the Greek Scholar, Spyro Zodhiates, and it seems to me that this text is one of the few examples in the Bible (2 Thes. 1:9) where one has to interpret the text just with a little bit of sense of proportionality.

    Now, no one, please, go on preaching on this or establishing a doctrine on this. This is only my opinion and is open to correction. However, it is important enough to consider.

    Let's see it:

    1 - The term: The term "everlasting destruction" seems almost an oximorum in the English language: How can something or someone be "eternally or everlastingly destructed". Does not the word "destruction carries an end in itself. "Let the fire burn to its own destruction, said the fireman". All of us have seen in our groceries stores something similar in olive oil bottles: Extra virgin oil. How can anything be "more or less virgin than the other" what does that mean?

    So, in order for us to find out what this "strange wording" means, or "eternal destruction" or "everlasting destruction" or a destruction that never actually is destroyed enough and keeps on being destructed endelessly through eternity, allow me to use what I called above, the principle of proportionality:

    2 - One versus the other in the same proportion: The penalty of everlasting destruction, which the Apostle explains as "being away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power", first of all, dooms its recipients to be away from the presence of the Lord forever. One of the people I worked for in the past, whose name I leave out since it will elicit the scorn of many, used to define hell as the "total absence of God and that which is Godly". Look at the world today. Even with the presence of the Ek-klesia here we see so much misery and suffering that sometimes is hard to bear. Now imagine a place where people are away from the presence of the Lord and the Glory of His power!
    In any case, I believe there is an implied idea of consiousness since the "everlasting destruction" if taken not as a "strange construction of words", means "a destruction that never ends, or, continual destruction". I believe Paul would have said it plainly that this people would be "eternally destroyed" and there would be no need to say "away from the presence of God and the Glory of His power". This would be the same as to say: "You will die and be buried 6 feet under and when it rains, you will see how cold it gets down there when the dirt is wet...Tough on you!" We would not say that to anyone, I think. Neither would the Holy Spirit inspire Paul to say how it would "feel" after they had been destoyed if the destruction was to be ever completely achieved .

    3 - The promise for the elect: Without quoting scriptures, let us try to agree that the elect will have the opposite, or everlasting reward which then means a clearer "reward that never ends" in the presence of God and the Glory of His power and that state will also be a conscious state. Then we have this:

    4 - Proportionality: The idea of punishment for the wicked in my humble and subject to correction opinion is directly proportional to the punishement of the wicked, just as much God's character of love for the elect is proportional to His character of justice or judgment for the wicked.

    As per the above, I have no choice to believe that both the the reward for the saint and the punishment for those who ain't (just to get a rhyme) is proportional in timing and intensity just as God is proportional in His character of Love, and Justice and all the other of His attributes.

    How does it seem to you?

    I welcome comments and corrections.

    Milt
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    First: Allow me to exempt Spyro Zodhiates from any responsibility on my opinion about "proportionality". Do go suing him for what I said. I mentioned his name just as one of the scholars I checked with and could not find any creative answer. The theory of "porportionality" between reward and punishment is a product of my own creativity or lack thereof.

    Second: The terms in 2 Thes 1:9 "away from the presence of God and the Glory of His power" is subject to the modifier "everlasting". So, these people would be "everlastingly separated from God and the Glory of His power." I propose to you that this eliminates AD 70 from the scenario since we can witness and many people could thereafter "the presence of God and the Glory of His power". Or else, I missed something and somebody please, give me an update!

    Milt
    Grace Ambassador
    A pitiful servant of God; a pitbull guardian of the message of Grace

    My pledge to other members:
    A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. Prov 15:1
    A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver - Prov. 25:11

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    Originally posted by GraceAmbassador
    The penalty of everlasting destruction, which the Apostle explains as "being away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power", first of all, dooms its recipients to be away from the presence of the Lord forever.
    i think you've keyed in on the correct phrase in the 2 Th passage:

    2 Th 1:6 For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7 and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, 8 dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, 10 when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed for our testimony to you was believed.

    although we still need to decide what is meant by away from the presence of the Lord. because certainly, if one is annihilated, they are also away from the presence of the Lord are they not? but i think the statement will make little sense if we took it this way. it seems to me that the penalty of eternal destruction is that the person is away from the present of the Lord and from the glory of His power which can only mean that the person is conscious or aware of this penalty (the penalty would seem to be a non-penalty if the person wasn't even there to know about it).

    also, there is the issue of 1 Co 15:32 ...let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die. if this is true, then there is no real reason for anyone to repent. if i could live it up in this life and my only penalty is to cease to exist while everyone else gets to party on with God, then i think for many it would be a toss up. let's see, live like hell in this life and just get snuffed or live a life of discipline and restraint in this life and get to live forever. depending on my mood that day, i'd pick either.

    personally though, i do have an emotional problem with eternal torment (or God torturing) but that is my own issue. i also struggle emotionally with God commanding some of the things He did in the OT. thankfully though, theology is not determined by how i feel about it. but it still doesn't "fix" my emotional struggle (or make it go away). i perfectly accept that He is God and can do whatever He pleases and that whatever He does is just and good and righteous. but i still struggle with some things emotionally. and this is indeed one of those things.
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    2 Thess 1:9, (GILL), 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.
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