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“Hell was not made for men. It is in no sense parallel to heaven”


- - CS Lewis

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Answering The “Hell” Verses


Verse #2 - II Thessalonians 1:9


Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;

KJV (King James Version)


Who, indeed, a penalty, shall pay—age-abiding destruction from the face of the Lord and from the glory of his might,

Rotherham Version


who shall suffer punishment, even eternal destruction from the face of the Lord and from the glory of his might,

ASV (American Standard Version)


who shall suffer justice—destruction age-during—from the face of the Lord, and from the glory of his strength,

YLT (Young's Literal Translation)


who shall incur the justice of eonian extermination from the face of the Lord, and from the glory of His strength”

CLT (Concordant Literal Translation)


These certain folks who will proceed paying the thing that is right (incur justice, fairness and equity): ruin pertaining to the Age [of Messiah] (or: an unspecified period of ruin or destruction; or: ruin for an age; eonian destruction having the character of the Age) [coming] from the Lord's face [= the Christ's or Yahweh’s presence], even from the glory of His strength (or: spreading from the manifestation which calls forth praise regarding, and having the character of, His strength) –

JMNT (Jonathan Mitchel New Testament)





This verse will often be found in the top ten reasons to believe in hell and it is often cited as the primary verse in which Paul is teaching us something about eternal punishment, which he does not advance in any of his writings. 





Points to consider . . . 


  1. This is the only text in all of Paul’s writings that, as it is mistranslated in many of our English Bibles, might appear to imply a doctrine of eternal separation from God.

  2. The actual meaning of this text, with proper import, is the opposite of our common teaching and understanding.   

  3. The Greek DOES NOT SAY "away from the presence of the Lord," but "from the presence of the Lord."  The passage is paralleled by 2 Thessalonians 2:9, where the anti-Christ is said to be destroyed by the "appearance of his coming," literally "the epiphany (epiphinao) or his (Christ's) effective presence (parousia).” 

  4. From the immediate context provided by 2 Thessalonians 1:8 and from the Greek, it seems that the translation in the ESV footnote is most accurate. “Away” is supplied by the translator and not the normal meaning of “apo” (from). Transliterated, the passage reads, “who right will pay ruin for an age from the face of the master.” The picture is clear. The Thessalonian’s persecutors will melt before the glory of Jesus, like wax melts before the sun. The destruction is not away from the Lord as the concept of hell would lead us to imagine, but comes from the very presence of the Lord. (Paul experienced something along this very line on the road to Damascus.)

  5. There’s an important disparity in how this verse reads when we understand “the effect of the presence of the Lord” in contrast to “the effect of being taken away from the presence of the Lord.” Also, as we attempt to comprehend God’s omnipresence, how can anything be away from the Lord?

  6. The casual reader might read this with the idea that those receiving this judgment are removed eternally away from the presence of the Lord. However, correction that comes “from the presence of the Lord” does the exact opposite. What did the presence of the Lord do to Saul on the way to Damascus? Praise God, it destroyed an enemy of Christ and gave us our chief apostle and the one who declared the good news to the non-Jewish world! That’s what the presence of the Lord does! The wicked are not destroyed permanently; they are changed. What can be more glorifying to our God than the praise of those He’s destroyed - and then restored - by the power of His relentless love and His unconditional mercy?

  7. Strongs “punishment” used here is G5099 = to pay a price, i.e. as a penalty

  8. Strong’s “destruction” used here is G3639 = 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 

  9. Strongs “from” used here is G575 = of place, time, or relation; literal or figurative 

  10. These introductory words in this letter to the followers in Thessalonika are an expression of deep empathy for the persecution and sorrows they are experiencing. It is likely that this persecution involves arrests, beatings and the death of family and friends. If any of us had been in Oklahoma City the day the federal building was destroyed and one of our friends lost a loved one, we would likely have extreme and harsh words to say. This genre of emotion is most likely what Paul was trying to convey. 

  11. The Onscript podcast by Brad Jersak and Meghan Henning sheds light on the use of rhetoric in the New Testament. The warnings by Matthew and this unusual warning by Paul can be understood much better with a clear understanding of rhetoric and its use in this letter. []

  12. In light of Paul’s broader context of writings, he’s referring to the destruction that precedes restoration - nonetheless, an unpleasant and dreadful episode of life to undergo. Based on the Greek readings and context, this passage is likely not intended to be a theological treatise on the afterlife.

  13. The word “everlasting” should be translated and understood as “an age” or “a period of time.” See APPENDIX “A” - NOTE: Our proper understanding of this passage is not altered by our interpretation of “aionios.”

  14. “Eternal destruction” can be understood as destruction from its eternal source. The destruction of Sodom came from an eternal source, yet we know that the “eternal fire” that destroyed the great cities around Sodom are not still burning. 

  15. It could be “destruction” that is irreversible. If so, what is destroyed? At least “the flesh” is destroyed. The “flesh” is more than the physical body, it is the old sinful self. From 1 Corinthians 15, it appears to be destroyed the way a seed is destroyed. And that destruction results in life. 

  16. Paul is the primary author of this letter. He is also the one who declares that the resurrection is for all. (Acts 24:15) The just and the unjust. While he is telling his friends in Thessalonika that their persecutors are deserving of destruction, Paul knows that God’s plan is to resurrect them and restore all things. They too will be among those who will confess Jesus is Lord, not on account of their destruction, but as the result of their restoration and His loving mercy!

  17. We all are God’s handiwork. The Pharoah’s and Judas’s of this world are no more in or out of God’s perfect will than anyone else throughout history. Those He destroys after they have tormented believers are no more destroyed than any other lifelong believer. We’re all in His flawless tapestry, even though our lives may seem drastically different. Our Creator God never lost His sovereign authority of those persecuting the Thessalonians, nor did He ever lose control of Saul as he persecuted the Christians before his Damascus road experience.

  18. These individuals who are persecuting the believers and followers of Christ are included in Paul’s declaration which we read about in Romans 11:32. He has consigned all to disobedience so that His mercy will be revealed in all. This includes those tormenting the early believers.

  19. This is a condition of ruin and destruction for an unspecified period (or: interpreting "eonian" as qualitative rather than quantitative, a ruin which comes from the Age – a figure of the reign of Christ, and the qualities and characteristics of His person and dealings).  These folks will experience a necessary destruction and ruin, in the realm of the Age, which comes from the Lord's presence.

  20. Dr. Thomas Talbot tells us, The reason that some translators inject into the text the idea of being excluded or shut out from the presence of the Lord is that the Greek “apo”, like the English “from”, can sometimes mean “away from”—as when, for example, the kings of the earth and others cry out on the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from (apo) the face of the one seated on the throne and from (apo) the wrath of the Lamb.” . . . 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. But in 2 Thessalonians 1:9 there is no verb, such as “to hide” or “to conceal”, and no other grammatical device that would give grammatical sense to such a rendering. In the absence of such a device, it is no less grammatically awkward to translate “olethr aionion apo prosopou tou kuriou” as “eternal destruction away from the presence of the Lord” than it would be to translate “kairoi anapsuxeos apo prosopou tou kuriou" (Acts 3:19) as “refreshing times away from the presence of the Lord”. Indeed, just as the presence of the Lord brings refreshment to the obedient, it brings destruction upon the disobedient.

  21. The concept of being “shut out” or “excluded from the presence of the Lord” comes from the English translations only. 

  22. Dr. Talbot points out that the we see this exact Greek phrase, which is properly translated “from the presence of the Lord” used in one other passage, 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.”  Talbot points out that we might 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.” Dr. Talbot’s final comment: “That in essence is what some translators have done to II Thessalonians 1:9. It is just that bad.”

  23. Ivan Rogers notes: “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. Paul is simply reminding his readers of the the kind of warnings that Jesus and the prophets before him had repeatedly given.”

  24. The word “destruction” is not “apollumi” but “olethros.” It appears only four times in the New Testament, here and in these three:


  • 1 Thessalonians 5:3 - While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. Labor pains feel like destruction, but in the deepest sense they are just the opposite. They are death to the old world, but the sign of impending life in the new.

  • 1 Timothy 6:9 - But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.

  • 1 Corinthians 5:5 - . . . you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.  The purpose of the “olethros” is the salvation of this sinner. But is this “eternal destruction”?

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