by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 3 Study # 6 October 4, 2015 Dayton, Texas (Download Audio)
(023)Thesis:The outcome of a life lived in deliberate rejection of the knowledge of God and the promise of His Gospel is a never-ending experience of total and unmitigated disaster.
Introduction:There is no more sobering truth in the universe than that which is presented in the Word of God when it comes to the doctrine of God's reaction to the willfulness of men in their rebellion against Him. There is, however, a host of men who are actively attempting to de-fang this reality by either outright denial or by sophistry in arguments that limit the outcome to just a little while.
This evening we are going to look briefly at what Paul told the Thessalonians about God's final reaction to those committed to Sin.
I. The Larger Summary.
A. God is going to subject sinners to the experience of "eternal destruction".
1. The text actually reads, "These shall experience the outcome" (of God's legitimate decision in respect to their willful rebellion against the knowledge of God and rejection of the promise of God in the Gospel).
2. The verb is a future indicative, which means that the experience is both future and on-going.
3. The noun translated "destruction" is only used in four New Testament texts, but two of them make it clear that what it means is not annihilation, but a degrading of the possibility of function.
a. In 1 Thessalonians 5:3, it is used as the antithesis of "peace and safety", both of which are qualities of experience, particularly of the soul.
1) This makes "destruction" a concept of a degraded experience of the soul.
2) It is in no sense a "destruction of the soul" as a rendering of it to non-experience.
b. In 1 Corinthians 5:5, it is used as a church discipline function wherein a person is turned over to Satan so that he is free to kill him.
1) This makes "destruction" a concept of a degraded capacity of the body.
2) That physical bodies eventually turn back into their basic elements (from dust to dust) is not a "Satanic" principle, so it is not an annihilation of the body by Satan.
c. When both are taken into account, "destruction", far from being a cessation of existence, is an experience of degraded capacity to possess the qualities of life that make it enjoyable.
4. The adjective translated "eternal" is widely used in the New Testament and its general meaning is "having no age-limitations".
a. The "ages" in the Scriptures are blocks of time marked by specific characteristics.
b. To be "delimited" from "the ages" simply means there are no boundaries (there is no end).
c. To try to manipulate "eternal destruction" into some kind of annihilation thesis simply ignores the fact that Paul needed to add "eternal" to "destruction" so that it would communicate his meaning: a permanent degrading that would endure beyond the ages.
B. The subjection of men to this experience is done by the omnipotent God so that there is no hope that it will not happen, or that, having happened, one can escape after some time.
II. The Details.
A. The subjection of the wicked to "eternal destruction" is given the characterization that it is a removal of them from "the face of the Lord".
1. The Old Testament has references to God "turning His face away" so that terrible things occur.
2. That "the face" is a metaphor for "presence" needs to be qualified: it is not technically "presence" so much as it is "pleased acceptance".
3. To be subjected to something that results in being "away from the face of the Lord" means the loss of every "good" and the resultant experience of every "disastrous negative".
B. The subjection of the wicked to "eternal destruction" is given a second characterization: the removal of them from "the glory of His strength".
1. This is a figure of speech that means, "the glory of God that consists of inherent might".
a. "Inherent might" is simply everything of God that results in His ability to do mighty acts.
b. At issue is not His ability to do powerfully destructive things; it is His ability to provide an abundance of the elements that make up "Life".
2. To be removed from God's glorious might, then, does not mean that His might is not going to be exercised in a negative way toward them, but, rather, that His might will provide nothing of benefit to them.