The Evangelical Universalist Forum

How does a Universalist interpret these parts of 2 Thess.?

I would say, whatever it is, it applies to people sitting in pews who “do not obey the gospel” and who have “pleasure in unrighteousness” (ie the kind of shallow churchianity where people’s lives are not transformed and they use porn but point their fingers out there at those “wicked homosexuals” :unamused: ) I did search for this passage in the archives some time ago, but came up empty; nor can I find it in Parry’s book.

How do universalists interpret this?

Discussed this with my husband this morning. He thinks it supports annihilation but not universal salvation. “punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord

While I wouldn’t say Paul’s words in these verses “support” UR, I don’t think they’re inconsistent with it, either: 2 Thess 1:5-10

But if I understood the punishment spoken of in these verses to be a future judgment for all the wicked - and didn’t believe Paul taught UR elsewhere - I would be much more likely to view Paul’s words as supporting annihilation rather than ECT.

Thanks for the link, Aaron. The OT references clarifying the terminology are helpful. (Though I’m not a preterist, so I think the passage applies to us as much as to the 1st century Jews). The idea that “everlasting” was used elsewhere to characterize 70 years- the human lifespan- is quite intriguing… :slight_smile:


There’s a relevant discussion in Tom Talbott’s forum here: II Thessalonians 1:8-9
and here: II Thessalonians 1:9: Part II.


Perfect, Sonia. The analysis of the Greek words is a more comfortable approach for me than a historical argument.

Brilliant observation that Acts 3:19 and 2 Thes 1:9 have word for word the same Greek but interpretational words are added in 2 Thes 1:9 to make it say the opposite of the Greek. (I’ve made that same argument myself regarding some of the women texts).

And I appreciated the input there about the Greek Orthodox view that “the presence of the Lord” is painful for some and blessed for others. One idea which my husband and I have tossed around is that people get what they want. An illustration of this which I thought was hilarious is Homer Simpson in Donut Hell, kind of along the lines of the Israelites getting quail until they choked. How long would people stew in their flesh until it becomes unbearable and they turn to God for mercy?

I think that these words from the verse challenge a non-retributive view of punishment, don’t they?: “in flaming fire taking vengeance”? Or the idea the “vengeance is the Lord’s”. What is “vengeance” and is it compatible with “correction”?

Hi gem,

You wrote:

Is it your view, then, that the coming of Christ/judgment of which Paul speaks in this passage is still future? If so, who all do you believe will suffer this “vengeance” and “punishment” (e.g., those who physically die as unbelievers, or those who just happen to be unbelievers when the coming/judgment takes place)? If you don’t see this judgment as being confined to a yet-future time, when and where do you think it is taking place?

While I do think Talbott makes a good case for apo meaning “coming from” rather than “away from” in 2 Thess 1:9, I also think this understanding of apo is perfectly consistent with my view that this prophesied judgment had a more immediate historical relevance ( While I don’t really find it as problematic to speak of people as being “away from the presence” of the Lord in some sense (especially if by “presence” one means God’s approbation, or a place where his presence and glory is specially manifested), it does seem to make more sense to understand the “eternal destruction” as coming from (or resulting from) the “presence of the Lord” rather than being away from the presence of the Lord! But the question still remains: of what did Paul believe this “eternal” or “age-lasting” destruction would consist, and who did he believe would be the recipients of this destruction?

Well we know that there was, in fact, a severe judgment looming on the horizon in Paul’s day, and which came upon the people who were afflicting the Thessalonians (the unbelieving Jews - Acts 17:5-9 and 1 Thess 2:14-16) - i.e., the historical, national judgment that Christ likely had in mind when he spoke of the fire of “Gehenna” or Hinnom Valley (What did Jesus mean by Hell). And as noted before, Paul (following Christ) seemed to have anticipated some sort of “coming” of Christ taking place within the lifetimes of those to whom he wrote (1 Thess 2:19; 3:11-13; 5:1-4, 23-24; c. 1 Cor 1:4-8; 7:29; 10:11). It seems reasonable that the judgment which overtook the Jews in 70 AD would have granted “relief” to the Christians who were being afflicted by the unbelieving Jews, and put their opponents “in their place” so to speak; at the very least, this judgment would’ve severely weakened the persecuting movement of those who assumed spiritual superiority over the Christians. Even the Jews who weren’t present in Jerusalem for Passover in 70 AD (or who were, and somehow survived) would have been greatly affected by the judgment which left them without a temple or capital city, and resulted in many being “led captive among all nations.” Jesus called the time of this judgment “days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written,” during which time there would be “great distress upon the earth and wrath against this people” (Lk. 21:22-23; cf. 1 Thess 2:16). Could not this judgment be understood as God’s way of “repaying with affliction” those who afflicted the believers to whom Paul wrote? And in a Scriptural sense, couldn’t it be said that the Jews, as a people, were “destroyed” with an “age-lasting” destruction at this time? It’s been almost 2,000 years since this 1st century judgment and the Jews are still without their temple. The 70-year-long “everlasting reproach” and “perpetual shame” which God brought upon the Jewish people when their first temple was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar pales in comparison to the judgment God brought upon them in 70 AD.

roofus wrote:

Not only that, but the idea of “repayment” is pretty explicit in 2 Thess 1:6: “God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you.” While I don’t see any punishment as being inconsistent with anyone’s being ultimately saved, this doesn’t mean it’s necessarily “remedial.” Paul’s emphasis here certainly seems to be on the retributive rather than corrective nature of this punishment.

I think vengeance is compatible with correction. Not always man’s vengeance, but God’s, because He knows what He’s doing. The beginning of wisdom is the fear of God, and some need to learn fear before they can learn love. So vengeance may be the first step for any who persistently insist on evil.


I’m enjoying this conversation and the different perspectives being offered.

As Sonia said, I do believe that for God, vengeance and correction are compatible. In fact, I tend to think that when God corrects one who has wronged another, vengeance is thus accomplished for the victim.

The correction of the persecutor serves as vengeance for the victim.

Considering the context of this passage, I think it’s important to remember that the church in Thessalonica was under heavy persecution. Think about how you would console someone who is undergoing persecution. Would you tell them that the persecutors will get off easy because “God is love”…? Would you tell a woman who was just raped that one day she’ll be in paradise with the rapist?!

Seems like jumping to that part of the story would be a little calloused… there’s something else that would need to happen long before reconciliation could happen. I believe this is the reason for Paul’s stern words for the persecutors. Victims of horrible crimes and persecution cry out for justice, and Paul is affirming that their cries are heard.

Just my two cents.

I think the judgment is an ongoing reality in every generation.

Although, I have seen a pretty strong preterist case somewhere on this forum for interpreting Matt 24 (ie “this generation will not pass away before…”) and I am willing to consider a preterist take on Matt 24. But not on 2 Thes, nor on the book of Revelation. I think they are applicable and relevant to me and you today, every bit as much as they were to their first readers.

In 2 Thes, I take the part about the man of sin setting himself up in the temple proclaiming to be God as the “carnal man” within each human being in every generation which must be overcome. Likewise, the Beast of Revelation.

I was gratified that my husband pointed out Weatherly. We read a rather large section from his commentary. Although the passage we were reading is not available to show you on google books ( @ page 260 where Weatherly proposes a very similar view to mine, and proceeds to provide solid evidence from the grammar that “man of lawlessness” refers to the fact that “evil and the Evil one will prevail in this age until Christ returns”) I found a bit on your preterist view here. Oddly enough, I wrote my 2nd Paragraph of this comment (above) before searching on google books for a quote for you and reading that Weatherly says “ditto”. (And here I thought my husband is making a huge effort with a motivation to talk me out of my views… :laughing: )

I strangely ended up reading an article involving this passage called God’s Just Justice by John Frye over at JesusCreed. Thoughts? … /#comments

I believe Paul was not saying everlasting destruction. I believe the more accurate translation is age extermination (physical death). He was referring to the Jews who were persecuting the believers their, and Paul told the believers that the day of Judgment (70AD) would bring Gods fire on those who would not believe in their messiah and would eventually be killed by each other or by Rome…