Thursday, 21 September 2017
…in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Thessalonians 1:8
The “flaming fire” here belongs to the angels, not to the judgment of the angels. Thus, there should be a comma after fire instead of before it. In the Old Testament, angels are known as seraphim, or “burning ones.” Much of the tribulation judgment does not come in the form of fire. Thus, there would otherwise be an inconsistency in the text. These powerful angels display a burning aura around them. Their judgments will be poured out on the world according to the descriptions found in the book of Revelation.
They will be, as it says, “taking vengeance.” However, the word “taking” is not appropriate. It implies personal vindictiveness, a characteristic not found in the true God. The Greek reads “giving” or “rendering.” God is not punishing because of a personal grudge against offenders. Instead, he is assigning to the unrepentant world their just due, and each man will receive that just due for not ascribing to God what is appropriate, and for just repayment of those who troubled His people.
It is for this reason that vengeance will come, and it will come upon “those who do not know God.” Jesus stated that if one sees Him, they have seen the Father. It is He who reveals God to us in a manner which we can understand, and it is He who mediates between God and man. Those who reject Jesus do not ascribe to God what is appropriate; and they, in turn, are those who then trouble His people. Otherwise, they would be His people. But they are, instead, at odds with God; enemies of Jesus. This is explicitly stated in the words, “and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
By the words here then, we have two different categories:
1) Those who do not know God.
2) Those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Though the two go hand in hand, they are listed separately because there are different types of knowledge in Paul’s mind. There are those who “know” God (even that Jesus is God), but they then do not acknowledge Him. And there are those who don’t “know” God, because they don’t know who Jesus is. This then follows through with the next clause. The first category may “know” God because they know who Jesus is, but they do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. They reject the truth of Christ, and thus they reject God. The two categories are necessarily stated separately to show that all will be punished because of failing to meet one or the other category.
The words “of our Lord Jesus Christ” are specifically used here to define those who may know the gospel, but who still reject the work of Jesus as the Messiah. In other words, this includes Jews of the end times who will be destroyed, even to two thirds of the nation (Zechariah 13:8). With God, there is no partiality, and both Jew and Gentile are favored only because of their standing with Christ Jesus. No other distinction will save them. Destruction lies ahead for all who fail to come to Christ.
Life application: If you have failed to come to Christ through the gospel of Christ (and this includes all who attempt to be justified by works of the law), you will be left behind at the rapture, and you will endure the judgments of the tribulation period. Now would be a good time for you to leave the Hebrew Roots movement, the SDA, or any other group who mandates observance of the law, in part or in whole. Call on Christ, trust in Christ, rest in Christ.
Lord God, You word assures us that there is a period of time coming on the earth which will be complete destruction and final judgment. You have shown in Your word that there is but one way to be freed from that time – trusting in the gospel of Christ Jesus. You gave us this avenue, and so for us to willingly reject it means that we merit Your disfavor. Help people to realize this, and help us to be willing to lead all to a saving knowledge of what He has done for us! Help us in this, O God. Amen.