by Mike Ratliff
For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. (Philippians 3:18, 19 ESV)
I am in the process of reading John MacArthur’s new book Slave. I have heard that some who despise his stand on Lordship Salvation have said that this book is simply another book about the Lordship of Christ. I am about 1/3 of the way through it and that statement is an oversimplification to be sure, but, in a sense, it is correct. When Christians understand their proper role in their relationship with their Saviour as that of a δοῦλος (slave) of the Κύριον ᾿Ιησοῦν Χριστόν (Lord Jesus Christ) then this whole Lordship Salvation debate just looks silly. We do not make Jesus Lord, He is Lord. Those whom He saves are His δοῦλοί and their responsibility is to serve Him according to His will for the rest of their lives. However, as the passage above reads, this does not include everyone, far from it. There are enemies of the cross of Christ. While these δοῦλοι of the Κύριον ᾿Ιησοῦν Χριστόν will spend eternity with Him, these enemies have an end that Paul calls “destruction.”
This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering— since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:5-12 ESV)
These enemies of the cross of Christ also afflict true believers. However, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire (can’t wait for this) what will happen to these “enemies of the cross?” Notice these enemies of the cross are those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His might…
Here is v9 from the ESV: They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might
Here is v9 from the NA27: οἵτινες δίκην τίσουσιν ὄλεθρον αἰώνιον ἀπὸ προσώπου τοῦ κυρίου καὶ ἀπὸ τῆς δόξης τῆς ἰσχύος αὐτοῦ
The word “eternal” translates the adjective αἰώνιον, which is the Accusative, Singular of αἰώνιος or aiōnios, which, in this context, would mean “without end” or “forever.” The words “suffer the punishment” translates the words δίκην τίσουσιν, which literally could be translated as “will pay a penalty.” That payment is in the form of something that will be eternal and it is rendered in the ESV as “destruction” which translates the noun ὄλεθρον, which is the Accusative, Singular of ὄλεθρος or olethros, which does not carry the fundamental thought of annihilation, but instead, corruption by some injurious force, which the subject cannot hinder. In other words, those who go into this eternal destruction will endure it forever, it never ceases or lessens, and they can do nothing to escape it.
Now, what should our response be to this? We should first praise God and seek His glory and we should obey Him by preaching the Gospel to all who will hear so that, perhaps, He will save some from this coming judgment that is coming upon the whole world.
Soli Deo Gloria!