by Mike Ratliff
18 For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. (Philippians 3:18-19 NASB)
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 they must also have a clear understanding of the fact this does include everyone. 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.”
5 This is a plain indication of God’s righteous judgment so that you will be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering. 6 For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7 and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, 8 dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, 10 when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed—for our testimony to you was believed. 11 To this end also we pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power, 12 so that the name of our Lord Jesus will 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 NASB)
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 NASB: These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,
Here is v9 from the NA28: 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 “will pay the penalty” very accurately translates the words δίκην τίσουσιν. That payment is in the form of something that will be eternal and it is rendered in the NASB 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!