2 Thessalonians 1, Psalm 67


Many people have rejected any notions that God's justice is punitive, believing that punishment is beneath God's good nature. Justice is a more readily accepted category for many modern westerners. Though justice is more apparent in the Bible as the rationale for God's final assize, punishment is also included in this judgement. Twice in 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9 the word punishment is used to describe what our Lord will do to those who know not God nor obey the Gospel of Jesus. This punishment is “everlasting destruction” and bars one from “the presence of the Lord and the glory of his might.” Paul, without a doubt, portrays God's justice as having punitive dimension. One clarification is necessary. Just because God's justice is punitive, that doesn't mean God delights to punish. It just means that God's justice doesn't exclude punishment simply because God is love, for God is also Holy (see Isaiah 6:1-6). Wrath against evil holds one accountable for their sins (justice) via punishment meted out by our God that would prefer to show mercy. The cross proves that God's desire is to help us avoid our just punishment. But if we would rather earn our righteousness and provide our own salvation, we will face the punishment due our sins not to mention rejecting God's abundant kindness. This isn't popular, and I do not personally delight in the necessity of God's punishment. Our discomfort doesn't, however, mean we can redefine the meaning of God's actions. For those that know the pains and punishments inflicted by evildoers, the idea that God's justice wouldn't punish is truly beneath the God of justice