Traditional thinking of the subject of everlasting destruction is that it relates to “post-mortem continuity”. The biblical approch however is one of “legacy” and “history”. The subject mater in the New Testament scripture is not “where they were headed post mortem” but rather what legacy would continue to effect ongoing human history.
This is another reason why we can take seriously the immanence that exists throughout the New Testament writtings.
They were in the “last days” and it was the “last days” of the old covenant.
Orthodoxy often attempt to end the old covenant at the cross. Since the old covenant cannot end untill all is fulfilled and the cross did not on its own fulfill all scripture then the point becomse obvious. Even the pouring forth of the Holy Spirit had not taken place which Joel prophicied for the “last days”.
Where Orthodoxy has an increadible difficulty is that it sees things in broad strokes of “black or white”, as “yes or no” as “done or not yet done”. But this does not work with any of the larger issues that the New Testament is speaking about. Within the New Testament from Acts through Revelation there is what is called an “already but not yet”. Like saying “saved but being saved” or “Redeemed but still being redeemed” or “freed from the law but still being freed”.
What is missed in this is the fact that they were living by “faith” and “hope”. And in this faith and hope there was an already in the sence that the applied meaning of what was happening could be then applied to an extent but at the same time not all things were yet made manifest.
So then concerning the law, the authorities were “disarmed” but not yet “brought to nothing”. It this tention that is always present in the New Testament writtings because they were in the last days of the old covenant while the followers of Christ were living by faith holding fast their confidence firm until the end.
So then lets get on with our little study on “everlasting destruction” from the vantage point of a then emienent end to the old covenant during the time that the New Testament scriptures were being written.
2Th 1:7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,
2Th 1:8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:2Th 1:9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord.
Simply put this means that the OLD could not be a part of the NEW. What was revealed was the passing away of the old order of things.
Verse 1:9 then speaks of the Judgment, or the Sentence of “destruction”.
So then the "vengeance" or "punishment" of 1:8 is that they would be sentenced to which is everlasting destruction.
Everlasting destruction means a permanent destruction Written in history. Like saying “my words shall not pass away”. There is a permanent record. The punishment however, relates to an "ego", not a the "person" in the sense that the person would come through this and the ego orientation would be left with the sentence. The fire was unquenchable but the chaff is burnt up. The fire was not an ongoing judgment as if an ongoing application. It was an unquenchable fire because the sentence could not be reversed.
The old covenant stood upon the ego-man. Paul is saying that they would go down in history as one that had lost their false treasures in the end of the age. The theif in the night was about to come and take all their treasures from them and so then they would no longer be "priests" from the position of having anything to say about God or speaking on God’s behalf. Their "mouth" is then "shut". As the "old" could not speak for God once the "new" came fully present.
Sodom had served as a example of "eternal fire" as they went down in history in a similar fashion.
This is the meaning of the "smoke of their torments" raising to the age of the ages as Revelation speaks about the coming end of the Holy City. The "worm never dies" because of the historical nature of an age consummating event that is forever with us.
None of these things have anything to do with post mortem torment. And such is a complete misreading of the scriptures.
So you will find eternal judgment in the Old Testament. But you will not find post mortem torment. Neither Jesus nor the Apostles nor the biblical writers taught a post mortem torment, but an historical legacy. [Yes I know that there is one parable which is very much missunderstood.]
So the old covenant man was completely forgiven but lost his historical place in the transition of the ages in AD 70.
This was the promise of everlasting destruction as foretold in the OT scriptures:
Jer 23:38 But since ye say, The burden of the LORD; therefore thus saith the LORD; Because ye say this word, The burden of the L...ORD, and I have sent unto you, saying, Ye shall not say, The burden of the LORD;
Jer 23:39 Therefore, behold, I, even I, will utterly forget you, and I will forsake you, and the city that I gave you and your fathers, [and cast you] out of my presence:
Jer 23:40 And I will bring an everlasting reproach upon you, and a perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten.
Such did not mean that they were not "forgiven" of sins. Rather it is audience relevant to their legacy.
Eze 16:61 Then thou shalt remember thy ways, and be ashamed, when thou shalt receive thy sisters, thine elder and thy younger: and I will give them unto thee for daughters, but not by thy covenant.
Eze 16:62 And I will establish my covenant with thee; and thou shalt know that I [am] the LORD:
Eze 16:63 That thou mayest remember, and be confounded, and never open thy mouth any more because of thy shame, when I am pacified toward thee for all that thou hast done, saith the Lord GOD.
And so this was fully accomplished or fulfilled in AD 70:
Dan 9:24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.
The point being that, which which had headed up the Adam status in old covenant times did pass away. The old could not get into the new. This was the “threat” of the kingdom at hand for the old covenant creature.
And so then:
Rev 11:15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become [the kingdoms] of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.
We are now in the legacy of Christ.
By Barry J DuPont