What is biblical justice? How is it different than what we mean by justice today? Pastor and author Tim Keller explained: “In the West, when we think of justice, we think of individual rights. We think justice means freeing individuals from the constrictions of the group, freeing them to do whatever they want regardless of what the group says. Biblical justice has a different trajectory. Biblical justice means interwovenness, interdependence, bringing individuals to see that our stuff isn’t just ours.”
Biblical justice is a concrete Christian concern in the here-and-now, even as we await the perfect justice with the Second Coming of our Savior. There’s no uncertainty here: Persecutors will face judgment; believers will be rewarded. “This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels” (v. 7b). At His first advent, Christ came to be the sacrifice for sin. At His second, He will return as Judge and King!
All unbelievers, those who have refused to accept Christ as Savior, will be punished (vv. 8–9). To say they “do not know God” and “do not obey the gospel” is the same thing, given that Christ is the one and only Way to God (John 14:6). The consequence of their choice is “everlasting destruction” or hell, meaning that they will be “shut out from the presence of the Lord.” While some have used the word “destruction” to argue for annihilationism, it instead indicates “complete ruin.” The fact is that their punishment in the “lake of fire” is eternal (Matt. 25:46; Rev. 20:14 15). And for those who believe? We’ll be worshiping! Christ will be “glorified in his holy people” and “marveled at among all those who have believed” (v. 10).
>> Hell is a difficult doctrine, but just as important as other biblical truths. There’s no need to avoid it. Further Bible study is the way to get your questions answered!
Lord, when we think about eternal judgment, it’s tempting to question your mercy. Strengthen our trust in you and use the horror of hell to fuel our efforts to spread the gospel. You do not want anyone to perish (2 Peter 3:9).