Will There Be Punishment in the Third Resurrection? (Part 2)


In the previous Q&A, we discussed the fact that the incorrigible wicked will be punished and “tormented” in the Third Resurrection. In this context, we quoted passages mainly from the gospel according to Luke and the Book Revelation. But the concept of physical punishment in the Third Resurrection is clearly revealed in other Scriptures as well. Even though some of the following Scriptures may ALSO refer to the disobedient in this day and age and to the time of Christ’s Return, in their ultimate application, all of them picture in vivid detail the ultimate fate of the incorrigible sinner. We should also note that those who qualify for the Kingdom of God will be considered worthy and “ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled” (2 Corinthians 10:6). They will, under Jesus Christ, punish disobedient and rebellious people (compare Revelation 2:26-27; Psalm 149:5-9).

First, let us review passages which describe in general God’s view of rebellious sinners.

Proverbs 12:2 tells us:

“A good man obtains favor from the LORD, But a man of wicked devices He will condemn.”

We read in Psalm 37:28:

“For the LORD loves JUSTICE, And does not forsake His saints; they are preserved FOREVER, but the descendants of the wicked [those who act as the wicked does] shall be CUT OFF.”

Isaiah 41:11-16 states:

“… They shall be as NOTHING. And those who strive with you shall PERISH. You shall seek them and not find them… [they] shall be as NOTHING, As a NONEXISTENT THING… the wind shall carry them away…”

The following passages describe in more detail God’s punishment of rebellious sinners.

Deuteronomy 32:35-43 describes God’s judgement of the wicked in these vivid terms:

“Vengeance is Mine, and recompense… For the day of their calamity is at hand… I will whet My glittering sword [God’s Word is compared with a two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12; Revelation 1:16; 19:15; Isaiah 11:4) which will judge and condemn the wicked], and My hand takes hold on JUDGMENT, I will render vengeance to My enemies, and repay those who HATE Me… My sword shall devour FLESH… Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people, For He will avenge the blood of His servants, And render vengeance to His adversaries…”

Paul makes very clear that God will take vengeance on those who oppose Him and refuse to obey Him. He states in 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9:

“.. it is a RIGHTEOUS thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you… in flaming FIRE taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be PUNISHED with EVERLASTING destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power…”

Jude 14-15 adds:

“… Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to EXECUTE JUDGMENT on ALL, to CONVICT ALL who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which UNGODLY SINNERS have spoken against Him.”

We read in 2 Peter 2:9-21:

“… the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation and to RESERVE the UNJUST under PUNISHMENT for the day of JUDGMENT, and especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority. They  are presumptuous, self-willed… and will utterly perish in their own corruption and will receive the wages of unrighteousness… having eyes of adultery and that CANNOT cease from sin… and are ACCURSED children… These are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, to whom the gloom of darkness is reserved forever…  For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them.”

We also read in Hebrews 10:26-31:

“For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain FEARFUL EXPECTATION OF JUDGMENT and fiery INDIGNATION which will DEVOUR the adversaries. Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of HOW MUCH WORSE PUNISHMENT, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?  For we know Him who said, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. And again, ‘the LORD will JUDGE His people.’ It is a FEARFUL THING to fall into the hands of the living God.”

Christ echoes this sentiment in Luke 12:5: “I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell [Gehenna fire]; yes, I say to you, fear Him.”

We must respect God and honor Him, but we have every reason to fear Him and be terrified, if we choose to willfully sin against Him.

A remarkable statement can be found by Christ in one of His parables. Addressing the “evil servant” in Matthew 24:48-51, who is beating his fellow servants and eats and drinks with the drunkards, Christ explains that the master of that servant will come “on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

This passage explains very clearly the fate of the evil servant in the Third Resurrection. This is shown especially by the use of the phrase “weeping and gnashing of teeth,” which is strictly applied to the time of the Third Resurrection. A parallel account can be found in Luke 12:45-46, where the wicked servant will share the fate of “the unbelievers” (compare Revelation 21:8). The Broadman Bible Commentary writes: “… the wicked servant shall be… assigned his proper lot with those accursed forever.”

Both Matthew and Luke use the word “dichotomeo,” which is translated in English as “cut in two” (or “cut asunder” in the Authorized Version). These are the only two places in the New Testament where this expression is used.

The meaning of this phrase has been the object of considerable controversy.

Barnes’ Notes on the Bible writes that “this kind of punishment was anciently practiced. Sometimes it was done by the sword, sometimes by saws. It was practiced among the Chaldeans [Daniel 2:5; Daniel 3:29], and among the Hebrews [2 Samuel 12:31; 1 Samuel 15:33; 1 Kings 3:25; Hebrews 11:37]. It was also practiced by the Egyptians and Romans. It is not, perhaps, here to be taken literally, but signifies that the wicked servant should be severely punished.”

The Expositor’s Greek Testament adds that the “probable meaning is: will cut him in two (so to speak) with a whip = thrash him, the base slave, unmercifully. It is a strong word, selected in sympathy with the master’s rage.”

The Pulpit Commentary states: “This mode of death was inflicted in some cases… the difficulty is that the utter destruction of the malefactor implied in his literal cutting asunder is not consistent with his subsequent consignment to the lot of the hypocrites…  we may take the Lord’s words as applying first to temporal punishment…”

Some have suggested that the expression refers just to separation from the saints or from spiritual grace or from all blessings promised to the righteous. Even though this is clearly included, more than that is conveyed.

Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words gives the following explanation:

“Some take the reference to be the mode of punishment by which criminals and captives were cut in two; others, on account of the fact that in these passages the delinquent is still surviving after the treatment, take the verb to denote to cut up by scourging, to scourge severely, the word being used figuratively. As to [Matthew] 24:51, it has been remarked that the cutting asunder was an appropriate punishment for one who had lived a double life [he will be counted among the hypocrites]. In both passages the latter part of the sentence applies to retribution beyond this life… In the [Septuagint, a translation of the Hebrew Bible into Koine Greek,] the verb is used in Exodus 29:17 of the dividing of the ram as a whole burnt offering at the consecration of the priests… The corresponding noun is found in [Genesis] 15:11, 17; [Exodus] 29:17; [Leviticus ] 1:8; [Ezekiel] 24:4.”

What we can see from these passages is that the wicked servant will receive some kind of physical and psychological punishment, before he is thrown into the lake of fire with the hypocrites and the unbelievers. We might not know exactly what that punishment will be. But it is clear from Scripture that the punishment of the incorrigible sinners will include torment and fearful expectation BEFORE their existence ends. It will be much more severe than just a fleeting moment of annihilation in the Gehenna fire. They will receive “heavy stripes”  or “scourging”… including stripes of a psychological nature.

When those who commit the unpardonable sin stand before the Judgement Seat of Christ, they will be confronted with the terrible deeds which they had committed, but they will not feel any remorse. They will refuse to repent of their wicked conduct. Filled with wrath and hate, they will hear Jesus Christ’s words condemning them to punishment and eternal death, and they will be tormented by the realization that they ARE going to receive “stripes” and that they will be subsequently destroyed forever. Because of this, their hate and rage will even increase. Their wicked nature and conduct will be manifested in front of everyone. There will never be any doubt about God’s unfailing justice and just punishment.

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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