2 Peter 2:9 – Punishment Before Judgment

By Wayne Jackson

Anyone who respects the authoritative instruction of the Bible acknowledges the fact that the wicked will be cast into hell (Gehenna) following the Day of Judgment (see Matthew 25:46). Some, however, labor under the erroneous impression that between the time of death and the judgment, the wicked will “sleep” in a state of complete unconsciousness. The doctrine is called “soul-sleeping.” But 2 Peter 2:9 is an antidote against that notion.

First, it is important to observe that a false impression is conveyed by the King James Version. That translation reads as follows. “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished.” Actually, that does not reflect the meaning of the original language. The Greek text suggests the idea of keeping the unrighteous “under punishment [present tense form — continual punishment] unto [eis — looking towards] the day of judgment.” The punishment commences at the point of death. The narrative concerning the rich man and Lazarus is clear evidence of this (cf. Luke 16:19ff). The New King James Version has corrected this deficiency Thus block off this passage and record this note: Punishment prior to judgment; see ASV, NKJV.

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About the Author

Wayne Jackson has written for and edited the Christian Courier since its inception in 1965. He has also written several books on a variety of biblical topics including The Bible and Science, Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth, The Bible on Trial, and a number of commentaries. He lives in Stockton, California with his dear wife, and life-long partner, Betty.