by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 3 Study # 5 September 27, 2015 Dayton, Texas
7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,
8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:
9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;
10 When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.
1901 ASV Translation:
7 and to you that are afflicted rest with us, at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with the angels of his power in flaming fire,
8 rendering vengeance to them that know not God, and to them that obey not thegospel of our Lord Jesus:
9 who shall suffer punishment, [even] eternal destruction from the face of the Lord and from the glory of his might,
10 when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be marvelled at in all them that believed (because our testimony unto you was believed) in that day.
I. His Angels of Power.
A. The attendance of powerful angels is a consistent theme associated with the coming of the Son from heaven (Matthew 24:30-31; 25:31; Luke 2:13).
B. The question is "Why?" What does God need with "angels of power"?
1. "Angels of power" is a significant issue of "impression": Zacharias was terrified when he saw Gabriel beside the altar in the temple (Luke 1:11).
2. But the bottom line is the question of why Jesus comes "with powerful angels"; what need has He of such escorts?
a. He, Himself, does not need them. He is the omnipotent God.
b. But the creatures of His creation need them because they are significantly deficient in understanding and only gain understanding by the means open to them by virtue of their created state. They have "eyes to see" but often do not gain understanding by them. They have "ears to hear", but, again, often do not gain understanding by them. They have the capacity to reason and think, but this capacity is often short-circuited so that they do not gain understanding by it. The visual of powerful angels is God's way of getting us to a level of understanding that we do not currently possess.
c. The use of intermediate agents is fundamental to what the revelation of God in the Bible reveals about God's methods of dealing with His creation. He could do all things by Himself and immediately, but He often gives tasks to others and allows time to be a part of the overall process.
II. The Flaming Fire.
A. This is a fundamental description of God's "angels" (Hebrews 1:7).
1. The "messengers" (angels) are made "spirits". The issue of "spirit" in the Bible is "the source of activity". Making His messengers "spirits" strongly implies that those messengers are agents of significant activity.
2. The "ministers" (angels) are made "flames of fire". The "ministers" are creatures who do certain "works" because of their position in their particular setting (Romans 13:6). As such, they are fundamentally constituted "flames of fire". This strongly suggests the most basic issues of "fire", one of which is "destructive purification". The "destructive" element is the consuming of anything which is fuel for fire; the "purification" element is the outcome of a mixed composition, including things that can be burned and things that cannot, being subjected to "fire".
B. This is also a significant aspect of the description of the Son of God descending from heaven (His eyes are as a flame of fire -- Revelation 1:14; 2:18; and 19:12). According to Revelation 19:11, This Son is said to "judge in righteousness", perhaps an oblique reference to His command to "judge righteous judgment" in John 7:24. Also is the idea of "searching the reins and hearts" is associated with Him who hath eyes like a flame of fire in Revelation 2:23 as well as the idea of retribution.
C. In a near association is the concept of the Spirit at Pentecost being visualized as "cloven tongues of fire". Since unlearned speech in languages foreign to the knowledge of the disciples was the direct result of this image, we are more or less compelled to remember the tower of Babel as a judgment resulting in the lack of understanding so that the coming of the Spirit is a reversal of Babel resulting in universal understanding. Thus "tongues" of "fire" become speech that reveals a "judgment" upon Israel and a revelation of grace to the nations.
III. The Distribution of Retribution.
A. The revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven is primarily about His "giving retribution to those who are qualified for it by their ignorance of God and rebellion against the Gospel of our Lord Jesus".
B. The issues of retribution are generalized into two: they "know not God" and they "do not submit to the Gospel".
1. The "knowledge" issue is built off of the verbal idea of "seeing" something and, consequently, drawing legitimate conclusions. These under judgment refuse to "see"; i.e., they refuse to think rationally because of their antagonism toward the things of God.
2. The "submission" issue is, likewise, built off of a verbal idea of hearing things that are absolutely objectionable to the hearers.
3. Thus, the "eyes" and the "ears" are completely eliminated as sources of true information and the ability to "reason" is, thus, severely compromised. As noted above, creatures need to have sensory perception in order to learn. Powerful angels can be seen and heard, not tasted, smelled, or touched.