Like one of the Old Testament prophets, Paul does not hold back. He had a thorough understanding of the Old Testament due to all of the studying he had done throughout his life, and he distills it here in just a few verses. He speaks of the flaming fire, the everlasting destruction, and the glory of Christ's power, giving us an indication that we, too, as New Testament Christians, ought to understand what is coming in detail.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Shock and Awe - and Speed
Notice that II Thessalonians 1:8 says that God will take vengeance on those who do not obey the gospel of Jesus Christ. This idea has a strong tie to the book of Revelation, as the gospel of Jesus Christ is the "good news" that He brought. His good news is not primarily about Himself, but rather it is the message that He brought from His Father about the Kingdom of God being established on earth (Malachi 3:1; Matthew 4:23; 9:35; Mark 1:14-15; Luke 4:43; 8:1; 16:16-17). After the gospel is preached in all the world as a witness to all nations (Matthew 24:14), God will be justified in punishing all of those who reject it. The end of this present world will come when God takes vengeance on those who have heard the gospel message—which, at that point, will be everyone alive on earth—but who refuse to repent and submit to God's rule on earth.
The tie to the book of Revelation is that the unveiling of Jesus Christ, when He removes man from governing the earth and takes that responsibility to Himself, is the fulfillment of the gospel message that He brought. When Christ is revealed, the Kingdom of God will be at hand. Revelation fills in the explosive details of how the governments of this world will come under the rulership of God.
Even though the word gospel means "good news," people typically do not think of the book of Revelation as being encouraging or uplifting. For most professing Christians, the gospel that Jesus preached is not good news. They prefer a gospel that is limited to the forgiveness of their sins. When they hear that God's Kingdom includes repentance and obedience to His laws, they cannot tolerate it (Romans 8:7). For those who will not obey the gospel, the book of Revelation is not good news at all, because it foretells their judgment for idolatry and disobedience.
For true Christians, though, this book is wonderful news! It may not be "good" news in the sense of being pleasant, enjoyable, or attractive. Instead, its news contains a zealous, righteous goodness—an active pursuit of what is good for mankind, a deliberate and forceful bringing to pass of those things that will make life good for everyone. The entire creation will rejoice when the present principalities, powers, and broken governments of men are replaced with a King who will powerfully impose all that is good upon a sin-sick world.
David C. Grabbe
What Is the Book of Revelation?
The day is coming soon when God will punish those who break His laws and reject His Word. When Christ returns to stand upon the Mount of Olives, He will begin settling accounts (Matthew 25:19), bringing with Him both punishment and reward (Isaiah 61:2-3; Matthew 25:31-46).
Christ did not come to judge the world when He was born, lived, and died as a human 2,000 years ago. "He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead" (Acts 10:42) "will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom" (II Timothy 4:1). When confronted by the scribes and Pharisees with the woman caught in adultery, Jesus does not condemn her, but instead tells her to "sin no more" (John 8:1-11). His time as Judge of all had not yet come.
Later, He plainly tells the Pharisees, "I judge no one" (verse 15). Though they were guilty of hypocrisy and many other sins—which He severely castigated them for—He does not judge the Pharisees either. He made no move to stop them from continuing in their evil ways.
The Pharisees completely misunderstood His mission. They did not interpret the prophecies in Isaiah 61:1-3 and Malachi 3:1 to mean that Messiah must make two appearances on earth—at two different times, for two different reasons. When Jesus came the first time 2,000 years ago, He made it very clear that He would come again (Matthew 16:27; Luke 21:27; John 14:3).
In His first appearance, He came to deliver a message from His Father, the good news of the coming Kingdom of God on this earth (Mark 1:14-15). He also came as a Lamb to be sacrificed for our sins and make eternal life possible for us (I Peter 2:21-24). During this appearance, He refrained from judging the world before its time. At His second coming in power and glory as King of kings, one of His major responsibilities will be to judge the world and take vengeance.
Why Should Christians Refuse Jury Duty?
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing 2 Thessalonians 1:8:
1 Corinthians 1:7-8
2 Thessalonians 1:7-10