Struggling to grasp this verse a bit and its consequences. Can you help? I have often felt that the descriptions of hell throughout the Bible do not paint a clear picture on the debate: is hell perpetual torment or not? In the past I have learned to hedge my bets a little and talk of separation from God (what Jesus suffered on the cross). This form of judgement seems perfectly in line with what some describe awaits those unrepentant sinners in hell. Yet the lamb is right there, presumably watching (this reminds me also of the mass drownings in Noah).
The plain and normal reading of the Scriptures indicate that eternal damnation is experiential and actual. There is no dispute that Jesus spoke more about eternal damnation in the gospels than he spoke about righteousness and eternal life. If eternal damnation is real, then how or why would the Lamb of God allow perpetual torment for sinners? The Apostle Paul provides the patience of the Lord as the lens through which we are to understand this most difficult of concepts in the Bible.
There are sinners who are condemned, but before their eternal banishment, they had experienced the patience of God. The Apostle Peter mentions this same patience.
Both Peter and Paul recognized that salvation is the result of the patience of the Lord toward sinners. Before the flood hit the earth in the days of Noah, the patience of the Lord continued for 120 years (Gen 6:3) as Peter indicates that the time ran out.
So while he is patient with all sinners, the Lord calls sinners to himself. The Apostle Paul indicated that his salvation resulted from this patience, as he had regarded himself the worst of sinners imaginable.
The Apostle Paul was not only a blasphemer, but as the zealous Pharisee his self-appointed mission was to force Christians to renounce Jesus Christ, and therefore to cause them to blaspheme (Acts 26:11). He was therefore the worst sinner in the world from the perspective of heaven, since his sins were related to blasphemy.
But the patience of God was why he was saved.
In other words, the Lord is in the business of saving sinners, and in the process his patience continues to endure. The following syllogism will help to understand the concept.
The statement is not intended to be tautological, but to provide the nuance that the Lord is patient with all sinners wishing for them all to be saved.
In conclusion, the patience of the Lord applies to all sinners. It is the explicit desire of the Lord that all be saved, because Christ died for all sinners (1 Jn 2:2). Those who are not saved will suffer eternal torment, but not because the Lord was not patient with them at one time.