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We read:

“then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment,” ‭‭II Peter‬ ‭2:9‬ ‭NKJV‬

“– if so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from their trials, and to reserve the unrighteous for punishment at the day of judgment,” ‭‭2 Peter‬ ‭2:9‬ ‭NET‬‬

“then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from a trial, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment,” ‭‭2 Peter‬ ‭2:9‬ ‭NASB2020‬‬

Is Peter saying the unrighteous are being punished actively or are awaiting punishment at the day of judgment? According to the Greek?

I have been studying the doctrine of Hell recently & I am curious to the active vs passive of “kept under punishment” phrase.

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2 Peter 2:9 is a much debated verse because it appears to be self-contradictory. The central issue here is how to translate the verb κολαζομένους which is literally either:

  • being punished, or, (passive voice)
  • punishing themselves (middle voice)

In either case, how are we to reconcile this with the fact that people are being kept for the day of judgement? Either the judgement is still future or it has already occurred:

  • If the judgement has already occurred, then why are people being kept for the day of judgement?
  • If the judgement is still future, why are people being punished?

Hence the disparity in translations. The resolution to this is partly supplied by V4:

For if God did not spare the angels having sinned, but having cast them down to Tartarus, in chains of gloomy darkness, delivered them, being kept for judgment;

Again, an ambiguous verse should not be used to interpret a a less clear verse, but always the other way around. Therefore, I prefer (on the basis of Benson's comments and others) the type of translation supplied by BSB, NIV, KJV, etc, as:

if all this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment.

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  • Appreciate the insight, +1.
    – Cork88
    Commented Feb 8, 2022 at 0:29

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