We read two different translations:

“These will pay the penalty of eternal ruin, separated from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power,” ‭‭2 Thessalonians‬ ‭1:9‬ ‭(NABRE‬‬)


“who will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his strength,” ‭‭2 Thessalonians‬ ‭1:9‬ (‭LEB‬‬)

If the traditional doctrine of eternal conscious torment is true, why do most translators use the word “destruction” instead of “ruin”?

Q: Which is the more accurate translation, knowing the word ὄλεθρον (olethron) is used in 2 Thessalonians 1:9?

2 Answers 2


In the NT the noun ὄλεθρος (olethros) occurs only four times:

  • 1 Cor 5:5 - hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the Day of the Lord.
  • 1 Thess 5:3 - While people are saying, “Peace and security,” destruction will come upon them suddenly, like labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.
  • 2 Thess 1:9 - They will suffer the penalty of eternal destruction, separated from the presence of the Lord and the glory of His might,
  • 1 Tim 6:9 - Those who want to be rich, however, fall into temptation and become ensnared by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction.

According to BDAG we have:

  1. a state of destruction, destruction, ruin, death, in our literature always with a kind of transcendent coloring, eg, 1 Thess 5:3, 1 Tim 6:9, 2 Thess 1:9
  2. act of destruction, destruction, 1 Cor 5:5

I note that in the LXX it is used with a wider set of meanings, but the above is what it means in the NT. Thayer is very similar.

  • Well informed presentation, +1
    – Cork88
    Commented Feb 14, 2022 at 15:06

The word ὄλεθρος has such a diverse meaning, it doesn't clearly tell us the meaning. Passages with "eternal/everlasting punishment/torment" have a clearer meaning (Matt. 25:41,46[κόλασιν αἰώνιον]; John 5:29; Heb. 6:2; Rev. 14:11[no rest, day or night]; 20:10).

Figure 1. Hebrew words ὄλεθρος translated in the LXX (generated with Logos Bible Software). enter image description here

  • Very insightful, appreciate it. +1
    – Cork88
    Commented Feb 14, 2022 at 3:10
  • Here's a highly debated related question: hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/27088/…
    – Perry Webb
    Commented Feb 14, 2022 at 12:47
  • I'm not sure linking the Greek word in question, having several meanings, to Hebrew words with several different Hebrew words translated to the Greek word in question helps clarify the question.
    – bob
    Commented Feb 14, 2022 at 16:09

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