New American Bible (Revised Edition)
The Hidden Counsels of God[a]
A. On Suffering[b]
1 The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God,(A)
and no torment shall touch them.
2 They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead;
and their passing away was thought an affliction
3 and their going forth from us, utter destruction.
But they are in peace.(B)
4 For if to others, indeed, they seem punished,
yet is their hope full of immortality;
5 Chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed,
because God tried them
and found them worthy of himself.(C)
6 As gold in the furnace, he proved them,
and as sacrificial offerings[c] he took them to himself.(D)
7 In the time of their judgment[d] they shall shine
and dart about as sparks through stubble;(E)
8 They shall judge nations and rule over peoples,
and the Lord shall be their King forever.(F)
9 Those who trust in him shall understand truth,
and the faithful shall abide with him in love:
Because grace and mercy are with his holy ones,(G)
and his care is with the elect.
- 3:1–4:19 The central section of chaps. 1–6. The author begins by stating that immortality is the reward of the righteous, and then in the light of that belief comments on three points of the traditional discussion of the problem of retribution (suffering, childlessness, early death) each of which was often seen as a divine punishment.
- 3:1–12 The author affirms that, for the righteous, sufferings are not punishments but purification and opportunities to show fidelity, whereas for the wicked suffering is truly a punishment.
- 3:6 Offerings: the image is that of the burnt offering, in which the victim is completely consumed by fire.
- 3:7 Judgment: the Greek episkopē is God’s loving judgment of those who have been faithful to him; the same word is used in 14:11 for the punishment of the wicked at God’s judgment. Cf. also v. 13.