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The Destiny of the Righteous

But righteous people are protected by God and will never suffer torment. (A)It is a foolish mistake to think that righteous people die and that their death is a terrible evil. They leave us, but it is not a disaster. In fact, the righteous are at peace. It might appear that they have suffered punishment, but they have the confident hope of immortality. 5-6 (B)Their sufferings were minor compared with the blessings they will receive. God has tested them, like gold in a furnace, and found them worthy to be with him. He has accepted them, just as he accepts the sacrifices which his worshipers burn on the altar.

When God comes to reward the righteous, they will blaze out against the wicked like fire in dry straw. They will rule over nations and peoples, and the Lord will be their king forever. Those who have put their trust in God will come to understand the truth of his ways. Those who have been faithful will live with him in his love, for he is kind and merciful to the ones whom he has chosen.[a]

The Destiny of the Wicked

10 The ungodly, however, will get the punishment their wicked thoughts deserve, because they rebelled against the Lord and ignored what was right.[b] 11 A man who has no use for wisdom or education has a miserable life in store for him. He has nothing to hope for. His labors are useless, and he will never accomplish anything worthwhile. 12 The woman he marries will turn out to be irresponsible, and his children will go wrong.

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  1. Wisdom 3:9 Some manuscripts add and he protects his own people (see 4.15).
  2. Wisdom 3:10 what was right; or righteous people.

The Destiny of the Righteous

But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God,
and no torment will ever touch them.
In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to have died,
and their departure was thought to be a disaster,
and their going from us to be their destruction;
but they are at peace.
For though in the sight of others they were punished,
their hope is full of immortality.
Having been disciplined a little, they will receive great good,
because God tested them and found them worthy of himself;
like gold in the furnace he tried them,
and like a sacrificial burnt offering he accepted them.
In the time of their visitation they will shine forth,
and will run like sparks through the stubble.
They will govern nations and rule over peoples,
and the Lord will reign over them forever.
Those who trust in him will understand truth,
and the faithful will abide with him in love,
because grace and mercy are upon his holy ones,
and he watches over his elect.[a]

The Destiny of the Ungodly

10 But the ungodly will be punished as their reasoning deserves,
those who disregarded the righteous[b]
and rebelled against the Lord;
11 for those who despise wisdom and instruction are miserable.
Their hope is vain, their labors are unprofitable,
and their works are useless.
12 Their wives are foolish, and their children evil;

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  1. Wisdom 3:9 Text of this line uncertain; omitted by some ancient authorities. Compare 4.15
  2. Wisdom 3:10 Or what is right

Chapter 3

The Hidden Counsels of God[a]

A. On Suffering[b]

The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God,(A)
    and no torment shall touch them.
They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead;
    and their passing away was thought an affliction
    and their going forth from us, utter destruction.
But they are in peace.(B)
For if to others, indeed, they seem punished,
    yet is their hope full of immortality;
Chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed,
    because God tried them
    and found them worthy of himself.(C)
As gold in the furnace, he proved them,
    and as sacrificial offerings[c] he took them to himself.(D)
In the time of their judgment[d] they shall shine
    and dart about as sparks through stubble;(E)
They shall judge nations and rule over peoples,
    and the Lord shall be their King forever.(F)
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.
10 But the wicked shall receive a punishment to match their thoughts,[e]
    since they neglected righteousness and forsook the Lord.
11 For those who despise wisdom and instruction are doomed.(H)
Vain is their hope, fruitless their labors,
    and worthless their works.(I)
12 Their wives are foolish and their children wicked,
    accursed their brood.(J)

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  1. 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.
  2. 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. 3:6 Offerings: the image is that of the burnt offering, in which the victim is completely consumed by fire.
  4. 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.
  5. 3:10 To match their thoughts: a fate as empty as that which they describe in 2:1–5.

But the souls of the just are in the hand of God, and the torment of death shall not touch them.

In the sight of the unwise they seemed to die: and their departure was taken for misery:

And their going away from us, for utter destruction: but they are in peace.

And though in the sight of men they suffered torments, their hope is full of immortality.

Afflicted in few things, in many they shall be well rewarded: because God hath tried them, and found them worthy of himself.

As gold in the furnace he hath proved them, and as a victim of a holocaust he hath received them, and in time there shall be respect had to them.

The just shall shine, and shall run to and fro like sparks among the reeds.

They shall judge nations, and rule over people, and their Lord shall reign for ever.

They that trust in him, shall understand the truth: and they that are faithful in love shall rest in him: for grace and peace is to his elect.

10 But the wicked shall be punished according to their own devices: who have neglected the just, and have revolted from the Lord.

11 For he that rejecteth wisdom, and discipline, is unhappy: and their hope is vain, and their labours without fruit, and their works unprofitable.

12 Their wives are foolish, and their children wicked.

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