“These will go away into eternal punishment, (Matthew 25:46)
“And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. (Revelation 14:11, 20:10)
To begin with, this 1st series will look at the core of the issue. (Actually, the crux of the issue of God’s plan to save all men is the Cross [pun intended!] 😉 but that must wait for the 3rd series.) It all boils down to the question; do the 2 words (and their various forms) in the Bible that we have translated as “eternal” and “forever” (or “everlasting” depending upon the translation) actually mean never ending, or is it possible that they could mean something else? If these words actually DO consistently convey the idea of endlessness, then I have a poor (if not nonexistent) foundation for my belief. However, if it can be shown that these words carry another meaning, as I hope to show, and show very clearly, then the counter is true. Upon these 2 words the opposing doctrines will stand or fall.
The word “forever” is a translation of the Greek noun – aion. The word “eternal” is a translation of the Greek adjective – aionios (some use the plural form aionian). I hope to clarify these 2 words through various avenues in the next few blogs. Therefore I thought it would be helpful to give an outline of what I will be sharing in this 1st series. This way you can see right from the start what is necessary in determining the true meaning of these Greek words.
Outline of 1st Series
Avenue 1 – The definition and translation by various Scholars of the words aion and aionios, as well as their use in Scripture.
I will show how various scholars define these words and/or translate them in various versions of the Bible.
I will also show the manifold usage of these words in the Bible itself. Such that, even if we did not have scholars to define these words, we could easily glean its meaning from how they are used in the Bible itself.
Avenue 2 – The common understanding of these words during the time of Jesus. How were these words were used in Classical Greek Literature, the Septuagint, ancient Historians and Philosophers during Jesus’ time?
I will show how the language of the New Testament is taken and understood from the Greek translation of the Old Testament Scriptures – the Septuagint. Greek was the universal language at that time and the Septuagint was the common translation of the Old Testament.
I will also give many examples/verses from the Septuagint that use the words aion and aionios to show that they rarely, if ever, signified endlessness.
I will further show, through many examples, how much of the Greek literature outside of the Bible employed these words, and how many of the Classical Greek writers, historians and philosophers understood and employed these words. This will further help us clarify aion and aionios in the Greek language during the time of Christ and His Apostles.
Avenue 3 – The Greek words that actually DO mean endless, along with the Bible’s use of these words.
I will show some examples of Greek words that do mean endless.
I will also show how these words were used in Greek literature during the time of Christ.
I will further give examples from the Bible itself where these words are used and point out how they are never used in connection with the wicked, hell, or judgment of any kind (with one exception).
At this point, if you have read the material, it should become painfully clear that there is another meaning to these words. Therefore, whatever one’s view of hell is, it wont be forever. Therefore, a different interpretation of, not only aionian judgment, but also aionian life will definitely be in order. Therefore I will attempt to show how the Jewish culture understood these phrases involving aionios, and what Jesus was conveying to them by using such phrases. This will give us a better understanding of the context when we come across these words in Scripture.
Once we have looked at these various avenues, we will have a firmer foundation upon which to support the belief that God will ultimately save all men. I hope this little outline gives you a sufficient insight into exactly what it will take to truly determine the meaning of these words.
May God bless you as you read.