Does the Greek Word 'aion' Mean Eternal In Scripture

 

 

When those guys come knocking DECLARING their newly found understanding that the greek word aion cannot mean ETERNAL/Infinate/etc... I just finished this rebuttal you might find useful for your library. 

The prophecy in Matthew 25:46 illustrates two examples of the use of the greek word 'aionios'.  At the end of the great tribulation, Jesus Christ will divide the Gentile tribulation survivors into two groups. Then He will say, "And these shall go away into everlasting (aionios) punishment: but the righteous into life eternal (aionios)."  It should be noted that in this particular Passage, the English words "everlasting" and "eternal" are each translated from the same Greek word "aionios".  Thus, the word "aionios" is also used to describe the punishment of the damned and lost.   For example, Matthew 25:41 says, "Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting (aionios) fire, prepared for the devil and his angels ....

Other examples are Matthew 18:8, Mark 3:29, 2 Thessalonians 1:9, Hebrews 6:2, and Jude 1:7.  Also, the word "aionios" is used over and over to describe the life of those who receive Salvation.  Romans 6:23 says, "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal (aionios) life through Jesus Christ our Lord."  Other examples are John 6:47, Acts 13:48, Romans 5:21, 1 Timothy 1:16, Titus 3:7, 1 John 5:11, and Jude 21. Therefore, those who insist that punishment in the Lake of Fire for the wicked will one day end, must also argue that the life of those who are Saved will one day end, as well.

Thus, the word "aionios" is used some 71 times in the Bible, and every time it is used, it is describing something that is ETERNAL.  Moreover, the word "aionios" is also used to describe the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 9:14), Salvation (Hebrews 5:9), Redemption (Hebrews 9:12), the Kingdom of Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:11), the honor and power of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 6:16), God's glory (1 Peter 5:10), and our immortal bodies that we will one day receive (2 Corinthians 5:1). To this end, those who insist that the punishment in the Lake of Fire for the wicked will one day end, must equally also argue that all of these will one day terminate as well.

Finally Romans 16:26 says, "But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting (aionios) God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith ...." The word "aionios" is used here as an adjective directly describing Yahweh God Himself.   Thus, those who argue that the Punishment in the Lake of Fire for the wicked will one day end, must equally also argue that God Himself will one day cease to exist! 

Going forward, if the greek PLURAL word aionas (or its grammatical derivatives) is directly ATTACHED to the subject/object of God/Jesus/Holy Spirit/Heaven etc. it represents in most cases INFINATE AGES... Ages that just keeps on coming without end?  For example,

1 Timothy 1:17 (KJV)
17 Now unto the King eternal, (aionon) immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever (aionas) and ever (aionon). Amen.

Hebrews 9:14 (KJV)
14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the
eternal (aioniou) Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Please consider the Lord's Prayer that Jesus taught the Disciples to Pray. 

Matthew 6:9 (KJV)
9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our
Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

Matthew 6:10 (KJV)
10
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

Matthew 6:13 (KJV) T
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever (aionas). Amen.

Is the KINGDOM of God, the POWER of God, and the GLORY of God ETERNAL or FINITE?

In the above Passage the greek aionon/aionas are ATTACHED to God.  Therefore, this use of aionon/aionasis here implies ETERNAL.  Moreover, Rev. 1:18 Reveals that Jesus is NOW ALIVE for EVERMORE.

Revelation 1:18 (KJV)
18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for
evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.

Meanwhile, Luke 1:33 and Isaiah 9:7 would beg to differ with you.  NO END used in direct reference to the Kingdom of Jesus in Lk. 1:33 is NOT aion, but rather the greek words 'ouk estai telos - NOT SHALL BE FINISH' (greek Textus Receptus).  

 Luke 1:33 (KJV)
33 And he shall reign over the
house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

Isaiah 9:7 (KJV)
7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be
no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

Therefore, unless otherwise definably constrained and limited by context, if the PLURAL of AGES is used (aionas) then it is NOT possible to determine the length of the AGE and just how many of the AGES there actually are or have been - Ages of Ages (INFINITY and Eternal by default)? 

Meanwhile, it then can be said that the definition of the greek word aion is therefore figuratively LIQUID, and assumes the definition/shape of whatever Contextual Biblical mold into which it is poured. 

To this end, if it is ATTACHED to a noun/subject/object that is ETERNAL then its definition becomes ETERNAL.  Likewise, if it is ATTACHED to a subject/object that is TEMPORAL then its definition becomes TEMPORAL. 

Moreover, if the greek word aion or its grammatical derivatives are used, their definition CANNOT be a FIXED meaning, that can be generalized consistently in each and every case where the word appears - it remains LIQUID waiting to poured into a mold, which is determined by the CONTEXT of the Scripture and the 'subject/object' to which it is ATTACHED.  The definition of the noun/subject/object actually determines the definition of aion. 

Thus, the TIME of the AGE(s) is determined, as stated by the 'subject/object' to which it is ATTACHED.  For example, If we are talking about Jesus and His earthly Ministry or the Millennial, then the AGE becomes constrained by the Time frame of this existing AGE we now live in, respectively if the AGE is suggested to be the Millennial reign of Christ, then the Time frame of the AGE becomes one-thousand years. 

However, if the AGE(s) is in reference to the ETERNAL existence of the LIVING CHRIST as in Rev. 1:18 the TIME becomes ETERNAL from His death on the Cross (including this Age and the Millennial, but per this particular Scripture not before the Cross - was dead) - Ages of the Ages.  God DOUBLES what He CONFIRMS, i.e. I AM that I AM, et.

Revelation 1:18 (KJV)
18 I am he that liveth, and
was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.

Meanwhile, if we are referring to the ETERNAL INFINITY of GOD Himself, then the TIME of the past/present/future will be the AGE(s), UNLESS otherwise constrained by Scriptural CONTEXT. 

Therefore, in one case aion (or its derivatives) may be one SINGLE well defined AGE or it may be ETERNAL - as stated, it depends on the mold it is poured into (the subject/object it is ATTACHED). 

Please consider this Scriptural example below and what some who do not think that the greek word 'aion' should be translated to mean ETERNAL, etc. 

Mark 10:29-30
And Jesus answered and said, "Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's, But he shall receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions, and, in the world (aion) to come, aionios-life."
 

"Take a look at how the translators swapped "world" for "aion" into in the above verse. However, they were left with an interesting dilemma. They translated aion as world, but they obviously could not stay consistent and translate "aionios" as "worldly." Worldly life? Yikes! So, they got inventive. They stayed with "world," but stretched aionios into "eternal." After all, they had a preconceived doctrine to adhere to." 

The resolve to this concern above is in Jn. 3:16, 3:36, et al, which reveals the SINGULAR (aionion - age) ATTACHED to an ETERNAL subject/object - those that believe...  This is the ENDLESS Life in union with Christ, referenced by Dr. Vincient.  This ETERNAL duration of TIME cannot be denied those who are in Christ and Believe - hence, the singular aionion takes on the Eternal definition (mold) because of the object to which it is ATTACHED (poured into).  Moreover, the translated word WORLD in Mk. 30 could easily have been left as the SINGULAR (aioni - AGE).  However, when one uses the definition WORLD or AGE it applies to ALL of the Scripturally defined constructs and TIME constraints respecting that World/Age.  Therefore, aioni is referring to a PLACE and its prescribed Time, and the respective aionion is referring to a Scripturally defined LIFE and its prescribed Time - BOTH are indeed ETERNAL. 

John 3:16 (KJV)
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son,
that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting (aionion) life.

John 3:36 (KJV)
36
He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting (aionion) life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

Going forward, NO WHERE in the above Passage of Mk. 10:30 does it EVER suggest that the AGE To Come was to be contiguous and immediately sequential to the AGE for which Jesus was currently Ministering.  The AGE To Come is to be determined by the antecedent Scriptural Context referencing the KINGDOM OF GOD.

 Mark 10:25 (KJV)
25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to
enter into the kingdom of God - NOT the Millennial.

Meanwhile, Dr. Vincient (a source whom many cite on this matter) suggests the following: 

"Dr. Vincent had this to say about "eternal life" as it's spoken of in the Bible:  Ζωη αιωνιος eternal life, which occurs 42 times in the N.T., but not in LXX, is not endless life, but life pertaining to a certain age or aeon, or continuing during that aeon. I repeat, life may be endless. The life in union with Christ is endless, but the fact is not expressed by αιωνιος . . . (p. 60, vol. IV, Vincent's Word Studies of the New Testament)  As Dr. Vincent explains, these words do not convey the concept of "eternity" or "endlessness" as we understand it... There is one aeon of a human life, another of the life of a nation, another of a crow's life, another of an oak's life. The length of the aeon depends on the subject to which it is attached... As Dr. Vincent stated in the quote above, this does NOT preclude some who are raised to live in that kingdom from having "everlasting life" as we commonly understand it..." 

Seeing that Dr. Vincent, et. al, do not accept the greek word anion as pertaining to perpetuity/eternity/endlessness, etc., but rather FINITE TIME, WHAT word does HE or yourself for that matter offer as a viable greek substitute for UNENDING TIME, because there are indeed Scriptures that REQUIRE the meaning of ETERNITY (see below).  For example, what greek word addresses the PERPETUAL TIME immediately following the Millennial Reign of Christ? 

There are two greek words 'aidios/aidiois' used in Rom. 1:20 and Jude 1:6 that do mean Eternity/Eternal.  However, seeing that 99.8 percent of the NT employs the greek word 'aion' and its various derivatives, it is then incumbent on us to determine with unquestionable accuracy just what they actually mean with respect to the Scriptures to which they are applied.

Meanwhile, Dr. Vincent emphatically declares... these words do not convey the concept of "eternity" or "endlessness" as we understand it... however, he then contradicts himself by stating... I repeat, life may be endless. The life in union with Christ is endless... Although, Dr. Vincent OFFERS NO alternate applicable Biblical greek word that would satisfy his mandated ENDLESS Life in union with Christ, clearly revealed by Scripture.   

Why then would the greek Biblical Text writers purport grammatical language for subjects and objects to which they had NO grammatical words, i.e. Eternity, IF the greek word aion could not be suggested to be ETERNAL?  Moreover, to reiterate Dr. Vincent declares that The length of the aeon depends on the subject to which it is attached...  What then does the length of the 'aeon' become when attached to descriptive Biblical characteristics of God/Christ/Heaven, etc., (see below) - probably just what earlier greek scholars had correctly determined long before Dr. Vincent... it implies Eternity.   

Here is a list of Scriptures that is not exhaustive by any means that applies to the greek word anion with an attached ETERNAL object. 

John 6:68 (KJV)
68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.

1 John 5:11 (KJV)
11 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.

1 John 5:20 (KJV)
20 And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.

Ephesians 2:7 (KJV)
7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 3:21 (KJV)
21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

Galatians 1:5 (KJV)
5 To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Philippians 4:20 (KJV)
20 Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

1 Timothy 1:17 (KJV)
17 Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

2 Timothy 4:18 (KJV)
18 And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Hebrews 13:21 (KJV)
21 Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Revelation 1:6 (KJV)
6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

The term “for ever and ever” is used 46 times in the Old and New Testaments.  Not every time is it derived from the same Hebrew or Greek words.  That is a small enough number that we can take the time to be a little technical.  

We can categorize all of them on the basis of the way they are worded in Hebrew or Greek. 

We will begin with a review of the various words used for ‘EVER’ in these passages.  As the average reader could not read the original words, I will refer to those words by their “number” in the most common Greek and Hebrew lexicons today, those found in the back of Strong’s Concordance.  For this reason these numbers are called “Strongs numbers.”   

And under each of these words I will note how that word is used in Scripture. Of particular interest to Seventh-day Adventists is the question “does ‘EVER’ mean ‘ETERNITY’?” 

Words Translated “Ever” in the 46 Passages 

Word # 05769    Used 439 times in the Old Testament.

Incidents where it is clear that this word does not denote an eternal volume of time include Genesis 6:4 where it is translated ‘of old’. An interesting use is the first use - Genesis 3:22.  Here those that eat of the tree of life 'live for ever.'  For this reason Adam and Eve were removed from the garden. Young's Literal Translation renders 05769 most consistently as ‘age-during.’  The Rotherham translation renders it as ‘age-abiding’ and in the past as ‘age-past.’  

Word # 05703    Used 49 times in the Old Testament.

Incidents where it is clear that it does not denote an eternal volume of time include Hab. 3:6 where the ‘everlasting’ mountains are scattered by Christ’s coming.  In Amos 1:11 the descendants of Esau are condemned for having kept their anger against their brother ‘for ever.’  Rotherham often renders it “to futurity” or “perpetually.” 

The phrase “for ever and ever” is derived from these two Hebrew words almost every time it shows up in the old Testament.  The other three Old Testament occurrences use three other words.  

Word # 05331    Isaiah 34:10. 

This word is used 43 times in the Old Testament. It is often used in parallel with # 05769 and so should not be much distinguished from it.  It has some usages that are unrelated to the question - “victory,” “strength”- and is often used in questions and in negatives. 

05957   Daniel 2:20; 7:18. 

This is the Aramaic of the Hebrew word # 05769.  It is used uniquely in Ezra and Daniel where it occurs 20 times in uses very similar to the way that # 05769 is used elsewhere. 

05705   Daniel 2:20; 7:18. 

This is the Aramaic of the Hebrew word # 05704 (not a typo for # 05703). It is used uniquely in Ezra and Daniel where it occurs 32 times. Only when used in conjunction with # 05957 does it denote ‘ever.’ In other passages it is translated “until” “season” “end” and in various other ways that designate a limited time. 

So these are the five words translated “EVER” in Old Testament phrases “for ever and ever.”  The word “EVER” is in the phrase twice and the following graph shows how the phrase is formed in Hebrew/Aramaic. 

Formulations of These Five Words Translated “For Ever and Ever 

         05769  05769                  I Ch. 16:36; 29:10; Neh. 9:5; Jer. 7:7; 25:5 

         05769  05703
                  Ex. 15:18; Ps. 9:5; 10:16; 21:4; 45:6, 17; 48:14; 52:8; 119:44; 145:1, 2, 21; Dan. 12:3; Mic. 4:5; Ps. 111:8;
148:6; Isa. 30:8 

         05331   05331                 Isa. 34:10 

         05957   05705   05957    Dan. 2:20 

         05705   05957   05957    Dan. 7:18 

As noted initially, we would not in English write “eternity and eternity” or “to everlasting and everlasting.”  These would seem redundant. We do, however, say “for ever and ever” and have probably picked this up from the Bible.  

But in the Bible it appears that this is no redundancy. The individual words “EVER” do not, of themselves, necessarily indicate eternity.  The habit of using them in reduplication is enough to demonstrate the truthfulness of this assertion.  Rotherham and Young's Literal (two of the most literal translations available) translate these two formulas as follows: 

Rotherham
05769-05769                  “one age even to/unto another” “age even unto age” “age to age”

05769-05703                  “age-abiding and beyond”; “futurity, to/unto times age-abiding”
                                       “perpetually - age abiding”

Young’s Literal
05769-05769                  “from the age [and] unto the age” “from age even unto age”

05769-05703                  “to the age, and for ever”; “age-during - and for ever”; “for a latter day…unto the age”; “for ever to the age” 

What Kind of Persons or Things or Events Last “For Ever and Ever”? 

The subjects of these formulas - the persons or objects that were to last “for ever and ever” are differentiated below. The designation 'A' represents the first formula, 'B' the second. 'B2' represents the reversed order pairs. 'C' and 'D' represent Daniel 2 and 7 respectively. 
 

Jehovah                          

Jehovah                         

Blotting Out                   

Gift of Life                       

Jehovah’s Throne         

Jehovah’s Praise            

Jehovah’s Praise           

Jehovah’s Identity          

My Trust in Jehovah       

Commandments              

Law Keeping                   

Heavens                                  

Record of Rebellion        

Gift of Canaan                  

Evangelists; Stars           

Right-Living                      

Saints’ Reign
            

A           I Ch. 16:36; 29:10; Neh. 9:5

B           Ex. 5:18; Ps. 10:16

B           Ps. 9:5

B           Ps. 21:4

B           Ps. 45:6 

B           Ps. 45:17; 145:1, 2, 21

C           Dan. 2:20

B           Ps. 48:14

B           Ps. 52:8

B-2        Ps. 111:8

B           Ps. 119:44 

B-2        Ps. 148:6

B-2        Isa. 30:8

A           Jer. 7:7; 25:5

B           Dan. 12:3

B           Mic. 4:5

D           Dan. 7:18 
 

In summary: The Old Testament formulations translated “for ever and ever” always refer to Jehovah, His qualities, His work, or the Saints. They are often stated in terms of contrast with the wicked and the works of men - both of which are transitory.