Foreverorlongtime

John Gill’s comments on Jeremiah 23:40 are telling. But first, who was he?

2941016._UY630_SR1200,630_Wikipedia says John Gill was an English Baptist pastor, biblical scholar, and theologian who held to a firm Calvinistic soteriology. Born in Kettering, Northamptonshire, he attended Kettering Grammar School where he mastered the Latin classics and learned Greek by age 11

 Jeremiah 23:40  And I will bring an everlasting reproach upon you, and a perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten.’ “

Here are Gill’s comments 

And I will bring an everlasting reproach upon you,…. Which was a just retaliation for reproaching, vilifying, and bantering his word: they who had been honoured so much and so long as the people of God, and their city counted the glory of the earth; yet now both they and that should be the byword of the people, and had in the utmost contempt, and that for ever, or at least a long time, even for a series of ages; which has been their case ever since their destruction by the Romans, and still is; for this cannot be restrained to the short captivity of seventy years in Babylon; though this reproach began then, and they never recovered their former honour and glory;
and a perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten; the same thing in different words, to heighten their disgrace, and confirm the perpetuity of it.

Everlasting reproach upon Jerusalem is not forever…but as Gill says a long time even a series of ages. Let the reader understand that the words translated as everlasting, forever, eternal in the English Bible have been translated WRONGLY!! Gill knew that in his time for he had studied Greek.

What on earth am I saying!?

Look a bit deeper please dear reader. What is the Hebrew word that has been translated as everlasting in this text? It is the word “olam olam”.

Here is the verse in Hebrew with Strong’s numbers.

ונתתיH5414 עליכםH5921 חרפתH2781 עולםH5769 וכלמותH3640 עולםH5769 אשׁרH834 לאH3808 תשׁכח׃H7911 

The Greek old testament uses the comparative word in Greek to olam…which is aionian or aionios from the root word aion from which we get the English eon…or an age of time.

Screenshot from 2019-04-25 07-57-48

“Apostolic Bible Polyglot” – a Septuagint version or Greek translation of Hebrew Old Testament on left —with King James Version on Right.

The Greek Septuagint uses G166 aionios in Jeremiah 23:40 to convey the meaning of the Hebrew Olam olam H5769.

Of G166 Vine says   ” aionios describes duration, either undefined but not endless, as in Rom 16:25; 2Ti 1:9; Tit 1:2; or undefined because endless as in Rom 16:26, and the other sixty-six places in the NT.

The translators use aionios to convey the same meaning as olam olam.

All throughout the old testament olam olam has been given the meaning of forever, everlasting, eternal. Yet it only means that when it is applied to God or His attributes.

Thus a literal version will not twist the meaning of olam to be forever or everlasting. For example The Young’s Literal Translation of Jer 23:40 reads…

Jer 23:40  And I have put on you reproach age-during, And shame age-during that is not forgotten! 

And Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible has

23:40 and will give unto you reproach age–abiding,––and disgrace age–abiding, which shall not be forgotten.

If the reproach God placed upon Israel is truly everlasting then how can Israel ever be saved? How can God’s words to them and indeed to all of us be fulfilled?

Is the sacrifice of Jesus truly able to take away all our reproach for all our sins or not? Not according to the translation teams of most versions of the Bible!!

According to most translators everlasting reproach shall be upon Israel forever!! We know as Christians that that simply cannot be the case for God has said He will restore and save Israel.

Instead of pointing at and examining the translation we make up all kinds of theologies to explain how God can still place reproach everlasting upon Israel and save them at the same time. It is absolute BALONEY!!

We desperately want to protect our assumed definition of olam and aionios as forever and everlasting because the false definition undergirds our ‘Eternal punishment in burning fire’  doctrines. If olam and aionios do not mean everlasting in Jer 23:40…then friends, it does not mean eternal and everlasting in the New Testament either!!

It was St Augustine who was raised in the Latin classics just like John Gill was over a thousand years after him. But the difference was that John Gill was also well trained in Greek…whereas Augustine knew nothing of the language…or Hebrew for that matter.

And it was Augustine who argued that if our salvation is eternal then the punishment allotted to the wicked must also be equal..that is eternal punishment. This is based upon Matthew 25:41 and 46.

But as I have briefly shown you, aionios and olam do not mean everlasting, they properly mean an AGE OF TIME…LONG OR SHORT DURATION BUT NEVER ETERNAL!!

Matthew 25:41 and 46 in Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible.

25:41 Then, will he say unto those also, on his left hand: Depart ye from me, accursed
ones! Into the ageabiding fire, which hath been prepared for the adversary and his
messengers;

25:46 And, these, shall go away, into, age–abiding, correction, but, the righteous, into, age–abiding, life.

Age abiding is not eternal or everlasting. Rotherham knew Greek. Even the so called everlasting life the believer has is not technically eternal. It is the Life of the Age to come…or ‘life pertaining to the age'(aion).

But because the Life we have received is Jesus Christ in us…then that Life is eternal Life for it is the Life of God Himself.

But the correction in Mtt 25:46 is not eternal everlasting correction…..Think!!

God corrects patiently so that the one being corrected changes. The word is not punish….but correct. Do you correct your child…or just punish him? God is Love, and He does correct us…faithfully and patiently…until , as long as it takes, until we repent.

The translators have sown a monstrous tare into God’s word and blasphemed His heart and name. They have caused His children to have the wrong view of Him. They have made of God our loving Father a tyrant, a heartless torturer…which is not the Father, but Lucifer himself.

 

 

You will never come to know your heavenly Father’s heart while you are still terrified of Him.

In the world today controlling what people believe is very important so much so that Governments spend billions of dollars to indoctrinate their citizens through education and media. In Communist China re-education camps are filled with those “wayward’ citizens who happen to believe differently than official government policy. The Government wants people to look ONLY to the Government as their god, their help in time of need, their provider, their mother, their father. Anyone who expresses belief in another God must be re-educated.

Western governments are no different, only the way they re-educate and indoctrinate is different than the Chinese. In the West indoctrination occurs through the education system and through the Media. Controlling what the population believes is the most important factor for any Government in this world. Children are grouped together according to age in school class rooms and are taught official government sanctioned knowledge about the world and themselves and their nation. History is taught which is cherry picked and carefully chosen to support whatever agenda the government has and whatever ideas they want to foster within the population.  The Media outlets main purpose is to control what people are allowed to know and to believe. Every day, even every hour and some stations 24 hours, 7 days a week are reporting the latest news and views from the local level to worldwide. All of their stories are carefully vetted and follow the agenda set by the handlers at high levels.

Thus you will see that all over the world every major news outlet carries the same stories. There may be a hurricane decimating India and millions of people affected by it but the news media ignores it and focuses instead upon the Florida Hurricane. If a white policeman kills a black citizen then it is reported by all news media and discussed on talk-back radio for days and weeks….but if a black man kills a white citizen then no news coverage is given at all. We have had a normal rainfall year in Western Australia but the eastern side of Australia has had a drought. The news media will not ever focus upon the normal year here, instead they link the drought in the east with global warming and climate change. Basically the news media is a propaganda branch of the Government…the Government in turn is an instrument of social control by men and angels higher up than them.

And so the doctrine of Eternal Punishment is also propaganda which is part of a hidden agenda. A propaganda war has been waged since the beginning to steal the hearts of God’s children and to turn them away from finding His love. The teaching of eternal punishment and belief in it is a deadly blinding influence in the heart.

Suppose you never knew your real father

Let us suppose that you never knew your real father. You were brought up by some other ‘father’. While you were growing up you began to hear stories about your real father (without realising he was your father)and these stories naturally formed your views about this man. You have never met him, but you already have definite views about him through the opinions and stories of others. This is what has happened between you and God.

You have been told that God is a God of wrath and anger…..and a God of Love and mercy.

You have heard that there is a Heaven and a Hell and you will go to one of them forever when you die. Further to that– God Himself will see to it that you do go to a lost eternity forever and ever. His wrath is against you now and will stay that way FOREVER if you do not repent….or so we have we been taught.

You do not have to know the Bible to have those ideas planted inside your head. If you have grown up in a western country then you have been exposed to such ideas all your life through stories and movies and media….through popular expressions like “Ohh Go to Hell!!”…or…”He scared the Hell out of me!”..Or, “Heavens above!” Or try the rock bands of the last 50 years….

I’m on the Highway to Hell– by ACDC

Stairway to Heaven – Led Zeppelin

Knocking on heavens door- Bob Dylan

Like a bat outa Hell – Meat loaf….   And many many more!!

The deeply entrenched idea of a heaven above and a Hell beneath is inescapable. Strangely most unbelievers hold very firm views about the afterlife and God. Just read the death notices in any newspaper. They unanimously hope that there is a heaven for uncle Joe to go to….they hope that he has not gone to Hell! They don’t even believe in the Bible or Jesus or God, but they ‘sure as hell'(another propaganda phrase) think a lot about heaven and hell when death comes their way.

John 3:16 Mistranslated

When our minds already contain biased views about a subject or a person it is very hard to see any other option but the one we already hold. But with God all things are possible. The Disciple whom Jesus loved –John the son of Zebedee  wrote the famous verse of Scripture known as John 3:16. This verse would have to be the most read and translated verse of all.

John 3:16  For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. New King James Version

Those who have had the Tare of Eternal Punishment sewn into their psyche all their life immediately interpret this verse to suit that inbuilt bias. In fact that is also what the so called Bible Translators did as well. You will see that they did not translate, but interpreted.  Here is John 3:16 from Literal versions…

John 3:16  For so greatly did God love the world that He gave His only Son, that every one who trusts in Him may not perish but may have the Life of Ages. Weymouth Trans

John 3:16  for God did so love the world, that His Son—the only begotten—He gave, that every one who is believing in him may not perish, but may have life age-during. Young’s Literal Trans

John 3:16 For God, so loved, the world, that, his Only Begotten Son, he gave,––that, whosoever believeth on him, might not perish, but have life age–abiding. Rotherham’s Emphasised Bible -known as the world’s most accurate Bible!
John 3:16 For thus God loves the world, so that He gives His only-begotten Son, that everyone who is believing in Him should not be perishing, but may be having life eonian. Concordant Version
The Greek word αἰώνιος aiōnios(G166) in this verse has been translated as everlasting in most versions, but these 4 versions above have translated it as ages; age during; age abiding; and eonian. The word comes from (G165)αἰών
aiōn. An aion is what we also call an eon..an age. The aion can be long or short or unknown, but it is simply an age of time. Aionios is also a time word!!
James Strong and Thayer may say that it means forever or everlasting but they have a biased view from the beginning. Just let the Bible confirm what it means.
We know that the word Everlasting appears first in the Old Testament. In Hebrew the word in question is olam olam. Strong and others of his era (aion) will tell us that olam means forever or everlasting as in an “everlasting covenant”.
 
Lev 24:8  Every Sabbath he shall set it in order before the LORD continually, being taken from the children of Israel by an everlasting covenant.
 
The word translated as everlasting here is olam olam(Strong’s number H5769) James Strong tells us that olam olam means From H5956; properly concealed, that is, the vanishing point; generally time out of mind (past or future)...he says it comes from another root word he has numbered H5956–‛âlam which he says means to veil from sight, that is, conceal (literally or figuratively). In other words olam olam should not be rendered as everlasting at all. It means an age of time that is concealed or hidden from us. But it is still to do with TIME!! Time is created by God….ETERNITY is not a created thing. Everlasting is not accurate but misleading. The offering of show bread by Aaron and his sons is not EVERLASTING because those who are in Christ Jesus are the new and better priesthood.
 
Heb 7:12  For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law.
 
The Aaronic priesthood and the Levitical Priesthood have come to an end. The Covenant in Leviticus 24:8 was not everlasting, but for an unknown age of time. Unknown to us, but not to God! God knew that Israel would break His ‘everlasting’ covenant and that  Jesus would become the new High Priest of a better priesthood in which we have been made kings and priests to our God.
So do you see that the Bible itself argues against this erroneous translation of olam olam? It never meant everlasting but for an age of time.
 
Thus when the Greek writers of the New Testament chose a word similar to olam olam, to mean ‘for an age’ they chose aion, aionios and aionian which ALL SPEAK OF TIME….not forever or everlasting or eternity.
The wrong translation of these words has caused huge problems….but not for God of course.
 
Have a look  at Leviticus 24 yourself….I will highlight each use of olam olam (H5769) which should mean for an age–but has been translated to mean forever or some other similar word.
 
Lev 24:1  And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 
Lev 24:2  Command the children of Israel, that they bring unto thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamps to burn continually. 
Lev 24:3  Without the vail of the testimony, in the tabernacle of the congregation, shall Aaron order it from the evening unto the morning before the LORD continually: it shall be a statute for ever(should say FOR AN AGE) in your generations. 
Lev 24:4  He shall order the lamps upon the pure candlestick before the LORD continually. 
Bread for the Tabernacle
Lev 24:5  And thou shalt take fine flour, and bake twelve cakes thereof: two tenth deals shall be in one cake. 
Lev 24:6  And thou shalt set them in two rows, six on a row, upon the pure table before the LORD. 
Lev 24:7  And thou shalt put pure frankincense upon each row, that it may be on the bread for a memorial, even an offering made by fire unto the LORD. 
Lev 24:8  Every sabbath he shall set it in order before the LORD continually, being taken from the children of Israel by an everlasting(age abiding or age lasting) covenant. 
Lev 24:9  And it shall be Aaron’s and his sons’; and they shall eat it in the holy place: for it is most holy unto him of the offerings of the LORD made by fire by a perpetual(age lasting or age abiding) statute. 
Is it any wonder that Zionist Christians and the Vatican and Messianic Christians think that Israel today are going to be saved by keeping the old Covenant ways and reinstituting Temple services in a rebuilt temple?? If these things were an everlasting covenant then they must do it. But in fact–it was NOT EVERLASTING AT ALL!! It was only UNTIL the better covenant was ratified by the better sacrifice made by the better HIGH PRIEST JESUS CHRIST OF NAZARETH. Therefore it was not everlasting to begin with…and neither is aionios life everlasting life.
 
Aionios Life as seen in John 3:16 is the Life of the Age—or the Life pertaining to the Age. It is not everlasting. And so, if the Life we have received is a downpayment on the Life of the Age to come when we shall receive an immortal body…then those who do not believe shall not perish FOREVER either. Those who are not believing are perishing now! They are Lost now! Those who believe in Jesus are found now! They are alive now. They have received Life and that life is in His Son—it is called aionian life –or the Life of the age—or life age abiding.
 
No doubt this confuses you. You have such deep propaganda sewn into your mind by the enemy that you cannot see the truth. But God can show you if you are willing to be shown.
 
If you go through the Bible from front to back and see every occurrence of the word forever and everlasting and eternal and instead change it to what it should say–as in the versions I quoted above–you will see that you have been propagandised and have had the completely wrong view of many things.
 
May God richly bless and lead you to see that He is a loving Father who never even thought of burning anyone in a fire.
 
Jer 7:31  And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom(Gehenna in Greek), to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I did not command, nor did it come into My heart
 

Dennis E. Rhodes

 

 

I first read Gerry Beauchemin’s book about 6 or 7 years ago and it confirmed in my spirit what my heavenly Father had been trying to show me. The internal contradiction of a loving heavenly Father who threatens us with eternal rejection if we do not obey Him had been bringing me into a pit of depression and anger, mixed with self accusation and self loathing…turning to despair. Gerry’s book-Hope Beyond Hell is one that God gifted me with in those dark days and set me free!  The other is The Savior of the World series by Preston Eby.


Further Study Links (Below)

From “Hope Beyond Hell” Chapter 1 pages 21-31

By Gerry Beauchemin- Hope Beyond Hell

Aion

The Greek word “aion” (and its adjective “aionian”) is mostly translated “eternal,” “everlasting,” and for “ever” in the King James Version. However, some translations read “age-abiding,” “age-during,” or “eon,” as noted below. “Robert Young, author of the highly respected Young’s Analytical Concordance, in his literal translation of the Bible, always translates them as ‘age’ and never once as ‘everlasting,’ or ‘eternal.’”1

Old Testament (Greek Septuagint)

In History of Opinions on the Scriptural Doctrine of Retribution, Edward Beecher, D.D., pointed out:

The Septuagint is the Greek translation of the Old Testament and was the Bible of the early church. The word aion occurs in it about four hundred times in every variety of combination. The adjective aionios derived from it, is used over one hundred times.…Aion denoted an age, great or small, so the adjective aionios expressed the idea pertaining to or belonging to the aion, whether great or small. But in every case this adjective derives its character and duration from the aion to which it refers.2

In the Septuagint the Greek word, aion, is used to translate the Hebrew word olam. Thus, if we want to get a sense of the N.T. meaning of aion, we need to understand the meaning of olam in the O.T. Numerous passages referring to olam show clearly it cannot mean “never-ending” in those texts. Note these few:

¨ Jonah was in the fish forever [olam]. But only until he left three days later (Jon. 1:17; 2:6).

¨ Sodom’s fiery judgment is eternal [olam]. But only until God returns them to their former state (Ez. 16:53-55; Ju. 7).

¨ A Moabite is forbidden to enter the Lord’s congregation forever [olam]. But only until the 10th generation. (De. 23:3).

¨ Hills are everlasting [olam]. But only until made low and the earth is burned up (Ge. 49:26; De. 33:15; Is. 40:4; 2Pe. 3:10).

¨ Mountains are everlasting [olam]. But only until they are scattered (Hab. 3:6).

¨ A slave serves his master forever [olam]. But only until death ends his servitude (Ex. 21:6).

¨ The Mosaic covenant is everlasting [olam]. But only until it vanishes away (Le. 24:8; He. 8:7-13).

¨ The Aaronic priesthood is everlasting [olam]. But only until the likeness of Melchizedek arises (Ex. 40:15; Nu. 25:13; He. 7:14-22).

¨ These “stones” are to be a memorial forever [olam]. Where are they now (Jos. 4:7)?

¨ The leprosy of Naaman shall cling forever [olam]. But only until his death, of course (2K. 5:27).

¨ God dwells in Solomon’s temple forever [olam]. But only until it is destroyed (2Ch. 7:16; 1K 8:13; 9:3).

¨ Animal sacrifices were to be offered forever [olam]. But only until ended by the work of Christ (2Ch. 2:4; He. 7:11-10:18).

¨ Circumcision was an everlasting [olam] covenant. But only until the new covenant (Ge. 17:9-13; 1Co. 7:19; Ga. 5:6).

¨ Israel’s judgment lasts forever [olam]. But only until the Spirit is poured out and God restores it (Is. 32:13-15).

¨ I will make you an eternal [olam] excellence. But only until many generations (Is. 60:15).

As we can see, olam does not mean “eternal” though it can last a very long time. Also, “forever and ever” is not an accurate translation. How can you add “ever” to “forever?” The literal translation is “for the eon [olam] and further.” This makes sense. The Concordant Version Old Testament is consistent here. Consider two examples:

¨ He [David] asked life from You; You will give it to him: Length of days for an eon [olam] and further (Ps. 21:4 CVOT).

¨ He has founded the earth on its bases. It shall never slip for

the eon [olam] and further (Ps. 104:5 CVOT).

Even passages that do not use the word olam, but signify unchanging, are not so when God is involved. Nothing can deter Him from achieving His purposes. For example:

¨ Israel’s affliction is incurable. But only until the Lord restores health and heals her wounds (Jer. 30:12, 17).

¨ Samaria’s wounds are incurable. But only until the Lord brings them back and restores them (Mic. 1:9; Ez. 16:53).

¨ Egypt and Elam will rise no more. But only until the Lord brings back their captives (Jer. 25:27; 49:39; Ez. 29:14).

¨ Moab is destroyed. But only until the Lord brings back the captives of Moab (Jer. 48:4, 42, 47).

New Testament

Consider the N. T. use of aion. Does “eternity” make any sense in the following passages? To make my point unmistakable, I have translated the Greek word aion with the English word “eternity.”

¨ What will be the sign…of the end of the eternity (Mt. 24:3)?

¨ I am with you…to the end of the eternity (Mt. 28:20).

¨ The sons of this eternity are more shrewd (Lu. 16:8).

¨ The sons of this eternity marry (Lu. 20:34).

¨ Worthy to attain that eternity (Lu. 20:35).

¨ Since the eternity began (Jn. 9:32; Ac. 3:21).

¨ Conformed to this eternity (Ro. 12:2).

¨ Mystery kept secret since the eternity began but now made manifest (Ro. 16:25-26).

¨ Where is the disputer of this eternity (1Co. 1:20)?

¨ Wisdom of this eternity, nor of the rulers of this eternityordained before the eternitieswhich none of the rulers of this eternity (1Co. 2:6-8)

¨ Wise in this eternity (1Co. 3:18).

¨ Upon whom the ends of the eternities have come.
(1Co. 10:11)

¨ God of this eternity has blinded (2Co. 4:4).

¨ Deliver us from this present evil eternity (Ga. 1:4).

¨ Not only in this eternity but also in that which is to come (Ep. 1:21).

¨ Walked according to the eternity of this world (Ep. 2:2).

¨ In the eternities to come (Ep. 2:7).

¨ From the beginnings of the eternities (Ep. 3:9).

¨ Hidden from eternities…but now…revealed (Col. 1:26).

¨ Loved this present eternity (2Ti. 4:10).

¨ Receive him for eternity (Ph.1:15). Does this mean forever or only until Onesimus dies?

¨ Powers of the eternity to come (He. 6:5).

¨ At the end of the eternities (He. 9:26).

¨ We understand the eternities have been prepared by a saying of God (He. 11:3).

How can we say…

¨ “Before eternity” or “eternity began”? Eternity has no beginning (Jn. 9:32; Ac. 3:21; 1Co. 2:7; Ep. 3:9).

¨ “Present eternity,” “eternity to come,” and “end of eternity?” Eternity transcends time. Only God is eternal (Mt. 24:3; 28:20; 1Co. 10:11; 2Ti. 4:10; He. 6:5; 9:26).

¨ “This eternity,” “that eternity,” or “eternities”? There is only one eternity (Lu. 16:8; 20:34-35; Ro. 12:2; 1Co. 1:20; 2:6-8; 3:18; 10:11; 2Co. 4:4; Ga. 1:4; Ep. 1:21; 2:2, 7; 3:9; Col. 1:26; 2Ti. 4:10; He. 11:3).

¨ “Eternal secret” if the secret is revealed? (Ro. 16:25-26; Col. 1:26). It is no longer a “secret” at that point.

¨ Onesimus will be Philemon’s slave for eternity? Is he still his slave (Phil. 1:15)?

Scores of passages demonstrate that aion is of limited duration. In his book God’s Methods with Man, G. Campbell Morgan (scholar, associate of D.L. Moody, and a highly respected expositor of Scripture), said:

Let me say to Bible students that we must be very careful how we use the word “eternity.” We have fallen into great error in our constant use of that word. There is no word in the whole Book of God corresponding with our “eternal,” which, as commonly used among us, means absolutely without end. The strongest Scripture word used with reference to the existence of God, is—“unto the ages of the ages,” which does not literally mean eternally.3

In his Word Studies in the New Testament, Marvin Vincent, D.D., Baldwin Professor of Sacred Literature at Union Theological Seminary, New York, explained:

Aion, transliterated aeon, is a period of longer or shorter duration, having a beginning and an end, and complete in itself. Aristotle (peri ouravou, i. 9, 15) said, “The period which includes the whole time of one’s life is called the aeon of each one.” Hence, it often means the life of a man, as in Homer, where one’s life (aion) is said to leave him or to consume away (Il v.685; Od v.160). It is not, however, limited to human life. It signifies any period in the course of the millennium, the mythological period before the beginnings of history. The word has not “a stationary and mechanical value” (De Quincey). It does not mean a period of a fixed length for all cases. There are as many aeons as entities, the respective durations of which are fixed by the normal conditions of the several entities. 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.…The adjective aionious in like manner carries the idea of time. Neither the noun nor the adjective, in themselves, carry the sense of endless or everlasting. They may acquire that sense by their connotation….Aionios means “enduring through” or “pertaining to a period of time.” Both the noun and the adjective are applied to limited periods….Out of the 150 instances in LXX, [Greek Old Testament] four-fifths imply limited duration. For a few instances, see Gen. xlviii. 4; Num. x. 8; xv. 15; Prov. xxii. 28; Jonah ii.6; Hab. iii. 6; Isa lxi. 17.4

So what if the Greek word aion has been erroneously translated “eternal” instead of “age”? What does that have to do with everlasting punishment? It has everything to do with it, since one of the key texts used in defense of the Augustinian view of hell is Mt. 25:46: “And these will go away into everlasting [aionian] punishment.” If this passage as translated here is accurate, then I would have to admit the Bible teaches that punishment is forever. But what if it is not? What if aion does not mean “everlasting”? What would that do to the “biblical support” of an infinite hell? It would negate the use of any verses resting on the word aion used in its defense.

Consider how the following translations word this phrase:

¨ Young’s Literal Translation: “punishment age-during.”

¨ Rotherham Translation: “age-abiding correction.”

¨ Weymouth Translation: “punishment of the ages.”

¨ Concordant Literal Translation: “chastening eonian.”

These reputable translations use the word “age” and not “eternal.” These two concepts are diametrically opposed to one another. They are not the same by any means. An age has a beginning and an end; eternity does not.

Augustine raised the argument that since aionios in Mt. 25:46 referred to both life and punishment, it had to carry the same duration in both cases.5 However, he failed to consider that the duration of aionios is determined by the subject to which it refers. For example, when aionios referred to the duration of Jonah’s entrapment in the fish, it was limited to three days. To a slave, aionios referred to his life span. To the Aaronic priesthood, it referred to the generation preceding the Melchizedek priesthood. To Solomon’s temple, it referred to 400 years. To God it encompasses and transcends time altogether.

Thus, the word cannot have a set value. It is a relative term and its duration depends upon that with which it is associated. It is similar to what “tall” is to height. The size of a tall building can be 300 feet, a tall man six feet, and a tall dog three feet. Black Beauty was a great horse, Abraham Lincoln a great man, and Yahweh the GREAT God. Though God is called “great,” the word “great” is neither eternal nor divine. The horse is still a horse. An adjective relates to the noun it modifies. In relation to God, “great” becomes GREAT only because of who and what God is. This silences the contention that aion must always mean forever because it modifies God. God is described as the God of Israel and the God of Abraham. This does not mean He is not the God of Gentiles, or the God of you and me. Though He is called the God of the “ages,” He nonetheless remains the God who transcends the ages.

In addition, Augustine’s reasoning does not hold up in light of Ro. 16:25, 26 and Hab. 3:6. Here, in both cases, the same word is used twice—with God and with something temporal. “In accord with the revelation of a secret hushed in times eonian, yet manifested now…according to the injunction of the eonian God” (Ro. 16:25, 26 CLT). An eonian secret revealed at some point cannot be eternal even though it is revealed by the eonian God. Eonian does not make God eternal, but God makes eonian eternal. “And the everlasting mountains were scattered.…His ways are everlasting” (Hab. 3:6). Mountains are not eternal, though they will last a very long time. God’s ways however, are eternal, because He is eternal.

Matthew 25:46 contains an additional clue confirming the temporary nature of God’s judgment. The Greek word, translated “punishment,” is kolasis. William Barclay, world-renowned Greek scholar, translator, and author of the popular Bible commentary, The Daily Study Bible and New Testament Words, noted:

The Greek word for punishment here [Mt. 25:46] is kolasis, which was not originally an ethical word at all. It originally meant the pruning of trees to make them grow better. I think it is true to say that in all Greek secular literature kolasis is never used of anything but remedial punishment.6

Thomas Talbott, philosophy professor at Willamette University in Oregon and author of The Inescapable Love of God, explained:

According to Aristotle, there is a difference between revenge and punishment; the latter (kolasis) is inflicted in the interest of the sufferer, the former (timōria) in the interest of him who inflicts it, that he may obtain satisfaction. Plato also appealed to the established meaning of kolasis as support for his theory that virtue could be taught: “For if you will consider punishment (kolasis)…and what control it has over wrong-doers, the facts will inform you that men agree in regarding virtue as procured.” Even where a punishment may seem harsh and unforgiving, more like retribution than parental chastisement, this in no way excludes a corrective purpose. Check out the punishment that Paul prescribes in I Corinthians 5:5. One might never have guessed that, in prescribing such a punishment—that is, delivering a man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh—Paul had in mind a corrective purpose, had Paul not explicitly stated the corrective purpose himself (“that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus”). So as this text illustrates, even harsh punishment of a seemingly retributive kind can in fact serve a redemptive purpose.7-9

“And these will go away into everlasting [aionian] punishment [kolasis], but the righteous into eternal [aionian] life” (Mt. 25:46). Isn’t it ironic that the passage most often used to support everlasting punishment is in fact one strongly opposing it when accurately understood?

Dr. Helena Keizer is a trustworthy authority on the definition of aiōn in ancient Greek literature, including the Bible in the time of Christ. Keizer published a 315-page doctoral dissertation titled: “Life, Time, Entirety – A Study of Aiōn in Greek Literature and Philosophy, the Septuagint and Philo.” Presented on September 7, 1999 in Holland, at Amsterdam University. Keizer stated:

Olām and hence aiōn in the Biblical sense is time constituting the human temporal horizon.”29 “Our study has led to the conclusion that infinity is not an intrinsic or necessary connotation of aiōn, either in the Greek or in the Biblical usage (‘olām).”30 “To speak of ‘this aiōn’, its ‘end,’ and ‘the aiōn to come’ clearly lends to aiōn the meaning of a limited time.”31 “The following description of Gregory of Nyssa…makes a good finishing point for now: ‘Aeon designates temporality, that which occurs within time.’”32

I am pleased to say that Dr. Keizer has given me permission to share her book with others in electronic format.

Terms for Eternity is another scholarly work on aiōn by David Konstan and Ilaria Ramelli. Konstan is the John Rowe Workman Distinguished Professor of Classics and Professor of Comparative Literature, at Brown University in R.I. Ramelli is Assistant Professor of Ancient Philosophy at the Catholic University of Milan, Italy. They agree with the conclusions of Dr. Keizer. They wrote:

“Apart from the Platonic philosophical vocabulary, which is specific to few authors, aiónios does not mean “eternal”; it acquires this meaning only when it refers to God, and only because the notion of eternity was included in the conception of God: for the rest, it has a wide range of meanings and its possible renderings are multiple, but it does not mean “eternal.” In particular when it is associated with life or punishment, in the Bible and in Christian authors who keep themselves close to the Biblical usage, it denotes their belonging to the world to come.” (Page 238)

These scholarly works are important, as the key defense of eternal punishment depends on this word meaning absolute eternity. For more on the meaning of aiōn, see our website: HopeBeyondHell.net; Further Study; Eternity, and Church History.

Alternative Views

Aionian (eternal), when associated with God, may simply refer to that which comes forth from Him and relates to His purposes; a quality of essence rather than of duration. Is this not what our Lord intends in John 17:3: “And this is eternal life, that they may know You.” If this is so, perhaps the Matthew passage could be para­phrased this way: “And these will go away into the chastisement of God, but the righteous into the life of God.” Professor Talbott confirmed this:

When the letter of Jude describes the fire that consumed Sodom and Gomorrah as “eternal fire,” the point is not that the fire literally burns forever without consuming the cities; it is not that the fire continues to burn even today. The point is that the fire is a form of divine judgment upon those cities…that has its causal source in the eternal God himself. And similar for Jesus’ reference to “eternal fire” in Matthew 25:41 and to “eternal punishment” in Matthew 25:46. The fire to which he alludes is not eternal in the sense that it burns forever without consuming anything—without consuming, for example, that which is false within a person (see 1 Co. 3:15)—and neither is the punishment eternal in the sense that it continues forever without accomplishing its corrective purpose. Both the fire and the punishment are eternal in the sense that they have their causal source in the eternal God himself.10

Similarly, Barclay wrote:

The simplest way to put it is that aionios cannot be used properly of anyone but God; it is the word uniquely, as Plato saw it, of God. Eternal punishment is then literally that kind of remedial punishment which it befits God to give and which only God can give.11

Talbott continued:

The Gospel writers thought in terms of two ages, the present age and the age to come, and they associated the age to come with God himself; it was an age in which God’s presence would be fully manifested, his purposes fully realized, and his redemptive work eventually completed. They therefore came to employ the term, “αίώνίος,” [aionios] as an eschatological [doctrine of end times] term, one that functioned as a handy reference to the realities of the age to come. In this way, they managed to combine the more literal sense of “that which pertains to an age” with the more religious sense of “that which manifests the presence of God in a special way.” Eternal life, then, is not merely life that comes from God; it is also the mode of living associated with the age to come. And similarly for eternal punishment: It is not merely punishment that comes from God; it is also the form of punishment associated with the age to come. Now in none of this is there any implication that the life that comes from God and the punishment that comes from God are of an equal duration.”12

Likewise, Beecher demonstrated that in the days of the early church the idea was “punishment of the world to come.” The early Church establishes that fact through the ancient creeds. In fact, in none of its creeds did the early Church teach everlasting punishment.13

Arguing that eternal punishment must be of unending duration because it is contrasted with eternal life (Mt. 25:46), misses the point. It fails to recognize that eternal life is a quality of relationship with God (Jn. 17:3), and is an end in itself; while eternal punishment is God’s corrective discipline and a means to an end. In any case, whether aion means “age-abiding,” “of God,” or “of the world to come,” none of these expressions state, imply, or require that the punishment be never-ending.

So then, if aion does not strictly mean eternal, what word does? There are a number of Greek words that imply eternal. They are usually translated “indestructible,” “imperishable,” “unfading,” “immortality,” and “incorruptible.” See Ro. 1:23; 2:7; 1Co. 9:25; 15:42, 51-54; He. 7:15-16; 1Pe. 1:3-4; 5:4; 1Ti. 1:17; 6:16; 2Ti. 1:10.

Our hope of immortality does not reside in the word aion but in God’s very nature (unfailing love and unlimited power) and promises. (See Appendix I). So long as we have a flawed understanding of this four letter Greek word, we will remain blinded to the truth in relation to God’s judgments.

I recommend that you also read The History of Opinions on the Scriptural Doctrine of Retribution by Dr. Edward Beecher. I found his findings conclusive. You may read it on our website: HopeBeyondHell.net, Further Study, Church History.

Taken from chapter I of Hope Beyond Hell – Revised Edition (pages 21-31) Free book download: HopeBeyondHell.net

References:

1 Hurley, Loyal F. The Outcome of Infinite Grace. Santa Clarita, CA: Concordant Publishing Concern, n.d. 19.

2 Beecher, Edward. History of Opinions on the Scriptural Doctrine of Retribution. New York: Appleton, 1887. Chapter 17. Put into Electronic Format by Naomi Durkin, 2000.

3 Morgan, G. Campbell. God’s Methods with Man. New York: Revell, 1898.

4 Vincent, Marvin. Word Studies in the New Testament. 1887. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1973. 58-59.

5 Bonda, Jan. The One Purpose of God. Grand Rapids, MI: Publishing Co, 1998. 18.

6 Barclay, William. William Barclay: A Spiritual Autobiography. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1977. 65-67.

7Talbott, Thomas. “A Pauline Interpretation of Divine Judgment” in Robin Parry and Christopher Partridge (eds.) Universal Salvation? The Current Debate. Grand Rapids. MI: Eerdmans, 2003. 47. Note 27; In Rhetoric 1369b,13; Note 28; In Gorgias 477a.

8 Ibid. 51. Note 28; In Protagoras 324.

9 Talbott, Thomas. “Eternal Punishment.” Online posting. 2005. 2 May 2006. http://www.willamette.edu/~ttalbott/aionios.htm.

10 Talbott, Thomas. The Inescapable Love of God. Salem, Oregon: Universal, 2002. 87-88.

11 Barclay. Ibid.

12 Talbott. Ibid. 89-90

13 Beecher, Edward. History of Opinions on the Scriptural Doctrine of Retribution. New York: Appleton, 1887. Chapter 19. Put into Electronic Format by Naomi Durkin, 2000.

29 Keizer, Heleen M. Life, Time, Entirety – A Study of “AIŌN” in Greek Literature and Philosophy, the Septuagint and Philo; Doctoral dissertation University of Amsterdam. 1999. Slightly amended version 2005. Chapter VI, Sec. I. 241. Personal note from Dr. Keizer: “Dear Mr. Beauchemin…please use this electronic document as you would a paper copy in your possession or borrowed from a library.” Email us for more information.

30-32 Keizer. Ibid. 244. 31 Keizer. Ibid. Sec. II. 246. 32Keizer. Ibid. 247.

Eternity: Further Study Links 

Jeff A. Benner: Ancient Hebrew Word Meanings Eternity ~ olam
Dr. Marvin Vincent: The Greek Meaning of “Eternal Destruction”
Dr. John W. Hanson: The Meaning of the Greek “Aion” and “Aionios”
Dr. Edward Beecher: Church History Testifies to the Limited Nature of God’s Judgment


 

GO TO AUTHORS WEBSITE – HOPE BEYOND HELL

Gerry Beauchemin has served in missions since 1986 in Mexico, the Philippines, and Senegal, West Africa. He was a missionary with Youth With A Mission (Y.W.A.M.), The Luke Society, and Philippine Health Care Ministries. Since 2001, he has directed Dental Training For Missions in Brownsville Texas. He and his wife, Denise, (of 32 years), have three daughters and two granddaughters.
What qualifies Gerry to write on this theme? He has extensively reflected upon, read the works of others, and for many years wrestled with and studied the Scriptures on this topic. He has found solid Biblical evidence for his conclusion of hope. Having agonized for most of his life over hell he understands the contradictions it brings upon the Christian faith. Gerry thought, “Who am I to write such a book?” Then he recalled 1Co. 1:26-29, “God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise…that no flesh should glory in his presence.” This along with Mt 10:27 and 11:25 spurred him on.
“Knowing Gerry as a close friend, I can say that he has wrestled with God and his conscience over the issues presented in this book. “Hope Beyond Hell” is the result of many years of introspection, Bible study, and prayer.  Gerry’s enthusiasm for what he has discovered is evident on every page. To read this book is to know the author.” Gary A. Fenwick, Missionary, Teacher, Mexico