I’m reading Thomas Allin’s “Christ Triumphant” (annotated edition, edited by Robin Parry). Assuming Allin accurately quotes the fathers, there is an excellent section on aionios being used by the church fathers to describe temporary things.
Can anyone here vouch for the accuracy of Allin’s quotations and if possible provide links to the full texts?
My biggest issue with ‘aionios’ is the lack of usage of the word in the New Testament to mean things that are clearly temporal, and at the end of the day, the Greek New Testament is the only Holy Spirit-inspired Greek texts of God.
I’m not sure that the Greek NT is actually the only Spirit inspired word of God. I think God still leads people today to speak in the inspiration of the Spirit. Or do you think God has stopped talking to us? Do you believe the early Fathers were never inspired by the Spirit? I think that even I am sometimes inspired by the Holy Spirit to say certain things.
It kind of sounds to me like you have deified the “literal” interpretation of the Greek NT. Yet there is no such thing as a literal interpretation of the scriptures or any writings from one language to another. ANY translation at all is by its very nature a commentary. The translator MUST make choices as to what word s/he will use to translate the ancient Greek word to a modern English word. It is for this reason that some people have decided that the KJV is the only inspired English translation–because in reality, there are a number of ways to translate ANY ancient Greek word into English. If there is no perfect (Spirit-dictated) translation, then the bible is not an infallible guide. So people have arbitrarily chosen the KJV. There’s no real reason for this choice–that’s just the translation they chose (and ironically, it’s not even translated from the earliest and most complete available texts.) Many important words in the KJV had to be guessed at. As archaeologists have discovered more and more ancient documents and have figured out the meanings of some of these words, they have at times turned out to have been wrongly translated. These wrong translations haven’t always even been corrected in more modern translations–let alone earlier translations.
Sometimes there are NO English words to perfectly translate a foreign-language word and so some compromise must be found. The early Fathers used the same Greek language in their writings that Paul and the other apostles used in THEIR writings. If the fathers used aionios as a word which meant other than “eternal” in the modern sense, the significance of their so using it is that in that day, in common useage of the language, a non-eternal definition of aionios was completely acceptable and unsurprising.
I think that you believe your modern (or KJV) translation of the New Testament and English translation of the Masoretic text of the OT is some sort of rock you can cling to for perfect understanding. It is not. Jesus didn’t even use the Masoretic text. He quotes from the LXX (and so far as I can discover, Jesus and His contemporaries DID typically speak Hebrew.) As a knowledgeable Rabbi, He perhaps could have translated directly from the Masoretic (if it had been superior) into Greek for any of His listeners who didn’t speak Hebrew–but He didn’t do that. He used the LXX. Maybe He translated the LXX into Hebrew from the Greek when He spoke to His countrymen (though they were most likely bilingual). The LXX does differ from the Masoretic, in many places, so scholars can tell which one He quoted from. The scriptures were written for our instruction by people inspired to write by the Holy Spirit. That doesn’t mean the writers were just secretaries writing every word exactly as they were instructed. That means God inspired them to write and they wrote. The writers each have their own style, favorite words, points of view. Scholars can tell who wrote the books by analyzing the styles alone.
In John 6, Jesus says something interesting: “. . . the letter kills but the Spirit gives life . . .” He spoke of the law, but then the “Law and the Prophets” were His scriptures and those of His contemporaries. The bible exudes the SPIRIT of God as a whole. It is this spirit you must inhale, imbibe and surrender to–NOT the letter. The letter kills. The bible is not “basic instructions before leaving earth.” It is a masterful portrait of God and of the Jews’ perception of God with all their brilliancies and all their flaws. It was written under inspiration of the Spirit and it must be READ under inspiration of the Spirit–otherwise it is just the letter and is as dead as the dust of the desert.
Our hell theology was popularized by Augustine, who didn’t like Greek at all or understand it well–he was a poor Greek scholar. (He said so.) He formulated his theology from studying the inferior Latin Vulgate. I’m not sure why we venerate his systematic theology over that of Paul and in truth, of Jesus Himself.
If the early fathers (and other writers of their time) used aionios to refer to non-eternal things, you may be sure that the word does not refer exclusively to eternal things. Just because some guy with an inferior (due to the lack of archaeological discoveries of ancient corroborating documents) knowledge of ancient biblical Greek translated it “eternal” hundreds of years ago, that doesn’t make that translation sacred or even correct. In fact, during the day of the KJV translation, “eternal” meant “a very long time” more often than it meant never-ending. The word “eternal” has only come to exclusively mean never-ending in more recent centuries.
As I said, the bible is not your rock. Jesus is your rock. HE will not fail you. Your and my and everyone else’s understanding of the bible will fail us because our understanding is based on incomplete information of the ancient tongues and on our own fallible logic and perceptions. JESUS alone is our rock–and Jesus is a perfect image of the Father–who is love.
Greek New Testament = Inspired
Hebrew Old Testament = Inspired
Everything Else = Translations
Of course not, but there is also this:
2 PETER 1:20:
-20: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
Not in the scriptural sense:
-19: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
I wish people would stop calling them the ‘early Fathers’:
-9: And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.
I guess it’s the ‘better safe than sorry’ approach.
I used to be that way, now I believe there isn’t any inspired English translation - only the Greek in inspired.
I wish - in a sense - although I don’t like what the English translations appear to be saying (Eternal Conscious Torment (ECT)), but I can’t just believe what I like, and reject what I don’t like, which goes back the the thing about my fear of having “itching ears” (2 Timothy 4:1-4) when it comes to Universalism.
I’m scared I would be putting my faith in men to look at it that way.
-8: It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.
Then what meant ‘eternal’ in the day of the KJV translators? And in that case, can we even be sure that salvation is literally eternal life?
He won’t fail me, but I’m scared I will fail Him, or worse, never complete something to fail to begin with. On my ‘Objections to Universalism’, I talked about how The Lord Jesus Christ commanded us not to worry and trust God with everything, and that involves giving money to the poor, and I talked about how I am not capable of doing, I need God to transform me completley so I can.
Please pray that this is done.
-26: And ye shall be holy unto me: for I the LORD am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine.
1 PETER 1:16:
-16: Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
And willing to show is wrath:
-22: What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:
-23: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,
Greek is Greek. Why would the writers of the New Testament be using the adjective to mean exclusively “eternal” while other texts of the day applied the word to things that were not “eternal,” but merely “lasting”? Indeed, my belief is that the word ALWAYS means “lasting.” There is no time connotation within the meaning of the word, either temporal or everlasting. In Greek literature the word was applied in one case to a period that lasted only three years. It was applied in the Old Testament (Septuagint) to the period in which Jonah was in the belly of the fish—a period of three days!
However, if we think, that in the New Testament, “aionios” always applies to that which is everlasting or eternal, then we would have to translate it as “eternal” in the following verses:
Titus 1:2 in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before eternal times.
What are “eternal times”? If each of these “times” is eternal, then how many eternities are there anyhow? And what would “BEFORE” eternal times mean? It says that God promised eternal life BEFORE eternal times. Didn’t He make that promise in part of eternity? How can there be a “before eternity”?
Wouldn’t it make more sense to translate it as “promised before lasting times”?
Paul wrote to Philemon about his slave, Onesimus, who became a Christian when Paul talked to him in prison:
Philemon 1:15 For perhaps he departed for a while for this purpose, in order that eternal you might hold him.
Shouldn’t it be, "in order that lasting (or “lastingly”) you might hold him?