Aramaic or Hebrew for Jesus' Teachings on Hell


Hello, I’m new to the site. I’m a Catholic who’s recently adopted a purgatorial universalist belief (Ramelli gave me the confidence to finally admit I’m a universalist). Anyways, I’m trying to do some further research into what Jesus actually meant, especially in Matthew 25.

Considering that he didn’t teach in Greek, do scholars know of Aramaic or Hebrew equivalents of “aiōnios”? If so, what are the various meanings associated with those words?

Thanks in advanced!


Welcome to the site!


Hi there, I too am new to the site! In regards to "aiōnios,” I believe that it stems from the idea of something that is just over the horizon and just out of sight. It puts forth the idea that you can’t for sure know when it is going to happen. In that regard I would see it fairly similar to the Greek in that aionios can mean a certain set piece of time or it could also mean eternity in its truest sense. I think it all depends on the context though - so probably takes a lot more looking into regarding individual verses. (Hopefully this viewpoint is correct - but that is my understanding of it thus far.) All the best dude!


IMO context makes it clear in the vast majority of cases the word means eternal. Rather than trying to rationalize a new definition for the word, IMO a better strategy is the one advanced by James Goetz in his book “Conditional Futurism”, which is to hold that prophecy is conditional. So, a person may be punished forever, but only if he rejects God’s offer of salvation an infinite number of times. Which, of course, isn’t likely. :slight_smile:


The Jewish scholars who translated the Hebrew OT into the Greek version (LXX, Septuagint) almost always (in hundreds of occurrences) rendered the Hebrew OLAM as AION or AIONION.

As to the various meanings of OLAM, that is debated among scholars. This will give you an idea of what some think:

For further considerations re olam, aionion & Matthew 25 in general, i’d suggest the following post & the entire thread there as well:

Here is a post with a long list of examples of aionion used of finite durations in ancient Greek. The same thread has additional examples:

In the following post is a list of words Jesus should have used if He wished to express endless punishment unambiguously:

My conclusion is that since He chose not to use such words, He didn’t believe in endless punishment.


I haven’t studied Hebrew, but I found the following equivalent of “aiōnios” in a Hebrew lexicon with meanings:

עולם ‘owlam o-lawm’ or עלם ‘olam o-lawm’

  1. long duration, antiquity, futurity, for ever, ever, everlasting, evermore, perpetual, old, ancient, world
    1a) ancient time, long time (of past)
    1b) (of future)
    1b1) for ever, always
    1b2) continuous existence, perpetual
    1b3) everlasting, indefinite or unending future, eternity

It is Strong’s number 05769 and is frequently translated as “forever” though it does not seem to MEAN “forever” in the following verses of the NKJV:

De 15:17 “then you shall take an awl and thrust it through his ear to the door, and he shall be your servant forever <05769>. Also to your female servant you shall do likewise.
De 23:3 “An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter the assembly of the LORD; even to the tenth generation none of his descendants shall enter the assembly of the LORD forever <05769>,
De 23:6 “You shall not seek their peace nor their prosperity all your days forever <05769>.
De 28:46 “And they shall be upon you for a sign and a wonder, and on your descendants forever <05769>.
De 29:29 “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever <05769>, that we may do all the words of this law.
De 32:7 “Remember the days of old <05769>, Consider the years of many generations. Ask your father, and he will show you; Your elders, and they will tell you:
De 33:15 With the best things of the ancient mountains, With the precious things of the everlasting <05769> hills,
Jos 4:7 “Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever <05769>.”
Jos 8:28 So Joshua burned Ai and made it a heap forever <05769>, a desolation to this day.
Jos 14:9 “So Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land where your foot has trodden shall be your inheritance and your children’s forever <05769>, because you have wholly followed the LORD my God.’
1Sa 1:22 But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, “Not until the child is weaned; then I will take him, that he may appear before the LORD and remain there forever <05769>.”
1Sa 2:30 “Therefore the LORD God of Israel says: ‘I said indeed that your house and the house of your father would walk before Me forever <05769>.’
1Sa 13:13 And Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of the LORD your God, which He commanded you. For now the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever <05769>
1Sa 27:8 And David and his men went up and raided the Geshurites, the Girzites, and the Amalekites. For those nations were the inhabitants of the land from of old <05769>, as you go to Shur, even as far as the land of Egypt.
1Sa 27:12 So Achish believed David, saying, “He has made his people Israel utterly abhor him; therefore he will be my servant forever <05769>.”
1Ki 2:33 “Their blood shall therefore return upon the head of Joab and upon the head of his descendants forever <05769>. But upon David and his descendants, upon his house and his throne, there shall be peace forever <05769> from the LORD.”
2Ki 5:27 “Therefore the leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and your descendants forever <05769>.” And he went out from his presence leprous, as white as snow.
1Ch 17:12 “He shall build Me a house, and I will establish his throne forever <05769>.
1Ch 28:4 “However the LORD God of Israel chose me above all the house of my father to be king over Israel forever <05769>, for He has chosen Judah to be the ruler; and of the house of Judah, the house of my father, and among the sons of my father, He was pleased with me to make me king over all Israel.
Job 22:15 Will you keep to the old <05769> way Which wicked men have trod,
Job 41:4 Will he make a covenant with you? Will you take him as a servant forever <05769>?
Ps 48:8 As we have heard, So we have seen In the city of the LORD of hosts, In the city of our God: God will establish it forever <05769>.
Ps 73:12 Behold, these are the ungodly, Who are always at ease <05769>; They increase in riches.
Ps 78:66 And He beat back His enemies; He put them to a perpetual <05769> reproach.
Ps 119:52 I remembered Your judgments of old <05769>, O LORD, And have comforted myself.
Ps 119:98 You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies; For they are ever <05769> with me.
Ps 119:112 I have inclined my heart to perform Your statutes Forever <05769>, to the very end.
Ec 1:4 One generation passes away, and another generation comes; But the earth abides forever <05769>.
Ec 1:10 Is there anything of which it may be said, “See, this is new”? It has already been in ancient times <05769> before us.
Isa 32:14 Because the palaces will be forsaken, The bustling city will be deserted. The forts and towers will become lairs forever <05769>, A joy of wild donkeys, a pasture of flocks —
Isa 34:17 He has cast the lot for them, And His hand has divided it among them with a measuring line. They shall possess it forever <05769>; From generation to generation they shall dwell in it.”
Isa 42:14 “I have held My peace a long time <05769>, I have been still and restrained Myself. Now I will cry like a woman in labor, I will pant and gasp at once.
Isa 44:7 And who can proclaim as I do? Then let him declare it and set it in order for Me, Since I appointed the ancient <05769> people. And the things that are coming and shall come, Let them show these to them.
Isa 46:9 Remember the former things of old <05769>, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me,
Isa 47:7 And you said, ‘I shall be a lady forever <05769>,’ So that you did not take these things to heart, Nor remember the latter end of them.
Isa 51:9 Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the LORD! Awake as in the ancient days, In the generations of old <05769>. Are You not the arm that cut Rahab apart, And wounded the serpent?
Isa 60:21 Also your people shall all be righteous; They shall inherit the land forever <05769>, The branch of My planting, The work of My hands, That I may be glorified.
Isa 61:4 And they shall rebuild the old <05769> ruins, They shall raise up the former desolations, And they shall repair the ruined cities, The desolations of many generations.
Isa 64:4 For since the beginning of the world <05769> Men have not heard nor perceived by the ear, Nor has the eye seen any God besides You, Who acts for the one who waits for Him.
Isa 64:5 You meet him who rejoices and does righteousness, Who remembers You in Your ways. You are indeed angry, for we have sinned — In these ways we continue <05769>; And we need to be saved.
Jer 2:20 “For of old <05769> I have broken your yoke and burst your bonds; And you said, ‘I will not transgress,’ When on every high hill and under every green tree You lay down, playing the harlot.