The Evangelical Universalist Forum

eis aionas aionon?

In Rev. 10:6 and 15:7, God is said to live “eis aionas aionon,” and I have a question about that phrase.

A Greek scholar is quoted as follows on the Tentmaker web site.

To anyone who really knows Greek, is it possible that living “for the ages of ages” means living for the goal to be reached through these ages (much as I might say I’m living to see my mother again, or someone else might say that they’re living to see their retirement)?

Could the statement that God “lives to the ages of ages” mean that He lives for the salvation of all?

And could punishment to the ages of ages mean that those punished are punished with this goal in mind?

I freely admit that I don’t know Greek well enough to answer this question, but does anyone know if such a reading (interpretation) is at all possible?

I am not a Greek scholar either, but I think your idea may have some weight to it. When someone says “I live for the days when peace is on the earth”, they are not saying that they live only when peace reigns, they are saying that their goel in mind is to see those days come to fruition. Maybe God lives to see the goal of the ‘ages of ages’ fulfilled because then he will be all in all. Is that what you are saying Michael?

If so then it makes sense of Revelation 14, the reason the Lamb is presiding over the touchstoning of the wicked is because the purpose in mind (namely all to be saved) must be accomplished. The smoke of their touch-stoning rises for the ‘ages of ages’. The interesting thing is that whenever a precious stone is touchstoned smoke rises as a result of it, the whole purpose of it is to show how precious the metal really is. So yes you might be onto something there :wink:

Yes, that was what I was thinking.

But we need someone who actually knows Greek to tell us whether it can hold water.

Maybe I was.

Bullinger was a Greek Scholar, and he’s apparently saying that this could sometimes be the meaning of the phrase.

I think that would answer a lot of questions.

(What do the rest of you think?)

Here how I handle this topic with related excerpts from my forthcoming book Conditional Futurism:

Thank you Jim.

A"Conditional Futurism" is an interesting title, but what does it mean (and how does it relate to my questions here)?

How would you approach Rev. 14:11 and 20:10, compared to Rev. 10:5 and 15:7.

The first two speak of punishment, the second two speak of God.

Both sets seem to speak of duration.

How is the length of the duration meant clarified by the context?

What elements in the context of 14:11, or 20:10 indicate a lesser duration than 10:5 or 15:7?

Conditional futurism insists that end-time judgments are subject to conditions. You could see more about that in my signatures link. My discussion about the duration of “eternal life” and “eternal punishment” is tangent but important to conditional futurism. Likewise, the punishments in Rev. 14:11 and 20:10 are deserved, which might imply finite duration because the respective sins were finite in duration, while nothing suggests that the life of the creator is finite. Also, biblical evidence of wicked dead possibly accepting salvation supports that eternal punishment could be finite in duration.

Thank you Jim.

I was just thinking of how flexible the English phrase “ages upon ages” is.

We could say that it took “ages upon ages” for the rocky mountains to form, or that we’ll praise God for “ages upon ages” when we get to heaven.

In the one case we’d be talking about millions of years, and in the other we’d be talking about eternity.

Could “eis aionas aionon” be that flexible?

Yes, especially with symbolic literature such as apocalypses.

Thank you.

Let’s get the phrase correct, first of all:

Greek phrase:
εἰς τους αἰωνας των αἰωνιων

Transliteration to Latin characters:
eis tous aiōnas tōn aiōnōn

Literal translation:
into the ages of the ages

Actually, I don’t think that’s the exact phrase used in Rev. 14::11.

Is it?

No. But it is the exact phrase used in Rev. 10:6 and Rev. 15:7, and those were the two verses to which you referred in your original post.

The phrase is Rev 14:11 is “εις αιωνας αιωνων”. It is similar but without the articles. It means “into ages of ages”.

It might not have been stated in my post, but I was thinking of the question raised in the OP (which was how these phrases could be used of the duration of God’s life, when similar phrases are used of punishment in Revelations.)

I’ve noticed from some of your posts that you’ve studied Patristics, and I know several of the Greek Fathers believed in UR.

Do you know if any of them ever commented on this question (or the phrases under discussion here on this topic heading)?

The most basic meaning of εις is “into.” Translations also use other prepositions:

The King James translates it as “into” 573 times, “to” 281 times, “unto” 207 times, “for” 140 times, “in” 138 times, “on” 58 times, “toward” 29 times, “against” 26 times, and miscellaneous others 322 times.

That’s interesting that the KJV usually translates EIS as “into” so often. I wonder if other versions follow.

II. of Time;

  1. it denotes entrance into period which is penetrated, as it were, i. e. duration through a time (Latinin; German hinein, hinaus):

THAYER’S GREEK LEXICON, Electronic Database.
Copyright © 2002, 2003, 2006, 2011 by Biblesoft, Inc.
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

A primary preposition; to or into (indicating the point reached or entered), of place, time, or (figuratively) purpose (result, etc.); also in adverbial phrases

Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance

1519 eis (a preposition) – properly, into (unto) – literally, “motion into which” implying penetration (“unto,” “union”) to a particular purpose or result.

copyright © 1987, 2011 by Helps Ministries, Inc.
For complete text and additional resources visit:

There are those who claim the phrase “ages of the ages” refers to ages tumbling upon ages, one after another, endlessly. Hence the common translation for “ever and ever” (e.g. Rev.20:10 that speaks of torment). Literally, though, the Greek says “ages of the ages”.

In response to this i am wondering about the validity of an argument that assumes that to be true, but states that the word EIS can mean “into”, and if one is tormented “into” a period of age after age after age that goes on forever, that does not require that the torment last “for” the entire duration of all those ages, but only “into” the first age of such a succession. Therefore, apart from contxtual considerations, the torment is of an indefinite duration.

Does that make sense?

I suppose this argument could apply not only to passages that speak of torment and “ages of the ages” (e.g. Rev.20:10), but also to those such as Matthew 25:46, that they shall go “into” aionion/eternal punishment, that is a period of punishment that has age tumbling upon age endlessly.

Origen spoke of what is after aionios life, “ages of the ages” & all ages *. Other Church Fathers also.

See Ramelli pages 8-10, 13-14, 112ff, 132, 157-8, 160-1, 167-8, 202 at: … &type=full*

Does anybody understand this, I found it in a Catholic book about liturgy:

[For the eons of eons,] this literal translation from the Greek corresponds with the Latin “in saecula saeculorum” [into ages of ages]. Thereby is not meant the “eternity” (Greek aidiotêtos, Latin aeternitas) as infinite, unfading time that only applies to the triune God Himself; but the sum of all finite and fading periods of time. The translation from “eternity to eternity” [the idiomatic German equivalent of the English “forever and ever”] or in “all eternity” is at least misleading. Theologically more of relevance is, that by this use of “eternity”, it’s no longer possible to conceive that God’s “eternity” is of different kind then the “fullness of times”, given as gift to the creatures.

Augustine back in his days admitted that he did not know what the phrase means.