The English word “tall” is a relative word. There is nothing in its meaning which indicates the height of the object described. One may speak of “a tall building”. Probably every building described as “tall” is over 20 ft. high. So would it make sense to say that one of the meanings of “tall” is “being over 20 ft. high”? A man may be described as tall, but no man is over 20 ft. high. Does “tall” take on a different meaning when applied to a man? I don’t think so. The word “tall” NEVER has an inherent meaning of being over 20 ft. tall, even though it is used to describe objects over 20 ft. tall.
A similar situation applies concerning the Greek word “αἰωνιος” (aiōnios”). Perhaps the best English translation of the word is “lasting”. Like “tall”, the word “lasting” is relative. There is nothing in its meaning which indicates how long the object or condition described, lasts.
The word was used in koine Greek (the Greek spoken from 300 B.C. to 300 A.D.) to refer to anything which is enduring. The word was used by Diodorus Siculus to describe the stone used to build a wall. I am not sure how long the stone would last. 500 years? 1000 years?
Josephus in “The Wars of the Jews” book 6, states that Jonathan was condemned to “αἰωνιος” imprisonment. Yet that prison sentence lasted only three years.
In an English translation of the Septuagint, while in the belly of the fish, Jonah prayed:
Water was poured around me to the soul: the lowest deep compassed me, my head went down to the clefts of the mountains; I went down into the earth, whose bars are the αἰωνιος barriers: yet, O lord my God, let my ruined life be restored. Jonah 2:5,6
The Hebrew uses the word “owlam”, the Hebrew equivalent of “αἰωνιος”. Yet Jonah prayed for deliverance, and he spent only three days and nights imprisoned by those barriers.
So again, there is nothing inherent in the meaning of “αἰωνιος” which indicates how long the object or condition described lasts. Thus, though “αἰωνιος” is used to describe the eternal God, we cannot infer from this fact that “αἰωνιος” sometimes MEANS “eternal”, just as we cannnot infer from the fact that “tall” sometimes describes objects over 20 ft. high, that the word sometimes MEANS “over 20 ft. high”.
Chrysostum in his Homily of the Epistle of Saint Paul to the Ephesians, wrote that the kingdom of Satan “is αἰωνιος. In other words it will cease with the present αἰων (age).” So it seems that Chrysostum apparently believed that “αἰωνιος” meant exactly the opposite to “eternal”! ---- not only “ lasting” but also “temporary”.
A similar case may be made for the Greek expression “εις τους αἰωνας των αἰωνων” (into the ages of the ages). This is an expression which might be translated “for ages and ages”. There is nothing in meaning of the expression which indicates exactly how long this period is, but it does indicate a very long period of time. Like “αἰωνιος”, it can describe objects or conditions which are everlasting as well as those which last for a finite period of time. So just because the phrase is used to describe God does not imply that it must always describe objects or conditions which are everlasting.