The Evangelical Universalist Forum

God who lives to the ages of ages?

I found this on another thread.


After pondering this for a moment I think I now understand. God is the great ‘I am’, from age to age he is Yahveh. When God spoke to Moses he said that he was the Hayah (I am). If we take this seriously then we know that God is, and he will never cease to be. If he ceases then we cease and this simply will not happen. God lives into the ages of the ages, just as he is the God of the ages. A quote comes to mind which I cannot remember the source of it, but it went along the lines, “People must know that God lived in these times too”. God lives TODAY, tomorrow he will be alive, and the next day and the next. God lives to the ages of ages, yet he lived before the ages of ages, and he will live after the ages of ages. At least that is what I got from my study and the understanding of Jesus which I have come to.

Coincidentally I had a friend grill me about “eis aionas aionon” today, both from Rev but also 1 Tim 1:17, unfortunately I hadn’t thought about it properly for eons :wink: , so didn’t have much of a reply :blush:

, Paul"]Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

to de basilei ton aionon, aphtharto, aorato, mono theo, time kai doxa eis tous aionas ton aionon; amen.

It also came up in “Terms for Eternity: Aiônios & aïdios” talk part 2 but I felt the answer wasn’t detailed enough :frowning:

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.

But what is the point being made in Rev. 10:6, and 15::7?

Unless "εις τους αἰωνας των αἰωνων" is used as a euphamisim (an idiom) for unending duration in those passages, isn’t it a gross understatement???

I mean, what is the point of saying that an immortal God lives “for ages and ages”?

It also came up in “Terms for Eternity: Aiônios & aïdios” talk part 2 but I felt the answer wasn’t detailed enough :frowning:

Have we found the universalists’ achilles heel? This seems like a real problem!

One could ask a similar question concerning Romans 16:26.

What is the point of calling an immortal God “ὁ αἰωνιος θεος” (The lasting God)? Why didn’t Paul call Him “ὁ αἰδιος θεος” (The eternal God)? After all, the same Paul, writing the same letter, referred to God’s “eternal (αἰδιος) power and deity” in Romans 1:20. So it wasn’t that Paul didn’t have the word “αἰδιος” at his disposal.

I don’t know the answer. I guess it’s the genius of the language (a “smart” sounding answer to cover ignorance). It seems that Paul must have had a reason for choosing “αἰωνιος” instead of “αἰδιος”. Nevertheless, I will hazard a guess. Paul wanted to make clear that the secret which has been made known to all nations to bring about the obedience of faith, would in fact bring about that obedience — that because God is lasting, He will be able to take all the time that is necessary to make it happen.

I guess my answer wasn’t good enough huh? Lol well back to the drawing board I guess. Aha! Okay I want everyone to PAY ATTENTION please. I looked up other places where it says God lives forever and I found one in Daniel 12:7,

The man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, lifted his right hand and his left hand toward heaven, and I heard him swear by him who lives forever(olam), saying, "It will be for a time, times and half a time. When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed."

Now as we know there is allot of support for ‘olam’ being a limited duration (its applied to doors, mountains, ended covenants, Solomon’s temple, days, years etc). So we must ask ourselves why did Daniel use this ambiguous term when he could have used ‘ad’ (which means perpetual). In fact one single ‘olam’ seems even less time than ‘ages of ages’. The LXX translates it this way ζώντι εις αιώνα (one living to the age), again why not use the word aidios?

The answer is simple, the term living to the age or ‘ages of ages’ does not limit God’s duration, it simply means he lives during the age, once the age ends he is still the ‘I am’, he is deathless. The definition of the Greek word ‘eis’(into) lends support to this idea,

God lives into the age, and the ‘ages of ages’(the two crowning ages). If I say I lived during WWII it doesn’t mean I cease to exist after the War, it means I lived during that time. Problem solved hopefully :slight_smile:

P.S. The very name Yahweh means ‘the eternal’, so to say Yahweh is eternal is like, saying the blue sky is blue. Its redundant, this solves the problem of why the Jewish people always translated ‘olam’ as ‘aion’ even when it referred to God. They didn’t need another word to communicate eternal, God was eternal to them, it was simply assumed.

If you still have questions I suggest you check out this link:

I certainly agree that God is pre-eonian/eonian and that having this revealed in the Bible is important. However, unfortunately I didn’t understand what Louis Abbott meant by post-eonian and why he then quoted 1 Tim 4:10 :confused:

Good point, however that actually seems to support the angle I’ve adopted, that aion/aionas/aionon/aionios is about location/quality rather than duration i.e. immortal is a duration descriptor.

That’s the conclusion I’m leaning towards too :sunglasses:

So it seems like there might be multiple (although not infinite) ages of punishment, :frowning: but God will be in each :slight_smile:

I think Abbott’s point was that God is the living God, meaning he is always alive,

“…we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.”

That is a possibility since Weymouth translated it Punishment of the Ages. Though I am more inclined to believe that ‘ages of ages’ means the two crowning ages. The first is the millennial kingdom (whether literally a 1000 years I know not), I believe this will be more like the wicked are sleeping in the dust. The next age will be the one where the wicked are put into the Lake of Fire( again I think its not literally a fiery lake, simply a metaphor). During this age we hear God on the throne utter these words, "Look! I am making everything new!” The present tense gives hope that there is still work to be done. I believe 1 Corinthians 15 goes beyond Revelation 22 here. Once Christ has made everyone subject to God then Jesus will hand over the kingdom to him, that God may be all in all. This makes sense of the fact that Jesus reigns for the ‘ages of ages’, he reigns during the millennial and punishment age until all enemies are conquered by love.

Just my two cents :wink:

Ah, of course, that makes sense!

Thanks, that is helpful, I hadn’t thought of it that way

I can see that in relation to words like aion/aionas/aionon/aionios, but how could a phrase like “unto ages og ages” have a meaning that has more to do with quality than duration?

It’s that phrase, and it’s scriptural application to both God and punishment, that we’re talking about here.

I did, and maybe this answers my question to Alex.

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 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 yesyou might be onto something there :wink:

Thank you awakeningaletheia.

I wish someone who knows more about Greek than we do would comment on this.

It is true that “εἰς” in Greek (normally translated as “into”), does suggest a movement toward or into something. In William D. Mounce’s Basics of Biblical Greek, most chapters begin with an “exegetical insight” by some Greek or New Testament scholar. The “exegetical insight” of Chapter 8 (Prepositions) deals with the use of prepositions in I Cor 5:5. It was written by Craig L. Blomberg. Blomberg mentions that “εἰς” can denote either result or purpose. In the verse in question, he believes it denotes result. He quotes Gordon Fee, “What the grammar suggests, then, is the ‘destruction of the flesh’ is the anticipated result of the man’s being put back into Satan’s domain, while the express purpose of the action is his redemption.”

Michael, perhaps either result or purpose could apply to the phrase in question. Michael, you asked:

As a convinced believer in the reconciliation of all to God, I wish I could congratulate you for this remarkable insight. But I must express my doubts that your understanding is correct. The best way to see how a Greek word or phrase is used, is to look up many occurences of it.

I think the Greek phrase “εἰς τους αἰωνας των αἰωνων” (literally “into the ages of the ages”) is a koine Greek idiom that was understood in the koine period(300 B.C to 300 A.D.)

Here are a few occurences of the phrase in the New Testament:

Ephesians 3:21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, εἰς τους αἰωνας των αἰωνων. Amen.

Philippians 4:20 To our God and Father be glory εἰς τους αἰωνας των αἰωνων. Amen.

1 Timothy 1:17 To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory εἰς τους αἰωνας των αἰωνων. Amen.

Hebrews 1:8 Now to the son [he says] Your throne is God εἰς τον αἰωνα του αἰωνος.

1 Peter 5:11 To him be the dominion εἰς τους αἰωνας των αἰωνων. Amen.

Revelation 1:6 and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion εἰς τους αἰωνας των αἰωνων. Amen.

Notice the expression is a little different in Heb 1:8. It means “into the age of the age”. That same expression is frequently used in the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament into Greek. I can quote some of these if you think it would help.

But right now, because of their usage, I do not see either phrase as oriented toward a goal.

But meaning what?


Yes, please.

But if I understand you, there doesn’t seem to be any grammatical or linguistic reason such phrases couldn’t be oriented toward a goal (at least in some of their occurences)?

Since there are more accurate words to describe ‘forever’ than aionian, such as athanasia (Undying, Immortality), Aidios (Always, Eternal), anaideia (Persistence), pantote (Always, At all times, Ever), ametakinētos (Firmly Persistent), diapantos (Always, Continually) etc. I don’t find much argument now in using aion or aionios to denote ‘forever’.

Thank you Craig, but there are other threads on the meaning of the words aion and aionios.

The question raised by the opening post here is the meaning of the phrase “εἰς τους αἰωνας των αἰωνων” (and why it’s apparently used of the duration of God’s life in passages like Rev. 10:6?)

Michael, it is very simple, the ‘Good News bible’ mistranslated ‘living forever and ever’.

But it’s the same phrase used (in the Greek text) of punishment (and of God’s life in passages like Rev. 10:6.)

It’s not enough to say the Good News Bible (along with the KJV, NIV, NEB, RSV, etc., etc.) mistranslated the phrase.

What does it mean?