"And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
“You will note that the SAME Greek word, “αἰώνιος” is used for the English, “eternal”. The one is for the “unrighteous”, and the other, for the “righteous”. BOTH must have the same force and therefore the same duration. There is NO reason, except for one’s theological bias, to suppose that the meaning of “αἰώνιος” is different in both places. To say that hell is not “eternal”, you must also say that neither is heaven, for the righteous!”
“This popular assertion, however, is fallacious. The fact that such a claim should so long endure and conquer, is proof of the power of deception.”
The vast majority of learned sources agree the word aionios, & the noun, aion, can refer to a duration which is of a limited time period that has an end. The real issue here, then, is whether or not the word means a limited time period in the context of Matthew 25:31-46 in regards to punishment. That is something that should be a matter of serious study rather than assumptions based on what my pastor or bible study group assumes to be the case.
Considering the Greek word kolasis (“punishment”, Mt.25:46, KJV) can refer to a corrective punishment, that should tell the reader of Matthew 25:46 what the possible duration of aionios (“everlasting”, KJV) is & that it may refer to a finite punishment. Why? Because since it is corrective, it is with the purpose of bringing the person corrected to salvation. Oncce saved the person no longer has need of such a punishment & it ends. So it isn’t “everlasting”. [Or if it “everlasting”, it is only everlasting in its positive effect]. Therefore this passage could just as easily support universalism as anything else.
From a review of a book by Ilaria Ramelli, namely The Christian Doctrine of Apokatastasis: A Critical Assessment from the New Testament to Eriugena (Brill, 2013. 890 pp):
“…in a passage in Origen in which he speaks of “life after aionios life” (160). As a native speaker of Greek he does not see a contradiction in such phrasing; that is because aionios life does not mean “unending, eternal life,” but rather “life of the next age.” Likewise the Bible uses the word kolasis to describe the punishment of the age to come. Aristotle distinguished kolasis from timoria, the latter referring to punishment inflicted “in the interest of him who inflicts it, that he may obtain satisfaction.” On the other hand, kolasis refers to correction, it “is inflicted in the interest of the sufferer” (quoted at 32). Thus Plato can affirm that it is good to be punished (to undergo kolasis), because in this way a person is made better (ibid.). This distinction survived even past the time of the writing of the New Testament, since Clement of Alexandria affirms that God does not timoreitai, punish for retribution, but he does kolazei, correct sinners (127).”
journalofanalytictheology.com/ja … 30418a/271
“Augustine raised the argument that since aionios in Mt. 25:46 referred to both life and punishment, it had to carry the same duration in both cases.5 However, he failed to consider that the duration of aionios is determined by the subject to which it refers. For example, when aionios referred to the duration of Jonah’s entrapment in the fish, it was limited to three days. To a slave, aionios referred to his life span. To the Aaronic priesthood, it referred to the generation preceding the Melchizedek priesthood. To Solomon’s temple, it referred to 400 years. To God it encompasses and transcends time altogether.”
“Thus, the word cannot have a set value. It is a relative term and its duration depends upon that with which it is associated. It is similar to what “tall” is to height. The size of a tall building can be 300 feet, a tall man six feet, and a tall dog three feet. Black Beauty was a great horse, Abraham Lincoln a great man, and Yahweh the GREAT God. Though God is called “great,” the word “great” is neither eternal nor divine. The horse is still a horse. An adjective relates to the noun it modifies. In relation to God, “great” becomes GREAT only because of who and what God is. This silences the contention that aion must always mean forever because it modifies God. God is described as the God of Israel and the God of Abraham. This does not mean He is not the God of Gentiles, or the God of you and me. Though He is called the God of the “ages,” He nonetheless remains the God who transcends the ages.”
“In addition, Augustine’s reasoning does not hold up in light of Ro. 16:25, 26 and Hab. 3:6. Here, in both cases, the same word is used twice—with God and with something temporal. “In accord with the revelation of a secret hushed in times eonian, yet manifested now…according to the injunction of the eonian God” (Ro. 16:25, 26 CLT). An eonian secret revealed at some point cannot be eternal even though it is revealed by the eonian God. Eonian does not make God eternal, but God makes eonian eternal. “And the everlasting mountains were scattered.…His ways are everlasting” (Hab. 3:6). Mountains are not eternal, though they will last a very long time. God’s ways however, are eternal, because He is eternal.” Eternity in the Bible by Gerry Beauchemin – Hope Beyond Hell
Jude 7 speaks of the fire that destroyed Sodom as an example of “aionion fire” (the same words aionion fire used in Mt.25:41, compare v.46). Did Sodom burn forever?
Philo was contemporary with Christ & we have this translation of his words which use the same words Christ used at Mt.25:46:
“It is better absolutely never to make any promise at all than not to assist another willingly, for no blame attaches to the one, but great dislike on the part of those who are less powerful, and intense hatred and long enduring punishment [kolasis aiónios] from those who are more powerful, is the result of the other line of conduct.” earlychristianwritings.com/yonge/book45.html
In the year 544 A.D. the emperor Justinian wrote a letter:
"It is conceded that the half-heathen emperor held to the idea of endless misery, for he proceeds not only to defend, but to define the doctrine.2 He does not merely say, “We believe in aionion kolasin,” for that was just what Origen himself taught. Nor does he say “the word aionion has been misunderstood; it denotes endless duration,” as he would have said, had there been such a disagreement. But, writing in Greek, with all the words of that abundant language from which to choose, he says: “The holy church of Christ teaches an endless aeonian (ateleutetos aionios) life to the righteous, and endless (ateleutetos) punishment to the wicked.” If he supposed aionios denoted endless duration, he would not have added the stronger word to it. The fact that he qualified it by ateleutetos, demonstrated that as late as the sixth century the former word did not signify endless duration. tentmaker.org/books/prevailing/upd21.html
If Christ meant “endless” punishment at Mt.25:46, why use the ambiguous aionios? Why not instead use the word aperantos (“endless”; 1 Timothy 1:4)? Or why not use the words “no end” as in Lk1:33b: “And of His kingdom there will be no end”? The answer seems obvious.
Early Church Father universalists who were Greek scholars & many others of the time did not see Mt.25:46 contradicting their belief:
“The first Christians, it will be seen, said in their creeds, “I believe in the æonian life;” later, they modified the phrase “æonian life,” to “the life of the coming æon,” showing that the phrases are equivalent. But not a word of endless punishment. “The life of the age to come” was the first Christian creed, and later, Origen himself (an Early Church Father universalist) declares his belief in æonian punishment, and in æonian life beyond. How, then, could æonian punishment have been regarded as endless?”
tentmaker.org/forum/word-studie … n-forever/
"Adolph Deissman gives this account: “Upon a lead tablet found in the Necropolis at Adrumetum in the Roman province of Africa, near Carthage, the following inscription, belonging to the early third century, is scratched in Greek: ‘I am adjuring Thee, the great God, the eonian, and more than eonian (epaionion) and almighty…’ If by eonian, endless time were meant, then what could be more than endless time?” "
As regards the fate of the Jewish people, early in the gospel of Saint Matthew Jesus’ word does correct them re the false teachings of endless torments and annihilation, as follows:
Mt.1:21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.
Mt.2:6b …my people Israel.
“Isn’t it ironic that the passage most often used to support everlasting punishment is in fact one strongly opposing it when accurately understood?” (Tom Talbott, author of “The Inescapable Love of God”).