Just because the adjective “αιωνιος” is derived from the noun “αιων” (age) doesn’t imply that “αιωνιος” means “age-long” or “lasting for an age.”
The expression “an age” often refers to a very long period of time—sometimes thousands of years.
In “The Wars of the Jews,” Josephus indicates that Jonathan was imprisoned “αιωνιος.” Does that mean that Jonathan’s imprisonment lasted for an age?
Actually it lasted for three years.
Paul wrote to Philemon concerning his slave Onesimus:
Did Paul write "that he might have him back for an “age-longingly”? Or did Paul write that he would have him back “lastingly”?
My understanding is that “αιωνιος” as an adjective means “lasting” and as an adverb “lastingly.”
" ‘’…as was Jonathon condemned to perpetual (aionios) imprisonment (for three years). And now the Romans set fire to the extreme
parts of the city, and burnt them down, and entirely demolished its walls.’’- From Flavius Josephus, ‘The Wars of the Jews, Book 6,
Section 434’, trans. William Whiston."
“I haven’t been able to confirm if this quote is correct. I’m sure someone here will have a copy of The Wars of the Jews, and can
confirm if Josephus used ‘aionios’ to denote a term of imprisonment that certainly wasn’t endless, if indeed the quote is correct???”
“… the latter * was reserved for execution at the triumph, while John was sentenced to perpetual imprisonment.” (Tr. by Thackeray, 1926.)"
“This is talking about the capture of Jerusalem by Titus, and the sentencing of John and Simon, the leaders of the revolt. In the next book (7.118), Josephus tells how both John and Simon are taken to Italy for the triumph; he describes the execution of Simon, but as far as I can tell from a quick overview, he doesn’t say what happens to John.”
"In any case, the source of your quote is a bit misleading. “(for three years)” is an explanatory gloss that your source has added; it’s not part of Josephus’ text. From other documentation, it may be true that John’s imprisonment turned out to last only three years. But as Josephus presents it, at the time of sentencing it was intended to be αἰώνιος, “perpetual.” " (end of quote)
Holy means set apart, different. What makes God set apart & different from fallen man are His being love and light and righteous. His light reveals what His love is which corresponds to His righteousness & righteous standards, e.g. His NT moral laws. The whole law is summed up in one word, love, not holiness, as Jesus implied.
A man can have all knowledge of what is righteous & holy, give all to the poor & his body to be burned, but without love he is nothing, as per 1 Corinthians 13. Likewise without love God would be nothing. That is the core of His being that rules everything He is and does.
In relation to human beings that is a love that came down from heaven, suffered a life in this sinful world, lived perfectly & died for the sins of every person who ever lived. Why? Is the reason He did this stated to be because God is so holy? No, it is because God so “loved” the world that He gave His Son (Jn.3:16).
If aionios punishment & life refer to those of Mt.25:46 entering “into” such things in an aion to come, such as for example the millennium eon, there is nothing in that saying that both must be of equal duration. A judge may sentence one to a millennium of corrective punishment, but the president may issue a pardon long before that thousand years ends should this one repent. The unrighteous are said to go “into” this punishment, but there is nothing denying their coming ‘out’ of it should they repent. Even if they should not repent, the punishment is limited to a coming age or two, e.g. 1000 years.
Concordant Literal New Testament, 1983
And these shall be coming away into chastening eonian, yet the just into life eonian."
Rotherham Emphasized Bible, 1959
“And these shall go away into age-abiding correction, But the righteous into age-abiding life.”
Youngs Literal Translation of the Holy Bible, 1898:
“And these shall go away to punishment age-during, but the righteous to life age-during.”
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.” journalofanalytictheology.com/ja … 30418a/271
Jesus Himself spoke of aionios life in the aion to come (Lk.18:30; Mk.10:30), thus limiting it, whereas Scripture speaks of multiple aions/eons/ages to come (Eph.2:7, Rev.11:15, etc).
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? No.
If one wishes to teach something clearly, they use words that are definitive or less ambiguous, not words that are full of ambiguity. Therefore Christ did not teach “endless” punishment or torments that have “no end”. For if Christ meant to teach “endless” punishment, why use the ambiguous words olam, aion and 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”? Why not use the word “eternal” (AIDIOS) as in Rom.1:20 and Jude 6? Why not use the word His contemporary Philo used, APEIRON, unlimited? The answer seems obvious.
You have rejected a position that the duration of life & punishment in Matt.25:46 are not necessarily of equal duration. But did not address the argument that they are of equal & temporary duration. See my comments above, including some from my previous post. Also related to this is the passage in Daniel 12:2-3, as in the following:
The context supports the view that both the life & the punishment referred to in v.2 are of finite duration (OLAM), while v.3 speaks of those who will be for OLAM “and further”.
2 From those sleeping in the soil of the ground many shall awake, these to eonian life
and these to reproach for eonian repulsion." 3 The intelligent shall warn as the warning
of the atmosphere, and those justifying many are as the stars for the eon and further."
The Hebrew word for eonian (v.2) & eon (v.3) above is OLAM which is used of limited durations in the OT. In verse 3 of Daniel 12 are the words “OLAM and further” showing an example of its finite duration in the very next words after Daniel 12:2. Thus, in context, the OLAM occurences in v.2 should both be understood as being of finite duration.
The early church accepted the following Greek OT translation of the Hebrew OT of Dan. 12:3:
2 and, many of the sleepers in the dusty ground, shall awake,—these, [shall be] to age-abiding life, but, those, to reproach, and age-abiding abhorrence; 3 and, they who make wise, shall shine like the shining of the expanse,—and, they who bring the many to righteousness, like the stars to times age-abiding and beyond. (Daniel 12:2-3, Rotherham)
2 And the multitude of those sleeping in the dust of the ground do awake, some to life age-during, and some to reproaches—to abhorrence age-during.
3 And those teaching do shine as the brightness of the expanse, and those justifying the multitude as stars to the age and for ever*. (Dan. 12:2-3, YLT)
You are probably right. I am not sure where I got the “three years” info. But in the pdf translation below of “Wars of the Jews” Book 6, Chapter 9, Section 4, it reads, "… as was John condemned to perpetual imprisonment.
I also possess an very old physical copy of Josephus,and it is written exactly the same as the document above. Not “Jonathan” but “John.” And there is no mention of “three years” nor was it inserted in parentheses.
It may be that this particular statement simply doesn’t tell the whole, eternal story. If we take the word “eternal” to mean “age-lasting”, as we’ve learned to do, than might not this statement be understood just as it reads? The wages of sin being death, I would take this as a statement pertaining the coming age, which some say is the millennial period, which appears to work nicely enough. In John 5 Jesus speaks of two resurrections, one of life and one of judgement. It seems to me that the Jews of Christ’s time, and after them the gentiles who believed, we’re always encouraged to strive for the better resurrection. It seems never assumed that any would want else but that. A common criticism of Universal Salvation is the claim that it doesn’t encourage people to be better, since all will be saved anyway. I think that’s a rather callous position to take, since it ignores the tremendous privilege the Jews of Jesus’ day believed they would enjoy, the very great honor Christ is prepared to bestow to those who answer His call, and it also soft-peddles what might not be such a wonderful experience for those who insist on being trodden underfoot in the great wine press of God. There’s very little detail provided about that, but I suspect that the better resurrection means actually better, perhaps even much, much better. if a statement such as this does point to the millennial reign of Christ, I hope to not be dead but living in Him during that time, God willing. And then, since I understand now that the salvation story continues, I suspect that those alive in Christ during the millennium will be very intimately involved in great wine press, lake of fire activity, with and in Christ ministering salvation to the great multitude. I suspect the 1000 years will be preparation for that, else what would it be for?
I think “lasting” is the best translation of the Greek adjective “αιωνιος.” It seems to fit every context. The word doesn’t refer to any specified period of time, whether temporal or eternal. The word can apply either to a short period of time or to that which is eternal, but doesn’t MEAN either “temporal” or “eternal.” The word is also used in describing God as “αιωνιος.” Yes, God is eternal, although “lasting” may also be used to describe Him. The Greek word for “eternal,” namely “αιδιος” is also used to describe God’s power and deity (Romans 1:20).
So the word is correctly used of both the “goats” and the “sheep.” The “goats” will endure lasting correction, and the “sheep” will experience lasting life. It so happens that the “lasting life” of the sheep will also be eternal, but “eternal” in not inherent in the meaning of “αιωνιος.”
The word I translated as “correction” above is “κολασις” a word that was used to describe the pruning of plants to correct their growth. It was later used to describe the correction of children.
It would be impossible for the goats to go into “eternal correction” for then the “correction” would never be completed. Rather they go into lasting correction, and some day, God’s correction of them will be completed.
Well, I’ve omitted quoting you entirely, because it all appears just above this comment. I just couldn’t find the “like” button. In the Prodigal Son story, Jesus doesn’t really over-dramatize the plight of that young man while he wandered destitute in a far off land. But then I’ve never gone hungry a day in my life. It would seem Matthew 25:46 describes a fork in the road, the fulfillment of letting the wheat and tares grow up together, and there is much very dramatic language used to describe God’s corrective judgment. So, though things will certainly turn out very well for all in the end, it still makes much sense to encourage the desire for a better resurrection, given that faith comes by hearing.
Or there’s yet another way to look at it–aionios refers to the sort of punishment that is “of eternity.” (for lack of a better word). French wine, Belgian chocolate, Swiss time pieces, Aionios punishment, Aionios life… I can’t claim credit for that–Tom Talbot gets the nod. The goats get the sort of punishment/correction God (who alone is eternal) hands out. (That is to say, the sort of correction that succeeds in actually correcting the fault.) The sheep get the sort of life God (who IS the life) hands out. Simple.
In that post Packer merely states, but does not prove, his claim that “the NT writers are unanimous in expecting the age to come to be unending”.
OTOH the apostle Paul not only speaks of the “age to come”, but a few verses later speaks of multiple “ages to come”, evidently implying that the “age to come” is NOT unending (Eph.1:21; 2:7).
Likewise many other passages refer to multiple future ages (Lk.1:33; Rev.19:3, etc).
So the contrast in Matthew 25:46 can be between life aionios & punishment aionios, with aionios meaning (as Packer says) “belonging to the age to come”.
To use Scriptural language Christians obtain aionios life and immortality. Aionios life is spoken of by Christ as obtained in the aion to come (Mk.10:30; Lk.18:30). Yet Paul speaks of multiple aions to come (Eph.1:21; 2:7). Therefore aionios life could refer to life pertaining to an aion to come, an aion which is finite & followed by one or more aions.
Aionios life is also contrasted with aionios correction or punishment (Mt.25:46). JI Packer states aionios means “belonging to the age to come”. Eventually all recieve “life”, righteousness & justification (Rom.5:18-19).
“This verse does not say that the suffering was eternal or that the punishment was eternal. Only the fire was eternal”
“If that were true re Jude 1:7, then one could argue that Mt.25:41 & 18:8 do not say anyone’s sufferings will be eternal. And they only say the fire is eternal.”
Mt.25:41 speaks of those who go “into” aionion fire. It is the fire that is described as aionion, not the amount of time anyone stays in the fire. Furthermore, one who goes “into” a fire may come back out of that fire, even if the fire is an everlasting fire.
Moreover, this aionion fire (Mt.25:41) is that prepared for the devil who will be cast into the lake of fire. Do you believe the lake of fire, the second death, is an everlasting fire? Do you believe it is this same fire that rained down on Sodom (Jude 1:7; Gen.19:24)?
The lake of fire is the second death. Death will be abolished (1 Cor.15:26). If you believe the lake of fire/2nd death is everlasting fire in Mt.25:41 & Jude 1:7, what happens to it when death is abolished (1 Cor.15:26)? Can anything that is abolished be everlasting?
Why couldn’t aionios have different meanings in various contexts, when applied to things that are not the same? Or even in the same context when applied to different things? Is the aion of an ant of the same duration as the aion of a tree? Is a tall man of the same height as a tall building? Does aionios have the same meaning in both of its occurrences in Hab.3:6? Or in both of its occurrences in Rom.16:25-26? Even your beloved JPS translation does not render olam (aionios, LXX) as eternal when applied to God’s goings, but as “of old” in Hab.3:6:
“He standeth, and shaketh the earth, He beholdeth, and maketh the nations to tremble; And the everlasting mountains are dashed in pieces, The ancient[OLAM] hills do bow; His goings are as of old.[OLAM]” (Hab.3:6, JPS)
If someone says “my trip lasted for eons”, does that change the meaning of eon? Eon is a transliteration of aion into English, just as aionion is transliterated as eonian.
Is the church age eon of the same duration as the internet age eon? Is the eon of a geological age of the same duration as the millennial eon? If not, then why should eonian in Mt.25:46 have to be of the same duration in reference to punishment & life?
Tom Talbott said:
“Whatever its correct translation, “aionios” is clearly an adjective and must therefore function like an adjective, and it is the very nature of an adjective for its meaning to vary, sometimes greatly, depending upon which noun it qualifies. For more often than not, the noun helps to determine the precise force of the adjective. As an illustration, set aside the Greek word “aionios” for a moment and consider the English word “everlasting.” I think it safe to say that the basic meaning of this English word is indeed everlasting. So now consider how the precise force of “everlasting” varies depending upon which noun it qualifies. An everlasting struggle would no doubt be a struggle without end, an unending temporal process that never comes to a point of resolution and never gets completed. But an everlasting change, or an everlasting correction, or an everlasting transformation would hardly be an unending temporal process that never gets completed; instead, it would be a temporal process of limited duration, or perhaps simply an instantaneous event, that terminates in an irreversible state. So however popular it might be, the argument that “aionios” must have exactly the same force regardless of which noun it qualifies in Matthew 25:46 is clearly fallacious.”
“There are as many eons as entities, the respective durations of which are fixed by the normal conditions of the several entities. There is one eon of a human life, another of the life of a nation, another of a crow’s life, another of an oak’s life. The length of the eon depends on the subject to which it is attached.” (WORD STUDIES IN THE NEW TESTAMENT by MARVIN R. VINCENT, D.D.)
“The word always carries the notion of time, and not of eternity. It always means a period of time. Otherwise it would be impossible to account for the plural, or for such qualifying expressions as this age, or the age to come. It does not mean something endless or everlasting.”
“…The adjective aionios in like manner carries the idea of time. Neither the noun nor the adjective, in themselves, carry the sense of endless or everlasting.”
“… Aionios means enduring through or pertaining to a period of time. Both the noun and the adjective are applied to limited periods.”
“…Words which are habitually applied to things temporal or material can not carry in themselves the sense of endlessness.”
“…There is a word for everlasting if that idea is demanded.”
Just as the adjective tall varies with what it refers to, so also the adjective aionion (eonian) varies with what it refers to. A tall man is not the same size as a tall tree or highrise or mountain. Likewise:
“So of aiónion; applied to Jonah’s residence in the fish, it means seventy hours; to the priesthood of Aaron, it signifies several centuries; to the mountains, thousands of years; to the punishments of a merciful God, as long as is necessary to vindicate his law and reform his children; to God himself, eternity.” tentmaker.org/books/Aion_lim.html
The adjectival form of a word does not always have the same connotation as the nominal form—or the verbal form for that matter. For example, the adjective “likely” has a quite different meaning from the verbal form “like.”
This is the case with the Greek adjective “αιωνιος” (aiōnios) This adjective has a different meaning from the nominal form “αιων” (aiōn). Whereas the noun “αιων” basically means “an age,” it does not follow that the adjective “αιωνιος” means “age-long” as some affirm, or that it has any other direct meaning related to “age.” That may not be good news for those of us who deny that “αιωνιος” means “eternal” (I, too deny it) but I think we will find that the meaning “lasting” fits every context. And it makes perfect sense in Matthew 25:46
Yes κολασις (kolasis) means “correction” not “punishment.” The word was originally used to denote the pruning of plants in order to correct their growth. Later the same word was used in reference to correcting children’s behaviour.
Now it would be impossible to administer “eternal correction.” For if it were eternal, those receiving it would NEVER become corrected!
The adjective “αιωνιος” does not denote any period of time—long or short. When used to describe something, it says only that it 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. The word seems to have been used as meaning “lasting” or “durable”.
Josephus in “The Wars of the Jews” book 6, states that Jonathan was condemned to “αἰωνιος” imprisonment. Yet that prison sentence is said to have lasted only three years.
The word is used in the Septuagint to indicate the length of time that Jonah was in the belly of the fish (only three days).
The fact that “αἰωνιος” is used to describe God (who is eternal) doesn’t prove the word means “eternal,” just as the fact that it was used to describe the length of time that Jonah was in the belly of the fish proves that “αἰωνιος” means “for three days.”
I agree. Also, evil itself must exist eternally for there to be a need for the eternal correction/punishment of it. If this is the case, I suppose it cannot be said that God alone is eternal. As the Bible says, “As long as the earth remains there will be day and night, seedtime and harvest.”
To me, this means that as long as man exists upon the earth, there will be evil and good, a sowing and a reaping process, good times and bad times. I don’t think the writers of the Bible were telling us anything about life after we leave this earth because they didn’t know, and neither do we.
Correct—which, if it were the case, would suggest that God will never defeat evil. However, the following passage affirms otherwise:
The Expectation of the Resurrection
If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. (1 Corinthians 15:19-26 ESV)
Church Father, Origen, re everlasting (aionios) punishment (Mt.25:46) being temporary:
“That threats of aionios punishment are helpful for those immature who abstain from evil out of fear and not for love is repeated, e.g. in CC 6,26: “it is not helpful to go up to what will come beyond that punishment, for the sake of those who restrain themselves only with much difficulty, out of fear of the aionios punishment”; Hom. in Jer. 20 (19), 4: for a married woman it is better to believe that a faithless woman will undergo aionios punishment and keep faithful, rather than knowing the truth and becoming disloyal;” (p.178-9).
Ilaria Ramelli, The Christian Doctrine of Apokatastasis: A Critical Assessment from the New Testament to Eriugena (Brill, 2013. 890 pp.)
Furthermore, Origen seems to see “eternal fire” (Mt.25:41) as remedial, corrective & temporary:
“Chapter 10. On the Resurrection, and the Judgment, the Fire of Hell, and Punishments.”
“1. But since the discourse has reminded us of the subjects of a future judgment and of retribution, and of the punishments of sinners, according to the threatenings of holy Scripture and the contents of the Church’s teaching— viz., that when the time of judgment comes, everlasting fire, and outer darkness, and a prison, and a furnace, and other punishments of like nature, have been prepared for sinners— let us see what our opinions on these points ought to be.”
“…nevertheless in such a way, that even the body which rises again of those who are to be destined to everlasting fire or to severe punishments, is by the very change of the resurrection so incorruptible, that it cannot be corrupted and dissolved even by severe punishments. If, then, such be the qualities of that body which will arise from the dead, let us now see what is the meaning of the threatening of eternal fire.”
“…And when this dissolution and rending asunder of soul shall have been tested by the application of fire, a solidification undoubtedly into a firmer structure will take place, and a restoration be effected.”