The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Matthew 25:46

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.” … f=49&t=232

“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.) … incent.pdf … ed&f=false

“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.”


According to the LSJ lexicon the word aion has meant “life”. Do ants & trees have “life”? … entry%3Dai)w%2Fn

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.”

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.”

So again, "

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)

[Underlining mine]

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.)

CHURCH FATHERS: Contra Celsus, Book VI (Origen)

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.”

[De Principis Book 2]

Links to the Works of Origen in English, Greek, and Latin

Origen (185-255)

[size=130]The Reconciliation of All things to God (Including the Devil!)[/size]

The restoration to unity must not be imagined as a sudden happening. Rather it is to be thought of as gradually effected by stages during the passing of countless ages. Little by little and individually the correction and purification will be accomplished. Some will lead the way and climb to the heights with swifter progress, others following hard upon them; yet others will be far behind. Thus multitudes of individuals and countless orders will advance and reconcile themselves to God, who once were enemies; and so at length the last enemy will be reached. …
De Principiis,

[size=130]Through His Repentance, the Devil Shall Be Destroyed[/size]

When it is said that ‘the last enemy shall be destroyed’, it is not to be understood as meaning that his substance, which is God’s creation, perishes, but that his purpose and hostile will perishes; for this does not come from God but from himself. Therefore his destruction means not his ceasing to exist but ceasing to be an enemy and ceasing to be death. Nothing is impossible to omnipotence; there is nothing that cannot be healed by its Maker. De Principiis,

[size=130]The Remedial Judgments of God[/size]

[Isa. I. II … ‘the fire which you have kindled’.] This seems to indicate that the individual sinner kindles the flame of his persona! fire and that he is not plunged into some fire kindled by another, … God acts in dealing with sinners as a physician … the fury of his anger is profitable for the purging of souls. Even that penalty which is said to be imposed by way of fire is understood as applied to assist a sinner to health …[cf. Isa. xlvii. 14,15, x. 17, Ixvi. 16; Mal. iii. 3] De Principiis, II.x.4,6

So this is a opinion… Am I wrong? You obviously think it is an opinion from a reliable source… TO YOU. That is what we are talking about and debating here :laughing: Opinions… :confused:

Reconciliation can be debated both ways from the scriptures, but reconciliation as to the OT is pretty straight forward It is about Israel, about Christ, about those in that time choosing… And Yes Christ did the deed. It was finished :laughing: IN MY OPINION :laughing:

You are right. “Universalism” is an opinion. “Eternal Torment” is an opinion. “Dispensationalism” is an opinion. “Preterism” is an opinion. The historic Christian view about eschatology is an opinion. Every position in theology is an opinion—every one of them claiming to go EXACTLY by the Bible or the teachings of Christ, or those of the apostles.

If the Bible had been dictated by God to its writers, then it is the only book in existence that is infallible and without error. But that position is also an opinion. Yet even if that position were correct, it wouldn’t help, since all we have is the multifarious interpretations of the various parts of the Bible (and they are opinions). Indeed, that’s what this forum is all about, isn’t it?—the sharing of opinions and attempting to back them up from the Bible—joyfully commending everyone with whom we agree, and castigating everyone with whom we disagree. (I realize this attitude does not apply to everyone who posts here. Many are genuine ladies and gentlemen who respect one another whether or not they agree).

David Burnfield makes an interesting point re Matthew 25:46:

“None of the sins listed in [the context of] Matt.25:46 can be considered blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.”

He quotes Mt.12:31:

“Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven.” (NASB)

And emphasizes the words “any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people”.

He then says “If we can believe what Christ tells us, then the ‘only’ sin that is ‘not’ forgiven is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit which obviously does not include the sins listed in Matt.25:34-44.”

Then he quotes from Jan Bonda’s book “The One Purpose of God…”:

“Verse…46, in particular, has always been cited as undeniable proof that Jesus taught eternal punishment. Yet it is clear that the sins Jesus listed in this passage do not constitute the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Assuming Jesus did not utter this word with the intention of contradicting what he said moments before [Matt 12:31], we must accept that the sins mentioned in this passage [Matt 25:46] will eventually be forgiven. This means, however strange it may sound to us, that this statement of Jesus about eternal punishment is not the final word for those who are condemned.”

(pg 220-221, Patristic Universalism: An Alternative To The Traditional View of Divine Judgement, 2nd ed, 2016, by David Burnfield)

So, how do we get past that :question: :smiley:

As for me, I accept the four “gospels” and the letters of the apostles and the letter to the Hebrews as historical, and therefore basically correct. For the words of the Son of God are always true, though the accounts of what He said could be erroneous in some cases. The apostles were inspired to write; that doesn’t imply that they made no mistakes. Also the account of what THEY said could also be incorrect. Sometimes later persons added to their words.

We just have to live by these facts, and accept that all of the gospels and apostolic letters as well as Hebrews are BASICALLY true. The fact that some of them contain flaws should not lead us into rejecting them altogether.

Paidion said:

So are these inerrant scriptures that we here in modern time are suppose to follow to the letter?

This proves to be an awfully convenient MO whereby whatever does or does not meet your arbitrary measure does in fact so easily get dismissed and rejected… as you so regularly demonstrate. Consider… are the apostles Paul and John “BASICALLY true” in their reported and recorded accounts given here?

Paidion… do you believe these words of Paul are accurate, or as you would say… “BASICALLY true”? I.e., that God did “send a strong delusion” to bring “condemnation”?

Paidion… was John in good company with the likes of Paul, Peter, Mark and Moses, or any of the other OT prophets you have claimed to be in error, and “mistaken” in attributing said “wrath” to God?

Paidion… do you believe these words recorded by John and attributed to Jesus are also accurate, or as you would say… “BASICALLY true”? I.e., that Jesus did orchestrate sickness and death upon those in this text?

Given your firm conviction that key biblical writers reportedly recorded certain events/words of God/Jesus “in error”… how and on what basis are you having confidence that any reportedly recorded biblical words are accurate and to be trusted? The evidence so far suggests the only criteria used to distinguish these arbitrary judgements are your own suppositious dogmas brought to each particular text.

Davo, you KNOW that that is an unrealistic statement. There’s nothing arbitrary about it. I have said over and over that the words of Jesus are my authority. You have brought up a single instance in which the recorded words of Jesus are false because the gospel writer was in error, never having been present to personally hear ANY of Jesus words. Then you seem to have tried to use that fact to indicate that I pick and choose according to my personal beliefs. GROSSLY UNFAIR!

Have I ever said or implied that God does not get angry or judge people? What I have affirmed all along is that God has a loving purpose in his wrath and judgment. That purpose is CORRECTION of the evil doer. He may try to correct them by sending them His representatives, but if all else fails, He must resort to a more severe correction.

Don’t quote Revelation to me. It was a disputed book in the early church. I do not dispute that the writer’s name was “John.” But there is no unequivocal evidence that he was the apostle John.

Also, to be absolutely clear, I have not claimed that Paul and Peter were in error, and not Mark either IN GENERAL. You pointed out Mark’s record of words of Jesus that were untrue. What do YOU have to say about that? Or do you claim that Mark recorded Jesus’ words correctly and that Jesus Himself was in error? I hope not. I rest on the one and only sure foundation, Jesus the Anointed One, who NEVER made a mistake!

I am not certain just what you are asking. Would you please reword this question?
Are you asking whether modern Bibles are inerrant, and if so, should we exactly carry out all commands that we find therein?

Don you said:

But are they TRUE or a persons opinion of what is true? In other words, the inerrancy seems to be dependent on the proclaimers version so to speak.
Our view of the bible (scripture) is predicated on our view as we have been taught, but I tend to think that ALL scripture is Historical, but God’s expanding revelation for humanity is outward evolving. And that is what we can dig our teeth into so to speak. :smiley:

I hold the same view except that I see the change in revelation mostly in the area of God’s character. His character has never changed,but man’s understanding of it has developed.

However, I believe that basic moral principles have not changed, but yet again there are wide differences in the way people throughout the ages have understood the application of these principles.

:laughing: yes and we all know why… BECAUSE to put it bluntly, John’s words in ‘Revelation’ make a total mockery of your doubtful dogma! :unamused:

You besmirch and dismiss John’s ‘Revelation’ account of Jesus’ words and yet are more than happy to claim John’s words in his epistles claiming “the words of Jesus are my authority” — the flexibility involved in your doctrinal positions is unbelievable and wholly inconsistent to say the least! It is ONLY because you CANNOT answer John’s account below that you are forced to run and hide from this…

Paidion… when will you deal with this text?

You HAVE made the claim repeatedly that these authors were “mistaken” and “in error” on given points for no other reason than these points fully contradict your shifting positions — everybody familiar with your posts can attest to this.

So please, feel free to answer Paul who LIKE JOHN was indeed instructed by the risen Lord

Paidion… do you believe these words of Paul are accurate and true, i.e., that God was to indeed… “send a strong delusion” whereby bringing “condemnation”? Is this a truthful statement by the inspired Paul, or do you claim Paul, like John, bore false witness to Jesus’ words being likewise… “mistaken and in error”?

Don said:

I would agree with this but you seem to be disengaged with how man’s understanding is developed. Will you explain?

Yes. It occurred mainly because of the revelation of Jesus the Anointed. He revealed the Father as He had never been known before, for example, He said that the Father is kind to unthankful and evil people. Moses and the prophets described Yahweh as killing or bringing judgment through war on evil people.