The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Rom 6:23 Revisited

Hi, been reading here a bit, thought I’d dredge up an old topic to see if there might be further discussion on it.

Rom 6:23 wages of sin is death, but gift of God is eternal life

One response was:

*Regarding Romans 6:23 i don’t see this as an especially difficult scripture for the all will be saved eventually opinion.
It seems to me there are at least two ways universalists can harmonize Romans 6:23 with universalism, thus:

  1. Romans 6:23 does not deny that all will eventually recieve the gift of eternal life. Thus it is in harmony with passages believed to support UR, e.g. Rom. 5:18-19 of the previous chapter of Romans. Or Lamentations 3:31, no one is cast off by the Lord forever. (NIV). Or 1 Tim.2:4-6 & 4:10, etc.

  2. In more literal translations Romans 6:23 is speaking of eonian life (CLV, YLT, Roth, WEY, etc) not eternal life, which Jesus said believers would obtain in the eon (age) to come (Mk.10:30). While Paul & the author of Revelation both speak of more than one eon to come (e.g. Eph.2:7). Thus eonian life can be understood as ending at the end of the next eon, to be followed by at least one more eon or age. BTW, the early church father, Origen, spoke of what is “after eonian life” (eternal life, KJV).

Thus Romans 6:23 harmonizes with passages that speak of the chosen [church] as “firstfruits” of His creatures (James 1), each in His own order/class raised to immortality, first Christ, then the church & finally the end class [those who die in sin] (1 Cor.15:22-28), God the Saviour of all, but “especially” those who believe now [in this life] (1 Tim.4:10), a ransom for all…to be testified in its own eras (1Tim.2:4-6), proclamations to the dead (1Pet.3:18-20; 4:6), etc.

#1 seems to be no argument at all; aside from the obvious—the passage does not explicitly deny universalism—but what would justify its being forced on the other passages mentioned? Because Rom 6:23 stands apart from Paul’s more commonly interpreted universalist passages it seems able to bear at least cursory annihilationist support.

In #2 the common appeal to “eonian life” has no direct application to Rom 6:23; the problem seems to be how to synchronize the death as wages of sin with the gift of eternal life. Forcing eonian non-eternality onto eternal seems, in the estimation of probably most traditional Christians interested in the topic of universal salvation, thin and overused. While providing an interesting study of word meanings, it seems to do little or nothing to harmonize the two concepts being contrasted, death and eternal life.

How, in universalist Christianity, are the concepts of death as sin’s just recompense and its seeming opposite, eternal life, harmonized in Scripture itself?

Side Question: if universalists were to abandon the “eonian life” argument does there still exist enough evidence in Scripture for the salvation of all to justify its support?

Thanks. Bart

Welcome to the forum, Bart! Always nice to see a reader contribute posts. (As usual, I’ll post a reassurance and reminder here that all members’ first posts go automatically to the spamcatcher until the system learns differently, so don’t worry about post-delays the first three or four times. You’ll get through eventually.)

#1 is an argument, but only in the sense that people try to use Rom 6:23 as decisive evidence against universal salvation.

#2 isn’t a specific argument I use, so I’ll let other people defend it. :wink: There is more than one kind of “eonian”-meaning argument, though, so abandoning that particular one isn’t necessarily a problem for universal salvation. I’ve even seen some universalists take the route of the adjective meaning never-ending in all cases that non-universalists do. (It can’t mean never-ending in simply all cases in any case, pardon the pun. :wink: )

While that’s still a perfectly pertinent and important question, I’d have to reply that the Greek for this sentence isn’t talking about death as a fair repayment of sin. It’s talking about death being, analogically, a daily pittance paid out by a master to keep slaves alive and working, or to keep soldiers alive and fighting. So it isn’t talking about annihilation either, by the way. The contrast is between sin keeping people in slavery, and the free gift of God.

That’s a concept neutral to the question of universal salvation pro or con, too: it fits universal salvation fine, so can’t be used against it, but works okay with various versions of ECT; and even with anni, too, once a coherent supernaturalistic theism (where God is Who actively keeps creatures in existence, and so Who actively chooses whether or not they ever go out of existence) is properly accounted for. It isn’t talking about annihilation at all, so neither is it talking about whether God annihilates people or not. It would still be a bad idea to be enslaved to sin, regardless of whether annihilation is true or not.

(I may or may not have mentioned that somewhere in the linked thread, too. I usually do when I see the topic come up, like now for example, but I can’t and don’t keep track of all threads.)

Bart, welcome to the Forum. :slight_smile:
For me, the Scriptures testify to life as a human being, so in understanding Romans 6:23, as Jason has pointed out, it simply means that sin is what keeps us from living the blessed life that God offers. That being said, I personally don’t find much in the Bible that speaks of what takes place once we leave this earth. However, the Bible does say something to the effect that what may be known of God is clearly seen in the creation(Sorry, to lazy to look up the verse). Anyway, in observation of the world around me, and in using a little reasoning power, I don’t believe in annihilation, ECT, or an eternal Hell. For I do not see evidence of any of these things in the creation itself. What I have come to believe from what I see in the creation and know of God is as follows:

1.God did not create us out of nothing and if there was only God alone, eternally existing, whatever we are made of is of God Himself and is eternal as well.
2. Things do not cease to exist. By this I mean that things may cease to exist in the form they are in, but what they are made of does not.
3. Although God does not change, He is a moving Spirit and is constantly forming and reforming. So to say that we are going to be in a certain situation forever does not seem plausible.

I would say that among all of the ideas that are out there concerning the afterlife, universalism is more in line with what we see in the creation.

Hello Jason,

Thanks for the welcome.

I have no skills in Bible languages, tend to allow that after many centuries of scholarship we generally have the Bible presented in at least a reasonable rendition of the original languages into their closest English counterpart meanings for everyday understanding. Not to say there’s nothing to be gained by continued study on that level, but in some number of years in personal study I’ve yet to see exegetical minutiae carry enough weight to effect any more than subtle modification to meanings of passages. Certainly not enough to change doctrine.

I understand your explanation of death as analogy. To be sure, death surely has both spiritual and physical applications, often in the same passage, Mat 8:22 for example. But how does keeping people in slavery to sin factor in to the salvation of all?

Do you mean the analogy of *keeping slaves alive and working *is the concept neutral to UR? Can you elaborate what you mean by the comment that the concept works okay with anni once a coherent supernaturalistic theism…is accounted for? Are you saying that annihilationists use a coherent supernaturalistic approach to interpretation?

But annihilationists seem to think that “death” as it is used here, though it doesn’t explicitly spell out annihilation, also doesn’t deny it and it is reasonable for its proponents–when coupled with other passages that seem to support annihilation–to feel warranted in reading death in that context.


Note: I tagged Jason for you, Bart. I’d like to hear more of what he means by this, too.

Thank you LLC.

I can’t fault you in your thinking. The same things have occurred to me actually, though I’m at a loss to find a logical path from the eternal existence the material universe to the eternal existence of conscious existence of human beings. Maybe a “soft” form of annihilationism would be the “melting away” of consciousness while the essence and matter of the sinner is absorbed back [from a panentheistic reality] into God?

Hi BartW,
In the Concordant Literal New Testament it is translated:

Rom_6:23 “For the ration of Sin is death, yet the gracious gift of God is life eonian, in Christ Jesus, our Lord.”

Please note that “Sin” is capitalized and so is considered a monarch. Sin, as a monarch rations out death to his subjects.

This is from the Concordant Commentary on Romans 6:23:

23 Sin, like slave holders, does not pay wages, but only supplies rations. This consists, at present, in an attitude toward God which is the equivalent of death, for all Sin’s slaves avoid God’s presence. Hence their deeds will result in destruction. Neither do we, as slaves, look for wages. God not only gives, but gives graciously, or gratuitously, the very reward which is only for those whose endurance in good acts merits it—eonian life, or life for the eons (2:7).

You asked: Side Question:

Do you mean if the verses where “eternal” is used rather than “eonian” i.e., “eternal torment,” can we still prove God will save all? Yes, however there would be a major contradiction for both sides of the debate. The ET would say: “Look, this says “eternal torment” right here!” and the UR person would say, yes but this verse is very clear where God says He will save all mankind. So it was obviously important enough for God to have used the word “eon” and “eonian” for the duration of chastening rather than “eternal.”

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Ok, I’m with you so far.

This is not clear. You point out that sin creates an “attitude…equivalent to death”. Okay, probably most Christians [including me] will agree with this explanation of spiritual death. I’m assuming you see this spiritual death caused by sin to be a temporal situation. Next you mention destruction. So what kind of “destruction” do you see the sinners’ deeds causing? What is destroyed? How is it destroyed? When is it destroyed? Is there anything left over from being destroyed? If so, what…and what is the justification for supposing anything can be left over [if you take this approach]?

I meant if we read “eternal” in those instances in which tradition or Biblical scholarship has determined over time should be interpreted as “eternal”, and not modify the meaning as “possibly age. age-enduring,” etc. I agree with you that this major contradiction would (and does) exist. These questions will never be answered fully until the contradictions are resolved. I understand your point about the importance of God impressing the use of certain words, but shouldn’t we also place some degree of trust in God’s use of the consensus of scholastic efforts over many centuries which arrived at the interpretation of eonian as “eternal”? Why should the former trump the latter Eusebius?

Eusebius’ reply:
Hi again. It seems to me that as far as “destruction” is concerned, we need to get into the mind of those who lived in Christ’s day. For instance, they did not always view destruction as something irremedial. For instance Christ said He came to seek and save the lost (lit. “destroyed”) sheep of the House of Israel. The same Greek word is used for “lost” and “destroyed.” So we see being in a destroyed existence is a prerequisite to being found by the Saviour. Also, “death” is thought of differently by those in Christ’s day. It didn’t always mean a physical death as evidenced in Christ saying “let the dead be entombing the dead.” He showed it had a double meaning. “Let those who are dead to God and dead to me be entombing the literal dead. Yet you follow Me.” By following Christ as a disciple, he would be living to God and Christ rather than being like those who were dead to God and Christ.

We cannot rest on a consensus. Often the majority are wrong. There are cases too innumerable to list.
There is scholarship which contradicts the accepted majority view when it comes to aionios being eternal. If one simply goes by the rules of grammar, one would have to conclude that aionios cannot possibly have the meaning of eternal. If you want to get into that, I will supply you with my view on that.
Rather than resting on a consensus of scholars, it would be far wiser to see how God used words in the Sacred Texts. He was not bankrupt for expressing Himself clearly. It is the scholars mission which unwittingly or not seems to muddy up everything.

Hi, Bart

I haven’t read the thread, but let me give you a little of my take on the passage you posted. First, just reading this fragment of a sentence doesn’t give a real picture of what Paul was trying to say. For this, he wrote the epistle to the Romans. You just can not take this fragment out of context and have it mean much of anything. I spent quite a long time in a personal study of Romans.

On reading and meditating through Romans, it becomes obvious that Paul is using a definition of “death” that isn’t immediately apparent to most of us today. Death is what you have when you are a slave of sin–that is your portion. From a close reading of the entire letter, you can see that for Paul, in the service of his thesis, death doesn’t have much to do with that moment when the heart stops beating and the brainwaves stop undulating. Jesus seems to have the same view of death that Paul has, as evidenced by certain things He says… For example, He tells Martha (on the death of Lazarus) “Whoever lives and believes on Me shall never die.” I’m pretty sure that Martha eventually died according to the human viewpoint, and I’m sure that Jesus knew she WOULD physically die, so He must have meant something else. He also told the Pharisees that God, who is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, is not the God of the dead, but of the living. In a prayer He prays, we learn that Jesus’ view of ‘eternal’ life means something different–more–than what WE usually mean: “…and this is eternal life, that they may know You (God) and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (At least, that’s the way the writer quoted Him–probably revising a little to make it easier to understand.) For Jesus (and presumably for Paul), real life consists of knowing God.

Thus, to start with, it’s important to understand that when Paul says that the wage (portion provided by) sin is death. This is not mere physical death, but a lack, a separation from LIFE–real, genuine life. That kind of life is not a thing or a state. It is a relationship with and a oneness with LIFE Himself, with God. This is why the portion of sin is death. It’s not a punishment imposed by God–it’s a natural consequence of a life lived out of fellowship with Him and in slavery to sin.

One of the main themes of Romans is mankind’s slavery to sin and God’s incredible rescue of His creation, starting with His human offspring. Paul explains this in light of his “two Adams” analogy. The first Adam represents natural mankind. All (Jews and Gentiles and Barbarians alike) are dead in sin. One way to look at this is that because humankind always chooses to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (TOKOGE) instead of the tree of life (TOL), we are living from the wrong source. Since our source is NOT God, there is no life in us. We are merely going through the motions of biological machines and (ironically enough) that is how the scientists of the “age of reason” have taught us to think of ourselves. Bereft of the spirit of life, that is all we actually are. BUT God sent His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, to deal with sin in the flesh.(Romans 8) Jesus became a new prototype for humankind. In fact “the prototypical human” is one way to translate “Son of Man,” which was Jesus’ s favorite designation for Himself. Paul refers to Jesus as “the last Adam” and as “the second Adam.” In Romans (and elsewhere in scripture) Paul portrays God as seeing all of humankind as an outflow of Adam. Eve came from Adam, and so did all their children–clear up to and including us, today. We are all Adam. But Adam is dead. He partakes of the TOKOGE and worships the attainment and leveraging of knowledge as the means to eternal life. Adam is and always has been wrong. Adam is enslaved to sin (look around you and you will see this clearly) and the only way he can be set free from his bondage is death. THIS death designates death toward sin, not physical death. WE do not have the means to die to sin, aside from dying physically. However, the scriptures say, “Of God, we were in Christ Jesus on the cross.” God did this–HE put us there, in Christ on the cross. Jesus is, if you will, the Mercy Seat. HE is the Ark of the Covenant. We are in Him as He sacrifices Himself to save us. We cannot die to sin, so Father places us safely in the Ark and covers us over with the Mercy Seat and the Son takes us to the cross–the place of death. “He that is dead is freed from sin.”

Still in Christ, we are raised with/in Him to newness of life. I’m going to take a little side trip here. Paul explains something in Romans 6 or 7 that I think is very important. He talks about how he always seems to end up doing the sinful thing he hates rather than the good thing he would much rather do. He says, “If I do that which I hate, it is no longer I, but sin that dwells in me.” Granted, this situation is a pre-regeneration condition, however regeneration doesn’t occur in our flesh (including our thought processes) as instantly as it does in our spirits. Nevertheless, when we do sin (which we should absolutely avoid like we would avoid the most disgusting pile of doggie doo)–as I say, when we do sin, it is not ourselves as the “One New Man” in Christ who do the sin, but rather the residue of the old man (our fleshly bodies), which will not be completely saved until the resurrection. When we are saved, we are given a new heart, but we are commanded to renew our minds, and we are promised that our bodies too will be redeemed at the resurrection. Thus there are these three stages of salvation which we are brought through by the Holy Spirit.

Back to the main point–Paul is very clear, IMO, that the old Adam–ALL of the old Adam (which is to say, all humankind)–is put to death in Christ so that ALL Adam may be raised to eternal life (the God kind of life). “As in Adam all died, even so in Christ all are made alive.” I think this is in chapter nine, but I might be mistaken about that.

This is (believe it or not) a very short exposition of your “problem” verse. As you can see if I’ve expressed myself adequately, the passage describes not the state of the sinner who refuses to repent and is therefore subject to hellfire (or annihilation), but rather the state of the entire human race up until the time that we are reconciled to LIFE (AKA God). Note that it is WE who must be reconciled to Him. We are the prodigal son; He is the Good Father who is eager for His child to return to Him. God does not need to be reconciled to His offspring. He longs for His offspring to return to Him and receive His loving welcome and His blessings. He longs for us to reject death and to finally eat from the TOL and with the LIFE, to receive also the knowledge–but as a servant and not as a master or a god. “He who has offered up His Son for us, how will He not also with Him, freely give us all (things)?” ALL awaits us. When we are reconciled to the Father in the Son, we have ALL. Nothing will or can be denied to us in that blessed state of life. “The portion of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Understood. But there seems to be use of the term “destruction” in other passages using other words sufficient to lend support to the notion of annihilation. Also, see below.

While consensus is considered one of a number of truth criteria, it’s admittedly not one that carries a lot of weight. You may agree with me that it carries even less weight in Biblical issues than in the secular realm as Scripture is full of examples that the spiritual language of the Bible has a ‘hidden’ element to it by which God often used individuals to understand truths that the majority missed. This is true of virtually all the prophets.

But to suggest that I’m “resting on a consensus of scholars” is missing the point I made. My point is, perhaps by the constant poring over linguistic minutia to nudge meaning in directions we prefer Scripture to go we are missing what God is saying in Scripture. Arminians pore over word meanings to justify Arminianism. Calvinists do the same for support of Calvinism. I would gently suggest that Universalists do the same thing. I’m not condemning, we’re all trying to connect the dots.

Not entirely sure what you mean that it’s “far wiser to see how God used words in the Sacred Texts”, but it seems to me that the wisdom that comes from constant scrutiny of word meanings in order to support a doctrine may not contain as much wisdom as one might hope. Why should we suppose that God did not guide both His writers and those who have struggled over the centuries to interpret their words to give us what He wants us to know on a level which makes use of the meaning as we have it now? Surely you don’t believe that only those schooled enough to pore over lexicons to discern the subtleties of word meanings can know God’s deeper sense?

Thanks for your comments Cindy Skillman, but you’ve exerted considerable effort for naught; we have no immediate disagreement on the subject of Biblical death. I just used Rom 6:23 as a starting point for discussion of associated concepts as they pertain to salvation. I made the distinction above between spiritual death—which I agree carries no specific attachment to either the annihilationist or ET doctrines—and destruction–which seems to carry stronger annihilationist denotation. At the same time I understand where, on a broader scale, both annihilationists and eternal punishment believers incorporate passages like Rom 6:23 into their doctrine. Rest assured I’m not reading this “fragment of a sentence” as having explicit strength per se. It isn’t my “problem verse” at all. I’m more interested in seeing how all the Bible fits together.

I haven’t been here an awful lot lately, Bart, so I wasn’t and still am not aware of your leanings–so I wasn’t trying to actually convince you of anything. I just wanted to clarify something which you obviously already understood, preparatory to making my point that the passage you put forth doesn’t imply any punishment by God but rather a natural consequence. (And from that point of course, that He has delivered humankind from that death.)

From what you’ve said in your response above, should I infer that you may be leaning toward CI?

Actually I’m interested in exploring a synthetic of all three positions [UR, CI and ET], just trying to weigh concepts one against another to see where they might fit. It’s a bigger task than I have intellectual capacity to handle, but keeps me off the streets and out of the bars on weeknights. :laughing:

Hi Bart, in Scripture, often the writers employ both the literal and figurative. There is a literal death and a figurative death as Cindy has so eloquently shown. In one sentence by Christ we have both the figurative and the literal: “Let the dead bury the dead.” Which means, according to the context: “Let those who are dead to God and dead to Me (Christ) bury the literal dead. Yet you, follow me.” In following Christ, the person would be alive to God and Christ.

Now let’s discuss destruction. The elemental meaning of “destruction” is “from-whole-loose.” No one can be so annihilated that they cannot be saved. 1 Timothy 2:4-6 proves this. In fact, Christ told the disciples to beware of the leaven (teaching) of the Pharisees and Sadducees. What was their teaching? The Pharisees taught eternal conscious torment. The Sadducees taught eternal annihilation. So we need to heed Christ and beware of both eternal torment and annihilation. Jesus taught neither. He taught eonian chastening. That is chastening pertaining to the eon.

I see. Good thoughts. I would say it is possible to remove bias if one uses an unbiased translation. For instance, A.E. Knoch, who translated the Concordant Literal New Testament, and who used to believe in eternal torment, gave each Greek word a consistent standard or parent meaning. So, no matter what his current theological leanings were, he had to translate passages even if they did not agree with his theology. In so doing, he came to believe God will save all. He did not even translate the Greek words “AIWN” and “AIWNION” but brought them directly over in their Anglicized transliterated form as “eon” and “eonian.” We know aiwn’s basic meaning is “duration.” The only way we can determine the duration of an eon or eons is to base our findings on definitive verses where they state the eon ends and the eons as a whole end. Therefore we, without any bias, can determine the eons cannot possibly be eternal and therefore such a things as “eternal torment” is impossible.

Correct. I agree with the above. Many of the most brilliant scholars who have researched the original tongues of the Scriptures disagree with each other. As to your first sentence above, see my reply right above it.

Hello E,

Actually you’re presenting two separate ideas here E, and the second [1Tim 2:4-6] does not follow from the first [no one can be so annihilated that they cannot be saved]. The second is a popular set of passages used for proof texts for UR, but the first is a claim that must get its support from somewhere else in Scripture. How would you support the first?

But this is not sufficient grounds for claiming certitude about a belief. Everyone has bias. I assume Knoch claimed lack of bias in his work. Fine, but millions of people make claims—from grave diggers to college professors—that are either disingenuous about some, maybe many, of their claims, or about which they may be mistaken in their belief they are unbiased, or some combination of each.

Your claim of certitude flies in the face of lots of what appears to be knowledgeable opinion to the contrary, some of it in threads on this site…

What do you make of /u/koine_lingua's arguments? (Part 1)

…and in many places easily found if the topic is googled.

I have no interest in arguing the aiwan thing. It provides interesting word studies, it certainly gives (or should give) the traditionalist Christian some food for thought, but ultimately I find the varied universalist passages, especially in Paul’s (those books traditionally thought to be his) writings, go further in creating problems for traditional soteriology than arguing that forever means ages.

This goes back to a presupposition I admit bringing to discussion… if the Bible is the Spirit-breathed word of God, why after more than 2000 years should we suppose that He has not used both His authors and those He arguably also used to refine the authors’ words into theological coherence found today?

All of this scholarly approach ultimately ends with uncertainty. I believe it an immense waste of time. But of course, I did not realize it until thousands of hours of research. Go figure. Gid us good. Let me be clear: You can invest your entire life researching ECT, Ann, UR and at the end if your life, you still cannot be certain. Knowing this allows one to look elsewhere for answers. Namely, nature and creation. God has revealed the family and love and nature. These things teach us who God is. Amazing if we just take Jesus at his word regarding the sermon on the Mount.

Hi Gabe, thanks for the response.

I agree with the first sentence, but would say all approaches ultimately end only in various degrees of certitude (or if we see the glass half empty, degrees of incertitude); but I wouldn’t say these things are a waste of time. This may appear so to you, and there sure are times I think the whole affair of trying to build a workable metaphysic for one’s theology is never-ending. But I don’t think a scholarly approach * is a waste of time unless one’s time is spent trying to prove a falsehood by attaching convenient truths to it. If the search is ultimately for truth, it’s always worth the effort imo.

So I’m guessing you favor a naturalistic approach to theology?*

I both agree and disagree with Gabe’s assessment of the worth of scholarly pursuits.

I totally get the idea that all the scholarly stuff is a waste of time. In the end, it’s absolutely about relationship. People often approach the Bible as though it is the be-all and end-all reference to God–or even in some cases as though the Bible itself is somehow at least a lesser divinity. No matter how correct we are in interpreting the original languages, it’s vital to remember that the Bible is a book ABOUT God, written by fallible human beings who have nevertheless been INSPIRED by the Holy Spirit to write. It is also READ by fallible human beings who have been inspired to seek after and find God. You will find some help in scripture toward finding God, but ultimately He and He alone can reveal Himself to you–whether through scripture, through the love of His other children, through the “book of nature,” through direct communication from the Holy Spirit, or in some other way. To minutely parse controversial passages and squeeze every possible drop of meaning from them is a hard job for life-long dedicated scholars–and not even THEY come to the same conclusions as one another. Many are led astray by their intellectual deep-diving into missing the whole point–which is and always will be: God is Love, Light, Life.

That said, when treated as a handmaiden and not a mistress, scholarly study of the Bible can also be incredibly helpful–especially in loving those who do approach the scriptures as some sort of demigod. I absolutely believe the scriptures were given us as a tool to help us know and share God with one another. Intellectual pursuits, however, can go too far–and then we find ourselves eating from the wrong tree. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (TOKOGE) IS good for food and pleasant to the senses and desirable to make one wise–but ONLY in the right time and in the right context. The Tree of Life (TOL) is relationship–oneness with Father–getting all the things the TOKOGE has to offer, but through the conduit of our most important Relationship. Jesus died to bring us to reconciliation with our Heavenly Father, not to reunite us with the scriptures. What do you think of a young child who rejects the wisdom of his parents in order to gain wisdom through books and other media? I think we have a word to describe this child: deceived. Yes, he may learn many of the things his parents would have taught him anyway, but to learn it in the context of mere intellectual pursuit apart from human relationship is dangerous, especially to the inexperienced. When we read the scriptures apart from the Holy Spirit’s guiding hand, we become legalistic or scholarly only or judgmental, etc. When we learn from the Holy Spirit (with or without the written word–as many throughout history do not and/or have not had access to it), then we become wise.

Sorry to diverge from the topic–I just couldn’t resist. Go back to Ro 6:23…

Establishing context is supposed to be a scholarly discipline. Great overall scope of understanding sets the tone of our discussions, and removes the fiery sword that prevents our access to the tree of life. Great context Cindy.

Hi Bart, I realize you don’t want to argue "the aiwn thing. But for those who at least want to see a cogent response to the link above supplied by Bart, maybe this will help.

First of all, I won’t go into all the particulars of the author in the link supplied but rather, due to time constraints, hone in on a weakness of his. That weakness is this: “aion can mean eternal.” That is patently false. The Bible, from which we get what we determine truth to be from God, tells us the eons end. Each eon ends individually and collectively. Therefore, at least according to God, no eon or eons can be eternal. Only in man’s misguided attempts can aiwn be suggested to be eternal. Therefore, also, that which is eonian, being the adjective of its root “aiwn” cannot possibly be eternal any more than “American” being the adjective of its root noun “America” be greater than its noun; Heavenly and Heaven likewise.
Furthermore, we are to shy away from “1Ti_4:2 the hypocrisy of false expressions.” If a person is two-faced, they are a hypocrite. If a word can mean eternal AND mean a limited period, that is hypocrisy. God is not the author of confusion. Since the Bible says the eons end individually and collectively, such statements that an aiwn can be eternal and be of limited duration is contrary to the Sacred Scriptures and should be seen as false.

There just is no such critter as “eternal torment.” Now then, it is possible that torment can be everlasting as long as one understands that the torment lasts for an ever. Since “ever” is an “aiwn”, no ever in ever-lasting can be eternal.
In Romans 16:26 where it is stated that God is the eonian God, this is not telling us about God’s duration but rather His relationship to the eons. He is over the eons, directing the goal of each eon and subjecting mankind to each specific goal He has for each eon.

Of course the Universalist understanding should create problems for traditional soteriology. This is not my problem, though. It is their problem.

That depends upon which authors you are talking about who refine the Author’s words into theological coherence found today. How do you determine which author(s) are of God and which are not? Do you have a checklist to determine which author is of God and which isn’t? Please supply us with your criteria.