The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Scholarly EUs Assemble!

As could you. Let’s stop playing.

If John 17:3 were defining aionios life as “that they may know God & Jesus Christ” (which sounds rather odd for a definition to be expressed that way), the definition looks even weirder when you try to apply it elsewhere. You end up with, for a few examples, these:

Mt.25:46 And they will go away into aionion punishment, but the righteous into (that they may know God and Jesus)."
Mark 10:17 As Jesus started on His way, a man ran up and knelt before Him. “Good Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit (that I may know God and Jesus)?”
Lk.10:25 One day an expert in the law stood up to test Him. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit (that i may know God and Jesus)?”
Mk.10:29 “Truly I tell you,” said Jesus, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for My sake and for the gospel
30 will fail to receive a hundredfold in the present age — houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and fields, along with persecutions — and to
receive (that they may know God and Jesus) in the age to come.
Lk.18:18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit (that i may know God and Jesus)?”
Titus 1:1 Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ in service of the faith of God’s elect and of their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness,
2 in the hope of (that we may know God and Jesus), which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began.
Titus 3:6 This is the Spirit He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by His grace, we would become heirs
with the hope of (that we may know God and Jesus).

Is John 17:3 the definition of aionios life that applies to all contexts of the Scriptures? Or merely a description of aionios life? And an incomplete one, that does not tell us the whole story, i.e. everything that Scripture reveals about it?

If John 17:3 qualifies as a definition, are these expressions of a similar form also definitions:

“… His commandment is aionios life” (Jn.12:50)
Jesus Christ “is the true God and aionios life” (1 Jn.5:20)
“This is My body” (Lk22:19, re bread in His hand/s)
“God is light” (1 Jn.1:5)
“it is eonian life that they may know Thee…” (Jn.17:3)

Jn.17:2 according as Thou givest Him authority over all flesh, that everything which Thou hast given to Him, He should be giving it to them, even life eonian." 3 Now it is eonian life that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Him Whom Thou dost commission, Jesus Christ. (CLV)

"The knowledge of God is not given as the definition of eonian life, but eonian life is imparted that they may be knowing Him (Concordant Commentary p.167 re John 17:3).

The word “that” in “that they may know Thee” (Jn.17:3) expresses purpose: “for the purpose that (in order that), looking to the aim (intended result) of the verbal idea.”

“This is life eternal - This is the source of eternal life; or it is in this manner that it is to be obtained.” (Barnes)

If anything brings quality to the expression “life aionios” in all its contexts, it is not the word “aionios”, but the word “life”. Aionios regards duration, not quality. In 2 Cor.4:18-5:1 it is contrasted 3 times in 3 consecutive verses with other durations that are “momentary”, for a season (proskairos), and relatively brief.

Yes odd indeed… this is a fundamental misunderstanding something really basic. Jesus did NOT mean by the term eternalthat they may know God & Jesus Christ” and thereby all those extraneously stretched examples. Rather… knowing God in Christ brings FULLNESS of aka eternal life. A young couple describe their love for each other as eternal — they are NOT describing love’s longevity BUT rather the depth, richness and fullness thereof — this is how the qualitative works, and it works well for an understanding of Mt 25:46. IOW… there was a fullness of reckoning coming — for some this would be good news, for others, not so much.

The topic is the alleged existence of a definition of a two word (as opposed to a single word, “eternal”) phrase “aionios life” in John 17:3. If you don’t think that definition is expressed by the paraphrase of Jesus’ words "that they may know God & Jesus Christ”, feel free to point out what words in John 17:3 do express that definition.

BTW, i would add, in John 17:3 Jesus doesn’t say “this is [one, or the only true, definition or meaning of] aionios life”… Likewise He doesn’t say “this is [the reason for, or purpose of, being given/as per v.2] aionios life”… Neither does He say “this is [the prerequisite for obtaining] aionios life”…

If “fulness” was meant instead of what was written, why wouldn’t the text have expressed that with the word “fulness”? Is it your opinion the being tormented “into the eons of the eons” (Rev.20:10) should be translated as “fullness” of torments & the going into aionion kolasin (Mt.25:46) should be rendered “fullness of punishment”?

An expression of “eternal love” often speaks of the duration of the commitment to one another, that it will be enduring, till death do we part. By association this suggests the depths of their love, that it isn’t superficial, but real enough that it will last for a lifetime. But what does any of this English lingo have to do with the ancient dead language Koine Greek word, aionios, of 2000 years ago? Or the expression “aionios life”?

Sorry Origen I thought I would hazard another attempt to engage but I can see due to given perceptions we’ll probably just end up talking past each other which will probably be less than fruitful. I’m hopeful others who although maybe not agreeing with me might at least get the gist of what I’m saying. Blessings to you.

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Leaving aside all the universalist authors & scholars who’ve written articles & books on the subject, and the universalist early church fathers, even many (or perhaps a majority of) pro endless punishment biased scholars & lexicons disagree with that statement.

Adjectives typically reflect the meaning of corresponding nouns. I suggest the evidence confirms typical use applies re aion & aionios in the NT context & its Author’s usage of the words therein: What do you make of /u/koine_lingua’s arguments? (Part 1)

If that is the case, then for aionios to be defined as eternal or permanent in the Scriptures, wouldn’t the noun aion also have to mean eternal or permanent? But when you apply that to the uses of aion in the NT it makes many passages into nonsense. For a few examples:

I am with you all the days, until the end of the permanent(aion/eon) Mt.28:20
The harvest is the end of the permanent(aion/eon) Mt.13:39
so will it be at the end of the permanent(aion/eon) Mt.13:40

OTOH the translation eon for aion (& eonian for aionios) removes the nonsense.

BTW, for a few examples, amongst many, of universalist POV on aionios:

I’ve already reasoned elsewhere on this site why I don’t agree with the prevalent purgatorial universalism (PU) espoused by some, which is what you’ve described above.

Yep, the full gamut of what that physical judgement/end might entail… nothing more and nothing less. Thus in this regard “repentance” was all about the changed mindset that reflected a belief in the warnings given to Israel… and so actioned accordingly.

There are many ancient Greek examples where aionios doesn’t mean eternal, as already documented in this thread. Even a number of (if not the majority of) pro ECT/CI scholars acknowledge that the word is used of finite duration.

Scripture rejects various ancient Greek extra biblical definitions of words such as aion & aionios. For example, Scripture & its Divine Author reject ancient Greek philosophers definition of aionios & aion as timeless eternity. God, in His word, also rejected the ancient Greek extra biblical definition of aion as spinal marrow. Likewise, He also rejected the ancient Greek definition of aion as an evil Aeon being.

Therefore, you can’t point to secular pagan usage of these words and then conclude that is their meaning in the NT. In the NT God defines His own terms the way He wants them to be defined, which is in accord with NT context & usage, not some yahoo decades or hundreds of years before He inspired it.

Furthermore, in the NT context, universalism is God’s truth. Therefore any references in the Biblical context to aion or aionios eschatological punishment require these two Greek words refer to durations that are finite. That is how Love Omnipotent infallibly defines them. Any contrary definitions outside of the Scriptures are irrelevant.

The Divine author in the NT context gave His own definition of the words aion & aionios, just as others have given their definitions, such as several examples i’ve listed above, which He rejected.

Additionally, if aionios meant eternal in eschatological punishment passages, then shouldn’t aion do likewise & mean eternal in such contexts, such as those pointed out here:

Moreover, if aionios means eternal, then shouldn’t “into the ages of the ages” also mean eternal (i.e. forever)? I’ve argued against that here:

“12 points re forever and ever being finite”:

I have remained somewhat reserved in this thread. I don’t want to be rude, nor appear rude, but keep dreaming and thinking about this discussion. I’ll make a few comments, and from the outset I hope not to offend. These are off the cuff, and on my cell phone.

  1. I have read quite a few works from Stewart James Felker. I especially found his aionios post & Universalism a bit of a strawman. The rules of engagement were so strict, that they left no room for further discourse. It’s like when kids play a game, and one the kids says ok, the rules are this, except you can’t do “listing tons of extra rules not normally found in the game”. No one even wants to play the game with those rules.

Effectively your potential gift to charity was a farce, you knew full well someone couldn’t come up with anything as you closed any exceptions in the rules.

  1. Your blog stated you hoped to interact, yet in the 6 or so articles I read, people commented and you did not engage them. Basically it felt your blog was very much an opinion piece.

  2. You wrongly assert or presume that the universalist central pillar is based on aionios and tampering with it and when pointed on in the comments of your article, you didn’t engage/respond.

these are my impressions, I may be off base here, but that is how I see it.

That said, I happened to come across an interesting article that I found lined up rather well my current belief regarding the matter. I suppose the reason I don’t consider your (Koine_Lingua/Stewart JF) stance a slam dunk, is that this argument has been around for centuries and no one seems to have cracked it, besides you of course (wink, wink).

Anyhow, I would post the entire thing in this thread, but I don’t want to violate this fella’s copyright. Even so, I found his perspective pretty reasonable on the matter that I’d probably lump myself right in there with him on this. I suppose you could say the arrogance of scholars really gets to me, in that they think they have it all figured out. Seems most scholars don’t have a lot of give and take, and pretty much think they have it right. Professional, amateur or otherwise… Anyhow, i thought the piece below was good.

Time or Character, The Ages or A Time Sequence in aionios
How Words “Mean” in Greek and English
Dr. Orville Boyd Jenkins

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you knew full well someone couldn’t come up with anything as you closed any exceptions in the rules.

In a sense, that’s just as much because of the obvious universalist lack of evidence (or lack of competence in parsing the evidence) as it is the overly specific rules or whatever. It’s like expecting Young Earth creationists to come up with some persuasive argument against evolution. It’s just not going to happen in light of the massively overwhelming evidence.

And I’m never going to apologize for expecting people who want to comment on complex matters of Greek philology/lexicography to actually know Greek. It’s incredible that people even think that it’s even possible for people to comment on complex matters of Greek philology/lexicography without it. In literally every other field of study in the world, it’s standard procedure for people to actually be academically competent before we take what they say seriously. You (hopefully) wouldn’t comment on really complicated academic matters of marine biology if you had just read a couple of news articles on it or whatever. But bring religious faith into the picture, and all of a sudden everyone’s magically an expert. (Some people think that their religious faith literally gives them a magical ability to interpret texts.)

In any case, as for the challenge/reward, it’s actually quite broad. For example, I’ve said over and over that if anyone can just produce a single example where aionios is more persuasively to be interpreted as something like “eschatological” than the traditional interpretation, this would qualify.

Now, I’ve tried to be as clear as possible here; but I suppose it’s possible that people could misunderstand what “produce a single example where aionios is more persuasively to be interpreted as something like ‘eschatological’ than the traditional interpretation” means.

The keyword here is probably “more persuasively.” What I believe – what all the facts suggest – is that there are numerous examples where interpreting aionios along traditional lines is more persuasive than in the revisionist, “eschatological” interpretation. Now, there are some instances where there just isn’t enough data or context to be able to say for certain one way or the other. (Let’s call this the “neutral” or agnostic option.) But, again, to the best of my knowledge, there are no instances where it more plausibly means “eschatological” than either the traditional interpretation or the neutral or agnostic option. (And recall that with the neutral option, this means that it’s just as likely that it means “everlasting” or “permanent” than “eschatological.”)

This isn’t some abstract or insurmountable challenge. I mean, literally, all someone would have to do is cite a Biblical verse or a passage from a non-Biblical book or whatever. Ramelli and Konstan have written basically an entire book trying to defend this. But no competent linguist is going to agree with them. And I’ve also offered over and over to bring in actual professional linguists.

Even so, I found his perspective pretty reasonable on the matter that I’d probably lump myself right in there with him on this. I suppose you could say the arrogance of scholars really gets to me, in that they think they have it all figured out.

Literally anyone with even a modicum of linguistic competence already knows all of the more general claims he makes in the article (“Meaning resides in syntax and usage!”, etc.) – which account for the bulk of the article anyways. The distinction between “eternal” as “beginning-less and endless” vs. merely “endless” is also one that everyone recognizes, and which I’ve also reiterated many times. (That’s why I almost always refer to “everlasting” here, instead of “eternal.”)

Again, notice that of the, I dunno, 70 or so mini-paragraphs in that article, all of maybe 10 really addressed aionios directly. And they’re extremely unimpressive. They basically just assert that aionios refers to the “messianic age” – this is pretty much exactly the same as the “eschatological” interpretation – without any evidence whatsoever. A broken link to another article. And then things like

The Greek word, and the messianic idea it attempts to represent, are focused on condition or character, not time or length of time. In focus is a new age that is different from the current age, in kind and quality. The focus is not on how long in terms of time sequence.

Basically no evidence at all brought forward to support that, though. Literally not even a single citation of an actual Biblical or non-Biblical text.

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Also, I resent your earlier bullshit about my not accepting universalism because conditionalism is any easier target to criticize Christianity for or whatever. Seriously, get the fuck out of here with that bullshit.

I would ask that you remain civil. This type of paragraph effectively stops all communication.

I agree with your assessment, Gabe. But if one is going to use them, there is a way of using the censored version at Correct usage of replacing cuss words with symbols. Please note that there are 2 answers given.

Of course, we could all learn a lesson or two - from Pulp Fiction (about We’re gonna be cool… like Fonzie

P.S. Please don’t watch this short YouTube video,…In the Pulp Fiction segment, and not the Happy Days segment…if you don’t like a bit of offensive language. :slight_smile:

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Pearl-clutching like this is unbecoming for a supposed agnostic (which I’m growing more skeptical of, considering how much shit you talked about the “arrogance of scholars” and stuff – which is suspiciously similar to typical fundamentalist crap).

If you want to hang with the big boys, you’re going to have to think like them and accept the way they talk. At the very minimum, you shouldn’t be a hypocrite, making offensive accusations and then clutching your (supposedly agnostic) pearls when someone responds sternly. Unless hypocrisy is okay in your agnostic ethics or whatever.

I agree. And I look forward to watching, AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead tonight. In the meantime, I’m watching some Japanese zombie Anime. And wondering if the “big boys”, are the Japanese heroes or the zombies.

The ‘big boys’ need profanity to make their point?? Maybe on the playground. What a bunch of pretentious crap. Or more likely, there’s some trolling going on…


I can see you are upset, as you keep editing and changing your reply to me. I am sorry that I have seemingly send you into a rage. That wasn’t or isn’t my goal.

As for accepting how scholars talk? I have never met a scholar who goes off in a cussing tyrade. I am sure it happens, we are all human. I don’t think you will be able to convince me that this is normal in any type of correspondence besides that of politics, and for obvious reasons! I don’t aim to be a hypocrite, so I’ll take your criticism seriously and see where I can improve.

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In the interest of “public service” to this forum, I present Cursing Without Cursing

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After taking some time to reflect a bit, I’d like to clarify a few things, and of course, apologize for calling you arrogant via my lumping you in with all scholars. My statement was careless and probably left better unsaid. Though, I would like to state why I have such opinions. I’ll expound on that now, if you will indulge me.

There is zero doubt in my mind that you are an intelligent person. I don’t typically make any distinction over self taught vs institutionally taught. In some ways, the former is superior, as you can are free to truly make up your own mind. In that regard, based on your posts, I see no difference between your proficiency of Greek and that of a professional scholar. Hopefully I am clear on this and to reiterate, I greatly respect your scholarship.

I agree with your general viewpoint of Aionios, the part I don’t agree with is that there isn’t a good way to quantify an ambiguous passage that uses it just because of “X out of X times it is used in such and such a way, therefore we will go with the majority” I mean, it is logical, but it isn’t the same type of logical that you can get in real hard science. There are too many exceptions to it. Take for example, my writing? I am often a poor communicator, and frequently not specific enough that it can get me into trouble. This, conceivably, can be applied to anyone, probably even more so in the past! So looking back 500 years from now, people would no doubt probably be confused by some of the things I write. I blame that on me, totally.

To maybe make it more clear, let’s say we have a passage where we are not “sure” what it means, I respect thoughts like this “Well, the majority of the time, it meant this and it seems to fit, so I think this is probable” - That type of thought process I can get behind. But, I cannot get behind “Because it was used 9 times out 10, there is zero doubt this passage means so and so”. I think, and maybe this is my hangup, I am so opposed to dogma that cannot be backed up by repeatable tests. Unfortunately, that means I treat history with a non-dogmatic approach saying “According to”, “It seems likely”, “This might be what they had in mind”, “We think”… Whereas with hard science, we can say “Every time we run this test, we get these results”. The data can be quantified. So I freely admit, just because this is my hangup with history, doesn’t mean it has to be yours. My upbringing has caused me to knee-jerk in reaction to dogmatic assertions that cannot be proved.

Additionally, after reading many different scholars and knowing that this little word and it’s derivatives has been in dispute for a long time, I am very skeptical over declaring anything. But, I admit, I may have misunderstand your position until just recently. Your most recent reply with content regarding this cleared up this misconception of mine and I will take all the blame for not understanding.

One thing I didn’t see you admit, however, is that the Universalism doesn’t hinge on the translation of this single word even with those who hold to Biblical Innerancy, which is something I most definitely do not agree with. I can assure you that I am no fundamentalist, but at one point, about 20 years ago I was! I may have more distaste for fundamentalist Christian’s than you!

I don’t like to make enemies and I do not set out to offend. I apologize for saying things that caused you resentment, and would seek to be more careful with my words in the future.



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