My Hell-Burner brothers will use this particular quotation as evidence that Jesus taught eternal damnation. How do I counter?
If we are talking in terms of the Peshitta, which has a case for being the original language of scripture, then we are dealing with the word ‘olam’ in reference to the eternal.
Here’s what one site has to say about the word ‘olam’:
As for aionios, the word found in the Greek translations, the same basic case can be made. It is a word having to do with the concept of an age, and where we get the word ‘eon’.
And as for any objections to this saying that such a punishment could not serve God’s purposes, I would say this: a punishment that seems to be never-ending, extending to the very horizon, is enough to create hopelessness for the sinful nature. If release from such punishment is to be seen as only in God’s hands, then the sinner must give up all hope for any other kind of escape and simply become good, accept God’s way and His everlasting love, in order to escape.
Eternal death is, in fact, a good description of what the sinful state is. Completely self-entrenching, wrapping the sinner up in his own personal world of death - hell. This hell is within a person’s subconscious (James 3:6) and even in this life taints our very existence.
Isn’t the concept of ‘eternity’ rooted in the concept of a loop rather than a straight line extending without end? The latter seems to be a modern geometric concept that seems rather illogical (see also Hilbert’s Hotel paradox).
Good comment, Justin. I love the Peshitta ref.
Also, the noun being used for punishment in this case, is an agricultural metaphor for brisk cleaning. It isn’t necessarily a hopeless thing in regard to an object; quite the contrary. (The metaphor is similar to the idea of sulfur and fire both being ancient common anti-infection remedies.)
A few of us (myself primarily around here) also argue extensively that the adjective “eonian” has a New Testament (and maybe Old Testament Greek) usage similar to the Jewish euphamism for God “the Everlasting”. So whole-ruination, fire, crisising, brisk cleaning, life, even God Himself in a way, and various other things, can be described as coming from God’s own essence this way. There are several threads where this is discussed in detail, pro and con; although I’m too lazy^H^H^H^Htired to look them up right now.