The Evangelical Universalist Forum

The Meaning Of Aionios In the New Covenant


Aidios was used as a time word, I don’t agree with this explanation, however it was used sometimes in a more limited sense too as has been argued by some universalist scholars, I was able to confirm this quote:

The Peloponnesian War, Book 6, chapter 24, section 3, can be find here:

All alike fell in love with the enterprise. The older men thought that they would either subdue
the places against which they were to sail, or at all events, with so large a force, meet with no
disaster; those in the prime of life felt a longing for foreign sights and spectacles, and had no
doubt that they should come safe home again; while the idea of the common people and the
soldiery was to earn wages at the moment, and make conquests that would supply a neverending fund of pay [aidion misthophoran] for the future.

The context suggests that it didn’t meant literally everlasting there, a commentary states: “aidion misthophoran - this is explained by editors to mean that the addition of Sicily to the empire would lead to continual campaigns; but Gilbert rightly paraphrases: ‘they hoped to get permanent employment out of the acquisition somehow’: misthophora is used loosely for pay for any services.”


Professor Knapp, the author of an edition of the Greek Testament, one in use in many colleges, observes

“The pure idea of eternity is too abstract to have been conceived in the early ages of the world, and accordingly is not found expressed by any word in the ancient languages. But as cultivation advanced and this idea became more distinctly developed, it became necessary in order to express it to invent new words in a new sense, as was done with the words eternitas, perennitas, etc. The Hebrews were destitute of any single word to express endless duration. To express a past eternity they said before the world was; a future, when the world shall be no more. . . . The Hebrews and other ancient people have no one word for expressing the precise idea of eternity.”

Hasting’s Dictionary of the New Testament

“There is no word either in the O.T. Hebrew or in the N.T. Greek to express the abstract idea of eternity.” (p. 542 Vol. I


It is true that “αιδιος” (eternal) is not found in any Greek translation of the Old Testament, but I don’t see why the concept of “forever” would be to abstract for the ancients. Did they think that time itself would some day come to an end?


I have read that they didn’t have such sophisticated concepts of time and eternity, things were either long in the past or long in the future, the meaning or idea of olam seems to head in this direction. On the other hand there are symbols for infinity, I think looking like an 8.

Greek thought is irrelevant in this matter anyway, aion in the Bible most likely means whatever olam means.

This is a good article, but the author might go too far when he claims the idea of infinity was entirely absent to the ancients:

BTW, in 4 Maccabees, it speaks about eternal (aidios) life for the pious and enonian punishment for the tyrant, this might actually mean a limited punishment then.

It is 4 Maccabees 10:15

μὰ τὸν μακάριον τῶν ἀδελφῶν μου θάνατον καὶ τὸν αἰώνιον τοῦ τυράννου ὄλεθρον καὶ τὸν ἀΐδιον τῶν εὐσεβῶν βίον οὐκ ἀρνήσομαι τὴν εὐγενῆ ἀδελφότητα

12:12 is also relevant

ἀνθ’ ὧν ταμιεύσεταί σε ἡ δίκη πυκνοτέρῳ καὶ αἰωνίῳ πυρὶ καὶ βασάνοις αἳ εἰς ὅλον τὸν αἰῶνα οὐκ ἀνήσουσίν σε

I found no correct translation so far, maybe you or anyone else can translate it, I can only tell the existing ones are imprecise, the book also has the impression aionios bazanos, which is rendered eternal torment.


Jesus gives us a definition of æonial life in John 17.3.

"This is life æonial to know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent."


Not quantity>>>>>>quality of life.


Jeff Benner, 20+ years teaching Biblical Hebrew and Bible interpretation.

From a Biblical Hebrew perspective, the Hebrew word עולם ( olam ) literally means “beyond the horizon.” When looking off in the far distance it is difficult to make out any details and what is beyond that horizon cannot be seen. This concept is olam .

Hebrew words used for space are also used for time, so the word olam is also used for the distant past or the distant future, as a time that is difficult or impossible to know or perceive. This word is frequently translated as “eternity,” meaning a continual span of time that never ends. In the Hebrew mind it is simply what is at or beyond the horizon, a very distant time.

A common phrase in the Hebrew Bible is “ l’olam va’ed, ” usually translated as “forever and ever,” but in Biblical Hebrew means “to the distant horizon and again,” meaning “a very distant time and even further.”

The root of olam is עלם (Ah.L.M) and means “to conceal,” hence you can easily see the connection between being “beyond the horizon” and “being concealed.”


Here is my translation:
Because of the blessed death of my brothers and the lasting destruction of the tyrant, and the eternal life of the devout, I will not renounce the noble brotherhood.

However ,I am not sure of the first two words of my translation. It’s my translation of μὰ. But the usual translation of μὰ is “but.” However, to so translate it, does not seem to make sense.