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.”

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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.

“Regarding the argument that if the punishment of the unbelievers has an end, then the life of the believers has an end also at the end of the ages.

But life cannot end at that time because death is abolished (1 Cor. 15:26). The life of the eons ends when all are vivified at the end or consummation of the eons (1 Cor. 15:24).

Life itself, however, continues on interminably.”

“Regarding the argument that in 2 Cor. 4:18 eonian must mean eternal because it is set in contrast with the word temporal meaning enduring for time as opposed to eternity.

But the Greek word translated temporal has no connection with the word for time; it is literally ‘toward season,’ and means temporary or for the era. In this passage eonian is used in contrast between our afflictions which last for a brief season, and our promised long enduring eonian glory, which lasts until all opens out into the glorious consummation when God become All in all.” -William C. Rebman-

All death swallowed in God Life

Word for today=


For a season.

Rendered “temporal” in 2 Cor. 4.18

The Greek word translated temporal has no connection with the word for time; it is literally ‘toward season,’ and means temporary or for the era. In this passage eonian is used in contrast between our afflictions which last for a brief season, and our promised long enduring eonian glory, which lasts until all opens out into the glorious consummation when God become All in all.

If you are saying that “αιωνιον” (which for some reason you call it “eonian”) does not mean “eternal”, then you are right, but I’m not sure why you are bringing this up. I am unaware of anyone on this forum making the argument that if the punishment of the unbelievers has an end, then the life of the believers has an end also at the end of the ages.

However, the passage that Sven asked to be translated in Sven’s Greek sentence contains the word “αιδιον” which means “eternal” and which I translated as “eternal.”

Dear Paidion: You do know, however, many good meaning Christians equate the scope of punishment in exactly the context of aionian life. Fortunately the members on this forum should know better.

The Greek word “αιωνιος” means “lasting.”
αιωνιος life is lasting. αιωνιος punishment is lasting.
Even God is said to be αιωνιος (Romans 16:26). For He is lasting—albeit also eternal.

Dear Paidion: Aionios life & aionios punishment are not time related, and as such are in the realm of quality, far beyond duration.

“This is life aionios, that we may know You…”

Aionios kolasis is also a quality of punishment, and as such is indeed lasting till the purpose of the Aidios One has been completely satisfied.

Dear qaz: Can you tell us what is before aionios?

“In hope of aionios life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before aionios began.”

Dear qaz: the foundation for the koine aionios is the Hebrew olam. Your next question=

Is the scope of aionios in union with the scope of olam?

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Which book?

YES… “Aionios kolasis is also a quality of punishment” as indeed is the “life aiōnios” and yet BOTH these typically do fall and outwork within a durative period. BUT you are absolutely right… aiōnios really denotes a qualitative understanding, and that can be understood in terms of FULLNESS or COMPLETENESS of said life / punishment — and in terms of the pantelist view this is exactly what occurred in Israel’s end of the age parousaic conflagrations of AD70 that Jesus prophesied about.

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Odd, Qaz.

The Greek aion is understood by many to be a temporal term for a period of time of indefinite length—but with a definite beginning, and a definite end. In English it can be rendered as an “eon/aeon” or an “age.”

Aionios is the adjective form of aion, and would therefore be used to describe something lasting for an age, or, as Young’s Literal Translation always puts it, something “age-during.”

Regarding the Greek aion purportedly meaning “eternity,” we can see from Gerry Beauchemin’s following examples that such a definition would not make much sense:

Consider the N. T. use of aion. Does “eternity” make any sense in the following passages? To make my point unmistakable, I have translated the Greek word aion with the English word “eternity.”

¨ What will be the sign…of the end of the eternity (Mt. 24:3)?

¨ I am with you…to the end of the eternity (Mt. 28:20).

¨ The sons of this eternity are more shrewd (Lu. 16:8).

¨ The sons of this eternity marry (Lu. 20:34).

¨ Worthy to attain that eternity (Lu. 20:35).

¨ Since the eternity began (Jn. 9:32; Ac. 3:21).

¨ Conformed to this eternity (Ro. 12:2).

¨ Mystery kept secret since the eternity began but now made manifest (Ro. 16:25-26).

¨ Where is the disputer of this eternity (1Co. 1:20)?

¨ Wisdom of this eternity, nor of the rulers of this eternity… ordained before the eternities… which none of the rulers of this eternity… (1Co. 2:6-8)

¨ Wise in this eternity ( 1Co. 3:18).

¨ Upon whom the ends of the eternities have come. (1Co. 10:11)

¨ God of this eternity has blinded (2Co. 4:4).

¨ Deliver us from this present evil eternity (Ga. 1:4).

¨ Not only in this eternity but also in that which is to come (Ep. 1:21).

¨ Walked according to the eternity of this world (Ep. 2:2).

¨ In the eternities to come (Ep. 2:7).

¨ From the beginnings of the eternities (Ep. 3:9).

¨ Hidden from eternities…but now…revealed (Col. 1:26).

¨ Loved this present eternity (2Ti. 4:10).

¨ Receive him for eternity (Ph.1:15). Does this mean forever or only until Onesimus dies?

¨ Powers of the eternity to come (He. 6:5).

¨ At the end of the eternities (He. 9:26).

¨ We understand the eternities have been prepared by a saying of God (He. 11:3).

How can we say…

¨ “Before eternity” or “eternity began”? Eternity has no beginning (Jn. 9:32; Ac. 3:21; 1Co. 2:7; Ep. 3:9).

¨ “Present eternity,” “eternity to come,” and “end of eternity?” Eternity transcends time. Only God is eternal (Mt. 24:3; 28:20; 1Co. 10:11; 2Ti. 4:10; He. 6:5; 9:26).

¨ “This eternity,” “that eternity,” or “eternities”? There is only one eternity (Lu. 16:8; 20:34-35; Ro. 12:2; 1Co. 1:20; 2:6-8; 3:18; 10:11; 2Co. 4:4; Ga. 1:4; Ep. 1:21; 2:2, 7; 3:9; Col. 1:26; 2Ti. 4:10; He. 11:3).

¨ “Eternal secret” if the secret is revealed? (Ro. 16:25-26; Col. 1:26). It is no longer a “secret” at that point.

¨ Onesimus will be Philemon’s slave for eternity? Is he still his slave (Phil. 1:15)?

Scores of passages demonstrate that aion is of limited duration.

Furthermore, Beauchemin quotes from several expert sources to support the idea that aion has to do with limited time. For example (my emphases):

Dr. Helena Keizer is a trustworthy authority on the definition of aiōn in ancient Greek literature, including the Bible in the time of Christ. Keizer published a 315-page doctoral dissertation titled: “Life, Time, Entirety – A Study of Aiōn in Greek Literature and Philosophy, the Septuagint and Philo.” Presented on September 7, 1999 in Holland, at Amsterdam University. Keizer stated:

Olām and hence aiōn in the Biblical sense is time constituting the human temporal horizon.” “Our study has led to the conclusion that infinity is not an intrinsic or necessary connotation of aiōn, either in the Greek or in the Biblical usage (‘olām ).” “To speak of ‘this aiōn ’, its ‘end,’ and ‘the aiōn to come’ clearly lends to aiōn the meaning of a limited time.” “The following description of Gregory of Nyssa…makes a good finishing point for now: ‘Aeon designates temporality, that which occurs within time.’

Also, Beauchemin quotes (or misquotes?) from your Ramelli book (my emphases):

Terms for Eternity is another scholarly work on aiōn by David Konstan and Ilaria Ramelli. Konstan is the John Rowe Workman Distinguished Professor of Classics and Professor of Comparative Literature, at Brown University in R.I. Ramelli is Assistant Professor of Ancient Philosophy at the Catholic University of Milan, Italy. They agree with the conclusions of Dr. Keizer. They wrote:

Apart from the Platonic philosophical vocabulary, which is specific to few authors, aiónios does not mean “eternal”; it acquires this meaning only when it refers to God, and only because the notion of eternity was included in the conception of God: for the rest, it has a wide range of meanings and its possible renderings are multiple, but it does not mean “eternal.” In particular when it is associated with life or punishment, in the Bible and in Christian authors who keep themselves close to the Biblical usage, it denotes their belonging to the world to come.” (Page 238)


Thank you qaz.
The book is expensive but I have found a thorough summary (below) which is well worth the read (or at the least 5. Conclusion). I don’t think it supports your view: