John W. Hanson -
THE GREEK WORD
AIÓN -- AIÓNIOS,
Everlasting -- Eternal
SHOWN TO DENOTE LIMITED DURATION.
REV. JOHN WESLEY HANSON, A.M.
Editor of THE NEW COVENANT
NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSALIST PUBLISHING HOUSE
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1875
BY J. W. HANSON,
In the office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington
N.T. SMITH Print. 286 Wabash Ave., CHICAGO
The verbal pivot on which swings the question, Does the
Bible teach the doctrine of Endless Punishment? Is the word Aión
and its derivatives and reduplications. The author of this treatise has
endeavored to put within brief compass the essential facts pertaining to
the history and use of the word, and he thinks he has conclusively shown
that it affords no support whatever to the erroneous doctrine. It will
generally be conceded that the tenet referred to is not contained in the
Scriptures if the meaning of endless duration does not reside in the
controverted word. The reader is implored to examine the evidence
presented, as the author trusts it has been collected, with a sincere
desire to learn the truth.
AIÓN -- AIÓNIOS
It is a prevalent idea that the words "Eternal,
Everlasting, Forever," etc., in the English Bible, signify
endless duration. This essay aims to prove the popular impression
erroneous. The inquiry will be pursued in a manner that shall be
satisfactory to the scholar, and also enable the ordinary reader to
apprehend the facts, so that both the learned and the unlearned may be
able to see the subject in a light that shall relieve the Scriptures of
seeming to teach a doctrine that blackens the character of God, and
plunges a deadly sting into the believing heart.
The original Hebrew Bible was translated into Greek, by
seventy scholars, and hence called "The Septuagint," B.C.
and the Hebrew word Olam is, in almost all cases, translated AiónAiónios
etc., (Aíwv, Aíwvios,) so that the two words may be
regarded as synonymous with each other. In the New Testament the same
wordsAión and its derivatives, are the original Greek of the
English words,Eternal, Everlasting, Forever, etc.. So that when we
ascertain the real meaning of Aión, we have settled the sense of
those English words in which the doctrine of Endless Punishment is
erroneously taught. It is not going to far to say that if the Greek Aión
- Aiónios does not denote endless duration, then endless punishment
is not taught in the Bible. We proceed to show that the sense of
interminable duration does not reside in the word.
Three avenues are open to us in which to pursue this
important investigation. I. Etymology, II. Lexicography,
Our first appeal will be to Etymology.
We are aware that nothing is more unsafe and treacherous
than the guidance of etymology. An ounce of usage is worth a pound
of it. Etymology is theory, usage is fact. For instance, our common word
prevent is compounded of prć and venio, to come or go
before, and once it had that meaning, but it has long since lost it in
common usage, in which it now means to hinder. Suppose two thousand years
hence some one should endeavor to prove that in the year 1875 the word
prevent meant to go before. He could establish his position by the
etymology of the word, but he would be wholly wrong, as would appear by
universal usage in our current literature. So that if we agree that the
etymology of Aión indicates eternity to have been its original
meaning, it by no means follows that it had that force in Greek
literature. But its derivation does not point in that direction.
Says that it comes from Aó (to breathe) which
suggests the idea of indefinite duration. He says: It was transferred from
breathing to collection, or multitude of times. From which proper
signification again have been produced those by which the ancients have
described either age (ćvum), or eternity (ćternitatem,) or
the age of man (hominis ćtatem.) Commenting on Lennep's derivation
of the word, Rev. E. S. Goodwin, says:(3)
"It would signify a multitude of periods or times united to each
other, duration indefinitely continued. Its proper force, in reference to
duration, seems to be more that of uninterrupted duration than otherwise;
a term of which the duration is continuous as long as it lasts, but which
may be completed and finished, as age, dispensation, sćculum, in a
general sense.' Mr. Goodwin entertained the theory that the word is from
the verb aió, its active participle converted into a substantive.
But this etymology is not the popular one. Aristotle,(4)
the great Greek Philosopher, explained the derivation as a combination of
two Greek words (aei ón) which signify always existing. As
there is a great deal of controversy on this famous passage, we will give
THREE TRANSLATIONS OF ARISTOTLE.
I. Dr. Pond(5):
In describing the highest heaven, the residence of the gods, Aristotle
says: "It is therefore evident that there is neither space, nor time,
nor vacuum beyond. Wherefore the things there are not adapted by nature to
exist in place; nor does time make them grow old; neither under the
highest (heaven) is there any change of any one of these things, they
being placed beyond it; but unchangeable, passionless - they continue
through all aióna (eternity.) For indeed, the word itself according
to the ancients, divinely expressed this. For the period which
comprehends the time of every one's life, beyond which, according to
nature, nothing exists, is called his aión, (eternity.) And for
the same reason, the period of the whole heaven even the infinite time
of all things, and the period comprehending that infinity is aión,
eternity, deriving its name from aei, einai, always being,
immortal and divine."
Dr. J. R. Boise,(6)
Professor of Greek in the University of Chicago: "Time is a notation
of motion; and motion without a physical body is impossible. But, beyond
the heaven, it has been shown that there is neither a body, nor can there
be. It is plain, therefore, that there is neither space, nor void, nor
time beyond. Therefore, the things there are not by nature in space, nor
does time make them grow old, nor is there any change in any one of those
things placed beyond the outermost sweep (or current); but, unchangeable
and without passion, having the best and most sufficient life, they
continue through all eternity (aión); for this name (i.e., aión)
has been divinely uttered by the ancients. For the definite period (to
telos), which embraces the time of the life of each individual, to
whom, according to nature, there can be nothing beyond, has been called
each ones's eternity (aión). And, by parity of reasoning, the
definite period also of the entire heaven, even the definite period
embracing the infinite time of all things and infinity, is an eternity (aión),
immortal and divine, having received the appellation (eternity, aión)
from the fact that it exists always (apo tou aei einai).
Dr. Edward Beecher:(7)
"The limit of the whole heaven, and the limit enclosing the universal
system, is the divine and immortal existing (aei ón) (God)
deriving his nameAión from his ever existing (aei ón.)"
Dr. B. adds: "From the time of Homer to Plato and Aristotle, about
five centuries, the word aión is used by poets and historians
alongside of various compounds of aei, for the compounds of aei
retain the diphthong ei, but aión drops the e. There
is a verb aió - to breathe, to live. The passage of Aristotle in
which his etymology occurs, has been mistranslated, for it does not
give the etymology of the abstract idea eternity, but of the concrete
idea God, as an ever-existing person, from whom all other personal beings
derived existence and life. What Aristotle has been supposed to assert of aión,
in the sense of eternity, he asserts of aión in the sense of God,
a living and divine person. That the word aión in the classic
Greek sometimes denotes God is distinctly stated in Henry Stephens' great
lexicon, (Paris edition,) and the passage referred to in Sophocles (Herac.
900,) fully authorized his statement. In that passage Jupiter is called 'Aión,
(the living God) the Son of Kronos.' Moreover, the whole context of
Aristotle proves that he is speaking of the great immovable first mover of
the universe, the Aión, immortal and divine" * * *
This passage from Aristotle is obscure, and if he were authority, it
would not settle the question of the meaning of the word. If we adopt this
theory, we may claim that aión had the primary meaning of continuous
existence, such being the signification of aei and ón,
but there is no warrant even in such an origin for ascribing to it
duration without end. But Aristotle does not say or intimate that the word
had the meaning of eternity in his day, nor does his statement of its
derivation prove that it had that meaning then. On the contrary,
Aristotle's use of the word, as we shall hereafter show, clearly proves
that it had no such meaning in his mind, even if it is compounded ofaei
The word aei from which aión is claimed to
grow, is found eight times, (perhaps more, though I have not found it
oftener) in the New Testament, and in no one instance does it mean
endless. Mark xv:8; Acts vii:51; 2Cor. iv:11; vi:10, Titus, i:12; Heb.
iii:10; 1Pet. iii:15; 2Pet. i:12. I give two instances. The multitude
desired Pilate to release a prisoner, Mark xv:8: "as he had ever
done with them." Heb. iii:10: "They do always err in
their heart." An endless duration growing out of a word used thus,
would be a curiosity. It is alway, or always, or ever, in each text.
Liddell and Scott give more than fifty compounds of aei.
Concerning Aristotle's use of the word in his famous
sentence, "Life, an aión continuous and eternal," it is
enough to say that if aión intrinsically meant endless, Aristotle
never would have sought to strengthen the meaning by adding
"continuous" and "eternal," any more than one would
say, God has an eternity, continuous and endless. He has a life, an
existence, an aión endless, just as man's aión on earth is
limited; just as Idumea's smoke in the Old Testament is aiónios.
Nor, had Aristotle considered aión to mean eternity, would he have
said in this very passage: "the time of the life of each individual
has been called his aión."
Cremer, Liddel and Scott, Donnegan, and Henry Stephens
adopt the Aristotleian origin of the word. Grimm rejects it, and Robinson
in his latest editions gives both etymologies without deciding between
them. Stephens says: "Aristotle, and after him many other
philosophers, as Plotinus and Proclus, introduced the etymology of aión
from aei, and thus added the idea of eternity to the
But we have shown that the famous passage in Aristotle
refers to God, (apo tou aei einai) and not to abstract duration. We
have shown that aei is used eight times in the New Testament, and
not in the sense of endless, once. We shall prove that Aristotle himself
uniformly used the word in the sense of limited duration, and under the
head of Classic Usage will hereafter prove that at the time the Old
Testament was rendered into Greek, this was the only meaning the word had
with any Greek writer. If aeión, is its origin, which is more than
doubtful, it cannot mean more than continuous existence, the precise
length to be determined by accompanying words. Adopt either derivation,
and indefinite duration is the easy and natural meaning of the word, if we
suffer ourselves to be guided by its etymology. Eternity can only be
expressed by it when it is accompanied by other words, denoting endless
duration, or by the name of Deity.
All will agree that words may change their meaning, and
therefore that etymology is an uncertain guide. If etymology point in one
direction, and usage in another, the former must yield; but if both utter
one fact, each reinforces and strengthens the other. This we have
illustrated by the etymology of 'prevent.' Hundreds of words teach the
same truth. Words start out with a certain meaning, and change it in
process of time. If aión really meant eternity when it was first
pronounced, it would not follow that it has this meaning now. That it had
not that meaning at first would not hinder it from being thus used
subsequently. Etymology proves nothing one way or the other, its evidence
is but prima facie; usage is the only decisive authority. But
etymology gives no warrant for applying the idea of eternity to the word.
THE PLATONIC DERIVATIONS.
We have proceeded on the ground that Aristotle's etymology
is authoritative. But nothing is further from the truth. The scholarship
of to-day, possessed by an average educated philologist, is far more
competent to trace this or any Greek word to its real source, than Plato
or Aristotle was able to do. In his analysis of Plato's Cratylus,(8)
Grote accurately observes of Plato's etymologies: "Though sometimes
reasonable enough, they are in a far greater number of instances forced,
arbitrary, and fanciful. The transitions of meaning imagined, and the
structural transformations of words, are alike strange and violent. Such
is the light in which these Platonic etymologies appear to a modern
critic. But such was not the light in which they appeared either to the
ancient Platonists or critics earlier than the last century. The
Platonists even thought then full of mysterious and recondite wisdom. So
complete has been the revolution of opinion that the Platonic etymologies
arenow treated by most critics as too absurd to have been seriously
intended by Plato, even as conjectures. It is called 'a valuable discovery
of modern times' (so Schleiermacher terms it) that Plato meant most of
them as mere parody and caricature."
The character of Aristotle as an etymologist is thus stated
by Grote: "Nor are they more absurd than many of the etymologies
proposed by Aristotle." A slender hook this, whereon to hang such a
doctrine as that of the immortal wo of countless millions of souls.
The conclusions to which any judicial mind must arrive are
these: 1, It is uncertain from what source the word Aión sprang;
2, It is of no consequence how it originated; 3, Aristotle's opinion is
not authority; and 4, It is probable that he was not defining the word,
but was alluding to that being whose aión, or existence is
continuous and eternal. That he did not understand that aión
signified eternity, we shall demonstrate from his uniform use of the word,
in the sense of limited duration. And we find no reason in its etymology
for giving it the sense of endless duration. And if it did thus originate,
it does not afford a particle of proof that it was subsequently used with
II. LEXICOGRAPHY AND THE CRITICS.
We next appeal to Lexicography. Now lexicograph must
always be consulted, especially on disputed words, cum grano salis.
A theologian, in his definitions, is quite certain to shade technical
words with his own belief, and lean one way or the other, according to his
own predilections. Unconsciously and necessarily the lexicographer who has
a bias in favor of any doctrine will tincture his definitions with his own
idiosyncracies. Very few have sat judicially, and given meanings to words
with reference to their exact usage; so that one must examine dictionaries
concerning any word whose meaning is disputed, with the same care that
should be used in reference to any subject on which men differ.
With this thought in mind let us consult such of the
lexicons as have fallen under our notice, and also some of the Biblical
critics who have explored the word.
The oldest lexicographer, Hesychius, (A. D.
400-600,) definesaión thus: "The life of man, the time of
life." At this early date no theologian had yet imported into the
word the meaning of endless duration. It retained only the sense it had in
the classics, and in the Bible.
(A. D. 300-400) "Aión is not any existing thing, but an
interval denoting time, sometimes infinite when spoken of God, sometimes
proportioned to the duration of the creation, and sometimes to the life of
John of Damascus (A. D. 750,) says, "1, The life of
every man is called aión. . . . 3, The whole
duration or life of this world is called aión. 4, The life
after the resurrection is called 'the aión to come.' "
But in the sixteenth century Phavorinus was
compelled to notice an addition, which subsequently to the time of the
famous Council of 544 had been grafted on the word. He says: "Aión,
time, also life, also habit, or way of life. Aión is also the eternal
and endlessAS IT SEEMS TO THE THEOLOGIAN."
Theologians had succeeded in using the word in the sense of endless, and
Phavorinus was forced to recognize their usage of it and his phraseology
shows conclusively enough that he attributed to theologians the authorship
of that use of the word. Alluding to this definition, Rev. Ezra S.
Goodwin, one of the ripest scholars and profoundest critics, says,(10)
"Here I strongly suspect is the true secret brought to light of the
origin of the sense of eternity in aión. The theologian first
thought he perceived it, or else he placed it there. The theologian
keeps it there, now. And the theologian will probably retain it there
longer than any one else. Hence it is that those lexicographers who assign
eternity as one of the meanings of aión uniformly appeal for
proofs to either theological, Hebrew, or Rabbinical Greek, or some species
of Greek subsequent to the age of the Seventy, if not subsequent to the
age of the Apostles, so far a I can ascertain."
The second definition by Phavorinus is extracted
literally from the "Etymologicon Magnum" of the ninth or tenth
century. This gives us the usage from the fourth to the sixteenth century,
and shows us that, if the word meant endless at the time of Christ, it
must have changed from limited duration in the classics, to unlimited
duration, and then back again, at the dates above specified!
From the sixteenth century onward, the word has been
defined as used to denote all lengths of duration from brief to endless.
We record here such definitions as we have found.
Rost: (German definitions) " Aión, duration,
epoch, long time, eternity, memory of man, life-time, life, age of man. Aiónios,
continual, always enduring, long continued, eternal."
Hedericus: "An age, eternity, an age a if always
being; time of man's life in the memory of men, (wicked men, New
Testament,) the spinal marrow. Aiónios, eternal, everlasting,
Schleusner: "Any space of time whether longer or
shorter, past, present or future, to be determined by the persons or
things spoken of, and the scope of the subjects; the life or age of
man. Aiónios, a definite and long period of time, that is, a long
enduring, but still definite period of time."
Passow: " Aiónios, long continued, eternal,
everlasting, in the classics.
Grove: "Eternity; and age, life, duration,
continuance of time; a revolution of ages, a dispensation of Providence,
this world or life; the world or life to come. Aiónios, eternal,
immortal, perpetual, former, past, ancient."
Donnegan: "Time; space of time; life time and life;
the ordinary period of man's life; the age of man; man's estate; a long
period of time; eternity; the spinal marrow. Aiónios, of long
duration, lasting, eternal, permanent."
Ewing: "Duration, finite or infinite; a period of
duration, past or future; an age; duration of the world; ages of the
world; human life in this world, or the next; our manner of life in the
world; and age of divine dispensation, the ages, generally reckoned three,
that before law, that under the law, and that under the Messiah. Aiónios,
(from preceding,) ages of the world, periods of the dispensatins since the
Schrevelius: "An age, a long period of time; indefinite
duration, time, whether longer or shorter, past, prensent or future;
also, in the New Testament, the wicked men of the age, life, the life of
man. Aiónios, of long duration, lasting, sometimes everlasting,
sometimes lasting through life as ćturnus in Latin."
Dr. Taylor, who wrote the Hebrew Bible three times with
his own hand, says of Olam, (Greek Aión) it signifies a
duration which is concealed, as being of an unknown or great length.
"It signifies eternity, not from the proper force of the word, but
when the sense of the place or the nature of the subject require it, as
God and his attributes."
Pickering: Almost identical with Schrevelius in his
Hinks: "A period of time; and age, an after time,
eternity.Aiónios, lasting, eternal, of old, since the
Lutz: "An age, time, eternity. Aiónios,
Macknight: (Scotch Presbyterian.) "These words
being ambiguous, are always to be understood according to the nature and
circumstances to which they are applied." He thinks the words
sustain endless punishment, but adds: "At the same time I must be so
candid as to acknowledge that the use of these terms, forever, eternal and
everlasting, in other passages of Scripture, shows that they who
understand these words in a limited sense, when applied to punishment, put
no forced interpretation upon them.
Wright: "Time, age, life-time, period, revolution of
ages, dispensation of Providence, present world, or life, world to come,
eternity.Aiónios, eternal, ancient."
Robinson: "Life, also an age, that is an indefinite
long period of time, perpetuity, ever, forever, eternity, forever, without
end, to the remotest time, forever and ever, of old, from everlasting, the
world, present or future, this world and the next, present world, men of
this world, world itself, advent of Messiah. Aiónios, perpetual,
everlasting, eternal, chiefly spoken of future time, ancient."
Jones: "An everlasting age, eternal, forever, a
period of time, age, life, the present world, or life; the Jewish
dispensation; a good demon, angel as supposed to exist forever . . . Aiónios,
Schweighauser and Valpyv substantially agree.
Maclaine, in his Mosheim: Aión or ćon
among the ancients, was used to signify the age of man, or the duration
of human life."
Cruden: "The words eternal, everlasting, forever, are
sometimes taken for a long time, and are not always to be understood
strictly, for example, 'Thou shalt be our guide form this time forth, even
forever,' that is, during our whole life."
Alex. Campbell: "ITS RADICAL IDEA IS
Whitby: "Nothing is more common and familiar in
Scripture than to render a thorough and irreparable vastation, whose
effects and signs should be still remaining, by the word aiónios,
which we render eternal."Hammond, Benson, and Gilpin,
in notes on Jude 7, say the same. Liddell and Scott also give to aión,
in the poets the sense of life and lifetime, as also an age or generation.
Pearce (in Matt. vii:33) says: "The Greek word aión,
seems to signify age here, as it often does in the New Testament, and
according to its most proper signification." Clarke,
Wakefield, Boothroyd, Simpson, Lindsey, Mardon, Acton, agree. So do Locke,
Hammond, Le Clerc, Beausobre, Lenfant, Dodridge, Paulus, Kenrick and
T. Southwood Smith: "Sometimes it signifies the term
of human life; at other times an age, or dispensation of Providence. Its
most common signification is that of age or dispensation."
Scarlett: "That aiónion, does not mean
endless or eternal, may appear from considering that no adjective can have
a greater force than the noun from which it is derived. If aión
means age (which none either will or can deny) then aiónionmust mean
age-lasting, or duration through the age or ages to which the thing
spoken or relates."
Even Professor Stuart is obliged to say: "The
most common and appropriate meaning of aión in the New Testament,
and the one which corresponds with the Hebrew word olam, and which
therefore deserves the first rank in regard to order, I put down first: an
indefinite period of time; time without limitation; ever, forever,
time without end, eternity, all in relation to future time. The
different shades by which the word is rendered, depend on the object with
whichaiónios is associated, or to which it has relation, rather than
to any difference in the real meaning of the word."
J. W. Haley *says: "The Hebrew word 'olam' rendered
'forever,' does not imply the metaphysical idea of absolute endlessness,
but a period of indefinite length, as Rambach says, a very long time, the
end of which is hidden from us." Olam or olim is the Hebrew
equivalent of aión.
Dr. Edward Beecher(11)
remarks, "It commonly means merely continuity of action . . . all
attempts to set forth eternity as the original and primary sense of aión
are at war with the facts of the Greek language for five centuries, in
which it denoted life and its derivative senses, and the sense eternity
was unknown." And he also says what is the undoubted fact,
"that the original sense ofaión is not eternity. . . . It
is conceded on all hands that this (life) was originally the general
use of the word. In the Paris edition of Henry Stephens' Lexicon it is
affirmed emphatically "that life, or the space of life, is the
primitive sense of the word, and that it is always so used by Homer,
Hesiod, and the old poets; also by Pindar and the tragic writers, as well
as by Herodotus and Xenophon." "Pertaining to the world to
come," is the sense given to "These shall go away into
everlasting punishment," by Prof. Tayler Lewis, who adds(12)
"The preacher in contending with the Universalist and the
Restorationist, would commit an error, and it may be suffer a failure in
his argument, should he lay the whole stress of it on the etymological of
historical significance of the words aión, aiónios, and
attempt to prove that of themselves they necessarily carry the meaning of
endless duration. 'These shall go away into the restraint, imprisonment of
the world to come,' is all we can etymologically or exegetically make of
the word in this passage."
* "An Examination of the Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible,"
THE TRUE IDEA.
Undoubtedly the definition given by Schleusner is
the accurate one, 'Duration determined by the subject to which it is
applied.' Thus it only expresses the idea of endlessness when connected
with what is endless, as God. The word great is an illustrative word.
Great applied to a tree, or mountain, or man, denotes different degrees,
all finite, but when referring to God, it has the sense of infinite.
Infinity does not reside in the word great but it has that meaning when
applied to God. It does not impart it to God, it derives it from him. So
of aiónion; applied to Jonah's residence in the fish, it means
seventy hours; to the priesthood of Aaron, it signifies several centuries;
to the mountains, thousands of years; to the punishments of a merciful
God, as long as is necessary to vindicate his law and reform his children;
to God himself, eternity. What great is to size, aiónios is to
duration. Human beings live from a few hours to a century; nations from a
century to thousands of years; and worlds, for aught we know, from a few
to many millions of years, and God is eternal. So that when we see the
word applied to a human life it denotes somewhere from a few days to a
hundred years; when it is applied to a nation, it denotes anywhere from a
century to ten thousand years, more or less, and when to God it means
endless. In other words it practically denotes indefinite duration, as we
shall see when we meet the word in sacred and secular literature. Dr.
Beecher well observes:
*"There are SIX AGES, or aggregates of
ages, involving temporary systems, spoken of in the Old Testament. These
ages are distinctly stated to be temporary, and yet to them all are
applied olam and its reduplications, as fully and emphatically as
they are to God. This is a positive demonstration that the word olam,
as affirmed by Taylor and Fuerst in their Hebrew Concordances means an
indefinite period or age, past or future, and not an absolute eternity.
When applied to God, theIDEA OF ETERNITY IS DERIVED
FROM HIM, AND NOT FROM THE WORD. . . . This indefinite division of
time is represented olam (Greek aión). Hence we find, since
there are many ages, or periods, that the word is used in the plural.
Moreover, since one great period or age can comprehend under it
subordinate ages, we find such expressions as an age of ages, or an olam
of olams, and other reduplications.
"In some cases, however, the reduplication of olam
seems to be a rhetorical amplification of the idea, without any
comprehension of ages by a greater age. This is especially true when olam
is in the singular in both parts of the reduplication, as "To the age
of the age."
"The use of the word in the plural is decisive
evidence that the sense of the word is not eternity, in the absolute
sense, for there can be but one such eternity. But as time past and future
can be divided by ages, so there may be many ages, and an age of
* Christian Union.
ETERNAL DURATION AND MODERN CONCEPTIONS.
It does not seem to have been generally considered by students of this
subject that the thought of endless duration is comparatively a modern
conception. The ancients, at a time more recent than the dates of the Old
Testament, had not yet cognized the idea of endless duration, so that
passages containing the word applied to God do not mean that he is of
eternal duration, but the idea was of indefinite and not unlimited
duration. I introduce here a passage from Professor Knapp, or Knappius,
the author of the best edition of the Greek Testament known, and one in
use in many colleges and ranks as a scholar of rare erudition. He
"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."
AN IMPRESSIVE REFLECTION.
I pause here long enough to raise this question: Is it
possible that our heavenly Father had created a world of endless torture,
to which his children for thousands of years were crowding in myriads, and
that he not only had not revealed the fact to them, but was so
shortsighted that he had not given them a word to express the fact, or
even a capacity sufficient to bring the idea of the eternal suffering to
which they were liable, within the compass of the cognition? He created
the horse for man's use, and created man capable of comprehending the
horse; he surrounded him with multitudes of animate and inanimate objects,
each of which he could name and comprehend, but the most important subject
of all-one which must be believed in, or eternal woe is the penalty, he
not only had no name for, but was incapable of the faintest conception of
the mere fact! Would, or could a good Father be guilty of such an
Can anything be clearer than this, that the lexicographers
and critics unite in saying that limited duration is not only allowable,
but that it is the prevailing signification of the word? Do they not agree
that eternal duration is not in the word, and can only be imparted to it
by the subject associated with it? Thus Lexicography declares that Limited
Duration is the force of the word, duration to be determined by the
subjected treated, if we allow Etymology and Lexicography to declare the
verdict. And yet it is possible for these to be mistaken. Incredible, but
still possible, that all students and critics of the word should have
mistaken its character. But there is one tribunal that cannot mislead, and
that is Usage.
III -- USAGE.
In tracing the usage of the word, our sources of
information will be (1) The Greek Classics, (2) The Septuagint Old
Testament, (3) Those Jewish Greeks nearly contemporary with Christ, (4)
The New Testament, and (5) The Early Christian Church.
The Pentateuch was rendered into Greek at about the time of
the return from the Babylonish Captivity, and the whole Old Testament, was
combined into one collection about B.C. 200-300. At that time there was a
large amount of Greek literature, now known as the Classics, and of course
the Seventy gave to all Greek words their legitimate meaning, as found in
the Classics. To ascertain just what the Greek Old Testament means by Aión
or any other word, we need only learn its meaning in the Classics. They
would as soon have rendered the Hebrew word for horse by a Greek word
meaning fly, as they would have usedaión for endless duration, if,
as we shall show is the fact, antecedent Greek literature used it to
denote limited duration.
1.-- THE GREEK CLASSICS.
It is a vital question How was the word used in the
Greek literature with which the Seventy were familiar, that is, the Greek
Some years since Rev. Ezra S. Goodwin(13)
patiently and candidly traced this word through the Classics, finding the
noun frequently in nearly all the writers, but not meeting the adjective
until Plato, its inventor, used it. He states, as the result of his
protracted and exhaustive examination from the beginning down to Plato,
"We have the whole evidence of seven Greek writers, extending through
about six centuries, down to the age of Plato, who make use of Aión,
in common with other words; and no one of themEVER
employs it in the sense of eternity."
When the Old Testament was translated from Hebrew into
Greek by the Seventy, the word aión had been in common use for
many centuries. It is preposterous to say that the Seventy would render
the Hebrew olam by the Greek aión and give to the latter
(1) a different meaning from that of the former, or (2) a different
meaning from aión in the current Greek literature. It is
self-evident, then, that Aión in the Old Testament means exactly
what Olam means, and also what Aión means in the Greek
classics. Indefinite duration is the sense of olam, and it is
equally clear that aión has a similar signification.
In the Iliad and Odyssey Aión occurs thirteen
times, as a noun, besides its occurrence as a participle in the sense of
hearing, perceiving, understanding. Homer never uses it as signifying
eternal duration. Priam to Hector says,(14)
"Thyself shall be deprived of pleasant aiónos" (life.)
Andromache over dead Hector,(15)
"Husband thou hast perished from aiónos" (life or time.)
Dr. Beecher writes(16)
"But there is a case that excludes all possibility of doubt or
evasion, in the Homeric Hymn of Mercury, vs. 42 and 119. Here aión
is used to denote the marrow as the life of an animal, as Moses
calls the blood the life. This is recognized by Cousins in his Homeric
Lexicon. In this case to pierce the life (aión) of a turtle means
to pierce the spinal cord. The idea of life is here exclusive of
time or eternity." These are fair illustrations of Homer's use of the
Hesiod employs it twice: "To him (the married man)
during aiónos (life) evil is constantly striving, etc.(17)
Ćschulus has the word nineteen times, after this manner: "This life
(aión) seems long, etc.(18)
"Jupiter, king of the never-ceasing world."(19)
Pindar gives thirteen instances, such as "A long life
produces the four virtues."(20)(Ela
de kai tessaras aretas ho makros aión.)
Sophocles nine times. "Endeavor to remain the same in
mind as long as you live." Askei toiaute noun di aiónos menein.(21)
He also employs makraion five times, as long-enduring. The word
long increases the force of aión, which would be impossible if it
had the idea of eternity.
Aristotle uses aión twelve times. He speaks of the
existence or duration (aión) of the earth;(22)
of an unlimited aiónos;(23)
and elsewhere, he says: aión sunekes kai aidios, "an eternal aión"
(or being) "pertaining to God." The fact that Aristotle found it
necessary to add aidios to aión to ascribe eternity to God
demonstrates that he found no sense of eternity in the word aión,
and utterly discards the idea that he held the word to mean endless
duration, even admitting that he derived it, or supposed the ancients did,
from aei ón according to the opinion of some lexicographers.
A similar use of the word appears in de Cćlo.(24)
"The entire heaven is one and eternal (aidios) having neither
beginning nor end of an entire aión." In the same work(25)
occurs the famous passage where Aristotle has been said to describe the
derivation of the word, which we have quoted on page 7, Aión estin,
apo tou aei einai.
Mr. Goodwin well observes that the word had existed a
thousand years before Aristotle's day, and that he had no knowledge of its
origin, and poorer facilities for tracing it than many a scholar of the
present, possesses. "While, therefore, we would regard an opinion of
Aristotle on the derivation of an ancient word, with the respect due to
extensive learning and venerable age, still we must bear in mind that his
opinion is not indusputable authority." Mr. Goodwin proceeds to
affirm that Aristotle does not apply aei ón to duration, but to
God, and that (as we have shown) a human existence is an Aión.
Completeness, whether brief or protracted, is his idea; and as Aristotle
employed it "Aión did not contain the meaning of
Hippocrates. "A human aión is a seven days
Empedocles, An earthly body deprived of happy life, (aiónos.)
Euripides uses the word thirty-two times. We quote three
"Marriage to those mortals who are well situated is a happy aión."(27)
"Every aión of mortals is unstable."(28)
"Along aión has many things to say," etc.
Philoctetes. "He breathed out the aióna."
Mr. Goodwin thus concludes his conscientious investigation of such of the
Greek classics as he examined line by line, AION IN THESE
WRITERS NEVER EXPRESSES POSITIVE ETERNITY."
In his Physic(29),
Aristotle quotes a passage from Empedocles, saying that in certain cases
"aión is not permanent."
Aiónios is found in none of the ancient classics above
quoted. Finding it in Plato, Mr. Goodwin thinks that Plato coined it, and
it had not come into general use, for even Socrates, the teacher of Plato,
does not use it. Aidios is the classic word for endless duration.
Plato uses aión eight times, aiónios five, diaiónios
once, and makraión twice. Of course if he regarded aión as
meaning eternity he would not prefix the word meaning long, to add
duration to it.
In all the above authors extending more than six hundred
years, the word is never found. Of course it must mean the same as the
noun that is its source. It having clearly appeared that the noun is
uniformly used to denote limited duration, and never to signify eternity,
it is equally apparent that the adjective must mean the same. The noun
sweetness gives its flavor to its adjective, sweet. The adjective long
means precisely the same as the noun length. When sweet stands for
acidity, and long represents brevity, aiónios can properly mean
eternal, derived from aión, which represents limited duration. To
say that Plato, the inventor of the word, has used the adjective to mean
eternal, when neither he nor any of his predecessors ever used the noun to
denote eternity, would be to charge one of the wisest of men with
etymological stupidity. Has he been guilty of such folly? How does he use
1. He employs the noun as his predecessors did. I give an
illustration*- "Leading a life (aióna) involved in
2. The Adjective.(30)
Referring to certain souls in Hades, he describes them as in aiónion
intoxication. But that he does not use the word in the sense of endless is
evident from the Phćdon, where he says, "It is a very ancient
opinion that souls quitting this world, repair to the infernal regions,
and return after that, to live in this world." After the aiónion
intoxication is over, they return to earth, which demonstrates that the
world was not used by him as meaning endless. Again,(31)
he speaks of that which is indestructible, (anolethron) and not aiónion.
He places the two words in contrast, whereas, had he intended to use aiónion
as meaning endless, he would have said indestructible and aiónion.
Plato quotes four instances of aión, and three of aiónios,
and one ofdiaiónios in a single passage, in contrast with aidios
(eternal.) The gods he calls eternal, (aidios) but the soul and the
corporeal nature, he says, are aiónios, belonging to time, and
"all these," he says, "are part of time." And
he calls Time [Kronos] an aiónios image of Aiónos.
Exactly what so obscure an author may mean here is not apparent, but one
thing is perfectly clear, he cannot mean eternity and eternal by aiónios
and aiónion, for nothing is wider from the fact than that
fluctuating, changing Time, beginning and ending, and full of mutations,
is an image of Eternity. It is in every possible particular its exact
In De Mundo,(33)
Aristotle says: "Which of these things separately can be compared
with the order of the heaven, and the relation of the stars, sun, and also
the moon moving in most perfect measures from one aión to another aión,"-
ex aiónos eis eteron aióna. Now even if Aristotle had said that
the word was at first derived from two words that signify always
being, his own use of it demonstrates that it had not that meaning
then [B.C. 350.] Again,(34)
he says of the earth, "All these things seem to be done for her good,
in order to maintain safety during her aiónos," duration, or
life. And still more to the purpose is this quotation concerning God's
Life and an aiónCONTINUOUS AND ETERNAL,
"zoe kai aión, sunekes kai aidios, etc." Here the word aidios,
[eternal] is employed to qualify aión and impart to it what it had
not of itself, the sense of eternal. Aristotle could be guilty of no such
language as "an eternal eternity." Had the word aión
contained the idea of eternity in his time, or in his mind, he would not
have added aidios. "For the limit enclosing the time of the
life of every man, . . . is called his
continuous existence, aión. On the same principle, the limit of
the whole heaven, and the limit enclosing the universal system, is the
divine and immortal ever-existing aión, deriving the name aión
from ever-existing [aei ón.]"(36)
In eleven out of twelve instances in the works of Aristotle, aión isused
either doubtfully, or in a manner similar to the instance above cited,
[from one aión to another, that is, from one age to another,] but
in this last instance it is perfectly clear that an aión is only
without end when it is described by and adjective like aidios,
whose meaning is endless. Nobody cares how the word originated, after
hearing from Aristotle himself that created objects exist from one aión
to another, and that the existence of the eternal God is not described by
a word so feeble, but by the addition of another that expresses endless
duration. Here aión only obtains the force of eternal duration by
being reinforced by the word immortal. If it meant eternity, the addition
of immortal is like adding gilding to refined gold, and daubing paint on
the petal of the lily.
In most of these the word is enlarged by descriptive
adjectives. Ćschylus calls Jupiter "king of the never-ceasing aión,"
and Aristotle expressly states in one case that the aión of heaven
"has neither beginning nor end," and in another instance he
calls man's life his aión, and the aión of heaven
"immortal." If aión denotes eternity, why add
"neither beginning nor end," or "immortal," to
describe its meaning? These quotations unanswerable show that aión
in the Classics, never means eternity unless a qualifying word or subject
connected with it add to its intrinsic value.
Says Dr. Beecher: In Rome there were certain periodical
games known as the secular games, from the Latin seculum, a
period, or age. The historian, Herodian, writing in Greek, calls these aiónian
games, that is, periodical, occurring at the end of a seculum. It would be
singular, indeed, to call them eternal or everlasting games. Cremer, in
his masterly Lexicon of New Testament Greek, states the general meaning of
the word to be 'Belonging to the aión.'" Herodotus,
Isocrates, Xenophon, Sophocles, Diodorus Siculus use the word in precisely
the same way. Diodorus Siculus says ton apéiron aióna,
* De Legib. Lib. iii.
THE CLASSICS NEVER USE AION TO DENOTE ETERNITY.
It appears, then, that the classic Greek writers, for more
than six centuries before the Septuagint was written, used the word aión
and its adjective, but never once in the sense of endless duration.
When, therefore, the Seventy translated the Hebrew
Scriptures into Greek, what meaning must they have intended to give to
these words? It is not possible, it is absolutely insupposable that they
used them with any other meaning than that which they had held in the
antecedent Greek literature. As the Hebrew word meaning horse, was
rendered by a Greek word meaning horse, as each Hebrew word was exchanged
for a Greek word denoting precisely the same thing, so the terms
expressive of duration in Hebrew became Greek terms expressing a similar
duration. The translators consistently render olam by aión,
both denoting indefinite duration.
We have shown, p. 18, that the idea of eternity had not
entered the Hebrew mind when the Old Testament was written. How then could
it employ terms expressive of endless duration? We have now shown that the
Greek literature uniformly understands the word in the sense of limited
duration. This teaches us exactly how the word was taken at the time the
Septuagint was prepared, and shows us how to read understandingly the Old
When at length the idea of eternity was cognized by the
human mind, probably first by the Greeks, what word did they employ to
represent the idea? Did they regard aión-aiónion as adequate? Not
at all, but Plato and Aristotle and others employ aidios, and
distinctly use it in contrast with our mooted word. We have instanced
"The entire heaven is one and eternal [aidios] having neither
beginning nor end of a complete aión, [life, or duration.]"
In the same chapteraidiotes is used to mean eternity.
calls the gods aidion, and their essence aidion, in contrast
with temporal matters, which are aiónios. Aidios then, is
the favorite word descriptive of endless duration in the Greek writers
contemporary with the Septuagint.Aión is never thus used.
When, therefore, the Seventy translated the Hebrew
Scriptures into Greek they must have used this word with the meaning it
had whenever they had found it in the Greek classics. To accuse them of
using it otherwise is to charge them with an intention to mislead and
Mr. Goodwin well observes: "Those lexicographers who
assign eternity as one of the meanings of aión, uniformly appeal
for proofs to either theological, Hebrew or Rabbinnical Greek, or some
species of Greek subsequent to the age of the Seventy, if not subsequent
to the age of the apostles, so far as I can ascertain. I do not know of an
instance in which any lexicographer has produced the usage of ancient
classical Greek, in evidence that aión means eternity. ANCIENT
CLASSICAL GREEK REJECTS IT ALTOGETHER. . . . "
By ancient he means the Greek existing in ages anterior to the days of the
Thus it appears that when the Seventy began their work of
giving the world a Greek version of the Old Testament that should convey
the exact sense of the Hebrew Bible, they must have used aión in
the sense in which it then was used. Endless duration is not the meaning
the word had in Greek literature at that time. Therefore the word cannot
have that meaning in the Old Testament Greek. Nothing can be plainer than
that Greek Literature at the time the Hebrew Old Testament was rendered
into the Greek Septuagint did not give to Aión the meaning of
endless duration. Let us then consider the Old Testament Usage.
2.-- THE OLD TESTAMENT USAGE.
We have concluded, a priori, that the Old Testament
must employ the word Aión in the sense of indefinite duration,
because that was the uniform meaning of the word in all antecedent and
contemporaneous Greek literature. Otherwise the Old Testament would
mislead its readers. We now proceed to show that such is the actual usage
of the word in the Old Testament.
And let us pause a moment on the brink of our investigation
to speak of the utter absurdity of the idea that God has hung the great
topic of the immortal welfare of millions of souls on the meaning of a
single equivocal word. Had he intended to teach endless punishment by one
word, that word would have been so explicit and uniform and frequent that
no mortal could mistake its meaning. It would have stood unique and
peculiar among words. It would no more be found conveying a limited
meaning than is the sacred name of Jehovah applied to any finite being.
Instead of denoting every degree of duration, as it does, it never would
have meant less than eternity. The thought that God has suspended the
question of man's final destiny on such a word would seem too preposterous
to be entertained by any reflecting mind, did we not know that such an
idea is held by Christians.
Endless duration is never expressed or implied in the Old
Testament by Aión or any of its derivatives, except in instances
where it acquires that meaning from the subject connected with it.
How is it used? Let us adduce a few illustrative
Gen. vi:4, "There were giants in the earth in those
days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters
of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which
were of old, (aiónos), men of renown." Gen. ix:12; God's
covenant with Noah was "for perpetual (aiónious)
generations." Gen. ix:16; The rainbow is the token of "the
everlasting (aiónion) covenant" between God and "all
flesh that is upon the earth." Gen. xiii:15; God gave the land to
Abram and his seed "forever," (aiónos). Dr. T. Clowes
says of this passage that it signifies the duration of human life, and he
adds, "Let no one be surprised that we use the word Olam (Aión)
in this limited sense. This is one of the most usual significations of the
Hebrew Olam and the Greek Aión." In Isa. lviii:12; it
is rendered "old" and "foundations," (aiónioi
and aiónia). "And they that shall be of thee shall build the old
waste places; thou shalt raise up the foundations of many
generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach."
In Jer. xviii:15, 16, ancient and perpetual, (aiónious
and aiónion). "Because my people hath forgotten me, they have
burned incense to vanity, and they have caused them to stumble in their
ways from the ancient paths, to walk in paths, in a way not cast up; to
make their land desolate, and a perpetual hissing; every one that passeth
thereby shall be astonished, and wag his head." Such instances may be
cited to an indefinite extent. Ex. xv:18, "forever and ever and
further," (ton aióna, kai ep aióna, kai eti.) Ex. xii:17,
"And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this
selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt,
therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance
forever," (aiónion). Numb. x:8, "And the sons of Aaron
the priests, shall blow with the trumpets; and they shall be to you for an
ordinance forever (aiónion) THROUGHOUT YOUR
GENERATIONS." "Your generations," is here
idiomatically given as the precise equivalent of "forever."
Canaan was given as an "everlasting (aiónion)
possession;" (Gen. xvii:8, xlviii:4; Lev. xxiv:8,9;) the hills are
everlasting (aiónioi;) (Hab. iii:6;) the priesthood of Aaron (Ex.
xl:15; Numb. xxv:13; Lev. xvi:34;) was to exist forever, and
continue through everlasting duration; Solomon's temple was to last
forever, (1 Chron. xvii:12;) though it was long since ceased to be;
slaves were to remain in bondage forever, (Lev. xxv:46;) though
every fiftieth year all Hebrew servants were to be set at liberty, (Lev.
xxv:10;) Jonah suffered an imprisonment behind the everlasting bars of
earth, (Jon. ii:6;) the smoke of Idumea was to ascend forever,
(Isa. xxxiv:10;) though it no longer rises, to the Jews God says (Jer.
xxxii:40;) "and I will bring an everlasting reproach upon you,
and a perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten," and yet,
after the fullness of the Gentiles shall come in, Israel will be restored.
Not only in all these and multitudes of other cases does
the word mean limited duration, but it is also used in the plural, thus
debarring it from the sense of endless, as there can be but one eternity.
In Dan. xii:3; the literal reading, if we allow the word to mean eternity,
is "to eternities and farther," (eis tous aiónas kai
eti.) Micah iv:5, "We will walk in the name of the Lord our God
to eternity, and beyond," eis ton aióna kai epekeina. Ps.
cxix:43-4, "And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth;
for I have hoped in thy judgments. So shall I keep thy law continually forever
and ever." This is the strongest combination of the aionian
phraseology: eis ton aióna kai eis ton aióna tou aiónos, and yet
it is David's promise of fidelity as long as he lives among them that
"reproach" him, in "the house of his pilgrimage." Ps.
cxlviii:4-6, "Praise him, ye heaven of heavens, and ye waters that be
above the heavens. Let them praise the name of the LORD:
for he commanded and they were created. He hath also established them for ever
and ever: he hath made a decree which shall not pass. The sun and
moon, the stars of light, and even the waters above the heavens are
established forever,"eis ton aióna tou aiónos, and
yet the firmament is one day to become as a folded garment, and the orbs
of heaven are to be no more. Endless duration is out of the question in
these and many similar instances.
In Lam. v:19, "forever and ever" is used as the
equivalent of "from generation to generation." Joel ii:26-27,
"And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of
the LORD your God, that hath dealt wondrously with
you: and my people shall never be ashamed. And ye shall know that I
am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your God and none else:
and my people shall never be ashamed." This is spoken of the
Jewish nation. Isa. lx:15, "Whereas thou hast been forsaken and
hated, so that no man went through thee, I will make thee an eternal
(aiónion) excellency, a joy of many generations." Here many
generations and eternal are exact equivalents. 1 Sam. i:22, "But
Hannah went not up: for she said unto her husband, I will not go up until
the child be weaned, and then I will bring him, that he may appear before
the LORD, and there abide forever." The
remaining of Samuel in the temple was to be "forever" (aiónos)
2 Kings, v:27, "The leprosy therefore of Naaman shall cleave unto
thee, and unto thy seed forever." (ton aióna).
Undoubtedly the seed of Gehazi is still on earth: but whether so or not
the leprosy has departed. Daniel ii:4, "Then spake the Chaldeans to
the king in Syriac, O king, live forever: eis tous aióna."
The Chaldean's live forever meant precisely what the French Vive,
and the English "Long live the King" mean. Eternal duration
never entered the thought. Jerem. xvii:25, "Then shall there enter
into the gates of this city kings and princes sitting upon the throne of
David, riding in chariots and on horses, they, and their city shall remain
forever," eis ton aióna. Eternity was not promised
here. Long duration is the extent of the promise. Josh. iv:7, "Then
ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the
ark of the covenant of the LORD: when it passed
over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off; and these stones shall be
for a memorial unto the children of Israel forever," tou aiónos.
These stones are no longer a memorial. This forever has ended.
Forever and ever is applied to the hosts of heaven, or the sun,
moon, and stars: to a writing contained in a book; to the smoke that went
up from the burning land of Idumea; and to the time the Jews were to dwell
The word never is applied to the time the sword was to remain in
the house of David, to the time the Jews should experience shame.(40)
is applied to God's covenant with the Jews; to the priesthood of Aaron; to
the statutes of Moses; to the time the Jews were to possess the land of
Canaan; to the mountains and hills; and to the doors of the Jewish temple.(42)
The word forever is applied to the duration of man's earthly
existence; to the time a child was to abide in the temple; to the
continuance of Gehazi's leprosy; to the duration of the life of David; to
the duration of a king's life; to the duration of the earth; to the time
the Jews were to possess the land of Canaan; to the time they were to
dwell in Jerusalem; to the time a servant was to abide with his master; to
the time Jerusalem was to remain a city; to the duration of the Jewish
temple; to the laws and ordinances of Moses; to the time David was to be
king over Israel; to the throne of Solomon; to the stones that were set up
at Jordan; to the time the righteous were to inhabit the earth; and to the
time Jonah was in the fish's belly.(43)
And yet, the land of Cannan, the Jews' "everlasting
possession," has passed from their hand; the convenant of
circumcision, an "everlasting covenant" was abolished almost two
thousand years ago; the Jewish atonement (Lev. xvi,) an everlasting
statute, is abrogated by the atonement of Christ; David was never to want
a man to sit on Israel's throne. This aionian line of succession was long
We have found the noun Aión three hundred and
ninety-four times in the Old Testament, and the adjective Aiónion
one hundred and ten times, and in all but four times it is the translation
Waiving the passages where it is applied to God, and where
by accommodation it may be allowed to imply endlessness, just as
great applied to God means infinity, let us consult the general usage:
Eccl. i:10, "Is there anything whereof it may be said, See, this is
new! It hath been already of old time, which was before us."
Ps. xxv:6, "Remember, O LORD, thy tender
mercies and thy loving kindnesses; for they have been ever of old,"
(aiónos). Ps. cxix:52, "I remembered thy judgementsof old,
O LORD; and have comforted myself." Isa.
xlvi:9, "Remember the former things ofold." Isa. lxiv:4,
"Since the beginning of the world," (aiónos).
Jer. xxviii:8, "The prophets that have been before me and before thee
of old prophesied both against many countries, and against great
kingdoms, of war, and of evil, and of pestilence." Jer. ii:20,
"For of old time I have broken thy yoke, and burst thy
bands." Prov. viii:23, "I (wisdom) was set up from everlasting (aiónos)
from the beginning, or ever the earth was." Here aiónos and
"before the world was, " are in apposition. Ps. lxxiii:12,
"Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world,"
(time, aiónos.) Deut. xxxii:7, "Remember the days of old."
Ezek. xxvi:20, "The people of old time." Ps. cxliii:3,
"Those who have been long dead." --Same in Lam. iii:6.
Amos ix:11, "Days ofold." Isa. i:9, "Generationsofold."
Micah vii:14, "Days ofold." Same in Malachi iii:4. Ps.
xlviii:14, "For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will
be our guide even unto death." This plural form denotes "even
unto death." Christ's kingdom is prophesied as destined to endure
"forever," "without end," etc. Dan. ii:44; Isa.
lix:21; Ps. cx:4; Isa. ix:7; Ps. lxxxix:29. Now if anything is taught in
the Bible, it is that Christ's kingdom shall end. In 1 Corin. xv: it is
expressly and explicitly declared that Jesus shall surrender the kingdom
to God the Father, that his reign shall entirely cease. Hence, when we
read in such passages as Dan. ii:44, that Christ's kingdom shall stand
forever, we must understand that the forever denotes the reign of Messias,
bounded by "the end," when God shall be "all in all."
Servants were declared to be bound forever, when all
servants were emancipated every fifty years. Thus in Deut. xv:16,17, we
read, "And it shall be, if he say unto thee, I will not go away from
thee; because he loveth thee and thine house, because he is well with
thee, then thou shalt take an awl, and thrust it through his ear unto the
door, and he shall be thy servant forever." And yet we are told, Lev.
xlv:10,39,41, "And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim
liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall
be a jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession,
and ye shall return every man unto his family. And if thy brother that
dwelleth with thee be waxen poor, and be sold unto thee; thou shalt not
compel him to serve as a bond servant, but as a hired servant, and as a
sojourner, he shall be with thee, and shall serve thee unto the year of
jubilee: and then shall he depart from thee, both he and his children with
him, and shall return unto his own family, and unto the possession of his
father shall he return." This forever at the utmost could only be
forty-nine years and three hundred and sixty-four days and some odd hours.
And certainly no one will ascribe endless duration to aión in the
following passages: II Sam. vii:16,29; I Ki. ii:45, and ix:5; I Chron.
xvii:27, and xxviii:4; II Chron. xiii:5; Psa. lxxxix:4,336,37; Ezek.
xxxvii:25; I Sam. xiii:13; II Sam. vii:13,16,25,26; xxii:51; I Ki. ii:33;
I Chron. xvii:12,14,14,23, and xxii:10, xxviii:7; Psa. xviii:50, lxxxix:4,
and cxxxii:12; Ex. xxxii:13, Josh. xiv:9; I Chron. xx:7; Jud. ii:1; II Ch.
vii:3; Psa. cv:8; Gen. xiii:15; I Ch. xxviii:4,7,8; Jer. xxxi:40; Ezek.
xxxvii:25; Jer. vii:7,7; II Sa. vii:24; I Chron. xvii:22; Joel iii:20; II
Ki. xxi:7; II Chron. xxxiii:4; Psa. xlviii:8; Jer. xvii:25; I Chron.
xxiii:25; Isa. xxviii:7; I Ki. ix:3; II Chron. xxx:8; Ezek. xxxvii:26,28;
II Chron. vii:16; Ex. xix:9, and xl:15; I Chron. xxiii:23, 13; I Chron.
xv:2; Lev. iii:17; II Chron. ii:4; Ex. xii:24; Josh. iv:7; Am. i:11; Isa.
xiii:20; Isa. xxxiii:20, xxxiv:10; I Ki. x:9; II Chron. ix:8; Psa. cii:28;
Many passages allude to the earth as enduring forever -- to
the grave, as man's "long home," to God's existence, as
"Forever, etc." Often the language is equivalent to "to the
ages," or "from age to age," and sometimes eternal duration
is predicated, never because the word compels it, but because the
theme treated requires it.
is applied to God, Zion, and things intrinsically endless, and thus
acquires from the connected subjects a meaning not inherent in the word,
as in the following passages: Gen. xxi:33; Ex. iii:15; Job xxxiii:12; Isa.
xl:28, li:11, liv:8, lv:3,13, lvi:5; lx:15,19, lxi:7,8; lxiii:12; Ezek.
xxxvii:26; Dan. vii:27, ix:24, xii:2; Hab. iii:6; Ps. cxii:6, cxxx:8.
THE ADJECTIVE LIMITED.
But it is found with limited meaning in these and other
passages: Gen. ix:12-16; Gen. xvii:8,13,19; and Num. xxv:13; Ex.
xii:14,17; xxvii:21; xxviii:43; xxix:28; xxx:21; xxxi:16,17; Lev.
vi:18,22; vii:34,36; x:15; xvi:29,31,34; xvii:7; xxiii:14,31,41;
xxiv:3,8,9. Num. x:8; xv:15; xviii:8,11,19,23; xix:10,21; II Sam. xxiii:5;
I Chron. xvi:17; Isa. xxiv:5; Ezek. xvi:60; Psa. lxxvii:5; Isa lxiii:11;
Jer. vi:16; xviii:15; Job xxi:11; xxii:15; Isa. lviii:12; lxi:4; Ezek.
xxvi:20; Prov. xxii:28; xxiii:10; Ezek. xxxvi:2; xxxv:5; Isa. liv:4; Jer.
v:22; xviii:16; xxv:9,12; Ezek. xxxv:9; Jer. xx:17; xxiii:40; li:39; Micah
Let us quote some of the foregoing texts: "And ye
shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day have
I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe
this day in your generations by an ordinance for ever." "And
thou shalt command the children of Israel, that they bring thee pure olive
beaten for the light, to cause the lamp to burn always." "In the
tabernacle of the congregation without the veil, which is before the
testimony, Aaron and his sons shall order it from evening to morning
before the Lord: it shall be a statute for everUNTO
THEIR GENERATIONS on behalf of the children of Israel."
"And they shall be upon Aaron and upon his sons, when they come in
unto the tabernacle of the congregation, or when they come near unto the
altar to minister in the holy place; that they bear not iniquity and die:
it shall be a statute for ever unto him and his seed after
him." "Hast thou not marked the old way which wicked men
have trodden?" "Fear ye not me: saith the Lord: will ye not
tremble at my presence, which have placed the sand for the bound of the
sea by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass it: and though the
waves thereof toss themselves, yet can they not prevail; though they roar,
yet can they not pass over it?"
To render the word eternal will show how absurd that
definition is, in the following passages(44):
"I will give unto thee, and thy seed after thee, the land wherin
thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an eternal
possession." "And thou shalt anoint them as thou didst their
father, that they surely be a priesthood through the eternity."
"Then his master shall bring him to the door, or unto the door-posts,
and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl, and he shall serve
him through the eternity."
"The water compassed me about --even to the soul;
The weeds were wrapped about my head,
I went down to the bottoms of the bountains;
The earth with her eternal bars was about me."
Still further do the subjoined texts demonstrate the
impropriety of the popular rendering, which would compel us to read(45):
"The Lord shall reign to the eternity, and during
the eternity, and LONGER." "And
they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they
that turn many to righteousness as the stars through the eternities
and longer." "And we will walk in the name of Jehovah our
God through the eternity and longer." But substitute
ages and the sense is perfect. Ex. xv:18, "The Lord shall reign from
age to age, and beyond all the ages;" Dan. xii:3, "Through
the ages and beyond them all;" Micah iv:5, "Through the
age and beyondit."
No one can read the Old Testament carefully and unbiassed,
and fail to see that the word has a great range of meaning, bearing some
such relation to duration as the word great does to size. We say God is
infinite when we call him the Great God, not because great means infinite,
but because God is infinite. The aiónion God is of eternal
duration, but the aiónion smoke of Idumea has expired, and the aiónion
hills will one day crumble, and all merely aionian things will cease to
While it is a rule of language that adjectives qualify and
describe nouns, it is no less true that nouns modify adjectives. A tall
flower, a tall dog, a tall man, and a tall tree are of different degrees
of length, though the different nouns are described by the same adjective.
The adjective is in each instance modified by its noun, just as the
aionian bars that held Jonah three days, and the aionian priesthood of
Aaron already ended, and the aionian hills yet to be destroyed, and
aionian punishment, always proportioned to human guilt, are of different
degrees of length. The adjective is modified and its length is determined
by the noun with which it is connected.
THE SUBJECT DETERMINES THE DURATION DESCRIBED BY THE
Prof. Tayler Lewis says, "'One generation passeth
away, and another generation cometh; but the earth abideth forever.' This
certainly indicates, not an endless eternity in the strictest sense of the
word, but only a future of unlimited length. Ex. xxxi:16; 'Wherefore the
children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath
throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant.' Olam
here would seem to be taken as a hyperbolical term for indefinite or
unmeasured duration." Where the context demands it, as "I live
forever," spoken of God, he says it means endless duration, for
"it is the subject to which it is applied that forces to this, andNOTany
etymological necessity in the word itself." He adds that Olam
and Aion, in the plural, ages, and ages of ages, demonstrate that
neither of the words, of itself, denotes eternity. He admits that they are
used to give an idea of eternity, but that applied to God and his kingdom,
the ages are finite(46).
Prof. L. is eminently learned and as eminently orthodox.
THE END OF AIONIAN THINGS.
Now the Jews have lost their eternal excellency; Aaron and
his sons have ceased from their priesthood; the Mosaic system is
superseded by Christianity; the Jews no longer possess Canaan; David and
his house have lost the throne of Israel; the Jewish temple is destroyed,
and Jerusalem is wiped out as the holy city; the servants who were to be
bondmen forever are all free from their masters; Gehazi is cured of his
leprosy; the stones are removed from Jordan, and the smoke of Idumea no
longer rises; the righteous do not posses the land promised them forever;
some of the hills and mountains have fallen, and the tooth of Time will
one day gnaw the last of them into dust; the fire has expired from the
Jewish altar; Jonah has escaped from his imprisonment; all these and
numerous other eternal, everlasting things -- things that were to last
forever, and to which the various aionian words are applied -- have now
ended, and if these hundreds of instances must denote limited duration why
should the few times in which punishments are spoken of have any other
meaning? Even if endless duration were the intrinsic meaning of the word,
all intelligent readers of the Bible would perceive that the word must be
employed to denote limited duration in the passages above cited. And
surely in the very few times in which it is connected with punishment it
must have a similar meaning. For who administers this punishment? Not a
monster, not an infinite devil, but a God of love and mercy, and the same
common sense that would forbid us to give the word the meaning of endless
duration, were that its literal meaning, when we see it applied to what we
know has ended, would forbid us to give it that meaning when applied to
the dealings of an Infinite Father with an erring and beloved child. But
when we interpret it in the light of its lexicography, and general usage
out of the Old Testament, and perceive that it only has the sense of
endless when the subject compels it [emphasized by editor], as when
referring to God, we see that it is a species of blasphemy to allow that
it denotes endless duration when describing God's punishments.
APPLIED TO PUNISHMENT.
A few prominent instances illustrate the usage of the word
connected with punishment. Ps. ix:5, "Thou hast destroyed the
wicked." How? The explanation follows: "Thou hast put out
their name forever and ever," (ton aiona, kai eis ton aióna
tou aionos.) His is not endless torment, but oblivion. Solomon
elsewhere observes: Prov. x:7, "The name of the wicked shall
rot," while David says, Ps. cxii:6, "The righteous shall be in
everlasting remembrance." Ps. lxxviii:66, "He put them (his
enemies) to a perpetual reproach." Is. xxxiii:14, "Who among us
shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with
everlasting burnings?" The prophet is here speaking of God's temporal
judgments, represented by fire. "The earth mourneth; Lebanon is
ashamed; the people shall be as the burnings of lime." Who will dwell
in safety amid these fiery judgments? These aionian burnings? "He
that walks uprightly." Earthly judgements among which the upright are
to dwell in safety are here described, and not endless fire hereafter.
Jer. xvii:4, "Ye have kindled a fire in mine anger which shall burn
forever." Where was this to be? The preceding verse informs us.
"I will cause thee to serve thine enemies in a land which thou
knowest not." Jer. xxiii:40, "I will bring an everlasting
reproach upon you; and a perpetual shame which shall not be
forgotten." The connection fully explains this verse 39, "I will
utterly forget you, and I will forsake you, and the city that I gave you
and your fathers. See Jer. xx:11. Mal. i:4, "The people against whom
the Lord hath indignation forever." This is an announcement of God's
judgements on Edom" "They shall build but I will throw
down" and they shall call them the border of wickedness, and the
people against whom the Lord hath indignation forever."
EVERLASTING SHAME AND CONTEMPT.
Dan. xii:2, "And many of them that sleep in the dust
of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and
everlasting contempt." When was this to take place? "At that
time." What time? Verse 31, chap. xi, speaks of the coming of the
"abomination that maketh desolate." Jesus says, Matt.
xxiv:15,16, Luke xxi:20,21, "When ye therefore (the disciples) shall
see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet stand
in the holy place, then let them which be in Judea flee to the mountains.
And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the
desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judea flee to the
mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let
not them that are in the countries enter thereinto." Daniel says this
was to be (xii:7) "When he shall have accomplished to scatter the
power of the holy people." Jesus says, "For then shall be great
tribulations, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this
time; no, nor ever shall be." And when that was Jesus tells us:
"this generation shall not pass away, till all these things be
fulfilled." The events discussed in Daniel are the same as those in
Matt. xxiv, and came in this world in the generation that crucified Jesus.
DUST OF THE EARTH.
The phrase sleeping in the dust of the earth, is of course
employed figuratively, to indicate sloth, spiritual lethargy, as in Ps.
xliv:25; Isa. xxv:12; xxvi:5; I Tim. v:6; Rev. iii:1, "For our soul
is bowed down to the dust." "And the fortress of the high fort
of thy walls shall he bring down, lay low, and bring to the ground, even
to the dust." "For he bringeth down them that dwell on high; the
lofty city, he layeth it low; he layeth it low, even to the ground; he
bringeth it even to the dust." "But she that liveth in pleasure
is dead while she liveth." "I know thy works; that thou hast a
name, and that thou livest and art dead."
It was a prophecy of the moral awakening that came at the
time of the advent of Jesus, and was then fulfilled. When we come to Matt.
xxiv and xxv we shall see the exact nature of this judgment. Walter
Balfour describes it,(47)
"They," (those who obeyed the call of Jesus) "heard the
voice of the Son of God, and lived." See John v:21,25,28,29, Eph.
v:14. The rest kept on till the wrath of God came on them to the
uttermost. They all, at last, awoke; but it was to shame and everlasting
contempt, in being dispersed among all nations, and they have become a
by-word and an hissing even unto this day. Jeremiah in chapter
xxiii:39,40, predicted this very punishment and calls it an
"everlasting reproach and a perpetual shame."
These few passages, not one of which conveys a hint of
endless punishment, are all that connect our word denoting duration with
punishment in the Old Testament.
Out of more than five hundred occurrences of our disputed
word in the Old Testament, more than four hundred denote limited duration,
so that the great preponderance of Old Testament usage fully agrees with
the Greek classics. The remaining instances follow the rule given by the
best lexicographers, that it only means endless when it derives its
meaning or endlessness from the nature of the subject with which it is
remarks that the sense of endless given to the aionian phraseology
"fills the Old Testament with contradictions, for it would make it
declare the absolute eternity of systems which it often and emphatically
declares to be temporary. Nor can it be said that aiónios denotes
lasting as long as the nature of things permits. The Mosaic ordinances
might have lasted at least to the end of the world, but did not. Moreover,
on this principle the exceptions to the true sense of the word exceed its
proper use; for in the majority of cases in the Old Testament aiónios
is applied to that which is limited and temporary."
Now if endless punishment awaits millions of the human
race, and if it is denoted by this word, is it possible that only David,
Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, and Malachi use the word to define punishment,
in all less than a dozen times, while Job, Moses, Joshua, Ruth, Ezra,
Nehemiah, Esther, Solomon, Ezekiel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah,
Micah, Nahum, Habbakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, and Zachariah never employ it
thus? Such silence is criminal, on the popular hypothesis. These holy men
should and would have made every sentence bristle with the word, and thus
have borne the awful message to the soul with an emphasis that could be
neither resisted nor disputed. The fact that the word is so seldom, and by
so few applied to punishment, and never in the Old Testament to punishment
beyond death, demonstrates that it cannot mean endless.
TESTIMONY OF SCHOLARS.
The best critics concede that the doctrine of endless
punishment is not taught in the Old Testament. But the word in dispute is
found in connection with punishment in the Old Testament. This is a
concession that the word has no such meaning in the Old Testament. Milman:
"The lawgiver (Moses) maintains a profound silence on that
fundamental article, if not of political, at least of religious
legislation -- rewards and punishments in another life." Paley, Jahn,
Whately are to the same purport, and H. W. Beecher says, "If we had
only the Old Testament we could not tell if there were any future
We should then conclude that the word means one thing in
the Old Testament and another in the New, did we not find that the same
meaning continues in the New that we have found to prevail uniformly in
the Old Testament, and in antecedent and contemporaneous Greek literature.
Here press the mind with irresistible force, and they can only receive
one answer. 1st, Had God intended endless punishment, would the Old
Testament have failed to reveal it? 2d, If God does not announce it in the
Old Testament, is it supposable that he has revealed it elsewhere: 3d,
Would he for thousands of years conceal so awful a destiny from millions
whom he had created and exposed to it? No child of God ought to be willing
to impeach his Heavenly Father by withholding an indignant negative to
3. -- JEWISH GREEK USAGE.
Those Jews who were contemporary with Christ, but who wrote
in Greek, will teach us how they understood the word. Of course when Jesus
used it, he employed it as they understood it.
applies the word to the imprisonment to which John the tyrant was
condemned by the Romans; to the reputation of Herod; to the everlasting
memorial erected in re-building the temple, already destroyed, when he
wrote; to the everlasting worship in the temple which, in the same
sentence he says was destroyed; and he styles the time between the
promulgation of the law and his writing a longaión. To accuse him
of attaching any other meaning than that of indefinite duration to the
word, is to accuse him of stultifying himself. But when he writes to
describe endless duration he employs other, and less equivocal terms.
Alluding to the Pharisees, he says:
"They believe that the wicked are detained in an everlasting
prison [eirgmon aidion] subject to eternal punishment" [aidios
timoria]; and the Essenes [another Jewish sect] "allotted to bad
souls a dark, tempestuous place, full of never-ceasing punishment [timoria
adialeipton], where they suffer a deathless punishment, [athanaton
It is true he sometimes applies aiónion to
punishment, but this is not his usual custom, and he seems to have done
this as one might use the word great to denote eternal duration, that is
an indefinite term to describe infinity. But aidion and athanaton
are his favorite terms. These are unequivocal. Were only aiónion
used to define the Jewish idea of the duration of future punishment, we
should have no proof that it was supposed to be endless. Philo,
who was contemporary with Christ, generally usedaidion to denote
endless, and always used aiónion to describe temporary duration.
Dr. Mangey, in his edition of Philo, says he never usedaiónion to
interminable duration. He uses the exact phraseology of Matthew, xxv:46,
precisely as Christ used it. "It is better not to promise than not to
give prompt assistance, for no blame follows in the former case, but in
the latter there is dissatisfaction from the weaker class, and a deep
hatred and everlasting punishment [kolasis aiónios] from such as
are more powerful." Here we have the exact terms employed by out
Lord, to show that aiónion did not mean endless but did mean
limited duration in the time of Christ.
Philo always uses athanaton, ateleuteton or aidion
to denote endless, and aiónion for temporary duration.
Stephens, in his Thesaurus, quotes from a Jewish work, [Solom.
Parab.] "These they called aiónios, hearing that they had
performed the sacred rites for three entire generations." This
shows conclusively that the expression "three generations" was
then one full equivalent of aiónion. Now these eminent scholars
were Jews who wrote in Greek, and who certainly knew the meaning of the
words they employed, and they give to the aionian words the meaning that
we are contending for, indefinite duration, to be determined by the
Thus the Jews of our Savior's time avoided using the word aiónion
to denote endless duration, for applied all through the Bible to temporary
affairs, it would not teach it. If Jesus intended to teach the doctrine
held by the jews, would he not have used the terms they used? Assuredly;
but he did not. He threatened age-lasting, or long-enduring discipline to
the believers in endless punishment.Aiónion was his word while
theirs was aidion, adialeipton, or athanaton, -- thus
rejecting their doctrines by not only not employing their phraseology, but
by using always and only those words connected with punishment, that
denote limited suffering.
And, still further to show that he had no sympathy with
those cruel men who procured his death, Jesus said to his disciples:
"Take heed and beware of the leaven [doctrine] of the Pharisees and
the Sadducees" [believers in endless misery and believers in
Had aiónion been the strongest word, especially had
it denoted endless duration, who does not see that it would have been in
general use as applied to punishment, by the Jewish Greeks of nineteen
We thus have an unbroken chain of Lexicography, and
Classic, Old Testament, and Contemporaneous Usage, all allowing to the
word the meaning we claim for it. Indefinite duration is the meaning
generally given from the beginning down to the New Testament.
4.-- THE NEW TESTAMENT USAGE.
AION THE SAME IN BOTH TESTAMENTS.
Speaking to those who understood the Old Testament, Jesus
and his Apostles employed such words as are used in that book, in the same
sense in which they are there used. Not to do so would be to mislead their
hearers unless they explained a change of meaning. There is certainly no
proof that the word changed its meaning between the Old and New
Testaments, accordingly we are under obligation to give it precisely the
meaning in the New it had in the Old Testament. This we have seen to be
indefinite duration. An examination of the New Testament will show that
the meaning is the same, as it should be, in both Testaments.
NUMBER OF TIMES FOUND AND HOW TRANSLATED.
The different forms of the word occur in the New Testament
one hundred and ninety-nine times, if I am not mistaken, the noun one
hundred and twenty-eight, and the adjective seventy-one times.
Bruder's Concordance, latest edition, gives aión one
hundred and twenty-six times, and aiónios seventy-two times in the
New Testament, instead of the former ninety-four, and the latter sixty-six
times, as Professor Stuart, following Knapp's Greek text, declares.
In our common translation the noun is rendered seventy-two
times ever, twice eternal, thirty-six times world, seven times never,
three times evermore, twice worlds, twice ages, once course, once world
without end, and twice it is passed over without any word affixed as a
translation of it. The adjective is rendered once ever, forty-two times
eternal, three times world, twenty-five times everlasting, and once former
1 -- THE KINGDOM OF CHRIST.
Ten times it is applied to the Kingdom of Christ. Luke
i:33, "And he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his
kingdom there shall be no end." See also i:55; Heb. vi:20; vii:17,21;
I Pet. iv:11; II Pet. i:11; iii:18; Rev. i:6; xi:15. But the Kingdom of
Christ is to end, and he is to surrender all dominion to the Father,
therefore endless duration is not taught in these passages. See I Cor. xv.
2 -- THE JEWISH AGE.
It is applied to the Jewish age more than thirty times: 1
Cor. x:11, "Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples;
and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world
are come." Consult also Matt. xii:32; xiii:22,39,40,49; xxiv:3;
xxviii:20; Mark iv:19; Luke i:70; xvi:8; xx:34; John ix:32; Acts iii:21;
xv:18; Rom. xii:2; I Cor. ii:6,7,8; iii:18; II Cor. iv:4; Gal. i:4; Eph.
i:21; ii:2; iii:9; 1 Tim. vi:17; II Tim. iv:10; Titus ii:12; Heb. ix:26.
But the Jewish age ended with the setting up of the Kingdom of Christ.
Therefore the world does not denote endless duration here.
3 -- THE PLURAL FORM. It is used in the
plural in Eph. iii:21; "the age of the ages." tou
aionos ton aionon. Heb. i:2; xi:3, "By whom he made the
worlds." "The worlds were framed by the word of God." There
can be but one eternity. To say "By whom he made the eternities"
would be to talk nonsense. Endless duration is not inculcated in these
4 -- THE SENSE OF FINITE DURATION.
The word clearly teaches finite duration in such passages
as Rom. xvi:25; II Cor. iv:17; II Tim. i:9; Philemon 15; Titus i:2. Read
Rom. xvi:25: "Since the world (eternity?) began." II Cor.
Iv:17: "A far more exceeding eternal weight of glory."
Here "and" is a word supplied by the translators, and the
literal is "an excessively exceeding aionian weight." But
endless cannot be exceeded. Therefore aiónion does not here mean
5 --EQUIVALENT TO NOT. The word is used as
equivalent to not in Matt. xxi:19; Mark xi:14; John xiii:8; I Cor.
viii:13. "Peter said unto him 'thou shalt never wash my
feet'," is a specimen of this use of the word. It only denotes
eternal by accommodation.
6 --APPLIED TO GOD, ETC.
It is applied to God, Christ, the Gospel, the good, the
Resurrection world, etc., in which the sense of endless is allowable
because imputed to the word by the subject treated, as declared by Taylor
and Fuerst, on page 17 of this book, in Rom. i:25; ix:5; xi:36; xvi:27;
Gal. i:5; Phil. iv:20; I Tim. i:17; II Tim. iv:18; I John ii:17; I Peter
v:11; Rev. vii:12, xv:7; Rom. xvi:26; II Cor. iv:18, v:1; II Tim. ii:10;
Heb. vi:2, ix:12,14,15, xiii:20; I Pet. v:10; Rev. iv:10; John viii:35,
xii:34, xiv:16; II Cor. ix:9, xi:31; Gal. i:5; Eph. iii:11; II Tim. iv:18;
Heb. vii:24,28, xiii:8,21; I Pet. i:25; II Pet. iii:18; II John 2; Jude
25; Rev. i:18, iv:9,10, v:13, x:6, xxii:5.
7.--LIFE ETERNAL. It is applied to life,
"Everlasting and Eternal Life." But this phrase does not so much
denote the duration, as the quality of the Blessed Life. It seems to have
the sense of durable in these passages: Matt. xix:16,29, xxv:46; Mark
x:17,30; Luke x:25, xvi:9, xviii:18,30; John iii:15,16,36, iv:14,36,
v:24,39, vi:27,40,47,54,68, x:28, xii:25,50, xvii:2,3; Rom. ii:7, v:21,
vi:22,23, Gal. vi:8; II Thess. ii:16; I Tim. i:16, vi:12; Titus i:2,
iii:7; Heb. v:9; I John i:2, ii:25, iii:15, v:11,13,20; Jude 21; Mark
x:30; Luke xviii:30; John iv:14, vi:51,58, viii:51,52, x:28, xi:26. See
this subject treated further on.
PASSAGES DENOTING LIMITED DURATION.
Let us state more definitely several passages in which all
will agree that the word cannot have the sense of endless.
Matt. xxii:22, "The care of this world, and the
deceitfulness of riches, choke the word," the cares of that age or
"time." Verses 39, 40, 49, "The harvest is the end of the world,"
i.e. age, Jewish age, the same taught in Matt. xxiv, which some who
heard Jesus speak were to live to see, and did see. Luke i:33, "And
he (Jesus) shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his
kingdom there shall be no end." The meaning is, he shall reign to the
ages (eis tous aionas). That long, indefinite duration is meant
here, but limited, is evident from I Cor. xv:28, "And when all things
shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto
him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all." His
reign is for ever, i.e., to the ages, but it is to cease. Luke
i:55, "As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for
ever, (to an age, aiónos.) Luke i:70. "As he spake by the
mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world
began," or "from an age," (ap aiónos). "Of
old," would be the plain construction. Luke xvi:8, "For the
children of thisworld are in their generation wiser than the
children of light." That is, the people of that time were more
prudent in the management of their affairs than were the Christians of
that day in their plans. John ix:32, "Since the world began
was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born
blind." From the age, (ek tou aiónos) that is from the
beginning of our knowledge and history. Romans xvi:25, "Since the
world began," clearly shows a duration less than eternity, inasmuch
as the mystery that had been secret since the world began, was then
revealed. The mystery wasaiónion but did not last eternally. It
was "now made manifest" "to all nations." Phil. iv:20.
"Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever,"
for the ages of the ages (eis tous aiónas ton aiónon). (Gal. i:5
same.) "For the eternities of the eternities," is an absurd
expression. But ages of ages is a proper sentence. Eternity may be meant
here, but if the word aión expressed the idea, such a
reduplication would be weak and improper. I Tim. vi:17, "Charge them
that are rich in this world." (age or time). I Tim. i:17.
"Now to the King eternal (of the ages) be glory for the ages
of the ages." What is this but an asscription of the ages to the
God of the ages? Eternity can only be meant here as ages piled on ages
imply long, and possibly endless duration. "All the ages are God's;
him let the ages glorify," is the full import of the words. Translate
the words eternity, and what nonsense. "Now to the God of the
eternities (!) Be glory for the eternities of the eternities (!!) Heb.
i:8, "The age of the age." Eph. ii:7, "That in the ages
(aións) to come he might show the exceeding riches of his
grace." Here at least two aións, eternities are to
come. Certainly one of them must end before the other begins. Eph. iii:21,
"The generations of the age of the ages." IITim. iv:18,
"The age of the ages." The same form of expression is in
Heb. xiii:21; I Pet. iv:11; Rev. i:6, iv:9, v:13, vii:12, xiv:11, xv:7,
xx:10. When we read that the smoke of their torment ascends eis aiónas
aiónon, for ages of ages, we get the idea of long, indefinite, but
limited duration, for as an age is limited, any number however great, must
be limited. The moment we say the smoke of their torment goes up for
eternities of eternities, we transform the sacred rhetoric in jargon.
There is but one eternity, therefore as we read of more than one aión,
it follows that aión cannot mean eternity. Again, I Cor. x:11,
"Our admonition, on whom theENDS of the
aións (ages, ta tele ton aiónon) have come." That is,
the close of the Mosaic and the beginning of the gospel age. How absurd to
"ends of the eternities!" Here the apostle had passed more than
one, and entered, consequently, upon at least a third aión. Heb.
ix:26, "Now at an end of the ages." Matt. xviii:39, 40,
xxiv:4, "The conclusion of the age." Eternity has no end.
And to say ends of eternities is to talk nonsense. II Tim. ii:9,
"Before the world began," i.e., before the aiónion
times began. There was no beginning to eternity, therefore the adjective aiónion
here has no such meaning as eternal. The fact that aión is said to
end and begin, is a demonstration that it does not mean eternity.
ABSURDITY OF POPULAR VIEWS.
Translate the word eternity, and how absurd the Bible
phraseology becomes! It represent the Bible as saying, "To whom be
the glory during the ETERNITIES, even TO
THE ETERNITIES." Gal. i:5. "Now all these things happened
unto them, for ensamples, and they are written for our admonition upon
whom the endsOF THE ETERNITIES are
come." I Cor. x:11. "That in the ETERNITIES
coming he might show the exceeding riches of his grace." Eph. ii.7.
"The mystery which hath been hid from theETERNITIESand
from the generations." Col. i:26. "But now once in the end
of the eternities, hath he appeared to put away sin by the
sacrifice of himself." Heb. ix:26. "The harvest is the end of
the eternity." Matt. xiii:39. "So shall it be in the end
of this eternity." Matt. xiii:40. "Tell us when shall these
things be, and what the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the
eternity." Matt. xxiv:4. But substitute "age" or
"ages," and the sense of the Record is preserved.
IT ACQUIRES VARIOUS MEANINGS.
This is seen in many passages. Luke xx: 34, 35. "The
children of this world marry, and are given in marriage; but they which
shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, ** are equal unto
the angels," etc. Here "that world" (tou aiónos ekeinou)
denotes the eternal world, not because the word aión intrinsically
means that, but because the resurrection state is the topic of discourse.
The words literally mean that age or epoch, but in this instance the
immortal world is the subject that defines the word and gives it a unique
meaning. So when the word refers to God, it denotes a different duration
than when it applies to the Jewish dispensation. That in some of the
places referred to the mooted word has the sense of endless, we do not
question, but in all such cases it derives that meaning from the subject
connected with it.(51)
Let us indicate its varied use. Matt. vi:13 is probably
"Thine is the glory forever," that is through the ages.
Here eternity may be implied, but the phrase "forever" literally
means "for the ages." Mark iv:19, same as Matt. i:22. Mark x:30.
"But he shall receive a hundred fold now in this time, houses, and
brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with
persecutions; and in theworld to come eternal life."
Literally, in the age to come the life of that age," i.e.,
gospel, spiritual, Christian life. We have shown that the world to come
denotes the Christian dispensation.-Mark xi:;14. "No man eat fruit of
thee hereafter for ever," that is "in the age,"
meaning the period of the tree's existence.-John xii:34. "The people
answered him, We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever;"
(to the age). The Jews believed that their dispensation was to continue,
and Messiah would remain as long as it would last. This language means
that Christ was to remain through the Mosaic epoch. So the Jews
thought.-John xiii:8. "Thou shalt never wash my feet" is
equivalent to "Thou shalt not wash my feet."-John xiv:16.
"And I will pray the Father and he shall give you another Comforter,
that he may abide with you for ever,"eis ton aióna,
"unto the age," that is, accompany them into the coming or
Christian era.-John vi:51. 58, "If any man eat of this bread he shall
live for ever;" eis ton aióna, into the age, that is,
enjoy the life of the world that is to come, the Christian life. Its
duration is not described here at all.-John viii:35. "And the servant
abideth not in the house for ever; (to the age,) but the Son
abideth ever."- The Jews are here told that their religion is to be
superseded by the Christ only. They are to leave the house because slaves
to sin, while the Son will remain to the age-permanently.-John viii:51,
52. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying he shall
never see death. Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou
hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man
keep my saying he shall never taste of death." Moral,
spiritual death is impossible to a man as long as he keeps the saying of
Christ, is the full meaning of the words.
OCCURRENCE OF THE ADJECTIVE.
The adjective aiónios is (incorrectly) said by
Professor Stuart to(53)
occur sixty-six times in the New Testament, be we make it seventy-two
times. Of these fifty-seven are used in relation to the happiness of the
righteous; three in relation to God or his glory; four are of a
miscellaneous nature; and seven relate to the subject of punishment. Now
these fifty-seven denote indefinite duration, "everlasting life"
being a life that may or may not -- certainly does not always -- endure
Thus the great preponderance of usage in the New Testament
is indefinite duration. But if the preponderance were against this usage,
we ought, in order to vindicate God's character, to understand it in the
sense of limited when describing a Father's punishment of his children.
APPLIED TO PUNISHMENT.
How many times does the word in all its forms describe
punishment? Only fourteen times in thirteen passages in the entire New
Testament, and these were uttered on ten occasions only. The Noun,
Matt. xii:32, Mark iii:29, 2 Pet. ii:17, Jude 13, Rev. xiv:11, xix:3,
xx:10. The Adjective, Matt. xviii:8, xxv:41, 46, Mark iii:29, 2
Thess. i:9, Jude 7, Heb. vi:2.
Now if God's punishments are limited, we can understand how
this word should be used only fourteen times to define them. But if they
are endless how can we explain the employment of this equivocal word only
fourteen times in the entire New Testament? A doctrine that, if true,
ought to crowd every sentence, frown in every line, only stated fourteen
times, and that, too, by a word whose uniform meaning everywhere else is
limited duration! The idea is preposterous. Such reticence is incredible.
If the word denotes limited duration, the punishments threatened in the
New Testament are like those that experience teaches follow transgression.
But if it means endless, how can we account for the fact that neither Luke
nor John records one instance of its use by the Savior, and Matthew but
four, and Mark but two, and Paul employs it but twice in his ministry,
while John and James in their epistles never allude to it? Such silence is
an unanswerable refutation of all attempts to foist the meaning of endless
into the word. "Everlasting fire" occurs only three times,
"everlasting punishment" only once, and "eternal
damnation" once only. Shall any one dare suppose that the New
Testament reveals endless torment, and that out of one hundred and
ninety-nine occurrences of the word aion it is applied to
punishment so seldom, and that so many of those who wrote the New
Testament never use the word at all? No. The New Testament usage agrees
with the meaning in the Greek classics, and in the Old Testament. Does it
not strike the candid mind as impossible that God should have concealed
this doctrine for thousands of years, and that for forty centuries of
revelation he continually employed to teach limited duration the identical
word that he at length stretched into the signification of endless
duration? The word means limited duration all through the Old Testament;
it never had the meaning of endless duration among those who spoke the
language, (as we have demonstrated,) but Jesus announced the doctrine of
endless punishment, and selected as the Greek word to convey his meaning
the very word that in the Classics and the Septuagint never contained any
such thought, when there were several words in the copious Greek tongue
that unequivocally conveyed the idea of interminable duration! Even if
Matthew wrote in Hebrew or in Syro-Chaldaic, he gave a Greek version of
his gospel, and in that rejected every word that carries the meaning of
endlessness, and appropriated the one which taught nothing of the kind. If
this were the blunder of an incompetent translator, or the imperfect
record of a reckless scribe, we could understand it, but to say that the
inspired pen of the evangelist has deliberately or carelessly jeoparded
the immortal welfare of countless millions by employing a word to teach
the doctrine of ceaseless woe that up to that very hour taught only
limited duration, is to make a declaration that carries its own
We come now to the sheet-anchor of the great heresy of the
THE PRINCIPAL PROOF-TEXT
of an error hoary with antiquity, and not yet wholly abandoned. Matt.
xxv:46, is the great proof-text of the doctrine of endless punishment:
"These shall go away into everlasting punishment, and the righteous
into life eternal." We shall endeavor to establish the following
points against the erroneous view of this Scripture. 1. The punishment is
not for unbelief, but for not benefitting the needy. 2. The general
antecedent usage of the word denoting duration here, in the Classics and
in the Old Testament, proves that the duration is limited. 3. One object
of punishment being to improve the punished, the punishment heremust
be limited; 4. The events here described took place in this world, and
must therefore be of limited duration. 5. The Greek word kolasin,
rendered punishment, should be rendered chastisement, as reformation is
implied in its meaning.
1. THE AIONIAN PUNISHMENT IS FOR EVIL WORKS.
Practical benevolence is the virtue whose reward is here
announced, and unkindness is the vice whose punishment is here threatened,
and not faith and unbelief, on which heaven and hell are popularly
predicated. Matt. xxv:34-45. "Then shall the King say unto them on
his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom
prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was a hungered,
and ye game me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger
and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited
me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer
him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee a hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty,
and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger and took thee in? or
naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came
unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto
you,Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my
brethren, ye have done it unto me. Then shall he say unto them on the
left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for
the devil and his angels: For I was a hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I
was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not
in: naked and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me
not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee a
hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and
did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I
say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these,
ye did it not to me."
If cruelty to the poor --neglect of them even,--constitutes
rejection of Christ --as is plainly taught here --and all who are guilty
are to suffer endless torment "who then can be saved?" the
single consideration that works, and not faith are here made the test of
discipleship, cuts away the foundation of the popular view of this text.
2. THE WORD AIONION DENOTES LIMITED DURATION.
This appears in Classic and Old Testament usage. It is
impossible that Jesus should have used the word rendered everlasting in a
different sense than we have shown to have been its meaning in antecedent
3. GOD'S PUNISHMENTS ARE REMEDIAL.
All God's punishments are those of a Father, and must therefore be
adapted to the improvement of his children. Heb. xii:5, "My son,
despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art
rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth
every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you
as with sons: for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?
Furthermore, we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we
gave them reverence. Shall we not much rather be in subjection to the
Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us
after their own pleasure; but he for our profit that we might be
partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be
joyous, but grievous; nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable
fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby."
Prov. iii:11, 12. "My son, despise not the hastening of the Lord;
neither be weary of his correction: For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth;
even as a father the son in whom he delighteth." Lam. iii:31, 33.
"For the Lord will not cast off forever: But though he cause grief,
yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies. For
he doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men." See
also Job v, xxv; Lev. xxvi; Psalms cxxix:67, 71, 75; Jer. ii:19.
4. THESE EVENTS HAVE OCCURRED.
The events here described too place in this world within
thirty years of the time when Jesus spoke. They are now past. In Matt.
xxiv:4, the disciples asked our Lord when the then existing age would end.
The word (aión) is unfortunately translated world. Had he meant
world he would have employedkosmos, which means world, as aión
does not. After describing the particulars he announced that they would
all be fulfilled, and the aión end in that generation, before some
of his auditors should die. If he was correct the end came then. And this
is demonstrated by a careful study of the entire discourse, running
through Matthew xxiv and xxv. The disciples asked Jesus how they should
know his coming and the end of the age. They did not inquire
concerning the end of the actual world, as it is incorrectly translated,
but age. This question Jesus answered by describing the signs so that
they, his questioners, the disciples themselves, might perceive the
approach of the end of the Jewish dispensation (aión). He speaks
fifteen times in the discourse of his speedy coming, (Matt. xxiv:3, 27,
30, 37, 39, 42, 46, 48, 50, and xxv:6, 10, 13, 19, 27, 31). He addresses
those who shall be alive at his coming. Matt. xxiv:6. "Ye
shall hear of wars, etc." 20. "Pray that your flight be
not in the winter." 33, 34. "So likewiseye when ye
shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the
doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all
these things be fulfilled."
Campbell, Clarke, Wakefield, and Newton(54)
translate the phrase, end of the world (sunteleia tou aiónos)
"conclusion of the age," "end of this dispensation."
The question was, then, what shall indicate thy second coming and the end
of the Mosaic economy (aión)? "When shall all these things be
fulfilled?" Mark xiii:1, 34. He spoke of the temple (Luke xxi:5, 7,)
saying one stone should not be left on another, and the question of his
disciples was, how shall we know when this is to take place? The answer
is, "Ye shall hear of wars." xxiv:6. "Ye
shall see the abomination of desolation." 15. "Pray that your
flight be not in winter." 20. The adverbs "Then" and
"When" connect all the events related in the two chapters in one
unbroken series. And what infallible token did he give that these events
would occur "then?" Matt. xxiv:34. "Verily I say unto you
this generation shall not pass tillall these things be
fulfilled." What things? The "son of man coming in his glory in
the clouds," and the end of the existing aión, or age. Mark
phrases it: "This generation shall not pass till all these things be
done." See Luke xxi:25, 32. This whole account is a parable
describing the end of the Jewish aión, age, or economy, signalized
by the destruction of Jerusalem, and the establishment if the new aión,
world, or age to come, that is the Christian dispensation. Now on the
authority of Jesus himself the aión then existing ended within a
generation, namely, about A.D. 70. Hence those who were sent away into aiónion
punishment, or the punishment of that aión, were sent into a
condition corresponding in duration to the meaning of the word aión,
i.e., age-lasting. A punishment cannot be endless, when defined by an
adjective derived from a noun describing an event, the end of which is
distinctly stated to have come.
5. THE WORD TRANSLATED PUNISHMENT MEANS IMPROVEMENT.
The word is Kolasin. It is thus authoritavely
defined: Greenfield, "Chastisement, punishment." Hedericus,
"The trimming of the luzuriant branches of a tree or vine to improve
it and make it fruitful."Donnegan, "The act of clipping
or pruning --restriction, restraint, reproof, check, chastisement." Grotius,
"The kind of punishment which tends to the improvement of the
criminal, is what the Greek philosophers called kolasis or
chastisement." Liddell, "Pruning, checking, punishment,
chastisement, correction." Max Muller, "Do we want to
know what was uppermost in the minds of those who formed the word for
punishment, the Latin pćna or punio, to punish, the root pu
in Sanscrit, which means to cleanse, to purify, tells us
that the Latin derivation was originally formed, not to express mere
striking or torture, but cleansing, correcting, delivering from the stain
of sin." That it had this meaning in Greek usage we cite Plato:(55)
"For the natural or accidental evils of others, no one gets angry, or
admonishes, or teaches or punishes (kolazei) them, but we pity those
afflicted with such misfortunes. ** For if, O Socrates, you will consider
what is the design of punishing (kolazein) the wicked, this of itself will
show you that men think virtue something that may be acquired; for no one
punishes (kolazei) the wicked, looking to the past only, simply for
the wrong he has done,--that is, no one does this thing who does not
actLIKE A WILD BEAST, desiring only revenge,
without thought --hence he who seeks to punish (kolazein) with
reason, does not punish for the sake of the past wrong deed, ** but
for the sake of the future, that neither the man himself who is punished,
may do wrong again, nor any other who has seen him chastised. And he who
entertains this thought, must believe that virtue may be taught, and he
punishes (kolazei) for the purpose of deterring from
wickedness." Like many other words this is not always used in its
exact and full sense. The apocrypha employs it as the synonym of
suffering, regardless of reformation. See Wis. iii:11, xvi:1; I Mac.
vii:7. See also Josephus.(56)
It is found but four times in the New Testament. Acts iv:21, the Jews let
John and Peter go, "finding nothing further how they might punish
them" (kolazo). Did they not aim to reform them? Was not their
punishment to cause them to return to the Jewish fold? From their
standpoint the word was certainly used to convey the idea of reformation.
1 John iv:18. "Fear hathtorment." Here the word
"torment" should be restraint. It is thus translated in
the Emphatic Diaglot. The idea is, if we have perfect love we do not fear
God, but if we fear we are restrained from loving him. "Fear hath
restraint." The word is used here with but one of its meanings. In 2
Peter ii:9, the apostle uses the word as our Lord did: the unjust are
reserved unto the day of judgement to be punished (kolazomenous).
This accords exactly with the lexicography of the word, and the general
usage in the Bible and in Greek literature agrees with the meaning given
by the lexicographers. Now, though the word rendered punishment is
sometimes used to signify suffering alone, by Josephus and others, surely
Divine inspiration will use it in its exact sense. We must therefore be
certain that in the New Testament, when used by Jesus to designate divine
punishment, it is generally used with its full meaning. The lexicographers
and Plato, above, show us what that is, suffering, restraint, followed by
From this meaning of the word, torment is by no means
excluded. God does indeed torment his children when they go astray. He is
a "consuming fire," and burns with terrible severity towards us
when we sin, but it is not because he hates but because he loves us. He is
a refiner's fire tormenting the immortal gold of humanity in the crucible
of punishment, until the dross of sin is purged away. Mal. ii:2,3,
"But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he
appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire and like fuller's soap.
And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify
the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold or silver, that they may offer
unto the Lord an offering in righteousness." Therefore kolasis
is just the word to describe his punishments. They do for the soul what
pruning does for the tree, what the crucible of the refiner does for the
Even if aiónion and kolasis were both of
doubtful signification, and were we only uncertain as to their meaning we
ought to give God the benefit of the doubt and understand the word
in a way to honor him, that is, in a limited sense, but when all but
universal usage ascribes to aiónion limited duration, and the word
kolasin is declared by all authorities to mean pruning, discipline,
it is astonishing that a Christian teacher should be found to imagine
that when both words are together, they can mean anything else than
temporary punishment ending in reformation, especially in a discourse in
which it is expressly declared that the complete fulfillment was in this
life, and within a generation of the time when the prediction was uttered.
Therefore, (1) the fulfillment of the language in this
life, (2) the meaning of aiónion, (3) and the meaning of kolasis,
demonstrate that the penalty threatened in Matt. xxv:46, is a limited one.
It is a threefold cord that human skill cannot break. Prof. Tayler Lewis
thus translates Matt. xxv:46. "These shall go away into the
punishment (the restraint, imprisonment,) of the world to come, and those
into the life of the world to come." And he says "that is all
that we can etymologically or exegetically make of the word in this
Hence, also, the zoen aiónion (life eternal) is not
endless, but is a condition resulting from a good character. The intent of
the phrase is not to teach immortal happiness, nor does kolasin aiónion
indicate endless punishment. Both phrases, regardless of duration refer to
the limited results wronging or blessing others, extending possibly
through Messiah's reign until "the end" (1 Cor. xv.). Both
describe consequences of conduct to befall those consequences antedate the
A COMMON OBJECTION NOTICED.
"Then eternal life is not endless, for the same Greek
adjective qualifies life and punishment." This does not follow, for
the word is used in Greek in different senses in the same sentence; as
Hab. iii:6. "And the everlasting mountains were scattered
--his ways are everlasting." Suppose we apply the popular
argument here. The mountains and God must be of equal duration, for the
same word is applied to both. Both are temporal or both are endless. But
the mountains are expressly stated to be temporal --they "were
scattered," --therefore God is not eternal. Or God is eternal and
therefore the mountains must be. But they cannot be, for they were
scattered. The argument does not hold water. The aiónion mountains
are all to be destroyed. Hencethe word may denote both limited and
unlimited duration in the same passage, the different meanings to be
determined by the subject treated.
But it may be said that this phrase "everlasting"
or "eternal life" does not usually denote endless existence, but
the life of the gospel, spiritual life, the Christian life, regardless of
its duration. In more than fifty of the seventy-two times that the
adjective occurs in the New Testament, it describes life. What is eternal
life? Let the Scriptures answer. John iii:36, "He that believeth on
the Son hath everlasting life." John v:24, "He that believeth on
him that sent me hath everlasting life, and shall not come into
condemnation, but IS PASSED from death unto
life." John vi:47, "He that believeth on me hath everlasting
life." So verse 54. John xvii:3, "THIS IS LIFE
ETERNALto know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ
whom thou hast sent." Eternal life is the life of the gospel. Its
duration depends on the possessor's fidelity. It is no less the aiónion
life, if one abandon it in a month after acquiring it. It consists in
knowing, loving and serving God. It is the Christian life, regardless of
its duration. How often the good fall from grace. Believing, they have the
aiónion life, but they lose it by apostasy. Notoriously it is not,
in thousands of cases, endless. The life is of an indefinite length, so
that the usage of the adjective in the New Testament is altogether in
favor of giving the word the sense of limited duration. Hence Jesus does
not say "he that believeth shall enjoy endless happiness," but
"hehath everlasting life," and "is passed
from death unto life."
It scarcely need here be proved that the aiónion
life can be acquired and lost. Heb. vi:4, "For it is impossible for
those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and
were made partakers of the holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of
God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to
renew them again unto repentance: seeing they crucify to themselves the
Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame." A life that can
thus be lost is not intrinsically endless.
That the adjective is thus consistently used to denote
indefinite duration will appear from several illustrations, some of which
we have already given. 2 Cor. iv:17, "A far more exceeding and eternal
weight of glory," or, as the original reads, "exceeding an aiónion
weight of glory excessively." Now eternal, endless cannot be
exceeded, but aiónion can be, therefore aiónion is not
eternal. Again, Rev. xiv:6, "Theeverlasting gospel." The
gospel is good news. When all shall have learned its truths it will no
longer be news. There will be no such thing as gospel extant. Faith will
be fruition, hope lost in sight, and the aiónion gospel, like the aiónion
covenant of the elder dispensation, will be abrogated, not destroyed, but
fulfilled and passed away. Again, 2 Pet. i:11, "The everlasting
kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." This kingdom is to be
dissolved. Jesus is to surrender his dominion. 1 Cor. xv:24, "Then
cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God even
the Father," etc. The everlasting kingdom of Christ will end.
The word may mean endless when applied to life, and not
when applied to punishment, even in the same sentence, though we think
duration is not considered so much as the intensity of joy or the sorrow
in either case.
WORDS TEACHING ENDLESS DURATION.
But the Blessed Life has not been left dependent on so
equivocal a word. The soul's immortal and happy existence is taught in the
New Testament, by words that in the Bible are never applied to anything
that is of limited duration. They are applied to God and the soul's happy
existence only. These words are akataluton, imperishable; amarantos
and amarantinos, unfading; aphtharto, immortal,
incorruptible; and athanasian, immortality. Let us quote some of
the passages in which these words occur:
Heb. vii:15, 16, "And it is yet far more evident: for that after
the similitude of Melchizedek there ariseth another priest, who is made,
not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless
(akatalutos, imperishable) life." 1 Pet. i:3, 4, "Blessed
be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his
abundant mercy, hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the
resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible,
(aphtharton,) and undefiled, and that fadeth not (amaranton)
away." 1 Pet. v:4, "And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye
shall receive a crown of glory thatfadeth not (amarantinos)
away." 1 Tim. i:17, "Now unto the King eternal, immortal,
(aphtharto,) invisible, the only wise god, be honor and glory
forever and ever, Amen." Rom. i:23, "And changed the glory of
the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible
man." 1 Cor. ix:25, "Now they do it to obtain a corruptible
crown; but we an incorruptible." 1 Cor. xv:51-54,
"Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall
be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump:
for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible,
(aphthartoi,) and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must
put on incorruption, (aphtharsian,) and this mortal must put
on immortality (athanasian). So when this corruptible shall
have put on incorruption, (aphtharsian,) and this mortal
shall have put on immortality, (athanasian,) then shall be
brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in
victory." Rom. ii:7, "To them who by patient continuance in well
doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, (aphtharsia,)
eternal life." 1 Cor. xv:42, "So also is the resurrection of the
dead. It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption (aphtharsia)."
See also verse 50, 2 Tim i:10, "Who brought life and immortality
(aphtharsian) to light, through the gospel." 1 Tim. vi:16,
"Who only hath immortality (athanasian)."
Now these words are applied to God and the soul's
happiness. They are words that in the Bible are never applied to
punishment, or to anything perishable. They would have been affixed to
punishment had the Bible intended to teach endless punishment. And
certainly they show the error of those who declare that the indefinite
word aiónion is all the word, or the strongest word in the Bible
declarative of the endlessness of the life beyond the grave. A little more
study of the subject would prevent such reckless statements and would show
that the happy, endless life does not depend at all on the pet word of the
THOMAS DE QUINCEY'S VIEWS.
It will be of interest to give here the views of Thomas De
Quincey, one of the most accurate students of language, and profoundest
reasoners and thinkers among English scholars. He states the facts of the
case with almost perfect accuracy: "I used to be annoyed and
irritated by the false interpretation given to the Greek word aión,
and given necessarily, therefore, to the Greek adjective aiónios
as its immediate derivative. It was not so much the falsehood of this
interpretation, as the narrowness of that falsehood that disturbed me. . . . . .
. . That reason which gives to this word
aiónion what I do not scruple to call a dreadful
importance, is the same reason, and no other, which prompted the
dishonesty concerned in the ordinary interpretation of this word. The word
happened to connect itself --but that was no practical concern of
mine, --me it had not biased in the one direction, nor should it have
biased any just critic in the counter direction --happened, I say, to
connect itself with the ancient dispute upon the duration of future
punishment. What was meant by the aiónion punishments of the next
world? Was the proper sense of the word eternal, or was it not? . . . That
argument runs thus --that the ordinary construction of the word aiónion,
as equivalent to everlasting, could not possibly be given up, when
associated with penal misery, because in that case, and by the very same
act, the idea of eternity must be abandoned as applicable to the counter
bliss of paradise. Torment and blessedness, it was argued, punishment and
beatification stood upon the same level; the same word it was, the word aiónion,
which qualified the duration of either; and if eternity, in the most
rigorous acceptation, fell away from the one idea, it must equally fall
away from the other. Well, be it so. But that would not settle the
question. It might be very painful to renounce a long cherished
anticipation, but the necessity of doing so could not be received as a
sufficient reason for adhering to the old unconditional use of the wordaiónion.
The argument is --that we must retain the old sense of eternal, because
else we lose upon one scale what we had gained upon the other. But what
then? would be the reasonable man's retort. We are not to accept or to
reject a new construction (if otherwise the more colorable,) of the word aiónion,
simply because the consequences might seem such, as, upon the whole, to
displease us. We may gain nothing; for by the new interpretation our loss
may balance our gain, and we may prefer the old arrangement. But how
monstrous is all this! We are not summoned as to a choice of two different
arrangements that may suit different tastes, but to a grave question as to
what is the sense and operation of the word aiónion. . . Meantime
all this speculation, first and last, is pure nonsense. Aiónian
does not mean eternal, neither does it mean of limited duration. Nor would
the unsettling of aiónian in its old use, as applied to
punishment, to torment, to misery, etc., carry with it any necessary
unsettling of the idea in its application to the beatitudes of Paradise.
What is an aión? The duration or cycle of existence
which belongs to any object, not individually of itself, but universally,
in right of its genius. . . . Man
has a certain aiónian life; possibly ranging somewhere about the
period of seventy years assigned in the Psalms. . . . The
period would in that case represent the "aión" of the
individual Tellurian; but the "aión" of the Tellurian race
would probably amount to many millions of our earthly years, and it would
remain an unfathomable mystery, deriving no light at all from the
septuagenarian "aión" of the individual; though between
the two aións I have no doubt that some secret link of connection
does and must subsist, however undiscoverable by human sagacity. . . . .
This only is discoverable, as a general tendency, that the aión,
or generic period of evil is constantly towards a fugitive duration. The aión,
it is alleged, must always express the same idea, whatever that may be; if
it is less than eternity for the evil cases, then it must be less for the
good ones. Doubtless the idea of an aión is in one sense always
uniform, always the same, --viz., as a tenth or a twelfth is always the
same. Arithmetic could not exist if any caprice or variation affected
their ideas --a tenth is always more than an eleventh, always less than a
ninth. But this uniformity of ratio and proportion does not hinder but
that a tenth may now represent a guinea, and the next moment represent a
thousand guineas. The exact amount of the duration expressed by an aión
depends altogether upon the particular subject which yields the aión.
It is, as I have said, a radix, and like an algebraic square-root or
cube-root, though governed by the most rigorous laws of limitation, it
must vary in obedience to the nature of the particular subject whose radix
it forms." De Quincey's conclusions are:
A. That man who allows himself to infer the eternity of evil from the
counter eternity of good, builds upon the mistake of assigning a
stationary and mechanic value to the idea of an aión, whereas the
very purpose of Scripture in using the word was to evade such a value. The
word is always varying for the very purpose of keeping if faithful to a
spiritual identity. The period or duration of every object would be an
essentially variable quantity, were it not mysteriously commensurate to
the inner nature of that object as laid open to the eyes of God. And thus
it happens, that everything in the world possibly without a
solitary exception, has its own separate aión; how many entities, so
B. But if it be an excess of blindness which can overlook
the aiónian differences amongst even neutral entities, much deeper
is that blindness which overlooks the separate tendencies of things evil
and things good. Naturally, all evil is fugitive and allied to death.
C. I, separately, speaking for myself only, profoundly
believe that the Scriptures ascribe absolute and metaphysical eternity to
one sole being --viz., God; and derivatively to all others according to
the interest which they can plead in God's favor. Having anchorage in God,
innumerable entities may possibly be admitted to a participation in divine
aión. But what interest in the favor of God can belong to
falsehood, to malignity, to impurity? To invest them with aiónian
privileges, is, in effect, and by its results, to distrust and to insult
the Deity. Evil would not be evil, if it had that power of
self-subsistence which is imparted to it in supposing its aiónian
life to be co-eternal with that which crowns and glorifies the good."(57)
REV. E. H. SEARS.
Says Edmund H. Sears: "The passage has often been
regarded as if the chief thing to be considered was the duration of the
punishment of the unrighteous, over against the duration of the life of
the righteous, and that since both are described by the same word, they
are of like duration. That would undoubtedly be so if mere duration or
extension by time were expressed at all, or any way involved in the
contrast. But that, as I should interpret, is not the meaning of the
original word. The element of time, as we measure things, does not enter
into it at all. Not duration, but quality[editor's emphasis], is
the chief thing involved in this word rendered 'eternal.' . . The
word aión and its derivatives, rendered 'eternal' and
'everlasting,' describe an economy complete in itself, and the duration
must depend on the nature of the economy. . . . The
New Testament, if it reveals anything, reveals the aión --the
dispensation that lies next to this, and gathers into it the momentous
results of our probation in time. But what lies beyond that in the
cycles of a coming eternity, I do not believe has been revealed to the
highest angel. Think of that endless Beyond! If every atom of the globe
were counted off, and every atom stood for a million years, still we have
not apporached a conception of endless duration. And yet sinful and
fallible men affirm that their fellow sinners are to be given over to
indescribable agonies through those millions of years thus repeated, and
even then the clocks of eternity have only struck the morning hour! that
the hells of pent-up anguish are to streak eternity with blood in lines
parallel forever with the being of God! If Gabriel should come and tell us
that we should have a right to believe that the history of the infinite
future infolded in the bosom of God, had not been given to Gabriel!"(58)
DID JESUS EMPLOY THE POPULAR PHRASEOLOGY?
It is often remarked that as, according to Josephus, the
Jews in our Savior's times believed in endless punishment, Jesus must have
taught the same doctrine, as "he employed the terms the Jews
used." But this is not true, as we have shown. Christ and his
apostles did not employ the phraseology that the Jews used to describe
this doctrine. As we have shown Philo used athanaton and ateleuteton
meaning immortal, and interminable. He says,(59)zoe
apothneskonta aeikai tropon tina thanaton athanaton upomeinon kai
ateleuteton, "to live always dying, and to undergo an immortal
and interminable death." He also employs aidion, but not aiónion.(60)
Josephus says: "They, the Pharisees, believe 'the souls of the bad
are allotted aidios eirgmos, to an eternal prison, and punished
with adialeiptos timoria, eternal retribution." In describing
the doctrine of the Essenes, Josephus says they believe "the souls of
the bad are sent to a dark and tempestuous cavern, full of adialeiptos
timoria, incessant punishment." But the phraseology of Jesus and
the apostles olethros aiónios or aióniou kriseos
"eternal chastisement," or "eternal condemnation." The
Jews contemporary with Jesus call retribution aidios, or adialeiptos
timoria, while the Savior calls it aiónios krisis, or kolasis
aiónios, and the apostles olethros aiónios, everlasting
destruction; and puros aiónios, eternal fire. Had Jesus and
his apostles used the terms employed by the Jews to whom they spake, we
should be compelled to admit that they taught the popular doctrine. See
this point further elucidated at the end of this volume on the word Aidios.
"To live always dying and undergo an endless
death," is the language of "orthodox" pulpits, and of the
Greek Jews, but our Savior and his apostles carefully avoided such
horrible blasphemy as to charge God with being the author of so diabolical
Says a learned scholar:(61)
"Aiónios is a word of sparing occurrence among ancient
classical Greek writers; nor is it by any means the common term employed
by them to signifyeternal. On the contrary, they much more
frequently make use of aidios, aei ón, or some similar mode of
speech, for this purpose. . . . To
me it appears that the Seventy, by choosing aiónios to represent olam,
testify that they did not understand the Hebrew word to signify eternal.
Had they so understood it, they would certainly have translated it by some
more decisive word; some term, which, like aidios is more commonly
employed in Greek, to signify that which has neither beginning no
Let us now allude to the other texts in the New Testament
in which the word is applied to punishment.
"NEVER FORGIVENESS --ETERNAL DAMNATION."
Matt. xii:32. "Whosoever speaketh against the Holy
Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither
in the world to come." Parallel passages: Mark iii:29. "But he
that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never (aióna)
forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal (aiónion)
damnation." Luke xii:10. "And whosoever shall speak a word
against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him; but unto him that
blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven."
Literally, "neither in this age nor the coming," that is,
neither in the Mosaic, nor the Christian age or dispensation. but then,
these ages will both end, and in the dispensation of the fullness of
times, or ages, all are to be redeemed, (Eph. i:10.) Mark iii:29 is the
same as Matt. xii:32. The Greek differs slightly, and is rendered
literally, "has not forgiveness to the age, but is liable to
age-lasting judgment." The thought of the Savior is, that those who
should attribute his good deeds to an evil spirit would be so hardened
that his religion would have difficulty in affecting them. Endless
damnation is not thought of, and cannot be extorted from the language.
In the New Testament the "end of the age," and
"ages" is a common expression, referring to what has now passed.
See Col. i:26, Heb. ix:26, Matt. xiii:39, 40, 49, xxiv:3. Says Locke(62)
"The nation of the Jews were the kingdom and people God whilst the
law stood. And this kingdom of God, under the Mosaic constitution was
called aión outos, this age, or as it is commonly translated, this
world. But the kingdom of God was to be under the Messiah, wherein the
economy and constitution of the Jewish church, and the nation itself, that
in opposition to Christ adhered to it, was to be laid aside, is in the New
Testament called aión mellon, the world or age to come."
adds: "Why the times under the law, were called kronoi aiónioi,
we may find reason in their jubilees, which were aiónes, "secula,"
or "ages," by which all the time under the law, was measured;
and so kronoi aiónioi; is used, 2 Tim. i:9. Tit. i:2. And so aiónes
are put for the times of the law, or the jubilees, Luke i:70, Acts iii:21,
1 Cor. ii:7, x:11, Eph. iii:9, Col. i:26, Heb. ix:26. And so God is called
the rock of aiónon, of ages, Isa. xxvi:4, in the same sense that
he is called the rock of Israel, Isa. xxx:29, i. e. the strength and
support of the Jewish state;-- for it is of the Jews the prophet here
speaks. So Exod. xxi:6, eis ton aióna signifies not as we
translate it, "forever," but "to the jubilee;" which
will appear if we compare Lev. xxv:39-41, and Exod. xxi:2."
in his commentary, says "Rather, neither in this age, nor in the age
to come: i. e., neither in this age when the law of Moses subsists, nor in
that also, when the kingdom of heaven, which is at hand, shall succeed to
it. The Greek aión, seems to signify age here, as it often does in
the New Testament, (see chap. xiii:40; xxiv:3; Col. i:26; Eph. iii:5, 21.)
and according to its most proper signification. If this be so, then this
age means the Jewish one, the age while their law subsisted and was in
force; and the age to come (see Heb. vi:5; Eph. ii:7.) means that under
the Christian dispensation."
"Age, aióni; i. e., the Jewish dispensation which was then in
being, or the Christian, which was going to be."
"Though I follow the common translation, (Matt. xii:31, 32.) yet I am
fully satisfied the meaning of the words is, neither in this dispensation,
viz., the Jewish, nor in that which is to come, the Christian. Olam ha-bo,
the world to come, is a constant phrase for the times of the Messiah, in
the Jewish writers." See also Hammond, Rosenmuller, etc.,(67).
Take Hebrews ix:26, as an example. "For then must he (Christ) often
have suffered since the foundation of the world (kosmos, literal
world) but now once in the end of the world (aiónon, age)
hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself." What
world was at its end when Christ appeared? Indubitably the Jewish age. The
world or age to come (aión) must be the Christian dispensation, as
in 1 Cor. x:11, where Paul says that upon him and his contemporaries
"the ends of the world are come."
These passages state in strong language the heinous nature
of the sin referred to. The age or world to come is not beyond the grave,
but it is the Christian dispensation. It had a beginning eighteen
centuries ago, and it will end when Jesus delivers the kingdom to God, the
Father. (1 Cor. xv).
Matt. xviii:8. "Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot
offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee
to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands, or two
feet, to be cast into everlasting fire." Matt. xxv:41 uses the same
phraseology. "The everlasting fire, prepared for the Devil and
his angels." Also Jude 7. "Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the
cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication,
and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the
vengeance of eternal fire."
It is better to enter into the Christian life maimed, that
is deprived of some social advantage comparable to an eye, foot, or hand,
than to keep all worldly advantages, and suffer the penalty of rejecting
Christ, typified by fire, is the meaning of Matt. xviii:8; and Jude 7
teaches that Sodom and Gomorrah are an example of eternal fire. But that
fire has expired. That the fire referred to is not endless is shown by the
use of the term in the Bible. "God is a consuming fire," (Heb.
xii:29,) but it is a "Refiner's fire." (Mal. iii:2-3.) It
consumes the evil and refines away the dross of error and sin. This
corroborates the meaning we have shown to belong to the word expressive of
the fire's duration. But whatever may be the purpose of the fire, it is
not endless, it is aiónian. Benson(68)
well says: "The fire which consumed Sodom, &c., might be called
eternal, as it burned till it had utterly consumed them, beyond the
possibility of their being inhabited or rebuilt. But the word will have a
yet more emphatical meaning, if (as several authors affirm) that fire
continued to burn a long while."
2 Thess. i:9. "Who shall be punished with everlasting
destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his
Everlasting destruction, olethron aiónion, does not
signify remediless ruin, but long banishment from God's presence. This is
what sin does for the soul. Olethros is not annihilation, but
desolation. It is found but four times in the New Testament. 1 Thess. v:3,
1 Cor. v:5, 1 Tim. vi:9. The passage in 1 Cor. shows us how it is used:
"deliver such a one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh,
that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus." The
destruction here is not final --it is conditional to the saving of the
spirit. Everlasting destruction is equivalent to prolonged desolation.
THE BLACKNESS OF DARKNESS FOREVER.
2 Pet. ii:17. "These are wells without water, clouds
that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved
forever." Jude 13. "Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their
own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness
forever." "To whom is always reserved the blackness of
darkness," would be a correct paraphrase of this language. Those
referred to are trees that bear no fruit, clouds that yield no water,
foaming waves, stars that give no light. Endless duration was not thought
of by either Peter or Jude. Indefinite duration, ages, is the utmost
meaning of eis aióna, which is spurious in a 2 Peter ii:17, but
genuine in Jude 13. The literal meaning is, for an age. Eternity cannot be
extorted from the phrase.
FOREVER AND EVER.
Heb. vi:2. "The doctrine of the aionian, (aiónion)
judgment." We make no special explanation of this passage. Whether
the judgment of that age or the age to come, the Christian is meant,
matters not. "The judgement of the age" is the full force of the
phrase aionion judgment. Rev. xiv:11. "And the smoke of their torment
ascendeth up forever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night,
who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of
his name." xix:3. "And her smoke rose up forever and ever."
xx:10. "And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of
fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and
shall be tormented day and night forever and ever."
Attempts have been made to show that these [are - editor]
reduplications, if no other forms of the word convey the idea of eternity.
But the literal meaning of aiónas aiónon, in the first text
above, is ages of ages, and of tous aiónas ton aiónon, in the
other two, is the ages of the ages. It is thus rendered in the Emphatic
Diaglot. It is perfectly manifest to the commonest mind that if one age is
limited, no number can be unlimited. Ages of ages is an intense expression
of long duration, and if the word aión should be eternity,
"eternities of eternities" ought to be the translation, an
expression too absurd to require comment. If aión means eternity,
any number of reduplications would weaken it. But while ages of ages is
proper enough, eternity of eternities would be ridiculous. On this
phraseology Sir Isaac Newton(69)
says: "The ascending of the smoke of any burning thing forever and
ever, is put for the continuation of a conquered people under the
misery of perpetual subjection and slavery." The thought of eternal
duration was not in the mind of Jesus or his apostles in any of these
texts, but long duration, to be determined by the subject.
THE SPIRITS IN PRISON.
An illuminating side-light is thrown on this subject by
commentators on 1 Pet. iii:18-20, in which Christ is said to have
"preached unto the spirits in prison." Alford says our Lord
"did preach salvation in fact, to the disembodied spirits, etc."
Tayler Lewis --(70)
"There was a work of Christ in Hades, he makes proclamation 'ekeruxen'
in Hades to those who are there in ward. This interpretation, which was
almost universally adopted by the early Christian church, etc."
"In the second and third centuries every branch and division of
Christians believed that Christ preached to the departed." Dietelmair(72)
says this doctrine "in omni coetu Christiano creditum."
Why preach salvation to souls whose doom was fixed for eternity? And how
could Christians believe in that doctrine and at the same time give the
aionian words the meaning of eternal duration?
AION MEANS AN EON, ĆON or AGE.
It is a pity that the noun (aión) has not always
been rendered by the English word eon, or ćon, and the adjective by
eonian or aionion; then all confusion would have been avoided. Webster's
Unabridged, defines it as meaning a space or period of time, an era,
epoch, dispensation, or cycle, etc. He also gives it the sense of
eternity, but no one could have misunderstood, had it been thus rendered.
Suppose our translation read "What shall be the sign of thy coming,
and of the end of the ćon?" "The smoke of their torment shall
ascend for ćons of ćons." "These shall go away into aionian
chastisement, etc." The idea of eternity would not be found in the
noun, nor of endless duration in the adjective, and the New Testament
would be read as its authors intended.
Let the reader now recall the usage as we have presented
it, and then reflect that all forms of the word are applied to punishment
only fourteen times in the entire New Testament, and ask himself the
question, Is it possible that so momentous a doctrine as this is only
stated so small a number of times in divine revelation? If it has the
sense of limited duration, this is consistent enough, for then it will be
classed with the other terms that describe the Divine judgments. The fact
that so many of those who speak or write never employ it at all, and that
all of them together use it but fourteen times is a demonstration that He
who has made known his will, and who would of all things have revealed so
appalling a fate as endless woe, if he had it in preparation, has no such
doom in store for immortal souls.
We now pass to corroborate these positions by consulting
the views of those in the first centuries of the Christian Church, who
obtained their opinions directly or indirectly from the apostles
5.--THE CHRISTIAN FATHERS.
Nothing can cast a backward illumination on the New Testament,
and teach us the full meaning of our controverted words, as Jesus and the
apostles used them, so well as the language of the Christian fathers and
the early church. We will therefore consult those who were perfectly
familiar with the Greek tongue, and who passed the word along down the
ages, from the apostles to their successors, for more than five hundred
Prof. Tayler Lewis(73)
in the course of learned disquisitions on the meaning of the Olamic and
Aionian words of the Bible, refers to the oldest version of the New
Testament, the Syriac, or the Peshito, and tells us how these words are
rendered in this first form of the New Testament: "So is it ever in
the old Syriac version where the one rendering is still more unmistakably
clear. These shall go into the pain of the Olam (aión) (the
world to come), and these to the life of the Olam (aión)
(the world to come)." He refers to Matt. xix:16; Mark x:17; Luke
xviii:18; John iii:15; Acts xiii:46; 1 Tim. vi:12, in which aiónios
is rendered belonging to the olam, or world to come.Eternal life,
in our version, the words in Matt. xxv:46, are rendered in the Peshito
"the life of the world to come."
We quote this not to endorse, but to show that one of the
best of modern critics testifies that the earliest New Testament version
did not employ endless as the meaning of the word. Of Prof. Lewis Dr.
"We are not to suppose that so eminent an Orthodox divine says these
things in support of Universalism, a system which he decidedly and
THE APOSTLES CREED.
The Apostles' Creed is the earliest Christian formula. The
idea of endless torment is not hinted. "I believe in God, the Father
Almighty; and in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord, who was
born of the Virgin Mary by the Holy Ghost, was crucified under Pontius
Pilate, buried, rose from the dead on the third day, ascended to the
heavens, and sits on the right hand of the Father; whence he will come, to
judge the living and the dead: and in the Holy Spirit; the holy church;
the remission of sins; and the resurrection of the body."(75)
Our first reference to the patristic writers shall be to
Ignatius (A. D. 115) who says the reward of piety "is
incorruptibility and eternal life," "love incorruptible and
perpetual life." Here the aionian life is strengthened by
incorruptible," showing that the word aiónion alone was in
his mind unequal to the task of expressing endless duration. He says,
also, that Jesus "was manifested to the ages" (tois aiósin).
Of course he intended to use no such ridiculous expression as "to the
The Sibylline Oracles --dated variously by different
writers from 500 B. C., to 150 A. D., teach aionian suffering, and
universal salvation beyond, showing how the word was then understood. The
prophetess who professes to write the Oracles describes the saints as
petitioning God for the salvation of the damned. Thus entreated she says
"God will deliver them from the devouring fire and eternal
gnashing of teeth."
Justin Martyr, A. D., 140, 162, taught everlasting
suffering, and annihilation afterwards. The wicked "are tormented as
long as God wills that they should exist and be tormented. . . . . Souls
both suffer punishment and die."(76)
He uses the expression aperanton aiona.(77)
"The wicked will be punished with everlasting punishment, and
not for a thousand years as Plato asserted." Here punishment is
announced as limited. This is evident from the fact that Justin Martyr
taught the annihilation of the wicked; they are to be "tormented world
without end," and then annihilated.
says, "the unjust shall be sent into inextinguishable and eternal
fire," and yet he taught that the wicked are to be annihilated:(79)
"When it is necessary that the soul should no longer exist, the vital
spirit leaves it, and the soul is no more, but returns thither whence it
was taken." Dr. Beecher pertinently observes:(80)
"What then are the facts as to Irenćus? Since he has been canonized
as a saint, and since he stood in such close connection with Polycarp and
with John the apostle, there has been a very great reluctance to admit the
real facts of the case. Massuetus has employed much sophistry in
endeavoring to hide them. Nevertheless, as we shall clearly show
hereafter, they are incontrovertibly these: that he taught a final
restitution of all things to unity and order by the annihilation of all
the finally impenitent. Express statements of his in this creed, and in a
fragment referred to by Prof. Schaff, on universal restoration,(81)
and in other parts of his great work against the Gnostics, prove this
beyond all possibility of refutation. The inference from this is plain. He
did not understand aiónios in the sense of eternal; but in the
sense claimed by Prof. Lewis, that is, pertaining to the world to
come." These are his words: "Christ will do away with all evil,
and make an end of all impurities." He further says(82)
that certain persons "shall not receive from him (the Creator) length
of days forever and ever." Thus the word denoted limited duration in
his time, A. D. 170, 200.
So Hermogenes (A. D. 200) who believed that all sinful
beings will finally cease to be, must have understood Christ as applying aiónion
to punishment in the sense of limited duration, or he would not have
believed in annihilation, and have been a Christian.
ORIGEN AND THEODORE OF MOPSUESTIA.
Origen used the expressions "everlasting
fire" and "everlasting punishment" to express his
idea of the duration of punishment. Yet he believed that in all cases sin
and suffering would cease and be followed by salvation. He was the most
learned man of his time, and his example proves that aiónion did
not mean endless at the time he wrote, A. D. 200 --253. Dr. Beecher says(83)
"As an introduction to his system of theology, he states certain
great facts as a creed believed by all the church. In these he states the
doctrine of future retribution as aiónion life, and aiónion
punishment, using the words of Christ. Now, if Origen understood aiónion
as meaning strictly eternal, then to pursue such a course would involve
him in gross and palpable self-contraction. But no one can hide the facts
of the case. After setting forth the creed of the church as already
stated, including aiónion punishment, he forthwith proceeds, with
elaborate reasoning, again and again to prove the doctrine of universal
restoration. The conclusion from these facts is obvious: Origen did not
understand aiónios as meaning eternal, but rather as meaning
pertaining to the world to come. . . . Two
great facts stand out on the page of ecclesiastical history. One that the
first system of Christian theology was composed and issued by Origen in
the year 230 after Christ, of which a fundamental and essential element
was the doctrine of the universal restoration of all fallen beings to
their original holiness and union to God. The second is that after the
lapse of a little more than three centuries, in the year 544, this
doctrine was for the first time condemned and anathematized as
heretical. This was done, not in the general council, but in a local
council called by the Patriarch Mennos at Constantinople, by the order of
Justinian. During all this long interval, the opinions of Origen and his
various writings were an element of power in the whole Christian world.
For a long time he stood high as the greatest luminary of the Christian
world. He gave an impulse to the leading spirits of subsequent ages and
was honored by them as their greatest benefactor. At last, after all his
scholars were dead, in the remote age of Justinian, he was anathematized
as a heretic of the worst kind. The same also was done with respect to
Theodore of Mopsuestia, of the Antiochian school, who held the doctrine of
universal restitution on a different basis. This, too, was done long after
he was dead, in the year 553. From and after this point the doctrine of
future eternal punishment reigned with undisputed sway during the middle
ages that preceded the Reformation. What, then, was the state of facts as
to the leading theological schools of the Christian world in the age of
Origen and some centuries after? It was, in brief, this: There were at
least six theological schools in the church at large. Of these six
schools, one, and only one, was decidedly and earnestly in favor of the
doctrine of future eternal punishment. One was in favor of the
annihilation of the wicked. Two were in favor of the doctrine of universal
restoration on the principles of Origen, and two in favor of universal
restoration on the principles of Theodore of Mopsuestia.
"It is also true that the prominent defenders of the
doctrine of universal restoration were decided believers in the divinity
of Christ, in the trinity, in the incarnation and atonement, and in the
great Christian doctrine of regeneration; and were, in piety, devotion,
Christian activity and missionary enterprise, as well as in learning and
intellectual power and attainments, inferior to none in the best ages of
the church, and were greatly superior to those by whom, in after ages,
they were condemned and anathematized.
"It is also true that the arguments by which they
defended their views were never fairly stated and answered. Indeed, they
were never stated at all. They may admit of a thorough answer and
refutation, but even if so, they were not condemned and anathematized on
any such grounds, but simply in obedience to the arbitrary mandates of
Justinian, whose final arguments were deposition and banishment for those
who refused to do his will.
"Consider, now, who Theodore of Mospuestia was, not as
viewed by a slavish packed council, met to execute the will of a Byzantine
despot, but by one of the most eminent evangelical scholars of Germany,
Dorner. Of him he says: "Theodore of Mopsuestia was the crown and
climax of the school of Antioch. The compass of his learning, his
acuteness, and, as we must suppose, also, the force of his personal
character, conjoined with his labors through many years, as a teacher both
of churches and of young and talented disciples, and as a prolific writer,
gained for him the title of Magister Orientis. He labored on
uninterruptedly till his death in the year 427, and was regarded with an
appreciation the more widely extended as he was the first Oriental
theologian of this time."(84)
Mosheim says of Origen: "Origen possessed every
excellence that can adorn the Christian character; uncommon piety from his
very childhood; astonishing devotedness to that most holy religion which
he professed; unequaled perseverence in labors and toils for the
advancement of Christianity; and elevation of soul which placed him above
all ordinary desires or fears; a most permanent contempt of wealth, honor,
pleasures, and of death itself; the purest trust in the Lord Jesus, for
whose sake, when he was old and oppressed with ills of every kind, he
patiently and perseveringly endured the severest sufferings. It is not
strange, therefore, that he was held in so high estimation, both while he
lived and after death. Certainly if any man deserves to stand first in the
catalogue of saints and martyrs, and to be annually held up as an example
to Christians, this is the man, for, except the apostles of Jesus Christ
and their companions, I know of no one, among all those enrolled and
honored as saints, who excelled him in virtue and holiness."(85)
How could universal salvation have been the prevailing
doctrine in that age of the church unless the word applied to punishment
in Matt. xxv:46 was understood by Christians to mean limited duration?
The fact that Origen and others taught an aionian punishment
after death, and salvation beyond it,DEMONSTRATESthat
in Origen's time the word had not the meaning of endless, but did mean at
that date, indefinite or limited duration.
Readers curious to look up this point of the state of
opinion during the centuries following the age of Origen, can refer to the
authorities cited below.(86)
Eusebius (A. D. 300-25) describes the darkness preceding
"These for a long time had no limit," they continued "for a
long eternity:"dia polun aióna. To say that darkness
that ended with the creation endured for a long eternity,
would be absurd.
Gregory Nyssen (A. D. 370-3) proves that the word had the
meaning of limited duration in his day. He says(88)
"Whoever considers the divine power will plainly perceive that it is
able at length to restore by means of the everlasting purgation and
expiatory sufferings, those who have gone even to this extremity of
wickedness." Thus everlasting punishment and salvation beyond was
taught in the fourth century.
Augustine (A. D. 400-430) was the first known to argue that
aiónios signified endless. He at first maintained that it always
meant thus, but at length abandoned that ground, and only claimed that it
had that meaning sometimes. He "was very imperfectly acquainted with
the Greek language."(89)
A. D. 410 Avitus brought to Spain, from Jerome, in
Palestine, a translation of Origen, and taught that punishments are not
endless; for "though they are called everlasting, yet that word in
the original Greek does not, according to its etymology and frequent use,
signify endless, but answers only to the duration of an age."(90)
GENERAL USAGE OF THE FATHERS.
In fact, every Universalist and every Annihilationist among
the fathers of the early church is a standing witness testifying that the
word was understood as we claim, in their day. Believers in the Bible,
accepting its utterances implicitly as truth, how could they be
Universalists or Annihilationists with the Greek Bible before them, and aiónion
punishment taught there, unless they gave to the word thus used the
meaning of limited duration? Accordingly, besides those alluded to above,
we appeal to those ancient Universalists, the Basilidians (A. D. 130), the
Carpocratians (A. D. 140), Clemens Alexandrinus (A. D. 190), Gregory
Thaumaturgus (A. D. 220-50), Ambrose (A. D. 250), Titus of Bostra (A. D.
340-70), Didymus the Blind (A. D. 550-90), Diodore of Tarsus (A. D.
370-90), Isidore of Alexandria (A. D. 370-400), Jerome (A. D. 380-410),
Palladius of Gallatia (A. D. 400), Theodore of Mopsuestia (A. D. 380-428),
and others, not one of whom could have been a Universalist unless he
ascribed to this word the sense of limited duration. To most of them Greek
was as familiar as English is to us.
THE EMPEROR JUSTINIAN.
The Emperor Justinian (A. D. 540), in calling the
celebrated local council which assembled in 544, addressed his edict to
Mennos, Patriarch of Constantinople, and elaborately argued against the
doctrines he had determined should be condemned. He does not say, in
defining the Catholic doctrine at that time "We believe in aiónion
punishment," for that was just what the Universalist, Origen himself
taught. Nor does he say, "The wordaiónion has been
misunderstood, it denotes endless duration," as he would have said
had there been such a disagreement. But, writing in Greek with all the
words of that copious speech from which to choose, he says, "The holy
church of Christ teaches an endless aiónios (ATELEUTETOSaiónios)
life to the righteous, and endless (ateleutetos) punishment to the
wicked." Aiónios was not enough in his judgement to denote
endless duration, and he employed ateleutetos. This demonstrates
that even as late as A. D. 540 aiónios meant limited duration, and
required an added word to impart to it the force of endless duration.
BELIEVERS IN ANNIHILATION AND IN UNIVERSAL SALVATION
APPLIED THE WORD TO PUNISHMENT.
Thus Ignatius, Polycarp, Hermas, Justin Martyr, Irenćus,
Hyppolytus, Justinian, and others, (from A. D. 115 to A. D. 544) use the
word aiónion to define punishment. And yet, some of these taught
that decay out of conscious existence is the natural destiny of men, from
which some only are saved by God's grace. Previous to this decay or
extinction of being, they held that men experienceaiónion
punishment. The aiónion punishment is not extinction of being, for
that was the soul's natural destiny. The punishment is not endless for it
ceases. Let us illustrate: Justin Martyr says "Souls suffer aiónion
punishment and die." The punishment is in the future world, but it
concludes with extinction, and yet it is aiónion. A. D. 540, aiónion
requiredateleutetos prefixed to convey the idea of endless
Olympiodorus (sixth century) is quoted by Dr. Beecher(91)
as saying, "When aiónios is used in reference to a period
which, by assumption, is infinite and unbounded, it means eternal:
but when used in reference to times or things limited, the sense is
limited to them."
THE FIRST SIX CENTURIES.
Hence the word did not mean endless duration among the
early Christians for about six centuries after Christ. To say that any one
who contradicts these men is correct, and that they did not know the
meaning of the word, is like saying that an Australian, twelve hundred
years hence, will be better able to give an accurate definition of English
words in common use to-day than we are ourselves. These ancients could not
be mistaken, and the fact that they required qualifying words to give aiónion
the sense of endless duration --that they used it to describe punishment
when they believed in the annihilation of the wicked, or in their
restoration subsequent to aiónion punishment, irrefragably
demonstrates that the word had not the meaning of endless to them, and if
not to them, then it must have been utterly destitute of it.
The uniform usage of these words by the early Church
demonstrates that they signified temporal duration.
Many sensible people will, with propriety, say, "Why
all this labor to establish the meaning of one word?" And the author
confesses that such a labor should be unnecessary. Men ought to refuse to
credit such a doctrine as that of endless punishment on higher grounds
than those of verbal definitions. Reverence, not to say respect, for God,
the fact that he is the Father of mankind, should cause all to reject the
doctrine of endless torment, though the weight of argument were a thousand
fold to one in favor of the popular definition of this word. But there are
many who disregard the moral argument against the doctrine, which is
unanswerable; who crush under the noblest instincts of the heart and soul,
which plead, trumpet-tongued, against that horrible nightmare of doubt and
unbelief; who cling to the mere letter of the word which kills, and ignore
the spirit which gives life; who insist that all the voices of reason and
sentiment should be disregarded because the Bible declares the doctrine of
endless punishment for sinners. It is for such that these facts have been
gathered, and this essay written, that no shred nor vestige even of verbal
probability should exist to mislead the mind, and so seem to sanction the
doctrine that defames God and distresses man; that it might be seen that
the letter and the spirit of the word agree, and are in perfect accord
with the dictates of reason, the instincts of the heart, and the impulses
of the soul, in rejecting the worst falsehood, the foulest of all brood of
error, the darkest defamation of the dear God's character that ever yet
was invented, the monstrous falsehood that represents him as consigning
the souls he has created to his own image to interminable torment. The
word under examination is the foundation stone of that evil structure.
Thus it has appeared as the result of this discussion that
1. There is nothing in the Etymology of the word
warranting the erroneous view of it.
2. The definitions of Lexicographers uniformly given not
only allow but compel the view we have advocated.
3. Greek writers before and at the time the Septuagint was
made, always gave the word the sense of limited duration.
4. Such is the general usage in the Old Testament.
5. The Jewish Greek writers at the time of Christ ascribed
to it limited duration.
6. The New Testament thus employs it.
7. The Christian Fathers for centuries after Christ thus
Hence it follows that the readers of the Bible are under
the most imperative obligations to understand the word in all cases as
denoting limited duration, unless the subject treated, or other qualifying
words compel them to understand it differently. There is nothing in the
Derivation, Lexicography or Usage of the word to warrant us in
understanding it to convey the thought of endless duration.
If our positions are well taken the Bible does not teach
the doctrine of endless torment, for it will be admitted that if this word
does not teach it, it cannot be found in the Bible.
AN IMPORTANT WORD CONSIDERED.
There is but one Greek word beside aiónios rendered
everlasting, and applied to punishment, in the New Testament, and that is
the word aidios found in Jude 6: "And the angels which kept
not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in
everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgement of the great
day." This word is found in but one other place in the New Testament,
viz. Rom. i:20: "For the invisible things of him from the creation of
the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made,
even his eternal power and Godhead."
Now it is admitted that this word among the Greeks had the
sense of eternal, and should be understood as having that meaning wherever
found, unless by express limitation it is shorn of its proper meaning. It
is further admitted that had aidios occurred where aiónios
does, there would be no escape from the conclusion that the New Testament
teaches Endless Punishment. It is further admitted that the word is here
used in the exact sense of aiónios, as is seen in the succeeding
verse: "Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like
manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange
flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal
fire." That is to say, the "aidios" chains in verse
6 are "even as" durable as the aiónion fire"
in verse 7. Which word modifies the other?
1. The construction of the language shows that the latter
word limits the former. The aidios chains are even as the aiónion
fire. As if one should say "I have been infinitely troubled, I have
been vexed for an hour," or "He is an endless talker, he can
talk five hours on a stretch." Now while "infinitely" and
"endless" convey the sense of unlimited, they are both limited
by what follows, as aidios, eternal, is limited by aiónios,
2. That this is the correct exegesis is evident from still
another limitation of the word. "The angels - - - he hath reserved in
everlasting chains UNTO the judgement of the great
day." Had Jude said that the angels are held in aidios chains,
and stopped there, not limiting the word, we should not dare deny that he
taught their eternal imprisonment. But when he limits the duration by aiónion
and then expressly states that it is only unto a certain date, we
understand that the imprisonment will terminate, even though we find
applied to it a word that intrinsically signifies eternal duration, and
that was used by the Greeks to convey the idea of eternity, and was
attached to punishment by the Greek Jews of our Savior's times, to
describe endless punishment, in which they were believers.
But observe, while this word aidios was in universal
use among the Greek Jews of our Savior's day, to convey the idea of
eternal duration, and was used by them to teach endless punishment, he
never allowed himself to use it in connection with punishment, nor did any
of his disciples but one, and he but once, and then carefully and
expressly limited its meaning. Can demonstration go further than this to
show that Jesus carefully avoided the phraseology by which his
contemporaries described the doctrine of endless punishment? He never
employed it. What ground then is there for saying that he adopted the
language of his day on this subject? Their language was aidios timoria,
endless torment. His language was aionion kolasin, age-lasting
correction. They described unending ruin, he discipline, resulting in
1. Prideaux, Connection, Vol. III. Part ii. Book i.
2. "Etymologicum Linguć Grćcć."
3. "Christian Examiner," Vol. X, p.42. He
quotes the ancient Phavorinus as defining it thus: "The comprehension
of many times or periods."
4. De Cćlo, lib.i.cap.9.
5. Christian Union.
6. Chicago Tribune, quoted by Hon. C. H. Reed.
7. Christian Union. A series of remarkable papers
was published in the Christian Union in 1873-4, by Edward Beecher, D. D.,
on the "History of Future Retribution."
8. Volume 2, pp. 500-550.
9. Theodoret, in Migne. Vol. IV, page 400.
10. Christian Examiner, Vol. X. page 47.
11. Christian Union.
12. Lange's Ecclesiastes.
13. Christian Examiner, Vols. x, xi, and xii.
Boston: Gray & Bowen.
14. I. xxii, 58.
15. I. xxiv, 725.
16. Christian Union.
17. Theog 609.
18. Persć 263.
19. Supp.572, cited by Prof. Tayler Lewis.
20. Nem. iii, 130.
21. Electra 1030.
22. De Mundo Cap.5.
23. In Metaph Lib. xiv.
24. Lib. ii.
25. Lib. i, Cap. 9.
26. Orestes, 596.
27. Ibid 971.
28. Med. 428.
29. Lib. viii cap 1.
30. De Repub. Lib. ii.
31. De Leg., Lib. x.
33. Cap. 5, p. 609 C.
34. Cap. 5, p. 610 A.
35. Metaph., Lib. xiv, cap. 7.
36. De Cćlo., i, 9.
37. De Cćlo, Lib. ii, cap. i.
38. Quoting from Timćus Locrus.
39. Ps. cslviii, 5, 6. Isa. xxx, 8 xxxiv, 10. Jer.
vii, 7; xxv, 5.
40. 2 Sam. xii,10. Joel ii, 26, 27.
41. Univ. Book of Reference, pp. 106-7.
42. Gen. xvii, 7, 8, 13; xlviii, 4; xlix, 26. Ex.
xl, 15. Lev. xvi, 34. Num. xxv, 13. Ps. xxiv, 7. Hab. iii, 6.
43. Deut. xv, 17. I Sam. i,22; xxvii, 12. Lev. xxv,
46. II Kings v, 27. Job xli, 4. I Kings i, 31. Neh. ii, 3. Dan. ii, 4.
Exod. xiv, 13. Ecc. i,4. Ps. civ, 5; lxxviii, 69. Ezek. xxxvii, 25. Gen.
xiii, 15. Exod. xxxii, 13. Josh. xiv, 9. I Chron. xxiii, 25. Jer. xvii,
25. Ps. xlviii, 8. Jer. xxxi, 40. I Kings viii, 13. Num. x,8; xviii, 24. I
Chron. xxviii, 4. II Kings ix, 5. Josh. iv, 7. Jonah ii, 6. Ps. xxxvii,
44. Gen. xvii:8; Ex. xl:15; xxi:6; Jonah ii:5,6.
45. Ex. xv:18; Dan. xii:3; Micah iv:5.
46. Note on Ecol. i:4, Lange's Com. pp. 45-50.
47. Second Inquiry.
48. Christian Union.
49. Hist. Jews vol. i: p. 117; Div. Leg. vol iii:
pp. 1, 2 vol. v: Sermons xiii: Archćology p. 398; Essays, p.44.
50. Antiq. -- Wars.
51. Dr. Edward Beecher See p.17
52. See Griesbach, Knapp, and Wetstein.
53. Ex. Essays p.46.
54. Com. in loc.
55. Protag. Sec. 38, vol. 1, p. 252.
56. War. 3, 5, 8. Ant. 2, 4, 5, etc.
57. Theological Essays, Vol.1, pp. 143-162.
58. Sermons pp. 99-102.
59. Univ. Expositor, vol. 3, p. 446.
60. Univ. Expositor. vol. 3, p. 437.
61. Christian Examiner. Sept. 1830, pp. 25, 26.
62. Notes on Gal. i.
63. Burthog's "Christianity, a Revealed
Mystery," pp. 17, 18. Note on Rom. xvi:25.
64. Notes on Matt. xii:31, 32.
65. Com. on loco.
67. Paiges's Selections.
68. Paige Com. Vol. vi: p.398.
69. Daniel and Rev. London Ed. 1733, p. 18.
70. Lange on Eccl., 130.
71. Mission to the Underworld, pp. 51, 52.
72. Historia Dogmatis de Descensu Christi ad
Inferos, chs. iv and vi.
73. Lange's Genesis, pp. 135, 144, and Ecclesiastes
pp. 44, 51.
74. Christian Union.
75. Murdoch's Mosheim, vol. 1, p. 96.
76. Dialog. cum Tryphone pp. 222-3.
77. Apol. Prim cxxvii.
78. Adv. Her. p. v. cap. 27.
80. Christian Union.
81. Christian Union.
82. Schaff, vol. ii, pp. 504, 73.
83. Christian Union.
84. Doctrine of Person of Christ, Div. 2, vol. i,
p. 50, Eninburgh.
85. Hist. Com. on Chris. before Constantine, vol.
ii, p. 149.
86. Assemanni Bib. Orient. vol. iii, part i, pp.
223-4, 324.-Doderlein, Inst. Theol. Christ. vol. ii, pp. 200-1. -Jacobi,
Bohn's Edition.-Neander's Hist. Christian Dogmas. -Guericke, Shedd's
Translation. pp. 308, 349. -Neander Torrey's Translation, vol. ii. p.
251-2. -Dorner's Hist. Person of Christ, 2 vol. pp. 28, 30, 50. - Dr.
Schaff Hist. Christ Ch. vol. ii. pp. 731, 504. - Giesler, vol. i. p. 370.
-Kurz, 1. Text Book Christ. Hist. p. 137-2:2. -Hagenbach, quoting from
Augustine Civitate Dei, liber. xxi. chap. xvi.
NOTE. - Doderlein says: * The most learned in
the early church, cherished and defended with most zeal the hope of a
final cessation of torments. These are his words: Quanto quis altius
eruditione in antiquitate Christianna eminuit, tanto magis spem
finiendorum olim cruciatuum aluit atque defendit.
*Inst. Theol. Chris. vol. ii. p. 199.
87. History vol. i. p. 173.
88. De Infantibus, p. 173.
89. Ancient Hist. Univ.
90. Hieronymi Epist.
91. Christian Union.
Writings in This Series: