Monday, January 12, 2009

The Meaning of Everlasting, Eternal and Forever in the Bible

What are the true meaning of the words everlasting, eternal and forever in the bible? Do you know the meaning of these words?

It seems obvious that these words mean the same thing right, which is “never ending, non stop, continuously and forever with no end.”

Ok these are our modern day words meaning forever but The Greek word translated “forever and ever” is the word ‘aion’ which has a limit, and doesn’t mean forever.

These words were always used in reference to time when used in Hebrew and Greek writings. It could be used to describe a person’s lifetime (their age), or even a longer time period, like the 1,000 years in the millennia, or even an unknown time period, but however long the period is, it does has an end to it.

Let’s look at one of the verses that are commonly used to prove the doctrine of everlasting punishment.

Take a look at Revelation 14:11. “And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever 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.” 

The words “for ever and ever” comes from the Greek word “aion” which has a limit  and doesn’t mean eternality, so in Rev. 14:11 there’s a time period to be tormented. How long? Only God knows.

 The word "aion" has been used by Greek classical writers to reference to  “limited duration” and not “eternal.” 

Although this word doesn't mean “eternal or forever” but there were only one word that came the closest to our English word “eternal” and that word is “aidios”.

Here is a scripture where “aidios” is used in Romans 1:20 
"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; so that they are without excuse”

As you can see why this makes so much sense. “Eternal” literally means “eternal” because it’s translated from “aidios”.

The Bible always uses the word “aion” (age, limited time) when speaking of the future punishment of unrepentant sinners.

Check out this verse in Matthew 25:46 " And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal." 

 The thing is, at first glance most people would think that this means eternal, which is does, but “everlasting punishment” is definitely everlasting, but the punishment is death, meaning their death will last forever with NO hope of a resurrection. That the purpose of a second death right?

Is there a reason to be resurrected after a second death? 

The purpose of the first resurrection is to be judged, so sinners involved in the second death have no purpose for another resurrection because they've already been judged in the first resurrection.

 Here’s a few verses that speaks about the second death for un-repented sinners…

"And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death." (Revelation 20:14)

 "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years." (Revelation 20:6)

 "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death." (Revelation 2:11)

 What’s this about the second death? We can discuss more about that in another post.

 Knowing the meaning for "AION" and other Greek and Hebrew words when translated to everlasting, forever and eternal is a must to get a  full understanding.  

Thanks for reading. Please feel free to leave me a comment below. I would love to hear from you. Thanks and God bless you.


Anonymous said...

The misinterpretation of this word leads to the most horrible misrepresentation of God's character. This lie, that hell is a torture chamber where people suffer for millions and millions of years-for all time actually, is a sad twisting of, and a counterfeit of God's beautiful Truth, that has lead many to reject Him. The wages of sin is death. The punishment is death. Satan lied to Eve about this, and he still is. He has deceived the marjority of christians on this point. How sad that our Saviour has ben denigrated to the level of torturer. He is Love. He died in our place. He didn't go to a torture chamber. Would it be just to receive punishing and torture throughout all time for a few years of sin, and rejecting Jesus? No way, God's justice is beyond our level of fairness. The punishMENT is death, non existence. The punishING is brief and relative to the sin. I am sure that Hitler would receive more punishing prior to his death, what Scripture calls the second death, than your average Joe who just rejected Christ and HIS GIFT. I am GRATEFUL that our God is just and is love, and that the new heavens and the new earth will be clean and pure, no more sin, crime, disease, tears and pain, no torture chamber or way. Praise God for His plan, an eternity or peace and harmony, like the original Garden of Eden, free or sin and its consequences. Reject Satan's counterfeit. Thankyou Lord Jesus.

Owen said...

Thanks Richelle for this article. I appreciate it because it just explains and confirms what I already know about our most loving and gracious God and creator. I'm sure that many of the churches that have evolved after several hundred years following Jesus' ministry upon earth have enthusiastically used this deception in order to keep the money rolling in to their coffers, and this is so sad to me. Others may be genuinely zealous but can't offer a proper explanation to this troubling question. It will be good though, won't it, for us never to presume upon God's grace, rather to be strengthened in the love and fear of God always. Sincerely, Owen: from New Zealand

Anonymous said...

Here is the problem with your logic. First of all you assume that your sense of justice is equal to God's and that just because you wouldn't... that God wouldn't.... Who answers to who??? Secondly the same word aion appears many more times in reference to God and life than it does to eternal punishent. Are we to say that God will only exist for a period of time and then cease to exist. Here is a example where this interpretation is incorrect
1John 3:15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. If we interpet this to mean a period of time or limit it doesnt make sense. Why would he sayt that murderers do not have a (period of time) of life in them. Clearly the meaning must be eternal, which is a very plausable definition of the word aion. Please do not be so conceited as to think that our sense of justice is more refined and developed than the eternal God.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Richelle, I agree with you. I have been meditating on this this week and your article makes lots of sense.
Isaiah 32:14-15 talks about the "everlasting destruction of Jerusalem, and that cannot be contradictory with His everlasting promises about Jerusalem. Read and compare:
1- Gen 17:13
2- 1Kings 9:3
3- Rev 21:22
4- 1Chronicles 15:2 + 1Chronicles 23:13
5- Heb 7:11-12

They all support your article.

Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

That is totally true. It is really sad how people interpret "everlasting" in the very modern concept without taking this into consideration. As God was planning for the heavenly kingdom since He created this World, he talked about the everlasting Jerusalem which was earthly built. Yet, when Jesus came to earth, he announced the "New Heavens and New Jerusalem". Jesus announced the new stage of the everlasting covenant which helps us raise above the earthly things and have the kingdom in our hearts. I feel sad for those who are still attached to the earthly symbols.

isaac obajaja said...

Forever, Eternal and Everlasting all refers to the duration or life- span of God and His Christ. All human, bears the life of God: consequent upon this is the everlasting nature of God' attribute inherited by Man. God's word teaches us that eternity applies to men and angel, sinners and the Righteous, If your own biblical interpretation of eternity is true: that eternity has a limit of time, Then, it implies that God is not everliving and the entire truth about godliness and ungodliness, Heaven and Hell is all false, that will mean that God is unjust, unrighteous in ramifications. I counsel you to withdraw this falsehood that has the potential of making sinners justify their sinfulness and eventually perish in hell forever.

jill/mom said...

You forget that, though we were created "in Gods image", "only God is immortal" a moment, in the blink of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For it is necessary for this perishable body to put on incorruptibility, and this mortal body to put on immortality. So then, my dear brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 15:52, 53, 58

Anonymous said...

It would seem that "everlasting" could refer to a duration of time depending on the context. Pertaining to believers their salvation status is permanent and if that is the case then why wouldn't that same vein of truth carry over to unbelievers ? No one likes the thought of perpetual suffering but that should give us the incentive to do something about it now, but even so look at all the indifference out there today.