a look on the phrase eis ton aióna

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a look on the phrase eis ton aióna

Postby sven » Fri May 22, 2009 9:45 am

I wrote a longer "article" examining the meaning of the phrase eis ton aióna, maybe it helps anybody, though most of you know I suppose.

eis ton aióna – “in eternity” or “for the age” or something else?

My secular Ancient-Greek dictionary (Langenscheidt Taschenwörterbuch Altgriechisch – Deutsch) gives following definitions (translated into English):

αιων: life, lifetime, generation, time span, (period of) time, age, eternity

Now there are an amazing variety of meanings, the difference between a generation and eternity is immense. There are two extreme opinions, the one - Aión always means a (particular) age, e.g. the Millennium, the other more common view is, that it means in eternity, in English bibles often translated with forever or never, however forever or never can be understood in a limited sense, forever until… or forever as long..., never until… or never as long…at least I would say so.

I will examine several verses in the New Testament, where age (in the sense of a particular age) makes no sense (though this doesn’t mean it should be understood as eternally), other verses in the Septuagint where this phrase can impossible mean eternity on the other hand and especially the verses where it seems to contradict the teaching of universalism.

The well known John Nelson Darby for example defends the translation of aión with eternity arguing with Plato’s Timaios 37d (http://stempublishing.com/authors/darby ... 1003E.html)

Plato wrote:

When the father creator saw the creature which he had made moving and living, the created image of the eternal (aidios) gods, he rejoiced, and in his joy determined to make the copy still more like the original; and as this was eternal (aidios), he sought to make the universe eternal (???), so far as might be. Now the nature of the ideal being was eternal (aiónios), but to bestow this attribute in its fullness upon a creature was impossible. Wherefore he resolved to have a moving image of eternity (aión), and when he set in order the heaven, he made this image eternal (aiónios) but moving according to number, while eternity (aión) itself rests in unity; and this image we call time (chronos). For there were no days and nights and months and years before the heaven was created, but when he constructed the heaven he created them also. They are all parts of time, and the past and future are created species of time, which we unconsciously but wrongly transfer to the eternal (aidios) essence; for we say that he "was," he "is," he "will be," but the truth is that "is" alone is properly attributed to him, and that "was" and "will be" only to be spoken of becoming in time, for they are motions, but that which is immovably the same cannot become older or younger by time, nor ever did or has become, or hereafter will be, older or younger, nor is subject at all to any of those states which affect moving and sensible things and of which generation is the cause. These are the forms of time, which imitates eternity (aión) and revolves according to a law of number. Moreover, when we say that what has become is become and what becomes is becoming, and that what will become is about to become and that the non-existent is non-existent -- all these are inaccurate modes of expression. But perhaps this whole subject will be more suitably discussed on some other occasion.


http://psychclassics.yorku.ca/Plato/Tim ... maeus1.htm (Chapter 7 there)

It seems Plato called time (chronos) an eternal (aiónios) image of eternity (aión), I have no idea what Plato meant with that; and it doesn’t actually make sense for me. Plato also employs aidios (eternal) referring to the gods not aiónios though Mr. Darby claims Plato used both words synonymous, aidios unlike aiónios is the common ancient Greek word supposed to mean eternal, though I have read that even aidios could have been used in a limited sense.

Generally Plato seems to contrast time (chromos) with eternity (aión), keep this in mind.

Mr. Darby also quotes Aristotle to support his position; I do not really understand what Aristotle seems to say in the quotation Mr. Darby gives. However concerning Aristotle:

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" (most probably aidios), 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."


Source: http://www.tentmaker.org/books/Aion_lim.html

Mr. Darby gives as an argument for example:

So John 4: 14, shall not thirst "for the age": is that the meaning? or never? John 6: 51, 58, "live for ever"; John 10: 28, not perish "to the age": is that the sense? John 13: 8, thou shalt not wash my feet "to the age!" A multitude more may be quoted to the same effect; some with the modified sense I have spoken of above of absolute gift and calling never to be retracted. But eis ton aiona never means "to the age" in any case.


Concerning John 13:8 as an example Mr. Darby is partly right in my opinion.

Peter said to Him, You may in no way wash my feet to the age. Jesus answered him, If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me. (Green’s Literal)

to the age or better into the age, as Mr. Darby correctly observes makes no proper sense in my view as well, even if literally correct translated.

Mr. Darby translates:

Peter says to him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, Unless I wash thee, thou hast not part with me.

However, according to his understanding of the phrase eis ton aióna he should have translated “Peter says to him, you should not wash my feet in eternity.”This would also sound a bit odd, most sense would make, “you should not wash my feet forever, as long as I live” – a limited “forever” or “aión” referring most probably to lifetime or indefinite time, not absolute unconditional endlessness.

The Tyndale New Testament from 1525 is interesting, having no reference to eternity.

Peter sayd vnto him: thou shalt not wesshe my fete whill ye worlde stondeth. Iesus answered him: yf I wasshe ye not thou shalt have no part with me.

This might be a proper definition:

Theodoret (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 man."


eis ton aióna referring to men as Peter in John 13:8 meaning most probably lifetime, perpetual continuance but within limits.

The relevant verses concerning the salvation of all are only Mark 3:29 and Jude 13

Mark 3:29

ὃς δ᾽ ἂν βλασφημήσῃ εἰς τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον, οὐκ ἔχει ἄφεσιν εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα, ἀλλὰ ἔνοχός ἐστιν αἰωνίου ἁμαρτήματος.

Green’s Literal, no “universalist” translation as you might suppose

…but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit has no remission unto the age (eis ton aióna), but is liable to eternal judgment…

Same Verse in Mr. Darby’s translation

…but whosoever shall speak injuriously against the Holy Spirit, to eternity has no forgiveness; but lies under the guilt of an everlasting sin…

It should be either into the age or into eternity, so both translations do possibly not translate the article entirely correct, the Apostolic Bible interlinear translation has into the eon.

Jude 13

κύματα ἄγρια θαλάσσης ἐπαφρίζοντα τὰς ἑαυτῶν αἰσχύνας, ἀστέρες πλανῆται οἷς ὁ ζόφος τοῦ σκότους εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα τετήρηται.

Green’s Literal

wild waves of the sea foaming up their shames, wandering stars for whom blackness of darkness has been kept to the age.

Mr. Darby’s translation

raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shames; wandering stars, to whom has been reserved the gloom of darkness for eternity.

the Apostolic Bible interlinear translation has into the eon.

Mr. Darby says:

A multitude more may be quoted to the same effect; some with the modified sense I have spoken of above of absolute gift and calling never to be retracted. But eis ton aiona never means "to the age" in any case.
Take 1 Peter 1: 23, 25, logou zontos theou kai menontos eis ton aiona. Does it last only "to the age" (applying it to the logon, not to theou as some do)? So verse 25, rema menei eis ton aiona. So 2 John 2, the truth shall be with us "to the age!" So Jude 13, wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness eis ton aiona. Here again "to the age" has no sense.


I agree with Mr. Darby that into the age, as if a specific age would be meant, makes no sense for the phrase eis ton aióna in almost all occurrences, especially in the Septuagint which I will show later, though I do not agree that eis ton aióna means strict endlessness or even eternity, at least as long as not referring to God.

Mr. Darby does not deny, that aión also means age; in fact he translates aión several times with age, where the KJV translators utterly failed.

1 Corinthians 2:7

But we speak God's wisdom in [a] mystery, that hidden [wisdom] which God had predetermined before the ages for our glory

before the ages, pro tōn aiōnōn, the KJV does render it improperly before the world

Revelation 20:10

And the devil who deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where [are] both the beast and the false prophet; and they shall be tormented day and night for the ages of ages.

ages of ages instead of for ever and ever though Mr. Darby was surely no universalist.

Luke 1:33

and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for the ages, (F17) and of his kingdom there shall not be an end.

Mr. Darby brings following footnote: F17 Or 'for ever;' but it is plural.

I regard Mr. Darby as an honest scholar, he seems to have thought eis ton aióna means in eternity, but he realized here it is plural (eis tous aiónas) and was honest enough to render it ages, at least here; in other occurrences he renders the plural with for ever though. Sometimes he translates with world or worlds as the KJV translators did.

I will now come to the Septuagint, quoting the Apostolic Bible interlinear translation and the translation from Sir Lancelot C. L. Brenton.

Exodus 15:18

κυριος βασιλευων τον αιωνα και επ' αιωνα και ετι
Kyrios basileuōn ton aiōna kai ep aiōna kai eti
The Lord reigning into the eon, and unto eon, and still

Into to the eon and still (or furthermore – kai eti), showing that eon itself is not endless, the Hebrew has something like olam va ed, for “olam” and furthermore, showing that whatever olam means, it can hardly mean endlessness, cause nothing goes beyond an endlessness. The Latin bible (Vulgate) has aeternum et ultra – in eternity and beyond, showing that even Latin aeternum did not (necessarily) denote endlessness in Jerome’s days.

Exodus 21:6

προσαξει αυτον ο κυριος αυτου προς το κριτηριον του θεου και τοτε προσαξει αυτον επι την θυραν επι τον σταθμον και τρυπησει αυτου ο κυριος το ους τω οπητιω και δουλευσει αυτω εις τον αιωνα

…his master shall bring him to the judgment-seat of God, and then shall he bring him to the door, —to the door-post, and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl, and he shall serve him for ever…

for ever or into the eon could at most mean for lifetime here, imagine how ridiculous it would be to translate or to understand, a slave shall serve his master in eternity. My Torah commentary (German version of the Plaut Chumash) says, that the Rabbis understood forever (Hebrew olam) as until the Jubilee year, so we might possibly understand eis ton aióna here as forever, until the Jubilee year; the Vulgate has in saeculum, meaning age.

Exodus 40:15

και εσται ωστε ειναι αυτοις χρισμα ιερατειας εις τον αιωνα εις τας γενεας αυτων
And it will be so as to be them an anointing priesthood into the eon, unto their generations.

For me generations rather belong to time than to eternity, it is of course important what the Jewish translators had in mind here when they translated the Hebrew scriptures into Greek, but I can hardly imagine that they understood with eis ton aióna here something everlasting without any end, especially as Hebrew olam had not such a meaning.

Deuteronomy 15:17

και λημψη το οπητιον και τρυπησεις το ωτιον αυτου προς την θυραν και εσται σοι οικετης εις τον αιωνα και την παιδισκην σου ποιησεις ωσαυτως

then you shall take the shoemaker’s awl, and make a hole in his ear against the door, and he will be to you a servant into the eon.

This is a kind of parallel verse of Exodus 21:6 already mentioned, it’s interesting that the Vulgate has aeternum here while it has saeculum there, as if it were synonyms, as saeculum denotes limited duration, aeternum must do so as well to be a synonym, age and eternity would hardly be synonyms.

Deuteronomy 23:6

ου προσαγορευσεις ειρηνικα αυτοις και συμφεροντα αυτοις πασας τας ημερας σου εις τον αιωνα
You shall not address peaceable to them, nor be advantageous to them all your days into the eon.

All your days for eternity is hardly to imagine here – especially in a Platonic sense as days belong to time and not eternity, I guess a long continuance was in the mind of the writer.

1 Samuel 27:12

και επιστευθη δαυιδ εν τω αγχους σφοδρα λεγων ησχυνται αισχυνομενος εν τω λαω αυτου εν ισραηλ και εσται μοι δουλος εις τον αιωνα

So David had the full confidence of Anchus, who said, He is thoroughly disgraced among his people in Israel and he shall be my servant for ever.

For ever or into the eon (eis ton aióna) can at most refer to lifetime here, it is impossible to think of eternity here. The Latin has sempiternus, showing that to the ancients all these words had not such a strict meaning, as if they meant everlasting without any end but as it seems to me rather “everlastingness” as long as it lasts, but limited by the circumstances it refers to.

A Seventh Day Adventist who believes in the destruction of the unrighteous writes concerning the adjective aiónios (referring to Matthew 25:46):

It is important to note that the Greek word aionios, translated "eternal" or "everlasting," literally means "lasting for an age." Ancient Greek papyri contain numerous examples of Roman emperors being described as aionios. What is meant is that they held their office for life. Unfortunately, the English words "eternal" or "everlasting" do not accurately render the meaning of aionios, which literally means "age-lasting." In other words, while the Greek aionios expresses perpetuity within limits, the English "eternal" or "everlasting" denotes unlimited duration.


Source: http://www.biblicalperspectives.com/boo ... tion/6.htm

Of course this man might not be the highest authority regarding questions on Greek language but for me it makes sense and seems to fit exactly to the meaning of the phrase eis ton aióna, possibly expressing perpetual continuance but within limits according to the things, actions, circumstances or persons applied to, I will came back to this point at my conclusion.

Psalm 73:12

ιδου ουτοι αμαρτωλοι και ευθηνουνται εις τον αιωνα κατεσχον πλουτου
Behold, these are the sinners, and they prosper into the eon, holding wealth.

This is kind of my favorite verse, who would seriously claim that sinners prosper eternally?, this alone is striking proof that Hebrew olam does not mean everlasting, at least doubtlessly not in all occasions, eis ton aióna could hardly have been intended to mean in eternity here.

Micah 4:5

QUIA OMNES POPULI AMBULABUNT UNUSQUISQUE IN NOMINE DEI SUI NOS AUTEM AMBULABIMUS IN NOMINE DOMINI DEI NOSTRI IN AETERNUM ET ULTRA
οτι παντες οι λαοι πορευσονται εκαστος την οδον αυτου ημεις δε πορευσομεθα εν ονοματι κυριου θεου ημων εις τον αιωνα και επεκεινα
For all the peoples shall go each in his own way; but we shall call go in the name of the Lord our God into the eon (eis ton aióna) and beyond (kai epekeia).

This is also a most interesting verse, as Exodus 15:18, in eternity and beyond if this phrase would actually mean eternity, for me it seems impossible that the translators who made the Septuagint understood eis ton aióna to express eternity in any case, when they render eis ton aióna and beyond.

But there are also examples where eis ton aióna refers to God.
One example:

Psalm 119:89

εις τον αιωνα κυριε ο λογος σου διαμενει εν τω ουρανω
Into the eon, o Lord, your word abides in the heaven.

Here we might understand eis ton aióna as in eternity, but not because the phrase carries this meaning in itself but because applied to God, if we compare eis ton aióna with the word lifelong we would have a similar effect, lifelong applied to men are only a few decades, but applied to God eternity.

I think I’m not the first one who came to this conclusion; for me eis ton aióna seems to express perpetual continuance but within limits according to the things, actions, circumstances or persons applied to, not strict infinity or unconditional endlessness but “everlastingness” as long as it lasts, limited by the circumstances it refers to, or meaning simply unknown continuance.

It’s also interesting that the Latin words aeternum (eternal) and sempiternum (everlasting) are also used in a sense of only lifelong, and aeternum obviously as synonym of saeculum (age) in some occasions; it seems that all these words might have had a similar meaning to the ancients and I think this was not infinity. 

It’s a bit unlucky in my opinion that Mr. Darby used Plato as authority and did obviously not examine the use of this phrase in the Septuagint, as eis ton aióna is the equivalent of Hebrew olam and as this word does not mean eternity, which I think all authorities agree, so eis ton aióna does most probably express something similar as olam does.
There is one interesting verse, where Mr. Darby does translate exactly as the “universalist” translations, which supports my position concerning olam.

Ecclesiastes 12:5

Young’s Literal (sometimes called a “universalist” translation)
Also of that which is high they are afraid, And of the low places in the way, And the almond-tree is despised, And the grasshopper is become a burden, And want is increased, For man is going unto his home age-during (olam), And the mourners have gone round through the street.

Mr. Darby’s translation
they are also afraid of what is high, and terrors are in the way, and the almond is despised, and the grasshopper is a burden, and the caper-berry is without effect; (for man goeth to his age-long home, and the mourners go about the streets;)

There is also another interesting expression in the Septuagint, remember Plato contrasted time (chronos) with eternity (aión).

Isaiah 34:10

…νυκτος και ημερας και ου σβεσθησεται εις τον αιωνα χρονον και αναβησεται ο καπνος αυτης ανω εις γενεας ερημωθησεται και εις χρονον πολυν

…nuktos kai êmeras kai ou sbesthêsetai eis ton aiōna chronon kai anabêsetai o kapnos
autês anō eis geneas erêmōthêsetai kai eis chronon polun

…night and day; and it shall not be extinguished into the eon of time. And shall ascend her smoke upward; unto her generations she shall be made desolate, and for a long time she shall be made desolate.

While Plato contrasted chronos with aión, here the aión belongs to time (chronos), an eon of time, for me it seems obvious that they didn’t understand the phrase eis ton aióna in a Platonic sense (whatever Plato meant with “time being an eternal/eonian image of eternity”).

According to Mr. Darby’s understanding one must translate, in eternity of time – but this would sound odd and contradict Plato’s definition of eternity I suppose, which Mr. Darby seems to see as kind of authoritative.

I will now come to my last points, Mr. Darby though he agrees that aión means occasionally age insists that aiónios means eternal.

Mr. Darby wrote:

…and at the same time philosophical force of the word, aion, aionios. Eternity, unchangeable, with no 'was' nor 'will be,' is its proper force, that it can be applied to the whole existence of a thing, so that nothing of its nature was before true or after is true, to telos to periechon. But its meaning is eternity, and eternal. To say that they do not mean it in Greek, as Jukes and Farrar and S. Cox, and those they quote, is a denial of the statements of the very best authorities we can have on the subject. If Plato and Aristotle and Philo knew Greek, what these others say is false. That this is the proper sense of aionios in Scripture, is as certain as it is evident. In 2 Corinthians 4: 18, we have ta gar blepomena proskaira, ta de me blepomena aionia. That is, things that are for a time are put in express contrast with aionia, which are not for a time, be it age or ages, but eternal. Nothing can be more decisive of its positive and specific meaning.
… But this does not alter the meaning of the word: aionios is properly the opposite to proskairos.


Mr. Darby refers here to 2 Corinthians 4:18, however proskairos is not time (chronos) itself but seems rather to be a period, Plato did not contrast a period (proskairos) with eternity but time itself (chronos) with eternity (aión), so Mr. Darby is wrong here in my opinion.

The word proskairos also occurs in Matthew 13:21, Mark 4:17, Hebrews 11:25
In Mt. 13:21 the TNIV, NIV and NIRV bibles translate proskairos with short time, the KJV has a while, others a season, quite similar in Mk. 4:17.

Hebrews 11:25 (KJV)

Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season (proskairos);

Some other translations have short time here, or for a while.

The particular verse is:

2. Corinthians 4:18

μὴ σκοπούντων ἡμῶν τὰ βλεπόμενα ἀλλὰ τὰ μὴ βλεπόμενα• τὰ γὰρ βλεπόμενα πρόσκαιρα, τὰ δὲ μὴ βλεπόμενα αἰώνια.
mê skopountōn êmōn ta blepomena alla ta mê blepomena ta gar blepomenaproskaira, ta de mê blepomena aiōnia.

For tho thingis that ben seyn, ben but durynge for a schort tyme; but tho thingis that ben not seyn, ben euerlastynge. (Wycliffe Bible)

As I said proskairos is not time itself, this would be chronos, but rather a (shorter) period as far as I know, you can contrast strict opposites or things that are related to each other, you can contrast a lake with a desert and you can contrast a lake with an ocean; one might suppose here is contrasted time with timeless eternity in a Platonic sense, but you can also contrast something which lasts only a short present period with something that is yet future and will last for ages. I think this verse proofs in no way that aiónios should be understood as endless, because this verse does not say so. It might be the perfect definition of Hebrew olam which means something like hidden time as far as I know:

Things that are seen last only for a (short present) period, but things yet future, not seen yet and with an unavowed end, are olam/eonian.

This might be a possible interpretation without any relation to a supposed endlessness or timeless eternity as Mr. Darby and others suppose.

Mr. Darby also said that Philo of Alexandria, who was contemporary with Christ, used aiónios in the meaning of everlasting, using him as authority to support his opinion, however:

Philo, who was contemporary with Christ, generally used aidion to denote endless, and always used aiónion to describe temporary duration. Dr. Mangey, in his edition of Philo, says he never used aiónion to interminable duration. He uses the exact phraseology of Matthew 25:46, 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 everlasting1 punishment [kolasis aiónios] from such as are more powerful." Here we have the exact terms employed by our 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.


1this was also quoted on other pages, in the context it seems to be about several years of imprisonment

Source: http://www.tentmaker.org/books/Aion_lim.html

The last point, three verses where Mr. Darby was kind of inconsequent

Titus 1:2

ἐπ᾽ ἐλπίδι ζωῆς αἰωνίου, ἣν ἐπηγγείλατο ὁ ἀψευδὴς θεὸς πρὸ χρόνων αἰωνίων

Green‘s Literal

on hope of eternal life which the God who does not lie promised before eternal times

Mr. Darby’s translation

in [the] hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised before the ages of time,

2 Timothy 1:9

τοῦ σώσαντος ἡμᾶς καὶ καλέσαντος κλήσει ἁγίᾳ, οὐ κατὰ τὰ ἔργα ἡμῶν ἀλλὰ κατὰ ἰδίαν πρόθεσιν καὶ χάριν, τὴν δοθεῖσαν ἡμῖν ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ πρὸ χρόνων αἰωνίων

Green’s Literal

the One having saved us and having called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace given to us in Christ Jesus before eternal times

Mr. Darby’s translation

who has saved us, and has called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to [his] own purpose and grace, which [was] given to us in Christ Jesus before [the] ages of time

In both verses pro chronōn aiōniōn, before eonian times, having a beginning they can hardly be eternal, Mr. Darby knew this quite well I suppose, therefore translating with ages, showing that at least here he understood aiónios as pertaining to ages. The Vulgate has ante tempora saecularia, something like before times age-abiding, as saeculum means age, saecularia must mean age-abiding, however in later times saecularia seems to have been understood as pertaining to the world (modern secular), probably therefore does for example the King James Version following the Vulgate, translate before the world began.

Romans 16:25.26

…κατὰ ἀποκάλυψιν μυστηρίου χρόνοις αἰωνίοις σεσιγημένου, 26 φανερωθέντος δὲ νῦν διά τε γραφῶν προφητικῶν κατ᾽ ἐπιταγὴν τοῦ αἰωνίου θεοῦ …

…kata apokalypsin mysteriou chronois aiōniois sestigêmenou, 26 phanerōthentos de nun dia te graphōn prophêtikōn kai epitagên tou aiōniou Theou …

Green’s Literal translation

Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel, and the proclaiming of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery having been kept unvoiced during eternal times, 26 but now has been made plain, and by prophetic Scriptures, according to the commandment of the eternal God, made known for obedience of faith to all the nations;

Mr. Darby’s translation

Now to him that is able to establish you, according to my glad tidings and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to [the] revelation of [the] mystery, as to which silence has been kept in [the] times of the ages, but [which] has now been made manifest, and by prophetic scriptures, according to commandment of the eternal God, made known for obedience of faith to all the nations –

The eternal times (chronois aiōniois) had an end; Mr. Darby translates aiónios here with of the ages.
Beside the point that the phrase eternal times is a contradiction in itself, how would this fit to the Platonic view of time contrasted with eternity?, if Plato separates time from eternity (though I’m not 100% sure), but Paul calls times “eternal”, than I think Paul didn’t use aiónios in a Platonic sense, as did not the translators of the Septuagint as I’ve shown; but Paul mention eternal times 3x where they had either beginning or end and most probably both which also proves Strong’s definition of aiónios wrong (Strong number 166).

I will close now, as there have countless articles been written on this subject, but had I doubts especially concerning the phrase eis ton aióna what it does actually mean.

There is also an interesting opinion concerning aiónios, if it would actually mean eternal:

Wilhelm Barclay, I think a Greek scholar and bible translator wrote:

Second, one of the key passages is Matthew 25:46 where it is said that the rejected go away to eternal punishment, and the righteous to eternal life. The Greek word for punishment is kolasis, which was not originally an ethical word at all. It originally meant the pruning of trees to make them grow better. I think it is true to say that in all Greek secular literature kolasis is never used of anything but remedial punishment. The word for eternal is aionios. It means more than everlasting, for Plato - who may have invented the word - plainly says that a thing may be everlasting and still not be aionios. The simplest way to out it is that aionios cannot be used properly of anyone but God; it is the word uniquely, as Plato saw it, of God. Eternal punishment is then literally that kind of remedial punishment which it befits God to give and which only God can give.


Source: http://www.savior-of-all.com/barclay.html

Though I do not share this view personally, it shows that the teaching of universalism does not stand or fall with the translation of the word aiónios, while the doctrine of endless torment can only be proven true if it can be shown, that aiónios means strict infinity or endlessness in all occasions or at least in Matthew 25:46 (and even then would annihilationism not have been refuted).


what do you think, as some of you know Greek (much better than I do) is it right, or did I make serious mistakes?

ps: I also created a pdf file, with nicer formatation, better to read, you'll find it in the attachment
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Re: a look on the phrase eis ton aióna

Postby Michael » Wed May 27, 2009 10:10 am

I don't think you made any mistakes here sven.

Thank you.
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Re: a look on the phrase eis ton aióna

Postby sven » Sat May 30, 2009 10:01 am

I overworked the article a bit, maybe it helps anybody, you'll find it in the attachment
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Re: a look on the phrase eis ton aióna

Postby JasonPratt » Mon Aug 24, 2009 5:03 am

That's a fine article, Sven.

I would add a small caveat, though, that there is at least a small amount of legitimate doubt about whether the doxology to Romans (16:25-27) is original to Paul, based partly on linguistic differences (though I'm not sure what those linguistic differences are supposed to be) and partly on its tendency to sometimes not be included in texts or to shift around various places. (This is connected to the question of whether the final chapter or two was original to Paul, or terminated with-or-without the doxology at chapter 14; or maybe whether Paul sent the same letter out twice, the shorter one being to the Romans and an extended text to the Ephesians.)
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NEW FILE

Postby sven » Fri May 10, 2013 2:22 am

I compiled all what I wrote earlier to quite an extant paper, 40 pages, maybe it helps somebody, I would also want to know if I am seriously in error somehwere:
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Re: a look on the phrase eis ton aióna

Postby Sobornost » Fri May 24, 2013 1:27 am

Sven - this is good stuff!! :D

There is only one thing I can clarify for you -

It seems Plato called time (chronos) an eternal (aiónios) image of eternity (aión), I have no idea what Plato meant with that; and it doesn’t actually make sense for me.


‘Time is the moving image of eternity’ – you can find the quotation from Plato’s Timaeus here - http://www.ellopos.net/elpenor/greek-te ... o-time.asp

I think the idea in Plato is that the perfect world, the static eternal world, is very different from the created temporal world. Eternity is perfection, while the world of time is a mere imperfect copy of eternal perfection (it’s imperfect because it is subject to change and decay unlike the Eternal). However, Plato was not a complete dualist like the Gnostics – the created world still reflected the perfection of the Eternal world of which it is a copy (the Neo-Platonists stressed this part of Plato’s teaching, while the Gnostics fastened on the Platonic idea of difference between time and eternity). Thus William Blake writing in the Neo Platonic tradition wrote that –

‘Eternity is in love with the productions of time’.
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Re: a look on the phrase eis ton aióna

Postby Origen; » Sun Dec 24, 2017 10:13 pm

Greek scholar Marvin Vincent said:

"Both the noun and the adjective are applied to limited periods. Thus the phrase eis ton aiona, habitually rendered forever, is often used of duration which is limited in the very nature of the case. See, for a few out of many instances, LXX, Exod 21:6; 29:9; 32:13; Josh. 14:9 1 Sam 8:13; Lev. 25:46; Deut. 15:17; 1 Chron. 28:4;. See also Matt. 21:19; John 13:8 1 Cor. 8:13. The same is true of aionios. Out of 150 instances in LXX, four-fifths imply limited duration. For a few instances see Gen. 48:4; Num. 10:8; 15:15; Prov. 22:28; Jonah 2:6; Hab. 3:6; Isa. 61:17."

[by Marvin R. Vincent, from Word Studies in the New Testament (Grand Rapids: William B Eerdmans, 1973, p.58f).]

http://what-the-hell-is-hell.com/2011/n ... struction/
https://books.google.ca/books?id=1eCBAA ... on&f=false

Exodus 21:6:

Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him for ever. (KJV)
Then he will be his servant for life. (NIV)
and he shall serve him permanently. (NASB)

Exodus 21:6, LXX has "eis ton aionas", clearly using it of finite duration. The phrase "eis ton aionas" does not mean forever in Exo.21:6.

The LXX scholars translated the Hebrew "le olam" as "eis ton aionas" in Exo.21:6. Obviously "le olam" does not mean forever or endless duration there (in the Hebrew) either.

The book "Life Time Entirety" refers on p.134 to the following passage where "eis ton aiona" is finite:

I Maccabees 14:41

καὶ ὅτι οἱ Ιουδαῖοι καὶ οἱ ἱερεῖς εὐδόκησαν τοῦ εἶναι αὐτῶν Σιμωνα ἡγούμενον καὶ ἀρχιερέα εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα ἕως τοῦ ἀναστῆναι προφήτην πιστὸν

Also that the Jews and priests were well pleased that Simon should be their governor and high priest for ever [eis ton aióna], until [eós]there should arise a faithful prophet

Likewise on p.133 it gives the same type of example of "eis ton aióna" being of finite duration in Isa.32:14-17.

https://books.google.ca/books?id=l-Smsh ... &q&f=false
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Re: a look on the phrase eis ton aióna

Postby Paidion » Mon Dec 25, 2017 10:20 am

Sven, you've certainly done a huge amount of research into the matter. I applaud you for all your diligent work!

The expression εἰς τον αἰωνα ("eis ton aiōna") literally means "into the age." The phrase occurs 28 times in the New Testament.

The Diaglott is an ultra-literal translation, and also uses medieval English. I counted "into the age" 7 times, "to the age" 12 times, "to an age" once, and "for the age" 8 times. Here is the Diaglott translation of these 28 occurrences:

Mt 21:19 And seeing a fig-tree one by the way, he came to her, and nothing found in her except leaves alone; and he says to her: No more by thee fruit may be produced to the age. And withered immediately the fig-tree.
Mr 3:29 who but ever may speak evil to the spirit the holy, not has forgiveness to the age, but liable is of age-lasting judgment.
Mr 11:14 And answering he said to her: No more of thee to the age no one fruit may eat. And heard the disciples of him.
Lu 1:55 (as he spoke to the fathers of us), to the Abraham and to the seed of him even to an age.
Joh 4:14 who but ever may drink of the water, of which I shall give to him, not not may thirst to the age; but the water, which I shall give him, shall be in him a well of water springing into life age-lasting.
Joh 6:51 I am the bread that living, that from the heaven having come down; if any one may eat of this the bread, he shall live into the age. And the bread also, which I will give, the flesh of me is, which I will give in behalf of the world life.
Joh 6:58 This is the bread, that from the heaven having come down; not as ate the fathers of you, and died; he eating this the bread, shall live into the age.
Joh 8:35 The but slave not abides in the house to the age; the son abides to the age.
Joh 8:51 Indeed indeed I say to you, if any one the word the mine may keep, death not not he may see to the age.
Joh 8:52 Said then to him the Jews: Now we know, that a demon thou hast; Abraham died and the prophets, and thou sayest: If any one the word of me may keep, not not may taste of death to the age.
Joh 10:28 and I life age-lasting give to them, and not not they will perish into the age, and not will wrest any one them out of the hand of me.
Joh 11:26 and all the living and believing into me, not not may die into the age. Believest thou this?
Joh 12:34 Answered him the crowd: We heard out of the law, that the Anointed abides into the age; and how thou sayest, that it behooves to be lifted up the son of the man? who is this the son of the man?
Joh 13:8 Says to him Peter: Not not thou mayest wash the feet of me into the age. Answered him the Jesus: If not I may wash thee, thou hast a part of me.
Joh 14:16 and I will ask the Father, and another helper he will give to you, that he may abide with you into the age;
1Co 8:13 Wherefore if food ensnares the brother of me, not I may eat flesh to the age, so that not the brother of me I may ensnare.
2Co 9:9 even as it has been written: He has dispersed, he gave to the poor ones; the righteousness of him abides for the age.
Heb 1:8 concerning but the son: The throne of thee the god for the age of the ages; a sceptre of rectitude the sceptre of the kingdom of thee.
Heb 5:6 as also in another he says: Thou a priest for the age, according to the order of Melchizedek.
Heb 6:20 where a forerunner on behalf of us entered Jesus, according to the order of Melchizedek a high-priest having become for the age.
Heb 7:17 It testifies for: That thou a priest for the age according to the order of Melchizedek.
Heb 7:21 he but with swearing through the one saying to him: Swore a Lord, and not will change; Thou a priest for the age according to the order of Melchizedek;)
Heb 7:24 he but, on account of the to continue him for the age, unchangeable he has the priesthood;
Heb 7:28 The law for men appoints high-priests, having weakness; the word but of the swearing of that after the law, a son for to the age having been perfected.
1Pe 1:25 the but word of Lord abides to the age; this now is the word that having been announced to you.
1Jo 2:17 And the world passes away, and the lust of it; the but one doing the will of the God, abides for the age.
2Jo 1:2 on account of the truth that abiding in us, and with us shall be for the age;

I do not suggest that the Diaglott is a good translation into English.I quoted the 27 verses only to point to those verses that contain the expression εἰς τον αἰωνα ("eis ton aiōna").

In my opinion εἰς τον αἰωνα ("eis ton aiōna") is a Greek idiom. When used with the negative it would be best translated as "never" and without the negative would be best translated as "always." And we all know that the word "always" may, but does not necessarily mean "forever."

For example, I would translate John 8:35 as follows:
The slave never remains in the house; the son always remains.


Try substituting "never" or "always" appropriately in the other verses and see whether it makes sense. But don't do it in the Diaglott; do it in a modern translation such as the ESV.

Just three more examples:

John 4:14 ...but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty...

John 13:8 Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.”

2John 1:2 ...because of the truth that remains in us and will be with us always.
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Re: a look on the phrase eis ton aióna

Postby Eaglesway » Tue Jan 02, 2018 9:47 am

I like that Paidon. It is similar to the treatment I think "olam" should receive, and olam is the Hebrew/Aramaic predecessor of aion. Like in

Exodus 21:6
Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him for ever.(olam KJV)

Then his master must take him to the door or doorpost and publicly pierce his ear with an awl. After that, the slave will serve his master for life.(NIV)

then his master shall bring him to God, then he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost. And his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him permanently. (NAS)

Olam occurs around 450 times in the OT is mostly translated "forever/everlasting", but frequently, as in Ex21:6, "forever" doesnt really work.

But if eis ton aiona is rendered as "always". I am curious how you would render "eis pasas tas geneas tou aionos tou aionon"(Eph 3:21) and "eis tous aionas ton aionion" (Ro 16:27)

Also (and this is going back a ways so I hope my memory serves me well) I noticed in a lot of places olam is doubled "olam olam" and I have wondered if that could be an emphasis or an idiom for "forever"- because as I surveyed all 450 some occurences of "olam" in the OT, in the places where it was doubled "forever/eternal/everlasting" seemed to fit.
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Re: a look on the phrase eis ton aióna

Postby JamesAH81072 » Wed Jan 10, 2018 9:52 pm

Origen; wrote:Greek scholar Marvin Vincent said:

"Both the noun and the adjective are applied to limited periods. Thus the phrase eis ton aiona, habitually rendered forever, is often used of duration which is limited in the very nature of the case. See, for a few out of many instances, LXX, Exod 21:6; 29:9; 32:13; Josh. 14:9 1 Sam 8:13; Lev. 25:46; Deut. 15:17; 1 Chron. 28:4;. See also Matt. 21:19; John 13:8 1 Cor. 8:13. The same is true of aionios. Out of 150 instances in LXX, four-fifths imply limited duration. For a few instances see Gen. 48:4; Num. 10:8; 15:15; Prov. 22:28; Jonah 2:6; Hab. 3:6; Isa. 61:17."

[by Marvin R. Vincent, from Word Studies in the New Testament (Grand Rapids: William B Eerdmans, 1973, p.58f).]

http://what-the-hell-is-hell.com/2011/n ... struction/
https://books.google.ca/books?id=1eCBAA ... on&f=false


Hey @Origen; I found this from Marvin Vincent's Word Studies on John 3:36

Here is John 3:36 in Greek-ο πιστευων εις τον υιον εχει ζωην αιωνιον ο δε απειθων τω υιω ουκ οψεται ζωην αλλ η οργη του θεου μενει επ αυτον

From Vincent's Word Studies:

Shall not see ( οὐκ ὄψεται )

Compare the future tense with the present “hath eternal life,” and the simple life with the fully developed idea eternal life. He who believes is within the circle of the life of God, which is essentially eternal. His life “is hid with Christ in God.” Life eternal is to know the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom He hath sent. Hence, to such an one, eternal life is not merely something future. It is a present possession. He hath it. The unbelieving and disobedient, instead of having eternal life, shall not have life: shall not even see it (compare see the kingdom of God, John 3:3). He shall have no perception of life simply considered, much less of eternal life, the full and complex development of life.

Seem like in your OP he says that αιων in the noun and adjective form denotes a limited period but here he says the adjective form αιων which in John 3:36 is αιωνιον stands for eternal. Is he contradicting himself here? I don't see how he can say one thing and then turn around and backtrack and say nope it means eternal!
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Re: a look on the phrase eis ton aióna

Postby Origen; » Wed Jan 10, 2018 11:12 pm

JamesAH81072 wrote:
Origen; wrote:Greek scholar Marvin Vincent said:

"Both the noun and the adjective are applied to limited periods. Thus the phrase eis ton aiona, habitually rendered forever, is often used of duration which is limited in the very nature of the case. See, for a few out of many instances, LXX, Exod 21:6; 29:9; 32:13; Josh. 14:9 1 Sam 8:13; Lev. 25:46; Deut. 15:17; 1 Chron. 28:4;. See also Matt. 21:19; John 13:8 1 Cor. 8:13. The same is true of aionios. Out of 150 instances in LXX, four-fifths imply limited duration. For a few instances see Gen. 48:4; Num. 10:8; 15:15; Prov. 22:28; Jonah 2:6; Hab. 3:6; Isa. 61:17."

[by Marvin R. Vincent, from Word Studies in the New Testament (Grand Rapids: William B Eerdmans, 1973, p.58f).]

http://what-the-hell-is-hell.com/2011/n ... struction/
https://books.google.ca/books?id=1eCBAA ... on&f=false


Hey @Origen; I found this from Marvin Vincent's Word Studies on John 3:36

Here is John 3:36 in Greek-ο πιστευων εις τον υιον εχει ζωην αιωνιον ο δε απειθων τω υιω ουκ οψεται ζωην αλλ η οργη του θεου μενει επ αυτον

From Vincent's Word Studies:

Shall not see ( οὐκ ὄψεται )

Compare the future tense with the present “hath eternal life,” and the simple life with the fully developed idea eternal life. He who believes is within the circle of the life of God, which is essentially eternal. His life “is hid with Christ in God.” Life eternal is to know the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom He hath sent. Hence, to such an one, eternal life is not merely something future. It is a present possession. He hath it. The unbelieving and disobedient, instead of having eternal life, shall not have life: shall not even see it (compare see the kingdom of God, John 3:3). He shall have no perception of life simply considered, much less of eternal life, the full and complex development of life.

Seem like in your OP he says that αιων in the noun and adjective form denotes a limited period but here he says the adjective form αιων which in John 3:36 is αιωνιον stands for eternal. Is he contradicting himself here? I don't see how he can say one thing and then turn around and backtrack and say nope it means eternal!


He doesn't say aionios always refers to a period which is finite, though his opinion [quoted above] is that "Out of 150 instances in LXX, four-fifths imply limited duration."

Whether or not he thinks aionios means "eternal" in the sense of endlessness in John 3:36, i'm not clear on, especially after reading this:

http://bibleone.net/Aion-Aionios.pdf

http://www.tentmaker.org/articles/aionole.htm
Scholars Corner:
http://www.tentmaker.org/ScholarsCorner.html

Minimal Statement of Faith for Evangelical Universalists:
viewtopic.php?f=41&t=57
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Re: a look on the phrase eis ton aióna

Postby JamesAH81072 » Wed Jan 10, 2018 11:59 pm

Origen; wrote:
JamesAH81072 wrote:
Origen; wrote:Greek scholar Marvin Vincent said:

"Both the noun and the adjective are applied to limited periods. Thus the phrase eis ton aiona, habitually rendered forever, is often used of duration which is limited in the very nature of the case. See, for a few out of many instances, LXX, Exod 21:6; 29:9; 32:13; Josh. 14:9 1 Sam 8:13; Lev. 25:46; Deut. 15:17; 1 Chron. 28:4;. See also Matt. 21:19; John 13:8 1 Cor. 8:13. The same is true of aionios. Out of 150 instances in LXX, four-fifths imply limited duration. For a few instances see Gen. 48:4; Num. 10:8; 15:15; Prov. 22:28; Jonah 2:6; Hab. 3:6; Isa. 61:17."

[by Marvin R. Vincent, from Word Studies in the New Testament (Grand Rapids: William B Eerdmans, 1973, p.58f).]

http://what-the-hell-is-hell.com/2011/n ... struction/
https://books.google.ca/books?id=1eCBAA ... on&f=false


Hey @Origen; I found this from Marvin Vincent's Word Studies on John 3:36

Here is John 3:36 in Greek-ο πιστευων εις τον υιον εχει ζωην αιωνιον ο δε απειθων τω υιω ουκ οψεται ζωην αλλ η οργη του θεου μενει επ αυτον

From Vincent's Word Studies:

Shall not see ( οὐκ ὄψεται )

Compare the future tense with the present “hath eternal life,” and the simple life with the fully developed idea eternal life. He who believes is within the circle of the life of God, which is essentially eternal. His life “is hid with Christ in God.” Life eternal is to know the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom He hath sent. Hence, to such an one, eternal life is not merely something future. It is a present possession. He hath it. The unbelieving and disobedient, instead of having eternal life, shall not have life: shall not even see it (compare see the kingdom of God, John 3:3). He shall have no perception of life simply considered, much less of eternal life, the full and complex development of life.

Seem like in your OP he says that αιων in the noun and adjective form denotes a limited period but here he says the adjective form αιων which in John 3:36 is αιωνιον stands for eternal. Is he contradicting himself here? I don't see how he can say one thing and then turn around and backtrack and say nope it means eternal!


He doesn't say aionios always refers to a period which is finite, though his opinion [quoted above] is that "Out of 150 instances in LXX, four-fifths imply limited duration."

Whether or not he thinks aionios means "eternal" in the sense of endlessness in John 3:36, i'm not clear on, especially after reading this:

http://bibleone.net/Aion-Aionios.pdf

http://www.tentmaker.org/articles/aionole.htm


I'm wondering if he's calling it eternal(John 3:36)for the sake of argument since he already clarified his position elsewhere?
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