Sunday, May 9, 2010

Proper Translation Is Eons Not Forever

The Ages

A glance at any Greek concordance proves that the noun
{Aion}, or "age," is not the synonym of eternity. A study of each
case would make a volume; so, leaving this task to the reader, we
must content ourselves with adducing a few specimens to
substantiate our assertion.

In the New Testament we frequently meet with the phrase "this
age" (+Matt.13:22; Rom.12:2; Gal.1:4; Eph.2:2). In two instances
Paul refers to a mystery once hid from "ages and generations" but
now revealed to the saints (+Eph.3:9; Col.1:26). Now, since this
secret is divulged in the course of "this age," but was concealed
from "ages," it follows that the present age was preceded by other
ages. Again, we read of "the age to come" (+Matt.10:30; Eph.1:21;
Heb.6:5). "This age" and "that age" are mentioned side by side and
contrasted by our Savior in +Luke 20:34,35; and elsewhere we read
of "ages to come" (+Eph.2:7). Bordering upon "this present evil
age," on either side of it, there lie other "ages." Here is
conclusive proof that an {aion} is a limited period; and that the
totality of "all the {aions}" is itself terminable is proven by
the repeated mention of a "before" and a "beyond" the ages.

The adjective {aionios}, a derivative of {aion}, carries
within itself its own solution; for {aionios} is simply what
belongs or relates to the {aions}--"of the ages" or "age-long,"
hence it cannot carry a force or express a duration greater than
that of the "ages" or {aions} which it speaks of. If therefore
these "ages" are limited periods, some of which are already past,
while others are yet to come, the word {aionios} cannot mean
infinity. This fact does not in the least affect the true eternity
of bliss of God's people; for that de-pends not upon the meaning of the word {aionios}, but upon such explicit, unmistakable assertions as those declaring that such as
attain to the resurrection from the dead "cannot die any more"
(+Luke 20:36), or "neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor
principalities nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,
nor height, nor depth, nor any other creation, shall be able to
separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our
Lord" (+Rom.8:38,39).

A scholastic maxim says that truth emerges sooner from error
than from confusion. One is often reminded of this truth in
thinking of certain theological tenets and the source they spring
from. As an example of the confusion which has been introduced
into men's minds by misapprehension and mistranslation of those
terms we may instance such phrases as "world without end"
(+Eph.3:21) and "end of the world" (+Matt.13:39), which convey
conceptions that are conflicting and mutually exclusive. The
contradiction is obtrusive. One text explicitly affirms what the
other categorically denies. One is made to declare that the world
has no "end," while the other insists on its having an "end," so
that one Scripture is arrayed against another.

Needless to say, flagrant and self-evident contradictions
like the above which have found an entrance in our versions do not
exist in the originals. Translators did not seem to appreciate or
grasp the fact that fidelity and consistency could only be
attained by employing a separate English word for every Hebrew,
Chaldee or Greek word. The oversight of this foundation principle
of translation is responsible for many prevailing erroneous ideas.
For example, the English "world" has been made to do the service
of two distinct Greek words--{aion} and {kosmos}--which convey divergent, though
related, ideas. Had these terms been represented by two English
equivalents many a theological dogma would have never seen the
light, many a heart-rending controversy would never have raged,
and many so-called "mistakes and discrepancies" would never have
given occasion to the caviller and scorner to point the finger of
ridicule against the Bible.

Though Scripture often speaks of "the end of the {aion}"
(+Matt.13:39,40,49; 24:3; 28:20), it never speaks of "the end of
the {kosmos}." And yet is it not a fact--a mournful, deplorable
fact--that the unbiblical phrase "the end of the world" has
brought forth and nourished systems of eschatology which have
wrought havoc among Christians? Moreover, "world without end" is
the selfsame expression which the Translators themselves have
rendered "for ever and ever" in every other instance.

These and many other similar forms of expression in the Bible
have been used with a purpose. And one cannot but regret that the
august bodies which have given us the current translations should
have displayed such looseness and inconsistency in rendering them;
for surely the words selected by the Spirit of Truth must have a
design, even where readers and translators lack the light to
apprehend it.

Deferring to a future occasion the more striking occurrences
of {aionios}, let us turn our attention to the phrase.


We will first give a classified list of every occurrence of
"for ever and ever" or" unto the ages" in the New Testament.

p33 The Ages

It appears in the following connections:

(1) "Dominion"--
1 Peter 4:11; 5:11.
Rev.1:6; 5:13; 11:15; 22:5.
(2) "Glory"--
1 Tim.1:17.
2 Tim.4:18.
1 Peter 4:11.
Rev.1:6; 5:13; 7:12.
(3) "Life"--
Rev.4:9,10; 10:6; 15:7.
(4) "Various adjuncts"--
(5) "Torments"--
Rev.14:11; 19:3; 20:10.

The Scriptures where "unto the ages of the ages" is
predicated of dominion, with the solitary exception of +Rev.22:5,
relate to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In discussing the
{aulam va-ed} texts it was pointed out that the quotation of
+Psa.45:6 in Heb.1:8 in conjunction with +1 Cor.15:24 proves that
the Kingdom of the Son which is "for ever and ever" or "unto the
ages of the ages" terminates when the Son delivers up the Kingdom
to the Father. Another Scripture tells us when His Kingdom begins.
With the sounding of the seventh trumpet great voices in heaven

"The kingdom of the world is become the kingdom of our Lord
and of his Christ and he shall reign forever and ever" (+Rev.11:15).

The kingdom of the world is now broken into a thousand
independent states. But when the apocalyptic visions become
history the rule centered in the hands of earthly rulers will be
transferred to God's Christ.

Since Adam fell Jehovah has revealed and asserted His right
to rule, and man has ignored or opposed it. When God's Son came
offering the Kingdom to Israel, they defiantly shouted, "We will
not that this man reign over us" (+Luke 19:14)! "We have no king
but Caesar" (+John 19:15)! The King retired to heaven whence He
came. He is invisible at present. But in his own times God shall
show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings,
and Lord of lords, (+1 Tim.6:15). When the rejected Saviour is
manifested in power and glory, all the nations come and worship
before Him, acknowledging Him as King of the Ages (+Rev.15:3,4

+Rev.11:15 and 1 Cor.15:24 give us the time boundaries of the
Kingdom of the Son. Between the Descent from heaven and the
Abdication intervenes the "for ever and ever" of Christ's
mediatorial reign.

The temporary character of rule has been already noticed in a
preceding paper. Its display and exercise is limited to the ages.
Once the ages reach their destined conclusion the sceptre gives
place to the Father's guiding hand. In perfect harmony with the
transitory and finite character of rule is the title "King of the
ages." (+1 Tim.1:17; Rev.15:3), which tells us that "Kingship" is
coextensive with the ages.
A. E. Knoch


Brother Mark said...


My life is in Thy favor.
My joy is in Thy smile.
To Thee of Christ I savor,
Though in myself so vile.

I'm free from Sin's dominion.
No laws can me enthrall.
Thy Spirit's law, life-giving
Has freed me from them all.

O God, His God and Father,
My God and Father, Thou
I boast in Thee and bless Thee
As now my heart I bow.

Thy Son, by human hatred
Was crucified, reviled,
And Thou didst turn against Him!
Yet thus we're reconciled!

With blessings we would bless Thee!
With praises we would praise.
For Him Who died and liveth
For us, to endless days.

Rachel DiPaolo said...

Another great post. Thanks for shedding light on this topic.