FEEDBACK: WHAT IS “FOREVER” FOR THE UNSAVED? #2
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Thank you for your response. May God give us wisdom and understanding to see truth.
The key to how I understand this difficult topic is that I always keep in mind that aion (noun: an age) and aionios (adjective: of the age) do not inherently mean forever or eternal. In themselves they mean duration, ages or eons. So, if they are in front of “God” or “God’s kingdom” they will mean eternal. Why? Because God told us elsewhere in the Bible that He and His kingdom are of endless duration. (Luke 1:33; 1Co 15: 53&54 and Heb 7:16)
Likewise, if they are used in reference to this present age “world” [and God used aion 38 times referring to this age], they will mean temporal. Why? Because God told us elsewhere in the Bible that He will burn this universe with fire.
It was God who made these distinctions, not man. So after knowing this, we no longer have the liberty to say that aion and aionios should mean the same thing everywhere in the Bible. This is no different than the argument we make in connection with these verses:
1Co 15:22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
2Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
So when my eyes read “forever and ever”, it becomes in my head “unto ages of ages” or “unto eons of eons”. That is because I now know that the expression “forever and ever” is an incorrect translation and was partly responsible for clouding our understanding of the nature of God’s judgment.
In Greek, it is [εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων]. I was surprised to learn that there is no ‘and’ in the phrase at all. The word τῶν (ton) means ‘of’ as in “King of King and Lord of Lords” in 1 Tim 6:15 among other places [βασιλεὺς τῶν βασιλευόντων καὶ κύριος τῶν κυριευόντων]. Notice that Kai means ‘and’. There is no Kai in forever and ever. There is ‘ton’
I hope you know sufficient Greek grammar to help explain things I don’t understand. I don’t know Greek at all and it is frustrating. For example, I don’t know the significance of this:
Eph 3: 21 [τοῦ αἰῶνος τῶν αἰώνων] Singular/plural
Heb 1: 8 [τὸν αἰῶνα τοῦ αἰῶνος] Singular/ singular
Rev 20:10 [τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων] Plural/plural
I must admit that I don’t know the significance of doubling aion either. Is it for emphasis? (Gen 41: 32), or does it mean “unto an age determined, out many ages”? I don’t know.
May God give us deeper understanding,
BELOW IS OUR RESPONSE TO THE ABOVE EMAIL
Thank you for the reply.
God tells us in 2 Peter 1:20:
Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
God is telling us that He provides the interpretation of words and phrases in the Bible.
In 1 Corinthians 2:13 God tells us how He provides the interpretation of what a verse means. We are to compare Scripture with Scripture to understand what God is teaching. God defines words and phrases by how He uses them in the Bible.
We are not free to say that a certain word or phrase means this or that in a given verse. God defines words and phrases by how He uses them in the Bible. God locks in the meaning of words and phrases by how He uses them in the Bible.
You have the correct phrase: eiv touv aiwnav twn aiwnwn
God has used this specific phrase of 5 Greek words with the same 22 letters 20 times in the Bible. It is a very specific phrase.
It is true that the Greek word “aion” or “aiwn” can refer to this present world or age. In that sense it can be translated as “age”.
However, when speaking of this world or this age, this Greek word is only used in the singular and is never doubled up.
On the other hand, God has created this 5 word Greek phrase that could be literally translated into English like this “into the ages of the ages”.
In this phrase, the Greek word “aion” is doubled-up and used in the plural twice. These are two important facts that never apply to how the word “aion” is used to speak of this world or this age.
The phrase “into the ages of the ages” is totally different than how God uses the Greek word “aion” to speak of this world.
There is “this age”. But, what is “into the ages of the ages”?
God defines what this means by how He uses it in the Bible.
This 5 word Greek phrase is only used in very specific ways in the Bible. God uses it 18 other times and only uses it in 3 very specific ways:
1. How long God lives.
2. How long God receives praise, glory, honor, etc.
3. How long believers and God reign.
Beside Revelation 19:3 and 20:10, the above 3 ways are the only ways that God uses this 5 word Greek phrase.
All of the 3 cases above must be forevermore. They cannot ever end.
God will live forevermore without any doubt. It is not possible that praise, glory and honor, etc. to God will ever end. The believers and God will reign forevermore without end.
Thus, God has defined this 5 word Greek phrase as truly forevermore. God has very carefully used this phrase only in ways that can only mean forevermore.
If we say that it is possible that this phrase can speak of something that can come to an end, then we are saying that it is possible that God will not live forevermore, or that God will not receive praise, glory, honor, etc. forevermore or that God and the believers will not reign forevermore. But, none of these three statements are possible.
This is an application of 2 Peter 1:20 and 1 Corinthians 2:13 in which God defines what He means by words and phrases by how He uses them in the Bible.
The Greek word "aion" by itself does not mean forevermore. Your study shows that. But, God has defined this 5 word Greek phrase as always meaning forevermore.
The rule of 1 Corinthians 2:13 will not allow us to say "but, over here it means a finite amount of time".
If we break the rule of 1 Corinthians 2:13, then we can get the Bible to say almost anything we want. But, God will not allow that. He sets the rule for Bible study.
So, Revelation 19:3 says the smoke of the unsaved must ascend up as long as God lives, as long as God receives praise, glory and honor, etc., and as long as the believers and God reign.
The same is true for how long the unsaved will be "tormented (or consciously afflicted) day and night".
The Bible will not allow us to say that the duration of Revelation 19:3 & 20:10 can be anything other than forevermore.
This material is examined in more detail in the study at this link:
The fact that this world and universe will be destroyed by fire in no way teaches that the torment (or conscious affliction) of the unsaved will end.
The burning up of this universe described in 2 Peter 3:10-12 cannot be the lake of fire.
In 2 Peter 3:10 & 12 we read that "elements shall melt with fervent heat".
Anyone cast into a physical fire that can melt the elements will go unconscious in a few seconds or minutes.
The Bible says that the unsaved in the lake of fire will be "tormented (or consciously afflicted) day and night".
Those cast into a physical fire will go unconscious in a few seconds or minutes. You cannot be "tormented day and night" in a physical fire like that described in 2 Peter 3:10-12.
So, the lake of fire is not the fire that destroys this universe as described in 2 Peter 3:10-12.
Therefore, the fact that this universe is destroyed in no way limits the duration of the tormenting (or conscious affliction) of the unsaved. The lake of fire is something totally different than the fire of 2 Peter 3:10-12.
This material is developed more in the studies at these links:
There is nothing in the Bible that says that the events of Revelation 19:3 and 20:10 cannot go on forevermore. To show this, there are more than 20 studies posted on the response page at:
Each argument given for annihilation has been examined.
By using the same 5 word Greek phrase in these 2 verses, God is teaching that the duration of the events in Revelation 19:3 and 20:10 will be forevermore.
You made reference to 1 Corinthians 15:22 and the word "all". The word "all" in the Bible means "all" of something.
In 1 Corinthians 15:22 the word "all" means "all". In one case, it is the "all in Christ" and in another, it is the "all in Adam".
The same statement is true for 2 Peter 3:9. That is "all of the elect".
That is how God has defined the word "all" in the Bible.
In like manner, God has defined this 5 word Greek phrase as always meaning forevermore.
We can translate a Greek phrase anyway that we want, like "unto ages of ages" or "unto eons of eons".
But the important point is that God defines words and phrases by how He uses them in the Bible, and God has carefully defined this 5 word Greek phrase as forevermore without leaving any room for doubt.
Regarding why God doubles "aion", you are on the right track, that God is tying into Genesis 41:32. God is doubling so that we know that what He is saying is certain.
The words "ton" and "twn" and similar words have the word "the" in them. They mean "of the". The first is singular, the second is plural.
Regarding the mixture of singular and plural in verses like Hebrews 1:8 and Ephesians 3:21, at least God is telling us in different ways that He and His Kingdom are truly forevermore. No matter how we look at it, God and His Kingdom are forevermore.