EON AS INDEFINITE DURATION
THE CONCORDANT VERSION has been adversely criticized in many particulars. Most, having
misunderstood its principles (having failed as well to grasp the importance of its
principles), have been unable to recognize the Versions actual high degree of
accuracy and faithfulness to the Word of God. By far the Concordant Versions
greatest perceived errors, however, in the eyes of nearly all its orthodox critics, are
its renderings eon, eons, and eonian, instead of
[for] ever, everlasting, and eternal.
commonly claim that all scholars worthy of the name recognize that the original Hebrew and
Greek words in question, when used in reference to punishment or judgment, signify endless
duration. Evidence from various scholarly works is given which shows that their
authors findings indeed have beenand at least in part on philological
groundsthat the Scripture reveals the punishment of the lost to be both endless in
duration and horrific in nature.
Accordingly, it is
claimed that the true gospel is the message which affirms that, by meeting certain
required conditions, one may at once, and for all eternity, qualify himself for exemption
from hell and inclusion in heaven. It is added, however, (1) that salvation is to be
gained now (i.e., in this life) or never; and (2) that any who fail to obey and meet its
requirements, will surely spend eternity in hellfire.
Many would even add
the further claim that those who continue to disbelieve (or, some will say, even those who
continue to doubt) what the Bible says concerning eternal punishment, will,
for that very reason, be subjected to eternal punishment. It is claimed that such unbelief
is inexcusable, and would never be countenanced by any truly regenerate person,
inasmuch as the Bible is so plain concerning this subject. The reasoning is
that any who deny eternal punishment, only do so becauseany appearances to the
contrary notwithstandingthey have not truly accepted Christ as their Saviour.
Why, if they truly had done so, they would not deny eternal burnings!
Even by those who
may not affirm these latter most extreme claims as well, it is nearly always insisted
that, in any case, besides those who are unquestionably unbelievers, any who would stoop
so low as to deny eternal punishment, are either apostate Christians, unconverted
liberals, or non-Christian cultists.
The idea is that no
one who is truly consecrated and enlightened, would think of doubting the claims of
orthodoxy, since, we are told, these very claims are so manifestly correct. And, the idea
is very much as well that anyone who would dare to make known his repudiation of
the teaching of eternal punishment, cannot expect to find acceptance much less popularity
among his orthodox brethren.
At some point along
the way, those who have obtained, or are considering obtaining, a copy of the Concordant
Version, often learn that its translators, together with its publisher, the Concordant
Publishing Concern, believe and teach, not eternal punishment, but universal
reconciliation! Yet most who become aware that this is so, have been taught (or soon are
taught) that all such translators and teachers are at least dreadful apostates, if not
more likely unregenerate cultists. This puts the Concordant Version at a great
disadvantage in the eyes of those who thus are prejudiced against it.
ordinary believer who had previously welcomed the Concordant Version due to its seeming
excellence, now finds himself being constrained to be full of suspicions concerning it,
even as to seriously doubt its worth. Under the delusion of the twin fallacies of Guilt by
Association and Poisoning the Well, not to mention the baneful influence of orthodox
authoritarianism and intimidation, even the sincere believer is often led to set aside the
Concordant Version, with little or no further consideration.
Few, in the
confusion of their own minds, are able to judge the Version on its own merits, let the
beliefs of its translators and the teachings of its publisher be what they will. Yet when
it is insisted by those of high position and renown that the CV renderings eon
and eonian were made by unscholarly and unbelieving men for the express
purpose of promoting the awful heresy of universalism, fewer still remain capable of any
further objective consideration of the facts.
the fact remains that the Hebrew olam (even as its Greek equivalent, aiõn)
only says, duration, not endless duration. It is derived from alam,
which means hidden, or more precisely, obscured.1 Common to all its
occurrences is the idea of duration (or on-goingness), together with inherent
inspecificity (i.e., intrinsic obscurity) as to the duration at hand.
appears in Scripture, it says nothing as to the specific length of the
duration with which any certain passage may be concerned. Indeed, as is acknowledged by
all scholars, in a great many of its occurrences, it is impossible for this word even to
refer to (much less speak of) any notion of endlessness, but only of limited time.2
Olam does not
denote any particular duration; the scope of time which any certain usage of olam
may entail, is not conveyed by the word itself.3 Therefore, to say that olam should
sometimes be translated even by age, not to mention by
everlasting or eternal, is to say that olam should
sometimes not be translated at all, but should instead be interpreted and its
interpretations represented as translations, within a certain version of the
Such a notion,
however, is quite mistaken; for a translator is not to tell us what he thinks is in view,
or otherwise involved, but simply what is said. If, in faithfulness to his task of
conveying Gods Word to us, a translator cannot always speak as smoothly as we might
wish, or even as clearly as he might desire, we would gladly bear with him. It is vital
that he only tell us what God has said, not what he supposes Gods sense to have
been. If a translator should persist in presenting us with his own opinions about
Gods Word instead of Gods own Word itself, and if, more seriously still, he
should represent to us what is merely the former as if it were the latter, we must reject
his renderings, deeming them to be at least incompetent and erroneous translations.
The truth is, then,
that rather than the Concordant Version having been gotten up in order to
teach universalism, and only presenting a false interpretation
instead of a true translation as to the duration of the punishment of the
lost, the Concordant Version does not present an interpretation at all, whether false or
true, or even a translation, but simply a transliteration, in anglicized form. Its various
eon and eonian expressions, considered as they are intended, as non-interpretative
equivalents of the Original, should simply be understood as signifying
[intrinsically unspecified] duration, or that which pertains thereunto. Rather
than the Concordant Version being guilty of interpreting instead of objectively
translating the Scripture on this august theme, the fact is that it is perhaps the only
modern version that is not guilty of this charge.
EONIAN BURDEN OF GLORY
is often claimed that in 2 Corinthians 4:18, eonian (aiõnion)
must mean eternal because it is set in contrast to the word
temporal, meaning pertaining to time as opposed to eternity. The Greek word,
however, translated temporal in the AV (proskaira) has no connection
with the word for time (chronos); in English form, the Greek is
literally TOWARD-SEASON, and means temporary or
for [only] a part of a season.
need not be antithetical in meaning. Our Lord deemed it sufficient contrast to compare temporary
(i.e., a part of a season) with a single seasonless than a year (Matt.13:21).
Yet here, in 2 Corinthians 4:18, while the contrast is far greater, it does not
follow that it is therefore infinite. The contrast is between our afflictions, which last,
so to say, but for a brief partial season, and our promised, long-enduring
eonian glory which lasts throughout the oncoming eons, until the
consummation, when God is All in all. The eonian life and glory which is our
special portion (cp 1 Tim.4:10b; 2 Tim.2:10,11), no more debars the
endless life and glory in which we shall participate as well (cp Luke 1:33b;
1 Thess.4:17b; 1 Cor.15:28), than youthful happiness precludes the happiness of
maturity. Hence, in considering the eonian punishment of Matthew 25:46,
none who are wise will make the claim that since we will be immortal, therefore the eonian
life of which this passage speaks is to be understood as life eternal, and, in
turn, the eonian punishment which this passage entails is to be judged to be
Even if it should be
conceded that eon signifies duration and never signifies
everlasting, and even that it is always used, in itself, to refer to
terminable periods, some might still claim that it, nonetheless, in certain instances
concerned with judgment, is used to refer to an infinite series of eons (the
terminable periods themselves) of which the interminable future will consist. This
ingenious claim seems to be the argument of the ancient Eastern church. It is important to
note that this is a disputation concerning interpretation between early Greek-speaking
believers, not an argument among scholars as to essential word meaning or translation.
While some of the
early Greek believers held to eventual universal reconciliation, they also believed
in eonian punishment. Certainly, those Greeks who believed in universal
reconciliation did not claim that aiõn or aiõnion meant everlasting or
eternal. Indeed, in affirming the doctrine of endless punishment, even the
Byzantine Emperor Justinian did not contend that such ones had misunderstood the meaning
of eonian hitherto. Instead, he simply claimed orthodoxys divine investiture for
deciding truth in matters of interpretation (similar to the papal
infallibility of Rome). His point was that since they (the so-called
holy church of Christ) taught the ateleutêtos (i.e., unconsummating [a
non-scriptural word]) punishment of the wicked, therefore such a doctrine was true.
Evidently, thus it was claimed that a never-consummating series of eons lay ahead
for the lost during which their frightful torments would never cease.4
Justinian (540 A.D.), 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 aiõnion
punishment, for that was just what the universalist, Origen himself taught. Nor does
he say, The word aiõnion 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 [ateleutêtos] aiõnios life to the
righteous, and endless (ateleutêtos) punishment to the wicked. Aiõnios
was not enough in his judgment to denote endless duration, and he employed ateleutêtos.
This demonstrates that even as late as A.D. 540, aiõnios
spoke of limited duration, and required an added word to [convey the thought] of endless
THE GRACE OF GOD IN TRUTH
scholars today, in presenting their interpretations of kolasin aiõnion in Matthew
25:46 (eonian chastening, CV), will say words to the effect: We must
remember that most men die in unbelief; and, following the day of judging, will enter the
second death. Therefore, on hermeneutical if not philological grounds, we must conclude
that kolasin aiõnion must here be understood as tantamount to, if not expressive
of, an endless series of eons, each one comprised of unspeakable torments.
We would respond to
such claims by saying that, first of all, any such assertions are wholly undiscerning as
to the theme in view in Matthew 25:31-46.6
But even apart from this, in any case, no such conclusion follows from the two premises
stated above, assertions with which, in themselves, we wholly concur, apart from their
misuse in such a faulty syllogism. And, we would add that any claims, lingering in the
background of such premises, to the effect that today is the only day of salvation or that
death will never be abolished, are false claims.
ultimately speaking, is a gracious gift, not a reward. It is achieved in the grace of God
through the work of Christ. Monotheism is true; dualism is false. Monergism is true;
synergism is false. Sola gratia. Soli Deo gloria.
God wills all
mankind to be saved and to come into a realization of the truth (1 Tim.2:4). He is
operating all in accord with the counsel of His will (Eph.1:11). All His counsel shall be
confirmed, and all His desire He will do (Isa.46:10). Christ is giving Himself a
correspondent Ransom for all (1 Tim.2:6). If One died for the sake of all,
consequently all died (2 Cor.5:14). One who dies has been justified from Sin
God made Christ to
be a sin offering (2 Cor.5:21). Sending His own Son in the likeness of sins
flesh and concerning sin, God condemned sin in the flesh (Rom.8:3). Christ died for our
sins (1 Cor.15:3); hence our sins have been died for. Christ is the propitiatory
shelter concerned with our sins, yet not concerned with ours only, but concerned with the
whole world also (1 John 2:2). Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners
(1 Tim.1:15). For the repudiation of sin through His sacrifice, was He manifested
(Heb.9:26). Lo! The Lamb of God Which is taking away the sin of the world (John 1:29). All
is out of, through, and for God, to Him be the glory (Rom.11:36)!
Salvation is not
ultimately granted in reciprocity, or according to libertarian free will, but in the grace
of God. Faith and good works are the fruit of our salvation, not a requirement for our
salvation. Even, under law, where faith and good works are immediately conditionally
enjoined, they are ultimately graciously granted (cf Rom.11:1-6). Since salvation
is a gracious provision and is designed for all, it will therefore be
granted to all. Hence, endless punishment is simply impossible. Consequently, any claims
to the effect that eon sometimes refers to the eons of the endless future
during which punishment will never cease, are utterly false.
LIVING FOR THE EONS OF THE EONS
related theme is that of Gods living for the eons of the eons
(Rev.4:9,10; 10:6; 15:7; the AV rendering liveth, i.e.,
lives, is misleading). It is only because this emphatic expression is
unfamiliar to us that it seems awkward or difficult. The sense is that the One Who is
living today, will then, in the oncoming eons, make it known that He is the living
God. He Who is living today (but not only today), will especially be
living as well tomorrow (but not only tomorrow), in the scriptural
morrow of the oncoming eons. Even as His living today by no means precludes
His living tomorrow, neither will His glorious manifestation in the eons ahead as the living
God, bar Him from life beyond the consummation.
The fact that He Who
is living during this current era will also be living for (actually,
into, eis) the eons of time ahead, constitutes a further word of
assurance concerning His providential care during these future long eras of time.
It is to be
regretted that the hazy English for can be misused in connection with the
eons. The literal rendering into, in such cases, however, would unduly strain
English idiom. Opposers imprudently couple for with their own gratuitous
inference only (for) in order to disprove the usage of aiõn
as eon, in the sense of a period of time. This is done in order to make the
meaning eon appear to be obviously mistaken with regard to the revelation that
God is living eis tous aiõnas tõn aiõnõn (for the eons of the eons,
CV). Yet this declaration is hardly presented as a mere informative disclosure as to the
scope of the Deitys longevity, but as a glorious unfolding concerning a particular
time during which God will be living (God, Who is living for the
eons of the eons, CV), and so vitally operating accordingly.
Whenever we read the
expression for the eons, we should always keep in mind the actual
literal idea of into. That is, God will be living on, into these
coming eras of time, in order that He should be living within or during
those time periods as well, even as He is living within or during these present
hectic times, when we need Him so much.
We believe that
Gods life will never end, not because of any passages in reference to Him which
include the word eon, but because it is written that His years shall not
come to end (Psa.102:27). Furthermore, since God is the Source of all life, and
since, at the consummation, all will be gloriously made alive so that He may become All in
each one, it is evident that He must ever have life Himself in order to impart it to His
As the Lord
declared, Seeing that I am living, you also will be living (John 14:19). In
light of the fearful nature of the terrible judgments in the Revelation, one might infer
that all hope is lost. But this is not the case. For the living God, Who is living today,
will be living on into the coming eons! The fact that He is said to be living,
at any time, is not declared in order merely to inform us that He still exists, but is a
vigorous figure of speech (metonymy, i.e., association) designed to testify to His great
power and subjectorship. He lives! He is the living God, and so is great and marvelous,
strong to save, and able to do superexcessively above all that we are requesting or
THE EONIAN GOD
let us consider the phrase the eonian [aiõnion] God, found in Romans
16:26. The eonian God, speaks of the God of the eons, even as the French
language speaks of the language of France. He Who is the King of the eons
(Rev.15:3), is the eonian King. Similarly, as the supreme God of the eons, He is the
eonian God. Even as God is the God of Israel, He is also the God of all the earth. And,
even as He is the eonian God, He is also the God of all duration, whether past or
future. The titles the God of Israel and the eonian
God, do not confine the Deity to these relations; instead, such titles simply speak
of such relations, drawing our attention to them accordingly.
The notion of
lastingness is neither expressed nor entailed in the Greek adjectival ending. Aiõnion
(or aiõnios) no more means eon or ever-lasting, than ouranion
(heavenly) means heaven-lasting.7 Hence the rendering, as in the Authorized Version,
[ever]lasting, is quite wrong.
The thought, then,
is not at all that God merely exists (much less, only exists) for some certain duration.
Instead, what is expressed by the words the eonian God, is that God is
the of the [epochal] duration God. In this usage, the epochal duration
in view accords with a secret [which is] hushed in times eonian, yet [which
is] manifested now (nun, i.e., from now on; Rom.16:25).
This usage of eonian obviously has in view the entire duration
(eon) comprising all the previous epochal durations (eons) of
Scripture, namely, the entire duration from Genesis 1:1 until the time of Pauls
God is of the
entire grand duration from the beginning to the consummation not in some lame sense that
He merely manages to stay alive during this period, but in the sense that He is its
God! He is the Almighty, the Supreme, the All-Sufficient One. Yahweh Elohim is the God
Who, through the course of the eons, becomes the Saviour of all mankind (1 Tim.4:10).
Through Christ, He is placing and subjecting all, according as He is intending. Thus the eonian
God is the eonian God. That is, through the eonian times (Titus 1:2b), God, the
King of the eons (1 Tim.1:17), Who makes the eons (Heb.1:2), achieves His purpose of
the eons, which He makes in Christ Jesus our Lord (Eph.3:11). In consummating His purpose,
God will abolish death, and will finally become All in all (1 Cor.15:26,28).
It is this evangel
itself, that finally settles the question of the duration of eonian judging and death.
Through our acceptance of the evangel, we gain the realization that all eonian adversity
and suffering is temporary adversity and suffering. To those of us who have been given
this awareness, in spirit, the consummations of the eons have attained
(1 Cor.10:11) even today.
Now may the
God of expectation be filling you with all joy and peace in believing, for you to
be superabounding in expectation, in the power of holy spirit (Rom.15:13).
1. e.g., Job 42:3: Who is this who obscures counsel
without knowledge? Psalm 90:8: You have set our depravities in front of You,
our obscured deeds in the full light of Your face. Ecclesiastes 12:14:
For the One, Elohim, shall bring every deed into judgment concerning all that is obscured,
whether good or whether evil.
2. e.g., Lev.6:18; 24:8; Psa.48:8; 77:5; 143:3; Prov.22:28;
1 Chron.22:10; Ecc.1:4; Jer.5:22; Ezek.37:26.
3. In commenting on aiõnios, the Greek adjectival equivalent
of the Hebrew olam, The Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament states,
Without pronouncing any opinion on the special meaning which theologians
have found for this word, we must note that outside the NT, in the vernacular as in
the classical Greek (see Grimm- Thayer), it never loses the sense of perpetuus . . . . the
spirit of [which is illustrated in] Job 19:24 [With iron pen and lead, that they
should be hewn in rock for the future!] . . . . In
general, the word depicts that of which the horizon is not in view, whether the
horizon be at an infinite distance . . . or whether it lies no farther
than the span of Caesars life (James Hope Moulton and George Milligan; London:
Hodder and Stoughton, Limited, 1949, p.16).
4. cf Alexander Thomson, Unsearchable Riches, vol.26,
5. John Wesley Hanson, Aiõn-Aiõnios, p.74; Chicago:
Northwestern Universalist Publishing House, 1875, p.74.
6. For an extended treatment of this and related texts, see the
studies, The Judgment of the Nations, and Eonian Fire and Judging,
Unsearchable Riches, vol.84, pp.29-40, 71-82. See also the related U.R.
writings, The Living God and the Eons (vol.79, pp.171-180); For the
Repudiation of Sin Through His Sacrifice (re., Heb.9:26; vol.82, pp.17-22); and,
The Consummations of the Eons (re., 1 Cor.10:11b; vol.82, pp.269-280).
7. Accordingly, the expression the eonian God no more
means the eon or ever-lasting God, than the American President means
the America-lasting President, or even the yearly report means the
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