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THE MEANING OF THE GREEK

WORD “AIONIOS” THAT MOST


PEOPLE IGNORE!

By Mario A Olcese

AIONIOS and AION

We all have read in the Bible on the “eternal punishment”, “eternal salvation”,
“eternal life”, “eternal fire”, “eternal gospel”, “eternal Redemption” “eternal
kingdom” and so forth. However, they are few those that know the true
meaning of the Greek word Aionios (eternal) that repeatedly appear in the
New Testament.

In 1855 theologian Charles Kingsley wrote about the significance of the word
AION (Age, Era) and he said that NEVER in the Scriptures this word is used to
mean eternity or endless time. He said that Aion means in the Scriptures, and
out of it, a PERIOD OF TIME...Aionios (aion's adjective), that is, belonging to a
determined age, or to the coming age. That way, aionios kolasis (appear as eternal
punishment in our versions, Matthew 25:46) is the punishment corresponding to
an epoch, era, or age. Kingsley said that it is a mistake to translate the sentence
as “eternal punishment” in Matthew 25:46. In other words, the adjective aionios
must extract all his significance of the noun AION of which comes. The word is
used in connection with The Jewish doctrine of the two epochs or ages in the
NT. That way, “everlasting life” is eternal life in the coming era or age, or
Christ’s millenarian era. The Bible, let's remember, speaks about the “ages to
come” as well as the “past ages”. The Bible recognizes the Patriarchal Age, The
Mosaical Age or Era, and in the future, the Messiah's coming age or era. The
fact that Paul talk about God's purpose for the ages is not surprise. Aionios
(eternal) refers to the great age to come and God's great purpose for that age
(Luke 20:35). The era or age to come is the age of the manifestation of God's
kingdom in the earth (Matthew 5:5; Rev. 5:10).

PLATO’S INFLUENCE

In 1877 Cannon Farrar, another theologian and biblical scholar, maintained that
“there is no form to translate aionios as eternal”. However, the public continues

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reading in their Bibles that God is going to lead the impious in the “eternal
punishment” (Mat. 25:46) or to the “eternal fire”, insinuating an eternal torture
of the impenitent souls. In this way, when opening the way to a bad translation
of the word aionios it has been allowed to give Christ's words a Platonic tint.
Let's not forget that Plato was the one who introduced the idea of the migration
of the immortal souls from the body to another existential realm. In this way,
instead that the phrase “eternal punishment” takes the meaning of punishment
in the coming era, or age to come, the Platonists translators of the Bible have
expressed that punishment as “eternal (endless) punishment”, which would
suppose the human survival of the soul, and this, due to the influence of the
Greek philosophy in the Christian thought. For Plato, Aion applies the world of
the eternal ideas, and it is this pagan idea that has filtered into our versions.

Writers and biblical thinkers with a Platonic mentality, translates Aionios in the
transcendent sense of endless or eternal time as Plato used to make it. This
pagan meaning invaded the Christian vision of what belongs to the coming era
towards a false focus of eternity.

THE USE OF THE WORD AIONIOS ACCORDING TO THE SCHOLARS

In the LXX's Version (The OT's Greek Version) aionios occur over 160 times.
One of those is Daniel 12:2, where aionios describes the resurrection to life of
those that, after the tribulation, emerge of their “dream of death” from the dust
of the earth. Here zoe modifies aionios ( ‘zoh ee’, life ) and it is this famous
sentence that was very frequently in Jesus' lips and appear 40 times in the NT
along with another endorsed sentences by Jesus from Daniel.

The British theologian, Sir Anthony Buzzard, former professor at Atlanta Bible
College, affirm that: “The phrase ‘Eternal life’ that appears in our Bibles reflects the
translator’s Platonic influence, and of Christianity in general. The true meaning of the
phrase is: “Life in the coming age” or “life of the coming era”. And life in the coming
age is synonymous with life in the future God's kingdom in the earth. This is Daniel’s
12:2 true meaning relating to everlasting life. The life of the coming era is
equivalent to immortality, and one will completely experiment it when God's
kingdom will be inaugurated in the second coming of Christ to this world.

In Daniel ‘aionios’ refers to the kingdom that will be established in the


parousia. Daniel 7:14 tell us of the “sovereignty of the coming age”. We read in
Daniel 7:27 of the kingdom of the coming age. In Dan. 9:24 of “the justice of the ages
to come” introduced at the end of the seventy sevens. In Daniel 12:2 says that in
that kingdom the resuscitated saints will get “the life of the coming age”.

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Again Sir Anthony Buzzard says that ‘Aionios’ reveals to us that we are going
to enjoy a life without end at God's Kingdom, which belongs to the coming age.
Also Buzzard adds the following: “Aionios is the word that describes those precious
facts of the future of the Christian. Those wonderful events correlated with Christ's
future coming. The Holy Spirit makes us taste the powers of the coming era (the future
aion) Heb.6:5. The things described as aionios are things that belong to the coming era
of God's Kingdom. The gospel of the kingdom is correctly called the gospel on the
coming age (Rev. 14:6), mistakenly called “eternal gospel.”

Nigel Turner, famous author of Christian Words and of Moulton, Milligan and
Turner's Grammar of The Greek New Testament, says: “Christians do not suppose
that the gospel lasts forever. Rather it is the gospel relating to the age of the kingdom”
(Rev. 14:6) (Christian Words, p. 456).

Now let's apply to the word ‘aionios’ the correct meanings in the book to
Hebrews. In Hebrews 5:9 “eternal salvation” is in reality ‘salvation that belongs
to the coming age’. In 6:2 “Eternal judgment” is in reality: ‘Judgment in the coming
age’ In 9:2 “eternal redemption” is ‘redemption in the coming age’. In 9:15, “eternal
inheritance” is in fact ‘inheritance in the coming age’.

Finally, aionios, when it is appropriately translated, the monstrous idea that


God will torture the human beings for eternity will discard. The punishment
that God will apply to the impenitent is an aionian fire” (Matt. 25:41). That is, it
will be a punishment of the coming era, not an actual “eternal punishment”.
This has nothing to do with the lasting of the time, but with the Age or coming
age.

The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges establishes than: “The adjective
(eternal) does not mean aionios ad infinitum as such (Matthew, pág.196).

The Greek NT's famous scholar, the late Nigel Turner, Ph.D, says: “It would be
imprecise to translate aionios as eternal. This means: belonging to the coming age or
dispensation” (Christians Words, T and T Clark, 1980, pp. 452.455.456 ).

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