Part 1 of 2: Eon: A Limited Duration

Posted By Thomas Perez. February 9, 2011 at 8:17am. Copyright 2011.

Introduction

A person once wrote about the eternal torment of hell and the lake of fire. He stated that, “The theology of the Calvinist Christian relies on God alone, not “free will” at all. It is summed up by the word TULIP: Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistible grace, and the Perseverance of the elect. The God that Calvinistic eternal tormentors profess to love says to his fallen creatures, “I have created most of you for the purpose of torturing you forever. However, I am going to choose a few of you undeserving ones to go to heaven where you will be happy forever.” John Calvin said there will be infants in hell because they were not among the elect.”

Meanwhile the theology of the Christian Freewill advocates (as in the Freewill of Man) has declared that salvation is based upon our Freewill to accept or reject. However, this limits God’s Omnipotence to a level of binding His desires to that which will receive an ultimate outcome. The outcome is declared to be the final destiny of an individual. It de-emphasizes God’s sovereignty. By putting God in a position of dependence on the decisions of a created being, this view makes it appear that God is not in control of His universe. Also, it acknowledges the doctrine of total depravity, thereby requiring others (like Wesley) to come up with prevenient grace, which has no basis in Scripture. For more on these views please see my other studies ‘Major Evangelical Views on Salvation: A Brief Overview’ and ‘Freewill vs Determinism-The Sovereignty of God.’

However, even though the two views often clash, it must be understood that the two ideologies insist on the literal, and not on an interpretive translated means of understanding the current issue at hand. Lets clarify the meaning of the word “literal,” as in the literal translation of the Bible. Literal means, according to the letter, primitive; real; not figurative or metaphorical; as, the literal meaning of a phrase. Also following the letter or exact words; not free; a literal translation. The word literal has a broad sense attached to it. A literal sense of Scripture is that which the words signify in their natural and proper acceptance, as in, John 10:30, “I and the Father are one.” This passage unequivocally asserts the Deity of Jesus Christ, and His equality with the Fathers. This is the literal translation of this verse.

The following are a few of them:

The literal sense of Scripture is also termed as the grammatical sense; the term grammatical having the same reference to the Greek language as the term literal to the Latin, both referring to the elements of a word. Words may also be taken properly and physically, as in, John 1:6, “There was a man whose name was John;” This is called the proper literal sense.

When words are taken metaphorically and figuratively, meaning they are diverted to a meaning which they do not naturally mean, but which they nevertheless intend under some figure or form of speech, as when the properties of one person or thing are attributed to another, this is termed the topical or figurative sense.

Example, When hardness is applied to stone, the expression is used literally, in its proper and natural importance. When the term stone is applied to the heart, it is used figuratively, or in an improper acceptance. Yet the sense, allowing for the change of subject, is virtually the same, its application being only transferred from a physical to a moral quality. We can find an example of it in…

Ezek.36:26 reads, “A new heart also will I give you, – and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.” This is where a heart of stone denotes a hardening in feelings, in heart, regardless of God’s warning. While the heart of flesh signifies a tender heart, susceptible to God’s mercy.

There is one more area of literal interpretation I would like to cover. It is the literal historical sense. The literal historical sense is the meaning of words and phrases used by a writer at a certain period of time in history, as in the ancient books of the Hebrew Old Testament (O.T.) and its counterpart Greek Septuagint version of the O.T. One word in particular stands out with reference to the afterlife, resurrection and new age; and that word is “Eternal.”

What does the term “Eternal, or “aion” and “aionios” mean? Do they mean endless or unlimited, or not? People often claim, “I could not Love a God who would let anyone suffer forever. They also wonder what this God would do to a person for not being able to love Him. Even though they are trusting Him for their salvation in what Jesus accomplished by His death and resurrection, through the power in the blood of His cross, some people are still unable to love a God who would let anyone suffer forever.” However, people need to understand the meaning of key phrases and terms.

Allow me to explain. Certain words in Scripture have caused a division in God’s church. This rift is caused by a few who chose to translate certain words according to their limited knowledge in the languages, or just blatant deception (as in the paganism of such beliefs). Small cracks have developed into great chasms of division. These divisions have isolated many, and the great danger is the loss of eternal life (by that I mean the doctrinal position of such).

So The Question Is…

Does “Forever,” Mean Forever, Without End, or Does It Mean Something Temporal?

In order to resolve this difference of opinion we must turn to the scholars of Lexicons and Dictionaries.

Who are the people behind these works?

Lexicography is the science of words, that branch of learning which teaches and applies the proper signification and just application of words. A lexicon is a dictionary; a vocabulary, or book containing an alphabetical arrangement of the words in a language, with the definition of each, or an explanation of its meaning.

There are linguist who are skilled in the languages. This term is usually applied to a person well versed in the languages. They are acknowledged as teaches of Languages. Great Linguist have taught in the universities of the world.

To define a word, or the definition of a word, is to give an explanation of the signification of a word or term, or to give the idea of what a word is understood to express.

To translate means to interpret from one language into another language, words, phrases, etc. It is to also express the sense of one language in the words of another. The Hebrew O.T. was translated into the Greek language more than two hundred years before Christ. Since then, both the Old and the N.T. have been translated into most every language of the world.

A full and scientific Dictionary and Lexicon of any language, embraces a wide field of research. The serious scholars who pursue the study of languages, both critically and philologically, will not rest until they have traced each word to its origin, investigating each words primitive form and signification.

These lexicons and dictionaries establish the various forms and senses of words and phrases in which they have been used. Their study includes the way words have been used throughout different periods of history, the particular people with their dialects, and the manner and order in which all these are deduced from the original root usage. This step is very important in getting at the truth of a words meaning.

For the most part, this step is left out today, because of personal biases or a lack of effort.

Last but not least, these Lexicographers observe the relationship to which the words and phrases stand to other words, both in construction, phrases, and the various modifications which it has undergone in these respects. When the above points are properly made certain and arranged in the minds of linguist, then, and only then are the words mastered. Then the transcript of their view and documentation, is published.

This is justly termed the historological method of Lexicography. This has grown out of the general progress of the study of ancient literature and of relevant fields. It is linguistics, both historical, logical, and comparative.

1. Historical: This in the sense that a word, phrase, or passage which is deduced from the circumstances of time, place, and under which it was written, its primary sense, as opposed to any secondary or even more remote sense.

2. Logical: Logic is the science of correct reasoning, implying correct thinking and legitimate inferences from premises, which are principles assumed or admitted to be correct. Logic includes the art of thinking, as well as the art of reasoning.

3. Comparative: It is to estimate by comparison. Example, your body may be considered heavy when compared to a feather, but light when compared to a truck. To compare is to set or bring things together in fact, or in contemplation, and to examine the relations they bear to each other, with a view to ascertain their agreement or disagreement. God’s word is truth, is light, is life, is the way.

The above proceed upon the supposition that a language is in itself ancient and independent of every other language. Its words may therefore be traced to their ultimate roots within itself. This is true in both the Greek and Hebrew languages. Languages go through stages. There is the Golden age, this is the historical base, pure and in its prime. Then because of wars, conquest, the breaking up of countries, the merging of conquered armies, the founding of new colonies, the developing of cities, cities occupied by people from every part of the world, produce changes in the original language of a community and/or country.

For example, the language of the N.T. is the later Greek language. This later form of Greek was spoken by Jews mainly. The Greek tongue that these Jews spoke, was applied by them to subjects on which it had never been applied by native Greek writers.

So what was the character of this idiom spoken? It was Jewish terms, words used in their religion and culture. An idiom meaning, the language of a peculiar group of people. Christianity had its’ own idioms.

Therefore, the meaning of particular Greek words used by the religious Hebrews, was understood only by those who practiced that particular religion. The same holds true for Christians. A new understanding of words used by Greek writers, taken from old law, culture, and procedure. It was needed, and it had to be taken from the language spoken at that period of time, that tongue – (language) being Greek.

The writers of the N.T. except for Paul, and Luke, were not well educated. Like the rest of the general population, they knew the Greek language only from the intercourse of common everyday life, and not from a higher education. Now that is not to say that their words are less inspired than others (for God did indeed inspire and breathed the whole Scriptures into existence) yet, He used what was at His disposal during that time within the instruments chosen to reveal His Word.

Yet, within these writers, the Hebrew element of that language was mingled within their idiom, and would naturally have great prominence. The difference lies in the turn of the thought, or in the thought itself, rather than in the expression. Even where a verse is modeled after the Hebrew, it is seen more in the construction and connection of words in phrases and sentences, than as affecting the true meaning.

Have you ever listened to a foreigner try to speak our language. Many times their words take on a different form, and their construction of a sentence can hardly be understood.

The writers of the N.T. never had applied the Greek language to subjects on which it had ever been used by native Greek writers. No Greek writer, had ever written on Jewish affairs, or on Jewish theology and ritual.

Therefore the writers of the N.T. were to be the instruments of making known a new revelation, this revelation being a new dispensation of mercy to mankind. A new circle of ideas and new doctrines were to be developed.

Human languages were not yet prepared for this new doctrine of salvation by grace. This poverty of language was to be done away with, by enlarging the signification and application of words already in use, rather than by the formation of new ones.

The N.T. was written by Jews, aiming to express Hebrew thoughts, conceptions, feelings, in the Greek tongue (Language). Their idiom, consequently, in soul and spirit is Hebrew; but in its external form it was written in Greek. A Greek Lexicon of the N.T. is only a small portion of the Greek language as a whole.

When a good lexicon is used with the works of historians like Philo and Josephus, they containing a treasure of illustrations in respect to the facts and antiquities of the N.T. they can be of tremendous value to those that are studying. A well researched lexicon will make clear the meaning of a word, showing its authority and standing in the Greek language. It serves to show in what relation each word stands to the Septuagint and Jewish writings.

No language can contain its own truth predicate. A predicate is something that is either affirmed or denied of the subject in a proposition, or expression in logic. Why? Because if it did, then it would allow the formation of sentences such as;

“This sentence is false.” Clearly this statement is true if and only if, the sentence is false, which is an intolerable paradox. A paradox being a statement that seems to contradict common sense and yet is perhaps true.

Because Christianity has its many spiritual identifying marks, and many of its terms were unknown, the thoughts that projected Christianity, needed new terms rooted in an old language. Its’ roots are buried in the Hebrew culture, religious practices, and its language.

Let Us Now Look At Those Terms

From the early times of Church history, the words aio~n and aio~nios (“eon” and “eonian” in the Concordant Version) have been the subject of much controversy. This is because the question of their meaning is central to the issue of “eternal punishment.”

Many holding our essential position will say that aio~n means “age,” not “[for] ever.” While this is a step in the right direction and in a loose sense is even correct, it is problematic, and leaves some legitimate room for objection. For example, were we to use “age-” as our basis for representing aio~nios, it would depend on what we have in mind by “age” whether we should say “age-pertaining,” or “age-lasting.” In any case, uniform translation would be impossible and interpretation would be unavoidable. This is because some usages of aio~n are for only a portion of one of the scriptural, epochal eons. Yet it is true that aio~n itself is often used in reference to the entire duration of whatever “age” may be in view in any certain context. ” Age-pertaining,” besides being awkward, assumes that the notion of “time-periodness” is inherent to aio~n, which is incorrect; “age-lasting,” adds the further problem of affirming that that which is eonian, always obtains for the entirety of an eon, which is also incorrect.

It is best to use or at least conceive the word “duration” instead of “age” (or even “eon”) when we are considering these things, even if, in translation, “duration” would be too awkward. It is true that for most readers, the English “eon” confines the idea signified to a period of time. Yet even those who differ with us in our teaching, even from their own perspective, can make no legitimate objection to the rendering “eon,” itself, since more comprehensive dictionaries include among their definitions for this word not only the idea of a period of time, but of “everlastingness” as well.

“Eon” seems to be the only practical and objective word to use in translation. However, to be objective when considering this word in Scripture, with a view toward establishing its essential meaning, one must conceive of it non-interpretatively, simply as an anglicized transliteration of aio~n, similar to “baptize” for baptizo~. Yet, after determining its meaning, in considering further its varied usages, one must also recognize that it is no more true that this word exclusively refers to the epochal eons of Scripture, than that it sometimes speaks of the notion of boundless eternity. Nonetheless, we have found that nearly all of the usages of aio~n in the Greek Scriptures do refer to the epochal eons of history (i.e., the “eonian times,” 2 Tim.1:9; see the Keyword Concordance entries “eon” and “eonian”). Only a few New Testament aio~n texts concern some other briefer period (e.g., not washing feet [John 13:8], or not eating meat [1 Cor.8:13], “for the eon”).

Lexicography, the Classics and the Septuagint

Scriptural usage alone is authoritative. Yet since many will appeal to lexicography (inasmuch as many lexicographers claim that olam, together with aio~n and aio~nios, “sometimes” means “everlasting” or “eternal”), we would only point out that lexicographers differ in their opinions; and, even where they concur, this is no proof that they are correct. The words of the apostle Paul ever remain good advice, “let no one be boasting in men” (1 Cor.3:21).

“Now lexicography must always be consulted, especially on disputed words, cum grano salis. A theologian, in his definition, is quite certain to shade technical words with his own belief, and lean one way or the other, according to his own predilections. Unconsciously and necessarily, the lexicographer who has a bias in favor of any doctrine will tincture his definitions with his own idiosyncrasies. Very few have sat judicially, and given meanings to words with reference to their exact usage; so that one must examine dictionaries concerning any words whose meaning is disputed, with the same care that should be used in reference to any subject on which men differ.”

In our consideration of lexicography, we should note that the primary usage of aio~n, both in early and later Greek, is that of the duration of one’s life. “The oldest lexicographer, Hesychius (c. 400-600 A.D.), defines aio~n thus: `The life of man, the time of life.’ At this early date, no theologian had yet imported into the word the meaning of endless duration. It retained only the sense it had in the Classics, and in the Bible…John of Damascus (c. 750 A.D.) says, `The life of every man is called [his] aio~n…The whole duration or life of this world is called aio~n…The life after the resurrection is called the aio~n to come’…

“But in the sixteenth century, Phavorinus was compelled to notice an addition, which subsequently to the time of the famous Council of 544 had been grafted onto the word. He says: `Aio~n, time, also [by association] life, also habit, or way of life. Aio~n is also the eternal and the endless as it seems to the theologian.’ Theologians had succeeded in using the word in the sense of endless, and Phavorinus was forced to recognize their usage of it. His phraseology shows conclusively enough that he attributed to theologians the authorship of that use of the word. (John Wesley Hanson, Aio-n-Aio-nios, p.12; Chicago: Northwestern Universalist Publishing House, 1875).

Alluding to this definition, Ezra S. Goodwin, one of the ripest scholars and profoundest critics, says, `Here I strongly suspect is the true secret brought to light of the origin of the sense of eternity in aio~n. The theologian first thought he perceived it, or else he placed it there. The theologian keeps it there, now….Hence it is that those lexicographers who assign eternity as one of the meanings of aio~n uniformly appeal for proofs to either theological Hebrew or Rabbinical Greek, or some species of Greek subsequent to the age of the Seventy [i.e., the Septuagint, the ancient Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures], if not subsequent to the age of the apostles, so far as I can ascertain.’ The second definition by Phavorinus is extracted literally from the `Etymologicon Magnum’ of the ninth or tenth century. This gives us the usage from the fourth to the sixteenth century, and show us that, if the word meant endless at the time of Christ, it must have changed from limited duration in the Classics, to unlimited duration, and then back again, at the dates above specified! [Yet] from the sixteenth century onward, the word has been defined as used to denote all lengths of time from brief to endless.”(Christian Examiner, vol.10, p.47; Boston: Gray & Bowen).

In considering the usage of aio~n in the Greek Classics (the literature with which the authors of the Septuagint were familiar), Hanson says further concerning Goodwin, that, earlier in the nineteenth century, he “patiently and candidly traced this word through the Classics, finding the noun frequently in nearly all the writers, but not meeting the adjective until Plato, its [apparent] inventor, used it. [Goodwin] states, as the result of his protracted and exhaustive examination from the beginning down to Plato, `We have the whole evidence of seven Greek writers, extending through about six centuries, down to the age of Plato, who make use of aio~n, in common with other words; and no one of them ever employs it in the sense of eternity.’ When the Old Testament was translated from the Hebrew into Greek by the Seventy, the word aio~n had been in common use for many centuries.

“It is preposterous to say that the Seventy would render the Hebrew olam by the Greek aio~n and give to the latter (1) a different meaning from that of the former, or (2) a different meaning from aio~n in the current Greek literature. It is self-evident, then, that aio~n in the Old Testament means exactly what olam means, and also what aio~n means in the Greek Classics. Indefinite duration is the sense of olam, and it is equally clear that aio~n has a similar signification…I do not know of an instance in which any lexicographer has produced the usage of ancient classical Greek in evidence that aio~n means eternity. Ancient classical Greek rejects it altogether’ (by `ancient’ he means the Greek existing anterior to the days of the Seventy).

“Thus it appears that when the Seventy began their work of giving the world a version of the Old Testament that should convey the sense of the Hebrew Bible, they must have used aio~n in the sense in which it was then used. Endless duration is not the meaning the word had in Greek literature at that time. Therefore the word cannot have that meaning in Old Testament Greek. Nothing can be plainer than that Greek literature at the time the Old Testament was rendered into the Greek Septuagint did not give to aio~n the meaning of endless duration.”

The Hebrew Scriptures

An objective consideration of the facts of Scripture shows that the essence of olam (and therefore of aio~n as well, its equivalent, whether in the Septuagint or in the New Testament) is simply duration. As Vladimir Gelesnoff wrote, “The Hebrew olam is derived from a primitive root meaning to veil from sight, to conceal. A conspectus of the passages proves that olam expresses duration, the whole time during which a person, thing, or state, exists…It may, therefore, be rendered [correctly as to interpretative sense if not to essential meaning] by any term expressing the duration required.

“Mankind began with Adam. As at present constituted, it will have an end. Hence, if olam is used of persons, it expresses their whole life, or life-time; if a succession of generations, or the state of a people, mankind, or creation, then a period of time, an extended period of time, commensurate with the specific application (e.g., Prov.22:28; Gen.6:4; Psa.77:5, 143:3; Joshua 24:2)…”The Hebrew servant whose ear was bored became a bondman `for ever,’ that is, for life (Ex.21:6)…’For ever’ in 1 Chronicles 22:10 covers the forty years of Solomon’s reign; in 1 Kings 8:13 and 9:3, it is the time when the temple was in existence…Further passages such as Ecclesiastes 1:4 and Psalm 78:69 which speak of the earth abiding `for ever,’ when compared with passages such as Matthew 5:18, 2 Peter 3:7-10, Revelation 21:1, make evident that the `for ever’ of both the Psalmist and Ecclesiastes is coeval with the continuance of the present earth, from its making in Genesis 1:3-31 to its dissolution in Revelation 21:1…

“The crowning proof that the idea of endlessness is foreign to olam is afforded by the phrase `for ever and ever.’ The English reader may suppose the second `ever’ to be the same word as the first. But it is not. The Hebrew is va-ed. As the Septuagint translates it,`and still,’ and as the translators have so rendered it in scores of places, we will translate it `beyond’ or `further.’ Now, if olam meant endlessness as some say it does, why reinforce it by adding `beyond’? Nor is this all. Further study discloses that even olam va-ed (‘for ever and ever’) does not refer to infinitude. The Psalmist says: `I will keep Your law continually, forever [i.e., `for the eon and beyond’; CV, Psa.119:44].’ Now, as our Lord plainly indicates the passing away of the law (Matt.5:17,18), it follows that law observance is over once the law is done away. The terminal point of the Ages is hid from the ancient prophets. Beyond the era of Israel’s restoration they see dimly a farther stretch. But it is too distant to discern the faintest outline or catch a feeble glimmer of its glory. As a huge orb of light appears to a spectator myriads of miles away a mere tiny speck, remote futurity to the Hebrew seers is a far-off, vague, indistinct something which they style beyond. It was reserved for the apostle to the nations to observe the age of ages at close range and unveil its consummative glory in his own marvelous unfoldings.” (Unsearchable Riches, vol.2, pp.238,239,243,244).

“He shall reign for the eon and further” (Ex.15:18). The reign of God, in the Person of Christ, will continue not “for ever,” but until the consummation, when He gives up the kingdom to His God and Father (1 Cor.15:24). Similarly, the mercy of God is “for the eon and further” (Psa.52:8). The Scripture discloses a sinless past and anticipates a flawless future. Hence the provision of mercy “for the eon and further,” makes it coextensive with the existence of offense while circumscribing the time during which it will be needed.

The Hebrew olam va-ed, and its Greek equivalent “for the eons of the eons,” then, convey the idea of terminable, though chronologically indefinite and unrevealed duration. The idea of the nouns (olam, or aio~n) is always “[for the] duration” of that which is in view. The duration which is in view must always be judged from the context, or from the nature of things, otherwise known. Therefore, the adjectival idea is, ” of or pertaining to the duration (of that which is in view).” In some cases, especially in the Hebrew Scriptures, the duration which is in view (whether used of the past or future) is not at all referring to the epochal eons (i.e., those eons which, abiding for long periods, correspond to the system [or world] which, during any certain time, prevails on earth; e.g., Eph.2:2).

Often, the references are only to a much briefer duration, such as the length of time when a people lived in a certain region (Joshua 24:2); the brief duration of Jonah’s experience inside the great fish (Jonah 2:6); or the duration of the remainder of a slave’s lifetime in which he would serve his master (Deut.15:17). Yet no such usages or any others affect the meaning of olam itself; they only show that it is used in reference to many diverse durations.

There does not seem to be anything in the word itself that would definitively preclude at least the possibility that it could be used in reference to an unending duration (since, after all, all the word says is “duration”). Nonetheless, as Brother Gelesnoff’s article points out, when olam is used epoch ally (i.e., of long-continuing duration), its references are still governed by the words “and further,” even as by the subjects to which both these phrases (“for the olam” and, “and further”) refer, namely, the millennial kingdom, and the new earth which follows it.

The primary epochal usage of olam, points to the Messianic kingdom, which, as we later learn, is of one thousand years’ duration (or more, depending on your interpretation of this). Yet when the words “and further” are added, we are brought to the period of which Isaiah prophesies (Isa.66:22), the period which Peter confirms (2 Peter 3:13) and John sees in vision (Rev.21, 22), the epochal new heavens and new earth. We know that the apostle John’s vision is, indeed, of an epochal period, not of endless duration. We know this simply because while John, in Revelation 21 and 22, speaks of the reign of Christ, of saints, and of kings of the earth, while affirming the presence of the second death, Paul, in 1 Corinthians 15, speaks of Christ reigning until He gives up the reign (the kingdom); indeed, of the time when all sovereignty and authority is nullified (which therefore includes that of both the saints and the kings of the earth), and even of the time when death itself is abolished, the glorious day when all will finally have that life of which Christ is the Firstfruit, all unto the end that God may be All in all (1 Cor.15:28). Just as surely as the abolition of slavery entails freedom for those formerly enslaved, the abolition of death entails life for those formerly dead.

Indeed, no sane and unprejudiced mind will claim otherwise. A sane and unprejudiced mind, however, is the gift of God. All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are concealed in Him (Col.2:3). We cannot enlighten others, though God may enlighten others through us. If most cannot accept our testimony, we can only assure ourselves that we are simply believing what the Scriptures actually say.

Confusion Concerning Word Meanings

The fact is that God will one day abolish death and become All in all (1 Cor.15:26,28). Such a glorious consideration itself precludes any legitimate claim that these words in question, olam and aio~n, may sometimes refer to an unending duration of punishment.

Yet nothing is more common than for theologians and professors to rehearse a variety of passages in which these words in question appear, which, to the popular mind (including that of most scholars), indeed, seem to refer to endlessness. Then the claim is made that olam (or aio~n) “has a wide range of meaning,” which is to say a plurality of meanings, including the idea of endlessness, whether in reference to the past or future. Scholars are correct when they stress that meaning must be determined by context; yet they err when, failing to distinguish special usage from essential meaning, they claim that word meaning may well be plural and is to be deter – mined by “the context,” or, more accurately, by the presuppositions which they bring to the context. Since ordinary believers have no idea what the truth may be about such things, they simply accept the scholars’ word. Yet if the scholars are either bound by tradition, or simply do not think fully logically on these questions, they will be confident that they are correct, and will dismiss our views merely as the suppositions of “heretics.”

Yet it is according to the presuppositions of most that truth is determined, presuppositions which make it seem correct that these time words sometimes refer to endlessness (hence the confused claim that they sometimes “mean” everlasting or eternal).

On the other hand, if we can show that olam and aio~n never mean “endless,” we ourselves need to realize that it does not follow from this that it is simply impossible for these words ever to refer to the endless past or future. Yet even so, neither does it follow that even if there is nothing that intrinsically precludes these words themselves from being used to make such a reference, that they are ever, in fact, so used.

Indeed we are far from suggesting that they are ever so used. Any exegesis in favor of such a claim is but the reflection of a failure to recognize that the notion of “eternity past” is not a scriptural theme, and that, with reference to the future, the Scriptures do not use these expressions of any time extending beyond that of the period of John’s vision of the new earth (Mmmm, a preterist interpretation?). Such false claims concerning olam and aio~n as well are but the fruit of the foundational error of everlasting punishment, of a failure to see that, in soteriology (the doctrine of salvation), while the Arminians are correct as to the compass of those for whom Christ died (namely, all mankind), just as surely, the Calvinists are correct as to the gracious nature of the evangel, how it is that the sacrifice of Christ effects salvation for all for whom it was designed?

Perhaps you’ve just read the answer.

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