always the decisive thing in determining the meanings of
words often change meaning, sometimes even taking on an opposite
There will be a couple
of places in this publication where a long list of references are
cited which may be dull reading to some of you. But due to the
importance of clearly understanding the meaning of these words, I
ask that you bear with me in those two or three places. I want the
reader to be absolutely certain that what I am presently in this
book has been thoroughly researched.
give the meaning of a word as it is used at the time the dictionary
is written. Over time, words often change meaning, sometimes even
taking on an opposite one. The word "let" in the 20th century
usually means "to allow." But in King James' England, the word
"let" often meant just the opposite-"to restrain." The word
"suffer," had the meaning "let" in the 16th century. This meaning
has been removed from the modern use of the word. As word meanings
change, so will the definitions found in the dictionaries of that
time period. "Carriage" was cargo four hundred years ago-today it
describes the vehicle which carries the "carriage." At one time, a
"gazette" was a low value coin which could purchase a newspaper.
Today, the meaning of "a certain coin" has disappeared. A
dictionary, unless it contains the etymology of the word, is
usually of little to no help in determining the meaning of a word
hundreds of years ago. Lexicons, concordances, and etymology books
are needed to ascertain the true meaning of a word within a given
culture and period of time.
Listed below are the
definitions modern dictionaries give to the first set of words we
want to look at. Keep in mind ... what they mean today and what
they meant two thousand years ago, are two different
Olam, aion, and aonion are defined in
dictionaries, lexicons, commentaries, and the like, as follows:
(Here is one of those long listed I
- Page and Company's
Business Man's Dictionary and Guide to English: Eon: A long
space of time; cycle; forever; eternally; always; at all
World Dictionary: Eon: Period of immense duration; an age;
endless; for eternity.
- Webster's Collegiate Dictionary: Eon (n.): An
immeasurable or indefinite period of time; incessantly; synonym of
constantly, continuously, always, perpetually, unceasingly,
- Standard Unabridged Dictionary: Eon: An age of the
universe; an incalculable period, constituting one of the longest
conceivable divisions of time; a cosmic or geological cycle; an
eternity, or eternity. The present age, or eon, is time; the future
age, or eon, is eternity.
- Shedd Theological Dictionary (vol. II, p. 683): Eonian:
pertaining to, or lasting for eons; everlasting;
- Liddell and Scott's
Greek-English Lexicon: Aion: A period of existence; one's
lifetime; life; an age; a generation; a long space of time; an age.
A space of time clearly defined and marked out; an era, epoch, age,
period or dispensation.
- Thesaurus Dictionary of the English Language: Eon: An
age of the universe.
- Earnest Weekly's Etymological Dictionary of Modern
English: Aeon: Age.
- Universal Dictionary: Aeon: A period of immense
duration; an age.
- Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon: Aionios: (1) without
beginning or end; that which has been and always will be. (2)
without beginning. (3) without end, never to cease,
- Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Bible: Eternity: The
Bible hardly speaks of eternity in a philosophical sense of
infinite duration without beginning or end. The Hebrew word
olam, which is used alone (Ps. 61:8) or with various
prepositions (Ge. 3:22; 13:15, etc.) in contexts where it is
traditionally translated "forever," means, in itself, no more than
"for an indefinitely long period." Thus, me-olam does not
mean "from eternity," but "of old" (Ge 6:4, etc.). In the N.T.,
aion is used as the equivalent of
New Testament in Modern Speech, by Dr. R. F. Weymouth: Eternal:
Greek: "aeonion," i.e., "of the ages." Etymologically this
adjective, like others similarly formed, does not signify "during,"
but "belonging to" the aeons or ages.
Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible (vol. IV, p. 643): Time:
The O.T. and the N.T are not acquainted with the conception of
eternity as timelessness. The O.T. has not developed a special term
for "eternity." The word aion originally meant "vital
force," "life;" then "age," "lifetime." It is, however, also used
generally of a (limited or unlimited) long space of time. The use
of the word aion is determined very much by the O.T. and the
LXX. Aion means "long distant uninterrupted time" in the
past (Luke 1:10), as well as in the future (John
Commentary on the Whole Bible (Matt. 25:46): Everlasting
punishment-life eternal. The two adjectives represent the same
Greek word, aionios-it must be admitted (1) that the Greek
word which is rendered "eternal" does not, in itself, involve
endlessness, but rather, duration, whether through an age or
succession of ages, and that it is therefore applied in the N.T. to
periods of time that have had both a beginning and ending (Rom.
16:25), where the Greek is "from aeonian times;" our version giving
"since the world began." (Comp. 2 Tim. 1:9; Tit. 1:3) -strictly
speaking, therefore, the word, as such, apart from its association
with any qualifying substantive, implies a vast undefined duration,
rather than one in the full sense of the word "infinite."
- Triglot Dictionary of Representative Words in Hebrew, Greek
and English [this dictionary lists the words in this order:
English, Greek, Hebrew] (p. 122): Eternal (see age-lasting). (p.
6): English: age-lasting; Greek, aionios; Hebrew,
Greek-English Lexicon, by Arndt and Gingrich: (1) Aion:
time; age; very long time; eternity. (2) A segment of time; age.
(3) The world. (4) The aion as a person: aionios,
eternal. 1. Without beginning. 2. Without beginning or end. 3.
- Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament, by
Abbott-Smith: Aion: A space of time, as a lifetime,
generation, period of history, an indefinitely long period-an age,
Dictionary of the New Testament (vol. I, p. 542, art.
Christ and the Gospels): Eternity. There is no word either
in the O.T. Hebrew or in the N.T. Greek to express the abstract
idea of eternity. (vol. III, p. 369): Eternal,
everlasting-nonetheless "eternal" is misleading, inasmuch as it has
come in the English to connote the idea of "endlessly existing,"
and thus to be practically a synonym for "everlasting." But this is
not an adequate rendering of aionios which varies in meaning
with the variations of the noun aion from which it comes.
(p. 370): The chronois aioniois moreover, are not to be
thought of as stretching backward everlastingly, as it is proved by
the pro chronon aionion of 2 Tim. 1:9; Tit. 1:2.