In any discussion of the duration
of the lake of fire, it inevitably boils down to the meaning of the
Greek word aionios and the Hebrew word olam. The
words literally mean age or age-abiding, but they are often
translated eternal or everlasting in the modern English
translations. And so, this normally becomes the central
The judgments of God are
aionios (and olam) in duration. This Greek term has
been misunderstood for about 1,500 years, but the early Church in
Asia, Greece, and Egypt understood it to mean pertaining to an eon.
It is the adjective form of the Greek word eon, that is, an
AGE. In spite of this, many English translations continue to
translate the word to mean eternal or everlasting, because of their
Strong's Concordance says this
about the Greek word aion:
aion: from the same as 104
[aei, continued duration']; prop. an age; by extens.
perpetuity (also past); by impl. the world; spec. (Jewish) a
Messianic period (present or future).
In other words, according to
Strong's Concordance, aion properly means an age, but he
says that by extension it means perpetuity. Thus, he says that it
can mean either a limited period of time or an unlimited
period of time. But to make it an unlimited period of time
requires extending its basic, usual meaning, which is
He also shows that in Jewish
usage of the term, The Age referred to the Messianic Agethat is,
the age in which the Messiah would rule the earth. This particular
application, we will discuss shortly.
Dr. Bullinger, in his Appendix
129 to The Companion Bible, says:
aion = an age, or
age-time, the duration of which is indefinite, and may be limited
or extended as the context of each occurrence may demand.
The root meaning of aion
is expressed by the Heb. olam . . . which denotes
indefinite, unknown or concealed duration; just as we speak of the
patriarchal age', or the golden age', etc. Hence, it has come to
denote any given period of time, characterized by a special form of
Divine administration or dispensation.
In the plural we have the Heb.
olamim and Gr. aiones used of ages, or of a
succession of age-times, and of an abiding from age to age. From
this comes the adjective aionios . . . used of an
unrestricted duration, as distinct from a particular or limited
age-time. These age-times must be distinct or they could not be
added to, or multiplied, as in the expression aions of
These ages or age-times were all
prepared and arranged by God (see Heb. 1:2; 11:3); and there is a
constant distinction in the New Testament between this age' and the
coming age' (see Matt. 12:32; Heb. 1:2; Eph. 1:21).
Thus, Dr. Bullinger agrees with
Strong that the basic meaning of aion is an age that lasts
an indefinite period of time. In other words, some ages are longer
than others, but an age has both a beginning and an end.
The Interpreter's Dictionary
of the Bible, Vol. IV, p. 643, says under Time,
The OT and the NT are not acquainted with this
conception of eternity as timelessness. God, according to Rev. 1:4,
is the one who is and who was and who is to come'; and if in Rom.
16:26 (the only time in the NT) he is called the eternal
[aionios] God,' this does not mean that as a timeless God he
would have nothing to do with time, but rather that he is also Lord
of the greatest spans of time, which he uses in his revelation (vs.
On page 644 of the same article,
The OT has not developed a special term for
eternity' which one could contrast with temporality'.
On page 645 it says,
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. In many
cases it should then be translated by eternity.' To be sure,
naturally, one cannot assume a philosophical concept of eternity
Later on the same page, the
The use of the word aion is determined
very much by the OT and the LXX [Septuagint]. Aion means
long distant uninterrupted time' in the past (Luke 1:70), as well
as in the future (John 4:14). The adjective aionios,
eternal,' especially, serves for the actual statements of eternity
(2 Cor. 4:18; Heb. 9:12, 15), but nowhere is a clear distinction
made between limited and unlimited duration of time . The
intensifying plural occurs frequently in the NT, especially in the
doxologies (Rom. 1:25; 9:5; Heb. 13:8), but it adds no new
This should be sufficient to show
that it is by no means certain that the Hebrew word
olam (Old Testament) and the Greek word aionios (New
Testament) must be translated eternal or everlasting. This is
plainly stated in many theological dictionaries and other articles.
It is unfortunate that this fact is not transmitted to the average
Christian believeror even to the preachers and teachers, who seem
totally convinced that these words can mean nothing other than
But if olam and
aionios occasionally should be understood in terms of
unending time, these occasions are the exception to the general
rule. It may be that when aionios is used a few times in
reference to God that it could be understood in terms of unending
time, rather than to His sovereignty over those future ages. We
will let the scholars debate this issue. Some say it can mean only
a limited period of timeothers insist that it can mean either
limited or unlimited time.
It comes down to a matter of
controversy and disagreement between scholars. So who is to be
Let us, for the moment, concede
to the opposition. Let us agree with them that aionios can
mean either endlessness or a limited period of time. If that
were the case, then every passage which uses this term will be
interpreted according to the bias of the translator. All the
passages that deal with aionios judgment can mean either
endless judgment or age-abiding judgment, depending upon how we
wish to understand it.
If this were the case, then it
would be impossible to prove EITHER view by using the Biblical
passages that talk about aionios judgment. We must then rely
totally upon other Bible passages to prove either view. We
challenge anyone believing eternal judgment to prove their case
without using any verse talking about aionios judgment or
olam judgment. The fact is, THEY HAVE NO CASE, because
these verses form the entire basis of their doctrine. Their entire
case rests upon the assumption that aionios and olam
Many scholars do not believe that
there is a single passage where aionios MUST always mean
endlessness. However, we do recognize that there are passages where
the word seems to imply endlessness. For this reason, we are
willing to concede the point for the sake of argument. Conceding
thi s point in no way diminishes the force of our argument, because
the Bible teaches the Restoration of All Things from Genesis to
Revelation without relying upon the word
We can prove that God will save
all men by showing that the divine law mandates a Jubilee, which is
a limit to all judgment. We do not need to rely upon the word
We can prove that God will save
all men by the passages in the New Testament where Jesus came to
save not only us, but the whole world (1 John 2:2). We do not need
to rely upon the word aionios. We rely instead upon the
phrase the whole world.
We can show it by Paul's
writings, who said that all things (ta panta, the all) were
created by Christ and will be reconciled to him as well (Col.
1:16-20). In this, we rely upon the phrase, ta panta, which
is defined by the context as meaning the created universe.
We can show it again in Paul's
writings, when he said that as in Adam all die, even in Christ
will all be made alive (1 Cor. 15:22). Even as ALL die in Adam,
so will ALL be made alive in Christ. We do not need to use
aionios to prove this.
We can go to the last book of the
Bible, where John sees all of creation praising God in Rev.
13 And every
created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the
earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, To
Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor
and glory and dominion forever and ever [aionas ton
aionon, for the ages of the ages].
This passages uses the phrase
aionas ton aionon, but our argument does not rest upon that
phrase, but upon the earlier phrase, every created thing. In
these few passages there are many ways in which God's great
Restoration of creation is expressed and established. All we must
do is show that aionios does not have to mean endless time.
Once we have established that factas we have donethen it is
self-evident that aionios judgment cannot be used to
contradict our view.
The bottom line is this: all we
must do is show that aionios does not ALWAYS have to be
understood as endless time. If we can show that, then we have won
the debate, because if it can mean either limited or unlimited
time, then those who believe in eternal torment have lost their
trump card. But even our opposition concedes that there are MANY
passages where aionios cannot possibly mean
endlessness. In fact, that is why they must fall back upon the
position that aionios has a double meaning. They would
dearly love to make it endless all the time, but even they know
that this is impossible.
Thus, from a clear-headed
perspective, one can only conclude that God intends to bring all
creation back under His dominion and will lose nothing in the end.
The blood of Jesus to save His creation is more powerful than the
sin of Adam was in its fall. God will be the big Winner in the
endnot the Big Loser who has lost 99 percent of creation to the
wiles of the devil.
There are at least four modern
translations, however, which attempt to correct this
- Young's Literal Translation of the Holy
- Rotherham's The Emphasized Bible
- Wilson's The Emphatic Diaglott
- The Concordant Literal Translation
Young's Literal Translation was
done by Dr. Robert Young in 1898. He was also the author of the
Young's Analytical Concordance. Dr. Young says in his Concordance
that aion means age, age-lasting. For example, Matthew
13:39, when Jesus explained the meaning of His parable about the
wheat and the tares, He said, according to the King James
39 The enemy
that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the
world [Greek: aion, age]; and the reapers are the
The Greek word translated world
is not aion, but kosmos. So quite obviously, this is
not a good translation of the verse. Most modern translations have
made this correction, including the marginal references in the King
James. Dr. Young renders this verse,
39 and the
enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is a full end of
the age, and the reapers are messengers.
The Greek word aionios is
the adjective form of aion, pertaining to an age. Young's
Concordance says that it means age-lasting. In his Bible
translation, he consistently translates the Greek word
aionios into English even more literally as age-during to
show that it means the events occur during whatever age the author
was discussing. This is very literal and precise. Even so, another
Bible translator, Weymouth, on page 657 of The New Testament in
Modern Speech, quibbles with Dr. Young, saying,
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
I suppose we must allow scholars
to dispute the fine points of each word, for that is their
vocation. But regardless of who is correct, they both agree on the
essential fact that aionios does not mean eternal. Dr. Young
used this term age-during so that the reader would not be compelled
to believe that it meant eternal or everlasting. For example, in
Matthew 25:45, 46, we read,
shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say to you, Inasmuch as ye
did it not to one of these, the least, ye did it not to me.
46 And those shall go away to punishment
age-during, but the righteous to life
Rotherham's The Emphasized Bible,
is much like Young's Literal Translation. He renders verse
46 And these
shall go away into age-abiding correction, but the righteous
into age-abiding life.
Benjamin Wilson's Emphatic
Diaglott does not presume to render aionios everlasting, but
prefers to just transliterate it directly from the Greek. This
non-committal attitude allows men to interpret this word as they
wish. He renders verse 46:
46 And these
shall go forth to the aionian cutting-off; but
the righteous to aionian Life.
The Cambridge Bible
Commentary, by A. W. Argyle, has this to say about Matthew
46. eternal punishment, i.e., punishment
characteristic of the Age to come, not meaning that it lasts for
ever. eternal life, i.e., the life that belongs to the Age
to come, the full abundant life which is fellowship with God.
Argyle recognizes that the term
aionios refers to the Age to come rather than eternity as
such. In our next section we will have more to say about The Age,
that is, the Messianic Age. This is the key to understanding how
aion and aionios we re defined when the Bible was
writtenand for many years afterward.
Wilson's translation is prefaced
by the statement,
This Volume, principally designed for the
instruction and advantage of others, is now reverently committed to
the blessing of our Father in the heavens, with an earnest and
sincere desire that many of those who peruse its pages may be led
by the knowledge, faith and obedience inculcated therein to obtain
an inheritance in the aionian kingdom of Jesus the Anointed
Some will say that the Kingdom
has no end (Luke 1:33); thus, they will say, aionian must be
everlasting. The term aionian kingdom is used only once in
the Biblein 2 Peter 1:11, where the Apostle says (according to
Wilson himself in The Emphatic Diaglott),
Therefore, brethren, more earnestly endeavor to make your
calling and election sure; since by these things you will never
fall; 11 for thus richly will be furnished
to you the entrance into the aionian kingdom of our Lord and
Saviour Jesus Christ.
Peter, like most of the other New
Testament writers, exhorted the believers to make their calling and
election sure, that is, press on to being overcomers that will
inherit the first resurrection. These will inherit the
aionian kingdom, that is, they will receive their reward of
immortality at the beginning of that thousand-year reign of Christ.
Revelation 20:6 says that these will reign with him a thousand
years. This does not mean that the kingdom lasts only a
thousand years, nor even that their reign is limited to a thousand
years. But that phase of the kingdom is limited to a specific age;
hence it is aionian.
We will develop this concept a
bit further in our next section on The Messianic Age. Anyway,
Wilson's term, aionian, is much like that found in The
Concordant Literal New Testament, which renders verse 46,
46 And these
shall be coming away into chastening eonian, yet the
just into life eonian.
A second example useful for our
purposes is found in Matthew 18:8, which Young's Literal
8 And if thy
hand or thy foot doth cause thee to stumble, cut them off and cast
from thee; it is good for thee to enter into the life lame or
maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast to
the fire the age-during.
The Emphasized Bible says,
8 But if thy
hand or thy foot be causing thee to stumble, cut it off, and cast
it from thee; it is seemly for thee to enter into life maimed or
lame, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into the
Wilson's The Emphatic Diaglott
8 If, then,
thy hand or thy foot insnare thee, cut it off, and throw it away;
it is better for thee to enter Life crippled or lame, than having
two hands or two feet to be cast into the aionian
The Concordant Literal New
8 Now, if
your hand or your foot is snaring you, strike it off and cast it
from you. Is it ideal for you to be entering into life maimed or
lame, or, having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the fire
We see from these
examplesparticularly from Matthew 25:46that the Greek term
aionios is used to describe both the judgment of fire upon
the sinners and the life that is given to the believers.
In Matthew 19:29 Jesus spoke of
the reward of the righteous, which is zoen aionion. This is
usually translated life eternal or life everlasting. Dr. Young
renders the verse,
29 and every
one who left houses, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother,
or wife, or children, or fields, for my name's sake, an hundredfold
shall receive and life age-during shall inherit.
What is the meaning of life
age-during? Is it the same as immorality? Not exactly. Immortality
is a word describing the quality of life that we have after
death is abolished. Life that is age-during, describes the
age in which we shall have that immortality. That age is
specifically what the ancient rabbis called the Messianic Age, or
The Age. Since David wrote that a day was as a thousand years
(Psalm 90:4), the rabbis spoke about the seventh thousand-year
period as a great Sabbath-rest for the earth. They identified it
with the reign of the Messiah.
Revelation 20:1-6 treats the
reign of Christ in the same manner.
Irenaeus, one of the earliest of
the Christian fathers (120-203 A.D.) believed that a wicked man
called Antichrist would arise at the end of the present age. In
that context, he wrote in his book, Against Heresies,
and the number is six hundred and
sixty-six, that is, six times a hundred, six times ten, and six
units. [He gives this] as a summing up of the whole of that
apostasy which has taken place during six thousand years. (Book V,
For in as many days as this world
was made, in so many thousand years shall it be concluded. . . .
(Book V, xxviii, 3)
For the day of the Lord is as a
thousand years; it is evident, therefore, that they will come to an
end at the sixth thousand year. (Book V, xxviii, 3)
. . . bringing in for the
righteous the times of the kingdom, that is, the rest, the hallowed
seventh day. (Book V, xxx, 3)
According to Revelation 20, this
thousand-year reign of Christ begins with the first resurrection
and ends with the general resurrection of the rest of the dead.
This means that those who inherit the first resurrection will
receive immortality during The Age. But as we have seen in the
previous chapter and in other books, ONLY believers, but NOT ALL
believers will be raised in the first resurrection. Thus, only the
overcomers (the barley companysee The Barley Overcomers) will receive
life age-during. That is, only the overcomers will receive their
reward of life (immortality) at the beginning of The Age. Only the
overcomers will have life during that thousand-year Age.
The rest of the believers will
receive immortality afterward, and hence, strictly speaking, they
will not receive life age-during. This is because they will have to
receive their reward at the same time as the unbelievers receive
judgment, for both will be judged. The believers will be saved,
yet so as through fire, receiving either few stripes or many
stripes. The unbelievers will be cast into the lake of fire and
will serve their sentence until the great Jubilee sets all creation
This concept of the eons, or
ages, is obscured by translating zoen aionion as life
everlasting and kolasin aionion as everlasting punishment.
(Matthew 25:46). The fact is that neither is everlasting.
Certainly, immortality itself is life that never ends. But
age-during life points specifically to AN AGE when some believers
will enjoy the blessings of immortal life. And age-during judgment
points specifically to AN AGE of judgment for unbelievers.
Matthew 25:46 has been used since
the time of Augustine, the bishop of Hippo, in the early fifth
century to prove that aionian means an unending duration of
time. Though Augustine spoke eloquently in Latin, he did not speak
Greek. Thus, he was unfamiliar with the language of the New
Testament, except insofar as it had been translated into Latin.
Peter Brown tells us in his book, Augustine of Hippo, p.
Augustine's failure to learn Greek was a
momentous casualty of the late Roman educational system; he will
become the only Latin philosopher in antiquity to be virtually
ignorant of Greek.
Worse yet, the more influential
Augustine became, the less the Latin Christians felt the need to
read the New Testament in Greek. Peter Brown says again on p.
Gradually the learned fellowship' would cease to
feel the need for Greek books. For they had Augustine.
Perhaps this is a good
illustration of what Jesus said in Matthew 6:23,
23 . . . If
therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that
The Christians in the
Latin-speaking Church took Augustine's word for it that
aionios meant everlasting. This was their light, but
unfortunately, their light was darkness. And even today, most of
the popular translations have continued to mistranslate
aionios. So average Christians today who read the
easy-reading Bibles do not realize that what they think is light
(in regard to future rewards and judgments) is actually
In Book XXI, chapter xxiii, of
Augustine's City of God, he sets forth his argument that the
judgment upon the unbelievers would be unending torture in fire.
His argument is based upon the Latin translation of Matthew 25:46,
which we have already quoted earlier. Augustine interprets this
passage in this way:
For Christ said in the very same place,
including both in one and the same sentence: So these will go into
eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.' If both
are eternal, then surely both must be understood as long,' but
having an end, or else as everlasting' without an end. For they are
matched with each other. In one clause eternal punishment, in the
other eternal life. (To say) eternal life shall be without end,
(but) eternal punishment will have an end' is utterly absurd.
Hence, since eternal life of the saints will be without end,
eternal punishment also will surely have no end, for those whose
lot it is.
The primary problem is that
Augustine did not understand the Hebrew concept of The Age. He
presumed that aionios life was the same as immortality, instead of
seeing that it referred specifically to life (immortality) during
the Messianic Age. To inherit life during this Age means to be an
inheritor of the first resurrection promised to the overcomers
alone. The rest of humanity, and even the rest of the Christians,
will not receive their immortality until the end of the Messianic
Age at the Great White Throne. We showed this in Chapter Four,
quoting Jesus' words in John 5:28, 29, as well as His parable in
Luke 12:42-49. Augustine did not understand this concept.
Secondly, Augustine did not
properly understand the Greek word aionios, at least not in
the way that the Greek-speaking Church in Asia understood the term.
He was looking at it from the Roman mindset, using an old Latin
translation of the Scripture. The Latin translation at Augustine's
disposal used two different words for aionios:
seculum and aeternum. Alexander Thomson's book,
Whence Eternity? says on page 11,
Seculum meant a
generation, an age, the world, the times, the spirit of the times
and a period of a hundred years. That which is secular pertains to
the present world, especially to the world as not spiritual.
Long ago in Rome, periodic games
were held, which were called secular' games. Herodian, the
historian, writing in Greek about the end of the second or the
beginning of the third century, calls these eonian' games. In no
sense were the games eternal. Eonian did not mean eternal any more
than a seculum meant eternity.
Aeternitas, is where we get our English words eternal and
eternity. However, originally these had a double meaning, as we
find in a scholar's footnote in Augustine's City of God,
XXII, i, which says,
The words eternal' and eternity'
from Latin aeternus, aeternitas, are related to
aevum, which means BOTH unending time' and a period of
time;' for the second meaning the commoner word is
This footnote was inserted in
order to inform readers who did not realize that Augustine was
engaging in some deceptive rhetoric. Augustine failed to mention in
his book that aeternus also meant a limited period of
Aeternus was the Latin
near-equivalent of the Greek word aionios, not because it
meant unending time, but because it also meant a limited duration
of time. Aeternus did have a double meaning, but Augustine
applied the wrong meaning to aionios according to his own
personal bias. That is why we are given the footnote in the modern
publication of Augustine's City of God.
Yet in all fairness to Augustine,
at least one Church historian tells us that Augustine all but
abandoned this argument later in life. Dr. F.W. Farrar informs us
of this in his book, Mercy and Judgment, p. 378,
Since aion meant age,' aionios
means, properly, belonging to an age,' or age-long,' and anyone who
asserts that it must mean endless' defends a position which even
Augustine practically abandoned twelve centuries ago. Even if
aion always meant eternity,' which is not the case in
classic or Hellenistic Greekaionios could still mean only
belonging to eternity' and not lasting through it'.
As for Augustine's argument that
aionios in Matthew 25:46 must mean the same amount of time
for both the believers and the unbelievers, this is contradicted by
Dr. Alford Plumer in An Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel of
Matthew, pp. 351-352,
It is often pointed out that eternal'
(aionios) in eternal punishment' must have the same meaning
as in eternal life.' No doubt, but that does not give us the
right to say that eternal' in both cases means endless'.
We have already shown that the
Bible speaks of more than one age to come. Revelation 20 makes it
clear that there are at least two future ages that run
concurrently. The first is the Messianic Age that was commonly
believed to be the seventh millennium from creationthe Creation
Sabbath. After that age was the Judgment Age of unknown durationat
least no one in those days claimed to know.
It is my belief, as I said ear
lier, that the divine law implies a 49,000-year time of man's
history. If we are now about to enter into the first Sabbath
millennium, then the Judgment Age would have to continue for
another 42,000 years beyond it, or six more great Sabbaths.
The Hebrew word olam is
the Old Testament equivalent of the Greek word aionios.
Olam literally means to an obscurity, but it is understood
to mean an age, that is, an indefinite period of time, but not of
infinite duration. Strong's Concordance says that olam means
concealed, i.e., to the vanishing point.
Dr. Bullinger, in his Appendix
151 of The Companion Bible, says of olam:
This word is derived from alam (to hide),
and means the hidden time or age, like aion. . . by
which word, or its Adjective aionios, it is generally
rendered in the Sept.
Under the heading Eternal,
Smith's Bible Dictionary (Dr. William Smith) tells us what
Eternal (Heb. OLAM, hidden, time long
past, and of future to the end).
Thus, Strong, Bullinger, and
Smith all agree that the word means hidden or obscure. Hence, the
time of olam is indefinite (obscure, hidden), rather
than never-ending time, eternity, or everlasting. It is indefinite,
because an age can be anywhere from a lifetime to thousands of
years in length.
Rotherham's The Emphasized Bible
renders Psalm 45:6,
throne, O God, is to times age-abiding and beyond [Heb.
olam va'ad, to the age and beyond], a sceptre of equity
is the sceptre of thy kingdom.
The King James Version
incorrectly translates it for ever and ever, which makes no sense
at all. God's throne will indeed be for ever, but does it require
two evers to describe never-ending time? The Psalmist did NOT say,
Psalm 45:6 shows that olam
by itself was insufficient to express eternity. The Psalmist had to
add the phrase va'ad, and beyond, to show that God's throne
extends beyond the olam of the Messianic Age. Young's
Concordance tells us that the Hebrew word ad means duration,
continuity, and for this reason Dr. Young believed that this term
really did describe eternity.
The Bible uses this same Hebrew
phrase, olam va'ad, in the Exodus 15:18, which Young's
Literal Translation renders:
reignethto the age and for ever! (olam va'ad)
Jerome, who translated the Latin
Vulgate in the latter part of the fourth century, rendered the
phrase olam va'ad to Latin as: in aeternum et ultra,
or into eternity and beyond. This would be very strange if
one insists that aeternum meant endless time. Jerome lived
at the same time as Augustine and was well qualified to do a Latin
translation of the Bible. In fact, the Latin Vulgate was the
standard Bible used in the Church for the next thousand years. It
is obvious that Jerome did not think that aeternum had to
mean endless time, in spite of what Augustine believed.
Psalm 10:16 (Young's Literal
is king to the age, and for ever (olam va'ad), the
nations have perished out of His land!
Daniel 12:2, 3 (Note the contrast
between olam and olam va'ad.)
2 And the
multitude of those sleeping in the dust of the ground do awake,
some to life age-during [olam], and some to
reproachesto abhorrence age-during [olam].
3 And those teaching do shine as the
brightness of the expanse, and those justifying the multitude as
stars to the age and for ever [olam va'ad].
In these verses we see that
Jehovah, or Yahweh, will reign not only to the age, but beyond the
age as well. Hence, this could express the idea of eternity. Daniel
speaks of the resurrection, where some will be raised to life
during the age, and others to judgment during the age. Then he
takes it further, telling us that those teaching and justifying the
multitude will shine to the age and beyond. His specific
terminology sheds light on the meaning of these terms.
Dr. Young's translation is not
without certain problems, however. There are times when olam
va'ad ought not to be translated to the age and for ever but
left as to the age and beyond. This is because there is more than
one future age, and sometimes the age is a reference to the first
age. And beyond (va'ad) can also be a reference to the
following age, rather than for ever. For example, Psalm 9:5 says in
5 Thou hast
rebuked nations, Thou hast destroyed the wicked, their name Thou
hast blotted out to the age and for ever [olam
In this case for ever is not a
valid translation. The wicked will not be destroyed for ever. God
will rebuke the nations and blot out their name during the
Messianic Age (when Christ and His overcomers will rule) and also
in the age beyond (during the time of the lake of fire). So this
verse does not prove that the wicked will be destroyed for all
time. There will still be a Jubilee that will restore all nations
to Him, as Psalm 86:9 says,
nations that Thou hast made come and bow themselves before Thee, O
Lord, and give honour to Thy name.
Psalm 67:1- 3 says in Young's
Thee do peoples, O God, praise Thee do peoples, all of them.
4 Rejoice and sing do nations, for Thou judgest peoples
uprightly, and peoples on earth comfortest. Selah. 5
Confess Thee do peoples, O God, confess Thee do peoplesall of
them. 6 Earth hath given her increase, God doth
bless usour God, 7 God doth bless us, and all ends of
the earth fear Him!
The psalmist realizes that all
the nations will rejoice in the judgments of God, because
His judgments are corrective and remedial, not destructive. The
only thing that is destroyed is the fleshly corruption and the
injustice of man's governmental systems that have prevailed in the
present age. Psalm 72:11 says,
11 And all
kings do bow themselves to him, all nations do serve
Psalm 82:8 also says that God
will inherit all nations. How can God inherit all nations if
He has destroyed them? And so we can only conclude that God does
not intend to destroy the people of all nations who are currently
unbelievers. God intends to inherit them. Isaiah 2:2-4 tells us
that during that Age the people who did not know God will come to
learn of Him,
2 Now it
will come about that in the last days the mountain [Kingdom]
of the house of the Lord will be established as the chief of the
mountains, and will be raised above the hills [smaller
kingdoms]; and all the nations will stream to it.
3 And many peoples will come and say, Come, let us go
up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob;
that He may teach us concerning His ways, and that we may walk in
His paths. For the law will go forth from Zion, and the word of the
Lord from Jerusalem. 4 And He will judge between the
nations, and will render decisions for many peoples; and they will
hammer their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning
hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never
again will they learn war.
The old forms of government will
be abolished for ever, and Christ will be the Head of a true United
Nations to render decisions that will resolve all disputes without
resorting to war. The individual people themselves will rejoice as
they come into the glorious liberty of the sons of God.
The bottom line is that the law
of Jubilee mandates by law a limit on liability for all debtand
sin, in the Bible, is reckoned as a debt. The Lord's prayer says in
Matthew 6:12 says,
forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our
In Luke 11:4 it is rendered this
forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is
indebted to us.
Luke's account specifically
equates sins with debts. The same is true in a number of Jesus'
parables, such as the one found in Matthew 18 about the debtor who
owed ten thousand talents. A talent of gold in those days weighed
131 pounds, or 2096 ounces of gold per talent. Ten thousand talents
would equal 20,960,000 ounces of gold. At the price of $400 per
ounce, this today would represent (literally) a debt of
In the parable, the debtor was
forgiven his huge, unpayable debt. But he, in turn, refused to
forgive the small debt that his neighbor owed him. So his huge debt
was put back upon him. The final verse of the parable is Matthew
35 So shall
My heavenly Father also do to you, if each of you does not forgive
his brother from your heart.
This does not mean that believers
can lose their salvation and go to hell. It means that believers
may lose the blessing of the first resurrection and will be
saved, yet so as through fire at the general resurrection of
the dead. Forgiveness is the primary requirement to be an
overcomer, because forgiveness is the way in which we live and
breathe the principles of the Jubilee.
In view of the law of Jubilee,
where all debts are cancelled, it is not difficult to see that the
time of aionios kolasis (eonian judgment) must of
necessity be limited. To make it never-ending would be a violation
of biblical law, regardless of our view of its actual nature. That
is to say, whether we believe the fire is literal or symbolic of
the divine law, it must be of limited duration.