On the main page we saw that from A Hebrew point of view

Matt 25:46 “These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Is better translated as

Matt 25:46 And these shall go away into God’s punishment: but the righteous into God’s life.

On this page we will repeat the same study from the Greek point of view. The conclusion is slightly different but still great; as is everything of God’s Master plan of the ages. Before we look into that I would like to mention that it’s said Matthew was originally written in Hebrew and later translated to Greek.

Several modern day  scholars come to the conclusion that Matthew reads more natural after a one-on-one translation to Hebrew. It even uncovers Hebrew idioms that don’t exist in Greek/

Back on topic, Aionios the Greek word we are discussing never carries the meaning of endless. But even if we falsely assume it sometimes does, it doesn't settle the discussion because how we know Matt 24:46 is one of those sometimes? Why didn't Matthew use the Greek word that does mean everlasting - Aidios?

Rom 1:20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal (aidios)  power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, being understood by what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

Justin Martyr, Ireneus, Origen and Theodore of Mopsuestia used the word as having limited duration. The first two believed that the sinner is annihilated when Aionios-punishment is completed. The other two believe the sinner is redeemed when Aionios-punishment is complete. Those men lived between 115-400AD, meaning long after Matthew was written the Aionios still was understood as with an end.

In 540AD Emperor Justinian in a very lengthy writing in Greek that lays at the formation of the Catholic Church lists all sorts of believes that should be condemned. He never stated Aionios is everlasting. In fact he proves that even during his time it was of limited duration.

“The holy church of Christ teaches an endless aionios (ateleutetos aionios) life to the righteous, and endless (ateleutetos) punishment to the wicked.”

An endless forever, doesn't that sound a bit weird?

So now we know that Aionios was used in a sense of limited duration in the OT, even as short as 3 days in the case of Jonah.

And likewise between 115-540AD according to the writings of the church fathers. Likewise it's of limited duration in the Classic Greek predating it all. Wouldn't it be very unlikely that during the short period the NT was written the word temporarily did mean endless? Extremely unlikely, but let's look at some writings contemporary with Christ.

Josephus writes about everlasting/aionios worship in the Temple and in the same sentence he writes that it's already destroyed. How much clearer can it get?

Philo, who was contemporary with Christ, generally used athanaton, ateleuteton or aidion to denote endless, and always used aiónion to describe temporary duration.

Or let's look at some more Greek NT Scripture.

Luke 1:33 And He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever/aiōn; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

Rev 1:6 and He made us into a kingdom, priests to His God and Father–to Him be the glory and the dominion forever/aiōn and ever/aiōn. Amen.

Rev 11:15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever/aiōn and ever/aiōn.

How more clear can it be? Christ will rule forever! Or not...?

1Cor 15:24 Then comes the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.

The ‘everlasting’ Levitical priesthood ended when Christ became High Priest in the or order of Melchizedek.

Num 25:13 and it shall be for him and for his descendants after him, a covenant of a permanent priesthood, because he was jealous for his God and made atonement for the sons of Israel.’”

Heb 7:11 If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?

Thousands of pages have been written about that word, but I want to wrap this up by simply saying that there are three understandings of "aionios zoe". (bios is natural life and zoe the other kind of life)

1. Everlasting life.

2. Quality/type/source of life. (My preferred interpretation)

3. Age-during life.

All of them are correct, but not of them are a correct translation.

1. Matthew 25:46 isn't about everlasting life, but the life in Heaven indeed is without an end.

2. God is the source of life, so nothing wrong with this view.

3. Not entirely sure about this one. But the intention is correct.

Number 3 may need a little extra explanation. For the sake of simple explanation let's assume the correction/punishment takes 1 year. Then the age-during life in Matt 24:46 is exactly 1 year long also. But that year is the first year of everlasting life.

As a side note unless you believe in annihilation, everyone has everlasting life. The people in heaven have everlasting life. But those being punished also, because if they are dead they won’t even notice any form of punishment.

If you want a more in depth look at this Greek word this old out of copyright book might be of interest to you.

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