Eonian Life, Not Eternal Life
It is common knowledge among students of the
Bible that, following this evil-ridden existence, there will be a one-thousand
year kingdom on earth (Revelation 5:10; 20:4). Jesus referred to this as
"the coming eon" (Mark 10:30). This gives way to a new heavens and a
new earth (Revelation 21:1), which is yet another eon (Ephesians 2:7). Those who
receive faith now live during these two future eons. This is the life Paul spoke
of when he said, "the gift of God is eonian life" (Romans 6:23). Jesus
spoke continually of this life. This is the way that Jesus referred to as
"narrow" (Matthew 7:14). The narrow way had to do with Israel and the
few who would enter immortal into that millennial kingdom, not with the eternal
fate of the majority of mankind (Matthew 15:24).
The word eon will be strange to some. It mustn’t be any longer. This noun
and its adjective ("eonian") appear in the New Testament over 190
times (in the original Greek) as aion and aionion. Why haven’t
many recognized them in our English versions? Because "expert
translators" have decided to interpret rather than translate. More on this
in a moment.
No two words in the history of man have been so tortured as aion and aionion.
No two words in the history of man, mishandled by man, have contributed
more to the physical, emotional and spiritual harm of so many, than these. You
think I must be exaggerating. But I am not. It is the mistranslation of these
two words that has foisted the false and destructive doctrine of eternal
torment upon the church and the world.
Eternal torment is built on the sand of mistranslation,
slipped easily upon saints who would like eternal torment to be true, if only to
anoint themselves "divine messengers" on a "great
commission," mandated "by God" to lord fear and power over lesser
men under the misnomer: "evangelism."
It is where the King James and other versions
unaccountably use eternal and everlasting (for aionion) to describe the
chastisement of the wicked that a false Scriptural veneer is lent to an
otherwise insane (and inane) concept.
What is an eon?
The following considerations are vitally important to your peace and
understanding of God.
Our English word eon is derived from the Greek
word aion. (Remember, the New Testament was originally written in Greek.) It
even sounds like it and is nearly spelled the same. Obviously, it would be the
perfect translation of aion. An eon is "a duration of time." So is an
aion. (See W.E. Vine’s An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words. Vine
defines aion as "an age, era; signifies a period of indefinite duration, or
time viewed in relation to what takes place in the period.") Had this word
been left to speak for itself (the Concordant Version does that, putting
"eon" for aion, always, and "eonian" for aionion, always),
the false terror of eternal torment would never have arisen to deceive the
saints and turn the world from God. Several versions do translate it
consistently. (Besides the Concordant Literal New Testament, Rotherham’s
Emphasized Bible, and Young’s Literal Translation.)
The ineptness of the orthodox translators can be
easily verified. Look up the words "ages," "world,"
"eternal," "everlasting" and "forever" in either a
Strong’s or a Young’s concordance. (These reference tools list every word in
the King James Version and their source word from the original languages.) You
will find that these words, a veritable hodge-podge, are all interpretations of
this single Greek noun (aion) and its adjective.
Such interpretations are not only disparate,
they are asinine. The same Greek word cannot mean ages in one place and forever
in another. Ages have to do with time and plurality, while forever is the
opposite of time and defies duplication. (If the reader wishes to imagine two
forevers, he may try it. Minors attempting the feat will require adult
supervision.) Can one word mean both day and night? Neither can one word mean
both time and no time. An orthodox bias has made fools of otherwise intelligent
Yet here is the rub. Even where the scriptures
speak of the life of believers as eternal, an error is an error.
Eonian a timely word
Eonian life is falsely reported in the King
James version and elsewhere as "eternal life." It will come as a shock
to many to learn that neither Jesus nor Paul ever spoke of eternal life but
rather eonian life, or that life which endures through two future eons (the
thousand-year kingdom eon, already discussed, and the new heavens and new
earth). If this disclosure spoils the meter in some beloved Christian hymns, let
truth conquer cadence.
The initial knee-jerk reaction to this truth is
that, since eon and eonian pertain to time, the saints must not live forever.
This is faulty reasoning. The saints do live forever, but not because of eonian
life. The saints live forever because they are made immortal (1 Corinthians
15:54). Immortal people can’t die, no matter how hard they try.
Eonian life defines life during the coming eons
only. As not everyone has this, this term distinguishes those who do. As the
eons end (and so they will, see 1 Corinthians 10:11 and Hebrews 9:26), so ends
the appellation eonian life. And yet the saints live on, for at the consummation
of the eons death is abolished (1 Corinthians 15:24-26). If you have enough
water to make it to a well, do you die of thirst? Neither does a saint who has
eonian life die when the eons yield to deathlessness.
Many suppose that eonian must denote endlessness
when describing God, as in Romans 16:26- "the eonian God." (King James
wrongly makes this, "the everlasting God.") No. It’s another
This verse isn’t trying to tell anyone that
God lives forever. Everyone already knows God lives forever. Psalm 102:27
testified long ago that "His years shall have no end." It’s old
news. The vital question is: Does God sit on high, removed from our struggles in
time, or does He care what happens during the eons? He cares. Thus, He is the
eonian God. This does not limit Him to the eons any more than "the God of
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob" limits Him to those patriarchs.
What about His everlasting mercy? This, too, is
limited to the eons. (And yet, verify this, the church would rather teach a lie
than rewrite a hymn.) Mercy presupposes unworthies, of which someday there will
be a blessed lack. Eternal mercy demands eternal imperfection. Mercy finds no
object when all return to Him.
Won’t the saints reign "forever and
ever" as King James reports in Revelation 22:5? No. They will reign for the
eons. Reign presupposes insubjection, another deficiency unworthy of Christ. Not
even Christ reigns forever and ever. scripture says that "He must be
reigning until He should be placing all His enemies under His feet" (1
The King James Version contradicts itself on
this count. The KJV translation of Revelation 11:15 reads, "The kingdoms of
this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall
reign for ever and ever." Yet their rendition of 1 Corinthians 15:25 reads,
"For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet."
An accurate translation of Revelation 11:15
eliminates this discrepancy. The Concordant version has, "The kingdom of
this world became our Lord’s and His Christ’s, and He shall be reigning for
the eons of the eons." (As the phrase "king of kings" highlights
one king among others, thus also "eons of the eons" highlights two
eons among others. Neither phrase carries the idea of "an endless
succession," as commonly supposed.) Discrepancy disappears when God’s
words are respected.
It’s a slap in the face of Christ to say that
Christ reigns forever. Does He never perfect the universe? He does. He will one
day subject everything to God, who will then be "all in all" (1
Corinthians 15:27-28). With no more insubjection, reign becomes impossible.
Christ reigns so well during the eons that He eliminates the need for it for
Those not blessed with belief now miss these
glorious, future eons. They will be dead while the eons run their course,
unaware of the passage of time. Is it their fault? No. But Christ died for them
just the same. While they miss these eons, they certainly do not miss living
with God for eternity, for He is "the Savior of all mankind, especially of
believers" (1 Timothy 4:10).
Note that the inspired statement does not say He
is the Savior exclusively of believers. That would be the lie of Christianity.
He indeed saves all, but only those who believe now live through the two future
eons. This is the "especially" salvation of the context.
This news should relieve the troubled saint who,
as he has been reading this chapter, has ruminated to himself, "You mean
they are going to be where I am?" Happy day; they will be dead while you
live through the eons. The gift of belief grants you eonian life; they don’t
have it. Yet they rise to immortality later at a time known in scripture as
"the consummation" (1 Corinthians 15:24), when God abolishes the one
thing holding them back: death (1 Corinthians 15:26). If they don’t rise to
immortality, then God isn’t their Savior and the scriptures lie.
I prefer to believe that religion lies.