When God wrote scripture, He chose two Greek words to reveal Himself and His
purpose. These Greek words are aion and aionion. These have exact
English equivalents in "eon" (a noun; a period of time) and
"eonian" (an adjective; having to do with a period of time). Ignoring
what God wrote, many scholars have decided that God must have meant to
say something else.
A word about nouns and adjectives: A derivative adjective draws its meaning
from its noun: rainy is of rain, golden is of gold, American is of America,
eonian is of eon. This means that if eon is a period of time (which it
undoubtedly is, as you will soon see from five passages in Matthew), then eonian
has to be of or related to a period of time. Therefore, aionion (eonian) cannot
mean eternal, since a period of time must have a beginning and an end.
Rejecting the inspired usage and meaning of eon and eonian, scholars have
substituted words as unrelated as "forever," "eternal,"
"time," "universe," "world," and "life,"
all to translate this single Greek noun and its adjective. Having done this,
they have the audacity to call their substitutions a translation. How can a
seeking person know God’s thoughts when his Bible does not even tell him what
God has said?
A translation should tell us, in the purest form possible, what God has said.
It should then be up to the seeker to interpret what God has said. If the
translators fail to accurately handle what God said, then the seeker only has
access to (and is at the mercy of) the translators’ interpretations, which are
not necessarily in accord with God’s thoughts.
Virtually unknown to believers is the truth that God created vast periods of
time (the eons—Heb. 1:2) to effect a purpose (Eph. 3:11). The scriptural eons
are buried under an avalanche of mistranslations. The tools required to dig them
out are an accurate translation, an open mind, and a willingness to discard
tradition whenever necessary.
There are 193 occurrences of aion/aionion in the New Testament. The NIV (New
International Version, or, as I call it, the New Inconsistent Version) stumbles
close to the truth in only 29 of these occurrences. In these 29 verses, aion and
its plural are rendered "age," "ages," or "ages
past." Although eon is the exact English equivalent of aion, the
word age does somewhat convey the duration of time which God intended to
express. In five crucial verses of Matthew (13:39; 13:40; 13:49; 24:3; and
28:20), among others, context forced the NIV people to render aion as age,
thereby admitting that aion cannot mean eternity. Consider these verses:
Matthew 13:39— "The harvest is the end of the age (aion),
and the harvesters are angels."
Matthew 13:40— "As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire,
so it will be at the end of the age (aion)."
Matthew 13:49— "This is how it will be at the end of the age (aion)."
Matthew 24:3— "As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the
disciples came to him privately. ‘Tell us,’ they said, ‘when will this
happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age? (aion)"
Matthew 28:20— "And surely I will be with you always, to the very
end of the age (aion)."
So how could the NIV people have made this same word (aion)
"eternal" in other places? Eternity cannot have a conclusion.
Rendering aion as age in one verse and eternity in another is dishonest
translating. Age and eternity are as different as black and white. To be
accurate and honest, translators must choose an English word that fits
all the contexts of the inspired word being translated. Only in this way
can seekers like us determine the meaning of the inspired word. The greater the
variety of words used to "translate" a word of the original, the more
obvious it becomes that the goal of the translators is not scriptural accuracy,
but the preservation of doctrinal bias.
Why did they do it? Consistent translation of aion/aionion would have upset
doctrinal apple carts. The first apple to go would have been the teaching of the
eternal doom of the unsaved. Accurately translated, verses formerly used to
prove eternal separation from God would attest instead to God’s use of
righteous, eonian (that is, time-limited) judgments. Read Matthew 18:8; Matthew
25:41, 46; Mark 3:29; 2 Thessalonians 1:9, and Hebrews 6:2 in this light, and
you will have a new Bible. God’s goal is to reconcile His creatures to
Himself, not drive them eternally away. It will be a great day for you when you
can believe that God is absolutely loving, merciful and just, and not keep
having to wonder how love, mercy and justice can possibly exist alongside
everlasting pain and hopelessness.
By the way: Since only 29 occurrences of aion/aionion are translated
accurately, the other 164 NIV verses are hard at work muddling scriptural truth.
Christians talk about God having a plan, but an honest consideration of God’s
performance to date (from the orthodox viewpoint) raises legitimate questions
about this plan: What sort of planner is God if His creatures can foil His
intentions? What pall does such a situation cast upon God’s vaunted
omniscience and omnipotence? From the moment of Eve’s desire to partake of the
fruit, to the darkness of the cross, to the depths of today’s wickedness,
mankind has scuttled God’s so-called plan. We are led to believe that God
never intended events to turn out as they have. According to traditional
teaching, the Almighty Sovereign God of the universe is reduced—by His own
creatures—to the ignominious role of a celestial fix-it boy. And if Satan and
his human minions have derailed God’s plans against His will, as traditional
teaching say they have, what happens to our eternal security? How can we know
that God will keep us if He has a track record of losing to the wily serpent?
In truth, God operates everything in accord with the counsel of His own will
(Ephesians 1:11). Nothing has ever happened which was not in perfect accord with
God’s plan and intention. All is out of God, through God, and for God (Romans
11:36). And what is God’s plan? What is the purpose of the eons? This:
To head up the universe in His Son, Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:10-12). To
reconcile the universe to Himself, through Christ, making peace through the
blood of Christ’s cross (Colossians 1:20). Why? So that, at the consummation
of the eons), God will be All in all (1 Corinthians 15:22-28).