Part 5 Reference Supplement
I forgot to put references in the previous part of the book review. Rather than stack up a large number of different resources to show the meaning of aion, correctly translated age-lasting, and some further thoughts from other scholars on Matt 25:31-46, I remembered this resource and decided to just include a few chapters for you to read. If you would like further info about this resource or where to obtain a copy of it for E-Sword Bible software or html / .doc(x) or pdf file, let me know. I will be happy to provide these for you. Just comment to me or email me the request. This book was well worth the read!
(The bold chapters in the Table of Contents are included here)
An Analytical Study of Words
by Louis Abbott
About the Author
1. Definitions of Aion, Aionios
2. Usages of Aion
3. Opinion of the Scholars
4. Apparent Contradictions
5. “Forever and Ever” — A Poor Translation
6. What Saith the Translations?
7. Eonian Means What? A Search for Truth
8. Greek Tools
9. Examples in Greek Literature
10. Bibles Without Everlasting Punishment
11. Verses “Proving” Punishment Will Be Everlasting
12. Scholars Acknowledge Restitution of All
13. Punishment? Yes – Everlasting? No
14. A Long, But Not Eternal Visit to Hell
15. The “Chosen” – Not “I Have Chosen”
16. Clearing Things Up
17. The Complete Revelation
Appendix 1 – Commentary of Previous Presentation
Appendix 2 – Do You Believe All in the Bible?
Appendix 3 – Reconciliation Scriptures
Appendix 4 – What Pleases Our Father
Appendix 5 – What if We Are Wrong?
About the Author
Louis Abbott was born in 1915. In 1928, he received Christ. One day, while pastoring a church, a man challenged Louis regarding his teaching about eternal torment. Louis accepted the challenge.
For three years Louis searched the Scriptures, searched the Greek and Hebrew words behind the English words “Hell,” “eternal punishment,” “everlasting destruction,” etc. At the end of those three years, he realized he had been taught error regarding the ultimate fate of mankind. Feeling he could not longer preach the doctrines of his denomination, Louis gave up the pastorate, but he never gave up studying.
Taking Greek courses from Moody, Loyola University, and other places, he finally came to the place where, in order to get further, he had to teach himself. At the present day, his personal library, consisting of thousands of Bible reference books, probably has more reference books on the New Testament Greek than many Bible Colleges and Seminaries.
For almost 50 years now, Louis has been spending many of his evening hours and weekends studying the subject matter of this book. There would be few in the world today who would have spent as much time studying these words as Louis has.
Louis has given me some of the books in his personal library. On the inside cover, he would put the date he finished the book and note the pages on which he made notations. I am amazed at how many reference books he has read. Most people, including scholars, usually use these kind of books to look up a subject when needed. They usually do not read these kinds of books from cover to cover, making notes along the way. But that is how Louis read many of these very difficult books.
Whether the reader will be given the grace to see the wonderful truths contained in this work is up to the Holy Spirit. I only want to make it clear in this introduction to Louis Abbott that the research contained in this book comes from over 50 years of thorough, dedicated years of “searching to see if these things be so.” Louis Abbott has come to the conclusions in this book, not because of his religious background, but because he was willing to test his traditions. May the reader be given the grace to put “fear of God” above “fear of man and his traditions” and read this book with an open mind and willing heart.
Definitions of Aion, Aionios
“Usage is always the decisive thing in determining the meanings of words.”
“Over time, words often change meaning, sometimes even taking on an opposite one.”
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 is presently in this book has been thoroughly researched.
Dictionaries only 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 subjects.
Olam, aion, and aonion are defined in dictionaries, lexicons, commentaries, and the like, as follows: (Here is one of those long lists I mentioned)
Page and Company’s Business Man’s Dictionary and Guide to English: Eon: A long space of time; cycle; forever; eternally; always; at all times.
New 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, everlastingly, endlessly.
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; eternal.
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, everlasting.
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 (Psa_61:8) or with various prepositions (Gen_3:22; Gen_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” (Gen_6:4, etc.). In the N.T., aion is used as the equivalent of olam.
The 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.
The 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 (Luk_1:70), as well as in the future (Joh_4:14).
Ellicott’s Commentary on the Whole Bible (Mat_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. 2Ti_1:9; Tit_1:2) – 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, le-olam.
A 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. Without end.
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, eternity.
Hasting’s 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 2Ti_1:9; Tit_1:2.
Verses “Proving” Punishment Will be Everlasting
“Professor A.T. Robertson and A.B. Bruce agree that ‘kolasis aionion’ of the KJV has a literal meaning of ‘age-lasting correction.'”
“Let me say to Bible students that we must be very careful how we use the word ‘eternity.’ We have fallen into great error in our constant usage of that word. There is no word in the whole Book of God corresponding with our eternal…”
-G. Campbell Morgan
Mat_25:31-46 concerns the judgment of NATIONS, not individuals. It is to be distinguished from other judgments mentioned in Scripture, such as the judgment of the saints (2Co_5:10-11); the second resurrection, and the great white throne judgment (Rev_20:11-15). The judgment of the nations is based upon their treatment of the Lord’s brethren (verse 40). No resurrection of the dead is here, just nations living at the time. To apply verses 41 and 46 to mankind as a whole is an error. Perhaps it should be pointed out at this time that the Fundamentalist Evangelical community at large has made the error of gathering many Scriptures which speak of various judgments which will occur in different ages and assigning them all to the “Great White Throne” judgment. This is a serious mistake. Mat_25:46 speaks nothing of “grace through faith.” We will leave it up to the reader to decide who the “Lord’s brethren” are, but final judgment based upon the receiving of the Life of Christ is not the subject matter of Mat_25:46 and should not be interjected here. Even if it were, the penalty is “age-during correction” and not “everlasting punishment.”
Dr. J.D. Dummelow, in his commentary on Mat_25:31-46, says, “Christ here speaks of the judgment of Christians alone, because that was the question which most concerned the apostles and their future converts… A common interpretation, however, is that the judgment of all mankind is meant.”
Professor A.T. Robertson, in his Word Pictures in the N.T., and Prof. A.B. Bruce, in The Expositor’s Greek Testament, agree that the kolasis aionion, the “everlasting punishment” of the KJV, has a literal meaning of “age-lasting correction.”
Dr. F.W. Farrar says: “It may be worthwhile, however, to point out once more to less educated readers that aion, aionios, and their Hebrew equivalents in all combinations are repeatedly used of things which have come to an end. Even Augustine admits (what, indeed, no one can deny), that in Scripture aion and aionios must in many instances mean ‘having an end,’ and St. Gregory of Nyssa, who at least knew Greek, uses aionios as the epithet for ‘an interval.'” Dean Farrar also states: “The pages of theologians in all ages show a startling prevalence of such terms as ‘everlasting death, everlasting damnation, everlasting torments, everlasting vengeance, everlasting fire’ – not one of which has Scriptural authority.” Dr. Farrar was well versed in the Biblical languages, author of books on the life of Jesus, the life of Paul, and Greek grammar, as well as others.
Dr. Edwin Abbott, headmaster of the City of London School, wrote in his Cambridge Sermons (p. 25), “And as for ourselves, though occasionally mentioning in language general and metaphorical, states of eonian life and eonian chastisment awaiting us after death, the Holy Scriptures give no detailed information as to either condition.” Dr. Abbott’s conviction, as expressed, showed he thought the received dogma was untenable.
An argument was introduced by Augustine, and since his day incessantly repeated, that if aionios kolasis does not mean “endless punishment,” then there is no security for the believer that aionios zoe means “endless life,” and that he will enjoy the promise of endless happiness. But Mat_25:46 shows the “eonian chastisement” and “eonian life” are of the same duration – lasting during the eons, and when the eons end, as Scripture states they will (1Co_10:11; Heb_9:26), the time called “eonian” is past and the life called “eonian” is finished, but life continues beyond the eons, as Paul teaches at 1Co_15:26: “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” That is, the last, the final one in order. How will it be destroyed? 1Co_15:22 gives the answer: “For as IN ADAM ALL are dying, even so IN CHRIST ALL shall be made alive.” Death is destroyed when ALL have been vivified, or made alive, IN CHRIST. There will then be no more death. Just as life is destroyed by death, so death is destroyed by life. Our present bodies are mortal and corruptible (1Co_15:44-55), but when mankind is made alive IN CHRIST they will be raised immortal and incorruptible.
Those who believe in a universal salvation as is spoken of at Col_1:15-20, and see the purpose of God’s love and His plan for the eons, are secure in their belief that the same number of those who are now dying as a result of Adam’s disobedience will be made alive in Christ. The ALL of these verses represent exactly the same number of mankind. Rom_5:18-19 says, “by the offense of one, judgment came upon all men – by the righteousness of One the free gift came upon all men – by one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the obedience of One shall the many be made righteous.” The “all men” and the “many” in these verses include the same number of humans in both cases.
The “all” in 1Co_15:22; Col_1:15-22; and Rom_5:18-19 mean the same in every case. God’s eonian purpose is to head up ALL in the Christ, as is stated in Eph_1:9-10; Eph_3:11.
Dr. Alford Plumer’s 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.'”
Dr. G. Campbell Morgan, preacher, teacher, evangelist, and author; sometimes called the “prince of expositors,” wrote in his Studies of the Four Gospels concerning Mat_25:31-46, “Then, moreover, we must be careful not to read into this section of prophecy things which it does not contain; for while it has been interpreted as though it were a description of the final judgment, the Great White Throne – These shall go away into age-abiding punishment; but the righteous into age-abiding life – the terms are co-equal in value, and whatever one means the other means. Only remember that here Christ is not dealing with the subject of the soul’s destiny either in heaven or hell. They are terms that have to do wholly with the setting up of the kingdom here in this world…” In Dr. Morgan’s, God’s Methods with Men, he says (pp. 185-186), “Let me say to Bible students that we must be very careful how we use the word ‘eternity.’ We have fallen into great error in our constant usage of that word. There is no word in the whole Book of God corresponding with our ‘eternal,’ which as commonly used among us, means absolutely without end.” In his book, The Corinthian Letters of Paul, the same author states concerning 1Co_15:22 (p. 191): “The word Adam is used here in the sense of headship of a race, the one from whom the race springs. But God’s second Man was the last Adam. If we say second Adam, we presuppose the possibility of a third Adam, another from whom a race shall spring. There will be none such. It is ‘first Adam’ and ‘last Adam.’ What does relationship with Him mean? In the program of God all are to be made alive in Christ.”
Sir Robert Anderson, a writer on eschatology, says, “The N.T. unfolds an economy of times and seasons; many ages head up in the one great age, within which the manifold purpose of God, in relation to earth, shall be fulfilled. Here, these words eon, age are applicable, and are used.”
Dr. Edward Plumptre, an eschatologist, wrote, “I fail to find, as is used by the Greek Fathers, any instance in which the idea of time duration is unlimited.”
Dr. William White says, “That of the widely different subjects to which aeonian is applied in the N.T., in 70 they are of a limited and temporary nature.”
Professor Knappe of Halle wrote, “The Hebrew was destitute of any single word to express endless duration. The pure idea of eternity is not found in any of the ancient languages.”
Professor Hermann Oldhausen said, “The Bible has no expression for endlessness. All the Biblical terms imply or denote long periods.” Dr. Oldhausen was a German Lutheran theologian.
Lexicographers note the fact that it was not until the fifth century A.D. that theologians began to read the sense of endlessness into Bible words. Dr. Lewis S. Chafer deplores the difficulty that the average reader of the Bible will encounter in seeking to understand the real meaning of these passages, when he notes how hopelessly the KJV has obscured the word aion. He said, “The word, which in common usage has a limited meaning, is used by the translators as the one English rendering for at least four widely differing ideas in the original. So that if the truth contained in this important body of Scripture is to be understood, the student must not only know the various meanings which are expressed by the one word, but also be able to determine the correct use of it in the many passages in which it occurs. Therefore, the KJV has placed the simple truth they contain beyond the average reader of the Bible. The English word ‘world,’ as used in the New Testament, may mean a distinct period of time, commonly known as an age (as its original is a few times translated), or it may refer to the things created: the earth, its inhabitants, or their institution. The ages are often referred to in Scripture, and the study of the exact conditions and purposes of each of them are not fanciful; but it is rather the only adequate foundation for any true knowledge of the Bible.”
Dr. W.H. Griffith Thomas wrote in The Christian, in a comment upon Heb_11:3, “the word rendered ‘worlds’ is ‘ages’ and refers not so much to the material creation as to the world regarded from the standpoint of time… The last mentioned (age, aion) is the name used here, and it seems to refer to what may be called time-worlds, the idea being that of various ages or dispensations being planned by God with reference to a goal toward which all are moving.”
Dr. Thomas’ notes on Rom_5:18-19 were, “As mankind’s connection with Adam involved him in certain death, through sin, so his relation to Christ insures to him life without fail. The double headship of mankind in Adam and Christ show the significance of the work of redemption for the entire race.”
Professor Max Muller says in reference to the Latin word aeternum, “that it originally signified life or time, but has given rise to a number of words expressing eternity – the very opposite of life and time.” He says the Latin aevum, that is, the Greek word “ainon, later aion, became the name of time, age, and its derivative, aeviternus, or aeternus, was made to express eternity.”
Dr. Isaac Watts says, “There is not one place in Scripture which occurs to me, where the word death necessarily signifies a certain miserable immortality of the soul.”
Professor Taylor Lewis states, “The conception of absolute endlessness as etymological of olam or eon would clearly have prevented plurals.” He continues, “‘ever’ (German: ewig), was originally a noun denoting age, just like the Greek, Latin and Hebrew words corresponding to it.” Dr. Lewis wrote an interesting article for Lange’s Commentary about the use of the words olam and aion as used at Ecc_1:4.
Jeremy Taylor, a hell-fire advocate, wavers, and after his ebullient flashes of Systematic Hellology, is constrained to the following modification in Jeremy Taylor’s Works (vol. 3, p. 43), “Though the fire is everlasting, not all that enters it is everlasting,” then adds, “The word everlasting signifies only to the end of its period.” Would that other hell-fire advocates were so honest.