What does the word "eternity" mean to you?
In my brain unlimited words like "eternity" and "infinite" bring equations like 1/X to mind…
As X approaches infinity…
However X can never reach zero because…division by zero is undefined. Although it could readily become a lousy analogy, mentally God to me is being able to divide by zero.
But I do have a goofy brain. ☺
We are going to look at a different form of the word eternity — Eternal
[ Show, open, and discuss a concordance… ]
As a method of study, sometimes it can be valuable to study every occurrence of a word in the Bible
Although…we have to be cautious…words in the Bible aren't like chemistry equations where you can assume a symbol in one means exactly the same thing in another. Words can have multiple meanings depending on use (and the author using them)…and can change entirely over time. Take Genesis 43:19 in the KJV:
"And they made ready the present against Joseph came at noon: for they heard that they should eat bread there."
Your version probably says "for" instead of "against" — for example, the ESV says:
"they prepared ethe present for Joseph's coming at noon, for they heard that they should eat bread there."
Translations should, as a whole, remedied any issues with "opposite" meanings…but not treating words like parts of a chemistry equation remains: if it didn't why would people continue to have so much time realizing that Paul and James aren't using the word "faith" in the exact same way?
Eternal is a word that lends itself very well to studying using this method.
[ These are quick sermon notes…not cleaned-up…and missing the "extras" that come out in the audio (which is available here). All quotes are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted. ]
Using the New American Standard Bible…
Without going into it…it is better to use a more "formal" (not dynamic) translation…word-for-word…for a Bible study like this.
"Eternal" occurs in 74 verses.
Only 4 are in the Old Testament.
Of the 70 verses in the New Testament, all but 5 occurrences of it are the same underlying Greek word — Strongs 166:
166 αἰώνιος [aionios /ahee·o·nee·os/] adj. From 165; TDNT 1:208; TDNTA 31; GK 173; 71 occurrences; AV translates as "eternal" 42 times, "everlasting" 25 times, "the world began + 5550" twice, "since the world began + 5550" once, and "for ever" once. 1 without beginning and end, that which always has been and always will be. 2 without beginning. 3 without end, never to cease, everlasting. Additional Information: For synonyms see entry 126, aidos.See entry 5801 for comparison of synonyms. (Enhanced Strong's Lexicon)
Having such a great majority of the occurrences be aionios makes studying "eternal" this way so useful…and we will be focusing on just this one Greek word.
When you think of Scripture and the word "Eternal" — what verse or use comes most to mind?
[ My guess is that it'll be "eternal life" ]
The first 6 uses in the New Testament give a flavor of what we'll find…fire, life, fire, sin, life, life…
[ Note how unscientific it is since the order of the New Testament books is not inspired like the words of New Testament are… ]
We won't have time to go over all 68 occurrences of aionios…but…we will look at "the good," "the bad," and "the ugly."
***Chapter 19 (2) [Matthew 19:16]
good thing shall I do that I may obtain beternal life?" 17 And He said to him, "Why are you
Chapter 10 (2) [Mark 10:17]
Teacher, what shall I do to cinherit eternal life?" 18 And Jesus said to him, "Why do
Chapter 10 [Luke 10:25]
saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" 26 And He said to him, "What is written
Chapter 18 (2) [Luke 18:18]
Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" 19 And Jesus said to him, "Why do
***Chapter 3 (3) [John 3:15]
whoever 1believes will ain Him have eternal life. 16 "For God so aloved the world,
Chapter 4 (2) [John 4:14]
him a well of water springing up to beternal life." 15 The woman *said to Him, "1
***Chapter 5 (2) [John 5:24]
word, and abelieves Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and bdoes not come into judgment,
Chapter 6 (5) [John 6:27]
perishes, but for the food which endures to beternal life, which cthe Son of Man will give to
Chapter 10 [John 10:28]
and they follow Me; 28 and I give aeternal life to them, and they will never perish;
***Chapter 12 (2) [John 12:25]
life in this world will keep it to life eternal. 26 "If anyone 1serves Me, he must follow
***Chapter 17 (2) [John 17:2]
whom You have given Him, cHe may give eternal life. 3 "This is eternal life, that they
Chapter 2 [Romans 2:7]
glory and honor and cimmortality, deternal life; 8 but to those who are aselfishly
Chapter 5 [Romans 5:21]
grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Chapter 6 (2) [Romans 6:22-23]
in sanctification, and dthe outcome, eternal life. 23 For the wages of asin is death
Chapter 6 [Galatians 6:8]
to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9 aLet us not lose heart in doing
Chapter 1 [1 Timothy 1:16]
for those 1who would believe in Him for eternal life. 17 Now to the aKing 1eternal,
***Chapter 6 (2) [1 Timothy 6:12]
fight of bfaith; ctake hold of the eternal life dto which you were called, and you
Chapter 1 [Titus 1:2]
according to godliness, 2 in athe hope of eternal life, which God, bwho cannot lie, cpromised
Chapter 3 [Titus 3:7]
made aheirs 1according to the hope of eternal life. 8 aThis is a trustworthy statement
Chapter 1 [1 John 1:2]
and ctestify and proclaim to you dthe eternal life, which was ewith the Father and was
***Chapter 2 [1 John 2:25]
promise which He Himself 1made to us: eternal life. 26 These things I have written to
Chapter 3 [1 John 3:15]
murderer; and you know that bno murderer has eternal life abiding in him. 16 We know love by
***Chapter 5 (3) [1 John 5:11]
testimony is this, that God has given us aeternal life, and bthis life is in His Son. 12
[ Quick aside…"eternal life" cannot equate to us being given intrinsic immortality since God alone is immortal (1 Timothy 6:16) ]
***Chapter 5 [Hebrews 5:9]
to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation, 10 being designated by God as
Chapter 9 (3) [Hebrews 9:12]
***donce for all, 1having obtained eeternal redemption. 13 For if athe blood of goats
Heavens (euphemism for new body)
***Chapter 5 [2 Corinthians 5:1]
from God, a house cnot made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For indeed in this house
***Chapter 2 [2 Thessalonians 2:16]
Father, who has bloved us and given us eternal comfort and cgood hope by grace, 17 a
Chapter 1 [2 Timothy 1:9]
granted us in eChrist Jesus from fall eternity, 10 but anow has been revealed by the
Chapter 1 [2 Peter 1:11]
***for in this way the entrance into athe eternal kingdom of our bLord and Savior Jesus Christ
Weight of glory
Chapter 4 (2) [2 Corinthians 4:17]
***light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison,
Chapter 2 [2 Timothy 2:10]
***which is in eChrist Jesus and with it feternal glory. 11 aIt is a trustworthy statement
Chapter 5 [1 Peter 5:10]
all grace, who ccalled you to His deternal glory in Christ, will Himself eperfect,
***Chapter 16 [Luke 16:9]
fails, cthey will receive you into the eternal dwellings. 10 "aHe who is faithful in
***Chapter 1 [1 Timothy 1:17]
for those 1who would believe in Him for eternal life. 17 Now to the aKing 1eternal,
Chapter 13 [Hebrews 13:20]
sheep 1through dthe blood of the eeternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, 21 aequip
Gospel [ One of my favorite "eternal" scriptures ]
***Chapter 14 [Revelation 14:6]
angel flying in amidheaven, having ban eternal gospel to preach to cthose who 1live on
[ Brings to mind Galatians 1:9: "As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, rlet him be accursed." ]
***Chapter 16 [Romans 16:26]
prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations
Back forever [ This is a good reminder that uses of words are in context…"forever" is aionios…and we know that Onesimus won't be Philemon's slave for all time… ]
Philemon [Philemon 15]
for a while, that you would have him back forever, 16 ano longer as a slave, but more than
Life (in a negative context)
***Chapter 13 (2) [Acts 13:46]
repudiate it and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, bwe are turning to the Gentiles
Chapter 3 [Mark 3:29]
never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin"— 30 because they were saying, "He has
Chapter 6 [Hebrews 6:2]
the cresurrection of the dead and ceternal judgment. 3 And this we will do, aif God
Chapter 18 [Matthew 18:8]
hands or two feet and be cast into the eternal fire. 9 "aIf your eye causes you to stumble
Chapter 25 (3) [Matthew 25:41]
Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the beternal fire which has been prepared for cthe devil
Chapter 1 [2 Thessalonians 1:9]
Jesus. 9 These will pay the penalty of aeternal destruction, baway from the presence of
Jude (2) [Jude 7]
example in undergoing the epunishment of eternal fire. 8 Yet in the same way these men, also
I set before you…
As I reflected on all the use of aionios in the Bible, an Old Testament verse seemed to sum it up:
"19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, 20 loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice aand holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days…" (Deuteronomy 3:19-20).
God has set before us eternal life or eternal death.
Which will you choose?
More importantly…will you help others realize they have no choice but to choose too?