Archive for February 2010

Religion’s God

February 27, 2010

… The foolish people have blasphemed Your name (Psalms 74:18).

Religion’s “God” tells us to love our enemies, while he tortures his for eternity.
Religion’s “God” tells us not to be overcome of evil, but to overcome evil with good, while he himself does not overcome with good.
Religion’s “God” tells us to forgive others 70×7, while he leaves most of his creation unforgiven.
Religion’s “God” tells us that love never fails, while his fails to win back the majority of his creation.
Religion’s “God” tells us that Christ is the propitiation “for the sins of the whole world,” while holding the world’s sins against them.
Religion’s “God” tells us that he is the “Savior of all men” and then does not actually save all men.
Religion’s “God” tells us that the wages of sin is death, while changing it to be eternal conscious torment.
Religion’s “God” tells us that the payment for sin is eternal conscious torment, and that Christ made the payment for sin, but it was not eternal conscious torment.
Religion’s “God” tells us that he will be “All in all,” while he will actually only be “All in some.”
Religion’s “God” will somehow “reconcile all things unto Himself,” while leaving most of his creation unreconciled.

There is something wrong with religion’s “God!”

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Daily Email Goodies
© 2010

The Question of Hitler

February 26, 2010

Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound (Romans 5:20).

One of the most common objections of why all men will not go to heaven always seems to be Adolf Hitler. Frequently one can hear such questions as, “You mean to tell me that you believe that Hitler will be saved?” Sadly, the question seems to be self-righteously raised as if the salvation of anyone was somehow based on their own merit, rather than Christ’s.

Thomas Talbott, the author of The Inescapable Love of God has shared some wonderful observations on his website (Willamette University, 2000) that I believe are worthy of our consideration. I share them with you here:

How many of you believe that you are a more worthy candidate for salvation than Hitler was? Bear in mind that, unlike Hitler, none of us here have the power of a modern state at our disposal, so the amount of harm we can do is in that sense limited by the grace of God. If we get angry with someone in this forum, for example, we might say something nasty, but we are in no position to send the Gestapo after the person who offends us. Nor are we in a position, such as Hitler was, where our own weaknesses and prejudices can easily be transformed into political terror. The same weaknesses and prejudices may in fact be there, but we do not have available to us the same means of expressing them that Hitler had available to him.

“Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” said Lord Acton. But few of us have experienced even the temptations of political power, much less the temptations of “absolute” tyrannical power. So how many are utterly confident that in Hitler’s precise circumstances you would have come off any better than he did?

FIRST, I strongly suspect that Hitler was in a far more hopeful condition at the end of his earthly life, after all of his evil plans and ambitions had come to ruin, than he was at any time previously … Historians believe that Hitler committed suicide at the end, though no one really knows this for sure. But even if he did commit suicide, the very despair or sense of defeat that sometimes leads to suicide can just as easily lead to repentance and to a voluntary submission of one’s will to God. If I were to speculate, therefore, I would guess that Hitler, like the terrorist Saul of Tarsus, may have been far closer to the kingdom of God, even during his earthly life, than many professing Christians who continue to harbor hatreds, secret resentments, and petty jealousies in their own hearts. For though Hitler’s hatred of the Jews was no less intense than Saul’s hatred of Christians, it was at least out in the open where it could be dealt with effectively.

SECOND, I have no confidence at all that in Hitler’s shoes I would have fared any better than he did … I have a hard time imagining myself masterminding genocide … I have a hard time seeing myself as an evil monster. But here I would make two observations.

(1) I was reared in one of the most loving families that you could possibly imagine. My mother constantly cultivated a sense of empathy in her children, constantly taught us to consider the other person’s feelings, constantly asked questions like, “How would you feel if …” Had I been switched as a baby and placed in a very different home, perhaps that of a white racist family, or had I been exposed to various kinds of physical and sexual abuse as a child, or had I been exposed to the same forces that shaped Hitler’s personality, I have no confidence that I would have turned out any better than he did.

(2) Even as an adult with all the advantages I have had, I have done some pretty rotten and some pretty selfish things. So if I were suddenly thrust into truly terrifying circumstances – like armed combat, for example – or if I were required to live with a persistent fear for the safety of my family, or if I were to come to believe, however irrationally, that a group of people were a threat to our nation and to our very way of life, I see no reason why I might not gradually be seduced – these things usually come about gradually – into some truly monstrous acts … I am capable of all sin, and only the grace of God has kept me from horrendous ones.

THIRD, I have every confidence that the difference between Hitler and me is not a simple matter of my having made better free choices than he did. I believe in free will, but I also accept the Pauline assertion that our destiny “is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy” (Romans 9:16). We are guilty of self-righteousness if we start to think so-and-so (Hitler in this example) is worse off than we are in God’s eyes. Self-righteousness or spiritual pride is one of the most pernicious of all sins – which is why, I believe, that Jesus came down upon it so harshly. Put it together with a heavy dose of fear – such as fear of everlasting punishment – and you have a prescription for truly monstrous acts. Unfortunately, some of the greatest theologians in the Western tradition, men still widely revered as heroes of the faith, have in fact supported acts of terror that are every bit as evil as Hitler’s own actions were.

Why suppose that the weakness and fear that led Augustine to support the persecution of the Donatists, or the weakness and fear that led the religious leaders in Geneva to burn Servetus at the stake (over green wood so that it took three hours for him to be pronounced dead), or the weakness and fear that led the Calvinists in Zürich to drown Anabaptists in a sort of hideous parody of their belief in believer’s baptism – why suppose that any of this was essentially different from the weakness and fear that led Hitler into some of his own most monstrous acts? The only difference I can discern is that you can’t do as much damage with a sword and a Medieval torture chamber as you can with guns, airplanes and gas chambers.

I offer this not as an argument for anything, but merely as a description of some of my own attitudes and beliefs.

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
The Salvation of All
© 2005, 2010

“Hell” in the Greek Scriptures

February 22, 2010

When we come to the common English New Testament, three completely different Greek words are used to translate the word “hell.”

Hadēs (hah’-dace, or hades)

Hadēs is the most frequently used Greek word to translate “hell.” The meaning of hadēs is easy to establish. Hadēs is defined by God Himself in the Scriptures.

In the Hebrew Scriptures we read,

For Thou will not leave My soul in hell [she‘ôl]; neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption (Psalm 16:10).

Then in the Greek Scriptures, quoting this passage from the Psalms, we read:

Because Thou wilt not leave My soul in hell [hadēs], neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption (Acts 2:27).

Therefore, God defines the Greek word hadēs as the Hebrew word she‘ôl. It is the state of the dead, gravedom, the grave.

Interestingly, just like the Hebrew word she‘ôl, the King James Version also translates the Greek word hadēs as both “grave” and “hell.” Hadēs is translated as “grave” in I Corinthians 15:55:

O death, where is thy sting? O grave [hadēs], where is thy victory?

Is this amazing? If the King James Version was consistent, it would have translated the verses this way,

O death, where is thy sting? O hell, where is thy victory?

That is a good question! Where is “hell’s” victory? Again, we must ask, “Do the two words “grave” and “hell” have the same meaning to the average reader?” There is a major religious and translational problem here.

Geenna (gheh’-en-nah, or gehenna)

It is interesting that geenna is also translated as “hell.” Geenna was actually a historical place. It was the dump outside of Jerusalem where trash was burned. It was typically used metaphorically of the “removal of your trash.”

Tartaroō (tar-tar-o’-o, or tartaroo; English transliteration “tartarus”)

This last of the three Greek words translated “hell” in the King James Version appears only once. Tartaroō has been translated “hell” in II Peter 2:4.

Peter warned,

But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who secretly shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction (II Peter 2:1).

Damnable heresies are “heresies of destruction or perdition.”

Concerning these things, E.W. Bullinger has written,

The teaching that the punishment of the unrighteous begins at the moment of death is a very serious blot on the justice of God. If this is the truth, then Cain, who died about six thousand years ago has already endured six millenniums of punishment, while another murderer who dies today begins to suffer today. Therefore Cain will have to suffer six thousand years more for the same crime than the murderer who dies today.

If two men charged with identical crimes and equally guilty were sentenced, one for five years and the other for ten years, all men who love justice would cry out against such a miscarriage of justice. Shall we not also cry out against any teaching that insists that one man suffer six thousand years more than another for the identical crime? It is indeed a fearful travesty of truth to teach that men are tortured for their sins before they ever have their day in court, and that later they do have their day in court merely to receive a sentence that is determined beforehand. Would not this make the justice of the Great White Throne to be of the same character as the justice ordered by a Mexican general who said, “Give the man a fair trial, then shoot him.” Can this be the justice of God? Can this be the teaching of the Word of God? Do you know that it is? Are you sure that it is? Or, can it be that you just do not care?

The contention that God’s holiness is of such nature that His justice can never be satisfied by anything except eternal conscious suffering as the penalty for sins needs to be carefully examined. If this dogma is true, then this is the penalty Christ should have paid when He died for our sins. He paid the debt that we owed to God, but He did not suffer eternally. If the debt we owed was “eternal suffering,” then that debt has never been paid. Jesus Christ suffered just six hours on the Cross. He did not suffer eternally.

If we would know of God’s wrath against sin, we need to look at the Cross. We will learn from this that our God does punish sin, but we will also learn that the wages of sin is death and not eternal conscious torment.[1]

Speaking of the roots of the doctrine of “hell,” Bullinger also writes,

This is a heathen word and comes down to us surrounded with heathen traditions, which had their origin in Babel, and not in the Bible, and have reached us through Judaism and Romanism.[2]

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
The Salvation of All
© 2005-2010

[1]Cited by Otis Q. Sellers, The Study of Human Destiny, 1955, page 17.

[2]E.W. Bullinger, Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament.

“Hell” in the Hebrew Scriptures

February 21, 2010

A serious problem with many English translations of the Bible is the word “hell.” It is the cause of great confusion and misunderstanding.

Our English word “hell” is the translation of one Hebrew and three Greek words.

The English word “hell” is a translation of the single Hebrew word she‘ôl (sheh-ole’, or sheol).

In the King James Version, she‘ôl is translated:

grave (32 times)
hell (31 times)
pit (3 times)

How can the same word that is translated as “grave” be almost equally translated as “hell”? Were the translators confused? Is the average reader aware that “grave” and “hell” are both translations of the Hebrew word she‘ôl? Do the words “grave” and “hell” mean the same thing to the average reader? Talk about confusion!

Concerning she‘ôl, E.W. Bullinger has written,

As to the rendering “hell,” it does not represent sheol, because both by dictionary definition and by colloquial usage “hell” means the place of future punishment.

Sheol has no such meaning, but denotes the present state of death. “The grave” is, therefore, a far more suitable translation, because it visibly suggests to us what is invisible to the mind, viz., the state of death. It must, necessarily, be misleading to the English reader to see the former put to represent the latter.

The student will find that “THE grave,” taken literally as well as figuratively, will meet all the requirements of the Hebrew sheol: not that sheol means so much specifically “A grave,” as generically, but “THE grave …”

Sheol therefore means the state of death; or the state of the dead, of which the grave is a tangible evidence. … It may be represented by a coined word, “Gravedom,” as meaning the dominion or power of the grave.

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
The Salvation of All
© 2005-2010

What the Scriptures Actually Teach Us About the Ages (aiōns) of God

February 20, 2010

The Ages (aiōns) Have a Beginning

Hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, Whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by Whom also He made the worlds [aiōn] (Hebrews 1:2).

But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world [aiōn] unto our glory (I Corinthians 2:7).

Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His Own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world [aiōnios] began (II Timothy 1:9).

The Ages (aiōns) Have an End, Individually and Collectively

For then must He often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world [aiōn] hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself (Hebrews 9:26).

Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world [aiōn] are come (I Corinthians 10:11).

And as He sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world [aiōn]? (Matthew 24:3).

How Many Ages (aiōns) Are There?

We can acquire a basic grasp of the number of ages related to God’s dealings with man by considering the three basic categories of time: past, present and future. Let’s consider three verses that will help us in these three areas of time.

In the Past:

Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages [aiōn] and from generations, but now is made manifest to His saints (Colossians 1:26).

In the Present:

Who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world [aiōn], according to the will of God and our Father (Galatians 1:4).

In the Future:

That in the ages [aiōn] to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:7).

In these three verses we have a minimum of five ages indicated:

In Colossians 1:26 we have “ages” in the plural form, speaking in the past tense, indicating at least two former ages.

In Galatians 1:4 we have “world” in the singular form, a reference to the present age.

In Ephesians 2:7, again we have “ages” in the plural form, speaking in the future tense, indicating at least two upcoming ages.

This is a minimum total of five.


In the Scriptures the words translated as “for ever,” “eternal” and “everlasting” cannot possibly mean “endless.”

(1) If so, how could aiōn ever be in the plural, as in the repeated translation of “for ever and ever”? If “for ever” means “eternity,” what does “for ever and ever” mean?

(2) If so, how could aiōn ever be spoken of as having an end, as in the repeated use of “the end of the aiōn”? If aiōn means “eternity” how does it come to and end?

The basic concept of aiōn does not convey the religious system’s imposed definition of “without end.” A clear understanding of scriptural words, defined by the Scriptures themselves, is always the best remedy to the traditional bondage of the mind by the doctrines of men. The Scriptures should be translated in such a way that they maintain the clarity of their meaning.

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
The Salvation of All
© 2005-2010

The Religious Concept of “Eternal”

February 19, 2010

Interestingly enough, our English word “eternal” comes from the Latin æternus which means, literally, “lasting for an age” (Walter Skeat, The Concise Dictionary of English Etymology, 1882). This is confirmed by many etymological sources:

lasting for an age – John Kennedy, Word Stems: A Dictionary, 1996, page 128.

age – Robert K. Barnhart, Barnhart’s Concise Dictionary of Etymology, 1995, page 254.

age – Ernest Weekly, An Etymological Dictionary of Modern English, 1967, page 526.

Somewhere along the way the meaning of the word “eternal” took on its modern religious concept. “Eternal” has come to mean “endless.” This definition is purely religious, rooted in Greek philosophy.

The Testimony of Others

We are not alone in coming to see the important scriptural meaning of “for ever,” “eternal” and “everlasting.” Consider the testimony of others concerning the current concept of “endless” as related to “eternity:”

No doubt it was right at one time to translate æonial by eternal, and would be right again could we reinstate the original significance of the word: for, strangely enough, the word “eternal” originally meant age-long. – Samuel Cox, Salvator Mundi, or Is Christ the Saviour of All Men? 2008, Classic Reprint Press, page 88.

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 use 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. – G. Campbell Morgan, God’s Methods with Men, page 185.

Eternity is not a Biblical theme … What we have to learn is that the Bible does not speak of eternity. It is not written to tell us of eternity. Such a consideration is entirely outside the scope of revelation. – Charles H. Welch, An Alphabetical Analysis, Vol. 1, p. 279, 52.

“Aion” … is a period of longer or shorter duration, having a beginning and an end, and complete in itself … The word always carries the notion of time, and not of eternity. It always means a period of time. Otherwise it would be impossible to account for the plural, or for such qualifying expressions as this age, or the age to come. It does not mean something endless or everlasting … The adjective “aionios” in like manner carries the idea of time. Neither the noun nor the adjective, in themselves, carry the sense of endless or everlasting … Words which are habitually applied to things temporal or material cannot carry in themselves the sense of endlessness. Even when applied to God, we are not forced to render “aionios” everlasting. Of course the life of God is endless; but the question is whether, in describing God as “aionios” it was intended to describe the duration of His being, or whether some different and larger idea was not contemplated. – Marvin Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament, Vol. IV, p. 59.

That “aiónion” does not mean endless or eternal, may appear from considering that no adjective can have a greater force than the noun from which it is derived. If “aión” means age (which none either will or can deny) then “aiónion” must mean age-lasting, or duration through the age or ages to which the thing spoken of relates. – Nathaniel Scarlett (1798), Evangelical Magazine and Gospel Advocate, A.B. Grosh, editor; Vol. VIII, No. 10; October 6, 1837, page 315.

Since “aion” meant “age,” “aionios” means, properly, “belonging to an age,” or “age-long,” and anyone who asserts that it must mean “endless” defends a position which even Augustine practically abandoned twelve centuries ago. – Frederic William Farrar, Mercy and Judgment, page 378.

The Bible hardly speaks of eternity in a philosophical sense of infinite duration without beginning or end. The Hebrew word “olam” … in contexts where it is traditionally translated “forever,” means, in itself, no more than “for an indefinitely long period.” … In the New Testament, “aion” is used as the equivalent of “olam.” – Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Bible.

The Old Testament and the New Testament are not acquainted with the conception of eternity as timelessness. The Old Testament 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 Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible. Vol. IV, p. 643.

There is no word either in the Old Testament Hebrew or in the New Testament Greek to express the abstract idea of eternity … “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. – Hasting’s Dictionary of the New Testament, Vol. III, pp. 369, 370.

The word by itself, whether adjective or substantive, never means endless. – Frederic William Farrar, The Wider Hope (1890).

The conception of eternity, in the Semitic languages, is that of a long duration and series of ages. – J.S. Blunt, Dictionary of Theology.

The word “aion” is never used in Scripture, or anywhere else, in the sense of endlessness (vulgarly called eternity, it always meant, both in Scripture and out, a period of time); else how could it have a plural – how could you talk of the æons and æons of æons as the Scripture does? – Charles Kingsley (1857), Endless Torments Unscriptural.

Aion”means “an age,” a limited period, whether long or short, though often of indefinite length; and the adjective “aionios” means “of the age,” “agelong,” “aeonian,” and never “everlasting” (of its own proper force). It is true that it may be applied as an epithet to things that are endless, but the idea of endlessness in all such cases comes not from the epithet, but only because it is inherent in the object to which the epithet is applied, as in the case of God. – Thomas Allin, Christ Triumphant.


The single most commonly used English word that represents the meaning of aiōn is “age.” Twice the King James Version translators used the word “ages” to translate aiōn.

That in the ages [aiōn] to come He might shew the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:7).

Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages [aiōn] and from generations, but now is made manifest to His saints (Colossians 1:26).

Etymologically, the words “age” and “eternal” are from the same source. This can be verified by checking any dictionary on word origins. As an example, Eric Partridge in his work, Origins: A Short Etymological Dictionary of Modern English (1983), has the following listed under “Eternal” – “See Age.

Our English word “age” best represents the concept of the word aiōn in the Divine plan. When God uses aiōn in reference to His workings, He communicates the idea of “age” (or “eon”). Or, in the case of aiōnios it would be “age-lasting,” but once again the “age” in reference must be qualified by usage within the context.

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
The Salvation of All
© 2005-2010

Our Everyday Usage of the Word “Forever”

February 18, 2010

Modern Usage of “Forever”

It is indeed interesting to see the wide range of time periods that “forever” can cover. It all depends upon the usage of the word – the context in which it is set. Remarkably this is exactly the way have come to use “for ever” in our own daily speech. For example, we might hear someone say,

I could not believe how many people were at the grocery store. I was in the checkout line forever.

I will be thirty next month, and I still have not found a mate. I have been looking for a wife forever.

I’ll be able to retire in two years. It won’t come quick enough for me; I have been working here in this factory forever.

This bedroom suite has been in our family forever.

In none of these examples do we convey the meaning of time as being “without end.” In fact, in each of these examples we may determine by the context of usage an estimate of the duration of time.

In the first example, we may expect that someone could spend 5 to 10 minutes or so in line. That might be the context of the usage of “forever.”

In the second example, one might expect that the young man has been seeking a wife for ten years or so.

In the next example, we might expect that the soon-to-be retiree has worked at the factory for twenty, thirty, or even forty years.

Then in our last example, one might expect that forever could refer to a number of generations, maybe even a hundred or possibly two hundred years.

In other words, in each case the usage of “forever” in its context would determine its meaning. We would not expect someone to stand in a checkout line for twenty, thirty, or forty years. Neither would we expect the bedroom suite to have been in the family for 5 to 10 minutes.

Yet by our own daily usage of the word “forever,” we could mean any one of these expansive ranges of meanings. Usage and context always determine meaning.

“Forever” does not carry a scriptural meaning of “without end.” The only time “forever” means “without end” is when it comes to religious language.

Scriptural Usage of “Aiōn”

In this section we shall see verses where the Greek words aiōn and aiōnios are translated. We have selected King James Version verses that clearly demonstrate these Greek words cannot possibly mean “endless” or “unending.”

He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world [aiōn], and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful (Matthew 13:22).

The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world [aiōn]; and the reapers are the angels (Matthew 13:39).

As He spake by the mouth of His holy prophets, which have been since the world [aiōn] began (Luke 1:70).

And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world [aiōn] are in their generation wiser than the children of light (Luke 16:8).

Since the world [aiōn] began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind (John 9:32).

Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world [aiōnios] began (Romans 16:25).

Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world [aiōn] standeth, lest I make my brother to offend (I Corinthians 8:13).

Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world [aiōn] are come (I Corinthians 10:11).

That in the ages [aiōn] to come He might shew the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:7).

Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages [aiōn] and from generations, but now is made manifest to His saints (Colossians 1:26).

Charge them that are rich in this world [aiōn], that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, Who giveth us richly all things to enjoy (I Timothy 6:17).

Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world [aiōnios] began (II Timothy 1:9).

In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world [aiōnios] began (Titus 1:2).

But unto the Son He saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever [aiōn] and ever [aiōn]: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of Thy kingdom” (Hebrews 1:8).

For then must He often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world [aiōn] hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (Hebrews 9:26).

Sodom and Gomorrha are said to be suffering the vengeance of eternal [aiōnios] fire:

Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal [aiōnios] fire” (Jude 1:7).

Yet we know this “eternal fire” is not “endless” because God has promised their own future restoration, at the time when He restores Israel!

When thy sisters, Sodom and her daughters, shall return to their former estate, and Samaria and her daughters shall return to their former estate, then thou and thy daughters shall return to your former estate” (Ezekiel 16:55).

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
The Salvation of All
© 2005-2010

aiōn: Etymology and Definition

February 17, 2010

Now let’s take a closer look at the Greek word ain. We will look at its etymology and definition.


Etymology gives no warrant for applying the idea of eternity to the word … We find no reason in its etymology for giving it the sense of endless duration. – J.W. Hanson, The Greek Word Aion, 1875, pp. 10, 11

It must be admitted 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 New Testament to periods of time that have had both a beginning and ending. – Charles John Ellicott, Ellicott’s Commentary on the Whole Bible.


The time of life. – Hesychius (A.D. 400-600)

An interval denoting time. – Theodoret (A.D. 300-400)

Properly, an age. –Strong’s Greek Lexicon #G165

Primarily signifies time, in the sense of age, or generation. – International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, p. 1010

An age. – W.E. Vine, Vine’s Expository Dictionary

A period of time related to the subject. Charles J. Wilhelm, Biblical Dyslexia, 2004, p. 80

Any space of time whether longer or shorter, past, present or future, to be determined by the persons or things spoken of, and the scope of the subjects; the life or age of man. Aionios, a definite and long period of time, that is, a long enduring, but still definite period of time. – John Schleusner, Novus Thesaurus Philologico-Criticus, 1829

The life that hastes away in the breathing of our breath, life as transitory; then the course of life, time of life, and general life in its temporal form, then, the space of human life, an age. – E.W. Bullinger, A Critical Lexicon and Concordance

A period of existence; one’s lifetime; life; an age; a generation; a long space of time. A space of time clearly defined and marked out; an era, epoch, age, period or dispensation. – Liddell and Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon

Time; space of time; life time and life; the ordinary period of man’s life; the age of man; man’s estate; a long period of time. – James Donnegan, A New Greek and English Lexicon, 1839

A space of time, as a lifetime, generation, period of history, an indefinitely long period. – Abbott-Smith, Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
The Salvation of All
© 2005-2010

The “Forever” Family of Words

February 16, 2010

The principle that we looked at last time does not apply just to “for ever,” but to an entire family of English words used in Bible translation. Our English words “eternal” and “everlasting” are among those in this family. These words also often carry with them the religious idea of “unending.”

“Eternal” and “everlasting” are but alternate words used to translate the Hebrew or Greek words that have also been translated “for ever.” So just as “for ever” does not carry the idea of “endlessness,” neither do “eternal” or “everlasting.”

The Hebrew Word

The Hebrew word used to translate “for ever” is  ‛ôlâm  ‛ôlâm (o-lawm’, o-lawm’). It is also translated in the King James Version by the following English words:

any time (Leviticus 25:32).
of old (Deuteronomy 32:7).
old time (Joshua 24:2).
ancient times (Psalms 77:5).
long (Ecclesiastes 12:5).

The Greek Word

The Greek word aiōn (and its forms) is the word used to translate “for ever,” “eternal,” and “everlasting.” This word does not have as its meaning “endless duration” as our religious traditions have taught us; rather it denotes a limited duration, an interval of time. Thus, it is also used to translate our English words “ages,” or “world.”

The Greek noun aiōn is used 128 times. It is translated in the King James Version as follows:

Forever, Eternal and Everlasting (87 times)
Ages (2 times)
Course (1 times)
Eternal (2 times)
Ever (72 times)
Evermore (4 times)
Never (7 times)
World (40 times

The Greek adjective aiōnios is used 72 times in the King James Version. It is translated as follows:

Eternal (43 times)
Ever (1 times)
Everlasting (25 times)
World (3 times)

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
The Salvation of All
© 2005-2010


February 15, 2010

Sometimes we are confident that we know the meaning of words and terms. Their definitions seem so fixed and settled in our minds. For instance, what does “forever” actually mean? Are we sure we know? Just how long is “forever?”

At our first look into the subject, “forever” surely would seem to be something about which we could be absolute; but as we look closely at the Scriptures, we will be amazed to find that our definition is not scriptural. We have been misled by faulty translation.

Words are simply vehicles to communicate ideas of understanding. As one author clearly has written,

In all languages, it is usage that determines meaning … Since usage always determines meaning, biblical usage, certainly, always determines biblical meaning.[1]

Actual scriptural usage of “for ever” will clearly demonstrate it cannot carry the religious meaning of “unending” that we have been brought up to accept. Let’s look at a few examples of the usage of “for ever” where the scriptural meaning obviously cannot mean “without end.”

Jonah and the Whale

The first passage we shall look at is a reference to how long Jonah was in the belly of the whale.

I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever: yet have You brought up my life from corruption, O Lord my God (Jonah 2:6).

The words “for ever” are here translated in reference to his ordeal, but he clearly defines the length of only three days and three nights as “for ever”:

Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights (Jonah 1:17).

The Lord Jesus confirmed the duration of “for ever” as three days and three nights.

For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth (Matthew 12:40).

The usage of “for ever” in Jonah 2:6 simply cannot carry the meaning of “unending” or “eternal.”

The Servant

The next passage we shall consider is in reference to how long a willing servant would be indentured to his master.

Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him for ever (Exodus 21:6).

Here, “for ever” could not possibly have extended past the servant’s lifespan. The usage of “for ever” in Exodus 21:6 simply cannot carry the sense of “unending” or “eternal.”

Solomon’s Temple

Another example we see of the translation of “for ever” is related to Solomon’s Temple. After it was dedicated, the Lord said He would put His name there “for ever.”

And the Lord said unto him, “I have heard your prayer and your supplication, that you have made before Me: I have hallowed this house, which you have built, to put My name there for ever” (I Kings 9:3).

Interestingly, Solomon’s Temple did not stand “eternally,” it stood only for a period of about 400 years.

Thus, the translation of “for ever” in I Kings 9:3 simply cannot carry the definition of “unending” or “eternal” either.

Ten Generations

In the following passage, the word translated “for ever” is clearly defined as ten generations:

An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord; even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of the Lord for ever (Deuteronomy 23:3).

The translation of “for ever” here in Deuteronomy 23:3 simply cannot carry the definition of “unending” either, since it has been set by the context for a period of ten generations.

“For Ever … Until”

The last example we will consider is found in the book of Isaiah.

… The forts and towers shall be for dens for ever … until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness is a fruitful field, and the fruitful field is counted for a forest (Isaiah 32:14-15).

In this prophecy, this “for ever” condition would remain “until” a time when the Spirit would be poured out. Thus again, the translation of “for ever” here, as in the other passages we have considered, simply cannot carry the meaning of “unending” or “eternal.”

Loyal Hurley has noted the significance of “for ever” in the first three passages:

Here is something that ought to be clear to any intelligent, honest man. A word that is used to mean, in one case, three days and nights, in another case, a man’s lifetime, and in still another, a period of about four centuries, surely does not mean unending or eternal – no matter what English word is used to translate it. Usage determines meaning.[2]

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
The Salvation of All
© 2005-2010

[1]Loyal Hurley, The Outcome of Infinite Grace, Bible Student’s Press, 2007.

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