The “Forever” Family of Words

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

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