THE AGES OF THE AGES
The best way to arrive at the true meaning of a word is to study carefully the way it has been used. If we are to study a Greek word, we must go to the Greek text and not to a translation, nor to a definition which has been derived from an interpretative translation. If, in the original text, the word appears in different forms, surely these forms must have some special significance. A singular form cannot have the same meaning as the plural. Since both forms are used they should be distinguished when they are translated. Yet in certain places the singular form is translated by exactly the same words as the plural form and thereby the true import of the words is hidden. For example, compare the following passages: Heb. 1:8 Your throne, O God, is forever and ever (Gr: for the aion of the aion); Rev. 1:6 To Him be glory ... for ever and ever (Gr: for the aions of the aions); Eph. 3:21 Unto all generations for ever and ever (Gr: for the aion of the aions). In I Cor. 10:11 we have the expression, "The ends of the aions." In Heb. 9:26 we have "The end of the aions." How can a period that is definitely said to come to an end be endless? How can a group of such periods, each said to come to an end, be forever?
I am aware that some people will oppose us on the grounds that the Greeks of today use the phrase "the aions of the aions" meaning eternal, everlasting. A Greek gentleman told me several years ago that "the ages of the ages" is how they express eternity in Greek, and that when the book of Revelation says "and the smoke of their torment ascends up to the ages of the ages" (Rev. 14:11) it means FOREVER. Ah, that sounds convincing, conclusive, final and unanswerable, does it not? But precious friend of mine, in studying Bible language we are studying ANCIENT GREEK, not MODERN. The Greek language in two thousand years has changed to such an extent that the ancient tongue is altogether unintelligible to a modern Greek. The fact is, for over a thousand years, up till the year A.D. 1453, Greek was almost unknown or forgotten in most of Europe. Even in Italy, which formerly had been dominated by Greek, it became almost unknown. Ancient Greek has been a dead language for 1500 years! Anyone who knows anything at all will at once see the utter ridiculousness of this form of argument. Ancient and modern Greek are as different as day and night. As well might we teach our children the English of 2,000 years ago, and then expect them to be proficient in modern English, as to try to apply modern meanings to ancient Greek. The older the English, the more unintelligible it becomes. The spelling changes, word meanings change, sentence structure changes, until finally one is hopelessly lost in a morass of indecipherable hieroglyphics. Even in the four centuries since the translation of the King James Bible, what changes have taken placer "Thee" and "thou" have been replaced by the more familiar "you" and are no longer used except in classical literature and religion. "Let" meant to "restrain or prevent" in King James' day; now the word means exactly the opposite, to "permit or allow"! So with Greek. Ancient Greek is a dead language, while modern Greek is a living language, with about as much similarity as there is between German and English.
It was the false doctrines of the apostate Greek Orthodox Church that caused the meaning eternal to be placed upon the modern Greek phrase "the ages of the ages." And don't think for one moment, dear friend, that religion doesn't influence language! The English word "hell" once meant "a dark hidden place" but Church dogma has through the years caused the word to take on an altogether different connotation. Word meanings do change! And religious dogma has effected many such changes!
So usage is the fundamental key to unlocking the meanings of ancient Greek words. That the expression "the ages of the ages" cannot mean an endless succession of ages, or eternity, is clearly revealed by comparing Rev. 11:15 with I Cor. 15:24-28. In Rev. 11:15 our Lord is said, in the Greek text, to reign "for the ages of the ages" but in I Cor. 15 His reign is said to end. He does not reign "for ever and ever" though He does reign "for the ages of the ages." As the Son, God reigns unto the ages of the ages through a process of subjecting, subduing all things unto Himself. When that work is completed and there is nothing more in all God's vast universe to subdue and reconcile unto Himself, God reigns no longer as the Son, but as Father He shall finally and eternally be ALL IN ALL.
Endlessness is expressed in the Scriptures by the simple phrase "no end" (Lk. 1:33; Dan. 7:14; Isa. 9:7). The thought of permanence is also expressed in Heb. 7:16, "the power of an endless (or indissoluble) life," and in I Pet. 1:4, "an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fades not away." Now had the Holy Spirit wished to indicate true unendingness or true eternity as the time issue in the punishment and suffering of the lost, He could have used the word that He used in Rom. 1:20 to describe God's "eternal power and Godhead, " literally God's "perpetual" or "imperceptable" power and Godhead, one being unable to see to the end of it! You see, had the Holy Spirit wanted to convey unendingness in reference to the punishment of the enemies of God, He could have used words that plainly denoted that, rather than the words "to the age...... to the ages," "to the age of the ages "to the ages of the ages, " etc., all which plainly denote SPANS OF TIME.
"The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of His indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: and the smoke of their torment ascends up for ever and ever (to the ages of the ages): and they have no rest DAY NOR NIGHT, who worship the beast..." (Rev. 14:10-11). Notice, dear reader, that these are tormented DAY AND NIGHT unto the ages of the ages and have no rest DAY NOR NIGHT. The very terms day and night and for ever and ever prove beyond question that we are still dealing with the realm of time. The expression for ever and ever is misleading and throws us into confusion, for, while on one hand eternity is indicated, on the other hand time is indicated by the use of the words day and night. There is no day nor night in eternity! Both are creatures of time. There is no way of knowing how long a time this will be, but since it unquestionably deals with day and night and ages, it does therefore belong to time and no endeavor must be made to equate it with eternity. These words are solemn and awful, and we have no desire but to acknowledge both the wicked deeds and the dreadful and fearful doom of those who are so justly condemned. I have no desire to spend even one day under the terrible hand of God's severity! But to refer to these words as bespeaking eternal, endless, hopeless, and merciless torture is to invite the fearful curse of those who "add to the words of this book" (Rev. 22:18).
Once we understand that AION and all the compounds of that word denote TIME, how clear everything becomes! And how ridiculous the ignorant pratings of men! In an effort to harmonize the Scriptures with the false doctrines of the apostate Church, the translators rendered "the ages of the ages" as "for ever and ever." This one little mistake once and for all exposes their folly. Even in English we can see that "for ever" cannot be endless if "and ever" may be added to it. Eternity cannot be added to! Only time may be compounded. Eternity is absolute timelessness. Eternity is without either beginning or end. There cannot be more than one eternity. You cannot add a second eternity on to a first eternity. Forever in English means "for eternity; always; perpetually; endlessly." Now if "for ever" is "eternity" how can you add "and ever," attaching ANOTHER ETERNITY to an already existing eternity? That isn't even correct English grammar! Ah - but ages are time and time, beloved, can be added to! When the Greek speaks of "the ages of the ages" it is speaking of AGGREGATED PERIODS OF TIME - not eternity! And you cannot get eternity by compounding all the time periods of the past and the future, for time began and time ends. The ages and all the time and times combined do not equal eternity. There simply is no such thing as "the endless ages of eternity" as the preachers love to say, for the phrase is a complete contradiction of itself. No one who is sane and reasonable can maintain otherwise. To do so is to contradict all known facts and to contradict God's own Word.
No other book that was ever written can be compared to the Bible, which is the Word of God. I am a believer in the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures, and I am not a believer in the folly of uninformed and unenlightened men who by ignorance of the facts and misinformation try with puny human reasoning to tear it apart. There are a great many people who forget their scholarship, however, if ever they had any, and contend for the King James version even when it is manifestly wrong. One thing I should like to say in passing is, that while the Bible is inspired in its origin, you have to be exceedingly careful of two things: FIRST, THAT YOU HAVE THE ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT; AND THE SECOND, THAT YOU HAVE A GOOD TRANSLATION. Original manuscripts are inspired, but translations are not. To hear some people talk you would think that the good old King James Bible was the one Paul preached from!
It is interesting to note that the word "Easter" appears one time in the King James version in Acts 12:4. "And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people." Here Easter is translated from the Greek PASCHA which appears twenty-eight other places in the New Testament, and in all of those instances is translated "Passover." The Greek PASCHA comes from the Hebrew PASACH which means to pass, to leap, or skip over. We see from this that the English word "Passover" is the correct meaning of the original. How then did the translators of the King James version come up with Easter? Easter, according to Webster's New World Dictionary, is from "Eastre," the ancient Anglo Saxon GODDESS OF THE DAWN - her festival being in the spring of the year. And "Eastre" is the Anglo Saxon form of the Babylonian goddess "Ishtar" the pagan Queen of Heaven! Hundreds of years after Christ the Romish Church, as a compromise with the pagan converts, adopted the pagan rites and customs associated with the worship of Ishtar into the Church as a celebration of the resurrection of Christ - and called that celebration EASTER! Naturally, Easter is celebrated at approximately the same time as ancient Israel celebrated their Passover. But the point is - because of deeply entrenched apostate religious practice, the translators of the King James Bible mis-translated the Scripture according to CHURCH TRADITION instead of TRUTH! We must never forget that the King James version was translated under the auspices of a STATE CHURCH, which Church was even at that time persecuting, torturing and martyring humble followers of Jesus who dared to resist and denounce its apostasy and shame.
It lets in light on the attitude of the translators of King James' Bible to know, as stated in the Bible helps of Bagster's edition, that King James instructed the men who gave us our Authorized Version, "To sanction no innovation that would disturb the orthodoxy or peace of the Church." It is said that, "The translators were careful in the main to respect the rules laid down by the king." What a vast difference it would have made in our thinking today had these translators followed consistently and accurately the Hebrew and Greek texts, instead of conforming to the heresies of the mother of harlots! Especially where "eternity" THE AGE OF THE AGES and the "ages" are concerned!
Thus, the translators were at the disadvantage of never being able to say or write anything that conflicted with the accepted belief of the While the Scriptures speak of an age, and the ages, and the ages of nominal Church, its leaders or the ruling element of the nation. In support of this I would give you a quotation from page seven of the Emphatic Diaglott as follows, concerning the King James version: according to Dr. Gell, it was wrested and partial, and only adapted to one sect; but he imputes this, not to the translators, but to those who employed them, for even some of the translators complained that they could not follow their own judgment in the matter, but were restrained by reasons of State." Little wonder, then, that we have eternal damnation taught in the King James Bible!