By Frank Neil
"May I plead with those who
seek to teach the truth of the eons to avoid reasoning of all kinds? We do not
need its aid. Error must depend on torturous processes of illogical minds in
order to defend itself. Truth is direct. Reason is indirect. Error appeals to
unreasonable deduction founded on prejudice, not facts. Reason robs us of
God's revelation. If aion sometimes means a limited and sometimes an,
unlimited time, then we need a pope, or a church, or human tradition to tell
us what it means in each case, and divine inspiration vanishes, and is
replaced by corrupt human mentality. If our critics had a sound mind, they
would see that they also are modernists, denying God's revelation, and
substituting man's imagination." (A.E.K. in Unsearchable Riches, Vol.
XXVII, page 175)
HAS MANY ASPECTS
said, as long as no one
had asked him what time was, he felt he knew; but if someone asked him,
then he did not know how to tell them, the reason being that
and chronos all have something to do with time. But what is
time? Is it always the same everywhere?
The planet Earth makes a diurnal revolution each
twenty-four hours, and passes once around the sun every 3651/4 days. Thus on the
planet Earth a man would be sixty years of age after sixty revolutions of the
earth about the sun. Yet on the planet Jupiter our man of sixty would be
approximately five years of age since Jupiter takes almost twelve years to make
one revolution. But on the planet Uranus our man of sixty would have to wait
twenty-four years more before he would be even one year old, since Uranus takes
eighty-four of our years to make one revolution. If sixty earth years are the
equivalent of five Jupiter years, and are less than one Uranus year, we will
agree with Peter that "one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a
thousand years as one day" (2 Peter 3:8).
If Augustine's problem was not puzzling enough,
what Hippocrates said may puzzle even more. Can you make out what he meant when
he said, "Time kairos is that in which time chronos
exists; but time chronos does not allow for much time
Now that you have had some time to think about
time, it is time for us to indicate what he was saying. You will have noticed
that he was using two different words for time. Chronos is clock-time,
what is opportune within measured moments of clock-time.
In our Keyword Concordance chronos or time
is defined as duration (in its extent Rom.16:25, or a particular point
in its course Matt.2:7, or in the sense of delay Rev.10:6; page 305). Kairos
or season is defined as "a distinct portion of time having special
characteristics, an appointed time, an
era, an occasion,
a period" (page 261).
Time is asymmetrical. It does not run backward,
only forward, for He is saying, "In a season kairo acceptable I
reply to You, And in a day of salvation I help you." Paul drives home the
salient point of the event-meaning occasion (kairos) in which
opportunities are afforded within the moment of clock-time
"Lo! Now is a most acceptable era kairos! Lo! Now is a day of
salvation!" (2 Cor.6:2).
The next step will take us from the temporary
(pros-kairon) or limited period of time to
eonian time, the
longest segment of time known in the Scriptures. Hence an understanding of the eons
will enable us to see the exquisite relation between what is "being
observed," which is temporary, and what is "not being
observed," which is eonian (2 Cor.4:18). Further, by
distinguishing between the eonian and the
ultimate, we will
observe how they merge to the eye of faith as each moment of
time is seen to contribute to His ultimate.
The old-fashioned hand-held parlor stereopticon
may be used as an illustration. There were two pictures side by side on one
card. By sliding the card holder along the arm to which the card was attached,
the observer reached a point where the double pictures dissolved into a single
view with a three-dimensional depth. A like effect may be arrived at by seeing
the eonian and the ultimate merge, thus allowing the viewer a stereoptical depth
perception of God's eonian purpose.
This outcome of the God-directed historical
process may be unwittingly reflected in the dome of the United States Capitol of
Washington, D.C., where we find this inscription. "One God, one Law, one
element, and one far-off Divine event to which the whole creation moves."
consequence of the royal commands the translators of the AV tended to be too
complaisant and compliant to the king, hence they rendered such words as Hades
and Gehenna wrongly as
hell, aion and
aionios improperly as
eternal, everlasting. This work was done at a time when the exercise of
genuine scholarship was difficult, if not impossible, and thus their theological
bias impelled the translators to incorporate into their version words which have
no warrant in the Greek, hence no counterpart in the thought and truth of the
The English Revisers were under a similar handicap
and, as has been said by others, the true translation is not to be found in the
text but in the margin. Much more could be said in this vein, and said in sorrow
and not in spite, since good men succumbed to pressure, thus producing a work
below their abilities. The RV is a vast improvement over the AV, yet not as good
as the text and the translators could have made it. It has been well said that
"the Greek can draw a clear line where other languages can only make a
We are particularly perturbed at the treatment by
the AV and RV of the key words aion and
aionion, or eon
and eonian. The margin of the AV and RV admit that eon denotes
age. If, however, it also means "world," why should the
plural be rendered "forever," and the adjective
"everlasting"? It is surely manifest that any word should carry
substantially the same central significance in all of its modifications. Why
render the noun "world" in the text and age in the margin? Why render
"forever and ever" in the text and
age of ages in the margin?
Why render the adjective "eternal" and "everlasting"? Is
this a faithful translation, or is it theological proclivity? A word that can
mean anything means nothing.
One particular error that is indefensible is the
phrase "forever and ever." If "forever" means endlessly, the
addition of "and ever" is tautological and meaningless. If, however,
"forever" does not carry that connotation, then the additional
"and ever" cannot impart such a meaning. This rendering is a
theological contrivance which is defendable neither on linguistic nor
philological grounds. Since the phrase contains two plural nouns, it should be
translated ages of ages, or eons of eons.
We shall consult the Scriptures of the New
Testament for the occurrences of eon, singular and plural, and by a
careful canvass of the context be enabled to categorize as follows: what was
said to be before the eons, what is said as to the making of the eons, what
should be the bare minimum number of them to square with what is said of them,
what their relationship is to the word world, what is said as to their
consummation and conclusion, and how endlessness is set forth in His Word. Our
assignment is one which only God Himself can carry out: how to pull down
reasonings without pulling down the reasoner (2 Cor.10:4,5).
SHOULD DEFINE THEIR
there are those who would inveigh against our attempt to expose what objectors
claim are "assured results," "sacrosanct deductions," or at
best "innocent archaisms," we respectfully dissent. We would rather
encourage those who fear God more than man to give themselves to this task of
grasping God's tremendous truth enshrined within the words under study, exactly
as given by Him and as meant by
His usage of them.
When we have finished our study, we shall find
ourselves able to believe and to explain these words. Hence we feel it is
incumbent upon the objectors to explain: What do the following inspired
expressions found in the Original mean?
|The end of the eon (Matt.24:3)
The ends of the eons (1 Cor.10:11)
The end of the eons (Heb.9:26)
The eon of the eons (Eph.3:21)
The eons of the eons (Rev.11:15)
renderings "forever" and "forever and ever" do not
the meaning of these words. Instead, they obfuscate and
inspired meaning of the terms. Scholars of Hebrew and Greek should know that
there is no word in these languages to correspond to our word
"eternal." The terms "for ever," "eternal," etc.,
are commonly used among us to mean "absolutely unending." But this
cannot be the case in the following AV renderings: Jonah was in the sea for ever
(three days) 2:6; a slave serves for ever (his lifetime) Exodus 21:6; the Temple
stands for ever (400 years) 1 Kings 9:3.
Examples of Scripture usage, but theological
rendering, are too many to list. But these may suffice and serve to set the
stage for the needed extensive study of this crucial key word. The adjective
is derived from the noun eon. As the noun eon denotes an age
of limited duration, so the adjective eonian must mean a limited period
corresponding to it.
Gehazi's leprosy was to last "for ever,"
yet it ended at his death (2 Kings 5:27). The land of Canaan was to be an
"everlasting" possession to the Jews, yet they were dispossessed from
occupancy for centuries (Gen.17:8; 48:4). The priesthood of Aaron was
"eternal" (Num.25:13), yet it has been abrogated. The hills are
"everlasting" (Gen.49:26), yet they are to be brought low.
When we shall have finished the parts in this
series of studies on this critical concept, we shall better know what to do with
all these passages, and perceive how they are fitted into His divine calendar
under the three heavens and earths already studied (UNSEARCHABLE RICHES, vol. LIX, pages 133-141).
EONS IN GOD'S WORD
truth concerning the eons, as articulated in God's Word, is of such momentous
import that any attempt to reproduce the terminology of the Original becomes
awesome in its responsibilities. No furtive finger should intrude, no vagrant
thought invade; no theological bias should warp, no mind not sharply honed
should be allowed to hinder any student who desires only to know what God says
in His Word--exactly, accurately, literally.
The truth concerning the part the purpose of
the eons plays when it is seen in its inspired context, opens to our minds
useful paths of seldom traversed truth. But the place of the eons in God's
purpose has hitherto been concealed from us by faulty translations. The
student who possesses a concordance and knows how to use it can get at the
facts, but the reader of our revered King James or Authorized Version is left to
the mercy of the translators. It was years before Dwight L. Moody discovered the
value of the concordance as a tool. It afterwards became one of his three most
prized possessions: his Bible, his concordance and his topical textbook. Let us
see what answers we get from the ANALYTICAL CONCORDANCE
TO THE BIBLE, by Robert
Young (22nd American Edition, Revised).
Our problem (which was posed for us in
UNSEARCHABLE RICHES, vol. LIX, page 93) is as follows: We wish to untangle the
apparent contradiction between "end of the world" (Matt.24:3) and
"world without end" (Eph.3:21). Since there can be no actual
contradiction in God's inspired Original, we know that this is only an apparent
discrepancy. Since we learn by doing, we will do well to follow the steps set
before us in this lesson.
TO DO IT THE HARD WAY
Young's concordance as a dictionary, we turn to "W" beginning on page
1073. Going down the third column looking for our reference under the keyword
WORLD, we find Matthew 24:3 under this heading: "6.
time, dispensation, aion." From this information we have learned that
"world" should be age in this passage.
But where is our other reference? We keep on
looking until we come to the second column on page 1074 where we find Ephesians
3:21 under "WORLD, (standeth, beginning of the, without end)". Farther
down we find: "5. Of the age of the ages, tou aionos ton aionon."
With this information our verse reads: throughout all ages, of the age of the
ages [instead of "world without end"].
Now we will have to check up on the term
"throughout all ages." By consulting the concordance on page 21,
column two, under the keyword AGES, we find that the first "ages" in
Ephesians 3:21 is geneai, generations. With this added information our
verse reads: throughout all generations of the age of the ages.
Confusing? No, we have come a long way toward
resolving our problem, though we have much more to look up and much more to
learn about this key concept to God's Divine calendar. Remember, "The
journey of a thousand miles begins with one step."
The student who uses this concordance (or Strong's
EXHAUSTIVE CONCORDANCE OF THE BIBLE, or Wigram's
ENGLISHMAN's GREEK CONCORDANCE
OF THE NEW TESTAMENT) will have the Greek letters transliterated for him; that
is, the Greek characters will be put into familiar English equivalents. We now
know that our Greek word in Matthew 24:3 and Ephesians 3:21 is aion.
Let us take the next step. The last page of the
words under "Z" is 1090. Then we find page 1 again, which begins an
"Index-Lexicon to the Old Testament," and on page 57 an
"Index-Lexicon to the New Testament." For the time being this is what
we want. Let us see what it can tell us that will help us.
Here we find all the Greek words of the New
Testament arranged alphabetically and spelled out according to the
transliterated manner mentioned before. On page 57, in the fifth column, we find
aion and listed under it (in alphabetical order) all the ways in which
this one Greek word is translated in the AV. The number following each rendering
tells us how many times it occurs. By turning up each of these words and looking
until we find our word aion, we shall have all of its occurrences.
Under aion on page 57 we also find aionios, the adjective. Let
us gather together what we know as of now.
age 2 eternal 42
beginning of the world 2 everlasting 25
course 1 for ever 1
world 32 etc. etc.
world began 1
aion [noun] aionios
age 2 eternal 42
beginning of the world 2 everlasting 25
course 1 for ever 1
world 32 etc. etc.
world began 1
information is invaluable to us for understanding other related and important
subjects. But it will do us little good if it remains only in the concordance.
It must be transferred to the margins of our Bible, unless -- that is -- we have
the latest CV. By turning up each passage and marking each as
or aionin, singular and plural, or as
aionios, adjective, and in the
combinations found in the Original, the student will learn what these words mean
by the way they are used.
TO DO IT THE SENSIBLE WAY
may do for the singular noun, and "ages" for the plural noun, but we
face a problem with the adjective. We can resort to the circumlocution of
"age-lasting" or "age-during," as some versions do, but we
shall have to add words not found in the text. The simplest solution is to
convert the Greek aion, aionon, and
aionios into the English
eon, of eons, and eonian. This eliminates the human element which tends to
intrude when translating. This is simply transliteration, which is what the
compilers of concordances and some translators have done with other words, such
as baptize, ecclesia, amen, hallelujah.
A feature of the CV which some fail to appreciate
and others applaud is the transliteration of aion to
to eonian. Thus the reader sees these controversial and much-disputed
words as nearly as possible as they are in the Original, hence he has the same
facilities as the scholar of Greek for understanding the exact meaning of these
Our Keyword Concordance of 1945, which is a
companion volume to the CV, has all the information on eon, eons and
categorized on just two pages (90 and 91). AV renderings (such as eternal,
everlasting, forever, world etc.) are also listed, alphabetically and
statistically. How much simpler this is, than the way we have been doing it,
digging it out of other concordances, which proved to be a cumbersome,
time-consuming, hard way. Using our CV and Keyword Concordance is a time-saving
and foolproof method; we will arrive at the same results, without losing our way
in the maze of deviant meanderings and discordant terminology in concordances
which reflect AV or RV vocabularies.
In the next segment of our study on this subject
we shall first demonstrate how the reader can add to the chart of the Three
Heavens and Earths which he has already made (UNSEARCHABLE RICHES, vol. LIX,
pages 133-141) by supplying evidence for the following:
Eons, what was said to be before they began;
Eons, have a beginning;
Eons, have an end, individually and collectively;
Eons, have a purpose and a King;
Eons, how many there are revealed in His Word;
Eons, how they are associated with the cosmos or
We shall approach the study of the usage and
meaning of these two words in their tandem relationship:
aion and kosmos,
or eon and world (Eph.2:2).
J. B. Smith, GREEK-ENGLISH CONCORDANCE TO THE NEW TESTAMENT, A Tabular
and Statistical Greek-English Concordance based on the King James Version with
an English-to-Greek Index (Scottsdale, Pennsylvania: Herald Press, 1955), pages
9 and 10, serial numbers 165a, 165b, 166, supply the following statistics.
For the noun aion, a total of 128 occurrences,
rendered: ever (71), world (38), never (6), evermore (4), age (2), eternal (2),
For the adjective aionios, a total of 71
occurrences, rendered: eternal (42), everlasting (25), the world began (2),
since the world began (1), for ever (1).
 Concordant Version, short for CONCORDANT LITERAL NEW TESTAMENT.