An Important Word Considered

There is but one Greek word beside aionios rendered everlasting, and applied to punishment, in the New Testament, and that is the word aidios found in Jude 6: "And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgement of the great day." This word is found in but one other place in the New Testament, viz. Rom. 1:20: "For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead."

Now it is admitted that this word among the Greeks had the sense of eternal, and should be understood as having that meaning wherever found, unless by express limitation it is shorn of its proper meaning. It is further admitted that had aidios occurred where aionios does, there would be no escape from the conclusion that the New Testament teaches Endless Punishment. It is further admitted that the word is here used in the exact sense of aionios, as is seen in the succeeding verse: "Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, 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 fire." That is to say, the "aidios" chains in verse 6 are "even as" durable as the aionion fire" in verse 7. Which word modifies the other?

1. The construction of the language shows that the latter word limits the former. The aidios chains are even as the aionion fire. As if one should say "I have been infinitely troubled, I have been vexed for an hour," or "He is an endless talker, he can talk five hours on a stretch." Now while "infinitely" and "endless" convey the sense of unlimited, they are both limited by what follows, as aidios, eternal, is limited by aionios, indefinitely long.

2. That this is the correct exegesis is evident from still another limitation of the word. "The angels - - - he hath reserved in everlasting chains UNTO the judgement of the great day." Had Jude said that the angels are held in aidios chains, and stopped there, not limiting the word, we should not dare deny that he taught their eternal imprisonment. But when he limits the duration by aionion and then expressly states that it is only unto a certain date, we understand that the imprisonment will terminate, even though we find applied to it a word that intrinsically signifies eternal duration, and that was used by the Greeks to convey the idea of eternity, and was attached to punishment by the Greek Jews of our Savior's times, to describe endless punishment, in which they were believers.

But observe, while this word aidios was in universal use among the Greek Jews of our Savior's day, to convey the idea of eternal duration, and was used by them to teach endless punishment, he never allowed himself to use it in connection with punishment, nor did any of his disciples but one, and he but once, and then carefully and expressly limited its meaning. Can demonstration go further than this to show that Jesus carefully avoided the phraseology by which his contemporaries described the doctrine of endless punishment? He never employed it. What ground then is there for saying that he adopted the language of his day on this subject? Their language was aidios timoria, endless torment. His language was aionion kolasin, age-lasting correction. They described unending ruin, he discipline, resulting in reformation.

1. Prideaux, Connection, Vol. III. Part ii. Book i.

2. "Etymologicum Lingus Grscs."

3. "Christian Examiner," Vol. X, p.42. He quotes the ancient Phavorinus as defining it thus: "The comprehension of many times or periods."

5. Christian Union.

7. Christian Union. A series of remarkable papers was published in the Christian Union in 1873-4, by Edward Beecher, D. D., on the "History of Future Retribution."

10. Christian Examiner, Vol. X. page 47.

11. Christian Union.

12. Lange's Ecclesiastes.

13. Christian Examiner, Vols. x, xi, and xii. Boston: Gray & Bowen.

16. Christian Union.

17. Theog 609.

18. Perss 263.

19. Supp.572, cited by Prof. Tayler Lewis.

21. Electra 1030.

26. Orestes, 596.

32. Timsus.

38. Quoting from Timsus Locrus.

42. Gen. 17, 7, 8, 13; 48, 4; 49, 26. Ex. 40, 15. Lev. 16, 34. Num. 25, 13. Ps. 24, 7. Hab. 3, 6.

43. Deut. 15, 17. I Sam. i,22; 27, 12. Lev. 25, 46. 2 Kings 5, 27. Job 41, 4. 1 Kings 1, 31. Neh. 2, 3. Dan. 2, 4. Exod. 14, 13. Ecc. 1,4. Ps. 104, 5; 78, 69. Ezek. 38, 25. Gen. 13, 15. Exod. 32, 13. Josh. 14, 9. 1 Chron. 23, 25. Jer. 17, 25. Ps. 48, 8. Jer. 31, 40. 1 Kings 8, 13. Num. 10,8; 18, 24. 1 Chron. 28, 4. 2 Kings 9, 5. Josh. 4, 7. Jonah 2, 6. Ps. 37, 29.

47. Second Inquiry.

48. Christian Union.

49. Hist. Jews vol. 1: p. 117; Div. Leg. vol iii: pp. 1, 2 vol. v:

Sermons xiii: Archeology p. 398; Essays, p.44.

51. Dr. Edward Beecher See p.17

52. See Griesbach, Knapp, and Wetstein.

57. Theological Essays, Vol.1, pp. 143-162.

61. Christian Examiner. Sept. 1830, pp. 25, 26.

63. Burthog's "Christianity, a Revealed Mystery," pp. 17, 18. Note on Rom. xvi:25.

67. Paiges's Selections.

71. Mission to the Underworld, pp. 51, 52.

72. Historia Dogmatis de Descensu Christi ad Inferos, chs. iv and vi.

73. Lange's Genesis, pp. 135, 144, and Ecclesiastes pp. 44, 51.

74. Christian Union.

76. Dialog. cum Tryphone pp. 222-3.

77. Apol. Prim cxxvii.

80. Christian Union.

81. Christian Union.

83. Christian Union.

84. Doctrine of Person of Christ, Div. 2, vol. i, p. 50, Eninburgh.

85. Hist. Com. on Chris. before Constantine, vol. ii, p. 149.

86. Assemanni Bib. Orient. vol. iii, part i, pp. 223-4, 324.-Doderlein, Inst. Theol. Christ. vol. ii, pp. 200-1. -Jacobi, Bohn's Edition.-Neander's Hist. Christian Dogmas. -Guericke, Shedd's Translation. pp. 308, 349. -Neander Torrey's Translation, vol. ii. p. 251-2. -Dorner's Hist. Person of Christ, 2 vol. pp. 28, 30, 50. - Dr. Schaff Hist. Christ Ch. vol. ii. pp. 731, 504. - Giesler, vol. i. p. 370. -Kurz, 1. Text Book Christ. Hist. p. 137-2:2. -Hagenbach, quoting from Augustine Civitate Dei, liber. xxi. chap. xvi.

NOTE. - Doderlein says: * The most learned in the early church, cherished and defended with most zeal the hope of a final cessation of torments. These are his words: Quanto quis altius eruditione in antiquitate Christianna eminuit, tanto magis spem finiendorum olim cruciatuum aluit atque defendit.

89. Ancient Hist. Univ.

90. Hieronymi Epist.

91. Christian Union.

lele Threatening® Explained.

Eighth Edition Boston: Universalist Publishing House, 1897

Copyright, J.W. Hanson, 1878

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