How many times does the word in all its forms describe punishment? Only fourteen times in thirteen passages in the entire New Testament, and these were uttered on ten occasions only. The Noun, Matt. 12:32, Mark 3:29, 2 Pet. 2:17, Jude 13, Rev. 14:11, 19:3, 20:10. The Adjective, Matt. 28:8, 25:41, 46, Mark 3:29, 2 Thess. 1:9, Jude 7, Heb. 6:2.
Now if God's punishments are limited, we can understand how this word should be used only fourteen times to define them. But if they are endless how can we explain the employment of this equivocal word only fourteen times in the entire New Testament? A doctrine that, if true, ought to crowd every sentence, frown in every line, only stated fourteen times, and that, too, by a word whose uniform meaning everywhere else is limited duration! The idea is preposterous. Such reticence is incredible. If the word denotes limited duration, the punishments threatened in the New Testament are like those that experience teaches follow transgression. But if it means endless, how can we account for the fact that neither Luke nor John records one instance of its use by the Savior, and Matthew but four, and Mark but two, and Paul employs it but twice in his ministry, while John and James in their epistles never allude to it? Such silence is an unanswerable refutation of all attempts to foist the meaning of endless into the word. "Everlasting fire" occurs only three times, "everlasting punishment" only once, and "eternal damnation" once only. Shall any one dare suppose that the New Testament reveals endless torment, and that out of one hundred and ninety-nine occurrences of the word aion it is applied to punishment so seldom, and that so many of those who wrote the New Testament never use the word at all? No. The New Testament usage agrees with the meaning in the Greek classics, and in the Old Testament. Does it not strike the candid mind as impossible that God should have concealed this doctrine for thousands of years, and that for forty centuries of revelation he continually employed to teach limited duration the identical word that he at length stretched into the signification of endless duration? The word means limited duration all through the Old Testament; it never had the meaning of endless duration among those who spoke the language, (as we have demonstrated,) but Jesus announced the doctrine of endless punishment, and selected as the Greek word to convey his meaning the very word that in the Classics and the Septuagint never contained any such thought, when there were several words in the copious Greek tongue that unequivocally conveyed the idea of interminable duration! Even if Matthew wrote in Hebrew or in Syro-Chaldaic, he gave a Greek version of his gospel, and in that rejected every word that carries the meaning of endlessness, and appropriated the one which taught nothing of the kind. If this were the blunder of an incompetent translator, or the imperfect record of a reckless scribe, we could understand it, but to say that the inspired pen of the evangelist has deliberately or carelessly jeoparded the immortal welfare of countless millions by employing a word to teach the doctrine of ceaseless woe that up to that very hour taught only limited duration, is to make a declaration that carries its own refutation.
We come now to the sheet-anchor of the great heresy of the partialist church,
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