It is a prevalent idea that the words "Eternal, Everlasting, Forever," etc., in the English Bible, signify endless duration. This essay aims to prove the popular impression erroneous. The inquiry will be pursued in a manner that shall be satisfactory to the scholar, and also enable the ordinary reader to apprehend the facts, so that both the learned and the unlearned may be able to see the subject in a light that shall relieve the Scriptures of seeming to teach a doctrine that blackens the character of God, and plunges a deadly sting into the believing heart.
The original Hebrew Bible was translated into Greek, by seventy scholars, and hence called "The Septuagint," B.C. 200-300,(1) and the Hebrew word Olam is, in almost all cases, translated Aión Aiónios etc., (Aíwv, Aíwvios,) so that the two words may be regarded as synonymous with each other. In the New Testament the same words Aión and its derivatives, are the original Greek of the English words, Eternal, Everlasting, Forever, etc.. So that when we ascertain the real meaning of Aión, we have settled the sense of those English words in which the doctrine of Endless Punishment is erroneously taught. It is not going to far to say that if the Greek Aión -Aiónios does not denote endless duration, then endless punishment is not taught in the Bible. We proceed to show that the sense of interminable duration does not reside in the word.
Three avenues are open to us in which to pursue this important investigation. I. Etymology, II. Lexicography, III. Usage.
Our first appeal will be to Etymology.
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