The First Six Centuries

Hence the word did not mean endless duration among the early Christians for about six centuries after Christ. To say that any one who contradicts these men is correct, and that they did not know the meaning of the word, is like saying that an Australian, twelve hundred years hence, will be better able to give an accurate definition of English words in common use to-day than we are ourselves. These ancients could not be mistaken, and the fact that they required qualifying words to give aionion the sense of endless duration —that they used it to describe punishment when they believed in the annihilation of the wicked, or in their restoration subsequent to aionion punishment, irrefragably demonstrates that the word had not the meaning of endless to them, and if not to them, then it must have been utterly destitute of it.

The uniform usage of these words by the early Church demonstrates that they signified temporal duration.

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