And these will go away into everlasting (aionios) punishment, but the righteous into eternal (aionios) life.
This verse is a very important 'proof text' used by theologians to support the doctrine of Eternal Torture in hell. Augustine, who championed the doctrine of hell, depended heavily on this single verse to argue the case for endless punishment in hell, for unbelievers.
Augustine argued that Jesus uses the same word aionios to describe both the future punishment of unbelievers and the future life of the righteous. He therefore incorrectly reasoned that since the future life of the righteous will be everlasting, then it necessarily follows that the punishment of unbelievers will also be everlasting. The problem that Augustine had was that he did not understand God's Plan of the Ages, and he therefore could not accept the original literal meanings of the age-related Greek words aion and aionios, which do not mean everlasting or eternal.
Had Augustine remained true to the original literal Greek meanings of aion and aionios as some early Greek Church Fathers did, like Clement of Alexandria, Origen and Gregory of Nyssa, then Christianity might have been spared the horrendous and unbiblical teaching of the doctrine of Eternal Torture in hell.
Let us now examine this same verse, Matthew 25:46, with a literal translation of the original Greek, as given in Young's Literal Translation of the Bible.
Matthew 25:46 (YLT)
And these shall go away to punishment age-during (aionios), but the righteous to life age-during (aionios).
Notice that the literal translation of the original Greek word aionios, is not everlasting or eternal. It is age-during, as correctly translated in Young's Literal Translation. A better translation of aionios here is age-to-come. Also, the Greek word for punishment in the verse above is kolasis and the primary meaning, given in Strong's Number G2851, is correction. So a better and more accurate translation of Matthew 25:46 is:
Matthew 25:46 (SLT)
And these will go away into an age-to-come corrective punishment, but the righteous into an age-to-come life .
It is because of the mistranslation of the Greek words aion and aionios that we end up with the unbiblical false teachings of:
everlasting punishment (Matthew 25:46) eternal judgement (Hebrews 6:2) eternal damnation (Mark 3:29) everlasting chains under darkness (Jude 1:6) everlasting fire (Matthew 25:41) everlasting destruction (2 Thessalonians 1:9)
All such unbiblical teachings are very serious mistranslations and should be correctly translated as, age-to-come punishment, age-to-come judgement, age-to-come damnation, age-to-come fire, etc. These all refer to God's corrective, purifying and refining judgement of unbelievers in the Lake of Fire during the Great White Throne Judgement Age.
In the King James Version of the Bible, the Hebrew word owlam is used 439 times in the Old Testament. It is an age-related word like the two Greek words aion and aionios. The translators of most Bible versions have made similar translation errors, as in the case of aion and aionios, by mistranslating owlam in many verses to mean everlasting, eternal or forever. Let us give some examples.
The earth is also defiled under its inhabitants, Because they have transgressed the laws, Changed the ordinance, Broken the everlasting (owlam) covenant.
This verse refers to the Mosaic Covenant given to the Israelites through Moses on Mount Sinai. We know that this covenant was never intended to last forever and it was not an everlasting covenant as clearly confirmed in the New Testament. (Hebrews 8:13) The New Covenant now supersedes the Old Covenant. The translators of the verse above have mistranslated owlam to mean 'everlasting', when it should have been translated as 'age-lasting' or 'age-during'. This is how it is translated in the 'Robert Young Literal Translation' Bible:
Isaiah 24:5 (YLT)
And the land hath been defiled under its inhabitants, Because they have transgressed laws, They have changed a statute; They have made void a covenant age-during ( owlam).
Please note that Robert Young correctly translates the word owlam as age-during, meaning that the covenant was only intended to last for an age.
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