A Note From The Editor
TO ALL SEEKERS OF THE TRUTH
January 9, 2005
FRIENDS - On our 'Greetings' page we noted that we
always strive to be prayerfully committed to a study of the
Bible - earnestly endeavoring to allow the scriptures
and God's Spirit to lead us without being hampered by
pre-conceived ideas of what we feel the Bible must teach.
Oftentimes this has led us to much different conclusions
than those which are commonly taught by 'Orthodox
But beyond this we strive to allow our own
understanding to mature as the Spirit leads. We have
always tried to make clear that the opinions and beliefs
expressed on these pages are not set in stone, but open to
adjustment as we grow in our understanding.
With this in mind, I would like to call
attention to a couple areas of thought in which our current
understanding is not wholly represented on some of these
First is in the area of prophecy. The
author of much of the material on this site once subscribed
to a wholly Futurist view of the prophecies of Daniel and
Revelation. After much prayer and study, we are no
longer convinced that such views are correct. A study
of history has led us to conclude that much of the classic
protestant Historicist interpretation of these prophecies is
correct, and that the past two hundred years have thrown a
great deal of light on the final fulfillment of many
prophecies given in Daniel and Revelation.
Our current understanding is best
represented by our chart entitled 'The
Prophetic Times and Seasons'. Our chart entitled 'The
Harvest and the End of the Age' and others no longer
accurately represent our current understanding, nor does
some of the prophetic material as outlined in our work 'Man
Became a Living Soul'; particularly within the chapter
entitled 'The Wrath to Come'. A better and more
current understanding of those events is represented within
our work entitled 'The
Furnace of Fire and the Wrath of God', as well as the
series entitled 'Whoso Readeth Let
Him Understand', although this latter work also has an
SALVATION OF ALL?
Second, and perhaps more importantly, our
studies, and our desire to harmonize ALL of God's Word has
led us to question some of our dogmatic statements
ultimate fate of the wicked.
There can be no denying that God will
punish sin. There can be no denying the future
righteous judgment of God and the retribution which shall be
meted out at that time. There is no question that in
that day of judgment many will weep bitterly and gnash their
teeth. Without question many will be cast out of God's
kingdom, be separated from God's grace and will die the
'second death'. These wicked will unquestionably be
denied the blessedness of the 'New Heaven and New Earth' as
described in Revelation 21-22.
But the question is, do such judgments
represent the absolute and final state of the wicked,
or is it possible that God's grace may be extended to these
wicked at some point even beyond the final judgment
and their exclusion from that final age of blessedness.
Our attempts to harmonize all of God's Word
have brought us face to face with these questions. A
careful study of the Greek words 'Aion' and 'Aionion'
which are uniformly translated as 'For Ever' and 'Eternal'
in the King James Version has led us to question the
validity of such a translation. But this has equally
led us to question the validity of our own conclusions
regarding the final and ultimate state of the wicked.
While there is no question that there will
be righteous retribution for sin, the ultimate question is,
will some be lost eternally, or is it possible that
ultimately God will reconcile ALL to himself? Consider
For as in Adam all
die, even so in Christ shall ALL be made
alive. But every
man in his own order: Christ the
firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his
coming. Then the end, when he shall have delivered up the
kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down
all rule and all authority and power.
For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his
feet. The last enemy
that shall be
death. (1Co 15:22-26)
Therefore as by
the offence of one judgment
came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the
righteousness of one the free
gift came upon all men
unto justification of life.
And I, if I be
lifted up from the earth, will draw all
men unto me.
And, having made
peace through the blood of his cross, by him to
reconcile all things unto himself; by him,
I say, whether
they be things in earth,
or things in heaven.
For therefore we
both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the
living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially
of those that believe. These things command and
teach. (1Ti 4:10-11)
have all men to be saved, and to come unto the
knowledge of the truth. For
there is one God, and one mediator between God and
men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for
all, to be testified in due time.
And he is the
propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but
also for the sins of the
whole world. (1Jo 2:2)
That at the name
of Jesus every knee should bow, of
things in heaven, and
things in earth, and
things under the earth;
And that every tongue
should confess that Jesus Christ
is Lord, to the glory of
God the Father. (Phi 2:10-11)
creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the
earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them,
heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power,
be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb
for ever and ever.
Do these verses teach that God merely
wants to save the world but can't, or do they allow the
possibility that ALL might be saved, although 'every man in
his own order', and in 'due time'?
These are not questions that we have
approached lightly, but have come out of diligent study and much
prayer. We feel it wrong to speak of the 'eternal
destruction' of the wicked, if in fact these words do not mean
'eternal' at all.
After a great deal of study and prayer we
have concluded that the Bible does in fact teach the ultimate
reconciliation of all to God. Therefore we wish for
all statements on these pages concerning the final destruction
of the wicked to be qualified in light of this new understanding
until all the material can be updated to accurately represent
our current position.
interested, we have reproduced below Marvin Vincent's word
studies on the phrase 'Everlasting Destruction' and the
Greek words 'Aion' and 'Aionion'. We feel that these studies
shed great light upon this topic.
May God bless all seekers after His truth.
WORD STUDIES IN
THE NEW TESTAMENT
by Marvin R. Vincent
Additional Note on
(eternal destruction) - 2 Thess. 1:9
transliterated aeon, is a period of longer or shorter
duration, having a beginning and an end, and complete in itself.
Aristotle (peri ouravou, i. 9,15) says: "The period which
includes the whole time of one's life is called the aeon
of each one." Hence it often means the life of a man, as in
Homer, where one's life (aion) is said to leave him or to
consume away (Iliad v. 685; Odyssey v. 160). It is not,
however, limited to human life; it signifies any period in the
course of events, as the period or age before Christ; the period
of the millenium; the mythological period before the beginnings
of history. The word has not "a stationary and mechanical value"
(De Quincey). It does not mean a period of a fixed length for
all cases. There are as many aeons as entities, the respective
durations of which are fixed by the normal conditions of the
several entities. There is one aeon of a human life, another of
the life of a nation, another of a crow's life, another of an
oak's life. The length of the aeon depends on the subject to
which it is attached.
It is sometimes translated world; world represents a
period or a series of periods of time. See Matt 12:32; 13:40,49;
Luke 1:70; 1 Cor 1:20; 2:6; Eph 1:21. Similarly oi aiones,
the worlds, the universe, the aggregate of the ages or
periods, and their contents which are included in the duration
of the world. 1 Cor 2:7; 10:11; Heb 1:2; 9:26; 11:3. The word
always carries the notion of time, and not of eternity. It
always means a period of time. Otherwise it would be impossible
to account for the plural, or for such qualifying expressions as
this age, or the age to come. It does not mean
something endless or everlasting. To deduce that meaning from
its relation to aei is absurd; for, apart from
the fact that the meaning of a word is not definitely fixed by
its derivation, aei does not signify endless
duration. When the writer of the Pastoral Epistles quotes the
saying that the Cretans are always (aei) liars
(Tit. 1:12), he surely does not mean that the Cretans will go on
lying to all eternity. See also Acts 7:51; 2 Cor. 4:11; 6:10;
Heb 3:10; 1 Pet. 3:15. Aei means habitually or
continually within the limit of the subject's life. In
our colloquial dialect everlastingly is used in the
same way. "The boy is everlastingly tormenting me to buy him a
In the New Testament the history of the world is conceived as
developed through a succession of aeons. A series of such aeons
precedes the introduction of a new series inaugurated by the
Christian dispensation, and the end of the world and the second
coming of Christ are to mark the beginning of another series.
Eph. 1:21; 2:7; 3:9,21; 1 Cor 10:11; compare Heb. 9:26. He
includes the series of aeons in one great aeon, 'o aion ton
aionon, the aeon of the aeons (Eph. 3:21); and the author of
the Epistle to the Hebrews describe the throne of God as
enduring unto the aeon of the aeons (Heb 1:8). The plural is
also used, aeons of the aeons, signifying all the successive
periods which make up the sum total of the ages collectively.
Rom. 16:27; Gal. 1:5; Philip. 4:20, etc. This plural phrase is
applied by Paul to God only.
The adjective aionios in like manner carries the idea of
time. Neither the noun nor the adjective, in themselves, carry
the sense of endless or everlasting. They may
acquire that sense by their connotation, as, on the other hand,
aidios, which means everlasting, has its meaning
limited to a given point of time in Jude 6. Aionios means
enduring through or pertaining to a period of time.
Both the noun and the adjective are applied to limited periods.
Thus the phrase eis ton aiona, habitually rendered
forever, is often used of duration which is limited in the
very nature of the case. See, for a few out of many instances,
LXX, Exod 21:6; 29:9; 32:13; Josh. 14:9 1 Sam 8:13; Lev. 25:46;
Deut. 15:17; 1 Chron. 28:4;. See also Matt. 21:19; John 13:8 1
Cor. 8:13. The same is true of aionios. Out of 150
instances in LXX, four-fifths imply limited duration. For a few
instances see Gen. 48:4; Num. 10:8; 15:15; Prov. 22:28; Jonah
2:6; Hab. 3:6; Isa. 61:17.
Words which are habitually applied to things temporal or
material cannot carry in themselves the sense of endlessness.
Even when applied to God, we are not forced to render aionios
everlasting. Of course the life of God is endless; but
the question is whether, in describing God as aionios, it
was intended to describe the duration of his being, or whether
some different and larger idea was not contemplated. That God
lives longer then men, and lives on everlastingly, and has lived
everlastingly, are, no doubt, great and significant facts; yet
they are not the dominant or the most impressive facts in God's
relations to time. God's eternity does not stand merely or
chiefly for a scale of length. It is not primarily a
mathematical but a moral fact. The relations of God to time
include and imply far more than the bare fact of endless
continuance. They carry with them the fact that God transcends
time; works on different principles and on a vaster scale than
the wisdom of time provides; oversteps the conditions and the
motives of time; marshals the successive aeons from a point
outside of time, on lines which run out into his own mearureless
cycles, and for sublime moral ends which the creature of
threescore and ten years cannot grasp and does not even suspect.
There is a word for everlasting if that idea is demanded. That
aiodios occurs rarely in the New Testament and in LXX
does not prove that its place was taken by aionios. It
rather goes to show that less importance was attached to the
bare idea of everlastingness than later theological thought has
given it. Paul uses the word once, in Rom. 1:20, where he speaks
of "the everlasting power and divinity of God." In Rom.
16:26 he speaks of the eternal God (tou aioniou
theou); but that he does not mean the everlasting God is
perfectly clear from the context. He has said that "the
mystery" has been kept in silence in times eternal
(chronois aioniois), by which he does not mean
everlasting times, but the successive aeons which elapsed
before Christ was proclaimed. God therefore is described as
the God of the aeons, the God who pervaded and controlled
those periods before the incarnation. To the same effect is the
title 'o basileus ton aionon, the King of the aeons,
applied to God in 1 Tim. 1:17; Rev. 15:3; compare Tob. 13:6, 10.
The phrase pro chronon aionion, before eternal times
(2 Tim. 1:9; Tit. 1:2), cannot mean before everlasting
times. To say that God bestowed grace on men, or promised them
eternal life before endless times, would be absurd. The meaning
is of old, as Luke 1:70. The grace and the promise were
given in time, but far back in the ages, before the times of
reckoning the aeons.
Zoe aionios eternal life, which occurs 42 times
in N. T., but not in LXX, is not endless life, but life
pertaining to a certain age or aeon, or continuing during that
aeon. I repeat, life may be endless. The life in union with
Christ is endless, but the fact is not expressed by aionios.
Kolasis aionios, rendered everlasting punishment
(Matt. 25:46), is the punishment peculiar to an aeon other then
that in which Christ is speaking. In some cases zoe aionios
does not refer specifically to the life beyond time, but rather
to the aeon or dispensation of Messiah which succeeds the legal
dispensation. See Matt. 19:16; John 5:39. John says that zoe
aionios is the present possession of those who
believe on the Son of God, John 3:36; 5:24; 6:47,54. The
Father's commandment is zoe aionios, John 1250; to know
the only true God and Jesus Christ is zoe aionios. John
Bishop Westcott very justly says, commenting upon the terms used
by John to describe life under different aspects: "In
considering these phrases it is necessary to premise that in
spiritual things we must guard against all conclusions which
rest upon the notions of succession and duration. 'Eternal life'
is that which St. Paul speaks of as 'e outos Zoe the
life which is life indeed, and 'e zoe tou theou,
the life of God. It is not an endless duration of being in
time, but being of which time is not a measure. We have indeed
no powers to grasp the idea except through forms and images of
sense. These must be used, but we must not transfer them as
realities to another order."
Thus, while aionios carries the idead of time, though not
of endlessness, there belongs to it also, more or less, a sense
of quality. Its character is ethical rather than mathematical.
The deepest significance of the life beyond time lies, not in
endlessness, but in the moral quality of the aeon into which the
life passes. It is comparatively unimportant whether or not the
rich fool, when his soul was required of him (Luke 12:20),
entered upon a state that was endless. The principal, the
tremendous fact, as Christ unmistakably puts it, was that, in
the new aeon, the motives, the aims, the conditions, the
successes and awards of time counted for nothing. In time, his
barns and their contents were everything; the soul was nothing.
In the new life the soul was first and everything, and the barns
and storehouses nothing. The bliss of the sanctified does not
consist primarily in its endlessness, but in the nobler moral
conditions of the new aeon, the years of the holy and eternal
God. Duration is a secondary idea. When it enters it enters as
an accompaniment and outgrowth of moral conditions.
In the present passage it is urged that olethron
destruction points to an unchangeable, irremediable, and
endless condition. If this be true, if olethros is
extinction, then the passage teaches the annihilation of
the wicked, in which case the adjective aionios is
superfluous, since extinction is final, and excludes the idea of
duration. But olethros does not always mean
destruction or extinction. Take the kindred verb
apollumi to destroy, put an end to, or in the
middle voice, to be lost, to perish. Peter says "the
world being deluged with water, perished (apoleto, 2
Pet. 3:6); but the world did not become extinct, it was renewed.
In Heb. 1:11,12, quoted from Ps. 102, we read concerning the
heavens and the earth as compared with the eternity of God, "they
shall perish" (apolountai). But the perishing is
only preparatory to change and renewal. "They shall be
changed" (allagesontai). Compare Isa. 51:6,16;
65:22; 2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21:1. Similarly, "the Son of man
came to save that which was lost" (apololos), Luke
19:10. Jesus charged his apostles to go to the lost (apololota)
sheep of the house of Israel, Matt. 10:6, compare
15:24, "He that shall lose (apolese) his
life for my sake shall find it," Matt. 16:25. Compare Luke
In this passage, the word destruction is qualified. It
is "destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory
of his power," at his second coming, in the new aeon. In other
words, it is the severance, at a given point of time, of those
who obey not the gospel from the presence and the glory of
Christ. Aionios may therefore describe this severance as
continuing during the millenial aeon between Christ's coming and
the final judgment; as being for the wicked prolonged throughout
that aeon and characteristic of it, or it may describe the
severance as characterising or enduring through a period or aeon
succeeding the final judgment, the extent of which period is not
defined. In neither case is aionios, to be interpreted as
everlasting or endless.