Not all English Bibles have translated the Greek in
such a way that suggests or supports the doctrine of Eternal
Punishment. I have heard it said that most modern biblical translations
are about 50 years behind the current scholarship. Maybe in time, more
of the newer translations will reflect the improvements noted in the
Matthew 18:8 The Weymouth New Testament In Modern
"If your hand or your foot is causing you to fall into
sin, cut it off and away with it. It is better for you to enter into
crippled in hand or foot than to remain in possession of two sound
hands and feet but be thrown into the FIRE OF THE AGES."
Weymouth, in his footnote to Matthew 18:8 states, "Of
the ages] Greek 'Aeonian.' In this present Translation this word, which
occurs here for the first time, is thus rendered in each of the seventy
passages in which it occurs. Etymologically this adjective, like others
similarly formed, does not signify 'during, 'but 'belonging to 'THE
AEONS OR AGES, or age. Whether usage gives it a different sense is
another question. That the word sometimes means everlasting in the
strongest sense of the word, cannot reasonably be doubted. LET THE
READER JUDGE FOR HIMSELF IN EVERY CASE."
Moulton and Milligan in "Vocabulary of the Greek New
Testament" write concerning aionios that "In general the word depicts
that of which the horizon is not in view, whether the horizon be at an
infinite distance, or whether it lies no farther than the span of
The KJV translates it as "EVERLASTING FIRE"
Matthew 25:46 The Weymouth New Testament In Modern
"And these shall go away into the PUNISHMENT OF THE
AGES, but the righteous into the Life in the Ages"
The KJV translates it as "everlasting punishment"
Mark 3:28-29 Concordant Literal New Testament
"Verily I am saying to you that all shall be
pardoned the sons of mankind,
the penalties of the sins and the blasphemies,
whatsoever they should be blaspheming,
yet whoever should be blaspheming against the holy spirit
is having no pardon for the eon, but is liable to the EONIAN PENALTY
for the sin"
The KJV translates it as "eternal damnation"
Hebrews 6:2 The Weymouth New Testament In Modern
"Therefore leaving the elementary instruction about
the Christ, let us advance to mature manhood and not be continually
a foundation of repentance from lifeless works and of faith in God,
or of ceremonial washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of
the dead, and the LAST JUDGEMENT."
Literal 'JUDGEMENT OF THE AGES' from the footnotes.
Again the KJV translates it as eternal judgment
Revelation 20:10 J.P. Phillips the New Testament In
"The Devil who deceived them was hurled into the
lake of fire and sulphur to join the animal and the false prophet.
And they shall be tormented day and night for TIMELESS AGES."
Weymouth translates "
UNTIL THE AGES OF THE AGES"
Concordant translates "FOR THE EON OF THE EONS"
The KJV sticks with "forever and ever"
, the layman's theologian, in his book "New Testament Words" speaks of
"Aionios: The Word of Eternity". He considers aionios philosophically,
rather than examining only the linguistic aspects of the word.
He contends that it must be interpreted very carefully especially when
punishment. Within the New Testament 'aionios' is used to describe
the fire of punishment, punishment itself, judgment, and destruction.
"It is in these passages that we need to be specially
careful in our interpretation of the word. Simply to take it as meaning
lasting forever is not enough. In all these passages we must remember
the essential meaning of aionios. Aionios is the word of eternity as
opposed to and contrasted with time.
It is the word of deity as opposed to and contrasted
It is the word which can only really be applied to God.
If we remember that, we are left with one tremendous truth - both
blessing which the faithful shall inherit and THE PUNISHMENT WHICH THE
UNFAITHFUL SHALL RECEIVE ARE SUCH AS BEFITS GOD TO GIVE AND INFLICT.
BEYOND THAT WE CANNOT GO. Simply TO TAKE THE WORD AIONIOS, when it
refers to blessings and punishment, TO MEAN LASTING FOREVER IS TO
OVERSIMPLIFY, and INDEED TO MISUNDERSTAND THE WORD ALTOGETHER.
It means that that which the faithful will receive and
THAT WHICH THE UNFAITHFUL WILL SUFFER IS THAT WHICH IT BEFITS GOD'S
NATURE AND CHARACTER TO BESTOW AND INFLICT - BEYOND THAT WE who are men
CANNOT GO, except to remember that that nature and character are holy
Let's also take a quick look at the Greek word for
punishment. The Greek word for punishment is "kolasis".
George Ricker Berry in "A Greek English Lexicon and New Testament
Synonyms" translates "kolasis"
as CHASTISEMENT or punishment. Therefore, "these shall go away into
eternal punishment", could be translated as "these shall go away into
CHASTISEMENT FOR THE AGES". (Matthew 25:46)
As well, the New Thayers Greek-English Lexicon of the
New Testament defines "kolasis" as "CORRECTION, punishment, penalty".
Therefore, it is a linguistically possible to translate "eternal
punishment" as "CORRECTION FOR THE AGES." This is significant because
it suggests that "kolasis" is not only for the purpose of justice, but
also for the purpose of correction. CORRECTION IS REMEDIAL. "Correction
for the ages" would be for the remedy of sin and rebellion in the heart
unbeliever, not unending torment for the purpose of justice.
To dogmatically insist that the passage must be translated as "eternal
is not linguistically required. There are also many universalism
passages that suggest that eternal punishment would not be consistant
with the whole of scripture.
For this reason, let us exercise caution to interpret
the "aionian" Punishment passages individually in the light of the
immediate context, and the larger context of the Salvation message
within scripture, rather than narrowly imposing the dogmatic concept of
"Eternal" punishment as the one extreme definition to be used in all
"Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman
that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" 2