Dean Johnson Ministries

"Eternal" Punishment Scripture Revisited

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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 following scriptures.

Matthew 18:8 The Weymouth New Testament In Modern Speech

"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 Life 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 Caesar's life"

The KJV translates it as "EVERLASTING FIRE"

Matthew 25:46 The Weymouth New Testament In Modern Speech

"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 Speech

"Therefore leaving the elementary instruction about the Christ, let us advance to mature manhood and not be continually re-laying 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 Modern English

"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"

William Barclay , 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 speaking of 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 with humanity. 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 love."

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 of the unbeliever, not unending torment for the purpose of justice. To dogmatically insist that the passage must be translated as "eternal punishment" 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 instances.

"Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" 2 Timothy 2:15

Dean Johnson Ministries

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