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I have pointed out previously that the word for "everlasting" as used of punishment and "everlasting" as used with life is often the same word in the Greek - AIONIOS. Some sincere and well meaning people assert that if AIONIOS does not mean eternal, that is, if the punishment is not eternal, then the life is not eternal. If the "aionios punishment" ends, then the "aionios life" of God must end, say they! That sounds like a reasonable argument, but when one searches beneath the surface he discovers that it merely reveals the ignorance of those who labor the point. Let us see!

The noun AION nowhere means eternal. Its simple meaning is an age. In its plural form it means ages. We have unquestionably and incontrovertibly demonstrated this fact from numerous New Testament passages. Now once we understand that AIONIOS is the adjective form of the noun AION, a simple little sixth-grade grammar lesson should once and for all establish the exact meaning of AIONIOS.

A noun is a word that tells what you are talking about. A noun is a word that names something, a person, place, thing, quality, etc. Boy, water, tree, age and truth are all nouns. An adjective is a word that is used with a noun to describe it. It is a word that tells you what kind, what color, which one, etc. If you wanted to tell me about the hat a woman was wearing you would describe the hat in some way. You might say that it was a large hat, an atrocious hat, or a red hat. These are adjectives, words that describe what kind, what color of hat. When you add one or more of these "describing words" or "adjectives" to hat, you give a clearer picture of what the hat is like. Some words are both nouns and adjectives, that is, the same word can be used both ways. Sometimes the adjective form of the word is identical to the noun form, while at other times the spelling is slightly different. Look at these sentences: "I would like to visit France." "I am learning the French language." France is a proper noun, but the adjective form of the same word is spelled differently - French. But in both cases they indicate the same setting. Anyone with even an elementary knowledge of grammar (English or Greek) knows that the meaning of a noun and the meaning of the same word in its adjective form MUST CORRESPOND! It cannot have one meaning as a noun and exactly opposite meaning as an adjective!

Let me illustrate. If we say "John is in college," the word college is a noun. But if we say, "John has sixteen college credits," college is an adjective, modifying the word credits - telling what kind of credits. Now we all know what a college is - an institution of higher education that grants degrees - so we understand what kind of institution John is attending in the first sentence. Since we know the meaning of college, when we come to the second sentence we have no difficulty understanding what kind of credits John has - college credits - credits gained through study in an institution of higher education granting degrees! No one in his right mind is going to read the second statement and conclude that John has just finished kindergarten, or that he has a diploma showing that he finished sixteen lessons in leathercraft at the YMCA, or that he has $16.00 worth of credit at a department store! College as a noun and college as an adjective cannot have altogether different meanings. They mean the same in both cases!

Ah, brethren, let's be fair with the basic rules of English grammar and interpretation, and Greek, too, for they both follow the same basic rules. No one can say that AIONIOS means eternal without breaking the basic rules of English or Greek. The adjective AIONIOS which is directly derived from the noun AION occurs seventy times in the New Testament. It is an axiom of grammar that derivatives cannot have a greater force than the parent word. When we have an adjective derived from a noun, the meaning of the adjective is dependent upon the meaning of the noun. A daily paper is one that comes every day. A monthly bill is due for payment every month, not once a year. A yearly automobile license is good for one year, not for ever.

Thus the adjective AIONIOS, a derivative of AION, carries within itself its own solution; for AIONIOS is simply what belongs or relates to the AIONS - the ages - hence it cannot carry a force or express a duration greater than that of the ages of which it speaks. If therefore these ages are limited periods, some of which are already past, while others are yet to come, the word AIONIOS cannot mean infinity!

And yet men who should know better tell us that the Greek noun AION means an age, or ages, which is TIME, and then proceed to ridiculously explain that the adjective form of the same word means exactly the opposite - unending, everlasting, ETERNAL! A child of ten should be able to understand that that is not so. The adjective AIONIOS modifies two nouns in Matt. 25:46 and numerous other passages: punishment and life. "And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal." It tells what kind of punishment and what kind of life Jesus is talking about. It is ages-lasting punishment and ages-lasting life, or better stated THE LIFE OF THE AGES. Now I can hear someone protesting, "But isn't the life we have received from God ETERNAL LIFE?" Certainly God's life is eternal life. But we have received that life injected into TIME, so that the inworking of that life through the processings of God is experienced in relation to TIME rather that ETERNITY. Let me explain. Anything that is absolutely eternal is not only unending, but is also UNCHANGEABLE. Anything that changes in any way is not eternal, for in the change some characteristic is left behind and a new one acquired. In every change something ends and something else begins, at least in form. That which dwells in an eternal state knows NO CHANGE. Change is possible only in that which is limited, imperfect, or not fully developed. The Lord declares of Himself, "I am the Lord, I CHANGE NOT" (Mal. 3:6), and the inspired apostle says of Him, with Whom there is no VARIABLENESS, neither shadow of turning" (James 1:17). God is never surprised. God has not learned anything this week, nor last year, nor in the last several trillion years. If God learned one thing today, it would destroy Him. He would no longer be the omniscient One who knows the end from the beginning, for known unto Him are all His works from the creation of the world. God does not experiment. God does not become stronger, mightier, or increase Himself in any way. God is the omnipotent and omniscient one. He CHANGES NOT. He eternally is all that He is without an decrease or increase or fluctuation whatsoever. Therefore He is the ETERNAL GOD! It means more than unending, it means unchangeable, and therefore unending! But we, in our spiritual life, are STILL BEING CHANGED! "And all of us... are constantly BEING TRANSFIGURED (changed) into His very own image in ever increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another" (II Cor. 3:18, Amplified). Therefore the life we have received is not truly eternal yet, it is the LIFE OF THE AGES, God's life injected into time to be processed and matured into that unchangeableness which He Himself is!