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How to overcome a major hurdle to the truth of universal salvation through Jesus (excerpt from upcoming book Duration of Destruction)

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Read the story of my somewhat winding road to Jesus: From stripping to Scientology to Jesus


How to overcome a major hurdle to the truth of universal salvation through Jesus


(Excerpt from the upcoming book Duration of Destruction)


Let me be clear up front: I believe Jesus will save all people and teach all of us the truth—“[God] wills that all mankind be saved and come into a realization of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4 - Concordant Literal New Testament - CLNT). The living God "is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe" (1 Timothy 4:10 New International Version - NIV). Because of this, I believe no one will suffer eternally for their sins.

But I do believe that sinners who don’t come to Jesus for forgiveness of their sins will be properly judged by Jesus as part of their journey to knowing Him. (Yes, all of God's judgments have good purposes. He doesn't judge just to kick the shit out of His enemies.) I like to say I’m a judgmental universalist—meaning I believe Jesus will properly judge sin and save all people. Yeah, He really can do both and achieve His ultimate goal. Some universalists completely leave out the judgment of God. But there’s too much Scripture teaching God’s righteous judgment to ignore it.

Those who are stubborn to the truth and bent on injustice will receive indignation, fury, affliction and distress (Romans 2:8-9 CLNT). Hmm, I’ll pass on that. But those who come to Jesus will receive glory, honor, peace, incorruption, and life eonion (Romans 2:7,10 CLNT). That’s the one I want. Sounds like an awesome deal to me.


My Bibles lead me into darkness


I faithfully plowed along reading my main Bibles—the NIV and the Authorized King James Version - AKJV—for 17 years before I heard about the Greek noun aion and its adjective aionios. I used these two versions primarily for this lame reason: everybody else was doing it. (Good thing my church buddies weren’t using meth.) During that time, I thought I had a pretty good grasp of God’s plan for humanity: believers in Jesus go to heaven forever, and unbelievers go to hell forever and suffer eternal conscious torment - ECT. I believed it, taught it and preached it. And I was wrong the whole time!

I first came across aion and aionios in Edward Fudge's book The Fire That Consumes. In this book Fudge teaches annihilation—God will eventually destroy all His human enemies and they will no longer exist. Fudge believes, like those who teach ECT, that aionios means eternal/everlasting, as in eternal punishment (Matthew 25:46) and everlasting destruction (2 Thessalonians 1:9).

Fudge's book is very convincing, and provides a better understanding of the punishment of unbelievers than does the traditional teaching of ECT. So I became an annihilationist for about a year and a half.

As I was studying the lake of fire in the Bible, I came upon some writings on the world wide web by L. Ray Smith. Though I don’t agree with all that he taught (he died in 2012), I did learn some good stuff from him. I kept coming across the teaching that Jesus will save all in many of Smith’s different studies. I didn’t believe this part of his teaching, so I would just ignore it as it came up. But it kept coming up, and I was encountering information on the subject that was new to me. I was seeing again the Greek words aion and aionios. But I had not studied them thoroughly. I had just assumed Fudge was correct in his view that aionios means eternal. So I began to dig in to see if Mr. Smith or Mr. Fudge was correct on the subject. Mr. Smith won by knockout in the fourth round.

It wasn't easy going from ECT to annihilation, or from annihilation to universal restoration. Each jump meant having to admit I was wrong—not an easy thing for any human to do. The apostle Peter tells us to "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18 NIV). I'm thankful God took me through this progression. I don't want to be stuck believing something that is false. Obviously none of have perfect understanding, "For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known" (English Standard Version ESV).

Image result for motorcycles in round cage
Your brain on false religious tradition - dangerous.
So at first, I was resistant to the message of the salvation of all through Jesus. Remember, over 18 years of believing and teaching that Jesus won’t save all people was racing around in my brain like a dozen motorcyclists in the Cage of Death. This is what my Bibles were teaching me. But as I began to dig deeper into the subject, my understanding of God’s plan to save all, and Jesus’ work to accomplish the salvation of all, dramatically changed.


Trying to jump hurdles with concrete shoes


Man-made religious traditions weigh people down and keep them from being free to grow in their relationship with God. The widespread teaching of eternal torment is one of the heaviest of these traditions. It keeps us from seeing the full scope of God’s amazing plan for all mankind and causes both believers and unbelievers to question God’s true character.

Freedom in Christ—the traditional way.
1 John 4:8 gives us the absolute foundation of our heavenly Father’s flawless character, “God is love.” But when man adds “The eternal Tormentor (or Annihilator) of unbelieving souls” to His resumé, we begin to rightly question if He truly is love. When something is said about God that is untrue, it’s blasphemy, which is a sin of enormous magnitude.

One of the biggest hurdles to my understanding the salvation of all was my long-held belief in “everlasting punishment,” “eternal damnation,” and “eternal fire” (Matthew 18:8, 25:46; Mark 3:29 AKJV). Coupled with the teaching of eternal damnation is this teaching: if someone dies without coming to Jesus in this life, their opportunity to come to Him dies also—there is no “second chance” after this life. I wondered, “How can all who die without knowing Jesus be saved if their judgment/damnation/punishment is eternal?”

Trying to untie the heavy concrete shoes of man-made religious tradition doesn’t happen instantly. But I finally got them off and jumped over this hurdle when I came to understand the meaning of aion and aionios, and how and where God uses these words to teach us in the Scriptures. When I first learned that these words were key to understanding God’s plan for mankind, I consulted my Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. I flipped to #165 in the Greek section and saw the first definition of aion: an age. I knew right then I was entering new territory, and I had some work to do.

During my thorough study of aion and aionios and how God uses them in the Scriptures, I was pissed-off. I was mad that many of the common Bibles in use today had mistranslated these two Greek words. And by doing so had hidden God’s real plan from those who were reading and studying these corrupt versions. Crazy thought: millions of people, myself included, are actually relying on their Bibles to tell them the truth, not lies. Most people seeking answers in the Scriptures aren't theologians. They're going to take what they read in their Bibles at face value.

Because I ignorantly trusted my corrupt Bibles, I taught from them. Therefore, I was ignorantly teaching lies about my heavenly Father and my Savior. Once I came to the realization that I had been spouting lies about God, I was ashamed. I felt sick. I thought of all the people (including children) over the years who had heard my lies in Sunday School classes, from the pulpit, and one on one. I apologized to God, and I’m now teaching the truth of His truly amazing grace and wonderful plan to save all people.


Overcome the hurdle


There were many hurdles I had to overcome before I was absolutely convinced of the truth of the salvation of all through Jesus.

The purpose of this writing is to help you see how and where God uses aion and aionios in the Scriptures, and how it affects our understanding of the duration of destruction for unbelievers. You will never see this by reading the popular Bible versions in use today. And like I was, you'll be surprised at where and how these two Greek words are concealed by mistranslations in widely-used Bible versions trusted by millions who read them.

For comparison, I've listed for you all of the instances of aion and aionios in the Scriptures using four versions of the Bible.
-Authorized King James Version
-New International Version
-Young’s Literal Translation
-Concordant Literal New Testament

Dubious Definitions


The varying, contradictory, and sometimes incorrect definitions and translations of aion and aionios lead to unnecessary misunderstandings and confusion. Don’t fly through these definitions. Read them carefully. See if you can find the contradictions in these following definitions.

From BibleHub.com - http://biblehub.com/greek/165.htm and http://biblehub.com/greek/166.htm - are the following definitions:
Strong’s Concordance
#165 - aion: a space of time, an age, a cycle of time, especially of the present age as contrasted with the future age, and of one of a series of ages stretching to infinity.

#166 - aionios: agelong, eternal, unending; age-long, and therefore: practically eternal, unending; partaking of the character of that which lasts for an age, as contrasted with that which is brief and fleeting
Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance
#165 - aion: properly, an age; by extension, perpetuity (also past); by implication, the world; specially (Jewish) a Messianic period (present or future)

#166 - aionios: perpetual (also used of past time, or past and future as well)

New American Standard Exhaustive Concordance
aion: a space of time, an age

aionios: agelong, eternal
Thayer’s Greek Lexicon
aion: 1a. forever, never, not forever, not always 1b. from the most ancient time down (within the memory of man), from of old 2. the worlds, the universe 3. this age, the future age, the complete period

aionios: 1. without beginning or end, that which always has been and always will be 2. without beginning 3. without end, never to cease, everlasting; time out of mind
The following definitions are taken directly from each book.
Zondervan NIV Exhaustive Concordance - Second Edition
#172 - aion: eternity, age (time period); “this age” can mean the universe or even the current world system, the “god of this age” refers to the devil

#173 - aionios: eternal, long ago

Concordant Literal New Testament
aion: eon, the longest segment of time known in the Scriptures. The eons synchronize with the worlds (Ep 2:2), the eons dealing with the time aspect and the worlds with the cosmic aspect or constitution. Used for the remainder of an eon.

aionion: eonion (there is no further definition given in the CLNT)
Comment: I assume the publishers of the Concordant Literal New Testament realized that we’re smart enough to figure out that aionion, an adjective form of aion, will have the same basic meaning as the noun. For example, something that happens monthly occurs every month, not every year. Something that happens weekly occurs every week, not every month.
These definitions can only be a starting point. Our understanding of aion and aionios must ultimately be based on their use by God in the Scriptures.


“How do I deceive thee, let me count the ways.”


Aion and its derivatives are translated in the four versions we are using with the following words:
AKJV (13 ways) - ages, course, eternal, for ever, evermore, never, beginning of the world, while the world, world, world began, world without end, worlds, while the world standeth
Note: The AKJV translates aion as ages only 2 times out of 128 occurrences. But also note it’s translated with the plural ages, not the singular age. In the Greek, over half of the occurrences (66 times by my count) of aion are in the plural form. Is there a plurality of eternities? This should cause us to seriously question if the meaning of aion can be eternity.

Note: The AKJV translation never is a compound of aion with 3 other Greek words and could be written not for the age.
NIV (16 ways) - ever, forever, age, ages, never, world, eternal, universe, again, ages past, forevermore, life, long ago, never again, time, ways (NIV left aion untranslated 1 time)
Note: Sometimes the translations ever and long ago are aion alone, and other times it’s aion in combination with other Greek words. Words that are also combinations of other Greek words with aion are: forever, never (literally not for the age), again, forevermore, long ago, never again.
YLT - age, ages

CLNT - eon, eons
Question: Do you think you'd get a clearer understanding of God's plans by reading the CLNT and YLT as opposed to the AKJV and NIV?

Aionios and its derivatives are translated in the four versions with the following words:
AKJV - eternal, for ever, everlasting, world, world began

NIV - eternal, beginning of time, everlasting, ages, forever, never
Note: Beginning of time and never are aionios in combination with other Greek words.
YLT - age-during, ages, age-duringly

CLNT - eonian
Now do you believe me? You could never see how God uses aion and aionios in His Scriptures just by reading the AKJV, NIV, or most other popular Bible versions. This is why I was in the dark for over 18 years, and many are still in the dark today. When I see how simple and logical the CLNT and YLT have made this, it makes me seriously question the motives of the translators of the AKJV and the NIV. Thankfully, the CLNT and YLT don’t conceal how God intended His words to be understood.


My top 11 verses for aion


Let’s get to it. I’ll start with some of the top verses showing mistranslation of the Greek noun aion, then the adjective aionios.

I’ll insert comments where necessary.
Note: There are many derivative forms of aion and aionios. Example: aiosin is a plural form of aion, and aionion is another form of aionios. So if you see a different spelling of our two main words, it’s the form used in that particular verse.
The word in bold is the translation of aion.

1) Ephesians 1:21
AKJV - far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:
NIV - far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.
YLT - far above all principality, and authority, and might, and lordship, and every name named, not only in this age, but also in the coming one;
CLNT - up over every sovereignty and authority and power and lordship, and every name that is named, not only in this eon, but also in that which is impending:
Comment: Let’s start right off with the eternity test. Put the word eternity in place of the bold words above. Does it fit? Does it make sense? No. We are living in this age (aioni), and there is one coming. The one we are in now will end, and another one will begin. Eternity has no beginning or end.
2) Ephesians 2:2
AKJV - wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world (Strong’s #2889 - kosmou), according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
NIV - in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world (Strong’s #2889 - kosmou) and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.
YLT - in which once ye did walk according to the age of this world (Strong’s #2889 - kosmou), according to the ruler of the authority of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience,
CLNT - in which once you walked, in accord with the eon of this world (Strong’s #2889 - kosmou), in accord with the chief of the jurisdiction of the air, the spirit now operating in the sons of stubbornness
Comment: Notice in the AKJV, Ephesians 1:21 (#1 on our list) aioni is translated as world. But aiona is translated as course in Ephesians 2:2. Because the Greek word kosmou was properly translated world, the translators’ dubious methods forced them into a unique word choice. Even they could see that “wherein in time past ye walked according to the world of this world” makes zero sense. They probably figured most people reading their translation would never see that aiona was hidden in there. And they were right. The NIV didn’t do any better here. The CLNT and YLT are clunky, but accurate. I'll take accurate any day.
3) Ephesians 2:7
AKJV - that in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
NIV - in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
YLT - that He might show, in the ages that are coming, the exceeding riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus,
CLNT - that, in the oncoming eons, He should be displaying the transcendent riches of His grace in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
Comment: The AKJV and the NIV actually get it right here. They were forced into this by the context. But their inconsistency is still a major problem. As previously shown, the Zondervan NIV Exhaustive Concordance gives eternity and age as definitions for aion. Can both be right? No. Ravi Zacharias speaks of “The Law of Noncontradiction.” He calls this law “one of the most fundamental laws of logic.” Here is the law: Two statements that mutually exclude the other cannot both be true. Eternity has no beginning or end. An age has both a beginning and an end. They cannot be the same!
Here in Ephesians 2:7 we have the plural form of aion - aiosin. Are there many eternities to come? Or is this an absurd thought? There are at least two ages (aiosin) to come—the millennium age and the new heavens and new earth age (see Revelation 20–22). 1 Corinthians 15:20–28 takes us even farther into the future than Revelation, to the consummation when Jesus completes His work and gives the kingdom over to His Father. This should help us fine tune our definition of aion based on how God has used it here in the Scriptures.
4) Jude 1:13
AKJV - raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.
NIV - They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.
YLT - wild waves of a sea, foaming out their own shames; stars going astray, to whom the gloom of the darkness to the age hath been kept.
CLNT - wild billows of the sea, frothing forth their own shame; straying stars, for whom the gloom of darkness has been kept for an eon.
Comment: There’s a huge difference between darkness reserved forever (AKJV, NIV) and darkness kept for an eon (CLNT) or to the age (YLT). We must get this right. We must understand the duration of destruction as well as we possibly can using the words God intended us to know in the Scriptures. Understanding this ties in directly with understanding the salvation of all through Jesus.
5) Mark 3:29
AKJV - but he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal (Strong’s #166 - aioniou) damnation
NIV - but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal (Strong’s #166 - aioniou) sin.”
YLT - but whoever may speak evil in regard to the Holy Spirit hath not forgiveness -- to the age, but is in danger of age-during (Strong’s #166 - aioniou) judgment
CLNT - yet whoever should be blaspheming against the holy spirit is having no pardon for the eon, but is liable to the eonian (Strong’s #166 - aioniou) penalty for the sin
Comment: This where we get the so-called “unpardonable sin.” Blasphemy, which is speaking evil in regard to the Holy Spirit, is the crime Jesus is talking about here. It’s a serious act. The AKJV and NIV say it’s never to be forgiven. They’re wrong.

The word never in this verse in the AKJV and NIV is a one word translation of 4 Greek words—Strong’s #3756 ouk which means not, #1519 eis which means for, #3588 ton which means the, and #165 aiona which means age. (NIV Concordance numbers are 4024, 1650, 3836 and 172.) So the criminal in this case has forgiveness not for the age. YLT and the CLNT lead to a proper understanding of what Jesus was saying. The AKJV and the NIV fail miserably here and lead people to believe in the lie of what the AKJV calls eternal damnation.
Countless people have been tormented by the thought that they have committed the "unpardonable sin" based on the mistranslations in their beloved Bibles. Be set free by the truth. 

In #6 on our list, Matthew 12:32, the other instance where Jesus speaks of the same crime, the AKJV and NIV do a better job, probably because they were forced to do so by the text. Jesus gives us a little more information here. The criminal will not be forgiven in the age in which Jesus spoke or the one following.

A literal reading of the Greek is “… not it will be forgiven him neither in this the age nor in the coming.” The Greek words for age and coming are aioni and mellonti, and they're in the singular. Jesus limits the time for unforgiveness to two ages, the current one and the one coming after. But we see in Ephesians 2:7 (#3 on this list) there are multiple ages to come. The criminal will be forgivable after the two ages of which Jesus spoke in Matthew 12:32. Look Ma, no more “unpardonable sin!” Are you feelin’ free yet?
6) Matthew 12:32
AKJV - And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.
Note: Italicized words in the AKJV, like the second world above, are words that were added by the translators for clarity. There is no Greek word in the manuscripts behind the translated English word.
NIV - Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
YLT - And who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
CLNT - And whosoever may be saying a word against the Son of Mankind, it will be pardoned him, yet whoever may be saying aught against the holy spirit, it shall not be pardoned him, neither in this eon nor in that which is impending.

7) Matthew 13:39–40
AKJV - the enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. 40As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.
NIV - and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. 40As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age.
YLT - and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is a full end of the age, and the reapers are messengers. 40`As, then, the darnel is gathered up, and is burned with fire, so shall it be in the full end of this age
CLNT - Now the enemy who sows them is the Adversary. Now the harvest is the conclusion of the eon. Now the reapers are messengers. 40Even as the darnel, then, are being culled and burned up with fire, thus shall it be in the conclusion of the eon.
Comment: Here we have some rock-solid proof that aion doesn’t mean eternity. Two times here Jesus speaks of the end of the singular aionos. Eternity has no end. Try putting eternity in place of the bold words above. Go ahead, try it.

Jesus tells us of the end of the age (aionos) also in Matthew 13:49, 24:3, 28:20 (#10 on this list).
8) 1 Timothy 6:17
AKJV - Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;
NIV - Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.
YLT - Those rich in the present age charge thou not to be high-minded, nor to hope in the uncertainty of riches, but in the living God, who is giving to us all things richly for enjoyment;
CLNT - Those who are rich in the current eon be charging not to be haughty, nor yet to rely on the dubiousness of riches, but on God, Who is tendering us all things richly for our enjoyment;
Comment: Similar to #7, we have another limitation set on aion. Here it is the word present, or current. Again, see if you can (with a straight face while keeping your integrity) insert eternity for the bold words above. Not gonna happen.
9) Hebrews 1:2
AKJV - hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
NIV - but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.
YLT - in these last days did speak to us in a Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He did make the ages;
CLNT - in the last of these days speaks to us in a Son, Whom He appoints enjoyer of the allotment of all, through Whom He also makes the eons;
Comment: Here we have another plural form of aion - aionas. The AKJV and NIV are correct—Jesus did make the worlds and the universe. But they can’t get that truth from this verse. This verse tells us that He made the ages, the timeframes in which He and His Father will do much of Their work. Just as God made the timeframes called days, months, and years, He made the larger timeframes called ages or eons. This should give us great hope. God has a plan that fits into His timetable. It’s already set. And He’s not going to deviate from it because His plan is perfect, whether we understand it or agree with it. See also Hebrews 11:3.
10) Matthew 28:20
AKJV - teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
NIV - and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
YLT - teaching them to observe all, whatever I did command you,) and lo, I am with you all the days -- till the full end of the age.'
CLNT - teaching them to be keeping all, whatever I direct you. And lo! I am with you all the days till the conclusion of the eon! Amen!"
Comment: We have again the end or conclusion of the age. Eternity doesn’t end.
Some may ask, “So Jesus is only going to be with His followers until the end of the age? Is He then going to leave them?” These are fair questions. Jesus gives His followers great hope and comfort that He will be with them through and to the end of the present evil age in which the Adversary is god (Galatians 1:4; 2 Corinthians 4:4). He will be with them through this age where hatred of Jesus and His followers is the norm (John 15:18–25). But don’t fear “the god of this age.” Jesus has been seated above all names in this age and the coming one (Ephesians 1:19–22). Neither Matthew 28:20, or any other verse in the Scriptures, says He will leave His followers at the end of the age. Jesus’ presence with them is continual through His Spirit. It’s at the end of this age that Jesus returns to the earth to be physically with His followers. He's assuring them (and us) of His presence with them through the Spirit for the remainder of this present evil age.
11) Luke 20:34–35
AKJV - And Jesus answering said unto them, The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage: 35but they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage
NIV - Jesus replied, “The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. 35But those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage
YLT - And Jesus answering said to them, `The sons of this age do marry and are given in marriage, 35but those accounted worthy to obtain that age, and the rising again that is out of the dead, neither marry, nor are they given in marriage
CLNT - And, answering, Jesus said to them, "The sons of this eon are marrying and are taking out in marriage. 35Yet those deemed worthy to happen upon that eon and the resurrection from among the dead are neither marrying nor taking out in marriage.
Comment: Jesus tells us of one difference between the age we’re in and the one to come. See if eternity works in place of the bold words above.

My top 8 verses for aionios


The word in bold is the translation of aionios.

1) Matthew 18:8
AKJV - Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.
NIV - If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire.
YLT - And if thy hand or thy foot doth cause thee to stumble, cut them off and cast from thee; it is good for thee to enter into the life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast to the fire the age-during.
CLNT - Now, if your hand or your foot is snaring you, strike it off and cast it from you. Is it ideal for you to be entering into life maimed or lame, or, having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the fire eonian?
Comment: We have already established this basic truth (at least I think we have): aionios, the adjective form of the noun aion, will have the same basic meaning as the noun. For example, something that happens monthly occurs every month, not every year. Something that happens weekly occurs every week, not every month.

Therefore, do you believe the fire Jesus speaks of here is eternal or everlasting? If you see that it is not eternal, but age-during or eonian, how does this affect your understanding of the duration of destruction? How does this affect your understanding of God’s plan to save all?
2) Matthew 25:41
AKJV - Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
NIV -“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
YLT - Then shall he say also to those on the left hand, Go ye from me, the cursed, to the fire, the age-during, that hath been prepared for the Devil and his messengers;
CLNT - "Then shall He be declaring to those also at His left, 'Go from Me, you cursed, into the fire eonian, made ready for the Adversary and his messengers.
Comment: If the fire spoken of here is not eternal, but aionion, what does that say of God’s plan for the Adversary and his messengers? Are you starting to see the scope of God’s plan, not just for mankind, but for His entire creation?

Make no mistake, God will judge His creation when necessary. But His plans for His entire creation go way beyond judgment. See Romans 8:19–25.

The following two verses show the enormous scope of Jesus’ work for the entire creation.
Philippians 2:9–11: Wherefore, also, God highly exalts [Jesus], and graces Him with the name that is above every name, 10that in the name of Jesus every knee should be bowing, celestial and terrestrial and subterranean, 11and every tongue should be acclaiming that Jesus Christ is Lord, for the glory of God, the Father. (CLNT)
Colossians 1:15–20: [Jesus] is the Image of the invisible God, Firstborn of every creature, 16for in Him is all created, that in the heavens and that on the earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones, or lordships, or sovereignties, or authorities, all is created through Him and for Him, 17and He is before all, and all has its cohesion in Him. 18And He is the Head of the body, the ecclesia, Who is Sovereign, Firstborn from among the dead, that in all He may be becoming first, 19for in Him the entire complement delights to dwell, 20and through Him to reconcile all to Him (making peace through the blood of His cross), through Him, whether those on the earth or those in the heavens. (CLNT)
3) Matthew 25:46
AKJV - And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
NIV - “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
YLT - And these shall go away to punishment age-during, but the righteous to life age-during.'
CLNT - And these shall be coming away into chastening eonian, yet the just into life eonian."
Comment: This is probably the verse most used to “prove” the teaching of eternal punishment. The argument first used by Saint Augustine about 1600 years ago is still alive and well today. From The MacArthur Study Bible (p.1442):
The same Gr. word is used in both instances. The punishment of the wicked is as never-ending as the bliss of the righteous. The wicked are not given a second chance, nor are they annihilated.
I will say clearly that popular Bible teacher John MacArthur is wrong about never-ending punishment, but he’s right about annihilation. Jesus’ mission is not to punish people forever or annihilate them. His mission is to save them, "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost" (Luke 19:10 NIV).

I’m surprised MacArthur uses such a weak argument. This is an easy one. The use of the same adjective in the same sentence to describe two different things does not mean the adjective means exactly the same for both things. Example: The small man with the small head went into his small house. All three of these things are small, but not the same size. Another example dealing with time: I watched a long tennis match, then I watched a long college wrestling match. A long tennis match can last for several hours. A long college wrestling match can last a maximum of eleven minutes if it goes into overtime. Both are relatively long compared to other tennis matches and wrestling matches. But their durations are not the same, because tennis matches and wrestling matches are not the same. The adjectives in both of my examples are limited by what they are describing.
The punishment/chastening and the life in Matthew 25:46 are two different things. Yes, they could be going on at the same time, but their durations need not be the same. It’s quite possible for one of the nations sentenced to aionion chastening to be released from their sentence before another nation who was given the same general sentence. We don’t know for sure. Matthew 10:14–15 tells us that judgment for some is more tolerable than for others who are also judged (see comment on #6 on this list). But we do know that, if God gets His way—the salvation of all (1 Timothy 2:4)—no judgment/destruction/chastening can be eternal. And I believe that God will get His way. Do you?
4) 2 Thessalonians 1:9
AKJV - who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;
NIV - They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might
YLT - who shall suffer justice -- destruction age-during -- from the face of the Lord, and from the glory of his strength,
CLNT - who shall incur the justice of eonian extermination from the face of the Lord, and from the glory of His strength --
Comment: Ok. Based on what we’ve looked at so far, is the duration of destruction everlasting/eternal? Does this verse, which you may have read several times before, now take on new meaning? If you were only exposed to the AKJV or NIV, you could never see the truth of what God is communicating through this verse.

Stop and think about someone you know who doesn’t yet know Jesus, and is on his or her way to judgment. Can you even wrap your brain around the idea of them suffering tormenting punishment for their sins forever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever with absolutely zero possibility of relief? The Jesus I know has better plans for people than that. If He can save one person, He can save us all. He’s already saved the worst sinner, Saul of Tarsus, a.k.a. the apostle Paul (see 1 Timothy 1:12–16). And when it was time for Saul to be saved, it happened quickly. Saving people is not hard for God to do. But He does it on His schedule, not ours.
5) Hebrews 6:1–2
AKJV - Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, 2of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.
NIV - Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, 2instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.
YLT - Wherefore, having left the word of the beginning of the Christ, unto the perfection we may advance, not again a foundation laying of reformation from dead works, and of faith on God, 2of the teaching of baptisms, of laying on also of hands, of rising again also of the dead, and of judgment age-during,
CLNT - Wherefore, leaving the word dealing with the rudiments of Christ, we should be brought on to maturity, (not again disrupting the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith on God, 2of the teaching of baptizings, besides the imposition of hands, and the resurrection of the dead, and of judgment eonian).
Comment: Although teaching about the judgment is basic, and we are encouraged by the writer of Hebrews to move on to maturity, it seems like we have to keep coming back to it to overcome lies and traditions that have existed for so long. Personally, I’m tired of talking about it, but it’s necessary to do if error needs to be corrected. False teaching about any subject, whether basic or mature, needs to be addressed so we can have the clearest understanding of our Savior and His plans. Lies bind us up, the truth sets us free. The judgment is aioniou, not eternal.
6) Jude 1:7
AKJV - Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
NIV - In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.
YLT - as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them, in like manner to these, having given themselves to whoredom, and gone after other flesh, have been set before -- an example, of fire age-during, justice suffering.
CLNT - As Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities about them in like manner to these committing ultra-prostitution, and coming away after other flesh, are lying before us, a specimen, experiencing the justice of fire eonian.
Comment: Here we have Sodom and Gomorrah as an example of those who experienced, and presently suffer, the justice of aioniou fire. God’s judgment in this case brought these mortal humans to death.

What is aioniou fire? Genesis 19:24 tells us the fire that Sodom experienced was “fire from the Lord.” This fire is sent directly from God.

The AKJV and NIV call this fire eternal. In what sense is it eternal? Can you go to the site of these long-gone cities and see God’s fire still burning? No. Can you still see, as Abraham saw the morning after the destruction, the smoke rising “as the smoke of a furnace” (Genesis 19:28)? No. The fire and smoke are both gone. The wicked inhabitants are dead. The "fire from the Lord" accomplished its purpose and is gone.

Does that mean this judgment, the judgment of aioniou fire, is the final end of these people? Amazingly, Jesus said to His followers in Matthew 10:14–15,
And whosoever should not be receiving you, nor yet be hearing your words, coming outside of that house or city or village, shake off the dust from your feet. 15Verily, I am saying to you, More tolerable will it be for the land of Sodom and the land of Gomorrah in the day of judging than for that city. (CLNT)
Sodom and Gomorrah have another future day of judging before God, and it occurs at the same time as the cities that rejected Jesus’ ministry. And Jesus tells us that Sodom and Gomorrah’s judgment will be more tolerable than the cities who rejected Him when He walked on the earth. But this means the judgment is tolerable for both. I'm not sure how tolerable ECT or annihilation are. Can someone tolerate being eternally destroyed? Maybe you can ask people who believe these to be true to explain it to you. Edward Fudge mentions this in The Fire That Consumes in the note on p.99, but offers no explanation.
2 Peter 2:5–9 tells us that God is “keeping the unjust for chastening in the day of judging” (CLNT). Where is he keeping them? In death. Jesus says in John 5:28–29, “Marvel not at this, for coming is the hour in which all who are in the tombs shall hear His voice, 29and those who do good shall go out into a resurrection of life, yet those who commit bad things, into a resurrection of judging” (CLNT). The dead Sodomites will be raised.

But is the “resurrection of judging” Sodom’s final fate? Will they be eternally judged? No. God could leave the rebellious dead in death, but He has much more in store for them. The reason the rebellious dead are raised to judgment is found in John 5:22–23, “Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, 23that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him” (NIV).

The reason for the resurrection to judgment is so “that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father” (v. 23). The Savior of the world uses judgment in the process of bringing all to Himself.

The ultimate end for Sodom and Gomorrah, and everyone else, is good, even if they have to go through judgment to get there.
Ezekiel 16:46–63 tells us of the wickedness of Jerusalem, Sodom and Samaria. But it also tells us of the future restoration of these three as God speaks through Ezekiel to rebellious Jerusalem in verse 55, “And thy sisters, Sodom and her daughters, Do turn back to their former state, And Samaria and her daughters Do turn back to their former state, And thou and thy daughters do turn back to your former state” (YLT). How could Sodom ever be restored if it’s judged in eternal fire? Sodom is an example of the aioniou fire of God’s judgment. But it’s also an example of the restoration of all, including those judged by aioniou fire. If Sodom is resurrected, judged and restored, this tells us aioniou fire is not the final end of them. Knowing this is very important as we continue our study.
7) 2 Timothy 1:9
AKJV - who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,
NIV - He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,
YLT - who did save us, and did call with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, that was given to us in Christ Jesus, before the times of the ages,
CLNT - Who saves us and calls us with a holy calling, not in accord with our acts, but in accord with His own purpose and the grace which is given to us in Christ Jesus before times eonian,
Comment: Here we have a glimpse into God’s work before the ages began. If our definition of eternity is right: time that has no beginning or end, then we have evidence here that the ages Jesus created (Hebrews 1:2) are different than eternity. We have more evidence of the same in the next verse #8.
8) Titus 1:2
AKJV - in hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;
NIV - in the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time,
YLT - upon hope of life age-during, which God, who doth not lie, did promise before times of ages,
CLNT - in expectation of life eonian, which God, Who does not lie, promises before times eonian,
Comment: The AKJV and NIV come up with unique ways to translate the two derivative of aionios in this verse. I hate so say it, but beware of your Bible!
Again in this verse we see God operating outside the ages, in this case, before they began. God truly is “the King of the ages” (1 Timothy 1:17). He is also the King before the ages, and the King of all other aspects of time. That’s why He’s God, and there’s no other like Him.

Final thought


When aion and aionios are properly understood, “everlasting punishment,” “eternal damnation,” “eternal fire,” and “everlasting destruction” (Matthew 18:8, 25:46; Mark 3:29; 2 Thessalonians 1:9 - AKJV) are exposed as lies. Jesus will never been bound by these lies—He's still going to save all people. But untold millions have been shackled in fear and despair due to these false traditional religious teachings. Living with the thoughts that they, or someone they know and love, could be tormented for all eternity or annihilated, is present day torment. I hope this study has set you on the road to freedom from lies and fear.

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