First I want to demonstrate that “the ages” are part of the creation and have both a beginning and an end. Then I want to consider the impact that this has on what scripture calls “eternal life”, since the word “eternal” is translated from the Greek adjective aiónios, which is derived from the noun aión – which means “an age”
The definition of aión (from biblos.com)
165. aión: a space of time, an age
Original Word: αἰών, ῶνος, ὁ
Part of Speech: Noun, Masculine
Phonetic Spelling: (ahee-ohn’)
Short Definition: an age, a cycle of time
Definition: 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.
The definition of aiónios (from biblos.com)
166. aiónios : agelong, eternal
Original Word: αἰώνιος, ία, ιον
Part of Speech: Adjective
Phonetic Spelling: (ahee-o’-nee-os)
Short Definition: eternal, unending
Definition: 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.
Though the definition of aiónios says it can mean “unending”, please keep in mind that aiónios can not, in and of itself, mean “unending” any more than the adjective forms of the nouns “hour” (hourly), or “month” (monthly), or “year” (yearly/annually) can mean “unending”.
Though something that happens hourly or monthly or yearly can go on “perpetually” and never come to an end, the words themselves cannot be properly defined as “unending”. Those “scheduled events” can be called to an end by being cancelled or they can come to a natural conclusion when “time” (minutes, days, hours, months, years) ceases to exist. The same it true of aiónios. If the “ages” do, indeed, come to an end then so does that which is “aiónios” (age-during or age-abiding or pertaining to the age/s).
So let’s look at the Greek words:
Here are various forms of the noun “aión” uses in scripture which speak directly to the “ages” as part of creation, having both a beginning and an end.
aiōnos – αἰῶνος – noun – genitive singular masculine
aiōnōn – αἰώνων – noun – genitive plural masculine
aiōni – αιωνι – noun – dative singular masculine
aiōnas – αιωνας – noun – accusative plural masculine
aiōsin – αιωσιν – noun – dative plural masculine
Here are some of the adjective forms of “aión” (aiónios) which also appears in some of these same verses.
aiōniōn – αἰωνίων – adjective – genitive plural masculine
aiōniou – αἰωνίου – adjective – genitive singular feminine
Brief list of verses:
Before the ages began: 2 Tim 1:9-10; Tit1:1-3; 1 Cor 2:6-8
The current age: Mat 12:32; 13:22; Mark 4:19; Luke 16:8; 20:34; Rom 12:2; 1 Cor 1:20: 2:6-8; 3:18; 2 Cor 4:4; Gal 1:3-5; 1 Tim 6:17; 2 Tim 4:9-10; Tit 2:11-13
The age to come: Mat 12:32; Luke 18:30; 20:35; Eph 2:2
Other ages to come: Eph 2:7
The end of the age/ages: Mat 13:39; 1 Cor 10:11; Heb 9:26
2Ti 1:9-10 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 (pro chronōn aiōniōn; before times eonian; before times age-during) began, But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:
Tit 1:1-3 Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness; In hope of eternal life (zōēs aiōniou), which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world (pro chronōn aiōniōn; before times eonian; before times age-during) began; But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour;
1Co 2:6-8 Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world (aiōnos; eon, age), nor of the princes of this world (aiōnos; eon, age), that come to nought: But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world (pro ho aiōnōn eis doxa menon; before the ages to our glory) unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world (age) knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
Mat 12:32 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 (ho nun aiōni, the now age), neither in the world to come (oute en ho mello; nor in the coming).
Mat 13:22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world (ho aiōnōn; this age), and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. (See also Mar 4:19)
Luke 16:8 And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world (ho aiōnōn; this age) are in their generation wiser than the children of light.
Luke 20:34-36 And Jesus answering said unto them, The children of this world (ho aiōnos; this age) marry, and are given in marriage: But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world (ho aiōnos ekeinos; that age), and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.
Rom 12:2 And be not conformed to this world (ho aiōni; this age): but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
1Co 1:19-21 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world (ho aiōnos; this age)? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world (kosmou)? For after that in the wisdom of God the world (kosmos) by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
(See also: 1Co 2:6-8 above)
1Co 3:18 Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world (ho aiōni; this age), let him become a fool, that he may be wise.
2Co 4:3-4 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world (ho aiōnos; this age) hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
Gal 1:3-5 Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world (enestōtos ponērou aiōnos; present evil age), according to the will of God and our Father: To whom be glory forever and ever (eis ho aiōnas ho aiōnōn; to the ages of the ages). Amen.
1Ti 6:17-19 Charge them that are rich in this world (tō nun aiōni; the present age), that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. (ho aiōniou zōēs; the eonian life)
2Ti 4:9-10 Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me: For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world (ton nun aiōna; this present age), and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia.
Tit 2:11-12 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly (kosmikos) lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world (nun aiōni; present age);
Luke 18:29-30 And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God’s sake, Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting (en ho aiōni erchomenō zōēn aiōnion; in the age to come eonian life).
Eph 2:4-7 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved); And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come (aiōsin eperchomenois; ages coming)he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
Mat 13:37-40 He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; The field is the world (kosmos); the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world (sunteleia aiōnos; end of the age); and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world (sunteleia aiōnos; completion/consummation/end of the ages).
1Co 10:11 Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world (telē aiōnōn; end of the ages) are come.
Heb 9:26 For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world (kosmou): but now once in the end of the world (sunteleia aiōnōn; completion/consummation/end of the ages) hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. (Note that what follows this – Jesus’ sacrifice for sin – IS JUDGMENT. NOW is the judgment of this world. Judgment pertains to “the revelation of Jesus Christ”.)
So we can see that the ages did have a beginning and will come to an end. Therefore, this must be taken into consideration when determining the meaning of “eternal life” (zōēn aiōnion).
Many believe that when the bible speaks of “eternal life” it is speaking of immortality but “eternal life” and “immortality” are not the same thing.
Eternal life IS “to know God and Jesus Christ whom he sent” (John 17:3) and those who believe (here and now) HAVE “eternal life”, they HAVE PASSED “from death unto life”. (1John 3:14; 5:13; John 3:15)
It is those who are seeking “glory and honour and immortality” who are given “eternal life”, that life is found “in the son” when we come “to know God and Jesus Christ whom he sent” and we “pass FROM DEATH UNTO LIFE”.
Rom 2:6-8 Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,
So what must we do “to have eternal life”?
Mat 19:16-21 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.
This does not mean that life ends at the end of the ages – or the end of our natural life/age – for “as many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (and immortality, for only Christ has immortality… thus is brought to pass the saying that DEATH HAS BEEN SWALLOWED UP OF LIFE and it is not about being UNCLOTHED, but about being CLOTHED UPON!).
Let us “enter into life” and let us also “go on unto perfection”, God willing!
All Blessings in Christ!