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The word “forever,” or “everlasting,” in the Bible has been used and interpreted by men wrongly, instilling people with the hurtful and blasphemous doctrine of “eternal torment.” This writing, taken from Is the King James Authorized Version the Perfect Word of God?, gives the true meanings of these words, and opens the door of understanding to the much higher and greater purposes God intends for His creation.
Perhaps the greatest harm of all that the KJV and other translators have committed is in their translation of the Greek word “aion” to “eternal” or “everlasting,” in the sense that we use those words, that is, “time without end, ever.” In other words, ten trillion years from now, if there is an “everlasting hell,” and I go there, I am only beginning my stint; I will never escape; I will never be with God, ever. The plain truth is that the word “aion” does not mean an indefinite span of time. It is an age, and “aionian” is “age-lasting,” or “to an age.” The Hebrew word “olam,” translated “everlasting” is also obscured in its true meaning. Many are the examples where “everlasting” does not mean what we think, or how we use the word today. This, from an article by Gary Amirault:
“Now let’s discover how long the ‘eternity’ REALLY is in many leading ‘selling’ English translations:
Sodom’s fiery judgment is ‘eternal’ (Jude 7) – until… God ‘will restore the fortunes of Sodom’ (Eze. 16:53-55).
Israel’s ‘affliction is incurable’ (Jeremiah 30:12) – until… the Lord ‘will restore health’ and heal her wounds (Jeremiah 30:17).
The sin of Samaria ‘is incurable’ (Micah 1:9) – until… Lord ‘will restore the fortunes of Samaria.’ (Ez. 16:53).
Ammon is to become a ‘wasteland forever’ and ‘rise no more’ (Zephaniah 2:9, Jeremiah 25:27) – until… the Lord will ‘restore the fortunes of the Ammonites’ (Jeremiah 49:6).
An Ammonite or Moabite is forbidden to enter the Lord’s congregation ‘forever’ – until… the tenth generation (Deuteronomy 23:3).
Habakkuk tells us of mountains that were ‘everlasting’, that is – until… they ‘were shattered’ (Habakkuk 3 3:6).
The Aaronic Priesthood was to be an ‘everlasting’ priesthood (Exodus 40:15), that is – until… it was superceded by the Melchizedek Priesthood (Hebrews 7:14-18).
Many translations of the Bible inform us that God would dwell in Solomon’s Temple ‘forever’ (1 Kings 8:13), that is – until… the Temple was destroyed.
The Law of Moses was to be an ‘everlasting covenant’ (Leviticus 24:8), yet we read in the New Covenant the first was ‘done away’ and ‘abolished’ (2 Corinthians 3:11,13), and God ‘made the first old’ (Hebrews 8:13).
The fire for Israel’s sin offering (of a ram without blemish) is never to be put out. It shall be a ‘perpetual’ – until… Christ, the Lamb of God, dies for our sins. We now have a better covenant established on better promises (Leviticus 6:12-13, Hebrews 8:6-13).
God’s waves of wrath roll over Jonah ‘forever’ – until… the Lord delivers him from the large fish’s belly on the third day (Jonah 2:6,10; 1:17).
Egypt and Elam will ‘rise no more’ (Jeremiah 25:27) – until… the Lord will ‘restore the fortunes of Egypt’ (Ezekiel 29:14) and ‘restore the fortunes of Elam’ (Jeremiah 49:39).
‘Moab is destroyed’ (Jeremiah 48:4, 42) – until… the Lord ‘will restore the fortunes of Moab’ (Jeremiah 48:47).
Israel’s judgment lasts ‘forever’ – until… the Spirit is poured out and God restores it (Isaiah 32:13-15).
The King James Bible, as well as many others, tells us that a bondslave was to serve his master ‘forever’ (Exodus 21:6), that is – until… his death.”
“Here then is absolute proof from the Scriptures themselves that an aion is an AGE or a PARTICULAR PERIOD OR INTERVAL:
• There was time BEFORE the aions (1 Corinthians 2:7, ‘BEFORE the eons’). Therefore, NOT eternal.
• God MADE the aions (Hebrews 1:2, ‘MAKES the eons’). Therefore, NOT eternal.
• There were aions in the PAST (Colossians 1:26, ‘hid FROM eons’). Therefore, NOT eternal.
• This PRESENT age is called an aion (Galatians 1:4, ‘the PRESENT wicked eon’). Therefore, NOT eternal.
• This PRESENT age will come to an END (Matthew 24:3, ‘The END [or conclusion] of the eon’). Therefore, NOT eternal.
• There is coming another aion AFTER this present aion (Luke 18:30, ‘the eon TO COME’). Therefore, NOT eternal.
• There are, in fact, coming multiples or FUTURE AIONS (Ephesians 2:7, ‘the ONCOMING AIONS’). Therefore, NOT eternal.
• Some aions are even contrasted with OTHER AIONS (Ephesians 3:21, ‘the eon OF the eons’). Therefore, NOT ETERNAL.
• All aions will come to all their ENDS (1 Corinthians 10:11, ‘the CONSUMMATIONS [plural] of the eons [plural].’) Therefore, obviously not possible to be eternal!!
Now there is Scriptural proof. We don’t need Webster’s Dictionary and we don’t need Strong’s Lexicon. The Scriptural usage of the words ‘aion’ ‘aions’ and ‘aionios’ prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Greek ‘aions’ are NOT English ‘eternities.’
[It has been said that] the Hebrew ‘olams’ NEVER, EVER mean ‘age.’ That statement is NOT Scripturally true. Numbers 25:13 speaks of the priesthood of Aaron, and we read this: ‘And he shall have it, and his seed after him, even the covenant of an EVERLASTING [Heb. ‘olam’] priesthood….’ We now know for a Scriptural FACT that this priesthood was NOT ‘everlasting,’ but rather lasted for an ‘age’–a long period of time having a beginning and an ending. We see in the book of Hebrews that this very priesthood NO LONGER EXISTS! The temple is gone and the tribe of Levi is gone. And so, it was an ‘age-abiding’ or ‘eonian’ priesthood, not an ‘everlasting’ one.”
Another word we find in the KJV translation that is limiting, if not offensive to understanding, is the word “Hell.” The translators used the one same English word for three different words in the original tongues…Tartarus, Gehenna, and Hades (Sheol in Hebrew). I have learned that oftentimes several English words can fall very short of expressing even one word in the Greek or Hebrew. Here, one English word presumes to take on three at once! The true meanings are then hidden.
The purpose of the translators of the “Amplified” version was to attempt to address that problem that occurs not only with this case but in much of the translating. They tried to expand on the essence of the original language words. For example, while the KJV uses the simple word “believe,” which has a simplistic meaning to us today, not one that sufficiently informs us of what kind of belief is required for salvation, the Amplified expresses the Greek meaning of it as, “to cleave, trust, rely on.”
How many people have I heard say, “I believe in Jesus”? But what are they saying? What do they mean? Do they truly cleave to Him or are they simply saying they believe He existed and is the Son of God? What a vast difference there is between the two meanings, a difference between life and death, no less! Truly, the simple word “Hell” falls short for us when one studies the Greek and Hebrew words, the essences of which we have been “gravely” short-changed by the English translation:
As defined by Strong’s Analytical Concordance, the Hebrew word, “sheol”: “the world of the dead, including its accessories and inmates, grave, hades, hell, pit.”
The word, “Hades”: “unseen, the place or state of departed souls, grave, hell.”
The word, “Gehenna”: “the valley of Hinnom, a valley in Jerusalem, where they burned refuse and carcases, used figuratively as a name for the place or state of everlasting punishment.” (Keep in mind the proper meaning of “everlasting.”)
The word, “Tartarus”: “the deepest abyss of Hades, to incarcerate in everlasting torment.” (Keep in mind the proper meaning of “everlasting.”)
We see that there is more to “Hell” than the KJV is letting on, as there is with “everlasting.” How do we explain this? The translators knew their languages well. Why would they do this?
Here is one explanation: King James’ ambition and motive was to unify England, which in his day was divided and fragile along social, ethnic, geographical, religious and political lines. History records that he wanted to compromise, not elucidate or clarify. He wanted to preserve his own position as king.
King James sought, therefore, to please the Catholics, the religious hierarchy of the Church of England, the more moderate of the religious reformers (known then as the Puritans) and the government, and to mollify all actual and threatening factions. He instructed the translators to keep his intentions in mind. They in turn sought to maintain the status quo, supporting the standard interpretation of “everlasting torment,” which interpretation magnified the authority of the government/state church.
A fate too horrible to fathom awaited those who offended or resisted, so all were better off if they complied without question!
Victor Hafichuk and Paul Cohen