As a teacher, I have not been very successful in impressing these words on students. While both are English words, they are not in general use. People still ask, "What do you mean by 'eon' and 'eonian?'" Well here is another effort in the direction of making the meaning plain.
My attention was recently called to a "Lexicon" which said the root, ai, means eternal. "Eon is aion, in Greek, and "eonian," is aionion. It is not easy to show this, because the Greek has what we might call a double o, which has the long sound, while the single o has the short sound. To be precise, the double o, or long o, is used in both these words, making the former, "i-on," with the long sound, as in "lone"; and making the latter word, "i-on-ion," with the first o long, and the other short.
But does ai mean eternal? If it does, then the noun, aion, means eternity. Let us see if it could possibly have that meaning. In Matt. 12:32, Christ closes a sentence in these words, "neither in this aion nor in that which is future." Would anyone speak of this eternity and that which is future? In Eph. 2:7, we find the phrase, "the on-coming aions." Would anyone speak of the on-coming eternities? The phrase, "the aions of the aions," is frequently found. How would it sound to say, the eternities of the eternities? In Matt. 24:3, the disciples asked the Lord, "What is the sign of Thy presence and of the conclusion of the aion?" Were they asking about the conclusion of the eternity? In I Cor. 10:11, Paul speaks of "the consummations of the aions." Is anyone so foolish as to suppose he had reference to the consummations of the eternities?
It is impossible to read the passages noted, and not see that aion refers to a period of time. When Christ said, "this aion," and "that which is future," he clearly implied that "this aion" will come to an end, and another aion will follow. When Paul said, "the on coming aions," he clearly implied that "this aion" will come to an end, and another aion will follow. When Paul said, "the oncoming aions," he clearly taught that there are to be aions which have not yet had a beginning. The phrase, "the aions of the aions," certainly speaks of a plurality of aions. The "conclusion of the aion," most assuredly means the present aion is to have a conclusion. And the discourse of our Lord, which follows, endorses this idea. "The consummations of aions" certainly shows that more than one aion will have a consummation.
Early English translators had an inkling of the meaning of the word, "aion." A version that was made long before the King James Version, translated the word by "werauld." This was a combination of "wer," meaning man, and "auld," meaning age. To them, an aion was a period of time about the length of a man's life. While they were not correct as to the length of an aion, they certainly did not believe it denotes eternity. This explains why the word is translated "world," so often in the King James Version. "World" became the accepted spelling of the old Anglo-Saxon word, "werauld." But it is out of place now, for world has come to mean "system," and kosmos is the correct Greek word for this. The King James Version correctly renders kosmos, by world and incorrectly renders aion, by world.
The King James "translators" certainly had no idea of the meaning of aion. They translated it, and its adjective form, "aionion," by EVER - NEVER - WHILE THE WORLD SANDETH - COURSE - WORLD - EVERMORE - NOW - EVERLASTING - AGE - BEGINNING OF THE WORLD - END OF THE WORLD - WORLD WITHOUT END - ETERNAL. Comment on these inconsistencies would be unnecessary, were it not for the fact that many people revere the King James Version above God, Himself.
To such ones, set me say, The King James Version was not the first English translation. Something like a dozen had been made before 1611, when this version was made, at the command of King James I. Even with the royal endorsement, the version did not come into general use until fifty years later. Even then it did not satisfy scholars, and the Revised Version was an attempt to improve on it. Later, the American Revision sought to further correct it.
Anyone of average intelligence and education can ascertain that an aion is a segment, or long period, of time. The scriptures show that there are five. In Eph. 2:2, we find "the aion of this kosmos." Transliteration aion into the English, eon, and translating kosmos into the English, world, the phrase reads, "the eon of this world," This indicates that each eon has a world. That being so, each world belongs to an eon. According to II Pet. 3:6, there was a world that was destroyed by water. This has reference to what is mentioned in Gen. 1:2, "The earth becomes waste and barren." That was before Adam. If there was a world, then, there was also an eon. In II Pet. 2:5, we find that God spared not the world in the days of Noah. So the world, or system that existed from Adam to the flood, was evidently in the second eon. The third eon began then, and will have its consummation at the future coming of Christ to establish His kingdom. The fourth eon will embrace what is usually called "the millennium." The fifth will follow the judgment at the white throne. The last two are called the eons of the eons. The last one is called the eon of the eons, and the eon of the eon.
Whether or not the reader believes what I have said, he certainly should be able to know that when I say "eon," I mean a long period of time.
It is just as easy to find the meaning of aion, or eon, as it is to find what any other word in the scriptures means. Much easier, in fact, than many other words. For its usage shows clearly, that it is a segment of time, that it has a beginning, and a consummation, that there was something which took place before the aions, I Cor. 2:7, and that there is to be a conclusion of the aions, Heb. 9:26.
AN EON IS A LONG PERIOD OF TIME.
Having found the meaning of aion, or eon, it is just as easy to know the meaning of the adjective, aionion, or eonian, as it is to know the meaning of American, after we learn what America means. An American city is a city in America.
The eonian God, is God in the eons, Rom. 16:26. That He is the eternal God, goes without saying. Otherwise He would not be God at all. But as the eons are the scenes of sin and death, we are happy to find God's relationship to the eons. Knowing Him to be the eonian God, we do not fear that He will be unable to manage the eons.
Eonian life means life in the eons. Its usage shows that it refers to the life believers shall have between their vivification in Christ's presence and the consummation of the eons. Let this "soak in," if possible. Don't call it eternal life, for the scriptures call it eonian life. And, please don't think the life will end at the consummation of the eons. It cannot end, for they have been made immortal. But after the eons it will not be eonian life any longer. It will just be life. And don't quibble, and say everybody who lives at any time during the eons, has eonian life. We are looking at words as they are used in the scripture. Eonian life, according to scripture usage, does not refer to the mortal life of any person. It means immortal life that believers shall have in Christ's presence, before the consummation of the eons.
Eonian Chastening, Matt. 25:46, means chastening in the eons. Eonian extermination, II Thess. 1:9, means extermination in the eons. Eonian fire, Jude 7, means fire in the eons. Without taking space now, to explain these passages, (I expect to do that in a later issue), suffice it say that none of this will extend beyond the consummation of the eons, for -
"Consequently, then as it was through one offense for all mankind for condemnation thus also it is through one just award for all mankind for life's justifying," Rom. 5:18.
"For even as, in Adam, all are dying, thus also, in Christ, all shall be vivified," I Cor. 15:22.
"This is ideal and welcome before God our Savior, Who wills all mankind to be saved and to come into a realization of the truth. For there is one God, and one Mediator of God and mankind, a Man, Christ Jesus, the One giving Himself a correspondent Ransom for all," I Tim. 2:3-6.
"And through Him to reconcile the universe to Him (making peace through the blood of His cross), through Him, whether on the earth or in the heavens," Col. 1:20.
If chastening, or extermination, is endless, these passages are absolutely untrue. The King James Version, and every other version that I have ever seen, translates these passages so as to show that God has justification, vivification, salvation and reconciliation for all. True, the King James Version does not use the word "vivified," in I Cor. 15:22, but it says all shall be made alive IN CHRIST; and that same Version says that to be in Christ, is to be beyond condemnation, Rom. 8:1. Admit that all are to be made alive in Christ, and then claim that some of them will be condemned and you dispute that passage in Romans.
Please keep this paper. The same general theme will probably be discussed in several issues, looking at the matter from every angle.
I thank those who keep their subscription paid up.
THIS AND THAT
What a blessed season we have had! During the Holidays Mrs. Screws and I were remembered by scores of saints here and elsewhere. Cards and letters of them contained enclosures of money. How I praise God, and thank those dear friends!
Sister Pearl Pope, of the Augusta ecclesia, secured an extra donation as a Christmas present, and gave it to me at the December meeting. Some kind friends in the Glennville area also gave us gifts. A strange fact is , those here, who gave are not regular attendants at our meetings. In fact, some of them do not attend at all.
An increasing number who send favors through the mail ask that their names be not mentioned. It has dawned of me that, perhaps, all would prefer to no be mentioned. I am sure that no one gives in order to see it in the paper. I have decided to discontinue mentioning those kind ones in the Messenger. In stead, I will endeavor to acknowledge each gift by letter or card. Those favors sent by mail are what enables me to continue in the work.
We had a blessed meeting in Savannah the third Sunday in December. This was our first regular meeting. The ecclesia there consists of only a few. I mean that only a small number can be depended on to continue their promotion and support of the meetings.