THE PROBLEM OF AION
There is an enormous amount of divine truth encapsulated in the Greek word aion pronounced ahee-own). It is not an easy study, and it may well be one of the most difficult words in the New Testament to understand. The study of it is sure to generate questions that demand answers, problems that require solutions, and difficulties that must be overcome. However, the diligent Bible student already knows that God's truth usually comes to him as a result of finding answers to the questions and solutions for the problems that the study of the Word creates.
The person who never makes a penetrating study of the Bible will not be burdened by any problems or questions concerning it. There are many who for this reason never open the Bible. Thinking is hard work, the hardest work that man undertakes. The mind quickly rebels against it and seeks to be at ease. It must be driven to take up the
work. Most people solve all Biblical problems by simply putting them out of their minds. It must always be remembered when we face any difficulty that if we do not have the right questions we will never get the correct answers. Therefore, in all Bible study we must ever be asking: What is the question, what is the problem, what is the difficulty?
We can simplify the problem of aion by using an English transliteration which is much easier to use and pronounce. This is the word eon, and throughout this study it will be used as an exact equivalent of the Greek word, except in those instances where for the sake of accuracy the Greek spelling must be used. Those who labor in the Word of God with the end in view of producing a positive and Biblical theology will have to face up to the fact that there must be a complete and objective study of the Greek word aion along with its related adjective.
The Biblical meaning of this word needs to be fixed in the minds of all truth seekers; otherwise an impossible jungle of false definitions and puerile interpretations will block the path of all who seek purity in truth.
To take a Greek noun and treat it again and again as if it were an adverb is unworthy of anyone who cares about God's truth. And to try to maintain certain erroneous definitions of eon and eonian in order to protect certain teachings that are stamped by tradition as being "orthodox" is a foolish pastime in which no unashamed workman should indulge. To state one facet of the problem of aion, it can be said that this word is translated "ever" in 71 of its 128 occurrences. And while it hardly makes sense to say it, it seems at times that the Bible has a vast amount to say about this thing that is called "ever." However, both the Hebrew and Greek words usually translated "ever" are nouns; and since a noun is the name of a person, place, or thing, then the question naturally arises, "What is this thing called ever?"
Of course someone will immediately raise the objection that "ever" is an adverb, not a noun, and it cannot be the name of a thing. This is true, and the one who recognizes it has taken the first step toward understanding the problems involved in aion. This erroneous translation imposed upon this word by translators has so compounded the problem that the faint-hearted will despair at ever setting matters aright and obtaining the precious truths that are expressed by this word.
The word aion expresses truth that I desire to know and to incorporate into my thinking. The word "ever" in many passages is an absurdity. It eliminates the truth that God is declaring. One does not need to be a scholar to realize that when in a translation a noun is treated as if it were an adverb, something is wrong. It shows a rewriting of God's message that is inexcusable and cannot be justified. Those who proffer simple solutions to complex problems tell us that aion means an age, and point to the fact that it is so translated in two occurrences, Ephesians 2:7 and Colossians 1:26. To me, this is nothing more than substituting one enigmatic word for another. This is of no help, for it simply changes that problem from "What is an eon?" to "What is an age?" There are many who are sure they have an answer to this. "An age," they confidently assert, "is an indefinite but relatively long period of time." Then by a bit of rough and ready reckoning they are sure they have found the meaning if aion; it is simply a long period of time.
The Concordant Version Lexicon defines aion as being "the longest segment of time known in the Scriptures." The society (Concordant Publishing Concern) which is responsible for this volume has made much of the word aion, but their efforts have been inadequate and somewhat misleading. Their basic definition is wrong, and they
attempt to divide all time into five eons. This is a mistake, for an eon is not a period of time. This can be easily demonstrated by substituting the idea of "period of time" into the passages where is found, especially those where the double plural occurs. These certainly do not set forth any such idea as "the long periods of time of the long periods of time."
The word aion has long troubled translators and expositors. The King James Version shows this by giving thirteen different translations of this word ranging from "ever" to the circumlocution "while the world standeth." Weymouth (the original) translated aion consistently by "age" and the adjective aionios by "of the ages." Rotherham used "age" and "age-abiding," but these renderings, while consistent, provide no help in a
search for the truth.
I do not believe that there is any word in the English language that will express the truth contained in the word aion, so that it can be used to translate it. When we come upon a situation such as this, the proper course to follow is to transliterate (carry them over) these words anglicizing them as a rule into more easily handled forms. This has already been done and the words eon and eonian will be found in the dictionary. Then when we find the true idea that aion represents, by the use made of it in the Word of God, we can use the simple term eon to express it. Many expositors have done this. R.C.H. Lenski, the Lutheran commentator, has so rendered these words consistently throughout his commentary and accompanying translation. The Concordant Version has done this, even though it errs in its definition of what this word means.
There are those who think that since an eon is spoken of in Scripture as having a beginning and an end, it has to be a period of time. In my opinion this is shallow thinking. It is based upon the following syllogism: All things that have a beginning and an end are periods of time. An eon has a beginning and an end. Therefore, an eon
is a period of time. The major premise here is indefensible. A man has a beginning and an end. Is a man
then a period of time? Certainly not! The minor premise is wrong, as there are divine eons that will never end. Thus the conclusion is also wrong.
Since everything in existence except the Deity is linked up with and subject to time, it is quite simple to relate anything to time if one wishes to do so. Man has an inherent mental inability to think of anything apart from time, so to say that a thing has nothing to do with time can be easily disputed if someone wants to make an issue of it. But in spite of this, it is my opinion that the word eon has nothing to do with time, either long, short, or endless. An eon may exist, be active, or take place in a period of time, even as a war takes place in a time period, but a war has nothing to do with time as such.
Nevertheless, it must be recognized that a period of time can be designated as an eon but when this is done it is because of the eon that is taking place and characterizes that period. But even when a period of time is called an eon, it still leaves us with the puzzling question: "What is an eon?" To fully appreciate the problem, the student must know certain facts. The word aion is used in the New Testament in the following ways: SINGULAR, as in Matthew 13:39 which should read "the harvest is the consummation of the eon"; PLURAL, as in Ephesians 2:7 which should read "that among the eons to come"; DOUBLE SINGULAR, as in Hebrews 1:8 which should read, "Thy throne O God, is for the eon of the eon"; SINGULAR with PLURAL, as in Ephesians 3:21 which should read "to Whom be glory for all the generations of the eon of the eons"; DOUBLE PLURAL, as in Galatians 1:5 which should read, "to whom be glory for the eons of the eons."
The examples cited above set forth distinctive uses of the word aion in the New Testament. In order to understand passages such as these we need to find the true significance of this word and this will have to be one that will fit into all these occurrences. Such a meaning will have to come from the Bible itself based upon the usage of this word by the Holy Spirit.
When we read of "King of kings" in the Bible it gives us no trouble. We have knowledge of the idea that is symbolized by the word king and we can build upon this. This is also true of "Lord of lords," and "Holy of holies." In meeting up with these terms we have ideas that can be immediately summoned to help in understanding them. However, when we come upon the phrase "eon of the eons," we are in difficulty. We cannot understand this phrase unless we know what an eon is. The difficulty is still greater when we come upon "the eons of the eons." We know these terms are in the Greek. We believe they were inspired by God with the purpose in mind of communicating truth to us. We must know what they mean.
In the study of the word eon, great treasure of information is opened up to us when we recognize that aion is the Greek word that the Holy Spirit selected to represent the Hebrew word olam. This word is found 430 times in the Old Testament. In five passages in the New Testament, the God inspired writers have used aion as the exact
equivalent of olam, a fact that establishes complete identity between these two words. The complex and wonderful truth set forth in the one is the same as set forth in the other. If we can come to a proper understanding of the idea that is set forth in these two words we will clarify hundreds of passages in the Word of God.
OLAM AND AION
The Greek word aion is found 128 times in the New Testament. From this fact alone we can conclude that in every passage where it is found there is truth about something that is conveyed by this word. It follows then that if we do not know what this word means, we cannot know what the Spirit of God is seeking to tell us. The non-investigative reader of the King James Version is usually inclined to be satisfied that it means "ever" in the 71 passages where it is so translated and that it means "world," "age," "eternal," and "world without end" in the 51 other passages where it is so rendered. However with this, the true Bible student can never be satisfied. He has chosen the way of truth and he is no longer willing to accept the inadequate renderings of capricious translators.
Those who have done any work in etymology (the science of discovering word meanings) will know that somewhere among those 128 occurrences there has to be definite clues as to the basic meaning of this word. When these clues are put together they will give us the basic meaning or the foundation upon which every form and
usage of this word rests, and we can be thankful that we are not shut up to these 128 occurrences for our information.
It has already been pointed out in the previous study that when it became essential for the Spirit of God to select a word from the Greek language to serve as the equivalent of olam in quotations from the Old Testament, the word aion was selected and so used by the verbally inspired writers. This will be seen when Psalms 112:9 is compared with 2 Corinthians 9:9; Psalms 45:6 with Hebrews 1:8; Psalms 110:4 with Hebrews 5:6; and Isaiah 40:8 with
1 Peter 1:5. Applying the principle of divine interchange we can say with assurance that aion and olam are exact equivalents. And since olam is found 418 times in the Old Testament, it could well be that many clues as to the meaning of both of these words may be found in these occurrences. Thus we have 536 passages or sentences to work with and if the meaning of these words cannot be found in this multitude of divine usages, then we may as well give up and admit that there is no way of ever knowing the true meaning of either of these expressions.
Over forty years ago with the help of The Englishman's Hebrew Concordance, Ottis Sellers carefully marked every passage in the Old Testament where olam is found. He wrote in the word, linking it up with the word or words that were used in translating it. He did this in order to be reminded every time he read, studied, taught, or used these passages in any manner that the word olam was in it and that it may provide some clue that could lead to an understanding of this word. He has transferred these markings to two other Bibles, due to the fact that constant use soon wears out a book.
Through the years his conviction grew that the word perpetual seemed to express the sense of olam in many passages. The KJV translators had used this 21 times, and he found in teaching that he was regularly offering the word perpetual or the words in perpetuity when he came upon many passages where olam was found. However, this did not fit in numerous occurrences, so he decided that perpetual was an extended, developed, or enlarged meaning of the basic idea contained in olam. Then as he meditated on perpetual, he realized that this word always conveys the idea of ever-moving, going on and on, without stopping, ever-flowing. Furthermore, the idea of flowing might be the very essence of the word olam.
It was at this same time that he was coming to see that there is in the Bible a stupendous revelation of truth concerning which he had collected many bits and pieces, but these had never coalesced into a definite body of truth. As these began to merge he realized that they made up a great general truth that permeates the Word of God, yet it is one that has been sorely neglected and only partially understood. It is a revelation that has to do with God's character, something He has revealed about Himself, that He is a flower, and this can probably be best called, "the truth of the ever-flowing God." The God revealed in the Bible is set forth as a giving God; therefore, He is the Giver; the ever-giving one, Who gives to all life and breath, Who if He ever stopped giving for a second, all things in existence would cease to be (Acts 17:25). Our God is a loving God, the ever-loving One, therefore He is the Lover. Our God is a saving God; therefore He is a Savior, the ever-saving One, Who stands in perpetuity as Savior of the world, the Savior of mankind, your Savior and my Savior.
These are glorious truths which most believers know in some degree and hold them to be true. But greater and more important than all these is the fact that our God is a flowing God, therefore, He is the Flower, the ever-flowing God, of such nature that if He ceased to flow He would cease to be God. Thus, it is not strange that Abraham, after he straightened out certain difficulties with Abimelech over a well of water Genesis 21 :25-33, called upon the name of the LORD, the olam God, the ever-flowing God, Who was far more important than any well of water. In Hebrew, a language deficient in adjectives, nouns in the construct state are often used as adjectives. It was from clues such as these along with many other indications that my conviction grew that the basic, essential idea in olam was flow, in the sense of ever-flowing. This still had to be tested in every occurrence to make sure that there was no occurrence that flatly contradicted it. This was a long but very pleasant task that even yet is not finished.
At this point it needs to be carefully noted that the basic idea that sets forth the essence of a word is never a complete definition that can be used as a translation. It is actually "the thread that runs so true," to borrow from Jesse Stuart the line which he immortalized in his pleasant book under the same title. From an old mountain poem, used in a game played in the schoolyards of Kentucky and West Virginia: "The needle's eye that doth supply, the thread that runs so true." The basic idea underlying a word will lead us into a truer understanding of every occurrence. This principle can be seen in an occurrence of olam where the passage is emphasizing the blessings that were to come upon Joseph, and his aged father spoke of "the utmost bound of the everlasting hills" Genesis 49:26. In understanding this passage, the thread that runs so true must be recognized, and this would lead us to see that Jacob was speaking of "the ever-flowing hills." And if it should seem strange to describe hills as "ever-flowing," let it be remembered that God had promised to bring Israel into "a land flowing with milk and honey" Exodus 13:5. If a land can flow, then hills can do the same.
In studying the word olam one soon gets the impression that this word is also the descriptive name of a future period of time, one that is called this because of its characteristics, even as a certain season of the year is called "spring" because of that which characterizes it. For example, in Exodus 15:18 we read: "Jehovah shall govern
for the olam and beyond." Again in Psalm 45:6 we read: "Thy throne 0 God is for (in regard to) the olam and beyond." That a coming period of time characterized by certain forces and characteristics should be called "the olam," presents no problem to the one who has learned from Scripture the truth concerning the coming kingdom of God, a period of divine government, produced in its entirety by the zeal of the LORD of hosts (Isaiah 9:7).
The Biblical revelation concerning the kingdom of God is that it is a condition produced upon this earth by blessings that flow out from God. This is seen in Psalms 46:4 where we are told: "There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High." This passage is
part of a great prophecy. It is related to a time when God will speak from heaven (46:6), cause wars to cease to the end of the earth (46:9) and exalt Himself among the nations and in the earth. This is all produced by God Himself, coming to the earth as a great river, dividing into many streams, carrying its manifold blessings to the ends of
the earth. This river is an olam (flower) producing many lesser olams (out-flowing streams), all of which produces upon earth a time which is properly called by the designation of that which produced and characterizes it, the olam. The truth of the out-flowing God grows constantly as we examine the Old Testament. See Psalm 36:7-9; Isaiah 32:13-15; 33:20,21; Isaiah 44:3; 45:8; 66:12; Amos 5:24. The last passage cited is most impressive, giving us a picture of the divine forces that produce the coming eon: "But let judgment run down as waters, and
righteousness as a mighty stream."
Volumes could be written on the truth of God flowing out and flowing down. However in our limited space enough has been set forth to demonstrate the concept of God as the out flowing One is prominent in the Old Testament. It is a concept that is woven throughout all its pages and one that carries on through the New Testament. And the word that was chosen by the Spirit of God to symbolize, encompass and express this vast concept was the Hebrew word olam. This word is applied to that which produces as well as that which is produced. Even as a flood produces a flood. The idea of "out-flowing" is the thread that runs so true through every occurrence of the word olam and continues on through the word aion. In many passages this knowledge will bring great beauty and new meanings. Note this is Psalm 9:7 where we are literally told: "Jehovah shall sit as a King out-flowing." Compare this with all the monarchs who sit as kings in-flowing, who receive but never give. Consider also Psalm 29: 10: " Jehovah sits upon the flood; yea, Jehovah sits as King out-flowing." And since olam is found in the plural in Psalm 145:13, I understand this to be telling us: "Your kingdom (government) is a kingdom (government) of many out-flowings." So, there will not only be "showers of blessing," there will be rivers of blessing. Praise the Lord!
WHAT DOES ‘AION’ MEAN?
Every word has a history, and in the case of Biblical words there is much truth to be gained by searching it out. We have already considered in earlier studies that the word aion was the word selected by the Holy Spirit to be used as the exact equivalent of the Hebrew word olam, and to carry on the truth being revealed by this word. And we have seen that "the thread that runs so true" through every occurrence of olam is the idea of ever-flowing.
The student may at first feel it is impossible to relate in any way some occurrences of olam to the idea of out-flowing or ever-flowing, but this is usually due to having taken a quick glance at the passage. I do not hesitate to say that there is no occurrence of olam that cannot in an honest manner be related to this basic idea.
As an example of the thread of truth that runs through a family of words let us consider the word purse, indicating the bag which my lady carries. Does this have any relationship to the bursa in my shoulder that at one time flared up into bursitis? And is it also related to pursing the lips, or to the famous Bourse, the French stock exchange? At first glance one might say no, but the fact is that they are all closely related, and the thread that runs through all of them is the idea of hide, that is, a stripped-off skin.
It seems that it all started with the Greek word bursa, and the equivalent Latin word, both of which mean leather. This filtered into the French as bourse, which means purse, a leather sack in which money is placed, and became the name of the French stock exchange. And since we have little sacks in our shoulders, these are called
bursas. Furthermore, when we contract our lips into folds and wrinkles, it resembles a money bag when the strings are pulled and this is called pursing the lips. So, as different as some of these words seem to be from one another, there is an essential thread that runs through all of them.
Since aion was selected by divine inspiration to express the word olam in New Testament quotations of passages containing this word, it is then normal to expect that the same basic idea of flowing should be found in every occurrence. However, let it be understood that I am not suggesting that aion be translated flow, flower, or flowing in any occurrence. In translating I will always use the anglicized forms eon and eonian to render noun and adjective, but I will know from long and careful study what these words mean. In Ephesians 2:2 where the KJV reads "the course of this world," I will translate it "the eon of this world" but will know that it means "the flow of this world."
The history of the word aion is utterly fascinating, and it is why this word was selected to express and represent the word o/am. Thayer says that The Etymologicum Magnum (a book giving the derivations of all Greek words) states that aion is so connected with aemi (to breathe) that it denotes properly that which causes life, vital force. Thus, the earliest history of this word shows its use in relationship to that great out-flowing of life which constantly comes from God, apart from which nothing can live. It is even as Paul declared the universal truth: "In Him we live, and move, and have our existence" (Acts 17:28). However, this word was not originally spelled aion, but ainon, which in the course of time became shortened to aion. In the New Testament this spelling persists in a place name that is given as Aenon in our versions. In John 3:23 we read: "And John was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there." As already noted the Greek spelling of this name is Ainon, which all lexicons agree means a spring, that is, a free-flowing fountain of water. This is a positive proof that the original word had in it the meaning of ever-flowing.
The word aion is found in the Latin as aevum, which, according to Thayer, "is aion with the Aeolic digamma" (The digamma was a letter of the original Greek alphabet representing a sound that approximated the English w, which early fell into disuse. It was called "digamma" because of its resemblance to two capital gammas placed on
top of each other.) Thus when aion was carried into the Latin it became aevum, and was used to denote a cycle of time. It is from this we get our word age which we use to designate a period of time dominated by some central figure or clearly marked feature. It is evident that when the Latin made use of aevum to denote cycles of time,
he did so because he viewed time as flowing onward in cycle after cycle. In today's world there are numerous geographical names that come from aion. The name Avon is given to several rivers in Great Britain, the most famous of these being the one on which Shakespeare's town of Stratford is located. The Encyclopedia
Britannica declares that this name is of Celtic origin, appearing in Welsh (very frequently) as afon, in Manx as aon, and in Gaelic as abhuinn (pronounced avain). It appears more or less disguised in a vast number of river names all over the Celtic area of Europe. In the British Islands it appears in such forms as Evan, Aune, Anne, Ive,
Cuney, Inney: in France as Aff, Aven, Avon, Aune; in Italy as Avenza and Avens; in Portugal as Avia; in Spain as Avono. These are all names of rivers, that is, of flowing waters, and they all trace back to a common ancestor, the Greek word aion. This is most fitting since the original word meant a flow-er. I have hyphenated the word in
this occurrence so that it will not be confused with foliage or blossoms.
The elements of the word aion bear out this definition, but of this we cannot be sure, due to disputes over its origin. Etymologists think that the ai portion is actually aei, an adverb which means always, and is used in Scripture in the sense of perpetually or incessantly. The on portion is the Ionic and Doric spelling of Dun, which is another adverb. Liddell and Scott declare this is used to continue a narrative, and Thayer says it is often used as a conjunction indicating that something follows from another necessarily. All writers will recognize the importance of keeping the composition flowing, and how simple it would be to attach the sense of flow to this word. Thus in
the word aion we have the sense of always-flowing, just as we also have the sense of something flowing in our word then. For example: "He walked through the door, then turned."
Classical Greek writers used the word aion in what seems to be strange ways, yet all of these become quite clear when we know that the idea of flow or flowing is basic in this word. They used it as a descriptive name for the spinal cord. This has always been quite puzzling, but now it is clear and also forms an excellent illustration.
Since the brain is ever-flowing, from the moment of conception to the moment of death, it is the most important eon in our bodies. Its messages pour into the brain stem (another eon) and from it to the spinal cord (another eon) which also flows out in nervous impulses to other nerves (also eons) which continue to other nerves until they
have reached their extremity. Thus, it can be seen that such terms as "the eon," "the eon of the eon," "the eon of the eons," and "the eons of the eons" could all be applied to the system that operates in the human body. This should certainly help us to understand these terms in connection with that marvelous system that will be in
existence when God governs the world.
One of the most important uses of olam and its companion word aion in the Bible is as a name or descriptive title for that condition of things which will be manifest upon this earth when God's government, the kingdom of God, becomes a reality. In many places in the New Testament this entire period of time is simply called the eon. This is
not at all strange since that condition of things upon the earth is produced by God in Christ flowing out and flowing down in many streams, each one producing its beneficent effect upon the earth and those upon it. Many passages in Scripture will speak clearer than ever before when we realize that in many places "the eon" is another name for "the kingdom of God." If God's government should come today, bringing in this glorious eon, there are many who would perish in relationship to it. There is no place in the coming eon for such as those described in
1 Corinthians 6:9-10. God will determine (judge) who among the living will be allowed to continue to live in that time of the outflow of His blessings (2 Timothy 4:1).
Jesus Christ said: "I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in Me, though he may be dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall by no means be dying in respect to the eon" (John 11:25,26). The words "he that believeth" and "whosoever believeth" are all-inclusive. I do not hesitate to put myself into this passage. If I should be dead when God assumes sovereignty, then I will be raised, and this because I have believed in Him. If I am living, then I am in no danger of being eliminated from that eon to come, and this too will be because I have believed in Him. Believers have the guarantee of life in the coming eon. This is the promise of eonian life. There is much more to be considered, yes, that needs to be considered From experience I know that some will actually resent the fact that I did not do all the work for them. To these I say, "Get your pick and shovel and go to work. There is a lot of digging to do and much rubbish and rubble to be removed."
THE EONS OF THE EONS
Beyond all shadow of a doubt, the most elusive term in Scripture is that concerned with the meaning of the Hebrew word olam and the Greek word aion. For centuries past men have claimed that the meaning of the Greek
word aion signifies "an indefinite, long period of time" or "an age." With this definition theologians have made one of the worst blunders that is possible to conceive. They have stretched the meaning into such terms as
"forever," "evermore," "eternal," and "everlasting." These words, although found in most Bibles, are void of any profound meaning. In fact, there is no word in all the original manuscripts that conveys the idea of "everlasting" or
"eternal" in the sense of time. Neither is there any word that can accurately and consistently be translated to mean "endless time."
It has become my deep conviction that the principle meaning of the word aion (eon) is primarily related to the nature of "God absolute." Only a Spirit filled understanding of the word aion and its companion terms aionos and
aionon can provide the key to unlocking the meaning of God's word. These words do not only reveal the character of God's past dealings with mankind, but also the present day of grace and the future times which lie ahead for
mankind. Only as men begin to understand the Scriptural teaching of the aion will they be able to enter into the vast treasures of wisdom and knowledge that God has been pleased to conceal within His word. Isaiah declared, Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being His counselor hath taught Him? With whom took He counsel, and who instructed Him, and taught Him in the path of judgment, and taught Him knowledge, and showed to Him the way of understanding? (Isaiah 40: 13-14).
Lacking a clear and concise knowledge of the meaning of this word, the Bible will forever remain an enigma. Only as men seek diligently to understand what the Scriptures teach concerning the eons, in which God will
flow out to mankind, will they enjoy the satisfying realization of His love which transcends all knowledge. The late Otis Q. Sellers made the discovery that the essential idea contained in the Hebrew word olam and the equivalent Greek word aion is that which flows. This is a revelation which concerns God's character; something He has revealed about Himself which can be called "the truth of the ever-flowing God." This concept is clearly established in such passages which speak of God's promise to bring Israel into a land "flowing with milk and honey". The enormity of this truth can be seen by an examination of some key passages. The Psalmist David spoke of a time when men will "put their trust under the shadow of Thy wings and cause them to drink of Thy pleasures" (Psalms 36:7-9). Consider Amos 5:24 which provides a picture of God's government in operation. "But let (cause) judgment to run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream." These judgments of God flowing down to mankind will radically transform life on earth.
One of the most important uses of olam and its companion word aion in the Bible is a name or descriptive title for that condition of things which will be manifested on this earth when God's government, the Kingdom of God, becomes a reality. This majestic period of time has been designated in Scripture by the familiar term "forever."
However, the importance of this truth has been obscured by the concept of "forever." The word "forever," which in reality has no meaning, is used in our English Bibles. This word is found twelve times in the Gospel of John. It
is a translation of the Greek phrase eis ton aiona, which, when properly translated signifies "in relation to the eon." This is the eon, which God has set in the heart of every man (Ecclesiastes 3: 11). In each of these twelve occurrences something of great importance has been said as it relates to the coming Kingdom of God. Only as we become familiar with these individual passages, which describe the character of divine government, can we gain further insight into the blessings of the eon.
In the first occurrence of this term, John 4:13-14, we observe the Lord speaking to the woman at Jacob's well and saying, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. The words "shall never" are a poor translation, since the passage is the negative phrase me
eis ton aiona (not in relation to the eon). In this passage Jesus spoke of "water" in a symbolic sense. The "water" upon which men so strongly depend, in a literal sense, will never fully satisfy a man's thirst. Whereas "that water that I shall give him shall become in him a fountain of water springing up in relation to the eon (eis ton aiona)." The word translated "springing up" has reference to an artesian well in which water is constantly gushing forth. The primary characteristic of eonian life is that it (the outflow of God) provides everything essential to man's existence. This same truth is expressed in John 6:51 where Jesus made the profound declaration, I am the
living bread which came out of heaven (a veiled reference to God Himself), if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever (eis ton aiona). In other words, he will live upon the earth during eonian times or
with respect to the eon.
Understand that the crucial needs which men possess and relate to their survival include water and bread, without which men could not long expect to live. Men privileged to live upon the earth during Eonian Times will
experience God's perfect provision for every conceivable need. These include spiritual development as well as their physical needs. Throughout the Acts Period, the Kingdom of God was present in the earth, comparable to
the blade and ear stages of growing grain (Christ's parable in Mark 4:28). This became manifest in the lives of thousands (myriads--tens of thousands, Acts 21:20) of men on whom God lavished His Spirit. As the result of this great outpouring of the Holy Spirit, which began on the day of Pentecost, a vast number of men appeared on the scene who displayed spectacular powers. These were men upon whom God conferred the gifts of the spirit, . . . For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits, to another divers kinds of tongues (many
languages); to another the interpretation of tongues; but all these worketh that one and self same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will (1 Corinthians 12:5-11). No man having received the gift of the spirit could claim that it originated within himself. Consider the case of the Apostle Peter in Acts 3 in which he displayed the supernatural gift of healing.
There we read of a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered the temple; who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms (Acts 3:2-3). Upon seeing the plight of this man Peter said to him, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have I give thee; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. . . And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God (Acts 3:6-8). We need to understand that Peter and the Acts Period believers became recipients of the Spirit and power of God. In this capacity these men, like Philip who had the ability to speak the truth of God and perform miracles, (Acts 8:5-8) became "eons." There are no such men living today through whom such miracles are being performed. My studies of the use that the Bible makes of the word aion have led me to the conclude that this powerful term cannot only be applied to God, or the character of Eonian Times, but also to a unique company of men called "believers in Christ."
This concept must not be easily dismissed. Once God's Kingdom becomes a reality, a vast company of men will appear on the earth, including many who have died but since have been resurrected from the dead, who will serve God as "flowing eons." It is my belief that every prophet, judge, counselor or priest, including men like Moses, Joshua, David, Joel and Jeremiah, who served God in ancient times became "eons," in and through whom God saw fit to "flow out" (with wisdom and instruction) to Israel and the nations as "living eons." These men were not merely God's spokesmen, but became men in and through whom God saw fit to flow out to Israel and the nations. David's words contained in the book of Psalms are an example of God "flowing out" to all mankind.
In the book of Revelation we find no less than thirteen occurrences of the Greek phrase eis tous aionoas, translated "forever and ever." This Greek phrase should read "unto the eons of the eons." It appears in Revelation 11:15 where John, the author of this book, declared . . . The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ, and He shall reign with respect to the eons of the eons. There is no man living today who can properly be called "an eon." This is because of the present silence of God. No man living today can claim divine authorization with respect to making God known to men.
Once God assumes the reigns of government every man qualified to be a member of His ekklesia will serve God, either in a capacity of government or as an expression of the God of all grace (l Peter 5:10). Every man so
designated by God will function as an "out-flowing eon." Our ability to serve God in that capacity is not based on our qualifications, but upon the gift of grace. Our future destiny is dramatically linked to Eonian Times during
which God will instruct men with respect to His judgments. Following some 500 years of being taught by God, the believers will enter into the 1000-year reign of Christ. This is characterized by the apokalupsin or the "unveiling of Jesus Christ." As God continues to flow out during this particular time, His out-positioned ones will participate in the out-flowings of God. In this capacity we will become part of "the eons of the eons," and will
glorify God who will be exalted in all the earth.
Rightly Divide the Word of truth - 2 Timothy 2:15