God Stuff (Antichrist! You better spell it right! )

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AuthorTopic: God Stuff (Antichrist! You better spell it right! )
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Oh! So Jewel is Mynt!
To you also I send love and spiritual chocolates!

Thank you to both you and Synergy, as well as Alec, for being thoughtful, polite and humble.

Can I offer a thought from a friend of mine who calls himself the last of the Bogomils?

To be human is a gift. It is a gift to have the opportunity not to be what one must be, like an animal, but to be what one can be.
Why is it that way? Why isn’t a human also simply what a human is? Why is it so complicated? Probably because it is given to the human to touch the doors of something that is somewhere beyond.
Something beyond? That thing whose reflection sometimes glows inside us and fulfils us with beauty unreachable by our earthly senses.

We are all searching: there are no simple answers. We try to grow towards the light, but we are never going to reach it. The search is the important thing, and we all see part of the truth. Jesus is my window to the light, and I think he is a perfect window, but language is imperfect and constantly shifing, and so the image is distorted.

Anyway, I salute you all.

I am a pale shadow of the previous self.

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Hmm, rrrr, um, yeah, well...a new exercise in concision and keeping my promise to say something about...

E t e r n i t y .

Bottom line: Almost nothing in the Bible book actually has anything to say about true forevers, and the eastern mind doesn’t tend to think or speak in those terms. In Greek, as Kel earlier pulled up, there is a word for eternity and eternal, and a word for age and age-lasting. Guess which one is used in every "eternal" case but one in the New Testament? It’s scandalous, really. It’s Aion, an "age", from which we get in English, "eon", which also definitely does not mean forever, though it may be a long period of time. It’s very telling that where it would make no sense at all otherwise, “age” was sometimes correctly translated from aion. Do you smell arbitrary translating? I do. The politics of why aion and its derivations got turned into eternities in translation over time is another topic.

Young’s Literal Translation gets it right every time.

Why is the proper use of the word “aion” in Bible translation so critical? Because upon it alone rests the terrifying doctrine of eternal torment as opposed to a very different and purposeful “age-abiding correction” (remember that the word translated “torment”, as in “eternal torment” is the Greek term “touchstoning”, which speaks of the process used to test the purity of gold, and is not about torture as the translated word implies.) This is not to say there is not suffering in refinement, especially when we don’t go willingly.

One other simple indicator (not listed below) of the ridiculousness of translating “aion” as “eternity” is this common idiom used in the NT which we translate “for ever and ever”. For Eternity and eternity? How can you add to eternity? “Ages and ages” and “ages of ages” make sense.

It’s not my work below, but offers some specific info on relevant usage of “aion”. If you want the full article this comes from, go HERE.. If you care at all about whether it is likely God really does inflict or permit eternal torture of anyone, I strongly recommend you read the article. It’s kind of important if you’re going to believe in God at all. You want to know Him rightly, I should think, and what was said originally 2000 years ago before the fear-mongers and the political-religious fusion took hold over the simple gospel of good news to all.

"...our King James version renders it, together with the adjective
AIONIOS as "age, course, eternal, for ever, evermore, for ever and ever,
everlasting, world, beginning of the world, world began, world without end."
What a horrible mixture!


Let us look at how the word AION is used in a number of passages. About 37
times in the New Testament it is rendered "world," twice as "worlds," twice
as "ages," and once as "course." Every place where the word "eternal"
appears, with but one exception, it is a translation of this word AION or
its adjective form AIONIOS. Twice it is rendered "evermore." Ever place
where the word "everlasting" appears, but one, it is this same word or its
adjective form. With but thirteen exceptions, every place where the word
"ever" appears it is the same word or its adjective form. And aside from all
this confusion, the word also appears in the plural, and in a number of
confusing combinations, such as "the aion of the aion," "the aion of the
aions," and "the aions of the aions," etc.

Some of the passages where AION is found will give us added information
concerning it. In Eph. 2:7 we find, "in the ages (aions) to come." In Col.
1:26 we find, "the mystery which hath been hid from ages (aions). " In Eph.
2:2 we find "ye walked, according to the course aion of this world." In Heb.
1:2 we find, "by whom also He made the worlds (aions)." In Heb. 11:3 we
find, "the worlds (aions) were formed by the Word of God." In about fifteen
instances, such as Mat. 12:32, 1 Cor. 1:20, etc., we find it rendered "this
world (aion). " Twice we find "this present world (aion). " In Gal. 1:4 we
find, "deliver us from this present evil world (aion)." In Eph. 6:12 we
find, "the rulers of the darkness of this world (aion)." In 11 Cor. 4:4 we
find, "the god of this world (aion)." In I Cor. 2:6 we find, "the wisdom of
this world (aion)." In Lk. 16:8 we find, "the children of this world
(aion)." In Mk. 4:19 we find, "the cares of this world (aion)." How much
more understandable it would be if the translators had used the word age
instead of world!

In Mk. 10:30 we find that there is not only this present aion, which is
evil, but also "the world (aion) to come." In Lk. 20:35 we find, "but they
that shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world (aion), and the
resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage." In
Heb. 6:5 we find, "and have tasted...the powers of the world (aion) to
come." And in Lk. 1:70, Jn. 9:32, etc., we find that the aion had a
beginning: "since the world (aion) began."

And now in reviewing the Scriptures we have just quoted we note that this
aion is something which has a king; it has princes; it is in darkness; it
had a beginning; it has an ending; it is evil; it has wisdom; it has
children who marry; it has cares. The aions we find were made by Christ,
simply through His spoken Word, and we also find in Col. 1:26 that the
mystery of Christ in us, the hope of glory, has been hidden from these

Now, if AION means ETERNAL, consider how ridiculous the Word of God would
be! The Holy Spirit would be found saying, "the mystery which has been hid
from eternities;" "the mystery of Christ which in other eternities was not
made known;" "in the eternities to come;" "Ye walked according to the
eternity of this world;" "by whom also He made the eternities;" "the rulers
of the darkness of this eternity;" "now once in the end of the eternities
hath He appeared;" "the harvest is the end of the eternity;" "since eternity
began;" "in the eternities to come," etc. etc. Let the scholars whose
business it is delve into the many intricacies of expression, and worry over
the many grammatical combinations. Suffice it to say here that there have
been "aions" in the past, there is this present "aion," and there are
"aions" to come. And these all combined make up TIME, encompassing the whole
of the progressive plan and program of God for the development of His

Any thinking person should clearly see that if you translate the word AION
which means an age by the word eternal, which has nothing to do with time,
you immediately get the wrong idea. The same thing applies when the word
AION is translated by the word world. It is incorrect and brings nothing but
confusion. That is why so many Christians have been worrying about "the end
of the world" when they should have been understanding God's special dealing
here at "the end of the age." There is a great deal of difference between
the expression, "He shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever," and
the expression, "He shall be tormented day and night unto the ages of the
ages." For ever and ever has no end. The ages of the ages do have an end,
and their end will see every knee bowing and every tongue confessing that
Jesus Christ is the Lord to the glory of God the Father. (Phil. 2:10; Rom.
14:10-11). The first expression forbodes complete hopelessness for billions
and makes the faith of God of none effect. The second expression, which is
completely correct, not only offers hope but expresses the ultimate
fulfillment of the purpose which was purposed in Christ Jesus before the
world began or before the ages were framed.""

P.S. Thanks Saunders. Nice thoughts.

[ Wednesday, November 09, 2005 20:19: Message edited by: Synergy67 ]

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As a clarification, although aiôn and aiônios literally meant an indefinitely long but finite period of time, they were used figuratively to mean "forever" on a fairly regular basis in Classical Greek. The LSJ cites Plato in the Timaeus, for instance, in 37d, where he clearly means something unending. Indeed, if I'm reading the LSJ correctly, this was becoming more standard usage as time went by — Hesiod in the early years of Greek writing used it more strictly as an age, but by Plato's time, it would've been more clearly eternal, and the rather colloquial Roman-era Greek of the NT probably would've leaned more towards the "forever" meaning.

Also, aiôn was also used to mean the state of the world and figuratively the world itself from time to time. The LSJ makes that quite clear.

That said, I'm not sure if that actually matters to any of those points, which I haven't looked at closely. For all I know, that argument still stands as a less loose reading of the text. After all, I'm not much with Koine yet.

And it is definitely true that the KJV's translations tend to be misleading, those which aren't nonsensical (the classic example being the first few verses of John), which is why all who care about the Bible need to learn Greek.

[ Thursday, November 10, 2005 07:03: Message edited by: Kelandon ]

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Kel - Something I've always been sorta curious about is Jesus' description of himself as "the Son of Man". I've never really understood why he said that. Does this have some sort of meaning in the original that gets lost in translation?

A possibilty that popped into my head was that he was actually referring to himself as "the Son of Adam". However, not understanding the subtleties of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, I don't know whether this has something to it or is just a random wacky idea.

Not really related to the discussion at hand, but it looked like a good spot to ask.

[ Wednesday, November 09, 2005 21:37: Message edited by: Ash Lael ]

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Kel, you may have just described one of the most basic reasons why, by the time the Church was instituationalized under the Roman Emperor Constantine in the 4th Century, people read "eternity" where original writers meant "age". This wound up in the Latin Vulgate Bibles which eventually became off-limits to any but the clergy, and the Catholic Church alone dictated doctrine to millions for many centuries thereafter. There is tremendous power in wielding fear over the masses with the threat of a God Who is going to torture them forever if they don’t play by all the rules the Church lays down...and don’t forget to tithe!

Whichever way, there are plenty of uses of aion where "eternity" clearly cannot be the correct translation, because it is nonsensical, which shows those writers used aion to mean an age a good deal of the time, at the very least. So, if we cannot determine their intent in the more controversial uses, then I think any reasonable person would have to consider the following:

(A) It is at least entirely possible that many or all uses of aion in Bible texts were intended to mean "age". There are many places where "age" is clearly the most sensible translation right off the bat, which the article I referenced makes evident. So, who knew then, and who decides now which use goes where? What use of the word would religious or trained persons like the apostle Paul be likely to use? The Scriptures are hardly a jocular product. If a word existed in Greek to convey wihout doubt the meaning “eternal”, why would the Holy Spirit take a chance of misinterpretation and confusion by using a word like “aion” which could and certainly originally only did mean “age”? The people who should argue this case the strongest, ironically, are the ones who place absolute faith in the perfectness of the inspiration and maintenance of Scriptures. God is not careless with words. Why did He not use the word which most clearly meant “eternal”?

(B) We have to assume that there was some gauge for the people of the time to whom Paul's letters of gospel doctrines, etc. were addressed by which they could know the intended use of the word in each case. Paul was much too scholarly and educated a man to be sloppy with his communication. A consistent use of the word makes more sense to me in this context than an unpredictable mixture of uses with no indication which meaning is intended in some cases.

(C) Our studies of ancient Greek language and useage in certain cases such as this might be making assumptions or filling in blanks, or reading something backwards into the equation, if perhaps we simply can't be sure now. Is our present evidence complete enough to be sure? Kel, I'm sure you could comment more on that issue. All I know is we tend to come up with great explanations for things which can be entirely in error, where absolute fact is not forthcoming.

(D) In the event that we today simply cannot know for certainty any of these aspects and determine how people in the first century A.D. would have understood the use of such words, we, who concern ourselves with the nature of God and the gospel have to put it all together in context of what else we are told about God, His intentions, His nature, and so forth.

When we look at the full breadth of God throughout Scripture and especially as unveiled in the gospels, it is plain to me that it is only consistent with His nature of love and omnipotence that He could not to be the sort to either wish to or need to torture billions for "eternities of eternities" or "to the eternity of the eternities", but for the necessary age or ages of time to achieve the desired correction, like a Father disciplines children He loves unto correction. It's common sense. It's what we as humans understand of the nature of love and wisdom. Torturing even your worst enemies for the sake of "punishment" is only possible if you are a sadist who does not know the ways of mercy or forgiveness or grace...or decency. Putting someone to death for his heinous crimes is much more merciful than torturing them for as long as you can possibly keep them alive.

It blows me away how Christendom has been able to reconcile that vision of their Father all these long centuries, and find it somehow consistent with “love” and “wisdom” and a “Father”. It blows me away that I was able to wholly believe it for the first 16 years of my life. I always felt fear and dis-ease about God because of this belief, but never thought to question it outright during that time. I too, like so many, assumed there were wise, benevolent people who knew everything perfectly and that our Bibles were correct and perfect, etc. It was there on the page, whether I liked it or not.

So, it comes down to common sense in lieu of some kind of historical absolute proof beyond doubt. What is the nature of the kind of love the Bible describes and demonstrates along with all the other statements and promises we are given about God and His purposes? Eternal torture doesn’t fit in, unless you’re the kind of God Who secretly admires the fiendish imaginations of someone like the Marquis de Sade.

And really, if common sense isn’t sufficient, and apparently, for a long time it hasn’t been for millions of good, trusting folk, then that communion with the Spirit of God, Holy Spirit, should invite confirmation of such a thing critical to His nature and heart. How many believers actually ask God to reveal the truth of the matter to them, seek, search, wait, and surrender former biases in quest of His truth, not safety in institutional and popular belief or surrender to supposed earthly “authorities” on the matter. When it comes down to it, believers should seek many such things to be answered, confirmed, and expanded upon personally in their spiritual dialog with God.

Ash — one thing I recall about "Adam" in Hebrew context is that it means "ruddy", such as the color of blood in the face, talking about our flesh and blood quality presumably. "Man" in Hebrew is "ish" and woman is "isha"—a female man.

Here are some interesting NT uses of “Adam”.

Lu 3:38 son of Enosh, son of Seth, son of Adam, son of God.

Adam is called a son of God, just like Jesus was called Son of God. What shall we deduce from that?

Ro 5:14 Yet Death reigned as king from Adam to Moses even over those who had not sinned, as Adam did, against Law. And in Adam we have a type of Him whose coming was still future.

Adam was a type (a symbol, an example) of the Christ to come in some fashion.

1Co 15:22 For just as through Adam all die, so also through Christ all will be made alive again.

I have elaborated greatly on this point already. All died spiritually because of and through Adam. All are made alive again because of and through Christ.

1Co 15:45 In the same way also it is written, <"The first man Adam became a living being";> the last Adam is a life-giving Spirit.

Jesus is compared with the first Adam and is called “the last Adam.” This corresponds with the view in the 1 Cor 15:22 passage above. Spiritually speaking there are only two men in all of creation. The first Adam witnessed in literal(?) Adam and in all humankind who came out of Adam, even if Adam was never literally one man—and as far as I am concerned he doesn’t have to be, but could be the symbol for the first human being(s). And we have the last Adam, who is Christ Jesus, the Savior and redeemer of all the humankind who fell through the first Adam. “Joshua” was a variation on the name Jesus and also meant “savior”, incidentally.

We were made partakers of the first Adam through no choice of our own (so much for “free will” — and we all are also made partakers of the last Adam, Jesus Christ through no choice of our own, when He blotted out sin from our account “once for all”. This is how He can be called the Savior of the world. The debt is removed from all, but we, accustomed to the lot of the first Adam, have largely remained sin conscious and become the enemy of God and His purposes in our own minds. The door to the cell is opened, but the slaves who have never known freedom largely stay inside, not comprehending either their slavery or their freedom. It is like a snake with its head cut off which continues to writhe for a time.

There are only two men, the first and the last Adam. The first is a son of God and the last is a son of God. God is the Alpha and Omega, so He says, the first and the last. It’s all God A-Z. It comes out of Him. It returns into Him, and in the end He is “all in all”, just as all came out from Him.

This too is why the doctrine of eternal separation of so much of the first Adam from the last Adam is not consistent with so much other scripture which paints God as very much purposeful, sovereign, and in control of the agencies of “good and evil” which serve His will.

The immediate point being that Jesus was in a way identified with Adam in a special way, though He didn’t call Himself that as far as we have recorded.

[ Wednesday, November 09, 2005 22:44: Message edited by: Synergy67 ]

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Ash: Evidently "the Son of Man" business comes from "ho huios tou anthrôpou," which literally means "the son of the person," and it gives the impression to me of "the son of humanity" — Greek (like French or Spanish) likes to give an article to abstract nouns in a way that English wouldn't. Interestingly, there are two words for a man in Greek, anêr and anthrôpos, and he uses the latter, even though the former is more, er, virile. By using anthôpos, he's strongly suggesting all of humanity, not merely a great man.

The explanation that I've heard is that it's a Messianic thing. Daniel 7:13 makes reference to the Son of Man in a Messianic context. I can't speak directly from the Hebrew, because I don't know it, but my footnotes tell me that Adam does have something to do with the word "man," so that may be involved.

Originally written by Synergy67:

If a word existed in Greek to convey wihout doubt the meaning “eternal”, why would the Holy Spirit take a chance of misinterpretation and confusion by using a word like “aion” which could and certainly originally only did mean “age”?
You're not seriously suggesting that the NT was written primarily to be clear and precise, are you? Why did Jesus speak in parables all the time?

If the Holy Spirit really wrote it, then all bets are off, but if a person wrote it, then I'd expect the word to have the meaning that it did in first century conversational Greek.

Paul was much too scholarly and educated a man to be sloppy with his communication.
Paul, perhaps, but not the author of the Gospel of John, which was the verse you had me look up. None of the authors of the NT were rhetorical masters on par with Demosthenes or Plato, and it's pretty clear that the authors of the Gospels were not among the most linguistically talented. Some attempted high prose, but none could really pull it off. So it's likely that they meant what aiôn would've meant in colloquial Greek at the time.

Is our present evidence complete enough to be sure?
With a common word such as this, yes. A great many of the classical writers use it, and those classical writers were continously commented on by grammarians from times nearly contemporary with them all the way to the present day by speakers of Modern Greek. Some of the more obscure dialects of Greek — Sappho's dialect, for instance — may have words that we aren't completely sure about, but the Koine of the NT comes directly from Attic and turns into Modern Greek, so it's pretty thoroughly understood.

When we look at the full breadth of God throughout Scripture and especially as unveiled in the gospels, it is plain to me
And already you reveal the failing in your argument. Your conclusion may be correct, but this rationale is never adequate.

[ Thursday, November 10, 2005 07:44: Message edited by: Kelandon ]

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Tell me Syn, because I'm curious, and I haven't been here, you believe souls are eternal, correct? My main question is this: What is going to happen when we're all "in God" (or however you describe your utopian universe)?

"Oh, North Wind, why frighten others?
In Nature's family all are brothers.
Puff and blow and wheeze and hiss;
You can't frighten Shingebiss.
Bring your frost and ice and snow;
I'm still free to come and go.
You can never frighten me,
One who never fears is FREE!"
-Shingebiss, the mighty duck
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DP, why is it “mine”? I didn't invent these ideas or write the Bible promises. God “all in all” is right out of scripture and many accommodating promises of what the kingdom does and becomes in the world.

The answer to your first question, is yes, I think there is something about our discrete soul/spirit which is meant to persist for a very long time, if not always. As for the nature of the future universe (I didn’t say utopia), I have no fixed idea, and I'm not worried about it. I trust in the nature of God and how mind-bogglingly inventive, clever, purposeful, and good He is in what He does and where it all goes. When we trust in the character of someone with authority, we don’t have to worry about the details we really aren’t ready to comprehend yet anyway.

Ideas I have which are way off the map: first we learn to perfect our planet here, earth. After that, as “sons” grow up and desire to become fathers themselves, authors, shapers and “creators” in the image of our Father Who is all those things, I think we will expand in what we desire, are able, and given to do. Being given authority in our Father with our spiritual accountability gained from having come through the long travail of our trial of the “good and evil” experience, there is a nearly infinitely vast universe out there to explore, fill, shape, play with, enjoy, witness to, fill with life...I don’t know. How big is your imagination or mine? Well, God is way bigger and more inventive than that, for sure.

I think there are unbelievably cool, exciting, potent experiences and deeds for us all to do, fulfilling the unique kinds of gifts and desires God gave us and which are meant to be fulfilled in much better ways than we’d dare imagine. When we are responsible enough to do it in love, truth, and wisdom, I think we will be given a lot of keys to the universe. Man is drawn even now outward to the universe about us. This desire is to be fulfilled. God’s not one to waste things, including the universe or the desires of our hearts. I think we have prejudged and limited many things in our thinking, merely because it has not yet been the time for these things to unfold. We are like children or adolescents looking at adult things which seem entirely out of our grasp.

I know He’s got way more up His sleeve than I can begin to guess. I think that "all in all" state is a long way off (ages to come) and we all have much to experience in getting there, individually and collectively as human beings. I see no evidence that God is the sort Who hurries anything. I tend to believe in some kind of likely restoration of all souls past, present, and future on this earth into renewed bodies at some time, as this earth too is transformed to accommodate many more lives.

But the main focus of the point is that every knee has finally bowed (figuratively, spiritually) in loving submission to the Lord and every life surrendered to and filled with the life of God and all things made new, including all hearts, when God’s “divine fire” judgements and disciplines to correct nations and individuals have taken their course in all lives. There is promise of our mortal bodies being transformed to reflect the incorruptible life gained in God, so our bodies too will change. So much of what Christianity dreams of seeing “in heaven” is akin to the sorts of things I picture coming forth upon this actual earth, as heaven and earth fuse in a new creation which is both physical and spiritual combined in some marvelous way—like the resurrected body of Jesus showed.

I like to think about these things and imagine what could be, but anything I can think up is bound to be way off and fall far short. Simply, the phrase “all in all” means God/Christ have become everything to everyone—and everything has come to reflect that divine filling and harmony.

Kel, thanks for your input. I note you didn’t address my issue of obvious numerous non-sensical uses of aion if, as you suggest, those who wrote the NT were so likely to have used it in what you believe was the common idiomatic meaning of aion in the first century—eternity. It is plain that many times it was NOT intended or even possible for it to mean eternity. So are you going to decide now arbitrarily in which cases it was used to mean “age” and which times it means “eternal”? Doesn’t this seem sloppy and non-intuitive when you are writing a religious text for future generations—mixing word use with no way for the reader to know which meaning is intended? How helplessly confusing, just like church doctrines have become today.

Kel, you’re just beginning to really learn your things as a young man. I trust you will readily admit there is much more to understand than you have yet mastered. People spend lifetimes studying one language or culture or history. You’ll forgive me if I don’t automatically presume your authority on the subject of the Greek language, though I find your knowledge interesting and helpful. And I will certainly admit that I know precious little much of anything in the big picture. I don’t worship knowledge when it comes down to it, because as it is written, “knowledge puffs up”. I value truth, insight, heart, and passion fused with a good mind.

I also know you don’t believe in a Holy Spirit or God’s inspiration or revelation figuring into the scriptural equation at all, and most who believe in God in the Christian sense, believe in this operation of God to some degree—mostly to the extreme degree really, as you know. The book of Revelation is just an acid trip or delirious episode of an old exile on a desert island, without an assumption of revelation from God. But as you said, if there is a Holy Spirit involved in the process, all bets are off. Gods ways are higher than our ways, His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. We have to ascertain spiritually to be granted access to them.

Even though I argue a stance that God permits humanity to come through in the persons to whom He gives inspirations and revelations, I also think, especially in the moment of experience, He is effective at clear communication. It is mostly what we do afterwards with revelation which mucks it up. The four gospels likely weren’t written till many years after the events in them occurred. This makes them less “inspired” and reliable to me than Paul’s personal letters based upon his spiritual revelation received during his three years of seeking in Arabia and his ongoing faith and advice developing as an apostle.

[ Thursday, November 10, 2005 10:00: Message edited by: Synergy67 ]

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Two preliminary things: first, I'm not at all trying to debate matters of theology or whatever. I'm simply tryinig to convey what the meanings of the sentences probably are. My interest is linguistic, not spiritual.

Second, I am not any sort of authority on Koine Greek. However, I do know how to read the LSJ — not as simple as it sounds — and the LSJ is the Classical Greek-to-English dictionary, like the OED for modern English. I would take it pretty seriously.

Now then, I appear to have omitted something that I intended to say earlier: the word is two-fold. It's not a question of whether the author (Holy Spirit or human) could've intended to be sloppy or unclear: it is definitely known that it is ambiguous, not because we're not familiar with the word, but because it had two meanings (and more, in fact, according to the LSJ). In the conversational Greek of the first century, it clearly meant both an indefinitely long age and an infinitely long age. Pinning it down as solely the former meaning is just as wrong as insisting that it always held the latter meaning.

I'm not saying that your argument about eternity is wrong. I'm just saying that it is a single interpretation, one of many that make sense. That's why it's "your" belief, as DP said.

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Thanks for the clarification Kel, fair 'nuff.

Let me put it this way: Everywhere that "aion" was used in the Bible, translating it as "age" makes good sense, whereas in many places, "eternity" makes no sense. When, if it is ambiguous whether or not eternity could have been implied, we have to look for consistency with other Scriptures talking about the nature of and purpose of the "fires" and corrections of God—and His simple principles of “let the punishment fit the crime”, etc. If it doesn't fit that the fire is literally eternal—that eternal punishment fits the crime of a few wanton years upon earth,—even if figuratively it appears to be stated thusly, then we shouldn't have to worry about that being the literal implication. Perhaps scripture is sloppy in its native language. I make no requirement one way or the other. Humanity leaks through, plainly, at the very least.

So, as my own new challenge to myself, playing my own devil’s advocate that perhaps we can’t feel we “know” anything for sure about eternity from the New Testament, let’s look at other idiomatic uses of “forever” elsewhere in scripture that even suggest “eternal fires”.

Ezekiel 20:47-48: “say to the forest of the Negeb, Hear the word of the LORD: Thus says the Lord GOD, Behold, I will kindle a fire in you, and it shall devour every green tree in you and every dry tree; the blazing flame shall not be quenched, and all faces from south to north shall be scorched by it. All flesh shall see that I the LORD have kindled it; it shall not be quenched."

Is this fire still burning? It was not quenched as long as it had something to burn and served its purpose ordained by God. Are human souls made of some eternally combustive material so that should they be found in “fire”, that their fire would literally also never be quenched?

Isaiah 34: 9-10 And the streams of Edom shall be turned into pitch, and her soil into brimstone; her land shall become burning pitch. Night and day it shall not be quenched; its smoke shall go up for ever. From generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass through it for ever and ever.

Is Edom still burning pitch today and forever more? Is no one able today to walk through the land that once was Edom? Apart from the actual Hebrew words used underneath the “forevers” here, is it possible that God speaks idiomatically in terms of “forever” and “never quenched” and “never dying” when we all know perfectly rationally that these things of course DO have a natural end in time at some point? There is a principle that God’s works do not go unfinished, and it is not put to a stop by any other agency. God does what He wills and carries it out, and there is none to interrupt Him, for there are no other gods to stop Him.

Mal 1:4 If Edom says, "We are shattered but we will rebuild the ruins," the LORD of hosts says, "They may build, but I will tear down, till they are called the wicked country, the people with whom the LORD is angry for ever."

God is angry with Edom “forever”. Yet, let us see what the inspired Psalmist, David had to say about the Lord’s anger and mercy:

Psalm 103: 2-9 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the Pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good as long as you live so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
The LORD works vindication and justice for all who are oppressed. He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel. The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger for ever.

Ps 139:8 If I ascend to heaven, thou art there! If I make my bed in Sheol, thou art there!

God even redeems your life from the Pit, from the grave, from Sheol, from Hades...from hell. Moreover, God’s love and mercy are steadfast, firmly rooted, integral to Who He is. He is not capricious and arbitrary and prone to the petty resentments, grudges, and cruelly destructive vengeance of men. And David states, “Nor will He keep His anger for ever.”

So which is it? Is God forever angry with Edom which burns forever, or is “forever” a long time until it is time for mercy and correction and even possible restoration to occur? Sodom itself is coming back one day to a promised restoration of some sort (and I think this speaks of the souls, rather than the literal city).

Eze 16:53 "I will restore their fortunes, both the fortunes of Sodom and her daughters, and the fortunes of Sama'ria and her daughters, and I will restore your own fortunes in the midst of them

Yes, God restores Israel 2000 years after committing an “unpardonable” sin, which was not to be forgiven them in “this aion” or in “the aion to come”, yet in 1948, the prophecy of Ezekiel began to be fulfilled when Israel had its fortunes in the form of its nationhood restored.

Mt 12:32 And whoever says a word against the Son of man will be forgiven; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

Jer 7:20 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, my anger and my wrath will be poured out on this place, upon man and beast, upon the trees of the field and the fruit of the ground; it will burn and not be quenched."

This was a prophecy against Jerusalem. Is Jerusalem still burning today?


Jer 17: 27 But if you do not listen to me, to keep the sabbath day holy, and not to bear a burden and enter by the gates of Jerusalem on the sabbath day, then I will kindle a fire in its gates, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem and shall not be quenched.'"

Is a fire still burning today at the gates of Jerusalem?

Mark 9:43 And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go to hell (gehenna-the place outside Jerusalem where trash was burned), to the unquenchable fire.

Gehenna is not burning today. Did Jesus lie?

47 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell (gehenna),
48 where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.

Do worms never die, actually, literally? Do any fires anywhere truly burn forever? This kind of imagery associated with God’s judgements are sobering, but only fearful when you can’t see the idiomatic, the actual point, but rather come to fear a literal which was never intended, nor even sensical.

There is plenty else written elsewhere about the nature of God’s judgements, His corrections, His love, His mercies, and His restorations which should be sufficient to convince anyone not already suffused with cold, hard-hearted doctrines to the point of being close-minded to the possibility of a better God than the one we carry over from the belief systems of the DARK AGES, where they gladly tortured and burnt human beings in the name of God. I would have been burned for speaking the sorts of heresies I speak here, back in that day. Would you have been glad for that? What does it say for our own hearts to condemn one another to fires...

Ironically, one of the first things God’s fires of judgement have to burn out of us are our errant religious-minded conclusions about Him, because they shape our attitudes towards our brothers and ourselves. We look (and act) like the God we perceive. In order to really start learning anything about God again, after my first 20 years of life and indoctrination, I had to first pretty much unlearn everything I once thought I knew. It was both painful and joyful to go through, and well worth it. But much was burned to the ground and plowed under. Very much. But I asked God to do it, if necessary.

It’s hard as hell to have to face the realization that those things and people you once swore trust in have proven fallible—agencies of church and authorities who went before, and so forth. It’s hard to give up the Bible as a magic textbook of rules and blueprint of all truth for all time when you’ve spent many years believing it must be that. It feels more insecure when God is gives more freedom and ambiguity in more things, and leaves much yet unsaid. We have to trust more in our knowing of His nature, wisdom, and good will toward us, rather than our knowledge of many concrete specifics. We have to strive to grow spiritually in Him personally to move forward in our understanding.

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Posts: 2009 | Registered: Monday, September 12 2005 07:00
Law Bringer
Member # 4153
Profile Homepage #135
I really wish I could've gotten involved in this discussion... but it appears that it changes faster than I can read. The sheer volume of posts is crushing my brain. You guys kind of raised this over everyone's heads really quickly... have you looked at how long the posts are?!

Gamble with Gaea, and she eats your dice.

I hate undead. I really, really, really, really hate undead. With a passion.
Posts: 4130 | Registered: Friday, March 26 2004 08:00
Member # 6292
Profile #136
Sorry Eph...for what it's worth, I am essentially done with this thread. I have one post on antichrist already written, but in holding, which I have left to contribute. I have nothing more I wish to put out as part of the bigger picture I was trying to put together after making some initial points which needed some context, unless someone wants to talk about satan, angels, and devils/demons, which are also interesting topics—shorter topics, as is the bit on antichrist I will post in the next day or so.

That's the thing about ideas about God...many are a big daisy chain which interweaves. You can't readily change one significant idea like eternity, hell, or how many are ultimately saved without addressing numerous other related things. Good arguments (in the good sense of the word) can take some real tenacity and detail, especially where cherished religious beliefs are concerned, because we have so much invested in what we have chosen to believe.

I don't know how to write much less than I do. I fear I can't do a thing justice with what I do write, God forbid. I can't imagine anything being remotely compelling just because I say a thing is convincingly so. Deep things require some elaboration.

I'm game to revisit even the tiniest little point if there's something anyone would like to talk about. Since I've gotten my framework all in words now mostly, small issues could be discussed without me needing to crank out a new novel.

What interests you?

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Posts: 2009 | Registered: Monday, September 12 2005 07:00
Member # 6292
Profile #137
Looks like this thread is winding down. Here’s a little bit on the “antichrist” issue, as a follow-up. I’d be curious to see what others see just reading these four verses themselves, in light of the colossal doomsday doctrines built up out of them and equated with other scriptures which do not use the term “antichrist”, but talk about a symbolic “man of sin” and a “beast” in Revelation. Kel can offer a further look into the use and meanings of “anti” and “christos” in Greek for us if he likes. I used Young’s Literal Translation in an attempt to keep passages truest to original:

1Jo 2:18 Little youths, it is the last hour; and even as ye heard that the antichrist doth come, even now antichrists have become many—whence we know that it is the last hour

John states that this thing called “antichrist” comes, but has already also become many. We can also see that it was back in the first century A.D. the “last hour” (of the age of Law coming to a close). The “end of the world” associated with Matthew 24 and Mark 13 spoke of the end of the age of Law because, as we all know, the world did not come to an end. Those prophecies typically get mixed up with imaginary yet future events, but were fulfilled by 70 A.D. with the horrors and devastations visited upon Jerusalem when the temple and the ritual law all came to a brutal end.

1Jo 2:22 Who is the liar, except he who is denying that Jesus is the Christ? this one is the antichrist who is denying the Father and the Son;

We see that what defines this antichrist is that it is he who denies the anointing of Jesus in some way.

1Jo 4:3 and every spirit that doth not confess Jesus Christ in the flesh having come, of God it is not; and this is that of the antichrist, which ye heard that it doth come, and now in the world it is already.

Again, antichrist was already in the world in the first century according to John, the only one who ever used this term in scripture. It also involves any spirit (it is helpful often to think of the word “attitude” when we see the word “spirit”), so perhaps we could say: any attitude which does not acknowledge that the anointing has come in the flesh (as it was shown in Jesus).

2Jo 1:7 because many leading astray did enter into the world, who are not confessing Jesus Christ coming in flesh; this one is he who is leading astray, and the antichrist.

"Anti" is a Greek word meaning "opposed to" or "instead of" or both of these meanings. While present Christian doctrine typically focuses only on the “opposed to” function of the word, I think there is great usefulness in seeing it also in its “instead of” meaning as well. We already should know that “christ”, rather than being a name, is from Greek “christos” which means “anointed”.

What we can put together is there is a spirit/attitude in the world as of the first century A.D., (and further to unfold) which is seen in many men already, which denies that the anointing of God has been made manifest in the flesh, in Jesus, by the Father. We are told that those who lead others astray in this regard are called antichrist — opposed to the anointing.

Furthermore, we can also see that there are spirits/attitudes of men in the world who would be “instead of” christs, “substitute anointings”. These can either be false prophets, fakers, the self-deluded, or those who take something of revelation and spiritual gifting, but turn the acclaim and “anointing” upon themselves, instead of to the Father. Those who take soul power or any other power and pass it off as the anointing of the Holy Spirit are acting as substitute christs. They might not even know they are doing it. They might be sincere, but self-deluded. I would go so far as to say that our very “pastoral” system in so many churches today take the anointed headship of Jesus and substitute the headship and anointing of pastors or popes or priests or whoever, and make them “instead of christs”, who because they usurp the true Head position of the christ, become adversaries to the function of the christ as well.

Another aspect is that there are many who have sought to take away from us the anointing that God personally offers us because of what Jesus did and what the Holy Spirit offers us. They have set men over us to be intermediaries between us and God, experts, authorities, fathers, priests, and pastors, and deny that the anointing has come to each of us, in our own flesh as well, so that we may personally commune with God and learn from God and know God. Men seek to take that power for themselves and keep us dependent on them instead. That’s the real critical flesh into which the anointing has come, but is most often denied.

Taking meaningful and observable principles like this on the spirit of antichrist in the world and trying to pin it on some mythical solitary anti-God of the future based on a few other spread-around and misunderstood scriptures is quite a stretch, I’d say, looking at what we simply have here about antichrists: it is a spirit, it is already in the world, there are already many of them.

Daniel made it clear 600 years before in his vision of the world governments in the form of a statue, that after the fall of the Roman empire, the nations would no longer cleave to each other, as in the toes of mixed iron and clay, which we can see as the remants of the Roman Empire within Europe. After that, the next world government is the Kingdom of the Lord which is a great stone that grinds the former powers to powder and fills up all the earth. So, believers in God should have no fears of a coming one world government headed by an antichrist which is going to laser tattoo us and chop off our heads, or whatever the latest techno-threat is hyped to be.

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Posts: 2009 | Registered: Monday, September 12 2005 07:00
Member # 4
Profile Homepage #138
Hey, folks.

I'm the anrichrist.

We can end the discussion now.

人 た ち を 燃 え る た め に 俺 は か れ ら に 火 を 上 げ る か ら 死 ん だ
Posts: 6936 | Registered: Tuesday, September 18 2001 07:00
Member # 6292
Profile #139
Kel, what is " a n r i - " in Greek? If I'm not mistaken, it's a prefix that means "annoying". So, literally translated, what we have here is the "annoying anointing". Yes, it is true. God rains on both the just and on the unjust.

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Posts: 2009 | Registered: Monday, September 12 2005 07:00
Member # 869
Profile Homepage #140
Huh. I guess all those years of being TM are finally starting to send TM blind.

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Posts: 9973 | Registered: Saturday, March 30 2002 08:00
Member # 6292
Profile #141
Well, you know, you can't expect good grammar skills from the Anrichrist.

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Posts: 2009 | Registered: Monday, September 12 2005 07:00
Member # 1993
Profile #142
When you google "Anrichrist" you come to 392 pages. Thus the Anrichrist clearly is a serious threat ( :eek: a perverse mutation of the A-christ maybe?). But 392 worshippers cannot be wrong.

:) A compliment to synergy for keeping the topic-title always up to date.

^ö^ vegetarians are sexy.
Posts: 1420 | Registered: Wednesday, October 2 2002 07:00