#1 - Matthew 25:46

 

 

And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

KJV (King James Version)

 

And these shall go away into eternal punishment: but the righteous into eternal life.

ASV (American Standard Version)

 

And these shall go away to punishment age-during, but the righteous to life age-during.’

YLT (Young's Literal Translation)

 

And these shall be coming away into chastening eonian, yet the just into life eonian.”

CLV (Concordant Literal Version)

 

"And so, these folks will continue going off (or: coming away) into an eonian pruning (a lopping-off which lasts for an undetermined length of time; an age-lasting correction and rehabilitation; a pruning which brings betterment and which has its source and character in the Age; a cutting off during the ages), yet the fair, just and right-wised folks who are in right relationship with people and are in accord with the Way pointed out [continue going off or coming away] into eonian life (life which has its source and character in the Age [of the Messiah]; life pertaining to the Age; or: the life of and for the ages).

JMNT (Jonathan Mitchell New Testament)

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All Scripture should be seen through the lens of God's

relentless love and unconditional mercy, otherwise, we

may be pulled in many other directions. 

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This verse is often listed first by those presenting a case in support of hell. 

 

The following are several summary points or factors to consider. See appendix for more in depth discourse. 

 

  1. Many English bible translations use the words everlasting or eternal with this verse. The argument that this is an improper translation is compelling. (See APPENDIX “A”) When the words eternal, forever, or everlasting are used in our common bibles, the most accurate translation into modern English could be - “for a period of time”.

  2. The proper word in place of everlasting or eternal is eonian or age-during. Eonian or Aionion (basis of our english word “eon”) is an adjective that gains its significance or value from the subject.

  3. Adjectives acquire their meaning from the noun they are describing. For example, one would NOT expect a "small" ring to be the same size as a "small" house even though the same adjective is used to describe the nouns “ring” and “house.”

  4. Many sense their certainty of everlasting life from the second half of this verse and John 3:16. However, believers should not find their assurance of “eternal” life from the term “eternal” - especially in light of the fact that this term has been inaccurately translated here. Our assurance of endlessness in Glory comes from our inclusion or adoption into the lineage of the one who is everlasting, The Last Adam, Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:16-19 and 1 Corinthians 15:22) An accomplishment brought on by His faithfulness, not ours. 

  5. If we are to assume that the term and concept of everlasting or eternal is the proper translation for the Greek word eonian, we should consider the “eternal” fire in Jude 1:7. Archeologists have assured us that the fire that destroyed Sodom is no longer burning. In fact, God "will restore the fortunes of Sodom" (Ez.16:53‑55) Likewise, Solomon's Temple was to be "everlasting" yet it is no more.

  6. In the Greek Septuagint (the Greek version of the Old Testament), in Hab. 3:6, we find “everlasting mountains” and “everlasting God” within the same verse. If we use the same logic and reasoning that traditionalists use in Matt. 25:46, God must not be able to live any longer than mountains on earth.

  7. Ammon is to become a "wasteland forever" and "rise no more" (Zeph. 2:9, Jer. 25:27) that is‑until‑‑the Lord will "restore the fortunes of the Ammonites" (Jer. 49:6); An Ammonite or Moabite is forbidden to enter the Lord's congregation "forever", that is‑‑until‑‑the tenth generation (Deut. 23:3) God's waves of wrath roll over Jonah "forever," that is--until-‑the Lord delivers him from the large fish's belly on the third day (Jonah 2:6,10; 1: 17) 

  8. Understanding that eonian refers to an age that is dependent upon the subject, such as the eonian of a dog may be fifteen years but the eonian of a tree may be one hundred years. The term describing punishment is dependent upon the time necessary for punishment to accomplish its purpose. Aionios or eonian refers to various periods of time, brief periods of time and seemingly endless periods of time.

  9. In the entire Greek New Testament we find the words “kolasin aionion” occurring only a single time. The concept of “everlasting punishment” does NOT exist in either the Hebrew nor the Greek languages of the Christian Scriptures. Yes, it does exist in “some” leading selling English Bible translations, but not in the original languages of the Bible.

  10. Paul’s teaching makes it clear that the wages of sin is death, not punishment nor endless conscious suffering. 

  11. The period of time necessary to accomplish discipline with our children is limited, while the results are enduring. God’s instruction with His children may be aionious, relatively short or long. The period of time needed in order to accomplish its perfect function. 

  12. The word punishment comes from the Greek word “kolasis” which is better translated “chastisement” since “kolasis” was not a word used for retribution but for discipline that was in the interest of setting right. “Kolasis” was used for the pruning of trees in order to help them grow better. 

  13. Thayer describes “to go away” or “going off” with regards to Strongs,  G565 ἀπέρχομαι, equivalent to “going away from” or “departing evils” unlike the common understanding of being thrown into a pit of fire. 

  14. The context of Matthew 25:46 actually places it in a time when Jesus is NOT speaking to a general audience; He is not speaking to Jewish street sinners; He is certainly not speaking to the gentiles; He is, in fact, speaking to His disciples privately and we, the readers, are listening in. The essence of this verse hinges on whether you accept the scholarly research of the Greek term “aionios” or hold to the notion that it is eluding to endless punishment. 

  15. Within this portion of Matthews writings Jesus is making a very startling and irritating point: the religious and Jewish political leadership of His day was utterly corrupt. Judgment was at the door. 

  16. Prior to this verse, Matthew introduces the separation of nations in verses 31 and 32. It is not exactly clear whether Matthew is relating to a separation of individuals or nations. 

  17. This verse closes Matthews explanation of the separation of the goats and sheep. If we are to assume any one individual meets the qualifications of a sheep and another a goat, this becomes problematic considering most of us meet the requirements for both. A close look into these qualifications will reveal that most everyone we know qualifies as a sheep and a goat - simultaneously. 

  18. No where in Matthews text are we told anything about believers or unbelievers. 

  19. Matthews use of rhetoric is frequent, and we see it here. Endless punishment in fire is no more literal than the fact that nations nor individuals are sheep or goats. 

  20. It’s a profound dichotomy to assume this passage is about sending individuals or nations into “eternal punishment” while Jesus is emphasizing kindness to those in need and the attitude we should have toward eliminating hunger and other forms of human suffering.

  21. When Jesus spoke to the “multitudes,” one must remember that most of the Jews, especially in Galilee, were very poor. There essentially was no middle class. It is hard for Western Christians to identify with the times in which Jesus lived. There were the very rich and there were the very poor. From the Jewish leadership’s point of view, the poor were poor because they were sinners. The poor were being punished by God for not being “righteous” - like they were. So when Jesus ate and drank with them, He was eating with trash, according to the religious leadership.

  22. Rhetoric, or bombastic language, was Matthews technique of communication. It was often quite visual and shocking in order to convey a radical new message to the Jewish leadership. However, it was never so extreme to intend a message of torture, much less endless torment. 

  23. Matthew 25:46 is recorded as the close of a long day in Jesus’ recorded ministry. The conversation began after Jesus left the temple where He railed at the religious leadership. In Matthew 23 we find some of the harshest language Jesus employed. This language was NOT aimed at the average citizen. Nor was it aimed at the heathen nations surrounding Israel. It was, in fact, aimed at the Jewish leadership, the Pharisees, scribes, and lawyers. Among Jesus' descriptive words for the Jewish leadership of His generation was "blind guides, hypocrites, den of snakes, sons of Gehenna (the local city dump translated Hell by some translations), white-washed tombs and fools. After a thorough thrashing Jesus declared to them, "I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.  Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon THIS generation.” (not some generation 1,000 or 2,000 years later.) (Matthew 23:34-36)

  24. A careful reading of Josephus’ “War of the Jews” reveals EVERYTHING Jesus foretold in these verses were perfectly fulfilled within that very generation of Jews. Matthew 25:46 is a part of this warning to the Jews, not a warning to anyone after 70 AD.

  25. Many respected theologians and translators disagree with the use of the words eternal, forever, and everlasting to be used where the terms eonian, aionion, aionios, etc. are used in the Greek texts. (see APPENDIX “B”)

 

Please feel free to submit any additional points in which you may be aware.

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