A Study of Eternal / Everlasting

everlastingEverlasting – It boggles the mind – at least my mind!

How can I grasp this concept?

I remember laying in bed at night when I was a young’n and thinking about the eternal, and just when I thought I had it figger’d out, some extra years would appear in my thoughts. I felt like a dog chasing my tail!

“Everlasting” in the Bible

When I was a dog chasing my tail, I didn’t have the desire or will power to go to the source to research this concept. Now that I am a Christian, I have the Word of God to search for answers.

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So lets Consider the Bible and search for answers.

First off, lets find out the words, in the Old and New Testament, that the inspired writers used to describe this concept!

Four Old Testament Hebrew words and three New Testament Greek words are translated to describe the concept of eternal/everlasting .

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OLAM – Old Testament “Eternal”
The most common word in the Old Testament is “OLAM”.  The following table analyzes this word in describing various eternal/everlasting things.

You might be asking by this time – What’s your point Carl?

infinity 1My point is that we cannot interpret the Word of God in a strictly literal, “technically accurate” manner.  Some folk have complained that this makes the Bible an unreadable document, that is, they could not simply pick up a Bible and understand it correctly.

When was the last time you considered the Bible to be a cartoon?  When I pick up a Blondie or Garfield cartoon, I don’t intend to spend more than a few seconds (at most) in understanding the message being conveyed.  I think the attitude towards the Word should be somewhat different.

The Bible was written in a completely different culture, time and place than what we live in.  To assume that  we have the right to simply understand the message in a 20th century North American context is foolishness.  Unless, of course, we see the Bible as a magic talisman, instead of a message from the living God.

In the case of this particular study, I find it amazing that some things that are described as eternal and everlasting (in our mindset) are not!

Does this take away from the core definition of eternal/everlasting? No – the core meaning is the core meaning!  What I think I have tripped over is how the overall context can affect the specific message of a particular word.

What do I mean?

Consider

Gen 9:16

And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.

What will happen to this covenant when there is no living creatures on the earth?  (BTW – that will happen!)  It is eternal between the two parties that enter into the covenant, so the default message is that although the term everlasting is used, it is not everlasting/eternal. The everlasting condition of this covenant is dependent on the existence of “every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth”.


How about this one.  The land of Canaan is to be an everlasting possession for the seed of Abraham.

Gen 17:8

And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.

Two issues erupt in this verse.

  1. Who is the seed of Abraham?
  2. Is this promise or it’s reaffirmations unconditional?

The first point is simple to answer.  Paul labors the point of describing who the seed is in the book of Galations.

Gal 3:29

And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Then two more issues occur to me. – (Come on Carl – gimme a break!!)

Was this promise or it’s reaffirmations unconditional?  Or did the Jewish people misunderstand this verse and “literally” interpret the promise, assuming the land was theirs unconditionally forever?

The very next verse after the great promise to Abraham, the Lord stated…

… Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations.

Unconditional promise?  Could the Jewish nation survive if they were disobedient and rebellious? (Did they?)  Could they assume upon verse 8 and ignore verse 9?  (What about the nation of Israel today?  Are they presently keeping “my covenant”? )  The everlasting possession was dependent on the Jewish nation’s keeping of “my covenant”.  It is very interesting to me that the covenant being referred to here was the Abrahamic covenant and that the nation’s allegience to the Siniatic covenant revealed the heart of the people towards God.  Additional examples of how the eternal/everlasting concept is modified by the context, can be found above and I would encourage you to consider them.

Does this contextual effect on the concept of eternal/everlasting continue into the New Testament?  I will leave that for you to study out.  Get back to me when you find something out, eh?

I gotta go study some Garfield!garfield


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Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

Inherit the Kingdom? Who knew?

The New Testament uses two words for “know”, ya know?

When I see a two Greek words translated as one English word, my spider senses start tingling. It interests me. One instance where two Greek words are used, (translated as one English word), is found in 1 John 2:29

 1John 2:29

If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.

John uses two Greek words, defining which translates to our word “knowledge “.

  • The first Greek verb referring to “knowledge” is εἴδω, eídō. (Strongs #1492) See Thayers definition below.

  • The second Greek word to show up in this verse referring to “knowledge” is γινώσκω, ginṓskō. (Strongs #1097), See Thayers definition below.

Story time that helps me remember the difference in these two Greek words.

charlie brown pitching.gifWhen I was younger my brother and I were playing softball with an older teenager (Scott and I were 8 and 12 at the time.) The batter was a 19 yr old fella that stayed with us. Lets call him Hank.

Scott bugged me to let him pitch, and I was stuck out in the outfield chasing balls. Everything was going along just fine (for Scott) until Hank connected on one of Scott’s pitches, and drove a line drive ball right into Scott’s face.

I know about this incident. Scott knows about this incident

Do you think there is a difference between Scott’s knowledge and my knowledge? If you were to say that Scott “ginṓskō” of this incident while I “eídō” of this incident, you would be right!

So lets summarize – “ginosko” refers generally to experiential knowledge, while “eídō” generally refers to factual knowledge.

So lets get to the point of the post. I was looking at Ephesian 5:5 when I was reminded of this “knowledge” concept.

Ephesians 5:5 Wuest

for this you know absolutely and experientially, that every whoremonger or unclean person or covetous person, who is an idolator, does not have an inheritance in the kingdom of the Christ and of God.

So What?

So whats the big deal on this verse about knowing, Carl. Consider the message in the society we live in. Three characteristics are called out of those who will not inherit the kingdom.

  • The sexually immoral

The Greek word translated sexually immoral is πόρνος, pórnos. (Strongs #4205), See Thayers definition below.

The transliteration pornos gives it away. The word originally meant “to sell”, and defined specifically a male prostitute. Eventually this word came to simply mean a fornicator, whether a man or a woman.

  • The impure

The Greek word translated impure is ἀκάθαρτος, akáthartos. (Strongs #169), See Thayers definition below.

This term is very broad, describing moral filth in thought, word or deed. The term leans towards sexual impurity. Check out Galatians 5:19 to see the link of impurity with sexual filth.

“The impure“ is a kind, gentle translation.

  • The greedy

The Greek word translated greedy is πλεονέκτης, pleonéktēs. (Strongs #4123), See Thayers definition below – (not really necessary cause we all know what greed is!!!)

This Greek word is made up of two words –  pleíon = more + écho = have. It speaks of one who is grasping for more, more than is due, and especially of those things that belong to someone else.

So lets think about this

If you are chatting with a friend and he or she speaks of pornography as a normal or common lifestyle, you can know he/she will not inherit the kingdom.

Is that what Paul is trying to get us to understand?

If they are constantly spewing filth from their mouth, or their actions imply filth, (which in this culture is becoming so widely accepted by so many!), you can know they are definitely not going to inherit the kingdom.

If they only need one more dollar, and live their lives in the grasping of the wind, you can know they will not inherit the kingdom.

Please understand me – I am not suggesting we go tell every person who is living a life of pornography, impurity and/or greed of this truth. They don’t care and they will only mock. They need to see the gospel and be open to the grace of God before they will accept any bad news.

We do though, need to know (both experientially and factually) who it is we are speaking to. As your friend or coworker exhibits these characteristics, Paul says you can (experientially and factually) know of their relation to the kingdom. They will have “no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. “

Which brings up an exception and conflict.

The Exception and Conflict

CSLewis (1)This exception occurs when he/she lives a life of pornography, impurity or greed and professes of being a believer.

I need to inform him or her that he or she is deceived.

How do I do that? A lot depends on your relationship with the person. Remember we are to be wise as serpents, knowing when and how to “strike”.

Some may respond to gently referring them to the passage we have been discussing, and some may need to be strongly rebuked. But with both efforts, the Word needs to be referenced and not simply our opinion. Asking them what they think of the passage usually is a good method to begin the discussion, or asking them what the passage means. Depending on the Spirit to guide in your discussion is critical.

Considering the moral temperature of the society we live in, and the many surveys telling us that a high percentage of Americans consider themselves believers, this exception and conflict will surely occur in our day to day lives.

As an aside, I fear the church of God is blindly accepting everyone’s profession as true, that the Christian life is not what defines a man or woman as a Christian. It seems that if you grew up in a christian home or nation, if you “asked Jesus into your heart” 44 yrs ago, made a decision for Christ (whatever that may mean) or just assume God is nice, everything will be just fine.

My friends, to know Jesus is the difference. To know him experientially on a daily basis, this is life.

Do not be lulled into a false security simply by trusting in a knowledge of Jesus, a sterile factual (εἴδω, eídō) knowledge. Many have that knowledge and are living a life that tells us they are not going to inherit the kingdom.

To “know” (γινώσκω, ginṓskō) Jesus is to be changed by Jesus, to experience His kindness and mercy, to sense His willingness to guide and correct. This is life! As you “know” (ginosko) the kindness of the Master, it will draw you into wanting to “know” (eido) more truth (found in the Word!) about Him. As you “know” (eido) more truth about Him, and obey the knowledge of Him in your life, you will “know” (ginosko) greater and greater joy and contentment, a settled peace, even in the midst of tragedy and pain.

Don’t lose out on life by being satisfied with simply a sterile, factual only, knowledge of Him.

 

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Thayer’s Definitions
1. eídō
to see, to perceive with the eyes, to perceive by any of the senses, to perceive, notice, discern, discover, to see i.e. to turn the eyes, the mind, the attention to anything, to pay attention, observe, to see about something i.e. to ascertain what must be done about it, to inspect, examine, to look at, behold, to experience any state or condition, to see i.e. have an interview with, to visit, to know, to know of anything, to know, i.e. get knowledge of, understand, perceive, of any fact, the force and meaning of something which has definite meaning,, to know how, to be skilled in, to have regard for one, cherish, pay attention to
2. ginṓskō
to learn to know, come to know, get a knowledge of perceive, feel, to become known, to know, understand, perceive, have knowledge of, to understand, to know, Jewish idiom for sexual intercourse between a man and a woman, to become acquainted with, to know
3. pórnos
a man who prostitutes his body to another’s lust for hire, a male prostitute, a man who indulges in unlawful sexual intercourse, a fornicator
4. akáthartos
not cleansed, unclean, in a ceremonial sense: that which must be abstained from according to the levitical law, in a moral sense: unclean in thought and life
5. pleonéktēs
one eager to have more, esp. what belongs to others, greedy of gain, covetous