What do Greek dictionaries say about "aionion"?

Universalists place a great deal of weight on the word "aion," which means "age." From the Greek root "aion" we also have the word "aionion," which is translated in most instances in most Bibles as "eternal."

The significance of this is that Universalists maintain that there is no eternal punishment in hellfire. Therefore, they assert that the word "aionion" is in reference to "age duration" greek aionionand can have temporal duration. With this assertion, they try to substantiate their theological position that all people everywhere will ultimately be saved.

But, what do Greek Dictionaries and Lexicons have to say about the words and phrases used in Greek that are translated into the English "age," "world," "eternal," "forever," "forever and ever," etc.? Let's find out:

  1. aion - , - age, world
    1. "for ever, an unbroken age, perpetuity of time, eternity; the worlds, universe; period of time, age."1
  2. aionion, aionios - - eternal
    1. "aionios," the adjective corresponding, denoting eternal. It is used of that which in nature is endless, as, e.g., of God, (Rom. 16:26), His power, (1 Tim. 6:16), His glory, (1 Pet. 5:10), the Holy Spirit, (Heb. 9:14), redemption, (Heb. 9:12), salvation, (5:9), life in Christ, (John 3:16), the resurrection body, (2 Cor. 5:1), the future rule of Christ, (2 Pet. 1:11), which is declared to be without end, (Luke 1:33), of sin that never has forgiveness, (Mark 3:29), the judgment of God, (Heb. 6:2), and of fire, one of its instruments, (Matt. 18:8; 25:41; Jude 7)."
      1. Rom. 16:26 - " . . .according to the commandment of the eternal God. . ."
      2. 1 Tim. 6:16 - ". . . To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen."
      3. 1 Pet. 5:10 - " . . . who called you to His eternal glory in Christ,"
      4. Mark 3:29 - " . . . never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin."
      5. etc.2
  3. "describes duration, either undefined but not endless, as in Rom. 16:25; 2 Tim. 1:9; Tit. 1:2; or undefined because endless as in Rom. 16:26, and the other sixty–six places in the N.T.
    1. Rom. 16:25 - " . . which has been kept secret for long ages past,"
    2. Rom 16:26 - ". . . according to the commandment of the eternal God,"
    3. 2 Tim. 1:9 - ". . . which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity,"
    4. Titus 1:2 - "the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised" long ages ago"3
  4. Eis tous aionios ton aionion - - Forever and Ever, Lit. "into the age of the ages"
    1. "unlimited duration of time, with particular focus upon the future - ‘always, forever, forever and ever, eternally."
    2. Phil. 4:20 - ". . .to our God and Father be the glory forever and ever."
    3. Rev. 19:3 - " . . .Her smoke rises up forever and ever."
    4. Rev. 20:10 - "And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever."4

These few references and quotes should be ample evidence that eternal hell, eternal fire, is real. It is a terrible reality, and it is all the more important to preach the gospel. The Universalists are wrong, and their theology only dilutes the need to come to Christ.

  • 1. Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon, Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, 1995.
  • 2. Vine, W. E., Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, Grand Rapids, MI: Fleming H. Revell, 1981. Available: Logos Library System.
  • 3. Ibid.
  • 4. Louw, J. P. and Eugene A. Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains, New York: United Bible Societies, 1989.

About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.