Vol. 32 June, August, October, 1970 No.'s 3-5
THE BIBLE: ITS HELL AND ITS AGES
(by T. J. McCrossan, B.A., B.D.)
AN ANSWER TO ITS CHALLENGE
Alexander Thomson of Edinburgh, Scotland
No one who relies on the complete veracity of the Word of God is likely to be in the least upset by this booklet. The writer claims to be skilled in Greek grammar, but his effort is really an appeal to tradition and to the opinions of men. All through he assumes the truth of that which he sets forth to prove. By "begging the question" from beginning to end of his booklet, he strengthens the case of those who believe God's declaration found in Col. 1:20.
Quite sufficient is stated in the Word of God to allow of the sacred Scriptures explaining themselves with regard to, the Ages. To appeal to human and heathen authorities is surely a sign of great weakness in a case such as this. And to ignore completely the very important evidence of the Hebrew revelation is a tragic blunder. Why is not one word said about the Hebrew term olam, which, when used of God is commonly rendered by "eternal" or by "everlasting," whereas, when used of mortal man is rendered always by expressions denoting very limited time?
Here it must be stated that a very simple axiom lies hidden from many who claim to be skilled in Greek or Hebrew grammar. No term in the inspired Scriptures is capable of two meanings. The central meaning of each term is fixed. No word stands for its nearest relative. What is true is that often any given Hebrew or Greek word
requires in English two or more terms to translate it. But when this is the case, it ought to be self-evident that neither of these terms is an exact rendering. These axioms ought to be fully recognised, but very few students seem to be ableto grasp them.
JUGGLERY IN THE USE OF "OLAM" AND "AION"
Only one skilled in jugglery can succeed in making Hebrew olam or Greek aion stand for both eternity and its opposite. Yet this kind of vicious and wicked jugglery is actually welcomed by those who do not wish to believe that our God is "the Saviour of all men, especially of those who believe."
Mr. McCrossan may claim to be skilled in Greek grammar, although we seriously doubt and dispute his claim, but he certainly manifests an egregious lack of skill in observing the microscopic niceties and exactitude of Scripture. This is apparent at the very outset of his book. He makes the extraordinary claim that, because 1. Cor. is addressed to members of Christ's church, this epistle may not make statements about unbelievers. In other words, he claims that the dead spoken of in ch. 15 are all believing dead ones. He virtually corrects Paul, who ought to have written in v. 22, "For as in Adam we all die, even so in Christ shall we all be made alive." He denies what is extremely obvious—that the entire chapter is concerning resurrection from beginning to end, as he excludes this subject from verses 24 to 28. Now Paul was no rambler in any of his writings; these verses are an inherent and integral part of his argument. Anyone can see the sudden transition in this chapter from "the dead" or "dead ones" to the "we" of verses 49 to the end of the chapter. It should not have been difficult for Paul to speak of the resurrection (or vivification) of those only who belonged to Christ.
The reasoning of some of the Corinthians was not that there is "no resurrection of the dead" but "no resurrection of dead ones" (v. 12). Were they denying the resurrection of believers only, or of any or all of the dead? In all of the seven occurrences of "the dead" between verses 12 and 21, the Greek shows no definite article, so that the meaning is simply "dead ones." Paul therefore refers to the dead generally, not to special or definite dead persons or any group of the dead. Had he had in mind any special company such as the Church, the Body of Chirst, the exact rules of Greek grammar, never departed from in the New Testament, would have obliged him to say "the dead" (hoi nekroi, tOn nekrOn), just as he does in verses 35, 42 and 52, in which verses Paul is confining himself to the resurrection of the saints.
DID SIN ENTER ONLY THE "WORLD" OF
The Sadducees did not believe in any resurrection. Neither did some of the Corinthians. Paul reveals that all mankind will be not only resurrected but vivified (made to go on living). Our writer also believes all will be resurrected, as he states, on page 119, that all the unsaved will be resurrected, obtain spiritual bodies, physical death being abolished. On the same page, basing his statement on 1. Cor. 15:52, he says, "When all mankind have incorruptible spiritual bodies, there can then be no more physical death." Yet he naively insists, a few times, that this epistle is addressed only to members of Christ's Church, and to no others, meaning that it concerns only believers.
The epistle to the Romans is specially addressed to God's beloved saints at Rome. It is not addressed to outsiders, or to the world at large. Does this mean, then, that in ch. 5:12 Paul is stating that by one man sin entered into the world of believers, and death by sin; so that death passed through upon all believers, upon which (eph' hO) all believers sinned? Yet Mr. McCrossan must thus understand the verse, if he maintains that 1. Cor. 15:22 concerns only the saints.
Any effort to limit the scope of 1. Cor. 15:22 requires that the scope of Rom. 5:12 be limited too. Anyone can see that all mankind is involved in both verses. Otherwise words are worthless. If God really intended to say that as in Adam all are dying, even so in Christ shall all be made to live, how else could he have stated it?
ERRORS CONCERNING "RANKS" IN RESURRECTION AND THE TIME OF THE "END"
Unfortunately, in verses 22 to 28 our author makes a number of tragic blunders, due to his inattention to the exactitude of the Greek. He will not allow that "the end" of v. 24 is connected with vivification of dead ones. In other words, he denies that Paul refers to another and third rank or order (tagma) of dead ones to be vivified. To do this he is obliged to ignore the plain meaning of the Greek word hekastos, generally rendered "each." The A.V. reads, "But every man in his own order" (v. 23). Literally, the Greek says, "Yet each one in his own class (or rank)." It is submitted that if only two classes are enumerated, Paul was very careless in using the Greek term hekastos. Never elsewhere, in any of the eighty occurrences of this word in the N.T. is it used of less than three objects, and in English it is similarly used. Anyone can see that there is something irregular if the statement runs as follows:—"For as in Adam all are dying, thus also, in Christ shall all be vivified" Yet each one in his own class: (a) a firstfruit, Christ; (b) there upon (epeita) those who are Christ's, in His presence." What is missing? Christ being one single person, at least a third rank is required in order to permit the word "each" to have its proper force. Compare verse 38, where God gives "to, each of the seeds, its own body." Were there only two kinds of seeds, surely "both" (amphoteroi) would have been used.
Furthermore, we may not disjoin the epeita (thereupon; A.V. afterward) of v. 23 from the eita (thereafter; A.V. then) of the next verse. These two words show that the same subject is continued in v. 24, and that there are three classes, and periods. The third rank is called "the end" (to telos, the consummation, finish), and the time of its vivification synchronizes with the abolition of the last enemy—death. So that we have the order thus: first-fruit. . . thereupon. . . thereafter. . . last enemy. Now in the same chapter we meet with the only other occurrence of both eita and epeita. The witnesses who saw the resurrected Firstfruit were firstly, Cephas (alone), thereupon. . . thereupon. . . . thereupon. . .thereafter all the apostles. Then, last of all, Paul (vv. 5-8). No one is at liberty to break the chain formed by the epeita (thereupon), eita (thereafter), and eschatos (last).
Besides, no one skilled in Greek needs to retain the false word found in the A.V. and other Versions "cometh." The Greek simply has it; "thereafter the consummation." As the A.V. reads, one might gather that the delivering up of the Kingdom by Christ to Him who is God and Father followed on immediately after His presence or parousia. Mr. McCrossan's views seem to require the presence of the word "cometh," for which there is no authority. Professor Burkitt, in the Journal of Theological Studies, Vol. 17, 1916, states that verses 23-26 are all one long sentence, and that the expression to telos does not mean the "end of all things,"
but it is adverbial, meaning "finally," as in 1. Peter 3:8. Dean Alford, in his most valuable edition of the Greek Testament, says there are "three ranks" of resurrection here, and that the end mentioned is "the resurrection of the rest of the dead." He adds that the eita (then) in v. 24 meaning "next in succession," introduces the "third tagma." No one can accuse these two great scholars of having leanings in the direction of universal reconciliation.
HOPELESSLY MUDDLED REGARDING THE
Mr. McCrossan's teaching regarding this expression, to telos, is unfortunately, so extraordinary that we fear no normally functioning mind will be able to accept it. Here is what it amounts to. He states that this expression deals with the same time point in both 1. Cor. 15:24 and Matt. 24:14, and he challenges any "Restorationist" to refute this. He applies these words to the end of Christ's millennial reign, in both these verses. That is to say, (1) it is he that endures to the end of the Millennium who will be saved. Matt. 24:13; (2) the Great Tribulation, or the time of Jacob's trouble, comes on at the same time, the close of the Millennium, in spite of the fact that Israel is to take the Kingdom into custody (Dan. 7:18, etc.) when the Thousand Years commence, and remain the supreme Nation on Earth throughout the Millennium, reigning in accord with Rev. 20:6; (3) the presence (parousia) of Christ cannot take place until the close of the Millennium (see Matt. 24, verses 3, 6, 14, and 27); (4) this means that 1. Thess. 4:15 occurs at the same time; (5) a corollary is that wars must persist right through the
Millennium, with nation rising up against nation, dreadful famines throughout that time of supposed peace and plenty; (6) apparently the Gospel of the Kingdom is only to be proclaimed in all the world towards the close of the Millennuim, as the Lord said, "and then shall the end come." The word "then" is tote, which means "at that time."
However, we do not believe that our author really believes all these things, or has grasped the fact that his wild statements only land him in a mental morass. No one is under any obligation to believe that the expression to telos refers to the same time in Matt. 24 and in 1. Cor. 15. Other occurrences of the noun telos have no connection with any fixed prophetical time, such as in Matt. 26:58; Luke 18:5; John 13:1; Rom. 6:22; Phil. 3:19; James 5:11; 1. Peter 4:7; Rev. 22:13.
The telos of 1. Cor. 15:24 is, however, specifically stated to arrive at a fixed and determinable future time. The Greek has it, "thereafter the consummation (telos), when,ever (hotan) He may give up the Kingdom to Him who is God and Father, whenever (hotan) He should be rendering useless all sovereignty and all authority and power. For He must reign until He should place all His enemies under His, feet. (As) final enemy Death is being rendered useless." Paul then shows that the entire Universe becomes subject to, the Son, with the single and sole exception of the Father. When this comes to pass, the Son Himself sets Himself under the Father (hupotagEsetai, will become subject), so that God may be all in all.
A STRANGE CONCEPTION OF CHRIST'S POWER TO
Not only, is Mr. McCrossan's eschatology hopelessly muddled, but his soteriology is hideous. "Christ is doing all He possibly can to save the lost" (p. 32). Truly, what a miserable saviour to present to the world. One who will only succeed in drawing to Himself probably one tenth of one per cent. of the world's vast population. And not only so, but very many of those who have acknowledged Christ and bowed their knees to Him as Lord and Master all through the millennium, saints who have been resurrected, are, according this frightful travesty of the truth, to rebel against God's Christ and seek to destroy Him (p. 29). What a denial of verses such as Rom. 8:1; 10:9-10; John 3:16. And what a repudiation of passages such as Col. 1:16-20; Phil. 2:10-11; 1. Tim. 2:4.
It is admitted that the scope of Phil. 2:10-11 is universal. Yet our writer states that many of those who bow and confess will finally be lost. No doubt this is partly due to his profound ignorance of the niceties of Greek grammar. It escapes, him that the word "confess" here, as usually, is in the Greek Middle Voice. This grand fact ensures that the confession is not forced or artificial, but with the emotions, from the heart, spontaneous, with the whole man behind it. It is confession indeed. That is the force of the Middle Voice in Greek. One needs only compare this verb (exomologeO), which only
occurs once in the Active Voice, with the shorter verb(homologeO), which only occurs once in the Middle Voice, to observe that the former expresses the heart's emotions and zeal, whereas the latter expresses mere matter of fact confession.
At this time of day, it is extraordinary that anyone, especially one who claims to be skilled in Greek, should seek to perpetrate that perversion of Rev. 10:6 which makes the Greek text mean that Time will then cease and Eternity commence. If, in fact, Eternity commences at that point described, why should John suffer from bitterness of belly in order to prophesy before many peoples and nations and kings in Eternity? In any case, why should an angel or messenger require to swear that Time now ceases and Eternity begins? Does the change over from Time to Eternity take place in such an unostentatious, unnoticed and clandestine fashion that an angel is required to draw attention to the change? The word chronos signifies time or the passing of time, and we must here render, "that there will be delay no longer." No scholar skilled in Greek will ignore the next word, which is "but" (all)! We must connect v. 6 with v. 7. There is to be no more delay with regard to the secret of God being finished.
The sacred writings never mention "Eternity," and we have no right whatever to assume that when the Ages terminate, as they must terminate, "Eternity" will then commence. We have not the slightest reason for thinking Time will cease after the Ages end.
Mr. McCrossan claims to have proved (by a process of constant reiteration of what is false) that "God's ages will never end" (page 68). He denies that Heb. 9:26 tells of the end of the ages. This is how we presume he would require to render; "But now once at the completion of the (redemptive) purpose of the ages hath He appeared to put away sin. .." But what kind of a god is this, who requires a redemptive purpose which must drag on throughout countless and ever accumulating millions of long ages? Such a meaning cannot be given to the word suntelia. Beyond a doubt, it has escaped this scholar that the Greek preposition epi, when followed by a dative case, as here, signifies "over," "on the basis of," "with a view to." It was on the basis of a conclusion of the ages, for repudiation of sin through His, sacrifice, that He has been manifested.
Epi, when followed by a genitive or accusative case, takes the meaning "on," or "on to," but its metaphorical force comes out generally when the dative case is used. Christ was manifested with a view to the ages being concluded, The ages are the times in which sin and enemies are present, requiring the sacrifice of God's Son. He was manifested so that sin might be set aside through His sacrifice, having in view a conclusion to the ages. He was certainly not manifested at a conclusion of the ages, but His manifestation demands that the eons terminate.
THE AMAZING TEACHING THAT SAINTS WILL SEE
THE ENDS OF AGES IN ETERNITY
With regard to 1. Cor. 10:11, our author claims that all God's truly born again saints (with the exception no doubt of those who will later defect and be destroyed eternally) "have already—according to His plan and purpose—arrived at the ends of all future ages." That is, that God "gives to every born again saint His guarantee that he or she will yet again see the end of every age all through eternity." But this exegesis can only be reached by ignoring the context. Paul is warning the Corinthians not to become disqualified, but to drink out of their spiritual, following Rock—Christ. A strong incentive to do this is that already the consummations of the ages have attained in spirit to the saints. What the ends of the coming eons will bring has already been made known in some measure to the saints. Every one of the four occurrences of the verb katantaO in Paul's epistles shews that he used it as a meaning to attain in spirit, to draw up alongside in spirit (1. Cor. 10:11; 14:36; Eph. 4:13; Phil. 3:11). It is simply not true, however, it could never be true, that the results, the issues, of untold and untellable billions of ages have attained to the saints. Paul's solemn admonition would be useless, if it entailed a special and concise knowledge by each believer of the individual results and effects of everyone of the countless ages which Mr. McCrossan's scheme demands.
AGES IN ETERNITY A WILD ABSURDITY
Besides, it is Mr. McCrossan himself who declares that the ages all have ends, and are therefore time periods. How then can he, speak of the countless ages of eternity? The ages are either in eternity or apart from eternity. An "eternity" composed of limited time periods called ages is a wild absurdity. To what lengths will stupid human beings go in order to deceive themselves! If a point is to arrive when Time shall no longer be, will not this of necessity terminate the "age-times" Rom. 16:25; 2. Tim. 1:9; Titus 1:2). The Greek word is the same as is found in Rev. 10:6 (chronos).
THE PURPOSE OF THE EONS.
Paul mentions "a purpose of the eons" (Eph. 3:11), and in such a way and connection that it is implied that the saints can grasp it in some measure. Yet could any weak and frail human being, or any glorified saint, ever grasp a purpose of eons, the number of which is infinitude multiplied, by an infinitude an infinite number of times? Note that a purpose of the eons implies that each eon has a different object or different methods, otherwise, why should time be divided, up into ages at all? And why is it that Paul only sees. Christ as seated at the right hand of God in the heavenly places, over every authority and power being named, in this eon and in the future eon? Surely Paul had made a huge: blunder here! He ought to have said Christ was exalted throughout all the countless ages of eternity! Paul, however, does not contradict himself, but confirms what he has; stated in 1. Cor. 15:24-28.
"CHRIST'S PRIESTHOOD IN ETERNITY"
Mr. McCrossan declares that Christ will abide as a Priest for ever (Heb. 5:6). But the author of the Hebrews epistle knows better. He says, each time, that Christ is a priest eis ton aiOna (for the eon). Never once does he say, for the eons (eis tous aiOnas) See 6:20; 7:17, 21. But the man skilled in Greek grammar fails to observe such a small point. His mind is already made up. What need has he of quibbling over such a small thing, even if it be God's divine revelation?
No one who believes that Christ must ever remain a priest can believe 1. Cor. 15:28. It is only when the Son hands over the Kingdom to Him who is God and Father, and takes the place of a subject, that God can become all in all. Christ is priest for the one eon, during the Millennium, but He must reign as King for yet another eon.
CHRIST A PRIEST TO "THE AGE"
The imperfect state which requires everlasting priesthood also requires many more imperfections. God's people, or, rather, those who are left of them after many have perished, again, will need "eternal consolation" (2. Thess. 2:16). God will require to keep up for ever a process of consoling, for that is what the termination of the Greek word paraklEsis means. Likewise the process of redemption or deliverance must continue painfully for ever and ever (Heb. 9:12). And the evangel must continue to be preached for ever and ever, even although all the lost have long since been blotted out, along with many of the saved, who were saved through that evangel (Rev. 14:6).
MISLEADING CONCERNING THE GENITIVE
Mr. McCrossan is quite correct to say, on page 68, that "there are various reasons why nouns are in the Genitive case." Indeed, there are various reasons, but he shows only one of these many reasons. Any good grammar will detail these reasons, as was done in Dr. Bullinger's "How to Enjoy the Bible." What is suppressed, and deliberately suppressed, is that the Genitive can also express the superlative degree. Thus, it is well known that the King of kings is the chiefest king; the Song of Songs is the greatest song; the holy of holies is the innermost holy place; the Bible is the book of books, that is, the book out of all other books. But who is there who will aver that the Bible is the book proceeding out of all other books? Or that the Song of Songs was compossed out of a number of other and older songs? Is Christ the King of kings because He proceeded forth from a previous king? 1. Tim. 6:15 shows that this expression means "King of those-reigning-as-kings" (ho basileus tan basieluontOn), as He is "Lord of those-ruling-as-lords" (kurios tan kurieuon,tOn).
We must bear in mind that the construction "the eon of the eons" is a Hebrew construction, not a Greek one. It is a Hebrew method of expressing the superlative. One might possibly understand the phrase "the eon of the eon" (Heb. 1:8) as meaning the eon proceeding forth from the eon, but this does not help us when we try to explain the phrase "the eon of the eons," or "the eons of the eons." Can one single eon spring forth from two previous eons? In other words, can there be two eons existing side by side at one time? Does the expression "the eons of the eons" mean that two simultaneous eons spring from two past co-existing eons?
ONE SPECIAL EON
Is it not clear to any ordinary reader that Paul is referring to one special eon in Eph. 3:21, where the Greek literally says, "for all the generations of the eon of the eons"? Does Paul merely mean the generations of eternity? If so, what are these? Had Paul said, "for all the generations of eons" it would have suited Mr. McCrossan's ideas.
Had the Greek expression been tou aiOnos EK tOn aiOnOn (of the eon OUT OF the eons), Mr. McCrossan would have been correct with regard to the Genitive of origin. The Lord claimed that it was "out of God" that He came forth (John 8:42; ek tou theou). The expression in Heb. 1:8, "Thy throne, (Thou) who (art) God (ho theos), is for the eon of the eon" is based upon the Hebrew construction and idiom. The form of the expression is not Greek. We require to turn to Psalm 45:6 for an explanation. The Hebrew has, "to eon and further" (l-olam va ed). Olam means "obscurity," as is proved by its verb alam, which always signifies to hide or obscure. This was paraphrased by the LXX as "unto obscurity of obscurity" (eis ton aiOna tou aiOnos, or eis aiOna aiOnos). Olam simply means an obscure period of time, and eon means the same. This is the meaning of the Greek work in every one of the so-called classic writers, without exception. For ample proof of this we would refer to the many useful quotations and facts to be found in Dr. Hanson's invaluable "AiOn-AiOnios" (Chicago, 1880), a grand work packed full of most useful information.
Mr. McCrossan argues that the Greek expression, "for the eons and further" (eis tous aiOnas KAI ETI) signifies "as long as one age continues to originate from former ages." As, however, the aiOn or olam is the obscure time, would not ordinary sanity understand the expression "unto the obscure-times and further" as clearly implying that the "further" is without the obscure-times, and that these obscure times come to an end? If the olams are to continue perpetually, there can be no "further" lying beyond them.
"OLAM" AND "AIONIOS" NOT RENDERED "ETERNAL" BEFORE THE FOURTH CENTURY
Not one particle of evidence has yet been produced by anyone to demonstrate that the Greek word aiOnios was used anywhere before the third or fourth century as meaning anything but eonian or age-during. About this time its usage became equivocal. Nevertheless, even to this day, in some of the outlying dialects of Greece, it is still used in its old sense, while its noun aiOn, in Greek dictionaries, is given the meaning in the present day of "century," "age," as in the expression, hoi mesoi aiOnes, "the middle ages," and ho eikostos aiOn, which is the common way of saying in Modern Greek "the twentieth century."
Down to the middle of the fourth century there was no Version of the Scriptures in which either olam or aiOn was rendered by a term which unequivocally signified eternal. The Latin, the Syriac, the Ethiopic, the Armenian, the Coptic, and the most valuable old Gothic (which contains many pure English words) are all eloquent upon this fact.
Jerome, in his Latin Version, rendered the Greek "for the eons" (eis tous aiOnas) by the Latin in saecula (for the seculums), although often, for the Greek "for the eon" (eis ton aiOna) he has in aeternum (for eternity). The Greek expression in the LXX, "for the eon and for the eon of the eon" he renders thus: "into eternity" (as in Ps. 72:19); "into eternity and into the seculum of the seculum" (as in Ps. 9:5, etc.); "into the seculum, and into the seculum of the seculum" (as in Ps. 119:44). In Ps. 73:12 Jerome could not bring himself to believe that the wicked prospered for ever, so he discreetly rendered "for the eon" by "in seculum" (in saeculo). There is no doubt that Jerome was very much at sea with regard to these eon expressions. In Exodus 15:18 the Hebrew states that the Lord will reign "to the eon and further." The A.V. says "for ever and ever." The LXX puts "for the eon, and still more an eon, and further." Jerome, however, renders by the astounding statement that the Lord will reign "into eternity AND BEYOND" (in aeternum et ultra). . He repeats this absurdity in Micah 4:5.
THE AUTHOR'S MISUSE OF THE AORIST
It is evident that Mr. McCrossan has never studied Jerome's very inconsistent renderings of the Greek aiOn expressions. They would have proved to him conclusively that the frightful heresy of eternal death and punishment, and the entirely unscriptural idea of eternity, sprang from the Latin misrenderings and misunderstanding of the Greek terms.
Mr. McCrossan's attitude right through is one of prejudice and ill-will—qualities which should not belong to any child of God. His attitude to the Greek Aorist shows that he is very far from being "skilled in Greek grammar," and proves that he considers God's love for the world was finished long ago. He will not allow the old English Aorist in John 3:16, "God so LOVES the world," and insists that Was say "loved." But truly, Wisdom is vindicated from the works of all her so-called children. One has only to compare what he writes on pages 92 to 95 on the Greek Aorist, with his tacit admission on page 17 that its proper meaning can be represented by the English "present," as in Rom. 8:30, where he explains the "them He also glorified" as meaning. "we are glorfied" in the present time.
The teaching on page 136, that after the Judgment of the Great White Throne God will cause all His saints to forget completely their loved ones who ever lived, is callous and brutal, but quite in line with all the rest of Satan's travesty of God's truth, as clearly stated in Col. 1:20 and elsewhere.
While the saints are delighting themselves with all sorts of pleasures in heaven or on earth, these poor dear lost ones are to be writhing in everlasting misery and torment in a hell of which the saints, and we presume God, are utterly unaware. What a hellish, selfish doctrine.
The writer quotes in support Ex. 32:33, "Whosoever hath sinned against Me, him will I blot out of My book." Is there, however, any sin more criminal than playing with God's Word and making it mean the opposite of what God so clearly says? Surely it is a heinous crime to prove the signification of important terms in God's revelation by means of the false renderings which human beings have given to them. That is the sin of which our author is guilty.
THE LIVING ONE
The author of this book considers that one of his strongest arguments lies in the fact that God is described, in the Revelation, as "The Living One" (Greek, ho zOn, Present participle). He avers that because this expression is used of God, it means "The One living and always continuing to live throughout eternity." He then deduces from this that the addition of "for the eons of the eons" (the One Living eis tous aiOnas tOn aiOnOn; Rev. 1:18; 4:9, 10; 5:14; 10:6; 15:7) must signify "for ever and ever," because God's life is eternal. From this he "proves" that the torment of the beast and the false prophet (Rev. 20:10) must continue for as long as God lives, that is, for ever and ever.
THE TESTIMONY OF THE GREATEST OF THE
Perhaps he is not aware that Origen, who lived in the early third century, whose native tongue was Greek, and who was probably, a very much more erudite Greek scholar than Mr. McCrossan, believed that eonian fire, eonian judgment, eonian perishing, and eonian life, were all to last for a limited time during the eons. Yet at the same time he was an ardent believer in the fact of Cot 1:20, one of the grandest and most important verses in the Bible, which, sad to say, Mr. McCrossan seems sedulously to shun.
THE ETERNITY OF GOD IS NOT STATED, BUT TAKEN FOR GRANTED
The Scriptures tell us quite plainly Who God is. They tell us sufficient for our needs about the One Who reveals the Father. We know all we require to know about God in His Son. The Scriptures tell us all we require to know meantime about God's future purposes. But they never say one word about "where God comes from." The Book of Genesis assumes God and His existence. No attempt is made to explain or prove that God is eternal. If He is God at all, surely it must be evident that He is also self-existent and incapable of death. Absolutely nothing is added to our understanding of the word "Deity" by describing Him as the eternal Deity. To take an illustration from nature, we do not describe the rain that falls from heaven as "wet." Why should we? If it is rain it must be wet. So Jehovah, if He is Deity, must be eternal. If the fact of God is taken for granted in the Bible, so must His everlastingness be taken for granted. Those who demand that God describe Himself in His revelation as eternal really affront Him. They fail to observe that what is revealed is that He is also "the eonian God" (Rom. 16:26; tou aiOniou theou). The adjective here is emphatic, and it is submitted that if it signifies "eternal" the passage would lose its whole point. The divine purpose which takes in verses 25 to 27 can only be operative during special ages, when God assumes His special characteristics as "the eonian God." The eons appear to have been framed to deal with enemies which only exist during them—Death, Evil and Sin.
HOW GOD IS THE ONE LIVING FOR "THE EONS OF THE EONS"
How many people who live throughout the first half of the twentieth century will be able to say, not only that they have lived fifty long years, but that they have lived through two specially black and unique times, which seemed to be interminable, covered by World Wars. By what laws of mathematics is it impossible that the longer period should include the shorter, specially difficult times? This weak illustration may help to explain how the eternal God can also be "the eonian God." And just as many will be able to look back and say they lived through the World Wars, which stood out prominently in their lives, so in Revelation God gives special prominence to the "eons of the eons," which are probably the two final eons, which gradually reverse the evil course of the previous eons. In these eons Satan will be effectively curbed. What little is revealed in Scripture concerning the Millennium, and the Golden Age which will follow it, is almost all in the
Revelation. Is it therefore unnatural and unreasonable that God should be seen in Revelation as "the One living for the eons of the eons"? Will He not take special delight in His work of undoing the evil of the past eons?
THE ONE WHO HAS THE "KEYS" WORKS DURING THE EONS OF THE EONS
The work of recovery, restoration and reconciliation will be out of place after Death has been totally abolished at the end of the ages. Therefore, in Revelation it is the One who has the keys of Death and of the Unseen who is living for the eons of the eons (1:18); it is the Creator of the universe, who is about to restore and make new all things during these eons, who is worshipped as the One living for the eons of the eons (4:9, 10); it is the One who no longer delays to consummate the secret of God, during these eons, by whom the angel swears (10:5-7); it is the King of the eons, about to pour out his fury at last upon human lawlessness and misrule, and take to Himself His great power and reign for the eons of the eons, who is seen in ch. 15.
It is not without signification that all the above passages, cited by Mr. McCrossan, occur in the book of Revelation, the scope of which is bounded by the two coming ages. Nowhere else in the New Testament can Mr. McCrossan produce the same expression as is found in all these verses. Yet 1. Cor. 15:28 points to a time when God is the Living One beyond and outwith the Ages.
HIS OWN REASONING CONTRADICTED
Perhaps it has escaped Mr. McCrossan that with reference to Rev. 1:18 he contradicts his own reasoning. If "the Living One" means the One living and continuing to live throughout eternity," what are we to make of this verse? "I am the First and the Last, and the Living One (ho zOn); and I became dead; and behold! Living am I (zOn eimi) for the eons of the eons." How could One who lives and continues to live throughout eternity ever die? Does not the argument of Mr. McCrossan simply imply that he thinks Christ may die again? As Rotherham's grand Version shows the emphasis in this verse is not on the time, as Mr. McCrossan's argument would require, but upon the "living." In a special sense the Lord will be living for (Gr. eis) the eons of the eons. It may be pointed out that the preposition eis does not signify "throughout." John does not write dia tOn aiOnOn tOn aiOnOn (through the eons, of the eons or through "eternity," as Mr. McCrossan reads). Eis means into, unto, or for.
THE GREEK PRESENT PARTICIPLE
Mr. McCrossan produces opinions to show that the Greek Present Participle expresses an action as "going on and being repeated." We completely agree. The steward in Luke 16:3 was probably able to do a little digging. What he said was, "To go on digging (skaptein) I have not the strength." The Present tense or participle or infinitive speaks of continued action or repeated action. Paul stated, in Acts 17:28, that "in Him we are living (zOmen; present tense) and moving and having our being." We live from day to day. In a way, we repeat our existence each day. Can it not be, then, that throughout the two chiefest Ages, God also is viewed as thus living, as though He were in action? There are times when God is very active. We cite the six days of Genesis 1 as an instance. When, however, not the ACT or ACTION of living is brought before us, but the timeless FACT of living, the Greek Aorist is employed, and in these cases it is noteworthy that not a word is said about time or Ages. Thus, Rom. 14:9, "For unto this Christ dies and LIVES" (i.e., timelessly; ezEsnen). Rev. 2:8, "the First and the Last, who became dead, and LIVES" (EzEsen).
THE ANGELS PRAISE GOD FOR "THE AGES OF THE AGES"
"To clinch these proven facts," writes Mr. McCrossan (page 112), "read now Rev. 7:11 and 12." He then asks, "How long will the angels in Heaven continue to ascribe to God, the Father, Blessing and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might? Just for two more Ages only? Or for all eternity?"
Most decidedly we answer that the angels will ascribe these qualities to God for "the ages of the ages," and not necessarily any longer. First of all one hundred and forty-four thousand of the sons of Israel are sealed (vv. 4-8). Then an uncountable throng out of every nation, apparently this time Israelities of the dispersion, are saved through the great tribulation. Their ascription is, "The salvation-unto our God. . . ." (v. 10). The angels echo this by saying, "The blessing and the glory and the wisdom. . . . . be to our God, for the eons of the eons." (v. 12). We must observe that it is not salvation in general that is the subject of the passage. A particular salvation out of terrible circumstances is the subject. The ascription in v. 12 refers solely to this local and limited and national salvation. The same people, Israel, will be the ruling race during the Thousand Years and during the age of glory that stretches beyond the Millennium. After that, God becomes All in all, when His Son has brought to an end "all rule and all authority and power" (1. Cor. 15:24). The supreme place of Israel among the nations
will finally disappear. They will merge with the other nations as part of the family of God. Every barrier and privilege disappears. Even the Son Himself hands over His rule and takes the place of a subject, so that God may be All in all. If Mr. McCrossan argues that Israel will continue as the Priest Nation throughout all Eternity, this implies that Israel will continue as a barrier between the nations and God; that the Hebrew ritual (a mere shadow of better things) will carry on permanently; and that God's plans and purposes will become petrified and frustrated.
A POSITION THAT WOULD MAKE THE SCRIPTURES LUDICROUS
The throng acclaims a definite salvation out of a recent and cataclysmic tribulation. The angels ascribe blessing and glory and wisdom for this deliverance only. This is proved by the use of the Greek Definite Article each time. Rotherham brings out the true sense by rendering the articles. The laws of the Greek Article are very clear and precise. Here it is used with reference to the subject which is prominent in the mind of the speakers. The deliverance of Israel from Satan's scheme to overwhelm them nationally will permit them to occupy their unique position for the two eons to follow. We submit, however, that an ascription of praise to God through
out the whole of Eternity (if one can comprehend the thought) for a deliverance which was very local and limited in its scope of a people whose special privileges have long since been abrogated, would make the Scriptures ludicrous, besides make the ears of God Himself wax woefully weary.
THE DOMINION OF GOD'S SON IS FOR "THE EONS OF THE EONS."
To clinch my own argument I might ask Mr. McCrossan, How long will the dominion (Gk. kratos) of God's Son last? Of course, he ignores the very plain statement found in 1. Cor. 15:24-28. He will have it that once the point is reached when, as he thinks, there should be "Time no longer," everything will continue exactly as it is, immutably and eternally. Yet the Scriptures say plainly, in perfect harmony with 1. Cor. 15 that the dominion of God's Son is "for the eons of the eons" and for them alone (1. Pet. 4:11; 5:11; Rev. 1:6; 5:13. See Rotherham's version).
THE WILD REASONING AND GUESSWORK OF ARISTOTLE
Mr. McCrossan considers it utter nonsense to claim that the Greek adjective aiOnios was never translated eternal until the fourth century. Although he claims to have discovered the exact meaning of this word from the Septuagint and the Greek New Testament, he would have us resort to Aristotle, the originator of the great Greek School of wild reasoning and guesswork which has been for centuries the chief enemy to oppose scientific study of the divine writings. Let us then advert to this great thinker of the fourth century B.C. to see what he does say about the word aiOn. Mr. McCrossan quotes from Aristotle's work on "The Heavens," but succeeds in completely adapting and distorting the translation to suit his own views. What Aristotle said was, if we translate scientifically and accurately, "For the Consummation which includes the lifetime of each one, outside of which there is, according to nature nothing, has been called each one's aiOn." He continues that according to the same principle "the consummation of the whole heaven and the undiscovered (apeiron; untried, unexperienced, unprobed) time of all (things or people) and the consummation which includes what is not discovered (or probed, experienced), is an aiOn, having gotten its derivation from aei einai (aye, be), deathless and divine."
This is exactly the meaning as found in every other Greek writer of antiquity and in the Septuagint, and in the New Testament, in every occurrence. Going farther back Homer we find that aiOn invariably signifies an eon, a lifetime, a limited period (long or short). He uses the word thirteen times in his Iliad and Odessey. Let Mr. McCrossan attempt to read "eternity" in the passages before he imports this thought
into the Scriptures (Iliad 4:478; 5:685; 9:415; 16:453; 17:302; 19:27; 22:58; 24:725. Odessey 5:152, 160; 7:224; 9:523; 18:204). Thus Iliad 9:415, "Yet lifetime for me will be of long duration" (epi dEron de moi aiOn essetai).
THE MEANING OF AION WITH WRITERS BETWEEN
HOMER AND ARISTOTLE.
The meaning of aiOn is constant in the writers who come between Homer and Artistotle, such as Hesiod, Aeschylus, Pindar, Sophocles, Socrates and Plato. Many examples can be quoted from their works. It is thought that Plato (fifth century B.C.) coined the adjective aiOnios yet this word bears constantly the meaning of "eoinan" down to about the fourth century A.D. At that time the false theological nuance Which had been injected by the Roman Church into the Latin word æternum which was used to translate the Greek word ainOnios, gradually rendered the Greek term equivocal in meaning. Originally the Latin æternum signified only what is eonian. It is derived from ævum, an age, and it is a congener of the Greek aiOn (originally aivon). The English word "age" comes to us through the Old French from the Latin ætaticum a derivative of ævum. In my articles upon "How Eternity Slipped In" I have given hundreds of most useful and incontrovertible facts bearing out these conclusions from a linguistic and historical and scriptural standpoint. Even today in Modern Greek, hundreds of letters which I have translated for roalty and Governments testify to the meaning the word aiOn still bears in all parts of Greece.
NO HEBREW OR GREEK TERM CAN MEAN
An instance of the reckless methods of theologians is seen above in the extracts from Aristotle. What he calls "undiscovered" or "unprobed" time or space (apeiron) has been distorted by careless Scholars into "boundless " or "infinite" time or space. The word accurs once in the N.T. at Heb. 5:13 (A.V. unskilful; margin, hath no experience). "Boundless" and "infinite" are not so-called secondary meanings; they are distortions. No Hebrew or Greek term, used by God, can possibly mean two things. No word can ever mean more than itself. Scholars and theologians are most slow to recognise this important law of language.
A similar example is to hand in the corruption of the meaning of the Greek word aidios, which simply means "unperceived" (Rom. 1:20; Jude 6). This also has been made to mean "eternal," possibly because Greek had not one single term to represient such an idea.
WHY THE LATIN FATHERS CHANGED OBSCURITY
It will be noted that Aristotle's use of the word apeiron (undiscovered, unprobed) answers exactly to the Hebrew term olam, which means obscure, obscurity. Theologians and Scholars, however, have ever been found to suspect and doubt and manipulate a Revelation which pointed forward to
obscurity. For this reason the Latin fathers changed the apparent obscurity of the future eons to the more clear cut conception of Eternity, To proclaim what was still obscure was humbling to their pride; not so to proclaim a future as unending as that of God.
Therefore, we find that Jerome, in his Latin Vulgate version of the Bible (fourth century A.D.), uses the word æternam, apparently to express "eternity," as a rendering of the Greek aiOnios, which however, is also rendered by seculum, which means an age. Such inconsistency strongly
supports our contention regarding the true meaning of the Greek word. This contention is proved unassailable by the Latin rendering in Ex. 15:18 and Micah 4:5. Humbly we would beg Mr. McCrossan to explain just what the Latin means by saying "into eternity and beyond" or "into eternity and after" (in æternum et ultra). If he is conscientious he will either give a rational explanation or admit candidly before God that he has been mistaken. He claims to have
taught for years the very hardest of the Greek classical authors. Jerome, however, might prove to be even harder.
THE TESTIMONY OF PROFESSOR MAX MULLER.
Professor Max Muller stated that the Latin word ævum originally signified life or time, but had given rise to words which expressed eternity the very opposite of life and time. He says aeternum "was made to express eternity." This resembles a statement by Phavorinus in the sixteenth century, in the famous "Etymologicum Magnum," a huge work of the ninth or tenth century showing the derivations of all Greek Words. In his edition of this work he states that
in addition to its usual old meaning aiOn is "the unperceived (aidios) and interminable (ateleutEtos), as it seems to the theologian"!
THE GOTHIC VERSION OF THE NEW TESTAMENT.
We shall now examine the evidence of one of the greatest Christian classics, of old the Gothic Version of the New Testament, made about the same time as Jerome's Vulgate Versicn, in the middle of the fourth century, by Wulfila. Much of the N.T. still survives in this primitive and archaic English-German tongue. Many of its words still survive unchanged in modern English. This Version reproduces the sense of the Greek most faithfully, far more so than the Latin Versions. It is very much more faithful to the Greek than is the English Authorised Version. Being free from the influence of Jerome's Latin Version, and consisting almost exclusively of native North European words it does not contain such Latin words as destruction, perish, damnation, perdition, torment, eternal, and punishment. The Greek term aiOn is rendered by the Gothic equivalent aivs thirty five times: out of forty one occurrences; once it uses libains (life); twice it shows alds (time, or that which makes old); thrice it has adjukduth a lengthened and abstract form of aivs, meaning obscurity. The adjective aiOnios is always rendered by aiveinos, which means nothing more than eonian. Anyone can see that the Gothic aivs is cognate with the Greek aivon and Latin ævum. Here are some of the expressions in which this word is found in the Gothic Version du aiva (to or for the eon); du aivam (to or for the eons); in aiva (in the eon); in aivins (for the eons); und aiv (until the eon); fram aiva (from the eon); fram aivam (from the eons); this aivis, (of this eon); yainis aivis (of yon eon); fram anastodeinai aivis (from the beginning of the eon). In 2. Cor. 4:4 it reads Guth this aivis, "the god of this eon." Who is so bold as to aver that Satan is the god of any eternity? Christ delivers us from the present wicked eon (Gal. 1:4). Can anyone maintain that believers are not only bound for eternity, but already delivered from it? Is the present time Eternity, and if so must it remain ever wicked? Here the Gothic faithfully follows the Greek.
This little Greek word is also present in English in our word ever which is nothing more than the Anglo-Saxon aefre
which was the genitive or dative of aef. This meant "time" or "at any time." The Greek word for "immediately" is rendered in the Gothic Version by suns-aiv, that is, "soonever." "Never" or "at no time" is rendered by ni aiv or aiv ni (not ever), or by ni aiv wanhun (not ever when). A great amount of further interesting evidence can be produced from the ancient Gothic Version, which, like the Syriac, Coptic Armenian, and Ethiopic Version, shows no sign what
ever of any word expressing unending time.
Where, in the New Testament, it is revealed that certain things are to continue after the Ages have closed, or where anything is described as being interminable, the Greek utilizes a distinctive negative particle, as in the following examples:
Luke 1:33 of His kingdom there shall be no consummation (ouk estai telos, not will-be finish).
1. Cor. 15:42 it is raised in incorruption (aphtharsia).
1. Cor. 15:53 this mortal must put on immortality (athanasia, deathlessness).
1. Pet. 1:4 an inheritance incorruptible and undefilable and unfadeable (amaranton).
Heb. 7:16 the power of indissoluble life (akataluton).
THE STRONGEST EXPRESSION FOR ENDLESSNESS
NEVER USED FOR FUTURE JUDGMENT.
No doom in the Scriptures which is described as lasting for the ages is interminable like the awful doom of the coming City of Babylon. Within the space of three verses in Rev. 18:21-23 we encounter no less than six times the solemn negative expression nevermore (ou mE eti; A.V. no more at all). This is the strongest expression to be found in all the Bible denoting the idea of endlessness. Yet this expression is never once found in all Scripture with referencle to the future life or future judgment or death. We urge all who are fair minded to grasp this important fact, generally overlooked by those who reject God's truth.
Mr. McCROSSAN AVOIDS HEBREW TEXT IN
TREATMENT OF EXODUS 3:14
As a further proof that the Scriptures describe God as eternal, Mr. McCrossan adduces Exodus 3:14. As was to be expected, once more he shuns and avoids the Hebrew text, which, evidently, he does not reckon as the inspired text of the Old Testament. Instead, he turns to the Greek translation of the Hebrew, egO eimi ho On, and turns this simple little statement into "I am the One being and always continuing to be throughout eternity." Bagster's translation of the
Septuagint shows nothing more that "I am THE BEING." Because verse 15 states that the name Jehovah is God's name for obscurity or for the eon, Mr. McCrossan comes to the conclusion that in these two verses we have a clear statement that God's eternal existence is revealed.
Nothing could be further from the truth than Mr. McCrossan's conclusions. The name Jehovah is God's eonian name only. Jehovah is God seen as the God of these eons alone. Jehovah is not by any means God's everlasting name. In Hebrew the word means, He is coming to be or He shall come to be." The verb hayah always has this force. The Oxford Gesenius Hebrew Lexicon gives the following as helps to the understanding of this word: happen, turn out, come into being, appear, come on the stage, show or prove oneself, become. In order to meet the various situations caused by the presence of sin and evil and death in the world, God must continually adapt Himself to the needs of His creatures. It is as Jehovah that He comes into various relationships with them. Koelle, in his fine book, "The Goal of the Universe" (London, 1903), well puts it thus: "Thus the prophecy, latent in the name of Jehovah, that tne Absolute and Infinite will acquire an historical subsistence, a progressive life in and with His creatures, will obtain its crowning fulfilment. The Divine Transcendent will have become manifest as the Divine Immanent. The world will be the visible exponent of God's Person, attributes, and glory."
THE ISRAELITES NEEDED A MORE HUMAN DEITY; NOT ONE INCOMPREHENSIBLE.
If the Israelites had forgotten who was the God of their fathers, it would not have helped them in the least to be told that he was One who was and would ever continue to be throughout an endless eternity. Such a stupendous thought would only have bewildered them. Like all other frail human beings, they needed a more human Deity, One closer at hand, and not incomprehensible. It was the God who heard the groaning of the children of Israel who remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob (Ex. 2:23-24), who appeared to Moses in the Burning Bush (3:4), and came down to deliver Israel out of Egypt.
THE PROPER SENSE OF EXODUS 3:14.
The reading of the Septuagint at Ex. 3:14 does not correspond to the Hebrew, while the reading of the A.V. does not make clear sense. The Hebrew reads, ehyeh asher ehyeh. This means neither "I AM THAT I AM" nor "I am He who is." The proper sense approximates to "I am becoming what I am becoming" or "I shall become what I shall become." Some have put it thus, "I shall become what I must needs become"—everything that is necessary to my creatures. By the time that 1. Cor. 15:28 has attained complete fulfilment, God will have become all in all. More than that He cannot become, and His name Jehovah will no longer apply. This is one proof that in Ex. 3:15 the Hebrew word olam cannot be rendered "for ever."
Finally, we sum up by stating, without fear of contradiction, that there is no word or passage in all the original Scriptures which support Mr. McCrossan's contentions. We therefore plead with him to renounce that doctrine, which by painting our God in such colours as the Devil would have us see Him is really Satan's masterpiece.
Last updated 2.10.2005