In this article I am answering Matt Slick concerning Matthew 25:46, My (Tony’s) responses will be in Roman type (regular) type and Matt’s in italic.

Matt.25:46 and Universalism

And these will go away into eternal punishment,
but the righteous into eternal life” (Matt. 25:46).

     The universalists do not believe in eternal punishment.  Universalism teaches that all will eventually be saved.  Therefore, punishment of the wicked either is not punishment in hell fire (Matt. 18:8), but some inner sorrow due to loss of reward, or the word "eternal" does not mean "without end."
    It seems strange to me how Matt can draw such an illogical inference to make a case. For instance, he tries to use Matt.18:8 to say that since we don’t believe in “eternal punishment” that therefore punishment of the wicked is not punishment in “hell” fire. But the fact is we do believe that there will be some who will enter into the fires of Gehenna. Those individuals, however, will have their dead corpses cast into Gehenna. They do not suffer IN Gehenna. The fires of Gehenna which burn the city offal will burn up the dead body of the criminal if the fires reach that body. Otherwise the worms will devour it. Jesus used the word “Gehenna” in Matthew 18:9 and was improperly translated as “hell”. We can still maintain that people will not be punished for eternity while at the same time believe that these criminals will experience the fate of a death sentence and have their dead bodies cast into the trash dump called Gehenna which is just outside of Jerusalem. Also of note is that in Matt.18:8 Jesus used the word “eonian” to describe the fire as “eonian fire” which is the fire pertaining to the eon; not pertaining to eternity. We’ll get to that important point later.
Here is the passage from Isaiah which alludes to Gehenna:

Isa 66:23 And it comes, according to the monthly quota in its month, and according to the sabbath quota in its sabbath, all flesh shall come to worship before Me in Jerusalem, says Yahweh." “And they fare forth and see the corpses of the mortals, the transgressors against Me, for their worm shall not die, and their fire shall not be quenched, and they become a repulsion to all flesh.”(Isa 66:24)

To this same Gehenna, fire and worm it was that Jesus alluded to when He stated:

    “And if your hand should ever be snaring you, strike it off. It is ideal for you to be entering into life maimed, rather than, having two hands, to come away into Gehenna, into the unextinguished fire (44) where their worm is not deceasing and the fire is not going out. (45) And if your foot should be snaring you, strike it off. For it is ideal for you to be entering into life maimed or lame, rather than, having two feet, to be cast into Gehenna, into the unextinguished fire, (46) where their worm is not deceasing and the fire is not going out. (47) And if your eye should be snaring you, cast it out. It is ideal for you to be entering into the kingdom of God one-eyed, rather than, having two eyes, to be cast into the Gehenna of fire, (48) where their worm is not deceasing and the fire is not going out” (Mark 9:43-48).
    If the reader of this page were to travel to Jerusalem today and went to the valley of Hinnom (also known as Gehenna), he would note that there is no fire and there are no worms. In fact, it is presently a lovely park.

    Here are a few passages in the Old Testament where it is stated that the fire shall not being quenched:
    “Yet the fire on the altar shall be kept glowing on it; it shall not be quenched. The priest will make wood consume on it morning by morning and arrange the ascent offering on it and cause the fat portions of the peace offerings to fume on it. The fire shall be kept glowing continually on the altar; it shall not be quenched”(Leviticus 6:13,14). Yet we are apprised of the fact that thousands of years ago it did go out. It is not that God was lying about the duration of the fire. It should be understood that, as long as they obeyed His laws, they would not recieve the curses of the law and not go into captivity. Of course, the priests could not keep the fire burning on the altar should they be killed or go into captivity. Likewise, the fire and worms of Gehenna are in force only during the 1000 year kingdom age or eon which is yet to come and in which Christ will reign in Jerusalem. That 1000 year eon will end and be superceded by the new earth; the former earth being destroyed by fire. Therefore Gehenna will come to an end along with its fire and worms and be replaced by the lake of fire.
    “and shall be consumed by night and by day, and it will not be quenched for the eon; its smoke shall ascend from generation to generation, and it shall be deserted permanently, for permanence, and no one shall pass in it” (Isaiah 34:10 ). This judgment which Isaiah writes is concerning God's dealing with those in contention with Zion (cf 34:8). The above is true within its contextual setting. On the New Earth this will be done away. During the 1000 year kingdom when Christ comes back and reigns this judgment will be enforced. The fires will not be quenched during that time. And of course Isaiah 66:24 already alluded to above.

     In Greek, the word "eternal" is the word "aiwnion", or "aionion."  This word occurs in two places in Matt. 25:46:  Let’s look at it again in a Greek Interlinear form:

This is a gif picture of Matthew 25:46 with English words under the Greeks

     The exact same word "aiwnion," "aionion" is used to describe the duration of punishment as well as of the life of the righteous - those who are saved.  The same word describes both conditions.  If it means one thing in the first part of this sentence, then it means the same thing in the second part since they are both in the same context and both are describing time-duration of the states of the unsaved and the saved.  If the punishment is eternal, then so is the life. Likewise, if, as the universalist says, the punishment is not eternal, then neither is the life.  You can’t pick and choose how the word is applied in this verse.
      But the universalists do just that.  They are saying is that Jesus meant that eternal life is forever but eternal punishment is not -- even though He used the same word, in the same breath, to describe them both.  It just doesn’t fit.
     Matt starts out with a false premise by stating: “In Greek, the word eternal is the word aiwnion", or aionion.” Actually in Greek, the word the Greeks used to carry the idea that something pertained to the eons was “aionion.” It just means “pertaining to the eon(s)” nothing more, nothing less. That is what the adjective does. Actually we believe that both the duration of the life the sheep nations enter into in the kingdom during the 1000 year reign of Christ is equal to the duration of the chastening which the goat nations endure outside the kingdom on the earth in Matthew 25:46. Since both are eonian (aionion), both are pertaining to the eon and not to eternity. Both pertain to the 1000 year eon or age. The judgment of Matthew 25:31-46 is not about believers vs. unbelievers but it is about nations who treated Jesus’ brethren correctly during their great tribulation and those nations that treated His brethren poorly. Read it yourself if you don’t believe me. Since the Bible is quite clear that the eons end, how can that which pertains to the eons be pertaining to what is endless? Further down this page I show proof from the Bible that the eons in fact do end.

     Matt continues: Let’s translate it the universalist way....
     The universalists are fond of translating Bible verses and leaving out the translation of a particular word.  So, I will use their style in the following translation:

And these will go away into aionion punishment,
but the righteous into aionion life.

     Or, to take a little liberty, it could be translated as,
And these will go away into non "aionion" punishment,1
but the righteous into "aionion" life.      I inserted the word "non" here to reflect what the universalists intend the word "aionion" to mean when describing punishment.  But notice, it isn’t there when describing life because the Universalist believes that the life of the righteous is without end:  eternal.  This is the kind of thing the universalist position must do in order to justify his position.
     Another translation according to universalist presuppositions might be:
And these will go away into non-eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.
     I think it is interesting that Matt states: “The universalists are fond of translating Bible verses and leaving out the translation of a particular word,” yet he brings forth no proof of such. But we’ll let him slide on that one. Matt is also incorrect in saying that we mean the word aionion should have the word “not” in front of it in cases dealing with punishment but that it should be eonian when dealing with the righteous. This is false. God’s word needs no such help. Both the life the sheep nations enter into and the punishment the goat nations enter into is eonian and thus pertain to the eon or age in view, which the Bible says will end. Furthermore, Jesus never calls the sheep nations His brethren but He says that they did such and such good to His brethren. That is important to note.

    Of course, that isn’t what the text is saying.
     I hope you can see the inconsistency of translating and interpreting Matt. 25:46 any other way than stating that the punishment is eternal as is the life of the righteous.
     This verse alone proves that the universalist position is incorrect.
_______________
1.  As a comment, with this type of translation, it is easy to confuse what the text is really saying because the reader is not familiar with the Greek word “aionion.”  The Universalists often do this:  partially translate a verse leaving a transliterated Greek word or two in place of English words. They can then tell you what the word “really means.”  This can be misleading.

    That is interesting. Every Bible translation there is uses transliterated words which are carried over from Greek straight over into English. A few examples should suffice: "baptize" and "anathema" and "blasphemy" and "evangelize" and "evangelist" and "Abba," and “Christ”, the names of people and places, to name just a few. And yes, we can tell you what the word “really means” because we stick with the Bible and its usage of the word. If the Bible says that the eons end then that which is eonian is that which pertains to what is not endless. It is actually misleading on Matt’s part to suggest that we are wrong to be able to know what words mean in the Bible.     For absolute proof that the eons end here is what the Bible says:

THE EONS END, INDIVIDUALLY AND COLLECTIVELY
Heb.9:26 conclusion of the eons KJV has: the end of the world
1Cor.10:11 consummations of the eons KJV has: the ends of the world
Matt.24:3 conclusion of the eon KJV has: the end of the world

    It is possible that your Bible, like Matt’s Bible does not use the word "eon" or "age" for the Greek word “aion.” It may use “world.” I realize this gets confusing but God is not the author of confusion. Man is.

Here is Hebrews 9:26 from some very well respected Bibles:

Hebrews 9:26: (since it was necessary him often to have suffered from a laying down of a world;)now but once for all at an end of the ages, for a removal of sin by means of the sacrifice of himself he has been manifested. (Diaglott)

Hebrews 9:26: Else had it been needful for him, ofttimes, to suffer, from the foundation of the world; but, now, once for all, upon a conjunction of the ages, for a setting aside of sin through means of his sacrifice, hath he been made manifest; (Rotherham)

Hebrews 9:26: For then he ought to have suffered often from the beginning of the world: but now once at the end of ages, he hath appeared for the destruction of sin, by the sacrifice of himself.

Hebrews 9:26: or else he must have suffered often since the foundation of the world. But now once at the end of the ages, he has been revealed to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. (HNV)

Hebrews 9:26: for then he must have often sufferance since the foundation of the world: but now, once, at the conclusion of the ages, he has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. (LO)

Hebrews 9:26: or else he must have suffered often since the foundation of the world. But now once at the end of the ages, he has been revealed to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. (WEB)

Hebrews 9:26: In that case Christ would have needed to suffer many times, from the creation of the world onwards; but as a matter of fact He has appeared once for all, at the Close of the Ages, in order to do away with sin by the sacrifice of Himself. (Weymouth)

Hebrews 9:26: since it had behoved him many times to suffer from the foundation of the world, but now once, at the full end of the ages, for putting away of sin through his sacrifice, he hath been manifested; (YLT)

Hebrews 9:26: since then He must often be suffering from the disruption of the world, yet now, once at the conclusion of the eons, for the repudiation of sin through His sacrifice, is He manifest (Concordant Literal New Testament).

     So we see that sin will be repudiated or put away when all the eons otherwise called "ages" come to an end.
Please note that the KJV mistranslated this verse like this:

This is Hebrews 9:26 with some notes proving that the first place where the KJV has the word world they were correct but the second place where they have world it should be eons or ages because the word kosmos does not appear in the second place in the Greek texts but aiwnwn for eons or ages does

     Do you see the mistake? Where they translated "end of the world" the word “world” was translated as if it were singular in the KJV but the Greek word aiwnwn is plural for “eons.” Not only that but the Greek word for “world” is really “kosmos.” The KJV translated kosmos correctly in the first part of the verse as “world” but in the second part they translated the plural aiwnwn as “world” also! Now do you see why people are so confused on this issue of the the eons/ages ending? If the Bible was a radio and the translators were electricians, their radio would never work because it would have short circuited long long ago!

1Corinthians 10:11 is another verse which shows that the eons end:

1 Corinthians 10:11: These things and all types happened to them; was written and for admonition of us, on whom the ends of the ages met. (Diaglott)

1 Corinthians 10:11: These things happened to them by way of warning, and were recorded to serve as a caution to us, in whose days the close of the ages has come. (Twenty)

1 Corinthians 10:11: But, these things, by way of type, were happening unto them, and were written with a view to our admonition, unto whom, the ends of the ages, have reached along. (Rotherham)

1 Corinthians 10:11: Now these things happened unto them by way of example; and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages are come. (ASV)

1 Corinthians 10:11: Now all these things happened to them as types, and have been written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages are come. (Darby)

1 Corinthians 10:11: Now all these things happened to them by way of example, and they were written for our admonition, on whom the ends of the ages have come. (HNV)

This is a jpeg of 1 Corinthians 10:11 showing where the KJV tranalstors erred again. The Greek word Kosmos does not appear at all in this verse so the word world should not appear either. The Greek word aiwnwn however does appear and should be translated in the plural as eons or ages


     Notice again how the KJV translators messed up? The Greek word "Kosmos" does not appear anywhere in 1 Corinthians 10:11. Therefore the word “world” should not appear either. The Greek word that IS in 1 Corinthians 10:11 though is aiwnwn (pronounced as "I own own" as In “I own a new car.” Furthermore, once again “aiwnwn” is the plural form of "aiwn" and should be "eons" or "ages." It should not be translated as “ends of the world” but “ends of the eons or ages.”

1 Corinthians 10:11: Now, all these things happened to them as types; and are written for our admonition, on whom the ends of the ages are come. (LO)

1 Corinthians 10:11: Now all these things happened to them by way of example, and they were written for our admonition, on whom the ends of the ages have come. (WEB)

1 Corinthians 10:11: All this kept happening to them with a figurative meaning; but it was put on record by way of admonition to us upon whom the ends of the Ages have come. (Weymouth)

1 Corinthians 10:11: And all these things as types did happen to those persons, and they were written for our admonition, to whom the end of the ages did come, (YLT)

1Corinthians 10:11: Now all this befalls them typically. Yet it was written for our admonition, to whom the consummations of the eons have attained (Concordant Literal)

    The eons will end. When the eons end, God’s goal is to “vivify” or give immortality to all mankind, subject all mankind to Christ and be All in all mankind (1 Cor.15:22-28), and have all in the heavens and on the earth reconciled to Him (Col.1:20), and have all in the heavens and all on the earth headed up in the Christ (Eph.1:10), and justify all mankind (Romans 5:18), and make all mankind righteous (Romans 5:19). These things have already attained to the believer so in essence the consummations of the eons have attained to us per 1 Corinthians 10:11.
    So since the eons do in fact end, and since the Greek word aiwnion or "eonian" is that which pertains to the eons, then we know that eonian cannot have the meaning of “eternal.” The only way “eonian” could have the meaning of “eternal” would be if the word “eon” meant eternal. Since no eon is eternal then that which is eonian cannot be pertaining to that which is eternal.
    Since no eon can be eternal (since they all end) this proves that there is no such thing as "eternal torment" and proves that all that God longs for in His goals for mankind will be met!
    To see a complete concordance on the word "eon" and "eonian" please go The Eons of the Bible
    And to see how the word Eonian "aiwnion" is used please go here to The Poisonous Fruit of Vine Sincerely,
Tony N.

I am updating the above article to what is written below on 6-1-2008.
Matt Slick has once again added to his article which I responded to above.

This is what he now writes:
    But, the universalists state that "aionion" is an age, a period of time that can have a finish. They would then answer this objection and say that punishment is for a time and so is life, but that both of these are for an "aionion" period and after each period is another. In the case of the aionion punishment, it would end and then after that, they would have eternal life. Likewise those possessing eternal life already in the aionion "age" will continue to have it in the next age. The only problem is that that isn't what the text is saying. Jesus isn't setting up a time duration argument. He is telling us that there is eternal life and eternal death.
Tony's reply:
    I do not state that "'aionion' is an age, a period of time that can have a finish" as Matt states above. I have gone out of my way to prove that aionion pertains to the aion. In every Greek grammar that I know of, they teach the student that the adjective modifies a noun. The adjective pertains to the noun from which it is derived. For instance, American (adj.) is derived from America (n.). Heavenly (adj.) is derived from Heaven (n.). The adjective is never greater than the noun from which it is derived.
American is not more than America. Eonian is not more than eon. Get it? Just as American pertains to America, thus Eonian pertains to the Eon. Matt is arguing backwards. He is trying to prove aionion must mean eternal because he has been taught that people go to hell for eternity.
    Matt's second statement above I do not believe as Matt wrongly states: "In the case of the aionion punishment, it would end and then after that, they would have eternal life." This is absurd. Matthew 25:31-46 is concerned only with the time Christ comes back and judges the nations as to how they treated His brethren during the great tribulation. It is only during the millennial reign of Christ that they are judged as to how they treated His brethren. Upon the conclusion of that eon/age, both sets of nations stand before the great white throne and are judged again for other things along with the billions of people who lived prior to the millennium and during it who are not written in the book of life. So how do they have eternal life as Matt accuses us of believing upon the conclusion of the millennium? Matt cannot get his facts straight. So how can anyone trust him?
    Oh, and Jesus is not telling us about eternal life and eternal death as Matt states. Jesus used the ADJECTIVE aionios. This word modifies the nouns "life" and "chastening." Both the life and the chastening are pertaining to the aion/eon/age.

Matt continues with his new addition:
    The universalists have constructed a multi-age scenario to fit their perspective. In so doing, they have allowed for the occurrence of salvation after death, another teaching that is unbiblical. Heb. 9:27 says, "And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment," (NASB). The judgment comes from God and is upon the sinner. The universalist would have some sort of a judgment that leads to punishment that ends and then there is eternal salvation in the afterlife. In so teaching, they have ignored the translations of countless scholars and adopted those interpretations that agree with them in order to suit their theological bias. This is something they do very frequently, and with a vengence since they often turn a harsh tone towards those who do not agree with them.
Tony's reply:
    Well, let's not have any harsh tones toward Matt. We certainly don't need to be harsh toward him or anyone else who does not agree with us. But let us be manly and face the issues square on, shall we?
    It is not "the Universalists who have constructed a multi-age scenario to fit their perspective." The Bible clearly states there were eons or ages before this one in which we live and that there are eons or ages to come. Please see the links above in this article.
Not only that, but Matt's own beloved King James Version reveals a "multi-age" scenario as stated here:

    The KJV shows that there are "ages to come" thus showing a plurality of ages, each of which must end for the other to take its place:
(Eph 2:7) That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

    The KJV shows that there were ages in the past:
(Eph 3:5) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;

    The KJV shows that Christ is to get glory throughout all ages, thus showing each age ends and another takes its place:
(Eph 3:21) Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

    The KJV shows that the mystery was hid from the ages but made known now:
(Col 1:26) Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:

Then, Matt quotes Hebrews 9:27 to try to prove that people die and then are judged so there is no hope for salvation afterward.     A.E. Knoch had this to say concerning Hebrews 9:27:

REASONING GRASPS AT FAULTY TRANSLATIONS
     "The Scriptures teach that `as in Adam ALL are dying, thus in Christ, also ALL will be made alive' (vivified) (1 Cor.15:22). `It is appointed unto men ONCE to die, and after that the judgment'" (Heb.9:27).
    "There was a time when I was deceived as to the word once. I was told that it meant once for all. Such works as Newberry's and The Scofield Reference Bible (Jude 3) are "authority" for this. But they do not put this in their margin in the twice occurrent phrase "once and again" (Phil.4:16; 1 Thess.2:18). A concordance would deliver us from the inference that it means once only. In reasoning about this matter we have our choice. If there is a second death, then "it is appointed unto men once to die" does not exclude it. But reason never seems to run with faith. It far prefers inferences, which deny what God has said. It prints ONCE! in capital letters, and interprets it contrary to definite declarations of God.
    "Besides, the context in Hebrews nine shows that this passage is not at all in point. There is no reference to the "all men" of first Corinthians fifteen. It deals only with a very few men, the chief priests in Israel, at whose death there was a "judgment" (Num.35:22-29). It is "the men" of the context, not all mankind.
    Follow out the parallel, whoever desires to reason. Let us suppose that men die once for all and are condemned. Thus Christ, also, was offered and?? Will He be judged? That is logical. Nay! He will be seen apart from sin, for salvation (Heb.9:28). Reason is irrelevant. God distinctly speaks of a second death (Rev.2:11; 20:6,14; 21:8). Do not let reason rob you of this revelation. There is no passage of Scripture which conflicts with it. If you find one that seems to do so, examine it closely and the discrepancy will vanish."
(A.E. Knoch, Unsearchable Riches, vol.25, pp. 373,374).

Also, in the Concordant Commentary on Hebrwes 9:27 we have this:
    "This is not a general statement concerning all men, but the men who have been in view continually, that is, the Levitical priests. The word judgment has no reference to the judgment of mankind for sin, but the setting to rights of those cases in Israel which continued until the death of the high priest. The innocent man-slayer lived in the city of refuge until the death of the great priest (Nu.35:22-29). Then he might return to his patrimony. This was his "judgment". The parallel demands that this judgment correspond with the salvation which will come to those who are awaiting Christ. He, the great Chief Priest, has died, and in due time Israel, the man-slayer, shall return to the land of his possession."
Matt continues:
    I hope you can see the inconsistency of translating and interpreting Matt. 25:46 any other way than stating that the punishment is eternal as is the life of the righteous.
Tony's reply:
    And I hope you can see the inconsistency of translating and interpreting Matthew 25:46 any other way than stating that the punishment is eonian as is the life of the righteous nations who treated Christs brothers righteously.
    Also, of great interest, Matt Slick changed some of the words in the original article from this: "This is the kind of thing the universalist position must do in order to justify his position."
to this:
    "This is something Jehovah's Witnesses do when they "translated" the Bible. They changed words to make them agree with their theology."
    This argument proves nothing. It is just using "guilt by association" or "poisoning of the well" type of argument. In other words, Matt is saying that since the Jehovah's Witnesses did something a certain way, it must be that the Universalists have done the same thing they did. But the same charge can be leveled against Matt and translators of the bibles he uses. Yet it proves nothing. We did not translate the Bible so that Universalism would be true. Once the Bible was properly translated and it was seen that no aion/eon/age is eternal, that all the eons end, that there could not possibly be any monstrous idea such as "eternal torment."

Matt Slick’s article quoted above may be found at: http://www.carm.org/uni/Matt25_46.htm

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