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In the most recent books of the Old Testament, eternity in its strict sense is expressed by avi dioj, which properly means eternal, with no end: in Wisd 7:26, it refers to God, eternal light, and in 4 Mac 10:15 to the eternal life: here to.n avi dion twn euvsebwn bi,on is contrasted to to.n aivw,nion tou tura,nnou o;leqron, where it is notable that the eternal life is avi dioj, i.e., really eternal, with no end, whereas the death of the impious tyrant in the next world is aivw,nioj, i.e., belonging to the other aivw,n. Greensboro Metro Map In the New Testament, too, aivw,nioj means eternal only in reference to God, otherwise it means long-lasting e.g., cro,noi aivw,nioi in Rom 16:25-26 and 2 Tim 1:9 cannot mean eternal times!, and aivw,n means a century or age, or indicates this or, Greensboro Metro Map most often, the next world. Only avi dioj refers to eternity proper, e.g., in Rom 1:20. Above all, when it comes to the future life and death, whereas aivw,nioj refers to both life and death and punishment and fire in the New Testament, which are thus labeled as belonging to the next world or aivw,n in opposition to this world, ko,smoj or kairo,j, or to cro,noj, see, e.g., Mk 10:30 and all John, avi dioj refers only to life; it never refers to death or punishment of human beings or fire. Therefore, in the Bible only life is said to be properly eternal, without end, a characteristic that essentially and intrinsically belongs to God. Indeed, eternal life is the participation in the life of God, by grace; Christ himself is said to be this life.
This precise distinction is maintained by many Greek Fathers, especially Tatian, Clement, Origen, Didymus, Athanasius, the Cappadocians, Evagrius, Theodore of Mopsuestia, John Chrysostom, Proclus of Constantinople, ps.-Dionysius and Maximus the Confessor Ramelli – Konstan 82- 225. They apply to God both the biblical aivw,nioj and the more philosophical but attested also in the Bible! avi dioj the latter from the apologists onward, e.g., Aristides and Athenagoras but they refer avi dioj only to the future life and bliss, Greensboro Metro Map whereas to future death, punishment of human beings, suffering and fire only aivw,nioj is applied. A passage of Didymus Comm. on Job 76,11ff., a close follower of Origen, on the polysemy of aivw,nioj and aivw,n is telling, since it shows that he was perfectly aware that aivw,n in the Bible does not mean eternity; only if aivw,nioj refers to God does it signify eternal in the absolute sense, without beginning or end, and not subject to time, whereas for human beings it indicates the continuation of this life in the life to come, in the next world: It must be noted that aivw,nioj is said in several ways: in the expression, aivw,nioj God,’ it means beginningless and endless; for God is called aivw,nioj by virtue of having neither a beginning nor an end of his existence. But aivw,nioj is something different when used in the expression, things unseen are aivw,nia': for these things are not aivw,nia in the way God is, but rather because they do not perish but remain forever in the same condition.
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