We Can’t Do Anything Without Jesus

I hope at least a couple of you are wondering why I haven’t posted in a couple weeks. If you are one of those two people, lol, here is why.

My attempt to expand last year’s “Rebuilding the Foundation” series into a booklet on this blog is floundering. I took a look at the outline of the original teaching I did last year, and I realized I could probably expand the outline more successfully than what I am accomplishing here. I have been expanding that outline on my computer rather than posting here.

I don’t want to stop posting here, though, so I am going to post articles that are related to the “Rebuilding the Foundations” teaching (RTF). Today, the topic is …

We Can’t Do Anything Without Jesus

I am the vine. You are the branches. He who remains in me, and I in him, the same bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (Jn. 15:5, WEB)

That about says it. I don’t have to add anything at all to scripturally prove the premise of this post. So instead, let me explain how this relates to RTF.

Good Works and Grace

I am regularly told that I should tell the other side of the good works story. “Yes,” I am told, “good works are important like you are teaching, but you need to tell the other side of the story as well.”

I have two answers to this. One, the other side of the story is told weekly in pulpits, daily in contemporary Christian songs, and daily in our comfortable and unmotivated Christian lives. Two, I never stop telling the other side of the story, even when I am talking about good works.

Back on May 8, I posted “The Bible’s Amazing Focus on Good Works. Let’s review what I covered:

  • We are commanded to “affirm constantly” that God’s people should be “careful” to maintain good works (Tit. 3:8).
  • We are to think about how to “provoke” (or “annoy”) one another to love and good works (Heb. 10:24).
  • One of the main purposes of Scripture is to give us the tools to equip one another for good works (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
  • Grace will teach us and enable us to reject worldly living and to live godly (Tit. 2:11-12; Rom. 6:14).
  • Jesus died to purify us from all lawlessness and to purchase for himself a people zealous for good works (Tit. 2:13-14).
  • We will be judged by our good works (1 Pet. 1:17).
  • We are enabled to do good works by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 2:6-7 w/ Gal. 6:8-9).
  • Being born again sets us on a path of good works (Eph. 2:8-10)

These Scriptures not only show us the importance of good works, but they show us that God gave his Son, bought us with his blood, and gave us grace, the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit, the new birth, and each other so that we would be able to do the good works that lead to eternal life. That’s a pretty heavy dose of “the other side of the story,” don’t you think?

As we saw in John 15:5, we cannot do anything apart from Jesus. As I pointed out when I wrote about Romans 2:6-7, the problem with that verse is that the very next chapter points out that “no, not one” actually patiently continues to do good works. Even those who come close are going to include among the sinners, so that Jesus can be the one Redeemer and the One who justifies us all (Rom. 3:21-26).

Along with these lovely passages about grace and spiritual power, I also pointed out that God still expects us to patiently continue to do good works and that we will reap corruption rather than eternal life if we do not (Gal. 6:7-9). This is not a popular thing to point out even though it is repeated over and over and over again (e.g., Rom. 8:12-13; 1 Cor. 6:9-11; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:3-7; 2 Pet. 1:9-11; 2:20-21, etc.). Pointing it out seems to negate everything I said about God’s amazing benefits to us in grace, the Spirit, and each other.

The fact is, neither should be said without the other. Every time we are told that belief in the Son leads to eternal life (Jn. 3:16), we should also be told that disobedience prevents life and leads to the wrath of God (Jn. 3:36).

Do not be deceived, little children, the one doing righteousness is righteous as He is righteous. (1 Jn. 3:7)

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13 Responses to We Can’t Do Anything Without Jesus

  1. Greetings Paul

    I have thought, wrestled and engaged with your teaching, on and off, for about eight years now.
    Along the way you have provided some penetrating insights. There are teachings of yours that I find myself quoting to others. Other teachings I’m not so sure about, but I have nevertheless found them dripping into my psyche and affecting my thoughts (including the most important thoughts of all, the one’s about God).

    We have corresponded many times be it via this blog, email or Facebook. We have talked not just about the theological and biblical issues themselves, but where they fit with me and my own spiritual struggles. I have been astounded by your repeated willingness to engage and keep a friendly manner throughout. I’ve lost count of the number of times I have affectionately referred to you to others as “the American chap I know from the internet”.

    That all said, I have realised that I just cannot accept and stomach your general teaching on faith & works, try as I might.
    I think I have understood your position – you have outlined it well in this latest series of posts. I would summarise it as follows:

    Initial salvation from God is like receiving an immense starter kit, made available through Jesus. In it there is forgiveness of past sins, and the power to overcome sin and do good works. At the end of the day though, it’s these works that count (and the overcoming of sin) if we are to enter eternal life. We have love, power and grace from Jesus, but if we get to the last day and find that we have not done these works sufficiently, then we will receive a negative judgement from Jesus, and be cast into the lake of fire.

    If that summary is highly flawed then stop me right there and correct me as I am evidently still not hearing you properly.

    Otherwise, I have two broad reasons why I reject this:

    1. I cannot square it with the scriptural doctrines of forgiveness, justification, adoption and union with Christ.

    Forgiveness – If a Christian is in the habit regularly confessing his or her sins, then there is a scriptural promise of forgiveness and cleansing (1 John 1:9 – 2:2). Why then, would these sins be bought up on judgement day? Why would we be condemned for sins that Jesus has promised to forgive?
    I am not talking about cheap forgiveness (“yippee I can do all the evil I please, as long as I confess it and ask for forgiveness”). That attitude shows a lack of repentance.
    I sincerely ask for forgiveness every time I pray. I never “feel” a sense of divine forgiveness but cling to those biblical promises by naked faith (I have told you before about my problems with lack of feeling). Why would God not honour that?
    You could also say that to be a Christian is to live in a state of forgiveness, which leads on to the other three doctrines.

    The justified person does not have sin imputed to them (Romans 4: 6-8) and it is clear that all true Christians are justified. Can a Christian be justified throughout his life only to become unjustified when he dies?

    N.T. Wright has described justification as:

    “The covenantal declaration, seen through the metaphorical and vital lens of the lawcourt, is put into operation eschatologically. The verdict to be announced in the future has been brought forward into the present. Those who believe the gospel are declared to be “in the right.” (from his NIB commentary on Romans)

    In other words, those who are justified now will be justified in the future.
    That is quite notable, as Wright is known for heavily challenging the traditional reformed understanding of justification yet he still says this.

    In a similar fashion, scripture talks about Christians being made children of God (John 1:12, Romans 8:15, Galatians 4:7, Ephesians 1:5). This gift of sonship is freely bestowed by grace and is not a result of works of any kind (Ephesians 2:9). Nowhere is it implied that this adoption is probationary, or a half sonship or some kind of free trial that can be revoked on judgement day if it turns out you’ve not been a good enough son. In fact, the language is “heirs of eternal life”.

    Fourthly, it is stated that there is no condemnation for those in union with Christ (John 3:18, Rom 8:1).

    All of these doctrines describe the state of a Christian.

    Now, I do not believe in eternal security as it is clear that a Christian can fall from grace and essentially “opt out” of these blessings (Hebrews 10:26-30) . That seems to be a big thing, however, and I can’t see in the NT any notion of revolving door salvation (i.e. saved one minute and lost the next)
    Paul comforted the Thessalonians who had experienced the loss of loved ones with the following:

    “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14)

    He seems quite confident of the deceased member’s destination and does not qualify it by saying “providing they pass the judgement”.

    To sum up, what I’m saying is that these doctrines seem to portray the Christian life as being an escalator to salvation. You must hold on and not jump off, but if you stay in Christ you will make it in the end. You are either a Christian or you are not. I don’t see a third category in the New Testament of people who are united to Christ throughout their life but then get cast into hell because they didn’t do enough works or overcome enough sin.

    2. It’s grim.

    This is more of an emotional reason. I just cannot see how the message of “Be good or else” is good news. I have tried to see a loving, gracious and abundantly merciful God in your teaching, but I just can’t see him.
    I find this true even when you clearly try to paint it all in a positive light (as you have done in these last few posts).
    The demands of the Christian life in the New Testament are huge. In fact, it’s not simply “be good” but be a radical disciple, deny yourself, embrace suffering, give sacrificially, hate your family in comparison to your love etc.
    There are many contemporary teachers (e.g. Chan, Platt etc.) who never cease to emphasise these demands. This level we are to live to would be a recipe for despair if it weren’t for the good news that Jesus has covered our sin, abundantly pardons us, gives us grace when we fail and ultimately, will be the one who gets us there in the end if we hold on in faith (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).

    In your teaching, though, there seems so much demand placed on us. Instead of “We love because he first Loved us” it almost seems like “He loves us because we first loved Him”. But why would anybody want to love such a harsh and demanding God?

    I have the same reaction to similar teaching that you approve of. In a Facebook post not long ago, you mused on which segments of the Church you’d like to be a part of in the past if you had lived in a different century. Among them were the Early Church Fathers (naturally), the Anabaptists and Charles Finney’s revivals.
    I personally couldn’t imagine a worse Christian environment to be in. The writings of these I have read are among the most harsh, strict and condemning I have encountered (especially Finney, even his picture is terrifying!).
    I find this even more the case when reading others online who are great enthusiasts of the church fathers (and usually haters of the reformers too) – in fact, you’re quite moderate in relation to them! I have read many articles and sites by various David Bercot fans that reduce everything down to a list of Christ’s commands that we must obey totally or go to hell. All I can say is, is that if that is really the message of salvation then Christianity is the worst news in the world for everyone. A grim, gruelling, testing life of self -denial where only the ones who are good enough will make it in the end.

    I am not some kind of rebel or scoffer who couldn’t care less (yes, couldn’t – the american version of the phrase doesn’t make sense!) about God’s commands. I want to do what is right. However, I know that I am a deeply, deeply flawed individual with many bad habits, fears, insecurities and areas for development. Worst of all, I don’t feel like I am a radical “on fire” disciple who zealously loves Christ – rather, I’m more like a doubting and feeble mess. If salvation is not a free gift, and is not based on Christ’s merits then I am utterly screwed.

    Those are basically my objections. I don’t think I have put it quite as fully as this before, so I’d be interested hear your response.

    With warm regards, as ever

    Jon

    • paulfpavao says:

      Hi Jon,

      My response is that most of what you said is accurate. I have marked it deep down in my heart and mind never to half-finish a project publicly again.

      Also, sorry for taking a couple days to approve this. I did not realize it was not approved. I did realize I would not be able to answer the comment quickly because I was on a trip.

      The first time you commented, I replied that I would get to the things you brought up at the correct time in the study. Then I abandoned doing this project online. That was mostly because going back and editing previous blogs was a lot harder than going back and changing things in a Word document. I am in the middle of a chapter that addresses your concerns. That chapter is the chapter on judgment. I will go ahead and post that as a blog post, though it is not finished. Then you can comment on that. It fits in well enough with the series so far.

      Paul

      • Thanks Paul and no need to apologise. It takes me an age to write anything – that comment alone I finished two weeks after starting it (!).

        Thanks for putting up the latest post early. I will read it properly and muse before I reply.

        Jon

  2. Evan says:

    I disagree with your summation that my idea needs to be dropped. You of course are free to disagree but I would never demand that you drop any ideas that I might disagree with as you are free to continue to believe in what believe. Having said that, I try not to take things personally as iron sharpens iron.

    As for the two verses in 1 John that you reference, we have been taught and conditioned to believe that our aiōnios life with Christ is eternal. Thus 1 Jn 5:20 reads: “And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal [aiōnios] life.” (ESV) Aiōnios in this verse is an adjectival form of the word aiōn from which we get our English word eon. It signifies an age or limited duration of time. To my knowledge it is not possible for an adjective to completely change the meaning of the noun that it modifies. Yet we do this when we translate aiōnios to mean eternal as we not only modify its meaning but as we assign a totally opposite meaning from its noun form. I find this to be suspect to say the least and in my opinion, this verse should instead read something like “and we have known that the Son of God is come, and hath given us a mind, that we may know Him who is true, and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ; this one is the true God and the life age-during!” (YLT)
    Aiōnios when translated in this manner is consistent with its noun form. Thus We have ongoing aiōnios life with Christ as long as we abide in him. We have ongoing aiōnios life with him as long as we remain attached to the vine. We have ongoing aiōnios with Christ as long as we believe and obey him. Aiōnios life describes the quality and nature of our relationship with Jesus according to the age. The sheep have aiōnios life as long as they listen and follow the Shepherd. You and I know that those who cling to eternal security use the argument that eternal life can never be taken away because if it could, eternal life would not be eternal. That argument is fallacious for many reasons including the reason that aiōnios cannot mean forever.

    Regarding Lk 18:30. Ironically, i think this verse supports my view instead. The two pertinent words in this verse are aiōn and aiōnios translated in most English versions as “age” and “eternal” respectively. Again i ask why does the adjective take on a totally opposite meaning of the noun it modifies? Instead, YLT has it correct in my opinion: “who may not receive back manifold more in this time, and in the coming age, life age-during.'” We give up everything for the “sake of the kingdom” in v.29. The kingdom in v.29 = the age to come in v.30 = the millennial age (though you appear to not believe in literal 1,000 year reign). Aiōnios life is therefore not eternal life but life during the Messiah’s millennial age of reign. This passage happens to fit nicely with my initial comment where the rich young ruler was referring to life in the millennial kingdom and not to eternal life in heaven.

    Regarding your claim that there is only this age and the next age. In my view, there is this age/church age, the next age/1,000 years, and after the 1,000 years comes the great white throne judgment which ushers in another age marked by a new heaven and earth and life in the New Jerusalem. Seem to be more than one age in my opinion.

    We have had friendly discussions in the past and though we disagree I don’t see much difference in the tenor of our discussion regarding this subject. More contentious but perhaps that is to be expected. Contrary to your assertion: “Reading zoe aionios as eternal life is just not a problem anywhere. It causes no difficult verses and no strange interpretations. You are solving a problem that does not exist.” I do not agree with your claim for the following reasons. If aionios life cannot be translated as eternal life? What does it mean? After all, Christians toss around that term thinking they know what it means. Shouldn’t that oft referenced term in the NT at least deserve more scrutiny? Like I wrote, if it is life pertaining to the age, and if it refers to the kingdom age of Christ on earth, then works play an important part in co-reining with Christ – not the fairy tale story most Christians believe that when we die, we will all spend eternity with God in heaven.

    More importantly though, if aionios cannot be translated as eternal, then the obvious question is: Is punishment in the lake of fire eternal? I doubt that you would consider that subject to be of little or no importance. I know you study church history so if interests you you may want to look into the doctrine of apokatastasis. The retributive notion of the unsaved spending forever in hell that we have today can be traced back to Augustine who was a poor student of the Greek and instead had to rely on his understanding of Latin. Thus, when reading the NT in Latin, Augustine took the word aeternus to mean unending time, rather than an indefinite period of time. His influence essentially established this definition as the standard meaning of aeternus–and as the centuries passed, this meaning came to be seen as the equivalent of the Greek word aionios/aionion.

    If you have any interest and can afford it (I can’t) may I suggest you take a look at Ilaria Ramelli’s “Christian Doctrine of Apokatastasis: A Critical Assessment from the New Testament to Eriugena”

  3. Evan says:

    Greetings Paul, I haven’t corresponded with you for quite a while and I see that you are doing a new series. Since you are focusing on the relationship between works and eternal life, I thought I might share some of my thoughts since I have been contemplating similar things lately. My conclusion (at the present; subject to change) is that we have sold ourselves short. It seems to me that we have reduced salvation to eternal life with God in heaven when we die which is partially true but falls short of the whole picture. The reality is that we will not be with God forever in heaven but rather inhabit the new earth in the New Jerusalem. That is the final outcome – but is that the ultimate goal of the Christian? Shouldn’t our goal be to rule and reign with Christ in the Millennial Kingdom? I don’t think every Christian automatically gets to co-reign with Christ as that privilege belongs to those Christians who have persevered, overcome, died to themselves and as a result have washed their robes and made them white, These Christians join those who were martyred for the faith and rule with Christ for 1,000 years (Rev 20:4). This is where our works done according to our obedience to the Word and the Spirit result in co-reining in the kingdom.

    In the parable of the rich young ruler, the terms “eternal life” and “kingdom of God” are shown by Jesus to be equivalent in meaning. I am of the belief that aiōnion (translated as eternal) instead means pertaining to an age. If this is so, then inheriting “eternal life” could very well refer to life during the age of the Millennial Kingdom. This makes sense as the Jews were looking forward to the day when their Messiah would return as king to establish his reign on the earth. Was the young ruler referring to life during Christ’s 1,000 year reign on earth instead of eternal life in heaven as we normally interpret this passage to mean? It seems to me that this interpretation also fits nicely with Lk 19:11-26 where the faithful servants are rewarded for their faithfulness and work by being given the authority to rule over cities. This could be a reference to ruling over cities in the Millennial Kingdom.

    Perhaps reigning with Christ in the Millennial Kingdom was also the ultimate goal of the Apostle Paul. In Phil. 3:11-12 Paul employed the word “exanastasis” which only occurs once in the NT. This word translated as out-resurrection refers to an event other than the normal resurrection of believers elsewhere in the NT. Paul admits that he hoped to attain it but had not yet reached his goal. Is this the “better resurrection” referred to in Heb 11:35?

    If the above is true, then Christendom has had the goal posts moved. Our works or lack of works count for more than we could have imagined.

    • paulfpavao says:

      Hi Evan. The biggest problem with that whole “aionios is age-lasting” argument is that Jesus talks like there are only two ages, this one and the next one (e.g., Matt. 12:32; Luke 18:30). Most people latch onto “age-lasting” to try to get around the threats of eternal punishment, but if you read all the verses that use aionios, it makes the NT senseless. There are dozens (at least two dozen) talking about eternal life. It is just impossible that the promise is for temporary life or that temporary (one-age-lasting) life is what the apostles handled (1 jn. 1:1-2). That passage is talking about Jesus, and he does not have life for one age only. The “aionios is age-lasting” is a scam, put out by people who did not do enough research. They wanted a conclusion, then jumped to it before it was justified, then spread it anyway. It is bad, and it is a scam.

      As for your take on it, the millennium is found in Revelation only. It has never been accepted as definitely literal by everyone. We should not be building our end-times model on confident trust that it is literal.

      • Evan says:

        Hi Paul,
        This is one area where we disagree, which is fine since we can always agree to disagree. Aion refers to a finite age of time from which we get our English word eon, therefore its adjectival forms such as aionios, aionion cannot totally alter the meaning of the noun which it modifies to mean an unlimited duration of time. I’ll supply a quote from G. Morgan Campbell, known as the Prince of Expositors who wrote:
        In passing, and in connection with the great theme which we are only touching upon, let me say to Bible students that we must be very careful how we use the word “eternity.” We have fallen into great error in our constant use of that word. There is no word in the whole Book of God corresponding with our “eternal,” which, as commonly used among us, means absolutely without end. The strongest Scripture word used with reference to the existence of God, is – “unto the ages of the ages,” which does not literally mean eternally. (God’s Methods With Man; p 185-86)

        As you can see Campbell thought that there is no word in all of Scripture that can be translated as eternal with which I can concur as I have studied this subject for a few years. Your quote of Matt 12:32 is an interesting one which states that forgiveness will not be given in this age (church age) or the age to come. What do you suppose the next age to come is? Can it not refer to the millennial age? If so, it makes sense that blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven in this age or the next, but what happens after the next age is not addressed in this particular verse.

        As we both know, Revelation is a book with both literal and figurative elements but I see no reason for interpreting the 1,000 year reign of Christ on earth as figurative when I think it’s plain meaning is literal. If you are basing your objection based upon the Millennium being only found in Revelation, would you say that the New Jerusalem referenced in Revelation is therefore also figurative? I also don’t think that the millennial rule of Christ on earth is only referenced in Revelation as Christ’s earthly reign is referenced in such places as Zech 14:1-9; Eze 43:7; Isa 24:23.

        As for 1 Jn 1:2, aiōnios meaning eternal need not be the default meaning of this word. Compare these two translations for reference:
        ESV: the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—
        Young’s Literal: and the Life was manifested, and we have seen, and do testify, and declare to you the Life, the age-during, which was with the Father, and was manifested to us
        So although I concur with your statement that Jesus does not have life for one age only – this is not what this verse is referring to. In these two translations we see that the life (Jesus’) with the Father is referred to in the past tense. In other words, referring to the Son’s relationship with the Father prior to His incarnation. Thus “age-during” makes much more sense than “eternal” because it refers to a past age of Jesus’ relationship/existence with the Father, but is (now) made made manifest to us.

        This subject area is off-track of the topic of your post but I think would make for an interesting discussion in the future perhaps.

    • paulfpavao says:

      Well, I answered this already in my previous comment. The millennial kingdom is simply absent from the apostolic letters. It is in Revelation only. Pulling a word like “exanastasis” out, giving it a new meaning even though it is just the Greek word “ek” or “out” in front of the normal Greek word for resurrection, then baselessly assigning it to a time period Paul does not mention in all of his writing … it is unjustifiable. It is just speculation, and the speculation is baseless. There is no need for it nor any justification for it.

      Then the problem with fussing over aionios is that it creates passages that make no sense, and I gave examples in the previous comment. There are only two ages. This one and the next one.

      Your comment about “no Greek word that indicates eternity” only makes your point weaker. So if an apostle wanted to indicate eternal in Greek, how would he do it? We don’t need to speculate about that answer. We can see how they did it. They used aionias. Yes, it can be used to mean one age. It can also be used to indicate a life that is eternal, and it is in fact used exactly that way be the apostles, unless you think that it was an age-lasting, temporary life that came to the apostles and they touched and handled with their hands (1 Jn. 1:1-4). It makes more sense … wait, no. It makes sense to understand that our eternal Lord with eternal life brought to earth was referred to as eternal by the word aionios in 1 John 1:1-4. It makes no sense at all to think that life was age-lasting or temporary. I gave other example in my previous comment. Pulling a 1000-year reign out of a book full of symbols and applying it to writings by apostles who never mentioned a millennial reign … that’s just wrong.

      • Evan says:

        Like I wrote earlier, I have studied this subject for years and although that in itself does not automatically make my view correct, if you wish to debate it further you can always initiate another thread for further discussion.

        As far as your first claim is concerned, you are basing your point on an argument of silence which is one of the weakest forms or argumentation. Basing a claim on silence is at best based one’s own inference on what the text doesn’t say rather than what it actually says. If we examine what Rev 20:4-6 actually states it is rather clear to me that it should be taken literally. The context indicates it’s subjects are those who have been beheaded (literal). They did not worship the beast or take his image (literal). They came to life (literal). They reigned with Christ (literal). This is the first resurrection (literal). They are blessed and holy (literal). The second death has no power over them (literal). They will be priests of God and reign for 1,000 years (literal). Every single detail in the text appears to be a literal description so I see no scriptural warrant for not taking 1,000 years to also be literal.

        The word exanastasis only occurs once in the NT. Paul plainly states that he has not yet obtained it. Do you think that at this point in his later life while in prison that Paul was really referring to his salvation – that he was not yet saved unto life and that he was not sure of his eventual resurrection with Christ? That is highly unlikely. And if so, why did Paul then not employ the word anastasis which means resurrection? Instead,was it not Paul’s goal to attain to the the first resurrection described in Rev 20:5? He was certainly not referring to the general resurrection of the dead at the great white throne which is the second resurrection. As I wrote earlier, the goal of every regenerated believer is not to live with God forever in heaven as that is not what the scriptures portray. Rather the goal is to attain to a better resurrection (Heb 11:35) and reign with Christ (2 Tim 2:12). Works play an important part as our works or lack of works determine whether we will attain to the first resurrection and reign with Christ.

        Contrary to your assertion, aionios as not meaning eternal makes perfect sense. In Matt 12:32, the word used is aion – not aionios. Aion means an age of limited duration. Therefore all this verse states is that blasphemy is not forgiven in this age or the next. There is no mention of what happens after the next age. As for your citation of Lk 18:30, that verse is not really relevant as the Greek text uses two different words – kairō and aiōni so technically it would not be accurate to say this age and the age to come but rather this time and the age to come. More significantly though the Bible does not restrict itself to only two ages as you claim. Just one example among others in Rom 16:25-26 cites “ages past” which refers to ages (plural) in the past which does not conform to your belief in only one singular age (present) and one singular age in the future.

        To answer your question about if an apostle wanted to indicate eternal in Greek, how would he do it, is not hard to answer. You only need look to a verse such as Gal 1:5 which describes the glory of the Father as literally being to the ages of ages – ᾧ ἡ δόξα εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων· ἀμήν. Aionas ton aionon literally means ages of the ages which most English translate as forevermore. However to again quote Campbell for emphasis: “The strongest Scripture word used with reference to the existence of God, is – “unto the ages of the ages,” which DOES NOT LITERALLY MEAN ETERNALLY.” Instead there is another Greek word – aidios – which translates more accurately as “eternal.” The word is “aidios” which occurs in Rom 1:20 referring to God’s aidios/eternal power and in Jude 1 where aidios refers to the fallen angels kept in eternal bonds.

        Since you and I do not believe in the teaching of eternal security, age-during as the proper translation of aionios, aionion, etc. makes much more sense than eternal. The reason being is that we have age-during life as long as we continue to abide in the vine. One certainly cannot claim that they still have eternal life when they are in fact detached from the vine. We have salvific life in this age (age-during) while we are still living provided that we remain attached to Christ. Conversely, those branches who choose to not remain attached no longer have aionion life. If we continue and persevere in the faith until the end of our lives, then we will attain to the first resurrection where we will reign with Christ. I think this view actually give greater emphasis to the importance of works in our lives which is the subject of your teaching but you choose to disregard it which is of course your prerogative.

        • paulfpavao says:

          Wow. “Disregard”? I don’t think I have disregarded anything you have written. “Disbelieve” would be more accurate. That is because I don’t agree with your use of aionios, for reasons I have already expressed, nor do I agree withy our emphasis on the millennial kingdom, for reasons I have also expressed. Sorry for the disagreement, but it is not because your case has been disregarded.

          • Evan says:

            Fair enough – then disbelieve it is. Since you don’t believe in my view regarding aionios you are more than welcome to debate and provide other scripture since I replied to the ones you have already cited.

            • paulfpavao says:

              You did reply to a couple of things I wrote. You did not reply to 1 John 1:1-4, which equates eternal life with Jesus. I did not bring up 1 John 5:20, which does the same.

              The replies you gave I was not satisfied with. For example:

              Luke 18:30: Pointing out that the word kairo is used at the start of this verse does not in any way reduce its impact. There is still only one age to come.

              Romans 16:25 was given by you because it says ages past. You conclude that my statement that there is this age and the next age as the only ages is wrong. This does not answer anything. I will grant (and would have even before you brought up the verse) that there were past ages plural. Now, however, we are in this age, and there is a next age. This answer does not really address my argument.

              As to arguing that Revelation 20 is literal, this does not address my point any better than the ones I just mentioned. As I said, a lot of people disagree that the millennium is literal, and you are still pulling a verse from Revelation 20 to add an unnecessary, unusual, and novel interpretation to things Paul wrote in his letters and the Gospel writers use in their Gospels.

              Evan, I believe we have had friendly interactions in the past, but this particular idea of yours does not hold water. On top of that, it doesn’t really address a problem. There are no verses crying out to be corrected because our interpretations do them violence. Reading zoe aionios as eternal life is just not a problem anywhere. It causes no difficult verses and no strange interpretations. You are solving a problem that does not exist.

              As such, it would take an large amount of undeniable evidence for me to want to even consider the issue. This argument of yours creates problems rather than resolving them.

              I hope you can avoid taking this personally. I do not mean to attack you in any way, but the idea you are presenting … it needs to be dropped.

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