The Berean Expositor
Volume 6 - Page 30 of 151
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pp. 105 - 110
Among the doctrines which come before the student of Scripture in his search into its
teaching regarding human destiny, is that of eternal or everlasting life. In order to avoid
the traditional interpretation, and also to keep out of sight any ideas of our own, we shall
transliterate the word translated "Eternal," and call it aionion throughout this enquiry.
Our present quest is to discover as far as possible all that Scripture says regarding aionion
life, to whom it is given, upon what basis, whether it is exclusively proffered to faith, or
to works, or to both; whether it is a present possession, or a future one; whether it has to
do with the final or a transition state, and anything further that may be learned by a
careful and prayerful study.
The first occurrence of the words aionion life is in Matt. 19: 16, "good Master, what
good thing shall I do that I may have aionion life." It will be observed that "doing good"
is directly associated with "having aionion life." The Lord, it is true, corrects the error
contained in the loose usage of the word "good," but does not correct the idea that good
works, or keeping the commandments, were necessary for the attainment of this life, for
He said:--
"If thou wilt enter the life (the article seems to indicate the life under consideration,
namely, aionion life), KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS."
Reading further, we find the Lord speaking of "being perfect," and of telling the
young man to go and sell all that he had and give to the poor, to follow the Lord, and that
he would have "treasure in heaven." We know how the young man failed. Although he
had "kept from his youth up" all the commandments, yet he did not reach the standard
necessary for "aionion life," or "for treasure in heaven."
One cannot help comparing these two expressions together, and asking whether they
both refer to the same thing. In verses 27-29 Peter asks a question arising out of the
failure of the young man, and is answered, and there again a twofold description is given
of the result of "forsaking all and following." To the disciples the Lord held out the
prospect of sitting upon twelve thrones in the regeneration, and supplements that by a
promise to "every one that hath forsaken . . . . .", that they "shall receive an hundred-fold,
and shall inherit aionion life." Here, in place of "treasure in heaven," is found "sitting on
thrones" and "receiving a hundred-fold." We must also bear in mind that the Lord did
not say that a rich man could not enter into the kingdom of heaven, but that he would
only enter with great difficulty.
It will be observed that the Lord uses the word "inherit" with aionion life. He never
misused words, and it will be our wisdom to keep this idea of an inheritance before us as
we continue our study. Mark and Luke record the incident of the rich young man, and in
their Gospels the word "inherit" is used by the young man himself. Readers must not
think this to be a discrepancy. The young man in all probability spoke Aramaic, and the
Holy Spirit has given us in the translation two Greek words, "To have" and "to inherit,"