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it is used by other sacred writers, our means of ascertaining its true sense are increased.
Much misunderstanding of the Scriptures has arisen from our overlooking what some may think but trifling circumstances. For example, some seldom take into view the writer, the time when he wrote, or the circumstances in which he was placed. They also overlook the persons to whom he addressed himself, the circumstances in which they were placed, and the subject on which he discourses to them. The scope and drift of his discourse from the context, is seldom considered. Hence words, phrases, and verses are quoted, to prove what was never thought of by him. His words are quoted, and a sense affixed to them agreeable to the religious creeds of the persons, which, if the context was but consulted, would show them their mistake, and that, though unintentionally, they were perverting the Scriptures. We also may err, and fail in what we propose, but we shall at least make the attempt. Infallibility is no article of our creed; we would only do all in our power to produce a correct understanding of the Scriptures, without which, endless division and debate must exist among Christians.
ALL THE PLACES NOTICED WHERE AION AND AIONIOS ARE RENDERED AGES, COURSE, NEVER, FOREVER, EVERMORE, ETERNAL, EVERLASTING; BUT WHICH HAVE NO RELATION
THE word aion is rendered ages, in the common version, in the following places.
Eph. 2. 7. "That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace." It would have been absurd to have rendered it here, "that in the eternities to come." Nor would it have sounded well to have said, "that in the worlds to come," for the question might have been asked, Pray how many eternities or worlds are to come? Our translators, then, not only own that this word signifies age, but were compelled to render it so in this passage.
Col. i. 26. "Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations." The remarks on the last text equally apply here. It would not have done to have said, "even the mystery which hath been hid from generations," for the term generations is used immediately after in the passage. Macknight on this text, says, "The mystery which was kept hid from the ages and from the generations.' In the parallel passage, Eph. 3: 5. it is, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it is now revealed to his holy apostles.' So likewise Rom. 16:25. the mystery which hath been kept secret,' povols aloviors, in the times of the ages, or during the Mosaic dispensation. For the meaning of
the words mystery and ages, see Eph. 1: 9. Tit. 1: 2. notes. Though the salvation of mankind by faith, was promised in the covenant with Abraham, and spoken of by the prophets, it was not understood by the Jews, see Eph. 3: 5. note, and therefore it is here called a mystery, or thing kept secret, in allusion to the heathen mysteries."
I shall also quote the following from Pierce, on this passage, as it sheds general light on this whole subject. The mystery which hath been hid from ages and generations. The expression of το μυτήριον το αποκεκρυμμένον απο των αιώνων, is rendered by our translators, Eph. 3: 9. the mystery hid from the beginning of the world; but it is manifest from this place, where it is joined with anо Twv yevεwv, that it is rightly translated here hid from ages, and that it ought to have been so translated in that place also. The same thing is meant when he speaks of the revelation of the mystery, χρόνοις αιωνίοις σεσιγημενε. which we translate, kept secret since the world began; but Mr. Locke better renders it in the secular times, that is, the times under the law. I shall here transcribe his remark úpon the words, Rom. 16: 25. because it gives much light to this matter. Why the times, under the law were called xgovor diwvior, we may find a reason in their jubilees, which were alwves, sæcula, or ages, by which all the time under the law was measured: and so govor devic is used. 2 Tim. 1: 9. Tit. 1: 2. And so aves are put for the times of the law, or the jubilees, Luke 1: 70. Acts 3: 21. 1 Cor. 2: 7. 10: 2. Eph. 3: 9. Col. 1: 26. Heb. 9: 26. And so God is called the rock, 05 199 αιώνων, of ages, Isai. 26: 4. in the same sense that he is called the rock of Israel. Isai. 30: 29. i.e. the strength and support of the Jewish state; for it is of the Jews the prophet here speaks. So Exod. 21: 6. ELS TWv alava ignities not as we translate it, forever, but to the jubilee; which will appear if we
compare Lev. 25: 39-41. and Exod. 21:2. Now that the times of the law were the times spoken of here by St. Paul, seems plain from that which he declares to have continued a mystery during all those times, viz. God's purpose of taking in the Gentiles to be his people under the Messiah; for this could not be said to be a mystery at any other time, but during the time that the Jews were the peculiar people of God, separated to him from among the nations of the earth. Before that time there was no such name or notion of distinction, as Gentiles. Before the days of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the calling of the Israelites to be God's peculiar people, was as much a mystery, as the calling of others out of other nations was a mystery afterwards. All that St. Paul insists on here, and in all the places where he mentions this mystery, is to show, that though God had declared this his purpose to the Jews, by the predictions of his prophets amongst them, yet it lay concealed from their knowledge, it was a mystery to them, they understood no such thing; there was not any where the least suspicion or thought of it, till the Messiah being come, it was openly declared by St. Paul to the Jews, and Gentiles, and made out by the writings of the prophets, which were now understood." "
Aion is rendered course, Ephes. 2: 2. "Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world." Macknight says, "Chandler observes that the Greek word aion, and the Latin avum, which corresponds to it, signify the life of man; and by an easy figure, the manner of a man's living." That olim, in the Old Testament, often signifies a man's lifetime, has been seen above.
The Greek phrase eis ton aiona, occurs in the following texts, and is rendered in our version never.
John 4:14. "Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst." And 8: 51.
"If a man keep my saying he shall never see death." See also verse 52. In chap. 10: 28. it is said, "they shall never perish," referring to Christ's sheep. And 11: 26. "whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die." And 13: 8. Peter said to Jesus-"thou shalt never wash my feet." Dr. Campbell in his note on John 9:32. says, concerning the phrases ek tou aionos, and eis ton aiona," but in popular language, the former often denotes no more than from the beginning of the world, or even from very early times; and eis ton aiona does not always mean to eternity, in the strict sense of the word. That the use is nearly the same in the Pagan writers, has been very well shown by Wetstein."
The same Greek phrase eis ton aiona, is rendered in the following passages forever. In Matth. 21:19. it is said of the fig-tree, "let no fruit grow on thee henceforward forever." See also Mark 11: 14. In Luke 1: 55. it is said, "as he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed forever." And John 6: 51. "If any man eat of this bread he shall live forever." See also verse 58. And 8: 35. "And the servant abideth not in the house forever; but the son abideth ever." John 12: 34. "We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth forever." And 14: 16. "He shall give you another comforter, that he may abide with you forever." Heb. 5: 6. "Thou art a priest forever, after the order of Melchisedec." And 6: 20. and 7: 17, 21. where the same is repeated. Heb. 7: 24. "But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangable priesthood." Verse 28."but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the son who is consecrated for evermore." 1 Peter 1:23. "Being born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever." And 1 John 2: 17. "But he that doeth the will of God