A Study Of The Word "Eternal"

This section will deal with the word "eternal". This comes from the Hebrew word "Owlam(5769)". This word parallels the word "everlasting" and "forever". It is used at least 440 times in Hebrew scripture. The greek word is "Alonlos (166)" which seems to indicate not only a present future, but a continued existence after life is over.
Here are the only two places in the Old Testament where this word is translated "eternal"

Deuteronomy 33:27 (KJV)
The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them.
Of course, everyone knew that God was forever. God had been from everlasting and will last forever. The earth was also considered as being eternal, because it had been there throughout their generations. The only thing that was not eternal was their existence. They knew that all men die. (Heb 9:27) In Old Testament times, they did not realize that their souls would continue forever. That fact would remain a mystery until the gospel was to be preached in the New Testament.

Isaiah 60:15 (KJV)
Whereas thou hast been forsaken and hated, so that no man went through thee, I will make thee an eternal excellency, a joy of many generations.
Anything done for God, it was hoped, would be remembered by God for as long as He existed (which was forever).

Now we get into the New Testament. Notice, as you read these passages, the association with the surrounding words. Not only is God eternal, but life, death, punishment, and other things are eternal as well. Once the gospel is preached, man will realize that they have an immortal soul which will not perish because of death. As man realizes the eternal nature of a soul, the incentive to be diligent becomes very important. When man forgets about his soul, then he is not mindful of the things of God.
We will notice in the gospel accounts several who request information on how to obtain eternal life. We must keep in mind that their concept of eternal life was limited to the physical realm. They did not yet comprehend that Jesus was speaking in spiritual terms. A reading of the book "The Life And Times Of Jesus" will bear this fact out. Let us now, notice the gospel passages that use the word "eternal".

Matthew 19:16 (KJV)
And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?

Matthew 25:46 (KJV)
And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

Mark 3:29 (KJV)
But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation:

Mark 10:17 (KJV)
And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?

Mark 10:30 (KJV)
But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.

Luke 10:25 (KJV)
And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?

Luke 18:18 (KJV)
And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?

John 3:15 (KJV)
That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

John 4:36 (KJV)
And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.

John 5:39 (KJV)
Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

John 6:54 (KJV)
Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

John 6:68 (KJV)
Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.

John 10:28 (KJV)
And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

John 12:25 (KJV)
He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.

John 17:2 (KJV)
As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.

John 17:3 (KJV)
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
As you read the passages above, you will notice a sort of transformation from a physical existence into a spiritual existence. Though eternal life was taught, it was not fully comprehended. This was a part of the great mystery. This is part of the mystery that will be made known through the Church.
Now as we get into the gospel age, we will notice that the word takes upon itself a completely spiritual meaning.

Acts 13:48 (KJV)
And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.
Though it is the same language used by our Lord, the hearers had concepts within their mind on what this really meant. Now that the church has come into existence, and is built upon the foundation of Christ and the apostles doctrine, we will see more and more that an understanding of forever existence is realized.

Romans 1:20 (KJV)
For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

Romans 2:7 (KJV)
To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:
Here, we see that eternal life is equated with immortality. This is the first time that this concept has been revealed in scripture.

Romans 5:21 (KJV)
That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
This teaches that there are certain requirements to receive this eternal life. Of course all souls will continue eternally. Most of the time in New Testament scripture, we see that eternal life is found in relation to the faithful of God who will be allowed entrance into heaven. Usually eternal death, separation, or punishment are reserved for those who are unfaithful to God. This passage teaches that through righteousness (continued), one can have heaven.

Romans 6:23 (KJV)
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
We cannot have eternal life without Jesus Christ. Jesus taught that He was the door, and that nobody could approach the Father except through Him. Notice also how this is associated with the grace of God. Offered to us as in the form of a gift.

2 Corinthians 4:17 (KJV)
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;
The glory that belongs to Jesus now, will be available to us when we get to heaven.

2 Corinthians 4:18 (KJV)
While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Of course, Paul is talking about God and salvation. He surely is not talking about peoples, sights, and events in other parts of the world.

2 Corinthians 5:1 (KJV)
For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
Paul is discussing the everlasting soul within each person.

Ephesians 3:11 (KJV)
According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:
Paul just described the mystery of God and how it no longer is a mystery, because these hidden things were revealed through the church. Take time to read Eph. 3:1-11. Also we notice, that God had this plan before time began. God has always had a plan for the redemption of mankind.

1 Timothy 1:17 (KJV)
Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
A description of God is presented here.

1 Timothy 6:12 (KJV)
Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.
Eternal life is within our grasp. We can acquire it. It takes a lifetime to accomplish. It is not easy, but it is simple. Each individual is responsible for their own salvation and where they will end up in eternity.

1 Timothy 6:19 (KJV)
Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.
Used in the same sense as in the previous verse.

2 Timothy 2:10 (KJV)
Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
Our glory will be the salvation that can only come through Christ.

Titus 1:2 (KJV)
In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;
Yes, God had it all arranged before He even said "Let there be light".

Titus 3:7 (KJV)
That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Part of our study on "salvation" showed that hope was a major part in the concept of salvation. Look especially to the prophets and New Testament use of "salvation".

Hebrews 5:9 (KJV)
And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;
Here the words are associated together.

Hebrews 6:2 (KJV)
Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.
Once we die, our judgement is sealed. And whatever judgement we receive, it will be forever. There is nothing anyone or anything can do to change one's status after death. That is why it is so important in this life to be right with God and to be prepared for death.

Hebrews 9:12 (KJV)
Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.
God's redemption through His Son, will last forever providing we remain faithful.

Hebrews 9:14 (KJV)
How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
Christ is just as eternal as God and the Holy Spirit, because the Three are One.

Hebrews 9:15 (KJV)
And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.

1 Peter 5:10 (KJV)
But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.

1 John 1:2 (KJV)
(For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)

1 John 2:25 (KJV)
And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.

1 John 3:15 (KJV)
Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.
This passage teaches that we may be in posession of eternal life in this life, yet unless we remain faithful, we can lose that eternal life.

1 John 5:11 (KJV)
And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
The scriptures emphasize that life eternal is only through Jesus Christ.

1 John 5:13 (KJV)
These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

1 John 5:20 (KJV)
And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.

Jude 1:7 (KJV)
Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

Jude 1:21 (KJV)
Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

Return to the Bible Definitions page

Return to Salvation index page

Home / Bible studies / Bible Survey / Special Studies / General Articles / Non-Bible Articles / Sermons / Sermon Outlines / Links / Questions and Answers / What Saith The Scriptures /Daily Devotional / Correspondence Courses / What is the Church of Christ / Book: Christian Growth / Website Policy / E-mail / About Me /