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Josephus (a near Jewish contemporary with Christ)

Pharisees believed in some sort of ‘everlasting’ punishment while the Sadducees believed in some kind of ‘annihilation’. The word everlasting

used to describe the duration of punishment in the doctrine of the Pharisees stems from the word aidios in Greek and its equivalents and it is not an Aion/Aionon derivation at all.


Our blessed Saviour did not use aidios nor its equivalents to describe  the punishment of the wicked but rather used a much weaker word in Greek namely aionion (e.g. Matthew 25:46 – punishment of wicked men) which clearly proves that our Lord rejected the man-made Pharisees’ doctrine of eternal punishment.


Note that had our Lord intended to teach everlasting punishment to the simple masses, then He would have certainly used the prevalent word for everlasting at that time (whose Greek equivalent is aidios /aidion /aidiois etc) which the Pharisees themselves have used but just differing in the sense that it is directed to a different concept of God.


Since our Lord didn’t use such phraseology (let’s call it the aidios equivalents) to describe the punishment of the wicked, hence it must   

be that the Aion/Aionon derivations found in Holy Scripture must therefore just mean its literal one meaning as age/ages – both of which describes a limited period of time.


The common misconception held by the eternal hell scholars who say that aidios = aion/aionon is absolutely illogical and contradictory to the Greek language. Note that it is not the same as in English where we may say eternal = everlasting. The root words for aidios and aion in Greek do not mean the same at all literally in Greek implying that such an equivalence cannot be produced sensibly. Everyone who studies a little Greek knows that aidios means everlasting while aion means age.

In other words it’s like this (An analogy in reverse – i.e. If our Lord actually spoke in English and the translation is done into Greek):


Imagine (for argument’s sake) that our Lord came to an English speaking group of people (that is that our Lord spoke in English). Suppose further that our Lord wanted to teach everlasting punishment to these English speaking masses. Would He use the phrase ‘everlasting punishment’ or the phrase ‘age-during punishment’ to describe His doctrine of chastisement?


If He used the phrase ‘everlasting punishment’ then the correct literal one translation in Greek language would be the ‘aidios equivalents’. Had the Lord adopted the phrase ‘age-during punishment’, then it is imperative that the correct literal one translation in Greek here would be the Aion/Aionon derivations.


Now, ask yourself the next crucial question:


Would our Lord have used the phrase ‘age-during punishment’ (literally only means a limited in time chastisement in English) which is  then miraculously translated into the Greek language using one of the ‘aidios equivalents’ (implying an ‘everlasting’ duration for these punishments) when translated by our English scholars of today by giving the idioms excuse? I think not. Had the Lord wanted to mean ‘aidios punishments’ He would have resorted to use in English the phrase ‘everlasting punishment’ instead of ‘age-during punishment’.


Can you see the point made here?

The reverse has actually happened here. The punishments are supposed to be translated correctly as being age/ages (in duration) and not forever since it all stems from the root word Aion which means ’age’ only and not from the word ‘aidios’ (which means everlasting).    


Thus it is very clear that the afterlife – punishments in the Bible are limited in time though it may be a very long time simply because our Lord used the’ Aion-Aionon derivations’ to describe the duration of punishments for the wicked (men, angels, devil, false prophet, beast etc…) and not the ‘aidios derivations’.


Here are the proofs in Greek from the surviving writings of Josephus which clearly shows the exact phraseology and doctrine of the three confused sect of the Jews namely the Pharisees (everlasting punishment), Sadducees (annihilation – conditional immortality) and Essenes (immortal punishments – never ceasing punishments) – It is interesting to note that none of these Jewish sects understood Scripture correctly to develop the true doctrine of Christ being Saviour of the World (Christian Universalism – true gospel) as revealed and expounded in the New Testament through the Holy Spirit.


1. Josephus quotes in (Flavius Josephus – The Judean (Jewish) Antiquities Book 18, Niese Section 14) regarding the doctrine of the Pharisees who believed that the wicked are held in an ‘everlasting prison‘ (eirgmon aidion) as follows:


(14). They also believe that souls have an immortal rigor in them, and that under the earth there will be rewards or punishments, according as they have lived virtuously or viciously in this life; and the latter are to be detained in an everlasting prison, but that the former shall have power to revive and live again; (Translation of Rev. WIlliam Whiston)


In Greek: 

(14).ἀθάνατόν τε ἰσχὺν ταῖς ψυχαῖς πίστις αὐτοῖς εἶναι καὶ ὑπὸ χθονὸς δικαιώσεις

τε καὶ τιμὰς οἷς ἀρετῆς  κακίας ἐπιτήδευσις ἐν τῷ βίῳ 

γέγονενκαὶ ταῖς μὲν εἱργμὸν ἀίδιον  προτίθεσθαιταῖς δὲ ῥᾳστώνην

 τοῦ ἀναβιοῦν.


The word translated as ‘everlasting’ is from the Greek word ‘aidion ‘.

This equivalence is stated below:


ἀίδιον (in Greek) = aidion (Transliterated) = everlasting (in English).


2. Josephus quotes in (Flavius Josephus – The Judean (Jewish) Wars Book 2, Chapter 8, Whiston – Section 14 while Niese section 162 &163) regarding the doctrine of the Pharisees who believed that the wicked will be punished with ‘eternal punishment‘ (aidios timoria) as follows:


(162). But then as to the two other orders at first mentioned, the Pharisees are those who are esteemed most skillful in the exact explication of their laws, and introduce the first sect. These ascribe all to fate [or providence], and to God,

(163). and yet allow, that to act what is right, or the contrary, is principally in the power of men, although fate does co-operate in every action. They say that all souls are incorruptible, but that the souls of good men only are removed into other bodies, – but that the souls of bad men are subject to eternal punishment. (Rev. William Whiston)


In Greek:

(162).Δύο δὲ τῶν προτέρων Φαρισαῖοι μὲν οἱ μετὰ ἀκριβείας 

δοκοῦντες ἐξηγεῖσθαι τὰ νόμιμα καὶτὴν πρώτην ἀπάγοντες αἵρεσιν 

εἱμαρμένῃ τε καὶ θεῷ προσάπτουσι πάντα,


(163).καὶ τὸ μὲν πράττειν τὰ δίκαια καὶ μὴ κατὰ τὸ πλεῖστον ἐπὶ τοῖς 

ἀνθρώποις κεῖσθαι,βοηθεῖν δὲ εἰς ἕκαστον καὶ τὴν εἱμαρμένην· ψυχήν τε πᾶσαν μὲν ἄφθαρτον,

μεταβαίνειν δὲ εἰς ἕτερονσῶμα τὴν τῶν

 ἀγαθῶν μόνηντὰς δὲ τῶν φαύλων ἀιδίῳ τιμωρίᾳ κολάζεσθαι.


ἀιδίῳ (in Greek) = aidios (Transliterated) = eternal (in English).

3. Josephus quotes in (Flavius Josephus – The Judean (Jewish) Wars Book 2, Chapter 8, Whiston – Section 11 while Niese section 155) regarding the doctrine of the Essenes who believed that the wicked will be punished with ‘never – ceasing punishment‘ (timoria adialeipton)

as follows:


(155). but that when they are set free from the bonds of the flesh, they then, as released from a long bondage, rejoice and mount upward. And this is like the opinions of the Greeks, that good souls have their habitations beyond the ocean, in a region that is neither oppressed with storms of rain or snow, or with intense heat, but that this place is such as is refreshed by the gentle breathing of a west wind, that is perpetually blowing from the ocean; while they allot to bad souls a dark and tempestuous den, full of never-ceasing punishments.

(Rev. William Whiston)


In Greek: 

 [155] ἐπειδὰν δὲ ἀνεθῶσι τῶν κατὰ σάρκα δεσμῶνοἷα δὴ μακρᾶς

δουλείας ἀπηλλαγμένας τότε χαίρειν καὶ μετεώρους φέρεσθαικαὶ ταῖς μὲν ἀγαθαῖςὁμοδοξοῦντες

παισὶν Ἑλλήνων ἀποφαίνονταιτὴν ὑπὲρ 

ὠκεανὸν δίαιταν ἀποκεῖσθαικαὶ χῶρον οὔτε ὄμβροιςοὔτε νιφετοῖς 

οὔτε καύμασι βαρυνόμενονἀλλ᾽ ὃν ἐξ ὠκεανοῦπραῢς ἀεὶ ζέφυρος

ἐπιπνέων ἀναψύχειταῖς δὲ φαύλαις ζοφώδη καὶ χειμέριον ἀφορίζονται μυχὸν γέμοντα τιμωριῶν ἀδιαλείπτων.


ἀδιαλείπτων =       adialeipton         =   never-ceasing, incessant.

(in Greek)             (Transliterated)           (in English).



4. Josephus quotes in (Flavius Josephus – The Judean (Jewish) Wars Book 2, Chapter 8, Whiston – Section 11 while Niese section 157 & 158) regarding the doctrine of the Essenes who believed that the wicked will suffer ‘immortal punishment‘ (athanaton timorian) after death:


(157). whereby good men are bettered in the conduct of their life by the hope they have of reward after their death; and whereby the vehement inclinations of bad men to vice are restrained, by the fear and expectation they are in, that although they should lie concealed in this life, they should suffer immortal punishment after their death.


(158). These are the Divine doctrines of the Essenes about the soul, which lay an unavoidable bait for such as have once had a taste of their philosophy. (Rev. William Whiston)


In Greek: 

[157] τούς τε γὰρ ἀγαθοὺς γίνεσθαι κατὰ τὸν βίον ἀμείνους

ἐλπίδι τιμῆς καὶ μετὰ τὴν τελευτήντῶν τε κακῶν ἐμποδίζεσθαι τὰς 

ὁρμὰς δέειπροσδοκώντωνεἰ καὶ λάθοιεν ἐν τῷ ζῆνμετὰ τὴν 

διάλυσιν  ἀθάνατον τιμωρίαν ὑφέξειν


[158] ταῦτα μὲν οὖν Ἐσσηνοὶ περὶ ψυχῆς θεολογοῦσιν ἄφυκτον 

δέλεαρ τοῖς ἅπαξ γευσαμένοις τῆς σοφίας αὐτῶν καθιέντες.


ἀθάνατον   =        athanaton         =   immortal, undying.

(in Greek)          (transliterated)              (in English)


5. Regarding the doctrine of the third mainstream sect of the Jews, (namely the Sadducees), it is clearly seen that they held on to some form of ‘conditional immortality’ or ‘annihilation’ as even Scripture records in the Bible as follows:


“For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor an angel, nor a spirit, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all.” (Acts 23:8)


It is therefore interesting to note that history is repeating itself again in the sense that with the same set of Holy Scriptures or the Bible, we find the following equivalent doctrinal trend of the hypocrites:



Jews (OT) Christians (NT)



Annihilation believers

Eternal punishment Pharisees, Essenes

Eternal hell believers


Isn’t it an irony?


In the Old Testament times, the Pharisees and Sadducees were the authority in doctrine who believed in eternal hell and annihilation respectively.


Things haven’t changed much. The same spirit of error still operates.


In the New Testament times, we have the believers split in the current mainstream who also claim to be the authority in doctrine and thus equivalently believe in eternal hell and annihilation respectively.


Far from the claim that only cults don’t believe in eternal hell, it was the cults of old from the Pharisees and Sadducees who believed in eternal hell or annihilation. Can you see which is the cult teaching now?


The one Truth is this: Universal Salvation in Christ Jesus alone.

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