Sep 30

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In our study of the words, “The world and the earth,” several verses have been studied and this is as much a part of our study as the words themselves. Little good would be gained, if we only studied the words, but no verses or context. In this, what may be the last in this series, we will look at the Greek “aiōn,” which is used and greatly misunderstood in Matthew chapter twenty-eight and verse twenty: “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world (aion).” This word means: “1) for ever, an unbroken age, perpetuity of time, eternity, 2) the worlds, universe, 3) period of time, age” (Thayer). As with many other word, or group of words, the context must determine how the word is used! So, what meaning best fits the context?
We have already learned that the “world” does not equal the word “earth;” therefore, to what “world” does Jesus have in mind? Dismissing the idea of the “world” being equal to the word “earth;” therefore, it appears that Jesus has in mind “the end of the age.” Now, just why is this the best meaning of the word and context? Jesus is talking to his apostles, as verse sixteen identifies them: “Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.” Now believing in Jesus’ resurrection, they finally go to the place Jesus had appointed before his death. He tells them that he has been given “all authority (power) in heaven and earth.” Notice the word “earth” in Jesus’ statement. The Greek word is “gē” and this is the same word used in Peter’s writing about the end of time: “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up” (2 Pet. 3:10). Therefore, when addressing the end of the earth, so long as it exists, Jesus has “authority” over the “earth” and Peter said it would end. But, this is not the Greek word Jesus used in Matthew twenty-four, verse twenty: “… lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world (aion). It is most important that we hit hard on the word “world,” that Jesus did not use the Greek “kosmos,” as he did in Mark 16:15. No, Jesus used the Greek “aion” and it is best understood to mean, age. Therefore, Jesus is promising to be with the apostles, until the end of the age. This does not tell what “age” Jesus is talking about, however.
When Luke recorded the words of Jesus to the apostles in “Acts of the Apostles;” he said: “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (verse 8). Wait, did you see it? Did you see that Jesus used the word “earth,” in this, his commission to the apostles! So, how do we put Matthew twenty-eight, verse twenty and Acts one, verse eight together? If you are a careful reader, you will have noticed that in Matthew’s account, that Jesus said to the apostles, “… lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world (aion).” If we correctly put the two accounts together, Jesus is saying to the apostles, that he would be with them as they “received power, after the Holy Spirit is come upon you: …” Now, let us reach over and bring the words Jesus said to the apostles in John 14:17: “… for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” Jesus is here talking about the “Spirit of truth,” which is the Holy Spirit; and the Holy Spirit would give the apostles “power, after” he came upon them. In the Holy Spirit’s coming upon the apostles, he would guide them “into all truth” (John 16:13). Notice these words: “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me” (John 15:26). Jesus would be with the apostles, as the Holy Spirit testified of Jesus and confirmed their teaching with the “spiritual gifts!”
Here is a most interesting statement made by Jesus to the apostles: “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you” (John 14:18). Did you get it? So, how did Jesus come to them? Jesus came to the apostles in the Holy Spirit as he “testified” of Jesus! One last point just here: “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever” (John 14:16). Once more I ask, did you get it? What is “it?” It is the word, “forever,” which is the Greek “aion” the same word Jesus used in Matthew 28:20! But, there is another word, tied to “aion,” in the text and it is “eis.” With this word, we get, the Holy Spirit “abid(ing)” with the apostles, “unto the end of the age!” This age could not go longer than the apostles! For it is said of them and no one else! The “age” (aion) cannot point to a time that reached beyond the lifetime of the apostles!

Frank R. Williams

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