Like most memes, the one pictured above (which I came across while browsing Facebook a few weeks ago) presents an oversimplified version of reality that is vulnerable to exceptions and counterexamples. But I also think that there is a great deal of truth in the message of the meme. Although most Christians cannot be said to “fear” translation accuracy in a general and unqualified sense, I’ve noticed that their positive stance toward translation accuracy changes as soon as they discover that a more literal and accurate translation threatens to undermine a particular doctrine that they deem important. Their “fear” of translation accuracy is, in other words, directly tied to the threat that a more accurate translation poses to some aspect of their theological system.
Consider the following argument:
1. The duration of time referred to by the Greek words “eis tous aiónas” in Luke 1:33 and “eis tous aiónas tón aiónon” in Rev. 22:5 is the duration of time for which Christ shall be reigning.
2. According to what is revealed in 1 Corinthians 15:24-28, Christ is not going to be reigning for an endless duration of time (his reign is only “until” a certain point, at which time he will give up the kingdom to his God and Father).
3. Thus, the duration of time expressed by the words eis tous aiónas tón aiónon cannot be endless.
Before concluding this article, I want to revisit the verse I quoted in the introduction (and which, if we move backwards in Revelation, is the verse in which the next occurrence of the expression “eis tous aiónas tón aiónón” is found). Here, again, is how Rev. 20:10 reads in the ESV:
The “eons of the eons” referred to in this verse are the very same eons in view in Rev. 22:5 (which are, again, the eons during which Christ and the saints will be reigning). From this it logically follows that the time period during which the three wicked beings who we’re told will be “tormented day and night” in the lake of fire will eventually end. Consider the following argument:
1. The words commonly translated “forever and ever” in Revelation 20:10 refer to the eons during which Christ and his saints will be reigning.
2. The eons during which Christ and his saints will be reigning will eventually end.
3. The time period during which the three wicked beings referred to in Rev. 20:10 will be tormented in the lake of fire will eventually end.
But what will happen after their time of torment in the lake of fire comes to an end? We don’t have to guess or speculate, for Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:25-28:
Note: Editing credit goes to fellow-believer William Fay for the version of the meme appearing in this article.