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by Dr. John Thomas
The etymology of aijwvn does not express the duration of the time; its continuance is defined by the Mosaic law.
The Hebrew Commonwealth under the Sinaitic constitution was not intended to continue always.
The time of its existence was predetermined of God, but not revealed in the law, or the prophets, but "reserved in his own power".
It is termed aijw;n; and its approaching termination, sunteleiva tou` aijwvno," the end of the time, that is, of the Hebrew Commonwealth, under the Mosaic law.
But, though the precise duration of this great time (1,697 years) was kept secret; the lesser times, or aijwvne," aions, of which it was composed, were very minutely specified as in the case of the Jubilees, so that the whole time of the commonwealth was the aijwvn tw`n aijwvnwn, the aion of the aions, the time of the times, or age of the ages.
Hence, while the Lord Jesus designated the consummation as the end of the time, Paul indicated it as the end of the times, or ages.
That the delivering of the law was the beginning of the aijwvn, or Hebrew world, is obvious from the words of Peter.
Addressing the men of Israel, he said, "God will send Jesus Christ to you; whom the heaven must retain until times (crovnwn) of reconstitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets ajp?
aijw`no," from the age; for Moses truly said to the fathers," etc. In the authorized version ajp?
aijw`no" is rendered "since the world began".
If this be preferred, it is evident that the world referred to was coeval in its beginning with Moses; for he is cited as the first of the holy prophets by whose mouth God spoke of the reconstitution of the Hebrew commonwealth at the appearing of Christ from heaven.
Paul refers to the same epoch, saying, "The fellowship of the mystery hath been hid in God ajpo; tw`n aijwvnwn, from the ages"; in the common version, "from the beginning of the world".
From the beginning of the age, or of the ages, is the correct rendering of the Greek in these texts.
They both refer to the beginning of the commonwealth of Israel in the giving of the law from Sinai.
To speak in the vernacular, God promised eternal life to man before the world began.
Such a statement as this would be incomprehensible to a mere English reader; yet such is the import of the saying, "God, who cannot lie promised eternal life before the world began (pro; crovnwn aijwnivwn); but in due times (cairoi`" ijdivoi") hath manifested his word in the preaching".
To whom did He promise it?
Certainly not to any one before the formation of man.
The world referred to cannot therefore be that founded in the six days; but a constitution of things long subsequent to it.
A literal translation removes all difficulty.
The phrase pro; crovnwn aijwnivwn is, before the aionian times; that is, before the times of the Hebrew commonwealth were arranged, God promised eternal life; and in cairoi`" ijdivoi," his own times, such times, namely, as are particularized in Daniel, He made His word, which had before been a hidden mystery, manifest through the apostolic preaching.
In the parable of the sower, the phrase "the world" is used in different senses, which are not distinguished in the English version.
Jesus says there, "the field is the world".