by Bro. K.D. Ward
“And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”
Israel was in a low spiritual slump when Jesus came. Matthew 4:16 says,
“The people who sat in darkness saw a great light and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.”
The word rendered “eternal” in John 17:3 is the adjective form of AION, which means a piece of time which may be long or limited in duration. “The length of the AION depends on the subject to which it is attached” (Vincent Word Studies). The adjective form, AIONIOS, carries also the idea of the character and quality of life or circumstances within time.
Jude 7 says that Sodom and Gomorrah suffered the vengeance of AIONIOS [eternal] fire. But those cities are not now on fire. It was an expression to simply demonstrate a certain kind or quality of judgment-fire on them in that age.
However by contrast, Jude 6 tells of the angels who left God are reserved in “everlasting chains” of darkness for judgment. The word “everlasting” in this verse is AIDIOS which does mean eternal or perpetual. In other words, those angels are still continuing in chains of darkness. Context, then, determines the emphasis as to degree or duration.
Thus, in our text in John 17, we realize that Jesus was not merely saying that we merely have an unending existence when we know Him (John 17:3) but that we possess a quality of life as well. The qualitative aspect of AIONIOS is a KEY to the application of a number of verses.
Jesus stated to the Samaritan woman, “the water I shall give… will become in him a fountain of water springing up into AIONIOS everlasting life” (John 4:14). The words “whoever drinks” and “I shall give” are a beautiful witness expressing the opportunity (a quality of) eternal life.” “The gift of God is AIONIOS eternal life” (Romans 6:23).
Every saved, born-from-above person will have a place among the servant nations in the future kingdom, being redeemed with the precious Blood of Jesus (1 Peter 1:18, 19). Other passages could be used applying AIONIOS life to first faith salvation. When Christ sits on the throne of His glory (Matthew 25:31) having conquered Antichrist, He will bring in the Gentiles and judge between the saved and lost.
The unsaved will go into AIONIOS “everlasting (a kind and measure of) punishment” (Matthew 25:46) There is also the AIONIOS fire prepared for the Devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41). The Devil will be cast into the lake of fire and be tormented day and night into the AIONAS — the ages of the AIONION ages (Revelation 20:10).
A number of verses use AIONIOS in the sense of receiving a quality reward. Jesus informed the disciples, His church, “he who reaps receives wages (reward) and gathers fruit unto eternal AIONIOS life” (John 4:36).
They who place the Lord first “for my sake and the gospels” will receive a hundred fold and in the age AION to come AIONIOS life (Mark 10:29, 30).
In 2 Corinthians 4:17 Paul wrote, “Our light affliction which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal AIONIOS weight of glory.” There will be a greater glory for those who endure affliction.
“Those who do not know God…” shall be punished with everlasting AIONIOS destruction (wasting) from the presence of the Lord and the glory of His power” (2 Thessalonians 1:9, 10). Paul also revealed he endured “all things for the elect’s sake, that they may obtain the salvation.. .with eternal AIONIOS glory” (2 Timothy 2:10).
Jesus, “the Word of life,” manifested that was with the Father and was manifested to us.” They saw the kind of life, righteousness, glory and even the power of the AIONIOS life personified by Christ, Who is “the Way, the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6).
The bride city, New Jerusalem, and those select who enter (Revelation 22:14) will share in the glory of God (Revelation 21:10, 11). Those who set their affection (mind) on things above will appear with Him in glory (Colossians 3:1-4).
So, all the saved have a dimension or quality of AIONIOS life as subjects in the coming kingdom, but the exceeding weight of AIONIOS glory is for overcomers who make up the elect bride, for she “…has made herself ready” (Revelation 19:7).