Part 1 of 2
There are many Scriptures in the New Testament concerning the phrase “eternal life” or “everlasting life.” The most well known one is John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
In the Greek, the words which have been translated “eternal” and “everlasting,” relating to life, are the same word. That word is “aionios.” What does this word really mean, and what is its significance to us spiritually? According to the Greek lexicon compiled by Zodhiates, “eternal life” means “the life which is God’s and hence not affected by the limitations of time; not belonging to what is transitory; not only during the time of one’s natural life, but through endless ages.”
Eternal life, therefore, is divine life and is not affected by our physical life or by our physical or spiritual limitations or actions. It is the life of God which has been given to us through His Son, Jesus, as John 5:26 declares: “For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself.” The life of the Father and the Son are both eternal.
John describes eternal life for us further in I John 1:1-2: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us).”
John is declaring that “eternal life” was manifested in the person of Jesus Christ, Himself, and that they were eye witnesses of that life. He further clarifies this thought in I John 5:11: “And this is the record, that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.” In v.12 he makes it clear that there is no other way to have eternal life: “He that hath the Son hath life [eternal]; and he that hath not the Son hath not life.”
Then, in v.13, he sums up the matter in order to remove all doubt: “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life…” This is intended to give present tense, not simply future, assurance for all Christians that the gift of eternal life is ours the moment we believe. It is not something that we must strive to achieve. All we have to do is to believe and receive. And because it is eternal, it will never end.
John also stated previously, in chapter 2:25, that the gift was promised to us by Jesus: “And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.” This promise refers back to the words of Jesus in John 10:27-29: “My sheep hear my voice and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.” In these verses, Jesus promises His sheep (all believers) the gift of eternal life, and states emphatically, “They shall never perish.” He then declares that the reason for this security is not based on the merits of the sheep, but on His power as a Shepherd to protect them. As His sheep, we are not only kept safe in His strong hand, but also in the hand of His Almighty, Omnipotent Father.
Paul reiterates this fact in Col. 3:3 when he states, “…and your life is hid with Christ in God.”
(to be continued)