Age, Aged, Old Age

See also Age, Old Age

AGE, AGED, OLD AGE, (עַ֑ד, עﯴלָם, H6409, αἰών, G172, meaning: life, period of life, age, eon).

When the quality of endlessness or eternity is involved, the intensive pl. is used. Everlastingness is, of course, an attribute of Deity. God’s kingdom “is an everlasting kingdom” (Ps 145:13), and He brings in “everlasting righteousness” (Dan 9:24). Christ is the “King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God” to whom “be honor and glory for ever and ever” (1 Tim 1:17), and as the writer to the Hebrews states, He “is the same yesterday and today and for ever” (Heb 13:8).

In keeping with Oriental custom generally, old age is to be respected and honored. This reverence is germane to the religious life as an expression of the fear of the Lord (Lev 19:32). Gray hair is to be deemed a mark of honor, not a token of debility (Prov 20:29). The warning is issued that failure to honor the elderly will surely bring evil upon the nation (Isa 3:5; Lam 5:12). The inhumanity and cruelty that marked the Chaldeans is shown in part at least in their lack of respect for the elderly (2 Chron 36:17). It is not that old age, as such, warrants honor and reverence. It must be coupled with integrity and a godly life, and the writer of the proverbs attaches a condition to the effect that “A hoary head is a crown of glory; if it is gained in a righteous life” (Prov 16:31).

It is generally assumed that experience is a valuable teacher and that age brings along with it wisdom and discernment (Job 12:20; 15:10; 32:7). The elderly are regarded as depositaries of knowledge (Job 15:10) and custodians of the tradition. Moses, in his farewell, urges Israel to consult with the fathers and elders (Deut 32:7). Rehoboam made a fatal error when he spurned the counsel of the elderly. Positions of leadership and responsibility were usually entrusted to men of age and experience. Moses sought counsel of Jethro and appointed seventy elders to furnish him with advice. In the NT Church the rulership was vested in presbyters who by virtue of their age were called “elders.”

Bibliography O. Cullmann (tr. F. V. Filson), Christ and Time (1950), 38-49; J. O. Buswell, Sr., Systematic Theology (1952) Vol. I, 42-47; J. D. Douglas, “Age, Old Age,” NBD (1962), 18, 19; M. H. Cressey, “Time,” NBD (1962), 1277, 1278; S. H. Blank, “Age,” IDB, I (1962), 54, 55; H. Sasse, “Age,” TDNT, I (1964), 197-208.