Age, Old Age

Additional Material

Source 1

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

As an expression of time.

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).

As a human attribute.

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.”


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.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

We have "age" in the above sense (2 Esdras 3:18; Tobit 14:5; aion) "ages," aion (1 Esdras 4:40 (of Truth) "she is the strength," etc., "of all ages"), genea, the Revised Version (British and American), "generation" (The Wisdom of Solomon 7:27; 1 Macc 2:61); Ecclesiasticus 24:33, eis geneas aionon, "generations of ages"; The Wisdom of Solomon 14:6, "generations’ (geneseos).

Revised Version has "age" for "world" (Heb 6:5); "ages" for "worlds" (the Revised Version, margin Heb 1:2; the American Revised Version, margin; compare 1Ti 1:17) (margin, "unto the ages of the ages"), "ages" for "world" (1Co 10:11; Heb 9:26). the English Revised Version has "all ages" for "the beginning of the world " (Eph 3:9, the American Standard Revised Version "for ages"); "king of the ages" for "king of saints" (Re 15:3, corrected text; margin, many ancient authorities read "nations"; Jer 10:7).

See Everlasting.

Source 2

In New Testament we have presbutes, "aged," "advanced in days" (Titus 2:2; Phm 1:9); presbutis, "aged woman" (Titus 2:3); probebekos en hemerais, advanced in days" (Lu 2:36); geras, "old age" (Lu 1:36).

Revised Version has "old" for "the age of" (1Ch 23:3), "own age" for "sort" (Da 1:10); "aged" for "ancients" (Ps 119:100), for "ancient" (Isa 47:6); for "old" (Heb 8:13); "aged men" for "the ancients" (Job 12:12); for "aged" (Job 12:20), "elders."

Regard for Old Age: (1) Among the Hebrews (and Orientals generally) old age was held in honor, and respect was required for the aged (Le 19:32), "Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honor the face of the old man"; a mark of the low estate of the nation was that "The faces of elders were not honored"; "The elders have ceased from the gate" (La 5:12,14). Compare Job 29:8 (as showing the exceptionally high regard for Job). See also The Wisdom of Solomon 2:10; Ecclesiasticus 8:6.

(2) Old age was greatly desired and its attainment regarded as a Divine blessing (Ge 15:15; Ex 20:12, "that thy days may be long in the land"; Job 5:26; Ps 91:16, "With long life will I satisfy him"; Ps 92:14; compare Isa 65:20; Zec 8:4; 1Sa 2:32).

(3) A Divine assurance is given, "Even to old age I am he, and even to hoar hairs will I carry you" (Isa 46:4); hence it was looked forward to in faith and hope (Ps 71:9,18).

(4) Superior wisdom was believed to belong to the aged (Job 12:20; 15:10; 32:7,9; compare 1Ki 12:8); hence positions of guidance and authority were given to them, as the terms "elders," "presbyters" and (Arabic) "sheik" indicate.

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