2. The Gr. adjective aionios is derived from the noun aiōn, and bears the basic meaning, in consequence, of “belonging to time in its duration,” i.e., constant, abiding, eternal (Biblio-Theological Lexicon of עוֹלָם, H6409.Greek, Cremer, pp. 78, 79; also s.v. aiōn, pp. 74-79). It was found in this meaning in classical Gr.: e.g., Plato, Rep. 2:363D, “the fairest reward of virtue being, in their estimation, an everlasting carousal.” Biblical and ecclesiastical Gr. used the word commonly, the LXX, for example, as the standard tr. of the Heb.
The frequency of its use in Johannine contexts is notable. The significance mingles future and present, for “eternal life” in Christian belief is not only a life of endless duration, but a quality of life in which the possessor shares by faith in God’s eternal being.
In his careful essay, More New Testament Words (pp. 24-32), William Barclay examines the word aionios in classical and NT contexts, with full analysis of the meaning and its spiritual applications. Eternal life, as he points out in conclusion, were it a mere duration, could become the burden which Tithonus, in the deeply meaningful Gr. myth, found it to be. “Life is only of value when it is nothing less than the life of God—and that is the meaning of eternal life.” It necessarily follows that it has no termination.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
(`olam; aionios, from aion):
The word "eternal" is of very varying import, both in the Scriptures and out of them.
In the, the Hebrew word `olam is used for "eternity," sometimes in the sense of unlimited duration, sometimes in the sense of a cycle or an age, and sometimes, in later Hebrew, in the signification of world. The Hebrew `olam has, for its proper equivalent, aion, as signifying either time of particular duration, or the unending duration of time in general. Only, the Hebrew term primarily signified unlimited time, and only in a secondary sense represented a definite or specific period. Both the Hebrew and the Greek terms signify the world itself, as it moves in time.
2. Aion, Aionios:
In the New Testament, aion and aionios are often used with the meaning "eternal," in the predominant sense of futurity. The word aion primarily signifies time, in the sense of age or generation; it also comes to denote all that exists under time- conditions; and, finally, superimposed upon the temporal is an ethical use, relative to the world’s course. Thus aion may be said to mean the subtle informing spirit of the world or cosmos--the totality of things. By Plato, in his Timaeus, aion was used of the eternal Being, whose counterpart, in the sense-world, is Time. To Aristotle, in speaking of the world, aion is the ultimate principle which, in itself, sums up all existence.. In the New Testament, aion is found combined with prepositions in nearly three score and ten instances, where the idea of unlimited duration appears to be meant. This is the usual method of expressing eternity in the Septuagint also. The aionios of
4. Enlargement of Idea:
In the use of aion and aionios there is evidenced a certain enlarging or advancing import till they come so to express the high and complex fact of the Divine life in man. In Greek, aiones signifies ages, or periods or dispensations. The aiones of
Our Lord decisively set the element of time in abeyance, and took His stand upon the fact and quality of life--life endless by its own nature. Of that eternal life He is Himself the guarantee--"Because I live, ye shall live also" (