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the words mystery and ages, see Eph. 1: 9. Tit. 1: 2. notes. Though the salvation of mankind by faith, was promised in the covenant with Abraham, and spoken of by the prophets, it was not understood by the Jews, see Eph. 3: 5. note, and therefore it is here called a mystery, or thing kept secret, in allusion to the heathen mysteries."
I shall also quote the following from Pierce, on this passage, as it sheds general light on this whole subject. The mystery which hath been hid from ages and generations. The expression of το μυσήριον το αποκεκρυμμένον απο των αιώνων, is rendered by our translators, Eph. 3: 9. the mystery hid from the beginning of the world; but it is manifest from this place, where it is joined with aπ Twv Yevev, that it is rightly translated here hid from ages, and that it ought to have been so translated in that place also. The same thing is meant when he speaks of the revelation of the mystery, χρονοις αιωνίοις σεσιγημενε, which we translate, kept secret since the world began; but Mr. Locke better renders it in the secular times, that is, the times under the law. I shall here transcribe his remark upon the words, Rom. 16: 25. because it gives much light to this matter. Why the times, under the law were called Kovos diarios, we may find a reason in their jubilees, which were awves, sæcula, or ages, by which all the time under the law was measured: and so xeovwv OIWVIWV is used, 2 Tim. 1: 9. Tit. 1: 2. And so alwves are put for the times of the law, or the jubilees, Luke 1: 70. Acts 3: 21. 1 Cor. 2: 7. 10: 2. Eph. 3: 9. Col. 1: 26. Heb. 9: 26. And so God is called the rock, Diph w alwvwy, of ages, Isai. 26: 4. in the same sense that he is called the rock of Israel, Isai. 30: 29. i.e. the strength and support of the Jewish state; for it is of the Jews the prophet here speaks. So Exod. 21: 6. Eis Twy awva, signifies not as we translate it, forever, but to the jubilee; which will appear if we
compare Lev. 25: 39-41. and Exod. 21:2. Now that the times of the law were the times spoken of here by St. Paul, seems plain from that which he declares to have continued a mystery during all those times, viz. God's purpose of taking in the Gentiles to be his people under the Messiah; for this could not be said to be a mystery at any other time, but during the time that the Jews were the peculiar people of God, separated to him from among the nations of the earth. Before that time there was no such name or notion of distinction, as Gentiles. Before the days of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the calling of the Israelites to be God's peculiar people, was as much a mystery, as the calling of others out of other nations was a mystery afterwards. All that St. Paul insists on here, and in all the places where he mentions this mystery, is to show, that though God had declared this his purpose to the Jews, by the predictions of his prophets amongst them, yet it lay concealed from their knowledge, it was a mystery to them, they understood no such thing; there was not any where the least suspicion or thought of it, till the Messiah being come, it was openly declared by St. Paul to the Jews, and Gentiles, and made out by the writings of the prophets, which were now understood." "
Aion is rendered course, Ephes. 2: 2. "Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world." Macknight says, "Chandler observes that the Greek word aion, and the Latin avum, which corresponds to it, signify the life of man; and by an easy figure, the manner of a man's living." That olim, in the Old Testament, often signifies a man's lifetime, has been seen above.
The Greek phrase eis ton aiona, occurs in the following texts, and is rendered in our version never.
John 4: 14. "Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst." And 8: 51.
"If a man keep my saying he shall never see death." See also verse 52. In chap. 10: 28. it is said, "they shall never perish," referring to Christ's sheep. And 11: 26. "whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die." And 13: 8. Peter said to Jesus-" thou shalt never wash my feet." Dr. Campbell in his note on John 9: 32. says, concerning the phrases ek tou aionos, and eis ton aiona," but in popular language, the former often denotes no more than from the beginning of the world, or even from very early times; and eis ton aiona does not always mean to eternity, in the strict sense of the word. That the use is nearly the same in the Pagan writers, has been very well shown by Wetstein."
The same Greek phrase eis ton aiona, is rendered in the following passages forever. In Matth. 21: 19. it is said of the fig-tree, "let no fruit grow on thee henceforward forever." See also Mark 11: 14. In Luke 1: 55. it is said, "as he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed forever." And John 6: 51. "If any man eat of this bread he shall live forever." See also verse 58. And 8: 35. “And the servant abideth not in the house forever; but the son abideth ever." John 12:34. We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth forever." And 14: 16. "He shall give you another comforter, that he may abide with you forever." Heb. 5: 6. "Thou art a priest forever, after the order of Melchisedec." And 6: 20. and 7: 17, 21. where the same is repeated. Heb. 7:24. "But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangable priesthood." Verse 28. "but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the son who is consecrated for evermore." 1 Peter 1:23. "Being born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever." And 1 John 2: 17. "But he that doeth the will of God
abideth forever." And 2 John 2. "for the truth's sake which dwelleth in us, and shall be with us forever." Phile. 15.
On all these texts, where this phrase, eis ton aiona, occurs, we would remark, that it is used in a similar sense as olim in the Old Testament, where it is said of certain cities, that they should be an heap, or a desolation forever; such as the example of the fig-tree, which passages Dr. Campbell renders-" let no fruit grow on thee henceforward." It is also used to express the period of a man's life-time, as in the Old Testament. The servant or slave may be sold, or the year of release may set him free, but the son abideth forever, or all his days. And whoever compares John 14: 16. with verses 1-5, and with verse 12. may see reason to think that our Lord's meaning was the comforter I shall send you will not, like me, leave you before you die, but will continue to be with you all your days. Was not this the way Christ was to fulfil his promise, Matth. 28: 20. in being with his disciples unto the end of the world or age? See on this text below. Besides, when Paul said he would eat no flesh while the world standeth, did he mean any thing more than all the days of his life? In this sense Macknight understands him. I would merely suggest it for consideration, if his meaning is not, I will eat no flesh while the age or Jewish dispensation endures, which was then vanishing away. I should think the above Greek phrase, is also used as in the Old Testament, to signify throughout your generations. Such seems to be its sense in Luke 1: 55. and also where the word of the Lord is said to endure forever, 1 Peter 1: 23, 25. and comp. Heb. 9:14. But to see what is the meaning of the phrase, see the Seventy's version, from whence it is taken. Eis ton aiona is the rendering there of olim in a vast number of instances, which it would be tedious to
See the quotation from Pierce, on Col.
The phrase, eis tous aionas, is used in the following places, and is rendered forever and for evermore. Matth. 6 13. "for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever." Luke 1: 33. "And he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever." Rom. 1:25. "and served the creature more than the creator, who is blessed forever." Rom. 9: 5. "who is over all God blessed forever." And 11: 36. "to whom be glory forever." And 16: 27. "to God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever." 2 Cor. 11: 31. "the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ who is blessed for evermore." Heb. 13: 8. "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever." 1 Tim. 6: 16.
In the following texts, the phrase eis tous aionas occurs, and is joined with ton aionon, and rendered "forever and ever," in ascriptions of praise to God and to Christ. Thus for example, Gal. 1: 5. “to whom be glory forever and ever." The same for substance is repeated in the following texts, which it is unnecessary to quote. Philip. 4: 20. 2 Tim. 4: 18. Heb. 13: 21. 1 Peter 4: 11. and 5: 11. Rev. 1: 6, 18. 4: 9, 10. 5: 13, 14. 7: 12. 10: 6.11: 15. 14: 11. 15: 7. 19: 3. 20: 10. and 22: 5. It occurs also in 1 Tim. 1: 17. in an ascription of praise to God, which I shall quote, as it requires some notice. "Now unto the king eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory forever and ever." When God is here said to be the king eternal, most people think the apostle meant to describe the endless duration of the divine being. But on this text let us hear Macknight, who thus writes. "Now to the king eternal. Perhaps, To de Baioiλei twv αiwvwv, may be better translated, to the king of the ages, namely, the age before the law, the age under the law, and the age under the