Eternal does not mean "until it finishes."
aión: a space of time, an age
Original Word: αἰών, ῶνος, ὁ
Part of Speech: Noun, Masculine
Phonetic Spelling: (ahee-ohn')
Short Definition: an age, a cycle of time
Definition: an age, a cycle (of time), especially of the present age as contrasted with the future age, and of one of a series of ages stretching to infinity.
(see also the cognate adjective, 166 /aiṓnios
, "age-long") – properly, an age
, "time-span"), characterized by a specific quality
(type of existence).
The word aionios is an adjective derived from aion, which depending on the context can mean, "an age, a cycle of time or having no ending, i.e. eternal. Below is an example of eternal, i.e. having no ending:
"Then the angel I had seen standing on the sea and on the land lifted up his right hand to heaven. And he swore by Him who lives forever and ever
, who created heaven and everything in it, the earth and everything in it, and the sea and everything in it: “There will be no more delay.
Since the scripture is referring God who lives forever and ever (aion and aion) then the word within this context would not be referring to a cycle of time or an age, because God's existence has no beginning or ending. Therefore, aion in the context is referring to God's eternal state, never ending. That said, consider the following:
"Then they will go away to eternal
punishment, but the righteous to eternal
The adjective "aionios" is used in the above verse translated as "eternal" and that for both the wicked and the righteous. The word then has to have the same meaning for both. Since we know that eternal life for the righteous will be never ending existence in the kingdom of God, then eternal punishment must mean never ending existence in separation from God in the lake of fire. If you say that the word eternal for the wicked is temporary, then it would have to mean the same for the righteous, which we know is not true.
When all of the related scriptures are considered, the only conclusion can be that Both life and death are states of conscious on-going existence:
= On-going conscious existence in the joy of the Lord in the kingdom of God
t = On-going conscious existence in separation from God in the lake of fire
There are words in scriptures regarding this topic that support the idea of on-going conscious existence. Consider the following:
"A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on their forehead or on their hand, they, too, will drink the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. They will be tormented
with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment
will rise for ever and ever
. There will be no rest day or night
for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name.”
1. They will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb.
The information above is pretty much self explanatory. In order for an individual to be torment in the presence of the holy angels and the Lamb, it would require the individual to be existing in order to experience said torment in the burning sulfur.
2. The smoke of their torment will rise up for ever and ever (aion and aion)
Again, one would have to be existing in order for the smoke of their torment to rise up for ever and ever. If one was completely burned up once they were thrown into the lake of fire, nothing corporeal would remain for the smoke of their torment to rise up.
3. There will be no rest day or night
Once again, these words "no rest day or night" support the idea of on-going conscious existence.
You should be very careful in what you are teaching, because as it is, you are denying God's word and calling Him a liar. When scripture says, everlasting fire, eternal punishment, etc., that is exactly what God means. In addition, the words destroy, destroyed, punishment, are translated from "apollumi, apoleia and olethros" none of which are defined as annihilation or extinction. Below is the definition of these three words:
"They will be punished with everlasting destruction
and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might."
olethros: destruction, death
Original Word: ὄλεθρος, ου, ὁ
Part of Speech: Noun, Masculine
Phonetic Spelling: (ol'-eth-ros)
Short Definition: ruin, doom, destruction
Definition: ruin, doom, destruction, death.
"destroy") – properly, ruination
with its full, destructive results
). 3639 /ólethros
("ruination") however does not imply "extinction"
(annihilation). Rather it emphasizes the consequent loss
that goes with the complete "undoing
"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction,
and many enter through it.
apóleia: destruction, loss
Original Word: ἀπώλεια, ας, ἡ
Part of Speech: Noun, Feminine
Phonetic Spelling: (ap-o'-li-a)
Short Definition: destruction, ruin, loss
Definition: destruction, ruin, loss, perishing; eternal ruin.
Cognate: 684 apṓleia
(from 622 /apóllymi
, "cut off
") – destruction
, causing someone (something) to be completely severed
– cut off
what could or should
have been. (Note the force of the prefix, apo
.) See 622
("perdition") does not imply "annihilation"
(see the meaning of the root-verb, 622 /apóllymi
, "cut off") but instead "loss of well
-being" rather than being
(Vine's Expository Dictionary
, 165; cf. Jn 11:50; Ac 5:37; 1 Cor 10:9-10; Jude 11).
If you noticed within both definitions, I have highlighted in dark Red
a characteristic of both olethros and apoleia. The definition states that it does not imply extinction, or annhilation. Since Apollumi is the base word of apoleia, then the definition contains the same meaning. What the words do mean, is the loss of well being, ruination.