What’s so great about eternity?
For all its importance in Christian thought, the concept of eternity in the Bible is remarkably unclear. The two most important Christian thinkers, Augustine and Aquinas, place God outside of time, in what is called the nunc stans. Nunc stans is the opposite of the way we ordinarily think of eternity as time going on forever. In the nunc stans, you experience all of time in a single moment. Or you would if you were God.
As Augustine put it, we pass through God’s today. The experience would be something like seeing time as though it were space, a plane spread out before you. You might focus on one part of the plane or another, but all time is there to be experienced in a moment. The term is Latin (no surprise). Nunc means now, and stans refers to stand. In the nunc stans, all of time stands before you.
Not in the Bible
Trouble is, that this way of thinking about time is nowhere in the Bible (I’ll confine myself to the New Testament, but the problem is found in the Old Testament as well.). The Greek term aeonios, for which so many translations mistakenly use the word “eternal” is derived from the noun “aeon.” “Aeon” means “age” or “ages.” Thus, the word translated as eternal really refers to an aeon or age, not forever. When Jesus says “I am with you always, to the end of the age (αἰῶνος), he does not mean forever, but until the end of the present age—that is, until the eschaton. Aidios (αιδιος) is the ancient Greek term for eternal, and it is used only once in the Bible in reference to God (Romans 1:20). *