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[Eph 3:21 KJV] 21 Unto him [be] glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

[Eph 3:21 mGNT] αὐτῷ ἡ δόξα ἐν τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ καὶ ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ εἰς πάσας τὰς γενεὰς τοῦ αἰῶνος τῶν αἰώνων ἀμήν

In concept, this may be an allusion to:

[Isa 45:17 KJV] 17 [But] Israel shall be saved in the LORD with an everlasting salvation: ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end.

Isa 45:17 Masoretic: יִשְׂרָאֵל נֹושַׁע בַּיהוָה תְּשׁוּעַת עֹולָמִים לֹא־תֵבֹשׁוּ וְלֹא־תִכָּלְמוּ עַד־עֹולְמֵי עַֽד׃ פ

Isa 45:17 mGNT: Ισραηλ σῴζεται ὑπὸ κυρίου σωτηρίαν αἰώνιον οὐκ αἰσχυνθήσονται οὐδὲ μὴ ἐντραπῶσιν ἕως τοῦ αἰῶνος

Isa 45:17 Brenton LXX: Israel is saved by the Lord with an everlasting salvation: they shall not be ashamed nor confounded for evermore.

However, Paul may be alluding to a more specific reference, though again the wording is pretty different:

[Psa 119:90 NLT] 90 Your faithfulness extends to every generation, as enduring as the earth you created.

WLCלְדֹ֣ר וָ֭דֹר אֱמֽוּנָתֶ֑ךָ כֹּונַ֥נְתָּ אֶ֝֗רֶץ וַֽתַּעֲמֹֽד**׃**

LXX εἰς γενεὰν καὶ γενεὰν ἡ ἀλήθειά σου ἐθεμελίωσας τὴν γῆν καὶ διαμένει

Is he saying that the physical heaven and earth will go on forever or something else?

Possibly related:

[Ecc 1:4 KJV] 4 [One] generation passeth away, and [another] generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.

1:4 דֹּור הֹלֵךְ וְדֹור בָּא וְהָאָרֶץ לְעֹולָם עֹמָֽדֶת׃

1:4 γενεὰ πορεύεται καὶ γενεὰ ἔρχεται καὶ ἡ γῆ εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα ἕστηκεν

[Gen 8:22 KJV] 22 While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.

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  • Both the Greek aeon and the Hebrew olam can mean both age and world. – Lucian Feb 5 '19 at 2:39
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First, there is no significant variation in the underlying Greek here. The TR is the same as NA28, etc.

The phrase, "world without end" is a most unfortunate translation and a quirk of the KJV and its progeny (KJ2000, American KJV).

A good representative translation of the Greek is given by almost all other versions of which the NIV and ESV are typical: "to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."

That is, Paul is simply hoping for eternal praise of Jesus by all peoples in all time. Nothing could be more Christian.

The translation issue here is how to translate, εἰς πάσας τὰς γενεὰς τοῦ αἰῶνος τῶν αἰώνων ἀμήν. YLT renders this (correctly), "to all the generations of the age of the ages. Amen." I have always been mystified how the KJV translators got "world" from the Greek "ainos" (eg, Matt 28:20). But that is another matter.

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  • Does it seem that Paul expects the world to end? Or to continue for endless generations? – Ruminator Feb 5 '19 at 21:44
  • I do not believe he says either. What I believe he says is simple - He is expecting praise from all people in all times. All times must include this life and the next. There is no statement here about how long or short our world will be. – user25930 Feb 5 '19 at 21:54

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