Heb 1:2 "but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe." NIV

The Gr. 'aiōnas' is often rendered 'universe' or 'world'. 'aiōnas' is better rendered as 'ages', which casts a meaning befitting the context of a much more recent time frame than one which looks back to the very start.

That Jesus/the Son is 'appointed heir of all things' is diametrically opposed to him being the 'creator' of all things. (certainly, Jesus is responsible for 'creating' some things in this new age of the church etc according to the power and authority the Father has given him)

How do publishers see 'world'(s) or 'universe' as having any contextual or exegetical merit?

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    What exactly are you proposing is biased about this translation? Do you think there is a large anti-"ages" crowd out there just waiting to trick people into not seeing the word "ages"?
    – curiousdannii
    Commented May 3, 2020 at 13:16
  • As others (below) agree, the word 'universe' is not justified - why did they choose it?
    – user48152
    Commented May 3, 2020 at 23:35
  • 4
  • 1
    seeing as the Son didn't make the world, the other Q is based on a false premise - however it did receive one decent answer anyway from Cannabijoy. thx
    – Steve
    Commented Jul 8, 2020 at 21:45

7 Answers 7


Translation of αἰών aion (usually 'age' in English) (Strong 165) in Hebrews 1:2 :

The problem here is that, to the English (speaking) mind, where we expect a 'container' concept in which to contain the concept 'all things' the writer to the Hebrews provides a 'container' which is unexpected.

The writer to the Hebrews uses the concept of 'the ages', that is to say the immense stretches of time which are characterised by certain conditions (for example, the age before the Flood in the days of Noah) as a concept which encompasses all that is contained within it.

In this presentation, the writer provides the concept of time as a 'container' for all that that particular stretch of time contains.

Thayer explains thus :

  1. by metonymy of the container for the contained, οἱ αἰῶνες denotes the worlds, the universe, i. e. the aggregate of things contained in time (on the plural cf. Winers Grammar, 176 (166); Buttmann, 24 (21)): Hebrews 1:2; Hebrews 11:3; and (?) 1 Timothy 1:17; (Revelation 15:3 WH text; cf. Psalm 144:13 (); Tobit 13:6, 10; Sir. 36:22; Philo de plant. Noe § 12 twice;de mundo § 7; Josephus, Antiquities 1, 18, 7; Clement of Rome, 1 Cor. 61, 2 [ET]; 35, 3 [ET] (πατήρ τῶν αἰώνων); 55, 6 [ET] (Θεός τῶν αἰώνων); Apostolic Constitutions 7, 34; see Abbot in Journal Society for Biblical Literature etc. i., p. 106 n.). So αἰών in Wis. 13:9 Wis. 14:6 Wis. 18:4; the same use occurs in the Talmud, Chaldee, Syriac, Arabic; cf. Bleek, Hebraerbr. ii., 1, p. 36ff; Gesenius, Thesaurus ii., p. 1036; (cf. the use of οἱ αἰῶνες in the Fathers, equivalent to the world of mankind, e. g. Ignatius ad Eph. 19, 2 [ET]):

Thayer - Biblehub - οἱ αἰῶνες/the worlds

But as to the translation, 'ages' would appear unusual and 'worlds' has been supplied, for example by the KJV, which is not a huge mistranslation, by any means - the word 'world' has a breadth of meaning ( a 'world' of a difference' ; the 'world' of business communication) and it could be argued that 'ages' and 'worlds' are both suitable renderings.

  • 2
    The traditional 'world' etc. is used to lend weight to the concept of the Son being the creator - which he is not. So by that reasoning, 'world' is completely misleading and quite biased and therefor totally unsuitable.
    – Steve
    Commented Jul 9, 2020 at 7:00
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    I disagree. All things were made by him and without him was not anything made that was made. John 1:3.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jul 9, 2020 at 8:15
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    @user48152 Due to the nature of your response I shall comment no further.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jul 9, 2020 at 9:41

This concept of "universe" is not identical to the modern Western concept. This Greek word "aion" corresponds to the Hebrew and Aramaic "olam". The seventy elders chose to translate Hebrew "olam" into Greek "aion" in the Septuagint. The Septuagint set precedent on how to write Hebrew/Aramaic terms in Greek for the New Testament scribes. (Scripture quotations in the Greek NT generally just defer to the Septuagint translation, for example.)

Passover prayers and other prayers in Hebrew begin with:

Baruch atta Adonai Eloheynu Melech ha'Olam ...

Often translated:

Blessed are you, the LORD our Elohim, King of the universe ...

But olam is also translated as "world" or "age". For example, "olam haba" = "the world to come" (Luke 18:30, Hebrews 2:5, other occurrences).

Whether or not Paul is the author of Hebrews, there is no question that the scribe has a thorough understanding of Torah, and writes to explain to us how Jesus / Yeshua as Messiah is the re-establishment of a separate and distinct priestly order (Hebrew Melchi-Tzedek = 'King of Righteousness') from that of Aaron. It is not at all unreasonable to look for the Hebrew/Aramaic concepts that underlie the Greek terms such as aion.

So rather than comparing Greek "aion" in the Septuagint and Greek New Testament to other uses of the same Greek word, the proper comparison is actually the Hebrew Biblical "olam" in context of this verse to other literary uses of the same word in the Hebrew Tanakh, Aramaic Peshitta and other sources.

  • Excellent. +1. Appreciated.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jul 9, 2020 at 8:44

Original Greek:

ἐπ’ ἐσχάτου τῶν ἡμερῶν τούτων ἐλάλησεν ἡμῖν ἐν Υἱῷ, ὃν ἔθηκεν κληρονόμον πάντων, δι’ οὗ καὶ ἐποίησεν τοὺς αἰῶνας·

αἰῶνας is Genitive Singular form of αἰών. From earlier αἰϝών (aiwṓn), from Proto-Indo-European **h₂eyu*- (“vital force, life, long life, eternity”), whence also ἀεί (aeí, “always”). Cognate with Latin aevum, English aye. In Ancient Greek texts, it can mean:

  • lifetime
  • generation
  • a long period of time, eon, epoch, age
  • the current world
  • eternity

You are correct in stating that most of the meanings the word carried in that era refer to a span of time, though it is possible for it to mean the world. Universe is a bit of a stretch since the Greeks would have used the word κόσμος - cosmos. That's why most English translations will actually use the word "world" or "worlds" (NASB & KJV respectively, for example).

The reason for the choice along "world" as a translation is obviously inspired by the story of Genesis, which does not contain the concept of time being created, but already exisiting before creation ("and on the first day....").

Young's Literal translation actually uses the "span of time" route:

in these last days did speak to us in a Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He did make the ages;

  • 1
    @cod Interesting that God appointed the Son as heir of all things, which is weird if the Son made everything - as 'God the Son' he owned everything already!
    – Steve
    Commented May 21, 2020 at 10:27
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    only if you accept the doctrine of trinity, which was not accepted by all Christians in that time.
    – Codosaur
    Commented May 21, 2020 at 11:19
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    Genesis' first words are 'in the beginning'. Your idea of time existing before creation is not supported by the text of scripture.
    – Nigel J
    Commented May 31, 2020 at 23:16
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    'In the beginning' occurred coincidentally with 'God created'. By creating, God began something. Without anything created, only the eternal Deity exists. Thus : no such thing as time exists, except he creates.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jun 1, 2020 at 14:44
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    @ACME We cannot say 'before God began creating things'. It is revealed 'in the beginning'. That is all we know. 'Before the foundation of the world' is legitimate.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Mar 16 at 4:27

To take Hebrews 1:2 to mean that Jesus is God the Creator would be contradictory to Jesus' plain and unequivocal statement in Matthew 19:4, Young's Literal Translation, And he answering said to them, 'Did ye not read, that He who made them, from the beginning a male and a female made them. Mark 10:6 Young's Literal Translation, but from the beginning of the creation, a male and a female God did make them. Jesus himself credited God with the creation, as do all the Scriptures.

The "universe" in Hebrews 1:2

Rendering of the Greek word ai·onʹ when it refers to the current state of affairs or features that distinguish a certain period of time, epoch, or age. The Bible speaks of “the present system of things,” referring to the prevailing state of affairs in the world in general and the worldly way of life. (2Ti 4:10) By means of the Law covenant, God introduced a system of things that some might call the Israelite or Jewish epoch. By means of his ransom sacrifice, Jesus Christ was used by God to introduce a different system of things, one primarily involving the congregation of anointed Christians. This marked the beginning of a new epoch, characterized by the realities foreshadowed by the Law covenant. When in the plural, this phrase refers to the various systems of things, or prevailing states of affairs, that have existed or will exist.​—Mt 24:3; Mr 4:19; Ro 12:2; 1Co 10:11.

The verse is not saying Jesus is the Creator. Jesus Himself was created/begotten. John 3:16, Revelation 3:14.

Throughout the Scriptures YHWH God is identified as the Creator. He is “the Creator of the heavens, . . . the Former of the earth and the Maker of it.” (Isa 45:18) He is “the Former of the mountains and the Creator of the wind” (Am 4:13) and is “the One who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all the things in them.” (Ac 4:24; 14:15; 17:24) “God . . . created all things.” (Eph 3:9) Jesus Christ recognized God as the One who created humans, making them male and female. (Mt 19:4; Mr 10:6) Hence, YHWH is fittingly and uniquely called “the Creator.”​—Isa 40:28.


Both the NIV and the NLT translate the Greek as "universe."

Both the KJAV and the ESV translate the Greek as "the world."

My ESV cross-references Hebrews 1:2 to John 1:3 which says:

All things were made through him

The ESV also cross-references Hebrews 1:2 to Colossians 1:16 which says:

all things were created through him and for him

The ESV footnote says this:

"All things" includes the whole universe, i.e., everything that exists, that was created.

Going back to the NIV, my Interlinear makes this note after listing the various different meanings of the Greek , which include (but is not restricted to) a period of time of significant character; life; an era; an age:

Hebrews 1:2 = the material universe

Since ALL THINGS includes the whole universe, which includes this world and all life, then I fail to see what the problem is when Hebrews 1:2 is taken in context with other Scriptures that declare "all things were created throug him and for him."

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    And Hebrews 11:3 where "worlds" were "framed" and are referred to as "things which are seen". This makes translation as ages awkward, though I believe Universe to be a poor word choice. Commented May 3, 2020 at 11:56
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    Also Ephesians 3:21 where we have "γενεά (ages), αἰών (world) αἰών (without end)". Commented May 3, 2020 at 12:02
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    Should we be transposing the 'word' for the son? The 'son' didn''t make anything - the word did. Col 1, "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him" Notice ON the earth - this isn't talking about creation aka Genesis
    – user48152
    Commented May 3, 2020 at 23:43
  • @user48152 John 1:14: “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling with us”. John is referring to Jesus. Jesus is the Word according to Holy Scripture. Colossians 1:3 says God is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Verses 15 to 23 are about the supremacy of Christ. You have now introduced another subject, and since this is not a debating forum, you will have to ask a new question. I am not going to be drawn into discussion of a theological subject that moves away from your question.
    – Lesley
    Commented May 4, 2020 at 8:05

The primary error in the NIV (and other translations) stems from rendering αἰῶνας, which is plural as singular. The best literal translation is Youngs:

in these last days did speak to us in a Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He did make the ages (YLT)
ἐπ᾽ ἐσχάτου τῶν ἡμερῶν τούτων ἐλάλησεν ἡμῖν ἐν υἱῷ ὃν ἔθηκεν κληρονόμον πάντων δι᾽ οὗ καὶ ἐποίησεν τοὺς αἰῶνας

However, it is incorrect to say there is no sense of anything described as being created. "Make" is the aorist of ποιέω which is how creation is described:

In the beginning God made the heaven and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)
ἐν ἀρχῇ ἐποίησεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ τὴν γῆν

The work of creation is found even today:

and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (Revelation 1:6)
καὶ ἐποίησεν ἡμᾶς βασιλείαν ἱερεῖς τῷ θεῷ καὶ πατρὶ αὐτοῦ αὐτῷ ἡ δόξα καὶ τὸ κράτος εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων ἀμήν

History as Salvation
Heilsgeschichte is "an interpretation of history emphasizing God's saving acts and viewing Jesus Christ as central in redemption." God's work of bringing salvation can be divided into different ages. For example, the letter to the Hebrews begins by describing two ages:

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets in these last days did speak to us in a Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He did make the ages (1:1-2)

After the age of speaking through the prophets, God spoke through His Son, who was crucified and resurrected. Now He speaks through the Spirit (cf. John 16:13). From this opening, and taking the flood into account, five distinct ages which were made through Jesus Christ are described:

1: From Adam to Noah
2: From Noah to the fathers
3: From the fathers spoken to by the prophets
4: The Son speaks in person
5: The Son speaks through the Spirit

Christ is now the heir of all things, including the manner by which history may be described. This simply adds to His role in creation: not only did Jesus create all things, ages or eras may now be defined by when they took place relative to Christ.


Most or many English translations may use "universe" rather than "multiverse" or "omniverse" because "universe" is much more common a word and because it still strongly conveys the thought of "everything." Translation's a two-way street: not only out from the original language, but also into the second language.

There is a translation I know of called "Concordant," in fact I knew the translator's son, which thought to use only one English word for its counterpart Hebrew or Greek word. That's in effect to attempt to "Hebrew-ize" (or Greek-ize) English. It's absolutely fantastic to learn to read both, and can only help in translation, but it still remains that languages are "their own." My point about the Concordant is that it might be a useful study tool, but the translation is awkward sounding (to me). It's comes across as alien and not the way people commonly speak. Nor does it sound like any "literature."

I'm often in favor of "stretching" the second language a little, to bring in a clear or fresh or important concept from the original: for example the translation "soulish" rather than "natural" for the Greek word "psykikos" (I know I spelled that wrong) in 1 Corinthians 15 near where the word "soul" is quoted from Greek which quotes it from Genesis. Or using transliterations as much as possible, like "economy" for "oikonomia" in its broad sense, in Ephesians and Timothy.

So it can be enjoyable to check out several translations, especially where the translator consistently follows his or her "line" or dialect. Spanish, I heard, could be hard because there are so many dialects and national variations because of all of South America and Mexico as well as the old country. It'd be interesting to see if any current languages use "ages" the way Greek did or does. In English it's just not that common to talk about creating the ages. (Creating "time" is a little more contemporary.) For that reason I think many translate "universe" rather than "ages" or "eons" (Concordant) in Hebrews 1. For consistency, too, the comment above about Hebrews 11:3 is apt.

Lastly, in line with the word "universe" (which I find also surpasses the word "world(s)" because it sounds larger and greater, "unlimited," when compared with "world," in keeping with the high style and tone of Hebrews)--in line with "universe" are the Einstein quotes: "Relativity declares that space and time would disappear with matter." "Time and space and gravitation have no separate existence from matter."

  • What do you think of the idea that before God created the physical realm, He created the angelic realm in the form of dark matter and dark energy?
    – user35953
    Commented Jul 8, 2020 at 15:49
  • Interesting but unnecessary? Aren't dark energy and matter still physical? For certain, though, God created angels, and whatever realm that gave them, before He created earth. Job 38:4-7; Genesis 1:1. And thus necessarily, also before He restored the earth after 1/3 of the angels' rebellion. Genesis 1:2-31.
    – Walter S
    Commented Jul 8, 2020 at 22:31

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