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John 17:3 (ESV):

3 And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

Matthew 25:46 (ESV):

46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Does "eternal life" mean the same thing in both contexts?

Does "eternal life" have multiple definitions?

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  • "And this is eternal life" does not refer to this life right now but rather does it believe that to know "the only true God, and Jesus Christ" that's eternallife. Feb 13 at 8:39
  • All Bible students know that in the Scripture and Jesus speaks: "eternal life" always means the same, not different, and has no multiple definitions. In John 17:3, Jesus - the way, the truth, and the life - defines it in terms of relationship with God in Jesus; Matt 25:46, in terms of Eschatological and ultimate destination. I might suggest rephrasing with a better choice of words than "different meanings" and "multiple definitions" as they connote negative ideas on the integrity of the Scripture.
    – Sam
    Feb 21 at 9:27

1 Answer 1

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The term "eternal life" has a consistent meaning of being alive forever with Jesus.

For the difference in eternal life by faith and the reality when Jesus returns, see my answer to this question: When does eternal life begin? When we believe in the Son (1 John 5:11-12, John 3:36, 5:24) or on Judgement Day (Matthew 25:31-46)?

The two verses quoted by the OP are another illustration of the same "now by faith" and the "not yet in the future reality":

  • John 17:3 - And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. [This is the now by faith - people who know God and Jesus by faith have eternal life already, John 5:24.]
  • Matt 25:46 - And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” [This is when faith will meet reality and we get our heavenly bodies at the resurrection according to 1 Cor 15:31-49.]
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  • +1 good answer.
    – Perry Webb
    Feb 13 at 23:48
  • +1 One can possess eternal life like a title of ownership now, but not actually take physical possession of it until after dying here on Earth.
    – Perry Webb
    Feb 14 at 23:50

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