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Looking for help distinguishing between the two. From what I've gathered, eternal life could mean "time-based", i.e. heaven, and everlasting life means "quality" of life here while on earth, i.e. abundant life, peace, etc.

John 3:16 KJV

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 12:25 KJV

He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.

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  • The KJV is rather inconsistent in the way it translates this phrase from the Greek. Modern versions correct this and render it "eternal life".
    – Dottard
    Sep 4, 2023 at 22:40

3 Answers 3

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There is absolutely no difference in the meaning of “eternal life” and “everlasting life”. The King James Version (1611) translates both phrases from the same Greek phrase, ζωὴν αἰώνιον, even within a span of two verses.

John 3:15–3:16, Authorized Version, ©1611 John 3:15–3:16, King James Version, 1611

John 3:15–3:16, Textus Receptus, 1551 Textus Receptus, 1551

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The phrase in both John 3:16 and 12:25 is identical in both cases: ζωὴν αἰώνιον = "life eternal". Most English versions will render this as "eternal life", or, "everlasting life" or similar. However, the Greek phrase is the same. This occurs regularly in the NT:

  • Matt 25:46 - And these will go away into eternal punishment; but the righteous into eternal life."
  • John 3:36 - The one believing in the Son has eternal life, but the one not obeying the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."
  • John 4:36 - The one reaping receives a reward and gathers fruit unto eternal life, so that the one sowing and the one reaping may rejoice together.
  • John 6:54 - The one believing in the Son has eternal life, but the one not obeying the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."
  • John 10:28 - And I give them eternal life, and never shall they perish to the age, and never will anyone seize them out of My hand.
  • John 17:2 - As You gave Him authority over all flesh, so that all whom You have given Him, He may give to them eternal life.
  • John 17:3 - The one believing in the Son has eternal life, but the one not obeying the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."
  • 1 Tim 6:12 - Fight the good fight of the faith. Lay hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and also did confess the good confession before many witnesses.
  • 1 John 1:2 - and the life was made manifest, and we have seen and bear witness, and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was revealed to us
  • 1 John 2:25 - And this is the promise that He promised us: eternal life.
  • 1 John 5:11, 12 - And this is that testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

This is far from an exhaustive list. That some versions translate this Greek phrase as "everlasting life" does not alter the fact that the Greek phrase remains the same.

Now, there is a distinction in meaning between the two Greek words translated "life", viz, "zoe" and "bios". However, in the phrase "eternal life", the noun is always "zoe" (ζωή).

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  • Thank you! @Dottard. So anywhere I see Everlasting or Eternal, it means the same thing? Sep 4, 2023 at 22:44
  • @AnointedDread - no that is not what I said. I meant that everywhere you see "eternal life" or "everlasting life" it means the same thing. "eternal" sometimes means slightly different things when applied to other nouns, but that is another question.
    – Dottard
    Sep 4, 2023 at 22:46
  • Thank you @Dottard Sep 5, 2023 at 23:09
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A simple examination of the word, "eternal", and the words "forever and ever" will reveal their original Greek roots and their meanings. "Eternal" is an unfortunate mistranslation from the Greek word aionios which means "of the ages" or "age abiding". It is rightly translated this way in a few translations, such as Rotherhams's , emphasized Bible, the Concordant New Testament, and Young's literal translation. The origin of these words can also be confirmed, using a Strong's or Youngs Literal translation, Vines dictionary, or by any number of other studies that deal with the Greek language. Darrell Scott.

Weymouth New Testament

For so greatly did God love the world that He gave His only Son, that every one who trusts in Him may not perish but may have the Life of Ages. John 3:16

Young's Literal Translation

for God did so love the world, that His Son -- the only begotten -- He gave, that every one who is believing in him may not perish, but may have life age-during. John 3:16

Weymouth New Testament

He who holds his life dear, is destroying it; and he who makes his life of no account in this world shall keep it to the Life of the Ages. John, 12:25

Young's Literal Translation

he who is loving his life shall lose it, and he who is hating his life in this world -- to life age-during shall keep it; John 12:25

When the same Greek word is translated, eternal in one place, and never in another, then world in another, we lose the content of God's message to us. This total inconsistency and proper translation, has caused God's purpose for the ages to be obscured. Many Christians are shocked when they first find out about the inconsistencies of translations. Darrell Scott

The definition of eternal life has no beginning and no end .

Jesus conquered death, and gives life out of death, Never, to die again. That is the life we receive from Him.

So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 1 corinthians 15:54

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  • 'unfortunate mistranslation' indeed, very politely expressed. +1
    – Steve
    Sep 8, 2023 at 3:00

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