The End of THE WORLD? or the end of THE AGE? Matthew 24:3; 28:20
There are many sites on the internet and Bible critics who tell us the King James Bible is in error for translating Matthew 24:3 as "the end of the WORLD".
One such site that recommends the NKJV says of Matthew 24:3 in the KJB: "I can hear some of you saying, "There, see, the world is going to end." The problem here is the translation of the Greek word aion. Aion does not mean "world" but "age, dispensation, era, or a period of time." We can understand that an age can end and yet the world can still go on. The Bible talks about the end of the age but never the end of the world. Most newer translations of the Bible correct this error in the KJV."
Another Bible Agnostic, who himself does not believe that any Bible in any language either is or ever was the infallible words of God, writes this sophomoric criticism of the way the KJB has translated Matthew 28:20.
He writes: “The KJV translates it as “world”. Most modern translations accurately put this down as “age”. Go back to the Greek, and what is the word there? aion. That is correctly translated as “age”. The proper word for world would have been either oikoumene or kosmos. I’ve just shown you one example where the KJV is provably not the most accurate translation. And if I can do that even once then the KJV is not infallible.”
Well, let’s take a look at the evidence and the history of all those Bible translations done by men who knew a whole lot more about “the Greek” than this modern day, self appointed ”expert" does.
Matthew 24:3 "What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of THE WORLD?"
As is usually the case, the "scholars" don't agree among themselves nor are the modern translations consistent in how they translate the Greek word aion. One can usually find some scholar published somewhere who will tell you what you want to hear, but, as we shall show, they are often completely at odds with other scholars who are just as educated. I place zero trust in any scholar.
The King James Bible is NOT wrong nor in error for translating the Greek phrase found in Matthew 13:39, 40, 49; Matthew 24:3, and 28:20 as "the end of THE WORLD."
Matthew 13:39, 40, 49 - "the harvest is the end of THE WORLD"; "As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of THIS WORLD"
Matthew 13:39-40 - Revised Version 1885, ASV 1901 -
“and the enemy that sowed them is the devil: and the harvest is the end of THE WORLD; and the reapers are angels. 40 As therefore the tares are gathered up and burned with fire; so shall it be in THE END OF THE WORLD."
So also read Wycliffe 1395, Tyndale 1525, Coverdale 1535, the Great Bible 1540, Matthew's bible 1549, the Bishops' bible 1568, the Geneva Bible, New Life Version 1969, The Living Bible 1971, J.B. Phillips N.T. 1972, Worldwide English N.T. 1998, the Modern English Version 2014, New Living Translation 2015. - just to name a few.
The Spanish NIV 1999 -
Nueva Versión Internacional (NVI)
39 y el enemigo que la siembra es el diablo. La cosecha es el fin del MUNDO, y los segadores son los ángeles.
40 »Así como se recoge la mala hierba y se quema en el fuego, ocurrirá también al FIN DEL MUNDO.= THE END OF THE WORLD.
Spanish Reina Valera Actualizada (Updated) 2015!!! -
39 El enemigo que la sembró es el diablo. La siega es EL FIN DEL MUNDO, y los segadores son los ángeles. 40 De manera que como la cizaña es recogida y quemada en el fuego, así será EL FIN DEL MUNDO. = THE END OF THE WORLD.
Mateo 13:39-40 Nueva Traducción Viviente (NTV) 2010
39 El enemigo que sembró la maleza entre el trigo es el diablo. La cosecha es el fin del MUNDO, y los cosechadores son los ángeles.
40 »Tal como se separa la maleza y se quema en el fuego, así será en EL FIN DEL MUNDO." = THE END OF THE WORLD.
French Louis Segond 2007 -
l'ennemi qui l'a semée, c'est le diable; la moisson, c'est la fin du MONDE; les moissonneurs, ce sont les anges. 40 Tout comme on arrache la mauvaise herbe et la jette au feu, on fera de même à la FIN DU MONDE - THE END OF THE WORLD.
The Italian Nuovo Diodati 1991 -
e il nemico che l'ha seminata è il diavolo, mentre la mietitura è la fine del MONDO, e i mietitori sono gli angeli.
40 Come dunque si raccoglie la zizzania e si brucia nel fuoco, cosí avverrà alla FINE DEL MONDO = THE END OF THE WORLD.
The Portuguese Almeida Corrigida 2009 -
O inimigo que o semeou é o diabo; e a ceifa é o fim do MUNOD; e os ceifeiros são os anjos. 40 Assim como o joio é colhido e queimado no fogo, assim será na consumação deste MUNDO = THE END OF THE WORLD.
"So shall it be at the end of THE WORLD: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just."
Not only does the King James Bible translate Matthew 24:3 as "What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the WORLD", and Matthew 28:20 as "lo, I am with you alway, even unto THE END OF THE WORLD." but so also do the following Bible versions both old and modern:
The Anglo Saxon Gospels 990 A.D. - "worlde ge-ændenge.", Wycliffe 1395, Tyndale 1525 "And what signe shalbe of thy comynge and of the ende of THE WORLDE?", Coverdale 1535, the Great Bible 1540, Matthew's Bible 1549, Bishops' Bible 1568, the Douay-Rheims 1582, the Geneva Bible 1599 "thy coming, and of the ende of THE WORLD?", the Beza New Testament 1599, John Wesley's N.T. 1755, the Worsley Version 1770, the Clarke N.T. 1795, the Revised Translation 1815, Webster's 1833 translation, The New Covenant N.T. 1836, The Pickering N.T. 1840, The Longman Version 1841, The Hussey N.T. 1845, Etheridge 1849, Murdoch's 1852 and Lamsa's 1936 translations of the Syriac Peshitta - "of the end of the WORLD", The Hewett N.T. 1850, The Commonly Received Version 1851, the Boothroyd Bible 1853, Sawyer N.T. 1858, The Kenrick N.T. 1862, The Revised N.T. 1862, The American Bible Union N.T. 1865, Noyes Translation 1869, The Alford N.T. 1870, The Davidson N.T. 1876, The Revised English Bible 1877, the Revised Version 1881 "the sign of thy coming, and of the end of THE WORLD?", American Standard Version 1901 -"and of the end of THE WORLD?", The Clarke N.T. 1913, The Moffatt N.T. 1913, the Riverside N.T. 1923, the Douay Version 1950, the Bible in Basic English 1960, J. B. Phillips translation 1962, James Moffatt N.T. 1926 - "What will be the sign of your arrival and of the end of THE WORLD?".
Other English Bibles that correctly have translated this as "the end of THE WORLD" are The Basic English Bible 1965, The New Life Version 1969, New American Bible 1970, Living Bible 1971, New Jerusalem Bible 1985, New Century Version 1988, The Contemporary English Version 1995, American Bible Union N.T. 2008, World English Bible, Contemporary English Version 1995, The God's Word Translation 1995, New Living Bible 1998, Third Millennium Bible 1998, KJV 21st Century 1994, Worldwide English N.T. 1998, the Easy to Read Version 2001, the New Living Translation of 2007 - "the end of the world?", the Aramaic Bible in Plain English 2010, Names of God Version 2011 - “and when will THE WORLD come to an end?”, the New Living Translation 2013, the Knox Bible of 2012 - "and of the WORLD being brought to an end?" The Word of Yah 1993, God's First Truth 1999, The Tomson New Testament 2002, The Evidence Bible 2003, The Resurrection Life N.T. 2005 - "to the END OF THE WORLD." Matthew 28:20, Bond Slave Version 2009, The Easy English Bible 2010, Hebraic Transliteration Scripture 2010, Conservative Bible 2011 - "the end OF THE WORLD", The Work of God’s Children Illustrated Bible 2011 - “What shall be the sign of Your coming and of the consummation of THE WORLD?”, The Aramaic New Testament 2011 - "the end of the WORLD", The Hebrew Names Version 2014, The Modern Literal New Testament 2014 and The Translators Bible 2014 - "Also, tell us what will happen to indicate that you are about to come again, and to indicate that THIS WORLD IS ENDING?”
Many foreign language Bible also translate this word as THE WORLD including Spanish Cipriano de Valera 1602 "el fin DEL MUNDO?", Spanish Reina Valera 1858, 1909, Reina Valera Actualized 2015 (el fin del MUNDO), the 2011 Spanish Reina Valera Contemporánea (put out by the United Bible Society), Reina Valera Gómez 2010 - "el fin del mundo", AND the Spanish version NIV 1999! (Nueva Versión Internacional)-"del fin del MUNDO?", the Italian Diodati 1649 and the Conferenza Episcopale Italiana version - "fin del MONDO", the Portuguese Joao Ferreira de Almeida, the Portuguese A Biblia Sagrada, and the Portuguese O Livro of 2000 - "do fim do MUNDO", the Afrikaan's Bible 1953 -"van die WERELD", the French Martin Bible 1744 , Louis Segond 1910 and the French Ostervald 1993 and the French Louis Segond 2007 - "la fin du MONDE.", Luther's German Bible 1545 - "der Welt Ende?" -"and the end of THE WORLD?", and the German Schlachter of 2000 - "des Endes der Weltzeit sein?", the Dutch Staten Vertaling Bible -"en van de voleinding der WERGELD?" = "and the end of THE WORLD?", and the Tagalog Ang Dating Biblia 1905 - "at ano ang magiging tanda ng iyong pagparito, at ng katapusan ng sanglibutan?" = "What shall be the sign of thy coming and the end of the WORLD?"
Other foreign language Bibles that also say "the end of THE WORLD" are the Czech Bible Kralicka - "a která znamení budou příchodu tvého a skonání světa?" = "the sign of your coming and the end of THE WORLD?", the Chinese Union Traditional Bible - 你 降 臨 和 世 界 的 末 了 有 甚 麼 豫 兆 呢 ？="what sign of your coming and the end of THE WORLD?", the Korean bible - 과 세상 끝에는 무슨 징조가 있사오리이까 ?" = "and the end of the WORLD?", the Norwegian Det Norsk Bibelselskap - "og hvad skal tegnet være på ditt komme og på verdens ends?" - "the end of the WORLD?", the Romanian Cornilescu Bible and the 2014 Romanian Fidela Bible - Şi care va fi semnul venirii Tale şi al sfîrşitului veacului acestuia?: = "And what shall be the sign of your coming and of the end of THE WORLD?", the Russian Synodal Version - и какой признак Твоего пришествия и кончины века?" = "What is the sign of thy coming and the end OF THE WORLD?", the Ukranian Bible - " І яка буде ознака приходу Твого й кінця віку?" = "and the end of THE WORLD?", Varen's Comtemporary Bulgarian Bible - И какъв ще бъде белегът на Твоето пришествие и за свършека на света?" = "and the end of the WORLD?".
The first major English translation to be widely accepted that changed "the end of the world" to "the end of the AGE" was the liberal RSV, followed by such versions as the NRSV, NASB, NIV, NKJV, ESV, NET and the Holman Christian Standard.
Obviously not all scholars agree on the meaning of the word aion. Anytime you hear someone say: "All scholars agree that....", you should immediately recognize that the person saying this doesn't know what he is talking about.
AION as WORLD
Even the modern versions like the NASB, NIV, ESV, NKJV and Holman ALL at times translate this same Greek word as WORLD. The NIV does this four times - Luke 16:8 "the children of this world"; Romans 12:2 "Be not conformed to this world"; 1 Timothy 6:17 "Charge them that are rich in this world..."; and 2 Timothy 4:10 "Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world."
The NASB translates this same Greek word as "world" 7 times, including twice as "worlds" in Hebrews 11:3 "Through faith we understand that the WORLDS were framed by the word of God." and "whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the WORLDS" - Hebrews 1:2. The NASB likewise has "the care of this world" Matthew 13:22 and Mark 4:19; and "the god of this world" 2 Corinthians 4:4, as well as agreeing with the NIV in 1 and 2 Timothy. The Holman and the NKJV also translate this word as "world" in several verses in the New Testament.
The ESV likewise has translated the Greek word "aion" as "world" in Matthew 13:22 "the cares of this WORLD"; Mark 4:19; Luke 16:8 - "the sons of THIS WORLD"; John 9:32 "since THE WORLD BEGAN"; Romans 12:2 "conformed to THIS WORLD"; 2 Corinthians 4:4 "the god of THIS WORLD"; 2 Timothy 4:10 "in love with this present WORLD" and in Hebrews 1:2 "through whom he created THE WORLD."
The NKJV has translated the Greek word 'aioon' as 'world' some 10 times. Matthew 13:22 (Mark 4:19) 'the cares of this world"; Luke 1:70 "since the world began"; Luke 16:8 "the sons of this world"; John 9:32 "since the world began"; Acts 3:21 "since the world began"; Romans 12:2 "be not conformed to this world"; 2 Timothy 4:10 "having loved this present world"; and in both Hebrews 1:2 and 11:3 "through whom also He made the worlds"; and "the worlds were framed by the word of God."
The word ‘aionas’ in Hebrews 1:2; 11:3:
King James Bible - “Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the WORLDS (aionas) -- Heb. 1:2 .. . Through faith we understand that the WORLDS (aionas) were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” -- Heb. 11:3
Tyndale 1534 - he made the WORLDE . . . the WORLDE was ordeyned by the worde of God
Great Bible 1540 - he made the WORLDE . . . the WORLDE was ordeyned by the worde of God
Geneva Bible 1587 - he made the WORLDES . . . the WORLDE was ordeined by the worde of God
Bishop's Bible 1568 - he made the WORLDS . . . the WORLDS were ordeined by the word of God
RV 1885, ASV 1901 - he made the WORLDS . . . the WORLDS have been framed by the word of God
RSV 1946-1971 - he created the WORLD . . . the WORLD was created by the word of God
God's First Truth 1999 - by whom also he made the WORLD….Through faith we understand that the WORLD was ordained by the word of God
King James Bible, NKJV 1982, New Life Version 1969, Amplified Bible 1987, New Revised Standard Version 1989, The Word of Yah 1993, Interlinear Greek New Testament 1997 (Larry Pierce), Worldwide English N.T. 1998, Sacred Scriptures Family of Yah 2001, Tomson New Testament 2002, The Evidence Bible 2003, New Century Version 2005, Bond Slave Version 2009, BRG Bible 2012, Lexham English Bible 2012, Interlinear Hebrew-Greek Scriptures 2012 (Mebust) - by whom also he made the WORLDS . . . the WORLDS were framed by the word of God
Lamsa’s translation of the Syriac Peshitta 1933 - “he made the WORLDS. . . WORLDS were framed by the word of God”
Lawrie Translation 1998 - by means of whom also he made the WORLDS…By faith we understand the WORLDS to have been framed by the word of God, so that the things seen exist from things not appearing.
NET 2006 (Dan Wallace) - By faith we understand that the WORLDS were set in order at God’s command
Hebraic Transliteration Scripture 2010 - Through emunah we understand that the WORLDS were framed by the Dvar Elohim
Holy Scriptures VW Edition 2010 - through Whom also He made the WORLDS
Biblos Interlinear Bible 2011 - through whom he made the WORLDS....
Common English Bible 2011 - God made his Son the heir of everything and created the WORLD through him.
ESV 2011 - through whom also he created the WORLD.
Names of God Bible 2011 - Faith convinces us that God created the WORLD through his word.
The Work of God’s Children Illustrated Bible 2011 - by whom He made the WORLD…By faith we understand that the WORLD was framed by the word of God that from invisible things visible things might be made.
Conservative Bible 2011 - By whom he made the WORLDS
The Voice 2012 - But in these last days, it has come to us through His Son, the One who has been given dominion over all things and through whom all WORLDS were made.
Modern English Version 2014 - and through whom He made the WORLD.
German Bible - er auch die Welt gemacht hat (he also the WORLD has made) – Heb. 1:2 ...die Welt durch Gottes Wort fertig ist (the WORLD through God's word is ready) – Heb 11:3
Even though some Bible critics emphatically tell you the word aion does not mean "world" but "age", all the modern versions disagree and so do many Greek Lexicons.
Bauer, Arndt, and Gingrich in their Greek-English Lexicon on page 27 list one of the definitions of the word aion as: "THE WORLD as a spatial concept".
Kittel's huge Lexicon in 10 volumns says on page 203: "The sense of "time or course of the world" can easily pass over into that of "THE WORLD ITSELF", so that aion approximates closely to kosmos...to the description of the end of the world (aion) there corresponds the description of its beginning as foundation of the world (kosmos). The equation of aion and kosmos, also found in the Hellenistic mysteries, is to be explained in the NT by Jewish linguistic usage...the spatial significance is just as definite as the temporal."
Trench's Synonyms of the New Testament quotes several authors who agree that the word aion properly means "THE WORLD". Trench himself says: "Aion came to mean all that exists in THE WORLD under conditions of time." He then quotes C.L.W. Grimm who defines aion as: "THE WORLD inasmuch as it is active in time."
Trench also quotes Windischmann who says: "Aion dare never be taken to denote only time, but rather as embracing everything caught up in time, THE WORLD and its glory, people and their natural doings and strivings, in contrast to yonder eternal kingdom of the Messiah."
Trench, though giving conflicting thoughts (as is often the case) ends his article on the meaning of aion with these words: "ETYMOLOGICALLY OUR ENGLISH WORD "WORLD" MORE NEARLY REPRESENTS AION THAN DOES THE GREEK KOSMOS."
In Matthew 24 the Lord Jesus Christ is describing THE END OF THE WORLD. This physical world as we know it will come to a definite end and a new heaven and a new earth will be created. Just read the rest of the chapter in the King James Bible without trying to fit your particular brand of end-times theology into it.
Even in this same chapter when the Lord lists the signs of His coming, He tells us in this context: "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away." Matthew 24:35.
The Lord says "this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come." He says that after the tribulation of those days, the sun shall be darkened, the moon shall not give her light, the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken. "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only."
In Revelation Six we read an overview of all these catastrophes with stars falling, heaven departing as a scroll, and every mountain and island moved out of their places. The great day of the wrath of the Lamb is come, and who shall be able to stand?
2 Peter 3:10-13 say: "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be destroyed, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness."
The King James Bible is right. In Matthew 24 the Lord Jesus Christ gave a discourse on the signs of His coming and the end of THE WORLD., and in Matthew 28:20 He comforts His people by telling us that He will be with us until "THE END OF THE WORLD. Amen."
The King James Holy Bible is right, as always. Get used to it.
If you are interested in this topic, See
The New Heavens and the New Earth - Isaiah 65:17; 66:22; 2 Peter 3:13 and Revelation 21:1
How many times will God do this?
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