So I was thinking about the subject of punishment in the New Testament. Most professing Christianity believe in an eternal hell fire where sinners will be punished for eternity. This seems contrary to the character of an all-merciful God. It also defies Paul's declaration in Rom 6:23 regarding the wages of sin. The wages of sin is death not eternal punishment.
We also must remember that no one can come to Christ unless called by the Father. We also have to remember that many are called but few are chosen. So if we aren't chosen we are destined to eternal hell fire? Seems wrong to me.
Sometimes when we read verses in The Bible and apply our linear western thought process to it we can be misled. The thought process of the people of The Messiah's era was very different than ours. Mat 25:46 is a great example of this.
Mat 25:46 ESV And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
The Greek word here is aiōnios. Strong's defines it as:
From G165; perpetual (also used of past time, or past and future as well): - eternal, for ever, everlasting, world (began).
The problem we face is that most of the dictionaries we look at simply provide all of the different ways the many theologians and/or scholars have translated the Greek into English. This is problematic as There isn't necessarily a word for word translation of a word in one language into another.
According to Orville Jenkins the word aionios refers to the character or essence of a time rather than time itself:
New Kind of Age
The Greek word, and the messianic idea it attempts to represent, are focused on condition or character, not time or length of time. In focus is a new age that is different from the current age, in kind and quality. The focus is not on how long in terms of time sequence.
The Greeks, as well as all the ancient peoples, were dynamic and relational in their understanding of the world, even the “philosophical” thinkers. We call those cultures concrete-relational, or oral-relational. Modern literacy and the resultant way of thinking analytically since the Enlightenment has affected the actual way people think.
The western Rationalist approach to knowledge, reducing matters down to components and analyzing them by linear deduction, has led to a high focus on time sequence and cause and effect by “independent” actors, rather than the connected, relational concepts of reality dominant in the rest of the modern world and universal in ancient human cultures.
The "eternal punishment" referred to in Matthew is more correctly an age or era of correction. This is what the millennial period and the second resurrection are for. It is Yah's will that all be saved:
1Ti 2:3-4 ISV This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, (4) who wants all people to be saved and to come to know the truth fully.
Who, in all of creation, can stand against the will of the Creator or the universe? It is quite possible that ALL of creation, including the fallen host, will, at some future point, be reconciled to the creator. Praise Yah for His endless mercy and love for His children.