ETERNAL LIFE – Encyclopedic Dictionary of Bible and Theology

v. Immortality, Life
Matt 19:16; Tue 10:17; Luke 10:25; 18:18


Source: Hispanic World Bible Dictionary

The Bible does not offer a definition of the ve The first suggestion that the term makes us relates to †¢immortality. God is the “only one who has immortality” (1Ti 6:16). So we can only conceive of time in terms of the known concept of time. A life that does not cease, that is prolonged indefinitely, would be seen for our limited understanding. It is true that God is not subject to time and space, which is why he is called the “eternal God” (Deu 33:27; Isa 40:28). But, in reality, life is more than an infinite succession of time, since it has a very important qualitative aspect: it is the life of God.

To express the concept of ve, the NT combines two Greek words: zöë (life) and aioniös (eternal) in a large number of passages, especially in the Gospel of John (“And these shall go to eternal punishment, and the righteous to see † ; †œ… so that everyone who believes in him may not perish, but may see† ). Through this new birth the believer enters into a father-son relationship with God (“But to all who received him, to them he gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believed in his name †). This is equivalent to a spiritual resurrection, according to which those who believe present themselves to God “as alive from the dead” (Rom 6:13).

Source: Christian Bible Dictionary

type, DOC


vet, In the Scriptures it is commonly presented in contrast to death. Eternal life has been revealed in the Lord Jesus Christ. “This is the true God, and eternal life” (1 Jn. 5:20). “And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life; and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son, he has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 Jn. 5:11, 12). Therefore, he who has the Son of God has life now, and he knows it by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of life. The apostle John speaks of life as a subjective state of believers, yet inseparable from, and truly characterized by, the knowledge of God fully revealed as the Father in the Son. The Lord told the Father in prayer, “This is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (Jn. 17:3). The apostle Paul presents eternal life more in its aspect of hope set before the Christian, which nevertheless has a moral effect in the here and now (Titus 1:2; 3:7). From this it can be seen that for the Christian eternal life is related in its fullness to the glory of God, when the present body that is part of the old creation will be transformed, and there will be a total conformation to the likeness of Christ, in fulfillment of God’s purposes. In this time of waiting, God’s purpose is that the Christian, in whom the Holy Spirit dwells, know (have the conscious knowledge) that he has eternal life (1 Jn. 5:13), a life totally different from the life in the flesh, related to the risen and exalted Lord (Col. 3:1; cf. Eph. 1:19, 20; 1 Pet. 1:3).

Source: New Illustrated Bible Dictionary

(v. heaven, creed, grace, see God)

(ESQUERDA BIFET, Juan, Dictionary of Evangelization, BAC, Madrid, 1998)

Source: Dictionary of Evangelization

SUMMARY: I. The biblical data.-II. History of the doctrine.-III. Theological reflection.

I. The Biblical Data
The Christian faith professes hope in eternal life, the consummated fulfillment of the promise of salvation. In the Old Testament the concept of life carries the idea of ​​existential fullness (hayyim, intensive plural that means life and happiness indistinctly); it is more than mere existence and is only possible in communion with God and within the framework of the Covenant.

The so-called mystical psalms (Ps 16, 49 and 73) presaged that life as a reality stronger than death, a life that begins to take shape now in the mysterious exchange of the God-man interpersonal relationship. The prophets pointed to the communitarian and embodied character of eschatological happiness with the symbols of the town (Am 9,11ss.) or the city (Is 65,17ss.). Already on the threshold of the New Testament, the pious Israelite is convinced that his life “is in the hands of God” (Wis 3,1), since “the Lord will be his reward” (Wis 5,15) and will resurrect him “for eternal life” (Dan 12,2; 2 Mac 7,9.14).

The Synoptic Gospels attest to the frequency with which Jesus has referred to the eschatological phase of the Kingdom. Among the symbols used in the parables, those of the messianic banquet or the wedding reception stand out (Mt 22,1-10; 25,1-10; Lk 12,35-38; 13, 28s.; 14,16-24), which they prolong the social and embodied perspective of prophetic preaching, finally ratified by Ap 21,2.4.

In the Gospel and the letters of John, the Old Testament concept of (eternal) life returns with vigor. It is found in the Logos (Jn 1,4), who incarnates himself to communicate it through a new birth (Jn 1,13s.; 3,5), at whose origin is faith and from which it is already possessed: “the Whoever believes has eternal life” (Jn 3,36; 6,40,47,54; 1 Jn 5,11-13).

If the earthly stage of eternal life is characterized by faith, the eschatological stage exchanges faith for the vision of God (Mt 5,8; 1 Cor 13,12; 2 Cor 5,7); such a vision divinizes man (“we will be like him because we will see him as he is”: 1 Jn 3,2) and takes place within a loving intimacy that the New Testament describes as a being-with-Christ (Lk 23 ,43; He 7 7,59; 1 Thess 4,17; 2 Cor 5,8; Phil 1,23), which would be the specifically New Testament category to denote the eschatological stage of salvific goods.

In sum, the Scripture uses various expressions to verbalize the end of the hope of believers; the most relevant are those of eternal life, vision of God, divinization of man, being-with-Christ. They all have a tentative or approximate character; each one refers to the others and is clarified and completed with them, as theological reflection will show.

II. history of the doctrine
The ecclesial tradition has meditated at length on some of the scriptural data that have just been outlined. One of them is that of heaven as a society or “communion of saints”; the first subject of celestial glory is that transpersonal unity that we call the Church. In reality, the ecclesial nature of eschatological happiness is at the origin of the patristic uncertainties about the moment in which essential beatitude begins (whether immediately after death or only after the parousia), uncertainties that reappear in the medieval with John XXII and that will give rise to the magisterial intervention of Benedict XII that will be analyzed later.

Together with the communitarian character of eternal life, the patristic also underlines the category of vision of God, with its divinizing effects and its Christological dimension, very present since Ignatius of Antioch and already virtually contained in the ecclesial dimension, since communion (eschatological) of the saints is the being-with-Christ of the members of his body, reached consummation in the integrity of those who belong to him.

The article of eternal life represents the obligatory conclusion of the various symbols of faith, from the most concise (DS 6ss.) to the most extensive (DS 13-16,39). But it will be necessary to wait several centuries before the extraordinary magisterium pronounces on the matter; his first intervention is the dogmatic constitution Benedictus Deus, alluded to before (DS 530); The key category here is the vision of God, about which a series of clarifications are made: a) the fact: the blessed “saw and see the divine essence”; b) the mode: it is an “intuitive vision”, “facial” (cf. 1 Cor 13,12), immediate (without any creature interfering); c) the consequences: joy, bliss and eternal life.

It is worth noting the markedly intellectual character that the concept of eternal life has here, understood in a dryly cognitive sense, without the dense experiential nuances that, as will be seen later, reaches in the Scripture. The Christological element is alluded to very briefly (the blessed “are in heaven… with Christ”) and the vision is assigned as a term not the personal Trinitarian reality, but “the divine essence”. At this point, the Council of Florence (DS 693) provides an important precision: the object of the intuitive vision is “the same triune God, and one, as it is”.

Vatican II, in its constitution Lumen Gentium, has enriched this magisterial doctrine with substantial complements. The n. 48 collects the vision data of God and the divinizing potentiality of him: “in glory… we will be similar to God because we will see him as he is”. But he immediately adds the Christological imprint: “to be with Christ”, “to enter the wedding with him”; in the N. 49 states that “the blessed are intimately united with Christ”. The social-ecclesial nature of eternal life, of which the Church frequently appears as the subject (cf. nos. 48-51, passim), is also evident. The council, in short, has known how to correct previous unilateralisms by recovering important elements of the biblical revelation on eternal life.

III. theological reflection
Theology must begin by asking why both revelation and symbols and ecclesial tradition give the category of life undeniable priority when it comes to expressing the Christian hope in salvation accomplished. To answer this question, we must start from the first article of the creed: God creates out of love; love is biogenic, generator of life; then God creates for life. Thus, in the Christian creed, the first and last articles co-implicate.

On the other hand, life is the condition of possibility of any coherent salvific proposal; without it, in effect, the other components of the offer of salvation are subject to the corrosive power of expiration. Without the content of life, who is ultimately concerned with the discourse on salvation? To the world, to history, to humanity, in a word, to the universal, but not to the singular? Everything is saved in the abstract; nothing and no one is saved in particular. That is to say, in reality there is no salvation, since there is no one to preach salvation from.

For these reasons, it is understandable that the first content of the Christian idea of ​​salvation is life. A life that is a miracle of a love that is a mystery: eternal life. However, the assertion of an unlimited life, far from abolishing the dilemmatic character of the human condition, accentuates it. Death is one of the dimensions of contingency, surely the most ostensible and incisive, but not the only one. The derogation of the time limit, and only of it, poses more difficulties than it solves; It is equivalent to the endemic consolidation of the rest of the limitations, with the cumulative increase in contingency.

Thus, if eternal life is to be not perdition, but salvation, it has to matter, in addition to overcoming the vital limit, an ontological mutation,…

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