Eternity is a concept that is challenging for us as finite human beings to fully comprehend. Yet it is a major theme throughout the Bible, spoken of in reference to God, life after death, and the final destiny of humanity. In this comprehensive blog post, we will explore what the Bible says about the nature and duration of eternity.
The Bible makes clear that eternity is endless. It has no beginning and no end. God himself inhabits eternity (Isaiah 57:15). He is eternal, having neither start nor finish. Eternity is outside of time as we experience it, not subject to hours, days, and years.
Yet when the Bible speaks of eternal life for believers, endless existence with God free from suffering and death, our finite minds struggle to grasp such a boundless reality. We are accustomed to thinking in terms of quantifiable units of time. So just how long is eternity from a biblical perspective? Let’s dive deeper into scripture and discover what we can about the infinite span of eternity.
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- Eternity has no beginning or end – it is existence outside of time
- God alone is inherently eternal
- Eternal life is a gift for believers through faith in Christ
- Hell is the eternal destiny for those who reject Christ
- Eternity spent with God will be joyful beyond imagination
- Eternity separated from God will be sorrowful beyond imagination
The Eternal Nature of God
The Bible unambiguously states that God has no beginning or end. He exists eternally, outside the bounds of time as we know it. Here are some key verses that reveal the eternal nature of God:
“Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” (Psalm 90:2)
“But you, O Lord, are enthroned forever; you are remembered throughout all generations.” (Psalm 102:12)
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Revelation 1:8)
These verses help us grasp that God’s eternal nature stretches back before the creation of the universe and forward beyond the end of the age. He has simply always existed and always will exist. God inhabits a different realm than our time-bound universe.
The eternal nature of God is foundational to the Christian faith. God alone is inherently eternal, while humanity was created with a beginning. True eternity is intrinsic only to the nature of God. All other eternal spiritual realities flow out of his eternal being.
Eternal Life through Jesus
The Bible presents eternal life as a gift of God for those who place their faith in Christ. It is not inherent to human nature. But those who trust in Jesus gain access to the endless life of eternity through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus spoke of this eternal life in John 3:16:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
The Apostle John emphasized that this eternal life is only available through relationship with Jesus:
“And this is the testimony, that God gave 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.” (1 John 5:11–12)
Eternal life means participating in the eternity that God inhabits. By grace through faith, believers enter into a relationship with God that transcends this earthly life. Eternity is no longer just the realm of God, but also the destiny of his people.
The Eternal Nature of Heaven and Hell
The Bible speaks of both heaven and hell as eternal destinations. They are parallel realities that exist outside of our earthly time continuum.
The eternal nature of heaven is depicted in several passages:
“And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25:46)
“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Corinthians 4:17)
“For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed…then shall come to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.'” (1 Corinthians 15:52-54)
Heaven is repeatedly described as being eternal. The implications are staggering. Believers will inhabit perfect joy in relationship with God, with one another, and with Christ forever. This eternal state is so wonderful that it makes our current trials seem light and momentary in comparison.
Hell is also clearly presented as eternal. The wicked will be consigned to eternal punishment, just as the righteous will experience eternal life:
“They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.” (2 Thessalonians 1:9)
Jesus himself spoke of the eternal nature of hell:
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels…And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25:41, 46)
Hell is the eternal destiny for those who reject Christ and refuse relationship with their Creator. There will be no second chances or annihilation after death. Hell is presented as conscious separation from God’s presence and willful alignment with Satan and his fallen angels. It is eternal destruction, not temporary tribulation.
Beyond Our Imagination
Try as we might to wrap our minds around eternity, we inevitably fall short. We are inhabitants of the temporal material realm, bound by time and limited perspective. The eternal spiritual realms of heaven and hell stretch beyond the capacity of our imaginations. As the Apostle Paul wrote:
“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)
The joys of heaven and the sorrows of hell surpass human conception. Their duration has no end. How can our finite minds apprehend such infinity? We cannot, at least not fully.
Thankfully, we are not left wholly ignorant. Through God’s divine revelation in scripture, we have critical glimpses into the nature of eternity. We know enough to recognize hell should be avoided at all costs, while heaven is the ultimate goal whatever the cost. With childlike faith in Christ, eternity spent enjoying God’s presence awaits. The precise comprehension of eternity’s length remains just beyond our grasp, residing in the realm of God alone who inhabits the endlessness of eternity.
Conclusion: The Critical Choice
Eternity is mysterious and incomprehensible in its endlessness. Yet the choice between heaven and hell for all eternity is crystal clear. Do we entrust ourselves fully to Christ through repentance and faith in this short earthly life, gaining access to eternal life with God? Or do we reject God’s gracious offer of relationship and salvation, remaining aligned with Satan and the fallen world, destined for eternal separation from God’s presence?
This life is fleeting, but eternity never ends. The eternal dwelling place of humanity is more critical than any other decision we make on earth. To ponder the infinite span of eternity should jolt us out of complacency, spurring us to redeem the time by pursuing a relationship with Jesus. He alone provides the only bridge to shift from a finite temporal existence to an eternal spiritual life beyond the grave.
The Bible invites us to ponder eternity, something our minds cannot fully grasp. Yet it makes plain eternity’s two possible destinations. This should infuse us with an eternal perspective shaping our priorities today. Wisely choosing to walk with God in the short window of earthly life secures an unimaginably glorious eternity with Him.