I received the following question:

In 2 Corinthians 9:9 Paul quotes Psalm 112:9 “He scattered abroad, He gave to the poor, His righteousness endures forever.” The word for “forever” in 2 Corinthians is Aion, and throughout my studies I’ve seen that it matches up exactly with the Old Testament’s Owlam. However in this particular match up we find the word ‘Ad in Psalm 112:9 and the question arises, does Ad follow suit? Do all three mean the same thing?

This is a very interesting point you bring up. A quick study of the word shows that “for ‘Ad” is a common phrase in the Old Testament. Just as common seems to be “for owlam and ‘ad,” and just three times, “for ‘ad and owlam.” The two seem to be used together quite often, much more than ‘ad is used on its own.

As I recently discussed regarding Kurios being used to translate both Yahweh and Adonai, the law of divine interchange does not directly apply here. That is, the Greek word that is used to translate two different Hebrew words thus takes on the character of both of them. Therefore Kurios takes on the character of both Yahweh and Adonai. In many passages, Yahweh is clearly meant. In others, nothing but Adonai could be the intention.

In the same way, I would say that aion covers the meanings of both owlam and ‘ad. In this case, the two are very much related anyway. The exact difference in meaning seems to be difficult to pull from the uses of ‘ad. It seems that ‘ad has to do with the longest duration of time. It seems to have more emphasis on the idea of “perpetuity,” and less on the ideas contained in the word “outflow,” as owlam does. Then, these phrases could be translated as “for the outflow and perpetually,” or “for all time and the outflow.”

This also makes you wonder, since aion could mean either owlam or ‘ad, if some of the New Testament statements about the “aion of the aions” and so forth might carry the idea of the Old Testament phrase “for owlam and ‘ad” rather than just “for owlam of the owlam.”

Anyway, this is a very interesting point. I’m open to suggestions regarding the difference between owlam and ‘ad. They are clearly connected, but what is that connection? Come on, pour out your thoughts.

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