Ἀϊδιος - aidios

Eternal Chains or Unseen Chains?

You also know that the angels who did not keep within their proper domain but abandoned their own place of residence, he has kept in eternal chains in utter darkness, locked up for the judgment of the great Day (Jude 1:6).

Does this verse make sense?

Would you lock up a turkey in an eternal coop for Thanksgiving Day (or whenever you eat turkeys)? No! You would look for secure, but temporary, accommodation for it until its appointed time came! Likewise keeping people in eternal chains until the Day of Judgment makes no sense.

“Everlasting (or Eternal) destruction” is a similar contradiction in terms. Destruction is immediate and final, not continuing for ever. I have explained this in ὀλεθρος.

In both these cases we must turn to the Greek for solutions. For eternal chains in this verse we do not find the usual Greek word αἰωνιος (aionios) (traditionally translated eternal, but literally meaning age-lasting). Instead we find the word ἀϊδιος (aidios) which only occurs twice in the New Testament. When a word occurs so few times in ancient literature, it is difficult to be sure of its meaning. The lexicons say that ἀϊδιος comes from the Greek word ἀει (aei) meaning always and so means eternal. Actually ἀϊδιος is much closer to the Greek word Ἀιδης (aides) meaning Hades. It looks exactly like an adjective derived from its noun. Hades literally means the unseen world. Ἀϊδιος then would naturally mean either unseen or belonging to Hades.

Would this make sense? This verse would then read “kept in unseen chains in utter darkness, locked up for the judgment of the great Day” or perhaps “kept in chains of Hades in utter darkness, locked up for the judgment of the great Day”. Either of these would make excellent sense.

The other verse where we find ἀϊδιος is Rom 1:20 “For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes – his ἀϊδιος power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made.” His eternal power or his unseen power? There is no particular reason for speaking about God’s power being eternal, any more than any other of his attributes being eternal. But describing his power as unseen in the context of this verse makes perfect sense.

Thus in the only two occasions in the New Testament where ἀϊδιος occurs, translating it as unseen makes much better sense than translating it as eternal.

So my conclusion: contrary to several hundred years of Bible translation tradition, these angels are kept in unseen chains rather than eternal chains!

It’s interesting to note the parallel passage in 2Peter 2:4: “For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to Tartarus, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment”. In Greek mythology Tartarus was the lowest region of Hades, reserved for the especially wicked. To my mind this confirms that ἀϊδιος relates to Hades rather than meaning eternal.

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