Having failed to convince the bulk of believers that the Bible is silent about eternal judgment, the Universalist is forced to re-define "eternal". His source is Strong, as in the concordance. His argument is weak.
The little Greek noun aion, and its companion adjective aionios are at the heart of their defense. These are most often the words used when the New Testament speaks of eternal or everlasting punishment.
Alas, says the Universalist, the word simply does not mean "without end." It means "an age." Or even "the world." It can mean the Messianic Age, the Millennium. So you see, if there is such punishment at all, it is only to the end of the present age or the Millennial age, not all eternity.
We would counter, eternity is also an age, and it is this age of which the writers speak. Strong's is very quick to point out that, by extension, aion means "in perpetuity." Ongoing, always. The basic meaning of the adjective is actually perpetual. Once it starts, it never ends.
But the lie is much more easily given to Universalist thought by merely observing how the same word is used to explain the length of other quantities. Here is a partial list of such items, using the words aion and aionios as the false teachers would have it.
These verses have been paraphrased, and are in the order of their appearance in the New Testament.
Matthew 19:29. Everyone who has left all for Me shall inherit life for the duration of the Millennium.
Luke 1:33. Jesus will rule over the house of Jacob for an age.
John 3:16. God loved the world so much that He gave Jesus to die for it, so that whoever believes in Him will live until the end of the Millennial age.
John 4:14. Inside of the believer is a well that springs forth for the entire Millennium.
John 8:35. Jesus abides in the House of the Father for an age.
Romans 1:25. The Creator is to be blessed for 1,000 years.
Romans 16:26. The mystery of the Gospel has been made known by commandment of the God who will live until the end of the Millennium.
Galatians 1:5. Jesus gave Himself for us. We should give Him glory for the Millennial Age.
II Thessalonians 2:16. God has given us consolation that lasts 1,000 years.
I Timothy 6:12. Lay hold on life that lasts for 1,000 years.
I Timothy 6:16. To God has been given power that will stretch up to and to the end of the 1000-year reign of Christ.
Hebrews 1:8. Your Throne, O God, is for the Millennium.
Hebrews 13:8. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and for the Millennium.
Hebrews 13:20. We are saved through the blood of a covenant that will last for 1,000 years after Jesus comes.
II Peter 1:11. The Kingdom that is coming will last for an age of 1,000 years.
I Peter 1:25. The word of the Lord endures for 1,000 years.
Revelation 5:13. Glory to the Lamb until the end of this age.
Revelation 11:15. And He shall reign for the Millennium.
Revelation 22:5. And they, the saints, shall reign for the Millennium.
Can you forgive me if I stop here? The list is so much longer, but I think you get the point. The Biblical context of aion and aionios is never-ending. Lasting forever and ever and ever. As thrilling as that is to us, it is equally horrible to those who do not know Jesus Christ. But the Greek word is what it is. We cannot change it, nor should we desire to do so. Let us believe it instead, and change our behavior to match the reality, rather than changing the reality to match our behavior.