Eternal life is promised to everyone who stops trusting in themselves and, instead, trusts in Jesus and what He did on the cross to make them right in God’s eyes.

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.”

But what does it mean to have eternal life?

I have asked this question over and over to Christians and they typically answer it incorrectly.

They typically say: “Eternal means forever.”

To that response, I quickly give the answer: “Wrong.”

“Eternal” doesn’t mean “forever” when it is attached to “life” in our Bibles.

Why? Because believers AND unbelievers will live forever. Those who are saved and those who are lost are going to live forever somewhere.

This is clearly stated in the following verse where the word “eternal” in the original language (Greek) is the exact same word when used to describe those who will spend eternity in Heaven and those who are headed to Hell.

Matthew 25:46 “And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

So, what does “eternal” mean in the Bible when it is connected to the word “life?”

Answer: It means that we have the life of the Eternal One within us.

“Eternal” isn’t talking about quantity (how much life); it is talking about quality (the KIND of life).

Just listen to the prayer that Jesus prayed preceding His death on the cross. As He talked to His Father, He defined what “eternal life” is. (I will underline eternal life in the prayer.)

John 17:1-3 “When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

Did you get that last part? Jesus said that “eternal life” is knowing the God that has always known us.

And this isn’t a mere head knowledge. It is an intimate knowledge that speaks of a very special relationship, a relationship that is characterized by God Himself coming to dwell inside of us. (See Ezekiel 36:27; Romans 8:9, 11; 1 Corinthians 3:16, 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:16; Galatians 4:6; 2 Timothy 1:14; 1 John 2:27; etc.)

So, the next time you come across the words “eternal life” or “everlasting life” in your Bible, realize that it isn’t talking about how long you will live in Heaven. It is talking about how you have the very life of God (the Eternal One) within you.

milky way galaxy during nighttime
Photo by Hristo Fidanov on Pexels.com