|Sometimes we are confident that we know the meaning of
words and terms. Their definitions seem so fixed and settled. For instance
what does "for ever" mean? Are we sure that we know? Just how long is "for
"In all languages, it is usage that determines meaning.... Since usage always determines meaning, Biblical usage, certainly, always determines Biblical meaning."1
The scriptural usage of "for ever" demonstrates that it cannot mean "unending." The following verses obviously cannot mean "without end."
"Here is something that ought to be clear to any intelligent, honest man. A word that is used to mean, in one case, three days and nights, in another case, a manís lifetime, and in still another, a period of about four centuries, surely does not mean unending or eternal Ė no matter what English word is used to translate it. Usage determines meaning."5