Closely related to God’s self-existence is His eternality. Because God had no creator, He is either eternal or simply popped into existence out of nothing and for no reason. God’s eternality makes much more logical sense, but it is likewise upheld in scripture.
As God identifies Himself as I AM we find the connotation of God’s self-existence, but also the fact that He is eternal.
What is eternal?
The question of what is eternal may seem simple but we must understand that not all that we think of as eternal is actually so. Scripture speaks of the mountains as being from everlasting to everlasting. And certainly the mountains will be here as long as the earth is inhabited. But we also know from scripture that the heavens and earth will pass away and there will be a new heaven and earth.
Sometimes things are discussed as eternal or everlasting to simply mean they will be around a long time. Scripture does not contradict itself and when there is an apparent contradiction, we must find what the intent of the author was.
Eternity and man
Ecclesiastes 3:11 tells us that God has set eternity in our hearts – and yet we cannot fathom it. We think of heaven, but we get a small minded picture because we can’t comprehend anything longer than our own lifetime. But man is only eternal going forward; we have not been in existence for eternity because we were created.
We will all be resurrected to everlasting punishment or reward. Jesus often speaks of eternal life and eternal punishment. There are some who have claimed that hell is a temporary place of torment because a loving God cannot punish someone forever. But to make hell a temporary place is to make heaven temporary as well. The same word is used for eternal life as is used for eternal punishment or eternal fire.
Alpha and Omega – the God of time
God is described as the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the End. The question must be asked if God created time and He sits outside of it or whether it passes regardless but He has a different perception of it. We know that a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like a day to Him.
There are some who claim that time is not relevant to God but only to creation. In this case, there will be a time when time shall be no more. However, Revelation 22:2 records that the tree of life will bear its fruit every month. This could be figurative language or it could be understood literally. If literal, time will continue to pass as it always has. If it is figurative, time will cease to have meaning for us as we spend eternity with God.