Yesterday, I said that there were only four verses in the entire Bible which used the word "eternal" in connection with God (Deut. 33:27; Rom. 1:20; 1 Tim. 1:17; Heb. 9:14). It is important that we understand the difference between that which is "eternal," and that which is "everlasting." "Eternal," as I said yesterday, means "without beginning or end; always existing." "Everlasting," from the Greek αἰώνιος (aiōnios), is "something which had a beginning but will never cease."
Some commentators use terms such as "Alpha and Omega," "the First and the Last," and "the Beginning and the Ending" (Rev. 22:13) to support their argument that God is eternal. However, all three are referring to God's relationship to His creation, and in reality, God clearly existed before creation (Jn. 17:24; Eph. 1:4; 1 Pet. 1:20).
Another proof of God's eternal nature is the fact that He is "immutable." That is, He is always the same and never changes. Malachi 3:6 says, "For I am the LORD, I change not...." Because God created all things (Eph. 3:9; Rev. 4:11), only an eternal God could have created things said to be immutable (Heb. 6:18).
"Eternal life" is found in the Bible 26 times, and "life eternal" 4 times, all in the New Testament. "Everlasting life" is found only once in the Old Testament (Dan. 12:2), but it appears 10 times in the New Testament, where "life everlasting" appears 4 times.
Often people use the two terms interchangeably, perhaps because born again believers are said to possess both eternal life, and everlasting life. However, even in the individual believer, the two terms are not interchangeable. Because all men are created beings and therefore had a beginning, we are not eternal beings. God designed man to exist forever, and the believer is said to possess "everlasting life" (Jn. 3:16). Those who have not accepted Jesus Christ will experience "everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord" (2 Thes. 1:9).
Born again believers also are partakers of eternal life. That is because when we accept Jesus, the Holy Spirit baptizes us into Christ (Rom. 6:3; Gal. 3:27). And, because Jesus Christ is eternal, born again believers possess eternal life because we are said to be in Him (1 Jn. 5:20).
I do not comprehend the implications of possessing eternal life, but thanks be to God I have life everlasting because I have placed my trust in the One He sent. The Apostle John wrote to proclaim the good news and the bad news. The good news: For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (Jn. 3:16). The bad news: He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him" (Jn. 3:36). Praise be to our eternal God!