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Endless and Eternal

by Arthur R. Bassett

The terms "endless" and "eternal" have at least two connotations each in THE CHURCH of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints. They are used both as adjectives and as nouns. The adjectival forms, fitting the more traditional viewpoint, denote a concept of time without beginning or end. In a second, less familiar usage, the phrase "Endless and Eternal" functions as a noun, another name for God (Moses 1:3; 7:35)—in the manner of "Alpha and Omega," or "the Beginning and the End."

In a revelation dated March 1830 (now D&C 19), the Prophet Joseph Smith learned that phrases such as "endless punishment" and "eternal life" have qualitative as well as quantitative implications. The word "endless," for example, has sometimes been employed by God for greater impact "that it might work upon the hearts of the children of men" (D&C 19:7). Consequently, the term "endless punishment" may or may not imply a duration of time—that there will be no end to such punishment—but it clearly does imply that the punishment (or blessing) is associated with the Eternal One. "Eternal punishment is God's punishment. Endless punishment is God's punishment" (D&C 19:11-12). In like manner, the concept of eternal life referred to in scripture (e.g., John 17:3) implies more than life lasting forever; it also connotes a quality of life like that of God, as well as life with God (DS 2:8, 228).

(See Basic Beliefs home page; Teachings About the Godhead home page; God the Father home page)


Doxey, Roy W., comp. Latter-day Prophets and the Doctrine and Covenants, Vol. 1, pp. 204-208. Salt Lake City, 1963.

Ludlow, Daniel H. A Companion to Your Study of the Doctrine and Covenants, Vol. 1, p. 142. Salt Lake City, 1978.

Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 1, Endless and Eternal

Copyright 1992 by Macmillan Publishing Company

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