The Greek language employs at times a double negative, greatly intensifying the force of the expression used; and when the matter asserted involves a question of duration, the addition of a phrase significant of eternity takes away from such duration all limit whatever.
There are some six places in the New Testament where we get the negative with a term of eternity attached, in five of which the negative is doubled. The places are Mark 3:29; John 4:14; 8:51; 10:28; 11:26; 13:8. Passing by the last of these, we may look at the other five; and we shall, I believe, be led thereby to adore afresh the gracious Spirit who wrote these things for our learning, that we, through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, might have hope.
In Mark 3:29 we read, "He that shall speak injuriously against the Holy Spirit to eternity has no forgiveness, but lies under the guilt of an everlasting sin" (Greek). The attribution to Satan of the works of Christ involved those who made it in eternal sin - sin from the judgment of which there was no escape. The strengthening of the negative here adds intensity to the awful fact. But in the four passages which are now to be cited the negation is the strongest that language can make it; and the reading of these texts shows how determined, so to speak, the blessed Spirit is to give us, in the clearest, fullest terms, the truth, just as it was stated by the Lord Jesus Himself, of the believer's absolute and eternal acceptance in Him. If anything is stated more positively than the judgment and misery of the lost, it is the security and blessing of the saved. There is, perhaps, no stronger term in the whole Greek language than this double negative with an adjunct expressing eternity, whereby God has been pleased to declare the irrefragable, the indefeasible, privileges of life and blessing for all who believe.
John 4:14 says, "Whosoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst for ever." One might perhaps show the exact force of the expression used thus - "shall not, no, he shall not thirst for ever." The drinking and the fresh, full satisfaction from the ceaseless, boundless supply continue for ever and ever.
John 8:51 has it, "If a man keep My word, he shall never see death" - "he shall not, no, he shall not see death for ever." Such is the power of the word of Christ received, retained, and observed; it conveys to the receiver, and effects in him its own object, with vigour which even eternity does not diminish. "The words which I speak unto you," says the Lord, "they are spirit and they are life." Whosoever has been laid hold of by them must, through their operation within him, have life co-existent with the words by which he has been laid hold. They impart to him their own character.
In John 10:28 we have, "I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish" - "they shall not, they shall not, perish for ever." The acquisition of eternal life, as given by the Second Man, the quickening Spirit, is accompanied with the complete impossibility of perishing. This is a life which never wanes, never decays. He who imparts it is Himself its source and supply. That which He gives must, alike with that which He speaks, be in correspondence with Himself. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
So once more in John 11:26, "Everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die" - "never, never die."
Thus are these words of the Lord Jesus Christ presented to us like His "verily, verily," a duplicated witness, a confirmation with an oath of the acceptance and security of all to whom they refer. "Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift." W. G. C-B-C.