The word aeon, also spelled eon or æon, means "age", "forever" or "for eternity". It is a Latin transliteration from the koine Greek word ὁ αἰών (aion), from the archaic αἰϝών (aiwon). In Homer it typically refers to life or lifespan, but by at least Hesiod it could refer to ages or generations. It has a similar meaning to the Sanskrit word kalpa and Hebrew word olam. A cognate Latin word aevum or aeuum (cf. αἰϝών) for "age" is present in words such as longevity and mediæval.
Although a proposal was made in 1957 to define an aeon to be a unit of time equal to one billion years (1 Ga), the idea was not approved as a unit of scientific measure and is seldom used for a specific period of time. Its more common usage is for any long, indefinite, period of time.
Bible translation is treatment of the Hebrew word olam and the Greek word aion. These two words have similar meaning, and Young's Literal Translation renders them and their derivatives as “age” or “age-during”. Other English versions most often translate them to indicate eternality, being translated as eternal, everlasting, forever, etc. However, there are notable exceptions to this in all major translations, such as : “…I am with you always, to the end of the age” (NRSV), the word “age” being a translation of aion. Rendering aion to indicate eternality in this verse would result in the contradictory phrase “end of eternity”, so the question arises whether it should ever be so. Proponents of Universal Reconciliation point out that this has significant implications for the problem of hell. Contrast in well-known English translations with its rendering in Young's Literal Translation:
And these shall go away to punishment age-during, but the righteous to life age-during. (YLT)
Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life. (NIV)
These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life. (NASB)
And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal. (KJV)
And these will depart into everlasting cutting-off, but the righteous ones into everlasting life. (NWT)
Christianity's idea of "eternal life" comes from the word for life, zoe, and a form of aeon, which could mean life in the next aeon, the Kingdom of God, or Heaven, just as much as immortality, as in .
Universal Reconciliation according to Christian doctrine, as found in the Greek New Testament scriptures, uses the word "eon" to mean a long period of time (perhaps 1000 years) and the word "eonian" is used to mean "during a long period of time". The New Testament teaching is that there was a time before the eons and that the eonian period of time is now coming to an end. After each man's mortal life ends, they are judged as worthy of eonian life or eonian punishment. That is, after the period of the eons all punishment will cease and death is overcome and then God becomes the all in each one.
Occultists sometimes speak of a "magical Aeon" that may last for far less time, perhaps as little as 2,000 years.
Aeons bear a number of similarities to Judaeo-Christian angels, including their roles as servants and emanations of God, and their existence as beings of light. In fact, certain Gnostic Angels, such as Armozel, also happen to be Aeons.
The aeons often came in male/female pairs called syzygies, and were frequently numerous (20-30). Two of the most commonly listed æons were Jesus and Sophia. The aeons constitute the pleroma ("region of light"). The lowest regions of the pleroma are closest to the darkness — that is, the physical world.
When an æon named Sophia emanates without her partner aeon, the result is the Demiurge, or half-creator, a creature that should never have come into existence. This creature does not belong to the pleroma, and the One emanates two savior æons, Christ and the Holy Spirit, to save humanity from the Demiurge. Christ then took the form of the human Jesus, in order to be able to teach humanity how to achieve gnosis; that is, return to the pleroma.
Myther and others suggest that the whole mechanism can be an allegorical representation of violation of CP symmetry, required to create a universe of matter, by facilitating particles to win over antiparticles. CP symmetry requires emanation of equal amount of matter and antimatter which obviously has been violated somehow in the beginning of the universe; otherwise we would not have a material universe. Æons may denote this conjugation of particles-antiparticles produced in equal number. Somehow the perfect symmetry of Pleroma gets violated and a particle or a number of particles (Sophia) ensued out without its/their antiparticle counterparts, resulting in an increase in number of particles (birth of Demiurge) – a process which ultimately led to the creation of our physical universe.''
According to Myther et alia in some unreferenced work,
The order of Anthropos and Ecclesia versus Logos and Zoe is somewhat debated; different sources give different accounts. Logos and Zoe are unique to this system as compared to the previous, and may be an evolved version of the first, totalling 34 aeons, but it is not clear if the first two were actually regarded aeons.