“Because all that is in the world, the yearning of the flesh and the yearning of the eyes and the arrogance of life (βίος, bios), is not from the Father but is from the world… and this is the promise that He has promised us: the life (ζωή, zoe) eternal” (1 John 2:16, 25).
Although the usages of these two words for “life” do overlap on occasion, the latter ζωή connotes “quality of existence” rather than simply living for the sake of living as the word βίος suggests, merely denoting the physical manner in which one’s ζωή finds expression.¹
Considering this distinction, the word βίος is that from which we get the word “biology.” Thus, this word could be applied today as life according to the evolutionary worldview, that humankind evolved from random molecules of pond scum hitting one another into creatures with self-awareness, having the capacities to learn and teach what they learn, and eventually taking flight and walking on the surface of the moon. The word could further be applied to people in love with their bodies, spending all their time building muscles and strict dieting to the neglect of family, friends, and the church. Both of these exhibit great human pride which is “not from the Father but is from the world.” Yet converging on these two ideologies is the Transhumanist movement, the goal of which is to genetically enhance and technologically augment the human race to live forever without God. This is the ultimate “arrogance of bios.”
If you are saved, however, what God has promised you in Christ is “the zoe eternal,” eternal quality to your existence rather than simply living for the sake of living. Without God, even immortality is not worth living, becoming merely an avenue to fulfill carnal desires that eventually denigrates and cheapens life. This was the reason that the Lord cast Adam and Eve out of paradise after their initial sin, Genesis 3:22 saying, “lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:—”
The Lord’s aposiopesis (i.e. sudden silence) at the end of this verse emphasizes that the concept of humanity living forever in a fallen condition is unspeakable. The writers of Star Trek: Voyager expressed the concept of “eternal bios” in the season 2 episode “Death Wish,” which aired February 19, 1996. In this episode, a member of the Q Continuum laments that everything to do had been done, everywhere to go had been traveled, and no one in the continuum had spoken to each other for millennia because there was nothing left to say. To him, immortality was a disease. This is eternal bios, to live forever as a sinner without God, and this is why the prophet Isaiah compared the lost in hell to be as worms that “shall not die” and “an abhorring unto all flesh” (Isaiah 66:24). You will live forever, but without Christ you will only be a shadow of what you once were, separated from God and without zoe.
¹ William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 177.