Q. 1 What does it mean to have "eternal life?
A. 1 To have eternal life means to live on forever. It means to be immortal, to never die.
Q. 2 In Biblical terms, what does it mean to have "eternal life?
A. 2 In Biblical terms, to have "eternal life" means to know the only true God. This is supported by the following Bible passage,
"And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent." [Jn. 17:3]
Q. 3 What does the Catechism of the Catholic Church have to say about having "eternal life?
A. 3 The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us that to have "eternal life" is to have the knowledge of God. This truth is based on the special meaning of the word "know" in the Gospel of God, the word "know" meaning knowledge in which personal involvement is always supposed. On this subject, the Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
C.C.C. # 1721 "God put us in the world to know, to love, and to serve him, and so to come to paradise. Beatitude makes us "partakers of the divine nature" and of eternal life. [2 Pet 1:4; Jn 17:3] With beatitude, man enters into the glory of Christ [Rom 8:18] and into the joy of the Trinitarian life."
Q. 4 Therefore, am I to understand that "eternal life" means to "know God" on a personal basis rather than "living forever?"
A. 4 That is correct. In the first place, the soul is immortal. [C.C.C. # 366] As such, "eternal life" does not refer to the immortality of the soul. In consideration of the fact that the soul is already immortal, "eternal life" refers to "the soul's knowledge of God on a personal basis."