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A biblical eschatology

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All too often eschatological debates begin int he middle - we launch into a rebuttal or defense of particular view of Daniel 9 or Rev 20 - the problem with such discussions is that it is inevitable that we will be talking past each other because there is so much that is assumed by the time we get to those texts - here in this thread I want to try and build my eschatology from the ground up. So I am start with the simple, and then move onto the complex.

 

This is how I would build it up

 

The bible views eternity as an age that is to come

 

The Greek word αἰών (aion) refers to both time and space in biblical usage, see for example Luke 20:35 and Gal 1:4 – in both contexts both time and space are required. The bible's view eternity to come as an αἰών (aion) compare;

 

Matthew 12:32 "Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age αἰών (aion) or in the age to come.

 

And

 

Mark 3:29 "but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation "

 

These passage are parallel passages and without focusing upon the nature of the unpardonable sin we notice that the sin will not be pardoned, not even in all eternity. Matthew refers to the ‘age to come,’ and Mark refers to ‘eternal condemnation’ therefore we learn that this sin that is not forgiven in this age, or the age to come, is a sin that is not forgiven throughout all eternity.

 

As G E Ladd points out “In biblical thought eternity is unending time. In Hellenism men longed for a release from the cycle of time in a timeless world beyond, but in biblical thought time is the sphere of human existence both now and in the future,”[The theology of the New testament, p47]

 

An age and an age to come

 

Here then we have our two age model - and it is very simple, there is this age (the one we are in now) and there is an age to come - and that is all that there is.

 

Why is this such an important foundation

 

This is an important foundation because many millennial interpreters of God’s word assume that if an event is prophesied as occurring in space and time then that means it must occur before the eternal state – because based upon a faulty translation the AV that suggests there will be no more time in heaven. However the bible views eternity as an αἰών (aion) or an unending world age that is to come.

 

A list of where this terminology comes in the NT

 

This list is provided for further personal study that should cement this two age model firmly in our minds, for only when we have this model set are we ready to advance to the first row of bricks.

 

Matt 12:32; mark 10:3;0 Luke 16:8; Luke 18:30; Luke 20:34-36; Rom 12:2; 1 Cor 1:20; 1 Cor 2:6, 8; 1 Cor 3:18, 2 Cor 4:4; Gal 1:4; Eph 1:21; Eph 2:2; 1 Tim 6:17-19, Titus 2:12 and Heb 6:5

 

conclusion

 

At this point we can reach three basic conclusions;

 

1 - This terminology permeates the NT – this is a foundational aspect of NT theology

2 – these are some of the clearest and most literal NT passages regarding the last things, it is therefore clear that one does not have to grasp Revelation or Daniel to grasp the basic bible eschatology

3 – as the clear portions of God’s word should always be used to explain the less clear, we should be using these portions of God’s word to understand Daniel, Romans 11, Rev etc.

 

 

This age and the age to come are qualitatively different states of human and periods existence.

 

Here I am saying that this age does not evolve through natural or gradual process into the age that is to come, and here we turn primarily to Jesus' words found in Luke 20:34-36

 

Luke 20:34 And Jesus answered and said to them, "The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage. 35 "But those who are counted worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; 36 "nor can they die anymore, for they are equal to the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.

 

Having established the two age model, it is clear that when the Lord Jesus Christ says "that age" he is in fact referring to the age that is to come. The context of these words is the resurrection of the dead. In this passage we must notice the differences between these two ages.

 

1) In this age there is marriage, but in the age to come there is no giving in marriage

2) In this age there is death and dying, but in the age to come there is no death and no dying

3) In this age there is Natural man, but in the age to come there is resurrected man

4) In this age the righteous and the wicked coexist but in the age to come only the worthy exist.

 

So, these two ages that encompass this world and whole of eternity are qualitively very different states of existence for mankind.

 

The division between this age and the age that is to come

 

I have said that this age does not evolve into the age that is to come, and that they are radically different in many ways. Now if the bible is to bear out what I am saying we would expect the scriptures to be very clear on what separates these ages. Happily there is massive support in the New Testament for what we are saying. My proposition is that this age and the age that is to come are divided the resurrection and the judgement.

The resurrection is the door out of this age and into the age that is to come

 

Luke 20:35 "But those who are counted worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage;

 

Notice how Jesus equates the resurrection to attaining to the age that is to come in these words. According to the repeated (and uniform) testimony of scripture the resurrection occurs at the return of Christ. See for example;

 

1 Corinthians 15:22-23 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. 23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming.

 

1 Corinthians 15:50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed-- 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory1." 55 "O Death, where is your sting1? O Hades, where is your victory2?"

 

And

 

1 Thessalonians 4:16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.

 

So the resurrection, which occurs at the return of Jesus Christ delivers the Christian into the age that is to come.

 

The resurrection and judgement of the wicked occurs at the same time as the resurrection of the righteous.

 

Matthew 13:39 "The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. 40 "Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. 41 "The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, 42 "and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43 "Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!

 

The parable is clearly a reference to the resurrection of the righteous and the judgement of the wicked and it places these two events as happening at the same time. We can also look at;

 

Matthew 24:30 "Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 "And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

 

The perhaps the clearest of all passages of scripture in this regards is John 5:28-29

 

John 5:28 "Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice 29 "and come forth-- those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.

 

At this point we must emphasize again that we are working from the clearest texts of scripture that we can find, texts that the vast majority of believers agree should be taken in a very literal sense, by that I mean they are not obscure in their meaning, or to be read as allegory, or spiritualised, but rather the meaning is readily apparent on the surface of the text. This text is unambiguous and very clear. At the return of Jesus Christ (his second coming) the dead will rise, all the dead will rise, both those who have done good and those who have done evil.

 

Another clear text that confirms this to be the aces is found in 2 Thessalonians. 2 Thessalonians 1:6 since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, 7 and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, 8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, 10 when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe1, because our testimony among you was believed.

 

We receive eternal life in the age that is to come

 

Mark 10:30 "who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time-- houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions-- and in the age to come, eternal life.

 

This text is so clear it does not need comment from me. As Matt 25:31 & 46 make plain this occurs at Jesus' second coming.

 

The second coming brings this age to an end

 

Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.

 

In this age, Jesus has promised to be with in a spiritual sense (see matt 28:20) in Matt 28:20 Jesus Christ is very clear that he will cease to be with us spiritually at the end of this age, and as we look at the passage from Titus above we see that is because he will then be with us physically.

 

The last day

 

In John 6:39 we read "This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day." The last day of this age then is the return of Jesus Christ.

 

So the second coming (return) of the Lord Jesus Christ and the resurrection of the dead (both the righteous and the wicked that are simultaneous) conclude this age, and summon in the age that is to come. this age and the age that is to come are divided the resurrection and the judgement.

 

This age will always be an evil age

 

The basic character of this age will always be morally evil. The basic passages we have already examined from which we have drawn this model establish this. For example;

 

Luke 16:8 tells us that the sons of this age are evil "So the master commended the unjust steward because he had dealt shrewdly. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light.”

 

Romans 12:2 is Paul’s exhortation not to be conformed to this age “And do not be conformed to this world.”

 

Such passage as these present the post millennial with a problem as he has to fit his millennium in at the end of this age, however this age is always going to an evil age.

 

This age is in its last days

 

A number of the passages in which this two age in clearly defined also plainly convey the idea that this age in it’s last days already.

 

1 Corinthians 10:11 Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

 

In this verse Paul clearly states that his readers are the ones that the end of the ages (or this age) have come upon.

 

Hebrews 9:26 He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.

 

Since the first advent of Christ this age has been in its last days.

Now the next one is very important so I will deal with that in a separate post when I have the time to address it properly.

 

Conclusion

 

What we have here is a high level sweep of what we today amillenialism

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Hitch

 

Since the first advent of Christ this age has been in its last days.

That really doesnt make sense.  Actually it brings to mind the  ever elastic meaning of  'soon'  as applied by the  DF. 

 

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