Archive for April, 2019

April 28, 2019

Time, History and Eternity

The above graphic depicts an understanding of the phrases “this age” and “the age to come”, in their biblical/historical context. This understanding underlies the proper perception of our present situation, and affects our eschatological outlook. Satan is NOT “the god of this age” that we are in now. He was “the god of this age” when Paul wrote 2 Cor. 4:4; Gal. 1:4; Rom. 16:20, etc. Jesus crushed Satan’s head and bound him in the first century, cf. Matt. 12:29; Luke 10:18; Rev. 20:2; etc. Not to say that the evil one is not still active other than in wholesale deception of the nations the way he was before, but the Lord Jesus Christ is reigning now! cf. Ps. 2; Ps. 110; Dan. 7:13-14; 1Cor. 15:25; etc.

An “age” is a period of time. There is no other age that will follow the present age of Christ’s mediatorial reign (what the New Testament, written prior to the termination of the Old Covenant age with the destruction of the temple, refers to as “the age to come”). We are now in the final age of time and history, as the ascended Lord Jesus Christ reigns from on High and through His Spirit indwelling His people, living stones in the new living temple – His body. Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death (1 Cor. 15:24-26).

Premillennialists claim that there will be another age after Christ’s Second Coming, when He will reign upon the earth for 1,000 years prior to the final judgment, with a variety of flavors espousing a rebuilt temple, multiple resurrections, etc., etc. which is all patently unbiblical. An older version of postmillennialism taught that there will be a separate “golden age” in time and history after the present age and before the Second Coming; proponents of that view may have acquiesced to the lack of scriptural warrant for it.

Against “the age to come” as eternity

Ephesians 1:17-21:
…the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age (aion) but also in that which is to come.*
And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. (NKJV)

*Note: the age “which is to come” here can hardly refer to eternity without conflicting with 1 Corinthians 15:28:

Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.
For “He has put all things under His feet.” But when He says “all things are put under Him,” it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted.
28Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.

The Ephesians passage presents the ages in time/history; the passage in 1 Corinthians presents the end: eternity. Jesus’ ascension took place in what were the last days of “this age” for the writers New Testament. In this final age now present (the “age to come” for the N.T. writers), Jesus is reigning from on High and by His Spirit indwelling His people, living stones in a living temple, His body; (He also rules over the nations with a rod of iron). By contrast, in eternity, we shall eat and drink with Jesus Himself, as we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is! (1 John 3:2) cf. Matthew 26:29.

Paul wrote in the last days of the old covenant age when the temple was still standing. The “age to come”, which was then at hand, is fully here now: the gospel age, the “millennium” of the mediatorial reign of the King Jesus.

In those same last days of the old covenant age when the temple was still standing, shortly before He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; rose again from the dead; and ascended into heaven, Jesus said to the high priest: “I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.(Matt. 26:64) The hereafter our Lord foretold is the termination of the old covenant economy with the destruction of the temple in AD 70, the final end of that age, the outworking of AD 30 when Christ made the once-for-all sacrifice of Himself; which was also foretold by the angel Gabriel to the prophet Daniel:

“And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, and till the end of the war desolations are determined. Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; But in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, Even until the consummation*, which is determined, Is poured out on the desolate.” (Daniel 9:26-27)

*i.e. the consummation of the ages, the transition from the Jewish to the Christian: the mediatorial kingdom of the gospel age, the final age before the end, the millennial reign of the risen, ascended Lord Jesus Christ as written of in Ephesians 1.

(click to enlarge)

April 15, 2019

Pilgrimage

We are new creation pilgrims

The Bible divides time into 2 worlds (ages): “this age” and “the age to come”. They correspond with the Old and New Covenant ages. The New Testament was written during the “Last Days” of the Old Covenant age or what was then called “this age”.

That other expression in Matthew, “the consummation of the age,” is a phrase that has been much abused and widely misunderstood. The common translation, “end of the world,” has been a delusion to many readers of the English Bible. It has helped to perpetuate the unscriptural notion that the coming and kingdom of Christ are not facts of the past, present, and future, but of the future only. …

Those who maintain the doctrine, and, indeed, not a few who oppose it, fall into error and inconsistency by failing to apprehend the true meaning of the phrase “the end of the age.”

For, first of all, they do not determine clearly what age (αἰών) is contemplated in such a text as Matt. 24:3. They quite generally assume that the period of the Gospel dispensation is meant. But nothing is more familiar in the Jewish terminology of our Lord’s time than the current phrases עו̇לָם הַוֶּה and עו̇לָם הַבָּא, this age and the age to come. The period which preceded the coming of the Messiah was spoken of as this age; that which followed his coming was the age to come.

…by this age they meant and could mean nothing else than the current period in which they were living, the then present age. The question of the disciples, as recorded, could therefore only refer to the pre-Messianic age, and its consummation was, as we have seen, associated in their thought with the overthrow of the temple. But even were it admitted that their notion of “the consummation of the age” was erroneous, the teaching of Jesus was emphatic beyond all rational question that that generation should not pass away before all those things of which they inquired should be fulfilled.

The age to come, the Messianic time, would accordingly be the period that would follow immediately after the termination of the pre-Messianic age. That time had not yet come when Jesus spoke. According to the whole trend of New Testament teaching that age and the Messianic kingdom were near or at hand. Christ’s ministry fell in the last days of an αἰών. The gospel of his kingdom must be firmly established in the world before the end of that age. So we read, in Heb. 9:26: “Now, once, at the end of the ages (ἐπὶ συντελείᾳ τῶν αἰώνων) hath he been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” Also in Heb. 1:1, it is written: “God … hath at the last of these days spoken unto us in his Son.” Similarly Peter (1 Pet. 1:20) speaks of Christ as “foreknown before the foundation of the world, but manifested at the end of the times for your sake.” Paul, too, speaks of himself as living near the consummation of an age: “These things happened unto them by way of example; and they were written for our admonition upon whom the ends of the ages are come” (1 Cor. 10:11). The ministry both of Jesus and his disciples must, therefore, be recognized as occurring in the latter days of an αἰών, or near the end of the pre-Messianic age. The New Testament writers, as well as Jesus, are clear on this point. They never represent themselves as already entered upon the first days, or the beginning of the age, but rather in the last days.1

While Jesus’ first advent marked the beginning of the new covenant age (the “age to come”), the old covenant age (“this age”) was finally swept away when Jerusalem and its temple were destroyed. There was a period of 40 years (a generation) from AD 30 to AD 70 in which the two ages overlapped in transition. Those were the “last days”.

 

[1] Terry, M. S. (1898). Biblical Apocalyptics: A Study of the Most Notable Revelations of God and of Christ in the Canonical Scriptures (pp. 247–248). New York; Cincinnati: Eaton & Mains; Curts & Jennings.