Living Between The Times. The Consummation of the Kingdom: Week
Observing the Stuff!
the Two Ages
We live in the tension of the two ages: this
Present Evil Age and the Age to Come. In his first coming, Jesus brought the
future into the present. We do not have to wait to experience the future at
some future date. We can experience the Kingdom now even in this Present Evil
Age. The death of Jesus on the cross made it possible for us to enter the Age
to Come now. In that event, believers have been transferred from the kingdom of
darkness to the Kingdom of God
1.13). This is good news. Believers can live the life of the Age to Come
now. When Paul speaks of being "in Christ," he is saying that believers can
experience the power and life of the Age to Come in their present reality
As we have said repeatedly, we live in this Present Evil Age but
with the life and power of the Age to Come. While the present experience of the
future Kingdom is only partial, it is real. The complete power of the Age to
Come will not be fully expressed at every moment while this evil age remains.
To complete the work that Jesus has already begun, the inauguration of the
Kingdom, he must return for the consummation of the Kingdom to occur.
The Consummation of the Kingdom (The Second
The following are the words the New Testament uses for the
event of the Second Coming. They are:
This word can be translated
Thess. 3.13) and arrival
Cor. 16.17). The word is often used in a semi technical sense of a visit of
a person who has a high rank, especially of emperors or kings who were visiting
their provinces. Jesus is pictured in the New Testament as seated at the right
hand of God in heaven. He will visit the earth again in person
1.11) at the close of the age
24.3). He will come in power and glory
24.27) to raise the dead in Christ
Cor. 15.23). He will gather his people
Thess. 2.1; see.
24.31) and destroy evil
This word is translated by
Thess. 1.7). It could also be translated unveiling or
disclosure. The Second Coming will disclose the Lordship of Jesus to the
2.10-11). His apokalypsis will be the revealing to the world of the
glory and power that are now his
This word is translated
Thess. 2.8). This word could be translated appearing and would
indicate the visibility of the return of Jesus. While largely limited to the
so-called Pastoral Letters, Paul used the word to tell the church at
Thessalonica that Jesus will slay the man of lawlessness by the breath of his
mouth and destroy him "by the epiphaneia of his parousia"
Thess. 2.8). The return of Jesus will not be secret or hidden, but will be
a visible breaking into history of the glory of God.
The Second Coming is the personal and visible return of the same
Jesus who departed as recorded by Luke in
1.11. The first time Jesus came, he brought the Kingdom of God and defeated
Satan. The second time he comes there will be a full restoration of the rule of
God in the world. The classic position found in the early church creeds such as
the Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed is different from the position taken
by modern dispensational theologians. Dispensational theology teaches that the
coming of Jesus will occur in two parts: the first, a secret rapture of the
church; the second, some seven years later. Often called pretribulational
dispensationalism, this view is espoused in the Scofield Reference Bible
and modern teachers like Hal Lindsey. Dr. John Walvoord, the former president
of Dallas Theological Seminary, admitted in his book The Rapture
Question (1957 first printing) that pretribulationism, a coming of Jesus
for the church before the great tribulation, is not explicitly taught in
Scripture. This admission which appeared in the first printing of the book in
1957 was deleted from later printings (Ladd. A Theology of the New
Testament. Revised. 602).
Catching Up (Rapture)
The most commonly
used term about the catching up of Christians at the Second Coming is rapture.
This event is described in
Thessalonians at 4.16-17. The catching up of believers is Paul's way of
expressing the sudden transformation of the living for the weak, corruptible
body of this physical order to the powerful, incorruptible body that belongs to
the new order of the Age to Come. It is the sign of passing from the level of
mortal existence to immortality (Ladd. TNT Revised Edition.
Another word is the day.
This expression takes several different forms, including the day of the
Lord, the day of the Lord Jesus, the day of the Lord Jesus
Christ, the day of Jesus Christ, the day of Christ, and
that day. In view of the fact that for Paul and the early Church the
exalted Christ is Lord
2:11), efforts to distinguish between the Day of the Lord and the
Day of Christ, (finding in them two different eschatological programs -
one for Israel and one for the Church) are misguided. They all refer to one
The Coming of Jesus is an event for all people. It will mean
either salvation or judgment, depending on one's relationship to Jesus.
Salvation is not just concerned with people; it also concerns the
transformation of the physical order. The coming of Jesus is a cosmic event in
which God, who has visited men already in the first coming of Jesus, will visit
them again as the glorified Christ. The goal of redemption is nothing less than
the establishment of God's Rule over all of creation.
Other Terms to
Rebellion The word is apostasy
and has been translated by some Dispensational Theologians as departing.
There is no support for such a translation in ancient literature. The word
usually means outright opposition to God. This is not a falling away as
has often been suggested as much as it is apathy toward God and his authority
The Man Of Lawlessness Revealed
usually understood as referring to the Antichrist. Here is an interesting
thought. If verse 1 means the rapture of the saints before the tribulation as
stated by John Walvoord in The Rapture Question (152), and in verse 2,
the day of the Lord is the second coming of Jesus, and the rebellion and man of
lawlessness are revealed during the tribulation when the church has already
been raptured, then Paul is telling the Thessalonians something they did not
really need to know because they would already be gone in the rapture.
Obviously, he is telling them something that they should observe has not
happened so they may be calmed about the report which they had received. Paul
leaves his readers with a description of the character of the Antichrist. The
spirit of Antichrist is always here
John 4.3). At the conclusion of this present evil age, all evil will be
embodied in one human being-the Antichrist. He will arrogate to himself all
authority both secular and sacred. He will demand total submission including
worship. His character is lawless. His destiny is to be doomed to destruction.
His activity will be to set himself up against God. I do not believe that Paul
is referring to a rebuilt temple. The temple had not yet been destroyed and the
word he uses is not the whole temple but the innermost shrine. He uses this
word later in his book to the Corinthians to mean the church
Cor. 3.16-17). It is a metaphorical way of expressing defiance to God by
The Coming of the Kingdom
When Jesus speaks
of consummation, he does so with symbols. The Gospel of Mark briefly describes
the end of this Present Evil Age and the Coming of the Kingdom. Jesus speaks
about this event in catastrophic language in which the whole cosmos will be
affected. Heavenly bodies contort like the sun darkening and the moon turning
to blood. We must remember that this is poetic language and is best understood
against an Old Testament background. Dr. Ladd suggests that these words in
13.24-25 are not meant to be taken in exacting literalism while at the same
time they do point forward to actual cosmic events. In the Old Testament this
language often suggests divine judgment is on the verge of occurring.
What Then Should We Do?
Several remarks of
Jesus could cause us to believe that the coming of the Kingdom is imminent
On the other hand, there are other sayings that indicate there is a delay
before the consummation will come
19.11). The tension between the impending and delayed coming of the Kingdom
is characteristic of Kingdom Theology. We live between the present and the not
yet. This uncertainty is often difficult for the Westerner to accept. We all
too often try to harmonize what should be left in tension. When we take one
side above the other, we emphasize one picture to the exclusion of the other.
We must understand biblical thought patterns in the historical context in which
they were given, rather than forcing them into our own modern analytical
It is clear. Jesus will return. It is not clear when that
moment will be. What are we to do? Be busy teaching the words and doing the
works of the Kingdom in this Present Evil Age.
Doin' the Stuff!
It is always important
to apply what you have learned. Pause at this point and ask for the help of the
Holy Spirit to meditate on and put into practice some or all of the following.
How does living in the tension between the ages affect
your day-to-day life? What are you not doing that you should do?
In what ways has Dispensational Theology, which espouses a
pretribulational rapture of the church, caused you to to live out your present
How does the consummation of the Kingdom drive you to
teach the words and do the works of Jesus? If they don't, why not?
What three things can you do this week to ensure that you
are giving away the Kingdom of God to those around you?
BibleHandbook: Resource Stuff
Read the following Dictionary Articles from Easton's Bible
Dictionary. Easton's is about a century old, therefore, some of the
information is not current with newer Bible Dictionaries. You might read the
articles off-line in a number of different Bible Dictionaries. If you do not
own a Bible Dictionary, I would recommend New Bible Dictionary 3rd Edition. If
you like lots of color pictures, try
Dictionary. One of these should suit your personal