Eschatology of the New Testament, VI-X

VI. The Resurrection.

The resurrection coincides with the parousia and the arrival of the future neon (Lu 20:35; Joh 6:40; 1Th 4:16). From 1 Thess 3:13; 4:16 it has been inferred that the dead rise before the descent of Christ from heaven is completed; the sounds described in the later passage are then interpreted as sounds accompanying the descent (compare Ex 19:16; Isa 27:13; Mt 24:31; 1Co 15:52; Heb 12:19; Re 10:7; 11:15; "the trump of God" = the great eschatological trumpet). The two words for the resurrection are egeirein, "to wake," and anistanai, "to raise," the latter less common in the active than in the intransitive sense.

1. Its Universality:

The New Testament teaches in some passages with sufficient clearness that all the dead will be raised, but the emphasis rests to such an extent on the soteriological aspect of the event, especially in Paul, where it is closely connected with the doctrine of the Spirit, that its reference to non-believers receives little notice. This was already partly so in the Old Testament Isa 26:19; Da 12:2). In the intervening Jewish literature the doctrine varies; sometimes a resurrection of the martyrs alone is taught (Enoch 90); sometimes of all the righteous dead of Israel (Psalms of Solomon 3:10 ff; Enoch 91 through 94.); sometimes of all the righteous and of some wicked Israelites (Enoch 1 through 36); sometimes of all the righteous and all the wicked (4 Ezra (2 Esdras) 5:45; 7:32; Apocrypha Baruch 42:8; 50:2). Josephus ascribes to the Pharisees the doctrine that only the righteous will share in the resurrection. It ought to be noticed that these apocalyptic writings which affirm the universality of the resurrection present the same phenomena as the New Testament, namely, that they contain passages which so exclusively reflect upon the resurrection in its bearing upon the destiny of the righteous as to create the appearance that no other resurrection was believed in. Among the Pharisees probably a diversity of opinion prevailed on this question, which Josephus will have obliterated. our Lord in His argument with the Sadducees proves only the resurrection of the pious, but does not exclude the other (Mr 12:26-27); "the resurrection of the just" in Lu 14:14 may suggest a twofold resurrection. It has been held that the phrase, he anastasis he ek nekron (Lu 20:35; Ac 4:2), always describes the resurrection of a limited number from among the dead, whereas he anastasisis ton nekron would be descriptive of a universal resurrection (Plummer, Commentary on Lu 20:35), but such a distinction breaks down before an examination of the passages.

The inference to the universality of the resurrection sometimes drawn from the universality of the judgment is scarcely valid, since the idea of a judgment of disembodied spirits is not inconceivable and actually occurs. On the other hand the punishment of the judged is explicitly affirmed to include the body (Mt 10:28). It cannot be proven that the term "resurrection" is ever in the New Testament eschatologically employed without reference to the body, of the quickening of the spirit simply (against, Fries, in ZNTW, 1900, 291 ff). The sense of our Lord's argument with the Sadducees does not require that the patriarchs were at the time of Moses in possession of the resurrection, but only that they were enjoying the covenant-life, which would in due time inevitably issue in the resurrection of their bodies. The resemblance (or "equality") to the angels (Mr 12:25) does not consist in the disembodied state, but in the absence of marriage and propagation. It has been suggested that Hebrews contains no direct evidence for a bodily resurrection (Charles, Eschatology, 361), but compare 11:22,35; 12:2; 13:20. The spiritualism of the epistle points, in connection with its Pauline type of teaching, to the conception of a pneumatic heavenly body, rather than to a disembodied state.

2. The Millennium:

The New Testament confines the event of the resurrection to a single epoch, and nowhere teaches, as chiliasm assumes, a resurrection in two stages, one, at the parousia, of saints or martyrs, and a second one at the close of the millennium. Although the doctrine of a temporary Messianic kingdom, preceding the consummation of the world, is of pre-Christian Jewish origin, it had not been developed in Judaism to the extent of assuming a repeated resurrection; the entire resurrection is always placed at the end. The passages to which this doctrine of a double resurrection appeals are chiefly Ac 3:19-21; 1Co 15:23-28; Php 3:9-11; 1Th 4:13-18; 2Th 1:5-12; Re 20:1-6. In the first-named passage Peter promises "seasons of refreshing," when Israel shall have repented and turned to God. The arrival of these coincides with the sending of the Christ to the Jews, i.e. with the parousia. It is argued that Peter in Ac 3:21, "whom the heavens must (present tense) receive until the times of restoration of all things," places after this coming of Jesus to His people a renewed withdrawal of the Lord into heaven, to be followed in turn, after a certain interval, by the restoration of all things. The "seasons of refreshing" would then constitute the millennium with Christ present among His people. While this interpretation is not grammatically impossible, there is no room for it in the general scheme of the Petrine eschatology, for the parousia of Christ is elsewhere represented as bringing not a provisional presence, but as bringing in the day of the Lord, the day of judgment (Ac 2:17-21). The correct view is that "the seasons of refreshing" and "the times of restoration of all things" are identical; the latter phrase relates to the prospects of Israel as well as the former, and should not be understood in the later technical sense. The present tense in Ac 3:21 "must receive" does not indicate that the reception of Christ into heaven still lies in the future, but formulates a fixed eschatological principle, namely, that after His first appearance the Christ must be withdrawn into heaven till the hour for the parousia has come.

In 1 Cor 15:23-28 two tagmata, "orders," of the resurrection are distinguished, and it is urged that these consist of "believers" and "non-believers." But there is no reflection here upon non-believers at all, the two "orders" are Christ, and they that are Christ's. "The end" in 15:24 is not the final stage in the resurrection, i.e. the resurrection of non-believers, but the end of the series of eschatological events. The kingdom of Christ which comes to a close with the end is not a kingdom beginning with the parousia, but dates from the exaltation of Christ; it is to Paul not future but already in operation.

In 1 Thess 4:13-18 the presupposition is not that the readers had worried about a possible exclusion of their dead from the provisional reign of Christ and from a first resurrection, but that they had sorrowed even as the Gentiles who have no hope whatever, i.e. they had doubted the fact of the resurrection as such. Paul accordingly gives them in 4:14 the general assurance that in the resurrection of Jesus that of believers is guaranteed. The verb "precede" in 4:15 does not imply that there was thought of precedence in the enjoyment of glory, but is only an emphatic way of affirming that the dead will not be one moment behind in inheriting with the living the blessedness of the parousia. In 4:17, "so shall we ever be with the Lord," the word "ever" excludes the conception of a provisional kingdom. 2Th 1:5-12 contains merely the general thought that sufferings and glory, persecution and the inheritance of the kingdom are linked together. There is nothing to show that this glory and kingdom are aught else but the final state, the kingdom of God (2Th 1:5).

In Php 3:9-11, it is claimed, Paul represents attainment to the resurrection as dependent on special effort on his part, therefore as something not in store for all believers. Since the general resurrection pertains to all, a special grace of resurrection must be meant, i.e. inclusion in the number of those to be raised at the parousia, at the opening of the millennial kingdom. The answer to this is, that it was quite possible to Paul to make the resurrection as such depend on the believer's progress in grace and conformity to Christ, seeing that it is not an event out of all relation to his spiritual development, but the climax of an organic process of transformation begun in this life. And in verse 20 the resurrection of all is joined to the parousia (compare for the Pauline passages Vos, "The Pauline Eschatology and Chiliasm,"PTR , 1911, 26-60).

The passage Re 20:1-6 at first sight much favors the conception of a millennial reign of Christ, participated in by the martyrs, brought to life in a first resurrection, and marked by a suspension of the activity of Satan. And it is urged that the sequence of visions places this millennium after the parousia of Christ narrated in Re 19:1-21. The question of historic sequence, however, is in Revelation difficult to decide. In other parts of the book the principle of "recapitulation," i.e. of cotemporaneousness of things successively depicted, seems to underlie the visions, and numbers are elsewhere in the book meant symbolically. These facts leave open the possibility that the thousand years are synchronous with the earlier developments recorded, and symbolically describe the state of glorified life enjoyed with Christ in heaven by the martyrs during the intermediate period preceding the parousia. The terms employed do not suggest an anticipated bodily resurrection. The seer speaks of "souls" which "lived" and "reigned," and finds in this the first resurrection. The scene of this life and reign is in heaven, where also the "souls" of the martyrs are beheld (Re 6:9). The words "this is the first resurrection" may be a pointed disavowal of a more realistic (chiliastic) interpretation of the same phrase. The symbolism of the thousand years consists in this, that it contrasts the glorious state of the martyrs on the one hand with the brief season of tribulation passed here on earth, and on the other hand with the eternal life of the consummation. The binding of Satan for this period marks the first eschatological conquest of Christ over the powers of evil, as distinguished from the renewed activity to be displayed by Satan toward the end in bringing up against the church still other forces not hitherto introduced into the conflict. In regard to a book so enigmatical, it were presumptuous to speak with any degree of dogmatism, but the uniform absence of the idea of the millennium from the eschatological teaching of the New Testament elsewhere ought to render the exegete cautious before affirming its presence here (compare Warfield, "The Millennium and the Apocalypse,"PTR , 1904, 599-617).

3. The Resurrection of Believers:

The resurrection of believers bears a twofold aspect. On the one hand it belongs to the forensic side of salvation. On the other hand it belongs to the pneumatic transforming side of the saving process. Of the former, traces appear only in the teaching of Jesus (Mt 5:9; 22:29-32; Lu 20:35-36). Paul clearly ascribes to the believer's resurrection a somewhat similar forensic significance as to that of Christ (Ro 8:10,23; 1Co 15:30-32,55-58). Far more prominent with him is, however, the other, the pneumatic interpretation. Both the origin of the resurrection life and the continuance of the resurrection state are dependent on the Spirit (Ro 8:1-39,10-11; 1Co 15:45-49; Ga 6:8). The resurrection is the climax of the believer's transformation (Ro 8:11; Ga 6:8). This part ascribed to the Spirit in the resurrection is not to be explained from what the Old Testament teaches about the Spirit as the source of physical life, for to this the New Testament hardly ever refers; it is rather to be explained as the correlate of the general Pauline principle that the Spirit is the determining factor of the heavenly state in the coming eon. This pneumatic character of the resurrection also links together the resurrection of Christ and that of the believer. This idea is not yet found in the Synoptics; it finds expression in Joh 5:22-29; 11:25; 14:6,19. In early apostolic teaching a trace of it may be found in Ac 4:2. With Paul it appears from the beginning as a well-established principle. The continuity between the working of the Spirit here and His part in the resurrection does not, however, lie in the body. The resurrection is not the culmination of a pneumatic change which the body in this life undergoes. There is no preformation of the spiritual body on earth. Ro 8:10-11; 1Co 15:49; 2Co 5:1-2; Php 3:12 positively exclude this, and 2Co 3:18; 4:7-18 do not require it. The glory into which believers are transformed through the beholding (or reflecting) of the glory of Christ as in a mirror is not a bodily but inward glory, produced by illumination of the gospel. And the manifestation of the life of Jesus in the body or in the mortal flesh refers to the preservation of bodily life in the midst of deadly perils. Equally without support is the view that at one time Paul placed the investiture with the new body immediately after death. It has been assumed that this, together with the view just criticized, marks the last stage in a protracted development of Paul's eschatological belief. The initial stage of this process is found in 1 Thessalonians: the resurrection is that of an earthly body. The next stage is represented by 1 Corinthians: the future body is pneumatic in character, although not to be received until the parousia. The third stage removes the inconsistency implied in the preceding position between the character of the body and the time of its reception, by placing the latter at the moment of death (2 Corinthians, Romans, Colossians), and by an extreme flight of faith the view is even approached that the resurrection body is in process of development now (Teichmann, Charles). This scheme has no real basis of fact. 1 Thessalonians does not teach an unpneumatic eschatology (compare 2Co 4:14,16). The second stage given is the only truly Pauline one, nor can it be shown that the apostle ever abandoned it. For the third position named finds no support in 2Co 5:1-10; Ro 8:19; Col 3:4. The exegesis of 2Co 5:1-10 is difficult and cannot here be given in detail. Our understanding of the main drift of the passage, put into paraphrase, is as follows: we feel assured of the eternal weight of glory (2Co 4:17), because we know that we shall receive, after our earthly tent-body shall have been dissolved (aorist subjunctive), a new body, a supernatural house for our spirit, to be possessed eternally in the heavens. A sure proof of this lies in the heightened form which our desire for this future state assumes. For it is not mere desire to obtain a new body, but specifically to obtain it as soon as possible, without an intervening period of nakedness, i.e. of a disembodied state of the spirit. Such would be possible, if it were given us to survive till the parousia, in which case we would be clothed upon with our habitation from heaven (= supernatural body), the old body not having to be put off first before the new can be put on, but the new body being superimposed upon the old, so that no "unclothing" would have to take place first, what is mortal simply being swallowed up of life (2Co 5:2,4). And we are justified in cherishing this supreme aspiration, since the ultimate goal set for us in any case, even if we should have to die first and to unclothe and then to put on the new body over the naked spirit, since the ultimate goal, I say, excludes under all circumstances a state of nakedness at the moment of the parousia (2Co 5:3). Since, then, such a new embodied state is our destiny in any event, we justly long for that mode of reaching it which involves least delay and least distress and avoids intermediate nakedness. (This on the reading in 2Co 5:3 of ei ge kai endusamenoi ou gumnoi heurethesometha. If the reading ei ge kai ekdusamenoi be adopted the rendering of 2Co 5:3 will have to be: "If so be that also having put off (i.e. having died), we shall not at the end be found naked." If eiper kai ekdusamenoi be chosen it will be: "Although even having put off (i.e. having died) we shall not at the end be found naked." These other readings do not materially alter the sense.) The understanding of the passage will be seen to rest on the pointed distinction between being "clothed upon," change at the parousia without death (2Co 5:2,4), to be "unclothed," loss of the body in death with nakedness resulting (2Co 5:4), and "being clothed," putting on of the new body after a state of nakedness (2Co 5:3). Interpreted as above, the passage expresses indeed the hope of an instantaneous endowment with the spiritual body immediately after this life, but only on the supposition that the end of this life will be at the parousia, not for the case that death should intervene before, which latter possibility is distinctly left open. In Ro 8:19 what will happen at the end to believers is called a "revealing of the sons of God," not because their new body existed previously, but because their status as sons of God existed before, and this status will be revealed through the bestowal upon them of the glorious body. Col 3:3,1 speaks of a "life .... hid with Christ in God," and of the "manifestation" of believers with Christ in glory at the parousia, but "life" does not imply bodily existence, and while the "manifestation" at the parousia presupposes the body, it does not imply that this body must have been acquired long before, as is the case with Christ's body. In conclusion it should be noted that there is ample evidence in the later epistles that Paul continued to expect the resurrection body at the parousia (2Co 5:10; Php 3:20-21).

4. The Resurrection-Body:

The main passage informing us as to the nature of the resurrection body is 1Co 15:35-58. The difficulty Paul here seeks to relieve does not concern the substance of the future body, but its kind (compare 1Co 15:35 "With what manner of body do they come?"). Not until 1Co 15:50 is the deeper question of difference in substance touched upon. The point of the figure of "sowing" is not that of identity of substance, but rather this, that the impossibility of forming a concrete conception of the resurrection body is no proof of its impossibility, because in all vegetable growth there appears a body totally unlike that which is sown, a body the nature and appearance of which are determined by the will of God. We have no right to press the figure in other directions, to solicit from it answers to other questions. That there is to be a real connection between the present and the future body is implied rather than directly affirmed. 1Co 15:36 shows that the distinction between the earthly body and a germ of life in it, to be entrusted with it to the grave and then quickened at the last day, does not lie in the apostle's mind, for what is sown is the body; it dies and is quickened in its entirety. Especially the turn given to the figure in 15:37--that of a naked grain putting on the plant as a garment--proves that it is neither intended nor adapted to give information on the degree of identity or link of continuity between the two bodies. The "bare grain" is the body, not the spirit, as some would have it (Teichmann), for it is said of the seed that it dies; which does not apply to the Pneuma (compare also 15:44). The fact is that in this entire discussion the subjective spirit of the believer remains entirely out of consideration; the matter is treated entirely from the standpoint of the body. So far as the Pneuma enters into it, it is the objective Spirit, the Spirit of Christ. As to the time of the sowing, some writers take the view that this corresponds to the entire earthly life, not to the moment of burial only (so already Calvin, recently Teichmann and Charles). In 15:42,43 there are points of contact for this, inasmuch as especially the three last predicates "in dishonor," "in weakness," "a natural body," seem more applicable to the living than to the dead body. At any rate, if the conception is thus widened, the act of burial is certainly included in the sowing. The objection arising from the difficulty of forming a conception of the resurrection body is further met in 15:39-41, where Paul argues from the multitude of bodily forms God has at His disposal. This thought is illustrated from the animal world (15:39); from the difference between the heavenly and the earthly bodies (15:40); from the difference existing among the heavenly bodies themselves (15:41). The structure of the argument is indicated by the interchange of two words for "other," allos and heteros, the former designating difference of species within the genus, the latter difference of genus, a distinction lost in the English version. In all this the reasoning revolves not around the substance of the bodies but around their kind, quality, appearance (sarx in 15:39 = soma, "body," not = "flesh"). The conclusion drawn is that the resurrection body will differ greatly in kind from the present body. It will be heteros, not merely allos. The points of difference are enumerated in 15:42,43. Four contrasts are named; the first three in each case appear to be the result of the fourth. The dominating antithesis is that between the soma psuchikon and the soma pneumatikon. Still Paul can scarcely mean to teach that "corruption," "dishonor," "weakness" are in the same sense necessary and natural results of the "psychical" character of the earthly body, as the corresponding opposites are necessary and natural concomitants of the pneumatic character of the resurrection body. The sequel shows that the "psychical body" was given man at creation, and according to 15:53 corruption and death go together, whereas death is not the result of creation but of the entrance of sin according to Paul's uniform teaching elsewhere. Hence, also the predicate sarkikos is avoided in 15:46,47, where the reference is to creation, for this word is always associated in Paul with sin. The connection, therefore, between the "natural (psychical, margin) body" and the abnormal attributes conjoined with it, will have to be so conceived, that in virtue of the former character, the body, though it need not of itself, yet will fall a prey to the latter when sin enters. In this lies also the explanation of the term "psychical body." This means a body in which the psuche, the natural soul, is the vitalizing principle, sufficient to support life, but not sufficient to that supernatural, heavenly plane, where it is forever immune to death and corruption. The question must be asked, however, why Paul goes back to the original state of man's body and does not content himself with contrasting the body in the state of sin and in the state of eternal life. The answer is found in the exigency of the argument. Paul wished to add to the argument for the possibility of a different body drawn from analogy, an argument drawn from the typical character of the original creation-body. The body of creation, on the principle of prefiguration, pointed already forward to a higher body to be received in the second stage of the world-process: `if there exists a psychical body, there exists also a pneumatic body' (15:44). The proof lies in Ge 2:7. Some think that Paul here adopts the Philonic doctrine of the creation of two men, and means 1Co 15:41Co 5:1-13b as a quotation from Ge 1:27. But the sequence is against this, for Paul's spiritual man appears on the scene last, not first, as in Philo. Nor can the statement have been meant as a correction of Philo's sequence, for Paul cannot have overlooked that, once a double creation were found in Ge 1:1-31 and Ge 2:1-25, then Philo's sequence was the only possible one, to correct which would have amounted to correcting Scripture. If Paul does here correct Philo, it must be in the sense that he rejects the entire Philonic exegesis, which found in Genesis a twofold creation (compare 1Co 11:7). Evidently for Paul, Ge 2:7 taken by itself contains the proof of his proposition, that there is both a psychical and a pneumatic body. Paul regarded the creation of the first Adam in a typical light. The first creation gave only the provisional form in which God's purpose with reference to man was embodied, and in so far looked forward to a higher embodiment of the same idea on a higher pneumatic plane (compare Ro 5:14): "The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is of heaven" (1Co 15:47); "of" or "from heaven" does not designate heavenly material, for even here, by not giving the opposite to choikos, "earthly," Paul avoided the question of substantiality. A "pneumatic" body is not, as many assume, a body made out of pneuma as a higher substance, for in that case Paul would have had pneumatikon ready at hand as the contrast to choikon. Only negatively the question of substance is touched upon in 1Co 15:50: "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God," but the apostle does not say what will take their place. Compare further, for the non-substantial meaning of pneumatikos, Ro 15:27; 1Co 9:11; 10:3,1; Eph 1:3; 5:19; 6:12; Col 1:9. The only positive thing which we learn in this direction is formal, namely, that the resurrection body of the believer will be the image of that of Christ (1Co 15:49).

VII. The Change of Those Living at the Parousia.

This is confined to believers. Of a change in the body of non-believers found living or raised at the parousia the New Testament nowhere speaks. The passages referring to this subject are 1Co 15:51-53; 2Co 5:1-5; Php 3:20-21. The second of these has already been discussed: it represents the change under the figure of a putting-on of the heavenly body over the earthly body, in result of which what is mortal is swallowed up so as to disappear by life. This representation starts with the new body by which the old body is absorbed. In 1 Cor 15 and Php 3:1-21, on the other hand, the point of departure is from the old body which is changed into a new. The difference between the resurrection and the charge of the living is brought out in 2Co 5:1-5 in the two figures of "putting on" and "putting on over" endusasthai and ependusasthai. Some exegetes find in 1Co 15:51-53 the description of a process kept in such general terms as to be equally applicable to those raised and to those transformed alive. If this be adopted it yields new evidence for the continuity between the present body and the resurrection body. Others, however, find here the expectation that Paul and his readers will "all" survive until the parousia, and be changed alive, in which case no light is thrown on the resurrection-process. The more plausible exegesis is that which joins the negative to "all" instead of to the verb, and makes Paul affirm that "not all" will die, but that all, whether dead or surviving, will be changed at the parousia; the difficulty of the exegesis is reflected in the early attempts to change the reading. In Php 3:20-21 there are no data to decide whether the apostle conceives of himself and his readers as living at the moment of the parousia or speaks generally so as to cover both possibilities.

VIII. The Judgment.

The judgment takes place on a "day" (Mt 7:22; 10:15; 24:36; Lu 10:12; 21:34; 1Co 1:8; 3:13; 2Ti 4:8; Re 6:17), but this rests on the Old Testament conception of "the day of Yahweh," and is not to be taken literally, whence also "hour" interchanges with "day" (Mr 13:32; Re 14:7). While not confined to an astronomical day the judgment is plainly represented as a definitely circumscribed transaction, not as an indefinite process. It coincides with its parousia. Of a judgment immediately after death, the New Testament nowhere speaks, not even in Heb 9:27-28. Its locality is the earth, as would seem to follow from its dependence on the parousia (Mt 13:41-42; Mr 13:26-27), although some infer from 1Th 4:17 that, so far as believers are concerned, it will take place in the air. But this passage does not speak of the judgment, only of the parousia and the meeting of believers with Christ. The judge is God (Mt 6:4,6,14,18; 10:28,32 ff = Lu 12:8 ff; Lu 21:36; Ac 10:42; 17:30-31; Ro 2:2-3,5,16; 14:10; 1Co 4:3-5; 5:13; Heb 12:25; 13:4; 1Pe 1:17; 2:23; Re 6:10; 14:7), but also Christ, not only in the great scene depicted in Mt 25:31-46, but also in Mr 8:38; 13:26 ff; Mt 7:22 = Lu 13:25-27; Ac 17:31; 2Co 5:10; Re 19:11, whence also the Old Testament conception of "the day of Yahweh" is changed into "the day of the Lord" (1Co 5:5; 2Co 1:14; 1Th 5:2; 2Pe 3:10). In the sense of the final assize the judgment does not in earlier Jewish eschatology belong to the functions of the Messiah, except in Enoch 51:3; 55:4; 61:8 ff; 62:1 ff; 63. Only in the later apocalypses the Messiah appears as judge (4 Ezra (2 Esdras) 13; Apocrypha Baruch 72:2 (compare Sibylline Oracles 3 286)). In the more realistic, less forensic, sense of an act of destruction, the judgment forms part of the Messiah's work from the outset, and is already assigned to Him by the Baptist and still more by Paul (Mt 3:10-11,12 = Lu 3:16-17; 2Th 2:8,10,12). The one representation passes over into the other. Jesus always claims for Himself the judgment in the strictly forensic sense. Already in His present state He exercises the right to forgive sin (Mr 2:5,10). In the Fourth Gospel, it is true, He denies that His present activity involves the task of judging (Joh 8:15; 12:47). That this, however, does not exclude His eschatological judgeship appears from Joh 5:22,27 (notice the article in Joh 5:22 "the whole judgment," which proves the reference to the last day). But even for the present, though not directly, yet indirectly by His appearance and message, Christ according to John effects a judgment among men (Joh 8:16; 9:39), which culminates in His passion and death, the judgment of the world and the Prince of the world (Joh 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). A share of the judgment is assigned to angels and to the saints (Mt 13:39,41,49; 16:27; 24:31; 25:31; 1Th 3:13; 2Th 1:7; Jude 1:14 f). In regard to the angels this is purely ministerial; of believers it is affirmed only in 1Co 6:1-3 that they will have something to do with the act of judgment itself; passages like Mt 19:28; 20:23; Lu 22:30; Re 3:21 do not refer to the judgment proper, but to judging in the sense of "reigning," and promise certain saints a preeminent position in the kingdom of glory. The judgment extends to all men, Tyre, Sidon, Sodom, as well as the Galilean cities (Mt 11:22,24); all nations (Mt 25:32; Joh 5:29; Ac 17:30-31; Ro 2:6,16; 2Co 5:10). It also includes the evil spirits (1Co 6:3; 2Pe 2:4; Jude 1:6). It is a judgment according to works, and that not only in the case of non-believers; of believers also the works will come under consideration (Mt 25:34 ff; 1Co 4:5; 2Co 5:10; Re 22:12). Side by side with this, however, it is taught already in the Synoptics that the decisive factor will be the acknowledgment of individuals by Jesus, which in turn depends upon the attitude assumed by them toward Jesus here, directly or indirectly (Mt 7:23; 19:28; 25:35-45; Mr 8:38). By Paul the principle of judgment according to works is upheld, not merely hypothetically as a principle preceding and underlying every soteriological treatment of man by God (Ro 2:1-29), and therefore applying to non-Christians for whose judgment no other standard is available, but also as remaining in force for Christians, who have already, under the soteriological regime of grace, received absolute, eternal acquittal in justification. This raises a twofold problem: (a) why justification does not render a last judgment superfluous; (b) why the last judgment in case of Christians saved by grace should be based on works. In regard to (a) it ought to be remembered that the last judgment differs from justification in that it is not a private transaction in foro conscientiae, but public, in foro mundi. Hence, Paul emphasizes this element of publicity (Ro 2:16; 1Co 3:13; 2Co 5:10). It is in accordance with this that God the Father is always the author of justification, whereas as a rule Christ is represented as presiding at the assize of the last day. As to (b), because the last judgment is not a mere private but a public transaction, something more must be taken into account than that on which the individual eternal destiny may hinge. There can be disapproval of works and yet salvation (1Co 3:15). But the trial of works is necessary for the sake of the vindication of God. In order to be a true theodicy the judgment must publicly exhibit and announce the complete overthrow of sin in man, and the complete working out in him of the idea of righteousness, including not merely his acquittal from the guilt, but also his deliverance from the power, of sin, not merely his imputed righteousness, but also his righteousness of life. In order to demonstrate this comprehensively, the judgment will have to take into account three things: faith (Ga 5:5), works done in the Christian state, sanctification. Besides this the works of the Christian appear as the measure of gracious reward (Mt 5:12,46; 6:1; 10:41-42; 19:28; 20:1-16; 25:14-45; Mr 9:41; Lu 6:23,15; 1Co 3:8,14; 9:17-18; Col 2:18; 3:24; Heb 10:35). These works, however, are not mechanically or commercially appraised, as in Judaism, for Paul speaks by preference of "work" in the singular (Ro 2:7,15; 1Co 3:13; 9:1; Ga 6:4; Eph 4:12; Php 1:6,22; 1Th 1:3; 2Th 1:11). And this one organic product of "work" is traced back to the root of faith (1Th 1:3; 2Th 1:11 where the genitive pisteos is a gen. of origin), and Paul speaks as a rule not of poiein but of prassein, i.e. of the practice, the systematic doing, of that which is good.

The judgment assigns to each individual his eternal destiny, which is absolute in its character either of blessedness or of punishment, though admittedly of degrees within these two states. Only two groups are recognized, those of the condemned and of the saved (Mt 25:33,14; Joh 5:29); no intermediate group with as yet undetermined destiny anywhere appears. The degree of guilt is fixed according to the knowledge of the Divine will possessed in life (Mt 10:15; 11:20-24; Lu 10:12-15; 12:47-48; Joh 15:22,24; Ro 2:12; 2Pe 2:20-22). The uniform representation is that the judgment has reference to what has been done in the embodied state of this life; nowhere is there any reflection upon the conduct or product of the intermediate state as contributing to the decision (2Co 5:10). The state assigned is of endless duration, hence described as aionios, "eternal." While this adjective etymologically need mean no more than "what extends through a certain eon or period of time," yet its eschatological usage correlates it everywhere with the "coming age," and, this age being endless in duration, every state or destiny connected with it partakes of the same character. It is therefore exegetically impossible to give a relative sense to such phrases as pur aionion, "eternal fire" (Mt 18:8; 25:41; Jude 1:7), kolasis aionios, "eternal punishment" (Mt 25:46),olethros aionios, "eternal destruction" (2Th 1:9), krisis aionios or krima aionion, "eternal judgment" (Mr 3:29; Heb 6:2). This is also shown by the figurative representations which unfold the import of the adjective: the "unquenchable fire" (Mt 3:12), "the never-dying worm" (Mr 9:43-48), "The smoke of their torment goeth up for ever and ever" (Re 14:11), "tormented day and night forever and ever" (Re 20:10). The endless duration of the state of punishment is also required by the absolute eternity of its counterpart, zoe aionios, "eternal life" (Mt 25:46). In support of the doctrine of conditional immortality it has been urged that other terms descriptive of the fate of the condemned, such as apoleia, "perdition," phthora, "corruption," olethros, "destruction," thanatos, "death," point rather to a cessation of being. This, however, rests on an unscriptural interpretation of these terms, which everywhere in the Old Testament and the New Testament designate a state of existence with an undesirable content, never the pure negation of existence, just as "life" in Scripture describes a positive mode of being, never mere existence as such. Perdition, corruption, destruction, death, are predicated in all such cases of the welfare or the ethical spiritual character of man, without implying the annihilation of his physical existence. No more support can be found in the New Testament for the hypothesis of an apokatastasis panton, "restoration of all things," i.e. absolute universalism implying the ultimate salvation of all men. The phrase occurs only in Ac 3:21, where, however, it has no cosmical reference but relates to the fulfillment of the promises to Israel. Josephus uses it of the restoration of the Jews to their land after the Captivity, Philo of the restoration of inheritances in the year of jubilee (compare Mal 4:6; Mt 17:11; Mr 9:12; Ac 1:6). Absolute universalism has been found in Ro 5:18; 1Co 15:22,28; Eph 1:10; Col 1:20, but in all these passages only a cosmical or national universalism can be found, not the doctrine of the salvation of all individuals, which latter would bring the statements in question in direct contradiction to the most explicit deliverances of Paul elsewhere on the principle of predestination and the eternity of the destiny of the wicked.

IX. The Consummate State.

Side by side with "the future age," and characterizing it from a less formal point of view, the phrase "kingdom of God" designates the consummate state, as it will exist for believers after the judgment. Jesus, while making the kingdom a present reality, yet continues to speak of it in accordance with its original eschatological usage as "the kingdom" which lies in the future (Mt 13:43; 25:34; 26:29; Mr 9:47; Lu 12:32; 13:28-29; 21:31). With Paul the phrase bears preponderatingly an eschatological sense, although occasionally he uses it of the present state of believers (Ro 14:17; 1Co 4:20; 6:9-10; 15:24,50; Ga 5:21; Eph 5:5; Col 1:13; 4:11; 1Th 2:12; 2Th 1:5; 2Ti 4:1,18). Elsewhere in the New Testament the eschatological use occurs in Heb 12:28; Jas 2:5; 2Pe 1:11; Re 11:15. The idea is universalistic, unpolitical, which does not exclude that certain privileges are spoken of with special reference to Israel. Although the eschatological kingdom differs from the present kingdom largely in the fact that it will receive an external, visible embodiment, yet this does not hinder that even in it the core is constituted by those spiritual realities and relations which make the present kingdom. Still it will have its outward form as the doctrine of the resurrection and the regenerated earth plainly show. Hence, the figures in which Jesus speaks of it, such as eating, drinking, reclining at table, while not to be taken sensually, should not on the other hand be interpreted allegorically, as if they stood for wholly internal spiritual processes: they evidently point to, or at least include, outward states and activities, of which our life in the senses offers some analogy, but on a higher plane of which it is at present impossible to form any concrete conception or to speak otherwise than in figurative language. Equivalent to "the kingdom" is "life." But, unlike the kingdom, "life" remains in the Synoptics an exclusively eschatological conception. It is objectively conceived: the state of blessedness the saints will exist in; not subjectively as a potency in man or a process of development (Mt 7:14; 18:8-9; 19:16,29; 25:46; Mr 10:30). In John "life" becomes a present state, and in connection with this the idea is subjectivized, it becomes a process of growth and expansion. Points of contact for this in the Synoptics may be found in Mt 8:22 (= Lu 9:60); Lu 15:24; 20:38. When this eschatological life is characterized as aionios, "eternal," the reference is not exclusively to its eternal duration, but the word has, in addition to this, a qualitative connotation; it describes the kind of life that belongs to the consummate state (compare the use of the adjective with other nouns in this sense: 2Co 5:1; 2Ti 2:10; Heb 5:9; 9:12,15; 2Pe 1:11, and the unfolding of the content of the idea in 1Pe 1:4). With Paul "life" has sometimes the same eschatological sense (Ro 2:7; 5:17; Tit 1:2; 3:7), but most often it is conceived as already given in the present state, owing to the close association with the Spirit (Ro 6:11; 7:4,8,11; 8:2,6; Ga 2:19; 6:8; Eph 4:18). In its ultimate analysis the Pauline conception of "life," as well as that of Jesus, is that of something dependent on communion with God (Mt 22:32 = Mr 12:27 = Lu 20:38; Ro 8:6-7; Eph 4:18). Another Pauline conception associated with the consummate state is that of doxa, "glory." This glory is everywhere conceived as a reflection of the glory of God, and it is this that to the mind of Paul gives it religious value, not the external radiance in which it may manifest itself as such. Hence, the element of "honor" conjoined to it (Ro 1:23; 2:7; 8:21; 9:23; 1Co 15:43). It is not confined to the physical sphere (2Co 3:18; 4:16-17). The outward doxa is prized by Paul as a vehicle of revelation, an exponent of the inward state of acceptance with God. In general Paul conceives of the final state after a highly theocentric fashion (1Co 15:28); it is the state of immediate vision of and perfect communion with God and Christ; the future life alone can bring the perfected sonship (Ro 6:10; 8:23,19; compare Lu 20:36; 2Co 4:4; 5:6-7,8; 13:4; Php 1:23; Col 2:13; 3:3,1; 1Th 4:17).

The scene of the consummate state is the new heaven and the new earth, which are called into being by the eschatological palingenesia "regeneration" (Mt 5:18; 19:28; 24:35; 1Co 7:31; Heb 1:12; 12:26-27; 2Pe 3:10; 1Jo 2:17; Re 21:1, in which last passage, however, some exegetes understand the city to be a symbol of the church, the people of God). An annihilation of the substance of the present world is not taught (compare the comparison of the future world-conflagration with the Deluge in 2Pe 3:6). The central abode of the redeemed will be in heaven, although the renewed earth will remain accessible to them and a part of the inheritance (Mt 5:5; Joh 14:2-3; Ro 8:18-22; and the closing visions of the Apocalypse).

X. The Intermediate State.

In regard to the state of the dead, previously to the parousia and the resurrection, the New Testament is far less explicit than in its treatment of what belongs to general eschatology. The following points may here briefly be noted:

(1) The state of death is frequently represented as a "sleeping," just as the act of dying as a "falling asleep" (Mt 9:24; Joh 9:4; 11:11; 1Co 7:39; 11:30; 15:6,18,20,51; 1Th 4:13,15; 2Pe 3:4). This usage, while also purely Greek, rests on the Old Testament. There is this difference, that in the New Testament (already in the apocryphal and pseudepigraphical books) the conception is chiefly used with reference to the righteous dead, and has associated with it the thought of their blessed awaking in the resurrection, whereas in the Old Testament it is indiscriminately applied to all the dead and without such connotation. With Paul the word always occurs of believers. The representation applies not to the "soul" or "spirit," so that a state of unconsciousness until the resurrection would be implied. It is predicated of the person, and the point of comparison is that as one who sleeps is not alive to his surroundings, so the dead are no longer en rapport with this earthly life. Whatever may have been the original implications of the word, it plainly had become long before the New Testament period a figurative mode of speech, just as egeirein, "to wake," was felt to be a figurative designation of the act of the resurrection. Because the dead are asleep to our earthly life, which is mediated through the body, it does not follow that they are asleep in every other relation, asleep to the life of the other world, that their spirits are unconscious. Against the unconsciousness of the dead compare Lu 16:23; 23:43; Joh 11:25-26; Ac 7:59; 1Co 15:8; Php 1:23; Re 6:9-11; 7:9. Some have held that the sleep was for Paul a euphemism employed in order to avoid the terms "death" and "to die," which the apostle restricted to Christ. 1 Thess 4:16 shows that this is unfounded.

(2) The New Testament speaks of the departed after an anthropomorphic fashion as though they were still possessed of bodily organs (Lu 16:23,14; Re 6:11; 7:9). That no inference can be drawn from this in favor of the hypothesis of an intermediate body appears from the fact that God and angels are spoken of in the same manner, and also from passages which more precisely refer to the dead as "souls," "spirits" (Lu 23:46; Ac 7:59; Heb 12:23; 1Pe 3:19; Re 6:9; 20:4).

(3) The New Testament nowhere encourages the living to seek converse with the dead. Its representation of the dead as "sleeping" with reference to the earthly life distinctly implies that such converse would be abnormal and in so far discountenances it, without explicitly affirming its absolute impossibility. Not even the possibility of the dead for their part taking knowledge of our earthly life is affirmed anywhere. Heb 12:1 does not necessarily represent the Old Testament saints as "witnesses" of our race of faith in the sense of spectators in the literal sense, but perhaps in the figurative sense, that we ought to feel, having in memory their example, as if the ages of the past and their historic figures were looking down upon us (Lu 16:29; Ac 8:9; 13:6 ff; Ac 19:13 ff).

(4) As to the departed saints themselves, it is intimated that they have mutual knowledge of one another in the intermediate state, together with memory of facts and conditions of the earthly life (Lu 16:9,19-31). Nowhere, however, is it intimated that this interest of the departed saints in our earthly affairs normally expresses itself in any act of intercession, not even of intercession spontaneously proffered on their part.

(5) The New Testament does not teach that there is any possibility of a fundamental change in moral or spiritual character in the intermediate state. The doctrine of a so-called "second probation" finds in it no real support. The only passages that can with some semblance of warrant be appealed to in this connection are 1Pe 3:19-21 and 1Pe 4:6. For the exegesis of the former passage, which is difficult and much disputed, compare SPIRITS IN PRISON. Here it may simply be noted that the context is not favorable to the view that an extension of the opportunity of conversion beyond death is implied; the purport of the whole passage points in the opposite direction, the salvation of the exceedingly small number of eight of the generation of Noah being emphasized (1Pe 3:20). Besides this it would be difficult to understand why this exceptional opportunity should have been granted to this peculiar group of the dead, since the contemporaries of Noah figure in Scripture as examples of extreme wickedness. Even if the idea of a gospel-preaching with soteriological purpose were actually found here, it would not furnish an adequate basis for building upon it the broad hypothesis of a second probation for all the dead in general or for those who have not heard the gospel in this life. This latter view the passage is especially ill fitted to support, because the generation of Noah had had the gospel preached to them before death. There is no intimation that the transaction spoken of was repeated or continued indefinitely. As to the second passage (1Pe 4:6), this must be taken by itself and in connection with its own context. The assumption that the sentence "the gospel (was) preached even to the dead" must have its meaning determined by the earlier passage in 1Pe 3:19-21, has exercised an unfortunate influence upon the exegesis. Possibly the two passages had no connection in the mind of the author. For explaining the reference to "the dead" the connection with the preceding verse is fully sufficient. It is there stated that Christ is "ready to judge the living and the dead." "The living and the dead" are those who will be alive and dead at the parousia. To both the gospel was preached, that Christ might be the judge of both. But that the gospel was preached to the latter in the state of death is in no way indicated. On the contrary the telic clause, "that they might be judged according to men in the flesh," shows that they heard the gospel during their lifetime, for the judgment according to men in the flesh that has befallen them is the judgment of physical death. If a close connection between the passage in 1Pe 3:1-22 and that in chapter 4 did exist, this could only serve to commend the exegesis which finds in the earlier passage a gospel-preaching to the contemporaries of Noah during their lifetime, since, on that view, it becomes natural to identify the judgment in the flesh with the Deluge.

(6) The New Testament, while representing the state of the dead before the parousia as definitely fixed, nevertheless does not identify it, either in degree of blessedness or punishment, with the final state which follows upon the resurrection. Although there is no warrant for affirming that the state of death is regarded as for believers a positively painful condition, as has been mistakenly inferred from 1Co 11:30; 1Th 4:13, nevertheless Paul shrinks from it as from a relatively undesirable state, since it involves "nakedness" for the soul, which condition, however, does not exclude a relatively high degree of blessedness in fellowship with Christ (2Co 5:2-4,6,8; Php 1:23). In the same manner a difference in the degree or mode of punishment between the intermediate state and the age to come is plainly taught. For on the one hand the eternal punishment is related to persons in the body (Mt 10:28), and on the other hand it is assigned to a distinct place, Gehenna, which is never named in connection with the torment of the intermediate state. This term occurs in Mt 5:22,29-30; 10:28 = Lu 12:5; 18:9; 23:33; Mr 9:43,15,47; Jas 3:6. Its opposite is the eschatological kingdom of God (Mr 9:47). The term abussos differs from it in that it is associated with the torment of evil spirits (Lu 8:31; Ro 10:7; Re 9:1-2; 11:7; 20:1), and in regard to it no such clear distinction between a preliminary and final punishment seems to be drawn (compare also the verb tartaroun, "to bind in Tartarus"; of evil spirits in 2Pe 2:4). Where the sphere of the intermediate state is locally conceived, this is done by means of the term Hades, which is the equivalent of the Old Testament She'ol. The passages where this occurs are Mt 11:23; 16:18; Lu 16:23; Ac 2:27,31; 1Co 15:55 (where others read "death"); Re 1:18; 6:8; 20:13-14). These passages should not be interpreted on the basis of the Greek classical usage, but in the light of the Old Testament doctrine about She'ol. Some of them plainly employ the word in the non-local sense of the state of death (Mt 16:18; possibly Ac 2:27,31; 1Co 15:55 (personified); Re 1:18; 6:8 (personified); Re 20:13 (personified)). The only passage where the conception is local is Lu 16:23, and this occurs in a parable, where aside from the central point in comparison, no purpose to impart topographical knowledge concerning the world beyond death can be assumed, but the imagery is simply that which was popularly current. But, even if the doctrine of Hades as a place distinct from Gehenna should be found here, the terms in which it is spoken of, as place of torment for Dives, prove that the conception is not that of a general abode of neutral character, where without blessedness or pain the dead as a joint-company await the last judgment, which would first assign them to their separate eternal habitations. The parable plainly teaches, whether Hades be local and distinct from Gehenna or not, that the differentiation between blessedness and punishment in its absolute character (Lu 16:26) is begun in it and does not first originate at the judgment (see further, HADES).


Besides the articles on the several topics in the Bible Dictionaries and in Cremer's Lexicon of New Testament Greek, and the corresponding chapters in the handbooks on New Testament Theology, the following works and articles may be consulted: Bousset, Die Religion des Judenthums2, 1906, especially 233-346; id, Der Antichrist in der Ueberlieferung des Judenthums, des New Testament und der alten Kirche, 1895; Bruston, La vie future d'apres Paul, 1895; Charles, Eschatology Hebrew, Jewish and Christian: A Critical History of the Doctrine of a Future Life, 1899; Cremer, Ueber den Zustand nach dem Tode3, 1892; Grimm, "Ueber die Stelle 1 Kor 15:20-28," ZWT, 1873; Haupt, Die eschatologischen Aussagen Jesu in den synoptischen Evangelien, 1895; Kabisch, Eschatologie des Paulus in ihren Zusammenhangen mit dem Gesamtbegriff des Paulinismus, 1893; Kennedy, Paul's Conceptions of the Last Things, 1904; Kliefoth, Christliche Eschatologie, 1886; Klopper, "Zur Paulinischen Lehre von der Auferstehung: Auslegung von 2 Kor 5:1-6," JDT, 1862 (the author modified his views in his commentary on 2 Cor); Kostlin, "Die Lehre des Apostels Paulus von der Auferstehung," JDT, 1877; Luthardt, Lehre von den letzten Dingen3, 1885; Muirhead, The Eschatology of Jesus, 1904; Oesterley, The Doctrine of the Last Things, 1908; Philippi, Die biblische und kirchliche Lehre vom Antichrist, 1877; Rinck, Vom Zustande nach dem Tode, 1885; Salmond, The Christian Doctrine of Immortality5, 1901; Schwally, Das Leben nach dem Tode, 1892; Sharman, The Teaching of Jesus about the Future According to the Synoptic Gospels, 1909; Stahelin, "Zur Paulinischen Eschatologie," JDT, 1874; Teichmann, Die Paulinischen Vorstellungen von Auferstehung und Gericht, 1896; Volz, Judische Eschatologie von Daniel bis Akiba, 1903; Waitz, "Ueber 2 Kor 5:1-4," JPT, 1882; Wetzel, "Ueber 2 Kor 5:1-4," SK, 1886; Wendt, Die Begriffe Fleisch und Geist im biblischen Sprachgebrauch, 1878.

Geerhardus Vos

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