03 November 2010

Two Ways We See Inaugurated Eschatology in the New Testament

Inaugurated eschatology--that is, all the hopes and dreams and promises of the Old Testament, which the Jews expected to happen on the final day at the end of history, have begun in the middle of history, in Christ. The future has been launched back into the present. Jesus is the 'firstfruits,' the new order of humanity, and in him the eschaton has arrived--not fully, but decisively.

1. One way we see this is the NT's referencing salvation not only in future but also in present terms.
The NT says we will be saved (Acts 15:11; Rom 10:9), but it also says that we have been saved (Rom 8:24; Eph 2:5, 8).

The NT says we will be adopted as God’s children (Rom 8:23), but it also says that we already have been adopted (1 John 3:1).

The NT we will be raised (2 Cor 4:14), but it also says that we already have been (Eph 2:6; Col 3:1). (And remember Gaffin's good word about what it means to be raised 'spiritually' in 1 Cor 15)
2. Another way we see inaugurated eschatology is by reflecting on the OT's eager anticipations, its neck-straining longings, its forward-leaning tilt.

From the perspective of the OT, many world-shaking events were to take place in the eschaton, in the last days. Here are a few of the things that the OT anticipates taking place at the end of history:

  • Messiah would come;
  • God's enemies would be defeated;
  • sin would be judged once and for all;
  • the nations would stream to Jerusalem;
  • the dead would be raised;
  • God's people would be vindicated;
  • and God's new-age kingdom would be ushered in.

I note: the NT teaches that every one of these things has happened.

  • Messiah has come (John 4:25-26);
  • God’s enemies were decisively 'triumphed over' at the cross (Col 2:13-14), and even the second Adam's exorcisms (driving demons out of people) were a middle-of-time execution of what Adam failed to do (driving a demon out of Eden);
  • sin was judged once and for all, at the cross--the cross was the end-time judgment on sin, all funneled down onto one man (Rom 5:9; 1 Thess 5:9);
  • the Gentiles are now gathered in as never before (Rom 15:8-27);
  • in Christ, the dead have been raised--Colossians and Ephesians say we have been 'raised with Christ';
  • God’s people have been vindicated--they have been justified (Rom 5:1)--the end-time declaration has been announced in the present;
  • and Jesus said that the kingdom is here (Mark 1:15).

1 comment:

Gary H. said...

Here's where Biblical Theology helps pull us up into glory! Thanks!