God’s Comprehensive Law – r

They sang the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, “Great and marvelous are your works, Jehovah God, the Almighty! Righteous and true are your ways, you King of the nations. — Revelation 15:3 — RLIV

(1) JEHOVAH’S wisdom, love and justice decide on what is best, and that decision is His will or law. But, strictly speaking, only so much of God’s will as He expresses to His creatures is law to them. Hence, while His laws never conflict, they may be more or less fully and differently expressed on one occasion than on another. Thus, while the law was given to Adam not to eat of a forbidden fruit (Genesis 2:16,17), we are not under any such law. And to Noah a command was given to build an ark (Genesis 6:14-7:1), we today are not given such a command.

(2) All of God’s intelligent creatures are under instruction, being taught those laws which his infinite love, wisdom and justice have enacted for the well-being of all. Though created perfect, each in his plane of being, yet they all lack that scope of knowledge and wisdom which belongs in full measure to the divine nature only. They all lack experience; hence, in giving them instruction in the wisdom and propriety of his laws, it has pleased Jehovah to make an illustration which would manifest and practically exemplify his own nature and demonstrate to his creatures the wisdom and righteousness of his laws.

(3) It is evident that the spirit of his law is not to take advantage of some transgressive slip, occasioned by lack of experience on the part of his creatures, but that he intends it to apply to the thoughts and intents of the hearts. That this is the real intent of God, we shall see illustrated by his dealings with those who have from lack of knowledge become sinners.

(4) His law in full, as we now see it in the light of his Word, is, “You must love Jehovah your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind,” and “your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37,38) Jesus stated: “The whole law and the prophets hangs on these two commandments.” God had given to Israel a covenant, often called the “Law Covenant”, and the penalty attached to the slightest deviation from that law is, “The soul who sins, he will die.” (Ezekiel 18:4) As applied in the final judgment, this principle would mean that no being will be permitted to continue to live, who, when fully informed of God’s righteous will, and enabled to obey it, refuses to conform to Jehovah’s will. All such will be cut off from life. Nevertheless, the same prinicple of law existed before God made his covenant with the children of Israel, for Adam was to either prove or fail to prove his love for his Creator by his obedience or disobedience.

(5) To fully exemplify this law, God caused man to be used as an illustration before this extreme penalty was placed upon the angels. So man was placed under the extreme penalty of his law — death. God knew that through inexperience man would violate that law and come under its penalty; but he purposed to make an illustration to all his creatures of the exceeding sinfulness of sin and its sure consequences, while at the same time his love and wisdom so marked out the plan, that mankind, the illustration, might not suffer loss, but be blessed by the lesson as learned. — Romans 7:13; Genesis 22:18; Isaiah 29:18,19; Jeremiah 16:61-63.

(6) Nor should we forget that God’s dealing with man was perfectly just. He had a right to demand perfect obedience from a perfect creature; and the fact that he at first did not inflict death upon the angels was a favor toward them; even as toward man he has displayed his favor also, though in a different manner — through a ransom, and Savior, and restitution, and future trial for life, more favorable than the first, because of the knowledge of sin and its effects, meanwhile acquired by experience. (See our publication: Mankind’s Course to the Day of Judgment) This was a masterly stroke of wise economy on God’s part; for had the death penalty been pronounced on the angels who sinned, a redeemer of their own kind would have been necessary for their recovery; and not only one, but many — one redeemer for each transgressor; for they were legion and were individually on trial; and the requirement of God’s law is, Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, life for life.

(7) Let us briefly view the exhibition of God’s character as displayed in his dealing toward mankind whom he made a spectacle to angels. (1 Corinthians 4:9) In so doing, let us guard against the common error which would judge God’s actions exactly as our own. Let us remember that justice, love, wisdom and power, as commonly displayed by the fallen race, in dealing with each other, and by human parents with their children, are far from perfect. In our first parents those qualities were perfect: they were in the image of Jehovah; but in our experience, in consequence of the fall, these qualities are constantly at war with each other. Sometimes love has a victory over justice, and sometimes justice has a victory over love.

(8) But with Jehovah there can be no conflict; and neither ever gains a victory or ascendancy over the other. Both are perfect, and work only in perfect harmony.

(9) Before man was created, the Justice, Wisdom, Love and Power of God held conference on the subject, and devised the plan which has since then been developing. The plan was suggested by Wisdom and concurred in by the other attributes; the arrangement and execution of it being left in Wisdom’s hands.

(10) Wisdom designed to have the largest returns from the experience of man, and the most valuable illustration of God’s character to all his creatures, on every plane of being. Accordingly Wisdom said, Let the man come under the control of Justice, Love and Power, separately, that the force and operation of each may be the more forcibly illustrated. Let Justice first have complete control, let men be dealt with by the strict law, “You must not” –. “In the day that you eat…dying you will die.” And it was so.

(11) Man, inexperienced and unused to self-control and liberty, violated the law, and experienced the full weight of Justice, as Wisdom had foreseen and prepared for.

(12) The lesson under Justice has been long and severe, but the lesson must be thorough, so that it shall never need repeating. Men and angels must learn that Justice is relentless, irrevocable and unalterable. Then, too, before it could be realized that the remedy for man lay only in Jehovah and nowhere else, an opportunity was offered for the trial of other methods for man’s recovery. First, the angels were given rulership (during the age before the flood), and made a miserable failure; for, while man became more and more corrupt himself, his evil influence led to the fall of some of those who attempted his assistance — “those angels who did not keep their first estate.” — Jude 6

(13) With the deluge that order of affairs passed away. Then, under the Law Covenant, given to one selected nation, another and different opportunity was presented, to prove to man that even if God should cancel all enmity, or resentment, and receive the world into covenant relations, they would require a Restorer, so that they could continue in harmony with God, even after being forgiven. Hence sacrifices and offerings for sin were instituted, and God treated that nation as though original sin and guilt had been removed, and then placed them under laws to prove to them, to us and to all, their inability (as degenerate creatures) to keep his law without a restitution to perfection — to his likeness. — See How God’s Son Condemned Sin in the Flesh.

(14) Meanwhile Love stood ready to manifest itself at the moment Wisdom should give the word. Love would have done so at once, but for two reasons: First, it could not oppose or interfere with the action of Justice in condemning man and delivering him over for the execution of the prescribed penalty. Second: though Love might have acknowledged Justice and approved its action by promptly providing a ransom (an equivalent price), Wisdom objected and did not permit this course at that time, because it saw best to make the lesson complete and thorough.

(15) Hence for over four thousand years Love was not permitted to manifest itself, and might only speak in shadowy sacrifices and ceremonies, and more or less obscure promises. But, finally, when the right time had come, “in due time,” “in the fulness of time,” Wisdom gave the word, and Love began to manifest itself for man’s relief. The first act was to produce a perfect and sinless man to be a suitable “ransom for all:” one not under the Adamic curse — who would lay down his life for the race, and whose sacrifice would meet all the requirements of Justice, and therefore be acceptable as a ransom and propitiation for man’s sins. And Love’s great exhibition was seen in the gift of the grandest and greatest and first of all God’s creation, who stooped and became man, to redeem men: and “they called his name Jesus.”

(16) “Ah!” says one who judges by his own feelings, “Now comes Love’s victory over Justice. We shall see that God is more loving than severe.” But not so; God is not more loving than severely just: he is perfect in both respects. It will be indeed a victory for Love, but not over Justice. It will be much grander than that. It will prove a victory for both Justice and Love; for it will be gained by Love’s paying the price demanded by Justice–a ransom, “an equivalent price.” — 1 Timothy 2:4-6.

(17) Thus did love of God magnify the justice and law of God, and ‘make it honorable,’ by acknowledging its claims in the payment of the very penalty demanded — man’s death.

(18) We need scarcely say, that the love of God so long veiled from sight, was manifested in the gift of his Son to be our Redeemer and Savior. The record is: “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation [satisfaction or appeasement] for our sins.” “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.” — 1 John 4:9,10

(19) When Love had ransomed man, and was ready to reveal itself by restoring the willing and obedient of mankind to perfection and harmony with God, Wisdom postponed this on the ground that a further development of the plan would ultimately enhance Love’s glory, and perfect the work: that an interlude (the Gospel age) must occur in which should be selected some from among the redeemed, some sharers in Christ’s sufferings and reproach, who should be counted worthy to share his glory and to be his associates in the execution of Love’s triumph in “the restitution of all things spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets.” — Acts 3:21.

(20) Long and faithfully has Love labored; yet all her labor will yet be lost, unless in due time Wisdom shall commission Power to do its special part in the great plan.

(21) Power thus far has stood in the background, doing nothing directly in man’s relief, save in the resurrection of our Lord, and in the miracles which shadowed forth its coming work.

(22) Now, we are living in the era when Power begins to act, not in opposition to Justice, but in harmony with Wisdom, Justice and Love. Oh, blessed day! The Lamb that was slain and who redeemed us by his blood is now invested with Power to bless all whom he bought; and he is now about taking unto himself his great power, and shall reign until he has subdued all enemies. — Revelation 20:6; 1 Corinthians 15:25.

(23) Thus, God has chosen the plan which most fully and grandly exemplifies his unalterable justice, and exhibits the exceeding riches of his grace — his love; and in the restoration of man (“all who come to the Father by him”) from destruction, from death, to perfection and life, will God’s power be illustrated far more forcibly than even in man’s creation. And as men and angels come to recognize the full fruition of God’s plan in the ages to come, will they not with one consent exclaim with our brother and Apostle Paul, as he caught a glimpse of it: “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who has known the mind [plan] of Jehovah? or who has been his counselor? … Because out of him, and through him, and for him are all [these] things. To him be the glory for ever.” — Romans 11:33-36.

— Based on article from Reprints page 1680 (R1680)
Updated 9/26/2010; 3/17/2014

New Covenant Vs. Covenant for a Kingdom

The expression “new covenant” appears only once in the Old Testament. The scripture and its context is:

Jeremiah 31:27 Behold, the days come, says Yahweh, that I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man, and with the seed of animal.
Jeremiah 31:28 It shall happen that, like as I have watched over them to pluck up and to break down and to overthrow and to destroy and to afflict, so will I watch over them to build and to plant, says Yahweh.
Jeremiah 31:29 In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.
Jeremiah 31:30 But everyone shall die for his own iniquity: every man who eats the sour grapes, his teeth shall be set on edge.
Jeremiah 31:31 Behold, the days come, says Yahweh, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:
Jeremiah 31:32 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they broke, although I was a husband to them, says Yahweh.
Jeremiah 31:33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says Yahweh: I will put my law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people:
Jeremiah 31:34 and they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know Yahweh; for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says Yahweh: for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin will I remember no more.

Many fail to comprehend that how the New Covenant, if it is not active now, can be active on the new creature so as to result in sanctification (consecration). The terminology often used would either result in the thought that the new creature is not under the New Covenant, or that if he is under the New Covenant, then the New Covenant must be active now. From these two extremes other wrong conclusions are developed.

Nevertheless, everything pertaining the new creation belongs to the age to come, not this present evil age. When Paul wrote,  “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old things have passed away. Behold, they have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17), he was saying that the new creation is related to the passing away of the present evil age, the present heavens and earth, and the coming age when all things are made new. (Isaiah 65:17; Matthew 5:18; 24:35; Mark 31:31; Luke 21:33; 2 Peter 3:10,13; Revelation 21:1-5) That New Heavens and New Earth are not now, but belong to the “age to come.”

He will receive one hundred times now in this time, houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and land, with persecutions; and in the age to come eternal life. — Mark 10:30.

Who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the world [age] to come, eternal life.” — Luke 18:30.

That “age to come” had not yet come when the book of Hebrews was written: “concerning those who were once enlightened and tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit,  and tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the age to come.” — Hebrews 6:4,5.

This last scripture shows that the new creature has tasted “the powers of the age to come.” It is in that age to come that the New Covenant becomes active to the world, but those who are chosen out this world become new creatures by the power of the age to come, making them belong to the day.

The “age” still is not fully with us, since the heathen of the earth are still being deceived by Satan (Revelation 20:3), and the promised blessings of the heathen are not now being seen. (Genesis 22:18) It is still true that God is choosing people out of the corrupted world as his sons, who then are no longer of the corrupted world (John 15:19), thus the corrupted world (Romans 5:12; 8:21; 2 Peter 1:4) is still in existence, and has not yet passed away. (1 Corinthians 17:31; John 2:17

Once the present heavens and earth have passed away, the New Covenant becomes operative through Israel. — Jeremiah 31:31.

Therefore the of prophecy of the new covenant, as such, actually belongs to the “age to come”, when it will be true that everyone who dies will die for his own iniquity, not the sin of Adam or parents. (Ezekiel 18:2,3) Likewise, the covenant is made with Israel and Judah. Some claim that the covenant is actually concluded with the Israel of faith, the Christian church, not fleshly Israel. If this were true, how is it to be said of the Israel of faith, that this “new covenant” is “not according to the covenant I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt”? True, a few of those who belong to the Gospel Age church have a Jewish heritage by flesh, but most are not. Most Christians have never been under the Law of Moses so that it could be said of them: “my covenant they broke”. This can only apply to fleshly Israel, not the Israel of faith.

Ezekiel 16 likewise depicts the same time, and the same covenant. There Yahweh speaks to Jerusalem (representing all of Israel), and compares her with her sisters, Sodom and Samaria. He speaks of the day of resurrection, saying: “And I will bring back their captive ones [from the captivity of death], the captive ones of Sodom and her daughters, and the captive ones of Samaria and her daughters, and the captive ones of your captives in the midst of them.” (Ezekiel 16:53, Restoration Light Improved Version, RLIV) Yahweh further says to them: “And your sisters, Sodom and her daughters, will return to their former estate [being returned to life]; and Samaria and her daughters will return to their former estate; and you and your daughters will return to your former estate.” (Ezekiel 16:55) To this day, the people of Sodom have remained in the realm of death. They have in no wise been returned to their former estate. This can only be accomplished by their resurrection from the dead, when they are to be raised in the resurrection of the unjust.

What does this have to do with the New Covenant? Yahweh continues to speak to Jerusalem: “Nevertheless I will remember my covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you.” (Ezekiel 16:60) Here he speaks of two different covenants, the one established with Israel in the days of her youth, and another covenant, a future covenant. This future covenant is not fulfilled with the Gospel Age church, as it cannot be said of the Gospel Age church that God will remember his covenant (the covenant through Moses) with them. Yahweh further says to Jerusalem: “Then you will remember your ways, and be ashamed, when you receive your sisters, your elder and your younger; and I will give them unto you as daughters, but not by your covenant.” (Ezekiel 16:61) The covenant made with Israel through Moses is again referred to, and Yahweh tells Jerusalem that this coming blessing will not be by means of that covenant. Again, we note that this is not speaking of the Gospel Age Israel of faith, since it could not be said to the Israel of faith that the blessings foretold would be “not by your covenant”.

And Yahweh states to Jerusalem: “And I will establish my covenant with you; and you will know that I am Yahweh; that you may remember, and be confounded, and never open your mouth any more, because of your shame, when I have forgiven your for all that you have done.” (Ezekiel 16:62,63) It should be apparent that the covenant being spoken of is the same covenant spoken of in Jeremiah 31:31. It should be further apparent that this covenant is established with the same Israel that had been under the Law Covenant through Moses.

Does this mean that the Gospel Age believers receive no benefit from the New Covenant? No, but we need to examine some scriptures to see how the New Covenant is applied to the Gospel Age believers.

In the Gospels, we find the expression “new covenant” used in Luke 22:20, where Jesus speaks of such at his last meal. He took the cup, and stated to his disciples: “This cup means the new covenant in my blood which is poured out for you.” So it is apparent that the disciples receive a benefit from the “new covenant” as represented in the blood of Jesus, which blood, Jesus said, was poured out for them.

So how does the Gospel Age church obtain these benefits, if the New Covenant is actually made with Israel in the age to come? They do this by being reckoned, imputed as justified, as though in the age to come, as though made alive in the resurrection day, counted as children of that day when the knowledge of Yahweh will cover the earth, and no longer children of this condemned age of darkness. (1 Thessalonians 5:5) Those called in this age receive the firstfruits of spirit of the age to come. (Romans 8:23; Hebrews 6:5; James 1:18) The Christian’s baptism is a symbol of being baptized into Jesus’ death so as to appropriate the benefits of the death of Christ (Romans 6:3); this is so in that one receives the firstfruits of the spirit — as a earnest (that which in purchases is given as a pledge or down payment that the full amount will subsequently be paid) — the spiritual benefits of the ransom, the power of the age to come, in this age. — Romans 8:23; 2 Corinthians 1:22; 5:5; Ephesians 1:13,14; Hebrews 6:5.

The holy spirit is given now as a down payment, or earnest of the inheritance (2 Corinthians 1:22; 5:5), declares that the inheritance in the kingdom will be much more than is now obtained through the spirit. The spirit is received by means of obtaining the powers of the age to come (Hebrews 6:5), in which age to come the holy spirit will be poured out on all flesh. (Joel 2:28; Isaiah 40:5) The believer today receives the “firstfruits” of the spirit (Romans 8:23) in anticipation of the coming time when they will be revealed to the creation and the creation will also be able to delivered from the bondage of present-day corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. (Romans 8:21) The church is a kind of firstfruits of God’s creatures (James 1:18), indicating the after fruits yet to come in the next age, when “the earth will be full of the knowledge of Yahweh, as the waters cover the sea.” (Isaiah 11:9, RLIV) The outpouring of holy spirit on believers in this age is but a prelude to the actual fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy in the age to come. — Acts 2:16-21.

It is thus by partaking of that which belongs to age to come, the benefits of the New Covenant, that those called in this age receive the benefits of that covenant.

Now, concerning the covenant for a kingdom. This refers to Luke 22:29. Due to the way this verse is translated in most translations, most would hardly know that a covenant is being spoken of.

And I covenant unto you – as my Father hath covenanted unto me – a kingdom. — Luke 22:29, Rotherham.

This covenanting is evidently a reference to the Abrahamic/Davidic “seed” Covenant, which Jesus extends to his followers: Genesis 9:9; 12:3,7; 17:7,19; 21:12; 2 Samuel 7:11-17; 22:51; Psalm 18:50; 89:1-4,26-37; Isaiah 9:6,7; Jeremiah 23:5,6; Ezekiel 34:23,24; Daniel 7:22,27; Amos 9:11; John 7:42; Acts 13:22,23; Galatians 3:16,27,29.

Thus, directly, the church’s covenant is actually with Jesus, and through him the Father’s covenant is applied to the church. This covenant is not the “new covenant”, but is a covenant that existed 430 years before the Law Covenant, and which Paul applies to Christ, and all who belong to Christ, the sons of Abraham by faith. — Galatians 3:7,16,17,26-29.

The “New Covenant” covers the condemnation of sin in Adam, which is applied to all who are dying in Adam. The “covenant for a kingdom” is the everlasting kingdom, a rulership with Jesus, which rulership will benefit the all families of the earth in the future under the New Covenant, but not all the families of the earth participate in the covenant for a kingdom.

See our study on Jeremiah 31

See also David Christiansen’s study on Jeremiah 31


Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance to the Bible – USA
[amazon-element asin=”1598566938″ fields=”Author,Binding,NumberOfPages,ListPrice,LowestNewPrice,LowestUsedPrice,” labels=”Author::Author:,Binding::Binding:,NumberOfPages::Number of Pages:,ListPrice::List Price:,LowestNewPrice::New From:,LowestUsedPrice::Used From:” msg_instock=”In Stock”]

Canada * United Kingdom

[amazon-element asin=”1598566938″ fields=”desc” labels=”desc::Product Description:”]

Jehovah’s Plan of the Ages (r-blogger)

All Hebrew and Greek words are transliterated into English forms throughout.

 

(1) As we look around us today it may appear that Jehovah’s works have all gone bad. With all of the wars, killing, stealing, and other hurtful things we may think that Jehovah does not know what he is doing. But what we need to do is understand Jehovah’s completed work. Then we can understand how all the bad things happening now will help the whole world toward that finished purpose. We can see how Jehovah will use the bad things happening today to bring a better world for all people to live in. Gods finished work will universally declare his infinite wisdom and power. His plans will be seen to be in harmony with his glorious attributes.

 

Jehovah’s Purpose Does Not Change

 

(2) God tells us that he has a definitely fixed purpose, and that all his purposes will be accomplished. (Isaiah 46:9,10; 55:11) Since this is so, we should certainly want to apply ourselves to trying to understand what Jehovah’s plans are, so that we may be found in harmony with them. (Psalm 119:34) Jehovah tells us that he never changes his purposes: “Jehovah of hosts has sworn, saying: ‘Surely as I have thought, so will it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so will it be.'” “Jehovah of hosts has purposed, and who will nullify it?” “I am mighty and there is none mightier, and there is none like me … My counsel will stand, and I will do all my pleasure … Yes, I have spoken it, I will bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.” (Isaiah 14:27; 46:9-11) For most people, God’s works appear to be haphazard or mysterious. This is because they do not understand or appreciate the final outcome. However, those who believe this testimony of his Word must acknowledge that his original and unalterable plan has been, and still is, progressing systematically to completion.

 

If you cry out for discernment, and lift up your voice for understanding, if you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures — then you will understand the reverence of Jehovah, and find the knowledge of God. — Proverbs 2:3-5.

The Three Kosmoi of 2 Peter 3:5-13

The Three Kosmoi of 2 Peter 3:5-13

(3) Mankind in general is groping in the darkness of ignorance. (Isaiah 60:2) They will have to wait for the actual developments of God’s plan before they can realize the glorious attributes of the Divine Architect. (Isaiah 29:18) Nevertheless, there is a small number of truly dedicated Disciples of Jesus who are being privileged to see by faith and the light of God’s lamp the foretold glories of the future. (1 Thessalonians 5:4,5; 1 Corinthians 2;12) With this knowledge they come to appreciate the otherwise mysterious or secret works of the past and the present. (1 Corinthians 1:7) If you have dedicated your life to God, or are considering dedicating your life to God, by all means apply yourself to God’s Word and prayer that through the holy spirit you may understand his purposes as you diligently inquire into the plans and specifications given in the Bible. (Proverbs 2:3-6) There we learn that the plan of God, with reference to man, spans three great periods of time, beginning with man’s creation and reaching into the endless future. (2 Peter 3:3-6,13) By designating the heavens and earth that were before the flood of Noah as that world (2 Peter 3:4,5), Peter, in effect, designates all three periods similarly each as a “world”, thus resulting in three worlds.

 

Great Epochs Called “Worlds”

(4) These three great epochs represent three distinct manifestations of divine providence. The first, from the creation of Adam to the flood, was under the administration of angels, and is called by Peter “THE WORLDÂ (KOSMOS) THAT WAS.” — 2 Peter 3:6.

(5) The second great epoch, from the flood to the establishment of the kingdom (rulership) of God, may be styled the world that now is. (2 Peter 3:7) The third world follows, in which righteousness is dwell, may be called “the world to come.”

 

World That Was

By the word of God the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was standing out of the water and in middle of the water. By this means the world that then was, perished. — 2 Peter 3:5,6

 

World That Now Is

But the heavens and the earth which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved for the fire against the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly men. — 2 Peter 3:7

 

World to Come

Nevertheless, we, according to his promise, are looking for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness will dwell. — 2 Peter 3:13

(6) The third is to be a “world without end” (Isaiah 45:17) under divine administration, the kingdom (rulership) of God, and is called ‘THE WORLD TO COME — wherein dwells righteousness.’ — Hebrews 2:5; 2 Peter 3:13.

 

Three Great Worlds

(7) The first of these periods or “worlds,” under the administration of angels, was a failure; (Hebrews 2:2,5) the second, under the rule of Satan, the usurper, has been indeed an “evil world”; but the third will be an era of righteousness and of blessing to all the families of the earth. (Psalm 72:7; Isaiah 25:6-8) The last two of these “worlds” are most particularly mentioned, and the statements relative to them are in strong contrast.

(8) The present, or second period, is called “the present evil world,” not because there is nothing good in it, but because in it evil is permitted to predominate. “Now we call the proud happy; yes, they that work wickedness are set up; yes they that tempt God are even delivered.” — Malachi 3:15.

(9) The third world or epoch is mentioned as ‘THE WORLD TO COME, wherein dwells righteousness,’ not because there will be no evil in it, but because evil will not predominate. The blotting out of evil will be gradual, requiring all of the first thousand years. Evil will not rule then; it will not prosper; it will no longer be the wicked that will flourish; but “the righteous will flourish” (Psalm 72:7), the obedient will eat “the good of the land” (Isaiah 1:19), and “the evil doer will be cut off.” — Psalm 37:9.

He will judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice. The mountains will bring peace to the people, and the little hills, by righteousness. He will bring justice to the poor of the people; he will save the children of the needy and will break in pieces the oppressor. — Psalm 72:2-4

(10) Thus seen, the dispensation, or world to come, is to be so different from today that we could say that it will be the very opposite in almost every way. The Scriptures show why there is to be a contrast between the present and the future dispensations. It is because Jesus will be the prince or ruler of the world to come. (Isaiah 9:6) In it righteousness and truth will prosper. Satan is the prince (ruler) of the present evil world, and therefore evil prospers and the wicked flourish. Jesus stated that the prince of this world has no grip on him. (John 14:30; 2 Corinthians 12:7) Jesus further tells us that in this present evil world or epoch, whosoever will live godly suffers persecution, while the wicked flourish like a green bay tree. — 2 Timothy 3:12; Psalm 37:35.

God’s Kingdom

(11) Jesus said, “My kingdom is not part of this world (Greek, kosmos).” Here, we believe, Jesus uses the word “world” in reference, not just to the world that came after the flood, but to the “world” that God made through him. (John 1:10) “This world” is the world that is spoken of in Romans 5:19, which became corrupted through sin. As a result of sin, this world has come under an oppressive sun of vanity, a bondage of corruption, from which it cannot free itself. (Ecclesiastes 1:2,8-15; 7:13; Romans 8:20-22) Until this present this present condemned world passes away and the new era now called the “age to come” (Mark 10:30; Hebrews 6:5) has arrived, Messiah’s kingdom will not have full control of the earth. (John 18:36) And for this we are taught to hope and pray: “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth.” (Matthew 6:10) Satan is the “ruler of the darkness of this world,” and therefore “darkness covers the earth and gross darkness the people.” He now rules and works in the hearts of the children of disobedience. — Ephesians 2:2; 6:12.

I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the abyss and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. — Revelation 20:1,2

(12) There must be some very important part of the great Architect’s plan for man’s salvation that has not yet fully developed. If God’s plan had been fully developed, the new prince and the new dispensation would have been long ago introduced. But it has been postponed until an appointed time. But the time will come when the present evil empire under Satan will give way to that of the righteous rule of the Anointed One. How these things will come about will be more fully shown in later studies of this series. For now we want to say that the kingdoms of this world, now subject to Satan, are at the proper time to become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his anointed. (Revelation 11:15) The context shows that the transfer will be accomplished by a general time of trouble. (Revelation 11:18) In reference to this Jesus said: “No man can enter into a strong man’s house and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man, and then he will spoil his house.” (Mark 3:22-27) Thus we are taught that Satan must first be bound, restrained and thrown into an abyss, before Christ’s reign of righteousness and peace can be fully established. This binding of Satan is accordingly shown to be one of the first works of the new dispensation. — Revelation 20:2.

 

The Planet Earth is Not Removed

(13) It should be remembered that this planet earth is the basis of all these “worlds” and dispensations. God has promised that the planet itself will never be removed. (Psalm 104:5; 119:90) Carrying out the same pattern, Peter calls three distinct periods of time a separate ‘heavens and earth.’ He uses the word heavens to signify the higher or spiritual controlling powers, and earth signifies human government and social arrangements. Thus the first heavens and earth, or the order and arrangement of things then existing, having served their purpose, ended at the flood. The physical heavens of the stars, moon and sun did not pass away (Genesis 15:5; Psalm 8:3); the physical heavens were the birds fly did not pass away (Genesis 1:20); nor did the spiritual heavens where God’s throne is pass away. (Isaiah 61:1) Likewise, the physical earth which was flooded did not pass away. They all remained. So likewise the present world (heaven and earth) will pass away with a great noise, fire and melting — confusion, trouble and dissolution. The strong man (Satan), will struggle to retain his power. The present order or arrangement of government and society, not that of the physical sky and earth, will pass away. The present order or arrangement of government will pass away. The present heavens (powers of spiritual control) must give place to the “new heavens” — Christ’s spiritual control. The present earth (human society as now organized under Satan’s control) must (symbolically) melt and be dissolved, during the “Day of Jehovah,” which “will burn as an oven.” (Malachi 4:1) It will be succeeded by a “new earth,” that is, society organized in harmony with earth’s new Prince — the Messiah. Righteousness, peace, and love will rule among men when present arrangements have given place to the new and better kingdom, the basis of which will be the strictest justice. Truly, isn’t this what all honest-hearted people want?

The Age to Come

(14) Paul was given a glimpse of the next dispensation, or, as he calls it: “the age to come.” (Hebrews 6:5) He says he was “caught away” (physically or mentally, or both, he could not tell, things were so real to his view) down the stream of time to the new condition of things, the “new heaven.” Hence, he saw the spiritual control of Christ — things that he was not permitted to disclose. He also saw the “new earth” — paradise. (2 Corinthians 12:2-4) John was probably allowed to see some of these same things later as he received visions of the future in symbols, which may only be understood as they become due. John, in the revelation given to him by our Lord on the Isle of Patmos, was in vision carried down through this present age and its changing scenes of church and state to the end of the present evil age, or epoch. There, in prophetic vision, he saw Satan bound, Christ reigning, and the new heaven and the new earth (paradise) established. The former heaven and earth passed away. — Revelation 21:1.

Smaller Ages and Dispensations

(15) We now give our attention to some of the smaller ages or sub-ages into which the three great epochs are subdivided. It is possible to subdivide the first of these great epochs into at least two smaller ages. The second great epoch, or “world that now is,” includes three smaller ages, each a step in the plan of God for the overthrow of evil. Each step is higher than the one preceding it, and carries the plan forward and nearer completion. (Of course, each of the great epochs could possibly contain even more smaller ages or ages within ages that we do not deal with here.) The third great epoch — “the world to come” — future from the final return of Christ, comprises the Millennial Age, or “the times of restoration.” After the Millennial Age, there is a short period of time that Satan is again let loose. At the end of the this short age, Satan and all his followers are destroyed and mankind enters into the endless “ages to come,” the details of which are not revealed. (Ephesians 2:7) Present revelations treat of man’s recovery from sin and the final test of individual fitness for life, and not of the eternity of glory to follow.

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him: male and female he created them. And God blessed them, and God said to them: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living things that moves upon the earth.” — Genesis 1:28,29

 

Smaller Ages of the World That Was

(16) The first smaller age (pertaining to man) of the first great epoch begins with the creation of Adam and ends when he is thrown out of the Garden of Eden. During this time man enjoyed a special relationship with God. (Genesis 1:28,29; 3:22-24) God had given man his law, written in his very nature. But after Adam sinned God changed his method of dealing with man, causing a second smaller age to begin. From then on God left man measurably to his own course which was downward, for “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5) During this time many of the angels misused the powers God gave them to materialize. Consequently they made themselves human-like bodies and married the daughters of men, in disobedience to Jehovah. (Genesis 6:1-2; 2 Peter 2:4,5; Jude 6) We find that this second smaller age ended at the flood of Noah’s day. Evidently 120 years earlier, when God called Noah, ‘Jehovah changed his course toward man whom he made on the earth, and he was grieved at heart.’ At this point the second smaller age (or “world”), was on notice that its days were limited (120 years). (Genesis 6:3) During the “last days” of this smaller age the command was given to Noah to build an ark to safely carry him and his family through the end of that world. That age ended with a flood, which took away all but faithful Noah and his family. Thus the second smaller age of Peter’s “world that was” not only manifested the disastrous effects of sin, but showed the tendency of sin downward to greater degradation and misery, and proves the necessity of Jehovah’s interposition, if the recovery of “that which was lost” — man’s first estate — is ever to be accomplished. — Luke 19:10.

 

Smaller Ages of This Present Evil World

(17) The first smaller age in Peter’s “world that now is” we call the PATRIARCHAL AGE, or dispensation. During that period God’s dealings and favors were with a few individuals only, the remainder of mankind being almost ignored. Such favored ones were the patriarchs Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Each of these in turn were chosen by God to receive special favor. — Acts 7:1-15.

(18) At the death of Jacob that smaller age or order ended. After Jacob’s death, his descendants were recognized by God as his “peculiar people.” Through typical sacrifices they were typically “a holy nation,” separated from other nations for a particular purpose, and therefore to enjoy certain special favors. The time allotted to this feature of the divine plan, beginning with the death of Jacob and ending at the death of Christ, we designate the JEWISH AGE, or the Law dispensation. During that smaller age God specially blessed that nation. He gave them his law. He made a special covenant with them. He gave them the tabernacle, whose shekinah glory in the Most Holy represented Jehovah’s presence with them as their Leader and King. To them he sent the prophets, and finally his son. — Acts 7:34,38,44; Luke 16:16; Acts 3:25,26.

(19) Jesus performed many miracles and taught in the midst of the people of Israel. He did not go to any but the nation of Israel. Nor did he permit his disciples to go to the surrounding nations. He sent them out, saying: “Do not go into the way of the nations, and do not enter into any city of the Samaritans; but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 10:5,6) And again he said: “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 15:24) Thus, for a while, only the nation of Israel was favored with the message of about the Messiah.

(20) This national favor ended when they showed their national rejection of him by having him executed as a criminal by the Roman authorities. Jesus showed this when, five days before his impalement, he declared to Jerusalem: “Your house is left unto you desolate.” (Matthew 23:38) There, at Jesus’ death, we can identity a new smaller age that began, which many often refer to as the Gospel (Good News) age. During this period good tidings of justification, not to the Jew only, but to all nations was heralded. Jesus the Messiah, by the grace of God, tasted death for every man. The Good News Age lasts until the full establishment of Christ’s Kingdom over all the earth. During this Age a special class is called. This is a class of individuals who by faith accept Jesus as their Redeemer and Master, and follow in his footsteps. They receive a particular favor. To them special promises are made. The Good News proclamation has gone forth hither and thither through the earth since Jesus’ death, though often polluted with man’s traditions. It has not converted nations — it is not designed to do so in this age. But it has been selecting here and there some, a little flock, as Jesus had foretold (Luke 12:32), to whom it is the Father’s good pleasure to give the Kingdom.

The Time of Trouble

(21) The last part of the Gospel Age the Bible describes as a “time of trouble” (Daniel 12:1; Matthew 24:21) Like the ending period of the first great age, we believe this intervening period could also 120 years long. Jesus called the final stages of the age as a period of “great tribulation.” It is during this great tribulation that a final “kingdom” group would be called: “the great multitude” who come out of the “great tribulation.” (Revelation 7:9-17) The “great multitude” who pass through the “great tribulation” provide the link between this “present evil world” and “the world to come” just as Noah and his family were a link through the end of the world at that time. — Matthew 24:37-41.

Restoration For All Mankind

(22) As a result of the “great tribulation” the “present evil age” fully ends. God has been thus permitting the predominance and reign of wickedness, to the seeming detriment of his cause. Nevertheless his deep designs have been steadily progressing according to a fixed and definite plan, and in the exact order of the seasons which he has appointed. In the end of this age, and the dawn of its successor, the Millennial Age, Satan is to be thrown into an abyss and his power overthrown. (Revelation 20:2-3) This prepares the way for the establishment of Christ’s kingdom (Revelation 20:4) and the beginning of ‘the world to come, wherein dwells righteousness.’

(23) “Millennium,” signifying a thousand years, is by common consent used as the name for the period mentioned in Revelation 20:4 — the thousand years of Christ’s reign, the first smaller age in the “world to come.” During the Millennial Age, there will be a restoration of all things lost by the fall of Adam (Acts 3:19-21), and before its close all tears will have been wiped away. After the Millennial Age, another short age, the Little Season, is mentioned in the Bible. This smaller age, the length of which is not readily disclosed, will be the final testing of each individual’s fitness for life. Beyond its boundary, in the ages of blessedness to follow, there will be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying; neither will there be any more pain. The former things will have passed away. (Revelation 21:4) God’s revelations particularize no further, and there we stop.

 

God’s Progressive Plan

(24) We have here only glanced at the mere outline of this plan of the ages. The more we examine it, the more we will find in it perfect harmony, beauty, and order. Each age has its part to accomplish, necessary to the complete development of God’s plan as a whole. The plan is a progressive one, gradually unfolding from age to age, upward and onward to the grand consummation of the original design of the Divine Architect, “who works all things after the counsel of his own will.” (Ephesians 1:11) Not one of these great periods is an hour too long or too short for the accomplishment of its object. God is a wise economist of both time and means, though his resources are infinite; and no power, however malicious, for a moment retards or thwarts his purposes. All things, evil as well as good, under divine supervision and overruling, are working together for the accomplishment of his will.

(25) To the the material-minded, those who can see only a little of the intricate machinery of God’s plan, it appears like anarchy, confusion, and failure, just as the whole, or even a part, of an intricate machine would appear to a child. (1 Corinthians 2:6-3) To their immature and untutored minds it is incomprehensible, and the opposite motions of its wheels and belts are but confusion. But maturity and investigation will show that the seeming confusion is beautiful harmony, working good results. The machine, however, was as truly a success before the child understood its operation as after. So, while God’s plan is, and has been for ages, in successful operation, man has been receiving the necessary discipline, not only to enable him to understand its intricate workings, but also to experience its blessed results.

Application of the Ages to Further Study

(26) As we pursue our study of the Bible and the plan it presents, it is essential that we keep in memory these ages and their respective peculiarities and objects; for in no one of them can the plan be seen, but in all of them, even as a link is not a chain, but several links united form a chain. We obtain correct ideas of the whole plan by noting the distinctive features of each part, and thus we are enabled to rightly divide the word of truth. — 2 Timothy 2:15.

(27) A statement of the Word which belongs solely to one epoch, or dispensation, cannot always be applied to another, as things stated in one age are not always true of another. For instance, it would be an untruth to say of the present time that the knowledge of Jehovah fills the whole earth, or that there is no need to say to your neighbor: “Know Jehovah!” (Isaiah 11:9; Jeremiah 31:34) This is not true in this age, and it cannot be true until the Lord Jesus, having come again, has established his kingdom; for throughout this age there have been seducing deceptions, and we are told that even in the very end of the age — in the last day … evil men and seducers will become worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. (2 Timothy 3:1,13) It will be as the result of Christ’s reign during the Millennial Age that knowledge and righteousness will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.

 

The Kingdoms of This World

(28) A similar mistake, and a very common one, is to suppose that God’s kingdom is now established and ruling over the earth, and that his will is now done among the nations. This is manifestly far from the truth, for the kingdoms of this world are supported and enriched through oppression, injustice, and deceit, to as great an extent as the increasing intelligence of the people will permit. Satan, the present “prince of this world,” must yet be displaced, and these kingdoms, now under his control, must become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Anointed, when he will take unto himself his great power, and reign. By seeking and searching the scriptures, we discern that system and order which mark the stately steppings of our God through the ages past and into the future.

(29) By the light now due to the household of faith, we discern that system and order which mark the stately steppings of our God through the ages past, and we are forcibly reminded of the beautiful lines of Cowper, inspired by a living faith, which trusted where it could not trace the Almighty Jehovah:

 

He Will Make It Plain

(Adapted)Yah moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform:
He plants his footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never-failing skill,
He treasures up his bright designs,
And works his sovereign will.

You fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds you so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not Jehovah by frail sense,
But trust him for his grace.
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour.
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan his work in vain.
Yah is his own interpreter,
And he will make it plain.

 

Addendum: The Resurrection and Judgment in the Last Day as Related to the “Ages”

There have been some questions that have arisen concerning the “last day” and the ages as spoken of in the study above. We will try to address most of these questions in this Addendum.

There are basically two different Greek words used in the New Testament related to the ages. One is “Aion” (Strong’s #165) corresponding in many cases to the Hebrew ‘owlam (Strong’s Hebrew #5769), and the other Greek word is “kosmos” (Strong’s #2889). “Aion” refers to a period of time, which can be definite or indefinite, depending on the context; “Kosmos” refers more to the arrangement of things (government, society, etc.) that can be — but not necessarily — associated with a period of time.

We will first focus on scriptures that use the words “aion” and “owlam” as related to specific periods of time. The “age [Greek, aion, Strong’s #165] to come” is spoken of in Matthew 12:32; Mark 10:30; Luke 18:30; 20:35; Ephesians 1:21; Hebrews 2:5; 6:5. Ephesians 2:7 refers to “ages to come.” — Ephesians 2:7. Usually, “age to come” appears to be referring to the first of the “ages to come,” that is, the 1,000 years of Christ’s reign, the day of judgment. After the first “age to come” is over, there will be at least one more age which leads into eternity. Whether there will be more than one age “after” the 1,000 years is not stated, although the account in Revelation 20 could be viewed as at least two ages, the “little season” in which Satan is loosed, and age after Satan and that wicked are destroyed.

Ephesians 3:21 and Isaiah 45:17 refer to an “age without end.” This would encompass all “ages” to come as one “age” made up of sub-ages.

Hebrews 1:2 speaks of “ages” [plural] as being made by means of Jesus. In context, this seems to be referring to the two great general ages, the one which became corrupted due to Adam’s sin, and the second that is to have no end.

Hebrews 11:3 speaks of ages as having been framed by means of the Logos of God. It is possible that “Logos of God” is being used as a title for Jesus, as shown in Revelation 19:13. Nevertheless, this scripture is again probably speaking of the two great ages, the first of which became corrupted through sin, and the second which is to consist of all ages to come.

The present evil age is spoken of in Galatians 1:4: “who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us out of this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.” (World English version) While this scripture is often used to refer to the age from the time of flood of Noah’s day, more than likely Paul was actually referring to the age that began with Adam’s sin, since that is what the believer is reckoned as being delivered from.

Some other scriptures that refer to this present evil age. – Matthew 12:32; 13:22; Mark 4:19; Luke 16:8; 20:34; Romans 12:2; 1 Corinthians 1:20; 2:6,8; 3:18; 8:13; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 1:21; 2:2; 6:12; 1 Timothy 6:17; 4:10; Titus 2:12.

Colossians 1:26 refers to “ages’ (plural), during which the mystery about Christ had been hidden, thus indicating more than one “age” as having past since Adam sinned. These “ages” would therefore be sub-ages of the greater overall “age.”

This present age is spoken of as having a beginning. Although its beginning was not of evil, it became corrupted due to sin. — Luke 1:70; John 9:32; Acts 3:21; 15:18; 1 Corinthians 2:7; Hebrews 9:26. The end of this present evil age, that was begun with disobedience of Adam, is spoken of in Matthew 13:39,40,49; 24:3; 28:20; 1 John 2:17.

Hebrews 9:26 also refers to the end of the present evil age, including all of its “ages”: “now once at the end of the ages, he has been revealed to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. ” (World English) The “ages” here are plural in the Greek, referring to the end of more than one age, evidently referring to time period from his first appearance to his second appearance (Hebrews 9:28); this entire period is being referred to as “the end of the ages”. We conclude, then, that this refers, to entire period from the ending of the Law and the Prophets with John the Baptist, to the ending of the Sacrifces under the Law, and also to the ending of the Gospel Age.

One scripture (1 Corinthians 10:11) speaks of the “ends” (plural) of the ages, evidently referring to time of John the Baptist to the time when all ages pertaining to the reign of Adamic death have come ended. (Romans 5:12-19)

Although “age” is not mentioned in Luke 16:16, it is suggested in that the “law and the prophets” were until John the Baptist, indicating John the Baptist to be the last prophet that belonged to that “age.” When Jesus began preaching, the new age pertaining the preaching of the kingdom was beginning, and the old age was ending, creating an overlapse of the ages. Later the sacrifices under the Law came to end (AD 70), but the Law itself is still active upon those who were born under the Law. The Law itself will not have vanished until all who are under that Law have either died naturally, or else have become dead to the Law through faith in Jesus.

The Day of Judgment and the “Age to Come”

How is the “day of judgment” related to the “age to come”? The world’s judgment day is spoken of as taking place in what Jesus called the “the last day.”

“He who rejects me, and doesn’t receive my sayings, has one who judges him. The word that I spoke, the same will judge him in the last day.” — John 12:48, World English version.

Thus, we can conclude that those who reject Jesus in this present evil age are to be judged in what Jesus calls the “last day.” This is the coming judgment of world, when Jehovah comes to judge the earth — the world — by means of the one whom he ordained.

Psalm 96:10 Say among the nations, “Jehovah reigns.” The world is also established. It can’t be moved. He will judge the peoples with equity.

Psalm 96:11 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice. Let the sea roar, and the fullness of it!

Psalm 96:12 Let the field exult, and all that is therein. Then shall all the trees of the wood sing for joy

Psalm 96:13 Before Jehovah; for he comes, For he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, The peoples with his truth.

[Jehovah] has appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom he has ordained; whereof he has given assurance to all men, in that he has raised him from the dead. — Acts 17:31.

Jesus also spoke of that judgment day when he spoke of the resurrection of judgment. (John 5:29) Revelation speaks of the unbelieving world being released from death (the death in Adam) and hades (the condition resulting from the condemnation of death in Adam) so that they can be judged, not according to Adam’s sin, but according to their own works. — Revelation 20:12,13.

This resurrection of judgment and unbelieving world’s “day of judgment” takes place sometime during the “last day” that Jesus spoke of. It is in this same day, however, that the believers are also raised.

John 5:28 Don’t marvel at this, for the hour comes, in which all that are in the tombs will hear his voice,

John 5:29 and will come forth; those who have done good, to the resurrection of life; and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment.

Here Jesus speaks of both resurrections, that of the believer, and also that of the unbeliever, as happening in one “hour.” The word “hour”, however, like the word “day” does not necessarily refer to any set period of time. A day can be six days, a day can be 40 years, or a day can be 1,000 years, etc. Likewise, the word “hour” can be used in the same manner. In John 5:28, the word “hour” is being used as a synonym of the “last day.” We know this, because Jesus goes on to explain:

John 6:39Â This is the will of my Father who sent me, that of all he has given to me I should lose nothing, but should raise them up at the last day.

John 6:40 This is the will of the one who sent me, that everyone who sees the Son, and believes in him, should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

John 6:44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up in the last day.

John 6:54 He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.

This is the same “last day” in which the unbelievers are to be judged. (John 12:47,48) Thus, both the believers and the unbelievers are raised in the same “last day” or “hour”. Consequently, when the heathen are gathered before Jesus for judgment as individuals, as spoken of in Matthew 25:32, it is during that last day. However, the just and the unjust are not raised at the same time during that “last day.” The saints will also have the privilege of participating in judging the world with Jesus, thus they have to be all raised “before” the judgment of the world begins, hence, the “first resurrection”.

Speaking prophetically, Daniel says:

“Judgment was given to the saints of the Most High, and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.” — Daniel 7:22.

This is basically the same language that is used of Jesus in John 5:22:

For neither does the Father judge any man, but he has given all judgment to the Son. — World English.

In harmony with Daniel 7:22, Paul states:

Don’t you know that the saints will judge the world? — 1 Corinthians 6:2.

He states that as a future event. That time is to be when the world is regenerated, since we read:

Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly I tell you, that you who have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on the throne of his glory, you also will sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. — Matthew 19:28.

Remember that it was only to Israel that Jesus came, and thus, in those who rejected Jesus, those of whom Jesus spoke in John 12:47,48, were directly of the twelve tribes of Israel. These twelve tribes, who did not accept Jesus, are included in the “world” that is spoken of in John 12:47, when Jesus said he came to “save the world” that they might be judged in the “last day.” (John 12:48) It was mainly the children of Israel that spoken of in John 1:10,11 as the world that did not recognize him, thus Israel is included as part of this “world”:

John 1:10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.

John 1:11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

This further indicates that this judging of those of Israel who rejected Jesus takes place at a future date, in the regeneration, when they are brought back to life for judgment, as spoken of in John 5:29.

In harmony with Daniel and Paul, John wrote prophetically of those who participate in the first resurrection:

I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. — Revelation 20:4.

While the saints are counted, reckoned, imputed, as having eternal life in this age (John 3:36; 1 John 5:13; see also: Romans 3:28; 4:5,24; 6:11), they receive their regeneration in this age (Titus 3:5) as a seed, a grain (1 Corinthians 15:38,39), as a token, an earnest, or down payment (Strong’s #728 — 2 Corinthians 1:21,22; 5:5; Ephesians 1:12-14), of that which is to come, but the saints do not actually receive eternal life until the “age to come.” (Mark 10:30; Luke 18:30; see also Romans 2:7; 8:24; 1 Timothy 6:12,19; Titus 1:2; 3:7) The saints are raised in the same “last day” during which the world is to be judged. (John 5:28,29; 6:39,40,44,54; 11:24) Thus, the “last day” is in the “age to come” that Jesus spoke of. However, they have to be raised before the unbelieving world if they are to participate in the judging of the unbelieving world, so their resurrection is termed “the first resurrection.” (Revelation 20:5,6) The saints are raised in the first part of “last day,” at which time they receive authority to judge the world, and the unbelieving world is raised for individual judgment later in that same “last day.”

Many are thrown off by the addition of some words that appear in Revelation 20:5: “The rest of the dead didn’t live until the thousand years were finished.” Thus there are many who teach that the world’s day of judgment takes place after the 1,000 years, and not during the 1,000 years. Some good evidence suggests that these words of Revelation 20:5 are spurious. The flow of language used also suggests that they are spurious. However, assuming that they are genuine, it would have to be understood as relating to their final coming to life, their receiving eternal life after of the 1,000 years (Matthew 25:46), and not to their being raised from hades. The unbelieving world returns in the age to come for their individual judgment during the 1,000 years, in the same “last day” that the saints are raised, and while Satan is abyssed, not after.

Acts 21:21-26 – The Early Christians and the Law

We are presenting the following excerpts from studies of others; we do not necessarily agree with all details as presented, but believe these to be beneficial to our readers. Names of Bible books have been expanded to aid in searches.

The first is an excerpt from Study V of Studies in the Scriptures, Volume 6, pages 227-229:.

The account of Paul’s course, recorded in Acts 21:20-26, is reflected upon as being contrary to his own teachings of the truth. It is claimed that it was because of wrong doing in this instance that Paul was permitted to suffer so much as a prisoner and was finally sent to Rome. But such a view is not borne out by Scripture-stated facts. The record shows that throughout this entire experience Paul had the sympathy and approval of all the other apostles, and, above all, the Lord’s continued favor. His course was at the instance of the other apostles. It was testified to him by prophecy, before he went to Jerusalem (Acts 21:10-14), that bonds and imprisonment awaited him; and it was in obedience to his convictions of duty that he braved all those predicted adversities. And when in the very midst of his trouble, we read, “The Lord stood by him and said, ‘Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome'”; and later we find the Lord again showing him favor, as we read, “There stood by me the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee.” (Acts 23:11; 27:23,24.) In view of these facts, we must seek an understanding of Paul’s course in correspondence with his uniformly bold and noble course–esteeming very highly the work and testimony which God not only did not reprove, but on the contrary approved.

Coming then to the examination of Acts 21:21-27, we notice (verse 21) that Paul had not taught that Jewish converts should not circumcise their children; nor did he repudiate the Mosaic law — rather, he honored it, by pointing out the greater and grander realities which Moses’ law so forcibly typified. So far, therefore, from repudiating Moses, he honored Moses and the Law, saying, The law is just and holy and good, and that by it the knowledge of the heinousness of sin had been increased; that the Law was so grand that no imperfect man could obey it fully, and that Christ, by keeping it, had won its rewards, and now under a New Covenant was offering everlasting life and blessings to those unable to keep it, who, by faith, accepted as the covering of their imperfections, his perfect obedience and sacrifice.

Certain ceremonies of the Jewish dispensation were typical of spiritual truths belonging to the Gospel age, such as the fasts, the celebration of new moons and Sabbath days and feasts. The apostle clearly shows that the Gospel of the New Covenant neither enjoins nor forbids these (the Lord’s Supper and Baptism being the only injunctions of a symbolic character commanded us, and they, new ones). — Colossians 2:16,17; Luke 22:19; Matthew 28:19.

One of these Jewish symbolic rites was that observed by Paul and the four Jews, which we are now examining, termed “purifying.” Being Jews, they had a right, if they chose, not only to consecrate themselves to God, in Christ, but also to perform the symbol of this purification. And this is what they did — the men who were with Paul having made, additionally, a vow to humiliate themselves, before the Lord and the people, by having their heads shaven. These symbolic ceremonies cost something; and the charges presumably made up the “offering” of money — so much for each, to defray the expenses of the Temple.

Paul never taught the Jews that they were free from the Law, — but, on the contrary, that the Law had dominion over each of them so long as he lived. He showed, however, that if a Jew accepted Christ, and became “dead with him,” it settled the claims of the Law Covenant upon such, and made them God’s freemen in Christ. (Romans 7:1-4) But he did teach the Gentile converts that they had never been under the Jewish Law Covenant, and that for them to attempt the practice of Jewish Law ceremonies and rites would imply that they were trusting in those symbols for their salvation, and not relying wholly upon the merit of Christ’s sacrifice. And to this all of the apostles assented. — See Acts 21:25; 15:20,23-29.

The following is from Frank Shallieu’s commentary on The Acts of the Apostles, pages 147, 148.

“Many thousands of Jews … which believe … are all zealous of the law”; that is, although many thousands of Jews became Christians, they continued to follow the Law faithfully. It was difficult for some to discard their old beliefs. For this reason, some of the brethren advised Paul to minimize any confrontations with the Jews by shaving his head under the Nazarite vow and going to the Temple with four others who had also taken Nazarite vows and shaved their heads. Many Jewish Christians urged Christians to obey the Law as well as the precepts of Christ.

With the Galatians, Paul had tried to show that the Jew was no longer obligated to follow the ceremonial features of the Law but that voluntary compliance was permissible under certain circumstances. Making the Law mandatory was the wrong principle. For example, Paul refused to have Titus circumcised but did have Timothy circumcised (Galatians 2:3-5; Acts 16:1-3). To the Jews, Paul was a Jew, and to the Gentiles, he was a Gentile in order to win converts (1 Corinthians 9:20,21). In other words, to comply with a feature of the Law under peer pressure would be compromising principle, but to voluntarily, in advance, follow a custom of the Jews was a different matter. If a Jewish Christian wanted to take a Nazarite vow or to tear his clothes and put ashes on his head in connection with mourning, he could do so. Here in Jerusalem at the time of Pentecost, the brethren thought Paul would be better received and heard by both Jews and Jewish Christians if he did not appear too radical.

Contrary to comments from three Reprint articles in the Expanded Biblical Comments, Paul properly followed the advice of the brethren. Although his actions boomeranged, as we shall subsequently see, he was correct to take the Nazarite vow and go with the other four. On multiple occasions, Paul demonstrated his courage, so he was not peer-pressured in taking the vow. He was simply listening to advice from the brethren, and he had been solicitous of going to Jerusalem for the Feast of Pentecost, evidently intending to take a vow anyway.

When the brethren realized his intention, they suggested he go to the Temple with four others. That way people would see him and conclude he was not that radical, for sometimes people exaggerate what they seem to think is a fault in others. From a sanctified common-sense standpoint, Paul’s following the advice of the brethren might have brought positive results, but as the Lord had foreseen, trouble would ensue and Paul had been told earlier what awaited him in Jerusalem. His reply was, “I am ready to be bound in Jerusalem and to die for Christ” (Acts 21:13 paraphrase).

And in regard to wisdom, Paul had more wisdom than any of the other brethren. Therefore, he acted within his rights. On another occasion, Paul said that he could eat meat offered to idols but that doing so might stumble others. Offering meat to an idol did not affect the meat, for the idol was like a nonexistent entity. However, he was very careful in regard to the consciences of others. While he felt free to do certain things, he refrained when doing so would offend a brother. Paul was considerate of the feelings of others, and now, in this situation in Jerusalem, he was considerate of the brethren who were giving him advice.

Comment: Paul was told that persecution awaited him, so he may have followed this advice for an even higher motive, which was to show the brethren that whatever Providence determined would happen and nothing man could do would change the situation. Then his actions in following the advice would be even more to his credit.

Comment: It was difficult for some to make the transition from the Law to liberty in Christ, and Paul was trying to help them.

Regarding eating things sacrificed to idols, see our study:
For the Sake of the Other’s Conscience

Some other studies related this this:

The Jewish Influence in the Early Church Meetings

A Question of Motive

The Passing Away of the Law -r

A Brief Scriptural Summary:

Only the people of Israel came to be under the Law. — Exodus 19:5,6; Deuteronomy 4:4; 7:6; 26:18; Psalm 147:19; Isaiah 63:19; Amos 3:2; Romans 3:1,2.

All the other nations were not given that Law Covenant. — Exodus 12:43,45; Deuteronomy 14:21; Romans 2:12,14.

The Law becomes inactive for any Jew who becomes dead to the Law through acceptance of Jesus.  — Luke 16:14-31; Romans 7:1-6; 1 Corinthians 7:39.

It does not automatically pass away for the Jew, but such passes away for each Jewish believer. — 2 Corinthians 3:14.

And even then, it is the typical Law Covenant that passes away (Colossians 2:16,17; Hebrews 7:11-28; 8:4,5,13; 10:1), not the reality of God’s eternal Law of love which is expressed within the Law Covenant. — Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 13:10; Galatians 5:14; James 2:8.

Divine Law – Part 1

For the law was given through Moses. Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. — John 1:17, World English

We should not think that the above words mean that there was no divine law governing heaven and earth previous to the giving of the Law at Mt. Sinai through Moses; such would be as unreasonable as to suppose that neither grace nor truth were known throughout the universe until our Lord’s first advent.

On the contrary, we may say that, as surely as it is true that God himself had no beginning, so we can reasonably assume that truth had no beginning and that law itself had no beginning; for God’s righteous will has always been the law incumbent upon all his creation. There was a beginning to falsehood, and Satan is credited with being “the father of lies” (John 8:44); but since God is the Father of truth, we have reason to conclude it had no beginning even as he was never untrue. There was, however, a beginning to lawlessness or sin, and Satan is credited with being the first transgressor; but, since God’s will or law is the standard of righteousness, it follows that it, like him, has been from eternity past and will extend to eternity future.

We have no direct scripture that conclusively proves that God’s government has always existed; the nearest statement in the Bible we have found is that of Psalm 93:2; the World English reads: “Your throne is established from long ago. You are from everlasting.” While this does not literally state that God’s throne has been established from eternity past, it would seem to indicate that this is so by following up with the thought of God’s own eternal past existence. Since the government of God is universal and if assumed to be without beginning or end, it would follow that there never was a time or a place without law. On the other hand, since there was a time when there was no creation at all, then there would have been no created subjects for God’s law to be active upon. Thus, another assumption could be that God’s throne was established upon the first creative act of God. Nevertheless,  even with this assumption, His Law,  in principle, would have existed even without any creation, and  therefore before the act of establishing his throne to enforce that Law.

Notwithstanding, God’s law was made known at Mt. Sinai, through Moses, in a different manner than it had previously been made known. Angels were created before mankind, and the scriptures relate that man was created “a little lower than the angels.” (Psalm 8:5,6; Hebrews 2:7) As man was created in the moral image of the Creator and the firstborn creature (Genesis 1:26; Colossians 1:15), and as the angels were created higher than man, we can reasonably assume that the angels were also created in God’s moral image. Thus, God had given them such intelligence on even a higher degree than man so that they could distinguish right from wrong. Their minds were so properly balanced that right always appeared as right, and wrong never could be mistaken for right. This capability of discernment, on the part of the creature, is said to be God’s “image,” which, when possessed, obviates the necessity of any written law. Adam, the first of the human race, was also created in God’s moral image, and had this law of God written in the construction of his being, or, as it is sometimes said, written upon his heart, of which mankind now falls short (Romans 3:23), but to which mankind is to be restored. — Jeremiah 31:33; Acts 3:23; Romans 2:15; 2 Corinthians 3:3; 1 Timothy 2:5,6.

The Law Covenant given through Moses, however, was a restricted set of laws and ordinances given to a restricted people (the children of Israel — Deuteronomy 4:44), much of which pertained to a certain land of area of the earth, designed for men who were falling short of the full glory of due to sin. (Romans 3:23) This Law Covenant was not made with anyone before it was given through Moses. (Deuteronomy 5:3) As a sign to the children of Israel as respecting His covenant with them, God gave the children of Israel the seventh-day sabbath and seven-day festivals to keep. (Exodus 13:5,6,7,8,9,10; 31:13,14,15,16,17,18) Although the Law proved that man could not make himself straight, justify himself (Ecclesiastes 1:15;  7:13;  Romans 3:20; Galatians 2:16; 3:11), the offer made under that covenant was that if one under the covenant arrangement could have obeyed that Law, he would be restored to life as Adam had it before Adam sinned. (Leviticus 18:5; Romans 10:5) Thus, had any man perfectly obeyed that Law, then, as Paul wrote, “if there had been a law given which could make alive, most assuredly righteousness would have been of the law.” (Galatians 3:21) The reason that the Law Covenant could make no man alive was because of man’s crooked condition, from which he could not make himself straight — justified. Nevertheless, that Law covenant was for unrighteous (crooked) man, it was not for a righteous (straight) man. — 1 Timothy 1:9.

The law given by Moses would have been entirely out of place in heaven, or in Eden before sin entered. With the law of God (briefly comprehended in one word, love — to God and all his creatures in fellowship with him — Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 13:10) written in their very beings, how strange it would have seemed to the angels if God had set up in heaven the Mosaic law tables or copies of them. Of what service could such a statement of the law of God be to such beings, who already had a much higher conception of it? And such a presentation to Adam in Eden before his fall would have been similarly useless; and it was not done.

But why was the Law given by Moses? Why about 2500 years after the fall of Adam into sin and death? Why at Mt. Sinai? Why to the nation of Israel, and not to all nations or any other nation? Why was it written upon stones? Why that departure from the previous method of expressing it?

The mere reading of these questions, and a reflection upon the facts upon which they rest, should relieve the mind of many inconsistencies and prepare it for the answer to them all.

The first man Adam was given one simple command that would demonstrate his obedience to law of God, that which was written in his being; his disobedience to the command was, in effect, a violation of the law that had been written in his being. The result was that he came under the condemnation for such disobedience, that is, death. However, along with this death sentence, in order that the matter of may demonstrated as to what it would mean to live without harmony with divine law, God subjected the whole creation of mankind to vanity (Ecclesiastes 1:2,14; Romans 8:20), and God turned man’s mind over to reprobate condition. (Romans 1:28) Man was no longer straight and just; God made man crooked and in bondage to corruption, but with the hope that man would be freed from that bondage. (Genesis 3:15; Romans 8:21) Due to Adam’s disobedience, the original law written in his heart became marred, so that his mental and moral processes were no longer on the incorrupt level, but were operating on a corrupted level, for corruption came into the world through lust, a desire out of harmony with God’s eternal law, that that desire led to disobedience. (2 Peter 1:4; James 1:15; Romans 5:12-19) Thus began the effacement from his heart of that power of discerning or intuitively knowing right from wrong. The fallen conditions favored the cultivation of selfishness, and exalted selfishness to be the rule of life, instead of love, as in God’s original creation.

The more selfishness came in and gained control, the more the original law of love was erased from man’s heart. And the fall continued naturally from parent to child as years rolled on, until, in Moses’ day, it is safe to say that, with the majority of the race, the original law was almost gone. A general picture of the whole human race, both Jew and Gentile, is given by the Apostle with an account of just what led to such a dreadful condition. –See Romans 1:21-2:1; 5:12-19.

When the first man sinned, however, God immediately gave a covenant of promise as recorded in Genesis 3:15, which in symbolic language foretold that there would an undoing of the condemnation upon man. Later, due to Abraham’s faith, God gave another covenant of promise to Abraham, that through his seed all families, all nations, of the earth would be blessed.  (Genesis 22:18; 26:4; 28:14) It was because of the faith of Abraham, that God made the promise that Abraham’s descendants would receive the land of Canaan, and thus the Law Covenant. (Genesis 12:7; 13:15; 15:7; 17:8; Deuteronomy 9:5) But, as though to insure men that the Hebrews were not naturally superior to other men, God permitted them to go for centuries into slavery to the Egyptians (Numbers 20:15; Deuteronomy 6:21; 16:12; 24:18), then to be his chosen nation out of all the nations of the earth. — Exodus 19:5,6; Deuteronomy 7:6; 10:15; 26:18; 32:9; Amos 3:2.

From this we conclude that the Law given at Sinai was given because the original law, expressed in Adam’s nature twenty-five centuries previous, had become almost extinct and unintelligible. It was given to a chosen people, at the hands of a specially chosen leader. It could not have been re-written upon their hearts, because that would have implied the restoration of that nation to Edenic perfection; and that was impossible because the condemnation  under which that perfection was lost was death, and that condemnation and the subjection to vanity still rested upon Israel and upon all men, and would continue until a ransom could be found, for Adam, — and hence for all who lost life in him.

The best way to express the law of love to those who do not possess the spirit of love, or mental likeness of God, is as God indicated it in the ten commandments written in stone, — Thou shalt, and Thou shalt not. This brings us to the question, Why did God give the law on tables of stone? Why did he not wait until the due time to send his Son to be our ransom-price, and then, after he had redeemed or purchased all from the sentence of death, begin the work of “restitution of all things” (Acts 3:21) –t he re-writing of the original law in the human heart?

The Apostle answers this important question. He tells us that when God told Abraham that he would bless all nations through his seed, he referred not to all of his offspring, but to Christ Jesus, who, according to the flesh, would be born of Abraham’s descendants; and that with Jesus he would select others who would be brought into the covenant through Jesus, all of whom would constitute the seed of Abraham, one seed made up of many members, but all of one spirit with him. This seed, once perfected, will share with Jesus in the work of blessing all the families of earth. (Galatians 3:16,29; 1 Peter 1:11; Romans 8:17,18) Paul tells that the righteous seed, Jesus, had to first come and provide the redemptive price, before the selection of the remainder seed of faith, because they would need to have the merit of redemption applied to them in order for them to join Jesus as members of the seed of Abraham by faith. But as a long interval lay between the promise to Abraham and the “due time” for God to send his Son to redeem men, God purposed a work with Abraham’s natural children, which would fill the interim between then and the coming of Christ Jesus, the real “seed of Abraham” according to the divine intention.

This law covenant which Yahweh proposed with Israel, Abraham’s natural children, would do them great good, even though they might thereby pass through some very severe experiences; it would not only keep them from sinking lower into degradation and losing the image of God as completely as some other nations; but in a few cases it might even make the original law more discernible. And not only so, but this Law given to Israel would be to some extent a standard before the world; and thus Abraham’s natural seed might lift up a standard to the people and to a slight extent bless all nations, by calling a halt in the downward course and by reviving in all to some degree the dying influence of the original law of conscience. Nevertheless, the Law was given to a sinful people, under the bondage of corruption, made crooked, etc., and thus most of the Law Covenant reflects this. Furthermore, much of the Law Covenant could only apply to this people in the land promised to them, since many of the commandments of the Law Covenant pertain only to that land.

Of this law covenant the Apostle declares, The Law “was added [to the Abrahamic covenant of promise] because of transgressions [because sin was spreading and men were degrading very rapidly], till the [promised] Seed should come [until Christ came (not only Christ Jesus, the Head, but also the Church his body) to do the real work, the time for which had come] to whom the [Abrahamic Covenant] promise was made.” “For the Law made nothing perfect:” and, moreover, “the Law which was [given] 430 years after [the Covenant made with Abraham] cannot disannul [or in any manner change the terms and conditions of that covenant], that it should make the promise of none effect.” — Galatians 3:19,17; Hebrews 7:19.

But this covenant which God made with Israel was something more than they could fulfill. Although the Law Covenant contained some promises for obedience to particular laws, and it also held the promise of life for those who obey all the laws of the covenant, it is not among the “covenants of promise” that Paul speaks of in Ephesians 2:2. In Galatians 3 & 4, Paul separates the Abrahamic covenant of promise from the Law Covenant. Paul states: “If the inheritance is of the law, it is no more of promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by promise.” (Galatians 3:18) Additionally, he stated: “For not through the law was the promise to Abraham or to his seed that he should be heir of the world, but through the righteousness of faith.” (Romans 4:13) And we should also note that the promise to Abraham is built upon the earlier promise of the seed of woman. (Genesis 3:15) Thus, there are at least two covenants of promise.

The Law Covenant given to Israel was fruitless as far as the promise of life, because the Law was weak for such purposes due the sinful flesh of mankind. (Romans 8:3) Thus, Paul wrote: “if there had been a law given which could make alive, most assuredly righteousness would have been of the law.” Therefore, it fails as being a covenant of promise as spoken of by Paul in Ephesians 2:2. The Law Covenant itself produced no living sons of God, for no one is justified by that covenant, thus it fails as a covenant of promise, whereas the earlier covenant of promise with Abraham, as well as the even earlier covenant of promise of the seed of woman (Genesis 3:15), do not fail.

God’s dealings with Israel, however were typical of his dealings future from their day. Their Sin-offerings, for instance, typically took away their sins, and brought reconciliation to God for a year at a time to the nation; but, as the Apostle says, those sacrifices could not really cancel sin. — “The blood [death] of bulls and goats can never take away sin.” (Hebrews 10:4) It was man that had sinned, and man that had been sentenced to death, and the death of the animal could at most only typify the death of the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all. (1 Corinthians 15:21,22; Hebrews 10:1-10; 1 Timothy 2:5,6) And not only their sacrifices, but God’s every dealing with that nation, seems to have a typical lesson, the reality of which reaches down either to the Gospel age and even beyond into the age to come. (1 Corinthians 10:6; Colossians 2:17; Hebrews 8:5; 10:1) From what we have shown foregoing respecting the divine law, which establishes the lines of right and wrong upon every question, and which, like its Author, is eternally the same unalterable law, we trust that our readers see clearly that the giving of the Law at Sinai had a special, peculiar significance of its own, incidental to the people to whom it was given.

(The above was adapted from R1723)

2 Corinthians 3 – The Law, the Veil, and the New Covenant

Since certain verses in 2 Corinthians 3 are often cited and given applications out of context, we are presenting below a few comments on this whole chapter as related to the law and new covenants.

2 Corinthians 3:1 – Are we beginning again to commend ourselves? Or do we need, as do some, letters of commendation to you or from you?

There were those who were making the false charge that Paul had appointed himself as an apostle, and was thus commending himself as such. — 2 Corinthians 5:12; 10:8.

Paul is saying his commendation as an apostle came through Christ, and he did not need a letter of commendation from the church in Corinth, nor did he need a letter of commendation from anyone else so as to speak to the Christians in Corinth as an apostle. — 2 Corinthians 12:11; Galatians 1:17-19.

2 Corinthians 3:2 — You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men.

Paul is saying that the Corinthian Christians are themselves a testimony that he was an apostle, since he had brought so many of them to Christ.

2 Corinthians 3:3 — being revealed that you are a letter of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tablets of stone, but in tablets that are hearts of flesh.

The Corinthians Christians serve as a testimony of Paul’s ministry, not by anything written on tablets of stone, but rather what had become written in the tablets of their heart. By this he also begins to bring into focus the Law covenant, which was written on stones, and he contrasts what is written with the spirit of Yahweh with that written by means of the human hand through Moses. “The Spirit of the living God” parallels “spirit of the Lord” or “spirit of Yahweh” in 2 Corinthians 3:17, denoting the influence, power, of God’s holy spirit.

2 Corinthians 3:4 – Such confidence we have through Christ toward [Yahweh].

The testimony of Paul’s work with the Corinthian brothers adds to Paul’s confidence that he is not a false apostle, and that his repentance toward Yahweh through Jesus had been accepted, and that he was indeed appointed by God and Jesus as an apostle. The turning, the repentance, is toward Yahweh, through Christ. The turning is not toward Christ, but toward the God and Father of Jesus through Jesus.

2 Corinthians 3:5 – Not that we are sufficient of ourselves, to account anything as from ourselves; but our sufficiency is from [Yahweh].

Paul did not claim his salvation from sin and death by obedience to the Law, which would meant that his sufficiency would have been of himself, but rather he claimed that which had been provided by Yahweh, as shown in the next verse.

2 Corinthians 3:6 — Who also made us sufficient as servants of a new covenant; not of the letter, but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Paul contrasts the new covenant with that of the Old Law Covenant through Moses, and shows that the Law Covenant kills, it condemns, since sinful flesh cannot obey that Law.

2 Corinthians 3:7 – But if the service of death, written engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the children of Israel could not look steadfastly on the face of Moses for the glory of his face; which was passing away.

The service of the Law Covenant is called “the service of death,” since it was weak because of the sinful flesh, and thus, rather than bringing anyone to life, it condemned the one seeking life through that Law to death. And yet, the Law Covenant itself “came with glory;” it was the light by which one could have life if one could obey that light. But due to the bondage of corruption that is upon mankind by means of Adam’s sin, that which would have been to life, became death.

2 Corinthians 3:8 – Won’t service of the Spirit be with much more glory?

The spirit here is the promised spirit of the new covenant, the power, or reckoning of which, is attained by “tasting” of power of the age to come (Hebrews 6:5), when the spirit will be poured out upon all peoples. (Jeremiah 30,31) The new creation that comes through the blood of the new covenant does not fall short of the glory of Yahweh, and is thus with much more glory than trying to attain righteousness through the Law Covenant, for no one was ever justified, made straight, by that Law so that he could say that he did not fall short of the glory of Yahweh. — Romans 3:23.

2 Corinthians 3:9 – For if the service of condemnation has glory, the service of righteousness exceeds much more in glory.

The law condemns, but the Law is the light of Yahweh (Proverbs 6:23), by which, if one should obey that Law, he would live. Jesus obeyed that Law and became the light of Yahweh amongst men. (John 1:4,5) The law, having its own glory, while it provided a typical glory toward those under the Law, did not provide the glory of a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), which does not fall short of the glory of Yahweh.

The service of righteousness is first of all, the service of Jesus, who became our righteousness, and secondarily, of all who are justified through his righteous blood, and who, as new creatures, are thus servants of righteousness.

2 Corinthians 3:10 – For most assuredly that which has been made glorious has not been made glorious in this respect, by reason of the glory that surpasses.

That which has been made glorious through faith in Jesus surpasses the glory of the Law Covenant, since the Law Covenant proved ineffectual to restoring those under the Law to the glory of God due to the sinful flesh. — Romans 8:3.

2 Corinthians 3:11 – For if that which passes away was with glory, much more that which remains is in glory.

That which is passing away is the Law Covenant. It does not pass away as long as there is still one Jew who is under that Law. Each Jew who turns toward Yahweh in repentance, through Christ, becomes dead to the Law, and for that one, the Law has passed away.

2 Corinthians 3:12 – Having therefore such a hope, we use great boldness of speech.

By what has been given to him through Christ, Paul claims the right to speak boldly by means of the spirit that had been given to him, not just as new creature, but as an apostle of Christ.

2 Corinthians 3:13 and not as Moses, who put a veil on his face, that the children of Israel wouldn’t look steadfastly on the end of that which was passing away.

The reference is to when Moses came down from the mountain after he had seen the glory of Yahweh. His face shone with the brightness of the glory of Yahweh, so that, he covered his face that the glory would not shine upon, and that the people could gaze upon, the glory of Yahweh. Paul is using that veil as a figure of how the Jew could not bring himself into the glory of Yahweh by means of keeping the Law.

2 Corinthians 3:14 – But their minds were hardened, for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains, because [by means of] Christ it passes away.
2 Corinthians 3:15 – But to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart.

The obstructive veil is still upon the Jew to this day, who reads the Law, for his heart is hardened without Christ, being of sinful nature, and unable to bring himself into the righteousness that is not short of the glory of God. The law condemns, because of man’s sinful condition, it does not justify, and thus it cannot bring anyone into the righteousness that does not fall short of the glory of God. — Romans 3:20; 8:3; Galatians 2:16; 3:11.

The veil is a reference to the veil that Moses put over his face after receiving the ten commandments, since his face was aglow from having seen the glory of Yahweh. (Exodus 34:29-35) That veil is being used as type to demonstrate how the Jew who is still alive to the Law continues to fall short of the glory of Yahweh. — Romans 3:23.

A veil causes blindness (2 Corinthians 4:4), but here it is used more as a obstruction to the glory of Yahweh; they have not been made free from the law of sin and death. — Isaiah 60:1; Romans 8:2.

2 Corinthians 3:16 – But whenever one turns to [Yahweh], the veil is taken away.

One turns to Yahweh [not to Jesus] through repentance, through faith in the blood of Jesus, not by works of the Law. — Matthew 13:15; Mark 4:12; Luke 1:16; Acts 3:13,19,20; 20:21; 26:20; Hebrews 6:1.

2 Corinthians 3:17 – Now [Yahweh] is the spirit and where the spirit of [Yahweh] is, there is liberty.

Contrary to the way many use this verse, in either claiming that Jesus is a spirit being, or that God is a spirit being, the word “spirit” in in the first instance is not referring to the substance of God or Jesus, but rather of spirit, the one behind the New Covenant, which brings freedom, not just from the condemnation of the Law, but also from the condemnation of sin and death through Adam, through the blood of Jesus. Yahweh, through his holy spirit, can be said the spirit of the New Covenant, since the holy spirit belongs to Yahweh. It would not be proper, however, to turn that around so as to say, “The [holy] spirit is Yahweh.”

Nevertheless, as the “spirit” is used in 2 Corinthians 3:3 as belonging to the living God, likewise, the same in 2 Corinthians 3:17, where the spirit is identified as the spirit of Yahweh.

2 Corinthians 3:18 – But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of [Yahweh], are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from [Yahweh], the spirit.

“We all” here evidently means all the Jews who have become dead to the Law through Christ, although every Christian, whether he was ever a Jew under the Law or not, having become a new creation, he is with unveiled face as as to behold the glory of Yahweh. The latter part of the verse, however, can only apply to the Jew, who having been a servant of the Law, passes from the glory of that servitude into the glory of service to the New Covenant, so that he, as a new creation, does not fall short of the glory of the image of God. The Jew still reads that Law, and is thus still condemned by that Law, and world is corrupted and under the bondage of corruption, and thus we know that Law has not yet “passed away”, nor have the present heavens and earth passed away, giving way the age to come where there will no longer be the bondage of corruption (the crooked condition), but rather there will righteousness, straightness. (Ecclesiastes 1:15; 7:13; Matthew 5:18; 2 Peter 3:10,13) At the present time, it is only to those who taste of the blessing of that age to come through faith in Christ who are a new creation, and for whom the old has passed away, so that the new creature in this age is counted — through faith — as though belonging to that day yet to come. — 2 Corinthians 5:17, 1 Thessalonians 5:8; Hebrews 6:5; Revelation 21:1-5.

See also:

Yahweh, the Spirit and How God’s Son Condemned Sin in the Flesh

New Covenant (RL Site Search)

Below are links to Google searches for “new covenant” for both the “rlbible.com” and the “reslight.net” sites. The results are not perfect, and may contain comments by others or from sites that have linked to our sites.

Click Here to search for “new covenant” with “rlbible.com”.

Click Here for search for “new covenant” with “reslight.net”.

Matthew 26:28


God’s Covenants (Herald Links)

The following links are written by Bible Students. While we agree with most of what is said, we do not necessarily agree with all that is said.

January/February 2010:

In the Beginning (God’s Covenants) Audio MP3

Obey and Live Audio MP3
The first covenant was between God and Adam. — Genesis 2:16,17

The Rainbow Covenant Audio MP3 — Genesis 9:16
God promised there would never be another flood.

The Harmony of the Covenants Audio MP3
God’s covenants work together to provide man’s salvation.

All the Nations Shall Be Blessed Audio MP3 – Abrahamic Covenant; Genesis 22:17.
God’s covenant with Abraham described his entire plan of salvation.

What Was the Purpose of the Law? Audio MP3 — Galatians 3:24.
The Law Covenant kept Israel a separated people.

The Barren One Will Rejoice Audio MP3 – Galatians 4:28.

I Will Make a New Covenant Audio MP3 – Jeremiah 31:31.
The New Covenant provides blessings for everyone.

The Prophecies and Promises of Jeremiah 31 Audio MP3
Jeremiah 31 contains promises of future blessing for Israel and all mankind.

<><><><><><><><><>

Other Links:

A New CovenantConsiders the Old and New Testament use of this term, and analyzes some of the puzzling details regarding this covenant. – Jeremiah 31:31.

Noah’s Covenant and the Promise Covenant – Isaiah 54:9.