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August 1, 2011 / Daniel

Already but Not Yet, Inaugurated Eschatology

Resurrection of Christ

One of my favorite profs in the exegesis program at Wheaton was Greg Beale.    Now that I have been out of school for awhile, I am beginning to realize how much he influenced my understanding of the Bible.    Dr.  Beale had two passions that he brought up almost in every class–intertextuality and inaugurated eschatology.    Intertextuality is the study of how Scripture interprets itself via allusions, echoes, and quotations.

Inaugurated Eschatology is the belief that Jesus inaugurated the kingdom at his 1st coming and He will consummate the kingdom at his 2nd coming.

Scripture often speaks of salvation in two different senses—the already and the not yet. In the 1st century, Jewish eschatology focused on two different stages, the present evil age and the age to come (George Ladd). The present evil age is dominated by sin and death, and yet in the age to come the Creator God would bring healing and restoration to His fallen creation.

The NT writers worked within this framework and yet they modified it in light of the resurrection of Jesus Christ (Rom. 12:2; Gal. 1:1-4). When Jesus Christ rose from the dead, it marked the dawn of a new age (John 20:1). It was the beginning of God’s new creation. Jesus’ resurrection was the firstfruits of what God intends to do for the rest of His creation (1 Cor. 15:20-26).

On Easter morning, God’s new creation invaded our present fallen world. And yet, we still await a day when Christ will return and this new age will be consummated. So now we live between these two ages.  We have seen a glimpse of the age to come, but we still live in the midst of this present evil age.  Our salvation is already, but not yet. This tension can be seen in the most of theological concepts through New Testament.

For instance, consider John 5:24-29.

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.  “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.   For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.  And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man.  Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

Here Jesus describes eternal life as both present and future reality.   Jesus says that the hour of resurrection is “now here.” (The term “hour” is an allusion to Daniel 12:1).     The hour is here because those who hear Jesus’ words and believe have experienced the miracle of regeneration (spiritual resurrection).   He also indicates that there will be a future time of resurrection at the end of history.

In other words, conversion marks the beginning of eternal life.   The final resurrection marks its consummation.

This post is a revision of  a post from November 29, 2007.  

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