A Short Excerpt form "Crucial Questions About the Kingdom of God"

 

George Eldon Ladd

 


 

The Old Testament looks forward to the manifestation of God's kingdom primarily in terms of its eschatological consummation. The kingdom is usually seen established on the earth; but sometimes the vision goes beyond the earth into the age to come (Isaiah 65:1, 66:22), when there will be new heavens and a new earth. However, these two stages of the future eschatological kingdom are not clearly differentiated in the Old Testament.

In the Gospels, there is scarcely more distinction made between the earthly kingdom and the eternal kingdom. The future perspective for the most part envisages the ultimate fulfillment of the kingdom whose powers were manifested in the historic mission of Jesus.

Paul in one place goes a bit further to indicate his expectation of an interval between the Parousia and the telos; but his interests are quite soteriological and individual, and he gives little attention to the larger manifestation of the kingdom of God.

In the Revelation? ? the one prophetic book of the New Testament? ? the relationship between the earthly and the eternal kingdom is made clear. For the first time, Scripture teaches that there is to be an interregnum, a temporal earthly kingdom, which precedes the final eternal age to come of the new heavens and the new earth. Paul indeed suggests this interregnum, but his words are not as explicit as is the Revelation. For the first time, it is clear that the resurrection is to take place in two stages; a resurrection of the saved before the millennium and a resurrection of the unsaved at its termination*. The fact that the relationship of these events which will see the consummation of God's kingly rule is made explicit for the first time only in the last verses of the last book of the Bible should pose no acute problem to those who believe in progressive revelation.

The basic question remains: What does the exegesis of Revelation 20 require? All other considerations must be subservient to the exegesis of this passage.

 

*There are passages elsewhere that hint at such a partial resurrection (Luke 14:14, 20:35, I Thess. 4:16, Phil . 3:11, I Cor. 15:23) or a resurrection in two stages (Daniel 12:2, John 5:29).

 


Crucial Questions About the Kingdom of God. George E. Ladd. Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co. Grand Rapids, MI. 1952. Pages 182-3.