The Resurrection At “The End” – What Is “The End?”
This is the fourth installment from an excellent article by my friend Holger Neubaeur. In this study, Holger is giving us some great exegetical insights into what the Bible actually says about the the resurrection. In this installment, Holger investigates the subject of “the end” since the Bible posits the resurrection at that time. Most Bible students believe that “the end” is reference to the end of time. But, this installment shows that this simply is not true! Be sure to read the previous articles in this series #1 #2 #3.
In 1 Corinthians 15:23 Paul affirms the divine order of spiritual life, “But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they are Christ’s at his coming.” Jesus was returning to claim his own. The firstfruits include the dead saints as Zechariah 14:5 prophesied that, “the Lord thy God shall come, and all the saints with thee.” During this same time period Zechariah proclaimed, “And the Lord shall be king over all the earth, in that day there shall be one Lord and his name one” (Zechariah 14:9). This time when there would be “one king” over all the earth coincides with the kingdom message preached into all the world (Matthew 24:14; Colossians 1:6,23; Romans 16:26). Zechariah speaks of Jesus’ second coming in which the promises of the Old Testament saints would now be fulfilled. Paul is referring to the same event.
In the Revelation we have the same great theme: the temple measured and destroyed (11:1,2), the dead witnesses lie in the city where Jesus was crucified (11:8) and the kingdom becoming one (11:15) then the judgment and the resurrection (11:18,19). This judgment and the resurrection involved the Hadean world as the dead ones would “hear” his voice (John 5:28,29). The dead souls would have heard in Hades, not in physical tombs where their bodies would have long been deteriorated. The reclamation of the kingdom was spiritual in nature as the “kingdom of God cometh not with observation” (Luke 17:20).
The Resurrection and The End – What End?
Paul now speaks of the one great end of scripture. 1 Corinthians 15:24 says, “Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule, and all authority and power.” This verse needs to be understood in light of Matthew 25:31 in which Jesus would come “sit upon the throne of his glory.” Jesus did not come to quit in his kingdom but to sit in his kingdom. The traditional view has Jesus divorcing his wife, rather than marrying her. In Revelation 19:7 the marriage took place at the coming of Christ. This is the time the church would be presented as a “chaste virgin” to Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2). The marriage of Christ to the church is the perfect figure of the Old Testament espousal or betrothal period and the marriage itself. Moses said, “who hath betrothed a wife and not taken her” (Deuteronomy 20:7).
The betrothal of Old Covenant Israel took place at Pentecost as Israel obeyed the gospel, but was not consummated until Jesus’ return by divorcing the unfaithful of the Old Covenant Israel. The New Testament is the divorce document! As the gospel was preached, those Jews who turned away would be rejecting the marriage offer. In the parable of the wedding feast in Matthew 22, the city was burned because the marriage was refused (22:7). The marriage and the resurrection would take place at “the end.”
As stated before, Daniel 12:2 which is the only Old Testament text that mentions specifically a resurrection of both just and unjust, tells us that it would take place at “the time of the end” (Daniel 12:4,6,8 and 13). This is the time that the power of the holy people would become completely shattered (Daniel 12:7). This “time of the end” is commonly mistaken for the “end of time.” The Bible never speaks of the end of time, but rather the time of the end. The Christian age is an everlasting age and an everlasting age can have no end or even last day. The last day is the same day that Daniel was promised that he would stand in his lot (Daniel 12:13). Daniel was promised the resurrection at the “end of days.”
The kingdom, which emphasizes relationship with God, would be restored now to the Father as the dead saints were invited to Heaven (Luke 21:31; Revelation 12:10; 15:8). Jesus wasn’t quitting the kingdom, he was now “sitting” in it! The power and rule of Christ that began at the cross, was initiated on Pentecost and consummated in the second coming of Christ. This end is the same end found in 1 Corinthians 1:6-8. Spiritual gifts were to confirm these very Corinthians “to the end.” If the end has not come, we still have spiritual gifts in the church. There are no spiritual gifts, therefore, the end has come. Paul stated the “end” had arrived (1 Corinthians 10:11)! Paul speaks of one consistent end as did all the writers of the New Testament (Hebrews 3:6; 6;11). This is the same event Peter referred to when he said, “the end of all things is at hand” ( 1 Peter 4:7).