The Eschatology of Jesus: Kingdom of God in the New Testament and Conclusion

Author’s Note: This is a two-part series. You can read the first post here.


Castle-ClipArt--Graphics-Fairy2Kingdom of God in the New Testament

Jesus spoke of the kingdom of God as having come with His coming to the earth.[1] In Mark 1:15, speaking about repentance, He says that “the kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe in the Gospel.” In Matthew 12:28 He says that if He drives out demons by the “Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” In Luke 4:22 when John the Baptist sent his disciples to inquire of Jesus if He was “the one to come,” He responded by referring to the blind, the lame, and the lepers that He had healed (Matt. 11:5). In so doing, He used language from Isaiah to indicate that the kingdom is present on earth.(29:18; 35:4-6; 61:1).

Yet in Luke 4:43 Jesus told the people that He must go and preach the kingdom of God to the other cities because this was His purpose for coming. Here He implies the future coming of the kingdom of God, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose.” In another passage He continues this theme,

Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following,

“Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel. I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 8:10-12).

Eschatological in nature

In response to His disciples’ request, Jesus gives His “great discourse on the end times” in Matthew 24-25.[2]  In this discourse Jesus “promises that He will come again” (v. 24:30).[3] He also mentions the “Son of Man” several times during His discourse (vv. 27, 37, 39, 42, 44).[4] And in verse 24:30 we read, “And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.”  In speaking about the eschatological nature of Jesus’ teachings Travis writes:

Jesus used the language of the two ages. E.g., Mark 10:30 – there is no disciple ‘who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, … and in the age to come eternal life’· His more characteristic phrase, ‘the kingdom of God’ is not a regular apocalyptic phrase· But Jesus does seem to use it as a way of referring to the age to come – an age distinct from this age which can come only by the activity of God (Mt. 6:10)· Between the present age and the age to come, highlighting the discontinuity between them, will be the final judgement (Mt. 19:28)·[5]

Death and Eternal Life

For the believer, the resurrection is an important part of eschatology. Erickson writes, “This is the basis for the believer’s hope in the face of death. Although death is inevitable, the believer anticipates being delivered from its power.”[6]

Jesus taught the resurrection of the believer explicitly in several passages in the New Testament. The fifth chapter of John has an excellent example of Jesus’ resurrection teaching:

Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live…Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment (vv 25, 28-29).

There is also the passage in Mark 12:24-27, in which Jesus tells the Sadducees “who deny the resurrection” that they were incorrect because of their “lack of knowledge of the Scriptures and of the power of God.”[7] The raising of Lazarus also serves as an affirmation of the resurrection (John 11:24-44).[8]

Judgment

For many people, the final judgment is a fearful event that will take place as a part of eschatology. This is especially true for those who are outside of Christ. For believers, the judgment should not be fearful, but rather it should be anticipated because this is when they will be shown to have been justified. The final judgment will not bring to light our “spiritual condition or status,” but instead it will “make our status public.”[9]

Jesus spoke of judgment in the last days and He “pictured Himself as sitting on a glorious throne and judging all nations (Matthew 25:31-33).”[10] Although in Hebrews 12:23 God is the judge, according to Jesus, the Father has given Him “authority to execute judgment” (John 5:26-29).[11]

Although the following set of Scriptures were not spoken by Jesus, they do point to His role in the last days as it is portrayed in the book of Revelation. As a part of the judgment, Jesus is also the “One who restores the fallen creation to the Father (see Psalm 2; Psalm 110; Dan 7:9–14; and 1 Cor 15:24–28).”[12] First, it all starts in Revelation 6 when Jesus opens the seals of judgment. In Revelation 4-5 Jesus is the only one worthy to take the “book from the hand of the father.”[13] As with the seals of judgments, He is the one who opens the book, “unleashing its contents upon the earth.”[14] In Revelation 6:12-16, the “people on the earth realize that they are facing the wrath of the Lamb and the One who sits on the throne.”[15]

Second, He restores the creation to His father with His “rule as Davidic King over the earth.”[16] This is seen when the angel Gabriel tells Mary that her son will be given the throne of David, He will rule over the house of Jacob, and His kingdom will have no end (Luke 1:32-33).”[17]

Conclusion

This was a study on the eschatology of Jesus. To truly understand eschatology and its implications for mankind, there must be an understanding of Jesus’ teachings on eschatology. By turning to the resources available from several different journal articles the point of this study was able to ascertain what the teachings of Jesus were on eschatology.

Eschatology is the study of the end; an end that will usher in the new heaven and earth. Believers who are dead will be bodily resurrected, and those who are raptured will spend eternity worshiping in the presence of God. By understanding what Jesus taught about eschatology, believers know that God is sovereign and in control. History will not just blindly continue; God will bring His purpose to fulfillment.

As a result, as believers we should be watching for the return of our Lord and work with that anticipation in mind. We know that when He returns justice will be poured out and evil will be punished. The opposite is that faith and faithfulness will be rewarded. Our earthly bodies will be transformed into our heavenly bodies. There will be no more pain, sickness, death, or suffering. Knowing what Jesus taught about eschatology gives us the desire to live in accordance with God’s will.


 

[1] Kenneth Heinitz, “Eschatology in the Teachings of Jesus” Concordia Theological Monthly Vol. 41, No. 8 (1970), 451.

[2] Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1998), 1193.

[3] Ibid., 1193.

[4] Ibid., 1193.

[5] Stephen H. Travis, “The Value of Apocalyptic” Tyndalle Bulletin Vol. 30, (January 1, 1979), 68.

[6] Ibid., 1200.

[7] Ibid., 1201.

[8] Ibid., 1202.

[9] Ibid., 1207.

[10] Ibid., 1208.

[11] Micheal J. Vlach, “The Trinity and Eschatology” The Master’s Seminary Journal Vol. 24, No. 2 (Fall 2013), 208.

[12] Ibid., 208.

[13] Ibid., 207.

[14] Ibid., 207.

[15] Ibid., 207.

[16] Ibid., 207.

[17] Ibid., 207.

 

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About Peter van Brussel

Peter is the Director of For His Glory Prison Ministry. Peter holds a BA in Pastoral Studies from Southwestern College, a MA in Theological Studies, and a M.Div. from Liberty University. Peter is married to Niki, and has two children. He has been saved by grace and seeks to share the Gospel with those who have been forgotten.
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