Sunday, July 9, 2017

Paul, Eschatology, And The Kingdom Of God (Part 1)

AP: In order to understand the kingdom of God in the writings of Paul, they must be viewed both in light of Jewish apocalyptic literature in general, which varies greatly, but also (and especially) in contrast to the kingdom of God in relationship to the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. While this concept occupies a central position in the message of Jesus, the same cannot be said of Paul. In his writings, the phrase "kingdom of God" (or "reign of God") appears only eight times: Rom. 14:17; 1 Cor. 4:20; 6:9–10; 15:24, 50; Gal. 5:21; 1 Thess. 2:12. Let me just go ahead and give you those verses here so you don't have to look them up. My friend David Alan Black was the base translator for the International Standard Version (ISV) New Testament, so I thought I would give you all of these verses using that translation. If you haven't used that translation before in English, you really need to consult it. Instead of presenting the verses in the order that they occur in your New Testament, I've decided to mix it up and present them to you in the order in which Paul probably wrote them, beginning first with 1 Thessalonians and ending with Romans. I've also added some context so that it helps you get a better feel at first read for what Paul is discussing. Here we go:
1 Thess. 2:10–12: "You and God are witnesses of how pure, honest, and blameless our conduct was among you who believe. You know very well that we treated each of you the way a father treats his children. We comforted and encouraged you, urging you to live in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into his kingdom and glory."
1 Thess. 4:15–17: "For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who have died. With a shout of command, with the archangel's call, and with the sound of God's trumpet, the Lord himself will come down from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever."
Gal. 5:19–21: "Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, rivalry, jealously, outbursts of anger, quarrels, conflicts, factions, envy, murder, drunkenness, wild partying, and things like that. I am telling you now, as I have told you in the past, that people who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God."
1 Cor. 4:18–20: "Some of you have become arrogant, as though I were not coming to you. But I will come to you soon if it's the Lord's will. Then I'll discover not only what these arrogant people are saying but also what power they have, for the kingdom of God isn't just talk but power."
1 Cor. 6:9–10: "You know that wicked people will not inherit the kingdom of God, don't you? Stop deceiving yourselves! Sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals, thieves, greedy people, drunks, slanderers, and robbers will not inherit the kingdom of God."
1 Cor. 15:22–28: "For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ will all be made alive. However, this will happen to each person in the proper order: first Christ, then those who belong to Christ when he comes. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has done away with every ruler and every authority and power. For he must rule until God puts all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be done away with is death, for 'God has put everything under his feet.' Now when he says, 'Everything has been put under him,' this clearly excludes the one who put everything under him. But when everything has been put under him, then the Son himself will also become subject to the one who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all."
1 Cor. 15:50–55: "Brothers, this is what I mean: Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, and what decays cannot inherit what does not decay. Let me tell you a secret. Not all of us will die, but all of us will be changed––in a moment, in the blinking of an eye, at the sound of the last trumpet. Indeed, that trumpet will sound, and then the dead will be raised never to decay, and we will be changed. For what is decaying must put on what cannot decay, and what is dying must put on what cannot die. Now, when what is decaying puts on what cannot decay, and what is dying puts on what cannot die, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled: 'Death has been swallowed up in victory!', 'Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?'"
Rom. 14:16–17: "Do not allow your good to be spoken of as evil. For God's kingdom does not consist of food and drink, but of righteousness, peace, and joy produced by the Holy Spirit."
Go through on your own and make some observations based solely on what you read in these verses. Feel free to look them up and read some more of the context. This is where we are going though. I want to work through these verses and synthesize what Paul taught about the end and especially the kingdom of God.

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