The Fullness of Times
Ephesians Lesson #030
June 9, 2019
“Our Father, we’re so thankful for all we are learning in this study of Ephesians, how it focuses our attention on the Church and on us as members of this unique, distinct organism, the body of Christ. As the body of Christ, we are to represent Him, we are to glorify Him, and we are to come to understand these many blessings that You have given us so that we might exploit them and use them, that we might pursue spiritual maturity, that not only will we be trophies of grace in this life, but that we might be prepared for our future ministry as we will rule and reign with the Lord Jesus Christ in His coming kingdom. We pray that we might be motivated to do so, living today in light of eternity and not living for ourselves.
“We pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”
Open your Bibles with me to Ephesians 1. We’re going to have a little review today, but we’re going to get into the meaning of this next phrase in the verse related to the dispensation of the fullness of times, what that means, and why it is significant and important for us as believers in Jesus Christ.
By way of review:
1. Ephesians 1:7–8 teaches that the wealth of God’s grace has been lavished upon us. He has abounded this grace to us, and we, that is we as Church Age believers, we as those who are in Christ, we above all people, have experienced more grace than any other people in any other dispensation. We saw in Ephesians 1:16–17 that the wealth of God’s grace has abounded to us. If we look at the flow of Paul’s thought here, Ephesians 1:7–10, he started off emphasizing the wealth of God’s grace that He lavished or abounded to us. Part of this is that He has made known to us additional revelation, the mystery of His will, which takes us into the second point.
2. Part of this abundant revelation is the expanded revelation from God, which is called a mystery, that is, previously unrevealed information, Ephesians 1:9. Both the lavishing of grace and the giving of this additional information and revelation is for a purpose. Ephesians 1:10 says it is for the purpose that in the future, in the dispensation of the fullness of times, He might gather together all things. This is vital information for us today in light of where we are headed and where God is taking us. We have this new information, this additional revelation, this disclosure of God’s plan and purpose to us, in the New Testament.
3. The content of the mystery doctrine within this epistle is later defined in Ephesians 3:5–6, a new spiritual entity, distinct from Israel with a distinct purpose in God’s plan and in history, an entity where Jew and Gentile are gathered together equally in this one body in Christ, described in Ephesians 3:3–6.
4. Ephesians 3:1–6 speaks of the dispensation or the administration of grace. In our passage in Ephesians 1:10, we have the word OIKONOMIA, which is translated in some older translations as a dispensation, not a user-friendly word in today’s world or culture, but in both of these verses that word is used. Sometimes more modern translations translate it as administration. This is vital to understanding God’s plan and purposes in history. Since we are each individually in history, we need to understand this because it applies to our perception, our understanding of the Word of God.
Many people have commented over the years that the meaning of Scripture opened up to them through understanding two vital teachings in Scripture, two vital doctrines. The first is dispensationalism, understanding that God has different ways of administering the human race in different periods of time. His administration shifts depending on the amount of revelation that is given. That’s the progress of revelation. The second teaching, which is part of what we are covering on Tuesday nights in a new way, has to do with the angelic conflict, the angelic rebellion, the rebellion of Satan against God’s rule, his desire to be like Him. This plays a vital role in understanding that scope and dimension of the dispensations and of God’s plan and purposes in human history.
The next point in review in understanding the importance of dispensationalism is the teaching that is distinctive to a theological system. Ephesians 1:10 speaks of the dispensation of the fullness of times. We have to spend some time understanding several phrases here.
The first phrase has to do with understanding the meaning of a dispensation. What does that mean? What does the administration of or the dispensation of mean? Second, there’s the phrase fullness of times. What exactly does that describe? What does that mean? Third, what does it mean that He might gather together in one all things in Christ? In the last phrase, “which are in heaven and which are on the earth in Him,” some translations try to shift that “in Him” to the end to verse 11, but it is at the end of verse 10. This follows the pattern of Paul’s syntax and sentence structure throughout this opening section.
We looked at the word for dispensation, OIKONOMIA, that it has the idea of stewardship, which is a responsibility to manage something. It has the idea of administration, the managing or administering of the affairs of the household. History is looked at in terms of this household. A steward is in charge of administering the affairs of the house. In almost every dispensation, one group is given a major responsibility. For example, in the Age of Israel, in those three dispensations, the Dispensation of the Patriarchs, the Dispensation of the Law, and in the Dispensation of the Messiah, in each of those, one group was primarily responsible for the dissemination of the Word and the preservation of the Word and calling the people to a responsible accountability.
What does the Bible teach about dispensations?
Defining that word a little more, what is a dispensation?
A dispensation is a distinct and identifiable administration. That means it has specific, identifiable characteristics so we know when one era has shifted to another, which always comes with new revelation. In the Old Testament, mostly through a new covenant and because of that new covenant, new responsibilities were identified, and maybe a new steward was identified.
A new steward was not necessarily identified because sometimes, as with Israel when the Dispensation of the Patriarchs shifted to the Dispensation of the Law or the Torah, a new covenant was given. The Dispensation of the Messiah was not a new covenant but a new mandate to “repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” That’s not simply a message for personal salvation though it was calling unbelievers to faith in God’s promise of a Savior, a Deliverer. It also called those who were personally saved to live in light of that call to a kingdom and to be prepared for that kingdom.
Dispensationalism is a theological system, not a means of interpretation. A lot of people say. “That’s just the way you interpret the Bible.” No, the way we interpret the Bible is a literal, consistent, historical, exegetical interpretation. That is the way we interpret it. Because we’re consistent, we end up with a theological system called dispensationalism that is derived from a consistent literal hermeneutic.
“Dispensationalism is a theological system which understands that God sovereignly governs the history of the human race through a sequence of divinely directed administrations marked by distinctive periods of time as He works out His plan to destroy sin and evil.” That last part is important. Part of that derives from what we’re going to look at today, not only in this passage, but also in 1 Corinthians 15, that the goal is to end evil. Evil began with the fall of Satan. Evil began in the human race with the temptation by Satan of Adam and Eve in the perfect environment of the garden. Once sin entered into human history, that kicked in God’s plan of redemption, the forgiveness of sins, Ephesians 1:7. Throughout history, God has worked out His purposes, the ultimate goal of which is not only His glory but the vanquishing of evil and death, destroying it and restoring all things due to His grace.
I pointed out last time that there are three essential elements to dispensationalism. This is the order in which I have always presented them because I think this is the best, logical order.
1. A consistent literal, grammatical interpretation of Scripture
It is literal because we take the meaning of the language in its normal, plain use. That allows for figures of speech. It allows for metaphors. It allows for idioms. They have specific meanings. It culminates in an understanding that Jesus Christ will literally return to Earth and establish a thousand-year Kingdom. That Kingdom is the Millennium from the Latin word milli, meaning thousand.
Because we believe that a literal interpretation from Revelation 19 has Jesus returning to the Earth, and then in Revelation 20 establishing this thousand-year Kingdom, that is called a pre-Millennial return of Christ. He will come before the Millennium and then establish His Kingdom.
We have just observed the Lord’s Table. When Jesus met with His disciples and initiated the Lord’s Table, He said that night, “I will not drink of the vine until I come in My kingdom.” We’re not in that Kingdom yet. Jesus is not sitting up there having a glass of wine every day. He is waiting until He comes into His Kingdom.
Some teach today what is called an “already not yet” view of the Kingdom. It’s already here to some degree, but not yet fully here. That is an aberration of teaching. That is a complete misunderstanding of Scripture. The Kingdom wasn’t partially postponed. It was totally postponed because to have the Kingdom, you have to have subjects, you have to have a king, and you have to have a government. That will be established when He returns. The government will be based on the New Covenant, which does not come into effect until Jesus returns. Jesus does not sit on the throne of David until He returns to the Earth.
A group out of Dallas Seminary and Talbot Seminary put forth a view, which now dominates those schools, called progressive dispensationalism. They had to change the hermeneutic. They had to shift away from a literal, grammatical, historical hermeneutic to what they call a complementary hermeneutic. That’s always the problem. They slip into bad doctrine by changing the way they interpret Scripture. This progressive dispensationalism sees Jesus sitting on David’s throne at the right hand of the Father, which has no biblical basis whatsoever. Of course, they use and twist a lot of Scripture in order to make it seem like they have a biblical basis, but they don’t.
The first essential element of dispensationalism is a consistent literal, historical, grammatical interpretation of the Bible. The second, which flows from that, is
2. A distinction between God’s plan for Israel and God’s plan for the church. He has a future for both.
3. The overall purpose of God’s plan for His creation is His glory.
One day we’ll talk more about that, but that’s a lot more than is normally accepted by Covenant Theologians and others. Everybody believes we are to live for the glory of God. This shows something distinctive about the Church Age that is related to the glory of God that goes beyond the others. I talked about that a little last time. It’s a major theme in Ephesians, so we will be developing it as we go through Ephesians.
I ended with 1 Corinthians 10:31 last time. “Therefore, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do …” That pretty much includes everything, doesn’t it? Whatever you do, whatever you think, everything. “… do all to the glory of God.” That demonstrates the centrality, the importance, the significance of God in our lives, that we can’t live apart from God. He is the One without whom we can’t do anything. There can’t be meaning. There can’t be real life. There can’t be an understanding of the future apart from who God is. He must be central to everything to realize who we are in Christ.
John 1:14 tells us that when Jesus came at the First Advent, we beheld His glory. That wasn’t this brilliant, effulgence of light, which we often think of as the Shekinah glory, but it was manifested through His character. When we glorify God, we’re showing the character of God, that only Someone with that character can be at the center of our lives and give value and meaning to every aspect of our lives.
This is laid out again and again in Ephesians. We will get back to this when we get a little further into the next section. In Ephesians 1:17–18, we are going to focus on “the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.”
It will also be emphasized again in Ephesians 3:21, where Paul closed out this section, saying, “… to Him be glory in the church …”
For now, we need to understand the meaning of this phrase “the dispensation of the fullness of times.” What does this describe? What is the dispensation of the fullness of time? When we understand what it is, I think that will help us answer the second question. When is it? We will work our way through the language of the text.
Dispensation is the word we’ve studied already, the word for administration, OIKONOMIA. It is a feminine singular accusative. The singular is important. Here, it’s talking about one dispensation. At the end of this phrase, it says, “the fullness of times.” Times is a plural, so this is the dispensation within a framework of multiple ages or dispensations described as the fullness of the times. We will develop that a little more.
The word translated fullness is the Greek word PLEROMA, which means fullness or completeness. That’s the key word to remember when talking about completion. In many ways, it is a synonym for another word that we have talked about a lot over the years, TELEIOS, which means to bring something to completion. Often, it is poorly translated as to perfect, but in the Greek language at that time, it meant bringing something to its complete end so that everything becomes what it should be. It is better for us to think of it in terms of the completion of something, rather than perfection, because we think of perfection as being flawless, and that’s not the focus of the word. It means being brought into completion. That’s important for understanding when this will be because it’s at a time when history, “the times,” will be brought to its completion, its culmination, when the plan of God will be completed for redemption and the restoration of all things.
PLEROMA is used here as a descriptive genitive. Harold Hoehner had a great understanding and expansion on the definition. A descriptive genitive describes this era. “It has the idea of a state of being full in the sense of completeness or having reached its goal.” What’s the Greek word for goal? It’s TELOS. That’s important. We have a way in arguments for the existence of God. We have the idea of the teleological argument, that everything has a purpose and is moving toward a conclusion. That’s the idea here, that this is a dispensation where things are brought to an end. They are brought to the conclusion in God’s plan for human history.
There’s some debate over this, as we’ll see. Some people have brought up the same phrase in Galatians 4:4, where Paul wrote, “But when the fullness of THE time …”
The phrase we have is “fullness of times.” Notice that in our phrase in Ephesians 1:10, times is plural. In the phrase in Galatians 4:4, the “fullness of THE time” is singular. It is not the same as in Ephesians 1:10, which is a different word. It is CHRONOS, which has a completely different meaning from KAIROS, which is in Ephesians 1:10. They are not the same phrase, and they should not be understood as synonymous phrases. We can’t use one to expand on and understand the other.
In Galatians 4:4, “the fullness of time” speaks of a particular point of time in history. It is a singular, and it focuses on that particular time when everything was right for the Son of God to come into the world. In Ephesians, the plural points to the completion of a series of stages, these times. This progress of dispensations comes to a resolution. It comes to this fullness or realization of the purpose of history.
The only other time this kind of phraseology is used is in Luke 21:24 when Jesus was talking about the restoration of Israel and the end of Gentile domination, Gentile rule, over Jerusalem. He used the phrase “until the times …” Notice the same word there in the Greek. It’s plural. “… the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” It indicates reaching a point in history when that which has been normative up to that point ends and something new comes in. It focuses on a radical shift from one thing to another. That is indicated by a couple of other things we will note as we as we look at the language.
It’s not the fullness of time, CHRONOS. It is the fullness of times, KAIROS, indicating a completion of the ages in God’s dispensation. This focuses on that future time when the Messiah will come to rule the Earth. It’s the times, that is, the dispensations or the epochs or the ages that have reached their completion and the time when the Messiah will come to rule on the Earth.
In relation to this, Harold Hoehner has gone over to what I call the dark side in dispensationalism. He’s a progressivist, but he says some good things here in his commentary in Ephesians. “Human history, which throughout the ages has been characterized by incompleteness, is yet to see completeness in the stewardship of Christ. The Gentile nations will be enriched under the authority of the Prince of Peace; Israel’s great covenants will be fulfilled; and the church will have been joined to the Lord and have experienced the fruition of all her promised heavenly blessings. The stewardship of the Son will gather under one authority all things that are in heaven and on earth. The revelation of this mystery transcends human understanding, but the hope and its certainty are assured.”
He focused on the positive, that Christ is going to come. He is going to establish His rule. At the beginning of His rule, the beginning of the Millennial Kingdom, Church Age believers in resurrection bodies will rule and reign with Him. Some believers will be saved in the Tribulation period who will be in transition into the Millennial Kingdom, still in their mortal bodies, still with the sin nature.
Everyone in the Millennial Kingdom at the beginning will be a believer, but as we know, believers sin and rebel against the authority of God. These believers will also marry, and they will have children. Their children are going to have their own sin natures, and they are going to need to be saved and to trust in Christ as Savior.
From the beginning, there will be a perfect administration. There will be perfect government. A lot of people say, “The reason we have the problems we have today is we don’t have perfect government.” We will have perfect government. We will have perfect environment. We will have perfect education systems. We won’t have perfect parents, and there are other things that won’t be perfect.
The curse will be partially rolled back because the wolf and the lamb will lie down together, which hasn’t been seen since the Garden of Eden. Some aspects of the curse will be rolled back. This Millennial Kingdom will be a time when, as it progresses and comes to the end, Jesus will extend His rule and reign and finally and firmly establish His authority, culminating in the destruction of the demonic authorities and rebellious human authorities. Even though it’s not an absolutely perfect reign, that’s not the issue. The issue is bringing it to TELOS, to this end, to this culmination, where all things will be brought under the authority of Christ.
Hoehner’s comment focuses on the positive. There is a negative. Christ has to rule with a rod of iron. No one has taught, unless they just didn’t understand the Scripture, that this will be a time of total, perfect environment. It will not. It will be a time where it’s much more perfect than it’s been in this dispensation or since the Fall. I think it’s parallel in some ways to the environment between the Garden and the Flood. I think it’s going to be more perfect than that, but it will not be absolute perfection. This will be a time when there’s going to be this resolution.
We’re told that the purpose of this, not necessarily the whole dispensation, but that dispensation brings it to a point that “… He might gather together in one all things …” This interesting word in the Greek is a compound word made up of the preposition ANA, which has the idea of together, and KEPHALAIOO, which has the idea of headship. Literally, it has the idea of uniting under one head all things in Christ. Headship in Scripture has to do with authority, so it will be bringing everything that has been in rebellion against God under the authority of Christ at the end. We will see from a brief look at 1 Corinthians 15 that this brings things together in a final form where the Kingdom will be brought and established, all evil will be expunged, and the Kingdom will be given to God.
When does this happen? I am going to look primarily at one view for clarification. When does this dispensation of the fullness of times take place?
- Amillennialism literally means no Millennium. It’s one of those weird words that got coined because mille is from the Latin. The negative prefix A, the alpha, is Greek, so a Greek prefix was tacked onto a Latin word. It’s “no millennium,” no literal thousand-year reign of Christ. In amillennialism, the Kingdom is spiritual, and we’re living in that spiritual form of the Kingdom now. As in progressive dispensationalism, Jesus is on the throne of David, He is ruling from Heaven, and this age will come to completion with the Second Coming of Christ. They would reject this. Fullness of times would be now in their view.
- The major dispensational view is premillennialism. All dispensationalists are pre-millennial because they have a literal interpretation of Scripture. All dispensationalists are pre-millennial, but not all premillennialists are dispensational. Some are historic premillennialists and a couple of other odd views, but all dispensationalists are pre-mills.
- A minor dispensational view. There was a paper given on this at the Chafer Conference a few years ago, and I’ve never commented on it, so I want to address it a little bit here because I’ve had questions about it ever since. This was a minor dispensational view that was taken by Clarence Larkin who wrote a book with lots and lots of charts in it.
I bet lots of you have his book called Dispensational Truth. It has lots of really great charts because he had an architectural background, so he drew these wonderful, wonderful charts. A lot of the book is very valuable and very, very helpful, but a few things in there are typical of some things of his age. He was relying on another work by Trench that was late nineteenth century. They took an odd view of when this fullness of times was, and it never gained a lot of acceptance. A few took this view. Several of those guys changed their views later on, and Larkin was the last one to publish an argument for this view. I think the reason for that is it has some exegetical problems that they’ve never been able to surmount, and so it has fallen into the dustbin of theological history.
When we look at this chart that I have here, we have the Rapture when the church is taken to Heaven. There’s a Judgment Seat of Christ, the Marriage of the Lamb, and then at the end of the seven years of Tribulation, the church will return as the bride of Christ to the Earth to rule and reign in the Millennium, the thousand years. This is what I believe is the fullness of time.
In this other view, the fullness of time comes after the Great White Throne Judgment. The Millennial Kingdom is a thousand years. That ends with the rebellion of Satan after he is released from the abyss and leads a mass of humanity without number in rebellion against the Lord. They are incinerated with fire and brimstone from Heaven, and that is the end of evil. They are then judged at the Great White Throne Judgment and assigned to the Lake of Fire.
This is when 1 Corinthians 15 says that Christ will give the Kingdom to the Father. In this Larkin-Trench view, the Millennium can’t be the fullness of time because it’s not perfect and a couple of other things, so they put the fullness of time as a distinct dispensation at the beginning of humanity.
I want to address a couple of points, and then we will be moving on. They start with the argument that there must be a future period of literally a thousand generations. They get this from a couple of passages. One is Exodus 34:7, which states that God keeps mercy for thousands. God was actually speaking here. He said, “… keeping mercy for thousands …” Some translations say a thousand generations, but that’s not in the New King James, and it is not in the Greek. Literally, it starts with a lamedh preposition in the Hebrew which means to the thousands. It doesn’t say what the thousands are, but we assume generations because of some parallel passages, so there’s a contrast of a thousand generations. “… forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and fourth generation …” which literally in the Hebrew says, ‘… upon the thirds and the fourths.’ ”
The argument that they present is that since the third and fourth generation is taken literally, the thousand generations should be taken literally, and that’s fair.
Some of you have heard talk or teaching about the four-generation curse. I’ve always been a little troubled with that because I’ve tried to find four generations where it works out like that. In the Book of Judges, I can’t find it. In the Northern Kingdom of Israel, I don’t see just four generations. It goes on and on and on. In other words, I challenge the assumption that the third and fourth generation should be taken literally. If that’s not taken literally, there’s no basis at all for taking a thousand generations literally. Nowhere can you find in the Scripture—or I haven’t been able to find—a restriction of God’s judgment on only three or four generations. It goes on and on and on, as it did in the Northern Kingdom and also in the Southern Kingdom.
If the comparison here isn’t a literal three or four and literal thousand, this is a metaphorical or idiomatic expression to emphasize the expansiveness of God’s grace and forgiveness, three or four in contrast to thousands. It’s a statement that isn’t to be taken as literal numbers but that God’s judgment is minimal compared to the expansiveness of His grace.
Claim: “The third and fourth generations” must be taken literally, and it has been by a number of dispensationalists, but I disagree with that. Several of us who have discussed this in depth all agree that we can’t find a literal three-or-four-generation pattern anywhere in the Scripture and that the thousand generation should not be taken literally either. If the claim that the third and fourth generation is taken literally, then:
Problem: There’s no place in the Old Testament where you can find a literal fulfillment of a third and fourth generation.
Solution: This is a figure of speech to contrast the limitation, the small part of God’s judgment, in contrast to the expansiveness of God’s forgiveness.
The second passage that they go to is in Psalm 105, also a passage in Chronicles. Psalm 105:6–7 focuses on Abraham and the Abrahamic Covenant. I’m including these two verses for context, “O seed of Abraham …” He was addressing Israel, those who were descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. “O seed of Abraham His servant, you children of Jacob, His choice ones! He is the Lord our God. His judgments are in all the earth.” It’s emphasizing that God rules all the earth. God is sovereign.
Psalm 105:8 says, “He remembers His covenant forever …” He was talking about the Abrahamic Covenant. This is synonymous parallelism in the Hebrew. “He remembers His covenant forever. The word …” That phrase “the word” is a synonym for the covenant, “the word which He commanded for a thousand generations.” “For a thousand generations” in the second line is parallel as a synonym to forever. There, we see that “for a thousand generations” is not to be taken literally. It is a synonym for forever. That’s going to be seen again because it’s described again in Psalm 105:10 as an “everlasting covenant.” Eternal and forever are comparable to this thousand generations. It’s not to be taken literally. It’s an idiomatic phrase.
You have the same thing in 1 Chronicles 16:13–14. There is a little difference between the two. Psalm 105:8 talks about God. “He remembers.” “He does this.” 1 Chronicles 16:13–14 talks about what Israel should do. Other than that, it’s parallel.
1 Chronicles 16:15–17 reads, “Remember His covenant forever,”—and that’s parallel to—“the word which He commanded for a thousand generations.” Literally, it says to a thousand generations. The same thing in Psalm 105. The language is the same in both stanzas. It’s “to forever,” “to a thousand generations.”
Again, that supports the view that these are synonyms of one another. Forever is related to a thousand generations. That’s not a literal number, not to be interpreted literally because the context is using it figuratively. This confirms that it’s a figure of speech for eternity. Therefore, we don’t need an additional dispensation that lasts a thousand generations in order to fulfill that particular statement, which is part of the argument in that Larkin-Trench view.
The issue of the order of events. 1 Corinthians 15:20–22. This is just a prelude. I’m just giving you this for context. Remember in 1 Corinthians 15, Paul was defending the doctrine of the resurrection from the dead. “But now Christ is risen from the dead and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection from the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.”
Then, we get to the heart of this issue. In 1 Corinthians 15:23–25, we have a chronological sequence of events. This is indicated by the time words that I’ve highlighted in blue. Afterward, then, when, and until indicate a sequential arrangement.
1 Corinthians 15:23, “But each one in his own order:” This is all the members of the first resurrection. “Christ the firstfruits, afterward”—not at the same time, but afterward—“those who are Christ’s at His coming.” That’s the Rapture and the Second Coming all wrapped up in one phrase.
1 Corinthians 15:24, “Then” is an important word that we will see in the Greek. It’s an adverb of time that means next or after that. It is used in sequences. “This, then after that.” “This, then after that.” Numerous places substantiate that in the Scripture. “Then comes the end …” Can you imagine what that Greek word for end might be? TELOS, the completion. “Then comes the completion …”
The completion comes after those who are Christ’s at His coming. “Then comes the end,”—the TELOS—“when”—that’s going to define when this end is—“when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father.” The end comes when Jesus delivers the Kingdom to the Father. That is after He vanquishes Satan and the demons and the unbelievers in the battle of Gog and Magog. How do I know that? Because the next phrase says “when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power.”
When He talks about the chain of command among the angels, frequently Scripture applies this both to the elect angels and fallen angels. But He is not going to vanquish the elect angels. When He puts an end to all rule and authority and power, this is the angelic hierarchy of the fallen angels. He will end their chain of command. He will end their organization. That comes to an end, and that happens at Gog and Magog at the end of the Millennial Kingdom. That’s the end, the completion of the process, which is to destroy sin and evil and to complete the redemption of the universe and of mankind. “Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority of power.”
1 Corinthians 15:25 introduces an explanation. “For He must reign”—that’s the millennial reign—“till He puts all enemies under His feet.” He will put all enemies under His feet at the battle of Gog and Magog. He rules until then. The Greek word that we find there is ACHRI, which indicates the end of one process and the beginning of a totally new stage. It always means that. That indicates that the end will come when He delivers the Kingdom of the Father, which is at the same time that He ends the demonic and satanic rule and their chains of command, and that’s because they’re confined to the Lake of Fire. This is further explained in 1 Corinthians 15:25, “For He must reign until He has put all enemies under His feet.” That’s when His reign will end because He has delivered all things to the Father.
1 Corinthians 15:26, “The last enemy that is destroyed is death.” Remember, Hades and death at the Great White Throne Judgment will give up their inhabitants to a judgment. 1 Corinthians 15:27, “For He has put all things under His feet, but when He says, ‘All things are put under Him,’ it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted.” Did y’all figure out all those little third persons there? “For He”—God the Father—“has put all things under His”—God the Son’s—“feet, but when He”—God the Father—“says ‘all things are put under Him’ ”—God the Son—“it is evident that He”—God the Father—“who puts all things under Him”—God the Son—“is excepted.” God the Father still remains the authority over God the Son.
1 Corinthians 15:28, “Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who puts all things under Him, that God may be all in all.”
We see this order:
1. Christ is the first who is resurrected.
2. The completion of the first resurrection occurs in three stages.
- First, Christ
- Second, the Rapture
- Third, the Second Coming
3. Then comes the end, the TELOS, the completion in 1 Corinthians 15:24.
Slides 40, 41, and 42
We’ve already covered exegesis there.
4. Then, He defeats death.
5. Then, He delivers the Kingdom to the Father.
When He delivers the Kingdom to the Father, this period of history is brought to a conclusion.
The Millennium is not a failure, which is how they view it because it’s not perfect. It achieves its purpose because at the end of the Millennial Kingdom all evil is vanquished and then punished and restricted to the Lake of Fire. That is how that should be understood.
The significance for us is that God has a purpose for us right now in our spiritual lives to prepare us for ruling and reigning in the kingdom when that comes. We are to pursue spiritual maturity now, so that we can be spiritually prepared to take up our role in the Millennial Kingdom when we rule and reign with Christ.
“Father, we thank You for this opportunity to study through these things to come to understand Your magnificent plan in bringing an end to sin and evil and that You will do this in a righteous and just way, demonstrating both Your justice and righteousness as well as Your grace as You extend that to the human race in many different ways in many different forms through the dispensations.
“Father, we pray that if anyone is listening today or here today who is not a believer in Jesus Christ that he would understand that this is the most important decision that he will ever make in life, for it determines his eternal destiny. Scripture says the only issue at salvation is believing in Christ. The issue isn’t your sins, for that has been paid for by Christ, that has been dealt with. The issue now is whether you will trust in that payment or not. In the instant that you believe in Jesus Christ, you will have eternal life, which can never be taken from you.
“Now, Father, we thank You for this time that we’ve had to study today and to reflect on You and to worship You, and we pray that You would make these things very clear to us. In Christ’s name, amen.”