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The Goal of God (4)

by Charles H. Welch

The revelation of God's purpose opens with a "beginning" and in the New Testament reaches an "end". The end "is not yet" but sometimes, to perceive the end of a thing enables one to go back and understand a little better the beginning. If the "end" be the cessation of time, then the beginning will be the commencement of time, but to utter such a statement produces a feeling of frustration. What can be meant by a cessation of time? It may be perfectly true that our present mode of measuring time by the day, hour and minute, will cease; it may be perfectly true that the timepiece of our present system will become obsolete, but if life is to continue, if the redeemed of the Lord are not to cease to be, time, essential time, must abide, for unless we can use the words "now", "then" and "when", existence must cease.

It is a well known fact that the book of the Revelation is in structural correspondence with the book of Genesis, but while the book of Revelation is canonically the book of the end, one passage in the epistle to the Corinthians takes us much further. Let us give this passage the attention which the solemnity of the subject demands, and with the light we receive, we shall be better able to go back to "the beginning" of Genesis 1:1 with hope of a clearer understanding of its import. The fifteenth chapter of the first epistle to the Corinthians is devoted to the fact and the outcome of the resurrection. It is not our intention to attempt an exposition of 1 Cor. 15, but in order to perceive the place which the section in mind occupies, we present the following analysis. The chapter, as a whole is divided into three parts.

  1. 1-11 EVIDENCE and EVANGELISTIC importance of resurrection.
  2. 12-34 FACT of the resurrection established.
  3. 35-58 MANNER of the resurrection discussed.

This brings us to 1 Cor. 15:24-28, the passage in point, and here we must call a halt, while we consider the terms used and their meaning and bearing upon both the goal of the ages and the opening words of Genesis.

"Then cometh the end" (1 Cor. 15:24).

"Then" refers to the preceding sentence "at His coming", and in the structure we have noted that verses 20-23 extend from Adam to the parousia that aspect of the Second Coming of Christ that pertains to all callings and spheres other than the hope of the dispensation of the Mystery.

Parousia. This word is derived from para "beside" and eimi "to be" and so "to be present" in opposition to apousia

"absence" (Phil. 2:12). Paul speaks of the coming of Christ in 1 Cor. 15:23, and the coming of Stephanas in 1 Cor. 16:17, in both cases using the word parousia. In 2Cor. 7:6,7 he uses the same word of the coming of Titus, and in 10:10 of his own bodily "presence". So in Phil. 1:26 and 2:12 he uses it of himself. The word is used altogether 24 times in the N. T., 6 occurrences speak of the presence of Stephanas, Titus or Paul, one passage speaks of the coming and personal presence of the man of sin (2 Thess. 2:9), one passage speaks of the coming of the day of God (2 Pet. 3:12), the remainder speak of the coming of Christ.

  1. As the Son of Man (Matt. 24:3,27, 37,39).
  2. As the Lord (1 Thess. 3:13; 4:15; 5:23 2Thess. 2:1,8; James 5:7,8; 2 Peter 1:16.
  3. As Christ (1Cor. 15:23; 1Thess. 2:19).
  4. As "His", without specific title (2Pet. 3:4; 1John 2:28).

It will be seen that the parousia is used in the great prophecy of Matthew 24, and by Paul in his epistles written while the hope of Israel was still possible of realization and by Peter, James, and John, but that while he freely uses the word in the prison epistle to the Philippians, he never uses it of the coming of Christ as the hope of the church of the Mystery, another word epiphaneia taking its place.

When we read "Then cometh the end" we must remember as Weymouth notes in his margin "Later on. The 'then' of the A.V. is only a correct translation in the sense of 'next in order'. The Greek word denotes sequence not simultaneousness, as in Mark 4:28 "after that the full corn in the ear."

The END. Telos does not, as is commonly supposed, primarily denote the end, termination with reference to time, but THE GOAL REACHED, THE COMPLETION or CONCLUSION, at which anything arrives, with as ISSUE or ENDING. To illustrate or clarify this distinction:

  1. The "end" of the pen with which I write these words is an iridium point on the nib, which being dipped in ink makes marks on a sheet of paper. That is the physical end.
  2. The "end" telos of this pen however is to write. That is the purposeful end. The end or teminus of a journey may be Euston Station, but the end or purpose of the journey may be to visit a relative. When, therefore, 1 Cor. 15:24 says "Then cometh the end", it means that the goal of God has been attained.

(This article was taken from Vol. 44 of The Berean Expositor.)

Edited on April 28, 1996 / Updated on April 28, 1996
The Alachau Freenet does not endorse or disendorse the content of this document. Everything is the author's private opinion.
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Contact: Leo Wierzbowski / leo@afn.org

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