[This post is part of the Eschatology series]
Venn Diagram Eschatology
By the New Creation starting while the old is still present, a significant overlap occurs. This presents a kind of already, though not yet kind of scenario, and is the same issue with the Kingdom of God, which is already inaugurated and a present reality, but is not yet in its fullness. The repeated pattern of a linear eschatology across the testaments is a two-age model: (1) this age, and (2) the age to come. The event that inaugurated the age to come though happened in the middle of this age. So we now live in a significant overlap, which is best pictured by a venn diagram. The red circle represents this age and Old Creation, while the yellow circle represents the New Creation and the age to come. The orange edge resting on the red circle represents Christ’s person and work in His First Advent, while the edge that ends on the yellow circle represents Christ’s person and work in His Second Advent. This means that we are currently living in the orange area of the diagram.
This diagram is about the most concise way I know of to sum up my eschatological position. The A and B business came with the picture which I found here. It does prove helpful though, and a brief chart might help:
- AB = everything of the Old Creation prior to Christ’s First Advent (sin/death/suffering, etc)
- BA = the New Creation in the eternal state (no sin/death/suffering, etc)
- A∩B = the overlap where elements of both are present (the New invades the Old)
- AUB in this case is not really relevant for that would be elements that are neither of this age, or the age to come, which on this account = nothing
This Age/The Age to Come
Drawing from the biblical categories of this age of sin and curse, and a yet future golden age of unprecedented blessing and righteousness, I would place all unfulfilled prophecy into the events surrounding the Second Coming and then the immediately following eternal state. So Isaiah 65:17-28 is fulfilled partially now as the new creation has come, but awaits complete fulfillment in the eternal state, not in an in any kind of intermediate, or what might be called a “silver” age (See also 1 Corinthians 15:23-28). In that case then, the next event in the eschatological time line, and one that is imminent is the Second Coming of Christ which involves the resurrection of believers who have already died and then the translation of those still alive to meet the Lord in the air and receive new glorified bodies. This is clearly predicted in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and Titus 2:11-14. The language used by Paul indicates that this is a very public coming that will be witnessed by all people. Paul uses several Greek words interchangeably that sometimes refer to Christ’s 2nd Coming, and sometimes the rapture of believers, neither of these events is secret.
This is immediately followed by the judgment of the wicked and the subjection of the last enemy, death, this event formally being called the Great White Throne Judgment. This is what is spoken of in Revelation 20:11-15; Matthew 13:36-50; 1 Corinthians 15:23-28; 50-54; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9; and 2 Peter 3:1-13. Matthew 24:15-25:46 also speaks of events surrounding the Second Coming although its original referent was the coming fall of Jerusalem in AD 70. In that sense, it was already fulfilled, but can be typologically re-done, which is to say it events in the future can echo or possibly escalate this original time of tribulation.
Because of this, there is then no gap available to insert any kind of millennial kingdom between Christ’s second coming and the judgments, nor is there a reason to insert a 7 year gap between the resurrection of believers and Christ’s Second Coming (see John 5:25-29, 1 Corinthians 15:22-28.) Christ’s Second Coming puts an end to this age, lifts the curse on the old creation, brings the ultimate realization of all God’s covenant promises and brings the whole world to knowledge of God (see Deuteronomy 30:1-10; Isaiah 11:1-9; Romans 8:19-23; Matthew 13:36-50; 1 Corinthians 15:23-28; 50-54).
This is seen in the diagram above as once the edge of the red circle ends (the 2nd coming) there no longer exists any elements that would fit within the sphere of the red. If the red circle includes sin/death/pain/suffering, then once Christ returns, none of those things will exist any longer. This phenomena (the red circle dripping off into the yellow) is what dispensationalism requires, as there is still death in the millennium and sin, and it occurs after Christ’s return.
In summary of the two ages, this age is marked by home, fields, families, marrying and being given in marriage, people being blinded to the truth by the god of this age, evil in our hearts and in the world, Christ’s present heavenly reign, the command to not be conformed to this age and live godly live, and the promise that Christ will by the Spirit be with us until the end of the age (see Matthew 28:20; Luke 10:30; 20:34; Romans 12:2; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Galatians 1:4; Ephesians 1:20-21, Titus 2:12). At Christ’s Second coming, this age is brought to a close and a new age, that has been present as a promise of the future fulfillment, completely overtakes it. In the meantime, we are living in the overlap, having been given a down payment of our inheritance, but still awaiting its ultimate realization. This period of overlap is what is described in Revelation 20, while Revelation 21-22 describes the new age. Ultimately, all but chapters 21 and 22 of Revelation refer to events that will happen, or have already happened in this age.
To the defend this position further though, will require one more post. Hopefully it will be one that can tie up any lose ends or unanswered questions.