THE FULL ENJOYMENT of God's gifts is possible only in an
imperishable life, for the earthly, disintegrating existence puts
an end to every joy. Consciously or unconsciously, every human
heart harbors a deep longing for an indissoluble life. Long before
death started to reign over mankind, God's heart was filled with
the desire to give all humanity such a life, through Christ, and
so satisfy the insistent yearning for it to the full.
This loving purpose, however, God concealed in Himself for a
very long time. It was not until the era therefor came (1
Tim.2:5-7) that the apostle Paul received the commission to reveal
this secret. Clear and unmistakable are the promises of God to
grant to all mankind unlimited life. "As it was through one
offense for all humanity for condemnation, thus also it is through
one just award for all humanity for life's justifying"
(Rom.5:18). "For even as, in Adam, all are dying, thus also, in
Christ, shall all be vivified" (1 Cor.5:22). "I am charging you
in the sight of God, Who is vivifying all..." (1 Tim.6:13).
These promises will be fulfilled at the consummation of the
eons. Moreover, on the way to this goal, God will grant
resurrection life to the select. This is the gift of eonian life,
so called because it is enjoyed during the course of the eons. The
favored ones who receive it are those chosen beforehand, out of
the nations as well as the Jews, for not only those belonging to
the body of Christ receive life eonian, but Israelites also, who
are in the terrestrial kingdom.
The receptivity in the ecclesia for biblical expositions on
the gift of eonian life is quite remarkable. All are agreed as to
the fundamental truth that, in Christ, we will receive a limitless
life. Even those sects that hermetically seal themselves off from
the great circle of believers uphold this article of the faith and
bear witness to it. To all who are concerned about the outward
unity of the ecclesia, this great company, united by this
confession, is an encouraging sight.
But as soon as this life is described in its special quality
as "eonian," and the question is asked, "When do we receive it,"
this seemingly united throng will be divided into large and small
groups by many different and contradictory views. We would almost
be tempted to ask in our dismay, whether God's Word sheds
sufficient light on this subject, that there could be such
confusion concerning it. Yet, as usual in other dissensions, so in
this case also, the origin is to be found in falsely interpreted
passages of Scripture. In His Word God gives us clear instruction
concerning our future life. Yet it is so presented that only by
strict attention to sound methods of study and a deep love for the
truth, can it be grasped, together with a readiness to humbly
abandon our own teaching when it is proven to be false.
Now to appreciate our special gift of eonian life in all its
grandeur and glory in its correct location, we must first consider
the promises of life given to Israel, and the questions concerning
it must be answered only from the Scriptures. That will give us
the proper foundation on which to base the knowledge of our own
eonian life. Here also we will meet with gradually greater
promises, and ours will be found at the very summit.
THE PRIMORDIAL PROMISES
When death forced its way into the human race through Adam's
disobedience, its continually increasing dominion shortened the
life expectation hundreds of years, so that Moses could say, "The days of
our years have in
them seventy years, and if, by mastery, they are eighty years..."
(Psa.90:10). Yet God did not immediately disclose anything about
a future imperishable life, although this was probably implied in
the promise concerning the serpent in Gen.3:15, but was given
step by step. At first only His people Israel were trained to
protect their earthly life from early dissolution, and given the
opportunity to exceed its average length. This was done by keeping
some of His laws. "And you observe all My statutes and all My
judgments, and are doing them, which, a human doing them, also
lives by them" (Lev.18:5; Gal.3:12). That God did not intend
this to be endless life is evident from the following passages,
for it is made contingent on obedience (Deut.5:33; 30:20; 32:47).
In this realm the law had some effect, for those who faithfully
observed this part of it really lengthened their lives. But when
they sought to make it a means of attaining justification of life,
they failed, for it was not given to vivify (Gal.3:21), that is,
to give immortality by vivifying the human spirit.
THE FIRST REFERENCES TO EONIAN LIFE
Besides this promise of a long mortal life to law keepers,
there were much higher ones for the faithful in Israel. As far
back as Abraham we find this great future expectation of life.
When he was about to offer his son Isaac, he reckoned that God was
able also to rouse from among the dead (Heb.11:19). Yet that
would only have been a return to the previous mortal life. Beside
this, however, he had the faith of those who looked forward to a
better resurrection (Heb.11:36), as an entrance into a higher
life. This faith was founded on the promises given to him by God
that, in the future, the land in which he was an alien would
become his allotment (Heb.11:8). In order to realize this he must be
another life after he had died. He received a grand revelation of
this expectation of future life of which we do not hear until
Christ revealed it to prove to the Jews that He was God's Son, and
said, "Abraham, your forefather, exults that he may become
acquainted with My day, and he was acquainted with it and
rejoiced" (John 8:56). Abraham had a preview of the Lord's day,
the millennial kingdom. The exultation he had was based on the
certainty that he, by resurrection, must receive a new life, in
order to enter this day, and have a part in its blessedness. This
future expectation later became the common possession of all
faithful Israelites, and its fulfillment their idea of highest
PROMISES OF EONIAN LIFE
Because those members of the people of Israel, who looked
forward in faith to the fulfillment of these promises, have died
without experiencing this life, they must be roused and receive a
new life, for only thus can they enter the day of the Lord. The
revelations indicating this became clearer and clearer with time.
Especially in the prophet Daniel they reached their highest point.
To him it was said, "And many sleeping in the soil of the
ground shall awake, these to eonian life and these to eonian
reproach and repulsion" (Dan.12:2). Figuratively this speaks of
the resurrection as awakening from sleep, and here once more we
hear of the eonian life that was lost in Eden, as a future
possession (Gen.3:22). This arises from the fact that the day of
the Lord, and the following day of God, are the conclusion of the
eons. Let us not imagine that Daniel found this word foreign and
unwelcome, as many believers today are inclined to do, for he had
not yet had any revelation of the consummation, where all enter
into "everlasting" life. But he had a good foundation for "eonian"
life and a clear preparation. How often had he read in the sacred
scrolls of Moses that Jehovah had given the land of Canaan to Abraham and
his seed for the eon (Gen.13:15; 17:8; 8:4)? Also, that the sons
of Aaron had an eonian priesthood (Ex.40:15), and that the fire
offerings are for the eon. How often had he read of the eonian
covenant and the eonian statutes! They were all prophetic
intimations of the future kingdom of Israel, which will last
during the eons of the eons.
How mistaken and misleading is the translation "forever" in
all of these passages, and in many others, if it has the sense of
endless! Not a few readers of the Bible have been stumbled by the
rendering "forever" when applied to things that certainly have an
end. Here we see that the Scriptures need to be purged of the
translation "forever" even in its earliest assertions.
On the other hand, how easily must Daniel have understood
this revelation (12:2), that, to all the conditions in the
kingdom, so far known, is now added the resurrection to life
eonian, that is, a life lasting throughout the day of Jehovah and
of God. We must remember that, at that time, God's revelation had
not yet occupied the far distant boundaries which we know today,
so the resurrection of the just and the unjust are combined as if
they took place at the same time. Not until the apostle John wrote
was it made known that the life of the one class commences at the
beginning, and of the other at the end of Messiah's reign
Daniel received a special personal promise of his part in the
former resurrection: "And you, go to the end and rest. And you
shall stand up for your lot at the end of the days" (Dan.12:13).
Here the death of the reposing candidate for the kingdom is
likened to rest in sleep. A new additional revelation determines
the terminus of this resurrection. With these twice named "ends,"
however, the consummation, that is the end of the eons, is
intended. The Scriptures often use the word "last," to designate the end
of a series, not an absolute end. In a literary
work of several volumes each has "last pages," but these do not
all end the whole work.
In this way we must understand these two ends. Both indicate
the terminus of the present eon, which is immediately followed by
the next, the day of Jehovah. Later revelation enables us to
develop these expressions, till the end of this present, wicked
eon, or till the end of man's day. With eonian life Daniel, like
every true Israelite, receives his allotment on the renewed earth,
in the promised land, to enjoy during the day of the Lord.
LIFE AFTER THE EONS END
As Isaiah says (51:6):
The earth, as a garment, is decaying
And its dwellers, likewise, so are dying.
At the end of the day of Jehovah the elements shall be
dissolved (2 Peter 3:7,10). Will this end the eonian life of
Israelitish believers? And if they continue on the new earth till
the eons end at the consummation, what then of their eonian life?
Here we meet an objection which is often brought against "eonian"
life. If the eons end, then the life must end, they say. But even
in the Hebrew Scriptures this is denied. In connection with the
resurrection in Daniel we are told: "And the intelligent shall
warn as the warning of the atmosphere, and those who justify many
shall be as the stars for the eon and further" (Dan.12:3).
Nearly all translations render this "forever and ever." In
this case also the use of "forever" really conceals what the
spirit of God is saying. To be sure, to express that which comes
after the eons, this phrase is permissible, but that eonian means
endless is proven to be false by the addition of "and further."
In Daniel, however, the main outlook is not concerned with the life of
the eons (plural), but only with one eon,
"for the eon." This gives it a clear boundary. It is the classic
phrase which denotes the length of Messiah's millennial reign on
The special addition to previous unfoldings is the phrase
"and further." It is probably the farthest point reached by the
Hebrew revelation. This formula occurs often in the psalms. The
first one to use it was Moses. He uses it to indicate the length
of the reign of God's Son:
"Jehovah is reigning for the eons,
And till the eon and further" (Ex.15:18).
The "further" takes us beyond the boundary of "the eon" of
the kingdom without giving us any more detailed information as to
that period. It is important to see that Daniel leads the
resurrected saints into it, even if he says nothing definite
concerning the eon which follows the thousand years. Yet he is
very emphatic that, after the day of the Lord has ended, the
eonian life will continue "further."
A promise given by God through the prophet Isaiah contains
more light concerning this last eon. We read (Isa.65:17):
"Behold Me creating a new heaven and a new earth,
Nor remembered shall be the former,
Nor are they coming upon the heart."
Here we have the location, the new earth, of which Peter
wrote (2 Peter 3:13), and which John actually perceived
(Rev.21:1), where the eonian life of true Israelites will
continue, and where it will develop on an even higher plane than
in the day of Jehovah.
We may safely deduce from this that the close of an eon by no
means ends the eonian life. This goes on, without a break, into
the next eon. Then the supposition that eonian life leads to an end of
life, is clearly, shown
to be a mistake by the Hebrew Scriptures. If we add this fact to
our knowledge then "eonian life" will become an intermediate idea,
and we will have no trouble seeing that passages which deal with
life for an eon, are concerned with only a part of the way to the
consummation. Only this basic idea will enable us to understand
our Lord's remarks concerning it aright.
The teaching of our Lord is in perfect harmony with that of
the Hebrew Scriptures. Its contents are enriched, however, because
it was heralded by the One Who gave eonian life to those who had
faith to receive it. Often did He promise it to those who believed
on Him (Matt.19:29, John 3:15,16,36, 5:24, 6:40,47; 10:10,28;
17:2; 20:31). Like Daniel, He also taught that, for those
reposing, the entrance into eonian life will be through
resurrection. He used the same formula as Daniel (12:13), that
those who believed would rise in the last days.
This knowledge was in the possession of believing Israelites.
So Martha said to Jesus: "I am aware that he will be rising in the
resurrection in the last day" (John 11:24). The Lord also
emphasized that it was "for the eon" (John 6:51,58). He assured
His true followers that they would not be beholding death under
any circumstances "for the eon" (John 8:51; 10:28; 11:26). This
word has a deep meaning when we remember that death is still
operating in the next eon, in the millennium, even if it is much
diminished. We read in Isaiah 65:22 that the days of His people,
will be like the days of the trees, and, if anyone dies a hundred
years old (20), he will be called a youth. He must die so "young"
as a penalty for some sin. As this eon had not come at that time,
nor is present today, He spoke of the gift of eonian life as a promise,
which will be fulfilled at the
commencement of that eon by means of resurrection (Mark 10:30;
Luke 20:35; John 12:25). In all these promises the rule obtains
that the dead must receive life through resurrection (John 5:21).
It is clear that the Lord, during His days on earth, taught
so that everyone instructed in the Scriptures could understand
Him. An "eternal" life, as it is understood in Christendom, would
have been quite a puzzle to them. Like the prophets of old, He
spoke only within the coming eon, and, as a rule, went no further
than its close (Matt.13:39,40; 28:20). Once only do we find the
plural in the accounts of our Lord's life, and that was when the
messenger Gabriel made known to Mary the reign of the Son of the
Highest over the house of Jacob. There we are told that it will be
"for the eons" (Luke 1:33). It is exactly the same as Moses
(Ex.15:18), only a later revelation.
The main reason for the prevailing confusion concerning the
consummation of all things is that, where our Lord said "eon" and
"eonian," the Bible reader sees "ever" and "everlasting," with the
sense of endless. Through this he gets a totally false conception
of the future. Take the example of Matt.25:46, "Eternal torment"
(rightly, eonian chastening) fastens endlessness on this judgment.
After the reliable Concordant Version transliterated it "eonian,"
the exact Greek word which came from the mouth of our Lord, many
have condemned it, saying, "If the punishment is not endless, then
the promised life also has an end. And that cannot be." So this
passage became the foundation for the teaching of eternal torment.
Ignorance of the scriptural teaching concerning the eons, and the
rules that govern life and the judgments, caused this confusion.
As we have shown, eonian life crosses the boundary of the eon
without a break. Contrary to this, every judgment comes to its end with
the conclusion of the eon in
which it is found. The gehenna ("hell" AV) of fire, where the worm
is not deceasing and the fire is not going out (Mark 9:42-50)
will be present during the whole millennium. But at the end, when
the elements are dissolved (2 Peter 3:7-10), the very valley will
be consumed, and will not, like eonian life, be found on the new
earth. Those who died there will come up before the great white
throne for another, and different judgment. Eonian chastening and
eonian life are in perfect agreement with the following
developments, as set down in the prophetic Word.
Our Lord spoke occasionally of eonian life in such a way that
one could imagine that every believer already enjoyed it. He said
that the believer has eonian life (John 3:36; 5:24; 6:47;
20:31). But He also said, "I am the Resurrection and the Life.
He who is believing in Me, even if he should be dying, shall be
living" (John 11:25). The first group of passages have been
isolated from the rest, and made the basis of an unbiblical idea
that we enjoy this life as soon as we believe and that it
continues even in death. But this creates crass contradictions in
the Lord's teaching concerning the future life. If He says that
eonian life comes through resurrection, for the coming eon, how
can He, at the same time, immediately impart it? As a matter of
fact those to whom He promised it all died. We cannot have a
promise of something which we already enjoy.
THE BASIC RULES APPLIED
This case may be used as an example to show how we may solve
the most difficult problems of this kind. It is important that
every searcher of the Scriptures understands the necessary rules.
We have already discovered them in the Hebrew Scriptures. There we
found that eonian life comes through resurrection in the last day
and will be enjoyed in the coming eons. As the Lord used them in
His day, they were certified as correct, and doubly assured. No
one has the right to alter them by means of another passage, or to
deny them, even if it looks convincing to depart from the previous
revelation. That can only be done if a change is made by our Lord Himself,
or by the spirit of God in a later revelation.
The following are examples of such occurrences:
(1) You hear that it was declared to the ancients...Yet I am
saying to you... (Matt.5:21,27,31,33,38).
(2) Near is the kingdom of the heavens (Matt.4:7)! In Luke
19:2 He shows that the kingdom is not looming up instantly.
(3) In Luke 9:3; 10:4 He sent the twelve forth without a
beggar's bag. In Luke 22:36 He told them to take one.
These are instances in which our Lord recalled His first
words, and changed them to the opposite.
So it was with the law also. In Heb.7:18 we are told that
"there is coming to be a repudiation of the preceding precept,
because it is weak and without benefit" (Heb.7:19; 8:13).
It is futile, however, to seek in His words for any changes
or reversal as to the subject of eonian life. This truth continues
along the lines previously laid down.
Even if this is not repeated every time in each passage, that
does not prove that it is obsolete. God takes it for granted that
the careful searcher of the Scriptures has grasped His truth, and,
in each case, uses it as a background. This method must be applied
in all scientific investigation. First the student must learn the
axioms. Once these are grasped, it is not necessary to repeat them
each time, for each one applies them as a matter of course. But if
they are overlooked or ignored, the results are bound to be false.
And this is what the spirit of God expects of us. We should
accustom ourselves to apply such self-evident rules of
interpretation. Paul refers to such a rule on two occasions
(Gal.6:16; Phil.3:16). The continual feeding of believers on a
milk diet hardly leads to this helpful practice. As a result many false
doctrines have crept into
If we use this sound rule in interpreting the sayings of our
Lord, we will hold fast to the uniform teaching concerning eonian
life, and we will be able to find passages that explain any
difficulties. Such a scripture is John 5:24: "he who is hearing
My word and believing Him Who sends Me, has life eonian, and is
not coming into judging, but has proceeded out of death into
Here we may see clearly that the words "has life eonian" is
to be understood as a figure of speech. The disciples, who heard
His word and believed God who had sent Him, certainly had not
proceeded out of literal death, for they still had literal mortal
life. They could not have received literal eonian life, but had it
in expectation. It belonged to them. They certainly will enjoy it
in the future, but did not in the past. The kingdom in which it
will be enjoyed was then near. Had the nation accepted Him, there
was a possibility that their life would have merged into eonian
life, without dying. Such will be the case at His coming in the
future to Israel, as well as to those of us who are caught up to
meet Him when He descends to the air.
It is a fact however, that the believer has a spiritual
vitality so that he has some of the attributes of eonian life in
his mortal frame, and it is this, doubtless, which enables him to
hear the shout of the Lord, when others of the dead do not. We
find this to be true in a greater degree after the resurrection of
Christ, and we are told to reckon ourselves as having died with
Him and being roused again. Here the figure is even stronger, for
we have not literally died, so we have not received a literal
post-resurrection life. To the Jews our Lord explained the matter
more fully. He spoke of a coming hour when the dead would hear
His voice, including His disciples. This shows that they did not
then enjoy this life, but it belonged to them, when the time came. In
John 6:54 He
speaks in a single sentence of having eonian life and of raising
them in the last day. In Mark 10:30 He definitely defers eonian
life to the coming eon, so it could not be in the present. Luke
20:35 is in a similar vein.
Nowhere did the Lord teach an immediate entrance into life
after death. The very passage which is so often quoted to prove
this unscriptural idea, is no exception. To be sure, this saying
has a deep significance, and is an advance in the revelation of
resurrection. Yet this does not demand the rejection of all the
teaching up to that time, but rather, emphasizes that the divine
resurrection life will conquer all the domain of death. When
Christ says, "I am the Resurrection and the Life" (John ll:25),
He points to the important truth that resurrection alone is not
enough to insure entrance into life eonian.
There is a resurrection for judgment, followed by a casting
into the lake of fire (Dan.12:2; John 5:29; Rev.20:12-15). But
for believing Israelites it leads to life, that is, when they
are resurrected He will give them a life which will keep them out
of the judgment (John 5:24) and the second death. During the
whole of the kingdom eon and further death will not be able to
touch them. That is why He gives the "overcomers," as conquerors,
who are believers in the great affliction, that they will under no
circumstances be injured by the second death (Rev.2:11). Those
are happy and holy who have part in the former resurrection,
over whom the second death has no jurisdiction (Rev.20:6). The
former resurrection includes the just, who do good (Dan.12:2;
John 5:29) at the beginning of the coming eon. It is called the
"former" because the unjust are not roused until a thousand years
later. The members of the body ecclesia and their resurrection are
not included in these revelations, because these concern only believing
Israelites who enter the terrestrial kingdom.
These glorious truths are the real substance of our Lord's
words to Martha. He did not deny her hope of rising in the last
day, but confirmed it and filled it with a deeper significance
(John 11:24,25). Had He intended to teach an immediate life after
death, He would have told her that believing Lazarus was then
alive already. Instead of that He said, "Your brother will be
rising," that is, in the future tense, because he was dead and not
alive. And if Lazarus actually was in conscious bliss already, He
certainly would have comforted the sorrowing sisters with this
fact and not have brought him back into this earthly,
disintegrating, suffering existence, which replaced him under the
dominion of death.
The use of the basic rules we have followed will assure
complete clarity in every case. Added to this are witnesses that
confirm their correctness. Often it is the context, as in the case
of Lazarus, or it is a closer rendering or a parable.
Let us check this conclusion as to life immediately after
death, by the parable of the rich man and poor Lazarus (Luke
16:19-31). The first point which should guide us is this: It is
contrary to all other revelation to base happiness in the next
life on poverty in this one. This alone should show that this is a
parable. The rich man's table represents Israel and God's earthly
gifts to His people. The picture of Lazarus at his portal gives us
the other nations, which had no part in their allotment. Among
these peoples, whom God left to go in their own ways, there were
always some who sought to satisfy themselves with the crumbs which
fell from Israel's board. How apt was the reply of the Canaanitish
woman when she said, "the puppies are eating of the scraps that
are falling from their master's table" (Matt.15:27). Long before this,
David spoke, in spirit, of the
richly laden table God set before His people
Let their table become a trap and a mesh,
And a snare and a repayment for them.
Because of the selfishness and lack of compassion with which
Israel refused to share these gifts with the nations (Acts
22:21,22), the long predicted judgment fell on them
(Rom.11:9,10). Ever since Israel has suffered in the flames of
persecution, the once "rich man," during the centuries, in which
their pain has never ceased. At the same time God, in His grace,
has condescended to the nations, the "poor Lazarus" (Deity Helps),
and through Paul brought them justification by faith, the
consolation of Abraham. This is shown in the fine figure of
Abraham's bosom. This is the main outline in the parable of the
rich man and Lazarus. But there is no hint of a living on after
By the use of such sound methods of exegesis we can show that
our Lord, throughout His ministry taught that eonian life will
come only through resurrection at the end of the days.
Now that we are about to broaden our inquiry, seeing that all
this was said before the death of Christ, the question rises, "Did
not the cross bring about a change in the death state of those who
died afterward? Is it not written, that, through death, He should
be discarding him who has the might of death, that is, the
Adversary" (Heb.2:14)? It almost seems to prove it, if we add the
words of our Lord to the malefactor on the cross. This is
popularly quoted as follows: "Lord, remember me when Thou comest
in Thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee,
Today shalt thou be with me in paradise" (Luke 23:42,43). These
words, so punctuated, can be understood in no other way as that
Jesus immediately entered His kingdom, and took the malefactor along with
Him when He died. But never did
our Lord, after His consistent teaching to the contrary, suddenly,
with a single sentence, withdraw it.
Here the context should determine the position of the words.
The question of the malefactor was, "whenever Thou mayest be
coming in Thy kingdom." The malefactor, as an Israelite, knew
that the Messiah, when He comes to set up the kingdom, will bring
back paradise to the earth. And now he was given grace to
recognize the true Messiah in the crucified Man next to him, and
he seized the opportunity to beg Him to remember him when He, at
the end of the eon, rouses the believing Israelites, and brings
them into paradise. In this sense the Lord answered him, "Verily,
to you am I saying today, with Me shall you be in the paradise."
In other words, Today I already assure you that you will be
present when I come in My kingdom. A paradise on earth before the
establishment of Messiah's kingdom, and an entrance into it
immediately after death was unknown to the Hebrew Scriptures. And
the Lord Himself did not enter His kingdom after His death. He
Himself said of the three days in the grave: "I was dead"
(Rev.1:18). His body was laid in the tomb (Matt.27:60). His soul
was in the unseen (AV hell, Acts 2:27). His spirit went to God
(Luke 23:46). Had His spirit been consciously with God and so
had descended to His resurrection body, how could He have said to
Mary on the morning of His resurrection, "Do not touch Me, for not
as yet have I ascended to My Father" (John 20:17)?
How about this teaching, after the resurrection of Christ?
It is very easy to establish the fact that the apostles held to
it. They announced, in Jesus, the resurrection from among the dead
(Acts 4:2), but not a life in death. Stephen "was put to repose"
Dorcas, in Joppa, came to be dying. Peter raised her and presented
her "alive" (Acts 9:37-41). The apostle John wrote in his
epistles concerning life eonian exactly like the Lord had done. He
teaches according to the basic rule, "this is the promise which He
promises us, the life eonian" (1 John 2:25). So that, long after
Christ's resurrection nothing else was known except that this life
was a future gift. And later John writes to the believers that
they have eonian life through faith in the name of the Son of God
(1 John 5:13).
Important is it to hear how Paul speaks of this in his
witness to the Circumcision. Before the Sanhedrin he defended
himself thus: "Concerning the expectation (life in the eon) and
the resurrection of the dead I am being judged" (Acts 23:6). He
had "an expectation in God...that there shall be a resurrection
which is impending for both the just and the unjust" (Acts).
It is worthy of note that even Paul does not yet
differentiate between the two resurrections. That was not in his
commission, but in the apostle John's, He gives the exact time,
that of the righteous, beginning with the thousand years, which he
calls the "former." Not till after the millennium comes that of
the unjust (Rev.20:4-6). Besides, John makes it very clear that
this life is on the earth, and for an important service on it. In
the Revelation (6:9,10) we read the following concerning it: "And
of every tribe and language and people and nation Thou dost also
make them a kingdom and a priesthood for our God, and they shall
be reigning on the earth." These are faithful saints in Israel.
Along the whole line of promise from the beginning in the
Hebrew Scriptures to this mountain top, we can perceive the main
elements of eonian life. It is a life which is enjoyed within the
last eons. As it will last as long as the eons, it is called
"eonian." As this is all before the consummation, God's plan of
salvation is still in course of its development. But those who have
eonian life are not mere observers who idly enjoy the blessings of
the future eons, but workers together with Christ, God's
associates in fulfilling His great purpose. Therefore it is
evident that this life includes far more than mere salvation.
Besides all His promises to Israel's believers, God revealed
to John the time when it was first included in His plan for them.
"And marvel shall those dwelling on the earth, whose names are not
written on the scroll of life from the disruption of the world,
when they observe the wild beast..." (Rev.17:8). These faithful
Jews of the end time who are not deceived and led astray by the
wild beast, the Antichrist, were written in the scroll of life
long before. Important is the time when this occurred, from the
disruption of the world. Even before this, sin had entered
creation, and the earth had suffered the disruption. Thus this
inscribing in the scroll of life stands in close relation to the
renewed earth, and points to the eonian life which Israel will
enjoy on the future earth, when restored from the great affliction
of the end time. On it they will fulfill their future commission
to the nations.
This is the line of the promise of eonian life, and its fulfillment for
the kingdom ecclesia.