Scripture reading: Matt 13:36-43

Jesus taught the doctrine of the “two ages” (Age: Heb. olam, Gk: aion)

  • Examples: Mt 12:32; Luke 20:34-36 (cf. Mk 10:30).
  • The ages are successive and qualitatively distinct. Also, there is a definite end to the present age: Jesus’ return and judgment of evil (Mt 13:36-43, 47-50).

This was the established teaching of the Old Testament

This age

  • The age began with a pristine world but went sideways (Genesis 3, 6, 11).
  • God adopted Israel out of the nations to be his own (Genesis 12, Deut 7:6-13).
  • This age is characterized by sin (autonomy), death, tribulation, false teaching, apostasy, a faithful remnant.
  • Antagonists will be given authority at different times over God’s people (Jer 27:6).
  • A final antagonist will oppose God’s people: prince, king (Ez 38, Dan 8, 11).
  • The nations will gather against God’s people (Joel 3, Zeph 3, Zech 14).
  • At the end: Messiah will come to deliver his people (Dan 7).

The age to come

  • All the dead are resurrected and judged: some go to life, others to death (Dan 12:2).
  • God cuts a New Covenant with the remnant of Israel who, together with believing Gentiles, comprise a reconstituted Israel of God (Jer 31:31-34; Isa 19:21-25; 49:6).
  • God pours out his Spirit on his people to empower them to live keep torah faithfully and do great deeds on his behalf (Joel 2:28-29; Ezek 36:26-27).
  • Messiah sits on David’s throne over a renewed kingdom (Pss 2, 110).
  • God’s people enjoy unending life and joy without diminution forever (Isa 25:7-8).
  • Death, pain, sin, and evil are destroyed forever (Isa 25:8).
  • The cosmos is renewed and God’s righteousness, justice and shalom permeate the renewed creation (Isa 65:17-25).

Which age are we in?

  • This is part of what Paul referred to as a “mystery” (musterion, 27x in NT). It’s one of the many “mysteries (pl.) of the kingdom of God” (Mt 13:11; Mk 4:11; Lk 8:10). Paul understood himself and other apostles to be managers of these mysteries (1 Cor 4:1). He enumerates some of them in his letters (Rom 11:25; 1 Cor 15:51; Eph 3:3-6).
  • This age is the “present evil age” (Gal 1:4). Satan is the “god” of this age (2 Cor 4:4). We’re warned to not be conformed to this age (Rom 12:2). The wisdom and rulers of this age are coming to nothing (1 Cor 2:6). This age will decisively end at “the consummation (sunteleia) of the age,” when he gathers the wicked for judgment (Mt 13:39,49).
  • The age to come has broken into this age. Believers are described as those who have tasted the “powers of the age to come” (Heb 6:5). Jesus has given us his authority (Lk 10:19), Spirit and power (Acts 1:8) to live as he lived and extend his rule over the earth. Sin is “rendered powerless” (Rom 6:6-7). Satan is bound and restrained in certain important respects (Mt 12:22-30). Jesus’ enemies are being made his footstool (Heb 10:13; 1:13; Ps 110:1; Mt 22:44).

Implications

  • We should not be surprised when bad stuff happens. The cosmos is “groaning” under the weight of evil. And Satan is ticked because he knows his time is short. Be realistic.
  • We should expect supernatural assistance daily! We have the authority of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit to resist sin and do great works of service. Satan is angry, but he is on a leash so he cannot prevent the Gospel from winning out and the kingdom of God from expanding. Be expectant.
  • We must acknowledge both ages. If we acknowledge only the present evil age we will live sub-Christian lives. If we acknowledge only the age to come we will despair when bad stuff happens in this life. Be biblically balanced.
  • We should be set our hope fully on “the glorious appearance of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13)! All the bad stuff will soon be eliminated permanently and only good stuff will happen after that. Be pumped!