The end of which world (aeon, age)?

In regards to teachings about eschatological topics, the expression "the end of the world" or "end of the age", etc seems of great importance and a key to understanding the topics correctly.

Hebr 9:26 (AV)
For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

This passage is speaking about the appearance of the Messiah Jesus almost 2000 years ago and rather clearly states that the time when Jesus lived on earth and accomplished the work of redemption with his sacrifice of himself as sin-offering was "now ... in the end of the world". Obviously, the "now" is a reference to the then present now, not to our current day now. And the then present time - almost 2000 years ago - is said to have been "in the end of the world"

How dare theologians then claim that "the end of the world" is still future, even almost 2 millennia after the time which Scripture defines as "the end of the world" ??

Comments

  • WolfgangWolfgang Posts: 1,260

    In light of the above mentioned, there is an interesting statement in Gal 1 in which reference is made to "this present evil world"

    Gal 1:4 (NASB95)
    who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,

    Gal 1:4 (AV)
    Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:

    To which "PRESENT evil world (age)" does the statement refer? Observing the time of writing, is it the then present world/age? Or has it been and is always the present time of the reader reading the passage (in other words, for a reader 400 years ago it was the world/age then, for a reader today it is this current world/age, etc) ?

  • C_M_C_M_ Posts: 2,580

    In Gal. 1:4, Paul clearly states, “Christ gave himself for our sins in order to deliver us from the present evil age (ἐκ τοῦ αἰῶνος τοῦ ἐνεστῶτος πονηροῦ).” The phrase, “the present evil age” shows Paul’s basic understanding of the old world, κόσμος, which is in the process of being replaced by God’s new world. There are several possible connotations of the term, κόσμος (world):

    1. The reformer John Calvin -- as whatever opposes “the spiritual kingdom of Christ.”
    2. Timothy George explains κόσμος as “the world-system that in its basic values and orientation is alienated from God.”
    3. G. Walter Hansen sees κόσμος as a world that can be characterized by “prideful boasting about national identity, social status, and religious practices.”
    4. Ernest D. W. Burton, κόσμος is “the mode of life characterized by earthly advantages.”
    5. J. Louis Martyn (the supersessionist (anti-Semitic), defines the meaning of κόσμος -- “the world that is now passé is not Judaism as such, but rather the world of all religious differentiation.”
    6. These scholars’ insights are helpful in terms of appreciating the many meaning of κόσμος.

    Paul’s declaration of equality and unity of all people in Christ is also his critique of the Roman Empire where social class such as slave or free and gender difference like male or female is critical.

    • God’s eschatological new world is already here in the midst of “the present evil age” (Gal. 1:4).
    • The evilness of this present world becomes a prerequisite for God’s just and righteous world, καινὴ κτίσις.
      By arguing for God’s replacement of the old world with the new, Paul identifies the Roman Empire with the evil age.

    By proclaiming the eschatological new world, the new creation, Paul is asserting that the ruler of the old world is now being changed. In sum:

    • Negative judgment of κόσμος = “The present evil age,” where religious and ethnic differentiations are considered essential and where oppressive and hierarchical social systems are fully adopted as normative.
    • Positive View = God’s new creation, καινὴ κτίσις, as Christ’s death and resurrection have initiated God’s new world and in this world various forms of boundaries and differentiation, such as ethnic distinction between Jew and Greek, social class gaps between slave and free, and gender differences between male and female, are no longer valid.

    I hope this helps. Enjoy! CM

    SOURCES:

    -- John Calvin, Commentaries on the Epistle of Paul to the Galatians and Ephesians (trans. W. Pringle; Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1948), 184.
    -- Timothy George, Galatians (NAC 30; Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), 437.
    -- G. Walter Hansen, Galatians (The IVP New Testament Commentary Series; Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1994), 200.
    -- Ernest D. W. Burton, Galatians (ICC 10; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1959), pp 354 and 514.
    -- Martyn, J. Louis. Galatians. Anchor Bible 33A. New York: Doubleday, 1997., pg 565.

  • WolfgangWolfgang Posts: 1,260

    @C_M_ said:
    In Gal. 1:4, Paul clearly states, “Christ gave himself for our sins in order to deliver us from the present evil age (ἐκ τοῦ αἰῶνος τοῦ ἐνεστῶτος πονηροῦ).” The phrase, “the present evil age” shows Paul’s basic understanding of the old world, κόσμος, which is in the process of being replaced by God’s new world. There are several possible connotations of the term, κόσμος (world):

    Well, according to the text in Gal 1:4, Christ gave himself in order to deliver us from the present evil age (ἐκ τοῦ αἰῶνος τοῦ ἐνεστῶτος πονηροῦ) ... nothing about "world [κόσμος]" said there.

    My question therefore was about which AGE is in view in the expression "this PRESENT evil AGE"?

    1. The reformer John Calvin -- as whatever opposes “the spiritual kingdom of Christ.”
    2. Timothy George explains κόσμος as “the world-system that in its basic values and orientation is alienated from God.”
    3. G. Walter Hansen sees κόσμος as a world that can be characterized by “prideful boasting about national identity, social status, and religious practices.”
    4. Ernest D. W. Burton, κόσμος is “the mode of life characterized by earthly advantages.”
    5. J. Louis Martyn (the supersessionist (anti-Semitic), defines the meaning of κόσμος -- “the world that is now passé is not Judaism as such, but rather the world of all religious differentiation.”
    6. These scholars’ insights are helpful in terms of appreciating the many meaning of κόσμος.

    See above ... these are various explanation details about κόσμος, but don't address the real point in Gal 1:4 ("this present evil age").

    Paul’s declaration of equality and unity of all people in Christ is also his critique of the Roman Empire where social class such as slave or free and gender difference like male or female is critical.

    • God’s eschatological new world is already here in the midst of “the present evil age” (Gal. 1:4).
    • The evilness of this present world becomes a prerequisite for God’s just and righteous world, καινὴ κτίσις.
      By arguing for God’s replacement of the old world with the new, Paul identifies the Roman Empire with the evil age.

    Only, Paul is NOT arguing in Gal 1:4 about "God's replacement of the old world with the new world"!
    Many fancy words and theological material ... unfortunately, they are not addressing my question.

    By proclaiming the eschatological new world, the new creation, Paul is asserting that the ruler of the old world is now being changed. In sum:

    Ok ... to what time frame does this "NOW" (in the expression "Paul is asserting that the ruler of the old world is now being changed") refer?

    • Negative judgment of κόσμος = “The present evil age,” where religious and ethnic differentiations are considered essential and where oppressive and hierarchical social systems are fully adopted as normative.

    Is this talking about the then "now" times of in the days of Paul? or about our "now" times in the 21st century?

    • Positive View = God’s new creation, καινὴ κτίσις, as Christ’s death and resurrection have initiated God’s new world and in this world various forms of boundaries and differentiation, such as ethnic distinction between Jew and Greek, social class gaps between slave and free, and gender differences between male and female, are no longer valid.

    Again, what "now" time is in view in this paragraph? is Paul writing about our day and time almost 2000 years after he wrote?

    I hope this helps. Enjoy! CM

    This helps only very vaguely ... see above

  • C_M_C_M_ Posts: 2,580

    @Wolfgang said:

    Ok ... to what time frame does this "NOW" (in the expression "Paul is asserting that the ruler of the old world is now being changed") refer?

    • Negative judgment of κόσμος = “The present evil age,” where religious and ethnic differentiations are considered essential and where oppressive and hierarchical social systems are fully adopted as normative.

    Is this talking about the then "now" times of in the days of Paul? or about our "now" times in the 21st century?

    Again, what "now" time is in view in this paragraph? is Paul writing about our day and time almost 2000 years after he wrote?

    Wolfgang,
    Upon a second look, Paul was addressing the time of his audience and future times because of what Christ has done. Jesus died once for all men for all times. Therefore, the benefits or solutions are applicable to future generations. Time doesn't change the benefits and blessings of Christ.

    Again, In Gal. 1:4, Paul clearly states, “Christ gave himself for our sins in order to deliver us from the present evil age (ἐκ τοῦ αἰῶνος τοῦ ἐνεστῶτος πονηροῦ).” The phrase, “the present evil age” shows Paul’s basic understanding of the old world, κόσμος, which is in the process of being replaced by God’s new world.

    Cosmic upheaval is a standard feature of the signs of the end of the age in the biblical and non-biblical literature {William Barclay, "Great Themes of the New Testament: Matthew 24," ExpT 70 (1959): 329]. CM

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