THE SAINTS IN HEAVEN  


 

THE SAINTS IN HEAVEN

The Bible indicates that at death, the body returns to the chemicals (dust) of the soil (Genesis 3:19; Job 34:15) via decomposition.
The soul and spirit return into the hands of God (Job 34:14).

Thus, the significance of what Jesus said at the point of dying,
"into your hands I dismiss my spirit." (Luke 23:46)

OLD TESTAMENT SAINTS AT DEATH:

During this time period, prior to the resurrection of Jesus, God placed the spirits of those who died into the "the depths of the earth" (Psalm 63:9-10) in a place called in the Hebrew, sheol and in the Greek, hades.

Luke 16:19-31 indicates that prior to the resurrection of Christ, hades was comprised of three sections.

ORIENTATION TO LUKE 16:19ff

This story is not a parable. It is an actual historical event that Jesus shares with us in order to teach the urgency of adjusting to God's terms for relationship with Him, while one is still here on earth. Hebrews 9:27.

However, even if one believes it to be a parable, that same person must realize that Jesus always used situations of human reality to make His points. Accordingly, whether one chooses to accept the rich man and Lazarus as historical personages is inconsequential. But the fact remains that the nature of the event is true.

Therefore, it is clear that before the resurrection of Jesus, when a believer died, he was carried by angels into a place of comfort called Abraham's bosom. This terminology probably refers to the presence of Abraham and the close proximity that this new arrival experiences, rather than being the actual "title" of this place of comfort.

The official title is "paradise" which is what Jesus called it when he told the believing thief on the cross, "Truly I say to you. Today you shall be with me in paradise" (Luke 23:43). When the two of them died, they both went into the lower parts of the earth, to the place of comfort in hades (Ephesians 4:9).

In fact, before the resurrection of Jesus, no person had ever entered into heaven (John 3:13).

That is why we find Abraham in the comfort side of hades "in the lower parts of the earth," as is indicated at Luke 16:22-23.

Furthermore, both Enoch and Elijah were also placed into Paradise in hades, when their job was done here on earth. These men simply received a special gathering up from God, and as their bodies were left behind and privately buried by God, their souls interacted with God and the angels in a very special manner. At 2 Kings 2:11, Elijah is NOT taken into "heaven," but into "the heavens," i.e., the sky.

Yet, this "comfort" in hades was not the ultimate salvation blessing anticipated by Old Testament believers. Hebrews 11:13-16 tells us that they were looking for a heavenly city. There was also the promise of physical resurrection given to these believers (Job 19:26-27; Daniel 12:2) although that resurrection would not take place until the 2nd coming of the Messiah.

There needed to be then, a transfer from hades within the earth, to a heavenly abode. This was taught throughout the Old Testament and was accomplished immediately after the resurrection of Jesus, "when He ascended up on high He led a captive company (in hades) into captivity (in heaven). Ephesians 4:8.

The prophecies that speak of this transfer are found at, Psalm 49:15; Isaiah 61:1; Hosea 13:14; Psalm 68:18.

In fact, Jesus actually took the "location" called paradise and all the saints dwelling there, to the third heaven.

It is therefore significant that whereas, Jesus speaks of "paradise" being in the earth (hades), which we know by comparing Luke 16:22-23; 23:43 and Ephesians 4:9, Paul speaks of "paradise" being in the 3rd heaven at 2 Corinthians 12:1-4.

Now, since the resurrection of Christ, whenever a believer dies, they go into the presence of the Lord in the 3rd heaven which is where paradise is now located (2 Corinthians 5:8; Philippians 1:23; 2 Corinthians 12:1-4).*
According to Revelation 2:7, the future destiny of the believer is to live in "the paradise of God." The one who overcomes is the one who has trusted in Christ as Savior. 1 John 5:5.

*Acts 2:34 (NASB/BFT)
"For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says,
'THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD,
SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND,
Verse 35 (BFT)
UNTIL I MAKE YOUR ENEMIES A FOOTSTOOL FOR YOUR FEET."'

The ESV translation reads,
"David did not ascend into the heavens". 
And the KJV reads,
"For David is not ascended into the heavens."

This has sometimes been interpreted to mean that at the time of Peter's message,
David WAS NOT in heaven. Accordingly, it is used to suggest that the Old Testament
saints did not go into heaven with Christ at His ascension, and that they therefore
remained in Hades where they reside at the present time.
However, neither the ESV nor the KJV translations represent the Greek accurately.
The negative (not) goes directly with David, and not with the verb.
Thus, the NASB represents this accurately as,
"For (it was) not David who ascended."

And yet, the other translations do not require a "non-ascended David theory."
It is the context that establishes what the sentence means, and even with the "not""
misplaced, it should be clear that Peter is simply contrasting David's DEATH experience
with the Messiah's.
In the context Peter is talking about the resurrection and ascension of Christ based on the
Old Testament prophecies of Psalm 16 and 110.

Peter is telling us that the prophecies are speaking of the Messiah and NOT of
himself BECAUSE - AT THAT TIME (the time of David's death), it was NOT David
who ascended into heaven.
Therefore the prophecy MUST be referring to someone else, ie. the Messiah.
Verse 36, THEREFORE, the conclusion, "Let all  the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord (sovereign deity) and Messiah."
 
The context at Acts 2:34 indicates that the translation should be,
"for (it was) not David who ascended . . ."
(Yes, "it was" is added, but it is justified because Peter is setting up a contrast between
David and the Messiah).
Thus, literally, "not David ascended" rather than "David did not ascend."
The placement of the negative with David establishes the contrast between
David and the Messiah, which is what Peter is doing in order to demonstrate
that it is Jesus who fulfilled the prophecy.

Since the ESV and KJV do not place the "not" properly, it contributes to interpretations other
than what is intended by the speaker. But the placement of the negative with the verb STILL
allows the context to speak for itself, and the rest of Scripture on this subject establishes
the truth that has been asserted in this study.

In view of this, our access to heaven is described at Hebrews 12:22-24, as coming to "Mount Zion even the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, AND to myriads of angels (holy ones), a festal gathering, AND to the assembly of the first born, AND to God the judge of all, AND to the spirits of righteous men made complete, AND to Jesus, the mediator of the new covenant, AND to the blood which speaks beyond the (significance of the blood sacrifice made by) Abel."

In heaven at this time then, there is:

1. The location of our heavenly abode: The heavenly Jerusalem on a "heavenly" Mount Zion.

2. The multitude of angels which is a festal gathering. This speaks of the joy and celebration of the angels concerning the redeemed.

3. The assembly (ekklesia) of the firstborn (the church) which has been enrolled in heaven. This is the body of Christ (the church) already enrolled based on divine foreknowledge and predestination. It would be represented by those of the church already present.

4. God the Father.

5. The spirits of righteous men made complete. This refers to Old Testament saints who were taken to heaven at the "first" ascension of Jesus and were thus, "made complete" but not apart from that "completion" being given to the church (Hebrews 11:40). Furthermore, it is important to realize that the "condition" of these Old Testament saints in heaven is not in resurrection body. The word "made complete" in this context does not refer to resurrection but to the confirmation of the salvation promised in the Old Testament. It was given to them by way of promise as they experienced "comfort" in Paradise, awaiting the arrival and the work of the Messiah. After His victory, these spirits were taken to heaven where their salvation was confirmed (made complete) by their heavenly access to the Father (Ephesians 2:18). No one receives resurrection until Christ returns (1 Corinthians 15:23).

6. And Jesus.

7. The blood mentioned, speaks of the basis for access. The work of Christ on the cross as payment for sin.

Thus we see in heaven, both Old Testament and New Testament believers. And although they are mentioned separately, they are certainly mentioned as residing together.

Accordingly, if we were given a glimpse into heaven we would expect to see represented there, all the parties mentioned at Hebrews 12.
God actually gives us such a glimpse into heaven at Revelation 4 and 5.

John, "in the Spirit," that is, in his vision, is transported to heaven where he will be shown the events of the future. He "arrives," to a scene in the new Jerusalem as it appears in the immediate environment of the throne of the Father. What he sees is - -

1. God the Father on His throne: Verses 4:1-3

2. 24 "old men" (elders = Greek, presbuteros). John does not see someone and say, "Oh, an elder." What John sees are 24 "old men."

This fact alone indicates that they are representative of people.

(Angels often "appeared" as men on the earth, but there is no logical reason for them to appear as men in heaven).

3. A symbol for the presence of the Holy Spirit. V. 4:5

4. Four living creatures which are probably the seraphim Isaiah saw at Isaiah 6:2-3.

5. The lamb is present: V. 5:6

6. And a multitude of angels: V. 5:11

The only group that could represent the saints is the 24 elders. The gold crowns further indicate that these are humans who have been victorious over the system of darkness. Scripture never shows angels wearing gold crowns. If one chooses to make the 24 elders refer to angels, then the saints in heaven have no representation at all.

It has further been suggested that since these "old men" have gold crowns (stephanos, in the Greek, which is claimed to be a "victor's" crown), it must refer to the church AFTER the rapture (which the pre-trib view places at Revelation 4:1) and the gold crowns represent the rewards to be given at the judgment seat of Christ.

However, the presence of the stephanos crown does not require that it refer to "rewards." The locusts of Revelation 9:7, have gold stephanos crowns and Jesus Himself wears a gold stephanos crown at Revelation 14:14.

The crown of thorns placed on the head of Jesus was a stephanos crown.
And the rider on the white horse of the 1st seal has a stephanos crown.

To view this group of "old men" as saints, gives us no problem when the KJV version is read, and they are singing about the Lamb who "redeemed US to God." But the better Greek manuscripts render the pronouns "us" and "we" in verses 9-10, as "them" and "they." Some suggest, on that basis, that the 24 elders cannot refer to people in that they are speaking of the redemption of the saints in the 3rd person. However, in "song mode," when the singers use the 3rd person, there is no denial of personal participation with the subject of the song. The use of the 3rd person personal pronoun is not foreign to a general proclamation of truth and praise to God for His work. This can be shown via the "Song of the Sea" which is recorded at Exodus 15:1-18.

Exodus 15:13, "You have led the people whom you have redeemed."

Exodus 15:17, "You will bring them and plant them in the mountain of your inheritance."

The big issue revolves around the significance of the number, 24.

It has been suggested, that since there were 24 orders or rotations to the Levitical priesthood, this number represents the Old Testament believers. If that be true, then the many believers of the church who were in heaven at the time of John's vision would not be represented.

The other suggestion for the number 24 is to correlate it with Revelation 21:12-14, and see a representation of both Old Testament and New Testament saints. There we find in the New Jerusalem (which remember, is PRESENTLY in heaven), 12 gates for the 12 tribes of Israel and 12 foundation stones for the 12 apostles of the Lamb. This indicates that the church and Old Testament believers are together in the new (heavenly) Jerusalem and if that city is representative of the bride's "home," then it is clear that they are both part of the bride.

Accordingly, both groups of saints are together in heaven and share equally not only the future resurrection at the rapture, but the subsequent evaluation of deeds at the judgment seat of God as well.

At first, this appears to conflict with dispensational theology but there is no conflict at all. Dispensations deal ONLY with function here on earth and have nothing to do with status or function in heaven.

Another point of concern is the fact that John sees in his vision both the 24 elders and the raptured church TOGETHER at Rev. 7:9-17; 14:2-3; 19:3-8.
But John is seeing  a VISION OF SYMBOLS. The vision shows him symbols of what is IN HEAVEN "right now" at the time of his vision, and that includes the "dead in Christ." The symbol of  "the dead in Christ" (both Old Testament and church age saints) is the group of 24 elders. Later, John is shown symbols to portray results of the future rapture. At the rapture Christ will bring the "dead in Christ" to the earth, and join them with "we who are alive." These will then be taken to heaven and are seen IN VISION FORMAT, standing on the sea of glass before the throne (Rev. 4:6; 7:9, 15; 15:2).
From the perspective of the VISION, there are now (1) the saints in heaven who are interacting with John as he watches the vision (the divine "movie" of future events), who are the 24 elders. And (2) the raptured saints who are IN the "movie." IN THE VISION, there is a symbol of the saints who are there NOW, and a symbol of the saints who will be raptured in the future. These are SYMBOLS. The symbols will not occur LITERALLY. The events and the people that the symbols portray will occur literally. In actuality, when the FUTURE event occurs, there will be only one group of saints BEFORE the Millennial kingdom of Christ begins. This group is portrayed as the bride, the wife of the Lamb at Rev. 19:7-8 and 21:9-27.

RESURRECTION

Let me say at the outset, that no one received a resurrection body before Christ and no one has received a resurrection body since Christ. No one will receive a resurrection body until Christ returns at the Day of the LORD. This includes both Enoch and Elijah as well as the believers who were "resuscitated" at Matthew 27:51-53.

1 Corinthians 15:20-23 makes it perfectly clear that after Christ, the firstfruits of resurrection, the next ones to be resurrected will be those who are Christ's at His coming.

There are only two resurrections of saints mentioned in the New Testament's development of end times events.

1. The resurrection at the rapture: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17

2. The resurrection of "martyrs" after the rapture at Revelation 20:4.

The resurrection program taught at 1 Corinthians 15:20-23, combines the above two resurrections into a general resurrection of the righteous as "those who are Christ's at His coming."

Jesus did the same thing at John 5:28-29 by teaching a "general" resurrection of the righteous and a general resurrection of the wicked.

At Daniel 12:2, the angel taught Daniel that there would be a general resurrection of the righteous and one for the wicked.

Daniel 12:13 speaks of a resurrection at the end of the age.

The resurrection at Revelation 20:4 is very restrictive. However, before these martyrs are resurrected, we see a group of "previously" resurrected saints sitting on thrones. This first group, then, refers to the raptured bride (church and Old Testament believers) who begin to administrate their promised "judgment" function as joint-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17; 1 Corinthians 6:2a, 3; Revelation 5:10)

"And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them,
and judgment was given to them."

It seems quite clear that there are two groups represented at verse 4.
The ones who are seen sitting on the thrones and the ones who were martyred by the beast and are resurrected after Armageddon.

And I {saw} the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years."

There is no way to make this involve anyone other than a group of saints who were martyred via the oppressive reign of the beast. It does not include "living" believers nor does it include any who died of natural causes throughout history. It should be clear then, that this does NOT refer to the resurrection that takes place at the rapture. It therefore must refer to those who were martyred after the rapture. And if there is no other resurrection mentioned, then the Old Testament saints must be included in the rapture.

The significance of the phrase, "this is the first resurrection," is that this brings to completion the first resurrection which embraces both the raptured bride of Christ (Old and New Testament believers), who are sitting on the thrones, and the Day of the Lord martyrs, who die for their faith after the rapture and prior to Armageddon.

The language at Daniel 12:13, "at the end of the age," need not refer to the exact end of the age of Israel, ie., the exact end of the 70th week. It can very easily refer to the general time period known as the end of the age, which would be the 70th week itself. Accordingly, the resurrection of Old Testament saints and their inclusion in the rapture "during" the 70th week, ie., at the Day of the Lord return of Jesus before the 70th week comes to an end, does not violate Daniel 12:13.

Nor does the resurrection of Old Testament saints with the saints of the church violate any "functional" distinctions between them in a dispensational context. In fact, Old Testament saints all looked forward to salvation and resurrection through the sin sacrifice of the Messiah.

And it is that sin sacrifice of Messiah Jesus which brought both into a covenant of peace with God (Ephesians 2:13-16). Furthermore, New Testament believers are made fellow citizens with the Old Testament saints and are joined with them into God's household (Ephesians 2:19).

"But now, In Christ Jesus, you who were far off, have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, Who made BOTH groups into ONE . . . that IN HIMSELF He might make the TWO into ONE NEW MAN, thus establishing peace. And might reconcile them BOTH in ONE BODY to God through the cross . . . for through Him we BOTH have our access in ONE Spirit to the Father. So then YOU are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with THE SAINTS (Old Testament believers) and are of God's household.

It is clear then, that Old Testament saints are placed into union with Christ through their heavenly association with Him based on their faith in Him as the promised Messiah Savior.

In addition, Hebrews 11:39-40 suggests that the "perfection" of relationship with God in heaven (Hebrews 12:23), is shared together by both Old and New Testament believers. They both live in the same heavenly city, the New Jerusalem (Hebrews 11:16; 12:22).

 

THE RAPTURE

The issue at this point is whether or not the "rapture" passages will support the inclusion of Old Testament saints. Each of these passages then, need to be evaluated separately from this perspective.

First, we have 1 Corinthians 15:51, "Behold, I tell you a mystery."

Some would say that this passage on resurrection at the rapture cannot include Old Testament saints because it is "mystery" doctrine. However, the "mystery" aspect of this is NOT resurrection, nor the time of the resurrection, but the fact that the resurrection will include "living" believers (those who have not died physically). That is the mystery of it.

This passage does indeed speak of a general resurrection with the language, "the dead will be raised, imperishable and we shall all be changed." verse 52. There is no language that excludes Old Testament saints but in fact, it agrees with the idea at Daniel 12:2 of a general resurrection of the righteous.

Earlier in chapter 15, we find at verses 22 and 23 -

"For in Adam, all die, so also in Christ* shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at His coming."

The terminology, "in Christ" and "those who are Christ's," does not exclude Old Testament believers based on what was established before. Old Testament saints have been joined with the church into one body according to Ephesians 2:13-19.
------------------
*The translation, "in Adam and in Christ" is not accurate. It should be, "by means of Adam and by means of Christ." The passage refers to the GENERAL resurrection of all mankind that will be accomplished BY MEANS of Christ as is taught at John 5:28-29. For details see The Theory of Imputed Sin.
------------------

Related to this is the language at 1 Thessalonians 4:14, "fallen asleep in Jesus" and verse 16, "the dead in Christ shall rise first."

Concerning verse 14, the Greek uses the preposition "dia" to indicate agency and association. The translation "in Jesus," for this preposition is not valid. It should read, "Those who have fallen asleep (died) THROUGH Jesus." The faith of Old Testament saints was directed toward the promised Messiah.

Hebrews 11:13,

"These all died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance."

Moses certainly understood the significance of association with the Messianic promise as well as the Messianic people (Israel) as reflected at Hebrews 11:26,

"having concluded that the reproach associated with Christ (the Messiah) was of greater value than the treasures of Egypt."

They looked forward to His sacrifice on behalf of them as well as on behalf of future generations. Isaiah 53:5-12

1 Peter 1:10-11 states,

"As to this salvation, the prophets, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, made careful search and inquiry, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow."

The point is, that these too died with their faith in Jesus the Messiah and as has been shown, were joined together into one body with those who actually witnessed the Messiah's arrival and the generations that followed.

Concerning V. 16, "the dead in Christ," once again the union of both Old Testament and New Testament saints into one body (Ephesians 2:13-19) places them both "in Christ."

INTERIM BODY

The subject of the saints in heaven would not be complete without a discussion on the possibility of what some have designated as an "interim body." The interim body theory suggests that in the after life, prior to resurrection, the soul is given some kind of physical body which provides for both physical sensations and physical expressions.

The theory originated to explain several passages where it appears that such sensations and expressions occur.

SAMUEL

At 1 Samuel 28:11-19, God allowed Samuel the prophet to come out of paradise in Hades in order to communicate God's message of divine discipline to King Saul. Saul did not see Samuel but he appeared to the witch who was allowed to see him.

Necromancy has never been acceptable to God and has always been condemned as demonology (Deuteronomy 18:10-12). This incident with Samuel was not necromancy. Necromancy is the practice of calling upon a yiddoniy demon to imitate the form and voice of a dead person in order to give special knowledge and advice for making future decisions.

Samuel is the only one to have ever come back from the dead in this manner. Our concern is whether the form he manifested was given by God just for this occasion or whether it was his interim body. One thing is certain. He appeared with the very physical features recognizable by the witch and identified by Saul (1 Samuel 28:14).

MOSES AND ELIJAH

There are two others who, after having died, were made visible to living men on the earth. They are Moses and Elijah and the incident occurred as recorded at Matthew 17:1-9. Again, based on the facts already stated, this appearance by these two men was not a resurrection body and probably not a resuscitation. Although it is possible to ascribe to these men the possession of an interim body, there is an alternate possibility.


COMFORT AND TORMENT

I have already established as fact, the incident recorded at Luke 16 regarding the after death experience of the rich man and Lazarus.

Here we find three men (Abraham, the rich man and Lazarus) existing with some kind of physical form which allows physical sensations such as "comfort" and "torment" as well as personal recognition via physical features. Clearly, the experience of at least 3 physical senses (sight, sound, touch) is demonstrated by this incident as well as some manner of communication.

SOULS UNDER THE ALTAR

Revelation 6:9-11 tells of the martyrs who are under the altar in heaven awaiting Divine timing for the administration of God's justice on the unbelieving world. They are not yet in resurrection body, for according to the pre-wrath view of the rapture, the Lord's gathering of his saints will not occur until the 6th seal which is related at Revelation 6:12-17.

And yet, we see these "souls" wearing white robes. This suggests some kind of physical form and agrees with what has been noticed before.

24 OLD MEN

Revelation 4:4-11 tells us about the 24 "old men" whom John sees in the heavenly scene before God's throne which is probably in the New Jerusalem which is located in heaven at this time (Hebrews 12:22).

I have previously discussed these "old men" and determined that they must be representative of the saints in heaven. Accordingly, once again, we see these saints prior to resurrection, with some kind of physical "body" or structure which allows for physical interaction and sensations. We see them seated, wearing robes and crowns, holding harps and bowls, bowing to the ground and speaking.

It seems reasonable therefore to view the theory of the interim body as having substance although the reality of it one way or the other does not affect any area of doctrine. It is simply a device to assist us in understanding the passages in question.

However, the language involved, although certainly suggestive of the possession of some kind of physical body for the soul after death, does not demand it.

The actual "substance" of the soul is totally unknown to any of us. The human soul has never been seen by anyone physically alive except the witch of Endor, since it seems that Saul was not allowed to see Samuel, and the three disciples who witnessed the presence of Moses and Elijah. We really have no idea what "substance" it possesses. Point being, that the "physical" characteristics observed by scripture of souls in the afterlife, might very well be the actual structure of the soul, and all the interaction, sensations and expressions are normal for that soul structure.

Furthermore, according to 2 Corinthians 5:3, our soul is in a condition of "naked" since it is not in the promised resurrection body. If there were an interim body, it seems likely that the term "naked" would not apply.

Having thus considered all of these issues, it is my conclusion that there is no interim body. At death, the soul leaves the physical body and remains in a "naked" condition until resurrection. In that "naked" condition, souls interrelate, experience physical sensations and manifest physical expressions, but this is all normal for the function of the soul in that spiritual environment.

To complete this discussion it is necessary to point out that, whereas, some attempt to use 2 Corinthians 5:1-5 as support for an interim body, it can be clearly demonstrated that this passage has the future resurrection of the saints in view and not an interim body.

 

THE JUDGMENT SEAT OF GOD

The next concern is the time and nature of the evaluation for the works of the saints. As has already been demonstrated, the Old Testament and New Testament saints have been positionally joined together into one spiritual body in union with Christ. The evaluation of these believers as to the nature of their works here on earth will accordingly, take place at the same time which is called the "reward" seat of Christ.

Statement of Fact: Each believer will take personal responsibility for his every decision made here on earth.

Romans 14:10-12

V. 10

1. We have no business putting ourselves up in authority over someone else's life.

2. For: gar - God's authority is the only judge and His policy is the only standard.

3. We shall all: every believer.

4. stand: paristāmi - future middle indicative

5. At the bāma of God: bāma is a place where justice is administered. Humanly speaking it is a tribunal or judicial bench as seen at

Matthew 27:19; John 19:13; Acts 12:21; 18:12, 16-17; 25:6, 10, 17.

Here it is called the justice seat of God, but Christ administrates the evaluation and justice (John 5:22-23) so at 2 Corinthians 5:10, it is called the bāma of Christ.

V. 11, Old Testament documentation to establish Divine authority in judgment. As it is written: graphō, perfect passive indicative.

This is a REFERENCE to Isaiah 45:23. It is not quoted word for word, but the doctrinal principle is represented accurately. (Not quoted from LXX either)

The context is the accountability that will be required of mankind after the Day of the Lord judgments and just before the earthly kingdom of the Messiah is established. It does not really deal with the last judgment of Revelation 20:11-15 as that takes place after the 1000 year reign of Messiah. However, the principle of every knee bowing and personal accountability applies equally to that last judgment.

The plea for adjustment to God's justice comes in verse 22

"Turn to me and be delivered, all the ends of the earth; for I am God and there is no other."

This refers to the gospel message which will be delivered during the Day of the Lord judgments which is mentioned at Revelation 14:6-7,

"And I saw another angel flying in mid-heaven, having an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and language and people; and he said with a loud voice, 'Fear God, and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters.'"

At verses 23-24, God declares the policy of personal accountability.

"I have sworn by Myself, The word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness and will not turn back, that to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will affirm."

The word, affirm, translates the Hebrew, shabha, which has two primary ideas.

1. To asseverate which means to make a positive affirmation or declaration (BDB, page 989).

2. To take an oath.

When this passage is referenced at Romans 14:11 and Philippians 2:10, the word that is used is, exomologeō, which means to confess or acknowledge.
It is a word of personal accountability and easily corresponds with the idea of asseveration. Romans 14:11,

1. Every knee shall bow: humility recognition of Divine sovereignty.

2. Every tongue give praise: exomologeō (future active indicative) means to confess agreement. In this case it is a confessing acknowledgment and acceptance of the Divine justice evaluation of the believer's life.

The LXX, which of course, is not inspired, does not use "exomologeo," but instead uses a Greek word that corresponds with the alternate meaning for "shabha," omnuō, which means to take an oath or swear.
But the context in Isaiah indicates asseveration and not making an oath.

The statement of positive affirmation is recorded at Isaiah 45:24,

"They will say of Me, 'Only in the LORD are righteousness and strength.'

This affirmation recognizes the absolute standard for acceptability of man's works before God, His righteousness and His strength. It is, of course, the exact opposite of Isaiah 64:6,

"all of our righteous works are like a garment of uncleanness."

This is not only what the living believers will acknowledge before they enter into the 1000 year reign of Jesus, but also what the resurrected believers will acknowledge at the reward seat of Christ. The purpose is to demonstrate God's righteousness and totally expose, reject and destroy man's "human" righteousness. That's why Paul uses this passage to illustrate the believer's personal accountability before God and the basis for approval and reward from God.

Paul explains what is meant by this accountability at Romans 14:12.

1. So then --- us: believers only

2. each one: individual and personal responsibility and accountability for my decisions.

3. Concerning himself: peri + heautos - further emphasis on personal responsibility concerning the issues of light and darkness - good and bad.

4. Shall give account: two words

a. Shall give = didomi, future active indicative, which indicates it will be at the future time of the judgment seat.

b. a word: logos = a word, or a statement. The statement is an affirmation that acknowledges God's righteousness as the only acceptable standard.

c. This is not giving an explanation for failures or successes.

d. It is a confession, accepting the verdict of Divine justice and giving glory to God. (The word, exomologeō at Romans 14:11).

This evaluation from justice results in loss or reward according to God's standards.

1. 2 Corinthians 5:10, good vs. useless (agathos vs. phaulos).

2. 1 Corinthians 3:10-15, perishable vs. non-perishable.

The rewards will be meted out in three categories (1 Peter 1:7)

"So that the examination of your faith, more valuable than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in PRAISE, GLORY and HONOR at the revelation of Jesus Christ."

1. PRAISE: refers to accolades from the Godhead such as, "Well done good and faithful servant."

2. GLORY: refers to one or more of the four crowns which the believer can earn by his faithfulness in living the Christian life.

A. The crown of life: a reward for faithfulness in times of persecution. James 1:12 and Revelation 2:10.

B. The crown of joy: a reward for evangelistic success. 1 Thessalonians 2:19 and Philippians 4:1.

C. The crown of righteousness: a reward for consistent obedience.
2 Timothy 4:8.

D. The crown of glory: a reward for success in one's spiritual gift.
1 Peter 5:4

3. HONOR: refers to the honor of having a "functional" reign with Christ during his 1000 year kingdom on the earth.

A. The Bible teaches that all believers will reign with Christ by virtue of the fact that they are in union with Him and therefore part of His body and bride (Revelation 5:10).

B. But there will also be "degrees" of function during this reign which are based on one's faithfulness while here on earth.
2 Timothy 2:12; Matthew 19:28-30; Revelation 2:26

But regardless of the degree of failure or success, the believer will be saved as a child of God and not lose his heavenly inheritance (1Corinthians 3:15).

The big question that remains is, when will this evaluation of the believer's works take place? The Bible tells us that it will be -

1. When the Lord comes: 1 Corinthians 4:5, erchomai, aorist active subjunctive.

2. When He appears: 1 Peter 5:1-4, phaneroō, aorist passive participle.

3. On that day: 2 Timothy 4:8, the "time" of His appearing.

4. At His presence: 1 Thessalonians 4:19, parousia

All of these terms refer to the arrival of Jesus at the Day of the Lord but do not require that the reward seat occur immediately at that time.

This can be demonstrated by looking at 2 Thessalonians 1:9-10,

"And these will pay the penalty of everlasting ruin away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, WHEN He comes to be glorified in His saints ON THAT DAY"

It is clear that the "everlasting ruin" is not administered until the Great White Throne judgment which takes place at the end of the 1000 year reign of Jesus and is the culmination of the Day of the Lord events. But the arrival of Jesus at the inception of those Day of the Lord events is the basis for the "everlasting ruin" and is therefore directly associated with His arrival.

In the same way, regarding the reward seat of Christ, the believers are given a resurrection body, but the evaluation of their works will not take place for several months. According to Revelation 11:18, that time is after the 7th trumpet sounds at the end of the 70th week. The evaluation will take place in heaven during the 30 day period of God's final wrath upon the earth, prior to Christ's victory at Armageddon.

A possible reason for this delay of the evaluation of the saints, is to wait for the two witnesses (Moses and Elijah) to rejoin the body in heaven after their 1260 day ministry on the earth, which ends just before the 7th trumpet sounds.

In the meantime the status and activity of this "body of Christ" in heaven is described at Revelation 7:15-17,

"For this reason, they are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne shall spread His tabernacle over them.
They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; neither shall the sun beat down on them, nor any heat; for the Lamb in the center of the throne shall be their shepherd, and shall guide them to springs of the water of life; and God shall wipe every tear from their eyes."

We learn from Revelation 19, that the marriage of the Lamb does not take place until AFTER the 7th bowl judgment.

Immediately after this judgment upon Babylon, the believers who are in heaven at that time (in the future), that is, the body of Christ, will express their joy and excitement at the event (Revelation 19:1-3).

After these things I heard, as it were, a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, "Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God; BECAUSE HIS JUDGMENTS ARE TRUE AND RIGHTEOUS; for He has judged the great harlot who was corrupting the earth with her immorality, and HE has AVENGED THE BLOOD OF HIS BOND-SERVANTS ON HER." And a second time they said, "Hallelujah! HER SMOKE RISES UP FOREVER AND EVER."

As the 4 living creatures and the 24 old men are observing this on the "vision screen," they too express their praise and excitement toward God (Revelation 19:4).

And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sits on the throne saying, "Amen. Hallelujah!"

The vision continues at verse 5 with an exhortation (probably from an angel) for all the believers in heaven to give praise to God.

Revelation 19:5,

And a voice came from the throne, saying, "Give praise to our God, all you His bond-servants, you who fear Him, the small and the great."

These are the same ones who were mentioned back at Revelation 11:18 who are waiting to receive their reward.

". . .and the time {came} for the dead to be judged, and {the time} to give their reward to Thy bond-servants the prophets and to the saints and to those who fear Thy name, the small and the great,..."

Verses 6-11 returns to the vision "screen" as we are told that the marriage of the Lamb has arrived. The use of the word, "arrived" indicates that it has not as yet taken place, but is now ready to be completed. Accordingly, "His bride has made herself ready" through the evaluation that takes place at the justice seat of Christ.

The "betrothal" period began for each individual believer at the moment of his salvation through personal trust in Jesus as the Messiah (2Corinthians 11:2).

During the time of the believer's stay here on earth, he is to cultivate God's righteousness in His life through growth and the filling of the Holy Spirit. It is fulfillment of this purpose which produces good works which are acceptable to God (Romans 14:17-18) and which will be rewarded at the Justice Seat of Christ (1 Corinthians 3:10-15). The positive result of the evaluation of all believers at this time will collectively constitute the wedding garment of the bride as "fine linen, bright and clean" which is "the righteous deeds of the saints," (Revelation 19:8).

Individually, of course, each believer will be personally rewarded according to the quality of his works as a Christian, whether they be good (agathos) or useless (phaulos), (2 Corinthians 5:10) as we saw earlier.

It is for this reason that Paul writes at 2 Corinthians 11:2,

"that I might present you a pure virgin," and mentions his concern about their unfaithfulness at verse three.

According to Revelation 19:9, there will be a marriage supper of the Lamb, which would obviously take place AFTER the wedding itself.

Now whether the marriage and/or supper take place before Revelation 19:11, is not clearly stated, but the implication is that Christ will first "destroy those who destroy the earth" at the battle of Armageddon and then participate in both the marriage and the supper at the beginning of His 1000 year earthly reign. There is no clear evidence that the marriage takes place in heaven and the supper, upon the earth. I suggest that both take place AFTER Christ's victory at Armageddon and at the beginning of the kingdom. In fact, it is most reasonable that the marriage "supper" is actually the privilege of living in the kingdom and those who are invited to the supper will be those who are left alive after Armageddon (Zechariah 14:16-21) and who survive the evaluation of the nations of Matthew 25:31-46 as believers in Christ. These will go alive into the kingdom in mortal human bodies to experience the administration of divine righteousness while Satan is bound for 1000 years.

After the 1000 year earthly reign of Jesus, Satan and the demons will be cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:7-10) and the Great White Throne judgment will take place which assigns all unbelievers to the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11-15).

There is no mention of resurrection for the Millennial saints but it is reasonable to think that they too shall spend eternity in resurrection body in order to enjoy the quality of life which is described at Revelation 21:1-7 (NASB),

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer {any} sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He shall dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be among them, and He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be {any} death; there shall no longer be {any} mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away." And He who sits on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." And He said, "Write, for these words are faithful and true." And He said to me, "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. He who overcomes shall inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.


Questions and comments are always welcome

Return to PROPHECY PERSPECTIVE page

Return to FOUNDATIONS page

Return to BIBLE FRAGRANCES Index

 
     

 

 

İRon Wallace, http://www.biblefragrances.com. Anyone is free to reproduce this material and distribute it,
but it may not be sold under any circumstances whatsoever without the author's consent.

 

Home | Recent Additions | Studies | Commentary

 

Prophecy | Articles | Topical | About Us