Reminded of Derek Binghams introduction to Daniel when he observed that God does not give prophesy simply to satisfy our intellectual curiosity about the future, but with prophetic revelation God has moral and spiritual goals in mind.
1 John 3:1ff : ‘and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And every man that hath this hope in Him purifiers himself even as he is pure’
2 Peter 3:11 – Edward Blum, ‘Peter makes the impending disintegration of the universe the ground for a personal challenge to his readers.’
Christ is coming back
Gods wrath is about to be poured out on a Christ rejecting world
The heaven and earth will be dissolved
A new heaven and earth are to be ushered in
So what does all of this mean?
Be careful what you are watching on the Tele
Be wary of what you are browsing on the Internet
This truth seems to come to the fore here in 1 Corinthians chapter 4, in a negative sense, namely a wrong understanding of future events results in wrong behaviour.
The Corinthians appear to be suffering from a wrong view of the kingdom.
1. Problem of the Kingdom (4:6)
2. Proof of the Kingdom (4:7-14)
3. Power of the Kingdom (4:15-21)
1. Problem of the Kingdom
Problems seem to have arisen due to a wrong appreciation of the Kingdom of God.
That now is the time to reign and rule; ‘now ye are full, now ye are rich’ (4:8)
How did this problem arise?
We will discover in chapter 15 that they also have a wrong view of the Resurrection, that there are some among them who deny the resurrection.
It may well be that these 2 issues are not disconnected.
The OT spoke very clearly of a coming Kingdom when Messiah will reign physically and visibly upon the earth with His administrative centre at Jerusalem
Psalm 2:1ff, 6
With Christ we have Messiah, God’s anointed one; We recall from our studies in Hebrews for example that Christ is; ‘King of Righteousness’ and ‘King of Peace’ (Heb 7:1-2, 15-23).
So if we have the King, do we not then have the Kingdom.
Again in Hebrews chp 1:8
Rev 19:16 “King of Kings and Lord of Lords”
The Lord and the apostles certainly speak of the spiritual or mystery aspect to the presence of His Kingdom on earth; that is that:
all who are saved enter into this Kingdom (John 3:5)
The Kingdom of God is ‘within you’ (Luke 17:21)
“The Kingdom of God is not meat and drink but righteousness, and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Rom 14:17)
So all who bow to the rule of Christ in their lives are part of His spiritual Kingdom.
This is however a most unsatisfactory fulfilment of those literal OT prophecies and hardly does justice to Christs titles of “King of Kings” and “Lord of Lords” ; that His Kingdom reigns over a world which is on the most part in a state of outward rebellion.
So there will be a future, literal outward Kingdom which will fulfil those OT prophecies and NT expectations.
When will that be?
Does the present age of Church testimony and world rebellion just merge imperceptibly with the future Kingdom or is there a specific event or set of events which divide this present time from the future Kingdom?
If you were to ask me for those specific events which trigger the beginning of that transition I would identify 3 concurrent events:
1 – The return of Christ
2 – The Resurrection of the dead in Christ
3 – The removal, by rapture of the believers form the world.
It is these 3 events which pave the way for the pouring out of Gods wrath on a world which rejects His Son, His Spirit and His Gospel.
These 3 events separate this present time from the future day of tribulation and wrath which paves the way for the binding of Satan for 1000 years and the establishment of Gods Kingdom under Christ.
What is interesting is that when you come to 1 Corinthians we find that there is a group of believers who deny this resurrection (1 Co15:12ff).
More than this in 1 Co 15:23ff Paul makes the connection between:
1 – The Resurrection of believers (15:18-23)
2 – The Return of Christ (15:23)
3 – The Rule of the Kingdom (15:24ff)
These believers then in denying the physical bodily resurrection of believers not only undermine the fundamentals of the Gospel (1Co15:17ff) but it also fundamentally alters their view of the Kingdom; for them there is no transition the present merges imperceptibly into the future.
This all may sound a bit complicated, a bit tenuous, but in fact it has been a not infrequent teaching over the years; so much so, it even has a name: ‘post millenialism’.
Satisfaction : “full” : ‘korenmoi’ : to have enough (4:8)
Prosperity: “rich” : ‘plouteo’ : to be rich (4:8)
Authority: “reign as kings” : ‘basileuo’ : to reign, rule, be king (4:8)
They were as a consequence accustomed to:
Fighting for their rights (6:1ff)
Self confidence in their new found knowledge (8:1ff)
Standing on a few toes / breaking a few eggs to get what they wanted (8:11ff)
Playing a prominent part in Corinthian society (8:10; 10:19-21)
Awareness of place, position and status (1 Co 11:21ff)
Using their gifts and abilities to claim position and place (1 Co12:15-18)
Used to being heard and making their views known (14:26-32)
They were reigning as Kings in their own Kingdom!
This was a gospel for winners!
This was a gospel with prosperity!
But this was not the Kingdom of God (4:20)
So long as I am doing alright
So long as my fellowship is doing alright then all is ok!
Proof of the Kingdom
But here is a different view of being a king (4:9ff) – A King in Gods Kingdom.
compare Matthew chp 5 and 1 Corinthians chapter 4: