The meaning of Eternal Life

13 Aug

The meaning of eternal life

John 6:40

For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

When we think about eternal life we often think of it in terms of a length of time, meaning forever, never ending etc. However I want to look at life from another perspective and to do so we will look at another scripture in John as follows:

John 10:10

10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

The word eternal is not solely a description of how long a period of time is but more appropriately refers to “a quality of life”.

Martin Scott describes this further in his eschatology notes as follows:

“The adjective ‘eternal’ is the Greek word aionios which means ‘of the age’. Eternal life thus means life related not to this age but of the age to come. We have this life now – we do not simply have normal life but life of the coming age. We enjoy now what is a foretaste of what we will experience then in fullness. Eternal life is not then something that simply begins when we die.”

(http://3generations.eu/blog/eschatology-notes-2/eschatology-notes/3)

We can conclude therefore that God is pro-life in the here and NOW on earth, he is focused on bringing his life to earth as it is in heaven through his redeemed people. We have in part an affirmation of life now which will eventually result in an ultimate fulfilment of the fullness of life here on earth at his “parousia” (Christ’s return).

As described in John 10:10, the kingdom of darkness is attempting to steal life (quality) away from God’s people, but Christ has founded a Kingdom with himself at the centre channelling life in its fullness to his people.

1 Corinthians 15:20-25

20 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. 21 For sinceby a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in [a]Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after thatthose who are Christ’s at His coming, 24 then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to theGod and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet.

This scripture suggests that the Kingdom in one shape or form is alive and active and will be subjected to God by His son at the consummation of the age.

Greek / Hebrew world views

Our society is largely affected by a Greek worldview or mind-set that can often have negative consequences when understanding God’s word.

A Greek mind-set is one of looking to escape the world i.e. the world being corrupt and evil can only be escaped, we cannot enjoy Gods kingdom until the second coming of Christ. Often we think of eternal life in terms of an experience after physical death where we are transported to heaven in which we stay forever (length of time).

Life – Death – Heaven/forever

However a Hebrew mindset is one of living the fullness of life here on earth now. Throughout the whole of the bible the direction is not from earth to heaven but heaven to earth. Jewish thinking is that of Gods kingdom coming to earth. Those who have died who are righteous will be raised at the end of the age and are currently in a waiting place in heaven.

Life – Death –end of the age/ Coming of the messiah – resurrection of the dead

These two worldviews can have a large influence on our view of God’s kingdom and his plan for the transformation of the earth. We are not seeking to escape the earth but we are to live in the fullness of life God has provided through his Kingdom that is in our midst now which will eventually reach its full establishment forever when Christ returns to rule over all.

So to summarise:

1/ eternal life has more meaning that that of a period of time. It is a quality of life.

2/ this must affect the way we act on earth in regards to God’s transforming Kingdom in the here and now. God is for the transforming of our world through us whilst looking forward to a completing/fulfilling of this work at his “parousia” (return).

2/ Greek and Hebrew worldviews influence the way we view Gods transforming kingdom and life here on earth in this present time/age. God wants this evil age to be influenced by His transforming Kingdom until Christ’s return when the fullness of the Kingdom is established. We are not looking to escape, but live life to the full (John 10:10).

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