HEAVEN AND THE AFTERLIFE - WHAT BELIEVERS MAY EXPERIENCE

I) HEAVEN IS REPEATEDLY DESCRIBED AS GOD'S DWELLING PLACE TO WHICH OTHER PASSAGES DECLARE BELIEVERS MAY GO IN THE AFTERLIFE

A) [Dt 26:15 NASB]:

15  'Look down from Your holy habitation, from heaven, and bless Your people Israel, and the ground which You have given us, a land flowing with milk and honey, as You swore to our fathers.'

B) [1Ki 8:30, 39, 41-43, 49 NASB]:

30  "Listen to the supplication of Your servant and of Your people Israel, when they pray toward this place; hear in heaven Your dwelling place; hear and forgive.

39  then hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and forgive and act and render to each according to all his ways, whose heart You know, for You alone know the hearts of all the sons of men,

41  Also concerning the foreigner who is not of Your people Israel, when he comes from a far country for Your name's sake

42  (for they will hear of Your great name and Your mighty hand, and of Your outstretched arm); when he comes and prays toward this house,

43  hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to You, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know Your name, to fear You, as do Your people Israel, and that they may know that this house which I have built is called by Your name.

49  then hear their prayer and their supplication in heaven Your dwelling place, and maintain their cause,"

C) [1 Chronicles 21:26 (NASB)]:

26 "Then David built an altar to the LORD there and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. And he called to the LORD and He answered him with fire from heaven on the altar of burnt offering."

D) [2 Chronicles 2:6 (NASB)]:

6  "But who is able to build a house for Him, for the heavens and the highest heavens cannot contain Him? So who am I, that I should build a house for Him, except to burn incense before Him?"

E) [2 Chronicles 6:18 (NASB)]:

18  "But will God indeed dwell with mankind on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain You; how much less this house which I have built."

F) [2 Chronicles 6:21 (NASB)]:  

21 "Listen to the supplications of Your servant and of Your people Israel when they pray toward this place; hear from Your dwelling place, from heaven; hear and forgive.

G) [2 Chronicles 6:26-27 (NASB)]:

26  "When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because they have sinned against You, and they pray toward this place and confess Your name, and turn from their sin when You afflict them;

27  then hear in heaven and forgive the sin of Your servants and Your people Israel, indeed, teach them the good way in which they should walk. And send rain on Your land which You have given to Your people for an inheritance."

H) [2 Chronicles 6:30 (NASB)]:

30  "then hear from heaven Your dwelling place, and forgive, and render to each according to all his ways, whose heart You know for You alone know the hearts of the sons of men,

I) [2 Chronicles 6:33 (NASB)]:

33  "then hear from heaven, from Your dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to You, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know Your name, and fear You as do Your people Israel, and that they may know that this house which I have built is called by Your name."

J) [2 Chronicles 6:39 (NASB)]:

39  "then hear from heaven, from Your dwelling place, their prayer and supplications, and maintain their cause and forgive Your people who have sinned against You."

K) [2 Chronicles 30:27 (NASB)]:

27 "Then the Levitical priests arose and blessed the people; and their voice was heard and their prayer came to His holy dwelling place, to heaven.'

L) [Nehemiah 9:27 (NASB)]:

27  "Therefore You delivered them into the hand of their oppressors who oppressed them, But when they cried to You in the time of their distress, You heard from heaven, and according to Your great compassion You gave them deliverers who delivered them from the hand of their oppressors."

M) [Job 22:12-14 (NASB)]:

12  "Is not God in the height of heaven? Look also at the distant stars, how high they are!

13  "You say, 'What does God know? Can He judge through the thick darkness? 

14  'Clouds are a hiding place for Him, so that He cannot see; And He walks on the vault of heaven.' "

N) [Psalm 2:4 (NASB)]:

4  "He who sits in the heavens laughs, The Lord scoffs at them."

O) [Psalm 11:4 (NASB)]:

4 "The LORD is in His holy temple; the LORD'S throne is in heaven; His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men."

P) [Psalm 20:6 (NASB)]:

6  "Now I know that the LORD saves His anointed; He will answer him from His holy heaven With the saving strength of His right hand."

Q) [Psalm 33:13 (NASB)]:

13 "The LORD looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men;"

R) [Psalm 102:19 (NASB)]:

19 "For He looked down from His holy height; From heaven the LORD gazed upon the earth."

S) [Psalm 103:19 (NASB)]:

19 "The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, And His sovereignty rules over all."

T) [Ecclesiastes 5:2 (NASB)]:

2 "Do not be hasty in word or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God. For God is in heaven and you are on the earth; therefore let your words be few."

U) [Isaiah 57:15 (NASB)]:

15 "For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever, whose name is Holy, "I dwell on a high and holy place, And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit In order to revive the spirit of the lowly And to revive the heart of the contrite."

V) [Isaiah 63:15 (NASB)]:

15 "Look down from heaven and see from Your holy and glorious habitation; Where are Your zeal and Your mighty deeds? The stirrings of Your heart and Your compassion are restrained toward me."

W) [Isaiah 66:1 (NASB)]:

1  '''Thus says the LORD, "Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest?" '''

X) [Jeremiah 23:24 (NASB)]:

24  ''' "Can a man hide himself in hiding places So I do not see him?" declares the LORD. "Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?" declares the LORD.'''

Y) Lamentations 3:41 (NKJV)]:

41 "Let us lift our hearts and hands To God in heaven."

Z) [Lamentations 3:50 (NKJV)]:

50  Till the LORD from heaven Looks down and sees.

AA) [Daniel 5:23 (NKJV)]:

23 "And you have lifted yourself up against the Lord of heaven. They have brought the vessels of His house before you, and you and your lords, your wives and your concubines, have drunk wine from them. And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, wood and stone, which do not see or hear or know; and the God who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways, you have not glorified."

BB) [Matthew 5:34 (NKJV)]:

34 "But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God's throne;"

CC) [Matthew 10:32-33 (NKJV)]:

32  "Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven.

33  But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father Who is in heaven."

DD) [Matthew 16:17 (NKJV)]:

17 "Jesus answered and said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father Who is in heaven."

EE) [Matthew 18:10 (NKJV)]:

10  "Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father Who is in heaven.

FF) [Matthew 18:14 (NKJV)]:

14 "Even so it is not the will of your Father Who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish."

GG) [Mark 16:19 (NKJV)]:

19 "So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God."

HH) [Acts 7:49-50 (NASB)]:

49  " 'Heaven is My throne, and earth is the footstool of my feet; what kind of house will you build for me?' says the Lord, 'Or what place is there for my repose?'

50  'Was it not my hand which made these things?' " (cf Isa 66:1)

II) [Hebrews 8:1 (NASB)]:

1 "Now the main point in what has been said is this: we have such a high priest, who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens,"

JJ) [Revelation 8:1-5 (NASB)]:

1 "When the Lamb broke the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.

2  And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them.

3  Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a golden censer; and much incense was given to him, so that he might add it to the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar which was before the throne.

4  And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up before God out of the angel's hand.

5  Then the angel took the censer and filled it with the fire of the altar, and threw it to the earth; and there followed peals of thunder and sounds and flashes of lightning and an earthquake."

KK) [Revelation 12:7-12 (NASB)]:

7 '''And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war,

8 and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven.

9 And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.

10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, "Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night.

11 And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.

12 For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them. Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time." '''

LL) [Revelation 21:1-5; 10-27 (NASB)]:

1 "Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb,

2  in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

3  There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him;

4  they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads.

5  And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever." 

1) [(Rev 21:1-5) Expositor's Bible Commentary On Rev 21:1-5]:

(Rev 21:1 NASB) "Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb,"
 
"1 The new heavens and earth were foreseen by Isaiah (65:17) as a part of his vision of the renewed Jerusalem. It is remarkable that John's picture of the final age to come focuses not on a platonic ideal heaven or distant paradise but on the reality of a new earth and heaven. God originally created the earth and heaven to be man's permanent home. But sin and death entered the world and transformed the earth into a place of rebellion and alienation; it became enemy-occupied territory. But God has been working in salvation history to effect a total reversal of this evil consequence and to liberate earth and heaven from bondage to sin and corruption (Rom 8:21). The first heaven and earth refers to the whole order of life in the world—an order tainted by sin, death, suffering, and idolatry (cf. v. 4: "the old order of things death, mourning, crying, pain—has passed away"). John's emphasis on heaven and earth is not primarily cosmological but moral and spiritual. So Peter also speaks of the new heaven and earth, "the home of righteousness" (2 Peter 3:13).

The Greek word for "new" (kaine) means new in quality, fresh, rather than recent or new in time (neos) (TDNT, 3:447). That it is a kaine heaven and earth and not a second heaven and earth suggests something of an endless succession of new heavens and earth. It is the newness of the endless eschatological ages (2:17; 3:12; 5:9; cf. Eph 2:7). What makes the new heaven and earth "new" is above all else the reality that now "the dwelling of God is with men,... They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God" (v. 3). The heaven and earth are new because of the presence of a new community of people who are loyal to God and the Lamb in contrast to the former earth in which a community of idolaters lived.

The sea - the source of the satanic beast (13:1) and the place of the dead (20:13)—will be gone. Again, the emphasis is not geographic but moral and spiritual. The sea serves as an archetype with connotations of evil (cf. comments at 13:1). Therefore, no trace of evil in any form will be present in the new creation.

(Rev 21:2 NASB) "in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

(Rev 21:3 NASB) There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him;

(Rev 21:4 NASB) they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads."

"2-4 The Holy City, the New Jerusalem, occupies John's vision for the remainder of the book. How different is this concept of heaven from that of Hinduism, for example? Here heaven is depicted as a city, with life, activity, interest, and people, as opposed to the Hindu ideal of heaven as a sea into which human life returns like a raindrop to the ocean. First, John sees the city "coming down out of heaven from God"-a phrase he uses three times (3:12; 21:2, 10) in an apparent spatial reference. But the city never seems to come down; it is always seen as a "descending—from-heaven kind of city" (Caird, p. 257). Therefore, the expression stresses the idea that the city is a gift of God, forever bearing the marks of his creation.

Second, John calls the city a "bride" (nymphe) (cf. 21:9; 22:17). Earlier he referred to the bride of the Lamb (19:7-8) by a different word (gyne), though the reality is the same. The multiple imagery is needed to portray the tremendous reality of the city. A bride-city captures something of God's personal relationship to his people (the bride) as well as something of their life in communion with him and one another (a city, with its social connotations). The purity and devotedness of the bride are reflected in her attire.

The subtitle of the Holy City, "the new Jerusalem," raises a question. The "old" Jerusalem was also called the "holy city" and a "bride" (Isa 52:1; 61:10). Since the Jerusalem from above is the "new" (kaine) Jerusalem, we may suppose that it is connected in some manner with the old one so that the new is the old one renewed. The old Jerusalem was marred by sin and disobedience. In it was the blood of prophets and apostles. Still worse, it became a manifestation of Babylon the Great when it crucified the Lord of glory (11:8). The old city always involved more than the mere inhabitants and their daily lives. Jerusalem represented the covenant community of God's people, the hope for the kingdom of God on earth. Thus the OT looked forward to a renewed Jerusalem, rebuilt and transformed into a glorious habitation of God and his people. But the prophets also saw something else. They saw a new heaven and new earth and a Jerusalem connected with this reality. Thus it is not altogether clear precisely what the relationship is between the old and the new, the earthly, restored Jerusalem of the prophets and the Jerusalem associated with the new heaven and earth, the Jerusalem called a heavenly Jerusalem in later Jewish thought (cf. Gal 4:25-31; Heb 11:10; 12:22; 13:14; Rissi, The Future of the World, p. 50).

a) [Biblestudymanuals.net note]:


"The old covenant = the Mosaic Law, the new covenant exclusively with Israel is the fulfillment as stipulated in Jer 31:31-34 & elsewhere:  biblestudymanuals.net/new_covenant.htm which begins with the Millennial Kingdom of God and then into the New Heavens and the New Earth
.]:"

1 cont) [(Rev 21:1-5) Expositor's Bible Commentary On Rev 21:1-5 cont]:

(Rev 21:2 NASB) "in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

(Rev 21:3 NASB) There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him;

(Rev 21:4 NASB) they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads."

2-4 cont. "The key to the puzzle must be understood with due respect for the old city. Any exegesis, therefore, that completely rejects any connection with the old city cannot take seriously the name "new" (kaine) Jerusalem, which presupposes the old. To speak of the heavenly Jerusalem does not deny an earthly city, as some suggest, but stresses its superiority to the older Jewish hope and affirms the eschatological nature of that hope (TDNT, 5:540-41) - a hope that could not be fulfilled by the earthly Jerusalem, a hope John now sees realized in the Holy City of the future. This city is the church in its future glorified existence. It is the final realization of the kingdom of God.

God's dwelling (skene) among his people (v. 3) is a fulfillment of Leviticus 26:11-13, a promise given to the old Jerusalem but forfeited because of apostasy. As a backdrop for the scene, consider Genesis 3, when man lost his fellowship with God (cf. Exod 25:8; Ezek 37:26-27). Thus the Holy Jerusalem is not only mankind's eternal home but the city where God will place his own name forever. God's presence will blot out the things of the former creation. In a touching metaphor of motherly love, John says that God "will wipe away every tear from their eyes" (cf. 7:17; cf. Isa 25:8). These tears have come from sin's distortion of God's purposes for man. They are produced by death or mourning for the dead, by crying or pain. An enemy has done this to the old order. Now God has defeated the enemy and liberated his people and his creation.

(Rev 21:5 NASB) "And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever."

"5 Now, for the second time in the book, God himself is the speaker (cf. 1:8). From his throne comes the assurance that the one who created the first heaven and earth will indeed make all things new (panta kaina). This is a strong confirmation that God's power will be revealed and his redemptive purposes fulfilled. Since these words are in truth God's words (cf. 19:9; 22:6), it is of utmost importance that this vision of the new heaven and the New Jerusalem be proclaimed to the churches."

2) [(Rev 21:1-5) Commentary By Bible Knowledge Commentary On Rev 21:1-5]:


(Rev 21:1 NASB) "Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb,"

"21:1. The opening verses of chapter 21 describe the creation of the new heaven and the new earth, which chronologically follows the thousand-year reign of Christ described in chapter 20. Chapter 21 begins with the familiar words I saw, an expression repeated in verse 2 (cf. v. 22, "I did not see"). This new creation is described as a new heaven and a new earth. That it is a totally new heaven and a new earth, and not the present heaven and earth renovated, is supported by the additional statement, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away (also see comments on 20:11). An amazingly small amount of information is given about the new heaven and the new earth. But one major fact is stated in this verse: there was no longer any sea.

In contrast with the present earth, which has most of its surface covered by water, no large body of water will be on the new earth. The Bible is silent, however, on any features of the first heaven except the statement in 21:23 that there will be no sun or moon and, by implication, no stars. The new heaven refers not to the abode of God, but to the earth's atmosphere and planetary space.

No landmarks whatever are given concerning the new earth, and nothing is known of its characteristics, vegetation, color, or form. The implication, however, is that it is round and is the residence of all who are saved. A few other references are found in Scripture in relation to the new earth, including Isaiah 65:17; 66:22; and 2 Peter 3:10-13.

Because in some of these passages the Millennium is also discussed, expositors have often confused the eternal state with the Millennium. However, the principle is well established in Scripture that distant events are often telescoped together. Examples of this are Isaiah 61:1-2 (cf. Luke 4:17-19), which speaks of the first and second comings of Christ together, and Daniel 12:2, which mentions the resurrection of the righteous and of the wicked together even though, according to Revelation 20:5, they will be separated by a thousand years. Sometimes even the chronological order is reversed, as in Isaiah 65:17-25 (vv. 17-19 refer to the new heaven and new earth whereas vv. 20-25 clearly refer to the Millennium). End-time events are all also brought in close proximity in 2 Peter 3:10-13, where the beginning and the end of the day of the Lord are mentioned in the same passage.

Though expositors have differed on this point, the principle that clear passages should be used to explain obscure passages supports the conclusion that the second coming of Christ is followed by a thousand-year reign on earth, and this in turn is followed by a new heaven and new earth, the dwelling place of the saints for eternity. With the absence of any geographic identification and the absence of a sea, the new earth will obviously be entirely different. By contrast, the sea is mentioned many times in relation to the Millennium (e.g., Ps. 72:8; Isa. 11:9, 11; Ezek. 47:8-20; 48:28; Zech. 9:10; 14:8). The evidence is conclusive that the new heaven and new earth are not to be confused with the Millennium."


(Rev 21:2 NASB) "in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

"21:2. John's attention was then directed to a specific feature of the new heaven and new earth, namely, the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. The New Jerusalem is called "the Holy City," in contrast with the earthly Jerusalem (which spiritually was compared to Sodom in 11:8). As early as 3:12 the New Jerusalem was described as "the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from My God." The fact that the New Jerusalem comes down from heaven and that it is not said to be created at this point has raised the question as to whether it has been in existence during the Millennium (see further discussion on this under 21:9).
Many expositors regard the promise of Christ in John 14:2, "I am going there to prepare a place for you," as referring to this city. The suggestion has been made that if the New Jerusalem is in existence during the millennial reign of Christ, it may have been suspended in the heavens as a dwelling place for resurrected and translated saints, who nevertheless would have immediate access to the earth to carry on their functions of ruling with Christ. J. Dwight Pentecost, for instance, quotes F.C. Jennings, William Kelly, and Walter Scott as supporting this concept of the New Jerusalem as a satellite city during the Millennium (Things to Come. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1958, pp. 577-79). In the Millennium the New Jerusalem clearly does not rest on the earth, for there is an earthly Jerusalem and an earthly temple (Ezek. 40-48).
The New Jerusalem then will apparently be withdrawn from its proximity to the earth when the earth will be destroyed at the end of the Millennium, and then will come back after the new earth is created. Though this possibility of a satellite city has been disregarded by most commentators and must be considered as an inference rather than a direct revelation of the Bible, it does solve some problems of the relationship between the resurrected and translated saints to those still in their natural bodies in the Millennium, problems which otherwise are left without explanation.

Here, however, the New Jerusalem is described as it will be in the eternal state, and it is said to be "a bride beautifully dressed for her husband." Because the church is pictured in Scripture as a bride (2 Cor. 11:2), some have tried to identify the New Jerusalem's inhabitants as specifically the church saints, excluding saints of other dispensations. However, the use of marriage as an illustration is common in Scripture, not only to relate Christ to the church but also Yahweh to Israel. Though the city is compared to a beautifully dressed bride, it actually is a city, not a person or group of people."

(Rev 21:3 NASB) "There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him;

(Rev 21:4 NASB) they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads."

"21:3-4. Following this initial revelation of the New Jerusalem John wrote, I heard a loud voice from the throne. This is the last of 20 times that the expression "a loud voice" is used in Revelation (first used in 5:2).

The final revelation from heaven states that God will then dwell with men, that the saints will be His people and He will be their God. In eternity saints will enjoy a new intimacy with God which is impossible in a world where sin and death are still present. The new order will be without sorrow. God will wipe every tear from their eyes, and death with its mourning, and pain with its crying will vanish, for the old order of things will have passed away.

Some have wondered if grief and sorrow will exist for a while in heaven and then be done away with here at the establishing of the new order. It is better to understand this passage as saying that heaven will have none of the features that so characterize the present earth.

(Rev 21:5 NASB) "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."

(Rev 21:6 NASB)
Then 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."

"21:5-6. The dramatic change to the new order is expressed in the words, I am making everything new! This revelation is trustworthy and true, and John was instructed to write down that fact. The One bringing about the change is Christ, who calls Himself the Alpha and the Omega (cf. 1:8; 22:13), the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, interpreted by the phrase the Beginning and the End.

Those who are thirsty are promised that they will be able to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. Apparently this refers not to physical thirst but to a desire for spiritual blessings."

LL cont) [Revelation 21:1-5; 10-27 (NASB) cont]:

10 "And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God,

11  having the glory of God. Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper.

12  It had a great and high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names were written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel.

13  There were three gates on the east and three gates on the north and three gates on the south and three gates on the west.

14  And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

15  The one who spoke with me had a gold measuring rod to measure the city, and its gates and its wall.

16  The city is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as the width; and he measured the city with the rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal.

17  And he measured its wall, seventy-two yards, according to human measurements, which are also angelic measurements.

18  The material of the wall was jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. 

19  The foundation stones of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation stone was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald;

20  the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst.

21  And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was a single pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.

22  I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 

23  And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.

24  The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it.

25  In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed; 

26  and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it;

27  and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life."

3) [(Rev 21:10-27) Expositor's Bible Commentary On Rev 21:10-27]:

(Rev 21:10 NASB) "And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God,"

"10 As his vision will be a reinterpretation of Ezekiel's temple prophecy (Ezek 40-48), like the former prophet, he is taken to a high mountain (Ezek 40:2). For the moment, the author drops the bridal metaphor and in magnificent imagery describes the church in glory as a city with a lofty wall, splendid gates, and jeweled foundations. There is no warrant for thinking of the city descending like a space platform to the mountain or hovering over the earth as some suggest (see comments on v.2)."

(Rev 21:11 NASB) "having the glory of God. Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper.

(Rev 21:12 NASB) It had a great and high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names were written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel.

(Rev 21:13 NASB) There were three gates on the east and three gates on the north and three gates on the south and three gates on the west.

(Rev 21:14NASB) And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb."

"11-14 In John's description of the city, precious stones, brilliant colors, and the effulgence of light abound. The problem of the literalness of the city has received much attention. If the city is the bride and the bride the glorified community of God's people in their eternal life, there is little question that John's descriptions are primarily symbolic of that glorified life. This in no way diminishes the reality behind the imagery. In the most suitable language available to John, much of it drawn from the OT, he shows us something of the reality of the eschatological kingdom of God in its glorified existence.

Its appearance is all glorious, "with the glory of God" (v. 11; cf. Ezek 43:4). The city has a "brilliance" (phoster, "light-bearer") given it by God's presence that appears as crystal-clear jasper (Isa 60:1-2, 19; Rev 21:23). Jasper (iaspis) is mentioned three times in chapter 21 (vv. 11, 18-19); earlier in Revelation it refers to the appearance of God (4:3). Jasper is an opaque quartz mineral and occurs in various colors, commonly red, brown, green, and yellow, rarely blue and black, and seldom white. BAG suggests it is an opal (p. 369); others believe it to be a diamond, which is, of course not quartz but a crystalline carbon. Ginzburg says of it, "This stone changes color even as Benjamin's feelings towards his brothers changed" (cited by Ford, p. 335). Ford thinks the rare and valuable white color is referred to here. Actually, there is no basis for certainty about it.

The wall is very high, its height symbolizing the greatness of this city as well as its impregnability against those described in 21:8, 27. The twelve gates (vv. 12-13) are distributed three on each of the four walls (v. 13). These may be like the triple gates that can now be seen in the excavated wall of the old Jerusalem. Later John describes the gates as single pearls (v. 21). What impresses him at this point about the gates is their angel guards and the inscribed names of the twelve tribes of Israel. The presence of angels proclaims that this is God's city, while the twelve tribes emphasize the complete election of God (cf. comments at 7:4). Here there seems to be a deliberate allusion to Ezekiel's eschatological Jerusalem on whose gates the names of the twelve tribes appear (Ezek 48:30-34). Ezekiel 48:35 says, "The name of the city from that time on will be: THE LORD IS THERE" (cf. Rev 21:3; 22:3-4).

Like the gates, the twelve foundations of the wall have twelve names written on them—in this case the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. Foundations of ancient cities usually consisted of extensions of the rows of huge stones that made up the wall, down to the bedrock. Jerusalem's first-century walls and foundation stones have recently been excavated. Huge stones, some of which are about five feet wide, four feet high, and thirty feet long, weighing eighty to one hundred tons each and going down some fourteen to nineteen layers below the present ground level, have been found.

In vv. 19-21, John turns to the precious stones that make up the foundations. Here, however, he stresses the names of the twelve apostles. Theologically, it is significant that he brings together the twelve tribes and the twelve apostles of the Lamb and vet differentiates them. This is not unlike what Matthew and Luke tell us that Jesus said (Matt 19:28; Luke 22:30). The earlier symbolic use of twelve (see comments at 7:4), representing in Revelation completeness, implies that it is unnecessary for us to know precisely which twelve will be there. Judas fell and was replaced by Matthias (Acts 1:21-26), but Paul also was a prominent apostle. Furthermore, the number "twelve" is sometimes used to refer to the elect group when all twelve are not in view John 20:24 has ten; 1Cor 15:5 has eleven; cf. Luke 9:12). The group of apostles represents the church, the elect community built on the foundation of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the slain Lamb.

The dual election here depicted admittedly entails some difficulty in identifying the twelve tribes in 7:4ff. with the church as this writer and other commentators have done (see comments at 7:1ff.). Thus some commentators have insisted that the "twelve tribes" refers to an eschatological purpose for the elect Jewish people (Rissi, The Future of the World, p. 73; Walvoord, pp. 322-23). It is a puzzling problem."

(Rev 21:15 NASB) "The one who spoke with me had a gold measuring rod to measure the city, and its gates and its wall.

(Rev 21:16 NASB) The city is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as the width; and he measured the city with the rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal.

(Rev 21:17 NASB) And he measured its wall, seventy-two yards, according to human measurements, which are also angelic measurements.

(Rev 21:18 NASB) The material of the wall was jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. 

(Rev 21:19 NASB) The foundation stones of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation stone was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald;

(Rev 21:20 NASB) the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst.

(Rev 21:21 NASB) And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was a single pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass."

"15-21 The angel measures the city with a golden measuring rod. (The significance of measuring was discussed at 11:1.) The act of measuring signifies securing something for blessing, to preserve it from spiritual harm or defilement. Ezekiel's elaborate description of the future temple and its measuring was to show the glory and holiness of God in Israel's midst (Ezek 43:12). The measuring reveals the perfection, fulfillment, or completion of all God's purposes for his elect bride. Thus the city is revealed as a perfect cube of twelve thousand stadia (12x1000 [about 1,400 miles]). The wall is 144 cubits (about 200 ft.) thick (12x12). These dimensions should not be interpreted as providing architectural information about the city. Rather, we should think of them as theologically symbolic of the fulfillment of all God's promises. The New Jerusalem symbolizes the paradox of the completeness of infinity in God. The cube reminds us of the dimensions of the Most Holy Place in the tabernacle (10x10 cubits [15x15 ft.]) and in the temple (20x20 cubits [30x30 ft.]). John adds that the measurement was both human and angelic (divine): "by man's measurement, which the angel was using" (v. 17). This statement is not unimportant. 

In some sense it shows that both the human and the divine will intersect in the Holy City. Others take v. 17 to be John's way of making the reader realize the "disparity" between the city and the size of the wall thus forcing us to seek a deeper meaning in the angel's measurements (Kiddle).

In vv. 18-21, John describes in more detail the priceless materials of which the city, with its foundations and gates, is made (cf. Isa 54:11-15). The symbolism is not meant to give the impression of wealth and luxury but to point to the glory and holiness of God. The wall of jasper points to the glory of God (4:2-3; see comments at 21:11), while the fabric of the city is pure gold—as clear as glass (v. 21). Such imagery portrays the purity of the bride and her splendor in mirroring the glory of God (cf. Eph 5:27).

The foundation stones are made of twelve precious stones. Here the imagery may reflect three possible sources: (1) the high priest's breastplate (Exod 28:17-20), (2) the jewels on the dress of the king of Tyre (Ezek 28:13), or (3) the signs of the zodiac. The second one, though referring to only nine stones, suggests the splendor of ancient royalty and might be appropriate as a symbol for the glorious kingdom reign in the Holy City. Yet regardless of how one feels about the way some have identified the king of Tyre (Ezek 28:11ff.) with Satan (cf. Feinberg, A. C. Gaebelein, New Scofield Reference Bible), there is something inappropriate about taking this pagan king as symbolic of the future kingdom. Swete and Ford prefer the first option—that of the high priest's breastplate. But while the twelve stones are perhaps the same, the order of their mention is different. This leaves the third option. According to Philo and Josephus, Israel associated these same stones with the signs of the zodiac, and their tribal standards each bore a sign of the zodiac (Caird, p. 276). If we begin with Judah, the tribe of Christ (7:5), the sign is Aries, the Ram, which has the amethyst as its stone. The last sign is Pisces, the fishes, which has jasper as its stone (Charles, Commentary on Revelation, 2:167). So the first zodiacal sign agrees with the twelfth foundation and the last zodiacal sign with the first foundation. In fact, the whole list agrees with John's, though in reverse order. This may be a significant device to show John's disapproval of pagan cults. But these matters are uncertain.

The gates are twelve great pearls. Though pearls are not mentioned in the OT, some rabbinic texts refer to gates for Jerusalem hewn out of jewels about forty-five feet square (Sanhedrin 100a). As for the one main street of the Holy City, it is like the fabric of the city itself, of pure gold, clear as glass (see comments at 21:18).

(Rev 21:22 NASB) "I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 

(Rev 21:23 NASB) And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.

(Rev 21:24 NASB) The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it.

(Rev 21:25 NASB) In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed; 

(Rev 21:26 NASB) and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it;

(Rev 21:27 ASB) and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life."

"22-27 John turns from this beautiful description of the city to the life within it. In antiquity every notable city had at least one central temple. The New Jerusalem not only differs in this respect from ancient cities but also from all Jewish speculation about the age to come. Illuminated by the overflowing radiance of the presence of the glory of God, the Holy City no longer needs a temple (naos). Yet paradoxically it has a temple, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple (v. 22). And in another sense, the whole city is a temple, since it is patterned after the Most Holy Place (v. 16). Jewish expectation was centered on a rebuilt temple and the restoration of the ark of the covenant. In his glorious vision, John sees the fulfillment of these hopes in the total presence of God with his purified people, while the Lamb, the sign of the new covenant is the fulfillment of the restoration of the ark of the covenant (see comments at 11:19; cf. John 4:21, 23). As long as there is uncleanness in the world, there is need for a temple where God's presence and truth are in contrast to the uncleanness. But in the new city no such symbol is needed any longer. In fulfillment of Isaiah 60:19-20, there will be no further need, as in ancient temples, for any natural or artificial lighting because the glory of God will dim the most powerful earthly light into paleness (cf. Zech 14:7). In the earthly tabernacle and temple, there was, to be sure, artificial lighting (the seven-branched lampstand in the OT tabernacle and the temple); yet the Most Holy Place had no such lighting because of the shekinah, the light of God's own presence.

Verses 24-26 present a remarkable picture of "the nations" and "the kings of the earth" entering the city and bringing their splendor (doxa, "glory," "honor," "magnificence") into it. John sees a vision of social life, bustling with activity. Elsewhere in Revelation, the nations (ethne) are the pagan, rebellious peoples of the world who trample the Holy City (cf. comments at 11:2; and at 11:18) and who have become drunk with the wine of Babylon, the mother of prostitutes (18:3, 23), and who will also be destroyed by the second coming of Christ (19:15). The same description applies to the kings of the earth. But there is another use of these terms in Revelation. They stand for the peoples of earth who are the servants of Christ, the redeemed nations who follow the Lamb and have resisted the beast and Babylon (1:5; 15:3; 19:16; 2:26; 5:9; 7:9; 12:5). It is this latter group that John describes figuratively as having part in the activity in the Holy City, the kingdom of God. What this may involve regarding the relation of this life to the future kingdom is not stated.

Life in the age to come will certainly involve continuing activities and relationships that will contribute to the glory of the Holy City throughout eternity. Instead of the nations bringing their precious possessions to Babylon, the harlot city, the redeemed nations will bring these offerings to the throne of God (cf. Isa 60:3ff.). So certain is its perpetual light and security that the gates will never be shut for fear of evil by night (v. 25; cf. Isa 60:11). This imagery should not, however, be allegorized as indicating some sort of perpetual invitation to salvation.

One thing is absolutely certain. Nothing impure (koinos, "common," "profane") will ever enter the city's gates (v. 27). By koinos John means ceremonial impurity (cf. at 21:8; 22:15). No idolatrous person may enter. Only those can enter whose names are in "the Lamb's book of life" and who thus belong to him through redemption (cf. 3:5; 20:12, 15). This should not be taken as implying that in the New Jerusalem there will still be unsaved roaming around outside the city who may now and then enter it by repenting (contra Caird). Instead, the exhortation warns present readers that the only way to participate in the future city is to turn one's total loyalties to the Lamb now (cf. 21:7)."

4) [(Rev 21:9-27) Bible Knowledge Commentary On Rev 21:9-27]:

"The New Jerusalem As The Bride (21:9-11)

(Rev 21:9 NASB) "Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and spoke with me, saying, "Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.

(Rev 21:10 NASB) And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God,

(Rev 21:11 NASB) having the glory of God. Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper."

"21:9-11. One of the angels of chapter 16 who had poured out a bowl of wrath on the earth then invited John to see the New Jerusalem as a bride. Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb. Carried by the Spirit to a high mountain, John saw the New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, shining with the glory of God.

Expositors have raised questions about the additional revelation of the New Jerusalem, beginning in verse 9. Some believe that this section is a recapitulation and pictures the New Jerusalem as it will be suspended over the earth during the millennial reign of Christ. A preferred interpretation, however, is that the passage continues to describe the New Jerusalem as it will be in the eternal state. Obviously the city would be much the same in either case, but various indications seem to relate this to the eternal state rather than to the Millennium.

The overall impression of the city as a gigantic brilliant jewel compared to jasper, clear as crystal indicates its great beauty. John was trying to describe what he saw and to relate it to what might be familiar to his readers. However, it is evident that his revelation transcends anything that can be experienced.

The jasper stone known today is opaque and not clear (cf. 4:3). It is found in various colors, and John apparently was referring to the beauty of the stone rather than to its particular characteristics. Today one might describe that city as a beautifully cut diamond, a stone not known as a jewel in the first century.

As in the earlier references to the New Jerusalem as a bride, here again is a city, not a person or group of people. This is confirmed by the description of the city which follows.

4. The New Jerusalem As A City (21:12-27)

(Rev 21:12 NASB) "It had a great and high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names were written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel.

(Rev 21:13 NASB) There were three gates on the east and three gates on the north and three gates on the south and three gates on the west."

"21:12-13. John saw a gigantic city, "square" in shape (v. 16), and surrounded by a great, high wall with 12 gates. The 12 gates bore the names of the 12 tribes of Israel. The number 12 is prominent in the city with 12 gates and 12 angels (v. 12), 12 tribes of Israel (v. 12), 12 foundations (v. 14), 12 apostles (v. 14), 12 pearls (v. 21), 12 kinds of fruit (22:2), with the wall 144 cubits—12 times 12 (21:17), and the height, width, and length, 12,000 stadia, about 1,400 miles (v. 16). The city has walls north, south, east, and west with three gates on each side (v. 13) and with an angel standing guard at each gate (v. 12).

This is an entirely different situation from the earthly Jerusalem in the Millennium. But if the names of the gates corresponded to the millennial Jerusalem described in Ezekiel 48:31-34, the north side from east to west would have the gates named Levi, Judah, and Reuben. On the west side from north to south were Naphtali, Asher, and Gad; on the south side from east to west, Simeon, Issachar, and Zebulun; and on the east side from north to south, Joseph, Benjamin, and Dan. In contrast to Revelation 7:5-8, where Dan is omitted and Joseph and Manasseh are included, Ezekiel mentioned Dan but not Manasseh."

(Rev 21:14 NASB)  "And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

(Rev 21:15 NASB) The one who spoke with me had a gold measuring rod to measure the city, and its gates and its wall.

(Rev 21:16 NASB) The city is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as the width; and he measured the city with the rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal."

"21:14-16. The 12 foundations to the city's wall bore the names of the 12 apostles of the Lamb. The apostles were part of the church, the body of Christ. Thus both the church and Israel will be in the city; the former are represented by the apostles' names on the foundations (v. 14), and the latter by the names of Israel's 12 tribes on the gates (v. 12). The distinction between Israel and the church is thus maintained. An angel measured the city with a measuring rod of gold, about 10 feet in length. The city is 12,000 stadia in length and width, approximately 1,400 miles on each side. Tremendous as is the dimension of the city, the amazing fact is that it is also 1,400 miles high.

Commentators differ as to whether the city is a cube or a pyramid. The descriptions seem to favor the pyramid form.

(Rev 21:17 NASB) "And he measured its wall, seventy-two yards, according to human measurements, which are also angelic measurements.

(Rev 21:18 NASB)  The material of the wall was jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass.."

"21:17-18. Surrounding this huge city is a wall 144 cubits or 216 feet thick. The reference to man's measurement simply means that though an angel is using the rod, he is using human dimensions.

As John gazed at the wall, he saw that it was made of jasper, and that the city was made of pure gold, as pure as glass. John was using the language of appearance, for apparently both the jasper and the gold differ from these metals as they are known today. In verse 11 the jasper is translucent, and in verses 18 and 21 the gold is clear like glass."

(Rev 21:19 NASB) "The foundation stones of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation stone was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald;

(Rev 21:20 NASB) the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst.

(Rev 21:21 NASB) And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was a single pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass."

"21:19-21. The decorations of the foundations (with the apostles' names inscribed on them) include 12 stones involving different colors. The color of the jasper is not indicated. The sapphire was probably blue; the chalcedony comes from Chalcedon, Turkey and is basically blue with stripes of other colors. The emerald is a bright green; the sardonyx is red and white; and the carnelian, called a "sardius" in the nasb, is usually ruby-red in color, though it sometimes has an amber or honey color. In 4:3 the carnelian stone is coupled with the jasper to reflect the glory of God. The chrysolyte is a golden color, probably different from the modern chrysolyte stone which is pale green. The beryl is a sea green; the topaz is a transparent yellow-green; the chrysoprase is also green; the jacinth is violet in color; and the amethyst is purple. The stones together provide a brilliant array of beautiful colors. The gates resemble huge, single pearls, and the street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass (cf. 21:18).

While the beauty of the city may have symbolic meaning, no clue is given as to the precise interpretation. Since it is reasonable to assume that the saints will dwell in the city, it is best to take the city as a literal future dwelling place of the saints and angels.

(Rev 21:22 NASB) "I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 

(Rev 21:23 NASB) And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.

(Rev 21:24 NASB) The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it.

(Rev 21:25 NASB) In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed; 

(Rev 21:26 NASB) and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it;

(Rev 21:27 NASB) and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life."

"21:22-27. John declared that he did not see a temple in the city because God the Father and the Lamb (God the Son) are its temple. There will be no need for light from the sun or moon because the glory of God will provide the light. As John explained, the Lamb is its lamp.

From the fact that the nations (the Gentiles) will be in the city (vv. 24, 26)—as well as Israel and the church—it is evident that the city is the dwelling place of the saints of all ages, the angels, and God Himself. The description of the heavenly Jerusalem in Hebrews 12:22-24 itemizes all those mentioned here and adds "the spirits of righteous men made perfect," which would include all other saints not specifically mentioned.

John learned that the gates of the city will never be shut, and because God's glory will be present continually there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be in the city, and everything that is impure... shameful, or deceitful will be excluded (cf. Rev. 21:8; 22:15). The inhabitants will be only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life. It is interesting that in the six references to the book of life in Revelation only this one calls it "the Lamb's" (cf. 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12,15).

Though the description of the city does not answer all questions concerning the eternal state, the revelation given to John describes a beautiful and glorious future for all who put their trust in the living God."

5) [Compare Ezekiel Chapters 40-48 For A Detailed Description Of The Eternal City - The Eschatological Kingdom Of God In Its Glorified Existence Read These Chapters On Your Own And Imagine That You Are There; For That Is Where All Believers Will Be In Eternity As Well As Other Places In Eternity.

Take a look at these images online: 

https://freebibleimages.org/illustrations/ezekiel-40-temple/ 

6) [Article From GES On Clearing Up Confusion About Heaven And Hell]:

Clearing up Confusion about Heaven and Hell — Revelation 20:11–21:4
March 1, 2017 by Bob Wilkin in Grace in Focus Articles
(faithalone.org)

Most people think that they know a lot about heaven and hell. But most popular ideas about heaven and hell do not actually come from the Bible, but from Greek philosophy, especially Plato, and from medieval writings like Dante’s Inferno.

Part 1: Heaven Isn’t What Most People Suppose

We sing many songs about heaven, like “When We All Get to Heaven” and “Heaven Is a Wonderful Place.”

But what are we thinking about when we sing such songs? Are we thinking about where we will be if we die before the Rapture? That is not what these songs are about. These songs are about where we will spend eternity.

The reason we sing about heaven as our eternal home is because most pastors and theologians believe it will be our eternal home. As a result, many churchgoers believe that as well. Most people in Christianity think that heaven will be the eternal home of Christians.

Most Fail to Recognize That There Are Three Heavens, Not One Heaven

The Greek word which is often translated as heaven is ouranos. Yes, it sometimes refers to the place where believers who have died are now. 

But more often it refers to the place where the birds fly. It is sometimes translated as sky, sometimes as air, and sometimes as heaven when what is meant is the atmosphere around the earth. See Matt 6:26; 8:20; 13:32; Mark 4:4, 32; Luke 13:19; Acts 10:12; 11:6.

In Scripture that is the first heaven. 

It also often refers to the place where the stars and the planets outside our solar system are. 
Outer space is often called the heavens. When God created “the heavens and the earth,” the heavens there refers to all the planets and the stars outside of earth. See Heb 1:10-11; 2 Pet 3:7, 10, 12; 21:1.

In Scripture that is the second heaven.

Occasionally, but not often—except in the Book of Revelation—the term ouranos refers to the place where God’s glory is localized and where departed believers await Christ’s return. See 2 Cor 12:2-4; Rev 4:1-11; 8:1-6; 16:11.

That is called the third heaven in Scripture.

The Lord Jesus and His Apostles Said That the Current Heavens Will Be Destroyed

When the Scriptures say that “heaven will pass away,” they do not mean the third heaven will pass away. That refers to the first and second heavens. 

The entire universe, except for the third heaven, will be destroyed and the taint of sin completely eliminated. Sin, I believe, is why we will get a new universe.

I’m not sure if the fall, and possibly the flood, resulted in change in the universe. Were asteroids and meteors part of the original design? Will they be part of the new heavens and the new earth?

Were all planets originally inhabitable? Will all planets be inhabitable in the eternal state?

The Bible does not answer these questions. But what it does say is that the first and second heavens will be destroyed and new untainted ones created. See Matt 5:18; 24:35; 2 Pet 3:10; Rev 21:1-3.

Most Fail to Read the Bible to the Very End

When I was on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ we used to sing a song called, “Heaven Is a Wonderful Place.” We’d sing about how wonderful heaven is, how it is filled with glory and grace. “I want to see my Savior’s face! Heaven is a wonderful place. I want to go there.” Students and staff alike loved the song. But, unfortunately that song presents a flawed view of heaven.

Yes, heaven is a wonderful place, filled with glory and grace. And yes my Savior is there right now. However, the song gives the distinct impression that we will spend eternity in heaven in the presence of Jesus. But neither the Lord Jesus nor believers will spend eternity in the third heaven. Jesus and believers will spend eternity on the new earth. The third heaven wasn’t made for humans, and humans weren’t made for the third heaven. See Revelation 21-22.

Most Fail to Carefully Read the First Three Chapters in the Bible

One simple way we know this is by reading the opening chapters of Genesis. If Adam and Eve had not sinned, then there is no question but Adam and Eve and all their descendants would have lived on earth at least until they filled it. Think about that for a moment. God’s design for human beings was not that they live in the third heaven forever. He didn’t design us for the third heaven. He gave us bodies and a planet on which to use those bodies. While angels arguably were designed to spend at least some of their time in the third heaven, humans were not.

The first and last chapters of the Bible make it clear that God has come to dwell with us on earth. If your aim has been to spend eternity in heaven, I hope you will give up on that ambition. That isn’t for you.

What Will the New Earth Be Like?

Revelation 21-22 tells us that it will be beautiful, with streets and buildings of gold. It will have lots of precious stones. The world capital, the New Jerusalem, will be bigger than most countries today.

Surely the new earth will be better than this earth and better even than the earth before the flood. Remember, before the flood people lived 900+ years even on a fallen world. The new earth will be perfect. And the people there will be perfect. No more sin. It will be an amazing place to live.

We Need to Change the Way We Think about Heaven

The way we think about heaven is wrong and we need to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Rom 12:2; 2 Cor 3:18). Our eternity is more glorious than we can imagine. But we should be imagining living in the right place to start with. And we should imagine serving the Lord Jesus Christ forever (Rev 22:5).

Most likely, believers who are now in heaven are longing for the Rapture. They want to be reunited with living believers. Earth is calling them home. They long to see Israel restored to its glorious position as God’s chosen nation. The thought of seeing the Lord Jesus sitting on the throne of David and ruling from Jerusalem thrills them. The Millennium is such a glorious time to anticipate. And the New Jerusalem, the twelve gates of pearl, the streets of gold, the nations, and the glorious sinless new earth in which righteousness dwells, is something to capture our imaginations, as well as the imaginations of those now in heaven.

Of course, no one in heaven is upset or disappointed. But they know that heaven is not their home. They realize they are just passing through on their way back to earth.

One day Sharon and I were walking with our friends Will and Sue Nece. I said something about how I longed to spend eternity in heaven. Will looked over and asked, “Why would you long for that? Our eternal home is the new earth, not heaven. Revelation 21-22 shows that.”

That was a eureka experience for me. I saw right away he was right. And I began to study more. And my enthusiasm grew for the life to come. I believe your enthusiasm will grow as well if you get your eternal focus on the new earth, [AND THE NEW HEAVEN] where it should be."

II) THE FUTURE DWELLING PLACE OF THE RIGHTEOUS IN THIS AGE - I.E., THOSE IN THIS AGE WHO HAVE BEEN DECLARED RIGHTEOUS BY A MOMENT OF FAITH ALONE IN CHRIST ALONE, I.E., BELIEVERS IN THE CHURCH AGE ARE VIEWED AS AND WILL BE SEATED IN THE HEAVENLIES WITH JESUS CHRIST

A) [Eph 2:1-7]:

(Eph 2:1 YLT) "[And]: you - being dead in ... trespasses and the sins, (Eph 2:2 YLT) in which once [you]: did walk according to the age of this world, according to the ruler of the authority of the air, [to the ruler]: of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience, (Eph 2:3 NASB) Among [whom]: we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, [doing]: the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest; (Eph 2:4 NASB) but God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, (Eph 2:5 YLT) even being dead in ... trespasses, did make us [alive]: together with ... Christ, (by grace [you]: are having been saved) (Eph 2:6 NASB) and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places [lit., heavenlies - an actual position in heaven established and guaranteed for us by God]: in Christ Jesus, (Eph 2:7 YLT) that He might show, in the ages that are coming, the exceeding riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus," =

Verses 1-10 are one long sentence, of which Eph 2:1-7 is a part. Verses 1-3 depict the condition of unbelievers before God transformed them. Verses 4-7 stipulate that God made those who believed in Christ Jesus alive together with Christ, and seated them with Him in the heavenlies.

1) (Eph 2:1-3) And You Gentiles Being Dead In Trespasses And Sins, In Which Once You Did Walk According To The Age Of This World, According To The Ruler Of The Authority Of The Air - Satan, the Devil, Who Is The Ruler Of The Spirit / Ruler Of The Attitude That Is Now Working In The Sons Of Disobedience; Among Whom We Too - Paul And Fellow Jews - Formerly Lived In The Sinful Lusts Of Our Flesh, Doing The Sinful Desires Of The Flesh And Of The Mind, And Were By Nature Children Of The Wrath Of God, Even As The Rest Of Mankind

(Eph 2:1 YLT) "[And]: you - being dead in ... trespasses and ... sins, (Eph 2:2 YLT) in which once [you]: did walk according to the age of this world, according to the ruler of the authority of the air, [to the ruler]: of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience, (Eph 2:3 NASB) Among [whom]: we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, [doing]: the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest;"

2) (Eph 2:4-7) But God, Being Rich In Mercy, Because Of His Great Love With Which He Loved Us, Even While We Were Dead In Our Trespasses, Did He Make Us Alive Together With Christ. By Grace You Are Having Been Saved, And He Raised Us Up With Him, And Seated Us With Him In The Heavenly Places In Christ Jesus, That He Might Show, In The Ages That Are Coming, The Exceeding Riches Of His Grace In Kindness Toward Us In Christ - In The Sense Of By Means Of Christ Jesus

(Eph 2:4 NASB) but God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, (Eph 2:5 YLT) even being dead in ... trespasses, did make us [alive]: together with ... Christ, (by grace [you]: are having been saved) (Eph 2:6 NASB) and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places [lit., heavenlies - an actual position in heaven established and guaranteed for us by God]: in Christ Jesus, (Eph 2:7 YLT) that He might show, in the ages that are coming, the exceeding riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus," =

a) (Eph 2:4-7) [Commentary On Eph 2:4-7]:

(Eph 2:4 NASB) "but God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, (Eph 2:5 YLT) even being dead in ... trespasses, did make us [alive]: together with ... Christ, (by grace [you]: are having been saved) (Eph 2:6 NASB) and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places [lit., heavenlies - an actual position in heaven established and guaranteed for us by God]: in Christ Jesus, (Eph 2:7 YLT) that He might show, in the ages that are coming, the exceeding riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus," =

So after describing in verses 1-3 the position of believers being dead to God in trespasses and sins before they believed in Christ Jesus, (along with the rest of mankind), the apostle Paul began to picture their present position in Christ - Gentiles and Jews who have believed in Christ Jesus, (vv. 1-3, 13-14). The first words of Eph 2:4 rendered, "But God" is an emphatic, context-changing phrase which emphasizes that despite all mankind being dead in trespasses and sins, (v. 1), and all mankind being by nature children of wrath - under the condemnation of God, (v. 3); God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us - those who have believed in Christ Jesus - "even being dead in trespasses, [God]: did make us alive together with Christ, (by grace you are having been saved)."

This subject of the riches of God's grace was previously addressed in chapter one relative to the redemption of those who believed in Christ Jesus:

b) [Compare Eph 1:1-7]:

(Eph 1:1 NASB) "Paul, ... apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are at ... [Ephesus, Laodicea, Colossae, etc]: [even, i.e., that is to say, to the believing ones]: in Christ Jesus. (Eph 1:2 NASB) Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Eph 1:3 NASB) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who [did bless]: us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, (Eph 1:4 HCSB) for He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight [in love]:, (Eph 1:5 NKJV) having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, (Eph 1:6 NASB) to the praise of the glory of His grace, [of]: which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved [One]:. (Eph 1:7 NASB) In [Whom]: we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace"

And Paul continues to write about the subject of the riches of God's grace in chapter two beginning at verses Eph 2:4-7 which have in view the salvation by grace through faith in Christ Jesus of those who have believed in Christ Jesus, wherein God is once more viewed as being "rich in mercy" and as having "great love" toward those Gentiles and Jews who have believed in Christ Jesus, (Eph 1:1-3, 13-14). The Greek words "pollen agapen" rendered "great love" refer to God's unmerited, self-sacrificial, agapE love of believers who have nothing to merit / deserve God's love to be expressed toward them. Despite their being dead in trespasses, God did make them alive together with Christ when they believed - in the sense of making them spiritually alive together with Christ as part of Him, His body. And then Paul immediately writes, "By grace" - God's unmerited favor / undeserved kindness  - "you are having been saved," present tense + perfect participle which conveys the sense of a completed action in the past with ongoing present results forever of being saved unto eternal life. When Paul wrote in Eph 2:6a, "and [God]: raised us up with Him [Christ Jesus]:," it was written in the past tense indicating that this was a guaranteed occurrence with absolute assurance that believers will in the future be resurrected from the dead as Christ Jesus had been resurrected, because it is God Almighty Who has enacted their resurrections. This will surely come to pass because God promised it. Whereupon, Paul wrote in Eph 2:6b, "And [He, God]: seated us in the heavenly .places [lit., in the heavenlies]: in Christ Jesus," - another absolutely guaranteed and assured positional statement from Almighty God of believers being present with Him in heaven for all eternity.

2) (Eph 2:4-7 cont) But God, Being Rich In Mercy, Because Of His Great Love With Which He Loved Us, Even While We Were Dead In Our Trespasses, Did He Make Us Alive Together With Christ. By Grace You Are Having Been Saved, And He Raised Us Up With Him, And Seated Us With Him In The Heavenly Places In Christ Jesus, That He Might Show, In The Ages That Are Coming, The Exceeding Riches Of His Grace In Kindness Toward Us In Christ - In The Sense Of By Means Of Christ Jesus

(Eph 2:4 NASB) but God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, (Eph 2:5 YLT) even being dead in ... trespasses, did make us [alive]: together with ... Christ, (by grace [you]: are having been saved) (Eph 2:6 NASB) and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places [lit., heavenlies - an actual position in heaven established and guaranteed for us by God]: in Christ Jesus, (Eph 2:7 YLT) that He might show, in the ages that are coming, the exceeding riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus," cont. =

Eph 2:7 indicates that all of what God has decreed for those that believed in Christ Jesus will come to pass for all believers in Christ Jesus so "that He [God]: might show in the ages that are coming" - in the future Millennial Kingdom, and in the Eternal Kingdom of God that follows - the exceeding riches of His grace in kindness toward us [who are believers]: in Christ Jesus - by means of His propitiation for the sins of mankind. And this will be for the whole universe to see in order to give God the credit and glory He so richly deserves. For the rest of eternity, the believers being so eternally blessed will be God's trophies, demonstrating Who He is and that what He has decreed has come to pass in every detail.

III) GOD HAS PREPARED A CITY FOR BELIEVERS TO OCCUPY IN HEAVEN

A) [Read Ezekiel Chapters 40-48 For A Detailed Description Of The Eternal City - The Eschatological Kingdom Of God In Its Glorified Existence. Read These Chapters On Your Own And Imagine That You Are There As Promised

B) [Compare Revelation 21:1-5; 10-27]: 

C) [Hebrews 11:16 (NASB)]:
16  "But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them."

IV) ONLY FAITHFUL BELIEVERS WILL RECEIVE ETERNAL REWARDS / AN INHERITANCE IN THE KINGDOM OF CHRIST AND GOD. BUT ALL BELIEVERS WILL RESIDE THERE IN THE CITY GOD PREPARED FOR THEM

A) [Eph 5:1-21]:
(Eph 5:1 NASB) "Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children:

(Eph 5:2 NASB) and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.

(Eph 5:3 NKJV) But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints;

(Eph 5:4 NASB) and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.

(Eph 5:5 NKJV) For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

(Eph 5:6 NKJV) Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.

(Eph 5:7 NASB) Therefore do not be partakers with them;

(Eph 5:8 NKJV) For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light

(Eph 5:9 NASB) (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth),

(Eph 5:10 NKJV) finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.

(Eph 5:11 NKJV) And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.

(Eph 5:12 NASB) for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret.

(Eph 5:13 NKJV) But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light.

(Eph 5:14 NASB) For this reason it says, 'Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you.' 

(Eph 5:15 NASB) Therefore be careful [lit., look carefully] how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise,

(Eph 5:16 NKJV) redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

(Eph 5:17 NASB) So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is

(Eph 5:18 NASB) And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit,

(Eph 5:19 NKJV) speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord,

(Eph 5:20 NKJV) giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

(Eph 5:21 NKJV) submitting to one another in the fear of God."

B) [Hebrews 11:16 (NASB)]:

16  "But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them."

The Father's house = heaven where all believers are destined to be - faithful and unfaithful alike even a city prepared for them.

C) PARABLE OF THE TALENTS & REWARDS IN HEAVEN

[Mt 25:14-30]:

(v. 14) "Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them.

(v. 15) To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. (v. 16) The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more.

(v. 17) So also, the one with the two talents gained two more.

(v. 18) But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money.

(v. 19) After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them.

(v. 20) The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.'

(v. 21) His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'

(v. 22) The man with the two talents also came. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.'

(v. 23) His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'

(v. 24) Then the man who had received the one talent came. 'Master,' he said, 'I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed.

(v. 25) So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.'

(v. 26) His master replied, 'You wicked, lazy servant. So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed.?

(v. 27) Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

(v. 28) Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has ten talents.

(v. 29) For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance.

Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.

(v. 30) And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' "

Let's examine this parable verse by verse.

[Mt 25:14]:

"Again, it......................

["it"- the kingdom of heaven, (v. 1)]

"Again, it [the manifestation of the coming kingdom of heaven] will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them."

Note that the "man going on a journey", (the master), in the parable in Mt 25, was apparently going on an extended journey because the parable indicates that he "entrusted [all] his property to them".

[So one aspect of God's sovereign kingdom of heaven occurs when God entrusts His authority over the earth to a number of His servants, like the church during the present age, or other groups of believers of other periods]

[Mt 25:15]:

"To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey."

"Each according to his ability" - ability to do what? Spiritually speaking, the message of this parable has to do with deeds that are of divine provenance, (as opposed to human good works). The doctrine of divine good works for which the believer is rewarded closely ties in to the doctrine of spiritual gifts which are God's way of enabling each believer with capacities, abilities and opportunities for work for the kingdom of heaven. Thus, inherent in verse 15, ("each according to his ability"), is the fact that by God's grace, (unmerited favor), a believer is endowed with specific and varying spiritual gifts, varying abilities AND VARYING OPPORTUNITIES to carry out the use of those spiritual gifts.

The doctrine of divine good works is indicated in the following verse:

[Eph 2:10]:

"For we [believers, vv. 2:8-9] are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, WHICH GOD PREPARED IN ADVANCE FOR US TO DO." And the doctrine of spiritual gifts is taught in Scripture in numerous places:

[Ro 12:3-8]:

(v. 3b) "Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you." (v. 4) "Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function,"

(v. 5) "so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others."

(v. 6a) "WE HAVE DIFFERENT GIFTS, ACCORDING TO THE GRACE GIVEN US..."

EACH AND EVERY BELIEVER IS PROVIDED WITH GIFTS FROM GOD WHICH ARE GIVEN BY GRACE - NOT BY THE MERIT OR WORTHINESS OF ANY INDIVIDUAL!

Dr. J Vernon McGee states, ('Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee', Vol IV, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983, p. 135):

"Notice that the 'talents' were sums of money. They do not represent talents in the sense of the natural endowments of a person such as a musical talent. The application to us is that whatever God has given us, we are to use for Him."

Note that Jesus mentions only three levels of responsibility [5, 2 & 1 talent], with the implication of the allowing for the God given individual abilities among people, who vary greatly in natural talent, intellect, and other capabilities. They also vary greatly in opportunity and privilege. Some church members have heard the gospel and studied Scripture since early childhood, whereas others know only the rudiments of the faith and have had little opportunity to learn more. All believers are given spiritual gifts that vary widely from person to person (See Rom 12:4-8; 1 Cor 12:4-11). Some Christians are privileged to live and work closely with others of like faith and are continually encouraged and corrected by fellow believers. Other Christians, however, are the only believers in their families or even in their community or town. God knows intimately the abilities, gifts, opportunities, and circumstances of every person, and He graciously assigns responsibilities accordingly. So the Christian's responsibility is to faithfully respond to what God has given to him in order to maximize the value of his eternity.

The issue of the parable pertains to what each slave does with the fairly assessed responsibility he has been given. The noblest motive in the heart of a faithful servant would be to accomplish as much as possible for the sake of his master during his master's absence. That was also the master's desire: not equal return from each of his slaves but relatively equal effort according to ability.

In the same way, Christians with different capabilities and opportunities may produce differing results while working with equal faithfulness and devotion. The Lord therefore assures His servants that 'each will receive his own reward according to his own labor' (1 Cor 3:8).

1 Cor 3:8 emphasizes the grace of God working in our efforts such that compared to God we are really valued at nothing:

[Compare 1 Cor 3:5-10]:

(v. 5) "What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you [Corinthians] came to believe - AS THE LORD HAS ASSIGNED TO EACH HIS TASK. (v. 6) I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, BUT GOD MADE IT GROW.

(v. 7) SO NEITHER HE WHO PLANTS NOR HE WHO WATERS IS ANYTHING, BUT ONLY GOD, WHO MAKES THINGS GROW.

(v. 8) The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, AND EACH WILL BE REWARDED ACCORDING TO HIS OWN LABOR.

(v. 9) For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building.

(v. 10) By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it.

But each one should be careful how he builds."

The word "talent" is generally defined as a measure of weight. In the context of this passage it refers to approximately 114+ lbs of whatever metal coinage was given - gold, silver, copper, (about 3000 shekels) - a large sum of money! Matthew, a tax collector who would be familiar with all types of coinage, wrote the word "argyrion" which means "silver money" in verse 18 of this passage referring to the money the owner entrusted to his servants. Such large sums of money and the owner's having entrusted all of his possessions with the servants suggests that the servants are to take charge of the owner's entire operation with the authority and the funds entrusted to them - a huge and weighty responsibility. This is much like the stewardship responsibility God gives each group of believers in each age - which no matter what it is to us is huge and weighty to God.

[Mt 25:14-30, cont.]:

[Mt 25:16-17]:

(v. 16) "The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more."

(v. 17) "So also the one with two talents gained two more."

The Greek word "eirgasuto" which the NIV renders "put his money to work" is perhaps better rendered "traded with them". For in the context of this passage it is suggested that a continual diligence in trading was made. The first two servants were assiduously doing business such that they both doubled their money for the owner, their master.

Carson states, ('The Gospel According to John, Inter-Varsity Press, 1991, p. 516):

"..'put his money to work' does not mean the servant invested the money in some lending agency. Rather he set up some business and worked with the capital to make it grow."

[Mt 25:18-19]:

(v. 18) "But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money.

(v. 19) After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them."

Some emphasis by many is being placed on the length of time which the master was gone as it is with our Lord Who has not returned yet for nearly 2000 years. The 7 year Tribulation period which is primarily being focused on, (Mt 24:3, 25:1, 14), would not be considered a long time. Rather than to examine this point in 'tunnel vision' detail, the parable is merely emphasizing the long term attitude of faithfulness required of the master's three servants. Recall that parables are stories to emphasize a point or two and are not to be dissected in every detail other than those particular points: the prerogative to the parable Author. And recall in verses 14-15 the master entrusted all of his possessions and large sums of money to his servants indicating the journey would be a long term one. In those days travel times were lengthy. If anything might be discerned from the master's long absence it would simply be that all believers are to persevere in their walk with the Lord as if He would not return soon. For tribulation saints, soon will not be soon enough in spite of the short duration of that period.

[Mt 25:14-30 cont.]:

[Mt 25:20-23]:

(v. 20) "The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.'

(v. 21) His master replied, 'Well done good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'

(v. 22) The man with the two talents also came. 'Master,' he said, 'You entrusted me with two talents; see I have gained two more.'

(v. 23) His master replied, 'Well done good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'

In obedient response to the master's request for an accounting, (v. 19), the first two servants told of the results of their efforts. There is no self-pride being emphasized here - just simple obedience in giving the requested account. The master's response was a "Well done" and much more than that, for he called each one of them a "good and faithful servant.". An emphasis is placed on the faithfulness of the two servants to their responsibilities and not on the gross amount of their productivity. There was absolutely no distinction made between the first servant who out produced the second by 2? times! The verses which commend the two servants' faithfulness are purposely identical, (cp vv. 21 & 23). God in His sovereignty has decreed different gifts, divine good production capacities and responsibilities for His kingdom to different individuals. He rewards according to the individual's faithful obedience to His assigned tasks:

[Lk 12:48b]:

"From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked."

Then the master in the parable in Mt 25 gives the faithful servants responsibility over "many things." Finally, notice that the master invites both faithful servants to "Come and share your master's happiness.". The faithful servants, (faithful believers), are enjoined to share in the joy of the Lord - to celebrate and partake of God's indescribable divine happiness!! .

The letter to the Colossian believers, (Col 1:2), speaks of the consequences of faithful and unfaithful Christian service:

[Col 3:23-25]:

(v. 23) "Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men;

(v. 24) knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ Whom you serve."

[Sad to say, this will not be so for the unfaithful believer who will be weeping and gnashing his teeth over severe disappointment at his eternal loss of rewards when he gets to heaven. This weeping and gnashing to last only for a season, then the Lord will wipe away every tear, (Isa 25:8; Rev 7:17; 21:4)]:

(v. 24) For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality."

MacArthur states, (op. cit., p. 104):

"Of the many things heaven will be, it will not be boring. Our heavenly perfection, for example, will not be a matter simply of never making a mistake. Nor will it be always making a hole in one or a home run, as it were. Rather it will be a time of ever-expanding and increasingly joyous service, and the saints who then will serve the most and rejoice the most will be those who have served the Lord most steadfastly while on earth. Every soul in heaven will equally possess eternal life and will be equally righteous, equally Christlike, and equally glorious. Everyone will be equally perfect, because perfection has no degrees.

THE DIFFERENCE WILL BE IN OPPORTUNITIES AND LEVELS OF SERVICE. 

[Emphasis mine] Just as the angels serve God in ranks, so will redeemed men and women, and the degree of their heavenly service will have been determined by the devotedness of their earthly service."

[MacArthur, cont.]:

"Heaven will not involve differing qualities of service, because everything heavenly is perfect. Everything done for the Lord will be perfectly right and perfectly satisfying. There will be no distinctions of superiority or inferiority, and there will be no envy, jealousy, or any other remnant of sinful human nature. 

[Albeit there will be those in authority over or under others, and those with greater or less responsibility - a hierarchy, just as with the angelic beings]

Whatever one's rank or responsibility or opportunity, those will be God's perfect will for that individual and therefore will be perfectly enjoyed. In a way that is beyond our present comprehension, believers will...

[after a season of reckoning when there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, cp Mt 22 ]

...believers will be both equal and unequal in the ....eternal state." 

[Comments in brackets by BSM = biblestudymanuals.net]

The parallel parable in Luke chapter 19 provides additional support for this:

[Lk 19:12-19]:

(v. 12) '''He said therefore, "A certain nobleman went to a distant country to receive a kingdom for himself, and then return.

(v. 13) And he called ten of his slaves, and gave them ten minas, and said to them, 'Do business with this until I come back.'

(v. 14) But his citizens hated him, and sent a delegation after him, saying, 'We do not want this man to reign over us.'

(v. 15) And it came about that when he returned, after receiving the kingdom, he ordered that these slaves, to whom he had given the money, be called to him in order that he might know what business they had done. 

(v. 16) And the first appeared, saying, 'Master, your mina has made ten minas more.'

(v. 17) And he said to him, 'Well done, good slave, because you have been faithful in a very little thing, be in authority over ten cities.'

(v. 18) And the second came, saying, 'Your mina, master, has made five minas.'

(v. 19) And he said to him also, 'And you are to be over five cities. ' "

[The second servant did not receive a "well done" - his work being productive but not up to expectation as was the first servant. Notice that the faithful servants were put in charge of 10 & 5 cities in the kingdom. There is a good possibility that faithful believers will indeed be placed in authority over towns, cities and countries. For 2 Timothy 2:12 and Rev 20:4-6 indicate that co-ruling with Christ is what is in store for the faithful believer.

[Mt 25:14-30 cont.]:

[Mt 25:24-26]:

(v. 24) "Then the man who had received the one talent came. 'Master,' he said, 'I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed."

(v. 25) "So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.' "

(v. 26) "His master replied, 'You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed?"

Verses 20-22 of the parallel parable in Luke chapter 19 provides additional insight into this:

[Lk 19:20-22]:

(v. 20) "And another came, saying, 'Master, behold your mina, which I kept put away in a handkerchief;

(v. 21) for I was afraid of you, because you are an exacting man; you take up what you did not lay down, and reap what you did not sow.'

(v. 22) He said to him, 'By your own words I will judge you, you worthless slave. Did you know that I am an exacting man, taking up what I did not lay down, and reaping what I did not sow?"

To harvest where you have not sown and gather where you have not scattered seed is not necessarily evil at all. The apostle Paul indicates that this is not only acceptable but in essence decreed by our sovereign God when one is doing the Lord's work:

[1 Cor 3:5-8]:

"What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe - AS THE LORD HAS ASSIGNED TO EACH HIS TASK.

I PLANTED THE SEED, APOLLOS WATERED IT, BUT GOD MADE IT GROW.

SO NEITHER HE WHO PLANTS NOR HE WHO WATERS IS ANYTHING, BUT ONLY GOD, WHO MAKES THINGS GROW.

The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor."

The master, as a matter of fact, is entitled as owner to the fruits of the labors of others under his authority to the extent of their mutual agreement in their business arrangement. (By the way, this is called the divine doctrine of capitalism, [the private ownership and receipt of the rewards of one's own venture and labor respectively], which Scripture teaches as the norm for man. Scripture is opposed to the human doctrine of socialism which God's Word indicates as God's judgment on man or a special circumstance and not the proper order of things, [Isa 65:21-23]). So the servant is wrongfully accusing his master of being a hard and unjust man. His perception of his master is warped out of his own (sinful) attitude about himself in relationship to his subservience to his master. In a word, he is rebellious and his behavior reflects this, especially in his unjust smearing of the Master's character and the way he justified doing absolutely nothing with the money. The master calls him wicked and lazy:

[Mt 25:26]:

"His master replied, 'You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed?

The master is not agreeing with the servant's charge that he unjustly harvested where he had not sown by repeating what the servant said. The context indicates an "if" you thought that I was a hard and unjust man....."then" why didn't you at least deposit the money in the bank?

[Mt 25:27]:

"Well then, you should have [at least] put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest."

[Lk 19:23]:

" 'Then why did you not put the money in the bank, and having come, I would have collected it with interest?'"

[MacArthur states, (op. cit., p. 106-107)]:

"The ancient Roman Empire had a banking system that was in many respects like those of modern times. The maximum loan rate was 12 percent simple interest, and the interest earned on deposits was probably about half that rate. The slave with the one talent therefore could have reaped at least a six percent return by making virtually no effort at all. The fact that he did not attempt even to earn simple interest on the money confirmed his total irresponsibility and his indifference to the master..... The truth of the matter was that the slave had no real concern for his master one way or the other, and his excuse seems to have been more spur of the moment than planned. He did not expect the master's return and did not expect to be held accountable, and when he was caught by surprise he simply thought out an outrageous charge [and a personal attack] that made no sense."

This is what many unbelievers and carnal Christians do when confronted with the truth of God's Word.

[Mt 25:28-29]:

(v. 28) " 'Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents.

(v. 29) For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him."

[Lk 19:24-25]:

(v. 24) "And he said to the bystanders, 'Take the mina away from him, and give it to the one who has the ten minas.'

(v. 25) And they said to him, 'Master, he has ten minas already.'

(v. 25) 'I tell you, that to everyone who has shall more be given, but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away.' "

Those believers who demonstrate their faithfulness will receive more and the reverse is also true:

[Lk 16:10]:

"Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest will also be dishonest with much."

[Mt 25:29-30]:

(v. 29) "For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him."

(v. 30) " 'And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' "

In these particular parables the last servant is not faithful in his works and he is defined as worthless in terms of the value of his thoughts, words and deeds to the kingdom of God. Nothing, however, is mentioned relative to whether or not his eternal destiny is to be in the Lake of Fire as in the parable of the wicked servant at the end of Matthew 24, in Mt 24:48-51 which indicates some place which the individual is to go, which place nevertheless is not to be in the Lake of Fire once carefully read . Nevertheless, the servant in Matthew 25 and Lk 19 who wasted his opportunity with the one talent or mina was to be thrown "outside...into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

Most will jump to the conclusion that this must mean the Lake of Fire. For other passages which are clearly in contemplation of the Lake of Fire are accompanied with weeping and gnashing of teeth.

BUT LET'S CONSIDER TWO IMPORTANT DOCTRINAL STATEMENTS:

(1) WITHOUT GOD'S GRACE OPERATING IN THEIR LIVES BELIEVERS WOULD STOP SERVING HIM.

Thus their lives would end up being relatively useless so far as divine good production is concerned. Are all believers who cannot claim in this temporal life to be characteristically godly at any time! (1 Jn 1:8-10); therefore going end up weeping and gnashing their teeth in the Lake of Fire, leaving no believer to occupy the Eternal Kingdom of God / of Heaven. Obviously not.

(2) UNBELIEVERS CANNOT SERVE GOD FOR REWARDS.

Unbelievers from any age are not given the responsibility to perform service for the Lord God. Here in this parable our Lord speaks of the three men with respect to the service and responsibility they are to uphold for Him. An unbeliever can perform no service for the Lord which will please Him until he becomes saved through faith. Let's look at a passage in Romans that verifies this:

[Ro 8:6-8]:

(v. 6) "The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace;

(v. 7) the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, NOR CAN IT DO SO.

(v. 8) THOSE CONTROLLED BY THE SINFUL NATURE CANNOT PLEASE GOD."

[All unbelievers and some believers at times are controlled by the sin nature and therefore cannot please, i.e., serve God. Note that the above passage in Romans says:

"THOSE CONTROLLED BY THE SINFUL NATURE CANNOT PLEASE GOD." So the parable of the talents cannot apply to unbelievers at all. For God does not give unbelievers an opportunity to serve Him for the purpose of rewards and enhancement in the kingdom of God. One cannot and will not serve God for rewards in heaven without the illumination and guidance of the indwelling Holy Spirit, (i.e., until one is saved). Although God USES the lives of all men to His glory, (even the lives of the worst unbelievers serve Him in spite of what they do with their lives, (cp Ro 9:17-24), He only GIVES unbelievers an opportunity relative to the kingdom of heaven to believe in what He has testified to about His Son, (1 Jn 5:9-13). Not until they become children of God by faith in His Son, (Jn 1:12), will they then be GIVEN an opportunity to personally serve Him for enhancement in the kingdom of God. Relative to the doctrine of spiritual gifts: only believers are endowed with spiritual gifts....and this at the point of salvation, (Eph 1:3), when God the Holy Spirit permanently indwells a believer, (Eph 1:13-14). Without any spiritual gift at all it is impossible for an unbeliever to serve God. Once that unbeliever trusts alone in Christ alone as Savior, he immediately receives his spiritual gift(s). Now it is up to him as a newborn child of God, (Jn 1:12) - AND SOVEREIGNLY BY THE GRACE OF GOD - to diligently study and obey God's Word in order to learn about and utilize his gift(s) for eternal rewards in heaven - with the guidance of the indwelling Holy Spirit and God's provision of circumstances within which a prepared believer might have an opportunity to serve God faithfully and effectively. An unbeliever, by his refusal to trust alone in Christ alone as his Savior and thereby submit to being totally transformed into a different and righteous being, has refused the opportunity to co-reign with Christ in the millennium and to share in the joys in the kingdom. Unbelievers have at least one common denominator - they think they have at least one righteous deed within themselves to offer God for receiving or keeping their salvation. Until a man realizes that all he can do is to come to the cross of Jesus Christ totally bankrupt - totally naked - with nothing to offer before and after salvation in order to have eternal life in heaven he denies God the opportunity to transform him into a righteous being fit to enter the kingdom of God. Believers can similarly block God the Holy Spirit's operation in their lives relative to rewards in heaven by offering their own works to please God instead of allowing God to direct them in the life that He has for them to lead. So these believers while they are busy doing their own works to please God do not grow as Christians and do not avail themselves of opportunities for Christian service and rewards in heaven. So, relative to this parable, to give an unbeliever tasks to perform in order that he could qualify to co-reign with Christ and enjoy the kingdom would be fruitless. An unbeliever cannot please God by performing assigned tasks. Therefore this parable in Matthew 25 as well as the corresponding one in Luke must be referring to three believers.

Let us examine a passage that contains the phrases "weeping and gnashing of teeth" and "outer darkness" in order to verify if unfaithful believers actually do enter into the kingdom AND THEN, WHILE REMAINING INSIDE THE KINGDOM, are cast into outer darkness and then weep and gnash their teeth for a season - an unhappy distance from fellowshipping and celebrating with the King of kings, and Lord of lords, Jesus Christ and fellow believers for a season:

CLICK HERE to move to the parable of the faithful and unfaithful servants in Mt 24:45-51 and Lk 12:41-48: 

[Mt 25:14-30 cont.]:

[Homer A. Kent in "The Gospel according to Matthew," in The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, eds. Charles F. Pfeiffer and Everett F. Harrison (Chicago: Moody Press, 1962), p. 952]:

"Herein is the crux of the interpretation [of Mt 25:14-30]. If this reckoning [that the third servant, who received the one talent, is condemned to hell] is the judgment of the believer's works, then we apparently have a true believer suffering the loss of his soul because of the barrenness of his works. But that interpretation would contradict Jn 5:24:

[Jn 5:24]:

"I tell you the truth, whoever hears My word and believes Him Who sent Me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life."

Or, if the unprofitable servant represents a mere professing Christian, whose real nature is thus unmasked, then it appears that the judgment of believers' works and the damnation of sinners occur together, although Rev 20 separates these judgments by 1000 years."

D)  On Eternal Rewards

V) THERE REMAINS A SABBATH REST FOR THE PEOPLE OF GOD FIRST BELIEVE UNTO RESIDENCE THEN BE FAITHFUL UNTO ENHANCED ETERNITY

A) [Hebrews 3:16-4:11]: 

(Heb 3:16 NASB) "For who provoked Him when they had heard? Indeed, did not all those who came out of Egypt led by Moses?

(Heb 3:17 NASB) And with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness?

(Heb 3:18 NASB) And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient?

(Heb 3:19 NASB) So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief. 

(Heb 4:1 NASB) Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it.

(Heb 4:2 NASB) For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard.

(Heb 4:3 NASB) For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said, "AS I SWORE IN MY WRATH, THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST," although His works were finished from the foundation of the world.

(Heb 4:4 NASB) For He has said somewhere concerning the seventh day: "AND GOD RESTED ON THE SEVENTH DAY FROM ALL HIS WORKS";

(Heb 4:5 NASB) and again in this passage, "THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST."      

(Heb 4:6 NASB) Therefore, since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience,

(Heb 4:7 NASB) He again fixes a certain day, "Today," saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, "TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS."

(Heb 4:8 NASB) For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that.

(Heb 4:9 NASB) So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.

(Heb 4:10 NASB) For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His.

(Heb 4:11 NASB) Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience."

******

1) [(Heb 3:7-4:13) Grace Evangelical Society Commentary]:

The Warning Passages in Hebrews (Part 1) – Grace Evangelical Society (faithalone.org)

"Have you ever stopped to read the warning labels on the products you buy? My bottle of cat shampoo says, “Caution: The contents of this bottle should not be fed to fish or children.” An electric drill I got for Christmas says, “Not intended for use in dentistry.” And here’s a children’s birthday card that says, “Keep away from small children.” The world is full of warnings. Some we can safely ignore. But there are others we ignore at our peril. This is true of the five warning passages in Hebrews (2:1-4; 3:7–4:13; 5:11–6:12; 10:19-39; 12:14-29).
Evangelicals are divided over what they mean. Arminians generally interpret them as warnings to believers that they will lose their eternal salvation if they persist in sin and unbelief. Calvinists either interpret them as warnings to false professors that they’ll be eternally lost if they don’t believe in Christ, or as exhortations to the elect warning them of a hypothetical loss of eternal salvation. Significantly, both Arminians and Calvinists agree that the warnings are about eternal life or eternal death.

What is the best way to understand these crucial passages?

In this article, I will present a Free Grace interpretation of the first two warnings in Hebrews, showing that they warn believers about God’s discipline in this life and about a potential loss of rewards in the Messianic kingdom to come.

Were the Hebrews [Addressed In The Book Of Hebrews] Believers?

One of the disagreements between Arminians and Calvinists is over whether or not the Hebrews [Addressed In The Book Of Hebrews] were believers or whether they were false professors. In order to settle that question, consider that the readers are described as:

• Holy (3:1)
• Brethren (3:1, 12)
• Companions (or partakers) of the heavenly calling (3:1)
• God’s house (3:6)
• Companions (or partakers) of the Messiah (3:14)
• People who should have been mature enough to be teachers (5:12)
• Enlightened (6:4)
• Having tasted the heavenly gift (6:4)
• Companions (or partakers) of the Holy Spirit (6:4)
• Having tasted the good Word of God (6:5)
• Having tasted the powers of the age to come (6:5)
• Having loved the Lord’s name (6:10)
• Sanctified (10:10, 29)
• Perfected (10:14)

Can these terms apply to unbelievers? Are unregenerate people holy? Are they God’s house? Should they be Christian teachers? Do they partake of the Holy Spirit? Do they love the Lord’s name? Do they have a confession to hold fast to or to depart from? Are they enlightened, sanctified, or perfected?

These questions answer themselves. There can be little doubt the warnings in Hebrews were addressed to regenerate people. In fact, the inspired author included himself in the warnings he was giving (the “we” of Heb 2:1-4), and there is no doubt that he was regenerate.

So who were the Hebrews? They were a community of Jewish believers the author hoped to visit (13:23). They were at risk of apostatizing from Christianity and returning to Judaism, so the author wrote to convince them of the superiority of Christ over Moses, and of the superiority of the New Covenant over the Old Covenant. Their faith may have been wavering, but there is no doubt they were believers.

The First Warning: Don’t Drift Away From Faith in Christ (Heb 2:1-4)

In chapter 1, the author explained how vastly superior Jesus was to anything in creation, especially angels. In chapter 2 the author drew an inference (beginning with Therefore [Dia touto]), from Christ’s superiority, arguing that since Christ is greater than the angels, the Hebrews should give earnest heed to what they have been taught about Him lest they drift away from faith in Jesus. The Greek word for drift away (pararreō) also appears in Prov 3:21, where it suggests a gradual departure from the truth. David Allen points out that it is a nautical term (cf. Heb 6:19) that evokes the image of a boat that has become unanchored and is slowly drifting away at sea.1 The author could see that the Jewish believers were at risk of slowly drifting back into Judaism, which would put them in danger of God’s judgment. In that way, there’s analogy between the law and the gospel, for if disobeying the law (the word spoken through angels) incurred consequences (a just reward), then so would neglecting the great salvation of the gospel.

The question is, what kind of “salvation” were the Hebrews neglecting?

First, we shouldn’t take salvation as a technical term meaning salvation from hell. If you check your concordance for the uses of save (sōzō) and salvation (sōtēria) you’ll find that all the Old Testament uses, and the majority of New Testament uses, refer to deliverance from life-threatening dangers, not to salvation from hell. For example, Heb 11:7 speaks of Noah’s household being saved from drowning in the Flood. But salvation could also refer to future events like the Second Coming: “To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation” (Heb 9:28, emphasis added; cf. Rom 13:11; 1 Pet 1:5). So we shouldn’t assume that salvation always means being born again. The nature of the great salvation needs to be identified from the context.

Second, the salvation the author had in mind was still future. We know that everlasting life is a present possession (John 3:16). But the author said the salvation he was speaking of would happen in “the world to come” (Heb 2:5; cf. Heb 1:14). That future expectation would align with his statement that Christ’s Second Coming is a salvific event (Heb 9:28).

Third, the Old Testament quotes leading up to this warning and immediately following it emphasize Jesus’ future Messianic kingship. Hebrews 1:5a quotes Ps 2:7, a royal enthronement Psalm that ultimately points to the enthronement of the Messiah. Hebrews 1:5b quotes 2 Sam 7:14, which refers to the Davidic covenant and the promised heir to the throne, which is also a reference to the Messiah’s rule. Hebrews 1:6 quotes Ps 97:7, which refers to the future reign of the Lord, when He will vanquish His enemies and be worshipped by all. Hebrews 1:7 quotes Ps 104:4, which is a creation Psalm, and points to the Son’s power and sovereign rule. Hebrews 1:8-9 quotes Ps 45:6-7, which describes a royal wedding, the Messiah’s eternal throne, and introduces the important concept of His “companions” who share in his rule (see below). 

Hebrews 1:10-12 quotes from Psalm 102, which speaks of the Lord appearing in glory to rebuild Zion and ruling forever over the nations (vv 12-17, 25-26). Hebrews 1:13 quotes Ps 110:1 to once again emphasize the Messiah’s right to rule (being at God’s right hand) and His victory over His enemies. As you can see, there’s no mistaking the point the author is making. All these verses point to the glory of the Messiah, His rule, His victory, and His future kingdom.

Fourth, Hebrews introduces the concept of believers as “companions” (metochos) of the Messiah.

This is a key theme throughout the epistle. The Hebrews are called companions of a heavenly calling (3:1), of Christ (3:14), of the Holy Spirit (6:4), and of God’s discipline (12:8). As F. F. Bruce suggests, calling believers companions carries a special meaning in that it points to their participation in the Messianic kingdom, i.e. ruling with Christ.2

Given these reasons, there is a strong case to be made that the great salvation the Hebrews were neglecting was not the message of how to be born again, 

[BSM comment: They already were born again believers as this letter is addressed to them from the beginning as the immediate text above indicates in italics

but the good news about Christ’s future kingdom, which was the main subject of the Lord’s teaching between His resurrection and ascension to heaven (Acts 1:3). If believers become indifferent to that future salvation, there will be consequences they can’t escape. However, the author does not yet tell us what those consequences may be.

The Second Warning: Be Diligent to Enter God’s Rest (3:7–4:13)

The second warning concerns the concept of entering “God’s rest.” The author drew a parallel between the Hebrews’ current situation, and the dark events described in Numbers 13–14, when Israel rebelled against God.

You’ll remember how the Lord commanded that men be sent into Canaan to spy out the land, only to have ten of the twelve men come back with a negative report, warning about the imposing size and strength of the Canaanites (as if the Lord was not greater than all). Fear gripped the Israelites. They refused to enter the land to take possession of it. They wished they had died in the wilderness (Num 14:2). Some even wanted to find another leader to take them back to Egypt (Num 14:2, 4).

For God, that was the last straw.
Israel had murmured and grumbled before, but now they had made an irrevocable decision. 

Although God forgave the Israelites their sin (Num 14:20), they still had to face a penalty for their rebellion. God decreed that, with the exception of Caleb and Joshua, everyone over the age of twenty would die in the wilderness instead of entering the land (Num 14:29-35).

By recalling this event, the author of Hebrews invoked a principle about God’s judgment. 

Arnold Fruchtenbaum explains it this way:

"The principle in Scripture is that once a point of no return is reached, the offenders are subject to divine judgment. The judgment is physical, not spiritual; it does not mean loss of salvation. In fact, Numbers 14:20 does say that the people repented; it even goes on to say that God forgave the sin. It did not affect anyone’s individual salvation, but the physical consequences of their sin did need to be paid. Once a point of no return is reached, no matter how much repenting one does thereafter, the fact of coming physical judgment cannot be changed…[I]n the Old Testament, the issue is physical death and loss of temporal blessings but not loss of salvation.3

Like Israel, the readers of Hebrews risked facing a similar penalty because they were on the verge of their own irrevocable rebellion, as described in Heb 3:7–4:13. So the author warned them that since Jesus is greater than Moses (3:3-6), the penalty for rebelling against Him would be worse than that experienced by Israel. The Hebrews were warned that they should not harden their hearts as in the rebellion. The Israelites did not enter God’s rest, and the Hebrews risked the same fate if they departed from the living God (3:12).

The big question is, what is “God’s rest”? Does it mean the Hebrews were at risk of not entering heaven? Does it mean they were going to miss out on eternal life?

The evidence strongly suggests that once again this is a reference to the Messianic kingdom. There are three reasons for taking it that way.

First, the concept of rest had a Messianic meaning. The Israelites who entered Canaan never possessed it fully so they developed a Messianic expectation that God’s promises to them would be completely fulfilled in the future. That’s why the author explained if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day (4:8, HCSB). There was another day coming, when the Messiah would establish His kingdom in the land, finally providing an ultimate rest for the people of God (4:9; cf. Isa 11:10).

[This has in view the fulfillment of God's promise to Israel alone of the New Covenant as stipulated in Jer 31:31-34 which study has in view all of a generation of Israelites yet future trusting alone in Christ alone and being tranformed  .

Second, the gospel that was preached to the Hebrews, and which the Israelites did not believe (not being mixed with faith), was not the message of how to be born again. The Bible mentions several different gospels, one of the most important being the “gospel of the kingdom,” which was the good news that the Messiah had come and was offering the kingdom to Israel. That is the gospel being referred to here. The Israelites didn’t believe the rudimentary message about God’s promise of inheriting a land of milk and honey (Exod 3:17). Likewise, the Hebrews were at risk of missing God’s promise of a Messianic rest if they neglected what they heard about His future reign (1:1-14).

Third, the rest being spoken of is conditioned on something other than faith, which suggests it is related to eternal rewards, not to eternal life. As we know, we receive everlasting life as a gift, apart from our works (Eph 2:8-9). God credits righteousness to the ungodly who simply believe and do not work (Rom 4:5). By contrast, eternal rewards are earned by being faithful (1 Cor 3:11-15; Rev 22:12). So when the author of Hebrews warned his readers they will be companions of Christ if they hold steadfast to the end (3:14), and they may not enter the rest because of disobedience (4:6, 11), he was using the language of eternal rewards. Remaining Christ’s companions who will share in His rule is entirely conditional on whether or not their faith has become profitable (4:2). A believer’s faith must be put into action in order for it to be profitable (e.g., maintaining one’s confession during persecution or providing for the physical needs of the poor, cf. Jas 2:14-16). Paul Tanner points out that if the Hebrews didn’t put their faith into action, if, instead, they actually apostatized, they wouldn’t lose their eternal salvation, but they would risk being disciplined by God and losing rewards in the kingdom, such as being a companion of the Messiah.4 They needed to understand that once the kingdom came, and the rest was entered, believers will have ceased from their works. The rewards will already have been given at the Judgment Seat of Christ and there will be no more opportunity for eternal rewards.

In sum, this warning compares Israel possessing Canaan with the believer entering the “rest” of the Messianic kingdom, where Christ’s enemies will be vanquished. However, not every believer will share in Christ’s eternal victory as His companions. If the Jewish believers left Christ for Judaism, they would suffer God’s temporal judgment and miss ruling with the Messiah in His kingdom.

Conclusion

If we interpret the first two warnings in Hebrews as being about a possible loss of everlasting life, we not only deny Jesus’ promise of eternal security (John 10:28-29), but we also fail to do justice to the rich Messianic imagery of Hebrews and the promise of a kingdom still to come. Believers should derive hope from the fact that one day soon, if we are faithful, we will rule with Christ as His companions. But we should also realize there will be consequences if we rebel against Him in this life.

2) [(Heb 3:16-4-11) Bible Knowledge Commentary On Heb 3:16-4-11]:

(Heb 3:16 NASB) "For who provoked Him when they had heard? Indeed, did not all those who came out of Egypt led by Moses?

(Heb 3:17 NASB) And with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness?

(Heb 3:18 NASB) And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient?

(Heb 3:19 NASB) So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief."

"3:16-19. Having alluded again to the passage he wished to expound, the author then began doing so. The questions in verse 16 seem more naturally read as statements: "For some, when they had heard, did provoke; howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses." The writer is aware of the notable exceptions of Joshua and Caleb, who did not take part in the general failure. But then he asked, With whom was God angry for 40 years? The answer is that He was angry with those in the wilderness congregation who sinned and who died in that wilderness. 
Their disobedience in refusing to enter the Promised Land caused God to swear that they would never enter His rest. This meant of course that the sinful generation in the desert was permanently excluded from taking possession of their inheritance in Canaan. Naturally it had nothing to do with the question of their going to hell, so it would be wrong to allege that the entire Exodus generation was unregenerate. But exclusion from Canaan was a consequence of their lack of faith in the power of God to bring them into it in victory over their enemies, a failure that in principle might be repeated by the readers of Hebrews if they forgot Messiah's ultimate triumph over His enemies and theirs (cf. 1:13-14). The writer wished his readers to take it to heart that unbelief, lack of confidence in God, was the reason God's people did not enter the land.

(Heb 4:1 NASB) "Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it.

"4:1. It follows from the tragic example of Israel that Christians should also take warning. This is true because the promise of entering His rest still stands. The NIV rendering of the last half of the verse is, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. This is possible, but the word "found" cloaks a difficulty in the underlying text, involving a word which usually means "to seem" or "to suppose." Some modern writers (Montefiore, Héring) prefer the meaning, "let us be careful that none of you suppose that he has missed it." Since the following context seems dedicated to demonstrating that God's rest is still open, this understanding is probably preferable.

The writer's concept of "rest" must not be separated from its Old Testament roots. The Septuagint includes notable passages where the word for rest (katapausis), in connection with Israel's possession of the land, is clearly paralleled with the word for inheritance (klēronomia). Moses showed clearly (Deut. 3:18-20; 12:9-11) that for Israel their rest was their inheritance. In the same way it is natural to suppose that the term "rest" for the writer of Hebrews was a functional equivalent for a Christian's inheritance. That Christians are "heirs" he has already affirmed (Heb. 1:14) and will shortly do so again (6:12, 17; cf. 9:15). How exactly he understood their relationship to this inheritance will unfold as his argument proceeds. But the inheritance itself can hardly be divorced from his presentation of Messiah's kingdom and His "partners'" share in that. If this needed explicit confirmation, it could be found in 12:28.

If, as just suggested, the writer was concerned that none of his readers would think they had missed their "inheritance-rest," it is quite conceivable that he was confronting the problem of the delay in the Second Advent, which Paul himself had also already encountered at Thessalonica. The writer of Hebrews' later call to patience that the readers may "receive what He has promised" is followed by the assurance that "in just a very little while, 'He who is coming will come and will not delay' " (10:36-37). If this was God's concern, it was urgent to show that this promised "rest" is still available.

(Heb 4:2 NASB) "For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard."

"4:2. Here the writer said that the gospel was preached to us (lit., "we were evangelized" or "we were given good news"). But this good news does not always refer to the plan of salvation from sin. In some circles the word "gospel" has acquired a sense too technical and narrow to do justice to the writer's ideas here. What was preached to the Israelites of old was, quite clearly, God's offer of rest. This, of course, was "good news" for them just as it is for people now, but it is not exactly what is meant today by "gospel." The Greek verb used, euangelizomai, was fully capable of having a nontechnical sense in the New Testament (cf. its use in Luke 1:19; 1 Thes. 3:6), but naturally the writer here did not sharply distinguish the "good news" about rest, which his readers had heard, from the "good news" to which the term "gospel" is more usually applied (cf. 1 Cor. 15:1-4). But as the whole context shows, his concern was with the good news about a future rest for God's people (cf. Heb. 4:10), not with the fundamental facts Paul spoke of in 1 Corinthians 15.

As was already pointed out in reference to the Israelites, the message they heard (about rest) was of no value to them, because of their lack of faith (cf. Heb. 3:19). That is to say, through unbelief they failed to take advantage of God's offer of rest. So it follows that for the readers to profit from this invitation to rest, they had to exercise faith."

(Heb 4:3 NASB) "For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said, "AS I SWORE IN MY WRATH, THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST," although His works were finished from the foundation of the world." 

"4:3. This is precisely what he then affirmed. The words hoi pisteusantes should be rendered "we who believe" rather than we who have believed. The writer's concern was not about their original faith in the past, but their perseverance in it (cf. 3:6, 14). Faith remains the prerequisite for entrance into rest, since it was to those who failed to exercise faith that God declared by oath they would not enter into His rest. This exclusion was definitive despite the fact that this rest had been established as far back as Creation itself."

(Heb 4:4 NASB) "For He has said somewhere concerning the seventh day: "AND GOD RESTED ON THE SEVENTH DAY FROM ALL HIS WORKS"; 

(Heb 4:5 NASB) and again in this passage, "THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST."

"4:4-5. With considerable enrichment of thought, the author then linked God's Sabbath-rest at the time of Creation with the rest that the Israelites missed in the desert. God rested when He finished His creative activity and this kind of experience has, ever since, lain open to people who also finish the work that is set before them (cf. v. 10). When, as with the nation in the wilderness, a task is left unfinished, of such it must be said, They shall never enter My rest.

(Heb 4:6 NASB) "Therefore, since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience,

(Heb 4:7 NASB) He again fixes a certain day, "Today," saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, "TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS." 

"4:6-7. But the failure of the Israelites did not nullify the truth that some will enter that rest, and accordingly God renewed the offer (in Ps. 95) as late as the time of David. At that time God again set a certain day, calling it Today, thus presenting this opportunity to all readers of the psalm for whom the "Today" becomes their own "Today." Already the writer had applied that "Today" to his readers (cf. Heb. 3:14-15)."

(Heb 4:8 NASB) "For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. 

(Heb 4:9 NASB) So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.

(Heb 4:10 NASB) For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. [Gen 2:2]."

"4:8-10. But the readers were not to suppose that the promise of rest was realized in Joshua's day. Here the author showed himself perfectly aware that the Old Testament might have been quoted to show that the rest had already been entered via the conquest of the land in Joshua's time (cf. Josh. 22:4; 23:1). Probably it had been so quoted to his audience. But the writer's rebuttal was simple and sufficient: if this had been so, God would not have spoken later about another day. The psalm which forms his text disproves the notion that the rest had already been entered and was no longer open.

Behind this argument lies the undeniable fact that the conquest in Joshua's day did not lead to a permanent possession of the land. Such permanent possession of their promised inheritance had become for Judaism an expectation which would only be realized in Messiah's kingdom. This at least was true in normative Judaism, whatever might have been true in some sectarian thought. It may be suspected that here the author confronted some form of "realized eschatology" which  denied the futurity of such a hope. (Cf. the similar view of believers' resurrection which Paul resisted, 2 Tim. 2:17-18.) If so, the Hebrews author regarded Psalm 95 as silencing such a distorted perspective. The rest—the messianic partnership—did indeed lie ahead: There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God. 

[BKC note: the phrase rendered "the people of God" refers to God's chosen people Israel, as well as the elect of the Church Age, and the elect of all the dispensations since Creation began - all who have believed in Christ. Those people of God who are part of the Body of Christ the Church depending upon context are especially in view in Hebrews chapters 3-4 which Book is indeed addressed to Jewish believers of the Church Age and not Jewish unbelievers. So all believers are to receive their particularly designated "Sabbath-rest" in accordance with the Sovereign decrees of God. First comes saving faith unto eternal life in the Eternal Kingdom of God, thereafter depending upon faithfulness, i.e., godly works / obedience comes rewards for an enhanced eternity, (Gal 6:6 ]

a) [Compare 1 Peter 2:9-10 which has in view the believers of the Church Age]:

(1 Pet 2:9 NASB) "But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God's OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 

(1 Pet 2:10 NASB) for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY."

1 cont.) [(Heb 3:16-4:11) Bible Knowledge Commentary On Heb 3:16-4-11, cont.]:

(Heb 4:8 NASB) "For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. 

(Heb 4:9 NASB) "So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God."

(Heb 4:10 NASB) For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. [Gen 2:2]."

"4:8-10. [cont.]

"But it must now be said clearly that entering into God's rest means resting from one's own work just as God did from His. The statement is both a reassurance and an admonition. On the one hand it follows up the writer's conclusion (Heb. 4:9) that there is such a rest to be entered. But on the other, it reminds the readers that this is only done by their getting to the end of their task just as did God in His creative activity. In the phrase "rests from His own work," the author employed a kind of word play since the verb for "rest" also signifies "cease" which, against the backdrop of God's own work, clearly suggests successful completion. This thrust is what the writer has had in mind from the beginning of the section. The readers need to model their lives after Jesus Christ who "was faithful to the One who appointed Him" (3:2) and must be careful to "hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first" (3:14; cf. 3:6). Only thus would they be able to rest from their works in the joyful possession of their inheritance in the messianic kingdom.

(Heb 4:11 NASB) "Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience."

"4:11. It follows logically from this that the readers should, along with the author (note, Let us), make every effort to enter that rest. Unlike the assurance which all Christians have that they possess eternal life and will be raised up to enjoy it in the presence of God (cf. John 6:39-40), the share of the companions of Messiah in His dominion over creation is attained by doing His will to the end (Rev. 2:26-27). The readers must therefore be warned by Israel's failure in the desert and take care that they not follow Israel's example of disobedience."

3) [(Heb 3:16-4:11) Expositor's Bible Commentary On Heb 3:16-4:11]:

(Heb 3:16 NASB) "For who provoked Him when they had heard? Indeed, did not all those who came out of Egypt led by Moses?"

"16 The author presses home his point by three questions that emphasize that it was the people who were in a position of spiritual privilege and yet sinned grievously who were in mind in Psalm 95. Some scholars, it is true, take tines as the indefinite pronoun and not as an interrogative (as does KJV, "for some ... did provoke"). But "some" is a strange designation for practically the whole nation, and in any case it is better to see the same construction in all three of these verses. The first question, then, asks, "Who were they who heard and rebelled?" The verb "rebelled" (parepikranan) is found only here in the NT (though a cognate noun occurs in v. 8). It means "embitter," "make angry," and is a strong expression for the rebellious attitude that characterized the Exodus generation.

The writer answers his question with another, this one phrased so as to expect the answer yes. "All those Moses led out of Egypt" is comprehensive, but that Joshua and Caleb are not mentioned does not invalidate the argument. The nation was characterized by unbelief, and the faithfulness of two men does not alter this. NIV says that Moses "led" the people out of Egypt; but, more literally, the author said that they "came out through [dia] Moses"—implying that they acted of their own volition and made a good start.

(Heb 3:17 NASB) And with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness?"

"17 The second question refers to those God was angry with those forty years. (For the anger of God, see comments on vv.10-11.) In the earlier treatment of the incident (vv. 7-8), the forty years referred to testing God and seeing his works. Here it refers to the continuing wrath of God (as in the Heb. and LXX). The wrath of God was not something transitory and easily avoided. It lasted throughout the wilderness period. The question "Was it not... ?" employs the emphatic ouchi, found in only one other place in this epistle (in 1:14). Its use leaves no doubt whatever that God was angry with the sinners in question. Their punishment is mentioned in words taken from or reminiscent of Numbers 14:29, 32. The author may be quoting or he may simply be using scriptural language to add solemnity to his point. He reminds his readers that in the past those who sinned against God had been destroyed, and, indeed (as the verbs in the Numbers passage are future since they were spoken before the event), that they were destroyed as it was prophesied. The word rendered "desert" refers to "deserted" land. It is wilderness country in contrast to cultivated and inhabited land.

It can be used for pasture (Luke 15:4). Here it is the uninhabited area the Israelites passed through on their wanderings."

(Heb 3:18 NASB) "And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient?" 

18 The third question refers to those to whom the oath was sworn (cf. v. 11). Those who would not enter God's rest were "those who disobeyed." The verb apeitheo means properly "disobey," but some accept the meaning "disbelieve" (as NIV mg.). This is possible since for the early Christians "the supreme disobedience was a refusal to believe their gospel" (BAG, p. 82). But here it seems that we should take the meaning "disobey." God did much for these people. Yet in the end they went their own way and refused to obey him."

(Heb 3:19 NASB) "So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief."

"19 The depressing conclusion sums up what has gone before. The author does not say that they did not enter but that they "were not able to enter." Sin is self-defeating and unbelief of itself prevents us from entering God's rest. This is not an arbitrary penalty imposed by a despotic God. It is the inevitable outcome of unbelief. In the Greek the final word in this section of the argument, thrown to the end of the sentence for greater emphasis, is apistia ("unbelief"). That is what robbed the wilderness generation of the rest they had every reason to expect when they came out of Egypt. The warning to the people of the writer's day is clear. To slip back from their Christian profession into unbelief would be fatal.

Notes

12 Ἐν (en) with the dative of the articular infinitive τῷ ἀποστῆναι (to apostenai, "turns away from") is rather more frequent in Heb than in most of the other NT writings. The tense is usually the present and the sense temporal. However, exceptions to both occur, as here where the tense is aorist and the meaning something like "in that." There is probably another nontemporal example, this time with the present, in v. 15.

(Heb 4:1 NASB) "Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it."

"C. Christians Enter the Rest (4:1-10)

The author argues that the purposes of God are not frustrated because Israel of old disobeyed him and failed to enter the rest he had promised his people. The promise remains. If the ancient Israelites did not enter God's rest, then someone else will, namely the Christians 

[Biblestudymanuals.net: NO! A future generation of Israel will enter God's rest in fulfillment of the New Covenant , Jer 31:31-34 according to God's decree, sovereignty and promise. Otherwise God and His Word, the Bible is seriously flawed, His promises are not trustworthy]. 

But this should not lead to complacency. If the Israelites of an earlier day, with all their advantages, failed to enter the rest, Christians ought not to think there will be automatic acceptance for them. They must take care lest they, too, fail to enter the blessing. 

[Christians have another destiny one of their own as part of the Body of Christ, not as priests of the nations of the world but of corulership with Jesus Christ over the universe.]

[(Heb 4:1 NASB) "Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it."]

"1 NIV's "let us be careful" is more strictly "let us fear," and the exhortation comes first in the sentence. It is emphatic because the writer does not want his readers to be complacent. There is real danger. God's promises mean much to the writer, and indeed the word epangelia ("promise") occurs more often in Hebrews than in any other NT book (fourteen times; next is Gal with ten). The promise in question "still stands." That is to say, though it has not been fulfilled, it has not been revoked. In one sense, of course, there was a fulfillment, for the generation after the men who died in the wilderness entered Canaan. But throughout this section it is basic to the argument that physical entry into Canaan did not constitute the fulfillment of the promise. God had promised "rest" and that meant more than living in Canaan.

There is a problem about the word translated "be found." The verb is dokeo, which means "think," "suppose" if transitive, and "seem," "have the appearance of" if intransitive. Moffatt points out that a meaning like "judge," "adjudge" is also attested in some passages in Josephus, LXX, and Attic. There are two main possibilities. The one accepts "think" as the meaning and sees the writer as reassuring fearful Christians who thought they might miss the rest. (The earlier generation had missed it, and why should not they?) The other interpretation prefers "seem," "be judged," or "be found" and takes the words as a warning to the readers to take care lest they miss the promised rest. ("Seem" is a way of softening the warning so that the writer refrains from saying that any of them actually missed or will miss the promise.) A decision is not easy, but on the whole it seems that this second interpretation fits the context better. The author, then, is reminding his readers that there was a generation to whom the rest was promised and who missed it. They should beware lest they make the same mistake."

(Heb 4:2 NASB) "For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard.

(Heb 4:3 NASB) For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said, "AS I SWORE IN MY WRATH, THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST," although His works were finished from the foundation of the world.

(Heb 4:4 NASB) For He has said somewhere concerning the seventh day: "AND GOD RESTED ON THE SEVENTH DAY FROM ALL HIS WORKS";

(Heb 4:5 NASB) and again in this passage, "THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST."      

(Heb 4:6 NASB) Therefore, since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience,

(Heb 4:7 NASB) He again fixes a certain day, "Today," saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, "TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS."

(Heb 4:8 NASB) For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that.

(Heb 4:9 NASB) So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.

(Heb 4:10 NASB) For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His.

(Heb 4:11 NASB) Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience."

[
(Heb 4:2 NASB) "For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard. ]

"2 There is a question about following the rendering "we have had the gospel [good news] preached to us" or whether the phrase should be taken as general—i.e., "we have heard the good news as well as they." The verb euangelizomai is used of preaching good news in general, but in a Christian context it is much more often used of the specific good news of the gospel; indeed, it becomes the technical term for preaching the gospel. Here everything turns on whether we think that what was preached to Israel of old was what Christians call "the gospel." If it was, then NIV is correct. If we think otherwise, we will follow the rendering "heard the good news." The first half of the verse makes it clear that on the score of hearing God's Good News there was not much to choose between the wilderness generation and the readers: "We also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did." The stress is on the readers. They have the message. They must act on it in contrast to the men of old who did not.

"The message they heard" (i.e., "the word of hearing," an expression much like that in 1 Thess 2:13) brought them no profit. A difficult problem remains at the end of the verse, where the reason for this is given. While there are several textual variants in the MSS, they boil down to two - whether we take the participle of the verb "to combine" or "unite" as singular, in which case it agrees with "word" (in "word of hearing") or as plural, in which case it goes with "them." Only a few MSS have the singular reading, some of them very old, but many scholars favor it on grammatical grounds. If adopted, it gives this sense: "It [the word] was not mixed with faith in them that heard." On the other hand, if we take the plural, the meaning is, "They were not united by faith with them that heard" (i.e., real believers, men like Caleb and Joshua). The resolution of the question is difficult and may be impossible with the information at our disposal. The main thrust, however, is plain enough. The writer is saying that it is not enough to hear; the message must be acted on in faith.

This is the writer's first use of pistis ("faith"), a term he will employ 32 times (out of the 243 times it occurs in the NT), a total exceeded only in Romans (40 times). Pistis means "faithfulness" as well as "faith," but the latter preponderates in the NT. Sometimes faith in God is meant and sometimes faith in Christ. In this epistle it is often the former. In the NT, the term is usually used without an object, i.e., as "true piety, genuine religion" (BAG, p. 669). Here the term points to the right response to the Christian message. It is the attitude of trusting God wholeheartedly. 

[The word "wholeheartedly" is not present in the text. Expressing faith in something cannot be half heartedly. It is either on or off. And only a moment is required, whereupon reception of eternal life is received in that present moment to last forever because eternal life is forever by definition]

The writer speaks of "those who heard" without specifying what it was they heard. 

[Actually Heb 4:2 NASB which reads, "For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard" does indicate that the good news was preached to them which is most plausibly the gospel good news of salvation by a moment of faith alone in Jesus Christ and Him alone]

But there can be no doubt that he is looking for a right response to what God has done and to what God has made known. 

[And that response was necessarily a moment of faith in that information unto eternal life in the Eternal Kingdom of God]

3 "We who have believed" once more stresses the necessity of faith. This is one of only two places where the verb pisteuo ("to believe") occurs in Hebrews (the other is in 11:6) - a contrast to the frequency of the noun. It is believers who enter God's rest, not members of physical Israel, and they do so through a right relationship to God, with an attitude of trust. 

[Point of clarification: with a moment of trust alone in Christ alone + nothing else one has present tense possession of eternal life. Thereafter in the temporal life until their temporal lives come to an end all believers will have their ups and downs in their faithfulness - largely imperfect. Yet in their resurrection bodies they will indeed be blameless by virtue of God's sovereignty alone, despite the imperfect, relatively unfaithful lives that all believers will live Eph 1:4

Note that God's covenant with Israel and Israel alone as stipulated in Jer 31:31-34 for example , indicates that when all individuals of a generation of Israelites express a moment of faith alone in Christ alone, presumably when He comes again in His Second Coming to the earth since this event of a universal expression of all of Israelites of faith in Christ has not yet occurred in history, whereupon all Israelites of this generation who will be for that moment in mortal bodies will be transformed into perfect, sinless mortal beings who will live hundreds and hundreds of years, and have a perfect knowledge of God's Word to minister as priests to all the nations on the earth, coruling with Jesus Christ by virtue of that moment of faith enter into their rest that God promised them occupying the Promised Land which previous generations had the opportunity but never universally expressed that moment of faith in Messiah. 

Other groups of people and individuals have their particular rest which God has sovereignly decreed for them to enter into eternity. That rest is decreed yet depends upon the volition of each individual to participate via faithfulness in the temporal lives. Each will be fairly rewarded commensurate with the degree of their participation.

The verb eiserchomai ("enter") is in the present tense. Montefiore, for one, regards this as important: "Contrary to some commentators, the Greek means neither that they are certain to enter, nor that they will enter, but that they are already in process of entering" (in loc.). By contrast Bruce complains of translations that "suggest that the entrance is here and now, whereas it lies ahead as something to be attained. The present tense is used in a generalizing sense" (in loc.). Either view is defensible and probably much depends on our idea of the "rest." If it lies beyond death, then obviously "rest" must be understood in terms of the future. But if it is a present reality, then believers are entering it now. Characteristically, the writer supports his position by an appeal to Scripture.

There is nothing in the Greek to correspond to NIV's "God" ("God has said"). Yet this is a correct interpretation because the writer habitually regards God as the author of Scripture. The perfect tense eireken ("has said") puts some emphasis on permanence. What God has spoken stands. The quotation is from Psalm 95:11 (already cited in 3:11 where see comments). Its point appears to be that those to whom the promise was originally made could not enter the rest because of the divine oath. This does not mean any inadequacy on God's part. He had completed his works from of old, in fact from the Creation. The writer is saying that God's rest was available from the time Creation was completed. The "rest" was thus the rest he himself enjoyed. The earthly rest in Canaan was no more than a type or symbol of this.

4 The writer does not precisely locate his quotation (Gen 2:2) but contents himself with the general "somewhere." Nor does he say who the speaker is, though once again it will be God, the author of all Scripture. Locating a passage precisely was not easy when scrolls were used; and unless it was important, there would be a tendency not to look it up. In the present case the important thing is that God said the words, not where and when they were spoken. The passage speaks of God as resting from his work on the seventh day.

It is worth noticing that in the creation story each of the first six days is marked by the refrain "And there was evening, and there was morning." However, this is lacking in the account of the seventh day. There we simply read that God rested from all his work. This does not mean that God entered a state of idleness, for there is a sense in which he is continually at work (John 5:17). But the completion of creation marks the end of a magnificent whole. There was nothing to add to what God had done, and he entered a rest from creating, a rest marked by the knowledge that everything that he had made was very good (Gen 1:31). So we should think of the rest as something like the satisfaction that comes from accomplishment, from the completion of a task, from the exercise of creativity.

5 The writer adds a second quotation (Psalm 95:11). It is one that is central to his argument at this point. As here, he often uses "again" where a further quotation is added to a preceding one (e.g., 1:5; 2:13; 10:30). In this case, however, it does more than that; it introduces a second point in the argument. The first passage said that God rested (and by implication that the rest was open to those who would enter it); the second passage said that the Israelites did not enter that rest because God's judgment fell on them. So the way is prepared for later steps in the argument.

6-7 "It still remains" misses some of the force of the original, which is rather: "Since therefore it remains...." The argument moves along in logical sequence. Some will enter that rest because it is unthinkable that God's plan should fail of fulfillment. If God prepared a rest for humanity to enter into, then they will enter into it. Perhaps those originally invited would not do so, for there is often something of the conditional about God's promises. This is not to say that one is to fear that these promises will not be kept. It is precisely the force of the present argument that nothing can stop the promises from being kept. But they must always be appropriated by faith. There is no other way of laying hold on them. So if one does not approach the promises by faith, he does not obtain what God offers and the offer is made to others. Some, then, must enter God's rest; but the first recipients of the Good News (cf. comment on v. 2) did not.

The writer concentrates on two generations only: the wilderness generation and his contemporaries. There had been other generations who might have appropriated the promise. But the focus is on the first generation who set the pattern of unbelief and then on the writer's generation, who alone at that time had the opportunity of responding to God's invitation. All the intervening generations had ceased to be and could be ignored for the purpose of the argument.
The reason the first group did not enter God's rest was "their disobedience." The word apeitheia ("disobedience") is always used in the NT of disobeying God, often with the thought of the gospel in mind; so it comes close to the meaning disbelief (cf. v. 11; Rom 11:30). Because the first generation had passed the opportunity by, God set another day. The idea that the wilderness generation was finally rejected was one the rabbis found hard to accept. In their writings we find statements such as the following: "Into this resting-place they will not enter, but they will enter into another resting-place" (Mid Qoheleth 10.20.1). The rabbis also had a parable of a king who swore in anger that his son would not enter his palace. But when he calmed down, he pulled down his palace and built another, so fulfilling his oath and at the same time retaining his son (ibid.). Thus the rabbis expressed their conviction that somehow those Israelites would be saved. The author, however, has no such reservations about the wilderness generation. They disobeyed God and forfeited their place. Psalm 95 was written long after that generation had failed to use its opportunity and had perished. Its use of the term "Today" shows that the promise had never been claimed and was still open. The voice of God still called. The author has already used the quotation in 3:7ff. (cf. comments). But its point this time is the word "Today." There is still a day of opportunity, even though the fate of the wilderness generation stands as an impressive witness to the possibility of spiritual disaster.

8 The form of the Greek sentence indicates a contrary-to-fact condition: "If Joshua had given them rest [as he did not], God would not have spoken later about another day [as he did]." The name "Joshua" is the Hebrew form of the Greek name "Jesus." "Joshua" is a good way of rendering the text, as it makes clear to the English reader who is in mind. The Greek text, however, says "Jesus"; and both the writer and his original readers would have been mindful of the connection with the name of Christ, even though the emphasis in the passage lies elsewhere. There had been a "Jesus" who could not lead his people into the rest of God just as there was another "Jesus" who could.

9 The sentence begins with the inferential ara ("so," "as a result"). What follows is the logical consequence of what precedes. The term "Sabbath-rest" (sabbatismos) is not attested before this passage and looks like the author's own coinage. He did not have a word for the kind of rest he had in mind; so he made one up. There were various kinds of "rest." There was, for example, the kind Israel was to get in its own land when it had rest from wars (Deut 25:19). When the psalmist wrote Psalm 95, he knew firsthand what this kind of rest in Palestine meant, and he still looked for "rest." So this is not what the author of Hebrews had in mind.

Buchanan has a long note on rest in which he surveys a number of opinions and rejects all spiritualizing interpretations. He thinks that many scholars read their own ideas into "rest"; and he thinks it impossible for the word to be used in a nonnational, nonmaterial sense: "They were probably expecting a rest that was basically of the same nature as Israelites had anticipated all along" (in loc.). But surely this is precisely what the author is rejecting. He knew that Israel had been in its own land for centuries. There had been quite long periods of peace and independence. Yet the promise of rest still remained unfulfilled.

Jesus spoke of quite another kind of rest—rest for the souls of men (Matt 11:28-30). This is nearer to what the author means. We might also notice an idea of the rabbis. The Mishnah explains the use of Psalm 92 (a psalm headed "A Psalm: A Song for the Sabbath") in these terms: "A Psalm, a song for the time that is to come, for the day that shall be all Sabbath and rest in the life everlasting" (Tamid 7:4). This is the kind of rest the author refers to, though his idea is not the rabbinic one. He links rest with the original Sabbath, with what God did when he finished Creation and what Christians are called into. This, then, is a highly original view, not simply an old idea refurbished. The author sees the rest as for "the people of God"—an expression found elsewhere in the NT only in 11:25 (though 1 Peter 2:10 is similar, and expressions like "my people" occur several times). In the OT "the people of God" is the nation of Israel, but in the NT it signifies believers. The rest the author writes about is for such people. Others cannot enter into it. This is not so much on account of a law or rule denying them entrance as that they shut themselves out by disobedience and unbelief.

10 We now have a description of at least part of what the rest means. The writer reverts to the word for rest he has been using earlier instead of the "Sabbath-rest" of v. 9. To enter rest means to cease from one's own work, just as God ceased from his. There are uncertainties here. Some think the reference is to Jesus, who would certainly fit the description except for the "anyone" (which is a reasonable interpretation of the Gr.). But the general reference is there, and we must take it to refer to the believer.

The question then arises whether the rest takes place here and now, or (as Kent, for example, holds) after death, as seen in Revelation 14:13: "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord ... they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them." Bruce thinks it is "an experience which they do not enjoy in their present mortal life, although it belongs to them as a heritage, and by faith they may live in the good of it here and now" (in loc.). I should reverse his order and say that they live in it here and now by faith, but what they know here is not the full story. That will be revealed in the hereafter. There is a sense in which to enter Christian salvation means to cease from one's works and rest securely on what Christ has done. And there is a sense in which the works of the believer, works done in Christ, have about them that completeness and sense of fulfillment that may fitly be classed with the rest in question.
 
Notes
1 There is a variety of constructions with ἐπαγγελία (epangelia, "promise"). The genitive may denote the one who makes the promise (Rom 4:20), the one to whom the promise is given (Rom 15:8), or the thing promised (Heb 9:15). Or the genitive "of promise" may be added to a noun, as in "land of promise" = "promised land" (11:9). This seems to be the only place where a following infinitive gives the content of the promise. The tense of ὑστερηκέναι (hysterekenai, "fallen short") is perfect, which points to a permanent condition. It is not a past defeat or a present momentary failure but a continuing failure.

3 Καίτοι (kaitoi) is rare in the NT John 4:2; Acts 14:17). The use here with a following genitive absolute is not classical. The meaning is "and yet."
The writer does not use κτίσις (ktisis), the usual word for "creation," but καταβολή (katabole), which means a "throwing down." Among other things it is used of laying foundations; and in the NT it is generally used, as here, of the foundation of the world and thus the Creation.

7 Ἐν Δαυὶδ (en Dauid, "in David") is an example of the instrumental ἐν (en). God used David as his means or instrument. David is not mentioned as the author of this psalm in the Hebrew, but he is in the LXX.

9 Ἄρα (ara) is found in Hebrews only again at 12:8. It does not begin a clause in the classics as it does quite often in the NT. It is an inferential particle meaning "so, as a result."

D. Exhortation to Enter the Rest (4:11-13)
The idea of the rest of God is not simply a piece of curious information not readily accessible to the rank and file of Christians. It is a spur to action. So the writer proceeds to exhort his readers to make that rest their own.

11 It is possible that this verse should be attached to the preceding paragraph but it seems meant to introduce an exhortation based on the penetrating power of the Word of God. Notice that the writer includes himself with his readers in urging a quick and serious effort to enter the rest "so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience." Paul refers to the same generation to hammer home a similar lesson, and he regards the wilderness happenings as types (1Cor 10:1-12; cf. typikos, "examples," v. 11). These earlier people had perished. Let the readers beware!"

VI) [BELIEVERS OF THE CHURCH AGE WILL BE CAUGHT UP TO THE CLOUDS TO MEET THE LORD IN THE AIR AND BE BROUGHT BACK TO HEAVEN WITH HIM]

A) PAUL EXPERIENCED THE THIRD HEAVEN / PARADISE IN HIS TEMPORAL LIFE

1) [2 Cor 12:2-4 (NASB)]:

2  "I a man in Christ who fourteen years ago - whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows - such a man was caught up to the third heaven.

3  And I know how such a man - whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows  -

4  was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak."

a) [2 Cor 12:2-4) Expositor's Bible Commentary]:

"2-4 None of the visions recorded in Acts can be identified with the vision or revelation related here, since it occurred fourteen years before the time of writing (A.D. 56)—that is, c. A.D. 43 by inclusive reckoning, during the ten so-called "silent years" (A.D. 35-45) that Paul spent in Syria and Cilicia (Gal 1:21) and that Acts says nothing about. (But note Acts 9:30; 11:25.)

Is Paul recounting his own experience when he writes enigmatically, "I know a man in Christ... he heard... "? Undoubtedly so, for several reasons: (1) He knew the exact time the revelation took place (v. 2) and that its content was beyond words even if it were permissible to try to communicate it (v. 4). (2) The revelation was directly related to the receipt of a "thorn," which was given, says Paul, "to me" (v. 7). (3) The reference to a lack of awareness whether he was in the body or not (vv. 2, 3) points to a personal experience. (4) Paul would be unlikely to feel embarrassment (cf. v. 1) about boasting on another person's behalf (cf. v. 5a). (5) For Paul to relate a remarkable experience that happened to some Christian unknown to the Corinthians but known to Paul would scarcely fit the context.

The scene of the vision was the "hidden Paradise" of Jewish thought (see note), the abode of the righteous dead that is here located within the third heaven (literally, "... as far as [heos] the third heaven... into [eis] Paradise," vv. 2b, 4a; cf. 2 Enoch 8:1). If Paul was quite certain of the location of the vision, he was equally uncertain about whether the experience happened to him in his body or apart from it, (vv. 2b, 3b). Consciousness of God totally eclipsed any awareness of the physical world of space and time, removing any consciousness of embodiment. The suddenness of Paul's loss of any sense of physical orientation is suggested by the verb harpazein (vv. 2, 4), that denotes a sudden rapture, not a gradual ascent (cf. its use in Acts 8:39 of Philip, and in 1 Thess 4:17 of believers at the Parousia).

What Paul heard (and saw?), human words were inadequate to relate (v. 4b). What is more, he was not permitted to try to share the content of the revelation, perhaps because it had been designed for him alone, to fortify him for future service and sufferings (Acts 9:16; Rom 8:18). Glimpses the NT does give of the coming glory are aimed at strengthening faith and promoting holiness (cf. 2 Peter 3:10-14; 1 John 3:2, 3), not at satisfying curiosity."

B) BELIEVERS OF THE CHURCH AGE BOTH DEAD AND ALIVE WILL BE CAUGHT UP TO THE CLOUDS TO MEET THE LORD IN THE AIR AND BE BROUGHT BACK TO HEAVEN WITH HIM

1) [1 Thes 4:13-18 ]:

(1 Thes 4:13 NASB) "But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope.

(1 Thes 4:14 NASB) For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.

(1 Thes 4:15 NKJV) For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming [Gk: parousian" = appearing] of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep.

(1 Thes 4:16 NKJV) For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.

(1 Thes 4:17 NASB) Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.

(1 Thes 4:18 NKJV) Therefore comfort one another with these words."

a) BELIEVERS WHO ARE ALIVE ON THE EARTH AND THOSE WHO ARE ASLEEP WILL BE CAUGHT UP FROM THE EARTH INTO CHRIST'S PRESENCE INTO THE CLOUDS IN THE AIR - EVIDENTLY AS A RESCUE FROM THE COMING WRATH - THIS IS NOT THE SECOND COMING

(v. 1:10) "and to wait for His Son from heaven, Whom He raised from the dead--Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath." (v. 4:15) "According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. (v. 4:16) For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. (v. 4:17) After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. (v. 4:18 NKJV) Therefore comfort one another with these words."

" =

Nothing is stipulated in v. 4:17 as to the Lord touching down upon the earth, nor bringing believers from heaven to earth, (v. 3:13), nor ending the wrath in His Second Coming.

On the other hand, the opposite is in view in 4:17: catching up of believers from the earth into the clouds in the air to be brought for the first time into His presence to rescue them from the coming wrath, (cf. v. 1:10).

Evidently the appearing in 4:17 is the rescue of believers from the coming wrath which includes resurrection of believers who are asleep in the Lord. Neither alive nor dead in Christ believers are in the Lord's presence when he appears to rescue them. On the other hand, 1 Thess 3:13 stipulates that believers accompany Him in this Second Coming. So the appearing in 4:17 is not the Lord's Second Coming, for believers were not yet present with Him.

i) [Compare 1 Thes 1:8-10]:

(v. 8) "Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.

(v. 9) For they themselves [believers everywhere] report what kind of reception you gave us [Paul, Silas and Timothy, (v. 1)]. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God,

(v. 10) and to wait for His Son from heaven, Whom He raised from the dead - Jesus, Who rescues us from the coming wrath."

"Who rescues us from the coming wrath" =

"Ton ..........rhuomenon ..........hEmas appo tEs orgEs tEs erchomenEs."

"The One ..delivering .............us ........from the wrath .......coming."

The wrath in view is not an eternal wrath because it is not so described; rather it is described as an imminent one coming to the earth:

"And to wait [while on the earth] for His Son from heaven, Whom He raised from the dead - Jesus, Who rescues us from the coming wrath", (v. 1:10). This coming wrath is portrayed in 1:10 as that which may occur during the Thessalonian believers' mortal lifetimes from which our Lord is coming to rescue those alive on the earth at the time. Believers in mortal bodies on the earth are therefore to wait to be rescued by Jesus from this coming wrath, evidently to occur on the earth. Neither avoiding nor being protected from God's temporal wrath while remaining on the earth nor eternal wrath is what would be described as "being rescued from the coming wrath" which one would wait for Jesus on the earth to rescue them from, as some contend. Eternal Wrath is not described as 'the coming wrath' to the earth - the seven year Tribulation period. All those who are destined for Eternal Wrath will be brought to God's Judgment and subjected to it there, and not on the earth as some contend the latter.

Furthermore, there have been and will be demonsrations of God's temporal wrath on the earth which may or may not be avoided by individuals on the earth. None of these demonstrations however are in view in 1:10 because avoidance or protection from wrath while remaining on the earth is not the same thing as having the Lord Jesus come to rescue one from it. The next notable wrath of God is not His eternal wrath, but His final temporal wrath on the earth - the seven year Tribulation period. So God's final temporal wrath on the earth which those mortal believers alive at the time will be rescued from is in view.

Notice that the phrase "Who rescues [lit., "The One delivering] us from the coming wrath" is in view as opposed to being 'preserved' or 'protected from' the coming wrath. The word "rescues" has in view a physical removal of believers from the planet as opposed to remaining on it and being protected or preserved while still being exposed to God's wrath as it crashes all around them, as some contend.

Being rescued from a burning building is not to remain in the building and stay exposed to the flames yet preserved from burning, but to be removed from the building entirely. Scripture describes God's final earthly wrath to consist of anarchy, fires, contamination of water and land, destruction of human, plant and animal life, earthquakes, volcanoes, wars, pestilence - all on a never before experienced worldwide scale from which one could not be rescued without removal from the planet.

Verses 1:8-10 address the sure hope of the rescue from God's final temporal wrath of believers who are alive on earth which in Paul's perspective may or may not occur in the lifetime of the Thessalonian believers addressed by him in this epistle, before the final earthly wrath of God share. This is what the word "hope" was referring to in 4:13 wherein believers but not "the rest of men" will be rescued from the coming worldwide wrath on the earth by the Son of God for Whom they wait to come from heaven to rescue them from exposure to that worldwide wrath. This implies a transformation into resurrection bodies and removal of the believers from the planet into Christ's presence until the wrath is over. This is affirmed in vv. 4:13-17 in view of mortal believers being caught up into the clouds in the air, an uninhabitable location unless there were such a transformation.

ii) [Compare 1 Thes 2:19 KJV]:

"For what [is] our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? [Are] not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His appearing?"

"Tis ....gar hEmOn elpis E ..chara E ..stephanos kauchEseOs E ..ouchi .....kai

"What for. is our ....here or .joy ....or .crown ......boasting? .....Or .are not .even

humeis emprosthen ...........tou kuriou hEmOn iEsou en tE autou parousia

you ......before ...........................Lord....our .......Jesus .at.......His ...appearing, Coming.

............in the presence of

Notice that at the Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in 2:19, believers will already be in His presence which is stipulated as their "hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing." On the other hand, verse 1:10 previously stipulated that Jesus is coming to rescue believers from the coming worldwide earthly wrath implying transformation into resurrection bodies and removal of the believers from the planet bringing them into and keeping them in His presence until the wrath is over. After this our Lord returns in His Second Coming to the surface of the earth with church age believers who will ever be in His presence.

iii) [Compare 1 Thes 3:13]:

"To the end he may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints."

"all His saints" = Gk, "hagios", "lit. "set apart ones" in this context, to Jesus Christ, believers

So 1 Thes 1:10 depicts a coming, (Gk = "parousia" = lit., an appearing) of Jesus Christ wherein believers who are physically alive on the earth at the time are awaiting His appearing "in the clouds" and "in the air," evidently not on the surface of the earth, (v. 4:17), and not yet in His presence - at which time when He comes, He will rescue them from the coming wrath and bring them into His presence.

Verse 2:19 indicates that believers will be present with the Lord Jesus Christ when He comes to touch down upon the earth at His Second Coming. Evidently they have been in His presence since they were rescued, (1:10). Then in verse 3:13 we have in view the Second Coming of our Lord to the surface of the earth already with the saints who are accompanying Him as He comes from heaven to the earth. Evidently the saints were in His presence at this Coming beforehand, having already been rescued and brought into His presence before the wrath began, (1:10). Hence we have a Second Coming to end the wrath which began after His previous appearing to rescue the saints from the earth by removing them from the earth to remain in His presence until the wrath is ended. Since a Coming of our Lord a second time directly to the earth as He did the first time is defined as His Second Coming, then we might conclude that the coming of our Lord to rescue believers from the coming wrath is a different kind of coming, as were His appearances, i.e., comings to the earth in OT times, and was not directly to the earth as corroborated later in the passage in 4:13-18.

VII) FAITHFUL BELIEVERS WILL HAVE THE RIGHT TO ENJOY THE FRUIT OF THE TREE OF LIFE 

A) [Rev 22:12-15]:

(v. 12) "[Jesus said] 'Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with Me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.

(v. 13) I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End

(v. 14) Blessed are those who wash their robes,

[***alt: blessed are they that do His commandments]

that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city."

(v. 15) Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood."

***The manuscripts that the King James Translators favored read 'poiountes tas entolas autou', rendered ..'that keep on doing His commandments', but other manuscripts read 'plunontes tas stolas auton', rendered 'that keep on washing their robes'.

1) [Bruce M Metzger, United Bible Societies, states, ('The Textual Commentary on The Greek New Testament' states, p. 767)]:

" 'poiountes tas entolas autou' =

[This] reading ['keep...commandments'] appears to be a scribal emendation [alteration for 'improvement'], for elsewhere the author uses the expression 'tapein tas entolas' [= also 'keep...commandments']. Moreover, the prepossessions [predispositions] of the scribes would have favored 'poiountes tas entolas' ['keep on doing His commandments'] rather than 'plunontes tas stolas' ['keep on washing their robes']."

2) [Dr. Henry M. Morris states, [Back To Genesis Brochure #118, Oct. 1998 in an article entitled 'THE TREE OF LIFE', Institute for Creation Research, El Cajon, Ca. 92021]:

a) (Rev 22:14)

(Rev 22:14 NASB) "Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city."

The marvelous Tree of Life will be planted once again 'in the midst of the paradise of God' in the new earth which God will create some day and 'they that do His commandments' will then 'have right to the Tree of Life' (Revelation 2:7, 22:14).

And note its remarkable character! 'On either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations' (Revelation 22:2).

Not just one Tree of Life as in the original Garden of Eden, but many such trees will be planted there with their beautiful and nutritious fruits, freely available to all who 'do His commandments' - that is, to everyone in the holy city. The fruit will be different every month, but always 'pleasant to the sight, and good for food.'

[Note the incidental reference to 'months.' Time had a beginning when God created it (Genesis 1:1), but it will have no end. The words 'time no longer' in Revelation 10:6 are in the sense of 'delay no longer.']

Furthermore, its leaves will also be of great value, since they are for 'the healing of the nations.' This cannot mean that, without these healing leaves the people in these 'nations of them which are saved' (Revelation 21:24) would otherwise become sick and die because God has assured us that in the holy city, 'there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be anymore pain: for the former things are passed away' (Revelation 21:4). The leaves will not be needed to heal sickness anymore that the fruit of that original Tree of Life in Eden was needed to prevent death.

It is significant that the Greek word translated 'healing' in this verse (therapeia) is translated 'household' in Matthew 24:45 and Luke 12:42, referring to the staff of servants employed in keeping the affairs of a great house running efficiently. It is the source of our English word 'therapy.' Thus, the leaves of the tree will be for the 'therapy,' or the effective services, of the nations in the new earth. As the fruits of the tree will surely contain many nutrients for happy vigorous service by Christ's servants in the ages to come (Revelation 22:3), so its leaves will contain a complex of chemical substances useful in the occupations and general economy of those ages.

It is pointless to speculate as to the exact nature of the Tree of Life, for God has not told us, and there is no tree like it in the present world. The same is true with reference to the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. God is well able to create any kind of tree He wishes, and we do well to leave it at that!

Because of the marvelous nature of the Tree of Life, however, the writer(s) of Proverbs used it (under divine inspiration of course) as a symbol of four wonderful truths.

First, the true wisdom 'is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her' (Proverbs 3:18). That true wisdom can be none other than Christ (1 Corinthians 1:30, Colossians 2:3).

Second, 'the fruit of the righteous is a tree of life' (Proverbs 11:30). Indeed, 'the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth' (Ephesians 5:9). A life such as that will be like a tree of life to all who encounter it.

Third, 'when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life' (Proverbs 13:12). That is, fulfilled hope, like true wisdom and righteousness is so vitalizing as to be a source of renewed vigorous life.

Fourth, 'a wholesome tongue is a tree of life' (Proverbs 15:4). Therefore, 'let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man' (Colossians 4:6).

We can eagerly, yet patiently and fruitfully, look forward to enjoying the delicious, nourishing fruit of the tree of Life in the holy city some day. In the meantime, we can pray that God will help us to be like little, life-giving trees ourselves through growing in true wisdom, living righteously, offering hope to the lost in our midst, and using our God-given abilities of communication graciously and meaningfully to all those we meet.

3) [Bob Wilkin states, 'Who Are The Outsiders? Revelation 22:14-17']:

'''This article is a follow-up to my article in the last issue on Rev 21:8. Some pastors and theologians use Rev 21:8 and 22:15 to try and prove that all "true" Christians persevere in the faith. In my previous article I showed that Rev 21:8 does not support that view. In this article I will show the same things regarding Rev 22:14.
a) [Rev 22:14]:

(v. 15) "Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city."

i) Rewards For Faithful Believers

In light of the context, it is obvious that believers are in view here. However, it is a mistake to conclude that all believers are meant. Not all believers can be described as "those who do His commandments." Jesus did not take it for granted that even the Apostles would obey Him! He said to them, "If you love Me, keep my commandments" John 14:15), and, "You are My friends if you do whatever I command you" (John 15:14). Similarly, in Revelation chapters 2-3 the Lord makes it clear that being a victorious overcoming believer is not guaranteed (see, for example, 2:2-7, 10, 25-28; 3:11-12).

Two things are promised to the one who obeys the Lord as a characteristic pattern of life (no one obeys perfectly, cf. 1 John 1:8, 10):

(1) the right to the tree of life and

(2) the right to enter into the New Jerusalem through its gates. At first reading these may seem to be things which are true of all believers. However, that is not the case.

ii) What Is The "Right To The Tree Of Life?"

It is the right to eat its fruits.

ii_a) [Compare Rev 2:7]:

"To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life."

Keep in mind that nothing is required for an eternally-secure person to remain saved. It is ridiculous to think that believers will need to eat fruit from the tree of life to retain their spiritual life.

What then is to be gained by eating this fruit? On the one hand, this fruit will be a wonderful delicacy which will be a delight to eat. On the other hand, the tree is called "the tree of life" for a reason. It will evidently grant to the believer who eats of it a special abundance of life. Today when we eat foods that are good for us we feel especially energized and encouraged. This will certainly be true of the food from the tree of life!

It is true, of course, that the tree of life was in the Garden of Eden as well. However, its fruit would not have had the same effect on fallen people with unglorified bodies as it will have in eternity on saints with glorified bodies. The tree of life will only grant abundant life to those with glorified bodies. According to Gen 3:22 the reason God removed Adam from the garden was "lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life and live forever." Had he eaten that fruit Adam would have lived forever in a state of separation from God (spiritual death). Of course, since the tree of life was never intended for that terrible purpose, God took it away from man until the eternal kingdom.

The second reward to the obedient believer is the right to enter the New Jerusalem by its gates. Several things must be born in mind here. For one thing, most likely all believers will be going in and out of the New Jerusalem from time to time. Some believers in eternity will have their primary dwelling in the New Jerusalem. Surely those people will sometimes venture outside its walls, visit the rest of the new earth, and return. And, many saints will not live in the New Jerusalem! According to Rev 21:24 the new earth will contain many nations and the kings of those nations will travel to the New Jerusalem to take tribute to the King of kings. It is likely that all who live in these nations will make trips to the New Jerusalem.

For another thing, the gates will not be the only way by which someone could enter the city. For example, people might travel by air, flying over the walls. Or, they might come in on a subway, going under the walls. It is even conceivable in light of John 20 that people might travel right through the walls!

Finally, we know from the OT that the gates of ancient cities were places of honor. The respected elders of the community were allowed to sit in the gates and it was from there that they rendered judgments in legal matters (cf. Gen 19:1; 22:17; Deut 22:15; 25:7; Ruth 4:1-12).

Thus being able to eat of the tree of life and to enter the New Jerusalem by its gates will be rewards reserved solely for believers who were victorious in their experience in this life.

b) [Rev 22:15]:

(v. 15) "Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood."

i) Exclusion For All Unbelievers

[Wilkin, cont.]

"Verse 15 says, 'But outside are the dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.'

While the word outside might sound like it refers to those outside the New Jerusalem but yet still on the new earth, that is clearly not the case. The Lord is speaking of those who are entirely outside the kingdom.

Three lines of evidence suggest this interpretation. First, there will be no sinners in the eternal kingdom. None. Verse 15 is describing the condition of people at that time, not their experience in this life. No believer with a glorified body could be described as being a dog, a sorcerer, a sexually immoral person, a murderer, an idolater, or a liar. While those things were true of giants of the faith like David (2 Samuel) and Solomon (1 Kings 11) in their experiences prior to death, they could never be true of saints with glorified bodies.

Second, Rev 21:27 says that only those whose names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life will enter "it." The word it there most naturally refers to the kingdom since there will be no one anywhere on the New Earth whose name is not written in the Lamb's Book of Life. All such people will be in the lake of fire (cf. Rev 20:15).

Third, Rev 21:8 refers to many of the same sins as mentioned in Rev 22:15 (i.e., murderers, sexually immoral, idolaters, and liars) and it clearly assigns the fate of people so designated as "the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."

ii) Unbelievers will forever remain unjustified sinners who are forever excluded from God's Eternal kingdom.
c) [Rev 22:17]:

"The Spirit and the bride say, 'Come!' And let him who hears say, 'Come!' Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.'"

i) Inclusion For Those Who Believe

[Wilkin, cont.]:

'''Verse 17 reads, "And the Spirit and the bride say, 'Come!' And let him who thirst come. And whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely."

Here once again is the free offer of eternal life. In the closing verses of the NT we find another free offer of the water of life. No strings are attached.

Not only is there no reason to interpret v. 15 as teaching that all "true" believers will persevere, but such an interpretation is directly contradicted by v. 17. Eternal life is free!

d) Conclusion

Revelation 22:15 in no way proves that all Christians live obedient, victorious lives. Neither does it prove that no Christian will be a murderer or a liar or an adulterer. It doesn't have anything to do with those issues at all. What it is saying is that the kingdom will contain no sinners. As John says, "When He is revealed, [then] we shall be like Him" (1 John 3:2). Amen! "Even so, come, Lord Jesus!" (Rev 22:20).'''
i) [Rev 22:18-19]:

(Rev 22:18 NASB) "I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book;"

[Evidently the canon of Scripture is closed for this age, it being the last book of the 66 books of the Bible]

e) [Compare Rev. 22:19 (KJV)]:

"And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book."

f) Rev 22:19) [ (NIV)]:

"19 And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book."

i) Book Of Life Vs Tree Of Life

The Greek manuscript evidence for the reading "book of life" (biblou tes zoes) is hard to trace, for although it appears in the Textus Receptus, another reading, "tree of life" (tou xulou tes zoes), is in UBS-4 (without comment) and in the Majority Text in the NKJV Interlinear, (not the NKJV version / translation); the Greek "xulou" is rendered as "tree" which is in the main body of p. 898 but with a footnote "TR has "biblou" rendered book.

Tree of life" appears outside this passage a total of three times: 2:7, 22:2, and 22:14. The "tree" appears to be a symbol of reward, while the "book" is symbolic of a person's very salvation. Notice the difference between 2:7 and 3:5 --the former pictures a believer who has already entered the holy city and is receiving fruit from the tree as a reward, while the latter pictures one just getting to enter the city (putting on "white raiment," which is the preparation for entering into His joys; cf. Matt. 22:11) and being assured of his entrance in the words, "I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels."

For the book of Revelation Erasmus borrowed a copy from his friend Reuchlin, dating from the twelfth century, this lacked the final leaf, which had contained the last six verses of the book. For these verses Erasmus depended upon Jerome's Latin Vulgate, translating these verses into Greek. The corruption of "tree" into "book" had occured earlier in the translation of the Latin text when a scribe accidentally miscopied the correct word "lingo" ("tree") as "libro" ("book").

i_a) [William W. Combs, ERASMUS AND THE TEXTUS RECEPTUS *

http://www.dbts.edu/media/journals/1996_1/ERASMUS.PDF

"Because Codex 1r was missing its last page and thus the last six verses of Revelation (22:16–21), Erasmus retranslated these verses from the Latin Vulgate, and he honestly admitted in the Annotationes that he had done so. But again, this produced, by my count, twenty errors in his Greek NT which are still in the TR today. They have no Greek manuscript support whatsoever."

The 'Tree of Life' rendering in Rev 22:19 does create a problem if it is the correct one because it implies that if you make a purposeful doctrinal error then you go to hell. Now how many doctrinal errors have you and I committed, purposefully - can you say you have a perfect record in understanding the bible? The rest of the bible teaches that the only way to not have a part in the Book of Life is to not believe in Christ as Savior. So I might expect to miss out on a full sharing in the Tree of Life. But Eph 1:13-14 [which states, 13 "In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation - having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14  Who is given as a pledge of our [eternal life] inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory;" implying that I will not miss out in my share in the Book of Life. Funny term: share in the Book of Life rather than being written in or not written in. The context screams Tree not Book. There is no sharing in the Book of Life, you are either written in or not at the end of time, which determines your eternal destiny: heaven or hell, respectively.

Some say "Book of Life" is found in the Greek manuscripts noted by H. C. Hoskier as 57 and 141.

i_b) [H. C. Hoskier, Concerning The Text Of The Apocalypse, London: Quaritch, 1929; vol. 1, 474-477 and vol. 2, 454 and 634.) ]:

(info. received from Debbie Hunn, Dallas Theological Seminary Library, 3909 Swiss Ave Dallas TX 75204 phone: 214-841-3752 fax: 214-841-3745 dhunn@dts.edu):

'''Hoskier's second volume, p. 634, does use "book of life" instead of "tree of life." '''

This is the (Greek) text of Stephen's third edition of 1550, the text with which all Hoskier's collations are made. However, Hoskier's lists manuscript evidence for "tree" and does not appear to list much evidence for "book." '''

[Note that the King James Version has "book of life" because of reliance upon the Textus Receptus which accepts the Vulgate Latin for lack of Greek manuscript evidence at the time that Erasmus' manuscript evidence was used to compile the KJV translation. The New King James follows the old King James pretty closely, so it has "Book" but it also offers a cross reference in the text as a footnote in the margin which stipulates that the NU and Maj texts read "Tree of life." On the other hand, the New King James Interlinear offers just the opposite emphasis on "Tree of life" with a footnote, "TR has book" in the margin which marginalizes "Book of life as actually found in Greek manuscripts as representative of the original text.

So there is some manuscript evidence for "Book." But it appears to be so small that the Nestle-Aland critical text (ed. xxvii) does not even mention it, nor does the UBS. Manuscript evidence for "Tree," includes WH, NU, Sinaiticus, A, P, Gries, Lach, Treg, Alf, Word, Tisc, Weis, Sod, UBS and various versions as opposed to Steph, it(e), Vg(MSS) which has "Book."]

VIII) BELIEVERS CAN EXPECT TO EXPERIENCE OTHER ETERNAL PLEASURES IN HEAVEN DEPENDING UPON THEIR FAITHFULNESS

A) [Psalm 16:10-11 (NASB)]:

10  "For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol; Nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay. 

11  You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever."

IX) BELIEVER'S ETERNAL DESTINY IS TO AWAKEN FROM DEATH AND BEHOLD GOD'S FACE IN RIGHTEOUSNESS AND BE SATISIFIED WITH HIS LIKENESS

A) [Psalm 17:13-15 (NASB)]:

13 "Arise, O LORD, confront him, bring him low; Deliver my soul from the wicked with Your sword,

14  From men with Your hand, O LORD, From men of the world, whose portion is in this life, And whose belly You fill with Your treasure; They are satisfied with children, And leave their abundance to their babes.

15  As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness; I will be satisfied with Your likeness when I awake."

X) BELIEVERS WILL DWELL IN THE HOUSE OF THE LORD = HEAVEN FOREVER

A) [Psalm 23:6 (NASB)]:

6 "Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever."

B) [Matthew 8:11 (KJV)]:

11  "And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven."

XI) THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS PORTRAYED IN A NUMBER OF WAYS THROUHOUT SCRIPTURE

A) [Matthew 13:24-30; 34-43 (NASB)]:

1) Tares Among The Wheat = Unbelievers Among Believers 'Til The End Of The Age

24  "Jesus presented another parable to them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field.

25  "But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away.

26  "But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also.

27  "The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?'

28  "And he said to them, 'An enemy has done this!' The slaves *said to him, 'Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?'

29  "But he said, 'No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them.

30  'Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, "First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn."'"

30  Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.

34  All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables, and He did not speak to them without a parable.

35  This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: 'I Will Open My Mouth In Parables; I Will Utter Things Hidden Since The Foundation Of The World.' "

36  Then He left the crowds and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him and said, "Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field."

37  And He said, "The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man,

38  and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one;

39  and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels.

40  "So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age.

41  "The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness,

42  and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

43  "Then 'The Righteous Will Shine Forth As The Sun' in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear."

2) [(Mt 13:24-30) Expositor's Commentary on Mt 13:24-30 & 34-43 ]:

"24 Jesus paretheken ("told") the people another parable (lit., "he set another before them"). This verb is used in the NT only here and in v. 31 in the sense of teaching though that meaning is attested elsewhere. "Them" must be the crowd, not the disciples (cf. vv. 34, 36).

The kingdom of heaven is not "like a man" but "like the situation of a man who... ": the "is like" formula reflects an Aramaic idiom meaning "It is the case with X as with Y"... But the peculiar tense used here ... also implies that the kingdom has become like the situation of a man who, etc. 

25-26 "Sleeping" (v. 25) does not imply that the servants were neglectful but that the enemy was stealthy and malicious. What he sowed was zizania ("weeds" - almost certainly bearded darnel (lolium temulentum), which is botanically close to wheat and difficult to distinguish from it when the plants are young. The roots of the two plants entangle themselves around each other; but when the heads of grain appear on the wheat, there is no doubt which plant is which (v. 26). This weed the enemy sowed "among the wheat"; the Greek suggests thorough distribution. The growing plants gradually become identifiable, and the servants tell their master about the weeds.

27 ... The servants are not identified, their function in the parable is to elicit information from the owner. In v. 27 kyrios ("sir") has no special significance; but later Christian readers doubtless saw in it further evidence that the owner is the "Lord" Jesus. The interrogative pronoun pothen ("where") can refer to a person as well as to a location (cf. use in 13:54, 56; 21:25), as Jesus answer (13:28) presupposes.

28-30 The owner blames (v. 28) an enemy (lit., "a man [who is] an enemy": the construction occurs again in v. 52). But the owner forbids his servants from attempting to separate weed from wheat till the harvest (v. 29). Then, as the workers reap the field, only the wheat will be gathered; the weeds, apparently so plentiful they must first be gathered up and burned (v. 30 - though nothing is made of this point in vv. 40-42), contaminate the wheat no longer. "Harvest" is a common metaphor for the final judgment (see on 9:37-38). In this light the "good seed" (13:24) cannot be the "word" or "message" of vv. 19-23 but people who must face final judgment."

34 The Greek's chiasm puts the emphasis on parables: Jesus did not speak to the crowds without using them. The first verb is aorist (elalesen, "spoke"), referring to the situation at hand; the second is imperfect (elalei, "used to say"), implying that this was Jesus' constant custom. But choris paraboles ("without a parable") does not mean that he told nothing but parables to the crowd but that he said nothing to them without using parables. In short parables were an essential part of his spoken ministry.

35 The quotation is from Psalm 78:2 (LXX 77), a psalm of Asaph. In addition to two difficult textual variants (cf. Notes), the text form is notoriously difficult to resolve. The first line follows the LXX exactly; hence it uses the plural en parabolais ("in parables") to translate the Hebrew bemasal ("in a parable" or "in a wise saying"; for the meaning of these words, see on Mt 13:3a). But the singular is probably generic; so LXX has caught the main point. The second line means roughly the same thing as both LXX and MT but is quite independent. The verb ereuxomai (lit., "I belch forth," "I utter") is an etymological rendering of the MT and may have been chosen above the LXX's phthenxomai ("I will utter") simply because it is stronger (Goulder, Midrash, p. 371) and may indicate the richness of the revelation: "I will pour forth things hidden" (as in Ps 19:2 [LXX 18:3]). Matthew's kekrymmena ("things hidden") is likewise closer to the Hebrew hidot ("enigmas," "dark sayings") than LXX's problemata ("tasks," "problems").
But in what sense can Jesus' ministry in parables be said to be a fulfillment of Asaph's psalm? 

The problem does not arise just because the quotation is from a psalm: in 22:43-44 another psalm is quoted as prophecy. Matthew 11:11-13 has already established that the entire OT is in some sense prophetic (see on 2:15, 17-18; 5:17-20); and 2 Chronicles 29:30 attests that Asaph is a "seer." The problem arises rather in the way Psalm 78:2 is applied to Jesus. Contemporary NT scholars almost universally agree that Matthew has taken Psalm 78:2 badly out of context. Psalm 78 repeats Israel's well-known history, none of which is "mysterious" or "hidden." But Matthew presents Jesus as uttering hidden things. He speaks to the people in parables, in a hidden way, whereas his disciples are enlightened and understand all things. Thus, though Mark 4:33 presents Jesus using the parables to communicate as much truth to the crowds as they could understand, Matthew sees parables as a means of hiding the truth from the outsiders (so, more or less, Lindars, Apologetic, pp. 156-57; Kingsbury, Parables, pp. 88-90; Rothfuchs, pp. 78-80; Hill, Matthew; and others).

Despite its popularity, this approach misunderstands both Psalm 78 and Matthew 13. It is true that Psalm 78 recounts the known history of Israel, but there is no escaping the fact that Psalm 78:2 nevertheless finds the psalmist declaring that he will open his mouth "in parables, wise sayings," and pour forth hidot ("enigmas," "dark sayings"). The point is that though the history of the Jews, which Asaph relates, is well known, the psalmist selects the historical events he treats and brings them together in such a way as to bring out things that have been riddles and enigmas "from of old." The pattern of history is not self-evident; but the psalmist will show what it is really all about. He enlarges on God's might at the time of the Exodus and at other major turning points, a might exercised on behalf of his people. With these events the psalmist juxtaposes the people's persistent rebellion, the result being a vivid portrayal of God's justice and mercy and the people's obtuseness, need, and privilege.

The psalmist teaches all this by opening his mouth "in parables" (i.e., by comparing various things) and in so doing utters "things hidden from of old" (NIV)—"things we have heard and known, things our fathers have told us" (v. 3), yet enigmatic and hidden. They are "deep and hidden teachings, which the events of the past embrace" (Louis Jacquet, Les Psaumes, 3 vols. [Bruxelles: Duculot, 1975-81], 2:522). Thus the psalmist makes his deep points, as does Stephen in Acts 7, by comparing events in redemptive history.

We turn to Matthew 13:35 and discover a similar pattern. If Jesus pours forth things hidden from the beginning, does this mean that those things remain hidden, i.e., that Jesus pours forth teaching in so hidden a form that outsiders cannot understand them? That is what the popular interpretation of the passage requires; but its death knell is the final phrase: "from the beginning." Whatever that phrase means - NIV has "since the creation of the world" (cf. Notes) - it modifies kekrymmena ("things hidden"), the unavoidable implication being that those hidden things are no longer hidden since Jesus has revealed them. Otherwise Jesus is saying no more than this: "I will reveal things that have always been hidden so that they will remain hidden" - an unnatural way to take the sentence.

Apparently, then, as applied to Jesus the second line of the quotation pictures him as revealing things formerly hidden. This does not necessarily mean that he is teaching entirely new things any more than the psalmist was teaching such things. In both cases the patterns of redemptive history may be so stressed that when rightly interpreted they point toward new revelation - viz., they are fulfilled (see on 2:15; 5:17-20). This [admirably] suits 13:52: the "teacher of the law... instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old." But Jesus teaches these hitherto hidden things "in parables," i.e., by comparing various things. The parables of this chapter are not exactly like the comparisons and wise sayings offered in Psalm 78. Yet the term "parable" can embrace both kinds of utterance. So we must be careful not to impose on the text too narrow an understanding of what a parable is.

It follows that vv. 34-35 are much closer in thought to Mark 4:33-34 than is commonly believed. Jesus does teach the crowds, in parables, revealing new things. How much they understand is a different matter. Yet we have already seen that even Matthew 13:11-13 must not be taken to mean that in Matthew the parables for nondisciples are designed only to conceal. Actually they have a dual role, and here Matthew, rightly understanding the psalmist and reverting to the Hebrew from the LXX so as not to miss his desired nuance, insists that Jesus reveals new truth to the crowds.

But what are these "hidden things" Jesus is now uttering? In Psalm 78 they are "the righteous acts of God in redemption" (Linclars, Apologetic, p. 157). Likewise that is what Jesus is now revealing - the righteous acts of God in redemption taking place in his teaching, miracles, death, and resurrection. Matthew insists that the OT Scriptures prophesied these things. They are not novel. If in one sense they have not been known before, it is because they have not all been brought together in the same pattern before. Jesus' kingdom parables to the crowds declare new things secrets (Mt 13:11), hidden things (v. 35). Yet they are secret and new chiefly because they depend on an approach to Scripture not unlike Asaph's - bringing together various pieces of previous revelation into new perspectives. Thus Messiah is Son of David but also Suffering Servant. Jesus is the royal King and Son of David foreseen in Scripture (21:4-11) but also the stricken Shepherd equally foreseen in Scripture (26:31). Who clearly foresaw that both streams would merge in one person?

Taken as a whole, Jesus' parables preserve the expectation of the apocalyptic coming of Messiah. They also introduce a new pattern of an inaugurated kingdom that anticipates the Parousia. Moreover this pattern rests on Jesus' self-understanding as the Messiah who unites in himself streams of revelation from the old covenant that had not been so clearly united before.
The connection between Matthew 13:35 and Psalm 78:2 is thus very close. But what does Matthew mean when he says that Jesus' ministry of parables "fulfilled" the word spoken through the prophet? Elsewhere when psalms are treated as prophecies, there is normally - a Davidic typology, but not so here. A number of things probably led Matthew to this psalm. The phrase "in parables" may have drawn his attention to Psalm 78 but in itself that does not account for the notion of "fulfillment." But a second connection presents itself: it is possible that, as Psalm 78 recounts Israel's history, so Jesus is presented as the one who is the supreme embodiment of Israel and her history, the one who fulfills all the patterns of the OT regarding Israel. We have noticed this theme before in Matthew, though it is stronger in the fourth Gospel.
But there may be a third and more subtle factor. Matthew understands that "prophecy" does not necessarily predict the future; it may reveal hidden things (cf. 26:68 with parallels in Mark and Luke). This sense of "prophecy" and its predictive sense "converge" in a passage like 11:13, where, as we have seen, the entire OT Scripture, both Law and Prophets "prophesy" - i.e., they comprehend certain patterns, types, predictions, declarations, which cumulatively look forward to him who "fulfills" them. Now in Psalm 78 Asaph claims to be explaining such earlier patterns in redemptive history; but in so doing, from a NT perspective he is also himself becoming a constituent element of the recorded redemptive history the NT explains. As such Psalm 78 becomes part of the "Law and Prophets" that prophesy. If part of this sacred record interprets and brings new truth out of an earlier part, it establishes a pattern that looks to one who will interpret and bring new truth out of the whole. Jesus, Matthew claims, fulfills that role and in exercising it in his own parabolic teaching."

B) [Matthew 13:31-32 (NASB)]:

1) KINGDOM OF GOD IS LIKE A MUSTARD SEED

31  "He presented another parable to them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field;

32  and this is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that 'The Birds Of The Air' come and 'Nest In Its Branches.' "

a) [(Mt 13:31-32) Bible Knowledge Commentary]:

"13:31-32. Another parable Jesus presented to the crowd likened the kingdom of heaven to a mustard seed. This seed was in fact the smallest of the garden seeds known. (Orchard seeds, though smaller, were unknown in that part of the world.) Also "small as a mustard seed" was a proverb by which people then referred to something unusually small (e.g., "faith as small as a mustard seed," 17:20).

Though its seed is so small, a mustard plant grows to a great height (12-15 feet!) in one season, and is a nesting place for the birds of the air. Jesus did not directly interpret this parable. However, its meaning may be ... a small beginning but would grow rapidly into a large entity."

C) [Mt 13:33-52]:

1) THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS LIKE LEAVEN

"33  He spoke another parable to them, "The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened." 

34  All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables, and He did not speak to them without a parable.

35  This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: "I Will Open My Mouth In Parabes; I Will Utter Things Hidden Since The Foundation Of The World.' "

36  Then He left the crowds and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him and said, "Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field."

37  And He said, "The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man,

38  and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one;

39  and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels.

40 So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age.

41 The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness,

42 and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

43  Then 'The Righteous Will Shine Forth As The Sun' in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.

2) THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS LIKE A TRESURE HIDDEN IN THE FIELD

44 The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field."

3) THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS LIKE A MERCHANT SEEKING FINE PEARLS

45  "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls,

46  and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.

4) THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS LIKE A DRAGNET CAST INTO THE SEA

47  "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea, and gathering fish of every kind;

48  and when it was filled, they drew it up on the beach; and they sat down and gathered the good fish into containers, but the bad they threw away.

49  So it will be at the end of the age; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous,

50  and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 

51  "Have you understood all these things?" They *said to Him, "Yes."

52  And Jesus said to them, "Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things new and old."

D) [Matthew 18:10 (NASB)]:

10 "See that you do not despise on of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father Who is in heaven."

E) [Matthew 22:30 (NKJV)]:
30 "For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven."

F) [Luke 12:8 (NASB)]:

8  "And I say to you, everyone who confesses Me before men, the Son of Man will confess him also before the angels of God;"

G) [Luke 12:21-34 (NASB)]:

21  [Jesus said] "So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."

22  And He said to His disciples, "For this reason I say to you, do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for your body, as to what you will put on.

23  "For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.

24  "Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds!

25  "And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life's span?

26  "If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters?

27  "Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.

28  "But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith!

29  "And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying.

30  "For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things.

31  "But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you.

32  "Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.

33  "Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys. a

34  "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

H) [Luke 20:34-36 (NASB)]:

34  "Jesus said to them, "The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, 

35  but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage;

36  for they cannot even die anymore, because they are like angels, and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection."

XII) SHEOL, PARADISE, HEAVEN, HADES - A STUDY ON THE AFTER LIFE

A) Lk 16:19-31 & Hades - Excerpt From Above Study

1) INTRODUCTION:

"In Luke 16:19-31... the rich man was directly said to be 'in Hades' (v. 23), the phrase 'Abraham's bosom' to which the angels carried Lazarus (vv. 22,23) must be interpreted as the section of Hades reserved for the righteous.....

During the intertestamental period, the Jewish concept of Sheol had progressed to the stage where it was believed that Sheol had two distinct compartments, or sections. One section was a place of torment to which the wicked went while the other was a place of conscious bliss, often called 'Abraham's bosom' or 'paradise,' to which the righteous were carried by angels...."

Compare our Lord's account of Lazarus and the rich man in Hades which testifies to the accuracy of the rabbinic understanding of Sheol:

2) [Lk 16:19-31]:

(v. 19) "[Jesus said, (v. 15)] Now there was a certain rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, gaily living in splendor every day.

(v. 20) And a certain poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores,

(v. 21) and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man's table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores.

(v. 22) Now it came about that the poor man died and he was carried away by the angels to Abraham's bosom

[Abraham's bosom was an expression which referred to the paradise compartment in Hades, the place where those who had the faith of Abraham dwelled until they were to occupy the kingdom of heaven]

and the rich man also died and was buried.

(v. 23) And in Hades he lifted up his eyes,

[Notice that our Lord is indicating here in this account that there is a fully functioning consciousness after death, a bliss for those who are declared righteous and torment for those who are not. And the rest of the passages confirms this]:

being in torment, and saw Abraham far away, and Lazarus in his bosom.

(v. 24) And he cried out and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue; for I am in agony in this flame.'

(v. 25) But Abraham said, 'Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony.

(v. 26) And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, in order that those who wish to come over from here to you may not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.' "

Although Old Testament saints did not have as much information about the afterlife as the New Testament revelation provided later on, it does not follow that the word Sheol, the Hebrew O.T. word for the place one resides in the afterlife, referred to something different or less than what the word Hades referred to in the N.T., any more than it does when one refers to one's car at one time as a sedan and a '99 Ford Taurus at another. They both refer to the same thing, one reference being more specific than the other.

Although this passage in Luke shows a characteristic of an O.T. historical account, for the beggar's name was specifically given as a proper name - not a symbollic one: "a certain poor man named Lazarus". And since, the passage refers to yet another O. T. historical individual: "Father Abraham". And since all attempts to treat this as a completely symbollic parable that teaches anything but death or the afterlife end up in farfetched interpretations that violate clear doctrinal passages on these subjects; consider another option which best fits the rest of Scripture and has precedent in the rabbinical literary form of Jesus' day:

[Morey op. cit., pp. 85-87]:

"The rabbinic literature before, during, and after the time of Christ is filled with parables which built imaginative stories around real historical characters. There are multiple examples in the Talmud and Midrash of parables in which Abraham had dialogues with people such as Nimrod, with whom he could never have spoken literally. Everyone understood that these parables and dialogues did not literally take place.

[Yet what was being taught by the fictitious account was indeed literal]

It was understood that the rabbis used imaginative stories and dialogues as a teaching method. It was understood by all that these dialogues never took place...

...Christ used a rabbinic story and dialogue in Luke 16:19-31 which was not 'true' or 'real' in the sense of being literal [in a historical sense, but literal indeed in what it is teaching]. It is obvious that Lazarus did not literally sit in Abraham's literal bosom. The rich man did not have literal lips which literal water could quench.

What is important for us to grasp is that Christ used the mental images conjured up by this rabbinic parable to teach that, in the hereafter, the wicked experience torment and the righteous bliss. This is clear from the rabbinic sources from which he drew this parable.

Since the dialogue between the rich man and Abraham was a teaching tool used by the rabbis before Christ, it is obvious that Christ was not trying to teach that we will talk with the wicked in the hereafter. He was merely using the dialogue method to get across the concept that there is no escape from torment, no second chance, and we must believe the Scriptures in this life unto salvation."

XIII) ALL BELIEVERS OF ALL AGES GO TO HEAVEN - NO MATTER WHAT

A) INTRODUCTION

Certain passages address certain groups of believers. This is not to say that the group in view is the only group that is destined to go to heaven or will be limited to one part of heaven or another as on earth in the Millennial rule only. 

For example, Jn 14:1-4 has in view Jesus' words to His disciples who were Jews during at this time the dispensation that was under the Law for Jews. Implications indicate an eternal destiny of heaven for all believers as well, for those of the Age of Grace, the church age which context is not immediately in view as Jesus was speaking to His disciples who were of the dispensation of Israel before the church age began, whereupon they were appointed to be apostles of the church when our Lord ascended to heaven:

B [Jn 14:1-4]:

(v. 1) "Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in Me.

(v. 2) In My Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.

(v. 3) And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am.

(v. 4) You know the way to the place where I am going."

1) [Jn 14:1]:

(v. 1) "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me."

a) BELIEVING = BELIEVING IN (INTO) = BELIEVING ON (UPON) = BELIEVING THAT

"Believe in God" = "Pisteuete eis ton Theon"

"Believe also in Me" = "kai eis eme pisteuete"

The verb forms which are underlined above come from the main verb for believe in the Greek: 'pisteuo'.

i) [Leon Morris states, ('THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Mich., 1989, p. 637-8)]:

"In view of the preceding imperative [command = "Let not your heart be troubled], it is in my judgment best to take both forms [of pisteuo = believe] as imperative. Jesus is urging His followers to continue to believe in the Father and to continue to believe also in Him, and in this way not to let their hearts be troubled.....

...It is one thing for the disciples to have faith in the God Who acted in days of old. It is another to have faith in the Jesus Who stands before them, especially when He is about to be betrayed by one of His followers, denied three times by the chief of them, abandoned by the rest, and crucified by His enemies."

ii) [Charles C. Bing, Pastor of Burleson Bible Church, Burleson, Tx., states in the Journal of the GRACE EVANGELICAL SOCIETY, vol. 9, Spring, 1996, Number 16, in an article entitled 'THE CONDITION FOR SALVATION IN JOHN'S GOSPEL', pp. 28-34]:

"Much discussion has focused on the use of the verb pisteuo [to believe either absolutely, or with the prepositions eis [in, into] and epi [on, upon], or with the dative case [indirect object of the verb] or hoti [that]. While some would claim these constructions indicate different kinds of faith... [Scripture teaches] ...that all these combinations refer to saving faith.

...believe without an object implies no less than believe with an object as when prepositions are used. The prepositions eis [= in, into] and epi [on, upon] may emphasize the object of faith, but do not distinguish another kind of faith... The construction of pisteuo with the dative is also clearly used for salvation, as in 5:24. Jesus said, 'Whoever hears My word and believes Him Who sent me has eternal life.'

The similarity of believe with the dative and believe in is seen in 6:29-30...

iii) [Jn 6:29-30]:

(v. 29) "Jesus answered and said to them, 'This is the work of God, that you believe in Him Whom He has sent.'

(v. 30) They said therefore to Him, 'What then do You do for a sign, that we may see, and believe You? What work do You perform?' "]

...and 8:30-31...

iv) [Jn 8:30-31]:

(v. 30) "As He spoke these things, many came to believe in Him.

(v. 31) Jesus therefore was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, 'If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine.' "]

It is exegetically impossible to separate their meanings in those passages. To believe Christ is to believe in [into] Him, and vice versa. Thus the slightly less certain construction is clarified by John's favorite term for saving faith, believe in.

The pisteuo plus hoti [believe that] construction also denotes saving faith. While some may argue that this combination denotes an intellectual acquiescence that falls short of effectual faith, it seems obvious that one cannot believe in [into] unless he or she also believes that.... Each implies the other...In fact, if one really believes that, one can hardly not believe in [into]... We find the hoti construction in two passages that clearly discuss the condition for salvation. John 8:24 says 'If you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.' The other passage is no less than John's purpose statement, 20:31...

v) [Jn 20:31]:

"But these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name."] ...(cf. also 1 John 5:1)...

...Faith, then, when represented by pisteuo in its various forms denotes trust in something or someone. It assumes assent to the truthfulness and trustworthiness of a person or what is claimed. In John [and throughout the Bible for that matter], faith is trustful reliance on Christ's promise to give eternal life to those who believe."

b) BELIEVING IN (GREEK = "EIS" = IN, INTO) DOES NOT CONSTITUTE ORGANIC OR SPIRITUAL UNION WITH THE OBJECT OF BELIEF

Furthermore, according to normative rules of language by which the Bible was written and by which it is to be interpreted...

(Ref: PROPER APPROACH )

...faith in (into) a concept or in (into) an individual, (using the Greek preposition 'eis' = in, into), does not constitute becoming one with that concept or individual, spiritually or organically as some maintain. For example, believing in, (Greek = "eis" = in, into), Jesus Christ as one's personal Savior does not then result in that individual becoming one spiritually or organically with Jesus Christ Himself as part of the Godhead such that one assumes any of the full and infinite qualities of God any more than does one who believes in, (Greek = "eis" = in, into), a door being the color green changes him into the color green himself along with the sprouting of door knobs and keyslots on his person. Individuals can be spoken of as 'one' with each other when they act in accord with one another or have the same beliefs about specific subjects. But this does not signify that they are now wholly joined organically, spiritually or mentally.

Although the Son of God, being Deity and therefore omnipotent and uncreated and sinless by nature, added to Himself humanity in His incarnation, (Phil 2:6-8); this does not work in reverse. For man cannot add or have added to his created, finite sinful self the infinite, uncreated, sinless qualities of God.

Passages which refer to God being in man and man being in God, (or one with God, etc.), therefore do not refer to man assuming any or all of the infinite qualities of God, nor God fully imparting any or all of His infinite qualities to man. Each passage instead has its specific context to which most refer to man reflecting a certain mentality or certain qualities of God in a finite way according to that specific context and apart from partaking of the infinite Godhead in any way, or to man's spirit being indwelt by God the Holy Spirit. This is again without man partaking of the qualities of the Godhead.

Just as two men acting in or agreeing about a certain matter, (being of 'one accord'), are then one with one another limited to those specific actions or beliefs; not being therefore considered to be joined mentally, spiritually or organically; so the same is true relative to man and His God. And certainly the limitations of being one with God are all on the side of man.

Furthermore, man, even the believer during his mortal lifetime, who is indwelt by God the Holy Spirit, is by nature sinful, (ref: Ro 7:14-25), and the Godhead sinless by nature. So man being a part of the Godhead on this basis alone is out of the question. Scripture indicates that all believers do sin, (ref:1 Jn 1:8, 10; Gal 5v26 and Eph 5 v14) - at which time they are out of fellowship with, i.e., not abiding in God and certainly not one with Him in any way while their sins remain unconfessed and undealt with, (1 Jn 1:3-10 , 1 Jn 3:1-14).

i) [Compare 1 Jn 1:8-10]:

(v. 8) "If we [believers, (v. 2:1)] claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.

(v. 9) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

(v. 10) If we claim we have not sinned, we make Him [God] out to be a liar and His word has no place in our lives."

So when believers obey Christ's commandments they are said to abide in Christ and He in them; but not in the sense that they are organically or spiritually joined to Him, but in the sense that they have chosen to reflect in their obedient behavior that they have God the Holy Spirit which was given to them and is supernaturally indwelling in them Who is their Guide and Teacher toward godly behavior. Being organically or spiritually joined to God is not in view.

ii) [Compare 1 Jn 3:24]:

"Those [believers, (v. 3:1)] who obey His commands abide [Greek = menei] in Him, and He in them. And this is how we know that He abides [Greek = menei] in us: We know it by the Spirit He gave us.

iii) [Compare 1 Jn 2:6]:

"Who ever claims to abide [Greek = menein] in Him [Jesus, (v. 1)] must walk as Jesus did."

Here again the passage refers not to abiding in Christ as part of God but it refers to the individual who claims to abide in Christ to prove his statement out by then demonstrating it with Christlike behavior. The context of the passage indicates that abiding in Christ is a choice of the individual to make such that as he makes the right choice he will then be viewed as abiding in Christ and if he makes the wrong choice then he will be viewed as not abiding in Christ. So, relative to this passage, the term 'abiding in Christ' does not have the permanent position of the believer in Christ in view either. But instead it has the behavior of the believer in view: sometimes he will behave like Jesus Christ and sometimes he will not, (Ref. 1 Jn chapter 1).

So this verse refers to the temporal behavior of man rather than the believer's permanent position with God which Paul defines as being 'in Christ, i.e., being a new creature: a human being with his sin nature fully intact, (Ro 7:14-25), who is permanently indwelt by God the Holy Spirit, (but not organically joined to the Godhead), (Ref. 2 Cor 2:17).

So fellowship with God, i.e., abiding in Him, can be disrupted or continued in accordance with the individual believer's choice; and this is what is reflected in Scripture. When believers disobey God's commands, although they are forever part of the body of Christ and permanently indwelt by God the Holy Spirit from the moment of their salvation, (Eph 1:13-14; 1 Cor 12:13), they are not for the moment abiding in Christ nor He in them.

Compare Jn 15:1-2 which further clarifies this point:

iv) [Jn 15:1-2]:

(v. 1) "I [Jesus] am the true vine, and My Father is the Gardener.

(v. 2) He cuts off every branch in Me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful."

"Every branch in Me" = This phrase refers to those believers who abide in Christ - whose lifestyle is one of obedience to Christ's commands. At first glance, one might mistakenly conclude that this phrase refers to those who are saved or to those who are joined to Jesus Christ in some way. However, this is ruled out because the passage indicates that believers may or may not abide in Christ depending upon how obedient they choose to be. Since Scripture clearly teaches that believers are permanently indwelt by the Holy Spirit and thereby forever sealed into their position in Christ, i.e., into the body of Christ, (not the Godhead), i.e., the Church, at the point of salvation, (Eph 1:13-14; 4:30), then the passage in John could not be referring to loss of salvation nor loss of any kind of permanent relationship with God. This is further confirmed in Jn 15:8 where our Lord summarizes the message of this passage, encouraging those listening to bear much fruit, thus proving themselves out as disciples providing glory to the Father.

v) [Jn 15:8]:

"This is to My Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be My disciples." (Cp. Mt 7:16).

The body of Christ, the Church, is carefully described in 1 Cor 12:12-31 as a group of individuals all joined into one functioning entity, each individual being equipped with finite - not infinite - capacities. This is unlike the Triune Godhead with infinite capacities. These finite capacities are to be exercised so that the believer bears fruit and is thereby abiding in Christ which is according to the passage in John 15. The issue therefore is fruit bearing, not one's eternal relationship with God. So verse 2 of Jn 15 begins with the understanding that Jesus is speaking about believers relative to their divine good work production - their fruit bearing. The 'branches' are described as being 'in Me' [in Christ], i.e., abiding in Christ, if they are producing fruit. The context of this particular passage defines a person who is abiding in Christ as a believer who is in fellowship with the Lord, i.e., being obedient to Christ - producing fruit. Recall that only believers can be in a status of abiding in Christ - being obedient to Christ - in the first place. Unbelievers cannot please God at any time and therefore cannot abide in Christ even for a moment. They are slaves to sin and do not have the capacity to produce fruit, (Ref. Ro 6:17-18, 8:8). They have no possibility of being in fellowship with God any more than darkness has to do with the Light, (1 John 1:5-7). So the branches are referred to by our Lord as believers who have a choice: to produce fruit while abiding in Christ resulting in eternal rewards in heaven or to not bear fruit and then BE LIKE the fruitless branches of an actual vine that are literally cut off from the vine and burned because they were useless. The phrase 'BE LIKE' the fruitless branches must be stressed, (as opposed to actually being subject to the same "burned up" fate) - 'BE LIKE' in the sense that what is produced by the branches and what is produced by the unfaithful believer alike are fruitless - worthless. It is the worthless branch and the worthless works of the believer which are what are "burned up", not the believer himself, (cp. 1 Cor 3:11-16). Scripture describes what happens to a believer who produces no fruit: like the fruitless branch which is cut off and burned, the fruitless believer is cut off from fellowship with God and his works are burned up:

vi) [1 Cor 3:15]:

"If it [what the believer builds in this life, (vv. 11-12)] is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames."

The believer's life - the value of his works - is judged as eternally worthless with respect to rewards in heaven, having no contributory value to the Kingdom of God. And at the judgment seat of Christ, which is reserved for believers only, the worthless works of the unfaithful believer, (the "wood, hay or straw", ref. 1 Cor 3:11-15), will be "burned up." The unfaithful believer is cut off from fellowship with God for the moment until he confesses his sin and begins to obey and then God puts him back in fellowship with Himself - back on the vine - in position again to produce fruit as he chooses to obey, (ref. 1 Jn 1:9, Gal 5:6).    

A cont) [Jn 14:1-4 cont.]:

2) [Jn 14:2]:

"In My Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you."

a) THE PHRASE "IN MY FATHER'S HOUSE ARE MANY ROOMS" DOES NOT REFER TO THE GODHEAD BUT TO HEAVEN

i) IN MY FATHER'S HOUSE = HEAVEN

"In My Father's house are many rooms" =

"In My Father's house" = Heaven

"En te .oikia .tou Patpos mon" =

"In the house of ..Father my"

"house" = "oikia" = a dwelling, an abode, a house

ii) [Compare 2 Cor 5:1]:

"Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands."

Notice the reference to an eternal house located in heaven which is not built by human hands but by the hand of God. So it is indeed eternal and incorruptible, but nevertheless created, unlike and therefore distinct and apart from the uncreated eternal God.

iii) [Compare Jn 2:15-16 with 'My Father's house' to describe not a spiritual reality of God's being but, in another case, a physical one of the Temple in Jerusalem, with no typology of God evident in the context as some maintain is part of the meaning]:

(Jn 2:15 NASB) "And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables;

(Jn 2:16 NASB) and to those who were selling the doves He said, 'Take these things away; stop making My Father's house a lace of business.' "

["My Father's house" =

"ton oikon tou patpos mon"

"the house of My father" = the Temple of Jerusalem]

Although other passages refer to the Temple in Jerusalem and the Tabernacle in the Desert as not only being physical realities with specific spiritual purposes but also as being typological re: Jesus Christ; the context of these typological passages must not be forced onto passages which do not support this symbolism such as in Jn 14:2 which supports only the actual physical, finite place.

2 cont2) [Jn 14:2 cont2]:

"In My Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you."

b) ARE MANY ROOMS

"there are many rooms" = "there are" = present tense = the Father's house within which are many rooms.

"rooms" = "monai" = from the Greek verb meno = to remain, to stay, to dwell; so "monai" means a dwelling place.

The word "rooms" in the context of verse 2 cannot be a location inside the Godhead but rather one that is described as inside the Father's house not inside God Himself. The latter concept of 'rooms' being part of God Himself which the believer would occupy would violate the doctrine of the self-sufficiency, omnipresence, uncreatedness, and omnipotence of the infinite God by including finite, created man who would limit the power and presence within the Godhead to the finite, thus changing God into the image of man. This is something the devil and fallen man has been attempting to do ever since the Fall in the Garden of Eden.

In spite of the lack of contextual evidence, it is still maintained by some that "My Father's house' is actually referring to the Godhead, the Father Himself within which the believer will become a living part. However, the words speak only of a finite house, a dwelling, an abode outside of the Godhead and could not be construed as a created finite part of an uncreated infinite omnipresent God. That would contradict the essence of God Himself. Nor does Scripture any place else support the finite created believer becoming part of the infinite uncreated God. The ambition of becoming like God was what started the entire downslide of humanity into sin in the first place when the Serpent said to Eve:

i) [Gen 3:5]:

" 'For God knows that when you eat of it [the forbidden fruit] your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.' "

This statement echos the Devil's own mentality which is recorded in Isaiah:

ii) [Isa 14:14]:

"I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.' "

2) cont3) [Jn 14:2 cont3]:

"In My Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you."

b cont) ARE MANY ROOMS, (cont.)

"there are many rooms" = "there are" = present tense = the Father's house within which are many rooms.

iii) 'MANY ROOMS' DO NOT REFER TO STEPS ALONG THE WAY OF A BELIEVER'S DEVELOPMENT IN THIS WORLD OR THE NEXT

"In My Father's house are many rooms" =

"are many rooms" =

Nor could the many rooms refer to opportunities or resting places along the way of the believer's walk with God in this mortal life, as others maintain. One does not expect to find numerous resting places along the path of life in a house, much less, God's house; nor do resting places on this earth in the devil's world, (Eph 6:12), which our Lord was leaving, aptly fit into the perfect image of 'My Father's house' to which our Lord was going.

iii_a) [Morris, op. cit., p. 638]:

"'My Father's house' clearly refers to heaven.....

...[And many rooms seem] better understood as 'permanent residences' than as 'steps along the way of development'. The idea of continuing development in the next world, [as some maintain] though attractive and possibly true, is not taught in Scripture. The bliss and permanence of heaven, however, are taught, and it seems that it is this to which Jesus is now referring.

iii_b) [Compare Ps 89:29]:

"I will establish his [David's, (v. 3)] line forever, his throne as long as the heavens endure."

iii_c) [Compare 2 Cor 5:1]:

"Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands."

iii_d) [Rev 12:1-4]:

(v. 1) "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.

(v. 2) I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.

(v. 3) And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their god.

(v. 4) He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."

Notice that God's dwelling place - a finite place - referred to in other passages as the house of God - was in heaven apart from earth - to which believers who have died are reported in Scripture as going to such a house of God IN HEAVEN until the new heavens and the new earth are to be created]

[Morris, cont.]:

...Some suggest that the reference ['My Father's house has many rooms'] is to progress in this life.... [That] Christ has provided many a resting place and place of refreshment for those who move along life's way. The objection to this is that 'My Father's house' is scarcely a recognizable description of this world. Moreover the imagery of temporary resting places, or stages upon a journey, within a 'house' is very difficult. It is much more likely to be 'rooms', 'places of residence'. 'Many' should not be misinterpreted as though it signified for all [either]. '''The phrase means that there is room and to spare for all the redeemed in heaven'''. (Richardson)"

iv) "MANY ROOMS" IN THE "FATHER'S HOUSE" DO NOT REFER TO CHURCH AGE BELIEVERS

Finally, the concept of 'My Father's house' being a reference to the Church does not fit the context of this passage which portrays the Father's house as a place with many rooms which are to be prepared for the saints not as the saints; and for which the Lord is coming back [in the rapture, (1 Thes 4:13-18)] to earth to bring the saints back with him to His 'Father's house. Nor is the church referred to anywhere in Scripture as the Father's house.

So the Father's house, not the Father Himself, within which there are many dwelling places which are to be prepared, exists now; not in the future on the earth nor as something metaphorical such as an opportunity or place made available for believers to be joined into the Godhead. And the rooms could not refer to individual believers either for the disciples are indicated as remaining on earth while our Lord prepares the rooms in the Father's house away from the disciples.

Although God could certainly "make His home with" a believer neither violating nor becoming part of the essence of that man as it indicates later on in this passage in verse 23 of John 14, man, even in his perfected resurrection body, cannot, because of his finite created essence abide in the infinte, almighty, uncreated Godhead itself - thus providing God with the finite created limitations of mankind, changing God into man's fallen finite image. And notice the condition stipulated in verse 23 below for the believer to meet in order for God to make His home in the believer: to love God as exemplified by the believer's obedience. Recall that such is not always the case with the believer all the time, (1 Jn 1:8-10). So we are back to the context in Jn 14:23 of temporal fellowship and not of the eternal indwelling of God within the believer.

iv_a) [Ref. Jn 14:23]:

"Jesus replied, 'If anyone loves Me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home [= same word: "monen"] with Him"

2 cont4) [Jn 14:2 cont4]:

"In My Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you."

b cont2) ARE MANY ROOMS, (cont2)

"there are many rooms" = "there are" = present tense = the Father's house within which are many rooms.

v) "I AM GOING THERE TO PREPARE A PLACE FOR YOU" REFERS TO HEAVEN

"I am going there to prepare a place for you." = [lit.] "I go to prepare a place for you" = speaks of a particular finite place within the Father's house which rooms, (v. 2a), exist and are to be prepared for the saints as dwelling places.

"place" = "topon" =

iv_a) [The New Analytical Greek Lexicon, Perschbacher, Editor, Hendrickson, Peabody, Ma]:

"a dwelling place, abode, mansion, dwelling, seat."

The word "place" cannot be misconstrued to mean the believer himself or a metaphorical condition such as death or one kind of opportunity or another, since it is already indicated in the context that Jesus is going somewhere away from the disciples to the Father's house to prepare a place in it for the disciples, for whom He would come to bring them there. So the word which is rendered "place" in this verse cannot be construed to be something metaphorical and infinite rather than physical and finite any more than the dwelling place of the saints can, (Rev 21:27, 22:14), the New Jerusalem, which will be "coming down out of heaven" to the earth, (Rev 21:2). The latter is described in detail with walls, gates with writing on them located in the north, south, east and west, 12,000 x 12,000 stadia in size, etc., etc., (Rev 21:9-27).

iv_b) [Compare Mt 5:12]:

"Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

Consider the false doctrine that a believer does not go to heaven when he dies, but joins into God instead. Then this verse in Matthew chapter 5 would be an absurd and meaningless one. If a believer undergoing severe persecution, (v. 12a), is reminded of his eternal destiny in order to encourage him to keep on being faithful and hopeful, then why no mention of such an awesome concept as becoming part of God? Answer: because it is not true. Furthermore, if a believer is not going to go to heaven when he dies, then why have a reward for him there? Answer: because he indeed is going to heaven.

3) [Jn 14:2-3]:

(v. 2) "In My Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.

(v. 3) And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back [to earth since that is where the disciples were] and take you to be with Me [to where He went in the first place which could only be heaven] that you also may be where I am [i.e., heaven]

a) "I AM GOING .... I WILL COME BACK" DOES NOT REFER TO OUR LORD'S GOING IN DEATH AND COMING BACK IN RESURRECTION

(v. 3) And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back [to earth since that is where the disciples were] and take you to be with Me [to where He went in the first place which could only be heaven] that you also may be where I am [i.e., heaven]

It is also maintained that our Lord is not referring in these verses to going to a specific place but rather that Jesus is going to go through death rather than to go to a particular place and that Christ, (as opposed to Jesus), will then come in Resurrection to bring believers into the Father, presumably to become an integral part of the Godhead. Consider that the word Jesus or Jehoshua which means 'Jehovah God is salvation' and the phrase 'the Christ' which means God's Anointed One Who will bring salvation to mankind are both simultaneously descriptive of the Son of God especially in His redemptive role of bringing redemption to mankind, one term cannot be considered as solely descriptive of the Person of the Son of God in exclusion of the other, as is presented by some who maintain that it is Jesus Who dies and the Christ Who returns. Scripture simply does not support such a distinction.

Previous to Jn 14:2-3, Jesus had spoken of His impending departure:

i) [Jn 7:33-34]:

(v. 33) "Jesus said, 'I am with you for only short time, and then I go to the One Who sent Me.

(v. 34) You will look for Me, but you will not find Me; and where I am, you cannot come.' "

ii) [Jn 12:23, 35]:

(v. 23) "Jesus replied, 'The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified."

(v. 35) "Then Jesus told them, 'You are going to have the Light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the Light, before darkness overtakes you."

This departure to a place where the disciples for the moment could not follow obviously could not mean death; for the disciples could have followed our Lord in death at any time, which they all eventually did.

Furthermore, a substitution of the concept of death in verses 2 and 3 quickly refutes the point of view that our Lord's going was an expression of His going through death, for it turns the passage into something nonsensical:

3 cont) [Jn 14:2-3 cont]:

(v. 2) "In My Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.

(v. 2 substitute) "In death are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going through death to prepare a place there for you.

(v. 3) And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back [to earth since that is where the disciples were] and take you to be with Me [to where He went in the first place which could only be heaven as will be shown] that you also may be where I am [i.e., heaven]

(v. 3 substitute) And if I go through death and prepare a place in death for you, I will come back from the dead and take you to be with Me in death that you also may be where I am in death."

b) "I AM GOING THERE" REFERS TO OUR LORD'S GOING TO HEAVEN

Chapter 3 of John provides definitive information as to where Jesus, the Son of Man, came from and to where He would return:

i) [Compare Jn 3:13]:

"No one has ever gone into heaven [at the time of our Lord's ministry before the cross when this statement was made] except the One Who came from heaven - the Son of Man

ii) [Rev 4:1, 9-11; 5:6-9]:

(Rev 4:1) "After this I [John, (v. 1:1)] looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said...

(Rev 4:9) "Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to Him Who sits on the throne and Who lives for ever and ever,

(Rev 10) the twenty-four elders fall down before Him Who sits on the throne, and worship Him Who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:

(Rev 11) 'You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by Your will they were created and have their being [= Jesus Christ the Creator and Sustainer of all things: cf. Col 1:16-17].'

(Rev 5:6) " Then I say a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.

(Rev 5:7) He came and took the scroll from the right hand of Him Who sat on the throne.

(Rev 5:8) And when He had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full if incense, which are the prayers of the saints.

(Rev 5:9) And they sang a new song:

'You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation."

This individual, this Lamb is obviously the Lord Jesus Christ Who is pictured here after His Crucifixion and Resurrection in heaven seated on the Throne at the right hand of God the Father. So our Lord did indeed go back to heaven.

4) [Jn 14:4]:

(v. 4) "You know the way to the place where I am going."

a) "THE PLACE WHERE I AM GOING" REFERS TO OUR LORD'S GOING TO HEAVEN

The place our Lord refers to cannot be the believer himself because He previously explains to the disciples that He is going away from them to prepare a place to which they will eventually come and abide in. This can be none other than heaven based on the context.

i) [Compare 1 Thes 4:13-18]:

1 Thes 4:13-18 explains the rapture of the saints of all ages: how our Lord will come for the believers, both dead and alive, catch them up alive from the earth and dead from the grave up into the stratosphere to go with Him back to heaven.

i_a) [Compare detailed studies on the rapture of the saints of the church age ]

i_b) [Compare also 1 Pet 3:22a]:

"Who [Jesus Christ, (v. 21)] has gone into heaven and is at God's right hand."

So our Lord for the moment is in heaven with God the Father. Although God is omnipresent, the presence of our Lord is particularly glorified in part for the benefit of the angelic hosts and believers who have gone on to be with Him. So if the destiny of believers when they die is to be at home with the Lord, and if that 'home' where the Lord is heaven, then the destiny of believers when they die is heaven.

i_c) [Compare 2 Cor 5:1]:

"Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in the heavens not built by human hands."

"heavens" = "ouranois" = the abode of God, of angels, of glorified spirits, etc. as per Mt 5:34, 45, 48; 6:1, 9, 10; 12:50; John 3:13, 31; 6:32, 38, 41, 42, 50, 51, 58.

"an eternal house in the heavens" & "a building from God" = both describe a finite dwelling place outside of the Godhead and located in heaven.

i_d) [Compare Phil 3:20a]:

"But our citizenship is in heaven."

4 cont) [Jn 14:4 cont]:

(v. 4) "You know the way to the place where I am going."

b) BELIEVERS GO TO HEAVEN WHEN THEY DIE

i) [Compare 2 Cor 5:8]:

"We are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord."

The Apostle Paul struggled with his duty on earth or what would be his immediate destiny in heaven if he died at that moment:

ii) [Compare Phil 1:21-26]:

(v. 21) "For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

(v. 22) But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose.

(v. 23) But I am hard pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, [i.e., to thus be immediately with Him in heaven where He now resides] for that is very much better;

(v. 24) yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake."

And in the last book of the Bible is an image of the saints the martyrs of the Great Tribulation now in heaven:

iii) [Compare Rev 6:9]:

(v. 9) "And when He broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the Word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained"

So Jesus Christ came down from Heaven to become the incarnate Son of God, (Jn 3:13), from where He was with the Father, yet all the while being omnipresent as God the Son. To this is offered no explanation as none is offered in Scripture. So when our Lord states that He is going to be with the Father and will not be in the presence of the disciples in His finite incarnate presence, it is evident that His destiny for the moment is heaven. Yet all the while being omnipresent as God the Son, to which we again offer no explanation).

Now, this is not to say, that all believers will not also reside within the kingdom of God when it is established on earth for a thousand years and then in the new heavens and the new earth at the end of time as we know it. But that is another study, which, upon request will be done.

iv) [Compare 1 Pet 1:3-4]:

(v. 3) "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

(v. 4) and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade - kept in heaven for you"

"Hope" = "Elpida"(Gk) = a sure and certain hope.

This passage corroborates the fact that our - the believer's - eternal inheritance of eternal life is a sure hope, i.e., eternal and eternally secure because it "can never perish, spoil or fade." And it is "kept in heaven for you", i.e., the believer's eternal destiny is heaven. This does not mean that my eternal inheritance of eternal life is kept in heaven for me, and will be delivered to me on earth as if some heavenly delivery service or perhaps an earthly Amazon.com delivery is involved, as some contend. Nevertheless, the universe is the domain of God's people to wherever He sends them, including on earth to corule with the King of kings and Lord of lords, Jesus Christ Who will sit on the throne of David in Jerusalem as well as everywhere else.

XIII cont) ALL BELIEVERS OF ALL AGES GO TO HEAVEN - NO MATTER WHAT cont

C) [Col 1:5]:

a) [(Col 1:5) Commentary On Col 1:5]:

(Col 1:3 NASB) "We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, (Col 1:4 YLT) having heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love that which you have toward all the saints, (Col 1:5 NASB) because of the [sure] hope [of eternal life] laid up for you in heaven, [lit., the heavens] of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel [lit., of the gospel] =

PAUL STIPULATES A FUTHER REASON FOR GIVING THANKS TO GOD FOR THE COLOSSIAN BELIEVERS: BECAUSE OF THE SURE HOPE FOR THEM OF ETERNAL LIFE LAID UP IN HEAVEN AS A RESULT OF THEIR HAVING HEARD OF [AND BELIEVED IN] THE GOSPEL, THE WORD OF TRUTH

Whereupon, Col 1:5 stipulates a further reason for Paul's giving thanks to God for the Colossian believers: "because of the sure hope [of eternal life] laid up for [them] in heaven , [lit., the heavens] of which [they] previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel [lit., of the gospel] and have been believing in it as a sure hope - one that God assures the believer, once received is guaranteed eternal life by the indwelling Spirit Who permanently indwells the human spirit of the individual believer. It is this assurance of salvation by dint of the permanent sealing and residence of the Holy Spirit in the believer, that provides Paul's thankfulness for the Colossians, (cf. Eph 1:13-14 )

D) [Col 1:12-13]:

1) [(Col 1:3-13) Commentary On Col 1:12-13]:

(Col 1:3 NASB) "We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, (Col 1:4 YLT) having heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love that which you have toward all the saints, (Col 1:5 NASB) because of the [sure] hope [of eternal life] laid up for you in heaven, [lit., the heavens] of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel [lit., of the gospel] (Col 1:6 NASB) which [is present] to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth. (Col 1:7 NASB) just as you learned it from Epaphras, our beloved fellow bond-servant, who is a faithful servant of Christ on our behalf, (Col 1:8 NASB) and he also informed us of your love in the Spirit. (Col 1:9 NASB) For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, (Col 1:10 NASB) so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; (Col 1:11 NASB) [being] strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, [lit. the might of His glory unto all] for the attaining of all steadfastness and [lit., patience with joy] (Col 1:12 NASB) giving thanks to the Father, Who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light (Col 1:13 NASB) For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son" =

a) AS IT INDICATES IN COL 1:1-11, WHEN PAUL HEARD FROM EPAPHRAS ABOUT THE FAITH AND FAITHFULNESS OF THE BELIEVERS IN COLOSSE, THEIR LOVE FOR ALL THE SAINTS, THE SURE HOPE OF THEIR SALVATION, THEIR HAVING PREVIOUSLY HEARD AND BELIEVED IN THE GOSPEL LEARNED FROM EPAPHRAS, FAITHFUL SERVANT OF CHRIST ON PAUL'S BEHALF, WITH PAUL HAVING CONTINUALLY PRAYED FOR THEM THAT THEY MAY BE FILLED WITH THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD'S WILL FOR THEM AND IN ALL SPIRITUAL WISDOM THAT THEY MAY WALK IN A MANNER WORTHY OF THE LORD TO THE END RESULT IN VERSE 11 THAT THEY BE STRENGTHENED WITH ALL POWER TO GOD'S GLORIOUS MIGHT FOR THE ATTAINING OF ALL STEADFASTNESS AND PATIENCE UNTO THE JOY OF SERVING THE LORD. WHEREUPON IN VV. 12-13, PAUL EXPOUNDS ON HIS PRAYER GIVING THANKS TO THE FATHER, WHO HAS QUALIFIED BELIEVERS TO SHARE IN THE INHERITANCE OF THE SAINTS IN LIGHT - IN THE LIGHT OF THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD. FOR ALL BELIEVERS WERE RESCUED FROM THE DOMAIN OF DARKNESS AND TRANSFERRED INTO THE KINGDOM OF GOD'S BELOVED SON - AN IMMEDIATE AND EVERLASTING POSITION IN THIS TEMPORAL LIFE IN THE ETERNAL KINGDOM OF JESUS CHRIST FROM THE MOMENT OF FAITH IN CHRIST

(Col 1:3 NASB) "We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, (Col 1:4 YLT) having heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love that which you have toward all the saints, (Col 1:5 NASB) because of the [sure] hope [of eternal life] laid up for you in heaven, [lit., the heavens] of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel [lit., of the gospel] (Col 1:6 NASB) which [is present] to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth. (Col 1:7 NASB) just as you learned it from Epaphras, our beloved fellow bond-servant, who is a faithful servant of Christ on our behalf, (Col 1:8 NASB) and he also informed us of your love in the Spirit. (Col 1:9 NASB) For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, (Col 1:10 NASB) so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; (Col 1:11 NASB) [being] strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, [lit. the might of His glory unto all] for the attaining of all steadfastness and [lit., patience with joy] (Col 1:12 NASB) giving thanks to the Father, Who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light (Col 1:13 NASB) For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son"

It was since the time when Paul heard from Epaphras - fellow and beloved bond-servant of Christ - and on Paul's behalf, that a number of Colossians learned the gospel from him [Epaphras] and then believed in it unto the sure hope of eternal life then were constantly and increasingly bearing the fruit of godly works and demonstrating agape love under the auspices of the indwelling Spirit toward all the saints ... it was since that time ... that Paul had not ceased praying to God for those Colossians that they might be filled with the knowledge of God's will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding so that they may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord to please Him in all respects bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God with the view to the end result that they be strengthened with all power according to God's glorious might for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience with joy.

Whereupon Paul continues to expound upon his prayer to God which added to the thought of vv 1-11 that Paul and all believers are to express thanksgiving to God for their being given the knowledge of His will, spiritual wisdom and understanding, their worthy walk, bearing fruit, increasing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to His might with the accompanying steadfastness and patience with joy with what appears in Col 1:12-13: For it is God the Father Who has qualified them to share in the eternal inheritance of the saints in Light, i.e., in the sphere / kingdom of Light, i.e., of godliness; and rescued them from the domain of darkness and transferred into the Eternal Kingdom of God's beloved Son - an immediate and everlasting position in the eternal kingdom of Jesus Christ from the moment of faith in this temporal life. Notice that the inheritance indicates one of inheriting eternal life. Not stipulated is the inheritance of rewards for faithful service such as corulership with Jesus Christ, etc.

i) [(Col 1:13) [Compare Col 1:13 with Eph 5:8-9]:

(Col 1:13 NASB) "For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son,"

(Eph 5:8 NASB) "for you [beloved children of God, saints, vv. 1-7] were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light

(Eph 5:9 NASB) (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth),"

i_1) [Col 1:13) [Expositor's Commentary On Eph 5:8-9]:

"Here Paul enlarges on the contrast between darkness and light. As in Ephesians 2:1-3 and 4:17-24, he reminds his readers of what they once were. One word suffices by way of summary—"darkness." Not only did they live in darkness: they were darkness (cf. 4:18). But now they' have been rescued from the dominion of darkness and inherit the kingdom of light (Col 1:12, 13). They not only live in the light: they are light. This is possible only in union with Christ who is Himself the Light. 

Note that although believers in their temporal lives are unfit relative to their temporal conduct in this life to receive a share of an eternal inheritance in Light in the Eternal Kingdom of God, God nevertheless graciously qualified them [aorist tense = completed action] to share in it simply as a result of their expression of a moment of faith alone in Christ alone and not predicated upon their faithfulness / conduct. Albeit the believers in Colosse were indeed commended by Paul to have been extraordinarily faithful. For the aorist tenses rendered "has qualified," "rescued," and "transformed," in Col 1:12-13 portray a completed action - a singular point in time in which God Himself made the believer fully qualified, rescued and transformed at the point in time in a positional but not an actual sense; which actualization in their experience is yet future awaiting being fully actualized at resurrection at the time of the rapture for church age believers such as those in Colosse .

All of this God has already accomplished, considering that God is outside of the restrictions of time and His creation. And all with a view to the positional truth that they as believers have already been rescued from the domain of darkness and have already been transferred to the living kingdom of light, the Kingdom of God's beloved Son while they live out their lives in their temporal bodies awaiting their final redemption .

ii) [(Col 1:12-13) Bible Knowledge Commentary On Col 1:12-13]:

(Col 1:3 NASB) "We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, (Col 1:4 YLT) having heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love that which you have toward all the saints, (Col 1:5 NASB) because of the [sure] hope [of eternal life] laid up for you in heaven, [lit., the heavens] of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel [lit., of the gospel] (Col 1:6 NASB) which [is present] to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth. (Col 1:7 NASB) just as you learned it from Epaphras, our beloved fellow bond-servant, who is a faithful servant of Christ on our behalf, (Col 1:8 NASB) and he also informed us of your love in the Spirit. (Col 1:9 NASB) For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, (Col 1:10 NASB) so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; (Col 1:11 NASB) [being] strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, [lit. the might of His glory unto all] for the attaining of all steadfastness and [lit., patience with joy] (Col 1:12 NASB) giving thanks to the Father, Who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light (Col 1:13 NASB) For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son" =

"Col 1:12-13. Such patient-producing power should be accompanied by "joyfully," not begrudgingly, giving thanks to the Father from Whom comes every good and perfect gift (James 1:17).

Thankfulness, a fourth result of following God's will and pleasing Him, is a keynote in the spiritual life. Believers are urged elsewhere by Paul, "Give thanks in all circumstances" (1 Thes. 5:18) and to come before God "in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving" (Phil. 4:6). Four other times in Colossians (3:15-17; 4:2) Paul enjoined believers to be grateful. Joyfulness too is part of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22), made possible by the gospel (cf. Isa. 29:19; John 16:20; Acts 13:52). Here Paul centered thanksgiving on the fact that God has qualified you (lit., "made you competent"; cf. 2 Cor. 3:6) to share in the inheritance of the saints (i.e., the kingdom treasures that belong to believers; cf. Eph. 1:7). In short, though believers are unfit in themselves, God has fitted them to share in the inheritance of His holy people. This "inheritance" (tēn merida tou klērou, lit., "the parcel of the lot") is reminiscent of the way the inheritance of the land of promise was given to the Israelites under Joshua (Josh. 14:2). This inheritance is in the... light (cf. 2 Cor. 4:6; 1 Peter 2:9). (The NIV supplying the words "kingdom of," which are not in the Gr., reads "in the kingdom of light.") This light is the spiritual sphere to which believers have been transferred from the dominion of darkness and sin (Luke 22:53; Acts 26:18; Eph. 6:12). From this dominion (exousias, "power, authority") of darkness (cf. John 3:19-20) believers have been rescued, delivered.

Through Christ they were brought from a rebel kingdom and placed under the sovereignty of their rightful King. The sovereign Christ is here called the Son He loves (lit., "the Son of His love"; cf. 1 John 4:8, 16). J. B. Lightfoot says this means the Son who embodies and manifests God's love (St. Paul's Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon, p. 142). But H.C.G. Moule says it signifies the Son who is "the blessed Object of the Father's love... the supremely Beloved One" (The Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Colossians and to Philemon, p. 75). This seems preferable (cf. Eph. 1:6)."

iii) [Compare Expositor's Bible Commentary On Col 1:12-13]:

(Col 1:3 NASB) "We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, (Col 1:4 YLT) having heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love that which you have toward all the saints, (Col 1:5 NASB) because of the [sure] hope [of eternal life] laid up for you in heaven, [lit., the heavens] of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel [lit., of the gospel] (Col 1:6 NASB) which [is present] to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth. (Col 1:7 NASB) just as you learned it from Epaphras, our beloved fellow bond-servant, who is a faithful servant of Christ on our behalf, (Col 1:8 NASB) and he also informed us of your love in the Spirit. (Col 1:9 NASB) For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, (Col 1:10 NASB) so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; (Col 1:11 NASB) [being] strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, [lit. the might of His glory unto all] for the attaining of all steadfastness and [lit., patience with joy] (Col 1:12 NASB) giving thanks to the Father, Who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light (Col 1:13 NASB) For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son" =

"12 The fourth ingredient, and the crowning virtue, of the worthy Christian life is gratitude. One reason for giving thanks to God is that he has "qualified" believers "to share in the inheritance of the saints." The Greek word for "qualified" (hikanosanti), which basically has in it the thought of making sufficient or competent, may shade into the sense of empowering or authorizing. From its use in this passage we may conclude that in themselves believers have no fitness for sharing in the heritage of God's people. They can experience this only as God qualifies them for such a privilege. The tense of the word is aorist, pointing to the time of the Colossians' conversion. The suggestion is that the qualifying is not a process but an instantaneous act.

To "share in" the inheritance of the saints is to have a portion of the heritage belonging to God's people. There is an obvious allusion to the inheritance of ancient Israel in the Land of Promise and the share of the inheritance each Israelite had. Christians, as the new people of God, also have an inheritance, and each believer has a share allotted to him.

[The word rendered "light"] appears at first to mark the inheritance as future and heavenly (cf. TCNT). But the following verse [v. 13] affirms that Christians have already been rescued from the dominion of darkness and are even now in the kingdom of God's Son. H.C.G. Moule therefore rightly argues that the reference is "properly to the believer's position and possession even now. This Canaan," he explains, "is not in the distance, beyond death; it is about us today, in our home, in our family, in our business,... in all that makes up mortal life" (pp. 65, 66).

13 The proof that God has qualified us for a share of the inheritance of the saints is that he has "rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves."

"Rescued" translates "errusato," a word that means to liberate, save, or deliver someone from something or someone; that from which Christians have been rescued is a "dominion of darkness." Luke (22:53) reports Jesus' use of the same phrase at the time of his arrest in Gethsemane. "Darkness" in Scripture is symbolic of ignorance, falsehood, and sin (cf. John 3:19; Rom 13:12). But Paul probably had the Colossian heresy in mind, because the principalities and powers to which the false teachers urged Christians to pay homage are designated by him "the powers of this dark world" (Eph 6:12).

God's action in behalf of his people does not stop with deliverance from the authority of darkness. He has also "brought" them "into the kingdom of the Son He loves." "Brought" translates "metestesen," a word that was used in secular literature in reference to removing persons from one country and settling them as colonists and citizens in another country. It might be rendered "reestablished." The aorist tense of the verb points to the time of conversion  a point in past time - a completed action. The "kingdom" (rule) is not to be interpreted eschatologically. It was for the Colossians a present reality (cf. John 3:3-5). Nor is the kingdom to be interpreted in a territorial sense. That is to say, it is not an area that may be designated on a map; it is the sovereign rule of the Lord Christ over human hearts.

"The Son he loves" translates a phrase (tou huiou tes agapes autou) that literally reads "the Son of his love." It is a Hebraic way of saying "God's dear Son." The expression is reminiscent of the words of the Father at the baptism and the transfiguration of Jesus."

So Paul continues his indirect discourse against Gnosticism in verses 13 and 14. The Gnostics denied that the Messiah had come in the flesh. They taught that one did not need the atoning sacrifice of his blood for salvation, because he had never really lived as a human being. Rather, the Gnostics emphasized that salvation could be attained only through the secret knowledge that Christ had given his disciples.

The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary (Eerdmans) states: "Increasingly, scholars recognize that Christianity's proclamation of a divine savior provided the catalyst for the Gnostic movement. Many Gnostics traced their teaching back to him and the secret teaching he purportedly revealed after the resurrection. Gnostic christologies offer a savior without the incarnation (a Christ-spirit) who gives knowledge instead of calling for faith . . ." (p. 422, "Gnosticism"). This is a theme we'll see Paul combat again later in his letter .

E) [Heb 11:16]:

(Heb 11:16 NASB) "But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them."

XIV) BELIEVERS MAY EXPERIENCE THE GLORY OF THE LORD

A) [John 17:22-24 (NASB)]:

22  "The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; 

23  I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.

24  "Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world." 

Since all believers have been given to Jesus before the foundation of the world, (cf Jn 6:37-40); then all whom have been given to Jesus will be with Him where He is, so that they may see His glory which God the Father has given Jesus and give the glory which the Father has given Jesus, Jesus has given to them. 

B) [Acts 7:55-56 (NASB)]:

55  "But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God;

56  and he said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God." 

XV) MANY ARE CALLED TO BE FAITHFUL BUT FEW ARE CHOSEN. THE LATTER WILL CHOOSE TO BE FAITHFUL AND BE REWARDED COMMENSURATELY

A) MATTHEW CHAPTER 22 

1) INTRODUCTION

Objectors to free grace salvation and eternal security point to Matthew chapter 22 as a proof text for the false doctrine that one's lifestyle must reflect some unspecified amount and type of faithful works, otherwise one is not saved at all or will lose one's salvation and be cast into the Lake of Fire.

Here's how the passage reads:

a) [Mt 22:1-14]:

(Mt 22:1) '''And Jesus answered and spoke to them again in parables, saying,

(Mt 22:2) "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king, who gave a wedding feast for his son.

(Mt 22:3) And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come.

(Mt 22:4) Again he sent out other slaves saying, 'Tell those who have been invited, 'Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fattened livestock are all butchered and everything is ready; come to the wedding feast.'

(Mt 22:5) But they paid no attention and went their way, one to his own farm, another to his business,

(Mt 22:6) and the rest seized his slaves and mistreated them and killed them.

(Mt 22:7) But the king was enraged and sent his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and set their city on fire.

(Mt 22:8) Then he said to his slaves, "The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy.

(Mt 22:9) Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast."

(Mt 22:10) And those slaves went out into the streets, and gathered together all they found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests.

(Mt 22:11) But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw there a man not dressed in wedding clothes,

(Mt 22:12) and he said to him, "Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?" And he was speechless.

(Mt 22:13) Then the king said to the servants, "Bind him hand and foot, and cast him out into the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'

(Mt 22:14) For many are called, but few are chosen." '''

A careful examination of this parable provides the following parallel statements:

Just as the king is holding a wedding banquet for his son, so there will be a banquet in the kingdom of heaven on earth which New Testament revelation teaches that God the Father will hold a wedding banquet for His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, (Rev 19:7-9).

Just as a specific group of individuals were at first invited to attend, so those of the nation Israel were invited to be part of the banquet held on earth during our Lord's millennial rule, (ref. Mt 10:1-42, Lk 9:1-6; Mk 6:7-13).

Just as the first group rejected the invitation, attacked and murdered the king's servants; so the Jews rejected the Son of God as Messiah, attacked and murdered His prophets, disciples and other faithful believers, (ref. Mt 23:29-34; Lk 11:47-51).

Just as the king sent his armies, destroyed the murderers, and set their city on fire, so God decreed and history showed that Rome would likewise send an army, destroy millions of Jews, and burn the city of Jerusalem in AD 70, (ref. Lk 19:41-43).

And just as the king thereupon extended his invitation to all who would come to his son's banquet from all over, so our Lord then extended His invitation to accept Him as Messiah Savior to "whosoever will" believe in Him as Savior, (ref. Mt 28:19; Lk 24:46-49; Acts 1:8; 10:43).

Just as those who did not accept the king's invitation did not attend the banquet of their own volition, so those who did not accept God's invitation to believe in His Son unto eternal life, (1 Jn 5:9-13), will not attend the wedding banquet of their Messiah. Especially in view are those to whom our Lord was speaking: the Jews - who felt that it would be their exclusive destiny to take part in the Kingdom banquet, (ref. Jn 8:39; 9:28).

Just as the individual who chose not to wear the proper wedding garment was bound and cast out of the banquet itself, so those who are not wearing the proper attire representing faithful lives will be likewise cast out of the Lord's wedding banquet. Both to experience weeping and gnashing of teeth at their utter disappointment at their great loss of fellowship, (Mt 25:14-30).

But neither were cast out of their respective kingdoms.

Just as God invites all to believe and be saved but only those who are chosen by Him will be saved, so God invites all believers to be faithful, but only those who are chosen by Him will be faithful.

Just as every tear will be wiped away and there will be no more sorrow when God finally recreates the new heavens and the new earth, so there will be a season of sorrow and regret beforehand for those who did not serve the Lord faithfully. And finally, just as the faithful will enter heaven with maximum capacity to serve the Lord and enjoy eternity, so the unfaithful believer will be limited in such capacities.

Continue to study this passage

B) [Col 2:18-Col 3:4]:

1) [Commentary On Col 2:18-Col 3:4]:

(Col 2:18 NKJV) "Let no one cheat [lit. deprive, defraud] you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, (Col 2:19 NKJV) and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God. (Col  2:20 NASB) If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, (Col 2:21 NASB) 'Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!' (Col 2:22 NKJV) which all concern things which perish with the using - according to the commandments and doctrines of men? (Col 2:23 NKJV) These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed [lit., self-made or would be] religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, [lit., self-abasement] but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh. (Col 3:1 NKJV) Then [Since] you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. (Col 3:2 NASB) Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. (Col 3:3 NKJV) For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (Col 3:4 NKJV) When Christ Who is our life appears, [lit., is manifested] then you also will appear with Him in glory."

a) PAUL HAS DECLARED IN CHAPTER TWO THAT BELIEVERS ARE NOT TO VALUE THE ELEMENTARY PRINCIPLES OF THE WORLD OF TEMPORAL THINGS, I.E., THE SINFUL DOCTRINES OF MEN. WHEREUPON IN CHAPTER THREE, PAUL DECLARED THAT SINCE BELIEVERS WERE RAISED UP WITH CHRIST IN THE SENSE OF BEING IDENTIFIED WITH AND BENEFITING FROM WHAT WAS ACCOMPLISHED BY OUR LORD'S DEATH, BURIAL AND RESURRECTION - ETERNAL LIFE AND ALL SPIRITUAL MATTERS THAT PERTAIN TO THAT; THEY ARE TO SEEK THOSE ETERNAL THINGS WHICH ARE ABOVE, WHERE CHRIST IS, SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD. FOR BELIEVERS HAVE DIED WITH CHRIST IN THE SENSE OF BENEFITTING FROM THAT DEATH UNTO FORGIVENESS OF SINS UNTO ETERNAL LIFE. SO THE BELIEVER'S LIFE IS HIDDEN WITH CHRIST IN GOD. WHEN CHRIST WHO IS OUR LIFE APPEARS - IS MANIFESTED - THEN THEY ALSO WILL APPEAR WITH HIM IN GLORY

With the context of chapter two in mind: that believers are not to value the elementary principles of the world and of temporal / perishable things and matters that will pass away in time, i.e., the doctrines of men / false wisdom / indulgences of the flesh; since believers were raised with Christ in the sense of having the position of being identified with His resurrection - with having received the benefit of eternal life and all spiritual matters that pertain to that, they are to seek those things which are from above / spiritual / eternal; and not seek those which are from below which are physical and temporal. For it is above in the heavenly realm where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. The believer is thus to center his life upon the ascended, glorified Jesus Christ at His seat of divine authority, having defeated the forces of evil and of death - having paid for the sins of the whole world so that all men may choose to express a moment of faith alone in Christ alone in His sacrifice for them and have eternal life. The practical application of this ongoing command is to endeavor every day to carefully study the inspired words of God's Word which convey the teachings of Jesus Christ for us to learn and follow in order to enhance our temporal and eternal lives. Thus we may focus our temporal lives upon the eternal words of the Savior which endeavor in effect is tantamount to seeking those things which are above where Christ is. So we are see to it that one's interests are centered in Christ, that one's attitudes, ambitions, and whole outlook on life are molded by Christ's relation to the believer whose position is in Christ. So one's allegiance to him is to take precedence over all earthly allegiancs. The verb is a present imperative, suggesting a continuing action: "Keep on seeking." Therefore, Col 3:1-4 is saying, "you [the believer is to] have set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you [all those who believed in Jesus Christ] died with Him [because He died for you and thus you are credited with His payment for your sins and are forgiven because you believed in Him] and your life is hidden with Christ in God [because at the moment of faith alone in Christ alone you were placed in Christ, in His body]. [So] when Christ Who is [therefore] our life appears ["our" = those that believed in Him], then you also will appear with Him in glory, [that is when He comes again in His Second Coming we will surely be with Him in glory]! Note that the description of Christ as 'seated at the right hand of God' is another implied rejoinder to those who were seeking to diminish Christ's role as mediator, inasmuch as the right hand of God is a metaphor for the place of supreme privilege and divine authority. 

66667777

[1 Peter 1:3-4]:

(1 Pet 1:3 NASB) "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

(1 Pet 1:4 NASB) to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,"

2Pe 1:11
2Pe 3:13
Rev 2:7
Rev 3:21
Rev 4:4
Rev 5:9
Rev 7:9
Rev 7:13-17
Rev 14:1-3
Rev 15:2
Rev 21:1-5
Rev 21:9-11
Rev 21:18
Rev 21:19
Rev 21:21-25
Rev 21:27
Rev 22:1-5
See RIGHTEOUS
THE PHYSICAL HEAVENS
Gen 1:1
Ps 19:1
Ps 50:6
Ps 68:33
Ps 89:29
Ps 97:6
Ps 103:11
Ps 113:4
Ps 115:16
Jer 31:37
Ezek 1:1
Mat 24:29
Mat 24:30
Acts 2:19
Acts 2:20
See Sub-topics
PHYSICAL HEAVENS, CREATION OF
Gen 1:1
Gen 2:1
1Ch 16:26
2Ch 2:12
Neh 9:6
Job 9:8
Ps 8:3
Ps 19:1
Ps 33:6
Ps 33:9
Ps 148:4-6
Prov 8:27
Isa 37:16
Isa 40:22
Isa 42:5
Isa 45:12
Isa 45:18
Jer 10:12
Jer 32:17
Jer 51:15
Acts 4:24
Acts 14:15
Heb 1:10
Rev 10:6
Rev 14:7
See HEAVEN
See CREATION
See GOD; CREATOR
PHYSICAL HEAVENS, DESTRUCTION OF
Job 14:12
Ps 102:25
Ps 102:26
Isa 34:4
Isa 51:6
Mat 5:18
Mat 24:35
Heb 1:10-12
2Pe 3:10
2Pe 3:12
Rev 6:12-14
Rev 20:11
Rev 21:1
Rev 21:4
NEW HEAVENS
Isa 65:17
Isa 66:22
2Pe 3:13
Rev 21:1-4
biblestudymanuals/sheol_hades.htm

biblestudymanuals.net/indxt.htm#tree

Unfaithful believers will weep and gnash teeth in millennial rule Mt 22

[TREE OF LIFE]:
Goto biblestudymanuals.net/indxt.htm#tree

Genesis 2:9 (NASB)
9  Out of the ground the LORD God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
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Genesis 3:22 (NASB)
22  Then the LORD God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever" - 
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Genesis 3:24 (NASB)
24  So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life.
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Proverbs 3:18 (NASB)
18  She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, And happy are all who hold her fast.
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Proverbs 11:30 (NASB)
30  The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, And he who is wise wins souls.
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Proverbs 13:12 (NASB)
12  Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But desire fulfilled is a tree of life.
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Proverbs 15:4 (NASB)
4  A soothing tongue is a tree of life, But perversion in it crushes the spirit.
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Revelation 2:7 (NASB)
7  'He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.'
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Revelation 22:2 (NASB)
2  in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
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Revelation 22:14 (NASB)
14  Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city.
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[1 Cor 6:2-3]:
(v. 2) "Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases?
(v. 3) Do you not know that we will judge angels?[the fallen, i.e., demonic angels]: How much more the things of this life!"

Many people picture heaven as a never-ending church service in the sky. Or they think we will all become angels who float around on clouds playing harps for the rest of time. Neither of these make eternity seem very appealing. And both are completely inaccurate according to the Bible.
In fact, heaven will be glorious and full of grandeur. We will experience fullness of joy as we live in the presence of God and fellowship with each other.

There are so many reasons to look forward to heaven, I want to give you a glimpse of three things heaven will be like.

For one, our friendships will be richer in heaven.

One of the most fascinating glimpses we have of heaven is in Hebrews 12:22-23, a passage that provides a list of heaven’s inhabitants:

88888) [Hebrews 12:22-23 NASB)]:
22  But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, 

23  to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect.

Now, who in that group is boring? We’re going to spend eternity with God, with His angels, with the Old Testament saints, and with Christians through all the ages. Can you imagine being in an environment like that?

There will be no misunderstandings or tiffs or tension among us. Our relationships will be so much healthier in heaven than here. Down here we have problems even with our closest friends. You know what that’s like. Someone says something to you, and you aren’t sure how to interpret it. You react to it -  perhaps overact. You say to yourself, “I wonder what he meant by that? I wonder why she said that?”

In heaven there will be none of that. Our relationships will be open, honest, interesting, loving, and uncomplicated by sin or our sinful natures. We will dwell with God, the angels, and one another in perfect compatibility and refreshing intimacy.

We will all be together in heaven. It won’t make any difference when we lived on earth. Imagine being best friends with people whom we’ve only read about in the Bible or in books. I’m eager to meet Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. Imagine having all the time we wanted to talk to Augustine, George Muller, Martin Luther, and William Tyndale. We’ll be great friends with our missionary heroes - William Carey, Adoniram Judson, Jim Elliot, Hudson Taylor, Amy Carmichael, and Eric Liddell, the Olympic champion who left it all to go to China for Christ.

Heaven is going to be such an incredible time of unlimited fellowship with people who have lived in all ages that I can’t begin to comprehend it, but I know it’s true. The Lord Jesus even gave us a glimpse of this on the Mount of Transfiguration when He stood there talking to Moses and Elijah, as the twelve disciples listened to the amazing conversation.

And don’t get me started on the fellowship we’ll enjoy with the angels! In heaven, we’ll be part of it all; and all our mentors, heroes, friends, ancestors, and descendants - all who know Jesus - will be there with us!

Our work will be sweeter in heaven.

Many people don’t think of heaven as a place of work but rather as a place of rest; but in heaven, the two go together. I wouldn’t want to spend eternity with nothing to do, for God made us to be productive.

The idea of service pervades the book of Revelation. The most glorious verse on this subject occurs in the last chapter, in Revelation 22:3: “And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him.” That tells us what we’ll be doing forever -  serving Him!

All of us will be serving in the fullest expression of the capacity God has given us and the giftedness with which He has blessed us. We will discover new gifts, new interests, and new pursuits. We will have new responsibilities and exercise positions of authority.
Whatever we do in heaven will have eternity stamped all over it. Think of that! Would your attitude toward your work change today if you knew everything you did, every ounce of energy you expended, every product you produced, every building you designed, every poem you wrote, every investment you made, and every lesson you taught would last forever? What a legacy! That’s the heritage we’ll have in heaven. Heaven won’t be boring because our work won’t be boring; it will be exciting.

Finally, in heaven, our longing for home will be [ful]filled.

Romans 8:22-23 says, “For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.”
There is a hunger with all creation and even among us who have God’s Spirit within us. It’s a yearning and an anticipation for the coming day of ultimate redemption. The redemption process unleashed at Calvary isn’t finished. God won’t be finished until all creation is redeemed and we yearn for that day. The decaying world around us will be replaced at the end of time by the new heaven and the new earth and the city of New Jerusalem. That’s what we truly crave.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 tells us God has placed eternity in our hearts. He created us with a space in our souls that can’t be satisfied by anything except things of everlasting duration. We need permanence. We need transcendence. We try to cram temporal things in the empty space with us, but they don’t assuage our spiritual appetite.

When we get to heaven, that ache is going to vanish. When we get to heaven, everything we do will bring us perfect satisfaction and lasting reward. When we get to heaven, we will never again engage in anything that will leave us feeling even a tad empty. When we get to heaven, everything we do will bring joy. We’ll be home.

It’s safe to say we won’t be bored in heaven. Heaven is going to be the most exciting, adventure-filled place your mind can imagine, multiplied by trillions.

[Rev 22:12-15]:

(v. 12) "[Jesus said] 'Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with Me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.

(v. 13) I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End

(v. 14) Blessed are those who wash their robes,

[***alt: blessed are they that do His commandments]

that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city."

(v. 15) Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood."

***The manuscripts that the King James Translators favored read 'poiountes tas entolas autou', rendered ..'that keep on doing His commandments', but other manuscripts read 'plunontes tas stolas auton', rendered 'that keep on washing their robes'.

[Bruce M Metzger, United Bible Societies, states, ('The Textual Commentary on The Greek New Testament' states, p. 767)]:

" 'poiountes tas entolas autou' =

[This] reading ['keep...commandments'] appears to be a scribal emendation [alteration for 'improvement'], for elsewhere the author uses the expression 'tapein tas entolas' [= also 'keep...commandments']. Moreover, the prepossessions [predispositions] of the scribes would have favored 'poiountes tas entolas' ['keep on doing His commandments'] rather than 'plunontes tas stolas' ['keep on washing their robes']".

[Bob Wilkin states, 'Who Are The Outsiders? Revelation 22:14-17']:

'''This article is a follow-up to my article in the last issue on Rev 21:8. Some pastors and theologians use Rev 21:8 and 22:15 to try and prove that all "true" Christians persevere in the faith. In my previous article I showed that Rev 21:8 does not support that view. In this article I will show the same things regarding Rev 22:15.

[Rev 22:15]:

(v. 15) "Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city."

REWARDS FOR FAITHFUL BELIEVERS

In light of the context, it is obvious that believers are in view here. However, it is a mistake to conclude that all believers are meant. Not all believers can be described as "those who do His commandments." Jesus did not take it for granted that even the Apostles would obey Him! He said to them, "If you love Me, keep my commandments" John 14:15), and, "You are My friends if you do whatever I command you" (John 15:14). Similarly, in Revelation chapters 2-3 the Lord makes it clear that being a victorious overcoming believer is not guaranteed (see, for example, 2:2-7, 10, 25-28; 3:11-12).

Two things are promised to the one who obeys the Lord as a characteristic pattern of life (no one obeys perfectly, cf. 1 John 1:8, 10):

(1) the right to the tree of life and

(2) the right to enter into the New Jerusalem through its gates. At first reading these may seem to be things which are true of all believers. However, that is not the case.

WHAT IS THE "RIGHT TO THE TREE OF LIFE"?

It is the right to eat its fruits.

[Compare Rev 2:7]:

"To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life."

Keep in mind that nothing is required for an eternally-secure person to remain saved. It is ridiculous to think that believers will need to eat fruit from the tree of life to retain their spiritual life.

What then is to be gained by eating this fruit? On the one hand, this fruit will be a wonderful delicacy which will be a delight to eat. On the other hand, the tree is called "the tree of life" for a reason. It will evidently grant to the believer who eats of it a special abundance of life. Today when we eat foods that are good for us we feel especially energized and encouraged. This will certainly be true of the food from the tree of life!

It is true, of course, that the tree of life was in the Garden of Eden as well. However, its fruit would not have had the same effect on fallen people with ungloried bodies as it will have in eternity on saints with glorified bodies. The tree of life will only grant abundant life to those with glorified bodies. According to Gen 3:22 the reason God removed Adam from the garden was "lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life and live forever." Had he eaten that fruit Adam would have lived forever in a state of separation from God (spiritual death). Of course, since the tree of life was never intended for that terrible purpose, God took it away from man until the eternal kingdom.

The second reward to the obedient believer is the right to enter the New Jerusalem by its gates. Several things must be born in mind here. For one thing, most likely all believers will be going in and out of the New Jerusalem from time to time. Some believers in eternity will have their primary dwelling in the New Jerusalem. Surely those people will sometimes venture outside its walls, visit the rest of the new earth, and return. And, many saints will not live in the New Jerusalem! According to Rev 21:24 the new earth will contain many nations and the kings of those nations will travel to the New Jerusalem to take tribute to the King of kings. It is likely that all who live in these nations will make trips to the New Jerusalem.

For another thing, the gates will not be the only way by which someone could enter the city. For example, people might travel by air, flying over the walls. Or, they might come in on a subway, going under the walls. It is even conceivable in light of John 20 that people might travel right through the walls!

Finally, we know from the OT that the gates of ancient cities were places of honor. The respected elders of the community were allowed to sit in the gates and it was from there that they rendered judgments in legal matters (cf. Gen 19:1; 22:17; Deut 22:15; 25:7; Ruth 4:1-12).

Thus being able to eat of the tree of life and to enter the New Jerusalem by its gates will be rewards reserved solely for believers who were victorious in their experience in this life.

[Rev 22:15 cont.]:

(v. 15) "Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood."

EXCLUSION FOR ALL UNBELIEVERS (v 15)

[Wilkin, cont.]

"Verse 15 says, 'But outside are the dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.'

While the word outside might sound like it refers to those outside the New Jerusalem but yet still on the new earth, that is clearly not the case. The Lord is speaking of those who are entirely outside the kingdom.

Three lines of evidence suggest this interpretation. First, there will be no sinners in the eternal kingdom. None. Verse 15 is describing the condition of people at that time, not their experience in this life. No believer with a glorified body could be described as being a dog, a sorcerer, a sexually immoral person, a murderer, an idolater, or a liar. While those things were true of giants of the faith like David (2 Samuel) and Solomon (1 Kings 11) in their experiences prior to death, they could never be true of saints with glorified bodies.

Second, Rev 21:27 says that only those whose names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life will enter "it." The word it there most naturally refers to the kingdom since there will be no one anywhere on the New Earth whose name is not written in the Lamb's Book of Life. All such people will be in the lake of fire (cf. Rev 20:15).

Third, Rev 21:8 refers to many of the same sins as mentioned in Rev 22:15 (i.e., murderers, sexually immoral, idolaters, and liars) and it clearly assigns the fate of people so designated as "the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."

Unbelievers will forever remain unjustified sinners who are forever excluded from God's kingdom.

[Rev 22:17]:

"The Spirit and the bride say, 'Come!' And let him who hears say, 'Come!' Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.'"

INCLUSION FOR ALL WHO BELIEVE (V 17)

[Wilkin, cont.]:

'''Verse 17 reads, "And the Spirit and the bride say, 'Come!' And let him who thirst come. And whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely."

Here once again is the free offer of eternal life. In the closing verses of the NT we find another free offer of the water of life. No strings are attached.

Not only is there no reason to interpret v. 15 as teaching that all "true" believers will persevere, but such an interpretation is directly contradicted by v. 17. Eternal life is free!

CONCLUSION

Revelation 22:15 in no way proves that all Christians live obedient, victorious lives. Neither does it prove that no Christian will be a murderer or a liar or an adulterer. It doesn't have anything to do with those issues at all. What it is saying is that the kingdom will contain no sinners. As John says, "When He is revealed, [then] we shall be like Him" (1 John 3:2). Amen! "Even so, come, Lord Jesus!" (Rev 22:20).'''

[Rev 22:18 (NASB)]:

"I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book;"

Evidently the canon of Scripture is closed for this age, it being the last book of the 66 books of the Bible.

[Rev. 22:19 (KJV)]:

"And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book."

[Rev 22:19 (NIV)]:

"19 And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book."

A) BOOK OF LIFE VS TREE OF LIFE

The Greek manuscript evidence for the reading "book of life" (biblou tes zoes) is hard to trace, for although it appears in the Textus Receptus, another reading, "tree of life" (tou xulou tes zoes), is in UBS-4 (without comment) and in the Majority Text in the NKJV Interlinear, (not the NKJV version / translation); the Greek "xulou" is rendered as "tree" which is in the main body of p. 898 but with a footnote "TR has "biblou" rendered book.

Tree of life" appears outside this passage a total of three times: 2:7, 22:2, and 22:14. The "tree" appears to be a symbol of reward, while the "book" is symbolic of a person's very salvation. Notice the difference between 2:7 and 3:5 --the former pictures a believer who has already entered the holy city and is receiving fruit from the tree as a reward, while the latter pictures one just getting to enter the city (putting on "white raiment," which is the preparation for entering into His joys; cf. Matt. 22:11) and being assured of his entrance in the words, "I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels."

For the book of Revelation Erasmus borrowed a copy from his friend Reuchlin, dating from the twelfth century, this lacked the final leaf, which had contained the last six verses of the book. For these verses Erasmus depended upon Jerome's Latin Vulgate, translating these verses into Greek. The corruption of "tree" into "book" had occured earlier in the translation of the Latin text when a scribe accidentally miscopied the correct word "lingo" ("tree") as "libro" ("book").

[William W. Combs, ERASMUS AND THE TEXTUS RECEPTUS *

http://www.dbts.edu/media/journals/1996_1/ERASMUS.PDF

"Because Codex 1r was missing its last page and thus the last six verses of Revelation (22:16–21), Erasmus retranslated these verses from the Latin Vulgate, and he honestly admitted in the Annotationes that he had done so. But again, this produced, by my count, twenty errors in his Greek NT which are still in the TR today. They have no Greek manuscript support whatsoever."

The 'Tree of Life' rendering in Rev 22:19 does create a problem if it is the correct one because it infers that if you make a purposeful doctrinal error then you go to hell. Now how many doctrinal errors have you and I committed, purposefully - can you say you have a perfect record in understanding the bible? The rest of the bible teaches that the only way to not have a part in the Book of Life is to not believe in Christ as Savior. So I might expect to miss out on a full sharing in the Tree of Life. But Eph 1:13-14 says that I will not miss out in my share in the Book of Life. Funny term: share in the Book of Life rather than being written in or not written in. The context screams Tree not Book. There is no sharing in the Book of Life, you are either written in or not at the end of time, which determines your eternal destiny: heaven or hell, respectively.

Some say "Book of Life" is found in the Greek manuscripts noted by H. C. Hoskier as 57 and 141.

[H. C. Hoskier, Concerning The Text Of The Apocalypse, London: Quaritch, 1929; vol. 1, 474-477 and vol. 2, 454 and 634.) ]:

(info. received from Debbie Hunn, Dallas Theological Seminary Library, 3909 Swiss Ave Dallas TX 75204 phone: 214-841-3752 fax: 214-841-3745 dhunn@dts.edu):

'''Hoskier's second volume, p. 634, does use "book of life" instead of "tree of life." '''

This is the (Greek) text of Stephen's third edition of 1550, the text with which all Hoskier's collations are made. However, Hoskier's lists manuscript evidence for "tree" and does not appear to list much evidence for "book." '''

[Note that the King James Version has "book of life" because of reliance upon the Textus Receptus which accepts the Vulgate Latin for lack of Greek manuscript evidence at the time that Erasmus' manuscript evidence was used to compile the KJV translation. The New King James follows the old King James pretty closely, so it has "Book" but it also offers a cross reference in the text as a footnote in the margin which stipulates that the NU and Maj texts read "Tree of life." On the other hand, the New King James Interlinear offers just the opposite emphasis on "Tree of life" with a footnote, "TR has book" in the margin which marginalizes "Book of life as actually found in Greek manuscripts as representative of the original text.

So there is some manuscript evidence for "Book." But it appears to be so small that the Nestle-Aland critical text (ed. xxvii) does not even mention it, nor does the UBS. Manuscript evidence for "Tree," includes WH, NU, Sinaiticus, A, P, Gries, Lach, Treg, Alf, Word, Tisc, Weis, Sod, UBS and various versions as opposed to Steph, it(e), Vg(MSS) which has "Book."]

(Isa 65:17 NIV) Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.

(Isa 65:18 NIV) But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy.' "

On the one hand the LORD revealed Himself to those who were not Israelites, (i.e., Gentiles), who neither asked for Him nor sought Him. In spite of the fact that they did not call on His name, He said to them 'Here am I, here am I', (Isa 65:1). On the other hand, all day long the LORD had held out His hands to generations of ancient Israelites but they were obstinate in their unfaithfulness, pursuing their own evil imaginations in disobedience to His commands to their own destruction, (Isa 65:11-12). So the LORD saw to it that a remnant of ancient Israelites would be preserved so that His decree and promise of a future generation of Israelites to occupy the promised land in the new heavens and the new earth as His chosen people forever would be fulfilled, (cf. Isa 65:8-9, 17-18). So the LORD intervenes so that a remnant of Israelites are not destroyed. Hence descendants of Israel will inherit the promised land and have eternal life in the new heavens and the new earth as He promised. They will no longer remember the days when they were unfaithful. 

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Isaiah 65:17 says, “For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.” Some interpret Isaiah 65:17 as saying that we will have no memory of our earthly lives in heaven. However, one verse earlier in Isaiah 65:16, the Bible says, “For the past troubles will be forgotten and hidden from my eyes.” It is likely only our “past troubles” will be forgotten, not all of our memories. Our memories will eventually be cleansed, redeemed, healed, and restored, not erased. There is no reason why we could not possess many memories from our earthly lives. The memories that will be cleansed are the ones that involve sin, pain, and sadness. Revelation 21:4 declares, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

BELIEVERS OF THE CHURCH AGE WILL HAVE AUTHORITY OVER THE ANGELS AND POSSESS EVEN GREATER CAPACITIES

Believers Will Rule Over Angels

Hebrews 2:5-9

Believers Will Rule Over Angels  -  Gil Rugh (biblebb.com)

(The following text is taken from a sermon preached by Gil Rugh in 1978.)

"As we have examined, the author illustrated Christ's superiority to angels throughout chapter 1. Now he picks up this argument again in verse 5. He says, 'For He did not subject to angels the world to come, concerning which we are speaking.' The question is 'When Jesus became a man, did He lose His superiority over angels?' What is the answer? The answer is the author is going to outline the fact that it is not God's intention for man to be inferior to the angels. Ultimately, man will be superior to the angels because of the work of Christ completed on the cross."

The foundation for this truth is found in Genesis 1:26. God says, concerning man, 'Let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.' The principle is that man, because he was made in the image of God, was given authority to rule over every other created thing, including angels.

In verse 5 of Hebrews chapter 2, the author is looking forward to the millennial kingdom. The 'world to come' (referring to an inhabited earth) will not be subjected to 'angels.' This is a plain fact. The author is declaring that the future earth will not be ruled by angels.

Now it is important that we recognize the difference between man's place in Genesis chapter 1, and man's place presently. As we exist today, angels rule in our realm. You may ask, 'Wait a minute, you just said that in Genesis man is placed in a position of authority over all created things. What's going on?

In Daniel 10:13, Daniel had prayed to God, and an angel was sent with a response. But the angel says he could not deliver the message because, '...the prince of the kingdom of Persia was withstanding me for twenty-one days; then behold Miscall, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left there with the kings of Persia.' Now, the 'prince of the kingdom of Persia' was not a human being. Humans cannot stand in the way of an angel delivering a message. The reference here is to a demonic being, a fallen angel who is ruling the kingdom of Persia.

Later, in verse 20, we see that Persia is not the only kingdom on earth that is ruled by a fallen angel; '...But I shall now return to fight against the prince of Persia; so I am not going forth, and behold, the prince of Greece is about to come.' This pattern holds true throughout scripture. The Bible tells us that Satan, the god of this world, has given control of each nation to one of his demons. This is the emphasis in Daniel. Each nation on earth has a demon ruler, and Satan's purposes in each nation are carried out by his legion of fallen angels.

This will change in the world to come. 1 Corinthians 6:3 illustrates this point perfectly. Paul says, 'Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, matters of this life?' In the context, Paul is explaining to the Corinthians that believers will rule the world in the future, including the judging of angels. Now if we are going to be engaged in these types of activities, are we not capable of judging a disagreement between two believers? The point is clear. The millennial kingdom will be a much different place than the world we live in now. And in that world, believers will once again be superior to every created being.

Jesus Himself was even tempted by Satan concerning the ability to rule the world. Do you remember what Satan promised Christ? Matthew 4:8-10 tells us; 'Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world, and their glory; and he said to Him, 'All these things will I give You, if You fall down and worship me.' Then Jesus said to him, 'Be gone, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.' ' Notice that Christ does not refute Satan's claims that he rules this world. This is the same type of temptation that Satan gave Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. The difference is that the God-man, Jesus Christ, resisted Satan, while man fell to the temptation and thus has subjected himself to the rule of Satan to this present day.

VERSES 6-8

The author proceeds in verses 6 through 8 to further prove that angels will not rule in the millennial kingdom. He quotes from Psalm 28 saying, 'But one has testified somewhere, saying, 'What is man that Thou rememberest him? Or the son of man, that Thou art concerned about Him? Thou hast made him for a little while lower than the angels; Thou hast crowned him with glory and honor, and hast appointed him over the works of Thy hands; Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet.'

You know, sometimes while I'm preaching I will refer to a verse, and I will completely forget where in the Bible it is. I say, 'You know what the New Testament says,' or 'You know what the apostle Paul says.' But I couldn't find it if I wanted to. It almost sounds as if the same thing happened to the author of Hebrews in verse 6. He starts out saying, '...one has testified somewhere... .' However, the author then proceeds to quote verbatim from the Old Testament Scripture. He knows where the passage is. It is simply the practice of the author not to give reference to the passage he is quoting. Why does he do this? Remember, he has already established that all revelation comes from God, so he does not want to deal with the human instrument through whom it was written.

The author, through the quotation of Psalm 8, is bringing our attention to the majesty of God, and ultimately, to the dignity of man. Now that may seem strange in light of the fact that we are continually told that we are depraved, godless sinners destined for eternity in hell. But now, the author quotes from Psalm 8, and we are told that we will be given glory and honor. Why? Because of the position we are given by God. The author says, 'What is man that Thou rememberest Him...? In other words, the author is asking, 'Why would you even pay attention to mankind? You God, are full of majesty. We are nothing compared to You.'

He continues, referring to humanity as '...the Son of Man,' not referring to the title given to Christ, but emphasizing the humanity of mankind. Some would say that because Christ lowered Himself to human form, He lost His superiority to the angels. But according to Scripture, that is not true. Some people never get past this point because they dwell continually on the depravity of man without any understanding of our future significance. All they see is man as worthless, useless beings. But even though God sees us that way, He also sees us as we will be in the future, when we have been brought to glory in His presence.

In verse 7, the author says that we are '...for a little while lower than the angels.' Again, this verse looks forward to the millennial kingdom. And this phrase can be interpreted to mean that we are a 'little...lower.' So presently, we are just under the angels in the order of authority outlined by God. But that will change in the future kingdom, when mankind is placed in authority second only to the Trinity. That is exciting!

Perhaps the clearest definition of our present subjection to angels is seen in our mortality. While you and I are subject to dying and death, the angels are not. This contrast was drawn by Christ in Luke's account of His life. Speaking of men in the future kingdom, Christ says, 'for neither can they die anymore, for they are like angels, and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection' (Luke 20:36). In our resurrection bodies we will be glorified, and will be 'like' angles, in that we will not experience physical death.

The word 'like' means 'equal' to angels. It is a different word than is used in other parallel passages in the gospels, and it means that we are equal to angels in the sense that we will not die. We will still have authority over angels, but we are 'like' angels in the fact that we will not die.

In Genesis chapter 1, Moses illustrated the truth that man was created to be in charge of every created thing, including angels, before the fall. Verses 7 and 8 highlight this truth as well. The author says, 'Thou hast crowned him with glory and honor, and hast appointed him over the works of Thy hands; Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet.' Again, it is God's intention that everything in the created realm be subjected to man.

Beginning in the middle of verse 8, the author summarizes what we have just examined in verses 6 through 8. He says, 'For in subjecting all things to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him. But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him.' As one can see, nothing is excluded. God has put everything created in subjection to man. But that is not the arrangement presently. Between Genesis chapter 1 and Hebrews chapter 2, man has fallen under the power and presence of sin. Man voluntarily subjected himself to the creation, to a fallen angel, and in so doing, man gave up the dominion that had been given to him by God. Therefore, man has been temporarily placed in a position of inferiority.

Now we say 'temporarily' because God's plan will ultimately be fulfilled by those who trust in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

VERSE 9

Verse nine outlines God's plan for the restoration of man to his position of authority over all of creation; 'But we do see Him who has been made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.' Verse 9 drives home the point that man was created to be sovereign, but cast himself down when he fell to Satan's temptation. But Jesus Christ has made the provision for mankind to be restored to his original position, by lowering himselfto human form, and dying on a cross.

Verse 9 is structured in what is referred to as the 'chiasmos' pattern in the Greek. In this pattern, the verse is structured in the form of an X. Very simply, this means that the first and last statements go together, and the middle two statements go together. For example, in verse 9 the first statement '...made for a little while lower than the angels,' fits with the last statement '....that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.' In like manner, the middle two statements, '...because of suffering and death,' Christ is '..crowned with glory and honor' fit together.

We will examine each phrase as they appear in the chiasmo order. The first fact concerning Christ is that He was made '...for a little while lower than the angels... .' This is the same thing that was said about man in verse 7, indicating Christ's complete identification with humanity. He didn't come to earth as mostly man, but as a completely man.

Why did Christ come to earth as man? The second fact concerning Christ is that 'by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.' Jesus Christ did not become a man in order to live a long and happy life on earth. He was born so that He could 'taste' or 'experience' death.

It is important to note that Christ experienced death 'by the grace of God.' Now that may seem strange to us. We usually think of God's grace when someone is allowed to live. But Christ's death was through the grace of God because He was providing salvation. If Christ would not have died there would be no salvation for you and me. There has never been salvation provided to the fallen angels because Christ did not become an angel, He became a man. We don't deserve to have the salvation provided by Christ's death, but 'by the grace of God' it is finished for us. He provides salvation to 'everyone' who will believe in His work and person. Those who do not respond, and drift by the safe harbor of Christ, are justly condemned.

It is not God's desire that anyone goes to hell. It is God's desire that everyone be saved. If someone goes to hell, it is because that person wanted to go to hell. 1 Timothy says, 'For there is one God...who gave Himself as a ransom for all...' (1 Timothy 2:5-6). Why are not all men saved? Because the vast majority of sinful mankind refuse to believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. They refuse to accept this free gift of salvation, and all that is left when one does not accept salvation, is destruction.

Where is Christ right now? The third statement in verse 9 tells us that He is '...crowned with glory and honor... .' While men will someday be crowned with glory and honor, and restored to our original position of authority, Christ is crowned right now! Why? Because 'of the suffering of death.' The penalty has been paid, Christ is victorious. He suffered and died for the sins of you and me, but now He is receiving the glory and honor He deserves, sitting at the right hand of God.

The fact that Christ is 'crowned with glory and honor' is a reflection of His Lordship. Philippians 2:8-11 reaffirms this truth; 'And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name. That at the name of Jesus 'Every knee should bow,' of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Here we are given a glimpse of the total sovereignty of Jesus Christ. And you and I, as believers in Christ, are allowed to partake of His sovereignty when we come to believe in Him. We have the position for which we were originally created, but we still may not carry it out in our practice.

Revelation 20:6 gives us a picture of what our practice will be in the future. The point in time here is the millennial kingdom, after the rapture, and after the seven year tribulation. Christ has returned to set up His kingdom. John says, 'Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.' Do you see what happens? We will be reestablished in the position for which we were created. Jesus Christ is totally sovereign over all, and we will be ruling with Him.

Hebrews 2:9 is such an important verse because it tells us how man can now have the potential to enter into the position that we lost at the fall, so many years ago. The frustration and futility can be ended because Jesus Christ became a man in order to pay the penalty for our sin. Those who believe in Him have forgiveness of sins, and are brought into a personal relationship with God for all eternity. For those of us who are His children, we can look forward to a time in the future when we will be put into a position of authority, ruling with our Lord and Savior over all of creation."

INDIVIDUALS WILL BE ABLE TO RECOGNIZE ONE ANOTHER IN HEAVEN