articles of chapter 6

Who will receive the Crown of Righteousness?

                                                                                                                         

Isn’t heaven the prize for Christians? – What is this prize, the Crown of Righteousness? – Why does the Bible say ‘in store’? – Christ brings the reward when he comes – Who deserve the Crown of Righteousness? – Those who do the will of God – Who will be the first to be rewarded? – The little flock – The second resurrection – The glory of God and Christ – What does ‘δόξα’ mean? – How does the nature of people reflect the glory of change? – Access to the Kingdom of God – God’s co-workers – The new man and the new earth

 

Isn’t heaven the prize for Christians?

If we ask believing Christians, what is the top prize for a believer, the most popular answer would probably be “going to heaven.” Or ‘God’s paradise.’ Someone says, ‘eternal life’ or ‘immortality.’

The correct answer, according to the Bible and Paul, is The Crown of Righteousness.

It is a figurative expression, as are many of the phrases used in the Bible. In this article, I will go into more detail on this issue. What is this wreath of righteousness, of which the English translations call the crown of righteousness? Who in ancient times received a wreath for the prize? The winners of the sports competitions were crowned with a laurel wreath. Paul says of this highest prize:

2 Tim 4:6-7 “For I am already being offered, and the time of my departure has come.” – Having said this, Paul sees his earthly journey coming to an end, he states:

From now on, there is stored up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me on that day; and not to me only, but also to all those who have loved his appearing. (2 Tim 4:8)

Before I go into more detail about this issue of the highest prize for believers, I say a few words about the writer of the above Bible verse.

His name was Saulus. He was an ardent Pharisee whose activities took place after Jesus’ death. He was tasked with capturing Christians and bringing them in captivity to Jerusalem. Once he was on his way to Damascus to arrest Christians there. While traveling with his comrades on the road to Damascus, suddenly, a huge bright flash occurred, and Saul became blind. He heard a loud voice calling out. “Who are you,” he asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” Saul’s comrades led the blind Saulus to Damascus. There, for three days, he was blind, pondering what had happened. Then Saulus was directed to other Christians and made a complete conversion; the fierce Pharisee became a fiery Christian, called the apostle of the nations, Paul.

Many, perhaps even the majority, of Christians believe and earnestly expect to reach heaven after they die. What does the Bible say about it?

Apt 2:34 “For David didn’t ascend into the heavens, but he says himself, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit by my right hand,” Even though David was a man of God, David could not enter heaven. John testifies: “No one has ascended into heaven, but he who descended out of heaven, the Son of Man, who is in heaven.” (Joh 3:13).

This is difficult for Christians to accept. Throughout the ages, heaven has been believed to be the ultimate prize for Christians. If, for example, the father or mother of a young child dies, the child is comforted by telling her that she is in heaven and watching you from there. Similarly, the parent is comforted by assuring that the dead child is naturally in heaven with the angels.

Such faith in heaven is not based in any way on the word of the Bible. And then, after the resurrection, will we then get to heaven? What if heaven, the city of the living God, the Heavenly Jerusalem, comes down to earth? Even the book of Revelation says: 21:2 “I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready like a bride adorned for her husband. (also 3:12 ja 21:10).

God also promised Abraham: Act 3:25 “You are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘In your seed will all the families of the earth be blessed.” God has promised that “The righteous shall inherit the land and live in it forever” (Psa 37:29).

 

What is this prize, the Crown of Righteousness?

2 Tim 4:8 “From now on, there is stored up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me on that day; and not to me only, but also to all those who have loved his appearing.”

Strong’s defines the Greek word Stephanos; (engl. crown)

  1. a mark of royal or (in general) exalted rank
    1. the wreath or garland which was given as a prize to victors in public games
  2. the eternal blessedness which will be given as a prize to the genuine servants of God and Christ: the crown (wreath) which is the reward of the righteousness
  3. that which is an ornament and honour to one

στφανος stéphanos, a prize in the public games. – In ancient Greece, the winner of the competition was decorated with a laurel wreath, so ‘wreath’ is also a right translation.

In this Bible verse, Paul promises this reward to all who love the idea of the second coming of Christ Jesus. There are other expressions used in the Bible for the same goal. A believer whose great desire is to see Jesus come is, by all means, a good Christian, who believes in God and strives to do his will. He is born again from above. He believes that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, who, through his death, has redeemed all mankind from the power of sin.

There are thus many ways to describe the award. If you do according to the will of God, if you are born again from above, if you believe that Jesus is the Son of God, if you are lovingly waiting for the appearance of Jesus …

Did you notice the word “in store” in 2 Timothy 4:8. The NIV translation says “there is in store for me.”

 

Why does the Bible say ‘in store’?

In heaven, there is an assessment made of people’s faith and behavior. Believers and those who act in the manner required by faith are recorded in the Book of Life. There, their behavior is deposited for the payment of prize (or wages). The Crown of Righteousness and the Book of Life are both figurative expressions. How do they relate to each other?

The names of those who are worthy of eternal life at the last judgment, are written in the Book of Life. Names are added to the Book of Life as new people come to faith. The name is removed if one gives up his faith. However, the Book of Life will not be considered until it is time for a final judgment.

So the names of those who are saved are stored in the Book of Life.

 

However, there is an important aspect to the deposited Crown of Righteousness; a number of Crowns of righteousness are distributed long before the final judgment. They will be given to those who are partakers of the first resurrection. They are the Saints of the Bible who reign with Christ in the Millennial Kingdom, and they act as judges at Christ’s last judgment.

What about “that day?” The next title tells you what it means; When Christ comes to earth the second time, he will bring his reward. This is when people get paid for the first time.

 

Christ brings the reward when he comes

Luk 6:23 “Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven, for their fathers did the same thing to the prophets.”

You can, of course, think that wages are kept in store in heaven and paid when you get there in due course. But why then does Jesus say this: Rev 22:12 “Behold, I come quickly. My reward is with me, to repay to each man according to his work.”

Not only does Jesus promise to come from heaven to earth, but he also gives each man a reward, according to what good or evil each has done. Another point to note is, wouldn’t it be strange if the people who went to heaven stayed in heaven and Jesus came from there down on earth, leaving the resurrected in heaven? Only after Jesus has come the second time and reigned for a thousand years does the second resurrection take place, and each one is given a final judgment.

 

Who deserve the Crown of Righteousness?

Those who do the will of God

Mar 3:35 “For whoever does the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.”

1 Joh 2:17 “The world is passing away with its lusts, but he who does God’s will remains forever.”

Jesus promises to acknowledge his brothers or sisters who believe in God and are doing the will of God. When you consider this in greater detail, it states that it is the greatest promise; you are Jesus’ brother and a Son of God. John aptly compares the transience of the earthly world to its opposite, the eternal life. So very often, people seek this short-lived and fleeting enjoyment of the world instead of building their lives on Christ.

Is it easy for a man to live his life according to God’s will? Is it possible at all?

Joh 6:37-40 “All those who the Father gives me will come to me. Him who comes to me I will in no way throw out.   38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me.   39 This is the will of my Father who sent me, that of all he has given to me I should lose nothing, but should raise him up at the last day.   40 For this is my Father’s will, that everyone who sees the Son, and believes in him, should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

Jesus confirms that he has been sent into the world to do the will of God: when a man seeks to do the will of God in his life, he believes in the Son of God and receives the promise that Jesus Christ will raise him at the last day of eternal life.

However, Jesus’ greatest commandment is: “So Jesus said to him (Mat 22:37): “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” It follows from love for God that one wants to do according to God’s will. 1 Joh 5:3 “For this is the love of God: that we keep his commandments; and his commandments are not difficult.”

As we live this way, we can create the same kind of relationship with God as once Abraham or King David. Abraham was called “a friend” by God. Who would be more heart-warming, be a friend of God, or be a brother of Jesus? How would it sound like if God spoke of you as he said of King David; he is the man of my liking. This is what God said, even though King David had murdered a man, but David later repented and became a completely different person.

Mat 11:29 “Take my [Christ’s] yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you will find rest for your souls.”

 

Who will be the first to be rewarded?

The little flock

The first to receive the reward or ‘wages’ are the most faithful servants of God. They are called a “little flock” by the Bible. Jesus says in Luk 12:32 “Don’t be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.”

How big or how small is this little herd? A few dozen? A couple of hundreds? In my last article, I referred to the calculations of demographers that over 100 billion people have lived in the world so far. Few of these are potential candidates. In today’s world, there are no more than a few billion Christians. Again, only a fraction of these are God’s elect. Still, I would imagine that there would be reborn believers, not a few hundred, but perhaps a few hundred million. Still, it is a relatively small group compared to the huge population of over one hundred billion who have to face the last judgment.

The book of Revelation says figuratively that the little group comprises 12,000 of each Israeli tribe or a total of 144,000. Is this a ‘little’ group anymore? Sometimes in the 1960s, I wondered about the problem of overpopulation in the world; I thought that all the people in the world would be able to stand on the ice of a Lake in Lapland if four people were put to stand in every square meter. Medieval scientists quarreled about how many angels could stand at the end of a pin. Just as crazy a thought as my calculations! Such calculations are absurd when we remember that the people of the future world live in the spirit body.

The number of rulers with Jesus could be quite large; in his metaphor, Jesus promised one to come to rule ten cities and another to rule five cities. Perhaps there are several levels of government; the supreme king is, in any case, Christ himself. King David rules all Israel. Each apostle rules over each tribe of Israel. With billions of residents in the Millennial kingdom, long before, there will be a huge need for local leaders and teachers. A large portion of the population is Gentiles, some of whom have never even heard of Christ.

Isa 66:18 “For I know their works and their thoughts: the time comes, that I will gather all nations and languages; and they shall come, and shall see my glory. 19 I will set a sign among them, and I will send such as escape of them to the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, who draw the bow, to Tubal and Javan, to the isles afar off, who have not heard my fame, neither have seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the nations.”

John describes the Second Coming of Christ: Rev 1:7 “Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, including those who pierced him. All the tribes of the earth will mourn over him. Even so, Amen.”

Mat 24:30 “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky. Then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. Act 1:11 who also said, “You men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who was received up from you into the sky will come back in the same way as you saw him going into the sky.”

Paul describes this little flock as follows:

1 Tes 4:15 “For this we tell you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left to the coming of the Lord, will in no way precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with God’s trumpet. The dead in Christ will rise first, 17 then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air. So we will be with the Lord forever.

When Christ comes with His heavenly host for the second time, God’s elect will be the first to rise from the dead. This is the first resurrection. Paul goes on to describe how the living elect, together with the resurrected dead, are caught up against Christ in the clouds.

Rev 20:6 Blessed and holy is he who has 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 one thousand years.

In his first Corinthian epistle, Paul describes the first resurrection.

1 Cor 15:51 Let me tell you a secret. Not all of us will die, but all of us will be changed,
52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed.
53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
54 But when this corruptible will have put on incorruption, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then what is written will happen: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

All those who resurrect will change: they change into the spirit body. When it comes to “the resurrection of the body” as in the creed, it is precisely the conversion of the physical body into the spiritual body. In many cases, there is nothing left of the dead body. The body has completely disappeared over the millennia. The bodies of the deceased may have disappeared, for example, in a fire or explosion. The dead body is not needed at all in the resurrection. From where the resurrection takes place, is the human spirit which, when the person has died, has ascended to heaven. The Bible says: When Stephen was stoned, he begged: Act 7:59, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!

The spirits of all the dead are “stored” in heaven. There have been over a hundred billion people who have lived and died so far, and their spirits are all in heaven. Are these spirits in a conscious or unconscious state? I have not given much thought to it, but referring to the Bible, I would say that the spirits are completely unconscious. Ecc 9:5 “For the living know that they will die, but the dead don’t know anything,”

1 Cor 15:44 “It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body and there is also a spiritual body.

At the same time, they get immortality, that is, as the Bible says in the old language, “the mortal shall have put on immortality.” According to 15:51, these people are an exception to the Biblical rule that everyone must die.

They also enter the kingdom of God and meet Christ. Not only do the first resurrected, elected by God, receive immortality, and their appearance change; they will become like Christ. 1 Joh 3:2 “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it is not yet revealed what we will be. But we know that, when he is revealed, we will be like him; for we will see him just as he is.”

Christ is described in Rev 1:14 “His head and his hair were white as white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire. 15 His feet were like burnished brass, as if it had been refined in a furnace. His voice was like the voice of many waters.” Rev 2:18 “… The Son of God, whose eyes are like flaming fire and whose feet are like glowing bronze, says this:

Rev 14:1 “Then I looked, and there was the lamb standing on Mount Zion! With him were 144,000 people who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads.
Rev 14:3 “They were singing a new song in front of the throne, the four living creatures, and the elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth.”

The twelve sons of Jacob, the ancestors of the tribes of Israel:

Mother Leah: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun

Mother Zilpah (concubine): Dan, Naphtali

Mother Bilhah (concubine):  Gad, Asher

Mother Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin

Rev 7:5 “Of the tribe of Judah were sealed twelve thousand, Of the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand, Of the tribe of Gad twelve thousand,
6 Of the tribe of Asher twelve thousand, Of the tribe of Naphtali twelve thousand, Of the tribe of Manasseh twelve thousand,
7 Of the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand, Of the tribe of Levi twelve thousand, Of the tribe of Issachar twelve thousand,

8 Of the tribe of Zebulun twelve thousand, Of the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand, Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand.

Manasseh is included in the above group of sons of Jacob. Manasseh was one of Joseph’s sons, and Jacob was his grandfather. Why Joseph and Manasseh are both listed, but for some reason, the list does not include Jacob’s son Dan. Manasseh’s younger brother Ephraim is also missing. The Levites did not receive their own land when the land was given to the tribes of Israel, because they were priestly tribes. However, they received a number of cities. All in all, the list based on the sons of Jacob is problematic, not least because ten of the tribes of Israel are missing.

Do old tribal lists have anything to do with defining the composition of the little flock? After all, these Jews knew nothing about Christ. Faith in Christ as the Son of God is central to choosing the saints of God’s kingdom.

Joh 20:31 “but these are written, that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.” Plus: 1 Joh 5:12 He who has the Son has the life. He who doesn’t have God’s Son doesn’t have the life.” – Of the Jews, the whole family of the sons of Jacob are pure Jews who have not even had the opportunity in their lives to believe in Christ as the Son of God. The New Testament conveys the image of entering God’s kingdom; the first set i.e., the little flock, as Jesus called it, is based on faith in Jesus as the Son of God and the redeemer of those who believe in him. Another verse of John confirms this notion:

Joh 14:6 “Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through me.

Therefore, I tend to regard this list of Revelation based on the sons of Jacob as figurative. Symbolism stems from Abraham, his numerous descendants who are promised to inherit the earth; Josh 24:3 “I took your father Abraham from beyond the River, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and gave him Isaac.” Act 3:25 “You are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying to Abraham, In your seed will all the families of the earth be blessed.” – All nations in the earth – not just Jews – are blessed, and there are no restrictions on access to the little flock.

Will all receive this blessing promised to Abraham, even the Jews who do not recognize Jesus Christ as the Son of God?

Israel is God’s chosen people, although it does not obey God’s will in recognizing Jesus as God’s own Son. However, God always saves a small remnant of his people. Paul wrote: Romans 9:27 “Isaiah cries concerning Israel, “If the number of the children of Israel are as the sand of the sea, it is the remnant who will be saved. Jesus rebuked the high priests and the pharisees, saying in Matthew 21:43 “Therefore I tell you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you, and will be given to a nation bringing forth its fruits.”

– The kingdom of God will be taken from you! And to whom is the kingdom of God given? To those who believe in the Son of God, Jesus Christ. The Jews still do not believe, except for a small group.

Paul, the Jewish Pharisee, who then converted to Christianity, the apostle of nations, redefined Judaism: Rom 2:29 “but he is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit not in the letter; whose praise is not from men, but from God.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ten_Lost_Tribes

 

Later the wages will be paid to the great multitude:

Rev 7:9 “ After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude, which no man could number, out of every nation and of all tribes, peoples, and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, dressed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands. 10 They cried with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation be to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

Who are these people who belong to this great multitude? It is told to John shortly after the little flock is first explained:

Rev 7:13 “One of the elders answered, saying to me, “These who are arrayed in white robes, who are they, and from where did they come?
14 I told him, “My lord, you know.” He said to me, “These are those who came out of the great tribulation. They washed their robes, and made them white in the Lamb’s blood.
15 Therefore they are before the throne of God, they serve him day and night in his temple. He who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them.
16 They will never be hungry, neither thirsty any more; neither will the sun beat on them, nor any heat;
17 for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne shepherds them, and leads them to springs of waters of life. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Waiting for Jesus’ second coming (manifestation) means believing:

Joh 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

1 Joh 5:11 “The testimony is this, that God gave to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He who has the Son has the [eternal] life. He who doesn’t have God’s Son doesn’t have the life. 13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God. 

Luk 18:8 “But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” – Jesus was pessimistic about whether there would be believers on earth at the time of his Second Coming.

As we watch the world go by today and what kind of ‘believers’ there are in the world, we can only say that Jesus’ guess is right. He would not find true faith, but God has seen this happen. That’s why he wanted to make salvation easy.

Indeed. It is easy to be rescued in this great multitude; all you have to do is shout one word, Jesus. After all, the Bible promises that anyone who calls on the Lord’s name will be saved. I am sure both Jesus and Jehovah will qualify as the Lord’s name.

These people who form the great multitude form the population of the Millennial Kingdom led by Christ and the Saints. They have not yet reached immortality, but they are still living in a kingdom of peace, in a state of paradise. They have a good chance of attaining the victory prize described by Paul when they are once raised for the Second Resurrection at the end of the Millennium.

 

The second resurrection

The Crown of Righteousness has not yet been distributed to all those who deserve it; 2 Tim 4: 8 promises: “which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me on that day; and not to me only, but also to all those who have loved his appearing.” The rest of the recipients of the prize will receive it when the second resurrection has taken place; then every man’s deeds will be examined, and God’s purifying fire will burn wrong deeds. It is described in 1 Cor 3: “But if anyone builds [his life, his faith] on the foundation with gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, or stubble;

13  each man’s work will be revealed. For the Day will declare it, because it is revealed in fire; and the fire itself will test what sort of work each man’s work is.
14 If what a person has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward.  [Or receive wages]

15 If any man’s work is burned, he will suffer loss, but he himself will be saved, but as only as through fire.”

I interpret these verses in 1 Corinthians as meaning that if one’s faith is even based in Christ in some way, he will be saved “only as through fire.” This is how God shows his mercy to his creations.

Christ’s promise (Rev 22:12) ”My reward is with me, to repay each man according to his work” is fulfilled either by recognizing man’s faith and the good deeds made on that basis and then man is saved. If man’s faith in Jesus Christ has been only nominal, and there are no or few deeds, God’s purifying fire will burn him, but he may endure the trial and be saved. Where does the borderline go in terms of who is saved and who is destroyed after God’s fiery treatment? It is defined by Christ, to whom all power of judgment has been given.

 

The glory of God and Christ

The Bible describes the conversion of the resurrected to the likeness of Christ; “We know we will become like him when he appears.” The English translation speaks of the ‘glory’ of God and Christ. What does this glory mean? To what extent do the resurrected people receive this glory and power of God and Christ?

1 Cor 15:39 All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds..

40 There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the splendor of those in heaven is of one kind, and that of those on earth is of another.
41 There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory.                                                                  

42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption.
43 It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power.

NASB There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory. – “Glory of the sun” as well as ”glory or the stars,” mean brightness. The celestial bodies have no “glory” (honor), but different degrees of brightness.

Verses 42 and 43 describe what happens to the resurrection body in the resurrection. The physical body is born and died ‘in corruption’, just as it belongs to man. In the resurrection, the elect will rise in ‘immortality’ and ‘glory’. Verse 44 testifies: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body and there is also a spiritual body.

There was a physical body, but now the spiritual body is rising. Further: After the physical, fleshly body, the resurrected will have a spiritual body. This is also described as saying that the first body was from the earth, but the second man is from heaven from which he was raised. Remember that Stephen begged, “Jesus Christ receive my spirit.” Human spirits have been “stored” in heaven.

45 So also it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living soul.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
46 However that which is spiritual isn’t first, but that which is natural, then that which is spiritual.
47 The first man is of the earth, made of dust. The second man is the Lord from heaven.
48  As is the one made of dust, such are those who are also made of dust; and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.

49 And, according as we did bear the image of the earthy, we shall bear also the image of the heavenly.

According to 1 Corinthians, we who are to resurrect, have had a worldly image, but now we have the image of Christ and are like him. “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God” means that members of the kingdom of God, its leaders, cannot be [only] in the flesh, that is, in the physical body. Therefore, as verse 1 Corinthians 15:52 states all resurrected change instantly from the flesh to the spirit body. They “dress in immortality.”

So, this is what happens to the participants of the first resurrection. They will be members of God’s kingdom, spirits, immortals. They are an exception to the rule that everyone must take part in the final judgment. They do not have to, because “they do not need to be condemned with the world.” They reign with Christ in His Millennial Kingdom, which is part of God’s kingdom. Above, I wrote that they are in the spirit body, and again the inhabitants of the kingdom are normal people in the flesh. The rulers with Christ are immortal spirits, but I suppose they can also appear in the flesh, as Christ did after his resurrection before ascending to heaven.

50 Now I say this, brothers, that flesh and blood can’t inherit the Kingdom of God; neither does corruption inherit incorruption.

51 Behold, I tell you a mystery. We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed,
52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed.
53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

54 But when this corruptible will have put on incorruption, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then what is written will happen: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

 

What does ‘δξα’ Mean?

G1391 δξα doxa (Glory)

  1. opinion, judgment, view
  2. opinion, estimate, whether good or bad concerning someone
    1. in the NT always a good opinion concerning one, resulting in praise, honour, and glory
  3. splendour, brightness
    1. of the moon, sun, stars
    2. magnificence, excellence, preeminence, dignity, grace
    3. majesty
      1. a thing belonging to God
        1. the kingly majesty which belongs to him as supreme ruler, majesty in the sense of the absolute perfection of the deity
      2. a thing belonging to Christ
        1. the kingly majesty of the Messiah
        2. the absolutely perfect inward or personal excellency of Christ; the majesty
      3. of the angels
        1. as apparent in their exterior brightness
      4. a most glorious condition, most exalted state
        1. of that condition with God the Father in heaven to which Christ was raised after he had achieved his work on earth
        2. the glorious condition of blessedness into which is appointed and   shall enter after their Saviour’s return from heaven

 

How does the nature of people reflect the glory of change?

Phl 3:21 He will change our humble bodies and make them like his glorious body through the power that enables him to bring everything under his authority.

Col 3:4 When Christ, our life, is revealed, then you will also be revealed with him in glory.

Dan 12:3 And those teaching do shine as the brightness of the expanse, and those justifying the multitude as stars to the age and for ever.

Mat 17:2 He [Jesus] was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his garments became as white as the light.

The Bible mainly talks about the glory of God and Christ. Also, the outward appearance of the resurrected people becomes glorified. It may involve honor and glory, but clearly, it is also brightness, about changing the way you look. Mat 13:43 Then [after the last judgment] the righteous will shine forth like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.

 

2 Cor 4:17 For our light affliction, which is for the moment, works for us more and more exceedingly an eternal weight of glory;

Rom 8:21 that the creation itself would also be set free from slavery to decay in order to share the glorious freedom of God’s children.

Rom 8:30 Whom he predestined, those he also called. Whom he called, those he also justified. Whom he justified, those he also glorified.

1 Cor 15:40 There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the splendor of those in heaven is of one kind, and that of those on earth is of another.

 

Access to the Kingdom of God.

All who enter the kingdom of God have received the Crown of Righteousness, but not all who receive the Crown of Righteousness are among the first to enter the kingdom of God.

Luk 13:24 “Strive to enter in by the narrow door, for many, I tell you, will seek to enter in, and will not be able.” – Here Jesus answered the question of entering the kingdom of God. Many would like to enter the kingdom of God, but the door is narrow, and only a “little flock” of the entire large population can enter it among the first. But the game is not lost yet. This does not mean that man cannot be saved and have eternal life, even if he is not among the first to enter the kingdom of God. Read on to see what I mean.

Joh 17:24 “Father, I desire that they also whom you have given me be with me where I am, that they may see my glory, which you have given me, for you loved me before the foundation of the world.” – Jesus refers here to God’s advance plan that God made before the foundation of the world. God had foretold the role of Jesus, his own son, in saving the world. He had also seen and selected Jesus’ helpers before the foundation of the world. Jesus means here his assistants God gave to Jesus. These assistants were primarily the twelve apostles. And other believers close to him. Likewise, God has chosen many other helpers from different eras associated with the Church of Christ. Many of them have lost their lives following Christ. Many of them still follow him today, telling the truth of the Bible, even though they must fight for the teaching of the great churches for the truth.

Joh 3:3 Jesus replied to him, “Truly, truly I tell you, unless a person is born from above [Or born again] he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
3:7 Don’t be astonished that I said to you, ‘All of you must be born from above.’

Jesus told this to Nicodemus, the teacher of Israel. Nicodemus had no idea how he could be born again. Joh 3:4 “Nicodemus said to him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?” – Being born again is not dependent on age. Even on his deathbed, man can be born again.

1 Pet 1:23 “For you have been born again, not by a seed that perishes but by one that cannot perish—by the living and everlasting word of God.” – Born anew occurs through the word of God. When I just said that one could be born again at the deathbed, so did Emperor Constantine, who ordered Christianity to be the official religion of the Roman Empire and took baptism just before he died. Could it have been baptism based on true faith, I don’t know. The one on the deathbed is probably not thoroughly acquainted with the doctrine of Christ. Maybe then it is enough for a person to say, “I believe.” Indeed, the Bible says that in the day of the Lord, one will be saved just by calling upon the name of the Lord. Act 2:21 It will be, that whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” – The name Jehovah and his son’s name Jesus are both valid.

Being born again simply means becoming a believer and receiving Jesus as your Savior. In rebirth, man receives the seal of God on his forehead. “Forehead” is again a figurative expression. It means that one begins to think and act differently. Rev 7:3 “Don’t harm the land, the sea, or the trees until we have marked the servants of our God with a seal on their foreheads.” – No actual seal or invisible stamp is pressed on the new believer’s forehead. It is just a figurative expression that man has made his choice between God and the world or between God and Satan. A similar expression is found in the Bible when referring to Satan and the mark of the beast ‘666’, which is also to be interpreted figuratively, not a microchip in a human hand or forehead.

 

God’s co-workers

For we are God’s co-workers. You are God’s farming, God’s building.” (1 Cor 3:9).

God works all the time. Shouldn’t people also be working and not just being lazy in paradise? Joh 5:17 NIV “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” – This John’s report brought to my mind a question: Will God never finish the world? Why does he have to work all the time? I thought God could have made a plan that would cover the whole world now and in the future. Then he just snaps his fingers and says, “let the world be ready right away!” Does God need to rest? In one Apocrypha story, God is said to rest in the third heaven.

Does God need people to help? Is it God’s purpose to shape the whole world, the whole universe?

The new man and the new earth

“He who sits on the throne said, Behold, I am making all things new.” (Rev 21:5)

In fact, the Bible tells quite a lot about the world to come. When the final judgment is given, only the children of God, whom Jesus calls his brothers and sisters, remain.

They are now images of God; “God created man in his own image. In God’s image he created him; male and female he created them” (Gen 1:27). After the Fall, man began to degenerate; Man became mortal, and his life-span began to decline. Mortality brought disease. Now people have received from God the gift of eternal life, immortality. God and Christ are spirits, and so are men.

There is a flowing river in Paradise. Rev 22:2 “in the middle of its street. On this side of the river and on that was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruits, yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. Rev 2:7 To him who overcomes I will give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of my God.”

It must be clear that the tree of life is symbolism; those in the spirit bodies need not eat fruit. In Paradise, according to Revelation, a fresh stream is flowing. Rev 22: 1 states that it is a “river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb,” The water of the stream represents the word of God. Verse 22:14 adds: ”How blessed are those who wash their robes [who do his commandments] so that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city!”

Blessed are those who wash their clothes to have the permission to eat from the tree of life and enter the gates of the city!” – Washing clothes is a figurative expression of giving up sinful life. When a person has repented and forgiven his sins, according to the Bible, he “washed his clothes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb,” and in this way he became worthy to “eat of the tree of life,” that is, to receive eternal life.

Divine nature. 2 Pet 1:4 “Through these he has given us his precious and wonderful promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, seeing that you have escaped the corruption that is in the world caused by evil desires. ”

The kingdom of God is on earth. They all live in the kingdom of God on earth, not in heaven. The heavens have descended to earth, and God Himself lives with them. A God who is not distant and enigmatic responds to all who approach Him.

God’s co-workers. Humans are God’s co-workers. They, as spirit beings, as co-workers with God, possess great powers.

Satan is no longer king of this world. Why did God once give the world dominance to Satan? However, Christ fought against Satan and his troops when Satan was released after a thousand years in prison. According to the figurative expression of the Bible, Satan and his closest aides, the Antichrist and the False prophet, have been thrown into the lake of fire. The world is now ruled by God the Father and Christ.

In this way, the Bible describes the future world without Satan or sin. The language of the Bible is very illustrative in describing this Paradise. But who would love a city of pure gold and diamonds?

The advance plan of God is finally completed. A New time – ‘the eight day’ – begins in the kingdom of God.

 

 

 

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