This Present Evil Age
“the gospel which Paul held firmly till his death (2 Timothy 4:6-8) did not belong to the “present age” of scripture”
According to some, the present age of scripture is the Christian age. Many writers express this viewpoint largely because they see the “age to come” as heaven. Their futuristic view of the return of Christ is the basis for viewing the scriptures per above.
We believe that there are serious exegetical problems with making the “present age” of scripture the Christian age. The difficulties of such a view only multiply when the “age to come” is viewed as a yet future entrance into heaven at an alleged future return of Christ.
In the Galatian letter, Paul, speaking of Christ writes, “Who gave himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father” (Galatians 1:4). Of primary importance is the fact that Christ died for “our” [the Jews] sins. Secondly, he died to deliver the saints from the “present age.” Third, the apostle describes the present age as “evil.”
First, if the “present age” is the Christian age as alleged by the futurists, then it is the age ushered in by Christ’s death and resurrection. The present age would find its beginning on Pentecost and belong to the gospel dispensation. It is here that we must raise the first red flag. If the present age is the Christian age, then Christ died to deliver the saints from the age which he came to establish.
Further, this means that the age which Christ came to establish (the Christian age) was no more effective than the Jewish age in which men previously lived. Consider this. Paul writes, “Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not. For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law” (Galatians 3:21). So, life could not be achieved in the Jewish age, hence the need to deliver the Jews from it (Romans 7:6).
However, since it is argued by some that life is not achieved in the Christian age, then Paul should likewise have written the following: Is the gospel then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a gospel given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the gospel. According to the futurists, they were in the gospel age. According to Paul, they were yet through the Spirit eagerly awaiting the hope of righteousness (Galatians 5:5). Therefore, there was no advantage of the gospel (Christian age) over the law with respect to achieving the hope of life/righteousness.
Secondly, it means that Christ died to deliver the church from an age which did not then exist at the time of his death. As a matter of fact, not even the church existed. Christ had to die to bring the church into existence. Then he had to create an age in which to place the church so he could immediately begin to deliver them out of it! He allegedly takes them out of the Jewish age at his death, only to place them in an age from which they yet must be delivered. No doubt this was a great tribulation for the church. All that slinging around and movement from age to age made them quite dizzy to say the least!
A further complication to this matter is the fact that Christ taught through inspiration that their deliverance from the “present age” was “at hand” and “coming in a little while” (James 5:7-9; Hebrews 10:37). This must be the case since deliverance from the age is accomplished at the return of Christ. However since the traditionalist futuristic viewpoint alleges that these time statements are “elastic” and “relative,” then Christ was merely “pulling their leg” with those “I come quickly” rubberband time statements. Generations have come and gone and are still going and going like the Duracell battery and yet there is no deliverance from the “present evil age.”
A more ridiculous picture of scripture trifling and chicanery could not be made of the redemptive-historic, glorious work of Christ. Consider this scenario. A bodyshop repairman offers to replace your broken windshield. The only problem is that the windshield is not broken. Advising the repairman of this fact, he then responds by smashing the windshield with a hammer and saying, “It is now”!
This corresponds somewhat with the plight of the new covenant saints. Christ died, per the traditionalists, and ended the law (Jewish age) at the cross. Therefore, on their terms, no one was in it. According to Galatians, Christ also died to deliver them from the present evil age, an age which he had to create, place the saints into, then like the repairman above, offer to deliver them out of it. Would it not have been easier for the repairman never to have broken the windshield? Would it also not have been easier for Christ never to have made an age from which the saints immediately needed deliverance?
A third problem in making the “present age” the Christian age, is the absurdity it makes of the defection of Demas. “For Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present age, and has departed for Thessalonica-Crescens for Galatia, Titus for Dalmatia,” (2 Timothy 4:10). What was so evil about the “present age” (if in fact it is the Christian age) that loving it can be termed as apostasy? Is Christ the minister of Sin? God Forbid! If Demas forsook Paul for the present age (alleged Christian age) then in what age did that leave Paul? Not the Jewish age if it passed away at the cross. Not the “age to come,” since it is argued to be yet future.
Can we attribute the present age to which Demas apostatized as the age which Christ came to establish? Does not this passage show clearly that the gospel which Paul held firmly till his death (2 Timothy 4:6-8) did not belong to the “present age” of scripture? What a bind we all are in today if loving the Christian age is apostasy.
Fourth, if the “present age” is the gospel dispensation, then the apostles did not speak the wisdom that belonged to the gospel age. “However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing” (1 Corinthians 2:6). Not only could they not speak the wisdom of this age, but God apparently gave the authority to the gospel age to some other than the apostles.
Who are these “rulers” of “this age”? Paul clearly identifies them as those who in ignorance crucified the Lord of glory. Compare this with Peter’s words in Acts. “Yet now, brethren, I know that you did it in ignorance, as did also your rulers” (Acts 3:17). See also v.14. Peter calls those who crucified the Lord of glory his Jewish brethren and their rulers. These are the Jews. The rulers were none other than the chief priests, elders, and sanhedrin council. Did Christ die to deliver the Jews from the law, only to create a new age subjecting it to the law-zealous rulers of the old age? Perhaps now we can understand why Judaism was such a problem in the church. God cut off the Jewish age at the cross only to make the Jewish rulers who crucified Christ the rulers of the gospel age.
Now how can any man believe that these Jewish rulers who crucified Christ were rulers of the Christian age? They were yet ruling the age at the time of Paul’s writing for he says they were coming to nothing. I suppose they would come to nothing when their age no longer existed. They would no longer have any realm in which to rule. If the Jewish age ended at the cross, why are they yet ruling the age?
Apparently there was quite a conflict, for Paul and the church wrestled with these rulers. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). “This age” is characterized as both “evil” and “darkness.” That does not sound like the age Christ came to establish. Such is the self-contradictory and unwarranted consequences of making the “present age” of scripture the Christian age.
Fifth, an overlapping of ages becomes an exegetical nightmare for those who interpret the “present age” as the Christian age. Jesus spoke of the consummation of an age concurrent with Jerusalem’s fall in A.D.70. “Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3). This age was present before the death of Christ and remained intact until A.D.70. It ended with the coming of Christ in “this (first century) generation” (Matthew 24:34). It was therefore a “present age” throughout the ministry of the apostles. Certainly they did not get all those “present ages” mixed up.
Sixth, the futurists hold that the “age to come” of scripture is heaven. They know that this age stands opposite to and is antithetical to the age to come. They know that the “present age” lasts till the coming of Christ which ushers in the eternal age. They know that eternal life is a blessing of the “age to come.” But, they deny that Christ has come. They deny that the “age to come” has arrived. And, they deny that we now have eternal life. In the Gospel Advocate, May 1990, Robert Taylor, Jr. vigorously denied that eternal life is a present blessing of the kingdom of God.
One basic fallacy in this denial is that eternal/everlasting blessings cannot be received in this life. If such were true, then we could not have God, Christ, His word, or the kingdom, all of which are eternal/everlasting. The fact that we have eternal life no more implies the impossibility of apostasy than does the fact that we have the eternal or everlasting Father (Psalm 90:2), Son (Isaiah 9:6), Holy Spirit (Hebrews 9:14), kingdom (Daniel 2:44), covenant (Hebrews 13:20), or Word (1 Peter 1:25)!
W. Terry Varner grossly overstated his case when he argued that the implications of the fulfillment of Matthew 25:46, in A.D.70, teach the impossibility of apostasy/saving the lost. See Studies In Biblical Eschatology, Vol I, pp.59-60. Why not argue the same with an eternal God, Savior, or with an everlasting covenant? If men remain faithful to an everlasting God, will they lose their salvation? If they become unfaithful to the everlasting covenant will they remain in it? Now ask the same questions for everlasting life and the answer is obvious. Both conditions of faithfulness and unfaithfulness are implied in the text. See John 3:36; 8:51; 2 John 9.
The fact of the matter is that Varner, Taylor, Jackson, or any of the rest have no ground whatsoever to stand on in Matthew 25 until they successfully divide Matthew 24. Until that time, the chapters form one indivisible unit, with one harmonious subject, the parousia of Christ in connection with Jerusalem’s fall in A.D.70. Almost every writer for The Living Presence has addressed the unity and indivisibility of Matthew 24, and we all eagerly await the submission of any new evidence to the contrary.
Another fallacy with the denial of eternal life is that it is joined to an alleged future return of Christ. Eternal life is equated with entrance into heaven. Okay brethren, lets have it on your terms. The resurrected Christ entered his office as King and Priest at his ascension (Zechariah 6:13; Acts 2:33-36; Hebrews 4:14). Paul writes, “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek” (Hebrews 6:19,20).
Jesus, therefore [using their own assumption], at his ascension, entered heaven, the “age to come,” wherein is eternal life. This he did as our forerunner (from prodromos), which means one who advances to explore and prepare the way, Bagster, p.353. Earlier, Paul had said that Jesus was “bringing many sons to glory” (2:10). The arrival into the Presence behind the veil was clearly the hope of Christians when Paul wrote. A few verses earlier, verse 5, Paul tells us that the saints already had tasted (experienced) the powers of the “age to come,” i.e., eternal life, arrival into the Presence behind the veil. This foretaste was clearly through the revelations and ministry of the Spirit (v.4).
In Chapter 9:11-12, Christ is said to have entered the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, which is the Most Holy Place. Brethren agree that this is heaven. In chapter 10:19, the church is exhorted to have boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus. This was unthinkable under the old covenant. To have done so would incur the wrath of God. Only the High Priest could enter and that only once per year (9:7).
Now when could the church enter the Holiest of all? “The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed, while the outer tabernacle is still standing, which is a symbol for the present time” (Hebrews 9:8,9 NASV). Paul says that the way into the holiest is not disclosed as long as the first or outer tabernacle (the temple) was standing. He further says that the temple was a symbol or “sign” for the “present time.” “This time” or the “present time” in scripture equates with “this age” or the “present age.”
The temple (outer tabernacle) was a sign for that present (Jewish age), signifying that as long as it stood the way into the Holiest of All was not made manifest, i.e., yet undisclosed. Is the temple still standing today? When did the temple fall? Does not Matthew chapter 24 join the fall of the temple, the parousia of Christ and the end of the age (24:3,27)? Was this not all in that first-century generation (v.34)?
Is it not transparently clear, that Hebrews is discussing the same subject as Matthew 24; the presence, the age and the fall of the temple? Were they not gathering together, eagerly awaiting his appearing and so much the more as they saw the day approaching (Hebrews 9:28; 10:25)? Was not this a warning of judgment on the enemies? “For we know Him who said, Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord. And again, The Lord will judge His People” (v.30).
Was not the Lord coming soon, without delay? “For yet a little while, And He who is coming will come and will not tarry” (v.37). And, just what was the “promise” that the church would receive at the soon, in a very little while coming of Christ? Were they not promised entrance into the Most Holy? Was entrance into the Most Holy a blessing for the “present age” or the “age to come”? Again, we repeat, is the temple still standing? If not, when did it fall?
We all know when it fell, in A.D.70! Entrance into the Most Holy is a blessing of the “age to come.” Entrance was opened up at the fall of the temple. Therefore, the blessings of the “age to come” were opened up or received at the fall of the temple, specifically ETERNAL LIFE! When exegetes quit dividing Matthew and begin “rightly dividing” the word on biblical eschatology, eternal life will be seen in Matthew where it is seen in Hebrews, in A.D.70, at the fall of the temple and Jewish commonwealth. In fact, this is where it will be seen throughout all the holy scriptures.
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22 May 2004
As a GNOSTIC, I would say the problem of evil is, as always, a matter of IGNORANCE! The two millennia of scholarly garbage offerred as a solution to the riddle on the number of the beast (666) is a pathetic testimony to my blatant assertion!! The NERO theory as a solution to Rev. l3:l8 is at best a ‘typological’ solution. The occult/arcane solution to Rev. l3:l8 is found by taking cognizance of the fact (Biblical Fact) that the Jewish HOUSE OF JESUS (See SETUAGINT, Ezra 2:36) was captive/exiled in 6th century b.c. Babylon AS WELL AS lst century a.d. Imperial Rome (lst PETER 5:l3 — “Greetings from her who dwells in Babylon . . . (The New English Bible)”. The solution (occult) is NEBEKEDNESSER, that is, the Greek letters (and their numerical values): Nu (50) + Eta (8) + Beta (2) + Eta (8) + Kappa (20) + Eta (8) + Delta (4) + Nu (50) + Eta (8) + Sigma (200) + Sigma (200) + Eta (8) + Rho (l00) = 666. The variant numbers cited in the few extant manuscripts upon which Rev. l3:l8 is based are: 606, 6l6, 646, 665, 747. For 606, Bael Marduk (my lord marduk); for 6l6, Kaisar Theos (Lord God); for 646, Amil Marduk (man of marduk); for 665, a transliterization of the Greek word for beast (therion) into Hebrew, namely: Tav (400) + Resh (200) + He (5) + Yod (l0) + Nun (50) = 665; for 747, Apaol Marduk (heir of marduk). My reasons for these solutions are: l) The Jewish HOUSE OF JESUS (See SEPTUAGINT, Ezra 2:36) was captive/exiled in 6th century b.c. 2) The Book of Daniel 4:l6 mentions that God gave Nebuchadnezzer the mind of a beast for refusing to acknowledge the lordship of the King of Heaven (GOD). 3) The 2nd century b.c. apocryphal work titled JUDITH refers variously to Nebuchadnezzer (as a symbol for evil) as “Who is God except Nebuchadnezzer?”, “All nations shall call upon Nebuchadnezzer alone as God.” 4) Midrash Rabbah Canticles refers to Rome as “ROME-BABYLON.” 5) The spelling for Nebuchadnezzer in THE SEPTUAGINT dates only to the 2nd century b.c. [Walter C. Cambra, A.A.,B.A.,B.A.,M.A.,(FRC)(MAFA)]
Date: 26 Jan 2006
I tend to belive we are saved in physical death.That is when we are deliverd.But if jesus ‘s second return has happend then where is the scripture that say’s all the book of revelation has been fulfilled.What about the sea’s turning to blood and the moon and the falling away of the stars.When did the apostles see these things.I can see your views as spiritual but what about the scripture in revelation about the physical happenings.I am still stuck on the 2 witneses that bring the hearts of fathers to thier sons and then are killed and 3 days later raised and taken to heaven with all the people being terrified of the sight the are seeing.Jesus does say the kingdom of GOD is within us or inside us.But if these prophiesies in revelation have happend why is there no mention of them happening.Please give your input I am firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: 22 Jul 2010
One thing I am reminded of. At the cross, immediately upon Jesus death, I thought an earthquake split the 2nd temple or something like that and opened the Holy of Holies. I could be wrong though.
Date: 28 Sep 2011
There are two ages….this present evil age and the age to come