Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come. —Matthew 12:32

What I want to highlight here is the idea of “two ages,” and its relationship to forming an eschatology of the New Testament. The NT constantly speaks with such language, I think what becomes clear, quite quickly, is that we live in an ‘already’ time (cf. “this age”), and then we look forward to an ‘not yet’ consummation (cf. “the age to come”). Both of these ages find their reference in the Person and work of Jesus Christ, in other words when He came the first time; He fulfilled all of the promises of the Old Testament, in an inaugural, yet ‘real’ way. This is the basis of saying that we live in an ‘already’ reality of the kingdom of Jesus (don’t forget the ‘Son of David’ promise/fulfillment motif, cf. II Sam. 7; Mt. 1; Acts; Rom. 1; etc.), He said in Matthew 12:28,

But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. . . .

The point is, what Luke draws out for us as He restates what Jesus said:

. . . The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, 21. nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you. (20b-21)

The “kingdom” came in the person of Jesus, and first it is a “spiritual realization” (the ‘already’ where we live ‘now’); which Jesus reinforces in the Luke passage. It won’t be until the second advent where the ‘not yet’ of the age to come is fully realized in consummation with our bride groom. The age to come is indeed where the body and the spirit become consummate with another, it is at this point that we experience beatific vision, and the “glorification” phase of salvation (see Rom. 8:18ff for this “spiritual-bodily” progression).

Another passage that reflects this two-age model is found Ephesians 1:19-20,

. . . and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20. which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, . . .

What is Paul referencing? It is the resurrection of Christ, and our raising with Him spiritually (‘already’ ‘this age’); with an proleptic eye toward the bodily resurrection (‘not yet’ ‘the age to come’). The implication is that if we are seated with Christ, and seated in the heavenlies, now; then we are currently partaking of, spiritually, what we will realize bodily when Christ comes the second time (the age to come). The point I want to underscore, mostly, is the continuity between the two-ages; they both are rooted in the ‘one’ resurrection of Jesus. It is both a spiritual and physical resurrection, it must be if we are currently experiencing the heavenlies right now, in Christ. This whole thing is presupposed by the idea that indeed there are two-ages, if not then we are of “all men most to be pitied!”

Theological Afterthought

Really, and theologically, it is the incarnation that best analogues or provides framework for thinking about two-ages. Since the two-ages is really ‘code’ for the relationship of eternity (or supra-time) and time. It is the Logos asarkos (the WORD, Jesus, before incarnating) who purposes to assume humanity as the Logos ensarkos (the WORD incarnate Jn 1:14) whom makes it possible to speak of two-ages at all. This is true because He alone transverses the gap between humanity (in historic) time, and divinity (in eternity, or better, ‘super-time’); He brings these two “ages” together in His life, reconciling humanity unto Himself. I see this as the basic, and inner logic, of the two-age model discussed in the passages of scripture above. Because Christ brought us into His intra-trinitarian life, through “becoming us” (in the incarnation), that we can truly hold to an ‘already’ and ‘not yet’ aspect of the kingdom (the kingdom truly being the life of God). Both ‘ages’ are given continuity and reality through the inseparably related and yet distinct natures of Christ; as ‘this age’ constantly finds ‘life’ as it is ‘received’ from the ‘age to come’. This implies one more thing, time (this age) is always and already eschatological, as the ‘now’ is already the ‘not yet’ in the person of Christ!

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