Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


Heaven 36

posted by xscot mcknight

We come full circle. In our sketch of the NT evidence, there is enough evidence to conclude that heaven — at least for Peter and for John — is not the final place. The final place is the new heavens and the new earth with a new Jerusalem.
Rev. 21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
Rev. 21:10 And in the spirit he carried me away to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God.
This leaves this question: Does Jesus teach a new heavens and a new earth? Not in so many terms, but this leaves then the probable reality that for Jesus the word “kingdom” refers both to the reality of God’s presence now and it also refers to the manifestation of God’s final kingdom as well. Hence, in the word “kingdom” we have both now and the new heavens and the new earth.
One point I would suggest is that not everyone used words with the same meaning. It is not like the earliest Christians had a pocket lexicon with words defined by Jesus and they pulled it out at just the right time to get their terms just right. Instead, we have a variety of authors/speakers using terms that overlap and terms that are defined differently. Which also means the NT writers didn’t have one set of ideas for the future that were tied down tightly with specific words. They had an inspired vision of what God would do and each expressed the vision in ways that resonated with that culture at that specific time.



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Diane

posted September 18, 2008 at 6:34 am


“… the NT writers didn?t have one set of ideas for the future that were tied down tightly with specific words. They had an inspired vision of what God would do and each expressed the vision in ways that resonated with that culture at that specific time.” That sounds exactly right to me.
Jesus’ communication of kingdom as both present and future aligns with some of RJS’s blogs on physics ( think …) …



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RJS

posted September 18, 2008 at 7:00 am


Diane,
I think that Scot’s series on heaven fits well with Shults’s discussion of parousia in his last chapter. An important part of the discussion are questions such as: what is heaven, how is heaven used in scripture, what did it mean in 1st century culture, how much of the use is cultural and how much is “literal,” what is the diversity in meaning? New testament (and OT as well) writers are writing and expressing ideas – “God’s Truth” in terms of the vocabulary and cosmology of their day. What does it mean for us today?
John had an inspired vision of what God would do – New Heaven and New Earth – there are new ideas and new horizons opening up. Yet the ideas are expressed in the available cultural terms. What does it mean for us?



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T

posted September 18, 2008 at 7:38 am


Scot,
I have a similar question in line with Diane’s & RJS’s comments. I agree that your description that Diane quoted is the best way to understand how the NT authors were operating. Do you also think there’s a similar way to think about the creation narrative, and other early parts of Genesis? I realize this goes to issues of what “inspired” really means, but in Genesis are we reading “an inspired vision of what God [did] and [the author] expressed the vision in ways that resonated with that culture at that specific time”? And I’m not foreclosing an oral tradition at work here either.



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