The final victory of Christ on earth will not come through a gradual improvement in the world's spiritual condition. ``The kingdom will be fulfilled, then, not by a historic triumph of the Church through a progressive ascendancy, but only by God's victory over the final unleashing of evil, which will cause His Bride to come down from heaven''(677). This declaration rules out the end time expectations of certain Reformation traditions (see ``postmillennialism'' below). Calvinists in particular often teach that the Church will achieve in history, through the Holy Spirit, a gradual betterment of the world's spiritual condition that will climax in Christ's return to earth. But this mistaken notion offers only a false hope.

The final victory of Christ will not come within history, but beyond it. ``The Antichrist's deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment. The Church has rejected even modified forms of the falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism''(676).

Down through the ages, some Christians have mistakenly claimed that Christ's ``millennial reign'' was already taking place within history and was coming to pass through a particular group of religious enthusiasts in a particular geographic locale. Typically, such millenarians, as they are called, have claimed a special status because of their connection to that realized ``kingdom,'' leading to eccentric, questionable, or even immoral practices: strict vegetarianism, the condemnation of marriage and procreation, claims to bizarre private revelation, polygamy, sexual promiscuity, military conquests, the murder of their opponents, and the like. The Church condemns these false claims and the tragic consequences to which they typically lead.

The Jewish people will come to recognize Jesus Christ as their Messiah before He returns. We have only hints of this remarkable development in Scripture, in the Gospels and St. Paul's epistle to the Romans. ``The glorious Messiah's coming is suspended at every moment of history until His recognition by `all Israel,' for `a hardening has come upon part of Israel' in their unbelief toward Jesus'' (674). ``The `full inclusion' of the Jews in the Messiah's salvation, in the wake of `the full number of the Gentiles,' will enable the People of God to achieve `the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,' in which `God may be all in all'" (674).

The dead will be raised. ``The Christian creed---the profession of our faith in God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and in God's creative, saving, and sanctifying action---culminates in the proclamation of the resurrection of the dead on the last day and in life everlasting'' (988). What does it mean to be resurrected? In death, body and soul are separated, and the body decays. In the resurrection, the body will be granted ``incorruptible life'' by being reunited with the soul (997).

When Jesus was raised from the dead with His own body---He still had the scars of His crucifixion, which the disciples could physically touch---His body no longer experienced a merely ``earthly life'' (999). It was a ``glorified body'' (997), transformed in such a way that it could exercise new abilities such as passing through physical barriers. But it retained its former capabilities, such as the ability to eat.

When we are raised, ``Christ `will change our lowly body to be like His glorious body,' into a `spiritual body'" (999). Exactly how this happens ``exceeds our imagination and understanding; it is accessible only to faith'' (1000). But it will surely take place ``definitively `at the last day,' `at the end of the world,' " in close association with Christ's appearing (1001).

Christ will judge the living and the dead, and the Evil One and his allies will at last be utterly overthrown. ``God's triumph over evil will take the form of the Last Judgment after the final cosmic upheaval of this passing world'' (677; see also 1038--1041). Again, we have reviewed in earlier chapters a number of scriptural passages that attest to this truth. As the God-Man who conquered death and the Devil, Jesus alone is worthy to judge the earth and bring a definitive end to its wickedness. ``Jesus solemnly proclaims that He `will send His angels, and they will gather . . . all evil doers, and throw them into the furnace of fire,' and that He will pronounce the condemnation: `Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire!' '' (1034).

At the end of time, God's kingdom will come in its fullness, and all things will be renewed. ``Sacred Scripture calls this mysterious renewal, which will transform humanity and the world, `new heavens and a new earth.' It will be the definitive realization of God's plan to bring under a single head `all things in [Christ], things in heaven and things on earth' ''(1043). Not only humanity, but the entire universe as well will be perfected. In this consummation of all things, there will be no more sadness or sin, pain or sickness, death or decay. The saints will reign with Christ, glorified in body and soul, and will enjoy perfect fellowship face to face with God for eternity (1044--45). But we do not know exactly when or how this transformation will take place (1048).