In Proposition 136, George Peters states:
“The doctrine of the Kingdom in agreement with the doctrine of the intermediate state.”
Peters does not promote a particular view of the intermediate state in this Proposition, but rather simply makes the point that the reality of an intermediate state confirms and is in agreement with the doctrine of the Kingdom. The very fact there is an intermediate state suggests at a bare minimum there is a final state, one in which fullness is achieved. If there is to be a final state, which Peters suggest and I agree is taught throughout Scripture, the existence of an intermediate state is a declaration of a final state with that final state being the established of the Theocratic Kingdom. Again, this reality is irrespective to what position one may hold regards the specifics of what the intermediate state looks like. The existence of the intermediate state is what is being noted in this Proposition.
The most notable observation Peters presents in Proposition 136 is the following:
“The Jewish view must be considered by the student. This, as stated by numerous authorities, was decided, viz., that the Patriarchs and their deceased descendants, that all who had died true Israelites, were only to be raised to glory and covenanted promises at the Coming of the Messiah. Whatever differences of opinion existed as the actual condition of dead ones, all were united in the common view that at the Advent of the promised David’s Son, then, and then only, would the promises of God respecting a glorioius Salvation be completed. The abundance of quotations already given under previous Propositions fully show this faith. But now observe that this identical Jewish faith is incorporated in the New Test. and in the Early Church, with this difference, that what the Jews attributed to the First Advent of the Messiah, the New Test. and Early Church applied to the Second Advent of Jesus the Messiah.”
I am pleased to see Peters repeatedly bring all of Scripture together in his observations, especially when it comes to the topic of the intermediate state. It is often promoted that the Old Testament has very little to say about the nature of death, the intermediate state, or the hope of the resurrection. While that is certainly debatible and I would suggest incorrect at best, Peters aptly brings to light an important issue, that of how the Jewish view (i.e. the Old Testament) is reflected in the writings of the New Testament and in turn, the teaching of the Early Church.
Now I will state that Jewish intertestamental thought on the intermediate state was varied as evidenced by the writings of the period. Additionally, the teachings of the Pharisees and the Sadducees differed on the topic of the resurrection from the dead among other things. Additionally, the Messianic expectation of the religious leaders during the time of Jesus was such they expected the Messiah to established the Theocratic-Kingdom at the time of what we call the First Advent. With all that said, there was an overarching hope and belief in the coming Kingdom and a belief rooted in the Old Testament that the intermediate state was not the end of all things. Death would be dealt with and God would establish His Kingdom forever. The teaching of the New Testament and the Early Church properly notes the timing of these events to be at the Second Advent, something perhaps the Jewish leaders did not understand but is nevertheless a consistent teaching in Scripture.
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