Michael Boling – Thoughts from the Theocratic Kingdom (Vol. 2): Proposition 137

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In Proposition 137, George Peters states:

“This doctrine of the Kingdom sustained by the phrase “the world to come.”

The purpose of this Proposition is to discover any consistency of thought in Jewish writings and perceptions as it relates to the doctrine of the Kingdom and how the idea of the “world to come” relates to this issue. Peters believers, and I believe he is correct, that if “we find this phrase employed by the Jews to designate a particular period fo time, and if it is adopted by the apostles, without the slightest hint as to a change in its meaning, it is fair and just to conclude that in the Apostles’ estimation it continued to retain the meaning ascribed to it by the Jews.” One might ask why this is important. It is important because if this Proposition is found to be justified, then we yet again have a consistent meaning being provided to us throughout the text of Scripture, a meaning affirmed by the Jews during the time of Jesus as a continuation of what was taught in the OT that continued into the teaching of the New Testament.

The most notable observation Peters presents in Proposition 137 is the following:

“Let us briefly consider in what sense the phrase, “the world to come” was used by the Jews. Prof. Bush (Anas. p. 136) says: “‘The judgment of the great day,” the period of ‘the world to come,” is that period which in the Jewish Christology was identical with the reigning and juding supremacy of the Messiah.” He quotes Lightfoot in confirmation, and adds from the Sohar, fol. 81, “In the world to come the holy blessed God will vivivy the dead and raise them from the dust,” etc., and then refers to Pococke (Porta Mosis, Not. Miscel. P. 166) who says, that R. Saadias maintains that “the resurrection is to take place during the Messiah’s reign on the earth, and so that the promise of the dead Israelites being brought out of their sepulchres is to be accomplished in this world or age, and that we are not to suppose that it pertains to another; consequently the prediction of Daniel respecting the many that sleep in the dust, with various other Scriptures, is to be fulfilled in the time of salvation, a phrase entirely equivalent to the days of the Messiah.” “So it is that in Toreth Adam, fol. 105, that the day of judgment will commence, sub initium dierum resurrectionis, at the beginning of the days of the resurrection.” (Comp. Prop. 133) According to Buxtorf, as quoted by Barnes on Heb. 2:5, it was employed by the Jews to denote “the world which is to exist after this world is destroyed, and after the resurrection of the dead, when souls shall be again united to their bodies,” or “the days of the Messiah, when He shall reign on the earth.” The Targum of Palestine (Dr. Etheridge’s Transls.) on Balaam’s prophecy has: “If the house of Israel kill me with the sword, then, it is made known to me, I shall have no portion in the world to come; nevertheless, if I may but die the death of the true! O that my last end may be as the least among them.” The student will find attitional references to the opinion that “the world to come” referred to the reign of the Messiah after the resurrection in Lightfoot’s works, Wetstein, Schoettgen (Bloomfield, Heb. 2:5), Clarke’s, Lange’s, and other Commentaries. See Props. 138 and 139.”

In this observation, Peters references a number of noted scholars who have written on the Jewish expectation of “the world to come.” These scholars reference a number of Jewish writings (i.e. Targums and Talmudic scholars) in an effort to outline the consistency of thought on how and when “the world to come” was anticipated by these writings and scholars to arrive and in what manner. It is clear the expectation during this period was for “the world to come” to be instituted after specific future events took place, namely the destruction of this current world, after the resurrection of the dead, and the uniting of souls to bodies, an event that seems to point to the gift of eternal life to the righteous. Thus, it can clearly be stated, this anticipated “world to come” can be equated to the Theocratic Kingdom. They are one and the same as evinced by the expected timing of this kingdom’s establishment as noted in Scripture and further supported by the writings and beliefs of the Jewish religious leaders of the New Testament period. There is a consistent anticipation of a future Kingdom to be established at the Second Advent when the Messiah will “reign on the earth.”

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