two age view

Discussion in 'Revelation & Eschatology' started by Scott, Apr 23, 2007.

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  1. Scott

    Scott Puritan Board Graduate

    I was listeing to an MP3 by Riddlebarger and he made the case that the New Testament has a two-age view, this present evil age and the age to come (the final state). Are there any clear examples of age being used with other meanings, such as the end of the Old Covenant "age?" Thanks
  2. R. Scott Clark

    R. Scott Clark Puritan Board Senior

    Aion in Paul can mean "eternity" as in Rom 1:25 "eis tous aionas" (unto the ages).

    It can also mean "this age" (to aioni touto) as in Rom 12:2, which the ESV translates "this world." The referent in this context is not chronological or sequential or temporal exactly but relative to eschatology. "This age" is way of denoting a state of existence as distinct from the eschatological or final state of existence ("the age to to come" or "the coming ages" Eph 2:7).

    Paul speaks this way frequently (e.g. 1 Cor 1:20; 2:6; 3:18). The references there are not to redemptive historical epochs but to different states of existence. It's not terribly different from the way John uses kosmos. So Paul speaks of the "god of this age" (2 Cor 4:4) and of "this present evil age" (Gal 1:4). See also Eph 2:2; 2 Tim 4:10.

    We live in this age but we are not of this age any longer. In this sense, "this age" (1 Tim 6:17; Titus 2:12) has existed since the fall alongside "the age to come."

    We are those "upon whom the end of the ages" has come (1 Cor 10:11) i.e., we are participants in the final state now, though not fully (hence the tension between this age and the age to come).

    Eph 3:9 might have a temporal reference "hidden from the ages" but it's a little ambiguous. It could also be a reference to the different states of existence. 3:9 does speak of the administration of the gospel/covenant of grace/plan of redemption so perhaps that tips it a bit toward the temporal or epochal reference. Ditto for Col 1:26.

  3. Scott

    Scott Puritan Board Graduate

    Thanks, Dr. Clark. Riddlebarger proposed a two age model, this present evil age and the age to come being the two ages. Pasages like 1 Cor. 10:11 ("upon whom the end of the ages" has come) and Eph. 3:9 seem to contemplate more than two prior ages. In 1 Cor. 10:11 multiple ages are coming to an end. So, there are at least two of those and then there is the future age. That would not seem consistent with a two age model. What do you think of that? If that is the case, then there could be an Old Covenant age that is coming to an end.
  4. Scott

    Scott Puritan Board Graduate

    Do no preterists wish to offer their views? The two age model contradicts preterism. Preterism depends in part on interpreting some passages about a present age as referring to the age of the Old Covenant, which was to be ended with the destruction of Jerusalem.
  5. KMK

    KMK Moderator Staff Member

    I don't think the idea the word 'ages' necessarily disproves the two-age theory, but it doesn't support it either. (I am not a preterist) (yet)
  6. Iconoclast

    Iconoclast Puritan Board Junior

    Days of vengenance

    David Chilton in his book days of vengenance makes a biblical case based on the word translated world/age. The idea being that in most of the occurances of the word, it has to do more with the end of the OC.age as per the book,, of Hebrews,MT 24,,1cor 10. That indeed as Jerusalem would surely fall in 70ad, that age[ with its OC ordinances] would be passing away.
    At the cross all sacrifice for sin was completed. Yet,there was a transitional period,as in the book of acts,ie, where there was still a mix of John's disciples,Acts19 there were still persons meeting trying to keep the mosaic teaching Acts 15. I am still working through these areas,,I think I am currently a I like how many of the post-mill writers urge a very active christian life in terms of our interaction with a fallen world.
    I am not certain at this point as to the extent that the OLD Testament predictions are fulfilled physically in this world. The Post mill writers all seem to see this. The Amill seem to say it is almost exclusively inward and spiritual.
    I am currently trying to contrast the amill/post by considering David Engelsma, Christ's spiritual kingdom/a defence of reformed amill/ with Keith Mathisons Postmill/an eschatology of hope.
    I am trying to outline the positions then re-read many of the passages in the psalms,and prophets concerning the reign of Christ from Zion/Jerusalem, that we are said to have come to in Hebrews 12;22-24.
    Has anyone else tried a similar path? do you know of other writings helpful in this? I have the bible and the future/Hoeskema, End times made simple/Waldren works of Jonathan Edwards, He shall have dominion ,Gentry
    also several titles by Gary Demar.:detective:
  7. ajrock2000

    ajrock2000 Puritan Board Freshman
  8. VanVos

    VanVos Puritan Board Sophomore

    The age to come as found in Matthew is the New Testament age (Matt 12:32, 24:3, 28:20) However the age of the resurrection is the coming age (Luke 20:34-35) So we still have the two-age paradigm of scripture.

  9. R. Scott Clark

    R. Scott Clark Puritan Board Senior

    I'm not sure I understand the question about "prior" ages. These ages are often expressed as two concurrent states of existence.

    When Paul says, "upon whom the end of the ages has come" he's saying that the eschatological time/space has broken into human history in the New Covenant. The New Covenant people are distinguished in this way from the typological church (WCF 19), upon whom the end of the ages had not come. The whole point of this passage is to say, if x was true of the Old Covenant church, how much more is it true of the New Covenant church upon whom...

    The future age is nothing more than a consummation of the relation between Christians and the "the age to come" which has already begun in Christ.


  10. ajrock2000

    ajrock2000 Puritan Board Freshman

  11. KMK

    KMK Moderator Staff Member

    Very helpful!
  12. Scott

    Scott Puritan Board Graduate

    Dr. Clark: The primary problem is that Paul seems to be describing more than two ages. For example, Romans 16:25 reads: "Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past. . ." So, there is more than a present age and a future age. There are multiple past ages.

    Eph. 2:7 reads: "in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. . ." So the future has more than one age to it. There will be multiple ages in the future, not just one.

    In one sermon on the two age view, Riddlebarger argued against premils on the ground that their view of the millennium would be an additional age not accounted for in the two-age model. It would seem a dispensationalist could point to passage on multiple future ages and say that the millennium is one future age and the eternal state a second future age.

    Does that make sense? BTW, I am not arguing that, but I think they can make a case and it would be good to have a response.

  13. R. Scott Clark

    R. Scott Clark Puritan Board Senior

    Hi Scott,

    In my first post I noted that some uses of "aion" seem to have a temporal reference or perhaps a dual reference. I noted Eph 3:9 as a possible temporal reference.

    Eph 2:7 seems to have a dual reference that is both future and eschatological. In Eph 2:6 Paul says that we have been raised (aorist) with Christ for the purpose/result (hina + subj) of demonstrating his grace toward us in Christ.

    It seems that the progress of thought is eschatological rather than about some earthly millennial glory. The context is about salvation. v 7 occurs between "being raised" and "you were saved by grace...." How does a millennium fit here? Eschatological glory fits quite well here.

    The future age is the eschatological age. It breaks into the future. In Christ we participate in it. Yes, the ages are expressed in chronological categories but just as Paul also says "flesh" and "spirit" and yet has no intention of invoking Greek spirit/matter dualism so he can use chronological categories to express eschatological realities.

    So too in Rom 16:25 he uses "aion" in a chronological sense to speak about eschatological realities. The mystery refers to the salvation in Christ which was actualized in the New Covenant.

    I don't think it works to say, "aion" can have a temporal reference ergo it could refer to a future earthly golden age. That said, I don't think that a whole system of theology (premilennialism) can be overturned by one word study.

    The two age construct is just one part of a larger hermeneutical project.


  14. Scott

    Scott Puritan Board Graduate

    I'm not sure I follow. Let me see if I can clarify. You are saying that the term "coming ages" in Eph. 2:9 refers to two ages. The two ages are catgorically different. Age 1 is categorically chronological and simply means the future. Age 2 is categorically eschatalogical and refers to spiritual salvation. The two ages overlap, with the eschatalogical age occurring during the chronological age. Is that right? Thanks
  15. R. Scott Clark

    R. Scott Clark Puritan Board Senior

    The two ages are concurrent states. The "coming age" is a way of speaking about the eschaton. The eschaton has always existed. It breaks into history or "this age" before, during, and after the incarnation. It is more fully realized as a consequence of the incarnation but never fully realized until the consummation. This is how it is possible for us to be those upon whom the end of the ages has come, for our citizenship to be in heaven, for us, to use the language of Hebrews, to taste of the powers of the age to come now. This isn't the eschaton, obviously, but by union with Chris we participate in that age now. That dual status has always been the case but it is more fully the case now in the New Covenant.

    The relations of the two ages can be expressed either in spatial terms (think of above and below) or in sequential terms but even in that case the spatial categories are not wholly absent because Paul can speak about the relations between heaven (the eschaton) and earth (this age) in sequential categories because the history of redemption is much involved in the revelation of the relations between the eschaton (the coming age) and this age.


  16. Scott

    Scott Puritan Board Graduate

    Dr Clark: I appreciate your interaction and I am probably being dense, but I don't understand what you are saying. I understand that there are two ages and the ages overlap. I also understand that we participate in the coming age, even though it is not consumated. The model looks something like this.

    Still, there is only one present age and only one coming age (in which we participate now). That is why this point of view is called a two age model. Using Eph. 2, in the diagram above, it would seem that the line for "coming age" would end at some point and then a second coming age would appear (think of a timeline broken in two, with the first half of the line labeled first coming age and the second half labeled second coming age). In other words, there is a first coming age, in which we now participate, and then a second coming age. Yet, Paul says that there is more than one age coming. It seems that it is easy to make a case against the two age model in that case. I just don't see how you get around Paul's language.

    Last edited: May 18, 2007
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