Number 193


(Originally published 10 Oct. 86)

Many years ago, in searching for a word that accurately expressed the meaning of sunteleia in Matthew 24:3, I came upon the word consummation in the notes on this passage in The Companion Bible, and felt at once that this was the one English word that set forth its real meaning. Years of study have deepened this conviction.

The prefix "con" which means with or together, and the word "summary" which names the result of such action, when linked as one word gives us a true representation of sunteleia. The best illustration I can give of this word is to use it in relation to a woman's pregnancy. This has its beginning within the woman and continues through thousands of stages of development until it consummates in a living child.

If during the course of nine months of pregnancy there is a miscarriage, or if the child is aborted, the pregnancy will end, but it will not have a consummation. There can be no doubt, the word suntelea means a coming together of all actions and operations that have been working toward a desired goal, result, or end. The word here is not telos, the actual end; it is sunteleia, the act of completing to produce a desired goal or end.

The question asked by the disciples was: "Tell us, when shall these things be; What will be the sign of your parousia, even the consummation of the eon?" (Matt. 24:3). The eon they are asking about is the kingdom eon, the time of God's government over the earth. It is called "the eon" because it is characterized by divine outflowings that act upon every detail upon the earth. And these outflowings of God are ever working toward a goal which will be the personal presence (parousia) of God upon the earth in the person of the glorified Christ.

To express this the Holy Spirit brought a new word into the language of the Bible, the word parousia. This was a technical word used to describe the personal presence of one when he was present because of who he was and the duties he would perform in view of his position or relationship. It is simple in its meaning: para means with or alongside, and ousia means being. Thus as to persons, this word designated an actual personal presence.

But the Greeks had another word that meant personal presence, the word pareimi. (See this word in Gal. 4:18, 20.) This was the common word for being present. The disciples did not use this word. They asked concerning "the sign of His parousia."

My understanding of the future as to its time periods is that the next great act of God will be to assume sovereignty and establish His government upon the earth. The method of doing this has been clearly stated in Matthew 12:18-21:

Behold My servant, Whom I have chosen; My beloved in Whom My soul is well pleased: I will put My Spirit upon Him, and He shall show judgment to the nations. He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear His voice in the streets. A bruised reed shall He not break, and smoking flax shall He not quench, till He send forth judgment unto victory. And in His name shall the nations trust. (See Issue No. 38.)

The manner of doing this as to the sequence of its stages is clearly set forth by the Lord Jesus when He used as a likeness the process of producing grain. He declared that the kingdom of God after being planted by Him would develop in five stages:

1. first the blade,
2. then the ear,
3. after that the full grain in the ear
4. the fruit brought forth (the ripened grain), then
5. the harvest.

(See Mark 4:26-29, also Issue No. 48.) It is my conviction that the blade and ear stages were fulfilled in the 33 years of which the book of Acts is the history. However the great facts and conditions that characterized that period have been minimized, depreciated and stultified by teachers of ecclesiastical history. The average professing Christian can see nothing in the Acts period except the founding and development of what they now call "the Christian church." They read this into every passage and interpret it into every event.

If we take God at His word we should have no trouble in seeing that everything God set out to do in the Acts period was fully accomplished. The blade and ear stage of the kingdom of God have run their course. The next stage of "the full grain in the ear", the manifest kingdom of God, is ready to burst upon mankind. It is time for God to assume sovereignty, time for Him to shoot His arrows (Psa. 64:7), time for Him to judge the peoples righteously and govern the nations upon the earth (Psa. 67:4). Even as Paul said in the final epistle he wrote during the Acts period: "For now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand" (Rom. 13:11, 12).

The "salvation" that Paul speaks of here was the salvation of Israel, as declared in Romans 11:26. However, the day that was promised did not appear. The night became darker. The fulfillment of all promises to Israel was postponed, all progress in kingdom development was suspended. The "full grain in the ear" stage of the kingdom became in abeyance, a suspension that has now continued for 1900 years.

As to the activities of God during this time of suspension, a new revelation was given to Paul, one never before made known by any channel or means of divine information, hid from the eons and from the generations, (Col. 1:26). This revelation concerns an administration of pure grace, during which God by His dealings with men would establish an undeniable and irrefutable record of the grace that is inherent in His character.

A time of divine government to come upon the whole world is the most prominent fact to be found in all prophecies of the Old Testament. Can anyone honestly read Isaiah 1:25-27 and 2:1-4 and not see in these verses the glorious place of Israel and all other nations under a coming divine government? Can anyone read Ezekiel 34:11-31 and not realize that it will have to take place in a world that is governed by God? In fact a coming time of divine government was "the hope of Israel" (Acts 28:20). This was the promise made to the fathers, a promise of which Paul said, "our twelve tribes earnestly serving God day and night, expect to come" (Acts 26:7). Central in this hope was the promise that there would be "a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust."

This truth was known throughout Israel, those in the land and those of the diaspora. The people were in expectation (Luke 3:15), so when the Lord Jesus appeared declaring either "the kingdom of the heavens is at hand" (Matt. 4:17), or "the kingdom of God is at hand" (Mark 1:15), He did not need to define His terms. They all knew that He was speaking of that time of divine government upon the earth of which all the prophets had spoken.

It is impossible to know today the emotion that swept over His twelve special disciples when their Lord said to them: "Verily I say unto you, that ye which have followed Me: in the regeneration when the Son of Man shall sit on the throne of His glory, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Matt. 19:28).

The throne of His glory is the throne that He has established "in the heavens" (Psalm 103:19). In Scripture a throne is a seat or center of government. It is from heaven that He will "govern the nations upon the earth" (Psalm 67:4), as King of kings and Lord of lords. Thus we get the true Biblical picture of the kingdom of God in its perfected form. The Lord Jesus is governing all nations from His throne in the heavens. He is a Shepherd King (Isa. 40:10, 11), and under His guidance will be many shepherd kings upon the earth, the outstanding one being King David in Jerusalem governing the new nation of Israel, and under David will be the twelve apostles shepherding the twelve tribes of Israel.

The twelve had been taught by the Lord Jesus all the important truths they needed to know about this long period of divine government. They had been good learners (Luke 10:23, 24). Furthermore, these men knew they would still be judging the twelve tribes when "the hour of temptation" (trial), comes "upon the world to try them that dwell upon the earth." So, they wanted to know more, they wanted to know more about the next great condition of things on earth that would follow, even the days of God upon the earth. They asked about certain things. The first was: "What will be the sign of your parousia?" and they added to this by stating that by the term "parousia" they spoke of the consummation of the eon. As stated before "the eon" is the time of God's government, and all His outflowings of this time will consummate in the parousia, or the presence of God upon the earth in the person of Jesus Christ. This is the period of time that the theologians of this world have stultified by calling it "the millennium."

The time will come when men will realize what they have done to hinder the truth of God. Scholars in every Jewish center, past and present, have insistently charged that the so-called "Church Fathers" took the Hebrew Messianic doctrine of the kingdom of God on earth and fundamentally altered it to the kingdom of God in heaven. Multitudes have followed the crooked path that these fathers first made when they put forth this concept of God's future dealings.

The Biblical truth of the kingdom of God as being a time of divine government upon this earth has almost disappeared from Church theology. Even the description of the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21 has been plundered to get material for the concept that it describes the church in heaven. The great eon of the kingdom is still sorely neglected by Bible expositors of today. All of God's precious promises concerning it are forced into the thousand year period of the personal presence of Christ.

Many Christian theologians still follow this crooked path. First, they ignore altogether the kingdom of God which is to come upon the earth. Following this they deny that glorious period of His personal presence (parousia) which is the outcome or consummation of His government.

"Where is the promise of His parousia" (2 Peter 3:4). This is the question they ask in insisting that there is no prophecy of the days of God upon the earth. They proudly declare themselves to be "amillenialists." This term correctly describes many great denominations of today.


Issue no. 193