by  Ron  Rhodes

The Eternal State


Christ Delivers the Kingdom to the Father 

The Old Heavens and EarthAre Destroyed    

The New Heaven and New Earth   

The New Jerusalem     

Perfect in Every Way    

Christ Delivers the Kingdom, to the Father

Many people have struggled to understand 1 Corinthians 15:24,28, where Paul says of Jesus Christ, "Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father.. ...When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all."

It is important to grasp the meaning of these verses. Notice that even though Jesus Christ is completely equal to the Father in terms of being God (see, for example, John 1:1; 8:58; 10:30; Philippians 2:5-11; Colossians 2:9), Christ is nevertheless in subjection to the Father (John 14:28; 1 Corinthians 11:3). Many theologians point out that Jesus not only is God but also took upon Himself a human nature in the incarnation-—-a human nature He still possesses today (see Luke 24:37-39; Acts 2:31; 1 Timothy 2:5; 1 John 4:2; 2 John 7).



Because Christ still possesses His human nature, He is still in submission to the Father. Even apart from His humanity; however, Jesus has always been and forever will be in subjection to the Father because this is the nature of the relationship of the persons in the Trinity.


This is one of the theological factors behind such verses as John 3:17: "God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him." God the Father is the sender; Jesus is the sent one.

What, then, is the meaning of 1 Corinthians 15:28? In the eternal plan of salvation, the eternal Son's role was to become the Mediator (the go-between) between man and God the Father. In 1 Timothy 2:5, for example, we read, "There is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus."

It is important to recognize, however, that Christ's role as mediator is a temporary one. This role is not eternal. When the task of human redemption is finally complete, Christ the mediator voluntarily surrenders the kingdom to the one who sent Him into the world to accomplish redemption, God the Father.


At that time, the Son's role as mediator will be completed. As one Bible expositor put it:"When he delivers up the administration of the earthly kingdom to the Father, then the triune God will reign as God and no longer through the incarnate Son," 1  Indeed, "throughout the endless ages of eternity, the triune God Jehovah will permeate the universe with His celestial love and glory. God will then be immediately known by all. What glorious destiny awaits the redeemed of the Lord."2



The Old Heavens and Earth Are Destroyed

As we think back to the scene in the Garden of Eden in which Adam and Eve sinned against God, we remember that God judged the earth with a curse (Genesis 3:17-18). Indeed, the universe was subjected to futility and is now in bondage to decay (Romans 8:20-22).

So before the eternal kingdom can be made manifest, God must deal with this cursed earth and universe. And Satan has long carried out his evil schemes on earth (see Ephesians 2:2), so the earth must be purged of all stains resulting from his extended presence.

In short, the earth, along with the first and second heavens—that is, the earths atmosphere (Job 35:5) and the stellar universe (Genesis 1:17; Deuteronomy 17:3)-—-must be renewed. The old must make room for the new.

The Scriptures often speak of the passing of the old heavens and earth. Psalm 102:25-26 is an example: "Of old you [O God] laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away." Isaiah 51:6 is another: "Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look at the earth beneath; for the heavens vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment....but my salvation will be forever." This reminds us of Jesus' words in Matthew 24:35: "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away."

Perhaps the most extended section of Scripture dealing with the passing of the old heavens and earth is 2 Peter 3:7-13.

"The heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells."

The old must pass to make room for the new. That which is stained and decaying must make room for that which will be utterly pure and eternal.

(I  AGREE  -  Keith Hunt)

The New Heaven and New Earth

After the universe is cleansed by fire and God creates a new heaven and a new earth, all vestiges of the curse and Satan's presence will be utterly and forever removed from all creation. Bible expositor Albert Barnes makes this comment:

The earth will be no more cursed, and will produce no more thorns and thistles; man will be no more compelled to earn his bread by the sweat of his brow; woman will be no more doomed to bear the sufferings which she does now; and the abodes of the blessed will be no more cursed by sickness, sorrow, tears, and death.3

All things will be made new, and how blessed it will be!

An Expanded Heaven

Theologians and Bible expositors have been careful to alistinguish between the present heaven where God now dwells and where believers go at the moment of death (2 Corinthians 5:8; Philippians 1:21-23) and the future heaven where believers will spend all eternity (2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1). For indeed, a renovation is coming.


In the consummation of all things, God will renovate the heavens and the earth, merging His heaven with a new universe for a perfect dwelling-place that will be our home forever. In other words, heaven, the realm where God dwells, will expand to encompass the entire universe of creation, which will be fashioned into a perfect and glorious domain fit for the glory of heaven.4

Peter speaks of this glorious future reality in 2 Peter 3:13. You and I can look forward to living eternally in a magnificent kingdom where heaven and earth unite in a glory that exceeds the imaginative capabilities of the finite human brain.

Finally the prophecy of Isaiah 65:17 will be fulfilled, where God promises, "Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind." Finally the prophecy of Revelation 21:1,5 will be fulfilled: "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more...And he who was seated on the throne said, 'Behold, I am making all things new.' Also he said, 'Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.5"

(I AGREE,  THIS  WILL  ALL  COME  TO  BE  -  Keith Hunt)

A Renewed Universe

The new heaven and earth will be this present universe—only it will be purified of all evil, sin, suffering, and death. The Greek word used to designate the newness of the cosmos is not neos but kainos. Neos means "new in time" or "new in origin." But kctinos means "new in nature" or "new in quality." So the phrase "new heavens and a new earth" refers not to a cosmos that is totally other than the present cosmos. Rather, the new cosmos will stand in continuity with the present cosmos, but it will be utterly renewed and renovated.

Commentator William Hendrickson explains, "It is the same heaven and earth, but gloriously rejuvenated, with no weeds, thorns, or thisdes."5 J. Oswald Sanders makes a similar comment. "The picture is of the universe transformed, perfected, purged of everything that is evil and that exalts itself against God. It is new,5 not in the sense of being a new creation, but of being new in character-—a worthy milieu for the residents of Gods redeemed people."6

This means that a resurrected people will live in a resurrected universe! Theologian John Piper puts it this way. "What happens to our bodies and what happens to the creation go together. And what happens to our bodies is not annihilation but redemption.. .Our bodies will be redeemed, restored, made new, not thrown away. And so it is with the heavens and the earth."7

Matthew 19:28 (NASB) thus speaks of "the regeneration." The NIV calls it "the renewal of all things." Acts 3:21 (nasb) mentions the "restoration of all things." (See also Isaiah 65:18-25; Ezekiel 28:25-26; 34:25-30.) The new heavens and earth, like our newness in Christ, will be regenerated, glorified, free from the curse of sin, and eternal. Our planet—indeed, the whole universe—will be put in the crucible, altered, changed, and made new, to abide forever.

The new earth, being a renewed and eternal earth, will be adapted to the vast moral and physical changes that the eternal state necessitates. Everything is new in the eternal state. Everything will be according to God's own glorious nature. The new heavens and the new earth will be brought into blessed conformity with all that God is—in a state of fixed bliss and absolute perfection.

(TRUE,  FOR  THAT  IS  WHAT  IS  WRITTEN  -  Keith Hunt)

Heaven and Earth Merged

One day heaven and earth will no longer be separate realms, as they are now, but will be merged. Believers will thus continue to be in heaven even while they are on the new earth. The new earth will be utterly sinless. It will be bathed and suffused in the light and splendor of God, which will not be obscured by evil of any kind or darkened by evildoers of any description.


The New Jerusalem

The most elaborate description of the heavenly city contained in the Bible is in Revelation 21.

I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband .... having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed-—on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve aposdes of the Lamb....

The wall was built of jasper, while the city was pure gold, clear as glass. The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every kind of jewel .... And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, transparent as glass....

And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.... And its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there.

This description of the New Jerusalem is astounding. We gaze in amazement at such transcendent splendor that the human mind can scarcely take it in. This is a scene of ecstatic joy and fellowship of sinless angels and redeemed glorified human beings. The voice of the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, utters a climactic declaration: "Behold, I am making all things new" (Revelation 21:5).

The words contained in Revelation 21—22 no doubt represent a human attempt to describe the utterly indescribable.

The overall impression of the city as a gigantic brilliant jewel compared to jasper, clear as crystal, indicates its great beauty. John was trying to describe what he saw and to relate it to what might be familiar to his readers. However, it is evident that his revelation transcends anything that can be experienced.8

Millard Erickson agrees and offers these reflections on the glorious splendor of this heavenly city.

Images suggesting immense size or brilliant light depict heaven as a place of unimaginable splendor, greatness, excellence, and beauty... It is likely that while John's vision employs as metaphors those items which we think of as being most valuable and beautiful, the actual splendor of heaven far exceeds anything that we have yet experienced.9

George Marsden, author of Jonathan Edwards: A Life, points out that Edwards...

recounted the similes used in Scripture to describe heaven... His larger point was that, however wonderful it might be to imagine these things, earthly images are not really adequate .... These biblical images, he explained, are "very faint shadows" that represent the joys of heaven humans are intended to enjoy.10

In short, the heavenly city will be far more wondrous than we can possibly imagine.

One thing is certain. The city is designed to reflect and manifest the incredible glory of God. The mention of transparency reveals that the city is strategically designed to transmit the glory of God in the form of light without hindrance. The human imagination is simply incapable of fathoming the immeasurably resplendent glory of God that will be perpetually manifest in the eternal city. This is especially so considering the fact that all manner of precious stones will be built into the eternal city.


Perfect in Every Way

Because you and I are so accustomed to living in a fallen world that has been viciously marred by sin and corruption, we cannot conceive of what life might be like in a heavenly habitat that is without such sin and fallenness. From birth to death, we are confronted with imperfection on every level. But in the eternal city, we will experience nothing but perfection. I love A.T. Pierson's description.

There shall be no more curse—-perfect restoration. The throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it-—pefect administration. His servants shall serve him—--perfect subordination. And they shall see his face—-perfect transformation. And his name shall be on their foreheads—perfect identification. And there shall be no night there; and they need  no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord giveth them light—perfect illumination. And they shall reign forever and ever—-perfect exultation.11

A Huge City

The heavenly city measures approximately 1500 miles by 1500 miles by 1500 miles. Though some interpret these big numbers symbolically, allegedly carrying the idea that "saved people are never crowded," I think the dimensions are intended to be interpreted literally. The eternal city is so huge that it would measure approximately the distance from Canada to Mexico, and from the Adantic Ocean to the Rockies. That is a surface area of 2.25 million square miles. (By comparison, London is only 621 square miles.) Put another way, the ground level area of the city will be 3623 times that of London. If the city has stories, each being 13 feet high, the city would have 660,000 stories. That is huge!

A city that high might seem to present a formidable challenge to city travelers. We must not forget, however, that our resurrection bodies will likely have amazing capabilities. Some expositors believe our new bodies will have the ability to fly and get places fast. That would be very exciting!

Someone calculated that if this structure is cube-shaped, it would allow for 20 billion residents, each having his or her own private 75-acre cube. If each residence were smaller, the city would have room to accommodate one hundred thousand billion people with plenty of room left over for parks, streets, and other things you would see in any normal city.

The eternal city could either be cube-shaped or pyramid-shaped— and there are good Christian scholars on both sides of the debate. Some prefer to consider it shaped as a pyramid, for this would explain how the river of the water of life could flow down its sides (Revelation 22:1-2). Others prefer to consider it shaped as a cube, for the Holy of Holies in Solomons Temple was cube-shaped (1 Kings 6:20), and a cubical shape of the New Jerusalem might be intended to communicate that this eternal city is like an eternal Holy of Holies.


High Walls and Open Gates

[The city] had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed .... And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb (Revelation 21:12,14).

Perhaps the angels are at each of the 12 gates not only as guardians but also in view of their role as ministering spirits to the heirs of salvation (Hebrews 1:14). Perhaps the names of the 12 tribes of Israel are written on the gates to remind us that "salvation is from the Jews" (John 4:22). And perhaps the names of the apostles appear on the foundations to remind us that the church was built upon these men of God (Ephesians2:20).


"What was Johns reaction when he saw his own name inscribed on one of the foundations? What a thrill it must have been. It is like an eternal memorial to John's faithfulness—and the faithfulness of the other apostles—in defending the truth of Jesus Christ in an often hostile world.

Notice that "its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there" (Revelation 21:25). In ancient times, city gates were shut at night to guard against invaders. Gates were part of the city's security. Those who live in the eternal city, however, will never have an external threat. Satan, demons, and unbelievers will be in eternal quarantine in hell. God Himself will dwell within the city. Who would dare attack it?

A River, a Tree, and Healing Leaves

"Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city" (Revelation 22:1). This pure river of life, though real and material, may also be symbolic of the abundance of spiritual life that will characterize those who are living in the eternal city. The stream seems to symbolize the perpetual outflow of spiritual blessing to all the redeemed of all ages, who are now basking in the full glow of eternal life. What spiritual blessedness there will be in the eternal state.

We next read of the tree of life (Revelation 22:2). The last time we read of the tree of life was in Genesis 3, where Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden. Paradise was lost. Now, in the book of Revelation, paradise is restored, and we again witness the tree of life in the glorious eternal state.

The leaves on the tree are said to be for the healing of nations. But what does this mean? Will there actually be a need for healing, as if somehow things are not perfect in the eternal state? Albert Barnes suggests, "We are not to suppose that there will be sickness, and a healing process in heaven, for that idea is expressly excluded in Revelation 21:4."12 This verse informs us that "death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore."

The word used for "healing" in this verse is therapeia. We derive the English word therapy from this word. The word carries the idea of "health-giving." We should interpret this to mean that the leaves of the tree promote the enjoyment of life in the New Jerusalem and are not for correcting ills that do not exist.


No Sun or Moon Needed

"The city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb" (Revelation 21:23). This is in keeping with the prophecy in Isaiah 60:19: "The sun shall be no more your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give you light; but the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory." Dr. Lehman Strausss comments on the Lamb's glory are worthy of meditation.

In that city which Christ has prepared for His own there will be no created light, simply because Christ Himself, who is the uncreated light (John 8:12), will be there.. ....The created lights of God and of men are as darkness when compared with our Blessed Lord. The light He defuses throughout eternity is the unclouded, undimmed glory of His own Holy presence. In consequence of the fullness of that light, there shall be no night.13


A Holy City

In Revelation 21:1-2 we find heaven described as "the holy city." This is a fitting description. Indeed, in this city there will be no sin or unrighteousness of any kind. Only the pure of heart will dwell there. This does not mean you and I must personally attain moral perfection in order to dwell there. Those of us who believe in Christ have been given the very righteousness of Christ (see Romans 4:11,22-24). Because of what Christ accomplished for us at the cross (taking our sins upon Himself), we have been made holy (Hebrews 10:14). We will have the privilege of living for all eternity in the holy city.


Contrasting the New Jerusalem with Earth

As we read Johns description of the New Jerusalem, we find a whole series, of contrasts with the earth. These contrasts have been wonderfully summarized by Bruce Shelley.

In contrast to the darkness of most ancient cities, John says heaven is always lighted. In contrast to rampant disease in the ancient world, he says heaven has trees whose leaves heal all sorts of sicknesses. In contrast to the parched deserts of the Near East, he pictures heaven with an endless river of crystal-clear water. In contrast to a meager existence in an arid climate, John says twelve kinds of fruit grow on the trees of heaven. In a word, heaven is a wonderful destiny, free of the shortages and discomforts of this life.14


Finally, the purposes of God are fulfilled. Gods plan of salvation, conceived in eternity past, is now brought into full fruition. And how glorious it will be. One of the great commentators of times past, Wilbur Smith, describes it this way:

All the glorious purposes of God, ordained from the foundation of the world, have now been attained. The rebellion of angels and mankind is finally subdued, as the King of kings assumes his rightful sovereignty. Absolute and unchangeable holiness characterizes all within the universal kingdom of God. The redeemed, made so by the blood of the Lamb, are in resurrection and eternal glory. Life is everywhere—and death will never intrude again. The earth and the heavens both are renewed. Light, beauty, holiness, joy, the presence of God, the worship of God, service to Christ, likeness to Christ-—all are now abiding realities. The vocabulary of man, made for life here, is incapable of truly and adequately depicting what God has prepared for those that love him.15

The eternal city—-the New Jerusalem—will be staggeringly, incomprehensibly wonderful, far more so than any human mind could possibly fathom or even begin to imagine. Christians are merely pilgrims en route to the final frontier of the New Jerusalem, just passing through this brief dot of time on earth.

We are wisest when we choose to daily follow the apostle Paul's advice in Colossians 3:1-2: "Seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on tilings that are above, not on things that are on earth."

To him who loves us

and has freed us from our sins by his blood

and made us a kingdom,

priests to his God and Father,

to him be glory and dominion forever and ever.


Revelation 1:5-6