The Resurrection of Jesus in the OT

Isaiah spoke of Jesus in Isaiah 52:13–53:12, with thoughts of the resurrection in Isaiah 53:10. Hinting at His death, Jesus would be “like a lamb that is led to the slaughter” (Isa 53:7), and, indeed, He would be “taken away” and “cut off out of the land of the living” (Isa 53:8). He would die and lie in “His grave,” being made “an offering for guilt” (Isa 53:9–10). Nonetheless, Isaiah promised of Jesus that “He shall see His offspring” and that the Father would “prolong His days” (Isa 53:10). Though Isaiah does not specifically mention the resurrection, it is obviously implied between the prophecies of the death of the Messiah and His prolonged days thereafter

Psalm 16:10 gives another clear prophecy of Jesus’ resurrection. Speaking of Christ, David promised, “For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.” Similar to how Abraham believed that God would have raised Isaac from the dead because of His promise of Abraham’s descendants through him (Heb 11:17–19), David knew that his Descendant would one day rule forever, which meant for Him that Sheol and corruption would be overcome by a resurrection (Ps 16:10; see also Acts 2:30–31; 13:34–37).

Many OT texts could be added to the two above.1 In summarizing the gospel, Paul pointed out of Jesus “that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Cor 15:4). If only Paul could have told us which Scriptures!

Similarly, when Jesus spoke to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus after His resurrection, Jesus rebuked them for their failure to believe in His resurrection. (They did not realize it was Him at the time; cf. Luke 24:31.) Luke 24:25–27 states, “25 And he said to them, ‘O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.’”

We only wish we could know in detail from Jesus Himself what Moses and the prophets had to say of Christ’s resurrection, a necessary event for Him to “enter in His glory.” At the same time, we at least know what some OT passages say of His resurrection, and, in our place in redemptive history, we can see the story and significance of the resurrection in the NT. Paul gives a snapshot of both in 1 Corinthians 15:20–22: “20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” Praise be to God for the resurrection of Christ, a picture and guarantee of our resurrection to come!

  1. For a fuller discussion of the above, see Rolland McCune, A Systematic Theology of Biblical Christianity: The Doctrines of Man, Sin, Christ, and the Holy Spirit (Allen Park, MI: Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary, 2009), 221–23. []

The Grace of Jesus Christ

What is the grace of Jesus Christ? A search for “grace” and “Jesus” or “Christ” allows us to answer this question in brief, as seen below. This grace is divine favor to us, given to us, His undeserving people, for a variety of reasons.

This grace from Christ is from the Father as well, as the opening prayers of many of Paul’s letters show (Rom 1:7; 1 Cor 1:3; 2 Cor 1:2; Gal 1:3; Eph 1:2; Phil 1:2; 1 Thess 1:1; 2 Thess 1:1; 1 Tim 1:2; 2 Tim 1:2; Titus 1:4; Phm 3; 2 John 3). Often, however, when Paul ends a letter, he simply prays for his readers to have grace from Jesus Christ (Rom 16:20; 1 Cor 16:23; 2 Cor 13:14; Gal 6:18; Phil 4:23; 1 Thess 5:28; 2 Thess 3:18; Phm 25). In keeping with this thought, John, too, ends the book of Revelation and thus the NT and all of Scripture with this prayer (Rev 22:21).

The grace of Christ is His divine favor that is expressed in a variety of ways. This favor is to us for our salvation in general (Acts 15:11; Rom 5:15, 17; 1 Cor 1:4; 2 Cor 8:9; Eph 2:5; 1 Tim 1:14). We could even narrow His grace down to specific aspects of our salvation. This grace is shown to us in electing us to salvation in eternity past (2 Tim 1:9), in drawing us to Himself through His effectual call through the gospel (Gal 1:6), in enabling us to serve others (Eph 4:7; 2 Thess 1:12), and in giving us eternal comfort and good hope that salvation is truly ours (2 Thess 2:16).

Not only does this grace extend to eternity past and find its experience in the present, we will also find His grace in time to come. This is the grace of our glorification at His revelation (1 Pet 1:13) and even the grace that we receive in the ages to come thereafter (Eph 2:7).

Until that time, we are commanded to grow and be strengthened in His grace (2 Tim 2:1; 2 Pet 3:18). We need this grace for power to overcome what trials may come our way (2 Cor 12:9). This grace comes to us by the Spirit of grace (Heb 10:29) through the word of God’s grace (Acts 20:32), from the throne of grace through prayer (Heb 4:16), and through the grace we are given to minister as much to one another (Eph 4:7, 16).

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The Old Testament in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 12:7–12)

Passage Summary 

Michael and his angels fought Satan and his angels, defeating and throwing them out of heaven (12:7–9). This expulsion yields a triumphant announcement that the salvation, power, and kingdom of God along with Christ’s authority had come (12:10). Martyrs shared in this victory in that Satan’s accusations could not stand up to the blood of the Lamb, their faithful testimony for Christ, and just so even to the point of death (12:11). This victory meant rejoicing for the inhabitants of heaven but woe to those on earth who would suffer the wrath of a desperate devil who knew his time was short (12:12; cf. 8:13; 9:12; 11:14). 

Old Testament in the New 

Revelation Old Testament Connection Between the Two
12:7 Dan 10:13, 21; 12:1 Michael is Israel’s helper in the Tribulation.
12:9–10 Gen 3:1; Job 1:6, 9–11; 2:1, 4–5; Zech 3:1 Satan is the serpent who accuses the brethren and presently has access to heaven to do so.

A Parting Thought

Whether martyrs to-be or not, we, too, can answer Satan’s claims against us with the fact that Christ’s blood has been shed for all of our sins that would give Satan ammunition for accusation. As Job long ago, our faithfulness and perseverance further show our blood-bought faith, giving us and all of heaven reason to rejoice.

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Did the Holy Spirit Dwell in Old Testament Believers? Or Should We Be Asking Something Else?

If one were to do a bit of reading, he would see that many who have historically asked the first titled question really intend to answer, “Was the Holy Spirit active in an Old Testament believer’s salvation and sanctification?” And, because most would at least say that the Spirit was active at the initial point of a believer’s salvation in the OT (cf. Deut 30:6 with Rom 2:29), usually the intention is to discover the similarity or disparity between how believers are progressively sanctified from one testament to the next.

In the OT, the Spirit of God is said to occasionally or even continuously empower some of those who ruled over Israel (e.g., Num 11:17, 25; 1 Sam 11:6; 16:13). On rarer occasion, the Spirit also granted unique skills and strength to individuals to aid Israel in some way (e.g., Ex 31:3; 35:31; Judg 15:4). These works of the Spirit are not necessarily transformational in the sense that the individual so empowered was being progressively sanctified through these unique works of the Spirit. At the same time, an individual’s lack of sanctified behavior could forfeit one of these unique works of the Spirit (1 Sam 16:14; cf. Judg 16:20).

So, if we are looking at any of the above works to answer the question, “Did the Holy Spirit dwell in Old Testament believers,” assumedly as He does NT believers (something continuous and part-and-parcel of our salvation and sanctification; cf. Rom 8:9–11), we don’t have enough biblical data from the above to answer our question. And, if our true intention is to really answer the question, “Was the Holy Spirit active in an Old Testament Believer’s salvation and sanctification,” the passages cited above are not directly to the point. The above works of the Spirit are not necessarily intended for an individual’s sanctification but for unique works of service that benefit others in some way, perhaps somewhat analogous to the Spirit’s work in granting spiritual gifts today (again, please note the “somewhat”―the parallels are not perfect).

It would seem that Israel at some point and at least to some degree understood the nature of the Spirit’s indwelling when God promised as much to the nation through some of her prophets (Ezek 11:19–20; 36:26–27; 37:14; cf. Jer 31:31–34). And while good men beg to differ, it is my understanding that what was promised involves the scope of this indwelling (for all of Israel) and not so much that God would sanctify the recipients of these promises in a fundamentally different way than how He had been doing so for individual believers in any OT era (i.e., that He would be in them and not just near them with His presence in Israel’s temple or in some other way). If this understanding is correct, one is then left to figure out whether or not what was promised to all of Israel was already true of believing Israelites in the OT (or other believers that lived before Israel came to be, for that matter).

My painfully short answer to that final question is this―if one can be told that God created all things in the OT and then find out in the progress of revelation that the Son was involved in this creation (see Gen 1:1 with Col 1:16), so also we could be told in the OT, for example, that some walked with God (e.g., Gen 5:21; 6:9) and can now describe this walk in NT terms, that is, that the Spirit was at work in their sanctification. The absence of this terminology in the OT does not necessarily mean that this work of the Spirit was absent at that time as well.. And to say that selective, occasional empowerments in the OT prove that progressive sanctification by the Spirit for all OT believers was missing would be akin to talking only about spiritual gifts in the NT when asking how sanctification works today. What is difficult is that the matter is not later detailed as, say, something like Christ’s involvement in creation. And for this reason, we should show each other charity when we do not theologically connect the dots of biblical data on this matter in the same way.

To put it another way, one can say that the Spirit was active in salvation and sanctification in the OT and still recognize that there are differences between the Spirit’s manifold work in the OT and NT believers today, such as unique empowerments for service. The Spirit’s selective and occasional works for service then are now matched by a uniform grace to all believers to serve the body of Christ, recognizing that this grace is variously tailored for and thus differently displayed by one Christian to the next (1 Cor 12; 1 Pet 4:10–11). For those such as myself, the difference for the Spirit’s work in a believer from one testament to the next primarily involves what is given (or not) for his service and not for his sanctification and certainly not for his salvation.

A final caveat would be this―if the Spirit’s grace for unique works of service was selective and infrequent in the OT, and if the Spirit’s grace for gifts in the NT is uniform (though varied in manifestation), and if this grace is intended for building up our fellow Christian (1 Cor 12:7), then we certainly enjoy a regular means of grace that aids our sanctification in a way that was not enjoyed before Pentecost. Yet still, to say that we have an external aid today that believers did not have then still falls short of saying that there is a fundamental difference between the Spirit’s internal work in sanctification from one testament to the next.

Was The Holy Spirit Active in an Old Testament Believer’s Sanctification and Salvation?

Most would at least say that the Spirit was active at the initial point of a believer’s salvation in the OT (cf. Deut 30:6 with Rom 2:29). Good theologians begin to disagree when it comes to claiming that believers are progressively sanctified by the Spirit in the same way from one testament to the next.

It would seem that Israel at some point and at least to some degree understood the nature of the Spirit’s indwelling when God promised as much to the nation through some of her prophets (Ezek 11:19–20; 36:26–27; 37:14; cf. Jer 31:31–34). And while good men beg to differ, it is my understanding that what was promised involves the scope of this indwelling (for all of Israel) and not so much that God would sanctify the recipients of these promises in a fundamentally different way than how He had been doing so for individual believers in any OT era (i.e., that He would be in them and not just near them with His presence in Israel’s temple, which, as this explanation breaks down, did not always exist anyway, whether before or sometimes during Israel’s existence). If this understanding is correct, one is then left to figure out whether or not what was promised to all of Israel was already true of believing Israelites in the OT (or other believers that lived before Israel came to be, for that matter).

My painfully short answer to that final question is this―if one can be told that God created all things in the OT and then find out in the progress of revelation that the Son was involved in this creation (see Gen 1:1 with Col 1:16), so also we could be told in the OT, for example, that some walked with God (e.g., Gen 5:21; 6:9) and can now describe this walk in NT terms, that is, that the Spirit was at work in their sanctification. The absence of this terminology in the OT does not necessarily mean that this work of the Spirit was not present at that time.

To put it another way, one can say that the Spirit was active in salvation and sanctification in the OT and still recognize that there are differences between the Spirit’s manifold work in the OT and NT believers today, such as unique empowerments for service. The Spirit’s selective and occasional works for service then (e.g., Exod 31:3; Num 11:17; 1 Sam 11:6; 16:13) are now matched by a uniform grace to all believers to serve the body of Christ, recognizing that this grace is variously tailored for and thus differently displayed by one Christian to the next (1 Cor 12; 1 Pet 4:10–11). For those such as myself, the difference for the Spirit’s work in a believer from one testament to the next primarily involves what is given (or not) for his service and not for his sanctification and certainly not for his salvation.

The Old Testament in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 12:1–6)

This entry is part 29 of 29 in the series Revelation and Its Connections to the OT

Passage Summary

John sees two signs, symbolic of things both past and present. In the first, a woman appears with details indicating that she symbolizes the nation Israel (12:1; cf. Gen 37:9–11). Her pain symbolizes the anticipation of Christ’s coming and national salvation while undergoing persecution (12:2; cf. 12:3–4). This persecution is pictured by another sign, a dragon with heads, horns, and diadems, symbolizing Satan and his power over the world’s rulers and kings at this time (12:3). With a third of the stars under his rule, likely angels who fell with him, Satan attempted to kill Jesus at His birth (12:4–5a; Matt 2:13–18). However, He ascended to the Father’s throne and will rule the nations with a rod of iron (12:5b; cf. 3:21; Acts 1:9–11; Heb 10:12–13). Now looking ahead to the future, Israel would be on the run but protected by God for the latter half of the Tribulation (12:6; cf. 12:14).

 Old Testament in the New 

Revelation Old Testament Connection Between the Two
12:1 Gen 37:9–11 The sun, moon, and stars are found in both visions, referring first to literal people, then to the nation that came from these people.
12:2 Gen 3:15–16 The serpent is at enmity with the woman, and her Seed will conquer the serpent and reign.
12:2 Isa 26:17; 66:7; Micah 4:9–10; 5:3 Pain in childbirth pictures Israel’s suffering before rescue by her Messiah.
12:3 Isa 27:1; Dan 7:7, 20, 24 God will conquer the serpent and his horns.
12:5 Ps 2:8–9 Christ will rule the nations with a rod of iron.

 A Parting Thought

Satan always opposes the people and Son of God. God’s future protection of Israel reminds us of His protection today. Whatever Satan may do, the body may be harmed but never the soul (Matt 10:28), and all who are persecuted can take hope that the rod of iron will eventually give them relief.

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The Call of God unto Salvation

In 2 Timothy 1:9, God is the One “who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works, but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began.” For Paul and Timothy then and for us today, what is this “calling,” and when does it take place?

This “calling” is theologically termed the effectual call, which Wayne Grudem defines as “an act of God the Father, speaking through the human proclamation of the gospel, in which he summons people to himself in such a way that they respond in saving faith.”1

Backing up one step (and yet part-and-parcel of the effectual call), there is also a general call for salvation that is given to all who hear the gospel. Louis Berkhof defines this general call as “the presentation and offering of salvation in Christ to sinners, together with an earnest exhortation to accept Christ by faith, in order to obtain the forgiveness of sins and life eternal.”2

This general call can obviously be resisted, for many indeed reject the offering of salvation in Christ. However, there is a work of God that renders the general call of the gospel effective unto salvation for some (thus giving us the descriptor effectual), those who God “summons,” as described earlier. This is the work of regeneration, the impartation of spiritual life to the sinner so as to enable him to choose Christ unto salvation (cf. John 1:13; 1 Pet 1:3, 23). “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God” (1 Cor 2:14), but, “even when we were dead in our trespasses,” God “made us alive together with Christ” (Eph 2:5) through the Spirit’s work in regeneration, enabling us to indeed accept the things of the Spirit of God, i.e., the gospel. Rolland McCune clarifies, “[I]t is probably best to consider the effectual call as regeneration itself (i.e., the impartation of life) which secures the sinner’s immediate response of repentance and faith.”3

Balancing the sovereignty of God with the responsibility of man, McCune explains the nature of regeneration further: “God has ways of working with the human volitional apparatus so that it freely and voluntarily chooses to come to Christ for salvation, even while He instigates and controls the entire matter. In fact, in the final analysis, there is really no synergism involved. Calling is all of God.”4

So, the calling in 2 Timothy 1:9 is God’s effectual call unto salvation, as it is in other passages that speak of a believer’s call unto salvation.5 It was for at least Timothy and Paul (“us”) and, in principle, anyone who had likewise been saved and called. The general call to salvation becomes effectual when God regenerates the sinner so as to bring about his voluntary acceptance of the gospel.

  1. Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994), 693. Italics removed. []
  2. Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology  (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1938), 459. Italics removed. Berkhof uses the term external call, but the concept is the same. []
  3. Rolland McCune, A Systematic Theology of Biblical Christianity: The Doctrines of Salvation, the Church, and Last Things (Allen Park, MI: Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary, 2010), 44. []
  4. Ibid., 46. []
  5. For a number of other verses that refer to the effectual call, see Rom 8:28; 11:29; 1 Cor 1:9; Gal 5:13; 1 Thess 2:12; 4:7; 1 Tim 6:12; 1 Pet 3:9. []

A Quick Biography of Timothy

Raised in Lystra (Acts 16:1–5), “from childhood,” Timothy had “been acquainted with the sacred writings” (2 Tim 3:15), thanks to his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice who had “a faith that dwelt first” in them (2 Tim 1:5). Eunice was “a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek” (Acts 16:1), and likely an unbeliever as evidenced by his opposition to Timothy being circumcised according to Mosaic Law (cf. Acts 16:3).

Minus his father, Timothy’s family likely accepted Paul’s gospel when he came to Lystra during his first missionary journey (AD 47–49; cf. Acts 14:5–23). Paul had there healed a cripple, provoking an attempt to worship him (Acts 14:8–18), and he was soon thereafter opposed, stoned, and left for dead (Acts 14:19–20). Shortly after, however, Paul was “strengthening the souls of the disciples” and left them in the hands of their newly-appointed elders (Acts 14:22–23).

Likely among those who followed Paul at that time, it is no surprise that Timothy matured and was later “well spoken of by the brothers at Lystra and Iconium” (Acts 16:2). Thus, “Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him” (Acts 16:3) during his second missionary journey (AD 50–52), which may have been when Timothy was formally set aside to use his “gift” of preaching and teaching, “given” to him “by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on” him (1 Tim 4:14; 2 Tim 1:6).

Luke’s Acts and Paul’s letters give but a few snippets from his life of missionary service. Timothy would at times be separated from Paul (Acts 17:14–15), sent to churches with specific tasks (Acts 18:22), such as checking up on them (1 Thess 3:1–10), helping in handling their problems (1 Tim 1:3), and doing so in a manner that mirrored Christ (1 Cor 4:15–17). He would join Paul for his third missionary journey (AD 53–57; cf. Acts 20:4–5; Rom 16:21; 2 Cor 1:1) and then encourage him in a Roman prison (AD 59–61; Phil 1:1; Col 1:1; Phm 1). He joined him again for a fourth journey (AD 62–66), finally to be left at Ephesus (1 Tim 1:3) where he remained until the death of Paul (cf. 2 Tim 4:6–8), except for perhaps an occasional trip to Paul or elsewhere (cf 2 Tim 4:9, 13, 21).

Some suggest that Timothy was timid since the Corinthians had to be told not to despise him (1 Cor 16:10–11) and the admonition to use his gift in Ephesus implied that he may not have been doing so (2 Tim 1:6). Some add to this weak persona his occasional sickness (1 Tim 5:23). At the same time, we remember Paul’s glowing commendations of Timothy (1 Cor 4:17; Phil 2:19–22) and that he dealt with problems in Corinth, Ephesus, and elsewhere, and his last mention in the NT is having been freed from being imprisoned for the gospel (Heb 13:23). Whatever his flaws may have been, he is an excellent example of Christlike service for us today (1 Cor 4:15–17).

Scriptural Quotations with Time Divisions of the Tribulation

These notes were taught at my church on March 3, 2017, clarifying a number of time references we had seen in our study of Revelation.

First Half of the Tribulation

Days

Rev 11:3: “they will prophesy for 1,260 days”

One Week

Dan 9:27: “he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week”

 

Second Half of the Tribulation

Days

Rev 12:6: “the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days”

Dan 12:11: “And from the time that the regular burnt offering is taken away and the abomination that makes desolate is set up, there shall be 1,290 days”

Dan 12:12: “Blessed is he who waits and arrives at the 1,335 days”

Note: The woman in Rev 12:6, 14 is symbolic of Israel (cf. Rev 12:1 with Gen 37:9).

Months

Rev 11:2: “they will trample the holy city for forty-two months”

Rev 13:5: “the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months”

Times

Dan 7:25: “they shall be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time”

Dan 12:7: “it would be for a time, times, and half a time, and that when the shattering of the power of the holy people comes to an end all these things would be finished”

Rev 12:14: But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time.

Half of the Week

Dan 9:27: “And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering”

Note: Jesus speaks of the “abomination of desolation,” which seems to be some sort of statue that the Antichrist sets up in the temple in Jerusalem at the midpoint of the Tribulation (cf. Matt 24:15), an image of the Antichrist that is Satanically empowered and worshipped as a result (cf. Rev 13:15).

Note: The fact that Daniel and John use the same terms for this time (days and times) without offering a figurative understanding of these times suggests that we should not understand them figuratively, recognizing that both Daniel and John have much symbolism otherwise in their visions. The fact that Jesus, Paul, and John elsewhere speak of a literal Antichrist within this future framework of timing supports this conclusion (cf. Matt 24:15; 2 Thess 2:8–10; 1 John 2:18).

Other Notes

In comparing Scripture to Scripture, the notes below explain other biblical conclusions that help to clarify and are in harmony with the seven-year timing of the Tribulation and its two primary divisions.

  • Israel is distinct from the church, a fact that helps to understand numerous prophecies in the OT and NT.
    God promised Abraham physical descendants who would become a great nation (Gen 12:2), the nation Israel. Though Israel is hardened from Christ for now, she is predestined by the grace of God to be saved in the future (Rom 11:2, 25–27). Just as unbelieving Israel was distinct from the church in the early church (e.g., Acts 3:12; 5:31), so she is today. She is also distinct from the ideal Israelite, Jesus Christ (cf. Isa 49:5).
  • The Tribulation (used as a specific, eschatological term) refers to the final seven years of this present age.
    The Tribulation is Daniel’s seventieth “seven,” a heptad of years (Dan 9:27). The first sixty-nine of a prophesied seventy sets of seven years (483 years) took place prior to the death of Christ, when “an anointed One shall be cut off and have nothing” (Dan 9:26; cf. 9:24–25). The final set of seven years is yet to come, a future time involving the Antichrist (cf. 2 Thess 2:8–10; 1 John 2:18). These 490 years are parallel to the years in which Israel forsook giving the land rest every seventh year, seventy years total (see 2 Chron 36:20–21 with Lev 25:1–7; Jer 25:8–14; Dan 9:1–2).
  • There is biblical precedent for breaking a year into twelve months of thirty days each.
    A biblical year can consist of 360 days, 12 months of 30 days each (cf. Gen 7:11, 24; 8:3–4). For the Tribulation, as seen above, this time of seven years (one week) is broken into two segments of three and one-half years (a time, times, and half a time), forty-two months, or 1,260 days. Though Daniel speaks of events that take place thirty and seventy-five days after the second 1,260 days of the Tribulation (cf. Dan 12:11–12 with Rev 12:6), his time markers simply speak of something after the Tribulation and do not contradict other passages dividing this period.

The Promise of Life That Is in Christ Jesus

In 2 Timothy 1:1, Paul identifies himself as “an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus.”

Paul was “an apostle of Christ Jesus” in that he was chosen, called, and sent by Christ Jesus to proclaim the gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15; 26:16–18). This apostleship was sovereignly ordained and took place “by the will of God,” and its purpose was “according to the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus.” The richness of this last phrase is worth a closer look.

The Life That Is In Christ Jesus

The life that is in Christ Jesus is eternal, spiritual life. Without this life, we would only sin and live in spiritual death (Rom 5:12–14), only to be punished by the second death, eternal residence in the lake of fire (Rev 20:14–15). This life in Christ Jesus is ours to have as a free gift from God made possible in Christ (Rom 6:23). It comes to us when we believe that Jesus is the Christ (John 20:31) and, more broadly, it comes to us through the gospel (2 Tim 1:10), which makes clear that Jesus Christ died for our sins and rose again (1 Cor 15:3–4).

The Promise of This Life

That this life was the content of a promise implies that one gave this promise and that another received this promise. It would seem that God Himself is the One who gives this promise. Indeed, “eternal life” was something “which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began” (Titus 1:2). After that, “the gospel of God” was something “promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures” of the Old Testament (Rom 1:1–2). In the context of 2 Tim 1:1, the recipients of this promise are those who hear about this promise in this present age. Paul’s function as an apostle was to be sent and to go the Gentiles, heralding the gospel, that is, that God promises eternal life to all those who repent and believe and thus find themselves in Christ Jesus, a gospel that we are all to give to everyone who will hear (cf. Matt 28:18–20).

Putting the above together, according to 2 Timothy 1:1, it was the will of God that Paul was sent by Christ Jesus as an apostle for the purpose of bringing about what was promised, namely, that many would have eternal life through Christ Jesus because of their repentant belief in the gospel.

May we praise God as those who believe this gospel and have eternal life in Christ Jesus!

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