“I wrote this book because I know personally the pain of not merely not knowing whether God exists, but not knowing what the word ‘God’ is supposed to mean. For many people whom I knew during my childhood, ‘God’ has just as much meaning as ‘the Great Pumpkin’.”
The following is an excerpt from Making All Things New, by Benjamin Gladd and Matthew Harmon.
Revelation 1:9 claims that John is a “partner in the tribulation and kingdom.” The ideas of “tribulation” and “kingdom,” though discussed separately in the OT (esp. in Dan. 7), have been surprisingly merged into a unified, ironic concept in Revelation 1:9. Surprisingly, John participates in God’s end-time kingdom by persevering through tribulation (1:6). John’s behavior models Christ’s actions on the cross; he likewise executed his rule in the midst of suffering (1 Cor. 1:18–2:16).
Jesus labels his teaching in Matthew’s Gospel as “mysteries of the kingdom.” The latter-day kingdom is surprisingly fulfilled in two stages. The book of Daniel, perhaps more than any other OT book, demonstrates that the latter-day kingdom arrives after persecution and tribulation (e.g., Dan. 7:24–26; 12:1–3). Jesus’s teaching on the kingdom differs in general from the latter-day conception of the kingdom in the OT and Judaism in that the kingdom and those within it coexist with pagan empires and wickedness.
In a very real sense, while John is on Patmos suffering because of his resolved testimony for Christ, he is being “overcome” physically by the world. Physically, the world “overcomes” true believers, particularly John, yet true believers spiritually “overcome” the world. John, while in exile on the island of Patmos and physically enduring “tribulation,” rules and reigns in God’s end-time kingdom, albeit in a spiritual manner. Outwardly, the apostle suffers intense persecution, but spiritually and invisibly he has triumphed over the devil and the world.
This behavior is ultimately modeled after Christ’s conquering and overcoming Satan and the world through his death. Revelation 3:21 states, “He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne” (NASB; cf. Rev. 5:5–6). Later in Revelation, the beast is portrayed as overcoming the saints physically, but in reality they overcome him spiritually: “When they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war with them, and overcome them and kill them” (11:7 NASB; cf. 13:7). By suffering on Patmos and being “overcome” by the world physically, John the apostle triumphs over the world spiritually, thus modeling a genuine Christlike behavior for the seven churches of Asia Minor.
©2016 by Benjamin L. Gladd and Matthew S. Harmon. Published by Baker Academic. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.
For more information on Making All Things New, click here.
Many people think eschatology refers to events occurring at the end of history. In this book, two scholars with expertise in biblical eschatology argue that God’s kingdom breaking into this world through Jesus Christ has inaugurated a new creation, a reality that should shape pastoral leadership and be reflected in the life and ministry of the church.
Brief and accessibly written, this book articulates the practical implications of G. K. Beale’s New Testament Biblical Theology and features an introductory chapter by Beale. Each chapter concludes with practical suggestions and a list of books for further study.
“The book is filled with practical suggestions, but what makes it unique and powerful is that the practical implications are rooted in what the Scriptures teach about eschatology. Readers will be instructed, edified, and encouraged.”—Thomas R. Schreiner, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
“In this book two younger scholars, with the assistance of Greg Beale, show what it means to be end-time people. They offer some great theological reflections and practical advice on how to lead people who are waiting with patience and purpose for the day when God is all in all.”—Michael F. Bird, Ridley College
“Here is where ecclesiology and eschatology meet….Gladd and Harmon offer skillful guidance on how a biblical understanding of the end times is crucial to the church’s ministry and to its very identity for today.”—Daniel M. Gurtner, Bethel Seminary
“Gladd and Harmon offer a biblically thick description of Scripture’s redemptive narrative…. A very helpful combination of scholarly precision and pastoral sensitivity.”—Darian Lockett, Talbot School of Theology
“A clear and helpful guide….Gladd and Harmon have done us a great service by demonstrating in a compelling way why eschatology matters in the life of the church.”—Chris Bruno, author of The Whole Story of the Bible in 16 Verses
“Gladd and Harmon apply to pastoral ministry the inaugurated eschatology they learned from Greg Beale. The book repeatedly moves from sound exegesis to theology to application.”—Andy Naselli, Bethlehem College and Seminary
“What a marvelous book!….Gladd and Harmon have achieved the rare feat of writing a book that is both substantive and useful, insightful and practical, scholarly and churchly—a model of what I would call ‘ecclesial theology.’ I recommend it highly!”—Todd Wilson, Calvary Memorial Church
Benjamin L. Gladd (PhD, Wheaton College) is assistant professor of New Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi. He has coauthored two books with G. K. Beale, Hidden but Now Revealed: A Biblical Theology of Mystery and The Story Retold: A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the New Testament (forthcoming).
Matthew S. Harmon (PhD, Wheaton College) is professor of New Testament studies at Grace College and Theological Seminary in Winona Lake, Indiana. He is the author of a commentary on Philippians and of forthcoming commentaries on Galatians and 2 Peter and Jude.
For more information on Making All Things New, click here.