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1 Corinthians 15:54 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
John 3:16 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, in order that whoever believes in him will not be destroyed but have eternal life.
IMMORTALITY: (ἄφθαρτος aphthartos) immortal, imperishablJe, indestructible, cannot be destroyed, so, of course, it means lasting forever
ETERNAL LIFE: (ζωὴν αἰώνιον zōē aiōnion) means eternal, an unlimited duration.
This is not really semantics because, if taken literally, immortality means the being is imperishable and indestructible, which means the being cannot be destroyed. The Greek word translated “immortality” (ἀφθαρσία aphtharsia) is formed from the negative “a” and from (θάνατος thanatos), meaning “death.” Therefore, the basic sense of immortality is ‘without death.’ It has always been that only God was indestructible (Psalm 36:9; 90:1-2). The Son, who is “the radiance of his glory and the exact representation of his nature,” is described as “the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of those who reign as kings and Lord of those who rule as lords, the one who alone possesses immortality.” (Hebrews 1:3; 1 Timothy 6:15-16) No creature can take The Father or the Son’s life as they are immortal, which makes them different from humans or angels, that are destructible.
Even Michael the archangel, who is the highest-ranking angel and the second most powerful being there, is, aside from God, and he is destructible. That is, he can be destroyed. So, the question that now begs to be asked will everyone who receives eternal life be immortal? I highly doubt that. Those that go to heaven will receive immortality, which encompasses eternal life, and those on earth will receive eternal life. However, they can still be destroyed, which is clear from what will happen to some after the thousand-year reign of Christ when some will be tempted by Satan and receive the Second Death from which there is no resurrection. Even though Adam and Eve were created to live forever, they were not immortal. So, immortality does encompass the sense of eternal life, but it is beyond that as it implies more than the fact that the person having immortality will live forever. It is connected with incorruption, which is imperishable, indestructible, cannot be destroyed, and cannot die.
1 Corinthians 15:53-55 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
53 For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
However, the Bible does not offer us many insights into what life will be like for those who receive immortality. As was said above, Adam and Eve possessed eternal life. And we know that they had to eat food and drink water to maintain life. It can be inferred that if, hypothetically, they stopped eating and drinking water, they would die, and they would experience corruption, even though they possessed eternal life. (Genesis 2:9, 15, 16) There is nothing within the Scriptures that would suggest that those who will receive immortal life in heaven with spirit bodies will need to consume something to sustain their eternal life. Thus, immortals are not subject to death. When they receive their spirit body, they will be imperishable, receiving incorruptibility. (Compare 2 Corinthians 5:1; Revelation 20:6) Thus, immortality involves eternal life but also deathlessness, unable to die, cannot be destroyed, while eternal life here on earth does not involve these things.
What Does the Bible Really Say About the Resurrection?
All of us have lost a loved one to this force to be reckoned with, and it is only a matter of time before we have to face the greatest enemy humankind has ever known, death! However, we have been given a hope that is as great as the penalty that we are under. We have the hope of life eternal, and if we die, it is the hope of a resurrection. This hope means we will be reunited with the loved ones we lost. Some in the past have had a foretaste of this great hope:
Mark 5:35, 41-42 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
35 While he was still speaking, they came from the house of the synagogue official, saying, “Your daughter has died; why trouble the Teacher anymore?” 41 Taking the child by the hand, he said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which is translated, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). 42 And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years old), and immediately they were amazed and completely astounded.
Acts 9:36-41 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
36 Now in Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which translated in Greek is called Dorcas); this woman was full of good deeds of kindness and good works which she continually did. 37 Now it happened that in those days she became ill and died, and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. 38 Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, having heard that Peter was there, sent two men to him, imploring him, “Do not delay in coming to us.” 39 So Peter arose and went with them. When he arrived, they brought him into the upper room; and all the widows stood beside him, weeping and showing all the tunics and garments that Dorcas used to make while she was with them. 40 But Peter put them all outside and knelt down and prayed; and turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter, she sat up. 41 And he gave her his hand and raised her up. Then, calling the holy ones and widows, he presented her alive.
We have already heard of the charges that Satan has risen against God in chapter six of this book. The resurrection hope allows God to let Satan play out his challenges to resolve the issues that would have otherwise plagued us for an eternity. It is like when you suffer through a painful medical treatment, to enjoy thereafter with all the complications of the issues you had. It is only by means of the greatest resurrection, namely Jesus Christ, that we can have this hope.
Matthew 20:28 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his soul as a ransom for many.”
Resurrection is a Foundational Doctrine
Hebrews 6:1-2 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
1 Therefore, leaving behind the elementary doctrine about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and faith in God, 2 and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.
The resurrection is a foundational doctrine of our Christian faith. However, it does not fit into the world of humankind that is alienated from God. They see this as the only life there is, and so they are in pursuit of fleshly pleasures to make the most of it. The mindset of some of the first century was, “If the dead are not raised, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.’” (1 Cor. 15:32) On the other hand, we do not need to chase after the things that Satan’s world has to offer.
Acts 17:32 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
32 Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, but others said, “We will hear you concerning this also again.”
We need to look at two hopes humans have the opportunity to have. Some are of new Israel and are seen as being given a kingdom, a chosen race, a royal priesthood, and ruling with Christ for a thousand years. There will be a need to investigate this, and this section will be a little more complex than any other part of this book. It is crucial to all of us, so bear with me. I am going to quote some leading evangelical scholars at length.
Revelation 5:9-10 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
9 And they sang a new song, saying,
“Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and purchased for God with your blood men
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign over the earth.”
A further result of the Lamb’s sacrifice is the establishment of the redeemed as a kingdom and priests: kai epoiēsas autous tǭ theǭ hēmōn basileian kai hiereis (“and You made them a kingdom and priests to our God”). The threefold occurrence of this theme in Revelation (cf. also Rev. 1:6; 20:6) indicates that talk about such a spiritual heritage was common parlance among Christians of John’s day (Swete). As God’s possession, the redeemed will not merely be God’s people over whom He reigns, but will also share God’s rule in the coming millennial kingdom (cf. 1 Cor. 4:8; 6:3) (Charles; Ladd). This kingdom is the goal toward which the program of God is moving as emphasized by basileusousin (“they shall reign”) later in v. 10 (cf. Rev. 20:4). The idea of priesthood found in hiereis (“priests”) means full and immediate access into God’s presence for the purpose of praise and worship (Ladd). It also includes the thought of priestly service to God (Mounce). Though believers are currently viewed as a royal priesthood (1 Pet. 2:5, 9; cf. Ex. 19:6), this is only preliminary to the fullness of the way they will function alongside Christ in the millennial kingdom.
Kai basileusousin epi tēs gēs (“and they shall reign on the earth”) explains more fully the earlier basileian (“kingdom”). The fact that believers will serve as reigning powers means that they will be the equivalent of kings (Charles; Beckwith). Spelled out more particularly in 20:4 regarding the millennial kingdom and in 22:5 regarding the eternal state, they will join with Christ in His continual reign following His second advent to the earth. This all stems from the epoch determining redemptive work of the Lamb.
Revelation 5:9-10 has a high level of theological content. It either says that Jesus and his co-rulers will rule from heaven, over the earth, or on the earth. It is theological bias to have several cases of similar context and the same grammatical construction, rendering the verses the same every time, yet to then render one verse contrary to the others simply because it aligns with one’s theology. Whether that is the case here or not, the readers must determine for themselves. The point, regardless, is this, either way, Jesus is ruling the earth, and we are blessed to have had his ransom sacrifice and resurrection. Slow down for the next few pages, as things will get a little deeper. We can grasp it if we just slow down, meditate on what is being said, get out our dictionary if we have to, and write the definitions in the book beside the word, and read again.
Revelation 14:1-4 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
14 Then I looked, and behold, the Lamb was standing on Mount Zion, and with him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having his name and the name of his Father written on their foreheads. 2 And I heard a voice from heaven, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder, and the voice which I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps. 3 And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders; and no one could learn the song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been purchased from the earth. 4 These are the ones who have not been defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These have been purchased from among men as first fruits to God and to the Lamb.
The whole of chapter 14 is proleptic. As a summary of the Millennium (20:4–6), the first five verses feature the Lamb in place of the beast, the Lamb’s followers with His and the Father’s seal in place of the beast’s followers with the mark of the beast, and the divinely controlled Mount Zion in place of the pagan-controlled earth (Alford, Moffatt, Kiddle).
Revelation 7:4 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
4 And I heard the number of the ones who were sealed, one hundred forty-four thousand sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel:
Various efforts have sought to determine the significance of the number 144,000. An understanding of the number as symbolical divides it into three of its multiplicands, 12 × 12 × 1000. From the symbolism of the three it is concluded that the number indicates fixedness and fullest completeness. Twelve, a number of the tribes, is both squared and multiplied by a thousand. This is a twofold way of emphasizing completeness (Mounce). It thus affirms the full number of God’s people to be brought through tribulation (Ladd). The symbolic approach points out the impossibility of taking the number literally. It is simply a vast number, less than a number indefinitely great (cf. 7:9), but greater than a large number designedly finite (e.g., 1,000, Rev. 20:2) (Lee). Other occurrences of the numerical components that are supposedly symbolic are also pointed out, 12 thousand in Rev. 21:16, 12 in Rev. 22:2, and 24, a multiple of 12, in Rev. 4:4. This is done to enhance the case for symbolism (Johnson). Though admittedly ingenious, the case for symbolism is exegetically weak. The principal reason for the view is a predisposition to make the 144,000 into a group representative of the church with which no possible numerical connection exists. No justification can be found for understanding the simple statement of fact in v. 4 as a figure of speech. It is a definite number in contrast with the indefinite number of 7:9. If it is taken symbolically, no number in the book can be taken literally. As God reserved 7,000 in the days of Ahab (1 Kings 19:18; Rom. 11:4), He will reserve 144,000 for Himself during the future Great Tribulation. (Thomas, Revelation 1-7: An Exegetical Commentary 1992, 473-74)
These ones are made up of those under the new covenant, the Law of Christ, those called out of natural Israel, and the new Israelites, also known as the Israel of God. They are a chosen number that is to reign with Jesus as kings, priests, and judges. Therefore, we ask, what is the other hope?
The New Earth: The Earthly Hope
In the O[ld] T[estament] the kingdom of God is usually described in terms of a redeemed earth; this is especially clear in the book of Isaiah, where the final state of the universe is already called new heavens and a new earth (65:17; 66:22) The nature of this renewal was perceived only very dimly by OT authors, but they did express the belief that a humans ultimate destiny is an earthly one. This vision is clarified in the N[ew] T[estament]. Jesus speaks of the “renewal” of the world (Matt 19:28), Peter of the restoration of all things (Acts 3:21). Paul writes that the universe will be redeemed by God from its current state of bondage (Rom. 8:18-21). This is confirmed by Peter, who describes the new heavens and the new earth as the Christian’s hope (2 Pet. 3:13). Finally, the book of Revelation includes a glorious vision of the end of the present universe and the creation of a new universe, full of righteousness and the presence of God. The vision is confirmed by God in the awesome declaration: “I am making everything new!” (Rev. 21:1-8)
The new heavens and the new earth will be the renewed creation that will fulfill the purpose for which God created the universe. It will be characterized by the complete rule of God and by the full realization of the final goal of redemption: “Now the dwelling of God is with men” (Rev. 21:3).
The fact that the universe will be created anew shows that God’s goals for humans is not an ethereal and disembodied existence, but a bodily existence on a perfected earth. The scene of the beatific vision is the new earth. The spiritual does not exclude the created order and will be fully realized only within a perfected creation. (Elwell 2001, 828-29)
What have we learned so far in this publication? God created the earth to be inhabited, to be filled with perfect humans, who are over the animals, and under the sovereignty of God. (Gen 1:28; 2:8, 15; Ps 104:5; 115:16; Eccl 1:4) Sin did not dissuade God from his plans (Isa. 45:18); hence, he has saved redeemable humankind by Jesus’ ransom sacrifice. It seems that the Bible offers two hopes to redeemed humans, (1) a heavenly hope, or (2) an earthly hope. It also seems that those with heavenly hope are limited in number and are going to heaven to rule with Christ as kings, priests, and judges either on the earth or over the earth from heaven. It seems that those with earthly hope will receive eternal life here on a paradise earth as originally intended.
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 The aorist ἐποίησας connotes finished result. As commonly the case in the heavenly songs of this book, it is proleptic, anticipating the culmination of the process being carried out at the time the song is sung (Swete, Apocalypse, p. 81; Beckwith, Apocalypse, pp. 512–13).
 Τῷ θεῷ (5:10) has a possessive sense: “belonging to God” as His peculiar people (Beckwith, Apocalypse, p. 513).
 Newell, Revelation, p. 13.
 Robert L. Thomas, Revelation 1-7: An Exegetical Commentary (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1992), 402.
 TR WH NU have ᾄδουσιν [ὡς] ᾠδὴν καινήν
(“they sing, as it were, a new song”), which is supported by A C 051 Maja. However, all modern-day English versions have the variant reading αδουσιν ωδην καινην (“they sing a new song”), which is supported by P47 P115vid א P 046 2053 2344.
 Robert L. Thomas, Revelation 8-22: An Exegetical Commentary (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1995), 189.
 Alford, Greek Testament, 4:624; Charles, Revelation, 1:206; Lenski, Revelation, p. 154.
 Bullinger, Apocalypse, p. 282. Geyser is correct in observing that the predominant concern of the Apocalypse is “the restoration [on earth] of the twelve tribes of Israel, their restoration as a twelve-tribe kingdom, in a renewed and purified city of David, under the rule of the victorious ‘Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Root of David’ (5:5; 22:16)” (Albert Geyser, “The Twelve Tribes in Revelation: Judean and Judeo Christian Apocalypticism,” NTS 23, no. 3 [July 1982]: 389). He is wrong, however, in his theory that this belief characterized the Judean church only and was not shared by Gentile Christianity spearheaded by Paul (ibid., p. 390).
 It is unwise to speak of the written Word of God as if it were of human origin, saying, ‘OT authors express the belief,’ when what was written is the meaning and message of what God wanted to convey by means of the human author.
 Creating anew does not mean complete destruction followed by a re-creation, but instead a renewal of the present universe.
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