GOD ALL IN ALL IN HIS GLORIFIED SON (Chapter 5)
We are interested to learn from the Scriptures whether the kingdom of the Son of God is eternal according to the plain teaching of Scripture or not. In this chapter we will try to understand the sense and import of the Scriptural teaching that “the Son is subjected unto Him that put all things under Him, in order that God may be all in all” (I Cor. 15:28).
How must this Scripture from the inspired pen of Paul be understood?
Does this mean that in being subjected to the Father, the Son is dethroned, defrocked of His kingship? In the light of our findings in the former chapter, that can hardly be. For the “delivering up” of the kingdom to the Father was an official act of the Mediator. He had finished the work in history of this present time.
But what about the “ages to come” of which the Scriptures speak?
Is it so that Christ’s Mediatorship is merely a means and an agency to an end; that when the end is attained, when history has arrived to the “consummation of the ages,” this agency falls away; that Christ has, after all, but a temporal mediatorship wherein He is Prophet, Priest, and King in His church and kingdom? Is that the plain and unequivocal teaching of the Bible? Is it true that the Messiah’s work in the history of the world does not find its perfection in glory after all? Does the fact that Christ is perfected, according to the teaching of the writer to the Hebrews, refer only to temporal glorification at God’s right hand, as the very expressed image of His being, the effulgence of God’s glory, far above the glory of the angels (Hebrews 1:3-4)? When God begets His Son as the Firstborn out of the dead, through His death and resurrection, ascension and glorification, is it true that He is then not “perfected” in the eternal state, when the tabernacle of God shall be with man? Is it true that the new heaven and the new earth are not a part of the eternal state at all, neither is the tabernacle of God with man in eternity, in the city foursquare, in the new Jerusalem (Rev. 21:3)? Does this new Jerusalem and this new heaven and this new earth belong to the “golden age” of the Gospel prior to Christ’s coming to judge the living and the dead? Is the covenant of God really not eternal as seems to be the obvious implication ofHebrews 8:8-12? Did Jeremiah not write this prophetic word concerning the New Covenant viewing the eternal state of things, as this has its first fruits here in the New Testament (Jer. 31:31-34)?
But is that really the teaching and implication of “that God be all in all” and the “subjecting of the Son unto Himself” in I Corinthians 15:28?
Let us try to see that “God is all in all” in and through Christ even now already in the church, as she is the fulness of the Christ who “fills all in all” (Eph. 1:23). The church, the body of Christ, is the fulness of Christ, Who fills all in all. And in this present Dispensation of the fulness of times, when God is putting all things in heaven and on earth under one Head (Eph. 1:10), according to His eternal good-pleasure, Christ is the Son, in Whom all the fulness of the Godhead dwells bodily (Col. 2:9-10). In this church, which are the Kingdom-citizens of God (Matt. 5:3; Phil. 3:20-21), the Father is “one God and Father of all, Who is above all, and through all and in you all.” And this fulness of Christ in the church is brought about by Christ in the gifts of the offices in the New Testament Church, till we all come to the perfect man, the one new man in Christ, the last Adam (Eph. 2:15; I Cor. 15:44-49; Eph. 4:7-16).
God is all in all now, too, in the church and in His Kingdom. He is this in the Son, His beloved Son, in Whom is all His good-pleasure. But God will be “all in all” in very much greater degree after the Son of man delivers the kingdom to God. In the eternal state God will be manifested and revealed in great splendor and glory. That all is now “not yet.” We do not yet see Jesus crowned with glory and honor in that ultimate glory. We do not yet see that all things are subjected unto Him. Psalm 8 is not yet fully fulfilled in the last Adam. That will be in “the coming age.” Hebrews 2:5 says that it is of that “world” (inhabited world = oikoumeneen) that he is speaking here in Hebrews 1 and 2. Into thatinhabited world God brought His firstborn Son, where all the angels of God must worship Him (Hebrews 1:6; Ps. 97:7). That is ultimately, therefore, the eternal state. In that eternal state, where the Son shall be fully glorified as the Lord out of heaven, the last Adam, God shall be all in all. That is the eternal Kingdom; that is the church perfected; that is the tabernacle of God with man (Heb. 11:40; Rev. 21:3).
When I Corinthians 15:28 speaks of “God all in all” it refers to a new dimension of the glory of God in the incarnate Son glorified in His church. All that is Christ’s humanity stands so in the light of the glory of the divine Son, that we see in this Son the fulness of the Godhead bodily, that we see Him as “the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, the Lord of lords; who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; Whom no man hath seen, nor can see; to Whom be honor and power everlasting” (I Tim. 6:15-16). Here we will see fulfilled in the highest degree: “he that hath seen Me, hath seen the Father” (John 14:9). Again, “I am in the Father and the Father in Me” (John 14:10). Here will be manifested, “…glorify Thou Me with Thine own self, with the glory, which I had with Thee before the world was” (John 17:5). And, once more, here we shall see the fulfilment of the Sacerdotal prayer of the King-Priest after the order of Melchizedek, “that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me: for Thou lovest Me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24). Here is the end of the golden chain: “whom He did predestinate, them He also called: and whom He called, them He also justified: and whom He justified, them He also glorified” (Rom. 8:30). And this glorification of the Kingdom-citizens is in their King, Whom they greet: Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord, Hosanna in the Highest!
Calvin writes in his commentary on I Corinthians 15concerning this “God all in all” as follows:
“But Christ will then hand back the kingdom which He had received, so that we may completely cleave to God. This does not mean that He will abdicate from the Kingdom in this way, but will transfer it in some way or other (quodammodo) from His humanity to His glorious divinity, because then there will be open for us a way of approach, from which we are now kept back by our weakness. In this way, therefore, Christ will be subjected to the Father, because, when the veil has been removed, we will see God plainly, reigning in His majesty, and the humanity of Christ will no longer be in between us to hold us back from a nearer vision of God.” I Cor. 1527
“…it will not be out of place if this phrase be taken as referring to believers only, in whom God has already begun His Kingdom, and will bring it to completion, and in such a way they will all cleave to Him entirely.”
“…some imagine that God will be all in all in the sense that everything will vanish, and dissolve into nothingness. But the only meaning that the words of Paul bear is that all things must be restored to God as their one and only beginning and end, so that they may be bound closely to Him.”
Commentary on Verse 28.
Yes, God will then be manifested in all the glory of His majesty, holiness, and grace in the Church, in His Kingdom of glory, as the all in all. That was evidently wholly impossible in the Old Testament Dispensation of the shadows. Think of the glory of God revealed in the Tabernacle in the wilderness as spoken of in Exodus 40:24. It is the same glory as was revealed in the mount of Horeb, which caused Israel to tremble and fear, and which even caused Moses the law-giver to say: “I exceedingly fear and quake” (Heb. 12:21). For we read concerning this presence of the Lord that “then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.” What a glory in which God shows that He is all in all. But this is glory which must be beheld from afar, even by Moses who speaks with God, not as a common prophet in visions, but mouth to mouth!
Again in the dedication of the temple of Solomon we read, “And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the LORD, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of the LORD” (I Kings 8:10-11; II Chron. 5:13-14). Yes, God was all in all, but not in a form in which men could dwell in His tabernacle. They could not be near to the glory of the LORD.
But now already in principle we can dwell in God’s house, by the new and living way, the blood sprinkled way, the new and living way into His temple (Heb. 10:19-22). Still we do not yet see that glory manifested in His temple, the church of the living God. That will be in the last Day, in the great Parousia of Christ. Then we shall be like God, partakers of the divine nature, conformed to His image; then we shall no more see in a glass darkly, but shall be changed from glory unto glory as by the Spirit of the risen Lord. We shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is (I John 3:2; II Cor. 3:17-18). Yes, now we know in part, but then shall we know even as we are known; now we see in a glass darkly, but then face to face—in the face of Jesus Christ (I Cor. 13:12). This is for all the pure in heart, who shall see God in blessed covenant fellowship, in His tabernacle forever. No, this will not be in an earthly sanctuary, but it will be in that church of the living God, the dwelling-place of God in the Spirit (Eph. 2:21-22; Rev. 21:22-23). Truly the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.
Such is the beautiful and comforting prospect of the future glory, in which “God is all in all.”
What a far cry this is from the presentation of Postmillennial writers, who will not that Christ shall be the King of the Kingdom in glory. In our next chapter we will try to show a bit in depth that the united testimony of all the Scriptures, both in the Old and New Testaments, is that God’s kingdom of heaven is eternal in Christ Jesus the glorified Christ, in Whom God is indeed all in all.
Those who deny the eternity of God’s Kingdom in Christ, in the ages to come, do so to sustain their “theory” of the “golden age” of the universal kingdom of Christ on earth, prior to Christ’s final return with the clouds of heaven. Only tendency exegesis, which fails to interpret Scripture with Scripture, will aid them for a plausible foundation and support for their theory, which they denominate “Eschatology of Victory.”