So shall it be at the end of the world: (Matt.13:49). throughout all ages, world without end (Eph.3:21).
THERE is no room for quibble here. It is definitely stated that something is to occur at the "end of the world," which is a "world without end." This brings us face to face with an uncompromising contradiction in the Bible. Apology is out of order. The fact is established and the question before us for solution is, Is it of God or man?
Truth lovers are in a wilderness of confusion today because of the lack of STANDARDS in our translations and by confounding scriptural terms, such as "eons" (ages) and "administrations" (dispensations). If we could only encourage the saints of God to heed Paul's admonition to Timothy--"Have a pattern of sound words which you hear from me"--a wonderful reformation in behalf of the truth would take place in a short time. The translators of our common Bible used no system, and translated the Greek word aioon by the English words world, always, forever, everlasting, eternal, etc., all of which are contrary to the Mind of Inspiration. The saints, of course, are at their mercy, and follow their leading, speaking of "ages" and "dispensations" as synonymous terms. How often we hear such expressions as "the Patriarchial Age," "the Mosaical Dispensation," "the Gospel Age," or "Christian Dispensation!" The further such indiscriminating work is carried, the worse confused the matter will become. Hence I am appealing for scriptural terms through a "pattern of sound words" with a careful discrimination of those things that differ.
No doubt the question uppermost in our minds just now is, What is the meaning of the term "eon?" The words used by Inspiration, which we translate "eon," are olam in the Hebrew and aioon in the Greek. Our Greek-English Lexicons usually define these terms as "An indefinite, long period of time; an age." With this definition in mind, theology has made one of the hugest blunders it is possible to conceive, by stretching the meaning into such terms as "for ever," "evermore," "eternal," "everlasting," etc.
For many years it never occurred to me to question the "authorities" or the renderings they put upon these words in our Bible. But in the course of my search for truth, I was led to take up the study of the original, and after making a personal acquaintance and a careful investigation of the usage of the terms by divine inspiration apart from "authorities," to my surprise, I found there was no word in all the original Scriptures that carried the idea of "everlasting" or "eternal" in the sense of time. Again I repeat, there is no word in all the Book of God that can be accurately and consistently translated to mean "endless time." Furthermore, before preachers and teachers get up and rave about these words, affirming that God meant "for ever" and "eternal," anathematizing those who refuse to blot His character by any such teaching, they should have the honesty of heart, sincerity of purpose and fidelity to inspiration to sit down and make a personal investigation of the scriptural usage of the terms. It will not only increase their treasures of knowledge and wisdom as to what God has really revealed, but it will be the means of enriching their spiritual perception of Him and His love many fold.
Now for the definition, we suggest to our readers the concordant method of deriving the true significance of the terms used in the Greek original apart from human opinions. It is based on the vocabulary system, complete information of which may be found in the Introduction to the CONCORDANT VERSION OF THE SACRED SCRIPTURES.
A careful investigation of the scriptural use of the term reveals that it usually refers to a period of time between two great physical and moral cataclysmic judgments of the earth and its inhabitants. In other words, there, are five eons referred to in the Scriptures, which are separated by four great physical and moral changes, punctuating the history of the human race and the earth which it inhabits, namely, the Disruption, the Deluge, the Day of Wrath and the Great White- Throne Judgment, bounded in the past by the Beginning and in the future by the Consummation. Compare with chart of the Divine Calendar.
Though the term refers to the longest segments of time in the Scriptures, nevertheless, there is always a beginning and an ending.
EON RATHER THAN AGE
Some one may ask, Why use the word "eon" rather than "age?" What has already been presented makes it clear that the thoughts commonly associated with the word "age," are, in many important particulars, diverse from that which is brought before us by the original word aioon. The word age not only represents another word in the Greek, but the many unscriptural conceptions clinging to it would be confusing, if we attempted to use it to incorporate the new conceptions which a thorough study of the scriptural use of the eons will harvest. The word eon is good English, yet not so much used as to be contaminated with unscriptural ideas.
SCRIPTURAL DOCTRINE OF THE EONS
In the first place, I want to urge a profound conviction, the outgrowth of many years of patient study of God's Word, that only a clear apprehension of the scriptural doctrine of the eons will unlock the door of the vast treasures of wisdom and knowledge He has been pleased to reveal. And be it remembered, when speaking of thescriptural doctrine of the eons, I am not suggesting some elaborate scheme of theology, but a clear, positive outlay of the facts secured from the internal evidences of the word of truth in its purity, apart from human tradition. Without such a knowledge, the Bible is more or less a heterogeneous jumble--a book of mysteries! As some one has said, It is like walking by the seashore, picking up a pebble here and there, while the vast ocean with all its treasures lies before us unexplored. We pick a precious gem of truth here and there, but the vast treasures of knowledge and wisdom will lie before us undiscovered and unrealized unless we clearly grasp God's "purpose of the eonswhich He makes in Christ Jesus, our Lord." Therefore, for the sake of emphasis, I again appeal to my readers to diligently seek a clear understanding of what the Scriptures really teach concerning the eons, if they truly desire the full assurance in all the will of God and the heart satisfying realization in His love which transcends knowledge.
By studying the chart of the Divine Calendar, it will be observed that time is divided into three grand divisions by the Scriptures, which may be characterized as the Pre-Eonian Times, Eonian Times, and Post-Eonian Times.
Of that time "before the eons," the Scriptures are clear and explicit in their purity, leaving no place for confusion. Paul, writing to Timothy, makes the fact known that
"God, Who saves us and calls us with a holy calling, not in accord with our acts, but in accord with His own purpose and the grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before eonian times" (2 Tim.1:9).
To Titus, he expresses the same thought again, of God's
"chosen ones,...in expectation of eonian life, which God, Who does not lie, promises before eonian times" (Titus 1:2).
It is further confirmed to the Corinthian saints, when speaking of
"God's wisdom in a secret, which has been concealed, which God designates before the eons for our glory, which not one of the chief men of this eon has known, for if they knew, they would not crucify the Lord of glory" (1 Cor.2:7,8).
These Scriptures establish the fact of a time before the eons, which settles a very important point in our study, namely, that the eons were not eternal in the past, but had a definite beginning.
EONS BEGAN IN CHRIST
Having ascertained from the Scriptures that there was a time before the eons, our next search is for their beginning. In the former chapter, I dealt with "The Beginning of the Creation of God," wherein it was found that "God's creative Original" was none other than the "Amen," the "Faithful and True Witness," the Image of the Invisible God," "Firstborn of all creation"--Christ Jesus, the Lord of glory. The Scriptures reveal that
in Him is all created, that in the heavens and that on the earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones, or lordships, or sovereignties, or authorities, all is created through Him and for Him, and He is before all, and all has its cohesion in Him (Col.1:15-17).
This is the most satisfactory and complete summing up of the wherefore of creation one could wish for. So simply stated, yet so grand and comprehensive in its expression that we need not seek for further knowledge in the matter amidst the chaotic theories of scientific hypotheses. We might add another witness to this, from the apostle John, presenting Christ as the Logos, or Word, averring that
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was toward God, and God was the Word. This was in the beginning toward God. All came into being through It, and apart from It not one thing came into being Which has come into being" (John 1:1-3).
This scripture makes known to us that all came into being through the Logos, and apart from It, not one thing came into being which has come into being, hence, we are assured that the eons were made by the Word. To the Hebrews, God reveals how the eons began, saying:
"By many portions and many modes, of old, speaking to the fathers in the prophets, God in the last of these days, speaks to us in a Son, Whom He appoints the enjoyer of the allotment of the universe, through Whom He makes the eons, also" (Heb.1:1,2).
And, in that grand Ephesian epistle, Paul says
"to me, less than the least of all saints, was this grace granted: to preach the evangel of the untraceable riches of Christ to the nations, and to enlighten all as to the secret administration which has been concealed from the eons in God, Who creates the universe, that now to the sovereignties and the authorities among the celestials, may be made known through the ecclesia, the multifarious wisdom of God, in accord with the purpose of the eons which He makes in Christ Jesus, our Lord" (Eph.3:8-11).
These Scriptures definitely and unequivocally reveal that the eons had their beginning in Christ Jesus, our Lord.
CONSUMMATION OF THE EONS
Having ascertained from the Scriptures that the eons had a beginning, the next question which naturally and logically follows is, Will the eons have a consummation, or end?
As suggested before, tradition and theology have foisted upon God's Word and His saints the idea of "for ever," "everlasting," "eternal," etc., where God was speaking of limited periods of time. Nothing less than irreverence for God's Word and fidelity to tradition, caused our translators to blot the character of the God of love by these terms. It is not at all necessary to possess a knowledge of the original languages (although that is a wonderful help) nor to be a student of philosophy, to see that the words translated "for ever," "for ever and ever," "eternal," and "everlasting" in our Bible cannot possibly carry the meaning of these words. This can be verified beyond question by simply making a few comparisons of Scripture taken from the King James Bible filled with glaring inconsistencies.
I. In the first place, it will be found that our translators have not been consistent in their word, but have translated the Greek word aioon by many different words, seemingly in accord with their opinions. For example:
1. ages, Eph.2:7; Col.1:26 2. course, Eph.2:2. 3. world, Matt.12:32; 13:22,39,49; Rom.12:2; 1 Tim.16:17, etc. 4. eternal, Eph.3:11; 1 Tim.1:17. 5. for ever, Matt.21:19; Mark 11:14; Luke 1:55; John 6:51,58, etc. 6. never (with a negative), Mark 3:29; John 4:14; 8:51,52; 10: 28; 11:26; 13:8. 7. ever, Heb.7:24. 8. for evermore, Heb.7:28. 9. while the world standeth, 1 Cor.8:13.
It is plain to be seen that if the Greek word aioon meant "forever" or "eternal" in the absolute sense, these various translations would not have been necessary. Something is wrong.
II. In the second place, knowledge of the original language is not necessary to observe that if the word aioon meant "for ever" or "eternal" in the singular, the plural formwould have been an impossibility. Yet the plural is used quite frequently. For example:
"That in the ages to come He may show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus" (Eph.2:7, A.V.).
Here, we observe, that "age," in the singular, cannot mean "for ever" in the absolute, else the use of the plural is meaningless. Further proof is found in Colossians 1:26, which reads:
"Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and generations, but is made manifest to his saints..."
This would make nonsense if it were translated "for ever," for then the mystery could never have been made known.
III. In the third place, if the word aioon meant "for ever" or "eternal" there could have been no beginning as well as no ending. Yet in 1 Corinthians 2:7, we read:
"...which God ordained before the world unto our glory."
The word translated by the singular word "world" here, is the plural aioonoon, eons in the original. Simply another act of irreverence. Furthermore, if the word means "for ever" or "eternal" in other places, why would it not carry the significance here? The same idea is expressed in 2 Timothy 1:9 and Titus 1:2, and reads in our King James Bible, "before the world began." The word "world" is the same word, in the adjective form, aioonioon, eonian, joined to the plural chronoon, times, meaning eonian times, and shows clearly that the term is relative and temporary, and had a beginning, and cannot mean "eternal." The American Standard Revision committee made the nonsensical blunder of translating these passages "before times eternal." Just a few moments of meditation on this rendering reveals the fact that they had no conception of what they were trying to express. "Times eternal," having neither beginning nor end of existence, could have nothing before them.
IV. Furthermore, the Scriptures clearly show that the eons not only have a beginning but also an end. In Matthew 13:39, our common version reads, "The harvest is the endof the world." Here again the word translated "world" is aioon in the Greek. If our translators had been consistent they would have rendered "The harvest is the end of thefor ever!"
In 1 Corinthians 10:11, we read, "Upon whom the ends of the world are come." Here we: are informed that the "world" has more than one end! And let me call attention to the fact that the singular word "world" here, is a translation of the plural Greek word aioonoon. This should be conclusive evidence that the eons not only have an end, butmany ends, rather than none at all!
In Hebrews 9:26 we read, "For then must He often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself." The first word "world" in this quotation is correctly translated from the Greek kosmos, whereas the second one is translated from the plural aioonioon in the original, and proves that our translators have not been true nor consistent to the sacred text. Furthermore, we know that the "world" did not end when the Lord appeared, and neither did the eons, or ages, end. The word is plural in the Greek, and the latter part of the phrase, concordantly rendered, reads, "yet now, once, has He been manifested through His sacrifice, for the repudiation of sin at the conclusion of the eons."
This quotation is another positive proof that the eons have a conclusion, or "end," and therefore do not last "for ever." It also repudiates the assumptive theory of man that there is an infinite series of ages, for it speaks of the end of the eons.
V. In the fifth place, for all who insist on the eternality of the word aioon, we suggest that they give consideration to the following three test phrases from Holy Writ, and refrain from final conviction until they are able to explain the differences between them on such a supposition.
If the first phrase, ton aioona tou aioonos, singular in each instance, means "for ever and ever," consistently then, we must render the second phrase "forever and evers," and the third, "for evers and evers!" These phrases present an unanswerable proof that the eons are limited in extent and distinct in character, and were used by the Holy Spirit to convey truth relative to God's eonian purpose, of which our translators never dreamed. May He give us the grace not to impose on them that which is contrary to the Divine Author!
VI. The final argument we present is a comparison of the English expression "for ever" with "for ever and ever." A consideration of these expressions will cause any thinking person to see that something is wrong somewhere. If "for ever" carries its true significance--throughout eternity--then it is contrary to all laws of language, as well as reason, to add "and ever." We are aware of the far-fetched explanation, that it is an effort to express the superlative or infinitude of eternity. Such an explanation is so obviously superficial as to require no comment. It is as correct to say "blackest and blackest," "longest and longest," or "fartherest and fartherest," as to say "for ever and ever." It should be rendered "for the eons of the eons," the significance of which will be explained later.
In Revelation 22:13, God's eonian purpose, which He made in Christ Jesus, our Lord, is summed up as follows, "I am the A and the Z, the First and the Last, the Origin andthe Consummation." This should be final for all truth lovers, for this scripture not only tells us that Christ is the Origin of God's purpose of the eons, but that He also is the Z, the Last, the Consummation of that grand purpose. Therefore, this evidence shows conclusively that the eons not only have a beginning but a consummation. Christ is "the Beginning" and "the Consummation" of God's eonian purpose.
SYMMETRY OF THE EONS
All of God's handiwork is harmonious and symmetrical. Nature and revelation are both perfectly poised. If we have before us a chart but crudely representing the grand outlines of universal history, it must reveal its innate beauty and comeliness.
As stated before, the Scriptures speak of five eons in the eonian times, punctuated by four great physical and moral cataclysmic judgments. We wish, however, to press the fact that the cross, and the tragedy enacted there, is the crisis of all the eons. It stands in the very center of "the present wicked eon," which is bounded in the past by the Deluge and in the future by the Day of Wrath. "The days of the Son of Mankind" are but the antitype of the "days of Noah" (Matt.24:39). Between these two great judgments lie the eon in which we now live, characterized in Scripture as "the present wicked eon" (Gal.1:4). It is the central one of the five eons of the eonian times. Consult the chart of the Divine Calendar. It is the eon of human government. Man is given the right to rule over his fellow man. In this it is radically different from all the other eons. But man's misrule will eventually bring down the "day of wrath," making way for the coming of Christ, when the world kingdoms will become the kingdom of our Lord and His Messiah, and Israel will be made "a kingdom of priests," ruling and teaching the other nations in the knowledge of the glory of the Lord.
An eon farther on either side, we have the "disruption" (Gen.1:2) in the past and the "great white throne judgment" (Rev.20:11-15) in the future. These are also the boundaries of the present earth. In one case, water destroyed it, and in the other it will be transformed by fire (2 Peter 3:6,7).
Then going an eon farther on either side, we have the "beginning" in the past and the "consummation" of the future. The "beginning" inaugurates what the "consummation" concludes. These are the limits God has been pleased to reveal. Beyond, we cannot go. Thus we find the eons of the Scriptures symmetrically grouped and pivoted upon the cross. To it all things converge; from it all blessings flow.
The first and last eons correspond. In the dim past, the sons of God compassed its ruin (Gen.1:1). In the glorious future, the Son of God will restore all to more than pristine glory (Heb.1: 8).
The "second" and "fourth" eons are complementary. The failure of the first man, Adam, in the second eon will be retrieved by the Last Adam--Christ--in the fourth eon.
The Son of Mankind rules the fourth eon, while the fifth, or last, eon is under the sway of the "Son of God" (Heb.1:8).
The present, or central, eon, in contrast with what men say about the world getting better, is termed in the Scriptures "the present wicked eon" (Gal.1:4). It is the only one under human government, which was committed to Noah, when he came forth out of the ark at its beginning. The death penalty, delegated to man at that time for preserving righteousness and executing justice in the earth, leads to the most unjust act of all the eons--the murder of God's own Son! Yet His cross, standing in solitary sublimity in the very heart and center of all, becomes the background for the display of God's transcendent grace for effecting His grand eonian purpose.
DIVISIONS OF THE EONS
The five eons of the Scriptures are divided into two groups-- three and two. The first group comprises the first three eons, while the second group includes the last two eons. The last group is spoken of as "the on-coming eons" (Eph.2:7) and "the eons of the eons" (Gal.1:5; Phil.4:20; Rev.1:6; etc.). This phrase occurs many times.
The first eon of the last group is designated in the Scriptures as "the coming eon" (Mark 10:30; Luke 18:30). The second eon of the last group, which is the last eon of God's eonian purpose, is designated "the eon of the eon" (Heb.1:8) and "the eon of the eons" (Eph.3:21).
The precise use of the phrases "the eon of the eon," "the eon of the eons," and "the eons of the eons" in the Scriptures is proof of their inspiration and confounds the wisdom of man manifested in their confusing translations and inability to solve their significance. The key to their meaning lies in their grammatical form, which points to relation rather than eternality. "The eon of the eon" points to the relation of one eon to the antecedent one. "The eon of the eons" views one eon in relation to all the preceding eons. "The eons of the eons" speak of two eons in relation to the eons before them.
COMPARISON WITH TABERNACLE
"The tabernacle and temples are types of future spiritual realities, and indicate the way of access into the presence of a thrice holy God. The tabernacle typified the Pentecostal administration, recorded in the book of Acts. Solomon's sanctuary prefigured the Kingdom administration in the Lord's Day of the coming eon, while Ezekiel's temple points to the "administration of the complement of the eras" in the new earth in the day of God, where righteousness dwells. Yet their general arrangement does not change. Each has a court, a holy place, and a holiest of all. In their common system, we seem to have a type or illustration of the various worlds, or systems, and the corresponding eons of the Scriptures, which may be clearly apprehended through a study of the chart of the Divine Calendar.
"Indeed, the tabernacle is distinctly related to the cosmos, or world, for we read of a 'worldly sanctuary,' or holy place (Heb.9:1, AV). The same form of the phrase is used of the two holy places as we find in connection with the eons. Both together are called 'the holies of the holies' (Heb.9:25, literal). The inner shrine is called 'the holy of the holies' (Heb.9:3). They will serve not only to explain these phrases, but suggest a more intimate relation."
"The tabernacle and temple system divides the world of space into divisions which correspond in number and character to the worlds and eons. There are five in each and in the same order, which are marked with striking features of correspondence. Both give us the way to God, one for the individual sinner, the other for the race. All, of course, is confined to the terrestrial viewpoint, for no tabernacle or temple can possibly illustrate the immediate and unhindered access which characterizes the ministry of the conciliation and the grace of the present secret administration."
DIVISIONS OF THE TABERNACLE SYSTEM
"The five divisions essential to the tabernacle system are, (1) outside the camp, (2) within the camp, (3) the court, (4) the holy place, and (5) the holy of holies (the most holy place). These really divide into three and two for only the last two are in the tabernacle itself, and are called 'the holies of the holies,' just as the last two worlds, or eons, are distinguished by actual entrance into the sphere of God's presence, and are called 'the eons of the eons.'"
"Very little, indeed, is said about the world outside the camp. The same is true of the first eon. Like the vast stretches of space which surround the encampment of the favored people, lies the long vista of time which formed the first world and eon. Still there are suggestive hints which link them together. We are chosen in Christ before the disruption of the world (Eph.1:4), that is, in the first world and eon, for the disruption was at its close. See chart of the Divine Calendar. Our place is outside the camp of Israel. In space as well as in time, we are dealt with on quite distinct lines."
"The tabernacle and temple system never reaches back to the first eon. It is always from the disruption (translated "foundation" in our King James Bible). So it had no jurisdiction beyond the confines of the camp. It is essentially, in both time and space, an eclectic, exclusive, limited arrangement, just as Israel's place in the eonian times."
"The second world and eon, from the 'disruption' to the 'flood,' is the scene of sin, with no means of covering or cleansing. So the camp was peopled with sinners whose only recourse was to go through it into the sacred enclosure, if they wished to approach God or settle for their sins."
"The third, or central, division is the court of the tabernacle, which is certainly most suggestive of the present world and eon. The brazen altar, that supreme type of the death of Christ, reminds us that this present world and eon has been hallowed by the great Sacrifice, which also makes it possible to enter into the holy places beyond. In this eon, wicked as it is, is the true Laver for the cleansing of all defilement. True, the full effect of the altar and laver have not yet been felt, but that is because we have not as yet entered into the holy places. These figure the future worlds and eons."
"The glory of God is not revealed in the court, but is behind a curtain and coverings. Neither has God revealed His glory to this world, or eon. But in the millennial era, the kingdom administration in the coming eon, there will be at least a partial revelation of His magnificence. The furniture of the holy place, the lampstand, the table of show bread, and the golden altar, are all beautifully typical of Christ Himself in that eon, and of the portion which will be enjoyed by the saints of that blessed day."
"There will be light--divine light--quite the opposite of the present, when dense darkness covers the earth, and men know no light except that of the sun. The knowledge of God will fill the hearts of His people and cover the earth. Such is the suggestion of the seven-branched lampstand in the holy place."
"The table with its twelve cakes, or loaves, of bread are also most unlike the present with all its divisions and lack of spiritual sustenance. Then the united nation of Israel will enjoy God's provision in His presence."
"The golden altar of worship will waft its sweet incense aloft throughout that eon of blessing, such as never before had been known. The psalms of praise will find their full expression when David's greater Son rules and presides as the great Priest of His people."
"The 'holy place' is not the holiest of all. There is still another curtain which hides such majesty as is reserved for the very highest manifestation of God in this system. The same is true of the corresponding eon. The millennium, or "the coming eon" (or "world to come") is by no means the last of the eons or the most glorious. That is true of the next, the last eon, in the day of God. And the most notable feature of that surpassing era is the presence God Himself, just as it is the crowning glory of 'the holy of the holies' in the tabernacle and the temple."
"The path into the presence of God is the common object of thought in the arrangement of the eons and the tabernacle type. The distinction between them is like the difference between the titles Elohim and Jehovah. One deals with the problem from the standpoint of time, and the other sees it in space. Jehovah is the eonian God. He made the eons, the highway of time leading the race into the presence of the Shekinah. Elohim arranges a perceptible, material system with the tabernacle structure at its center, to teach the same truth. No marvel that there is so notable a correspondence between them!
A SOLUTION OF THE "EVERS"
A very important lesson may be learned from the terms used to describe the 'holy places.' When dealing with the eons, we are often told that 'the eons of the eons' is an effort to express infinity, 'ages tumbling on ages,' 'ages on ages,' etc. But if we will transfer these expressions from time to space, we may more readily see how little ground there is for such explanations. 'The holies of the holies' is not to be understood as 'holies tumbling on holies,' but holy places made preeminently holy in relation to other holy places. All inside the court was holy; but the two places inside the building were 'holies of the holies'--the most holy of all."
"The holy of the holies" is commonly and correctly understood as a single holy place. Why should not 'the eon of the eons' be a single eon? The preeminence of the 'holy of the holies' lies in its relation to the other holy places. So the preeminence of the 'eon of the eons' lies in its being the fruitage and harvest of the preceding eons. The confusing translations and expositions which hide the truth on the eons from us would never be tolerated if they were applied to such tangible objects as the tabernacle and temple."
"We read that the chief priest entered into 'the holies of the holies' (Heb.9:25). Most manuscripts read simply 'the holies,' or holy places. Only the editor of the Sinaiticus manuscript preserves this reading. So unusual and difficult a reading might easily be dropped, so that very, little evidence is needed to establish it. When we compare this phrase with the parallel one of the eons-- 'the eons of the eons'--we cannot but be struck with its aptness. Just as the last two eons are 'of the eons,' so the two holy places are 'of the holies.' 'They are the most hallowed of all the holy places, among which we certainly must include the court, if not the camp, which had a measure of sanctity, certain sacrifices concerned with sin being burned outside its precincts." (Excerpts from A. E. K. in U. R., Sept.1916).
Having suggested the scriptural teaching of the eons, we now turn our attention to the administrations (usually termed dispensations). These must not be confused with the eons which we have been studying. Many of the larger works on "dispensational truth" confuse the two in spite of the fact that according to the Scriptures, an eon may contain one or more administrations. This may be observed by considering the outlines of the Divine Calendar chart. Let me urge that the Divine Author differentiated them by using different words in the original to express the two ideas. May He give us the grace and reverence to heed in our study what has been written.
AN ADMINISTRATION DEFINED
We learned the original significance of the Greek word for "eon" through its usage and the vocabulary system, so let us proceed similarly in our investigation of the Greek word for administration (dispensation). The original word is oikonomia, and naturally separates into two elements, which, with their standard English equivalents, may be illustrated thus:
Original Greek word: oikonomia Separated in Elements: oiko-nomia English STANDARD equivalent: HOME-LAW
This expression, HOME-LAW, gives us a very suggestive conception of the purpose of God, especially when viewed in relation to the home and the rearing of children. The purpose of the home is to begin with children in their innocence and, by systematic teaching and training, to nurture them in knowledge and wisdom to maturity of manhood and womanhood. And thus God does also, in administering His grand purpose of the cons. He begins with mankind in innocence, and the consummation is when men shall have attained maturity and full assurance in all His will. This is in accord with the following scripture:
"It is written in the prophets, 'And they shall all be taught of God.' Every one, then, who hears from the Father and is learning the truth is coming to Me" (John 6:45).
"And He, indeed, it is, Who gives the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers for the readjusting of the saints, with a view to the work of dispensing, for the upbuilding of the body of Christ, until we should all attain to the unity of faith, and the realization of a son of God, to mature manhood, to theadult stature of Christ's complement" (Eph.4:11-13).
Again we read:
"Whom we are announcing, admonishing every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, in order that we should present every man mature in Christ Jesus" (Col.1:28).
From all this we may understand that oikonomia, HOME-LAW, includes the thought of dispensing, but is not confined to giving, or dispensing. Its full significance is found in the words "economy," "administration," or "stewardship," and has to do with dispensing, announcing, admonishing, and teaching in order that every one may be presentedmature in Christ Jesus--the desired end, relative to God's eonian purpose.
The Scriptures reveal that God is administering the affairs of His eonian purpose in a series of twelve distinct administrations. They may be called Innocence, Conscience, Government, Promise, Law, Incarnation, Pentecostal, Transitional, Secret, Indignation, Justice, and Love--the administration of the complement of the eras. Each begins with a dispensation and almost all end in judgment. However, the important lesson I wish to impress on the hearts of my readers is, that God's school of knowledge and wisdom is orderly and progressive from the beginning to the consummation. And the sooner the saints of God realize this truth and "leave the rudiments of the word of Christ" and press on to maturity, the sooner will their lives be filled with praise and thanksgiving in the realization and full assurance in all His will.
THE GLORY OF THE CROSS
In conclusion, let me again point out the Cross as the crisis of God's eonian purpose. It is the fulcrum upon which the eleven administrations balance and find fulfillment. Surrounding it, we have that central administration--the Incarnation--Christ's presence upon earth. That life He lived, that death He died, create a unique administration, round which all the others cluster.
Before it came the administration of Law, and after it came the law's counterpart, the Pentecostal administration. In both, unbelief and zeal for law keep the blessing from them--as their fathers did, thus do they.
Beyond this, on either side, is the administration of Promise, and Paul's separation in the Transitional administration. The Promise to Abraham for faith is made good to the believing Israelites and the nations in this transitional era.
Still farther on either side, we have the administration of Government committed to Noah, and Paul's imprisonment for the present Secret administration (Eph.3:1-12). The former was before Israel's day, and the latter is after Israel has been set aside at the close of the book of Acts. Both deal with the nations and in each man is making a name for himself.
Beyond these in either direction we find the administration of Conscience and Indignation. These are characterized by the two great judgments, the Flood and the Day of Wrath. In each, malignant heavenly hosts take a very prominent part and are finally imprisoned to restrain them from further evil. "As it was in the days of Noah so shall it be in the days of the Son of Mankind," suggests very fully what is to be.
One more administration farther on either side is Innocence and Justice. Both are blessed with the curse removed, and a man at the head of all creation. The failure of the first man in Innocence is gloriously retrieved by the Second Man in the administration of Justice, when all dominion will be subject to His just rule, and "the knowledge of the glory of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters form a covering to the sea."
Another eon on either side brings us to the primal creation of "the Beginning" and the new creation of the last eon, the "administration of the complement of the eras" preparatory for the Consummation. In the former, when the "corner stone" of earth's foundations were laid, "the morning stars sang together, and the sons of God shouted for joy" (Job 38:6,7), while in the latter, the Son of God is supreme, reigning in the power of love until all delegated dominion gives way to its perfect sway, and the death state is abolished as the last enemy, all are made alive in Christ, in that kingdom of the Father to which there is no consummation. "Now, whenever the universe may be subject to Him, then the Son Himself also shall be subject to Him Who subjects the universe to Him, that God may be All in all" (1 Cor.15:28).