August 02, 2006
PLAINER WORDS …PAUL’S LAST WORDS
The last words of great and wise men should certainly be heeded. The wisdom of the aged should be listened to, passed on to future generations, and acted upon. The shame is that most men are not inclined to pay attention to the counsels of elder statesmen or men of God.
We could mention the farewell advice given Americans by George Washington, this country’s first President, when he warned; “Beware of foreign entanglements.”
Or, Thomas Jefferson’s admonition; “That government that governs least governs best,” as well as, “Bind the politicians down with the chains of the constitution.”
Or, Dwight W. Eisenhower’s wise counsel in his farewell address, in 1961, when he stated that “war is the biggest business in America.” Then, he warned that we should beware of the powerful “military industrial complex.”
By our government’s actions, it might as well have thrown the documents on the ground and stomped on them.
However, we will not belabor the fact that counselors of the past have been relegated to the limbo as far as men heeding their wise advice. But regrettably, we must point out how Christians have refused to follow through on the last gracious command given to us by the Apostle to the Gentiles—Paul, the aged.
In Paul’s Last Will and Testament, 2 Timothy, he makes the case for “the man of God” to preach the Word, be prepared to do so anytime because Christians will get to the point that they will not endure sound doctrine. Paul even spells out what Christians should be reminded of in time of apostasy.
The question arises as to why Christians ignore Paul’s “charge” for-last-day-believers? Is it their unbelief? Are they fearful of adversaries? Have they been side-tracked by teachers who are entangled in the admixture of truth and error? Are the eyes of their understanding clouded with spiritual cataracts? Or, could it be that many just don’t understand?
Paul’s last “charge” (2 Timothy 4:1) concerns one of the most momentous passages of Scripture as it relates to a future judgment. This judgment is one which is misunderstood to such an extent that it is almost totally ignored. We have checked the following Christian works and found that they are virtually silent on this major subject; New Unger’s Dictionary, Smith’s Bible Dictionary, International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Nelson’s Bible Dictionary, Chafer’s Systematic Theology, Scofield Reference Bible, The Companion Bible, and Adam Clarke’s Commentary, as well as Matthew Henry’s Commentary. They all mention various judgments, at various times, relating to various people and places. But, none addresses this one.
“I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;” (2 Timothy 4:1).
Whatever the reason is the good news of the “Kingdom Judgment” is not preached, taught, or proclaimed today. It is avoided like the plague. We are convinced that because of the dispensational ideas which men have constructed, there can be found no place for the “Kingdom Judgment” of 2 Timothy 4:1 to fit. For the most part, Dispensationalists have laid a foundation for dispensational truth in which there is no room for Christ “to judge the quick and the dead” because they have not factored in “His appearing and His kingdom.” Therefore, most “right dividers” make “His appearing” (Epiphaneia) to be “His coming” or “the rapture,” by referring to 2 Timothy 4:1 as meaning; “Christ will appear the second time at His Coming (Parousia).” However, they are very embarrassed by this verse because of the “universal judgment” of mankind.
After the Apostle Paul told Timothy that the Scripture completely equips the “man of God” for “every good work” (2 Timothy 3:17), he charges Timothy with the good work described in 2 Timothy 4:1-2.
“Therefore,” Timothy is charged to do a good work (2 Timothy 4:1). Looking at the word, “charge,” we find it to carry with it the idea of “an order, injunction, mandate, or a command.” Also, “that which is enjoined, committed, entrusted or delivered to another, implying care, custody, oversight, or duty to be performed by the person entrusted” (Webster’s Dictionary of 1828). In plainer words, Timothy was given the “duty” to preach the Word because of the fact that Christ Jesus was about to be judging the quick and the dead. Since the judging hasn’t yet begun, we believe that this “duty” (i.e. charge) has passed on to every succeeding member of the Church over which Christ Jesus is the Head. As it is said today; “The ball is in our court.”
Here, we read that Jesus Christ “shall judge the quick and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom.” The word, “judge,” does not mean fixing the final destiny of either the living or the dead. The word, “judge,” is krino which means “to decide; to choose; to decree; to pronounce an opinion concerning right or wrong; or the weighing of evidence (Thayer’s). A more meaningful English word for this act of Jesus Christ judging the “quick and the dead” is to adjudicate (to make a formal decision about a matter).
By means of adjudication, the Lord Jesus determines who will live under His Godly rule of the world. The utterly amazing truth is that He has the ability to bring the entire life of all men in review before Him, one by one, and instantaneously adjudge them as worthy, or unworthy, to live during the Kingdom of God. Jesus Christ, the righteous Judge, will first review the life of every living human being at the time. Then, He will do the same for all of the dead, beginning with Adam up to the time of the adjudication. This is the glorious truth which Christendom ignores. Since there is no past or future with God, He can, at any time He chooses, see our entire lives as a present fact. He will do this when the Kingdom comes with all of its concomitant events.
Many of us have the wrong view of what “to judge” means in the Bible. Usually, the first thing that comes to mind is “to condemn.” We get the idea from the American judicial system where trials are generally made before a jury, and when a jury reaches a verdict, the judge issues the sentence. Biblical judges are based upon the Hebrew concept of a judge. In fact, the Book of Judges demonstrates what a judge is in the Biblical sense: he sets things right that are wrong, and then rules. This fits the Hebrew word, shaphat; to judge, to govern, to rule, to reason. It is closely associated with the Hebrew word, diyn, which also relates to “judge.” It’s translated “judgment” in Daniel 4:37:
“Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment (diyn): and those that walk in pride he is able to abase” (Daniel 4:37).
“Judgment” translated from diyn, according A. E. Knoch and others, is best understood as “adjudicated.” Daniel 4:37 could be comprehend as; “…and His ways adjudicated,” which is a much broader and wider thought than just “judgment.” “His ways judgment” doesn’t really make sense. “Adjudicate” is to “adjudge” which means “to make a formal decision after considering the matter.” So, Daniel 4:37 could be understood as:
“Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways are adjudicated (diyn): and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.”
God’s future “judgments” are really His adjudications when He corrects all of the wrongs of the world by making things right—and then rules. The word “judge” in 2 Timothy 4:1 is “krino,” meaning to decide (mentally or judicially), hence to adjudicate; “to pick out, select, to choose, to determine, decree, to pronounce an opinion concerning right or wrong, based on weighing the evidence; to rule or govern” (Thayer’s). The true significance of the word, judge, in both the Old, as well as, the New Testament, is set right what is wrong—and then rule. This would be the act of adjudicating.
A close observation of 2 Timothy 4:1 discloses that Christ doesn’t raise the dead and then adjudicate them as He will do at the Great White Throne Judgment. Therefore, the “Kingdom Judgment” will not fit into Revelation 20:11-15. Neither is there a fit in I Thessalonians 4:14-18. As far as the dead are concerned He only considers those who “are asleep in Jesus;” not all of the dead, small and great. The “Kingdom Judgment” can not find a place of realization in 1 Corinthians 15:51-53 because, here, resurrections are accomplished in “the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet”—no consideration is to be given to those who were not raised at the appearing and kingdom because they are those who will not live again until the thousand years has expired (Revelation 20:5). The resurrected ones of 1 Corinthians 15:51-53 are to be the martyrs of the Tribulation period.
THE INAUGURATION OF THE KINGDOM
On January 20th every four years, a president-elect of the United States takes the oath of office and this begins his term of office. As the coronation is the beginning of the reign of a king, so is the Epiphaneia the beginning of the Reign of Jesus Christ in the earth. This is the inauguration of our Lord Jesus Christ as King of kings, and so begins the long awaited Kingdom in which He governs from Heaven.
The “perilous times” (2 Timothy 3:1) during the “last days” of the Mystery end when, suddenly, Jesus Christ intervenes in the affairs of the world and establishes His rule and reign. His intervention in the Greek language is an “epiphaneia.” The Greek speaking world used the word when they believed the gods suddenly intervened in the world on their behalf. When Christ intervenes, it is on behalf of mankind, and is truly an Epiphaneia. His intervention ushers in the “restitution of all things” (Acts 3:21), and the establishment of His Government in the earth, thus, suddenly and dramatically ending the “perilous times.”
The way Biblical truth unfolds the words “epiphaneia” and “basileia,” are intimately bound together. When the word, “appearing” (epiphaneia), occurs one should connect it with “kingdom” (basileia). “Epiphaneia” is Strong’s Number 2015.
“I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;” (2 Timothy 4:1)
“Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing [and kingdom]” (2 Timothy 4:8)
“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing [and kingdom] of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;” (Titus 2:13)
“That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing [and kingdom] of our Lord Jesus Christ:” (1 Timothy 6:14)
It is as if the time arrives in the “last days” of this dispensation when the world appears that it cannot survive the “perilous times” which has engulfed the world systems, that our Lord Jesus Christ makes a miraculous intervention into world affairs—thus saving the world from what would seem to be virtual annihilation. This intervention will be His “Epiphaneia” and His Kingdom. Thus, Christ will exercise His office as Savior of the World (1 John 4:14). Therefore, believers …
“Preach the word [about the Appearing and Kingdom]; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:2).
We are to do this even if no one listens or responds. If we do, then we have discharged our duty—the Lord Jesus Christ is responsible for the results. The consequences are His.
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;” (2 Timothy 4:3).
Tom L. Ballinger