Before we look further into translation issues and contextual examinations relating to the fire of God and His judgments, let's take a look at some verses that present an alternate view about the completion of God's purpose in creation and what it entails. These verses are just some of the verses that indicate that God may have a broader plan that spans a broader time than we have previously taught in popular Christianity.
For God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all. Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR? Or WHO HAS FIRST GIVEN TO HIM THAT IT MIGHT BE PAID BACK TO HIM AGAIN? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen. Romans 11:32-36 NASB
This portion of scripture makes an interesting statement following Paul's discourse on the destiny of the nation Israel. In it Paul states that even though Israel is an "enemy" of the gospel, they are beloved for the sake of the fore-fathers because, "the gifts and callings of God are without repentance". Paul goes so far as to say, "therefore all Israel shall be saved". In the event someone has a problem with this Paul explains that God has shut up ALL in disobedience so that He may show mercy to ALL. In case anyone has a problem with that Paul expounds upon the depths of God's wisdom and ways. Will you tell God how He should conclude His plan based on your religious catechisms? Does your orthodoxy prevent His predestined mercies? What does God owe anyone that He should ask permission to do as He wills? The conclusion being? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things! Glory be to Him for it throughout all ages and beyond! How is it that Israel can be an enemy of the gospel in this age, but beloved of God and destined for ultimate salvation?
This may seem a great mystery, but God has revealed the mystery through the gospel of Jesus Christ to all those who believe, as we read in Ephesians.
He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up(gathering together into oneKJV) of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. Eph 1:9-12 NASB
Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth.
Paul declares God's purpose to be a "kind intention" (eudokia-good will, kind desire) that must be viewed as "an administration" (oikonomia- economy, dispensation)of the "fulness"(pleroma-completion or satisfaction) of "times" (kairos-set or appointed times). This administration is the "summing up"(anakephalaiomai-gathering into one) of "all things" (pas- all inclusive, everything) in Christ. This "all" includes everything in heaven and in earth. Paul concludes the thought in a similar fashion to Romans 11:36 (for from Him and through Him and to Him are all things)- "having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things according to His will". Even as God has chosen Israel -ordaining their partial hardening will mean mercy to the Gentiles, "until the fulness of the Gentiles has come in". So also, in this age, He has chosen the church to demonstrate His wisdom to the principalities and powers, to make Israel jealous and to carry the"good news" of the "restitution of all things", including a future time after the return of Christ when, "all Israel shall be saved". As Ephesians progresses Paul speaks about "ages to come", and we shall look at those things later. For now, lets look at what Paul is speaking about when He says that God's purpose is the "summing up" of "all things" in Christ. I have heard many people(including myself) say, "Well, it doesn't really mean "all" things, like as in every single thing- but, please, let's look at this from a scriptural perspective. Paul clearly defines "all things" in his epistle to the Colossian church. The Greek word "pas" means "all"; "everything"- according to Strong's, all inclusive.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all(pas) creation. For by Him all things(pas) were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things(pas) have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things(pas), and in Him all things(pas) hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything(pas). For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all(pas) the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things(pas) to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. Colossians 1:15-20 NASB
The word pas is an all inclusive word. The only way to modify pas is to couple it with a sub-category like, "all the figs in the basket" . This is a particular subset of figs and it is defined by all(pas) as in "every single one and all together" of the figs in the basket. If you were to say "all figs", eliminating the descriptive subset, in a statement such as "all figs have seeds" or "all figs grow on trees" the word pas means every single fig and all figs together inclusively without exception. Paul uses this kind of terminology in Romans 11:36, Ephesians1:9-11 and many other places we will examine, but in Colossians chapter one he really gets comprehensive in explaining what the "all" includes and how it is "gathered into one in Christ". Paul clearly states that the all includes:
All things He created in heaven and earth. (repeating the Romans 11:36 injunction that all things are created "through Him and for Him.") We know from John 1:1-10 and Hebrews 1:1-3 that nothing came into being that was not made by Him and that God created "all things "through Jesus Christ".
All things that He is before. We know from John chapter 1 that He was in the beginning with God. Since He created all things He must therefore be before everything that was ever made.
All things that "hold together in Him". We know from Hebrews chapter 1 that "all things hold together by the power of His word".
All things over which He has the "first place"(preeminence). We know from Ephesians 4:10 that, "He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things." Here "might fill" is one word, "pleroo" the verb form of "pleroma" from Ephesians Chapter one- it means "make replete" or "complete" or "satisfy".
For so it pleased(eudokia- the same word from Ephesians 1:9) the Father to make "all fulness" or, "pas pleroma", dwell in Him........and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.
Paul is emphatic and thorough here . No reasonable mind can evade the conclusion that whatever Paul means by reconciliation- it will be completed in "all things" though the propitiatory sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. As it is written in 1 John2:1,2
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole(holos-entire, altogether, every whit- Strong's)world(kosmos).
kosmos (A) The universe, heavens and earth (Mat_13:35; Mat_24:21; Luk_11:50; Joh_17:5, Joh_17:24; Act_17:24; Rom_1:20; Heb_4:3). Metonym for the inhabitants of the universe (1Co_4:9). Figuratively and symbolically, a world of something, as an aggregate such as in Jas_3:6, "a world of iniquity" (cf. Sept.: Pro_17:6). Strong's
How shall this reconciliation of all take place?
For it was the Father's good pleasure(eudokeo) for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.
It is an administration suitable to the completion of times, a gathering into one in Christ of "all things".
It is a part of the glory that awaits us in the "ages to come", who are predestined according to the purpose of Him who causes all things to work according to the counsel of His will.
(Eph 2:1-7) And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
Looking forward to what awaits us in these ages to come, Paul writes to the Corinthian believers
.....but we speak God's wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; but just as it is written, "THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD, AND which HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN, ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM." For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.
Even as Paul spoke to the Ephesians, "He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His kind intention....", He speaks to the Corinthians of the "hidden wisdom predestined before the ages". Yet, He has revealed them to us by the Spirit in 1 Corinthians, and likewise Paul prays for the Ephesians:
.... that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.
Jesus has ascended so that He might "fill all things" (Eph 4:10)
Paul explains this to the Corinthians in the following verses:
For as in Adam all(pas) die, so also in Christ all(pas) will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at His coming, then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death. For HE HAS PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS FEET. But when He says, "All things are put in subjection," it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him. When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all.
Here again we see that Paul pointedly declares that "even as all died, all shall be made alive". Then He speaks of the order- an"administration suitable to the fulness of times"- which he proceeds to draw on plain paper. Jesus will reign until every enemy(pas) is subjected. Then Paul says He will deliver all things in subjection to Him, every enemy, to the Father- SO THAT GOD MAY BE ALL IN ALL. This "all things" clearly includes the enemies of God, who are subjected for the purpose of becoming a part of "the all" in which God is "all in all" in. Now we are getting closer to a point where we can return to our original topic, and look at the "fire of God"- how it works, when and why.
“Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time. Acts 3:19-20