1 Corinthians 15:20-28... But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all 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.
"For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive..."
These words are of immense importance. Some people will say, "All doesn't mean all as in everyone ever". We will examine that further, or you might want to go to the page, ALL IN ALL, where the word ALL is examined from several portions of scripture, especially Colossians Chapter 1:16-20.
If we examine the biblical concept of "ages", "ages past" and "ages to come"- we move from the "beginning" (the foundation of the kosmos and the ages) to "the end" or "completion of times"(Eph 1:10).
"By faith we know that the worlds(aions/ages) were created by the word of God".
This is spoken of by Paul in several places in Ephesians alone, especially in his description of the "kind intention" of the Father in Ephesians chapter 1- an "administration suitable to the fulness(pleroma- completion) of times(periods), the summing up of all things in Christ whether things on earth or things in heaven". This kind intention is further explained in many places- notably in 1 Corinthians 15, as referenced above; in Acts 3:19(the period of the restoration of all things spoken of by all the prophets since the world began); in Romans 11:28-36 (For all Israel will be saved. For God has shut up all men in disobedience that He might have mercy upon all....For from Him and through Him and To Him are all things....); and in Ephesians 2:7....(so that in the AGES TO COME He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus).
Of ages past and ages to come many things can and will be said, but right now we are looking at THE END OF ALL THINGS. The question being, "What do the scriptures teach about the ultimate fulfillment of God's plan".
Almost all Christians believe that at some point every enemy of God will be subdued. Most believe that these enemies will live in continuing torment forever. Some believe that they will be utterly consumed and become as if they never were in the lake of fire. Others believe that when all of of God's plan is fulfilled, all of God's creatures will have been redeemed. Let's look at a few verses that could be presented in that light.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.
In Ephesians 2:7 Paul speaks of the manifold kindness of God that will be revealed in us(believers) in the ages to come. Could this "setting free from slavery" be the function of our priesthood?
Consider our own high priest who sacrificed Himself for the "sins of the world". "For God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself and He has entrusted us with the WORD OF RECONCILIATION". The priesthood for which we who believe are being trained in this life is one that may continue in the "ages to come".
Rev 20:6 Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.
There will yet be enemies to subdue in the age to come. Jesus said blasphemy of the Holy Spirit would not be forgiven in this age or in the age to come. There will still be blasphemers in the age to come, "For He will rule the nations with a rod of iron..." 1 Corinthians 15 tells us that "the last enemy to be subdued" will be death. When death is subdued there will be no more enemies. If there are no more enemies, then how will most of His creation be agonizing in flames of tormenting fire or freezing in outer darkness? Certainly anyone being treated in such a way would be categorized as an enemy! This, at least, argues against eternal torment and in favor of ultimate reconciliation or the utter destruction of the wicked.
Yet, if the scriptures are true, the utter destruction of the wicked is not possible. It says in 1 Cor 15:28, when all the aversaries are subjected unto him, "He will return ALL THINGS to the Father, that God may be ALL IN ALL." This, if you read it, clearly refers to the subdued ENEMIES OF GOD- as it is written in Romans11:26, "For from Him and Through Him and To Him are ALL THINGS."
He will subject them to Himself in the same way He has subjected us, subjecting them into His love.
"And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach--"(Colossians 1:22)
This puts Phillipians 2:10 into an entirely new perspective.
"For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."(Php 2:9-11)
This also brings a new perspective to Revelations 5:13
And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, "To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever." (eis aion aion)
This seems to be the plan of God from the beginning, "an administration suitable to the completion of time,the gathering together into one of all things in Christ, whether, I say, things in heaven or things on earth".
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 of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance(sons & priests), having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will,
God causes all things to work according to the counsel of His will. The mystery of His will is the "kind intention" He purposed in Him(Christ). The goal of that "administration suitable to the fulness of times", the "END OF ALL THINGS", is that the whole creation will be redeemed from a futility it was subjected to in HOPE- according to the plan of God. The mystery is that LOVE CONQUERS ALL. In the end, God will be ALL IN ALL- even within those who were once His enemies, AMONG WHOM WE ALSO ONCE WERE- "For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God".
"For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now....Romans 8:20-22
God was not "caught off guard" by the fall. ALL THINGS WORK ACCORDING TO THE COUNSEL OF HIS WILL. The Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world. God's complete revelation to man is the beauty of EVERY WILL WON TO GOD BY THE LOVE OF CHRIST.
"If I be lifted up I will draw all men unto me."
Paul defines ALL quite clearly in his letter to the Colossians.
"And He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things 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. For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and THROUGH HIM(JESUS) TO RECONCILE ALL THINGS TO HIMSELF(YHWH), having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach--
Yes, though you were formerly an adversary, you have been subdued by His love- the light of it driving all the darkness out of you, the fire of it burning all that will not yield to love and joy and peace. In the ages to come, if you overcome(believe until the end), you will be a part of the "restoration of all things" for which the entire creation groans, anxiously awaiting for it to come through the revelation of children of God. This is part and parcel with the blessed hope, that incorporate with the resurrection of the eclessia of God is the redemption and restoration of the whole creation- every created being.
"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.
This is the end of all things- the fulfillment of all God's plan. It is revealed to those who can see the mystery opened, we upon whom the ends of the age have come. This is the fulfillment of all that is written and all of God's creative work through the ages, summed up in Christ Jesus, gathered into Himself until He, God, is ALL IN ALL.
"Come sit thou at my right hand until I make your adversaries a footstool for your feet!"
This is the gospel(GOOD NEWS) as declared by angels to shepherds upon the birth of the Messiah
Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people(pas laos). (Luk 2:10)
This is the gospel(GOOD NEWS), as proclaimed in the revelation by Jesus Himself.........
BEHOLD(See, Receive, Understand),
I MAKE ALL THINGS NEW!