Question: Hebrews 6.5 – Of the Age to Come

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Here is a question left on the blog recently:

Hebrews 6:5 – the writer speaks of the age to come. In the same book (8:13) he speaks of the first Covenant ABOUT to disappear/pass away. Yet, there is internal evidence in the book itself that the great symbol (the temple) of the first Covenant was still standing when these words were written ( Hebrews 10:11) NASB, NIV, RSV, ESV. It was not until 40 years after Jesus’ promise (Matthew 24:2) that there were no more sacrifices and offerings made by ministering/standing Priests.

Also, if the entire New Testament was written before the destruction of the temple – then we have no other scriptural reference or proof text that the ‘ age to come ‘ Hebrews 6:5 or Paul’s written words in Ephesians 3:21 ‘ all generations ‘ ‘ age without end ‘ speak of anything but this present New Covenant, as lasting forever and ever. Would this not negate a belief in an end of this age or the consummation of history?

I’ve spent some time pondering this verse:

NAU  Hebrews 6:5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come,

NLT  Hebrews 6:5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come–

NRS  Hebrews 6:5 and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come,

First, I cannot say that the entire NT was written before the destruction of the Temple. Mark may have been, but only by a year or two, but John’s Gospel and the Book of Revelation are way past the Destruction of the Temple. Even Acts seems to be dated after the Destruction.

The issue with the New Covenant lasting forever and ever is this:

Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life. But there is an order to this resurrection: Christ was raised as the first of the harvest; then all who belong to Christ will be raised when he comes back. After that the end will come, when he will turn the Kingdom over to God the Father, having destroyed every ruler and authority and power.

For Christ must reign until he humbles all his enemies beneath his feet. And the last enemy to be destroyed is death. For the Scriptures say, “God has put all things under his authority.” (Of course, when it says “all things are under his authority,” that does not include God himself, who gave Christ his authority.) Then, when all things are under his authority, the Son will put himself under God’s authority, so that God, who gave his Son authority over all things, will be utterly supreme over everything everywhere. (1Co 15:22-28 NLT)

Further, I think that the (re)New(ed) Covenant was inaugurated upon the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. I also believe that the Temple’s curtain in schism meant that it was no longer valid/needed. Maybe ‘needed’ is a better word here. Therefor the destruction of it, theologically speaking, was mute.

I think that the ‘age to come’ may in fact mean this age and be another way of describing to the Hebrews the current movement. For example, if we were to refer to the Eschaton coming and while in the Eschaton, we stand saying ‘the power of the coming Eschaton.’ Or, better, as the Keener and company write,

Most of Judaism regarded the present age as under sin, but believed that God would rule the coming age unchallenged, after he raised the dead and judged them. Christians recognized that they had begun to experience the life of the future world; they were the vanguard of the future kingdom – Craig S. Keener and InterVarsity Press, The IVP Bible Background Commentary : New Testament, Heb 6:5 (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1993).

Yup, what they said. In other words, I think that the writer of Hebrews is saying that this Christian age is the promised ‘age to come’.

I could be wrong, however. So, I open the question up to you. What sayeth ye?

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Post By Joel Watts (10,056 Posts)

Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

Website: → Unsettled Christianity

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5 thoughts on Question: Hebrews 6.5 – Of the Age to Come

  1. Some VERY good thoughts in this post, Joel.

    ” Further, I think that the (re)New(ed) Covenant was inaugurated upon the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. I also believe that the Temple’s curtain in schism meant that it was no longer valid/needed. Maybe ‘needed’ is a better word here. Therefor the destruction of it, theologically speaking, was mute.”

    One thing, maybe of no real value in the overall discussion of the age to come. However, dating the NT writings – John 5:2 REB, and others, indicate (internal evidence) that this Gospel was written while the temple yet stood. For there ‘ IS ‘ no sheep gate near the pool called Bethesda, after the destruction of the temple in AD70.

    Thank you for your thoughts, Joel!

  2. hebrews 3:1 calls JESUS a apostle yet HE walked pefectly in the law or fulfilled the law.Apostle is a new covenant office. hebrews 6:5 seems to sugest being able to use power from another time period,age,or covenant. JESUS while finishing one age seemed to be able to operate in the power of a apostle[hence ; the power of the age to come] so are we able to operate in the power of the millenial age?

  3. It’s unfortuanate for us 21st century Christians that we push away the Jewishness of the N.T. writers. Pehaps we’d have a better understanding of what they meant when they wrote about the ‘olam-haba , the world to come, also called the age to come. To the Jew it is the time of the rule of the Messiah. To the Jew who wrote Hebrews, we are in ‘Olam-haba.

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