Eternal Hope – Part 47

Eternal Hope – Part 47

September 2012

Dear Co-Laborer,

Eternal Hope
Part 47


The following words of Jesus call attention to His judging people on the basis of their works: “And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward… The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear… For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works… And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen.”[1]

Either the individual experiences these consequences in this life or in the life to come. (The Bible teaches, as illustrated in the book of Job, that people do not necessarily reap what they sow in this life.) If in the life to come, they are either the requirement for entering heaven, or the basis for determining the quality of eternity. Since the New Testament clearly teaches that God grants salvation as a gift of His grace, we must conclude that when Jesus talks about being judged by our works, He has in mind the quality of our eternity in heaven.

Our eternal hope, therefore, includes not only the promise of heaven, but also the promise that our works in this life will influence the quality of our life after death.

Reflections on 1 John

This epistle begins similarly to the Gospel of John; we are introduced to the Word, “For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us… he that doeth the will of God abideth forever… And this is the promise that He hath promised us, even eternal life… Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.”[2]

In this we see that John connects eternal life with the Son; those who abide in Christ live eternally with Christ: “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God… we are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.”[3]

So too, those that live lives of unrighteousness live eternally without Christ: “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.”[4] If a person wishes to be confident at the Day of Judgment, he must love his brother: “Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.”[5]

The substitutionary death of Christ, although mute in his gospel, finds prominence in his first epistle: “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin… And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”[6] Again, John says, “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”[7]

John sees Jesus’ return as imminent. Many antichrists[8] may sow their heretical messages, but “…little children, abide in Him; that, when He shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.”[9]

Reflections on 2 John

This short epistle is devoted to the importance of walking in the truth. (He uses the word “truth” four times in the first three verses.) Thus, he says, “For the truth’s sake, which dwelleth in us, and shall be with us for ever,”[10] that is, the truth of which John speaks is that Truth which shall abide as we move from this life to the life to come. The degree to which the believer walks in the Truth, he gains an eternal reward: “Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.”[11]

As far as I can tell, he makes no reference to the propitious death of Christ as payment for our sins.

Reflections on 3 John

Like 2John, the author emphasizes the importance of truth, referencing it four times in the first four verses, and a total of six times in the letter. I can find no reference to an eternal hope, or to the propitious death of Christ.
Reflections on Jude

A book of judgment, this short epistle written by Jesus’ brother quite remarkably quotes from Jewish apocalyptic literature as though it qualifies as a genuine product of Old Testament revelation. Quoting 1Enoch from the Pseudepigrapha he says: “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”[12] Note how closely this parallels Enoch: “And behold! He cometh with ten thousands of His holy ones to execute judgement upon all, and to destroy all the ungodly: And to convict all flesh of all the works of their ungodliness which they have ungodly committed, and of all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”[13]

Similarly, Jude quotes from the Assumption of Moses in verse 9: “Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.” The Assumption of Moses, supposedly part of the Testament of Moses, only exists in fragments, mostly takes from Clement of Alexandria. “Michael was commissioned to bury Moses. Satan opposed the burial on the ground (a) that he was the lord of matter and that accordingly the body should be rightfully handed over to him; (b) that Moses was a murderer, having slain the Egyptian. Michael having rebutted Satan’s accusations proceeded to charge Satan with having instigated the serpent to tempt Eve. To the first charge, Michael rejoins, ‘The Lord rebuke thee, for it was God’s spirit which created the world and all mankind.’ Finally, all opposition having been overcome, the assumption took place in the presence of Joshua and Caleb, and in a very peculiar way. A two-fold presentation of Moses appeared: one was Moses in company with angels, the other was the dead body of Moses, being buried in the recesses of the mountains.”[14] I have quoted from these two sources because I find it intriguing that Jude cites from non-canonical material.

When Jude makes reference to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, he makes an eternal application from a temporal event – i.e., he tells us that God destroyed these two cities “Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.”[15] He does the same thing when referencing Cain, Balaam, and Korah (v. 11).

Jude makes no reference that I can find, to the propitious death of Christ for sin. In closing, he urges his readers to “Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”[16]


As we begin to wind down this study on eternal hope, we have but one more book to analyze – Revelation. As we will note in the next issue, Revelation is the only apocalyptic book in the New Testament.

In Christ,


[1] Matthew 10:42, 13:41-43, 16:27, 22:11-14, KJV
[2] I John 1:2, 2:17, 25, 3:2, KJV
[3] I John 5:11-13, 20, KJV
[4] I John 3:15, KJV
[5] I John 4:17-18, KJV
[6] I John 1:7, 2:2, KJV
[7] I John 4:10, KJV
[8] Although the idea of Antichrist appears in various places in the New Testament and Daniel, the word “antichrist” appears only in I John 2:18, 22; 4:3; and II John 7.
[9] I John 2:28, KJV
[10] 2John 2, KJV
[11] II John 8, KJV
[12] Jude 14-15
[13] 1Enoch 1:9
[14] Taken from Charles, R.H, The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, Oxford at the Clarendon Press, 1979, vol. II, page 408 and from Nicoll, Robertson, The Expositors Greek Testament, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1951, Vol. 5, page 263.
[15] Jude 5, KJV
[16] Jude 21, KJV