The term “eschatology,“ derived from the Greek adjective eschatos (“last,” “final”), is a word with many meanings.1 Essentially, it designates the doctrine about “last things.” Daley observes that the core of eschatology is “faith in final solutions,“ therefore the concept of hope is inherent to it. 2 He points out that eschatology appeals to “the hope of believing people that the incompleteness of their present experience of God will be resolved, their present thirst for God fulfilled, their present need for release and salvation realized.”3 Thus, eschatology reflects fundamental Christian convictions about God, the world and human existence. It deals with God’s final, decisive acts toward His creation in which His created order becomes renewed, His kingdom comes and His will is done “on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt 6:10). This study sets out the thesis that the concept of creation is of fundamental significance for New Testament eschatology. It acknowledges the view of Hardy that an “eschatological theology cannot be carried out in isolation from a doctrine of creation.”5 Clearly, without the creation we would have no categories to think about the eschaton at all, since, as Volf notes, “the eschaton is an eschaton of the creation, or it is no eschaton at all.”6 Movement toward the eschatological goal is one of the major themes in the biblical storyline, since essential to God’s promises is His “making all things new“ (Rev 21:5). His major interventions in history follow a consistent pattern:(1) chaos, subdued by (2) creation, resulting in (3) God’s kingdom established, His order realized. Such a chaos—creation—kingdom pattern was repeated from time to time in salvation history and it was characteristic of God’s mighty acts: the creation, the flood, the exodus and the return from Babylonian exile.7 Since the Old Testament plotline provided the substructure for New Testament theology, 8 and since God is consistent in dealing with His creation, the theme of creation is, I argue in this study, integral to New Testament eschatology. Dumbrell, Scobie and Emerson have recently argued for the prominence of creation as one of the key theological themes in the biblical canon,9 while Beale advances the thesis that creation is the single central theme of both Testaments.10 Engaging into this discussion is beyond the scope of this study, since the focus of the examination will be on eschatology, precisely on its relationship to the creation theme. For our investigation it is of critical importance to explore, first of all, how the New Testament authors understood the concept of the “end time”: what was their eschatological outlook? After laying down the foundation for our enterprise, I will identify and discuss three cardinal components of New Testament creation theology which are integral to the eschatological thinking of the New Testament authors. The analysis of these three components will reveal the points of contact between eschatology and creation within New Testament theology. Finally, the relation between protology and eschatology will be explored from a canonical perspective, maintaining the presupposition that the Bible narrates a unified, coherent meta-story of God’s ongoing work in creation, therefore it provides an inspired ground for doing biblical theology.
"Radically New Beginning—Radically New End: Creation and Eschatology in the New Testament,"
Journal of the Adventist Theological Society: Vol. 29:
1, Article 3.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.andrews.edu/jats/vol29/iss1/3
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