Two Different Eternal Hopes

By Arthur J Licursi

Eschatology is the study of Biblical ‘things to come.’ The ‘things to come’ concern the hope of God’s two, beloved, people groups and their eternal destinies. This study reveals the basis for the difference between the ‘things to come’ as: 1) “The Hope of Israel” and, 2) the “hope” of the Gentile “church,” which is “the body of Christ.” More than a wish, Biblical hope is a ‘confident expectation’ that is Biblically based and believed.

This study also summarizes the hope of two categories of Christians today. Paul addresses: 1) the unintelligized, nominal, saved “saints” of Christendom who are destined to dwell in the kingdom on earth with Israel as ‘whosoever’ believers (cf. Jn. 3:16) and… and 2) the faithful” intelligized members of “the body of Christ” destined to dwell in “the heavenly places in Christ.” This difference can only be discerned by studying Paul’s Acts period epistles and his Post-Acts epistles “rightly divided” per 2Tim 2:15.

(The difference between “the Saints” and “the faithful” is explained here: https://artlicursi.com/articles/%E2%80%9C-saints%E2%80%9D-and-%E2%80%9C-faithful%E2%80%9D )

It will help us to note the Chronological Written Order of Paul’s Epistles, not their order as listed in the KJV Bible. Paul wrote of Two Different Hopes according to his TWO successive ministries toward the TWO different God-ordained people groups for whom Christ died, was buried, and rose again. These TWO are 1) the believing remnant of Israel’s blessed Hope for “the kingdom of [from] heaven” to come on Earth. During the Act period Gentiles enjoyed the same blessings of the cross as Israel, but they were not of equal status. It was “The Jew first” (Rom. 1:16, 2:9) as the focus of the Acts period epistles.

Now we will consider these two hopes as reflected in the Apostle Paul’s 2 sets of 7 epistles.

The “hope” of the Acts period Messianic believers of Israel and their Gentile proselytes first was in accord with Jesus’ promise of ‘eternal life (cf. Jn. 11:25-26, 3:16). This involved their looking to being “caught up” (i.e., raptured) to “meet the Lord in the airat the last trump” (1Cor 15:52, 1 Thes. 4:13-18) then to return to earth in Jesus’ Millennial “kingdom” to come “on earth.” The gospel preached to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” during the 35-year Acts period was preached by “the twelve” Apostles and Paul was Jesus’ “gospel of the kingdom.” (Matt. 24:14) and “the kingdom of God” (Act 19:8) on earth.

(NOTE: Paul’s later Post-Acts gospel concerned the full revelation of “THE Mystery” which was not revealed until AFTER Acts 28:28 when the fall of Israel’ was complete and God had turned to “the Gentiles.” Paul then wrote of anew gospel’ promising an Eternal Heavenly Destiny for “the faithful” Gentiles. The “blessed Hope” of Titus 2:13 pertains to “the faithful(Eph. 1:1) Gentile members of “body of Christ” who are destined to “appear with Him(Col. 3:4) to Co-Reign with Christ IN “THE HEAVENLY PLACES(cf. 2Tim, 2:12, Eph. 1:15-23).

The FIRST Seven Epistles of Paul’s ministry were to and for the Jew First (cf. Rom. 1:16), thus concerning “the Hope of Israel.” These epistles were written during the Acts period, BEFORE ACTS 28:28.
Paul writes of ISRAEL’S ‘HOPE’ in these 7 Acts Period epistles, in this Chronological Order;

  • GALATIANS: “The just shall live [have life] by FAITH” (Gal. 3:11).
  • 1 THESSALONIANS: “The hope” of Israel’s “little flock” believers was of the being “caught to meet the Lord in the air [atmosphere](1Thes. 4:17), then to return to the kingdom on earth.
  • 2 THESSALONIANS: Paul wrote to correct their erroneous view of the day of Christ’s 2nd coming. Paul reminded them of 1Thes, 5:2, 4 because they became “shaken” due to believing a ‘Satanic counterfeit letter (2:1) that saidthe day of Christ coming in wrath had already come and that they had missed being “caught up and that they were now under God’s “wrath.” No wonder they were “shaken in mind.”
  • HEBREWS: Declares “The just shall LIVE by faith” (Heb. 10:37-38).
  • 1 CORINTHIANS: Paul says the temporary communicative miraculous gifts (Chp. 12-13) of Acts “will pass” (13:8-9), but Faith, Hope and Charity will abide. These ‘communicative gifts’ ended with the completion of the sure written “word of truth.”
  • 2 CORINTHIANS: Mature believers become ‘epistles’ (3:2) and able ministers” of Israel’s New Testament relationship; “not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.” (2 Cor. 3:6)
  • ROMANS. The way of reconciliation and justification unto eternal life by the Cross of Christ, “The JUST shall live [have life] by faith” (Rom. 1:17).

We have only to turn to Isaiah 11:1-16 to which Acts refers as “The Hope of Israel” (Acts 28:20, Isa. 11:1-16), to prove beyond doubt that the Hope of the Messianic “Church” in Rome at that time was for the Messiah’s Millennial Kingdom to come on earth. The reference to the Archangel (Michael) in 1 Thess. 4:16 makes another link with Israel’s hope, as does the connecting passage in 2 Thes. 2:3-10 where the “Man of Sin” is spoken of. But today the 2nd “Coming” of the Lord to set up His Millennial reign is postponed while Israel is “blinded” during this Gentile age of “the Mystery [secretly planned]” body of Christ (cf. Rom. 11:25).  So, it is “the hope of Israel” (Acts 28:20) that was in view throughout the Acts period, from Acts 1:6 to Acts 28:20. Paul writes concerning the ultimate “hope of Israel” in these Acts period epistles;

6 And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our [Israel’s] fathers: 7 Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, Hope To Come. For which hope's sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews. Acts 26:6-7 (KJV)
12 And again, Esaias [Isaiah] saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust. 13 Now the God of Hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. Romans 15:12-13 (KJV)
15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the [2nd] coming of the Lord shall not prevent [precede] them which are asleep [dead in their graves]. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we [of Israel] which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 (KJV)

51 Behold, I shew you a mystery [secret]; We shall not all sleep [be dead], but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we [the living] shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 1 Corinthians 15:51-55 (KJV)

All the verses above reference the hope and reign of the believers of The Tribes of Israel. This Acts period “Jew First” positional reign above the Gentiles ceased with Acts 28:28. Israel is then fallen (cf. Rom. 11:10-11) and set aside in “blindness” (cf. Rom. 11:25). Then a new “Dispensation Of The Grace Of God” Comes Into Operation, as seen in Paul’s new set of seven POST-ACTS 28 epistlesfor ye GENTILES(Eph. 3:1).

  1. The Hope of “the church” which is “the Body of Christ - The Hope of The Church of “THE Mystery” [the Secret plan of God] is the calling of the Gentile “Body Of Christ” whose destiny is with Christ ‘far above all principalities and powers at ‘the right hand of God.” (Eph. 1:20-21). Thus “the faithful” of the Gentilebody of Christ live today looking to their Appearing With HimWhen ‘He Appears In Heavens Glory.’ (cf. Col. 3:4). Our eternal destiny is to then Reign with Christ’ eternally IN HEAVEN (2Tim. 2:12). This Hope is in a 2nd sphere beyond that of Israel as seen in Isaiah 11:1-16. Ours hope is set forth in Col. 3:4, being associated with Our Manifestation in Glory when Christ Himself shall be made Manifest.

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings IN HEAVENLY PLACES in Christ: Ephesians 1:3 (KJV)

18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is The Hope Of His Calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, Ephesians 1:18 (KJV)

20 For our conversation [Old English for citizenship] is IN HEAVEN; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: 21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself. Philippians 3:20-21 (KJV)

1 If [since] ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are ABOVE, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2 Set your affection on Things ABOVE, Not On Things On The Earth. 3 For Ye Are Dead, And Your Life Is Hid With Christ In God. 4 When Christ, Who Is Our Life, Shall APPEAR, Then Shall YE ALSO APPEAR WITH HIM In [Heaven’s] Glory. Colossians 3:1-4

Paul’s Seven POST-ACTS Epistles that were written AFTER Acts 28:28 begin with Ephesians, revealing the Greatest of several Mysteries. “THE Mystery [secret]” of these epistles concern God’s plan and the purpose “in Christ” forming “the body of Christ.” This “Mystery [secret]” was “hid in God” from the beginning the world [Grk. the kosmos, the original heaven and earth]” (Eph. 3:9) but is now revealed” to all those who will “read” Paul’s “knowledge of the Mystery” (Eph. 3:4-5) and all his Post-Acts Epistles.

Paul writes of the hope, relationship, and expectation of the “enlightened” (Eph. 1:18) members of “the body of Christ” in these 7 Post-Acts epistles in Chronological Order;

  • EPHESIANS: 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all Spiritual Blessings IN HEAVENLY PLACES in Christ: Ephesians 1:3 (KJV)

18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is THE HOPE of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, (Eph. 1:18)

‘Knowing’ the revelation of “the Mystery [secret]” 9 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of THE MYSTERY, which From The Beginning of The World HATH BEEN HID IN GOD, who created all things by Jesus Christ: (Eph. 3:9 (KJV)

“The Mystery” is 11 According to the Eternal Purpose which he Purposed In Christ Jesus Our Lord: (Ephesians 3:11)

4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in One Hope Of Your Calling; (Ephesians 4:4)

  • PHILIPPIANS: We look for our ‘Out-Resurrection’ to Heaven (Phili. 3:11), “THE Prize Of The High [Heavenly, upward] Calling of God In Christ” (Phili. 3:14)
  • PHILEMON: Humanizes the lofty doctrines such as the love of God, forgiveness in Christ, and the inherent dignity of humanity as having pertinent impact in the everyday life of Christians.
  • COLOSSIANS: The “dispensation of the Mystery” (cf. Col. 1:25-26) and our ‘appearing with Christ’ when ‘He appears in heaven’s glory(cf. Col. 3:4)
  • *1 TIMOTHY: “Christ… our hope” (1:1) Be righteous unto “the appearing(1Tim. 6:14)
  • *TITUS: (Penned en route to Nicopolis, cf. Titus 3:12) The “blessed hope” of “The Glorious Appearing Of The Great God And Our Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13)
  • 2 TIMOTHY: Paul’s farewell - The “Crown of righteousness” awarded to those wholove His appearing (4:8).

*NOTE: The evidences for the exact dating of these Pastoral Epistles of Paul are not sufficient to enable anyone to dogmatize. All that we can say with some measure of confidence is that 1 Timothy and Titus were written in the interval of Paul’s freedom during his two years at Rome (cf. Acts 28:30), when Paul was treated as a military prisoner, being allowed some measure of liberty, and his subsequent imprisonment when he was treated as “an evildoer.” From this imprisonment there was no hope of release, except by death.

Herewith I have set forth the chronological sequence of the two sets of 7 Pauline epistles as they concern; 1) “the Hope of Israel” being written during the Acts period and, 2) the confident expectation of the “Heavenly” Hope of the Gentile “church… the body of Christ” (cf. Eph. 122b-23a), written during the POST-Acts 28 Gentile “dispensation of the grace of God” (Eph. 3:2).