Finding hope in this temporary world
In the great “resurrection chapter” of the New Testament (1 Corinthians 15), the apostle Paul refers to the order of the resurrection as “Christ the first-fruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.” That is, Christ was the first one to be raised from the dead to never die again — the first fruits of the resurrection of life (cf. John 5:28, 29). When Christ returns “those who are Christ’s at His coming” (i.e. Christians) will be raised to “always be with the Lord” (cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:17). “Then,” Paul says, “comes the end” when Christ will take His people to heaven (1 Corinthians 15:23, 24; cf. John 14:1-3).
One of the clearest statements in the Bible about what will happen at “the end” is in 2 Peter 3:10f.
There is a particular word in that passage that is very important for our understanding of what will happen at “the end,” when Christ returns. It is the word translated “elements” in the New King James translation. Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon gives the basic meaning as, “any first thing, from which the others belonging to some series or composite whole take their rise; an element, first principle.”1 It goes on to give four various uses as, “1. the letters of the alphabet as the elements of speech … the spoken sounds; 2. the elements from which all things have come, the material causes of the universe; 3. the heavenly bodies; 4. the elements, rudiments, primary and fundamental principles” [for this use see Heb. 5:12, “principles”]. The Louw & Nida Lexicon give the definitions according to their context in a particular passage and define the word “elements” in 1 Peter 3:10, 12 as, “the materials of which the world and the universe are composed — ‘elements, natural substances.”
So, according to Peter, the very building blocks of matter — material existence — are going to “melt with fervent heat.” Paul also said that when Jesus returns it will be “in flaming fire” (2 Thessalonians 1:3-10). Based on the fact that this physical existence will be utterly destroyed, Peter says, “be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless” (2 Peter 3:14). When this world is gone will all your hope be gone with it? We must be “Christ’s at His coming” if we are to have any hope beyond this temporary world!
Norm Fields is the minister for the Church of Christ Northside meeting at 1101 Hogansville Road in LaGrange. He may be reached at 706-812-9950 or BibleQnA@NormFields.com.