Whenever the scriptures seem confusing, or are hard to understand we need to stop and look at our underlying assumptions and beliefs. When we bring our preconceived ideas, or learned perspectives to the study of God’s word, then we color God’s meaning with our thoughts. This will always leave us struggling to learn God’s meaning and we will often misunderstand what He has said.
The first thing to do when we are struggling with His word is to come back to the first audience perspective, and the rules we must follow: 1) identify who was speaking, 2) to whom they were speaking, 3) when the word was spoken / written, and 4) stay with the context of the word.
(This post assumes the reader has already studied the previous posts at this blog for the evidences from the scriptures that the return of Christ happened in the fullness of time (Gal. 4:4) to that promised generation of the 1st century AD (Matt. 24:34), and that His return was for the destruction of Jerusalem and the Mosaic temple in AD 70 (Matt. 23:37-38; 24:2) , and the deliverance of the saints from their tribulation and persecution at the hands of the Jews and Romans (Heb. 9:28).
So, let’s take a fresh look at a passage in Romans chap. 8 which many of the commentaries say is one of the most difficult to understand.
“18For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 19For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.
20For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, 21Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
22For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.” (Rom. 8:18-22, KJV)
Paul was writing to the saints in Rome approx. 52-57 AD (1) and comforting them with the assurances of their “earnest expectation.” This word “expectation” is Strong’s Gr. 603, “apokaradokia,” (2) and means an active, strained expectancy, literally with the head stretched forward, looking eagerly forward to see as if you were standing at the rails at a race track to see around the others beside you. Paul uses this word again in Phil. 1:20.
The word “creature” in the KJV is translated in many of the English versions as “creation” (ASV, YLT, NET, RSV, CJB, etc). It is Strong’s Gr. 2937, ktisis (3) and means the act or product of God’s divine work. Paul uses this word for every man in Col. 1:15, 23; 2 Cor. 5:17, Gal. 6:15. Used collectively of all men, then it is “creation.” This “creation” is often explained in the commentaries as the entire physical world, or cosmos and is what causes much confusion for the commentators of these passages.
But the very next verse puts this into the proper context of the creature being subjected to “vanity,” (4) or emptiness, nothingness, removed from the original state of glory (Gen. 3:23-24) in which God had placed man. It was man’s sin that caused the fall from grace, therefore man’s return to glory is the objective.
While the inanimate creation of rocks, and trees, and earth, and water is affected by man’s sin, it is not the inanimate world which hopes for the liberty to be found in Christ Jesus. Paul explained who the sons of God were in the earlier verse 14.
“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” (Rom. 8:14, KJV)
Therefore, the revealing or manifestation of the sons of God can only apply to those who follow after and obey God, His saints. Those who were in Rome, who believed that Jesus was (is) the Son of God, and who were baptized / immersed into Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection are the subject of these scriptures, indeed all of the saints of the 1st century AD are in view here. They were waiting with great expectation for that revealing, and they had been promised that hope in their lifetime, else Paul’s comforting assurances would mean nothing!
That expectation and hope centered around Christ’s return in that generation, and it would encompass the release from the pain and suffering they were enduring from the persecution which originated at that time of Paul’s writing from the Jews in Jerusalem. Nero’s persecution of about AD 64-66 had not yet begun.
The “whole creation” that was groaning and travailing was therefore all of mankind. The Jews used the word “creature” to speak of other people outside of the tribes of Israel, and as a lesser or unimportant category of men. In truth, they have extended that to be a pejorative on the level of cattle, or lower animal life forms. (5) It was a term the converted saints would have been familiar with in reference to those outside of the blood line Jews, meaning the gentiles. But, Paul makes it clear that all men were subject to that groaning.
“And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.” (Rom. 8:23, KJV)
So, what then was that “revealing” or manifestation? Many want to make this revealing to be about the resurrection of the dead at the time of Christ’s return. The redemption of Rom. 8:23 does not stretch that far as their adoption was not waiting for bodily death and the resurrection of the carnal body. Their adoption in the first century AD was not yet fully complete, as the old law was still in force waiting for the return of Christ to take that old Mosaic covenant out of the way.
“In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.” (Heb. 8:13, KJV)
The time frame of the scriptures is very important. We have to keep the scriptures in the time in which they were written. It may be a helpful study tool to write down the dates of the books at the top of each one. Paul was writing to the assemblies in Rome about 12 to 15 years before the fall of that temple in Jerusalem in AD 70. The book of Hebrews was written about AD 60-65, or about 5 to 10 years before the temple was destroyed, and the Mosaic covenant was still in place. Though it was ready to vanish away, it had not yet done so.
The revealing of the sons of God was waiting for that temple to fall, and the Mosaic covenant to be removed so that the adoption of the those 1st century AD saints would be fully realized under the new covenant of the gospel of Christ. The meaning of that revealing was similar to “see, we told you so,” a vindication of the gospel, of Christ’s sacrifice, and the realization of the true sons of God which were not the unbelieving Jews who had been counting on the blood line salvation they had been taught to expect.
“Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God.” (Hos. 1:10, KJV)
Those saints / believers who were suffering and groaning under the persecution of the misled and unbelieving Jews who had rejected their Messiah were waiting for the return judgment upon those persecutors who were about to be hit in the face with the reality of their doom at the destruction of their temple.
Today, we are not waiting any longer for that revealing. Today, and ever since the destruction of that temple, we are redeemed and adopted at the time we are immersed into Christ. We arise from the water a new creature in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15) and are placed into that spiritual kingdom that was fully implemented after the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.
Further, in answer to a question that was asked about the church, the spiritual kingdom is not a physical, earthly nation-state organization of men, nor is it a physical building of an institutional man-made denomination.
22But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, 23To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.” (Heb. 12:22-24, KJV)
Christ came preaching that the kingdom was at hand (Matt. 4:17; 10:7), and with many parables told the people what the kingdom was like. His disciples still did not understand that the heavenly kingdom was not going to be an earthly, political nation state (Acts 1:6), but a spiritual kingdom that is within us (Luke 17:21 ), and that it is not of this world (John 18:36).
The church created on the day of Pentecost in 30-31 AD was the assembly of all of the believers in Christ at Jerusalem who were baptized for the remission of their sins. At first 3,000 believers were baptized – which mirrored the 3,000 rebellious sinners that were killed in the wilderness for worshiping the golden calf (Ex. 32:27-28) – and then more were added to the church daily (Acts 2:41, 47).
The members of the “church” or ekklisia make up the entirety of the body of the church of which Christ is the head (Eph. 5:23). This is a spiritual body comprised of all members that obey the call of the gospel to be baptized / immersed into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Mark 16:16; Rom. 12:4-5; 1 Cor. 6:15; 12:12, 18, 20).
Each and every member of this body of Christ makes up the bride of Christ (Rev. 21:2) which is also the heavenly new Jerusalem (Rev. 21:9-10). That means that every member of Christ’s body is an occupant of the new “heavenly” Jerusalem. As each and every member of this body while living on this earth is physically located in every nation upon this physical realm, then the bride of Christ, or His assembly is temporarily physically grouped by their individual locations, but associated collectively as a spiritual body of the minds and hearts who are joined through the word of God, the Spirit of God.
All during the infancy of the church during the 1st century AD, the saints were enduring persecution from the Sanhedrin, and from the scribes and Pharisees who had rejected the Messiah, the prophet of the new heaven and earth creation. None of the prophesies of the new creation ever spoke of a physical, earthly re-creation. This is simile and metaphor from the OT, and spoke to the different world order / covenant which God was going to establish through His Son’s sacrifice.
When Rev. 21:2 says that the spiritual, heavenly Jerusalem “descended” to be with men, it is speaking covenantally of the promised spiritual kingdom that is within us, and of a collective spiritual dwelling place for all of the members of the body. Though physically separated by time and space on this earth realm, we are joined spiritually in hearts and mind.
This event happened metaphorically after the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, and had no actual visible change on the church, or assemblies other than the release from the tribulation and persecution caused by the unbelieving, disobedient Jews that were destroyed in the earthly Jerusalem. Those assemblies of Christ in the different locations of that 1st century AD Roman empire were being constantly encouraged to continue in the faith, and to endure. They are our example.
The end of the temple system and the destruction of Jerusalem was their sign that the full establishment of Christ’s everlasting kingdom was in place. That was the hope they were told to wait for, the adoption and full inheritance that was promised to them throughout the epistles of the New Testament – the new promised land of the spiritual new Jerusalem. It did not have a physical impact on the natural world of God’s creation, nor a physical change to the church, but was the affirmation of the full installment that had been promised to them of the spiritual new heaven and earth covenant of the gospel of Christ.
You might read the post at the right, “The Promised Land: Between The Cross and The Kingdom” as it does provide more scriptural references for this study. I also highly recommend the book “All Things Made New” by Kurt Simmons which can be ordered at his site here: http://preteristcentral.com/. He treats the subject of the new heaven and new earth creation from the relationship of Isaiah ch. 65-66 to 2 Pet. 3:10-13 and Rev. ch. 21-22 comprehensively.
I also highly recommend Don Preston’s book “The Elements Shall Melt With Fervent Heat” here: https://www.store.bibleprophecy.com/product/the-elements-shall-melt-with-fervant-heat/
May God bless you and keep you!
1) Dating The New Testament – http://datingthenewtestament.com/Romans.htm
2) Strong’s Gr. 603, apokaradokia – https://biblehub.com/greek/603.htm
3) Strong’s Gr. 2937, ktisis – https://biblehub.com/greek/2937.htm)
4) Strong’s Gr. 3153, mataiotes – https://biblehub.com/greek/3153.htm
5) See Gill’s Exposition of Rom. 8:19 – https://biblehub.com/commentaries/romans/8-19.htm
17 thoughts on “The Revealing of the Sons of God”
Thank you. That makes sense.
Is it that we as redeemed believers have been joined to Christ and now collectively form the Body of Christ, the only body that will be / needs to be redeemed. So my personal body is not what is important in the new Jerusalem, but my connection with the body of Christ is what is important. So in Romans 8:23, it says we wait anxiously for the redemption of OUR body (the body of Christ), not our own personal bodies. Is that on track or am I off base?
Do not confuse the “we” of Rom 8:23 with us. We are not them; they are not us. Paul was speaking to the saints in Rome during the 1st cent. AD about 55-57 AD. They had the promise made to them, baptized into Christ, covered by the blood of Christ at the cross; but were still waiting for full adoption, full redemption for Christ’s kingdom to be fully established after the destruction of that old temple, and the removal of that old Mosaic covenant in AD 70. Those who survived the tribulations of the persecutions and that war lived out the rest of their lives, and those who remained faithful to God were resurrected at their bodily deaths, changed in the twinkling of an eye, and were gathered home to heaven.
Everyone who is born has to experience bodily death. ” and as it is laid up to men once to die, and after this — judgment,” (Heb. 9:27, YLT). That means we will all die, but those who have put on Christ through baptism / immersion for the forgiveness of sins pass from death unto life (1 John 3:14), the judgment passes over us (1 Cor. 5:7) and we are gathered home in our new bodies.
I have been talking to a guy who insists that the whole notion that all things have been finished in Christ and there is no big event we are waiting for simply cannot be true because our bodies must be redeemed, and therefore, he insists that there must be another coming of Christ when He will come and redeem our bodies from the grave. I am having a hard time trying to distinguish between the references to us being transformed (metamorphosis) (John 12:24) and being redeemed (1 Co 15:37). I know that when a caterpillar goes through metamorphosis, its old body is destroyed in the process and its new body (butterfly) is not a polished up version of the old. Also, when a seed is planted in the ground, the shell breaks open and remains in the ground forever – it does not rise up with the new life that grows from it. I believe that the moment we die, we are raised up in Christ to be with Him and we receive our glorified bodies in heaven (and our old shell of a body remains in the grave). However, the question that I cannot answer is with Christ’s body. His body physically left the grave, so does that mean the same thing happens for us? He is arguing that because we can go to a grave of a believer and dig it up, the remains of the body will be there, which confirms that person’s body has not yet been redeemed. And when we go to Christ’s tomb, His body is not there. What am I missing? Therefore, he insists that this proves that there has to be another return of Christ to finish the work of redeeming the bodies of believers. I don’t believe that, but I can’t explain away that difference. Am I misunderstanding the whole concept?
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When are we redeemed? When our body physically dies, or rather when we rise from the water of baptism, reborn of the water and the Spirit (John 3:5)?
“18 having known that, not with corruptible things — silver or gold — were ye redeemed from your foolish behaviour delivered by fathers, 19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and unspotted — Christ’s –” (1 Pet. 1:18=19, KJV)
“Redeemed” is Strong’s Gr. 3084, lutroo – to release by paying a ransom, I release on receipt of ransom, liberate
When did Christ pay the ransom; at the cross or at the destruction of the temple? His blood sacrifice was the payment, and we come in contact with His blood when we are baptized into His name (Rom. 6:3-4, 9-11). Peter was speaking to living people, those who had not yet physically died, and he called them “redeemed.” That means they were redeemed at some time in the past while they lived, and that time was when they put on Christ in baptism. The redeeming does not wait for bodily death.
Many ppl are confused as to the nature of the rising again from the grave. First of all, the grave of Hades, the realm of the dead is not there any more. See the post Hades Is No More at this site. Then reflect upon Paul’s imagery in 1 Cor. 15:36ff of the seed that planted in the ground. The husk falls away, and new plant is sprouted and grows into a much more beautiful form than the seed that was planted. God doesn’t need those physical bones, the husk of the seed planted in the ground to raise us into our spiritual bodies and new forms. Our heavenly bodies will have a different set of physics in a much more beautiful form.
Your friend, as so many others do, is erroneously expecting to have the same physical body from the same dead bones lying in the dirt. The transformation Paul spoke of in the twinkling of an eye is that new plant, that new spiritual bodily form which God will provide for us at the time of our bodily death. As this is now an hourly, daily process that takes place as each soul in Christ passes from this life to the next (Rev. 14:13) then God is not waiting for one final judgment day to perform that changing / transformation. Why should anyone here expect to see that changing of other souls as they pass?
Christ was buried, went to those in prison in Paradise (Luke 23:43; 1 Pet. 3:19) to tell them the kingdom was at hand, and then He ascended to the Father to sit at His right hand (Acts 1:9; Rom. 8:34; Eph. 1:20, etc). Christ is in heaven now. All those that were resurrected from Hades at the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 (Dan. 12:13; Matt. 25; Rev. 20) are in heaven now. As well as all of the souls who have died in the Lord since that time (AD 70). They are all in heaven now. We will join them, be gathered to them where they are in heaven when our carnal body dies.
Christ’s body was a special proof case, so that the Romans, the Jews and His disciples would see an empty tomb. It was a miracle God provided for their belief that He was Messiah, their sign that He was risen. That empty grave and removal of the physical body is not necessary for God to have resurrected everyone.
Preterism unlocks every insight.
I agree that Preterism unlocks the true meaning of the scriptures. However the link you provided is still treating the revealing of the sons of God as though the adoption waited for death and resurrection. While the resurrection of the body is treated throughout Paul’s letters, I think they are missing a view points about the 1st century AD adoption. Blessings.
It appears to me that Paul uses apposition to equate “our adoption as sons” with “the redemption of our body”:
[Romans 8:23 NASB20] (23) And not only [that,] but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for [our] adoption as sons [and daughters,] the redemption of our body.
John has something similar:
[1Jo 3:2 NKJV]  Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
That “revealing” of the sons of God is a very specific hope… to accompany Christ at his revelation, to fulfil these:
[Rev 19:14-15 NKJV]  And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses.  Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
[Jde 1:14-15 NKJV]  Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints,  “to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”
[Deu 33:2 NKJV]  And he said: “The LORD came from Sinai, And dawned on them from Seir; He shone forth from Mount Paran, And He came with ten thousands of saints; From His right hand [Came] a fiery law for them.
[1Th 3:13 NKJV]  so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.
Yes, and what is that coming event? The return in judgment against Jerusalem. When was the redeeming for that 1st century AD church? At the coming of the Lord in judgment against Jerusalem in AD 70. The resurrection of all those from the grave happened after the destruction of the city. The coming in judgment effectively removed the Mosaic covenant out of their way, to replace it with the new covenant of the gospel of Christ. That sealed their adoption under the new covenant. Those still living were “redeemed” and had full adoption at that point. They didn’t have to be dead to be adopted. And, since then, now when are we redeemed? At baptism, or when we die?
If the 144,000 first fruits (aka the dead in Christ) are not raised before Christ’s return, how does Christ return with an army of tens of thousands of holy ones?
When did Christ resurrect the dead, the representative 144,000? Before the destruction, or after the destruction of Jerusalem? Matt. 25 says when He returned. It was in order of the feast days just as His death, burial and resurrection, and the establishment of His church was in the sequence of the spring feast days, then so was the destruction / judgment of Jerusalem and the raising from the dead, and the marriage of lamb in the sequence of the fall feast days – first judgment on Yom Teruah (Feast of Trumpets), then Yom Kippur (10 days after), the 10 days of the marriage feast (Matt. 22) then the Feast of Tabernacles / Feast of Nations (Rev. 21) where the New Jerusalem symbolically descended to be with man. He did not raise the dead from the grave before the city was destroyed. Rev 20 has it after the city was destroyed after the judgment of Yom Teruah, also called Yom Hadin – day of judgment.
Well, there are two resurrections. The resurrection after the “thousand years” is at the end of the war
The first thousand years was the unbinding of the dragon, and that happened before the war when the persecution under Nero was unleashed. The 2nd thousand years was the time of the return of Christ for the judgment against the city, when the city was destroyed, after which the dead were raised from the grave, right?
My head hurts!
I agree that the thousand years extends back at least to Jesus’ ministry.
[Luk 10:17, 20 NKJV]  Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” …  “Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”
I would have to spend some time to harmonize the thousand years with the two resurrections, but it sounds like you are objecting to the idea that there are two different resurrection groups.?
There were not two general resurrections, just the one after the city was destroyed. There were the few resurrected from the grave after Jesus’ resurrection (Matt. 27:52) who went to a few in the city as proof of the resurrection, but that was not the general resurrection from the grave, and that happened before the dragon’s binding was released. So there were not 2 resurrections in Rev. 20. Just the one, and that ties to what the angel told Daniel in Dan. 12:6-13.
I’m not sure what you mean by a “general resurrection.” There is no such thing in scripture that I’m aware of. There is the resurrection of the dead in Christ and later, the rest are caught up as they each draw their last breath.
[Dan 12:1-3 KJV]  And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation [even] to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.  And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame [and] everlasting contempt.  And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.
Yes, you are correct. The Bible does not use the term “general resurrection”. It is a term that some use to refer to that mass resurrection from Hades after the destruction of Jerusalem which Christ foretold in Matt. 25, and which Rev. 20 details. I think it began to be called the “general” resurrection to distinguish it from the specific individual resurrection which became the process after the destruction of Jerusalem as each soul that died in the Lord after AD 70 was gathered home into heaven.