From The Foundation Of The World
The Kingdom Prepared From the Foundation of the World
Then the King will say to those on his right hand, Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. --Matt. 25:34, D.L. Cooper's translation.
According to our Lord's statement, this kingdom over which the Messiah will reign was prepared from the foundation of the world. What is meant by the expression, "foundation of the world"? In order to understand this passage we must analyze the various terms.
The verbal form of the word translated foundation according to Thayer, is "to cast down: to throw to the ground, prostrate: and to put in a lower place." Thayer defines the substantive form as first "throwing or laying down," and second, "a founding (laying down a foundation *)."The Plan of the Ages
In several passages the inspired writers used the substantive form of this word in connection with world. For instance, in the following references we have this phrase "from the foundation of the world"--Matt. 13:35; 25:34; Luke 11:50; Heb. 4:3; 9:26; Rev. 13:8; 17:8. The expression, "Before the foundation of the world," appears in such passages as John 17:24, Eph. 1:4 and 1 Pet. 1:20.
The first of these phrases is used in connection with statements relative to earthly affairs from the time of the creation of the world and subsequent to it. The latter one focuses attention upon that part of eternity which antedated the Creation.
The record of the creation of the universe is found in the sublime statement, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Back in that part of eternity which Moses called "In the beginning," God spoke the universe into existence. With the creation of the physical realm, what men call "time" began.
According to our Lord, this kingdom over which the Messiah will reign was prepared from the foundation of the world. What did He mean? In what way was it prepared before the foundation of the world"? There can be only one answerin God's eternal plan provision was made for this kingdom. Though the statement affirms that this kingdom was prepared from the foundation of the world, we are not to understand by the language that it was only at the time of the creation of the world that God planned it. Passages which use this phrase "from the foundation of the world," trace back the thing under discussion to the Creation, but do not exclude the possibility of its existence prior to the Creation and going back into the eternal counsels of the Almighty.
The Apostle Paul speaks of the Lord's "eternal purpose or, as indicated in the footnote, "purpose of the ages" in Eph. 3:11. From one angle we may speak of all eternity as being divided into three sections: 1) that which antedated the Creation, designated in Gen. 1:1 as "In the beginning"; 2) time, which began with Creation and continues until the destruction of the Millennial heavens and earth (which immediately precedes the creation of the eternal heavens and the eternal earth); 3) the ages of the ages which begin with the creation of the new order and continue forever and ever.The Dispensation of the Fulness of the Times
The period which we call "time" is properly divided into ages or eras. Viewing human history from the standpoint of redemption, some students divide it into the following dispensations: Innocence, Conscience, Civil Government, Promise, Law, Grace and the Millennium. The Age of Innocence was, of course, the period during which man was in the Garden of Eden before the fall. The Age of Conscience immediately followed that event and continued up to the time of the Flood. After the deluge, God authorized human governments; hence they were chartered at that time. Things moved forward for four hundred and twenty-seven years, according to the chronology supplied in the book of Genesis, to the Promise. From the making of the covenant with Abraham to the giving of the Law at Sinai was the Age of Promise. It was at Sinai that God gave His Law which was a forward step in the unfolding of His plan; hence the Law Dispensation was introduced at Sinai and continued to the Cross. When our Lord made the atonement for us, He unfolded the plan of God further by introducing the Age of Grace--the period during which we are now living. When He returns in glory at the end of the Tribulation, He will introduce the glorious Kingdom Age which is commonly known as the Millennium. At the conclusion of this era of peace, Satan will be loosed for a little season, immediately after which the Millennial heavens and the Millennial earth will pass away. Following that event will come the Eternity of the future--the new heavens and the new earth.
Frequently in the Hebrew and also in the Greek we come across the expression ages which in certain contexts means dispensations. In the New Testament several times we read of this age and the one to come. This former expression refers to the present Christian dispensation which is to be followed by the Millennium. Each context, however, must be taken into consideration.
In Eph. 1:3-14 the Apostle Paul, in one profound sentence, sets forth God's eternal plan and purpose which culminates in a "dispensation of the fulness of the times." This is when God will "sum up all things in Christ, the things in the heavens, and the things upon the earth" (vs. 10).
Evidence corroborating this statement is to be found in Heb. 1:3 where it is said of Christ that He is "upholding all things by the word of his power." The Greek word carries the idea in this context of activity, of pressing onward toward a goal. Wescott in his commentary on Hebrews quotes approvingly the following statement: "For the Son is not an Atlas sustaining the dead weight of the world." To this sentiment he adds, "It rather expresses that 'bearing' which includes movement, progress, towards an end."
In the Millennial Age our Lord Jesus Christ will sum up everything in Himself. He will be, as Isaiah said, Judge, Lawgiver, and King. In the future Kingdom Age the Lord Jesus will reign until He has put all enemies under His feet, and the last one to be conquered will be Death. Then He will deliver up the kingdom to God the Father. Hence the Millennial Age is the dispensation which is called "the fulness of the times." Towards that glorious consummation the Lord Jesus is bearing all things. Therefore this kingdom of a thousand years' duration is the one to which reference was made by our Lord when He said that it had been prepared from the foundation of the world.
* Some, ignoring the fundamental rules of lexicography and grammar, have sought to restrict both the verbal and substantive forms of this word to the primary, inherent meaning of "casting down." Thus this word has been understood by this group to signify "a disruption," or "a catastrophe." All words have a primary and usually, secondary or derived definitions. Whenever the meaning of a given word in a certain context is sought that signification must be accepted which will accord with all the facts of the context. The presumption, however, is that each word is to be taken at its primary meaning if the context permits. To discard secondary and derived imports of words and to adhere strictly to the primary meaning irrespective of the facts of the contexts is to pursue a course which violates every rule of lexicography and common-sense interpretation. Hence to translate this word when connected with the earth as a disruption of the world irrespective of the facts of the context is a violation of the fundamental rules of lexicography, grammar and interpretation.