The New Cosmos Inaugurated

The New Cosmos Inaugurated

I've been spending some time lately in the beginning of Colossians, where Paul is sharing what he has been praying for this church. I decided to write it out as a personal prayer to God for my family, church, and for some groups of women that I will be speaking to in the upcoming season and have found it very helpful. So it was even more enlightening for me to read some highlights that G.K. Beale points out about this section of Scripture in his book, The Temple and the Church's Mission.

In this particular chapter, Beale is demonstrating how the church is described as a new temple in the epistles of Paul. He makes a very important point that the "Spirit himself is the beginning evidence of the new creation, wherein is resurrection existence and the abode of the cosmic temple...The Spirit is not merely an anticipation or promise of these realities but is the beginning form of them...the Spirit is the beginning evidence that the latter-day promises have begun to be realized in Christ and his people" (258). After giving ample evidences of this from 2 Corinthians and Ephesians, Beale moves on to Paul's letter to the Colossians. Here he further reveals the fulfillment of the Gen. 1:28 Cultural Mandate in Christ, the "eschatological Adam," and all those in Christ, the church. Check out this parallel:


Genesis 1:28

"increase [auxanō] and multiply and fill the earth...and rule over all the earth'.


Colossians 1:6, 10

'in all the world also it['the word of truth, the gospel'] is bearing fruit and increasing [auxanō]' (v.6); 'in every good work bearing fruit and increasing [auxanō]...' (v.10). (264)


Throughout the book, Beale repeatedly shows the repetition of this mandate in OT Scripture. Here in Colossians, we see Paul interpreting the spiritual meaning behind the command to increase, multiply, and rule over the entire earth. Jesus Christ, the seed of Abraham, is the true temple of God to which all the OT temples and tabernacles pointed. All those who are in Christ, that is his bride the church, are new creations mediating God's presence to the ends of the earth. His kingdom rule is increasing by his Holy Spirit's indwelling and producing fruit in his people. And under the preached Word of the gospel, even now, God is bringing those from death to life, and sanctifying his people. We are then sent out into the world as salt and light. And so Beale can proclaim:

In the repetition of the commission to the patriarchs, the mention of 'all the nations of the earth' being 'blessed' by Abraham's 'seed' alludes to a new human community bearing God's image and 'filling the earth' with regenerated progeny who also reflect God's image. Thus, these new converts are 'blessed' with the favour of God's glorious presence and become a part of God's ever-increasing kingdom and rule which the first Adam had forfeited. (265)

Wow. Think about that for a moment. Sometimes I wonder if Adam cavalierly took his role as a priest and king to guard and keep the temple-garden for granted. He was to expand the garden-temple, the presence of God, to the ends of the earth, and instead, he lets in the worst of intruders.

But Adam was to do this by his own righteousness. We have the righteousness of Christ and the gift of his Spirit, so that we are a 'royal priesthood' (1 Pet. 2:9), bidden to increase in the knowledge of God and bear fruit to the whole world. The church is the presence of God 'breaking out;' we are the eschatological temple, with Christ our cornerstone. We have been blessed beyond Adam by being united to Christ.

What excuse do we have, then, when we tolerate false teaching, or perpetuate it ourselves? What intruders are we letting into our churches and into our own minds and hearts? Do we value purity and truth?

There's been much debate about the role and boundaries of parachurch organizations. One thing is certain, we cannot take the responsibility and focus from the local church to administer the ordinary means of grace that God has promised to bless us in Christ. We are called out to assemble under God's preached Word at the beginning of the week. This worship is a participation in the eschatological reality of the new creation breaking in to our daily lives. Here we actually experience the future breaking into the present.

And when we are sent out, and participate in other organizations to promulgate and apply God's Word, we need to remember that we have been sent out with a benediction. Jesus is the beginning of a new cosmos, and so we are actually the 'beginning evidence of his new creation' by his Spirit indwelling us. In Rev. 21 and 22 we see a description of the consummated new heaven and earth that has already been inaugurated in Christ's church. We see that to which the Garden of Eden pointed, a city-temple encompassing our entire living space. In this time of inauguration, we live by faith. But we look forward to that great day when we will live by sight, forever in the presence of our wonderful Redeemer.

Now, if you are in Christ, this promise has already begun to be realized in you by his Spirit. "What can one posses that is more valuable than God's presence?" (307). Don't take it cavalierly.

"For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross (Col. 1:19-20).