Gerhardus Vos: Pauline Eschatology


Structure of Pauline Eschatology

“Acherith” applies to space as well as to time (Vos 1).  What does “Latter” mean in regards to eschatology?

  1. It is a moveable complex, such that it can be pushed forward along the line of history (3).
  2. It is collective, dealing with the fortunes and destinies of people.

Ha-Olam: sort of a blending of “world” and “time” (17).

The apostle sees an antithesis between the age that is and the age to come (36).  Since we are “hid with Christ in God,” our existence is anchored (if not spatially located) in the heavenly realm.  The Spirit holds these two together, as he is the first-fruits (41).

The Interaction Between Eschatology and Soteriology

Our being raised with Christ (Col. 3) is to have a radical change of life and is connected with the future Resurrection (45).  Our soteriology proceeds from this eschatological reality.

Religious and Ethical Motivation

What about the idea of reward?  This doesn’t sound pious, but Vos notes that “the web of biblical eschatology is shot through with the idea of reward (64). This safeguards Paul’s view of the resurrected body: “All that is related in the Messianic prophecies concerning the enjoyments of the future age is inseparable from the existence and functioning of the body” (69).

The Coming of the Lord and its Precursors

Vos notes that the forensic and realistic categories of the 2nd Coming cannot be cleanly separated (80).

Per Romans 10 and 11, Vos denies that “pas Israel” refers to a joint-collective of Jew and Gentile (89).  If the “hardening” refers to Israel, then the “in-gathering” must also refer to Israel.

The Man of Sin

Vos rejects the Neronic view since the predicates applied to the man of sin seem more fitting to a demonic principality, or at least a nigh-Titanic man, than to Nero (100). Elsewhere, moreover, Vos says Antichrist will be a human person (113).


Vos’s understanding of “in the air” means that Jesus will never land on earth.  Perhaps, but if Zechariah 14 refers to the 2nd Coming, then Christ will land on earth (136).

Pauline eschatology contains both a forensic aspect and a transformative one (148). In our being in Christ, we have been transferred into a new world, a world which differs totally (150n7).

The Spirit is the substantial constitution of the future life (165).

Extent of the Resurrection

Vos concedes that a partial resurrection at the beginning of the millennium and an all comprehensive one at the end is not contradictory (215).  Jesus’s resurrection in any case splits the Age to Come in half.

The Judgment

In the OT forensic judgments are often in the context of military victories (262).

The Eternal State

“The actual elements into which the eternal and heavenly unfold themselves are chiefly four: the Spirit, life, glory, the kingdom of God” (298).

Eschatology of the Psalter

The Psalter voices the subjective response of God’s people to his objective acts (324). Religion entwines itself around the progressive work of God, leading to a joyful climax.

Vos: the Psalter represents the normal working of eschatological hopes–neither dead nor frantic. Pagan eschatology is subjected to astronomic cycles.  There is no development or climax. But for the Psalter Jehovah does not merely become king, but in his salvation he arrives in royal splendor.

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