John's Gospel

The Way It Happened

John 1:12-13, Are We Children of God Now or Later?

Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God–children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

//In the final age, the Jews of Bible times understood, God would come down to earth and make his dwelling there. There was an eschatological dream of kinship once again with God, as in the days of Eden.

Matthew, Mark, and Luke share this future expectation, though perhaps with a different understanding of the coming age. These gospels indicate that in the age to come and in the heavenly realm, we will become sons of God. According to Luke, if you love your enemies, “then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High,” and of this coming age, Luke promises, “they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection.” Becoming God’s son is recognized as an eschatological sign of the final age, a promise speaking of the resurrection to come. I should repeat that for emphasis: Becoming a child of God is something that happens to the resurrected in the final age.

In contrast, John and Paul treat sonship as a gift already bestowed. Paul says, “Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts.” John 1:12-13 makes it clear that God has granted the opportunity to be born again, not of natural descent but of God, and that such believers are “children of God.”

As I follow battles on facebook between Preterist and Futurist believers, I’m reminded of the very same fierce conflict in the first century. Has the final age arrived, or not? John and Paul say yes; Matthew, Mark and Luke say not yet.

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