John's Gospel

The Way It Happened

John 5:24-25, What does Realized Eschatology mean?

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live.”

//Realized Eschatology. If “eschatology” means the study of final things, such as death and judgment, then “realized eschatology” means just what it sounds like: The end has already come.

This may be a strange concept for many Bible readers. How can the end have already come? Shouldn’t people be walking around (flying around?) in resurrection bodies, then?

This is one of the most confusing, animated debates among Johannine scholars: Does John teach realized eschatology, future eschatology, or something in between? To grasp the controversy between scholars, note the phrase “the hour is coming, and now is” in today’s verse. And now is? You’ll find this phrase elsewhere in John; this is not an isolated occurrence. The end of the age, with the resurrection and judgment, has arrived, says John.

But immediately following these verses, John says this:

“Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.” –John 5:28-29

Oops! Now we’re back to future eschatology! So severely does this passage seem to undermine John’s this-worldly message in other portions of his gospel that some scholars conclude verses 28-29 must be a later addition.

So what does John teach on this matter? This is one of many topics I discuss in my recently published book, John’s Gospel: The Way It Happened.

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