WHEN THE FULNESS OF TIME HAS COME
We tend to organize things to understand them better. History is one of those things. We have divided it into segments to help us in our research, our study and to help us get a sense of what was going on. Some astronomers have said that there are five historical eras of the universe, geologists see geologic history in terms of four eras, and human history is divided into six epochs. Many countries have divided their history into ages as well. US history has seven. Even church historians have divided the history of the church into seven ages.
This idea of compartmentalizing isn’t just a human idea, God has presented us with the concept of ages in such passages of scripture as Colossians 1:26, where the scripture refers to ages and generations past and Ephesians 2:7 refers to ages yet to come. In Ephesians 1:10, Paul mentioned the dispensation of the fullness of times referring to the end of the ages when God will gather all things together in Christ.
The Greek word aion is properly translated “age” or “ages”, though it “is sometimes wrongly rendered ‘world.’”1 It is wrongly translated as such 40 times in the King James Version of the New Testament, all of which can contextually support a rendering of “age’ or “ages”. Add to this the unfortunate rendering of aion as “forever”, “everlasting” and “eternal” well over one hundred times. It seems to me God intended to divide our history into periods of time. It is during these periods that He interacts with His creation in a unique way for each of the ages in which we lived.
The Greek aion is clearly defined as “age”, “indefinite time”, “dispensation”, yet the KJV of the NT rendered it or it’s derivitives “world” more than 40 times. Image from: Young, Robert, Young’s Analytical Concordance of the Bible, Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., ©1964 p. 1073
I said all of that to say this: there is a huge, magnificent event coming, beyond which we know nothing. It seems to exist in the farthest reaches of the future, it is an extraordinary event, and it seems to be the culmination of everything God has planned since before time began. It is the point in the history of all creation when Christ submits Himself to the Father and God is all-in-all.
Christ is the preeminent one, the head of all principality and power. In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead so that all things will be subdued under Him. When that happens…well, read it for yourself:
That God May be All-in-All
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For he hath put all things under his feet. [Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ.] And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all. (1 Corinthians 15:22-28)
The reign of Christ and His priesthood comes to an end. When the Sonship is brought under subjection to God and God becomes all-in-all there will no longer be a need for the mediatorial role of Jesus Christ. This will be when all the purpose and plan of God for all the ages comes to fruition. Everything that God has been working for is suddenly realized right here. We do not know what that looks like! It is mentioned only in a few places.
He Might Gather Together in One All Things
Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: (Ephesians 1:9-10)
This is the instant before Christ subjects Himself to the Father. We have reached the “dispensation of the fullness of times”, the end of the ages. Earth’s history is coming to an end.
The Restitution of All Things
Whom [Christ] the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the [age] began. (Acts 3:21)
By Him to Reconcile All Things Unto Himself
And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. (Colossians 1:20)
This is when restitution for all things is made. God will reconcile all things to Himself. We have reached the end of all the ages and, until this very instant, eternity did not exist. It is only as we pass beyond this point, here at the end of time, does everlasting become a reality.
It is here, at the conclusion of the ages, that we become one with God. What does it mean that God may be all-in-all? I do not know, but all things in heaven and in earth and under the earth – all things visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers – all things will be reconciled to Him and God will be all-in-all.
That is Universal Reconciliation – that everyone, without exception, will be reconciled to God.
1W.E. Vine, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishing, ©1997, p. 33