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The New Testament presents God as Father, Christ as Son, and the saints as children of God. Christ is also the "first-born among many brethren" (Rom. 8:29). Just as in a human family, the father provides an inheritance for his children (Prov. 13:22), so it is in the family of God:
Rom. 8:16-17: "The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs -- heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together."
The saints, then, are heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. Whatever Christ inherits, the saints will inherit also. What do Christ and the saints inherit together?
In Heb. 1:2, we learn that Christ has been "appointed heir of all things". The saints will share in this inheritance, for in the book of Romans, we read:
Rom. 8:32: "He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?"
The Greek word, pas, translated "all", means "all, every, the whole" (Strong's Concordance). The following scriptures show that "all things" refers to the universe:
Eph. 3:9: ... "and to make all people see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ" ...
Heb. 1:3: "He reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature, upholding the universe by his word of power." [RSV]
Thus, with Christ, the saints inherit the universe.
As the seed of Abraham, the saints inherit the world:
Rom. 4:13: "For the promise that he would be the heir of the world (Greek: kosmos) was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith."
Gal. 3:16: "Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, 'And to seeds', as of many, but as of one, 'And to your Seed', who is Christ."
Gal. 3:29: "And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."
Why is "the world" stated as the inheritance of the seed of Abraham? The Greek word "kosmos" means "orderly arrangement" (Strong's Concordance); and thus refers to the world as an ordered system in all its variety of created things (both animate and inanimate), and including all of its inhabitants. The original promise made to Abraham is noteworthy:
Gen. 22:17: "That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the seashore;" ... [KJV]
Thus, it is only in Christ that Abraham's seed will be so multiplied. This vast number refers to those redeemed in Christ, which in the fullness of time will include all humanity (1 Cor. 15:22). There is a connection here with Christ's words as recorded in John's gospel:
John 3:16: ... "for God did so love the world, that his Son -- the only begotten -- He gave, that every one who is believing in him may not perish, but may have life age-during." [Young]
God so loved the people of the world that He sent his Son to save them from sin and death. In context, this mention of the world -- the kosmos -- refers to all the people of the world throughout the ages, and confirms God's plan for the salvation of all mankind. As heirs of the world, the saints will judge the world (1 Cor. 6:2). Thus, the first-born saints participate in God's plan for the salvation of all mankind.
The saints inherit the kingdom of God. The inheritance of the kingdom is directly connected with the inheritance of incorruption and immortality:
1 Cor. 15:50,53: "Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. ... For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality."
Incorruption and immortality are related to eternal (aeonial) life. Incorruption and immortality refer to endless life. Aeonial life refers to the quality of this endless life; for aeonial life is that life which God imparts in accordance with his purpose or plan of the ages:
Rom. 2:5-7: ... "righteous judgment of God, who shall render to each according to his works; to those, indeed, who in continuance of a good work, do seek glory, and honour, and incorruptibility -- life age-during;" ... [Young]
In many translations of the Bible (KJV, NKJV, NIV, etc.) we read of "eternal life". Robert Young (Young's Literal Translation) speaks of "age-during life"; R.F. Weymouth (New Testament in Modern Speech) speaks of "life of the ages"; and Andrew Jukes (The Restitution of All Things) speaks of "aeonial life".
In scripture, God is called both the "King of the Ages" (1 Tim. 1:17; Weymouth) and the "God of the Ages" (Rom. 16:26; Weymouth). As such, He has a "purpose of the ages" (Eph. 3:11; Weymouth; footnote). According to this purpose, He imparts Life of the Ages to the saints.
Titus 3:5-7: ... "He did save us, through a bathing of regeneration, and a renewing of the Holy Spirit, which He poured upon us richly, through Jesus Christ our Saviour, that having been declared righteous by His grace, heirs we may become according to the hope of life age- during." [Young]
Andrew Jukes, in his Restitution of All Things, (pp. 65-68), speaks of "aeonial life":
"Aeonial or eternal life therefore is not, as so many think, the living on and on for ever and ever. It is rather, as our Lord defines it, a life, the distinctive peculiarity of which is, that it has to do with a Saviour, and so is part of a remedial plan. ... Nor does this affect the true eternity of bliss of God's elect, or of the redeemed who are brought back to live in God, and to be partakers of Christ's 'endless life' (Heb. 7:16), of whom it is said, "Neither can they die any more, for they are equal to the angels, and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection (Luke 20:36); for this depends on a participation in the divine nature, and upon that power which can 'change these vile bodies, that they may be fashioned like unto Christ's glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able to subdue even all things unto Himself'" (Phil. 3:21).
By Christ's sacrifice, the saints have been saved from sin and death (Rom. 8:2), and thus inherit salvation:
Heb. 1:14: "Are they [angels] not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?"
Paul refers to the saints as "heirs according to the promise" (Gal. 3:29). The saints inherit the promises:
Heb. 6:12: ... "that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises."
There are many promises mentioned in the New Testament, and all the promises of God are fulfilled in Christ:
1 Cor. 1:20: "For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us."
The Holy Spirit has come by promise (Eph. 1:13). The eternal (aeonial) inheritance of the saints has been promised also (Heb. 9:15).
Eph. 1:12-14: ... "for our being to the praise of His glory, even those who did first hope in the Christ, in whom ye also, having heard the word of the truth -- the good news of your salvation -- in whom also having believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of the promise, which is an earnest of our inheritance, to the redemption of the acquired possession, to the praise of His glory." [Young]
The indwelling Holy Spirit is the guarantee (earnest) which secures the inheritance of the saints "to the redemption of the acquired possession". Peter refers to the saints as a "people acquired" (1 Pet. 2:9; Young). The saints, then, are the "acquired possession" who will be redeemed "at the last trumpet" (1 Cor. 15:51-54). The saints have been both purchased and redeemed by the blood of Christ:
1 Cor. 7:23: ... "with a price ye were bought, become not servants of men" ... [Young]
Eph. 1:6-7: ... "He did make us accepted in the beloved, in whom we have the redemption through his blood" ... [Young]
By promise, the saints have received both the Holy Spirit and salvation. At the last trumpet, the saints will be changed or raised to immortality and incorruption (1 Cor. 15:51-52), and will thus inherit aeonial life. As heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, the saints will judge the world; and thus participate in God's plan for the salvation of all mankind. Even as Christ now sits at God's right hand in the heavenly places (Eph. 1:20; Heb. 1:3), the saints, with Christ, will reign in the kingdom of God, which encompasses the universe.
[All scriptural quotation are taken from the NKJV unless marked otherwise.]