Thus far in our
series of articles entitled WHY FUTURE EVENTS? we
have examined the first two things that God must do in
order to fulfill His purpose for history before the
history of this present earth ends. First, God must crush
His enemy, Satan, and remove him and his evil kingdom rule
from the earth. Second, God must restore His own
theocratic kingdom rule to this earth and have that rule
administered worldwide by His earthly representative, the
last Adam (Jesus Christ), during the last great age of
this present earth’s history. We noted that these two
things are directly related to the first two tragic
consequences of the first Adam defecting from God by
joining Satan in his revolt against God.
tragic consequence of the first Adam’s defection was as
follows: All of nature was subjected to a curse that
caused radical changes in the world (Genesis 3:17-19;
Romans 8:19-22). In light of this consequence, the third
thing that God must do in order to fulfill His purpose for
history is this: When He restores His theocratic kingdom
to this earth, He must remove this curse from nature and
restore it to its original condition that existed from the
time of creation until the fall of Adam.
In light of
this third necessity, the following statement of Jesus
Christ to His apostles is most significant: "Verily I say
unto you, That you which have followed me, in the
regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne
of his glory, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones,
judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Matthew 19:28). To
what was Jesus referring with the expression "the
regeneration"? In order to find the answer to that
question, we must look at the meanings of two words—one
English and the other Greek.
word "regenerate" is composed of two parts—re+generate.
The prefix re carries two meanings: "Back,
especially back to an original or former state
or position," and "Again;—used chiefly to form
words, especially verbs, of action, denoting in general
repetition (of the action of the verb), or
restoration (to a previous state)" (WEBSTER’S NEW
INTERNATIONAL DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE,
Second Edition, UNABRIDGED, p. 2070). The second part,
generate, means "To come into being; originate" (Ibid.,
p. 1044). The combination of the two parts, regenerate,
produces the following meanings: "To generate or produce
anew; to reproduce; re-create" or "To restore (a material)
to its original strength or properties" (Ibid., p.
In light of
these meanings, we can conclude that the idea involved in
the English word "regenerate" is as follows: There was an
original condition that existed for a period of time. But
later something happened that caused that original
condition to be lost for another period of time. Later
still, through regeneration, that original condition is
restored. Thus, "regeneration" refers to the restoration
of a lost original condition.
The Greek word
that is translated with the English word "regeneration" in
Matthew 19:28 is "palingenesia." It too is composed
of two parts—palin+genesia. The first part,
palin, carries the same two meanings as the prefix
re in the English word "regenerate": "back . . .
In expressions that denote a falling back into a
previous state or a return to a previous activity," and "again,
once more, anew when someone repeats something he has
already done. . . , or an event takes place in the same
(or a similar) manner as before, or a state of being
recurs in the same (or nearly the same) way as at first"
(William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich, A
Greek-English Lexicon Of The New Testament, p. 611).
The second part, genesia, is derived from the word
"genesis," which means "source, origin" or
"birth" (Joseph Henry Thayer, A GREEK-ENGLISH
LEXICON OF THE NEW TESTAMENT, Fourth Edition, pp. 474,
112). The combination of the two parts, palingenesia,
produces the following meanings: "new birth, renewal,
re-creation" and "denotes the restoration of a
thing to its pristine state, its renovation" (Ibid.,
p. 474). In a literal sense it could be translated "back
to genesis" or "genesis again."
examination of the meanings of the Greek word "palingenesia"
and its English translation word "regeneration" prompts
the conclusion that both refer to the restoration of a
lost original condition. In light of this, the comments of
several scholars concerning what Jesus meant by "the
regeneration" in Matthew 19:28 are significant.
Thayer wrote that Jesus referred to "that restoration
of the primal and perfect condition of things which
existed before the fall of our first parents, which
the Jews looked for in connection with the advent of the
Messiah, and which the primitive Christians expected in
connection with the visible return of Jesus from heaven" (Ibid.,
Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich indicated that Jesus had in
mind "the renewing of the world in the time of the Messiah
. . . in the new (Messianic) age or world"
(A Greek-English Lexicon Of The New Testament, p.
F. F. Bruce
asserted that Christ signified "a renovation of all nature
(cf. Romans 8:18-23)" that will accompany "the final
inauguration of the new age" (The Book of the Acts,
p. 91, footnote 36).
The fact that
Jesus used the definite article "the" before the word
"regeneration" indicates that He referred to the specific
restoration of nature to the original perfect condition it
had from creation until it was subjected to the curse as a
consequence of Adam’s defection from God. Jesus indicated
when that specific restoration would take place—in the
future, when He, as the Son of man (the last Adam), would
sit upon His throne and the apostles would "sit upon
twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel"
(Matthew 19:28). A parallel statement of Christ (Luke
22:30) indicates that this will be related to His future
Messianic kingdom, when He will administer God’s
theocratic rule over the world.
Since it was
nature’s subjection to the curse that caused it to lose
its original perfect condition, the restoration of that
original condition will require the removal of the curse
by Christ when God restores His theocratic kingdom rule to
the earth through Him in the future.
Now that we
have examined the three things that God must do in order
to fulfill His purpose for history before the history of
the present earth ends, the next article will begin to
look at how God will accomplish those three things in the
To pursue the
subject of how God works through time to accomplish His
purpose for history, order my book: What On Earth Is
God Doing?, from Loizeaux Brothers. P.O. Box 277,
Neptune, NJ 07754-0277. Tel. 1-800-526-2796