Paul contrasts the things that we can, and cannot, now see. The things that we can now see belong to this present world and the present age. However, both our present world, and the present age, will end*.
The present age means the time when evil forces continue to have power over the world. God permits that now, so that evil people may have an opportunity to turn to him*. However, of course God will not always allow evil forces to continue their evil work. Christ will return, and that will be the beginning of the new age.
The new age is when Christ will rule all things. He will begin his rule on this earth but then God will create a new heaven and earth*. Christ’s rule will be perfect, and it will never end. ‘The things that we cannot see’, therefore belong to the new age and the new world.
Paul has been discussing the troubles that God’s people have in this life. Those troubles are therefore the main meaning of ‘the things that we can see’. However, we can think of so many things that Paul’s words could describe. Our troubles belong only to the present world; they cannot last. The power of evil and cruel rulers belongs only to the present world; it cannot last. Even our possessions belong only to the present world, and so they will not last.
We need to concentrate on the things that really will last*. Paul refers especially to the glory, the splendid beauty and true greatness that God has prepared for his people*. That belongs to the new age when Christ will rule. So, it will never end.
Next part: The bodies of God’s people (5:1)
* See complete article for these Bible references.
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© 2016, Keith Simons.