Already, but Not Yet

An interesting concept in theology that is not discussed enough is what is referred to as the “Already, but Not Yet.” Certain things in the New Testament had already been fulfilled or put in place, but in another sense were still future. Consider these examples from God’s inspired word:

  • The Kingdom was already present (Luke 11:20; Revelation 1:9), but it was also not yet (Luke 21:31-32). The first century believers were already in the kingdom (Mark 1:14-15; Luke 10:8-9; 11:20; 17:21; Colossians 1:13), and yet they were still waiting for the kingdom to be brought in at Christ’s Second Coming—the future Parousia (Matthew 16:27-28; Luke 21:31).
  • Christ “abolished” death at his First Advent (2 Timothy 1:10), but it was not yet, since at his Parousia—He would “destroy” death (1 Corinthians 15:23-26).
  • Believers were already saved (Romans 10:9-10; Ephesians 5:2; Titus 3:5; Hebrews 9:26), yet they were waiting for the Parousia to be saved (Matthew 24:13; Romans 13:11; Hebrews 9:28; 1 Peter 1:3-9).
  • Whoever believed in Christ already had eternal life (John 3:16; 11:26; 1 John 5:13), yet full possession of it would be available in the age to come (Mark 10:30).
  • Believers were already redeemed (Ephesians 1:7; Hebrews 9:12), and yet were eagerly awaiting it (Luke 21:28; Ephesians 4:30).
  • Sins of believers had already been forgiven (1 Corinthians 15:3; Hebrews 9:26; 1 John 2:12), and yet sins would be forgiven when the full measure of the Gentiles would come in (Romans 11:25-27).
  • Believers in the first century were already adopted as sons (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:4-6), but were eagerly awaiting their adoption as sons (Romans 8:23).
  • The hour had already come (John 5:25; 1 John 2:18), yet the hour was still future (Matthew 24:36; John 5:28-29).
  • Believers had already been spiritually raised up (“resurrected”) as new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:6; Colossians 2:12-14), but still awaited resurrection of their glorified, immortal bodies (Acts 24:14-15; 1 Corinthians 15:35–44).
  • Believers had already been sanctified (1 Corinthians 6:11), but were waiting for it to be brought to completion at the Second Coming (Philippians 1:6).
  • The “old” had passed away (2 Corinthians 5:17b), but the “old” was still growing old and ready to pass away (Hebrews 8:13).
  • Believers were already seated in heavenly places with Jesus (Ephesians 2:6), but were waiting to “put on” their heavenly dwelling (2 Corinthians 5:2).
  • Believers had already come to the heavenly city (Hebrews 12:22), but the city was “about to” come (Hebrews 13:14, literal translation of the Greek word “mello”).
  • We were sealed (past tense) with the promised Holy Spirit working in us, but in the same sentence Paul said that they had not acquired possession of it—future tense (Ephesians 1:13-14).
  • Believers had already received God’s grace (Romans 5:2), but were expecting it in the future at Christ’s “revelation” (1 Peter 1:13).
  • Believers had already received their inheritance (Ephesians 1:11), but were expecting to receive it in the future (Colossians 3:23-24).
  • Believers were already righteous in one sense (James 5:16), but were eagerly waiting for the hope of righteousness (Galatians 5:5).
  • Believers had already been sanctified (1 Corinthians 6:11), but were waiting for sanctification at the coming of the Lord (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
  • Jesus had (past tense) put ALL THINGS “under his feet” (Ephesians 1:22) but He had not yet put his enemies “under his feet” (1 Corinthians 15:25).
  • The new, heavenly Jerusalem was already a reality when the book of Hebrews was written (Hebrews 12:22-23), but the final fulfillment of it was soon after John was writing Revelation (Revelation 21:2).

What’s going on here? The final fulfillment of these promises by God would come at the so-called Second Coming and the “age to come.” The age to come is a reference to the final dissolution of the Old Covenant Age in AD 70, ushering in the fullness of the New Covenant Age (which had already begun at Christ’s ministry on earth). Of course, our ultimate reward of heaven comes at the time of death of the believer.

The conclusion is inescapable. Even our salvation, apparently, was not complete at the cross! Christ would finish his work of salvation/redemption at his Parousia. Even futurists must acknowledge this unmistakable biblical truth. Actually, futurists and preterists alike acknowledge that there are three points of our salvation: (1) at the cross, (2) at the point of belief, and (3) at the Parousia. Sadly, futurists fail to grasp that Christ’s work of salvation is totally complete. Our salvation now only rests upon our faith.

This is really good news. There is no lingering doubt or contingency. Christ’s work in the first century is complete.

Futurists want to place thousands of years between Christ’s atoning death at the cross and his completion of salvation. But that is not how the Bible describes these things. There are over 100 passages in the New Testament that affirm the imminence of the fulfillment of the “last days” events. And these were associated with the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in AD 70.

CONCEPT: A “prolepsis” is a figure of speech in which a future act or development is represented as if already accomplished or existing. When we say that a man is “as good as dead” because of a certain fate awaiting him, though at the moment he is walking about, we are speaking proleptically. The believer’s association with the death and resurrection of Christ are at points described as fully accomplished, notwithstanding that the full implications may be manifested in due season. The certainty that God’s work in redemption is efficacious is sufficient warrant for the writers of scripture, on occasion, to describe it as accomplished.

For more, see my article entitled “Completed Redemption” here:

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