What Scripture Says About Salvation
A Bible Study by Fred Kenison
Monograph 2: Eternal Life
The previous monograph showed that God gives spiritual life, zoe, to every person as they come into the world. The purpose of this chapter is to show how the Bible clearly distinguishes between life and eternal life.
Eternal life is a subject often discussed, but seldom studied in depth. The neglected part is the word eternal, which is an adjective describing the word life. To clarify this distinction we will examine some of the different words illustrating the concept of eternal as it applies to zoe, or spiritual life. We will show that the now of salvation, and the eternal of eternal life are the same thing.
There are at least three Hebrew words which are relevant to our study. The first word, oh phan, means
time from the notion of turning and revolving, compare periodus, and many words which denote a year, all of which properly signify a circle. (Gesenius, p. 661).
The word oh phan, when used to indicate year, or time, conveyed the idea of a turning, or a wheel. This Hebrew word used to express a cycle of time was the same word used for wheel. The equivalent Greek word is eniautos (nearly synonymous with chronos), indicating quantity, or duration, or measured time. Eniautos also means a circle of time, a year, a week, or perhaps an age.
Most people still see time as cyclical, something continually repetitious, like a mark placed on a wheel which appears with every revolution. The sun rises, and sets, and rises again. Even the normal flow of life supports this image. People are born, have children, and die; their children grow up, become parents, and die; thus the cycle is repeated time and time again. This is also represented by the seasons of the year. Therefore, it is not unusual that time should often be conceived as circular, not linear.
A second Hebrew word for time is yohm, which means time like a day (Gesenius, p. 341). The emphasis is not on length, but on indicating characteristic or qualitative time. Yohm was used to express time with a quality, such as the heat of day, inauguration day, or birthday. Neither the English nor Latin language have a word to express this meaning, and English-language people do not commonly conceive of time in this sense. Yet, this kind of qualitative time is the first one expressed in the Bible, when God made day and night, the first day.
The third Hebrew word is gheth, which means
time...specially a fit, or proper time, an opportunity, like kairos (Gesenius, p. 71).
The emphasis is on the idea of opportunity, proper time, or quality. The Greek equivalent is kairos, also used to express quality or opportunity. This is the word used to say, in its season, in its time, in due time, and similar phrases. Gheth, or kairos, always conveys a sense of change, even violent change, and fulfillment. There is no English word to express this sense of time; yet, this meaning of time is important in studying the scriptures.
Like Hebrew, the Greek language also has two aspects of time, complete with words to express them, while English does not. One Greek word for time, chronos, is used to express any quantity of measured time: a minute, a month, a year, or a decade. If time is measured in any way, the Greeks called it chronos. In English, it would be chronological time; in fact, most of the emphasis in English is on measured or cyclical time. While cyclical time is a necessary part of life, it is not the only sense of time used in the Bible. Furthermore, at some point, cyclical time, or measured time, will come to an end.
Revelation 10:6 says the angel,
sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer.
Cyclical time came into being at the creation. The seasons and times, while they appear cyclical to us, will come to an end because they will no longer be needed.
When God created the earth, the Bible speaks of it as a cycle of time, one turn of the wheel. Whether the six days of creation were actually eons, a man's lifetime, a decade, a year, a month, a week, or a 24-hour day will never be resolved by all our arguments. Whatever it was, it was one cycle of the wheel, so to speak. How long it took that wheel to turn one revolution was simply not answered in the scripture. Whatever it was, it was a measured cycle of time.
Since creation, we have existed in measured, chronos, time. We plant our crops at the proper time. We arise in the morning when the sun comes up and retire at night when the sun sets. We live and plan our lives around cyclical time, and we have become especially adept at dividing time. We even have atomic clocks which measure cyclical time so accurately that they will vary only one second in a thousand years, which enables us to pursue a space program.
Chronos, chronological time, is very important to the operation of our world. All creation works upon exact cyclical time. Chronos is the continuous flow of time circumscribed by the laws of nature, which God set into motion at the creation. We may safely conclude that chronos time was made for man's use.
God, however, exists in kairos time, not chronos time. Kairos time concerns characteristics, or quality. Kairos is subjective and experiential time, or things experienced; a continual now time. With kairos, the past, present, and future are not related chronologically, but are related qualitatively, or historically. Therefore, God's activities are not defined by chronos because chronos is measured time and God does not exist in measured time. God exists in kairos time, a constant now sense of time.
These two very different concepts of time are quite confusing to many English-speaking people. Kairos moves forward while chronos recedes. A person cannot stand still as far as kairos time is concerned, because the quality of life is constantly changing. But, while the objective sense of time (chronos) recedes if looked at as an event, the qualitative sense of this event (kairos) may remain. The chronos time of an event immediately slips into history, or kairos time. It becomes recoverable only by memory, and is thus kairos.
Consider this example. When two people marry, it is a dated event, it happened at some specific time. That event, when observed from the sense of measured time, recedes into the past. This is a characteristic of chronos time. The two people who were married have lived on in chronos. But, two happily married people will still experience that event over and over again in their minds. This is the historical or kairos sense of time. Chronos, the actual event, has receded and become history. Therefore, the recollection of it is in the kairos sense of time.
Kairos time progresses into the future. Furthermore, men can only live in the now time. We move into the future, but events remain in the past. This movement into the future can only be in a kairos sense of time. The objective now always recedes. But, observed from the subjective, qualitative, or experiential aspect, it is always in the present. In the example above, the actual marriage date has receded into history, or the past, but until death it may be subjectively experienced in kairos, or now time.
Chronos relates to the event, but kairos relates to the experiences of that event. For example, most evangelical Christians state a specific date when they consider they were saved. By doing so, they conceive of salvation as a chronological event. Actually, salvation is much broader than simply an event. Those who hold a chronological sense of salvation believe their salvation occurred when they first realized what God had accomplished for them. However, that was not their actual salvation time, but only their realization of it.
Another example concerns birth, which was a chronos event, a specific date. But, as the birthday recedes into history one experiences or recalls that past date continuously afterward in the now sense, or the subjective sense of kairos time. As children grow older, they develop an awareness of their birth; however, that awareness did not create their birth. When the Bible speaks of the many events of salvation, it is not speaking in a chronological sense of time, but in a sense of kairos, or qualitative time.
Salvation, as far as men are concerned, is a qualitative now, a subjective now, a kairos issue. It was wrought in the mind of God before the creation of the world, and exhibited to the world through Jesus Christ. Men experience it subjectively in a kairos sense of time, while the actual event itself has receded into the incalculable past.
People often wonder if these days are the end times. This question is usually framed from a sense of chronos since measured time is what people normally mean. But, by adding the quality of end to time, then it is no longer chronos but kairos, or qualitative time. Therefore, talking about the last days, is speaking of a qualitative sense of time, not measured time. The emphasis is on kairos time, which is quality, and in this sense a matter of fulfillment.
God did not intend that we should live our lives only in respect of chronos time, but also in regard to kairos. When Jesus came to live out his cyclical life on earth, his emphasis was on the quality of life rather than the length of life. In this sense, he thrust our thinking into the next age. Paul looked forward to the last days when Christ would come again. These last days are a quality of time. We should not speak of them in a sense of measured time, but in the sense of a quality of time. Christ said he would return and fulfill this age, and Paul was looking for him to come.
Many people consider Paul's expectation of the soon return of Jesus Christ as a mistaken belief. But, Paul was not mistaken. Paul knew the Greek language well, and when he spoke of the soon return of Jesus Christ, he was thinking of time in its qualitative sense, not measured time. Consequently, those who live their lives for God in the expectation of the soon return of Jesus Christ, live in a kairos sense of time, even though they may not be aware of it.
Anyone expecting the soon return of Christ lives, or has lived, in the last days. Anyone who lives in expectation of the fulfillment of this age and the coming of the next age, the Kingdom of God, is living in the last days. Nearly all who live in expectation of the Messiah's coming and the beginning of the next age, hold the hope and expectation of Jesus coming before their lifetime is over. Consequently, when the Bible speaks of the last days, it is not necessarily speaking in a chronological sense of time.
These comments on the two kinds of time will lay a foundation for future comments. Be sure to remember the difference between chronos and kairos time as we progress through future sections.
The scriptures speak of salvation in the now, or kairos, or today, sense of time. Hebrew 3:7 says,
Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness.
The phrase the day of temptation gives the word day a qualitative aspect. This is not speaking of a 24-hour period, but a whole group of experiences these people had. This was a kairos time in which forty years was treated as a day and observed from the qualitative sense.
II Corinthians 6:2 says,
(For he saith, I have heard thee in a time [kairos] accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time [kairos]; behold, now is the day of salvation.)
In this scripture, salvation is subjective, not objective. Paul used kairos, not chronos, to tell the Corinthians that this is the age, or day, of salvation. If we consider this as chronos time it distorts the context. Some preachers do this to frighten people into believing that one specific day may be their only opportunity to be saved.
Salvation is not a current event, but something you experience and live in a kairos, or qualitative sense. If you consider salvation as an event, it recedes into the past and there is no now quality to it.
It is sad to hear people refer to being saved as a past tense event. They often miss the joy intended by God in the now sense of salvation. The better part of salvation is the kairos, or qualitative sense, as we experience the quality of salvation throughout our lifetime. The term salvation does not speak of a specific chronos time, but a subjective kairos time. Now is the time of salvation, and now is the time to experience salvation.
Viewed from the kairos sense of time, salvation is projected into the future instead of receding into the past. We look forward to the salvation of tomorrow, and next week, and next month, and next year, and next decade, until the end of life. Looked at in the chronos sense, salvation is only something which has already happened, which does not engender hope.
In John 5:25, Jesus said,
Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.
Considering this verse from the English sense of time leads to confusion. The hour is coming is written in the future tense; and now is is written in the present tense. This is a direct contradiction in English grammar it cannot be both future and present tense. But if it is considered from the Greek sense of kairos time, instead of English chronological time, it becomes perfectly clear, and there is no contradiction!
Jesus said he had come to not only give life, but abundant life. There is an abundant life to be lived now although the hour is also coming. The dead can now hear the voice of the son of God. Now the abundant life may be lived, and yet, the hour is still coming.
John 13:31-32 says,
Therefore, when he (Judas) was gone out, Jesus said, Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him.
Here again is the dual time situation. Jesus said now I am glorified, and then he said, I shall be glorified. This was kairos time. Jesus lived his life in a kairos sense of time, not simply chronological. The only time he thought about was kairos, God's time. Jesus wanted his life to have the quality of God, an eternal quality. Although he came physically into chronos time, he chose to live mentally according to kairos time. We, living in the now of salvation, should have the same concern.
Romans 3:19‑21 exemplifies the now of salvation.
ANow we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets.
Paul frequently used the words, but now. He was saying now we can see, or understand, the righteousness of God, although the fulfillment of righteousness (the Kingdom of God, or the next age) is yet to come.
This righteousness of God has reached out to humanity through the sacrifice of Jesus. Now it can be experienced; now it can be known; now it can be seen; now it can be clearly understood. However, to truly understand the grace of God, we must first get past all the misconceptions taught by those who themselves do not understand the grace of God. The righteousness in these scriptures refers to the fact that God could justify the ungodly, or all men, and still be righteous. Truly, his righteousness has reached out to all men through the grace of God.
Romans 8:1 says:
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
The word condemnation comes from katakrima, which means a judgment of guilt. Again, Paul used the word now. This now is not any precise measure of time, but refers to this whole age of grace. This now will extend until the next age. [For further comments, see our book, Revealing the Truth in Romans.]
This lack of a guilty judgment is a culmination of the preceding chapters of Romans in which Paul demonstrated that although all men were guilty of sin, God had justified them by the death of Jesus Christ. Jesus bore the penalty and guilt of all the people on earth—past, present, and future. Therefore, in this age, all men are in Jesus, and God sees us as his children and loves as a Father.
If men refuse to walk according to the portion of holy spirit given them, they will be judged guilty of walking according to the flesh. However, this is not a sentence to an eternal hell, but a judgment of guilt that will be declared when their works burn at the judgment seat of christ.
To carry this a bit further, there is now, qualitatively, no judgment in our lives. God has given all judgment to his son, Jesus, and God is not now judging any man. Paul was giving people hope when he said now, in this age, there is no condemnation or judgment. This applies to all those who are in Christ Jesus, which includes everyone.
All men were put in Jesus (judicially) by his death. Experientially, men remain in Christ Jesus by their walk, by yielding their lives to holy spirit. Regardless of much preaching to the contrary, no one has ever become in Christ Jesus because he or she did something like believing, being baptized, or being born again.
I Thessalonians 3:8 says:
For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.
Again, salvation is now; it is only in the now that we experience salvation. Now we live, a subjective time.
We are spoken of as human beings. The word being is a verb form in the present tense. We can live only in the present; we cannot live in any other time frame than now. We cannot project our lives into the future, nor can we stop the present from receding into the past, in a chronological sense.
No wonder Paul spoke of salvation in the now. It is the only time that anyone has ever been given. Attempting to live in the future usually brings unrest and a sense of impending doom. Attempting to live in the past usually results in regrets for what was done or not done. God made us to be a now kind of creature, made after his image.
I Timothy 4:8 says:
For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.
Paul was speaking about the earnest of the life and the salvation. Now men have the promise, or the earnest, of that full life of the kingdom of God. However, the fullness of life is yet to come although it may be experienced to some extent now.
The word promise implies something to be done in the future, but Paul said it now is. Kairos time explains this apparent mix-up of tenses which appear in the English. The future of salvation, or its fulfillment, is yet to be, but it may be experienced in the now through that portion of holy spirit bestowed by God's grace.
Paul was considering salvation, or eternal life, in a subjective sense. If salvation is considered as objective, it may only be remembered as an event which has receded into the past and eventually becomes rather shadowy in its recall.
II Timothy 1:9 says:
Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.
Many people interpret the above as, which was given to us when we believed. According to that interpretation, much of salvation supposedly hinges upon our faith.
Paul, however, was saying that God saved us, and called us, not according to what we have done, but according to his own purpose and grace. This was all included in the sacrifice of Jesus, the Christ. What's more, this all occurred before the world began, before there was any chronos time.
Why do so many people have difficulty seeing God's grace, and insist that we have to do something? God has saved us, not by our works, but by his grace. When? Before chronos ever began, before the world came into being.
Paul continued in II Timothy 1:10:
But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
A little thought will easily show that the now of this scripture was not limited to the exact moment in which Paul spoke. Again, he was referring to kairos time. Paul was stating that God's actions of saving and calling men were done before the beginning of chronos, and is now in this age shown forth, or manifested by Jesus Christ.
What is manifested is life and immortality, two different words used for saved and called in the earlier part of the verse. We are given life and immortality by the grace of God, plus nothing and minus nothing. Our faith does not enter into this picture at all. There is a place for faith, but God gives life through his grace.
Immortality refers to life extended into the future through the constant now. God lives in a constant now and so will all those whom he has reconciled to himself. Of course, in the sense of immortality, or the constant now, there is actually no future or past; there is only a continual present. This continual present is the way God intends for people to live, in the light of the gospel which brings spiritual life and immortality into the revealing light.
Examining these scriptures on the now of salvation reveals that biblical time, or kairos time, or historical time, is when events are not measured by our sense of time, but time is measured by events. God's activities are not measured by chronos, because God acts outside chronological time, not within chronological time.
Both chronos and kairos are determined by the will of God, who is both creator and savior. Chronos time came into being when God created the cosmos. Kairos time is used by God to describe the now of salvation, the now of God. It is also the now of a believer's life, or, put another way, the now which is the eternal in eternal life.
Approaching this cyclical flow of time from another perspective may provide additional insight. The cyclical flow of time, or chronological time (described earlier by the concept of a wheel), is impinged upon, or acted upon, by God and assumes a direction toward a goal. When that happens, it becomes linear, or horizontal, instead of circular in action.
To illustrate, if a vehicle is lifted from the ground, the wheels could spin forever without going anywhere at all except round and round. The old saying What goes around, comes around accurately describes cyclical time. But God has, so to speak, cut the rim of the wheel and stretched it out in a horizontal position. Then, time is no longer cyclical, but linear, or horizontal.
Before coming to faith in God, we were living only in regard to chronological, or measured time. But, when we began to acknowledge what God had done—the salvation given to us, the things wrought in Christ for us before the foundation of the world and the beginning of chronological time—God began to act upon our wheel of time to make it linear. When God is allowed to act upon us, our lives are taken out of cyclical, chronological, measured time and turned into linear time which moves forward toward a goal instead of receding backward into history.
What goal does linear time move toward? Romans 8:22‑24 says:
For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
The redemption of our bodies is the goal towards which we are moving. This is a salvation of hope. God has acted upon our cyclical sense of time, and we have come to see God and to know God through his impact upon our lives.
People will live within cyclical time until God pushes them out of it into a qualitative sense of experiencing him. This will take place when they stop rebelling against God and surrender to the portion of holy spirit he has given to everyone. When they begin to experience God in their lives, they no longer live their lives only within chronos, but also outside of chronos. Then, they begin experiencing kairos, the everlasting now.
Now we live. Now we experience God. Now we experience events in our lives, allowing them to recede into the chronological past, while enjoying them in an everlasting now. Chronological time and kairos time intersect in the kingdom with the redemption of our bodies.
These two lines of time are not quite parallel, and they eventually intersect. They intersected once before in the life of Jesus, the Christ. When we observe this intersection of times in his life we are privileged with a glimpse of eternity. We see eternal life exemplified in Jesus. Why? Because both chronos and kairos intersected in him.
To some degree, we are all coming closer to that intersection. Both kinds of time are close enough to us to greatly influence our lives. Those who believe in God and his promises, as exemplified in Jesus, the Christ, put more emphasis upon the kairos of their lives than upon the chronos.
Many people think of eternity only as a length of time. They are ignorant of the qualitative aspect of eternity, which is its primary meaning. When people begin to realize that God has acted upon their lives, they begin to realize they had a beginning with God. They started before the world began, and they end with Jesus, the Christ, after the end of this age.
The fulfillment of this kairos life comes when our chronological and kairos life intersects at the coming of the Kingdom of God and the return of Jesus, the Christ. We have the earnest now, not the fullness; but, it is coming. We should look forward to the redemption of our bodies, when we will be totally redeemed.
Both our bodies, which follow chronos time, and our spirits, which follow kairos time, will be redeemed when these two lines of time intersect at the coming of Jesus. At the intersection of both kinds of time there is the resurrection and the redemption of our bodies. Now, we have a taste of this salvation, or of the next age, or the kingdom of God.
Whenever the Jews spoke of the salvation they meant the kingdom and the coming of the messiah. Many Christians believe the Jews were mistaken about the kingdom, that they did not understand that the kingdom was only a spiritual kingdom.
However, the Jews probably understood more than many present-day Christians who tend to spiritualize the kingdom, emasculating the real political, governmental aspect of the coming age of the kingdom of God.
The Jews, like Moses, simply misunderstood God's timing. Their understanding of the kingdom and the coming of a messiah, or christ, to rule over the earth was correct. It was their timing that was off.
Now we have a taste of salvation. This is explained further in Hebrews 6:4-6:
For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.
Notice that this refers to those who have tasted the good word of God and also tasted the world (age) to come. This is not the fullness of these things but only a taste. To the extent of tasting, we may now experience both the good word of God and the next age, the kingdom of God.
Hebrews 11:10 adds to this.
For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
This verse refers to Abraham who was pictured as a pilgrim (Hebrews 11:9), or someone just passing through. He had a hope for this special city made by God.
Even as Abraham did, so do the followers of Jesus Christ have this hope. We are sojourners with a hope. We can now get a taste of these things and experience them to some degree through the portion of holy spirit which God gave us.
In the next age, those who come forth with a body like that of Christ will be able to experience the fulfillment of their hope in kairos time. They will not live in chronological time, but in kairos, which is the quality of the life of God. They will not know chronos time. They will experience the fullness of salvation as they rule and reign with Jesus, the Christ.
Those who believe the word of God, of which they can now only taste, are travelers in a time sequence which many have never heard of. Physically, they exist in chronos time, but mentally, in faith, they live in kairos time.
Hebrews 11:13‑16 describes the hope which is circumscribed by kairos.
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. (Kairos, or hope time, made them strangers). For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.
Believers are sojourners because they have hope. They have tasted of both the word of God and the power of the next age. Tasting these produces a hope for the fulfillment of these things. When the two lines of time (chronos and kairos) intersect, then comes the redemption of their bodies, and the fullness of the kingdom of God. Then, too, comes the presence of the resurrected Jesus as King of kings and Lord of lords to rule over the earth with a rod of iron. Then, too, will the believers who have remained faithful rule and reign with him.
Please understand the point that qualitative time, kairos time, takes place in the now of decision on a moral and personal plane. To live in kairos time requires making a decision. This decision is implied in the now of salvation described earlier.
There must be decision and faith, which is both objective and subjective. Faith is objective when you come to God and see him as a God who loves you, and who gave Jesus Christ to die for you. Understanding this should cause you to exercise faith in God, which then allows God to work in your life to bring you beyond a cyclical, chronological life, into linear, kairos time.
Those who allow God to act upon their lives will be spiritual people. However, those who live only in a cyclical sense will be fleshly, worldly people. They will be in the same time cycle as the world and creation. They will have no hope except in this life and that makes them the most miserable of people.
The only decision we must make is whether or not to stop rebelling against God. When we stop rebelling against God, a relationship develops with God in which the kingdom will become a reality of hope. This hope entails being raised with a body like that of Christ to rule and to reign with him. It is God working in us that brings this hope about. If we do not hinder this work, entering the kingdom is nearly automatic. But, to stop rebelling requires an act of the will, enabled by holy spirit, as we yield our lives to God, allowing him to work effectively through us.
In the now, chronos is interrupted by God coming to man. This interruption of cyclical, chronological time, brings about kairos time. The issue is whether we will live our lives according to chronos, or according to kairos; according to the world, or according to God. By yielding to God, we allow him to interrupt our cyclical, chronos time, which brings about a dramatic change. Otherwise, the cares of life, chronos time, can choke out time for God, kairos time.
The Bible teaches that we may have both time lines running nearly parallel to each other throughout the chronos time of our lives. In that case, we allow chronos time to rob us of all our kairos time, or time with God, and thereby of hope, producing an intolerable situation.
God will provide, and has already provided, the opportunity for our lives to include kairos time. But, we must make the decision for this to happen. We must decide how we will live our lives. We must not allow anything to take over our lives so completely that God is locked out. If so, he will not be allowed to act upon our lives and we will lose the precious element of hope.
Ecclesiastes 1:4‑9 speaks quite explicitly of chronos time.
One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever. The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose. The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits. All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again. All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.
Many people cite this scripture as a reason for saying that, history repeats itself. But each of these events has receded into time and may be recalled only in a sense of kairos time. The author of Ecclesiastes, was speaking only of the cyclical sense of time, chronos, without the impact of God upon it.
Ecclesiastes 3:1‑8 speaks about kairos time. This is one of the best comparisons of the two senses of time to be found in any one book of the Bible.
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
This passage begins by speaking of a season, which is not measured time, but kairos time, a time with quality. A further illustration is the phrase, a time to be born, or to change into an adjectival phrase, a borning time. So, too, is there a dying time, a planting time, a plucking up time, a killing time, a healing time, a breaking down time, a laughing time and a mourning time. The important part is the reference to the sense of quality of the times mentioned; not chronos, but kairos.
Ecclesiastes 3:15 is another apparent contradiction if viewed from a chronological sense of time.
That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past.
Here, the English translation equates both the past tense of time and the present tense of time. This is simply not possible in chronological time. But, it certainly is possible in kairos, or qualitative time. Chapter 1 of Ecclesiastes spoke of things in chronological sequence, but here they are spoken of in a sense of quality, or kairos. The past, present, and future tenses of chronos simply do not fit those things in Chapter 3.
Believers are expected to yield their lives to God, and allow him to live in them through holy spirit. Physically, they will continue to live in chronos time and will continue to grow old; but in kairos time they will live in hope of a continuous now in the presence of God.
Acts 1:6‑7 says,
When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.
Jesus was telling his disciples that it was not for them to know when the kingdom was to be restored, either in chronos (times), or kairos, (seasons). It is only for God to know. Seasons refers to the time of fulfillment. It is certain that fulfillment will come, but only God knows when.
It is at the point of God's love that chronos is lifted from a mere spatial dimension into an eternal, or kairos, dimension. When God's love becomes active in our lives, then kairos time comes into creation. Kairos time, which is God's activity, acts upon our lives and this is outside the scope of chronos. We are lifted out of a chronological aspect into that of kairos.
To see just how much of an impact this can have, examine your life since becoming a disciple of God. You will probably note that you are walking with God, spending time with God, studying the word of God, and are more dedicated to having God in your life. You will probably also note how much more your life is based upon the hope and quality of life, rather than upon the chronological time of that life.
What is eternal life? It is that quality of life which partakes of the life of God. Of course, only God is eternal in the true sense of the word, because he is without sin. Sin is a weakness, and brings death. Therefore, as all men have sinned, any eternal life which they have is derived from God. God's life is based completely on the concept of quality, kairos.
The life of God is exemplified by love. When the love of God is active in your life, it lifts you out of the sense of chronos time and sets your hope upon that promise of God about the future, the constant now, kairos.
The English language does not have a word to describe this dimension of time. The Bible translators called it eternal life. Eternal is an adjective, a modifier of life, and therefore describes a quality of life, zoe. The main emphasis is on quality, not duration.
In the New Testament, the term everlasting life occurs ten times; the term eternal life occurs 26 times; the term life everlasting occurs four times; and the term life eternal occurs four times. Looking at several of these scriptures will illustrate how eternal is a now, kairos, issue.
And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.
Jesus said that to be perfect, or mature, we need to move beyond the worldly concept of time with its emphasis upon worldly things such as wealth. You cannot be a spiritually mature person and concentrate primarily on chronos time. The rich young ruler made a poor decision. Following Jesus would have changed his emphasis from chronos to kairos.
The difference between chronos and kairos is very similar to Paul's argument about the soulish, fleshly life versus the spiritual life. Both chronos-kairos and soulish-spiritual express the same issue, but from different angles. If you want to enter into zoe, spiritual life, you must change your emphasis to what is really important, the quality of life lived in the sense of kairos. To do this requires ending your rebellion to God, and allowing holy spirit to dominate your life.
This chronological life will soon end in death, and only the qualities of kairos will survive. The qualities of kairos come about through those actions which God does through you, and it is only those things which will survive the fire at the judgment seat of Jesus Christ.
We must each decide what will be the emphasis of our lives. Will we trust God to provide for us, and live our lives in a kairos sense of time? Or, will we insist in running our own lives in chronos time? The sooner we decide to stop rebelling and surrender our lives to God, the better for us. That allows God to conform us to the image of his son, and help us act in love toward God and our fellow men.
Matthew 25:46 says,
And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
Both everlasting and eternal come from the same word, aionion, which is unmeasured time, and thus falls into kairos. Therefore, the sense of eternal is that of quality, a constant now. Exactly why the translators used two different words is an unanswered question. Nevertheless, both the punishment and the life are described in the qualitative kairos sense. Aionion emphasizes quality, not duration.
Everlasting punishment does not mean a hell which goes on forever in a chronological sense, although that is the common interpretation. Rather, it is qualitative, a punishment (reward or gift) from God. So, too, is eternal life a reward or gift. Eternal punishment may be meted out to some who are in the midst of others being blessed.
Chapter 58 of Isaiah sets forth the blessing of righteousness and the reward of punishment quite well. [See our book, The Apocalypse of Revelation for additional comments on this point.]
But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.
This scripture speaks of eternal life as being in the age to come. Jesus was talking about the fulfillment exemplified by the kingdom of God. In Matthew, he referred to the now sense of the present life of the rich young ruler, but here he spoke in the now of its fulfillment. This could only be done in kairos time. Remember, the kingdom is the intersection of chronos and kairos time.
That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
John was speaking of both perishing and eternal life as qualitative concepts. Verse 3:15 does not say that whoever believes comes to life, but that he will not perish. In other words, he that believes will continue to live, he shall have eternal life. To believe in Jesus Christ, means to believe in what God accomplished for us through Jesus Christ.
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
Might be saved is written in the aorist subjunctive passive. In the Greek language this is nearly synonymous with the future indicative—the prophetic tense—indicating something which is certain to happen. This does not mean perhaps it will be, or might be, or could be, which would be implied in English; this is stated as a fact which will certainly happen. It was written in the subjunctive only because it had not yet come to pass. But, it will come to pass. The world will be saved through him.
He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
Believing allows God to act upon our lives and to use our lives as he chooses. It allows God to change the emphasis of our lives. Anyone who rejects the Son and what he did will not change from an emphasis upon the chronos time and the things of this worldly life. They will never understand the things of the spiritual, kairos, or eternal life, and will abide under the wrath of God.
This wrath of God will eventually destroy everything unbelievers have done in this life; it will be the hay, stubble, and wood burned up in the fire at the judgment seat of Christ. Such unbelievers will never be removed from the cyclical sense of time in this life, and they will die without hope. They simply will not allow God to transfer them from circular chronos time into linear kairos time, which would provide hope for the redemption of their bodies. This hope is for a blessed life after death, a life with the quality of God's life which will continue in a constant now.
But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
Again, the everlasting (eternal) life will be a now life, a life of peace with God.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
Notice that Jesus was telling people to believe on him who sent me, or God. So often people are told to believe in Jesus, without even mentioning God. Many even teach that Jesus is God, so people do not see any contradiction. [For a thorough discussion of this point, see Monographs 10-14 in this study.]
However, it was not God who died on the cross; God cannot die. Jesus, the Messiah, died on the cross because of God's love for humanity. Jesus could die, and did die, and God raised him from the dead.
Again, the emphasis is that believing, or faith, is the precedent to gaining a linear sense of time. Kairos time is always predicated as a precursor to eternal life. Jesus was speaking of passing from death to life. He was speaking of death in the sense of one who lives only in relationship to chronos. Zoe, spiritual life, must be lived in linear kairos time, which is living a life through and for God, a life of love for God and other people.
And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
Again, eternal life follows believing, or faith.
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
Again, these two verses are speaking of life in the kairos time. Everyone dies in chronological time.
II Corinthians 4:18:
While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
The things we can see pass away because they are in the creational time of chronos, while spiritual things, those we cannot see, are eternal or kairos.
I John 1:2:
(For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)
Jesus manifested, or showed openly, what eternal life was all about. Before coming to this earth, Jesus was with the Father as the Logos, or Word. When he came in the flesh, he displayed what qualitative life, the life of God, or eternal life, was all about. In Jesus, the kairos time of life was projected into that of chronos.
In I John 1:3, John spoke of fellow-shipping, or worshiping, with God. This was done in kairos time, not in chronos time. God is worshiped in spirit and truth, neither of which is circumscribed by chronological time.
In verse 1:4, John said he wrote these things that their joy might be full. If you want joy in your life, just begin to live a now kind of life, an eternal kind of life. Do not focus on the things which are of chronos, but on those of kairos.
In Philippians 3:13, Paul said,
Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before. In Matthew 6:25, Jesus said, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
Truly, no one can live in the past, no matter how hard they may try. By the same token, no one can live in the future of chronos time no matter how much effort they put into it. Why? Because we are a now kind of creation, an eternal kind of creation. We are human beings; a present tense kind of creation which actually has no life except in the now of kairos, quality of time.
To try living only chronologically thwarts God's purpose for life. Just live now, today, this moment. A now life will not be one of worry. Whatever you may have done in the past, or whatever you may do in the future, is of no importance to the now life, eternal life. This is the life of peace, the life of glory, the life of worshiping God. It is a life infected with agape, love, wishing the best for others. You will not be afraid to let your guard down; nor will you be afraid to be loved and to love others.
We are chronological creatures, but love can lift us out of chronos into kairos. Forget the past. Live now. Live in love. Love is demonstrated by weakness. To experience the power of love in our lives, we must become weak, just as Jesus became weak. He endured the cross for all, and in doing so he demonstrated the greatest love ever shown. This happened because God loved humanity. He wanted humanity to be projected out of chronos time into kairos time, to become spiritually minded instead of materially minded.
Thus far, we have shown that the now of salvation, and the eternal of eternal life are one and the same. Perhaps this will help clarify some of the scriptures as you read your Bible with new insight. Remember, the grace of God bestowed zoe, spiritual life, upon everyone who comes into the world.
God has also bestowed upon everyone a portion of holy spirit enabling them to believe God. By doing so, they will be projected into kairos time, where they may meet God and worship him in spirit and truth. Otherwise, without believing God, they doom themselves to rebel against him and live only in chronos time, emphasizing the material things of the world.
# God gives spiritual life (zoe) to every person as they come into the
# The "now" of salvation, and the "eternal" of eternal life are the same
thing. The emphasis is not on length, but on characteristic or
# When God created the earth, the Bible speaks of it as a cycle of time,
one turn of the wheel. How long it took that wheel to turn one
revolution was simply not answered in the scripture. Whatever it was,
it was a measured cycle of time.
# We may safely conclude that chronos time was made for man's use.
# Kairos time concerns characteristics, or quality.
# God exists in kairos time, a constant "now" sense of time.
# Those who hold a chronological (chronos) sense of salvation believe their
"salvation" occurred when they first realized what God had
accomplished for them. However, that was not their actual salvation
time, but only their realization of it.
# Salvation, as far as men are concerned, is a qualitative "now," a
subjective "now," a kairos issue. It was wrought in the mind of God
before the creation of the world, and exhibited to the world through
# The “last days” concern a quality of time. We should not speak of
them in a sense of measured time.
# When the Bible speaks of the last days, it is not necessarily speaking in
a chronological sense of time.
# Anyone who lives in expectation of the fulfillment of this age and the
coming of the next age, the Kingdom of God, is living in the "last
# Salvation is something you experience and live in a kairos, or
# Now is the time of salvation, and now is the time to experience
# Looked at in the chronos sense, salvation is only something which has
already happened, which does not engender hope.
# Jesus wanted his life to have the quality of God, an eternal quality.
Although he came physically into chronos time, he chose to live
mentally according to kairos time. People living in the "now" of
salvation, should have the same concern.
# Jesus bore the penalty and guilt of all the people on earth C past,
present, and future. Therefore, in this age, all men are in Jesus. If they
walk in spirit they will never have any judgment of guilt before God. If
men refuse to walk according to the portion of holy spirit God gave
them, they will be judged guilty of walking according to the flesh.
However, this is not a sentence to hell, but a judgment of guilt that will
be declared when their works burn at the judgment seat of Christ.
# We were all put in Jesus Christ (judicially) by his death. We remain in
Christ (experientially) by yielding our lives to the guidance of holy
# The future of salvation, or its fulfillment, is yet to be, but it may be
experienced in the "now" through that portion of holy spirit bestowed
by God's grace.
# God saved us, and called us, not according to what we have done, but
according to his own purpose and grace. This was all included in the
sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
# God's actions of saving and calling men was done before the world
began, before there was any chronos time, and is now in this age
shown forth, or manifested, by Jesus Christ.
# We were given life and immortality by the grace of God, plus nothing
and minus nothing. Our faith does not enter into the picture at all.
# Immortality refers to life extended into the future through the constant
now. God lives in a constant now and so will all those whom he has
reconciled to himself.
# Many people think of eternity only as a length of time. They are
ignorant of the qualitative aspect of eternity, which is its primary
# The decision we must make is whether or not to stop rebelling against
# When we stop rebelling against God, a relationship develops with God
in which the kingdom will become a reality of hope. This hope entails
being raised with a body like that of Christ to rule and reign with him.
# To stop rebelling requires an act of the will, enabled by holy spirit, as
we yield our lives to God, allowing him to work effectively through us.
# Believers are expected to yield their lives to God, and allow him to live
in them through holy spirit.
# Eternal life is that quality of life which partakes of the life of God.
# The life of God is exemplified by love. When the love of God is active in
your life, it lifts you out of the sense of chronos time and sets your hope
upon that promise of God about the future, the constant now, kairos.
The English language does not have a word to describe this dimension
of time. The Bible translators called it eternal life.
# Eternal is an adjective, a modifier of life, and therefore describes a
quality of life, zoe. The main emphasis is on quality, not duration.
# The difference between chronos and kairos is very similar to Paul's
argument about the soulish, fleshly life versus the spiritual life. Both
chronos-kairos and soulish-spiritual express the same issue, but from
# Everlasting punishment does not mean a hell which goes on forever in
a chronological sense, although that is the common interpretation.
Rather, it is qualitative, a punishment (reward or gift) from God. So,
too, is eternal life a reward or gift. Eternal punishment may be meted
out to some who are in the midst of others being blessed.
# The next age, the kingdom of God, is the intersection of chronos and
# The grammar of John 3:17 indicates that the world will be saved
through Jesus, no maybe about it.
# It was not God who died on the cross; God cannot die. Jesus, the
Messiah, died on the cross because of God's love for humanity. Jesus
could die, and did die; and God raised him from the dead.
# The grace of God bestowed zoe, spiritual life, upon everyone who comes
into the world. God has also bestowed upon everyone a portion of holy
spirit enabling them to believe God.
© 2009, Fred Kenison and Merrill Douglass. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.