Sufferings and Glory
“Sufferings” and “glory” go hand in hand throughout Scripture. The former always precedes the latter, and the latter cannot be realized apart from the former. Scripture records the sufferings of Christ on behalf of Christians (1 Peter 2:21), and Scripture also records the sufferings of Christians with respect to Christ’s sufferings (1 Peter 1:11). Glory must then follow, for Scripture inseparably links sufferings and glory.
On the road to Emmaus, following His resurrection, Christ rebuked two disciples whose eyes were still closed to the truth concerning His sufferings and glory:
Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!
Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” (Luke 24:25, 26)
The sufferings of Christ refer to the events surrounding “Calvary,” and the glory of Christ will be revealed in the coming “Kingdom.” The Son’s ministry in the interim, as our great High Priest, has its basis in the former, with a view to the latter.
The blood shed at Calvary is presently on the mercy seat in the heavenly sanctuary, and Christ is presently ministering in the sanctuary for those in whom the Spirit has breathed life on the basis of His finished work at Calvary; and Christ’s present work as High Priest is with a view to that coming day — that day when He will appear in His glory, bringing “many sons to glory” with Him (Hebrews 2:9, 10; 1 Peter 5:1-4).
On the Mount of Transfiguration, Peter, James, and John “saw His glory” (Luke 9:32). This event, following the mention of both the sufferings of Christ and the sufferings (of Christians) with respect to Christ’s sufferings (Matthew 16:21-27), pertains specifically to “the Son of man coming in His kingdom . . . after six days [after 6,000 years]” (Matthew 16:28-17:5; 2 Peter 1:16-18; 3:8). For “the joy [the day when He shall rule and reign] that was set before Him,” Christ “endured the cross, despising the shame [not that ‘the shame’ was a small thing, but ‘the joy’ was so much greater that He refused to consider ‘the shame’], and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).
The sufferings of Christians with respect to Christ’s sufferings and the glory that is to follow in 1 Peter 1:11 appear in this same framework in Romans 8:17-23, with a condition set forth in verse seventeen:
. . . if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.
The thought is then continued in verse eighteen with the statement:
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
The time when this glory will be revealed is then specifically stated in verses nineteen through twenty-three to be following the adoption, when the sons of God are revealed for all to behold.
For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. . . .”
God is about to bring forth a new order of “sons” (Christians) to replace the present order of “sons” (angels). This new order is referred to in Hebrews 2:10 as “many sons” who will be brought to glory; and these individuals — presently “children,” or “sons” awaiting the adoption (Romans 8:14-23) — are to look upon their present sufferings in the same manner that Christ looked upon His sufferings (Hebrews 12:2).
(Along with being called “children” [Greek:: teknon], Christians are also referred to in a present sense as being “sons” [Greek: huios] three different places in the New Testament [Romans 8:14; Galatians 3:26; 4:6, 7; Hebrews 12:5-8]. In each instance, the context deals with different aspects of present faithfulness in the Christian life, with a view to faithful Christians being among those adopted into a firstborn status following events surrounding the judgment seat.
At the end of the present dispensation, all Christians will be resurrected, or removed from the earth without dying, in the same type of body in which Christ was raised from the dead. Christ was raised in a spiritual body rather than a natural [soulical] body [cf. 1 Corinthians 15:42-44]. He was raised in a body of flesh and bones, with the life-giving, animating principle of the body being the Spirit of God rather than the blood [which He had previously “poured out” (Isaiah 53:12)].
Christ though was not raised in a glorified body. He was raised in a type of body that possessed capabilities outside the scope possessed by a natural [soulical] body [e.g., He could appear at a certain place and disappear from that place, moving to another place, at will (Luke 24:31, 36)]. But there was no Glory connected with His resurrection body until “a cloud” received Him out of the disciples’ sight at the end of His forty-day post-resurrection ministry, when He was “received up into glory” [Acts 1:9; 1 Timothy 3:16].
This can be easily seen, for example, by noting the differences in two of Christ’s post-resurrection appearances. He appeared to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus later on the same day that He was raised from the dead [appearing apart from His Glory (Luke 24:13-31)], and He appeared a few years later to Paul on the road to Damascus [in connection with His Glory (Acts 9:1-5; 26:12-15)]. At Christ’s former appearance, it is apparent that there was nothing visibly different about His overall appearance that distinguished him from any other man. However, at His latter appearance, there was a major difference in this respect. There was a brightness surrounding His appearance that was above that of the noon-day sun [Acts 26:13; cf. Revelation 1:16].
When Christians are removed from the earth at the end of the present dispensation, they will receive bodies like Christ’s body at the time of His resurrection — a spiritual body of flesh and bones, apart from the Glory. The “redemption” of the body will then occur at a later time, synonymous with “the adoption” [Romans 8:23], not in connection with the removal of Christians from the earth at the end of the present dispensation.
[The manner in which the Greek text is worded in Romans 8:23, the redemption of the body and the adoption are synonymous. One is simply another way of saying the same thing as the other.
“…waiting out adoption, (namely) the ransoming of our body” (Lenski).
“Patiently awaiting son-placing, the redemption of our body” (Wuest).]
The adoption of Christians can occur only following events surrounding the judgment seat of Christ, for the adoption has to do with sons occupying the position of “firstborn” [firstborn sons] — something that cannot occur preceding a separation of Christians [the overcomers from the non-overcomers], based on decisions and determinations rendered at the judgment seat. Christians having been shown faithful at the judgment seat, realizing the salvation of their souls/lives, will be adopted as firstborn sons. But such will not be, for it cannot be, the case for unfaithful Christians, those having forfeited their souls/lives.
According to Romans 8:18-23, adoption as firstborn sons is in connection with rulership [in the human realm, only firstborn sons can rule in this manner within the theocracy]. And the unfaithful, though possessing spiritual bodies of flesh and bones, will be in no position to rule and cannot be adopted into a firstborn status. They can only appear as the ones seen in Hebrews 12:8 — as individuals who had previously rejected God’s child-training [vv. 5-7] and cannot now be His sons [the sons seen in Romans 8:19, adopted into a firstborn status in v. 23].
[The word “chastisement” (KJV) in Hebrews 12:5-8 is from noun and verb forms (paideia, paideuo) of a Greek word that means “child-training.” Then, the word translated “bastard” (KJV) in v. 8 is nothos in the Greek text. The word, contextually refers to those who reject God’s child-training and cannot be His sons.
“Sonship,” with a view to rulership, is in view. And only those capable of spiritual perception, only those born from above, would be in a position to reject God’s child-training. Thus, the unsaved cannot be in view; nor is eternal salvation even the subject at hand.]
Only following the adoption can the Glory be connected with the body, with man brought back into a full realization of that which Adam forfeited at the time of the fall [at the end of six days, at the end of 6,000 years]. Man, following the adoption and the corresponding restoration of the Glory will once again be enswathed in a covering of Glory and in a position to be further clothed in regal garments [refer to the text in parenthesis on page 6 in Chapter 1 of this book for additional information in this realm].
Thus, the redemption of the body in Romans 8:23 can have nothing to do with the change in the body that will occur when Christians are removed from the earth at the end of the dispensation. As shown by the context, the redemption of the body in this verse can only be a reference to that future time when “the glory . . . shall be revealed in us,” in Christians; it can only be a reference to that future time when “the sons of God,” a new order of Sons — Christ with His co-heirs [overcoming Christians, adopted and properly arrayed] — will be manifested for all to behold [vv. 18, 19].
Christians are to enter into “the fellowship [be like-minded] of His [Christ’s] sufferings” if they are to have a part in “the resurrection [‘out-resurrection’] of the dead” and receive “the prize of the upward call (KJV: ‘high calling’) of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:10, 11, 14). Christ “suffered for us [‘on our behalf’], leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps [i.e., that Christians should enter into His sufferings through experiencing sufferings for Christ’s sake themselves]” (1 Peter 2:21).
1 Peter 1:11, pertaining to Christians rather than to Christ, should literally read:
. . . when He testified beforehand the sufferings with respect to Christ [i.e., with respect to Christians entering into Christ’s sufferings], and the glory that should follow.
Then, in complete accord with the established biblical pattern, future glory will always follow present sufferings. The “glory that will follow” pertains to “the salvation of your souls” (vv. 9, 10) which will occur after “the genuineness [KJV: ‘trial’ (approval)] of your faith” (v. 7) — an approval that will be rendered at the judgment seat of Christ.
In this respect, when being tested and tried during the present day and time, Christians are told,
Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you;
but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. (1 Peter 4:12, 13; cf. James 1:2-12)
(Taken from Salvation of the Soul, Chapters 4 and 8)