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4. IDEAS ABOUT THE STATE AFTER DEATH.

The Fourth Evangelist, by adopting the view that the visible world is only a perishable copy of the invisible, at the same time introduced a revolution in the ideas about the state after death, the results of which have been felt even down to the present time. The Old Testament, and with it Jesus and the whole of primitive Christendom, imagined a future state of happiness upon earth. Even in the Apocalypse (xxi. 1 f.), we read of the New Jerusalem descending from heaven upon a renovated earth.

Only in a few passages does Paul express the idea (2 Cor. v. 1-8; Phil. i. 23) that the faithful immediately after their death will come to Christ in heaven. It is not until we turn to the Epistle to the Hebrews (xii. 27 f.) that we find the teaching that at the end of things the earth will pass away entirely and only the heavens remain; there, in the heavenly Jerusalem, which will not descend upon earth, is also the place where Christians will enjoy eternal happiness (xii. 22 f.). But whereas this truth is not easily to be discovered in the Epistle to the Hebrews, in Jn. it is expressed with absolute clearness (xiv. 2): “in my Father’s house are many mansions. . . I go,” by being exalted to heaven, “to prepare a place for you.”

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