There is a page on this site where readers can submit questions or suggest topics.
Recently someone submitted this question:
Both God the Father and the Son have distinct and obvious eternal roles that we see played out in the Bible, with Jesus being more obvious, but as I was thinking through the role of the Holy Spirit in eternity, I couldn’t come up with anything concrete.
Could you give a brief overview of the roles of the triune persons of God as it pertains to eternity? I’m mostly interested in the Holy Spirit, but would love a pastor’s perspective on the other two also.
The “Ontological Trinity” and the “Economic Trinity”
There are two fields of discussion when it comes to the Trinity. The “ontological” and the “economic.” “Ontological” refers to who God is, i.e. that which pertains to being, whereas “economic” refers to what God does.
Specifically applied to the Trinity, study of the “ontological Trinity” is focused on those parts of the Bible which communicate that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, and yet these three, while distinct persons, are one God. Study of the “economic Trinity” is focused on the passages in the Bible which tell us what each of these three persons does as their role in “the Godhead.”
So, ontologically, it is important to point out that eternality is part of God’s nature. God is eternal, and each person of the godhead is eternal. So, the role of God in eternity is merely a continuation of who God has been until now, and who God will forever be.
However, the question above is about the economics of the Triune God after this present age is over, and we have transitioned into what the Bible calls “the new heavens and new Earth.” What will the functions of the three persons of the Triune God be in “the age to come”?
The Role of the Son in the Age to Come
The Son, we are told, is currently seated at the right hand of the Father, and for eternity he will reign and rule as king over all of redeemed creation. (See Revelation 22:3)
Currently, Jesus is making intercession for believers, advocating for us, and is seated on a throne, but for eternity, all we really know is that he will be an eternal sovereign, ruling over a kingdom of righteousness and peace which will never end.
The Role of the Father in the Age to Come
Along with ruling over the redeemed creation from a heavenly throne, revelation tells us that God (not necessarily just the Father) will be a source of light, which will preclude the need for the sun to illuminate, since God himself will be our light.
The Role of the Holy Spirit in the Age to Come
The one thing that sticks out about the Holy Spirit’s role in eternity, is that, whereas the Father and the Son have a throne in the New Heavens and New Earth, the Holy Spirit does not (Revelation 22:3).
Beyond this, I can’t think of any verses which speak specifically about a role of the Holy Spirit in the age to come – but that is not surprising, and here’s why:
What we read regarding the economic Trinity mostly has to do with the work of God to redeem human beings. Remember, the Bible is a book about Jesus: who he is, and how he saves us.
Since the Bible is focused on the story of the salvation and redemption of humankind, it does not tell us very much about what God did before creating the world, nor does it tell us much about what God will do after the redemption of the world is complete.
“The Great Story Which No One on Earth has Read”
This reminds me of the final paragraph of C.S. Lewis’ The Final Battle, which is the final book in the Chronicles of Narnia series, which is full of allegories about biblical passages and teachings.
C.S. Lewis poetically describes “the age to come” in this way:
“…but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle
The Bible doesn’t tell us much about what the three persons of the Trinity will do in eternity, because that is not the story which the Bible exists to tell.
God Will Do What God Did Before
Prior to the creation of the world, it is important to remember that God existed from eternity past. Without human beings to rescue, sanctify, and redeem, what did God do?
What we can be sure of, is that God was neither bored nor lonely.
From eternity past, the one God, who exists as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit existed as a mutually edifying and glorifying community unto himself. Creation, was God inviting us to join in the “perichoresis,” the eternal relationship which exists between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, sometimes referred to as “the dance of God.”
In other words, in eternity, we can expect that God will do what God did before: delighting in himself, with each person fueling this mutually edifying and glorifying relationship.
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