Main article: Millennium and Eternal State
Related: The Millennium
New Heavens and Earth. Revelation 21:1 describes the new universe that God will create. “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea exists no more.” The “heaven” here refers to the physical heaven, the 1st and 2nd heavens (atmosphere, space, etc.), not the 3rd heaven where God dwells… that never needs to change. There will be no more “seas”, or separation between people of the earth, and no more masses in turmoil. John saw “the physical platforms on which the glories of eternity are to be displayed.” – W. Scott.
Heaven and Earth. There will be a very close connection between the heavenly saints and the earthly saints in the Eternal State; “the tabernacle of God is with men” (Rev. 21:3). As a result of sin, today there is a great distance between heaven and earth. A nice illustration is the cup (Heaven) and saucer (earth). Today the cup is held away at a distance from the saucer, and we don’t have a very close communication between heaven and earth. In the millennium the cup will be held over the saucer; communication will be restored like before the fall (read Hos. 2:21-22). But in the eternal state, the cup is on the saucer… no distance!
The Eternal State. There are only three passages that describe the eternal state: Rev. 21:1-8, 2 Pet. 3:10-13, and 1 Cor. 15:24-28, although there are other minor references to it, such as “the eighth day” (Lev. 23:36, 39), possibly “the everlasting kingdom” (2 Pet. 1:11) would include it, and the “reconciliation of all things” (Col. 1:20). The eternal state is the end of all God’s purposes for the glory of Christ and the blessing of man. This is when God will have reconciled “all things” unto himself (Col. 1:20), and God will be “all in all” (1 Cor. 15:28). An important question may be raised: what happens to the Millennial kingdom? This is answered in 1 Cor. 15:24-28. Christ received the Millennial kingdom as a man, and He accomplishes God’s purposes as a man: putting down all enemies (final rebellion, death, the great white throne, etc.) and then He will give it up to the Father as a man. He must do this for God’s pleasure. God made man with this moment in mind… a perfect man in headship over the creation. But when that has been fulfilled, he delivers it up, that God might be all in all, and to devote Himself fully to His Bride. When the Eternal State begins, time as we know it will end; “then cometh the end” (1 Cor. 15:24). The sorrows of the old earth will be passed away: death, sorrow, pain, tears (Rev. 21:4). All things will be made “new” and according to the mind of God. Every stain of sin will be removed (John 1:29). In the Millennium, the earth was reigned “over” by Christ and the Church; in the eternal state, God will “dwell with men” – no separation. There is no need for reigning in the eternal state, because there will be no more sin.
Earthly inhabitants. There will be no “nations” or different languages in the eternal state, just “men”. Although we have no scripture for it, the saints of the Millennial earth will be transplanted into the New Heavens and earth. William Kelly said; “We may be sure that these millennial saints will be changed into the likeness of Christ; they will be transplanted into the new heavens and earth.” The distinction between Jew and Gentile will be gone. The number of distinct earthly inhabitants has changed in the following pattern: 1 – 2 – 3 – 2 – 1.
Three conditions for righteousness are helpful to remember. First, righteousness is not upheld at the present time; in fact, believers suffer for the sake of righteousness (Matt. 5:6). Second, “righteousness reigns” in the Millennium (Isa. 32:1). Third, “righteousness dwells” in the eternal state (2 Pet. 3:13). This is helpful also in understanding the difference between the Millennium and the Eternal State. The Millennium is a kingdom, and there are things to be ruled over, and evil to keep down. But in the eternal state, there is no more sin and rebellion, and also it is a permanent condition; hence, righteousness is said to dwell.
Three Scriptural names for the eternal state:
Truth about the Eternal State is only revealed in the New Testament. The Old Testament does not mention the eternal state. Isa. 65:17 speaks of a new heavens and earth, but that is a reference to the Millennium.
The Church in the Eternal State. While Israel will no longer be a distinct people on the earth, the Church will NEVER lose her distinction. We will be the bride of Christ for all eternity! The term “wife” is dropped after the Millennium, and the term “bride” is used. Our honeymoon will be for eternity! The Church will be the chief example to men and angels of the grace of God: “That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:7). The following verse takes us the furthest into eternity: “to him be glory in the assembly in Christ Jesus unto all generations of the age of ages. Amen” (Eph. 3:21). By being a perfect reflection of Christ’s glory to the new heaven and earth, the Church will be the means of getting glory from the New Creation for God throughout eternity!