Lincoln, Andrew T. Paradise Now and Not Yet: Studies in the Role of the Heavenly Dimension in Paul’s Thought with Special Reference to His Eschatology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981; reprint, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1991.
This book is reworking of Lincoln’s 1975 University of Cambridge dissertation (supervised by C F. D. Moule) (ix). Lincoln organized his material by biblical book in chronological order (Galatians, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Philippians, Colossians, Ephesians). The final chapter synthesizes the material.
Paradise Now and Not Yet contains many helpful exegetical discussions. I found his treatments of 2 Corinthians 5; Philippians 3:20-21; and Colossians 3 especially helpful. I often found myself making notes in BibleWorks to remind me to consult this book when working through these passages.
Philippians 3:20 provides one instance. Like other commentator’s Lincoln rejected the translations “citizenship” and “colony” and opted for “commonwealth” as the correct translation of πολίτευμα in Philippians 3:20 (cf. O’Brien, 360; Fee, 379, n. 17; Silva, 184; Bockmuehl, 233). Lincoln goes on to make the following observation: “The Christian’s commonwealth and government is εν ουρανοῖς and it is there because that is where his or her Lord is, as the following clause clearly implies. If Christ is to come from heaven, then he is envisaged as being there until that time” (101). In this comment Lincoln shows that Paul’s statement about our commonwealth being in heaven demonstrates connects to the return of Christ in that his return will establish this commonwealth on earth. Furthermore, Paul speaks of this in terms of the transformation of our bodies. Thus the previous reference to not having minds set on earthly things is not a critique of the material world. Instead, heavenly things are those things related to Christ and his kingdom since that is the current location of the reigning Christ. Earthly things are sinful because the earth is the sphere where sin is worked out.
The latter part of Lincoln’s concluding chapter is also very helpful. He notes, for instance, that Paul’s use of heaven can have “local, spatial or cosmological connotation[s]’” but that they also often develop “a qualitative force” (185). Or, Christ’s presence in heaven means that “this realm can be seen as the present sphere of fulfillment of God’s promises of salvation” (186). Though Lincoln develops this in a supercessionist direction, it need not be. I thought a better way to develop this insight would be to integrate it with Richard Gaffin’s proposals relating to walking by faith and not by sight. As Lincoln notes, our union with Christ connects us to Christ in heaven so that we can say that we are seated in heaven with Christ (Eph 2:6; cf. Col 3:1ff.) or that we are part of the heavenly Jerusalem (Gal. 4:26). Though we can’t see these realities, we must live in by faith in light of them. Lincoln helpfully discusses how the reality of our heavenly existence should affect our life on earth now. He also relates the fact of our present relation to heaven to the Holy Spirit, though this could have been developed further.
On the negative side, at times Paradise Now and Not Yet reads like a Cambridge dissertation. Sometimes Lincoln leads readers through a discussion of a possible Jewish apocalyptic antecedent to Paul’s thought simply to conclude that the possible parallel isn’t really justified. Even when Lincoln does think there are valid parallels, the exegetical insights they yield are do not seem significant enough to warrant the discussion. Lincoln also doubts the Pauline authorship of Ephesians (197, n. 29) and the integrity of 2 Corinthians (55).
For those interested in reading Lincoln’s work, I would suggest reading pages 184-95 first and then working through the previous chapters.