Witness, eternal life, and the offices of Christ

“Witness and eternal life as facets of the theme of fellowship [with Christ as the destiny of humanity] can help to shed light on how the noetic [knowledge] and experiential aspects of salvation are seen to be existentially related. Witness is seen as the penultimate, and eternal life as the ultimate, form of fellowship. Witness is seen as a matter of declaring, and eternal life as one of enjoying, the salvation accomplished in and by Jesus Christ. Witness consists of fellowship with Jesus Christ in his prophetic work; eternal life, of fellowship with him in his royal work. Witness participates with Christ in his resurrection; eternal life participates with Christ in his glory. Witness shares in the prophetic task of the risen Christ to declare the salvation accomplished in and by the cross; eternal life shares in the royal splendor of the glorified Christ as the crown of that salvation so accomplished. Witness occurs in the penultimate setting where the noetic moment necessarily takes precedence; eternal life occur in the ultimate setting where the experiential moment of salvation, in and with the noetic, is fully realized.

“In short, the priestly work of Jesus Christ on the cross is accomplished by him alone; the prophetic work of the risen Christ is shared with the Christian in a fellowship of witness; and the royal work of the glorified Christ is shared with the Christian in a fellowship of eternal life. The priestly work of Christ is finished and complete in such a way that it needs acknowledgment but not repetition. The prophetic is so related to the priestly work of Christ that, in this life, the noetic necessarily takes primacy over the experiential aspect of salvation. The royal is so related to the priestly work of Christ that, in the life to come, the experiential is fully and finally realized in and with the noetic aspect of salvation. The primacy of the noetic is this life is thus related to the eschatological situation of declaration; the removal of this primacy in the life to come, to the final revelation of all things as glorified in and by Jesus Christ.”

George Hunsinger, How to Read Karl Barth, pp. 181-182.

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