The New Testament knows only the linear time concept
of Today, Yesterday, and Tomorrow;
all philosophical reinterpretation and dissolution into timeless metaphysics is foreign to it. It is precisely upon the basis of this rectilinear conception of time that time in Primitive Christianity can yield the framework for the divine process of revelation and redemption, for those
which God in his omnipotence fixes, for those ages into which he divides the whole process. Because time is thought of as a progressing line, it is possible here for something to be «fulfilled»;
a divine plan can move forward to complete execution;
the goal which beckons at the end of the line can give to the entire process which is taking place all along the line the impulse to strive thither;
finally, the decisive mid-point, the Christ-deed, can be the firm hold that serves as guidepost for all the process that lies behind and for all that lies ahead.
“… time does not stand in contrast to God's eternity;
… it is thought of as a straight line, not as a circle. … As soon as «beginning» and «end» are distinguished, the straight line is the more suitable illustration to use.” (Oscar Cullmann).
… in the Primitive Christian conception time is not a thing opposed to God, but is rather the means of which God makes use in order to reveal his gracious working. On the one side, time does not stand in contrast to God's eternity;
on the other side, it is thought of as
a straight line,
not as a circle. Mention is made of a «beginning» (άρχή)
and an «end» (τέλος).
As soon as «beginning» and «end» are distinguished, the straight line is the more suitable illustration to use.
… the symbol of time for Primitive Christianity as well as for Biblical Judaism and the Iranian religion is the
while in Hellenism it is the
Because in Greek thought time is not conceived as a progressing line with beginning and end, but rather as a circle, the fact that man is bound to time must here be experienced as
Time moves about in the eternal circular course in which everything keeps recurring. …