But if the old has passed away [the 'olam hazeh in the crucifixion] and the new has come [the 'olam haba', in the resurrection], why do evil and death remain in the world? Paul’s letters are charged with the same tension between the “already” and “not yet” aspects of the kingdom of God that we have seen in Jesus’ own teachings, but with some differences in emphasis. For Paul, the kingdom is here already in that Jesus’ death brings an end to the old and his resurrectioinaugurates the new. The Spirit is described as a deposit (or down payment) on the coming kingdom (2 Corinthians 1:22; 5:5; Ephesians 1:14). A deposit is not merely an IOU or promise for the future; instead, it is a real payment given now as a guarantee that in the future the rest will be paid. The Spirit is also pictured as firstfruits, the first part of the harvest, ready to be enjoyed now, and tangible evidence that the remainder of the harvest will also come (Romans 8:23).
The kingdom has not yet arrived for us in its fullness. We remain in a world that has not yet been fully delivered from the influence of evil, demonic power (2 Corinthians 4:4). We are still surrounded by the darkness of sin and rebellion against God (Ephesians 2:2–3), even while we anticipate the full revelation of God’s kingdom in which those things shall be no more. Thus, in Paul’s thought there is no clearly marked threshold between “the present age” and “the age to come.” We live in the “in-between” time, in which the two ages overlap. Paul goes on to explain that these two ages are allowed to coexist within God’s plan so that the church’s work of mission—the gathering of the nations to the God of Israel—can be accomplished before the final revelation of the kingdom. In fact, God gives this in-between time to the church as its own, to fulfill its calling as his witness to the coming of the kingdom.[*][*]Bartholomew, C. G., & Goheen, M. W. (2004). The drama of Scripture: Finding our place in the biblical story (190). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic [footnotes have been removed]