TONGUES, PROPHECY, AND KNOWLEDGE “CEASED” IN AD 70 AN EXEGETICAL STUDY OF “THAT WHICH IS PERFECT” 1 CORINTHIANS 13:8-12

TONGUES, PROPHECY, AND KNOWLEDGE “CEASED” IN AD 70
AN EXEGETICAL STUDY OF “THAT WHICH IS PERFECT”
1 CORINTHIANS 13:8-12

By: Michael J. Sullivan

It is my purpose in this article to tackle an issue that I struggled with a lot as a young Christian–namely 1 Corinthians 13:8-12 and the abiding or cessation of the miraculous gifts of tongues and prophecy. Are they for today or have they ceased? As a young Christian my Pastor was Chuck Smith (Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa), but I also briefly attended an Assembly of God College and as well began attending John Wimber’s church (The Vineyard). So in my walk with the Lord, I have had a wide range of “experience” within Pentecostal and Charismatic churches and institutions. As I began to grow in my understanding of God’s Word and His grace in my life, I became more Reformed or Sovereign Grace in my thinking. As I moved more into Reformed and Sovereign Grace circles, the less I saw “tongues” being spoken. Yet at the same time, I was not getting the exegetical evidence from Acts 2, 1 Corinthians 13, and Matthew 28:18-20/Mark 16:15-20 that I needed to be 100% convinced that these gifts had ceased. I had experienced the same frustration while briefly attending John MacArthur’s church (Grace Community) and The Master’s College. After many years of prayer over this subject, God led me to the preterist view of Bible prophecy to settle my mind and heart on this issue once and for all. Therefore, it is my purpose in this article to comfort and help others with the comfort God has given me through a correct understanding of His Word. 

My proposition is simple — Christ promised to return within the lifetime and generation of the first century Church (Mt. 10:22-23, 16:27-28; Lk. 21:20-32) and He in fact did keep that promise. The New Testament inspired authors bore witness to the testimony of their Lord’s teaching (Romans 13:11-12, 16:20; 1 Peter 4:5-7; James 5:7-9; Hebrews 8:13-10:37; Revelation 1:1, 3:11; 10:6-7, 22:6-7, 10-12, 20) that He would in fact return in a “very little while” and would “not tarry.” Therefore, in this article, I will  defend that “that which is perfect” and the “face to face” “knowledge” of 1 Corinthians 13:10-12, are references to Christ’s return and the arrival of the new heavens and earth by AD 70 (cf. Revelation 22:4). In so defending this position, it is my sincere prayer to help those ensnared in the false teachings of Charismatic and Pentecostal doctrine. This would also include those within the Reformed community such as John Piper and the churches that have been planted through his ministry. 

Let’s begin with how Reformed and Evangelical Charismatic’s and Pentecostal’s understand and interpret 1 Corinthians 13:8-12 and then we will move into how others have sought to teach that the gifts have ceased for us today. Does either party make exegetically credible claims? Is it possible that both parties can be both right and wrong at the same time? If so, what pieces of this exegetical puzzle are missing to bridge the gap in this debate?          

Charismatic Reformed Theologians
John Piper

John Piper is both Reformed and a Charismatic. Most within Reformed circles consider this a “contradiction,” but is it really a contradiction to be charismatic if one is a futurist at the same time? I don’t believe it is– it is just unbiblical to be a futurist and a Charismatic. Piper graciously mocks the attempts of his fellow Reformed futurist colleagues such as Richard Gaffin who claims the gifts have ceased,  

“There is no text in the New Testament that teaches the cessation of these gifts. But more important than this silence is the text that explicitly teaches their continuance until Jesus comes, namely, 1 Corinthians 13:8-12.

So the key question is: When does the “perfect” come which marks the end of the imperfect gifts like prophecy?  The answer is plain in the text if we follow Paul’s line of reasoning. Verse 8 says, “Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away” (RSV). Why are these gifts temporary? The answer is given in verse 9: “For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect.” So the reason these spiritual gifts are temporary is their incompleteness or imperfection.

How long then are they to last? Verse 10 gives the answer: “When the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away.” But when is that? When does the perfect come? The answer is given in verse 12: “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood.” The “now” of incompleteness and imperfection is contrasted with the “then” of seeing face to face and understanding even as we are understood.

“So the answer to the question of when the perfect comes and when the imperfect gifts pass away is the “then” of verse 12, namely, the time of seeing “face to face” and “understanding as we are understood.” When will this happen?

Both of these phrases (“seeing face to face” and “understanding as we have been understood”) are stretched beyond the breaking point if we say that they refer to the closing of the New Testament canon or the close of the apostolic age. Rather, they refer to our experience at the second coming of Jesus. Then “we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2) The phrase “face to face” in the Greek Old Testament refers to seeing God personally (Genesis 32:30; Judges 6:22). Thomas Edwards’ hundred-year-old commentary is right to say, “When the perfect is come at the advent of Christ, then the Christian will know God intuitively and directly, even as he was before known of God” (First Epistle to the Corinthians, p. 353, italics added).

This means that verse 10 can be paraphrased, “When Christ returns, the imperfect will pass away.” And since “the imperfect” refers to spiritual gifts like prophecy and knowledge and tongues, we may paraphrase further, “When Christ returns, then prophecy and knowledge and tongues will pass away.”

Here is a definite statement about the time of the cessation of spiritual gifts, and that time is the second coming of Christ. Richard Gaffin does not do justice to the actual wording of verse 10 when he says, “The time of the cessation of prophecy and tongues is an open question so far as this passage is concerned” (Perspectives on Pentecost, p. 111). It is not an open question. Paul says, “When the perfect comes [at that time, not before or after], the imperfect [gifts like prophecy and tongues, etc.] will pass away.”[1]

Wayne Grudem

Another Charismatic with a Reformed background would be Wayne Grudem, who paraphrases the context of 1 Corinthians 13:10 this way,

“But when Christ returns, prophecy and tongues (and other imperfect gifts) will pass away. Thus we have in 1 Corinthians 13:10 a definite statement about the time of the cessation of imperfect gifts like prophecy: they will “be made useless” or “pass away” when Christ returns. And this would imply that they will continue to exist and be useful for the church, throughout the church age, including today, and right up to the day when Christ returns.”[2]

Evangelical Charismatics

Chuck Smith

Another one of my former Pastor’s Chuck Smith is a charismatic whom offers some good comments on identifying “that which is perfect” as Jesus’ Second Coming. He correctly considers men like Kenneth Gentry’s attempts at exegesis on this text to be “expositional dishonesty” and “prejudicial blindness-not at all scholarly or conclusive” and on this point I would agree:

“The idea that the Greek word teleios, translated “perfect,” referred to the full Canon of Scripture did not occur to some of the greatest of all Greek scholars from the past century.  It is more of an invention or creation of recent vintage to counteract the modern tongues movement. Thayer, in his Greek-English Lexicon, says of teleios as used in 1 Corinthians 13:10, “The perfect state of all things to be ushered in by the return of Christ from heaven.” Alford, in his New Testament for English Readers, says of it, “At the Lord’s coming and after.” When the only Scriptural basis for rejecting the validity of speaking in tongues rests on such a questionable and tenuous interpretation of the Greek word teleios, which was wrested from the context in which it is used, one has to sincerely challenge the expositional honesty of such scholarship. To be kind, I will say that, at best, it is prejudicial blindness-not at all scholarly or conclusive”[3]

Donald Lee Barnett

Unfortunately since Charismatic’s offer a better exegesis than Gentry and the rest of our futurist Reformed brothers, I will allow them to make our case on “that which is perfect”:

“There is not a single verse in the Bible where the Greek adjective teleios (“that which is perfect”-1 Cor. 13:10) refers to the completed New Testament.” “The related noun, … telos refers to an end, perfection, or consummation. Here again, as with the related adjective teleios, not one instance refers to the completion of the written Scriptures. But significantly, there are several passages where telos does refer to the end of this age, when Christ shall return. And even more significantly, two uses of telos refer to Christ Himself, the “end” or “consummation” of God’s plan.” The writer goes on to quote:

1)   Matthew 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end [telos] come.

2)   1 Corinthians 1:8 Who shall also confirm you unto the end [telos], that ye may be  blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

3)   1 Peter 4:7 But the end [telos] of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.

4)  Revelation 21:6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega , the beginning and the end [telos].

“The related… verb form of teleios is teleioo, “to perfect.” It is used 24 times in the New Testament. And, as with its companion word teleios, not one usage of teleioo refers to the completed New Testament. In fact, the only instance that is even remotely connected with the Scriptures is John 19:28: “After this, Jesus knowing that all things were not accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled [made complete or perfect], saith, ‘I thirst’.” This verse is not talking about completing the Scriptures by writing them, but rather by fulfilling them. To be ‘completed’ in this sense, the New Testament will have to be fulfilled. This will not happen until the kingdom of God is fully ushered in…”[4]

These Charismatic arguments connecting teleieos with “the end of the age” and the Second Coming of Jesus elsewhere in Scripture are valid and powerful. Likewise, Barnett makes a valid point when he says that the fulfillment of Scripture at the “end” is the issue and not the writing of it. However, we must point out that the Olivet discourse is about the destruction of the temple which marks the end to the Old Covenant age in AD 70, and not the age we are currently in or the end to the planet earth (Mt. 24:1-3, 34). As Milton Terry wrote in his classic work on hermeneutics,

“The ‘end of the age’ means the close of the epoch or age—that is, the Jewish age or dispensation which was drawing nigh, as our Lord frequently intimated. All those passages which speak of ‘the end,’ “the end of the age,’ or “the ends of the ages,’ refer to the same consummation, and always as nigh at hand. In 1 Cor. 10:11, St. Paul says, ‘The ends of the ages have stretched out to us;’ implying that he regarded himself as his readers as living near the conclusion of an aeon, or age.”[5]

The immediate context is only dealing with the destruction of the temple and eschatological events that would be fulfilled in Jesus’ “this generation.” Therefore, it is abundantly clear that He is predicting the end of the Old Covenant age in AD 70 and no other! When we take a combined look at some of the best theologians within the Reformed and Evangelical communities, we find a preterist interpretation of every eschatological de-creation prophecy in the Bible. Combined, John Owen, John Locke, John Lightfoot, John Brown, R.C. Sproul, Gary DeMar, Kenneth Gentry, James Jordan, Peter Leithart, Keith Mathison, H.T. Fletcher-Louis, Hank Hanegraaff, and N.T. Wright teach that the passing away of heaven and earth (Matt. 5:17-18; 24:3, 29, 35; 1 Cor. 7:31, 10:11; II Peter 3; I Jn. 2:17-18; Rev. 21:1) refers to the destruction of the temple or to the civil and religious worlds of men —either Jews or Gentiles; and that the rulers of the old-covenant system or world, along with the temple, were the “sun, moon, and stars,” which made up the “heaven and earth” of the world that perished in AD 70.[6]  

I also concur with the Charismatic argument that the issue is not when all things were written, but rather when all things would be fulfilled! And once again Scripture is clear that all prophecy would be fulfilled within Jesus’ “this generation” (Luke 21:22; 1 Corinthians 10:11; 1 Peter 1:4-12; Revelation 1:1, 10:6-7, 22:6-7, 10-12, 20). This brings an abrupt AD 70 “end” to the Charismatic futurist assumptions and their arguments on teleios

Reformed cessationists

Richard Gaffin

So how has the Reformed community sought to respond to such basic and straightforward Charismatic and Pentecostal interpretive claims as these? Oddly the Reformed community thought Richard Gaffin’s interpretation of 1 Corinthians 13 would help,

“Such knowledge will not cease until the arrival of “perfection” (v.10), at Christ’s return; only then, in contrast, will full “face to face” knowledge be ours (v.12).” “To argue, as some [Kenneth Gentry] cessationists do, that “the perfect” has in view the completion of the New Testament cannon or some other state of affairs prior to the Parousia is just not credible exegetically.”[7]

Obviously, there are some problems with how Reformed futurists defend that1Corinthians 13 teaches the cessation of the gifts while at the same time admitting that the text refers to a future Second Coming! 

Kenneth Gentry

One of our opponents Kenneth Gentry, gives this interpretation of our text,  

“But verse 10 speaks of something which was coming, which would contrast with the piecemeal, bit-by-bit revelation of that age.  That which was to supercede the partial and do away with it was something designated “perfect.”  “But when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.”  It is difficult to miss the antithetic parallel between the “partial” thing and the “perfect” (“complete, mature, full) thing.  Since the “partial” speaks of prophecy and other modes of revelational insight (v.8), then it would seem that the “perfect,” which would supplant these, represents the perfect and final New Testament Scripture…” “In other words, there is coming a time when will occur the completion of the revelatory process of God.” “We believe that this idea is contained in a proper understanding of the Daniel 9:24 statement regarding the “sealing of the vision and the prophecy”[8]

Gentry’s interpretations of the “end of the age” in the Gospels and his interpretations of 1 Corinthians 13:10 along side that of the 70 weeks of Daniel 9:24-27 are confusing to say the very least. He claims the 70 weeks of Daniel 9:24 and 1 Corinthians 13:10 involves the revelatory process and yet also teaches in his book, He Shall Have Dominion, that the first 69 weeks ended 3 ½ years after the cross and that the end to the 70th  week is not so clear. He claims the redemptive aspects of Daniel 9:24 were fulfilled in the cross or perhaps 3 ½ years after this event. So were the Scriptures (the revelatory process) completed by AD 35? He also seems to want to claim that “the end of the age” in the Olivet discourse is both a reference to AD 70 and the end of the planet (see my article “KENNETH GENTRY’S PROPHETIC CONFUSION AND THE ANALOGY OF SCRIPTURE”). He fails to admit that the New Covenant age was breaking in and being revealed “bi-by-bit” while the Old Covenant age would “soon pass away” at Christ’s Second and final redemptive Coming (Heb. 8:13-10:37).  It was this event associated with the abomination of desolation which would bring an “end” and cause “vision and prophecy” to be “sealed up”–fulfilled

It is the fulfilling of “all things [Dan. 9:24-27] which are written” associated with Christ’s one and final Second Coming that is the issue of the texts in question, not the “mode of revelation” (Mt. 24:15/Lk. 21:22-27).  Jerusalem “filled up” or “finished transgressions” against God and His Messiah within Jesus’ “this generation” (Mt. 23:31-38; Dan. 9:24a). Christ put an “end to sin” at His imminent Second Coming (Heb. 9:26-28/10:37; Rom. 11:26-27/13:11-12; Dan. 9:24b.). At Christ’s return in AD 70, He brought in “everlasting righteousness” or a “world of righteousness” as even John Owen and John Lightfoot would agree with us in 2 Peter 3. Christ anointed and consummated the New Covenant Church as His Most Holy Place and Bride in AD 70 (Ex. 20, 29-31, 40; cf. Hebrews 8:6-10; Revelation 11:18-19, 19-21:16). Therefore, all the eschatological promises made to Israel concerning vision and prophecy were fulfilled and sealed up by AD 70. Gentry is confused as usual and there most definitely is a clear “end” to the 70th week in the NT – ie. AD 70! The abomination of desolation brings an “end” to the entire complex of redemptive events in Daniel 9:24-27! 

Gentry and his fellow partial preterist colleagues end up teaching TWO New Testament: last days, comings of Jesus, “end of the age(s),” great commissions, judgments, and resurrections (one in AD 70 and one at the end of time); whereas the New Testament only teaches ONE. Therefore, the partial preterist position fails miserably to exegetically deal with the cessation of tongues and prophecy.           

So far, Reformed futurist theologians are divided with Richard Gaffin stating that Gentry’s exegesis is not “exegetically credible” all the while giving the farm away to the Charismatics by admitting the text in question finds it’s fulfillment at a future second coming.  Go figure. 

Evangelical cessationists

John MacArthur

John MacArthur used to be my Pastor and College President and is a well known 5 point Calvinist but unfortunately remains a Dispensationalist. He has also written a lot on the cessation of tongues and the gift of healing. Unfortunately, MacArthur is better at mocking Pentecostal and Charismatic extreme practices instead of being able to give an exegetical refutation of their doctrine. His progressive dispensationalism has caused even more problems with this text and the “last days” passage of Acts 2. Here is MacArthur’s view of what the “perfect” is not referring to and then what it is: 

“The Perfect” is Not the Rapture

MacArthur argues with his dispensational and futurist colleagues that “the perfect” here could not be referring to the rapture, because knowledge and prophecy are in use during the tribulation and millennial period. Since he understands the Church will be “raptured” before the tribulation, and that there will be two witnesses (Rev. 11:3) “prophesying” during the tribulation period, the rapture cannot be “the perfect,” “…they [knowledge and prophecy] appear to be operative in both the Tribulation and the millennial Kingdom.”[9]   

 

“The Perfect” is Not the Maturing of the Church

 
MacArthur writes,
 

“A relatively new interpretation is that the perfect refers to the maturing, or completion, of the church. It is true that perfect often has the meaning of maturity or completion. But such a completion would amount to the rapture, which this view eliminates.”[10]

 

“The Perfect” is Not the Second Coming

 
Again MacArthur writes,
 

“Some believe the perfect refers to Christ’s second coming. But perfect is neuter in the Greek (teleion), eliminating the possibility that it relates to a person.”[11]

 

“The Perfect” is the New Creation

 

MacArthur reasons that since the New Creation follows the “rapture” and a future “Second [third] Coming,” this is what Paul has identified as “the perfect.” It is at this point we see God’s face (Revelation 22:4).  

 

There are several problems with MacArthur’s observations – mainly his dispensationalism and futurist assumptions that he reads into the texts in question.

 

First, “Prophecy” in Scripture is dealing with divine revelation, not preaching the word.[12] And again, all prochecy would be fulfilled through Christ and the Church in Jesus’ “this generation” and or “shortly” by AD 70 (Luke 21:22; 1 Peter 1:4-12; 1 Corinthians 10:11; Revelation 1:1, 3:11, 10:6-7, 22:6-7, 10-12, 20).

 

Secondly, the scripture does not distinguish between a “rapture” coming and then the actual “Second [third?] Coming” of Jesus (see my exegesis of 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17). 

 

Thirdly, again, the Tribulation and Second Coming events were predicted to take place within Jesus’ “this generation” and in fact did (cf. Matthew 24 & Luke 21).

 

Fourthly, the two witnesses in Revelation 11 are not Moses and Elijah as MacArthur speculates. MacArthur refuses to accept the very clear testimony of Jesus that Elijah had already come in the person of John the Baptist (Matthew 17:10-13) to prepare the way of the Great and Dreadful Day of the Lord–which again, would take place within the first century “this generation” (Malachi 3-4; Acts 2:20-40). The two witnesses represent the Old Testament prophets and the Churches witness against Old Covenant Jerusalem for rejecting and killing their Messiah and the prophets which had been sent to her (cf. Matthew 23:30-38). 

 

Fifthly, the Bible does not teach that the “Kingdom” is something future for ethnic Israel to receive in an alleged literal 1,000 year period. Rather, the Kingdom was “at hand” and would be manifested “within” individuals at Christ’s return in their “this generation” (Matthew 3:2-12; 4:17; 21:33-43; Luke 17:20-37/21:27-32). The 1,000 years of Revelation 20 is a figurative or symbolic number communicating the fullness and completeness of the transitionary period before Christ would return “soon” in AD 70.

 

Sixthly, the “knowledge” of the Messiah and His New Covenant salvation was successfully preached into the entire world before AD 70 (see chart further in this article). 

 

And lastly, “The Perfect” is a reference to all of the following: a) the maturity of the Church by AD 70, b) the Second Coming, and c) the New Creation. Jesus is described as “that Holy thing” and the New Creation (Luke :35/Gen. 1:2). Therefore, when Jesus’ parousia (presence) was completely formed within the Church, this was the maturing and consummating process of the New Creation (Galatians 4:19; 2 Corinthians 5:17/Isaiah 65-66). Through the Churches faith and being united “In Christ,” we share in the promise of being God’s New Creation (2 Cor. 1:20/Isaiah 65-66). So quite simply put, when Jesus’ Second Coming came in AD 70, Jesus’ redemptive work in performing and maturing His Church/Bride had been fully accomplished. As the perfect High Priest, He came out of Zion a “second time” and completely took away Her sin (Hebrews 9:26-28/Romans 11:26-27). Redemptively speaking, we are “perfect” in God’s eyes and we are “known” and ought to seek to continue to “know” and commune with Him in this humbled and thankful way, no matter how we might feel from time to time. You may not feel like precious stones and pure gold, but that is what you are in His eyes (Rev. 21:10-11). 

If MacArthur could reconcile the above 7 accurate propositions with what he says of God coming in judgment in AD 70, he would have a consistent and exegetical position to defend against the “Charismatic Chaos” troubling many Christians today. For example what he says of Paul quoting Isaiah 28 as being fulfilled in AD 70 is right on target,

     “The second evidence that the gift of tongues ended with the apostles is that its purpose as a judicial sign of Israel’s judgment ceased to apply at that time. Paul reminds the Corinthians that “In the Law it is written, ‘By men of strange tongues and by the lips of strangers I will speak to this people, and even so they will not listen to Me,’ says the Lord” (1 Cor. 14:21; cf. Isa. 28:11-12). In other words, because Israel refused to listen and believe when God spoke to them in clear language, the prophet said the day would come when He would speak to them in a language they could not understand, as a testimony against their rejection of Him.

     Tongues were not given as a sign to believers “but to unbelievers” (1 Cor. 14:22), specifically unbelieving Jews. With the destruction of the Temple by the Roman general Titus in A.D. 70, Judaism ended except as a shadow religion.”[13]

On this passage, MacArthur is spot on, but his futurism causes him to not be consistent in allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture when an imminent AD 70 coming of Jesus and reception of the kingdom is clearly in view. MacArthur constantly refers to tongues ceasing at the “end of the Apostolic age,” and yet there is NO verse mentioning this. There is the phrase “this age” (which the first century Jew understood as the Old Covenant age), and the “age about to come” (which the Jew understood to be the New Covenant or Messianic age). The Old passed while the New arrived in its mature and full state in AD 70. This all took place at Christ’s return in the judgment MacArthur alludes to above. 

The Great Commission of Mark 16:15-20/Matthew 28:18-20

We should probably digress a little from our text and quickly cover a common Charismatic point involving the Great Commission and the miraculous sign gifts. It is claimed that the miraculous gifts such as tongues and healings are necessary for the Church in order to fulfill the Great Commission. What they fail to realize, is that the Bible clearly teaches that the Great Commission had been (past tense) fulfilled before AD 70:

PROPHECY            FULFILLMENT

“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world (Greek oikumene) for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:14)

“But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed:

‘Their sound has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world (Greek oikumene)” (Romans 10:18)

“And the gospel must first be published among all nations (Greek ethnos)” “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, (Greek ethnos)…” “…I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.” (Mark 13:10; Mt.28:19-20)

“…My gospel… has been made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures has been made known to all nations (Greek ethnos)…” (Romans 16:25-26)

“And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world(Greek kosmos) and preach the gospel to every creature” “…And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues (Greek glossa) (Mark 16:15, 17)

 

“…of the gospel, which has come to you, as it has also in all the world(Greek kosmos), as is bringing forth fruit…,” (Colossians 1:5-6).

And he said unto them ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature (Greek kitisis) “ (Mark 16:15)

“…from the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature (Greek kitisis) under heaven, of which I, Paul became a minister” (Colossians 1:23)

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth/land (Greek ge)” (Acts 1:8).

Prophecy had begun to be fulfilled: “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues (Greek glossa), as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation (Greek ethnos) under heaven.

 
 
 
 
 
 

“But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed: ‘Their sound has gone out to all the earth/land (Greek ge), and their words to the ends of the world” (Romans 10:18) 

 

Prophecy would be fulfilled “shortly” : “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth/land (Greek ge), and to every nation (Geek ethnos), and kindred (Greek phule) and tongue (Greek glossa), and people, (Greek laos)” (Rev.1:1; Rev.14:6). See also Revelation 10:6-7; 20:3; 22:10-11 in regards to the Great Commission’s success to the “nations” of Israel and the Roman Empire along with imminent time of fulfillment.

 

The Great Commission within the context of the imminent “end of the [this] age” judgment in Matthew 13:40, 24:3ff., and 28:18-20 is again–discussing the end to the Old Covenant age in AD 70. The Bible describes the Church or New Covenant age as an age “without end” (Ephs. 3:20-21).

The Marriage Motif “Face to Face”

In 1 Corinthians 13:10, Paul develops the marriage motif as he has done in some of his other letters.  His expression of “knowing” God and “being fully known” by Him is clearly an intimate knowing leading to that expression in the marriage union.[14] Reformed theologians correctly understand this Greek word (ginosko) in this way when it comes to being “foreknown” of God in election and predestination (Rms.8:28-29).  This is not a knowledge of all facts, but an “experiential” knowledge as in affection leading to the consummation of that affection and love in a marriage relationship.  The illustration being, “Now Adam knew Eve and she conceived and bore Cain,…” (Gen.4:1).  Strong’s gives ginosko a meaning of, “the Jewish idiom for sexual intercourse between a man and a woman.”  Paul and John in Revelation, are echoing Isaiah’s teaching that when Israel sees their God “eye to eye” (thus “face to face”) is when the New Jerusalem (“the Bride” Rev.21:2) will be “redeemed” and the new-covenant temple completed or “glorified” (Isa.52:8-9; Ephs. 2 & 5/Isa.60; Isa.65-66; 1Cor.13:10; Rev.21-22:4). 

When Israel sees God “eye to eye” is when the New Creation has fully come, the marriage consummated, and Israel is completely established and restored.  The message of (1Cor.13:10-12/Rev.17-22:4) is that the New Jerusalem is the New Creation and Bride of the Lamb which comes down to earth AFTER the first and Old Covenant Jerusalem/Harlot Bride/Heavens and Earth have passed away in the judgment of A.D. 70. 

The 1 Corinthians 13/2 Corinthians 3-5:17 Connections

All futurist positions (Charismatic or not) are very reluctant to connect this “face to face” seeing in (1Cor.13:12) with the transformation and seeing God through a mirror in (2Cor.3-4).  Why? The reason is that the contrast of the covenants and the passing of the old (which demands an A.D. 70 fulfillment) and the spiritual and metaphorical seeing of God is not a literal or biological seeing in (2Cor.3-4).  Charismatics are just as afraid to make the connections as are reformed cessationalist’s.  One would think that the exegete and student of hermeneutics would want to find similar themes and language elsewhere used by Paul (especially in letters to the same church) in order to understand what kind of “seeing” is involved here. 

In 1Corinthians 13:8-11 prophecy, knowledge, and tonuges are described as supernatural gifts that were “in part” (not fulfilled), a child maturing into manhood, and would thus be done away when that which is perfect comes to fulfill and complete that which was “in part” and would thus bring to maturity the child state.  This “in part,” (unfulfilled) and child like state of maturing, is described as “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face.”  Therefore, the child was growing into maturity and manhood by viewing the “face” or image of this “perfect thing” in a mirror (1Cor.13:12). This Greek word for “perfect” is teleios and means to bring to maturity, to reach the goal, bring to its end, finished.  These miraculous gifts were brought about by the Holy Spirit in Israel’s old covenant “last days” to reveal it’s near end, maturity, and fulfillment as found “in Christ” the mediator of the new and better covenant.  The old covenant’s “in part” status had a “goal” and “maturity” process that needed to be fulfilled by the new covenant work of Christ in His redemption performed in the cross and parousia.  It is not enough to say that “that which is perfect” is the complete written word of God, because it is the fulfillment of that perfect Word that is in view.  This will get clearer as we deal with related texts.   

In 2 Corinthians 3 & 4, the Old Covenant glory is described as the fading glory of Moses face.  The Old Covenant glory in and of it’s self was incomplete in that it could only bring death (2 Cor.3:6).  Therefore, “the glory” of this system was “passing away” (2 Cor.3:11) because the glory of the New Covenant system was in the process of fulfilling the old.  It is only at the end of this overlapping of covenantal ages that the old glory is done away by the new fulfilling and completing it.  The mirror theme is likewise present here,  

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2Cor.3:8) 

In context it is clear what the early church was beholding in a mirror:  

“For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2Cor.4:6) 

This transformation from “glory to glory” and beholding the Lord’s face has to do with the transformation of the Old and New Covenants and this transformation has nothing to do with a fleshly resurrection/transformation finding it’s fulfillment when our alleged physical corpses are united to our spirits at the end of time!  It is addressing a period in which the Old and New Covenants are existing side by side and we know when the Old would pass and all of the promises to Israel would be fulfilled – AD70.  What many fail to recognize is that this passage is teaching the same identical thing as 1 Corinthians 13:8-12.  The gifts of tongues, knowledge, and prophecy were a part of giving divine revelation and clarity for the Church in order to bring Her to maturity and fulfill the Old Covenant’s “in part” status with the return of Christ. But how would Christ’s glorious face be seen?  Well, the same way it was being seen in 2 Corinthians 3-4!  Thus, it is obvious why so many futurists (Charismatics and those seeking to prove the gifts have ceased) avoid the correlation between these two passages!  To equate these two passages is to describe the nature of seeing God’s face as spiritual and not literal and to equate these two passages is to find a clear “end” to the “passing” of the Old Covenant age in AD 70. The only one I have seen that attempts to make the correlation is Budgen in quoting Judisch.  He does make the correlation to seeing “face to face” with “seeing Christ face to face” in 2 Corinthians 3-4: 

“Those who want “the complete thing” of verse 10 to be the state of eternal glory argue that the first clause of verse 12 is referring to seeing Christ in a dim way throughout this life and that the second clause speaks of seeing Christ face to face in a literal sense in heaven.  Such as interpretation is dubious, however, for two reasons.  First, it takes the “dimly” (ainigmati) of the first clause figuratively, but the “face to face” (prosopon pros prosopon) of the second clause literally; a more consistent approach to the intended contrast seems preferable.  If we thought that the object of the verb blepomen (“see”) were Christ, we should note that the concept of seeing Christ face to face occurs elsewhere in the Corinthian letters in a figurative sense (2Cor. 3:18; 4:6).”[15]  

Gentry apparently is afraid to bring up 2 Corinthians 3-4 in seeing Christ’s face in this text. He  not only doesn’t cite the passage, but tries to lightly brush off the idea,

“The most that can be said is that God as the object of seeing must be inferred”[16]     

My friend David Green, has some excellent comments on the harmony of the two passages and connecting them to other related New Testament texts:   

“In both passages Paul speaks of certain things being nullified and other things remaining: In II Cor. 3:7-14, he tells us that the old-covenant world was in progress of being nullified (done away), and in I Cor. 13:8-11 he predicts the nullification (doing away) of the revelatory gifts. Is it unlikely, in view of this initial comparison, that the “childish” (I Cor. 13:11; cf. Gal. 4:1-7) revelatory gifts were nullified at the same time that the prophetic old-covenant age was nullified in A.D. 70?

In I Cor. 13:13, “faith, hope and love” are said to remain or abide. In II Cor. 3:11 it is the New Covenant that remains or abides. The New Covenant in Christ’s blood is the very fulfillment and establishment of God’s “faith, hope and love” among mankind.

Note also the striking parallel between I Cor. 13:12 and II Cor. 3:18: In I Cor. 13:12, Paul says that the Church of his day was seeing (God) “in a mirror,” but that when “That which is perfect” (mature) would come (cf. Eph. 4:13), then the Church would see (Him) “face to Face.” (Rev. 22:4 reveals that the face-to-Face Presence of God is that which the saints in Christ realized in the New-Covenant world in A.D. 70.)

In II Cor. 3:18, Paul reiterates what he said in I Cor. 13:12, saying that the church of his day, though worshiping God with “unveiled face,” was yet seeing Him only “as in a mirror,” and was in progress of being transformed into His Image. There should be little question that the predicted seeing of God “face to Face” in I Cor. 13:12 should parallel the consummated transformation into His Image (cf. I Cor. 15:49) which the church realized in A.D. 70.

Now when we attempt to harmonize the teachings of I Cor. 13:8-13 and II Cor. 3:6-18, we find that the two passages are in truth complimentary dissertations on a common New-Testament theme; and that theme is covenantal transformation:

Old-Covenant Age (Moses – A.D. 30)

Covenantal Transformation (A.D. 30-70)

New-Covenant Age (A.D. 70 – Forever)

Old-covenant imposed
Old covenant being nullified

Old covenant/revelatory gifts nullified

Veiled faces

Unveiled face, as in a mirror, transforming

Face to Face
Slave-Child (Gal. 4:1-7)

Adopted Child (I Cor. 13:9-12; Gal. 4,4,5)

Man (I Cor. 13:11; Eph. 4:13)
New Covenant prophesied

New Covenant ratified in Jesus’ blood and old passing Heb.8:13/Heb.9:8/Heb.10:25, 37

New Covenant remains/faith, hope, love remain [17]

One can see the difference between the traditional Reformed position offered by Kenneth Gentry and his inability to allow Scripture to interpret Scripture and our view in refuting Charismatic and Pentecostal false teaching. 

We shall now examine another text in which the same Greek word is used for “perfect” in 1 Corinthians 13:10 and note some parallel themes once again: 

“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect (Greek teleios as in 1Cor.13:10) man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;” (Ephs.4:11-13)

This “perfect” thing is to be the goal, maturity, and fulfillment of something that is described as developing into manhood—1 Corinthians 13:11.  The “perfect” and “stature of the man” is the bringing to maturity the body of Christ – the Church.  This same concept is described as the “unity of the faith.”  Both in 1Corinthians (1Cor.10:16-17; 1Cor.12:13; & 1Cor.15:28) and throughout Ephesians (Ephs.1:22-23; Ephs.2:11-16; Ephs.3:3-6) the maturing and bringing to fullness the New Covenant Body of Christ is described as the unity of Jew and Gentile – when God would be “all in all.”  Paul both describes this Jew / Gentile unity as “the unity of the faith” and earlier in the context as “the mystery” (Ephs.3:6-9).  The fulfillment of “the mystery” was the fulfillment of the Great Commission, which was a near sign of Christ’s parousia which Paul defines as “Christ in you the hope of glory”:  

“if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.  I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints.  To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Cols.1:23-27) 

This maturity process of the “perfect man” (the Church – Body of Christ) was the “mystery of Christ” in which both Jews and Gentiles would become fellow citizens and be mutually built up as the New Covenant Temple

      “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a HOLY TEMPLE  in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.” (Ephs.2:19-22).  

In 2 Corinthians 6:16 Paul quotes and refers to Ezekiel 37:25-28 as seeing Israel’s New Covenant “millennial” temple being built up spiritually as the Body of Christ – the Church.  Peter likewise taught this in fulfillment of the Psalms and prophets as did the Jerusalem council witnessing the Gentiles being baptized into the Holy Spirit and thus partaking of Israel’s promises (Acts 4:11/1Pet.2:4-10; Acts 15:8, 16-17).  As the Holy Spirit was poured out and enabled the Israelites to erect the tabernacle in the wilderness, the Holy Spirit was poured out in a miraculous way in order to build up the Church into a living temple, tabernacle, or dwelling place of God whereby He would be “all” (all of the promises of God) and “in all” (Jew & Gentile)” (Ephs.1:13-14; 22-23; 1Cor.15:28).  It is not only inconsistent but not exegetically sound to say that the Church is still in its maturing infant state and at the same time claim that the gifts have ceased.  Nor is it proper to claim that the Church has reached maturity by the completion of the cannon.   In Paul’s theology, it is not the writing of prophecy of “that which is perfect” or the bringing to maturity of the “perfect man,” through the giving of the Scriptures, but rather it is the fulfilling of those prophecies and Scriptures that brings the maturing man to his face to face completion.  All of these concepts of the maturing of the Perfect Man/Church and seeing “face to face” point us to the second coming of Christ where Christ would dwell in His people in the temple and new Jerusalem.  In studying our word “perfect” and staying with this theme of the temple we shall now cover one last passage in the NT where telios is used. 

“And the lesson which the Holy Spirit teaches is this—that the way into the true Holy place is not yet open so long as the outer tent still remains in existence. And this is a figure—for the time now present—answering to which both gifts and sacrifices are offered, unable though they are to give complete freedom from sin to him who ministers. For their efficacy depends only on meats and drinks and various washings, ceremonies pertaining to the body and imposed until a time of reformation.  But Christ appeared as a High Priest of the blessings that are soon to come by means of the greater and more perfect (Greek telios) Tent of worship, a tent which has not been built with hands—that is to say does not belong to this material creation” (Heb. 9:8-11WEY). 

Once again we encounter the “perfect” (Greek telios) in the context of contrasting the Old Covenant with the New.  In this particular context in Hebrews, the Old Covenant represents the Holy Place while the New Covenant is represented by the Most Holy Place – in which complete access was soon to come. Also the theme of seeing God’s face is implied since when access into the Most Holy Place would be granted, is when this perfect face to face experience would be realized.  A futurist interpretation of this contrast can be found in the comments of the JFB commentary,   

“the first tabernacle—the anterior tabernacle, representative of the whole Levitical system. While it (the first tabernacle, and that which represents the Levitical system) as yethas a standing” (so the Greek, that is, “has continuance”: “lasts”), the way to heaven (the antitypical “holiest place”) is not yet made manifest (compare Heb 10:19, 20). The Old Testament economy is represented by the holy place, the New Testament economy by the Holy of Holies.”[18]

Some Greek scholars do support that this text is teaching that the Old Covenant had an “imposed” “legal” “standing” (symbolized by the presence of the Holy Place) until the time of reformation which would “soon” be upon the Hebrew audience.  This validates the earlier context of the validity and readiness of the passing of the law (Heb.8:13) and what Jesus taught concerning the legal validity of all the jots and tittles of the Mosaic Law to be in force until all had been fulfilled (Mt.5:17-19).  The veil or the “elements” which separated the two covenant worlds or compartments would soon be completely taken away and the New Covenant Most Holy Place or spiritual New Covenant Creation would be left having the final resurrection standing.  This is what we see in Revelation 21:15-16 through chapter 22) in that the New Jerusalem/Bride is the City described as a perfect cube–The Most Holy Place

Reformed theologian O. Palmer Robertson is not a preterist, and does not even attempt to tackle 1 Corinthians 13:10-12 in his book in seeking to refute Charismatic theology, but he does give a helpful illustration that I can develop while here in Hebrews and Revelation. He writes,

 

“In accepting this new state of things, the people of God should not mourn out of a sense of loss because of the end of the special gifts of revelation any more than the children of Israel should have mourned when the manna stopped as they entered the land of Canaan. They had arrived at their goal! They were in the land flowing with milk and honey! They had the advantage of a full feast from the produce of the land! Should they begin moaning because they had to plow in the morning rather than simply collect the manna? There were, after all, real advantages related to the manna in the wilderness over the produce of the land. Manna was present in adequate supply every morning without fail. But would it have been appropriate for the Israelites to complain over the cessation of the manna because of the work involved in fulfilling God’s command to ‘subdue the earth’ once they had eterend the land of promise?

     The church’s relation to the miraculous gifts may be paralleled to Israel’s experience with the manna. Should the church complain that the miraculous gifts of tongues, prophecy and the ability to work wondrous signs have ceased as a result of the coming of the consummate revelation in the person of Jesus Christ? Obviously not. It would be nothing but childish immaturity for God’s privileged people today to complain about the cessation of the spectacular means to the end when the end itself has arrived.”[19]

 

Having already examined “the end” or “goal” elsewhere in the NT, we correctly see or understand this term to refer to Christ’s return in AD 70 to fulfill the law and the prophets, not  the writing of–or the cannon of Scripture itself. The book of Hebrews describes a second exodus under the New Covenant in which Christ’s second coming is likened to the inheritance and “rest” for God’s people. The “another day” and “day” of “rest” and inheriting “the heavenly country” (cf. Heb. 3-4, 12) throughout Hebrews is discussing Christ’s “in a very little while” second coming that would “not tarry” (Heb. 9:26-28, 10:25-37). When Christ came “soon” to cloth and reward the Church with the New Creation/World of Righteousness, She received the “hidden manna” and beheld Her Lord and Husband’s Face (Rev. 2:17/22:4, 12). Apart of the Churches mission in the New Heavens and Earth is laboring in the work of evangelizing the nations (Isaiah 65/Rev. 22:17). We simply do not need the miraculous and immature gifts when we have God’s presence today being “all” (His wonderful attributes) “and in all” (the Church consisting of all kinds of men) today!           

 

Before concluding, I would like to answer one objection on 1 Corinthians 13:10-12 that Keith Mathison has given,  

 

“If the ”perfect” has come and we now see face-to-face rather than in a glass darkly (1 Cor. 13:10, 12), why do we have to grow in our understanding of doctrine?  In the full-preterist system, it seems that the transitional period when Christ was away was more doctrinally stable than the present perfect age when Christ is here in fullness.  Why did the coming of Christ in 70 lead to such a rapid doctrinal decay and confusion?”[20]  

 

First, the passage is not dealing with a perfect intellectual knowledge of all things (ie. all doctrine). 

 

Secondly, the transitionary stage was not more “doctrinally stable” (ex. read 1&2 Corinthians, Ephesians, Galatians, etc). It was actually less because the draw of the Old Covenant world through Satan’s influence was still present.

 

Thirdly and lastly, the “fullness” or maturity of “knowledge” and “face-to-face” is what Daniel said would “increase” and that is a knowledge of Messiah and His Kingdom. Or simply put, it is New Covenant knowledge of His redemptive work in contrast to not looking at Him through the mirror of the Old Covenant world any longer.  God and His Church do not have a relationship to each other based upon the Old Covenant order – it, (along with our sins) are “no longer remembered” because that Covenant has “vanished” (Heb. 8:13). Thus, the Church is not in a state of “doctrinal decay” or “confusion” on this matter! The Greek tense of Mark 8:38-9:1 indicates that the Church would know and understand that the Kingdom had “already come” as a result of Christ returning in power (ie. upon Jerusalem in AD 70 – Mark 13).  Mathison maintains in the same book, that the coming of Jesus in Matthew 13 happened in AD 70 and that the Church has organically grown in this understanding (ie. postmillennial partial preterism). Therefore, the Church for the most part has understood that the Old Covenant kingdom passed away through the cross and or AD 70 and that the New Covenant Kingdom has come and is here now.  The Church understands that She does not “know” Christ based upon Old Covenant standards.  Realizing this is the CORE ISSUE of the text, then it can be easily seen how the Church has come to a “face to face” understanding Post AD 70.  Is there room to grow in understanding the beauty of the New Covenant world of righteousness and what Jesus has done for us?  “Yes.”  After all, we are talking about “eternal life” and therefore, we will always be growing in our understanding of His grace and glorious Kingdom. 

 
CONCLUSION

In AD 70 Christ returned within the first century “this generation” and placed His glory within His Church—thus forming and consummating God’s New Creation (2 Cor. 1:20; Cols. 1:27; Jn. 14:2-3, 23; Lk. 17:20-37/Lk. 21:20-32). The boy/child has reached manhood/maturity and is actively laboring in the work of evangelizing the nations of the world. The Church is God’s glorified New Creation bringing healing to the Nations (Rev. 22:17). 

As I stated in my introduction, I was once a Charismatic as a young Christian. It was apart of God’s sovereign plan in my life to attend John Wimber’s church (the Vineyard) and Chuck Smith’s church (Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, CA) so that I could eventually help and comfort Christians coming out of this false teaching. I was extremely zealous and when everyone else was laying hands on the people with headaches and backaches, I was laying my hands on the people in wheelchairs. Nothing ever happened and I saw how others manipulated the people in the wheelchairs with a guilt trip, “you must have someone in your life you haven’t forgiven—please visualize that you forgiving that person etc.” And for a while I was very disturbed that I couldn’t speak in “tongues.” But eventually practically everyone gives in from the peer-pressure and learned behavior of these churches and begins “speaking in tongues.” If you listen, you will find those “speaking in tongues” are usually repeating 3-10 words at the most and they are NOT known foreign languages of nations as was the case of Acts 2. There is no “miracle” here only learned behavior. Nor is there any “demonic” activity taking place causing these people to do this. Just really bad Bible teaching and in many cases a sincere desire to worship God the best they know how—selah. But now you know better J  

Many non-Charismatics have claimed that when Pentecostals and Charismatics speak in “tongues” that it must be demonic. After all, the Roman Catholics and Mormon’s even speak in these “tongues,” they reason. Yet again, this is only learned behavior and Satan was crushed and destroyed “shortly” at Christ’s return in AD 70 (Romans 16:20; Revelation 20-22:6-7, 10-12, 20). I recently watched a video of a Charismatic giving a lecture on the influence of demons upon Christians. He went on for about an hour describing every kind of demon possible: demon of lust, demon of bitterness/un-forgiveness, demon of alcohol/nicotine/caffeine, etc. There were even demons you had in you that were passed down from the sins of your long dead ancestors! In other words the entire audience was CONDITIONED to believe they had a demon in them right then and now! So after this “Bible teaching,” he then “prayed” for god to deliver his people from these spirits. Well, everyone and their grandmother (literally) didn’t want a demon in them and surely wanted to get rid of lust, bitterness, etc., so after a little coaching from the more experienced Charismatics (of flailing and spitting demons into handkerchiefs), they began to follow suit! 

There simply is no speaking in tongues, no approaching God through an Old Covenant mirror/partial knowledge, no new divine revelations being given to the Church today, etc. Christ as our Perfect New Creation has come and our sins have been forgiven. If this isn’t exciting enough for you, go buy a Hal Lindsey book and watch TBN. But if you do, you will not be worshiping God in spirit and in truth and you will continue to place your hope on things which can be seen and not on those things which cannot be seen.   

God had created the Old Covenant with Israel to include “signs and wonders.” God’s miraculous signs demonstrated to the other Nations that Jehovah’s divine revelation and unfolding of Himself and His redemptive plan through Israel’s prophets was true and could be trusted unlike the false gods and prophets of the other Nations. The purpose of miraculous healings in the New Testament were to demonstrate that Jesus (as God) could forgive sin (cf. Mark 2:1-12). Once Messiah finished fulfilling Israel’s promises of redemption for His people, by “putting away the sin” of His people forever (the Church/the transformed Israel of God), the immature and temporal state of these gifts ceased. This is the reason the miraculous gifts have not continued into the New Covenant Church age or the NT’s “age about to come.” To teach otherwise is not exegetical and it brings emotional damage upon professing and even real immature Christians.

It has been my prayer and desire that this article will get widely read and eventually brings healing to Charismatics and non-Charismatics alike. But if real and lasting healing is truly desired and sought after from the reader, it can only come from a solid exegetical treatment of 1 Corinthians 13:8-12 and the related texts. The Biblical Preterist position is the ONLY position that does this.           



[2] (Wayne Grudem, AN INTRODUCTION TO BIBLICAL DOCTRINE SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994), 1034.)

[3] Chuck Smith, Charisma vs. Charismania, p. 122-123, Harvest House Pub., 1983. 

[4] Barnett, Ibid. see pages 176, 178-179.

[5] Milton S. Terry, BIBLICAL HERMENEUTICS A Treatise on the Interpretation of he Old and New Testaments, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Academie Books, 1986), 441.

[6] John Owen, The Works of John Owen, Banner of Truth pub., Volume 9, 134-135; John Lightfoot, Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica, (Volume 3, Hendrickson pub, 2003) 452. John Brown, The Discourses and Sayings of Our Lord, 3 Volumes, (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust Publications, [1852] 1967, 170. John Locke, A Paraphrase and Notes on the Epistles of St Paul Volume 2, (Oxford University Press, 1987), 617-618. R.C. Sproul The Last Days According to Jesus, Baker Books, 1998. Kenneth Gentry, He Shall Have Dominion, (Tyler TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1992), 363-365. Kenneth Gentry (contributing author), Four Views on the Book Of Revelation, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1998), 89, cf. 43 for 1 Jn. 2:17. Gary DeMar, Last Days Madness, 68-74, 141-154, 191-192. James B. Jordan, Through New Eyes Developing a Biblical View of the World, (Brentwood, TN: Wolgemuth & Hyatt, Pub., 1998), 269-279. H.T. Fletcher-Louis (contributing author) Eschatology in Bible & Theology, (Downers Grove, Illinois: Inter Varsity Press, 1997), 145-169. Peter J. Leithart, The Promise of His Appearing: An Exposition of Second Peter, (Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 2004). Keith A. Mathison, Postmillennialism: An Eschatology of Hope, (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1999), 114, 157-158. N.T. Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God (Fortress Press, 1996), 345-346. N.T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God (Fortress Press, 2003), 645, n.42. Hank Hanegraaff, The Apocalypse Code (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson pub., 2007), 84-86.

 

[7] Multi-authored debate Edited by Wayne A. Gruden and Stanely N. Gundry, ARE MIRACULOUS GIFTS FOR TODAY?, debated by:  Richard B. Gaffin Jr. (Reformed Cessationalist view), Robert L. Saucy (Open but cautious view), C. Samuel Storms (Third Wave View), and Douglas A. Oss (Pentecostal/Charismatic View), p.55, Zondervan pub., 1996, parenthesis and emphasis added.

[8] Kenneth L. Gentry Jr., Response to Wayne Gruden, pp. 53-54, Foot Stool Publications, 1989, emphasis added.

[9] John MacArthur, THE MACARTHUR NEW TESTAMENT COMMENTARY 1 CORINTHIANS, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1984), 364-365. John MacArthur, The MACARTHUR Study Bible, (Word Publishing—a division of Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1997), 1750.

[10] John MacArthur, THE MACARTHUR NEW TESTAMENT COMMENTARY 1 CORINTHIANS, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1984), 365.

[11] Ibid. 365.

[12] Gentry, Ibid., 13-25.

[13] MacArthur, ibid., 360.

[14] Tom Holland, CONTOURS OF PAULING THEOLOGY, A RADICAL NEW SURVEY OF THE INFLUENCES OF PAUL’S BIBLICAL WRITINGS, (Scotland, UK: Mentor Imprint Christian Focus Publications, 2004), 120.

[15] Victor Budgen, THE CHARISMATICS and the word of God a biblical and historical perspective on the charismatic movement, p. 80, Evangelical Press Pub., 1989, emphasis added. 

[16] Kenneth L. Gentry Jr., The Charismatic Gift of Prophecy A Reformed Response to Wayne Gruden, (Memphis, NT: Footstool Publications, 1986), 57.

[17] David Green, “A Response to With Unveiled Face By Richard Leonard http://www.preteristcosmos.com/unveiled.htm 

[18] Jamieson, Robert ; Fausset, A. R. ; Fausset, A. R. ; Brown, David ; Brown, David: A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments. Oak Harbor, WA : Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997, S. Heb 9:8”

[19] O. Palmer Robertson, THE Final WORD a Biblical response to the case for tongues & prophecy today, (Carlisle, PA: THE BANNER OF TRUTH TRUST, 2004) 69-70.

[20] Keith A. Mathison, Postmillennialism An Eschatology of Hope, (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1999), 243.



 

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KENNETH GENTRY’S CONFUSION & THE ANALOGY OF SCRIPTURE ON DANIEL 12:2-3=MATTHEW 13:39-43=MATTHEW 24:1-31

KENNETH GENTRY’S CONFUSION
AND
THE ANALOGY OF SCRIPTURE ON DANIEL 12:2-3=MATTHEW 13:39-43=MATTHEW 24:1-31

By: Michael J. Sullivan

This article will focus on Kenneth Gentry’s confusing comments about the disciples question concerning “the end of the age” in Matthew 24:3 and Mr. Gentry’s admission that the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 was a corporate body resurrection for the Church in AD 70 and is not addressing a fleshly corpose resurrection at the end of time. It is my proposition that: 1) Gentry’s position that the NT imminent time texts “demand” an AD 70 fulfillment and that Daniel 12:2-3 and Matthew 24:30-31 were fulfilled by AD 70 is correct and 2) That the standard Reformed position which understands these passages to be referring to the general resurrection (connected to Matthew 13; John 5; 1 Cor. 15; 1 Thess. 4; Rev. 20) is also an exegetically sound proposition to take. However we need to press the question as to which church tradition and public confessions and creeds concerning the end of the age/the age to come and the resurrection are “infallibly certain” and which ones aren’t: 1) the partial preterist view or 2) the classic amillennialists view? And is it possible to bring the two together to form a more exegetical and orthodox (“straight”) position on the timing and spiritual nature of the general resurrection as defended by the Biblical preterist position of the author?    

Gentry’s confusion on the “end of the age” in Matthew 24:3

Here is what I was trying to reconcile in Gentry’s writings on the “end of the age” as both taking place in AD 70, and yet also allegedly being a reference to the end of the world?

“Christ’s teaching here is extremely important to redemptive history.  He is responding to the question of His disciples regarding when the end of the “age” (Gk., aion) will occur (24:3).  In essence, His full answer is:  when the Romans lay waste the temple…”[1]

And that,

“The change of the age is finalized and sealed at the destruction of Jerusalem; allusions to the A.D. 70 transition abound:  “Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste of death till they see the kingdom of God present with power” (Mark 9:1)”[2] 

And therefore this “change of the age” and one of the “allusions to the AD 70 transition” judgment of this change can be found earlier on in John the Baptist’s teaching,  

“Matthew records John’s warning that “the axe is already laid at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (3:10).  Here John draws his imagery from God’s judgment against Assyria (Isa. 10:33-34):  that sort of judgment soon will break upon Israel.  Indeed, “his winnowing fork is in his hand” already (Matt. 3:12).”[3]

R.C. Sproul claims that a “fundamental” hermeneutic of “preterism” (partial or full), is the interpretation that the “end of the age” harvest/judgment in Matthew 3 and 13 was fulfilled by AD 70:

“Fundamental to preterism is the contention that the phrase “the end of the age” refers specifically to the end of the Jewish age and the beginning of the age of the Gentiles, or church age.  J. Suart Russell begins his exposition of this concept by referring to the content of Matthew 13:” 

“…Kosmos in ver. 38, 40, refers to a period of time, and should be rendered age or epock… It is of the greatest importance to understand correctly the true meaning of this word, and of the phrase “the end of the aion, or age.”  Aion is, as we have said, a period of time, or an age.  It is exactly equivalent to the Latin word aevum, which is merely aion in a Latin dress; and the phrase, sun-teleia tou aionos, translated in our English version, “the end of the world, should be “the close of the age.”

Russell argues that the end of the age signals not merely an “end,” but a consummation of one age that is followed immediately by another.  This was part of the traditional view of the Jews with regard to their Messiah.  The new age that would be called the “kingdom of heaven.”  The existing age was the Jewish dispensation, which was drawing to a close.  This idea was central to the preaching of John the Baptist, who spoke of the time that was “at hand.”[4]

Indeed the analogy of Scripture principle of interpretation and that of the majority of commentaries (Reformed and Evangelical) tie the harvest/judgment of Matthew 3:2-12, Matthew 13:40-43, with that of Christ gathering His elect at His coming at the “end of the age” in Matthew 24:3-31. This of course begs the question as to which is a more “orthodox” and exegetical interpretation to embrace in these texts–preterism or futurism? In the above quotes Gentry in Matthew 24:3 and Matthew 3:10-12 along with Sproul, seem to take these passages to be clearly teaching that the end of the age happened in AD 70. But let’s now examine where Gentry’s “eschatological schizophrenia” sets in.     

In the same debate with Thomas Ice, Gentry writes,

“In these questions we sense once again the bewilderment among the disciples at Jesus’ teaching—a bewilderment such as is seen elsewhere in Matthew, as in their confusion about the “leaven of the Pharisees” (16:6-12), Christ’s death (vv. 21-23), the purpose of the Transfiguration (17:4-5), Christ’s interest in children (19:13-15), and the nature of kingdom service (20:20-25).  Quite clearly Christ divides their question into two episodes in His answer:  (1) He speaks about the coming Great Tribulation resulting in the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in A.D. 70 (24:4-34, which is in “this generation,” v. 34); and (2) His distant future second coming at the end of history (24:36-25:46, which is after a “long time,” 25:19).”[5]

It is important for Gentry to assume the disciples were “bewildered” so that Gentry (like all futurists) can eisegetically slip in the concept that the discourse has something to do about a coming of Christ to end the planet. Gentry has sought to clarify what he meant by the disciples “bewilderment” and their alleged false assumption of the “end of the age in Matthew 24:3 by writing to me,

“I hold that the disciples assumed (wrongly) the destruction of the temple would mean the end of the world.


Philo assumed its perpetual endurance: “The temple has for its revenues not only portions of land, but also other possessions of much greater extent and importance, which will never be destroyed or diminished; for as long as the race of mankind shall last, the revenues likewise of the temple will always be preserved, being coeval in their duration with the universal world” (Spec. 1:76).

Josephus records that the Jews “put your trust in the walls of Jerusalem” (J.W. 2:16:4 [378] LCL).”[6]

Yet, once again, Sproul claims to assume that the disciples were asking a question grounded in making a “false assumption” that the temples destruction—end of the age—and coming of the Son of man, were not apart of the same eschatological event, is simply not a hermeneutical distinctive of either partial or full preterism,

“Calvin regarded as erroneous the disciples’ assumption that the destruction of Jerusalem would coincide with the coming of Christ and the end of the world.  This means that Jesus was answering a question that contained false assumptions.  The preterist view of J. Stuart Russell differs sharply from the view of Calvin.  Russell argues that the disciples’ assumption was correct – with one crucial qualifier:  the disciples were asking not about the end of the world, but abut the end of the age.  This distinction is critical not only to Russell, but to virtually all preterists.  The end in view is not the end of all time but the end of the Jewish age.”[7]

Indeed, it is not a disagreement that only made by full preterists, but partial preterists as well. A postmillennial partial preterist colleague of Gentry’s, Gary DeMar writes,

“The disciples’ question involves three interrelated, contemporary events: (1) the time of the temple’s destruction; (2) the sign that will signal Jesus’ coming related to the destruction of the temple; and (3) the sign they should look for telling them that “the end of the age” has come. These questions are related to the destruction of the temple and the end of the Old Covenant redemptive system and nothing else.”[8] 

Gary correctly develops the context in Matthew’s gospel to support his (and others such as Milton Terry’s) position,

“The “woes” of Matthew 23 and the destruction of the temple and the city of Jerusalem were a result of all that John the Baptist and Jesus had been warning the scribes, Pharisees, and chief priests regarding the judgment that would come upon them if they did not repent“All these things,” Jesus cautioned, “shall come upon this generation” (23:36).  It is after hearing about the desolation of their “house” – the temple – that the disciples ask about the “temple buildings” (24:1).  Jesus answered the disciples’ questions relating to the time and signs of Jerusalem’s destruction, always with the background of Matthew 23 in view, since His comments in that chapter had precipitated the questions (24:3).  The Old Covenant order would end with the destruction of Jerusalem.  This would be the “sign” of the “end of the age,” the end of the Old Covenant, and the consummation of the New Covenant.”[9]

Unfortunately, Gary in his Last Days Madness book avoids any exegetical interaction of Jesus’ discussion about the end of “this age” in Matthew 13 and how this phrase is exegetically and contextually tied into the flow of Matthew’s gospel with that of Matthew 3 and 24. He does however concede that “The end of the age” is a covenantal phrase.”[10] I think Gary saw the lights of the imminent resurrection train coming and would therefore just avoided this passage altogether. However, as we will see later in our discussion of the resurrection of Daniel 12, Gary does publish and endorse (to some extent), James Jordan’s view that this resurrection closed the end of the Old Covenant age in AD 70.

But what about those passages that Gentry referenced to somehow prove that the disciples were allegedly confused in associating the temples destruction with the end of the world? Let’s go over them and see if perhaps they end up “proving too much” and in fact make our case.

The first text Gentry cites is (Mt. 16:6-12) where the disciples were confused over the “leaven of the Pharisees.”  The text clearly states that they didn’t understand and thought Jesus was talking about literal bread (v.7) and then Jesus rebukes and corrects them (vss.8-11).  From there Matthew tells us that they then understood (v.12) “then they understood.”  So on the first “proof text,” it only proves our case in that when the disciples are confused about something Matthew explicitly states it! 

The second text Gentry cites is (Mt. 16:21-23) where the disciples are confused over Jesus’ statements of His impending crucifixion.  The text clearly explains this confussion in the words of Peter trying to correct Jesus and then the following rebuke of Jesus (vss.22-23).  Again, where there is confusion or error Matthew clearly points it out.

The third text Gentry cites is (Mt.17:4-5) concerning the disciples confusion over the transfiguration.  Again, the text states their error of seeking to pitch tents for Moses and Elijah because the Father rebukes them (v.5).  The first part of the disciples confusion was in their seeking the abiding (“let’s make tents”) of the glory of the Old Covenant (Moses = law & Elijah = the prophets) with the EVERLASTING New Covenant (Jesus = NC), (cf. Also 2 Cor. 3 & 4; Mt. 24:35).  The second thing they were confused on was why Jesus didn’t want them to speak of the vision (vss.9-10)?  After all wasn’t Elijah coming in the vision a fulfillment of prophecy they asked (v.10)?  Jesus corrects their understanding of this by pointing out that Elijah’s prophecy had already been fulfilled in John (vss.11-12).  Then Matthew as a responsible narrator clearly tells us the readers, that then they “understood” (v.13).

The fourth text that Gentry gives is the disciples being rebuked by Jesus because they were rebuking those who were brining children to Him (Mt. 19:13-15).  Jesus rebuking them makes it clear in the text that the disciples were in error and then He instructs them on the kingdom using the children.   

The fifth example Gentry gives is that of the disciples understanding of being great in the kingdom (Mt. 20:20-25).  Jesus clearly states, “You do not know what you are asking,” (v.22).  Then He proceeds to instruct them that there can be no crown in the kingdom without suffering first (vss.22-23).  Then He follows this with instruction on humility (vss. 24-27). 

To conclude these “examples” in Matthew’s gospel we are forced to a much different conclusion than Gentry.  For in each of these cases Gentry cites, Matthew is a very responsible narrator and explains when there is confusion on the part of the disciples and when there isn’t.  When we come to the one question broken down in three parts in Matthew 24:3 there is no hint at all from Matthew that the disciples were confused let alone Jesus “correcting them” or “ignoring” them as John MacArthur has eisegetically claimed.  At this point Gentry is just as much of an irresponsible “exegete” as MacArthur, Ice and others who have read their  personal creedal confusion of the second coming into the Olivet Discourse.  We should however thank Mr. Gentry for taking the time to cite these passages that explain when the disciples were confused, for in doing so Gentry has proven too much and made our point—according to Matthew’s gospel if the disciples were confused in the Olivet discourse Matthew would have pointed it out to his readers as he does everywhere else – selah.  Gentry also fails to address the very clear statement that the disciples did in fact understand Jesus’ teaching on the “end of the age” in Matthew 13:51 – oops.

The other issue here demonstrating that the Olivet discourse is not about the passing of the literal planet (contrary to Gentry’s eisegetical claims), has to do with how the Jews understood the temple and their land to be “heaven and earth” (Mt. 24:35).   I too would reference Philo and Josephus in a different context than Gentry has, that is, in their understanding of how the literal temple represented the “heavens and earth.” For example Josephus writes,

“However, this proportion of the measures of the tabernacle proved to be an imitation of the system of the world: for that third part thereof which was within the four pillars, to which the priests were not admitted, is, as it were, a Heaven peculiar to God…”[11]


“When Moses distinguished the tabernacle into three parts, and allowed two of them to the priests as a place accessible to the common, he denoted the land and the sea, these being of general access to all; but he set apart the third division for God, because heaven is inaccessible to men.”[12]

Reformed and Evangelical theologians are finally seeing a grammatical/historical connection between the “heaven and earth” and the literal temple. For example G.K. Beale concedes,

“…that ‘heaven and earth’ in the Old Testament may sometimes be a way of referring to Jerusalem or its temple, for which ‘Jerusalem’ is a metonymy.” [13]

And I especially like Crispin H.T. Fletcher-Louis on Mark 13:31,

“The temple was far more than the point at which heaven and earth met. Rather, it was thought to correspond to, represent, or, in some sense, to be ‘heaven and earth’ in its totality”[14]

Indeed the temple was set forth as a creation of heaven and earth: 

 
Day
Creation
Tabernacle
Day 1

Heavens are stretched out like a curtain (Ps. 104:2)

Tent (Exod.26:7)
Day 2
Firmament (Gen. 1:2)
Temple veil (Exod.26:33)
Day 3
Waters below firmament
Laver or bronze sea (Exod. 30:18)
Day 4
Lights (Gen.1:14)
Light stand (Exod. 25:31)
Day 5
Birds (Gen. 1:20)
Winged cherubim (Exod. 25:20)
Day 6
Man (Gen. 1:27)
Aaron the high priest (Exod. 28:1)
Day 7
Cessation (Gen. 2:1)
Blessing (Gen. 2:3)
Completion (Gen.2:2)
Cessation (Exod. 39:32)
Mosaic blessing (Exod. 39:43
Completion (Exod. 39:43)[15]
 
 

To interpret Jesus’ words in Matthew 24:35 as a reference to the temple, fits within the immediate context of the destruction of the temple and offers a much better grammatical/historically approach to interpreting the Olivet discourse than Gentry’s position.

For the sake of being thorough, lets take a look at Gentry’s quote of Philo again and address the eternal “revenues” of the temple, “Philo assumed its perpetual endurance: “The temple has for its revenues not only portions of land, but also other possessions of much greater extent and importance, which will never be destroyed or diminished; for as long as the race of mankind shall last, the revenues likewise of the temple will always be preserved, being coeval in their duration with the universal world” (Spec. 1:76).” Like Josephus,  Philo was correct to see the literal temple as a creation representing “heaven and earth,” but was sadly mistaken in his understanding that the OT prophets predicted that the “revenues” of the coming New Covenant temple were literal and that a literal temple would stand forever upon the earth. In light of the inspired NT teachings concerning the Messianic New Covenant temple, we understand the “revenues” of men beautifying the temple not as literal riches, but with the riches or glory of their purified faith (Jew and Gentile) and fruits of the Spirit which is produced by God Himself and who in return glorifies the believer with the splendor and righteousness of Christ (Haggai 2:7-9; Isaiah 60-66; 1 Peter 1:7, 2:4-5; Revelation 21-22:17). 

Before leaving Matthew 24, I wanted to briefly address the allegedly “clear” two sections argument of Gentry,

“Quite clearly Christ divides their question into two episodes in His answer:  (1) He speaks about the coming Great Tribulation resulting in the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in A.D. 70 (24:4-34, which is in “this generation,” v. 34); and (2) His distant future second coming at the end of history (24:36-25:46, which is after a “long time,” 25:19).”[16]

It can’t be that “clear” if Gentry can’t even persuade friend and fellow postmillennial partial preterist Gary DeMar, who contextually rebuts his interpretation,

“In every other New Testament context, “a long time” means nothing more than an extended period of time (Luke 8:27; 23:8; John 5:6; Acts 8:11; 14:3, 28; 26:5 29; 27:21; 28:6). Nowhere does it mean centuries or multiple generations.”[17]

In every parable in Matthew 24:43-25:30 Jesus as the Thief, Master, or Bridegroom returns within the lifetime of the individual’s in the story. So a “long time” in this context for the Master to return home for example, may be a year or two. There is no exegetical evidence that would support Gentry’s claim that this is a 2000 + years “long time” of Christ’s return. The Olivet Discourse is laid out with recapitulation and so this alleged “second section” is in actuality still one united teaching fitting within Jesus’ “this generation” time frame of His return.     

Gentry’s confusion on the resurrection and judgment of Daniel 12:2-3/Matthew 13 and the analogy of Scripture

I am not sure if Gentry has this in print anywhere, but in answering my question on the timing of the resurrection in Daniel 12:2-3, 7, Gentry concedes,

“Dan 12 sees the “resurrection” of Israel in the birth of the Christian Church, which is the New Israel. Thus, it bears similarities with Eze 37 and the resurrection of the dry bones of Israel.”

Dan 12 is not dealing with bodily resurrection but national resurrection (as does Eze 37). Dan 12 sees the “resurrection” of Israel in the birth of the Christian Church, which is the New Israel. Thus, it bears similiarities with Eze 37 and the resurrection of the dry bones of Israel.”[18]

This is practically the same view taken by James Jordan in his recent commentary on Daniel. Here are some good excerpts from this excellent commentary,

“The death of the Church in the Great Tribulation, and her resurrection after that event, were the great proof that Jesus had accomplished the work He came to do. The fact that the Church exists today, nearly 2000 years after her death in the Great Tribulation, is the ongoing vindication of Jesus work.”[19]

“Revelation takes up where Daniel leaves off, and deals mostly with the Apostolic Age and the death and resurrection of the Church.”[20]

“What Daniel is promised is that after his rest in Abraham’s bosom, he will stand up with all God’s saints and join Michael on a throne in heaven, as described in Revelation 20, an event that came after the Great Tribulation and in the year AD 70.[21]

We of course agree that Daniel 12:2-3 is addressing the national or corporate body resurrection of the Church as it was in the process of being raised out from the persecutions and the dying corpse of Old Covenant Israel and the Adamic body of sin, death, and thus the Old Covenant “the law” by AD 70 (Matthew 21:43/1 Peter 1:9, 4:5-7; Matthew 24:28; Ezk. 37/John 5:24-30; Romans 5-8, 11:15-25; 1 Cor. 15:54-55). 

Gentry, however has been silent in answering my followed-up question which arises from his (new?) interpretation of Daniel 12:2-3. That being, how does he now interpret the parables of the sower and that of the wheat and the tares in Matthew 13:1-29; 24-43? Reformed theologian and Pastor Peter Leithart has conceded that the end of the age in Matthew 13 is a reference to the end of the Old Covenant age in AD 70,

“Jesus parable of the tares has been interpreted for centuries as a parable about the church age, but it makes much better sense as a parable about the parabolic description of the post-exilic history of Israel.  With the return from exile, Yahweh sowed the land with the seed of man and beast, but since that time Satan has been busy sowing tares among the wheat.  Jesus has now come with His winnowing fork, and before the end of the age, the wheat and tares will be separated.  The end of the age thus refers not to the final judgment but to the close of “this generation.”[22]                         

Jordan connects the resurrection of Daniel 12:2 as an “evangelistic” resurrection which took place in our world tying it to the Parable of the Soils,

“…The Parable of the Soils fits here (Matthew 13:3-23): three different kinds of people come to life, but only one of the three kinds is awakened to persevering, everlasting life.

     During His ministry, Jesus raised the nation back to life. He healed the sick, cleansed the unclean, brought dead people back to life, restored the Law, enterend the Temple as King, etc.”

     “Thus, a resurrection of Israel is in view. The wicked are raised, but do not profit from it, and are destroyed. The saints experience a great distress, and live with God forever and ever.”[23]         

One of the things I like about Jordan’s interpretation of Daniel 12:2-3/Matthew 13, is that it supports our view of an “already and not yet” with the present and progressive tense being used of the death “being destroyed” and the corporate seed/body of the Church “being raised” in 1 Corinthians 15. The gospel and Israel were being sown in the Old Covenant world of Israel/Roman Empire and Her glorious transformation would soon be completed within the lifetime of the first century Corinthian Church (2 Cor. 3/1Cor. 15).[24] The wheat and the tares were growing side by side as their hearts and minds were reacting to the gospel of Jesus Christ as it was being thrown out among the Land of Israel and the Roman Empire. One group was being transformed into the resurrection image of Christ and was ready to bring forth fruit at the end of the Old Covenant age/harvest in AD 70. The other group became so hardened that they sought to persecute and destroy God’s people only to be raised to “everlasting condemnation” and thrown into the lake of fire. 

Another hermeneutical issue which Gentry and Jordan fail to address is that Daniel 12:2-3 is not the only corporate body or national (cf. Ezk. 37) resurrection text in the OT referenced in the NT. Jesus and Paul reference Isaiah 25, Isaiah 28, and Hosea 13 in Matthew 24 and 1 Corinthians 15 concerning the description of the resurrection as a trumpet “gathering” or “change.” The “death” in these contexts is a spiritual-corporate-covenantal death for Israel as She violated “the [Mosaic] Law/Torah and thus she is banished (cf. Deut. 28) from Her land and exiled into death and “sown” and buried in the soil of the Gentile nations (same kind of national resurrection as Ezk. 37 of which Gentry cites). Once again Gentry has some problems with the consistency or lack thereof with his partial preterist hermeneutics.                 

Gentry, has no choice but to agree with Leithart and Jordan that the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 took place by AD 70. Why? Because Jesus references Daniel’s resurrection in Matthew 13:43 and states that this harvest/judgment/resurrection will take place at the end of His (Old Covenant) “this age” (v. 40 NKJV). It sounds as if Gentry may be getting a call from Gary North who states of those taking a preterist interpretation of Matthew 13 and the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares, “Anyone who equates the fulfillment of [the parable of he wheat and the tares] with A.D. 70 has broken with the historic faith of the church.” How can Gentry answer this charge of “breaking from the historic faith of the Church” and associating with Jordan and Leihart who very clearly do? Perhaps with a 2000 + years of an “already” and “not yet” eschatology: one for Israel and one for the Church? The problem for Mr. Gentry is that the text clearly defines the “not yet” to be closed at the end of the Old Covenant age and not the Church age which is described as having no end (cf. Ephs. 3:20-21). Since Gentry wants to reference historical sources, we should remind him that the Jews of Jesus’ day clearly understood the phrase “this age” to be a reference to the Old Covenant Mosaic age of the Law and the “age about to come” as the New Covenant Messianic age. So the “birth” of the Church takes place after the harvest/judgment/resurrection of the Old Covenant age in AD 70 – selah. 

The other problem here is that postmillennialists posit the growth of the wheat and tares to be a description of the Church age which is equivalent to the millennium period of Revelation 20. Therefore, the “not yet” period which closes the millennium of Revelation 20 is the “soon” Second Coming of Jesus to raise the dead at the end of the Old Covenant age in AD 70! Jordan is correct in that Daniel’s soul/spirit came out from Abraham’s Bosom to be raised to everlasting life and the living were changed or raised with an evangelistic resurrection which placed both groups into union with Christ and thus made them a glorified New Covenant Body/Temple/Creation. 

It is my proposition that the phrase “end of the age” means the same thing throughout the gospel of Mathew – chapters 13, 24, and 28:18-20. Gentry, Jordan, and Leithart are forced to arbitrarily pick and choose. If they claim the “end of the age” in Matthew 28:18-20 is the end of the world or NC age, then they have: 1) created two great commissions – one brings an end to the OC age (Mt. 13 & 24) and another allegedly brings an end to the NC one (Mt. 28); and 2) they need to explain how the charismatic gifts are not for today in order to help carry out the second great commission which allegedly lasts until the end of the world (Matthew 28:18-20/MARK 16:15-18).  

The chart below refutes Gentry’s view that the NT describes 2 Great Commissions with only one being fulfilled by AD 70:

PROPHECY            FULFILLMENT

“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world (Greek oikumene) for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:14)

“But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed:

‘Their sound has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world (Greek oikumene)” (Romans 10:18)

“And the gospel must first be published among all nations (Greek ethnos)” “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, (Greek ethnos)…” “…I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.” (Mark 13:10; Mt.28:19-20)

“…My gospel… has been made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures has been made known to all nations (Greek ethnos)…” (Romans 16:25-26)

“And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world(Greek kosmos) and preach the gospel to every creature” “…And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues (Greek glossa) (Mark 16:15, 17)

 

“…of the gospel, which has come to you, as it has also in all the world(Greek kosmos), as is bringing forth fruit…,” (Colossians 1:5-6).

And he said unto them ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature (Greek kitisis) “ (Mark 16:15)

“…from the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature (Greek kitisis) under heaven, of which I, Paul became a minister” (Colossians 1:23)

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth/land (Greek ge)” (Acts 1:8).

Prophecy had begun to be fulfilled: “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues (Greek glossa), as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation (Greek ethnos) under heaven.

 
 
 
 
 
 

“But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed: ‘Their sound has gone out to all the earth/land (Greek ge), and their words to the ends of the world” (Romans 10:18) 

 

Prophecy would be fulfilled “shortly” : “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth/land (Greek ge), and to every nation (Geek ethnos), and kindred (Greek phule) and tongue (Greek glossa), and people, (Greek laos)” (Rev.1:1; Rev.14:6). See also Revelation 10:6-7; 20:3; 22:10-11 in regards to the Great Commission success to the “nations” and imminent fulfillment of the Great Commission motif.

 
 

  

The harvest/resurrection/ judgment of the dead which brings God’s people into the new creation is identified in Revelation 7, 11, 14 and 20 and is identified as being fulfilled “soon” and “shortly” through an imminent tribulation and Second Coming of Jesus. The amillennial view is correct to link the recapitulation structure of the harvest/judgment/resurrection of Revelation 7, 11, 14, with that of chapter 20. We agree and this is what Simon Kistemaker has done in WSTTB and in his commentary on the book of Revelation along with G.K. Beale’s observations on recapitulation in Revelation on these texts.  Gentry rejects this very clear hermeneutical approach and amillennialists such as Kistemaker and Beale reject the common sense approach that the time texts “demand” (Gentry’s word) a AD 70 fulfillment which cannot be double fulfilled! Gentry rejects the recapitulation of the judgment and resurrection of the dead in Revelation with that of chapter 20 and also denies the common sense point that the seventh and last trumpet of chapter 11 for the dead is equivalent to that of the trumpet blasts in 1 Corinthians 15 and 1 Thessalonians 4!

There simply is no 2000 + years-and-counting “not yet” resurrection taught in the NT. We affirm with Gentry and DeMar that the NT time texts “demand” a preterist interpretation and there can be no “double fulfilling” of the Olivet discourse or the book of Revelation post AD 70. However, the problem for these men arises when it becomes apparent that the NT authors clearly foretold an imminent first century “not yet” resurrection (Acts 17:31YLT, 24:15, 25YLT; Romans 8:18YLT/WEY). Commenting on the imminent resurrection of Acts 24:15 Sam Frost writes,

“There, the Greek ‘mellein esesthai’ is rendered “about to be”. The two verbs, respectively, are present infinitive active and future infinitive middle (deponent). We only find this particular construction in Luke’s Acts of the Apostles three times. The other two spots are Acts 11.28 and 27.10. The first is Agabus’ prediction about the coming famine. Certainly something “about to happen” (and did). The final verse is Paul, while on the boat, predicted that their voyage was “about to” end in disaster. Certainly something on the horizon.

This construction occurs three times in Acts only. Two times is clearly of events “about to happen” in terms of time. One passage, because it deals with the resurrection (24.15) is not. I have yet to hear any sound answer to what appears to me as arbitrary exegesis on the basis of assumptions. I have studied all occurences of “mello” in the LXX, the GNT, and the Apos. Fathers. It is a word that sharpens the vague future indicative. It adds to it the certainty of the event from the standpoint of the speaker (hence, it is often translated “certain”). The event in question is certain because it will most certainly happen within the near time of the speaker, without doubt. That is the way this word is used, and particularly this unique construction in Acts. Therefore, I can exegetically conclude that the “resurrection of the just and the unjust” laid for certain in the time of Paul as something that would take place within his own lifetime, and that he based that certainty upon the source that he based all of his assuredness: “the Holy Spirit speaking through the Scriptures” (Westminster Confession).”

And to confirm Sam’s support of the Young’s Literal Translation of mello in these passages, we need only to quote Gentry himself who supports that imminence should be the primary meaning in Revelation,

“Nevertheless, when used with the aorist infinitive — as in Revelation 1:19 — the word’s preponderate usage and preferred meaning is: “be on the point of, be about to.” The same is true when the word is used with the present infinitive, as in Rev. 3:10. The basic meaning in both Thayer and Abbott-Smith is “to be about to.” Mello wit h the infinitive expresses imminence (like the future).”[25]

One of these texts I cited in Acts uses the same Greek construction that Gentry admits (above) should be translated to communicate imminence and not just certainty! Gentry is not interested in using the analogy of Scripture when it comes to the timing of the resurrection. So let’s explore some more “Scripture interprets Scripture” problems that Gentry’s partial preterism creates.   

Gentry’s confusion on the analogy of Scripture

The majority of Reformed and Evangelical commentaries (along with Reformed Study Bibles), affirm that the resurrection mentioned in Daniel 12:2-3 and Matthew 13 are addressing the final eschatological resurrection. Virtually all of the Reformed co-authors with Gentry in their book Seeking to refute us in, WHEN SHALL THESE THINGS BE? A REFORMED RESPONSE TO HYPER-PRETERISM state clearly that these texts are dealing with the final resurrection (WSTTB, 97n.81, 161, 188, 244, 295, 297). In fact most commentaries align the final resurrection and judgment of Daniel 12 and Matthew 13 with that of Christ’s parousia and “end” in 1 Corinthians 15. 

Most of the Reformed community and most definitely creedal statements and confessions of faith disagree with Gentry’s partial preterist interpretation that Christ’s coming in Matthew 24:27-31 took place in AD 70. According to Chuck Hill, Gentry’s co-author, Gentry violates The Didache, which he states is the “manual of church teachings” and thus Matthew 24:30-31 is a reference to the “unmistakable last coming of the Son of Man” (WSTTB, 72)? Another author Richard Pratt, in the SPIRIT OF THE REFORMATION STUDY BIBLE of which he is the general editor, correctly identifies the coming of Jesus to gather the elect in Matthew 24:30-31 with Matthew 13:41; 16:27; 25:31; 1 Co 15:52; 1 Th 4:14-17 and states this passage is “…a reference to Christ’s final coming in judgment.”  

Matthew 24-25/Luke 21 & Matthew 13 Parallels

1)      Evangelism in the world takes place (Mt. 24:14/Mt. 13:38).

2)      There is persecution, tribulation, apostasy, & faithfulness (Mt. 24:9-13/Mt. 13:19-30).

3)      The subject is the growth and reception of the kingdom at which time the judgment at the “end of the age” takes place (Lk. 21:31-32/Mt. 13:43; Mt. 24:3/Mt. 13:40). 

4)      The Son of Man comes with His angels to gather the sheep/wheat into His barn/kingdom and the wicked goats/tares are gathered and thrown into the fire and burned (Mt. 24:30-31, 25:31-41/Mt. 13:39-42).

5)      Christ’s coming is most likely described as the sun or bright light coming for the east to the west whose bright light/glory and heat burn up the wicked tares while at the same time giving light/glory to His elect fruitful trees producing fruit and redemption (Mt. 24:27= Lk. 21:27-28/Mt. 13:6).[26]    

Matthew 24-25/Luke 21 & 1 Corinthians 15 Parallels

1)      Christ’s coming/parousia and trumpet call (Mt. 24:27, 31/1 Cor. 15:23, 52).

2)      This is the time of the “end” (Mt. 24:3, 14/1 Cor. 15:24).

3)      At this time God judges His enemies (Mt. 21:43; Mt. 22:41-44; Mt. 24-25/1 Cor. 15:24-28).

4)      This is the time for inheriting the kingdom (Lk. 21:31-32/1 Cor. 15:24).

5)      This is the time for God’s final redemption when the sin, the death, and the Law are destroyed for God’s people (Lk. 21:27-28/1 Cor. 15:23, . The temples destruction =’s the death being swallowed up in victory over “the [Mosaic Torah] Law” (1 Cor. 15:55-56/Dan. 12:7).

Matthew 24 & 1 Thessalonians 4-5 Parallels

And probably the clearest parallels can be found between Matthew 24 and 1 Thessalonians 4-5. G.K. Beale correctly writes,

“…4:15-17 describe generally the same end-time scenario as 5:1-10. Specifically, Paul narrates the resurrection at the end of the age and then recapitulates in chapter 5 by speaking about the timing of this event and about the judgment on unbelievers, which will happen at the same time. That both 4:15-18 and 5:1-11 explain the same events is discernible from observing that both passages actually form one continuous depiction of the same narrative in Matthew 24, as apparent from the chart…”

1 Thessalonians
Matthew
 
Christ returns
4:16
24:30
From heaven
4:16
24:30
Accompanied by angels
4:16
24:31
With a trumpet of God
4:16
24:31

Believers gathered to Christ

4:17
24:31, 40-41
In clouds
4:17
24:30
Time unknown
5:1-2
24:36
Coming like a thief
5:2
24:43

Unbelievers unaware of impending judgment

5:3
24:8

Judgment comes as pain upon an expectant mother

5:3
24:8
Believers not deceived
5:4-5
24:43

Believers to be watchful

5:6
24:37-39

Warning against drunkenness

5:7
24:49[27]
 

It is more than difficult to know how men like Gentry, North, DeMar, Jordan, Leithart, Sproul, etc. can stick their heads in the sand when these two passages are laid side by side and when Paul specifically tells us that he is getting his teaching from “the word of the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:15). But ignoring the Westminster Confession of Faith’s exhortation to allow Scripture to interpret Scripture and that the confession itself could be wrong, Gentry feels his confession and creed must be “infallibly certain” (WSTTB, 44) here because the subject is the resurrection. Yet again, the Westminster Confession of Faith states that the coming of Christ and redemption of Luke 21:27-28 and Romans 8:18-23 are parallel references to the Second Coming and final redemption/resurrection for the Church. Yet Gentry arbitrarily claims Luke 21:27-28 happened within Jesus’ “this generation” in AD 70 and yet ignores that as that generation was ending the glory and redemption of Romans 8:18-23YLT was “about to be revealed” “in” them in Paul’s day!

Romans 8

Olivet Discourse & Luke 17

Present sufferings (vss.17-18)
Suffering to come (Mt.24:9)

Were “about to” receive & share in Christ’s glory (vss.17-18)

Christ comes in glory (Mt.24:30)

Glory will be “in” them (vs.18)

Kingdom will be realized “within” at Christ’s return (Lk.17:21-37/Lk.21:27-32)

Redemption & salvation – resurrection (vss.23-24; cf. 11:15-27; 13:11-12)

Redemption & salvation – resurrection (Lk.21:27-28; Mt.24:13, 30-31)

Pains of childbirth (vs.22)

Birth pains of the tribulation (Mt.24:8)

This was “about to” take place (vs.18)

This would all happen in their “this generation” (Mt.24:34)

 

Daniel 12:1-2 and the NT Continued…

Gentry’s problem now is that he cannot exegetically deal with how the NT develops the judgment and resurrection of Daniel 12:1-3 in the NT.  For example Jesus draws upon the Old Greek (OG) LXX of Daniel 12:1-2 concerning the resurrection hour that was coming:

The “already” or Imminent “already”

Daniel 12:1:  “And at that hour…” John 5:25:  “…an hour is coming and now is…”
Daniel 12:2:  “Many of those who sleep in the width of the earth will arise [anatesontai]…some unto eternal life and others to reproach…and to eternal shame.” John 5:24:  “…he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.”

                                                   

The “Not Yet”

Daniel 12:1:  “And at that hour…” John 5:28:  “…for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice,
Daniel 12:2:  “Many of those who sleep in the width of the earth will arise [anatesontai]…some unto eternal life and others to reproach…and to eternal shame.” John 5:29:  “and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection [anatasin] of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection [anatasin] of judgment.”

Also related:

1 John 2:18:  “Dear children it is the last hour

”Revelation 14:7:  “…the hour of His judgment has come.”

From the very start Gentry and his Amillennial co-authors run into problems.  Both believe that the resurrection of John 5:28-29 is the “not yet” of a physical resurrection at the end of history, but  Amillennialists believe the “not yet” resurrection “hour” of Daniel 12:1-2—John 5:28-29—1 John 2:17—Revelation 14:7 are all the same event and yet Gentry believes the resurrection or “hour” of Daniel 12:2—1 John 2:17—Revelation 14:7 were fulfilled in AD 70!

Another problem for Gentry here in John 5:28-29 is that he identifies Jesus’ eschatological “not yet” phrase of “The hour is coming” in John 4:21-24 with AD 70, which places the burden of proof upon him to prove why Jesus has switched to a 2000+ years and cound of “the hour is coming” in the very next chapter! 

As stated earlier most correctly connect the judgment, end and resurrection of Daniel 12 with 1 Corinthians 15 as depicting the same event:

Daniel 12
1 Corinthians 15
1.  Resurrection unto “eternal life” (v. 2)
1.  Resurrection unto incorruptibility or immortality (vss. 52-53)
2.  Time of the end (v. 4)
2.  Then commenth the end (v. 24)
3.  When the power of the holy people [the Mosaic OC law] is completely shattered
3.  When victory over “the [Mosaic OC] law” comes
 

We affirm the reformed and orthodox view which is that the resurrection of Daniel 12 was fulfilled in AD 70 (Gentry and Jordan) at Christ’s parousia, and that Daniel‘s resurrection is the same resurrection as that of 1 Corinthians 15.  However, it is clear that Gentry and Jordan have had to force TWO resurrections for Daniel’s soul – 1)  in AD 70 when he was raised out of Abraham’s Bosom to inherit eternal life and placed in God’s presences, and 2)  another physical one at the end of time.  Such distinctions are forced and eisegetical attempting to deal with the significance of the time statements and AD 70 while at the same time trying to appease their creedal supporters.     

Gentry and Inconsistent Orthodoxy

Gentry breaks the Nicene Creed when it states that, “And He will come again with glory…” citing (Matthew 24:30-35) and DeMar violates it doubly when it also cites (Matthew 25:31) of which he also applies to Christ’s return in AD 70. The Nicene Creed states, “And we look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come” citing (Revelation 21:1-17) which Gentry believes came in AD 70 and which we are currently in. Mr. Gentry arbitrarily claims which creedal statements are “infallibly certain” on eschatological matters and which are not. The Nicene Creed and Westminster Confession of Faith weren’t “infallibly certain” on Matthew 24:27-31/Luke 21:27-28, Revelation 22:1-20, nor in the Reformed creeds which state that the Pope is the Anti-Christ—per Gentry! Who is to say that the organic Body of the Church cannot modify the Creeds and Confessions more in the areas of the timing and nature of the Second Coming and resurrection?      

Conclusion

We have examined Gentry’s assumption that the disciples were “bewildered” into associating the temples destruction with the Second Coming and end of the age/world. His “proof texts” for making this point only ended up making ours. 

There are a lot of hermeneutical questions that Jordan, Leithart, and Gentry leave open in their interpretations of the resurrection /judgment/harvest that they claim took place in AD 70 referencing Daniel 12:2-3/Mt. 13:40-43. If they can use Daniel 12:2-3 as a national-corporate-covenantal resurrection for Israel in AD 70 (using Ezk. 37 as their guide), then there is no exegetical or hermeneutical reason why we can’t do the same in allowing Ezk. 37 to interpret the coming out of the graves in John 5 as spiritual and happening in AD 70, or allowing Isaiah 25-28 and Hosea 13 to teach a national-corporate-covenantal resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15—selah.   

Obviously there is a serious problem and “house divided” among Reformed and Evangelical theologians in the area of eschatology. Some of the authors of WSTTB and within the Reformed community in general, claim that the Church is currently in the new heavens and earth or the “age to come” which historically the creeds and confessions have denied as stated above by the Nicene Creed. Many such as John Owen, John Lightfoot, John Brown, David Chilton, Peter Leithart, R.C. Sproul, and Gary DeMar (to list just a few), contradict the Westminister Confession of Faith and believe that 2 Peter 3 was fulfilled in AD 70. Gary DeMar and Keith Mathison contradict most of the Westminister Confession of Faith’s proof texts for a future judgment and coming of Jesus in 1 and 2 Thessalonians and apply all of them (except 1 Thessalonians 4) to AD 70. Some Reformed theologians claim we are still in the “last days” and others claim the “last days” as described in the Old and New Testaments are in fact describing the end of the Old Covenant age and economy in AD 70 and have no reference whatsoever to the end of the New Covenant age. Some claim the NT is teaching only one Second Coming while others claim there are two redemptive comings of Jesus. Some teach there are two “ends” and “ages” (one for Israel in AD 70 & one for the end of time), while others see the terms as always describing the end of time and world history. Some like Gentry claim the NT is teaching in effect two Great Commissions and others only one. J.I. Packer understands that to NOT believe in a fleshly/physical resurrection of our corpses at Christ’s parousia is “scholarly” approach and well within the “main stream of resurrection faith,”[28] while others would damn us to hell. The list could go on!

The Biblical preterist position unites, synthesizes and bridges the gap between  the two sides of the house divided of Reformed eschatology.  Our position truly allows the Scripture to interpret itself. In so doing we offer an organic and Creedal approach to the Churches understanding of Christ’s return and the judgment and resurrection of the dead. In the end, our view is purely founded and built upon the exegesis of Reformed theologians and honors and most importantly actually practices “Sola Scriptura” and “Semper Reformanda.” We sincerely hope that Mr. Gentry will join us in our vision to bring together the Reformed community in the area of eschatology instead of selling books/debates that only further polarize them—selah.           



[1] Kenneth L. Gentry and Thomas Ice, THE GREAT TRIBULATION PAST OR FUTURE?, (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1999) 58 (emphasis added).

[2] Ibid., 63, (emphasis added).

[3] Ibid., 18.

[4] R.C. Sproul, The Last Days According To Jesus (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1998), 73-74 (emphasis added).

[5] Ibid., 26, (emphasis added).

[6] This answer was taken off of Gentry’s facebook. Com page: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/photo.php?pid=52050&id=1668525845&ref=nf 

[7] Sproul, Ibid., 32 (emphasis added).

[8] Gary DeMar, Last Days Madness Obsession of the Modern Church, (Powder Springs GA: American Vision, 1999), 68.

[9] Ibid., 37 of the 1994 edition. 

[10] Ibid., 70 in the 1999 edition.

[11] Josephus, The Antiquities of the Jews, The Works of Josephus, p.87, Book 3, Chapter 6, Par. 4, Section 123, Hendrickson pub. 1987, (emphasis added).

[12] Josephus, ibid, p.90, Book 3, Chapter 7, Par.7, Section 181, (emphasis added).  

[13] G.K. Beale, The Temple and the Church’s Mission A biblical theology of the dwelling place of God, (Downers Grove, Illinois: Inter Varsity Press, 2004), 25. J.V. Fesko, Last things first Unlocking Genesis 1-3 with the Christ of Eschatology, (Scottland, UK, 2007), 70.

[14] Crispin H.T. Fletcher-Louis a contributing author in, ESCHATOLOGY in Bible & Theology Evangelical Essays at the Dawn of a New Millennium, (Downers Grove, Illinois: Inter Varsity Press, 1997), 157.

[15] J.V. Fesko, Last things first Unlocking Genesis 1-3 with the Christ of Eschatology, (Scottland, UK, 2007), 70.

[16] Gentry, Tribulation, Ibid., 26.

[17] DeMar, Last Days, Ibid., 1999, 199. Gary does an excellent job in pages 190-201 refuting other partial preterist arguments that claim the discourse is divided up into two different comings of Jesus separating by thousands of years . Those pages alone are worth the price of the book! 

[18] This answer was taken off of Gentry’s facebook. Com page: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/photo.php?pid=52050&id=1668525845&ref=nf 

[19] James B. Jordan, THE HANDWRITING ON THE WALL A Commentary on the Book of Daniel, (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision, 2007), 620.

[20] Ibid., 621.

[21] Ibid. 628.

[22] Peter J. Leithart, THE PROMISE OF IS APPEARING AN EXPOSITION OF SECOND PETER, (Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 2004), 95.

[23] Jordan, Ibid., 618.

[24] See my article entitled, Eschatology In 1 Corinthians or some of Sam Frost’s articles on TLM on 1 Corinthians 15 which cover the present tense and corporate body view of the resurrection. 

[25] Kenneth L. Gentry, Before Jerusalem Fell Dating the Book of Revelation, (Tyler, TX: ICE, 1989, 140-141.

[27] G.K. Beale, THE IVP NEW TESTAMENT COMMENTARY SERIES 1-2 Thessalonians, (Downers Grove, Illinois: Iinter Varsity Press, 2003), 136-137. It may be possible to translate the “bright light” of astrape as referring to the “sun” coming from the east and shining to the west in Mt. 24:27 and not “lightning.” If so another parallel can be made of Mt.  24:27 with the return of Christ being associated with the “Day” “daylight” and being “sons of the Day” in 1Thess. 5:1-8.

[28] See J.I. Packer’s endorsement on back cover of Murray J. Harris, FROM GRAVE TO GLORY RESURRECTION IN THE NEW TESTAMENT, (Grand Rapids, MI: Academie Zondervan, 1990)

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AN OPEN LETTER TO: GARY DEMAR, JOHN MACARTHUR AND DAVID ENGELSMA–“COMPARING SCRIPTURE WITH SCRIPTURE,” PARTIAL PRETERISM, DISPENSATIONALISM, AND CALVINISM

Dear Gary DeMar, John MacArthur and David Engelsma,                           January 19, 2009
 

This letter/article is in response to Gary DeMar’s article critiquing you John entitled, A Defense of Dispensationalism.  Here I wish to discuss some of the issues the article brings up such as:  1)  Does the partial preterist position REALLY “compare Scripture with Scripture” as Gary DeMar claims, 2)  Is John MacArthur, David Engelsma, and myself correct to claim that the arbitrary partial preterist hermeneutic leads to Biblcal preterism, 3)  Is Dispensationalism and Calvinism compatible, and 4)  Is “Ultra Calvinism” Biblical?  

Pastor MacArthur you are correct (contrary to the claims of DeMar, Gentry, Mathison, and R.C. Sproul), that the partial preterist hermeneutic does in fact exegetically lead to Biblical preterism.   These men have desperately tried to avoid this obvious conclusion, but my testimony and that of many others making the transition from partial preterism to Biblical preterism tells another story.  This along with the exegetical evidence (that Gary you continue to avoid – and “hope that no one will notice” Matthew 24/1Thessalonians 4 to give just one example) bears further testimony on this matter.  John you and Mr. Engelsma have been astute in pointing this out. However, what none of you men (especially DeMar & Engelsma) have honestly conceded, is that it is BOTH the amillennial and partial preterist positions that consistently and exegetically lead to Biblical preterism: 1)  There is only one second advent or coming mentioned in the N.T. (not three) and 2) The imminent time texts of the N.T. “demand” a preterist and AD 70 fulfillment of Christ’s parousia/return–selah. 

Pastor MacArthur, it is of course correct for men like DeMar and Gentry to address the “House Divided” issues of your dispensational system. Once the “progressive dispensationalist” such as yourself admits that there is an “already and not yet” fulfillment of O.T. kingdom promises being fulfilled and applied to the church today, the pillars and distinctions of your dispensational system comes tumbling down. You have not been “progressive” enough in leaving behind your arbitrary dispensationalism just as DeMar has not been progressive enough in leaving behind his arbitrary partial preterism–selah. 

Gary, why in this article do you point out MacArthur’s confusion on “this generation” and fail to criticize the confusion of the term coming from Keith Mathison in any of your articles? In his book on Postmillennialism he “knows” the phrase always refers to AD 70, but in his book seeking to refute us (WSTTB?) he gives a “truth is relative” “who knows what it means” kind of interpretation/meaning(?)

Gary you mention the subject Calvinism and of course John your are a Calvinist.  So perhaps a good question that could have been asked that wasn’t, Pastor MacArthur don’t you believe that the kingdom was offered to Israel but got postponed due to the lack of repentance from the Jews?  If so could you please demonstrate two things:  1)  Please provide textual support that Jesus offered a national and physical kingdom on earth to the Jews anywhere in the gospels and 2)  reconcile your Calvinism with God’s alleged “plan b.”  Jesus everywhere describes His kingdom as spiritual (water, bread, way, “in,” “within,” “not of this world,” etc.).  When offered a literal kingdom Jesus clearly rejected it (cf. John 6).  You cannot exegetically support that the O.T. nor the N.T. teaches two kingdoms:  1)  an “already and not yet” one for the Church and 2) an alleged literal 1,000 years millennial one for Israel.  Your teaching on the kingdom(s) is bent on defending a collapsing theology (dispensationalism) and nothing more.  Jesus clearly taught that His kingdom would be realized “within” an individual and that all O.T. prophecy (His return and the arrival of His kingdom) would arrive in His “this generation” (Luke 17:20-37/Luke 21:22-32).

Concerning Sam’s comments on the article concerning an “ultra Calvinist,” I would respond thus – I know of no good Calvinist worth his salt that couldn’t and wouldn’t give an “amen” to these quotes:

“The doctrine of justification itself, as preached by an Arminian, is nothing but the doctrine of salvation by works…”
– Charles Spurgeon on Arminianism

“The tendency of Arminianism is towards legality; it is nothing but legality which lays at the root of Arminianism.”
– Charles Spurgeon on Arminianism

“Free will has carried many souls to hell but never a soul to heaven.”
– Spurgeon

“… I have my own private opinion that there is no such a thing as preaching Christ and him crucified, unless you preach what now-a-days is called Calvinism. I have my own ideas, and those I always state boldly. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else.”
– Charles Spurgeon on the Gospel

 “I believe that very much of current Arminianism is simply ignorance of gospel doctrine; and if people began to study their Bibles, and to take the Word of God as they find it, they must inevitably, if believers, rise up to rejoice in the doctrines of grace.”
– Charles Spurgeon

A Jesuit: “Now we have planted the Sovereign Drug Arminianism, OUR FOUNDATION IS ARMINIANISM.”

Rous: “Arminianism is the very essence of Popery.”

“But is this doctrine fundamental to our faith? Isn’t it simply a matter of fine-tuning things? In our day zeal is more important than knowledge. As long as people ‘love the Lord’ and seek to live the Christian life, such doctrinal debates as these can only serve to distract us from our common mission in the world. And yet, Paul tells us that his fellow-Israelites were zealous indeed. ‘For I can bear witness of them that they have a great zeal for God, but it is not according to knowledge.’ Knowledge of certain things is essential for salvation, and the particular piece of knowledge Paul has in mind is the doctrine of justification by grace alone through faith alone: ‘Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not accept God’s righteousness. Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes’ (Rom. 10:1-4).”

    – Michael Horton


G
ary, I would really appreciate you actually interacting with my first public letter addressed to you (again pasted below this one (especially on the theme that you bring up “comparing Scripture with Scripture” in Matthew 24/1Thessalonians 4 for example) and my article on the parallels between the redemption of Romans 8 and Luke 21.  In my article on Romans 8/Luke 21, I am only building upon the “orthodox” exegesis of men like John Lightfoot and John Murray. I disagree with your claim that your partial preterism “compares Scripture with Scripture” on any kind of consistent basis when eschatology and the second coming are the topics.  Please now begin to actually exegetically interact with us in your “dissatisfaction” (as you say) of our position and the analogy of Scripture. Neither you nor my former Pastor and college president – John MacArthur (1990-92), have given an exegetical refutation of Biblical preterism thus far.  These are just the facts of the matter.  And Gary I think the main reason you don’t interact with us in an exegetical and public forum, is that you are fearful that men like Ice and MacArthur will say, “see, we are not the only ones that have pointed out that the partial preterist position is exegetically ARBITRARY.”  Please also read my article entitled, “The Prophetic Confusion of Kenneth Gentry and The analogy of Scripture.” 

 

In Christ (2 Cor. 1:20),
Mike Sullivan

What follows is my first open letter to Gary DeMar and Hank Hanegraaff that remains unanswered.  Following this is Gary’s article and examination of Pastor MacArthur’s  – “Defense of Dispensationalism.”  Also pasted at the end are Sam Frost’s comments of Gary’s article and his question on “ultra Calvinists.”  

An Open Letter To: Hank Hanegraaff and Gary DeMar Part 1: Daniel 12, Matthew 24-25, John 4-5, Romans 8 and 1 Thessalonians 4 

By: Michael J. Sullivan 
 

Dear Gary,

Your position of uniting Matthew 24-25 as fulfilled in AD 70 without being a Biblical or Full Preterist is puzzling to Partial Preterists, Full Preterists, and all futurist eschatologies.[1] Most of the Evangelical and Reformed world of eschatology, understands the coming of Christ in glory and judgment–to gather God’s elect in Matthew 24:30-31/Matthew 25:31f. to be addressing the one and final Second Advent of Jesus Christ. The consensus is that Matthew 24-25 forms the foundation to the rest of the New Testament’s understanding of eschatology. 

Gary you allow Matthew 24-25 to interpret all of 1 and 2 Thessalonians as fulfilled by AD 70 except 1 Thessalonians 4—(because of the resurrection), the very chapter where there are more parallels to Matthew 24 than any other place in 1 or 2 Thessalonians. You also allow Matthew 24 to interpret most (if not all) of the eschatology in Romans to have happened by A.D. 70, except the redemption of the body in Romans 8. You understand the imminent raising up of the dead “the salvation” “hour” and “Day” of Romans 13:11-12 to have occured by AD 70.  You also see the salvation and resurrection of all of Israel in Romans 11 as taking place by AD 70 as well.  Most Reformed and Evangelical views of eschatology correctly see these as descriptive of the one and only Second Advent of Jesus as described for us in the Olivet Discourse.  I had hoped that you were going to publish my article on the imminent redemption and glory of Romans 8 and Luke 21 on your web site, but perhaps it would be too controversial? If you don’t agree with the article and me building upon the exegesis of John Lightfoot (something you and Gentry do a lot of), please write a brief article explaining where you feel I made an error. 

Why don’t you allow Paul to use Matthew 24 to interpret the parousia, trumpet and “end” in 1 Corinthians 15–especially since 1 Corinthians 15 is dealing with the “end” and victory over “the law” (the Mosaic law)—1 Corinthians 15:54-56? Doesn’t “the [Mosaic] law” have something to do with the temples destruction and bringing an end to that Mosaic age?  Your failure to not allow Scripture to interpret Scripture on these passages is simply an embracement of Hyper-Creedalism.  Again, your views and exegesis (avoiding the analogy of Scripture) make no sense to any other eschatological paradigm except the one you are constructing (without embracing Biblical Preterism–Gospel Eschatology).    

Since you skipped over the harvest/resurrection of “this age” in Matthew 13 in developing the “end of the age” (as the Old-Covenant age) in Matthew 24:3 in your book, I was curious if you agree with Peter Leithart and James Jordan, that the end of the age and resurrection of Matthew 13 and Daniel 12 took place in AD 70? If so, then Matthew 24:30-31 is  the Second Advent and resurrection event that occurred at “the end” of the Old Covenant age in AD 70. The harvest gathering process of the Great Commission in Matthew 24:14 and Matthew 13 reaches its end at the OC age in AD 70. 

In your oral debate with Thomas Ice you stated that you knew Matthew 24:29 was not addressing a literal and global de-creation event because Jesus was referencing Isaiah 13:10 and that language was used by Isaiah figuratively to describe the downfall of Babylon.  So you are understanding Jesus using Isaiah as an anti-type fulfillment and seek to honor that OT context in order to understand Jesus’ meaning.  Well, according to cross-references and “common sense,” Jesus also draws upon Isaiah 27:12-13 to describe what He means by the use of the blowing of the trumpet and His “gathering” in Matthew 24:31.  Why not stay true to your hermeneutics and to the “context” of Isaiah 27:12-13 as discussing a corporate and covenantal death and resurrection for Israel from her Babylonian captors (cf. Isaiah 26-27:8-9) to help identify the trumpet and resurrection “gathering” of Matthew 24:31 for the Church?  If one of your published authors James Jordan, understands Jesus using Daniel 12 to describe the resurrection of Israel and the Church as a corporate resurrection out from the death of the tribulation period, then why is it so hard for you to see how Jesus is using Isaiah 27 to describe the resurrection in Matthew 24:31?  And not only do you not allow Isaiah 27 to help you understand Matthew 24:31, but you don’t allow Matthew 24:27-31 to interpret 1 Corinthians 15.  Nor do you seek to honor the spiritual, corporate and covenantal death and resurrection contexts of Hosea 13 and Isaiah 25 to help you interpret 1 Corinthians 15, as you allow Isaiah 13:10 to interpret Matthew 24:29.  Your hermeneutics are once again seen by futurists and Biblical Preterists to be creedally arbitrary.

On the issue of the thousand year millennium in Revelation 20, you have written to me in a public forum in the past that a “this generation” 40 year millennial period seems unlikely.  However, you agree that the Second Coming ends the millennium and yet the ONLY coming discussed in Revelation–is one that takes place “quickly” (Rev. 3:11; 22:6-7, 10-12, 20) of which you interpret as occurring by AD 70.  Everyone using the alalogy of Scripture understands the coming and judgment/rewards of Jesus in Matthew 25:31f. and Revelation 20-22 to be the same event except you apparently. 

Most reformed commentators understand that the book of Revelation is structured with recapitulation and that Revelation 20 is not isolated from this structure.  But of course since you take most (if not all) of Revelation 1-19 as fulfilled by AD 70, it is exegetically unlikely that the themes in Revelation 20 stand isolated from the rest of the “things” of the prophecy (singular) that would be fuflilled “shortly.”  The full number of the martyrs are vindicated and judged “in a little while” (Rev. 6:10-11) which you apply to AD 70.  This same motif is picked back up in Revelation 20. In fact you take all of the martyr vindication passages in the N.T. (Mt. 23; Luke 18; 2 Thess. 1:5-10) as taking place by AD 70 EXCEPT Revelation 20.  How hyper-creedal of you and a very “unlikely” interpretation indeed.  The judgment of “the dead” and the Most Holy Place (the ark of the covenant seen) is opened up when the Great City (Old Covenant Jerusalem) is judged in Revelation 11.  How is this a different judgment of the dead than described for us in Revelation 20?  How can the judgment of “the dead” take place without the resurrection of the dead taking place at the same time (cf. 1 Pet. 4:5-7, 17 – “the time” “the judgment”)?  Revelation 11 is also addressing the blowing of the seventh or last trumpet, which everyone and their Grandma understands to be the same trumpet as the one described for us in Matthew 24:30-31, 1 Thessalonians 4:16, and 1 Corinthians 15:52 except you and the creedally arbitrary partial “preterist” view.   

As G.K. Beale and others have alluded to (such as Gill and Lightfoot), some Jews understood that when Messiah would come, He would have an interim millennial reign of another “new exodus” or literal 40 year “this generation” based upon such passages as Psalm 90:15 and Psalm 95:8-11.  Indeed it is Jesus’ “this generation” of which Moses, Jesus and Peter describe for us as the time frame in which the vindication of the martyrs and Second Coming will occur (Deut. 32:5, 20, 43; Mt. 23-24; Acts 2:40).  The 40 year “this generation” millennial period is substatiated using a grammatical/historical hermeneutic and most definitely uses the analogy of Scripture which is more than can be said of your eisegetically “unlikely” position.  The recapitulation structure of Revelation and the analogy of Scripture demand a “this generation” Second Coming of Jesus which brings an end to the millennium.  This is not difficult.   

Since there is nothing but eisegesis and a glaring inconsistent hermeneutic used by you, I can only conclude that the fear of man and a desire to please some of your friends (such as Gentry and North – who hate the truth and would cut you off in a heart beat) is what is in view here.  As you know, the Proverbs teach us that the fear of man brings a snare and that we are called to only fear and please God Himself.  I truly believe that this is what is at the heart of the matter here and would ask that you take it to the Lord in prayer. 

As we have interacted in the past, I don’t feel it is proper for you to be disappointed in John MacArthur’s unwillingness to accept the time texts of the NT, while you are unwilling to accept the time texts connected to the resurrection or address the analogy of Scripture in regard to the time frame of the resurrection.  Your exhortations to men like MacArthur and Ice are for the most part very good, but overall because of your compromise of the truth, they must be seen as hypocritical.  

Gentry, Bahnsen and North did a great job of demonstrating that classical dispensationalism and “progressive dispensationalism” are holding to contradictory propositions that create a “House Divided” and form an eschatological “schizophrenia.”[2] But how is it that Gentry and Mathison’s alliance with Amillennialists in When Shall These Things Be forms any less of a “House Divided” and eschatological schizophrenia than the one Dispensationalists have constructed?!? The propositions that the time texts of the of the Lord’s return in the NT “demand” a preterist interpretation (Gentry’s view), and yet the NT only addresses one future Second Advent (traditional Amillennial view), are contradictory.  We are seeing the “break-up” of both Dispensational and Reformed eschatology at the feet of Biblical Preterism–selah! Instead of men like you, Mathison and Gentry chiding MacArthur and other “Progressive Dispensationalists” to be more consistent by embracing Partial Preterist Reformed eschatology, you men need to take the plank out or your own eye and be more concerned with being more “progressive” and “consistent” in moving  from Partial Preterism into embracing Biblical Preterism—selah.

In the past when I have asked you to interact with me on the parallels between Matthew 24 and 1 Thessalonians 4 you claimed you didn’t have time and that you’re real focus was in refuting Dispensationalism. You claimed that since there were so many embracing Dispensationalism and that our view only had 300 or so, you didn’t want to give as much attention to our view. However, you have no problem selling The Parousia by Russell and interacting with some of his exegesis. I guess since he is dead and can’t interact with your arbitrary exegesis—he’s a safer work to publish for AV then say ours? But back to the point of you counting the noses of various eschatological positions–objection. In response, I pointed out that there are way more than 300 of us and that even if there were only 300, it only takes God’s selection of an army of 300 (of Sovereign Grace Preterists) to win the victory (cf. Judges 7).

In the past I have asked you what you thought of the Don Preston / James Jordan debate over Preterism and was totally floored that you hadn’t listened to the debate.  You know both of these men and it was a shock that you hadn’t listened to the debate.  If you have by now, would you please consider writing a review of the debate or offer the debate on your web site so people can judge for themselves which view is more exegetical and “trustworthy” (a term that is more elaborated upon in the rest of this letter)?  

Gary, I was disappointed to hear that you were not interested in publishing our book, because you were too busy publishing others such as John Bray’s. I couldn’t help but wonder if it was because you might be concerned that we take strong issue with and expose friends and authors you publish or sell (such as Kenneth Gentry and Keith Mathison) and point out the “House Divided” approach of reformed eschatology as a whole?   

Since Hank Hanegraaff and his assistant seem to have been greatly influenced by you, I have also addressed you in this letter in hopes that you will interact with me here in my comments of Matthew 24 and 1 Thessalonians 4 and my article of Romans 8 off of my web site. If you disagree with my exegesis, I would be curious to know why you do and offer an exegesis of your own.

Background to my brief interaction and correspondence with
Hank Hanegraaff and his assistant Steven Ross: 

Prior to my conversation with Hank the only thing I knew of his new eschatological view (partial preterism) was that he was a partial preterist in seeing a pre-A.D. 70 date of Revelation and through rumors – that when full preterists called into his show, he stated that full preterism was not just another view within the orthodox eschatological positions, but rather, a major difference of opinion on the fundamentals of the Gospel was at stake in considering this view. Personally, I liked hearing that Hank sees that eschatology cannot be separated from soteriology or the gospel. And this is one of the major reasons that enforced the titled that I have given my book, Gospel Eschatology: A Better Resurrection. I agree with Hank’s observations and concerns, but the “gospel concern” shoe is on the other foot – since he nor Gary DeMar can prove from the Scriptures that a part of the hope of the gospel pre or post AD 70 includes:  

1) A future Second Coming post AD 70.

2) The burning up of the planet and a new or re-newed one taking it’s place.

3) A resurrection of physical corpses being united with spirits occurring for all humanity at the end of the planet and time. 

I had also heard that there may be a possible debate between Hank and the preterist position in the works after Hank had finished his book Exegetical Eschatology (which turned into THE APOCALYPSE CODE- AC). So I was curious as to just how much exposure Hank has had of the Biblical Preterist view.

I was visiting my Pastor friend Michael Wadhams in Charlotte, NC looking for employment in the area. I had turned in my resume, partial copy of the book I have been writing (Gospel Eschatology: “A Better Resurrection”) and a letter to C.R.I. requesting employment a couple of months before this visit. However, I was informed that after my book was reviewed by the research department that my eschatological views were not “orthodox” and not really in line with C.R.I.’s position. I was graciously told by Bob Eaton that this didn’t mean that he or C.R.I. thought I wasn’t a Christian though (boy big relief on my part!-lol). I struggled for a time hoping and really wanting someone from C.R.I. to explain to me what exegetical errors I had made and thus why I wasn’t “orthodox.” None ever came.  

Since I was in the area I thought I would stop by the studio. I was graciously given a tour and invited to sit in and watch the show – of which I did. Because of a severe rain storm I was the only one sitting in the audience. I asked the secretary if I could write a question or two down for Hank and have him answer it on the show. She replied, “Oh yes.” So my questions to Hank revolved around the “end of the age” as the old covenant age in (Mt.24:3), the temple being referred to as “heaven and earth” in (Mt.24:35), and how could he exegetically separate the tribulation and resurrection from Daniel’s “all these things” in (Dan.12:1-7) as all happening together in AD 70?  After Hank read the question, I was graciously told by an assistant that Hank was not going to answer these questions on the air but that he wanted to talk with me in person after the show.  

I was very excited to be able to talk with Hank. I do respect the man and we both have the same church background – Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, CA. I didn’t know how much exposure Hank had of the Biblical Preterist position and I wanted to answer any questions he had of my position and at the same time I wanted the opportunity to ask the “Bible Answer Man” some of my own.   The conversation went very well I thought and the two men were very gracious. It was an honor to be the first Biblical Preterist Hank had met and interacted with in person.    

I followed up our 2 + hour conversation with the letter below. I also told Hank that I would be sending him my book and asking Sam Frost to send him his exegesis of 1 Corinthians 15 and his CD’s on Romans, Hebrews, and the millennium – which I highly recommended. Hank and his assistant were interested in reading and listening to these to better understand full preterism and hopefully by God’s grace embrace our view. I would confirm through Hank’s secretary and Steven Ross, that they had received my fuller version of the book I have been writing, Gospel Eschatology: “A Better Resurrection” my letter, and Sam’s material. After confirming that, I would give some time so that they could read my material and go over Sam’s. After about a month I called hoping to dialog with either of them on what they thought of the material. I also wanted to see if they would answer my question regarding Daniel 12 since they avoided it. I was told through the secretary (as a mediator of sorts?) that one of them would be calling me “shortly” and within a couple of days. Since that “couple of days” period has well gone by (it has turned into years at this point!), I felt a desire and need to extend my liberty in Christ and post this letter publicly hoping for a response if not a debate with Hank or his assistant Steven. 

Motives for this open or public letter:  

It is not my desire to embarrass or put Hank or his assistant on the defensive by posting this publicly. In fact it is my desire that they see the truth of Gospel or Real Exegetical Eschatology. I also think that since they have made some comments publicly about our view, that I reserve the right to address them in a public setting as well. I know Hank has a high regard for Scripture and our right as Christians to be Berean’s – so in that spirit I submit this letter publically.  

Michael J. Sullivan
51 Harding Lane
Cherokee, NC 28719
 

CRI Hank Hanegraaff & Steven Ross

P.O. Box 8500

Charlotte, NC 28271-8500
http://www.equip.org

 

Dear Mr. Hank Hanegraaff and Steven Ross,                        Aug. 10, 2006 (revised 11/15/08)

 

Thank you once again for taking the time to speak with me after Monday nights show (8/7/06). You were both very gracious and I appreciate your zeal for God’s Word. Since the Lord has not opened up employment with CRI or anywhere else in Charlotte I remain in Cherokee until the Lord directs otherwise. I did want to go over some points on our conversation and suggest some material for both of your studies on Biblical or Full Preterism as you requested. At the same time I wanted to reiterate my answers to your questions and seek answers from you where there were none given.     

1) Matthew 24:3 and the “end of the age” 

I was glad to see that you don’t understand the “end of the age” here in (Mt. 24:3) as the Christian or new-covenant (NC) age or the end of the planet and time and that you ended up putting this conviction in your book (AC, 84ff). You appear to take the end of the age in Hebrews 9:26-28 as fulfilled in AD 70 as well. Doesn’t “common sense” (your term) teach then that the “SECOND” advent took place in AD 70 and is not future to use nor are we awaiting then a THIRD advent? 

However, like DeMar, I believe your position arbitrarily does not deal with the “end of the age” or “this age” in (Mt.13). On what hermeneutical grounds does Jesus or Matthew change the meaning of this phrase between Matthew 13 and Matthew 24?  Please read my series of articles on the Olivet Discourse off of my web site. Also, I was wondering if you divide Matthew 24 into two sections or do you follow DeMar’s exegesis here as well?  

2)  Daniel 12:7 

Let me know when you or your assistant Steven, have an answer for me on this text. And connecting this text in with point #1 above, you can see that Jesus references Daniel 12:2-3 in Matthew 13:43 regarding the resurrection/harvest at the “end of this age.” Point: If the “end of the age” according to Jesus’ teaching is the end of the OC age and Daniel foretold that “all these things” (including the resurrection) would occur when the Temple was destroyed, “when the power of the holy people is completely shattered,” then once again Scripture interprets Scripture and an A.D. 70 time frame for the end of the age and resurrection is established.  You claim to adhere to the principle of the analogy of Scripture or as you call it “Scriptural synergy.” So where is your “Scriptural synergy” here in Matthew 24, Matthew 13 and Daniel 12 in regards to the time frame of the resurrection? 

Hank I believe you are correct in seeing the time statements associated with Daniel and John’s prophecy as literal: 

 

Did God change His method of telling time

Between Daniel & John concerning the same subject matter?

 
DANIEL WAS TOLD:
 

1·   “Seal up the vision”

 
JOHN WAS TOLD:
 
1·   “Don’t seal up…”

2·   Why? “the appointed time was long…” and

 

3·   “…the vision refers to many days yet to come.”

      (Dan. 10:1;14)

2·   Why? “…for the time is at hand.”

 
 
3·   “…for the time is near
      (Rev. 22:10 & 1:3)

4·   Daniel was told that he would not live to see this prophecy fulfilled.

      (Dan. 12:13)

4·   John was told that he could live to see the prophecy fulfilled.

      (Mat. 16:27-28, Mat. 10:22-23; Mat. 24:34; Jn. 21:18-22)

 

However, you have to remember that like John’s prophecy, Daniel foretold the judgment, resurrection, coming of the Lord, and tribulation. According to John all of these events would soon transpire. You eisegetically and arbitrarily decide that the resurrection is not a part of “all these things” or the “things” in Daniel 12:7 and in Revelation 1:1. Just as the end of “all things” in (1Pet. 4:7) in your and the partial preterist view apparently means “most” or “some” things and somehow is not concerning the “living and the dead” which is within the immediate context of Peter’s time statement (vss.5, 17)? Again that’s not Exegetical Eschatology it’s eisegetical eschatology. I hope you will address these texts in your book (note he doesn’t!) since everyone else – Gary DeMar, Kenneth Gentry, Keith Mathison, R.C. Sproul, etc. totally ignore them. You are not alone in not having an answer to Daniel 12:7 or these other questions. However, Reformed theologians such as James Jordan and Peter Leithart have conceded in their books on Second Peter and a commentary on Daniel, that the resurrection of Daniel 12 and the end of the OC age in Matthew 13 took place in A.D. 70.   

How is it that your own assistant (Steven) tells me he can’t find a single passage in the OT that teaches a biological resurrection of corpses at the end of time, and yet you feel free to call us heretics all the while not allowing us to debate or challenge you publicly? Not to mention Hank you gave us your word that you would debate our position after you finished your book and you broke your word and backed out of the debate! How can this be considered a righteous or moral judgment on your part?  In Acts Paul clearly tells us that he taught nothing else except that which was found in the law and the prophets—the “hope of Israel” (Acts 24-28). NT eschatology is the fulfillment of OT eschatology! “Common sense” (your term) tells us that if there is no biological resurrection of corpses referenced at the end of time found in the OT (Hos. 13; Isa. 25- per Steven), then there is none in the NT (of which Paul references in 1 Corinthians 15).  

I noticed that even after you didn’t answer my question on the radio about Daniel 12 or following up with me like you promised, you didn’t even address Daniel 12:1-7 in your book!  Daniel 12 should be important to you since that was the ONLY reference to a biological resurrection of the dead that you gave me while Steven was silent – having admitted he knew of NO OT passage that taught such a concept.  

3) Your admissions that time statements are to be understood literally, the Greek word mello, the creation groaning in Romans 8, and Genesis issues. 

Hank you likewise stated that the Greek word mello in Revelation was to be understood as imminence and referring to AD 70. Let me quote what your friend R.C. Sproul and Kenneth Gentry say of this word:  

“Let me give the reader another example of how futurists violate their own hermeneutics when it comes to the “at hand” kingdom “end of the age” harvest/resurrection that John and Jesus preached was coming and would occur at the end of their “this age.” R.C. Sproul agrees with futurist Kenneth Gentry about the traid of imminent statements in Revelation refering to a soon coming of Christ in A.D. 70. They are as follows: 

1) taxos word group – “shortly” or “quickly” (Rev.1:1; 2:16; 3:11; 22:6, 7, 12, 20).            

2) engus word group – “near” or “at hand” (Rev.1:3; 22:10).

3) mello word group – “about to” or “on the point of” (Rev.1:19; 3:10).

Sproul summarizes Gentry’s case on these time frame references as clearly A.D.70 events and states:

“Gentry argues that commentators would render the term differently from the lexiographical consensus only if influenced by an interpretive controlling a priori.”[ii] 

Our point of interest here is the third word group listed above – mello “about to” or “on the point of.” Sproul quoting Gentry says of this word,

“Certainly it is true that the verb mello can indicate simply ‘destined,’ or it can be emplyed in a weakened sense as a periphrasis for the futre tense,” Gentry says. “Nevertheless, when used with the aorist infinitive –as in Revelation 1:19—the words predominant usage and preferred meaning is: ‘be on the point of, be about to.’ The same is true when the word is used with the present infinitive, as in Rev.3:10. The basic meaning in both Thayer and Abbott-Smith is: ‘to be about to.”[iii]  

Well, just as Sproul and Gentry accuse other futurists as having a priori reasons for not taking the time texts throughout Revelation to be speaking to A.D.70 events, they likewise bring their hyper-creedal presuppositions to the book and pick and choose what texts they want to be A.D.70 fulfillments and which ones are allegedly 2000+ years removed! Nowhere does John say that “some or most of the things I am writing to you will shortly come to pass,” he states, “I am writing to you about things which must shortly come to pass” (Rev.1:1). It is only the judgment associated with the resurrection that apparently the time texts throughout the book do not address! Once again this is eisegetical eschatology that you have embraced. And when the same Greek construction that renders mello to have the “predominant usage” and “basic meaning” of “be on the point of, be about to” in the book of Acts concerning the resurrection preached by Paul — we don’t find any comment from Gentry, Sproul, or any partial preterist on these texts: 

1) ”because He has appointed a day on which He mello is about to judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” (Acts 17:31)

2) ”I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there (Greek mello)is about to be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust” (Acts.24:15)    

You don’t think that they themselves have any “a priori” creedal biases on the resurrection that cause them to contradict their previous statements about mello or that cause them to flat out avoid these passages–do you?!? This is a classic case of taking the eisegetical plank out of your eye first, before seeking to take it out of other eschatological views! Clearly the “kind” of resurrection/harvest associated with the kingdom and judgment John the Baptist was preaching to be “at hand” in (Mt.3:3, 10-12) and Jesus discussed to take place in his OC “this age” (Mt.13:49) is what Paul under inspiration understood to be “on the point of being fulfilled” in his day! Clearly when we don’t approach the Scripture with futuristic (no matter what brand it is packaged in – even partial “preterism”) “a priori” presuppostions, Scripture interprets itself. 

Steven you asked me about mello in Romans 8 when I brought this up: 

“For I reckon that the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory about to be revealed in us;” (Rms. 8:18 YLT) 

“Why, what we now suffer I count as nothing in comparison with the glory which is soon to be manifested in us.” (Rms. 8:18 WEY) 

Peter said the same thing about the glory “about to be” (Greek mello) revealed in (1 Pet. 5:1).  

Not only do partial preterists and futurists ignore mello in Romans 8, but R.C. Sproul tells us that the time statements in Romans 13:11-12 can “reasonably” (hermeneutically) apply to previous passages in Romans that don’t have explicit time texts:  

“…you are treasuring up for yourselves wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who “will render to each one according to his deeds”… (Rom.2:4-6)

…in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.” (Rom.2:16)

Paul refers to “the day of wrath” and “the day when God will judge the secrets of men.” Presumably both references are to the same “day.” Traditionalists see them as references to the yet future last judgment. Preterists like Russell interpret these references as they do all other references to the day of the Lord: this is the dark day of judgment that befell Israel in the destruction of Jerusalem.

Though the above texts lack time-frame references, they may reasonably be linked to later references Paul makes in the same epistle: “And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand…” (Rom.13:11-12)[iv]

Therefore, according to the partial preterist position: 1) mello is a time statement that needs to be taken literally and 2) the time statements in Romans 13:11-12 can “reasonably be linked” to Romans 8 (an earlier chapter). We appreciate some honesty taking place but on the one hand  there is clearly some man fearing and dishonest eisegesis taking place as well.  

Hank you had some questions on Romans 8 – please see my article on the time texts in Romans and my articles on the redemption of Romans 8 and Luke 21 along with the temple imagery in Genesis articles taken from my web site. I believe you are reading things into Genesis that aren’t there and then reading them into your faulty understanding of Romans 8 on top of it all.

 a)       Can you prove exegetically that had Adam not eaten from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that he would have never physically died? I have seen both futurists and preterists use Young’s translation of (Gen.2:17) “dying you shall die” to prove either: 1) physical death was a part of the curse, or 2) he was already created a being already physically dying and would die spiritually the day he ate. But most commentators – futurist or preterist agree that Young’s translation is not supported by the way this phrase is used throughout the rest of the OT. The point is just that the day he ate he would die. Therefore, let’s just stick with the facts: 1) The day he ate he did not die physically so the curse of the “death” in transgressing the law was spiritual death NOT physical. 2) The day he ate his eyes were opened to his shame and guilt like the serpent told them.  

b)         Your position assumes that there was no physical death or decay of any created thing prior to Adam’s sin – thus animals and plant life are now “groaning” in Romans 8. Where are you getting this from in Genesis or Romans 8? This also assumes that all animals just ate vegetation. I prefer to stick to the text and see spiritual death being the issue, and (although this also may be an assumption on my part) that seeing physical death around him in the plant and animal kingdom – gave him a concept of what spiritual death was or would be – separation from one realm to another.        

c)         I think you prematurely jumped on me answering your point that “yes” physical death for Adam and thorns and briers were apart of the consequences of Adam’s sin. However, because I don’t share your assumptions your argument doesn’t hold water in the way you want it too. I don’t see from the text in Genesis or Romans 8 that prior to Adam’s sin that leaves didn’t fall from the trees, or that the entire planet was a lush like garden paradise, or that there was no biological death in Adam’s environment, etc. 1) The point of Adam’s biological death was that he would die in the place from where he was formed before he was “put” into the garden by God ie. – the dust outside the garden – away from God’s presence. 2) I understand the curse of the ground, thorns, and difficulty in labor in the Land of Eden, the same way I see God affecting the Promised Land for Israel in Deuteronomy 28. Actually, both are essentially the same geographical area marked off by the Northern river of Euphrates and the southern river of Egypt or the Gihon (Gen.2/Gen.15). It’s not as if this was the first time that a thorn or hardened land had ever been in existence or that areas less vegetated (“from the dust”) existed before the fall-outside the garden. 

 

d)          There are actually a lot of issues that partial and full preterists need to work through in Genesis in relation to how they see Revelation being fulfilled within the first century. When you start to say that the Greek NT word ge is “land” and not a global “earth” you will have to deal with it’s OT father erets. Also if you take the tribulation as a local event, other issues with the flood come to surface. Gary correctly writes, “The “coming” of “the Son of Man” is most often taught as a worldwide event since Jesus states that “all the tribes of the earth will mourn.” Again most Bible translations do not capture the true meaning of the Greek… The New Testament pattern follows the Old Testament pattern. The meaning of the Hebrew word erets is simply “the land” and not “the earth” as in most English translations. For the most part, it refers to a specific stretch of land in a local, geographical, or political sense. (Gary DeMar, Last Days Madness, Ibid., 166). 

 I grew up under Chuck Smith’s view that the earth was 6,000 years old waiting the 7,000 millennial period (which was supposed to be us in 2000). I’m not sure the earth is 6,000 years old to begin with, and definitely know Smith and another popular Calvary Chapel Pastor–Jon Courson–who have tried to pawn this view off on their congregations are way out to lunch! 

  

4) The world, sin, and the return of Christ at the end of the 70 weeks

 

Since you still do not have an answer for me in Daniel 12, your points in Daniel 9:24-27 about you not seeing an end to sin in the world are moot. Daniel 12 is simply a recapitulation of the 70 weeks of Daniel 9 which climax with the abomination of desoloation. Daniel and Jesus posit the “putting an end of sin” during a time associated with “your people” and the “Holy City”–when the 70 weeks prophecy would be fulfilled. Jesus says Daniel’s prophecy would be fulfilled in “this generation” (Mt.24:15/34). Please pay close attention to the exegetical fact that the abomination and desolation is the “end” to the entire 70 week prophecy (Dan. 9:27). Therefore, Jesus put an “end to sin” in AD 70 and brought in “everlasting righteousness” and a NC world wherein dwells righteousness (Dan. 12:24/2Pet. 3:13/Rev. 21-22) at that point in time.  You claimed to take Christ coming as our High Priest a second time apart from sin in Hebrews 9:26-28 as fulfilled in AD 70, so you shouldn’t have any problem seeing how Christ has taken away the sins of His people in Daniel 9:24-27 at His parousia in AD 70. Forgiveness and salvation from sin is associated with Christ’s “in a very little while” second appearing apart from sin (Rms.11:26-27/Rms.13; Heb.9:26/Heb.10:37).  

After Christ returned in AD 70 and the “heavens and earth” of the OC law passed away, Christians are currently in the New Creation (Rev.21-22) enjoying Christ – the Tree of Life and the Living Waters (Ezk.47/Jn.4/Jn.7). No unclean thing enters the gates of this city/creation because we have been resurrected and the condemnation of the law and spiritual death (1Cor.15:56) through Adam and Israel have no hold on us. Hank and Steven you asked, “what do we have to look forward too – is this it?” Christ and the forgiveness of my sins are sufficient for me – I hope it will be for you.   

Please prove to me (form Scripture) that my physical flesh needs to be redeemed and raised before my salvation can be complete. Is there something sinful about my physical flesh? The fact that I age and will die physically – do these necessarily mean that there is something about my physical body that is evil or fallen? If so isn’t this Gnosticism? Why did Jesus age? Was He as “perfect man” sinful because He aged? No my body is just fine and “good” the way it is. And Peter’s “salvation of the soul” and Christ setting up His Kingdom “within” His people has been accomplished.  

You asked: “Is Jesus Still in His Physical Body?” 

I remember at Calvary Chapel Bible College the big debate was over – if Jesus still had His nail prints in His hands. Well, I think the debate is a little bigger than that J. I responded to both of you by saying that Scripture teaches that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom” and that we “no longer know Christ after the flesh.” Also Christ prayed to return to the glory that He had with the Father before He was incarnated into a human. Now according to your understanding of “flesh” I will let you deal with those passages and let me know what you come up with. 

Hank you referenced the resurrection in John 5 a lot in our conversation so here is some material I have on the coming hour of John 4 and 5—taken off of my web site for you to read.
 

5) THE LAST HOUR AND JUDGMENT/RESURRECTION OF JOHN 4-5 

1)  Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is comingwhen you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father.  “You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.  “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.  “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (Jn. 4:21-24)

Jesus is referring to the judgment upon Jerusalem when He mentions “an hour is coming” as the “not yet” of His eschatology in discussing a mountain and temple worship with the Samaritan woman.  Jesus’ answer is a post A.D.70 answer concerning a time when a localized place of temple worship will be meaningless (Jn.4:19-21; cf. Hebs.9:6-10; Heb.12).  There are other eschatological themes such as the harvest which brings with it the Great Commission and resurrection motifs as well in this chapter.  There is only one new-covenant “harvest” and it involves the harvesting of souls unto “eternal life” and would occur at the end of the old-covenant “this age” Jesus and His audience were living in (Jn.4:35ff./Mt.3:10-12/Mt.13:37-43).  There are not two different kinds of harvests, one evangelistic and spiritual and the other involving a literal resurrection of corpses at the end of time taught in John 4-5. 

John in Revelation describes the end of the same harvest as something that would “shortly” take place and was “at hand” (Rev.1:1, 3 <–Rev.14–> Rev.22:7, 10, 12, 20).  This gives “Scriptural synergy” to our preterist interpretation of the harvest in Matthew 13 as taking place at the end of the OC age in AD 70. Jesus also instructs us that “salvation is of the Jews” (Jn.4:22) therefore once again further confirming that the harvest/resurrection occurs at the end of “Jews” old-covenant age not the Christian NC age which is described in Scripture as having no end (Ephs. 3:20-21).  The resurrection/harvest theme is coinciding with the Bride theme that was introduced previously with John the Baptist.  Samaritans were “half-breeds” that were the product of intermarriage and a “scattering” and “sowing” that occurred with the Assyrian captivity. 

A Samaritan woman who is ½ Jew and ½ Gentile is a fitting representation of the Bride of Christ – for He has reconciled the two into one new body.  The parallels of Jacob finding his wife with Jesus finding His are striking:  1)  Jacob left his home country to find a bride.  Jesus left heaven to find His Bride.  2)  Jacob had a dream of a ladder and anointed a stone.  3)  John the Baptist finds a stone (Jesus) and anoints Him – the very ladder Jacob dreamed of (Jn.1:51).  Jacob found his bride at this well at “high day.”   Jesus met with the Samaritan woman at the same well at the sixth hour or noon time.  4)  Jacob had 12 sons that comprised the old-covenant bride of Israel.  Jesus appoints 12 disciples representing the new-covenant and transformed Israel/Bride.  This woman is marred and has had 6 men in her life finding no rest and contentment until finding Jesus — the 7th.[2]  Shiloh/Jesus is the Sabbath rest who is beginning a “gathering” that will be completed at harvest time at His return in His contemporary generation (Gen. 49:1, 10; Mt. 24:30-31, 34; Hebs. 3-4, 10:25, 37).               

2)  “For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will.”  “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.  “Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live.  “For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, “and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice “and come forth––those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.” (Jn. 5:21, 24-29)

It has been creedally assumed by you and such men as Keith Mathison that Jesus taught two kinds of resurrections in John 5:  1) the first spiritual associated with the gospel in verses 25-27 because of Jesus’ statement of “the hour (or time) is coming and now is” and 2) a literal bodily one at the end of time because of Jesus’ statement “Marvel not at this: for the hour (or time) is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice…”  (WSTTB?, pp.172-173).  Mathison in n.20 on page 174 claims the same concept of a “spiritual already” and then a literal future “not yet” allegedly being taught by Jesus in (Jn.4:21-24) and thus the two should be considered parallel. We agree!  But we know the “not yet” of “the hour is coming” or “the time is coming” of John 4 is not refering to a 2000 + years away eschatological event, but when Jerusalem and the temple is destroyed in A.D. 70.  In fact Mathison’s co-author Kenneth Gentry sees Jesus’ “not yet” “the hour is coming” as we do – to be referring to the judgment upon Jerusalem and the destruction of her temple in A.D. 70.[3]  Therefore, Mathison’s paralleling Jesus’ statements in John 4 and John 5 combined with Gentry’s A.D. 70 fulfillment of John 4 makes our case.   

Jesus teaches us that He raises the dead just as He had seen His Father do (Jn. 5:21).  The Father had raised the dead in the Old Testament corporately, spiritually, and covenantally by bringing both houses of Israel back into her land under Ezra and Nehemiah (Ezk.37, Isa.26-27) which served as a type of the resurrection life Christ was bringing and would be imminently consummated.  Jesus is teaching two phases of one resurrection, not two different kinds (one spiritual and one literal) of resurrections!  In both passages marked “A” below, the “already” and “not yet” of eschatology are taught:

A)  “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth (spiritual & “already”) my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life (spiritual & “already”), and shall not come into condemnation (spiritual “already” or “not yet”); but is passed from death unto life (spiritual & “already”).  25 Verily, verily, I say unto you, (a phrase connecting the same subject matter to what follows) The hour is coming (in the not too distant “not yet” of the spiritual resurrection described above), and now is (spiritual & “already”), when the dead (spiritual) shall hear (spiritually) the voice (spiritually) of the Son of God: and they that hear (spiritually) shall live (spiritually).   

Before picking back up the same subject matter of the spiritual resurrection, Jesus goes back to a theme in verses 21-22 of Him getting life from the Father and having the authority to not only give that life but render judgment upon unbelievers:    

B)  26  For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; 27  And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.   

A)  28  Marvel not at this (that the Son has the authority to give life and judge): for the hour is coming, (the spiritual not to distant “not yet”)  in the which all that are in the graves (spiritually dead) shall hear (spiritually) his voice (spiritually), 29  And shall come forth (spiritually); they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life (spiritual “not yet”); and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection (spiritual) of damnation.   

B)  30  I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.This is simple Hebrew parallelism:

A.     (verses 24-25) Two phases of ONE resurrection with an “already” and “not yet” of those coming out of a spiritual death into a spiritual life/resurrection.

B.     (verses 26-27) Jesus has the authority to give this spiritual life (as stated above) and render judgment because His authority comes from the Father.

A.     (verses 28-29) “Marvel not at this” – that the Son has this authority & the Messianic harvest of Israel is under way.  Jesus now is picking back up the same spiritual “already” and “not yet” resurrection in the previous verses.  Here there is an emphasis on the judgment aspect. 

B.     (verses 30) Jesus’ judgment in this resurrection is once again just, because it comes from observing the Father and having a dependence on Him.   

It is pure eisegesis to assume that the “hearing,” “everlasting life,” “shall not come into condemnation,” has “passed from death unto life” are all referring to a spiritual resurrection, but then what follows is a literal resurrection at the end of time.  Likewise the “the dead” “hearing” “the voice” and “will live” are all spiritual in verse 25, as are the “all that are in the graves” whom shall “hear” his “voice.”  The following context follows suite, “the dead” are equivalent to the same subjects as “all that are in the graves” (whom have done good or evil) with the “hearing,” “voice,” and “will live” being spiritual just as they were in the previous verses.  This is very simple but for Mathison and his creedal colleagues, the text “causes difficulty” because they can’t quite figure out which events are spiritual and which ones are allegedly literal.  The old testament background here to “the dead” and those in “the graves” would be (Ezk.37:12-13).  Because of the wicked among Israel and their abuse of the godly remnant and the Sabbath, Israel went eastward into slavery and death into the land of Babylon for 70 years.  The land would receive its Sabbatical rest for 70 years and then God called Cyrus to be the deliverer who would set the captives free at the end of those years to return to their land.  God would raise them up by calling Ezra and Nehemiah to call Israel to repentance and come back into the land and rebuild the City.  The Jews during the time of Jesus were still abusing the Sabbath and the poor (Jn.5:1-19) and as the Father had the authority to judge and raise them from the “graves” of the Babylonian captivity/death in verse 21, so too did the Son have the authority to set those free whom had been enslaved to sin!  

The 1 John 2:17-18 & Revelation 14 Connections 

Hank I see no comments in your book regarding the last hour of 1 John 2:17-18. Towards the end of John’s “this generation” (Mt.24:34), He wrote that He and his audience knew it was the “last hour” (1 Jn. 2:17-18).  In Gentry’s debate with futurists over the book of Revelation he accurately states, “Similar notes of the temporal proximity of divinely governed cries abound in the New Testament (see Matt. 26:64; Acts 2:16-20; Rom. 13:11-12; 16:20; 1Cor.7:26, 29-31; Col. 3:6; 1Thess.2:16; Heb. 10:25, 37; James 5:8-9; 1Pet.4:5, 7; 1John 2:17-18).  How else could the New Testament express nearness more clearly?[4] Since Mathison takes John’s “last hour” and stretches it 2000+ years post A.D.70, we shall let Mathison, Strimple, Kistemacker, and their co-authors answer Gentry’s question here.  Most commentators agree that the analogy of Scripture (“Scriptural synergy” as you put it Hank) parallels John’s teaching on the resurrection “the hour is coming” in John 5, with “it is the last hour” of (1 Jn.2:17-18), and with the “for the hour of his judgment is come:” in (Rev. 14:7).  Mathison doesn’t even touch Revelation 14 in connection with the resurrection of John 5 and the “last hour” of 1 John 2, and in another work this is all he has to say of the entire chapter of Revelation 14, “Chapter 14 is a vision of the fall of Jerusalem, referred to here as “Babylon the great” (14:8).  As we will see in chapters 17-18, the evidence that “Babylon” is a symbolic description of Jerusalem is compelling.  At this point, we merely note that this “great city” has already been identified as Jerusalem in 11:8; where she is referred to as Sodom and Egyp.  In chapter 14, she is also called Babylon.” (Postmillennialism, 152-153).   And somehow Mathison claims that we are the ones guilty of giving “shallow exegesis”?!?  Go figure. 

What Mathison creedally and conveniently fails to cover here is that the time of Jerusalem’s/Babylon’s destruction is the time when one like the Son of Man comes on a cloud to reap the great harvest/resurrection of the earth/land and judgment is rendered for the wicked and the works of the righteous follow them into God’s presence (14:10-20).  Mathison makes the parallel with Revelation 11 and 14 but once again fails to note that the time of the judgment of the city in chapter 11 is likewise the time of the judgment (thus the resurrection) “of the dead,” and thus access into God’s Most Holy Place presence is given (Rev.11:18-19; cf. Heb.9:6-10, 26-28).  Study Bibles and commentaries alike see the connection between the harvesting/resurrection of the wicked and their blood extending “outside the City” for “a distance of 1,600 stadia” in verses 19-20 to be descriptive of being “outside Jerusalem” (Heb.13:12) and the distance of Israel’s Land within the localized Palestinian region extending from North to South or from Tyre to the border of Egypt.[5] David Chilton correctly wrote, “…The whole Land of Israel is thus represented as overflowing with blood in the coming nationwide judgment.  The streams of running blood become a great Red Sea, reaching up to the horses’ bridles in a recapitulation of the overthrow of Pharaoh’s horses and chariots (Ex. 14:23, 38; 15:19; cf. the extensive use of Exodus imagery in the following chapter).”  And “The bloodshed covers the Land, yet it is outsde the City.  The historical fulfillment of this was, form one perspective, when “Galilee was all over filled with fire and blood,” as the troops of Vespasian and Titus overran the county.  The whole Land, except for Jerusalem, was covered with death and devastation.”[6]

Mathison, like yourself and Gary DeMar, instead of cherry-picking around Revelation needs to submit to the teaching of the prophecy and become a Biblical Preterist like Chilton did.  Obviously Mathison’s conscience is bothering him since he does not allow John to interpret John in the crucial texts on the resurrection.  Nor will he even reference or recommend David Chilton as one of the greatest postmillennial partial or full preterists that has ever been in print because he had the courage and honesty that Mathison obviously lacks (Postmillennialism, pp.52-53, 273-275).  The other eschatological themes involved here in regards to the resurrection and judgment of “the dead” in (Jn. 5/Rev. 11-14) and the 144,000 in (Rev.7:4-17), is that this takes place in a time frame synonymous with this group coming out of the great tribulation and the destruction of the City and temple as (Dan.12:1-7) so clearly teaches which again James Jordan (you Gary?) see fulfilled in A.D. 70.  We have allowed Gentry to ask a question on imminence in (1 Jn.2:17-18) to his co-authors, but I have some for him now in returning back to (Jn. 4-5; 1 Jn.2:17-18; Rev. 7-14; and Dan.12/Mt.24). 

1)  How does the eschatological “not yet” “hour is coming” in (Jn. 4) apply to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 and then the same phrase “the hour is coming” as used by Jesus in (Jn. 5) get projected 2000+ years away when in fact the resurrection would occur when Jerusalem and the Temple was destroyed in A.D. 70 Dan.12:1-7/Mt.24:15, 30-31/Lk.21:22? 

2)  How does John’s “not yet” judgment and resurrection “the hour is coming” in (Jn. 4-5) not get fulfilled in his “it is the last hour” “clear nearness” A.D. 70 statement of (1Jn.2:17-18)? 

Simon Kistemacker makes the following parallels between John’s teaching on the resurrection in John 5 with that of Rev.20:    

 
Fourth Gospel
 
Revelation
 
A. First Resurrection
 
A. First Resurrection
 

I most solemnly assure you, he who hears my word and believes him who sent me has everlasting life … has passed out of death into life. I most solemnly assure you, the hour is coming — yea, has already arrived! — when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.

“… and I saw the souls of them that had been beheaded … and such as worshiped not the beast, neither his image, and received not the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.… This is the first resurrection.

… and (he) does not come into condemnation. (For the solemn introductory formula see on 1:51.)

“Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection: over these the second death has no power.”

B. Second Resurrection
(unto judgment)

B. Second Resurrection
(unto judgment)

 

Stop being surprised about this, for the hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and will come out: those who have done good, for the resurrection of life, and those who have practiced evil, for the resurrection of condemnation.

“And I saw a great white throne and him who sat upon it.… And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne; and books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of the things which were written in the books, according to their works: And the sea gave up the dead that were in it; and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.… And if any was not found in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire.”

 

We too make the parallels, but again we see two phases of ONE resurrection for “the dead” (both righteous and wicked) occurring at the end of the old-covenant age, not two kinds – one spiritual and one physical being taught by Jesus and John.  Possibly during Jesus’ ministry the “already” of the resurrection harvest had begun, but with the Holy Spirit being poured out on Pentecost, the “already” and “inauguration” stage of the new creation and “firstfruits” (Rev.14:4-20) resurrection had most definitely begun.  The “second” phase of the harvest/resurrection included the harvest “gathering” of these souls into the kingdom / new creation of God in a “end of this age,” “this generation,” “at hand,” “soon,” “some standing here,” time frame (Mt.13:39-43; 24:30-31, 34 –25; Rev.1:1, 22:12/Mt.16:27-28).  Since the resurrection includes the souls of those whom had died prior to A.D. 70, the continuity of a spiritual resurrection of souls remains the same.  In farming one does not begin with the firstfruits of grain and then at harvest time bring in something completely different such as bananas.  This was a resurrection of “souls” from the time of the firstfruits to the harvest! 

Hank, don’t you believe that the eschatological last “hour” John wrote of climax in AD 70 (1 Jn. 2:17-18/Rms. 13:11-12)? Shouldn’t we take this time text as literally fulfilled in AD 70–if not why not?  

6) The “we” in 1Thessalonians 4 and 1Corinthians 15 alongside the “you” of Matthew 24 

Here is some of my response to DeMar and Keith Mathison on 1 Thessalonians 4 that I have worked on since we last talked and which I hope and expect both of you to respond to.  

Some have argued that since Paul used the word “we” in 1 Thessalonians 4:15 and 17, Paul expected the events of I Thessalonians 4 to occur within his lifetime. “The problem with this interpretation is that in several other epistles Paul talks as though he could die soon.” Therefore “Paul [was] simply using the pronoun ‘we’ in a general way to mean ‘we Christians.’” There was nothing that demanded that Christ return in Paul’s lifetime. (WSTTB, 194)

 Response:

There is no reason to think that Paul assumed that he himself would be included in the group of believers who would remain alive to the coming of the Lord. If I were to say, “We who live long enough to see the year 2030,” there is no reason to think that I would be assuming that I myself would be among the living in 2030. My only assumption would be that some of us today would be alive in 2030. In the same way, Paul’s words imply that he knew that some of his contemporaries would still be alive when Christ returned, even as Christ Himself promised would be the case in Matthew 16:27-28.

According to Mathison, all of Paul’s “we,” “you,” and “our” statements in 1 and 2 Thessalonians refer to Paul’s own first-century audience and address Christ’s coming in A.D. 70 –except for 1 Thessalonians 4 (“the rapture”).[1] Mathison decides that “we” in 1 Thessalonians 4 means something other than what it means everywhere else in 1 and 2 Thessalonians. Suddenly in chapter 4, “we” means Christians who potentially will not be alive for a million years yet.

Now let us move on from arbitrary Mathisonian constructs to a biblical look at “the rapture” passage, 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17.

A day was coming when Christ would deliver believers from their persecutions and pour out His wrath upon their persecutors (1 Thess. 1:10; cf. 2 Thess. 1:6-7). When that Day came, the Lord descended from out of heaven with a word of command (or “a shout”), with archangelic voice, and with a trumpet call of God; and the dead in Christ rose. Then the living in Christ and the dead in Christ were simultaneously “caught up” in “clouds” to “a meeting of the Lord in the air.” 

We can know that Paul’s words in 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17 are not to be interpreted literally (a literal trumpet, etc.) because the Scriptures tell us elsewhere not to interpret them literally:

In Exodus 19 and 20, the Lord came down in a cloud over Mount Sinai. He spoke with a loud voice. There was the sound of a loud trumpet. And Moses brought the people with him to meet the Lord at Mount Sinai. Then God established His covenant with His people.

The writer of Hebrews tells us that though the trumpet and the voice of the old covenant were literal, the “trumpet” and the “voice” of the new covenant are not literal (Heb. 12:18-19). Neither is the mountain (Mount Zion) literal in the new covenant (Heb. 12:18, 22). Therefore, neither is the cloud, which covers the mountain, literal in the new covenant. 

And since the cloud-covered mountain is not literal, but is heavenly, neither then is the meeting that takes place in the heavenly mountain (i.e., in the clouds in the air) literal. Therefore the shout, voice, trumpet, mountain, cloud and meeting of 1 Thessalonians 4:16 are all spiritual antitypes of the literal shout, voice, trumpet, mountain, cloud and meeting of Exodus 19 and 20 (Heb. 12:18-22).

Therefore, what we have in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 is the “rapturously” metaphorical language of a prophet who is speaking of antitypical, spiritual realities –the profundities of Christological glory and exaltation in the consummation of the ages. 

If this sounds like an over-spiritualization, it shouldn’t. The Lord Jesus Himself was opposed to a literal rapture of the church out of the world:

I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one (John 17:15).

 

The rapture passage is no more literal than the prophecy of Ezekiel 37:4-14. There, God caused a valley full of dry bones to come together. He attached tendons to them and put skin on them. Then He caused the bodies to breathe and they stood on their feet as a vast army. The bones represented the house of Israel. They were hopelessly cut off from the land, and were said to be in “graves.” As God had done for the dry bones, He was going to do for the house of Israel.

 

Thus says the Lord God, Behold, I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves, My people; and I will bring you into the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves and caused you to come up out of your graves, My people. And I will put My Spirit within you, and you will come to life, and I will place you on your own land. Then you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken and done it, declares the Lord (Eze. 37:12-14).

In the same way, in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, God raised up His church —the first fruits of the resurrection-harvest— which was anxiously longing for the consummation of redemption and atonement. As a mighty warrior, the Lord issued forth his shout of command and sounded the trumpet of God. Then His spiritual army arose by His power. They met Him on His way to His temple to judge the enemies in His kingdom (Mal. 3:1). 

The first fruits of the resurrection had been perfected. The harvest had begun. The God-imposed covenant of Sin and Death had reached its end. The Day of Atonement had come (Lev. 25:9).

Being revealed with Christ in glory (Col. 3:4) and becoming like Him and seeing Him in His Parousia (1 John 3:2) had nothing to do with escaping physical death or with being literally caught up into the literal sky or with being biologically changed. It had to do with God’s people, living and dead, being “gathered together” to become His eternal Tabernacle, the heavenly Mount Zion, in the Spirit.

Since our Lord came with His saints and destroyed the earthly temple (Heb. 9:8), the church of all ages lives and reigns in glory with Him forever (Rom. 6:8; 2 Cor. 13:4; 2 Tim. 2:11-12). Now whether we are alive or asleep, we “live together with Him” (1 Thess. 5:10). This was not the case in the Old Testament, when to die was to be cut off from the people of God. As Paul said in Romans 14:8-9, “…Whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.”

Before leaving 1 Thessalonians 4 we need to point out that there are some major inconsistent hermeneutical issues that partial preterists such as Mathison, Gentry, DeMar and Sproul do not address. They are very creedally arbitrary in how they parallel Matthew 24 material to the rest of the New Testament.     

The 1 Thessalonians 4-5 & Matthew 24 Connections 

Gary, I was recently reading some of the articles off of your website, and was once again concerned with what I perceive to be a hypocritical judgment and approach by you in condemning Dispensationalism. Because Norman Geisler does not honor the audience relevancy issue of the “you” in Matthew 23 and 24 you conclude that Geisler is not a “trustworthy critic” of Preterism. And yet how many times have we approached you on the many parallels between the “you” and “we” of Matthew 24 and 1 Thessalonians 4? What I wish to demonstrate is you’re arbitrary partial preterism is simply no more exegetically “trustworthy” in 1 Thessalonians 4, Romans 8 and 1 Corinthians 15 than Geisler’s “exegesis” of the “you” in Matthew 23-24. I am also disturbed with the writings of Keith Mathison and the authors of WSTTB which has to be one of the all time worst and definitely not “trustworthy” and “House Divided” criticisms of Preterism that has ever been written!  One would hope that you would deal with the inconsistencies in that book at some point.

There is a major inconsistency in your argumentation and the partial or creedal preterist view regarding the use of the second person pronoun “you” in Matthew 23-24, and the “we” and “your” of 1 Thessalonians 4, Romans 8 and 1 Corinthians 15.   

Hank, in addressing the importance of audience relevancy of the “you” in Matthew 23:35 you write,

     “As context makes clear, Jesus is not addressing a past generation, for he denounces as hypocrites the present generation of teachers of the law and Pharisees who say about themselves, “If we had lived in the days of our forefathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.  So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of the sins of your forefathers!” (Matthew 23:30-32). Nor is Jesus referencing a future generation, for he specifically says, “I tell you the truth, all this will come upon this generation (v. 36).”[2]

And of the “you” in Matthew 24 you write,

     “In the end it is safe to maintain that when Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things happened” his disciples did not for a moment think he was speaking of his second coming or of the end of the cosmos. As conflicted as they may have been about the character of Christ’s kingdom or the scope of his rule, they were not in the least confused about whom he was addressing.”[3] 

While agreeing with you on the use of “you” in Matthew 23-24 and that the disciples were not confused on who Jesus was addressing and that the fulfillment of Christ’s return in Matthew 24 would come in their contemporary generation; I nonetheless believe it is you who is the one “confused” in trying to have Jesus and Paul teach two different comings of Christ – one in A.D. 70 and another alleged coming to raise biological corpses and bring an end to the world as allegedly taught in 1 Thessalonians 4 and 1 Corinthians 15.   Gary you seek to back Hank’s  exegesis of his and your “you” argument in Matthew 23 against the attacks of Norman Geisler and write,

“The latest attempt to save dispensationalism from its growing list of critics has come from Norman L. Geisler’s review of Hank Hanegraaff’s The Apocalypse Code. It’s not my place to answer Geisler for Hank, but I would like to respond to a number of issues raised by Geisler that I have raised and, if not refuted, are death blows to dispensationalism. The first is audience context, the use of “you” in Matthew 24. Here’s how Geisler states the argument:

Another argument for the preterist view is that “you” in many texts must refer to the immediate first century audience (7). They cite Matthew 23:35 as proof: “On you may come all the blood shed on the earth . . . .” Ironically, that very verse proves the contrary since a “you” is used in it of the people who slew Zechariah in the Old Testament who was long dead. So, “you” can be used historically to refer to “your ancestors” just as it can be used proleptically of “your descendants.” For example, “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you” (Mt. 5:11) in the Sermon on the Mount is not limited to Jesus’ immediate audience but also for future generations.

Throughout the Olivet Discourse, Jesus continually uses the second person plural (“you”): (24:2, 4, 6, 9, 15, 20, 23, 25, 26, 32, 33, 34). When Jesus’ disciples ask Jesus about His coming, Matthew writes: “And Jesus answered and said to them, ‘See to it that no one misleads you’” (24:4). There is no question that Jesus is addressing His present audience, the same disciples who “came up to point out the temple buildings to Him” (24:1) and those who asked Him “when will these things be?” (24:3). Geisler doesn’t say anything about how “you” is used in Matthew 24 and how the obvious reference to Jesus’ then present audience somehow shifts to a distant future audience. He’s not the only one to try this sleight of hand.
           
In Tim LaHaye’s Prophecy Study Bible, the editors admit that the use of “you” in Matthew 24:2, 4, and 6 refers to Jesus’ immediate audience, but then they see a change in audience reference at 24:9 where they maintain that “‘you’ must be taken generically as ‘you of the Jewish nation.’” There is no indication that the use of “you” in Matthew 24:9 and following refers to any other audience than the one to whom Jesus is speaking. Jesus is not laying down universal principles of behavior in the Olivet Discourse; He is outlining when certain events are going to take place and to whom. In Matthew 5:11, Jesus is telling His first-century audience how to live in the midst of persecution (cf. 5:10). Read Matthew 21:23 through 24:33 and see if you can find the places where the second person plural shifts to a future audience. The burden of proof is on Geisler and his fellow dispensationalists to prove otherwise, and as we will see, Matthew 23:35 doesn’t change a thing.”   

“In the New Testament, John the baptizer’s father’s name is Zacharias, but in Greek it’s spelled the same way as the Zechariah of Matthew 23:35. Could this be the Zechariah who Jesus said was murdered? Such a deed isn’t beyond the Scribes, Pharisees, and priests (Matt. 23:34). Consider how often they wanted to kill Jesus (John 11:53). Of course, we learn later that they did conspire to crucify Jesus (Mark 9:31; 14:1; John 5:18; 7:1). Killing a pesky priest who confirmed the work and ministry of Jesus fits with what we know about them. Of course, it’s also possible, because Zechariah was such a common name, that it could have been another Zechariah in the New Testament era who was murdered by these religious leaders.

Geisler’s argument on the second person plural does not stand up to exegetical scrutiny. By not dealing with the above arguments, he shows that he is not a trustworthy critic of the preterist interpretation of prophecy.”[4]  

Again, while agreeing with both of you for the most part in Matthew 23 and 24, I want to focus on answering two questions: 1) Are such critics of the Biblical Preterist view such as you Hank and say Mathison and Gentry “trustworthy critics” when you men claim the views of Full or Consistent Preterists are “heretical”? And 2) Are the arguments and hermeneutics of parallelism between Matthew 24 and other NT writings that Gary DeMar and Keith Mathison use consistently “trustworthy”? If it can be demonstrated that you are creedally arbitrary in your hermeneutical approach, then how are you any more “trustworthy” critics or exegetes in the area of eschatology than such writers as Norman Geisler or Thomas Ice–selah?  Let’s begin by studying Matthew 24 along side of 1 Thessalonians 4-5.  

Gary, both you and Keith Mathison in your writings arbitrarily take every chapter concerning the return of Christ, the salvation for the church and vindication and judgment of their first century enemies as all referring to the fall of Jerusalem in A.D.70, except one chapter—1 Thessalonians 4.  A creedal and career sustaining interpretation maybe, but an exegetical “trustworthy” one that seeks to honor God’s Word–by no means!  Mathison gives us the following interpretive options in 1 and 2 Thessalonians:

“1. All of the chapters refer to the second coming of Christ. This is the most popular option, and is found in all dispensational works and amillennial works.4 However, as we shall see, it requires a strained interpretation of 2 Thessalonians 2.

2. All of the chapters refer to the coming of Christ in judgment upon Jerusalem. This position is rarely held, but it is gaining popularity among a small group of full preterist.5 Its primary weakness is its interpretation of 1 Thessalonians 4.

3. All of the chapters except 2 Thessalonians 2 refer to the Second Coming. This appears to be the position of B.B. Warfield.6 Its primary weakness is that it requires Paul to change the meaning of the phrase “day of the Lord” between the writing of 1 Thessalonians 5 and the writing of 2 Thessalonians 2. That seems unlikely, in light of the existing Thessalonian confusion about this “day.”

4. All of the chapters except 1 Thessalonians 4 refer to the coming of Christ for judgment in A.D. 70. This is the position defended in the following pages.7[5]

Let’s get a bird’s-eye view of where everyone stands in 1 and 2 Thessalonians:

Passage
Biblical Peterist
Mathison
Partial Preterist
Gentry
Partial Preterist
Traditional Amillennial
1 Thess. 1-3
A.D. 70
A.D. 70
Future
Future
1 Thess. 4
A.D. 70
Future
Future
Future
1 Thess. 5
A.D. 70
A.D. 70
Future
Future
2 Thess. 1
A.D. 70
A.D. 70
Future
Future
2 Thess. 2
A.D. 70
A.D. 70
A.D. 70
Future

Hank you follow N.T. Wright’s Partial Preterist interpretation of 2 Thessalonians 2 but do not comment on the rest of 1 and 2 Thessalonians very much (AC, 212-213).  Should I place you under the Partial Preterist position of Gentry or DeMar and Mathison in your understanding of the propehtic passages in 1 and 2 Thessalonians (see chart above)? 

It is probably a good idea to review some passages in 1 and 2 Thessalonians as we head into 1 Thessalonians chapter 4. 

1)      1 Thessalonians 1-3 – Mathison and DeMar:

Mathison gives contradictory views on his interpretation of 1 Thessalonians 1:10 because in his work defending his Partial Preterist Postmillennial view, he believes this coming took place in AD 70, but when debating with us in his book, When Shall These Things Be? (WSTTB), he decides he wants to place this text among other “indefinite” time references for a future Second Coming.[6] The text reads, “And to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.” The analogy of Scripture principle of interpretation begs Mathison to answer, “why is this coming of the Lord “from heaven” not the identical coming of the Lord “from heaven” to render wrath and salvation to the same first century audience who were awaiting and expecting His return in 1 Thessalonians 4:15 or even Acts 3:19-23 for that matter”?!?

Mathison is clearer in 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16 and finds the passage fulfilled in AD 70. Here he correctly identifies the Jewish persecutors of the first century church to be the object of Christ’s return and His “wrath”[7]

Since Mathison takes (1 Thessalonians 3:13) as Christ’s return in AD70, let’s briefly analyze the wording of the passage, “so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.” In seeking to refute Dispensationalism’s version of a two second comings one “for” the saints (the “rapture” coming) and then one “with” the saints (the second coming), as apparently being worse than his own version of a two second coming theory, Mathison writes,

“Dispensationalists argue that since the Bible talks about Christ’s coming “for” the saints and “with” the saints, that implies two comings. The rapture, it is argued, is Christ’s coming for His saints, and the Second Coming is Christ’s coming with His saints. It is said that the difference between His coming for and His coming with the saints dissolves if the rapture and the Second Coming are simultaneous. Therefore the two comings must be kept separate.

If we examine the Scripture closely, however, we will see that the two words for and with present no real problem. Christ comes with the saints who have already died and for the saints who are still alive. The two occur at the same time, as a close look at 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17 reveals. Verse 14 tells us that “God will bring with Him [Christ] those who have fallen asleep”; and verse 17 teaches that Christ comes for those “who are alive and remain.”” (Dispensationalism, p.120, ibid).

Again, it is more than difficult to understand how Christ coming “with all His saints” in 1 Thessalonians 3:13 is Christ coming in A.D.70, and then in the next chapter Christ coming with His saints is an allegedly 2000+ years removed coming–wrenched from its previous A.D. 70 context!  According to Mathison’s logic, both texts should be referring to the resurrection because in both passages Christ comes “with” the saints He raised first.  

 2) The 1 Thessalonians 4-5 & Matthew 24 Connections

Virtually every commentator agrees that Paul is using Matthew 24 as the foundation for his teaching concerning the Lord’s return throughout the Thessalonian epistles. Unfortunately for men like you two and Mr. Mathison (but providentially for us), the connection becomes the clearest in the one chapter you do not want to talk about when it comes to making parallels to the Olivet Discourse—“For this we say to you by the word of the Lord…” (1 Thessalonians 4:15). Virtually every commentator and cross reference system correctly parallels 1 Thessalonians 4:15-16 with Matthew 24:30-31 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-52. You men only want to make 1 Thessalonians 4 and 1 Corinthians 15 parallels and connections while avoiding Matthew 24 and 1 Thessalonians 4 parallels (WSTTB? 193-194). You make creedally selective parallels between Matthew 24 and 1 Thessalonians 5 and some between Matthew 24 and 2 Thessalonians 1-2 in demonstrating A.D. 70 fulfillments, but again, avoid making any parallels to 1 Thessalonians 4. Let’s take a look at some of these parallels and ask some pertinent exegetical questions that arise from Mathison and DeMar’s arbitrary hermeneutics.

“The language used in 1 Thessalonians 5 is also used in passages describing the coming of Christ for judgment in A.D.70. We have already mentioned that the term “day of the Lord” (5:2) is used in 2Thessalonians 2 in a passage that refers to A.D. 70. Another interesting parallel is found in verse 3, where the coming of this destruction is compared to “birth pangs.” The same phrase is used in Matt. 24:8 to describe the judgments leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.”[8]

Mathison here has no problem paralleling similar “language” and “phrases” in 1 Thessalonians 5 with that of the Olivet Discourse. But did you notice that Mathison dishonestly left out the comparison of Christ coming as a “thief” in (1 Thessalonians 5:2) in paralleling it with the Olivet Discourse? Why? It is Because Mathison incorrectly takes Christ coming as a thief in Matthew 24:43 as the alleged end of time (“second section” of the OD) coming, while taking Christ coming as a thief here in 1Thessalonians 5:2, as the A.D. 70 coming. To bring attention to this would be to expose his artificial division and two second comings theory of the Olivet Discourse so he avoids the comparison and hopes no one will notice it.

Unlike Mathison, Gary you are a much more of a “progressive preterist” who does not divide Matthew 24-25 into teaching two comings of the Lord so you don’t have the same problems in harmonizing Christ coming as a thief in Matthew 24:43 with 1 Thessalonians 5:2 as the same AD 70 coming of the Lord. But lets examine your “you” argument once again,

“While [the Jews of the first century living in Jerusalem] are saying, “Peace and safety!’ then destruction will come upon them suddenly like birth pangs upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape” (5:3; cf. Matthew 24:15-25). The Thessalonians had been warned of this coming judgment: “But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day should overtake you like a thief” (5:4). Paul had told the Thessalonians that certain indicators were available to them that would prepare them for the “day of the Lord.””[9]   

I will return to making the Matthew 24 and 1 Thessalonians 4-5 parallels but I want to give another example of the hermeneutics employed by Mathison and you Gary before we make our more “trustworthy” ones in 1 Thessalonians 4. Another example of Mathison and you making creedally selective parallels between Paul in Thessalonians and Jesus in Matthew 24 can be seen in your Preterist interpretation of 2 Thessalonians 2:

“Some of these parallels are:

a. a coming of our Lord (2Thess.2:1; cf. Matt.24:27, 30),

b. a gathering together to Him (2Thess. 2:1; cf. Mattt.24:31),

c. apostasy (2Thess. 2:3; cf. Matt. 24:5, 10-12),

d. the mystery of lawlessness (2Thess. 2:7; Matt. 24:12),

e. satanic signs and wonders (2Thess. 2:9-10; cf. Matt. 24:24),

f. a deluding influence on unbelievers (2Thess. 2:11; cf. Matt. 24:5, 24).”[10]

Apparently Mathison has been influenced by you Gary,  

1) 2Thess. 2:1 = Mt. 24:31
2) 2Thess. 2:1-2 = Mt. 24:27,30; Lk.21:27
3) 2Thess. 2:3 = Mt. 24:12; Mk. 13:14
4) 2Thess. 2:4 = Mt. 24:25
5) 2Thess. 2:7 = Mt. 24:12, 15
6) 2Thess. 2:8-12 = Mt. 24:24; Mk. 13:22
7) 2Thess. 2:13 = Mk. 13:27; Lk. 21:8
8) 2Thee. 2:15 = Mk. 13:23,31.”[11]

I appreciate both of your Preterist interpretations of 2 Thessalonians 1-2. We should point out that Paul’s Preterist eschatology is Jesus’ when he quotes Isaiah 2:10, 19, 21 in 2 Thessalonians 1:9-10 as this judgment and Day of the Lord would be fulfilled in AD 70 (cf. Isaiah 2:19 / Luke 23:30).   But notice Paul in both of these chapters identifies the coming of the Lord with God being glorified “in” His people and they in Him —1 Thessalonians 1:10-12, 2:14. Both Mathison and you Gary passed over the parallels of Christ coming “in glory” to “gather” His elect with God being “glorified in” His people–Matthew 24:30-31/1 Thessalonians 1:10-12, 2:14; cf. John 14:2-3, 23 – note the “you” in vs. 29). Most commentators and cross reference systems understand the reception of this “glory” to be the resurrection event or the glorification of the Church and correctly apply these passages to the coming of the Lord and resurrection in glory to 1 Thessalonians 4, Romans 8, 1 Corinthians 15 and Revelation 20-22:12. Romans 8:18-23YLT is very clearly a parallel Pauline passage indicating the time frame and location of this glory or the redemption of the body – “For I reckon that the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory about to be revealed in us.” 

Instead of me making the parallels between Matthew 24 and 1 Thessalonians 4-5 that I and other Biblical Preterists have done in the past, which I know must make you and Mathison very uncomfortable, I will allow another Reformed theologian to do it for me: 

“…4:15-17 describe generally the same end-time scenario as 5:1-10. Specifically, Paul narrates the resurrection at the end of the age and then recapitulates in chapter 5 by speaking about the timing of this event and about the judgment on unbelievers, which will happen at the same time. That both 4:15-18 and 5:1-11 explain the same events is discernible from observing that both passages actually form one continuous depiction of the same narrative in Matthew 24, as apparent from the chart…”

1 Thessalonians
Matthew
 
Christ returns
4:16
24:30
From heaven
4:16
24:30
Accompanied by angels
4:16
24:31
With a trumpet of God
4:16
24:31

Believers gathered to Christ

4:17
24:31, 40-41
In clouds
4:17
24:30
Time unknown
5:1-2
24:36
Coming like a thief
5:2
24:43

Unbelievers unaware of impending judgment

5:3
24:8

Judgment comes as pain upon an expectant mother

5:3
24:8
Believers not deceived
5:4-5
24:43

Believers to be watchful

5:6
24:37-39

Warning against drunkenness

5:7
24:49

Comparison of 1 Thessalonians 4—5 with Matthew 24

“Other significant parallels include: the use of the word parousia for Christ’s coming, reference to Christ’s advent as “that day” (Mt.24:36) or “the day of the Lord” (1Thess.5:2); and a description of someone coming to “meet” another (eis apantesin autou, virgins coming out to “meet” the bridegroom in Mt 25:6; eis apantesin tou kyriou, believers “meeting” the Lord in 1Thess 4:17; see further Waterman 1975).[12]

G.K. Beale further tightens the connection of 1Thessalonians 4-5 together by demonstrating that chapter 5 is also continuing the theme of the resurrection:

“Within the larger context, 5:9-10 (appointed to receive salvation…so that…we may live) provides the basis for being self-controlled 5:8, the main point thus far in 5:8-10. Being self controlled because of the prospect of salvation and resurrection culminates in the goal of 5:1-10 to which Paul has been aiming at throughout: “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. The nearest thought sparking this final exhortation to encourage is the just mentioned consummated resurrection existence of God’s people who will join fellowship with the resurrected Christ 5:10. That the phrase we may live in 5:10 alludes to the resurrection of God’s people is borne out by observing the parallels between 5:10-11 and 4:13-18, which show that Paul has returned to the earlier theme of resurrection as the basis for encouragement:

 
4:13-18
 
5:10-11

(1) “Jesus died and rose” (4:14)

(1) “he died for us” (5:10)

(2) “the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive…will be caught up together with [hama syn] them. …And so [in this manner of resurrection existence] we will be with the Lord forever” (4:16-17)

(2) “Whether we are awake or asleep [a metaphor for living and deceased saints] we may live together with [hama syn] him” (5:10)

(3) “Therefore encourage each other [parakaleite allelous]” (4:18)

(3) “Therefore encourage one another [parakaleite allelous]” (5:11)[13]

 

Gary, you are in error when you interpret the coming of the Son of Man in Matthew 24:30 and Matthew 25:31 as an alleged ascension “coming” of Christ. The context of Matthew 24-25 is not on the ascension but on the Second Coming event that occurs at the end of the old-covenant age. Paul and the analogy of Scripture clearly view these texts to be addressing the Second Coming and resurrection event.   

But let’s return back to our topic of the “you” and “we” of Matthew 24 and 1 Thessalonians 4-5. How is that Gary you can emphasize the contemporary and first century “you” of 1 Thessalonians 5 along with the same parallel prophetic subject matter in Matthew 24 with Jesus’ first century “you,” audience, but then you refuse to address the same prophetic parallels and the first century and contemporary “we” of 1 Thessalonians 4:15 – We who are still alive and remain…”? How can you appeal to the “some standing here” of Matthew 16:27-28 to interpret the “you” of Matthew 24’s coming of Christ in judgment, and not at the same time understand the “some standing here” of Matthew 16:27-28 to be the “we who are still alive and remain…” of Pauline eschatology? Again, Keith Mathison writes of the “we”, 

“So it is best to understand that in 1 Thessalonians 4:15 and 17, Paul is simply using the pronoun “we” in a general way to mean “we Christians.” As far as Paul knew, Christ could have returned in his lifetime, but there was nothing that demanded he do so.”[14]

Paul “knew” Christ’s Second Coming and the resurrection event “could” occur in his lifetime because this is what Jesus and Paul himself taught (cf. Matthew 16:27-28; 24:30-31, 34, 25:31; Romans 8:18-23YLT; Acts 17:31; 24:15YLT)! Mathison and DeMar have no problem seeing the “we,” “you” and “our,” statements concerning the coming of the Lord everywhere else in 1 & 2 Thessalonians as applying to Christ coming in A.D.70, so there is simply no exegetical evidence demonstrating that Paul has now switched to a 2,000+ years “generalization” of these first century contemporary pronouns!   Let’s not forget Gary the “burden of proof” argument and challenge that you gave Norman Geisler concerning the “you” in Matthew 21-24, “Read Matthew 21:23 through 24:33 and see if you can find the places where the second person plural shifts to a future audience. The burden of proof is on Geisler and his fellow dispensationalists to prove otherwise,…” Well, Mr. Mathison and Mr. DeMar my response is the same–read 1 and 2 Thessalonians and see if you can find the places where the first and second person pronouns shift to a future (2000+ audience). The burden of proof is on Mathison and DeMar and their fellow Reformed Partial Preterists to prove otherwise.

In demonstrating consistently the parallels between 1 & 2 Thessalonians with that of Matthew 24, Mathison and DeMar need to be more concerned about becoming more “progressive preterists” than in exhorting men such as my former Pastor John MacArthur out of their “progressive dispensationalism” into Reformed eschatology – selah. Until there is more “progression” from men like you, Hank and Mathison, within your Partial Preterist framework, you need to be considered no more “trustworthy” of a “critic” of Biblical Preterism than Geisler, Ice or MacArthur are of your views. If you continue in your hardened understanding concerning the analogy of Scripture (Scriptural synergy) when approaching such texts as 1 Thessalonians 4 and 1 Corinthians 15 in the light of Matthew 24, again, you need to be considered no less “trustworthy” than Geisler and Ice – sela.  

An exegesis of 1Thessalonians 4:15-17

 

At this point the reader is saying, “well, makes sense so far, but give me an exegesis of the church being “caught up” in 1 Thessalonians 4:17, and explain how this was fulfilled by A.D. 70.” Fair enough. 

“we…shall be caught (Grk. Harpazo) up together with them…”

The NCV translates harpazo as “gathered up” thus giving a theological connection to the eschatological gathering of Matthew 13:39-43; 24:30-31 and 2 Thessalonians 2:1. Other translations render it “snatched away” or “will be seized.” The Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament renders a good definition of harpazo as, “of an ecstatic vision or experience catch up or away (2C 12.2).”[15]

Thus one could be “caught up” with visions or “caught up” in having a joyful “experience” associated with Christ’s return that did not necessitate a physical removal from the planet or a biological change in DNA! If Mathison and DeMar can understand the “gathering” of the church in Matthew 24:30-31 as a non-literal non-biological reception into God’s kingdom along with God being “glorified in” the church in 2 Thessalonians 1:10-12-2:14 as a non-literal transformation of God’s people being received into God’s kingdom at His return; THEN they should understand this “catching away” as a non-literal transformation and reception into God’s kingdom at His return from heaven as well! The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament gives the meaning to a word related to harpazo–harpagmos,

 

“The word then took on the sense of the more common ρπαγμα and came to mean b, “what is seized,” esp. plunder or booty. Like ρπαγμα, it then came to be used in such related expressions as ερημα, ρμαιον, ετύχημα, ρπαγμα, ρπαγμόν τι γεσθαι, ποιεσθαι, τίθεσθαι. These mean c. “to take up an attitude to something as one does to what presents itself as a prey to be grasped, a chance discovery, or a gift of fate, i.e., appropriating and using it, treating it as something desired and won.” “The figurative element in the expression still remains, and a οον or σπερ is often put before it.”[16]

 

The Liddell and Scott Lexicon render harpazo as to,

“3. seize, overpower, overmaster, 5. grasp with the senses, 6. captivate, ravish,”[17]

 

We use the word having a “figurative” meaning even today–“As I gazed upon her beauty while she was reading her vows to me, I was so captivated with the thought of taking her to myself shortly, and being enraptured with her love, that I did not even hear the Pastor prompting me that it was my turn to give my vows.” (cf. Proverbs 5:19 KJV).

 

We understand harpazo to mean that the Christians were “captivated” “figuratively” and inwardly with the joyful ecstatic experience of knowing through the outward sign of the destruction of old-covenant Jerusalem (the first adulterous wife) meant Christ had now come and consummated His marriage union with the church and thus glorified and cleansed her from sin.  Christ coming for His Church is used of Him coming as a glorious Groom taking full possession of his bride and ravishing her with His love or as a mighty King seizing and overpowering Satan in taking back His people/slaves from his enemies. In comparing other Pauline letters we know the enemies were Satan who would be crushed “shortly” (Rom. 16:20) and “the [spiritual] death” that came through Adam which was magnified through “the law” (1 Cor. 15:56). Christ was the valiant Last Adam/Warrior that had plundered the souls of men from the strong man. Adam originally had not guarded the garden against the serpent, and as a result became the slave and spoil of him! But now by the Last Adam, and through Christ’s return, the bride/spoil/slaves/captors would experience ecstatic joy in being received into the Groom’s presence thus being delivered and set free from the bondage of her previous master of Satan and the persecutin power of the adulterous Old Covenant Jerusalem (Romans 7:1-6; Matthew 22:7, Revelation 17-21).

In the gospels, Jesus said that when the kingdom would come at His return, that it would be an experience to occur “within” an individual and not something that could be seen with the physical eyes—Luke 17:20-37; Mark 9:1. The realm of the “snatching away” was an “experience” and “attitude” “within” Christians. They “grasped” and were “captivated” and had “seen” and “perceived” in their hearts and minds what Christ had done for them physically and most importantly “in” them in purifying their conscience and taking away their sins. The inward realm of redemption or catching away is further evident from a study of the next two words “clouds” and “air.”

“…in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.

In Revelation one of the descriptions of the Churches “rapture” or “resurrection” is described by the two witnesses (described as Moses–the law & Elijah–the prophets) being received up into a cloud Revelation 11:12. This is the consummation and the Church being raised and caught up into the presence of God–the fulfillment and climax of everything taught in the Law and the Prophets. Those that did not heed her message and testimony were assured of imminent destruction. The Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament gives the concept of the cloud as referring to a Theological “revelation,” “Mark 9:7a, b par. Matt 17:5a, b / Luke 9:34a, b, 35 contain the idea of the cloud of revelation, or the theophany motif, in the account of the transfiguration.[18] In our study of Matthew’s gospel and the transfiguration event, this is what we “saw/understood” the coming of the Lord being all about – the passing glory and fulfilling of the law/Moses and the prophets/Elijah with the emphasis being on listing to the new-covenant teachings and abiding glory of Jesus being that which will continue. We looked at the realm of this transformation in 2 Corinthians 3 & Romans 12 and it had to do with a spiritual transformation of the mind and heart from old covenant glory to the new covenant glory and way of living. Unlike the Judaizers whom were “waterless clouds” (Jude 12) and could not give doctrine or revelation resulting in the salvation of the soul, the Christians were and remain a heavenly people full of living water ready to rain down the righteousness of Christ upon thirsty souls through the preaching of the gospel (Isa. 45:8/Jn. 7:38/Ezk. 47/Rev. 22:17).

But what of this meeting the Lord in the “air” (Greek eros)? This word is defined as, “space inhabited and controlled by powers (Eph 2:2; 1Th 4:17; Rev 16:17)[19] Another reference works says of Ephesians 2 –

“This ruler appears as the aeon of this world, or, one might say, his atmosphere (air) allows the world to appear as Aeon, the god of eternity, whose false claim brings death to humankind (H. Schlier, Der Brief an der Epheser [1958] 102f.). From the perspective of the history of religion this represents a combination of the Empedoclean and Pythagorean worldview, according to which the air is full of souls which cannot yet rise to the ethereal world (E. Schweizer, The Letter to the Colossians [1982] 128–34), and Jewish conceptions, according to which, among other things, the air is the abode of demons (Billerbeck IV, 516).[20]

Prior to AD 70, demon’s “possessed” individuals within the realm of their minds and the spiritual realm of their being. This is consistent with the word harpazo as meaning “seizing” or “possessing” one inwardly. Satan used the old-covenant Mosaic law to blind the hearts and minds of people in the realm of the “air”—within their souls, hearts, and minds in producing an arrogant and zealous self righteousness which apart from Christ could only lead to utter despair (cf. 2 Corinthians 3; Galatians 4:17-18; Romans 7). Christ “bound the strong man” and was raising and delivering Christians from the spiritual darkness and death of this kingdom realm into His Ephesians 2:1-10. And remember Jesus clearly associated the arrival of His Kingdom at His Second Coming to be an event realized spiritually “within” and “in” the soul and not something that could be seen with the eye–Luke 17:20-37; John 14:2-3, 23, 29. Christ snatched away His beloved and spoke peace and joy into the “air” or spiritual realm of her heart, soul and mind, when the victory came and He said, “It is finished” Revelation 16:17/Hebrews 9-10/1 Corinthians 15! The powers of Satan, demons, the condemnation of the law, and the spiritual death Adam brought upon men, have all been conquered by Christ at His parousia in A.D.70 for His Church. The early church did ecstatically experience the joys of this event while on earth, and as Mathison admits, of our interpretation of 1 Thessalonians 4 – our “numbers keep growing”! 

“The Day of the Lord has ‘already come.’” (2 Thessalonians 2:2)

Before leaving the contemporary audience and eschatological themes of 1 and 2 Thessalonians, I believe it is extremely important to examine Mathison and DeMar’s preterist reasoning when it comes to some having taught and believed that “the Day of the Lord” had “already” occurred (pre-A.D. 70) and then compare their argumentation here with how he addresses the Hymenaeus and Philetus teaching that the resurrection had “already” taken place in (2 Timothy 2:18). Note Mathison’s logic,

1. “As in the case of 1 Thessalonians 5, no commentator who approaches this text under the assumption that it refers to the events surrounding the Second Coming has ever been able to offer an even remotely plausible explanation for the belief of the Thessalonian Christians that the day of the Lord had already come. If we grant the assumptions of these commentators, then Paul has already told them in his first epistle that this event would involve the bodily resurrection of the dead and the “catching up” in the air of those who would still be alive to be with the Lord forever. Unless one concludes that the Thessalonians were profoundly oblivious to reality, there is no explanation for why they would have believed that this had already taken place.

2. Futurists interpreters have also failed to offer a plausible explanation of Paul’s argumentation in 2 Thessalonians 2. If the “coming” of Christ, our “gathering” to Him, and the day of the Lord in this chapter refer to the Second Advent, the Rapture, and the bodily resurrection of the dead, then it is necessary to explain Paul’s method of proving that these things had not yet occurred. Why would Paul have tried to convince a group of believers that the Rapture and the bodily resurrection of all believers had not yet occurred by arguing that the apostasy and revelation of the man of lawlessness must coming first? If this chapter is referring to the Second Advent, the Rapture, and the bodily resurrection of the dead, the proof that these things had not yet happened would have been far more simple and obvious. The entire argument of 2 Thessalonians 2 could have been reduced to the single question, “Are you still here?[21]

And now Gary your comments on this passage who unlike Mathison, take a Preterist interpretation of the “Day of the Lord” in 2 Peter 3 (as did John Owen, John Brown and John Lightfoot),

“If the “day of the Lord” were the dissolution of the physical heavens and earth, again, how cold the Thessalonians have thought that it had already come? There is no way they could have missed it. Supposedly the end of the world will occur when the physical “elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its elemements will be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10), events that will be impossible to ignore. In fact, no one will be on the earth to wintess these events since, according to dispensational premillennialism, they follow the earthly millennium. Dispensationalists try to get around this timing factor by giving a specialized meaning to the “day of the Lord.” Literalism is once again abandoned for the sake of a preconceived system of theology.

Dispensationalists have a difficult time trying to reconcile the ways “day of the Lord” is used by Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:2, 2 Thessalonians 2:2, and by Peter in 2 Peter 3:10. They tell us that while the Thessalonian “day of the Lord” refers to events prior to the thousand years of Revelation 20:4, Peter’s “day of the Lord” refers to events following the thousand years.”[22] 

“It is obvious that Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:2 and Peter in 2 Peter 3:10 are speaking of the same day since they both use the metaphor “like a thief in the night.”[23]    

These comments by you and Mathison are right on target, but where is this interpretive reasoning and logic in addressing the error in 2 Timothy 2:18 in which there were those who taught that the resurrection had already taken place prior to the “Day of the Lord” in A.D. 70? Paul tells us at the beginning of his letters to Timothy that the cause of this growing and increasing apostasy of the “perilous times” in which they were living, had to do with the Judaizers influence surrounding “fables,” “endless genealogies,” and “idle talk,” of which these men sought to be teachers of “the law” 1 Timothy 1:4-7. The issues contributing to the apostasy here revolved around the Judaizers and “the law” not Gnosticism! They were seeking to command Christians to legalistically adhere to their traditions about abstaining from marriage (similar to the Jewish sect among the Essenes) and eating certain foods that no doubt surrounded the Levitical dietary laws–1 Timothy 4:3. Unlike Paul and Timothy, who could rightly divide the Word of Truth, Hymenaeus and Philetus could not in teaching that the resurrection had “already” taken place (2 Timothy 2:18). Our Futurist critics simply assume what they need to prove when they slanderously apply the doctrine of these false teachers to us and that we are somehow guilty of overthrowing the faith of the church.[24] It might have been a good idea for some of these critics to listen to their own editor before applying this text and these false teachers to our position, 

“It would have to be demonstrated that hyper-preterists are saying the same thing that Hymenaeus and Philetus said with the same meaning.” “…If Paul wrote 2 Timothy before A.D. 70, then the teaching of Hymanaeus and Philetus would have been wrong from either a futurist or a hyper-preterist perspective.”[25] 

If Paul had been teaching a corpse resurrection and a literal catching away at the end of time per the beliefs of you two and Mathison, then Paul would simply have said, “How can you believe the resurrection has already taken place? Look around, we are all still standing here aren’t we? Have the elements of the planet earth been burned up yet?!?” In other words, why doesn’t Paul refute Hymenaeus and Philetus with Mathison’s same “single question, ‘Are you still here’?” that he argues with in defense of Paul’s method of apologetics in addressing the Thessalonian error? Are these professing Christians and tempted Christians in 1 and 2 Timothy any less “oblivious to reality” for succumbing to this false teaching than the ones addressed in the Thessalonian epistles?

Since the Judaizers (Hymenaeus and Philetus) were always challenging Paul’s authority and seeking to deceive Christians to go back into the Mosaic law Paul makes a reference to Numbers 16 as an apologetic against them. In essence Paul is killing two birds with one stone in appealing to this historical and theological situation. The issue with the rebellion of Korah had to do with a doctrine of turning back to Egypt as the “land flowing with milk and honey” and not God’s Promised Land of Canaan Numbers 16:13! Their desire was twofold: 1) They wanted to return back to the bondage of the Egyptians and not continue in the Exodus and inheritance promises of God. And 2) They did not want to continue under Moses leadership and sought to challenge it. As God had destroyed Korah and his want to be “leaders” along with those whom sought to go back into the Egyptian bondage, so too God was “…about to judge the living and the dead, and by His Appearing and His Kingship” to destroy the likes of Hymenaeus and Philetus. These men sought to enslave the Church to go back to being in bondage to the Law of Moses and challenge Paul’s authority as an Apostle. But Jesus and the Apostle Paul through the new exodus, were seeking to deliver them out from the curse and the death of that old-covenant age (2 Timothy 4:1 WEY, YLT, DARBY, Galatians 3-5; Romans 5-8; 1 Corinthians 15).  

Concluding thoughts on the Partial Preterist  

Untrustworthy Exegesis In 1 Thessalonians 4

Paul specifically tells us that he was getting his teaching of the Lord’s return in 1 Thessalonians 4 from Jesus’ teaching in the Olivet Discourse. Everyone agrees with this “common sense” (to use the phrase you use Hank) parallel except the untrustworthy eisegesis of the Partial Preterists. Once again we have successfully exposed Mathison’s arbitrary eisegesis and creedal schizophrenic reasoning as to why Matthew 24 and 1 & 2 Thessalonians are not discussing two second coming events. Mathison has set himself up as a critic of the Biblical Preterist view of Bible prophecy and we have found him to be no less of a “trustworthy critic” than Norman Geisler is of Partial Preterism! And Gary your silence on the lack of other “obvious” parallels between Matthew 24 and 1 Thessalonians 4 along with Jesus’ use of “you” and Paul’s “we,” places your interpretation of 1 Thessalonians 4 as no less “trustworthy” than  Geisler’s interpretation of Matthew 23-24 – selah.   

We agree with Mr. Mathison’s reasoning that his Amillennial futurist colleagues should answer the questions he has raised as to how the Thessalonians could have believed an end of the earth “Day of the Lord” could have already happened pre-A.D. 70. Strimple is forced to shoot Mathison in the back while aiming at us because Mathison has used “Hyper-Preterist” reasoning along with us here in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 (WSTTB, 313). But why doesn’t Mathison use this hypothetical and argument from silence reasoning when it comes to the heresy of Hymenaeus and Philetus with the resurrection being “past already”? If the “Day of the Lord” “catching away” and “resurrection” of believers in 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 2 Peter 3, and 2 Timothy 2 were literal and cosmic events to occur at the end of history, then how could these Christians believed they “already” happened? If these events were as futurist claim they are, Paul’s apologetic would have been much different per the reasoning and admissions of Mathison and DeMar. Our exegesis of 1 Thess. 4:15-17 has the support of lexicons, uses the analogy of Scripture accurately, and follows Paul’s reasoning and logic as to how it could have been possible for Christians both in the Thessalonian epistles and in 2 Timothy to have understood that the “Day of the Lord” and the resurrection had taken place before A.D. 70.

The analogy of Scripture destroys the hyper-creedalism of your partial preterism Hank, along with Keith Mathison and Gary DeMar’s view. When we get into a comparison of Matthew 24 with 1 Thessalonians 4 and 1 Corinthians 15, your claim to believe in “Scriptural synergy” (Apocalypse Code, 9) is no less of a “trustworthy” exegesis than the futurist “exegesis” of Norman Geisler in Matthew 23-24!  At which point you will say, “Haven’t you made that point several times now in this letter?”  And of which I respond, “Yup, it must be an important point for you to sincerely meditate upon.”  

Hank, I too stand in line as a Biblical Preterist ready to debate you.  I have questions regarding your futuristic hope that as a Christian and as “The Bible Answer Man” you simply have not answered (1 Peter 3:15)–some 2 years now and counting!  Let me know where and when you plan on keeping your word in answering my questions.  If you continue to:  1)  Filter your questions on the radio in hopes of covering up your inconsistent “preterist” hermeneutic, 2)  Not keeping your word to get back with me in regards to answering some questions I asked about your inconsistent hermeneutics, or ducking and breaking your word to bebate Biblical Preterists, then 3)  You sincerely need to consider finding another title for yourself and ministry–selah.  

This concludes part 1 of the letter.

In Christ (2 Cor. 1:20),
Mike Sullivan

      



[1] Mathison, Postmillennialism, ibid., 224-225. 

 

[2] Hank Hanegraaff, THE APOCALYSE CODE FIND OUT WHAT THE BIBLE REALLY SAYS ABOUT THE END TIMES AND WHY IT MATTERS TODAY, (Nashville, Dallas: Thomas Nelson, 2007), 82. 

[3] Hanegraaff, Ibid. 86

[4] Gary DeMar, Norman Geisler, “You,” & “Zechariah the Son of Berechiah”7/9/2007, http://www.americanvision.org/articlearchive2007/07-09-07.asp

 

[5] Keith Mathison, Postmillennialism An Eschatology of Hope, (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1999), 224-225, (bold emphasis added).

[6] Keith A. Mathison, WHEN SHALL THESE THINGS BE? A REFORMED RESPONSE TO HYPER-PRETERISM, (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2004), 202.  

[7] Mathison, Ibid., WSTTB, 202 n. 64.

[8] Mathison, Ibid., Postmillennialism, 226.

[9] Gary DeMar, LAST DAYS MADNESS Obsession of the Modern Church, (Atlanta, GA: American Vision, Inc., 1994), 327. 

[10] Mathison, Ibid., Postmillenialism, 230.
[11] DeMar, Ibid., 325.

[12] G.K. Beale, THE IVP NEW TESTAMENT COMMENTARY SERIES 1-2 Thessalonians, Downers Grove, Illinois, 2003), 136-137. It may be possible to translate the “bright light” of astrape as referring to the “sun” coming from the east and shining to the west in Mt.24:27 and not “lightning.” If so another parallel can be made of Mt.24:27 with the return of Christ being associated with the “Day” “daylight” and being “sons of the Day” in 1Thess.5:1-8.

[13] Beale, ibid. 155 (emphasis added).  

[14] Mathison, Ibid. WSTTB, 194.

[15] Friberg, Timothy ; Friberg, Barbara ; Miller, Neva F.: Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament. Grand Rapids, Mich. : Baker Books, 2000 (Baker’s Greek New Testament Library 4), S. 75, emphasis added.

[16] Kittel, Gerhard (Hrsg.) ; Bromiley, Geoffrey William (Hrsg.) ; Friedrich, Gerhard (Hrsg.): Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. electronic ed. Grand Rapids, MI : Eerdmans, 1964-c1976, S. 1:473

[17] Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon.

[18] Balz, Horst Robert ; Schneider, Gerhard: Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, Mich. : Eerdmans, 1990-c1993, S. 2:464

[19] Swanson, James: Dictionary of Biblical Languages With Semantic Domains : Greek (New Testament). electronic ed. Oak Harbor : Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997, S. GGK113 Billerbeck (H. Strack and) P. Billerbeck, Kommentar zum NT aus Talmud und Midrasch I-IV (1922-28).

[20] Balz, Horst Robert ; Schneider, Gerhard: Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, Mich. : Eerdmans, 1990-c1993, S. 1:34

 

[21] Mathison, Ibid, Postmillennialism, 229, (emphasis added).

[22] DeMar, Ibid., 327-328.
[23] Ibid.

[24] Kenneth Gentry, Chuck Hill, Robert Strimple, Ibid., WSTTB, 2 n. 3, 89 n. 64, 313-314. See also John MacArthur, THE SECOND COMING Signs of Christ’s Return and the End of the Age, (Wheaton Illinois: Crossway Books, 1999), 219.

[25] Mathison, WSTTB Ibid., 194



[i] Gary DeMar, Tommy Ice and Dispensationalism Under the Microscope – Again (see our brief exchange under the “comments” section of Gary’s article here)  http://www.preteristarchive.com/PartialPreterism/demar-gary_pp_04_01.html 

 Mike Sullivan, Worlds Apart From Partial Preteristshttp://members.aol.com/healinglvs/healinglvs/pt-02b.htm 

Mike Sullivan, Gospel Eschatology: A Better Resurrection http://www.preteristarchive.com/Books/2005_sullivan_gospel-eschatology.html

[ii] Sproul, ibid, p.188
 

[iii] Sproul, ibid, p.139-140 emphasis MJS

 

[iv] Sproul, ibid., p.99, emphasis MJS

 



[1] Gary DeMar, Last Days Madness OBSESSION OF THE MODERN CHURCH, (Atlanta, GA: American Vision, 1999),  189-201. 

[2] Greg Bahnsen, Kenneth Gentry, HOUSE DIVIDED THE BREAK-UP OF DISPENSATIONAL THEOLOGY, (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1989).

The following article and footnotes can be viewed at (http://www.americanvision.org/article/a-defense-of-dispensationalism/)

Defending Dispensationalism

By Gary DeMar

John MacArthur is preaching series on eschatology that is being broadcast on WLQV, a Detroit, Michigan, radio station this week. Some of this material was published in his 1999 book The Second Coming: Signs of Christ’s Return and the End of the Age. Using a debater’s trick, MacArthur begins his analysis of non-dispensational eschatology by attacking full-preterism. Full-preterists believe that all the New Testament prophetic passages were fulfilled in A.D. 70. Thus, there is no future bodily return of Christ. The resurrection is also given a non-traditional interpretation. Of course, I have no problem with someone debating the merits of full-preterism or partial preterism, the belief that a majority or even most of the prophetic passages in the New Testament refer to events that were fulfilled in events leading up to and including the destruction of Jerusalem that took place in A.D. 70.

R. C. Sproul debates the merits of full preterism in his book The Last Days According to Jesus, as do a number of authors in When Shall These Things Be? I’ve had numerous discussions with full-preterist writers and have voiced my dissatisfaction with a number of their interpretations. While MacArthur admits that partial preterism is not heresy, he goes on to write that “it is clear that the hermeneutical approach taken by [partial] preterists is what laid the foundation for the hyper-preterist error.”[1] The old slippery-slope argument.

The same argument could be used against a dispensationalist like MacArthur. It would go like this: “It is clear that the hermeneutical approach taken by dispensationalists is what laid the foundation for the hyper-dispensational error.” Hyper or ultra-dispensationalism is so classified based on when the church age begins, either Acts 2, Acts 9, Acts 13, or Acts 28. Traditional dispensationalists don’t like being included with hyper-dispensationalists. Dispensational writer Charles F. Baker explains these dispensational divisions:

Since there is little practical difference between the Acts 9 and the Acts 13 views, these positions are usually considered in general as one. Those who hold the Acts 2 position like to refer to those who hold the Acts 13 or Acts 28 views as extreme or ultra-dispensationalists. Ryrie, who holds the Acts 2 position, refers to those of the Acts 13 persuasion as Moderate Ultradispensationalists, and those who hold the Acts 28 position as Extreme Ultra-dispensationalists, although he admits that his own view is considered to be ultradispensational by antidispensationalists.[2]

Preterists could make all dispensationalists look bad by pointing out that there are hyper-dispensationalists out there, and since they are heretical, their closest relatives—Acts 2 dispensationalists—are equally suspicious. One leads inevitably to the other. Furthermore, following MacArthur’s logic, dispensationalists could be turned into heretics by observing that Jehovah’s Witnesses and dispensationalists are premillennial. Premillennialism, therefore, leads to cultism.

Dispensationalism and premillennialism should be judged on their own merits. This does not mean that a case cannot be made for a logical relationship between dispensationalism and hyper-dispensationalism, but each position should first stand on its own.

The same “hyper” argument can be applied to Calvinism. Seeing that MacArthur is a Calvinist, I can just hear some of his Arminian friends saying, “It is clear that the hermeneutical approach taken by Calvinists like John MacArthur is what laid the foundation for the hyper-Calvinism error.” Amillennialist David Engelsma, also a preterist critic, follows a similar slippery slope argument. Engelsma writes that partial “preterism will become consistent preterism.”[3] This is curious coming from Engelsma since he defends Calvinism against those who maintain that Calvinism inevitably leads to hyper-Calvinism or that Calvinism is in fact hyper-Calvinism. He writes in Hyper-Calvinism and the Call of the Gospel,

In most cases the charge “hyper-Calvinist” is nothing but a deceptive attack upon Calvinism itself. Someone who hates Calvinism, or the uncompromising, consistent defense of Calvinism; yet he hesitates to attack Calvinism openly and forthrightly, and therefore he disguises his attack as an attack on “hyper-Calvinism” and “hyper-Calvinists.”[4]

This is exactly what Engelsma does in his attack on preterism. Instead of dealing with the detailed arguments of preterists, he immediately attacks hyper-preterism as if partial and hyper-preterism are synonymous. Let’s modify the hyper-Calvinist paragraph above by substituting hyper-preterist for hyper-Calvinist.

In most cases the charge “hyper-preterist” is nothing but a deceptive attack upon preterism itself. Someone who hates preterism, or the uncompromising, consistent defense of preterism; yet he hesitates to attack preterism openly and forthrightly, and therefore he disguises his attack as an attack on “hyper-preterism” and “hyper-preterists.”

Engelsma and MacArthur know that they cannot deal with partial preterism on its own terms because it would show how each of their prophetic systems cannot stand biblical analysis. So they attack an extreme form of the position, hoping no one will notice. This tactic is often successful because most people are ignorant of the facts.

Every theological group has its “ultras.” Paul addresses this when he asks, “Should we remain in sin, in order that grace might increase?” (Rom. 6:1) and “Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace?” (6:15). There were some who claimed that salvation by grace through faith was a license for lawlessness. “May it never be!” Is salvation by grace through faith heretical because some people misapply its tenets? May it never be. Calvinism, dispensationalism, premillennialism, and preterism should be studied and evaluated on their own merits, not in terms of how far some have taken a position. How would MacArthur respond to someone who criticized his ministry name “Grace to You” as a license to sin?

The Second Coming reads as if it was written in a hurry. For example, in one place MacArthur writes that preterists “ultimately depart from and nullify the strict literal sense of Matthew 24:34,” while on the previous page he chides preterists for insisting that Matthew 24:34 should be interpreted with “wooden literalness.”[5] So which is it? Not being literal enough or being too literal? MacArthur should have studied how “this generation” is used elsewhere in the New Testament. He didn’t. Others have. In the gospels, “this generation” always refers—without exception—to the generation to whom Jesus is speaking.[6] Since the meaning of “this generation” is crucial for establishing the proper time setting for the Olivet Discourse, MacArthur should have spent considerable time justifying his interpretation. He calls the preterist interpretation of “this generation” a “misunderstanding”[7] without ever dealing with the extensive arguments preterists use to defend their position. Preterists are not the only ones who have this “misunderstanding.” Here are three non-preterist examples:

• “[T]he obvious meaning of the words ‘this generation’ is the people contemporary with Jesus. Nothing can be gained by trying to take the word in any sense other than its normal one: in Mark (elsewhere in 8:12, 9:19) the word always has this meaning.”[8]

• “[This generation] can only with the greatest difficulty be made to mean anything other than the generation living when Jesus spoke.”[9]

• “The significance of the temporal reference has been debated, but in Mark ‘this generation’ clearly designates the contemporaries of Jesus (see on Chs. 8:12, 38; 9:19) and there is no consideration from the context which lends support to any other proposal. Jesus solemnly affirms that the generation contemporary with his disciples will witness the fulfillment of his prophetic word, culminating in the destruction of Jerusalem and the dismantling of the Temple.”[10]

Why doesn’t MacArthur attempt to refute these scholars? Do they misunderstand the clear teaching of Scripture?

MacArthur states that interpreting “this generation” in a “wooden literalness” fashion would mean that “the rest of the Olivet Discourse must be spiritualized or otherwise interpreted figuratively in order to explain how Christ’s prophecies could all have been fulfilled by A.D. 70 without His returning bodily to earth.”[11] Do preterists spiritualize the events described by Jesus in Matthew 24? Not at all! They compare Scripture with Scripture. Preterists let the Bible interpret the Bible. There were literal earthquakes (Matt. 27:54; 28:2; Acts 16:26) and literal famines (Acts 11:28; cf. Rom. 8:35), just as Jesus predicted there would be (Matt. 24:7) before that first-century generation passed away (24:33–34). Paul tells us that the “gospel” literally had been preached “to all the nations” throughout the “world” of his day (Rom. 1.8; 16:25–26; Col. 1:6, 23; 1 Tim. 3:10), just like Jesus predicted (Matt. 24:14). This says nothing of the promise by Jesus that the literal temple would be destroyed before the last apostle died (Matt. 16:27–28) and that first-century generation passed away (24:34).

Last Days Madness answers every argument raised by MacArthur, arguments which he studiously avoids addressing in this poorly argued book. Some might claim that MacArthur is unaware of preterist works. This debate has been around for centuries, and there are dozens of commentaries that take a first-century, past-fulfillment (preterist) interpretation of Matthew 24. Anyone writing on this topic should be aware of the current literature. And since he quotes from an internet article written by me, he knows what’s going on. MacArthur doesn’t even interact with R. C. Sproul’s The Last Days According to Jesus. The Second Coming is just one more example that dispensationalism cannot be defended when principles of sound scholarship are followed and applied.

Sam Frost on Jan 13, 2009 1:50pm

 

Mr. DeMar,

Great article. I myself have used this argument in the past, following Englesma. As a Full Preterist minister, we want to push the “consistent” arguement, but I am also aware of the “slippery slope” fallacy. Opponents against Full Preterism have used the same tactic: it “leads to” Universalism, Antinomianism; it makes Christianity irrelvant for today, etc., etc. I like the one that it “leads to” a complete abandonment of “all” of Church History. These arguements do reflect an ignorance or a refusal to deal with the system at hand. The fact of the matter is, Ultra Dispensationalism is a different bird from classic Ryrie or Walvoord types. Partial Preterism, legitimately, is a system that both incorporates the consensus of the Church and the historical exegesis within a first century context.

With that, though, I think it is still legitimate, or at least a legitimate concern that Full Preterism and Orthodox Preterism are closely related, and that those relational matters should still be investigated, even if we shuck the “it-leads-to-that” argument. Both views are systems within themselves, and I have no issues with Orthodox Preterism (except for the more virulent forms that froth at the mouth at the mere mention of us).

My question is, what is your opinion about the connections between the two? Certainly, one can see the foundational aspects of Ryrie Dispensationalism in Ultra Dispensationalism. Is there concern for who is consistent, or more consistent? You and I have both heard the Ultra Calvinists who say that only Calvinists are saved, because Arminianism “leads to” (if followed logically out) works salvation – which is “another gospel.” How far can this apply? Does “ignorance” enter into the picture for the individual believer that does not see all these supposed “connections”?

Samuel M. Frost, M.A.R.

 

Virgil Vaduva on Jan 13, 2009 2:36pm

This is an excellent article, as usual, thank you Gary. Beyond the unsound approach to arguments, I believe that Dispensatioanlists are finally realizing that they are a dying breed, and that is not meant to be offensive to anyone. I do not know many young people who actively subscribe to Dispensational theology, rather the new generation of Christians (at least in this country) seem to be motivated by a vision of a bright present and future where Christ reigns and where the Kingdom is already shining. By its very nature, the present dispensation does not allow for a positive world view in which Christians can have a positive influence, therefore it is socially a failure with the next generation.

 

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SPURGEON–ROUS–TOPLADY ON THE FALSE GOSPEL OF ARMINIANISM

“We are all born Arminians.”
– Charles Spurgeon on Arminianism

“The doctrine of justification itself, as preached by an Arminian, is nothing but the doctrine of salvation by works…”
– Charles Spurgeon on Arminianism

“The tendency of Arminianism is towards legality; it is nothing but legality which lays at the root of Arminianism.”
– Charles Spurgeon on Arminianism

Spurgeon: “Free will has carried many souls to hell but never a soul to heaven.”

“… I have my own private opinion that there is no such a thing as preaching Christ and him crucified, unless you preach what now-a-days is called Calvinism. I have my own ideas, and those I always state boldly. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else.”
– Charles Spurgeon on the Gospel

 “I believe that very much of current Arminianism is simply ignorance of gospel doctrine; and if people began to study their Bibles, and to take the Word of God as they find it, they must inevitably, if believers, rise up to rejoice in the doctrines of grace.”
– Charles Spurgeon

A Jesuit: “Now we have planted the Sovereign Drug Arminianism, OUR FOUNDATION IS ARMINIANISM.”

Rous: “Arminianism is the very essence of Popery.”

Toplady: “The charge on which many of the Protestant martyrs were burnt at the stake was that they held to the doctrine of predestination & rejected the Arminian and Popish doctrine of free-will.”

“All the sects…Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, Pentecostalists, Mormons, Christadelphians, Cooneyites, etc., have all in common, the fatal lie of free willism. It…causes the soul to sleep in delusion, & the end of such delusion is death.”


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AN OPEN LETTER TO GARY NORTH CONCERNING DAVID CHILTON AND THE “ESCHATOLOGICAL SCHIZOPHRENIA” OF PARTIAL PRETERISM ON THE RESURRECTION OF DANIEL 12 / MATTHEW 13

AN OPEN LETTER TO GARY NORTH CONCERNING DAVID CHILTON AND THE “ESCHATOLOGICAL SCHIZOPHRENIA” OF PARTIAL PRETERISM ON THE RESURRECTION OF
DANIEL 12 / MATTHEW 13

BY: MICHAEL J. SULLIVAN
 
Dear Mr. Gary North,                                                                                                 January 5, 2009
 

The main purpose of this letter is to address: 1) Your public comments of David Chilton that were deceptive, 2) Your public hypocrisy and judgment concerning the issue of “eschatological schizophrenia,” and 3) A call for you to reconcile with Biblical preterists.     

David Chilton

You write of David Chilton coming out of partial preterism into Biblical preterism,

As the publisher of Days of Vengeance and Paradise Restored, let me say, without hesitation, that the post-1994 David Chilton is indeed a heretic who has denied the Church’s historic creeds and confessions on the question of the Second Coming of Christ and the Final Judgment.

It is always sad when a defender of the faith abandons orthodoxy on any point. When he abandons it on the very point on which he had made his intellectual reputation, it is double sad. In Chilton’s case, it is pathetic, for no matter what he writes on this topic from now on, his critics will be able to say, justifiably: “His heart attack disrupted his ability to think clearly. It distorted his judgment.”

From his public outburst against Vern Crisler – for which he later repented, admitting that he cannot think straight these days – until this self-burial of his pre-1994 writings, David Chilton has gone off the deep end. He has now become self-damaged goods delivered on the doorstep of Max King.

ICE will continue to publish Productive Christians in an Age of Guilt Manipulators and The Great Tribulation. Dominion Press will continue to publish Days of Vengeance and Paradise Restored. I am happy with the existing editions of all of these books. They will not be revised for as long as these two publishers continue to publish these four books. For as long as there is money to plow back into publishing them, they will appear just as they are today. It is sad when a publisher must defend fine books against their author, but such is the case. I bought orthodoxy. I will not relinquish it in order to turn it over to a man who has literally lost his mind – the mind of Christ.

I would suggest that we not encourage his heresy by interacting with him on this matter on this or any other forum. It is now a matter of Church discipline, assuming that he is under any.

I plan to hire Ken Gentry to write a refutation of heretical preterism. We should respond to these ideas, but not to Chilton personally. He is crippled now, and I do not think it is fair to beat him up in public. It is also unlikely to change what is left of his mind.

We can and should pray for the restoration of his mind, but to debate with him publicly will almost certainly drive him deeper into this heresy. He will feel compelled to defend himself in public. Let him go in peace. It is not our God-given task to confront him at this point. That is for his local church to do. It is not as though he were some unknown church member who has stumbled into this heresy unknowingly. He is self-conscious, to the extent of a victim of a massive, brain-affecting heart attack can be self-conscious. He is not the man we used to know, as he has admitted here. That man died in 1994, he says. I agree. So, let us say now, David Chilton, RIP.

Gary North

The deception here is that Chilton left the inconsistencies of hyper-creedal eschatology behind  after his heart attack because he “lost his mind.” Apparently it was because he couldn’t reason clearly that he embraced the view according to you and became damaged goods. This is false. It is very clear in his writings prior to 1994 (of which you published), that David Chilton was extremely close to embracing exegetical or Biblical preterism. He obviously was afraid to develop that Matthew 24-25 could not be divided into teaching two different comings of Christ, but definitely broke with your and Gentry’s traditional “two section” view (Day’s of Vengeance, 542).  In around 1990-91 after reading Paradise Restored and Day’s of Vengeance I visited Chilton’s home and told him that in my own studies I was finding it very difficult to divide Matthew 24-25 up and was seeing the entire discourse as one coming having been fulfilled in AD 70. I also asked him about the page above (542) and asked him why he and other postmillennialists didn’t and don’t go beyond Matthew 24:1-34 in their exegesis? He simply smiled at me (as if to say “yeah I know where you are coming from”) and told me to read Russell’s book, “The Parousia.” 

After reading the book I wrote Mr. Chilton about his smile. I told him that I believed he knew the truth but feared man and that he shouldn’t. He wrote me back an extremely harsh letter. I responded that I would be praying that the Lord chasten him for suppressing the truth and his harsh comments towards me. Within a year Chilton was in the hospital. I gathered some friends from my church and we came down and sang praise songs in his hospital room. He would later confess to me that he in fact did know that my position on preterism was true.

My testimony and interaction with Chilton is similar to others.  Here is a statement from one of his friends: 

“Before he became a consistent preterist (or, as Gary North puts it, a “heretic”), David concluded that there were no verses in the Bible which taught a future (to us) coming of Christ, in which Christ would bodily return to this planet. Nevertheless, he continued to believe this, the “orthodox”  doctrine of the “Second Coming,” because it had been taught for nearly 2000 years by “Holy Mother the Church” (Chilton’s words).

After his heart attack, he apparently abandoned the doctrine that the institutional church has priority over the Scriptures.”            

Clearly, Chilton was conflicted in embracing either: 1) the authority and analogy of Scripture or 2) a more Roman Catholic view of church tradition and “orthodoxy.” I believe that the facts of the case are that Chilton’s close encounter with death woke him up to a deeper appreciation of the authority and harmony of the Scriptures concerning the Second Coming. In Chilton’s lectures after his heart attack he also confessed his problems with Greg Bahnsen’s lack of sound exegesis concerning Matthew 5:17-19 and Hebrews 8:13. He claimed he had some problems with these verses long before embracing Biblical preterism. He also claimed he clearly saw the problem of dividing Matthew 24-25 into two sections based upon how Luke describes the Second Coming in Luke 17. In Days of Vengeance, his conflicted conscience is very clearly seen whenever the resurrection and millennium is in view. At this point, he departs from his preterist hermeneutic and from following the recapitulation structure of the book of Revelation and begins citing the creeds of “Mother Church” instead.      

YOUR ESCHATOLOGICAL SCHIZOPHRENIC HERITAGE

In your foreword to HOUSE DIVIDED THE BREAK-UP OF DISPENSATIONAL THEOLOGY, you (and Gary DeMar pp. 349ff.) claim dispensationalism is breaking up and will soon die because of the two contradictory (“House Divided” “Theological Schizophrenic”) approaches: 1) old school dispensationalism and 2)  progressive dispensationalism. Gentry goes on to develop this a little more in dipensationalisms conflicted views of the kingdom for example: 1) old school – it is completely future for Israel and 2) progressives – it has an element of the “already” and “not yet” for the church right now. It is correctly argued in that book that once the O.T. kingdom passages apply to the church, the pillars to dispensationalism’s hermeneutic come tumbling down and its house cannot exegetically or logically stand.

But Mr. North, this is clear hypocrisy coming from you, DeMar and Gentry. Your Reformed tradtion is likewise a “House Divided” that cannot stand against our exegesis: 1) Amillennialism – the N.T. only teaches one Second Coming of Jesus and 2) The N.T. time texts “demand” a preterist and AD 70 fulfillment. Of course both of these propositions form our view! Reformed theologians schizophrenically believe: 

·         The last days ceased in AD 70 / No we are still in the last days.

·         Matthew 24-25 cannot be divided and was fulfilled by AD 70 / No it’s all future.

·         The end of the age took place in AD 70 / No its future.

·         There are two “ends” “ages” great commissions, comings, in the N.T. / No just one.

·         All of the de-creation passages in the N.T. are addressing the end of the Old Covenant age or the minds and hearts of men / No they are all future and are referring to the literal creation. 

The schizophrenic madness of Reformed eschatology is most evidently demonstrated in reading my opponent (and one of your partial preterist postmillennial colleagues)–Keith A. Mathison’s chapter in When Shall These Things Be?  In one book he “knows” and is certain of the time texts such as “this generation” and “soon”  as being fulfilled by AD 70 and yet when trying to refute us he apparently doesn’t know anything!  He doesn’t offer any “specific answers” which you claim to value.   

DANIEL 12 & MATTHEW 13 – James Jordan, Peter Leithart and Gary DeMar

Gary DeMar

Of Matthew 13 and the parable of the wheat and the tares you have written, “Anyone who equates the fulfillment of [the parable of he wheat and the tares] with A.D. 70 has broken with the historic faith of the church.” Is this why Gary DeMar in his book Last Days Madness claims the “end of the age” in Matthew 24:3 is describing the end of the Old Covenant age and the consummation of the new by AD 70 (discussing preterist interpretations of Matthew 3, 21-23, etc. to lay the foundation to his exegesis of 24:3) and yet totally SKIPS OVER any discussion of Jesus’ teaching of the “end of the age” in Matthew 13?!? (Last Days Madness, 68ff.). Isn’t the truth that Gary is afraid of the likes of you? Should Gary be disciplined by his church for teaching at Biblical preterist conferences or publishing Jordan’s view that the resurrection of Daniel 12 and Matthew 13 was fulfilled by AD 70? If not why not Mr. North? Is it because Gary sells your material? Should he and Jordan be disciplined because they will not privately or publically affirm with you that our position is “heretical” ? Thomas Ice asked Gary in a debate (that you were present at), where in the history of the church does the coming of Jesus in Matthew 25:31ff. find a preterist interpretation? Wouldn’t you agree with Mr. Ice that DeMar has “broken with the historic faith of the church” on this passage as well?  And what of his refutation of your hired hand (Gentry) in exegetically defending that Matthew 24-25 cannot be divided (Last Days Madness, 189-201)?  Is that a creedal and historic view of the church?   

James Jordan  

You have touted James Jordan as a brilliant theologian and yet he understands the resurrection of Daniel 12 and the harvest and resurrection of Matthew 13 as evangelistic and dealing with the resurrection of the church out of the Great Tribulation—ie. fulfilled by AD 70 (THE HANDWRITING ON THE WALL A Commentary on the Book of Daniel, 618-628). And Peter Leithart clearly understands the parable of the wheat and the tares to have been fulfilled by the end of the Old Covenant age in AD 70 (THE PROMISE OF HIS APPEARING AN EXPOSITION OF SECOND PETER, 95). 

So what happened in the James Jordan (partial preterist) / Don Preston (full preterist) debate Mr. North? Isn’t this the REAL reason you have exhorted your partial preterist collegues to not engage with us? Why haven’t you or Jordan offered this debate to the public? Why was Jordan hugging Don in the hallways during the breaks? Wasn’t it because he was getting struck with the Word of God and he knew he deserved it—and to a certain extent enjoyed it? 

So since DeMar and Jordan haven’t had a heart attack, what is your EXCUSE as to their teachings?!? 

Kenneth Gentry

Where is this refutation of our view that you were going to hire Mr. Gentry to do? Surely it wasn’t apart of his chapter in the WSTTB project?  How did he get stuck with the assignment of pawning off Roman Catholic Scott Hahn “arguments”?  Surely we know why–all of the authors have been and would be embarrassed to have Gentry admit (as he has elsewhere) that the time texts “demand” a preterist interpretation – lol. Two of my fellow co-authors David Green and Ed Hassertt have already destroyed Gentry’s logic along with your article on 1 Corinthians 15.  Are you and the Reformed community asking us to repent from making the Matthew 13 / 1 Corinthians 15 connections or the Matthew 24 / 1 Corinthians 15 connections?   Either way there is a “House Divided” approach between your “orthodox” partial preterist theologians and your amillennial futurist ones that obviously has not been resolved.  Stop kicking against the goads and accept that God is working through the Biblical preterist view to fix and restore the divided house of Reformed eschatology.  Since Mr. Gentry now takes the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 as fulfilled by AD 70, I have a placed my article entitled, “Kenneth Gentry’s Prophetic Confusion and The Analogy of Scripture” below the conclusion of this letter.   

CONCLUSION

A clear reading of David Chilton before and after 1994 indicates that he was conflicted with: 1).  embracing a Roman Catholic view of authority and tradition or 2). following the authority and analogy of Scripture, and was thus heading in the direction of Biblical preterism. Your harsh and judgmental comments of him (and us) are not sound exegetically and therefore must be seen as being motivated from your prideful (and yet cowardly) heart. To pursue and persecute Biblical preterists in churches with isolation and discipline without exegetical evidence is equivalent to seeking to harm Christ Himself (ex: Acts 9:5). You know the fate of Saul and the spear throwing type Gary. Your sin is no light matter.  Because your sin has been public, I am humbly requesting that you confess and turn from: 1) Your deceptive and misleading statements, 2) Your hypocritical statements (the beam in your own eye – your eschatological schizophrenia among your own writers and that of your Reformed and creedal tradition as a whole), 3) Your suppression of the truth and sin of not continuing in doctrine, and 4) Your persecution of Christians who are apart of the Body of Christ. May the Lord be gracious to your soul and chasten you for what you have done. Let the healing begin now.  If He should be so gracious as to heal and restore your soul in these areas, we would be honored to have you publish and “hire” us in our response to WSTTB. When you are ready for Biblical dominion and want to rid yourself of your eschatological schizophrenia, please feel free to contact me.

KENNETH GENTRY’S PROPHETIC CONFUSION
AND
THE ANALOGY OF SCRIPTURE

By: Michael J. Sullivan

This article will focus on Kenneth Gentry’s confusing comments about the disciples question concerning “the end of the age” in Matthew 24:3 and Mr. Gentry’s admission that the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 was a corporate body resurrection for covenantal Israel having been fulfilled in AD 70. It is my proposition that: 1) Gentry’s position that the NT imminent time texts “demand” an AD 70 fulfillment and that Daniel 12:2-3 and Matthew 24:30-31were fulfilled by AD 70 is correct and 2) That the standard Reformed position which understands these passages to be referring to the general resurrection (connected to Matthew 13; John 5; 1 Cor. 15; 1 Thess. 4; Rev. 20) is also an exegetically sound proposition. However we need to press the question as to which church tradition and public confessions and creeds concerning the end of the age/the age to come and the resurrection are “infallibly certain” and which ones aren’t: 1) the partial preterist view or 2) the classic amillennialists view? And is it possible to bring the two together to form a more exegetical and orthodox (“straight”) position on the timing and spiritual nature of the general resurrection as defended by the Biblical preterist position of the author?    

Gentry’s confusion on the “end of the age” in Matthew 24:3

Here is what I was trying to reconcile in Gentry’s writings on the “end of the age” as both taking place in AD 70, and yet also allegedly being a reference to the end of the world?

“Christ’s teaching here is extremely important to redemptive history.  He is responding to the question of His disciples regarding when the end of the “age” (Gk., aion) will occur (24:3).  In essence, His full answer is:  when the Romans lay waste the temple…”[1]

And that,

“The change of the age is finalized and sealed at the destruction of Jerusalem; allusions to the A.D. 70 transition abound:  “Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste of death till they see the kingdom of God present with power” (Mark 9:1)”[2] 

And therefore this “change of the age” and one of the “allusions to the AD 70 transition” judgment of this change can be found earlier on in John the Baptist’s teaching,  

“Matthew records John’s warning that “the axe is already laid at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (3:10).  Here John draws his imagery from God’s judgment against Assyria (Isa. 10:33-34):  that sort of judgment soon will break upon Israel.  Indeed, “his winnowing fork is in his hand” already (Matt. 3:12).”[3]

R.C. Sproul claims that a “fundamental” hermeneutic of “preterism” (partial or full), is the interpretation that the “end of the age” harvest/judgment in Matthew 3 and 13 was fulfilled by AD 70:

“Fundamental to preterism is the contention that the phrase “the end of the age” refers specifically to the end of the Jewish age and the beginning of the age of the Gentiles, or church age.  J. Suart Russell begins his exposition of this concept by referring to the content of Matthew 13:” 

“…Kosmos in ver. 38, 40, refers to a period of time, and should be rendered age or epock… It is of the greatest importance to understand correctly the true meaning of this word, and of the phrase “the end of the aion, or age.”  Aion is, as we have said, a period of time, or an age.  It is exactly equivalent to the Latin word aevum, which is merely aion in a Latin dress; and the phrase, sun-teleia tou aionos, translated in our English version, “the end of the world, should be “the close of the age.”

Russell argues that the end of the age signals not merely an “end,” but a consummation of one age that is followed immediately by another.  This was part of the traditional view of the Jews with regard to their Messiah.  The new age that would be called the “kingdom of heaven.”  The existing age was the Jewish dispensation, which was drawing to a close.  This idea was central to the preaching of John the Baptist, who spoke of the time that was “at hand.”[4]

Indeed the analogy of Scripture principle of interpretation and that of the majority of commentaries (Reformed and Evangelical) tie the harvest/judgment of Matthew 3:2-12, Matthew 13:40-43, with that of Christ gathering His elect at His coming at the “end of the age” in Matthew 24:3-31. This of course begs the question as to which is a more “orthodox” and exegetical interpretation to embrace in these texts–preterism or futurism? In the above quotes Gentry in Matthew 24:3 and Matthew 3:10-12 along with Sproul, seem to take these passages to be clearly teaching that the end of the age happened in AD 70. But let’s now examine where Gentry’s “eschatological schizophrenia” sets in.     

In the same debate with Thomas Ice, Gentry writes,

“In these questions we sense once again the bewilderment among the disciples at Jesus’ teaching—a bewilderment such as is seen elsewhere in Matthew, as in their confusion about the “leaven of the Pharisees” (16:6-12), Christ’s death (vv. 21-23), the purpose of the Transfiguration (17:4-5), Christ’s interest in children (19:13-15), and the nature of kingdom service (20:20-25).  Quite clearly Christ divides their question into two episodes in His answer:  (1) He speaks about the coming Great Tribulation resulting in the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in A.D. 70 (24:4-34, which is in “this generation,” v. 34); and (2) His distant future second coming at the end of history (24:36-25:46, which is after a “long time,” 25:19).”[5]

It is important for Gentry to assume the disciples were “bewildered” so that Gentry (like all futurists) can eisegetically slip in the concept that the discourse has something to do about a coming of Christ to end the planet. Gentry has sought to clarify what he meant by the disciples “bewilderment” and their alleged false assumption of the “end of the age in Matthew 24:3 by writing to me,

“I hold that the disciples assumed (wrongly) the destruction of the temple would mean the end of the world.


Philo assumed its perpetual endurance: “The temple has for its revenues not only portions of land, but also other possessions of much greater extent and importance, which will never be destroyed or diminished; for as long as the race of mankind shall last, the revenues likewise of the temple will always be preserved, being coeval in their duration with the universal world” (Spec. 1:76).

Josephus records that the Jews “put your trust in the walls of Jerusalem” (J.W. 2:16:4 [378] LCL).”[6]

Yet, once again, Sproul claims to assume that the disciples were asking a question grounded in making a “false assumption” that the temples destruction—end of the age—and coming of the Son of man, were not apart of the same eschatological event, is simply not a hermeneutical distinctive of either partial or full preterism,

“Calvin regarded as erroneous the disciples’ assumption that the destruction of Jerusalem would coincide with the coming of Christ and the end of the world.  This means that Jesus was answering a question that contained false assumptions.  The preterist view of J. Stuart Russell differs sharply from the view of Calvin.  Russell argues that the disciples’ assumption was correct – with one crucial qualifier:  the disciples were asking not about the end of the world, but abut the end of the age.  This distinction is critical not only to Russell, but to virtually all preterists.  The end in view is not the end of all time but the end of the Jewish age.”[7]

Indeed, it is not a disagreement that only made by full preterists, but partial preterists as well. A postmillennial partial preterist colleague of Gentry’s, Gary DeMar writes,

“The disciples’ question involves three interrelated, contemporary events: (1) the time of the temple’s destruction; (2) the sign that will signal Jesus’ coming related to the destruction of the temple; and (3) the sign they should look for telling them that “the end of the age” has come. These questions are related to the destruction of the temple and the end of the Old Covenant redemptive system and nothing else.”[8] 

Gary correctly develops the context in Matthew’s gospel to support his (and others such as Milton Terry’s) position,

“The “woes” of Matthew 23 and the destruction of the temple and the city of Jerusalem were a result of all that John the Baptist and Jesus had been warning the scribes, Pharisees, and chief priests regarding the judgment that would come upon them if they did not repent“All these things,” Jesus cautioned, “shall come upon this generation” (23:36).  It is after hearing about the desolation of their “house” – the temple – that the disciples ask about the “temple buildings” (24:1).  Jesus answered the disciples’ questions relating to the time and signs of Jerusalem’s destruction, always with the background of Matthew 23 in view, since His comments in that chapter had precipitated the questions (24:3).  The Old Covenant order would end with the destruction of Jerusalem.  This would be the “sign” of the “end of the age,” the end of the Old Covenant, and the consummation of the New Covenant.”[9]

Unfortunately, Gary in his Last Days Madness book avoids any exegetical interaction of Jesus’ discussion about the end of “this age” in Matthew 13 and how this phrase is exegetically and contextually tied into the flow of Matthew’s gospel with that of Matthew 3 and 24. He does however concede that “The end of the age” is a covenantal phrase.”[10] I think Gary saw the lights of the imminent resurrection train coming and would therefore just avoided this passage altogether. However, as we will see later in our discussion of the resurrection of Daniel 12, Gary does publish and endorse (to some extent), James Jordan’s view that this resurrection closed the end of the Old Covenant age in AD 70.

But what about those passages that Gentry referenced to somehow prove that the disciples were allegedly confused in associating the temples destruction with the end of the world? Let’s go over them and see if perhaps they end up “proving too much” and in fact make our case.

The first text Gentry cites is (Mt. 16:6-12) where the disciples were confused over the “leaven of the Pharisees.”  The text clearly states that they didn’t understand and thought Jesus was talking about literal bread (v.7) and then Jesus rebukes and corrects them (vss.8-11).  From there Matthew tells us that they then understood (v.12) “then they understood.”  So on the first “proof text,” it only proves our case in that when the disciples are confused about something Matthew explicitly states it! 

The second text Gentry cites is (Mt. 16:21-23) where the disciples are confused over Jesus’ statements of His impending crucifixion.  The text clearly explains this confussion in the words of Peter trying to correct Jesus and then the following rebuke of Jesus (vss.22-23).  Again, where there is confusion or error Matthew clearly points it out.

The third text Gentry cites is (Mt.17:4-5) concerning the disciples confusion over the transfiguration.  Again, the text states their error of seeking to pitch tents for Moses and Elijah because the Father rebukes them (v.5).  The first part of the disciples confusion was in their seeking the abiding (“let’s make tents”) of the glory of the Old Covenant (Moses = law & Elijah = the prophets) with the EVERLASTING New Covenant (Jesus = NC), (cf. Also 2 Cor. 3 & 4; Mt. 24:35).  The second thing they were confused on was why Jesus didn’t want them to speak of the vision (vss.9-10)?  After all wasn’t Elijah coming in the vision a fulfillment of prophecy they asked (v.10)?  Jesus corrects their understanding of this by pointing out that Elijah’s prophecy had already been fulfilled in John (vss.11-12).  Then Matthew as a responsible narrator clearly tells us the readers, that then they “understood” (v.13).

The fourth text that Gentry gives is the disciples being rebuked by Jesus because they were rebuking those who were brining children to Him (Mt. 19:13-15).  Jesus rebuking them makes it clear in the text that the disciples were in error and then He instructs them on the kingdom using the children.   

The fifth example Gentry gives is that of the disciples understanding of being great in the kingdom (Mt. 20:20-25).  Jesus clearly states, “You do not know what you are asking,” (v.22).  Then He proceeds to instruct them that there can be no crown in the kingdom without suffering first (vss.22-23).  Then He follows this with instruction on humility (vss. 24-27). 

To conclude these “examples” in Matthew’s gospel we are forced to a much different conclusion than Gentry.  For in each of these cases Gentry cites, Matthew is a very responsible narrator and explains when there is confusion on the part of the disciples and when there isn’t.  When we come to the one question broken down in three parts in Matthew 24:3 there is no hint at all from Matthew that the disciples were confused let alone Jesus “correcting them” or “ignoring” them as John MacArthur has eisegetically claimed.  At this point Gentry is just as much of an irresponsible “exegete” as MacArthur, Ice and others who have read their  personal creedal confusion of the second coming into the Olivet Discourse.  We should however thank Mr. Gentry for taking the time to cite these passages that explain when the disciples were confused, for in doing so Gentry has proven too much and made our point—according to Matthew’s gospel if the disciples were confused in the Olivet discourse Matthew would have pointed it out to his readers as he does everywhere else – selah.  Gentry also fails to address the very clear statement that the disciples did in fact understand Jesus’ teaching on the “end of the age” in Matthew 13:51 – oops.

The other issue here demonstrating that the Olivet discourse is not about the passing of the literal planet (contrary to Gentry’s eisegetical claims), has to do with how the Jews understood the temple and their land to be “heaven and earth” (Mt. 24:35).   I too would reference Philo and Josephus in a different context than Gentry has, that is, in their understanding of how the literal temple represented the “heavens and earth.” For example Josephus writes,

“However, this proportion of the measures of the tabernacle proved to be an imitation of the system of the world: for that third part thereof which was within the four pillars, to which the priests were not admitted, is, as it were, a Heaven peculiar to God…”[11]


“When Moses distinguished the tabernacle into three parts, and allowed two of them to the priests as a place accessible to the common, he denoted the land and the sea, these being of general access to all; but he set apart the third division for God, because heaven is inaccessible to men.”[12]

Reformed and Evangelical theologians are finally seeing a grammatical/historical connection between the “heaven and earth” and the literal temple. For example G.K. Beale concedes,

“…that ‘heaven and earth’ in the Old Testament may sometimes be a way of referring to Jerusalem or its temple, for which ‘Jerusalem’ is a metonymy.” [13]

And I especially like Crispin H.T. Fletcher-Louis on Mark 13:31,

“The temple was far more than the point at which heaven and earth met. Rather, it was thought to correspond to, represent, or, in some sense, to be ‘heaven and earth’ in its totality”[14]

Indeed the temple was set forth as a creation of heaven and earth: 

 
Day
Creation
Tabernacle
Day 1

Heavens are stretched out like a curtain (Ps. 104:2)

Tent (Exod.26:7)
Day 2
Firmament (Gen. 1:2)
Temple veil (Exod.26:33)
Day 3
Waters below firmament
Laver or bronze sea (Exod. 30:18)
Day 4
Lights (Gen.1:14)
Light stand (Exod. 25:31)
Day 5
Birds (Gen. 1:20)
Winged cherubim (Exod. 25:20)
Day 6
Man (Gen. 1:27)
Aaron the high priest (Exod. 28:1)
Day 7
Cessation (Gen. 2:1)
Blessing (Gen. 2:3)
Completion (Gen.2:2)
Cessation (Exod. 39:32)
Mosaic blessing (Exod. 39:43
Completion (Exod. 39:43)[15]
 
 

To interpret Jesus’ words in Matthew 24:35 as a reference to the temple, fits within the immediate context of the destruction of the temple and offers a much better grammatical/historically approach to interpreting the Olivet discourse than Gentry’s position.

For the sake of being thorough, lets take a look at Gentry’s quote of Philo again and address the eternal “revenues” of the temple, “Philo assumed its perpetual endurance: “The temple has for its revenues not only portions of land, but also other possessions of much greater extent and importance, which will never be destroyed or diminished; for as long as the race of mankind shall last, the revenues likewise of the temple will always be preserved, being coeval in their duration with the universal world” (Spec. 1:76).” Like Josephus,  Philo was correct to see the literal temple as a creation representing “heaven and earth,” but was sadly mistaken in his understanding that the OT prophets predicted that the “revenues” of the coming New Covenant temple were literal and that a literal temple would stand forever upon the earth. In light of the inspired NT teachings concerning the Messianic New Covenant temple, we understand the “revenues” of men beautifying the temple not as literal riches, but with the riches or glory of their purified faith (Jew and Gentile) and fruits of the Spirit which is produced by God Himself and who in return glorifies the believer with the splendor and righteousness of Christ (Haggai 2:7-9; Isaiah 60-66; 1 Peter 1:7, 2:4-5; Revelation 21-22:17). 

Before leaving Matthew 24, I wanted to briefly address the allegedly “clear” two sections argument of Gentry,

“Quite clearly Christ divides their question into two episodes in His answer:  (1) He speaks about the coming Great Tribulation resulting in the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in A.D. 70 (24:4-34, which is in “this generation,” v. 34); and (2) His distant future second coming at the end of history (24:36-25:46, which is after a “long time,” 25:19).”[16]

It can’t be that “clear” if Gentry can’t even persuade friend and fellow postmillennial partial preterist Gary DeMar, who contextually rebuts his interpretation,

“In every other New Testament context, “a long time” means nothing more than an extended period of time (Luke 8:27; 23:8; John 5:6; Acts 8:11; 14:3, 28; 26:5 29; 27:21; 28:6). Nowhere does it mean centuries or multiple generations.”[17]

In every parable in Matthew 24:43-25:30 Jesus as the Thief, Master, or Bridegroom returns within the lifetime of the individual’s in the story. So a “long time” in this context for the Master to return home for example, may be a year or two. There is no exegetical evidence that would support Gentry’s claim that this is a 2000 + years “long time” of Christ’s return. The Olivet Discourse is laid out with recapitulation and so this alleged “second section” is in actuality still one united teaching fitting within Jesus’ “this generation” time frame of His return.     

Gentry’s confusion on the resurrection and judgment of Daniel 12:2-3/Matthew 13 and the analogy of Scripture

I am not sure if Gentry has this in print anywhere, but in answering my question on the timing of the resurrection in Daniel 12:2-3, 7, Gentry concedes,

“Dan 12 sees the “resurrection” of Israel in the birth of the Christian Church, which is the New Israel. Thus, it bears similarities with Eze 37 and the resurrection of the dry bones of Israel.”

Dan 12 is not dealing with bodily resurrection but national resurrection (as does Eze 37). Dan 12 sees the “resurrection” of Israel in the birth of the Christian Church, which is the New Israel. Thus, it bears similiarities with Eze 37 and the resurrection of the dry bones of Israel.”[18]

This is practically the same view taken by James Jordan in his recent commentary on Daniel. Here are some good excerpts from this excellent commentary,

“The death of the Church in the Great Tribulation, and her resurrection after that event, were the great proof that Jesus had accomplished the work He came to do. The fact that the Church exists today, nearly 2000 years after her death in the Great Tribulation, is the ongoing vindication of Jesus work.”[19]

“Revelation takes up where Daniel leaves off, and deals mostly with the Apostolic Age and the death and resurrection of the Church.”[20]

“What Daniel is promised is that after his rest in Abraham’s bosom, he will stand up with all God’s saints and join Michael on a throne in heaven, as described in Revelation 20, an event that came after the Great Tribulation and in the year AD 70.[21]

We of course agree that Daniel 12:2-3 is addressing the national or corporate body resurrection of the Church as it was in the process of being raised out from the persecutions and the dying corpse of Old Covenant Israel and the Adamic body of sin, death, and thus the Old Covenant “the law” by AD 70 (Matthew 21:43/1 Peter 1:9, 4:5-7; Matthew 24:28; Ezk. 37/John 5:24-30; Romans 5-8, 11:15-25; 1 Cor. 15:54-55). 

Gentry, however has been silent in answering my followed-up question which arises from his (new?) interpretation of Daniel 12:2-3. That being, how does he now interpret the parables of the sower and that of the wheat and the tares in Matthew 13:1-29; 24-43? Reformed theologian and Pastor Peter Leithart has conceded that the end of the age in Matthew 13 is a reference to the end of the Old Covenant age in AD 70,

“Jesus parable of the tares has been interpreted for centuries as a parable about the church age, but it makes much better sense as a parable about the parabolic description of the post-exilic history of Israel.  With the return from exile, Yahweh sowed the land with the seed of man and beast, but since that time Satan has been busy sowing tares among the wheat.  Jesus has now come with His winnowing fork, and before the end of the age, the wheat and tares will be separated.  The end of the age thus refers not to the final judgment but to the close of “this generation.”[22]                         

Jordan connects the resurrection of Daniel 12:2 as an “evangelistic” resurrection which took place in our world tying it to the Parable of the Soils,

“…The Parable of the Soils fits here (Matthew 13:3-23): three different kinds of people come to life, but only one of the three kinds is awakened to persevering, everlasting life.

     During His ministry, Jesus raised the nation back to life. He healed the sick, cleansed the unclean, brought dead people back to life, restored the Law, enterend the Temple as King, etc.”

     “Thus, a resurrection of Israel is in view. The wicked are raised, but do not profit from it, and are destroyed. The saints experience a great distress, and live with God forever and ever.”[23]         

One of the things I like about Jordan’s interpretation of Daniel 12:2-3/Matthew 13, is that it supports our view of an “already and not yet” with the present and progressive tense being used of the death “being destroyed” and the corporate seed/body of the Church “being raised” in 1 Corinthians 15. The gospel and Israel were being sown in the Old Covenant world of Israel/Roman Empire and Her glorious transformation would soon be completed within the lifetime of the first century Corinthian Church (2 Cor. 3/1Cor. 15).[24] The wheat and the tares were growing side by side as their hearts and minds were reacting to the gospel of Jesus Christ as it was being thrown out among the Land of Israel and the Roman Empire. One group was being transformed into the resurrection image of Christ and was ready to bring forth fruit at the end of the Old Covenant age/harvest in AD 70. The other group became so hardened that they sought to persecute and destroy God’s people only to be raised to “everlasting condemnation” and thrown into the lake of fire. 

Another hermeneutical issue which Gentry and Jordan fail to address is that Daniel 12:2-3 is not the only corporate body or national (cf. Ezk. 37) resurrection text in the OT referenced in the NT. Jesus and Paul reference Isaiah 25, Isaiah 28, and Hosea 13 in Matthew 24 and 1 Corinthians 15 concerning the description of the resurrection as a trumpet “gathering” or “change.” The “death” in these contexts is a spiritual-corporate-covenantal death for Israel as She violated “the [Mosaic] Law/Torah and thus she is banished (cf. Deut. 28) from Her land and exiled into death and “sown” and buried in the soil of the Gentile nations (same kind of national resurrection as Ezk. 37 of which Gentry cites). Once again Gentry has some problems with the consistency or lack thereof with his partial preterist hermeneutics.                 

Gentry, has no choice but to agree with Leithart and Jordan that the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 took place by AD 70. Why? Because Jesus references Daniel’s resurrection in Matthew 13:43 and states that this harvest/judgment/resurrection will take place at the end of His (Old Covenant) “this age” (v. 40 NKJV). It sounds as if Gentry may be getting a call from Gary North who states of those taking a preterist interpretation of Matthew 13 and the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares, “Anyone who equates the fulfillment of [the parable of he wheat and the tares] with A.D. 70 has broken with the historic faith of the church.” How can Gentry answer this charge of “breaking from the historic faith of the Church” and associating with Jordan and Leihart who very clearly do? Perhaps with a 2000 + years of an “already” and “not yet” eschatology: one for Israel and one for the Church? The problem for Mr. Gentry is that the text clearly defines the “not yet” to be closed at the end of the Old Covenant age and not the Church age which is described as having no end (cf. Ephs. 3:20-21). Since Gentry wants to reference historical sources, we should remind him that the Jews of Jesus’ day clearly understood the phrase “this age” to be a reference to the Old Covenant Mosaic age of the Law and the “age about to come” as the New Covenant Messianic age. So the “birth” of the Church takes place after the harvest/judgment/resurrection of the Old Covenant age in AD 70 – selah. 

The other problem here is that postmillennialists posit the growth of the wheat and tares to be a description of the Church age which is equivalent to the millennium period of Revelation 20. Therefore, the “not yet” period which closes the millennium of Revelation 20 is the “soon” Second Coming of Jesus to raise the dead at the end of the Old Covenant age in AD 70! Jordan is correct in that Daniel’s soul/spirit came out from Abraham’s Bosom to be raised to everlasting life and the living were changed or raised with an evangelistic resurrection which placed both groups into union with Christ and thus made them a glorified New Covenant Body/Temple/Creation. 

It is my proposition that the phrase “end of the age” means the same thing throughout the gospel of Mathew – chapters 13, 24, and 28:18-20. Gentry, Jordan, and Leithart are forced to arbitrarily pick and choose. If they claim the “end of the age” in Matthew 28:18-20 is the end of the world or NC age, then they have: 1) created two great commissions – one brings an end to the OC age (Mt. 13 & 24) and another allegedly brings an end to the NC one (Mt. 28); and 2) they need to explain how the charismatic gifts are not for today in order to help carry out the second great commission which allegedly lasts until the end of the world (Matthew 28:18-20/MARK 16:15-18).  

The chart below refutes Gentry’s view that the NT describes 2 Great Commissions with only one being fulfilled by AD 70:

PROPHECY            FULFILLMENT

“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world (Greek oikumene) for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:14)

“But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed:

‘Their sound has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world (Greek oikumene)” (Romans 10:18)

“And the gospel must first be published among all nations (Greek ethnos)” “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, (Greek ethnos)…” “…I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.” (Mark 13:10; Mt.28:19-20)

“…My gospel… has been made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures has been made known to all nations (Greek ethnos)…” (Romans 16:25-26)

“And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world(Greek kosmos) and preach the gospel to every creature” “…And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues (Greek glossa) (Mark 16:15, 17)

 

“…of the gospel, which has come to you, as it has also in all the world(Greek kosmos), as is bringing forth fruit…,” (Colossians 1:5-6).

And he said unto them ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature (Greek kitisis) “ (Mark 16:15)

“…from the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature (Greek kitisis) under heaven, of which I, Paul became a minister” (Colossians 1:23)

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth/land (Greek ge)” (Acts 1:8).

Prophecy had begun to be fulfilled: “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues (Greek glossa), as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation (Greek ethnos) under heaven.

 
 
 
 
 
 

“But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed: ‘Their sound has gone out to all the earth/land (Greek ge), and their words to the ends of the world” (Romans 10:18) 

 

Prophecy would be fulfilled “shortly” : “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth/land (Greek ge), and to every nation (Geek ethnos), and kindred (Greek phule) and tongue (Greek glossa), and people, (Greek laos)” (Rev.1:1; Rev.14:6). See also Revelation 10:6-7; 20:3; 22:10-11 in regards to the Great Commission success to the “nations” and imminent fulfillment of the Great Commission motif.

 
 

  

The harvest/resurrection/ judgment of the dead which brings God’s people into the new creation is identified in Revelation 7, 11, 14 and 20 and is identified as being fulfilled “soon” and “shortly” through an imminent tribulation and Second Coming of Jesus. The amillennial view is correct to link the recapitulation structure of the harvest/judgment/resurrection of Revelation 7, 11, 14, with that of chapter 20. We agree and this is what Simon Kistemaker has done in WSTTB and in his commentary on the book of Revelation along with G.K. Beale’s observations on recapitulation in Revelation on these texts.  Gentry rejects this very clear hermeneutical approach and amillennialists such as Kistemaker and Beale reject the common sense approach that the time texts “demand” (Gentry’s word) a AD 70 fulfillment which cannot be double fulfilled! Gentry rejects the recapitulation of the judgment and resurrection of the dead in Revelation with that of chapter 20 and also denies the common sense point that the seventh and last trumpet of chapter 11 for the dead is equivalent to that of the trumpet blasts in 1 Corinthians 15 and 1 Thessalonians 4!

There simply is no 2000 + years-and-counting “not yet” resurrection taught in the NT. We affirm with Gentry and DeMar that the NT time texts “demand” a preterist interpretation and there can be no “double fulfilling” of the Olivet discourse or the book of Revelation post AD 70. However, the problem for these men arises when it becomes apparent that the NT authors clearly foretold an imminent first century “not yet” resurrection (Acts 17:31YLT, 24:15, 25YLT; Romans 8:18YLT/WEY). Commenting on the imminent resurrection of Acts 24:15 Sam Frost writes,

“There, the Greek ‘mellein esesthai’ is rendered “about to be”. The two verbs, respectively, are present infinitive active and future infinitive middle (deponent). We only find this particular construction in Luke’s Acts of the Apostles three times. The other two spots are Acts 11.28 and 27.10. The first is Agabus’ prediction about the coming famine. Certainly something “about to happen” (and did). The final verse is Paul, while on the boat, predicted that their voyage was “about to” end in disaster. Certainly something on the horizon.

This construction occurs three times in Acts only. Two times is clearly of events “about to happen” in terms of time. One passage, because it deals with the resurrection (24.15) is not. I have yet to hear any sound answer to what appears to me as arbitrary exegesis on the basis of assumptions. I have studied all occurences of “mello” in the LXX, the GNT, and the Apos. Fathers. It is a word that sharpens the vague future indicative. It adds to it the certainty of the event from the standpoint of the speaker (hence, it is often translated “certain”). The event in question is certain because it will most certainly happen within the near time of the speaker, without doubt. That is the way this word is used, and particularly this unique construction in Acts. Therefore, I can exegetically conclude that the “resurrection of the just and the unjust” laid for certain in the time of Paul as something that would take place within his own lifetime, and that he based that certainty upon the source that he based all of his assuredness: “the Holy Spirit speaking through the Scriptures” (Westminster Confession).”

And to confirm Sam’s support of the Young’s Literal Translation of mello in these passages, we need only to quote Gentry himself who supports that imminence should be the primary meaning in Revelation,

“Nevertheless, when used with the aorist infinitive — as in Revelation 1:19 — the word’s preponderate usage and preferred meaning is: “be on the point of, be about to.” The same is true when the word is used with the present infinitive, as in Rev. 3:10. The basic meaning in both Thayer and Abbott-Smith is “to be about to.” Mello wit h the infinitive expresses imminence (like the future).”[25]

One of these texts I cited in Acts uses the same Greek construction that Gentry admits (above) should be translated to communicate imminence and not just certainty! Gentry is not interested in using the analogy of Scripture when it comes to the timing of the resurrection. So let’s explore some more “Scripture interprets Scripture” problems that Gentry’s partial preterism creates.   

Gentry’s confusion on the analogy of Scripture

The majority of Reformed and Evangelical commentaries (along with Reformed Study Bibles), affirm that the resurrection mentioned in Daniel 12:2-3 and Matthew 13 are addressing the final eschatological resurrection. Virtually all of the Reformed co-authors with Gentry in their book Seeking to refute us in, WHEN SHALL THESE THINGS BE? A REFORMED RESPONSE TO HYPER-PRETERISM state clearly that these texts are dealing with the final resurrection (WSTTB, 97n.81, 161, 188, 244, 295, 297). In fact most commentaries align the final resurrection and judgment of Daniel 12 and Matthew 13 with that of Christ’s parousia and “end” in 1 Corinthians 15. 

Most of the Reformed community and most definitely creedal statements and confessions of faith disagree with Gentry’s partial preterist interpretation that Christ’s coming in Matthew 24:27-31 took place in AD 70. According to Chuck Hill, Gentry’s co-author, Gentry violates The Didache, which he states is the “manual of church teachings” and thus Matthew 24:30-31 is a reference to the “unmistakable last coming of the Son of Man” (WSTTB, 72)? Another author Richard Pratt, in the SPIRIT OF THE REFORMATION STUDY BIBLE of which he is the general editor, correctly identifies the coming of Jesus to gather the elect in Matthew 24:30-31 with Matthew 13:41; 16:27; 25:31; 1 Co 15:52; 1 Th 4:14-17 and states this passage is “…a reference to Christ’s final coming in judgment.”  

Matthew 24-25/Luke 21 & Matthew 13 Parallels

1)      Evangelism in the world takes place (Mt. 24:14/Mt. 13:38).

2)      There is persecution, tribulation, apostasy, & faithfulness (Mt. 24:9-13/Mt. 13:19-30).

3)      The subject is the growth and reception of the kingdom at which time the judgment at the “end of the age” takes place (Lk. 21:31-32/Mt. 13:43; Mt. 24:3/Mt. 13:40). 

4)      The Son of Man comes with His angels to gather the sheep/wheat into His barn/kingdom and the wicked goats/tares are gathered and thrown into the fire and burned (Mt. 24:30-31, 25:31-41/Mt. 13:39-42).

5)      Christ’s coming is most likely described as the sun or bright light coming for the east to the west whose bright light/glory and heat burn up the wicked tares while at the same time giving light/glory to His elect fruitful trees producing fruit and redemption (Mt. 24:27= Lk. 21:27-28/Mt. 13:6).[26]    

Matthew 24-25/Luke 21 & 1 Corinthians 15 Parallels

1)      Christ’s coming/parousia and trumpet call (Mt. 24:27, 31/1 Cor. 15:23, 52).

2)      This is the time of the “end” (Mt. 24:3, 14/1 Cor. 15:24).

3)      At this time God judges His enemies (Mt. 21:43à22:41-44à24-25/1 Cor. 15:24-28).

4)      This is the time for inheriting the kingdom (Lk. 21:31-32/1 Cor. 15:24).

5)      This is the time for God’s final redemption when the sin, the death, and the Law are destroyed for God’s people (Lk. 21:27-28/1 Cor. 15:23, . The temples destruction =’s the death being swallowed up in victory over “the [Mosaic Torah] Law” (1 Cor. 15:55-56/Dan. 12:7).

Matthew 24 & 1 Thessalonians 4-5 Parallels

And probably the clearest parallels can be found between Matthew 24 and 1 Thessalonians 4-5. G.K. Beale correctly writes,

“…4:15-17 describe generally the same end-time scenario as 5:1-10. Specifically, Paul narrates the resurrection at the end of the age and then recapitulates in chapter 5 by speaking about the timing of this event and about the judgment on unbelievers, which will happen at the same time. That both 4:15-18 and 5:1-11 explain the same events is discernible from observing that both passages actually form one continuous depiction of the same narrative in Matthew 24, as apparent from the chart…”

1 Thessalonians
Matthew
 
Christ returns
4:16
24:30
From heaven
4:16
24:30
Accompanied by angels
4:16
24:31
With a trumpet of God
4:16
24:31

Believers gathered to Christ

4:17
24:31, 40-41
In clouds
4:17
24:30
Time unknown
5:1-2
24:36
Coming like a thief
5:2
24:43

Unbelievers unaware of impending judgment

5:3
24:8

Judgment comes as pain upon an expectant mother

5:3
24:8
Believers not deceived
5:4-5
24:43

Believers to be watchful

5:6
24:37-39

Warning against drunkenness

5:7
24:49[27]
 

It is more than difficult to know how men like Gentry, North, DeMar, Jordan, Leithart, Sproul, etc. can stick their heads in the sand when these two passages are laid side by side and when Paul specifically tells us that he is getting his teaching from “the word of the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:15). But ignoring the Westminster Confession of Faith’s exhortation to allow Scripture to interpret Scripture and that the confession itself could be wrong, Gentry feels his confession and creed must be “infallibly certain” (WSTTB, 44) here because the subject is the resurrection. Yet again, the Westminster Confession of Faith states that the coming of Christ and redemption of Luke 21:27-28 and Romans 8:18-23 are parallel references to the Second Coming and final redemption/resurrection for the Church. Yet Gentry arbitrarily claims Luke 21:27-28 happened within Jesus’ “this generation” in AD 70 and yet ignores that as that generation was ending the glory and redemption of Romans 8:18-23YLT was “about to be revealed” “in” them in Paul’s day!

Romans 8

Olivet Discourse & Luke 17

Present sufferings (vss.17-18)
Suffering to come (Mt.24:9)

Were “about to” receive & share in Christ’s glory (vss.17-18)

Christ comes in glory (Mt.24:30)

Glory will be “in” them (vs.18)

Kingdom will be realized “within” at Christ’s return (Lk.17:21-37/Lk.21:27-32)

Redemption & salvation – resurrection (vss.23-24; cf. 11:15-27; 13:11-12)

Redemption & salvation – resurrection (Lk.21:27-28; Mt.24:13, 30-31)

Pains of childbirth (vs.22)

Birth pains of the tribulation (Mt.24:8)

This was “about to” take place (vs.18)

This would all happen in their “this generation” (Mt.24:34)

 

Gentry breaks the Nicene Creed when it states that, “And He will come again with glory…” citing (Matthew 24:30-35) and DeMar violates it doubly when it also cites (Matthew 25:31) of which he also applies to Christ’s return in AD 70. The Nicene Creed states, “And we look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come” citing (Revelation 21:1-17) which Gentry believes came in AD 70 and which we are currently in. Mr. Gentry arbitrarily claims which creedal statements are “infallibly certain” on eschatological matters and which are not. The Nicene Creed and Westminster Confession of Faith weren’t “infallibly certain” on Matthew 24:27-31/Luke 21:27-28, Revelation 22:1-20, nor in the Reformed creeds which state that the Pope is the Anti-Christ—per Gentry! Who is to say that the organic Body of the Church cannot modify the Creeds and Confessions more in the areas of the timing and nature of the Second Coming and resurrection?      

Conclusion

We have examined Gentry’s assumption that the disciples were “bewildered” into associating the temples destruction with the Second Coming and end of the age/world. His “proof texts” for making this point only ended up making ours. 

There are a lot of hermeneutical questions that Jordan, Leithart, and Gentry leave open in their interpretations of the resurrection /judgment/harvest that they claim took place in AD 70 referencing Daniel 12:2-3/Mt. 13:40-43. If they can use Daniel 12:2-3 as a national-corporate-covenantal resurrection for Israel in AD 70 (using Ezk. 37 as their guide), then there is no exegetical or hermeneutical reason why we can’t do the same in allowing Ezk. 37 to interpret the coming out of the graves in John 5 as spiritual and happening in AD 70, or allowing Isaiah 25-28 and Hosea 13 to teach a national-corporate-covenantal resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15—selah.   

Obviously there is a serious problem and “house divided” among Reformed and Evangelical theologians in the area of eschatology. Some of the authors of WSTTB and within the Reformed community in general, claim that the Church is currently in the new heavens and earth or the “age to come” which historically the creeds and confessions have denied as stated above by the Nicene Creed. Many such as John Owen, John Lightfoot, John Brown, David Chilton, Peter Leithart, R.C. Sproul, and Gary DeMar (to list just a few), contradict the Westminister Confession of Faith and believe that 2 Peter 3 was fulfilled in AD 70. Gary DeMar and Keith Mathison contradict most of the Westminister Confession of Faith’s proof texts for a future judgment and coming of Jesus in 1 and 2 Thessalonians and apply all of them (except 1 Thessalonians 4) to AD 70. Some Reformed theologians claim we are still in the “last days” and others claim the “last days” as described in the Old and New Testaments are in fact describing the end of the Old Covenant age and economy in AD 70 and have no reference whatsoever to the end of the New Covenant age. Some claim the NT is teaching only one Second Coming while others claim there are two redemptive comings of Jesus. Some teach there are two “ends” and “ages” (one for Israel in AD 70 & one for the end of time), while others see the terms as always describing the end of time and world history. Some like Gentry claim the NT is teaching in effect two Great Commissions and others only one. J.I. Packer understands that to NOT believe in a fleshly/physical resurrection of our corpses at Christ’s parousia is “scholarly” approach and well within the “main stream of resurrection faith,”[28] while others would damn us to hell. The list could go on!

The Biblical preterist position unites and synthesizes the two sides of the divided house of Reformed eschatology and allows the Scripture to interpret itself. In so doing we offer an organic and Creedal approach to the Churches understanding of Christ’s return and the judgment and resurrection of the dead. In the end our view is purely founded upon the exegesis of Reformed theology and honors its battle cries and practices of “Sola Scriptura” and “Semper Reformanda.” We sincerely hope that Mr. Gentry will join us in our vision to bring together the Reformed community in the area of eschatology instead of selling books/debates that only serve to further polarize them—selah.           



[1] Kenneth L. Gentry and Thomas Ice, THE GREAT TRIBULATION PAST OR FUTURE?, (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1999) 58 (emphasis added).

[2] Ibid., 63, (emphasis added).

[3] Ibid., 18.

[4] R.C. Sproul, The Last Days According To Jesus (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1998), 73-74 (emphasis added).

[5] Ibid., 26, (emphasis added).

[6] This answer was taken off of Gentry’s facebook. Com page: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/photo.php?pid=52050&id=1668525845&ref=nf 

[7] Sproul, Ibid., 32 (emphasis added).

[8] Gary DeMar, Last Days Madness Obsession of the Modern Church, (Powder Springs GA: American Vision, 1999), 68.

[9] Ibid., 37 of the 1994 edition. 

[10] Ibid., 70 in the 1999 edition.

[11] Josephus, The Antiquities of the Jews, The Works of Josephus, p.87, Book 3, Chapter 6, Par. 4, Section 123, Hendrickson pub. 1987, (emphasis added).

[12] Josephus, ibid, p.90, Book 3, Chapter 7, Par.7, Section 181, (emphasis added).  

[13] G.K. Beale, The Temple and the Church’s Mission A biblical theology of the dwelling place of God, (Downers Grove, Illinois: Inter Varsity Press, 2004), 25. J.V. Fesko, Last things first Unlocking Genesis 1-3 with the Christ of Eschatology, (Scottland, UK, 2007), 70.

[14] Crispin H.T. Fletcher-Louis a contributing author in, ESCHATOLOGY in Bible & Theology Evangelical Essays at the Dawn of a New Millennium, (Downers Grove, Illinois: Inter Varsity Press, 1997), 157.

[15] J.V. Fesko, Last things first Unlocking Genesis 1-3 with the Christ of Eschatology, (Scottland, UK, 2007), 70.

[16] Gentry, Tribulation, Ibid., 26.

[17] DeMar, Last Days, Ibid., 1999, 199. Gary does an excellent job in pages 190-201 refuting other partial preterist arguments that claim the discourse is divided up into two different comings of Jesus separating by thousands of years . Those pages alone are worth the price of the book! 

[18] This answer was taken off of Gentry’s facebook. Com page: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/photo.php?pid=52050&id=1668525845&ref=nf 

[19] James B. Jordan, THE HANDWRITING ON THE WALL A Commentary on the Book of Daniel, (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision, 2007), 620.

[20] Ibid., 621.

[21] Ibid. 628.

[22] Peter J. Leithart, THE PROMISE OF IS APPEARING AN EXPOSITION OF SECOND PETER, (Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 2004), 95.

[23] Jordan, Ibid., 618.

[24] See my article entitled, Eschatology In 1 Corinthians or some of Sam Frost’s articles on TLM on 1 Corinthians 15 which cover the present tense and corporate body view of the resurrection. 

[25] Kenneth L. Gentry, Before Jerusalem Fell Dating the Book of Revelation, (Tyler, TX: ICE, 1989, 140-141.

[27] G.K. Beale, THE IVP NEW TESTAMENT COMMENTARY SERIES 1-2 Thessalonians, (Downers Grove, Illinois: Iinter Varsity Press, 2003), 136-137. It may be possible to translate the “bright light” of astrape as referring to the “sun” coming from the east and shining to the west in Mt. 24:27 and not “lightning.” If so another parallel can be made of Mt.  24:27 with the return of Christ being associated with the “Day” “daylight” and being “sons of the Day” in 1Thess. 5:1-8.

[28] See J.I. Packer’s endorsement on back cover of Murray J. Harris, FROM GRAVE TO GLORY RESURRECTION IN THE NEW TESTAMENT, (Grand Rapids, MI: Academie Zondervan, 1990)

  

 

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