Postmillennial Division Theories of Matthew 24-25 Refuted by Other Postmillennialists – The Eschatological Schizophrenia/ Madness or “House Divided” of Gentry and DeMar in Matthew 24-25 and Revelation 20:5-15
Heaven and Earth Will Pass Away (Mt. 24:35)
So far we have found contextual and grammatical reasons to interpret the “end of the age” as the OC age in vs. 3, the stars falling from the heavens in vs. 29 to be the religious and civil rulers falling from the places of power when Jerusalem and her Temple system was destroyed in AD 70. But what of verse 35 which addresses the “heaven and earth” passing away? Surely that is referring to the end of planet earth and a “transition” to the physical and final Second Coming event described for us in Matthew 24:35—25:31-46 (per Postmillennialist Kenneth Gentry)? Postmillennialist Keith Mathison used to think this was a transition verse with a different coming of Christ described following it into chapter 25, but he no longer finds any exegetical warrant to Gentry’s eisegesis. Nor does Postmillennialist Gary DeMar.
Jesus is simply stating that although the Temple or “heaven and earth” of the OC system will pass away in His generation, His words (that is the words of the NC heaven and earth system -implied), will “never pass away.”
Scholars that aren’t even Preterists such as G.K. Beale are admitting that the Jew understood his land or Temple to be a “heaven and earth,”
“…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.” (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). See also J.V. Fesko, Last things first Unlocking Genesis 1-3 with the Christ of Eschatology, (Scottland, UK, 2007), 70.
Reformed theologian John Brown in identifying the passing of “heaven and earth” in Matthew 5:18 writes:
“But a person at all familiar with the phraseology of the Old Testament Scriptures, knows that the dissolution of the Mosaic economy, and the establishment of the Christian, is often spoken of as the removing of the old earth and heavens, and the creation of a new earth and new heavens.” (John Brown, Discourses and Sayings of Our Lord (Edinburg: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1990 ), 1:170).
And now specifically of the passing of heaven and earth here in our text, Evangelical Crispin H.T. Fletcher-Louis makes the following comments on Mark 13:31/Matthew 24:35:
“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.” And “. . . [T]he principle reference of “heaven and earth” is the temple centered cosmology of second-temple Judaism which included the belief that the temple is heaven and earth in microcosm. Mark 13[:31] [or Matthew 24:35] and Matthew 5:18 refer then to the destruction of the temple as a passing away of an old cosmology. (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).
Postmillennial Partial Preterists such as Gary DeMar are being exegetical and contextually consistent when they admit that the passing of “heaven and earth” is the same subject and de-creation event as 24:29,
“The darkening of the sun and moon and the falling of the stars, coupled with the shaking of the heavens (24:29), are more descriptive ways of saying that “heaven and earth” will pass away” (24:35).” (Last Days Madness, 192).
Gary is spot on here and remember Matthew 24-25 contains recapitulation so the de-creation of 24:29 is not a different event than 24:35, it is just a slightly different way of describing the same event.
DeMar also accurately connects the passing of “heaven and earth” here with the passing of the heaven and earth in Revelation 21 — with both being the OC system passing in AD 70 and the New taking its place spiritually. This is consistent with DeMar’s view (and that of most scholars) that “The book of Revelation is John’s version of the Olivet Discourse,” therefore both should be seen as the same event guided by the same time frame “this generation” and “things which must shortly take place.”
Unfortunately, DeMar and his assistant Joel McDurmon are more committed to the reformed creeds and their supporters than consistent, contextual exegesis when they then arbitrarily claim the de-creation and “fleeing” (passing) of the “earth” (earth) and “sky” (heaven) in Revelation 20:11 is now out of the blue a literal end of world history event not connected to Revelation 21-22 or the de-creation in the rest of the book of Revelation that they claim was fulfilled in AD 70. I will develop that more in my section of this series in dealing with the Millennium of Revelation 20.
At this point let’s do a brief study on if the OT prophets promised glorified real-estate.
In typological form Israel’s promises were fulfilled during the reign of Solomon. God’s promise to make Abraham a great nation and make his descendants as numerous as “the dust of the earth” and as the stars of the heavens was fulfilled in the OT (Gen. 12:2; 13:16 = 2 Chron. 1:9; 1 Chron. 27:23; 1 Kings 4:11). Even Israel’s land promises “from the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates” were fulfilled (Gen. 12:7; 22:17 = 1 Kings 4:20; Josh. 11:23; 21:41-45; Neh. 9:21-25).
Once we reach the NT we learn that Israel’s promises have their ultimate fulfillment not in the literal land or literal real-estate, but rather in the New Covenant or being “in Christ.” Christ Himself and those united to Him through faith are blessed with Abraham and fulfill the seed promise (Gal. 3:9, 16, 18, 28-29). We also learn that Abraham’s faith in the promise was rooted in a spiritual fulfillment of a heavenly land and city that were “about to” be received at Christ’s “in a very little while” Second Coming to close the OC age (cf. Heb. 9:26-28—10:37—11:10-16—13:14YLT). Even Paul’s statement that believers would inherit “the world” (Rms. 4:13) is understood in context to mean believers (Jew and Gentile) in all nations (Rms. 4:11-12, 16-17).
The heavenly land and city (New Jerusalem) that Abraham looked to for the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promise (along with the prophets promise of a New Creation – Isaiah 65-66) was in the process of coming down in John’s day and “shortly” did at Christ’s “soon” Second Coming in AD 70 (cf. Rev. 1:1, 3:12 NIV—chapters 21:1–22:20). This is not a literal cubed city/tabernacle/MHP that will someday float down to earth, but rather the perfecting of the New Covenant people of God or New Covenant believers (the “Jerusalem from above” – Gals. 4). The coming Tabernacle/Temple of Ezekiel 37, 40-48 is referring to the Body – the Church (Ezek. 37:27=2 Cor. 6:16). Again, the New Creation is not physical real-estate, but rather New Covenant believers (Isa. 65:17 = 2 Cor. 5:17).
The Jew understood his Temple, Land and City to be a “heaven and earth” with the light of Torah radiating from it, while the Gentiles were in utter darkness outside. Once a Gentile converted to the teaching of Torah and believed in Jehovah he entered the land and was declared a “new creation.” This gives the historical context on how Revelation ends the way it does. The Church is the spiritual New Jerusalem / Most Holy Place dwelling of God and a New Heaven and Earth with the light of the Gospel radiating from her bidding the nations to enter her with open gates.
Salvation in the New Heaven and Earth is Complete – No More Death, Tears or Pain.
Because “the death” that came through Adam is spiritual death (alienation from God) realized through the commandment-breaker Adam and amplified or increased under the Law of Moses (the old covenant), we can see how God gave His elect the victory over “the death” in the end of the old covenant age of condemnation. The fact that men die physically is in no way evidence that the “spiritual conflict” of “the death” continues for the church throughout the new covenant age.
God’s people under the old covenant, unlike God’s people today, experienced covenantal and spiritual death (cf. Hosea 13:1–14; Isa. 25–27; Eze. 37). What made physical death dreaded for the saints under the old covenant was that they died with the awareness that their sins had not yet been taken away. In the new covenant creation, Jesus promises that whether we biologically die in Him or biologically live in Him, we “never die” (John 11:25–26). This was not the case before Christ.
Thus under the old covenant, the residents of Jerusalem wept because they did not have a lasting atonement or eternal redemption. They longed and groaned for the day of Messiah’s salvation. Until that day would come, they knew their sins were not put away (Heb. 9:26–28; 10:4, 11). The promise that there would be no more mourning or crying or pain does not refer to any and every kind of mourning, crying, and pain. It refers to mourning, crying, and pain concerning God’s people being dead in sin under the condemnation, curse, and slavery of God’s law. That sad Adamic state is no more. In the Son, God’s people are “free indeed” (Jn. 8:36).
As Athanasius wrote in his Festal Letters, iv. 3, “For when death reigned, ‘sitting down by the rivers of Babylon, we wept,’ and mourned, because we felt the bitterness of captivity; but now that death and the kingdom of the devil is abolished, everything is entirely filled with joy and gladness.”
Under the old covenant, when David or the nation was exiled from Zion and God’s city and temple, there was much inner pain, weeping, and bondage that followed (2 Sam. 15:30; Ps. 137; Isa. 14:3; Isa. 22:4–5; Jer. 9:1; 13:17; Jer. 22:9–10; Lam. 1:16; Joel 2:17). Under the new covenant, the heavenly country and Jerusalem are not subject to being made desolate or shaken by invading armies as was the old (Isa. 62:4; Heb. 12:27–28). The concept of the gates of the New Jerusalem always being open, even at night (Isa. 60:11; Rev. 21:25), is not merely a picture of evangelism; it is also a picture of security for the residents of God’s City. The believer, through faith in Christ, is the new covenant creation and it is impossible for him to be exiled from the City (2 Cor. 5:17; Rev. 3:12; 22:12). The new covenant believer is characterized as one whose weeping has ended, because God has forever taken away his sin and united Himself with him (Isa. 60:20; 65:14, 18–19; Jn. 17:21–23).
Christians in the new covenant world do not shed tears in agony and cry out to God to save them from the Adamic Death of Sin, as Jesus Himself did on our behalf (Heb. 5:7). “The sting [pain] of the Death” cannot harm us anymore (1 Cor. 15:56) because the power of Sin has been removed through Jesus, the Law-Fulfiller who clothes us and indwells us. Now we live and reign with Christ in the new covenant world, wherein dwells the Righteousness of God.
I will point out once again the problem of Romans 16:20 for Postmillennialism in this context. It is noteworthy that Keith Mathison avoids any mention of Paul’s declaration that Satan would be “crushed” “shortly” (Rom. 16:20) in his work on Postmillennialism and in his chapter addressing the time texts in WSTTB?.
Future eschatologies would challenge us with the empirical reality that Death and Satan could not have met their ultimate demise in AD 70 because, after all, just look around and you will clearly see that people still physically die and that there are wars and murders taking place all over the world today. Are these clear evidence that Satan and his demonic hordes are active in our world?
There were certainly times that Satan moved men, such as Judas, to commit sins. But the Bible does not teach us that this was ever the norm. James tells us that wars and fights come from within men (Jms. 4:1) instead of from Satan and demons. Satan’s primary purpose has come to an end: He can no longer function as the accuser of the brethren (Rev. 12:10), because Christ came out of Zion a second time at the end of the old covenant age to put away Sin once and for all for His church (Acts 20:28; Rom. 11:26–27; 13:11–12; Heb. 9:26–28).
Our salvation and Christ’s Second Appearing/Coming as the Churches great High Priest are not events that take place at the end of time, but rather within time – namely at the end of the OC age in AD 70. The seed of the woman has overcome the Sin, the Death, the Law and crushed Satan for His heavenly people – the Church/New Creation. You may not feel perfect or like a city of jewels and gold, but that is how God views you through His Son’s finished redemption – accomplished and applied for you through His sacrificial work on the cross and His Second Appearing as our Great High Priest to finish atonement. Now go and preach this wonderful message beloved (Rev. 22:17)!
“Those Days” v. “That Day”
Some Postmillennial Partial Preterists such as Kenneth Gentry argue that since Jesus uses the plural “days” in Matthew 24:1-34 this refers to the days leading up to the fall of Jerusalem and when Jesus uses the singular “day” in Matthew 24:36ff this refers to another future event or literal Second Coming of Jesus to end world history. But closer to the truth are those Postmillennial Partial Preterists such as John Lightfoot, John Gill, Adam Clarke and Gary DeMar whom take the “day and hour” of (Matt. 24:36) as Christ coming in the fall of Jerusalem (as do Full Preterists). Others that see the “Day and hour” along with the parables in Matthew 24 being fulfilled in AD 70 would be Keith Mathison.
In Luke 17 both “days” and “day” are used interchangeably together describing the same event:
1). “For the Son of Man in His DAY will be like the lightening,…” (vs. 24).
2). “…so also will it be in the DAYS of the Son of Man” (vs. 26).
3). “It will be just like this on the DAY the Son of Man is revealed” (vs. 30).
4). “On that DAY…” (vs. 31).
Again, Jesus uses “days” (plural) and “day” (singular) in referring to the judgments of Noah and the destruction of Sodom as an example of His Second Coming in the fall of Jerusalem. This is not complicated, “days” (plural) are a description of the period leading up to the “day” (singular) of the judgment upon Jerusalem.
DeMar correctly observes that there is nothing to Gentry’s argument here,
“In Noah’s time we read about “those days which were before the flood” and “the day that Noah entered the ark” (Matt. 24:38). Similarly, there were days before the coming of the Son of man and the day of the coming of the Son of Man. The same people were involved in both the “days before” and “the day of” the Son of Man. Those who were eating and drinking” and “marrying and giving in marriage” were the same people who were shut out on “the day that Noah entered the ark.” (Ibid., 195).
Comparison of Luke 17 with Matthew 24 Continued
The parallels between Matthew 24 and Luke 17 also demonstrate that an alleged two section theory with two different comings of Christ separated by thousands of years is simply desperate assertion made by some Partial Preterists.
According to the two-section theory of interpreting the Olivet Discourse, the coming of false christs and the revealing of the Son of Man as “in the days of Noah” are two events that will take place at the end of world history (in section two of the Olivet Discourse: Matt. 24:37–39). But this causes a problem. Luke relates the events of the Olivet Discourse in a slightly different order than Matthew, and he puts those two supposedly end-of-world-history events in between the coming of the Son of Man “as the lightning” (Lk. 17:24) and the fleeing of people from their housetops and fields (Lk. 17:31). But those events are in the alleged “first section” of the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24:17–19, 24). Luke thus has two “second section” events (allegedly in the end of world history) sandwiched between two “first-section” events that were fulfilled in the first century.
Luke was not aware of the theory of a “telescoped” Olivet Discourse. We see this problem present itself again when Jesus prophesies that one would be taken and one would be left. According to the two-section theory, that event will take place at the end of world history (in section two of the Olivet Discourse: Matt. 24:40–41). But Luke puts that event in between the fleeing of people from their housetops and fields (Lk. 17:31) and the vultures gathering at the corpse (Lk. 17:37). But those events are in the alleged “first section” of the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24:17–18, 28) and were fulfilled in the first century. Thus Luke again has a “second section” event (allegedly in the end of world history) sandwiched between two “first-section” events that were fulfilled in the first century.
According to the two-section theory, Luke 17:23–37 reads like this:
1). Lk. 17:23–24 (false christs; Son of Man as lightning in His day) AD 70
2). Lk. 17:26–30 (the days of Son of Man as the days of Noah) End of world history
3). Lk. 17:31–33 (people fleeing from housetops and fields) AD 70
4). Lk. 17:34–36 (one taken, one left) End of world history
5). Lk. 17:37 (vultures gathered at the corpse) AD 70
Postmillennialist DeMar once again refutes Postmillennialist Gentry,
“If the five prophetic events of Matthew 24 that are found in Luke 17:22-37 are numbered 1-2-3-4-5, Luke’s numbering of the same events would be 2-4-1-5-3.” (DeMar, Ibid., 198). DeMar is admitting this is not just similarity of language, but rather the “same events.”
The absurdity that results in exegetically “ping-ponging” through this text is most pronounced in the last four verses. In verses 34–36, Jesus supposedly tells His disciples that at the end of world history, some people will be “taken,” (some have mistakenly understood this to mean literally raptured into the clouds Lk. 17:34–36). Then in verse 37, the disciples ask Him, “Where, Lord?” That is, “Where will those people be taken?” According to the two-section theory, Jesus answered His disciples’ question about the Rapture at the end of world history by telling them about the corpses of Jews becoming the food of vultures in AD 70.
As Partial Preterist Gary DeMar correctly points out,
“Similarly, there is little evidence that the “coming of the Son of Man” in Matthew 24:27, 30, 39, and 42 is different from the “coming of the Son of Man” in 25:31.” (Ibid.).
As I pointed out earlier in this series, in Mark and Luke’s account of the OD there is only one mention of the coming of the Son of Man upon the clouds. If Jesus taught that there were two different comings separated by thousands of years, then Mark and Luke sure forgot to add this crucial information. If Matthew wants to add more references to the coming of the Son of Man and add more parables than Mark and Luke do and recapitulate the same material he may. But this doesn’t justify that Matthew has two different time periods or has Jesus discussing two different comings of the Son of Man separated by thousands of years! Gentry’s form of Partial Preterism in the OD is exegetically weak and hermeneutically inconsistent to be kind.
Signs v. No Signs
Another “argument” for Kenneth Gentry in his attempts to try and divide the discourse and promote his three comings of Christ heresy, is that since there are specific signs that are mentioned before verse 34 and there are none mentioned after this verse, that this somehow proves there are two sections with two different comings of Christ involved. Hmm.
DeMar refutes Gentry’s “argument” here with simple common sense,
“There are two very good reasons for the absence of signs [in Mt. 24:36ff.]. First, the signs have already been given. All the signs that were necessary to understand the general timing of Jesus’ return in judgment were specified. Second, the topic changes from signs leading up to the temple’s destruction to watchfulness and expectation during the interim.” (Ibid.).
I would add two things:
- A part of them being exhorted to be “watchful” involves them being aware of the signs He previously mentioned. Therefore, signs are still apart of the alleged “second section.”
- When Noah was building a giant boat and preaching of a coming judgment, was not the building of the ark some kind of a sign?!?
Jesus has just finished answering the disciples question regarding the signs of His return and is now going to illustrate through the use of various parables the necessity of being ready and watching for the same events the disciples asked about and that He had just answered in verses 4-34. This is not difficult folks.
“This Generation” v. “A Long Time”
Gentry argues that since before verse 34, there is a short time frame of forty years and yet after verse 34 the time frame is long (Mt. 24:48; 25:5, 19). For Gentry this is evidence to support his two comings theory separated by thousands of years.
To be thorough, I will also cover Luke 19 since many appeal to this text as well. In Luke 19:11 many having listened to John the Baptist and Jesus’ declarations of the “kingdom being at hand” thought they were teaching the kingdom would come “immediately” or “at once” (Greek eggus). In response to that “immediate” mindset, Jesus gives the parable of the “Ten Minas” where He describes Himself as one going away into a far country to receive the rights to be King over Israel and then traveling back, as going into a “distant country” or taking a long journey (Lk. 19:12ff.). Jesus’ listeners would not gather from Jesus’ parable of the man going to a “distant country” as taking thousands of years! Jesus also understood that many false prophets would arise making premature statements that the kingdom was again “immediately” (Greek eutheos) going to appear when in fact it was not (Lk. 21:19). Jesus’ teaching of His coming and kingdom arriving in “this generation” (Lk. 21:27-32) was some 40 years removed from the false concept that He was teaching an “immediate” arrival or that general wars and earthquakes marked the nearness of His parousia and kingdom. There were certain signs and events that needed to transpire first such as the great commission throughout the Jewish and Roman world and the Roman armies surrounding Jerusalem.
Now let’s look at the first “long time” text in Matthew 24. The first appeal is to the wicked servant who interprets His master being gone as a “long time” and beats his fellow servants and drinks with other drunkards Matthew 24:48-49. Obviously the servant was punished within his own lifetime so where is this delay of Christ for thousands of years taught here?!?
Another appeal is the “delay” of Christ’s return found in Jesus’ teaching of the ten virgins in Matthew 25:5 where He says, “the bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.” Jesus’ first century audience were aware of the Jewish wedding scene of a man being betrothed to a woman up to a year while he prepared a home or honeymoon suite for them onto his fathers house. He could come at any time to “snatch” (1Thess. 4:17) her from her life and existence under her father to himself. Because of this she needed to be excited and ready not sluggish and doubtful of his love. The foolish virgins considered this a “long time” and were not ready and fell asleep. Because they viewed this as taking too long and were “foolish,” they did not make preparations of buying oil for His surprise arrival. No one listening to Jesus’ words here would consider this parable as teaching a 2,000 + years “long time” as some Partial Preterists have interpreted it to mean. They would interpret “long time” in the context of a person’s lifetime along with the other parables and consistent with Jesus’ 30 – 40 years “this generation” teaching and time frame.
The last reference is to the parable of the talents in Mattthew 25:19. Again all the points I made above apply here as well. The servant was not “alert” but “lazy” and “worthless”! What he had was given to the faithful servants in verses 28-29 as the kingdom would be taken from the faithless apostates and given to the Church – the true Israel/Nation of God (cf. Mt. 21:33-45).
It’s not exactly accurate for some Partial Preterists to assume that 40 years is a “short time.” Relatively speaking in the world and Israel waiting thousands of years for salvation of the Messiah – this could be true. But if one is 20-30 years old or older during the time Jesus utters His “this generation” statement, 40 years is making one nearing the end of his life 60 – 70 or older. Therefore, viewing it from Israel’s redemptive history, fulfillment within 40 years could easily be considered “at hand,” but in the context of a person’s lifetime, 40 years was enough time to be tempted to think it may not occur (as we see Peter having to deal with in regards to the “mockers” and false teachers in His letters).
Gary DeMar responds to Gentry and other Partial Preterists who assume “long time” means thousands of years to justify two different comings in Matthew 24,
“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.” (Ibid., 199).
Matthew 24-25 and the Analogy of Faith
Having spent some time critiquing and refuting the Postmillennial Partial Preterist division theories of Kenneth Gentry by using the exegesis of another Postmillennial Partial Preterist (Gary DeMar), I will turn some attention to Gary DeMar, Keith Mathison, and those Partial Preterists that see the coming of the Son of Man throughout Matthew 24-25 as being fulfilled in AD 70 – yet still claim the NT speaks of a future Second Coming.
Matthew 24:31-46 The End of the OC Age Event or a 2,000 + Years and Counting Process?
Gary DeMar and Keith Mathison have taken Postmillennial Partial Preterism to another level when they admit the coming of Christ in Matthew 25:31 was fulfilled in AD 70. One of the reasons DeMar sees this coming of Christ to be fulfilled in AD 70 is because it and Matthew 16:27 are “almost identical.” (Madness, 200). However where he makes an exegetical error is when he tries to harmonize this end of the OC age event and judgment to be a 2,000 + years and counting process,
“There is no indication that Matthew 25:31-46 describes a single event. Rather, the passage describes a judgment over time…” (Ibid.)
He quotes Milton Terry who also describes Matthew 25:31-46 as a process involving thousands of years until all the enemies of 1 Corinthians 15:24 have been put under Christ’s feet (Ibid., 200-201). Of course the irony here is that Milton Terry criticized John Lightfoot (and thus by extension DeMar and Mathison) for taking the coming of Christ and His “gathering” in 24:30-31 as a post AD 70 evangelistic process lasting thousands of years! Terry at least on this passage was correct when he taught this was the same and ONE historical event which took place at Christ’s coming in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 to close the OC age in AD 70! I think it is very clear (and The Reformation Study Bible also affirms this) that the coming and parousia of Christ in 1 Corinthians 15:23-25; 51-52 brings an in time (historical “single event”) and “end” and victory over all of the enemies. I refer the reader to my interpretation of 1 Corinthians 15 and particularly WHEN the writer to Hebrews in Hebrews 10:13-37 says these enemies would be judged.
The Reformation Study Bible in the cross references is correct to connect the fulfillment of Psalm 110:1; 1 Corinthians 15:25-28 with Hebrews 10:13. The problem for all the futurists is that the author goes on in verses 27-37 to tell us when these “enemies” would be judged. There was an “about to be” coming (Gk. mello) “judgment” of “raging fire” that was going to “consume” these “enemies” (v. 27) mentioned in (v. 13). This would take place at Christ’s Second Coming to bring an end to the OC age and is said to take place “in a very little while” and would “not tarry” (Heb. 9:26-28; 10:37). “The end” or “end of the age” Second Coming of Jesus in both Hebrews 9-10 and 1 Corinthians 15 when all the enemies would be judged and placed under Christ’s feet in fulfillment of Psalm 110 are one and the same event.
Unfortunately, Terry nor DeMar addresses these issues. DeMar compromises on two passages 24:30-31 and 25:31-46 and Terry realizing he would have to at some point fall in line with the creeds compromised on 25:31-46. Terry says DeMar’s view of 24:30-31 (as a process lasting thousands of years) won’t go anywhere and catch on, and yet somehow he must have been kicking himself in taking 25:31-46 as some kind of process spanning thousands of years – was somehow going to catch on and go somewhere where the other view wouldn’t? Oh consistency thou rare jewel. When we realize the recapitulation nature and structure of Matthew 24-25, this debunks Terry and DeMar’s theories on 24:30-31 and 25:31-46. This is one historical event and it is the Second Coming of Jesus to close the OC and judge and raise the dead in AD 70. Period.
Since Gary DeMar affirms that “John’s version of Matthew 24-25 is found in the book of Revelation” and he likes “parallels” “similar” or “identical” language, when he compares Matthew 24 with the rest of the NT in order to find AD 70 fulfillments and place them under Jesus’ “this generation” time frame of fulfillment; one must wonder how this hermeneutic mysteriously disappears when paralleling Matthew 24-25 with the end of the millennium of Revelation 20:5-15?!? This is due to creedal allegiance and bias. DeMar just can’t play the ignorance card after over 30 years:
Matthew 24-25 and Revelation 20:5-15
- Resurrection and judgment Matt. 24:30-31 (cf. Matt. 13:39-43/Dan. 12:2-3; Matt. 25:31-46) = Revelation 20:5-15
- De-creation heaven and earth pass/flee Matthew 24:29, 35 = Revelation 20:11 (cf. Rev. 6:14; 16:20; 21:1)
- Christ on throne to judge / God on throne to judge Matthew 25:31 = Rev. 20:11
- Wicked along with Devil eternally punished Matthew 25:41-46 = Revelation 20:10, 14-15
The Second Coming and judgment and resurrection of the dead along with the judgment of Satan and the demons as described for us in Matthew 25:31-46 and Revelation 20:5-15 is NOT a post AD 70 process spanning thousands of years. This is not an exegetical nor creedal view to take on these passages and I believe DeMar and Mathison should know better!
Gentry tries to downplay the importance of DeMar and Mathison no longer agreeing with him on his artificial division theory of Matthew 24-25 and how their differences affect the other most important eschatological text – Revelation 20:5-15 and many others! Why? Because their differences actually form Full Preterism:
Premise #1: If it is true and it is orthodox to believe the coming of Christ in Matthew 25:31-46 is Christ’s final Second Coming event and is attended with the final end of the millennium resurrection and judgment event of Revelation 20:5-15 (Gentry agrees with Full Preterism).
Premise #2: If it is true and it is orthodox to believe the coming of Christ in Matthew 25:31 was spiritually fulfilled in AD 70 (DeMar agrees with Full Preterism).
Conclusion: THEN it is also true and is orthodox to believe the final Second Coming event of Matthew 25:31-46 which ends the millennium and fulfills the resurrection and judgment of the dead in Revelation 20:5-15 was fulfilled spiritually in AD 70 (Full Preterism – “Reformed and always reforming” – Scripture interprets Scripture and Scripture does not contradict Scripture).
The Millennium of Revelation 20
Here are seven brief points that destroys the Postmillennial view that the end of the millennium of Revelation 20:5-15 is a future event.
Kenneth Gentry informs us that the book of Revelation is about things which were past, present, and “about to be” fulfilled in John’s day (Rev. 1:19, YLT). Therefore, there is no exegetical evidence that Revelation 20 does not fall within these inspired parameters. The millennium was still future when John wrote, therefore the end of the millennium falls within those things that were “about to be” fulfilled. As Vern Poythress and Simon Kistemaker (also contributors to The Reformation Study Bible) have pointed out in their works, if the imminent time texts in Revelation 1:1 and 22:20 are to be taken literally and refer to AD 70, and since they function as brackets or bookends, then the millennium of Revelation 20 would have also been fulfilled by AD 70 as well.
Therefore, both of these views teach the end of the millennium resurrection and judgment of the dead were fulfilled “shortly” in AD 70. Why would I be considered a “heretic” for agreeing with both?
2). The Thousand Years
As G.K. Beale (the NT editor to The Reformation Study Bible) has taught in his commentary on Revelation, that the symbol of the thousand years does not have to be taken as describing a long period of time (i.e., thousands or millions of years).
Therefore, the thousand years millennium can be a symbolic depiction of relatively short period of time – forty years.
3) Rabbinic Typology of a Forty Years Millennial Period – Historical Argument
It has also been acknowledged by Reformed theologians such as Beale, that many Rabbis believed that the period of Messiah was to be a transitionary stage between “this age/world and the age/ world to come.” These Rabbis (such as R. Adiba), understood this transition period to be forty years, based upon how long the Israelites were in the wilderness before inheriting the land. This type/anti-type understanding is developed for us in the book of Hebrews (cf. Heb. 3-4; 10:25, 37; 11—13:14, YLT). And as we have noted from Reformed partial preterists such as Joel McDurmon and Gary DeMar, it is within the realm of Reformed orthodoxy to believe that Jesus’ and Paul’s “this age/world” was the old covenant age, and that “the last days” were the days of transition between the old covenant age and the new covenant age (AD 30 – 70).
Reformed Postmillennial Partial Preterists such as Keith Mathison, Kenneth Gentry, and James Jordan teach that the content of Revelation 1-19 and 21-22 was fulfilled by AD 70, at which time there was a judgment and resurrection of the dead and arrival of the new creation. And Amillennialists such as Simon Kistemaker teach that Revelation 20:5–15 recapitulates the same judgment and consummation scenes that are depicted in chapters 1–19 and 21–22.
Therefore, sicne Full Preterists hold to both of these reformed and “orthodox” positions in interpreting the book of Revelation the end of of the millennium resurrection and judgment event was fulfilled in AD 70. Why would I be considered a “heretic” for agreeing with both common sense views?
5). Revelation 20 an Isolated Event? The “Already and not Yet,” “This Age and the Age to Come” and the “Last Days” Millennial Period
In criticizing the premillennial view, which often seeks to isolate Revelation 20 from the rest of the New Testament, Amillennialists and many Postmillennialists hold that Revelation 20 falls within the “already and not yet” of the “last days” period in the New Testament, and that this transition period is depicted in the parable of the wheat and tares, or in Matthew 24–25. But as I have shown in this series, it is “orthodox” to believe the “last days” ended with the OC age in AD 70, and that the harvest/gathering and coming of Christ in Matthew 13 and 24–25 was fulfilled by AD 70.
Therefore, since the period between “this age and the age to come” is the millennial period and it was the transition period between the OC age and the NC age (AD 30 – AD 70), and the “Last Days” is also the transition and millennial period of Revelation 20 but was also from AD 30 – AD 70, the end of the millennial resurrection and judgment of the dead was fulfilled when the OC age passed away and the last days ended in AD 70. Why would I be considered a “heretic” for agreeing with both common sense views?
6). The Second Coming in Matthew 24-25 Ends the Millennium of Revelation 20
The “long time” and close of the age in Matthew 24-25 is supposed to be the millennial period of Revelation 20 that ends at Jesus’ Second Coming described in 25:31ff. Yet at the same time Postmillennialists affirm the “long time” and “end of the age” of Matthew 24-25 falls within the “this generation” time frame and the coming of the Son of Man in 25:31 is His spiritual coming to close the OC age in AD 70.
Therefore, according to Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 24-25 the millennial period of Revelation 20 ended at Christ’s spiritual Second Coming in AD 70. Why would I be considered a “heretic” for agreeing with both common sense views?!?
7) The Second Coming of Revelation Ends the Millennium of Revelation 20
The reformed community and The Reformation Study Bible (with it’s contributors) are confused on the coming of Christ in the book of Revelation as well. One side teaches everywhere the coming of Christ is mentioned in the book, it is THE Second Coming event (as stated in the WCF) which ends the millennium and thousand years period in Revelation 20. Yet the Postmillennial Partial Preterist side claims all references to Christ’s coming in Revelation were fulfilled “soon,” “at hand” and “quickly” in AD 70.
Therefore, the ONE Second Coming event was spiritual and ended the millennial resurrection and judgment of the dead event “soon,” “at hand” and “quickly” in AD 70. Why would I be considered a “heretic” for agreeing with both common sense exegetically sound views?!?
Therefore, the reader should be able to discern that the Full Preterist AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” millennial view is:
1). Consistent with the teaching of Revelation itself…
2). Falls within the “orthodox” views of the Reformed church…
3). Is in line with the analogy of Scripture and…
4). Offers historical support from many Rabbis whom promoted a forty years transitional period between the two ages.
Our view on the millennium is both exegetically sound and orthodox. Finding support for the Full Preterist view of the millennium is not as difficult as many portray it – selah.
Again, Gary DeMar publishes James Jordan whom claims Daniel himself was raised out of Abraham’s Bosom or Hades in AD 70 according to Daniel 12:2, 13 and Revelation 20. Postmillennialists such as Jordan and DeMar are also on record for teaching things such as,
“The Apostle John in the book of Revelation picks up where Daniel leaves off.” So here is something that DeMar needs to address as well:
Daniel 12:1-2 and Revelation 20:5-15
- Only those whose names are written in the book would be delivered/saved from eternal condemnation / lake of fire Daniel 12:1-4 = Revelation 20:12-15
- This is the time for the resurrection and judgment of the dead Daniel 12:1-2 = Revelation 20:5-15
The analogy of faith and these parallels demonstrate DeMar’s view that we are still in the millennium and that the end of the millennium judgment and resurrection of the dead is still unfulfilled (while believing that the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 was fulfilled in AD 70) is creedally arbitrary and exegetically dishonest! Daniel is told to seal up the content of this prophecy because the time of fulfillment was “far off” and John the opposite – don’t seal up the content of this prophecy because the time of fulfillment was “at hand.” There is no exegetical evidence whatsoever that Revelation 20 is future while chapters 1-19 and 21-22 were fulfilled by AD 70 – per Partial Preterism and Gary DeMar.
Mathison writes: “ . . . [T]he hyper-preterist interpretations of the millennium fail to take seriously the long-term time text involved. . . . When the word thousand is used in Scripture, it refers either to a literal thousand or to an indefinite, but very large, number” (WSTTB? 209).
Psalm 50:10 is often cited, usually by postmillennialists, to teach that “a thousand” symbolizes literally “many thousands or millions.” For every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. (Ps. 50:10)
Postmillennialists reason that God owns the cattle on every hill; therefore “a thousand hills” symbolizes or represents “many thousands or millions of hills.” Thus, they reason, we are led by Scripture to interpret the “thousand years” in Revelation 20 to mean “many thousands or millions of years.”
That reasoning sounds solid at first glance. However, the context of Psalm 50:10 does not lead us to a principle that a symbolic “thousand” always signifies “many thousands.” It leads us to the principle that a symbolic “thousand” signifies “fullness.” The “thousand” of Psalm 50:10 is interpreted for us two verses later:
The world is Mine, and the fullness thereof. (Ps. 50:12b)
In Psalm 90:4, a “thousand years” is as “yesterday” and as “a watch in the night.” In 2 Peter 3:8, a “thousand years” is as one “day.” In those verses, a “thousand” (and “yesterday” and “a watch” and a “day”) is used to teach us that to God, a small piece of time is no different than a fullness of time. (Compare Job 7:7; Ps. 39:5; 90:2; 144:4; Heb. 13:8; Jms. 4:14.) Thus in Psalm 105:8, a “thousand” corresponds with “forever”: He has remembered His covenant forever, the word that he commanded to a thousand generations. (Ps. 105:8)
In scriptural usage, a symbolic “thousand” can be likened to “one” (day / yesterday / a watch in the night), or used in reference to millions of hills, or to eternity (“forever”). A “thousand” can be likened unto or used to represent a number lesser or greater than a literal thousand. Only its context can determine its literal numerical meaning, but the basic idea that is communicated by the number is “fullness.” As G. K. Beale wrote, “The primary point of the thousand years is probably not a figurative reference to a long time . . .” (G. K. Beale, The New International Greek Testament Commentary: The Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1999), 1018).
How one interprets the thousand years in Revelation 20 depends on one’s eschatological framework. The passage does not interpret itself, but must be interpreted by the overall eschatology of Scripture. Within the preterist interpretive framework, the biblical-eschatological context of Revelation 20 should lead us to interpret the “thousand years” to signify the time of the Christological filling up of all things (Eph. 1:10; 4:10). That time was from the Cross of Christ to the Parousia of Christ in AD 70. That was the time during which “the [spiritual] death” which came through Adam and was magnified through “the law” was in process of being destroyed. The literal timeframe of the “thousand years” was roughly forty years.
Mathison admits that he does not know if there were any rabbis who used the number 1,000 to symbolize forty years (210). Reformed theologian G. K. Beale tells us that some Jews considered the length of the intermediate messianic reign to be forty years. He also states that one Jewish tradition made an anti-type connection between Adam’s lifespan (almost 1,000 years) and a reign of Messiah for a (possibly symbolic) thousand years. Many Christians have attempted to make this connection and have also paralleled the thousand years of 2 Peter 3:8 with John’s thousand years in Revelation 20:2–6.
Adam falling short of the 1,000-year lifespan by 70 years (Gen. 5:5) may represent his being created a mortal being and perishing in sin outside of God’s presence. If this is the case, then it is more than reasonable that the number 1,000 took on the symbolism and representation of Christ’s and the church’s victory over Death in contrast to Adamic man’s vain existence apart from God’s salvation (Eccl. 6:6).
Some Evangelicals and Reformed theologians along with some preterists such as Milton Terry do not understand the long lifespans in the early chapters of Genesis to be literal. They believe that the lifespans were symbolic and contained numerological elements. But even if Adam’s lifespan was a literal 930 years, this does not exclude an anti-typical, symbolic 1,000 years in Revelation 20.
When Messiah came as “the last Adam,” His reign in and through the church for a symbolic thousand years brought the church not to the dust of the earth separated from God’s presence, but to the Tree of Life and into the very presence of God (Rev. 20–22:12). Through faith in and union with Christ as the Last Adam (the Tree of Life and New Creation), Christians have achieved what Adam could not. The church was clothed with “immortality”; it attained unto the “fullness” of life in AD 70; and it will never die for the aeons of the aeons (2 Cor. 1:20; 1 Cor. 15:45–53; Rev. 21–22; Jn. 11:26–27).
All of the authors of WSTTB? understand that the Second Coming is the event that brings the millennium to its consummation. However, the only future coming of Jesus discussed in the book of Revelation is the one that would take place shortly (Rev. 3:11; 22:6–7, 10–12, 20). Both Mathison and Gentry concede that this imminent coming of Christ took place in AD 70. But then they err in assuming that the imminent coming of Jesus in Revelation was not His “actual second coming” (WSTTB?, 182).
We concur with our opponents that John was already in the millennium – “what is now” (Rev. 1:19). Thus the “binding” of Satan here began with the earthly ministry of Jesus. Therefore, Christians were already being raised and reigning on thrones, the saints were already a kingdom of priests (Matt. 12:25-29; Eph. 2:5-7; John 5:24; 1 Pet. 2:5). J. Marcellus Kik makes a good case that Revelation 20:4 is describing the lives of the saints while upon the earth (preferring the ARV translation of the text),
In the King James version the verbs sat, was given, lived, reigned, are in one tense; while the verbs had worshipped, had received, are in another. But in the Greek the same tense is used for all—the aorist. Since they are all in the same tense they must refer to the same time. That is, the time of not worshipping the beast and not receiving his mark is the same time as that of sitting on thrones and living and reigning with Christ. (J. Marcellus Kik, An Eschatology of VICTORY, (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing CO., 1971), 228).
He translates “psuchai” in verse 4 as, “And I beheld the lives of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus” indicating that they were already reigning and living victorious lives upon the earth through the work of Christ on the cross and the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit before they were martyred (see Kik, Ibid., 227).
While John is living during the time of the millennium, the inspired time frame for Revelation’s fulfillment demands that he is now standing towards the end or consummation of it–the things which John was told would “shortly” take place “later” (Rev. 1:1, 19). John was told that no part of the vision was to be sealed up, because it was all to be fulfilled shortly and nowhere are we told that the millennium is not a part of that vision. If the millennium was not a part of the vision to be fulfilled shortly, we would expect John to be given instruction to seal at least that portion of the vision since it’s time of fulfillment would be “far off” – as Daniel was instructed. It is the Partial Preterist eisegesis of Mathison and Gentry which separates the imminent fulfillment of the millennium from the rest of the “at hand” prophecy. Although not a Full Preterist, Vern Pothress points out the inconsistency of the Partial Preterist view of Mathison and Gentry as we do,
“But 1:3 and 22:10 are like bookends enclosing the whole prophecy of Revelation. The fulfillment of everything, not just a part, is near.” (Vern S. Poythress, THE RETURNING KING A GUIDE TO THE BOOK OF REVELATION, (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2000), 34. Bold emphasis MJS).
The Fulfillment of the Great Commission
Many reformed writers claim the purpose of the binding of Satan is that he can no longer deceive the nations – so that the commandment of the Great Commission could be fulfilled by the end of the age (Mark 13:10; Matt. 28:18-20). But the NT teaches us that the Great Commission to all the nations was fulfilled by the end of the Old Covenant age. God’s new Israel – the Church would accomplish the salvation of the remnant within a “short” period and “all nations” of “the world” would hear the gospel and bring forth fruit (Rom. 1:8; 9:28; 10:18; 16:25-26; Col. 1:5-6, 23). Per Simon Kistemaker’s reasoning, if the Great Commission to the nations has been fulfilled, then the Church is no longer in the millennium and it too was fulfilled by AD 70 (WSTTB?, 250).
Therefore, since the GC was fulfilled prior to AD 70, the end of the millennium resurrection and judgment of the dead occurred at that time.
G.K. Beale believes that Satan was bound for the primary purpose of not being able to gather the nations against the City or Church for “the war” (Rev. 20:7-9) and that this “THE war” is a recapitulation of the same end time war described in Revelation 16 and 19. Yet Postmillennial Partial Preterists inform us that “THE war” in chapters 16 and 19 were fulfilled between AD 66 – AD 70.
Therefore, “THE war” of Revelation 16, 19 and 20 was fulfilled between AD 66-70. More on this below.
The First Resurrection and the Resurrection of the “Rest of the Dead”
Those participating in the “first resurrection” is a subject that has been previously addressed in chapters 7 and 14 – these being the first century Jewish “first fruits” or 144,000 that were the first to believe in Christ and continued enduring through the great tribulation until the end. Therefore, they would partake in the harvest/resurrection at the end of the Old Covenant age. These are those who were coming out of their “graves” through the preaching of the gospel (John 5:24-27) and would soon participate and be joined with the rest of the dead in the consummative resurrection event.
In verse 5 “the rest of the dead” participate in the resurrection “after” the thousand years are over. This refers to the end time “harvest” at “the end of the [Old Covenant] age” encompassing the “all” of (John 5:28-29). This included not only all of the righteous dead pre-AD 70 but also that of unbelievers (Daniel 12:2/Matt. 13:39-43, 49). Therefore, we have the raising of all the dead, the emptying of Hades, the great judgment (along with Satan’s imminent judgment Rom. 16:20) taking place shortly after the millennium (20:10-14).
The analogy of faith and that of Scripture confirms this imminent end of the millennium period by describing the same imminent resurrection of all the dead and the judgment of the world,
“…there is about to be a rising again of the dead, both of righteous and unrighteous; (Acts 24:15 YLT WEY).
“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;” (Rom. 8:18 YLT, WEY). Again, contextually the glory “about to be” revealed in them was when the “redemption of the body” in v. 23 and becoming sons of God in the New Creation takes place.
Martyr Vindication, Satan’s Imminent Judgment and THE War
“After” the success of the Great Commission and at the end of the thousand year’s period, Satan is released for a “short” or “little while” (Rev. 20:3). In chapter 6 we are told that the martyrs are to wait a “short” or “little while” until the rest of their fellow brethren have been martyred (Rev. 6:10-11). This would be followed with God avenging and judging those who participated in their persecutions – “For the great day of their wrath has come and who can stand?” (Rev. 6:17). In Revelation 12:5-12 we see the same motifs and recapitulation to what we have seen in Revelation 6 and 20 — previous suffering followed by a “short” or “little while” of more to come, and then an imminent judgment upon their enemies. The “great city” or “Babylon” where Jesus was slain and whom God holds responsible for shedding the blood of the prophets and the saints is none other than OC Jerusalem (Rev. 11:8, 18:20, 24).
The analogy of Scripture confirms this. This “little while” time frame of Satan’s last persecution (through the Jews and Romans) and thus the martyrs having to wait “a little while” longer before justice is wielded out upon their persecutors is consistent with Jesus’ teaching that all of the blood of the martyrs of the prophets and those Jesus would send to Jerusalem would be avenged in a first century “this generation” with her “house/temple” being left “desolate” (Matt. 23:31-38).
Pauline eschatology weighs in as well describing the same first century Jewish persecution and the Thessalonians being promised “relief” from God through Him giving their enemies the same kind of “trouble” they were giving them through Christ coming down from heaven in “blazing fire” “punishing” them with “everlasting destruction” along with the Man of Lawlessness (1 Thess. 2:14-16; 2 Thess. 1:5—2:12). Mathison believes this coming of the Lord and “everlasting destruction” and “punishment” of “fire” in (2 Thess. 1-2) was fulfilled in AD 70 paralleling much of this material with Matthew 24 for exegetical evidence. (Mathison, Postmillennialism, 227-233). And yet all of the same elements that are present in Revelation 6, 12, 16 and 20 are present in 1 and 2 Thessalonians!
The first century persecuted church wouldn’t have to wait much longer because the Man of Lawlessness (Mathison identifying as Nero) was “already” present through the work of Satan himself – awaiting “the rebellion” and then his judgment (2 Thess. 2:3-10). Once again Mathison is creedally selective in making AD 70 fulfillment “parallels” between 1 Thessalonians 2 and 5 and 2 Thessalonians 1-2 with that of Matthew 24 and neglecting those parallels concerning the resurrection of the dead found in 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17 and Matthew 24:30-31.
The paralleling of 1 and 2 Thessalonians with Matthew 24 and the book of Revelation, gives us the same time frame for the end of the millennium in Revelation 20:
- The Thessalonians were already in the millennium.
- They were being persecuted.
- They were promised relief in their lifetimes.
- The Lord came to close the millennium by destroying The Beast/Man of Sin whom was already present and active in their day — with everlasting destruction and punishment.
- He came to raise the dead.
There are four main enemies of God and His saints in the book of Revelation and they are introduced in chapter 12 and onward in the order of Satan, the sea beast, the land beast and or false prophet and Babylon. As Revelation progresses their defeat in judgment is pictured in reverse order. These are different scenes of the same end time persecution and judgment of God’s enemies.
Kistemaker understands the timing of the judgment scene and the casting of Satan into the lake of fire in 20:10 as the “presumed place” where the great harlot is burned with fire in 17:16. And he most definitely affirms that this takes place “at the same time” the beast and false prophet are cast into this fiery lake 19:20. (Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. Vol. 20: New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Book of Revelation. New Testament Commentary, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1953-2001), 544).
Kistemaker affirms that there is only one final war or end time judgment in Revelation and it is consistently referred to in John’s use of the Greek phrase “to gather them for the war” in (Rev. 16:14; 19:19; 20:8) (Ibid., 244-245). Strimple in a debate with Gentry over the millennium makes the same point,
“In 16:14 kings are called forth to the battle. In 19:19 the beast and the kings of the earth come forth to the battle. In 20:8 Satan leads his host up to the battle. It seems clear that these three texts describe not three battles but one.” (Craig A. Blaising, Kenneth L. Gentry Jr., Rober B. Strimple, THREE VIEWS ON THE MILLENNIUM AND BEYOND, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1999), 125, bold emphasis MJS).
And yet Partial Preterists such as Mathison and Gentry understand “the war” of (Rev. 16:14), the burning of the Harlot in (Rev. 17:6) and the judgment of the false prophet and beast being thrown into lake of fire in (Rev. 19:20) as being fulfilled by AD 70. Once again we can readily see how Full Preterism is the organic development of our opponent’s views and effectively “bridges the gap” between them.
I once again have to point out the problem Romans 16:20 is for Postmillennial Partial Preterism. Most reformed commentators correctly understand that the timing of Satan being thrown into the lake of fire here in Revelation 20:10 to be equivalent to him being “crushed” “shortly” in (Romans 16:20/Genesis 3:15). Partial Preterists such as Gentry inform us that this time statement along with all of the other NT imminent time statements refers to AD 70. (Gentry, THREE VIEWS ON THE MILLENNIUM, 246). And yet the majority of reformed commentators understand these passages to be addressing the “not yet” consummation of biblical eschatology (ie. the final defeat of Satan at the end of the millennium – followed with the Adamic curse of death being destroyed for the Church in the New Creation). And since DeMar and Mathison the coming of Christ in BOTH Matthew 24-25 as AD 70, and Gentry sees the coming of Christ in Matthew 25:31-46 to be the Second Coming that ends the millennium of Revelaiton 20, this necessitates that the judgment of the dead, with that of Satan and his angels into “everlasting punishment” would take place in Jesus’ “this generation” (Matt. 24:34—25:31-46).
Therefore, the spiritual “this generation” Second Coming of Christ in Matthew 25:31-46 ended the millennium and fulfilled the resurrection and judgment of the dead event in Revelation 20:5-15!
If Mathison and Gentry along with their other futurist colleagues in WSTTB? become Full Preterists, then they can truly be said to be in “shoulder to shoulder unity” concerning last things – and not the blatant contradictions we find in their writings which don’t refute Full Preterism, but actually form it!
Earth and Sky Fled
In verse 11 we read, “Earth and sky fled from his presence,..” For Full Preterists and men such as Kistemaker and Beale, this same de-creation event has already been recapitulated in connection with the Second Coming of Jesus in (Rev. 6:14 and Rev. 16:20) and will re-surface shortly in the next chapter (Rev. 21:1). (Ibid., 546).
But for Mathison, Gentry, DeMar and McDurmon, the de-creation events depicted in (Rev. 6:14; Rev. 16:20 and Rev. 21:21) were “non-literally” fulfilled or are the removal of “Israel’s world” or the Old Covenant world in AD 70 being “parallel” to the AD 70 fulfillments found in Matthew 24:15-31. (Mathison, Postmillennialism, 148-149, 153. Kenneth L. Gentry Jr. HE SHALL HAVE DOMINION, 141-142). The question begging to be answered of course is, why can’t the Postmillennial interpretation of an imminent de-creation non-literal fulfillment of Revelation 21:1 be applied to Revelation 20:11?
Joel McDurmon TRIED to answer this question and I responded to his deceptive answer.
Joel McDurmon’s Eisegetical Distinctions Between Revelation 20:11 – “Fled Away” (Greek pheugo) and Revelation 21:1 – “Passed Away” (Greek parechomai)
“Revelation 20:11 says earth and heaven “fled away” (ESV) from the face of the enthroned One. The verb here is ephugen (from pheugo). It means “run away” in the Monty Python sense: “retreat” or “flee” in the sense of seeking safety from an imminent threat. We get our word “fugitive” from pheugo.
“Pheugo is a common word used some 279 times throughout the New Testament and Old Testament LXX, but almost always has the distinct meaning of running away out of fear or self-protection. For example, Genesis 39:12, 13 and 15 (LXX) use the word to describe Joseph fleeing from Potiphar’s wife who had him by the garment. The Exodus is described with this word (Ex. 14:5). So is David fleeing Saul who wants to murder him (1 Sam. 19:18), Ahaziah fleeing Jehu (2 Ki. 9:27), God’s enemies in general (Ps. 68:1; Prov. 28:1), Jonah fleeing God’s presence (Jon. 1:3), Baby Jesus’ family fleeing Herod (Matt. 2:13), persecuted disciples leaving town (Matt. 10:23; 24:16), fearful disciples scattering after Jesus’ crucifixion (Matt. 26:56). The list is long, and the word is consistent in this meaning. Revelation 21:1, on the other hand, says “the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.” The verb here is apelthan (an aorist of aperchomai).” (my full response: https://treeoflifeministries.info/content/mike-sullivan-64/)
As one can clearly see McDurmon didn’t go through the proper hermeneutical/exegetical steps of pointing out how pheugo was used earlier and within the book of Revelation itself when it comes to a de-creation text/event:
“And every island fled (Greek pheugo) away, and the mountains were not found.” (Rev. 16:20).
Obviously, Joel McDurmon “fled” from this text as in, “Run away in the Monty Python sense: “retreat” or “flee” in the sense of seeking safety from an imminent threat [Full Preterism]” because he and other Partial Preterists take this de-creation text as the fleeing/passing of the OC creation – not the literal creation. So much for his “argument” that two different events are referred to because two different Greek words are used!
American Vision new-comer Sam Frost has been claiming that his and McDurmon’s view of fulfillment is that of such scholars as G.K. Beale and yet Beale identifies the de-creation and judgment of Revelation 6:14, 16:20, 20:11 and 21:1 as the same eschatological end time or “not yet” event/judgment,
“Almost identical language has already been used of the last judgment in 6:14 and 16:20 (see there, esp. for OT background). That this signifies the end-time cosmic destruction is apparent further from 21:1, which affirms that “a new heaven and a new earth” replaced the vanishing “first heaven and first earth,” which had fled away. “A place was not found for them” is from Dan. 2:35 Theod., where it is used of the destruction of the wicked kingdoms at the end time.” (G.K. Beale, (1999). The book of Revelation: A commentary on the Greek text. New International Greek Testament Commentary (1032). Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle, Cumbria: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press).
“The absolute nature of the judgment is continued by a picture of the further breakup of the cosmos: “every island fled, and the mountains were not found” (see on 6:14). Virtually identical descriptions in 6:14 and 20:11 also indicate the conclusive, universal destruction of the earth at the judgment day. That parts of the world “were not found” (οὐχ εὑρέθησαν) anticipates the same portrayal of Babylon’s final, definitive destruction repeated three times in ch. 18 (οὐ μὴ εὑρεθῇ in 18:21, 22, and similarly in 18:14).
Note the striking parallel language in 6:14; 20:11; and 16:20:
|πᾶν ὄρος καὶ νῆσος ἐκ τῶν τόπων αὐτῶν ἐκινήθησαν (“every mountain and island were moved from their places”)||πᾶσα νῆσος ἔφυγεν καὶ ὄρη οὐχ εὑρέθησαν (“every island fled, and the mountains were not found”)
|ἔφυγεν ἡ γῆ καὶ ὁ οὐρανός καὶ τόπος οὐχ εὑρέθη αὐτοῖς (“the earth and the heaven fled, and a place was not found for them”)
Destruction of mountains was a sign of the end of the cosmos in Jewish apocalyptic (1 En.1:6; Assumption of Moses10:4; Sib. Or. 8.234–35).” (Beale, Ibid. 844).
McDurmon basically tried to mock Preston’s charts of “parallels” in his various books and in the debate as too simple, and yet the FACTS are that Don isn’t coming up with anything new when it comes to these parallels! It is called the “analogy of Faith” and the vast majority of reformed exegesis upholds these kinds of parallels and recapitulation within the book of Revelation.
The other ironic thing is that McDurmon made “parallels” between Matthew 24 and 2 Peter 3 to support his Preterist view that the de-creation of 2 Peter 3 was fulfilled in AD 70, and yet he and DeMar can’t seem to address the “parallels” I have made between Matthew 25:31-46 (which DeMar says was fulfilled in AD 70) and Revelation 20:5-15. As usual McDurmon was just trying to blow smoke and produced NO exegesis and he can’t consistently harmonize the analogy of faith principle of interpretation within reformed eschatology as we have. And DeMar remains in hiding from debating Full Preterism – Selah.
The Dead Were Judged
In verses 12-15 the dead are judged, Hades gives up the dead and those whose names were not written in the book of life were thrown into the lake of fire. For Kistemaker, such passages as Revelation 2:23; 3:5; 6:17; 11:18; 16:14; 20:5, 12-15; 22:10-12; Daniel 12:1-2; Matthew 25:31-46 all refer to ONE final judgment at the end of the age. We agree, but it is the end of the Old Covenant age that the NT places this judgment in and not the New Covenant age or end of history. Between Mathison and Gentry (and Gary DeMar), all of the above judgment passages were or could have been fulfilled at the end of the Old Covenant age in AD 70 except Revelation 20:5-15 allegedly being the exception.
And yet all of the rewards (to be presented at the judgment) for the churches in Revelation 1-3 were to be given when Christ was to come soon and correspond to inheriting the New Creation in Revelation 21 – of which Mathison and Gentry claim arrived in AD 70. If the New Creation follows the millennium (and those events that take place soon after the millennium) in Revelation 20:1-15, then the judgment and resurrection of the dead had to have taken place imminently at that time as well. To this we need to turn to the rest of Scripture for confirmation since Gentry has informed us that Revelaiton 20 is not isolated from the rest of the NT.
“They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.” “…But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers.” (1 Pet. 4:5, 7).
And in the same context Peter in verse 17 uses the definite article to emphasize he is referring to “THE time” of “THE judgment,” not just “a” minor one in AD 70,
“For the time has come for the judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Pet. 4:17).
“…because He did set a day in which He is about to judge the world in righteousness, by a man whom He did ordain, having given assurance to all, having raised him out of the dead” (Acts 17:31 YLT, WEY).
“I solemnly implore you, in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus who is about to judge the living and the dead, and by His Appearing and His Kingship:” (2 Tim. 4:1 WEY, YLT).
Kistemaker once again confirms the judgment of the dead in Revelation 20:12-13 is one Day of Judgment and has already been addressed in the previous chapters “…sixth seal (6:17), the seventh trumpet (11:18), and the sixth bowl (16:14) all refer to the moment when the great Day of Judgment comes. John presents his Apocalypse in a cyclical manner and looks at God’s revelation from different perspectives.
“And the rest of the dead lived not until the thousand years were completed” (20:5a). Here as well as in 20:12–13 the term alludes to all people: some receive rewards and others condemnation. (Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, Ibid., 344).
In order for Postmillennial Partial Preterism to take the time texts literally in the NT and in the book of Revelation, and try and remain creedal, they have to invent two judgments of the dead, two Great Commissions, two comings of Christ, two passings or fleeings of heaven and earth, two arrivals of the New Creation, two judgments and resurrections for the dead, two weddings, etc… With the Amillennialist and Historic Premillennialist, we condemn this hermeneutic as “unbiblical” “arbitrary” “inconsistent,” and yet when consistently played out “forms or leads to Full Preterism.” And yet the Amillennialist and Historic Premillennialist needs to understand that their views combined with Postmillennial Partial Preterism fully “leads to and forms Full Preterism.” Selah.
Ironically, Gary DeMar claims his Postmillennial Partial Preterism is winning the eschatological battle today among the other competing end time views. Apparently it did not win the eschatological debate for Luther, Calvin and the WCF which have taught the coming of Christ in Matthew 24-25 is indeed the Second Coming (as Full Preterism teaches). And what about today? Sproul, Mathison and DeMar didn’t win the battle over Matthew 24-25 in The Reformation Study Bible, which is in perfect harmony with Full Preterism in interpreting the parallel’s in Matthew 24:30-31 as being the same and ONE Second Coming event in the following passages:
“But the language of [Matthew 24:31] is parallel to passages like 13:41; 16:27; 25:31 [which Postmillennialists say were fulfilled in AD 70], as well as to passages such as 1 Cor. 15:52 and 1 Thess. 4:14–17. The passage most naturally refers to the Second Coming.” (1716).
If DeMar’s Postmillennial Partial Preterism is “winning” the eschatological debate today, then why has he continued to duck debating Full Preterism for over 30 years?!? Selah. Isn’t it because we all know his Partial “Preterism” serves as nothing more than a stepping stone to Full or REAL Preterism? Just as “four point Calvinism” inevitably leads to five point or REAL Calvinism so does Postmillennial Partial Preterism lead to REAL Full Preterism. Since Sproul is correct to say a four point “Calvinist” is really “a confused Arminian” (which I agree with btw), it is also true that Sproul’s Postmillennial “Partial Preterism” is nothing more than “confused futurism.” Selah.
I have demonstrated how the Classic Amillennial, Historic Premillennial and Postmillennial Partial Preterist views of the OD have actually formed the Sovereign Grace Full Preterist view of the OD and NT prophecy in general. This has resulted in a contextual and consistent exegesis of our Lord’s teaching. Without the SGFP view present to “bridge the gap” between these views, the Church will continue deadlocked in hopeless contradiction and will continue telling everyone how “difficult” the OD (and NT prophecy) is – when in fact it isn’t.
It is my sincere prayer that men like R.C. Sproul will honestly see the exegetical “Problems with Postmillennialism” and will have the courage to unite the reformed community in revising the creeds so that all of them can hold to the analogy of faith – Scripture interprets Scripture and Scripture does not contradict Scripture. Selah.
Please do share this article and series with your Pastor and friends. Also send this series to R.C. Sproul and the seven reformed authors of When Shall These Things Be?, and ask them why they have not been able to answer or refute our book response to them, House Divided Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology…?” Thank you.