An Open Letter to Phil Johnson and John MacArthur Regarding: Charismatics/Dr. Michael Brown, Inconsistencies, Lies, Liberals, R.C. Sproul, S.E.S. & Last Days Cults

An Open Letter to Phil Johnson (and by extension John MacArthur –10/19/2017),

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Dear Mr. Phil Johnson,

I appreciate you calling me back in regards to my debate with Charismatic Dr. Brown over 1 Corinthians 13:8-12 and possibly trying to get it at The Master’s Seminary or University along with our hopes of someone representing your views on the text and subject matter.  I have been calling and writing Grace Community and The Masters Seminary for several months now with no response until today.  I wanted to briefly address some of the things you mentioned to me on the phone that were more than inconsistent and in some cases just blatantly wrong and needing public correction and an apology.

Inconsistencies on What “heretic(s)” “Step(s) Foot” on The Master’s Campuses

18556061_10155363997605990_4266574590684128712_nYou mentioned you would never allow Dr. Michael Brown or myself “to step foot” on The Master’s Seminary, University or Grace Community because it is Pastor MacArthur’s position that “heretics” like us are not to be given a platform or given equal time in a debate or in any kind of public discussion with you.  Yet when I was a student at The Master’s College professor Brian Morley allowed a Mormon apologist come to our class and we engaged with him.  Sounds like you arbitrarily pick and choose what “heretics” you want to engage with.  I even invited Greg Bahnsen to speak at TMC and I’m guessing MacArthur considers his Theonomy to be “heretical” as well – right?  Yet he spoke in many of my classes being asked challenging questions and giving them to and from the students and faculty.

Of course the glaring problem here is that your Dispensational Premillennialism and Brown’s Historical Premillennialism has been condemned as “heretical” by the early creeds for it’s hyper-literal understanding of God’s kingdom on earth – being likened to “Jewish dreams.”  And Sproul and others consider your progressive dispensationalism no less “heretical” than pure dispensationalism.  And the drama on who is “heretical” continues  when these same early Amillennial creeds would consider Sproul’s hyper-literal kingdom manifestations/fulfillments of Postmillennialism to also be “heretical” and on par with “Jewish dreams” as well.  And yet I’m willing to engage with you, Brown and Sproul even though you constitute a “heretical” group.  Selah.  That’s what the field of apologetics is all about Phil.  Why even teach apologetics to your students if you are so afraid turn them loose to actually engage with them?!?

Since you can’t address the Charismatic exegetical arguments on 1 Cor. 1:5-8; 1 Cor. 13:8-12, Acts 2, Mark 16:15-20/Mt. 28:18-20; “the already and not yet of the kingdom,” etc., you just call them “heretics” and talk about their abuses and extremes (Word of Faith, how many times they sing choruses of worship songs, etc…).  This “apologetic” (which it really isn’t) has produced no fruit within the Charismatic movement.  All it has done is further proven to them that you don’t have the exegetical answers to their questions and challenges.

I shared with you how when I first attended The Master’s College that I had discussions with Pastor MacArthur on these passages and he never answered the arguments (as a Charismatic from Calvary Chapel I was VERY open to leaving that position but committed to a proper exegesis of these texts that were clearly eschatological).  I also shared with you that C.W. Smith (my theology major advisor and a professor at TMC whom taught Greek and through 1-2 Corinthians) told me that MacArthur’s Greek and contextual argument as to why tongues ceased in AD 70 but prophecy and knowledge pass away thousands of years later at the New Creation was inconsistent and weak and that he didn’t agree with it.  You actually scoffed at me for saying this and yet it is 100% true.  I remember it like it was yesterday.  Your attitude suggested that MacArthur couldn’t answer my challenges as a student or that he couldn’t possibly be wrong on 1 Corinthians 13:8-12 — just doesn’t match the facts.  He has been wrong on very important issues and texts before…

After leaving my 4 point “Calvinist” position behind as a student and becoming a 5 point Calvinist I also had a discussion with MacArthur about his weak and inconsistent position on limited atonement and recommended him reading Gary Long’s book, Definite Atonement and his syllabuses on the sovereignty of God in salvation (which I printed out for him).  I’m glad John changed his view on that subject later but John r22491621_10155710466904192_5794897158961308659_nemains wrong in having no exegetical defense against Charismatic texts (listed above) and has no exegetical refutation of Preterism.  John now agrees with Sproul that when he hears someone say he is a 4 point Calvinist he is thinking to himself  “oh, you mean you are a confused Arminian.”  You and MacArthur would also agree with me that Partial Preterism when played out consistently leads to Full Preterism.

The only problem is that you and MacArthur are like the eschatological 5 point Arminian and your Premillennial “heresy” of hyper-literalism is an heir to the Pharisees doctrine of an earthly kingdom.  It doesn’t matter if you “postpone” it to a future coming of Jesus that you have imagined for yourself – error is error.  The problem with Sproul’s Partial Preterism (the 4 point “Calvinism” of eschatology so to speak) is that it too portrays Christ as a failure to redeem His Church how and when He said He would (Heb. 9–10:37).  Christ as our great High Priest came to not provide atonement for all humanity but to actually atone and propitiate the sins of the “many” — the Church.  But to not accept that Christ came out a “second time” from the heavenly temple to the eagerly waiting congregation at the end of the OC age “in a very little while” and would “not tarry” is also to portray Christ as a failed High Priest.  Sproul is very conflicted, uncommitted and creedally ambiguous in his book The Last Days According to Jesus on Hebrews 9-10.  Both 4 point “Calvinism” and “Partial Preterism” are inconsistent and portray a failed Christ in His offices of Prophet, Priest and King in these chapters.  Selah.

Lies and Scare Tactics – Who Are These Preterist’s That Deny the Physical Resurrection of Jesus?

You also shared with me how I’m a worse “heretic” than even Dr. Brown.  You claimed that “Full Preterism believes or leads to denying the physical resurrection of Jesus.”  When I challenged you on this — stating I’ve been a Full Preterist for 27 years and personally have never known or communicated with anyone that believes this, you assured me there were and that this was documented in one of MacArthur’s books.  As it turns out, you are referring to Ward Fenley whom I shared the view with many years ago and who has NEVER denied that Christ was raised physically.  I just spoke with him on the phone after our conversation and he says that’s a pure lie.  He provided me with this statement:

“I have never denied the physical resurrection of Christ. In fact, in my article, “Christ’s Post Resurrection Mode” I go out of my way to show He arose physically from the grave.”

After talking to Ward after our call and reading the first sentence of his article I asked him why he assumed there were some Preterists out there that denied the physical resurrection of Christ.  He mentioned that being new to Full Preterism (hardly the most “prolific writer” within the movement Phil – this too was false:  King, Preston, Bell, & sovereign grace FPists – David Green, Ken Davies, etc…) at the time simply assumed that there might be Preterists out there somewhere that denied the physical resurrection of Jesus because he was told by some futurists that to be a Full Preterist, you denied the physical resurrection of Christ and the physical bodily return of Christ in our future.

Let me help explain where I think the confusion is here.  It’s like someone being new to the doctrines of grace or Calvinism and being told that your position means you “have to deny prayer or evangelism” and therefore you are a “hyper-Calvinist” because you believe in the 5 points.  I have had many discussions like these with ignorant and illogical Arminians.  Even when I was a student at The Master’s College after I embraced limited atonement I was constantly told by students that I had “gone too far” and had become a “hyper-Calvinist.”  I hadn’t become such or believed what they told me I had to believe having adopted the 5 points of Calvinism — they just had no clue what they were talking about!  And like the ignorant Arminian who uses scare tactics, that’s your and MacArthur’s approach with Full Preterism.  Pathetic.  And although I personally do not know any real “hyper-Calvinists” that don’t evangelize, they are actually out there.  When it comes to these Full Preterist’s that allegedly don’t believe in a physical raised body of Jesus – I don’t know of ANY.  You simply try and build your case with scare tactics and trying to knock down extremes — if they are in the minority or DON’T EVEN EXIST!  You and MacArthur write,

1085717“…some hyper-preterists even deny Christ was raised bodily from the dead” (John MacArthur, THE SECOND COMING Signs of Christ’s Return and the End of the Age, 12).

There is NO citation or quote from these “some” you mention!  So Ward does not deny the physical resurrection of Jesus and you haven’t given me any documentation of any that do.  Nor have you demonstrated that this is somehow a prevalent belief within Full Preterism.  Nor have you demonstrated that to not believe Jesus still has a physical body and is returning someday in a physical body “necessitates that one logically work backwards to believe Jesus didn’t rise physically.”

Are We Like the Resurrection of the Dead Deniers or ARE YOU and MACARTHUR?

After falsely claiming that Full Preterism denies the physical resurrection of Jesus, you and MacArthur sign off on this bogus statement,

“The apostle Paul seemed to have a theology very much like modern hyper-preterism in mind when he penned [1 Cor. 16-17].” (Ibid., 12).

Here is a section taken from my article on 1 Corinthians 15 which demonstrates how it is YOU being an “heir to  Dispensational theology” that has more in common with the resurrection of the dead deniers in Paul’s day who had a difficult time reconciling how the OT dead would be raised with those who had died “in Christ.”

The Error Identified

Since the Corinthians believed in Christ’s resurrection and a resurrection for those whom had died “in Christ,” then to whom is left to deny a resurrection for?  In short, the error at Corinth was an extreme view (or a hyper-dispensational or replacement theology of sorts) that divided up the people of God in extreme ways.  They could not reconcile how the dead prior to Christ’s arrival could be raised into or with the Body of Christ.  In short, they were denying a key ingredient to “the better resurrection” that the writer to the Hebrews outlines:

Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they [the OT or Old Covenant dead] might obtain a better resurrection:   And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:  They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;  (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.  And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they (“the [OT/OC] dead”) without us (the NT/NC saints “in Christ”) should not be made perfect (Heb. 11:35-40).

The resurrection of the dead deniers at Corinth saw the “better things” for those who were “in Christ” (dead or alive – their side of the cross), but could not reconcile how the OT or Old Covenant dead (on the other side of the cross) could participate in order for both groups to be “made perfect” together in the Body of Christ.  They had the NC “better things,” and thus the OT or OC dead were left without participation in the better resurrection to come – was their reasoning and error.  They did not deny the doctrine of the resurrection in general, just the all-ness or oneness (with all of God’s of people) to the resurrection event to close the OC age.

Extreme views and excluding the righteous dead was not uncommon – even among the Jews.  Some Jews believed that anyone who died outside of the Promised Land would not participate in the resurrection:

“The Talmud records speculations on the various matters connected with the process of Resurrection.  There was a firm belief that the momentous event would take place in the Holy Land.  Some Rabbi took the extreme view that only they who were interred there would share in the future life.  ‘Those who die outside the land of Israel will not live again; as it is said, “I will set delight in the land of the living.”  (Ezek. 26:20)—those who die in the land of My delight will live again, but they who do not die there will not’…” “Even a Cananite maidservant in the land of Israel is assured of inheriting the World to Come’…” (Rev. Dr. A. Cohen, Everyman’s TALMUD, (New York:  E.P. DUTTON & CO., INC., 1949), 361-362).

So in this extreme view those righteous dead who died outside of being “in the land” would not participate in Israel’s corporate resurrection.  Similarly, some at Corinth took Paul’s teaching that all prophecy or all the promises of God were fulfilled spiritually “in Christ,” to far in that they concluded the resurrection could only take place for those who believed “in Christ” (their side of the cross) – and all others perished outside of being in Him.  Therefore, since the OC dead were not present to place their faith in Christ, then they couldn’t be apart of the spiritual body that was in the process of being raised in their day.  They lost sight of the great cloud of witnesses whom saw Christ’s day and were glad and would thus share in the “better resurrection” with them.  According to both of these extreme views, men such as Moses had no resurrection hope but perished outside of being “in the land” or perished outside of being “in Christ.”

We see a similar inability to reconcile the OT promises made to Israel and how they would be fulfilled in the NT Body of Christ coming from modern day Dispensationalists whom think there are opposing theologies between the OT and NT.  There are two complete separate bodies of believers or peoples of God needing two separate comings of Christ or programs of salvation etc…  Of particular interest to our discussion here is in the comparison of dividing the OT dead from those that died “in Christ.”  Dispensationalists such as Charles Ryrie and Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer argue,

“those who died before Christ’s first advent” are not among “the dead in Christ” (Charles Ryrie).  “The Old Testament saints were not part of the New Creation in Christ,” and “the nation of Israel sustains no relation to the resurrection of Christ” (Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer).  And again per Chafer, the dead OT saints were not “in the new federal headship of the resurrected Christ…” (taken from:  Curtis Crenshaw and Grove Gunn, Dispensationalism Today, Yesterday, and Tomorrow, p. 204).

In 1937 William Everett Bell argued against Pretribulationalism providing evidence that at Christ’s Second Coming (after the Tribulation period), all the righteous dead were to be raised.  The ever evolving pertrib rapture theory countered with a two resurrection view – one for those that died “in Christ” at the “rapture” “coming,” and then one for those that died outside of being “in Christ” (OT dead not “in Christ”) seven years later (after the Tribulation) at the Second Coming.  The resurrection of the dead deniers also divided God’s people up in a way that was contrary to the teachings of Paul, except for them, the best way to avoid the problem (they created for themselves) was to deny resurrection for the dead – period and only accept a resurrection for those “in Christ.”

These examples (one within the Talmud and modern ones) should be sufficient to demonstrate how it could be possible for some to miss how the OT dead could or even would participate in the salvation of the ONE NC Body of Christ.”

Phil, you are also failing to follow Paul’s modus tollens logical argumentation that proves the resurrection of the dead deniers at Corinth weren’t denying Jesus’ physical resurrection.  Again, another excerpt from my article:

“Paul’s Modus Tollens form of Argumentation

To further prove that the resurrection of the dead deniers were not denying Christ’s resurrection or the resurrection for all in general, we need to take a look at Paul’s form of argumentation.  The futurist view makes no contextual sense if you follow Paul’s argumentation and the logic he uses.  Paul uses a familiar modus tollens or if then logical argument.  That is, “If P, then Q.  Therefore, not P.”

1).       “If P”

“If there is no resurrection of the dead ones…”

2).       “Then Q”

If the dead are not rising (and will rise)…then not even Christ has been raised.

If the dead are not rising (and will rise)…then our preaching is useless…

If the dead are not rising (and will rise)…then and so is your faith [useless].

If the dead are not rising (and will rise)…then we are found to be false witnesses about God.

If the dead are not rising (and will rise)…then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.

If the dead are not rising (and will rise)…then your and my baptism (of suffering & martyrdom) on the part of the dead is meaningless.

If the dead are not rising (and will rise)…then the Father is subject to Christ.

If the dead are not rising (and will rise)…then some of you are ignorant of God.

If the dead are not rising (and will rise)…then why are some undergoing a baptism (of suffering & persecution) on behalf of the dead?

If the dead are not rising (and will rise)…then there will be no resurrection for anyone and we all might as well eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die.

3).      “Therefore, not P”

Therefore, your (resurrection of the dead deniers) premise that the resurrection of the (OC) dead will not take place with those that had died in Christ and us —  is false (or “therefore, not P”).

Paul’s argument is also known as reduction ad absurdum.  This form of argument demonstrates that a statement is false (the dead will not rise) by showing that a false, untenable, undesirable or absurd result follows from its acceptance.  Again, Paul is using things he has in common with them and that they would affirm in order to overthrow and show how absurd their false premise that the dead ones would not rise actually was.”

As far as Full Preterism believing that Christ took upon Himself the curse of Adam’s “the death” (of which Adam died the “very day” he sinned — which was SPIRITUAL death/separation) for the Church so that they may become the righteousness of Christ –  that is true.  And since Christ was not the “first” to be raised from physical death, Him being the “firstborn” and “firstfruit” implies that He was the first to conquer “THE death” (separation) that came from Adam for His prosterity – the Church.  Christ’s physical resurrection was a sign that He had conquered and been raised from the curse and death that came from Adam.  Charismatics fail to recognize that Christ’s miracles of “SIGNS and wonders” pointed to the deeper spiritual truths of Himself and His Kingdom.  And YOU and MacArthur have failed to understand the “sign” of Jesus being raised physically and what deeper spiritual truth lies behind it when it comes to inheriting resurrection and eternal life and “dying no more.”  Pure and simple.

So let’s summarize your approach with “heretics.”  You and Pastor MacArthur’s “apologetic” method in dealing with “heretics” is to arbitrarily engage and let some “step foot” on the campuses when you feel comfortable that you can refute them (ex. Mormon apologists), but those you can’t address on an exegetical level, you simply laugh at their extremes (Charismatics), don’t engage in debate with them on an exegetical level and when completely desperate just blatantly lie about what they believe or what you think they have to believe?!?  This is neither a moral, logical or having a Christian and biblical apologetic method.  And nor can it even be pawned off as “scholarship.”  I see no citations of Preterists that deny the physical bodily resurrection of Jesus.  Preterits have been told this lie so many times that we have simply assumed that somewhere out there, there might be these “Preterists” that believe such, and yet no documentation ever surfaces – at least that I know of.  Again, I have been in this movement 27 years (longer than Ward) and have NEVER heard of such or known of any Full Preterist book promoting such heresy.  Yet reading you and MacArthur, one is to believe from your so-called “scholarship” (of NO citations) that this is somehow a prevalent belief.  At best shallow scholarship and at worse – immoral.

Who’s Really “Taking a Page From the Liberal’s Handbook” – an Imminence That’s Not Really Imminent & Did the NT Authors Really Teach the End of World History?!?

On top of claiming we deny the physical miraculous resurrection of Jesus, on page 11 you claim we are “taking a page from the liberal’s handbook.”  In my article on the imminent redemption in Romans 8 and Luke 21 I write,

“Reformed eschatology has a strong Preterist tradition, which argues that the New Testament’s eschatological statements of imminence must be taken literally because there are no contextual indicators leading us to interpret them in any other way. As Gary DeMar states, “any student of the Bible who does not interpret these time texts to mean anything other than close at hand is in jeopardy of denying the integrity of the Bible.”[3] To put a finer point on it,  R. C. Sproul suggests that any eschatology which denies a literal interpretation of the New Testament’s time texts has adopted a liberal or neo-orthodox view of God and time:  “When F. F. Bruce speaks of faith making the time be ‘at hand,’ this sounds all too much like Rudolf Bultmann’s famous theology of timelessness, which removes the object of faith from the realm of real history and consigns it to a super temporal realm of the always present hic et nunc [here and now].”[4] Sadly, this same view is so commonly articulated among Reformed and Evangelical believers[5] that few seem to recognize its liberal and mystical implications or its exegetical lack of support. In the interest of preserving eschatological futurism, many have compromised the principle of scriptural analogy by sweeping away the plain and obvious meaning of the imminence texts. In so doing, conservatives are unwittingly handling the Scriptures like Bultmann.”

So Phil, according to the Reformed early creeds not only is your Premillennialism “heretical” and on par with hyper-literal “Jewish myths,” but to compound the problem is to not take the time texts as pointing to AD 70.  For Reformed writers such as Sproul and DeMar, this is to treat the Scriptures like liberals and come dangerously close to denying the inspiration of the Scriptures.  There is this and the fact that it is the FALSE prophets that turned God’s “at hand” judgments into “far off” ones (cf. Ezek. 7 and 12).  To create an imminent hope into a “hope deferred” — according to the Scriptures themselves is a “sick” theology (Prov. 13:12).

And Phil, most “liberals” I know — like Dale Allison Jr. claim that since Jesus predicted His Second Coming and end of world history would take place in His generation, and “obviously” this didn’t happen, then Jesus was not an inspired prophet or God like he claimed.  Here is an excerpt from an article I wrote on this subject:

“Rudolf Bultmann, a liberal, wrote,

“Of course, Jesus was mistaken in thinking that the world was destined to come to an end.”[5] And again, “Jesus expectation of the near end of the world turned out to be an illusion.”[6]

A modern day liberal whom I have challenged to a debate and who declined my invitation – Dale C. Allison Jr., states that “conservative critics’ need to “acknowledge the humiliating discovery that Jesus proclaimed the divinely wrought near end of the world.”[7]

The Lord has given these men over to their confusion. Some of these modern liberals still try to hang on to some kind or form of Christianity while others are simply but “scholarly” confused and have grown cynical. For example, Clayton Sullivan and Allison write,

“…Jesus, mistaken proclaimer of the Kingdom of God, carries a comforting implication: belief accuracy or doctrinal rectitude is not a prerequisite for divine approval”[8]

“The truth, however, is like God: we can run from it, but it is always there. I, myself do not know what to make of the eschatological Jesus. I am, for theological reasons, unedified by the thought that, in a matter so seemingly crucial, a lie [Futurism – Jesus’ coming is still “near”] has been walking around for two thousand years while the truth [Jesus failed] has only recently put on its shoes. But there it is.“[9]

The “truth” being the alleged discovery that this mistaken and purely…

“…human Jesus, is just like one of us, one who holds values that are very close to our ideological commitments, a Jesus who is a social reformer and who attacks patriarchal orders, a Jesus who, as a real human person, can stand as an example and inspiration for worthy causes.”[10]

We can sum all of these liberal quotes up with the understanding that Jesus was just a good moral teacher and “inspiration” to us all, but he wasn’t God like he claimed to be because He was “mistaken” and failed to usher in the kingdom and the end of the world when he promised. However, this purely “human Jesus” these men claim to trust in and have fashioned in their own minds to be a god of sorts, can’t save them from their sins and they won’t find any “comforting implications” in him in this life or in the next!

The error in view here is the conclusion that: 1) Christ did not come within the time frame He promised – the first century Apostolic generation and 2) therefore, Jesus was just a good moral teacher and not God like He claimed to be and is. In the articles I have written on my site I have refuted these blasphemous statements and vain imaginations of Christ being a “failure” and “mistaken” in His promises to return in the lifetime and generation of the apostles.”

***I have challenged Mr. Allison to a debate on if Jesus or the NT authors ever predicted the end of world history — and he has declined.

The common error that you and Allison and other liberals share, is that you both mistakenly think Jesus and the NT authors predicted the end and or the transformation of the physical universe as the focal point of eschatology — instead of the transformation of the OC age/world to the NC age/world taking place in the first century generation (later in this letter I will demonstrate using Reformed sources [sources you and MacArthur value] that Jesus nor the NT authors taught an end to world history or the burning and renewal of planet earth).

And to accept apocalyptic language in Matthew 24 and 1 Thessalonians 4 is NOT “taking a page from liberals”!  It’s called harmonizing (the analogy of faith) them properly through exegesis – you should try it sometime Phil!

MacArthur on Apostolic NT Time Texts & Mormons Apologetics Concerning Theirs  

As I mentioned at the beginning of this letter we didn’t have a problem letting a Mormon apologist (Ara I believe his name was) “step foot” on the campus of TMC.  One of the first and most confident “arguments” the class wanted to bring up against Mormonism and to our guest, was to confront all of the failed prophecies that Joseph Smith had made about an imminent Second Coming of Jesus to be fulfilled soon in his generation.  How could Smith and the LDS claim they had true prophets and apostles if they predicted the Second Coming would take place “soon” within their lifetimes and generation?  Apparently the class was not prepared for his response.  Let me summarize what he said and the theological point he was conveying:

“Why is this a big deal for you?  According to you, Jesus is the greatest Prophet of all and didn’t He predict that He would return in the lifetime and generation He was speaking to?  And doesn’t the NT prophets follow that pattern teaching a “soon” Second Coming?  If you and your college president (John MacArthur) believe Jesus wasn’t using “this generation” with such a “wooden literalness” and “soon,” “at hand,” “quickly,” “in a little while and will not delay” can be stretched out for thousands of years per Jesus and the NT prophets, then as Mormon’s we can approach what our prophets have said on imminence the same way.”

You could have heard a pin drop!  No one wanted to touch that so they moved on to other topics – archeology and the Book of Mormon etc…  Later that evening I had dinner with him and his wife and gave a much more Biblical apologetic to the response he gave to my class.  He was shocked to hear someone actually admit that Jesus did in fact promise to return in the lifetime of those He was speaking to and in their generation.  Nor was he prepared for my second affirmative – “and He was faithful to that promising coming to close the old covenant age in AD 70.”  He admitted to me that he had never been given this response and had no rebuttal.  I also assured him that sticking his head in the sand concerning what Joseph Smith and his early “Prophets” of the LDS taught about a failed Second Coming was just as bad as what my Christian brothers and sisters had done in the class earlier that day.  His “argument” only proved that their view and the Mormon view of prophetic imminence can’t be trusted — nothing more.  While mine exonerated Jesus’ and the NT prophet’s teaching and refuted his.

But MacArthur falls right into the hands of the Mormon “argument” because in his book seeking to refute Partial Preterism and Full Preterism on imminence, he admits the inspired NT authors, Apostles and Prophets taught an imminent Second Coming for their generation (Ibid., pp. 51ff.).  John is clueless and contradictory.  He wants an imminence that is imminent but then ends up having to embrace a “carrot and stick” eschatology that has to re-define real imminence.  Go figure!

The Sovereign Grace Full Preterist knows how to deal with the last days cults when in comes to alleged ongoing “prophetic” “revelations” – because since Christ has come, that office has “ceased” (cf. Dan. 9:24/1 Cor. 13:8-12).  MacArthur had no problem with letting a Mormon “heretic” “step foot” on TMC campus and engage and give “equal time” to him because he and the staff thought it would be an easy refutation.  Yet the truth of the matter is, MacAruthur’s views on imminence plays right into their hands, and if the Second Coming wasn’t fulfilled in the first century, then prophetic revelations continue.  Selah.

The Parallels Between You and the Resurrection of the Dead Deniers, Liberals & False Prophets

  1.  The resurrection of the dead deniers had a hard time reconciling how the OC dead would or could be raised with the NC dead (“in Christ”) — just like Dispensationalism has had a hard time reconciling the two.
  2. Liberals believe Jesus and the NT authors taught an end to world history and the passing and re-cretion of planet earth at Christ’s Second Coming — just like Futurists.
  3. It was the false prophets during Ezekiel’s day that angered God by trying to turn His “at hand” coming and judgments into “far off” ones.  And to promote a “hope deferred” judgment for the unrighteous and a salvation for the remnant believers is a “sick” doctrine indeed.  Your and Simon Kistemaker’s “carrot and stick” eschatology is nothing but a “sick” doctrine that portrays Christ as a failure and is close the failure of the Arminian Christ.
  4. Your spiritualizing away the imminent time texts of the NT is on par with Neo-orthodoxy and comes close to denying the inspiration and infallibility of the Scriptures (per some Reformed scholars such as Sproul and DeMar).
  5. If MacArthur doesn’t have to interpret “this generation,” “soon,” “quickly,” “at hand,” “in a very little while and will not delay,” etc… with a “wooden literalness,” then we have to let the last days cults such as the Mormons off the hook when they appeal to the same heretical justifications and reasoning!

Your Appeal to Acts 1:11

Context and analogy of faith – Acts 1:8-11 and Matthew 24:14-34 on the Second Coming and the Great Commission (GC).

Since you and MacArthur would see the GC of Matthew 24:14 and Acts 1:8 as the same GC needing to be fulfilled before Christ’s return in Matthew 24:27-30 and Acts 1″11 — and you run The Spurgeon Center website, let’s see what Spurgeon said of Matthew 24:14:

“Before Jerusalem was destroyed, “this gospel of the kingdom” was probably “preached in all the world” so far as it was then known…”

Of course the inspired Apostle Paul makes it clear that there was no “probably” about it — Cols. 1:5-6, 23; Rms. 10:18; 1625-26 (click on chart).

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Contextually “the end” that comes when the GC of Matthew 24:14 is fulfilled, is “the end” of “the [OC] age” of which the Temple they were looking at represented, and not the end of world history or the end of the NC age which the Bible teaches “has no end” (Ephs. 3:20-21).

Let me address your appeal and assumptions regarding Acts 1:11 by starting with the GC of verse 8.  Your friend at Ligonier Ministries Keith Mathison believes that when the GC of Acts 1:8 is fulfilled is when the coming of Christ in Acts 1:11 is fulfilled.  I take no issue with that.  But of course the problem is that you and MacArthur would see the GC of Matthew 24:14 as being the same GC of Acts 1:8 and Sproul and Mathison would appeal to the Greek of Romans 10:18 to support Matthew 24:14 was fulfilled prior to AD 70.  But the fact of the matter is, that Romans 10:18 also proves Acts 1:8 was fulfilled prior to AD 70 as well:

Prophecy – Greek Ge Fulfillment – Greek Ge
“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.” [Gk. ge] (Acts 1:8) “But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed: ‘Their sound has gone out to all the earth/land [Gk. ge], and their words to the ends of the world.’” (Rom. 10:18)
One def. of ge – “The then known lands, regions, territories, countries etc…”
1.  In Jerusalem 1.  Acts 2 – Jews
2.  And Samaria 2.  Acts 8 – Samaritans
3.  In all Judea 3.  Acts 10 – God-fearers
4.  To the earth/land 4.  Acts 19 – the Gentiles

Your Postmillennialist friends have no problem quoting Romans 10:18 to demonstrate how the GC of Matthew 24:14 was fulfilled by AD 70 because Paul uses the same Greek word oikumene (“has gone out to the ends of the world”). Yet, Paul in Romans 10:18 also uses the Greek word ge (“has gone out into all the earth”).  Therefore, if the Greek of Romans 10:18 can be applied to the GC of Matthew 24:14 — being fulfilled in AD 70, then the Greek of Romans 10:18 can also be applied to the GC of Acts 1:8 as being fulfilled by AD 70.

Jews from “every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:4-5) were saved and empowered by the Holy Spirit to go fulfill the GC of Acts 1:8 to “the end of the earth/land” of the Roman Empire.  As R.C. Sproul pointed out in his lecture at the Strange Fire Conference — the book of Acts describes four Pentecost events based upon Acts 1:8.  Since that is the case, the book of Acts maps out the success of the GC of Acts 1:8  — thus showing how the sign of the GC was being fulfilled and giving Paul his imminent expectation of the resurrection (Acts 24:15YLT).  Just a side note — If Sproul would be consistent and courageous on the “last days” of Acts 2 and the GC and coming of Christ in Acts 1 being fulfilled in AD 70, he would have a more exegetical refutation of the Charismatic Chaos infecting the Church today.

Keith Mathison connecting the GC with the the timing of the coming of Christ in Acts 1:8, 11 writes:

“The time frame (of Christ’s Second Coming) is hinted at in the preceding context. The disciples are given a commission to be Christ’s witnesses “in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The implication is that Christ’s visible return will follow the completion of the mission to the remotest part of the earth.” (Postmillennialism, 117).

According to Mathison in the above quote, when the Great Commission in verse 8 is fulfilled, then the Second Coming of verse 11 will occur.  Is this not what we see in the Olivet Discourse – the gospel must first be preached to all the nations and throughout the world before the Coming of Christ can be fulfilled?  There is NO exegetical evidence that the GC and coming of Christ in Acts 1-2 is any different from that of Jesus’ teaching in the OD.   Postmillennialism’s contention that there are two Great Commissions given in the New Testament—one fulfilled before AD 70 and another that will be fulfilled before the allegedly yet-future Second (Third) Coming—is altogether arbitrary.

The analogy of faith – Acts 1-2 and the Olivet Discourse

The Olivet Discourse Acts 1-2
1. Only the Father has authority and knows the day and hour of the Kingdom’s arrival (Lk. 17:20-37; Lk. 21:27-32; Mt. 24:36). 1. Only the Father has authority and knows the time and dates of the kingdom’s arrival (Acts 1:3-7).
2.  The Holy Spirit (& charismata) would be given to boldly fulfill the G.C. (cf. Mt. 10:17-23; Mrk. 13:10-13) 2. The Holy Spirit (charismata) would be given to boldly fulfill the G.C. (Acts 1:4-8).
3. Jesus would come from heaven upon His glory cloud in their generation (cf. Mt. 24:14-34). 3. Jesus would come from heaven upon His glory cloud in their generation (cf. Acts 1:11; 2:20-21–40).

NOW Let’s Look at Acts 1:9-11 

Phil you and Postmillennialists such as Keith Mathison insist that Jesus’ physical body was seen for some period of time as He ascended into the sky. However, verse nine simply says, “He was lifted up, and a cloud received Him from their eyes.” Jesus was certainly seen just before He was “lifted up” (Acts 1:9).  But it is not at all certain that He was directly seen as He ascended into the sky.

In verse 11, the disciples were told that Jesus would come in the manner that they had seen Him enter heaven (the sky). The continuity (or similarity) of Him coming as He had entered heaven is found in the fact that He would come in the heavenly glory-cloud of His Father (Matt. 16:27). Jesus was not physically seen after He was received into the glory-cloud. It was while He was hidden from sight in that cloud that He was indirectly seen entering the sky.  A son can “see his father” as his fathers plane is taking off the runway and off into the sky, without directly physically seeing his father’s body.  In seeing the plane (which contains his father and the other passengers), he can still correctly say, “There’s dad, and there he goes.”  And He was to come in like manner.  Therefore, He would not be physically or directly seen when He came “in like manner,” in the cloud, to indwell His church in the end of the old covenant age (Luke 17:20–37; John 14:2–3, 23).

The phrase “in like manner” simply means “in a similar way” – not exactly the same way (which seem to be how most falsely interpret the passage).  Jesus didn’t ascend riding on a horse with a sword proceeding from His mouth did He?  Did “every eye” on the planet earth see Him leave?  “The exact same way” argument offered by hyper-literalists self-emplodes upon itself.

Postmillennialists such as Mathison are not correct when they say that Jesus was going to come back in the same way that He “departed.” The Scriptures say that Jesus would come in the same way He had entered the sky. He entered the sky hidden from literal eye sight in the cloud of God’s glory.

Here is the order of events:

1. As they looked, He was taken up (Acts 1:9).

2. A cloud received Him from their eyes (Acts 1:9).

These first two events could very well have happened simultaneously. As Mathison himself admits, the verse could be translated, “He was lifted up; that is, a cloud received Him out of their sight.” (From Age to Age, 459).  It is a very real possibility that Jesus was instantly hidden in the cloud at the moment His feet left the earth.

3. Then the disciples saw Him going into the sky. That is, they looked intently into the sky as He was ascending in the cloud (Acts 1:10–11).

In the Old Testament, God was never literally or directly seen coming in His glory when He judged or saved Israel and other nations. Jesus was not literally seen again after He entered the cloud of God’s glory. He was “taken up in glory” (1 Tim. 3:16) and He would come in glory as the Ancient of Days (Dan. 7:13-14 OG LXX).

The Lord God had become flesh. John bore testimony to the fact that looking at and touching Jesus was to look at and touch God Himself (John 1:14; 1 John 1:1). God was physically seen in the flesh, but this was temporary for the second person of the Godhead (Heb. 5:7), even as He had been born into and under the old covenant system with its temporal types and shadows (Gal. 4:4; Rom. 5–8; 2 Cor. 3; Heb. 8:13).  Though Jesus is no longer in the flesh, He forever retains His human nature. He is forever Man, even as the saints in heaven today, who are no longer in their physical bodies, are still human/man by nature. Neither the Son of Man nor those who are in Him, whether in heaven or on earth, are “nonhuman” as some futurists theorize.

Ironically, the point of the question, “Why do you stand here looking into the sky,” was that Jesus was not going to return to His physical form. It was futile for the disciples to long for Jesus to return to the earthly form He had taken when He was born of Mary. In His ascension, Jesus had returned to His pre-incarnate glory. The question of the two men was rhetorical, and it meant, “There is no use in standing here longing for Jesus to return to you and to be as He was in the days of His flesh. He will come, but He will come in the manner you saw Him enter heaven—hidden from physical eyes in the cloud of the Father’s glory.”

We agree with the majority of commentators and cross reference systems which see the in-like-manner coming of Jesus in Acts 1:11 as being parallel with the coming of Jesus on or in the cloud(s) in Matthew 16:27–28, 24:30–31, 26:64–68; Luke 21:27, and Revelation 1:7. Mathison and Gentry, however, wrench Acts 1:11 from those Scriptures. They admit that Christ was figuratively “seen” (perceived, understood) at a figurative “coming” in/on the clouds in AD 70, but they deny that this was the fulfillment of Acts 1:11.

This brings us to another problem. Mathison writes of Matthew 24:30 in his book Postmillennialism:

. . . [T]he “coming” of the Son of Man is His coming in judgment upon Jerusalem (see vv. 23–28), which is intimately connected with His ascension to the right hand of God (cf. Dan. 7:13–14). (Keith A. Mathison, Postmillennialism: An Eschatology of Hope (Phillipsburg, NJ: 1999), 114).

Later, in WSTTB, Mathison goes further and identifies the Ascension with the coming of Christ in AD 70:

. . . [W]hen [Jesus] makes reference to “the coming of the Son of Man,” . . . He may have been referring . . . to his ascension . . . and the judgment on Jerusalem. . . . ” (182, emphasis added)

For Mathison, Christ’s “coming” in Daniel 7:13–14 is somehow both a literal, visible “going up” in a literal cloud in about AD 30 and a figurative “coming” to Jerusalem from heaven in figurative clouds in AD 70. The confusion inherent in this position is plain enough. Mathison says that “the coming of the Son of Man” in Daniel 7:13– 14 is a reference to the Ascension. But then Mathison says that when Jesus used the term, He was referring to the Ascension and to the destruction of Jerusalem. Yet there is not one instance where Jesus spoke of the coming of the Son of Man where it can be taken to be a reference to His Ascension. In every case, it is His coming to earth in judgment and salvation. But this is only the tip of the Iceberg of Confusion.

Even though Mathison says that Jesus’ “coming” in AD 70 was “intimately connected with His ascension,” and even though Mathison says that both the Ascension and His coming in judgment in AD 70 are equally “the coming of the Son of Man,” and even though Mathison admits that both events were with a cloud/clouds and in the glory of the Father, and that both events were seen (Acts 1:11; Matt. 26:64), Mathison nevertheless maintains that Jesus’ “coming” in AD 70 was not the “in-like-manner” coming promised in Acts 1:11. Mathison’s position is an ineffable tangle of exegetical double vision, contradiction, and consummate confusion.
Phil, do your professors who teach hermeneutics ever tell their students to read Milton Terry’s classic and orthodox book on the subject?  Would you not allow Milton Terry to “step foot” on your campuses to lecture and answer questions to your students in a class on hermeneutics?  Are the publishers that have published his understanding that Acts 1:11 was fulfilled in AD 70 all “heretical” and equally guilty for publishing him?  Partial Preterist Milton Terry, took a more lucid, biblical approach than you, MacArthur, Sproul and Mathison seeing Matthew 24:30–31, 34; Acts 1:11; and Revelation 1:7 as all being ONE Second Coming event (like you and MacArthur) but fulfilled in the fall of Jerusalem (like Sproul nd Mathison – who at least see Rev. 1:7 and Mt. 24:30–25:31 as fulfilled AD 70) in the end of the OC age:

“Wha51JXUjtn4ML._AC_US436_QL65_tever the real nature of the parousia, as contemplated in this prophetic discourse, our Lord unmistakably associates it with the destruction of the temple and city, which he represents as the signal termination of the pre-Messianic age. The coming on clouds, the darkening of the heavens, the collapse of elements, are, as we have shown above, familiar forms of apocalyptic language, appropriated from the Hebrew prophets.

Acts i, 11, is often cited to show that Christ’s coming must needs be spectacular, “in like manner as ye beheld him going into the heaven.” But (1) in the only other three places where [“in like manner”] occurs, it points to a general concept rather than the particular form of its actuality. Thus, in Acts vii, 28, it is not some particular manner in which Moses killed the Egyptian that is notable, but rather the certain fact of it. In 2 Tim. iii, 8, it is likewise the fact of strenuous opposition rather than the special manner in which Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses. And in Matt. xxiii, 37, and Luke xiii, 34, it is the general thought of protection rather than the visible manner of a mother bird that is intended. Again (2), if Jesus did not come in that generation, and immediately after the great tribulation that attended the fall of Jerusalem, his words in Matt. xvi, 27, 28, xxiv, 29, and parallel passages are in the highest degree misleading. (3) To make the one statement of the angel in Acts i, 11, override all the sayings of Jesus on the samesubject and control their meaning is a very one-sided method of biblical interpretation. But all the angel’s words necessarily mean is that as Jesus has ascended into heaven so he will come from heaven. And this main thought agrees with the language of Jesus and the prophets.” (Milton S. Terry, A Study of the Most Notable Revelations of God and of Christ (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 246-247).

I would also add that there are some Postmillennial Partial Preterists such as author Mike Bull whom also “accept the testimony of the Scriptures” and follow Terry’s view and believe the coming of the Christ in Acts 1:11; Matthew 24-25 and Revelation 1:7 are various descriptions of His ONE Coming and was fulfilled in AD 70.

Premise #1:  The “in like manner” coming of Christ and His kingdom in Acts 1:6, 11 is fulfilled when the G.C. of verse 8 is fulfilled (Mathison agrees with Full Preterism)

Premise #2:  The gospel was preached and “went out to all the earth” in Paul’s day (Rms. 10:18) and the spiritual NC kingdom arrived at Christ’s coming in the AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” (Lk. 21:27-32; Lk. 17:20-37; Mt. 24:27-30; 25:31) (Mathison agrees with Full Preterism).

Premise #3:  But the coming of Christ and arrival of the kingdom in Acts 1:6-11 is the same event as described by Christ in Luke 21:27-31 and Matthew 24:30, 25:31 (you and MacArthur agree with Full Preterism)

Conclusion/Full Preterist Synthesis “Reformed and always reforming”:  The “in like manner” coming of Christ and His kingdom in Acts 1:6, 11 was fulfilled in AD 70 when the gospel was preached and “went out to all the earth” (Gk. ge – Acts 1:8/Rms. 10:18) as a sign just prior to AD 70.

Jesus was “lifted up” and hidden from sight in the cloud of glory. He ascended into the sky hidden in the cloud, as His disciples watched. He was to come in the same manner in which the disciples saw Him enter into the sky: hidden in the cloud of the glory of His Father. He was “seen” in that Day in the same way that Yahweh was “seen” whenever He came on a cloud to judge nations in the Old Testament.

This was the one and only future coming of Christ that was promised in the New Testament. Therefore, Christ returned in AD 70. The analogy of Scripture confirms this interpretation. It does not confirm Mathison’s, which rips Acts 1:9–11 from its immediate and broader New Testament contexts. We agree with Terry’s comments on Matthew 24:30–31, 34; Acts 1:11; and Revelation 1:7. “We accept upon the testimony of the Scriptures” that Christ returned on/in a cloud/clouds in that generation. (Milton S. Terry, Biblical Hermeneutic (Grand Rapids, MI:  Zondervan, 1990), 468, n.1 (emphases added).

Since MacArthur likes Simon Kistemaker so much, let me refer you to my response to him on Jesus’ description in Revelation 1 as allegedly proving Jesus is still in His physical body.

Honey, I Shrunk the Angels – Jesus Depicted in Revelation & Simon Kistemaker

Although an Amillennialist, Simon Kistemaker argues that Jesus’ physical resurrection body is eternal and that it now literally “sits on God’s throne” (WSTTB?, 240). Kistemaker attempts to prove this claim by using Revelation 1:13–16. He points out that in this passage Jesus is described as wearing a robe that reaches down to his feet, and as having a golden sash around his chest, and a head with white hair, and blazing eyes, and feet as bronze, and a mouth, and a human voice, and a right hand, and a face as radiant as the sun (240, 252).

Kistemaker interprets the book of Revelation in a highly symbolic manner, even more symbolically than “hyper-preterists” interpret it at times. Yet he is woodenly literal in the above passage. But more to the point, he neglects to mention that the above passage also says that Jesus was holding “the angels of the seven churches” (the “seven stars”) in his (supposedly literal) hand (Rev. 1:16, 20). Kistemaker does not explain why those seven angels were reduced in size so that they could fit in Jesus’ physical hand. (Nor does Kistemaker tell us how many angels can fit on the head of a pin.)

Kistemaker also does not mention that Jesus is depicted here as having a sharp two-edged sword coming out of His supposedly literal mouth (Rev. 2:16), and that in Revelation 19:11, He is depicted as riding on a horse in the sky, and that in Revelation 19:12 He has “many crowns” on His head, and that in Revelation 19:13 He is wearing a bloody robe.

To make matters worse, note the contradiction between Kistemaker in WSTTB, and Kistemaker in his New Testament Commentary on Revelation:

Kistemaker, WSTTB: “Jesus’ appearance to John at Patmos was not spiritual, but physical, for John saw his head, face, mouth, eyes, hair, chest, right hand, and feet ([Rev.] 1:13–16) (252)

Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary: “[Rev. 1:16] lists three physical features [of Jesus]: his right hand, his mouth, and his face. These features ought to be understood not literally but symbolically. . . ” (Simon J. Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary, Exposition of the Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 2001; fourth printing 2007), 97).

Kistemaker’s commentary was first printed in 2001, and was most recently reprinted in 2007. So we have Kistemaker saying that the description of Jesus in Revelation 1:16 was symbolic/spiritual in 2001, then saying it was physical/literal in 2004 (WSTTB), then back to saying it was symbolic/spiritual in 2007. As with Mathison, Kistemaker must temporarily change his preterist exegeses when he is attempting, in vain, to refute full preterism.

Addressing Your Appeal to Hymenaeus and Philetus 2 Timothy 2:17-18

Apparently you are at odds with your buddy Keith Mathison who concedes that 2 Timothy 2:18 “cannot” be used even to “criticize” preterists, much less anathematize them, because according to Mathison, it may very well be that “the resurrection” of 2 Timothy 2:18 truly did take place in AD 70:

. . . [2 Timothy 2:1–18] cannot be used to criticize hyper-preterism until . . . [it can be] demonstrated from other texts that nothing of the sort occurred in A.D. 70. (194)

This is quite an admission from a man who says that hyper-preterism is “a much different religion” than Christianity (213). What Bible verses can Mathison use, other than 2 Timothy 2:17–18, to brand preterism as a different religion? Answer: There are no other verses. Without 2 Timothy 2:17–18, Mathison doesn’t have a biblical leg to stand on in his condemnation of preterists. All he has are the baseless words of those, like himself, who have set themselves up to condemn us based solely on the assumption that our rejection of futurism is a damnable error.

We agree with Mathison that 2 Timothy 2:17–18 cannot be used to criticize us. But we must go further than this. Far from being an anti-preterist passage, 2 Timothy 2:17–18 is actually a condemnation of the implications of futurism. Allow me to explain. First of all, Hymenaeus and Philetus were Judaizers. They were of a class of deceivers who taught Jewish “myths” and “genealogies” (1 Tim. 1:4; Titus 1:4), and were self-appointed “teachers of the Law” (1 Tim. 1:7). They taught believers to abstain from foods (1 Tim. 4:3), no doubt using the Levitical dietary laws as a basis of their teaching.

It is because Hymenaeus and Philetus were Judaizers that Paul compared them to “Jannes and Jambres” (2 Tim. 3:8). According to ancient historians, Jannes and Jambres were Egyptian magicians who challenged Moses’ authority in Egypt. Like Jannes and Jambres, Hymenaeus and Philetus were teaching the strange doctrines of “Egypt” (Rev. 11:8), and were challenging Paul’s gospel-authority, attempting to deceive Christians into believing that God’s new wine (the new covenant land of promise) could be contained within the old, “Egyptian” wineskins of the old covenant world.

Likewise in 2 Timothy 2:19, Paul connects Hymenaeus and Philetus to the rebellion of Korah in Numbers 16:5, 26. (William Hendriksen; Simon J. Kistemaker: New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Pastoral Epistles (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1953–2001), 268).  Korah had led hundreds of the sons of Israel to challenge Moses’ authority. As God had destroyed Korah and his followers in the wilderness, so God was “about to judge” (2 Timothy 4:1) and destroy the Judaizers Hymenaeus and Philetus and others like them (cf. Heb. 3:16–19).

According to the teaching of Hymenaeus and Philetus, because Jerusalem and the temple still stood (in about AD 67) after the resurrection had allegedly already taken place, it irresistibly followed that “the sons according to the flesh” were now the heirs of the eternal kingdom and that Paul’s Jew-Gentile gospel of grace was a lie. The blasphemous error of Hymenaeus and Philetus was that the world of the Mosaic covenant would remain forever established after the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets had taken place and the new heavens and new earth (“the resurrection”) had arrived.

This “Hymenaean” heresy is the diametric opposite of preterism. According to preterism, the old covenant came to an eternal and irrevocable termination in “the resurrection,” when all things were fulfilled in AD 70. There is absolutely no theological connection between preterism and Hymenaeus’ blasphemous lie of an everlasting “ministration of death.”

However, there is a clear connection between the heresy of Hymenaeus and the implications of futurism: If “the Law and the Prophets” are not fulfilled today, and “heaven and earth” have not passed away, and the jots and tittles of the Law have not passed away, and all things are not yet fulfilled, as futurism says, then logically and scripturally, the Law of Moses remains unfulfilled and “imposed” to this day (Matt. 5:17–19; Heb. 8:13; 9:10). This implication of futurism is exactly what the Judaizers, Hymenaeus and Philetus, taught when they said the resurrection was already past in AD 67.

Mathison and Ligonier cannot use this passage to condemn Full Preterists because they acknowledge that there was a SPIRITUAL coming OR PAROUSIA of Christ and other Reformed Partial Preterists are admitting there was a SPIRITUAL RESURRECTION of the dead that occurred in AD 70 per Daniel 12:2 and Revelation 20 (Kenneth Gentry and James Jordan).  We don’t see Paul’s apologetics against those that believed the Day of the Lord and resurrection had “already” taken place (prior to AD 70) as “How can anyone believe this, OBVIOUSLY we are all still here, the graveyards are still full and the planet earth hasn’t been burned up.”  If Paul was the Futurist that you are Phil, we would expect Paul to use this kind of reasoning and apologetic.  But because he was a Full Preterist whom recognized there was a spiritual coming of Christ and an “about to be” resurrection of the dead at the end of the OC age coming, his apologetic is different than yours.  Selah.

C.H. Spurgeon v. Phil Johnson/MacArthur on Preterist Scholarship

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I see you run or are affiliated with The Spurgeon Archive or The Spurgeon Center websites.  While not a Full Preterist, this was Spurgeon’s view of Christians engaging with Preterists that believe Christ’s one and “soon” Second Coming was fulfilled in AD 70 and what he thought of their arguments, exegesis and research:

“[Russell’s exegesis and book]…has so much truth in it, and throws so much new light upon obscure portions of the Scriptures, and is accompanied with so much critical research, and close reasoning, that it can be injurious to none and may be profitable to all.”  (Spurgeon’s comments of James Stuart Russell’s book, “The Parousia,” back cover, Baker Book House, third printing, 1990 edition).

Obviously someone you and MacArthur esteem didn’t take the cowardly bubble approach you have taken.  But you have gone even further to misrepresent us.  Sad indeed.  Sounds like Spurgeon would have said the same of my/our book, House Divided Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology… which is in your libraries.  I suggest you get someone from your seminary to actually attempt a refutation since the Reformed authors of WSTTB? are not able to respond because their views actually formed Full Preterism!  The book is said by John L. Bray to be the best defense of Preterism to date.  You might try engaging with a book like ours instead of cherry-picking Internet articles from a new Preterist in the 90’s.  Just a thought Phil.

C.H. Spurgeon’s Confusion Over the Passing of the Old Covenant Heavens and Earth and the arrival of the New Covenant Heavens and Earth

C.H. Spurgeon also had some interesting things to say about the Old Covenant being described in terms of being a “heavens and earth” that passed away and the gospel dispensation today being a New Heavens and Earth.  Spurgeon was a Premillennialist (hyper-literal “heretic” per the early Reformed creeds), yet was drawn to a Preterist hermeneutic on some very key texts and concepts.  He was very inconsistent in his use of these terms and didn’t reconcile them very well.  I’ll try and reconcile this confusion and that of R.C. Spoul’s over this in a bit.

In a sermon on Isaiah 65:17-19 Spurgeon wrote the following,

“Did you ever regret the absence of the burnt-offering, or the red heifer, of any one of the sacrifices and rites of the Jews? Did you ever pine for the feast of tabernacle, or the dedication? No, because, though these were like the Old Heavens and Earth to the Jewish believers, they have passed away, and we now live under a New Heavens and a New Earth, so far as the dispensation of divine teaching is concerned. The substance is come, and the shadow has gone: and we do not remember it.” (C.H. Spurgeon, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, vol. xxxvii, p. 354).

We know that Spurgeon read his contemporary James Stuart Russell’s book who did take the OC system as the Old Heavens and Earth and the NC to be the New Heavens and Earth.  We also know that Russell quoted Reformed theologians that Spurgeon read that had the same concepts.  Therefore, I think it should be clear that Spurgeon was confused and giving passages double or multiple senses where there was no exegetical warrant to do so.

But first let’s go to a source John MacArthur values in order to identify that the OC system was described as a creation of the heavens and earth.  MacArthur says the following of The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge:

“The one book, apart from the Bible itself, that I value most in my studies.”

And yet the book agrees with Full Preterists such as myself and men such as John Owen on the particular issues that the Old Covenant system was a “heavens and earth” created at the first exodus.  Of Isaiah 51:15-16 it informs us:

“The heavens. ‘Heaven’ and ‘earth’ are here put by symbolic language for a political universe. That is, that I might make those who were but scattered persons and slaves in Egypt before, a kingdom and polity, to be governed by their own laws and magistrates.” (Jerome Smith, The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge Revised and Expanded, Thomas Nelson Publishers, p. 802).

Unknown-2Reformed theologians such as John Owen and John Lightfoot along with many others, correctly understood the “elements” here not as the rocks and tress of the planet earth, but of the old-covenant law and the “Day of the Lord” occurring in AD 70.  John Owen in his sermon on 2 Peter 3 also describes Isaiah 51:15-16 as the Old Covenant system except unlike Spurgeon he correctly and clearly states it passed away and her “elements” burned up in AD 70.  Since the foundation to the promise of 2 Peter 3 is Isaiah 65, it is relevant to what Spurgeon would have been reading on the subject.  Please note that he says the passing and burning of the first heavens and earth is “ONLY” referring to the OC system and the New is only the gospel of the NC dispensation:

“I shall only observe, by the way, not to look into the difficulties of these verses, that I not be too long detained from my principal intendment, – that the apostle makes a distribution of the word into heaven and earth, and saith, they ‘were destroyed with water, and perished: We know that neither the fabric or substance of the one or other was destroyed, but only men that lived on the earth; and the apostle tells us, verse 5, of the heavens and earth that were then, and were destroyed by water, distinct from the heavens and the earth that were now, and were to be consumed by fire; and yet, as to the visible fabric of heaven and earth, they were the same both before the flood and in the apostle’s time, and continue so to this day; when yet it is certain that the heavens and earth whereof he speaks were to be destroyed and consumed by fire in that generation. We must, then, for the clearing our foundation, a little consider what the apostle intends by `the heavens and the earth’ in these two places:

“1. It is certain, that what the apostle intends by the ‘world,’ with its heavens and earth, verses 5, 6, which was destroyed by water; the same or somewhat of that kind, he intends by ‘the heavens and the earth’ that were to be consumed and destroyed by fire, verse 7. Otherwise there would be no coherence in the apostle’s discourse, nor any kind of argument, but a mere fallacy of words.

“2. It is certain, that by the flood, the world, or the fabric of heaven and earth, was not destroyed, but only the inhabitants of the world; and therefore the destruction intimated to succeed by fire, is not of the substance of the heavens and the earth, which shall not be consumed until the last day, but of persons or men living in the world.

“3. Then we must consider in what sense men living in the world are said to be the ‘world,’ and the ‘heavens and earth’ of it. I shall only insist on one instance to this purpose, among the many that may be produced, Isa. 51. 15, 16. The time when the work here mentioned, of planting the heavens, and laying the foundation of the earth, was performed by God, was when he ‘divided the sea,’ verse 15, and gave the law, verse 16, and said to Zion, ‘Thou art my people,” – that is, when he took the children of Israel out of Egypt, and formed them in the wilderness into a church and state. Then he planted the heavens, and laid the foundation of the earth, – made the new world; that is, brought forth order, and government, and beauty, from the confusion wherein before they were. This is the planting of the heavens, and laying the foundation of the earth in the world. And hence it is, that when mention is made of the destruction of a state and government, it is in that language that seems to set forth the end of the world. So Isa. xxxiv. 4; which is yet but the destruction of the state of Edom. The like also is affirmed of the Roman empire, Rev. vi. 14; which the Jews constantly affirm to be intended by Edom in the prophets. And in our Saviour Christ’s prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem, Matt. xxiv., he sets it out by expressions of the same importance. It is evident, then, that in the prophetical idiom and manner of speech, by ‘heavens’ and ‘earth,’ the civil and religious state and combination of men in the world, and the men of them, are often understood. So were the heavens and earth that world which was then destroyed by the flood.

“4. On this foundation I affirm, that the heavens and earth here intended in this prophecy of Peter, the coming of the Lord, the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men, mentioned in the destruction of that heaven and earth, do all of them relate, not to the last and final judgment of the world, but to that utter desolation and destruction that was to be made of the Judaical church and state; for which I shall offer these two reasons, of many that might be insisted on from the text: –

“(1.) Because whatever is here mentioned was to have its peculiar influence on the men of that generation. He speaks of that wherein both the profane scoffer and the those scoffed at were concerned, and that as Jews; – some of them believing, others opposing the faith. Now, there was no particular concernment of that generation in that sin, nor in that scoffing, as to the day of judgment in general; but there was a peculiar relief for the one and a peculiar dread for the other at hand, in the destruction of the Jewish nation; and besides, an ample testimony, both to the one and the other, of the power and dominion of the Lord Jesus Christ – which was the thing in question between them.

“(2.) Peter tells them, that, after the destruction and judgment that he speaks of, verse 13, ‘We, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth,’ etc. They had this expectation. But what is that promise? where may we find it? Why, we have it in the very words and letter, Isa. Ixv. 17. Now, when shall this be that God will create these ‘new heavens and new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness?’ Saith Peter, ‘It shall be after the coming of the Lord, after that judgment and destruction of ungodly men, who obey not the gospel, that I foretell.’ But now it is evident, from this place of Isaiah, with chap. lxvi., 21, 22, that this is a prophecy of gospel times ONLY; and that the planting of these new heavens is NOTHING BUT the creation of gospel ordinances, to endure forever. The same thing is so expressed, Heb. xii. 26-28.

“First, There is the foundation of the apostle’s inference and exhortation… ‘Seeing that I have evinced that all these things, however precious they seem, or what value soever any put upon them, shall be dissolved, – that is, destroyed; and that in that dreadful and fearful manner before mentioned, – in a way of judgment, wrath, and vengeance, by fire and sword; – let others mock at the threats of Christ’s coming. – he will come, he will not tarry; and then the heavens and earth that God himself planted, – the sun, moon, and stars of the Judaical polity and church, – the whole old world of worship and worshippers, that stand out in their obstinacy against the Lord Christ, – shall be sensibly dissolved and destroyed. This, we know, shall be the end of these things, and that shortly.’ ”

And more from Owen:

“1. Because in every such providential alteration or dissolution of things on the account of Christ and his church, there is a peculiar coming of Christ himself. He cometh into the world for the work he hath to do; he cometh among his own to fulfil his pleasure among them. Hence such works are called ‘his coming;’ and ‘the coming of his day.’ Thus James exhorts these very Jews to whom Peter here writes, with reference to the same things, James v. 7-9, ‘Be patient unto the coming of the Lord.’ But how could that generation extend their patience to the day of judgment? ‘Nay,’ saith he, ‘that is not the work I design, but his coming to take vengeance on his stubborn adversaries;’ which he saith, verse 8, ‘draweth nigh,’ is even at hand; yea., Christ, ‘the judge, standeth before the door,’ verse 9, ‘ready to enter;’ – which also he did within a few years. So upon or in the destruction of Jerusalem (the same work), Luke xxi. 27, the Son of man is said to ‘come in a cloud, with power and great glory;’ – and they that escape in that desolation are said to ‘stand before the Son of man,’ verse 36. So, in the ruin and destruction of the Roman empire, on the account of their persecution, it is said that ‘the day of the wrath of the Lamb was come; Rev. vi. 16, 17.” (John Owen, The Works of John Owen, Banner of Truth pub., Vol. 9 see pp. 132-135, 138-139, MJS emphasis added).

And John Lightfoot agrees.  Notice what he says of Christ’s coming in Matthew 24 and 2 Peter 3 and the de-creation and new creation language:

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“That the destruction of Jerusalem is very frequently expressed in Scripture as if it were the destruction of the whole world, Deut. xxxii. 22; ‘A fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell’ (the discourse there is about the wrath of God consuming that people; see ver. 20, 21), ‘and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains’ Jer. iv. 23; ‘I beheld the earth, and lo, it was without form and void; and the heavens, and they had no light; The discourse there also is concerning the destruction of that nation, Isa. lxv. 17; ‘Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered,’ And more passages of this sort among the prophets. According to this sense, Christ speaks in this place; and Peter speaks in his Second Epistle, third chapter; and John, in the sixth of the Revelation; and Paul, 2 Cor. v. 17.”

More of Lightfoot on this subject:

“With the same reference it is, that the times and state of things immediately following the destruction of Jerusalem are called ‘a new creation,’ ‘new heavens,’ and ‘a new earth,’ Isa. lxv. 17; `Behold, I create a new heaven and a new earth’ When should that be? Read the whole chapter; and you will find the Jews rejected and cut off; and from that time is that new creation of the evangelical world among the Gentiles.

“Compare 2 Cor. v. 17 and Rev. xxi. 1, 2; where, the old Jerusalem being cut off and destroyed, a new one succeeds; and new heavens and a new earth are created.

“2 Pet. iii. 13: `We, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth’ The heavens and the earth of the Jewish church and commonwealth must be all on fire, and the Mosaic elements burnt up; but we, according to the promise made to us by Isaiah the prophet, when all these are consumed, look for the new creation of the evangelical state.”

“That the destruction of Jerusalem and the whole Jewish state is described as if the whole frame of this world were to be dissolved. Nor is it strange, when God destroyed his habitation and city, places once so dear to him, with so direful and sad an overthrow; his own people, whom he accounted of as much or more than the whole world beside, by so dreadful and amazing plagues. Matt. xxiv. 29, 30, `The sun shall be darkened,’ Then shall appear the `sign of the Son of man,’; which yet are said to fall out within that generation, ver. 34. 2 Pet. iii. 10, `The heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat,’. Compare with this Deut. xxxii. 22, Heb. xii. 26: and observe that by elements are understood the Mosaic elements, Gal. iv. 9, Coloss. ii. 20: and you will not doubt that St. Peter speaks ONLY of the conflagration of Jerusalem, the destruction of the nation, and the abolishing the dispensation of Moses.” (John Lightfoot, COMMENTARY ON THE NEW TESTAMENT FROM THE TALMUD AND HEBRAICA, Vol. 2, pp. 318-319; Vol. 3, p. 452-453, Hendrickson pub, 2003, MJS emphasis added).

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As I document in our book, House Divided Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology…pp. 116-123 Lightfoot didn’t see the physical planet as being in a process of “decay” or poetically “groaning” to be the subject matter in Romans 8 either!  He correctly understood the passage to be the “creation of men” groaning under sin.  Postmillennial Partial Preterists such as Gary DeMar concedes mello in Romans 8:18 YLT should be translated as “the glory ABOUT TO BE revealed in you…” and is referring to AD 70.  Therefore, contextually this allegedly “end of the planet” or physical “renewal of the planet” passage and “redemption of the body” was “about to be” fulfilled in AD 70 – at the “near” coming of the Lord when Satan was to be “crushed shortly” (cf. Rms. 13:11-12; 16:20) and has NOTHING to do with the Futurist or creedal concept.  Here is that material (HD, 116-123):

John Lightfoot associated the “earnest expectation of the creature”

and the “whole creation groaning” with the mind and heart of man, and interpreted this passage as having nothing to do with the planet Earth— not even poetically.

. . . [T]his vanity [or futility] is improperly applied to this vanishing, changeable, dying state of the [physical] creation. For vanity, doth not so much denote the vanishing condition of the outward state, as it doth the inward vanity and emptiness of the mind. The Romans to whom this apostle writes, knew well enough how many and how great predictions and promises it had pleased God to publish by his prophets, concerning gathering together and adopting sons to himself among the Gentiles: themanifestation and production of which sons, the whole Gentile world doth now wait for, as it were, with an out stretched neck.[1]

And again,

The Gentile world shall in time be delivered from the bondage of their sinful corruption, that is, the bondage of their lusts and vile affections, (under which it hath lain for so long a time,) into a noble liberty, such as the sons of God enjoy. If it be inquired how the Gentile world groaned and travailed in pain, let them who expound this of the fabric of the material world tell us how that groaneth and travaileth. They must needs own it to be a borrowed and allusive phrase…”.[2]

Lightfoot is on solid ground here citing 2 Peter 1:4; 2 Corinthians 11:3; and 1 Corinthians 15:33. Not only is there lexical evidence to interpret “vanity,” “corruption,” and “decay” as ethical and moral putrefaction in the heart and mind of man, but contextually the passage has nothing to do with hydrogen or oxygen or squirrels longing for a better day when they won’t get hit by cars.

“The sufferings of this present time.” As much as I can relate to R.C. Sproul Jr. losing his hair and gaining some weight around his midsection (WSTTB, ix), Paul’s mention of the “sufferings” and “the redemption of the body” have nothing to do with those kinds of issues. The context of the “groaning” of the first-century Christians can be found in the previous chapter. The sufferings Paul has in mind here were eschatological —the birth pains that were to precede Christ’s return in AD 70 (Matt. 24:8; Rom. 8:22). They had to do with the last days persecutions and with the saints of the universal church groaning under the tyranny of Sin and Condemnation under the Law.

For Paul, Sin had produced “death,” but not physical death. Contrary to Mathison’s assertions, “the body,” “death,” and “the flesh” in Romans 5–8 have nothing to do with the idea of men biologically dying as a result of Adam’s sin. Paul’s concern is with corporate-covenantal Death, as even some Reformed theologians teach.[3]   “Bondage,” according to the immediate context, had to do with groaning under the condemnation of the Law (cf. Rom. 7:2, 7, 15).

The “redemption” associated with the coming of the Son of Man in AD 70 entailed much more than a physical flight to the wilderness of Pella, as some commentators have proposed. Appealing to the principle of the analogy of Scripture, John Murray and other Reformed theologians understand Paul in Romans 8 to be speaking of the same “redemption” that Jesus discussed in the Olivet Discourse:

Now in Luke 21:28 . . . [t]his word ‘redemption’ (apolutrosin), when used with reference to the future, has a distinctly eschatological connotation, the final redemption, the consummation of the redemptive process (cf. Rom. 8:23; 1 Cor. 1:30; Eph. 1:14; 4:30). Hence analogy would again point to the eschatological complex of events.[4]

The following chart confirms that the “redemption” of Christ’s disciples in the first century in Luke 21:28 was the redemption of “the body” in Romans 8:18–23:

Romans 8

Olivet Discourse & Luke 17

 

Present sufferings (Rom. 8:17–18) Suffering to come (Matt. 24:9)
Receive and share in Christ’s glory (Rom. 8:17–18) Christ comes in glory (Matt. 24:30)
Glory will be “in” them (Rom. 8:18) Kingdom will be realized “within”at Christ’s return (Lk.17:21–37; 21:27–32)
Redemption and salvation – resurrection (Rom. 8:23–24; cf. 11:15–27; 13:11–12) Redemption and salvation – resurrection (Lk. 21:27–28; Matt. 24:13, 30–31/Matt. 13:39-43/Dan. 12:2-3)
Birth pains together (Rom. 8:22) Birth pains of the tribulation (Matt. 24:8)
This was “about to” take place (Rom. 8:18) This would all happen in their “this generation” (Matt. 24:34)

On page 200 of WSTTB, Mathison expresses willingness to concede that the imminence in Romans 13:11–12 was fulfilled in AD 70. The passage reads:

. . . it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is at hand. . . .

But The Reformation Study Bible, of which Mathison is an editor, harmonizes Romans 13:11 with Romans 8:23, correctly teaching that “salvation” in that verse is not merely deliverance from persecution (as Mathison theorizes in WSTTB): “salvation. Here in the sense of future, final redemption (8:23).”[1] The connection between these two passages is made even stronger when we allow the Greek word mello in Romans 8 to be translated the way it is predominately used in the New Testament:

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)

It is more than arbitrary for partial preterists such as Gentry to honor Young’s literal translation of melloin Revelation 1:19 when debating Dispensationalists and Amimmennialists, but then not honor it in Romans 8:18 when debating full preterists. Mello is used in the aorist infinitive in both verses. Gentry writes of mello in Revelation 1:19:

…this term means “be on the point of, be about to.” …According to Young’s Literal Translation of the Bible, Revelation 1:19 reads: “Write the things that thou hast seen, and the things that are, and the things that are about to come [mello] after these things.” The leading interlinear versions of the New Testament concur. This is surely the proper translation of the verse.[2]   …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 the Rev. 3:10.[3] Unfortunately, none of the major translators cited above translates Revelation 1:19 in a literal fashion.[4]

Where is Gentry’s disappointment when it comes to translators not translating Romans 8:18 by the same grammatical standard? It is nowhere to be found, even though there are two other Greek words of imminence (apokaradokia and apekdekomai — “eagerly waiting”) within the immediate context.

At least partial preterist Gary DeMar has tried to be more consistent with a proper translation of mello in Romans 8:18. Citing Robert Young’s Literal Translation of the Bible he writes:

“Whatever the glory is it was ‘about to be revealed’…”[5]

We appreciate the honesty on properly translating mello here as “about to be revealed,” but contextually there is no ambiguity as to what the imminent manifestation of this “glory” was — the liberation of creation from its groaning and bondage, the full adoption of the sons of God, and the “redemption of the body” (vss. 18-23).

Interestingly enough though, according to Gentry and Mathison one of the things that was “about to come after” John wrote Revelation 1:19 was the arrival of the New Jerusalem and New  Creation of Revelation 21:1ff. Mathison and Gentry tell us in their other works that the time texts in Revelation point to a near fulfillment of the passing of “the first heaven and earth.” They point out that Revelation 21:1 is referring to the passing of the old covenant “creation” in AD 70 and is a fulfillment of Isaiah 65–66. Gentry even says:

The absence of the sea (Rev. 21:1) speaks of harmony and peace within. In Scripture the sea often symbolizes discord and sin (13:1–2; cf. Isa. 8:7–8; 23:10; 57:20; Jer. 6:23; 46:7; Ezek. 9:10).  Christianity offers the opposite: peace with God and among humankind (Luke 2:14; Rom. 5:1; Eph. 2:12–18; Phil. 4:7, 9).

But then Mathison and Gentry assign an “expanded” meaning to 2 Peter 3, which discusses the same promises in Isaiah 65–66. They suggest that Peter is addressing the geological “elements” of the planet while the Apostle John, referencing the same Old Testament passage, is not.

This is not only arbitrary, it is amazing. If Gentry and Mathison can give prophetic New Testament passages “expanded” meanings to fit their eschatology, then they have surrendered their debate with Dispensationalists, who constantly employ this strategy to force their eschatology upon New Testament passages.

In Mathison’s section on the “Restoration of Creation” (195–197), he appeals to the literal and global beginnings of Genesis 1–3 to point out that preterists have interpreted “the end” in Romans 8 and in the rest of the New Testament in an inaccurate way. But Mathison should be open to considering the interpretations of Genesis 1–3 that are presented by some within the Reformed tradition and by other futurists.

Combined, authors such as Augustine, Milton Terry, David Snoke, Meredith Kline, and dispensationalist John Sailhamer teach the following:

  • Man was created a physical dying creature like all the plant and animal life around him.
  • The physics of the creation did not change after Adam.
  • Genesis 1–2 uses the Hebrew word eretz, which should be translated as “land” or “ground” and not [planet] “earth.”
  • God’s emphases in the early chapters of Genesis are not scientific but theological, emphasizing the origins of sin in the heart and man’s need for the Seed of the woman to redeem him from Sin.

As the theological emphasis in Genesis 1–2 is on the local land of Eden, which is both theologically and geographically tied to Israel’s Promised Land, so too is the emphasis of the New Testament on a Great Commission preached to the nations of Israel and to the Roman Empire with a judgment that would affect the nations of that world.

Both the localized and covenantal judgment in Eden and the one in AD 70 affected and continue to affect all humankind. The introduction of spiritual death (condemnation and alienation from God within the heart and conscience of man through Adam) was overcome by Christ’s death, resurrection, and indwelling presence in AD 70. All men and nations of the world are either inside the new Israel and New Jerusalem or outside her gates — as the gospel continues to bring healing and judgment to the nations today and forever (cf. Rev. 21–22:17).

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, Crispin 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; 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.”63 

DiscoursesAndSayings_SET

Reformed theologian John Brown not only stresses that the passing of “heaven and earth” in Matthew 5:18 is the OC system, but that those familiar with the OT should understand the phrase as such:

“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 [1852]), 1:170, MJS – emphasis added).

Like we saw with The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge, Owen and Lightfoot — those that are familiar with the OT Scriptures have and continue to see this while you and liberals don’t.

Scholars that aren’t even Preterists (but often times give the impression that they are leaning in such a direction), 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 Unknown-4way 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.

I called in a radio show where Beale was being interviewed concerning this quote in his book and asked him why he didn’t apply his statements here with Jesus’ and the disciples discussion of the Temple in Matthew 23-24.  He avoided the subject and merely began name-calling.  Sad indeed.

But Evangelicals are making the Full Preterist connections with NT texts where Beale is afraid to.  Evangelical Crispin H.T. Fletcher-Louis makes the following comments on the heaven and earth in Matthew 5:18 and Mark 13:31/Matthew 24:35:

519MJRVKT5L._SX317_BO1,204,203,200_“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).

51vnAiyJTxL._SX319_BO1,204,203,200_Gary DeMar is exegetical and contextually consistent when he admits that the passing of “heaven and earth” in Matthew 24:35 is the same subject (the fall of OC Jerusalem and her OC world/age) 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).

Why am I going over this?  Well, MacArthur sees “that which is perfect” and the seeing of God’s face in 1 Corinthians 13:10-12 as the arrival of the New Creation in Revelation 22:4-12.  And you allowed R.C. Sproul to speak at the Strange Fire Conference who takes the arrival of the new creation of Revelation 22:4-12 as being fulfilled and coming in spiritually at Christ’s “soon” coming in AD 70.  Now we can begin to solve some of the inconsistencies and problems I experienced at The Master’s College and from reading Reformed authors and now Sproul’s conflicted Reformation Study Bible.

Harmonizing MacArthur and Sproul’s Conflicting Views on When the Gifts of Tongues, Prophecy and Knowledge Are to Cease

Let’s first look at the conflicted message MacArthur and The Master’s College were teaching me on this passage and then we will move on to what Reformed theologians such as Sproul are now saying.  Let’s be real clear and honest here Phil – the real reason you won’t engage in a debate or dialog with Dr. Brown and myself over 1 Corinthians 13:8-12 is because you have no sound consistent exegetical answer — period!  The Strange Fire book and Tom Pennington’s lecture demonstrated this by giving a very fast fly-by — “there’s so many different views…” to this crucial text.  That and even instructors in John’s own college don’t find the context or the Greek to support his view.

  • Premise #1 (MacArthur):  Tongues ceased in AD 70 but prophecy and knowledge will pass away when the ONE arrival of the New Creation is fulfilled.  “That which is perfect” being the Cannon of Scripture is not correct.
  • Premise #2 (TMC – C.W. Smith):  There is no exegetical or strong Greek case for MacArthur’s view.  Tongues, Prophecy and knowledge all cease and pass away when “that which is perfect comes.”
  •  In my estimation the above two views form Charismatic doctrine (tongues, prophecy and knowledge cease at a future time — the New Creation), or they form Full Preterism — since tongues ceased in AD 70, then the others did too when the New Covenant New Creation arrived at the “soon” coming of the Lord in AD 70.
  • Conclusion/Synthesis:   If tongues ceased in AD 70 and the other gifts are to cease when tongues did, then the spiritual New Creation arrived at the “soon” AD 70 coming of Christ — like R.C. Sproul and Keith Mathison teach in Revelation 22:4-7.  Phil why is it such a stretch to get yourself or MacArthur and R.C. Sproul to discuss these passages with us?  Why so much fear Phil?  The righteous are “as bold as a lion” and yet you, MacArthur and your professors are acting like scared kitty cats.

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But in all honesty Phil you aren’t the only fearful ones.  R.C. Sproul and Mathison still have not responded to our book and won’t interact with us on these issue either.  And here’s why:

  • Premise #1 (R.C. Sproul): The “soon” coming of Christ in Revelation 22:6-7, 20 was fulfilled spiritually in AD 70. This historical event caused the passing of the Old Covenant Creation while bringing about the arrival of the spiritual New Covenant Creation.  As a result, we see God’s face today spiritually in the New Covenant Heavens and Earth.
  • Premise #2 (Sproul’s Reformation Study Bible): But the “soon” coming of Christ in Revelation 22:6-7, 20 is the Second Coming event and so is “that which is perfect” in 1 Corinthians 13:10-12.  We will only see God’s face clearly when these passages are fulfilled at the Second Coming.
  • Conclusion: Therefore, if both propositions are true (and we believe they are “Reformed and always reforming”) then the “soon” Second Coming of Christ and seeing of God’s face as described for us in Revelation 22:6-7, 20 and 1 Corinthians 13:10-12 were fulfilled spiritually in AD 70 when the Old Covenant creation passed away and the glory of the spiritual New Covenant creation took it’s place.   Therefore, the miraculous sign and revelatory gifts of tongues, prophecy and knowledge ceased in AD 70.

In order to exegetically solve the Charismatic problem and harmonize their contradictions, they would have to become Full Preterists – and they don’t want anyone pointing that out.  In other words, if “A” (Rev. 22:4-7) was fulfilled “soon” and spiritually in AD 70, but “A” (Rev. 22:4-7) is also equal to “B” (1 Cor. 13:8-12), then “B” (1 Cor. 13:8-12) was also fulfilled “soon” and spiritually in AD 70.  Therefore, these three gifts ceased together in AD 70 and we see God’s face today clearly in the New Covenant Heavens and Earth.  See there Phil, we just fixed Spurgeon’s and Sproul’s confusion over this issue of the OC and NC heavens and earth passing and arriving — while at the same time giving the Charismatic an exegetical reason why these gifts really did “cease” at the “soon” Second Coming event!  And it wasn’t difficult at all.

Sproul final
Like yourself and MacArthur, Sproul and Mathison have a lot of explaining to do concerning their “heretical”  Postmillennial Partial Preterism (per the early Amillennial creeds) since it along with their Reformation Study Bible leads us to Full Preterism:

Premise #1:  Editors of this Reformed Study Bible (R.C. Sproul & Keith Mathison) teach that the coming of the Son of Man upon the clouds in Matthew 16:27-28 and Matthew 24:27-30; 25:31 was fulfilled spiritually in AD 70 before some of those standing next to Jesus died and in their generation (Full Preterists agree).

Premise #2:  But the The Reformation Study Bible itself teaches that the coming of the Son of Man upon the clouds in judgment to gather the elect in Matthew 16:27; Matthew 24:27-31; 25:31ff. is addressing Christ’s ONE eschatological hope or ONE Second Coming and resurrection event and forms the foundation to Paul’s eschatology and are thus “parallel” (using the analogy of faith principle of interpretation) to Christ’s trumpet parousia/catching away or parousia/change in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17–chpt. 5 and 1 Corinthians 15 (Full Preterists agree).

Conclusion/Sythesis/Full Preterism:  The principle of “Reformed and always reforming” (and that the creeds may be in error) should be honored in order to harmonize these conflicting views.  The clear time texts of Matthew 16:27-28 and Matthew 24:27-34 are to be honored just as the analogy of faith (“parallels”) between Jesus’ eschatology and Paul’s eschatology in 1 Thessalonians 4-5 and 1 Corinthians 15.  Both instruct us that Jesus and Paul were teaching the Second Coming and resurrection event would be fulfilled at “the end” of the OC age in AD 70 and an event to be expected in some of their lifetimes.

Click on this chart and enlarge if you need to (very important):

22449867_10155710467539192_9014182051600458209_n

By the way this chart destroys MacArthur’s two comings of Jesus separated by seven years (rapture “coming” then second coming 7 years later) and Sproul’s two coming theory separated by thousands or millions of years (coming in AD 70 then another at the end of world history)!  Phil, let’s get real here, isn’t the truth that men like you, MacArthur, Sproul and Mathison just don’t want the public and your students to see your current embarrassment and conflicting views over eschatology and 1 Corinthians 13:8-12 and other revenant passages?  I get it.  Sproul and RTS are right there with you.

Phil you and MacArthur are sticking your heads in the sand on the NT imminent time texts re-defining them into meaninglessness, while Sproul and Mathison are imploring a more than inconsistent hermeneutic on the time texts (ex. Acts 24:15 YLT/Dan. 12:2; Rms. 16:20/Gen. 3:15) and unable to allow Scripture to interpret itself, because to do so they would have to agree to revise the creeds in the area of eschatology.  And no one wants to do that after being so INVESTED in them at this point.

I’ll deal with Brown’s Premillennial “heresy” he shares with you and his Charismatic “heresy” on 1 Corinthians 13:8-12. And you, MacArthur and Sproul can crawl back into your very well funded shell and bubble pretending you guys are doing apologetic work against Charismatics and Preterists.  Wow.

What Kind of Apologetics Does The Master’s Seminary Teach —

Bubble Apologetics?

I remember after my 4 point Calvinist instructor and director of Calvary Chapel Bible College (Richard Goswiller) got fired for being Calvinistic t– the next director began purging the library of Calvinist works.  Calvary Chapel was a “bubble” – scared to be popped by any other views.  That reminds me now of what The Master’s University and Seminary has become when it comes to trying to exegetically deal with Charimsatics or Preterists.   They regularly mock Charismatics and Preterists and yet will not defend their Futurism in honest debate or scholarship.  It’s a pure mystery to me as to why you would even have classes on apologetics at your University or Seminary if MacArthur, yourself and your staff can’t live out an honest Christian apologetic in your lives and ministry.  Selah.

I have been in conUnknown-1tact with Southern Evangelical Seminary and they are going to see if they can find a professor that will have a public “discussion” with Dr. Brown and myself over 1 Corinthians 13:8-12 and the cessation question.

Oddly, right after holding a conference on apologetics, they are telling me that they don’t really have anyone “qualified” to discuss this passage and issue with us.  They are currently asking Dr. Richard Howe if he would be willing to step up to the plate.  I think it’s not charitable for them to say Brown’s Charismatic views are a “black stain” upon his ministry (which I agree with), but then not be willing to engage with him and myself (along with the students and faculty members) on this matter in a public setting.  If we are both wrong to have an eschatological view of this passage — then someone at SES should prove it.  The Seminary and Norman Geisler have been critical both of Brown’s Charismatic views and Preterism in general. Therefore, I welcome a debate/”discussion” with Mr. Geisler to prove (among many things) that his Premillennial interpretation and translation of “this generation…” (Mt. 24:34) as, “this Jewish race will not pass away until all theses be fulfilled” has not exegetical merit whatsoever!

imagesI continue to pray for a Bible College or Seminary setting for this discussion/debate.   I thought Reformed Theological Seminary of Charlotte would be a great place to have this debate or discussion with the students and faculty as well.  But they won’t let me past a secretary.   Even though I have co-authored a book responding to Keith Mathison, they pretend I haven’t had any “direct engagement” with them and pretend we don’t exist.  My/our book remains in their seminary library unanswered and their instructors refuse to dialog or debate me.

Latest update on the Sullivan v. Brown debate — If S.E.S. can’t find anyone “qualified” for actually performing apologetics (after having a conference on the subject), then we will have the debate at Dr. Brown’s church sometime in January or February.  I will post updates on the date and time.

My Previous Letter Sent June 14th, 2016

Dear Pastor John MacArthur and faculty at The Master’s University / Seminary,

My purpose in this letter is to request a forum to debate Charismatic Apologist Dr. Michael L. Brown (author of Authentic Fire A Response to John MacArthur’s Strange Fire), and if possible to have Pastor MacArthur or one of the professors at The Master’s College or Seminary participate and present their position (a symposium of sorts).  I also believe it would be productive to bring in some Reformed Theologians on the topic (see below).

Pastor MacArthur you may remember me as a student at The Master’s College in the early 90’s –  I also attended Grace Community and worked at the churches bookstore?  As a student I had just left 4 point Calvinism behind and embraced limited atonement.  I was giving you a lot of material on that subject including Gary Long’s book and syllabus – on Definite Atonement.  I also was trying to get you and the faculty to hire my former Director and Bible College professor from Calvary Chapel Bible College – Dr. Richard Goswiller.  You may also remember me as one asking many questions in that early class where you made yourself available for questions?  I talked to you and asked questions regarding your inconsistent 4 point “Calvinist” position (that I just left for the 5 point view) and Partial Preterism (which I had just begun to study).  I also gave you arguments as to why I felt the miraculous sign gifts were still for today which included:

  1. If “that which is perfect” and the “face to face” sight (the Second Coming and New Creation) has not come (1 Cor. 13:8-12/Rev. 22:4-7), then the miraculous sign gifts are still for the church today.  My exegesis of 1 Cor. 13:8-12 here.
  2. If we are still in the “last days” (cf. Acts 2), then the miraculous sign gifts are still for the church today.  My exegesis of Acts 2 and the last days here.
  3. If the Great Commission and end of the age of Matt. 24:14/Mark 16/Matt. 28/Acts 1:8 had not been fulfilled, then the miraculous sign gifts are still for the church today.  My exegesis of the Great Commission texts here.
  4. If we are still in the “already and not yet” phase of the kingdom, then the miraculous sign gifts are still for the church today.  My response – The “not yet” Kingdom and Second Coming arrived in an “at hand” and AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” time frame (Lk. 21:27-32).

During that year of College not only would I go on to become a 5 point Calvinist, but I also studied and left behind Dispensationalism, Amillennialism and Partial Preterism for Full Preterism (as I combined what the Classic Amillennialist and Partial Preterist were saying of Matthew 24/1 Thess. 4-5 and many other crucial eschatological texts).  I initially came to Full Preterism not even knowing it was a view – just through my personal studies (my testimony here).  Full Preterism not only was an answer to my prayers regarding eschatology, but it also was the antidote to the Charismatic arguments I didn’t see you addressing with me in person or in reading your books or listening to sermons.  I recently read your book(Strange Fire) and Dr. Brown’s response (Authentic Fire) and gave a two-part lecture response to them at The Berean Bible Conference  (those DVD’s are still being edited).  Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to address all of the 4 points listed above in those lectures – which was a response to Dr. Brown and how you and the conference speakers did not deal with these arguments.  However, I have been responding to these 4 points in a series of articles on my web site:  fullpreterism.com.

As a student at The Master’s College I do remember us inviting a Mormon Apologist to one of our classes.  We were challenged to research Mormonism and be prepared to ask him challenging questions.  It was a very healthy learning / back and forth experience for all involved.  Textbooks can only equip a Christian so much and at some point we need to debate and personally engage the culture and various positions face to face.  I appreciate my professor for doing this.  I also invited Dr. Greg Bahnsen to our college and he lectured in various classes and answered challenging questions from students and staff.  Again, this was healthy for the students and faculty.  If The Master’s College can engage with Mormon and Reconstructionist Apologists, surely she can engage Charismatic and Full Preterist Apologists over the subject of Strange Fire and when the Bible teaches the sign and revelatory gifts are to cease?

Currently my debate with Dr. Brown is centered on 1 Corinthians 13:8-12.  The position I will be defending is a combination of the corporate maturity view and the eschatology view – when Christ and the New Creation came spiritually and “soon” (cf. Rev. 22:4-7) in AD 70, the Church stood mature and complete from the Old Covenant system.  In Dr. Brown’s debate with Reformed Apologist James White over the gift of healing, White completely ignored Brown’s argument on 1 Cor. 1:5-8/13:8-12.  In his debate with another Reformed author – Sam Waldron, Sam had a very difficult time explaining his or Richard Gaffin’s view of the passage.  Obviously your own right-hand man Phil Johnson didn’t do so well in his discussions with Dr. Brown over the Strange Fire conference.  Which I found odd in that there was no discussion over Scripture (which was probably something Phil didn’t want to discuss since Brown has been asking for a debate and discussion over Scripture on this subject for a long time now).

Please host and or participate in this debate.  Or better yet here is my suggestion that I believe will bring the most healing to the body:

A symposium on the subject of when the sign and revelatory gifts are to cease according to Scripture – addressing those 4 points/passage listed above.  Here are the participants I am requesting to participate:

  • Reformed Partial Preterist Cessationist – R.C. Sproul / Keith Mathison / Gary DeMar.
  • Historic Premillennial Charismatic – Michael Brown.
  • Reformed Charismatic – John Piper.
  • Dispensational Cessationist – John MacArthur (or co-Pastor or Professor).
  • Reformed Amillennial Cessationist – Sam Waldron or James White.
  • Sovereign Grace Full Preterist Cessationist – Michael Sullivan.

Each view must cover those 4 points and respond to the others exegesis and treatment of them.  So there is no confusion let me briefly outline my view:

  1. “That which is perfect” and the “face to face” sight (1 Cor. 13:8-12) is the Second Coming and arrival of the New Creation which arrived at the end of the OC age/heaven and earth “soon” in AD 70 (cf. Rev. 21-22:4-7). Thus the sign and revelatory gifts of tongues, prophecy and knowledge “ceased” in AD 70.
  2. The “last days” (of Acts 2 and elsewhere in the NT ) is descriptive of the last days of the OC age which ended in AD 70. Thus the sign and revelatory gifts ceased at the end of the last days of the OC age in AD 70.
  3. The Great Commission of Matt. 24:14, 34/Matt. 28:18-20/Mrk. 16:15-20/Acts 1:8 was a sign that preceded Christ’s coming at the end of the AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” and was fulfilled prior to “the end” or “end of the [OC] age” (cf. Rms. 10:18, 16:25-26; Cols. 1:5-6, 23). Thus the sign and revelatory gifts ceased in AD 70.
  4. The “already and not yet” of the kingdom was roughly between AD 30 – AD 70 when the OC and NC overlapped – with the old passing away and “ready to vanish” while the new was “about to be” fully revealed.   The “not yet” aspect of the “kingdom” was to be fulfilled at Christ’s imminent and first century “this generation” Second Coming (Lk. 21:27-32).  Thus the sign and revelatory gifts ceased in AD 70.

As I argued in my/our book, House Divided Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology A Preterist Response to When Shall These Things Be? the truth in the eschatology debate (and in the miraculous signs and revelatory gifts debate) is to be found in combining the Reformed Classical Amillennial view with the Reformed Partial Preterist views – “Reformed and always reforming.”  These views not only form Full Preterism, they effectively refute the “Charismatic Chaos” and confusion that have plagued the church.  In your Strange Fire book and conference, you appealed to Reformed and Puritan theology.  Obviously I do not believe you have followed your own advise in the area of Reformed Theology as it applies to eschatology let alone in how it applies to this area of when the Bible teaches the sign and revelatory gifts are to cease (My response to you on how these two Reformed views form Full Preterism and solve the Charismatic debate).  As a former student of yours, I have and am willing to debate and interact with these other views on these passages and subjects – are you?

Please show Dr. Brown and myself that Grace Community and The Master’s College and Seminary is not a bubble that just talks about Theology and Apologetics – but in reality is unwilling to actually do the work of an Apologist.  This is what I have found to be the case with my other former church and Bible College – Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, and Calvary Chapel Bible College.  They now even have an “Apologetics” school that is unwilling to debate me.  Amazing that they are incapable of debating one of their own graduates.

I am thankful to Dr. Brown who has debated Don Preston (over Romans 11) and is now willing to debate me over (1 Cor. 13:8-12).  Pastor MacArthur, will you please engage us on these exegetical issues as to when the Bible teaches the sign and revelatory gifts are to cease?  I must confess my agreement with Dr. Brown and the Charismatic community that your Strange Fire Conference spent so much time on the subject of extremes within the Charismatic movement and very little time and lectures dedicated to an exegetical treatment of the cessation issue (which is the heart of the matter).  I am hoping what I am suggesting here will help deal with these valid criticisms of your conference.

As I have been writing this letter I have left messages and am in the process of being in contact with The Master’s College and Seminary.  Per the request of the receptionist at Grace Community, I will send this via email so that it will be passed along to you.  I will also post this on my web site as a public and open letter and send you a snail mail version along with a copy of my/our book.  At the very least please read my responses to Keith Mathison on the NT time texts (chapter 4) and Simon Kistemaker on the date of Revelation (chapter 5) and then David Green’s response to Mr. Strimple on the resurrection (chapter 7).

In Christ,

Michael Sullivan

To read this series of articles that are a Full Preterist response to Charismatic Michael Brown (Author of Authentic Fire)  and Cessationist John MacArthur (Author of Strange Fire) go to:  

Part 1 – My Full Preterist Response to John MacArthur’s Appeals to Church History and Reformed Theology to Solve the Charismatic Dilemma http://fullpreterism.com/1-corinthians-138-12-a-full-preterist-response-to-the-strange-fire-conference-macarthursproulpennington-cessationists-v-authentic-fire-brownwilsonpiper-cha/

Part 2 – An Overview of the Various Views of “That Which is Perfect” (1 Cor. 13:10) http://fullpreterism.com/1-corinthians-138-12-a-full-preterist-response-to-the-strange-fire-conference-macarthursproulpennington-cessationists-v-authentic-fire-brownwilsonpiper-cha/

Part 3 – My Full Preterist Response to Charismatic Michael Brown’s Argument on 1 Corinthians 13:8-12 Demonstrating That the Miraculous Sign and Revelatory Gifts of Tongues, Prophecy and Knowledge Ceased and Passed Away with the OC Age in AD 70 and John MacArthur’s Inability to Deal with the Passage  http://fullpreterism.com/my-full-preterist-response-to-john-macarthurs-strange-fire-cessationist-v-michael-brown-authentic-fire-charismatic-part-3-argument-1-an-exegesis-of/

Part 4 – My Full Preterist Response to Charismatic Michael Brown’s Argument on the “Last Days” of Acts 2 and John MacArthur’s Inability to Deal with the Passage http://fullpreterism.com/my-full-preterist-response-to-michael-brown-charismatic-authentic-fire-vs-john-macarthur-cessationist-strange-fire-the-last-days-acts-2/

Part 5 – My Full Preterist Response to Charismatic Michael Brown’s Argument on the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20 and Mark 16:15-20 and John MacArthur’s Inability to Deal with the Passage http://fullpreterism.com/my-full-preterist-response-to-john-macarthurs-strange-fire-cessationist-v-michael-browns-authentic-fire-charismatic-part-5-argument-3-the-great-commission/

Part 6 – My Full Preterist Response to Charismatic Michael Brown’s Argument on the “Already and Not Yet” of the Kingdom and John MacArthur’s Inability to Respond Biblically http://fullpreterism.com/my-full-preterist-response-to-john-macarthurs-strange-fire-cessationist-v-michael-browns-authentic-fire-charismatic-part/

Part 7 – My Full Preterist Response to Charismatic Michael Brown’s Argument on John 14:12 and John MacArthur’s (The Master’s Seminary) Inability to Deal With the Passage and the Infallibility of the Scriptures going on into John 16 http://fullpreterism.com/my-full-preterist-response-to-john-macarthurs-strange-fire-cessationist-v-michael-browns-authentic-fire-charismatic-part-2/

Part 8 – My Open Letter to my Former Pastor John MacArthur and The Master’s Seminary to Interact with Myself and Dr. Michael Brown on These Passages and When the Bible Teaches Tongues, Prophecy and Knowledge Are to Cease That Has NEVER Been Responded to http://fullpreterism.com/open-letter-to-pastor-john-macarthur-and-faculty-at-the-masters-college-seminary-sullivan-v-brown-debate-symposium-challenge/

In Christ,

Mike Sullivan

www.fullpreterism.com

PS – I may be adding some more documentation and facts to this letter to Phil over the coming weeks.

My Second Lecture at the PPW 2017 Conference Part 4: Problems for Postmillennial Partial Preterism in the Olivet Discourse (Resurrection Cont.) – the Trumpet Gathering of Matthew 24:30-31 = the Trumpet Change of 1 Corinthians 15

Introduction and Review

We are currently looking at the problem Postmillennial Partial Preterism has with the doctrine of the resurrection and the analogy of faith principle of interpretation.  In our last study we looked at how Matthew 24:30-31 is the Second Coming and resurrection event of 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 and I gave an exegesis of 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 to demonstrate that.  The bulk of this article will be dealing with the parallels (the analogy of faith) between the parousia and trumpet gathering of Matthew 24:27-31 and the parousia trumpet “change” of 1 Corinthians 15:23-26, 51-56.  In my lecture at the PPW 2017 Conference I obviously didn’t have the time to do a study of 1 Thessalonians 4-5 and 1 Corinthians 15 to go along with my chart.  So in this series I will be addressing material from time to time that I just didn’t have time to develop in the lectures.

Before we jump into a study of 1 Corinthians 15, let’s review what we have learned so far and get a birds-eye view on what Postmillennialists have admitted to concerning the resurrection of Daniel 12 and the parable of the wheat and tares being fulfilled by the end of the OC age in AD 70.

Since A (Daniel 12) is = to B (Matthew 13):

  • Tribulation on National Israel as never before – Daniel 12:1 = Matthew 13:40-42
  • Time of the end / end of “this” age separation – Daniel 12:1, 4, 9, 13 = Matthew 13:39-41
  • Saints rise and shine in the eternal kingdom – Daniel 12:2-3 = Matthew 13:43
  • Wicked rise to shame in eternal condemnation – Daniel 12:2 = Matthew 13:39-42 

And B (Matthew 13) is = to C (Matthew 24-25):

  • Pre-kingdom evangelism by Jesus’ evangelism – Matthew 13:37-38 = Matthew 24:14
  • Tribulation on National Israel as never before – Matthew 13:40-42 = Matthew 24:21-22
  • End of “this” age / end of the age separation – Matthew 13:39-41 = Matthew 24:30-31; 25:31-41
  • The sons of the day / hour shine with the Son – Matthew 13:43 = Matthew 24:27, 30-31, 36
  • Inheritance of and entrance into the kingdom – Matthew 13:43 = Matthew 25:34/Luke 21:30-32 

Then A (Daniel 12) is = to C (Matthew 24-25):

  • Tribulation and sanctification / Great Tribulation – Daniel 12:1, 10 = Matthew 24:21-22
  • Time / day / hour of the judgment (aka separation) – Daniel 12:1-2, 4 (OG LXX) = Matthew 24:36; 25:31-33
  • Fulfillment at the time of the end / end of the age / the shattering of Israel’s world/power or her “heaven and earth” (the Temple etc…) – Daniel 12:4, 7, 9, 13 = Matthew 24:3, 13-14, 28-29, 34-35
  • Inheritance of and entrance into the kingdom – Daniel 12:2-3, 13 = Matthew 25:34/Luke 21:30-32
  • The sons of the day / hour shine with the Son of life – Daniel 12:3 = Matthew 24:27, 36, 25:34
  • Kingdom age evangelism via God’s shining ones – Daniel 12:3 = Matthew 24:14, 25:29

Two or more things that are equal to another thing are also equal to each other:

  • Kingdom age evangelism – A (Daniel 12) = B (Matthew 13) = C (Matthew 24-25)
  • Tribulation like never before – A (Daniel 12) = B (Matthew 13) = C (Matthew 24-25)
  • Time of the end (shattering of Israel’s power) / end of the Old Covenant age (destruction of OC Israel’s Temple) – A (Daniel 12) = B (Matthew 13) = C (Matthew 24-25)
  • Chosen ones raised and shine to eternal life and wicked raised to eternal condemnation / the righteous raised to shine and tares burn / sheep inherit eternal life goats to eternal punishment – A (Daniel 12) = B (Matthew 13) = C (Matthew 24-25)

Premise #1:  If it is true and orthodox to believe that the end of the age resurrection event of Daniel 12:2-3; Matthew 13:39-43 and Matthew 24:30-31 is ONE resurrection event that cannot be double fulfilled (Classic Amillennialists and Historic Premillennialists agree with Full Preterism).

Premise #2:  And if it is also true and orthodox to believe that the progressive, evangelistic, spiritual, corporate and covenantal resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3; Matthew 13:39-43 and Matthew 24:14-30 was fulfilled spiritually between AD 30 – AD 70 with righteous souls being raised out of the realm of the dead (Abraham’s Bosom or Hades) to inherit eternal life at Christ’s parousia to close the OC age in AD 70 (some Postmillennialists agree with Full Preterism).

Conclusion:   Then it is also true and orthodox to believe that the ONE progressive, evangelistic, spiritual, corporate and covenantal resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3; Matthew 13:39-43 and Matthew 24:14-30 was fulfilled spiritually between AD 30 – AD 70 with righteous souls being raised out of the realm of the dead (Abraham’s Bosom or Hades) to inherit eternal life at Christ’s parousia to close the OC age in AD 70 (Full Preterism – “reformed and always reforming”).

And now let’s address where we are recently in our study of Matthew 24.  The analogy of faith, cross references and parallels between Matthew 24:30-31 with 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 and 1 Corinthians 15:12-58 make it clear that the gathering of the elect at the sound of the trumpet is the resurrection event:

Since A (Matthew 24) is = to B (1 Thessalonians 4-5):

  • Christ returns from heaven – Matthew 24:30 = 1 Thessalonians 4:16
  • With the voice of an Arch angel – Matthew 24:31 = 1 Thessalonians 4:16
  • With the trumpet of God – Matthew 24:31 = 1 Thessalonians 4:16
  • Caught/gathered together with/to Christ – Matthew 24:31 = 1 Thessalonians 4:17
  • “Meet” the Lord in the clouds – Matthew 24:30, 25:6 = 1 Thessalonians 4:17
  • Exact time unknown – Matthew 24:36 = 1 Thessalonians 5:1-2
  • Christ comes as a thief – Matthew 24:43 = 1 Thessalonians 5:2
  • Unbelievers caught off guard – Matthew 24:37-39 = 1 Thessalonians 5:3
  • Time of birth pains – Matthew 24:8 = 1 Thessalonians 5:3
  • Believers not deceived – Matthew 24:43 = 1 Thessalonians 5:4-5
  • Believers to be watchful – Matthew 24:42 = 1 Thessalonians 5:6
  • Exhorted to sobriety – Matthew 24:49 = 1 Thessalonians 5:7
  • The Son/Sun light shines from east to west in order to manifest sons of the day – Matthew 24:27, 36, 38 = 1 Thessalonians 5:4-8

And B (1 Thessalonians 4) is = to C (1 Corinthians 15)

  • The sleeping to be raised – 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 = 1 Corinthians 15:12-18
  • The living to be caught/changed – 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 = 1 Corinthians 15:51-52
  • Christ’s coming (Greek parousia) – 1 Thessalonians 4:15 = 1 Corinthians 15:23
  • At the sound of the trumpet – 1 Thessalonians 4:16 = 1 Corinthians 15:52
  • Encouraged to stand firm – 1 Thessalonians 4:18 = 1 Corinthians 15:58
  • Same contemporary “we” – 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 = 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 

Then A (Matthew 24) = C (1 Corinthians 15)

  • Christ to come (Greek parousia) – Matthew 24:27 = 1 Corinthians 15:23
  • His people to be gathered/changed – Matthew 24:31 = 1 Corinthians 15:51-52
  • Comes with the sound of a trumpet – Matthew 24:31 = 1 Corinthians 15:52
  • To be “the end” (Greek telos – the goal) – Matthew 24:3, 14 = 1 Corinthians 15:24
  • Kingdom consummation (goal reached) – Luke 21:30-32 = 1 Corinthians 15:24
  • All prophecy fulfilled at this time – Luke 21:22 = 1 Corinthians 15:54-55
  • Victory over the law/temple – Matthew 24:1  = 1 Corinthians 15:55-56
  • Same contemporary “you” or “we” – Matthew 24:2ff. = 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 

Two or more things that are equal to another thing are also equal to each other:

  • At His coming (Greek parousia) – A (Matthew 24:27) = B (1 Thessalonians 4:16) = (1 Corinthians 15:23)
  • At the trumpet – A (Matthew 24:31) = B (1 Thessalonians 4:16) = (1 Corinthians 15:52
  • All dead saints gathered/raised – A (Matthew 24:31) = (1 Thessalonians 4:16) = (1 Corinthians 15:35-44)
  • All living saints gathered/caught/changed – A (Matthew 24:31) = B (1 Thessalonians 4:17) = C (1 Corinthians 15:51)
  • The parallels between Matthew 24:30-31 with 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 as well make it clear that this is the resurrection event:

Premise#1: IF it is true and orthodox to believe that the coming of the Son of Man on the clouds and the gathering of the elect in Matthew 24:30-31 is His ONE Second Coming event and the parallels (analogy of faith) in 1 Thessalonians 4-5 and 1 Corinthians 15 confirm this. (Amillennialism, Historic Premillennialism and Full Preterism agree)

Premise#2: AND if it’s also true and orthodox to believe the coming of the Son of Man on the clouds to gather the elect in Matthew 24:30-31 was fulfilled spiritually in the AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” (Postmillennial Partial Preterism and Full Preterism agree).

Premise #3:  AND if it is true and orthodox to believe that the ONE Second Coming and resurrection event of Daniel 7:13; 12:2-3 is the SAME Coming of Christ and resurrection event as Matthew 24:30-31; 1 Thessalonians 4-5 and 1 Corinthians 15 (Amillennialism, Historic Premillennialism and Full Preterism agree).

Conclusion / Synthesis: THEN it is true and orthodox to believe that Christ’s ONE Second Coming and resurrection event as described for us in Daniel 7:13; 12:2-3; Matthew 24:30-31; 1 Thessalonians 4-5 and 1 Corinthians 15 was also fulfilled spiritually in the AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” to fulfill the promises of and bring an end to the OC age in AD 70 (Full Preterism – “Reformed and always reforming”).

1 Corinthians 15 and Matthew 24:30-31

There are several exegetical observations that demonstrate that Paul’s eschatology in 1 Corinthians 15 is not a depiction of a biological resurrection for all men that will occur at the end of world history:

  • The parallels and analogy of faith with Matthew 24 demonstrates a first century generation fulfillment of 1 Corinthians 15.
  • Paul’s argumentation and use of logic (modus tollens) demonstrates the resurrection of the dead deniers at Corinth were not denying resurrection in general, but a resurrection for a particular group (the OC dead of Israel).
  • Paul’s use of the present tense of the resurrection already taking place demonstrates it is not an end of time biological resurrection.
  • Paul’s use of familiar corporate body words and phrases within the Corinthian letters and within his other Epistles demonstrates an individual biological corpse resurrection is wrong.
  • Paul’s appeal to Hosea 13 and Isaiah 25 demonstrate that an end of the world biological resurrection is not in view.
  • There would be no victory over “the death” until victory over the Mosaic OC “the law” was reached. This does not fit within a futurist frame work, but does within the Full Preterist one, because “the law” (administration of death) was “soon” to vanish at the end of the OC age in AD 70 in Paul’s day.

The Parallels – Analogy of Faith

Again, let’s look at those parallels that demonstrate Paul’s eschatology here in 1 Corinthians 15 is that of Jesus’ in Matthew 24/Luke 21:

  • Christ to come (Greek parousia) – Matthew 24:27 = 1 Corinthians 15:23
  • His people to be gathered/changed – Matthew 24:31 = 1 Corinthians 15:51-52
  • Comes with the sound of a trumpet – Matthew 24:31 = 1 Corinthians 15:52
  • To be “the end” (Greek telos – the goal) – Matthew 24:3, 14 = 1 Corinthians 15:24
  • Kingdom consummation (goal reached) – Luke 21:30-32 = 1 Corinthians 15:24
  • All prophecy fulfilled at this time – Luke 21:22 = 1 Corinthians 15:54-55
  • Victory over the law/temple – Matthew 24:1 = 1 Corinthians 15:55-56
  • Same contemporary “you” or “we” – Matthew 24:2ff. = 1 Corinthians 15:51-52

Premise #1:  If it is true and orthodox to believe that the coming of Christ in Matthew 24 was fulfilled in AD 70.

Premise #2:  And if it is true and orthodox to believe that the trumpet coming-end of the age-gathering of Matthew 24:30-31 is the coming and resurrection of 1 Corinthians 15.

Premise #3:  And if it is true and orthodox to believe that the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 is the SAME resurrection as 1 Corinthians 15 (most agree with Full Preterism here).

Premise #4:  And if it is true and orthodox to believe that the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 was a progressive, spiritual, corporate, covenantal resurrection between AD 30 – AD 70 that resulted in the righteous being raised out of Abraham’s Bosom or Hades to inherit eternal life at Christ’s parousia to close the OC age (some Postmillennialists agree with Full Preterists)

Conclusion/Synthesis:  Then it is also true and orthodox to believe that the coming of Christ and resurrection in Daniel 12:2-3, Matthew 24-25 and 1 Corinthians 15 involves a progressive, spiritual, corporate, covenantal resurrection between AD 30 – AD 70 that resulted in the righteous being raised out of Abraham’s Bosom or Hades to inherit eternal life at Christ’s parousia to close the OC in AD 70.

 1 Corinthians 15:1-15 

ONE Gospel Preached

Most futurist commentaries on 1 Corinthians 15 merely assume the resurrection of the dead deniers at Corinth denied the resurrection of Jesus and the resurrection in general.  They believe Paul’s appeal to the 500 who witnessed Jesus’ resurrection is the beginning of his correction that the group rejected Jesus’ resurrection.

This view has many problems which we will cover shortly, but in reality Paul lays forth the historical resurrection of Christ in the beginning of the resurrection conflict at Corinth NOT because the resurrection deniers at Corinth denied Jesus’ resurrection, but because the Gentile Christians were pridefully and ignorantly denying the resurrection of a Jewish sect (the OC dead one’s whom had died prior to Christ).  This denial was similar to what some Gentile believers were saying about Israel and the Church at Rome (see Romans 11).  One group or party was denying the resurrection of the other.  The schisms of the various groups at Corinth (1 Cor. 1:10 – 3:23) reach their main conflict here in chapter 15 in which Paul now desires to set straight.  Paul being the leader of the erring gentile party whom boasted of themselves and Paul as their leader, now humbles himself among the Apostles (vss. 7-9) in order to correct this arrogant spirit.  He ties his gospel message in as being ONE with the leaders of the Jewish leaders (v. 11-12).  The resurrection of Jesus and gospel message was united and agreed upon in the preaching of Christ’s resurrection by all the parties!  Paul will use this agreement to make his case against them!

Perhaps some of their misunderstandings and arrogance began as early as (Acts 18) when they heard Paul say, “Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean.  From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”  I believe that a misunderstanding of Paul here and perhaps some of his teaching that gentiles were one body with the Jews and that a true Jew was one who had been circumcised of heart led to a replacement theology and denial of an OC Jewish (the dead ones) eschaton/resurrection.  After humbling himself and showing his solidarity with the Jewish leaders in preaching the same doctrine, Paul now begins to correct their error.

 1 Corinthians 15:12-19

 Paul’s Modus Tollens form of Argumentation

To further prove that the resurrection of the dead deniers were not denying Christ’s resurrection or the resurrection for all in general, we need to take a look at Paul’s form of argumentation.  The futurist view makes no contextual sense if you follow Paul’s argumentation and the logic he uses.  Paul uses a familiar modus tollens or if then logical argument.  That is, “If P, then Q.  Therefore, not P.”

1)       “If P”

  • If there is no resurrection of the dead ones…”

2)       “Then Q”

  • If the dead are not rising (and will rise)…then not even Christ has been raised.
  • If the dead are not rising (and will rise)…then our preaching is useless…
  • If the dead are not rising (and will rise)…then and so is your faith [useless].
  • If the dead are not rising (and will rise)…then we are found to be false witnesses about God.
  • If the dead are not rising (and will rise)…then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.
  • If the dead are not rising (and will rise)…then your and my baptism (of suffering & martyrdom) on the part of the dead is meaningless.
  • If the dead are not rising (and will rise)…then the Father is subject to Christ.
  • If the dead are not rising (and will rise)…then some of you are ignorant of God.
  • If the dead are not rising (and will rise)…then why are some undergoing a baptism (of suffering & persecution) on behalf of the dead?
  • If the dead are not rising (and will rise)…then there will be no resurrection for anyone and why all might as well eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die.

3)      “Therefore, not P”

  • Therefore, your (resurrection of the dead deniers) premise that the resurrection of the (OC) dead will not take place is false (or “therefore, not P”).

Paul’s argument is also known as reduction ad absurdum.  This form of argument demonstrates that a statement is false (the dead will not rise) by showing that a false, untenable, undesirable or absurd result follows from its acceptance.  Again, Paul is using things he has in common with them and that they would affirm in order to overthrow and show how absurd their false premise that the dead ones would not rise actually was.

The Error Identified

Since the Corinthians believed in Christ’s resurrection and a resurrection for those whom had died “in Christ,” then to whom is left to deny a resurrection for?  In short, the error at Corinth was an extreme view (or a hyper-dispensational or replacement theology of sorts) that divided up the people of God in extreme ways.  They could not reconcile how the dead prior to Christ’s arrival could be raised into or with the Body of Christ.  In short, they were denying a key ingredient to “the better resurrection” that the writer to the Hebrews outlines:

Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they [the OT or Old Covenant dead] might obtain a better resurrection:   And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:  They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;  (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.  And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they (“the [OT/OC] dead”) without us (the NT/NC saints “in Christ”) should not be made perfect (Heb. 11:35-40).

The resurrection of the dead deniers at Corinth saw the “better things” for those who were “in Christ” (dead or alive – their side of the cross), but could not reconcile how the OT or Old Covenant dead (on the other side of the cross) could participate in order for both groups to be “made perfect” together in the Body of Christ.  They had the NC “better things,” and thus the OT or OC dead were left without participation in the better resurrection to come – was their reasoning and error.  They did not deny the doctrine of the resurrection in general, just the all-ness or oneness (with all of God’s of people) to the resurrection.

Extreme views and excluding the righteous dead was not uncommon – even among the Jews.  Some Jews believed that anyone who died outside of the Promised Land would not participate in the resurrection:

“The Talmud records speculations on the various matters connected with the process of Resurrection.  There was a firm belief that the momentous event would take place in the Holy Land.  Some Rabbi took the extreme view that only they who were interred there would share in the future life.  ‘Those who die outside the land of Israel will not live again; as it is said, “I will set delight in the land of the living.”  (Ezek. 26:20)—those who die in the land of My delight will live again, but they who do not die there will not’…” “Even a Cananite maidservant in the land of Israel is assured of inheriting the World to Come’…” (Rev. Dr. A. Cohen, Everyman’s TALMUD, (New York:  E.P. DUTTON & CO., INC., 1949), 361-362).

So in this extreme view those righteous dead who died outside of being “in the land” would not participate in Israel’s corporate resurrection.  Similarly, some at Corinth took Paul’s teaching that all prophecy or all the promises of God were fulfilled spiritually “in Christ,” too far in that they concluded the resurrection could only take place for those who believed “in Christ” (their side of the cross) – and all others perished outside of being in Him.

Therefore, since the OC dead were not present to place their faith in Christ, then they couldn’t be apart of the spiritual body that was in the process of being raised in their day.  They lost sight of the great cloud of witnesses whom saw Christ’s day and were glad and would thus share in the “better resurrection” with them.

According to both of these extreme views, men such as Moses had no resurrection hope but perished outside of being “in the land” or perished outside of being “in Christ.”

We see a similar inability to reconcile the OT promises made to Israel and how they would be fulfilled in the NT Body of Christ coming from modern day Dispensationalists whom think there are opposing theologies between the OT and NT.  There are two complete separate bodies of believers or peoples of God needing two separate comings of Christ or programs of salvation etc…  Of particular interest to our discussion here is in the comparison of dividing the OT dead from those that died “in Christ.”

Dispensationalists such as Charles Ryrie and Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer argue,

“those who died before Christ’s first advent” are not among “the dead in Christ” (Charles Ryrie).

“The Old Testament saints were not part of the New Creation in Christ,” and “the nation of Israel sustains no relation to the resurrection of Christ” (Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer).

And again per Chafer, the dead OT saints were not “in the new federal headship of the resurrected Christ…” (quotes taken from:  Curtis Crenshaw and Grove Gunn, Dispensationalism Today, Yesterday, and Tomorrow, p. 204).

In 1937 William Everett Bell argued against Pretribulationalism providing evidence that at Christ’s Second Coming (after the Tribulation period), all the righteous dead were to be raised.  The ever evolving pertrib rapture theory countered with a two resurrection view – one for those that died “in Christ” at the “rapture” “coming,” and then one for those that died outside of being “in Christ” (OT dead not “in Christ”) seven years later (after the Tribulation) at the Second Coming.  The resurrection of the dead deniers also divided God’s people up in a way that was contrary to the teachings of Paul, except for them, the best way to avoid the problem (they created for themselves) was to deny resurrection for the dead – period and only accept a resurrection for those “in Christ.”

These examples (one within the Talmud and modern ones) should be sufficient to demonstrate how it could be possible for some to miss how the OT dead could or even would participate in the salvation of the ONE NC Body of Christ.

Romans 11 & 1 Corinthians 15

Perhaps the best parallel to what is taking place among the Gentile resurrection of the dead deniers at Corinth can be found in Romans 11.  Paul has to explain that the Gentiles did not replace OC Israel and that there remained a future eschaton and expectation of fulfillment for her.  And this future is explained in such a way that without God fulfilling those promises to OC Israel, there would be no forgiveness of sin or resurrection life for the Gentiles (cf. Roms. 11:13-27).  In Romans the Gentile arrogance over against the Jews was illustrated by an olive tree, branches, and the root to demonstrate the solidarity of the Gentiles with Israel’s resurrection and covenant promises.  As we will see in our next point, Paul uses the illustration of the “first-fruits” harvest to connect the two.

1 Corinthians 15:20-28

First-fruits and Solidarity

Paul is going to now further his argument to connect Christ’s resurrection with that of Israel’s, by using the first-fruits analogy.  How could the gentiles deny Israel’s role in the resurrection when they themselves (along with the believing Jews) were apart of the first-fruits awaiting the harvest at Christ’s return (Jms. 1:18, Rms. 8, Rev. 14)?  Paul’s resurrection hope was the “hope of Israel” and the harvest is Israel’s harvest of which they were blessed to be apart of.  To deny “the dead” or Israel’s future role in the resurrection/harvest was akin to theologically denying Christ’s and theirs at the end of the OC age harvest.

First-fruits, Imminence & Analogy of Faith

Whenever the first-fruits were offered up as a pledge this was a symbol that not only the harvest was guaranteed, but that it was already ripe and being cut.  Paul uses this argument of Christ being the “first-fruits” resurrection to teach that He controls the destiny of Israel’s harvest (the dead) – that Paul’s first century “we” audience would experience at “the end” of the OC age.

The imminence of this coming harvest judgment was first developed by John the Baptist.  He warned of an “about to” come wrath and punishment (Mt. 3:7GNT).  His ax and winnowing fork were already in His hand – indicating that the judgment and end time harvest would take place in some of their lifetimes (Mt. 3:10-12).

Jesus also taught a spiritual sowing and coming judgment / resurrection harvest which would take place at “the end” of His Jewish audiences “this age” (which was the OC age) in Matthew 13.

The first-fruits and harvest resurrection and judgment of Revelation 7 and 14 was to be fulfilled “shortly” at Christ’s “soon” and “at hand” AD 70 Second Coming (Rev. 1:1—22:6-7, 10-12, 20).

Paul’s inspired teaching on an imminent harvest resurrection to take place at “the end” (of the OC age) is in harmony with the teaching and eschatology of John the Baptist, John the Apostle and Jesus.

Premise #1:  If it is true and orthodox to believe the harvest judgment and resurrection of Matthew 3:7-12; Matthew 13:39-43; Revelation 7 and 14 were fulfilled at the end of the OC age in AD 70 (Partial Preterists agree with Full Preterists)…,

Premise #2:  And if it is true and orthodox to believe that the harvest judgment and resurrection of Matthew 3:7-12; Matthew 13:39-43; Revelation 7 & 14 and 1 Corinthians 15 is ONE and the same event (Classic Amillennial agrees with Full Preterism)…,

Conclusion/Synthesis:  THEN it is also true and orthodox to believe that the ONE harvest judgment / resurrection of Matthew 3:7-12; Matthew 13:39-43; Revelation 7 & 14 and 1 Corinthians 15 was fulfilled at the end of the OC age in AD 70 (Full Preterism).

First-fruits and the Nature of Jesus’ Resurrection Body

In Pauline theology, Christ is described as the “First” (first-fruit or first-born Cols. 1:18) from among the dead ones.  Since clearly Jesus was not the first to be raised from biological death, many futurists reason that this must then mean He was the first to be raised with a glorified and immortal body the third day – which they assert was different because it could walk through walls and could never biologically die again.  But there is no exegetical evidence that Jesus’ biological body that was raised the third day was substantially different (glorified) than the one He had before He was crucified.  Prior to His resurrection, He was able to walk on water, disappear in the midst of a crowd and transport / teleport Himself and a boat full of disciples instantly to the shore (i.e. defy physics).  So to assume that just because Jesus could appear or disappear after His resurrection, does not prove that His body was different and that somehow at the end of history we too will get a “body” like His (that can defy the laws of physics etc…).

The truth however, is that Jesus’ body wouldn’t be glorified until some 40 days later at His ascension/enthronement and just prior to the giving of the Holy Spirit.  Therefore, the resurrection body of Christ that came out of the tomb is not the “same” or “first” “immortal” and “glorified” body that we allegedly will get at the end of world history.  If it was and ours will be just like it, then since Jesus still had His wounds, then will Christians be raised without limbs, deformities etc…?

But Jesus was the “first” to overcome covenantal sin/death or spiritual separation that came from Adam the very day he sinned against God and was banished from His presence.  Jesus “became sin for us…” – that is He took the full curse (of separation) for His posterity, was raised and 40 days later glorified and restored into the “glory” and presence of the Father He had before the world began.  Exactly how Jesus “became sin” for us and was abandoned by the Father’s presence contains concepts that we will not be able to fully understand (such as the incarnation and trinity) – but it is what Scripture teaches nonetheless.  At Christ’s parousia in AD 70, He restored God’s presence with the righteous dead (OC & NC) along with the living.

Therefore, the purpose of Jesus being raised from the dead on the third day was to be a sign (like all of His other miracles that pointed to a deeper spiritual truth) that validated He alone had conquered the curse (sin/death/separation) which came through Adam.  Jesus never came to conquer biological death for Christians.  Jesus repeatedly taught that those who believe on Him (alive or dead – Jn. 8:51; 11:25-26) would “never die.”  In other word’s “never die” is synonymous with “eternal life” (i.e. spiritual life and existence in God’s presence).

In Adam or in Christ

Through the corporate body of Adam – “all” come into this world spiritually dead and separated from God (15:21-22), while through Christ and His overcoming of that death, “all” His corporate body or covenant posterity will be restored to God’s presence and have their sin completely taken away at His parousia.  We will pick up Paul’s in Adam or in Christ doctrine and how he addresses these terms and concepts in Romans 5-8 in verses 44-58.

At His Parousia

Paul’s teaching on the parousia (15:23) is not different than what Christ taught of His parousia to take place in the AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” (Mt. 24:27-34, 37).  The NT knows of only ONE eschatological parousia of Christ to bring about ONE eschatological “the end” or “end of the age” and that was His parousia to close “the end” or “end of the [OC] age” in AD 70.

Then Comes the End & the Kingdom

“The end” (15:24) here is consistent with Jesus’ teaching on the end of the OC “this age” to be fulfilled in the AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” (Mt. 13:39-43; Mt. 24).

It is Daniel’s “time of the end” (not the end of time) when the resurrection would occur at Jerusalem’s destruction in AD 70 – i.e. “when the power of the holy people would be completely shattered” (Dan. 12:1-7).

In harmony with Jesus’ teaching on the end of the age, before we approach 1 Corinthians 15, Paul has already informed us that “the end” of the world was “shortened” and the end of the age was to take place in the lifetime of the Corinthians (cf. 1 Cor. 7:29, 31; 10:11).

Paul taught that the NC Church age was an “age without end” (Ephs. 3:20-21) so why would he here teach that he expected its end to take place within the lifetime of the Corinthians?  It is the OC age that is in view and indeed did pass away within the lifetime of Paul’s audience.  The NC age was “about to” fully come in – therefore, the OC age was about to end (Ephs. 1:21 WUEST).

The “increase” (that is the everlasting gospel) of Jesus’ government (that is His kingdom and thus His rule in the NC age) is also described as having “no end” (Isa. 9:7).

Concerning the timing of the consummation of the Kingdom: – Per Daniel chapter seven, the Kingdom would arrive in its fulfilled inherited form just after a time of severe persecution (Dan. 7:21) and at Christ’s Second Coming (Dan. 7:13, 18, 22).  Jesus informs us when Daniel’s prophecy would be fulfilled in Matthew 24.  He instructs His disciples that just after a severe persecution takes place, the surrounding of Jerusalem with armies (the abomination that causes desolation), and just prior to His parousia, the Kingdom would be inherited in the AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” (Lk. 21:1-32).

Christ’s Pre-parousia Reign & His Enemies Placed Under His Feet

As David and Solomon’s reigns over Israel were 40 years, so too was Jesus’ pre-parousia reign (roughly from AD 30 – AD 70).  Through the proclamation and power of the gospel, the power of the Holy Spirit given in the midst of imprisonment and persecutions, and the imprecatory prayer’s of the saints against their first century Jewish persecutors, Christ’s enemies were being placed under His feet and would at the end of the OC age.  This is consistent with the teaching of the author to the Hebrews when He instructs us that the first century Jewish “enemies” to be “made his footstool” were “about to” experience a judgment of fire at Christ’s “in a very little while” AD 70 coming that could not be delayed (Heb. 10:13-37YLT).

Last Enemy “The Death” Was in the Process of Being Destroyed

Note that death was in the process of BEING destroyed (present passive indicative):

“As a last enemy, [the] death is being abolished, for all things He put in subjection under His feet.” (Wuest, K. S. (1997). The New Testament : An expanded translation (1 Co 15:20–28). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).

Gordon Fee in his work on 1 Corinthians puzzles over this,

“The grammar of this sentence is somewhat puzzling…” “The sentence literally reads, “The last enemy is being destroyed.” (Gordon D. Fee, THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS, (Grand Rapids, MI:  Eerdmans pub., 1987, 756).

Others comment on the reality of the present tense here:

“It is difficult to do justice to the present passive καταργεῖται in translation. As it stands, the Greek states, The last enemy is being annihilated, (namelydeath (v. 26). It is arguable that Paul uses the present to denote the process of annihilation already set in motion by Christ’s (past) death and resurrection. (Thiselton, A. C. (2000). The First Epistle to the Corinthians: A commentary on the Greek text (1234). Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans, emphasis MJS).

There is no confusion or difficulty over the last enemy of “the death” being destroyed during Paul’s day when we realize that this death was spiritual Adamic death which was being magnified through Israel’s OC Torah – “the law” or “administration of death” (1 Cor. 15:56-57; 2 Cor. 3).  When the definite article “the” is in front of death, it is the spiritual death that came through Adam the very day he sinned that is in view.

However, there is understandable confusion and difficulty for the present tense of the death being destroyed for futurists who assume it is biological death and resurrection that is the last enemy to be destroyed throughout 1 Corinthians 15.  How was biological death in the process of being destroyed in Paul’s day and up to ours for the last 2,000 years?!?  Are arms sticking up out of the graveyards today – with biological corpses in the process of rising and overcoming death?!?  Obviously Paul has something else in view and futurists are not understanding him correctly.

The Present Passive Indicative – The Dead Were Rising

Related to the problem for the futurist for “the death” in the process of “being destroyed” in Paul’s day, is Paul’s use of the present passive indicative in other places in this chapter.

Although it is rare that a translation or commentator will point this issue out here in 15:26 (as I have cited above), they are all virtually silent when the present tense is being used in the following verses:

  • “But God is giving it a body” (v.32).
  • “…it is being..” (v. 38).
  • “…it is being raised in glory…” (43).
  • “…it is being raised in power…” (v. 43)
  • “…It is being sown a natural body, it is being raised a spiritual body…” (v. 43).

Since most think that the giving of a “body” and it being “sown” a natural body and then being raised in glory and power is allegedly addressing a biologically transformed individual body at Christ’s parousia to end world history, the present tense seems impossible.  But when the corporate body of Christ (the OC dead, those dead “in Christ” and those alive – that constitute that ONE body) is in view, Paul’s theology/eschatology begins to make more sense.

Let’s not forget that Postmillennialists such as James Jordan believe the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 was a progressive spiritual resurrection between AD 30 – AD 70 that resulted in Daniel’s soul being raised out of the realm of the dead ones into God’s presence, while at the same time Reformed orthodoxy tells us the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 is ONE and the SAME resurrection as that of 1 Corinthians 15.  Therefore, there is simply no reason to not see the progressive and spiritual resurrection that is taking place in 1 Corinthians 15 and honor the present passive indicative.

That God May Be All in All

This is the eschatological goal of the NT – that “all” of God’s presence would be in “all” of God’s people (the NC body Jew and Gentile).  The Holy Spirit’s presence was with the early church through the charismata and in forming Christ’s image (a spiritual transformation) in the Church.  But it was only at the Second Coming of Jesus in AD 70 that the Father and the Son would then make their home within the Church (ex. John 14:2-3, 23, 29; Lk. 17:20-21ff.; Cols. 1:27).  At the “end” of Christ’s pre-parousia reign, He would deliver the kingdom up to the Father and its process of being changed (2 Cor. 3) would be complete and consummated into it’s heavenly form.

1 Corinthians 15:29-34

Baptism on Behalf of the Dead

There has been much debate on the meaning of those being baptized on behalf of the dead (15:29).  However, the context would seem to indicate this is a baptism of suffering that is in view (vss. 30-32; see also Lk. 12:50/Mt. 20:20-23; Mt. 23:29-36; Heb. 11:39-40).  Paul’s point and overall argument is that if the OC dead were not and would not participate in the resurrection, then those Christians (such as Himself) that were undergoing a baptism of suffering, persecution and death/martyrdom on their behalf (the ONE body of Christ that included the OC dead) – were suffering and perishing in vain.  If the dead would not rise with those who had fallen asleep “in Christ,” then one might as well adopt the fatalistic mindset of “eat and drink, for tomorrow we die,” – for there would be no resurrection for anyone.

1 Corinthians 15:35-58

The Body (Greek soma) & Consistency within Pauline Theological Terms & Motifs

Much has been said and debated in recent years in regards to Paul’s use of the “body” (Greek soma) in his various epistles.  Many would insist that when Paul uses “body” in his letters to the various churches, he is mostly referring to an individualistic biological or fleshly body.  However, theologians such as Tom Holland are developing a proper cultural context in which Paul is writing with a Hebraic mindset or within a worldview that is rooted in the OT Scriptures – which sees the body more in a corporate sense and context.  Holland does a great job developing this in Romans 5-7 and 1 Corinthians 1-12 but we find him inconsistent and drops the ball in Romans 8 and 1 Corinthians 15.

Holland also has correctly observed that most of the time Paul uses particular theological phrases and terms in a consist way in writing to various churches – so that there is little confusion among them.  (Holland, Tom, CONTOURS IN PAULINE THEOLOGY, Mentor Imprint Christian Focus Pub., 2004, see pages 90 – 107 for this discussion).  And while we agree with this, we believe Holland is inconsistent with Paul’s consistent use of “the law” “the sin” and “the death” in relationship to being “in Adam” or “in Christ” when addressed in Romans 5-8 and then how he understands these terms and themes in 1 Corinthians 15.  In Romans Paul does not use these terms and the Adam / Christ motif to be discussing biological death and resurrection, but rather corporate modes of existence.  We argue that Paul uses these terms and motifs virtually the same way in 1 Corinthians 15 and thus is not addressing a biological death and resurrection motif of biological corpses.

Paul’s Seed Analogy & Being Buried Alive

Since the resurrection of the dead deniers did not deny a corporate bodily resurrection for themselves and those that had died “in Christ” (their side of the cross), then what is Paul’s point in using the seed analogy?  If Paul was correct in what he was saying thus far in his argumentation, then their objection would be something like, “How or what kind of body could the OC dead ones possibly be raised in since they died in the state of death found in Adam prior to Christ’s coming (thus they were susceptible to weakness, perishable and merely natural) – unattached from us who are “in Christ” where resurrection life is being realized (cf. 15:35)?”

Paul’s statement, “When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be,…” summarizes their thinking and error.  For them, they were the one spiritual body that was BOTH being sown spiritually and would be raised spiritually.  In other word’s they thought they sowed the same spiritual body that would be, which couldn’t be attached to the OC body that perished outside of Christ.  Paul uses the seed analogy to demonstrate that they (along with the OC dead ones) were not sown a spiritual body, but rather they had the same sowing/seed origins that the OC dead ones were in – i.e. still in a “perishable,” “dishonorable,” “weak,” “natural,” “Adamic” body of death.  The corporate body of Christ did not originate their side of the cross out of thin air, it originated in and came out of the form of the Adamic OC body (along with the OC dead ones).  The resurrection of the dead deniers needed to see that they were still apart of the OC body/world (with the OC dead) that had not passed away yet.

If Paul has a resurrection of biological corpses in view, then he doesn’t know how to teach and use illustrations very well.  Futurists believe the passage teaches that in biological death the body dies and then is buried or sown into the earth to be raised at the end of world history into a different form.  But for Paul in verse 36, the seed/body was not only in the process of being sown (under the earth), it was still alive and concurrently dying only to be raised into a different form.  Futurists are at odds with Paul’s teaching and illustration – which would amount to burrying corpses while alive, only to undergo a process of dying and then be raised.

In order to understand Paul’s buried alive and concurrently dying doctrine, or how “body” here in 1 Corinthians 15 is not a fleshly individual body but a corporate body, we must allow Paul to interpret himself elsewhere.  We will pick this subject up in Romans 5-8 when addressing the nature of the body in Adam or Christ when it surfaces again in verses 44-58.

I believe Don K. Preston’s thesis of Paul using Hosea 6 – 13 as an inclusio and working outline in 1 Corinthians 15 is an excellent observation:

Hosea: The Outline for Paul’s Resurrection Hope! (Don K. Preston, 2005, 2712 Mt. Washington Rd. Ardmore, Ok.)

  • Hosea: “He has torn but he will heal, after two days He will raise us up
  • 1 Corinthians 15: Christ rose 3rd Day according to the Scriptures Paul introduces Hosea at the very beginning of his discourse– and he closes his discourse by quoting Hosea.
  • Hosea: Israel the Seed (Jezreel–God sows): Israel sown in the earth (2.23).
  • 1 Corinthians 15: Except a Seed– “That which you sow is not quickened unless it die” (Jhn. 12).
  • Hosea: Israel destroyed/died (1.5– I will cause to cease the house of Israel):  Continuity/discontinuity Israel destroyed–Israel restored.
  • 1 Corinthians 15: You do not sow that which shall be (v. 37) That which you reap is not what you sow–that which is spiritual is not first, but the natural.
  • Hosea: Israel of Old carnal, sinful.
  • 1 Corinthians 15: It is sown a natural body (v. 42f).
  • Hosea: Israel sown in the earth (2.23).
  • 1 Corinthians 15: As we have borne the image of the earthy
  • Hosea: Harvest appointed for Judah when I return my people (6.11). 
  • 1 Corinthians 15: Jesus the first fruits (Jesus of Judah), of those who slept; OT saints i.e. Israel!! (15.12f).
  • Hosea: Time of the harvest= resurrection (13.14).
  • 1 Corinthians 15: Resurrection when Hosea fulfilled (15:54-56).
  • Hosea: Israel like the first fruit (9:10).
  • 1 Corinthians 15: Christ the first fruit of Israel (15:20f).
  • Hosea: They transgressed the covenant (6.7; they died, (v. 5; 13.1-2, 10)– Death for violating the Covenant.
  • 1 Corinthians 15: The strength of sin is “the law.” (15.56)–Death for violating the Law.
  • Hosea: New Covenant of Peace (2:18; Cf. Ez. 37:12, 25f)—> Covenant is covenant of marriage.
  • 1 Corinthians 15: 15:25– sit at my right hand…Heb. 10:14–time of the New Covenant (Rm. 11:26f.)– The marriage, thus, the Covenant —>Rev. 19:6.
  • Hosea: Israel restored in the last days when “David” rules (3.4-5).
  • 1 Corinthians 15: End of the ages has arrived (10.11), “then comes the end (15.20f) Christ on the throne (15.24f).
  • Hosea: I will be your God. I will be your king! (Hos. 13:10).
  • 1 Corinthians 15: 1 Corinthians 15:28 (God shall be all in all).
  • Hosea: Resurrection= restoration to fellowship.
  • 1 Corinthians 15: Resurrection when “the sin,” the sting of “the death, removed.

The resurrection of the dead deniers needed to be reminded that they were apart of OC Israel’s seed/body that was promised to be raised in the last day’s harvest to close her age.  Without their union in them into that seed/body, there would be no resurrection.

Israel had been sown in death and captivity but she was in the process of being raised, united together, and transformed through the good news of the new covenant.  Israel’s process of being transformed and being sown and rising from old covenant glory into new covenant glory in 1 Corinthians 15 & 2 Corinthians 3 should be viewed together.

The Natural Body & Spiritual Body

In the rest of the NT and within 1 Corinthians it’s self, “natural” does not have the meaning of a fleshly body or physicality:

“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”  (1 Co 2:14)

This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.” (Jas 3:15)

“These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.” (Jude 1:19)

The point of contrast is not the physical substance of man but rather man’s relationship to God under the realm of a covenant of death or being filled with the Holy Spirit walking in the newness of life under the NC.

It is difficult to see how the futurist view of a fleshly biological death and resurrection is in view when Paul goes out of his way to describe the resurrection for those in Christ as being raised into a “spiritual body” (15:44).  Or if the futurist believes “flesh and blood” is literal, how does that jive with Paul’s statement that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God,…” (15:50).

As we will see below, it is not a stretch to understand Paul’s Adamic “natural body” to be the Pauline Adamic “body of sin and death” or the “old man.” Likewise, in Pauline theology being “in Christ” or being conformed to His image is the “spiritual body.” This is Paul’s “new man” that was in the process of dying and rising and being conformed to Christ’s image.  Paul’s doctrine of the Church being in the process of taking off the old man and putting on the new while dying and rising in Romans and Colossians is in harmony with the Adamic seed/body simultaneously dying and rising in 1 Corinthians 15.

In Adam or in Christ & the Corporate Body Cont. 

Let’s take a look at the Pauline view of being in the corporate bodies of Adam (as a type) and Christ.

“But the death did reign from Adam till Moses, even upon those not having sinned in the likeness of Adam’s transgression, who is a type of him who is coming (Greek mello – or is about to come)” (Rms. 5:14 YLT).

To further demonstrate the resurrection for those in Christ is a spiritual resurrection is to notice that in Pauline “in Adam” or “in Christ” theology, Adam is a “type” and Christ the anti-type.  In the book of Hebrews the first was the physical type and shadow with the second and better being the spiritual anti-type.  The point is the anti-type is always spiritual, and that is what we see here in 1 Corinthians 15 of the second being a “spiritual body” that the NC Israel/Church is raised up into.

As I pointed out earlier, there are many similarities between Romans 5-8 and 1 Corinthians 15.  Therefore, let’s spend some time here in Romans to see how Paul develops these themes.

Here in Romans 5:14, the context is involving an eschatological future (“about to”) coming of Christ who is the anti-type of Adam.  It will be when the future hope of glory in verse 1-5 is realized (which Rms. 8:18YLT says was “about to be revealed”) and when they would be saved from a coming wrath in verse 10.

Most futurists such as Postmillennialist Keith Mathison believe Romans 5:12 teaches physical death for man and decay for the planet earth came through Adam’s sin and thus at Christ’s return He will reverse what Adam had brought upon the planet,

“As Paul explains, death entered the world because of Adam’s sin (Roms. 5:12).  God’s entire work of redemption from the moment of the Fall onward has been aimed at reversing the effects of sin in man and in creation.” (WSTTB?, p.196).

However, the immediate context of verse 12 is dealing with spiritual salvation described as “reconciliation” being given to the believer in verse 11.  The phrase “…death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned…” is discussing spiritual death not physical death or people would physically die when they “sin.”  As I discussed before, in Genesis Adam died spiritually the very day he sinned.  Through Adam came the reign of spiritual “death” and “condemnation” in verse 18.  This spiritual death and condemnation that came through Adam is countered by Christ because through Him the “free gift” of the gospel which is “grace” (v. 15), “justification” (v. 16), a “reign of life” (v.17), of which makes one “righteous” (v. 19) before God is realized.  These are spiritual graces upon the heart of man undoing the reign of spiritual death and condemnation brought through Adam.

Verses 20-21 are important, “Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  When the Mosaic law entered the picture it did not make physical death any worse, but it did increase and magnify the power and reign of spiritual death and sin in the heart of man.  This is most eloquently described by Paul in his struggle of what the law produced when it was brought upon his conscience in chapter 7.  Saul and the self righteous Jew thought they were “alive” under the law but when they realized that the law could only magnify their sin and it could not completely take it away they “died” (7:9).  Obviously Paul did not biologically die the day he realized this.  The entire context of Romans is dealing with overcoming the spiritual death passed down through Adam which was magnified through the giving of Torah.  This spiritual death was found in the corporate body of the sin, the death, and the flesh which Paul brings into and develops more in chapter 6.

As previously mentioned, fortunately, some Pauline reformed theologians are beginning to see what we have in these Pauline terms.  Paul is not addressing an individual resurrection of a physical “fleshly” corpse in Romans 6.

“the concrete mode of existence of sinful man, can sometimes be identified with sin as the ‘body of sin’ (Rom. 6:6), the ‘body of flesh’ (Col. 2:11), the ‘body of death’ (Rom. 7:24).  Accordingly, the life from Christ by the Holy Spirit can be typified as a ‘doing away with the body of sin’, ‘putting off of the body of the flesh, ‘putting to death the earthly members’, ‘deliverance from the body of this death’ Rom. 6:6; Col. 2:11; 3:5; Rom. 7:24) … All these expressions are obviously not intended of the body itself, but of the sinful mode of existence of man. (Tom Holland, CONTOURS OF PAULINE THEOLOGY A RADICAL NEW SURVEY OF THE INFLUENCE ON PAUL’S BIBLICAL WRITINGS, (Mentor Imprint, Scotland, UK:  2004), 90, emphasis MJS).

Quoting T.F. Torrance,

“in his death, the many who inhered in him died too, and indeed the whole body of sin, the whole company of sinners into which he incorporated himself to make their guilt and their judgment his own, that through his death he might destroy the body of sin, redeem them from the power of guilt and death, and through his resurrection raise them up as the new Israel” (Holland, ibid, 91).

This corporate view of the “body of sin” is also shared by F.F. Bruce,

“This ‘body of sin’ is more than an individual affair, it is rather that old solidarity of sin and death which all share ‘in Adam, but which has been broken by the death of Christ with a view to the creation of the new solidarity of righteousness and life of which believers are made part ‘in Christ.’” (Holland, ibid, 91, emphasis MJS)

Holland feels that T.W. Manson has come the closest to the truth,

“He questioned the traditional assumption that in the phrase ‘body of Sin’ the term ‘of Sin’ is a genitive of quality; he argued that it ‘does not yield a very good sense’.  He took it to be a possessive genitive, and said, ‘It is perhaps better to regard “the body of sin” as the opposite of “the body of Christ”.  It is the mass of unredeemed humanity in bondage to the evil power.  Every conversion means that the body of sin loses a member and the body of Christ gains one’” (Holland, ibid, 91, emphasis MJS)

And developing the corporate body motif commenting on (Roms. 6:6),

“Also, in 6:6 Paul refers to ‘putting off the old man’.  Once again this has traditionally been seen as a reference to the sinful self that dominated the life of the believer in the pre-converted state.  However, the same terminology is used in the Ephesisans 2:15 where Paul says ‘to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace’.  He then goes on to say in 4:22-23, ‘put off your old self (anthropos – man), created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.’  The exhortation is parallel to that in Romans 6:6ff.  Thus, the new man, which Paul exhorts the Romans to put on, is corporate, for ‘the new man’ in Ephesians is the church, and the two who have been united to form this new man are the believing Jews and the believing Gentiles.  This corporate understanding is further supported by Colossians 3:9-15…  The realm where distinctions are abolished (here there is no Greek or Jew, v. 11) is clearly corporate.  This is indicated by two considerations.  First, ‘here’ is clearly the realm where all distinctions are abolished, and this is the new man.  Second, the meaning of the one body into which they were called (v. 15) is obviously corporate.  These descriptions of corporateness are in the context of the description of the old and new self (vv. 9, 10).  The rendering of anthropos as self by the NIV and sarx as flesh in the AV has inevitably promoted the individualistic understanding and confused the mind of the English reader.  Furthermore, that Paul’s exhortation is corporate is shown in that he appeals to them, “as God’s chosen people clothe yourselves’ (v. 12).  Thus, identifying the imagery of the old and new man as being corporate, and appreciating that it is part of the description of the ‘body of Sin’ in Romans 6:6, along with the other considerations we have presented, establishes a corporate meaning for the term the ‘body of Sin’.” (Holland, ibid, 95-96).

Paul’s Consistent Use of Terms

Not only do I agree with Holland in his development of Paul being a Hebrew and thinking in Jewish collective or corporate body terms, I also agree with him that Paul has a “system of theology” that he draws on when he uses certain words, terms, and phrases throughout his various writings:

“Also, it seems quite inconceivable that a man of Paul’s intellectual caliber should be so haphazard as to be indifferent to these alleged inconsistencies.  At Paul’s instruction, his letters were being passed around the churches (Cols. 4:16).  Was he not concerned with consistency?” (Holland, ibid, p.107, emphasis MJS).

Paul’s theme’s of being in a corporate body, whether in “Adam” or “Christ” in Romans and 1 Corinthians 15 and being raised in the likeness of Christ or experiencing deliverance from “law” (Adam in the garden) or “THE law” (Israel groaning under the Mosaic law) has nothing to do with a casket resurrection from biological death for believers.  This is a soteriological resurrection from the spiritual death inherited from Adam.  The order of being planted or buried first and then simultaneously dying only to be changed and resurrected into Christ’s image is also the same in Romans and 1 Corinthians 15.

Don Preston has published a book by Daniel Rodgers entitled, The Last Enemy and the Triumph of Christ.  I enjoyed meeting Daniel at the PPW 2017 conference and listening to his lectures.  I also ordered and read a copy of his book when I returned from the conference.  There is a very helpful section in his book that addresses the terms Paul uses and shows how they don’t have anything to do with a biological resurrection.  I have obtained permission from him to quote this lethally section from his book.  Please be respectful and contact him or me if you want to use large portions of my articles (or his material which I will quote from here).  Daniel and I come from different theological perspectives – I am a Sovereign Grace New Covenant Calvinist and he comes from the C.O.C.  So while a may disagree with a couple of pages in his book, I found this section second to none:

“Corruption v Incorruption

Corruption (φθορά – G5356): Romans 8:21; Galatians 6:8; Colossians 2:22; 2 Peter 1:4; 2 Peter 2:12, 19

Incorruption (φθορά – G861): Romans 2:7; Ephesians 6:24; II Timothy 1:10; Titus 2:7

After reading the above verses to see how Paul and the other New Testament writers use them elsewhere, it can be seen that the term “corruption” has reference to life under the Law of Moses and life “in Adam.” Notice that it was possible to be under a state of “corruption” without having to be dead physically. Instead, this term had reference to life under the dominion of sin.

Likewise, “incorruption” was used to describe those in the body of Christ. Those enjoying the “incorruption” or “immortality” were those who had been added to the body (church) of Christ by responding positively to the gospel. Just as the church had to progress towards perfection, the individual Christians within the church had “incorruption” while at the same time waiting for it to come on the day when God’s wrath would be revealed (Romans 2:7). This idea is called by some the “already but not yet” of Eschatology. Because the “already” was not of a physical nature, it makes sense that the “not yet” would be of the same nature. If you saw the head of a dog coming around a corner, you would expect you see the tail of a dog – not of a cat – following shortly thereafter. The dog doesn’t change into something else just because it is fully revealed. In like manner, the nature of the incorruption remains the same from initiation to consummation.

Dishonor v Glory

Dishonor (ἀτιμία – G819): Romans 1:26; Romans 9:21; 2 Timothy 2:20

Glory (δόξα – G1391): Romans 2:7, 10; Romans 6:4; Romans 8:18; Romans 9:23; 1 Corinthians 2:7; 2 Corinthians 3:8-18

While there are many more verses we could reference, these are sufficient to show that “dishonor” can reference things that are contrary to the will of God. Compared to the glorious body of Christ, the body of Adam (death) could certainly be labeled as dishonorable. It was this body, which had been overcome by the last enemy, that Jesus was saving His people from by translating them into the kingdom and into His body.

Glory describes God. We, being a people who wish to conform to His image, seek for glory and honor. This glory is only to be found in the body of Christ. Paul describes the glory of the Old Covenant world to be in the process of passing away in the first century (2 Corinthians 3:11). What was being revealed was something more glorious: the perfect stature of Christ. The whole creation was shaking off the rags of sin and death to reveal attire of righteousness, of glory, and of honor.

Weakness v Power

Weakness (ἀσθένεια – G769): Matthew 8:17; Romans 6:19; Romans 8:26; 1 Corinthians 2:3; 2 Corinthians 13:4; Hebrews 4:15; Hebrews 5:2; Hebrews 7:28

Power (δύναμις – G1411): Matthew 24:30; Mark 9:1; Romans 1:16; 1 Corinthians 1:18; 1 Corinthians 4:20; 1 Corinthians 6:14; 2 Corinthians 13:4; Philippians 3:10; Hebrews 6:5

The New Testament writers used the word “weakness” to describe anything from sin to physical infirmities. Paul said that “flesh” is weak because of sin (Romans 6:19). It was for this reason that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.” Paul also said that “those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:8). How then does on get out of a state of weakness? What force does God use to enact this change? Paul stated in Romans 8:26 that the Spirit assisted the first century church with their infirmities, and truly the Spirit was sent to change the Old Covenant body of weakness into the New Covenant body of power (2 Corinthians 3:18).

The “power” has reference to the kingdom of God, to the gospel of Christ, and to those who are in the spirit. The kingdom was to come in power within the generation of those living in the first century at the same time that Jesus would come with power (Matthew 16:27-28). This would come after the time that God’s power unto salvation (the gospel) was preached unto all of the world (Matthew 24:14). After that planted seed had time to grow, the harvest was gathered and what was sown in weakness was raised in power (1 Peter 1:9, 18).

Natural v Spiritual

Natural (ψυχικός – G5591): 1 Corinthians 2:14; James 3:15; Jude 1:19

Spiritual (πνευματικός – G4152): Romans 15:27; 1 Corinthians 2:13, 15; 1 Corinthians 3:1; Ephesians 1:3; Colossians 1:19; 1 Peter 2:5

Within the book of 1 Corinthians, Paul compares the natural man and the spiritual man. Those were opposed to the gospel of Christ in Paul’s day were described as “natural.” Paul described them this way in 1 Corinthians 2:14 and 1 Corinthians 1:18. It was also used to describe those who were so focused on earthly things that they could not see the spiritual (1 Corinthians 3:1). Jude used this word to describe the Jews who were trying to bring the first century church under bondage (Jude 1:19).

On the other hand, the word spiritual describes the things that are from above. Those who have their focus on spiritual things can understand the importance of Jesus’ life-giving sacrifice while those who are more fleshly oriented cannot. The church is a spiritual organization made up of spiritual people (1 Peter 2:5). Christians, therefore, make up the spiritual body while those “in Adam” make up the natural body. Through the gospel of Christ, many were becoming dead to the natural body so that they could take part in the perfected spiritual body of Christ (Ephesians 4:13).

Earthy v Heavenly

Earthy (χοΐκός – G5517): Only used in 1 Corinthians 15:47, 48, 49

Heavenly (ἐπουράνιος – G2032): John 3:12; Ephesians 2:6; 2 Timothy 4:18; Hebrews 3:1; Hebrews 9:23; Hebrews 12:22

Earthy, again, describes those that are “in Adam.” When we are born again, we are no longer of the flesh of Adam, but are of above (John 3:3, 31). As seen in the verses above, heavenly things are things pertaining to the kingdom of God. The kingdom is described as heavenly and those that are members of the kingdom are also called heavenly.

If the first century church was heavenly already, and, at the same time, looking for the heavenly Jerusalem that was to come, why should we expect that the nature of the “not yet” be any different from what was already present? Paul boldly declared in Hebrews that they had arrived at Mount Zion which is the heavenly Jerusalem – the same Jerusalem that John saw descending from Heaven in Revelation 21 after the resurrection of the dead ones out of Hades. Are we still collectively at the mountain waiting to enter the kingdom, or are we currently residing therein?

Flesh and Blood v Spirit

Flesh and Blood (σάρξ – G4561; αἷμα – G129): Matthew 16:17; John 1:13; Galatians 1:16; Ephesians 6:12; Hebrews 2:14

While the word “spirit” is not mentioned in 1 Corinthians 15:50, we can certainly see it used in the context and can understand that it is the opposite of “flesh and blood.” While “flesh and blood” cannot inherit the kingdom of God, those that are spiritual can. The question is, then. How can one go from being “flesh and blood” to being “spirit?” We will start with Jesus who serves as the firstfruit, and, therefore, the example by which we follow. Jesus was the only begotten of the Father according to the flesh, but the firstborn of many brethren according to the Spirit. Jesus was, and will always be, the only person to ever be born in the way that He was – that is, by God through the flesh. No seed of man was involved in the birth of Jesus, because He was born of a virgin. This birth is unique, and He is the only one that will ever be the Son of God in this way, but thanks be to God that we can become the sons of God by being born of the Spirit.

Speaking of Jesus’ resurrection, Paul said, “God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm: ‘YOU ARE MY SON, TODAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN YOU.’” (Acts 13:33). Here’s a question: why was Jesus said to have been begotten of God at the time of His resurrection? Wasn’t He always the Son of God? Certainly, He was! What this passages teaches is that Jesus was born again. Jesus took on flesh and blood (John 1:14; Hebrews 2:14). When Jesus was resurrected, He left the covenantal realm of flesh and blood (that is, “in Adam”), and He became the first one to be born according to the Spirit and became the first member of the New Creation (Revelation 3:14).

To illustrate this, Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:5-6). Peter said, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit” (1 Peter 3:18). Following Jesus’ rule that He set out in John 3, when He was “born of woman,” He was “in the flesh,” but when He was begotten of God according to the Spirit, He was raised “in the Spirit” and became the “firstborn of many brethren” (Romans 8:29).

Those “brethren” are those called by the heavenly calling (Romans 8:28-29; Hebrews 3:1). They are the group that has chosen to put off corruption and to be conformed to the image of the Son of God. Paul exhorted the church at Rome saying, “And do not be conformed to this world [age – DR], but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2). Paul wrote the book of Romans to encourage the Gentile Christians to not submit to the bondage of the Old Law – that is, the “present evil age” that would pass away at the coming of the Lord (Matthew 24:3; Galatians 1:4). Instead, Paul wanted them to be born “…. not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:13).

Conclusion

The words used in 1 Corinthians 15 show us that Paul is not dealing with physical bodies, but two battling spiritual bodies – the body of the dominion of sin and the body of the domino of righteousness. The body of death was corruptible, dishonorable, weak, natural, earthy, and of flesh and blood. Members of that body cannot be a part of God’s kingdom (Galatians 5:19-21). The body of life is one of incorruption, glory, power, spirit, and of heaven. Members of this boy, the body of Christ, have all spiritual blessings because they have been resurrected into the heavenly places to reign with Christ (Ephesians 1:3; Ephesians 2:6).” (Daniel Rodgers, The Last Enemy and the Triumph of Christ, (Ardmore, Ok: JaDon Management, 2017), pages 47-51).

Back to the Corporate Body Motif

David Green helps harmonize Paul’s corporate body motifs,

“To find Paul’s meaning, we need only find where in Scripture Paul elaborated on the doctrine of a human “body” that had to be sown/planted/entombed and concurrently put to death, in order that it could be made alive and changed in the resurrection of the dead.  This takes us to Romans 6-8, Colossians 2, and Philippians 3.

In these Scriptures, especially in Romans 6, Paul teaches that believers had been bodily “planted,” through Spirit-baptism, into death / into the death of Christ, in order that the body that had been planted/buried (the “body of Sin,” the “mortal body,” the “body of Death,” the “body of the sins of the flesh,” the “vile body”) would be abolished / put to death, and then be made alive and changed/conformed to the image of the Son of God in the kingdom of heaven. Note the order: Burial then death.

This sequence in Romans 6 is exactly, step by step, what Paul teaches concerning the resurrection of the body in 1 Cor. 15:36-37 and its context.  Romans 6-8 and 1 Corinthians 15 both speak of concurrent bodyburial and body-death, followed by consummated body-death, bodyresurrection, and body-change. Futurist assumptions notwithstanding, there is no doubt that 1 Corinthians 15 and Romans 6-8 are speaking of the same burial, death, resurrection, and change—and therefore of the same body.

The Body

What then is “the body” that was being put to death in Romans 6-8 and 1 Corinthians 15? What is the meaning of the word “body” in these contexts?  Essentially, or basically, the “body” is the “self” or “person/personality” or “individual,” whether that of a singular saint or of the singular church universal (the body of Christ).

According to definition 1b of the word σωμα (body) in Arndt and Gingrich’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, the word “body” in Paul’s writings is sometimes “almost synonymous with the whole personality . . . σώματα [bodies] =themselves.”[5]

Note how that “body” and “yourselves” are used interchangeably in Romans 6:12-13:

Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting your members [of your mortal body] to sin as instruments of unrighteousness;

but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members [of your mortal body] as instruments of righteousness to God.

Compare also 1 Corinthians 6:15 and 12:27, where “you” and “your bodies” are synonymous:

  • . . . your bodies are members of Christ . . . . (1 Cor. 6:15)
  • . . . you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it. (1 Cor. 12:27)

See also Ephesians 5:28, where a man’s body-union with his wife is equated with “himself”:

So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself.

However, the word “body,” when it is used in reference to the eschatological resurrection, means more than merely the “self.” Paul is not using the word as a common reference to “the whole person.”

It does not refer to man’s anthropological wholeness (i.e., Material body+soul+spirit=the body). Paul is using the word in a theological eschatological sense to describe God’s people as they are defined either by the wholeness/fullness (body) of Adamic Sin and Death or the wholeness/fullness (body) of Christ. The body is either the “person” united with Sin and Death, or the “person” united with Christ, whether individually or corporately.

We can begin to see this in Colossians 3:5 (KJV), where the body parts (members) of the Sin-body are not arms and legs or other physical limbs. The members of the “earthly body” were death-producing “deeds,” such as “fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness . . . ” (cf. Rom. 8:13). Thus John Calvin wrote in his commentary on Romans 6:6:

“The body of sin . . . does not mean flesh and bones, but the corrupted mass . . . of sin.” Since a body is the sum of its parts, and since the parts of the Sin-body are sins/sinful deeds, it follows that “the body of Sin” is not the physical aspect of man.

Instead, the whole of the sins/deeds of the body equals the body of Sin. Or more accurately, the body of Sin was God’s people as they were identified with and defined by the Sin-reviving, Sin-increasing, Death-producing world of the Law.

When Paul said that believers were no longer walking according to “the flesh” (Rom. 8:1, 4, 9), he was saying that believers were putting to death the deeds of the “body” (Rom. 8:10-11, 13). The parts/members of the body equaled the deeds of “the body,” which equaled the walk of “the flesh.” “Flesh” and “body” in this context, therefore, describe man as he was defined by Sin, not man as he was defined by material body parts.

In Colossians 2:11, Paul said that God had buried believers with Christ, raised them up with Him, and had removed “the body of the flesh.” “The body of the flesh” was not the physical body. It was the Adamic man/self/person that had been dead in transgressions and in the spiritual uncircumcision of his “flesh” (Col. 2:13). That “body” (or as Ridderbos puts it, that “sinful mode of existence”)[6] had been “removed” in Christ and was soon to be changed into the glorious, resurrected “body” of Christ.

As a comparison of Colossians 2:11 and Colossians 3:9 reveals, “the body” of Sin is virtually synonymous with “the old man”:

  • . . . the putting off of the body of the sins of the flesh . . . . (Col. 2:11)
  • . . . having put off the old man with his practices (Col. 3:9; cf. Eph. 4:22)

Compare also 1 Corinthians 15:42 with Ephesians 4:22:

  • [The body] is sown in corruption . . . . (1 Cor. 15:42)
  • . . . the old man being corrupted . . . . (Eph. 4:22)

Compare also the references to “man” and “body” in Romans 7:24: 

  • Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from this body of Death?

And in Romans 6:6,

  • Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. (Rom. 6:6)

And in 1 Corinthians 15:44, 45:

  • . . . There is a natural body [the old man], and there is a spiritual body [the new Man]. And so it is written, the first [old] man [the natural body] Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam [the last Man, the spiritual body] a quickening spirit.

Since the natural body is nearly synonymous with the old man, we should expect that the spiritual body is nearly synonymous with “the new man,” the Lord Jesus Christ. Compare 1 Corinthians 15:53-54 with Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10 and Romans 13:14:

  • For this perishable [body] must put on the imperishable [body] . . . . (1 Cor. 15:53-54)
  • and put on the new man [the spiritual body], which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. (Eph. 4:24)
  • and have put on the new man [the spiritual body] who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him. (Col. 3:10)
  • But put on the Lord Jesus Christ [the new man, the spiritual body], and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts. (Rom. 13:14)

As most futurists agree, “the old man” and “the new man” are not expressions that describe man in terms of physicality. “The old man” was man as he was in Adam, alienated from God and dead in Sin. He was “the body of Sin.” The new Man is man as he is reconciled to God in Christ, the lifegiving Spiritual Body.” (David Green, Ed Hassertt, Michael Sullivan, House Divided Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology A Preterist Response to When Shall These Things Be?, Ramona, CA: 2009 Second Edition, 206-210).

The Eschatological Mystery

Elsewhere in Paul’s teaching on God’s “mystery,” he demonstrates how the OT predicted (and the NT revelatory gifts developed) the Jew / Gentile unity in the body of Christ.  Here, Paul is demonstrating how the living will be changed and raised with “all” the dead (including the OC dead) together – into the ONE raised and glorified body of Christ.

The Trumpet Change

While no one disputes Paul’s trumpet change here is the same trumpet catching away in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, Partial Preterist’s object that it is somehow different than Jesus’ trumpet gathering at His parousia in Matthew 24:27-31.  Of course this is pure eisegesis on their part and a failure to harmonize Jesus’ eschatology with Paul’s – as previously demonstrated.  While we agree that the coming of Christ in Matthew 24-25 was fulfilled spiritually in AD 70, we disagree with Mathison’s un-creedal and unorthodox position that Matthew 24-25 is not the “actual” Second Coming event and disagree with his error that Matthew 24-25 is not the same parousia and resurrection event as described for us in 1 Corinthians 15!

Paul is in harmony with Jesus when he says not everyone in his contemporary audience would die before experiencing Christ’s Second Coming trumpet change/gathering into the Kingdom (Mt. 16:27-28; 24:30-34/Lk. 21:27-32).

The living would be “changed” not in their physical biological substance, but rather in their covenantal stance before God.  The Adamic and OC body of death was natural, weak, mortal, and subject to being perishable.  It needed to be clothed and changed by the heavenly man.

The Perishable to be Clothed with Imperishable – the Mortal with Immortality & 2 Cor. 3-6

Paul is not describing an individuals biological body as being “perishable” and “mortal,” but rather the Adamic and Mosaic corporate body as “perishable” and “mortal” needing to be “clothed.”  To better understand Paul here, again it is important to let him interpret himself.

In 2 Corinthians 3-6 Paul contrasts the glories of the OC and NC with two houses/temples.  In 2 Corinthians 4 the resurrection is in view (vss. 13-14) and closes by expressing that this hope is not grounded on things which can be seen (that is physical and temporal), but on things that cannot be seen (that is spiritual and eternal) (v. 18).  The “earthly tent/house/temple” in 5:1 that would be destroyed is the corporate OC temple/house/system and the the spiritual “heavenly dwelling/temple/house” is the corporate NC system.  Their groaning for this house to be revealed from heaven to clothe them is realized in an AD 70 “soon” and “shortly” time frame in the form of the glorified New Jerusalem (which is the corporate body of the Church) coming down from heaven to earth in Revelation 21-22.  The NIV correctly captures the “already and not yet” of the New Jerusalem already being in the process of coming down (Rev. 3:12).  This already and not yet process is in harmony with the eschatological Pauline process of putting on Christ, being transformed into the image of Christ, dying and rising, and being sown and rising into a spiritual body.

Paul in 2 Corinthians 6:16 further elaborates that the NC Temple promised in Ezekiel 37:27 (and thus that of 40-47), is the corporate body of the Church.  Premillennial Dispensationalists would do well to follow the contextual flow of Paul and heed his teaching instead of following their hyper-literal hermeneutic which forces them to believe Ezekiel’s Temple promise will be a literal structure with Jesus sitting on a throne smelling its animal sacrifices in an imaginary future 1,000 year millennial period.

The “groaning” to be further clothed in 2 Corinthians 5:2ff. which correlates to the clothing resurrection of 1 Corinthians 15 is the “groaning” and AD 70 imminent “about to be revealing” of God’s glory within the Church – which in context, results in the full adoption of sons, the liberation of creation (of God’s people) and the “redemption of the body.”

Postmillennial Partial Preterist Gary DeMar admits the Greek word mello in Romans 8:18YLT should be translated as “about to be” and was fulfilled in AD 70.  But to admit this is to admit the events of 18-23 were also fulfilled in AD 70.

Postmillennial Partial Preterist John Lightfoot concedes the Greek word kitisis “creation” in Romans 8 is not referring to the planet earth, but the creature/creation of God’s people (as in Cols. 1:23).  

Paul’s OT Echo’s – Hosea 13 / Isaiah 25

As there is a movement within the Reformed and Evangelical community that seeks to develop Paul’s Hebraic corporate body origins that is beginning to see what Full Preterist’s have for the last 30 years, there is also a movement led by Richard Hayes which emphasizes developing the OT context of an OT reference or echo mentioned in the NT.  For example Hayes writes,

“Thematic Coherence How well does the alleged echo fit into the line of argument that Paul is developing?  Does the proposed precursor text fit together with the point Paul is making?  Can one see in Paul’s use of the material a coherent “reading” of the source text?  Is his use of the Isaiah texts consonant with his overall argument and/or use made of other texts? (Richard Hays, The CONVERSION of the IMAGINATION Paul as Interpreter of Israel’s Scripture, Eerdmans pub., 2005, 38).

“Satisfaction Does the proposed intertextual reading illuminate the surrounding discourse and make some larger sense of Paul’s argument as a whole?  “…A proposed intertextual reading fulfills the test of satisfaction when we find ourselves saying, “Oh, so that is what Paul means here in passage x; and furthermore, if that’s right, then we can begin to understand what he means in passage y and why he uses these certain words in that place.”  (Hayes, ibid. 44).

In other words, one is encouraged to find and develop as many similarities between that OT original context with the context and flow of the NT author in order to understand how he is using it.  Therefore, it is important to examine what kind of bodily death and resurrection are taking place in Hosea 13 and in Isaiah’s little apocalypse Isaiah 24-28, to help understand Pauls use of them in 1 Corinthians 15:54-55.  This will help us understand the kind of bodily resurrection Paul has in mind.

Isaiah 24-28 – Isaiah’s Little Apocalypse

Due to Israel breaking her OC law (primarily for persecuting and putting to death their poor brethren – the sin of blood guilt), Israel’s covenantal world undergoes an apocalyptic de-creation and shaking process and she corporately and spiritually dies in the form of being ruled over by Gentile leaders.  Through captivity and bondage, Babylon scattered her outside of her land.  When Israel repents and is gathered back into the land she undergoes a spiritual, corporate and covenantal resurrection as described in Ezekiel 37.

In other word’s Israel is a corporate Adam, and just as when Adam broke Edenic covenantal law and died a spiritual covenantal death resulting in Him being scattered from God’s presence, so too when Israel broke covenant, she underwent a covenantal spiritual death that resulted in her being scattered from God’s presence away from their temple and land.

The time of the eschatological wedding is the time of the resurrection (Isa. 25:6-8) and Jesus identifies the time of the wedding to take place when the Roman armies would judge and burn Jerusalem, or within the AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” (Mt. 22:1-14; Mt. 24:27-34—25:1-13).

Paul’s other reference to Isaiah is his trumpet change which takes place at Christ’s parousia bringing about the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15:23, 52 is the trumpet gathering of Isaiah 27:12-13.  And again, this is the OT echo and foundation to the trumpet gathering and trumpet catching away of Matthew 24:30-31 and 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 that would take place in the AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” and of which Paul taught (under inspiration) and thus expected his first century “we” audience to experience.

 Hosea

Hosea’s context is clear enough as well.  Due to Israel’s spiritual adultery with Baal and breaking their OC law, God gave Israel a certificate of divorcement.  The corporate body of Israel breaking the OC law resulted not only in a divorce, but is also described as Israel dying a covenantal and spiritual death.  This death is described as God sowing Israel as a seed into the Gentile lands throughout the Assyrian Empire.  Once again we see the same kind of corporate covenantal death that came through Adam and Israel when they broke covenant and became spiritually dead and scattered/separated from God’s presence.

But Israel would once again be betrothed and married to God in her “last days.”  The “last days” are the last days of the OC age which ended in AD 70 and is consistent with the “this generation” coming of Christ that results in the eschatological wedding / marriage that takes place in the OD.

Simply put there is no biological casket resurrection that takes place at the end of world history found in Hosea or Isaiah – of which Paul uses as his source for the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15.  The parallels are a spiritual corporate and covenantal resurrection – not an individual biological resurrection.  This is consistent with what we have seen earlier when harmonizing Paul with Paul in Romans 5-8 and 1 Corinthians 15.

Victory Over the Mosaic OC “the Law” = Victory Over “the Sin” and “the Death”

Some commentators not only puzzle over the present tense of “the death” being destroyed in Paul’s day, but they also puzzle over his reference to the OC “the law” thrown in with the timing of the victory over “the sin” and “the death.”  These last two references seem to correlate well with the resurrection, but what does the Mosaic OC “the law” have to do with it — especially since most futurists see the OC Mosaic law being done away with at the cross?

However, there is no problem for the Full Preterist who correctly sees the resurrection as “about to” take place in Paul’s day bringing an end to the OC’s “this age” at Christ’s “this generation” parousia (Acts 24:15YLT; Mt. 13:39-43; Mt. 24:27-31, 34).  When it came to Paul’s teaching on the resurrection before his accusers, he claimed he wasn’t teaching anything that couldn’t be found in the law and prophets – and Hosea 13 / Isaiah 25 / Daniel 12 are resurrection passages contained in the OC “the law” and prophets which Jesus said would be fulfilled in the AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” (cf. Lk. 21:22, 32).  Jesus does not posit the OC “heaven and earth” of the law and prophets to be fulfilled at the cross, but rather in His generation (Mt. 5:17-18 / Mt. 24:34-35).  This is when it was all fulfilled and that heaven and earth system “soon” “vanished” (Heb. 8:13).

Death would be swallowed up and victory over it’s sting would only be accomplished when victory over “the law” was attained.  This was brought to fruition at Christ’s first century generation parousia that closed and fulfilled the promises contained in the Mosaic OC age of “the law.” 

Concluding Matthew 24 and 1 Corinthians 15           

After a careful examination of Paul’s modus tollens logical form of argumentation it becomes evident that the resurrection of the dead deniers were not denying Christ’s resurrection or those Christians that had died “in Christ” (the NC side of the cross).  They were in effect denying resurrection to a specific group – the OC dead, whom they assumed they had replaced or were not a part of the NC body of Christ as they were.

As we have seen the parallels between Matthew 24 and 1 Corinthians 15 demonstrate that a AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” and contemporary first century “we” expectation of the parousia and resurrection was realized and fulfilled in AD 70.

When we allowed Paul to interpret himself (using Romans 5-8) we came to a Scriptural understanding of “the body” that was in the process of concurrently dying and rising (present tense) and was “about to be” redeemed.  The corporate and covenantal context and transformation of 2 Corinthians 3-6 also helped us understand what kind of body the early church was “clothed” with (and continues to be clothed with) at Christ’s parousia in AD 70.

The examination of Paul’s OT texts (Isa. 25 & Hos. 13) to support His resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15 were found to have nothing to do with a casket resurrection of individual biological corpses.

Rather, the cohesiveness and harmony for using those OT texts for Paul was to develop a spiritual, corporate and covenantal resurrection to close the OC age in AD 70 at Christ’s ONE imminent parousia.

When victory over the Mosaic OC “the law” came, then victory and resurrection over “the sin” and “the death” was realized.  Victory over the OC “the law” was realized when all of it’s promises were fulfilled and or it’s “heaven and earth” “soon” passed away at Christ’s imminent AD 70 “in a very little while” Second Coming which ended the last days of the OC age (Lk. 21:22-32; Mt. 5:17-18; Heb. 8:13; 9:26-28; 10:37).

“Orthodox” Postmillennial Partial Preterism is teaching that there was a progressive, spiritual, corporate, covenantal resurrection for Israel and the church between AD 30 – AD 70 that resulted in souls being raised out from the realm of the dead into God’s presence at the parousia of Christ in AD 70 (per Dan. 12:1-7,13 and other texts).  As we have seen, THIS IS the resurrection of 1 Corinthians 15!  Selah.

In our next study, we will look at what Postmillennialists are saying of the coming of Christ and the “redemption” of (Luke 21:27-28) and the “about to be” glorification and “redemption of the body” in (Roms. 8:18-23YLT).

To Watch these Lectures or Read this Series go to:  

First Lecture at the PPW 2017 Conference Part 1: Problems for Postmillennial Partial Preterism – My Approach and Methodology (the Analogy of Faith) http://fullpreterism.com/my-lecture-on-the-problems-of-postmillennialism-at-the-2017-ppw-conference-the-wedding-and-resurrection-motif/

First Lecture at the 2017 PPW Conference Part 2:  Problems for Postmillennial Partial Preterism – God’s Divorce, Re-marriage and NC Betrothal http://fullpreterism.com/my-lectures-given-at-the-2017-ppw-on-the-problems-with-postmillennialism-wedding-resurrection-part-2-gods-ot-marriage-divorce-betrothal-and-remarriage-promises/

First Lecture at the 2017 PPW Conference Part 3:  Problems for Postmillennial Partial Preterism – Wedding and Resurrection (Jn. 3-5) http://fullpreterism.com/my-2017-ppw-lecture-on-the-problems-with-postmillennialism-wedding-resurrection-part-3-john-3-5-and-nt-betrothal-and-marriage/

First Lecture at the 2017 PPW Conference Part 4:  Problems for Postmillennial Partial Preterism – Wedding and Resurrection (Mt. 8:10-12/Mt. 22:1-14/Mt. 25:1-13) http://fullpreterism.com/my-2017-ppw-lecture-on-the-problems-with-postmillennialism-wedding-and-resurrection-part-4-mt-810-12-221-14-251-13isa-256-9/

Second Lecture at the 2017 PPW Conference Part 5:  Problems for Postmillennial Partial Preterism – The Parable of the Wheat and Tares and the Resurrection (Mt. 13:39-43/Dan. 12:2-3) http://fullpreterism.com/my-2017-ppw-lecture-on-the-problems-with-postmillennialism-in-the-parable-of-the-wheat-and-tares-the-end-of-the-age-and-the-resurrection-mt-1339-43dan-122-3/

Second Lecture at the 2017 PPW Conference Part 1:  Problems for Postmillennial Partial Preterism in the Olivet Discourse – Structure, Context, the Disciples Question(s), the end of the age and the Great Commission (Mt. 23-24; Mt. 24:3, 14 = Acts 1:8-11) http://fullpreterism.com/lecture-2-at-the-2017-ppw-problems-for-postmillennialism-in-the-olivet-discourse-house-divided-the-break-up-of-postmillennialism-and-the-formation-of-full-preterism-taking-its-place/

Second Lecture at the PPW 2017 Conference Part 2:  Problems for Postmillennial Partial Preterism in the Olivet Discourse – “In Fulfillment of ALL that has been Written” (Lk. 21:22 = Dan. 7:9-14; 12:1-7, 13; Isa. 25:6-9—27:12-13) http://fullpreterism.com/2804-2/

Second Lecture at the PPW 2017 Conference Part 3: Problems for Postmillennial Partial Preterism in the Olivet Discourse (Resurrection Cont.) – the Trumpet Gathering of Matthew 24:30-31 = the Trumpet Catching Away of 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 http://fullpreterism.com/my-ppw-conference-lecture-2-the-problems-for-postmillennialism-in-the-olivet-discourse-matthew-2430-31-1-thessalonians-415-17/

Second Lecture at the PPW 2017 Conference Part 4:  Problems for Postmillennial Partial Preterism in the Olivet Discourse (Resurrection Cont.) – the Trumpet Gathering of Matthew 24:30-31 = the Trumpet Change of 1 Corinthians 15 http://fullpreterism.com/ppw-2017-the-problems-for-postmillennialism-the-olivet-discourse-matthew-24-25-and-the-resurrection-of-1-corinthians-15/

My Second Lecture At The PPW 2017 Conference Part 3: The Problems For Postmillennialism – The Olivet Discourse the Gathering of the Elect/Resurrection Event of Matthew 24:30-31 = 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17

House Divided the Break-up of Postmillennialism and the Formation of Full Preterism

Introduction: 

At this point I’m going to be combining some material I produced for a lecture I did at one of the Berean Bible Conferences dealing with refuting the various literal rapture positions of some Postmillennialists and Partial Preterists with what I presented this year at the PPW Conference on the Problems for Postmillennialists in Matthew 24-25. 

In order to exegetically and logically reconcile the various Postmillennial and Reformed views on Daniel 7:13; 12:1-7; Matthew 24:30-31; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 and 1 Corinthians 15, I must demonstrate that the trumpet coming of Christ and the resurrection of 1 Thessalonians 4-5 and 1 Corinthians 15 are the SAME spiritual coming of Christ and spiritual resurrection Postmillennialists are saying was fulfilled in Matthew 24-25 and Daniel 12 to close the OC age in AD 70.  This is not difficult.

Again, my approach is to simply follow the hermeneutical methods of the Reformed and Postmillennialist community to build my case:

  • Paul in 1-2 Thessalonians is using Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 24 as his source.
  • The “parallels” and use of “similar language” between Paul’s writings and Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 24 prove the same coming and eschatological event is in view.
  • Following the “scriptural references” or the use of the analogy of faith found in The Reformation Bible produced by two Postmillennial editors.
  • The coming of the Son of Man and the resurrection of Daniel 7:13 and 12:2-3 is the ONE Second Coming and resurrection event as described for us in Matthew 24:30-31 and 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17.
  • The resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 was fulfilled spiritually at Christ’s parousia in AD 70.

The Second Coming and Resurrection Event 

“Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the tribes of the earth [land] will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.” (Mt. 24:30-31).

In the Reformed Study Bible edited by Postmillennial Partial Preterists R.C. Sproul and Keith Mathison we learn this of Matt. 24:30-31:

“But the language of Matt. 24:31 is parallel to passages like 13:4116:27; and 25:31 [passages Postmillennialists such as Mathison and DeMar 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.”

This is more than a bit odd since R.C. Sproul and Keith Mathison believe and teach the coming of Christ in Matthew 24:27-30 (and Mathison 25:31) was spiritually fulfilled in AD 70 – and yet we learn in their own Study Bible these passages “most naturally refer to the Second Coming”!

John Murray appealing to the “analogy of faith” principle of interpretation in examining this passage writes,

“There is ample allusion to the sound of the trumpet and to the ministry of angels elsewhere in the New Testament in connection with Christ’s advent (1 Cor. 15:52; 1 Thess. 4:16).  Hence verse 31 can most readily be taken to refer to the gathering of the elect at the resurrection.” (John Murray, COLLECTED WRITINGS OF JOHN MURRAY 2 Systematic Theology, (Carlisle, PA:  THE BANNER OF TRUTH TRUST, 1977), p. 391).

Before developing the “parallels” and the analogy of faith principle of interpretation between Matthew 24, 1 Thessalonians 4 and 1 Corinthians 15, let’s first examine the fact that Postmillennialism admits Paul is drawing from the OD in 1 and 2 Thessalonians and that they recognize the use of parallels to be a legitimate use of exegesis.

Since Kenneth Gentry has to get rid of the apostasy in order to prop up Postmillennialism, he has to have 2 Thessalonians 2 fulfilled in AD 70.  In order to do this, he has to appeal to the OD and recognize that Paul is drawing from material Jesus says would be fulfilled in the AD 70 “this generation.”   Therefore, Gentry admits that,

“Most commentators agree that the Olivet Discourse is undoubtedly a source of the Thessalonian Epistles.” (Kenneth Gentry, Perilous Times: A Study in Eschatological Evil (Texarkana, AR: Covenant Media Press, 1999), 100, n. 19. Here Gentry cites D.A. Carson, Matthew, in Frank E. Gaebelein, ed., The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, 12 vols. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984), 8:489; and G. Henry Waterman, The Sources of Paul’s Teaching on the 2nd Coming of Christ in 1and 2 Thessalonians, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 18:2 (June 1975); 105–113.

Yet, Gentry’s sources of authority end up “proving too much” in that both D.A. Carson and G. Henry Waterman make virtually the same parallels between Matthew 24 and 1 Thessalonians 4–5 that we do (big “oops”).  But before we get to those parallels, let’s continue to examine the “parallel” hermeneutic of Postmillennialism.  Keith Mathison following Gary DeMar believes 2 Thessalonians 2 was fulfilled in AD 70 and Paul was following Jesus’ eschatology in Mt. 24 because of “these parallels”:

  1. a coming of our Lord (2 Thess. 2:1; cf. Matt. 24:27, 30),
  2. a gathering together to Him (2 Thess. 2:1; cf. Mattt. 24:31),
  3. apostasy (2 Thess. 2:3; cf. Matt. 24:5, 10-12),
  4. the mystery of lawlessness (2 Thess. 2:7; Matt. 24:12),
  5. satanic signs and wonders (2 Thess. 2:9-10; cf. Matt. 24:24),
  6. a deluding influence on unbelievers (2 Thess. 2:11; cf. Matt. 24:5, 24).” (Mathison, From Age to Age, 515).

And Postmillennialist Gary DeMar in his Last Days Madness teaches the coming of Christ in 1 Thessalonians 5 was fulfilled in AD 70 because Paul is drawing from Jesus’ teaching in the OD using “similar phrases” or language such as Him coming “like a thief” or the use of “birth pains.”  But notice ALL of the “parallels” and use of “similar language” Paul is taking from Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 24 that DeMar arbitrarily passed over:

Matthew 24 1 Thessalonians 5
1.  Exact time unknown (24:36) 1.  Exact time unknown (5:1-2)

 

2.  Christ comes like a thief (24:43)

 

2.  Christ comes like a thief (5:2)

 

3.  Unbelievers caught unaware (37-39)

 

3.  Unbelievers caught unaware (5:3)

 

4.  Birth pains (24:8)

 

4.  Birth pains (5:3)

 

5.  Believers are not deceived (24:43)

 

5.  Believers are not deceived (5:4-5)

 

6.  Believers told to be watchful (24:42)

 

6.  Believers told to be watchful (5:6)

 

7.  Exhortation against drunkenness (24:49)

 

7.  Exhortation against drunkenness (5:7)

 

8.  The Day, Sunlight shinning from east to west, (24:27, 36-38)

 

8.  The Day, sons of light, sons of day (1 Thess. 5:4-8)

 

The reason why Postmillennialists such as DeMar don’t want to develop ALL of the parallels between Matthew 24 and 1 Thessalonians 5 is because if they do, the reader will inevitably see all of the parallels between Matthew 24 and the coming of Christ in 1 Thessalonians 4 and that of course would prove the eschatological trumpet gathering and catching away of Matthew 24:30-31 and 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 are the same event and were thus fulfilled in AD 70 as well.

Having looked at the main authors defending Postmillennialism today and The Reformation Study Bible (which they have edited and produced) when it comes to the use the analogy of faith, “parallels” and the use of “similar language” to make their cases in connecting Matthew 24 with that of 1 and 2 Thessalonians and 1 Corinthians 15, let’s now be more exegetically consistent and bridge the gap between their irreconcilable differences (that their creedal doctrine of a physical resurrection at the end of world history has created for them).

The Analogy of the Faith or Scripture Hermeneutic:  Teaches us that Scripture interprets Scripture and that Scripture cannot contradict Scripture.  Yet, so far from the writings and co-authors of Postmillennialists on Matthew 24; 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 and 1 Corinthians 15 we are getting contradictory interpretations that can easily be resolved. 

In mathematics and logic: If A bears some relation to B and B bears the same relation to C, then A bears it to C.  If A = B and B = C, then A = C.  Therefore, things which are equal to the same thing are also equal to one another. If equals be added to equals, the wholes are equal.

  • A = (Matt. 24:27-31, 34)
  • B = (1 Thess. 4:15-17)
  • C = (1 Cor. 15)

Premise #1:  Since it is true and orthodox to believe that the coming of Christ in A (Matt. 24:27-31, 25:31ff.) was fulfilled spiritually in AD 70 (Postmillennialism & Full Preterism agree).

Premise #2:  And since it is also true that A (Matt. 24:27-31; 25:31ff.) is the same or ONE Second Coming event described for us in B (1 Thess. 4:15-17) and C (1 Cor. 15) (Amillennialism, Historic Premillennialism and some Postmillennialists agree with Full Preterism),

Conclusion:  Then it is also true and orthodox to believe that both B (1 Thess. 4:15-17) and C (1 Cor. 15) were fulfilled spiritually at Christ’s ONE parousia or Second Coming event in AD 70. In other words, “Things which are equal to the same thing are also equal to one another. If equals be added to equals, the wholes are equal.”

Since A (Mat. 24) is = to B (1 Thess. 4) or “if A bears some relation to B”

Matthew 24 1 Thessalonians 4-5
Christ Returns from Heaven 24:30 4:16
With Voice of Arch Angel 24:31                                       4:16
With Trumpet of God 24:31                                              4:16 – The trumpet gathering resurrection of Isa. 25-27 
Caught/Gathered Together with/to Christ 24:31 4:17 – The resurrection of the dead of Isa. 25-27
To “Meet” (marriage term) the Lord in the Clouds 24:30 & 25:6 4:17 – The wedding/resurrection of Isa. 25-27
The Exact Time Unknown 24:36 5:1-2
Christ Comes as a Thief 24:43 5:2
Unbelievers Caught Off Guard 24:37-39 5:3
Time of Birth Pangs 24:8 5:3
Believers Not Deceived 24:43 5:4-5
Believers to Be Watchful 24:42 5:6
Exhorted to Sobriety 24:49 5:7
Son/Sunlight Shinning From E. to W. / Sons of the Day 24:27, 36, & 38 5:4-8  *This is a unique parallel that I have developed.

My Brief Testimony

Now one can see why Postmillennialists such as Gary DeMar or Keith Mathison deceptively (in my opinion) do not want to consistently draw attention to all of the “parallels” or use of “similar language” between Matthew 24 and 1 Thessalonians 5 since such a hermeneutic would beg the question from the reader, “well, what about all the ‘parallels’ and ‘similar language’ between Matthew 24:30-31 and 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17”?!?

This is exactly how I became a Full Preterist (even though I didn’t know such a view existed).  In 1990-91 I had a hard time with Postmillennialists only giving an exegesis of Matthew 24 up to verse 34-36.  I was doing a study on Christ coming as a thief and noticed that David Chilton in his writings (Paradise Restored and Days of Vengeance) applied Christ coming as a thief in 24:43 as fulfilled in AD 70.  This was my conclusion as well, but this meant there were not two comings of Christ in Matthew 24-25 and Postmillennialists such as Chilton at the time was hiding this belief and not trying to develop it due to it’s conflict with the creeds.  I agreed with Amillennialists and some historic Premillennialists that saw ALL the parallels between Matthew 24 and 1 Thessalonains 4-5 as ONE event, and yet at the same time I believed Postmillennialists were accurate to believe Matthew 24 happened spiritually in AD 70.  I concluded that the “rapture” and resurrection of 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 must be understood spiritually as well.  And if Paul is drawing from Jesus’ teaching in the OD, then Paul is using apocalyptic language just as Jesus did.  It is important to note that it was in reading Scripture and Reformed works on eschatology that brought me to Full Preterism.  There were no other outside influences.  Over time God would lead me to men that saw what I was seeing – and that was very comforting!

Reformed Eschatology Makes the Same Parallels

Reformed theologian G.K. Beale agrees with Full Preterism on two issues here.  First he agrees that Paul is using recapitulation between 1 Thessalonians 4-5 (or that both chapters describe the same coming and event) and secondly, he agrees with us that Paul is drawing from Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 24,

“…1 Thess. 4:15-17 describes generally the same end-time scenario as 1 Thess. 5:1-11.  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 also 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,…” (G.K. Beale, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series 1–2 Thessalonians (Downers Grove, IL: Inter Varsity Press, 2003), 136).

As I have previously demonstrated, Jesus used recapitulation in Matthew 24-25.  In 24:30-31 Jesus’ coming is describing the gathering or resurrection of believers.  In 25:31-46 His coming includes a judgment (and thus resurrection) for the unbelieving dead as well.  So it should not surprise us that Paul is using recapitulation here to connect 1 Thessalonians 4-5.  In 4:16-17 the emphasis on His coming is the resurrection of believers.  In chapter 5 His coming includes the judgment for unbelievers.  One has to be blind not to notice what Beale sees, “…both passages [1 Thess. 4-5] actually form one continuous depiction of the same narrative in Matthew 24…” and one has to be equally blind not to notice that Jesus’ places this coming in His generation!

Beale goes on to connect 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” (1 Thess. 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 1 Thess. 4:17; see further Waterman 1975).”  (Beale, Ibid, 136–137).  Once again the eschatological time of the wedding in AD 70 creates problems for Postmillennialists, because this is also synonymous with the time of the resurrection of Isaiah 25:6-9/1 Cor. 15:54-56.

The “Thorny Problem” For Beale and Reformed Eschatology

In a more recent work Beale now seems to lean in the direction of Partial Preterism – that the coming of the Son of Man in Matthew 24:30 was fulfilled in AD 70 and not at the end of history:

“The clearest reference to Jesus as the Son of Man from Daniel 7:13 come in the third category (which he identifies as “those that refer to Jesus’ future coming in glory”), where there are quotations of Dan. 7:13 (Matt. 24:30, Mark 13:26, Luke 21:27).  However, it is likely better to see most of these third-category references fulfilled not at the very end of history but rather in AD 70 at the destruction of Jerusalem, in which the Son of Man’s coming would be understood as an invisible coming in judgment, using the Roman armies as his agent.  The reference in Matt. 25:31 to “the Son of Man” who will “come in His glory” and “sit on His glorious throne” is not a quotation of but rather an allusion to Dan. 7:13-14, which clearly is applied to the very end of the age at Christ’s final coming. 

If this view is correct, it may be that the AD 70 coming of Christ in judgment as portrayed by the Synoptics is a typological foreshadowing of his final coming in judgment.  However, the traditional view that the coming of the Son of Man in the Synoptic eschatological discourse refers to Christ’s final coming certainly is plausible.  This issue is a thorny one that still deserves much more study.” (G.K. Beale, A NEW TESTAMENT BIBLICAL THEOLOGY THE UNFOLDING OF THE OLD TESTAMENT IN THE NEW, (Grand Rapids, MI:  Baker Academic, 2011), 396 n. 27—397.  (emphases added)).

This indeed is a “thorny” problem for Mr. Beale to affirm in one work that the

coming and implied resurrection gathering at the end of the age in Matthew 24:30-31

is the same Second Coming of Christ and resurrection event as described by Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 and is now trying to affirm that the coming and resurrection gathering of Matthew 24:30-31 was fulfilled in AD  70.  Why? Because both of these are full preterist or “hyper-preterist” interpretations to take on these texts.  Beale due to creedal commitments, will not accept that full preterism has done the “more study” necessary in order to reconcile the exegetical problems he and his “orthodox” colleagues have created.

But is Beale then saving himself from this “thorny” problem by citing Matthew 25:31 as “clearly” the end of time or end of the age coming of Christ?  Not when you consider that partial preterists combined such as Mathison, DeMar and McDurmon have clearly seen this passage was fulfilled in AD 70 as well and not Christ’s “actual” Second Coming. But this then creates more thorny problems for these men such as the marriage that follows Matthew 25:10 (as I discussed in lecture one on the marriage feast).  How many times does Christ in His Parousia consummate His marriage with the church within Postmillennial theology?  How can they criticize Dispensationalism for having TWO resurrections and TWO eschatological weddings when their Partial Preterism is forcing them into the same error, just a different version of TWO fulfillments for these events?!?

Mathison attempts to avoid the unified parallels between Matthew 24–25 and 1 Thessalonians 4–5 by claiming that his Reformed brothers and “hyper-preterists” merely assume that “Jesus is speaking of his second advent when he speaks of ‘the coming of the Son of Man’ in Matthew 24 and that Paul is speaking of the same thing in 1 Thessalonians 4.” (Mathison, From Age to Age, 515).  The self-evident fact of the matter however is that Mathison turns a blind eye to overwhelming evidence because Mathison assumes that partial Preterism is right. It is more than inconsistent to claim preterist parallels between Matthew 24 and 2 Thessalonians 2 and between Matthew 24 and 1 Thessalonians 5, and then deny the obvious parallels between Matthew 24 and 1 Thessalonians 4. But this is what partial preterists such as Mathison do.  (Mathison, Postmillenialism, 226, 230).

Because Gentry’s Postmillennial colleagues such as DeMar and Mathison no longer divide the OD, he remains committed to the creedal view that the OD does discuss the Second Coming event but now concedes that Matthew 24–25 does not necessarily need to be divided and that all of Matthew 24 could be addressing one coming of Christ in AD 70:

“Orthodox preterists see no doctrinal problems arising if we apply all of Matthew 24 to A.D. 70. We generally do not do so because of certain exegetical markers in the text. But if these are not sufficient to distinguish the latter part of Matthew 24 from the earlier part, it would not matter.” Kenneth Gentry, He Shall Have Dominion (Draper, VA: Apologetics Group Media, 2009), 540).

The fact of the mater is that they do see a “problem” here if the OD is only addressing Christ coming in AD 70 – they just don’t want to admit it.  The “problem” is that virtually all scholars and commentators tell us that Matthew 24–25 forms the foundation to and contains parallel prophetic material to Matthew 13; 1 Corinthians 15; 1 Thessalonians 4–5; 2 Peter 3; Revelation 20–21; etc… Yet Mathison and DeMar claim Matthew 24–25 was fulfilled in AD 70 and Gentry doesn’t see a problem with it?!?  How can these things be, indeed?  This is why partial preterism gains a following for a short period, and then its students end up coming to “hyper-preterism” for a more consistent and exegetical approach that is in harmony with the analogy of Scripture.

Another problem for Postmillennialists is that they admit that the last trumpet of Revelation 11 was fulfilled in AD 70, but they do not discuss the fact that the time of the last trumpet was the time for “the dead” to be judged (Rev. 11:18). This is the same problem they face in the immediate context of 1 Peter 4:7. How were the dead judged in AD 70 without the resurrection of the dead taking place? And how is this time for the dead being judged different from the time in which the dead are judged in Revelation 20? And how is this trumpet judgment in Revelation 11 different from the one in Matthew 24:30–31, 1 Thessalonians 4, and 1 Corinthians 15? The analogy of Faith and that of Scripture nullifies with finality the arbitrary Scripture-dichotomizations of partial preterism.

Important Postmillennial and Partial Preterist Admissions

In 1998 Postmillennial Partial Preterist R.C. Sproul Sr. in his book The Last Days According to Jesus was either misinformed or dishonest with the Reformed and Evangelical community when he claimed that the main difference between Full Preterism and Partial Preterism was that Partial Preterists do not believe there was a rapture or resurrection of the dead that took place at Christ’s parousia in AD 70 (see his chart on p. 157).

Postmillennial author Mike Bull departs from other Postmillennial Partial Preterists and admits,

“The similarity of the events described in [1 Thess. 4:16-17] with those described in Matthew 24 and 1 Corinthians [15] means that full preterists are correct when they observe that all three passages clearly refer to the same event.” (Bull, Those Who Have Fallen Asleephttp://www.biblematrix.com.au/those-who-have-fallen-asleep/).

One of Postmillennialists main sources of authority in building their Preterist views is Milton Terry.  However, unlike DeMar, Terry (like Postmillennialist Mike Bull) correctly saw that Paul in 1 Thess. 4:16-17 and 1 Cor. 15:51-52 was following Jesus’ teaching and eschatology in the trumpet gathering of Matthew 24:30-31.  Terry was insightful and correct to disagree with John Lightfoot (and therefore with men like DeMar and Gentry) whom see this trumpet gathering at Christ’s coming as some kind of post AD 70 evangelistic gathering lasting thousands of years and not the rapture or resurrection event that Jesus said would be fulfilled at His coming to close the OC age.  Terry criticized Lightfoot’s view for not holding to the analogy of faith hermeneutic and said it would be “accepted by very few” (Hermeneutics, 447-448).

Unfortunately for Milton Terry and Postmillennialist Mike Bull, they are off base to teach that the coming of Christ and gathering or harpazo of Matthew 24:30-31 and 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 was some kind of partial physical resurrection and or physical rapture.  I will discuss the problems with this literal interpretation later, but the fact is Postmillennial Partial Preterism or Partial Preterism in general DOES see a “rapture” or “resurrection” event taking place in AD 70 – contrary to R.C. Sproul’s comments.  Clearly Sproul knows of Milton Terry’s works!  And Postmillennialists such as Jordan, DeMar and Gentry have finally conceded that the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 was fulfilled spiritually in AD 70.  And surely Sproul cannot be so blind as to not see that his Reformation Study Bible is forming our view by admitting Matthew 24:30-31; 1 Thessalonains 4:16-17 and 1 Corinthians 15 are descriptions of the SAME and ONE parousia of Christ while also admitting in their other writings that Christ’s coming in BOTH Matthew 24-25 was fulfilled spiritually in AD 70?!?

Laying the context for 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 

Before giving an exegesis of 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 and solving the “thorny problem” Beale and the Reformed community have created for themselves (in adopting a physical coming of Jesus to perform a physical biological resurrection at the end of time), I want to develop the context of Christ’s coming and eschatology for Paul in 1 and 2 Thessalonians. 

1 Thessalonians 1:10

“for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.” (1:9-10).

The Thessalonians were to eagerly wait for Christ.  The definition of anaménō

“…(from 303 /aná, “upcompleting a process,” which intensifies 3306 /ménō, “wait, remain”) – properly, earnestly wait (linger, abide); actively wait with rising intensity and clarity about what is hoped for (note the prefix, ana).  Thayers – “to wait for one (with the added notion of patience and trust).”

Even Dispensationalists such as Pastor John MacArthur writes of this passage, “…the immanency of the deliverance was something Paul felt could happen in their lifetimes.  Did Paul just “feel” it could happen or did he write it as an inspired and authoritative Apostle being led into all truth “trusting” in the very words of Jesus Himself that He would return at the end of the OC age, in their generation, and in some of their lifetimes (Matt. 10:22-23; 16:27-28; 24:27-34)?!?

Christ comes “from heaven.”  The definition of “heaven” here can mean the literal sky and clouds where the birds fly, but in Pauline eschatology the term “from heaven” is primarily dealing with God’s heavenly dwelling where His presence is along with the angelic hosts.

Christ comes to “rescue” the Thessalonians to Himself.

The definition of rescue here is  rhýomai (from eryō, “draw to oneself“) – properly, draw or (pull) to oneself; to rescue (“snatch up”); to draw or rescue a person to and for the deliverer.  To draw or snatch from danger, rescue, deliver. This is more with the meaning of drawing to oneself than merely rescuing from someone or something (Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers).

Christ comes to rescue the Thessalonians from the “coming wrath.”

God laid a trap for the persecuting Jews whom went to Jerusalem for the feast days in AD 66 and they experienced God’s wrath.  Christians that did go to Jerusalem to fellowship with the  Jerusalem Church in AD 66 fled the city and were rescued from this wrath.

Jews who especially sympathized with the Jewish revolt were persecuted throughout Rome during this period – 50,000 died in Egypt alone.  Christians were known for being peaceful law abiding citizens for the most part.

Paul’s doctrine on an imminent coming of Christ and wrath is in line with Jesus’ teaching:

“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is near. “Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those who are in the midst of the city must leave, and those who are in the country must not enter the city; because these are days of vengeance, so that all things which are written will be fulfilled. “Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days; for there will be great distress upon the land and wrath to this people; and they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” (Lk. 21:20-23).

And Postmillennialists admit the coming of Christ in Matthew 25:31 was fulfilled in AD 70 and there was a judgment of the dead that took place as well according to 1 Peter 4:5-7, 17 and Revelation 11.  Therefore, Jesus responds to the dead as well about this being a time of wrath,

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Harmonizing the coming of Christ in 1 Thessalonians 1:10 with 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17

1 Thessalonians 1:10 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17
1.  First century audience – “you” “us.” 1.  First century audience – “we.”
2.  Eager expectation – imminence 2.  “We who are still alive…” – imminent expectation.
3.  Christ comes “from heaven.”  3.  Christ comes “from heaven.”
4.  Jesus’ resurrection is mentioned as a sign or event guaranteeing that the living would be rescued. 4.  Jesus’ resurrection is mentioned as a sign or event guaranteeing the dead in Christ would be raised and the living would be brought into God’s presence.
5. “Snatches” from wrath but to Christ 5. “Catches/snatches away” to Christ.

Kenneth Gentry & Keith Mathison 

Mathison and Gentry don’t deal with the imminence here in connection with Jesus’ teaching in the OD.  This is odd since they claim to want to address imminence and they both admit Paul is drawing from Jesus’ teaching in the OD!  They also fail to demonstrate how the deliverance from this wrath here in chapter 1 is an allegedly future event for us, while Paul’s treatment of Christ coming attended with “wrath” in the very next chapter (cf. 1 Thess. 2:16) is fulfilled by AD 70.  Again, no consistent hermeneutic and no agreement among them. 

Gary DeMar 

 Unlike Gentry and Mathison, Gary DeMar concedes that the coming of Christ here in 1 Thessalonians 1:10 was fulfilled in AD 70.  But Gary fails to do any exegetical work to harmonize his Preterist interpretation of 1 Thessalonians 1:10 with his futurist creedal view of 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17.  In both passages Christ comes “from heaven” to “snatch” or “catch” away His people to Himself. On what exegetical grounds is the first apocalyptic while the later is physical?!?  Again, no consistent hermeneutic or flow of Paul in his writings per Postmillennialis.  Why would the Thessalonians think these are two different comings of Christ “from heaven” to “snatch” or “catch” His people to Himself?!? 

1 Thessalonians 2:14-20 

“For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, for you also endured the same sufferings at the hands of your own countrymen, even as they did from the Jews, who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out. They are not pleasing to God, but hostile to all men, forbidding us to speak to the nations that they might be saved, to fill up their sins always, but the anger did come (past tense) upon them – [even] to the end!  “…For we wanted to come to you—certainly I, Paul, did, again and again—but Satan stopped us.  For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not even you, in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming? For you are our glory and joy.” (2:14-16, 19-20)

We learn several things about this passage in connection with chapter 1:

  1. The “waiting process” of 1:10 is further clarified in chapter two as waiting for their

Jewish persecutors to “fill up the measure of their sins” before Christ comes to execute this wrath.

  1. The YLT and JFB catch something interesting about this wrath, in that it had already       begun and is actually in the past tense – “forbidding us to speak to the nations that                        they might be saved, to fill up their sins always, but the anger did come (past tense) upon them – [even] to the end! (1 Thess. 2:16).

Speaking about the past tense here JFB says this,

“not merely partial wrath, but wrath to its full extent, “even to the finishing stroke” [Edmunds]. The past tense implies that the fullest visitation of wrath was already begun. Already in A.D. 48, a tumult had occurred at the Passover in Jerusalem, when about thirty thousand (according to some) were slain; a foretaste of the whole vengeance which speedily followed (Lu 19:43, 44; 21:24).”

*This may be the event or “Day of the Lord” in judgment that the false teachers and prophets were saying had “already” been fulfilled in 2 Thess. 2?  1 & 2 Thessalonians were written between AD 50-52.

  1. 1 Thess. 2:14-20 – This “wrath” would be fully realized at “the end” (or the wrath that would be poured out at the end of the “time of the end” or end of the OC age – Dan. 12:4; Matt. 13:39-43; Matt. 24-25). 
Matthew 23-24 1 Thessalonians 1-2
1).  Prediction of persecution, suffering & death. 1).  Present persecution & suffering.
2).  The Jews killed the prophets, Jesus predicts His death (cf. Lk. 17:25), and that of the deaths of the NT prophets He would send in that generation. 2).  The Jews killed Jesus & the prophets.
3).  Jesus pronounces seven “woes” upon the Jews. 3).  Paul says the Jewish persecutors are not pleasing to God.
4).  Jews sought to hinder Christ from “gathering” and preaching the gospel to Jerusalem’s “children” so that they could be saved. 4).  Jews sought to hinder Paul from preaching the gospel so that others might be saved.
5). The Jews were “filling up the measure of their sin.” 5)  Paul says the Jews were “filling up the measure of their sins.”
6).  Christ was going to come (Gk. parousia – implied from heaven) to deliver Christians and render wrath and judgment upon that first century Jewish audience and upon their Temple – in their “this generation.” 6).  Christ was going to come (Gk. parousia – from heaven) to deliver Christians and render wrath and judgment upon that first century Jewish audience.
7)  The coming of Christ in salvation and wrath takes place at “the end (Gk. Telos) of the age” (i.e. OC age). 7).  The coming of Christ in salvation and wrath upon persecutors takes place at “the end” (Gk. Telos). 
8)  Judgment of living (those Pharisees) and dead (judging Cain for Abel’s blood) & gathering of all the elect at trumpet call – in their “this generation.” 8)  Judgment of living. 

*If one were to be consistent in admitting that Christ came in AD 70 to vindicate the martyrs one would have to believe that there was a judgment and resurrection for the living and the dead (cf. Rev. 6; 11; 20). 

1 Thessalonians 3:13 

“May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.” (3:13)

The Thessalonians would be blameless (or “spotless”) and holy at Christ’s parousia.  Paul is using the eschatological marriage terminology here of Blameless / Holy – without spot.  Keith Mathison writes of this passage in connection with the resurrection,

“Paul teaches that all believers will be resurrected at Christ’s second coming (1 Cor. 15:23).  He teaches that all believers will be presented as a spotless bride at that time (Eph. 5:25-27; cf. 1 Thess. 3:13).” (Postmillennialism, 177).

And yet Gary DeMar admits 1 Thessalonians 3:10 was fulfilled in AD 70.  So per the passages Mathison appeals to in connection to the fulfillment of this passage, DeMar should believe the resurrection of 1 Corinthians 15:23 was also fulfilled in AD 70 if he believes 1 Thessalonains 3:10 was.  We agree of course.  But since Mathison believes the coming of Christ and wedding or wedding feast of Matthew 8:10-12; 22:2-7; 25:1-13; Rev. 19-21 was fulfilled in AD 70, how does this coming and wedding motif get magically pushed thousands of years away into another wedding and coming of Christ?!? 

Christ comes with all his holy ones (angels, people, or both)?

First view – Angels:   The argument for angels here is that this is how the LXX of Zech. 14:5 is understood (from which this passage and Matt. 25:31 is derived from).  Angelic beings are how the term is understood in the OT (ex. Job 5:1; 15:15; Ps. 89:5,7; Dan. 8:13), and by the intertestamental period (ex. 1 En. 1:9) depicting God’s angels as being present on the last day of judgment.

Although the key word “holy ones” is not used in 2 Thess. 1:7 but rather the noun form with Christ coming with the “powerful angels,” the concept is the same.

Second view – Saints/people: In 2 Thess. 1:10 Christ comes to be glorified “in” His “holy ones” which are people “who have believed” the passage states.

Third view – “all” here refers to both people & angels – Some commentators suggest that both are in view.  This is my view – after looking at what the OT says, what the intertestamental period teaches, and finally what the NT teaches on the subject.

Let’s once again get the contextual flow as Paul gets into 1 Thessalonians 4 that Postmillennialists don’t want to recognize. 

The contextual flow from 1 Thess. 1:10–3:13 leading into 1 Thess. 4:16-17

1 Thessalonians 1:10—3:13 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17
1.  First century audience – “you” “us.” 1.  First century audience – “we.”
2.  Eager expectation – imminence  2.  “We who are still alive…” – imminent expectation.
3.  Christ comes “from heaven.” 3.  Christ comes “from heaven.”
4.  Jesus’ resurrection is mentioned as a sign or event guaranteeing that the living would be rescued. 4.  Jesus’ resurrection is mentioned as a sign or event guaranteeing the dead in Christ would be raised and the living would be “caught” away into God’s presence.
5. To be “snatched” away from wrath but to Christ. 5. To be “caught” away to Christ.
6.  Christ comes (Gk. Parousia).  6.  Christ comes (Gk. Parousia).
7.  “The end” (Gk. Telos) here is Daniel’s “time of the end” or at the “end of the age” when the judgment and resurrection takes place (Dan. 12:1-13; Matt. 13:39-43; Matt. 24:30-31; and 1 Cor. 15:24). 7.  No one disputes that the resurrection here is the resurrection to take place at “the end” in Daniel 12:1-7 or “the end” (Gk. telos) in 1 Corinthians 15:24.
8.  Christ’s coming is described with wedding terminology – they were to be “spotless” or “blameless” and “holy” in coming into the presence of their coming Groom. 8.  Paul uses a well known wedding term in which a bride would “meet” her groom.
9.  Christ comes with all His “holy ones” – that is angles and the dead he raises in chapter 4 which constitute the rest of the bride. 9.  Christ comes with those dead saints that He raised out of Abraham’s Bosom or Hades to go “meet” them so that they all could be “with the Lord forever. 

And Harmonizing Paul’s eschatology with Jesus’ 

1 Thessalonians 1:10—3:13 Matthew 23-24/Luke 21
1.  First century audience “you” “us.” 1.  First century audience “you.”
2.  Eagerly wait – imminence. 2.  “This generation.”
3.  Christ comes (Gk. Parousia) 3.  Christ comes (Gk. Parousia).
4.  Christ comes from heaven. 4.  Christ comes on clouds.
5.  To “snatch” from wrath to Christ. 5.  To “gather” to Christ.
6.  Delivers from wrath. 6.  Saves from wrath.
7.  Jews killed prophets, Jesus & persecuting Thessalonian. 7.  Jews killed prophets & will kill NT prophets Jesus sends.
8.  Jews filling up the measure of their sin of blood guilt. 8.  Jews filling up the measure of their sin of blood guilt.
9.  Wrath poured out at “the end” (Gk. Telos). 9.  Wrath poured out at “the end” or “end of the age” (Gk. Telos).
10.  Christ comes with all His holy ones (including angels and the dead per chapter 4) – which constitute the rest of the bride 10.  Christ comes and sends his angels to gather all the elect (dead and living)
11.  Christ’s coming is described with wedding terminology – they were to be “spotless,” “blameless” and “holy” in coming into the presence of their coming Groom. 11.  Christ’s coming is described with wedding terminology – “Here’s the bridegroom!  Come out and meet Him.”

1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 

A day was approaching 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 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.”

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).

What we have then in 1 Thessalonians 4:15–17 is the “rapturously” metaphorical language of a prophet who is speaking of antitypical, spiritual realities —the transcendent profundities of Christological glory in and among the saints 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 removal 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. In that passage, 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.

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). That is when God afflicted the persecutors of His church, when He gave His people relief and glorified Himself in them (2 Thess. 1:8–10).

Being revealed with Christ in glory (Col. 3:4) and becoming like Him and seeing Him in His Parousia (1 Jn 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, His spiritual Body, the New Man, the heavenly Mount Zion, the New Jerusalem in the Spirit. “This mystery is great” (Eph. 5:32), and is therefore communicated in the accommodative “sign language” of prophetic metaphor.

Since our Lord came “with His saints” and destroyed the earthly temple in AD 70 (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 says 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.” 

“According to the Lord’s own word” (4:15)

Matthew 24 – Fulfilled in AD 70 1 Thessalonians 4-5 Fulfilled in AD 70
1.  Christ comes from heaven (24:30) 1.  Christ comes from heaven (4:16)
2.  With archangelic voice (24:31) 2.  With archangelic voice (4:16)
3.  With God’s trumpet call (24:31) 3.  With God’s trumpet call (4:16)
4.  Gathered/Caught to Christ (24:31) 4.  Gathered/Caught to Christ (4:17)
5.  Believers meet Christ in clouds (24:30) 5.  Believers meet Christ in clouds (4:17)
6.  Use of contemporary “you” and parousia to be fulfilled in their contemporary generation (24:34) 6.  Use of contemporary “we” and parousia expected while some are still alive (4:15)
7.  Exact time unknown (24:36) 7.  Exact time unknown (5:1-2)
8.  Christ comes like a thief (24:43) 8.  Christ comes like a thief (5:2)
9.  Unbelievers caught unaware (37-39) 9.  Unbelievers caught unaware (5:3)
10.  Birth pains (24:8 – fulfilled in AD 70) 10.  Birth pains (5:3)
11.  Believers are not deceived (24:43) 11.  Believers are not deceived (5:4-5)
12.  Believers told to be watchful (24:42) 12.  Believers told to be watchful (5:6)
13.  Exhortation against drunkenness (24:49) 13.  Exhortation against drunkenness (5:7)
14.  The Day, Sunlight (bright light) shinning from east to west, (24:27, 36-38) 14.  The Day, sons of light, sons of day (1 Thess. 5:4-8)

The fact that Paul is drawing from Jesus’ teaching in the OD not only destroys the two comings theory of Postmillennial Partial Preterism, but the two comings theory of John MacArthur’s Pre-trib. Dispensationalism.  In his Study Bible he arrogantly and blindly writes of Paul’s words, “by the word of the Lord,”

“Was Paul referring to some saying of Jesus found in the gospels?  No.  There are none exact or even close.”

What amazing and willful ignorance it takes to look at all of these parallels and conclude that there’s nothing “even close” connecting the two!

Even if someone wants to deny that Paul is drawing from Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 24, the fact remains that both Jesus and Paul are referring to some of the same OT prophecies concerning the Second Coming and resurrection.  Jesus said He came to fulfill all the the law and prophets and it would “all” be fulfilled at His coming in His “this generation” (Mt. 5:17-18; Lk. 21:22-32).  And since Paul taught no other things except that which could be found in the law and prophets, then his sources are Jesus’ sources.  Mathison’s Postmillennial theory that Jesus didn’t discuss His “actual” Second Coming in the gospels, but rather Paul was the one God had develope this doctrine is a joke on many levels.  It separates the unity between Jesus’ eschatology and Paul’s and it ignores the fact that both are teaching that they are getting their eschatology from the same OT law and prophets!

“…WE who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord…” (v. 16)

1 Thessalonians 4 Luke 21/Matthew 24
We who are still alivewho are left till the coming of the Lord.” (v. 15) When you see…,” “…your redemption is drawing near,” “This generation.” (Lk. 21:20-32)

Keith Mathison

Mathison argues: Some have said that since Paul used the word “we” in 1 Thessalonians 4:15 and 17, Paul expected the events of 1 Thessalonians 4 to occur within his own 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.’ As far as Paul knew, Christ could have returned in his lifetime, but there was nothing that demanded He do so” (WSTTB?, 194). 

To my knowledge, no preterist thinks 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 only that he knew that some of

his contemporaries would still be alive when Christ returnedas Christ Himself promised would be the case in Matthew 16:27–28; 24:34.

According to Postmillennialists like DeMar and 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 AD 70—except for the statements in 1 Thessalonians 4 (“the rapture”).  Mathison and DeMar magically decide 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” includes Christians who potentially will not be alive for a million years from today. Now let us move on from arbitrary Mathisonian constructs to a biblical look at “the rapture” passage, 1 Thessalonians 4:15–17.

“For the Lord himself will come down from heaven…” (v. 16)  

The “thorny problem” is solved when the parallels between Matthew 24 and 1 Thessalonains 4 are accepted, the first century audience expectancy is accepted, and apocalyptic language is accepted in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 just as it is in Matthew 24 (basic Hermeneutics 101 observations).

 

1 Thessalonians 4 Matthew 24
1).  The Lord comes down from heaven (v. 16).

 

1).  The Lord comes in or upon the clouds of heaven (27-30).
2)  Since this is the same event as Mt. 24:27-30, why isn’t it considered “orthodox” to interpret Paul as using apocalyptic language? 2).  That Jesus is using spiritual and apocalyptic language here is accepted as “orthodoxy.”

How had God described His “coming down from heaven” to “reveal Himself” (2 Thess. 2:7) and “rescue” (1 Thess. 1:10) His people being persecuted in the past?

Apocalyptic language Psalm 18  

“6 In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears. 7 The earth trembled and quaked (literally?), and the foundations of the mountains shook (literally?); they trembled because he was angry. 8 Smoke rose from his nostrils (literally?); consuming fire came from his mouth (remember 2 Thess. 1:7 – Jesus is “revealed from heaven in blazing fire…”) , burning coals blazed out of it. 9 He parted the heavens and came down (literally?); dark clouds were under his feet. 10 He mounted the cherubim and flew; he soared on the wings of the wind. 11 He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him— the dark rain clouds of the sky. 12 Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced (literally?), with hailstones and bolts of lightning. 13 The LORD thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded (a literal voice?). 14 He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy, with great bolts of lightning he routed them. 15 The valleys of the sea were exposed and the foundations of the earth laid bare (literally?) at your rebuke, LORD, at the blast of breath from your nostrils. 16 He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. 17 He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me.

Christ is coming here in 1 Thessalonains 4:16-17 as God had come from heaven and on the clouds in the OT – ex. Did God come on a literal cloud when he judged Egypt by means of the Assyrian’s in 670 B.C.: “Behold, the LORD rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt” (Isa. 19:1)?

OT Echo to 1 Thessalonians 4:16 

Other than the trumpet gathering and resurrection of Isaiah 27:12-13, G.K. Beale and D.A. Carson connect this coming of the Lord “from heaven” with Isaiah 2:10-12’s “in that day” “Day of the Lord” judgment,

“The main clause of 1 Thess. 4:16, “because the Lord himself will come down from heaven,” recalls…the prophetic literature of the OT that envisions “the day of the Lord,” when God will come to judge the wicked and save the righteous (Isa. 2:10–12;…) (Weima, J. A. D. (2007). 1-2 Thessalonians. In Commentary on the New Testament use of the Old Testament (p. 880). Grand Rapids, MI; Nottingham, UK: Baker Academic;  Apollos).

But they also connect 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 with Isaiah 2 which reads, 

“This (in context – giving the Thessalonians relief from their Jewish persecutors) will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.  He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out (excommunicated [from the heavenly Temple] as they had done to the Christians) from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.”

Of this passage Beale and Carson write,

“eternal destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.” This description clearly echoes the triple refrain of Isa. 2:10, 19, 21, where on the day of the Lord the wicked are commanded to hide themselves behind rocks and in caves “from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might whenever he will rise to terrify the earth.” (Ibid. 885).

So since both 1 Thessalonians 4:16 and 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 fulfill the coming of the Lord “from heaven” in the judgment found in Isaiah 2, let’s examine when Jesus and John see Isaiah 2 being fulfilled.

Jesus – Luke 23:27-30:  

27 And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. 28 But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ 30 Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us (from Isa. 2:19 and Hos. 10:8).

There’s a consensus among the commentators that this passage was fulfilled in God’s judgment upon Jerusalem in AD 70.

John – Revelation 6:15-17:  

15 Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else, both slave and free, hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. 16 They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us[a] from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb17 For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can withstand it?”

Postmillennialists correctly tell us that every reference to the coming of the Lord in Revelation was said to be fulfilled “soon,” “at hand,” “quickly” or “about to be” fulfilled in AD 70.

This is when the martyrs blood would be vindicated in just – “a little while longer” (vss. 10-11).

Concerning Isaiah 2; Revelation 6; and 2 Thessalonians 1, Gentry argues that Christ had to come in judgment in AD 70 to vindicate those being persecuted in Revelation 1-3 & Revelation 6 because if He hadn’t (per futurism), God would be “mocking their [first century] circumstances.”  Gentry also appeals to Matt. 23-24 in developing the AD 70 time-frame for the fulfillment of the Thessalonians to be relieved and vindicated from their Jewish persecutors in 1 Thessalonians 2:14-20.  But this begs the obvious heremeneutical question – as to why doesn’t 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10 also form the foundation for Christ’s coming to relieve the Thessalonians from their first century Jewish persecutors?!?

If futurism’s 2,000+ year delay of Christ’s coming creates a “cruel mockery” for the persecuted in the book of Revelation, then why doesn’t Gentry’s futuristic 2000+ years delay of Christ’s coming to relieve the Thessalonians and judge their persecutors in 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10 create a “cruel mockery” for their first century “circumstances?” Again, this is why Gentry’s critics charge him with inconsistent hermeneutics and holding to a view that only serves as a stepping stone to Full Preterism.

Premise #1 – If it is true and orthodox to believe that Luke 23:27-30; Revelation 6:10-17; 1 Thessalonians 4:16; 2 Thessalonians 1:7 all fulfill the “last days” “in that day” judgment of Isaiah 2.

Premise #2 – And if it is true and orthodox to believe that 1 Thessalonians 4:16 and 2 Thessalonians 1:7 are the same and ONE Second Coming coming event and that both passages fulfill the “last days” “in that day” judgment of Isaiah 2 (Full Preterists agree with Amillennialists and Premillennialists),…

Premeise #2 – And if it is also true and orthodox to believe that 2 Thessalonians 1:7 fulfills Isaiah 2’s “last days” “in that day” judgment in AD 70 (Full Preterists agree with Partial Preterists such as Gary DeMar on this point),…

Conclusion – Then it necessarily follows and is also true and orthodox to believe that the ONE Second Coming event of 1 Thessalonians 4:16 fulfilled the “last days” “in that day” judgment of Isaiah 2 in AD 70 just as 2 Thessalonians 1:7 was fulfilled at this time. 

“…with the trumpet call of God and the dead in Christ will rise first.” (v. 16)

1 Thessalonians 4 Matthew 24
Trumpet call & resurrection (v. 16) Trumpet call & gathering/resurrection (v. 31)

Beale correctly sees the gathering of the elect at the end of the age in Matthew 24:3 in his commentary on 1 & 2 Thessalonians as he resurrection event,

“Paul’s particular combination of references from Matthew 24 shows that he interprets the whole of the Matthean text as referring to woes preceding the final coming of Christ (and though Matthew does not explicitly mention the idea of resurrection, he implies it in the phrase “gather his elect” in 24:31, which implies the gathering of all believers, both living and dead).” (p. 138).

But again in his recent book, A New Testament Biblical Theology the Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New, he writes,

“…it is likely better to see [Matt. 24:30]…fulfilled not at the very end of history but rather in AD 70 at the destruction of Jerusalem, in which the Son of Man’s coming would be understood as an invisible coming in judgment, using the Roman armies as his agent.” (p. 369).

Again, Beale admits that holding to both of his views creates a “thorny problem” for him that deserves “further study” to resolve.  I told him at the Criswell conference when he spoke on the millennium with Gentry and Preston that I quoted him in our book and solved the “orthodox” “thorny problem” he has created for himself.  I have yet to hear from him!

Premise #1 – If it is true that the resurrection and Second Coming of Jesus as found in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 is the same “end of the age” resurrection and or Second Coming event as described for us in Daniel 12:2; Matthew 13:39-43; and Matthew 24:30-31 (Amillennialists & Full Preterists agree).

Premise #2 – And if it is true that Paul expected the resurrection of 1 Thessalonians 4:16 to take place within the lifetimes of some of those he was writing to (and this is further confirmed to us by what he taught in Acts 24:15 YLT – that the resurrection of Daniel 12:2 was “about to be” fulfilled) (Orthodox commentators, lexicons & Full Preterists agree).

Premise #3 – And if it is true that the Apostles and writers of the NT were infallibly inspired and “led into all truth concerning things to come” (cf. Jn. 14; 16 – the time and nature of Christ’s coming and the resurrection event) (all should and claim they agree with this).

Premise #4 – And if it is true that the “end of the age” “gathering” in Matthew 13:39-43 and 24:30-31 are the same Second Coming end of the age resurrection events (Amillennialists & Full Preterists agree).

Premise #5 – And if it is true and orthodox to believe that the “end of the age” and coming of the Son of Man in Matthew 13:39-43 and Matthew 24 were fulfilled by the end of the OC age in AD 70 (Postmillennialists & Full Preterists agree).

Premise #6 – And if it is true and orthodox to believe that the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 was fulfilled spiritually at Christ’s parousia to close the OC age in AD 70 (Partial and Full Preterists agree).

Conclusion:  Then it necessarily follows and is also true and orthodox to believe that the NT authors wrote under inspiration that the ONE Second Coming and resurrection events as described for us in Daniel 12:2-3; Matthew 13:39-43; Matthew 24:30-31; 1 Thessalonians 4:16; and Acts 24:15YLT were “about to be” fulfilled spiritually toward the end of their generation to close the OC age in AD 70 (Full Preterism – “Reformed and always reforming”).

OT Echo: Isaiah 27:12-13

Beale and Carson also connect the coming of Christ, the trumpet or gathering of Matthew 24:30-31 and 1 Thessalonians 4:16, and 2 Thessalonians 2:1, to be the fulfillment of Isaiah 27:12-13.  But this trumpet gathering resurrection, is when Israel’s sin of blood guilt would be dealt with (Isa. 27:9) and the resurrection of “Isaiah’s little apocalypse” fulfilled (Isa. 25:6-7; 26:19-21).

 “Gathered up” – Harpazo (v. 17)

The NCV translates harpazo as “gathered up” thus giving it a theological and parallel connection to the eschatological gathering of (Mt. 13:39-43; Mt. 24:30-31 & 2 Thess. 2:1). Other translations render it “snatched away” or “will be seized.”

Harpazo means to “take one’s plunder openly and violently,” “catch or snatch away.”  Liddel-Scott gives an additional meaning – “to captivate” or “ravish” – ex. “I was so captivated or enraptured (inwardly) by my wife’s beauty, that I didn’t realize what time it was.”  But is 1 Thessalonians 4:17 discussing an inward or outward and upward catching away and ravishing of God’s people into the glory cloud of His kingdom?

Here are some very clear uses of harpazo:

Matthew 12:29 – Satan was “bound” and Christ was “carrying away” (harpazo) his plunder which were people that were rightfully his (that is Christ’s) held captive by Satan and demons.  But how was He doing this?  It was by casting out demons (an inward reality), and in some cases actually giving faith to these individuals to follow him (again an inward reality).

Matthew 11:12 – “the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing (Christ casting out demons openly and publicly taking Satan’s plunder), and (in return) the forceful men (believers) lay hold of it (harpazo – through faith, vigor, power, and determination in light of present persecution – such as the case of John).

Matthew 13:19 – In the parable of the sower, the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart (again, an inner spiritual reality)

John 6:65 – “No one can come to me unless the Father has (Greek didómi) caused, drawn, dragged or enabled him.”  A different Greek word is used here, but the concept is that God opens the heart first and inwardly drags/draws/causes the person to believe in Christ.  Without this active inward rescuing and initiative from God, no one can believe.  This is an inward “dragging.”

John 10:12 – “…the wolf (Pharisees sons of Satan) sought to snatch and scatter” the sheep/ people of Israel.  How did the Pharisees seek to “snatch” and “scatter” the Jews from following Jesus?  The first phase involved seeking to deceive them in their hearts and minds (an inward snatching) that He was not the Christ by perverting the Scriptures.  The second phase was a physical excommunication or scattering of Christians from their synagogues.

John 10:28-29 – Anyone who has faith in Jesus cannot be “snatched” out of the Father’s hand.  That is, that he cannot be influenced (snatched inwardly) in his or her mind and heart to leave God.  Like Peter, “Where else can we go Lord, you alone have the words to eternal life.”

Acts 8:39 – This simply means that the Holy Spirit directed Philip in His heart and mind (inwardly) to go elsewhere and the Eunuch did not see him again.  Nothing in the text to support that Philip was “raptured” into the atmosphere (waved to some birds) and was then dropped off miles and miles away from where they were.

The eschatological “already” of the inward kingdom gathering and catching away was spiritual and the eschatological “gathering” and “catching away” in the kingdom at Christ’s return would be at the end of the OC age in AD 70.  But was this “not yet” aspect an inward event as well? Jesus said when the kingdom would come at His return to gather all His elect, 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/Luke 21:27-32/Matthew 24:30-31.

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…” (v. 17)

As I have demonstrated thus far (per the OT and NT prophets) Christ coming on the clouds is apocalyptic language and not referring to literal clouds.

To “meet” the Lord… (v. 17)

This Greek word to “meet” the Lord, is wedding language and is only used twice in the NT – here and in the wedding motif Jesus develops in Matthew 25:1-13 which Postmillennialists such as Mathison and DeMar are admitting was fulfilled in AD 70.  In Jewish betrothal, it was customary for the groom to consummate his marriage sexually at her father’s house before taking her to his father’s house where they would continue consummating for seven days and having the feast.  Again, since the wedding banquet follows the wedding in Jewish culture, AND the resurrection takes place at this time (cf. Isaiah 25:6-8/1 Cor. 15:54-55), then Postmillennialists are now forced to concede that the ONE eschatological wedding and resurrection was fulfilled in AD 70, or teach that there are two weddings for the Church to match their two comings, resurrections and weddings with that of Dispensationalism’s version.  Selah.

This Greek word for “meet” was also often used of a King or dignitary coming to make his home in a city in which his Empire or Kingdom had conquered. On the news of the imminent coming of the King or dignitary, the members of the city would go out of the city and “meet” him and escort him back to their home/town. The King’s presence is established WHERE the people already lived. Again, the imagery does not support a literal “rapture” of people off of planet earth, but rather of God coming to rule and reign in the hearts of His people where they are – living on planet earth.

“…in the air” (v. 17)

But what of this meeting the Lord in the “air” (Greek eros)?

Strong’s Greek Dictionary, defines it as: “From “aemi”, to breath unconsciously, to respire.

By analogy, to blow.  The air, particularly the lower and denser air as distinguished from

the higher and rarer air.”  So the point is that this is the air “in” or “within” us.

 

The Dictionary of Biblical Languages With Semantic Domains lists (Eph 2:2; 1 Th 4:17; and Rev 16:17) in its definition of eros as meaning, “the space inhabited and controlled by [spiritual] powers.”  The Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament says of Ephesians 2 – “…Jewish conceptions, according to which, among other things, the air is the abode of demons.”

Ephesians 2 refers to Satan as the “Prince and Power of the AER.” He dwelt in the spiritual realm not the physical – flying through the literal clouds and sky with the birds.  The war we see Christ and Satan fighting over in the NT is for the spiritual condition of men – within their hearts and minds.  Paul goes on to say that Satan, “now works in the children of disobedience.” And consistently Jesus defines His kingdom as something that He is setting up “in” and “within” men and transforming them into His image spiritually.

Prior to AD 70, Satan used his demonic legions to “possess” individuals within the realm of their minds and the spiritual realm of their being.  Satan used the old-covenant Mosaic law to blind their spiritual eyes, hearts and minds in the realm of the “air”—within their souls, hearts, and minds to produce an arrogant and zealous self righteousness which apart from Christ could only lead to utter despair (2 Cor. 3; Gal. 4:17-18; Rms. 7). Christ “bound the strong man” and was raising and delivering Christians from the darkness and death of this spiritual kingdom realm into His Ephs. 2:1-10. Christ snatched away His beloved and spoke peace and joy into the “air” of her heart, soul, and mind, when He said, “It is finished” (Rev. 16:17/Heb. 9-10/1 Cor. 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 AD 70 and for those that put their faith in Him.

Had Paul meant to clearly communicate that believers would physically fly off the planet into the sky and atmosphere above, he would have used the Greek word “ouranos” which clearly states this as its meaning.

The picture of the “rapture” is that Christ came down from heaven in / on a cloud to earth where He gathered the living into His presence “within” us.  Just as we see in Revelation where the New Jerusalem comes down from heaven to earth and God establishes His presence with His Church here.

11 Problems for the Postmillennial or Literal AD 70 Rapture or Resurrection Views

1).  For Partial Preterist Ed Stevens – If the language of 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 and Matthew 24:31 is allegedly “clear” and some kind of literal expectation, then he should be consistent with other Postmillennial Partial Preterists such as Mike Bull and begin teaching that the resurrection language is also a literal expectation and therefore the dead were raised from their physical graves and the literal dust in AD 70 as well.  And why not begin teaching that Jesus came physically in AD 70?  And while carrying out this physical expectation he might as well “reason” and go all the way in his thinking and conclude that since the de-creation language in Matthew 24 also sounds like a literal expectation, that either the prediction failed (liberalism), or spiritualize the time statements and continue hoping for these literal expectations (Futurism).  Futurism and the skeptic are his only choices at this point when he begins reasoning along these lines.

2).  Paul could have easily rebuked the false teachers and Christians that were tempted to believe the Lord had “already come” in 2 Thessalonians 2 by simply saying, “Aren’t you still here and the dead still in their graves?  Obviously He has not come!”  But since Paul did not hold to the literal rapture view or a literal resurrection view attended with Christ’s parousia, and was a real Full Preterist, he did not argue in such a way.

3).  The coming of Christ in 2 Thessalonians 1:9 is the coming of the Lord in Isaiah 66:5, 15 of which there are Christian survivors (66:19) whom are found alive on planet earth continuing to preach the gospel in the New Creation and New Covenant age.

4).  In Mark 8:38-9:1 the Greek is different than Matthew 16:27-28 and actually teaches that those that were alive to witness Christ’s coming would be able to look back (while still alive) on the historical events of Him coming in power and great glory in the destruction of Jerusalem and thus know that He had “already come.”

5).  After Christ and the Father come and make their home (dwelling mone John 14:2, 23) within the believer, they are told, “I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe.” (14:29).  If they were literally raptured, I don’t think they would need to be reminded to believe that it had been fulfilled!  These words make more sense if it was a spiritual fulfillment that could not be seen with the literal eyes and to be realized “within” (cf. Lk. 17:20-37).

6)  Contrary Russell, Terry, Stevens, Bull and others — Jesus of course promised not to remove the Church off of planet earth (John 17:15).

7).  Church history tells us that Christians were not raptured but fled to Pella.  Church history tells us that the Apostle John was still alive during Domician’s reign in the mid AD 90’s and that Timothy, Titus, and Luke lived beyond AD 70.  Stevens claims not all the Christians were raptured, only the super spiritual ones — the others were apparently unfaithful “sleepers” he claims.  Odd, that Stevens claims to be a Calvinist and teaches such non-sense as the carnal Christian heresy!  So I guess according to this heretical view, John, Timothy, Titus, and Luke became unfaithful “sleepers” and missed the rapture of the faithful.  Oh boy!

8).  If there was a literal resurrection in AD 70 to go along with a literal rapture, we have to wonder how everyone missed recording that “all” the righteous and unrighteous dead were literally raised from the dust of the earth in fulfillment of Daniel 12:2/Acts 24:15YLT/John 5:28-29/Rev. 20:5-15 along with tens of thousands of living Christians that just simply disappeared?!?

They have tried to avoid this by claiming there was a small number of faithful Christians that were “raptured” and not all the dead were raised in AD 70.  But obviously this is NOT what Daniel 12:2 says, nor is this how it is developed in the NT.  David Green writes concerning the world “many” in Daniel 12:2,

“Regarding the word “many” in Daniel 12:2: The word is not used in contrast to “all” (as “the many” is used to limit the term “all men” in Rom. 5:12, 15, 18-19) or in contrast to “a few.” The angel simply referred to a large number of people; to multitudes (NIV). No inference can be made from the context as to whether “many” referred to all or to only a portion of the dead. Only subsequent scriptures revealed that the “many” in Daniel 12:2 referred to the whole company of all the dead from Adam to the Last Day.” (HD, 178).

9).  If the “gathering” and “catching away” of Matthew 24:31 and 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 were the same event and if the “gathering” of Matthew 24:31 and Matthew 13:39-43 are the same event, then why weren’t the “wicked” “tares” or “weeds” “gathered” (i.e. “raptured”) off of planet earth (the same way the wheat were “gathered” into the kingdom) in AD 70 and thrown into the fire and judged (the Lake of Fire)?

10).  During the OC to NC AD 30 – AD 70 transition period, we have the “already—becoming/transforming—and not yet” process of salvation and resurrection taking place.  If a physical transformation of the literal living or the dead was the eschatological goal of the parousia, then why weren’t the living physically being “transformed” and literally “seeing” God’s face in some way before He came?  Why weren’t they physically glowing a little before they were totally transformed into the NC glory they were receiving by AD 66?  How was “the death being destroyed” and the dead “being raised” physically in 1 Corinthians 15 prior to the parousia?

11).  Ed’s main premise for believing a literal rapture is because we don’t have any early church fathers teaching the parousia or Second Coming was fulfilled in AD 70.  Ed claims he “lost sleep” over this subject and God showed him that the literal rapture solves his sleep problem.  Of course Partial Preterists don’t have any early church fathers teaching that Babylon was OC Jerusalem or that Matthew 24:31 or 25:31 was Christ’s coming in AD 70 either.  The Reformed church didn’t have any early writings about forensic justification by faith alone prior to Luther.  Did Ed loose sleep over those things?

But Ed saws off the branch he is sitting on when we point out and ask – if Christians were literally raptured, and immediately after that, the Christian “sleepers” who were left repented of their sleepiness and started preaching the gospel—why didn’t they record the literal “rapture” of the faithful?!?  It just gets more and more foolish.  Literal rapturists argue the “sleepers” didn’t want to discuss or record God’s faithfulness in rapturing the faithful, because they would be persecuted.  This is supposed to explain the reason for the silence.  Well, if there was no literal rapture, then why couldn’t this same reasoning apply for the silence of those still alive on planet earth?  Per the rapturist, the living were afraid of persecution.  Their reasoning applies to both groups and solves no problem.

The bottom line – those that hate the truth concerning a spiritual fulfillment in AD 70 would not believe even if we had documentation of the event say in AD 85.  They would simply reason, “Oh, this is when the gnostic heresy of Full Preterism began.”  I don’t loose sleep over what the Word of God says – it actually strengthens my faith and gives me peace.

Concluding the Second Coming and Resurrection Event of Matthew 24:30-31=1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 in Relation to Daniel 7:13 and 12:2-3

When we combine what Postmillennialists and Reformed eschatology is teaching on these texts we conclude that Daniel’s soul — along with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the OT worthies such as in Heb. 11, were spiritually raised out of Hades in AD 70 into God’s presence and inherited eternal life and the Kingdom along with the living today in the NC age.

In our next study, I want to demonstrate how the coming of Christ and resurrection of 1 Corinthians 15 was fulfilled spiritually in AD 70 as well.

To Watch these Lectures or Read this Series go to:  

My First Lecture af the PPW 2017 Conference Part 1: The Problems for Postmillennialism – My Approach and Methodology http://fullpreterism.com/my-lecture-on-the-problems-of-postmillennialism-at-the-2017-ppw-conference-the-wedding-and-resurrection-motif/

My First Lecture at the 2017 PPW Conference Part 2:  The Problems for Postmillennialism – God’s Divorce, Re-marriage and NC Betrothal http://fullpreterism.com/my-lectures-given-at-the-2017-ppw-on-the-problems-with-postmillennialism-wedding-resurrection-part-2-gods-ot-marriage-divorce-betrothal-and-remarriage-promises/

My First Lecture at the 2017 PPW Conference Part 3:  The Problems for Postmillennialism -Wedding and Resurrection (Jn. 3-5) http://fullpreterism.com/my-2017-ppw-lecture-on-the-problems-with-postmillennialism-wedding-resurrection-part-3-john-3-5-and-nt-betrothal-and-marriage/

My First Lecture at the 2017 PPW Conference Part 4:  The Problems for Postmillennialism – Wedding and Resurrection (Mt. 8:10-12/Mt. 22:1-14/Mt. 25:1-13) http://fullpreterism.com/my-2017-ppw-lecture-on-the-problems-with-postmillennialism-wedding-and-resurrection-part-4-mt-810-12-221-14-251-13isa-256-9/

My First Lecture at the 2017 PPW Conference Part 5:  The Problems for Postmillennialism – The Parable of the Wheat and Tares and the Resurrection (Mt. 13:39-43/Dan. 12:2-3) http://fullpreterism.com/my-2017-ppw-lecture-on-the-problems-with-postmillennialism-in-the-parable-of-the-wheat-and-tares-the-end-of-the-age-and-the-resurrection-mt-1339-43dan-122-3/

My Second Lecture at the 2017 PPW Conference Part 1:  The Problems for Postmillennialism in the Olivet Discourse – Structure, Context, the Disciples Question(s), the end of the age and the Great Commission (Mt. 23-24; Mt. 24:3, 14/Acts 1:8-11) http://fullpreterism.com/lecture-2-at-the-2017-ppw-problems-for-postmillennialism-in-the-olivet-discourse-house-divided-the-break-up-of-postmillennialism-and-the-formation-of-full-preterism-taking-its-place/

My Second Lecture at the PPW 2017 Conference Part 2:  The Problems for Postmillennialism in the Olivet Discourse – “In Fulfillment of ALL that has been Written” (Lk. 21:22 = Dan. 7:9-14; 12:1-7, 13; Isa. 25:6-9—27:12-13) http://fullpreterism.com/2804-2/

My Second Lecture At The PPW 2017 Conference Part 3: The Problems For Postmillennialism – The Olivet Discourse the Gathering of the Elect Matthew 24:30-31 = 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 http://fullpreterism.com/my-ppw-conference-lecture-2-the-problems-for-postmillennialism-in-the-olivet-discourse-matthew-2430-31-1-thessalonians-415-17/

My Second Lecture at the PPW 2017 Conference Part 2: The Problems With Postmillennialism – “In Fulfillment of ALL that has been Written” (Lk. 21:22)

 

Introduction:

As we saw in my first lecture and study of Postmillennialism’s treatment of the eschatological wedding and wedding feast found in Matthew 8:10-12; 22:1-14; 25:1-13 and Revelation 19-22, there is a clear avoidance of the OT fulfillment of this event found in Isaiah 25:6-9, because when the wedding feast is fulfilled (“in that day”) is when “death is swallowed up” or the resurrection of 1 Corinthians 15:54/Isaiah 25:6-8 is fulfilled!  Since Jesus came to fulfill all the law and prophets (cf. Mt. 5:17-18) Jesus in Matthew 24:30-31; 25:31ff. came to fulfill Isaiah’s little apocalypse and the trumpet gathering and resurrection of (Isa. 25—27:12-13; Dan. 7:9-14; Dan. 12:2-3, 13).  As we now deal with the OD, Postmillennialism’s clear avoidance of which OT texts Jesus came to fulfill continues to be an exegetical thorn in the side of this eschatological system which brings it tumbling down.  They mostly and arbitrarily only appeal to OT passages when they want to establish apocalyptic language being used by Jesus in the OD.

“For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written.” (Lk. 21:22)

Gentry writes of this text,

“Jesus is referring to all things written in the Old Testament.” (Postmillennialism, Third Edition, 544).

But in the same book he affirms the resurrection and judgment of Daniel 12:1-7 was fulfilled spiritually in AD 70 when the tribulation took place and OC Israel came to her “end” (Ibid., 538-540).

Gentry and other Postmillennialists simply assume what they have never proven (to Full Preterists and other Reformed Futurists) when they claim the coming of the Christ at the trumpet call to gather the elect is not the actual Second Coming and resurrection event even though Luther, Calvin and the Reformed creeds see Matthew 24:30-31/Luke 21:27-28 as that very event (as do Full Preterists).  For further proof that the coming of Christ to gather the elect and give redemption in Matthew 24:30-31 and Luke 21:27-28 is the Second Coming and Resurrection of the dead event, we can go to many passages, but let’s stick with two they have already conceded were fulfilled in AD 70 (Daniel 7 and 12). 

The Olivet Discourse Daniel 7 and 12
1.  Tribulation and abomination of desolation (Mt. 24:15/Lk. 21:20-23)

 

1. Tribulation and abomination of desolation (Dan. 9:27; 12:1-2, 11)

 

2.  Time of judgment and deliverance (Mt. 24:13/Lk. 21:18-22)

 

2.  Time of Judgment and deliverance (Dan. 7 and 12:1).

 

3. Coming of the Son of Man (Mt. 24-25)

 

3. Coming of the Son of Man (Dan. 7:13)

 

4.  The kingdom would be inherited “within” at Christ’s coming (Lk. 17:20-37; Lk. 21:27-32).

 

4.  The kingdom would be spiritual, eternal and inherited when the coming of the Son of Man was fulfilled (Dan. 7:13-14 22, 27).

 

5.  The judgment and resurrection of the dead or gathering of the elect at the end of the age or “time of the end” is the time of the resurrection (Mt. 13:36-43/Dan. 12:2-3/Mt. 24:3, 30-31; 25:31-46)

 

5.  The judgment and resurrection of the dead takes place at the “time (or hour) of the end” or when the Son of Man comes “as the Ancient of Days” and the books are opened (Dan. 7:9-14 (OG) LXX; 12:2-7).  The trumpet gathering is the resurrection event of Isaiah’s little apocalypse (Isa. 25:6-9—27:12-13).

 

6.  This would all be fulfilled in Jesus’ contemporary “this generation” (Mt. 24:34).

 

6.  This would all be fulfilled when Jerusalem would be destroyed or when the “power of the holy people would be completely shattered” in AD 70 (Dan. 12:2-3, 7).

 

I should also briefly include the fact that Jesus not only came to fulfill “all” of Daniel’s prophecies that included the resurrection and judgment of the dead (cf. Dan. 7:9-14; 12:1-7, 13) and Isaiah’s little apocalypse and New Creation promises (cf. Isa. 24-28; 65-66), but the block of Zechariah 12-14 as well (Mt. 24:30/Zech. 12:11-12).

  1. A gathering and siege of Jerusalem by the surrounding nations takes place (Zech. 12:2-3 = Lk. 21:20-22).
  1. Judgment of the nations takes place while Jerusalem (the remnant or New Jerusalem) is saved (Zech. 12:7-9 = Lk. 21:27-28; Mt. 25:31-46).
  1. They look upon Jesus whom the Jews had pierced and mourn (Zech. 12:11-12 = Mt. 24:30).
  1. The false prophets and demons are cleansed and judged from the land (Zech. 12:2-3 = Mt. 23—25:31-46).
  1. In that day the Lord would prepare a way of escape for the righteous remnant (Zech. 14:4 = Lk. 21:20-22).
  1. This day is only known by the LORD (Zech. 14:6 = Mt. 24:36).
  1. There is always light (Zech. 14:7=Mt. 24:27/Lk. 21:30-32/Rev. 21:25; 22:5-7) —Christ comes as the Sun/Son and His light shines from east to west and is the light of the New Jerusalem that never ceases in the kingdom.
  1. Living waters flow from the New Jerusalem when the King and the Kingdom arrives (Zech. 14:8-9=Lk. 21:27-32/Rev. 11; 21-22).

While Zechariah does not mention the resurrection directly, he does mention the arrival of the King and His kingdom and the living waters flowing from the New Creation.  In the book of Revelation the end of the millennium resurrection (Rev. 20) takes place before and or is synonymous with the arrival of the New Creation and access to the living water and Tree of Life (Rev. 21-22).  In Matthew 24, the end of the age resurrection gathering (24:31/Mt. 13:39-43) takes place before or is synonymous with the time when the OC “heaven and earth” pass away (Mt. 24:35 – which implies the NC takes its place at this time).

Revelation

In the book of Revelation, it is said from beginning to the end (Rev. 1:1; 22:6–7, 10–12, 20) that the prophecies of the book would be fulfilled “shortly.” Those soon-to-be-fulfilled prophecies included the Second Coming, the resurrection of the living and the dead, the last judgment, and the new heavens and the new earth—in other words, literally “all things written.”

Paul

Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:11, tells his first-century audience, “Now all these things happened to them as examples [types], and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.” Jesus’ and Paul’s audience understood the phrase “this age” to be a reference to the old covenant age, and the “age to come” as a reference to the Messianic or new covenant age. They also understood that under the umbrella of the old covenant “age” (singular) there were various “ages” (plural), or covenants. The covenant that God made with David is an example of this. Thus when the old covenant age was consummated, it was then that all of Israel’s “ages,” as contained in “the Law and the Prophets” (“all things written”), were consummated.

Peter

 Peter’s eschatology is in line with Jesus’,  John’s, and Paul’s.  Per Peter his contemporaries were living in Israel’s “last days” “crooked and perverse generation” that Moses said would witness the “near” “end” of Israel, and that is why Peter said “the end of all things is near” (Deut. 32=Acts 2:40=1 Pet. 4:5-7; 2 Pet. 3).  They were going to going to witness the fulfillment of the eschatological inheritance of the glories of the New Creation coming (1 Peter 1).

What About a Double Fulfillment of the Olivet Discourse?

I think everyone agrees that many prophecies in the Old Testament were typologically fulfilled and awaited full realization in the New Testament. This phenomenon reflected the contrast between Old Testament types and shadows, and the New Testament Anti-Type or Body, i.e., Christ (Col. 2:17).

But this principle in no way implies or leads to the notion that New Testament prophecies, which are fulfilled in Christ, will be fulfilled multiple times over potentially millions of years of time. The fact that the Old Testament was “typical” and “shadowy” in no way suggests that the New Testament is of the same pre-Messianic character. The Cross of Christ will not be fulfilled multiple times until the end of human history, and neither will Christ’s Second Coming (Heb. 9:26–28).

Ken Gentry teaches that the time texts of the New Testament “demand” a fulfillment in AD 70, and that the theory of “double fulfilling” Revelation, for example, is “pure theological assertion” that has “no exegetical warrant.” (Kenneth Gentry, Four Views on the Book of Revelation, ed. C. Marvin Pate (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998), 43–44.

Another partial preterist colleague of Mathison, Gary DeMar, rejects openness to the double fulfillment theory in the Olivet Discourse:

“Either the Olivet Discourse applies to a generation located in the distant future from the time the gospel writers composed the Olivet Discourse or to the generation to whomJesus was speaking; it can’t be a little bit of both. As we will see, the interpretation of the Olivet Discourse in any of the synoptic gospels does not allow for a mixed approach, a double fulfillment, or even a future completion. Matthew 24:34 won’t allow for it.” (Gary DeMar, The Olivet Discourse: The Test of Truth, http://www.americanvision.org/blog/?p=190).

The fulfillment that has been wrought in Christ is no piecemeal fulfillment that has remained a “yes and no” fulfillment/non-fulfillment for 2,000 years, as futurists such as Mathison imagine. The Law of Moses does not remain “imposed” as it did between the Cross and the Parousia (Heb. 9:10, NASB). Rather, Christ returned and the old covenant vanished in His Presence forty years after His Cross (Heb. 8:13). If He did not return, and if the dead were not raised in Him, then the old covenant never vanished, and we are still in our sins. This is the inevitable implication of denying that literally “all things written” are fulfilled in Christ today.

Premise #1:  Since it is true that Jesus came to fulfill “all” the law and the prophets and this took place when the “heaven and earth” of the OC system passed away in AD 70 (Gary DeMar/Postmillennialism and Full Preterism agree).

Premise #2:  And since it is also true that Jesus is teaching “all things written” (Lk. 21:22) is referring to “all OT prophecy” (Gentry, DeMar/Postmillennialism & Full Preterism agree).

 Premise #3:  And since it is also true that Jesus comes upon the clouds in His Second Advent to fulfill the judgment and resurrection events of the OT in Daniel 7:9-14, 9:24-27, 12:1-7, 13 and Isaiah 25-27 in Matthew 24:30-31; 25:31-46 (Amillennialism, Premillennialism and Full Preterism agree).

Premise #4:  And since it is true that the coming of the Son of Man upon the clouds in Matthew 24:30-31; 25:31-46 was fulfilled spiritually in the AD 30-AD 70 “generation” to close the OC age (DeMar/Postmillennialism and Full Preterism agree).

Premise #5:  And since the coming of the Son of Man upon the clouds in judgment (Dan. 7:9-14) to bring about the resurrection of Daniel 12:1-7, 13 was fulfilled spiritually in AD 70 (Jordan, Gentry and DeMar/Postmillennialism agrees with Full Preterism).

Premise #6:  And since it is true that Matthew 24-25 cannot have a double fulfillment because Matthew 24:34 “won’t allow it.”

Premise #7:  And since it is also true that the trumpet call and gathering of the coming of the Son of Man upon the clouds in judgment of Isaiah 27:12-13 and Daniel 7:9-14 brings about the resurrection of Isaiah 25-26 and Daniel 12:1-7, 13 and this ONE coming of Christ, judgment and resurrection of the dead cannot have a “double” or “multiple” fulfillments (Amillennialism, Premillennialism, some Postmillennialists agree [some still see the resurrection of Dan. 12:2-3 to be ONE event that cannot be double fulfilled] with Full Preterism)

Conclusion:  Then it is also true that Jesus fulfilled “all” the OT prophecies concerning His ONE spiritual (that cannot be double fulfilled) Second Advent, judgment and resurrection of the dead event found in Isaiah 25-27; Daniel 7:9-14; Daniel 12:1-7, 13 and Matthew 24:30-31; 25:31-46 to close the OC age in the AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” (Full Preterism – “Reformed and always reforming”).

Edenic Eschatology and Luke 21:22

Postmillennialists have tried to divide Israel’s eschatology with Edenic or Adamic eschatology.  Yet, Luke 21:22 reaches back to the early chapters of Genesis.  Jesus in Matthew 23 goes as far back as to avenge the blood of Abel and judge Cain at Christ’s coming in AD 70.  And Gentry believes Matthew 25:31-46 is the actual Second Coming event at which time God will judge and finally crush Satan according to Genesis 3:15.  Yet DeMar and other Postmillennialists such as Keith Mathison believe the coming of Christ in Matthew 25:31ff. was fulfilled in AD 70.

Premise #1:  Matthew 25:31-46 describes the Second Coming and final judgment of Satan that was promised in Genesis 3:15 (Gentry agrees with Full Preterism).

Premise #2:  But the coming of Christ in Matthew 25:31-46 was fulfilled spiritually in AD 70 to close the OC age (DeMar agrees with Full Preterism).

Premise #3:  The promise of God to “crush” Satan “shortly” is the promise of Genesis 3:15 (most agree with Full Preterism).

Premise #4:  The imminent time texts in the NT “demand” their fulfillment to be in AD 70 (Gentry agrees with Full Preterism).

Conclusion:  The final crushing of Satan (Edenic eschatology) was fulfilled in the AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” at Christ’s “actual” Second Coming and therefore Paul was correct to say it would be fulfilled “shortly” as that generation was ending (cf. Mt. 24:34–25:31-46; Rms. 16:20).

One cannot separate the vindication of the martyrs and the final crushing and judging of Satan in the Second Coming event found in Matthew 23 and 25:31-46 from the time of His coming, resurrection and the overcoming of “the [spiritual] death” that came through Adam (cf. 1 Cor. 15/Rev. 20:5-15).  This is not complicated.

Conclusion

As we have seen in our study thus far Postmillennialism stands as a “House Divided” among its own theologians and under the umbrella or roof of Reformed Amillennialism in general and therefore “breaks apart.”  But as their inconsistent and contradictory system is breaking apart, Full Preterism is emerging and “Bridging the Gap” between the two.  “All OT prophecy” (Mt. 5:17-18/Lk. 21:22) was fulfilled in AD 70 — when Christ came upon the clouds at the sound of a trumpet to gather and raise the dead spiritually and close the OC age according to (Isa. 25:6-9—27:12-13; Dan. 7:9-14; 12:1-7, 13; Mt. 24:30-31–25:31-46).  We will continue to watch Postmillennialism “break-up” when we get to Matthew 24:30-31—25:31-46 and compare these resurrection and judgment of the dead passages with NT texts such as 1 Thessalonians 4-5; 1 Corinthians 15 and Revelation 20:5-15.

If “all” of the “jots and tittles” of the OC law and prophets (which included the judgment and resurrection of the dead of Isa. 25-27 and Dan. 12) were not fulfilled in AD 70 when her “heaven and earth” passed away, then “all” of them (including the sacrificial system) are present today and to be obeyed per Matthew 5:17-19.  Before AD 70 the OC law was still “imposed” and had a [legal] “standing” (Heb. 9).  Paul performed vows and sacrifices in the Temple to demonstrate he was not teaching the Jews to forsake the law of Moses in accordance to Jesus’ teaching (cf. Acts 21/Mt. 5:19).

To Watch these Lectures or Read this Series go to:  

1).  First Lecture at the PPW 2017 Conference Part 1: Problems for Postmillennial Partial Preterism – My Approach and Methodology (the Analogy of Faith) http://fullpreterism.com/my-lecture-on-the-problems-of-postmillennialism-at-the-2017-ppw-conference-the-wedding-and-resurrection-motif/

2).  First Lecture at the 2017 PPW Conference Part 2:  Problems for Postmillennial Partial Preterism – God’s Divorce, Re-marriage and NC Betrothal http://fullpreterism.com/my-lectures-given-at-the-2017-ppw-on-the-problems-with-postmillennialism-wedding-resurrection-part-2-gods-ot-marriage-divorce-betrothal-and-remarriage-promises/

3).  First Lecture at the 2017 PPW Conference Part 3:  Problems for Postmillennial Partial Preterism – Wedding and Resurrection (Jn. 3-5) http://fullpreterism.com/my-2017-ppw-lecture-on-the-problems-with-postmillennialism-wedding-resurrection-part-3-john-3-5-and-nt-betrothal-and-marriage/

4).  First Lecture at the 2017 PPW Conference Part 4:  Problems for Postmillennial Partial Preterism – Wedding and Resurrection (Mt. 8:10-12/Mt. 22:1-14/Mt. 25:1-13) http://fullpreterism.com/my-2017-ppw-lecture-on-the-problems-with-postmillennialism-wedding-and-resurrection-part-4-mt-810-12-221-14-251-13isa-256-9/

5).  Second Lecture at the 2017 PPW Conference Part 5:  Problems for Postmillennial Partial Preterism – The Parable of the Wheat and Tares and the Resurrection (Mt. 13:39-43/Dan. 12:2-3) http://fullpreterism.com/my-2017-ppw-lecture-on-the-problems-with-postmillennialism-in-the-parable-of-the-wheat-and-tares-the-end-of-the-age-and-the-resurrection-mt-1339-43dan-122-3/

6).  Second Lecture at the 2017 PPW Conference Part 1:  Problems for Postmillennial Partial Preterism in the Olivet Discourse – Structure, Context, the Disciples Question(s), the end of the age and the Great Commission (Mt. 23-24; Mt. 24:3, 14 = Acts 1:8-11) http://fullpreterism.com/lecture-2-at-the-2017-ppw-problems-for-postmillennialism-in-the-olivet-discourse-house-divided-the-break-up-of-postmillennialism-and-the-formation-of-full-preterism-taking-its-place/

7).  Second Lecture at the PPW 2017 Conference Part 2:  Problems for Postmillennial Partial Preterism in the Olivet Discourse – “In Fulfillment of ALL that has been Written” (Lk. 21:22 = Dan. 7:9-14; 12:1-7, 13; Isa. 25:6-9—27:12-13) http://fullpreterism.com/2804-2/

8).  Second Lecture at the PPW 2017 Conference Part 3: Problems for Postmillennial Partial Preterism in the Olivet Discourse (Resurrection Cont.) – the Trumpet Gathering of Matthew 24:30-31 = the Trumpet Catching Away of 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 http://fullpreterism.com/my-ppw-conference-lecture-2-the-problems-for-postmillennialism-in-the-olivet-discourse-matthew-2430-31-1-thessalonians-415-17/

9).  Second Lecture at the PPW 2017 Conference Part 4:  Problems for Postmillennial Partial Preterism in the Olivet Discourse (Resurrection Cont.) – the Trumpet Gathering of Matthew 24:30-31 = the Trumpet Change of 1 Corinthians 15 http://fullpreterism.com/ppw-2017-the-problems-for-postmillennialism-the-olivet-discourse-matthew-24-25-and-the-resurrection-of-1-corinthians-15/

10).  My Second Lecture at the PPW 2017 Conference Part 5:  Problems for Postmillennial Partial Preterism in the Olivet Discourse (Resurrection Cont.) Redemption and Redemption of the Body Luke 21:27-28 = Romans 8:18-23YLT/11:15-27/13:11-12 http://fullpreterism.com/my-ppw-conference-lecture-2-problems-for-postmillennialism-in-the-olivet-discourse-part-4-resurrection-cont-the-redemption-and-redemption-of-the-body-luke-2127-28-romans-818-23ylt/

11).  My Second Lecture at the PPW 2017 Conference Part 6:  Problems for Postmillennial Partial Preterism in the Olivet Discourse – Bringing Healing and Bridging the Gap between Gentry and DeMar’s Eschatological Madness and House Divided Approach to Matthew 24:35—25:31-46 and Revelation 20:5-15 http://fullpreterism.com/my-ppw-lecture-2-problems-for-postmillennialism-in-the-olivet-discourse-part-6-the-eschatological-madness-of-gentry-and-demar-in-matthew-24-25-and-revelation-205-15/

My Second Lecture of the 2017 PPW Conference Part 1: The Problems For Postmillennialism – The Olivet Discourse (Mt. 23-24; Mt. 24:3, 14/Acts 1:8-11)

Introduction

Kenneth Gentry wrote a book with Greg Bahnsen (with Gary DeMar contributing) entitled, “House Divided the Break-up of Dispensationalism.”  The purpose was to demonstrate that the admissions within Progressive Dispensationalism destroyed Dispensationalism altogether.  Therefore, Progressives needed to choose between a failing Dispensationalism and that of Covenant or Reformed eschatology.

I will be using the “House Divided” approach of Kenneth Gentry and Gary DeMar as we go through the OD to demonstrate the complete destruction and “break-up” of Postmillennialism as a compromising and inconsistent system which has in effect formed Full Preterism which is quickly taking its place.  Previously we have looked at Progressive Postmillennial Partial Preterism in Matthew 13:39-43; Daniel 12:2-3 and Romans 8:18YLT-23 in the previous lecture (and articles).  We will continue to look at those Progressive interpretations forming a spiritual resurrection fulfillment to close the OC age while we now examine Jesus’ teaching in the Olivet Discourse (once we get to Mt. 24:30-31; 25:31-46).  All to say, Postmillennialists such as Gentry, DeMar, McDurmon, Mathison, Sproul, etc…, are now faced with the same dilemma as their Progressive Dispensational opponents – try and erect a crumbling “House Divided,” or embrace Full Preterism!

Here are the issues we want to address in this lecture/article:

1).  Since the Olivet Discourse (OD) is a microcosm of NT eschatology, this poses a problem for Postmillennialism.

2). The context, question(s) of the disciples and structure of Mt. 23-25 creates problems for Postmillennialism.

3). While the various views within Postmillennialism and Reformed eschatology on the OD create a problem for Postmillennialism, their inability to reconcile those problems has in effect formed Full Preterism.

Since Postmillennialism agrees with Full Preterism that all of the signs (cf. Mt. 24:5-15, 30) and apocalyptic de-creation language (cf. Mt. 24:29) was fulfilled in AD 70, I will be addressing the following subjects:

  • The disciples question and the end of the age – whose really confused Kenneth Gentry or the disciples?
  • Are there two Great Commissions in the OD?
  • Was all OT prophecy fulfilled by AD 70 and if so what texts?
  • Is the coming of Christ to gather the elect and give redemption the resurrection event?
  • Are the division theories of Kenneth Gentry arbitrary?

In this article (Part 1 of the second lecture), we will only be examining the context, structure (chiasm & recapitulation), the disciple’s question(s) and the coming of Christ and the Great Commission of Matthew 24:14, 27-30 in relation to Acts 1:8-11 and the “in like manner” coming of Christ.  The WCF connects the coming of Christ in Matthew 24 and Luke 21 as the same “in like manner” coming of Acts 1:9-11 and Postmillennialists stray from the confessions analogy of faith hermeneutic here.  I will be arguing that all of these “beak-up” the “House Divided” Postmillennial Partial Preterist system which has only served to be a stepping stone to Full Preterism.

To Understand the Olivet Discourse, is to Understand Bible Prophecy

There seems to be two main points of agreement on the Olivet Discourse among Futurists:

1).  It is very difficult and no one can agree.

2).  Whatever your view of the OD is, it will form your eschatology in the rest of the NT.

While I disagree on the first point (the OD is very easy to understand), I would agree with the second in that your understanding of the OD will dictate the rest of your understanding of prophecy in the NT.  The OD in essence is a microcosm of NT prophecy.  Here are just a few quotes from a wide range of views that substantiate my point:

“How one interprets this important text will go a long way in determining one’s view of the millennial age, pre, a, or post.  (Kim Riddlebarger).

After citing scholars that concede Paul in 1 and 2 Thessalonians and John in the book of Revelation are following Jesus’ teaching in the OD D.A. Carson writes, “…we may say that Jesus himself [in the OD] sets the pattern for the church’s eschatology.” (D.A. Carson).

John’s version of the the OD is the book of Revelation” (Gary DeMar).

“A proper understanding of the OD is absolutely essential for anyone who wants to gain a clear picture of God’s plan for the ages.  This discourse is so significant that the way a person interprets it will impact his understanding of the rest of the prophecy in the Bible.” (Thomas Ice).

For example, since Postmillennialists such as Kenneth Gentry see two comings of Jesus in the OD (Mt. 24:1-34 = AD 70; vss. 36—25:31ff = end of world history), they likewise see two comings of Jesus throughout the NT and yet can hardly agree in say 1 and 2 Thessalonians on which passages are the AD 70 coming and which ones are allegedly the end of the world coming of Christ texts.

The exception to this rule are Postmillennialists such as Gary DeMar and Keith Mathison whom see all references to the coming of the Son of Man in Matthew, Mark and Luke to be referring to AD 70 and not the Second Coming event.  Not only is this a radical break from the Reformed creeds (which do affirm the coming of Christ in the OD is His Second Coming event), this creates a radical break between Jesus’ eschatology and the rest of the NT’s teaching on the doctrine of the Second Coming of Jesus.  Let’s examine what Postmillennialist Keith Mathison has written on this subject.

When Mathison used to divide the OD the same way Kenneth Gentry did, he affirmed that Jesus guided the Church on the doctrine of His Second Coming and this doctrine was indeed formed by our Lord in the OD (Mt. 24:35—25:46) and therefore this same coming of Christ could be found in such NT passages as: Acts 1:11; 1 Cor. 15:23; 1 Thess. 4:16-17; Heb. 9:28.

But after he saw the division theories of Gentry couldn’t hold exegetical water, he adopted Gary DeMar’s view that every reference to the coming of Christ in the OD was referring to AD 70.  Trying to downplay the significance of this problem, in two footnotes in two different books we read the following:

“This interpretation would mean, of course, that Jesus had very little to say about his actual second coming, but this should not be a major obstacle to evaluating the interpretation.” Mathison, (WSTTB?, 182 nt. 39).

“The bulk of the NT’s teaching on the second coming would be found after the resurrection and ascension (e.g., Acts 1:11; 1 Cor. 15:23; 1 Thess. 4:16-17; Heb. 9:28) (Mathison, From Age to Age, 366 nt. 92).

This is a very embarrassing admission coming from Postmillennialism!  They only have two directions to turn in:  1.  The doctrine of the Second Coming is found in the OD (the creedal view) and every reference is Christ’s spiritual coming in AD 70 (i.e. Full Preterism), or 2.  The embarrassing view that Jesus never really taught on His Second Coming and that this was a doctrine formulated mostly by the Apostle Paul.

Puzzle meme

When we combine Mathison’s old view with his new view, or the various views within Reformed eschatology on the importance of the OD in forming Pauline eschatology we get Full Preterism.  Most futurist eschatological systems correctly affirm that Matthew 24-25 forms and encapsulates NT Eschatology on the doctrines of the Second Coming, the end of the age/de-creation & new creation and the judgment and resurrection of the dead. This being the case, Full Preterism is the missing piece of the puzzle to this conflict over the OD and Bible prophecy in general.

This is NOT an “either or” or which is true either “A” or “B” scenario.  The truth that these men and their publishers want to suppress is that this is a “both and” or there needs to be a third option on the test which says, “Both ‘A’ and ‘B’ are true.

One has to think outside the creedal box on the nature of the Second Coming, the resurrection, end of the age, and the New Creation before there can be a biblical solution to what G.K. Beale has termed a “this thorny problem” between Jesus’ eschatology in Matthew 24 and Pauline eschatology.

The Futurist conspiracy is that they only give you these “either or” possibilities with the question and answers being improperly presented.  The instructors in the seminaries, Bible Colleges, publishers and educators from the pulpits are afraid to form a proper test question and option for their students/the Church — because they know if they do, this might get them fired from the highly funded creedal institution that they have let own them.

The Context and Chiastic Structure of Matthew 23-24 is a Problem for Postmillennialism

The context of Matthew 23-24 create a Chiastic or Inclusio structure centered around Jesus’ phrase “this generation.”  Judgment is said to be coming upon the living (to judge the Pharisees & vindicate those Jesus would send) and the dead (the wicked [Cain] and those who killed the OT and NT Prophets) in the AD 30 – AD 70 generation when the Temple will be destroyed.  Jesus hints at a sign when He mentions this will take place at one of the feasts when they will be singing the Song of Ascent.  Matthew 24 simply picks up where 23 left off.  The Temple’s destruction, Jesus’ coming and the signs are now developed more with again the alarming declaration that all this will be fulfilled in their generation:

A.  Prediction of persecution coming and vindication [judgment of living and dead] at Christ’s coming in this generation (Mt. 23:29-36, 39).

B.  The “coming” of Christ results in the Temple’s destruction. The time or sign will be during one of the feasts – when the Song of Ascent is sung (Mt. 23:38-39/Ps. 118).

B.  Therefore, the disciples understand the “coming” of Christ results in the Temple’s destruction.  But they seek more information concerning the timing and sign issue & therefore, Jesus gives a more in-depth answer on that subject (Mt. 24:1-3; 4-15, 30-31 – then this material gets recapitulated again in Mt. 24:35—25:31-46).

A.  Prediction of persecution and vindication [judgment of the living and the dead] at Christ’s coming in this generation (Mt. 24:9-10, 30-34).

The Recapitulatory Structure of Matthew 24-25 is a Problem for Postmillennialism

John Murray came close in showing how the OD is recapitulatory (not chronological) and reaches the consummation (Second Coming & end of the age asked about) at various places,

“The [OD], as to structure, is recapitulatory…” “It is not, therefore, continuously progressive.  We are repeatedly brought to the advent and informed of its various features, [i.e. contemporary, concurrent or  interrelated events], and consequences (vss. 14, 29-31, 37-41; 25:3146.” (John Murray, COLLECTED WRITINGS OF JOHN MURRAY 2:  Systematic Theology, [Banner of Truth Pub., 1977] 398).

I say Murray came “close,” because he did not know how to correctly handle Jesus’ statement that “all” (the “end” of v. 14 and Jesus’ coming in vss. 27-31) of this would be fulfilled in their “this generation” (v. 34).  Therefore, verse 34 should have also been listed as another text by which we reach the consummation in answer to the disciples question.  The recapitulatory structure of the OD demonstrates that Gentry is wrong to assert the “end of the age” of v. 3 is the end of world history, while taking “the end” of v. 14 as AD 70 to close the OC era and age.  This also destroys DeMar’s view that somehow the coming of Christ and gathering of the elect in vss. 30-31, and His coming in judgment to separate the sheep and goats and judge Satan and the dead in vss. 31-46 is some kind of post AD 70 process spanning thousands of years and not the consummation of the Second Advent at the end of the OC age [in AD 70] the disciples asked about.

The Disciples Question(s) and the Parallel Accounts Are Problems for Postmillennialism 

Postmillennialist Gary DeMar corrects Gentry and other futurists who assume the disciples were confused in associating the end of the age with the coming of Christ to destroy the Temple in AD 70.  He accurately demonstrates how the question of the disciples flow out of the immediate context of chapter 23 and when we understand that the “end of the age” is the OC age, the disciples question harmonizes and flows with the rest of the discourse,

“Upon hearing Jesus’ prediction of “desolation” for the temple and city [in Mt. 23], His disciples “came up to point out the temple buildings to Him” (Mt. 24:1), as if to say, “Lord, you can’t mean this temple!”

“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.”

“The Old Covenant order would end with the destruction of the 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.” (I believe this statement of the NC is left out of other editions)

Kenneth Gentry trying his best not to depart from the Reformed creeds has to have Jesus’ teaching a future to use Second Coming event to close world history in the discourse, so he goes with the standard “confusion of the disciples” interpretation:

“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 [i.e. “end of the age”] (24:36-25:46, which is after a “long time,” 25:19).” (p. 26).

This is puzzling since Gentry admits that Christ’s coming in AD 70 ended the OC age:

“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…” (p. 58).

“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).” (p. 63)

If Jesus’ coming in AD 70 ended and changed the OC age, then there is really no justification for reading into the text (eisegesis) the disciples alleged “confusion” that the “end of the age” in v. 3 and and the content vss. 36ff. deal with the end of world history.

Let’s respond to Gentry’s eisegesis.

Argument #1:  Contextually, the Temple’s destruction Jesus and the disciples are looking at answers to the end of the OC age and has nothing to do with the end of the Church or NC age. The OT and NT teaches the Messianic or NC kingdom age “has no end” so that cannot be the subject under discussion: (Dan. 2:44; 6:26; 7:14, 18; Isa. 7:13-14; 9:6-7; Lk. 1:32; Ephs. 3:20-21). 

Argument #2:  Contextually, Jesus in verse 14 identifies the “end of the age” the disciples asked about simply as “the end.” The ONLY “the end” in context is the end of the age the disciples asked about.  Even in Daniel “the time of the end” “the hour of the end” is also described simply as “the end” (cf. Daniel 12).  Since Gentry believes the sign of the GC here in v. 14 was fulfilled before AD 70 to close the OC era and age (cf. Cols. 1:5-6, 23), then Jesus here is identifying “the end” with the “end of the age” the disciples asked about.  Since both are addressing the end of the OC age and not the end of world history, this overthrow’s Gentry’s theory that the discourse has anything to do with the end of world history or a future to us coming of Jesus.

Argument #3:  The parallel accounts of Mark 13 and Luke 21 Mark and Luke do not record the phrase “and the end of the age” or promote a TWO coming(s) theory as Gentry is proposing here in Matthew 24-25.  Are we to expect that Mark and Luke simply decided to not let their readers know that Jesus taught about the end of world history and TWO comings separated by thousands of years?!?  The fact that Matthew records “end of the age” and adds more parables than the more Gentile audiences of Mark and Luke’s account of the same event explain the difference.   Thus there is no need to eisegetically assume that just because Matthew 24:3 adds “and the end the age” while the others do not, this somehow justifies a two coming theory of Jesus spanning thousands of years in Matthew’s account allegedly dealing with the end of world history while Mark and Luke do not.  Harmonizing the parallel accounts makes “clear” sense, not Gentry’s gymnastics to chop it up into a heretical third coming doctrine.

Besides this, Mark 13:12-13 while not mentioning “the end of the age” does mention the signs of persecution connected to “the end” coming upon that first century audience just as Matthew 24:14 does.  When we follow the context and harmonize the parallel accounts, we see that the discourse is about the end of the OC age when the Temple would be destroyed – not the end of world history.  

Argument #4:  OT reference – Jesus is drawing from Daniel 7, 9 and 12 in the OD where again the end of the age is described as the “time of the end,” “hour of the end” (OG LXX), or just “the end.”  Since Gentry connects “the end” of Daniel 9 and 12 with the end of the OC in AD 70, and since Jesus informs us His coming in judgment upon Jerusalem will fulfill “all” of these OT promises, there is NO reason to assume “the end of the age” in Matthew 24:3 or the rest of the discourse has anything to do with the end of world history.

Argument #5:  The clear statements of the disciples demonstrated that “yes,” they understood Jesus’ teaching on the end of their OC “this age” (Mt. 13:39-43, 51).  And Gentry has already conceded that the only “coming” of Jesus up to this point in Matthew’s gospel is the one the disciples knew would take place in some of their lifetimes and generation and no other (Mt. 10:17-23; 16:27-28; Mrk. 8:38-9:1).  All they wanted to know at this point in Matthew 24 is to have Jesus instruct them on signs they could look for before He would come to end the OC age and destroy the Temple.  This is not complicated.  It only get’s complicated when Gentry realizes he doesn’t want to surrender another creedal passage as DeMar has done to Full Preterism.  Selah.

Argument #6:  The historical context the disciples were living in understood the age they were living in to be the OC age and the “age to come” or “the age about to come” to be the NC or Messianic age.

Argument #7:  Gentry “proves too much” when he cites these examples in Matthew’s gospel where the disciples are confused.  Why?  Because in each case Jesus (or Matthew as a responsible narrator of his gospel) explicitly points out when the disciples are confused or ask a question that needs correction (cf. Mt. 16:6-12, 21-23; 17:4-5; 19:13-15; 20:20-25).  Therefore, since we don’t find Jesus or Matthew claiming the disciples were “confused,” or it is explicitly pointed out a correction to their alleged confusion ensues, we need to submit to what Scripture actually teaches us.  And that is that they did understand Jesus’ teaching on the “end of the age” (Mt. 13:36-51), and therefore we should follow exegetically how Jesus answers their simple question when they correctly connected the three —just as the OT Scriptures do and how Jesus has thus far in His teaching up to this point.

Jesus’ teaching throughout Matthew’s gospel up to chapter 24, the immediate context, the parallel accounts of Mark and Luke, the historical context, and the OT prophets connecting the City and Temple’s destruction to be the time of Messiah coming in judgment to end their age — all lead us to identify “the end of the age” in 24:3 not with the end of world history, but with AD 70!    

The Great Commission is a Problem for Postmillennialism  

Prophecy – Greek Oikumene Fulfillment – Greek Oikumene
“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world [Gk. oikumene] for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” (Matt.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.’” [Gk. oikumene] (Rom. 10:18)
One def. of oikumene – “The Roman Empire (Acts 17:6); the Jews in the world (Acts 24:5).  Of Palestine and the adjacent countries (Luke 2:1; Acts 11:28).”

 

Prophecy – Greek Ethnos Fulfillment – Greek Ethnos
“And the gospel must first be published among all nations.” [Gk. 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.’” [Gk. ethnos] ““‘. . . I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age [cf. Mt. 13:39; 24:3].’ Amen.” (Mark 13:10; Matt. 28:19-20)

 

“…My gospel… has been made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures has been made known to all nations. . . .” [Gk. ethnos] (Rom. 16:25-26)*  These are “all the nations [ethnos] under heaven” in (Acts 2:4-5) which obviously consisted of “all the nations” of the then known Roman Empire.

  

Three brief points on the G.C. of Matthew 28:19-20:

1).  “All nations”

In Acts we are informed that many Jews from “all nations under heaven” throughout the Roman Empire were present and saved in Jerusalem (Acts 2:4-5).  They were discipled by the Apostles, and then through persecution and the Holy Spirit they were then sent back into “all” those “nations” to preach the gospel and thus disciple them.

2).  Christ would be “with” them through the charismata

Mark’s gospel closes in a similar way as Matthew’s.  There is an appeal to fulfill the G.C. and encouragement that the Lord would be “with” them in the sense of performing miracles.  I believe the context of Mark 16:15-20 explains how God was going to be “with” the disciples in Matthew 18:20.  Mark’s account reads, “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). Then in Mark 16:20 we are told, “Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.”  In Acts 10:38 we are told that God was “with” Jesus in the sense of performing miracles.  In John 14 Jesus tells the disciples that the Holy Spirit had been “with” them but would soon be “in them.”  How had the Holy Spirit previously been “with” them?  He was in them and working through them to perform signs and wonders.  In Acts 14-15 the Lord Himself is said to be “with” Paul and Barnabas in performing signs and miracles–confirming the gospel was to go to the Gentiles and that they too formed the NC body of Christ.

Kenneth Gentry who has attempted to refute Reformed Charismatics has failed.  If the GC of Matthew 28:18-20 and Mark 16:15-17 is still an unfulfilled sign (cf. Mt. 24:3, 14) before the “end of the age” and Second (or third) Coming of Jesus can take place, then we should expect God to be “with” the Church through the miraculous gifts.  However, if the GC was a sign that was fulfilled just prior to AD 70 (as Paul states clearly), then we should expect them to “cease” at the end of the OC age and at His coming (cf. 1 Cor. 13:8-12) – which they have.

3).  “End of the age”:

Postmillennialists such as Gary DeMar and Joel McDurmon would have us think 2 out of 3 out “end of the age” statements made by Jesus in Matthew’s gospel are the OC age while the last one refers to their Postmillennial “hope” of Christianizing the nations of the earth before Jesus’ alleged third coming takes place.  The only other reference to the “end of the age” is found in another Jewish NT epistle – the book of Hebrews and these authors also believe this refers to the OC age.

  1. Mt. 13:39 – AD 70.
  2. Mt. 24:3 – AD 70.
  3. Mt. 28:20 – end of world history?
  4. Heb. 9:26 – AD 70.

Once again we see Postmillennialism’s arbitrary hermeneutic at work creating a second GC and changing the meaning of “end of the age” out of thin air.  

Prophecy – Greek Kosmos Fulfillment – Greek Kosmos
“And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world [Gk. 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 hasalso in all the world [Gk. kosmos], as is bringing forth fruit…” (Cols. 1:5-6)
One def. of kosmos – “The then–known world and particularly the people who lived in it…” 

Once again we have Postmillennialists being ineffective to address the Charismatic movement if the GC of this passage has not been fulfilled.  And for those Reformed Cessationists (and want-to-be-Reformed men like Pastor MacArthur) that want to say Charismatics are “demon possessed” today, then this would require the miraculous gift of casting them out to be present today.  And if demons and that miraculous gift is for today, then why not the other miraculous gifts in the passage?!?

Prophecy – Greek Kitisis Fulfillment – Greek Kitisis
“And he said unto them ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.’” [Gk. kitisis] (Mark 16:15) “ . . . from the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature [Gk. kitisis] under heaven, of which I, Paul became a minister.”(Col. 1:23)
One def. of kitisis –  “In rabbinical usage (by which a man converted from idolatry to Judaism was called).”  The creation of men is in view not the literal planet earth.

Clearly Paul was preaching to the creation of men and women and not to rocks, trees and the animals.  This is the same creation (kitisis) that is groaning under the decay of sin in Romans 8 and once again has nothing to do with rocks, trees and the animals — kitisis is the creation of men.

Prophecy – Greek Ge Fulfillment – Greek Ge
“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.” [Gk. ge] (Acts 1:8) “But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed: ‘Their sound has gone out to all the earth/land [Gk. ge], and their words to the ends of the world.’” (Rom. 10:18)
One def. of ge – “The then known lands, regions, territories, countries etc…”
1.  In Jerusalem 1.  Acts 2 – Jews
2.  And Samaria 2.  Acts 8 – Samaritans
3.  In all Judea 3.  Acts 10 – God-fearers
4.  To the earth/land 4.  Acts 19 – the Gentiles

Postmillennialists have no problem quoting Romans 10:18 to demonstrate how the GC of Matthew 24:14 was fulfilled by AD 70 because it uses the same Greek word oikumene (“has gone out to the ends of the world”). Yet, Romans 10:18 also uses the Greek word ge (“has gone out into all the earth”). Therefore, if Romans 10:18 can be applied to the GC of Matthew 24:14 as being fulfilled in AD 70, it can also be applied to the GC of Acts 1:8 as being fulfilled by AD 70.

Jews from “every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:4-5) were saved and empowered by the Holy Spirit to go fulfill the GC of Acts 1:8 to “the end of the earth/land” of the Roman Empire.  As R.C. Sproul points out, the book of Acts describes four Pentecost events based upon Acts 1:8.  Since that is the case, the book of Acts maps out the success of the GC of Acts 1:8  — thus showing how the sign of the GC was being fulfilled and giving Paul his imminent expectation of the resurrection (Acts 24:15YLT).

Keith Mathison connecting the GC with the the timing of the coming of Christ in Acts 1 writes:

“The time frame (of Christ’s Second Coming) is hinted at in the preceding context. The disciples are given a commission to be Christ’s witnesses “in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The implication is that Christ’s visible return will follow the completion of the mission to the remotest part of the earth.” (Postmillennialism, 117).

According to Mathison in the above quote, when the Great Commission in verse 8 is fulfilled, then the Second Coming of verse 11 will occur.  Is this not what we see in the Olivet Discourse – the gospel must first be preached to all the nations and throughout the world before the Coming of Christ can be fulfilled?  There is NO exegetical evidence that the GC and coming of Christ in Acts 1-2 is any different from that of Jesus’ teaching in the OD.   Postmillennialism’s contention that there are two Great Commissions given in the New Testament—one fulfilled before the OC age passes away in AD 70 and then another that will be fulfilled before the allegedly yet-future Second (Third) Coming—is altogether arbitrary.

The Olivet Discourse Acts 1-2
1. Only the Father has authority and knows the dayand hour of the Kingdom’s arrival (Lk. 17:20-37; Lk. 21:27-32; Mt. 24:36). 1. Only the Father has authority and knows the time and dates of the kingdom’s arrival (Acts 1:3-7).
2.  The Holy Spirit (& charismata) would be given to boldly fulfill the G.C. (cf. Mt. 10:17-23; Mrk. 13:10-13) 2. The Holy Spirit (charismata) would be given to boldly fulfill the G.C. (Acts 1:4-8).
3. Jesus would come from heaven upon His glory cloud in their generation (cf. Mt. 24:14-34). 3. Jesus would come from heaven upon His glory cloud in their generation (cf. Acts 1:11; 2:20-40).

Back to the ONE GC being fulfilled before Jesus’ ONE Second Coming event to close the OC age in AD 70.

Prophecy had begun to be fulfilled: Prophecy would be fulfilled “shortly”:
“And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues [Gk. glossa], as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation [Gk. ethnos] under heaven. (Acts 2:4-5) “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 [Gk. ge], and to every nation [Gk. ethnos], and kindred and tongue [Gk. glossa], and people.” (Rev. 14:6).

“The scene is Pentecost, 30 A.D. (cf. Heb. 12:22-24).  This is when the gospel began to be preached under the authority of the great commission (cf. Matt. 28:18-20; Mk. 16:15-16; Lk. 24:46-49) and the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8; 2:1-4; 33; 1 Pet. 1:12).  From here the gospel was preached to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people (cf. Matt. 24:14; Mk. 13:10; Rom. 1:16; 10:18; Col. 1:23).” (Arthur Ogden, The Avenging of the Apostles and Prophets Commentary on Revelation, pp. 292-293).

 

Gary DeMar sees no problem with Revelation 14:6 being another depiction of the GC fulfilled in AD 70 and therefore the nations (Gk. ethnos) and those dwelling on the earth/land (Gk. ge) are local terms reaching the fulfillment “shortly” in AD 70 per the time statements in the book of Revelation.  But once again, this begs the question that if Romans 10:18; Revelation 14:6 and Acts 2:4-5 can be used to show how Matthew 24:14 was fulfilled in AD 70, they can also be applied to show how the gospel was preached to the “earth” (ge) in Acts 1:8 and to all the “nations” (ethnos) of Matthew 28:18-20 — and were thus fulfilled by AD 70!

Since I have touched upon the Charismatic movement here in relation to the GC, I will point out the obvious in that when the Jews spoke in miraculous tongues (Gk. glossa) or human languages (that they had never studied) that were among those nations. This was not some gibberish that Charismatics are trying to pawn off as duplicating the same “miracle” as what happened throughout the book of Acts. No “private prayer language” of gibberish in the book of Acts in relation to the GC being fulfilled.  The gift of tongues (along with the other miraculous sign and revelatory gifts) had a very specific purpose in the first century Church that is no present today.  It went hand in hand as being a sign to fulfill the GC before Jesus’ Second Coming would close the OC age.  From that point forward the Church matured from the OC system and no longer needs those “childish” gifts of confirmation to demonstrate how those OT promises would be fulfilled “in Christ” and through the Church.

As my friend Don Preston has pointed out, the Holy Spirit had the Apostle Paul use every Greek word Jesus used to describe the sign of the Great Commission – as having already been fulfilled within that AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” to close the OC age. The Apostle Paul couldn’t have made it any clearer that He was following the ONE GC teaching as set forth by Jesus’ teaching in the OD. Therefore, Paul understood it as a sign marking the genuine imminence of Christ’s Second Coming, final crushing of Satan, the liberation of creation, redemption of the body and resurrection of the just and unjust (cf. Rms. 8:18-23YLT; 13:11-12; 16:20; Acts 24:15YLT).

Acts 1:9-11 

Postmillennialists such as Mathison and other Futurists insist that Jesus’ physical body was seen for some period of time as He ascended into the sky. However, verse nine simply says, “He was lifted up, and a cloud received Him from their eyes.” Jesus was certainly seen just before He was “lifted up” (Acts 1:9). But it is not at all certain that He was directly seen as He ascended into the sky.

In verse 11, the disciples were told that Jesus would come in the manner that they had seen Him enter heaven (the sky). The continuity (or similarity) of Him coming as He had entered heaven is found in the fact that He would come in the heavenly glory-cloud of His Father (Matt. 16:27). Jesus was not physically seen after He was received into the glory-cloud. It was while He was hidden from sight in that cloud that He was indirectly seen entering the sky.  A son can “see his father” as his fathers plane is taking off the runway and off into the sky, without directly physically seeing his father’s body.  In seeing the plane (which contains his father and the other passengers), he can still correctly say, “There’s dad, and there he goes.”  And He was to come in like manner.  Therefore, He would not be physically or directly seen when He came “in like manner,” in the cloud, to indwell His church in the end of the old covenant age (Luke 17:20–37; John 14:2–3, 23).

The phrase “in like manner” simply means “in a similar way” – not exactly the same way (which seem to be how most falsely interpret the passage).  Jesus didn’t ascend riding on a horse with a sword proceeding from His mouth did He?  Did “every eye” on the planet earth see Him leave?  “The exact same way” argument offered by hyper- literalists self-emplodes upon itself.

Postmillennialists such as Mathison are not correct when they say that Jesus was going to come back in the same way that He “departed.” The Scriptures say that Jesus would come in the same way He had entered the sky. He entered the sky hidden from literal eye sight in the cloud of God’s glory.

Here is the order of events:

1. As they looked, He was taken up (Acts 1:9).

2. A cloud received Him from their eyes (Acts 1:9).

These first two events could very well have happened simultaneously. As Mathison himself admits, the verse could be translated, “He was lifted up; that is, a cloud received Him out of their sight.” (From Age to Age, 459).  It is a very real possibility that Jesus was instantly hidden in the cloud at the moment His feet left the earth.

3. Then the disciples saw Him going into the sky. That is, they looked intently into the sky as He was ascending in the cloud (Acts 1:10–11).

In the Old Testament, God was never literally or directly seen coming in His glory when He judged or saved Israel and other nations. Jesus was not literally seen again after He entered the cloud of God’s glory. He was “taken up in glory” (1 Tim. 3:16) and He would come in glory as the Ancient of Days.

The Lord God had become flesh. John bore testimony to the fact that looking at and touching Jesus was to look at and touch God Himself (John 1:14; 1 John 1:1). God was physically seen in the flesh, but this was temporary for the second person of the Godhead (Heb. 5:7), even as He had been born into and under the old covenant system with its temporal types and shadows (Gal. 4:4; Rom. 5–8; 2 Cor. 3; Heb. 8:13).  Though Jesus is no longer in the flesh, He forever retains His human nature. He is forever Man, even as the saints in heaven today, who are no longer in their physical bodies, are still human/man by nature. Neither the Son of Man nor those who are in Him, whether in heaven or on earth, are “nonhuman” as some futurists theorize.

Ironically, the point of the question, “Why do you stand here looking into the sky,” was that Jesus was not going to return to His physical form. It was futile for the disciples to long for Jesus to return to the earthly form He had taken when He was born of Mary. In His ascension, Jesus had returned to His pre-incarnate glory. The question of the two men was rhetorical, and it meant, “There is no use in standing here longing for Jesus to return to you and to be as He was in the days of His flesh. He will come, but He will come in the manner you saw Him enter heaven—hidden from physical eyes in the cloud of the Father’s glory.”

We agree with the majority of commentators and cross reference systems which see the in-like-manner coming of Jesus in Acts 1:11 as being parallel with the coming of Jesus on or in the cloud(s) in Matthew 16:27–28, 24:30–31, 26:64–68; Luke 21:27, and Revelation 1:7. Mathison and Gentry, however, wrench Acts 1:11 from those Scriptures. They admit that Christ was figuratively “seen” (perceived, understood) at a figurative “coming” in/on the clouds in AD 70, but they deny that this was the fulfillment of Acts 1:11.

This brings us to another problem. Mathison writes of Matthew 24:30 in his book Postmillennialism:

. . . [T]he “coming” of the Son of Man is His coming in judgment upon Jerusalem (see vv. 23–28), which is intimately connected with His ascension to the right hand of God (cf. Dan. 7:13–14). (Keith A. Mathison, Postmillennialism: An Eschatology of Hope (Phillipsburg, NJ: 1999), 114).

Later, in WSTTB, Mathison goes further and identifies the Ascension with the coming of Christ in AD 70:

. . . [W]hen [Jesus] makes reference to “the coming of the Son of Man,” . . . He may have been referring . . . to his ascension . . . and the judgment on Jerusalem. . . . ” (182, emphasis added)

For Mathison, Christ’s “coming” in Daniel 7:13–14 is somehow both a literal, visible “going up” in a literal cloud in about AD 30 and a figurative “coming” to Jerusalem from heaven in figurative clouds in AD 70. The confusion inherent in this position is plain enough. Mathison says that “the coming of the Son of Man” in Daniel 7:13– 14 is a reference to the Ascension. But then Mathison says that when Jesus used the term, He was referring to the Ascension and to the destruction of Jerusalem. Yet there is not one instance where Jesus spoke of the coming of the Son of Man where it can be taken to be a reference to His Ascension. In every case, it is His coming to earth in judgment and salvation. But this is only the tip of the Iceberg of Confusion.

Even though Mathison says that Jesus’ “coming” in AD 70 was “intimately connected with His ascension,” and even though Mathison says that both the Ascension and His coming in judgment in AD 70 are equally “the coming of the Son of Man,” and even though Mathison admits that both events were with a cloud/clouds and in the glory of the Father, and that both events were seen (Acts 1:11; Matt. 26:64), Mathison nevertheless maintains that Jesus’ “coming” in AD 70 was not the “in-like-manner” coming promised in Acts 1:11. Mathison’s position is an ineffable tangle of exegetical double vision, contradiction, and consummate confusion.

Partial Preterist Milton Terry, in contrast, took a lucid, biblical approach, seeing Matthew 24:30–31, 34; Acts 1:11; and Revelation 1:7 as all being fulfilled in the fall of Jerusalem in the end of the age:

“Whatever the real nature of the parousia, as contemplated in this prophetic discourse, our Lord unmistakably associates it with the destruction of the temple and city, which he represents as the signal termination of the pre-Messianic age. The coming on clouds, the darkening of the heavens, the collapse of elements, are, as we have shown above, familiar forms of apocalyptic language, appropriated from the Hebrew prophets.

Acts i, 11, is often cited to show that Christ’s coming must needs be spectacular, “in like manner as ye beheld him going into the heaven.” But (1) in the only other three places where [“in like manner”] occurs, it points to a general concept rather than the particular form of its actuality. Thus, in Acts vii, 28, it is not some particular manner in which Moses killed the Egyptian that is notable, but rather the certain fact of it. In 2 Tim. iii, 8, it is likewise the fact of strenuous opposition rather than the special manner in which Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses. And in Matt. xxiii, 37, and Luke xiii, 34, it is the general thought of protection rather than the visible manner of a mother bird that is intended. Again (2), if Jesus did not come in that generation, and immediately after the great tribulation that attended the fall of Jerusalem, his words in Matt. xvi, 27, 28, xxiv, 29, and parallel passages are in the highest degree misleading. (3) To make the one statement of the angel in Acts i, 11, override all the sayings of Jesus on the samesubject and control their meaning is a very one-sided method of biblical interpretation. But all the angel’s words necessarily mean is that as Jesus has ascended into heaven so he will come from heaven. And this main thought agrees with the language of Jesus and the prophets.” (Milton S. Terry, A Study of the Most Notable Revelations of God and of Christ (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 246-247).

I would also add that there are some Postmillennialists such as author Mike Bull that follow Terry’s view and whom believe the coming of the Christ in Acts 1:11 was fulfilled in AD 70.

As Mathison admits in one book but denies in another, the immediate context links Christ’s in-like-manner return to the fulfillment of the Great Commission (v. 8; Matt. 24:14, 27, 30; Rom. 10:18). The Great Commission was fulfilled in Christ’s generation.

Premise #1:  The “in like manner” coming of Christ and His kingdom in Acts 1:6, 11 is fulfilled when the G.C. of Acts 1:8 is fulfilled.

Premise #2:  The gospel was preached and “went out to all the earth” in Paul’s day (Rms. 10:18) and the spiritual NC kingdom arrived at Christ’s coming in the AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” (Lk. 21:27-32; Lk. 17:20-37).

Premise #3:  The coming of Christ and arrival of the kingdom in Acts 1:6-11 is the same event as described by Christ in Luke 21 and Matthew 24 (WCF agrees with Full Preterism)

Conclusion:  The “in like manner” coming of Christ and His kingdom in Acts 1:6, 11 was fulfilled in AD 70 when the gospel was preached and “went out to all the earth” (Rms. 10:18) as a sign just prior to AD 70.

Jesus was “lifted up” and hidden from sight in the cloud of glory. He ascended into the sky hidden in the cloud, as His disciples watched. He was to come in the same manner in which the disciples saw Him enter into the sky: hidden in the cloud of the glory of His Father. He was “seen” in that Day in the same way that Yahweh was “seen” whenever He came on a cloud to judge nations in the Old Testament.

This was the one and only future coming of Christ that was promised in the New Testament. Therefore, Christ returned in AD 70. The analogy of Scripture confirms this interpretation. It does not confirm Mathison’s, which rips Acts 1:9–11 from its immediate and broader New Testament contexts. We agree with Terry’s comments on Matthew 24:30–31, 34; Acts 1:11; and Revelation 1:7. “We accept upon the testimony of the Scriptures” that Christ returned on/in a cloud/clouds in that generation. (Milton S. Terry, Biblical Hermeneutic (Grand Rapids, MI:  Zondervan, 1990), 468, n.1 (emphases added).

Honey, I Shrunk the Angels – Jesus Depicted in Revelation

Although an Millennialist, Simon Kistemaker argues that Jesus’ physical resurrection body is eternal and that it now literally “sits on God’s throne” (WSTTB?, 240). Kistemaker attempts to prove this claim by using Revelation 1:13–16. He points out that in this passage Jesus is described as wearing a robe that reaches down to his feet, and as having a golden sash around his chest, and a head with white hair, and blazing eyes, and feet as bronze, and a mouth, and a human voice, and a right hand, and a face as radiant as the sun (240, 252).

Kistemaker interprets the book of Revelation in a highly symbolic manner, even more symbolically than “hyper-preterists” interpret it at times. Yet he is woodenly literal in the above passage. But more to the point, he neglects to mention that the above passage also says that Jesus was holding “the angels of the seven churches” (the “seven stars”) in his (supposedly literal) hand (Rev. 1:16, 20). Kistemaker does not explain why those seven angels were reduced in size so that they could fit in Jesus’ physical hand. (Nor does Kistemaker tell us how many angels can fit on the head of a pin.)

Kistemaker also does not mention that Jesus is depicted here as having a sharp two-edged sword coming out of His supposedly literal mouth (Rev. 2:16), and that in Revelation 19:11, He is depicted as riding on a horse in the sky, and that in Revelation 19:12 He has “many crowns” on His head, and that in Revelation 19:13 He is wearing a bloody robe.

To make matters worse, note the contradiction between Kistemaker in WSTTB, and Kistemaker in his New Testament Commentary on Revelation:

Kistemaker, WSTTB: “Jesus’ appearance to John at Patmos was not spiritual, but physical, for John saw his head, face, mouth, eyes, hair, chest, right hand, and feet ([Rev.] 1:13–16) (252)

Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary: “[Rev. 1:16] lists three physical features [of Jesus]: his right hand, his mouth, and his face. These features ought to be understood not literally but symbolically. . . ” (Simon J. Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary, Exposition of the Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 2001; fourth printing 2007), 97).

Kistemaker’s commentary was first printed in 2001, and was most recently reprinted in 2007. So we have Kistemaker saying that the description of Jesus in Revelation 1:16 was symbolic/spiritual in 2001, then saying it was physical/literal in 2004 (WSTTB), then back to saying it was symbolic/spiritual in 2007. As with Mathison, Kistemaker must temporarily change his preterist exegeses when he is attempting, in vain, to refute full preterism.

Conclusion

In concluding Part 1 of the “House Divided” and “Break-up of Postmillennialism” in Matthew 24-25, we have begun to see that when we combine what Gentry and DeMar are teaching in the OD, the Second Coming, judgment of the dead, and judgment of Satan (Mt. 24:36–25:31-46) was fulfilled by AD 70.  Gentry takes the creedal view of this section being the “actual” Second Coming event, while DeMar and Mathison teach this coming was fulfilled spiritually in AD 70.  The structure of Matthew 24-25 is recapitulatory and thus it finds it’s fulfillment in the AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” to close the OC age with the destruction of the Temple.

Proposition #1 (Gentry, Mathison, Amillennialism):  Since it is true that Matthew 24:36–25:31-46 is Christ’s Second Coming Event and is the same coming of Christ as is in 1 Thess. 4-5; 1 Cor. 15; Acts 1:11 and Heb. 9:28.

Proposition #2 (DeMar and Mathison’s new view):  And since it is true that Matthew 24:36–25:31-46 is descriptive of Christ’s spiritual coming to close the OC age in AD 70 and “nothing more.”

Conclusion/Full Preterism/Synthesis/”Reformed and always reforming”:  Then it is also true that Matthew 24:36–25:31-46 is descriptive of Christ’s spiritual Second Coming event to close the OC age in AD 70 and “nothing more.”  It is also the same coming of Christ as is in 1 Thess. 4-5; 1 Cor. 15; Acts 1:11 and Heb. 9:28 and therefore these texts were also fulfilled spiritually in AD 70 and “nothing more” (i.e. not the end of world history or a physical coming of Jesus).

In regards to the GC, the classic and historical views of Amillennialism and Premillennialism are correct to point out that there is only ONE GC predicted in the NT and Postmillennialism is correct that the Greek words used to describe this GC need not be interpreted globally, but locally to fit within the NT imminent expectation.

Premise #1 (Amill & Premill):  The NT is only addressing ONE GC in Matthew 24:14/28:18-20; Mark 13:10/Mark 16:15-20 and Acts 1:8.

Premise #2 (Postmill):  The GC of Matthew 24:14 was fulfilled in AD 70.

Conclusion (Full Preterism):  The NT is only addressing ONE GC in Matthew 24:14/Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 13:10/Mark 16:15-20 and Acts 1:8 and it was fulfilled by AD 70.

And what of the coming of Christ and the arrival of the Kingdom, in relation to the GC in Acts 1-2 and Matthew 24-25?

Premise #1 (Amill & Premill):  The coming of Christ and arrival of the kingdom in Acts 1-2 is the same event as described for us in Matthew 24-25; Luke 17 and Luke 21.

Premise #2 (Postmill):  The coming of Christ and arrival of the Kingdom in Acts 2; Matthew 24-25; Luke 17; and Luke 21 was fulfilled spiritually in AD 70.  I would also add that there are some Postmillennialists such as Mike Bull whom believe the coming of the Christ in Acts 1:11 was fulfilled in AD 70.

Conclusion/Synthesis (Full Preterism):  The ONE Second Coming of Christ and arrival of the Kingdom in Acts 1-2; Matthew 24-25; Luke 17; and Luke 21 was fulfilled spiritually in AD 70 to close the OC age.

These two “House Divided” positions within Postmillennialism itself and within Postmillennialism and both Amillennialism and Premillennialism have actually formed Full Preterism, therefore these Futurist systems cannot in any sense be seen as refuting it.  Selah.

To Watch the Lecture or Read this Series go to:  

My First Lecture of the PPW 2017 Conference Part 1: The Problems For Postmillennialism – My Approach and Methodology http://fullpreterism.com/my-lecture-on-the-problems-of-postmillennialism-at-the-2017-ppw-conference-the-wedding-and-resurrection-motif/

My First Lecture of the 2017 PPW Conference Part 2:  The Problems For Postmillennialism – God’s Divorce, Re-marriage and NC Betrothal http://fullpreterism.com/my-lectures-given-at-the-2017-ppw-on-the-problems-with-postmillennialism-wedding-resurrection-part-2-gods-ot-marriage-divorce-betrothal-and-remarriage-promises/

My First Lecture of the 2017 PPW Conference Part 3:  The Problems For Postmillennialism -Wedding and Resurrection (Jn. 4-5) http://fullpreterism.com/my-2017-ppw-lecture-on-the-problems-with-postmillennialism-wedding-resurrection-part-3-john-3-5-and-nt-betrothal-and-marriage/

My First Lecture of the 2017 PPW Conference Part 4:  The Problems For Postmillennialism – Wedding and Resurrection (Mt. 8:10-12/Mt. 22:1-14/Mt. 25:1-13) http://fullpreterism.com/my-2017-ppw-lecture-on-the-problems-with-postmillennialism-wedding-and-resurrection-part-4-mt-810-12-221-14-251-13isa-256-9/

My First Lecture of the 2017 PPW Conference Part 5:  The Problems For Postmillennialism – The Parable of the Wheat and Tares and the Resurrection (Mt. 13:39-43/Dan. 12:2-3) http://fullpreterism.com/my-2017-ppw-lecture-on-the-problems-with-postmillennialism-in-the-parable-of-the-wheat-and-tares-the-end-of-the-age-and-the-resurrection-mt-1339-43dan-122-3/

My Second Lecture of the 2017 PPW Conference Part 1:  The Problems For Postmillennialism – The Olivet Discourse (Mt. 23-24; Mt. 24:3, 14/Acts 1:8-11) http://fullpreterism.com/lecture-2-at-the-2017-ppw-problems-for-postmillennialism-in-the-olivet-discourse-house-divided-the-break-up-of-postmillennialism-and-the-formation-of-full-preterism-taking-its-place/

House Divided Chapter Four Partial Preterist Keith A. Mathison Vs. Full Preterist Michael J. Sullivan Conclusion

House Divided Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology A Preterist Response to 

When Shall These Things Be?

Chapter Four

The Eschatological Madness of Mathison or How Can These Things Be? 

Conclusion

Michael J. Sullivan

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in writing from the publisher or author of this chapter/article (Vision Publishing or Michael J. Sullivan), except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.  

Conclusion 

Mathison says that interpreting New Testament eschatological timetexts is a “difficult problem” that has “perplexed commentators forcenturies,” and that it is therefore a subject upon which he and his coauthors do not agree (155, 178, 204). Consequently, Mathison’s treatment of the time texts is ambiguous and he casts a fog over the whole matter. Here are some examples of Mathison’s pervasive uncertainty as he wrestles against God’s eschatological time-statements.

• “You shall not finish going through the cities of Israel, until the Son of Man comes.”

 Commentators have interpreted [Matthew 10:23] in a number of different ways. (175–176) Mathison presents five competing futurist and partial preterist interpretations.

He eventually lands on an interpretation but he does not express unequivocal confidence in it.

• “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standinghere who shall not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” 

. . . [W]hat does it mean for Jesus [in Matthew 16:27–28] to suggest that [the coming of the Son of Man] will happen within the lifetime of his hearers? (176)

But of course, Jesus did more than merely “suggest” that His coming would happen within the lifetime of His hearers, as Mathison weakens the words of the Lord.

• The Coming of the Son of Man

 Each of the texts we have looked at (Matt. 10:23; Matt. 16:27–28; 24–25) seems to portray the coming of the Son of Man as something that would occur soon after the words were spoken.

This has perplexed commentators for centuries. (178)

Mathison then makes reference to “all of the difficulties surrounding these [time] texts” and adds that “several” interpretations have been “suggested” (178–179).

But as preterists know, these texts are unequivocal and non perplexing. Note that Mathison admits that all of the biblical texts he cited in Matthew (including the prophecy of the sheep and goats) “seem” to say what preterists say they say. When Mathison says that the texts are surrounded by “difficulties” and that they have “perplexed commentators,” the reason is—obviously—because the texts, if left to interpret themselves, teach “hyper-preterism.” Yet five pages later Mathison says, “There is nothing in any of these texts that demands or even strongly suggests a hyper-preterist interpretation” (183).

• “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” 

. . . [S]everal possible interpretations [of Matthew 24:34] have been offered.

Mathison presents nine competing futurist and partial preterist interpretations (179–181). All of the “possible interpretations” of the word “generation” proposed by Mathison are puzzling though, since he tells readers in his book, Postmillennialism: An Eschatology of Hope, while refuting Dispensationalism, that they can “know” the preterist interpretation of “this generation” in Matthew 24:34 is the true interpretation:

We know that the phrase “this generation” refers to the generation of Jews to whom Jesus was speaking for these reasons. . . .[1]

Treading water in a great sea of uncertainty and contradiction, Mathison flounders among the “many possible interpretations” of these and other passages, and then miraculously arrives at the shore and concludes with curious confidence: “Just as there is nothing in the Gospels that even remotely suggests hyper-preterism, so there is also nothing in the book of Acts or in the New Testament epistles that suggests hyper-preterism” (205, emphases added). “The New Testament . . . does not even suggest hyper-preterism” (213, emphases added).

Let’s see now. Mathison admits that Jesus said (or suggested or seemed to teach) many times and in many places that His coming would happen within the lifetime of His hearers. Mathison admits that this fact has perplexed futurist commentators for centuries (176–179). Mathison admits that Paul and other New Testament writers seemed to teach that Christ was coming soon and that the end of the age was near (201–202). Then Mathison says that there is nothing in the New Testament “that even remotely suggests hyper-preterism” (205, 213). Our question to Mathison is not when, but how can these things be?

Mathison undertakes to evaluate and dismiss the preterist position while he himself is uncertain as to how to interpret the verses that “seem” to support preterism (but at the same time do not even “remotely suggest” preterism). Mathison’s particular beliefs are a matter of opinion and debate, because according to Mathison, who can know with any certainty what such terms as “near” and “soon” and “this generation” and “some of you standing here” really mean? There are many possible interpretations.

Mathison should consider that his eschatological particulars (the time texts) are vague and uncertain because his eschatological universals (the physical and yet-future second coming, resurrection, and judgment) are askew. If we all were to agree and stand “shoulder to shoulder” (155) on the universal that eschatology is all about the fall of the Soviet Union, the result would be that our interpretation of a myriad of verses would become a “difficult problem” (Mathison’s term).  Mathison’s quandary vividly illustrates the centuries-old problem with futurism. Two or three flawed universals have made a vast multitude of particulars unfathomable.

. . . [O]rthodox Christianity was characterized by two eschatological doctrines: the future return of Christ to judge mankind and the future bodily resurrection of all men for judgment. . . . [A]part from these two doctrines, there was nothing approaching consensus for the first four centuries [of church history].[2]

This problem is alive and well today, as Mathison’s multi-authored book demonstrates. Mathison uses wild understatement when he says of the authors of WSTTB: “ . . . [T]he contributors to this volume do not completely agree in their interpretation of every eschatological text” (155).  The fact is that all seven of the contributors to Mathison’s volume do not agree at all on any (or at least virtually any) eschatological doctrine except the doctrine “that the second coming of Jesus Christ, the general resurrection, and the Last Judgment are yet to come” (155). Mathison can call that “shoulder-to-shoulder” agreement, but it is not impressive. Agreement on only a few points out of a myriad merely indicates that those few points are wrong.

It is more than difficult to understand how these authors can portray their historical positions as unified on these points when between their two systems (partial preterism and amillennialism) two contradictory propositions emerge when you examine the particulars – that is the  passages that are used to arrive at a futurist position for these three events:

1)      Partial Preterism – Imminence and fulfillment is accepted, Christ appeared a second time at the end of the old covenant age, there was a spiritual, corporate, covenantal judgment and resurrection of the living and dead which was attended by a passing of the old creation and arrival of the new in AD 70 in such passages as these: Daniel 12:1-4; Matthew 5:17-18, 13:39-43, 24-25; Acts 1:11; Romans 8:18, 13:11-12; 1 Peter 4:5-7; 2 Peter 3; Revelation 1-22; Hebrews 8:13, 9:26-28,[3] 10:37.

And yet we are also told that this proposition is true –

2)       Classic Amillennialism – The NT only teaches one coming of Christ, general judgment and resurrection of the living and dead attended by the restoration of creation at the end of the age.

How can these things be indeed?  Obviously both of these propositions cannot be true at the same time unless full preterism is true and accepted. Allow me to use two particular passages in connection with my testimony on how I became a full preterist which illustrates the problem the authors of WSTTB have with their so called “shoulder to shoulder” unity.  One day I was reading Reformed amillennial and partial preterist books while also studying Matthew 24-25 and comparing it with 1 Thessalonians 4-5 in my dorm room at the Master’s College.  I concluded that the partial preterist was accurate in teaching that the coming of Christ in Matthew 24-25 was fulfilled in AD 70 spiritually using apocalyptic language and that the amillennialist was also accurate in that Paul was drawing from Jesus’ teaching in the Olivet Discourse and that there is only one “the parousia” of Christ in the NT.  Therefore “orthodoxy” was teaching me that 1  Thessalonians 4-5 was the same coming of Christ described by Jesus in Matthew 24-25.  But since the futurist errs on the nature of the resurrection assuming it is biological and at the end of time, the readers of WSTTB are forced into a contradictory “either or” situation on passages such as these when the truth is a “both and.”  I think one can see the problem the authors of WSTTB are trying to sweep under the rug when it comes to how they can “unify” in teaching that the Second Coming is still future when the particulars of what they are each saying on the given texts and how they relate to each other teach otherwise.

The choice is simple.  Either one continues propagating the myth that these two propositions within the futurist paradigm do not lead to a contradiction, or accept the organic development of full preterism which unites them in seeing that these events were fulfilled in AD 70 when Christ came (once a “second time”) invisibly to close the old covenant age dissolving the elements of that world while establishing the new.

It is ironic that the title of Mathison’s book is When Shall These Things Be?  Not only is there no consensus among the authors as to the answer to that very question, but Mathison himself (the only author who attempts to answer the question) fails to arrive at an unequivocal and decisive answer. Within a span of six pages (177–182), Mathison tacitly admits that the question is a problem for futurism, and offers seven or eight possible “solutions.”[4]

If we were to apply Mathison’s method in eschatological matters to all other areas of life, we would be certain of nothing; we would all be postmodernists. The truth would become unknowable. Mathison himself, in his book The Shape of Sola Scriptura, teaches that “clear” and “firm scriptural proof for every article of faith” is a “necessity.”[5]

Yet in WSTTB, Mathison demonstrates with his plethora of “possible interpretations” that he lacks “clear” and “firm” scriptural proof either for futurism or against preterism. Nevertheless, he feels at liberty to anathematize us for our preterist challenge to futurism (213).

Mathison claims that Christ died to leave the church, for 2,000 years and counting, in an “evil age.” As my editor has said, “Joy to the world!” Postmillennialists such as Marcellus Kik and Keith Mathison have produced not so much an Eschatology of Victory or An Eschatology of Hope, as a “sick” eschatology, because, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life” (Prov. 13:12). Preterism will stand the test of time; and as godly men embrace it and teach it, it will bring healing to the “eschatological schizophrenia” of Mathison et al, and to the eschatological division within the church as a whole.

Interestingly, Gentry and Mathison in their books pit old school dispensationalism against modern day progressives as a “House Divided” that “cannot stand” unless they move more toward covenant theology.  And yet we have documented their “House Divided” approach which equally “cannot stand” unless full Preterism is embraced to “bridge the gap.”  And since they also exhort progressives such as Pastor John MacArthur in his/their changes which are moving closer and closer to covenant theology, we too applaud Gentry and Mathison for coming closer and closer to full Preterism in what they have written since WSTTB.  If a five point Calvinist and progressive dispensationalist such as MacArthur can be seen as “inconsistent,” holding to a “compromised” position, or being content in being a stepping stone for others to come into covenant theology, then full preterists can view Gentry and Mathison’s writings as such in their moves towards full preterism.

If not why not? As a Reformed believer, dear reader, you know that there is no middle ground between Arminianism and Calvinism. You may have tried at one time to say that you were neither a Calvinist nor an Arminian. Or you may have acknowledged that the Bible teaches Calvinism, but you rejected the teaching because you were troubled by its implications. Or you may have even been a closet Calvinist for years. Though the road was perhaps difficult, you eventually embraced the doctrines of grace, and now you know there is no compromise position between the two doctrines.

Many Reformed believers today are having the same experience with the doctrine of preterism. They are learning that it is also a hard pill to swallow and that it is nevertheless the doctrine of Scripture. They are learning that it represents “the whole counsel of God” in the area of eschatology. After we are confronted with biblical preterism, we may try to straddle the fence, but there is truly no middle ground. Just as R.C. Sproul (Sr.) would consider a four-point Calvinist to be in reality a “confused Arminian,” more and more futurists, on their way to biblical preterism, are beginning to see that partial preterism is just “confused futurism.” There is no biblical basis for “partial preterism” even as there is no biblical basis for “partial Calvinism.” This is why partial preterism
invariably leads to full preterism. This is why Keith Mathison and Ken Gentry have both come closer to “hyper-preterism” since they wrote WSTTB. Mathison now believes that the prophecy of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25 was fulfilled in AD 70 and Gentry now believes that the resurrection in Daniel 12:2-3 was fulfilled in AD 70.


[1] Mathison, Postmillennialism, 111 (emphasis added)

[2] Postmillennialism, 33

[3] Milton Terry wrote of Hebrews 9:26-28, “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 that 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.” “…the writer [to the Hebrews] regarded the incarnation of Christ as taking place near the end of the aeon, or dispensational period. To suppose that he meant that it was close upon the end of the world, or the destruction of the material globe, would be to make him write false history as well as bad grammar. It would not be true in fact; for the world has already lasted longer since the incarnation than the whole duration of the Mosaic economy, from the exodus to the destruction of the temple. It is futile, therefore, to say that the ‘end of the age’ may mean a lengthened period, extending from the incarnation to our times, and even far beyond them. That would be an aeon, and not the close of an aeon. The aeon of which our Lord was speaking was about to close in a great catastrophe; and a catastrophe is not a protracted process, but a definitive and culminating act.” Milton S. Terry, Biblical HERMENEUTICS A Treatise on the Interpretation of the Old and New Testaments, 441-442.

[4] Ken Gentry, in another book, gave a decisive interpretation of Jesus’ answer to the disciples’ question: “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 (vv. 6 and 15 anticipate this) and pick apart Jerusalem (v. 28).” Thomans Ice, Kenneth Gentry, The Great Tribulation Past or Future? Two Evangelicals Debate the Question (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 1999), 58.

[5] Keith Mathison, The Shape of Sola Scriptura (Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 2001), 32