The Sun Will Be Darkened: A Brief Survey Of Apocalyptic Symbolism – Guest Article By Jeffrey T. McCormack

The Sun Will Be Darkened: A Brief Survey Of Apocalyptic Symbolism – Guest Article By Jeffrey T. McCormack

Message Delivered by Jeffrey at Berean Bible Church 05/28/17

Last month I stood up here and discussed the sign of Jonah topic, and within that message I had a short section dealing with the type of apocalyptic language we find in Scripture, but that too many people tend to miss the significance of when they get to the New Testament. So today I wish to take a deeper look at the topic a little further on its own.We’ll be going on a brief journey through some of the apocalyptic and symbolic language found in the Old Testament Scriptures, showing additional examples from the coverage given in the previous message. This topic is a seriously important one to grasp, because people will continue to misinterpret the New Testament scriptures if they do not read, study and understand the language of the Old.The verses we’ll cover today will set the stage and lay the solid ground work necessary for more properly understanding the New Testament prophecy Scriptures. Sadly, when it comes to the New Testament Bible prophecy scenario, so many readers are oblivious to how very much of the same language comes from Old Testament prophecy, leading them to misinterpret the metaphors, idioms, etc. they contain.

This modern generation continue to have this disconnect — this idea of a separation of the storyline between the Old and New testaments. I have said it before, and I’ll say it again; there is a great injustice done when Bible publishers make editions of the Scripture available that only contain the New Testament book. I have felt this was for many, many years, and the more I study and learn, the more strongly I feel on this point.

You can never fully understand, comprehend, or appreciate the story of the New Testament without a firm grasp on the story of the Old. The new is only good news when you read fully of the old bad news. The Gospel message of the New, is the completion and closing chapters of the story presented in the Old.

Instilled in the hearts and minds of so many believers is this false dichotomy that the Old Testament was for those old people, and the New Testament is more for us. And due to that, people have misused and abused so much of the New Testament that it has made the gospel message so twisted. And still worse, it has made the stories of the New Testament to be taken out of context fully.

Back at the 2012 conference, my lecture was dealing with this idea of understanding the whole story of Scripture, especially the Hebrew Scriptures, in order to better understand the story of the New Testament. I opened up by telling the story of the shocking question that was raised by one man.

This man asked a pastor friend of his, “What is good news about the fact that Jesus is the Messiah, the descendant of David?” If someone does not comprehend what was said beforehand about the coming messiah, or the struggles of the people and their promised hope, then this information about a messiah seems trivial for sure.

I had also discussed the response a pastor gave to the question “Did Jesus preach the gospel?” The pastor reasoned that since the gospel is justification by faith in the work of Christ and the cross, then it was impossible to say that Jesus was preaching the gospel. The pastor answered “Nope, Jesus couldn’t have. No one understood the gospel until Paul. No one understand the gospel until after the cross and resurrection and Pentecost.”

This is indeed a problem caused by too heavy of a focus on the New Testament only. There are so many other things in the New Testament that are totally misunderstood because of this same type of reason. So when it comes to the Bible story, without the old, the new makes little sense and that is why things have gotten so badly off track in the modern church.

There are so many pieces of the Old Testament that are referenced within the New, that without grasping the language and meaning of the original reference, it tends to lead to many whacky interpretations. In this message, I would like to focus on national judgment language in general, especially the sun, moon and stars terminology.

A while back, David preached the sermons on the four blood moons issue, and it really brought out all types of crazy comments from people with these physical misunderstandings. The responses were amazingly sad, as many would simply respond and state that “obviously these things have not happened, because we have not seen the stars fall from the sky, or the sky roll up like a scroll,” and other similar cosmic ideas.

Of course, one of the main scriptures raised for this is Matthew 24:29:

Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. (Matthew 24:29 ESV)

Sure, just reading this verse at face value, it would appear to be talking about the end of the entire world, where the actual sun, moon and stars and creation itself is destroyed. Unfortunately, this is the general understanding by most. But we shall find that in fact, that is not what this language is talking about at all.

Another similar star to earth issue is found in Revelation 12: 3-4 where the tail of the dragon sweeps a third of the stars down to earth. Yet, this type of verse is seen by many as being symbolic and not literal — but of course, not all see it this way. John Walvoord, a major teacher of dispensationalism and president at Dallas Theological Seminary for many years, agrees with E.W. Bullinger who said:

It is impossible for us to take this as symbolic; or as other than what it literally says. The difficulties of the symbolic interpretation are insuperable, while no difficulties whatever attend the literal interpretation. (Bullinger, The Apocalypse, 1902 – quoted by Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ, 1966)

So a symbolic interpretation presents difficulties, why a literal does not? On the contrary, a literal approach has major difficulties. Stars tend to be much larger than the Earth, and a single star colliding with the Earth would obliterate it, so the thought of any more than one is inconceivable.

Walvoord and others get around this problem — or try to — by saying these stars are actually more like meteorites, but that does not solve the issue. If evolution proponents claim that a single meteorite hit the earth and destroyed all life on earth during the dinosaur age, then to consider a third of the meteorites hitting earth is again inconceivable.

The problem with all of this is that they fail to understand how the Bible uses terms like these over and over again, and so they assign them literal modern definitions that are biblically inaccurate.

We cover it from this pulpit frequently, that Hebrew symbolism and idioms are often ignored or unknown to many today. Most readers take a surface level, literal English view of the Scripture, using their 21stcentury definitions and interpretive techniques to come to their conclusions.

A simple survey of Hebrew Scripture is all that is needed to have a better understanding of verses like these in the New Testament. Let’s go back and survey how the Hebrew Scriptures used terms like these.

When you read Genesis 37 and the story of Joseph, we find a clear cut story showing the understanding of how God’s people understood the references to sun, moon and stars. This is some of what I covered in my earlier sermon, but it is worth repeating as it is a great place to start to build the foundation on. This story also shows us that it was a historic understanding well known to them — so this is not where it originated:

Then he dreamed another dream and told it to his brothers and said, “Behold, I have dreamed another dream. Behold, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” (Genesis 37:9 ESV)

So, taking the modern approach to this verse, I guess we should understand that Joseph had a dream where one day he would basically be a God, and the literal, physical elements of the universe were going to really bow to him. Of course we know that was not the case because we know that even his family did not come to such a crazy conclusion:

But when he told it to his father and to his brothers, his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall I and your mother and your brothers indeed come to bow ourselves to the ground before you?”(Genesis 3:10 ESV)

So, they clearly understood Joseph to be referencing his parents as the sun and moon, and his eleven siblings as stars. These references were commonly interpreted as representing governing authorities, as understood from Joseph’s use here — but they were also often descriptive of nations or kingdoms.

This understanding is not alien to us as modern American’s either if you stop and think about it. Our own US flag has stars on it, each representing a different and separate nation state within the union — each a political power basically. Other countries use stars on their flag in a similar manner.

Let us look at some quotes from other sources on this topic.

Before the advent of speculative exegesis, most Bible commentators who studied the whole Bible understood the relationship of collapsing universe language with the destruction of the religion and civil state of the Jewish nation. (Gary DeMar, Last Days Madness, 4th ed., p. 144)

Demar’s book actually deals quite well on this topic, and the rest of these quotes are actually ones that he quoted following what he just said in his book:

That is, the Jewish heaven shall perish, and the sun and moon of the glory and happiness shall be darkened — brought to nothing. The sun is the religion of the [Jewish] church, the moon is the government of the [Jewish] state, and the stars are the judges and doctors of both. Compare Isa. 13:10; Ezek. 32:7, 8. (John Lightfoot, A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica: Matthew – 1 Corinthians, ps. 319-320 – [1859])

The darkening of the sun and moon, the falling of the stars, and the shaking of the powers of the heavens, denote the utter extinction of the light of prosperity and privilege to the Jewish nation, the unhinging of authority of their princes and priests; the abject miseries to which the people in general, especially their chief persons, would be reduced; and the moral and religious darkness to which they would be consigned. (Thomas Scott, The Holy Bible….with Explanatory Notes…, v.3 p. 110 [1832])

Our savior goes on, to set forth the calamities that should befall the Jewish nation, immediately after the destruction of Jerusalem. So entire was the subversion of their ecclesiastical and civil state, that it may be metaphorically represented by the sun, moon, and stars, losing their light, and all the heavenly bodies being dissolved. (W. Dalton, An Explanatory and Practical Commentary on the New Testament, v. 1 p 118 [1842])

In ancient Hieroglyphic writings the sun, moon, and stars represented empires and states, with their sovereigns and nobility. The eclipse of their luminaries was said to denote temporary national disasters, or an entire overthrow of any state. This is still an Eastern mode of writing, and there are some classical examples of it. The Prophets frequently employ it, so that their style seems to be a speaking hieroglyphic. Thus Isaiah describes the destruction of Babylon, and Ezekiel that of Egypt — In accordance with this prediction, Josephus gives an account of the persecution and slaughter of the nobility and principal men in the city by the infuriated Zealots, computing their number at twelve thousand. (John Forster, The Gospel-Narrative, p. 307 [1847])

Another aspect of it is seen as related to Israel’s surrounding pagan nations that worshiped these celestial bodies — or more precisely, worshipped deities represented by these celestial bodies.

And beware lest you raise your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, you be drawn away and bow down to them and serve them, things that the LORD your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven.  (Deuteronomy 4:19 ESV – see also 17:3)

The practice of worshiping these celestial objects — or the gods they represent — was also obviously taken up by God’s people at times when they strayed from God’s commandments, as we see evidenced in Kings:

And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest and the priests of the second order and the keepers of the threshold to bring out of the temple of the LORD all the vessels made for Baal, for Asherah, and for all the host of heaven. He burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of the Kidron and carried their ashes to Bethel. 

And he deposed the priests whom the kings of Judah had ordained to make offerings in the high places at the cities of Judah and around Jerusalem; those also who burned incense to Baal, to the sun and the moon and the constellations and all the host of the heavens.  (2 Kings 23:4-5 ESV)

So, it becomes clearly obvious that the usages of language that includes terminology like sun, moon and stars, is not always to be considered literal, and must be judged based on the literary type they appear within.

And what is truly odd, is the inconsistencies and contradictory views that some commentators come to on this subject. There are many that scream about taking things literally, yet even they do not do so in their own theological systems.

Even when they do interpret the language symbolically in places, they do not always stay consistent, and turn right around and interpret the same language usage differently in other places for no real textual reason. For example, the literalist Allen Ross has mentioned it at least twice, with one of the books being edited by John Walvoord himself:

In ancient cultures these astronomical symbols represent rulers. (Allen Ross, The Bible Knowledge Commentary: Old Testament, eds. John Walvoord and Roy Zuck, p. 87)

The second dream involved celestial images — the sun, moon, and stars being easily recognized for their significance for rulership. (Allen Ross, Creating and Blessing: A Guide to the Study and Exposition of Genesis, p. 600)

And then when they get to Revelation 12, with the woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and the crown of stars, some are quick to again leave their literalism to understand these symbolically. John Walvoord himself says:

The description of the woman clothed with the sun and the moon is an allusion to Genesis 37:9-11, where these heavenly bodies represent Jacob and Israel, thereby identifying the woman with the fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant. In the same context, the stars represent the patriarchs, the sons of Jacob. The symbolism may extend beyond this to represent in some sense the glory of Israel and her ultimate triumph over her enemies. (John Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ, p. 188)

Yet, even after having such knowledge, and stating it in their teachings, when they get to Matthew 24:29 where Jesus is drawing from the same Genesis symbolism when stating the sun darkened and the stars falling, they appear to do a flip flop in understanding, and claim it to be a discussion of literal celestial destruction.

So, even though the Scriptures clearly teaching that those things were to happen before that generation hearing him would end, they have to reinterpret other factors to make it work on with their initial erroneous understanding.

They fail to see the prophetic discussion of the nation, represented by the temple, being described in the same celestial language of destruction as used often in the Scriptures. Milton Terry puts is ever so finely when he says:

Too little study of the Old Testament ideas of judgment, and apocalyptic language and style, would seem to be the main reason for this one-sided exegesis. It will require more that assertion to convince thoughtful men that the figurative language of Isaiah and Daniel, admitted on all hands to be such in those ancient prophets, is to be literally interpreted when used by Jesus and Paul. (Milton Terry, Biblical Hermeneutics [1890], p.596)

Let’s look now beyond Genesis, to get an even better backdrop for how this use of celestial language has been used throughout the Scriptures.

ISAIAH 13

First we’ll start with Isaiah 13, which many say was prophesied around 730 BC, and is spoken against Babylon of their time. According to the IVP Bible Background Commentary, at that time, the Neo-Assyrian Empire was probably the most powerful world network that had ever been seen up to that point.

They subjugated Babylonia and its Chaldean rulers like they did so many others. As many of the nations tried to break free over time, they caused revolts and uprisings. Shortly after 630 BC, as the Assyrian empire began to crumble, Babylonia and Media combined forces to put extra pressure on the last of the Assyrian kings, and with his death, the empire was over too. After that, began the emergence of Nebuchadnezzar and the New-Babylonian Empire.

Now, in general terms, the use of sun, moon and stars in Hebrew culture, as we have seen, is often commonly understood as referring to those in a place of authority, or a political type power. But at time, the prophet using these terms could be directly targeting the deities of another people.

According to the Mesopotamian creation epic titled Enuma Elish, the great god Marduk had placed the constellations in order to oversee the forces of nature, and assist him in the management of creation. At that time, the movements of the heavenly bodies were considered omens about things that would occur on Earth, and therefore astronomical observations were a constant practice for them. The findings were recorded and collected into the Enuma Anu Enlil.

In Mesopotamia, Egypt and Greece this information was used to prepare individual horoscopes. Using this, lucky and unlucky days could be determined by consulting the guild of magicians and astrologers. So, now knowing just how important of a part that constellations played for this nation, when we come to the text speaking of judgment upon them, pay attention to the celestial language contained here:

Wail, for the day of the LORD is near; as destruction from the Almighty it will come! Therefore all hands will be feeble, and every human heart will melt. They will be dismayed: pangs and agony will seize them; they will be in anguish like a woman in labor. They will look aghast at one another; their faces will be aflame.

Behold, the day of the LORD comes, cruel, with wrath and fierce anger, to make the land a desolation and to destroy its sinners from it. For the stars of the heavens and their constellations will not give their light; the sun will be dark at its rising, and the moon will not shed its light.

I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will put an end to the pomp of the arrogant, and lay low the pompous pride of the ruthless. I will make people more rare than fine gold, and mankind than the gold of Ophir.

Therefore I will make the heavens tremble, and the earth will be shaken out of its place, at the wrath of the LORD of hosts in the day of his fierce anger. (Isaiah 13:6-13 ESV)

By stating that on the day of Yahweh all of the celestial bodies would be darkened, Isaiah is not only simply saying their power and leaders will be removed, he is claiming that the glory of Yahweh will outshine and therefore mask all of the other supposed gods.

Since Assyria and Egypt both worshiped the supposed sun god as their primary deity, and the moon god Sin was of great importance in Babylonia, it is no surprise that the prophet targets those gods of that arrogant people.

Many agree that this prophecy was fulfilled in 539 BC when Cyrus the Persian took Babylon. But hopefully we see here how the celestial bodies of sun, moon and stars are relevant to the judgment, and were not considered to be a literal event at the time.

Also, hopefully you noted that we also see here a reference to a woman in labor, which should trigger in our minds the similar language to the birth pains we find in places like Jeremiah 48 and 49, as well as Matt. 24:8 and Mark 13:8:

For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains. (Mark 13:8 ESV)

ISAIAH 19

Now, moving forward to Isaiah 19, we find a prophecy spoken against Egypt:

An oracle concerning Egypt. Behold, the LORD is riding on a swift cloud and comes to Egypt; and the idols of Egypt will tremble at his presence, and the heart of the Egyptians will melt within them. (Isaiah 19:1 ESV)

What we find here is again not quite the celestial language that we have been discussing, but it is the type of apocalyptic symbolism that we find in conjunction with that language as we find it more getting into the New Testament. Here in Isaiah we have God riding on the clouds as well as a little more de-creation type language of rivers completely drying up.

Associating God with using clouds is not a new idea, as we know He used clouds to represent His presence to Moses and during the Exodus from Egypt. However, now, it is a symbol of judgment as God is coming — riding on the cloud to bring destruction. As we are told in Psalm 103:

He lays the beams of his chambers on the waters; he makes the clouds his chariot; he rides on the wings of the wind; (Psalms 104:3 ESV)

So the idea of God riding a cloud is an established idea that is not considered literally taking place. Actually, some say that this type of language is taken from texts that speak of the Ugaritic god Baal. In the stories contained in the two texts the Aqhat Epic and the Baal and Anat, Baal is referred to as the “Rider of the Clouds.” Dave has covered this numerous times in past message, and again, like before, is a direct attack against a nation’s god.

His attributes include commanding the storms, unleashing lightening, and a Diving Warrior rushing into war. He even appears in the Egyptian El Amarna texts. This language in these earlier texts is very similar to Yahweh, who is the Creator, Fertility God, and Divine Warrior.

So, one of the ways that Yahweh presented himself to his people the Israelites, in order to portray himself as the true God and sole divine power, is by assuming the titles and powers of the ancient Near Eastern gods.

Then, we get over into Isaiah 34 where we’re presented with a coming judgment against Edom, and it is described again with this destructive language:

Their slain shall be cast out, and the stench of their corpses shall rise; the mountains shall flow with their blood. All the host of heaven shall rot away, and the skies roll up like a scroll. All their host shall fall, as leaves fall from the vine, like leaves falling from the fig tree. For my sword has drunk its fill in the heavens; behold, it descends for judgment upon Edom, upon the people I have devoted to destruction. (Isaiah 34:3-5 ESV)

Some translations say the mountains melted with their flowing blood. Obviously the mountains didn’t literally melt or flow with blood — but some try to make it more literal by saying the amount of blood was so much, that it loosed enough of the dirt of the mountain to cause big chunks of it to slide down. John Gill sees it this way but considers it as more of a hyperbole, stating it as being written in a more extreme fashion than it truly was. He says this saying is:

An hyperbolical expression, denoting the great number of the slain upon the mountains, and the great quantity of blood shed there; which should run down in large streams, and carry part of them along with it, as large and hasty showers of rain wash away the earth, and carry it along with them; such an hyperbole see in Rev. 14:20. (John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible)

When I was first reading through this verse, my mind immediately jumped to Rev. 14:20 — so it is good to see an ancient like Gill does too; they were not totally oblivious to this language usage. In Revelation we are told that the blood “flowed from the winepress, as high as a horse’s bridle” for roughly 200 square miles.

Hyperbole indeed, yet I have heard people go into great detail as to how this was to literally occur. Blood flowing greatly, rivers of blood, etc. are all signs of the aftermath of God’s judgment and aside from Moses doing it, are not considered literal occurrences.

Also here in Isaiah we are told the hosts of heaven shall rot, or be consumed as some have it. So again, here is language dealing with the elements of heaven and speaks as if they will cease to exist. The IVP Bible Background Commentary is a fairly popular set that provides great insights from some leading Bible scholars on a majority of verses. On this verse in Isaiah they state:

Imagery of disappearing stars: Always in command of all creation, Yahweh shows mastery over the heavens and celestial bodies, causing their brightness to be snuffed out in a reversal of creation. Prominent astral motifs in the Mesopotamian religion included the idea that the gods were given stations within the heavens and “their astral likenesses” marked the zones of the calendrical year.

In the celestial omens the disappearing of a star or planet always suggested that the related deity had suffered defeat in battle. Astral deities were considered among the most prominent and powerful of the gods. The dissolving of the stars and the fall of the starry host are therefore related.

Both the natural manifestation as well as the deity connected to it are overcome in this act of judgment. (The IVP Bible Background Commentary – Old Testament, p. 624)

So, not only are we seeing these terms used as representative of national judgment, but again, they are understood as referring also to those heavenly powers assigned to a nation — their gods — and their judgment too.

This Isaiah verse also states that the sky would roll up as a scroll, which is obviously symbolic, since when this judgment came, the literal sky did not roll up — though sadly some seem to expect that to happen in our future still. The Bible Background Commentary continues, adding some additional related insight:

The three major Babylonian gods are not represented by stars but by the sky itself. Anu is the sky god, and the horizon is divided into three paths (connected to Anu, Enlil and Ea). Therefore, rolling up the sky is an act of judgment against the three main deities of the ancient world. (The IVP Bible Background Commentary – Old Testament, p. 624)

JEREMIAH 4

Moving on to Jeremiah 4 we find a prophecy against Jerusalem at the time, a prophecy that was fulfilled not too long afterwards when Nebuchadnezzar II took over in 586 BC. I will touch on just the highlighted versus from this section:

Behold, he comes up like clouds; his chariots like the whirlwind; his horses are swifter than eagles — woe to us, for we are ruined! (Jeremiah 4:13 ESV)

Here again, as we just saw in Isaiah 19, we find more of the symbolism of God coming on the clouds in judgment. As we continue we find mountains trembling (v. 24), the heavens above becoming dark (v. 28), and the symbolism of a woman crying out in labor pains (v. 31).  Actually, if you read verse 23-26 you find Jeremiah taking imagery from the Genesis 1:2 creation account and using it in poetic form to describe a reversal of creation.

This language is used to basically say that all that they thought was consistent in life is now falling apart for them. While this type of language is commonly used in prophetic literature in connection with the Day of the Lord and coming judgment, it is of course never understood to be literal.

Taking a very brief look at Zephaniah 1, we get another prophecy of the same coming judgment of Jerusalem, and of course we find similar language from a different prophet:

The great day of the LORD is near, near and hastening fast; the sound of the day of the LORD is bitter; the mighty man cries aloud there.  A day of wrath is that day, a day of distress and anguish, a day of ruin and devastation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness… (Zephaniah 1:14-16 ESV)

Again, we find darkness and clouds mentioned here. All of this language is wrapped tightly in the symbolism surrounding the national judgment coming from God, and again, not literal.

EZEKIEL 30-32

Jumping now into Ezekiel 30-32, we find the prophecy of judgment against Egypt. I have read some who say this was accomplished when Cambyses of Persia conquers Egypt in 525 B.C., while I have heard others say based on Josephus, it was fulfilled in B.C. 587 when Babylon destroyed them.

The emphasis for us here does not require us to delve too deeply into the actual date of occurrence, but simply to understand that this event has already occurred, and this language again was not literally a reality. Here in Ezekiel, as expected, we find the same language is used:

For the day is near, the day of the LORD is near; it will be a day of clouds, a time of doom for the nations.  (Ezekiel 30:3 ESV)

Here we find clouds again in the story of judgment as has become common we now see. It is the day of the Lord, a day he has set for national judgment. And later in the same chapter:

At Tehaphnehes the day shall be dark, when I break there the yoke bars of Egypt, and her proud might shall come to an end in her; she shall be covered by a cloud, and her daughters shall go into captivity.  (Ezekiel 30:18 ESV)

Now, I will state that of course not every time we see clouds mentioned are we to assume it is a reference to Yahweh riding them in judgment. Oftentimes it is used poetically to mean that a calamity is falling on them, like in this verse here. For instance, the Targum, which is the Aramaic version of the Hebrew Scriptures that was used in the first century by many a Rabbi, puts this verse like this:

a king with his army shall cover her as a cloud ascends and covers the earth:

So, while this is not a reference to God riding the cloud, it is still a reference to clouds involved in the judgment from God. And then moving into Ezekiel 32, we see language that we find later in the New Testament, and that may be related to verse that are often misunderstood.

And I will cast you on the ground; on the open field I will fling you, and will cause all the birds of the heavens to settle on you, and I will gorge the beasts of the whole earth with you.  (Ezekiel 32:4 ESV)

And the same language is used later in the book when speaking of the fall of Gog:

You shall fall on the mountains of Israel, you and all your hordes and the peoples who are with you. I will give you to birds of prey of every sort and to the beasts of the field to be devoured. (Ezekiel 39:4 ESV)

As for you, son of man, thus says the Lord GOD: Speak to the birds of every sort and to all beasts of the field, ‘Assemble and come, gather from all around to the sacrificial feast that I am preparing for you, a great sacrificial feast on the mountains of Israel, and you shall eat flesh and drink blood. You shall eat the flesh of the mighty, and drink the blood of the princes of the earth—of rams, of lambs, and of he-goats, of bulls, all of them fat beasts of Bashan. (Ezekiel 39:17-18 ESV)

Obviously there is no denying the connection that is used Rev. 19:

Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly directly overhead, “Come, gather for the great supper of God, to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great. (Revelation 19:17-18 ESV)

But while I did not delve into depth to determine if this is a necessary connection, but one cannot help but be immediately struck by the similarities of this bird talk with what we are told in Luke 17:

I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed. One will be taken and the other left. There will be two women grinding together. One will be taken and the other left.” And they said to him, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.” (Luke 17:34-37 ESV)

This verse is often misused as some kind of Rapture of Christians off the Earth view, but in reality it is not. I like the way Reformed John Gill states it:

the one shall be taken – not by the preaching of the Gospel, into the kingdom of God, or Gospel dispensation; … nor by angels, to meet Christ in the air, and to be introduced into his kingdom and glory; but by the eagles, the Roman army, and either killed or carried captive by them. (John Gill)

The idea of the post judgment dead being eaten by the bird of the air seems to be a common thread as we have seen, and is usually understood as an ultimate shameful end, to not have a decent burial, but instead to food for the fowl of the air. Now continuing on in Ezekiel 32:

I will drench the land even to the mountains with your flowing blood, and the ravines will be full of you. When I blot you out, I will cover the heavens and make their stars dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give its light. All the bright lights of heaven will I make dark over you, and put darkness on your land, declares the Lord GOD.  (Ezekiel 32:6-8 ESV)

Again, notice here we have similar events as mentioned earlier in Isaiah 34, where mountains are flowing with blood. Hopefully you are beginning to see how this type of language is becoming a common thread in the apocalyptic symbolic language used in Scripture throughout. This is not the language of literal world ending events happening over and over again, these are all national judgments.

JOEL

Now, most people tend to be quite familiar with what is said in Joel, but it is as if they ignore — or just never read — all of the uses of the language of the Old Testament, and so from Joel on into the New Testament they believe everything will literally happen for some reason.

Since we are clearly told that these words from Joel began to be accomplished in the book of Acts, we know they were not literal happenings. However, as before, we find the same types of language here:

Blow a trumpet in Zion; sound an alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming; it is near, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness! Like blackness there is spread upon the mountains a great and powerful people; their like has never been before, nor will be again after them through the years of all generations. (Joel 2:1-2 ESV)

Note that here we have the blowing of a trumpet at the Day of the Lord, a day of darkness, gloom, and clouds. All things that hopefully ring a bell as things we’ve read time and time again in the New Testament, which we shall get to in a bit. Joel continues:

The earth quakes before them; the heavens tremble. The sun and the moon are darkened, and the stars withdraw their shining. (Joel 2:10)

The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. (Joel 2:31)

While some may want to simply see this as a solar eclipse and a blood moon eclipse, it must not be ignored that it is most often understood as a symbolic blotting out of the powers and rulers of the nation being judged, and as mentioned, may be directed at the deities of a nation. And we find similar language continuing on into chapter three:

Multitudes, multitudes, in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. The sun and the moon are darkened, and the stars withdraw their shining. The LORD roars from Zion, and utters his voice from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth quake. But the LORD is a refuge to his people, a stronghold to the people of Israel. (Joel 3:14-16 ESV)

Now of course, it could be that at times this language of the sun and moon being darkened could be referring to an actual literal eclipse, or that the event was accompanied by such a literal event. We are not ruling out this possibility. Knowing that God controls the celestial bodies, and knowing he gave them for signs and seasons, it is not out of the realm of possibility that these disastrous events were accompanied by an eclipse as a sign.

And some commentators say that judgment scenarios like this may have been so intense and large, producing so much fire and smoke, that it could have filled the sky to the point of covering the light of the sun, moon or stars from sight for those on the earth in that area.

While these ideas are not an impossible scenario, it must not a considered a necessity to have gone down that way in order to fulfill the symbolism of the language used. Since the usage of sun, moon and stars has already be established as symbolic language used of national judgment, even if these natural occurrences did occur, the thrust of this language is not necessarily leaning to that physical understanding.

And while some may use this angle to explain away or strictly literalize these celestial entities becoming dark, this technique cannot be used in the places where the stars fall to the Earth, or other such language. We’ll look more at that later.

AMOS

Moving on, Amos gives us a prophecy against Israel, one that was fulfilled in 722 BC when Sargon II of Assyria attacked them. Again, the scene of judgment is referred to as a time of darkness:

Woe to you who desire the day of the LORD! Why would you have the day of the LORD? It is darkness, and not light…Is not the day of the LORD darkness, and not light, and gloom with no brightness in it? (Amos 5:18, 20 ESV)

Yahweh was angry at the people of Israel, stating:

I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them. (Amos 5:21-22 ESV)

As the Bible Background Commentary explains:

Amos’s attack is addresses at the empty, mechanically celebrated hagim, the technical term for the three major pilgrimage festivals (Feast of Unleavened Bread, Feast of Harvest and Feast of Ingathering). Religious festivals offered frequent opportunities for celebrations, communal meals and social gatherings. What had been designed as a means to praise and honor God, however, was not bringing any pleasure to him. (The IVP Bible Background Commentary – Old Testament, p. 770)

Hopefully this brings to mind some of the scathing rebukes Christ made against the Pharisees over their abuse of the law and artificial worship of Yahweh. Their very actions and lifestyles had made them a rejected covenant people, and judgment was coming on them too. And closing out this section from Amos, in chapter eight we again find celestial language which is symbolic in nature as before.

“And on that day,” declares the Lord GOD, “I will make the sun go down at noon and darken the earth in broad daylight. (Amos 8:9)

Many commentators agree that this is best understood metaphorically as related to the sudden calamity that would come upon the people, just as we have seen previously. It can also again be directed at the pagan sun god, who at their seeming strength of day, is suddenly snuffed out. Again, this event did not literally happen. We see a similar usage and discussion in Jeremiah 15:

I have made their widows more in number than the sand of the seas; I have brought against the mothers of young men a destroyer at noonday; I have made anguish and terror fall upon them suddenly. She who bore seven has grown feeble; she has fainted away; her sun went down while it was yet day; she has been shamed and disgraced. And the rest of them I will give to the sword before their enemies, declares the LORD.” (Jeremiah 15:8-9 ESV)

NAHUM

In Nahum, Nineveh is to be brought under judgment, which took place when the Medes and Babylonians destroyed them in 612 BC. And wouldn’t you just know it, we find the same type of language being used here:

The LORD is slow to anger and great in power, and the LORD will by no means clear the guilty. His way is in whirlwind and storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet. He rebukes the sea and makes it dry; he dries up all the rivers; Bashan and Carmel wither; the bloom of Lebanon withers. The mountains quake before him; the hills melt; the earth heaves before him, the world and all who dwell in it. (Nahum 1:3-5 ESV)

If taken literally, it would appear there were catastrophic earth shattering, world destructing things taking place. But again, this is simply language of judgment and national destruction, not worldly upheaval. And then verse 8:

But with an overflowing flood he will make a complete end of the adversaries, and will pursue his enemies into darkness. (Nahum 1:8)

Whirlwind and storms, clouds under his feet, dry seas and rivers, mountains quaking, flooding — all things we have seen before in the judgment setting. I would like to say a quick word about the mountains quaking. We have seen mountains mentioned at times and in various ways in these judgments, but here we are specifically seeing them quaking. In Micah 4 we are told:

It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and it shall be lifted up above the hills; and peoples shall flow to it, and many nations shall come, and say:

“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. (Micah 4:1-2 ESV)

So, Micah is seeing Mount Zion as being elevated above every other mountain in the world, so what is the significance of that?

In the ancient Near East, a temple mountain represented the deity worshiped there and symbolized the deity’s presence with his people, the deity’s abiding victory over chaos, a gateway in to the deity’s heavenly presence, and the deity’s rule over the territory it dominated.

Micah’s superlatives for Zion as “the highest mountain” and his comparison “above the hills” helps to validate that he aims to contrast Mount Zion — and so the Lord who is worshiped there — with pagan temple-mountains and their false deities. (Bruce Waltke, Micah – The Minor Prophets: An Exegetical and Expository Commentary, Vol. 2, p. 678)

So again, symbolic language aimed at another nations god. Turning to Psalm 18, we see similar language of mountains quaking as well as a possible connection of the mountains and the temple of the Lord idea. As David was in distress by the hand of Saul, he called unto the Lord:

In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears. Then the earth reeled and rocked; the foundations also of the mountains trembled and quaked, because he was angry. (Psalms 18:6-7 ESV)

Actually, many places in the book of Psalms we find mountains in relation to God, but that would be a whole other discussion, so I will stop at just this one comparison. So, to sum up this brief journey through the Old Testament prophets, we must come away remembering that:

Unlike prose narrative, it should not be assumed that prophetic speeches and their writings are to be taken at face value. Prophecy is commonly expressed in poetry, which is terse and rich in figures of speech and evocative symbols. The writing prophets are identified as prophets by their patently inspired poetry, not just by their amazing predictions in conformity with Israel’s covenants. (Bruce Waltke, An Old Testament Theology, Pg. 816)

The same thing can be said of the first century prophetic writings as well — they should not to be assumed as being understood simply at face value as many try to force them to.

NEW TESTAMENT

So, as we turn now to the New testament, let us do a brief recap of some of the things we have seen used commonly so far:

  • Cloud coverings representing calamities
  • Yahweh the judge riding on the clouds coming in judgment
  • Darkness in the day — celestial oddities
  • Sun, moon and stars ceasing to give light
  • Stars falling from the heavens
  • Rivers/seas dried up
  • Woman and labor pains symbolism
  • Heaven/Earth/Mountains shaken
  • The heavens rolled up like a scroll
  • Lots of blood

So when it comes to approaching the New Testament books, in order to grasp what is going on, the reader has to consider the people and culture of the writers and their audience. The average Hebrew then was one who would have typically been brought up through childhood studying and memorizing these same Hebrew Scriptures we’ve been going through.

From their earliest days, they were steeped in the language and understanding of the entire story of the people of God, so they understood the symbolic language being used. As readers then, we must remember that the Apostles were pretty much all Hebrews likewise brought up in a manner resembling this. So their speech and terminology would be layered with this type of symbolism too.

Sure, we know the religious leaders of that day had messed things up quite a bit with their traditions, and so they did not always totally comprehend some of those deep prophecies that we now understand better in hindsight.

It is true that while they may have been looking for a Messiah that was different than what was standing before them, we can be almost positive that that when it came to understanding the deep symbolism of the national judgment language we’ve been discussing, they were not ignorant enough to think it meant planet ending destruction.

That being the fact, it is no surprise to think that when they heard the words of our Lord in places like Matthew 24, that they would not have been foolish enough to ever think it would be understood the way many modern prophecy experts have sought to used it for the last few centuries.

Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. (Matthew 24:29-30 ESV)

So we have here celestial oddities of becoming dark in the day, stars falling from heaven, heaven being shaken, and Christ coming riding on a cloud. This lines up nicely with what we have been reading so far. And if you look over in the parallel passage in Luke 21, you’ll see more of the same similar language of old about the roaring of the water, men shaking in fear, and the powers of heaven being shaken. Another verse that speaks of this same first-century soon-coming judgment is Revelation 6:

When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. (Revelation 6:12-14 ESV)

Sun and moon darkened, stars falling, sky rolling up, mountains removed — all the language we have seen all along through the Old Testament judgments, none of which was literal earth shattering, world ending events. Therefore, unless the text itself gives clear testimony that this language is being used in a totally different fashion than it has be used for centuries by those same people, then we should assume the same prophetic and symbolic usage is being utilized here still.

As good Hebrews, taught from childhood all about this understanding of the language and idioms of their culture, they would not have heard these verses and thought of an end of the world scenario. Nor would they have thought this was going to have to be a physical event where they would see stars falling, a man riding on literal clouds, or the sky rolling up like a scroll.

Yet sadly, so many today believe that not only are these events to occur in a woodenly literal manner, but that these are still yet to come in our future. Actually, one of the sole reasons they hold that these things are yet to happen in our future, is directly related to the fact that they think them to be literally to happen.

They reason that it is obvious that these events have not occurred yet because we still see the world here and not destroyed as they feel these verses literally predict. They have totally disconnected this language from the common symbolic usage as well as totally dismissing the language of imminence for the time and people it was written to fall upon.

Add to that an ignorance of the actual historical events that indeed happened within the time frame predicted by Christ, as well as that judgment that took place against those people Christ addressed, and these verses have to then be thrown into some future age 2000 years past and counting. Until these things literally happen, some will never understand that they already have.

What is really sad, is that this is not some crazy interpretation that is held by a limited amount of people. It is not some interpretation that is on the outside fringe of Christian scholarship. It is not the minority view of church history, only held by a few whackos in the past.

This is mainstream scholarship. I have been quoting from scholars and teachers, and this has been the understanding of Old Testament language for centuries and centuries, and yet many if not most modern day teachers and preachers are clueless and continue to preach unfounded and inaccurate interpretations of fanciful mythological proportions on these topics.

The modern church is in dire needs of a revival of full Bible reading to start with, and then basic hermeneutics on top of that. May the Lord give revival to His Church. Amen.

My PPW 2017 Conference Lecture 2 The Problems for Postmillennial Partial Preterism in the Olivet Discourse Part 6 – the Eschatological Madness & “House Divided” of Gentry and DeMar in Matthew 24-25 and Revelation 20:5-15

Postmillennial Division Theories of Matthew 24-25 Refuted by Other Postmillennialists – The Eschatological Schizophrenia/ Madness or “House Divided” of Gentry and DeMar in Matthew 24-25 and Revelation 20:5-15

Heaven and Earth Will Pass Away (Mt. 24:35)

So far we have found contextual and grammatical reasons to interpret the “end of the age” as the OC age in vs. 3, the stars falling from the heavens in vs. 29 to be the religious and civil rulers falling from the places of power when Jerusalem and her Temple system was destroyed in AD 70.  But what of verse 35 which addresses the “heaven and earth” passing away? Surely that is referring to the end of planet earth and a “transition” to the physical and final Second Coming event described for us in Matthew 24:35—25:31-46 (per Postmillennialist Kenneth Gentry)?  Postmillennialist Keith Mathison used to think this was a transition verse with a different coming of Christ described following it into chapter 25, but he no longer finds any exegetical warrant to Gentry’s eisegesis.  Nor does Postmillennialist Gary DeMar.

Jesus is simply stating that although the Temple or “heaven and earth” of the OC system will pass away in His generation, His words (that is the words of the NC heaven and earth system -implied), will “never pass away.”

Scholars that aren’t even Preterists such as G.K. Beale are admitting that the Jew understood his land or Temple to be a “heaven and earth,”

“…that ‘heaven and earth’ in the Old Testament may sometimes be a way of referring to Jerusalem or its temple, for which ‘Jerusalem’ is a metonymy.” (G.K. Beale, The Temple and the Church’s Mission A biblical theology of the dwelling place of God, (Downers Grove, Illinois: Inter Varsity Press, 2004), 25). See also J.V. Fesko, Last things first Unlocking Genesis 1-3 with the Christ of Eschatology, (Scottland, UK, 2007), 70.

Reformed theologian John Brown in identifying the passing of “heaven and earth” in Matthew 5:18 writes:

“But a person at all familiar with the phraseology of the Old Testament Scriptures, knows that the dissolution of the Mosaic economy, and the establishment of the Christian, is often spoken of as the removing of the old earth and heavens, and the creation of a new earth and new heavens.” (John Brown, Discourses and Sayings of Our Lord (Edinburg: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1990 [1852]), 1:170).

And now specifically of the passing of heaven and earth here in our text, Evangelical Crispin H.T. Fletcher-Louis makes the following comments on Mark 13:31/Matthew 24:35:

“The temple was far more than the point at which heaven and earth met. Rather, it was thought to correspond to, represent, or, in some sense, to be ‘heaven and earth’ in its totality.” And “. . . [T]he principle reference of “heaven and earth” is the temple centered cosmology of second-temple Judaism which included the belief that the temple is heaven and earth in microcosm. Mark 13[:31] [or Matthew 24:35] and Matthew 5:18 refer then to the destruction of the temple as a passing away of an old cosmology. (Crispin H.T. Fletcher-Louis a contributing author in, ESCHATOLOGY in Bible & Theology Evangelical Essays at the Dawn of a New Millennium, (Downers Grove, Illinois: Inter Varsity Press, 1997), 157).

Postmillennial Partial Preterists such as Gary DeMar are being exegetical and contextually consistent when they admit that the passing of “heaven and earth” is the same subject and de-creation event as 24:29,

“The darkening of the sun and moon and the falling of the stars, coupled with the shaking of the heavens (24:29), are more descriptive ways of saying that “heaven and earth” will pass away” (24:35).” (Last Days Madness, 192).

Gary is spot on here and remember Matthew 24-25 contains recapitulation so the de-creation of 24:29 is not a different event than 24:35, it is just a slightly different way of describing the same event.

DeMar also accurately connects the passing of “heaven and earth” here with the passing of the heaven and earth in Revelation 21 — with both being the OC system passing in AD 70 and the New taking its place spiritually.  This is consistent with DeMar’s view (and that of most scholars) that “The book of Revelation is John’s version of the Olivet Discourse,” therefore both should be seen as the same event guided by the same time frame “this generation” and “things which must shortly take place.”

Unfortunately, DeMar and his assistant Joel McDurmon are more committed to the reformed creeds and their supporters than consistent, contextual exegesis when they then arbitrarily claim the de-creation and “fleeing” (passing) of the “earth” (earth) and “sky” (heaven) in Revelation 20:11 is now out of the blue a literal end of world history event not connected to Revelation 21-22 or the de-creation in the rest of the book of Revelation that they claim was fulfilled in AD 70.  I will develop that more in my section of this series in dealing with the Millennium of Revelation 20.

At this point let’s do a brief study on if the OT prophets promised glorified real-estate.

In typological form Israel’s promises were fulfilled during the reign of Solomon.  God’s promise to make Abraham a great nation and make his descendants as numerous as “the dust of the earth” and as the stars of the heavens was fulfilled in the OT (Gen. 12:2; 13:16 = 2 Chron. 1:9; 1 Chron. 27:23; 1 Kings 4:11).  Even Israel’s land promises “from the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates” were fulfilled (Gen. 12:7; 22:17 = 1 Kings 4:20; Josh. 11:23; 21:41-45; Neh. 9:21-25).

Once we reach the NT we learn that Israel’s promises have their ultimate fulfillment not in the literal land or literal real-estate, but rather in the New Covenant or being “in Christ.”  Christ Himself and those united to Him through faith are blessed with Abraham and fulfill the seed promise (Gal. 3:9, 16, 18, 28-29).  We also learn that Abraham’s faith in the promise was rooted in a spiritual fulfillment of a heavenly land and city that were “about to” be received at Christ’s “in a very little while” Second Coming to close the OC age (cf. Heb. 9:26-28—10:37—11:10-16—13:14YLT).  Even Paul’s statement that believers would inherit “the world” (Rms. 4:13) is understood in context to mean believers (Jew and Gentile) in all nations (Rms. 4:11-12, 16-17).

The heavenly land and city (New Jerusalem) that Abraham looked to for the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promise (along with the prophets promise of a New Creation – Isaiah 65-66) was in the process of coming down in John’s day and “shortly” did at Christ’s “soon” Second Coming in AD 70 (cf. Rev. 1:1, 3:12 NIV—chapters 21:1–22:20).  This is not a literal cubed city/tabernacle/MHP that will someday float down to earth, but rather the perfecting of the New Covenant people of God or New Covenant believers (the “Jerusalem from above” – Gals. 4).  The coming Tabernacle/Temple of Ezekiel 37, 40-48 is referring to the Body – the Church (Ezek. 37:27=2 Cor. 6:16).  Again, the New Creation is not physical real-estate, but rather New Covenant believers (Isa. 65:17 = 2 Cor. 5:17).

The Jew understood his Temple, Land and City to be a “heaven and earth” with the light of Torah radiating from it, while the Gentiles were in utter darkness outside.  Once a Gentile converted to the teaching of Torah and believed in Jehovah he entered the land and was declared a “new creation.”  This gives the historical context on how Revelation ends the way it does.  The Church is the spiritual New Jerusalem / Most Holy Place dwelling of God and a New Heaven and Earth with the light of the Gospel radiating from her bidding the nations to enter her with open gates.

Salvation in the New Heaven and Earth is Complete – No More Death, Tears or Pain.

Because “the death” that came through Adam is spiritual death (alienation from God) realized through the commandment-breaker Adam and amplified or increased under the Law of Moses (the old covenant), we can see how God gave His elect the victory over “the death” in the end of the old covenant age of condemnation. The fact that men die physically is in no way evidence that the “spiritual conflict” of “the death” continues for the church throughout the new covenant age.

God’s people under the old covenant, unlike God’s people today, experienced covenantal and spiritual death (cf. Hosea 13:1–14; Isa. 25–27; Eze. 37). What made physical death dreaded for the saints under the old covenant was that they died with the awareness that their sins had not yet been taken away. In the new covenant creation, Jesus promises that whether we biologically die in Him or biologically live in Him, we “never die” (John 11:25–26). This was not the case before Christ.

Thus under the old covenant, the residents of Jerusalem wept because they did not have a lasting atonement or eternal redemption. They longed and groaned for the day of Messiah’s salvation. Until that day would come, they knew their sins were not put away (Heb. 9:26–28; 10:4, 11). The promise that there would be no more mourning or crying or pain does not refer to any and every kind of mourning, crying, and pain. It refers to mourning, crying, and pain concerning God’s people being dead in sin under the condemnation, curse, and slavery of God’s law. That sad Adamic state is no more. In the Son, God’s people are “free indeed” (Jn. 8:36).

As Athanasius wrote in his Festal Letters, iv. 3, “For when death reigned, ‘sitting down by the rivers of Babylon, we wept,’ and mourned, because we felt the bitterness of captivity; but now that death and the kingdom of the devil is abolished, everything is entirely filled with joy and gladness.”

Under the old covenant, when David or the nation was exiled from Zion and God’s city and temple, there was much inner pain, weeping, and bondage that followed (2 Sam. 15:30; Ps. 137; Isa. 14:3; Isa. 22:4–5; Jer. 9:1; 13:17; Jer. 22:9–10; Lam. 1:16; Joel 2:17). Under the new covenant, the heavenly country and Jerusalem are not subject to being made desolate or shaken by invading armies as was the old (Isa. 62:4; Heb. 12:27–28). The concept of the gates of the New Jerusalem always being open, even at night (Isa. 60:11; Rev. 21:25), is not merely a picture of evangelism; it is also a picture of security for the residents of God’s City. The believer, through faith in Christ, is the new covenant creation and it is impossible for him to be exiled from the City (2 Cor. 5:17; Rev. 3:12; 22:12). The new covenant believer is characterized as one whose weeping has ended, because God has forever taken away his sin and united Himself with him (Isa. 60:20; 65:14, 18–19; Jn. 17:21–23).

Christians in the new covenant world do not shed tears in agony and cry out to God to save them from the Adamic Death of Sin, as Jesus Himself did on our behalf (Heb. 5:7). “The sting [pain] of the Death” cannot harm us anymore (1 Cor. 15:56) because the power of Sin has been removed through Jesus, the Law-Fulfiller who clothes us and indwells us. Now we live and reign with Christ in the new covenant world, wherein dwells the Righteousness of God.

I will point out once again the problem of Romans 16:20 for Postmillennialism in this context.  It is noteworthy that Keith Mathison avoids any mention of Paul’s declaration that Satan would be “crushed” “shortly” (Rom. 16:20) in his work on Postmillennialism and in his chapter addressing the time texts in WSTTB?.

Future eschatologies would challenge us with the empirical reality that Death and Satan could not have met their ultimate demise in AD 70 because, after all, just look around and you will clearly see that people still physically die and that there are wars and murders taking place all over the world today. Are these clear evidence that Satan and his demonic hordes are active in our world?

There were certainly times that Satan moved men, such as Judas, to commit sins. But the Bible does not teach us that this was ever the norm. James tells us that wars and fights come from within men (Jms. 4:1) instead of from Satan and demons. Satan’s primary purpose has come to an end: He can no longer function as the accuser of the brethren (Rev. 12:10), because Christ came out of Zion a second time at the end of the old covenant age to put away Sin once and for all for His church (Acts 20:28; Rom. 11:26–27; 13:11–12; Heb. 9:26–28).

Our salvation and Christ’s Second Appearing/Coming as the Churches great High Priest are not events that take place at the end of time, but rather within time – namely at the end of the OC age in AD 70.  The seed of the woman has overcome the Sin, the Death, the Law and crushed Satan for His heavenly people – the Church/New Creation.  You may not feel perfect or like a city of jewels and gold, but that is how God views you through His Son’s finished redemption –  accomplished and applied for you through His sacrificial work on the cross and His Second Appearing as our Great High Priest to finish atonement.  Now go and preach this wonderful message beloved (Rev. 22:17)!

“Those Days” v. “That Day”

Some Postmillennial Partial Preterists such as Kenneth Gentry argue that since Jesus uses the plural “days” in Matthew 24:1-34 this refers to the days leading up to the fall of Jerusalem and when Jesus uses the singular “day” in Matthew 24:36ff this refers to another future event or literal Second Coming of Jesus to end world history.  But closer to the truth are those Postmillennial Partial Preterists such as John Lightfoot, John Gill, Adam Clarke and Gary DeMar whom take the “day and hour” of (Matt. 24:36) as Christ coming in the fall of Jerusalem (as do Full Preterists).  Others that see the “Day and hour” along with the parables in Matthew 24 being fulfilled in AD 70 would be Keith Mathison.

In Luke 17 both “days” and “day” are used interchangeably together describing the same event:

1). “For the Son of Man in His DAY will be like the lightening,…” (vs. 24).

2). “…so also will it be in the DAYS of the Son of Man” (vs. 26).

3). “It will be just like this on the DAY the Son of Man is revealed” (vs. 30).

4). “On that DAY…” (vs. 31).

Again, Jesus uses “days” (plural) and “day” (singular) in referring to the judgments of Noah and the destruction of Sodom as an example of His Second Coming in the fall of Jerusalem.  This is not complicated, “days” (plural) are a description of the period leading up to the “day” (singular) of the judgment upon Jerusalem.

DeMar correctly observes that there is nothing to Gentry’s argument here,

“In Noah’s time we read about “those days which were before the flood” and “the day that Noah entered the ark” (Matt. 24:38).  Similarly, there were days before the coming of the Son of man and the day of the coming of the Son of Man.  The same people were involved in both the “days before” and “the day of” the Son of Man.  Those who were eating and drinking” and “marrying and giving in marriage” were the same people who were shut out on “the day that Noah entered the ark.”  (Ibid., 195).

Comparison of Luke 17 with Matthew 24 Continued

The parallels between Matthew 24 and Luke 17 also demonstrate that an alleged two section theory with two different comings of Christ separated by thousands of years is simply desperate assertion made by some Partial Preterists.

According to the two-section theory of interpreting the Olivet Discourse, the coming of false christs and the revealing of the Son of Man as “in the days of Noah” are two events that will take place at the end of world history (in section two of the Olivet Discourse: Matt. 24:37–39). But this causes a problem. Luke relates the events of the Olivet Discourse in a slightly different order than Matthew, and he puts those two supposedly end-of-world-history events in between the coming of the Son of Man “as the lightning” (Lk. 17:24) and the fleeing of people from their housetops and fields (Lk. 17:31). But those events are in the alleged “first section” of the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24:17–19, 24). Luke thus has two “second section” events (allegedly in the end of world history) sandwiched between two “first-section” events that were fulfilled in the first century.

Luke was not aware of the theory of a “telescoped” Olivet Discourse.  We see this problem present itself again when Jesus prophesies that one would be taken and one would be left. According to the two-section theory, that event will take place at the end of world history (in section two of the Olivet Discourse: Matt. 24:40–41). But Luke puts that event in between the fleeing of people from their housetops and fields (Lk. 17:31) and the vultures gathering at the corpse (Lk. 17:37). But those events are in the alleged “first section” of the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24:17–18, 28) and were fulfilled in the first century. Thus Luke again has a “second section” event (allegedly in the end of world history) sandwiched between two “first-section” events that were fulfilled in the first century.

According to the two-section theory, Luke 17:23–37 reads like this:

1).  Lk. 17:23–24 (false christs; Son of Man as lightning in His day) AD 70

2).  Lk. 17:26–30 (the days of Son of Man as the days of Noah) End of world history

3).  Lk. 17:31–33 (people fleeing from housetops and fields) AD 70

4).  Lk. 17:34–36 (one taken, one left) End of world history

5).  Lk. 17:37 (vultures gathered at the corpse) AD 70

Postmillennialist DeMar once again refutes Postmillennialist Gentry,

“If the five prophetic events of Matthew 24 that are found in Luke 17:22-37 are numbered 1-2-3-4-5, Luke’s numbering of the same events would be 2-4-1-5-3.” (DeMar, Ibid., 198).  DeMar is admitting this is not just similarity of language, but rather the “same events.”

The absurdity that results in exegetically “ping-ponging” through this text is most pronounced in the last four verses. In verses 34–36, Jesus supposedly tells His disciples that at the end of world history, some people will be “taken,” (some have mistakenly understood this to mean literally raptured into the clouds Lk. 17:34–36).  Then in verse 37, the disciples ask Him, “Where, Lord?” That is, “Where will those people be taken?” According to the two-section theory, Jesus answered His disciples’ question about the Rapture at the end of world history by telling them about the corpses of Jews becoming the food of vultures in AD 70. 

Two Comings?

As Partial Preterist Gary DeMar correctly points out,

“Similarly, there is little evidence that the “coming of the Son of Man” in Matthew 24:27, 30, 39, and 42 is different from the “coming of the Son of Man” in 25:31.” (Ibid.).

As I pointed out earlier in this series, in Mark and Luke’s account of the OD there is only one mention of the coming of the Son of Man upon the clouds.  If Jesus taught that there were two different comings separated by thousands of years, then Mark and Luke sure forgot to add this crucial information.  If Matthew wants to add more references to the coming of the Son of Man and add more parables than Mark and Luke do and recapitulate the same material he may.  But this doesn’t justify that Matthew has two different time periods or has Jesus discussing two different comings of the Son of Man separated by thousands of years!  Gentry’s form of Partial Preterism in the OD is exegetically weak and hermeneutically inconsistent to be kind.

Signs v. No Signs

Another “argument” for Kenneth Gentry in his attempts to try and divide the discourse and promote his three comings of Christ heresy, is that since there are specific signs that are mentioned before verse 34 and there are none mentioned after this verse, that this somehow proves there are two sections with two different comings of Christ involved. Hmm.

DeMar refutes Gentry’s “argument” here with simple common sense,

“There are two very good reasons for the absence of signs [in Mt. 24:36ff.].  First, the signs have already been given.  All the signs that were necessary to understand the general timing of Jesus’ return in judgment were specified.  Second, the topic changes from signs leading up to the temple’s destruction to watchfulness and expectation during the interim.”  (Ibid.).

I would add two things:

  1. A part of them being exhorted to be “watchful” involves them being aware of the signs He previously mentioned. Therefore, signs are still apart of the alleged “second section.”
  2. When Noah was building a giant boat and preaching of a coming judgment, was not the building of the ark some kind of a sign?!?

Jesus has just finished answering the disciples question regarding the signs of His return and is now going to illustrate through the use of various parables the necessity of being ready and watching for the same events the disciples asked about and that He had just answered in verses 4-34. This is not difficult folks.

“This Generation” v. “A Long Time”

Gentry argues that since before verse 34, there is a short time frame of forty years and yet after verse 34 the time frame is long (Mt. 24:48; 25:5, 19).  For Gentry this is evidence to support his two comings theory separated by thousands of years.

To be thorough, I will also cover Luke 19 since many appeal to this text as well. In Luke 19:11 many having listened to John the Baptist and Jesus’ declarations of the “kingdom being at hand” thought they were teaching the kingdom would come “immediately” or “at once” (Greek eggus). In response to that “immediate” mindset, Jesus gives the parable of the “Ten Minas” where He describes Himself as one going away into a far country to receive the rights to be King over Israel and then traveling back, as going into a “distant country” or taking a long journey (Lk. 19:12ff.). Jesus’ listeners would not gather from Jesus’ parable of the man going to a “distant country” as taking thousands of years! Jesus also understood that many false prophets would arise making premature statements that the kingdom was again “immediately” (Greek eutheos) going to appear when in fact it was not (Lk. 21:19). Jesus’ teaching of His coming and kingdom arriving in “this generation” (Lk. 21:27-32) was some 40 years removed from the false concept that He was teaching an “immediate” arrival or that general wars and earthquakes marked the nearness of His parousia and kingdom. There were certain signs and events that needed to transpire first such as the great commission throughout the Jewish and Roman world and the Roman armies surrounding Jerusalem.

Now let’s look at the first “long time” text in Matthew 24. The first appeal is to the wicked servant who interprets His master being gone as a “long time” and beats his fellow servants and drinks with other drunkards Matthew 24:48-49.  Obviously the servant was punished within his own lifetime so where is this delay of Christ for thousands of years taught here?!?

Another appeal is the “delay” of Christ’s return found in Jesus’ teaching of the ten virgins in Matthew 25:5 where He says, “the bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.” Jesus’ first century audience were aware of the Jewish wedding scene of a man being betrothed to a woman up to a year while he prepared a home or honeymoon suite for them onto his fathers house. He could come at any time to “snatch” (1Thess. 4:17) her from her life and existence under her father to himself. Because of this she needed to be excited and ready not sluggish and doubtful of his love. The foolish virgins considered this a “long time” and were not ready and fell asleep. Because they viewed this as taking too long and were “foolish,” they did not make preparations of buying oil for His surprise arrival. No one listening to Jesus’ words here would consider this parable as teaching a 2,000 + years “long time” as some Partial Preterists have interpreted it to mean. They would interpret “long time” in the context of a person’s lifetime along with the other parables and consistent with Jesus’ 30 – 40 years “this generation” teaching and time frame.

The last reference is to the parable of the talents in Mattthew 25:19. Again all the points I made above apply here as well. The servant was not “alert” but “lazy” and “worthless”! What he had was given to the faithful servants in verses 28-29 as the kingdom would be taken from the faithless apostates and given to the Church – the true Israel/Nation of God (cf. Mt. 21:33-45).

It’s not exactly accurate for some Partial Preterists to assume that 40 years is a “short time.” Relatively speaking in the world and Israel waiting thousands of years for salvation of the Messiah – this could be true. But if one is 20-30 years old or older during the time Jesus utters His “this generation” statement, 40 years is making one nearing the end of his life 60 – 70 or older. Therefore, viewing it from Israel’s redemptive history, fulfillment within 40 years could easily be considered “at hand,” but in the context of a person’s lifetime, 40 years was enough time to be tempted to think it may not occur (as we see Peter having to deal with in regards to the “mockers” and false teachers in His letters).

Gary DeMar responds to Gentry and other Partial Preterists who assume “long time” means thousands of years to justify two different comings in Matthew 24,

“In every other New Testament context, “a long time” means nothing more than an extended period of time (Luke 8:27; 23:8; John 5:6; Acts 8:11; 14:3, 28; 26:5, 29; 27:21; 28:6). Nowhere does it mean centuries or multiple generations.” (Ibid., 199).

Matthew 24-25 and the Analogy of Faith

Having spent some time critiquing and refuting the Postmillennial Partial Preterist division theories of Kenneth Gentry by using the exegesis of another Postmillennial Partial Preterist (Gary DeMar), I will turn some attention to Gary DeMar, Keith Mathison, and those Partial Preterists that see the coming of the Son of Man throughout Matthew 24-25 as being fulfilled in AD 70 – yet still claim the NT speaks of a future Second Coming.

Matthew 24:31-46 The End of the OC Age Event or a 2,000 + Years and Counting Process?

Gary DeMar and Keith Mathison have taken Postmillennial Partial Preterism to another level when they admit the coming of Christ in Matthew 25:31 was fulfilled in AD 70.  One of the reasons DeMar sees this coming of Christ to be fulfilled in AD 70 is because it and Matthew 16:27 are “almost identical.” (Madness, 200).  However where he makes an exegetical error is when he tries to harmonize this end of the OC age event and judgment to be a 2,000 + years and counting process,

“There is no indication that Matthew 25:31-46 describes a single event.  Rather, the passage describes a judgment over time…” (Ibid.)

He quotes Milton Terry who also describes Matthew 25:31-46 as a process involving thousands of years until all the enemies of 1 Corinthians 15:24 have been put under Christ’s feet (Ibid., 200-201).  Of course the irony here is that Milton Terry criticized John Lightfoot (and thus by extension DeMar and Mathison) for taking the coming of Christ and His “gathering” in 24:30-31 as a post AD 70 evangelistic process lasting thousands of years!  Terry at least on this passage was correct when he taught this was the same and ONE historical event which took place at Christ’s coming in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 to close the OC age in AD 70!  I think it is very clear (and The Reformation Study Bible also affirms this) that the coming and parousia of Christ in 1 Corinthians 15:23-25; 51-52 brings an in time (historical “single event”) and “end” and victory over all of the enemies.  I refer the reader to my interpretation of 1 Corinthians 15 and particularly WHEN the writer to Hebrews in Hebrews 10:13-37 says these enemies would be judged.

The Reformation Study Bible in the cross references is correct to connect the fulfillment of Psalm 110:1; 1 Corinthians 15:25-28 with Hebrews 10:13. The problem for all the futurists is that the author goes on in verses 27-37 to tell us when these “enemies” would be judged.  There was an “about to be” coming (Gk. mello) “judgment” of “raging fire” that was going to “consume” these “enemies” (v. 27) mentioned in (v. 13).  This would take place at Christ’s Second Coming to bring an end to the OC age and is said to take place “in a very little while” and would “not tarry” (Heb. 9:26-28; 10:37).  “The end” or “end of the age” Second Coming of Jesus in both Hebrews 9-10 and 1 Corinthians 15 when all the enemies would be judged and placed under Christ’s feet in fulfillment of Psalm 110 are one and the same event.

Unfortunately, Terry nor DeMar addresses these issues.  DeMar compromises on two passages 24:30-31 and 25:31-46 and Terry realizing he would have to at some point fall in line with the creeds compromised on 25:31-46.  Terry says DeMar’s view of 24:30-31 (as a process lasting thousands of years) won’t go anywhere and catch on, and yet somehow he must have been kicking himself in taking 25:31-46 as some kind of process spanning thousands of years – was somehow going to catch on and go somewhere where the other view wouldn’t?  Oh consistency thou rare jewel.  When we realize the recapitulation nature and structure of Matthew 24-25, this debunks Terry and DeMar’s theories on 24:30-31 and 25:31-46.  This is one historical event and it is the Second Coming of Jesus to close the OC and judge and raise the dead in AD 70.  Period.

Since Gary DeMar affirms that “John’s version of Matthew 24-25 is found in the book of Revelation” and he likes “parallels” “similar” or “identical” language, when he compares Matthew 24 with the rest of the NT in order to find AD 70 fulfillments and place them under Jesus’ “this generation” time frame of fulfillment; one must wonder how this hermeneutic mysteriously disappears when paralleling Matthew 24-25 with the end of the millennium of Revelation 20:5-15?!?  This is due to creedal allegiance and bias.  DeMar just can’t play the ignorance card after over 30 years:

Matthew 24-25 and Revelation 20:5-15

  • Resurrection and judgment Matt. 24:30-31 (cf. Matt. 13:39-43/Dan. 12:2-3; Matt. 25:31-46) = Revelation 20:5-15
  • De-creation heaven and earth pass/flee Matthew 24:29, 35 = Revelation 20:11 (cf. Rev. 6:14; 16:20; 21:1)
  • Christ on throne to judge / God on throne to judge Matthew 25:31 = Rev. 20:11
  • Wicked along with Devil eternally punished Matthew 25:41-46 = Revelation 20:10, 14-15

The Second Coming and judgment and resurrection of the dead along with the judgment of Satan and the demons as described for us in Matthew 25:31-46 and Revelation 20:5-15 is NOT a post AD 70 process spanning thousands of years.  This is not an exegetical nor creedal view to take on these passages and I believe DeMar and Mathison should know better!

Gentry tries to downplay the importance of DeMar and Mathison no longer agreeing with him on his artificial division theory of Matthew 24-25 and how their differences affect the other most important eschatological text – Revelation 20:5-15 and many others!  Why?  Because their differences actually form Full Preterism:

Premise #1:  If it is true and it is orthodox to believe the coming of Christ in Matthew 25:31-46 is Christ’s final Second Coming event and is attended with the final end of the millennium resurrection and judgment event of Revelation 20:5-15 (Gentry agrees with Full Preterism).

Premise #2:  If it is true and it is orthodox to believe the coming of Christ in Matthew 25:31 was spiritually fulfilled in AD 70 (DeMar agrees with Full Preterism).

Conclusion:  THEN it is also true and is orthodox to believe the final Second Coming event of Matthew 25:31-46 which ends the millennium and fulfills the resurrection and judgment of the dead in Revelation 20:5-15 was fulfilled spiritually in AD 70 (Full Preterism – “Reformed and always reforming” – Scripture interprets Scripture and Scripture does not contradict Scripture).    

The Millennium of Revelation 20 

Here are seven brief points that destroys the Postmillennial view that the end of the millennium of Revelation 20:5-15 is a future event.

1).  Imminence

Kenneth Gentry informs us that the book of Revelation is about things which were past, present, and “about to be” fulfilled in John’s day (Rev. 1:19, YLT). Therefore, there is no exegetical evidence that Revelation 20 does not fall within these inspired parameters.  The millennium was still future when John wrote, therefore the end of the millennium falls within those things that were “about to be” fulfilled.  As Vern Poythress and Simon Kistemaker (also contributors to The Reformation Study Bible) have pointed out in their works, if the imminent time texts in Revelation 1:1 and 22:20 are to be taken literally and refer to AD 70, and since they function as brackets or bookends, then the millennium of Revelation 20 would have also been fulfilled by AD 70 as well.

Therefore, both of these views teach the end of the millennium resurrection and judgment of the dead were fulfilled “shortly” in AD 70.  Why would I be considered a “heretic” for agreeing with both?

2).  The Thousand Years

As G.K. Beale (the NT editor to The Reformation Study Bible) has taught in his commentary on Revelation, that the symbol of the thousand years does not have to be taken as describing a long period of time (i.e., thousands or millions of years).

Therefore, the thousand years millennium can be a symbolic depiction of relatively short period of time – forty years.

3)  Rabbinic Typology of a Forty Years Millennial Period  – Historical Argument

It has also been acknowledged by Reformed theologians such as Beale, that many Rabbis believed that the period of Messiah was to be a transitionary stage between “this age/world and the age/ world to come.” These Rabbis (such as R. Adiba), understood this transition period to be forty years, based upon how long the Israelites were in the wilderness before inheriting the land. This type/anti-type understanding is developed for us in the book of Hebrews (cf. Heb. 3-4; 10:25, 37; 11—13:14, YLT). And as we have noted from Reformed partial preterists such as Joel McDurmon and Gary DeMar, it is within the realm of Reformed orthodoxy to believe that Jesus’ and Paul’s “this age/world” was the old covenant age, and that “the last days” were the days of transition between the old covenant age and the new covenant age (AD 30 – 70).

4).  Recapitulation

Reformed Postmillennial Partial Preterists such as Keith Mathison, Kenneth Gentry, and James Jordan teach that the content of Revelation 1-19 and 21-22 was fulfilled by AD 70, at which time there was a judgment and resurrection of the dead and arrival of the new creation. And Amillennialists such as Simon Kistemaker teach that Revelation 20:5–15 recapitulates the same judgment and consummation scenes that are depicted in chapters 1–19 and 21–22.

Therefore, sicne Full Preterists hold to both of these reformed and “orthodox” positions in interpreting the book of Revelation the end of of the millennium resurrection and judgment event was fulfilled in AD 70.  Why would I be considered a “heretic” for agreeing with both common sense views?

5). Revelation 20 an Isolated Event? The “Already and not Yet,” “This Age and the Age to Come” and the “Last Days” Millennial Period 

In criticizing the premillennial view, which often seeks to isolate Revelation 20 from the rest of the New Testament, Amillennialists and many Postmillennialists hold that Revelation 20 falls within the “already and not yet” of the “last days” period in the New Testament, and that this transition period is depicted in the parable of the wheat and tares, or in Matthew 24–25. But as I have shown in this series, it is “orthodox” to believe the “last days” ended with the OC age in AD 70, and that the harvest/gathering and coming of Christ in Matthew 13 and 24–25 was fulfilled by AD 70.

Therefore, since the period between “this age and the age to come” is the millennial period and it was the transition period between the OC age and the NC age (AD 30 – AD 70), and the “Last Days” is also the transition and millennial period of Revelation 20 but was also from AD 30 – AD 70, the end of the millennial resurrection and judgment of the dead was fulfilled when the OC age passed away and the last days ended in AD 70.  Why would I be considered a “heretic” for agreeing with both common sense views?

6).  The Second Coming in Matthew 24-25 Ends the Millennium of Revelation 20

The “long time” and close of the age in Matthew 24-25 is supposed to be the millennial period of Revelation 20 that ends at Jesus’ Second Coming described in 25:31ff.  Yet at the same time Postmillennialists affirm the “long time” and “end of the age” of Matthew 24-25 falls within the “this generation” time frame and the coming of the Son of Man in 25:31 is His spiritual coming to close the OC age in AD 70.

Therefore, according to Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 24-25 the millennial period of Revelation 20 ended at Christ’s spiritual Second Coming in AD 70.  Why would I be considered a “heretic” for agreeing with both common sense views?!?

7)  The Second Coming of Revelation Ends the Millennium of Revelation 20

The reformed community and The Reformation Study Bible (with it’s contributors) are confused on the coming of Christ in the book of Revelation as well.  One side teaches everywhere the coming of Christ is mentioned in the book, it is THE Second Coming event (as stated in the WCF) which ends the millennium and thousand years period in Revelation 20.  Yet the Postmillennial Partial Preterist side claims all references to Christ’s coming in Revelation were fulfilled “soon,” “at hand” and “quickly” in AD 70.

Therefore, the ONE Second Coming event was spiritual and ended the millennial resurrection and judgment of the dead event “soon,” “at hand” and “quickly” in AD 70.  Why would I be considered a “heretic” for agreeing with both common sense exegetically sound views?!?

Therefore, the reader should be able to discern that the Full Preterist AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” millennial view is:

1).  Consistent with the teaching of Revelation itself…

2).  Falls within the “orthodox” views of the Reformed church…

3).  Is in line with the analogy of Scripture and…

4).  Offers historical support from many Rabbis whom promoted a forty years transitional period between the two ages.

Our view on the millennium is both exegetically sound and orthodox. Finding support for the Full Preterist view of the millennium is not as difficult as many  portray it – selah.

Again, Gary DeMar publishes James Jordan whom claims Daniel himself was raised out of Abraham’s Bosom or Hades in AD 70 according to Daniel 12:2, 13 and Revelation 20.  Postmillennialists such as Jordan and DeMar are also on record for teaching things such as,

“The Apostle John in the book of Revelation picks up where Daniel leaves off.”  So here is something that DeMar needs to address as well:

Daniel 12:1-2 and Revelation 20:5-15

  • Only those whose names are written in the book would be delivered/saved from eternal condemnation / lake of fire Daniel 12:1-4 = Revelation 20:12-15
  • This is the time for the resurrection and judgment of the dead Daniel 12:1-2 = Revelation 20:5-15

The analogy of faith and these parallels demonstrate DeMar’s view that we are still in the millennium and that the end of the millennium judgment and resurrection of the dead is still unfulfilled (while believing that the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 was fulfilled in AD 70) is creedally arbitrary and exegetically dishonest!  Daniel is told to seal up the content of this prophecy because the time of fulfillment was “far off” and John the opposite – don’t seal up the content of this prophecy because the time of fulfillment was “at hand.”  There is no exegetical evidence whatsoever that Revelation 20 is future while chapters 1-19 and 21-22 were fulfilled by AD 70 – per Partial Preterism and Gary DeMar.

Mathison writes: “ . . . [T]he hyper-preterist interpretations of the millennium fail to take seriously the long-term time text involved. . . . When the word thousand is used in Scripture, it refers either to a literal thousand or to an indefinite, but very large, number” (WSTTB? 209).

Response: 

Psalm 50:10 is often cited, usually by postmillennialists, to teach that “a thousand” symbolizes literally “many thousands or millions.” For every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. (Ps. 50:10)

Postmillennialists reason that God owns the cattle on every hill; therefore “a thousand hills” symbolizes or represents “many thousands or millions of hills.” Thus, they reason, we are led by Scripture to interpret the “thousand years” in Revelation 20 to mean “many thousands or millions of years.”

That reasoning sounds solid at first glance. However, the context of Psalm 50:10 does not lead us to a principle that a symbolic “thousand” always signifies “many thousands.” It leads us to the principle that a symbolic “thousand” signifies “fullness.” The “thousand” of Psalm 50:10 is interpreted for us two verses later:

The world is Mine, and the fullness thereof. (Ps. 50:12b)

In Psalm 90:4, a “thousand years” is as “yesterday” and as “a watch in the night.” In 2 Peter 3:8, a “thousand years” is as one “day.” In those verses, a “thousand” (and “yesterday” and “a watch” and a “day”) is used to teach us that to God, a small piece of time is no different than a fullness of time. (Compare Job 7:7; Ps. 39:5; 90:2; 144:4; Heb. 13:8; Jms. 4:14.) Thus in Psalm 105:8, a “thousand” corresponds with “forever”: He has remembered His covenant forever, the word that he commanded to a thousand generations. (Ps. 105:8)

In scriptural usage, a symbolic “thousand” can be likened to “one” (day / yesterday / a watch in the night), or used in reference to millions of hills, or to eternity (“forever”). A “thousand” can be likened unto or used to represent a number lesser or greater than a literal thousand. Only its context can determine its literal numerical meaning, but the basic idea that is communicated by the number is “fullness.” As G. K. Beale wrote, “The primary point of the thousand years is probably not a figurative reference to a long time . . .” (G. K. Beale, The New International Greek Testament Commentary: The Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1999), 1018).

How one interprets the thousand years in Revelation 20 depends on one’s eschatological framework. The passage does not interpret itself, but must be interpreted by the overall eschatology of Scripture. Within the preterist interpretive framework, the biblical-eschatological context of Revelation 20 should lead us to interpret the “thousand years” to signify the time of the Christological filling up of all things (Eph. 1:10; 4:10). That time was from the Cross of Christ to the Parousia of Christ in AD 70. That was the time during which “the [spiritual] death” which came through Adam and was magnified through “the law” was in process of being destroyed. The literal timeframe of the “thousand years” was roughly forty years.

Mathison admits that he does not know if there were any rabbis who used the number 1,000 to symbolize forty years (210). Reformed theologian G. K. Beale tells us that some Jews considered the length of the intermediate messianic reign to be forty years. He also states that one Jewish tradition made an anti-type connection between Adam’s lifespan (almost 1,000 years) and a reign of Messiah for a (possibly symbolic) thousand years.[2] Many Christians have attempted to make this connection and have also paralleled the thousand years of 2 Peter 3:8 with John’s thousand years in Revelation 20:2–6.

Adam falling short of the 1,000-year lifespan by 70 years (Gen. 5:5) may represent his being created a mortal being and perishing in sin outside of God’s presence. If this is the case, then it is more than reasonable that the number 1,000 took on the symbolism and representation of Christ’s and the church’s victory over Death in contrast to Adamic man’s vain existence apart from God’s salvation (Eccl. 6:6).

Some Evangelicals and Reformed theologians along with some preterists such as Milton Terry do not understand the long lifespans in the early chapters of Genesis to be literal.[3] They believe that the lifespans were symbolic and contained numerological elements. But even if Adam’s lifespan was a literal 930 years, this does not exclude an anti-typical, symbolic 1,000 years in Revelation 20.

When Messiah came as “the last Adam,” His reign in and through the church for a symbolic thousand years brought the church not to the dust of the earth separated from God’s presence, but to the Tree of Life and into the very presence of God (Rev. 20–22:12). Through faith in and union with Christ as the Last Adam (the Tree of Life and New Creation), Christians have achieved what Adam could not. The church was clothed with “immortality”; it attained unto the “fullness” of life in AD 70; and it will never die for the aeons of the aeons (2 Cor. 1:20; 1 Cor. 15:45–53; Rev. 21–22; Jn. 11:26–27).

All of the authors of WSTTB? understand that the Second Coming is the event that brings the millennium to its consummation. However, the only future coming of Jesus discussed in the book of Revelation is the one that would take place shortly (Rev. 3:11; 22:6–7, 10–12, 20). Both Mathison and Gentry concede that this imminent coming of Christ took place in AD 70. But then they err in assuming that the imminent coming of Jesus in Revelation was not His “actual second coming” (WSTTB?, 182). 

Revelation 20:1-15

We concur with our opponents that John was already in the millennium – “what is now” (Rev. 1:19).  Thus the “binding” of Satan here began with the earthly ministry of Jesus.  Therefore, Christians were already being raised and reigning on thrones, the saints were already a kingdom of priests (Matt. 12:25-29; Eph. 2:5-7; John 5:24; 1 Pet. 2:5).  J. Marcellus Kik makes a good case that Revelation 20:4 is describing the lives of the saints while upon the earth (preferring the ARV translation of the text),

In the King James version the verbs sat, was given, lived, reigned, are in one tense; while the verbs had worshipped, had received, are in another.  But in the Greek the same tense is used for all—the aorist.  Since they are all in the same tense they must refer to the same time.  That is, the time of not worshipping the beast and not receiving his mark is the same time as that of sitting on thrones and living and reigning with Christ. (J. Marcellus Kik, An Eschatology of VICTORY, (Phillipsburg, NJ:  Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing CO., 1971), 228).

He translates “psuchai” in verse 4 as, “And I beheld the lives of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus” indicating that they were already reigning and living victorious lives upon the earth through the work of Christ on the cross and the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit before they were martyred (see Kik, Ibid., 227).

While John is living during the time of the millennium, the inspired time frame for Revelation’s fulfillment demands that he is now standing towards the end or consummation of it–the things which John was told would “shortly” take place “later” (Rev. 1:1, 19).  John was told that no part of the vision was to be sealed up, because it was all to be fulfilled shortly and nowhere are we told that the millennium is not a part of that vision. If the millennium was not a part of the vision to be fulfilled shortly, we would expect John to be given instruction to seal at least that portion of the vision since it’s time of fulfillment would be “far off” – as Daniel was instructed.  It is the Partial Preterist eisegesis of Mathison and Gentry which separates the imminent fulfillment of the millennium from the rest of the “at hand” prophecy.  Although not a Full Preterist, Vern Pothress points out the inconsistency of the Partial Preterist view of Mathison and Gentry as we do,

“But 1:3 and 22:10 are like bookends enclosing the whole prophecy of Revelation.  The fulfillment of everything, not just a part, is near.” (Vern S. Poythress, THE RETURNING KING A GUIDE TO THE BOOK OF REVELATION, (Phillipsburg, NJ:  P&R Publishing, 2000), 34.  Bold emphasis MJS).

The Fulfillment of the Great Commission 

Many reformed writers claim the purpose of the binding of Satan is that he can no longer deceive the nations – so that the commandment of the Great Commission could be fulfilled by the end of the age (Mark 13:10; Matt. 28:18-20).  But the NT teaches us that the Great Commission to all the nations was fulfilled by the end of the Old Covenant age.  God’s new Israel – the Church would accomplish the salvation of the remnant within a “short” period and “all nations” of “the world” would hear the gospel and bring forth fruit (Rom. 1:8; 9:28; 10:18; 16:25-26; Col. 1:5-6, 23).  Per Simon Kistemaker’s reasoning, if the Great Commission to the nations has been fulfilled, then the Church is no longer in the millennium and it too was fulfilled by AD 70 (WSTTB?, 250).

Therefore, since the GC was fulfilled prior to AD 70, the end of the millennium resurrection and judgment of the dead occurred at that time.

G.K. Beale believes that Satan was bound for the primary purpose of not being able to gather the nations against the City or Church for “the war” (Rev. 20:7-9) and that this “THE war” is a recapitulation of the same end time war described in Revelation 16 and 19.  Yet Postmillennial Partial Preterists inform us that “THE war” in chapters 16 and 19 were fulfilled between AD 66 – AD 70.

Therefore, “THE war” of Revelation 16, 19 and 20 was fulfilled between AD 66-70.  More on this below.

The First Resurrection and the Resurrection of the “Rest of the Dead”       

Those participating in the “first resurrection” is a subject that has been previously addressed in chapters 7 and 14 – these being the first century Jewish “first fruits” or 144,000 that were the first to believe in Christ and continued enduring through the great tribulation until the end.  Therefore, they would partake in the harvest/resurrection at the end of the Old Covenant age.  These are those who were coming out of their “graves” through the preaching of the gospel (John 5:24-27) and would soon participate and be joined with the rest of the dead in the consummative resurrection event.

In verse 5 “the rest of the dead” participate in the resurrection “after” the thousand years are over.  This refers to the end time “harvest” at “the end of the [Old Covenant] age” encompassing the “all” of (John 5:28-29).  This included not only all of the righteous dead pre-AD 70 but also that of unbelievers (Daniel 12:2/Matt. 13:39-43, 49).  Therefore, we have the raising of all the dead, the emptying of Hades, the great judgment (along with Satan’s imminent judgment Rom. 16:20) taking place shortly after the millennium (20:10-14).

The analogy of faith and that of Scripture confirms this imminent end of the millennium period by describing the same imminent resurrection of all the dead and the judgment of the world,

“…there is about to be a rising again of the dead, both of righteous and unrighteous; (Acts 24:15 YLT WEY).

“For I reckon that the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory about to be revealed in us;” (Rom. 8:18 YLT, WEY).  Again, contextually the glory “about to be” revealed in them was when the “redemption of the body” in v. 23 and becoming sons of God in the New Creation takes place.

Martyr Vindication, Satan’s Imminent Judgment and THE War

“After” the success of the Great Commission and at the end of the thousand year’s period, Satan is released for a “short” or “little while” (Rev. 20:3).  In chapter 6 we are told that the martyrs are to wait a “short” or “little while” until the rest of their fellow brethren have been martyred (Rev. 6:10-11).  This would be followed with God avenging and judging those who participated in their persecutions – “For the great day of their wrath has come and who can stand?” (Rev. 6:17).  In Revelation 12:5-12 we see the same motifs and recapitulation to what we have seen in Revelation 6 and 20 — previous suffering followed by a “short” or “little while” of more to come, and then an imminent judgment upon their enemies.  The “great city” or “Babylon” where Jesus was slain and whom God holds responsible for shedding the blood of the prophets and the saints is none other than OC Jerusalem (Rev. 11:8, 18:20, 24).

The analogy of Scripture confirms this.  This “little while” time frame of Satan’s last persecution (through the Jews and Romans) and thus the martyrs having to wait “a little while” longer before justice is wielded out upon their persecutors is consistent with Jesus’ teaching that all of the blood of the martyrs of the prophets and those Jesus would send to Jerusalem would be avenged in a first century “this generation” with her “house/temple” being left “desolate” (Matt. 23:31-38).

Pauline eschatology weighs in as well describing the same first century Jewish persecution and the Thessalonians being promised “relief” from God through Him giving their enemies the same kind of “trouble” they were giving them through Christ coming down from heaven in “blazing fire” “punishing” them with “everlasting destruction” along with the Man of Lawlessness (1 Thess. 2:14-16; 2 Thess. 1:5—2:12).  Mathison believes this coming of the Lord and “everlasting destruction” and “punishment” of “fire” in (2 Thess. 1-2) was fulfilled in AD 70 paralleling much of this material with Matthew 24 for exegetical evidence. (Mathison, Postmillennialism, 227-233).  And yet all of the same elements that are present in Revelation 6, 12, 16 and 20 are present in 1 and 2 Thessalonians!

The first century persecuted church wouldn’t have to wait much longer because the Man of Lawlessness (Mathison identifying as Nero) was “already” present through the work of Satan himself – awaiting “the rebellion” and then his judgment (2 Thess. 2:3-10).  Once again Mathison is creedally selective in making AD 70 fulfillment “parallels” between 1 Thessalonians 2 and 5 and 2 Thessalonians 1-2 with that of Matthew 24 and neglecting those parallels concerning the resurrection of the dead found in 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17 and Matthew 24:30-31.

The paralleling of 1 and 2 Thessalonians with Matthew 24 and the book of Revelation, gives us the same time frame for the end of the millennium in Revelation 20:

  • The Thessalonians were already in the millennium.
  • They were being persecuted.
  • They were promised relief in their lifetimes.
  • The Lord came to close the millennium by destroying The Beast/Man of Sin whom was already present and active in their day — with everlasting destruction and punishment.
  • He came to raise the dead.

There are four main enemies of God and His saints in the book of Revelation and they are introduced in chapter 12 and onward in the order of Satan, the sea beast, the land beast and or false prophet and Babylon.  As Revelation progresses their defeat in judgment is pictured in reverse order.  These are different scenes of the same end time persecution and judgment of God’s enemies.

Kistemaker understands the timing of the judgment scene and the casting of Satan into the lake of fire in 20:10 as the “presumed place” where the great harlot is burned with fire in 17:16.  And he most definitely affirms that this takes place “at the same time” the beast and false prophet are cast into this fiery lake 19:20. (Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W.  Vol. 20: New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Book of Revelation. New Testament Commentary, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1953-2001), 544).

Kistemaker affirms that there is only one final war or end time judgment in Revelation and it is consistently referred to in John’s use of the Greek phrase “to gather them for the war” in (Rev. 16:14; 19:19; 20:8) (Ibid., 244-245).  Strimple in a debate with Gentry over the millennium makes the same point,

“In 16:14 kings are called forth to the battle.  In 19:19 the beast and the kings of the earth come forth to the battle.  In 20:8 Satan leads his host up to the battle.  It seems clear that these three texts describe not three battles but one.” (Craig A. Blaising, Kenneth L. Gentry Jr., Rober B. Strimple, THREE VIEWS ON THE MILLENNIUM AND BEYOND, (Grand Rapids, MI:  Zondervan, 1999), 125, bold emphasis MJS).

And yet Partial Preterists such as Mathison and Gentry understand “the war” of (Rev. 16:14), the burning of the Harlot in (Rev. 17:6) and the judgment of the false prophet and beast being thrown into lake of fire in (Rev. 19:20) as being fulfilled by AD 70.[32]  Once again we can readily see how Full Preterism is the organic development of our opponent’s views and effectively “bridges the gap” between them.

I once again have to point out the problem Romans 16:20 is for Postmillennial Partial Preterism. Most reformed commentators correctly understand that the timing of Satan being thrown into the lake of fire here in Revelation 20:10 to be equivalent to him being “crushed” “shortly” in (Romans 16:20/Genesis 3:15).  Partial Preterists such as Gentry inform us that this time statement along with all of the other NT imminent time statements refers to AD 70. (Gentry, THREE VIEWS ON THE MILLENNIUM, 246).  And yet the majority of reformed commentators understand these passages to be addressing the “not yet” consummation of biblical eschatology (ie. the final defeat of Satan at the end of the millennium – followed with the Adamic curse of death being destroyed for the Church in the New Creation).  And since DeMar and Mathison the coming of Christ in BOTH Matthew 24-25 as AD 70, and Gentry sees the coming of Christ in Matthew 25:31-46 to be the Second Coming that ends the millennium of Revelaiton 20, this necessitates that the judgment of the dead, with that of Satan and his angels into “everlasting punishment” would take place in Jesus’ “this generation” (Matt. 24:34—25:31-46).

Therefore, the spiritual “this generation” Second Coming of Christ in Matthew 25:31-46 ended the millennium and fulfilled the resurrection and judgment of the dead event in Revelation 20:5-15!

If Mathison and Gentry along with their other futurist colleagues in WSTTB? become Full Preterists, then they can truly be said to be in “shoulder to shoulder unity” concerning last things – and not the blatant contradictions we find in their writings which don’t refute Full Preterism, but actually form it!

Earth and Sky Fled 

In verse 11 we read, “Earth and sky fled from his presence,..”  For Full Preterists and men such as Kistemaker and Beale, this same de-creation event has already been recapitulated in connection with the Second Coming of Jesus in (Rev. 6:14 and Rev. 16:20) and will re-surface shortly in the next chapter (Rev. 21:1). (Ibid., 546).   

But for Mathison, Gentry, DeMar and McDurmon, the de-creation events depicted in (Rev. 6:14; Rev. 16:20 and Rev. 21:21) were “non-literally” fulfilled or are the removal of “Israel’s world” or the Old Covenant world in AD 70 being “parallel” to the AD 70 fulfillments found in Matthew 24:15-31. (Mathison, Postmillennialism, 148-149, 153.  Kenneth L. Gentry Jr. HE SHALL HAVE DOMINION, 141-142).  The question begging to be answered of course is, why can’t the Postmillennial interpretation of an imminent de-creation non-literal fulfillment of Revelation 21:1 be applied to Revelation 20:11?

Joel McDurmon TRIED to answer this question and I responded to his deceptive answer.

Joel McDurmon’s Eisegetical Distinctions Between Revelation 20:11 – “Fled Away” (Greek pheugo) and Revelation 21:1 – “Passed Away” (Greek parechomai)

McDurmon writes,

Revelation 20:11 says earth and heaven “fled away” (ESV) from the face of the enthroned One. The verb here is ephugen (from pheugo). It means “run away” in the Monty Python sense: “retreat” or “flee” in the sense of seeking safety from an imminent threat. We get our word “fugitive” from pheugo.

“Pheugo is a common word used some 279 times throughout the New Testament and Old Testament LXX, but almost always has the distinct meaning of running away out of fear or self-protection. For example, Genesis 39:1213 and 15 (LXX) use the word to describe Joseph fleeing from Potiphar’s wife who had him by the garment. The Exodus is described with this word (Ex. 14:5). So is David fleeing Saul who wants to murder him (1 Sam. 19:18), Ahaziah fleeing Jehu (2 Ki. 9:27), God’s enemies in general (Ps. 68:1Prov. 28:1), Jonah fleeing God’s presence (Jon. 1:3), Baby Jesus’ family fleeing Herod (Matt. 2:13), persecuted disciples leaving town (Matt. 10:2324:16), fearful disciples scattering after Jesus’ crucifixion (Matt. 26:56). The list is long, and the word is consistent in this meaning. Revelation 21:1, on the other hand, says “the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.” The verb here is apelthan (an aorist of aperchomai).” (my full response:  https://treeoflifeministries.info/content/mike-sullivan-64/) 

As one can clearly see McDurmon didn’t go through the proper hermeneutical/exegetical steps of pointing out how pheugo was used earlier and within the book of Revelation itself when it comes to a de-creation text/event:

“And every island fled (Greek pheugo) away, and the mountains were not found.” (Rev. 16:20).

Obviously, Joel McDurmon “fled” from this text as in, “Run away in the Monty Python sense: “retreat” or “flee” in the sense of seeking safety from an imminent threat [Full Preterism]” because he and other Partial Preterists take this de-creation text as the fleeing/passing of the OC creation – not the literal creation.  So much for his “argument” that two different events are referred to because two different Greek words are used! 

American Vision new-comer Sam Frost has been claiming that his and McDurmon’s view of fulfillment is that of such scholars as G.K. Beale and yet Beale identifies the de-creation and judgment of Revelation 6:14, 16:20, 20:11 and 21:1 as the same eschatological end time or “not yet” event/judgment,

“Almost identical language has already been used of the last judgment in 6:14 and 16:20 (see there, esp. for OT background). That this signifies the end-time cosmic destruction is apparent further from 21:1, which affirms that “a new heaven and a new earth” replaced the vanishing “first heaven and first earth,” which had fled away. “A place was not found for them” is from Dan. 2:35 Theod., where it is used of the destruction of the wicked kingdoms at the end time.” (G.K. Beale, (1999). The book of Revelation: A commentary on the Greek text. New International Greek Testament Commentary (1032). Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle, Cumbria: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press).

And again,

“The absolute nature of the judgment is continued by a picture of the further breakup of the cosmos: “every island fled, and the mountains were not found” (see on 6:14). Virtually identical descriptions in 6:14 and 20:11 also indicate the conclusive, universal destruction of the earth at the judgment day. That parts of the world “were not found” (οὐχ εὑρέθησαν) anticipates the same portrayal of Babylon’s final, definitive destruction repeated three times in ch. 18 (οὐ μὴ εὑρεθῇ in 18:21, 22, and similarly in 18:14).

Note the striking parallel language in 6:14; 20:11; and 16:20:

6:14 16:20 20:11
πᾶν ὄρος καὶ νῆσος ἐκ τῶν τόπων αὐτῶν ἐκινήθησαν (“every mountain and island were moved from their places”) πᾶσα νῆσος ἔφυγεν καὶ ὄρη οὐχ εὑρέθησαν (“every island fled, and the mountains were not found”)

 

ἔφυγεν ἡ γῆ καὶ ὁ οὐρανός καὶ τόπος οὐχ εὑρέθη αὐτοῖς (“the earth and the heaven fled, and a place was not found for them”)

 

Destruction of mountains was a sign of the end of the cosmos in Jewish apocalyptic (1 En.1:6; Assumption of Moses10:4; Sib. Or. 8.234–35).” (Beale, Ibid. 844).

McDurmon basically tried to mock Preston’s charts of “parallels” in his various books and in the debate as too simple, and yet the FACTS are that Don isn’t coming up with anything new when it comes to these parallels!  It is called the “analogy of Faith” and the vast majority of reformed exegesis upholds these kinds of parallels and recapitulation within the book of Revelation.

The other ironic thing is that McDurmon made “parallels” between Matthew 24 and 2 Peter 3 to support his Preterist view that the de-creation of 2 Peter 3 was fulfilled in AD 70, and yet he and DeMar can’t seem to address the “parallels” I have made between Matthew 25:31-46 (which DeMar says was fulfilled in AD 70) and Revelation 20:5-15.  As usual McDurmon was just trying to blow smoke and produced NO exegesis and he can’t consistently harmonize the analogy of faith principle of interpretation within reformed eschatology as we have.  And DeMar remains in hiding from debating Full Preterism – Selah.

The Dead Were Judged

In verses 12-15 the dead are judged, Hades gives up the dead and those whose names were not written in the book of life were thrown into the lake of fire.  For Kistemaker, such passages as Revelation 2:23; 3:5; 6:17; 11:18; 16:14; 20:5, 12-15; 22:10-12; Daniel 12:1-2; Matthew 25:31-46 all refer to ONE final judgment at the end of the age.  We agree, but it is the end of the Old Covenant age that the NT places this judgment in and not the New Covenant age or end of history.  Between Mathison and Gentry (and Gary DeMar), all of the above judgment passages were or could have been fulfilled at the end of the Old Covenant age in AD 70 except Revelation 20:5-15 allegedly being the exception.

And yet all of the rewards (to be presented at the judgment) for the churches in Revelation 1-3 were to be given when Christ was to come soon and correspond to inheriting the New Creation in Revelation 21 – of which Mathison and Gentry claim arrived in AD 70.  If the New Creation follows the millennium (and those events that take place soon after the millennium) in Revelation 20:1-15, then the judgment and resurrection of the dead had to have taken place imminently at that time as well.  To this we need to turn to the rest of Scripture for confirmation since Gentry has informed us that Revelaiton 20 is not isolated from the rest of the NT.

“They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.”  “…But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers.” (1 Pet. 4:5, 7).

And in the same context Peter in verse 17 uses the definite article to emphasize he is referring to “THE time” of “THE judgment,” not just “a” minor one in AD 70,

“For the time has come for the judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Pet. 4:17).

“…because He did set a day in which He is about to judge the world in righteousness, by a man whom He did ordain, having given assurance to all, having raised him out of the dead” (Acts 17:31 YLT, WEY).

“I solemnly implore you, in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus who is about to judge the living and the dead, and by His Appearing and His Kingship:” (2 Tim. 4:1 WEY, YLT).

Kistemaker once again confirms the judgment of the dead in Revelation 20:12-13 is one Day of Judgment and has already been addressed in the previous chapters “…sixth seal (6:17), the seventh trumpet (11:18), and the sixth bowl (16:14) all refer to the moment when the great Day of Judgment comes. John presents his Apocalypse in a cyclical manner and looks at God’s revelation from different perspectives.

“And the rest of the dead lived not until the thousand years were completed” (20:5a). Here as well as in 20:12–13 the term alludes to all people: some receive rewards and others condemnation. (Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, Ibid., 344).

Conclusion

In order for Postmillennial Partial Preterism to take the time texts literally in the NT and in the book of Revelation, and try and remain creedal, they have to invent two judgments of the dead, two Great Commissions, two comings of Christ, two passings or fleeings of heaven and earth, two arrivals of the New Creation, two judgments and resurrections for the dead, two weddings, etc… With the Amillennialist and Historic Premillennialist, we condemn this hermeneutic as “unbiblical” “arbitrary” “inconsistent,” and yet when consistently played out “forms or leads to Full Preterism.”  And yet the Amillennialist and Historic Premillennialist needs to understand that their views combined with Postmillennial Partial Preterism fully “leads to and forms Full Preterism.”  Selah.

Ironically, Gary DeMar claims his Postmillennial Partial Preterism is winning the eschatological battle today among the other competing end time views.  Apparently it did not win the eschatological debate for Luther, Calvin and the WCF which have taught the coming of Christ in Matthew 24-25 is indeed the Second Coming (as Full Preterism teaches).  And what about today?  Sproul, Mathison and DeMar didn’t win the battle over Matthew 24-25 in The Reformation Study Bible, which is in perfect harmony with Full Preterism in interpreting the parallel’s in Matthew 24:30-31 as being the same and ONE Second Coming event in the following passages:

“But the language of [Matthew 24:31] is parallel to passages like 13:41; 16:27; 25:31 [which Postmillennialists say were fulfilled in AD 70], as well as to passages such as 1 Cor. 15:52 and 1 Thess. 4:14–17.  The passage most naturally refers to the Second Coming.” (1716).

If DeMar’s Postmillennial Partial Preterism is “winning” the eschatological debate today, then why has he continued to duck debating Full Preterism for over 30 years?!?  Selah.  Isn’t it because we all know his Partial “Preterism” serves as nothing more than a stepping stone to Full or REAL Preterism?   Just as “four point Calvinism” inevitably leads to five point or REAL Calvinism so does Postmillennial Partial Preterism lead to REAL Full Preterism.  Since Sproul is correct to say a four point “Calvinist” is really “a confused Arminian” (which I agree with btw), it is also true that Sproul’s Postmillennial “Partial Preterism” is nothing more than “confused futurism.”  Selah.

I have demonstrated how the Classic Amillennial, Historic Premillennial and Postmillennial Partial Preterist views of the OD have actually formed the Sovereign Grace Full Preterist view of the OD and NT prophecy in general.  This has resulted in a contextual and consistent exegesis of our Lord’s teaching.  Without the SGFP view present to “bridge the gap” between these views, the Church will continue deadlocked in hopeless contradiction and will continue telling everyone how “difficult” the OD (and NT prophecy) is – when in fact it isn’t.

It is my sincere prayer that men like R.C. Sproul will honestly see the exegetical “Problems with Postmillennialism” and will have the courage to unite the reformed community in revising the creeds so that all of them can hold to the analogy of faith – Scripture interprets Scripture and Scripture does not contradict Scripture.  Selah.

Please do share this article and series with your Pastor and friends.  Also send this series to R.C. Sproul and the seven reformed authors of When Shall These Things Be?, and ask them why they have not been able to answer or refute our book response to them, House Divided Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology…?”  Thank you.

My Second Lecture at the PPW 2017 Conference Problems for Postmillennialism in the Olivet Discourse (Resurrection Cont.) Part 5 the “Redemption” and “Redemption of the Body” (Luke 21:27-28 = Romans 8:18-23YLT)

Introduction:

As I stated before, at the PPW 2017 Conference I simply did not have the time to develop all the information I wanted to.  I briefly scanned over a chart I produced between Luke 21:27-28 and Romans 8:18-23YLT demonstrating that Paul was once again drawing from and developing Jesus’ eschatology.  If I had the time this is the rest of what I would have liked to have presented.  Enjoy and pass it on!

As commentators and Bible cross references are correct to connect the Second Coming and trumpet gathering of Matthew 24:30-31 with 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 and 1 Corinthians 15, they are also correct to understand the coming of Christ and the looking up for “redemption” in Luke 21:27-28 to be the consummative Second Coming event inseparably connected with the glorification and liberation of creation / “redemption of the body” in Romans 8:18-23YLT and the consummative “salvation” in Romans 11:26-27; 13:11-12.  So to demonstrate how these Reformed views have formed Full Preterism I must give a Preterist interpretation of these passages (as I did with 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 and 1 Corinthians 15). I’ll also demonstrate that the “redemption” and coming of Christ in Luke 21 entails much more than just a physical salvation – as so many Postmillennialists attempt to do in order to isolate it from the rest of Pauline eschatology.

But before I do that, let’s once again examine the “House Divided” approach coming from the reformed community on the coming of Christ and His redemption in Luke 21:27-28.

  • Once again, appealing to the principle of the analogy of faith, John Murray and other Reformed theologians over the centuries have understood Paul, in Romans 8 to be building upon the “redemption” that Jesus addressed 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…). Hence analogy would again point to the eschatological complex of events.”

  • The Reformation Study Bible (again edited by two Postmillennialists) connects the coming and redemption of Christ in Luke 21:27-28 to the glory that was “about to be revealed” and the “resurrection of believers” or the “redemption of the body” in Romans 8:18-23 (p. 1832) and the “salvation” that was “at hand” in Romans 13:11-12 to ALL be the same consummative event (p. 2005).
  • Yet Postmillennialists such as Sproul and Mathison who produced The Reformation Study Bible admit in their writings that the coming of Christ and redemption of Luke 21:27-28 (of which the WCF says is the Second Coming event along with their own study Bible) was fulfilled spiritually in AD 70.
  • The confusion mounts when Postmillennialists such as Gary DeMar concede the “glory” in Romans 8:18YLT was “about to be” fulfilled in AD 70 but pretends he doesn’t know what it is, “Whatever the glory is it was ‘about to be revealed…” (Madness, 225).
  • However, The Reformation Study Bible (and virtually everyone else agrees) clears up DeMar’s alleged confusion over what the “glory” that “is to be” or was “about to be” revealed is. 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).
  • Postmillennialists such as DeMar, Gentry, Sproul and Mathison esteem the writings of John Lightfoot, and yet he conceded that the “creation” “groaning” and being subject to “frustration” and “vanity” while under “bondage” in Romans 8:20-23 is “improperly applied to the dying state of the [physical] creation,” and should more properly be applied to the creation of men who “inwardly” struggle in the vanity and lusts of sin.” (Lightfoot, Commentary on NT, Vol. 4, 157-159).
  • And the drama and contradictions mount more when Postmillennialists such as DeMar, Jordan and McDurmon confess that “All Israel” was “saved” (raised and transformed) in Romans 11:15-27 into the new glorified Israel of God in AD 70. Yet, this is when God would “take away their sin” – thus demonstrating that AD 70 was much more than an outward physical salvation and deliverance!
  • Again, The Reformation Study Bible connects all the above passages to the “salvation” that was “at hand” in Romans 13:11-12, which all Postmillennialists admit was fulfilled in AD 70.

Let’s help our reformed brethren piece this together and get rid of their confusion:

Premise #1:  Since it is true and orthodox to believe that the ONE Second Coming of Christ in His glory, His kingdom and redemption/resurrection found in Luke 21:27-28 is the same ONE consummative glory, redemption/resurrection and salvation to be revealed in Romans 8:18-23; 11:15-27; 13:11-12 (Amillennialism & Full Preterism agree).

Premise #2:  And since it is also true and orthodox to believe that the coming of Christ, His kingdom, glory, salvation, redemption and resurrection of Luke 21:27-28; Romans 8:18; 11:15-27; 13:11-12 was fulfilled spiritually “within” the believer in an AD 70 “this generation,” “about to be” or “at hand” time frame (Postmillennialism & Full Preterism agree).

Conclusion:  Then it is also true and orthodox to believe that the ONE Second Coming of Christ and consummative event of Him coming in glory with the arrival of His kingdom, salvation, redemption and resurrection found in Luke 21:27-28 and Romans 8:18-23; 11:15-27; 13:11-12 was “at hand” and “about to be” fulfilled in AD 70.  This coming of Christ and redemption and resurrection closed the OC age and therefore was realized “within” or “in” the soul of the Christian and is not descriptive of a future physical salvation, redemption / resurrection / transformation to take place for the believer or the literal planet at the end world history (Full Preterism). 

Analogy of Faith – The Olivet Discourse and Romans 8:18-23 YLT 

I agree with Reformed theologians that see the consummative Second Coming and “redemption” of Luke 21:27-28 with the “redemption of the body” and glorification of the Church in Romans 8:18-23.  I haven’t seen them produce a chart making the parallels, but this is what I have come up with thus far: 

Olivet Discourse & Luke 17 Romans 8:18-23YLT
Suffering to come (Matt 24:9) Present sufferings (vv. 17-18)

 

Christ and His Kingdom comes in glory to gather His people to Himself in the Kingdom which would be realized “within” (Matt 24:30-31; 13:36-43; Luke 17:21-37; 21:27-32) God’s glory was “about to be revealed”  “in” them (v. 18)

 

Redemption & salvation—resurrection

(Luke 21:27-28; Matt 24:13, 30-31)

Redemption & salvation—resurrection

(vv. 23-24; cf. 11:15-27; 13:11-12)

 

Birth pains (Matt 24:8) Pains of childbirth (v. 22)

 

OC heavens and earth pass away [implied the New takes it’s place when old passes] because all her promises have been fulfilled (Mt. 24:35/Lk. 21:22) Creation of men groaning for liberation [implies the arrival of the New Heavens and Earth] (vss. 20-22)

 

This would all happen in their “this generation”  

(Matt. 24:34)

As that generation was ending this was all “about to be” fulfilled (vss. 18-23YLT).

  

Romans 8:18-23YLT 

18 For I reckon that the sufferings of the present time [are] not worthy [to be compared] with the glory about to be revealed in us19 for the earnest looking out of the creation doth expect the revelation of the sons of God; 20 for to vanity was the creation made subject — not of its will, but because of Him who did subject [it] — in hope, 21 that also the creation itself shall be set free from the servitude of the corruption to the liberty of the glory of the children of God; 22 for we have known that all the creation doth groan together, and doth travail in pain together till now. 23 And not only [so], but also we ourselves, having the first-fruit of the Spirit, we also ourselves in ourselves do groan, adoption expecting — the redemption of our body;

The Creation of Men – Not Planet Earth

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: the manifestation and production of which sons, the whole Gentile world doth now wait for, as it were, with an out stretched neck.” (John Lightfoot, Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica, Volume 4 (Hendrickson publications), 157. Lightfoot, Hammond, and Gill understand the “creation” to be referring to Gentiles. “ . . . Crellius (Comm., Para.) explains it as a reference to regenerate Christians and Le Clerc (Supp., NT) refers it particularly to Gentile Christians.” John Locke, The Clarendon Edition of the Works of John Locke). 

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.”  (Ibid., 158–159 – emphases added).

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 Postmillennial and most Futurist 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. (cf. Tom Holland, Contours In Pauline Theology (Scotland: Christian Focus Publications, 2004), 85–110. Holland is a Reformed theologian who sees Paul’s “body” of flesh, sin, and death not referring to our physical flesh but to the corporate body of Sin in contrast to the corporate Body of Christ—the church. He counters Gundry’s individualistic views of soma in Paul’s writings.  He also argues for “consistency” in Paul’s use of corporate terms).  “Bondage,” according to the immediate context, had to do with groaning under the condemnation of the Law (cf. Rom. 7:2, 7, 15).

This was “About to be Revealed” “in” Believers – Just a Physical Redemption and Flight to Pella?  

Still, one might object that the “redemption” associated with the coming of Christ in Luke 21:27-28 has a clear time text (“this generation”) associated with it (v. 32), but the “redemption of the body” in Romans 8 does not; therefore, one might conclude the two passages are not necessarily parallel. Those who argue this way suggest that the redemption in Luke 21 might simply refer to relief from persecution and nothing more. The premise of their objection, however, is false. There is an imminence text associated with the redemption of the body in Romans 8.  Verse 18 reads, “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” (YLT; cf. NSRV, AV, & WEY: “soon to be manifested”).

At least Postmillennialists such as Gary DeMar concede the “glory” in Romans 8:18YLT was “about to be” fulfilled in AD 70 but pretends he doesn’t know what it is,

“Whatever the glory is it was ‘about to be revealed…” (Last Days Madness, 225).

Gentry and Mathison don’t address mello here in Romans 8:18.  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).”

If the removal of the sea represents the removal of sin and discord within, then AD 70 was much more than a physical flight to Pella.  We will pick this concept up more in our next text – Romans 11:27.

Back to the New Creation imminently arriving and the inconsistency of Mathison and Gentry.  They assign an “expanded” meaning to 2 Peter 3, which discusses the same promises in Isaiah 65–66 as that of Revelation 21 (and no doubt the expectation and groaning of Romans 8). They suggest that Peter is addressing the geological “elements” of the planet while the Apostle John, referencing the same Old Testament passage, is not.  Of course Postmillennialists Gentry and Mathison don’t tell you in WSTTB? that they are departing from one of their co-authors (Douglas Wilson), who does take 2 Peter 3 to be fulfilled in AD 70 along along with such greats as John Owen and John Lightfoot.  And if they can give eschatological texts “expanded” and multiple or double meanings, then they can’t really condemn other futurist systems for taking their AD 70 fulfillments and giving them future “expanded” meanings as well.

Gentry argues that “when used with the aorist infinitive—as in Revelation 1:19—mello’s predominant usage and preferred meaning is: ‘be on the point of, be about to.’ The same is true when the word is used with the present infinitive, as in Rev. 3:10. The basic meaning in both Thayer and Abbott-Smith is: ‘to be about to.”  (Before Jerusalem Fell: Dating the Book of Revelation [Tyler, TX: Institute for Biblical Economics, 1989], pp. 141-142; emphasis added.)  Gentry is correct. The problem, however, is that when the word mello refers to the resurrection and judgment of the living and dead in Acts 17:31; 24:15 and 24:25, it is used with the infinitive. In the case of Acts 24:15 in a recent article on his site Gentry appeals to BDAG that when mello is used with the future infinitive, it communicates certainty and shouldn’t be translated as “about to” take place.  Of course there are translations and lexicons that do render mello here as “about to.”

Gentry and Mathison also fails to address in their writings that mello in Romans 8:18 is in the aorist infinitive (of which they say has the “preferred meaning” of “be on the point of, be about to”) and also has two other imminent Greek words within the immediate context – apokaradokia and apekdekomai which further solidifies this translation of mello.  And lastly, BDAG (Gentry’s source for trying to place Acts 24:15 at the end of world history) places Romans 8:18 as having the rendering “about to be revealed.”  So much for consistency!

In Mathison’s section on the “Restoration of Creation” (WSTTB? 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 and other Postmillennialists 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 concepts:

  • The days are not literal 24 hour days.
  • 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.

These interpretations are, individually considered, “orthodox.” Yet when preterists consolidate the most defensible elements of Reformed eschatology, anti-preterists such as the authors of WSTTB? unite in opposition to even some of their own stated views.

Romans 11:15-27 

15 For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead (the “redemption of the body” that was “about to be revealed” 8:23)? 16 If the first piece of dough is holy, the lump is also; and if the root is holy, the branches are too. 17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the [a]rich root of the olive tree, 18 do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you. 19 You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” 20 Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear; 21 for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either. 22 Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. 23 And they also, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24 For if you were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these who are the natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree? 25 For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; 26 and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion (Second Coming or the “day” that was “at hand 13:12), He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.” 27 “This is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins.”

There is a great debate between Amillennialists and Postmillennialists on the salvation of “all Israel” in Romans 11:25–26, as can be seen in the opposing views of Gentry and Strimple (See Kenneth Gentry, Robert Strimple, Ed. Craig Blaising, Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1999), 112–118, 133–142). Postmillennialists such as Gentry and Mathison argue that “all Israel” being saved refers to a mass conversion of ethnic Jews before Christ comes in our future. Amillennialists understand “all Israel” being saved to refer to the salvation of the church as the new Israel of God.

As for the view that “all Israel” refers to ethnic Jews in our future, we can immediately know that this view is incorrect. With the passing of the old covenant in AD 70, there is no covenantal Israel other than the united Jew-Gentile church. The things of the old order passed away. So the covenant promises in Romans 11 cannot refer to the modern nation of Israel or to the modern Jewish race or community. The only “Israel” in the New Testament that was to be cleansed from sin is the Jew-Gentile church, the body of Israel’s Messiah. This is the “Israel” (“all” of it) that entered into the Holiest of Holies in AD 70 (Heb. 9:8). Let us briefly summarize Paul’s argument in Romans 11.

Even though God’s old covenant people in their last generation were being hardened and excluded from the coming inheritance, that did not mean that God had rejected old covenant Israel (Rom. 11:1– 2). Although it may have looked like Israel was being utterly cut off in her last generation, the truth was that old covenant Israel was being saved in her last days. God was actually saving “all Israel”—fulfilling His promises to “the fathers”—partly by means of the hardening of its last generation. Here’s how:

  1. By means of old covenant Israel’s transgression/failure and rejection in her last days, riches and reconciliation (through the gospel) were coming to the Gentiles (Acts 13:46; 18:6; 28:18). As Paul said, “They are enemies for your sakes.” (Rom. 11:28)
  1. The salvation of the Gentiles was making last days Israel “jealous,” so that a remnant was becoming zealous for righteousness and being saved. (Rom. 11:2–10,11,13,14)
  1. The hardening, or reprobation, of old covenant Israel in her last generation was to continue until the fullness of the Gentiles came in, i.e., came into Israel. (Rom. 11:25)
  1. In this manner, or by this process, all of the saints of historic, old covenant Israel were going to be saved (resurrected) along with the last days remnant, and with the believing Gentiles who had been grafted into historic Israel. The consummation of this process took place in the Parousia of Christ in AD 70, according to the promises made to the fathers. (Rom. 11:26) That is when Israel died, and was raised up a new, transformed Israel. That is when all of the elect (the Old Testament saints, the last days Jewish remnant, and the believing Gentiles) were consummately united in Christ and became the fulfilled “Israel of God.” It was thus that all Israel was saved.

Postmillennialists such as Mathison and Gentry neglect to interact with other Postmillennial Partial Preterists such as DeMar and Jordan who teach that “all Israel” was saved by AD 70 and that covenantally, there no longer remain “ethnic” Jews after AD 70 (see Gary DeMar, All Israel will be saved: Notes on Romans 11:26, American Vision http://americanvision.org/1234/all-israel-will-be-saved-notes-onromans/#.UG3auVGJr3A. James B. Jordan, The Future of Israel Re-examined, July 1991. Biblical Horizons, No. 27 July, 1991).

And while most Postmillennial Partial Preterists want to portray AD 70 as only a physical salvation, redemption and rescuing, if Postmillennialists like DeMar are going to state that in AD 70 the New Covenant was “consummated” or that “all Israel” was saved in AD 70, then he has to accept what verse 27 says,

“…and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion (Second Coming or the “day” that was “at hand 13:12), He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.” 27 “This is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins.”

In AD 70 God came from Zion (the Second Coming) and “took away” the “sins” of the raised and glorified New Israel of God – the Church.

Romans 13:11-12

“11 And this, knowing the time, that for us, the hour already [is] to be aroused out of sleep, for now nearer [is] our salvation than when we did believe; 12 the night did advance, and the day came nigh (or is “at hand”); let us lay aside, therefore, the works of the darkness, and let us put on the armour of the light;”

This is the (OG) LXX “hour” “hour/time of the end” of Daniel 12:1, 4 and the resurrection and shining/glorification of Daniel 12:2-3 that Postmillennialists are now admitting was spiritual, corporate, covenantal and progressively being fulfilled between AD 30 – AD 70.  And it was “at hand” and therefore fulfilled in AD 70 just as the “redemption of the body” was “about to be revealed” (Rms. 8:18-23YLT).

Romans 16:20

“The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.  The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.”

While in the book of Romans we need to once again emphasize that Romans 16:20 is referring to the final defeat and “crushing” of Satan as described in Genesis 3:15.  Postmillennialists, usually take all of the imminent time statements to be fulfilled in AD 70 and do not allow for them to be “double” fulfilled or given “multiple fulfillments,” but that is exactly what they do with this passage or other passages that conflict with their creedal recantations!

Interesting enough, The Reformation Study Bible says of this text,

“Paul is speaking here about the last things, which by faith are always seen as near at hand.”  (p. 2010).

Yet, amazingly R.C. Sproul in his book, Last Days According to Jesus harshly and yet correctly condemns this handling of NT imminence and faith allegedly making the event near as liberal mysticism,

“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].” (R.C. Sproul, The Last Days According To Jesus (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1998), pp. 108-109; emphasis added).

Conclusion

 We couldn’t agree more with Sproul and Mathison’s Postmillennial Reformation Bible that teaches us that the coming of Christ and the “redemption” of Luke 21:27-28 is THE Second Coming and resurrection event that is synonymous with or the same eschatological event as described for us in Romans 8:18-23YLT; 11:26-27; 13:11-12 and 16:20 while at the same time Postmillennialists in their other writings admitting that these passages were “at hand” “soon” and “about to be” fulfilled at Christ’s parousia in AD 70.  Selah.  To say they don’t have a “problem” is an understatement, and for them to deny that their writings don’t lead to Full Preterism simply cannot be taken seriously at any level.

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 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/

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)

Introduction:

Having examined the problems with Postmillennialism in regards to the eschatological wedding feast and resurrection, I want to now turn our attention to the problems for Postmillennialism in the parable of the wheat and tares and the resurrection in Matthew 13:36-43/Daniel 12:2-3.

Matthew 13:36-43

 36 Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” 37 He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40 Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, 42 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father [Dan. 12:3]. He who has ears, let him hear.”

Daniel 12:1-4, 7:

“At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt3 And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above;[a] and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever. 4 But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.” (Daniel asks and is told by the angel when all this would be fulfilled in v. 7) 7…that it would be for a time, times, and half a time, and that when the shattering of the power of the holy people comes to an end all these things would be finished.

The History of Postmillennialism on These Crucial Texts

Prior to these writings we were challenging Postmillennialists that exegetically and according to Daniel 12:7 the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 was fulfilled in AD 70 along with the judgment, tribulation and 3 ½ years period since the angel tells Daniel that “all these things” (not some of them) would be fulfilled together when the power of the holy people was to be completely shatted in AD 70.  And according to Jesus this would be fulfilled at the end of the OC age gathering (not world history) per Matthew 13 and Matthew 24.

Yet they continued to affirm that the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 was ONE resurrection event forming the resurrection of John 5:28-28; Acts 24:15; 1 Cor. 15 which would end the millennium of Rev. 20.  Hence the ONE resurrection event of Daniel 12 would be fulfilled at the end of the age (or world history) as described for us in the parable of the wheat and tares in Matthew 13.  Therefore, the gavel was struck when in 2001 Gary North informed us and his Postmillennial colleagues that,

“Anyone who equates the fulfillment of [the parable of the wheat and tares] with AD 70 has broken with the historical faith of the church.”

It didn’t matter what Daniel 12:7 said on the timing of this resurrection, North saw the implications of what would happen if the “end of the age” was the OC age and the ONE resurrection of Daniel 12 was fulfilled in AD 70.  This would mean the “ONE” resurrection was fulfilled in AD 70 and that the millennium was roughly a forty-year period just like the Full Preterism had been teaching.

But North’s threats wouldn’t hold for long.  As Full Preterists and other eschatological systems continued to press Postmillennialism on their inconsistency concerning these texts, they began making very important AD 70 concessions that continue to lead their readers into Full Preterim.

2004

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In 2004 concerning the parable of the wheat and tares Postmillennialist Peter Leithart writes,

“Jesus has now come with His winnowing fork, and before the end of the age, the wheat and tares will be separated.  The end of the age thus refers not to the final judgment but to the close of  “this generation[i.e AD 70].” (p. 95)

Strengths

Leithart is bold enough to defy North and identify the fulfillment of the parable of the wheat and tares with the end of the OC age in Jesus’ contemporary generation and not at the end of world history.

Weaknesses

There is no real historical or exegetical treatment on what the “end of the age” is, let alone how it should be interpreted in the rest of Matthew’s gospel and then into Pauline eschatology.

There is no mention and admission that he is adopting a Full Preterist interpretation of the passage (which North identifies as unorthodox).

And there is no mention that Jesus is quoting from the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 and how this was fulfilled at the end of the OC age in AD 70.

2007

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Strengths:

Excellent observation that Daniel 12:2-3 is the “last spiritual” resurrection for Israel and fulfilled in AD 70 (cf. pp. 618-619).

The passage teaches that Israel was progressively being raised from the dead between AD 26 – AD 70.  This was produced through the gospel and receiving eternal life (cf. 618-619; 621).

Jordan teaches “Revelation takes up where Daniel leaves off” and deals mostly with “the death and resurrection of the Church” during the “Apostolic age.”  In AD 70 Daniel’s soul was raised out of Abraham’s bosom according to Revelation 20 to rule with all of God’s saints and inherit eternal life and the kingdom (pp. 621; 628).

Summary:  The resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 is descriptive of Israel’s “last” resurrection which emerges in the glorification of the Church in AD 70.  It was spiritual, covenantal, corporate, progressive, and culminates in souls being raised out of Abraham’s Bosom or Hades at Christ’s parousia in AD 70.

Weakness:

He is not mentioning that he debated a Full Preterist (Don Preston) and has stolen and adopted the Full Preterist view of the resurrection in his treatment of Daniel 12:2-3.  This is not honest, scholarly or professional.

He avoids Jesus quoting and referencing Daniel 12:2-3 in Matthew 13:43!  He is clearly afraid of identifying the “end of the age” as the OC age and the implications it may have on such texts as Matthew 24:3 and Matthew 28:18-20.

He connects the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 with the tribulation of Matthew 24, but avoids that the resurrection takes place at the eschatological “gathering” at the “end of the age” per Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 13:39-43 and Matthew 24:30-31 (this is where Jesus, classic Amillennialism, Premillennialism and Full Preterism place the resurrection of Daniel 12 in the OD).

Gentry’s New View v. Old View

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Gentry’s Old View on Daniel 12:2-3:

“Contrary to dispensationalism and historic premillennialism, there is but one resurrection and onejudgment, which occur simultaneously at the end of history:  Daniel 12:2; Matthew 25:31-32; John 5:28-29…Acts 24:15).” (The GREATNESS OF THE BREAT COMMISSION, 142).

Speaking of the resurrection of 1 Corinthians 15 Gentry writes,

“The resurrection is a general resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous (Dan. 12:2; John 5:28-29; Acts 24:15), which will occur on the “last day”…”

Strengths

Gentry is accurate to teach that Jesus and the NT authors develop the Daniel 12:2-3 as only “one” judgment and resurrection event to take place at the end of the age.

Weaknesses

The resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 takes place when the other events do – “when the power of the holy people is completely shattered” in AD 70.  Gentry is cherry-picking vss. 2-3 because of his creedal bias.

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Gentry’s 2009 New and Ever Evolving View on Daniel 12:2:

In the third addition of his book on He Shall Have Dominion, Gentry seems to finally be conceding that the resurrection of Daniel 12 was not a biological resurrection but a spiritual resurrection fulfilled in AD 70 at the same time as the tribulation period:

“In Daniel 12:1-2 we find a passage that clearly speaks of the great tribulation in AD 70.” “…But it also seems to speak of the resurrection occurring at that time…”

“Daniel appears to be presenting Israel as a grave site under God’s curse:  Israel as a corporate body is in the “dust” (Da 12:2; cp. Ge 3:14, 19).  In this he follows Ezekiel’s pattern in his vision of the dry bones, which represent Israel’s “death” in the Babylonian dispersion (Eze 37).  In Daniel’s prophecy many will awaken, as it were, during the great tribulation to suffer the full fury of the divine wrath, while others will enjoy God’s grace in receiving everlasting life.”

On Facebook I asked him a question on the resurrection of Daniel 12 (not realizing what he wrote on it in his third edition) and he answered, “Dan 12 is not dealing with bodily resurrection but national resurrection (as does Eze 37). Dan 12 sees the “resurrection” of Israel in the birth of the Christian Church, which is the New Israel. Thus, it bears similarities with Eze 37 and the resurrection of the dry bones of Israel.”

But in the Q & A session at the Criswell conference on the Millennium that Don spoke at, I challenged Gentry that if he took the judgment and resurrection of Daniel 12 to be fulfilled in AD 70, then he would have to admit that the end of the millennium judgment and resurrection of Revelation 20:5-15 was also fulfilled spiritually in AD 70 and was therefore not dealing with a “bodily” or biological resurrection (as he admitted to me on FB).  His answer which I was not suspecting (because of his comments in his book and his FB response to me) was that the resurrection of Daniel 12:2 can have a “double fulfillment.”  There was a spiritual fulfillment in AD 70 and there allegedly will be a second or physical fulfillment of the passage at the end of world history which he arbitrarily sees in Matthew 13:39-43; Revelation 20; and John 5:28-29.

As I challenge Gentry in the second edition of our book,

“Gentry gives Daniel 12:2 two fulfillments but won’t allow dispensationalists or any other futurist system to do the same thing with the Great Tribulation, the three and a half years, or the Abomination of Desolation in Daniel 12 or Daniel 9:27.” (HD, 94).

In commenting on the resurrection of Daniel 12:2 Gentry mentions the spiritual and corporate nature of the resurrection for Israel of coming out of her “graves” in Ezekiel 37 to support his corporate view of Israel being raised into the new covenant Israel by AD 70.  Well, since there was a spiritual and corporate resurrection of the dead coming out of their “graves” in Ezekiel 37 and there is a spiritual fulfillment for the dead rising within the immediate context of John 5:24-26, there is no exegetical reason why the new covenant anti-type coming resurrection “hour” out of “graves” in John 5:28-29 is not also a corporate and spiritual resurrection.  And if James Jordan is claiming that Daniel’s soul was raised out of Abraham’s Bosom or Hades into God’s presence to inherit eternal life in AD 70, why isn’t this the same kind of resurrection Jesus is describing in John 5:28-29?

Strengths:

Gentry finally admits after 30 years that the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 takes place at the SAME TIME the tribulation, judgment, three and half years, and shattering of Jerusalem in AD 70 was fulfilled (“all these things” v. 7).

Weaknesses:

He does not humbly admit his change and admission that the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 was fulfilled spiritually in AD 70 is due to pressure coming from the Full Preterist and Futurist communities calling for consistency — in his very inconsistent use of the Preterist hermeneutic.

Gentry does not discuss his evolving interpretation of this passage.  He addresses my FB question and tells me that the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 “is not dealing with bodily resurrection but national resurrection…,” and then in answering my question at the Criswell Conference on the Millennium tells me the passage has a “double” fulfillment (one spiritual and national in AD 70 and another “bodily” one at the end of world history).

Gentry does not discuss why it is wrong for Premillennial Dispensationalism to hold to TWO resurrections and why he now can.

Gentry does not discuss why he can now “double fulfill” the AD 70 resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3, but the tribulation, time of the end and three and a half year’s period cannot be double fulfilled!  If Gentry can begin double fulfilling AD 70 events, then so can other Futurist views – and if that is the case, that’s the END of Gentry’s Postmillennialism – PERIOD.

Gentry does not tell us based upon what hermeneutical principle the judgment and resurrection of Matthew 13:39-43; Acts 24:15YLT; John 5:28-29; 1 Corinthians 15 and Revelation 20:5-15 is not the AD 70 spiritual resurrection he gives and allows for in Daniel 12:2-3 (since these passages are the same resurrection event as Dan. 12:2-3)!  Not only that, but he doesn’t tell us why they couldn’t have a “double fulfillment” – one spiritual in AD 70 and then a physical one at the end of world history.  Make no mistake about it folks, Gentry has surrendered to Full Preterism and has unraveled his Postmillennialism and he is hoping no one has noticed or will take apart his STILL very inconsistent hermeneutic of Daniel 12:1-7 and how this OT passage is developed by Jesus and the NT authors.

While Jordan attempts to deal with exactly how Daniel was raised (Dan. 12:13), Gentry does not discuss the subject.  Was Daniel’s soul raised out of Abraham’s Bosom to inherit eternal life in God’s presence to rule and reign or not Mr. Gentry?  Gentry is constantly telling us there was a judgment of the living and dead that took place in AD 70 (cf. 1 Pet. 4:5-7, 17; Rev. 11), yet never informs us how the dead were judged without a resurrection for the dead taking place at the same time (and exactly what kind of resurrection it was)!

2011

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Strengths:

McDurmon correctly teaches the Full Preterist view here that the parable of the wheat and tares was fulfilled at the end of the OC age in AD 70.  And when Jesus and Paul use the phrase “this age” it is the OC age and the “age to come” is the NC age — with the change being complete in AD 70 (pp. 43-49).

 Weaknesses:

Again like the others, there is no admission this is a Full Preterist view.

Since Joel is Gary North’s Son-in-law, we would expect some kind of interaction with North’s comments that to give the parable the fulfillment at the end of the OC age in AD 70 (as Full Preterism does) is to break from the orthodox church.  And again why would North say this?  It’s because this would mean that Jesus is referencing the “ONE” resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 to be fulfilled at the end of the OC age in AD 70 and not at the end of world history (the “orthodox” view).  And he knows the millennial period would have ended in AD 70 as well.  McDurmon is a coward on virtually every level here.

McDurmon gives no exegetical attempt to address the OT citation of the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 in Matthew 13:39-43 (this is just basic hermeneutics he decides to avoid).  Nor is there an attempt to harmonize the spiritual resurrection view that Jordan gives Daniel 12:2-3 as fulfilled in AD 70.  Remember Joel works for American Vision (AV) which published Jordan’s commentary on Daniel!  One expects Joel to interact with North’s statements and the books he is involved in publishing — but nothing but silence coming from Joel (and thus Gary DeMar behind the scenes for OBVIOUS reasons).

Putting it All Together “Bridging the Gap” 2009/2014

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

Time of the-End / End-of the-Age Separation Verses 1, 4, 9, 13 Verses 39-41
Saints Rise and Shine in the Eternal Kingdom Verses 1, 4, 9, 13 Verses 39-43
Wicked Rise to Shame in Eternal Condemnation Verse 2 Verses 39-42
Kingdom-Age Evangelism via God’s Shining Ones Verse 3 Verses 37, 43

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

Evangelism in the world takes place Verses 37-38 24:14
There is persecution, tribulation, professors / apostasy, & faithfulness Verses 19-30 24:9-13
Christ comes with or sends his angles to participate in the judgment of separation Verses 41 24:30-31
Christ and Angles Come at the End of the Age to Fulfill Daniel 12:1-4 – Time of Separation, Judgment and Resurrection of Living and Dead Verses 39b-43/Dan. 12:2-3 24:3, 30-31; 25:31-41
The Sons of the Day Shine with the Son/Sun of Righteousness Verses 39b-43/Dan. 12:2-3 24:27, 30-31 /  Lk. 17:20-37When Day Star (Christ) Rises “Within” the “Heart” (cf. Phil. 2:15; 1 Pet. 1:9; Rev. 2:28/22:16, 20)

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

Tribulation and Sanctification / Great Tribulation Verses 1b, 10 24:21-22
Time / Day / Hour of the Judgment (aka Separation) Verses 1-2, 4 (OG/LXX) 24:36; 25:31-33
Fulfilled at the Time of the End / the End of the Age / the End – The Shattering of National Israel’s World—Her Heaven and Earth (i.e. the Temple, etc.) Verses 4a, 9b, 13bVerse 7 24:3b, 13-14
Inheritance of and Entrance into Eternal Kingdom-Life Verses 2b, 3a, 13b 25:34, 46 / Lk. 17:20-37/21:27-32
The Sons of the Day / Hour Shine with the Son/Sun Verse 3a 24:27, 36; 25:34
Kingdom-Age Evangelism via God’s Shining Ones Verse 3 24:14, 27; 25:29a 

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 (Daniel 12)  B (Matthew 13)  C (Matthew 24-25) 
Kingdom-Age Evangelism Kingdom-Age Evangelism Kingdom-Age Evangelism
Tribulation Like Never Before Tribulation Meted Out Tribulation Like Never Before
Time of the End of Daniel’s People; End of the Age of National Israel Time of the End of that OC Age End of the Old Covenant Age of National Israel — the Fall of Its Temple & City in their “generation” 
Righteous Rise & Shine;Wicked Rise to Shame The Righteous Gathered to Rise & Shine; Tares Gathered to Burn Sheep to Inherit Eternal Life (and light) in the Kingdom; Goats to Inherit Eternal Punishment (in outer darkness). 

 Premise #1 – Since it is true that the resurrection of Dan. 12:2-3 is a progressive spiritual raising of Israel and the Church from death roughly between AD 30 – AD 70 and it involved souls being raised from the realm of the dead to inherit eternal life in AD 70 per Rev. 20 (Jordan).

Premise #2 – And since it is also true that the eschatological “not yet” of the resurrection of Dan. 12:2-3 is the “ONE” resurrection event (therefore it can’t be “double fulfilled”) of 1 Cor. 15; John 5:28-29; Acts 24:15 and is fulfilled at the “end of the age” when Christ’s Second Advent takes place per Mt. 13:36-43 and Mt. 24:3; 25:30-32 (Gentry’s postion #1).  And since it the growth of the wheat and tares is the millennial period of Rev. 20 with the millennium ending at “the end of the age” when Christ comes (Gentry & most agree).

 Premise #3 – And since it is also true that the parable of the wheat and tares and the “end of the age” was fulfilled at the end of the OC age (McDurmon), in Jesus’ “this generation” (Leithart), at Christ’s spiritual coming in AD 70 fulfilling Mt. 25:30-32 (DeMar).

 Conclusion – Then the “ONE” “spiritual” resurrection of Israel and the Church being raised from the dead according to Daniel 12:1-4; Mt. 13:36-43; 1 Cor. 15; John 5:25-29 and Rev. 20 was between AD 30 – AD 70 and fulfilled at Christ’s spiritual Second Advent in judgment to close the OC age and millennial period per Mt. 13:36-43/Mt. 25:30-32ff./Rev. 20:1-15.

Conclusion

Reformed eschatology (primarily Postmillennial Partial Preterism & Amillennialism) has formed Full Preterism on both the timing and spiritual nature of the ONE eschatological wedding and resurrection event of Isa. 25:6-9 and Daniel 12:2-3.  This was when Jesus’ “cast out” OC Israel from her kingdom—burned her city and gave the kingdom to the new and transformed “nation” or NC Israel of God–in her spiritual, transformed and mature state in AD 70 (Mt. 21:43-45).  This is when the ONE eschatological “gathering” took place at the ONE “end of the [OC] age” in AD 70.

In the next lecture, we will continue to examine the errors of Postmillennial Partial Preterism in the Olivet Discourse (OD) while at the same time see how their views and the views of Reformed eschatology in general continue leading us to Full Preterism.

To Listen or View This Series:  

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/

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)

We are continuing to examine and refute the Postmillennial position of the NT teaching TWO parousias of Christ connected with TWO resurrections.  By necessity, this also requires them having to teach TWO eschatological weddings and wedding feasts separated by thousands of years as well.

Matthew 8:10-12:

10 When Jesus heard this [expression of the Gentile’s faith], he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith. 11 I tell you, many will come from east and west [Gentiles] and recline at the table [wedding feast of Isa. 25:6-9] with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven [in the resurrection], 12 while the sons of the kingdom [Pharisees and unbelieving Jews] will be cast out into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Gentry writes,

“In Matthew 8:11-12 we read of the faithful gentile who exercises more faith than anyone in Israel. We hear once again of the people from the east. This time they sit with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (the rightful place of the Jews). While the Jews themselves are “cast out” into “outer darkness.” (He Shall Have Dominion, p. 175). And, “God is preparing to punish his people Israel, remove the temple system, and re-orient redemptive history from one people and land to all peoples throughout the earth.” “This dramatic redemptive-historical event…ends the old covenant era…” (He Shall Have Dominion, p. 342).

Strengths:

The “casting out” of the “subjects of the kingdom” is a reference to OC Israel being judged in AD 70, at which time the believing Jewish/Gentile Church takes her place at the end of the OC era (but notice he is afraid of using the term “age”).

The “casting out into darkness” where there is “weeping and gnashing of teeth” he says refers to AD 70.

Weaknesses:

There is no mention of Isaiah 25:6-9 as Jesus’ source (cf. Mt. 5:17-18). They do the same thing in the OD when it comes to the resurrection gathering of Isa. 25-27/Mt. 24:30-31!

There is no consistency on Jesus’ phrases of being “cast out into darkness” where there is “weeping and gnashing of teeth” to Matthew 24:51 and 25:30. There is nothing throughout Matthew’s gospel that indicates there are TWO (casting out into outer darkness, weeping and gnashing of teeth) judgments in Jesus’ teaching throughout the gospels.

Unanswered questions – Why isn’t this the fulfillment of the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3, 13 and Revelation 20 in AD 70 when Daniel’s soul was raised out of the realm of the dead to inherit eternal life and God’s presence – since some Postmillennialists are teaching this now?

Commentators who are not Postmillennial Partial Preterists have no problem pointing out the OT passages Jesus is referring to when He addresses the eschatological wedding feast.

D.A. Carson writes,

“The picture is that of the “messianic banquet,” derived from such OT passages as Isaiah 25:6–9 (cf. 65:13–14)…” and “…the presence of Gentiles at the banquet, symbolized the consummation of the messianic kingdom (cf. Mt 22:1–14; 25:10; 26:29). “Son of” or “sons of” can mean “sons of the bridal chamber” [9:15; NIV, “guests of the bridegroom.” (The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew, Mark, Luke (Vol. 8, pp. 202–203).

Bloomberg writes, “Jesus characterizes that bliss as taking “their places at the feast,” the messianic banquet image depicting the intimate fellowship among God’s people in the age to come (cf. Isa 25:6–9; 65:13–14).” (Blomberg, C. (1992). Matthew (Vol. 22, p. 142). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers).

Leon Morris connects this “feast” with “the coming bliss of the messianic banquet,” to be fulfilled “in the world (or age) to come.” (Morris, L. (1992). The Gospel according to Matthew (p. 195). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans; Inter-Varsity Press).

R.C. Sproul’s Reformation Study Bible admits that the table and feast of Matthew 8:11 is,

“A reference to the messianic banquet theme of Is. 25:6-9. Gentiles now appear in place of the natural sons.” (p. 1684).

Strengths:

Jesus is teaching on the fulfillment of the messianic wedding banquet and resurrection of Isa. 25:6-9 and inheriting the new creation of 65:12-14 at the end of the then current age, and in the age to come.

They connect the judgment of being “cast out into darkness” where there is “weeping and gnashing of teeth” with Matthew 24:51 and 25:30 as ONE separating judgment throughout Matthew’s gospel.

Weaknesses:

They ignore the time texts and clear references to the ONE AD 70 judgment throughout Matthew’s gospel and the time texts of the wedding and resurrection in Mt. 24-25 and Revelation – “this generation,” “soon,” etc…

The hermeneutical steps are incomplete in that no work is done on the context of Isaiah 24-25 or Isaiah 65 which demonstrate an “in time” and local judgment and not an end of time and global transformation event.

Matthew 22:1-14:

And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, 2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, 3 and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. 4 Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.”’ 5 But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, 6 while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. 7 The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. 8 Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9 Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ 10 And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests. 11 “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. 12 And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Joel McDurmon writes of verses 2-7,

“Here the first servant-messengers (another reference to the prophets, no doubt) were simply ignored. Another wave of servant-messengers (more prophets) are treated as such a nuisance that while some still ignored them, “the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them” (v. 6). Jesus is certainly adding [the murdering of the servants or prophets] here as part of the same indictment of Jerusalem He would give again in (Matt. 23:34-36).”
“The murderers were the entire generation of Israelites….” “…the armies would set the murderers’ city on fire (again exactly what happened in AD 70).”

And of verses 8-14, “…yet, after this destruction…” “…during this post-destruction wedding feast, some would sneak in who did not belong.” “…Whether [the man w/out the wedding garment] should be interpreted as the Judaizers who would cause so much dissention in the NT Church, or whenter these should just be understood as general heretics in the Church, is not clear.” (Jesus v. Jerusalem, 157-158, bold emphasis MJS).

Strengths:

The Great Commission invitation to the feast is between AD 30 – AD 70 in verses 1-7.

The sending out, rejection and killing of the servants is equated to Mt. 23 and the AD 70 judgment.

The judgment and burning of the city closes the OC era/age in AD 70.

The AD 70 judgment is once again characterized as being “cast out into outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Weaknesses:

Again there is no mention that Jesus came to fulfill Isaiah 25:6-9 or 65:12-14 because they would have to address the timing and nature of the resurrection.

Postmillennialists miss that Mt. 22:1-14 is structured with recapitulation:

a). vss. 1-7: 1. There is an invitation to the wedding feast, 2. It is rejected, and 3. this rejection leads to the judgment of Jerusalem in AD 70 – burning their city.

b). vss. 8-13: 1. There is an invitation, 2. BUT there is NEW information given to us about the same time period that vss. 1-7 didn’t tell us about. This rejection results in the invitation to the undesirables – the 10 northern tribes/Samaritans and Gentiles (as laid out in Acts 1:8) and describes the success of the GC between AD 30 – AD 70. And then finally 3. There is a judgment for their rejection (except this time it’s described differently – with a Jew or Judaizer trying to achieve salvation by works of the law and not through belief in the Son and His grace – who is then “CAST” out in outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth (which is the same language used for the AD 70 judgment Postmillennialists give Mt. 8:11-12). So there is no exegetical evidence that vss. 8-13 is a post AD 70 GC resulting in a different judgment at the end of time.

As far as commentators that are not Postmillennial or Partial Preterist, they again have no problem connecting our Lord’s teaching here with the eschatological wedding feast consummation and resurrection of Isaiah 25:6-9. And most give lip service to God sending His armies to burn the city to be the AD 70 judgment (some such as Kistemaker try and downplay it). But these men refuse to interpret the rest of the parable as referring to AD 70 let alone connect Isaiah 25:6-9 with that judgment since it would destroy their Futurism.

Matthew 25:1-13

1″At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. 6″At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ 7″Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’ 9″‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ 10″But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. 11″Later the others also came. ‘LORD, LORD,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’ 12″But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’ 13″Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

Postmillennialists such as Keith Mathison, Gary DeMar, Joel McDurmon, Mike Bull, etc… no longer divide Matthew 24-25 into two comings of the Lord. They correctly see every reference to the coming of Christ in the OD to be His spiritual coming in AD 70.

As I pointed out earlier, the reference to “day and hour” not being know by the Son but only the Father (24:36) is echoing the OT betrothal/marriage/resurrection motifs coming in Israel’s last days terminal generation (AD 30 – AD 70) — of which Jesus came to fulfill (Lk. 21:22; Mt. 5:17-18).

Others such as Kenneth Gentry see the coming of the Lord and “day and hour” in 24:36—25:31-46 as THE Second Coming consummative event with apparently another eschatological wedding and wedding feast to follow!

So again Postmillennialists are face with TWO eschatological marriages, feasts and resurrections when the NT only knows of ONE.

So let’s do what the Postmillennialists won’t do (they won’t even MENTION Jesus fulfilling Isa. 25:6-9) and what the other Futurists won’t (they mention Jesus is fulfilling Isa. 25:6-9 or Isa. 65:12-14 but then won’t develop those OT contexts).

Context of Isaiah 25:6-9

“On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine- the best of meats and the finest of wines. 7On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; 8he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth. The LORD has spoken. 9In that day they will say, “Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the LORD, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.”

In context, the Messianic wedding banquet comes as a result of judgment upon OC Israel for her breaking the old covenant Torah (cf. Isa. 24:5). This makes no sense in the Amillennial paradigm because all the Mosaic Law was supposed to have been fulfilled and passed away at the cross.

The Messianic wedding banquet comes when OC Jerusalem is judged with her city becoming a “heap of rubble” (cf. Isa. 25:2). Again this points to an “in time” and local event and not an end of time or global destruction and renewal.

Therefore, Jesus is using Isaiah 24-25 consistently and accurately to demonstrate that the Messianic wedding banquet and resurrection would be fulfilled in AD 70 when OC Israel would break Torah, was judged, and her city and Temple were left in a heap of rubble.

Context of Isaiah 65:12-14

12I will destine you for the sword, and all of you will fall in the slaughter; for I called but you did not answer, I spoke but you did not listen. You did evil in my sight and chose what displeases me.” 13Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “My servants will eat, but you will go hungry; my servants will drink, but you will go thirsty; my servants will rejoice, but you will be put to shame. 14My servants will sing out of the joy of their hearts, but you will cry out from anguish of heart and wail in brokenness of spirit.

Here we are told that God was going to judge OC Israel “by the sword” and their fathers “in full” measure. But at the same time would save a remnant along with the Gentiles (cf. Roms. 10:20—chapter 11).

In that day of judgment, the remnant of believing Jews and Gentiles would feast at the wedding supper and be called by a new name (an everlasting NC name – the New Jerusalem) while OC Israel would not feast, starve and would be remembered no more. This is in line with the “soon” AD 70 coming of the Lord throughout the book of Revelation. In Revelation 19-21, while the Church (the transformed Israel of God) feasts at the wedding feast, OC Israel not only starves, but is actually feasted upon by the birds of the air.

Putting it All Together “Bridging the Gap”

The Analogy of Faith or Analogy of Scripture Hermeneutic: Teaches Scripture interprets Scripture, and Scripture cannot contradict Scripture.

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 (Mt. 8; 22; 25) = Wedding or wedding feast, end of the age, and parousia fulfilled by AD 70.
B (Isa. 25:6-9) = The wedding feast & resurrection are fulfilled together “in that day.”
C (1 Cor. 15) = The resurrection and end of the age are fulfilled at the parousia.

If A bears some relation to B…

Jesus in A (Mt. 8; 22; 25) uses B (Isa. 25:6-9) to teach that His eschatological wedding feast would be fulfilled at His parousia to close the end of the OC age in AD 70.

…and B bears the same relation to C,…

Paul uses B (Isa. 25:6-9) in C (1 Cor. 15) to teach that the resurrection would take place at Christ’s parousia and at “the end [of the age].”

…then A bears it to C.

Both Jesus in A (Mt. 8; 22; 25) and Paul in C (1 Cor. 15) use a common source B (Isa. 25:6-9) to teach the resurrection will be fulfilled “at the end [of the OC age]” parousia event.

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.

The ONE Parousia/Second Coming, Eschatological Wedding, End of the Age and Resurrection event of A (Mt. 8; 22; 25), B (Isa. 25:6-9) and C (1 Cor. 15) was fulfilled in AD 70.

Premise #1: Since it is true that Jesus taught the wedding feast of (Mt. 8; 22; 25) would be fulfilled at His parousia to close the OC age in AD 70 (Postmillennialists now agree with Full Preterists).

Premise #2: And since it is also true that Jesus in (Mt. 8; 22; 25) came to fulfill (Isa. 25:6-9) (Amillennialists and Full Preterists agree).
Premise #3: And since it is also true that Paul teaches Jesus’ parousia would fulfill the resurrection of (1 Cor. 15) (all agree).

Premise #4: And since it is also true that the end of the age, the end, parousia and resurrection of (Mt. 8; 22; 25) and (1 Cor. 15) are the same event (Amillennialists and Full Preterists agree).

Conclusion: Then it is also true that the wedding feast, parousia, the end of the OC age and resurrection of (Mt. 8; 22; 25), (Isa. 25:6-9) and (1 Cor. 15) were fulfilled in AD 70. (Full Preterism Synthesis)

When we harmonize what Postmillennialists are teaching when it comes to the eschatological wedding feast and a spiritual resurrection taking place in AD 70 at Christ’s parousia, with what other Futurists are teaching on this being THE ONE consummative event for the Second Coming, resurrection and wedding to occur at the end of the age —- we get Full Preterism. This will become apparent as well when studying the parable of the wheat and tares along side of Daniel 12 which will be next and Part 5 of this series.

To Listen or View This Series:  

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/

My First Lecture of the 2017 PPW Conference Part 3: The Problems For Postmillennialism -Wedding and Resurrection (Jn. 3-5)

In John 3, Matthew 3 and Mark 1 we learn that John the Baptist is one of the groomsmen or “friend of the groom” (Paul is the other) that is preparing the hearts and way of the remnant of Jerusalem for the restoration and reformation that is coming in an “at hand” harvest judgment and salvation.  Jesus was baptized not because of any sin He needed to repent of, but so He could fulfill the prophets — as the Messianic Groom, King and High Priest. Those that were being baptized during the transition period were communicating that they agreed to be betrothed and married to Jesus as Messiah.

John is baptizing in the “desert” which is where the Messianic meeting and betrothal period was said to take place. This being on one side of the Jordan is also communicating that God’s messianic second exodus was ready to begin. Israel must prepare her heart before she can enter the Father’s New Covenant heavenly home/kingdom/land.

Baptism also represented that the Church was corporately dying and rising from the Old Covenant age and glory into the “about to come” New Covenant age and glory. They were to be baptized “for” (Greek eis– or with a view to obtaining) “the remission of sins” at Christ’s Second Appearing (as the coming messianic Great High Priest and Groom) that would “in a very little while” “restore” or transform Israel (Acts 2:38; Acts 3:20-23; Heb. 9:15-28—10:37; Rms. 11:26-27; Lk. 21:27/Mt. 24-25).

John 4 and the Woman at the Well

As John 3 introduces and begins preparing the hearts of Judah (one sister) to her messianic groom, John 4 is a depiction of Israel (now the half-breeds of the Samaritans assimilated in the Assyrian captivity) being introduced to her messianic groom.

In John 4, Jesus meets a Samaritan woman at the same well and at the same time (“midday”) that Jacob met his wife Rachel (Gen. 29:7 / John 4:6). We are told she has had five husbands (4:18). I believe God providentially ordered and orchestrated this woman’s life and circumstances of having five previous husbands, to match the history of Israel so as to give a deeper meaning as to when Messiah would meet her and her people in a coming wedding/salvation.  Allow me to explain what I mean…

After Israel was divorced through the Assyrian captivity, we are told in 1 Kings 17:30-31 that there were five groups that settled in Samaria, each worshipping their own pagan gods: The Babylonians worshipped Marduk; the men of Cuth worshipped Nergal; the men of Avva worshipped Nibhaz and Tartak; the men of Sepharvaim worshipped their city gods; and King Hadad worshipped Anath. So they broke covenant by physically intermarrying with these foreigners and spiritually they became married to their false gods. Because of this, the Jews of Jesus’ day considered the Samaritans defiled and unclean. In Jewish law and custom, a woman may be divorced up to two or three times at the most. Anymore divorces and remarriages than two or three, the woman would be considered socially immoral or unclean. Therefore, Samaria, like the woman at the well, had five husbands and per the Jews, both her and her people would be considered immoral and unclean. But God in His tender mercy, now stood before her and her people, as their true husband, ready to fulfill His promise that in Israel’s “last days” He would once again betroth and marry her to Himself.

In John 4 Jesus stands as one greater than Jacob, in that He not only gives living water, but He will be the Husband that will be able to unite the divided worship and people of the Samaritans and Jews into one people (or Bride) again and bring them to worship and feast at Mount Zion (cf. Isa. 25:6-9).

He can make what was once considered unclean and defiled – clean again. Just as Jesus had cleansed 10 lepers and made them go to the priest to undergo inspections and ceremonial baptism. This was done in order to now declare they were clean and that they were undergoing a change in social status so as to be embraced back into the covenant community.

John 4 and the Harvest Motif

One source I was reading said that “the sixth month of the year which on the Hebrew calendar is called Elul.  Like most of month’s in the Hebrew calendar, the name is not Hebrew, but was brought by Judah from the Babylonian captivity. Elul ( ‫אֱלוּל  ) is actually an Akkadian word that means harvest, and according to Jewish tradition, the word is an acronym for אֲנִי לְדוֹדִי וְדוֹדִי לִי – “Ani L’dodi V’dodi Li” – “I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine . . .” (Song of Solomon 6:3). Jesus is connecting the coming eschatological wedding with the harvest motif when He instructs the disciples on the meaning of the woman bringing the town to hear Him teach and the time of harvesting has come (John 4:35-38).  The Samaritans will be apart of God’s harvest and resurrection promises – as foretold in the OT.

In 1 Corinthians 15 Jesus is the Firstfruit of the Jewish firstfruits of the coming resurrection harvest. The land of Israel is the threshing-floor, God’s winnowing fork was already in His hand, and the harvest would take place at the sound of a trumpet at the gathering into the Kingdom at the end of the Old Covenant age – at Christ’s Second Coming (Mt. 3:10-12; Mt. 13:39-43/Dan. 12;2-3; Mt. 24:30-31).  This would be the time of the resurrection “hour” which is also picked up in John 5.

The “already and not yet” of the coming eschatolocial “hour” in John 4-5

There are three concepts that connect John 4 and 5 together with Daniel 12 and they are:

1).  The coming “hour.”

2).  The receiving of “eternal (resurrection or harvest) life.”

3).  The chiastic structure of John 4-5 on this coming “hour” of “eternal life.”

The Old Greek (OG) Septuagint (LXX) of Daniel 12:1, 4 reads:  “And at that hour…” “the hour of the end.

Now let’s connect the “already and not yet” and the (OG) LXX of Daniel 12:1-4 with the chiastic structure of John 4-5 concerning this coming “hour”:

A).  John 4:21: “…[T]he hour is coming (“not yet”), when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.

        B).  John 4:23: “…[T]he hour cometh, and now is

        (“already), when the true worshipers shall worship the

Father in spirit and in truth.”

        B).  John 5:25:  “…[T]he hour is coming and now is

        (“already”), when the dead shall hear  the voice of the

Son of God: and they that hear shall live.

A).  John 5:28: “…[T]he hour is coming (“not yet”), in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice…”

(Special thanks to Jerald Davis for pointing out the chiasm structure here).

During the Earthly Ministry of Christ or Pentecost (AD 26-30) – the “already”

The true worshipers would worship the Father in spirit and in truth (receiving eternal life).

The dead would hear the voice of the Son of God, and live (receiving eternal life).

Fall of Jerusalem (AD 70) – the imminent “not yet”

God’s worshipers would no longer worship Him in Jerusalem (because they received eternal life and entered and ascended to the New Jerusalem / Mount Zion).

All who were in the graves would hear His voice (because they received eternal life and entered and ascended to the New Jerusalem / Mount Zion).

During the Earthly Ministry of Christ or Pentecost (AD 26-30) – The “Already”

  • Daniel 12:1: “And at that hour…”
  • John 5:25: “…an hour is coming and now is…”

Fall of Jerusalem (AD 70) – The Imminent “Not Yet”

  • Daniel 12:1: “And at that hour…”
  • John 5:28: “…for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice,”

During the Earthly Ministry of Christ or Pentecost (AD 26-30) – The “Already”

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

Fall of Jerusalem (AD 70) – The Imminent “Not Yet”

  • Daniel 12:2: “Many of those who sleep in the width of the earth will arise [anatesontai]…some unto eternal life and others to reproach…and to eternal shame.”
  • John 5:29: “and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection [anatasin] of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection [anatasin] of judgment.” (also related:  1 John 2:18: “Dear children it is the last hour…” and Revelation 14:7:  “…the hour of His judgment has come”).

Postmillennial Partial Preterists are now teaching that the coming resurrection “hour” of Daniel 12:1-4 had an “already and not yet” progressive resurrection of Israel and the Church which climaxed in a spiritual resurrection of the dead and transformation in AD 70.

They also teach that the coming eschatological “hour” of John 4 was fulfilled in AD 70 along with 1 John 2:18 and Revelation 14:7.  But based upon the chiastic structure of John 4-5 connecting them with the SAME coming “hour” of “eternal life” in Daniel 12:1-4, it is pure eisegesis to isolate John 5:28-29 and claim it is a different “hour” 2,000+ years away that involves a different kind (biological) of resurrection, judgment and reception of eternal life.   John described the resurrection and judgment of the dead in Revelation 20:1-15 as an “already and not yet” resurrection that would be fulfilled “shortly” and Christ’s “soon” Second Coming event (Rev. 1:1—22:6-7, 10-12, 20).

The Apostle John did not have TWO eschatological already and not yet “hours” — this is a bogus invention of Postmillennialists who want to try and honor the Bible’s clear teaching on imminence on the one hand, but on the other, make it null and void due to their creedal “traditions.” 

The NT teaching on the resurrection is this:

*  There was an evangelistic resurrection or salvation of the soul taking people out of death and darkness into life and light of eternal life.

*  There was a corporate and covenantal resurrection by which the old covenant Israel/body was being changed/transformed/being raised into the new covenant Israel/body roughly during AD 30 – AD 70.

*  There was a resurrection of souls out from among Hades/Abraham’s Bosom to inherit eternal life in God’s presence.

*  This resurrection was from (and an overcoming of) “the [spiritual] death” that came from Adam the very same day he sinned against God.

Orthodox Partial Preterists such as Kenneth Gentry need to give exegetical and logical reasons why the resurrection of John 5:28-29 is a literal biological resurrection to take place at the end of time when they affirm with Full Preterism that:

  1. The resurrection in the immediate context is spiritual (John 5:24-27). The spiritual voice (through the gospel) produces spiritual resurrection (Jesus in vss. 28-29 is not dealing with a literal voice and biological resurrection).
  1. The eschatological “not yet” coming “hour” of (John 4) is referring to AD 70.
  1. The resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 was fulfilled spiritually in AD 70 (Jesus referencing it in John 5:28-29).
  1. Jesus elsewhere teaches that the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 would be fulfilled at the end of the old covenant age in AD 70 (Matthew 13:39-43; Matthew 24:3, 30-31, 34).
  1. John’s eschatological last “hour” in (1 John 2:17-18) and “hour” of judging the dead in (Revelation 14:7) was fulfilled in AD 70.

Gentry’s progressive Partial Preterism continues to lead his readers into the Full Preterist movement since he continually will not respond to our book and arguments directed towards him.  Selah.  He deserves the criticism from other futurists that his hermeneutics “lead to Full Preterism.”

John the Baptist in Matthew 3 and John 3 is the “friend of the bridegroom” who was introducing Judah to her last day’s messiah / groom. They were preparing their hearts in faith and undergoing a betrothal baptism with a view to the coming restoration/resurrection/remission of sins promises contained in the law and prophets.

In John 4 the messiah is being introduced to His last day’s bride of Israel (the lost and scattered 10 tribes who had become the Samaritans). Though she had been unfaithful and had gone through 5 husbands, messiah would make her clean and faithful to Himself and marry her again.

While I dealt with the betrothal “already and not yet” aspect to Israel’s baptism and her coming change of status in AD 70, below are some other NT betrothal concepts.  Let me first point out that there are four phases to the Jewish betrothal:

  • The wedding arrangement.
  • The betrothal ceremony.
  • The betrothal preparation or transition period (usually one year).
  • The secret arrival of the groom, seven days of consummation and wedding feast.
  1. The Wedding Arrangement

This was usually done between the father of the groom and the father of the bride.  Sometimes this was done when the groom and bride were still children.  In eternity past the Father chose His sheep or the Church as the Bride for His Son (knowing/loving them by name) and the Son gave His life as the purchase price or dowry for them (John 10:11-29; Ephes. 1:4-11; 5:25; Rms. 8:29; 1 Pet. 1:2, 18-19; 1 Cor. 6:19-20).

A written contract or covenant was created which addressed the groom and brides responsibilities in the marriage (again food, clothing and sexual pleasure).  In Jesus’s sermon on the mount (the anti-type of Ex. 19-24), He comforts His bride by telling her that she won’t have to worry about food and clothing as long as she seeks Him and His Kingdom first (Mt. 6:25-34).  If she hungers and thirsts after His righteousness and if she keeps herself pure, she will be fed full of His righteousness and see God (Mt. 5:6, 8) at the consummation.

  1. The Betrothal Ceremony

The Cup of Wine – The groom would pour his potential wife a cup of wine (which represented blood or a oneness of flesh and covenant) and if she drank from it, she agreed to become his wife – or to become one flesh with him (cf. John 6; Matt. 26:17-30).  There was also a celebratory meal the followed the betrothal ceremony (again communion).  In AD 70 and beyond, the Church celebrates this cup of the new covenant or communion “a new [spiritually] in the Kingdom” or perhaps in the form on an ongoing wedding feast celebration of thankfulness for His incredible gift of eternal and resurrection life.

Baptism – I have addressed Jesus as the groom meeting Judah in John 3 and Matthew 3 and them undergoing the ceremonial baptism.  The baptism for the bride symbolized that she was undergoing a change in status over the next year into a maturing process from daughter to a wife.  Roughly from AD 26-30–AD 70 the Church/Bride was undergoing a baptism in which She was dying to the OC age/man and rising into the life of the NC age/man, or dying to the OC system/husband and being betrothed and rising into her status of being married to Christ (Rms. 6-7).  The baptism was a covenant ceremony that was “for” (eis – with a view to”) Christ’s Second Coming to give the “remission of sins” and “restore all things” (Acts 2-3).

There were Gifts Exchanged – The groom would give the bride a seal, pledge, or confirmatory gifts of his love to assure her that he would come again and receive her and consummate the marriage.  Jesus gave the early church the gift of the Holy Spirit and the miraculous as confirmatory signs that He would return and consummate the marriage with her “face to face” (cf. Jn. 14; Acts 2:1-43; 1 Cor. 1:5-8; 13:12; Ephs. 1:13-14).

The only “gifts” the bride could offer was her faith and repentance.  But Scripture tells us that in reality even these were gifts given by God so there would be no grounds for boasting and to demonstrate that salvation is of the Lord (Acts 5:31; 11:18; 2 Cor. 7:9-10; 2 Tim. 2:25; Ephs. 2:8-10).

There was a Ceremonial Meal – Which sealed and brought an end to the betrothal ceremony (cf. John 6:54-59; Matt. 26:17-30; 1 Cor. 11:24-26; Acts 2:1ff.).

In Acts 2 the disciples were celebrating Pentecost which was also known as the “Feast of Harvest” or the “Day of First Fruits”, and it was a feast during which the people brought as an offering the first fruits of their grain harvest to thank God, as well as to express their trust that He would bless the rest of the coming harvest. So here in Acts 2 you have the closing of the betrothal ceremonial meal and the parting gift given by the groom – the giving of the gift of the Holy Spirit and the charismata.   In the book of Acts you also have the gift of the Holy Spirit being given and filling the Samaritans and Gentiles with the charismata demonstrating that they too are a part of the bride of Christ.

  1. The betrothal preparation or transition period (usually one year).

Going to Prepare a Room – The groom would have already gotten his father’s permission to build a room or honeymoon suite onto his father’s house where he would then consummate his love for his bride. The groom would announce that he was “going to prepare a place” for her and would “come again when it was ready” (cf. John 14:2-3).  The Father’s “House” is His Temple, and the “rooms” the side-rooms. The Holy Spirit was sent to form Christ in Her and transform Her into His image, whereby He and the Father could abide within Her.

Only the Father Knew the Time of the Wedding – When the groom was asked when the wedding would take place, he replied that “only his father knows the time” (cf. Matt. 24:36; Acts 1:6-7). This “hour” (Mt. 24:36) was fulfilled at Christ’s coming in AD 70 as many Partial Preterists admit.

There Were up to Two Groomsmen – John the Baptist is one groomsman (the “friend of the bridegroom”) while the Apostle Paul is the other — calling the Gentiles into Israel’s New Covenant marital blessings and betrothing the Church as a chaste virgin (2 Cor. 11:2).

The Bride Wore a Veil – The bride would wear a veil to show that she was spoken for during this period.  Individually the OC veil was being taken off when one heard the gospel and began to see Christ’s face (2 Cor. 3-4), but corporately and covenantally, it wouldn’t be taken off fully until the wedding night when She came “face to face” with Her husband when He came for her  “soon” (1 Cor. 13:10-12/Rev. 21-22:4-7).

The Bride Prepared her Wedding Garment – The bride over the next year had the responsibility to consecrate herself and make her own Wedding Garments and Keep Them Clean – During the transition period the eschatological bride is putting off the garments of the old man and putting on Christ the new man. She is seeking and longing for the wedding day when she will be further clothed with the house/temple from heaven and with immortality. She is keeping herself pure and making sure there are no spots and wrinkles in her wedding garment (Ephs. 5:25-27; 2 Cor. 4-5/Rev. 21; Isa. 52:1; 1 Cor. 15:53-54; Rev. 19:7-8).

  1. The secret arrival of the groom, seven days of consummation and wedding feast.

With a Shout and Sound of a Trumpet – When the groom would come with his party he would come with a “shout” (I’m guessing his friends would shout, “the groom is coming”) and the sound of a trumpet.  This trumpet sounded in Jesus’ “this generation” at His Second Coming in AD 70 (Mt. 24:30-31, 34 / 1 Thess. 4:15-17 / 1 Cor. 15 / Rev. 10-11).

Sexual Consummation – Some sources suggested that previously there was an agreement that when the groom came for the bride, they could sexually consummate the marriage at the bride’s father’s house.  Other’s suggested the consummation took place at the groom’s father’s house.  Either way, after the coming for the bride, the groom would take the bride to his father’s house where there would be more sexual consummation and a honeymoon lasting seven days.

 Wedding Feast – During these seven days, a celebratory wedding feast was taking place whereby the guests wore the garments the groom’s father had provided (demonstrating they had been invited) and at which time the bride would wear her glorious wedding garment (Isa. 25:6-9/Mt. 8:10-11/Mt. 22:1-14; Rev. 19 & 21; Isa. 52:8/1 Cor. 13:12/Rev. 22:4).

And at the wedding in AD 70 and beyond in the NC age, He fulfills all aspects of the marital covenant as He is the Churches “bread from heaven” (John 6), the “Hidden Manna,” (Rev. ), we have have been clothed in His righteousness and immortality (1 Cor. 15:53-54), and we are “face to face” with Him and His banner over us is love (1 Cor. 13:12/Rev. 22:4).

 Summary and Connections Between the Wedding Feast, Harvest and Resurrection

In John 3-5 the “already and not yet” of the wedding motif is connected with the eschatological “already and not yet” motifs of harvest and resurrection.  Partial Preterists such as Kenneth Gentry arbitrarily tell us that the “already and not yet” coming eschatolocial “hour” of John 4 was fulfilled between AD 30 – AD 70, but when Jesus uses the same phrases of the coming “already and not yet” eschatological “hour” in John 5, that somehow is turned into 2,000 years and counting time frame. But one can only arrive at this conclusion based upon the creeds and not the text.

Since Scripture does not separate Israel’s last days eschatological motifs of wedding, harvest and resurrection, and since we appreciate Partial Preterists such as James Jordan, Kenneth Gentry, and Gary DeMar finally admitting the resurrection of the dead in Daniel 12:2-3 was fulfilled spiritually in AD 70 (and yet claim we await another physical resurrection at the end of time), when will they begin to openly teach TWO NT betrothals, weddings, and wedding feasts – one spiritual in AD 70 and one at the end of time?  Consistency to their hermeneutic demands it.  We will wait and see.  Again it is more than inconsistent for Postmillennial Partial Preterists to criticize Premillennial Dispensationalists for teaching TWO eschatological resurrections and TWO weddings, when in fact their faulty double vision hermeneutic does the same!

To Listen or View This Series:  

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. 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 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/

My First Lecture at the 2017 PPW Conference Part 2: The Problems For Postmillennialism – God’s Divorce, Re-marriage and NC Betrothal

Introduction

 In Part 2 of this series, we will begin by examining the various steps and phases contained within a Jewish betrothal/marriage process.  From there we will look at God’s OT betrothal and marriage to Israel, God’s divorce and putting to death of Israel and then His promises of a coming New Covenant betrothal and marriage to the Church (the remnant, Samaritans and Gentiles).

 Jewish Views of Betrothal and Marriage 

A Jewish betrothal or marriage period would begin with the groom presenting the bride and her father with a ketubah or covenant which would include the dowry price. The covenant would include that the groom would provide food, clothing, and sexual satisfaction to the bride, and that she would not seek these from any other or give her husbands provisions to another man.

The groom would pour his potential wife a cup of wine (which represented blood or a oneness of flesh and covenant) and if she drank from it, she agreed to become his wife – or to become one with him.

During this time the groom and the bride would be baptized (a ritual called mikvah) based upon their new status and the covenant they agreed to. The bride was in a transition state from being under the headship of her father to her new husband.

The bride would wear a veil to show that she was spoken for and would take it off when she consummated her marriage union with her husband.

The groom would give the bride “gifts” as a confirmatory token of his love that guaranteed he indeed would return for her.

When people would ask the groom when the wedding was to take place, he would answer, “Only my father knows” for the decision was in his hands.  When all the father’s provisions and plans were set to take place, he would then give his word to his son to go and get his wife.

The groom was to go and “prepare a home” or honeymoon suite onto his father’s house.

The betrothal period could last up to a year and there could be up to two groomsmen that would mediate issues between the bride and groom during this time.

When the father decided it was time, the groom came with his party with a “shout” and the sound of a trumpet to get his bride. She and her bridesmaids were to always be prepared for the journey to the groom’s father’s house by having lamps and oil next to their beds. When the groom did come to the house of the bride’s father, often times it was agreed upon that the consummation would take place there. A bloody sheet would be hung the next day indicating and proving she was a virgin.

From there the groom’s party and the bride’s party would travel to the groom’s father’s house where they would engage in a seven-day honeymoon period.

The celebratory wedding feast would follow.  There were usually two aspects to the wedding invitation – one that you agreed to come, and then the other at a latter time indicating when the feast would take place.

The reader at this point is buzzing with NT references to fill in the above concepts.  I’ll do just that in a bit.  But first let’s see where we might find the betrothal process in the OT and review God’s marriage, divorce and promises of remarriage

God Married Israel – Exodus to Entrance and Possession of the Land

Israel’s Betrothal Period

According to Hosea 2:15, Jeremiah 2:2, and Ezekiel 16:3, God’s marriage covenant begins with Him delivering Israel from Egypt and extends to her entering the land of Canaan. The betrothal period probably begins as far back as God approaching and expressing interest in Father Abraham and his descendants in Genesis 12-22. But due to unbelief, there is a delay in the honeymoon period or in reaching the Father’s House which would be entering, taking possession of all the land, and establishing the Temple.  Conquering the land and establishing the Temple would equate to consummation.

The marriage match and betrothal begins with God approaching Father Abraham in Genesis 12-22. In these chapters God seeks to marry Abraham’s offspring by creating a great nation or bride through him miraculously. Abraham agrees to fulfill his part of the covenant by moving to the land of Canaan and believing that God is capable of raising his son Isaac from the dead in order to fulfill God’s promise. The covenant sign of the coming marriage is ratified in blood (oneness) through circumcision. It will take many years before the marriage takes place.

Moses and Aron and then Moses and Joshua are the groomsmen mediating and preparing the bride for God.

Again the coming marriage is ratified in blood through the Passover lamb delivering the bride from the slavery of Egypt.

The bride undergoes a baptism through the Red Sea symbolizing her coming change of status from a daughter to a coming wife.

The insurance or dowry price for the bride seems to be both the blood of the Passover lamb and the land of Canaan.

In Exodus 19-24 we see a contract of marriage and an agreement taking place.  The betrothal ceremony included a feast and this is what we see when the 70 elders and Moses (representing Israel) eat a mean with God at Mount Saini — confirming the covenant.  Others see this as the actual wedding and Israel’ saying “I do” and perhaps the wedding feast?  Possible, but I tend to think we are still in the betrothal period at this point.

The marital gifts may be the Law and the Prophets and the confirmatory miracles worked through them.   There were roughly 65 years of miracles performed through Moses and Josuah, and then another 65 years or so of miracles from Jesus’ birth to His parousia in AD 70 performed by the foundation of the Church – the Apostles and Prophets.

Again, because of Israel’s unbelief, the journey to the Father’s house (Canaan) to consummate the marriage is delayed.

Review of Israel’s Marriage to God and a Coming New Covenant Marriage Under Messiah

 The ancient marriage contract was based off of Exodus 21:10-11 and Ezekiel 16

In Exodus 21:10-11 we learn that the law stated after taking a second wife, a husband remained obligated to fulfill his marital covenant to his first wife which was threefold: 1. feed, 2.  clothe, and 3.  satisfy her sexually. If he neglected to fulfill his covenant with the first wife, she was “free to go” (and marry another). The man’s role was to financially provide the wife with food and clothing and she was expected to help prepare meals, make clothing, satisfy her husband sexually, and not to give these to any other man. It was debated on how long one could refrain from sex to his or her partner – some Rabbis said one week, others said two. If the man failed to meet his covenant obligations in these three areas, the wife was “free to go” and marry another. If the wife sought a combination of these three conditions of the covenant from another man or gave her husbands provisions to another man, she would be stoned or divorced by the husband.

God is Faithful to the Covenant

In Psalm 132:13-14 we see God faithful to His marital covenant when it says that the Lord ‘desires’(sexually) Jerusalem, and that he ‘clothes’ her priests, and ‘satisfies her poor with food’.

While Hosea 2:3-13 informs us that God gave Israel food and clothing, Ezekiel 16:10, 13 states that He did this in abundance: “I clothed you with an embroidered dress and put leather sandals on you. I dressed you in fine linen and covered you with costly garments.” “Your food was fine flour, honey and olive oil.”

Even during the wilderness wandering God miraculously gave manna as food, caused their sandals to not wear out, and provided His intimate presence in their midst through the cloud and tabernacle.

When the Kingdom is eventually split the marriage is described as God being faithfully married to two adulterous sisters (Israel and Judah).

But Since Israel is Unfaithful to the Covenant, God Divorces Her While He Remains Faithful to Unfaithful Judah

In Ezekiel 16 we not only learn of God’s faithfulness as a husband, we also learn of Israel’s unfaithfulness as a wife in that she takes the costly cloth and food God provided for the both of them and she uses it to make clothing for her idols and gives the food as a sacrificial offering to them. She also withholds her affection from God and commits adultery with these idols and false gods – thus violating all three aspects of the marital covenant. In Hosea we learn that since Israel has abused God’s marital provision, He will cause her to fall prey to famine and nakedness (Hos. 2:3-13).

In Isaiah 50 and Hosea 1 we are informed that God never gave Judah a certificate of divorce (as He did to unfaithful Israel) and therefore He remained married to her.  For after all Messiah would come through her.  God did judge her unfaithfulness through the Babylonian captivity, which is described not as a divorce, but a temporary separation.

Judah’s actual divorce according to Hosea 6:7f. would come in Israel’s last days when at the same time a remnant would be saved / transformed or remarried.  The divorce would be through captivity and slavery just as Israel had gone through a divorce when God caused the Assyrians to take them captive.  This time God would send the Idumean and Roman armies to desolate, cause her to fall by the sword and be taken captive in AD 70.  In both cases the divorce is a national and covenantal death/destruction.  In the OT law the unfaithful wife of a Priest was to be both stoned and burned.  In Revelation, the unfaithful Harlot City of Babylon (OC Jerusalem where Jesus was slain 11:8) is both destroyed by stoning and burned while the NC marriage with the Church or New Jerusalem is consummated and the feast enjoyed.  All this would be fulfilled “shortly” in AD 70 (Rev. 1:1—-22:6-7, 20).

There is a promise of remarriage and unity of the two into one bride or Nation again in Israel’s “Last Days”

Hosea and the OT prophets message is about God divorcing and killing (spiritually and covenantally) Israel through the Assyrian captivity with a promise of remarriage and resurrection coming for her in her last days (not the last days of the Church age) under Messiah.  Hosea, Jeremiah and Ezekiel prophesy that in the “last days” and in “the day of Jezreel,” Israel and Judah would once again be united into a single nation or wife under the New Covenant that Messiah would bring in and therefore they once again would call God “my husband” (Hos. 1:11; Hos. 2:14-23; Jer. 3:18; Ezek. 37:15-6).  It would be at this time that Isaiah predicted that Israel would see God/her Groom “eye to eye” or “face to face” (Isa. 52:8).

The doctrine of the eschatological marriage is interconnected with the time of the resurrection.  The destruction (killing and divorce) of OC Jerusalem takes place when her “power is completely destroyed” (Dan. 12:2-7).

In Part 3 of this series we will look at Jesus as the Messianic Groom beginning to introduce and fulfill His betrothal/marriage/resurrection promises to Israel (who became the Samaritans) and OC Jerusalem and how He begins uniting the two into one NC bride.

To View or Read  This series:

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/

My First Lecture af the PPW 2017 Conference Part 1: The Problems For Postmillennialism – My Approach and Methodology (Analogy of Faith)

I am in the process of turning my 2017 PPW lectures on The Problems for Postmillennialism into an article series.  After that, I will be turning them over to be put into a book (along with some of my material in HD).  I am hoping to have some co-authors in the book as well – but I’m waiting on that possibility.

My Approach

 I will be implementing and following five major premises in critiquing Postmillennial Partial Preterism when it comes to Jesus’ teaching of the eschatological wedding feast, the parable of the wheat and tares and His teaching in the Olivet Discourse.  These are as follows:

Premise #1 –  The Analogy of Faith or Analogy of Scripture Hermeneutic.  Scripture teaches us (and the creeds teach us), that Scripture interprets Scripture and Scripture cannot contradict Scripture.

Premise #2 –  Since #1 is true, basic mathematics and logic can be used such as 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.

Premise #3 – Since Christ came to fulfill every “jot and tittle” of the law and prophets, and Paul’s “one hope” centered around him preaching no other things except that which could be found in the law and prophets, when Jesus or a NT authors quotes or echo’s an OT passage, it should be addressed and then it’s context should be developed.   

Premise #4 – While OT prophecy does contain typology which may have more than one fulfillment, the NT however is the full or anti-type “in Christ” New Covenant fulfillment of those OT promises.  Therefore, the Second Coming, end of the age, judgment and resurrection of the living and dead along with the arrival of the New Creation do not have further typological, double or mixed fulfillments.

Premise #5 – The Holy Spirit has organically guided the Church in eschatology:  When combined, the classic Amillennial and Postmillennial Partial Preterist views actually FORM Full Preterism.

Premise #6 –  The WCF itself informs us that creeds and confessions have erred in times past and may continue to be wrong:  Therefore, since the creeds are in error on the time and nature of fulfillment concerning the Second Coming, Judgment and Resurrection of the living and dead and the arrival of the New Creation, they must be revised to align themselves with Scripture.

Premise #7 –  This may take considerable time.  Related to #3 and #4, since the Reformed doctrine of forensic justification was a relatively new doctrine (prior to Luther it was not taught for 1,500 years), it may take the Church (through the Holy Spirit) considerable time to formulate a Biblical position or synthesize (“Reformed and always reforming”) it’s views on any given doctrine to make it Biblical and consistent.  If it took the Church 300 years to formulate it’s view on the deity of Christ and the Trinity and it took 1,500 years for the doctrine of forensic justification to emerge, it cannot logically and historically be denied that Full Preterism can be (and we believe is) the organic development emerging from the Church in the last 100 years.

Introduction & Overview of Postmillennialism’s Problems

Let me briefly give a summary of some of the hermeneutical and theological problems contained within Postmillennialism that caused me to leave that system.

Double Trouble

 While Postmillennialists such as Kenneth Gentry have criticized Dispensationalism for teaching TWO two comings of Jesus and TWO resurrections for the dead (due to it’s TWO plans for the Church and Israel), Gentry and Postmillennialism have created in essence the same problem for itself.  In essence Postmillennialism has created TWO “already and not yet” NT eschatons where the Bible only teaches there is one.  Full Preterists and other systems have been critical (and rightly so) of this false teaching:

  1. Does the NT teach there is ONE or are there TWO Great Commissions to be fulfilled (Mt. 13:37-38; 24:14; 28:18-20/Mrk. 16:15-17, 20; Acts 1:8)?!? The classic Amillennial view would agree with Full Preterism in that this is ONE eschatological event to be fulfilled at the end of the age, while Postmillennialism would see TWO fulfillments, one in AD 70 and another at the end of world history.
  1. Does the NT teach there is ONE or are there TWO comings of the Son of Man per Mt 16:27-28; 24:27, 30-31, 25:31/1 Thess. 4-5/1 Cor. 15; Rev. 1:1—22:20)?!? The classic Amillennial view would agree with Full Preterism in that this is ONE eschatological event to be fulfilled at the end of the age, while Postmillennialism would see TWO fulfillments, one in AD 70 and another at the end of world history.
  1. Does the NT teach there is ONE or are there TWO end of the age resurrections and judgments of the living and dead per Mt. 13:39-43/Dan. 12:2-3, 13/1 Cor. 15/Rev. 11; 20/1 Pet. 4:5-7)?!? The classic Amillennial view would agree with Full Preterism in that this is ONE eschatological event to be fulfilled at the end of the age, while Postmillennialism would see TWO fulfillments, one in AD 70 and another at the end of world history.
  1. Does the NT teach there is ONE or are there TWO eschatological weddings or wedding feasts connected to ONE or TWO resurrections (Isa. 25:6-9; Mt. 8:11-12; Mt. 22:1-14; Mt. 25:1-13; Rev. 19-21)?!? The classic Amillennial view would agree with Full Preterism in that this is ONE eschatological event to be fulfilled at the end of the age, while Postmillennialism would see TWO fulfillments, one in AD 70 and another at the end of world history.
  1. Does the NT teach there is ONE or are there TWO arrivals of the New Creation or passing away of heaven and earth per Mt. 5:17-18; 24:35; 2 Peter 3; Rev. 21-22; Rms. 8:18-23YLT?!? The classic Amillennial view would agree with Full Preterism in that this is ONE eschatological event to be fulfilled at the end of the age, while Postmillennialism would see TWO fulfillments, one in AD 70 and another at the end of world history.

Postmillennialism Continues to Concede Texts and Views to Full Preterism

  1. Matthew 5:17-18 – John Brown and Postmillennialists such as DeMar believe that the “heaven and earth” here represents the OC system which passed away in AD 70. If this is true, then “ALL” the “jots and tittles” of the promises contained in the law and prophets were fulfilled at this time (including the resurrection of Isa. 25:6-9; Hos. 13 and Dan. 12).
  1. Matthew 24-25 – Postmillennialists such as Gary DeMar and Keith Mathison believe the OD cannot be divided and therefore the coming of Christ in both chapters were fulfilled spiritually in AD 70. Full Preterism harmonizes the correct view that the coming of the Son of Man in the OD is the Second Coming event, and the progressive Postmillennial view that it was fulfilled spiritually in AD 70.
  1. Matthew 13:39-43 – Postmillennialists Peter Leithart and Joel McDurmon believe the parable of the wheat and tares was fulfilled in the AD 30 – AD 70 “generation” and at the end of the OC age in AD 70. Reformed theology teaches this is the time frame for the millennium at which time the judgment and resurrection takes place.  Therefore, the judgment and resurrection was fulfilled at the end of the OC age in AD 70 (see next point).
  1. Daniel 12:2-3, 13 & Revelation 20 – Postmillennialist James Jordan believes there was a spiritual, progressive, corporate and covenantal resurrection for Israel and the Church between AD 30 – AD 70. At Christ’s parousia in AD 70 righteous souls were raised out of Abraham’s Bosom to inherit eternal life and reign with Christ on thrones.  Just a side note – Jordan has basically stolen the Full Preterist view of the resurrection and not given us the credit!  He also believes AD 30 – AD 70 was a “kind of a millennium” while Postmillennialist Sam Frost believes it was the millennium (but is constantly changing his views or uncertain of them).  If the resurrection and judgment of Daniel 12:1-4 was fulfilled spiritually in AD 70 and it IS the judgment and resurrection of Revelation 20:5-15, then Revelation 20:5-15 contain events that were “about to take place” or be fulfilled in John’s day (Rev. 1:19YLT—Rev. 22:6-7, 20).
  1. Romans 8:18-23YLT – Postmillennialist John Lightfoot believed the creation groaning and the decay in this passage have nothing to do with the physical planet and the second law of thermal dynamics, but rather man groaning inwardly for the redemption coming in Christ. Gary DeMar believes this glorification of the Church (and thus contextually the redemption of the body) was “about to be” (Greek mello in 8:18YLT) fulfilled at Christ’s imminent coming in AD 70.  Reformed theology teaches Romans 8:18-23 is the “salvation” that would be “at hand” for “all Israel” (13:11-12 and 11:26-27) and stemming from the redemption and coming of Christ in Jesus’ generation (Lk. 21:27-28).  We of course agree with these connections and the inspired AD 70 time frame they generate.
  1. Romans 11:26-27 – Postmillennialists Gary DeMar and James Jordan believe “all Israel” was “saved” in AD 70. This demonstrates that AD 70 was much more than a physical deliverance, salvation and redemption, but one that resulted in the taking away of sin (vs. 27).  DeMar is also on record as teaching the New Covenant was “consummated” when the Old passed away in AD 70.  Again, this would teach a soteriological and inward salvation and redemption for the Church was achieved in AD 70 (as Full Preterism teaches).
  1. 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 – Postmillennialist Mike Bull (and Milton Terry whom Postmillennialist draw from), teach and have taught, that Paul is following Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 24:30-31 here, and therefore this passage finds it’s fulfillment in AD 70.
  1. Acts 1:11 – Again Postmillennialist Mike Bull (and Milton Terry whom Postmillennialists draw from), correctly teach this coming of Christ is the coming of Christ in Matthew 24-25 that was fulfilled in AD 70.
  1. The “Last days” – Postmillennialists such as DeMar and McDurmon believe this NT phrase is descriptive of Israel’s last days from AD 30 – AD 70 and not for the Church stretching out to the end of world history. The Reformed Church teaches the millennium is present during the “last days” and encapsulates the periods between Christ’s first and second comings – at the end of which is the arrival of the ONE judgment and resurrection of the dead and arrival of the New Creation.
  1. “This age and the age to come” – Postmillennialists such as DeMar and McDurmon believe “this age” is the OC age and the “age to come” is the NC age.  Between AD 30 – 70 was the transition of these ages when the OC age passed away and according to DeMar the New was “consummated.”  Again, the Reformed Church using the two age model has correctly taught that the “this age” and “age to come” is the millennial period – at the end of which is the arrival of the ONE Second Coming, Judgment and Resurrection of the dead, followed by the ONE arrival of the New Creation.  The Holy Spirit has used both of these orthodox views to form the truly orthodox (that is straight or consistent) view of Full Preterism.

Postmillennialism is Inconsistent in it’s Use of Imminence and Recapitulation

  1. Since Gentry now believes the judgment and resurrection of Daniel 12:1-4 was fulfilled spiritually in AD 70, and yet all commentators agree Paul in Acts 24:15YLT is appealing to this judgment and resurrection. Therefore, there is no reason why Paul was not teaching this passage was “about to be” fulfilled spiritually in AD 70!  Even if mello here was to be translated “will” instead of “about to be,” there is no reason why Paul does not have the spiritual fulfillment in AD 70 in view (per Gentry’s view).  And since Gentry appeals to BDAG to argue that mello here should not be translated as “about to be,” where is Gentry’s support for BDAG informing us that mello in Romans 8:18YLT should be translated as the glory that was “about to be revealed in” the Church?!?  After all here in Romans 8:18 we have the same Greek construction as Revelation 1:19 which Gentry argues should be translated with imminence and pointing to AD 70.
  1. Postmillennialists claim to take the imminent time texts literally and AD 70 fulfillments are not supposed to have double or mixed fulfillments.  They also claim there are two different eschatology’s – one for Israel in AD 70 and an Adamic one that will be fulfilled at the end of world history.  Therefore, Romans 16:20 creates a problem for them in that it uses an imminent time text “shortly” and appeals to the Adamic eschatology of Genesis 3:15.  Apparently Satan’s final “crushing” (Gen. 3:15/Rms. 16:20) was not fulfilled “shortly” in AD 70 per Paul, but rather is turned into “a” crushing or one of many in redemptive history. Of course that is not what the text teaches and exegetes over the centuries have been correct to connect this crushing and final defeat of Satan in Romans 16:20 with the coming of Christ in Matthew 24-25:31-46 and Revelation 20:10—22:6-12, 20.  Therefore, the final crushing and judgment of Satan was fulfilled “shortly” and Christ’s “soon” spiritual coming in AD 70.
  1. Kenneth Gentry appeals to the imminent time texts and recapitulation within Revelation to prove chapters 1-19 and 21-22 were fulfilled in AD 70. But then this hermeneutic is abandoned and not applied to Revelation 20.  Why?   Because he believes the creeds are “infallibly certain” to teach we are still in the millennium and at the end of this period there will be a physical resurrection and a physical passing away of heaven and earth.  Gentry knows he can’t cross this line and therefore based upon the traditions of men (not exegesis or following his own hermeneutic), he becomes more than inconsistent and arbitrary.  We agree with Gentry that Revelation 1-19; 21-22 was fulfilled “shortly” in AD 70 while also agreeing with Amillennialists such as Kistemaker and Poythress, whom point out that if these chapters were fulfilled in AD 70, then sRevelation 20:5-15 must also have been fulfilled “shortly” in AD 70.  This is because the time texts in Revelation 1—22 form bookends or an inclusio to the entire prophecy.  Not only this, but Revelation 20 recapitulates the same judgment scene as the other chapters.  The time texts and recapitulation in Revelation (and in Matthew 24-25) sink Gentry’s bogus and creedally arbitrary hermeneutic.

Postmillennialists Can Never Agree on Which Texts Were Fulfilled Spiritually in AD 70 and Which One’s Allegedly Are Physically Fulfilled at End of World History

Anyone reading the exegesis of Postmillennialists such as Kenneth Gentry, Gary DeMar and Mike Bull on such passages as Daniel 12:1-4; Matthew 24-25; 1-2 Thessalonians; 1 Corinthians 15 or 2 Peter 3 can readily see an inconsistent or contradictory hermeneutic within this system regarding Christ’s parousia.  Personal pronouns such as “you” and “we” point to an AD 70 fulfillment or they don’t!  The coming of Christ in Matthew 24-25 was fulfilled in AD 70 and forms the eschatology of Paul, Peter and John in ALL of 1-2 Thessalonians; 2 Peter 3 and ALL of Revelation or it doesn’t!  And since the OD forms NT eschatology, we can use “parallels” and “similar language” between the OD with other NT eschatological texts or we can’t.  And when we read the classic Amillennialist and Historic Premillennialist and the way they connect these passages, we are further led into Full Preterism.

The Earthly Kingdom “Manifestation” of Dominion Postmillennialism is Carnal, Violent and “Heretical” 

We agree with Amillennial creeds and theologians that see the earthly kingdom fulfillments/manifestations of Premillennialism and Postmillennialism to be on par with “Jewish dreams” and therefore “heretical.”

Postmillennial Dominionism believes the following must take place before Jesus’ THIRD coming can be fulfilled:

  1. The biology of man is in the process of changing whereby he will live to be in the 900’s before Christ’s coming can be fulfilled.
  1. Animal anatomy is in the process of changing whereby their desires to eat meat will end and they will only desire to eat hay and grass. Likewise, poisonous snakes will no longer desire to bite children when they fall into their dens or when children desire to play with them.
  1. The rights of unbelievers to vote are to be taken from them. In certain circumstances unbelievers and even Christian “heretics” that do not conform to Dominion Postmillennialism and it’s understanding of the Scriptures will be stoned to death (or shot in the head) when they disobey or disagree with these standards.

Ken Talbot is Sam Frost’s mentor and an important board member for DeMar’s American Vision.  He stated, in a lecture entitled, “The History of Creation, Part 5” (26:20 – 28:35):

“WHEN we are in charge [i.e., when people who agree with Ken Talbot ‘s Theonomic Postmillennialism are in charge], WHEN the law of God is there, folks it’s either obey, or get hung.  Take your choice.  Well, you can throw stones if you want to (that Gary North’s view), but I think there’s better ways of doing it than throwing stones.  Just quick executions…because God says you’re incorrigible.  And you’re a blight on society, and you are a road bump that we don’t want to deal with in our kingdom.  And you’re gone.”

Of course Jesus nor any NT author EVER taught ANY of these Dominion Postmillennial concepts to be connected with an earthly manifestation/fulfillment of the kingdom.  And they most definitely didn’t say they were necessary before His THIRD coming could be fulfilled.  These violent, seeing double of everything and science fiction theories arising from Postmillennialism makes the violent, seeing double of everything and science fiction of Dispensationalism look like nothing!  Yet Postmillennialist’s such as Gary DeMar claim the real problem today is the un-bibical and science fiction eschatology Dispensationalism?!?  And he won’t adopt Full Preterism because he likes the un-bibical and science fiction “worldview” of Dominion Postmillennialism?  Wow, go figure!

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/