House Divided Chapter Four Partial Preterist Keith A. Mathison Vs. Full Preterist Michael J. Sullivan Part 11 All Israel Will Be Saved Romans 11:26

House Divided Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology A Preterist Response to

When Shall These Things Be?

Chapter Four

The Eschatological Madness of Mathison or How Can These Things Be?

Part 11 – All Israel Will be Saved Romans 11:26 

 Michael J. Sullivan

Copyright 2009 and 2013 – All rights reserved.  No part of this
book (or article) may be reproduced in any form without permission
in writing from the publisher or author of this chapter/article (Vision Publishing
or Michael J. Sullivan), except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical
articles or reviews. 

 

All Israel will be Saved

 

Mathison argues: In Romans 11:25–26, Paul seems to be saying that ethnic

Israel as a people will be saved. This has not happened yet (199–200).

 

Response:

 

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.[1] 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 argu-

ment 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)

 

2. 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)

 

3. 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)

 

4. 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.

 

Mathison neglects to interact with other 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.[2]

Why was not the view of DeMar and Jordan one of the many “possible

interpretations” within Mathison’s eschatology of uncertainty?

 

It has now been 4 years since I have responded to Keith A. Mathison’s chapter The Eschatological Time Texts in the NT” in our book House Divided Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology A Preterist Response to When Shall These Things Be?  For me Mathison’s excuse for not responding (“I have been too busy”) has expired.

Partial Preterist Mr. Gary North, has said that if one side of the debate ceases to respond to the others arguments then the one who has responded last (thus silencing the other) in essence has won the debate (my paraphrase).   He has also written of dispensational scholars and their inability to keep up with postmillennial works and critiques, “Like a former athlete who dies of a heart attack at age 52 from obesity and lack of exercise, so did dispensational theology depart from this earthly veil of tears.  Dispensational theologians got out of shape, and were totally unprepared for the killer marathon of 1988.” (Greg L. Bahnsen, Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., HOUSE DIVIDED THE BREAK-UPOF DISPENSATIONAL THEOLOGY (Tyler, TX:  Institute for Christian Economics, 1989), Publishers Foreword, xx.).  In the same book DeMar claims that “Any theological position divided against itself is laid waste” and “shall not stand” and is guilty of “Theological Schizophrenia” (Ibid. 349-350).  Apparently Mr. Mathison was not prepared for the killer marathon of 2009 and since that time has been too busy engorging himself from the profits P&R provided him and is simply too scared and out of shape to open our book let alone read and respond to my critique and response to him?  And we document the “House Divided” “Theological Schizophrenia” and contradictory approach Reformed eschatology has sought to use against us let alone the contradictions (and yet at the same time progressive views moving towards Full Preterism) that are within Mathison’s writings alone. 

Therefore, I have decided to post my chapter response to his online (in small parts) in hopes that both the Futurist and the Full Preterist communities will contact him for an official response.  If no response continues to come, then I will allow him to be judged by the same standard that his own postmillennial partial preterist colleagues have set up, and accept that he is unable to respond and has lost our debate.



[1] Kenneth Gentry, Robert Strimple, Ed. Craig Blaising, Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1999), 112–118, 133–142. 

[2] Gary DeMar, All Israel will be saved:  Notes on Romans 11:26, American Vision http://americanvision.org/1234/all-israel-will-be-saved-notes-on-romans/#.UG3auVGJr3A James B. Jordan, The Future of Israel Re-examined, July 1991. BIBLICAL Horizons, No. 27 July, 1991

 

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House Divided Chapter Four Partial Preterist Keith A. Mathison Vs. Full Preterist Michael J. Sullivan Part10 No More Death, Tears and Pain Revelation 21

House Divided Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology A Preterist Response to

When Shall These Things Be?

Chapter Four

The Eschatological Madness of Mathison or How Can These Things Be?

Part 10 – No More Death, Tears and Pain Revelation 21 

Michael J. Sullivan

Copyright 2009 and 2013 – All rights reserved.  No part of this
book (or article) may be reproduced in any form without permission
in writing from the publisher or author of this chapter/article (Vision Publishing
or Michael J. Sullivan), except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical
articles or reviews. 

 

Death, Tears, and Pain

 

Mathison and Kistemaker and all other futurists reason that because

death, tears, mourning, crying, and pain still exist today, Revelation 21:4

must not be fulfilled (196–197, 203, 250–251).

 

Response:

 

In Revelation 21:4 (YLT) we read that “the death shall not be any more.

Every Reformed commentator agrees that this verse, along with 1 Corinthians

15:54–55, is describing a future-to-us end of “the death,” and

that “the death” refers to the death that came through Adam in Genesis

2:17. The Douay-Rheims translation renders that verse: “But of the tree

of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat. For in what day so ever

thou shalt eat of it, thou shalt die the death.” The Good News Translation

makes it clear when “the death” would take place: “. . . except the tree that

gives knowledge of what is good and what is bad. You must not eat the fruit

of that tree; if you do, you will die the same day.

 

The death” that came through Adam the very day he sinned was

spiritual and not biological. (See David Green’s discussion of this verse

in his response to Strimple.) The abolition of biological death was never

the purpose of Christ’s redemptive work. In 1 Corinthians 15:55–57

(YLT) we read, “Where, O Death, thy sting? Where, O Hades, thy victory?’

And the sting of the death is the sin, and the power of the sin the

law; and to God—thanks, to Him who is giving us the victory through our

Lord Jesus Christ.” Whenever Paul uses the definite article “the” in front

of “law,” he is referring to Israel’s old covenant Torah. As 1 Corinthians

15:57 indicates, the Law was not abolished at the cross; but it was “soon

to disappear, through the power of the Cross, at Christ’s Parousia in the

end of the old covenant age (Heb. 8:13–10:37).

 

Because “the death” 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).

 

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. And

God is no longer known only in Judea, but in all the earth, ‘their voice hath

gone forth, and the knowledge of Him hath filled all the earth’” (iv. 3).

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. We have been redeemed from the world-body of Sin. Now we live

and reign with Christ in the new covenant world, wherein dwells the

Righteousness of God.

 

It is again noteworthy that 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. The reason for this is that the majority consensus among

all brands of commentators is that the “crushing” of Satan in Romans

16:20 is a direct reference to the final “crushing” of Satan as predicted

in Genesis 3:15 and Revelation 20. Manifestly, the judgment and wrath

that came in AD 70 was not merely “a” “minor” judgment. It was “the”

judgment. It was the crushing of Satan.

 

But Kistemaker and Mathison 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).

It has now been 4 years since I have responded to Keith A. Mathison’s chapter The Eschatological Time Texts in the NT” in our book House Divided Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology A Preterist Response to When Shall These Things Be?  For me Mathison’s excuse for not responding (“I have been too busy”) has expired.

Partial Preterist Mr. Gary North, has said that if one side of the debate ceases to respond to the others arguments then the one who has responded last (thus silencing the other) in essence has won the debate (my paraphrase).   He has also written of dispensational scholars and their inability to keep up with postmillennial works and critiques, “Like a former athlete who dies of a heart attack at age 52 from obesity and lack of exercise, so did dispensational theology depart from this earthly veil of tears.  Dispensational theologians got out of shape, and were totally unprepared for the killer marathon of 1988.” (Greg L. Bahnsen, Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., HOUSE DIVIDED THE BREAK-UPOF DISPENSATIONAL THEOLOGY (Tyler, TX:  Institute for Christian Economics, 1989), Publishers Foreword, xx.).  In the same book DeMar claims that “Any theological position divided against itself is laid waste” and “shall not stand” and is guilty of “Theological Schizophrenia” (Ibid. 349-350).  Apparently Mr. Mathison was not prepared for the killer marathon of 2009 and since that time has been too busy engorging himself from the profits P&R provided him and is simply too scared and out of shape to open our book let alone read and respond to my critique and response to him?  And we document the “House Divided” “Theological Schizophrenia” and contradictory approach Reformed eschatology has sought to use against us let alone the contradictions (and yet at the same time progressive views moving towards Full Preterism) that are within Mathison’s writings alone. 

Therefore, I have decided to post my chapter response to his online (in small parts) in hopes that both the Futurist and the Full Preterist communities will contact him for an official response.  If no response continues to come, then I will allow him to be judged by the same standard that his own postmillennial partial preterist colleagues have set up, and accept that he is unable to respond and has lost our debate.

Posted in Uncategorized

House Divided Chapter Four Partial Preterist Keith A. Mathison Vs. Full Preterist Michael J. Sullivan Part 9 The Imminent Liberation of Creation Romans 8:18-23

House Divided Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology A Preterist Response to

When Shall These Things Be?

Chapter Four

The Eschatological Madness of Mathison or How Can These Things Be?

Part 9 – The Imminent Liberation of Creation Romans 8:18-23 

 Michael J. Sullivan

Copyright 2009 and 2013 – All rights reserved.  No part of this
book (or article) may be reproduced in any form without permission
in writing from the publisher or author of this chapter/article (Vision Publishing
or Michael J. Sullivan), except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical
articles or reviews. 
 

 

The Creation Groaning

 

On pages 196–197, Mathison makes the following argument:

The epistles of the New Testament speak of the restoration of

creation both as something that has already begun and as something

that will be completed only in the future. Paul, for example,

explains that “the form of this world is passing away” (1 Cor. 7:31;

cf. 1 John 2:17). Yet, according to Paul, the creation awaits its full

deliverance from the effects of sin. . . (Rom. 8:19–25). The full

restoration of creation is still future (see Heb. 2:8; 2 Pet. 3:7–13).

. . . [R]edemption has to do with more than the spiritual side of

creation. God will fully redeem the physical creation as well.

 

Response:

 

For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing

of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility,

not of its own will, but because of Him who subjected it, in

hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery

to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.

For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains

of childbirth together until now. (Rom. 8:19–22)

 

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.[1]

 

And again,

 

The Gentile world shall in time be delivered from the bondage of

their sinful corruption, that is, the bondage of their lusts and

vile affections, (under which it hath lain for so long a time,) into a

noble liberty, such as the sons of God enjoy. If it be inquired how

the Gentile world groaned and travailed in pain, let them who

expound this of the fabric of the material world tell us how

that groaneth and travaileth. They must needs own it to be a

borrowed and allusive phrase. But in the sense which we have

pitched upon, the very literal construction may be admitted.[2]

 

Lightfoot is on solid ground here citing 2 Peter 1:4; 2 Corinthians

11:3; and 1 Corinthians 15:33. Not only is there lexical evidence to interpret

“vanity,” “corruption,” and “decay” as ethical and moral putrefaction

in the heart and mind of man, but contextually the passage has

nothing to do with hydrogen or oxygen or squirrels longing for a better

day when they won’t get hit by cars.

 

“The sufferings of this present time.” As much as I can relate to R.C.

Sproul Jr. losing his hair and gaining some weight around his midsection

(WSTTB, ix), Paul’s mention of the “sufferings” and “the redemption

of the body” have nothing to do with those kinds of issues. The

context of the “groaning” of the first-century Christians can be found in

the previous chapter. The sufferings Paul has in mind here were eschatological

—the birth pains that were to precede Christ’s return in AD 70

(Matt. 24:8; Rom. 8:22). They had to do with the last days persecutions

and with the saints of the universal church groaning under the tyranny

of Sin and Condemnation under the Law.

 

For Paul, Sin had produced “death,” but not physical death. Contrary

to Mathison’s assertions, “the body,” “death,” and “the flesh” in Romans

5–8 have nothing to do with the idea of men biologically dying as a result

of Adam’s sin. Paul’s concern is with corporate-covenantal Death, as even

some Reformed theologians teach.[3] “Bondage,” according to the immediate

context, had to do with groaning under the condemnation of the

Law (cf. Rom. 7:2, 7, 15).

 

The “redemption” associated with the coming of the Son of Man in

AD 70 entailed much more than a physical flight to the wilderness of

Pella, as some commentators have proposed. Appealing to the principle

of the analogy of Scripture, John Murray and other Reformed

theologians understand Paul in Romans 8 to be speaking of the same

“redemption” that Jesus discussed in the Olivet Discourse:

 

Now in Luke 21:28 . . . [t]his word ‘redemption’ (apolutrosin), when

used with reference to the future, has a distinctly eschatological connotation,

the final redemption, the consummation of the redemptive

process (cf. Rom. 8:23; 1 Cor. 1:30; Eph. 1:14; 4:30). Hence anal-

ogy would again point to the eschatological complex of events.[4]

The following chart confirms that the “redemption” of Christ’s disciples

in the first century in Luke 21:28 was the redemption of “the body

in Romans 8:18–23:

 

Romans 8

Olivet Discourse & Luke 17

 

Present sufferings (Rom. 8:17–18)

Suffering to come (Matt. 24:9)

 

Receive and share in Christ’s glory (Rom. 8:17–18)

 

Christ comes in glory (Matt. 24:30)

 

Glory will be “in” them (Rom. 8:18)

Kingdom will be realized “within”

at Christ’s return (Lk.17:21–37; 21:27–32)

 

Redemption and salvation – resurrection (Rom. 8:23–24; cf. 11:15–27; 13:11–12)

Redemption and salvation – resurrection

(Lk. 21:27–28; Matt. 24:13, 30–31/Matt. 13:39-43)

 

Birth pains together (Rom. 8:22)

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

 

This was “about to” take place (Rom. 8:18)

This would all happen in “this generation”

(Matt. 24:34)

 

  

On page 200 of WSTTB, Mathison expresses willingness to concede

that the imminence in Romans 13:11–12 was fulfilled in AD 70. The

passage reads:

 

. . . it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now

salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is

almost gone, and the day is at hand. . . .

 

But The Reformation Study Bible, of which Mathison is an editor, harmonizes

Romans 13:11 with Romans 8:23, correctly teaching that “salvation”

in that verse is not merely deliverance from persecution (as Mathison

theorizes in WSTTB): “salvation. Here in the sense of future, final

redemption (8:23).”[5] The connection between these two passages is made

even stronger when we allow the Greek word mello in Romans 8 to be

translated the way it is predominately used in the New Testament:

 

For I reckon that the sufferings of the present time are not worthy

to be compared with the glory about to be revealed in us. (Rom.

8:18, YLT)

 

It is more than arbitrary for partial preterists such as Gentry to

honor Young’s literal translation of mello in Revelation 1:19 when debating

Dispensationalists and Amimmennialists, but then not honor it

in Romans 8:18 when debating full preterists. Mello is used in the aorist

infinitive in both verses. Both the imminent glorification of the church,

the coming of the new creation, and the redemption of the body were all

“about to” take place! Gentry writes of mello in Revelation 1:19 (where

it is used in the aorist infinitive):

 

…this term means “be on the point of, be about to.” …According

to Young’s Literal Translation of the Bible, Revelation 1:19 reads:

“Write the things that thou hast seen, and the things that are, and

the things that are about to come [mello] after these things.”

The leading interlinear versions of the New Testament concur.

This is surely the proper translation of the verse.[6]

…when used with the aorist infinitive — as in Revelation 1:19

— the word’s preponderate usage and preferred meaning is:

“be on the point of, be about to. The same is true when the

word is used with the present infinitive, as in the Rev. 3:10.[7]

Unfortunately, none of the major translators cited above translates

Revelation 1:19 in a literal fashion.[8]

 

Where is Gentry’s disappointment when it comes to translators not

translating Romans 8:18 by the same grammatical standard?  

Especially since there are two other imminent Greek words

apokaradokia and apekdekomai for “eagerly waiting” within the

immediate context (vss. 19, 23).  At least partial preterist Gary

DeMar has tried to be more honest and consistent with a proper

translation of mello in Romans 8:18 citing Robert Young’s

Literal Translation of the Bible he writes: 

“Whatever the glory is it was “about to be revealed”…”[9]  We

appreciate the honesty on properly translating mello here as “about

to be revealed,” but contextually there is no ambiguity as to what

the imminent manifestation of this “glory” was – the liberation of

creation from its groanings and bondage, the full adoption of the

sons of God, and the “redemption of the body” (vss. 18-23).      

  

Interestingly enough though, according to Gentry and Mathison one of the things

that was “about to come after” John wrote Revelation 1:19 was the arrival

of the New Jerusalem and New Creation of Revelation 21:1ff.

Mathison and Gentry tell us in their other works that the time texts

in Revelation point to a near fulfillment of the passing of “the first heaven

and earth.” They point out that Revelation 21:1 is referring to the

passing of the old covenant “creation” in AD 70 and is a fulfillment of

Isaiah 65–66. Gentry even says:

 

The absence of the sea (Rev. 21:1) speaks of harmony and peace

within. In Scripture the sea often symbolizes discord and sin

(13:1–2; cf. Isa. 8:7–8; 23:10; 57:20; Jer. 6:23; 46:7; Ezek. 9:10).

Christianity offers the opposite: peace with God and among

humankind (Luke 2:14; Rom. 5:1; Eph. 2:12–18; Phil. 4:7, 9).

 

But then Mathison and Gentry assign an “expanded” meaning to 2

Peter 3, which discusses the same promises in Isaiah 65–66. They suggest

that Peter is addressing the geological “elements” of the planet while the

Apostle John, referencing the same Old Testament passage, is not.

 

This is not only arbitrary, it is amazing. If Gentry and Mathison

can give prophetic New Testament passages “expanded” meanings to fit

their eschatology, then they have surrendered their debate with Dispensationalists,

who constantly employ this strategy to force their eschatology

upon New Testament passages.

 

In Mathison’s section on the “Restoration of Creation” (195–197),

he appeals to the literal and global beginnings of Genesis 1–3 to point

out that preterists have interpreted “the end” in Romans 8 and in the

rest of the New Testament in an inaccurate way. But Mathison should

be open to considering the interpretations of Genesis 1–3 that are presented

by some within the Reformed tradition and by other futurists.

 

Combined, authors such as Augustine, Milton Terry, David

Snoke, Meredith Kline, and dispensationalist John Sailhamer teach

the following:

 

• Man was created a physical dying creature like all the plant

and animal life around him.

 

• The physics of the creation did not change after Adam sinned.

 

• Genesis 1–2 uses the Hebrew word eretz, which should be

translated as “land” 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.[10]

 

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.



[1] 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: A Paraphrase and Notes on the Epistles

of St Paul, Volume 2 (Oxford at the Clarendon Press, 1987), 789. 

[2] Ibid., 158–159 (emphases added).

[3] 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. I recommend

this book to any serious student of Reformed theology. 

[4] John Murray, Collected Writings of John Murray 2: Systematic Theology

(Banner of Truth Publications, 1977), 389

[5] The Reformation Study Bible, R.C. Sproul General Editor, Keith Mathison

Associate Editor (Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries, 2005), 1, 636. 

[6] Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., The Beast of Revelation, (Tyler, TX: Institute

for Christian Economics, 1989), 23–24.

[7] Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., Before Jerusalem Fell, (Tyler, TX: Institute for

Christian Economics, 1989), 141–142.

[8] Ibid., 141.

[9] Gary DeMar, Last Days MADNESS OBSESSION OF THE MODERN CHURCH, (Powder Springs, GA:  American Vision, 1999), 225.

[10] 61. John Owen, The Works of John Owen, 16 vols. (London: The Banner

of Truth Trust, 1965–68), 9:134–135. John Lightfoot, Commentary on the

New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica: Matthew – 1 Corinthians, 4

vols. (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, [1859], 1989), 3:452, 454. John

Brown, Discourses and Sayings of our Lord, 3 vols. (Edinburgh: The Banner

of Truth Trust, [1852] 1990), 1:170. John Locke, The Clarendon Edition of the

Works of John Locke: A Paraphrase and Notes on the Epistles of St Paul Volume

2, (NY: Oxford University Press, 1987), 617–618. R.C. Sproul, The Last Days

According to Jesus (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1998). Kenneth Gentry,

He Shall Have Dominion (Tyler TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1992),

363–365. Kenneth Gentry (contributing author), Four Views on the Book of

Revelation (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1998), 89. Gary DeMar, Last

Days Madness: Obsession of the Modern Church (Powder Springs: GA, 1999),

68–74, 141–154, 191–192. James B. Jordan, Through New Eyes Developing a

Biblical View of the World (Brentwood, TN: Wolgemuth & Hyatt, Publishers,

1998), 269–279. Crispin H.T. Fletcher-Louis (contributing author) Eschatology

in Bible & Theology (Downers Grove, Illinois: Inter Varsity Press, 1997),

145–169. Peter J. Leithart, The Promise of His Appearing: An Exposition of Second

Peter (Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 2004). Keith A. Mathison, Postmillennialism:

An Eschatology of Hope (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1999), 114,

157–158. N.T. Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress

Press, 1996), 345–346. N.T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God

(Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003), 645, n.42. Hank Hanegraaff, The

Apocalypse Code (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2007), 84–86. C.

Jonathin Seraiah, The End of All Things: A Defense of the Future (Moscow, ID:

Canon Press, 2002).

Posted in Uncategorized

House Divided Chapter Four Partial Preterist Keith A. Mathison Vs. Full Preterist Michael J. Sullivan Part 8 The Rapture 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17

House Divided Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology A Preterist Response to

When Shall These Things Be?

Chapter Four

The Eschatological Madness of Mathison or How Can These Things Be?

Part 8 – The Rapture 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 

 Michael J. Sullivan

Copyright 2009 and 2013 – All rights reserved.  No part of this
book (or article) may be reproduced in any form without permission
in writing from the publisher or author of this chapter/article (Vision Publishing
or Michael J. Sullivan), except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical
articles or reviews.
  

 

The Rapture

 

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” (194).

 

Response:

 

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 returned, as Christ

Himself promised would be the case in Matthew 16:27–28; 24:34.

According to Mathison, all of Paul’s “we,” “you,” and “our” statements

in 1 and 2 Thessalonians refer to Paul’s own first-century audience and

address Christ’s coming in AD 70—except for the statements in 1 Thessalonians

4 (“the rapture”).[1] Mathison decides that “we” in 1 Thessalonians

4 means something other than what it means everywhere else in

1 and 2 Thessalonians. Suddenly in chapter 4, “we” 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.

 

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.”

 

We can know that Paul’s words in 1 Thessalonians 4:14–17 are not

to be interpreted literally (a literal trumpet, etc.) because the Scriptures

tell us elsewhere not to interpret them literally. In Exodus 19 and 20,

the Lord came down in a cloud over Mount Sinai. He spoke with a loud

voice. There was the sound of a loud trumpet. And Moses met the Lord

on Mount Sinai. Then God established His covenant with His people.

The writer of Hebrews tells us that though the trumpet and the voice

of the old covenant were literal, the “trumpet” and the “voice” of the

new covenant are not literal (Heb. 12:18–19). Neither is the mountain

(Mount Zion) literal in the new covenant (Heb. 12:18, 22). Therefore,

neither is the cloud (which descended to cover the mountain) literal in

the new covenant.

                   

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.”

 

1 Thessalonians 4–5 & Matthew 24

 

For this we say to you by the word of the Lord . . . .

(1 Thess. 4:15)

 

Virtually every commentator and cross reference system parallels 1

Thessalonians 4:15–16 with Matthew 24:30–31 and 1 Corinthians 15:51–

52, and agrees that Paul is using Christ’s Olivet Discourse as the foundation

for his teaching concerning Christ’s Parousia throughout the Thessalonian

epistles. For example the Reformation Study Bible, of which

Mathison is Associate Editor, states of Matthew 24:31:

 

But the language of [Matthew 24:31] is parallel to passages like

13:41; 16:27; 25:31, 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.

 

Ironically, the parallels between Paul and the Olivet Discourse become

the clearest in the one chapter in 1 Thessalonians that Mathison

severs from the Olivet Discourse. Mathison admits the parallels between

1 Thessalonians 4 and 1 Corinthians 15 (193), but he avoids the obvious

parallels between 1 Thessalonians 4 and Matthew 24.

 

Reformed and Evangelical commentators such as G.K. Beale see

that in 1 Thessalonians 4–5, Paul is drawing from Jesus’ teaching in

Matthew 24.

 

That both [1 Thessalonians] 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. . . . [2]

 

Here are some of the parallels between Matthew 24 and 1 Thessalonians

4–5:

 

• Christ returns from heaven 1 Thess. 4:16 = Matt. 24:30

• with archangelic voice 1 Thess. 4:16 = Matt. 24:31

• with God’s trumpet 1 Thess. 4:16 = Matt. 24:31

• Believers caught up to be with Christ 1 Thess. 4:17 = Matt. 24:31

• Believers meet Christ in “clouds” 1 Thess. 4:17 = Matt. 24:30

• Exact time unknown 1 Thess. 5:1–2 = Matt. 24:36

• Christ comes like a thief 1 Thess. 5:2 = Matt. 24:43

• Unbelievers caught unaware 1 Thess. 5:3 = Matt. 24:37–39

• Birth pains 1 Thess. 5:3 = Matt. 24:8

• Believers are not deceived 1 Thess. 5:4–5 = Matt. 24:43

• Believers told to be watchful 1 Thess. 5:6 = Matt. 24:42

• Exhortation against drunkenness 1 Thess. 5:7 = Matt. 24:49

• Τhe Day, sons of light, sons of the day[3] 1 Thess. 5:4–8 = Matt. 24:27,

36–38

 

Beale goes on to write:

 

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).[4]

 

In a more recent work Beale now seems to lean in the direction 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.”[5]

 

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 now try and 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 deemed it orthodox to believe that the coming

of the Son of Man in Matthew 25:31 was not Christ’s “actual” Second Coming,

but was Christ’s going/coming in AD 30–70 and that the “end of the age” here is the

old covenant age ending in AD 70. But this then creates more thorny problems

for these men such as the marriage that follows Matthew 25:10.  How many times

does Christ in His Parousia consummate His marriage with the church in

Mathison’s view? 

 

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.”[6]  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[7] and

between Matthew 24 and 1 Thessalonians 5,[8] and then deny the obvious parallels

between Matthew 24 and 1 Thessalonians 4. But this is what partial preterists

such as Mathison do.

 

Gentry, to support his argument that 2 Thessalonians 2 was fulfilled

in AD 70, says that “Most commentators agree that the Olivet Discourse

is undoubtedly a source of the Thessalonian Epistles.[9] Unfortunately

Gentry’s sources of authority end up proving too much. For example,

both D.A. Carson and G. Henry Waterman make virtually the same parallels

between Matthew 24–25 and 1 Thessalonians 4–5 that we do.

 

To make matters worse, Gentry also 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.”[10]

 

But 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 and Revelation

20–21. Yet Mathison claims 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 Mathison and Gentry is that in their other writings

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 Scripture nullifies with

finality the arbitrary Scripture-dichotomizations of partial preterism.



[1] Mathison, Postmillennialism, 224–225. 

[2] 45. G.K. Beale, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series 1–2 Thessalonians

(Downers Grove, IL: Inter Varsity Press, 2003), 136. Copyright 2003 by

G.K. Beale. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press. PO Box 1400, Downers

Grove, IL 60515. www.ivpress.com. Some Partial Preterists are now agreeing

that 1 Thessalonians 4:15–17 took place in AD 70. One is admitting that

Gentry and Mathison are forced to “dodge and weave to put this passage into

our future.” Mike Bull, The Last Trumpet, http://www.bullartistry.com.au/

wp/2011/06/05/the-last-trumpet/

[3] If we translate astrape in Matthew 24:27 as the sun (instead of lightning)

coming from the east and shining to the west, then these parallels are

possible.

[4]  Beale, Ibid, 136–137.

[5] 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).

[6] Mathison, From Age to Age, 515.

[7] Mathison, Postmillenialism, 230.

[8] Ibid, 226.

[9] 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 1

and 2 Thessalonians,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 18:2 (June

1975); 105–113.

[10] 52. Kenneth Gentry, He Shall Have Dominion (Draper, VA: Apologetics

Group Media, 2009), 540

 

Posted in Uncategorized

House Divided Chapter Four Partial Preterist Keith A. Mathison Vs. Full Preterist Michael J. Sullivan Part 7 In Like Manner Acts 1:11

House Divided Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology A Preterist Response to

When Shall These Things Be?

Chapter Four

The Eschatological Madness of Mathison or How Can These Things Be?

Part 7 – In Like Manner Acts 1:9-11  

Michael J. Sullivan

Copyright 2009 and 2013 – All rights reserved.  No part of this
book (or article) may be reproduced in any form without permission
in writing from the publisher or author of this chapter/article (Vision Publishing
or Michael J. Sullivan), except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical
articles or reviews.
 

 

Like Manner

 

Mathison argues: Jesus ascended visibly and bodily. Then He vanished

from sight in a cloud (Acts 1:9). Acts 1:11 says that He will return

in the same manner that He departed. This has not happened yet

(184–188, 204). Therefore, Acts 1:11 is not yet fulfilled.

 

Response:

 

After speaking to His apostles about the kingdom over a period of

forty days, Jesus told them to stay in Jerusalem and to wait for the fulfillment

of the Father’s promise of the Holy Spirit, which Jesus said would

take place “not many days from now.” This prompted the disciples to ask

Him in verse six about the timing of the kingdom’s arrival. “Lord, are

you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” Jesus did not give

them a day or hour, but He reminded them in verse eight of the sign of

the Great Commission which had to be accomplished before He would

restore the kingdom to Israel (Acts 1:8; Matt. 24:3, 14). Mathison, ignoring

the immediate context, states:

 

The first thing that must be observed when we examine this account

is that no reference to time is connected with the prediction

of the return of Christ. (185)

 

However, in another book Mathison #2 admits:

 

The time frame 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.”[1]

 

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. Mathison’s contention that there are two Great Commissions

given in the New Testament—one fulfilled before AD 70 and

another that will be fulfilled before the allegedly yet-future Second

(Third) Coming—is altogether arbitrary. It is a position he is forced

to take because of his flawed, partial preterist framework—like his

doctrines of two “last days” in the New Testament, and of two future

“comings” of Christ in the New Testament, and of his divided

sections separated by 2000+ years in Matthew 24 and in Matthew

16:27–28 and in other Scriptures.

 

Mathison breaks again from the majority of Reformed, Evangelical,

and preterist theologians, who see one Great Commission in the Gospels

and in the book of Acts, instead of two. Mathison’s dichotomizing

approach to the Great Commission does not merit a serious rebuttal

and can be rejected out of hand.

 

Since the Second Coming is fulfilled after the Great Commission,

and since there is only one Great Commission, and since the Great

Commission was fulfilled in Christ’s generation, it follows that the Second

Coming was fulfilled in those days as well. The gospel was preached

to the world; “then” the end came (Matt. 24:14). The following

chart proves that the Great Commission was fulfilled in the first

century.

 

Prophecy

Fulfillment

“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be

preached in all the world [Greek ikumene] 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.’” [Greek oikumene] (Rom. 10:18)

 

“And the gospel must first be published among all nations.” [Greek ethnos] “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations.’” [Greek ethnos] “‘. . . I have commanded you;

and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.” (Mark 13:10; Matt. 28:19-20)

 

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

 

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

 

“…of the gospel, which has come to you, as it

has also in all the world [Greek kosmos], as is bringing forth fruit. . . .” (Col. 1:5-6)

 

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

 

“ . . . from the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature [Greek kitisis] under heaven, of which I, Paul became a minister.”

(Col. 1:23)

 

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

 

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

‘Their sound has gone out to all the earth/land [Greek ge], and their words to the ends of the world.’” (Rom. 10:18)

 

Prophecy had begun to be fulfilled: “And

they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues [Greek glossa], as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation [Greek ethnos] under heaven. (Acts 2:4-5)

 

Prophecy would be fulfilled “shortly”: “And

I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth/land [Greek ge], and to every nation [Greek ethnos], and kindred [Greek phile] and tongue [Greek glossa], and people.” [Greek laos] (Rev. 1:1; 14:6; cf. 10:6-7)  Satan was bound so that the Great Commission to the nations would be accomplished during the millennium (Rev. 20:3).

 

 

Therefore, I have proven that the in-like-manner Second Coming of

Christ was also fulfilled in the first century.

 

After commanding His disciples to take possession of the kingdom

through the Great Commission, Jesus ascended in a cloud, hidden from

the disciples’ sight (Acts 1:9). Mathison insists 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

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. 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).

 

Mathison errs when he says 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.”[2] 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).[3]

 

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).[4]

 

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 same

subject 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.[5]

 

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. 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”[6] that Christ returned on/in a cloud/clouds

in that generation.



[1] Postmillennialism, 117 (emphasis added). 

[2] From Age to Age, 459 

[3] 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.”

(See David Green’s response to Strimple Argument #11 in chapter

seven of this book.)

[4] Keith A. Mathison, Postmillennialism: An Eschatology of Hope (Phillipsburg,

NJ: 1999), 114 

[5] Milton S. Terry, A Study of the Most Notable Revelations of God and

of Christ (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 246-247.

[6] Milton S. Terry, Biblical Hermeneutic (Grand Rapids, MI:  Zondervan, 1990), 468, n.1 (emphases added).

Posted in Uncategorized

House Divided Chapter Four Partial Preterist Keith A. Mathison Vs. Full Preterist Michael J. Sullivan Part 6 The Coming of the Son of Man

House Divided Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology A Preterist Response to
When Shall These Things Be?

Chapter Four
The Eschatological Madness of Mathison or How Can These Things Be?
Part 6 – The Coming of the Son of Man
 

Michael J. Sullivan

Copyright 2009 and 2013 – All rights reserved.  No part of this
book (or article) may be reproduced in any form without permission
in writing from the publisher or author of this chapter/article (Vision Publishing
or Michael J. Sullivan), except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical
articles or reviews.
  

 

The Coming of the Son of Man

 

On pages 181–182, Mathison offers this argument: Whenever Jesus referred

to “the coming of the Son of Man,” He “seems to have been alluding to

Daniel 7:13–14,” which refers not to the Second Coming but to His ascension

to the heavenly throne of God to receive His kingdom. “ . . . [T]he possibility

must be kept open that Jesus wasn’t referring to his Second Advent

at all when he used this language. He may have been referring instead to

his ascension to the throne of God, his receiving of his kingdom, and the

judgment on Jerusalem that would prove he had received the kingdom

and was who he claimed to be. . . . ” It may be that “Jesus had very little to

say about his actual second coming.”

 

Response:

 

Let us assume for the moment that the premises of Mathison’s argument

above are true. Let us grant for the sake of argument that Daniel 7:13–14

refers to the Ascension of Christ, and that Christ was somehow alluding

to Daniel’s reference to His Ascension whenever He spoke of His future

coming in AD 70. Even if these premises are true, they in no way prove

that the coming of Christ in AD 70 was not “His actual second coming.”

Whenever Jesus spoke of the future coming of “the Son of Man,”

He could have been referring, as Mathison said, “to his ascension to the

throne of God [in Daniel 7:13–14], his receiving of his kingdom, and the

judgment on Jerusalem that would prove he had received the kingdom

and was who he claimed to be”; and at the same time, it could be that

His coming in AD 70 was also “His actual second coming.”

 

Mathison’s interpretation does not create an either/or choice. It

does not conflict with the “hyper-preterist” framework. “Hyper-preterists”

can embrace Mathison’s interpretation, wrong though it is, and

remain “hyper-preterists.” Mathison’s argument therefore is moot.

Though there is no need to refute Mathison’s explanation of Daniel 7:13,

I will briefly offer three other possibilities:

 

The presentation of the Son of Man to the Ancient of Days in Daniel

7:13 is perhaps a reference to Christ in His Parousia delivering up the

kingdom (“the saints”) to the Father (“the Ancient of Days”) in AD 70.

 

Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom

to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all

rule and all authority and power. (1 Cor. 15:24)

 

Or, as David Green has suggested, perhaps “the Son of Man” in Daniel

7:13 signifies the Body of Christ (the saints, “the fullness of Christ”)

in His Parousia (Eph. 4:13). In this view, the universal church (“the New

Man,” “the Son of Man”) was presented to Christ (“the Ancient of Days”)

and united with Him in the end of the age, in His Parousia in AD 70 (2

Cor. 4:14; 11:2; Eph. 5:27; Col. 1:22, 28; Jude 1:24).

 

My preferred interpretation is similar to that of F.F. Bruce. According

to the Old Greek Septuagint translation of Daniel 7:13, the Son of

Man came “as the Ancient of Days” on the clouds of heaven, not “to the

Ancient of Days.” This translation is in harmony with verse 22, which

says that it was the Ancient of Days Himself who came in judgment and

gave the saints the kingdom.

 

Also, the New Testament does not give the slightest hint that “the coming

of the Son of Man” on the clouds of heaven would be fulfilled in the

Ascension. And as Keil and Delitzch commented regarding Daniel 7:13-14,

 

…it is manifest that he could only come from heaven to earth.

If the reverse is to be understood, then it ought to have been

so expressed, since the coming with the clouds of heaven in

opposition to the rising up of the beasts out of the sea very distinctly

indicates a coming down from heaven. The clouds are

the veil or the “chariot” on which God comes from heaven to

execute judgment against His enemies; cf. Ps. 18:10f., 97:2–4;

104:3, Isa. 19:1, Nah. 1:3. This passage forms the foundation

for the declaration of Christ regarding His future coming,

which is described after Dan. 7:13 as a coming of the Son of

man with, in, on the clouds of heaven; Matt. 24:30; 26:64; Mark

18:26; Rev. 1:7; 14:14.[1]

 

I would agree with Keil and Delitzch that the context of Dan. 7:13 and

how the NT develops it, forms the foundation for the Second Coming

event with Him coming down from heaven in judgment upon His enemies

(who are upon the earth rising in opposition to Him) and not Him

going “up” at the ascension event.

 

It is also important to point out that John in the book of Revelation

alludes to Dan. 7:9, 13 in his description of Christ as being both the Son

of Man who comes on the clouds to judge those whom had pierced Him

(first century Jews) and as the eternal Ancient of Days in Rev. 1:7, 13-17.

Again the context is developing Christ’s future “soon” (Rev. 1:1) Second

Coming not His ascension.

 

Matthew 16:27–28

 

For the Son of Man is about to come in the glory of His Father with

His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.

Assuredly, I say to you there are some standing here who shall not

taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.

 

Not surprisingly, Mathison is the only author in WSTTB who

touched upon this key prophecy, and he offered no exegesis of it. Instead,

he threw it to the wind of the various speculative, futuristic in-

terpretations. Let us now demonstrate that Matthew 16:27–28 (and its

parallels, Mark 8:38–9:1; Luke 9:26–27) cannot be divided into two different

events, according to the typical futurist approach. As we can see

from the chart below, Matthew 16:27 is united to Matthew 16:28. Both

verses speak of the same timeframe and event that Jesus spoke of in His

undivided Olivet Discourse. 

 

Matthew 16:27-28 & Parallels

The Olivet Discourse

1. Christ comes in glory (Luke 9:26)

1. Christ comes in glory (Matt. 24:30)

 

2. Christ comes with angels (Matt. 16:27)

2. Christ comes with angels (Matt. 24:31)

 

3. Christ comes in judgment (Matt. 16:27)

3. Christ comes in judgment (Matt. 24:28-31;

25:31-34)

 

4. Christ and the kingdom come in power (Mark 8:38)

4. Christ and the kingdom come in power (Luke 21:27-32)

 

5. Some of the disciples would live (Matt. 16:28)

5. Some of the disciples would live (Luke 21:16-18)

 

6. Some of the disciples would die (Matt. 16:28)

6. Some of the disciples would die  (Luke 21:16)

 

7. Christ would be ashamed of some in His generation (Mark 8:38)

7. All of this would occur in His generation

 (Matt. 24:34)

 

 

For the Son of Man is about to Come

 

Young’s Literal Translation (YLT), the Darby Bible, Wuest’s Expanded

Translation of the New Testament, and Weymouth’s New Testament in

Modern Speech all translate Jesus’ return here as “about to come” or “soon to

come.” These translations reflect the consistent usage of the Greek word mello

in Matthew’s gospel, and its predominant usage in the New Testament.

Christ’s imminent coming in verse 27 is consistent with Christ’s coming in

the lifetime of “some” in the crowd who were listening to him in verse 28.

After having waited thousands of years for the coming of the Messiah and

His kingdom, the span of forty years (AD 30–70) was a relatively short time.

 

Verily I say unto you

 

Jesus uses the term “verily,” “truly,” or “most assuredly” 99 times

in the gospels. The Greek word is “amen,” and it means “absolutely,” (and its parallels in Mark and Luke)

really,” “may it be fulfilled.” It is never used to introduce a new subject.

Dispensational author and editor of another multi-authored book

seeking to refute preterism, Thomas Ice, says of Matthew 16:27 and 28

that these “are two separate predictions separated by the words ‘truly

I say to you.’”[2] But Mr. Ice fails to produce a single passage in which

Jesus’ phrase, “Verily I say unto you,” separates one subject from another.

To the contrary, the phrase always signals an amplification of the

previous thought.

 

Some standing here shall not taste of death until

 

Thomas Ice says of this verse: “A further problem with the preterist

view is that our Lord said, ‘some of those standing here . . . .’ It is clear

that the term ‘some’ would have to include at least two or more individuals.

. . . Peter notes that John only survived among the 12 disciples

till the destruction of Jerusalem” (Ice, Controversy, 88).

 

In other words, according to Ice, Jesus said that “some” would survive,

but the reality is that among His twelve disciples only John survived.

Ice’s argument would possibly have some validity if Jesus had

been speaking only to His twelve apostles; but He was not. According

to Mark’s account, “ . . . He called the crowd to him along with his disciples

and said . . . ” (Mk. 8:34–9:1). So much for Ice’s arguments.

 

Until they see the kingdom of God already come in power

 

According to Mark’s account, some of the disciples would not die until

they looked back on this event, knowing that the Lord and His kingdom

had come in power. (Literally, “until they see the kingdom of God having

come in power.”) According to Jesus, some of those who were listening to

Him that day would see His Parousia, look back on the event, and afterwards

die. Gentry concedes this point citing J.A. Alexander:

 

Here “come” is “not, as the English words may seem to mean, in

the act of coming (till they see it come), but actually or already

come, the only sense that can be put upon the perfect parti-ciple here

employed.”[3]

 

The Greek word here for “see” is eido. As with the English word,

eido not only refers to physical sight, it can also mean “perceive.”

Through observing with the physical senses, “some” of Jesus’ contemporary

audience would be able to look back on the destruction of the old covenant

kingdom’s temple and city in AD 70 and “perceive” that Christ’s kingdom

had arrived among and within them (Lk. 17:20–37; Col. 1:27; Jn. 14:2–3, 23, 29).



[1] Keil, C. F., & Delitzsch, F., Commentary on the Old Testament.

(Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2002), (Daniel 7:13-14), bold emphasis MJS. 

[2] Tim LaHaye and Thomas Ice, The End Times Controversy: The Second

Coming Under Attack (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2003), 87. 

[3] Kenneth L. Gentry Jr., He Shall Have Dominion (Tyler, TX: Institute

for Christian Economics, 1992), 215–216 (emphasis added).

Posted in Uncategorized

House Divided Chapter Four Partial Preterist Keith A. Mathison Vs. Full Preterist Michael J. Sullivan Part 5 Prophetic Telescoping Two Different Comings in Matthew 24-25?

House Divided Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology A Preterist Response to

When Shall These Things Be?

Chapter Four

The Eschatological Madness of Mathison or How Can These Things Be?

Part 5 – Prophetic Telescoping Two Different Comings in Matthew 24-25?

Michael J. Sullivan

Copyright 2009 and 2013 – All rights reserved.  No part of this
book (or article) may be reproduced in any form without permission
in writing from the publisher or author of this chapter/article (Vision Publishing
or Michael J. Sullivan), except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical
articles or reviews.
  

 

Prophetic Telescoping

 

On pages 167 and 180, Mathison presents the following argument:

Daniel 11:21–12:1 is one continuous prophecy. Verses 21–35 describe

the rule of Antiochus Epiphanes. The next verses, 11:36–12:1, describe

events that are unrelated to Antiochus Epiphanes. Yet there is no indication

of a subject change in the prophecy. Daniel thus prophesied events

that would be separated in time but he did not give any indication that

the two groups of events were to be so separated. It is possible that we

see similar “telescoping” in the Olivet Discourse. It could be that “Jesus

utilized the prophetic technique of telescoping two distant events into

one prophecy without much contextual indication of a change in subject.”

Matthew 24:34 could be a transitional verse. It could be that everything

before verse 35 occurred in Jesus’ generation (the great tribulation

and the destruction of Jerusalem) and that everything after verse 34

is yet to be fulfilled (the Second Coming and Last Judgment).

Daniel 12 1 Corinthians 15

Response:

 

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:

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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,” i.e., literally raptured into the clouds (Lk. 17:34–

36).[1] 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.[2]

 

But, if it can be believed, the confusion deepens further still. In

his book, Postmillennialism: An Eschatology of Hope, Mathison actually

implies that Luke 17:20–37 was all fulfilled in AD 70. His argument in

that book is that we can know that Jesus was probably speaking of the

destruction of Jerusalem in Luke 18:7–8 partly because “in the preceding

chapter (Luke 17:20–37), he speaks of the coming destruction of

Jerusalem in A.D. 70.”[3]

 

Based on his argument in Postmillennialism, Mathison has it that

when Jesus prophesied that the judgment in the days of the Son of Man

would be as the judgment in the days of Noah, and when He prophesied

that some would be taken and others left, Jesus meant those prophecies

to refer to the destruction of Jerusalem in Luke 17 and simultaneously

meant them to refer to the end of world history in Matthew 24. Yet

Mathison says he believes that Matthew 24 and Luke 17 contain the

same subject matter (WSTTB, 176). How can these things be?

 

Mathison’s many contradictory exegeses result in mind-boggling

conundrums. But the word of God on this matter is clear enough.

Luke, in Luke 17:22–37, mixes the events of Matthew 24:17–28 (first

section) with the events of Matthew 24:37–41 (second section). In so

doing, Luke unifies Matthew 24:17–41, confirming it to be one prophecy

that would be fulfilled in one set of events in one generation. In

contrast, “two-section” theorists violently break the prophecy in pieces

to conform it to the futurist paradigm. There is no question that this

theory is unworkable and that Luke saw no “telescoping” in the Olivet

Discourse. Selah.

 

As a matter of fact, in Mathison’s latest book, From Age to Age, he

abandons his two-section view of the Olivet Discourse, finally conceding

that the prophecy was fulfilled in the first century. He is also more

consistent in that book in his preterist interpretation of “the coming

of the Son of Man.” He now sees every reference to the coming of the

Son of Man as referring to Christ’s Ascension/Coming in AD 70. This

includes Matthew 25:31—the prophecy of the sheep and goats. Not one

church father interpreted Matthew 25:31 as having been fulfilled in the

first century. But Mathison does.

 

Mathison disagrees with the unified testimony of the universal

church. How then can he continue to anathematize us for disagreeing

with the unified testimony of the universal church?[4] Furthermore,

Mathison is out of step with the church fathers, and with the Reformed

community, and with “hyper preterists,” all of whom “stand shoulder

to shoulder” in opposition to him on this point. We all agree with the

church fathers that the promises of the coming of the Son of Man refer

to Christ’s Second Coming, and that we cannot separate the coming of

the Son of Man from 1 Thessalonians 4 and 1 Corinthians 15.



[1] Though Mathison implies that this prophecy will be fulfilled at the

end of world history, he is silent in all of his books as to its meaning. We can

only surmise that he believes it refers to the futurist “Rapture.”

[2] “Jesus’ reference to the vultures in [Matt. 24:28] refers to Jeremiah

7:33. Again He is using Old Testament judgment imagery.” Keith A. Mathison,

Dispensationalism: Rightly Dividing the People of God? (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R

Publishing, 1995), 142

[3] Postmillennialism, 213

[4] Mathison also changed in his use of the words “hyper-preterist” and
“hyper-preterism” in From Age to Age. He now uses the terms “full preterist”
and “full preterism.” 

 

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House Divided Chapter Four Partial Preterist Keith A. Mathison Vs. Full Preterist Michael J. Sullivan Part 4 All Things Fulfilled Luke 21:22

House Divided Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology A Preterist Response to

When Shall These Things Be?

Chapter Four

The Eschatological Madness of Mathison or How Can These Things Be?

Part 4 – All Things Fulfilled Luke 21:20-22

 Michael J. Sullivan

Copyright 2009 and 2013 – All rights reserved.  No part of this
book (or article) may be reproduced in any form without permission
in writing from the publisher or author of this chapter/article (Vision Publishing
or Michael J. Sullivan), except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical
articles or reviews.
 

 

All Things Written

 

In Luke 18:31, Jesus says that when He and His disciples go up to Jerusalem

(in about AD 30), “all things that are written by the prophets concerning

the Son of Man will be accomplished.” Mathison argues that since

the Second Coming did not occur at that time, it follows that when Jesus

says in Luke 21:22 that “all things written” will be fulfilled when Jerusalem

is destroyed in AD 70, He is referring only to prophetic predictions

that concerned the destruction of Jerusalem and not to all eschatological

prophecy in general (172).

 

Response:

 

Of course no one disagrees with Mathison’s observation that the context

of Luke 18:31 limits Jesus’ phrase of “all things” to prophetic material

pertaining to His passion.  But Mathison assumes what he needs to prove

when he assumes that the context of Christ’s coming in Matthew 24 is only

dealing with the fall of Jerusalem, and not His actual Second Coming

connected to all eschatological prophecy in general.  Later we will see

that Mathison is not in line with the creeds or the historic church when it

comes to what the Olivet Discourse actually covers. 

 

Gentry says that when Christ referred to the fulfillment of “all things

written” in Luke 21:22, He was referring to Old Testament prophecies

only, and that Christ therefore did not include the resurrection of all

men and the Second Coming in the term “all things written.”[1]  But Gentry

fails to understand that the resurrection of the dead was predicted in

the Old Testament. The Apostle Paul, who taught the resurrection of the

dead, taught “nothing but what the Prophets and Moses said was going

to take place” (Acts 26:21–23). Paul stated specifically that the Old Testament

predicted the resurrection of the dead (Acts 24:14–15; cf. Dan. 12:2-3; Isa.

25:8; Hosea 13:14). Therefore even if “all things written” in Luke 21:22

refers only to Old Testament prophecies, as Gentry says, it still includes

the resurrection of the dead, and therefore literally “all things written.”

 

In the book of Revelation, it is said from beginning to the end (Rev.

1:1; 22:6–7, 10–12, 20) that the prophecies of the book would be fulfilled

shortly.” Those soon-to-be-fulfilled prophecies included the Second

Coming, the resurrection of the living and the dead, the last judgment,

and the new heavens and the new earth—in other words, literally

all things written.”

 

Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:11, tells his first-century audience, “Now all these

things happened to them as examples [types], and they were written for our

admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.” Jesus’ and Paul’s audience

understood the phrase “this age” to be a reference to the old covenant

age, and the “age to come” as a reference to the Messianic or new covenant

age. They also understood that under the umbrella of the old covenant “age”

(singular) there were various “ages” (plural), or covenants. The covenant that

God made with David is an example of this. Thus when the old covenant age

was consummated, it was then that all of Israel’s “ages,” as contained in “the

Law and the Prophets” (“all things written”), were consummated.

 

The fulfillment that has been wrought in Christ is no piecemeal fulfillment

that has remained a “yes and no” fulfillment/non-fulfillment for

2,000 years, as futurists such as Mathison imagine. The Law of Moses

does not remain “imposed” as it did between the Cross and the Parousia

(Heb. 9:10, NASB). Rather, Christ returned and the old covenant

vanished in His Presence forty years after His Cross (Heb. 8:13). If He

did not return, and if the dead were not raised in Him, then the old covenant

never vanished, and we are still in our sins. This is the inevitable

implication of denying that literally “all things written” are fulfilled in

Christ today.

 

A comparison of Daniel 12:1–2 with the Olivet Discourse proves

that literally every eschatological prophecy in the Scriptures would be

fulfilled in AD 70:

aniel 12:1-12 Olivet Discourse

Daniel 12:1-2

Olivet Discourse

1. Tribulation and Abomination that

causes Desolation

(Dan. 12:1, 12)

 

1. Tribulation and Abomination that

causes desolation

(Matt. 24:15, 21; Lk. 21:20-23)

 

2. Judgment and Deliverance

(Dan. 12:1)

 

2. Judgment and Deliverance

(Lk. 21:18-22, 28; Matt. 24:13)

 

3. Resurrection

(Dan. 12:2-3)

 

3. Resurrection (Matt. 13:40-43;

24:30-31; Lk. 21:27-28)

 

4. The End (Dan. 12:4, 6, 8-9, 13)

 

4. The End (Matt. 24:13-14)

 

5. When would all this take place?

“. . .when the power [The Law] of

the holy people [Israel] has been

completely shattered [the destruction

of the city and the sanctuary

in AD 70], all these things

[including the judgment and

resurrection] shall be finished.”

“But you, go your way till the end;

for you shall rest, and will arise

to your inheritance at the end of

the days.” (Dan. 12:7, 13)

 

 

5. When would all this take place?

“There shall not be left here one

stone upon another, that shall not

be thrown down” [the destruction

of the city and the sanctuary in AD

70].” “Verily I say unto you, This

generation shall not pass, till all

these things [judgment & resurrection]

be fulfilled.”

(Matt. 24:1, 34)

 

 

Mathison believes that the majority of scholars “rightly understand”

the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 as being a future biological

resurrection of all believers.[2] But he has not explained how that resurrection

can be separated from the first-century great tribulation,

abomination of desolation, and destruction of Jerusalem in Daniel

12:1, 7, 11. Daniel 12:7 says that when the power of the holy people

would be completely shattered (in AD 70), then “all these things would

be finished” –not “some” of them.

 

Partial Preterist James Jordan now understands the resurrection

of Daniel 12:2-3 (and Daniel’s personal resurrection in verse 13) as be-

ing a spiritual and corporate resurrection that took place from Jesus’

earthly ministry to AD 70. Jordan actually sees this past resurrection

as being the resurrection of Revelation 20:

“The death of the Church in the Great Tribulation, and her resurrection after that event, were the great proof that Jesus had accomplished the work He came to do. The fact that the Church exists today, nearly 2000 years after her death in the Great Tribulation, is the ongoing vindication of Jesus work.”[3]

“Revelation takes up where Daniel leaves off, and deals mostly with the Apostolic Age and the death and resurrection of the Church.”[4]

“What Daniel is promised is that after his rest in Abraham’s bosom, he will stand up with all God’s saints and join Michael on a throne in heaven, as described in Revelation 20, an event that came after the Great Tribulation and in the year AD 70.[5]

Mathison’s co-author Gentry has also finally come to the conclusion

that the resurrection of Daniel 12:2 was fulfilled in AD 70:

 

“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.”[6]

 

We commend Gentry for his recently developed full preterist exegesis

of Daniel 12:1-3. However, it presents a problem for him. Gentry

stated, in the same book, that the resurrection in the parable of

the wheat and tares is not yet fulfilled.[7] Yet Jesus taught that Daniel

12:2-3 would be fulfilled at the same time as that parable.

Nevertheless, some of Gentry’s partial preterist colleagues have

come to the conclusion that the parable of the wheat and tares was also

fulfilled in AD 70. For example, Joel McDurmon (Gary North’s sonin-

law, and Director of Research for Gary DeMar’s American Vision)[8]:

 

It is clear that Jesus did not have in mind the end of the world,

nor did He mean the final judgment. Rather, Matthew 13:24-

30, 36-43 describe the judgment that would come upon unbelieving

Jerusalem. During this time, the angels would “gather

out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do

iniquity” (13:41) and these would be judged with fire. Many of

them literally were burned in fire during the destruction of Jerusalem.

During this same time, however, the elect of Christ—

“the children of the kingdom” (v. 38)—will be harvested. While

the explanation of the parable does not tell us their final end,

the parable itself has the householder instructing the harvesters

to “gather the wheat into my barn.” In other words, they are

protected and saved by God.

 

This, of course, is exactly what happened to the Christians. Not

only were they saved in soul, but they mostly fled Jerusalem

before the Roman siege. This was consequent to Jesus’ advice

to flee and not look back once the signs arose (Matt. 24:16-22);

indeed this would correspond with the angels’ work of harvesting

the elect (24:30).[9]

 

Curiously, McDurmon does not mention that the resurrection of

Daniel 12:2-3 is quoted by Jesus in Matthew 13:39-43. Partial preterists

such as McDurmon also ignore the fact that Paul, in agreement

with Daniel and Jesus, also taught that the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-

3 was imminent in the first century:

 

having hope toward God, which they themselves also wait for,

that there is about to be a rising again of the dead, both of

righteous and unrighteous (Acts 24:15, YLT & WEY; cf. Matt.

13:39-43).

 

There is only one passage found in “the law and prophets” that

explicitly speaks of a resurrection of believers and unbelievers, and

that is Daniel 12:2-3. This is Paul’s source in Acts 24:15, as virtually

any commentary or scholarly work agrees. As G. K. Beale and D. A.

Carson wrote on Acts 24:15:

 

The resurrection of the righteous and the unrighteous is based

on the prophecy of the end in Dan. 12:2-3, which indicates two

groups of people, some being raised to eternal life and others to

eternal reproach and shame, and then refers to the “righteous”

(Θ) or to “righteousness” (MT). Clearly this passage lies behind

Paul’s statement, although the wording is different.[10]

 

Partial Preterists such as Gentry who admit the resurrection of Daniel

12:2 was fulfilled in AD 70 need to not only address the issue of this being

Paul’s source for his resurrection doctrine in Acts 24:15, but other

places in the NT. Again Beale points out in one of his most recent works,

that Jesus is following the (OG) LXX of Daniel 12:1-2, 4 as His source for

His teaching on “eternal life” and the coming resurrection “hour” (or “the

hour of the end”) of both believers and unbelievers in (John 5:28-29).[11]

And clearly the books being opened in judgment and the resurrection of

all in Daniel 12:1-2 is the judgment and resurrection of Revelation 20:5-

15. Gentry at one point seeking to refute the Premillennial Dispensa-

tional theory of two resurrections cited Daniel 12:2/John 5:28-29/John

6:39-40/Acts 24:15 as evidence of “one resurrection and one judgment,

which occur simultaneously at the end…”[12] We couldn’t agree more with

Gentry #1 – that these texts are descriptive of “one” and the same resurrection

and judgment which take place at the same time in history. And

yet we also agree with Gentry #2 – Daniel 12:2 was fulfilled in AD 70.

Another question or challenge for partial preterists who see the resurrection

of Daniel 12:2-3 as being fulfilled in AD 70 is this:

How many times must Daniel be raised unto, and receive, “eternal life?”iel 12 1 Corinthians 15

 

Daniel 12

1 Corinthians 15

1. Resurrection unto “eternal life”

(v. 2)

 

1. Resurrection unto incorruptibility

or immortality (vss. 52–53)

 

2. Time of the end (v. 4)

 

2. Then cometh the end (v. 24)

 

3. When the power of the holy people [Mosaic OC law] is completely shattered

(v. 7)

3. When victory over “the [Mosaic

OC] law” comes (v. 56)

 

 



[1] Dominion, 542. 

[2] Keith A. Mathison, WSTTB 160–161; From Age to Age: The Unfolding of

Eschatology (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2009), 281.

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

[4] Ibid., 621

[5] Ibid., 628

[6] Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. He Shall Have Dominion (Draper, VA: Apologetics

Group Media, 2009 Third Edition), 538.  On Gentry’s Facebook page he answered my question on this text by writing, “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.”  But when I challenged Gentry on how the NT develops the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3/Matt. 13:43/John 5:28-29/Acts 24:15/Rev. 20:5-15 at his Criswell lecture on the millennium, he changed his tune and is now claiming that the resurrection text of Dan. 12:2 has an AD 70 “type” fulfillment and an end of the history “bodily resurrection” fulfillment as well.  I told him that if he can do this with the resurrection of Dan. 12:2, then dispensationalists can double fulfill or have multiple types and anti-types fulfillments of prophetic material that Gentry says was only fulfilled in AD 70 – tribulation, abomination of desolation of a temple in Jerusalem, apostasy, etc…  Again partial preterists like Gentry and Mathison are arbitrary and inconsistent when they want something only fulfilled in AD 70 when debating futurists, but then want something fulfilled in the future when debating full preterists.  

[7] Ibid., 235 n. 70, 243.

[8] Gary North, perhaps not knowing his own son-in-law’s position at the time, wrote in 2001: “Anyone who equates the fulfillment of [the parable of the wheat and tares] with A.D. 70 has broken with the historic faith of the church.”

http://www.preteristcosmos.com/garynorth-dualism.html

[9] Joel McDurmon, Jesus v. Jerusalem: A Commentary on Luke 9:51 –

20:26, Jesus’ Lawsuit Against Israel (Powder Springs, GA: The American Vision,

Inc., 2011), 48-49; see entire section 43-51. One of DeMar’s co-authors

Peter Leithart, has also conceded that the parable of the wheat and tares was

fulfilled in the first century: “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.”

Peter J. Leithart, The Promise of His Appearing: An Exposition of Second

Peter (Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 2004), 95. 

[10] Beale, G. K., & Carson, D. A., Commentary on the New Testament use

of the Old Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI; Nottingham, UK: Baker Academic;

Apollos, 2007), 598.

[11] 30 G.K. Beale, A NEW TESTAMENT BIBLICAL THEOLOGY THE UNFOLDING

OF THE OLD TESTAMENT IN THE NEW (Grand Rapids, MI:

Baker Academic, 2011), 131-132. This creates a huge problem for Partial Preterists

such as Gentry who not only take the resurrection of Dan. 12:2 as fulfilled

in AD 70, but also takes the eschatological “not yet” “hour” of (John 4:21-

24) as fulfilled in AD 70 (as Full Preterists do). Why? Because according to

Mathison (WSTTB, 172-174) Jesus is using the same eschatological “already”

and “not yet” pattern of this coming “hour” in both John 4:21-24 – 5:25-29 and

thus are referring to the same period of time. Once again when we combine

what Beale, Gentry, and Mathison are saying here on these texts, they form

the Full Preterist view in that the “not yet” resurrection “hour” of Dan. 12:1-2/

John 5:28-29 was fulfilled in AD 70. For more on why John 5:28-29 is not a

description of a fleshly end of time resurrection see David Green’s response to

Dr. Strimple.

[12] Kenneth L. Gentry, THE GREATNESS OF THE GREAT COMMISSION

(Tyler TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1990), 142.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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House Divided Chapter Four Partial Preterist Keith A. Mathison Vs. Full Preterist Michael J. Sullivan Part 3 Double Fulfillments

House Divided Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology A Preterist Response to

When Shall These Things Be?

Chapter Four

The Eschatological Madness of Mathison or How Can These Things Be?

 Part 3 – Double Fulfillments

 Michael J. Sullivan

Copyright 2009 and 2013 – All rights reserved.  No part of this
book (or article) may be reproduced in any form without permission
in writing from the publisher or author of this chapter/article (Vision Publishing
or Michael J. Sullivan), except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical
articles or reviews.

 

Double Fulfillments

 

On page 168, Mathison observes that Daniel’s prophecy of “the abomination

of desolation” was double-fulfilled. It was first fulfilled in the desecration

of the temple by Antiochus Epiphanes in 168 BC. Then Jesus

spoke of its future fulfillment two hundred years later. The prophecy of

the birth of Immanuel was also double-fulfilled. It was first fulfilled in

Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz in Isaiah’s day. Then it was “ultimately fulfilled”

in the birth of Jesus many centuries later. Mathison’s conclusion: “New

Testament prophecies may also have multiple fulfillments,” first in AD 70

and then in the end of world history.

 

Response:

 

I think everyone agrees that many prophecies in the Old Testament

were typologically fulfilled and awaited full realization in the New Testament.

This phenomenon reflected the contrast between Old Testament

types and shadows, and the New Testament Anti-Type or Body,

i.e., Christ (Col. 2:17).

 

But this principle in no way implies or leads to the notion that New

Testament prophecies, which are fulfilled in Christ, will be fulfilled multiple

times over potentially millions of years of time. The fact that the

Old Testament was “typical” and “shadowy” in no way suggests that the

New Testament is of the same pre-Messianic character. The Cross of

Christ will not be fulfilled multiple times until the end of human history,

and neither will Christ’s Second Coming (Heb. 9:26–28).

 

Mathison’s co-author Ken Gentry teaches that the time texts of the

New Testament “demand” a fulfillment in AD 70, and that the theory

of “double fulfilling” Revelation, for example, is “pure theological assertion”

that has “no exegetical warrant.”[1] Another partial preterist colleague

of Mathison, Gary DeMar, rejects openness to the double fulfillment

theory in the Olivet Discourse:

 

Either the Olivet Discourse applies to a generation located

in the distant future from the time the gospel writers composed

the Olivet Discourse or to the generation to whom

Jesus was speaking; it can’t be a little bit of both. As we will

see, the interpretation of the Olivet Discourse in any of the

synoptic gospels does not allow for a mixed approach, a double

fulfillment, or even a future completion. Matthew 24:34

won’t allow for it.[2]

 

 

The New Testament is the revealing of the salvation promises contained

in the Old Testament, and those promises were to be realized and

found “in Christ” and in His Body the church (2 Cor. 1:20). Mathison

would have us believe that the New Testament is a further obscuring of

the meaning of kingdom prophecies (with more shadowy and typical fulfillments),

which will only become clear at the alleged end of the very age

that Christ died to establish, the age that Mathison—incredibly— calls

“evil” (188).

 

Mathison, while refuting Dispensationalism, writes, “We are no