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House Divided Chapter Seven The Resurrection of the Dead Amillennialist Robert B. Strimple Vs. Full Preterist David A. Green Part 1 2 Timothy 2:16-18

House Divided

Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology A Preterist Response to

When Shall These Things Be?

 

Chapter Seven

The Resurrection of the Dead

 

David A. Green

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 David A. Green), except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.

Dr. Robert B. Strimple’s sixty-six page chapter in WSTTB can be

summed up in thirteen basic arguments that defend the doctrine

of a literal, physical resurrection of the dead. In this chapter, I will respond

to Strimple’s thirteen arguments. I will then offer a brief exposition

of 1 Corinthians 15.

 

Strimple’s Thirteen Arguments[1]

 

Strimple Argument #1: Preterists teach that the resurrection is past.

Therefore preterists are under the condemnation of the heretics Hymenaeus

and Philetus, who said that “the resurrection is past already” (2

Tim. 2:16-18) (WSTTB, 287, 312-315).[2]

 

Answer: If we read 2 Timothy 2:16-18 on the premise of futurism

(belief in a literal, physical resurrection of the dead), we will reason that

Hymenaeus and Philetus were not only wrong about the timing of the

resurrection, as Paul said they were, but that they were more importantly

wrong about the nature of the resurrection. We will reason that

the faith-overthrowing aspect of their error must have been their denial

of a biological resurrection of the dead. This would mean that the malignancy

of their doctrine had to do with the nature of the resurrection,

even though Paul condemned only their timing of the resurrection.

 

Futurism must, against the flow of thought in the text, smuggle its

own assumption (a biological resurrection of the dead) into 2 Timothy

2:16-18 in order to make it a preterist-anathematizing text. This means

that the only exegetical argument that is used for condemning preterists

as false brothers is based on the logical fallacy of question begging.

 

But if we read the passage on the premise of preterism (a non-biological

resurrection of the dead), we should reason that the error of Hymeneus

and Philetus was that they were teaching that the resurrection had

been fulfilled under the Law (1 Tim. 1:8; Titus 1:10; 3:9; Heb. 8:13). They

were teaching that “the hope of Israel” (Acts 23:6; 24:15, 21; 28:20) was

already fulfilled in the AD 60’s and that there was therefore never to be a

termination of the covenant of fleshly circumcision and animal sacrifices.

 

Their error implied that the kingdom was not going to be taken

from the scribes and Pharisees, as Jesus said it would be. It implied

that the final destruction of the city and sanctuary would never happen.

It implied that fleshly Israel had inherited the eschatological kingdom

with the church and that the ministration of death and condemnation,

with all of its reminders of sin, would continue forever. It implied that

believers, having already attained unto the resurrection (cf. Phil. 3:11–

12), would be forever under the yoke of the Law of Moses.

This is why the doctrine of a pre-70 resurrection was a radically anti-

gospel, anti-grace, faith-overturning blasphemy (1 Tim. 1:20; 2 Tim.

2:18). This is why Paul condemned the timing instead of the nature of

the error, because insofar as the realization of the hope of Israel (the resurrection)

was necessarily synchronous with the eternal disinheritance

of the Christ-rejecters in Israel, timing was everything.

 

Perhaps we cannot know with certainty what date Hymenaeus and

Philetus assigned to the resurrection. Perhaps they taught that the Jewish

revolt against Rome in AD 66 was the fulfillment of the resurrection.

Whatever the case, the resurrection error at Ephesus was a Judaizing

heresy that served to put believers back under the slavery of the Law.

 

Before we go on to Strimple’s next argument, let us look briefly at

Paul’s silence in regard to Hymeneus’ and Philetus’ concept of a non-biological

resurrection of the dead. If Paul was expecting a literal, biological

resurrection, is it not odd that his only criticism of the gangrenous

resurrection-error was in regard to its timing? Could it be that Paul

agreed with Hymeneus and Philetus in regard to the nature of the resurrection,

and disagreed with them only in regard to the timing? Paul’s

words in 2 Thessalonians 2:2-8 give us the answer to this question.

 

In that scripture, Paul told believers how they could know, after the

fact, that the Day of the Lord had taken place. First, Paul said, “the

apostasy” or “the falling away” would take place and “the man of sin”

would be revealed (2 Thess. 2:3). This “man of sin” would take his seat

in the temple of God, thus displaying himself as being God (2 Thess.

2:4). Then he would be slain and brought to an end (2 Thess. 2:8). By

the unfolding of these events, believers would know that the Day of the

Lord had come.[3] The man of sin was, after all, to be destroyed on the

Day of the Lord.

 

However, Paul had taught in his previous epistle to the Thessalonians

that on “the day of the Lord,” the dead in Christ would rise and be

caught up” together with the living (1 Thess. 4:15-5:2). If Paul thought

those events were going to involve the literal, biological metamorphosis

and removal of the dead and of the church on Earth, then Paul would

have known that there were, inescapably, only two possible ways that

anyone could know that the day of the Lord had already come.

 

Either:

 

1. You suddenly found yourself in a new body made of “spiritual

flesh” while hovering in the clouds during a meeting with the

Lord in the air.

 

Or:

 

2. You suddenly discovered that the tombs of believers were

empty and that the church no longer existed on planet Earth

and you were left behind.

 

But Paul did not use either of these arguments. Paul instead told

believers simply to look for the rise and destruction of the man of sin in

order to know that the day of the Lord had come. According to Paul, if

believers perceived that the man of sin had been destroyed, then believers

could know that the day of the Lord (and therefore the resurrection

and the “catching away” of the church) had come to pass. The resurrection

of the dead and the “catching away” were not events that involved

the molecular change or disappearance of corpses or the disappearance

of the church from planet earth.[4]



[1] Though I label these arguments as “Strimple” arguments, most of them

are not, strictly speaking, Strimple’s arguments, but are the standard arguments

used by futurists to defend the doctrine of a “resurrection of the flesh.”

[2] Strimple’s editor Mathison undercuts Strimple’s effort here (and the effort

of most or all others who anathematize preterists) by casting a haze of

uncertainty over 2 Timothy 2:17-18 and refusing to use the passage to anathematize

“hyper-preterists.” Mathison forfeits all biblical authority to anathematize

“hyper-preterists” when he implies that “the resurrection” in 2 Timothy

2:17-18 could possibly have been fulfilled in AD 70 (194-195).

[3] The Zealots captured the temple in AD 68. They abolished the priesthood

and turned the temple of God into their own personal house of murder.

They were destroyed in AD 70.

[4] See Michael Sullivan’s response to Mathison for an exposition of 1

Thessalonians 4:14-17 and 2 Timothy 2:17-18.

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