Kenneth Gentry wrote a book with Greg Bahnsen (with Gary DeMar contributing) entitled, “House Divided the Break-up of Dispensationalism.” The purpose was to demonstrate that the admissions within Progressive Dispensationalism destroyed Dispensationalism altogether. Therefore, Progressives needed to choose between a failing Dispensationalism and that of Covenant or Reformed eschatology.
I will be using the “House Divided” approach of Kenneth Gentry and Gary DeMar as we go through the OD to demonstrate the complete destruction and “break-up” of Postmillennialism as a compromising and inconsistent system which has in effect formed Full Preterism which is quickly taking its place. We have looked at Progressive Postmillennial Partial Preterism in Matthew 13:39-43; Daniel 12:2-3; Romans 8:18YLT-23; etc… thus far in the previous lecture (and articles). We will continue to look at those Progressive interpretations forming a spiritual resurrection fulfillment to close the OC age while we now examine Jesus’ teaching in the Olivet Discourse. Postmillennialists such as Gentry, DeMar, McDurmon, Mathison, Sproul, etc…, are now faced with the same dilemma as their Progressive Dispensational opponents – try and erect a crumbling divided house, or embrace Full Preterism!
Here are the issues we want to address in this lecture/article:
1). Since the Olivet Discourse (OD) is a microcosm of NT eschatology, this poses a problem for Postmillennialism.
2). The context, question(s) of the disciples and structure of Mt. 23-25 creates problems for Postmillennialism.
3). While the various views within Postmillennialism and Reformed eschatology on the OD create a problem for Postmillennialism, their inability to reconcile those problems has in effect formed Full Preterism.
Since Postmillennialism agrees with Full Preterism that all of the signs (cf. Mt. 24:5-15, 30) and apocalyptic de-creation language (cf. Mt. 24:29) was fulfilled in AD 70, I will be addressing the following subjects:
- The disciples question and the end of the age – whose really confused Kenneth Gentry or the disciples?
- Are there two Great Commissions in the OD?
- Was all OT prophecy fulfilled by AD 70 and if so what texts?
- Is the coming of Christ to gather the elect and give redemption the resurrection event?
- Are the division theories of Kenneth Gentry arbitrary?
In this article (Part 1 of the second lecture), we will only be examining the context, structure (chiasm & recapitulation) the disciple’s question(s) and the coming of Christ and the Great Commission of Matthew 24:14, 27-30 in relation to Acts 1:8-11. I will be arguing that all of these “beak-up” the “House Divided” Postmillennial Partial Preterist system which has only served to be a stepping stone to Full Preterism.
To Understand the Olivet Discourse, is to Understand Bible Prophecy
There seems to be two main points of agreement on the Olivet Discourse among Futurists:
1). It is very difficult and no one can agree.
2). Whatever your view of the OD is, it will form your eschatology in the rest of the NT.
While I disagree on the first point (the OD is very easy to understand), I would agree with the second in that your understanding of the OD will dictate the rest of your understanding of prophecy in the NT. The OD in essence is a microcosm of NT prophecy. Here are just a few quotes from a wide range of views that substantiate my point:
“How one interprets this important text will go a long way in determining one’s view of the millennial age, pre, a, or post. (Kim Riddlebarger).
After citing scholars that concede Paul in 1 and 2 Thessalonians and John in the book of Revelation are following Jesus’ teaching in the OD D.A. Carson writes, “…we may say that Jesus himself [in the OD] sets the pattern for the church’s eschatology.” (D.A. Carson).
“John’s version of the the OD is the book of Revelation” (Gary DeMar).
“A proper understanding of the OD is absolutely essential for anyone who wants to gain a clear picture of God’s plan for the ages. This discourse is so significant that the way a person interprets it will impact his understanding of the rest of the prophecy in the Bible.” (Thomas Ice).
For example, since Postmillennialists such as Kenneth Gentry see two comings of Jesus in the OD (Mt. 24:1-34 = AD 70; vss. 36—25:31ff = end of world history), they likewise see two comings of Jesus throughout the NT and yet can hardly agree in say 1 and 2 Thessalonians on which passages are the AD 70 coming and which ones are allegedly the end of the world coming of Christ texts.
The exception to this rule are Postmillennialists such as Gary DeMar and Keith Mathison whom see all references to the coming of the Son of Man in Matthew, Mark and Luke to be referring to AD 70 and not the Second Coming event. Not only is this a radical break from the Reformed creeds (which do affirm the coming of Christ in the OD is His Second Coming event), this creates a radical break between Jesus’ eschatology and the rest of the NT’s teaching on the doctrine of the Second Coming of Jesus. Let’s examine what Postmillennialist Keith Mathison has written on this subject.
When Mathison used to divide the OD the same way Kenneth Gentry did, he affirmed that Jesus guided the Church on the doctrine of His Second Coming and this doctrine was indeed formed by our Lord in the OD (Mt. 24:35—25:46) and therefore this same coming of Christ could be found in such NT passages as: Acts 1:11; 1 Cor. 15:23; 1 Thess. 4:16-17; Heb. 9:28.
But after he saw the division theories of Gentry couldn’t hold exegetical water, he adopted Gary DeMar’s view that every reference to the coming of Christ in the OD was referring to AD 70. Trying to downplay the significance of this problem, in two footnotes in two different books we read the following:
“This interpretation would mean, of course, that Jesus had very little to say about his actual second coming, but this should not be a major obstacle to evaluating the interpretation.” Mathison, (WSTTB?, 182 nt. 39).
“The bulk of the NT’s teaching on the second coming would be found after the resurrection and ascension (e.g., Acts 1:11; 1 Cor. 15:23; 1 Thess. 4:16-17; Heb. 9:28) (Mathison, From Age to Age, 366 nt. 92).
This is a very embarrassing admission coming from Postmillennialism! They only have two directions to turn in: 1. The doctrine of the Second Coming is found in the OD (the creedal view) and every reference is Christ’s spiritual coming in AD 70 (i.e. Full Preterism), or 2. The embarrassing view that Jesus never really taught on His Second Coming and that this was a doctrine formulated mostly by the Apostle Paul.
When we combine Mathison’s old view with his new view, or the various views within Reformed eschatology on the importance of the OD in forming Pauline eschatology we get Full Preterism. Most futurist eschatological systems correctly affirm that Matthew 24-25 forms and encapsulates NT Eschatology on the doctrines of the Second Coming, the end of the age/de-creation & new creation and the judgment and resurrection of the dead. This being the case, Full Preterism is the missing piece of the puzzle to this conflict over the OD and Bible prophecy in general.
This is NOT an “either or” or which is true either “A” or “B” scenario. The truth that these men and their publishers want to suppress is that this is a “both and” or there needs to be a third option on the test which says, “Both ‘A’ and ‘B’ are true.
One has to think outside the creedal box on the nature of the Second Coming, the resurrection, end of the age, and the New Creation before there can be a biblical solution to what G.K. Beale has termed a “this thorny problem” between Jesus’ eschatology in Matthew 24 and Pauline eschatology.
The Futurist conspiracy is that they only give you these “either or” possibilities with the question and answers being improperly presented. The instructors in the seminaries, Bible Colleges, publishers and educators from the pulpits are afraid to form a proper test question and option for their students/the Church — because they know if they do, this might get them fired from the highly funded creedal institution that they have let own them.
The Context and Chiastic Structure of Matthew 23-24 is a Problem for Postmillennialism
The context of Matthew 23-24 create a Chiastic or Inclusio structure centered around Jesus’ phrase “this generation.” Judgment is said to be coming upon the living (to judge the Pharisees & vindicate those Jesus would send) and the dead (the wicked [Cain] and those who killed the OT and NT Prophets) in the AD 30 – AD 70 generation when the Temple will be destroyed. Jesus hints at a sign when He mentions this will take place at one of the feasts when they will be singing the Song of Ascent. Matthew 24 simply picks up where 23 left off. The Temple’s destruction, Jesus’ coming and the signs are now developed more with again the alarming declaration that all this will be fulfilled in their generation:
A. Prediction of persecution coming and vindication [judgment of living and dead] at Christ’s coming in “this generation” (Mt. 23:29-36, 39).
B. The “coming” of Christ results in the Temple’s destruction. The time or sign will be during one of the feasts – when the Song of Ascent is sung (Mt. 23:38-39/Ps. 118).
B. Therefore, the disciples understand the “coming” of Christ results in the Temple’s destruction. But they seek more information concerning the timing and sign issue & therefore, Jesus gives a more in-depth answer on that subject (Mt. 24:1-3; 4-15, 30-31 – then this material gets recapitulated again in Mt. 24:35—25:31-46).
A. Prediction of persecution and vindication [judgment of the living and the dead] at Christ’s coming in “this generation” (Mt. 24:9-10, 30-34).
The Recapitulatory Structure of Matthew 24-25 is a Problem for Postmillennialism
John Murray came close in showing how the OD is recapitulatory (not chronological) and reaches the consummation (Second Coming & end of the age asked about) at various places,
“The [OD], as to structure, is recapitulatory…” “It is not, therefore, continuously progressive. We are repeatedly brought to the advent and informed of its various features, [i.e. contemporary, concurrent or interrelated events], and consequences (vss. 14, 29-31, 37-41; 25:31–46.” (John Murray, COLLECTED WRITINGS OF JOHN MURRAY 2: Systematic Theology, [Banner of Truth Pub., 1977] 398).
I say Murray came “close,” because he did not know how to correctly handle Jesus’ statement that “all” (the “end” of v. 14 and Jesus’ coming in vss. 27-31) of this would be fulfilled in their “this generation” (v. 34). Therefore, verse 34 should have also been listed as another text by which we reach the consummation in answer to the disciples question. The recapitulatory structure of the OD demonstrates that Gentry is wrong to assert the “end of the age” of v. 3 is the end of world history, while taking “the end” of v. 14 as AD 70 to close the OC era and age. This also destroys DeMar’s view that somehow the coming of Christ and gathering of the elect in vss. 30-31, and His coming in judgment to separate the sheep and goats and judge Satan and the dead in vss. 31-46 is some kind of post AD 70 process spanning thousands of years and not the consummation of the Second Advent at the end of the OC age [in AD 70] the disciples asked about.
The Disciples Question(s) and the Parallel Accounts Are Problems for Postmillennialism
Postmillennialist Gary DeMar corrects Gentry and other futurists who assume the disciples were confused in associating the end of the age with the coming of Christ to destroy the Temple in AD 70. He accurately demonstrates how the question of the disciples flow out of the immediate context of chapter 23 and when we understand that the “end of the age” is the OC age, the disciples question harmonizes and flows with the rest of the discourse,
“Upon hearing Jesus’ prediction of “desolation” for the temple and city [in Mt. 23], His disciples “came up to point out the temple buildings to Him” (Mt. 24:1), as if to say, “Lord, you can’t mean this temple!”
“The disciples’ question involves three interrelated, contemporary events: (1) the time of the temple’s destruction; (2) the sign that will signal Jesus’ coming related to the destruction of the temple; and (3) the sign they should look for telling them that “the end of the age” has come. These questions are related to the destruction of the temple and the end of the Old Covenant redemptive system and nothing else.”
“The Old Covenant order would end with the destruction of the Jerusalem. This would be the “sign” of the “end of the age,” the end of the Old Covenant, and the consummation of the New Covenant.” (I believe this statement of the NC is left out of other editions)
Kenneth Gentry trying his best not to depart from the Reformed creeds has to have Jesus’ teaching a future to use Second Coming event to close world history in the discourse, so he goes with the standard “confusion of the disciples” interpretation:
“In these questions we sense once again the bewilderment among the disciples at Jesus’ teaching—a bewilderment such as is seen elsewhere in Matthew, as in their confusion about the “leaven of the Pharisees” (16:6-12), Christ’s death (vv. 21-23), the purpose of the Transfiguration (17:4-5), Christ’s interest in children (19:13-15), and the nature of kingdom service (20:20-25). Quite clearly Christ divides their question into two episodes in His answer: (1) He speaks about the coming Great Tribulation resulting in the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in A.D. 70 (24:4-34, which is in “this generation,” v. 34); and (2) His distant future second coming at the end of history [i.e. “end of the age”] (24:36-25:46, which is after a “long time,” 25:19).” (p. 26).
This is puzzling since Gentry admits that Christ’s coming in AD 70 ended the OC age:
“Christ’s teaching here is extremely important to redemptive history. He is responding to the question of His disciples regarding when the end of the “age” (Gk., aion) will occur (24:3). In essence, His full answer is: when the Romans lay waste the temple…” (p. 58).
“The change of the age is finalized and sealed at the destruction of Jerusalem; allusions to the A.D. 70 transition abound: “Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste of death till they see the kingdom of God present with power” (Mark 9:1).” (p. 63)
If Jesus’ coming in AD 70 ended and changed the OC age, then there is really no justification for reading into the text (eisegesis) the disciples alleged “confusion” that the “end of the age” in v. 3 and and the content vss. 36ff. deal with the end of world history.
Let’s respond to Gentry’s eisegesis.
Argument #1: Contextually, the Temple’s destruction Jesus and the disciples are looking at answers to the end of the OC age and has nothing to do with the end of the Church or NC age. The OT and NT teaches the Messianic or NC kingdom age “has no end” so that cannot be the subject under discussion: (Dan. 2:44; 6:26; 7:14, 18; Isa. 7:13-14; 9:6-7; Lk. 1:32; Ephs. 3:20-21).
Argument #2: Contextually, Jesus in verse 14 identifies the “end of the age” the disciples asked about simply as “the end.” The ONLY “the end” in context is the end of the age the disciples asked about. Even in Daniel “the time of the end” “the hour of the end” is also described simply as “the end” (cf. Daniel 12). Since Gentry believes the sign of the GC here in v. 14 was fulfilled before AD 70 to close the OC era and age (cf. Cols. 1:5-6, 23), then Jesus here is identifying “the end” with the “end of the age” the disciples asked about. Since both are addressing the end of the OC age and not the end of world history, this overthrow’s Gentry’s theory that the discourse has anything to do with the end of world history or a future to us coming of Jesus.
Argument #3: The parallel accounts of Mark 13 and Luke 21 Mark and Luke do not record the phrase “and the end of the age” or promote a TWO coming(s) theory as Gentry is proposing here in Matthew 24-25. Are we to expect that Mark and Luke simply decided to not let their readers know that Jesus taught about the end of world history and TWO comings separated by thousands of years?!? The fact that Matthew records “end of the age” and adds more parables than the more Gentile audiences of Mark and Luke’s account of the same event explain the difference. Thus there is no need to eisegetically assume that just because Matthew 24:3 adds “and the end the age” while the others do not, this somehow justifies a two coming theory of Jesus spanning thousands of years in Matthew’s account allegedly dealing with the end of world history while Mark and Luke do not. Harmonizing the parallel accounts makes “clear” sense, not Gentry’s gymnastics to chop it up into a heretical third coming doctrine.
Besides this, Mark 13:12-13 while not mentioning “the end of the age” does mention the signs of persecution connected to “the end” coming upon that first century audience just as Matthew 24:14 does. When we follow the context and harmonize the parallel accounts, we see that the discourse is about the end of the OC age when the Temple would be destroyed – not the end of world history.
Argument #4: OT reference – Jesus is drawing from Daniel 7, 9 and 12 in the OD where again the end of the age is described as the “time of the end,” “hour of the end” (OG LXX), or just “the end.” Since Gentry connects “the end” of Daniel 9 and 12 with the end of the OC in AD 70, and since Jesus informs us His coming in judgment upon Jerusalem will fulfill “all” of these OT promises, there is NO reason to assume “the end of the age” in Matthew 24:3 or the rest of the discourse has anything to do with the end of world history.
Argument #5: The clear statements of the disciples demonstrated that “yes,” they understood Jesus’ teaching on the end of their OC “this age” (Mt. 13:39-43, 51). And Gentry has already conceded that the only “coming” of Jesus up to this point in Matthew’s gospel is the one the disciples knew would take place in some of their lifetimes and generation and no other (Mt. 10:17-23; 16:27-28; Mrk. 8:38-9:1). All they wanted to know at this point in Matthew 24 is to have Jesus instruct them on signs they could look for before He would come to end the OC age and destroy the Temple. This is not complicated. It only get’s complicated when Gentry realizes he doesn’t want to surrender another creedal passage as DeMar has done to Full Preterism. Selah.
Argument #6: The historical context the disciples were living in understood the age they were living in to be the OC age and the “age to come” or “the age about to come” to be the NC or Messianic age.
Argument #7: Gentry “proves too much” when he cites these examples in Matthew’s gospel where the disciples are confused. Why? Because in each case Jesus (or Matthew as a responsible narrator of his gospel) explicitly points out when the disciples are confused or ask a question that needs correction (cf. Mt. 16:6-12, 21-23; 17:4-5; 19:13-15; 20:20-25). Therefore, since we don’t find Jesus or Matthew claiming the disciples were “confused,” or it is explicitly pointed out a correction to their alleged confusion ensues, we need to submit to what Scripture actually teaches us. And that is that they did understand Jesus’ teaching on the “end of the age” (Mt. 13:36-51), and therefore we should follow exegetically how Jesus answers their simple question when they correctly connected the three —just as the OT Scriptures do and how Jesus has thus far in His teaching up to this point.
Jesus’ teaching throughout Matthew’s gospel up to chapter 24, the immediate context, the parallel accounts of Mark and Luke, the historical context, and the OT prophets connecting the City and Temple’s destruction to be the time of Messiah coming in judgment to end their age — all lead us to identify “the end of the age” in 24:3 not with the end of world history, but with AD 70!
The Great Commission is a Problem for Postmillennialism
|Prophecy – Greek Oikumene||Fulfillment – Greek Oikumene|
|“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world [Gk. oikumene] for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” (Matt.24:14)
|“But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed: ‘Their sound has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.’” [Gk. oikumene] (Rom. 10:18)|
|One def. of oikumene – “The Roman Empire (Acts 17:6); the Jews in the world (Acts 24:5). Of Palestine and the adjacent countries (Luke 2:1; Acts 11:28).”|
|Prophecy – Greek Ethnos||Fulfillment – Greek Ethnos|
|“And the gospel must first be published among all nations.” [Gk. ethnos] “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations.’” [Gk. ethnos] ““‘. . . I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age [cf. Mt. 13:39; 24:3].’ Amen.” (Mark 13:10; Matt. 28:19-20)
|“…My gospel… has been made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures has been made known to all nations. . . .” [Gk. ethnos] (Rom. 16:25-26)
* These are “all the nations [ethnos] under heaven” in (Acts 2:4-5) which obviously consisted of “all the nations” of the then known Roman Empire.
Three brief points on the G.C. of Matthew 28:19-20:
1). “All nations”
In Acts we are informed that many Jews from “all nations under heaven” throughout the Roman Empire were present and saved in Jerusalem (Acts 2:4-5). They were discipled by the Apostles, and then through persecution and the Holy Spirit they were then sent back into “all” those “nations” to preach the gospel and thus disciple them.
2). Christ would be “with” them through the charismata
Mark’s gospel closes in a similar way as Matthew’s. There is an appeal to fulfill the G.C. and encouragement that the Lord would be “with” them in the sense of performing miracles. I believe the context of Mark 16:15-20 explains how God was going to be “with” the disciples in Matthew 18:20. Mark’s account reads, “And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world [Greek kosmos] and preach the gospel to every creature” “. . . And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues.” [Greek glossa] (Mark 16:15, 17). Then in Mark 16:20 we are told, “Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.” In Acts 10:38 we are told that God was “with” Jesus in the sense of performing miracles. In John 14 Jesus tells the disciples that the Holy Spirit had been “with” them but would soon be “in them.” How had the Holy Spirit previously been “with” them? He was in them and working through them to perform signs and wonders. In Acts 14-15 the Lord Himself is said to be “with” Paul and Barnabas in performing signs and miracles–confirming the gospel was to go to the Gentiles and that they too formed the NC body of Christ.
Kenneth Gentry who has attempted to refute Reformed Charismatics has failed. If the GC of Matthew 28:18-20 and Mark 16:15-17 is still an unfulfilled sign (cf. Mt. 24:3, 14) before the “end of the age” and Second (or third) Coming of Jesus can take place, then we should expect God to be “with” the Church through the miraculous gifts. However, if the GC was a sign that was fulfilled just prior to AD 70 (as Paul states clearly), then we should expect them to “cease” at the end of the OC age and at His coming (cf. 1 Cor. 13:8-12) – which they have.
3). “End of the age”:
Postmillennialists such as Gary DeMar and Joel McDurmon would have us think 2 out of 3 out “end of the age” statements made by Jesus in Matthew’s gospel are the OC age while the last one refers to their Postmillennial “hope” of Christianizing the nations of the earth before Jesus’ alleged third coming takes place. The only other reference to the “end of the age” is found in another Jewish NT epistle – the book of Hebrews and these authors also believe this refers to the OC age.
- Mt. 13:39 – AD 70.
- Mt. 24:3 – AD 70.
- Mt. 28:20 – end of world history?
- Heb. 9:26 – AD 70.
Once again we see Postmillennialism’s arbitrary hermeneutic at work created a second GC and changing the meaning of “end of the age” out of thin air.
|Prophecy – Greek Kosmos||Fulfillment – Greek Kosmos|
|“And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world [Gk. kosmos] and preach the gospel to every creature” “. . . And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues.” [Greek glossa] (Mark 16:15, 17)
|“…of the gospel, which has come to you, as it has also in all the world [Gk. kosmos], as is bringing forth fruit…” (Cols. 1:5-6)|
|One def. of kosmos – “The then–known world and particularly the people who lived in it…”
Once again we have Postmillennialists being ineffective to address the Charismatic movement if the GC of this passage has not been fulfilled. And for those Reformed Cessationists (and want-to-be-Reformed men like Pastor MacArthur) that want to say Charismatics are “demon possessed” today, then this would require the miraculous gift of casting them out to be present today. And if demons and that miraculous gift is for today, then why not the other miraculous gifts in the passage?!?
|Prophecy – Greek Kitisis||Fulfillment – Greek Kitisis|
|“And he said unto them ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.’” [Gk. kitisis] (Mark 16:15)
|“ . . . from the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature [Gk. kitisis] under heaven, of which I, Paul became a minister.”(Col. 1:23)
|One def. of kitisis – “In rabbinical usage (by which a man converted from idolatry to Judaism was called).” The creation of men not literally the planet earth.
Clearly Paul was preaching to the creation of men and women and not to rocks, trees and the animals. This is the same creation (kitisis) that is groaning under the decay of sin in Romans 8 and once again has nothing to do with rocks, trees and the animals — kitisis is the creation of men.
|Prophecy – Greek Ge||Fulfillment – Greek Ge|
|“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth/land.” [Gk. ge] (Acts 1:8)
|“But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed: ‘Their sound has gone out to all the earth/land [Gk. ge], and their words to the ends of the world.’” (Rom. 10:18)|
|One def. of ge – “The then known lands, regions, territories, countries etc…”|
|1. In Jerusalem||1. Acts 2 – Jews|
|2. And Samaria||2. Acts 8 – Samaritans|
|3. In all Judea||3. Acts 10 – God-fearers|
|4. To the earth/land||4. Acts 19 – the Gentiles|
Postmillennialists have no problem quoting Romans 10:18 to demonstrate how the GC of Matthew 24:14 was fulfilled by AD 70 because it uses the same Greek word oikumene (“has gone out to the ends of the world”). Yet, Romans 8:10 also uses the Greek word ge (“has gone out into all the earth”). Therefore, if Romans 8:10 can be applied to the GC of Matthew 24:14 as being fulfilled in AD 70, it can also be applied to the GC of Acts 1:8 as being fulfilled by AD 70.
Jews from “every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:4-5) were saved and empowered by the Holy Spirit to go fulfill the GC of Acts 1:8 to “the end of the earth/land” of the Roman Empire. As R.C. Sproul points out, the book of Acts describes four Pentecost events based upon Acts 1:8. Since that is the case, the book of Acts maps out the success of the GC of Acts 1:8 — thus showing how the sign of the GC was being fulfilled and giving Paul his imminent expectation of the resurrection (Acts 24:15YLT).
Keith Mathison connecting the GC with the the timing of the coming of Christ in Acts 1 writes:
“The time frame (of Christ’s Second Coming) is hinted at in the preceding context. The disciples are given a commission to be Christ’s witnesses “in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The implication is that Christ’s visible return will follow the completion of the mission to the remotest part of the earth.” (Postmillennialism, 117).
According to Mathison in the above quote, when the Great Commission in verse 8 is fulfilled, then the Second Coming of verse 11 will occur. Is this not what we see in the Olivet Discourse – the gospel must first be preached to all the nations and throughout the world before the Coming of Christ can be fulfilled? There is NO exegetical evidence that the GC and coming of Christ in Acts 1-2 is any different from that of Jesus’ teaching in the OD. Postmillennialism’s contention that there are two Great Commissions given in the New Testament—one fulfilled before AD 70 and another that will be fulfilled before the allegedly yet-future Second (Third) Coming—is altogether arbitrary.
|The Olivet Discourse||Acts 1-2|
|1. Only the Father has authority and knows the day and hour of the Kingdom’s arrival (Lk. 17:20-37; Lk. 21:27-32; Mt. 24:36).||1. Only the Father has authority and knows the time and dates of the kingdom’s arrival (Acts 1:3-7).|
|2. The Holy Spirit (& charismata) would be given to boldly fulfill the G.C. (cf. Mt. 10:17-23; Mrk. 13:10-13)||2. The Holy Spirit (charismata) would be given to boldly fulfill the G.C. (Acts 1:4-8).
|3. Jesus would come from heaven upon His glory cloud in their generation (cf. Mt. 24:14-34).
|3. Jesus would come from heaven upon His glory cloud in their generation (cf. Acts 1:11; 2:20-40).
Back to the ONE GC being fulfilled before Jesus’ ONE Second Coming event to close the OC age in AD 70.
|Prophecy had begun to be fulfilled:||Prophecy would be fulfilled “shortly”:|
|“And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues [Gk. glossa], as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation [Gk. ethnos] under heaven. (Acts 2:4-5)||“And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth/land [Gk. ge], and to every nation [Gk. ethnos], and kindred and tongue [Gk. glossa], and people.” (Rev. 14:6).
“The scene is Pentecost, 30 A.D. (cf. Heb. 12:22-24). This is when the gospel began to be preached under the authority of the great commission (cf. Matt. 28:18-20; Mk. 16:15-16; Lk. 24:46-49) and the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8; 2:1-4; 33; 1 Pet. 1:12). From here the gospel was preached to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people (cf. Matt. 24:14; Mk. 13:10; Rom. 1:16; 10:18; Col. 1:23).” (Arthur Ogden, The Avenging of the Apostles and Prophets Commentary on Revelation, pp. 292-293).
Gary DeMar sees no problem with Revelation 14:6 being another depiction of the GC and therefore the nations (Gk. ethnos) and those dwelling on the earth/land (Gk. ge) being a local fulfillment. Once again, if Romans 10:18 and Revelation 14:6 can be used to show how Matthew 24:14 was fulfilled in AD 70, they can also be applied to show how Acts 1:8 was fulfilled by AD 70!
Since I have touched upon the Charismatic movement here in relation to the GC, I will point out the obvious in that when the Jews spoke in miraculous tongues (Gk. glossa) or human languages (that they had never studied) that were among those nations. This was not some gibberish that Charismatics are trying to pawn off as duplicating the same “miracle” as what happened throughout the book of Acts. No “private prayer language” of gibberish in the book of Acts in relation to the GC being fulfilled. The gift of tongues (along with the other miraculous sign and revelatory gifts) had a very specific purpose in the first century Church that is no present today. It went hand in hand as being a sign to fulfill the GC before Jesus’ Second Coming would close the OC age. From that point forward the Church matured from the OC system and no longer needs those “childish” gifts of confirmation to demonstrate how those OT promises would be fulfilled “in Christ” and through the Church.
As my friend Don Preston has pointed out, the Holy Spirit had the Apostle Paul use every Greek word Jesus used to describe the sign of the Great Commission – as having already been fulfilled within that AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” to close the OC age. The Apostle Paul couldn’t have made it any clearer that He was following the ONE GC teaching as set forth by Jesus’ teaching in the OD. Therefore, Paul understood it as a sign marking the genuine imminence of Christ’s Second Coming, final crushing of Satan, the liberation of creation, redemption of the body and resurrection of the just and unjust (cf. Rms. 8:18-23YLT; 13:11-12; 16:20; Acts 24:15YLT).
Postmillennialists such as Mathison and other Futurists insist that Jesus’ physical body was seen for some period of time as He ascended into the sky. However, verse nine simply says, “He was lifted up, and a cloud received Him from their eyes.” Jesus was certainly seen just before He was “lifted up” (Acts 1:9). But it is not at all certain that He was directly seen as He ascended into the sky.
In verse 11, the disciples were told that Jesus would come in the manner that they had seen Him enter heaven (the sky). The continuity (or similarity) of Him coming as He had entered heaven is found in the fact that He would come in the heavenly glory-cloud of His Father (Matt. 16:27). Jesus was not physically seen after He was received into the glory-cloud. It was while He was hidden from sight in that cloud that He was indirectly seen entering the sky. A son can “see his father” as his fathers plane is taking off the runway and off into the sky, without directly physically seeing his father’s body. In seeing the plane (which contains his father and the other passengers), he can still correctly say, “There’s dad, and there he goes.” And He was to come in like manner. Therefore, He would not be physically or directly seen when He came “in like manner,” in the cloud, to indwell His church in the end of the old covenant age (Luke 17:20–37; John 14:2–3, 23).
The phrase “in like manner” simply means “in a similar way” – not exactly the same way (which seem to be how most falsely interpret the passage). Jesus didn’t ascend riding on a horse with a sword proceeding from His mouth did He? Did “every eye” on the planet earth see Him leave? “The exact same way” argument offered by hyper- literalists self-emplodes upon itself.
Postmillennialists such as Mathison are not correct when they say that Jesus was going to come back in the same way that He “departed.” The Scriptures say that Jesus would come in the same way He had entered the sky. He entered the sky hidden from literal eye sight in the cloud of God’s glory.
Here is the order of events:
1. As they looked, He was taken up (Acts 1:9).
2. A cloud received Him from their eyes (Acts 1:9).
These first two events could very well have happened simultaneously. As Mathison himself admits, the verse could be translated, “He was lifted up; that is, a cloud received Him out of their sight.” (From Age to Age, 459). It is a very real possibility that Jesus was instantly hidden in the cloud at the moment His feet left the earth.
3. Then the disciples saw Him going into the sky. That is, they looked intently into the sky as He was ascending in the cloud (Acts 1:10–11).
In the Old Testament, God was never literally or directly seen coming in His glory when He judged or saved Israel and other nations. Jesus was not literally seen again after He entered the cloud of God’s glory. He was “taken up in glory” (1 Tim. 3:16) and He would come in glory as the Ancient of Days.
The Lord God had become flesh. John bore testimony to the fact that looking at and touching Jesus was to look at and touch God Himself (John 1:14; 1 John 1:1). God was physically seen in the flesh, but this was temporary for the second person of the Godhead (Heb. 5:7), even as He had been born into and under the old covenant system with its temporal types and shadows (Gal. 4:4; Rom. 5–8; 2 Cor. 3; Heb. 8:13). Though Jesus is no longer in the flesh, He forever retains His human nature. He is forever Man, even as the saints in heaven today, who are no longer in their physical bodies, are still human/man by nature. Neither the Son of Man nor those who are in Him, whether in heaven or on earth, are “nonhuman” as some futurists theorize.
Ironically, the point of the question, “Why do you stand here looking into the sky,” was that Jesus was not going to return to His physical form. It was futile for the disciples to long for Jesus to return to the earthly form He had taken when He was born of Mary. In His ascension, Jesus had returned to His pre-incarnate glory. The question of the two men was rhetorical, and it meant, “There is no use in standing here longing for Jesus to return to you and to be as He was in the days of His flesh. He will come, but He will come in the manner you saw Him enter heaven—hidden from physical eyes in the cloud of the Father’s glory.”
We agree with the majority of commentators and cross reference systems which see the in-like-manner coming of Jesus in Acts 1:11 as being parallel with the coming of Jesus on or in the cloud(s) in Matthew 16:27–28, 24:30–31, 26:64–68; Luke 21:27, and Revelation 1:7. Mathison and Gentry, however, wrench Acts 1:11 from those Scriptures. They admit that Christ was figuratively “seen” (perceived, understood) at a figurative “coming” in/on the clouds in AD 70, but they deny that this was the fulfillment of Acts 1:11.
This brings us to another problem. Mathison writes of Matthew 24:30 in his book Postmillennialism:
. . . [T]he “coming” of the Son of Man is His coming in judgment upon Jerusalem (see vv. 23–28), which is intimately connected with His ascension to the right hand of God (cf. Dan. 7:13–14). (Keith A. Mathison, Postmillennialism: An Eschatology of Hope (Phillipsburg, NJ: 1999), 114).
Later, in WSTTB, Mathison goes further and identifies the Ascension with the coming of Christ in AD 70:
. . . [W]hen [Jesus] makes reference to “the coming of the Son of Man,” . . . He may have been referring . . . to his ascension . . . and the judgment on Jerusalem. . . . ” (182, emphasis added)
For Mathison, Christ’s “coming” in Daniel 7:13–14 is somehow both a literal, visible “going up” in a literal cloud in about AD 30 and a figurative “coming” to Jerusalem from heaven in figurative clouds in AD 70. The confusion inherent in this position is plain enough. Mathison says that “the coming of the Son of Man” in Daniel 7:13– 14 is a reference to the Ascension. But then Mathison says that when Jesus used the term, He was referring to the Ascension and to the destruction of Jerusalem. Yet there is not one instance where Jesus spoke of the coming of the Son of Man where it can be taken to be a reference to His Ascension. In every case, it is His coming to earth in judgment and salvation. But this is only the tip of the Iceberg of Confusion.
Even though Mathison says that Jesus’ “coming” in AD 70 was “intimately connected with His ascension,” and even though Mathison says that both the Ascension and His coming in judgment in AD 70 are equally “the coming of the Son of Man,” and even though Mathison admits that both events were with a cloud/clouds and in the glory of the Father, and that both events were seen (Acts 1:11; Matt. 26:64), Mathison nevertheless maintains that Jesus’ “coming” in AD 70 was not the “in-like-manner” coming promised in Acts 1:11. Mathison’s position is an ineffable tangle of exegetical double vision, contradiction, and consummate confusion.
Partial Preterist Milton Terry, in contrast, took a lucid, biblical approach, seeing Matthew 24:30–31, 34; Acts 1:11; and Revelation 1:7 as all being fulfilled in the fall of Jerusalem in the end of the age:
“Whatever the real nature of the parousia, as contemplated in this prophetic discourse, our Lord unmistakably associates it with the destruction of the temple and city, which he represents as the signal termination of the pre-Messianic age. The coming on clouds, the darkening of the heavens, the collapse of elements, are, as we have shown above, familiar forms of apocalyptic language, appropriated from the Hebrew prophets.
Acts i, 11, is often cited to show that Christ’s coming must needs be spectacular, “in like manner as ye beheld him going into the heaven.” But (1) in the only other three places where [“in like manner”] occurs, it points to a general concept rather than the particular form of its actuality. Thus, in Acts vii, 28, it is not some particular manner in which Moses killed the Egyptian that is notable, but rather the certain fact of it. In 2 Tim. iii, 8, it is likewise the fact of strenuous opposition rather than the special manner in which Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses. And in Matt. xxiii, 37, and Luke xiii, 34, it is the general thought of protection rather than the visible manner of a mother bird that is intended. Again (2), if Jesus did not come in that generation, and immediately after the great tribulation that attended the fall of Jerusalem, his words in Matt. xvi, 27, 28, xxiv, 29, and parallel passages are in the highest degree misleading. (3) To make the one statement of the angel in Acts i, 11, override all the sayings of Jesus on the samesubject and control their meaning is a very one-sided method of biblical interpretation. But all the angel’s words necessarily mean is that as Jesus has ascended into heaven so he will come from heaven. And this main thought agrees with the language of Jesus and the prophets.” (Milton S. Terry, A Study of the Most Notable Revelations of God and of Christ (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 246-247).
As Mathison admits in one book but denies in another, the immediate context links Christ’s in-like-manner return to the fulfillment of the Great Commission (v. 8; Matt. 24:14, 27, 30; Rom. 10:18). The Great Commission was fulfilled in Christ’s generation.
Premise #1: The “in like manner” coming of Christ and His kingdom in Acts 1:6, 11 is fulfilled when the G.C. of Acts 1:8 is fulfilled.
Premise #2: The gospel was preached and “went out to all the earth” in Paul’s day (Rms. 10:18) and the spiritual NC kingdom arrived at Christ’s coming in the AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” (Lk. 21:27-32; Lk. 17:20-37).
Conclusion: The “in like manner” coming of Christ and His kingdom in Acts 1:6, 11 was fulfilled in AD 70 when the gospel was preached and “went out to all the earth” (Rms. 10:18) as a sign just prior to AD 70.
Jesus was “lifted up” and hidden from sight in the cloud of glory. He ascended into the sky hidden in the cloud, as His disciples watched. He was to come in the same manner in which the disciples saw Him enter into the sky: hidden in the cloud of the glory of His Father. He was “seen” in that Day in the same way that Yahweh was “seen” whenever He came on a cloud to judge nations in the Old Testament.
This was the one and only future coming of Christ that was promised in the New Testament. Therefore, Christ returned in AD 70. The analogy of Scripture confirms this interpretation. It does not confirm Mathison’s, which rips Acts 1:9–11 from its immediate and broader New Testament contexts. We agree with Terry’s comments on Matthew 24:30–31, 34; Acts 1:11; and Revelation 1:7. “We accept upon the testimony of the Scriptures” that Christ returned on/in a cloud/clouds in that generation. (Milton S. Terry, Biblical Hermeneutic (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1990), 468, n.1 (emphases added).
I would also add that there are some Postmillennial Partial Preterists such as author Mike Bull that also “accept the testimony of the Scriptures” and follow Terry’s view and believe the coming of the Christ in Acts 1:11; Matthew 24-25 and Revelation 1:7 was fulfilled in AD 70.
In concluding Part 1 of the “House Divided” and “Break-up of Postmillennialism” in Matthew 24-25, we have begun to see that when we combine what Gentry and DeMar are teaching in the OD, the Second Coming, judgment of the dead, and judgment of Satan (Mt. 24:36–25:31-46) was fulfilled by AD 70. Gentry takes the creedal view of this section being the “actual” Second Coming event, while DeMar and Mathison teach this coming was fulfilled spiritually in AD 70. The structure of Matthew 24-25 is recapitulatory and thus it finds it’s fulfillment in the AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” to close the OC age with the destruction of the Temple.
Proposition #1 (Gentry, Mathison, Amillennialism): Matthew 24:36–25:31-46 is Christ’s Second Coming event and is the same coming of Christ as is in 1 Thess. 4-5; 1 Cor. 15; Acts 1:11 and Heb. 9:28.
Proposition #2 (DeMar): Matthew 24:36–25:31-46 is descriptive of Christ’s spiritual coming to close the OC age in AD 70 and “nothing more.”
Conclusion/Full Preterism/Synthesis/”Reformed and always reforming”: Matthew 24:36–25:31-46 is descriptive of Christ’s spiritual Second Coming event to close the OC age in AD 70 and “nothing more.” It is also the same coming of Christ as is in 1 Thess. 4-5; 1 Cor. 15; Acts 1:11 and Heb. 9:28 and therefore these texts were also fulfilled spiritually in AD 70 and “nothing more” (i.e. not the end of world history or a physical coming of Jesus).
In regards to the GC, the classic and historical views of Amillennialism and Premillennialism are correct to point out that there is only ONE GC predicted in the NT and Postmillennialism is correct that the Greek words used to describe this GC need not be interpreted globally, but locally to fit within the NT imminent expectation.
Premise #1 (Amill & Premill): The NT is only addressing ONE GC in Matthew 24:14/28:18-20; Mark 13:10/Mark 16:15-20 and Acts 1:8.
Premise #2 (Postmill): The GC of Matthew 24:14 was fulfilled in AD 70.
Conclusion (Full Preterism): The NT is only addressing ONE GC in Matthew 24:14/Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 13:10/Mark 16:15-20 and Acts 1:8 and it was fulfilled by AD 70.
And what of the coming of Christ and the arrival of the Kingdom, in relation to the GC in Acts 1-2 and Matthew 24-25?
Premise #1 (Amill & Premill): The coming of Christ and arrival of the kingdom in Acts 1-2 is the same event as described for us in Matthew 24-25; Luke 17 and Luke 21.
Premise #2 (Postmill): The coming of Christ and arrival of the Kingdom in Acts 2; Matthew 24-25; Luke 17; and Luke 21 was fulfilled spiritually in AD 70.
Conclusion/Synthesis (Full Preterism): The ONE Second Coming of Christ and arrival of the Kingdom in Acts 1-2; Matthew 24-25; Luke 17; and Luke 21 was fulfilled spiritually in AD 70 to close the OC age.
These two “House Divided” positions within Postmillennialism itself and within Postmillennialism and both Amillennialism and Premillennialism have actually formed Full Preterism, therefore these Futurist systems cannot in any sense be seen as refuting it. Selah.
To Watch these Lectures or Read this Series go to:
1). First Lecture at the PPW 2017 Conference Part 1: Problems for Postmillennial Partial Preterism – My Approach and Methodology (the Analogy of Faith) http://fullpreterism.com/my-lecture-on-the-problems-of-postmillennialism-at-the-2017-ppw-conference-the-wedding-and-resurrection-motif/
2). First Lecture at the 2017 PPW Conference Part 2: Problems for Postmillennial Partial Preterism – God’s Divorce, Re-marriage and NC Betrothal http://fullpreterism.com/my-lectures-given-at-the-2017-ppw-on-the-problems-with-postmillennialism-wedding-resurrection-part-2-gods-ot-marriage-divorce-betrothal-and-remarriage-promises/
3). First Lecture at the 2017 PPW Conference Part 3: Problems for Postmillennial Partial Preterism – Wedding and Resurrection (Jn. 3-5) http://fullpreterism.com/my-2017-ppw-lecture-on-the-problems-with-postmillennialism-wedding-resurrection-part-3-john-3-5-and-nt-betrothal-and-marriage/
4). First Lecture at the 2017 PPW Conference Part 4: Problems for Postmillennial Partial Preterism – Wedding and Resurrection (Mt. 8:10-12/Mt. 22:1-14/Mt. 25:1-13) http://fullpreterism.com/my-2017-ppw-lecture-on-the-problems-with-postmillennialism-wedding-and-resurrection-part-4-mt-810-12-221-14-251-13isa-256-9/
5). Second Lecture at the 2017 PPW Conference Part 5: Problems for Postmillennial Partial Preterism – The Parable of the Wheat and Tares and the Resurrection (Mt. 13:39-43/Dan. 12:2-3) http://fullpreterism.com/my-2017-ppw-lecture-on-the-problems-with-postmillennialism-in-the-parable-of-the-wheat-and-tares-the-end-of-the-age-and-the-resurrection-mt-1339-43dan-122-3/
6). Second Lecture at the 2017 PPW Conference Part 1: Problems for Postmillennial Partial Preterism in the Olivet Discourse – Structure, Context, the Disciples Question(s), the end of the age and the Great Commission (Mt. 23-24; Mt. 24:3, 14 = Acts 1:8-11) http://fullpreterism.com/lecture-2-at-the-2017-ppw-problems-for-postmillennialism-in-the-olivet-discourse-house-divided-the-break-up-of-postmillennialism-and-the-formation-of-full-preterism-taking-its-place/
7). Second Lecture at the PPW 2017 Conference Part 2: Problems for Postmillennial Partial Preterism in the Olivet Discourse – “In Fulfillment of ALL that has been Written” (Lk. 21:22 = Dan. 7:9-14; 12:1-7, 13; Isa. 25:6-9—27:12-13) http://fullpreterism.com/2804-2/
8). Second Lecture at the PPW 2017 Conference Part 3: Problems for Postmillennial Partial Preterism in the Olivet Discourse (Resurrection Cont.) – the Trumpet Gathering of Matthew 24:30-31 = the Trumpet Catching Away of 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 http://fullpreterism.com/my-ppw-conference-lecture-2-the-problems-for-postmillennialism-in-the-olivet-discourse-matthew-2430-31-1-thessalonians-415-17/
9). Second Lecture at the PPW 2017 Conference Part 4: Problems for Postmillennial Partial Preterism in the Olivet Discourse (Resurrection Cont.) – the Trumpet Gathering of Matthew 24:30-31 = the Trumpet Change of 1 Corinthians 15 http://fullpreterism.com/ppw-2017-the-problems-for-postmillennialism-the-olivet-discourse-matthew-24-25-and-the-resurrection-of-1-corinthians-15/
10). My Second Lecture at the PPW 2017 Conference Part 5: Problems for Postmillennial Partial Preterism in the Olivet Discourse (Resurrection Cont.) Redemption and Redemption of the Body Luke 21:27-28 = Romans 8:18-23YLT/11:15-27/13:11-12 http://fullpreterism.com/my-ppw-conference-lecture-2-problems-for-postmillennialism-in-the-olivet-discourse-part-4-resurrection-cont-the-redemption-and-redemption-of-the-body-luke-2127-28-romans-818-23ylt/
11). My Second Lecture at the PPW 2017 Conference Part 6: Problems for Postmillennial Partial Preterism in the Olivet Discourse – Bringing Healing and Bridging the Gap between Gentry and DeMar’s Eschatological Madness and House Divided Approach to Matthew 24:35—25:31-46 and Revelation 20:5-15 http://fullpreterism.com/my-ppw-lecture-2-problems-for-postmillennialism-in-the-olivet-discourse-part-6-the-eschatological-madness-of-gentry-and-demar-in-matthew-24-25-and-revelation-205-15/