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THE RESURRECTION FROM THE GRAVES OF JOHN 5:28-29 WAS FULFILLED SPIRITUALLY IN AD 70 – A CONTINUED CHALLENGE TO PARTIAL PRETERISM / KENNETH GENTRY

Commentators have long understood that Daniel 12:2 is the source for Jesus’ teaching on the resurrection in John 5:28-29 because the only OT passage which mentions a resurrection for both the righteous and the wicked is Daniel 12:2 and the only OT passage addressing “eternal life” is Daniel 12:2.  G.K. Beale points out an additional connection – in that Jesus is following the (OG) LXX of Daniel 12:1-2, 4 when it comes to this coming resurrection “hour” of both believers and unbelievers [1]:

AD 30

1.  Daniel 12:1:  “And at that hour…”

1.  John 5:25:  “…an hour is coming and now is…”

AD 70

2.  Daniel 12:1:  “And at that hour…”

2.  John 5:28:  “…for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice,”

AD 30

1.   Daniel 12:2:  “Many of those who sleep in the width of the earth will arise   [anatesontai]…some unto eternal life and others to reproach…and to eternal shame.”

1.  John 5:24:  “…he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life,   and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into   life.”

AD 70

2.  Daniel 12:2:  “Many of those who sleep in the width of the earth will arise   [anatesontai]…some unto eternal life and others to reproach…and to eternal shame.”

2.  John 5:29:  “and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection   [anatasin] of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection [anatasin] of judgment.” (also related:  1 John 2:18: “Dear children it is the last hour…” and Revelation 14:7:  “…the hour of His judgment has come.”).

Partial Preterist theologians have finally conceded to Full Preterism that the resurrection of Daniel 12:2 was fulfilled in AD 70 spiritually – “when the power of the holy people is/was completely shattered” (v. 7) and that the last hour of John’s eschatology in 1 John 2:17-18 and Revelation 14:7 was fulfilled in AD 70.

Kenneth Gentry wrote the following of the resurrection in Daniel 12:2 on his Facebook page:

“Dan 12 sees the “resurrection” of Israel in the birth of the Christian Church, which is the New Israel. Thus, it bears similarities with Eze 37 and the resurrection of the dry bones of Israel.”

Dan 12 is not dealing with bodily resurrection but national resurrection (as does Eze 37). Dan 12 sees the “resurrection” of Israel in the birth of the Christian Church, which is the New Israel. Thus, it bears similiarities with Eze 37 and the resurrection of the dry bones of Israel.”[2]

And in his third addition of his book on Postmillennialism he concedes again:

“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.”[3]

This is practically the same view taken by James Jordan in his recent commentary on Daniel:

“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.”[4]

“Revelation takes up where Daniel leaves off, and deals mostly with the Apostolic Age and the death and resurrection of the Church.”[5]

“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.”[6]

When I challenged Gentry on how the NT develops the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 as also referring to AD 70 at the Criswell conference on the millennium in the Q & A period, he changed his tune and now gives Daniel 12:2 a double fulfillment – an AD 70 spiritual tyological fulfillment and then another literal fulfillment at the end of history so he can appease creedal supporters.  But now Gentry is once again guilty of cherry picking Daniel 12:2 from the rest of the events in this chapter.  As I wrote in our second edition of “House Divided Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology…,”

“Gentry gives Daniel 12:2 two fulfillments but won’t allow dispensationalists or any other futurist system to do the same thing with the Great Tribulation, the three and a half years, or the Abomination of Desolation in Daniel 12 or Daniel 9:27.” (HD, 94).In commenting on the resurrection of Daniel 12:2 Gentry mentions the spiritual and corporate nature of the resurrection for Israel of coming out of her “graves” in Ezekiel 37 to support his corporate view of Israel being raised into the new covenant Israel by AD 70.  Well, since there was a spiritual and corporate resurrection of the dead coming out of their “graves” in Ezekiel 37 and there is a spiritual fulfillment for the dead rising within the immediate context of John 5:24-26, there is no exegetical reason why the new covenant anti-type coming resurrection “hour” out of “graves” in John 5:28-29 is not also a corporate and spiritual resurrection.  And if James Jordan is claiming that Daniel’s soul was raised out of Abraham’s Bosom or Hades into God’s presence to inherit eternal life in AD 70, why isn’t this the same kind of resurrection Jesus is describing in John 5:28-29?

Since Partial Preterism is now teaching that the resurrection of John 5:28-29 is the resurrection of Daniel 12:2 and are fulfilled together, and that the resurrection of Daniel 12:2 happened in AD 70, it necessarily follows that they need to prove without a shadow of doubt that the resurrection of John 5:28-29 is a physical  / biological resurrection which takes place at the end of history and not the AD 70 one.

David Green in response to Robert Strimple in the second edition of our book House Divided Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology A Preterist Response to When Shall These Things Be?, has some great comments on this crucial passage (see pages 178-180):

“Strimple Argument #6: John 5:28-29 obviously teaches a physical resurrection of the dead in that it speaks of a time in which “all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment” (297).

Answer: In order to understand John 5:28 and 29, we must first look three verses above it, in John 5:25, where Jesus said that the hour “now is” when “the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live.”  As most Reformed interpreters agree, Jesus in that verse was referring to the preaching of His death and resurrection.  The preaching of that message commenced at Pentecost.  “The dead” were physically living people who were spiritually dead in sin, and “the voice of the Son of God” was the gospel.  Having heard the gospel, those who were spiritually “dead” were spiritually resurrected.  They lived in that they received eternal life through faith in the gospel (“the voice of the Son of God”).

Then, in verses 28 and 29, Jesus expanded His teaching on the resurrection to include those who were not only spiritually dead, but who were also physically dead.  He did not call them “dead” (as He had already called the living who were spiritually dead), but He referred to them through another figure of speech as “all who are in the graves.”  They were not literally in their graves or tombs, of course, but were in Hades/Sheol.

What is often missed in this passage is that, like the physically living in verse 25, the physically dead in verse 28 were also going to live by means of hearing Christ’s “voice.”  As we know from verse 25, that “voice” is the gospel.  The physically dead therefore were going to hear the gospel (cf. 1 Pet. 4:6.) and were, as a result of hearing the gospel, going to be resurrected (regenerated, born from out of death and Hades).  This means that the physically dead were, like the physically living, spiritually dead.  And this inescapably means that both the physically living and the physically dead were going to be spiritually resurrected by means of the gospel-voice of the Son of God.  One resurrection in two main stages:  First, the last days saints; then, the Old Testament dead (“the rest of the dead” in Revelation 20:5). Note the parallels between John 4:21, 23 and John 5:25, 28:

1. . . . [T]he hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth. . . . (Jn. 4:23)

2. . . . [T]he hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. (Jn. 4:21)

1. . . . [T]he hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. (Jn. 5:25)

2. . . . [T]he hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice. . . . (Jn. 5:28)

These two sets of prophecies are parallel.  They speak of the same timeframes, which were these:

Pentecost (AD 30)

1. The true worshipers would worship the Father in spirit and in truth.

1. The dead would hear the voice of the Son of God, and live.

Fall of Jerusalem (AD 70)

2. God’s worshipers would no longer worship Him in Jerusalem.

2. All who were in the graves would hear His voice.

After hearing the gospel, the dead were raised out of their Adamic graves (Hades) in the end of the age.  And those among them who believed the gospel received eternal life in the kingdom of God.  But those who hated the gospel (those who had done evil) were raised out of Hades only to stand before God and to enter into “eternal punishment” / “the second death” (Matt. 25:46; Jn. 5:28-29; Rev. 20:14).”

Another challenge for Partial Preterist Kenneth Gentry, is that he agrees with full preterism that Jesus’ “already and not yet” eschatological “hour” in John 4 is between AD 30 – AD 70 when the old covenant mountain and temple worship is removed and the new was established.[7]  But then Gentry asserts with no exegetical justification that Jesus’ same phrases on the coming eschatological “hour” in John 5 allegedly deal with the end of time?!?  We again find this arbitrary and exegetically unconvincing.

Jesus interprets Jesus – Resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 to be fulfilled at the end of the Old Covenant Age in AD 70 

We have further evidence that Jesus identifies the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 and John 5:28-29 to be fulfilled spiritually in AD 70.  In Jesus’ teaching elsewhere in the gospels we find that He posits the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 (referencing it directly) to be fulfilled at the end of His old covenant “this age” “gathering” and or in His AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” (Matt. 13:39-43; Matt. 24:3, 30-31, 34).  Again, Partial Preterism has conceded to Full Preterism that the “end of the age” in Matthew 13 and 24 is not referring to the end of world history, but rather the end of the Old Covenant age in AD 70:

“A clear understanding of the parable of the wheat and tares [Matthew 13:39-43] emerges only after the proper translation of aion (age) and the biblical teaching concerning the two ages.  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 sings arose (Matt. 24:16-22); indeed this would correspond with the angels’ work of harvesting the elect (24:30).”[8]

“It is after hearing about the desolation of their “house” [Matthew 23:40-38] – the temple – that the disciples ask about the “temple buildings” (24:1).  Jesus answered the disciples’ questions relating to the time and signs of Jerusalem’s destruction, always with the background of Matthew 23 in view, since His comments in that chapter had precipitated the questions (24:3).  The Old Covenant order would end with the destruction of 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.”[9]

If Jesus’ teaching on the “end of the age” in Matthew 13 and 24 is referring to the end of the Old Covenant age in AD 70, then according to Jesus, the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 was fulfilled at this time as well.

John interprets John (John 5/Revelation 20)

No one disagrees that the resurrection of John 5:28-29 is the end of the millennium resurrection of Revelation 20.  In Revelation those participating in the “first resurrection” is a subject that has been previously addressed in chapters 7 and 14 – these being the first century Jewish “first fruits” or 144,000 that were the first to believe in Christ and continued enduring through the great tribulation until the end. Therefore, they would partake in the harvest/resurrection at the end of the Old Covenant age. These are those who were coming out of their “graves” through the preaching of the gospel (John 5:24-27) and would soon participate and be joined with the rest of the dead in the consummative resurrection event.

In our book (HD, 131-133) I gave seven brief exegetical, orthodox, and historical points which demonstrates that the end of the millennium resurrection of Revelation 20 was fulfilled during AD 30 – AD 70:

1)  Kenneth Gentry informs us that the book of Revelation is about things which were past, present, and “about to be” fulfilled in John’s day (Rev. 1:19 YLT). There is no exegetical evidence that Revelation 20 does not fall within these inspired parameters.  In fact even Gentry’s reformed peers understand that if one interpret the imminent time texts at the beginning and end to be referring to AD 70, then everything is fulfilled by AD 70, “But 1:3 and 22:10 are like bookends enclosing the whole prophecy of Revelation. The fulfillment of everything, not just a part, is near.”[10]

2) G.K. Beale has reminded us that it is exegetical and orthodox to believe that the thousand years is not just a symbolic number, but it is one that does not have to be taken to describe a long time (ie. thousands of years etc…): “The primary point of the thousand years is probably not a figurative reference to a long time…”[11]

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

4)  Reformed Partial Preterists such as Keith Mathison, Kenneth Gentry, and James Jordan teach that the content of Revelation 1-19 and 21-22 was fulfilled by AD 70, at which time there was a judgment and resurrection of the dead and arrival of the new creation. And amillennialists such as Simon Kistemaker teach that Revelation 20:5–15 recapitulates the same judgment and consummation scenes that are depicted in chapters 1–19 and 21–22. Full Preterists hold to both of these Reformed and “orthodox” positions in interpreting the book of Revelation.

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

6)  If it is true that a).  the invisible coming of Christ in both Matthew 24 – 25 is referring to the AD 70 judgment as Mathison and other partial preterists are now proposing and if it is true that b).  “John’s version of Matthew 24-25 is found in the book of Revelation” and if it is true that c).  Matthew 24:27-31—25:31ff. is descriptive of the one end of the age Second Coming, judgment and resurrection event (the classic amillennial or creedal position) then d).  the authors of WSTTB? have some explaining to do in that their views form the “this generation” forty years millennial view of full preterism:

Matthew 24-25 Revelation 20:5-15

a.  Resurrection and judgment Matt. 24:30-31 (cf. Matt. 13:39-43/Dan. 12:2-3) Matt. 25:31-46 (cf. Matt. 16:27)

a.  Resurrection and judgment Rev. 20:5-15

b.  De-creation heaven and earth pass/flee Matt. 24:29, 35 (cf. Matt. 5:17-18)

b.  De-creation heaven and earth pass/flee Rev. 20:11 (cf. Rev. 6:14; 16:20; 21:1)

c.  Christ on throne to judge Matt. 25:31

c.  God on throne to judge Rev. 20:11

d.  Wicked along with Devil eternally punished Matt. 25:41-46

d.  Wicked along with Devil eternally punished Rev. 20:10, 14-15

7)  If it is true that a).  The judgment (opening of the book) and “hour of the end” resurrection of the dead in Daniel 12:1-4, 13 was fulfilled by AD 70 (per Gentry) and if it is true that b).  the judgment (opening of the book) and “hour of the end” resurrection of the dead in Daniel 12:1-4, 13 is the same eschatological time of the end events described for us in Revelation 20:5-15 (classic amillennial view) and if it is true that c). “John in the book of Revelation picks up where Daniel leaves off” with “parallels” between Daniel 12 and Revelation 20 being hermeneutically valid to make, then d).  Once again the authors of WSTTB? have some explaining to do in that their views form the “this generation” forty years millennial view of Full Preterism:

Daniel 12:1-2 Revelation 20:5-15

a.  Only those whose names are written in the book would be delivered/saved from eternal condemnation Dan. 12:1-2

a.  Only those whose names are written in the book would be delivered/saved from the lake of fire Rev. 20:12-15

b.  This is the time for the resurrection and judgment of the dead Dan. 12:1-2

b.  This is the time for the resurrection and judgment of the dead Rev. 20:5-15

Therefore, the reader should be able to discern that the Full Preterist view of the millennium is: 1) consistent with the teaching of Revelation, 2) falls within the “orthodox” views the Reformed church, 3) is in harmony with the analogy of Scripture, and 4) has historical support from Rabbis who saw a forty-year transition period between the two ages. Our view on the millennium is exegetically sound and orthodox.   It is not as “difficult” as some try and portray it.

Pauline eschatology agrees 

Paul referring to the resurrection of Daniel 12:2 states:

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

Conclusion 

The resurrection from the “graves” of John 5:28-29 is no more of a literal biological resurrection than the resurrection from the “graves” of Ezekiel 37:12.  Righteous souls such as Daniel’s was raised (Dan. 12:2, 13) out of Hades or Abraham’s Bosom at Christ’s parousia in AD 70 to inherit eternal life in God’s presence.  Jesus identifies the eschatological “gathering” of the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 to take place at the end of His Old Covenant “this age” and in His AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” (Matthew 13; Matthew 24).  The resurrection of John 5:28-29 is the resurrection of  Revelation 20 which is said to be fulfilled in a “soon” or “shortly” AD 70 time frame — a resurrection of “souls” not literal corpses coming to life at the end of history.  Pauline eschatology agrees with Jesus’ and John’s “about to be” resurrection coming to close the OC age in AD 70 as well (Acts 24:15 YLT WEY).

The NT teaching on the resurrection is this:

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

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

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

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

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

1.  The resurrection in the immediate context is spiritual (John 5:24-27).

2.  The eschatological “not yet” coming “hour” of (John 4) is referring to AD 70.

3.  The resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 was fulfilled in AD 70 (Jesus referencing it in John 5:28-29).

4.  Jesus elsewhere teaches that the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 would be fulfilled at the end of the old covenant age in AD 70 (Matthew 13:39-43; Matthew 24:3, 30-31, 34).

5.  John’s eschatological last “hour” in (1 John 2:17-18) and “hour” of judging the dead in (Revelation 14:7) was fulfilled in AD 70.

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

[1]  G.K. Beale, A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of The Old Testament In The New (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2011), 131132.

[2]  This answer was taken off of Gentry’s facebook. Com page: http://www.facebook.com/home.php

[3]  Kenneth L. Gentry Jr. HE SHALL HAVE DOMINION (Draper, VA:  Apologetics Group Media, 2009 Third edition), 538.

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

[5]  Ibid., 621.

[6]  Ibid. 628.

[7]  Kenneth Gentry, FOUR VIEWS ON THE BOOK OF REVELATION, IVP., 43.  Kenneth Gentry, THREE VIEWS ON THE MILLENNIUM AND BEYOND, (Grand Rapids MI:  Zondervan, 1999), 246 footnote 45.

[8]  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.

[9]  Gary DeMar, Last Days Madness Obsession of the Modern Church, (Powder Springs GA: American Vision, 1999), 37

[10]  Vern S. Poythress, THE RETURNING KING A GUIDE TO THE BOOK OF REVELATION, (Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P & R Publishing Company, 2000) 34.

[11]  Beale, G. K. (1999). The book of Revelation: A commentary on the Greek text. New International Greek Testament Commentary (1018). Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle, Cumbria: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press.

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