An Exposition of "This Generation” (Matthew 24:34) Part 1

By Michael J. Sullivan

Introduction

In Matthew 24:34 the disciples are told that the signs, the coming of Jesus and the end of the age that the disciples previously asked about (“all these things”), would be fulfilled within their “this generation.” I will begin our study of Matthew 24:34 by quoting various translations that have correctly understood its meaning and from there we will examine accurate definitions from various Bible dictionaries and the lexical evidence. While examining if there is any warrant to interpreting genea in any other way than the contemporaries of Jesus, we will also be examining false interpretations of genea which allegedly teach: 1) that Jesus meant that the entire Jewish race would not pass away until all things were fulfilled. 2) Our contemporary generation which saw Israel become a nation in 1948 is the end time generation. 3) Jesus’ uses the phrase “this generation” to be referring to a future generation that is alive to witnesses these signs whenever they begin to be fulfilled. 4) Jesus is simply describing an evil generation of people that is descriptive of the last days generation – whoever that may be. We will also be looking at key texts in the NT to see how the word “generation” (Gk. genea) is used to give us an even clearer and more definitive interpretation of Matthew 24:34. And lastly, we will examine Matthew 24:34 as the anti-type or the projected terminal “last days” generation of Deuteronomy 32:5, 20. I will argue that Jesus’ use of “this generation” along with Paul’s and Peter’s (Philippians 2:15; Acts 2:40), needs to be seen in the overall context of the new exodus motif in which the Jews expected their Messiah to recapitulate another 40 year New Covenant redemption for Israel and in-gathering of the Continue reading “An Exposition of "This Generation” (Matthew 24:34) Part 1”

House Divided…

A Futurist Review at Last!

House Divided: Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology has been selling now for about two months. In that time, the responses from futurist critics have been less than substantive. There were complaints that the title is a “rip off” of Bahnsen’s and Gentry’s book, House Divided: The Break-Up of Dispensational Theology (1989). There were complaints that the back cover contains an unattributed five-star “review.” (“A Must Read!”) One critic noted that we use the word “hyper-preterism” on the back cover, and then proceeded to declare that we “self-apply” the word and therefore accept it as an accurate description of our belief. He failed to notice the significance of the fact that we put the word in quotation marks. We were referring to so-called “hyper-preterism.”
Many other critics see no need for a further criticism against the book beyond, “Your book disagrees with 2,000 years of church history!” Ah, the joys of hyper-traditionalism. These critics still have not read our response to Charles Hill (chapter two), which deals specifically and directly with this “argument.”
The most stinging of the negative criticisms have come, ironically, from those who have not read the book. One such critic advised everyone to let their pets defecate on it. Another proposed having a public “book burning” in his back yard and posting the event on YouTube. There have been three or four inflammatory, one-star reviews on Amazon. Most, if not all of them, were obviously written by people who had not read the book. All but one of those reviews (so far) were deleted by Amazon.
So much for the first two months of critiques. It was a fun and glorious time. But it ended a week ago on September 4th. That’s the day that a futurist actually began posting a series of critical reviews wherein the arguments of the book are actually addressed. (We understand that there are one or two other such reviews in the works by other futurists.) It’s a fascinating development. The reviewer’s name is Continue reading “House Divided…”

Responding to the Critics: The Little Horn of Daniel 7

The “Little Horn” of Daniel’s Sea-Beast: A Review

Don K. Preston
In the June, 1993 issue of the Christian Courier, Wayne Jackson, an out-spoken critic of Covenant Eschatology, expounds on the little horn of Daniel 7. Our purpose here is not to set forth a positive exegesis of Daniel 7 as much as it is to show the fallacy of Jackson’s article because his interpretation is representative of the view held in the Reformation and Restoration movements.
In his article Jackson examines two views: that of “religious modernism” identifying the little horn as Antiochus Epiphanes; and the premillennial posit that the little horn is a now imminent “AntiChrist.” Upon what basis does he reject these views?
The Antiochan posit is rejected because Antiochus “was dead a hundred years before the fourth beast (the Roman empire) came into power–out of which Daniel’s little horn arose.” The premillennial view is rejected by Jackson because “the little horn of Daniel’s vision arose from the remnants of the Roman empire, which have lain in the dust of antiquity for more than 1000 years. The commencement of the little horn’s power is thus ancient, not modern.” (emp. his)
In other words, Jackson rejects these two views because one happened before the Roman empire came to being and the other comes after the empire perished. This is good logic if the fourth beast is in truth, as we also accept, the Roman empire. Jackson’s argument against these other interpretations may Continue reading “Responding to the Critics: The Little Horn of Daniel 7”

Preterism Demands Universal Health Care (but not how you think)

All scripture from The 1599 Geneva Bible, Copyright 2006 by Tolle Lege Press, White Hall, WV.

This is a general introduction to this topic to spark discussion, not a complete treatise on the issue. Every society required financing of public works, charity and care for all.

Social financing is a necessity in any and every society above the most backward level. If ti is not provided by God’s people, the state must step in and assume the responsibility, or face anarchy. Status Welfarism and social financing have been from antiquity a source of civil corruption, the destruction of the family, and a burden that can bring down the state.”

Often American Christians of the conservative variety have equated Christianity with blind capitalism. The problem is, scripture does not teach a blind capitalistic economic system. It does teach a value for private property and accumulating work through honest healthy work, but it places limits on both. One of the primary issues concerning those in the United States right now is economic policy and universal health care. People on both sides have been using sound bites about freedom of choice, lack of care, helping out those in need, but I have yet to see a consistent biblical response to the question of bailouts, economic stimulus packages and universal health care. So I want to take some time to delve into those issues with you. What does scripture have to say about these issues? As full preterists we believe that scripture defines our actions and responsibilities. We also believe that the dwelling of the New Jerusalem offers healing to all the nations. Is this healing merely spiritual or does it have physical dimensions as well?

Rousas Rushdoony states this idea succinctly: “By undermining the Biblical doctrine of property, capitalism has undermined itself. The godless state and the godless corporation are alike in their disregard for the theological meaning of property.”

Unrestrained capitalism is just as evil as Continue reading “Preterism Demands Universal Health Care (but not how you think)”

The ABC’s of Matthew 24-25=1 Thessalonians 4-5=1 Corinthians 15 Embracing the Organic Development of Full Preterist Synthesis Or the Myth of Orthodox “Unity” on the “Essentials” – You Decide

The ABC’s of Matthew 24-25=1 Thessalonians 4-5=1 Corinthians 15

 Embracing the Organic Development of Full Preterist Synthesis

Or the Myth of Orthodox “Unity” on the “Essentials” You Decide

By Michael J. Sullivan
Copyright 2009 – revised and expanded 2013

Since this article is by far one of my most popular ones and has helped so many people come out of their journey from reformed Amillennialism and Partial Preterism into Full Preterism, I decided to add a section at the end which further demonstrates how Full Preterism synthesizes and is the organic development of the two reformed competing views on many eschatological subjects and key texts — all the while exposing the myth that these two views can somehow be “united” in the alleged future “essentials” of eschatology.  For footnotes of what I say about each view – one should get a copy of our book, House Divided Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology A Preterist Response to When Shall These Things Be?.
Hermeneutics is defined as “the study or science of interpreting the Scriptures.” The Westminster Confession of Faith correctly states that, “The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture, is the Scripture itself; and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly.”[1] J.I. Packer understands this to mean “that we must give ourselves in Bible study to following out the unities, cross-references and topical links which Scripture provides.”[2]
In mathematics and logic: If A bears some relation to B and B bears the same relation to C, then A bears it to C. Or the property of equality is transitive – for if A = B and B = C, then A = C.  Therefore, things which are equal to the same thing are also equal to one another. If equals be added to equals, the wholes are equal.
A = (Matt. 24:27-31, 34)
B = (1 Thess. 4:15-17)
C = (1 Cor. 15)

THE CURRENT CONTRADICTION & DIVIDED HOUSE OF FUTURISM WITHOUT FULL PRETERISM:

Orthodox Reformed Partial Preterism (ex. R.C. Sproul, Kenneth Gentry, Gary DeMar, Keith Mathison, etc…) Teaches the Church That:
A (Matt. 24:27-31) was fulfilled when Christ returned in AD 70 in Jesus’ “this generation” (Matt. 24:34). For the Partial Preterist Jesus’ statement of “this generation” (AD 30-70) connected with the NT’s imminent time texts “at hand,” “shortly,” “soon,” “quickly,” “in a very little while,” “about to,” also refer to an AD 70 fulfillment (cf. Romans 13:11-12; 1 Peter 4:5-7; James 5:7-9; Hebrews 8:13–10:37; Revelation 1:1, 3:11, 10:6-7, 22:6-7, 10-12, 20) and are the “speak more clearly” texts.  We agree with them on this point.  While ignoring the “clear” proposition of Biblical Preterism and traditional Amillennialism that A (Matt. 24:27-31) is equal to B (1 Thess. 4:15-17), they do affirm that both B (1 Thess. 4:15-17) and C (1 Cor. 15) are equal to each other and are the Second Coming and resurrection events.
Orthodox Reformed Classic & Creedal Amillennialism Teaches the Church That:
A (Matt. 24:27-31) = B (1 Thess. 4:15-17) and that both A (Matt. 24:27-31) and B (1 Thess. 4:15-17) = C (1 Cor. 15).  For example the very Reformed Study Bible in which Partial Preterists R.C. Sproul and Keith Mathison are editors we learn this from an Amillennialist contributor concerning Matt. 24:29-31:
“But the language of Matt. 24:31 is parallel to passages like 13:41; 16:27; and 25:31 [passages Partial Preterists say were fulfilled in AD 70], as well as to passages such as 1 Cor. 15:52 and 1 Thess. 4:14-17.  The passage most naturally refers to the Second Coming.”[3]
Luther, Calvin and even the WCF itself affirms that Matt. 24:30-31/Luke 21:27-28 is the Second Coming event.  While ignoring the “clear” proposition of Biblical and Partial Preterism on Jesus’ use of “this generation” and the imminent time texts, the traditional Amilennialist sees that the analogy of Scripture and the fact that the NT only teaches ONE second coming (not a third) is the hermeneutical “speak more clearly” teaching of Scripture.  We agree with them on this proposition as well.

THE BETTER HERMENEUITCS, LOGIC & SYNTHESIS OF BIBLICAL OR FULL PRETERISM 

Orthodox (“straight”) Biblical Preterism Objects To The Combined Contradictory Statements In That If…
A (Matt. 24:27-31) was fulfilled in AD 70, and if A (Matt. 24:27-31) is equal to both B (1 Thess. 4:15-17) and C (1 Cor. 15), then both B (1 Thess. 4:15-17) and C (1 Cor. 15) were fulfilled at Christ’s parousia in AD 70. In other words, “Things which are equal to the same thing are also equal to one another. If equals be added to equals, the wholes are equal.”   
“If A (Matt. 24:27-43) bears some relation to B (1 Thess. 4:15 – 1 Thess. 5)” or “A=B”:
If A (Matt. 24) is = to B (1 Thess. 4-5) and B (1 Thess. 4) is = to C (1 Cor. 15) Then A (Matt. 24) is = to C (1 Cor. 15)

Since A (Mat. 24) = B (1 Thess. 4)
Christ Returns from Heaven 24:30 4:16
With Voice of Arch Angel 24:31 4:16
With Trumpet of God 24:31 4:16
Caught/Gathered Together with/to Christ 24:31 4:17
“Meet” the Lord in the Clouds 24:30 & 25:6 4:17
Exact Time Unknown 24:36 5:1-2
Christ Comes as a Thief 24:43 5:2
Unbelievers Caught Off Guard 24:37-39 5:3
Time of Birth Pangs 24:8 5:3
Believers Not Deceived 24:43 5:4-5
Believers to Be Watchful 24:42 5:6
Exhorted to Sobriety 24:49 5:7
Son/Sunlight Shinning From E. to W. / Sons of the Day 24:27, 36, & 38 5:4-8
And B (1 Thess. 4) =  C (1 Cor. 15)
The Sleeping to Be Raised 4:13-14 15:12-18
The Living to Be aught/Changed 4:15-17 15:51-52
Christ’s Coming (Greek: Parousia) 4:15 15:23
At the Sound of the Trumpet 4:16 15:52
Encouraged to Stand Firm 4:18 15:58
Same Contemporary “We” 4:15-17 15:51-52
Then A (Matt. 24)  =  C (1 Cor. 15)
Christ to Come (Greek: Parousia) 24:27 15:23
His People to Be Gathered/Changed 24:31 15:52
To Come with the Sound of a Trumpet 24:31 15:52
To Be “The End” (Greek telos, the goal) 24:3, 14 15:24
Kingdom Consummation (goal reached) Luke 21:30-32 15:24
All Prophecy Fulfilled at This Point Luke 21:22 15:54-55
Victory over the Law/Temple Mat. 24:1 15:55-56
Same Contemporary “We” Mat. 24:2ff 15:51-52

Two or More Things that Are Equal to Another Thing Are Also Equal to Each Other.

Matthew 24                     1 Thessalonians 4          1 Corinthians 15 

At His Coming (24:27-31) = At His Coming (4:16) = At His Coming (15:23)
At the Trumpet (24:31) = At the Trumpet (4:16) = At the Trumpet (15:52)
Dead Raised, All Gathered (24:31) = Dead Raised (4:16) = Dead Raised (15:35-44)
All Living Gathered
(24:31)
= Living Caught Together to Him (4:17) = Status of Living Changed (15:51)

PREMISE #1:  The parousia/coming of Christ in Matthew 24 took place in AD 70 (according to partial preterists and Biblical preterists)
PREMISE #2:  The parousia/coming of Christ in Matthew 24 is the same coming of Christ in 1 Thessalonians 4-5 and 1 Corinthians 15 (according to traditional amillennialists and Biblical preterists)
CONCLUSION:  The parousia/coming of Christ in 1 Thessalonians 4-5 and 1 Corinthians 15 took place in AD 70.
Preterists unite these two clear premises from both groups:
1. Partial Preterism – The imminent time texts concerning the parousia of Christ, judgment/resurrection of the dead = AD 70 and…
2. Classical Amillennialism – The analogy of Scripture supports only one NT “hope” of a Second Coming/judgment/resurrection of the living and dead.
Therefore, we “…speak more clearly” and consistently in our debate with futurists.  The divided corporate Reformed “House” contains the two premises (which we assume are true) and we are simply uniting the two valid premises into one new House.  We’re validating the Reformed and Sovereign Grace House by accepting both of it’s competing premises, and then uniting them, further honoring the Reformed and Sovereign Grace House.  This has and will continue to appeal to Reformed and Sovereign Grace believers as Biblical preterism spreads throughout their churches.   We are making a motion to revise the creeds to make them more “orthodox” (straight) with the “more clear” teaching of Scripture–“Sola Scriptura” and “Semper Reformanda”–selah.
If A = B and B = C, then A = C. Things which are equal to the same thing are equal to each other.
A (Matt. 24:27-31, 34 fulfilled in AD 70) = B (1 Thess. 4:15-17 fulfilled in AD 70)  = C (1 Cor. 15 fulfilled in AD 70).
Again, I couldn’t agree more with the editors and authors of THE REFORMATION STUDY BIBLE:
1)  (Matthew 24:27-31, 34) is descriptive of Christ’s invisible parousia taking place in Jesus’ “this [AD 30 – AD 70] generation” and…
2) Matthew 24:27-31 “Most naturally refers to the Second Coming” and is “parallel” to or the same event as developed by the Apostle Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17 and 1 Corinthians 15:52.
Synthesis or “Reformed and always reforming”:  Thus the inevitable conclusion is that the Full Preterist view is both “Orthodox” and “Reformed” – Selah.  It is exciting to see (through emails and phone calls) that students of Reformed eschatology are properly learning their ABC’s of Biblical prophecy through Full Preterism and how our view is “Bridging the Gap” between the two futurist contradictory and competing views of Partial Preterism and classic Amillennialism.
Article Expansion
Although originally this article focused on how only the Full Preterism can harmonize what reformed eschatology has taught and is teaching on Matthew 24/1 Thessalonians 4-5/1 Corinthians 15, I would like to expand this now to other eschatological subjects and key texts.  I also want to turn my attention on exposing the “reformed” myth that reformed eschatology can be united on the future (to us) “essentials of eschatology.”
The Last Days

1)      Classic Amillennialism – The NT’s use of the “latter or last days” refers to the time of Christ’s first coming and extends to His one eschatological end time event of “the parousia” / Second Coming.
2)      Partial Preterism – The NT’s use of the “latter or last days” was a period roughly from AD 30 – AD 70 which closed the Old Covenant age (Gary DeMar & Joel McDurmon).
3)      Full Preterism (Synthesis / “Reformed and always reforming”) – The NT’s use of the “latter or last days” refers to the time of Christ’s first coming and extends to His one eschatological end time event of “the parousia” / Second Coming which was a period roughly from AD 30 – AD 70 which closed the Old Covenant age.
 “This age” and “the age to come”
 1)      Classic Amillennialism – The NT’s use of “this age” is the New Covenant Christian age and the “age to come” is when the one consummative end time event of “the parousia” / Second Coming, resurrection and judgment of the living and dead and arrival of the new creation takes place.
2)      Partial Preterism – The NT’s use of “this age” was the then current Old Covenant age and the use of “the age to come” was the imminent arrival of the New Covenant or Christian age in AD 70 (Gary DeMar & Joel McDurmon).
3)      Full Preterism (Synthesis / “Reformed and always reforming”) – The NT’s use of “this age” is the Old Covenant age and the “age to come” is the New Covenant age at which time the one imminent consummative end time event of “the parousia” / Second Coming, resurrection and judgment of the living and dead and arrival of the new creation took place in AD 70.
 The Resurrection and Judgment of the living and dead
1)      Classic Amillennialism – There is only one end time consummative eschatological resurrection and judgment of the living dead event which takes place at the one “the parousia” at the “end of the age.”
2)      Partial Preterism – There was a judgment and resurrection of the living and dead at “the parousia” in AD 70 at “the end of the [Old Covenant] age” in AD 70.  This resurrection of the dead was:

  1. Spiritual and unseen.
  2. Corporate and covenantal.
  3. Of souls taken out of Abraham’s Bosom/Hades to receive eternal life in God’s presence (James Jordan).

3)      Full Preterism (Synthesis / “Reformed and always reforming”) – There is only one end time consummative eschatological resurrection and judgment of the living dead event which takes place at the one “the parousia” at the “end of the [Old Covenant] age” in AD 70.  This resurrection of the dead was:

  1. Spiritual and unseen.
  2. Corporate and covenantal.
  3. Of souls taken out of Abraham’s Bosom/Hades to receive eternal life in God’s presence.

Seeing Christ coming on the clouds at His Second Appearing (Acts 1:9-11; Matthew 24:30; Revelation 1:7 and Hebrews 9:26-28)
1)      Classic Amillennialism – The one and final visible bodily Second Appearing/Coming of Christ is described for us again in (Acts 1:11; Matthew 24:30;Revelation 1:7 and Hebrews 9:26-28).  He returns literally on the clouds at the end of the age(s) and we will see Him with our literal eyes.  Hebrews 9:26-28 is describing Christ’s appearing as our High Priest to finish and complete salvation for the Church.
2)      Partial Preterism – The “seeing” of Christ in the Greek of (Matthew 24:30 and Revelation 1:7) means to “understand” or “perceive.”  Through the events of AD 66 – AD 70 when Christ came in power through the Zealot and Roman armies they “saw” “perceived” or “understood” that He had “already” come (Mark 8:38-9:1).  It is not hermeneutically valid to separate the coming of Christ in Acts 1:11 from His coming in Matthew 24:30 and Revelation 1:7.  They are the same coming and took place in AD 70.  It is also true that hermeneutically / exegetically / logically that Christ’s appearing / coming a “second time” in Hebrews 9:26-28 is Him appearing at the end of the Old Covenant age(s) in AD 70 (Milton Terry).  Hebrews 9:26-28 is describing Christ’s appearing as our High Priest to finish and complete salvation for the Church.
3)      Full Preterism (Synthesis / “Reformed and always reforming”) – The “seeing” of Christ in the Greek of (Matthew 24:30 and Revelation 1:7) means to “understand” or “perceive.”  Through the events of AD 66 – AD 70 when Christ came in power through the Zealot and Roman armies they “saw” “perceived” or “understood” that He had “already” come (Mark 8:38-9:1).  It is not hermeneutically valid to separate the coming of Christ in Acts 1:11 from His coming in Matthew 24:30 and Revelation 1:7.  They are one and the same coming of Christ and took place in AD 70.  It is also true that hermeneutically / exegetically / logically that Christ’s appearing / coming a “second time” in Hebrews 9:26-28 is describing Him appearing at the end of the Old Covenant age(s) in AD 70 and corresponds to the same coming described in the next chapter that would be “in a very little while” and would “not be delayed” (Heb. 10:37).  Hebrews 9:26-28 is also describing Christ’s appearing as our High Priest to finish and complete salvation for the Church.
The Millennium
1)      Classic Amillennialism – The thousand years of Revelation 20 is a symbolic period of time which does not have to be a very long time.  It is a period extending from Christ’s first coming to His one eschatological end time “the parousia” / Second Coming to close “this age” and judge and raise the rest of the dead.  The WCF confirms that the coming of Christ throughout the book of Revelation is indeed His Second Coming.  Revelation 20 recapitulates or is parallel to the same judgment scene depicted in Revelation 1-19 and 21-22.
2)      Partial Preterism –  The thousand years of Revelation 20 is a symbolic period of time ending with the Second Coming of Christ and was or very possibly was from AD 30 – AD 70 (Sam Frost).  Revelation 20 does in fact “pick up where Daniel leaves off” in Daniel 12:1-7, 13 with Daniel himself being raised out of Abraham’s Bosom/Hades inheriting eternal life and enjoying God’s presence (James Jordan).  The book of Revelation is John’s version of the Matthew 24-25 which cannot be divided and refers to Christ’s coming in AD 70 (Gary DeMar).  The only coming of Christ mentioned in the book of Revelation is imminent and therefore refers to His coming invisibly in AD 70 to judge Old Covenant Jerusalem/Babylon/The Great City.  Revelation is written in a recapitulation or parallel structure, with chapters 1-19 (and some of 20) and 21-22 being fulfilled in AD 70.
3)      Full Preterism (Synthesis / “Reformed and always reforming”) – The thousand years of Revelation 20 is a symbolic period of time which does not have to be a very long time and is therefore from AD 30 – AD 70 extending from Christ’s first coming to His one eschatological end time “the parousia” / Second Coming to close “this age” and judge  of   one eschatological end time Second Coming to close “this age” and judge and raise the rest of the dead.  The coming of Christ throughout the book of Revelation is imminent and is His actual Second Coming.  Revelation 20 does in fact “pick up where Daniel leaves off” in Daniel 12:1-7, 13 with Daniel himself being raised out of Abraham’s Bosom/Hades inheriting eternal life and enjoying God’s presence.  The book of Revelation is John’s version of the Matthew 24-25 which cannot be divided and refers to Christ’s coming in AD 70.  Revelation 20 recapitulates or is parallel to the same judgment scene depicted in Revelation 1-19 and 21-22.
The “groaning of creation” and the passing/fleeing of the old heavens and earth and the arrival of the new heavens and new earth (Isaiah 65-66; 2 Peter 3 & Revelation 21-22)
1)      Classic Amillennialism – There is one consummative eschatological end time passing and fleeing of the “elements” of the first heavens and earth and arrival of the new heavens and new earth and it arrives at the one “Day of the Lord” “the parousia” or Second Coming of Christ in the NT to close the end of the age.  There is no exegetical evidence to support two passings of the heavens and earth and arrival of a new heavens and a new earth in 2 Peter 3 or in Revelation 21-22.  These passages are clearly describing the fulfillment and restoration of Genesis 1-3.  Romans 8:18-23 is one unit and is also describing the fulfillment and restoration of Genesis 1-3 and the resurrection of the dead.  And “salvation” in (Romans 13:11-12) is the “redemption” of (Romans 8:23) and the same final “redemption” described by Jesus in (Luke 21:27-28).
2)      Partial Preterism – There was a covenantal passing of the “elements” of the “first” heavens and earth and a spiritual and unseen arrival of the new heavens and new earth at Christ’s “the parousia” to close “the end of the [Old Covenant] age” in AD 70.  The Day of Lord or “the parousia” caused the passing of the Old Covenant “elements” in (2 Peter 3) and this coming and de-creation “only” refers to AD 70.  Romans 8:18 is describing the glory that was “about to be” (cf. Young’s Literal Translation) revealed “in” the first century believers in AD 70 (Gary DeMar).  The “creation” (Gk. kitisis) here is not referring to planet earth but to the creation of people as in (Mark 16:15/Colossians 1:23) (John Lightfoot).  The “bondage,” “futility” and “decay” here is not discussing the second law of thermodynamics of the planet, but rather man groaning under sin in the heart and mind (John Lightfoot).
3)      Full Preterism (Synthesis / “Reformed and always reforming”) –  There is one consummative eschatological end time passing and fleeing of the “elements” of the “first” heavens and earth and arrival of the new heavens and a new earth and it arrives at the one “Day of the Lord” “the parousia” or Second Coming of Christ in the NT to close the end of the [Old Covenant] age in AD 70.  There is no exegetical evidence to support two passing(s) or two fleeing(s) of the heavens and earth and arrival of a new heavens and a new earth in 2 Peter 3 or in Revelation 21-22.  These passages are clearly describing the fulfillment and restoration of Genesis 1-3 and were fulfilled by AD 70.  Romans 8:18-23 is one unit and is also describing the fulfillment and restoration of Genesis 1-3 and the resurrection of the dead.  Romans 8:18-23 is describing the glory that was “about to be” (cf. Young’s Literal Translation) revealed “in” the first century believers and the Church by AD 70.  The “creation” (Gk. kitisis) here is not referring to planet earth but the creation of people as in (Mark 16:15/Colossians 1:23).  The “bondage,” “futility” and “decay” here is not discussing the second law of thermodynamics, but rather man groaning under sin in the heart and mind. The “salvation” in (Romans 13:11-12) is the “redemption of the body”(Romans 8:23) and the same final “redemption” described by Jesus at His Second Coming in (Luke 21:27-28) and were all eschatological events that were “near,” “at hand” and “about to be” fulfilled in Jesus’ contemporary “this generation.”
The Olivet discourse Matthew 24-25; Luke 21 Mark 13 
1)      Classic Amillennialism – Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 24-25 helps us understand all of the key eschatological themes (Second Coming/judgment and resurrection/passing of creation) developed in the rest of the NT (ex. 1-2 Thessalonians; 1 Corinthians 15; 2 Peter 3; Romans 8:18-23, 13:11-12, 16:20 and the Book of Revelation).
2)      Partial Preterism – Matthew 24-25 cannot be divided and the disciples question regarding the Temple’s destruction, His coming and the end of the age is referring to Christ’s invisible coming to close the Old Covenant age and “nothing else.”  One cannot “double fulfill” it’s content (Gary DeMar).
3)      Full Preterism (Synthesis / “Reformed and always reforming”) –  Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 24-25 helps us understand all of the key eschatological events (Second Coming/judgment and resurrection/de-creation and passing of creation) developed in the rest of the NT (ex. 1-2 Thessalonians; 1 Corinthians 15; 2 Peter 3 and the Book of Revelation).  Matthew 24-25 cannot be divided and is referring to Christ’s invisible coming to close the Old Covenant age and “nothing else.”  One cannot “double fulfill” it’s content.
Indeed I could produce ABC charts here (as I have elsewhere on my sites) of the Olivet discourse with all of the main eschatological texts in the NT – 2 Peter 3, Revelation 20, etc…, just as I have with 1 Thessalonians 4-5 and 1 Corinthians 15.

Conclusion

As one can plainly see the assertion that reformed orthodox eschatology is and can be united concerning the following:

  • The seeing of Christ on the clouds (the Second Coming) at the end of the last days or end of the age(s)…
  •  The judgment and resurrection of the dead at the end of the last days and end of the age(s)…
  • The liberation of creation and arrival of the New at the end of the last days or end of the age(s)…

…is nothing but a pure myth as long as the classic Amillennial position holds to the NT’s “one hope” “the [one] parousia” of Christ is future and the Partial Preterist view says it happened in AD 70.  As long as AD 70 is the “X factor” in all of these crucial eschatolocial passages and and it continues to be “orthodox” and the creedal Amillennial view affirms they are one and the same “end of the age” event, the ONLY way to harmonize the two is with the Full Preterist view.  This is how I came to the Full Preterist view – by comparing Scripture with Scripture (Matt. 24-25=1Thess. 4-5) and realizing the classic Amillennial view and Partial Preterist views were teaching (no matter if they realized it or not) that Christ’s ONE Second Coming happened in the First Century ie. AD 70.
Both the Amillennialist and the Postmillennial Partial Preterist claim that if Full Preterism is true then the Holy Spirit failed in guiding the Church in truth.  And yet if this is the case, this begs the question as to which “truth” did the Holy Spirit guide the Church in Amillennialism or Partial Preterism?  Does the Holy Spirit contradict Himself?  The truth of course is that this is not an either or choice between the two competing views since as I have demonstrated they are both right and yet at the same time both wrong.  The Holy Spirit is guiding the Church through Full Preterism as it unites the two views.  The truth has always been with us, it just hasn’t been put together correctly because of all of the in-fighting between the two and their upholding the reformed creeds as if they have the same authority as the Bible (tradition over Scripture).  And answering a foolish argument according to its folly – are they willing to say that the Holy Spirit failed to lead the Church on the issue of forensic justification for 1500 years prior to Luther?  Do they forget that the Roman Catholic Church and John Eck pointed out that Luther had to be wrong because he was teaching something totally new that had not been taught by the Church Fathers prior to him?!?
When will the Partial Preterist and the classic Amillennialist stop shooting at each other and writing the IVP 3-4 view type books (without Full Preterism being allowed to present the truth)?  The Partial Preterist view fires away at the Amillennial and Premillennial Dispensational views by arguing that they come dangerously close to denying the inspiration and infallibility of the Bible in their handling of the imminent time texts or their approaches to them are more akin to liberal treatments (DeMar & Sproul).  The Amillennialist fires back that the Partial Preterist is denying the reformed creeds (and shouldn’t be considered “reformed”) ripping asunder texts which are united through the analogy of Scripture principle of interpretation.  Wouldn’t it be more constructive for these two groups to humbly sit down at the table with Full Preterists to discuss the creedal position that the creeds are not infallible (as were the previous creeds they radically reformed) and thus really are subject to Scripture and change on eschatology — and that if both the classical Amillennialial and Partial Preterist views are true, then Full Preterism is true!  The day will come and it is inevitable – it is just a matter of when.

 


[1] Westminster Confession of Faith, I. ix.
[2] J.I. Packer, The Interpretation of Scripture, from ‘Fundamentalism’ and the Word of God (Inter-Varsity Press, 1958), pp. 101-114. http://www.bible-researcher.com/packer1.html
[3]   THE REFORMATION STUDY BIBLE, R.C. Sproul General Editor, (Orlando: FL, Ligonier Ministries) 1401.
[4] If we translate astrape in Matthew 24:27 as a “bright light” from the sun (instead of lightning) coming from the east and shining to the west, then this parallel that I have seen is also possible.

 

Debate Challenge Accepted / Issued!

Just recently, the issue of the present passive indicatives, and present indicatives that Paul uses in 1 Corinthians 15 to speak of the then on-going resurrection has become the topic of intense discussion on several preterist, and anti-preterist websites.
Interestingly, a debate challenge has been issued, challenging the idea that we must honor those present tense verbs. Dr. Ken Talbot has offered to moderate this debate, and to sponsor it in Chicago.
Just this morning (9-7-09) I posted the following response to the proposed debate:
Dr. Talbot, my name is Don K. Preston. I was honored to meet you in Florida a few years back when I debated James Jordan.
Concerning a debate. Instead of a debate so narrowly focused on the verb tenses of 1 Corinthians 15, I will most gladly accept your offer above in regard to a debate, with the following proposal:
Resolved: The Bible teaches that the resurrection prophecy of 1 Corinthians 15 was fulfilled at the time of the destruction of Old Covenant Jerusalem in AD 70.
Affirm: Don K. Preston
Deny:
If you would be willing to help sponsor a debate on the verb tenses of 1 Corinthians 15, I suggest that the greater, more important debate would be on the fulfillment or non-fulfillment of the overall prophecy. If I were to be able to demonstrate that the prophecy of 1 Corinthians 15 is / was fulfilled, then this would settle the issue of the verb tenses. Would it not?
I will be more than happy and honored to debate you, or any of the faculty members, or any champion of your choice on the suggested proposition. Chicago is fine with me.
I very much look forward to hearing from you!
For His Truth, and In His Grace,
Don K. Preston
President, Preterist Research Institute
Dialogue When Possible
Debate When Necessary
At All Times Charity Delete Comment

Economics (transcribed from another blog site)

Original material will be forthcoming this weekend, but I wanted to consolidate the topic to this site.
We know the present reality in which we live! We should be living as if our actions are meant to shape the universe we live in, because they are! How many of us know for example that biblical law not only limits the size of the government but the size of the church as well!!
Many American Christians feel that scripture always justifies their position. Many used scripture as justification for slavery while others claimed slavery was always unbiblical, although scripture speaks of definite laws regarding slavery and the stealing of men. This will not be the volume to defend or attack those positions, I merely point out the ways in which Christians use scripture to justify their own views. The same has been seen throughout history in various political debates concerning economics. Some claim scripture teaches unfettered capitalism. Some feel scripture teaches unfettered communism. Both are to be disappointed with this exegesis of the actual economics of scripture. Capitalism is to be bound by biblical mandates which do limit profits in some cases and provide for those in need in a much more aggressive way than straight capitalism. Communism is in its essence theft and is not amenable to a biblical economics, although the spirit of providing for the lesser among us is contained within scriptural economics. Exploration of biblical economics is both fascinating and convicting.
Sabbath Years and the year of jubilee are the basis of a biblical economic system. Inflationary systems, communism, socialism, and Keynesian all have one thing in common, the maximization of distribution to their chosen class. Biblical economics has one goal, the eternal sustainable dominion of man over the earth for his own benefit. Many Christians deny environmental concerns based on the dominion mandate. This misses half of the biblical model. Other Christians deny the dominion covenant in the attempt to reach sustainability through environmental fiat. Ignoring either half of the biblical purpose only leads or tyranny and exploitation, and an increasing reduction of the number of people the land is able to sustain. The earth was created to sustain man and provide him wealth, if ti is treated as god has demanded. We will need to explore what this means in terms of sustainable use of the earth, a great deal of this is based on the principles of sabbath and jubilee as taught in scripture. We will also need to explore what dominion means, as taught in scripture. Finally, we will need to explore what God’s law and economic policies do in provision for the poor and alien in our midst. As we are now in the New Jerusalem, we are to finally be practicing the economics as laid out in scripture. Even Israel failed to follow God fully in this regard. Preterism means not that we shed the principles of biblical economics, but that our world is finally the first place where it can be put into its full and final form.
I have been contemplating the way Christians live in America today. It seems to me they are much more concerned with getting the latest Republican candidate elected than worrying about whether that candidate will actually uphold scripture in his/her governance. We are so set on winning little battles we have lost the war for our culture and the future.
Now I can excuse the futurists somewhat. I mean heck, if the world is going to end or God is going to miraculously transform the world into a perfect place to live instantly, why make an effort? What’s the point. The dispy adage about polishing brass on a sinking ship is true, if you are a futurist. Working for cultural transformation, biblical economics, biblical justice and Godly government are futile from the futurist perspective. But I cannot excuse preterists.

DVDs of Preterist Pilgrim Weekend 2009 Now Available!

DVDs of Preterist Pilgrim Weekend 2009 Now Available!
JaDon Management and Don K. Preston are very glad to announce that DVDs of the 2009 Preterist Pilgrim Weekend are now available. As usual, this was a fantastic seminar, focusing on the Resurrection and the Millennium. Hot topics to be sure!
Here is a listing of the speakers and topics
13 Dynamic 45 Minute Lectures on 1 Data DVD. 13 Video Lectures from
the 2009 Preterist Pilgrim Weekend. Powerpoint presentations are
included in video. All Audio and Video are optimized for iPod Video
and are compatible with iTunes and Quicktime.
Preterist Pilgrim Weekend 2009 Speakers and Lectures:
* Jack Scott: Resurrection From The Ground Up (The Goal of the Millennium) Pt I
* Don K. Preston: Thessalonians: Setting the Context
* Jerel Kratt: The Millennium and the Transformation from Flesh to Spirit, Pt I
* Jack Scott: Resurrection From The Ground Up (The Goal of the Millennium) Pt II
* William Bell: The Millennium
* Don Preston: Concerning Those Who Have Fallen Asleep
* Jerel Kratt: The Millennium and the Transformation from Flesh to Spirit, Pt II
* Larry Siegle: Distinguishing Between “This Age” and the “Age to Come”
* Don K. Preston: A Critique of Kenneth Gentry’s He Shall Have Dominion
* Larry Siegle: Millennial Hope Old Testament Israel New Testament Fulfillment
* William Bell: The Millennium in Ephesians
* Bryan Lewis: Hosea and Paul’s Seed Analogy in 1 Co 15.
* Don K. Preston: We Shall Meet Him In the Air! A Theological Atom Bomb
Price of the DVDs is $29.95 + $4.50 Shipping.
You can use PayPal to order (just use dkpret@cableone.net), or send a check or MO to:
Don K. Preston
1405 4th Ave. N. W. #109
Ardmore, Ok. 73401
You can order directly from the website at www.bibleprophecy.com and use the Shopping Cart and Check Out.
Get your copy of these important and informative lessons today!

House Divided: Imminent Redemption in Luke 21:27-28 / Romans 8:18-23 and The Analogy of Scripture

The Abandonment of the Analogy of Scripture

The Westminster Confession of Faith states that “the infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself; and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly.”[1] J. I. Packer understands this to mean “that we must give ourselves in Bible study to following out the unities, cross-references and topical links which Scripture provides.”[2] There is nothing controversial within the Reformed community about the above principles. Reformed believers all strive to be faithful to the principle of “the analogy of Scripture.”  This being the case, why then are there so many differing opinions within the Reformed community when it comes to the question of how to form a sound eschatology? There are perhaps as many differing interpretations of eschatological texts as there are denominations. Clearly, there is a need to bridge the gap and bring healing to this eschatological division within Reformed and Protestant churches.

What is the cause of the division?  It is widely assumed that the cause is the enigmatic nature of the texts in question. While I agree that there are difficult eschatological texts, I submit in this article that the problem lies not in the vagueness of Scripture but rather in our unwitting betrayal of the principle of the analogy of Scripture.

Reformed eschatology has a strong Preterist tradition, which argues that the New Testament’s eschatological statements of imminence must be taken literally because there are no contextual indicators leading us to interpret them in any other way. As Gary DeMar states, “any student of the Bible who does not interpret these time texts to mean anything other than close at hand is in jeopardy of denying the integrity of the Bible.”[3] To put a finer point on it,  R. C. Sproul suggests that any eschatology which denies a literal interpretation of the New Testament’s time texts has adopted a liberal or neo-orthodox view of God and time:  “When F. F. Bruce speaks of faith making the time be ‘at hand,’ this sounds all too much like Rudolf Bultmann’s famous theology of timelessness, which removes the object of faith from the realm of real history and consigns it to a super temporal realm of the always present hic et nunc [here and now].”[4] Sadly, this same view is so commonly articulated among Reformed and Evangelical believers[5] that few seem to recognize its liberal and mystical implications or its exegetical lack of support. In the interest of preserving eschatological futurism, many have compromised the principle of scriptural analogy by sweeping away the plain and obvious meaning of the imminence texts. In so doing, conservatives are unwittingly handling the Scriptures like Bultmann.

In an effort to mitigate this liberalism, some have become partially Preterist, suggesting two returns of Christ, one in AD70 and another yet-future final coming and resurrection. The obvious problem with this view is that “Paul looked for one climactic future event, the return of Jesus Christ, the blessed hope.”[6] The Partial Preterist side of our  “house divided” understands that in the AD 70 return of Christ (accomplished in His generation) God “gathered” and “redeemed” His church. Jesus was straightforward and clear that “all these things” were going to take place in His generation. Thus, Partial Preterists swim bravely against a strong tide of “newspaper exegesis.”

On the other hand,  Evangelical and Reformed theologians who reject Partial Preterism are nevertheless faithful to the principle of the analogy of Scripture when they link the imminent “gathering” in Matthew 24:31 and Mark 13:27 to Paul’s “gathering” and “catching away” (“rapture”/resurrection) in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 and 2 Thessalonians 2:1. When they tie the imminent “redemption” in Luke 21:28 to the “redemption of the Body” and of “the creation” in Romans 8:18-23, they rightly reject the exegetical breaking asunder of Scriptures that are thematically one.

The remainder of this article offers a brief examination of these texts as well as a response to the “house divided” approach of Keith Mathison and his co-authors in their critique of “Hyper-Preterism” titled When Shall These Things Be? (hereafter WSTTB?).[7] Mathison and his co-authors are a microcosm of the Church. Though they enjoy unity in the belief of a yet-future “second coming” and resurrection of the dead, their eschatological house is divided. Some believe the eschatology of the Bible is mostly fulfilled. Others believe it is mostly or wholly unfulfilled. Their disagreements with each other are not rooted in the difficulty of the texts, but rather in the rejection of the sure foundation of sound scriptural analogy. In setting aside the plain sense of thematically congruent Scriptures, they have constructed their eschatological house on exegetical sand, and it therefore “cannot stand.”

Restoring the Analogy of Scripture

“Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near” (Luke 21:27-28). Appealing to the principle of the analogy of Scripture, John Murray and other Reformed theologians understood Paul, in Romans 8, to be building upon the “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 analogy would again point to the eschatological complex of events.”[8] We cannot brush off Murray’s comments lightly when he connects these texts to the resurrection and redemption of Romans 8, but is it exegetically sound to say that the redemption of Romans 8:18-23 occurred in Jesus’ generation?

According to most Reformed eschatological paradigms, Romans 8 is teaching a biological resurrection and molecular transformation of our corpses and of the entire universe during the return of Christ at “the end of time.”  However, when we consider the Preterist side of Reformed and Evangelical eschatology with regard to the restoration of creation in the various related texts (Matt 5:17-18; 24:29, 35; Eph 1:10; 2 Pet 3; 1 John 2:17-18 and Rev 21:1), we soon discover that, in context, these passages are referring to the temple’s destruction or to the civil and religious worlds of men—either Jews or Gentiles.[9] The civil and religious 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]

In context, the time was “at hand” for the “elements” to be burned and for the world of righteousness to take its place (1 Pet 1:4-12; 4:5, 7, 17; 2 Pet 3). Peter was describing a change of covenantal worlds. As John Owen and John Lightfoot taught, Peter was not referring to a future return of Christ for the purpose of destroying the planet.[11] He was describing a transformation that was to be accomplished at Christ’s Parousia in AD 70. Kenneth Gentry and James Jordan also understand the passing of the “world” and the first heavens and earth (1 John 2:17-18; Rev 21:1) as referring to Christ’s return to end the Old Covenant system in AD 70. It is also understood within Reformed and Evangelical theology that the “times of fulfillment” to reconcile things in “heaven and on the earth” (Eph 1:10) is referring not to the planet earth and angels, but to the union of Jews and Gentiles in Christ. This was the “mystery” of the gospel in which the “whole family” of God, in heaven and on earth, would participate. When we combine the exegesis from some of the best Reformed and Evangelical theologians, we quickly see that none of the New Testament de-creation passages are dealing with planet earth, but are references to the Old Covenant or its people.[12]

Lightfoot associated the “earnest expectation of the creature” and the “whole creation groaning” with the mind and heart of man, and not with planet Earth—not even poetically.[13] He referenced the “vanity” and “decay” of the creation (Rom 8:20) to the groaning from the “corruption” of sin found in the hearts and minds of mankind (2 Pet 1:4; 2 Cor 11:3; 15:33).[14] Lightfoot is on solid ground here; 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 molecules, or with squirrels longing for a better day when they won’t get hit by cars.

John Lightfoot not only interpreted the “creation” of Romans 8 to be the creation of men and NOT the physical planet, but he understood the “redemption of the body” to not be a resurrection of physical bodies, but rather, the “mystical body” of the Church. In his sermon on “Many Mansions” he wrote:

Lightfoot in his sermon on “Many Mansions” interpreted the “redemption of the body” not as the physical body, but the “mystical body” – the Jew/Gentile Church:

“And of the same body, is his meaning in that obscure and much-mistaken place (Rom. viii.23; “And not only they,” i.e. ‘the whole creation,’ or πασα κτισις, ‘every creature,’ which means no other thing, thatn ‘the Gentile or heathen world;’ “not only they groan to come into the evangelical liberty of the children of God,–but we, also, of the Jewish nation, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, groan within ourselves, waiting for the redemption,–to wit, the adoption of our body:” we wait for the redeeming and adopting of the Gentiles, to make up our mystical body.” (cf. https://biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/lightfoot/vol06.pdf… pp. 322-323).

Still, one might object that the “redemption” associated with the coming of Christ in Luke 21:27-28 has a clear time text (“this generation”) associated with it (v. 32), but the “redemption of the body” in Romans 8 does not; therefore, one might conclude the two passages are not necessarily parallel. Those who argue this way suggest that the redemption in Luke 21 might simply refer to relief from persecution and nothing more. The premise of their objection, however, is false. There is an imminence text associated with the redemption of the body in Romans 8.  Verse 18 reads, “For I reckon that the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory about to be revealed in us” (YLT; cf. NSRV, AV, & WEY: “soon to be manifested”). It is important to note that the Greek word corresponding to the phrase “about to be” is mello. Reformed Partial Preterists such as R. C. Sproul and Kenneth Gentry understand the word mello in the book of Revelation to refer to Christ’s return in AD 70. Sproul also writes that it is not unreasonable to apply the imminence indicators found in Romans 13:11-12 (“. . . for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is at hand. Let us therefore lay aside the deeds of darkness. . . .”) to earlier chapters in Romans that do not have explicit time texts.[15]

If mello is a time indicator that needs to be honored, and if we can apply the time texts in Romans 13:11-12 to earlier chapters, then we cannot ignore this approach in Romans 8. Moreover, claims that the teaching of “the” judgment and resurrection of the living and the dead were not given with imminence indicators tied to them directly are simply not true. Acts 24:15, 25 reads, “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. . . . But when he dealt with the subjects of justice, self-control, and the judgment which is soon to come, Felix became alarmed . . .” (cf. Acts 17:31, YLT/WEY; WUESTNT; emphases added).[16]

Of course the plot thickens when Partial Preterists such as Gary DeMar admit that Romans 8:18YLT should be translated as “about to be” fulfilled by AD 70!  Gary also understands “all Israel” being saved in Romans 11 as referring to AD 70.  Thus, the “salvation” and “redemption” of Israel or the Jew/Gentile Church was accomplished imminently in AD 70 and has nothing to do with an end of time event with physical bodies coming out of the ground or the physical planet being changed!

In WSTTB? (p. 200), Mathison expresses willingness to concede that the imminence in Romans 13:11-12 was fulfilled in AD 70.

. . . 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 . . . .

Yet 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).”[17] 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.

In regard to the phrase “the sufferings of this present time,”—and as much as I can relate to R. C. Sproul, Jr., losing his hair and gaining some weight around his midsection (WSTTB? p. ix)—his appeal to the “sufferings” and “the redemption of the body” in our text have nothing to do with those kinds of issues. The context of the “groaning” of these first-century Christians can be found in the previous chapter. The sufferings Paul had 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 man groaning under the inescapable tyranny of sin brought about by being condemned in Adam under the Law of God. For Paul, this produced a “death” but it was not a physical death—for how is it that a dead man writes a complex legal treatise such as Romans? Death in these chapters (Rom 5-6) had nothing to do with the idea of the fleshly corpse of man dying biologically as a result of Adam’s sin.[18] “Bondage,” according to the immediate context, had to do with spiritual death and groaning under the condemnation of the Law (cf. Rom 7:2, 7, 15). The sufferings in Romans 8, then, referred to the eschatological persecutions that preceded Christ’s return (Dan 7:21-22; Matt 24:9, 27-31; 10:17-23) and not to present day Christians suffering the traumas of birth defects, aging, cancer, etc.

Conclusion

The “salvation” and “redemption” associated with Christ’s Second Coming in AD 70 entailed much more than a physical flight to the wilderness of Pella, as some commentators have proposed. Christ’s Parousia in AD 70 was a redemptive and soteriological event that occurred “in” and “within” the minds, consciences and hearts of the Church, when God consumed by fire the Adamic world of Satan, Sin, Death and Condemnation, consummately purging His church of sin through the Cross of Christ (Rom. 8:18-23; 11:26-27; 13:11-12; Heb. 8-10). The “redemption” of Luke 21:28 is the “redemption of the body” in Romans 8:18-23. Both the imminence of the time texts and the spiritual nature of their fulfillment require this interpretation.

Olivet Discourse & Luke 17 Romans 8
Suffering to come (Matt 24:9) Present sufferings (vv. 17-18)
Christ comes in glory (Matt 24:30) Were “about to” receive & share in Christ’s glory (vv. 17-18)
Kingdom will be realized “within” at Christ’s return (Luke 17:21-37; 21:27-32) Glory will be “in” them (v. 18)
Redemption & salvation—resurrection (Luke 21:27-28; Matt 24:13, 30-31) Redemption & salvation—resurrection (vv. 23-24; cf. 11:15-27; 13:11-12)
Birth pains of the tribulation (Matt 24:8) Pains of childbirth (v. 22)
This would all happen in their “this generation” (Matt 24:34) This was “about to” take place (v. 18)

[1]Westminster Confession, I. ix.
[2] J. I. Packer, “The Interpretation of Scripture” in  ‘Fundamentalism’ and the Word of God (Inter-Varsity Press, 1958), pp. 101-114.  http://www.bible-researcher.com/packer1.html
[3] Gary DeMar, Last Days Madness: Obsession of the Modern Church, 4th edition (Atlanta: American Vision, 1999), p. 393; emphasis added.
[4] R.C. Sproul, The Last Days according To Jesus (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1998), pp. 108-109; emphasis added.
[5] For example, see Anthony Hoekema, The Bible and the Future (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1979), p. 126.
[6] Kim Riddlebarger, A Case for Amillennialism: Understanding the End Times (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 2003), p.130; emphasis added.
[7] Keith A. Mathison, Kenneth L. Gentry, Charles E. Hill, Richard L. Pratt Jr., Simon J. Kistemaker, Douglas Wilson, and Robert B. Strimple, When Shall These Things Be? A Reformed Response to Hyper-Preterism (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2004). David Green, Edward Hassertt, Sam Frost and I have  co-authored a response to this book, House Divided Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology A Preterist Response to When Shall These Things Be? that is available on my “store” link.
[8] John Murray, Collected Writings of John Murray 2:  Systematic Theology (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Publications, 1977) , p.389. Unfortunately Murray was inconsistent when it came to Jesus’ teaching that all things in His discourse would be fulfilled in His generation. Had Murray faithfully followed the analogy of Scripture in this regard, he would have seen two things:  (1) Christ’s coming on the clouds and the de-creation language in the discourse was metamorphic language describing the fall of religious and civil powers, as John Owen and other reformed theologians have understood; and (2) the coming of Christ, the passing away of “heaven and earth,” the redemption, the resurrection of the dead and the judgment were all “about to be” fulfilled in Jesus’ generation (Rom 8:18-23; Acts 17:31, 24:15 YLT WEY).
[9] John Brown, Discourses and Sayings of Our Lord Jesus Christ, 3 vols. (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Publications, [1852] 1967), Vol. 1, pp. 170-174. H. T. Fletcher-Louis in Eschatology in Bible & Theology:Evangelical Essays at the Dawn of a New Millennium, K. E. Brower and Mark W. Elliot, eds. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1997), pp. 145-169.
[10] Fletcher, ibid., pp. 145-169; DeMar, ibid., pp. 141-154.
[11] John Owen, The Works of John Owen (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Publications, 1972), Vol. 9, pp. 134-135; John Lightfoot, Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2003), Vol. 3, p. 452.
[12] John Owen, ibid., Volume 9, pp. 134-135; John Lightfoot, ibid., Vol.3, p. 452; John Brown, Discourses, Vol. 1, pp. 170-174; John Locke, A Paraphrase and Notes on the Epistles of St Paul, Volume 2 (Oxford University Press, 1987), pp. 617-618; R. C. Sproul, The Last Days according to Jesus; Kenneth Gentry, He Shall Have Dominion (Tyler TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1992), pp. 363-365; Kenneth Gentry in Four Views on the Book Of Revelation, C. Marvin Pate, ed. (Grand Rapids, MI:  Zondervan, 1998), p. 89 (cf. 43 for 1 Jn. 2:17); Gary DeMar, Last Days Madness, pp. 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), pp. 269-279; H. T. Fletcher-Louis in :Evangelical Essays at the Dawn of a New Millennium, K. E. Brower and Mark W. Elliot, eds. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1997), pp. 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), pp. 114, 157-158; N. T. Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1996), pp. 345-346; N. T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003), p. 645, n. 42; Hank Hanegraaff, The Apocalypse Code (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2007), pp. 84-86.
[13] “. . . this vanity is improperly applied to this vanishing, changeable, dying state of the creation. For vanity, doth not so much denote the vanishing condition of the outward state, as it doth the inward vanity and emptiness of the mind.  The Romans to whom this apostle writes, knew well enough how many and how great predictions and promises it had pleased God to publish by his prophets, concerning gathering together and adopting sons to himself among the Gentiles:  the manifestation and production of which sons, the whole Gentile world doth now wait for, as it were, with an out stretched neck.” John Lightfoot, Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica, Volume 4, p. 157;  emphasis added.
[14] Lightfoot, ibid., pp. 158-159.
[15] Sproul, The Last Days according to Jesus, pp. 99, 138-140.
[16] Gentry argues that “when used with the aorist infinitive—as in Revelation 1:19—the word’s predominant usage and preferred meaning is: ‘be on the point of, be about to.’ The same is true when the word is used with the present infinitive, as in Rev.3:10. The basic meaning in both Thayer and Abbott-Smith is: ‘to be about to.”  (Before Jerusalem Fell: Dating the Book of Revelation [Tyler, TX: Institute for Biblical Economics, 1989], pp. 141-142; emphasis added.)  Gentry is correct. The problem, however, is that when the word mello refers to the resurrection and judgment of the living and dead in Acts 24:15 and 24:25, it is used with the present infinitive. So Gentry boldly ignores the word in those texts.
[17] The Reformation Study Bible, R. C. Sproul, General Editor, and Keith Mathison, Associate Editor (Lake Mary, FL:  Ligonier Ministries, 2005), pp.  1, 636.
[18] Tom Holland, Contours in Pauline Theology (Fearn, Scotland, UK:  Christian Focus Publications, 2004),  pp.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 Adam as contrasted to the corporate Body of Christ—the Church. He counters Gundry’s individual 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.

Is Death The Christian's Finest Hour?

Death: “The Christian’s Finest Hour”

The Paradox of Modern Eschatologies

by Don K. Preston
Just recently, I attended the funeral of a fine Christian lady. The minister did a wonderful job of speaking of the woman’s faith, her Christ-like spirit of helping others, and of the surety of her reward in heaven. In fact, the minister related that he had heard one of his childhood minister “heroes” speak of the death of a Christian as “the Christian’s finest hour.” He confidently stated that the death of this good sister was in fact her finest hour. I must confess that I was struck with the irony, the paradox, the true conundrum of that preacher’s lesson.
I have said for years that modern ministers, have two theologies when it comes to death. On the one hand, when preaching the funeral of a faithful Christian, they confidently affirm that the Christian has received their reward, they are in heaven with the Savior, they are truly at rest. In fact, the death of the Christian is their finest hour! However, in many cases, you might hear that same preacher (I have personally heard this!), in the following weeks, say that physical death is the enemy, and that until the coming of the Lord at the end of human history, even the Christian does not have their reward! Perhaps even more disturbing is that in many amillennial churches, in contrast to their funeral sermons that affirm the deceased is in heaven, these same ministers will affirm that the faithful Christian has gone to Abraham’s bosom– not heaven!
Does anyone see a problem here? There is a very real theological problem here. The problem is real, it is serious, it is disturbing, but, goes seemingly un-noticed by so many believers. This article will seek to explain the problem and demonstrate how what the above mentioned minister said is true, and yet, how devastating to modern eschatologies it really is.
I need not document the fact that all futurist eschatologies believe that physical death is the death introduced by Adam, and that physical death is the death to be overcome through the resurrection of 1 Corinthians 15:22: “As in Adam all men die, even so in Christ shall all men be made alive.” The story of redemption is the story of the deliverance from the death of Adam.
It goes without saying that if you start at the wrong place, you will wind up in the wrong place, theologically. If your protology (beginning) is wrong, your eschatology is wrong. So, if physical death is not the death that Adam introduced, then physical death is not the death conquered by the resurrection of 1 Corinthians 15! This is an indisputable Continue reading “Is Death The Christian's Finest Hour?”