Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology A Preterist Response to
When Shall These Things Be?
The Resurrection of the Dead
Part 2 Romans 8 and 2 Peter 3
David A. Green
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Strimple Argument #2: According to Romans 8 and 2 Peter 3,
when the resurrection of the dead takes place, the heavens and the earth
—the whole physical creation—will be physically transformed and
physically renewed. Therefore the resurrection of the dead will also be
physical and will involve a physical transformation/renewal (321-326).
Answer: When Paul and Peter wrote their epistles:
1. God was “ready to judge the living and the dead” (1 Pet. 4:5).
2. It was “time for the judgment to begin” (1 Pet. 4:17).
3. Believers were living in “the last days” (2 Tim. 3:1; 2 Pet. 3:3).
4. Believers were living in “the last times” (1 Pet. 1:20).
5. Believers were “hastening” the coming of the day of God, when
the Morning Star would arise in their hearts (2 Pet. 1:19-20;
3:3, 5, 11-12).
6. The glory and salvation of Israel was “about to be
revealed”/“ready to be revealed” (Rom. 8:18; 1 Pet. 1:5; 5:1).
7. The night was “almost gone” (Rom. 13:12).
8. The day of salvation was “at hand” (Rom. 13:12).
9. God was “soon” to crush the ancient enemy, Satan, under the
feet of the first-century church (Rom. 16:20), in fulfillment of
10. “The end of all things” was “at hand” (1 Pet. 4:7).
If we are to let the words of Scripture say what they say in their
context, we must admit that the biblical time of eschatological crisis is
now history. The apostles Paul and Peter, through the inspiration of the
Holy Spirit, fully expected the heavens and the earth (the world) to burn
and dissolve in their own generation (2 Pet. 3:7, 10-12). Therefore, we
are to rest in faith that this event, according to God’s faithful and sure
prophetic word, was fulfilled in the apostolic generation.
Futurist objections notwithstanding, it requires no stretch of the
imagination to believe God’s word in this regard. We know that when
Peter spoke of the “heavens” and the “earth,” he did not mean the literal
sky and the planet. Peter believed that the heavens and the earth of
Noah’s day were destroyed (2 Pet. 3:5-6). Peter certainly did not think
that the literal stars (“the heavens”) were destroyed in Noah’s flood.
When Peter spoke of the end of the world (“the end of all things”), he
was speaking of the world-order in which he lived. He was speaking of
the pre-redemption world that was speedily coming to a consummation
through the power of the recently slain Lamb of God. Peter was not
writing in scientific terms concerning hydrogen and oxygen melting.
He was writing in the fervent, poetic language of the prophets concerning
the impending end of the old covenant age and the resulting liberation
of “the creature” / “all Israel” (all the saints, living and dead) from
the slavery and futility of the spiritual corruption of Sin.
Peter’s prophecy in 2 Peter 3 was a reiteration of Isaiah 24. In that
chapter, Isaiah spoke of the time when the sun and the moon (the heavens)
would be confounded and ashamed (Isa. 24:23) and when the earth
would be burned, broken down, dissolved, and would fade away (Isa.
24:4, 6, 19-20). Isaiah was speaking of the destruction of Jerusalem.
“The heavens and the earth” referred to the pre-Messianic, dead-in-
Sin world of God’s people. That old creation or cosmos was dissolved,
and it vanished shortly after Peter wrote his epistles, in AD 70. There is
no biblical rationale for appending a “resurrection of the flesh at the end
of human history” to the teachings of the apostles.
One final note: The Bible says that after the Parousia, after the fulfillment
of all prophecy, in the new heavens and the new earth, there will
be cursed nations that will, year by year, refuse to worship God (Zech.
14:16-19). After the fulfillment of all prophecy, there will be those who
attack God’s people, though ultimately to no avail (Isa. 54:15-17). After
the fulfillment of all prophecy, there will be people loving and practicing
lies outside the city of God in the new heavens and new earth (Rev.
Strimple says that this biblical doctrine is “incredible” and that it
does not “satisfy” him (323). It is the task of futurists to believe and to
be satisfied with what God’s word teaches concerning the eternal, Messianic
world in which we live today.