Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology A Preterist Response to
When Shall These Things Be?
The Resurrection of the Dead
Part 3 Carnal Jewish Hopes
David A. Green
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Strimple Argument #3: Mainstream Jews in the time of Jesus believed
in a physical resurrection of the dead. Martha reflected that
“standard Jewish hope” when she said that Lazarus would “rise again in
the resurrection on the last day” (John 11:24) (295-296).
Answer: Preterists are not the only ones who differ with the Jews
in the time of Jesus. Strimple also disagrees with them. As far as we
know, mainstream Jews at that time believed in the shadowy realm of
Hades. Strimple apparently rejects that doctrine. It is also likely that
the Jews in the time of Jesus erroneously believed that “the Christ” and
“the Prophet” were two different people (John 1:25). It is probable that
Strimple rejects that mainstream Jewish doctrine as well. The Jews further
believed that the Messianic kingdom would be a literal, nationalistic
kingdom. Strimple disagrees with that “standard Jewish hope.”
More importantly though, many or most of the Jews at that time
believed the resurrection and judgment of the living and the dead were
about to happen. In fact, we know that most Christians in the time of
Jesus believed that very same doctrine, because there is no doubt that
the authors of the New Testament books believed it. Yet Strimple and
all other futurists categorically reject the doctrine that the resurrection
and judgment were about to happen in the apostolic generation, despite
the sure, prophetic, and authoritative word of Jesus and the Apostles:
The Son of Man is about to come in the glory of His Father with
His angels; and will then recompense every man according to
his deeds. Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are
standing here who shall not taste death until they see the Son
of Man coming in His kingdom [to recompense every man according
to his deeds]. (Matt. 16:27-28)
He has fixed a day in which He is about to judge the world in
righteousness. . . . (Acts 17:31)
There is about to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the
wicked. (Acts 24:15)
As he was discussing . . . the judgment about to come. . . .
The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.
Christ Jesus, who is about to judge the living and the dead. . . .
(2 Tim. 4:1)
Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. . . .
(1 Pet. 4:5)
Evidently, Strimple feels that he is at liberty to reject the consensus
of the Jews and even of the church and of the apostles themselves in the
time of Jesus regarding the timing of the prophesied consummation. Yet
at the same time, Strimple believes that the consensus of Jews in the time
of Jesus can serve as legitimate contributing evidence against preterism.
Strimple is here using an unjust weight to judge preterism.
Regardless of the majority view of the Jews in Jesus’ day, if we assume
that Martha did express a belief in a physical resurrection of the dead, we
can only interpret Jesus’ response to her as a correction of that belief:
I am the Resurrection and the Life; he who believes in Me shall
live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me
shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)
Biological reanimation is not the resurrection and the life. Jesus
is the Resurrection and the Life. To “live” (i.e., to be resurrected) is to
believe in Him. We who put our trust in Christ’s sin-atoning blood in
the new covenant world today are in “the Life,” and we shall “never die.”
As we will discuss in more detail below, since the consummated death
of the Adamic, old covenant “man” in AD 70, the universal church is
now and forever the resurrected, living, and “spiritual body” of Christ.
day was that “when Israel was restored in the age to come, those faithful Jews
who had died would be raised to participate in it” (172). Mathison believes
that Israel was restored in the first century (169). If we accept Mathison’s
timeframe for the restoration of Israel, and if we must accept the “prevailing
belief” of the first century Jews, then we must conclude that the resurrection
of the dead took place in the first century.