House Divided Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology A Preterist Response to
When Shall These Things Be?
The Eschatological Madness of Mathison or How Can These Things Be?
Part 4 – All Things Fulfilled Luke 21:20-22
Michael J. Sullivan
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All Things Written
In Luke 18:31, Jesus says that when He and His disciples go up to Jerusalem (in about AD 30), “all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished.” Mathison argues that since the Second Coming did not occur at that time, it follows that when Jesus says in Luke 21:22 that “all things written” will be fulfilled when Jerusalem is destroyed in AD 70, He is referring only to prophetic predictions that concerned the destruction of Jerusalem and not to all eschatological prophecy in general (172).
Of course no one disagrees with Mathison’s observation that the context of Luke 18:31 limits Jesus’ phrase of “all things” to prophetic material pertaining to His passion. But Mathison assumes what he needs to prove when he assumes that the context of Christ’s coming in Matthew 24 is only dealing with the fall of Jerusalem, and not His actual Second Coming connected to all eschatological prophecy in general. Later we will see that Mathison is not in line with the creeds or the historic church when it comes to what the Olivet Discourse actually covers.
Gentry says that when Christ referred to the fulfillment of “all things written” in Luke 21:22, He was referring to Old Testament prophecies only, and that Christ therefore did not include the resurrection of all men and the Second Coming in the term “all things written.” But Gentry fails to understand that the resurrection of the dead was predicted in the Old Testament. The Apostle Paul, who taught the resurrection of the dead, taught “nothing but what the Prophets and Moses said was going to take place” (Acts 26:21–23). Paul stated specifically that the Old Testament predicted the resurrection of the dead (Acts 24:14–15; cf. Dan. 12:2-3; Isa. 25:8; Hosea 13:14). Therefore even if “all things written” in Luke 21:22 refers only to Old Testament prophecies, as Gentry says, it still includes the resurrection of the dead, and therefore literally “all things written.”
In the book of Revelation, it is said from beginning to the end (Rev. 1:1; 22:6–7, 10–12, 20) that the prophecies of the book would be fulfilled “shortly.” Those soon-to-be-fulfilled prophecies included the Second Coming, the resurrection of the living and the dead, the last judgment, and the new heavens and the new earth—in other words, literally “all things written.”
Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:11, tells his first-century audience, “Now all these things happened to them as examples [types], and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.” Jesus’ and Paul’s audience understood the phrase “this age” to be a reference to the old covenant age, and the “age to come” as a reference to the Messianic or new covenant age. They also understood that under the umbrella of the old covenant “age” (singular) there were various “ages” (plural), or covenants. The covenant that God made with David is an example of this. Thus when the old covenant agewas consummated, it was then that all of Israel’s “ages,” as contained in “the Law and the Prophets” (“all things written”), were consummated.
The fulfillment that has been wrought in Christ is no piecemeal fulfillment that has remained a “yes and no” fulfillment/non-fulfillment for 2,000 years, as futurists such as Mathison imagine. The Law of Moses does not remain “imposed” as it did between the Cross and the Parousia (Heb. 9:10, NASB). Rather, Christ returned and the old covenant vanished in His Presence forty years after His Cross (Heb. 8:13). If He did not return, and if the dead were not raised in Him, then the old covenant never vanished, and we are still in our sins. This is the inevitable implication of denying that literally “all things written” are fulfilled in Christ today.
A comparison of Daniel 12:1–2 with the Olivet Discourse proves that literally every eschatological prophecy in the Scriptures would be fulfilled in AD 70:
Daniel 12:1-12 Olivet Discourse
|1. Tribulation and Abomination that causes Desolation (Dan. 12:1, 12)||1. Tribulation and Abomination that causes desolation (Matt. 24:15, 21; Lk. 21:20-23)|
|2. Judgment and Deliverance (Dan. 12:1)||2. Judgment and Deliverance (Lk. 21:18-22, 28; Matt. 24:13)|
|3. Resurrection (Dan. 12:2-3)||3. Resurrection (Matt. 13:40-43;24:30-31; Lk. 21:27-28)|
|4. The End (Dan. 12:4, 6, 8-9, 13)||4. The End (Matt. 24:13-14)|
|5. When would all this take place?“. . .when the power [The Law] ofthe holy people [Israel] has beencompletely shattered [the destructionof the city and the sanctuaryin AD 70], all these things[including the judgment andresurrection] shall be finished.”“But you, go your way till the end; for you shall rest, and will arise to your inheritance at the end of the days.” (Dan. 12:7, 13)
||5. When would all this take place?“There shall not be left here onestone upon another, that shall notbe thrown down” [the destructionof the city and the sanctuary in AD70].” “Verily I say unto you, Thisgeneration shall not pass, till allthese things [judgment & resurrection]be fulfilled.” (Matt. 24:1, 34)|
Mathison believes that the majority of scholars “rightly understand” the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 as being a future biological resurrection of all believers. But he has not explained how that resurrection can be separated from the first-century great tribulation, abomination of desolation, and destruction of Jerusalem in Daniel 12:1, 7, 11. Daniel 12:7 says that when the power of the holy people would be completely shattered (in AD 70), then “all these things would be finished” –not “some” of them.
Partial Preterist James Jordan now understands the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 (and Daniel’s personal resurrection in verse 13) as be-ing a spiritual and corporate resurrection that took place from Jesus’ earthly ministry to AD 70. Jordan actually sees this past resurrection as being the resurrection of Revelation 20:
“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.”
“Revelation takes up where Daniel leaves off, and deals mostly with the Apostolic Age and the death and resurrection of the Church.”
“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.
Mathison’s co-author Gentry has also finally come to the conclusion that the resurrection of Daniel 12:2 was fulfilled in AD 70:
“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.”
We commend Gentry for his recently developed full preterist exegesis of Daniel 12:1-3. However, it presents a problem for him. Gentry stated, in the same book, that the resurrection in the parable of the wheat and tares is not yet fulfilled. Yet Jesus taught that Daniel 12:2-3 would be fulfilled at the same time as that parable.
Nevertheless, some of Gentry’s partial preterist colleagues have come to the conclusion that the parable of the wheat and tares was also fulfilled in AD 70. For example, Joel McDurmon (Gary North’s sonin-law, and Director of Research for Gary DeMar’s American Vision):
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 Jerusalembefore the Roman siege. This was consequent to Jesus’ advice to flee and not look back once the signs arose (Matt. 24:16-22); indeed this would correspond with the angels’ work of harvesting the elect (24:30).
Curiously, McDurmon does not mention that the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 is quoted by Jesus in Matthew 13:39-43. Partial preterists such as McDurmon also ignore the fact that Paul, in agreement with Daniel and Jesus, also taught that the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 was imminent in the first century:
having hope toward God, which they themselves also wait for, that there is about to be a rising again of the dead, both ofrighteous and unrighteous (Acts 24:15, YLT & WEY; cf. Matt. 13:39-43).
There is only one passage found in “the law and prophets” that explicitly speaks of a resurrection of believers and unbelievers, and that is Daniel 12:2-3. This is Paul’s source in Acts 24:15, as virtually any commentary or scholarly work agrees. As G. K. Beale and D. A. Carson wrote on Acts 24:15:
The resurrection of the righteous and the unrighteous is based on the prophecy of the end in Dan. 12:2-3, which indicates twogroups of people, some being raised to eternal life and others to eternal reproach and shame, and then refers to the “righteous” (Θ) or to “righteousness” (MT). Clearly this passage lies behind Paul’s statement, although the wording is different.
Partial Preterists such as Gentry who admit the resurrection of Daniel 12:2 was fulfilled in AD 70 need to not only address the issue of this being Paul’s source for his resurrection doctrine in Acts 24:15, but other places in the NT. Again Beale points out in one of his most recent works, that Jesus is following the (OG) LXX of Daniel 12:1-2, 4 as His source for His teaching on “eternal life” and the coming resurrection “hour” (or “the hour of the end”) of both believers and unbelievers in (John 5:28-29).
And clearly the books being opened in judgment and the resurrection of all in Daniel 12:1-2 is the judgment and resurrection of Revelation 20:5-15. Gentry at one point seeking to refute the Premillennial Dispensational theory of two resurrections cited Daniel 12:2/John 5:28-29/John 6:39-40/Acts 24:15 as evidence of “one resurrection and one judgment, which occur simultaneously at the end…” We couldn’t agree more with Gentry #1 – that these texts are descriptive of “one” and the same resurrection and judgment which take place at the same time in history. And yet we also agree with Gentry #2 – Daniel 12:2 was fulfilled in AD 70. Another question or challenge for partial preterists who see the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 as being fulfilled in AD 70 is this:
How many times must Daniel be raised unto, and receive, “eternal life?”
1 Corinthians 15
|1. Resurrection unto “eternal life”(v. 2)||1. Resurrection unto incorruptibility or immortality (vss. 52–53)|
|2. Time of the end (v. 4)||2. Then cometh the end (v. 24)|
|3. When the power of the holy people [Mosaic OC law] is completely shattered (v. 7)||3. When victory over “the [Mosaic OC] law” comes (v. 56)|
To be fair and thorough I should point out a recent development in Gentry’s understanding of how the resurrection of Daniel 12:2 is fulfilled. As we saw above, Gentry, in order to refute the two-resurrection theory of premillennial dispensationalism, claimed that the resurrection of this text is the one and same, yet-future resurrection as described by Jesus and Paul in John 5:28-29; John 6:39-40; and Acts 24:15 (and no doubt Revelation 20).Then later, Gentry changed his interpretation when responding to a full preterist (apparently realizing that he could no longer arbitrarily sever the resurrection of Daniel 12:2 from the firstcentury Great Tribulation in verse 1, and the first-century “time, times and half a time” and “shattering of the holy people” in verse 7). On Gentry’s Facebook wall, he wrote regarding Daniel 12:2 that it has nothing to do with a biological resurrection:
But later, following his lecture on the millennium at Criswell Bible College, Gentry gave a slightly different response. After being challenged on how the New Testament develops the resurrection of Daniel 12:2 in Matthew 13:39–43; John 5:28-28; Acts 24:15 and specifically in Revelation 20:5–15, he responded by saying that Daniel 12:2 was typologically and spiritually fulfilled in AD 70 and that it will be anti-typically and ultimately fulfilled in a literal “bodily resurrection” at the end of world history.
Besides this not being taught by Daniel or any New Testament author, my question and challenge to Gentry’s new explanation of this passage is this: If Gentry can give Daniel 12:2 two fulfillments (one in AD 70 and one in our future), then what is to stop the dispensationalist from saying something like this:
There may have been some kind of fulfillment of the Great Tribulation in an AD 66–70 (Dan. 12:1; Matt. 24:21) and in the “desolation” of Jerusalem and her temple in AD 70 (Dan. 9:27; Matt. 24:15), but those events were only typological fulfillments. The ultimate fulfillments will be in our future when Israel rebuilds her temple.
Or why should Gentry oppose the amillennialist teaching that, while the Great Tribulation may have had some aspect of fulfillment in the events leading up to AD 70, we should not consider it as one historic event but an “already but not yet” process the church goes through until the end of history?
Gentry gives Daniel 12:2 two fulfillments but won’t allow dispensationalism 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 and Daniel 9:27. Jesus in Luke 21:20-22 and Matthew 13:3943 did not say that all Old Testament prophecy or the resurrection and glorification of Daniel 12:2–3 would be fulfilled in two totally different ways spanning thousands or millions of years from AD 70 to the end of world history. He said that these things would all be fulfilled in His generation (“this generation”) at the end of the old covenant age.
The Transitive Property of Equality Principle (Since A=B & B=C, then A=C) As It Relates to Dan. 12:1-13 (A), Mat. 13:38-43 (B), and Mat. 24:3-36 & 25:31-41 (C)
|Since||A (Daniel 12) =||B (Matthew 13)|
|Tribulation on National Israel as Never Before||Verse 1b||Verses 40-42|
|Time-of-the-End / End-of-‘this’-Age Separation||Verses 1c, 4a, 9b, 13b||Verses 39b-41|
|Saints Rise and Shine in the Eternal Kingdom||Verses 2a, 2b, 3||Verse 43|
|Wicked Rise to Shame in Eternal Condemnation||Verses 2a, 2c||Verses 39-42|
|Kingdom-Age Evangelism via God’s Shining Ones||Verse 3||Verse 43|
|And||B (Matthew 13) =||C (Matthew 24-25)|
|Pre-Kingdom Evangelism by Jesus’ Disciples||Verses 37-38||24:14|
|Tribulation on National Israel as Never Before||Verses 40-42||24:21-22|
|End-of-‘this’-Age / End-of-the-Age Separation||Verses 39b-43||24:3, 30-31; 25:31-41|
|The Sons of the Day / Hour Shine with the Son||Verse 43a||24:27, 30-31, 36|
|Inheritance of and Entrance into the Kingdom||Verse 43a||25:34|
|Then||A (Daniel 12) =||C (Matthew 24-25)|
|Tribulation and Sanctification / Great Tribulation||Verses 1b, 10||24:21-22|
|Time / Day / Hour of the Judgment (aka Separation)||Verses 1-2, 4 (OG/LXX)||24:36; 25:31-33|
|Fulfilled at the Time-of-the-End / the End-of-the-Age / the End à viz. The Shattering of National Israel’s World—Her Heaven and Earth (i.e. the Temple, etc.)||Verses 4a, 9b, 13b
24:1-8, 14, 28-29, 34-35
|Inheritance of and Entrance into Eternal Kingdom-Life||Verses 2b, 3a, 13b||25:34, 46|
|The Sons of the Day / Hour Shine with the Son||Verse 3a||24:27, 36; 25:34|
|Kingdom-Age Evangelism via God’s Shining Ones||Verse 3||25:29a|
Two or More Things that Are Equal to Another Thing Are Also Equal to Each Other:
|Daniel 12 (A)||=||Matthew 13 (B)||=||Matthew 24-25 (C)|
|Kingdom-Age Evangelism||=||Kingdom-Age Evangelism||=||Kingdom-Age Evangelism|
|Tribulation Like Never Before||=||Tribulation Meted Out||=||Great Tribulation Unlike Before|
|Time of the End of Daniel’s People; End of the Age of National Israel||=||Time of the End of that Age To Befall Jesus’ Generation||=||Age of National Israel to End in the Fall of Its Temple & City|
|The Chosen Ones to Rise & Shine; The Wicked to Rise to Shame||=||The Righteous Ones to Rise & Shine; Tares Reaped to Burn||=||Sheep to Inherit Kingdom; Goats to Inherit Punishment|
Eschatology (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2009), 281.
20:26, Jesus’ Lawsuit Against Israel (Powder Springs, GA: The American Vision,
Inc., 2011), 48-49; see entire section 43-51. One of DeMar’s co-authors
Peter Leithart, has also conceded that the parable of the wheat and tares was
fulfilled in the first century: “Jesus has now come with His winnowing fork,
and before the end of the age, the wheat and tares will be separated. The end
of the age thus refers not to the final judgment but to the close of “this generation.”
Peter J. Leithart, The Promise of His Appearing: An Exposition of Second
Peter (Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 2004), 95.
of the Old Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI; Nottingham, UK: Baker Academic;
Apollos, 2007), 598.
OF THE OLD TESTAMENT IN THE NEW (Grand Rapids, MI:
Baker Academic, 2011), 131-132. This creates a huge problem for Partial Preterists
such as Gentry who not only take the resurrection of Dan. 12:2 as fulfilled
in AD 70, but also takes the eschatological “not yet” “hour” of (John 4:21-
24) as fulfilled in AD 70 (as Full Preterists do). Why? Because according to
Mathison (WSTTB, 172-174) Jesus is using the same eschatological “already”
and “not yet” pattern of this coming “hour” in both John 4:21-24 – 5:25-29 and
thus are referring to the same period of time. Once again when we combine
what Beale, Gentry, and Mathison are saying here on these texts, they form
the Full Preterist view in that the “not yet” resurrection “hour” of Dan. 12:1-2/
John 5:28-29 was fulfilled in AD 70. For more on why John 5:28-29 is not a
description of a fleshly end of time resurrection see David Green’s response to
(Tyler TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1990), 142.