Introduction (note – this article is still in progress and being edited).
The inspiration for this article was a passing comment in the Gary DeMar v. Michael Brown debate over modern Israel’s role in Bible prophecy. While I disagree with both men’s views, DeMar mentioned a typological connection between Peter Son of Jonah and that his call to Joppa was no accident. This and some concepts that Dr. Michael Heiser has developed about “Cosmic Geography” I have found beneficial in my studies. I hope to develop them more and place them in their proper eschatological frame work as they relate to Acts 1-3; 9-11 and the restoration of all things being fulfilled by AD 70.
As Dr. Michael Heiser has pointed out in his books, the Jew of Jesus’ day understood that when Messiah came He would restore, fix and judge three events. These events are:
- Genesis 2-3:
- Death and Separation resolved – Tree of Life Restored
- Satan “crushed”
- Genesis 6:1-4:
- Satan, watchers and demons judged
- Genesis 10-12/Deuteronomy 32:
- Restore or reverse the Tower of Babel judgment (bringing a pure and uniting language of the gospel through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit)
- The restoration and inheritance of the Nations back into God’s Kingdom
The NT teaches us that these events would be the time of judgment and restoration when the Second Coming and Kingdom of God arrives accomplishing the following:
- The judgment of the living and dead.
- The judgment of Satan, watchers and demons.
- Inheritance of eternal or resurrection life in the New Covenant Creation where there is “no death.”
While the Futurist church has traditionally seen how some of these promises have been fulfilled in an “at hand” spiritual sense today in the “already” phase of the kingdom, she has refused to acknowledge how the NT authors teach the fulfillment of these kingdom restoration promises would be fulfilled in an eschatological “not yet” or “at hand” Parousia – and thus fulfilled within the same contemporary generation of Jesus (Lk. 17:20-37; Lk. 21:27-32). This author is at peace to develop the eschatology of the NT inspired authors both in the area of imminence and the spiritual nature of fulfillment without “going beyond what is written” or “adding” to the NT prophetic record.
I may at times also refer to or develop the various Jewish traditions floating around during the times of the NT which fall in line with the NT inspired authors such as:
- “This age” was the Old Covenant (OC) age and the “age about to come” was the New Covenant (NC) or messianic age.
- When Messiah came He would recapitulate Israel’s redemptive history of a 40 years new or second exodus period.
- Therefore, the reign of Messiah between the OC age to the NC age would be 40 years.
- Some also taught that the “days of Messiah” may also be 70 to complete Adam falling short (930) of reaching 1,000 years (Jesus born a King over Israel in the flesh and spirit from 3 BC – AD 66).
The focus of this series of articles will be on Peter son of Jonah’s eschatological role in “restoring all things” contained in the law and prophets and a development of Matthew 16-17; Acts 1-3; 9-11; and 1-2 Peter.
Peter Son of Jonah and the Eschatology/Theology of Matthew 16–17:1-13
The Sign of Jonah – Mt. 16:1-4
The Pharisees were rebuked by Jesus for not being able to understand the Scriptures concerning Himself, the spiritual nature of His kingdom and thus in what way it could possibly be “at hand” and thus discerning the times. As a result, He offered them the “sign of Jonah.”
Jonah a Type of Christ:
- Both preached a message of repentance.
• Both appeared alive after three days or from “Sheol.”
• Jonah gave Nineveh 40 days of testing to repent, Jesus gave Israel and the Nations 40 years.
• Jonah’s mission grants Gentiles salvation, while later bringing judgment upon unrepentant Israel. Jesus’ mission through the Apostles brings salvation to the Gentiles while later bringing judgment upon unrepentant OC Israel in AD 70.
• Jonah offered a willing substitutionary death (his life for the sailors); while Jesus offered a willing substitutionary death for the Church – those whom He calls in faith to follow Him.
Many of course have seen the typology between Jonah and Jesus because Jesus directly alludes to it. But is there a connection between the reference to the “sign of Jonah” and now Jesus describes Peter as the “Son of Jonah” and the significance of God giving him this name in His sovereign providence? While this significance will be born out later in Acts 1-3; 9-11, I believe it begins here in Matthew 16-17 and what Peter begins to learn of the imminent time frame for Christ’s Second Coming, the lesson of letting go of the Jewish exclusive nature and pride of the Jew within the Old Covenant system and the restoration of all things. This will prepare us for what is coming in the book of Acts and Peter’s eschatology in 1-2 Peter.
Peter Bar/Son of Jonah’s Confession and Reversing Hermon – Mt. 16:13-20
- “And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Mt. 16:18-18 ESV).
After Peter (by God’s power) correctly confesses that Jesus is “the Christ the Son of the living God,” Jesus addresses him as, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah” and goes on later in the immediate context to instruct His disciples that upon “this rock” (that is Hermonupon which they were standing at the transfiguration event) that gates of hell would not be able to withstand the Churches mission. As Dr. Michael Heiser points out in cosmic geography, Hermon is the ancient location where Satan, the demonic and realm of the dead was. Jesus in essence is picking a fight with Satan and Peter’s eschatological role in the Church will have a very significant place in taking this fight to Satan through the Jew/Gentile mission in Acts 1-3; 9-11.
Earlier in Matthew’s gospel Peter has seen Jesus being portrayed as the new Moses and Joshua coming into the land and driving out the unclean spirits. The commissioning of the 70 disciples (the restoration of the 70 nation’s coming on the horizon by AD 70) and the falling of Satan’s powers – are both connected to the coming “end” of the OC age and the Son of Man’s coming in their lifetimes (cf. Mt. 10:17-23). This is when Satan would be “crushed” “shortly” in Pauline theology (Rms. 16:20). We will develop Peter’s version in future articles.
Like Jesus, Peter Promised that the Parousia and Kingdom Would Take Place within the Lifetime of His Contemporaries – Mt. 16:27-28
In Matthew 16:27-28 Peter is instructed that the Son of Man’s Coming upon the clouds and inheritance of the kingdom of Daniel 7:13-14ff. would be fulfilled within the lifetime and generation of his contemporaries — “some standing here” / “this adulterous generation” (cf. Mrk. 8:38—9:1). Peter being inspired of the Holy Spirit likewise teaches this very fact (cf. Acts 2:20-40; 1 Pet. 4:5-7, 17).
It was at Christ’s Second Coming to close the OC age that the fulness/maturity of the Gentiles and remnant Jews or “all Israel” was “saved” (Rms. 11:25-27). This was when and the means by which God would be “all [Father, Son and Holy Spirit] in all [Jew/Gentile]” or when the Godhead (Father, Son and Spirit) made home/monewith within the Church (cf. 1 Cor. 15:28; Jn. 14:1-3; 23).
Peter’s Lesson in the Transfiguration Event to Eventually Let Go of the OC and Listen to the Abiding NC Words and Teachings of Christ – Mt. 17:1-13
Not 6-8 days later, Jesus’ is transfigured and His face shines as the sunon top of mount Hermon (the turf of Satan who is Lord of the dead). The transfiguration event is a picture and illustration of what the coming Parousia of Christ promised in Matthew 16:27-28 is all about.
Jesus will later confirm that His Second Coming will be as a great light or sun shining from “east to west”in Peter’s contemporary generation and to “gather” all the elect or raise the dead (Mt. 24:27-34/Mt. 13:39-43/Dan. 12:2-3, 7).
And again, Peter will also confirm this inspired timeframe when He describes Christ as the “Day Star” rising in the heartsof His Church at the “at hand” judgment of the dead or Parousia in AD 70 (1 Pet. 4:5-7, 17; 2 Pet. 1:16-21).
We must examine why Peter’s desire to erect abiding tents for Moses, Elijah and Jesus was rebuked by the Father and then Moses and Elijah disappear while Jesus alone remains and an exhortation to listen to the Son is enforced. The theological point God wants Peter to learn in this event, is that the inferior typological and weak Old Covenant (OC) pictured in the coming of Moses and Elijah (the Law and Prophets) had a “glory” that would be “passing away” (cf. 2 Cor. 3) and would thus “soon vanish” (Heb. 8:13). This glory therefore was not to abide with him and Christ for long nor should they be seen as equals. His desire to build three tents is seen as his desire to have the weak OC house of the law and prophets stay with Christ — the builder of the imminently approaching New Covenant (NC) house and age. The OC wineskins could not contain the NC wine. Thus, Moses and Elijah disappear and the Father rebukes Peter to “listen” to His Son because it is His words (not that of the OC) that will remain forever (see also Mt. 24:35; Mt. 5:17-18; Rev. 21:1ff. – the OC “heavens and earth” would be replaced with the NC “heavens and earth). Thus the Fathers rebuke of Peter’s false mindset is valid in that it will later reflect the Jewish pride and Judaizer mindset that he will once again be confronted with in the book of Acts.
Therefore, the fulfilling and then passing and or yielding of the OC law and prophets is what Jesus came to imminently fulfill at His glorious Parousia in AD 70 and is thus a theological illustration of the purpose of Christ’s Second Coming. This is why the event is so closely connected to Jesus’ teaching that some in the crowd Jesus is addressing would live to witness His Second Coming in Matthew, Mark and Luke.
The Transfiguration, John the Baptist and the Restoration of all things – Mt. 17:10-13
For a more detailed understanding of John the Baptist’s eschatology see my article here: (http://fullpreterism.com/an-exegesis-of-matthew-32-12-117-20-17-1710-13-the-eschatology-of-john-the-baptist-part-1-the-way-of-the-kingdom-and-second-coming-was-at-hand/).
The appearance of Elijah in the vision of the transfiguration – triggers a discussion of Elijah. Jesus here and elsewhere (cf. Mt. 3:1-12; chapter 11; Mrk. 1:1-6; Lk. 3:1-6) informs Peter and the other disciples that the way of salvation and judgment for Israel (which will open the salvation for the Gentiles) of Malachi 3-4 and Isaiah 40 is fulfilled through John’s ministry.
Thus the “restoration of all things” began in John’s ministry and was dealing with men’s hearts and turning them back to God! He predicted an “at hand kingdom,” an “about to comepunishment” and an imminent harvest salvation/judgment that was coming upon his contemporaries (Mt. 3:1, 7-12 GNT). This was to be realized at the Second Coming of Jesus or in the great and notable day of the Lord predicted in Malachi 3-4. John and Jesus’ declaration of the kingdom being “at hand” was not just the “already” or spiritual inauguration of the kingdom, but also included the coming harvest and Second Coming “not yet” aspect of the kingdom to be fulfilled at the end of the OC age – and thus in their “this generation” (cf. Mt. 13:39-43; Lk. 17:20-37; Lk. 21:27-32).
Apart of John the Baptist’s ministry of “restoring all things,” was to point to Jesus’ ministry. Jesus’ ministry was not to baptize with water as John had, but with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5).
Another connecting link between Jesus’ eschatology of an imminent and first century Second Coming event in Matthew 16:27-28 and John predicting the imminent wrath and day of the Lord judgment of Malachi 3-4, is the connection to the coming “way” of judgment in Isaiah 40 which is when “rewards” are given (Isa. 40:10/Mt. 16:27-28).
John is the Elijah of Malachi 3-4 That Will Restore All Things:
Mal. 3:1-5– Continuing with the marriage theme, the coming “messenger” that will prepare the way before” the LORD is John the Baptist who is a “friend” or best man of the “bridegroom” (Jn. 3:29).
There are two “messengers” in this chapter. The first is John the Baptist (also predicted in Isa. 40/Mt. 3) who is unique and the last of the OT prophets. He has come to prepare a smooth road or way for the LORD and help remove obstacles (bring restoration). The “way” or road he and Messiah will bring leads to salvation and judgment. He will bring down and level the proud hills (those that deny His claims of deity and Lordship) while at the same time level or bring up and exalt the valleys of the humble (those that take His gentle yoke).
The second, is the “messenger of the [new] covenant” who will purify the sacrificial system through His perfect sacrifice and establishing the NC Temple people of God and system of worship.
The phrase, “He will come to His Temple” can be referring to Messiah coming in His Second Coming in AD 70 to indwell and restore His spiritual NC Temple and priesthood with salvation and glory (Jn. 14/Rev. 21-22/Lk. 17:20-17), or His coming to His OC Temple in a judgment of fire and destruction in AD 70. Most likely the former since the context seems to favor that of Messiah coming to purifying and establish His NC priesthood with His presence (vss. 3-4). And yet the other concept is also born out as well since it is a time of judgment (v. 5).
Mal. 3:13-18– Contrary to the charges of the people, there is not injustice with God, for He knows who His faithful people are and will come and save His remnant in “that Day” (i.e. in AD 70 – when messiah comes in salvation and judgment).
Mal. 4:1-5– We are back to a description of “the day” of salvation and judgment. Christ’s Second Coming in AD 70 left OC Israel with neither “root or branch” in that God “took” the physical kingdom from the Jews and “gave it” to the spiritual NC “Nation,” “Israel of God” or “New Jerusalem” (cf. Mt. 21:43-45; 1 Pet. 2:9; Gals. 4; 6:16; Heb. 11-12; Rev. 21).
But for the remnant and NC people of God, He would come as “the sun of righteousness”and bring salvation and healing. Again, Matthew 24:27 can be understood as Christ’s Parousia (presence) coming as the Sun and His light shining from the east to the west creating the “sons of the day” (1 Thess. 5:5).
In AD 66 – AD 70 the remnant through the preaching of the Word and their imprecatory prayers, did “tread down” and conquer their enemies – making the synagogue of Satan (those how said they were Jews but were not) bow down before them and acknowledge that in fact they were the true sons of God and the true Jerusalem from above.
The people are to meditate on “Moses” (the Law) and “Elijah” (the Prophets). Moses gives the law and the prophets (Elijah) bring conviction and exhortation to repentance. Messiah will come to fulfill both, and the remnant will see and believe and experience salvation, while the others will experience the curse of the law and judgment in AD 70.
Again, the coming of Moses and Elijah in the vision of the transfiguration (cf. Mt. 17), is a precursor or prefiguring of what the Second Coming of Jesus will be all about – the fulfilling of the law and prophets and then its “soon vanishing” (Heb. 8:13).
John Prepares the Way of Salvation and Judgment of Isaiah 40
- “The voice said, “Cry out!” And he said, “What shall I cry?” “All flesh is grass, And all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, Because the breath of the Lord blows upon it; Surely the peopleare The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.” O Zion, You who bring good tidings, Get up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, You who bring good tidings, Lift up your voice with strength, Lift itup, be not afraid; Say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!” Behold, the Lord God shall come with a stronghand,And His arm shall rule for Him; Behold, His rewardiswith Him (Mt. 16:27-28), And His work before Him.” (Isaiah 40:6-10).
The way of the Gospel would be level and smooth suggesting that the high mountains are the prideful among Israel that persecuted the poor and lowly and God would vindicate the poor and make low and level their prideful persecutors. The low valleys would be brought up to be level as well – perhaps suggesting that the Gospel for the poor would be manifested in such a way as to lift up the persecuted and heavy burdened from their religious suppressors. The rough and crooked in heart through the power of God through the Gospel would be made soft, smooth and straight. Through the gospel the level land would become fertile and blossom into God’s New Paradise/New Creation.
No one among Israel could boast that they had a right to enter this way of the Kingdom through being Abraham’s seed, because God was able, and in fact did turn stones (Gentiles) into the sons of God or living stones in which they (along with Jews) were built up a New Temple and New Man (Mt. 3:9/1 Pet. 2:1ff./Ephs. 2-3).
Isaiah 40:6-7 / 1 Peter chapters 1 and 4 – John’s imminent eschatology is Peter’s!
Peter quotes Isaiah 40:6-7 in 1 Peter 1:23-24. The immediate context tells us that Peter’s first century audience was “ready” to receive the salvation and inheritance (the “reward”) the OT prophets predicted would come at the revealing of Christ at His Second Coming. Later we are told by Peter that this coming salvation and “THE judgment” of “the living and dead” was “ready” to take place and that “the end of all things is at hand.” (1 Pet. 4:5-7, 17). Therefore, the contextual flow of Isaiah 40 tells us that John came to prepare the way of an “at hand” judgment and salvation “ready” to be revealed at Christ’s Second Coming.
- The “restoration of all things” began to be realized in John the Baptist’s ministry (the eschatological “already”).
- It involved the inner turning of the heart toward God.
- The eschatological “not yet” restoration of all things or way of judgment and salvation would be realized at the coming of the day of the Lord in Malachi 3-4 and Isaiah 40.
- The day of the Lord of Joel and John/Elijah (Acts 2/Mal. 3-4) were predicting and the coming of Christ upon the clouds in judgment to “reward” (Mt. 3/Isa. 40/Mt. 16) are the same first century eschatologically “not yet” imminent events.
Peter’s Role to the Nations and Reversing the Curse of Genesis 10-11/Deut. 32:8-9 and Acts 1-3
The story of Genesis 10-11 is essentially this – it was God’s design to have people spread over the earth and yet in pride, they united in one area to build a tower/temple so as to call God down to have Him do their bidding. As a result, God cursed them and dispersed them by confusing their languages and giving them over to other gods. The Bible teaches and Jewish tradition (such can be found in 1 Enoch) confirm for us that God appointed 70 angelic “watchers” or “gods” from His divine council to teach these 70 nations their new languages (cf. Gen. 6:1-4/chapters 10-11/Deut. 32:8-9; Ps. 82/Jn. 10; Ps. 89; Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7; 1 Cor. 13:1; etc…).
Yet God promised that in Israel’s “last days” and within a specific “perverse and crooked generation” He would “gather” together in a “second exodus” – ONE New Covenant Body/Nation/Temple consisting of both Jews and Gentiles out from among the nations (Gen. 49:1, 10/Deut. 32; Isa. 11; 27; 49; 66; Ezek. 36-37; 40-48). Let’s examine how the restoration of all things is played out in through Luke in Acts and Peter’s Epistles.
Peter’s Eschatology of the Great Commission and Second Coming – Acts 1-3
After instructing the disciples on the kingdom for 40 days, they wished to know about the time frame for the kingdoms arrival. As in the Olivet Discourse, they are informed that they were not to know the precise time but are exhorted to wait for the baptism of the Holy Spirit and thus fulfill the Great Commission (Acts 1:1-8). Some have correctly implied that after the Great Commission (GC) of Acts 1:8 comes the fulfillment of the Second Coming of Jesus “from heaven” to “restore all things” (Acts 1:11; 2:20-40; 3:11-26). The analogy of faith and that of Scripture makes this connection more than an inference. Postmillennial Partial Preterist Keith Mathison connecting the GC with the timing of the coming of Christ in Acts 1:11 writes:
“The time frame (of Christ’s Second Coming) is hinted at in the preceding context. The disciples are given a commission to be Christ’s witnesses “in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The implicationis that Christ’s visible return will follow the completion of the mission to the remotest part of the earth.” (Postmillennialism, 117).
Therefore, according to Mathison in the above quote, when the Great Commission in verse 8 is fulfilled, then the Second Coming of verse 11 will occur. Is this not what we see in the Olivet Discourse – the gospel must first be preached to all the nations and throughout the world before the Second Coming of Christ can be fulfilled? There is NO exegetical evidence that the GC and coming of Christ and salvation in Acts 1-3 is any different from that of Jesus’ teaching in the OD.
Postmillennialism’s contention that there are two Great Commissions given in the New Testament—one fulfilled before AD 70 and another that will be fulfilled before the allegedly yet-future Second (Third) Coming—is altogether arbitrary:
|The Olivet Discourse||Acts 1-3|
|1. Only the Father has authority and knows the day and hour of the Kingdom’s arrival(Lk. 17:20-37; Lk. 21:27-32; Mt. 24:36).||1. Only the Father has authority and knows the time and dates of the kingdom’s arrival(Acts 1:3-7).|
|2. The Holy Spirit (& charismata) would be given to boldly fulfill the G.C. (cf. Mt. 10:17-23; Mrk. 13:10-13)||2. The Holy Spirit (charismata) would be given to boldly fulfill the G.C. (Acts 1:4-8).
|3. Jesus would come from heaven upon His glory cloud in their generation and accomplish “redemption” (cf. Mt. 24:14-34; Lk. 21:27-32).
|3. Jesus would come from heaven upon His glory cloud in their generation to “save”them and thus to “restore all things” (cf. Acts 1:11; 2:20-40; 3:11-26).
Postmillennialists have no problem quoting Romans 10:18 to demonstrate how the GC of Matthew 24:14 was fulfilled by AD 70 because it uses the same Greek word oikumene (“has gone out to the ends of the world”). Yet, Romans 10:18 also uses the Greek word ge (“has gone out into all the earth”). Therefore, if Romans 10:18 can be applied to the GC of Matthew 24:14 as being fulfilled in AD 70, it can also be applied to the GC of Acts 1:8 as being fulfilled by AD 70.
Jews from “every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:4-5) were saved and empowered by the Holy Spirit to go fulfill the GC of Acts 1:8 to “the end of the earth/land” of the Roman Empire. As R.C. Sproul pointed out in his lectures at John MacArthur’s “Strange Fire” Conference, the book of Acts describes four Pentecost events based upon Acts 1:8. Since that is the case, the book of Acts maps out the success of the GC of Acts 1:8 — thus showing how the sign of the GC was being fulfilled and giving Paul his imminent “about to” expectation of the judgment and resurrection (cf. Acts 17:31 YLT; Acts 24:15 YLT).
|Prophecy – Greek Ge||Fulfillment – Greek Ge|
|“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth/land.” [Gk. ge] (Acts 1:8)
|“But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed: ‘Their sound has gone out to all the earth/land [Gk. ge], and their words to the ends of the world.’” (Rom. 10:18)|
|One def. of ge – “The then known lands, regions, territories, countries etc…”|
|1. In Jerusalem||1. Acts 2 – Jews|
|2. And Samaria||2. Acts 8 – Samaritans|
|3. In all Judea||3. Acts 10 – God-fearers|
|4. To the earth/land||4. Acts 11-19 – Missionary journey to the Gentiles with Paul taking the gospel as far as Rome and Spain/Tarshish (cf. Rms. 15:20, 28)|
There is also an obvious connection between the GC depicted in Acts 1:8 with all the Jews being gathered from “every nation under heaven” in Acts 2:4-5. These same Jews would go back to those nations and preach the gospel:
|Prophecy had begun to be fulfilled:||Prophecy would be fulfilled “shortly”:|
|“And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues [Gk. glossa], as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation [Gk. ethnos] under heaven. (Acts 2:4-5)||“And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth/land [Gk. ge], and to every nation [Gk. ethnos], and kindred and tongue [Gk. glossa], and people.” (Rev. 14:6).
“The scene is Pentecost, 30 A.D. (cf. Heb. 12:22-24). This is when the gospel began to be preached under the authority of the great commission (cf. Matt. 28:18-20; Mk. 16:15-16; Lk. 24:46-49) and the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8; 2:1-4; 33; 1 Pet. 1:12). From here the gospel was preached to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people (cf. Matt. 24:14; Mk. 13:10; Rom. 1:16; 10:18; Col. 1:23).” (Arthur Ogden, The Avenging of the Apostles and Prophets Commentary on Revelation, pp. 292-293).
Postmillennial Partial Preterist Gary DeMar sees no problem with Revelation 14:6 being another depiction of the GC and therefore the nations (Gk. ethnos) and those dwelling on the earth/land (Gk. ge) is a local and not global fulfillment. Once again, if Romans 10:18 and Revelation 14:6 can be used to show how Matthew 24:14 was fulfilled in AD 70, they can also be applied to show how Acts 1:8/Acts 2:4-5 was fulfilled by AD 70!
The Second Coming of Christ – in Acts 1:9-11
Postmillennialists such as Mathison and other Futurists insist that Jesus’ physical body was seen for some period of time as He ascended into the sky. However, verse nine simply says, “He was lifted up, and a cloud received Him from their eyes.” Jesus was certainly seen just before He was “lifted up” (Acts 1:9). But it is not at all certain that He was directly seen as He ascended into the sky.
In verse 11, the disciples were told that Jesus would come in the manner that they had seen Him enter heaven (the sky). The continuity (or similarity) of Him coming as He had entered heaven is found in the fact that He would come in the heavenly glory-cloud of His Father (Matt. 16:27). Jesus was not physically seen after He was received into the glory-cloud. It was while He was hidden from sight in that cloud that He was indirectly seen entering the sky. A son can “see his father” as his fathers plane is taking off the runway and off into the sky, without directly physically seeing his father’s body. In seeing the plane (which contains his father and the other passengers), he can still correctly say, “There’s dad, and there he goes.” And He was to come in like manner. Therefore, He would not be physically or directly seen when He came “in like manner,” in the cloud, to indwell His church in the end of the old covenant age (Luke 17:20–37; John 14:2–3, 23).
The phrase “in like manner” simply means “in a similar way” – not exactly the same way (which seem to be how most falsely interpret the passage). Jesus didn’t ascend riding on a horse with a sword proceeding from His mouth did He? Did “every eye” on the planet earth see Him leave? “The exact same way” argument offered by hyper- literalists self-emplodes upon itself.
Postmillennialists such as Mathison are not correct when they say that Jesus was going to come back in the same way that He “departed.” The Scriptures say that Jesus would come in the same way He had entered the sky. He entered the sky hidden from literal eye sight in the cloud of God’s glory.
Here is the order of events:
- As they looked, He was taken up (Acts 1:9).
- A cloud received Him from their eyes (Acts 1:9).
These first two events could very well have happened simultaneously. As Mathison himself admits, the verse could be translated, “He was lifted up; that is, a cloud received Him out of their sight.” (From Age to Age, 459). It is a very real possibility that Jesus was instantly hidden in the cloud at the moment His feet left the earth.
- Then the disciples saw Him going into the sky. That is, they looked intently into the sky as He was ascending in the cloud (Acts 1:10–11).
In the Old Testament, God was never literally or directly seen coming in His glory when He judged or saved Israel and other nations. Jesus was not literally seen again after He entered the cloud of God’s glory. He was “taken up in glory” (1 Tim. 3:16) and He would come in glory as the Ancient of Days.
The Lord God had become flesh. John bore testimony to the fact that looking at and touching Jesus was to look at and touch God Himself (John 1:14; 1 John 1:1). God was physically seen in the flesh, but this was temporary for the second person of the Godhead (Heb. 5:7), even as He had been born into and under the old covenant system with its temporal types and shadows (Gal. 4:4; Rom. 5–8; 2 Cor. 3; Heb. 8:13). Though Jesus is no longer in the flesh, He forever retains His human nature. He is forever Man, even as the saints in heaven today, who are no longer in their physical bodies, are still human/man by nature. Neither the Son of Man nor those who are in Him, whether in heaven or on earth, are “nonhuman” as some futurists theorize.
Ironically, the point of the question, “Why do you stand here looking into the sky,” was that Jesus was not going to return to His physical form. It was futile for the disciples to long for Jesus to return to the earthly form He had taken when He was born of Mary. In His ascension, Jesus had returned to His pre-incarnate glory. The question of the two men was rhetorical, and it meant, “There is no use in standing here longing for Jesus to return to you and to be as He was in the days of His flesh. He will come, but He will come in the manner you saw Him enter heaven—hidden from physical eyes in the cloud of the Father’s glory.”
We agree with the majority of commentators and cross reference systems which see the in-like-manner coming of Jesus in Acts 1:11 as being parallel with the coming of Jesus on or in the cloud(s) in Matthew 16:27–28, 24:30–31, 26:64–68; Luke 21:27, and Revelation 1:7. Mathison and Gentry, however, wrench Acts 1:11 from those Scriptures. They admit that Christ was figuratively “seen” (perceived, understood) at a figurative “coming” in/on the clouds in AD 70, but they deny that this was the fulfillment of Acts 1:11.
This brings us to another problem. Mathison writes of Matthew 24:30 in his book Postmillennialism:
. . . [T]he “coming” of the Son of Man is His coming in judgment upon Jerusalem (see vv. 23–28), which is intimately connected with His ascension to the right hand of God (cf. Dan. 7:13–14). (Keith A. Mathison, Postmillennialism: An Eschatology of Hope (Phillipsburg, NJ: 1999), 114).
Later, in WSTTB, Mathison goes further and identifies the Ascension with the coming of Christ in AD 70:
. . . [W]hen [Jesus] makes reference to “the coming of the Son of Man,” . . . He may have been referring . . . to his ascension . . . and the judgment on Jerusalem. . . . ” (182, emphasis added)
For Mathison, Christ’s “coming” in Daniel 7:13–14 is somehow both a literal, visible “going up” in a literal cloud in about AD 30 and a figurative “coming” to Jerusalem from heaven in figurative clouds in AD 70. The confusion inherent in this position is plain enough. Mathison says that “the coming of the Son of Man” in Daniel 7:13– 14 is a reference to the Ascension. But then Mathison says that when Jesus used the term, He was referring to the Ascension and to the destruction of Jerusalem. Yet there is not one instance where Jesus spoke of the coming of the Son of Man where it can be taken to be a reference to His Ascension. In every case, it is His coming to earth in judgment and salvation. But this is only the tip of the Iceberg of Confusion.
Even though Mathison says that Jesus’ “coming” in AD 70 was “intimately connected with His ascension,” and even though Mathison says that both the Ascension and His coming in judgment in AD 70 are equally “the coming of the Son of Man,” and even though Mathison admits that both events were with a cloud/clouds and in the glory of the Father, and that both events were seen (Acts 1:11; Matt. 26:64), Mathison nevertheless maintains that Jesus’ “coming” in AD 70 was not the “in-like-manner” coming promised in Acts 1:11. Mathison’s position is an ineffable tangle of exegetical double vision, contradiction, and consummate confusion.
Partial Preterist Milton Terry, in contrast, took a lucid, biblical approach, seeing Matthew 24:30–31, 34; Acts 1:11; and Revelation 1:7 as all being fulfilled in the fall of Jerusalem in the end of the age:
“Whatever the real nature of the parousia, as contemplated in this prophetic discourse, our Lord unmistakably associates it with the destruction of the temple and city, which he represents as the signal termination of the pre-Messianic age. The coming on clouds, the darkening of the heavens, the collapse of elements, are, as we have shown above, familiar forms of apocalyptic language, appropriated from the Hebrew prophets. Acts i, 11, is often cited to show that Christ’s coming must needs be spectacular, “in like manner as ye beheld him going into the heaven.” But (1) in the only other three places where [“in like manner”] occurs, it points to a general concept rather than the particular form of its actuality. Thus, in Acts vii, 28, it is not some particular manner in which Moses killed the Egyptian that is notable, but rather the certain fact of it. In 2 Tim. iii, 8, it is likewise the fact of strenuous opposition rather than the special manner in which Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses. And in Matt. xxiii, 37, and Luke xiii, 34, it is the general thought of protection rather than the visible manner of a mother bird that is intended. Again (2), if Jesus did not come in that generation, and immediately after the great tribulation that attended the fall of Jerusalem, his words in Matt. xvi, 27, 28, xxiv, 29, and parallel passages are in the highest degree misleading. (3) To make the one statement of the angel in Acts i, 11, override all the sayings of Jesus on the samesubject and control their meaning is a very one-sided method of biblical interpretation. But all the angel’s words necessarily mean is that as Jesus has ascended into heaven so he will come from heaven. And this main thought agrees with the language of Jesus and the prophets.” (Milton S. Terry, A Study of the Most Notable Revelations of God and of Christ (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 246-247).
I would also add that there are some Postmillennial Partial Preterists such as author Mike Bull that also “accept the testimony of the Scriptures” and follow Terry’s view and believe the coming of the Christ in Acts 1:11; Matthew 24-25 and Revelation 1:7 was fulfilled in AD 70.
As Mathison admits in one book but denies in another, the immediate context links Christ’s in-like-manner return to the fulfillment of the Great Commission (v. 8; Matt. 24:14, 27, 30; Rom. 10:18). The Great Commission was fulfilled in Christ’s generation.
Premise #1: If it is true that the “in like manner” coming of Christ and His kingdom in Acts 1:6, 11 is fulfilled when the G.C. of Acts 1:8 is fulfilled (Mathison agrees with Full Preterism)…
Premise #2: And if it is true that the gospel was preached and “went out to all the earth” in Paul’s day (Rms. 10:18) and the spiritual NC kingdom arrived at Christ’s coming in the AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” (Lk. 21:27-32; Lk. 17:20-37) (Mathison agrees with Full Preterism)…
Premise #3: And if it is true that the coming of Christ and arrival of the kingdom in Acts 1:6-11 is the same event as described by Christ in Luke 21 and Matthew 24 (WCF agrees with Full Preterism)…
Conclusion: Then it is also true that the “in like manner” coming of Christ and His kingdom in Acts 1:6-11 was fulfilled in AD 70 when the gospel was preached and “went out to all the earth” (Gk. ge – Acts 1:8/Rms. 10:18) as a sign just prior to the consummation and restoration of all things in AD 70.
Jesus was “lifted up” and hidden from sight in the cloud of glory. He ascended into the sky hidden in the cloud, as His disciples watched. He was to come in the same manner in which the disciples saw Him enter into the sky: hidden in the cloud of the glory of His Father. He was “seen” in that Day in the same way that Yahweh was “seen” whenever He came on a cloud to judge nations in the Old Testament.
This was the one and only future coming of Christ that was promised in the New Testament. Therefore, Christ returned in AD 70. The analogy of Scripture confirms this interpretation. It does not confirm Mathison’s, which rips Acts 1:9–11 from its immediate and broader New Testament contexts. We agree with Terry’s comments on Matthew 24:30–31, 34; Acts 1:11; and Revelation 1:7. “We accept upon the testimony of the Scriptures” that Christ returned on/in a cloud/clouds in that generation. (Milton S. Terry, Biblical Hermeneutic (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1990), 468, n.1 (emphases added).
For those that must have some kind of physical seeing of the Son of Man upon a cloud, it should be pointed out that historically, a man (along with angels is the sky) was seen on a cloud over the temple while it was being destroyed with swords proceeding from it. Prior to the incarnation God manifested Himself in human form eating, drinking and wresting with them. So while I favor a non-physical and apocalyptic fulfillment of Jesus being seen on the clouds (as in the OT comings), it is possible that God would manifest Himself in a more physical form (as He had in the OT as well).
The Second Coming and Restoration of the Nations – in Acts 2/Gen. 10-11/Deut. 32:8-9
Luke draws our attention to Peter referencing not just the fulfillment of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and Second Coming of Jesus in Joel 2, but the restoration and fulfillment of Genesis 11 and Deuteronomy 32 in Acts 2 as well.
The Septuagint (LXX) of Acts 2:2-3 references “divided” to Deuteronomy 32:8-9 and “bewildered” to Genesis 11:7 (for a detailed explanation of this see: Dr. Michael Heiser, The Unseen Realm Recovering the supernatural worldview of the Bible, p. 298). These are deliberate exegetical “echoes” or “hooks” taking us back to these OT passages. In other words, this is the reversing and restoring of God’s judgment upon the nations in Genesis 10-11/Deuteronomy 32:8-9 and Him bringing them back together under the uniting and “pure” tongue/language of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
G.K. Beale writes,
“Why does Luke want readers to see the link to Genesis 10-11? Babel’s sin of uniting and consequent judgment of confused languages and of people being scattered throughout the earth is reversed at Pentecost: God causes representatives from the same scattered nations to unite in Jerusalem in order that they might receive the blessing of understanding different languages as if all these languages were one.” (G.K. Beale,The Temple and the Church’s Mission: A Biblical Theology of the Dwelling Place of God, p. 202)
|Josephus on Genesis 11||Peter on Acts 2|
|The spoke “with other tongues” [“alloglossous glossais”] (Ant. 1.117; Ant. 1.120),||“They began to speak “with other tongues [heterais glossais] (Acts 2:4)|
|God “gave to each his own language” [“idian hekasto phonen”] (Ant. 1.118)||“”We hear each in our own dialect [“hekastos- te idia dialekto”] (Acts 2:6, 8)|
Beale also sees Peter using the LXX to conflate Joel 2 with the last days evangelism to the nations of Isaiah 2,
“At the beginning of the Joel 2:28 quotation, Peter substitutes the phrase “in the last days” (en tais eschatais hemerais) in place of Joel’s “after these things.” The substitution comes from Isa. 2:2 (the only in the LXX where this precise phrase occurs): “In the last days (en tais eschatais hemerais) the mountain of the house of the LORD will be established as the chief of the mountains, and will be raised above the hills; and all the nations will stream to it.” Thus Peter appears to interpret the Spirit’s coming in fulfillment of Joel to be also the beginning fulfillment of the Isaiah’s prophecy of the end-time mountain temple, under the influence of which the nations would come.” (G.K. Beale, A NEW TESTAMENT BIBLICAL THEOLOGY THE UNFOLDING OF THE OLD TESTAMENT IN THE NEW TESTAMENT; p. 603).
Peter Leithart observes,
“Pentecost sounds like a repeat of Babel, but, unlike Babel, Pentecostal tongues communicate rather than confuse. Filled with the Spirit, the apostles preach the gospel to everyone in his own language, and the tongues of the Spirit join rather than separate nations. Glossolalia marks the church as an anti-Babel.
The apostles announce that all Israel has hoped for has now happened in the cross and exaltation of Jesus. The Spirit’s arrival is one of the indicators that Israel’s hopes are fulfilled. In contrast to Deuteronomy, the New Testament treats tongues not as an omen of exile but as a sign that exile has ended. Speaking in tongues, the early church isn’t being invaded. The church is the invader.
This helps answer our question, To whom was Pentecost a threat? On the one hand, it was a signal to Jews who rejected Jesus as Messiah. Judaism was being “invaded” by a new people who claimed, in Paul’s words, to be “true Jews,” circumcised in heart rather than flesh (Rom 2).
On the other hand, tongues were a warning to Rome. Though dominated by Latin in the west and Greek in the east, the empire was polyglot. The sounds of the Pentecostal church told Rome that another multinational empire had invaded and was settling down in Roman territory. No wonder Roman emperors regarded the church as a dangerous rival.” (Peter Leithart, THE POLYGLOT POLITICS OF PENTECOST, https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2018/05/the-polyglot-politics-of-pentecost).
I would agree with Mr. Leithart that tongues were a sign of a uniting force for the nations coming into the fold of God through the Church, BUT it also functioned as a sign of judgment and exile for Old Covenant Jerusalem who would be “cast out” (exiled) of the kingdom in AD 70 (Mt. 8:10-12; 21:43-45).
***The theological point is that Peter’s sermon is the SEED that will be sent to plant the gospel in the Gentile nations (that were once disinherited by God in Gen. 10-11). These Jews would go back to their synagogues where there were not only Jews but believing Gentile proselytes and God-fearers. They too would hear the good news of what Messiah had done for them. Form here, God will send the Apostle Paul (as another faithful Jonah from Tarshish– the end of the ancient world) to make the mission complete and blossom into its fulness – thus bringing the nations back into the fold and kingdom of God. He would do this by going to the Jew first and then the Gentile. No doubt his first stop would be in these synagogues and churches established from Peter’s sermon, and then would branch out from there.
Let’s examine the parallels between Jonah and Peter and then Jonah and Paul.
Jonah and Peter
- The Bible records the sin and pride of both men.
- Jonah and Peter faced a crisis during a storm.
- And for our main purpose in this article – both Jonah and Peter were first to cross Jew/Gentile boundaries.
- Jonah fled from Joppa to Tarshish in order to flee from going to the Gentiles; while Peter is commissioned to go to Joppa to raise Dorcus and then commissioned back to Joppa to give preach and give the Holy Spirit to Cornelius in Acts 9-11.
Jonah and Paul:
- Both were heading to Spain – Jonah 1:3 Jonah fled to Tarshish (in Spain – the end of the world in the ancient world) and Paul wanted to go to Spain/Tarshish, with tradition teaching he did (cf. Rom 15:24, 28).
- Both sailed on the Mediterranean – Jonah boarded a ship on the Mediterranean to get away from the Lord’s calling (cf. Jonah 1:3) and Paul was led by the Spirit to sail on the Mediterranean to fulfill his (cf. Acts 27:1).
- Both experience a great storm on the sea – (cf. John 1:4; Acts 27:13-14).
- Both crews threw cargo overboard to lighten the ship (cf. Jonah 1:4 Acts 27:18).
- Presence/absence of seeking the Lord’s guidance – Jonah is exhorted by a pagan to pray, while Paul through answer to prayers assures the captain and crew (cf. Jonah 1:6; Acts 27:24).
- The miraculous sign of the great fish causes the Ninevites to be amazed and plays a part in their repentance while the miraculous sign of Paul being bitten by a poisonous snake play a role in the conversion of crew members and foreigners on an island.
While we are on the subject of Paul, let’s briefly extend our previous comments of him being used to fulfill the GC and add Israel’s typological mission.
Israel and Paul’s Role in the Great Commission
Although it can be correctly stated that Israel was not successful in fulfilling the great commission and being a light to the gentiles due to their propensity to fall into the sin of an exclusive self righteousness, it can also be stated that she temporary (in type form) did fulfill the great commission in a limited way. As God promised, Israel through Jehovah’s power did subdue and rule over all the land driving out the unclean beasts of the gentile nations: (Josh. 21:43-45; 1 Kings 8:56; Neh. 9:7-8). They experienced a typological subduing of God’s enemies and peace through the 40 year reigns of David and Solomon, which typified the warfare and peace of Christ’s pre-parousia reign and the early Church in subduing their enemies (Psalm 110/Heb. 10:13-37/1 Cor. 15:23-26) — this being a 40 year millennial reign before Christ returned in AD 70. The Great Commission was fulfilled in Jesus’ and Paul’s generation:
|1. “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world [Greek oikumene] for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” (Matt. 24:14)
* One def. – “The Roman Empire (Acts 17:6); the Jews in the world (Acts 24:5). Of Palestine and the adjacent countries (Luke 2:1; Acts 11:28).”
|1. “But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed:‘Their sound has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.’” [Greek oikumene] (Rom. 10:18)|
|2. “And the gospel must first be published among allnations.” [Greek ethnos] “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations.’” [Greek ethnos] “‘. . . I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.” (Mark 13:10; Matt. 28:19-20)
* These are “all the nations under heaven” in (Acts 2:4-5)
|2. “…My gospel… has been made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures has been made known to allnations. . . .” [Greek ethnos] (Rom. 16:25-26)|
|3. “And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world [Greek kosmos] and preach the gospel to every creature” “. . . And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils;they shall speak with new tongues.” [Greek glossa] (Mark 16:15, 17)
* One def. – “The then–known world and particularly the people who lived in it…”
|3. “…of the gospel, which has come to you, as it has also in all the world [Greek kosmos], as is bringing forth fruit…” (Cols. 1:5-6)|
|4. “And he said unto them ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.’” [Greek kitisis] (Mark 16:15)
* The creation of men – “in rabbinical usage (by which a man converted from idolatry to Judaism was called).”
|4. “ . . . from the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature [Greek kitisis] under heaven, of which I, Paul became a minister.”(Col. 1:23)|
|5. “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth/land.” [Greek ge] (Acts 1:8)
* The then known lands, regions, territories, countries etc…
|5. “But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed:‘Their sound has gone out to all the earth/land [Greek ge], and their words to the ends of the world.’” (Rom. 10:18)|
|6. Prophecy had begun to be fulfilled: “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues [Greek glossa], as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation [Greek ethnos] under heaven. (Acts 2:4-5)||6. Prophecy would be fulfilled “shortly”: “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth/land [Greek ge], and to every nation [Greek ethnos], and kindred [Greek phile] and tongue [Greek glossa], and people.” [Greek laos] (Rev.14:6). “The scene is Pentecost, 30 A.D. (cf. Heb. 12:22-24). This is when the gospel began to be preached under the authority of the great commission (cf. Matt. 28:18-20;Mk. 16:15-16; Lk. 24:46-49) and the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8; 2:1-4; 33; 1 Pet. 1:12). From here the gospel was preached to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people (cf. Matt. 24:14; Mk. 13:10; Rom. 1:16; 10:18; Col. 1:23).” (Arthur Ogden, The Avenging of the Apostles and Prophets Commentary on Revelation, pp. 292-293).|
It’s no accident that the Holy Spirit led the Apostle Paul to use ALL of the very same Greek words Jesus used to describe the extent of the GC — to communicate that it had already been fulfilled. Not sure how else he could have communicated that Jesus’ prophecy had been fulfilled when Jesus said it would be – “this generation.”
Premise #1 If it is true and orthodox to believe that the NT only addresses ONE Great Commission to be completed at the end of ONE “end of the age” (Matt. 24:14/Mk. 13:10; Matt. 28:18-20/Mk. 16:15-18; Acts 1:8) – both of which are to be fulfilled just prior to the ONE Second Coming or parouia of Christ (Full Preterists, classic Amillennialists & Charismatics agree)…
Premise #2 …And if it is also true and orthodox to believe that the Great Commission in (Matt. 24:14/Mk. 13:10) and the “end of the (OC) age” was fulfilled at Christ’s parousia in AD 70 (Full Preterists and Partial Preterists agree)…
Conclusion: …Then it is also true and necessarily follows that the ONE Great Commission (Matt. 24:14/Mk. 13:10; Matt. 28:18-20/Mk. 16:15-18; Acts 1:8) was completed at the end of the ONE “end of the (OC) age” at Christ’s ONE parousia in AD 70 (“Reformed and always reforming”).
The Churches GC today in the NC age post AD 70 is found in Revelation 22:17 where the “Spirit and the Bride” invite sinners from the darkness outside the Jew Jerusalem to come through her gates through faith. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that sinners and evangelism are present in the New Creation – both Isaiah 65-66 and Revelation 21-22 support this exegetically.
* Getting back to developing some other OT texts in Acts 2…
Perhaps another important OT passage should be addressed as we look at what is taking place in Acts 2:
- “For at that time I will change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech, that all of them may call upon the name of the LORD and serve him with one accord.” (Zephaniah 3:9)
Benson addresses the typological fulfillment of Zephaniah 3:9 and then it’s ultimate fulfillment in the Messianic times,
“This promise seems primarily to respect the Jewish captives in Babylon, and to imply that God would, by the captivity, and other methods of his providence, so reform them and wean them from their idolatries and other sins, that they should, upon their return to their own land, all join together to glorify him with one mind and one mouth, and serve him alone in sincerity and truth. And this was accordingly, in a great measure, accomplished. For they never after their restoration worshipped different gods, as they had done before; but all joined, as well those of the ten tribes that returned, as those of Judah and Benjamin, in the worship of Jehovah alone; nor did the nation in general ever afterward fall into gross idolatry. And it is not to be doubted that their morals in general were much more pure when they returned from Babylon, than at the time they were carried thither. It is, however, generally supposed by commentators, that the full accomplishment of this promise is reserved for the latter days, after the conversion of the Jews, and the coming in of the fulness of the Gentiles, when there shall be one Lord, and his name one, Zechariah 14:9. Accordingly, the word rendered people in the first clause is in the plural, עמים, peoples, I will restore to the peoples a pure language: an expression which could hardly be intended of the Jews only, but seems evidently to include the Gentiles also.”
The Pulpit Commentary takes it a step further and correctly connects this with Genesis 10-11,
“…the confusion of Babel shall be done away, and all shall speak the language of faith in one God. This, of course, points to Messianic times.”
And yet Barnes, one step further to the truth when he connects the miraculous tongue speaking of Acts 2 with the restoration of the judgment upon the seventy nations in Genesis 10-11,
“Before the dispersion of Babel the world was “of one lip,” but that, impure, for it was in rebellion against God. Now it shall be again of “one lip;” and that, “purified.” The purity is of faith and of life, “that they way call upon the Name of the Lord,” not as heretofore on idols, but that every tongue should confess the one true God, Father Son and Holy Spirit, in Whose Name they are baptized. This is purity of faith.”
“God gave back one pure language, when, on the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit, the Author of purity, came down in fiery tongues upon the Apostles, teaching them and guiding them “into the whole truth” John 16:13, and to “speak to every one in his own tongue, wherein he was born, the wonderful works of God” Acts 2:8, Acts 2:11. Thenceforth there was to be a higher unity than that of outward language. For speech is not the outer sound, but the thoughts which it conveys and embodies. The inward thought is the soul of the words. The outward confusion of Babel was to hinder oneness in evil and a worse confusion. At Pentecost, the unity restored was oneness of soul and heart, wrought by One Spirit, whose gift is the one Faith and the one Hope of our calling, in the One Lord, in whom we are one, grafted into the one body, by our baptism Ephesians 4:3-6. The Church, then created, is the One Holy Universal Church diffused throughout all the world, everywhere with one rule of Faith, “the Faith once for all delivered unto the saints,” confessing one God, the Trinity in Unity, and serving Him in the one law of the Gospel with one consent.”
Before leaving Acts 2 we need to address the apocalyptic genre that is present as it relates to the Second Coming of Jesus or “Day of the Lord.”
The Apocalyptic Language of the Second Coming in Acts 2
a). “blood, fire and vapor of smoke” (v.19) – This is war language referring to AD 66 – AD 70. Tongues were for a sign of impending judgment for Israel (1 Cor. 14/Isa. 28).
b). “sun turned to darkness & moon to blood” (v. 20) – This is the language of a lunar eclipse which when darkened, the sun turned the moon blood red. Israel shining like the sun in covenant status with God would now be extinguished. Her moon or city would become blood red like the moon during an eclipse – after all they did say, “His blood be on us and on our children,” and in AD 66 – AD 70 it was so.
c). “before the day of the Lord comes” (v. 20) – As with the judgment and day of the Lord in Mal. 3-4, and Matt. 24:27-30, this passage has historically been referred to as either: 1) The Second Coming closing the “last days” period, or 2) Typical apocalyptic language describing Christ coming in judgment upon Jerusalem with her “last days” OC age ending in AD 70. Both are true, this is the Second Coming event which closed the “last days” of the OC age in AD 70.
d). “Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” “…and [Peter] continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” (vss. 21, 40) – That this “Day of the Lord” is referring to AD 70 should be obvious in that Peter’s audience is exhorted to be saved from its arrival in their “this crooked generation.”
And this is no generic generation, for Peter is referencing Israel’s “last days” “perverse and crooked generation” of Deuteronomy 31–32:5, 20 who’s “end” would be “near” when it appeared. Peter’s eschatology not only confirms his generation brings in the “end” but it was truly “near” (1 Pet. 4:5-7) just as Deuteronomy 32 prophesied.
e). “For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself” (vss. 38-39). This takes us back to the G.C. of Acts 1:8 reaching the end of the earth (and of them returning back to “all nations under heaven” in 2:5) which was fulfilled just prior to the Lord coming in judgment by AD 70 (Rms. 10:18; 16:25-26).
Charismatics like Dr. Michael Brown are fond of quoting this passage and leaving out Peter’s exhortation to be saved from their “crooked generation” in the very next verse (v. 40).
When God brought the believing Jewish remnant and Gentile into the matured NC body of Christ within that “crooked generation” just prior to Him coming in judgment and ending Israel’s “last days,” He also caused the confirmatory nature of the sign and revelatory gifts to cease for they served their purpose (1 Cor. 13:8-12).
Support from the Commentators in Acts 2
John Lightfoot– “…it shall come to pass “in the last days.” We have elsewhere observed that by the last days is to be understood the last days of Jerusalem and the Jewish economy, viz. when the τέλος τοῦαἰῶνος Ἰουδαϊκοῦ, the end of the Jewish world drew near. And there would be the less doubt as to this matter if we would frame a right notion of “that great and terrible day of the Lord;” that is, the day of his vengeance upon that place and nation. Which terror the Jews, according to their custom and fashion, put far off from themselves,…”
Adam Clark– “Acts 2:20: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood – These are figurative representations of eclipses, intended most probably to point out the fall of the civil and ecclesiastical state in Judea: see the notes on Mat 24:29. That the Sun is darkened when a total eclipse takes place, and that the Moon appears of a bloody hue in such circumstances, every person knows.
Acts 2:21: Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved – The predicted ruin is now impending; and only such as receive the Gospel of the Son of God shall be saved. And that none but the Christians did escape, when God poured out these judgments, is well known; and that All the Christians did escape, not one of them perishing in these devastations, stands attested by the most respectable authority. See the note on Mat 24:13.”
“Acts 2:40: Save yourselves from this untoward generation – Separate yourselves from them: be ye saved, σωθητε: the power is present with you; make a proper use of it, and ye shall be delivered from their obstinate unbelief, and the punishment that awaits it in the destruction of them and their city by the Romans.”
Matthew Henry– “…Or, in the days immediately preceding the destruction of the Jewish nation, in the last days of that people, just before that great and notable day of the Lord spoken of, v. 20.” And:
“The terrible presages of that destruction are here foretold: There shall be wonders in heaven above, the sun turned into darkness and the moon into blood; and signs too in the earth beneath, blood and fire. Josephus, in his preface to his history of the wars of the Jews, speaks of the signs and prodigies that preceded them, terrible thunders, lightnings, and earthquakes; there was a fiery comet that hung over the city for a year, and a flaming sword was seen pointing down upon it; a light shone upon the temple and the altar at midnight, as if it had been noon-day. Dr. Lightfoot gives another sense of these presages: The blood of the Son of God, the fire of the Holy Ghost now appearing, the vapour of the smoke in which Christ ascended, the sun darkened, and the moon made blood, at the time of Christ’s passion, were all loud warnings given to that unbelieving people to prepare for the judgments coming upon them. Or, it may be applied, and very fitly, to the previous judgments themselves by which that desolation was brought on. The blood points at the wars of the Jews with the neighbouring nations, with the Samaritans, Syrians, and Greeks, in which abundance of blood was shed, as there was also in their civil wars, and the struggles of the seditious (as they called them), which were very bloody; there was no peace to him that went out nor to him that came in. The fire and vapour of smoke, here foretold, literally came to pass in the burning of their cities, and towns, and synagogues, and temple at last. And this turning of the sun into darkness, and the moon into blood, bespeaks the dissolution of their government, civil and sacred, and the extinguishing of all their lights. Thirdly, The signal preservation of the Lord’s people is here promised (v. 21): Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord Jesus (which is the description of a true Christian, 1 Co. 1:2) shall be saved, shall escape that judgment which shall be a type and earnest of everlasting salvation. In the destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans, there was a remnant sealed to be hid in the day of the Lord’s anger; and in the destruction by the Romans not one Christian perished. Those that distinguish themselves by singular piety shall be distinguished by special preservation.”
Kenneth Gentry– “Acts 2:20 must highlight AD 70, for it appears in the very context of Jerusalem and incudes tongues-speaking which is a sign of coming judgment upon Israel (cf. Dt 28:49; Isa 28:11; 33:19; Jer 5:15; 1 Cor 14:21-22). Peter’s sermon not only blames the Jews for Christ’s recent death (Acts 2:22-23, 36), but urges the Jerusalemites to “be saved from this perverse generation” (Acts 2:40).”
Question on the Last Days of Acts 2
Why would anyone think the “last days” is referring to the Church age or the NC age when the Apostle Paul emphatically says it is an “age without end” (Ephs. 3:20-21)?!?
Between AD 30 – AD 70 the OC age overlapped with the NC age. The OC age was passing away and “ready to vanish” while the NC age was “about to come” in its mature state by AD 70 (2 Cor. 3; Heb. 8:13).
Orthodoxy and the End of the Age, the Last Days, and Day of the Lord of Acts 2 Cont.
Milton Terry– “The ‘end of the age’ means the close of the epoch or age—that is, the Jewish age or dispensation which was drawing nigh, as our Lord frequently intimated. All those passages that speak of ‘the end,’ ‘the end of the age,’ or ‘the ends of the ages,’ refer to the same consummation, and always as nigh at hand.” “…the writer regarded the incarnation of Christ as taking place near the end of the aeon, or dispensational period. To suppose that he meant that it was close upon the end of the world, or the destruction of the material globe, would be to make him write false history as well as bad grammar. It would not be true in fact; for the world has already lasted longer since the incarnation than the whole duration of the Mosaic economy, from the exodus to the destruction of the temple. It is futile, therefore, to say that the ‘end of the age’ may mean a lengthened period, extending from the incarnation to our times, and even far beyond them. That would be an aeon, and not the close of an aeon. The aeon of which our Lord was speaking was about to close in a great catastrophe; and a catastrophe is not a protracted process, but a definitive and culminating act.”
Dr. John Owen– “Most expositors suppose that this expression, “The last days,” is for the times of the gospel today. But it doth not appear that they are anywhere so called; nor were they ever known by that name among the Jews, upon whose principles the apostle proceeds.”“…It is the last days of the Judaical church and state, which were then drawing to their period and abolition, that are here and elsewhere called “The last days,” or “The latter days,” or “The last hour,” 2 Peter 3:3; 1 John 2:18; Jude 1:18. For,…” “…This phrase of speech is signally used in the Old Testament to denote the last days of the Judaical church.”
Gary DeMar– “The last days are not way off in the distant future. The end came to an obsolete covenant in the first century. In A.D. 70 the “last days” ended with the dissolution of the temple and the sacrificial system.”
David Chilton– “The Biblical expression Last Days properly refers to the period from the Advent of Christ until the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, the “last days” of Israel during the transition from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant (Heb. 1:1–2; 8:13; James 5:1–9; 1 Pet. 2:20; 1 John 2:18).”
Full Preterist Synthesis / “Reformed and Always Reforming”
Amillennialists– The “last days” encompass a period between Christ’s first and second comings. The NT only affirms ONE Parousia or Second Coming event. The coming of Christ in Acts 1-3 is His ONE Second Coming event (Full Preterism agrees).
Partial Preterists– The “last days” only extended to AD 70 and refers to the last days of the OC age which ended in AD 70 when Christ’s spiritual and imminent Parousia was fulfilled. The coming of Christ in Acts 1:11 [Milton Terry and Mike Bull] and Acts 2:20 was fulfilled in AD 70 (Full Preterism agrees).
Obviously, both views have formed Full Preterism.
The Second Coming of Christ From Heaven and the Restoration of All Things – Acts 3:19-24
- “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, “and that He maysend Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, “whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began. “For Moses truly said to the fathers, ‘The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you. ‘And it shall be that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’ “Yes, and all the prophets, from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have also foretold these days. (Acts 3:19-24).
As usual most commentators do not develop the context and audience relevancy of this very important text. As we saw before in chapter two Peter is exhorting his contemporary audience and generation to be saved from the “day of the Lord” or “great and magnificent day” (Acts 2:20-40). And those that do honor audience relevancy in Acts 2 to defend the “day of the Lord” was fulfilled by AD 70 now abandon it here in chapter 3.
Notice the same contemporary generation:
- “men of Israel” (v. 12).
- “You handed Him over to be killed” (v.13).
- “You disowned the Holy and Righteous One…,” (v.14).
- “You killed the author of life,…” (v. 15).
- “You acted in ignorance…” (v. 17).
- Therefore, they are exhorted to “repent”in order to obtain forgiveness or salvation at the coming of the Lord in (vss. 19-21) which were the exact same motifs found in Peter’s previous sermon in Acts 2.
The OC wrath and judgment to fall upon Israel foretold by Moses simply cannot be mistaken in (vss. 22-23) as referring to God’s judgment in AD 70. Postmillennialist Kenneth Gentry acknowledges the audience relevancy in (v. 23) and writes,
“This call to repentance from their sins contextually speaks of their horrible guilt in the crucifixion. With an eye to the coming A.D. 70 judgment, Peter issues a warning from Moses…”(Kenneth Gentry, He Shall Have Dominion: A Postmillennial Eschatology, p. 488).
This places Gentry in an exegetical pickle because (vss. 19-21) speak of the Second Coming and “the restoration of all things.” Gentry seeks to escape this dilemma by asserting with no justification that the “restoration of all things” is not something that comes “until” God sends His Son from heaven in the Second Coming event but decides the “restoration of all things” is a 2,000+ years process and the sending of the Son from heaven is actually a sending of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of these Jews whom repented. (Gentry, Dominion, ibid., p.489). Gentry admits this is just as much of an “awkward” exegesis of the passage as it is for a Futurist Second Coming interpretation,
“This understanding of the “sending” (Greek apostello) of Jesus in salvation is no more awkward than is the Second Advent view.” (Gentry, Dominion, ibid., p.489 emphasis added)
“This particular sending of Christ does not await His Second Advent. Why would Peter tell the Jews that if they repent today, God will send the Son thousands of years later? Christ is being presented to them at that very moment.” (Gentry, Dominion, ibid., p. 490).
How is this any less “awkward” than the same Jewish contemporary audience being exhorted to be saved from the imminent coming of the Lord in their generation of Acts 2:20-21, 40 which Gentry places in AD 70?!? The two sermons are exhorting the same first century Jewish audience that had crucified Christ to be saved from an imminent OC wrath that was looming over their generation. This OC wrath predicted by Moses would be poured out upon them by the sending of God’s Son from heaven or described as the great and dreadful day of the Lord in AD 70. Acts 2-3 is only “awkward” when trying to be interpreted through a Futurist paradigm! If Christ didn’t return in Acts 2-3 fulfilling all the OT law and prophets culminating with Him judging those that had crucified His Son, then the OC has not been fulfilled and we remain under “all” of its “jots and tittles” (Mt. 5:17-18).
The Greek word here for “restore” is apokatastasis and it is only used this one time in the NT, while it’s kindred verb to “restore” is found in (Acts 1:6 & Mt. 17:11). We have already seen the fulfillment of the GC and therefore the “restoration” of (Acts 1:6-8). According to Jesus, John was the Elijah about to come whom prepared the way for the “great and dreadful day of the Lord” (Mal. 3-4) which would “restore all things” by AD 70. The “all things” is defined later in (vss. 21-24) as prophecies that came through “all the prophets” from Moses, Samuel, and on. Peter is only reiterating what Jesus said in the Olivet Discourse,
“For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written.” (Lk. 21:22). Wasn’t the coming of the Son of Man, the inheritance of the kingdom, and resurrection found in Daniel 7 and 12 during the time of the Roman Empire equivalent to the “restoration of all things”?!?
To reiterate some of what we have covered thus far in Acts 1-3 and the Olivet Discourse:
- The great commission needed to be fulfilled first (Mt. 24:14/Acts 1:8) and was.
- Those whom put Jesus to death (and would put to death his apostles and prophets) among the “tribes of the earth/land” would mourn, experience His OC wrath, be cut off and judged if they did not repent (Mt. 23-24/Acts 2-3; see also Rev. 1:1, 7).
- The kingdom would be inherited at this time (Lk. 21:27-32/Acts 1:6-11/3:20-23).
- All prophecy found in the law and the prophets concerning the “restoration of all things” – the judgment, resurrection, and Christ’s Second Coming would occur within Peter’s contemporary “this generation” (Acts 2-3/Mt. 24:1-34).
Jonah in Joppa/Tarshish and Peter Son of Jonah’s Relationship to Joppa/Tarshish
- “Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,”Arise, go to Nineveh [Gentiles], that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.” But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshishfrom the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppaand found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went on board, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord.” (Jonah 1:1-3)
Jonah is called to the Gentiles to preach a message of repentance and salvation, but instead Jonah flees from God’s presence to “Joppa” and “Tarshish.” God’s presence is with His covenant people in the land of Israel, but Jonah is not willing to carry the good news (that presence and salvation in a sense) to the Gentiles. Joppa and Tarshish thus take on the typological symbol of Jewish hardness fleeing the Gentile mission – and their need to return and fulfill the mission. God will not allow Peter to harden his heart as Jonah did toward this commission and God’s desire to inherit, indwell and restore the Gentiles back into His kingdom (Gen. 10-12/Deut. 32/Rms. 9-11/Acts 1:8). Thus, Peter must resist the Jewish temptation to resist God’s mission to the Gentiles and thus he is sent two times in Acts to Joppa to perform miracles confirming the Gentiles are included in Israel’s covenant promises.
Peter Son of Jonah Sent to and from Joppa in Acts 9-11
Peter Son of Jonah Raising a Gentile in Joppa from the Dead – Acts 9:36-42
- “Now there was in Joppaa disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas [a Gentile].4She was full of ngood works and acts of charity. 37 In those days she became ill and died, and when they had washed her, they laid her in oan upper room. 38 Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him, urging him, p“Please come to us without delay.” 39 So Peter rose and went with them. And when he arrived, they took him to qthe upper room. All the widows stood beside him weeping and showing tunics5 and other garments that Dorcas made while she was with them. 40 But Peter rput them all outside, and sknelt down and prayed; and turning to the body the said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. 41 And he gave her his hand and raised her up. Then, calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive. 42 And it became known throughout all Joppa, and umany believed in the Lord.
Dorcas was a Gentile widow who’s faith and good deeds were well known throughout the churches. After Dorcas dies, the believers in Joppa express their faith in God to raise her from the dead through the Apostolic ministry. After all Christ was establishing His Church and building it over the rock/Hermon/Satan — the realm of the dead. They no doubt had heard that Christ raised Lazarus from the realm of the dead (on the fourth day – even after his body experienced decay) and that Peter and the other Apostles were promised to do “greater works” than that of Jesus (John 11; 14). Normally Jews would seek to immediately preserve and bury their dead, but in faith, the believers in Joppa washed her body and laid her in the upper room waiting upon God to send Peter son of Jonah for this miracle.
Peter Sent to Joppa to Evangelize and Baptize Gentile’s with the Holy Spirit – Acts 10-11
- “At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurionof wwhat was known as the Italian Cohort, 2 a devout man xwho feared God (a Gentile God-fearer– a proselyte to the Jewish faith but who was not circumcised) with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God. 3 yAbout the ninth hour of the day1zhe saw clearly in a vision aan angel of God come in and say to him, “Cornelius.” 4 And he stared at him in terror and said, “What is it, Lord?” And he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms bhave ascended cas a memorial before God. 5 And nowsend men to Joppaand bring one Simon who is called Peter. 6 He is lodging dwith one Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea.” 7 When the angel who spoke to him had departed, he called two of his servants and a devout soldier from among those who attended him, 8 and having related everything to them, he sent them to Joppa.” (Acts 10:1-8)
- “Now the apostles and rthe brothers1who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. 2 So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, sthe circumcision party2 criticized him, saying, 3 t“You went to uncircumcised men and uate with them.” 4 But Peter began and explained it to them in order: 5 v“I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision, something like a great sheet descending, being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to me. 6 Looking at it closely, I observed animals and beasts of prey and reptiles and birds of the air. 7 And I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat.’ 8 But I said, ‘By no means, Lord; for nothing common or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ 9 But the voice answered a second time from heaven, ‘What God has made clean, do not call common.’ 10 This happened three times, and all was drawn up again into heaven. 11 And behold, at that very moment three men arrived at the house in which we were, sent to me from Caesarea. 12 And the Spirit told me to go with them, wmaking no distinction. xThese six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man’s house. 13 And he told us how he had seen the angel stand in his house and say, ‘Send to Joppa and bring Simon who is called Peter; 14 yhe will declare to you a message by which zyou will be saved, you and all your household.’ 15 As I began to speak, athe Holy Spirit fell on them bjust as on us at the beginning. 16 And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, c‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 If then dGod gave ethe same gift to them as he gave to us fwhen we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, gwho was I hthat I could stand in God’s way?” 18 When they heard these things they fell silent. And they iglorified God, saying, j“Then to the Gentiles also God has kgranted lrepentance that leads to life.” (Acts 11:1-18)
Again, Luke depicts Peter as a new Jonah.
The physical miracles of Christ and the Apostles between AD 26 – AD 70 (encompassing Israel’s OC “last days”) were designed to point to a greater spiritual miracle and fulfillment of prophecy.
The raising of Lazarus and Dorcus for example teaches us that Jesus Himself is the “Resurrection and Life” and that Jew and Gentile would be raised into ONE New Man/Body/Temple/House and experience “life from the dead” at Christ’s “at hand” Second Coming from Zion to save Israel and forgive sin (Rms. 11:15, 24-27; 13:11-12) and thus “never die” (Jn. 11:25-26). Christ’s “soon” Second Coming event overcame “the [spiritual] death” that came through Adam the very day he sinned in the Garden and brings us to His face and the Tree of Life – and is the time when these miraculous gifts “ceased” (1 Cor. 13:8-12/Rev. 20-22:4-7, 20).
These physical sign miracles along with the revelatory sign gifts of knowledge (ex. James given knowledge of how Gentiles are included into the temple promise of Amos 9/Acts 15), prophecy and tongues (as manifested in Cornelius the Gentile centurion) were given to develop and confirm the spiritual nature of how the OT prophecies would be fulfilled and the Pauline “mystery” of the Gentile inclusion into the body. In regards to the gift of tongues in Acts – Jews were always present when this gift was given (even when it was manifested through Cornelius) – thus demonstrated the soon coming judgment upon unbelieving Israel was coming (cf. 1 Cor. 14:20-22).
Conclusion to Part 1:
The “restoration of all things” that occurred when Christ was revealed from heaven in AD 70 had to do with the turning of the hearts of Israel and the Gentile nations back to God. This was the Spirit empowered “mystery” that was taking place between AD 30 – AD 70. The “creation” (Greek kitisis) “groaning” and “about to” (Greek mello) to be liberated in (Romans 8:18-23 YLT) was the “creation” (Greek kitisis) Paul had preached the gospel to throughout the then known world (Cols. 1:5-6, 23). This was the creation of men, and had nothing to do with rocks, trees, bugs, slugs or squirrels longing for a day they wouldn’t get hit by cars.
Isaiah 65-66 and Revelation 21-22 do not describe a “perfect” and glorified physical creation as the “restoration of all things.” There is physical labor, death, child birth, sinners and evangelism being described in these New Creation passages. The Jew understood his land and temple to be “heaven and earth” and his land to be filled with the light of Tora. The unclean nations outside were in darkness needing to come to the city of light in order to convert and be declared a “new creation” by the Rabbis. This is how Revelation 21-22 ends. The New Jerusalem/New Creation is the Most Holy Place dwelling of God and filled with the light of the Gospel and the nations outside in darkness continue to flow to her for healing.
Having taken a look at Peter Son of JONAH’S role in restoring all things in the GC and Gentile inclusion of Acts 1-3 and Genesis 10-11; in Part 2 we will be examining how Peter develops the restoration and all things concerning the other two eschatological events:
- Genesis 1-3
- Genesis 6:1-4
Part 2 1-2 Peter and the Restoration of Genesis 1-3
We have been examining how the ancient Jew understood that three events needed to be restored, reversed, judged and or fulfilled by Messiah when he came: Genesis 1-3; Genesis 6:1-4 and Genesis 10-12. Adamic death needed to be overcome, the Watchers judged, and the nations brought back in through the Abrahamic covenant. In Part 1 of this series, we examined how Peter Son of JONAH in preaching the gospel to Jews from “every nation under heaven” in Acts 2 planted the seed that Paul would water — bringing the nations back into the fold of God (Acts 2:4-5 àCols. 1:5-6; Rms. 10:18; 16:25-26).
Our focus in Part 1 was to develop Acts 1-3; 9-11 and Peter’s eschatology in how the “restoration of all things” in Genesis 10-12/Deuteronomy 32:8-9 would be fulfilled at the Second Coming of Christ in AD 70. The curse of Babel and the table of nations was reversed through the GC of Acts 1:8 being fulfilled by AD 70.
Now I would like to examine Peter’s eschatology in 1-2 Peter and how the Adamic world of Genesis 1-3 and Israel was being restored and would fully be restored and transformed going at Christ’s “near” Parousia in AD 70.
1 Peter Chapter 1
All that we need to know about eschatology is laid out for us by the Apostle Peter in this first chapter and harmonizes with what Jesus taught Him concerning both HOW and WHEN the salvation the OT prophets predicted would be fulfilled:
Jesus and Peter
1). The OT prophets longed to know how and when the Messiah’s salvation would be fulfilled – something the disciples were being shown (Mt. 13:16-43).
1). The OT prophets longed to know how and when their predictions of the Messianic kingdom and salvation would be fulfilled (1 Pet. 1:10-11).
2). HOW – the salvation and kingdom was not to be physically seen but realized “within” the soul or spirit (Lk. 17:20-37).
2). HOW – The inheritance of the kingdom promises was to be realized within or a “salvation of the soul” (1 Pet. 1:9).
3). WHEN – The Second Coming of Jesus, His coming Kingdom and salvation would arrive within some of their lifetimes and within their generation (Mt. 10:8-9, 17-23; 16:27-28; 24:1-34; Lk. 21:27-32).
3). WHEN – The Second Coming of Jesus, His coming Kingdom and salvation was “ready to be revealed” to Peter’s contemporary audience and generation (1 Pet. 4-12; 4:5-7; Acts 2:20-40).
4). OT prophets predicted soteriological and eschatological events that would “all” be fulfilled in Jesus’ contemporary generation (Lk. 21:20-22).
4). OT prophets predicted soteriological and eschatological events not for their day and time but for Peter and the first century Church to see fulfilled (1 Pet. 1:4-12; 4:5-7, 17).
The Greek word here in 1:5 for “ready” is hetoimos and simply means, “…ready at hand.”
Peter tells the church that “salvation” was “ready” or “at hand” to be revealed for these first-century Christians and again points this out in 4:5-7. The phrase “in the last time” singular is a more imminent time statement than the “last times” plural in (v. 20). The first is communicating the idea of Christ’s Second Coming arriving on the last day, which would be found within the last days or “last times” period. The “last times,” is synonymous with Peter’s “last days” of Acts 2 and encompasses Jesus’ First and Second Comings through which He would accomplish salvation for His Church.
Within the immediate context, this imminent “salvation” and “inheritance” of (1:4) was about to be revealed at “the revelation of Jesus Christ” in (vss. 7, 13). This would be the “end” or goal of their salvation which was the “salvation you’re your souls” (v. 9). The Greek word here for “soul” is psuche and means,
“the breath of life,” “the seat of the feelings, desires, affections, aversions (our heart [cf. 1:22-25], soul etc.),” and or
“the soul as an essence which differs from the body and is not dissolved by death (distinguished from other parts of the body).” (Online Bible Software,Ibid., Greek English Online Bible Greek Lexicon, [cf.1:22-25 added])
While Peter confirms their spiritual birth and salvation, there is a subtle reminder of a coming judgment in verses 22-25. Peter quotes the coming reward and judgment of Isaiah 40 that both Jesus and John the Baptist predicted was imminently approaching (Mt. 3:7GNT, 10-12; Mt. 16:27-28 / Isa. 40:3-10). I would concur with Beale and Carson that the entire context of Isaiah 40 is in view,
“Almost certainly he expected them to pick up on all of Isa. 40, not just the two verses that he actually cites, and to detect the parallels in their own situation.” (G.K. BEALE and D.A. CARSON, COMMENTARY on the NEW TESTAMENT Use of the OLD TESTAMENT, (Grand Rapids, MI, Baker Academic, 2007), 1021)
As the covenant people may have had doubts that God would not keep His Word/promise to bring them out of the bondage of Babylon and back into their land – God would remove all obstacles to gather them again under Zerubbabel, Ezra and Nehemiah. His promise contained in His eternal Word could be trusted to accomplish what He said He would do. Yet, the gathering back in the land from the Babylon captivity was an OT type of the salvation and inheritance the Church was to receive at Christ’s imminent coming in AD 70. The persecuted church of Peter’s day needed to be reminded of the same – God was going to keep His Word/promise to return at the end of their OC age. Beale and Carson are correct to make these typological connections, but the anti-type promise of Christ’s visitation and inheritance would be fulfilled imminently at the end of the OC agein AD 70 and not our present age:
“If he is expecting his readers to bring the content of Isa. 40 along with the actual lines quoted, then the word preached to them is doubles the word promising the visitation by Yahweh…- manifested in the gospel itself… fulfilled at the end of the age.” (Ibid., 1022).
We will see at the beginning of chapter 2, Peter uses Psalm 34 in a similar way he has used Isaiah 40. And once in chapter 2, we will also take note of the imminent coming salvation and judgment that will be referenced in Isaiah 28; Ps. 118 and Isaiah 8.
Before leaving chapter 1, let’s look at a good commentary on the OT prophets searching diligently as to the time and way the Messiah would come and fulfill Israel’s kingdom promises and that they knew they were not predicting fulfillments for them but the NT authors day. Daniel, I believe is the best example of what Peter is referring to. Daniel fasted and prayed diligently to understand the timing and how his visions of the following would be fulfilled:
· The timing of the kingdom or when and how the stone cut without hands would be fulfilled.
· The coming of one like a Son of Man that came upon the clouds “as the Ancient of Days” (OG) LXX and the inheritance or entrance of the saints into the kingdom.
· The persecutions leading up to the inheritance of the kingdom.
· The desolation of Jerusalem and the Temple connected to the forgiveness of sin.
· The “time of the end” (not the end of time) and judgment and resurrection of the dead.
In Daniel 12 he is told to seal up the vision because the time of fulfillment for these things would be “far off” and he would not live to witness them. This and that all of these events were connected with the destruction and judgment upon Jerusalem and the Temple (Dan. 9:27; 12:7, 13).
Therefore, of all the OT prophets, Daniel is probably the most diligent in seeking clarification and given the clearest revelation concerning the time and way Messiah and His Kingdom would arrive and be fulfilled. He is also given the clearest revelation that he would not live to see the fulfillment of these events and that his prophecy would involve something “far off” (some 600 years). The inheritance of the kingdom and the Son of Man coming upon the clouds would be during the time of the fourth or Roman Empire. And that when Messiah came, the NATURE of His Kingdom would be different than the previous physical, earthly, theocratic and military kingdoms of the world. Thus, it would even be different than Israel’s earthly Old Covenant kingdom.
Thus, when Jesus came during the time of the Roman Empire identifying Himself as the “Son of Man” who would come upon the clouds of heaven with the Messianic Kingdom in the first century generation, they should have known He was the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecies. This and when Jesus described the spiritual nature of His kingdom to be realized “within” at His Parousia and was “not of this world,” (“cut without hands”) this too should have been clues (Lk. 17:20-37; Lk. 21:27-32; John 18:36). But it was predicted by Moses that when Israel’s “last days” “perverse and crooked generation” arrived her “end” would be “near” but the vast majority would not be able to “discern” it. Even Isaiah and Jeremiah predicted that the New Covenant Messianic Kingdom would be a “new thing” and “strange work” in their midst (Isa. 42:9; Isa. 43:18-21; Jer. 31:22; Isa. 28:21). It was “new” or “unfamiliar” because it would be spiritual in nature, and a “strange work” because in establishing it, He would judge the vast majority through the Roman armies — not delivering and establishing an earthly kingdom from the Roman Empire. Only the remnant would be able to look back at the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 and know that the coming of the Son of Man and the arrival of His Kingdom had “already come” (Mrk. 8:38—9:1).
To sum up chapter 1 – once again, we are faced with the reality that Scripture involves a salvation and redemptioninseparably connected with Christ’s first century returnthat involves the salvation and restoration of the soul, heart, mind, and conscience of man in the establishment of the Messianic Kingdom. This is how Israel’s promises concerning the restoration of all things was and were “ready” to be fulfilled by AD 70. This was the focus of the “restoration of all things” in John the Baptist’s ministry as well and the connection with the Great and Notable Day of the Lord. The “restoration of all things” has nothing to do with bodies flying off the planet and the globe undergoing a physical transformation at the end of time.
1 Peter Chapter 2
Here in chapter 2, Peter continues with the theme of HOW and WHEN the OT prophecies of the Messianic kingdom and its attended salvation and judgment would be fulfilled – or how Israel was being restored and transformed and would be at Christ’s “at hand” coming in AD 70.
But before dealing with those OT texts let’s see how Peter is possibly using his brief reference and echo of Psalm 34. In this Psalm David was being rejected as rightful king and alienated from the Promised Land being pursued in caves from Saul and spending his time amongst the Philistines. Perhaps Peter’s audience needed to be reminded that while David was temporarily rejected and persecuted, he experienced and tasted the Lord’s goodness and deliverance – with God ultimately fulfilling His Word/promise to him and making him King to reign in Jerusalem. Therefore, the Jewish Church needed to be reminded that just as David and Christ had been rejected and then vindicated and exalted in the kingdom promises pertaining to them, they too would experience a great entrance and inheritance of the Kingdom promises if they continued in the nourishment and tasting of the Word/promises God had given them. Thus Peter is using Psalm 34 in a similar way he referenced the context of Isaiah 40.
After giving an encouraging word that God will keep His promises by appealing to Isaiah 40 in chapter 1 and Psalm 34 here in chapter 2, Peter begins demonstrating HOW these OT kingdom promises were being fulfilled and restored. That is, the temple, priesthood and nation promises were to be spiritually fulfilled and not physically realized as they were under the Old Covenant. Christ is the spiritual “corner stone” (the stone cut without hands of Daniel 2) with Peter and the Church being spiritual “living stones” (2:4-5). The Church also functions as the spiritual “priesthood” and “nation” (2:5, 9). Again, this is the “new thing” or New Covenant Kingdom predicted by the prophets. Full Preterists are not “Gnostics” or somehow guilty of using a “hyper-spiritual hermeneutic,” – no, this is the hermeneutic of Jesus and the inspired NT authors in how Israel’s OT promises would be fulfilled and “restored” through Messiah.
Consider the following chart on how Israel’s OT promises were being fulfilled and restored to her from Old Covenant glory to New Covenant Glory and thus fully restored at Christ’s imminent Second Coming in AD 70:
Peter will also address and confirm the timing issue in this chapter when he discusses a first century judgment and fulfillment of the Messianic Stone passages. As previously noted in chapter 1 concerning the time and way the OT promises would be fulfilled, we will see great continuity on the timing of this judgment between Jesus and Peter.
2 Peter 2:6 / Isaiah 28
Of course, Isaiah 28 is part of “Isaiah’s Little Apocalypse” consisting of Isaiah 24-28 with the Jews considering this a “block” or eschatologically connected. Therefore, let’s briefly cover some parallels in how Peter and Jesus see how and when Isaiah 24-28 would be fulfilled and then we will break down specifically some of the other OT passages Peter is appealing to in 2 Peter 2.
1). Isaiah 24– In Isaiah 24, the “shaking” and de-creation is the result of Old Covenant Israel breaking the Mosaic Law. This doesn’t fit the modern eschatological paradigm.
Jesus– in Matthew 24 Jesus is bringing upon Old Covenant Israel:
· the covenant curses of Deuteronomy 28 and Leviticus 16 for rejecting Him as the fulfillment of the Law and Prophets.
· Therefore, that OC heavens and earth would pass away, but His words of the NC heavens and earth would never pass away or be forgotten.
· Thus, the OC has to still be binding and imposed in order for the de-creation of Matthew 24 to be fulfilled.
· Since the OC was still “passing away” and was “soon to vanish” in AD 70, this was the only time the de-creation of Matthew 24 was to be fulfilled and was within that contemporary generation.
· Jesus has also informed us that Isaiah’s “last days” “in that day” judgment whereby Messiah will establish His rule in Jerusalem was fulfilled in AD 70 (Lk. 23:30/Isa. 2:10-19/Isa. 24:19-23). And since Isaiah 24 recapitulates Isaiah 2’s “in that day,” judgment and salvation — both chapters were fulfilled at Christ’s “in that day” Second Coming in majesty and splendor upon OC Jerusalem in AD 70.
Peter– Confirms essentially the same covenantal and eschatological events:
· The de-creation and new creation of 2 Peter 3 and Isaiah 65 involves the presence of the OC curses as well (cf. Isa. 65:13-15).
· The passing of the Old Covenant “elements” or heavens and earth with the arrival of the new being a transition of the OC to the NC by AD 70. I will deal with this more once we get to 2 Peter 3, but there is covenant language being used when He says “…the former things will not be REMEMBERED, nor will they come to mind.”
· So, in order for the de-creation of Isaiah 24, Matthew 24 and 2 Peter 3 to be fulfilled, it has to be the result of Israel breaking her OC law and those curses coming upon her. Only between AD 30 – AD 70 was the OC Law of Moses still imposed and her curses upon Israel relevant. Thus, unless one wants to argue the Mosaic OC Law is still present and binding today for National Israel and the Church, these passages cannot be fulfilled post AD 70.
2). Isaiah 25– When OC Jerusalem is judged and becomes a “heap of rubble” the Messianic banquet and resurrection will be fulfilled (vss. 2, 6-9). Again, Israel’s “last days” “in that day” coming of God in the judgment of Isaiah 2 and 24 is recapitulated here in chapter 25.
Jesus– Taught the following:
· He predicted in Matthew 8:10-12; Matthew 22:1-14 and Matthew 24:1—25:1-13 that when He came upon the clouds to judge Jerusalem in His contemporary generation (by which “not one stone would be upon another” / “heap of rubble”), this would be the time He would send the Roman armies to burn Jerusalem and thus fulfill the wedding banquet and resurrection promises of Isaiah 25:6-9 for the New Covenant Kingdom people of God.
Peter – Essentially the same fulfillment can be deduced in Peter:
· While Peter does not specifically reference Isaiah 25 and or develop the eschatological marriage motif as much as Jesus and Paul does, when Peter is addressing the arrival of the New Creation of Isaiah 65-66 in 2 Peter 3 or the imminent judgment of the dead in 1 Peter 4:5-7 — we are to understand the arrival of the New Creation is the time of the judgment and resurrection of the dead and thus the fulfillment of the wedding banquet as well with all of these linked together for us by John in Revelation 19-22 at the “soon” Second Coming of Jesus in AD 70.
3). Isaiah 26– Describes the eschatological birth pains just be before the Second Coming and resurrection is fulfilled. This would also be the time when Israel’s sin of blood guilt would be judged, and thus the martyrs vindicated.
Jesus– In Matthew 23-25 Jesus connects:
· The judgment of the living and dead as being the time for vindicating the blood of the martyrs (as far back as Genesis and Abel) to be fulfilled.
· The eschatological birth pains of all the OT prophets to be fulfilled.
· The resurrection and or gathering of the elect at the end of the OC age to be fulfilled.
· ALL of these promises that can be found in the OT prophets to be fulfilled within His contemporary “this generation” thus linking Matthew 23 to chapters 24-25 (see also Lk. 21:22 – which would include the birth pains and resurrection of Isa. 26).
Peter– While no explicit reference to Isaiah 26 is made, Peter affirms the following and is in line with how and when these eschatological promises would be fulfilled:
· They were currently in the tribulation (1 Pet. 1:6-7 or period of eschatological birth pains) and therefore being tested just prior to Jesus’ imminent Second Coming — per Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 24.
· While OC unbelieving Israel could not give birth to a “people” or nation that included the Gentiles, Peter sees faith in Christ coming from the believing remnant Jews and the Gentiles forming the birth of the Israel of God or “nation” and “people” (1 Pet. 2:9).
· Since “THE judgment” of the living and dead was “near” (1 Pet. 4:5-7, 17) the judgment and resurrection of the dead as described in Isaiah 25-27 was thus near.
4). Isaiah 27– Describes the coming “in that day” judgment in which the following occurs: 1. “Leviathan the gliding serpent” is slain and judged, 2. the blossoming of Israel filling the world with fruit and the forgiveness of sin occurs, 3. the spiritual, corporate and covenantal killing and striking down of OC Israel – when he makes “Jerusalem desolate” and “all the altar stones to be like chalk stones crushed to pieces” is fulfilled, and lastly – 4. The eschatological trumpet and or resurrection gathering is accomplished.
Jesus– Jesus instructed the Apostles that the following would be fulfilled at the end of the OC age and within their contemporary “this generation” — per Matthew 24-25:
· Jerusalem and the Temple would be made desolate and thus not one stone of the Temple would be left upon another.
· OC fleshly Israel would be struck dead and she would be a corporate, covenantal and dead “carcass” for Rome to pick apart.
· Salvation and redemption would be achieved at this time.
· The trumpet gathering or resurrection.
· This would be when the judgment of the devil and angels occurred.
Peter– When Peter affirms that “the end of all things is at hand,” (1 Pet. 4:5-7) this refers to the following:
· Satan, the demons and the Watchers reserved in darkness and chains are finally judged.
· While Jesus describes OC Israel as a dead carcass never to rise again, and the passing of the “heavens and earth” to occur in His generation, I think it is proper to assume that a resurrection/glorification/restoration of a New Covenant Israel/Jerusalem along with a New Heavens and Earth emerges at this same time (as described by both Peter and John).
· This would be when the soteriological and eschatological “inheritance” of the “kingdom” and “salvation of the soul” was “ready” to be fulfilled.
5). Isaiah 28– Because Israel would not listen to their own prophets speaking their own language, she would perform and undergo the following: 1. be judged by a nation speaking a foreign language, 2. these Jewish “scoffers” mocked the prophets concerning their impending judgment, and 3. since the prediction was considered nonsense to these scoffers, they would be “injured” “snared” in a trap and thus “captured” and led away as slaves, 4. A precious corner stone is laid in Zion as a standard for just judgment, 5. God would come as He had at Mount Perazim and Gibdon, 6. This would be a “strange work,” 7. This judgment had be “decreed” and unalterable and lastly, 8. All of this would be the result of God’s wonderful counsel and wisdom.
Jesus – In Matthew 24 Jesus predicted virtually the same events would befall Jerusalem in AD 70:
· The Roman army was composed of all the nations of the world at that time when they “surrounded Jerusalem.” Therefore, it is possible the Jews heard foreign languages as they had when the Babylonians and Assyrians attacked them in the past.
· Jesus laid a “snare” or “trap” for the Jews by causing His Second Coming to take place during the feasts of Israel. Thus, Jews who were persecuting Christians throughout the Roman Empire were gathered in Jerusalem to be slaughtered. God gave them over to listen to the false prophets who predicted God was going to overthrow Rome and establish an earthly kingdom for fleshly Israel.
Peter– Specifically addresses:
· The Jewish “scoffers” of Isaiah 28 that were claiming Peter and the Apostles were making up myths concerning a “near” “this generation” coming of Christ in judgment (as Jesus apparently had as well) and that it simply was not going to happen. They mocked the promise as being “slow” as that generation was coming to a close.
· The fulfillment of Isaiah 28:16 here in 1 Peter 2:6 and the salvation and judgment context of Isaiah 28 in brings with it.
Psalm 118:22 / 1 Peter 2:7
Having seen how Peter was following Jesus’ teaching that all OT Scripture would be fulfilled by AD 70 (cf. Lk. 21:22/1 Pet. 1:4-12) and how this included “Isaiah’s Little Apocalypse,” we now turn to how Jesus and the Apostle Peter understood Psalm 118 to be fulfilled.
Psalm 118 The Song of Ascent– The Psalm depicts David being a type of Christ who was surrounded at times by the various nations in the area of Judea – that being Philistines, Moabites, Ammonites, Amalekites and Syrians. All of these at various times threatened David during times of rejection from even his own people. But God was gracious and gave David strength to overcome and subdue them all throughout his wilderness journeys and then during his 40 years reign.
But the Jews understood all the stone prophecies to have a deeper and Messianic meaning. So here our Lord is pictured as being surrounded by Herod, Pontius Pilate, the cruel Roman soldiers and the deepest rejection and hatred coming from His own brethren the Jews (cf. Acts 4:27; Ps. 22:12). But like David, the time of rejection would end and He would be exalted by God and rule over those enemies that refused to have Him rule over them.
Historical Song and Use– While the Psalm is addressing persecution, vindication, judgment and salvation, it was also sung on the walls of Jerusalem during their feasts as they welcomed the pilgrims into the gates of Jerusalem. They would sing to the pilgrims, “Blessed is he (the pilgrim) who comes in the name of the Lord. From (within the gates of the city) the house of the Lord (Temple area) we bless you.”
Let’s examine how Jesus uses Psalm 118 consistently as a judgment coming upon Jerusalem in AD 70 – first in Matthew 21 and then in Matthew 23. From there we will examine if Peter sees it’s fulfillment as the same event as His Master.
Matthew 21:33-45 / Psalm 118
In the parable of the vineyard and tenants, the vineyard is God’s Promised Land and the tenants the Jews or OC people of Israel living there in a conditional covenant that would eventually bring an “end” to that kingdom (cf. Deut. 28; Deut. 32). God cultivated Israel through the Law and they were to obey and be fruitful. The servants the owner sends to the vineyard are the Prophets of whom the tenants mistreat and kill. Then last of all the owner sends His Son (Jesus) who they also mistreat and kill.
The climax of the parable is centered around the question Jesus gives the chief priests and elders (who in context are challenging His authority) and the exchange between them in verses 40-45. Jesus asks them what should be done to the tenants that killed the owners servants and then lastly his son. They enthusiastically condemned themselves when they affirmed that they should be put to death and the vineyard rented out to other tenants who would give the owner his share of the crop at harvest time. It is at this point Jesus quotes Psalm 118:
“Jesus said to them, “have you never read in the Scriptures: “‘The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’”? Therefore, I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation (or people) who will produce its fruit. He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed. When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parables, they knew he was talking about them.”
There is no question that the parable is referring to God judging OC Israel in AD 70 and “taking the kingdom” from then and giving it (in its restored NC and spiritual form) to a “nation” or “people” bearing forth fruit. Even the Pharisees knew He was applying the well know Messianic Stone prophecy to Himself and that He would judge them for their rejection of Him.
There can very little doubt as to the identity of the “chosen people” and “holy nation” Peter is addressing in 1 Peter 2:9 after quoting the Messianic Stone passages in verses 6-8. He is interpreting Jesus’ use of Psalm 118 in Matthew 21:40-45 and identifying it to the NC Body of Christ – the Israel of God and New Jerusalem.
Matthew 23 / Psalm 118
“Look, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”
This is another text that Historic Premillennialists and Dispensationalists appeal to support some kind of mass conversion of Jews at Christ’s Second Coming sometime in our future. After Israel’s alleged re-gathering in 1948, the majority of “Israel” will be converted at the Second Coming allegedly saying, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”
First, Jesus’ phrase “For I tell you” or “verily, verily I say unto you,” is always a linking phrase of emphasis to drive home the point of His teaching that has just gone before. So, the “coming” of v. 39 begins with connecting what follows with the judgment in AD 70 – ie. when “your house/temple is left to you desolate” v. 38. Therefore, this is not some 2,000 and counting years “coming” of Christ that is designed to save the vast majority of Israel in our future.
Secondly, the exegete needs to examine the context of that OT text Jesus is quoting from and see what event He has identified with it elsewhere in His teachings. Jesus is quoting and applying Psalm 118:26 here in Matthew 23:39 to Him coming in judgment upon Jerusalem and her temple being laid desolate in AD 70. As we have just seen, this is just how Jesus has used Psalm 118 in Matthew 21:42-45.
Therefore, the burden of proof is upon the Premillennial Futurist to demonstrate Jesus is using Psalm 118 in a completely different way – i.e. referring to a 2,000+ years distant future for Jerusalem’s mass salvation, and not her imminent judgment in AD 70. Premillennialists despise what they call “replacement theology,” and yet when all the law and prophets were fulfilled by AD 70 (Lk. 21:20-22, 30-32), the OC kingdom was “taken” and “given” (replacement) to the Jew/Gentile Church in its spiritual/transformed/matured form. When the OC kingdom is “taken” from Israel after the flesh is when the OC “vanished” and the Jew/Gentile Church “Holy Nation” inherited the spiritual NC heavenly New Jerusalem/City (Heb. 8:13; 13:14YLT; 1 Pet. 2:9).
Thirdly, as I pointed out earlier, Psalm 118:26 was commonly known as “The Song of Ascent.” The Song of Ascent was supposed to be a song of joy and salvation that the Jews would sing on the walls of Jerusalem welcoming the pilgrims for her feast days. But God made Christ a Cornerstone or Rock by which Israel “stumbled” over in judgment producing a “strange work” (Isa. 28:21 – ie. God would come to judge them – and not their enemies).
Instead of being met and welcoming pilgrims for the feasts, they were met with and forced to welcome – God coming in judgment through the Roman armies (as God had “come” in the OT – through the Assyrians, Babylonians, etc…). That the Jews would not “discern what their end would be” was predicted in yet another song – the Song of Moses (Deut. 31-32). In that song it was predicted that in Israel’s last days a particular “perverse generation” would become “utterly corrupt” and their “end” would be “near” when it arrived. In Matthew 23-24 Jesus is telling them that they are this generation and their corruption had been “filled up.” Peter confirms they were living in the generation Moses predicted and therefore the “end” was “near” (Acts 2:40; 1 Pet. 4:5-7, 17).
In Jesus pointing out that He would come in judgment during a time they would sing the song of ascent during one of their feast days was functioning as a subtle signgiven to the disciples here in Matthew 23. Matthew 24 develops this SAME coming of Christ, to destroy the SAME temple, in the SAME terminal generation and expands the theme of the SIGNS for this event that was introduced in chapter 23. Jesus’ disposition is that of righteous anger and thus He is using irony in appealing to a song that was typically used of salvation and peace, to be a song sung welcoming her enemies for her judgment! The Jews were bottled up in Jerusalem in AD 66 – AD 70 deceiving themselves into thinking that God was going to save them from the Romans and usher in the kingdom in fulfillment of OT prophecies (the very mentality that Jesus warned about concerning the coming false prophets in Matthew 24).
Don Preston has correctly written the following on this important passage:
“Many commentators take note of the fact that Matthew 23:39 is a citation of Psalms 118:26. However, few take note of the historical significance of this fact. Toussaint is somewhat of an exception. He insists that Psalms 118, and thus, Matthew 23:39 are referent to the Second Coming. While we would agree in principle to this, we insist that there is a logical, contextual, and historical application of the Song of Ascent to the events of A.D. 70. Psalms 118 was called a Song of Ascent or a Song of Degrees. What this meant was that the Psalm was sung to pilgrims, by the inhabitants of Jerusalem, as the travelers approached the city of Jerusalem to observe one of the three sacred feast days of the Jewish Calendar. As Rawlinson says, it was “an antiphonal hymn, composed for joyful occasion, when there was to be a procession to the Temple, a welcoming of the procession by those inside, and the solemn offering of a sacrifice upon the altar there.” Manson says Psalms 118 was “a psalm which has connections with the great pilgrim feasts of Judaism, but especially the feast of Tabernacles.” Psalms 118 then, especially verse 26, was a song especially associated with the three great feast days of Israel. Let us very quickly refresh our minds about those feast days.
THE JEWISH FEASTS
The Jews had three major “pilgrimage” feasts. That is, these were the three times a year when every Jewish male that was of age was required by Mosaic mandate to travel to Jerusalem and worship the Lord (Exodus 23:17). Those feasts are sometimes called by different names, but they are generally known as Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. Passover is otherwise known as the Feast of Unleavened Bread. (Technically, the Feast of Unleavened Bread began on the day after Passover, but was so inextricably linked with it that the terms are sometimes used interchangeably). Pentecost is the Feast of First fruits, and the Feast of Tabernacles is also called the Feast of Booths, and the Feast of In-Gathering (Exodus, 23:14; Leviticus 23).
The Feast of Passover began the Jewish Calendar and lasted for seven days (Exodus 12; Leviticus 23:4-8). The Feast of Pentecost, or First fruits, was almost two months later (fifty days (Leviticus 23:15f). The seventh month of the Jewish Calendar was especially significant, since on the first day was the Feast of Trumpets. On the 10th day was the Day of Atonement, the most Holy Day in the year. On the 15th day was the beginning of the Feast of Tabernacles. This Feast actually lasted for 7 days (Leviticus 23:33f). The Jewish Calendar therefore, provided for a significant number of days to be dedicated to worship High Days. In all, counting the 49 day interim between Passover and Pentecost since normally that was almost considered as part of the Festival complex, the time involved in the Feasts involved two full months. What is the point to all of this?
Remember, it was Psalms 118 that was sung to the pilgrims as they approached the city of Jerusalem to observe these feasts. Thus on three different occasions, once at the beginning of the year, once almost two months later, and again in the seventh month Psalms 118:26 would reverberate throughout the streets of Jerusalem: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” Now let us make the connection with Matthew 23:39.
As already noted, there is little controversy among commentators that Jesus, in Matthew 23:29-38, predicted the judgment on Jerusalem in A.D. 70. But these same commentators, and of course Toussaint, believe that verse 39 strikes a dissonant cord to that message of doom, offering instead a “silver lining” to the dark cloud of pronounced judgment. He says that in this verse, “The Lord Jesus said Israel would not see Him again until that nation affirmed (in repentance, DKP), that He was the Messiah.” We believe this is in error.
Verse 39 was a statement of Jesus predicting the time of his coming in judgment against Israel. It is very clear that the point of Jesus’ statement in verse 39 is when he would come: “you will not see me again until you say.” Toussaint agrees with this assessment, and links this verse to a yet future conversion of the Jews at the end of the age, citing Romans 11:26f. But this ignores several facts.
First, Paul, in Romans 9:28, places the predicted salvation of Israel within an imminent time-frame, actually linking it to his personal ministry in 11:25, and 15:16f. This cannot be ignored.
Second, it also ignores the fact that Israel’s salvation would come at the time of Israel’s judgment. See Isaiah 2-4; 64-66; Zechariah 12-14, etc.. In other words, Israel would be saved by judgment, not from judgment. She would be saved by eschatological transformation, not national restoration.
Toussaint suggests that Zechariah 12-14 must speak of the time of Israel’s repentance and conversion. He emphasizes the fountain opened for taking away Israel’s sins, insisting that this must refer to her repentance and conversion. However, chapter 13 describes the judgment that would fall on her. It was a judgment that would destroy “two thirds of the people’ (13:8f). Further, chapter 14 very clearly posits the destruction of Jerusalem in the Day of the Lord. Third, it ignores the fact that the New Testament writers indisputably taught that they were living in the last days, in the end of the age (1 Corinthians 10:10-11; Hebrews 1:1; 9:26, 1 Peter 1:5-7, 18-20). It is a dubious hermeneutic that denies this and extends the last days for a period of two thousand years–so far!
But again, the point of Jesus’ prediction is the timing of his parousia. The purpose of his return in the context is judgment. When would he come in judgment? At the time when they would be singing the Song of Degrees (Psalms 118:26)! Jesus was saying he would return in the judgment he had just pronounced during one of the three Feast Days of Israel! Is this what really happened?
Anyone familiar at all with Josephus know this to be true. In the Works of Josephus, Book 6, chapter 9, paragraph 3, he says, “Now the number of those that were carried captive during this whole war was collected to be ninety-seven thousand; as was the number of those that perished during the whole siege eleven hundred thousand, the greater part of whom were indeed of the same nation (with the citizens of Jerusalem), but not belonging to the city itself; for they were come up from all the country to the feast of unleavened bread, and were on a sudden shut up by an army.” Thus, Josephus confirms that the siege of Jerusalem began at the time of one of the three major feast days, one of the distinctive times when Psalms 118:26 would be sung! Someone might object that such a prediction by Jesus isolating his coming to one of the feast days was tantamount to predicting “the day and the hour” of his coming. But such is not the case at all. In Matthew 24 Jesus predicted his coming in that generation, vs. 29-34. He even gave some signs, (v. 14-15), whereby, “when you see all these things then know that he is near even at the doors.” (ASV) They could know by these signs that his coming was near, “but of that day and hour knoweth no man” (v. 36). Knowing something is near, that it is even to be in your generation, does not tell you the day or the hour of its occurrence!
Considering the span of time involved in the feast days of the Jews it would hardly be possible for anyone to calculate the day or the hour of Jesus’ coming. After all literally months were spanned in these feasts, both at the first of the year and in the seventh month. If I were to tell you that I was going to come to your house next year for sure and that it would be at one of the national holidays, could you predict the specific day and hour I would arrive? Certainly not. Just so, when Jesus pronounced judgment against Israel in Matthew 23:29-38 and then somewhat enigmatically stated that this would occur on one of the occasions when they would be singing the Hallel Hymn of Psalms 118, he was not specifying the day and hour of his coming.
This view of Matthew 23:39 is consistent with the context. It prevents us from interjecting into the context some idea that has not been previously mentioned or hinted at, i.e. that national conversion of the Jewish nation. But, not only is this view consistent with the context, it becomes very significant for helping us understand the disciples’ question in Matthew 24.” (Don Preston, The Song of Ascent, http://fullpreterism.com/matthew-2339-the-song-of-ascent/)
Therefore, there is perfect consistency in how Psalm 118 is being used by Jesus in His eschatology. He would come upon the clouds of heaven as the chief cornerstone crushing the apostate OC Temple and those that had rejected, mistreated and put Him and His NT prophets to death.
Isaiah 8:14 / 1 Peter 2:8
We now return to 1 Peter and how Peter is going to use the third of the Messianic Stone passages.
Isaiah 8– The context is the judgment upon Israel and Judah through the invading army of Assyria sweeping them away in judgment and captivity. Isaiah and the believing remnant are exhorted to trust in “The Lord of Hosts” who will…
“…become Sanctuary and Stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many shall stumble on it. They shall fall and be broken; they shall be snared and taken.”
If they trusted in the “Lord of Hosts” as their “Sanctuary” (Temples were referred to as such) and “Rock” they will be safe, but if the people would not repent and believe in the Lord’s Word/promise of impending judgment, they will be crushed and swept away through the Assyrian army. The majority disbelieved and hoped for deliverance from men, and thus they were “snared” and “trapped.”
Peter’s application is certain– The Lord of Hosts coming as a rock of stumbling through the Assyrian judgment was a type of Jesus coming as the Lord of Hosts and a rock of stumbling to judge Israel one last time through the Roman armies. Those that trusted in His Words/promises would be safe – fleeing Jerusalem when they saw the sign of the armies surrounding the city and inheriting the NC spiritual kingdom at His Second Coming (Lk. 21:20-32; Lk. 17:20-37).
Those that did not trust in the Word/promise of imminent judgment and trusted in men (the false prophets and messiah’s) were “snared” and “trapped” within Jerusalem and destroyed from within and without.
A Chosen Race, a Royal Priesthood, a Holy Nation a People of His Own Possession– Here once again we see the kingdom being “given” to a “nation” or “people” in the restored, NC, spiritual or true fulfillment that Jesus was addressing in Matthew 21:43-45 that would bear fruit in the NC coming age. She was in the process of being transformed and restored but would completely reach her full maturity and glory when the OC kingdom was judged in AD 70 – closing the OC age.
Gentiles See Your Good Deeds and Glorify God on the Day of Visitation– The Second Coming (“Day of Visitation”) does not appear to be an instantaneous globe burning event. The increasing number of Christians were emptying the Jewish synagogues and pagan temples and thus they were charged slanderously of being evil from all sides so as to stunt their growth. Therefore, so much more reason to walk in holiness as their inheritance at the Second Coming of Jesus was “ready” and “near” to be fulfilled. But Peter wants them to be holy so as that during and immediately after the Second Coming in AD 70, the ungodly throughout the Roman Empire may witness God’s faithfulness and kindness to the Christians hearing of their deliverance and glorify God for what He had done for them. History records their flight to Pella and Jesus informs us that they were left on the earth having known that Christ and His kingdom had “already come” in the events of Jerusalem’s judgment in AD 70 (Mark 8:38–9:1).
The Synagogue of Satan (Jews claiming to be God’s children) were judged and thus forced to bow before Christ and the Church in acknowledgement that He kept His promise and vindicated His TRUE children and seed of Abraham – the Church. These confessions may not have been shouted from the roofs, but those that knew of Christ’s predictions in Matthew 24 and what Peter and the early church was preaching, was forced at least in their consciences to acknowledge God’s faithfulness to His Church and her deliverance — all the while being faithful to judge those that had crucified their Messiah and the prophets He sent to her.
Article still in progress….