House Divided Chapter Four The NT Time Texts Partial Preterist Keith A. Mathison Vs. Full Preterist Michael J. Sullivan Part 7 In Like Manner Acts 1:9-11

House Divided Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology A Preterist Response to

When Shall These Things Be?

  Chapter Four The Eschatological Madness of Mathison or How Can These Things Be?  Part 7 – In Like Manner Acts 1:9-11
Michael J. Sullivan Copyright 2009 and 2013 – All rights reserved.  No part of this book (or article) may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the publisher or author of this chapter/article (Vision Publishing or Michael J. Sullivan), except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. 
Like Manner  
Mathison argues: Jesus ascended visibly and bodily. Then He vanished from sight in a cloud (Acts 1:9). Acts 1:11 says that He will return in the same manner that He departed. This has not happened yet (184–188, 204). Therefore, Acts 1:11 is not yet fulfilled.
Response:   After speaking to His apostles about the kingdom over a period of forty days, Jesus told them to stay in Jerusalem and to wait for the fulfillment of the Father’s promise of the Holy Spirit, which Jesus said would take place “not many days from now.” This prompted the disciples to ask Him in verse six about the timing of the kingdom’s arrival. “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” Jesus did not give them a day or hour, but He reminded them in verse eight of the sign of the Great Commission which had to be accomplished before He would restore the kingdom to Israel (Acts 1:8; Matt. 24:3, 14). Mathison, ignoring the immediate context, states:
The first thing that must be observed when we examine this account is that no reference to time is connected with the prediction of the return of Christ. (185)
However, in another book Mathison #2 admits:
The time frame 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 implication is that Christ’s visible return will follow the completion of the mission to the remotest part of the earth.”[1]
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. Mathison’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. It is a position he is forced to take because of his flawed, partial preterist framework—like his doctrines of two “last days” in the New Testament, and of two future “comings” of Christ in the New Testament, and of his divided sections separated by 2000+ years in Matthew 24 and in Matthew 16:27–28 and in other Scriptures.
Mathison breaks again from the majority of Reformed, Evangelical, and preterist theologians, who see one Great Commission in the Gospels and in the book of Acts, instead of two. Mathison’s dichotomizing approach to the Great Commission does not merit a serious rebuttal and can be rejected out of hand.
Since the Second Coming is fulfilled after the Great Commission, and since there is only one Great Commission, and since the Great Commission was fulfilled in Christ’s generation, it follows that the Second Coming was fulfilled in those days as well. The gospel was preached to the world; “then” the end came (Matt. 24:14). The following chart proves that the Great Commission was fulfilled in the first century.

Prophecy

Fulfillment

“And this gospel of the kingdom shall bepreached in all the world [Greek ikumene] for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” (Matt. 24:14) “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)
“And the gospel must first be published among all nations.” [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) “…My gospel… has been made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures has been made known to all nations. . . .” [Greek ethnos] (Rom.16:25-26)
“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) “…of the gospel, which has come to you, as ithas also in all the world [Greek kosmos], as is bringing forth fruit. . . .” (Col. 1:5-6)
“And he said unto them ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.’” [Greek kitisis] (Mark 16:15) “ . . . 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)
“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) “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)
Prophecy had begun to be fulfilled: “Andthey 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) Prophecy would be fulfilled “shortly”: “AndI 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. 1:1; 14:6; cf. 10:6-7)  Satan was bound so that the Great Commission to the nations would be accomplished during the millennium (Rev. 20:3).

Therefore, I have proven that the in-like-manner Second Coming of Christ was also fulfilled in the first century.   After commanding His disciples to take possession of the kingdom through the Great Commission, Jesus ascended in a cloud, hidden from the disciples’ sight (Acts 1:9).
Mathison insists 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 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. 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).
Mathison errs when he says 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:
1. As they looked, He was taken up (Acts 1:9).
2. 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.”[2] It is a very real possibility that Jesus was instantly hidden in the cloud at the moment His feet left the earth.
3. 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).[3]  
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).[4]
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 same subject 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.[5]
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. 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”[6] that Christ returned on/in a cloud/clouds in that generation.



[1] Postmillennialism, 117 (emphasis added).
[2] From Age to Age, 459
[3] 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.” (See David Green’s response to Strimple Argument #11 in chapter seven of this book.)
[4] Keith A. Mathison, Postmillennialism: An Eschatology of Hope (Phillipsburg, NJ: 1999), 114
[5] Milton S. Terry, A Study of the Most Notable Revelations of God and of Christ (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 246-247.
[6] Milton S. Terry, Biblical Hermeneutic (Grand Rapids, MI:  Zondervan, 1990), 468, n.1 (emphases added).

House Divided Chapter Four The NT Time Texts Partial Preterist Keith A. Mathison Vs. Full Preterist Michael J. Sullivan Part 6 The Coming of the Son of Man

House Divided Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology A Preterist Response to

When Shall These Things Be?

 
Chapter Four
The Eschatological Madness of Mathison or How Can These Things Be? 
Part 6 – The Coming of the Son of Man  
Michael J. Sullivan
Copyright 2009 and 2013 – All rights reserved.  No part of this
book (or article) may be reproduced in any form without permission
in writing from the publisher or author of this chapter/article (Vision Publishing
or Michael J. Sullivan), except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical
articles or reviews.
 
 
The Coming of the Son of Man
 
On pages 181–182, Mathison offers this argument: Whenever Jesus referred
to “the coming of the Son of Man,” He “seems to have been alluding to
Daniel 7:13–14,” which refers not to the Second Coming but to His ascension
to the heavenly throne of God to receive His kingdom. “ . . . [T]he possibility
must be kept open that Jesus wasn’t referring to his Second Advent
at all when he used this language. He may have been referring instead to
his ascension to the throne of God, his receiving of his kingdom, and the
judgment on Jerusalem that would prove he had received the kingdom
and was who he claimed to be. . . . ” It may be that “Jesus had very little to
say about his actual second coming.”
 
Response:
 
Let us assume for the moment that the premises of Mathison’s argument
above are true. Let us grant for the sake of argument that Daniel 7:13–14
refers to the Ascension of Christ, and that Christ was somehow alluding
to Daniel’s reference to His Ascension whenever He spoke of His future
coming in AD 70. Even if these premises are true, they in no way prove
that the coming of Christ in AD 70 was not “His actual second coming.”
Whenever Jesus spoke of the future coming of “the Son of Man,”
He could have been referring, as Mathison said, “to his ascension to the
throne of God [in Daniel 7:13–14], his receiving of his kingdom, and the
judgment on Jerusalem that would prove he had received the kingdom
and was who he claimed to be”; and at the same time, it could be that
His coming in AD 70 was also “His actual second coming.”
 
Mathison’s interpretation does not create an either/or choice. It
does not conflict with the “hyper-preterist” framework. “Hyper-preterists”
can embrace Mathison’s interpretation, wrong though it is, and
remain “hyper-preterists.” Mathison’s argument therefore is moot.
Though there is no need to refute Mathison’s explanation of Daniel 7:13,
I will briefly offer three other possibilities:
 
The presentation of the Son of Man to the Ancient of Days in Daniel
7:13 is perhaps a reference to Christ in His Parousia delivering up the
kingdom (“the saints”) to the Father (“the Ancient of Days”) in AD 70.
 
Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom
to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all
rule and all authority and power. (1 Cor. 15:24)
 
Or, as David Green has suggested, perhaps “the Son of Man” in Daniel
7:13 signifies the Body of Christ (the saints, “the fullness of Christ”)
in His Parousia (Eph. 4:13). In this view, the universal church (“the New
Man,” “the Son of Man”) was presented to Christ (“the Ancient of Days”)
and united with Him in the end of the age, in His Parousia in AD 70 (2
Cor. 4:14; 11:2; Eph. 5:27; Col. 1:22, 28; Jude 1:24).
 
My preferred interpretation is similar to that of F.F. Bruce. According
to the Old Greek Septuagint translation of Daniel 7:13, the Son of
Man came “as the Ancient of Days” on the clouds of heaven, not “to the
Ancient of Days.” This translation is in harmony with verse 22, which
says that it was the Ancient of Days Himself who came in judgment and
gave the saints the kingdom.
 
Also, the New Testament does not give the slightest hint that “the coming
of the Son of Man” on the clouds of heaven would be fulfilled in the
Ascension. And as Keil and Delitzch commented regarding Daniel 7:13-14,
 
…it is manifest that he could only come from heaven to earth.
If the reverse is to be understood, then it ought to have been
so expressed, since the coming with the clouds of heaven in
opposition to the rising up of the beasts out of the sea very distinctly
indicates a coming down from heaven. The clouds are
the veil or the “chariot” on which God comes from heaven to
execute judgment against His enemies; cf. Ps. 18:10f., 97:2–4;
104:3, Isa. 19:1, Nah. 1:3. This passage forms the foundation
for the declaration of Christ regarding His future coming,
which is described after Dan. 7:13 as a coming of the Son of
man with, in, on the clouds of heaven; Matt. 24:30; 26:64; Mark
18:26; Rev. 1:7; 14:14.[1]
 
I would agree with Keil and Delitzch that the context of Dan. 7:13 and
how the NT develops it, forms the foundation for the Second Coming
event with Him coming down from heaven in judgment upon His enemies
(who are upon the earth rising in opposition to Him) and not Him
going “up” at the ascension event.
 
It is also important to point out that John in the book of Revelation
alludes to Dan. 7:9, 13 in his description of Christ as being both the Son
of Man who comes on the clouds to judge those whom had pierced Him
(first century Jews) and as the eternal Ancient of Days in Rev. 1:7, 13-17.
Again the context is developing Christ’s future “soon” (Rev. 1:1) Second
Coming not His ascension.
 
Matthew 16:27–28
 
For the Son of Man is about to come in the glory of His Father with
His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.
Assuredly, I say to you there are some standing here who shall not
taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.
 
Not surprisingly, Mathison is the only author in WSTTB who
touched upon this key prophecy, and he offered no exegesis of it. Instead,
he threw it to the wind of the various speculative, futuristic in-
terpretations. Let us now demonstrate that Matthew 16:27–28 (and its
parallels, Mark 8:38–9:1; Luke 9:26–27) cannot be divided into two different
events, according to the typical futurist approach. As we can see
from the chart below, Matthew 16:27 is united to Matthew 16:28. Both
verses speak of the same timeframe and event that Jesus spoke of in His
undivided Olivet Discourse.
 

Matthew 16:27-28 & Parallels

The Olivet Discourse

1. Christ comes in glory (Luke 9:26) 1. Christ comes in glory (Matt. 24:30)
2. Christ comes with angels (Matt. 16:27) 2. Christ comes with angels (Matt. 24:31)
3. Christ comes in judgment (Matt. 16:27) 3. Christ comes in judgment (Matt. 24:28-31;25:31-34) 
4. Christ and the kingdom come in power (Mark 8:38) 4. Christ and the kingdom come in power (Luke 21:27-32)
5. Some of the disciples would live (Matt. 16:28) 5. Some of the disciples would live (Luke 21:16-18)
6. Some of the disciples would die (Matt. 16:28) 6. Some of the disciples would die  (Luke 21:16)
7. Christ would be ashamed of some in His generation (Mark 8:38) 7. All of this would occur in His generation(Matt. 24:34) 

 
For the Son of Man is about to Come
 
Young’s Literal Translation (YLT), the Darby Bible, Wuest’s Expanded
Translation of the New Testament, and Weymouth’s New Testament in
Modern Speech all translate Jesus’ return here as “about to come” or “soon to
come.” These translations reflect the consistent usage of the Greek word mello
in Matthew’s gospel, and its predominant usage in the New Testament.
Christ’s imminent coming in verse 27 is consistent with Christ’s coming in
the lifetime of “some” in the crowd who were listening to him in verse 28.
After having waited thousands of years for the coming of the Messiah and
His kingdom, the span of forty years (AD 30–70) was a relatively short time.
 
Verily I say unto you
 
Jesus uses the term “verily,” “truly,” or “most assuredly” 99 times
in the gospels. The Greek word is “amen,” and it means “absolutely,”

really,” “may it be fulfilled.” It is never used to introduce a new subject.
Dispensational author and editor of another multi-authored book
seeking to refute preterism, Thomas Ice, says of Matthew 16:27 and 28
that these “are two separate predictions separated by the words ‘truly
I say to you.’”[2] But Mr. Ice fails to produce a single passage in which
Jesus’ phrase, “Verily I say unto you,” separates one subject from another.
To the contrary, the phrase always signals an amplification of the
previous thought.
 
Some standing here shall not taste of death until
 
Thomas Ice says of this verse: “A further problem with the preterist
view is that our Lord said, ‘some of those standing here . . . .’ It is clear
that the term ‘some’ would have to include at least two or more individuals.
. . . Peter notes that John only survived among the 12 disciples
till the destruction of Jerusalem” (Ice, Controversy, 88).
 
In other words, according to Ice, Jesus said that “some” would survive,
but the reality is that among His twelve disciples only John survived.
Ice’s argument would possibly have some validity if Jesus had
been speaking only to His twelve apostles; but He was not. According
to Mark’s account, “ . . . He called the crowd to him along with his disciples
and said . . . ” (Mk. 8:34–9:1). So much for Ice’s arguments.
 
Until they see the kingdom of God already come in power
 
According to Mark’s account, some of the disciples would not die until
they looked back on this event, knowing that the Lord and His kingdom
had come in power. (Literally, “until they see the kingdom of God having
come in power.”) According to Jesus, some of those who were listening to
Him that day would see His Parousia, look back on the event, and afterwards
die. Gentry concedes this point citing J.A. Alexander:
 
Here “come” is “not, as the English words may seem to mean, in
the act of coming (till they see it come), but actually or already
come, the only sense that can be put upon the perfect parti-ciple here
employed.”[3]
 
The Greek word here for “see” is eido. As with the English word,
eido not only refers to physical sight, it can also mean “perceive.”
Through observing with the physical senses, “some” of Jesus’ contemporary
audience would be able to look back on the destruction of the old covenant
kingdom’s temple and city in AD 70 and “perceive” that Christ’s kingdom
had arrived among and within them (Lk. 17:20–37; Col. 1:27; Jn. 14:2–3, 23, 29).



[1] Keil, C. F., & Delitzsch, F., Commentary on the Old Testament.
(Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2002), (Daniel 7:13-14), bold emphasis MJS.
[2] Tim LaHaye and Thomas Ice, The End Times Controversy: The Second
Coming Under Attack (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2003), 87.
[3] Kenneth L. Gentry Jr., He Shall Have Dominion (Tyler, TX: Institute
for Christian Economics, 1992), 215–216 (emphasis added).

House Divided Chapter Four The NT Time Texts Partial Preterist Keith A. Mathison Vs. Full Preterist Michael J. Sullivan Part 5 Prophetic Telescoping Two Different Comings in Matthew 24-25?

House Divided Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology A Preterist Response to

When Shall These Things Be?

 
Chapter Four
The Eschatological Madness of Mathison or How Can These Things Be? 
Part 5 – Prophetic Telescoping Two Comings in Matthew 24-25?
Michael J. Sullivan
Copyright 2009 and 2013 – All rights reserved.  No part of this
book (or article) may be reproduced in any form without permission
in writing from the publisher or author of this chapter/article (Vision Publishing
or Michael J. Sullivan), except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical
articles or reviews.

 
Prophetic Telescoping
 
On pages 167 and 180, Mathison presents the following argument:
Daniel 11:21–12:1 is one continuous prophecy. Verses 21–35 describe
the rule of Antiochus Epiphanes. The next verses, 11:36–12:1, describe
events that are unrelated to Antiochus Epiphanes. Yet there is no indication
of a subject change in the prophecy. Daniel thus prophesied events
that would be separated in time but he did not give any indication that
the two groups of events were to be so separated. It is possible that we
see similar “telescoping” in the Olivet Discourse. It could be that “Jesus
utilized the prophetic technique of telescoping two distant events into
one prophecy without much contextual indication of a change in subject.”
Matthew 24:34 could be a transitional verse. It could be that everything
before verse 35 occurred in Jesus’ generation (the great tribulation
and the destruction of Jerusalem) and that everything after verse 34
is yet to be fulfilled (the Second Coming and Last Judgment).


Response:
 
According to the two-section theory of interpreting the Olivet Discourse,
the coming of false christs and the revealing of the Son of Man as “in the
days of Noah” are two events that will take place at the end of world history
(in section two of the Olivet Discourse: Matt. 24:37–39). But this
causes a problem. Luke relates the events of the Olivet Discourse in a
slightly different order than Matthew, and he puts those two supposedly
end-of-world-history events in between the coming of the Son of Man “as
the lightning” (Lk. 17:24) and the fleeing of people from their housetops
and fields (Lk. 17:31). But those events are in the alleged “first section”
of the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24:17–19, 24). Luke thus has two “second section”
events (allegedly in the end of world history) sandwiched between
two “first-section” events that were fulfilled in the first century.
Luke was not aware of the theory of a “telescoped” Olivet Discourse.
We see this problem present itself again when Jesus prophesies that
one would be taken and one would be left. According to the two-section
theory, that event will take place at the end of world history (in section
two of the Olivet Discourse: Matt. 24:40–41). But Luke puts that event in
between the fleeing of people from their housetops and fields (Lk. 17:31)
and the vultures gathering at the corpse (Lk. 17:37). But those events are
in the alleged “first section” of the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24:17–18, 28)
and were fulfilled in the first century. Thus Luke again has a “second section”
event (allegedly in the end of world history) sandwiched between
two “first-section” events that were fulfilled in the first century.
 
According to the two-section theory, Luke 17:23–37 reads like this:
 
Lk. 17:23–24 (false christs; Son of Man as lightning in His day) AD 70
Lk. 17:26–30 (the days of Son of Man as the days of Noah) End of world history
Lk. 17:31–33 (people fleeing from housetops and fields) AD 70
Lk. 17:34–36 (one taken, one left) End of world history
Lk. 17:37 (vultures gathered at the corpse) AD 70
 
The absurdity that results in exegetically “ping-ponging” through
this text is most pronounced in the last four verses. In verses 34–36, Jesus
supposedly tells His disciples that at the end of world history, some
people will be “taken,” i.e., literally raptured into the clouds (Lk. 17:34–
36).[1] Then in verse 37, the disciples ask Him, “Where, Lord?” That
is, “Where will those people be taken?” According to the two-section
theory, Jesus answered His disciples’ question about the Rapture at the
end of world history by telling them about the corpses of Jews becoming
the food of vultures in AD 70.[2]
 
But, if it can be believed, the confusion deepens further still. In
his book, Postmillennialism: An Eschatology of Hope, Mathison actually
implies that Luke 17:20–37 was all fulfilled in AD 70. His argument in
that book is that we can know that Jesus was probably speaking of the
destruction of Jerusalem in Luke 18:7–8 partly because “in the preceding
chapter (Luke 17:20–37), he speaks of the coming destruction of
Jerusalem in A.D. 70.”[3]
 
Based on his argument in Postmillennialism, Mathison has it that
when Jesus prophesied that the judgment in the days of the Son of Man
would be as the judgment in the days of Noah, and when He prophesied
that some would be taken and others left, Jesus meant those prophecies
to refer to the destruction of Jerusalem in Luke 17 and simultaneously
meant them to refer to the end of world history in Matthew 24. Yet
Mathison says he believes that Matthew 24 and Luke 17 contain the
same subject matter (WSTTB, 176). How can these things be?
 
Mathison’s many contradictory exegeses result in mind-boggling
conundrums. But the word of God on this matter is clear enough.
Luke, in Luke 17:22–37, mixes the events of Matthew 24:17–28 (first
section) with the events of Matthew 24:37–41 (second section). In so
doing, Luke unifies Matthew 24:17–41, confirming it to be one prophecy
that would be fulfilled in one set of events in one generation. In
contrast, “two-section” theorists violently break the prophecy in pieces
to conform it to the futurist paradigm. There is no question that this
theory is unworkable and that Luke saw no “telescoping” in the Olivet
Discourse. Selah.
 
As a matter of fact, in Mathison’s latest book, From Age to Age, he
abandons his two-section view of the Olivet Discourse, finally conceding
that the prophecy was fulfilled in the first century. He is also more
consistent in that book in his preterist interpretation of “the coming
of the Son of Man.” He now sees every reference to the coming of the
Son of Man as referring to Christ’s Ascension/Coming in AD 70. This
includes Matthew 25:31—the prophecy of the sheep and goats. Not one
church father interpreted Matthew 25:31 as having been fulfilled in the
first century. But Mathison does.
 
Mathison disagrees with the unified testimony of the universal
church. How then can he continue to anathematize us for disagreeing
with the unified testimony of the universal church?[4] Furthermore,
Mathison is out of step with the church fathers, and with the Reformed
community, and with “hyper preterists,” all of whom “stand shoulder
to shoulder” in opposition to him on this point. We all agree with the
church fathers that the promises of the coming of the Son of Man refer
to Christ’s Second Coming, and that we cannot separate the coming of
the Son of Man from 1 Thessalonians 4 and 1 Corinthians 15.



[1] Though Mathison implies that this prophecy will be fulfilled at the
end of world history, he is silent in all of his books as to its meaning. We can
only surmise that he believes it refers to the futurist “Rapture.”
[2] “Jesus’ reference to the vultures in [Matt. 24:28] refers to Jeremiah
7:33. Again He is using Old Testament judgment imagery.” Keith A. Mathison,
Dispensationalism: Rightly Dividing the People of God? (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R
Publishing, 1995), 142
[3] Postmillennialism (213)
[4] Postmillennialism, 117 (emphasis added)

 

House Divided Chapter Four The NT Time Texts Partial Preterist Keith A. Mathison Vs. Full Preterist Michael J. Sullivan – "All Things" Fulfilled Luke 21:20-22

House Divided Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology A Preterist Response to

When Shall These Things Be?

Chapter Four
The Eschatological Madness of Mathison or How Can These Things Be? 
Part 4 – All Things Fulfilled Luke 21:20-22

Michael J. Sullivan

Copyright 2009 and 2013 – All rights reserved.  No part of this  book (or article) may be reproduced in any form without permission  in writing from the publisher or author of this chapter/article (Vision Publishing  or Michael J. Sullivan), except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.  

All Things Written 

In Luke 18:31, Jesus says that when He and His disciples go up to Jerusalem (in about AD 30), “all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished.” Mathison argues that since the Second Coming did not occur at that time, it follows that when Jesus says in Luke 21:22 that “all things written” will be fulfilled when Jerusalem is destroyed in AD 70, He is referring only to prophetic predictions that concerned the destruction of Jerusalem and not to all eschatological prophecy in general (172).

Response: 

Of course no one disagrees with Mathison’s observation that the context of Luke 18:31 limits Jesus’ phrase of “all things” to prophetic material pertaining to His passion.  But Mathison assumes what he needs to prove when he assumes that the context of Christ’s coming in Matthew 24 is only dealing with the fall of Jerusalem, and not His actual Second Coming connected to all eschatological prophecy in general.  Later we will see that Mathison is not in line with the creeds or the historic church when it comes to what the Olivet Discourse actually covers.

Gentry says that when Christ referred to the fulfillment of “all things written” in Luke 21:22, He was referring to Old Testament prophecies only, and that Christ therefore did not include the resurrection of all men and the Second Coming in the term “all things written.”[1]  But Gentry fails to understand that the resurrection of the dead was predicted in the Old Testament. The Apostle Paul, who taught the resurrection of the dead, taught “nothing but what the Prophets and Moses said was going to take place” (Acts 26:21–23). Paul stated specifically that the Old Testament predicted the resurrection of the dead (Acts 24:14–15; cf. Dan. 12:2-3; Isa. 25:8; Hosea 13:14). Therefore even if “all things written” in Luke 21:22 refers only to Old Testament prophecies, as Gentry says, it still includes the resurrection of the dead, and therefore literally “all things written.”

In the book of Revelation, it is said from beginning to the end (Rev. 1:1; 22:6–7, 10–12, 20) that the prophecies of the book would be fulfilled “shortly.” Those soon-to-be-fulfilled prophecies included the Second Coming, the resurrection of the living and the dead, the last judgment, and the new heavens and the new earth—in other words, literally “all things written.”

Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:11, tells his first-century audience, “Now all these things happened to them as examples [types], and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.” Jesus’ and Paul’s audience understood the phrase “this age” to be a reference to the old covenant age, and the “age to come” as a reference to the Messianic or new covenant age. They also understood that under the umbrella of the old covenant “age” (singular) there were various “ages” (plural), or covenants. The covenant that God made with David is an example of this. Thus when the old covenant agewas consummated, it was then that all of Israel’s “ages,” as contained in “the Law and the Prophets” (“all things written”), were consummated.

The fulfillment that has been wrought in Christ is no piecemeal fulfillment that has remained a “yes and no” fulfillment/non-fulfillment for 2,000 years, as futurists such as Mathison imagine. The Law of Moses does not remain “imposed” as it did between the Cross and the Parousia (Heb. 9:10, NASB). Rather, Christ returned and the old covenant vanished in His Presence forty years after His Cross (Heb. 8:13). If He did not return, and if the dead were not raised in Him, then the old covenant never vanished, and we are still in our sins. This is the inevitable implication of denying that literally “all things written” are fulfilled in Christ today.

A comparison of Daniel 12:1–2 with the Olivet Discourse proves that literally every eschatological prophecy in the Scriptures would be fulfilled in AD 70:
Daniel 12:1-12 Olivet Discourse

Daniel 12:1-2

Olivet Discourse

1. Tribulation and Abomination that causes Desolation (Dan. 12:1, 12) 1. Tribulation and Abomination that causes desolation (Matt. 24:15, 21; Lk. 21:20-23)
2. Judgment and Deliverance (Dan. 12:1) 2. Judgment and Deliverance (Lk. 21:18-22, 28; Matt. 24:13)
3. Resurrection (Dan. 12:2-3) 3. Resurrection (Matt. 13:40-43;24:30-31; Lk. 21:27-28)
4. The End (Dan. 12:4, 6, 8-9, 13) 4. The End (Matt. 24:13-14)
5. When would all this take place?“. . .when the power [The Law] ofthe holy people [Israel] has beencompletely shattered [the destructionof the city and the sanctuaryin AD 70], all these things[including the judgment andresurrection] shall be finished.”“But you, go your way till the end; for you shall rest, and will arise to your inheritance at the end of the days.” (Dan. 12:7, 13)
 
5. When would all this take place?“There shall not be left here onestone upon another, that shall notbe thrown down” [the destructionof the city and the sanctuary in AD70].” “Verily I say unto you, Thisgeneration shall not pass, till allthese things [judgment & resurrection]be fulfilled.”  (Matt. 24:1, 34)

Mathison believes that the majority of scholars “rightly understand” the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 as being a future biological resurrection of all believers.[2] But he has not explained how that resurrection can be separated from the first-century great tribulation, abomination of desolation, and destruction of Jerusalem in Daniel 12:1, 7, 11. Daniel 12:7 says that when the power of the holy people would be completely shattered (in AD 70), then “all these things would be finished” –not “some” of them.

Partial Preterist James Jordan now understands the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 (and Daniel’s personal resurrection in verse 13) as be-ing a spiritual and corporate resurrection that took place from Jesus’ earthly ministry to AD 70. Jordan actually sees this past resurrection as being the resurrection of Revelation 20:

“The death of the Church in the Great Tribulation, and her resurrection after that event, were the great proof that Jesus had accomplished the work He came to do. The fact that the Church exists today, nearly 2000 years after her death in the Great Tribulation, is the ongoing vindication of Jesus work.”[3]

“Revelation takes up where Daniel leaves off, and deals mostly with the Apostolic Age and the death and resurrection of the Church.”[4]

“What Daniel is promised is that after his rest in Abraham’s bosom, he will stand up with all God’s saints and join Michael on a throne in heaven, as described in Revelation 20, an event that came after the Great Tribulation and in the year AD 70.[5]

Mathison’s co-author Gentry has also finally come to the conclusion that the resurrection of Daniel 12:2 was fulfilled in AD 70:

“In Daniel 12:1-2 we find a passage that clearly speaks of the great tribulation in AD 70.”

“…But it also seems to speak of the resurrection occurring at that time…”

“Daniel appears to be presenting Israel as a grave site under God’s curse: Israel as a corporate body is in the “dust” (Da 12:2; cp. Ge 3:14, 19). In this he follows Ezekiel’s pattern in his vision of the dry bones, which represent Israel’s “death” in the Babylonian dispersion (Eze 37). In Daniel’s prophecy many will awaken, as it were, during the great tribulation to suffer the full fury of the divine wrath, while others will enjoy God’s grace in receiving everlasting life.”[6]

We commend Gentry for his recently developed full preterist exegesis of Daniel 12:1-3. However, it presents a problem for him. Gentry stated, in the same book, that the resurrection in the parable of the wheat and tares is not yet fulfilled.[7] Yet Jesus taught that Daniel 12:2-3 would be fulfilled at the same time as that parable.

Nevertheless, some of Gentry’s partial preterist colleagues have come to the conclusion that the parable of the wheat and tares was also fulfilled in AD 70. For example, Joel McDurmon (Gary North’s sonin-law, and Director of Research for Gary DeMar’s American Vision)[8]:

It is clear that Jesus did not have in mind the end of the world, nor did He mean the final judgment. Rather, Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 describe the judgment that would come upon unbelieving Jerusalem. During this time, the angels would “gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity” (13:41) and these would be judged with fire. Many of them literally were burned in fire during the destruction of Jerusalem.

During this same time, however, the elect of Christ—“the children of the kingdom” (v. 38)—will be harvested. While the explanation of the parable does not tell us their final end, the parable itself has the householder instructing the harvesters to “gather the wheat into my barn.” In other words, they are protected and saved by God.

This, of course, is exactly what happened to the Christians. Not only were they saved in soul, but they mostly fled Jerusalembefore the Roman siege. This was consequent to Jesus’ advice to flee and not look back once the signs arose (Matt. 24:16-22); indeed this would correspond with the angels’ work of harvesting the elect (24:30).[9]

Curiously, McDurmon does not mention that the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 is quoted by Jesus in Matthew 13:39-43. Partial preterists such as McDurmon also ignore the fact that Paul, in agreement with Daniel and Jesus, also taught that the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 was imminent in the first century:
having hope toward God, which they themselves also wait for, that there is about to be a rising again of the dead, both ofrighteous and unrighteous (Acts 24:15, YLT & WEY; cf. Matt. 13:39-43).

There is only one passage found in “the law and prophets” that explicitly speaks of a resurrection of believers and unbelievers, and that is Daniel 12:2-3. This is Paul’s source in Acts 24:15, as virtually any commentary or scholarly work agrees. As G. K. Beale and D. A. Carson wrote on Acts 24:15:

The resurrection of the righteous and the unrighteous is based on the prophecy of the end in Dan. 12:2-3, which indicates twogroups of people, some being raised to eternal life and others to eternal reproach and shame, and then refers to the “righteous” (Θ) or to “righteousness” (MT). Clearly this passage lies behind Paul’s statement, although the wording is different.[10]

Partial Preterists such as Gentry who admit the resurrection of Daniel 12:2 was fulfilled in AD 70 need to not only address the issue of this being Paul’s source for his resurrection doctrine in Acts 24:15, but other places in the NT. Again Beale points out in one of his most recent works, that Jesus is following the (OG) LXX of Daniel 12:1-2, 4 as His source for His teaching on “eternal life” and the coming resurrection “hour” (or “the hour of the end”) of both believers and unbelievers in (John 5:28-29).[11]

And clearly the books being opened in judgment and the resurrection of all in Daniel 12:1-2 is the judgment and resurrection of Revelation 20:5-15. Gentry at one point seeking to refute the Premillennial Dispensational theory of two resurrections cited Daniel 12:2/John 5:28-29/John 6:39-40/Acts 24:15 as evidence of “one resurrection and one judgment, which occur simultaneously at the end…”[12] We couldn’t agree more with Gentry #1 – that these texts are descriptive of “one” and the same resurrection and judgment which take place at the same time in history. And yet we also agree with Gentry #2 – Daniel 12:2 was fulfilled in AD 70.  Another question or challenge for partial preterists who see the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 as being fulfilled in AD 70 is this:

How many times must Daniel be raised unto, and receive, “eternal life?”

Daniel 12

1 Corinthians 15

1. Resurrection unto “eternal life”(v. 2) 1. Resurrection unto incorruptibility or immortality (vss. 52–53)
2. Time of the end (v. 4) 2. Then cometh the end (v. 24)
3. When the power of the holy people [Mosaic OC law] is completely shattered (v. 7) 3. When victory over “the [Mosaic OC] law” comes (v. 56)

 

To be fair and thorough I should point out a recent development in Gentry’s understanding of how the resurrection of Daniel 12:2 is fulfilled.  As we saw above, Gentry, in order to refute the two-resurrection theory of premillennial dispensationalism, claimed that the resurrection of this text is the one and same, yet-future resurrection as described by Jesus and Paul in John 5:28-29; John 6:39-40; and Acts 24:15 (and no doubt Revelation 20).Then later, Gentry changed his interpretation when responding to a full preterist (apparently realizing that he could no longer arbitrarily sever the resurrection of Daniel 12:2 from the firstcentury Great Tribulation in verse 1, and the first-century “time, times and half a time” and “shattering of the holy people” in verse 7). On Gentry’s Facebook wall, he wrote regarding Daniel 12:2 that it has nothing to do with a biological resurrection:

“Daniel 12 is not dealing with bodily resurrection but national resurrection (as does Eze 37). Dan 12 sees the ‘resurrection’ of Israel in the birth of the Christian Church, which is the New Israel.”

But later, following his lecture on the millennium at Criswell Bible College, Gentry gave a slightly different response.  After being challenged on how the New Testament develops the resurrection of Daniel 12:2 in Matthew 13:39–43; John 5:28-28; Acts 24:15 and specifically in Revelation 20:5–15, he responded by saying that Daniel 12:2 was typologically and spiritually fulfilled in AD 70 and that it will be anti-typically and ultimately fulfilled in a literal “bodily resurrection” at the end of world history.

Besides this not being taught by Daniel or any New Testament author, my question and challenge to Gentry’s new explanation of this passage is this:  If Gentry can give Daniel 12:2 two fulfillments (one in AD 70 and one in our future), then what is to stop the dispensationalist from saying something like this:
There may have been some kind of fulfillment of the Great Tribulation in an AD 66–70 (Dan. 12:1; Matt. 24:21) and in the “desolation” of Jerusalem and her temple in AD 70 (Dan. 9:27; Matt. 24:15), but those events were only typological fulfillments.  The ultimate fulfillments will be in our future when Israel rebuilds her temple.

Or why should Gentry oppose the amillennialist teaching that, while the Great Tribulation may have had some aspect of fulfillment in the events leading up to AD 70, we should not consider it as one historic event but an “already but not yet” process the church goes through until the end of history?

Gentry gives Daniel 12:2 two fulfillments but won’t allow dispensationalism or any other futurist system to do the same thing with the Great Tribulation, the three and a half years, or the Abomination of Desolation in Daniel 12 and Daniel 9:27. Jesus in Luke 21:20-22 and Matthew 13:3943 did not say that all Old Testament prophecy or the resurrection and glorification of Daniel 12:2–3 would be fulfilled in two totally different ways spanning thousands or millions of years from AD 70 to the end of world history.  He said that these things would all be fulfilled in His generation (“this generation”) at the end of the old covenant age.
The Transitive Property of Equality Principle (Since A=B & B=C, then A=C) As It Relates to Dan. 12:1-13 (A), Mat. 13:38-43 (B), and Mat. 24:3-36 & 25:31-41 (C)

                                                   Since A (Daniel 12)  = B (Matthew 13)
Tribulation on National Israel as Never Before Verse 1b Verses 40-42
Time-of-the-End / End-of-‘this’-Age Separation Verses 1c, 4a, 9b, 13b Verses 39b-41
Saints Rise and Shine in the Eternal Kingdom Verses 2a, 2b, 3 Verse 43
Wicked Rise to Shame in Eternal Condemnation Verses 2a, 2c Verses 39-42
Kingdom-Age Evangelism via God’s Shining Ones Verse 3 Verse 43

 

                                                          And B (Matthew 13) = C (Matthew 24-25)
Pre-Kingdom Evangelism by Jesus’ Disciples Verses 37-38 24:14
Tribulation on National Israel as Never Before Verses 40-42 24:21-22
End-of-‘this’-Age / End-of-the-Age Separation Verses 39b-43 24:3, 30-31; 25:31-41
The Sons of the Day / Hour Shine with the Son Verse 43a 24:27, 30-31, 36
Inheritance of and Entrance into the Kingdom Verse 43a 25:34

 

                                                      Then     A (Daniel 12)  =   C (Matthew 24-25)
Tribulation and Sanctification / Great Tribulation Verses 1b, 10 24:21-22
Time / Day / Hour of the Judgment (aka Separation) Verses 1-2, 4 (OG/LXX) 24:36; 25:31-33
Fulfilled at the Time-of-the-End / the End-of-the-Age / the End à viz. The Shattering of National Israel’s World—Her Heaven and Earth (i.e. the Temple, etc.) Verses 4a, 9b, 13b
Verse 7
24:3b, 13-14
24:1-8, 14, 28-29, 34-35
Inheritance of and Entrance into Eternal Kingdom-Life Verses 2b, 3a, 13b 25:34, 46
The Sons of the Day / Hour Shine with the Son Verse 3a 24:27, 36; 25:34
Kingdom-Age Evangelism via God’s Shining Ones Verse 3 25:29a

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

Daniel 12 (A)          = Matthew 13 (B)   =     Matthew 24-25 (C)
Kingdom-Age Evangelism = Kingdom-Age Evangelism = Kingdom-Age Evangelism
Tribulation Like Never Before = Tribulation Meted Out = Great Tribulation Unlike Before
Time of the End of Daniel’s People; End of the Age of National Israel = Time of the End of that Age To Befall Jesus’ Generation = Age of National Israel to End in the Fall of Its Temple & City
The Chosen Ones to Rise & Shine; The Wicked to Rise to Shame = The Righteous Ones to Rise & Shine; Tares Reaped to Burn = Sheep to Inherit Kingdom; Goats to Inherit Punishment

 


[1] Dominion, 542.
[2] Keith A. Mathison, WSTTB 160–161; From Age to Age: The Unfolding of
Eschatology (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2009), 281.
[3] James B. Jordan, THE HANDWRITING ON THE WALL A Commentary on the Book of Daniel, (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision, 2007), 620.
[4] Ibid., 621
[5] Ibid., 628
[6] Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. He Shall Have Dominion (Draper, VA: Apologetics Group Media, 2009 Third Edition), 538.  On Gentry’s Facebook page he answered my question on this text by writing, “Dan 12 is not dealing with bodily resurrection but national resurrection (as does Eze 37). Dan 12 sees the “resurrection” of Israel in the birth of the Christian Church, which is the New Israel.”  But when I challenged Gentry on how the NT develops the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3/Matt. 13:43/John 5:28-29/Acts 24:15/Rev. 20:5-15 at his Criswell lecture on the millennium, he changed his tune and is now claiming that the resurrection text of Dan. 12:2 has an AD 70 “type” fulfillment and an end of the history “bodily resurrection” fulfillment as well.  I told him that if he can do this with the resurrection of Dan. 12:2, then dispensationalists can double fulfill or have multiple types and anti-types fulfillments of prophetic material that Gentry says was only fulfilled in AD 70 – tribulation, abomination of desolation of a temple in Jerusalem, apostasy, etc…  Again partial preterists like Gentry and Mathison are arbitrary and inconsistent when they want something only fulfilled in AD 70 when debating futurists, but then want something fulfilled in the future when debating full preterists.
[7] Ibid., 235 n. 70, 243.
[8] Gary North, perhaps not knowing his own son-in-law’s position at the time, wrote in 2001: “Anyone who equates the fulfillment of [the parable of the wheat and tares] with A.D. 70 has broken with the historic faith of the church.”
http://www.preteristcosmos.com/garynorth-dualism.html
[9] Joel McDurmon, Jesus v. Jerusalem: A Commentary on Luke 9:51 –
20:26, Jesus’ Lawsuit Against Israel (Powder Springs, GA: The American Vision,
Inc., 2011), 48-49; see entire section 43-51. One of DeMar’s co-authors
Peter Leithart, has also conceded that the parable of the wheat and tares was
fulfilled in the first century: “Jesus has now come with His winnowing fork,
and before the end of the age, the wheat and tares will be separated. The end
of the age thus refers not to the final judgment but to the close of “this generation.”
Peter J. Leithart, The Promise of His Appearing: An Exposition of Second
Peter (Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 2004), 95.
[10] Beale, G. K., & Carson, D. A., Commentary on the New Testament use
of the Old Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI; Nottingham, UK: Baker Academic;
Apollos, 2007), 598.
[11] 30 G.K. Beale, A NEW TESTAMENT BIBLICAL THEOLOGY THE UNFOLDING
OF THE OLD TESTAMENT IN THE NEW (Grand Rapids, MI:
Baker Academic, 2011), 131-132. This creates a huge problem for Partial Preterists
such as Gentry who not only take the resurrection of Dan. 12:2 as fulfilled
in AD 70, but also takes the eschatological “not yet” “hour” of (John 4:21-
24) as fulfilled in AD 70 (as Full Preterists do). Why? Because according to
Mathison (WSTTB, 172-174) Jesus is using the same eschatological “already”
and “not yet” pattern of this coming “hour” in both John 4:21-24 – 5:25-29 and
thus are referring to the same period of time. Once again when we combine
what Beale, Gentry, and Mathison are saying here on these texts, they form
the Full Preterist view in that the “not yet” resurrection “hour” of Dan. 12:1-2/
John 5:28-29 was fulfilled in AD 70. For more on why John 5:28-29 is not a
description of a fleshly end of time resurrection see David Green’s response to
Dr. Strimple.
[12] Kenneth L. Gentry, THE GREATNESS OF THE GREAT COMMISSION
(Tyler TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1990), 142.

 

 

House Divided Chapter Four The NT Time Texts Partial Preterist Keith A. Mathison Vs. Full Preterist Michael J. Sullivan Part 3 Double Fulfillments

House Divided Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology A Preterist Response to

When Shall These Things Be?

 
Chapter Four
The Eschatological Madness of Mathison or How Can These Things Be? 
Part 3 – Double Fulfillments
Michael J. Sullivan
Copyright 2009 and 2013 – All rights reserved.  No part of this
book (or article) may be reproduced in any form without permission
in writing from the publisher or author of this chapter/article (Vision Publishing
or Michael J. Sullivan), except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical
articles or reviews.

 
In this chapter, I will answer objections that Dr. Keith Mathison raised
against preterism in his chapter in WSTTB. Mathison’s chapter was
entitled, “The Eschatological Time Texts of the New Testament.” His
objections included:
 
• Prophetic imminence in the Old Testament
• The futurity of the last days
Prophetic double fulfillment (Part 3)
• Prophetic “telescoping”
• Jesus’ “in-like-manner” return
• “The Rapture”
• The creation groaning
• The abolition of death, pain, mourning, and Satan
• The salvation of “all Israel” in Romans 11
• The “thousand years” of Revelation 20
 
Mathison raised other objections in his chapter but they are addressed
elsewhere in this book. At the conclusion of this chapter, I will
offer a critique of Mathison’s tenuous and fragmented approach to the
eschatological time texts of the New Testament.

 
Double Fulfillments
 
On page 168, Mathison observes that Daniel’s prophecy of “the abomination
of desolation” was double-fulfilled. It was first fulfilled in the desecration
of the temple by Antiochus Epiphanes in 168 BC. Then Jesus
spoke of its future fulfillment two hundred years later. The prophecy of
the birth of Immanuel was also double-fulfilled. It was first fulfilled in
Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz in Isaiah’s day. Then it was “ultimately fulfilled”
in the birth of Jesus many centuries later. Mathison’s conclusion: “New
Testament prophecies may also have multiple fulfillments,” first in AD 70
and then in the end of world history.
 
Response:
 
I think everyone agrees that many prophecies in the Old Testament
were typologically fulfilled and awaited full realization in the New Testament.
This phenomenon reflected the contrast between Old Testament
types and shadows, and the New Testament Anti-Type or Body,
i.e., Christ (Col. 2:17).
 
But this principle in no way implies or leads to the notion that New
Testament prophecies, which are fulfilled in Christ, will be fulfilled multiple
times over potentially millions of years of time. The fact that the
Old Testament was “typical” and “shadowy” in no way suggests that the
New Testament is of the same pre-Messianic character. The Cross of
Christ will not be fulfilled multiple times until the end of human history,
and neither will Christ’s Second Coming (Heb. 9:26–28).
 
Mathison’s co-author Ken Gentry teaches that the time texts of the
New Testament “demand” a fulfillment in AD 70, and that the theory
of “double fulfilling” Revelation, for example, is “pure theological assertion”
that has “no exegetical warrant.”[1] Another partial preterist colleague
of Mathison, Gary DeMar, rejects openness to the double fulfillment
theory in the Olivet Discourse:
 
Either the Olivet Discourse applies to a generation located
in the distant future from the time the gospel writers composed
the Olivet Discourse or to the generation to whom
Jesus was speaking; it can’t be a little bit of both. As we will
see, the interpretation of the Olivet Discourse in any of the
synoptic gospels does not allow for a mixed approach, a double
fulfillment, or even a future completion. Matthew 24:34
won’t allow for it.[2]
 
The New Testament is the revealing of the salvation promises contained
in the Old Testament, and those promises were to be realized and
found “in Christ” and in His Body the church (2 Cor. 1:20). Mathison
would have us believe that the New Testament is a further obscuring of
the meaning of kingdom prophecies (with more shadowy and typical fulfillments),
which will only become clear at the alleged end of the very age
that Christ died to establish, the age that Mathison—incredibly— calls
“evil” (188).
 
Mathison, while refuting Dispensationalism, writes, “We are no
longer under the old covenant.”[3] DeMar likewise teaches that the time
of the destruction of Jerusalem was “the end of the Old Covenant” and
“the consummation of the New Covenant.”[4]   But Mathison and DeMar
do not seem to realize what their teaching implies. If the old covenant
(“the Law”) is no more and the new covenant reached its consummation,
then according to Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:17–19, “the Law and
the Prophets” are fulfilled and “heaven and earth” passed away and we
now live in the new heavens and the new earth.
 
It irresistibly follows that if we are no longer under the old covenant,
it is because Christ’s Second Coming took place at the end of the
old covenant age and brought to consummation every “jot” and “tittle
of its promises (cf. Matt 5:18; Heb. 8:13, 9:26–28, 10:25–37). There is
no possibility of double-fulfilling or partial-fulfilling every jot and tittle
of the Law and the prophets.
 
Some of the best Reformed theologians have taught that “heaven
and earth” in Matthew 5:18 refers to the old covenant age which passed
away in AD 70. Reformed theologian John Brown:
 
But a person at all familiar with the phraseology of the Old
Testament Scriptures, knows that the dissolution of the Mosaic
economy, and the establishment of the Christian, is often
spoken of as the removing of the old earth and heavens, and the
creation of a new earth and new heavens.[5]
 
Evangelical theologian Crispin H.T. Fletcher-Louis agrees:
. . . [T]he principal reference of “heaven and earth” is the temple
centered cosmology of second-temple Judaism which included
the belief that the temple is heaven and earth in microcosm.
Mark 13[:31] and Matthew 5:18 refer then to the destruction of
the temple as a passing away of an old cosmology. . . .22
 
Mathison’s double-fulfillment-in-the-New-Testament theory opens
Pandora’s Box to double-fulfilling everything: The earthly ministry of
Christ, His sufferings, His death, His resurrection, His Ascension, His
pouring out of the Holy Spirit, and His Second Coming; even the allegedly
future millennium could be double-fulfilled. Even the casting of
Satan into the Lake of Fire could be double-fulfilled.
 
Every New Testament promise in the Bible becomes ultimately
uncertain in Mathison’s theory. The “Christ” of Christianity could
potentially be a type of a future, “actual” Christ (cf. WSTTB, 182,
n39). Therefore, unless we want to end up adopting a liberal, postmodern
approach to God’s word and turn all of His promises into
“yes and no,” Mathison’s double-fulfillment theory must be firmly and
finally rejected.
 



[1] Kenneth Gentry, Four Views on the Book of Revelation, ed. C. Marvin
Pate (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998), 43–44.
[2] Gary DeMar, The Olivet Discourse: The Test of Truth, http://www.
americanvision.org/blog/?p=190
[3] Keith A. Mathison, Dispensationalism: Rightly Dividing the People of
God? (Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P&R Publishing, 1995), 31.
[4] Gary DeMar, Last Days Madness: Obsession of the Modern Church
(Atlanta, GA: American Vision, 1999), 55.
[5] John Brown, Discourses and Sayings of Our Lord (Edinburg: The Banner
of Truth Trust, 1990 [1852]), 1:170.
 

House Divided Chapter Four The NT Time Texts Partial Preterist Keith A. Mathison Full Preterist Michael J. Sullivan Part 2 The Latter/Last Days

House Divided Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology A Preterist Response to

When Shall These Things Be?

Chapter Four
The Eschatological Madness of Mathison or How Can These Things Be? 
Part 2 – The Latter/Last Days
Michael J. Sullivan
Copyright 2009 and 2013 All rights reserved.  No part of this  book (or article) may be reproduced in any form without permission  in writing from the publisher or author of this chapter/article (Vision Publishing or Michael J. Sullivan), except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical  articles or reviews.
In this chapter, I will answer objections that Dr. Keith Mathison raised against preterism in his chapter in WSTTB. Mathison’s chapter was entitled, “The Eschatological Time Texts of the New Testament.” His objections included:
• Prophetic imminence in the Old Testament (see part 1)
The futurity of the last days (part 2)
• Prophetic double fulfillment
• Prophetic “telescoping”
• Jesus’ “in-like-manner” return
• “The Rapture”
• The creation groaning
• The abolition of death, pain, mourning, and Satan
• The salvation of “all Israel” in Romans 11
• The “thousand years” of Revelation 20
Mathison raised other objections in his chapter but they are addressed elsewhere in this book. At the conclusion of this chapter, I will offer a critique of Mathison’s tenuous and fragmented approach to the eschatological time texts of the New Testament. 
The Latter/Last Days 
Isaiah 2:2–4 speaks of “the latter days.” Mathison says that this passage “seems to point to something that even now has not been completely fulfilled.  There are still wars, for example, and all nations have not yet bowed the knee to the Lord” (167). Mathison adds that although it is true that “in some sense” the last days “were already present immediately after the first coming of Christ,” some New Testament texts such as 2 Timothy 3:1 and 2 Peter 3:3 imply that the last days “are still future [to us]” (189–190).
Response: 
In Isaiah 2:2–4 the prophet spoke of the time when Messiah would come and establish His mountain (Mount Zion), house, and city among Jews and Gentiles. As the New Testament reveals, this prophecy speaks of the spiritual peace that comes through the gospel, wherein Jew and Gentile are united in Christ into one spiritual nation and kingdom. Jesus said that His kingdom was “not of this world,” and the New Testament writers confirmed His teaching, telling believers that the kingdom they were receiving was not physical-literal, but spiritual (2 Cor. 6:16; Gal. 4; Heb. 9:24–27; 12:18ff.; 1 Peter 1:4–13).
In Luke 23:30, Jesus quoted Isaiah 2:10, 19 as prophesying the judgment that was to befall Jerusalem in AD 70. Virtually every futurist commentator agrees with this interpretation. The Apostle John referred to the same prophecy in reference to the same event (Rev. 6:15–17). Isaiah chapter 2 is intimately connected to the last days of old covenant Israel, not to the end of the planet or an alleged “end of time.”
Many within the Reformed community understand “the last days” in the New Testament to be referring to the end of the old covenant economy in AD 70. For instance, 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.[1]
David Chilton, before he converted to (full) preterism:
The Biblical expression Last Days properly refers to the period from the Advent of Christ until the destruction of Jerusalem inA.D. 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).[2]
And John Owen in his exposition of Hebrews 1:2:
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. . . . This phrase of speech is signally used in the Old Testament to denote the last days of the Judaical church.[3]
Mathison says that 2 Timothy 3:1 and 2 Peter 3:3 imply that the last days are still future. Let us see if that interpretation holds water.
But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come (2 Tim. 3:1).
In his book, Postmillennialism: An Eschatology of Hope, Mathison writes to futurists concerning this verse and its context:
The . . . “last days” . . . and similar phrases are often used to refer to the last days of the Jewish age (e.g., Heb. 1:2; 1Pet.1:20; 1John 2:18). . . . [This passage] speaks to a pastoral situation that Timothy was dealing with in his own day. It is not a prophecyof conditions at the end of the world.[4]
But five years later, in WSTTB, when debating “hyper preterists,” Mathison says that the very same last days prophecy (2 Tim. 3:1) will be fulfilled in our future:
. . . [Some] New Testament texts . . . seem to refer to “the last days” as something yet to come. Paul, for example, warns Timothy that “In the last days perilous times will come” (2 Tim. 3:1; cf. 1 Tim. 4:1). Peter warns his readers “that scoffers will come in the last days” (2 Peter 3:3). [Paul and Peter] say . . . that “the last days” will be the time in which something that is future will happen. The coming of “perilous times” and of “scoffers” is explicitly said to be future. The future times during which these things will come is called “the last days.” The implication is that “the last days” referred to in these texts are still future.
So while we are already in the last days, there is still some sense in which the last days can be considered future.[5]
But then yet another five years later, in his new book, From Age to Age, Mathison reverts to the biblical-preterist view that the last days in 2 Timothy 3:1 refer to the first century.
According to some, these verses refer to an apostasy to occur in the time immediately preceding the second coming of Jesus. There are at least three reasons, however, to doubt this conclusion.[6]
Who do we believe? The 1999 preterist Mathison (Postmillennialism) or the 2004 futurist Mathison (WSTTB) or the 2009 preterist Mathison (From Age to Age)? Are the last days in 2 Timothy 3:1 the last days of the “Jewish age,” as Mathison implies while defending partial preterist postmillennialism against other futurists? Or are the last days in 2 Timothy 3:1 the last days of a future end of world history, as Mathison implies while attempting to refute biblical preterism?
Mathison says “the last days” are past when he is refuting other futurists because he knows that if “the last days” are still future, then the growing and increasing apostasy which characterizes those “perilous times” are still present and future for us as well; and if this is the case, then there is nothing left to his “optimistic” and “successful” postmillennial “golden age” that will gradually blossom before Jesus allegedly comes back peacefully for His Second (Third) Coming in our future.
But Mathison does not concern himself with this implication of making “the last days” future when he refutes “hyper-preterists.” His only concern when dealing with us is to counter “hyper-preterism” at any cost, even, apparently, at the cost of his own doctrinal integrity.
Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts. (2 Peter 3:3)
The majority of futurist commentators, men such as Mathison’s coauthor Simon Kistemaker, are certain (as are we) that Peter’s “last days” involves at least one or two signs that Jesus spoke of in the Olivet Discourse, namely, false prophets and the apostasy (2 Peter 1:16; 2:1ff; cf. Matt. 24:3–5, 11, 23–26; 27–34). This fact leads us to an AD 70 fulfillment, not a future-to-us fulfillment.
The “mockers” and “ungodly men” of 2 Peter 3:3–7 are the “false teachers” of 2 Peter 2:1–3, whose destruction was imminent in Peter’s day. Partial preterist Peter Leithart writes of these false teachers and mockers:
Peter says explicitly that the destruction of false teachers is coming “soon.” Their destruction is the same event as the destruction of the present heavens and earth, the “day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men” (3:7). If the destruction of false teachers was near when Peter wrote, so also was the destruction of the heavens and earth and the coming of a new heavens and earth.[7]
Peter responds to mockers who doubt the promise of Jesus’ coming because time has passed without any sign of the Parousia.
If there were no time limit on the original prophecy, then the mockers would have no grounds for their mockery and no way to attract converts to their skeptical views. Therefore, the original prophecy must have included a time limit, a terminus ad quem, and that time limit must have been the lifetime of the apostles.16
Since these mockers were already present, it is illogical for Mathison to say that the perilous times of the last days will take place in our future (190). There is not one scintilla of evidence, whether explicit or implicit, for Mathison’s contention that “the future” for Peter and his audience is still “the future” for us.
According to Isaiah, the coming of the Lord and His righteous judgment of these scoffers would be likened to the Lord’s return in judgment upon the Philistines and the Amorites at Mount Perazim and the Valley of Gibeon (Isa. 28:21). These were not global judgments that burned the face of the planet or that disintegrated the elements of the periodic table.
Isaiah repeatedly tells us that there were to be “survivors” of this “Day of the Lord” even after the “earth”/“land” is burned with fire and the new creation takes its place (Isa. 1–5; 24–25; 65–66). This precludes the notion that Isaiah was speaking of a fiery destruction of the face of planet Earth and of the stars and planets.
The Law and the Prophets never predicted a literal torching of the planet. “The last days” were the last days before the judgment of apostate, old covenant Judah/Jerusalem and the “elements” (rudiments) of her world, and cannot be applied to an alleged ending of the eternal, new covenant age/world. There can be no “last days” of an age that has “no end” (Isa. 9:7; Eph. 3:21). There is therefore no 2000+ year extension or expansion of the “last days” into our future, as Mathison and other futurists theorize.



[1] DeMar, ibid., 38 (emphasis added). See also Joel McDurmon of American
Vision on 2 Timothy 2–3; Hebrews 9:6; 1 Peter 1:20; Acts 2:16–17 and Jude
17–18, (Joel McDurmon, Jesus v. Jerusalem A Commentary on Luke 9:51–20:26,
JESUS’ LAWSUIT AGAINST ISRAEL, (Powder Springs, GA: The American
Vision, Inc., 2011), 198–200.
[2] David Chilton, The Days of Vengeance: An Exposition of the Book of
Revelation (Ft. Worth: Dominion Press, 1987), 16, n35; 51.
[3] Owen, John, The Works of John Owen, Vol. 19, 12–13, Books For The
Ages, AGES Software Albany, OR, USA Version 1.0 © 2000.
[4] Postmillennialism, 215 (emphasis added)
[5] WSTTB, 189–190 (emphases added)
[6] Keith A. Mathison, From Age to Age: The Unfolding of Biblical Eschatology
(Philipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2009), 609
[7] Peter J. Leithart, The Promise of His Appearing: An Exposition of Second
Peter, (Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 2004), 67–68.
 
 

House Divided Chapter Four NT Time Texts Partial Preterist Keith A. Mathison Vs. Full Preterist Michael J. Sullivan in HD Part 1 O.T. Imminence

House Divided Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology A Preterist Response to

When Shall These Things Be?

 
Chapter Four
The Eschatological Madness of Mathison or How Can These Things Be? 
Part 1 – Prophetic Imminence in the Old Testament
Michael J. Sullivan
Copyright 2009 and 2013 All rights reserved.  No part of this
book (or article) may be reproduced in any form without permission
in writing from the publisher or author of this chapter/article (Vision Publishing
or Michael J. Sullivan), except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical
articles or reviews.

 
Old Testament Imminence
 
On page 165 of WSTTB, Mathison makes the following observations:
Isaiah said that the fall of Babylon was “near” about 170 years
before it fell (Isa. 13:22). Habakkuk spoke of the fall of Babylon
in terms of imminence (“it will not tarry”) about 70 years before
it fell (Hab. 2:3). And Haggai said that the coming of Christ
would happen in “a little while,” more than 520 years before it
happened. (Hag. 2:6–7; cf. Heb. 12:26–28)
 
Mathison infers from these observations that “the Old Testament
prophets regularly used terms implying ‘nearness’ to describe events
that did not occur for centuries”[1] (202) and that it is therefore possible
that the New Testament prophets used terms of imminence to predict
events (such as “the coming of the Lord”) that will be fulfilled potentially
millions of years from now (201–202).
 
Response:
 
Let us look at the first verse that Mathison cited:
 
Her fateful time also will soon come and her days will not be
prolonged. (Isa. 13:22b; cf. 13:6)
 
As we noted above, Mathison implied that the fulfillment of this
prophecy against Babylon was not literally “near”; that it would not
literally come “soon” after Isaiah wrote. However, three pages earlier,
Mathison had this to say about verse 10 of the same prophecy of Isaiah
against Babylon:
 
Isaiah . . . describes the judgment that will soon come upon
Babylon in very dramatic language: For the stars of heaven
and their constellations will not give their light; the sun will
be darkened in its going forth, and the moon will not cause its
 
The Eschatological Madness of Mathison 77
 
light to shine. (Isa. 13:10) (162, emphasis added)
When partial preterist Mathison is teaching other futurists that the
prophets used non-literal, de-creation language to describe nations being
judged, he says that the judgment of Babylon in Isaiah 13 was literally
near when Isaiah wrote. But when Mathison is arguing against
“hyper-preterists,” the literalness of the imminence in Isaiah 13 curiously
vanishes—and this in the space of three pages.
 
Mathison’s postmillennial partial preterist colleagues such as Gary
DeMar unequivocally teach that the imminence in Isaiah 13 was literal
imminence.
 
Isaiah 13:6 states that ‘the day of the Lord is near!,’ near for
those who first read the prophecy more than twenty-five hundred
years ago! Isaiah predicted that Babylon would be overthrown
by the Medes (13:17). Since the Medes did overthrow
Babylon, the use of “near” makes perfect literal sense.[2]
The commentators elaborate:
 
. . . her time . . . near—though one hundred seventy-four years
distant, yet Isaiah, who is supposed to be speaking to the Jews
as if now captives in Babylon. (Is. 14:1, 2)[3]
 
This was spoken about 174 years before the destruction of
Babylon. But we are to bear in mind that the prophet is to be
supposed to be speaking to the captive Jews “in” Babylon, and
speaking to them respecting their release (see Isaiah 14:1–2;
compare remarks on the Analysis of this chapter). Thus considered,
supposing the prophet to be addressing the Jews in captivity,
or ministering consolation to them, the time was near. Or
if we suppose him speaking as in his own time, the period when
 
78 House Divided
 
Babylon was to be destroyed was at no great distance.[4]
 
Whether we consider about 174 years (from Isaiah to the fall of
Babylon) to be a short period in the lifetime of a nation or we regard
the imminence to be projected into the timeframe of those who would
be taken captive into Babylon, the time texts in Isaiah 13 give a literal,
imminent meaning. Now let us look at the second verse Mathison
referenced.
 
For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall
speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will
surely come, it will not tarry. (Hab. 2:3)
 
The imminence in this verse is qualified imminence at best. The
portion that Mathison quoted, “it will not tarry,” simply means that
the event would come at the “appointed time.” Nevertheless, the fall of
Babylon came 70 years later. Again, in the lifetime of a nation 70 years
is a relatively short time.
 
Regarding Mathison’s reference to Haggai 2:6–7, I refer the reader
to Edward Hassertt’s response in this book to Richard Pratt’s chapter in
WSTTB. Edward demonstrates that Haggai’s prophecy was fulfilled, at
least typically, within Haggai’s own generation.
 
Mathison himself seems to have some sense of the weakness of his argument.
As we saw above, he has no use for his soon-could-mean-2000-
years argument when he is interacting with futurists. Here is another example
of this. When Mathison defends his preterist interpretation of Luke
18:8 against futurists, he uses the biblical, “hyper-preterist” argument:
 
In [Luke] 18:7, Christ assures His listeners that God will not delay
long in bringing about justice for His elect. It could reasonably
be argued that two thousand years is a long delay. In verse
8, Christ assures us that God will bring about justice speedily.
Again, this would seem to indicate a fulfillment within a short
amount of time.[5]
 
Interestingly, the Greek word that Jesus used for “speedily” in Luke
 
The Eschatological Madness of Mathison 79
 
18:8 is the same word that Paul used for “soon” in Romans 16:20: “And
the God of peace will soon [shortly, speedily] crush Satan under your
feet.” To use Mathison’s argument, “This would seem to indicate a fulfillment
within a short amount of time.”
 
It comes as no surprise that Mathison, in his first three eschatological
books (including WSTTB), avoided dealing with the crushing
(breaking in pieces) of Satan in Romans 16:20—even in his “impressively
thorough”[6] book on the millennium. It was not until Mathison
wrote his fourth book on eschatology (another supposedly “meticulously
comprehensive”[7] work), that he finally broke his silence on the verse.
But even there he only brushed past the verse ambiguously. In that
812-page book, Mathison has these words on Romans 16:20:
 
He tells those whom he is greeting that God “will soon crush Satan
under your feet” (v. 20). The destruction of Satan has begun,
but it will not be completed until the final judgment.[8]
 
As we know, Paul did not say that the process of crushing Satan
would soon begin. He said that Satan would soon be crushed. Mathison’s
error here is like that of Strimple’s, who says that Adam and Eve
did not actually die in the day that they ate of the fruit, but that they only
began to die in that day (WSTTB, 317). Such doctrines bear little resemblance
to Scripture, but are merely mechanisms employed to prop
up and maintain the erroneous tradition of futurism. But I digress.
As we are beginning to see and shall see even more clearly below,
it is not altogether rare for Mathison to offer two contradictory interpretations
of one Scripture, depending on who he is refuting. He is a
preterist (near means near) when interpreting a Scripture passage with
futurists, and a futurist (near means far) when interpreting the very
same Scripture passage with preterists. To our chagrin, we often find
ourselves confronted with two Keith Mathisons.
 
As for Mathison’s anti-preterist argument that near “regularly” or
 
80 House Divided
 
“sometimes” means far in the Bible, and that the Second Coming could
therefore be a million years away—it is a non sequitur. The fact that
the Old Testament prophets used language of imminence in reference
to timeframes that were short in comparison to the lifetime of a nation
in no way implies or suggests that the prophets used language of
imminence to predict events that will take place potentially a million
years from now. There is no reasonable connection between Mathison’s
premise and his extra-biblical conclusion.



[1] Mathison moderated this extravagant claim two pages later, changing
the word “regularly” to “sometimes”: “ . . . [T]he Old Testament prophets do
sometimes speak of an event as ‘near’ that we now know to have been fulfilled
many centuries later. . . ” (204). But even in this claim Mathison exaggerates.
According to the examples he gave, when he says “many centuries,” he means,
at most, two centuries.
[2] 2. Gary DeMar, Left Behind: Separating Fact from Fiction (Powder Springs,
GA: American Vision, 2009), 118–120.
[3] Jamieson, Robert ; Fausset, A. R.; Fausset, A. R. ; Brown, David ; Brown,
David: A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments
(Oak Harbor, WA : Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997), S. Is 13:22
[4] Barnes Commentary on the Old and New Testament: http://www.onlinebible.
net/notes.html.
 
[5] Postmillennialism, 213
[6] Kenneth Gentry, from the back cover of Keith Mathison’s book Postmillennialism:
An Eschatology of Hope
[7] Derek W. H. Thomas, from the back cover of Keith Mathison’s book
From Age to Age: The Unfolding of Biblical Eschatology
[8] Keith Mathison, From Age to Age: The Unfolding of Biblical Eschatology
(Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2009), 585
 

David Green Responds to Talbot-Jason on the WCF Q&A 85

Talbot-Jason has posted a superb example of the “full preterist presuppositions” that have increasingly emerged from within the church in history.
The Westminster Confession of Faith:
Q. 85. Death being the wages of sin, why are not the righteous delivered from death, seeing all their sins are forgiven in Christ?
A. The righteous shall be delivered from death itself at the last day, and even in death are delivered from the sting and curse of it; so that, although they die, yet it is out of God’s love, to free them perfectly from sin and misery, and to make them capable of further communion with Christ in glory, which they then enter upon.

My response:            

Note on the one hand:  We must wait for the end of human history (which the Confession calls “the last day”) before we can be “delivered from death.”
Yet on the other hand:  When saints die today, they are delivered from “the sting” and “curse” of death, and are perfectly freed from sin and misery in glory.
There are at least two problems here:           🙂
ONE:  If after believers die they are immediately delivered from the sting and curse of death, and are perfectly freed from sin and misery, then how are they in need of “deliverance” from death?  Hello.    🙂   “And the saints around the throne prayed, Lord please save us from this sting-less, curse-less,perfect freedom from sin and misery in glory’” (Revelation 23:13, The ‘Consistent’ Futurist Version).
TWO:  1 Corinthians 15:54-55 makes it crystal clear that “the sting of death” is NOT removed UNTIL the Resurrection of the Dead:  “So WHEN this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, THEN shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.  O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
Versus the WCF:
“The righteous . . in death [today] are delivered from the sting [of death].”

As one can see, there is a flat contradiction between the Westminster Confession’s full preterist presuppositions and its futurist exegesis.  The flawed eschatological exegesis of the post-apostolic church has said that the Resurrection of the Dead is yet future, while the church’s Spirit-presupposition has always, and increasingly, taught that the Resurrection of the Dead stands wholly consummated in the body of Christ today and forever.
Talbot-Jason:
Oh, we’ll receive a nasty blow alright, but Death will not hold us down for the count.
Jesus:
Whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die. Believest thou this?” (Jn. 11:26)
Talbotism’s unspoken answer:
“No.”
Talbot-Jason:
our enemy’s name is Hades
My response:
God crushed the enemy of the saints beneath the feet of the church about 2,000 years ago (Rom. 16:20; Rev. 3:9), the cardboard of Talbotism notwithstanding.
Talbot-Jason:
. . . i used to float around Florida and Tennessee with my big ole swollen head, . . . with my superior reasoning skills
My response:
Under Dr. Talbot’s tutelage, Talbot-Jason has indeed undergone a startling transformation:  He has gone from one who was puffed up wearing the badge of Full Preterism, to one who is puffed up wearing the badge of Historic Orthodoxy.
In the Talbotian error, only Jesus has attained to the fulness of the promise made to the fathers, while Jesus’ disciples in heaven (or in Hades, according to Talbot-Jason) remain in the diabolical grip of Corruption and Death, and will remain in that state of “groaning” until AD 1,000,000 (or whenever).  And yet at the same time, Jesus’ disciples in heaven have been “delivered from the sting and curse of death” and are “in perfect freedom from sin and misery” (WCF, quoted approvingly by Talbot-Jason).            🙂
And, while the saints are in heaven today, their spirits are not really separated from their physical bodies.  It only appears that way to the church.  Fortunately the church has Dr. Talbot to remove the veil of Illusion from the face of Death.  If it wasn’t for his insight, we would all think the saints in heaven today are living with Christ separate from their physical bodies.        :^)
Yes, it is hard to believe that Talbotism prides itself on its superior use of logic, and its avoidance of all theological paradox.       🙂        :^o        :^O
I would agree though that Talbotism is free of paradox.  It’s fraught with full on, universe-shattering Contradiction.