House Divided Chapter Four The NT Time Texts Partial Preterist Keith A. Mathison Vs. Full Preterist Michael J. Sullivan Part 10 No More Death, Tears and Pain Revelation 21

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? 
No More Death, Tears and Pain Revelation 21
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. 

Death, Tears, and Pain
Mathison and Kistemaker and all other futurists reason that because death, tears, mourning, crying, and pain still exist today, Revelation 21:4 must not be fulfilled (196–197, 203, 250–251).
Response:
In Revelation 21:4 (YLT) we read that “the death shall not be any more.” Every Reformed commentator agrees that this verse, along with 1 Corinthians 15:54–55, is describing a future-to-us end of “the death,” and that “the death” refers to the death that came through Adam in Genesis 2:17. The Douay-Rheims translation renders that verse: “But of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat. For in what day so ever thou shalt eat of it, thou shalt die the death.” The Good News Translation makes it clear when “the death” would take place: “. . . except the tree that gives knowledge of what is good and what is bad. You must not eat the fruit
of that tree; if you do, you will die the same day.
The death” that came through Adam the very day he sinned was spiritual and not biological. (See David Green’s discussion of this verse in his response to Strimple.) The abolition of biological death was never the purpose of Christ’s redemptive work.   In 1 Corinthians 15:55–57 (YLT) we read, “Where, O Death, thy sting? Where, O Hades, thy victory?’ And the sting of the death is the sin, and the power of the sin the law; and to God—thanks, to Him who is giving us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Whenever Paul uses the definite article “the” in front of “law,” he is referring to Israel’s old covenant Torah. As 1 Corinthians 15:57 indicates, the Law was not abolished at the cross; but it was “soon” to disappear, through the power of the Cross, at Christ’s Parousia in the end of the old covenant age (Heb. 8:13–10:37).
Because “the death” is spiritual death (alienation from God) realized through the commandment-breaker Adam and amplified or increased under the Law of Moses (the old covenant), we can see how God gave His elect the victory over “the death” in the end of the old covenant age of condemnation. The fact that men die physically is in no way evidence that the “spiritual conflict” of “the death” continues for the church throughout the new covenant age.
God’s people under the old covenant, unlike God’s people today, experienced covenantal and spiritual death (cf. Hosea 13:1–14; Isa. 25–27; Eze. 37). What made physical death dreaded for the saints under the old covenant was that they died with the awareness that their sins had not yet been taken away. In the new covenant creation, Jesus promises that whether we biologically die in Him or biologically live in Him, we “never die” (John 11:25–26). This was not the case before Christ.
Thus under the old covenant, the residents of Jerusalem wept because they did not have a lasting atonement or eternal redemption. They longed and groaned for the day of Messiah’s salvation. Until that day would come, they knew their sins were not put away (Heb. 9:26–28; 10:4, 11). The promise that there would be no more mourning or crying or pain does not refer to any and every kind of mourning, crying, and pain. It refers to mourning, crying, and pain concerning God’s people being dead in sin under the condemnation, curse, and slavery of God’s law. That sad Adamic state is no more. In the Son, God’s people are “free indeed” (Jn. 8:36).
As Athanasius wrote in his Festal Letters, iv. 3, “For when death reigned, ‘sitting down by the rivers of Babylon, we wept,’ and mourned, because we felt the bitterness of captivity; but now that death and the kingdom of the devil is abolished, everything is entirely filled with joy and gladness.”
Under the old covenant, when David or the nation was exiled from Zion and God’s city and temple, there was much inner pain, weeping, and bondage that followed (2 Sam. 15:30; Ps. 137; Isa. 14:3; Isa. 22:4–5; Jer. 9:1; 13:17; Jer. 22:9–10; Lam. 1:16; Joel 2:17). Under the new covenant, the heavenly country and Jerusalem are not subject to being made desolate or shaken by invading armies as was the old (Isa. 62:4; Heb. 12:27–28). The concept of the gates of the New Jerusalem always being open, even at night (Isa. 60:11; Rev. 21:25), is not merely a picture of evangelism; it is also a picture of security for the residents of God’s City. The believer, through faith in Christ, is the new covenant creation and it is impossible for him to be exiled from the City (2 Cor. 5:17; Rev. 3:12; 22:12). The new covenant believer is characterized as one whose weeping has ended, because God has forever taken away his sin and united Himself with him (Isa. 60:20; 65:14, 18–19; Jn. 17:21–23).
Christians in the new covenant world do not shed tears in agony and cry out to God to save them from the Adamic Death of Sin, as Jesus Himself did on our behalf (Heb. 5:7). “The sting [pain] of the Death” cannot harm us anymore (1 Cor. 15:56) because the power of Sin has been removed through Jesus, the Law-Fulfiller who clothes us and indwells us. Now we live and reign with Christ in the new covenant world, wherein dwells the Righteousness of God.
It is again noteworthy that Mathison avoids any mention of Paul’s declaration that Satan would be “crushed” “shortly” (Rom. 16:20) in his work on Postmillennialism and in his chapter addressing the time texts in WSTTB. The reason for this is that the majority consensus among all brands of commentators is that the “crushing” of Satan in Romans 16:20 is a direct reference to the final “crushing” of Satan as predicted in Genesis 3:15 and Revelation 20. Manifestly, the judgment and wrath that came in AD 70 was not merely “a” “minor” judgment. It was “the” judgment. It was the crushing of Satan.
But Kistemaker and Mathison would challenge us with the empirical reality that Death and Satan could not have met their ultimate demise in AD 70 because, after all, just look around and you will clearly see that people still physically die and that there are wars and murders taking place all over the world today. Are these clear evidence that Satan and his demonic hordes are active in our world?
There were certainly times that Satan moved men, such as Judas, to commit sins. But the Bible does not teach us that this was ever the norm. James tells us that wars and fights come from within men (Jms. 4:1) instead of from Satan and demons. Satan’s primary purpose has come to an end: He can no longer function as the accuser of the brethren (Rev. 12:10), because Christ came out of Zion a second time at the end of the old covenant age to put away Sin once and for all for His church (Acts 20:28; Rom. 11:26–27; 13:11–12; Heb. 9:26–28).
*** It has now been 4 years since I have responded to Keith A. Mathison’s chapter The Eschatological Time Texts in the NT” in our book House Divided Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology A Preterist Response to When Shall These Things Be?  For me Mathison’s excuse for not responding (“I have been too busy”) has expired.
Partial Preterist Mr. Gary North, has said that if one side of the debate ceases to respond to the others arguments then the one who has responded last (thus silencing the other) in essence has won the debate (my paraphrase).   He has also written of dispensational scholars and their inability to keep up with postmillennial works and critiques, “Like a former athlete who dies of a heart attack at age 52 from obesity and lack of exercise, so did dispensational theology depart from this earthly veil of tears.  Dispensational theologians got out of shape, and were totally unprepared for the killer marathon of 1988.” (Greg L. Bahnsen, Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., HOUSE DIVIDED THE BREAK-UPOF DISPENSATIONAL THEOLOGY (Tyler, TX:  Institute for Christian Economics, 1989), Publishers Foreword, xx.).  In the same book DeMar claims that “Any theological position divided against itself is laid waste” and “shall not stand” and is guilty of “Theological Schizophrenia” (Ibid. 349-350).  Apparently Mr. Mathison was not prepared for the killer marathon of 2009 and since that time has been too busy engorging himself from the profits P&R provided him and is simply too scared and out of shape to open our book let alone read and respond to my critique and response to him?  And we document the “House Divided” “Theological Schizophrenia” and contradictory approach Reformed eschatology has sought to use against us let alone the contradictions (and yet at the same time progressive views moving towards Full Preterism) that are within Mathison’s writings alone.
Therefore, I have decided to post my chapter response to his online (in small parts) in hopes that both the Futurist and the Full Preterist communities will contact him for an official response.  If no response continues to come, then I will allow him to be judged by the same standard that his own postmillennial partial preterist colleagues have set up, and accept that he is unable to respond and has lost our debate.

House Divided Chapter Four The NT Time Texts Partial Preterist Keith A. Mathison Vs. Full Preterist Michael J. Sullivan The Imminent Liberation of Creation Romans 8:18-23

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? 
The Imminent Liberation of Creation Romans 8:18-23

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 Creation Groaning

On pages 196–197, Mathison makes the following argument: The epistles of the New Testament speak of the restoration of creation both as something that has already begun and as something that will be completed only in the future. Paul, for example, explains that “the form of this world is passing away” (1 Cor. 7:31; cf. 1 Jn. 2:17). Yet, according to Paul, the creation awaits its full deliverance from the effects of sin. . . (Rom. 8:19–25). The full restoration of creation is still future (see Heb. 2:8; 2 Pet. 3:7–13). . . . [R]edemption has to do with more than the spiritual side of creation. God will fully redeem the physical creation as well. Response:  

For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. (Rom. 8:19–22)

John Lightfoot associated the “earnest expectation of the creature”and the “whole creation groaning” with the mind and heart of man, and interpreted this passage as having nothing to do with the planet Earth— not even poetically.

. . . [T]his vanity [or futility] is improperly applied to this vanishing, changeable, dying state of the [physical] creation. For vanity, doth not so much denote the vanishing condition of the outward state, as it doth the inward vanity and emptiness of the mind. The Romans to whom this apostle writes, knew well enough how many and how great predictions and promises it had pleased God to publish by his prophets, concerning gathering together and adopting sons to himself among the Gentiles: the manifestation and production of which sons, the whole Gentile world doth now wait for, as it were, with an out stretched neck.[1]

And again,

The Gentile world shall in time be delivered from the bondage of their sinful corruption, that is, the bondage of their lusts and vile affections, (under which it hath lain for so long a time,) into a noble liberty, such as the sons of God enjoy. If it be inquired how the Gentile world groaned and travailed in pain, let them who expound this of the fabric of the material world tell us how that groaneth and travaileth. They must needs own it to be a borrowed and allusive phrase. But in the sense which we have pitched upon, the very literal construction may be admitted.[2]

Lightfoot is on solid ground here citing 2 Peter 1:4; 2 Corinthians 11:3; and 1 Corinthians 15:33. Not only is there lexical evidence to interpret “vanity,” “corruption,” and “decay” as ethical and moral putrefaction in the heart and mind of man, but contextually the passage has nothing to do with hydrogen or oxygen or squirrels longing for a better day when they won’t get hit by cars.

John Lightfoot not only interpreted the “creation” of Romans 8 to be the creation of men and NOT the physical planet, but he understood the “redemption of the body” to not be a resurrection of physical bodies, but rather, the “mystical body” of the Church.  In his sermon on “Many Mansions” Lightfoot states,

“And of the same body, is his meaning in that obscure and much-mistaken place (Rom. viii.23; “And not only they,” i.e. ‘the whole creation,’ or πασα κτισις, ‘every creature,’ which means no other thing, thatn ‘the Gentile or heathen world;’ “not only they groan to come into the evangelical liberty of the children of God,–but we, also, of the Jewish nation, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, groan within ourselves, waiting for the redemption,–to wit, the adoption of our body:” we wait for the redeeming and adopting of the Gentiles, to make up our mystical body.” (cf. https://biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/lightfoot/vol06.pdf… pp. 322-323).

Clearly Lightfoot understood the “creation” to mean the creation of men and not the planet earth and “redemption of the body” to be the mystical body of the Jew/Gentile Church and not an individual physical body.

“The sufferings of this present time.” As much as I can relate to R.C. Sproul Jr. losing his hair and gaining some weight around his midsection (WSTTB, ix), Paul’s mention of the “sufferings” and “the redemption of the body” have nothing to do with those kinds of issues. The context of the “groaning” of the first-century Christians can be found in the previous chapter. The sufferings Paul has in mind here were eschatological —the birth pains that were to precede Christ’s return in AD 70 (Matt. 24:8; Rom. 8:22). They had to do with the last days persecutions and with the saints of the universal church groaning under the tyranny of Sin and Condemnation under the Law.

For Paul, Sin had produced “death,” but not physical death. Contrary to Mathison’s assertions, “the body,” “death,” and “the flesh” in Romans 5–8 have nothing to do with the idea of men biologically dying as a result of Adam’s sin. Paul’s concern is with corporate-covenantal Death, as even some Reformed theologians teach.[3]   “Bondage,” according to the immediate context, had to do with groaning under the condemnation of the Law (cf. Rom. 7:2, 7, 15).

The “redemption” associated with the coming of the Son of Man in AD 70 entailed much more than a physical flight to the wilderness of Pella, as some commentators have proposed. Appealing to the principle of the analogy of Scripture, John Murray and other Reformed theologians understand Paul in Romans 8 to be speaking of the same “redemption” that Jesus discussed in the Olivet Discourse:
Now in Luke 21:28 . . . [t]his word ‘redemption’ (apolutrosin), when used with reference to the future, has a distinctly eschatological connotation, the final redemption, the consummation of the redemptive process (cf. Rom. 8:23; 1 Cor. 1:30; Eph. 1:14; 4:30). Hence analogy would again point to the eschatological complex of events.[4]

The following chart confirms that the “redemption” of Christ’s disciples in the first century in Luke 21:28 was the redemption of “the body” in Romans 8:18–23:

Romans 8 Olivet Discourse & Luke 17
Present sufferings (Rom. 8:17–18) Suffering to come (Matt. 24:9)
Receive and share in Christ’s glory (Rom. 8:17–18) Christ comes in glory (Matt. 24:30)
Glory will be “in” them (Rom. 8:18) Kingdom will be realized “within”at Christ’s return (Lk.17:21–37; 21:27–32)
Redemption and salvation – resurrection (Rom. 8:23–24; cf. 11:15–27; 13:11–12) Redemption and salvation – resurrection(Lk. 21:27–28; Matt. 24:13, 30–31/Matt. 13:39-43)
Birth pains together (Rom. 8:22) Birth pains of the tribulation (Matt. 24:8)
This was “about to” take place (Rom. 8:18) This would all happen in “this generation”(Matt. 24:34)

On page 200 of WSTTB, Mathison expresses willingness to concede that the imminence in Romans 13:11–12 was fulfilled in AD 70. The passage reads:

. . . it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is at hand. . . .

But The Reformation Study Bible, of which Mathison is an editor, harmonizes Romans 13:11 with Romans 8:23, correctly teaching that “salvation” in that verse is not merely deliverance from persecution (as Mathison theorizes in WSTTB): “salvation. Here in the sense of future, final redemption (8:23).”[1] The connection between these two passages is made even stronger when we allow the Greek word mello in

Romans 8 to be translated the way it is predominately used in the New Testament: For I reckon that the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory about to be revealed in us. (Rom. 8:18, YLT)

It is more than arbitrary for partial preterists such as Gentry to honor Young’s literal translation of mello in Revelation 1:19 when debating Dispensationalists and Amimmennialists, but then not honor it in Romans 8:18 when debating full preterists. Mello is used in the aorist infinitive in both verses. Gentry writes of mello in Revelation 1:19:

…this term means “be on the point of, be about to.” …According to Young’s Literal Translation of the Bible, Revelation 1:19 reads: “Write the things that thou hast seen, and the things that are, and the things that are about to come [mello] after these things.” The leading interlinear versions of the New Testament concur. This is surely the proper translation of the verse.[2]   …when used with the aorist infinitive — as in Revelation 1:19 — the word’s preponderate usage and preferred meaning is:
“be on the point of, be about to. The same is true when the word is used with the present infinitive, as in the Rev. 3:10.[3] Unfortunately, none of the major translators cited above translates Revelation 1:19 in a literal fashion.[4]

Where is Gentry’s disappointment when it comes to translators not translating Romans 8:18 by the same grammatical standard? It is nowhere to be found, even though there are two other Greek words of imminence (apokaradokia and apekdekomai — “eagerly waiting”) within the immediate context.

At least partial preterist Gary DeMar has tried to be more consistent with a proper translation of mello in Romans 8:18. Citing Robert Young’s Literal Translation of the Bible he writes:
“Whatever the glory is it was ‘about to be revealed’…”[5]

We appreciate the honesty on properly translating mello here as “about to be revealed,” but contextually there is no ambiguity as to what the imminent manifestation of this “glory” was — the liberation of creation from its groaning and bondage, the full adoption of the sons of God, and the “redemption of the body” (vss. 18-23).

Interestingly enough though, according to Gentry and Mathison one of the things that was “about to come after” John wrote Revelation 1:19 was the arrival of the New Jerusalem and New Creation of Revelation 21:1ff. Mathison and Gentry tell us in their other works that the time texts in Revelation point to a near fulfillment of the passing of “the first heaven and earth.” They point out that Revelation 21:1 is referring to the passing of the old covenant “creation” in AD 70 and is a fulfillment of Isaiah 65–66. Gentry even says:

The absence of the sea (Rev. 21:1) speaks of harmony and peace within. In Scripture the sea often symbolizes discord and sin (13:1–2; cf. Isa. 8:7–8; 23:10; 57:20; Jer. 6:23; 46:7; Ezek. 9:10). Christianity offers the opposite: peace with God and among humankind (Luke 2:14; Rom. 5:1; Eph. 2:12–18; Phil. 4:7, 9).

But then Mathison and Gentry assign an “expanded” meaning to 2 Peter 3, which discusses the same promises in Isaiah 65–66. They suggest that Peter is addressing the geological “elements” of the planet while the Apostle John, referencing the same Old Testament passage, is not.

This is not only arbitrary, it is amazing. If Gentry and Mathison can give prophetic New Testament passages “expanded” meanings to fit their eschatology, then they have surrendered their debate with Dispensationalists, who constantly employ this strategy to force their eschatology upon New Testament passages.

In Mathison’s section on the “Restoration of Creation” (195–197), he appeals to the literal and global beginnings of Genesis 1–3 to point out that preterists have interpreted “the end” in Romans 8 and in the rest of the New Testament in an inaccurate way. But Mathison should be open to considering the interpretations of Genesis 1–3 that are presented by some within the Reformed tradition and by other futurists.

Combined, authors such as Augustine, Milton Terry, David Snoke, Meredith Kline, and dispensationalist John Sailhamer teach the following:

  • Man was created a physical dying creature like all the plant and animal life around him.
  • The physics of the creation did not change after Adam.
  • Genesis 1–2 uses the Hebrew word eretz, which should be translated as “land” or “ground” and not [planet] “earth.”
  • God’s emphases in the early chapters of Genesis are not scientific but theological, emphasizing the origins of sin in the heart and man’s need for the Seed of the woman to redeem him from Sin.

As the theological emphasis in Genesis 1–2 is on the local land of Eden, which is both theologically and geographically tied to Israel’s Promised Land, so too is the emphasis of the New Testament on a Great Commission preached to the nations of Israel and to the Roman Empire with a judgment that would affect the nations of that world.

Both the localized and covenantal judgment in Eden and the one in AD 70 affected and continue to affect all humankind. The introduction of spiritual death (condemnation and alienation from God within the heart and conscience of man through Adam) was overcome by Christ’s death, resurrection, and indwelling presence in AD 70. All men and nations of the world are either inside the new Israel and New Jerusalem or outside her gates — as the gospel continues to bring healing and judgment to the nations today and forever (cf. Rev. 21–22:17).

When we take a combined look at some of the best theologians within the Reformed and Evangelical communities, we find a preterist interpretation of every eschatological de-creation prophecy in the Bible. Combined, John Owen, John Locke, John Lightfoot, John Brown, R.C. Sproul, Gary DeMar, Kenneth Gentry, James Jordan, Peter Leithart, Keith Mathison, Crispin H.T. Fletcher-Louis, Hank Hanegraaff, and N.T. Wright teach that the passing away of heaven and earth (Matt. 5:17–18; 24:3, 29, 35; 1 Cor. 7:31; II Peter 3; I Jn. 2:17–18; Rev. 21:1) refers to the destruction of the temple or to the civil and religious worlds of men—either Jews or Gentiles; and that the rulers of the old covenant system or world, along with the temple, were the “sun, moon, and stars,” which made up the “heaven and earth” of the world that perished in AD 70.63

These interpretations are, individually considered, “orthodox.” Yet when preterists consolidate the most defensible elements of Reformed eschatology, anti-preterists such as the authors of WSTTB unite in opposition to even some of their own stated views.

*** It has now been 4 years since I have responded to Keith A. Mathison’s chapter The Eschatological Time Texts in the NT” in our book House Divided Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology A Preterist Response to When Shall These Things Be?  For me Mathison’s excuse for not responding (“I have been too busy”) has expired.

Partial Preterist Mr. Gary North, has said that if one side of the debate ceases to respond to the others arguments then the one who has responded last (thus silencing the other) in essence has won the debate (my paraphrase).   He has also written of dispensational scholars and their inability to keep up with postmillennial works and critiques, “Like a former athlete who dies of a heart attack at age 52 from obesity and lack of exercise, so did dispensational theology depart from this earthly veil of tears.  Dispensational theologians got out of shape, and were totally unprepared for the killer marathon of 1988.” (Greg L. Bahnsen, Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., HOUSE DIVIDED THE BREAK-UPOF DISPENSATIONAL THEOLOGY (Tyler, TX:  Institute for Christian Economics, 1989), Publishers Foreword, xx.).  In the same book DeMar claims that “Any theological position divided against itself is laid waste” and “shall not stand” and is guilty of “Theological Schizophrenia” (Ibid. 349-350).  Apparently Mr. Mathison was not prepared for the killer marathon of 2009 and since that time has been too busy engorging himself from the profits P&R provided him and is simply too scared and out of shape to open our book let alone read and respond to my critique and response to him?  And we document the “House Divided” “Theological Schizophrenia” and contradictory approach Reformed eschatology has sought to use against us let alone the contradictions (and yet at the same time progressive views moving towards Full Preterism) that are within Mathison’s writings alone.

Therefore, I have decided to post my chapter response to his online (in small parts) in hopes that both the Futurist and the Full Preterist communities will contact him for an official response.  If no response continues to come, then I will allow him to be judged by the same standard that his own postmillennial partial preterist colleagues have set up, and accept that he is unable to respond and has lost our debate.

 


[1] John Lightfoot, Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica, Volume 4 (Hendrickson publications), 157. Lightfoot, Hammond, and Gill understand the “creation” to be referring to Gentiles. “ . . . Crellius (Comm., Para.) explains it as a reference to regenerate Christians and Le Clerc (Supp., NT) refers it particularly to Gentile Christians.” John Locke, The Clarendon Edition of the Works of John Locke: A Paraphrase and Notes on the Epistles of St Paul, Volume 2 (Oxford at the Clarendon Press, 1987), 789.
[2] Ibid., 158–159 (emphases added).
[3] Tom Holland, Contours In Pauline Theology (Scotland: Christian Focus Publications, 2004), 85–110. Holland is a Reformed theologian who sees Paul’s “body” of flesh, sin, and death not referring to our physical flesh but to the corporate body of Sin in contrast to the corporate Body of Christ—the church. He counters Gundry’s individualistic views of soma in Paul’s writings.  He also argues for “consistency” in Paul’s use of corporate terms. I recommendthis book to any serious student of Reformed theology.
[4] John Murray, Collected Writings of John Murray 2: Systematic Theology (Banner of Truth Publications, 1977), 389
[5] The Reformation Study Bible, R.C. Sproul General Editor, Keith Mathison Associate Editor (Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries, 2005), 1, 636.
[6] Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., The Beast of Revelation, (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1989), 23–24.
[7] Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., Before Jerusalem Fell, (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1989), 141–142.
[8] Ibid., 141.
[9] Gary DeMar, LastDays MADNESS OBSESSION OF THE MODERN CHURCH, (Powder Springs, GA:  American Vision, 1999), 225.
[10] 61. John Owen, The Works of John Owen, 16 vols. (London: The Bannerof Truth Trust, 1965–68), 9:134–135. John Lightfoot, Commentary on the NewTestament from the Talmud and Hebraica: Matthew – 1 Corinthians, 4 vols. (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, [1859], 1989), 3:452, 454. John Brown, Discourses and Sayings of our Lord, 3 vols. (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, [1852] 1990), 1:170. John Locke, The Clarendon Edition of the Works of John Locke: A Paraphrase and Notes on the Epistles of St Paul Volume 2, (NY: Oxford University Press, 1987), 617–618. R.C. Sproul, The Last Days According to Jesus (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1998). Kenneth Gentry, He Shall Have Dominion (Tyler TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1992), 363–365. Kenneth Gentry (contributing author), Four Views on the Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1998), 89. Gary DeMar, Last Days Madness: Obsession of the Modern Church (Powder Springs: GA, 1999), 68–74, 141–154, 191–192. James B. Jordan, Through New Eyes Developing a Biblical View of the World (Brentwood, TN: Wolgemuth & Hyatt, Publishers, 1998), 269–279. Crispin H.T. Fletcher-Louis (contributing author) Eschatology in Bible & Theology (Downers Grove, Illinois: Inter Varsity Press, 1997), 145–169. Peter J. Leithart, The Promise of His Appearing: An Exposition of Second Peter (Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 2004). Keith A. Mathison, Postmillennialism:  An Eschatology of Hope (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1999), 114, 157–158. N.T. Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1996), 345–346. N.T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003), 645, n.42. Hank Hanegraaff, The Apocalypse Code (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2007), 84–86. C. Jonathin Seraiah, The End of All Things: A Defense of the Future (Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 2002).

A Full Preterist Response To Partial Preterist Joel McDurmon's Article “The Passing of Away of Heaven and Earth in Revelation 20:11 and 20:1” Part 2 – Joel "Fled" From Pheugo in Revelation 16:20

Since Joel McDurmon appealed to his articles on 2 Peter 3 for further study and to support his distinctions of two different de-creation events – one alleged direct and literal fulfillment in Revelation 20:11 of the planet earth, and another covenantal and spiritual of the Old Covenant (OC) system passing and yielding to the NC creation by AD 70 in Revelation 21:1 — I examined and critiqued that article for Part 1of this two part response.  In Part 1 we saw how American Vision Partial Preterists are all over the map.  On one hand Matthew 24:29, 35=2 Pet. 3 (with other parallels being made) and was fulfilled in AD 70.  John Lightfoot (one of DeMar and Gentry’s favorite PP to quote) claimed that the elements here were  “only” referring to the OC creation passing away.  I quoted DeMar’s sources as informing us that Matthew 24 material should not have any other double/mutiple kinds of futuristic fulfillments.  And then there was Gentry whom would claim that Matthew 24 and 2 Peter 3 can have “typological” or fuller fulfillments to come.
In “hand” one we have American Vision’s presentation given to Dispensationalists, and in second, is their presentation they give to Full Preterists.  If Partial Preterists can approach Matthew 24-25/2 Peter 3/Rev. 20-22 (and other NT crucial texts such as contained in the book of Hebrews, 1 Cor. 15 and John 5:28-29) and give them double/multiple, recapitulation of patterns, manifestations of future fulfillment, then so can Dispensationalists give these same kind of meanings of futuristic fulfillments to Israel, Jerusalem, the Temple, the signs and even “this generation” etc…  Since Partial Preterists are now coming to crucial NT eschatological texts and claiming their direct imminent eschatological “not yet” anti-type AD 70 fulfillments are only further types of another “fuller-fulfillment,” then their debate with Dispensationalism is over!  And when reading McDurmon and Gentry when it comes to a NT writer using Gen. 1-3 material and what can or cannot be referring to AD 70 and a more literal fulfillment to come, the confusion and contradictions mount even higher.
In this article I want to primarily address Joel McDurmon’s exegetical “fleeing” from mentioning the Greek word pheugo in (Revelation 16:20) when he was trying to make a distinction between two different eschatological de-creations being under discussion due to two different Greek words being used in Revelation 20:11 “fled away” (pheugo) and 21:1 “passed away” (parechomai).
Joel McDurmon’s eisegetical distinctions between Revelation 20:11 – “fled away” (Greek pheugo) and Revelation 21:1 – “passed away” (Greek parechomai)
McDurmon writes,
Revelation 20:11 says earth and heaven “fled away” (ESV) from the face of the enthroned One. The verb here is ephugen (from pheugo). It means “run away” in the Monty Python sense: “retreat” or “flee” in the sense of seeking safety from an imminent threat. We get our word “fugitive” from pheugo.
Pheugo is a common word used some 279 times throughout the New Testament and Old Testament LXX, but almost always has the distinct meaning of running away out of fear or self-protection. For example, Genesis 39:12, 13 and 15 (LXX) use the word to describe Joseph fleeing from Potiphar’s wife who had him by the garment. The Exodus is described with this word (Ex. 14:5). So is David fleeing Saul who wants to murder him (1 Sam. 19:18), Ahaziah fleeing Jehu (2 Ki. 9:27), God’s enemies in general (Ps. 68:1; Prov. 28:1), Jonah fleeing God’s presence (Jon. 1:3), Baby Jesus’ family fleeing Herod (Matt. 2:13), persecuted disciples leaving town (Matt. 10:23; 24:16), fearful disciples scattering after Jesus’ crucifixion (Matt. 26:56). The list is long, and the word is consistent in this meaning.
Revelation 21:1, on the other hand, says “the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.” The verb here is apelthan (an aorist of aperchomai).”[1]
As one can clearly see McDurmon didn’t go through the proper hermeneutical/exegetical steps of pointing out how pheugo was used earlier and within the book of Revelation itself when it comes to a de-creation text/event:
“And every island fled (Greek pheugo) away, and the mountains were not found.” (Rev. 16:20).
Obviously Joel McDurmon “fled” from this text as in, “Run away in the Monty Python sense: “retreat” or “flee” in the sense of seeking safety from an imminent threat [Full Preterism]” because he and other Partial Preterists take this de-creation text as the fleeing/passing of the OC creation – not the literal creation.  So much for his “argument” that two different events are referred to because two different Greek words are used!
American Vision new-comer Sam Frost has been claiming that his and McDurmon’s view of fulfillment is that of such scholars as G.K. Beale and yet Beale identifies the de-creation and judgment of Revelation 6:14, 16:20, 20:11 and 21:1 as the same eschatological end time or “not yet” event/judgment,
“Almost identical language has already been used of the last judgment in 6:14 and 16:20 (see there, esp. for OT background). That this signifies the end-time cosmic destruction is apparent further from 21:1, which affirms that “a new heaven and a new earth” replaced the vanishing “first heaven and first earth,” which had fled away. “A place was not found for them” is from Dan. 2:35 Theod., where it is used of the destruction of the wicked kingdoms at the end time.”[2]
And again,
“The absolute nature of the judgment is continued by a picture of the further breakup of the cosmos: “every island fled, and the mountains were not found” (see on 6:14). Virtually identical descriptions in 6:14 and 20:11 also indicate the conclusive, universal destruction of the earth at the judgment day. That parts of the world “were not found” (οὐχ εὑρέθησαν) anticipates the same portrayal of Babylon’s final, definitive destruction repeated three times in ch. 18 (οὐ μὴ εὑρεθῇ in 18:21, 22, and similarly in 18:14).
Note the striking parallel language in 6:14; 20:11; and 16:20:

6:14

16:20

πᾶν ὄρος καὶ νῆσος ἐκ τῶν τόπων αὐτῶν ἐκινήθησαν (“every mountain and island were moved from their places”)  πᾶσα νῆσος ἔφυγεν καὶ ὄρη οὐχ εὑρέθησαν (“every island fled, and the mountains were not found”) 

20:11

 
ἔφυγεν ἡ γῆ καὶ ὁ οὐρανός καὶ τόπος οὐχ εὑρέθη αὐτοῖς (“the earth and the heaven fled, and a place was not found for them”)   

 
Destruction of mountains was a sign of the end of the cosmos in Jewish apocalyptic (1 En.1:6; Assumption of Moses10:4; Sib. Or. 8.234–35).”[3]
McDurmon basically tried to mock Preston’s charts of parallels in his various books in the debate as too simple, and yet the FACTS are that Don isn’t coming up with anything new when it comes to these parallels!  It is called the “analogy of Scripture” and the vast majority of reformed exegesis upholds these kinds of parallels and recapitulation within the book of Revelation.  As usual McDurmon was just blowing smoke!
Beale is correct in that the phrase “a place was not found for them” in Revelation 12:8, 16:20 and 20:11 is taken from Daniel 2:35 but it is not discussing the inaugural defeat of Satan, but the final defeat of him as the immediate context demonstrates in 20:10 and how the rest of the NT describes his imminent defeat (Rom. 16:20/Gen. 3:15).
Sam Frost / Joel McDurmon and Hermeneutics in Revelation 20 
Joel was pleased at the debate to hand out free copies of Sam Frost’s (non-exegetical) little thin book on why he is now a Partial Preterist.  But Frost continues to believe that the thousand years millennium in Revelation 20 was roughly between AD 30 – AD 70 – combining what Amilennialists teach on the recapitulation structure of the book (Rev. 20 with chapters 1-19, 21-22) and what Partial Preterists teach on AD 70 fulfillments of chapters 1-19, 21-22.  But Frost fails to follow this same historical/grammatical and “organic development” approach in Revelation 20:5-15!  Sam has told us before that Partial Preterist exegetes harden their hearts on what the plain meaning of the text is in order to seek “the validation of men.” And that is what I believe McDurmon, DeMar and Frost have done in Revelation 20:5-15.  I have been saying in for years and agree with Frost in that this arbitrary hermeneutic of Partial Preterism is just a symptom of a greater problem. And while we are on that note of arbitrary hermeneutics…
Where Is the Matthew 25:31-46 and Revelation 20:10-13 Partial Preterist Parallel Hermeneutic?!?
American Vision’s Gary DeMar is on record as teaching:

  • John’s version of the Olivet discourse can be found in the book of Revelation.
  • Matthew 25:31-46 is descriptive of Christ coming in the judgment of AD 70.
  • That Matthew 24-25 can be paralleled to the vast majority of eschatological passages in the NT to prove AD 70 fulfillments and thus disprove Dispensationalism.

Therefore, it is pure eisegesis and a creedal bias which causes Partial Preterism and American Vision writers to avoid making these parallels here!  Does not orthodox Christianity and reformed creedal theology claim that Matthew 25:31-46 is a description of the Second Coming and final judgment — connecting it to the same judgment of Revelation 20:10-13?!? As I pointed out in “Part 1” of my response to Joel’s article, these parallels should have been developed but because it would continue to lead American Vision readers into Full Preterism or upset creedal supporters, these parallels were not:
1)  Matthew 25:31=Revelation 20:11 — Christ/God on the Throne to Judge.
2)  Matthew 24:29, 35=Revelation 20:11 — Heaven and Earth pass/flee.
3)  Matthew 25:31/Matthew 16:27=Revelation 20:12 — “all men” “each person” “all Nations” “the rest of the dead” “small and great “according to what they have done.”
4)  Matthew 25:41-46=Revelation 20:10, 14-15 — Wicked along with the Devil thrown into Lake of Fire for eternal punishment.    
Daniel 12:1-7 and Revelation 20:5-13
Beale also points out that there is no greater influence upon the book of Revelation than that of the book of Daniel.  Well, again this is no small problem for Joel McDurmon and American Vision who are now in print as informing their readers that the judgment and resurrection of the dead in Daniel 12:1-7 took place in AD 70.  We are told by Partial Preterists that John picks up where Daniel leaves off – and we couldn’t agree more!
Conclusion:
I don’t think it is a huge mystery as to why McDurmon “fled” from mentioning Revelation 16:20 and these other texts and issues in his article on Revelation 20:11 and 21:1.  Personally, I tend to believe it was more than sloppy or non-existent exegesis, it was borderline dishonesty or as Frost once wrote “seeking the validation of men” – but I will leave it for the readers to decide.  McDurmon has failed on an exegetical level to prove his case that Revelation 20:11 is a text which directly points to a literal de-creation event at the end of history while others such as Revelation 21:1 have a dual/double meaning of fulfillment– 1) AD 70 covenant de-creation and 2) an alleged literal/global de-creation referent.



[1] Joel McDurmon, The “passing” away of heaven and earth in Revelation 20:11 and 21:1 http://americanvision.org/5738/the-passing-away-of-heaven-and-earth-in-revelation-2011-and-211-4/#.UCkxAaOJr3A
[2] G.K. Beale, (1999). The book of Revelation: A commentary on the Greek text. New International Greek Testament Commentary (1032). Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle, Cumbria: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press.
[3] G. K. Beal, Ibid., (844).