MY TESTIMONY ON HOW I BECAME A FULL PRETERIST – MICHAEL J. SULLIVAN

Here is the short version:  The Lord providentially guided me and opened my eyes to Full Preterism by allowing me to first experience the frustration, confusion and errors of Dispensationalism and then later seeing that a synthesis between the classic Amillennial view and the Partial Preterist view seemed more exegetical and Biblical (ie. Full Preterism – which for a brief season I didn’t know even existed).
Now the slightly longer and more detailed version.
Dispensationalism
As an aspiring young man seeking the ministry shortly after my conversion to Christ, I attended Calvary Chapel Bible College (CCBC – affiliated with Pastor Chuck Smith) and graduated in the late 80’s.  There I was indoctrinated in the confusing Dispensational system with all of its two programs and comings (for the Church & Israel) – 1. a secret “rapture” coming for the Church and 2. The second coming designed to establish an earthly 1000 years millennium for Israel  separated by two resurrection etc… .  And who can forget all of those very confusing colorful charts as well, trying to make sense of it all along with 3.  this alleged “gap theory” between Daniel’s 69th “week/seven” and the 70th etc… .  What a mess!
After I graduated CCBC, I went back to my home Church – Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa and I began getting involved in the Jr. H.S. and H.S. programs.  I remember one New Year’s Eve – Pastor Chuck Smith was giving one of his famous “Prophecy Updates.”  His approach just didn’t sit well with me after being trained in hermeneutics and expository preaching – he simply read select passages out of Matthew 24 and assumed that everything that was happening at that time in the Middle East (and other current events “signs”) were for our generation and that he was “convinced” that the “Lord was coming soon to rapture” the Church.
Classic Amillennialism
After a brief stay at my home church I decided to further my theological training and attended another Dispensational Bible College – The Master’s College (affiliated with Pastor John MacArthur).  It was there that I was doing a report on “the kingdom of God” and had read several books – but this time a great deal of Amillennial or Covenant Theology material mixed in with Dispensational sources.  I quickly was converted to Amillennialism in that I saw no Biblical support for these Dispensational doctrinal distinctions such as:
1. Jesus allegedly offered a literal earthly kingdom to Israel.
2.  This kingdom allegedly got “postponed.”
3.  There wasn’t this major distinction between the Church and Israel – in particularly noticing that the Apostles hermeneutic in interpreting the OT was vastly different than Dispensationalism’s – applying OT promises to the Church (the very thing Dispensationalism said couldn’t be done etc…).
4.  The Amillennial hermeneutic and its use of the analogy of Scripture was so much simpler and better in that there was only ONE coming of Christ, attended with one judgment and resurrection of the dead at the end of the age.  I thought all of my eschatological wows had ended!  But…
Partial Preterism
On a spring break from The Master’s College I met a former student in Post Falls ID, that was Reformed.  We had so much to talk about and he gave me one of his Pastor’s articles that he had written for a local News Paper.  The article was on how Dispensationalism was false teaching and he simply went through Matthew 24 demonstrating how all of the signs were fulfilled by AD 70 and that exegetically “this generation” was the AD 30 – AD 70 one.  He briefly touched upon NT imminence as well I believe.  Well, this just seemed so “exegetical” and simple too!  I began getting a hold of every Partial Preterist book I could – David Chilton, Kenneth Gentry, Gary DeMar, Marcellus Kik, Greg Bahnsen, etc….
It wasn’t too long that the uneasiness I felt about Dispensationalism began coming back.  The “double vision” hermeneutics and confusion that I had left behind in Dispensational came back this time “seven fold” in the form of:  1. two comings of Christ – one in AD 70 to end Israel’s eschaton and the second (third?) coming to end history and end the Churches eschaton.  2.  Two Great Commissions to bring an end to… 3. Two end of the age(s) to… 4. judge the dead (one spiritual in AD 70 and an alleged literal one at the end of world history)… that would 5. Usher in two New Heavens and Earth(s) (one spiritual in AD 70 and an alleged physical one at the end of world history) etc….
Another source of uneasiness was that in all of the Partial Preterist material I had (to that date) gave a lot of exegesis of Matthew 24:1-34, but really none beyond verses 35-36 which were practically assumed to be referring to another coming of Jesus thousands of years removed from the one in the previous verses.  These two issues brought much uneasiness.
I remember giving a “persuasive speech” in my speech class and it was designed to convince the class (virtually all Dispensationalists) that the Great Tribulation is past, all the signs were fulfilled by AD 70, and that “a” parousia/coming of Christ took place at that time as well.  I thought it went well until the Q & A session kicked in.  Virtually every question or comment came out, “Aren’t you saying that the second coming took place then too if these other events were fulfilled in AD 70”?  I of course had to remind them that there were two comings in the NT which was followed by comments such as, “Yeah, but that doesn’t make much sense etc…”  I was thinking to myself that this two coming theory didn’t make much sense to me either – but I couldn’t let them know that!
Synthesis of Classic Amillennialism & Partial Preterism
I remember doing a study on Christ coming as a thief in my dorm room at The Master’s College and looking at the various conflicting views on this subject and the NT texts which developed it.  It was in that study I stumbled upon David Chilton’s comments that he took the coming of Christ as a thief in Matthew 24:43 as being fulfilled in AD 70:
“This interpretation [on the New Heavens and Earth of Rev. 21 and 2 Peter 3 arriving in AD 70] is confirmed by St. Peter’s further information:  In this imminent “Day of the Lord” which is about to come upon the first-century world “like a thief” (cf. Matt. 24:42-43; 1 Thess. 5:2; Rev. 3:3), “the elements will be destroyed with intense heat” (v. 10; cf. v. 12).”  (David Chilton, Days of Vengeance, p. 542, emphasis mine).
I thought to myself, “finally, someone that actually goes beyond verse 34 in Matthew 24, and sees what I’m seeing!”  When it was confirmed to me that there was only ONE coming of Christ in Matthew 24-25, it became clear that the rest of the NT follows that pattern and that the ONE Second Coming event was fulfilled in AD 70.  First let me provide you with a chart that gives you a visual of what I was looking at when it came to the conflicted nature of the Church on Christ coming as a thief, then I will provide another chart that shows once Matthew 24-25 is not divided, the rest of Pauline eschatology follows suit.

Christ comes “as a thief”
Passage
Partial Preterism
D. Chilton
Partial Preterism
K. Gentry
Pre-Trib. Rapture
J. MacArthur
Amill & Hist. Premill.
Matt. 24:43 AD 70 Future  Second Coming Future  Rapture Future Second Coming
2 Peter 3:10 AD 70 Future  Second Coming Future
Second Coming
Future  Second Coming
1 Thess. 5:2, 4 AD 70 Future  Second Coming Future  Rapture Future  Second Coming
Rev. 3:3 AD 70 AD 70 Future  Rapture Future  Second Coming
Rev. 16:15 AD 70 AD 70 Future
Second Coming
Future  Second Coming

This is what was going through my mind at this point:
Premise #1If it is true that the coming of Christ as a thief is both the Second Coming and Rapture event (Matt. 24=1 Thess. 4-5=2 Pet. 3=Rev. 3; 16),…
Premise #2 – …and if it is also true that Christ coming as a thief was imminently and spiritually fulfilled in AD 70,…
Conclusion – …then it necessarily follows that when Christ came as a thief spiritually in AD 70, that is when the Second Coming and Rapture event was fulfilled.
I said to myself, “Really, is this someone [David Chilton] who sees what I’m seeing?  There isn’t this “two sections” or “two comings” of Jesus in Matthew 24?!?”  Well, providentially I was coming up on another break from college and my roommate invited me to stay at his house (in Sacramento, CA) so I tagged along with him.  I noticed that David Chilton didn’t live far away from this area and so I set up a lunch appointment with him.  When we met, I almost immediately brought up what he had written and asked, “If you take Christ coming as a thief in Matthew 24 to be AD 70, then you don’t divide Matthew 24 into two sections or comings – do you?  And if you don’t, perhaps you are seeing what I am, in that there is only one second coming of Jesus mentioned in the NT and it happened in AD 70?”  His response was priceless – he simply smiled at me and said, “Mike, there is a book you need to read by James Stuart Russell, The Parousia.  From there he invited me over to his house for a while and he just wanted to have small talk.
It was dawning on me- “What if the Amillennial view is correct in that there is only one second coming being discussed throughout Matthew 24-25 and the Partial Preterist view is correct that the Son of Man coming on the clouds and or “the parousia” happened in AD 70 (ie. that the second coming of Jesus happened in AD 70 and has already been fulfilled)?  This was followed with me doing my own study comparing Matthew 24 and 1 Thessalonians 4-5 and charting out the parallels and noting that these were one and the same coming of Christ!  It became very obvious to me that the Amillennial view which taught Matthew 24=1 Thessalonians 4-5 was accurate (ie. a correct use of the Analogy of Scripture hermeneutic), while at the same time the Partial Preterist view was accurate in that the coming of the Son of Man on the clouds – at the sound of a trumpet, happened within the AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” (ie. an exegetical approach to the use of apocalyptic language and NT imminence).  The following chart expresses what was going through my mind at this point.
If A (Matt. 24) was fulfilled in AD 70 and yet is = to B (1 Thess. 4-5) and B (1 Thess. 4) is = to C (1 Cor. 15) then A (Matt. 24) is = to C (1 Cor. 15). And therefore, both B (1 Thess. 4) and C (1 Cor. 15) were also fulfilled in AD 70 just as A (Matt. 24) was.  Two or More Things that Are Equal to Another Thing Are Also Equal to Each Other:

Since A (Mat. 24) = B (1 Thess. 4)
Christ Returns from Heaven 24:30 4:16
With Voice of Arch Angel 24:31 4:16
With Trumpet of God 24:31 4:16
Caught/Gathered Together with/to Christ 24:31 4:17
“Meet” the Lord in the Clouds 24:30 & 25:6 4:17
Exact Time Unknown 24:36 5:1-2
Christ Comes as a Thief 24:43 5:2
Unbelievers Caught Off Guard 24:37-39 5:3
Time of Birth Pangs 24:8 5:3
Believers Not Deceived 24:43 5:4-5
Believers to Be Watchful 24:42 5:6
Exhorted to Sobriety 24:49 5:7
Son/Sunlight Shinning From E. to W. / Sons of the Day 24:27, 36, & 38 5:4-8
And B (1 Thess. 4) =  C (1 Cor. 15)
The Sleeping to Be Raised 4:13-14 15:12-18
The Living to Be aught/Changed 4:15-17 15:51-52
Christ’s Coming (Greek: Parousia) 4:15 15:23
At the Sound of the Trumpet 4:16 15:52
Encouraged to Stand Firm 4:18 15:58
Same Contemporary “We” 4:15-17 15:51-52
Then A (Matt. 24)  =  C (1 Cor. 15)
Christ to Come (Greek: Parousia) 24:27 15:23
His People to Be Gathered/Changed 24:31 15:52
To Come with the Sound of a Trumpet 24:31 15:52
To Be “The End” (Greek telos, the goal) 24:3, 14 15:24
Kingdom Consummation (goal reached) Luke 21:30-32 15:24
All Prophecy Fulfilled at This Point Luke 21:22 15:54-55
Victory over the Law/Temple Mat. 24:1 15:55-56
Same Contemporary “We” Mat. 24:2ff 15:51-52

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

Matthew 24                     1 Thessalonians 4          1 Corinthians 15 

At His Coming (24:27-31) = At His Coming (4:16) = At His Coming (15:23)
At the Trumpet (24:31) = At the Trumpet (4:16) = At the Trumpet (15:52)
Dead Raised, All Gathered (24:31) = Dead Raised (4:16) = Dead Raised (15:35-44)
All Living Gathered
(24:31)
= Living Caught Together to Him (4:17) = Status of Living Changed (15:51)

I would latter write David Chilton a private letter expressing that his smile made me feel uncomfortable in that it communicated to me that he knew what the truth was but he was sitting on it or compromising it.  He wrote me a scathing letter back expressing how my view would never amount to anything except to be a footnote in one of his books.  This letter was responded to by my second, in which I told him I would be praying that the Lord would discipline Him for compromising and suppressing the truth and for his pride.  Within a year or two, I had moved to Sacramento, CA (having dropped out of Master’s College – no need to go in debt for a theological education that was bogus) and was living two blocks from the hospital David Chilton ended up staying in (after his heart attack).  I took the church I was attending (a small Sovereign Grace Full Preterist Church) and our worship team and visited David in the hospital where we sang worship songs (I didn’t mention our correspondence).  We would later have lunch again, and David apparently did remember our correspondence and apologized to me for his letter and did say that he knew that the second coming happened in AD 70.  From there he contacted other Full Preterists such as Don Preston and would be more vocal about his convictions.
Then I would begin writing Gary DeMar and realized that he too did not believe Matthew 24 could be divided into two comings of Christ.  He assured me he would be addressing this issue in his next edition of Last Days Madness, which he did.
Let’s first get a bird’s-eye view of where everyone is on 1 and 2 Thessalonians and then I will address Gary’s problems:

Passages Full Preterism Partial Preterism Milton Terry Partial Preterist Gary DeMar Partial Preterist Keith Mathison Partial Preterist Kenneth Gentry Amill. &
Hist. Premill. 
 
1 Thess. 1 AD 70 AD 70 AD 70 Future Future Future
1 Thess. 2 AD 70 AD 70 AD 70 AD 70 AD 70 Future
1 Thess. 3 AD 70 AD 70 AD 70 Future Future Future
1 Thess. 4 AD 70 AD 70 Future Future Future Future
1 Thess. 5 AD 70 AD 70 AD 70 AD 70 Future Future
2 Thess. 1 AD 70 AD 70 AD 70 AD 70 Future Future
2 Thess. 2 AD 70 AD 70 AD 70 AD 70 AD 70 Future

But here are the problems with Gary’s current position which he has held to for way too long without progressing or “continuing in doctrine.”
Gary DeMar believes 1 Thessalonians 5 was fulfilled in AD 70.  One of the reasons he does so is because Paul uses the same phrases Jesus uses concerning the coming “birth pains” and Christ coming as a “thief” in Matthew 24.  Look at numbers 7 and 9 below:

Matthew 24 – Fulfilled in AD 70 1 Thessalonians 4 – Still Future?
1.  Christ comes from heaven (24:30) 1.  Christ comes from heaven (4:16)
2.  With archangelic voice (24:31) 2.  With archangelic voice (4:16)
3.  With God’s trumpet call (24:31) 3.  With God’s trumpet call (4:16)
4.  Gathered/Caught to Christ (24:31) 4.  Gathered/Caught to Christ (4:17)
5.  Believers meet Christ in clouds (24:30) 5.  Believers meet Christ in clouds (4:17)
Matthew 24 – Fulfilled in AD 70 1 Thessalonians 5 – Fulfilled in AD 70
6.  Exact time unknown (24:36) 6.  Exact time unknown (5:1-2)
7.  Christ comes like a thief (24:43) 7.  Christ comes like a thief (5:2)
8.  Unbelievers caught unaware (37-39) 8.  Unbelievers caught unaware (5:3)
9.  Birth pains (24:8 – fulfilled in AD 70) 9.  Birth pains (5:3 – fulfilled in future?)
10.  Believers are not deceived (24:43) 10.  Believers are not deceived (5:4-5)
11.  Believers told to be watchful (24:42) 11.  Believers told to be watchful (5:6)
12.  Exhortation against drunkenness (24:49) 12.  Exhortation against drunkenness (5:7)
13.  The Day, shinning from east to west, (24:27, 36-38) 13.  The Day, sons of light, sons of day (1 Thess. 5:4-8)

But why wouldn’t DeMar address the remaining 6 parallels or phrases Paul is getting from Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 24 and import them into 1 Thessalonians 5? Because to do so, would bring to much attention to this parallel hermeneutic and have people asking and demanding why he doesn’t follow this same approach in paralleling Matthew 24:30-31 with 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 (see #’s 1-5 in chart)?!?
This begs another question for DeMar to answer – since he publishes James Jordan’s commentary on Daniel 12 – which supports Daniel (his soul) was raised out of Abraham’s Bosom or Hades at Christ’s parousia in AD 70 to inherit eternal life, then why isn’t 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 descriptive of this spiritual AD 70 fulfillment?!?
Partial Preterist Keith Mathison in his book on Postmillennialism  took 1 Thessalonians 5 as fulfilled in AD 70.  One of his reasons for this was because of Paul’s use of “birth pains” (again see #9 below) and paralleled this phrase with Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 24:

Matthew 24 – Fulfilled in AD 70 1 Thessalonians 4 – Still Future?
1.  Christ comes from heaven (24:30) 1.  Christ comes from heaven (4:16)
2.  With archangelic voice (24:31) 2.  With archangelic voice (4:16)
3.  With God’s trumpet call (24:31) 3.  With God’s trumpet call (4:16)
4.  Gathered/Caught to Christ (24:31) 4.  Gathered/Caught to Christ (4:17)
5.  Believers meet Christ in clouds (24:30) 5.  Believers meet Christ in clouds (4:17)
Matthew 24 – Still Future? 1 Thessalonians 5 – Fulfilled in AD 70
6.  Exact time unknown (24:36) 6.  Exact time unknown (5:1-2)
7.  Christ comes like a thief (24:43) 7.  Christ comes like a thief (5:2)
8.  Unbelievers caught unaware (37-39) 8.  Unbelievers caught unaware (5:3)
9.  Birth pains (24:8) 9.  Birth pains (5:3)
10.  Believers are not deceived (24:43) 10.  Believers are not deceived (5:4-5)
11.  Believers told to be watchful (24:42) 11.  Believers told to be watchful (5:6)
12.  Exhortation against drunkenness (24:49) 12.  Exhortation against drunkenness (5:7)
13.  The Day, shinning from east to west, (24:27, 36-38) 13.  The Day, sons of light, sons of day (1 Thess. 5:4-8)

But what about the other 7 phrases and parallels Paul uses in the rest of 1 Thessalonians 5 that He is getting from Jesus in Matthew 24? If Mathison is consistent in his use of parallelism and in using an identical phraseology heremeutic, then this disproves his first theory (he too no longer divides Matthew 24 – see his new book, From Age to Age) that Matthew 24:36ff. contains eschatological material that needs to be fulfilled in our future.
If parallels and similar phrases from Matthew 24 prove that 1 Thessalonians 5 was fulfilled by AD 70, then why wouldn’t the same hermeneutic of parallels and similar phrases prove that 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 was also fulfilled in AD 70 (again #’s 1-5)?
Partial Preterist Kenneth Gentry cites authors to support Paul is following Matthew 24 when he parallels and makes his Preterist case  that 2 Thessalonians 2 was fulfilled in AD 70.  But those same sources he uses, produce these parallels as well which Gentry arbitrarily ignores, because he knows if he was consistent in this use of the analogy of Scripture principle of interpretation, it would lead him to Full Preterism.  Here is how Gentry understands Matthew 24 and 1 Thessalonians 4-5:

Matthew 24 – Fulfilled in AD 70 1 Thessalonians 4 – Still Future?
1.  Christ comes from heaven (24:30) 1.  Christ comes from heaven (4:16)
2.  With archangelic voice (24:31) 2.  With archangelic voice (4:16)
3.  With God’s trumpet call (24:31) 3.  With God’s trumpet call (4:16)
4.  Gathered/Caught to Christ (24:31) 4.  Gathered/Caught to Christ (4:17)
5.  Believers meet Christ in clouds (24:30) 5.  Believers meet Christ in clouds (4:17)
Matthew 24 – Still Future? 1 Thessalonians 5 – Still Future?
6.  Exact time unknown (24:36) 6.  Exact time unknown (5:1-2)
7.  Christ comes like a thief (24:43) 7.  Christ comes like a thief (5:2)
8.  Unbelievers caught unaware (37-39) 8.  Unbelievers caught unaware (5:3)
9.  Birth pains (24:8 – fulfilled in AD 70) 9.  Birth pains (5:3 – fulfilled in future?)
10.  Believers are not deceived (24:43) 10.  Believers are not deceived (5:4-5)
11.  Believers told to be watchful (24:42) 11.  Believers told to be watchful (5:6)
12.  Exhortation against drunkenness (24:49) 12.  Exhortation against drunkenness (5:7)
13.  The Day, shinning from east to west, (24:27, 36-38) 13.  The Day, sons of light, sons of day (1 Thess. 5:4-8)

So why wouldn’t Gentry parallel Matthew 24:36-49 with 1 Thessalonains 5:1-8 to prove that both of these sections are to be fulfilled in the future?To do so would have Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:3 use the “birth pains” (an alleged future fulfillment) parallel to Matthew 24:8 – which he says was fulfilled in AD 70. This is a similar problem Gentry has if he compares Matthew 24 with Luke 17, in that Luke 17 makes it clear there are not two comings of Christ in view.  Luke mixes up AD 70 events to alleged future events, and allegedly future events, he places to be fulfilled in AD 70.
To make all of the 7 parallels between Matthew 24 and 1 Thessalonians 5 would end up “proving to much” – in that everyone would be asking why not make the parallels between Matthew 24 and 1 Thessalonians 4 then?!? If Paul is following Jesus’ material in 1 Thessalonians 5, why isn’t he following it in 1 Thessalonians 4?!? (again #’s 1-5).
Another problem Gentry has created for himself is that he now teaches the resurrection of Dan. 12:2 was fulfilled spiritually at Christ’s parouisa in AD 70. Therefore, this begs another question for Gentry to answer – WHY isn’t 1 Thessalonains 4:16-17 descriptive of the spiritual coming and spiritual resurrection of Daniel 7:13/Daniel 12:2 — that he says was fulfilled in AD 70?!?
It should be abundantly clear that Paul is following Jesus’ teaching Matthew 24=1 Thessalonians 4-5.  As G.K. Beale points out in his commentary on 1 and 2 Thessalonians – Paul practically follows the exact same chronology of Jesus in Matthew 24!  This is why the Classic Amillennial view and the Full Preterist view either have all of Matthew 24 and 1 Thessalonians 4-5 as fulfilled in the future or fulfilled in AD 70.  The analogy of Scripture demands one or the other.  But the first century imminent expectation demands the Full Preterist interpretation.
Full Preterism
At this point I was a Full Preterist (in the broad sense of the definition) and didn’t know it.  After I got back to The Master’s College and received Russell’s book (from Walt Hibbard’s GCB’s) and read his exegesis of Matthew 24 – I remember jumping up and down in my dorm room shouting, “YES!  I found someone that believes what I do (the NT only teaches one Second Coming and it was fulfilled in AD 70)!”  But then the depression and lonely feelings came back as I noticed that this author wrote the book in the 1800’s and was dead.  But I was determined to find out if there was anyone (alive that is) that believed and saw what I did.  I got onto the Internet and began debating my position on Matthew 24 with others online to see what would happen.  It wasn’t long before I got into contact with Ken Davies and David Green.  I was finally at peace and have been a Full Preterist now for 26 years and have never even thought of looking back.
Although the Lord (at least up to this point) never called me to be a Pastor, He did open the doors up for me to be a Full Preterist theologian, apologist, and author.  I enjoy writing Full Preterist articles on my two web sites:  www.fullpreterism.com and www.treeoflifeministries.info.  I  have also been blessed to be a co-author in House Divided Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology A Preterist Response to When Shall These Things Be?  In the book I wanted to have as our guiding foundation and apologetic to be the one that actually led me into the Full Preterist movement – that is a synthesis between the Classic Amillennial view and the Partial Preterist view (or simply put – one of the Reformation’s cries, “Reformed and always reforming”).  The Full Preterist movement is nothing other than the “organic development” between these two Reformed eschatological views.  As I wrote in HD:
“1)  Partial Preterism – Imminence and fulfillment are accepted.  Christ appeared a second time at the end of the old covenant age.  There was a spiritual, corporate, covenantal judgment and resurrection of the living and dead which was attended by a passing of the old creation and arrival of the new in AD 70 (Dan. 12:1-4; Matt. 5:17-18; 13:39-43, 24-25; Acts 1:11; Rom. 8:18; 13:11-12; Heb. 8:13; 9:26-28; 10:37; 1 Peter 4:5-7; 2 Peter 3; Rev. 1-22).
2)  Classic Amillennialism – The New Testament teaches only one future coming of Christ, general judgment, and resurrection of the living and dead attended by the restoration of creation at the end of the age.”
“…The choice is simple. Either one continues propagating the myth that these two propositions within the futurist paradigm do not lead to a contradiction, or one accepts the organic development of full preterism which unites them.” (HD Second Edition, 139).
My exhortation to the reader studying Full Preterism
And again, here is a small portion of our conclusion in HD that I made a contribution towards and want to pass on to you as you study the Full Preterist position:
“As a Reformed believer, dear reader, you know that there is no middle ground between Arminianism and Calvinism.  You may have tried at one time to say that you were neither a Calvinist nor an Arminian.  Or you may have acknowledged that the Bible teaches Calvinism, but you rejected the teaching because you were troubled by its implications.  Or you may have even been a closet Calvinist for years.  Though the road was perhaps difficult, you eventually embraced the doctrines of grace, and now you know there is no compromise position between the two doctrines.
Many Reformed believers today are having the same experience with the doctrine of preterism.  They are learning that it is also a hard pill to swallow and that it is nevertheless the doctrine of Scripture.  They are learning that it represents “the whole counsel of God” in the area of eschatology.  After we are confronted with biblical preterism, we may try to straddle the fence, but there is truly no middle ground.  Just as R.C. Sproul (Sr.) would consider a four-point Calvinist to be in reality a “confused Arminian,” more and more futurists, on their way to biblical preterism, are beginning to see that partial preterism is just “confused futurism.”  There is no biblical basis for “partial preterism” even as there is no biblical basis for “partial Calvinism.”  This is why partial preterism invariably leads to full preterism.  This is why Keith Mathison and Ken Gentry have both come closer to “hyper-preterism” since they wrote WSTTB.  Mathison now believes that the prophecy of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25 was fulfilled in AD 70 and Gentry now believes that the resurrection in Daniel 12:2-3 was fulfilled in AD 70.  This is why partial preterist theologian David Chilton became a full preterist before he passed away, even though he knew he would be creedally anathematized by partial preterists such as his publisher Gary North.
Though we consider futurists who condemn us to be our brothers in Christ, we must acknowledge that they have been confronted with the truth, and rejected it, and declared us to be accursed.  They would have done well to heed the wisdom of Gamaliel:  “And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it—lest you even be found to fight against God” (Acts 5:38-39). But instead, they are persecuting us and suppressing the truth, though ultimately to no avail.
The biblical record from cover to cover teaches us that taking a stand against traditions and authorities which nullify Scripture is not easy.  When leaders take their stand against the teachings of Scripture for the sake of tradition, that is when God raises up “the things which are not” (1 Cor. 1:28)—fishermen, shepherds, janitors, waiters, drivers, etc.,— to stand in the gap.  The rise of Reformed preterists within the history of the church can be likened to the conflict between David the shepherd and Saul the king, and between Luther and the One, Holy, Roman Catholic Church—small and humble beginnings, with powerful and profound results to be looked for in the future.
Preterists have been forced into the wilderness and caves by those who have felt threatened by our stand for the Word of God; and God continues to add to the number of men and women who are shunned by creedal futurists.  These believers have been driven out by Saul-ish spear throwers, but they find their purpose in defending the truth at all costs.  And as a result, they become God’s valiant warriors.
It took only a handful of committed Christians with a passion for God’s word to turn the Jewish and Roman world completely upside down with the gospel. God is not calling closet Calvinists or closet preterists, but faithful men to boldly proclaim His truth to His flock.  Be assured that persecution and tears will come, but if you faithfully proclaim and trust in God’s Word, He will keep your tears in His bottle and turn back your enemies, and in one way or another, He will vindicate you and the truth together in Him (Jer. 1; Josh. 1; Ps. 56).” (HD, 235-236).
This is why every HD book I sign and mail off, I list Jer. 1; Josh. 1 and Psalm 56 – because this has been my experience and exhortation I want to pass on to you.  That is, tears of pain and tears of joy will enter your heart when you see this truth and rejoice in God’s Word – and yet at the same time you will always have to be “strong and very courageous” never being “discouraged” to “fear the faces of men” or seek to compromise, for He will fight your battles, turn back your enemies, and His Word will not return to Him void!  This is your calling, your duty and your privilege.  Peace – Selah.

House Divided – Excerpts From Chapter 6 (Expositions of Daniel 12:2 and John 5) and Chapter Seven – The Resurrection of the Dead An Exposition of 1 Corinthians 15

House Divided

Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology A Preterist Response to

When Shall These Things Be?

Excerpts From Chapter 6 (Response to Robert Strimple) &  Chapter Seven (Exposition of 1 Corinthians 15)
Including an Exegesis of:  Daniel 12:2, John 5:28-29, and 1 Corinthians 15
The Resurrection of the Dead Fulfilled by AD 70
David A. Green

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 David A. Green), except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.

1).  Exegesis of Daniel 12:2

Strimple Argument #5: Daniel 12:1-3 says that “many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt.” This is obviously referring to a physical resurrection of the dead. Additionally, God tells us that this prophecy is to be fulfilled in “the time of the end” (Dan. 12:4), which is the end of human history (295).
Answer: Daniel’s prediction of the resurrection of the dead begins with these words: “And at that time . . . ” “That time” refers back to the end of chapter 11. Philip Mauro in his book, The Seventy Weeks and the Great Tribulation, argues convincingly that Daniel 11 ends with a prophecy of Herod the Great.[1]
Herod, the first enemy of the incarnate Christ, died very shortly after Christ was born. It was “at that time” that Christ (“Michael,” “the Chief Messenger”) stood up for the saints. It was at that time that Christ came into the world for His people and took on the body of sacrifice that the Father had prepared for Him (Dan. 12:1; Heb. 10:5-7; Ps. 40:6; cf. Rev. 12:7).
It was the “stand” for the elect that Christ made in His Incarnation that led to the “war in heaven” (Matt. 11:12; Rev. 12:7), which in turn led to fleshly Israel being overtaken in the death-throes of the Great Tribulation (Dan. 12:1). Jesus promised that that time of distress was going to take place within His own generation, and that it would be consummated in the destruction of the city and the sanctuary (Dan. 9:26; 12:1; Matt. 24:1-2, 21, 34). That event took place in August-September of AD 70.
According to the angel who spoke to Daniel, it was at that time that the power of the holy people would be shattered (Dan. 12:7), that the church would be delivered (Dan. 12:1), that the resurrection of the dead would take place, and that the righteous would inherit the kingdom (Dan. 12:2). Jesus, in harmony with Daniel, promised that the kingdom would be taken from the wicked and given to the righteous in the lifetime of the chief priests and Pharisees (Mat. 21:43-45). Therefore, “the time of the end” (not “the end of time,” as it is sometimes mistranslated) in Daniel 12:4, 9 was not the end of human history; it was the end of redemptive history in Christ’s generation.
It was in AD 70, therefore, that many who slept in “the earth’s dust” awoke. To “sleep in dust” is a figure of speech. The dead were not literally sleeping, nor were they literally in the dust. They were “in dust” only insofar as, in their death, they had not ascended into God’s presence in Christ. In terms of the righteousness and life of God, they were earth-bound. From a literal standpoint, they were in Sheol/Hades (the abode of the Adamic dead), and it was from out of Sheol that they were raised to stand before the heavenly throne of God (Dan. 12:1-2). Futurist James Jordan writes regarding Daniel 12:13:
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.[2]
Regarding the word “many” in Daniel 12:2: The word is not used in contrast to “all” (as “the many” is used to limit the term “all men” in Rom. 5:12, 15, 18-19) or in contrast to “a few.” The angel simply referred to a large number of people; to multitudes (NIV). No inference can be made from the context as to whether “many” referred to all or to only a portion of the dead. Only subsequent scriptures revealed that the “many” in Daniel 12:2 referred to the whole company of all the dead from Adam to the Last Day.

2).  Exegesis of John 5:28-29

Strimple Argument #6: John 5:28-29 obviously teaches a physical resurrection of the dead in that it speaks of a time in which “all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment” (297).
Answer: In order to understand John 5:28 and 29, we must first look three verses above it, in John 5:25, where Jesus said that the hour “now is” when “the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live.” As most Reformed interpreters agree, Jesus in that verse was referring to the preaching of His death and resurrection. The preaching of that message commenced at Pentecost. “The dead” were physically living people who were spiritually dead in sin, and “the voice of the Son of God” was the gospel. Having heard the gospel, those who were spiritually “dead” were spiritually resurrected. They lived in that they received eternal life through faith in the gospel (“the voice of the Son of God”).
Then, in verses 28 and 29, Jesus expanded His teaching on the resurrection to include those who were not only spiritually dead, but who were also physically dead. He did not call them “dead” (as He had already called the living who were spiritually dead), but He referred to them through another figure of speech as “all who are in the graves.” They were not literally in their graves or tombs, of course, but were in Hades/Sheol.
What is often missed in this passage is that, like the physically living in verse 25, the physically dead in verse 28 were also going to live by means of hearing Christ’s “voice.” As we know from verse 25, that “voice” is the gospel. The physically dead therefore were going to hear the gospel (cf. 1 Pet. 4:6.) and were, as a result of hearing the gospel, going to be resurrected (regenerated, born from out of death and Hades). This means that the physically dead were, like the physically living, spiritually dead. And this inescapably means that both the physically living and the physically dead were going to be spiritually resurrected by means of the gospel-voice of the Son of God. One resurrection in two main stages: First, the last days saints; then, the Old Testament dead (“the rest of the dead” in Revelation 20:5). Note the parallels between John 4:21, 23 and John 5:25, 28:
1. . . . [T]he hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth. . . . (Jn. 4:23)
2. . . . [T]he hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. (Jn. 4:21)
1. . . . [T]he hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. (Jn. 5:25)
2. . . . [T]he hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice. . . . (Jn. 5:28)
These two sets of prophecies are parallel.  They speak of the same timeframes, which were these:
Pentecost (AD 30)
1. The true worshipers would worship the Father in spirit and in truth.
1. The dead would hear the voice of the Son of God, and live.
Fall of Jerusalem (AD 70)
2. God’s worshipers would no longer worship Him in Jerusalem.
2. All who were in the graves would hear His voice.

Interjection by Michael Sullivan – “Commentators have long understood that Daniel 12:2 is the source for Jesus’ teaching on the resurrection in John 5:28-29 because the only OT passage which mentions a resurrection for both the righteous and the wicked is Daniel 12:2 and the only OT passage addressing “eternal life” is Daniel 12:2.  G.K. Beale points out an additional connection – in that Jesus is following the (OG) LXX of Daniel 12:1-2, 4 when it comes to this coming resurrection “hour” of both believers and unbelievers (cf. G.K. Beale, A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of The Old Testament In The New (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2011), 131132).
That being the case, note these parallels:
Pentecost (AD 30)
1.  Daniel 12:1:  “And at that hour…”
1.  John 5:25:  “…an hour is coming and now is…”
Fall of Jerusalem (AD 70)
2.  Daniel 12:1:  “And at that hour…”
2.  John 5:28:  “…for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice,”
Pentecost (AD 30)
1.   Daniel 12:2:  “Many of those who sleep in the width of the earth will arise   [anatesontai]…some unto eternal life and others to reproach…and to eternal shame.”
1.  John 5:24:  “…he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life,   and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into   life.”
Fall of Jerusalem (AD 70)
2.  Daniel 12:2:  “Many of those who sleep in the width of the earth will arise   [anatesontai]…some unto eternal life and others to reproach…and to eternal shame.”
2.  John 5:29:  “and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection [anatasin] of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection [anatasin] of judgment.” (also related:  1 John 2:18: “Dear children it is the last hour…” and Revelation 14:7:  “…the hour of His judgment has come.”).
Partial Preterists such as Kenneth Gentry have finally conceded to Full Preterism that the resurrection of Daniel 12:2 was fulfilled in AD 70 spiritually – “when the power of the holy people is/was completely shattered” (v. 7).  They also affirm that the last hour of John’s eschatology in John 4, 1 John 2:17-18, and Revelation 14:7 was fulfilled in AD 70.  There is obviously some arbitrary and inconsistent exegesis taking place from Mr. Gentry on the coming “hour” of judgment and resurrection in John’s writings.
Here are the exegetical challenges for Kenneth Gentry on the resurrection of John 5:28-29 at this point:
1.  If the judgment and resurrection “hour” of Daniel 12:1-2 was fulfilled spiritually in AD 70, and…
2.  If Jesus’ source for His teaching on the coming judgment and resurrection “hour” in John 5:28-29 was Daniel 12:1-2,
3.  Then the judgment and resurrection “hour” of John 5:28-29 was also fulfilled spiritually in AD 70.” (end note by Michael Sullivan)
David A. Green continued – After hearing the gospel, the dead were raised out of their Adamic graves (Hades) in the end of the age. And those among them who believed the gospel received eternal life in the kingdom of God. But those who hated the gospel (those who had done evil) were raised out of Hades only to stand before God and to enter into “eternal punishment” / “the second death” (Matt. 25:46; Jn. 5:28-29; Rev. 20:14).

[1] . Philip Mauro, The Seventy Weeks and the Great Tribulation (Swengel, PA: Reiner Publications [now Grace Abounding Ministries]), 135-162.
[2] . James B. Jordan, The Handwriting on the Wall: A Commentary on the Book of Daniel (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision Inc., 2007), 628. (Emphases added)

3).  An Exposition of 1 Corinthians 15

The position I take in this exposition is often called “the collective body view” or “the corporate body view.” It is as follows:
Some at Corinth were denying that the pre-Christian saints[1] would rise to inherit the kingdom at the Parousia. Those who were in error at Corinth were not arguing with Paul about the reality of the resurrection. They were arguing with Paul in regard to who would participate in the resurrection. They believed that believers in Christ would be resurrected but that “the dead” would not. Paul’s answer to their error was that “all”—not merely some of God’s people—would be raised. Through the Spirit-empowered dying (to Sin and to the Law) of the eschatological church on behalf of the dead (the Old Testament saints), the mortal “body” of Sin and Death (the Adamic/Mosaic saints and the eschatological church; the entire “world” of God’s people) would rise and be “changed”/“transformed” into the spiritual body of Christ in the kingdom of God.
Though this interpretation is commonly called “collective” or “corporate,” these terms are inadequate. Paul does not speak only or merely in collective terms of the resurrection body. Not even in 1 Corinthians 12 is “body” simply a reference to a collective or communal “body of believers.”
The terms “body of Christ” and “body of believers” are not synonymous. The church is not a “body” because it is a group of people who have organized and united around Christ. Nor is it a body because it is a kind of “corporation.” The church is the body of Christ because it is literally the dwelling and fullness of the individual Man, the Person, Christ Jesus (Gal. 4:19; Eph. 1:23; 4:13). “This mystery is great. . . ” (Eph. 5:32).
As we shall soon see, Paul used the word “body,” in the relevant passages, not as a term of either physicality or collectivity, or even as a term of mere anthropological wholeness. Paul used the word “body” as a term of theology, much as he used the terms “spirit,” “new man,” “the world about to come,” the “new creation,” the “kingdom of God,” and the heavenly “house/home.” All of these eschatological terms (and their opposites, “mortal body,” “flesh,” “old man,” etc.) are intimately related in their meanings, and are not easily defined with exactness.
As I will explain in more detail below, “body” describes God’s people, whether individually or as a whole, whether living or dead, in terms of their cosmic-covenantal self or identity, as they are constituted either in Sin and Death or in Christ. Thus the view I am presenting in this
self in this chapter to defining their error more generally as a denial that the dead from Adam until Christ would be raised.
chapter may more accurately be called “the cosmic-covenantal body view.”
Necessary Inferences
In beginning this exposition, we must understand that reading 1 Corinthians 15 is comparable to listening to one side of one phone conversation out of a series of phone conversations. Paul and the resurrection-of-thedead deniers have a long established context with long established word usages. We on the other hand, as a third party, may have our own context and our own usages that we unwittingly apply to the conversation.
This is the problem we face in 1 Corinthians 15. We hear Paul’s refutation of the resurrection error but we do not hear many details about what he is refuting. All we know from explicit statements in the chapter is that some at Corinth denied “the resurrection of the dead” because they believed “the dead” had no “body” with which they could be rising (1 Cor. 15:35). But what does this mean? What did Paul and those who were in error at Corinth mean when they used those terms?
If we do not make correct inferences from Paul’s side of the “conversation,” we not only misunderstand the error he was refuting, we misunderstand the truth he was defending. This has been the historic failure of the futurist interpretation of 1 Corinthians 15. Futurists have resisted making necessary inferences in Paul’s arguments because those inferences do not fit the futurist paradigm.
It is widely believed that the resurrection-of-the-dead deniers denied the very concept of the resurrection of dead people universally, and that they therefore denied the resurrection of Christ and of Christians. The implications of Paul’s words, however, do not support this view. As Paul argued, if the dead are not being raised, then:

  1. not even Christ has been raised” (1 Cor. 15:13-17)
  2. the apostles are liars (1 Cor. 15:14-15)
  3. those also who have fallen asleep in Christ perished” (1 Cor. 15:18)
  4. we are hoping in Christ “in this life only” (1 Cor. 15:19)

These four logical outcomes of the resurrection error were not doctrines that the resurrection-of-the-dead deniers were teaching. These conclusions were not designed to describe the error. They were designed to overthrow it, through reductio ad absurdum. Paul was bringing the resurrection error to absurd conclusions that were antithetical to the beliefs of the resurrection-of-the-dead deniers. Paul was essentially saying:
“We all believe in the resurrection of Christ (1 Cor. 15:13-17) and in the eschatological hope in Christ that all believers share (1 Cor. 15:19), both living and asleep (1 Cor. 15:18); but you do not realize that if there is no resurrection of the dead, as some of you are saying, then these gospel truths that we all hold so dear are nothing but falsehoods and delusions.”
We can infer from Paul’s “if . . . then” arguments that the resurrection-of-the-dead deniers did not espouse those inevitable results of their teaching. Instead, they agreed with Paul that:

  1. Christ had been raised from the dead.
  2. The apostles were faithful and true witnesses of God.
  3. Christians who had “fallen asleep” had not “perished” (i.e., had not died in their sins).
  4. All Christians, both living and “asleep,” had a sure “hope” in Christ. Their hope in Him was not a pitiable delusion.

Because the resurrection-of-the-dead deniers believed in the resurrection of Christ, and because they believed that sleeping Christians had therefore not died in their sins (“perished”) but were, along with the living, looking forward to the fulfillment of the Christological “hope,” we must infer that the “hope” to which the resurrection-of-the-dead deniers looked was that of the Christological resurrection of Christians, both living and “asleep” (Acts 23:6; 24:15; 26:6-7; 28:20; Eph. 4:4). They did not believe merely in the continuation of existence after death; they looked forward to the fulfillment of the eschatological “hope” in Christ.
We can also reasonably surmise that since the resurrection-ofthe-dead deniers believed that the apostles were faithful witnesses and since they believed in the apostolic gospel of the historic resurrection of Christ (1 Cor. 15:13-17) and in the Christian resurrection-“hope,” it is not unlikely that they also believed the apostolic testimony that Christ Himself had raised multiple people from the dead and that the apostles themselves had raised multiple people from the dead.
(We can add to this that since the resurrection-of-the-dead deniers were members of the church at Corinth, which was filled with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, including miracles, it is not far from the realm of possibility that resurrection-miracles were performed at the Corinthian church before the very eyes of the resurrection-of-the-dead deniers.)
So from verses 13-19, we must infer that even though those who were in error at Corinth denied the resurrection of “the dead,” they nevertheless believed in the resurrected and resurrecting Christ, and in the resurrecting apostles, and in the miracle-working church at Corinth, and in the resurrection-“hope” of all Christians, living and asleep.
These inferences have been overlooked because under the assumption of futurism, they make no sense. How could someone deny the very concept and possibility of the resurrection of dead people and at the same time believe in the resurrected and resurrecting Christ, and in the resurrecting apostles, and in the Christological resurrection-“hope” of all Christians, living and asleep? With futurism as our starting point, there is no answer to this question. There are only strained theories.
The problem for futurism thickens when we see other implications of Paul’s arguments in 1 Corinthians 15. In verses 35-37 we read:
But someone will say, “How are the dead raised? And with what body do they come?” You fool! That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies; and that which you sow, you do not sow the body which is to be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat or of something else.
We know that Paul’s argument here was aimed at those who already believed in the eschatological resurrection of Christians. We can infer then that he was not trying to convince them of the concept of resurrection. We can also infer that body-sowing and body-rising (bodyresurrection) were “givens” in the seed analogy. The only doctrines that Paul was defending and seeking to prove in his analogy were body-death (“You fool! That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies”) and body-change (“and that which you sow, you do not sow the body which is to be”). Sowing and coming to life (resurrection) were givens. Putting the body to death and changing the body were not givens.
The resurrection-of-the-dead deniers believed in the sowing of the body and in the resurrection of the body but they denied that the body had to die and be changed. They erroneously espoused the burial and resurrection of the same, unchanged, living body. This makes no sense in the futurist framework, but we shall see below that it makes perfect sense in Paul’s preterist framework.
We see again that the resurrection body was a given, in verse 46: But the spiritual [body] was not first, but the natural [body], then the spiritual [body].
No one at Corinth needed to be convinced of the coming “spiritual body . . . that shall be” (1 Cor. 15:37), or of the “hope” of the raising up of Christians, whether dead (“asleep”) or living (1 Cor. 15:19), or of the coming kingdom of God (1 Cor. 15:50). They needed only to be convinced that there was a “natural body” that came first, and that it had to be put to death and “changed” into the differentspiritual body.”
The Dead
Let us now look at one more inference we must make from Paul’s arguments—an inference that will begin to allow us to undo the confusion of the futurist interpretation of 1 Corinthians 15. Verse 35:
How are the dead raised? And with what body do they come?
As this verse implies, the resurrection-of-the-dead deniers could not fathom the possibility of the resurrection of the dead. They could not so much as conceive of “how”the dead” could have a “body” with which they could be raised. The very idea was beyond their capability to believe.[2]
As we have seen, those who were in error at Corinth believed in the historic resurrection of Christ and in the “sowing” of the “spiritual body” and the resurrection of the same “spiritual body.” They looked forward to the fulfillment of the “hope” that all Christians, living and asleep, would be raised with the spiritual body in the kingdom of God. Yet at the same time, according to verse 35, we see that those who were in error at Corinth were unable to conceive of the feasibility of the bodily resurrection of the dead.
How can this be? In the futurist paradigm, this simply “does not compute,” and the exegetical dilemma is mind-bogglingly insoluble. The blinders of futurism have thus made it impossible for interpreters to make sense of all of 1 Corinthians 15. The result has been that, through a time-honored exegetical haze, futurism has unwittingly transformed the resurrection-of-the-dead deniers into veritable madmen.
There is no doubt that the resurrection-of-the-dead deniers were ignorant and foolish regarding the resurrection of the dead, but it is not reasonable to portray them as thinking in insanely contradictory propositions, i.e., believing in the reality of resurrection and at the same time being unable to conceive of the very possibility of resurrection. The resurrection-of-the-dead deniers had no rational reason to reject the believability, imaginability, thinkability, or feasibility of a biological resurrection of the flesh. Therefore, what they denied—and what Paul was defending—was something else.
Those who were in error at Corinth were denying neither the existence of, nor the futurity of, nor the somatic (bodily) character of the resurrection. They believed in the future body-resurrection of Christians. Yet at the same time, they denied the resurrection of “the dead” because they could not conceive of the possibility of the dead having a body with which they could rise. This means that the resurrection-ofthe-dead deniers were not denying the bodily resurrection of everyone, but were denying only the possibility that certain people other than Christians—“the dead”—were participating in the resurrection of the body.
“The dead” in 1 Corinthians 15 were, in contrast to dead Christians, Hadean saints (1 Cor. 15:55). They were, as Paul says, those “out from among” whom Christ had been raised (1 Cor. 15:12, 20). Christ did not rise “out from among” dead, Spirit-indwelt Christians. “The dead” were the saints who had lived and died, not in Christ, but “in Adam” (1 Cor. 15:22), before Christ. They were those who were “asleep” (1 Cor. 15:20), in contrast to those who had “fallen asleep in Christ” (1 Cor. 15:18).
They were none other than the pre-Christian saints;[3] which inescapably means they were primarily and for the most part those who lived within the Abrahamic community of historic covenant Israel.[4]
Buried Alive
Let us look again at 1 Corinthians 15:36:
. . . That which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die.
As I mentioned above, Paul teaches in this verse that the body is first sown (planted, buried, or entombed), and then it dies in order that it can be raised a changed body. If Paul was teaching a biological resurrection of the dead, then we must admit that he was saying that only physical bodies that have first been buried alive and have then been put to death underground can be raised to eternal physical life on Resurrection Day.
Futurism has thus created an absurdity and a contradiction in verse 36. The absurdity is the teaching that only physical bodies that have been buried alive can be resurrected. The contradiction is the idea that physical death is a prerequisite to being resurrected. This contradicts verse 51, where Paul said that the physically living would be “made alive” (resurrected) and changed along with the physically dead (cf. verse 22).
No one believes that Paul was teaching that living physical bodies must be physically buried, and that the physically buried bodies must then physically die underground in order that the physically buried-and-dead bodies can then be physically resurrected and changed. Although that is definitely what Paul’s words say in the futurist framework, no futurist accepts this meaning. Instead, most interpreters apply themselves to Herculean efforts to making the verse make sense in the futurist framework.
Their time, however, would be better spent finding Paul’s meaning, letting him say what he says, rather than making his words conform to the futurist paradigm. To find Paul’s meaning, we need only find where in Scripture Paul elaborated on the doctrine of a human “body” that had to be sown/planted/entombed and concurrently put to death, in order that it could be made alive and changed in the resurrection of the dead. This takes us to Romans 6-8, Colossians 2, and Philippians 3.
In these Scriptures, especially in Romans 6, Paul teaches that believers had been bodilyplanted,” through Spirit-baptism, into death / into the death of Christ, in order that the body that had been planted/buried (the “body of Sin,” the “mortal body,” the “body of Death,” the “body of the sins of the flesh,” the “vile body”) would be abolished / put to death, and then be made alive and changed/conformed to the image of the Son of God in the kingdom of heaven. Note the order: Burial then death.
This sequence in Romans 6 is exactly, step by step, what Paul teaches concerning the resurrection of the body in 1 Cor. 15:36-37 and its context. Romans 6-8 and 1 Corinthians 15 both speak of concurrent bodyburial and body-death, followed by consummated body-death, bodyresurrection, and body-change. Futurist assumptions notwithstanding, there is no doubt that 1 Corinthians 15 and Romans 6-8 are speaking of the same burial, death, resurrection, and change—and therefore of the same body.
The Body
What then is “the body” that was being put to death in Romans 6-8 and 1 Corinthians 15? What is the meaning of the word “body” in these contexts? Essentially, or basically, the “body” is the “self” or “person/personality” or “individual,” whether that of a singular saint or of the singular church universal (the body of Christ). According to definition 1b of the word σωμα (body) in Arndt and Gingrich’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, the word “body” in Paul’s writings is sometimes “almost synonymous with the whole personality . . . σώματα [bodies] = themselves.”[5]
Note how that “body” and “yourselves” are used interchangeably in Romans 6:12-13:
Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting your members [of your mortal body] to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members [of your mortal body] as instruments of righteousness to God.
Compare also 1 Corinthians 6:15 and 12:27, where “you” and “your bodies” are synonymous:
. . . your bodies are members of Christ . . . . (1 Cor. 6:15)
. . . you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it. (1 Cor. 12:27)
See also Ephesians 5:28, where a man’s body-union with his wife is equated with “himself”:
So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself.
However, the word “body,” when it is used in reference to the eschatological resurrection, means more than merely the “self.” Paul is not using the word as a common reference to “the whole person.” It does not refer to man’s anthropological wholeness (i.e., Material body+soul+spirit=the body). Paul is using the word in a theologicaleschatological sense to describe God’s people as they are defined either by the wholeness/fullness (body) of Adamic Sin and Death or the wholeness/fullness (body) of Christ. The body is either the “person” united with Sin and Death, or the “person” united with Christ, whether individually or corporately.
We can begin to see this in Colossians 3:5 (KJV), where the body parts (members) of the Sin-body are not arms and legs or other physical limbs. The members of the “earthly body” were death-producing “deeds,” such as “fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness . . . ” (cf. Rom. 8:13). Thus John Calvin wrote in his commentary on Romans 6:6: “The body of sin . . . does not mean flesh and bones, but the corrupted mass . . . of sin.” Since a body is the sum of its parts, and since the parts of the Sin-body are sins/sinful deeds, it follows that “the body of Sin” is not the physical aspect of man. Instead, the whole of the sins/deeds of the body equals the body of Sin. Or more accurately, the body of Sin was God’s people as they were identified with and defined by the Sin-reviving, Sin-increasing, Death-producing world of the Law.
When Paul said that believers were no longer walking according to “the flesh” (Rom. 8:1, 4, 9), he was saying that believers were putting to death the deeds of the “body” (Rom. 8:10-11, 13). The parts/members of the body equaled the deeds of “the body,” which equaled the walk of “the flesh.”   “Flesh” and “body” in this context, therefore, describe man as he was defined by Sin, not man as he was defined by material body parts.
In Colossians 2:11, Paul said that God had buried believers with Christ, raised them up with Him, and had removed “the body of the flesh.” “The body of the flesh” was not the physical body. It was the Adamic man/self/person that had been dead in transgressions and in the spiritual uncircumcision of his “flesh” (Col. 2:13). That “body” (or as Ridderbos puts it, that “sinful mode of existence”)[6] had been “removed” in Christ and was soon to be changed into the glorious, resurrected “body” of Christ.
As a comparison of Colossians 2:11 and Colossians 3:9 reveals, “the body” of Sin is virtually synonymous with “the old man”:
. . . the putting off of the body of the sins of the flesh . . . . (Col. 2:11)
. . . having put off the old man with his practices (Col. 3:9; cf. Eph. 4:22)
Compare also 1 Corinthians 15:42 with Ephesians 4:22:
[The body] is sown in corruption . . . . (1 Cor. 15:42)
. . . the old man being corrupted . . . . (Eph. 4:22)
Compare also the references to “man” and “body” in Romans 7:24:
Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from this body of Death?
And in Romans 6:6:
Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. (Rom. 6:6)
And in 1 Corinthians 15:44, 45:
. . . There is a natural body [the old man], and there is a spiritual body [the new Man]. And so it is written, the first [old] man [the natural body] Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam [the last Man, the spiritual body] a quickening spirit.
Since the natural body is nearly synonymous with the old man, we should expect that the spiritual body is nearly synonymous with “the new man,” the Lord Jesus Christ. Compare 1 Corinthians 15:53-54 with Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10 and Romans 13:14:
For this perishable [body] must put on the imperishable [body] . . . . (1 Cor. 15:53-54)
and put on the new man [the spiritual body], which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. (Eph. 4:24) and have put on the new man [the spiritual body] who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him. (Col. 3:10)
But put on the Lord Jesus Christ [the new man, the spiritual body], and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts. (Rom. 13:14)
As most futurists agree, “the old man” and “the new man” are not expressions that describe man in terms of physicality. “The old man” was man as he was in Adam, alienated from God and dead in Sin. He was “the body of Sin.” The new Man is man as he is reconciled to God in Christ, the lifegiving Spiritual Body.
The World-Body
Note that in Colossians 2:11-14, believers had been bodily buried and bodily raised with Christ, but it was the “handwriting in ordinances” that God had crucified. In Romans 6:6, it was “the old man” that had been crucified. In Galatians 5:24, it was “the flesh” that had been crucified.
And in Galatians 6:14, it was “the world” that had been crucified. These verses together demonstrate the “cosmic” dimension of the Pauline, eschatological “body.” The Spirit was not merely changing hearts and lives of individuals; He was changing the “world-body” of Adam/Moses (Israel as it was defined by the earthly temple-system of Law-Sin-Death) into the world-body of Christ.
Thus it is in 2 Corinthians 5 that the soon-to-be-destroyed “mortal . . . body” is equal to the “earthly [made-with-hands] house of the tabernacle” (2 Cor. 5:1, 4, 6, 10), i.e., the old covenant world. The “house,” or world, of the man-made temple of God was “the mortal . . . body” that had been buried with Christ, and that was being put to death, and that was soon to be clothed with the heavenly/spiritual body of Christ.
Though all believers were individually “putting on Christ” in anticipation of the Last Day (Rom. 13:11-14), believers were not doing this merely as a collective of individuals. They were together, through the power of God, putting on (becoming clothed with) the Lord Jesus Christ who is Himself the Tabernacle/House/Body of God from out of heaven. They were being changed into the cosmic New Man—the “body” of God Himself.
Through the indwelling Holy Spirit,

  • the mortal body of Sin and Death (The Adamic-Mosaic world),
  • the old man/humanity and,
  • the flesh had been sown/planted/buried and were being put to death through

the eschatological work of the Holy Spirit, and were being raised

  • the body of the triune God (“that God may be All in all”),
  • the new Man and
  • spirit (that which is spiritual; that which is of the Spirit),

i.e., the habitation of

  • the Father,
  • the Son and
  • the Holy Spirit

The consummated change took place when the world of the handmade city and sanctuary (the body of Sin and Death) was thrown down, and the heavenly/spiritual city and sanctuary (the body of Christ) were established “among men” in AD 70 (Heb. 9:8).
Through the indwelling of the Spirit, the church’s body of Sin and Death (its old, pre-Christ world-identity; the fleshly, Adamic “man” or self) was buried into the death of Christ. It was put to death, having been buried with Him through the without-hands baptism of the Holy Spirit into the dead-to-sin body of Christ. Believers had thus been “bodily” buried together into body-death, and their body-life was hid with the soon-to-be-revealed Savior of the Adamic world (Rom. 6:11, 13; Phil. 3:10; Col. 3:3).
The two contrasting and co-existing eschatological bodystates in Paul’s epistles (the concurrent dying and rising and changing of “the body” that had been buried) depended on neither physicality nor nonphysicality.[7] They depended on the saints’ relationship to Sin or to Christ. They depended on whether one was in Adam (under the dominion of Sin and Death) or in Christ (under grace and indwelt by the life-giving Spirit).
The elect before Christ were the body of Sin and Death in that they had been incorporated into Sin and Death in Adam. They were wholly defined, constituted, organized, systematized, and comprehended in (i.e., indwelled by and “clothed with”) Adamic Sin and Death through the curse of the commandment of God. They were both individually and collectively the embodiment (the body) of Sin and Death.
But in the new world in Christ, through faith in His shed blood, all of His saints in heaven (non-physical) and on earth (physical) are the cosmic embodiment, “fullness,” and habitation of the triune God. The fulfillment of the resurrection of “the body” in AD 70 brought into being the universal communion of all the saints (old covenant and new covenant) in the one, spiritual body (Christ Himself). This is what the resurrection-of-the-dead deniers denied would take place. They denied the death and resurrection with Christ of the natural body (the preChristian world of God’s people) and its change/transformation into the universal (Christian and pre-Christian), spiritual body of Christ.
The Universality19 of the Resurrection (1 Cor. 15:20-28)
In denying the resurrection of the pre-Christian saints, or of old covenant Israel, the resurrection-of-the-dead deniers were denying not the fact of the resurrection, but the “all-ness” of the resurrection and the “all-ness” of Christ’s atoning work. They denied that Christ had died for “all,” and therefore they denied that “all” would be raised. Though they agreed with Paul that Christ had died for “our” (the eschatological church’s) sins
(1 Cor. 15:3, 11), they denied that Christ had died for the sins of “the dead.”
Contrary to their doctrine, the resurrection of Christ was not the begin-
ing either material or immaterial.” The Body, John A. T. Robinson (SCM Press Ltd., Bloomsbury Street London, 1966), 32. Reformed theologians Ridderbos and Holland acknowledge that some of Robinson’s exegeses are flawed, but they endorse the substance of his insights on “the body.” I cite Robinson here in the same spirit.

  1. When I use the terms “universal” and “universality,” I am not referring to any form of “Universalism.” I am referring to the trans-historical assembly of the saints of all generations, from Adam to AD 70, or from Adam to the present day.

ning of the resurrection of the last days church only. It was also the beginning of the resurrection of the great cloud of saints (“the dead”/“them that slept”) who had come and gone before the advent of the last days church. Christ became the “First Fruits” of the eschatological church and of the Hadean saints “out from among” whom He had been raised (1 Cor. 15:55; Rev. 1:5). His resurrection was the beginning of the resurrection of “all” the saints who were “in Adam” (1 Cor. 15:20), not merely of the eschatological church. As all the saints, Christian and pre-Christian, had been condemned and alienated from God (i.e., had died) in Adam through Sin (Gen. 2:17; Rom. 7:9), so “all[8] were going to be raised up in “the Christ,” the second “Man” (or the second Humanity), the Savior of “the world” (1 Cor. 15:21-22). Because Christians were “of Christ,” and because Christ was the First Fruit of the resurrection (1 Cor. 15:23), Christians were, in Him, “first fruits” of the resurrection (James 1:18; Rev. 14:4), so that Christ was “the First Fruits” of “the first fruits.”[9] The resurrection of Christians “in His Parousia,” therefore, was not to be the consummation of the life-giving reign of Christ (1 Cor. 15:22-24), as the resurrection-of-the-dead deniers supposed. The eschatological church’s resurrection in “Christ the First Fruits” was instead the beginning of the end of the resurrection-harvest, and was to be followed by “the end,”[10] or “consummation,” which was the resurrection of the dead, i.e., the death of Death (the abolition of the alienation of God’s people from Him)—when “all” the elect became the habitation of the lifegiving Spirit through the gospel (Jn. 5:25; 1 Cor. 15:24-28; Rev. 20:5-6).
Christ, through the Holy Spirit, was not reigning in the Spirit-indwelt, eschatological church merely so that the church by itself would attain unto the resurrection and inherit the kingdom. He was reigning in the church so that the historic kingdom would, in Him, be universalized” in and brought under the rule of “the God and Father” of “all” the saints (1 Cor. 15:24). The Adamic saints were not going to be left unredeemed from the “rule,” “authority,” and “power” of Satan, Sin, Death, and Condemnation. Rather, the Father was going to place all those kingdom-enemies under the feet of Christ, and Christ was going to “abolish,” or “annul,” them all.
He was already in process of abolishing the last and greatest kingdom-enemy, Death itself, through the kingdom-transforming, kingdom-universalizing work of the Cross and the indwelling Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 15:26). “All things” (or literally, “the All Things,” the cosmic body of Sin and Death) were going to be subjected to Christ, and changed (Phil. 3:21) in the Father, by the power of the Father, and under the authority of the Father, so that all of the enemies would be done away; so that all of the Father’s elect (from Adam to AD 70) would be made alive in Christ; so that the universal church would become the habitation of the triune God, so that He would become “All Things in all” (1 Cor. 15:28).
If the Resurrection is not Universal (1 Cor. 15:12-19; 29-34)
The Son did not come to set up His own new religion that excluded the historic saints who had worshiped the Father in the Adamic ages. To the contrary, the Son was sent by the Father and under the authority of the Father for the purpose of restoring “all” the elect to the Father, to “universalize” the Father’s dominion. Unbeknownst to the resurrectionof-the-dead deniers, if Christ had come to save only the eschatological church and to exclude the pre-Christian world, this would have left only two possibilities. Either:

  1. Christ would be the conqueror of the God of the pre-Christian world, and the Father would be put in subjection under the feet of the Son (1 Cor. 15:27).[11]

Or

  1. Christ was not sent to accomplish the Father’s cosmos-saving work; therefore the Father had never raised Him from the dead, and the gospel was a lie, and Christianity was merely a man-made religion.

Of these two possibilities, Paul countered the first in passing (1 Cor. 15:27), but rigorously pursued the implications of the second. As we know, many at Corinth were living as though the second possibility was the truth.
As Paul reasoned: If Christ did not come to accomplish the Father’s work of restoration (Isa. 55:11), to gather and unite “all” (Christian and pre-Christian) who were chosen in the Father from before the world began, then Christ was not of the Father. Then neither the doctrine of the resurrection of Christ nor the resurrection-hope of the eschatological church was true or valid. Then Paul and the other apostolic preachers were liars, and Christ did not die for the sins of the eschatological church, and the Father never raised Him from the dead (1 Cor. 15:3-4, 11, 13-16).
Consequently, Christ was not reigning. Therefore no one had been born of the Spirit that proceeded from the Father. Then the gospel was vain, and the faith of believers was vain (1 Cor. 15:14, 17). Then no one had been saved and empowered by the grace of God either to preach the gospel or to believe it (1 Cor. 15:1-2, 5-8, 10-11).
Christians were, then, still in their sins, and those who had fallen asleep in Christ had died in their sins (1 Cor. 15:17-18). Then the resurrection-hope that believers had in Christ was false (1 Cor. 15:19). Then those Christians who were undergoing baptism (Spirit-led suffering and death) on behalf of the dead (1 Cor. 15:29; Matt. 20:23; 23:34-35; Luke 12:50; Heb. 11:40; Rev. 6:9-11) were in reality suffering for nothing more than a man-invented delusion. They were not being led by the Spirit but were instead going to a hopeless, meaningless death.
Moreover then, the apostles were fighting with “beasts” (enemies of the gospel) and were standing in jeopardy every hour, dying daily, not to change the world of God’s people, but for absolutely nothing, because
of Israel and His law) was the root error of the doctrine that would later be known as Gnosticism.
their gospel sufferings were not being wrought through the cosmosresurrecting, cosmos-changing power of the indwelling eschatological Spirit, but through the power of mere man (1 Cor. 15:30-32).
If the gospel was a lie and there was no God-ordained, worldchanging need of dying daily through the Spirit, of suffering hardships, humiliations and dangers, then the apostles should logically have lived as the arrogant, carnal Corinthians themselves were living (I Cor. 4:8). They should have rejected their humiliating sufferings for the gospel and put off dying for some other day (“tomorrow”) (1 Cor. 15:32-34).
In the end, the whole church, following the apostles and the Corinthians, would have forsaken the shame of the Cross of Christ and escaped the eschatological sufferings to which it had been called. All believers would have lived in the status quo of the old world. Though the resurrection-of-the-dead deniers did not know it, this was the practical, church-corrupting result of their dead-excluding error. This is why it was urgent for them to “awake righteously” from out of their shameful and sinful ignorance of God.
Contrary to the resurrection error, believers were being called to “die” for (on behalf of) “all” (the whole “creation”/“body” of God’s people). The church’s eschatological death and resurrection with Christ was for the purpose of bringing about the transformation of the preChrist world of the saints (“all Israel”). Though the resurrection-of-thedead deniers were unaware of it, their doctrine was implicitly opposed to the cosmic gospel-purpose of the Father.
The first-fruits church, through the indwelling Spirit of the reigning Christ, was putting to death the Adamic world-body of Death itself (alienation from the Father) through the newly-revealed gospel of God. Through the Death-destroying, Life-giving, “man”-changing power of the gospel of the death and resurrection of Christ, the fleshly, Adamic “man” or “body” or “creation”—the whole world-system of the dominion of Sin and Death—was being put to death and “abolished.” It was that body which would soon be raised up and “changed” (in AD 70) into the new, Christological, spiritual “body” in the kingdom of God (the new covenant world).
The Seed Analogy (1 Cor. 15:35-50)
Paul’s illustrations from nature in verses 36-41 are problematic if they are interpreted as arguments that are aimed at someone who denies the very possibility of resurrection. How does the fact that sheep differ from sparrows serve in any way to validate the doctrine of resurrection for someone who does not believe in the very concept of resurrection? How does it serve to make the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead imaginable or feasible (345)? It doesn’t.[12][13]
The difficulty with Paul’s words concerning the bodies/fleshes/glories of creation vanishes only when we let it sink into our minds that Paul was reasoning with people who already believed in the eschatological, body-resurrection of Christians. The resurrection-of-the-dead deniers would have already agreed that a seed rising up to become a plant illustrates the truth of resurrection. And that is why Paul used the analogy. The fact of resurrection was common ground between Paul and the resurrection-of-the-dead deniers.
Paul therefore made reference to the universal death and change of seeds,[14] not to demonstrate the already-agreed-upon fact of resurrection, but to demonstrate the following four things that those who were in error at Corinth were denying:

  1. The necessity of the death of the pre-resurrection body (1 Cor. 15:36)
  2. The differentness of the pre- and post-resurrection bodies (1 Cor. 15:37)
  3. The necessity of the change of the pre-resurrection body (1 Cor. 15:38a)
  4. The universality of the pre-resurrection body and the postresurrection body (1 Cor. 15:38b)

After establishing these premises through the common-ground analogy of the “resurrection” of seeds, Paul went on to reference the whole of the material universe, because insofar as it is filled with innumerable, different bodies—just like the multitudes of different kinds of seeds and plants in verse 38b—it confirms the universality of the two different bodies (the existence of which Paul established in the seed analogy itself).
The universal diversity of the Genesis creation served as an analogy of the cosmos-changing work of the gospel. As the whole Genesis creation is filled with differing bodies (fleshes, glories), so the whole “creation” (the body) of God’s chosen ones in Adam, living and dead, “from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other,” was going to put off the old “body” of Sin and Death (the Adamic, mortal, corruptible, dishonorable, weak, and natural “old man”), and was going to be “clothed” with the wholly otherbody of Christ” (the immortal, incorruptible, glorious, powerful, and spiritual new Man; the Christological “new creation”) (Matt. 24:31; 1 Cor. 15:42-44).
The resurrection-of-the-dead deniers thought that the eschatological church was an altogether separate entity from the Adamic, old covenant world. They thought that the body of Christ essentially appeared out of nowhere, as it were, absolutely disconnected from the world that preceded it. They thought the eschatological church was buried the spiritual body and that it was going to be raised the same spiritual body on the Last Day.
The reality though was that the eschatological church was itself in the mortal, corruptible, dishonorable, weak, and natural “body” of the pre-Christ saints. It was still bearing “the image of the earthy” (1 Cor. 15:49), not in a biological sense, but in a cosmic-covenantal sense. God’s old covenant ministration of Death and Condemnation still stood, and God’s church was still an organic part of that world-order. It was therefore still in the body of Sin and Death, and was putting that body to death through the Spirit.
The pre-Christian, Adamic saints existed in a state of “mortality” in that they did not yet have consummated eternal life, redemption, and face-to-face union with God (Rom. 8:23; 1 Cor. 13:12; 1 Jn. 2:25; Rev. 22:4). They were in a state of “corruptibility[15] in that they did not yet have the incorruptible, “eternal righteousness” of Christ (Dan. 9:24). They were in a state of “dishonor” in that they were not yet clothed with the glory of the new covenant in Christ’s justifying blood (Rom. 4:24; 2 Cor. 3:7-18). They were in a state of “weakness” in that, as long as the condemning old covenant world remained standing, they had not yet inherited eternal life (cf. 1 Cor. 6:14; Heb. 7:6; 1 Jn. 2:25). They were “natural” in that they had not yet been made the spiritual dwelling of the triune God (Jn. 14:23).
Before Christ, the saints bore the image of Adam, the disobedient one. They were unable to attain to heavenly life (1 Cor. 15:45, 48-49). Their sins had grounded them in the mundane, the worldly, the carnal, the “corruptible.” Their worship of God consisted in earthly types, shadows, and copies of the heavenly. Their fellowship with God was not face to face, but was through the agency of sinful, earthly mediators. Their sacrifices were reminders of sin. They were separated from the Father.
They were under the reign of Sin and Death.
Through its body-burial and body-death with Christ, the church was putting to death that old, corruptible “world” or “body” or “creation” or “man” through the sin-killing Spirit on behalf of the dead. In the consummation of the Spirit’s work in the church, the body of God’s people, living and dead (“all Israel”), was going to be redeemed, changed, and gathered together into the eternal, spiritual kingdom of Christ.
This is the “knowledge of God” of which the resurrection-of-thedead deniers were woefully ignorant. Because they thought that the eschatological church, to the exclusion of “the dead,” was “the body [of Christ] that shall be,” they could not grasp “how” the saints of old could be resurrected with the church. Here is an expanded paraphrase of their objection in verse 35:
“We, the eschatological church, are the blood-bought body that has been sown (planted, buried) with Christ through the Holy Spirit in order that we might be raised with Him to inherit the kingdom of God. The saints of old lived and died before Christ arrived. They have not been sown (planted/buried) with Him, as we have. There is no resurrection outside of Christ’s body, and we are His body. Therefore, the dead have no part in the resurrection body. How then are the dead being raised with us? If your doctrine is true Paul, then answer this question: With what body are the dead being raised?”[16]Paul’s answer (verses 36-37):
“The dead are being raised through the burial and death of the body of Sin, of which we are still a part (since the old covenant world has not yet vanished). The dead, therefore, are being raised through our (the last-days, first-fruit church’s) dying to Sin (the burial and death of the Adamic ‘body’ with Christ) on their behalf, and they will therefore be ‘changed’ with us into the resurrected, spiritual body of Christ in the new covenant world.
“Look at your own experience for confirmation of this truth. When you yourselves are planting a seed (as God has planted us with Christ) you are not planting the tree that will be. Likewise, God did not plant the ‘spiritual body’ of the age to come in order that the same ‘spiritual body’ will emerge. That is not God’s purpose. The Christological resurrection-body is not what has been sown/buried. It is not we alone who shall be raised. Rather, it is the Adamic ‘natural body’ that has been ‘sown’ with Christ, through the Spirit in us, so that the ‘natural body’ (the dead together with the last-days-of-the-Adamic-ages church—the whole Adamic ‘man’) is now being raised up and
changed’/‘transformed’ into the spiritual body of Christ.”
The objection of the resurrection-of-the-dead deniers was not biological; it was theological. Though they understood that the eschatological church had been “buried” with Christ through the Sin-killing work of the Holy Spirit in order that the church would be raised up on the Last Day, they erroneously thought that the church had been buried so that the church alone would be raised up on the Last Day. Thus Paul’s corrections in verse 44 (KJV):
. . . [T]here is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
That is, there was not a spiritual body only, as the resurrection-ofthe-dead deniers supposed.
And in verse 46:
Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.
The spiritual body did not appear out of nowhere, as the resurrection-of-the-dead deniers imagined. Rather, the pre-existing “natural body” was being raised up and transformed into the “spiritual body.”
The reality that the resurrection-of-the-dead deniers did not apprehend was that the eschatological church was in a state of Adamic bodyunion (solidarity, interdependence) with “the dead,” and it therefore stood in need of a universal body-change. The church was not merely the new man and the spiritual body. It was the dying old man; the dying body of Sin and Death.
It was not the case that the Old Testament saints would be replaced by the body of Christ. Instead, the body of Sin had to die through the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and be raised, and be changed by the same Spirit (Heb. 11:40). The church could not be saved by itself. The church was bearing the image of “the first man” and was in process of being transformed, on behalf of the dead and with the dead, into the image of “the Christ” (Rom. 8:29; 1 Cor. 15:45-49; 2 Cor. 3:18).
Without the death and universal change of “the body” through the power of the eschatological Spirit, not so much as one Christian could be made alive in the Father. The resurrection in Christ was to be cosmos-wide, or not at all. The whole world of God’s people had to be transformed.
The eschatological church thus stood in need of the consummated world-change from the “flesh-and-blood” world-body of “corruption” (sub-divine righteousness) to the “spiritual,” Christological body of incorruptible and eternal righteousness in the new covenant world (1 Cor. 15:50). If that change did not take place when the temple fell in AD 70, then Christ was never raised from the dead, the gospel was a lie, and all Christians were and are without hope. Either the eschatological church and “the dead” were changed and God became All Things in “all,” or Christ was never raised, and the church remains in her sins, and the world-body of the hand-made temple of God maintains its standing before God today.
The Universal Change (1 Cor. 15:51-58)
The coming transformation of God’s covenant-universe (dead and living, Jew and Gentile) through the gospel of the death and resurrection of the body of Christ was the “mystery” that had been kept secret since the world began. It was the mystery that the resurrection-of-the-dead deniers failed to grasp. “The dead” and the eschatological church were going to be made alive together in Christ and were going to be united in the Father. “All things . . . in the heavens and things upon the earth” were going to be summed up in Christ (Rom. 11:15, 25-26; 16:15; 1 Cor. 2:7; Eph. 1:9-10; 3:6-10; Col. 1:26-27).
The world-change, or body-change, took place and the “mystery” was fulfilled before Paul’s generation passed away (1 Cor 15:51). The sounding of the symbolic “last trumpet[17] took place when the worldly city and sanctuary fell in AD 70 (Rev. 10:7; 11:2, 8; cf. Heb. 9:8). When that old “house” fell and the old Adamic “garment” was folded up and “changed,” the dead were raised and all the elect were “clothed” with the body of Christ in the new covenant world (Heb. 1:10–12). “All” put off the old man (Adamic Sin) and “put on” the new Man (the righteousness of Christ). “All” God’s people were “clothed with” the tabernacle/body of the triune God.
When the old garment was removed and the house of the old covenant was thrown down, believers were not found “naked,” nor left “unclothed” or homeless for even the indiscernible “moment” of “the twinkling of an eye,” as would have been the case if there was no resurrection of the dead and consequently no world-change (Rev. 3:17-18; 16:15; 17:16). If there was no resurrection, then the fall of the city and the sanctuary would have been the death knell for Christians just as much as it was for unbelieving Jews. Indeed, it would have been the death knell for humanity. But because the dead were raised and the cosmos of God’s people was transformed in Christ, believers were clothed in AD 70 with the Christological, new covenant house from out of heaven (Col. 2:2; Heb. 1:12; 8:13; Rev. 16:15).
Death (condemnation and alienation from God) was deprived of its sting, which was Sin, when Sin was finally sealed up, covered over, and done away in the consummation of the Adamic/Mosaic ages through the power of Christ’s death and resurrection. This happened when Christ appeared the second time in AD 70, having consummated His high-priestly work of atonement (Lev. 16). This is when He swept away the old covenant world of Sin, Death, condemnation, and alienation and changed the universal church into the completed, anointed, Most Holy Place of God Himself (Rev. 21:2, 16; Heb. 3:6, 9:6-8).
Sin was deprived of its power, which was the Law of Moses, when through the power of the Cross, the Law came to its end in AD 70. That is when the Law-covenant (the ministration of Death and Condemnation) vanished[18] (Heb. 8:13) and “all things” in earth and in heaven (“all” the saints, living and dead) were reconciled to God (Col. 1:20).
When all these things were consummated, the corruptible and mortal Adamic body “put on” the incorruptible and immortal body of Christ (1 Cor. 15:53). The old, corruptible house (the old covenant world) fell.
The new, eternal house (the New Jerusalem) came down from out of heaven. The church and the Hadean saints were raised up and united in the one body of Christ, and were irrevocably and gloriously “changed” into the “perfect” tabernacle of God.
Thus, through the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ, God gave His church the eschatological, cosmos-transforming victory of faith over Sin, Death, and the Law. Her gospel labors in Him bore world-transforming fruit. Reigning with the risen “Christ of God,” her worldburying, world-destroying, world-resurrecting, and world-changing labors were consummated in the AD-70 realization of the hope of Israel —in the universal gathering of “all” the saints, living and dead, in “the God and Father of all” (1 Cor. 15:57-58). Thus was the beginning of the Christian age, “a dispensation more divine than many are disposed to think.”[19]
Summary and Conclusion
The resurrection-of-the-dead deniers believed the following: The eschatological church was the “spiritual body” of Christ that had been buried with Christ and which was being raised up the same spiritual body of Christ. There was no “natural body” involved in the church’s resurrection with Christ. There was no body-union between the church and the pre-Christian saints (“the dead”). The dead were not going to be included in the resurrection and the kingdom. God, through the indwelling Spirit, had “sown,” or “buried,” the spiritual body of Christ (the church) so that the church by itself (to the exclusion of the dead) would be resurrected unchanged (still the same spiritual body of Christ that it was when it was buried with Christ) in the consummation.
If there was no resurrection of the Old Testament dead, these were the undesired results:

  1. God did not raise Christ from the dead.
  2. The eyewitnesses of the resurrected Christ were liars.
  3. The preaching of the apostles was vain.
  4. The faith of Christians was vain.
  5. Christians were still in their sins.
  6. Christians who had fallen asleep had died in their sins (perished).
  7. The persecuted apostles were to be pitied more than all men.
  8. Christians who were being martyred for the dead were doing so for nothing.
  9. Christians were battling the enemies of the gospel by merely human power.
  10. Christians should have forsaken their sufferings and lived mundane lives.
  11. Christians would not be able to inherit the kingdom of God.
  12. Christians would remain under the curse of Sin, Death, and the Law.
  13. Christians would remain clothed with corruption, mortality, dishonor, and weakness, and would remain natural.

Here is why those results necessarily followed from the denial of the resurrection of the Old Testament dead:
God raised Christ from the dead not so that the natural Adamic body (the people of God in their Adamic state of Sin and Death) would be replaced by the spiritual body of Christ (the church). The Father raised the Son from the dead so that the Adamic body would be buried, put to death, resurrected, and transformed into the universal body of Christ. The eschatological church was not in a separate body from the Adamic dead. It was part of the natural, corruptible, dishonorable, and weak Adamic body, and was putting that body to death through the Spirit on behalf of the dead.
Apart from the creation-wide “body-change” of “all” the elect from Adam to the Last Day in AD 70, there could be no resurrection-life for any Christian. The church could not inherit the kingdom of God unless the whole universe of God’s people was resurrected and changed together. This was the cosmic scope and purpose of the Cross of Christ. This is what those who were in error at Corinth did not understand.
Though futurists today do not realize it, they are, in principle, unknowing followers of the resurrection-of-the-dead deniers at Corinth. Futurists believe that the church (the body of Christ) has been spiritually resurrected and seated with Christ in the spiritual kingdom for 2,000 years now, but that the pre-Christian (Old Testament) dead have not yet been resurrected into that kingdom. Though many futurists inconsistently believe that the Old Testament saints were released from Hades between Jesus’ death and resurrection (contradicting the timeframe of Rev. 20:14), they do not hold that those saints have been “resurrected” into the kingdom. As anti-preterist Strimple teaches (in contrast to anti-premillennial Strimple), physically dead people cannot experience a resurrection and remain physically dead.
Though futurists certainly do not deny the resurrection of the dead, they unwittingly teach a “short circuit” in the cosmic gospel-purpose of the Father when they teach that God gave the spiritual kingdom to the church on Earth, but has put off “resurrecting” the Old Testament dead into the kingdom until 2,000+ years later.
This “gap” between Christians and “the [Old Testament] dead” is not a biblical option. As Paul argued, either the dead and the church would inherit the kingdom together, or no one could inherit the kingdom at all. Either all the elect, the church and the dead, were made alive (resurrected) together in Christ in the end of the old covenant age, or all the elect remained dead in Adam (cf. 1 Thess. 5:10). In other words, either all the saints were resurrected in AD 70, or none were resurrected, not even Christ. There is no other possibility.
Therefore, as with the error at Corinth, the undesired implication of the doctrine of a yet-future resurrection of the dead is that Christ has not been raised and that our faith is vain and that we are still in our sins. Futurism is not a damnable doctrine, just as the error at Corinth was not a damnable doctrine. Nevertheless, futurism, with its parousiadelay and resurrection-delay, shares implications with the Corinthian error which, if followed through logically, ultimately serve to destroy the Faith. If Paul were alive today, it is possible that he would say to futurists what he said to his Corinthian brethren, and for essentially the same reason:
. . . [S]ome have ignorance of God. I speak this to your shame.
(1 Cor. 15:34)

[1] . Those who hold to “the collective body view” of 1 Corinthians 15 believe that the root error at Corinth was a radical kind of “replacement theology,” i.e., a disdain for Israel and a denial that historical Israel would take part with the church in the resurrection and in the kingdom of God. While that interpretation of the error at Corinth may be entirely correct, I am not convinced that it is provable that the resurrection-of-the-dead deniers had antiIsrael or anti-Semitic sentiments (though their error was certainly implicitly antagonistic to God’s historic covenant nation). For this reason, I confine my-
[2] . Charles Hill is therefore incorrect when he says: “It is not that the Corinthians could not comprehend what Paul was talking about; rather, one party in Corinth, comprehending all too well what Paul had in mind, did not find it to their liking and were opposing it.” (104)
[3] . When we consider that 1 Corinthians was written a mere twenty-five years after the beginning of Christianity, and when we consider that the eschatological, first-fruits church was already partaking of the coming resurrection, and when we consider the eager expectation in that era of the imminent fulfillment of the end of the Adamic ages and of the resurrection the dead, we should expect that believers in that historical moment would refer to the vast multitudes that had lived and died before the advent of Christ as the “dead [ones].” This is not to say that the term “the dead” in the New Testament was code for “the dead of the Old Testament in contrast to dead Christians.” It is to say only that in that eschatological generation, if reference were made to the pre-Christian dead in contrast to the relatively few dead Christians (in about AD 55), the designation “the dead” or “dead ones” sufficed.
[4] . There was therefore no need for Paul to say explicitly that the dead were primarily “historical Israel,” as Hill insists in his chapter (115). If “the dead” were the righteous, pre-Christian dead, then they were (with relatively few exceptions) none other than the saints of the historic, Abrahamic covenant community (i.e., Israel) along with the saints who lived before the promises given to Abraham.
[5] . Similarly in American law today the basic meaning of the word “body” is “a person.” “A corporalis [bodily] injuria” is “a personal injury.” We use the word “body” this way when we speak of “somebody,” “anybody,” “nobody,” or “everybody.” This usage of the word used to be more common than it is today: “The foolish bodies say in their hearts: Tush, there is no God.” (Ps. 14:1, Coverdale translation, 1535)
[6] . Although Reformed theologian Herman Ridderbos was a futurist and expected a literal transformation of the physical bodies of believers, he nevertheless understood that such Pauline terms as “the body of sin,” “the body of the flesh,” “the earthly members,” and “the body of this death” “are obviously not intended of the [material] body itself, but of the sinful mode of existence of man.” Ridderbos, Paul: An Outline of His Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1975), 229; Cf., Tom Holland, Contours of Pauline Theology: A Radical New Survey of the Influences on Paul’s Biblical Writings, Mentor, 2004.
[7] . “[The spiritual body] is not in the least constituted what it is by its being physical. It fulfills its essence by being utterly subject to Spirit, not by be-
[8] . “All” in 1 Cor. 15:22 corresponds to “the many” in Rom. 5:15-16 and 19. When Paul says that “all” died in Adam and that “all” would be made alive in Christ, he means that all of God’s people (the whole cosmos of Gods’ elect) died in Adam and would be made alive in Christ.
[9] . Strimple inexplicably denies this doctrine on pages 309 and 342 of
WSTTB.
[10] . In Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond, on page 62, Strimple teaches that “the end” in 1 Corinthians 15:24 is the same “end” that Jesus said would come after the gospel was “preached in the whole world” in Matthew 24:14. Thus Strimple holds that the resurrection of the dead takes place upon the completion of the preaching of the gospel “in the whole world.”   But this presents a problem for Strimple, because the gospel was “preached in the whole world” almost 2,000 years ago, in Christ’s generation, shortly before the fall of the earthly house (the old covenant world) in AD 70 (Rom. 16:25-26; Col. 1:23; 2 Tim. 4:17). If we are to accept Strimple’s sequence of events, we must conclude that the resurrection of the dead happened at the fall of the temple in AD 70, as Jesus and the apostles said it would.
[11] . This hyper-dispensational implication of the Corinthian resurrection-error (i.e., that Christ came to wage war against and to conquer the God
[12] . If the resurrection-of-the-dead deniers already believed in the historic, physical resurrection of Christ, as Strimple admits (309, 333), why would Paul have needed to convince them of the “feasibility,” “imaginability,” and “thinkability” of the very concept of physical resurrection, as Strimple says elsewhere quoting Berkouwer) (341)? How could it be that the resurrectionof-the-dead deniers were unable to accept the feasibility of a concept (1 Cor.
[13] :35) to which they already held as the gospel truth (1 Cor. 15:11)?
[14] . The necessary “death” of seeds, by the way, demonstrates that physical corruption and physical death existed before Adam sinned. The earth, by God’s decree, brought forth seed-yielding plants on the third day of creation (Gen. 1:11-13), and Adam was placed in the Garden to dress and keep the plants (Gen. 2:15). Therefore the cycle of literal seed-death and seed-resurrection/ change was already in process before Sin entered the world through the disobedience of Adam. In the same way, God’s decree to the animals and to man that both “be fruitful and multiply” implied the cycle of biological birth, biological reproduction, and biological death; and that cycle was instituted before Adam sinned (Gen. 1:22, 28). Biological death did not enter the world through Sin. It was already in the world. It was alienation from God and slavery to Sin (Sin-consciousness, spiritual Death) that entered the world through Sin.
[15] . The terms “mortal” and “corruptible” do not describe the quality or duration of Adam’s physicality or the quality or duration of his soul. They describe the quality and duration of his sub-divine righteousness and works.
[16] . Strimple favorably quotes Robert Gundry as saying, “Paul uses soma precisely because the physicality of the resurrection is central to his soteriology.” In reality, Paul used soma precisely because the resurrection-of-the-dead deniers used the word soma in their objection (1 Cor. 15:35). The meaning of the word cannot be deduced from the fact that Paul repeated it.
[17] . In Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond (112), Strimple says that since the Greek word “eskatos” (“last”) is used in the term “last trumpet,” it would “seem strange” if the “last” trumpet did not signal the end of Christ’s mediatorial reign and of the resurrection of the dead. Yet in the same book, Strimple does not think it “strange” when he says that the “last” (“eskatos”) days have thus far lasted almost 2,000 years (TVMB, 64).
[18] . Pratt (the author of chapter three of WSTTB) speaks for perhaps most futurists when he puzzles over the mention of “the law” in First Corinthians 15:56: “The emergence of the second theme regarding the law, however, seems to have no real antecedent in this letter.” (Holman New Testament Commentary: I&II Corinthians, 272) In the futurist paradigm, there is no real connection between the condemning power of the Law of Moses and the resurrection of Christians in the end of world history. Paul though makes the connection because the resurrection of the dead was going to happen when the old covenant (the Law) vanished in his generation. The two events were simultaneous (cf. 1 Cor. 7:29, 31; 10:11; 15:51-52). Cf., Law, Sin, and Death: An Edenic Triad? An Examination with Reference to I Corinthians 15:56, by Chris Alex Vlachos (Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, volume 47; June, 2004).
[19] 0. Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, book I, chapter II.

House Divided Chapter Seven The Resurrection of the Dead Amillennialist Robert B. Strimple Vs. Full Preterist David A. Green Part 13 Romans 8:11

House Divided

Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology A Preterist Response to

When Shall These Things Be?

Chapter Seven
The Resurrection of the Dead
 
Part 13 Romans 8:11
 
David A. Green
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 David A. Green), except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
Strimple Argument #13: Christ’s redeeming experience is the
model and pattern of what lies ahead for us. Romans 8:11 says that
God “will also” (i.e., just as He did for Christ) “give life to your mortal
bodies” (288, 294, 297, 326-330, 333-337). Therefore, the word “soma
(body), when used in reference to the resurrection of the dead, means
“the physical, material aspect of our person.”
 
Answer: Strimple is correct that the physical death, physical burial,
and physical resurrection of Christ was the “pattern,” “parallel” and
“model” of the church’s body-burial, body-death, and body-resurrection
with Him. And Strimple is correct that Paul said in Romans 8:11
that the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead “will also” give life
to the “mortal bodies” of believers.
 
Nevertheless, the eschatological church’s Spirit-empowered bodyburial,
body-death, and body-resurrection with Christ were not physical/
biological events. The “redemptive experience” of the eschatological
church was not a literal replay-in-process of what Christ experienced.
What Christ experienced physically (literal death, literal burial, and literal
resurrection), the eschatological church was experiencing spiritually
throughout the eschaton: Burial with Christ, death with Christ,
and resurrection with Christ through the age-changing power of the indwelling
Holy Spirit (Rom. 6:4-6,8; 8:17; 2 Cor. 13:4; Gal. 2:20; 3:27; Eph.
2:5,16; Col. 2:12-13,20; 3:1,3; 2 Tim. 2:11).
 
Most futurists accept the doctrine of a non-physical body-burial
with Christ and a non-physical body-death with Christ through the
Spirit. And they should. For as Paul said, “If Christ is in you, the body
is dead because of sin” (Rom. 8:10). The indwelling, Sin-killing Spirit
of Christ brought about the death of the mortal body of Sin and Death
while believers were still physically alive.
 
Preterists and futurists agree that Paul speaks of non-physical
body-death in Rom. 8:10. Yet when the doctrine of non-physical bodyresurrection
is offered, Strimple claims that such a non-physical usage
of the word “body” is “semantic sleight of hand” and a “contradiction in
terms.” He compares those who employ such a non-physical usage of
the word “body” to Humpty Dumpty arbitrarily changing the definition
of words (335-336).
 
Despite Strimple’s irrational ridicule, the Scriptures teach us that as
Christ was crucified physically, put to death physically, buried physically,
and resurrected from the dead physically, so were His people, through
His indwelling Spirit, buried bodily (yet non-physically) with Him into
His death; and while thus dying bodily (yet non-physically) with Him (to
Sin), His people were concurrently being resurrected bodily (yet nonphysically)
with Him through the same indwelling Spirit (Rom. 8:11) in
anticipation of the end of the old covenant age.
 
We know that the “body” was raised non-physically, because the
body” that was non-physically buried with Christ and non-physically
put to death with Him was, as Paul’s logic demands, to be resurrected
with Christ out of its non-physical burial and non-physical death (which
was death to the Adamic world of Sin, Death, and the Law). Therefore,
the eschatological resurrection of “the body” was necessarily non-physical
(not a biological resurrection).
 
In the second half of this chapter I will discuss the meaning of the
word “body” in eschatological, resurrection-of-the-dead contexts. For
now though, I will close this section with a preliminary argument that
bears directly on the historical basis for a resurrection unto biological
incorruptibility.
 
On page 332 of WSTTB Strimple says that Christ’s individual, postresurrection
body was physically “endowed with new qualities” so that it was physically
imperishable, physically glorious, physically powerful, and physically heavenly.
How does Strimple know this?
 
Strimple acknowledges that although Jesus, after His resurrection,
passed through locked doors, and though God “caused Him to be
seen,” and though Jesus suddenly “disappeared from their sight,” these
occurrences do not prove that Jesus’ post-resurrection body had been
changed. As Strimple agrees, even before Jesus was raised from the
dead, He walked on water, was transfigured, and “walked right through
a mob. Even the apostles themselves had passed through locked doors
and had vanished and reappeared (329).
 
Since none of those events indicate that either Jesus or the apostles
had physically imperishable bodies,[1] how does Strimple know that Jesus
had a physically imperishable body after His resurrection? Strimple
offers one piece of evidence, which is this:
 
Christ’s body would never die again. Therefore it was a physically
“imperishable, glorious, powerful, heavenly” body.
 
But this is hardly biblical proof. Enoch and Elijah were physically
taken up without seeing death. According to Strimple’s evidence,
Enoch and Elijah must have had biologically incorruptible bodies. But
if the hope of the promise is to receive a biologically incorruptible body,
then Enoch and Elijah could not have received such a body, because
Heb. 11:39 tells us that they “received not the promise.” If then, in the
futurist framework, Enoch and Elijah could not have put on physically
incorruptible bodies when they were taken up without seeing physical
death, why assume that Jesus became physically incorruptible when He
was assumed into the divine glory-cloud?
 
The fact is there is no scriptural proof that Christ’s body became biologically
incorruptible. That means that the four gospel narratives offer
no historical foundation and no Scripture-proof for the doctrine of a resurrection
of the dead unto biologically incorruptible bodies. The concept
has to be introduced into the gospel so that the gospel will better fit the
futurist supposition of an eschatological “resurrection of the flesh.”
 
Nevertheless, Strimple is so bold as to state, “ . . . [B]ut of course
the New Testament . . . lays great stress on the wonderful discontinuity
between Christ’s body before his resurrection and his body after it”
(332). Strimple offers no hint as to where in the New Testament this
“great stress” is found. That is because the “great stress” is found only
in the assumption of the futurist framework which has been imposed
upon the gospel narratives.
 



[1] Mathison in his chapter did not see what Strimple sees here. As
Mathison said: “Jesus’ resurrection body was changed enough that he was not
always recognized immediately. . . . He was also able to travel unhindered by
normal impediments. . . . ” Mathison did not realize that he was “proving” that
before Jesus’ resurrection, both He and the apostles had physically imperishable
bodies (193).
 

House Divided Chapter Seven The Resurrection of the Dead Amillennialist Robert B. Strimple Vs. Full Preterist David A. Green Part 12 Job 19:25-27

House Divided

Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology A Preterist Response to

When Shall These Things Be?

Chapter Seven
The Resurrection of the Dead
Part 12 Job 19:25-27
David A. Green
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 David A. Green), except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
Strimple Argument #12: Job 19:25-27 says that Job himself, with
his own “eyes” and in his own “skin,” would “see God.” This is an allusion
to a physical resurrection of the dead. Job 14:13-17 confirms this
interpretation. In that passage it says that if Job’s vindication were to
come after his death, God would hide him in the grave until the time set
for Job’s “renewal,” and that God would then “long for the creature [His] hands have made” (294-295).
 
Answer:
For I know that my Redeemer lives, and that He shall stand at
the latter day upon the earth. And though after my skin worms
destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God. Whom I shall
see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another;
though my reins be consumed within me. (Job 19:25-27)
 
As Strimple admits, the phrase “from my flesh,” or “in my flesh,” in
Job 19:26 can be translated “without my flesh” (i.e., outside of my flesh).
Job could have been saying that he expected to be vindicated at a nonfleshly
resurrection (“without my flesh”) on the Last Day. Some preterists
take this interpretation.
 
But even if we translate the phrase to read, “from my flesh” (i.e.,
from the vantage point of my flesh), this could be taken to mean that Job
expected to see God within his own lifetime, while still in his flesh. And,
as a matter of fact, that is exactly what happened.
 
After Job’s time of tribulation and anguish, his Redeemer at last
arose on the dust and answered Job out of the whirlwind (Job 38:1).
After God’s “archers”/“troops” (i.e., Job’s accusers) surrounded and “devoured”
Job, and after Job was filled up with the afflictions of his flesh,
he was redeemed from his sufferings. He was vindicated as “a perfect
and upright man” and his enemies were judged (cf. Job 19:29 and 42:7-
9). Thus Job, with his own eyes, and from his flesh, saw God:
 
I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye
has seen You. (Job 42:5)
 
Regarding Job 14:13-17:
 
O that You would hide me in Sheol, that You would keep me secret,
until Your wrath be past, that You would appoint me a set
time, and remember me! If a man dies, shall he live again? All
the days of my appointed time [literally, “warfare”] will I wait,
till my change come [or, “until my exchanging or replacement
come”]. You shall call, and I will answer You. You will have a
desire to the work of Your hands. (Job 14:13-15)
 
If Job was prophesying concerning the resurrection of the dead in
this passage, then we must say that Job was triumphing in the idea that
his wretched and miserable condition (his “warfare”) would continue
for hundreds or even thousands of additional years while in Sheol (Job
14:14), and that only at the end of human history would God’s “wrath
(Job 14:13) against him pass, and that, only then, would Job be relieved
from his warfare as a battle-wearied soldier is replaced by another
(“changed”) (cf. Job 10:17; 14:14-15).
 
According to the logical implications of Strimple’s interpretation of
the above scripture, Job remains hidden in Sheol to this very day and
God remains angry with him to this very day. At the same time, according
to the anti-premillennial Strimple, New Testament saints who have
died are in the face-to-face presence of Christ Himself and are reigning
with Him today. Yet Strimple tells us that we cannot establish a contrast
between the afterlife of Old Testament saints, such as Job, and that of
New Testament saints (293).
 
Either God remained/remains angry with Job for hundreds or thousands
of years after Job’s death, or Job was not speaking of a vindication
at the resurrection of the dead. As the context leads us to believe, what
Job desired was vindication instead of death. Instead of resigning himself
to dying, stricken of God, Job yearned by faith for vindication and
redemption in his own lifetime. He hoped that God would not crush
him as an enemy, but would instead relent and restore him to Himself
(Job 14:14b, 15). As we know, Job’s hope was not deferred, as per futurism
(Prov. 13:12). Instead, it was fulfilled and Job was delivered and
vindicated in his own lifetime. “So the Lord blessed the latter end of Job
more than his beginning” (Job 42:12).

House Divided Chapter Seven The Resurrection of the Dead Amillennialist Robert B. Strimple Vs. Full Preterist David A. Green Part 11 Can Souls Be Raised?

House Divided

Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology A Preterist Response to

When Shall These Things Be?

Chapter Seven
The Resurrection of the Dead
Part 11 Can Souls Be Raised?   
 
David A. Green
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 David A. Green), except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
Strimple Argument #11: We know that the resurrection of the
dead will be physical because there is no such thing as a non-physical
resurrection of a physically dead person (296-297, 299-300, 326).
 
Answer: The short answer to this argument is that the Bible does
not teach that there is no such thing as a non-physical resurrection of
a physically dead person. Regeneration is a non-physical resurrection,
and nowhere does the Bible exclude the old covenant dead from that
resurrection. Jesus in fact referred to the resurrection of the dead as
the regeneration” or rebirth (Matt. 19:28), and the Scriptures elsewhere
imply that the physically dead saints were “born” out of Death and Hades.
(Rom. 8:29; Col. 1:15, 18; Rev. 1:5; see answer to Strimple Argument
#6 above.)
 
Now the long answer: This answer is lengthy because Strimple’s argument
above opens up a futurist “can of worms.” I ask the reader to bear
with me as I navigate through a tangled web of futurist reasoning.
 
Strimple agrees with preterists that “resurrection” (the word and
the concept) can be used as imagery and metaphor, such as when Israel
was promised a “resurrection” to its land in Ezekiel 37:1-4. But, says
Strimple on page 326 (quoting Raymond E. Brown), when it comes to
physically dead people, there is “no other kind of resurrection” than a
physical resurrection. On page 296, Strimple quotes Murray Harris as
saying, “No one could be said to be resurrected while his corpse lay
in a tomb.” And on page 297, Strimple says that the use of the modifier
“bodily” in the term “bodily resurrection” is redundant, because a
physically dead person can only be raised physically/bodily.
 
Additionally, on pages 299 and 300, Strimple argues that the Greek
word for “resurrection” (“anastasis,” literally, “standing up” or “standing
again”), when used in reference to physically dead people, always
meant to first-century Jews and Greeks alike, the resurrection of the
physical aspect of man in contrast to the soul. Strimple supports this
claim by quoting Tertullian, who said that anastasis cannot refer to
the soul because only the physical part of man can fall down, lie down,
sleep, and “stand up.”
 
Now that we have established Strimple’s teaching on the anastasis/
resurrection of physically dead people in WSTTB let us confer with
Strimple’s refutation of premillennialism in the book, Three Views on
the Millennium and Beyond (TVMB). In that book, Strimple actually
teaches that anastasis (“standing up,” resurrection) in Revelation 20:4
refers to a non-physical soul-resurrection of physically dead people.
He defines the “resurrection” in that Scripture as the ushering in of the
disembodied (non-physical) “soul” of a believer upon biological death
into the presence of Christ to reign with Him. Strimple even goes so
far in that book as to say that physical death for the believer today is “in
truth a [non-bodily] resurrection into the very presence of the Savior
in heaven” (Emphasis added) (TVMB, 125-127, 261-262, 276).
 
If this were not confusing enough, on pages 319–320 and 337
of WSTTB Strimple says (quoting John Murray and Murdoch Dahl)
that dead believers today—even though they have been resurrected
“into the very presence of the Savior in heaven”—are actually experiencing
punishment and “condemnation” under the curse of “sin,”
“death,” and “corruption.” He says that our departed loved ones are
actually in a state of soul-and-body death (“psycho-physical death,”
as Strimple calls it). He says they are actually in a “dreadful” state
(319). Quoting Rudolf Bultmann, he teaches that they are even in
a state of “horror,” and that Jesus Himself was in the same horrific
state before He was raised from the dead (320).[1]
 
Finally, Strimple adds that our departed brothers and sisters who
are with Christ today are non-human, i.e., non-man. They are no longer
of the same human nature as Christ, and will remain sub-humans until
they are resurrected at the end of human history. (More on this below)
So we see that when Strimple is refuting premillennialists, he portrays
the Bible as teaching a present-day, non-physical resurrection of
physically dead believers into the very presence of the Savior in heaven
where they are reigning with Him. But when Strimple is refuting preterists,
he portrays the Bible as teaching strictly and only a physical resurrection
of physically dead saints, and he says that disembodied saints
today are in a state of punishment where they are longing for the day
when they will no longer be sin-cursed, condemned, sub-human, and in
a dreadful state of horror.[2]
 
In 1993, in a paper he presented in Mt. Dora, Florida, Strimple suggested
that physically dead persons cannot experience a non-physical
resurrection. Then in 1999, in TVMB, Strimple taught that physically
dead persons do experience a non-physical resurrection. Then in 2004,
in WSTTB, Strimple reverted to teaching that physically dead persons
cannot experience a non-physical resurrection. It seems that some of
Strimple’s central theological convictions come and go roughly every
six years, depending on who he is refuting.
 
The incredible tension between Strimple’s positions here is not “paradox.”
It is not an expression of “already but not yet.” Strimple’s views
are none other than the consummate example of radical contradiction.
Throughout his chapter Strimple makes much of the fact that preterists
disagree with other preterists. Yet as we have seen in this book, futurists
such as Keith Mathison and Robert Strimple not only disagree with
other futurists, they disagree with their own faith-convictions.
In view of the fact that some of the authors of WSTTB have made
their own interpretations of Scripture a proverbial “nose of wax” that
can be reshaped for the sake of expedience (304), we can begin to see
why it is appropriate that their book was called a “reformed” response.
Nevertheless, Strimple deems himself a worthy judge to call into question
the doctrinal “credibility” of preterists (300, 335-336).
 
To be fair, Strimple and Mathison are not the only ones guilty of wild
self-contradiction. The guilt belongs to the futurist camp as a whole. At
funeral services, departed believers are said to be in the highest Heaven
beholding the face of the Lord. But in seminary classrooms, departed
believers are said to be in Hades waiting for the Last Day at the end of
human history, when Hades will be cast into the Lake of Fire and believers
will finally be able to behold the face of the Lord (Rev. 22:4).
 
As far as we know, a human soul cannot be in two different places,
or in two contradictory states of being, at the same time. So where do
the dead in Christ today reside? Is it in Hades or in the highest Heaven?
 
Strimple is an amillennialist. Although the anti-premillennial
Strimple (who says that Revelation 20 teaches a spiritual resurrection
of physically dead people) roundly contradicts the anti-preterist
Strimple (who says that physically dead people cannot be spiritually
resurrected), most of Strimple’s amillennialist brethren disagree with
both Strimples. They define “anastasis” in Revelation 20:4 as regeneration;
that is, not a soul-resurrection at physical death, but a here-and now
spiritual birth through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
 
Paul agrees with amillennialists that Holy Spirit rebirth, received at
the moment of faith in Christ’s sin-atoning blood, was “the first resurrection
with Christ:
 
. . . hath quickened us [made us alive] together with Christ.
(Eph. 2:5)
 
. . . you are risen with him through the faith of the operation of
God. . . . (Col. 2:12)
 
And you . . . hath he quickened [made alive] together with him,
having forgiven you all trespasses. (Col. 2:13)
 
If ye then be risen with Christ . . . . (Col. 3:1)
 
But ye are come unto . . . the . . . church of the firstborn. . . .
(Heb. 12:22-23)
 
And because Holy Spirit regeneration was the first resurrection
with Christ” (Eph. 2:5; Rev. 20:4-6), it irresistibly follows that Christ
was the beginning and “First Fruit” of that spiritual resurrection (334).
 
Strimple rightly concedes on page 334 of WSTTB that the resurrection
of Christ was “the beginning” of the resurrection of the dead.
Apparently though, according to Strimple, Christ’s resurrection was
“the beginning” of a harvest that was interrupted as soon as it began
and which will not be restarted until thousands of years after its beginning,
even though the “first fruits” (beginning) invariably signals
not merely the nearness but the commencement of the harvest.
 
Though Christ our Forerunner was eternally begotten of God and
eternally God’s Son, He was the first to be “born” or “begotten” of God
when He was raised from the dead and given all authority to reign as
High Priest unto God (Acts 13:33; Heb. 5:5). He was, for our sakes,
born” out of Adamic Death (the condemnation and alienation from
God He endured on the Cross) and Hades into the Presence of the Father.
For this reason, the Son is called:
 
The “firstborn” among many brethren (Rom. 8:29)
 
The “firstborn” of every creature (Col. 1:15)
 
The “firstborn” from the dead (Col. 1:18; Rev. 1:5)
 
Thus, the rebirth of the Hadean (Old Testament) saints in Christ
with the body-of-Christ church in AD 70 was the regeneration of “all
things,” i.e., of the universal body of the saints:
 
Your dead men shall live; together with my dead body shall they
arise. Awake and sing, you that dwell in dust: for your dew is as
the dew of herbs, and the earth shall give birth to the dead. (Isa.
26:19)
 
. . . in the Regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the
throne of his glory, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging
the twelve tribes of Israel. (Matt. 19:28)
 
Before we move on to Strimple’s next argument, let us briefly
examine Strimple’s teaching that a man without his physical body is no
longer a man:
 
Strimple teaches the non-humanity of the dead on page 337
(through a reference to Rudolf Bultmann and through a correction of
Robert Gundry). According to Strimple, one of the reasons that Paul
defended the resurrection of the body is because a departed believer is
actually a non-human until he or she is physically resurrected.
 
R. C. Sproul Jr. makes the same mistake in his Foreword to
WSTTB where he implies that his daughter will be an incomplete
“ethereal creature” between the time of her death and the time of
Christ’s Second Coming —a span of time that according to Sproul
Jr.’s view could theoretically last a million years or more. It should go
without saying that it is an unbiblical thing to believe that our loved
ones in Christ will suffer “the ravages of . . . sin” (as R. C. Sproul Jr.
puts it) potentially for aeons after the time of their death (ix). But this
is the sad, logical necessity of futurism. If our departed loved ones already
have perfect and complete sinless blessedness today before the
face of God, then there is no scriptural justification for a yet-future
resurrection of the dead.
 
In contrast to Rudolf Bultmann and Strimple, the Bible nowhere
suggests, implies, or otherwise hints that those who die become nonhumans
until they are resurrected. The resurrection of the dead is never
characterized in Scripture as the restoration of former humans back to
their lost humanity. Jesus made reference to a man in Hades (Lk. 16:22-
23), and Paul spoke of the possibility that a “man” was caught up “out
of the body” (2 Cor. 12:2). (He would not cease to be a man outside of
his body.) In both of these instances, the “man” was the non-physical
spirit/soul of the man. Additionally, if we are to say that a departed saint
is a sub-human because he is without his physical body, then we must
also say that Jesus Himself was a sub-human for the three days and three
nights that elapsed between His death and resurrection, because He did
not have his physical body at that time. We could also say, by the same
line of reasoning, that unborn babies and people with missing limbs are
not 100% humans because they also are not “complete.”
 
Contrary to the ghastly horrors of logically consistent futurism, the
departed spirit of the believer is fully human. Whether living in the
flesh or living in the heavens after physical death, the believer today is
complete in Christ. The departed believer in the new covenant world
today is not a homeless, wraithlike phantom, like an exorcized demon.
He is not a “shade” (295). He is not a quivering, shapeless “mist” like
some kind of escaped gas.
 
In stark contrast to such wildly extra-scriptural, futurist notions,
the Bible teaches us that the saints in heaven today are “like the angels
(Matt. 22:30; Mark 12:25; Heb. 1:7; 12:22-23). And they are not “naked,”
but they are “clothed” with the everlasting righteousness of Christ, the
new Man (Rev. 6:9-11; 14:13; 15:6; 19:8, 14).



[1] Yet, oddly enough, Strimple dismisses “tales of the shadowy world of
Hades and of Christ’s ‘harrowing of hell’ after his death” (293).
[2] It is noteworthy that Jesus did not say to the thief on the cross, “Today
you will be with me in a paradise of condemnation, sin, death, corruption,
punishment, curse, dread, and sub-human horror” as the anti-preterist
Strimple would have it.
 

House Divided Chapter Seven The Resurrection of the Dead Amillennialist Robert B. Strimple Vs. Full Preterist David A. Green Part 6 John 5:28-29

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Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology A Preterist Response to

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Chapter Seven
The Resurrection of the Dead
 
Part 6 John 5:28-29
 
David A. Green
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 David A. Green), except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
Strimple Argument #6: John 5:28-29 obviously teaches a physical
resurrection of the dead in that it speaks of a time in which “all who are
in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good
to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection
of judgment” (297).
 
Answer: In order to understand John 5:28 and 29, we must first look
three verses above it, in John 5:25, where Jesus said that the hour “now is
when “the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear
shall live.” As most Reformed interpreters agree, Jesus in that verse was
referring to the preaching of His death and resurrection. The preaching
of that message commenced at Pentecost. “The dead” were physically
living people who were spiritually dead in sin, and “the voice of the Son of
God” was the gospel. Having heard the gospel, those who were spiritually
dead” were spiritually resurrected. They lived in that they received eternal
life through faith in the gospel (“the voice of the Son of God”).
 
Then, in verses 28 and 29, Jesus expanded His teaching on the resurrection
to include those who were not only spiritually dead, but who were
also physically dead. He did not call them “dead” (as He had already called
the living who were spiritually dead), but He referred to them through another
figure of speech as “all who are in the graves.” They were not literally
in their graves or tombs, of course, but were in Hades/Sheol.
 
What is often missed in this passage is that, like the physically living
in verse 25, the physically dead in verse 28 were also going to live
by means of hearing Christ’s “voice.” As we know from verse 25, that
voice” is the gospel. The physically dead therefore were going to hear
the gospel (cf. 1 Pet. 4:6.) and were, as a result of hearing the gospel,
going to be resurrected (regenerated, born from out of death and Hades).
This means that the physically dead were, like the physically living,
spiritually dead. And this inescapably means that both the physically
living and the physically dead were going to be spiritually resurrected
by means of the gospel-voice of the Son of God. One resurrection in
two main stages: First, the last days saints; then, the Old Testament
dead (“the rest of the dead” in Revelation 20:5).
 
After hearing the gospel, the dead were raised out of their Adamic
graves (Hades) in the end of the age. And those among them who believed
the gospel received eternal life in the kingdom of God. But those
who hated the gospel (those who had done evil) were raised out of Hades
only to stand before God and to enter into “eternal punishment” /
the second death” (Matt. 25:46; John 5:28-29; Rev. 20:14).

House Divided Chapter Seven The Resurrection of the Dead Amillennialist Robert B. Strimple Vs. Full Preterist David A. Green Part 5 Daniel 12:1-3

House Divided

Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology A Preterist Response to

When Shall These Things Be?

Chapter Seven
The Resurrection of the Dead
Part 5 Daniel 12:1-3
 
David A. Green
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 David A. Green), except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
Strimple Argument #5: Daniel 12:1-3 says that “many of those who
sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to
shame and everlasting contempt.” This is obviously referring to a physical
resurrection of the dead. Additionally, God tells us that this prophecy
is to be fulfilled in “the time of the end” (Dan. 12:4), which is the end
of human history (295).
 
Answer: Daniel’s prediction of the resurrection of the dead begins
with these words: “And at that time . . . ” “That time” refers back to the
end of chapter 11. Philip Mauro in his book, The Seventy Weeks and
the Great Tribulation, argues convincingly that Daniel 11 ends with a
prophecy of Herod the Great.[1]
 
Herod, the first enemy of the incarnate Christ, died very shortly
after Christ was born. It was “at that time” that Christ (“Michael,” “the
Chief Messenger”) stood up for the saints. It was at that time that Christ
came into the world for His people and took on the body of sacrifice
that the Father had prepared for Him (Dan. 12:1; Heb. 10:5-7; Ps. 40:6;
cf. Rev. 12:7).
 
It was the “stand” for the elect that Christ made in His Incarnation
that led to the “war in heaven” (Matt. 11:12; Rev. 12:7), which in turn
led to fleshly Israel being overtaken in the death-throes of the Great
Tribulation (Dan. 12:1). Jesus promised that that time of distress was
going to take place within His own generation, and that it would be consummated
in the destruction of the city and the sanctuary (Dan. 9:26;
12:1; Matt. 24:1-2, 21, 34). That event took place in August-September
of AD 70.
 
According to the angel who spoke to Daniel, it was at that time that
the power of the holy people would be shattered (Dan. 12:7), that the
church would be delivered (Dan. 12:1), that the resurrection of the dead
would take place, and that the righteous would inherit the kingdom
(Dan. 12:2). Jesus, in harmony with Daniel, promised that the kingdom
would be taken from the wicked and given to the righteous in the lifetime
of the chief priests and Pharisees (Mat. 21:43-45). Therefore, “the
time of the end” (not “the end of time,” as it is sometimes mistranslated)
in Daniel 12:4, 9 was not the end of human history; it was the end of
redemptive history in Christ’s generation.
 
It was in AD 70, therefore, that many who slept in “the earth’s dust
awoke. To “sleep in dust” is a figure of speech. The dead were not literally
sleeping, nor were they literally in the dust. They were “in dust
only insofar as, in their death, they had not ascended into God’s presence
in Christ. In terms of the righteousness and life of God, they were
earth-bound. From a literal standpoint, they were in Sheol/Hades (the
abode of the Adamic dead), and it was from out of Sheol that they were
raised to stand before the heavenly throne of God (Dan. 12:1-2).
Futurist James Jordan writes regarding Daniel 12:13:
 
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.[2]
 
Regarding the word “many” in Daniel 12:2: The word is not used
in contrast to “all” (as “the many” is used to limit the term “all men” in
Rom. 5:12, 15, 18-19) or in contrast to “a few.” The angel simply referred
to a large number of people; to multitudes (NIV). No inference can be
made from the context as to whether “many” referred to all or to only
a portion of the dead. Only subsequent scriptures revealed that the
many” in Daniel 12:2 referred whole company of all the dead
from Adam to the Last Day.



[1] Philip Mauro, The Seventy Weeks and the Great Tribulation (Swengel,
PA: Reiner Publications [now Grace Abounding Ministries]), 135-162.
[2] James B. Jordan, The Handwriting on the Wall: A Commentary on the
Book of Daniel (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision Inc., 2007), 628. (Emphases
added)
 

House Divided Chapter Seven The Resurrection of the Dead Amillennialist Robert B. Strimple Vs. Full Preterist David A. Green Part 3 Carnal Jewish Hopes

House Divided

Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology A Preterist Response to

When Shall These Things Be?

 
Chapter Seven
The Resurrection of the Dead 
Part 3 Carnal Jewish Hopes
 
David A. Green
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 David A. Green), except
in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.

Strimple Argument #3: Mainstream Jews in the time of Jesus believed
in a physical resurrection of the dead. Martha reflected that
“standard Jewish hope” when she said that Lazarus would “rise again in
the resurrection on the last day” (John 11:24) (295-296).
 
Answer: Preterists are not the only ones who differ with the Jews
in the time of Jesus. Strimple also disagrees with them. As far as we
know, mainstream Jews at that time believed in the shadowy realm of
Hades. Strimple apparently rejects that doctrine. It is also likely that
the Jews in the time of Jesus erroneously believed that “the Christ” and
the Prophet” were two different people (John 1:25). It is probable that
Strimple rejects that mainstream Jewish doctrine as well. The Jews further
believed that the Messianic kingdom would be a literal, nationalistic
kingdom. Strimple disagrees with that “standard Jewish hope.”
 
More importantly though, many or most of the Jews at that time
believed the resurrection and judgment of the living and the dead were
about to happen. In fact, we know that most Christians in the time of
Jesus believed that very same doctrine, because there is no doubt that
the authors of the New Testament books believed it. Yet Strimple and
all other futurists categorically reject the doctrine that the resurrection
and judgment were about to happen in the apostolic generation, despite
the sure, prophetic, and authoritative word of Jesus and the Apostles:
 
The Son of Man is about to come in the glory of His Father with
His angels; and will then recompense every man according to
his deeds. Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are
standing here who shall not taste death until they see the Son
of Man coming in His kingdom [to recompense every man according
to his deeds]. (Matt. 16:27-28)
 
He has fixed a day in which He is about to judge the world in
righteousness. . . . (Acts 17:31)
 
There is about to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the
wicked. (Acts 24:15)
 
As he was discussing . . . the judgment about to come. . . .
(Acts 24:25)
 
The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.
(Rom. 16:20)
 
Christ Jesus, who is about to judge the living and the dead. . . .
(2 Tim. 4:1)
 
Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. . . .
(1 Pet. 4:5)
 
Evidently, Strimple feels that he is at liberty to reject the consensus
of the Jews and even of the church and of the apostles themselves in the
time of Jesus regarding the timing of the prophesied consummation. Yet
at the same time, Strimple believes that the consensus of Jews in the time
of Jesus can serve as legitimate contributing evidence against preterism.
Strimple is here using an unjust weight to judge preterism.
 
Regardless of the majority view of the Jews in Jesus’ day,[1] if we assume
that Martha did express a belief in a physical resurrection of the dead, we
can only interpret Jesus’ response to her as a correction of that belief:
 
I am the Resurrection and the Life; he who believes in Me shall
live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me
shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)
 
Biological reanimation is not the resurrection and the life. Jesus
is the Resurrection and the Life. To “live” (i.e., to be resurrected) is to
believe in Him. We who put our trust in Christ’s sin-atoning blood in
the new covenant world today are in “the Life,” and we shall “never die.”
As we will discuss in more detail below, since the consummated death
of the Adamic, old covenant “man” in AD 70, the universal church is
now and forever the resurrected, living, and “spiritual body” of Christ.



[1] According to Keith Mathison, the prevailing belief of the Jews in Jesus’
day was that “when Israel was restored in the age to come, those faithful Jews
who had died would be raised to participate in it” (172). Mathison believes
that Israel was restored in the first century (169). If we accept Mathison’s
timeframe for the restoration of Israel, and if we must accept the “prevailing
belief” of the first century Jews, then we must conclude that the resurrection
of the dead took place in the first century.
 

House Divided Chapter Seven The Resurrection of the Dead Amillennialist Robert B. Strimple Vs. Full Preterist David A. Green Part 2 Romans 8 and 2 Peter 3

House Divided

Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology A Preterist Response to

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Chapter Seven
The Resurrection of the Dead
Part 2 Romans 8 and 2 Peter 3
 
David A. Green
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 David A. Green), except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
Strimple Argument #2: According to Romans 8 and 2 Peter 3,
when the resurrection of the dead takes place, the heavens and the earth
—the whole physical creation—will be physically transformed and
physically renewed. Therefore the resurrection of the dead will also be
physical and will involve a physical transformation/renewal (321-326).
 
Answer: When Paul and Peter wrote their epistles:
 
1. God was “ready to judge the living and the dead” (1 Pet. 4:5).
2. It was “time for the judgment to begin” (1 Pet. 4:17).
3. Believers were living in “the last days” (2 Tim. 3:1; 2 Pet. 3:3).
4. Believers were living in “the last times” (1 Pet. 1:20).
5. Believers were “hastening” the coming of the day of God, when
the Morning Star would arise in their hearts (2 Pet. 1:19-20;
3:3, 5, 11-12).
6. The glory and salvation of Israel was “about to be
revealed”/“ready to be revealed” (Rom. 8:18; 1 Pet. 1:5; 5:1).
7. The night was “almost gone” (Rom. 13:12).
8. The day of salvation was “at hand” (Rom. 13:12).
9. God was “soon” to crush the ancient enemy, Satan, under the
feet of the first-century church (Rom. 16:20), in fulfillment of
Genesis 3:15.
10. “The end of all things” was “at hand” (1 Pet. 4:7).
 
If we are to let the words of Scripture say what they say in their
context, we must admit that the biblical time of eschatological crisis is
now history. The apostles Paul and Peter, through the inspiration of the
Holy Spirit, fully expected the heavens and the earth (the world) to burn
and dissolve in their own generation (2 Pet. 3:7, 10-12). Therefore, we
are to rest in faith that this event, according to God’s faithful and sure
prophetic word, was fulfilled in the apostolic generation.
 
Futurist objections notwithstanding, it requires no stretch of the
imagination to believe God’s word in this regard. We know that when
Peter spoke of the “heavens” and the “earth,” he did not mean the literal
sky and the planet. Peter believed that the heavens and the earth of
Noah’s day were destroyed (2 Pet. 3:5-6). Peter certainly did not think
that the literal stars (“the heavens”) were destroyed in Noah’s flood.
 
When Peter spoke of the end of the world (“the end of all things”), he
was speaking of the world-order in which he lived. He was speaking of
the pre-redemption world that was speedily coming to a consummation
through the power of the recently slain Lamb of God. Peter was not
writing in scientific terms concerning hydrogen and oxygen melting.
He was writing in the fervent, poetic language of the prophets concerning
the impending end of the old covenant age and the resulting liberation
of “the creature” / “all Israel” (all the saints, living and dead) from
the slavery and futility of the spiritual corruption of Sin.
 
Peter’s prophecy in 2 Peter 3 was a reiteration of Isaiah 24. In that
chapter, Isaiah spoke of the time when the sun and the moon (the heavens)
would be confounded and ashamed (Isa. 24:23) and when the earth
would be burned, broken down, dissolved, and would fade away (Isa.
24:4, 6, 19-20). Isaiah was speaking of the destruction of Jerusalem.
 
The heavens and the earth” referred to the pre-Messianic, dead-in-
Sin world of God’s people. That old creation or cosmos was dissolved,
and it vanished shortly after Peter wrote his epistles, in AD 70. There is
no biblical rationale for appending a “resurrection of the flesh at the end
of human history” to the teachings of the apostles.
 
One final note: The Bible says that after the Parousia, after the fulfillment
of all prophecy, in the new heavens and the new earth, there will
be cursed nations that will, year by year, refuse to worship God (Zech.
14:16-19). After the fulfillment of all prophecy, there will be those who
attack God’s people, though ultimately to no avail (Isa. 54:15-17). After
the fulfillment of all prophecy, there will be people loving and practicing
lies outside the city of God in the new heavens and new earth (Rev.
22:14-15).
 
Strimple says that this biblical doctrine is “incredible” and that it
does not “satisfy” him (323). It is the task of futurists to believe and to
be satisfied with what God’s word teaches concerning the eternal, Messianic
world in which we live today.

House Divided Chapter Seven The Resurrection of the Dead Amillennialist Robert B. Strimple Vs. Full Preterist David A. Green Part 1 2 Timothy 2:16-18

House Divided

Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology A Preterist Response to

When Shall These Things Be?

 
Chapter Seven
The Resurrection of the Dead
 
David A. Green
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 David A. Green), except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
Dr. Robert B. Strimple’s sixty-six page chapter in WSTTB can be
summed up in thirteen basic arguments that defend the doctrine
of a literal, physical resurrection of the dead. In this chapter, I will respond
to Strimple’s thirteen arguments. I will then offer a brief exposition
of 1 Corinthians 15.
 
Strimple’s Thirteen Arguments[1]
 
Strimple Argument #1: Preterists teach that the resurrection is past.
Therefore preterists are under the condemnation of the heretics Hymenaeus
and Philetus, who said that “the resurrection is past already” (2
Tim. 2:16-18) (WSTTB, 287, 312-315).[2]
 
Answer: If we read 2 Timothy 2:16-18 on the premise of futurism
(belief in a literal, physical resurrection of the dead), we will reason that
Hymenaeus and Philetus were not only wrong about the timing of the
resurrection, as Paul said they were, but that they were more importantly
wrong about the nature of the resurrection. We will reason that
the faith-overthrowing aspect of their error must have been their denial
of a biological resurrection of the dead. This would mean that the malignancy
of their doctrine had to do with the nature of the resurrection,
even though Paul condemned only their timing of the resurrection.
 
Futurism must, against the flow of thought in the text, smuggle its
own assumption (a biological resurrection of the dead) into 2 Timothy
2:16-18 in order to make it a preterist-anathematizing text. This means
that the only exegetical argument that is used for condemning preterists
as false brothers is based on the logical fallacy of question begging.
 
But if we read the passage on the premise of preterism (a non-biological
resurrection of the dead), we should reason that the error of Hymeneus
and Philetus was that they were teaching that the resurrection had
been fulfilled under the Law (1 Tim. 1:8; Titus 1:10; 3:9; Heb. 8:13). They
were teaching that “the hope of Israel” (Acts 23:6; 24:15, 21; 28:20) was
already fulfilled in the AD 60’s and that there was therefore never to be a
termination of the covenant of fleshly circumcision and animal sacrifices.
 
Their error implied that the kingdom was not going to be taken
from the scribes and Pharisees, as Jesus said it would be. It implied
that the final destruction of the city and sanctuary would never happen.
It implied that fleshly Israel had inherited the eschatological kingdom
with the church and that the ministration of death and condemnation,
with all of its reminders of sin, would continue forever. It implied that
believers, having already attained unto the resurrection (cf. Phil. 3:11–
12), would be forever under the yoke of the Law of Moses.
This is why the doctrine of a pre-70 resurrection was a radically anti-
gospel, anti-grace, faith-overturning blasphemy (1 Tim. 1:20; 2 Tim.
2:18). This is why Paul condemned the timing instead of the nature of
the error, because insofar as the realization of the hope of Israel (the resurrection)
was necessarily synchronous with the eternal disinheritance
of the Christ-rejecters in Israel, timing was everything.
 
Perhaps we cannot know with certainty what date Hymenaeus and
Philetus assigned to the resurrection. Perhaps they taught that the Jewish
revolt against Rome in AD 66 was the fulfillment of the resurrection.
Whatever the case, the resurrection error at Ephesus was a Judaizing
heresy that served to put believers back under the slavery of the Law.
 
Before we go on to Strimple’s next argument, let us look briefly at
Paul’s silence in regard to Hymeneus’ and Philetus’ concept of a non-biological
resurrection of the dead. If Paul was expecting a literal, biological
resurrection, is it not odd that his only criticism of the gangrenous
resurrection-error was in regard to its timing? Could it be that Paul
agreed with Hymeneus and Philetus in regard to the nature of the resurrection,
and disagreed with them only in regard to the timing? Paul’s
words in 2 Thessalonians 2:2-8 give us the answer to this question.
 
In that scripture, Paul told believers how they could know, after the
fact, that the Day of the Lord had taken place. First, Paul said, “the
apostasy” or “the falling away” would take place and “the man of sin”
would be revealed (2 Thess. 2:3). This “man of sin” would take his seat
in the temple of God, thus displaying himself as being God (2 Thess.
2:4). Then he would be slain and brought to an end (2 Thess. 2:8). By
the unfolding of these events, believers would know that the Day of the
Lord had come.[3] The man of sin was, after all, to be destroyed on the
Day of the Lord.
 
However, Paul had taught in his previous epistle to the Thessalonians
that on “the day of the Lord,” the dead in Christ would rise and be
caught up” together with the living (1 Thess. 4:15-5:2). If Paul thought
those events were going to involve the literal, biological metamorphosis
and removal of the dead and of the church on Earth, then Paul would
have known that there were, inescapably, only two possible ways that
anyone could know that the day of the Lord had already come.
 
Either:
 
1. You suddenly found yourself in a new body made of “spiritual
flesh” while hovering in the clouds during a meeting with the
Lord in the air.
 
Or:
 
2. You suddenly discovered that the tombs of believers were
empty and that the church no longer existed on planet Earth
and you were left behind.
 
But Paul did not use either of these arguments. Paul instead told
believers simply to look for the rise and destruction of the man of sin in
order to know that the day of the Lord had come. According to Paul, if
believers perceived that the man of sin had been destroyed, then believers
could know that the day of the Lord (and therefore the resurrection
and the “catching away” of the church) had come to pass. The resurrection
of the dead and the “catching away” were not events that involved
the molecular change or disappearance of corpses or the disappearance
of the church from planet earth.[4]



[1] Though I label these arguments as “Strimple” arguments, most of them
are not, strictly speaking, Strimple’s arguments, but are the standard arguments
used by futurists to defend the doctrine of a “resurrection of the flesh.”
[2] Strimple’s editor Mathison undercuts Strimple’s effort here (and the effort
of most or all others who anathematize preterists) by casting a haze of
uncertainty over 2 Timothy 2:17-18 and refusing to use the passage to anathematize
“hyper-preterists.” Mathison forfeits all biblical authority to anathematize
“hyper-preterists” when he implies that “the resurrection” in 2 Timothy
2:17-18 could possibly have been fulfilled in AD 70 (194-195).
[3] The Zealots captured the temple in AD 68. They abolished the priesthood
and turned the temple of God into their own personal house of murder.
They were destroyed in AD 70.
[4] See Michael Sullivan’s response to Mathison for an exposition of 1
Thessalonians 4:14-17 and 2 Timothy 2:17-18.