WERE ENOCH AND ELIJAH “RAPTURED TO HEAVEN” AND DOES 1 THESSALONIANS 4:16-17 / JOHN 11:25-26 / MATTHEW 24:30-31 TEACH A PHYSICAL RESURRECTION OR “RAPTURE”?

WERE ENOCH AND ELIJAH “RAPTURED TO HEAVEN” AND DOES 1 THESSALONIANS 4:16-17 / JOHN 11:25-26 / MATTHEW 24:30-31 TEACH A PHYSICAL RESURRECTION OR “RAPTURE”?

Introduction:

Even when I was a Futurist and believed in a physical resurrection at the end of world history, the alleged “taking” or alleged “rapture” of Enoch and Elijah’s physical body to be in God’s presence or be in the spiritual realm didn’t exactly fit my theology.  And then when I became a Full Preterist and saw that a spiritual resurrection for the dead was fulfilled in AD 70, a physical taking of Enoch and Elijah’s body to be in God’s presence or be in the spiritual realm prior to AD 70 still didn’t seem accurate.  So, when I first came across John Bray’s article many years ago, Were Elijah and Enoch Raptured to Heaven? where he defended the position that both Elijah and Enoch died – I read it with an open mind but didn’t do a deep dive into the subject.  I wish to elaborate on John’s good article on Elijah and Enoch and his sources (G. marsh Hibourne and Michael T. Wark).  While on the subject, I wanted to also develop 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 / Matthew 24:31 and John 11:25-26 and challenge those that think these texts also describe some kind of “rapture” off planet earth for believers either in AD 70 or at the end of world history.

While some Jewish tradition does support the idea that both Enoch and Elijah eventually died and were not “raptured,” much of Jewish tradition has Enoch ascending to heaven in a physical body to be at God’s side and is appointed guardian of all the celestial treasures and is made chief of the archangels.  He allegedly knows all secrets and mysteries and teaches and conducts souls to the place of joy.  He is known as “Prince of God’s Face,” “Prince of the Torah,” “Prince of Wisdom,” “Prince of Reason,” and “Prince of Glory.” And of course, he allegedly communicated God’s revelations to Moses.

As far as Elijah is concerned, in some Jewish tradition he too does not experience physical death but ascends to heaven and becomes half man half angel who cannot fly as fast as the other angels because he remains in a physical body.  What a drag (pun intended).

In Dispensational eschatology, Enoch and Elijah went to heaven and will appear back on earth as the two witnesses in Revelation 11 where they finally experience physical death but are raised after 3 days and then ascend back to heaven in their physical bodies.[1]  Even though these same Christians claim Jesus’ physical body after his resurrection was the “first” to have an “immortal body,” and that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom,” they apparently have no problem with Enoch and Elijah not experiencing physical death and being in heaven for thousands of years with physical bodies before Jesus shows up.  Some of them also reject Jesus’ teaching that John the Baptist was fulfilling the role Elijah and insist that Elijah will return to earth (again citing Rev. 11) before Jesus’ Second Coming can take place.

Since some of these same Christians believe Enoch and Elijah were “raptured” or taken to heaven in their physical bodies, they see these events as paving the way for Paul’s teaching in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 where Paul allegedly teaches Christ will one day “rapture” all the physical bodies of Christians off planet earth.  Even some so-called “Preterists” believe a physical “rapture” of Enoch and Elijah paves the way for an alleged physical “rapture” of the Church off the planet in AD 70.

Therefore, this article’s focus will be to examine if it is indeed true that Enoch and Elijah ascended to heaven without experiencing biological death, and then to take a deep dive into 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 to see if this passage teaches something similar.

The Testimony of the Bible on Ascending to Heaven and the Certainty of Physical Death   

In Jesus’ teaching to Nicodemus, He indirectly shoots down these unbiblical Jewish and Christian traditions of Enoch and Elijah having allegedly ascended to heaven: “No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man” (Jn. 3:13).  And the author of Hebrews himself includes these heroes of faith and yet states clearly, “These all died in faith…” (Heb. 11:13), while pointing out it is appointed for man to see and experience one final death event before judgment (Heb. 9:27).  The Psalmist asks the rhetorical question,“What man can live and never see death?” (Ps. 89:48).  Solomon answers it very straightforwardly, “All go to one place.  All are from the dust, and to dust all return.” (Ecl. 3:20).

While some men and women died and were raised temporarily (1 Kings 17:17-24; 2 Kings 4:32-37; 2 Kings 13:20-21; Lk. 7:11-17; Mark 5:35-43; Jn. 11:38-44; Mt. 27:52-53; Acts 9:36-43; Acts 20:9-10), I believe the point of the author of Hebrews when he says that “it is appointed for man to die once…” (Heb. 9:27), is to simply point out that all of our days here on earth are numbered, set and appointed (cf. Job 14:1-6; Ps. 139:16) and therefore, we all have ONE FINAL day of death we must all pass through and which cannot be escaped (see previous passages cited such as Ecl. 3:20).  There is one final day and death experience that all men must pass before they must be judged and it cannot be reversed just as Christ’s one sacrifice was final and cannot be repeated.  Just as one eventual and final death is certain for all men, Christ’s one sacrifice and His one Second Coming event “in a very, very little while and would not be delayed” (Heb. 10:37) in AD 70 was appointed and certain to take place.

None of these inspired authors and teachers of God’s Word tell us that Enoch and Elijah were the “exceptions” to this Biblical rule of ascension and or experiencing biological death and returning to the dust of the earth.

What follows are two more probable explanations or interpretations that harmonize with these passages when it comes to Enoch and Elijah.

The Case of Enoch

Let’s begin with the passage in Genesis 5 and then we will move on to how the author of Hebrews interprets it.

“And Enoch walked with God: and he was not, for God took him.” (Gen. 5:24)

Let’s break this passage down a bit.

1). “And he was not” (Gen. 5:24)

While some emphasize that the rest of the individuals in Genesis 5 are described as “and he died” and this phrase is not used for Enoch, they assume the phrase “was not” means he was physically raptured off the earth to not experience biological death.  They seem to miss that the phrase to describe Enoch “was not” is also a phrase for biological death:

“he was not…I sought him, but he could not be found.” (Ps. 37:36)

And concerning Joseph thought to be dead or described thus,

“…the youngest is this day with our father, and one is not.” (Gen. 42:13)

Those in the wilderness who ate mana are described as “and are not or simply “are dead” (Lam. 5:7; Jn. 6:58).

2). “…for God took him” (Gen. 5:24)

The Hebrew word here for “took” is laqach.  It and other similar Hebrew words are used to describe what God does to a person’s soul / spirit at physical death or what He will eventually do to his soul or spirit in the resurrection event.

John Bray following the research of G. Marsh Hilbourne and Michael T. Wark correctly observes some of the parallel language in the Wisdom of Solomon:

“In the Wisdom of Solomon (the Apocryphal book written before Christ) there is a chapter which tells how God removed certain righteous men (took them away) from the ungodly so that they would not be contaminated by their wickedness and deceit.  Here are several verses:

“But though the righteous be PREVENTED with DEATH, yet shall he be in rest.” (4:7).

Notice in the next verse the comparison to the New Testament saying about Enoch:

“He PLEASED God, and was beloved of him:  so that living among sinners he was TRANSLATED(4:10).  How was he translated?  Verse 7 spoke of his being taken by death.  In reading this, one could easily think the writer was writing about Enoch himself.

Yea, speedily was he taken away, lest that wickedness should alter his understanding, or deceit beguile his soul” (4:11).

“For his soul PLEASED the Lord; therefore hasted he to take him away from among the wicked” (4:14).

This is sufficient to show how someone who pleased God could be translated in the sense of being removed from the land of the wicked so their own character would not be spoiled.”[2]

While a different Hebrew word is used here for “take,” the concept is the same here in Isaiah,

“…merciful men (that “walk with God” or “please” Him) are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come” (Isa. 57:1).

Or notice the good death God gives the repentant King of Judah,

“Therefore, behold, I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace, and your eyes shall not see the disaster that I will bring upon this place.” (2 Kings 22:20).

In the context of Genesis 5-6, Enoch died or was “taken away” by God to rest in Abraham’s bosom (awaiting the Messiah and the promise of eternal life) before he saw the extreme wickedness of man come upon the face of the earth preceding the flood. God “took” Enoch so that he would not see the extreme wickedness that was to come and then God having to pour out His wrath in the coming flood.

In the context of Genesis 5-6, Enoch died or was “taken away” by God to rest in Abraham’s bosom (awaiting the Messiah and the promise of eternal life) before he saw the extreme wickedness of man come upon the face of the earth preceding the flood.  God “took” Enoch before he saw this wickedness and God pour out His wrath in the coming flood.

The OT saints were promised that their souls / spirits would not always be confined to Sheol, Hades or Abraham’s bosom, but would one day experience (at the resurrection event) a “taking away” into God’s presence.

“But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for he will “take me,” “snatch me,” or “receive me.” (Ps. 49:15)

And while laqach is not used in the following passage, the same thought in conveyed,

“You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will “take me,” “snatch me” or “receive me” to glory” (Ps. 73:24).

It is important to point out briefly at this point that some Jewish and Christian views of the resurrection do not include the physical body to be involved in the general judgment / resurrection event which would take place at the “end of the age.” I will address this in more detail later and prove that this kind of resurrection was fulfilled at the end of the old covenant age in AD 70.  This being the case, one must wonder why God would take or ascend the physical bodies of Enoch and Elijah to be in His presence in heaven or in Abraham’s bosom, to then only “take” their soul / spirit out of Hades or Abraham’s bosom to be in His presence at the resurrection event in AD 70?

Let’s now turn our attention to how the author of Hebrews interprets Genesis 5:24.

“By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him:” (Heb. 11:5)

Again, let’s break our passage down into exegetical particulars.

1). “By faith Enoch was translated…” (Heb. 11:5)

John Bray writes,

“The other passage in Hebrews 11:5 is a little more difficult.  The essence of the passage is that because Enoch pleased God, God “translated” him, and because of this, he did not see death.

Keep in mind, nothing is said here either about his being “translated” into heaven, but just translated so he would not see death.

Here both words, “translated” and “translation,” are from the same Greek word metatillemi, which means to transport, transfer, exchange, change sides, carry over, etc.  There is nothing said about any of this being done to get him to Heaven.

One of the words from which this Greek word is derived actually means “place…in a passive or horizontal posture.”  If this is the meaning, then it would mean that God “took him” in death.  (I know!  It says he “should not see death.”  Keep reading.).”[3]

“So, Enoch was one who pleased God to this extent, that God translated (removed) him from the environment of those who did not please God.  God laid him down in rest in such a way that Enoch never saw death.  It was not that Enoch did not die, but, rather, he never “saw” death.  How God did this we do not know.  Perhaps Enoch died peacefully in sleep or in some way in which he never “saw” death.

But Enoch did die!  We know this because Hebrews 11:13 says so.  After mentioning the differerent heroes of faith, including Enoch, the writer said, “These ALL DIED in faith…”. So Enoch died, as it said.  His translation consisted of being transferred out of the land of wickedness and laid to rest where no harm could come to him.”[4]

2). “…that he should not see death…” (Heb. 11:5)

The inspiration and source for John L. Bray’s position on Enoch and Elijah–Hibourne and Wark write of this phrase,

“How shall we reconcile this seeming contradiction?  Did Enoch “not see death,” or did he die “in faith, not having received the promises”?  The solution is to realize that the statement is that he should not see death, not “that he should not die.”  It must mean that God mercifully took Enoch out of this life to spare him the infirmities of old age, or from the hands of the wicked, as the Wisdom of Solomon seems to indicate.

Another possibility is that Enoch did not “see” death, but instead, saw the future life in the Kingdom of God.  He knew his next conscious moment would be the resurrection from the dead.

“In any case, we must conclude that Enoch did die, that he died in faith, not having received the promises and that he shall receive the promises at the resurrection of the dead, along with the rest of the overcomers (Heb. 11:40).”[5]

The Second Possibility – of not seeing death

Let’s briefly explore these two “possibilities” starting with the last one.  In the OT the phrase to “not see death” can be the righteous faithfully looking towards inheriting eternal life in the resurrection:

“In the path/way [“I AM the WAY” – Jesus] of virtue is eternal life, And the treading of her way is no death.” (Prov. 12:28 ESV).

This is strikingly similar to Jesus’ teaching,

“If a man keep my sayings, He shall never see death” (Jn. 8:51; 11:26).

This second “possibility” fits well with the overall context and or theological point of Hebrews 11 in that all these died believing in the hope of a “better resurrection” or receiving a “heavenly land”—that is to be “perfected” with the living in the new covenant Messianic resurrection age to come (Heb. 11:35-40; Jn. 11:25-26).  After teaching that “If anyone keeps my Word, he will never see death” (Jn. 8:51), Jesus says of Abraham, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.” (Jn. 8:56).

In the days of Messiah coming and eternal life being in the process of being received, we read in Colossians 1 that believers are “translated” with the goal of having a “walk” worthy of “pleasing” God (Cols. 1:10-13).  In other words, what Enoch saw through faith, the Colossians were experiencing and would at Christ’s Second Coming in AD 70.

The First Possibility – of not seeing death

The first position that Bray, Hibourne and Wark lean towards which is compatible with the Wisdom of Solomon, is that the phrase is referring Enoch’s death as being unique.  The Greek word here for “death” is thanatos.  In the ancient world, the Greeks understood Thanatos to be the god of a non-violent death.  His touch was gentle and comparable to his twin brother Hypnos (sleep).

To “not see death” simply could mean that Enoch’s faith and pleasing walk with God was rewarded by giving him a pleasant death.  That is, Enoch could have died in his sleep and did not experience a painful or diseased process of death and his soul / spirit was “taken” as such before seeing and experiencing all of the evil coming upon the world and God pouring out His wrath in the coming flood.

If this is what is being referred to then again these passages describing a good death for a godly man and what he would not “see” before being “taken” or “gathered” is relevant:

“…merciful men (that “walk with God” or “please” Him) are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come” (Isa. 57:1).

And,

“Therefore, behold, I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace, and your eyes shall not see the disaster that I will bring upon this place.” (2 Kings 22:20).

For Enoch to be prevented to “not see death” was to not see a certain or particular kind of death – one not in peace and one that would “see disaster.”

3). “…and was not found” (Heb. 11:5)

Again, this need not be a phrase that Enoch’s physical body ascended to heaven or that after God “took” Enoch’s soul / spirit that his physical body could not be found (as was the case with Moses), but rather this phrase was simply another way of communicating that Enoch did experience physical death, “he was not…I sought him, but he could not be found.” (Ps. 37:36).

4). because God had translated him [that is took his spirit or soul in a non-violent or non-diseased or painful death]:” (Heb. 11:5)

So, here is a summary of the more probable interpretations of Hebrews 11:5:

A).  By faith Enoch was translated [God “took” Enoch’s soul / spirit]

B).  that he should not see [experience a violent or diseased – Wisdom of Solomon] death

B).  and was not found [another biblical phrase for physical death]

A).  because God had translated [God “took Enoch’s soul / spirit] him.

Or a possible double meaning for “took” and the concept of death in that the first (A) – a spiritual taking emphasizing a view towards not seeing spiritual death or the second death in the coming resurrection event (B) a reference to biological death, and (A) in that God “took” him early in a non-violent physical death:

A).  By faith Enoch was translated [God “took” Enoch’s soul or converted him Cols. 1:13]

B).  that he should not see death [a view to not seeing spiritual death Jn. 8:51; Jn. 11:25-26]

B).  and was not found [another biblical phrase for physical death]

A).  because God had translated [God “took Enoch’s soul / spirit] him.

The author of Hebrews finishes or forms a chiasm with Genesis 5:24 and possibly providing a deeper meaning to the passage:

Genesis 5:24

A).  And Enoch WALKED WITH GOD:

B).  and HE WAS NOT;

C).  For God TOOK him.

Hebrews 11:5 — D).  By faith

C).  Enoch was TRANSLATED that he should not see death;

B).  and WAS NOT FOUND, because God had translated him:

A).  for before his translation he had this testimony, that HE PLEASED GOD.[6]

In my estimation, either of these exegetical “possibilities” or a combination of them, is more theologically sound and probable than adopting an understanding of Genesis 5:24 and Hebrews 11:5 which would contradict John 3:13 and Hebrews 11:13 – which the traditional interpretation does.

The Case of Elijah 

The first thing that the exegete should take notice of is the words of Obadiah to Elijah,

“And as soon as I have gone from you, the Spirit of the LORD will carry you I know not where.” (1 Kings 18:12)

Clearly Elijah had a reputation of the Holy Spirit “carrying him” away and hiding him and it was known even by the other “prophets” (2 Kings 2:16).  And this is exactly what happens in our key passage:

“Now when the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal.” (2 Kings 2:1)

“And the sons of the prophets who were in Bethel came out to Elisha and said to him, “Do you know that today the Lordwill take away your master from over you?” And he said, “Yes, I know it; keep quiet.” (2 Kings 2:3).

“And as they still went on and talked, behold, chariots of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.  And Elisha saw it and he cried, “My father, my father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” And he saw him no more.” (2 Kings 2:11-12).

“Whirlwind” or “Storm”?

“Whirlwind” is a bad translation, it should be “storm.”  The false gods Israel had been worshipping were known to be the sun, fire and storm gods.  God answers Elijah’s prayer to bring fire down to communicate that Israel’s covenant God is the one who really controls fire.  God answers Elijah’s prayer to not send rain because Israel’s God is the one who truly controls the storms and rain.

And so now here, once again Israel’s God is depicted as the true storm God who will carry / take Elijah up in the “storm” and “heaven” (that is in the sky heaven – not the heaven of the spiritual realm where God is).

Elijah is carried up into the sky/heaven by a storm and not the chariots of fire.  The chariots of fire only separate Elijah from Elisha (2 Kings 2:11).

The prophets want to go look for Elijah, because they know God has “carried him away” in the past.  But Elisha knows they will not find him, not because he somehow ascended into the spiritual heaven where God is, but because he knows God has taken him up in the sky/heaven and hidden him far from them.

Elisha takes over Elijah’s prophetic position over Israel while God takes and hides Elijah to eventually bring forth a word to the King of Judah – Jehoram, through a written letter.  This is not a letter written by Elijah from God’s presence in heaven (2 Chron. 21:12-15) – lol.

There is simply no exegetical evidence that Elijah did not experience biological death because he was taken to heaven to be in God’s presence.  The “heaven” is the sky where the “storm” was!  Elijah had a reputation of God “carrying” him off and hiding him to do His work and thus Elijah was taken in a storm and stayed hidden for 10 years before writing a prophetic letter of judgment upon Jehoram (the son of a King he had previously ministered).

Concluding Enoch & Elijah

Hebrews 11 discusses Enoch directly and Elijah indirectly (the “prophets” some of whom raised the dead v. 32ff.) as being included among those who “ALL died in faith” looking to the “better resurrection” or “heavenly land.”  They were NOT “raptured to heaven” in physical bodies looking for physical bathrooms and physical food for sustenance or somehow turned into half men and half angels!

The Jew did not separate the land and Jerusalem promises from the resurrection promises.  Therefore, if the “heavenly land” and “city” are spiritual in Hebrews 11 and the city was “about to come” (Heb. 13:14 Greek mello) in AD 70, the spiritual resurrection was also about to be fulfilled.  This and the overall context of Hebrews is to show that the spiritual “new covenant” things described as the “true” or “better” promises are superior to the physical and typological old covenant promises.  Thus, the “better resurrection” is a spiritual one and it was likewise “about to be” fulfilled as even Paul states – “there is about to be a resurrection of the just and unjust” (Acts 24:15YLT).

John 11:25-26

A spiritual resurrection and reception of eternal life or physical/biological?

Since we have made the “possible” connection between Hebrews 11:5 with “seeing” through the eyes of faith a coming “better resurrection” or “never see death” in connection with John 8:51 and John 11:25-26, and some have egregiously taken “never see death” in John 11:26 as a physical or biological “rapture” in AD 70, we should spend some time on this passage.

In the gospel of John up to chapter 11, the physical typology of the feasts and physical sign miracles point to the deeper, spiritual, and eternal anti-type fulfillment or miracle performed within a person.  The point is to restore God’s presence back to man through the redemptive work of Christ by giving the gift of eternal life.  It is within these contexts that Jesus declares His “I AM” statements which are all spiritual (unless Jn. 11:25 be the exception to this rule).  It is during the context of the Feasts of Passover and Booths along with the miracles of feeding the 5,000 with bread and healing a blind man that Jesus utters:  “I AM the [spiritual] Bread/Water of life” (6:35), “I AM the [spiritual] Light of the world” (8:12; 9:5), “I AM the [spiritual] Door” (10:9), “I AM the [spiritual] Good Shepherd” (10:11) – who gives the spiritual blind spiritual sight and guidance into a [spiritual] Kingdom that will be realized “within them” at His Second Coming in AD 70 (18:36; cf. Lk. 17:20-37/Lk. 21:27-32).

Therefore, consistent with the context and teaching of Jesus thus far in John, Jesus waits 4 days to perform His physical sign miracle of resurrecting Lazarus, and to declare, “I AM the [spiritual] Resurrection and [spiritual] Life (11:25).  And every reference to “life” thus far in John’s gospel is referring to [spiritual] and not physical life (chapters 1, 3, 4, 5, 6 & 10).

It is important to point out that some Jews prior to the NT and during the time it was written, believed the resurrection event at the end of their present age (which was the old covenant age) would result in the dead being raised spiritually [their souls or spirits] from Hades or Abraham’s bosom into God’s presence to inherit eternal life.  This is the view of Jesus and the NT authors.  The believing dead and then the living were raised from the spiritual curse/death/separation that came through Adam to inherit “eternal life” or “never die” at Christ’s parousia in AD 70.  Since “eternal life” is equivalent to “never die” or “never see death,” this promise has nothing to do with not experiencing physical or biological death at an alleged physical “rapture” event either in AD 70 or at the end of world history.

Jewish Views on the Resurrection

Many Talmudic Zionists, Muslims and Dispensational Zionists simply assume that the only concept of the resurrection of the dead in the OT and during Jesus’ day was a biological fleshly one in which an alleged individual’s physical/ spiritual body would emerge from the literal grave at the end of time and thus be fitted for the afterlife in the new creation or some paradise on earth.  But this is simply not the case.

I like how Lester L. Grabbe points out that, during the Second Temple period, the interpretations of the resurrection in the OT were not all necessarily understood to refer to the physical body. They included the view that the resurrection involved only the souls/spirits of individuals being fit for God’s presence either at death, or only their souls were raised at a general judgment of the dead event.  He points out that there is no evidence that the physical view was any more dominant than the spiritual view.  While lengthy, I think his historical comments will be helpful before we begin an exegesis of the OT and NT resurrection texts and simply assume they are addressing a biological resurrection at the end of time when Jesus or Messiah comes:

“It is sometimes asserted that the resurrection of the body was the characteristic Jewish belief. This is not borne out by the data. A variety of beliefs seem to be attested about the same time in Israelite history. One of these was the resurrection of the body, but there is little reason to think that it was earlier or more characteristic of Jewish thinking than the immortality of the soul or resurrection of the spirit. And it is clear that some Jews still maintained the older belief in no afterlife. The Sadducees (see section 2.7) are one group who thought so; so did Ben Sira. Writing about 190 bce Ben Sira does not seem to think of any life beyond death, as interpreted by the vast majority of scholars. Therefore, it would be quite wrong to refer to any of these beliefs as ‘characteristically’ Jewish or the Jewish belief on the subject.”[7]

“The exact form of the resurrection is not always specified, but we should not expect it always to entail resurrection of the body. Sometimes only the resurrection of the spirit is in mind, as in Jubilees 23:20–22:

And at that time the Lord will heal his servants, and they shall be exalted and prosper greatly; and they shall drive out their adversaries. And the righteous shall see it and be thankful, and rejoice with joy for ever and ever; and they shall see all the punishments and curses that had been their lot falling on their enemies. And their bones shall rest in the earth, and their spirits shall have much joy; and they shall know that the Lord is one who executes judgement, and shows mercy to hundreds, and to tens of thousands, and to all that love him.

Belief in the immortality of the soul is known at least as early as the Book of Watchers (1 Enoch 1–36). The souls of the various sorts of people are preserved in hollow places after death (1 Enoch 22):

And from there I went to another place, and he showed me in the west a large and high mountain, and a hard rock and four beautiful places, and inside it was deep and wide and very smooth . . . Then Raphael, one of the holy angels who was with me, answered me and said to me, These beautiful places are intended for this, that the spirits, the souls of the dead, might be gathered into them; for them they were created, that here they might gather all the souls of the sons of men. And these places they made where they will keep them until the day of their judgement and until their appointed time – and that appointed time will be long – until the great judgement comes upon them.

As the rest of the passage indicates, the souls of the dead are already experiencing reward and punishment in their intermediate state. In this case, the existence of the soul after death seems to be combined with the idea of a final judgement. This may imply a general resurrection, though this is not stated explicitly. In other sections of 1 Enoch, a resurrection is mentioned (46:6; 51:1; 90:33; 91:10; 92:3–4).

Other sources give no indication of a resurrection at all, only the immortal soul. A good example is Wisdom of Solomon which speaks of the soul (e.g., 3:1–9) but does not mention the resurrection. Whether Wisdom thinks the souls of all are immortal, or only those of the righteous, is debated. Many feel that immortality is not inherent in the soul itself but is a gift given only to the righteous.

The Testament of Abraham gives the clearest picture of how the souls are judged after death (Version A 11–14; Version B 9–11). The souls are brought before a throne on which Abel sits as judge. The one who presents the souls for judgement is Enoch, the scribe of righteousness (Version B only). The judged souls go either through the strait gate which leads to life (for the righteous) or the broad gate to destruction (for the sinners). Although there is a brief indication of belief in a general resurrection in the Testament of Abraham (Version B 7:16), judgement of each individual seems to take place immediately after death, and the emphasis is on this immediate judgement of the soul while the body rests in the grave.

On the other hand, the immortal souls and the resurrection may be combined, as in 2 Baruch 29–30:

[30:2] And it shall come to pass at that time that the treasuries will be opened in which is preserved the number of the souls of the righteous, and they will come out, and the multitude of souls will appear together in one single assembly; and those who are first will rejoice, and those who are last will not be cast down. For each one of them will know that the predetermined end of the times has come. But the souls of the wicked, when they see all this, will be the more discomforted. For they will know that their torment is upon them and that their perdition has arrived.[8]

Murray J. Harris after examining the intertestamental period of Judaism agrees:

“And there is the concept of the immortality of the soul or spirit that is gained at death or at the End [of the Mosaic age], with or without a resurrection of the [physical] body.”[9]

In Jewish tradition and exegesis there is also the view that the resurrection takes place 40 years after Messiah,

“Jewish writings stipulate that forty years after the coming of the Messiah there will be a resurrection of the dead, and all who are lying in dust will rise to new life.” (The 13 Principles and the Resurrection of the Dead) The Rebbe often quotes the Zohar to the effect that the Resurrection will take place 40 years after the advent of Mashiach. (See Igros Kodesh, Vol. II, p. 75; Sefer HaSichos 5752, Vol. I, p. 274. However, there are also other references in the sichos (e.g., Likkutei  Sichos, Vol. XXVII, p. 206; Sefer HaSichos 5733, Shabbos Parshas Balak, footnote 3).”[10]

The fact that the resurrection could be a resurrection of spirits out of Hades in the coming judgment and that it would be fulfilled 40 years after Messiah was cut-off or during His transitionary reign between their old covenant “this age” and the new covenant “age about to come” fits perfectly with the teachings of Jesus and the NT authors.  Let’s now turn our attention to Christian orthodoxy and see if such a spiritual resurrection in AD 70 can be seen in “rapture” or Second Coming passages such as 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 and Matthew 24:30-31.

1 Thessalonians 4:15-17

A spiritual resurrection and “rapture” or a physical/biological one? 

Before we begin laying the context of 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 let’s briefly make the connections with our previous passage in John 11:25-26:

Jn. 11:25: “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 1 Thess. 4:16:  For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
Jn. 11:26: “and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 1 Thess. 4:17:  Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.

There are even stronger connections between 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 with that of Matthew 24:30-31 and will be the subject for which we now turn.  But first we must develop the context and find the contextual flow and how 1 Thess. 4:16-17 harmonizes with the rest of 1-2 Thessalonians.

Laying the context of 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17

1 Thessalonians 1:10

“…for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath” (1 Thess. 1:9-10).

“Wait” with eager expectation 

The Thessalonians were to eagerly wait for Christ.  The definition of “wait” (Greek anaménō) has to do with an eager anxiousness coupled with a confident trust to complete a process.  In this case it involves confidence in trusting Christ’s promise to come and vindicate and rescue the first century Thessalonians.   

Dispensational Zionist pastor, John MacArthur, writes of this passage:

“…the immanency of the deliverance was something Paul felt could happen in their lifetimes.”[11]

Did Paul just “feel” that it could happen or did he write it as an inspired and authoritative apostle being ‘led into all truth,” trusting in the very words of Jesus Himself that He would return at the end of the old covenant age, in their generation, and in some of their lifetimes (Matt. 10:22-23; 16:27-28; 24:27-34)?!?

“From heaven”

The definition of “heaven” here can mean the literal sky and clouds where the birds fly, but in Pauline eschatology the term “from heaven” is primarily dealing with God’s heavenly dwelling where His presence is along with the angelic hosts.

To “rescue” the Thessalonians to Himself

The definition of rescue here is “rhýomai (from eryō, “draw to oneself“) – properly, draw or (pull) to oneself; to rescue (“snatch up”); to draw or rescue a person to and for the deliverer.  To draw or snatch from danger, rescue, deliver.” This is more with the meaning of drawing to one’s self rather than merely rescuing from someone or something.[12]

From the “coming wrath”

God laid a trap for the Jews who were persecuting the Thessalonians in that they went to Jerusalem for the feast days in and around AD 66/67 in order to experience His wrath.  Christians that did go to Jerusalem to fellowship with the Jerusalem Church in AD 66/67 fled the city and were rescued from this wrath.

Jews who especially sympathized with the Jewish revolt were persecuted throughout Rome during this period – 50,000 died in Egypt alone.  Christians were known for being peaceful law-abiding citizens contrary to their Zealot counterparts.

Paul’s doctrine on an imminent first century coming of Christ and wrath to be poured out upon their persecuting enemies is in line with Jesus’ teaching in Luke 21:20-23 and Matthew 23.  This is also the same “wrath” that was “about to come” upon the Pharisees, according to John the Baptist’s eschatology (Mt. 3:7-12 GNT). 

Partial Preterists, such as Gary DeMar, concede that the coming of Christ here in 1 Thessalonians 1:10 was fulfilled in AD 70.  But Gary fails to do any exegetical work to harmonize his Preterist interpretation of 1 Thessalonians 1:10 with his futurist creedal view of 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17.  In both passages, Christ comes “from heaven” to “snatch” or “catch” away His people to Himself.  On what exegetical grounds is the first passage apocalyptic while the latter passage is supposed to be a physical biological transformation?!?  Why would the Thessalonians think that these are two different comings of Christ “from heaven” to “snatch” or “catch” His people to Himself?   

1 Thessalonians 1:10 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17
1). First century audience – “you”, “us” 1). First century audience – “we.”
2). Eager expectation – imminence 2). “We who are still alive…” – imminent expectation
3). Christ comes “from heaven.” 3). Christ comes “from heaven”
4). Jesus’ resurrection is mentioned as a sign or event guaranteeing that the living would be rescued 4). Jesus’ resurrection is mentioned as a sign or event guaranteeing the dead in Christ would be raised and the living would be brought into God’s presence
5). “Snatches” from wrath but to Christ. 5). “Catches/snatches away” to Christ

 1 Thessalonians 2:14-20 

“For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, for you also endured the same sufferings at the hands of your own countrymen, even as they did from the Jews, who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out. They are not pleasing to God, but hostile to all men, forbidding us to speak to the nations that they might be saved, to fill up their sins always, but the anger did come (past tense) upon them – [even] to the end!  “…For we wanted to come to you—certainly I, Paul, did, again and again—but Satan stopped us.  For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not even you, in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming? For you are our glory and joy” (1 Thess. 2:14-16, 19-20).

We learn several things about this passage in connection with chapter 1.

The “waiting process” of 1:10 is further clarified in chapter two as waiting for their Jewish persecutors to “fill up the measure of their sins” before Christ comes to execute this wrath.

The YLT and JFB catch something interesting about this wrath, in that it had already begun and is actually in the past tense – “forbidding us to speak to the nations that they might be saved, to fill up their sins always, but the anger did come (past tense) upon them – [even] to the end! (1 Thess. 2:16).

Speaking about the past tense here, JFB says:

“[This is] not merely partial wrath, but wrath to its full extent, “even to the finishing stroke” [Edmunds]. The past tense implies that the fullest visitation of wrath was already begun. Already in A.D. 48, a tumult had occurred at the Passover in Jerusalem, when about thirty thousand (according to some) were slain; a foretaste of the whole vengeance which speedily followed (Lu 19:43, 44; 21:24).”[13]

*Was this the event or perceived “Day of the Lord” judgment that the false teachers and prophets were saying had “already” been fulfilled in 2 Thessalonians 2?  1 & 2 Thessalonians were written between AD 50-52.  The Judaizers wanted a “Christianity” with the Mosaic Law to continue.  So they needed a “Day of the Lord” that did not involve doing away with the temple system.

This “wrath” would be fully realized at “the end” [or the wrath that would be poured out at “the time of the end” or end of the old covenant age (cf. Dan. 12:4; Mt. 13:3943; Mt. 24:3ff.)].  Paul is in perfect harmony with Jesus’ teaching:

Matthew 23-24 1 Thessalonians 1-2
1). Prediction of persecution, suffering & death 1). Present persecution & suffering
2). The Jews killed the prophets, Jesus predicts His death (cf. Lk. 17:25), and that of the deaths of the NT prophets He would send in that generation 2). The Jews killed Jesus & the prophets
3). Jesus pronounces seven “woes” upon the Jews 3). Paul says the Jewish persecutors are not pleasing to God
4). Jews sought to hinder Christ from “gathering” and preaching the gospel to Jerusalem’s “children” so that they could be saved 4). Jews sought to hinder Paul from preaching the gospel so that others might be saved
5). The Jews were “filling up the measure of their sin” 5) Paul says the Jews were “filling up the measure of their sins”
6). Christ was going to come:  (Gk. Parousia – implied from heaven) to deliver Christians and render wrath and judgment upon that first century Jewish audience and upon their temple – in their “this generation” 6). Christ was going to come:  (Gk. Parousia – from heaven) to deliver Christians and render wrath and judgment upon that first century Jewish audience
7) The coming of Christ in salvation and wrath takes place at “the end (Greek Telos) of the age” (of the old covenant age) 7). The coming of Christ in salvation and wrath upon persecutors takes place at “the end” (Greek Telos)
8) Judgment of living (those Pharisees) and dead (judging Cain for Abel’s blood) & gathering of all the elect at the trumpet call – in their “this generation” 8) Judgment of the living

1 Thessalonians 3:13 

“May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones” (1 Thess. 3:13).

“Blameless” or “spotless”

The Thessalonians would be blameless (or “spotless”) and holy at Christ’s Parousia.  Paul is using the eschatological marriage terminology here of blameless / holy –  without spot.  Keith Mathison writes of this passage in connection with the resurrection:

“Paul teaches that all believers will be resurrected at Christ’s second coming (1 Cor. 15:23).  He teaches that all believers will be presented as a spotless bride at that time (Eph. 5:25-27; cf. 1 Thess. 3:13).”[14]

However, as usual, Partial Preterists have a hard time agreeing what passages about the coming of the Lord were fulfilled in AD 70 and which ones are allegedly going to be fulfilled at the end of world history.  For example, unlike Mathison, Gary DeMar admits that 1 Thessalonians 3:10 was fulfilled in AD 70.  So, if 1 Thessalonians 3:10 is a wedding Parousia/resurrection text inseparably connected to 1 Corinthians 15:23, and yet 1 Thessalonians 3:10 was fulfilled in AD 70, then the Parousia of 1 Corinthians 15:23 was also fulfilled in AD 70 (A=B).

And as we saw earlier, if men like Mathison believe the coming of Christ and wedding or wedding feast of Matthew 8:10-12; 22:2-7; 25:1-13; Revelation 19-21 was fulfilled in AD 70, how does this coming of Christ and wedding motif get magically pushed thousands of years away into another wedding and coming of Christ?  Partial Preterists simply offer no explanation.    

Christ comes “with all his holy ones” (angels, people, or both)?

First view – Angels: The argument that Christ is coming with angels as His “holy ones” is in how the LXX of Zech. 14:5 is understood (from which this passage and Mt. 25:31 are derived).  Angelic beings is how the term is understood in the OT (ex. Job 5:1; 15:15; Ps. 89:5, 7; Dan. 8:13) and in the texts of the intertestamental period (e.g. 1 Enoch 1:9) depicting God’s angels as being present on the last day of judgment.

Although the key word “holy ones” is not used in 2 Thessalonians 1:7, but rather the noun form is used to say that Christ comes with His “powerful angels,” the concept is the same.

Second view – Saints/people: In 2 Thessalonians 1:10, Christ comes to be glorified “in” His “holy ones,” which are people “who have believed,” the passage states.

Third view – “all” here refers to both people & angels: Some commentators suggest that both are in view.  This is my view after looking at what the OT says, what the intertestamental period teaches, and finally what the NT teaches on the subject.

Let’s once again get the contextual flow of Paul’s teaching on the coming of the Lord in the previous chapters leading into 1 Thessalonians 4, which demonstrates that Paul only has one coming of the Lord in view here.  And if some Partial Preterists are willing to admit that the coming of Christ in 1 Thessalonians 1-3, and even in chapter 5, was fulfilled in AD 70, there is no exegetical evidence to support the idea that the coming of Christ in 1 Thessalonians 4 is a different coming.

1 Thessalonians 1:10—3:13 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17
1). First century audience – “you”, “us” 1). First century audience – “we”
2). Eager expectation – imminence 2). “We who are still alive…” – imminent expectation
3). Christ comes “from heaven” 3). Christ comes “from heaven”
4). Jesus’ resurrection is mentioned as a sign or event guaranteeing that the living would be rescued 4). Jesus’ resurrection is mentioned as a sign or event guaranteeing the dead in Christ would be raised and the living would be “caught” away into God’s presence
5). To be “snatched” away from wrath but to Christ 5). To be “caught” away to Christ
6). Christ comes (Greek Parousia) 6). Christ comes (Greek Parousia).
7). “The end” (Greek Telos) here is Daniel’s “time of the end,” or at the “end of the age” when the judgment and resurrection takes place (cf. Dan. 12:113; Mt. 13:39-43; Mt. 24:30-31; and 1 Cor. 15:24) 7). No one disputes that the resurrection here is the resurrection to take place at “the end” in Daniel 12:1-7 or “the end” (Greek Telos) in 1 Corinthians 15:24
8). Christ’s coming is described with wedding terminology; they were to be “spotless” or “blameless” and “holy” in coming into the presence of their coming Groom 8). Paul uses a well-known wedding term in which a bride would “meet” her groom
9). Christ comes with all His “holy ones” – that is, angels and the dead he raises in chapter 4 which constitute the rest of the bride 9). Christ comes with those dead saintsthat He raised out of Abraham’s bosom or Hades to go “meet” them so that they all could be “with the Lord forever

And since so many agree with us that Paul is simply following Jesus’ eschatology in Matthew 23-24 or Luke 21, let’s get a visual of these parallels:

1 Thessalonians 1:10—3:13 Matthew 23-24/Luke 21
1). First century audience “you”, “us” 1). First century audience “you”
2). Eagerly wait – imminence 2). “This generation” “near” “at the door”
3). Christ comes (Greek Parousia) 3). Christ comes (Greek Parousia).
4). Christ comes from heaven. 4). Christ comes on clouds.
5). To “snatch” from wrath to Christ 5). To “gather” to Christ
6). Delivers from wrath 6). Saves from wrath
7). Jews killed prophets and Jesus & currently persecuting Thessalonians 7). Jews killed prophets & will kill NT prophets Jesus sends (e.g. to Thessalonica)
8). Jews filling up the measure of their sin of blood guilt 8). Jews filling up the measure of their sin of blood guilt
9). Wrath poured out at “the end” (Greek Telos) 9). Wrath poured out at “the end” or “end of the age” (Greek Telos)

 

10).Christ comes with all His holy ones (including angels and the dead per chapter 4) – which constitute the rest of the bride 10). Christ comes and sends his angels to gather all the elect (dead and living)
11).Christ’s coming is described with wedding terminology – they were to be “spotless,” “blameless” and “holy” in order to come into the presence of their coming Groom 11). Christ’s coming is described with wedding terminology – “Here’s the bridegroom!  Come out and meet Him.”

1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 

“For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep.  For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus, we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:15-17).

A day was approaching when Christ would deliver believers from their persecutions and pour out His wrath upon their persecutors (1 Thess. 1:10; cf. 2 Thess. 1:6–7). When that day came, the Lord descended from heaven with a word of command (or “a shout”), with an archangelic voice, and with a trumpet call of God; and the dead in Christ rose.  Then the living in Christ and the dead in Christ were simultaneously “caught up” in “clouds” to “a meeting of the Lord in the air.”

Since the cloud-covered mountain is not literal, but is heavenly, neither then was the meeting that took place in the heavenly mountain (i.e., in the clouds in the air) literal.

Therefore, the shout, voice, trumpet, mountain, cloud, and meeting of 1 Thessalonians 4:16 are all spiritual antitypes of the literal shout, voice, trumpet, mountain, cloud, and meeting of Exodus 19 and 20 (Heb. 12:18–22).

What we have then in 1 Thessalonians 4:15–17 is the “rapturously” metaphorical language of a prophet who is speaking of antitypical, spiritual realities —the transcendent profundities of Christological glory in and among the saints in the consummation of the ages.  If this sounds

like an over-spiritualization, it shouldn’t. The Lord Jesus Himself was opposed to a literal removal of the church out of the world:

 “I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one” (John 17:15).

The “rapture” passage is no more literal than the prophecy of Ezekiel 37:4–14.  In that passage, God caused a valley full of dry bones to come together.  He attached tendons to them and put skin on them. Then He caused the bodies to breathe and they stood on their feet as a vast army. The bones represented the house of Israel.  They were hopelessly cut off from the land, and were said to be in “graves.” As God had done for the dry bones, He was going to do for the house of Israel.

In the same way, in 1 Thessalonians 4:15–17, God raised up His church —the first fruits of the resurrection harvest— which was anxiously longing for the consummation of redemption and atonement.  As a mighty warrior, the Lord issued forth his shout of command and sounded the trumpet of God. Then His spiritual army arose by His power.  They met Him on His way to His temple to judge the enemies in His kingdom (Mal. 3:1). That is when God afflicted the persecutors of His church, when He gave His people relief and glorified Himself in them (2 Thess. 1:8–10).

Being revealed with Christ in glory (Col. 3:4) and becoming like Him and seeing Him in His Parousia (1 Jn. 3:2) had nothing to do with escaping physical death or with being literally caught up into the literal sky or with being biologically changed.  It had to do with God’s people, living and dead, being “gathered together” to become His eternal tabernacle, His spiritual body, the new man, the heavenly Mount Zion, and the New Jerusalem in the Spirit. “This mystery is great” (Eph. 5:32), and is therefore communicated in the accommodative “sign language” of prophetic metaphor.

Since our Lord came “with His saints” and destroyed the earthly temple in AD 70 (Heb. 9:8), the church of all ages lives and reigns in glory with Him forever (Rom. 6:8; 2 Cor. 13:4; 2 Tim. 2:11–12). Now whether we are alive or asleep, we “live together with Him” (1 Thess. 5:10).  This was not the case in the OT, when to die was to be cut off from the people of God.  As Paul says in Romans 14:8–9, “…whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.  For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.” 

“According to the Lord’s own word” (4:15)

Reformed theologian G.K. Beale agrees with Full Preterism on two issues here.  First, he agrees that Paul is using recapitulation between 1 Thessalonians 4-5 (or that both chapters describe the same coming of Christ and eschatological event).  Secondly, he agrees with us that Paul is drawing from Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 24:

“…1 Thess. 4:15-17 describes generally the same end-time scenario as 1 Thess. 5:1-11.  Specifically, Paul narrates the resurrection at the end of the age and then recapitulates in chapter 5 by speaking about the timing of this event and about the judgment on unbelievers, which will also happen at the same time.  That both 4:15-18 and 5:1-11 explain the same events is discernible from observing that both passages actually form one continuous depiction of the same narrative in Matthew 24,…”[15]

As I have previously demonstrated in my previous books, Jesus used recapitulation in Matthew 24-25.  In Matthew 24:30-31, Jesus’ coming is describing the gathering or resurrection of believers.  In Matthew 25:31-46, His coming includes a judgment (and thus resurrection) for the unbelieving dead as well.  So, it should not surprise us that Paul is using recapitulation here to connect 1 Thessalonians 4-5.  In 4:16-17 the emphasis on His coming is the resurrection of believers.  In chapter 5 His coming includes the judgment for unbelievers.  One has to be blind not to notice what Beale and Full Preterists see:

“…both passages [1 Thess. 4-5] actually form one continuous depiction of the same narrative in Matthew 24…”[16]

And yet one has to be equally blind not to notice that Jesus’ places this coming in His generation, and this is why Paul is teaching that Christ would come in the lifetime of his contemporaries.

Beale goes on to connect 1 Thessalonians 4-5 with Matthew 24:

“Other significant parallels include: the use of the word Parousia for Christ’s coming; reference to Christ’s advent as “that day” (Mt. 24:36) or “the day of the Lord” (1 Thess. 5:2); and a description of someone coming to “meet” another (eis apantesin autou, virgins coming out to “meet” the bridegroom in Mt. 25:6; eis apantesin tou kyriou, believers “meeting” the Lord in 1 Thess. 4:17; see further Waterman 1975).”[17]

Once again, the eschatological time of the wedding creates problems for Pretribulational Zionists or Partial Preterists.  How many eschatological weddings are there?

In the Reformed Study Bible edited by Partial Preterists R.C. Sproul and Keith Mathison, we learn this of the connections between Matthew 24:30-31 and 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17:

“But the language of Matt. 24:31 is parallel to passages like 13:41; 16:27; and 25:31 [passages which Postmillennialists such as Mathison and DeMar say were fulfilled in AD 70], as well as to passages such as 1 Cor. 15:52 and 1 Thess. 4:14-17.  The passage most naturally refers to the Second Coming.”

This is more than a bit odd since R.C. Sproul and Keith Mathison believe and teach that the coming of Christ in Matthew 24:27-30 (and Matthew 25:31) was spiritually fulfilled in AD 70 – and yet we learn in their own Study Bible that these passages “most naturally refer to the Second Coming”!

John Murray, appealing to the “analogy of faith” principle of interpretation in examining Matthew 24:30-31, also connects it to the same event as Paul teaches us here:

“There is ample allusion to the sound of the trumpet and to the ministry of angels elsewhere in the New Testament in connection with Christ’s advent (1 Cor. 15:52; 1 Thess. 4:16).  Hence verse 31 can most readily be taken to refer to the gathering of the elect at the resurrection.”[18]

Let’s once again get the visual of what Beale, Murray and The Reformation Bible are seeing that we do too:

If A (Matthew 24) is = B (1 Thessalonians 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 shining from east to west / Sons of the Day 24:27, 36, & 38 5:4-8
And if B (1 Thessalonians 4) is = to C (1 Corinthians 15)
The sleeping to be raised 4:13-14 15:12-18
The living to be caught/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 (Matthew 24 & Parallels) is = to C (1 Corinthians 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 Mosaic Law/temple Mt. 24:1 15:55-56
Same contemporary “you” or “we” Mt. 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 to Him (4:17) Status of living changed (15:51)

We readily and clearly can see that Paul is following Jesus’ teaching in the Olivet Discourse, but we can also see and agree with the Partial Preterist that the coming of Christ and gathering of the elect are spiritual events fulfilled in Jesus’ contemporary “this generation.”

A recent new development with “Orthodox” Partial Preterism

Gary DeMar and James Jordan of American Vision are now teaching this is not a mere post AD 70 evangelism, but a resurrection event of OT and NT souls being raised out of Abraham’s bosom or Hades into God’s presence in AD 70. In a recent debate with Michael Brown Gary applied this to the souls of the OT dead being raised into God’s presence in AD 70.  James Jordan while teaching Daniel 12:2 is a resurrection of souls for the OT worthies in AD 70, now applies Matthew 24:30-31 to the resurrection of the NT martyrs in AD 70. Jordan writes,

“Further confirmation of this interpretation is to be found, I believe, in the phrases that follow in verse 31. There we see messengers gathering the elect not from their graves (which is how the Last Judgment scenes read), nor from all over the earth (which is how an evangelistic passage would read), but from all over the heavens. They are gathered from the four winds, not from the four corners of the earth. They are gathered from the ends of heaven, not from the ends of the earth (cf. Deut. 4:32; Psa. 19:6; Jer. 49:36).

This language might be taken as a general reference to the whole earthly world, except for the fact that it fits so very well with what we find, again, in Revelation. The dead saints “under the altar” are in “paradise” or “Abraham’s bosom,” a location symbolically equivalent to the firmament heavens that are right below the throne-heavens (Rev. 6:9-11). It is these elect, and their newly-massacred brethren who come out of the Great Tribulation, who are gathered before the Throne in Revelation 15.”[19]

He goes on to summarize,

“Let us summarize Matthew 24:29-31. Immediately after the great affliction, the great persecution and martyrdom of the apostolic church, the world will be changed from the Old to the New Creation. No longer will sun and moon determine liturgy and worship; the former covenant with its lunar liturgy will be broken forever. No longer will angelic stars and heavenly powers govern humanity, for in Jesus, mankind has at last come of age. No longer will angels rule the world. They will vacate their heavenly thrones.

At that time, the promised sign will be given, a sign that shows that Jesus, a man, is truly enthroned in heaven. That sign is the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. The Jews will mourn over Jerusalem, and they will realize that the Church, which they had hoped to destroy, has now ascended to the Ancient of Days and has been given the Kingdom promised in Daniel 7. Those saints have been gathered by the angels in connection with the seventh and last trumpet described in the book of Revelation, their souls gathered from all the heavenly places in Paradise where they had been waiting for this day. The saints are gathered before the Throne in the highest heavens, and shortly will sit down on thrones with their Lord and Master. They will be the new stars and moon and will sit where the angels formerly sat in heaven.”[20]

Some brief thoughts on Jordan’s comments:

1).  Since in his commentary on Daniel 12:2-3, 13 (see his comments later in this article) he includes Daniel’s soul being raised from Abraham’s bosom in AD 70, there is a larger group of souls raised than just the martyrs.  I would have liked to see him harmonize those two teachings not just going to Revelation and dealing with the martyrs.

Jordan tries to make a distinction from this spiritual resurrection in AD 70 from an alleged future physical one based on the absence of “graves” which he (without evidence) says must be a future to us “general resurrection.” And although “graves” is not mentioned, from the “dust” (figuratively) is in Dan. 12:2 and here in Mt. 24:31 the description of the same spiritual resurrection is described as from the “four winds” of “heaven.”  Jordan has not proven this isn’t a description of the “general resurrection.”  Especially if he says the resurrection of Daniel 12 was fulfilled spiritually in AD 70 and yet Daniel 12 IS the resurrection from the “graves” of John 5:19-29! This and a resurrection from the “graves” can be a corporate and spiritual resurrection as described in Ezekiel 37:12. Even Gentry (below in this article) sees the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 being a spiritual and corporate resurrection for Israel and the Church in AD 70 and uses the resurrection of Ezekiel 37 as support. So if a spiritual and corporate resurrection can be from “the dust” and or out from “the graves,” then a spiritual and corporate resurrection from the “graves,” the “dust” and from the “four winds of heaven” can refer to the general resurrection in AD 70. Again, a combination of Jordan’s writings have the OT worthies (the dead) and the NT martyrs (those who have died “in Christ”) being spiritually raised together at Christ’s Parousia in AD 70 — that IS the Full Preterist view of the resurrection and that of the NT.

2).  And his position and that of DeMar begs the question – if the OT dead and those who have died in Christ were raised spiritually from Abraham’s bosom into God’s presence to inherit eternal life at Christ’s Parousia in AD 70, then why isn’t this the same Parousia and resurrection we see described by Paul in 1 Thess. 4:15-17 which is simply Paul’s version of Mt. 24:30-31?  Partial Preterist Milton Terry and men like Mike Bull at least have connected the two and see the same AD 70 time frame of fulfillment, while Jordan and DeMar don’t attempt any explanation or harmonization as we have.

As I point out in my exposition of 1 Corinthians 15, the Corinthians had a hard time reconciling how the OT dead would be raised with those who had died “in Christ,” since they died before or outside the new covenant or being “in Christ.” In a similar way some Jews denied resurrection for those who did not die in or were not buried “in the land.”  Dispensationalists likewise have a hard time seeing how the two groups can be raised together.  Paul has to point out that they are all a part of ONE body that was in the process of “being raised” from Adamic “the death” which was in the process of “being destroyed” (1 Cor. 15:26 WUESTNT).  The two groups needed each other and could not be made “perfect” without each other (Heb. 11:40).  I would have loved Jordan to try and harmonize how the OT dead and the NT saints were raised out of Abraham’s bosom in AD 70 and yet somehow this wasn’t the general resurrection?  Especially since the judgment and resurrection of the dead of Daniel 12 is the judgment and resurrection of the dead found in John 5 and is the end of the millennium judgment and resurrection of the dead of Revelation 20:5-15.  However, in a recent podcast Gary DeMar made slight connection with Daniel 12:2, 7, 13 (which he sees as spiritually fulfilled in AD 70) and the end of the millennium resurrection of Revelation 20 and stated,

“I am more and more inclined to believe that all of the book of Revelation, in its entirety, is fulfilled.”[21]

This would obviously include the resurrection of the dead and judgment of Satan in Revelation 20:5-15.

3). And if the first century Church “judged the angels” (1 Cor. 6:3) or “crushed Satan shortly” “under their feet” (Rms. 16:20/Gen. 3:15) in AD 70 and have taken their place in rulership over the nations with Christ, then the angels and Satan were judged at Christ’s coming in AD 70 per Matthew 25:31-46.

4). Jordan and DeMar are still teaching that the destruction of Jerusalem was a sign of the ascension, and that Christ was ruling from heaven. This is possible, but I agree more with F.F. Bruce in that John in Revelation 1:7-17 and Matthew in Matthew 24:30 is following the OG LXX which reads the Son of Man comes upon the clouds both as the Son of man AND “…AS the Ancient of Days” and not “up to the Ancient of Days.” After all John describes Jesus coming upon the clouds as both the Son of Man and then immediately describes Him as the Ancient of Days in Daniel 7 (Rev. 1:7-17). And K&D correctly point out Christ is coming downward on the clouds in judging the little horn and the nations. If the point is that Christ is coming “up to the Ancient of Days,” then it would be after he had come down in judgment in His Parousia of AD 70 to deliver the Kingdom (the raised souls of the OT and NT saints – again the resurrection event) to the Father (1 Cor. 15:23-24 / Dan. 7:13-27). Either way, Jesus and the NT authors interpret Daniel 7:13 as the Second Coming event and not the ascension.

5).  The reformed creeds are at least correct in teaching there is only one end of the age judgment and resurrection for the “quick and the dead,” so the resurrection of dead souls for the OT and NT saints into God’s presence to inherit eternal life at Christ’s Parousia in AD 70 is not “a” resurrection, but “THE” resurrection event.

The role of angels in gathering or transporting the soul/spirit of man 

In the OT we learn that men such as Abraham were “gathered to his people” at death. More information is given by Jesus in how this process took place. According to Jesus, the angels assist in the gathering or transportation of the soul at death. In Luke 16 (prior to AD 70) we learn the angels “carry” (Lk. 16:22) the souls of the righteous to Abraham’s bosom. Jesus here in Luke 16 is endorsing 1 Enoch 22 in its teaching of:

  • a “gulf” or “separation” (1 En. 22:9-10, 12, 22/Lk. 16:26) of the believing dead from the wicked.
  • There is “water” on the righteous side (1 En. 22:10/Lk. 16:24).
  • There is “fire” and “torment” for the wicked to experience (1 En. 22:22/Lk. 16:24-25, 28).

Just as Peter and Jude appeal to 1 Enoch so does Jesus. It doesn’t mean they endorse everything 1 Enoch teaches, just the sections they quote from or refer to.

Therefore, the believing thief on the cross and his soul/spirit was carried by the angels that very day to be with Christ on the good side of Abraham’s bosom in “Paradise” to hear some good preaching on a an imminent judgment for the dead and the Watchers or salvation for the righteous (Lk. 23:43; 1 Pet. 3:18-20) to be fulfilled by AD 70.

Therefore, if angels assist the soul/spirit of man from his earthly body to the good side of Abraham’s bosom or “Paradise,” then it is consistent for Jesus to teach their involvement in the “gathering” of these souls out of Abraham’s bosom into God’s presence at His Parousia in AD 70.

  • “…WE who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord…” (v. 16) 

If I were to say, “We who live long enough to see the year 2030,” there is no reason to think that I would be assuming that I myself would be among the living in 2030.  My only assumption would be that some of us today would be alive in 2030.  In the same way, Paul’s words imply only that he knew that some of his contemporaries would still be alive when Christ returned, as Christ Himself promised would be the case in Matthew 16:27–28; 24:34.

According to Partial Preterists such as Gary DeMar, all of Paul’s “we,” “you,” and “our” statements in 1 and 2 Thessalonians refer to Paul’s own first-century audience and address Christ’s coming in AD 70—except for the statements in 1 Thessalonians 4 (“the rapture”).  These men magically decide that “we” in 1 Thessalonians 4 means something other than what it means everywhere else in 1 and 2 Thessalonians.  Suddenly in chapter 4, “we” includes Christians who potentially will not be alive for a million years from today.  Now let us move on from arbitrary constructs of Partial Preterism to a biblical look at “the rapture” passage, 1 Thessalonians 4:15–17.

  • “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven…” (v. 16)

How had God described His “coming down from heaven” to “reveal Himself” (2 Thess. 2:7) and “rescue” (1 Thess. 1:10) His people being persecuted in the past?  Notice how David describes God coming down from heaven to rescue him from his enemies:

“In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.  The earth trembled and quaked (literally?), and the foundations of the mountains shook (literally?); they trembled because he was angry.  Smoke rose from his nostrils (literally?); consuming fire came from his mouth (remember 2 Thess. 1:7 – Jesus is “revealed from heaven in blazing fire…”), burning coals blazed out of it.  He parted the heavens and came down (literally?); dark clouds were under his feet.  He mounted the cherubim and flew; he soared on the wings of the wind.  He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him— the dark rain clouds of the sky.  Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced (literally?), with hailstones and bolts of lightning.  The LORD thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded (a literal voice?).  He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy, with great bolts of lightning he routed them.  The valleys of the sea were exposed and the foundations of the earth laid bare (literally?) at your rebuke, LORD, at the blast of breath from your nostrils.  He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.  He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me” (Ps. 18:6-17).

Christ is coming here in 1 Thessalonains 4:16-17 as God had come from heaven and on the clouds in the OT, as we discussed in our exegesis of the Olivet Discourse.  If the Church is willing to admit that the coming of Christ in Matthew 24-25 was fulfilled spiritually with Jesus, describing His coming using common apocalyptic language of the prophets, and the Church is willing to admit that Paul’s teaching of Christ’s coming here in 1 Thessalonians 4-5 is the same event as described by Jesus in Matthew 24-25, THEN it is no stretch to understand that Paul likewise is using common apocalyptic language of the prophets and that 1 Thessalonians 4-5 was also fulfilled in AD 70 just as Matthew 24-25 was.

In fact, NT Wright comes very close to admitting that all of the language of 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 is common apocalyptic language:

“Unfortunately it [the language of 1 Thess. 4:16] is also a highly contentious passage, being used with astonishing literalness in popular fundamentalism and critical scholarship alike to suggest that Paul envisaged Christians flying around in mid-air on clouds.  The multiple apocalyptic resonances of the passage on the one hand, and its glorious mixed metaphors on the other, make this interpretation highly unlikely.[22]

We couldn’t agree more with Mr. Wright in that Paul is using common apocalyptic language.  Yet it is not figurative language of a physical resurrection at the end of world history, but rather figurative language of a spiritual resurrection by which souls are raised out of Hades into God’s presence, and of God’s presence “meeting” the living within their hearts while on earth (cf. Lk. 17:20-37).  If it is agreed by the Partial Preterist that the language of Jesus in Matthew 24:30-31 is describing Christ’s non-literal coming, on non-literal clouds, with a non-literal trumpet sound, and that the “gathering” is an inward resurrection of giving eternal life that the gospel produces (no biological change), while others correctly see Matthew 24:30-31 and 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 to be the same event, then we suggest the “catching away” for the living is not into physical clouds (as Wright admits), but is God producing the consummative giving of His presence and of eternal life to His saints while here on earth.

OT Echo to 1 Thessalonians 4:16

Other than the trumpet gathering and resurrection of Isaiah 27:12-13 (which I have addressed already), G.K. Beale and D.A. Carson connect this coming of the Lord “from heaven” with Isaiah 2:10-12’s “in that day”, “Day of the Lord” judgment:

“The main clause of 1 Thess. 4:16, “because the Lord himself will come down from heaven,” recalls…the prophetic literature of the OT that envisions “the day of the Lord,” when God will come to judge the wicked and save the righteous (Isa. 2:10–12;…).”[23]

But they also connect 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 with Isaiah 2, which reads: 

“This (in context – giving the Thessalonians relief from their Jewish persecutors) will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.  He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out (excommunicated [from the heavenly temple] as they had done to the Christians) from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.”[24]

On this passage, Beale and Carson write,

“…eternal destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.” This description clearly echoes the triple refrain of Isa. 2:10, 19, 21, where on the day of the Lord the wicked are commanded to hide themselves behind rocks and in caves “from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might whenever he will rise to terrify the earth.”[25]

So, since both 1 Thessalonians 4:16 and 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 fulfill the coming of the Lord “from heaven” in the judgment found in Isaiah 2, let me remind the reader that Jesus appeals to this same OT passage and understands it to be fulfilled by AD 70:

“And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him.  But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.  For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us” (from Isa. 2:19 and Hos. 10:8) (Lk. 23:27-30).

There’s a consensus among the commentators that this passage was fulfilled in God’s judgment upon Jerusalem in AD 70.  We have found plenty of exegetical evidence that Paul too identifies the Lord coming in the judgment of Isaiah 2 to be fulfilled by AD 70.  As we saw earlier, even John in Revelation 6:15-17 appeals to the coming of the Lord in His wrath in Isaiah 2 to be fulfilled “in a very little while” to avenge the first century martyrs in AD 70 (cf. Rev. 6:11-17).

“…with the trumpet call of God and the dead in Christ will rise first.” (v. 16)

As pointed out early, there is definitely a chronological order, with the dead rising first and then the gathering, catching away or change for the living taking place second.  Even Jesus addresses the dead first in John 11: 

“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die [OT worthies like Abraham or Daniel, along with those who recently died prior to AD 70], yet shall he live [be raised out of Abraham’s bosom or Hades to inherit God’s presence and eternal life], and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die [that is not that they would never see biological death, but rather inherit God’s “within” kingdom and presence of eternal life]. Do you believe this (John 11:25-26)?”

We agree with the scholarship of G.K. Beale who correctly understands the gathering of the elect at the end of the age in Matthew 24:3, 30-31 in his commentary on 1 & 2 Thessalonians as the resurrection event:

“Paul’s particular combination of references from Matthew 24 shows that he interprets the whole of the Matthean text as referring to woes preceding the final coming of Christ (and though Matthew does not explicitly mention the idea of resurrection, he implies it in the phrase “gather his elect” in 24:31, which implies the gathering of all believers, both living and dead).”[26]

However, this creates a “thorny problem” for Beale when he begins leaning in the direction of a Partial Preterism in a more recent work where he writes:

“…it is likely better to see [Matt. 24:30]…fulfilled not at the very end of history but rather in AD 70 at the destruction of Jerusalem, in which the Son of Man’s coming would be understood as an invisible coming in judgment, using the Roman armies as his agent.”[27]

Beale admits, at least indirectly, that holding to both of these views he has defended creates a “thorny problem” for him that deserves “further study” to resolve.  I gave him a copy of our second edition of HD and told him we did the “further study” and our exegesis of 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 solves the “thorny problem” that he has created for himself.  But Beale’s “thorny problem” is simply a microcosm of the problem that the Futurist Church has as a whole.

“Gathered up” (Greek Harpazo) (v. 17)

The NCV translates harpazo as “gathered up,” thus giving it a theological and parallel connection to the eschatological gathering of Matthew 13:39-43, Matthew 24:30-31 & 2 Thessalonians 2:1.  Other translations render it “snatched away” or “will be seized.”

Harpazo means to “take one’s plunder openly and violently, catch or snatch away.” Sometimes it is addressing someone being pulled, snatched away or rescued by someone from an enemy.  But is 1 Thessalonians 4:17 discussing an inward spiritual rescuing into Christ’s glory cloud presence, or an outward and upward catching away into physical clouds in the sky and a biological change?

Here are some very clear uses of harpazo being an inward spiritual event:

1). Matthew 12:29 – Satan was “bound” and Christ was “carrying away” (harpazo) his plunder, which were people that were rightfully His who were held captive by Satan and demons.  But how was He doing this?  It was by casting out demons (an inward spiritual reality), and in some cases actually giving faith to these individuals to follow him (again an inward spiritual reality).

2). Matthew 11:12 – “the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing (Christ casting out demons openly and publicly taking Satan’s plunder), and (in return) the forceful men (believers) lay hold of it” (harpazo – through faith, vigor, power, and determination in light of present persecution – such as in the case of John).  People were violently laying hold of the kingdom through having faith (a spiritual and inward reality).

3). Matthew 13:19 – In the parable of the sower, the wicked one comes and snatches away (harpazo) what was sown in his heart (again, an inner spiritual reality).

4). John 10:12 – The wolf (Pharisees, sons of Satan) sought to snatch (harpazo) and scatter the sheep/ people of Israel. How did the Pharisees seek to “snatch” and “scatter” the Jews from following Jesus?  The first phase involved seeking to deceive them in their hearts and minds (an inward snatching) by convincing them that He was not the Christ by perverting the Scriptures and accusing Him of having a demon, etc.  The second phase was a physical excommunication or scattering of Christians from their synagogues.

5). John 10:28-29 – Anyone who has faith in Jesus cannot be “snatched” (harpazo) out of the Father’s hand.  That is, he cannot be influenced (snatched inwardly) in his or her mind and heart to leave God.  Like Peter, “Where else can we go, Lord? You alone have the words to eternal life.”  The gift of faith is spiritually preserved in the heart and soul of the believer.  He cannot be deceived to the point of committing the sin unto death (1 Jn. 3:9). Again, this is an inner spiritual reality of the heart/mind/soul of man.

6). Acts 8:39 – This simply means that the Holy Spirit directed Philip in His heart and mind (inwardly) to go elsewhere, and the Eunuch did not see him again.  There’s nothing in the text to support the idea that Philip was “raptured” into the atmosphere and was then instantly dropped off miles and miles away from where he was.  But even if this were the case (as we covered with Elijah being caught up in the storm), it is not an example of being raptured to heaven or into the spiritual realm with a physical body!

The eschatological “already” of the inward kingdom gathering and catching away was spiritual, and the eschatological “gathering” and “catching away” in the kingdom at Christ’s return would also be a spiritual event in AD 70.  As we noted in our exegesis of Luke 17:20-37/Lk. 21:27-32, Jesus said when that the kingdom would come at His return (to gather all His elect Mt. 24:31), it would be an experience to occur “within” an individual and not something that could be seen with the physical eyes.

The inward realm of redemption or catching away is further evident from a study of the next two words, “clouds” and “air.”

  • “…in the clouds…” (v. 17)

As I have demonstrated thus far in our study of Christ coming on the clouds in the Olivet Discourse and God coming on the clouds in the OT, this is common apocalyptic language and not referring to physical clouds we see in the sky.

  • To “meet” the Lord… (v. 17)

This Greek word, to “meet,” is wedding language and is only used twice in the NT – here and also in the wedding motif that Jesus develops in Matthew 25:1-13 (which Partial Preterists correctly teach was fulfilled spiritually in AD 70).

In Jewish betrothals and weddings, the groomsmen would go ahead of the groom and blow a trumpet at a time the virgin and her bridesmaids were not expecting.  Once at the virgin’s father’s house, it was customary for the groom to consummate his marriage sexually there before taking her to his father’s house where they would continue consummating the union for seven days and having the wedding feast.

This Greek word for “meet” was also often used of a king or dignitary coming to make his home in a city which his empire or kingdom had conquered or was about to conquer.  On the news of the imminent coming of the king or dignitary, at the sound of a trumpet the members of the city would go out of the city and “meet” him and escort him back to their home/town.  The king’s presence was established WHERE the people already lived. Again, the imagery does not support a literal “rapture” of people off of planet earth, but rather of God coming to rule and reign in the hearts of His people where they are – living on planet earth.

  • “…in the air” (v. 17)

But what of this meeting the Lord in the “air” (Greek eros)?  The Strong’s Greek Dictionary defines it as: “From ‘aemi,” to breath unconsciously, to respire.  By analogy, to blow.  The air, particularly the lower and denser air as distinguished from the higher and rarer air.”

So the point is that this is the air “in” or “within” us.

The Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains lists Eph 2:2, 1 Thess. 4:17, and Rev 16:17 in its definition of eros as meaning “the space inhabited and controlled by [spiritual] powers.”

The Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament says of the “air” in Ephesians 2:2 – “…Jewish conceptions, according to which, among other things, the air is the abode of demons.”

Ephesians 2 refers to Satan as the “prince and power of the AER.”  He dwelt in the spiritual realm which extended to the souls of men.  The war we see Christ and Satan fighting in the NT is for the spiritual condition of men – within their hearts and minds.  Paul goes on to say that Satan “now works in the children of disobedience.”  And consistently Jesus defines His kingdom as something that He is setting up “in” and “within” men, and transforming them into His image spiritually.

Prior to AD 70, Satan used his demonic legions to “possess” individuals within the realm of their minds and the spiritual realm of their being.  Satan used the old covenant Mosaic law to blind their spiritual eyes, hearts and minds in the realm of the “air” – within their souls, hearts, and minds to produce an arrogant and zealous selfrighteousness which apart from Christ could only lead to utter despair (cf. 2 Cor. 3; Gal. 4:17-18; Rom. 7).  Christ “bound the strong man” and was raising and delivering Christians from the darkness and death of this spiritual kingdom realm into His own realm (cf. Eph. 2:1-10).  Christ snatched away His beloved and spoke peace and joy into the “air” of her heart, soul, and mind when He said, “It is finished” (Rev. 16:17/Heb. 9-10/1 Cor. 15)!

The powers of Satan, demons, the condemnation of the law, and the spiritual death Adam brought upon men were all conquered by Christ at His Parousia in AD 70 for those who put their faith in Him.

Had Paul meant to clearly communicate that believers would physically fly off the planet into the sky and atmosphere above, he would have used the Greek word “ouranos,” which clearly states this as its meaning.

The picture of the “rapture” is that Christ came down from heaven in / on a cloud to earth where He gathered the living into His presence, “within” us where we function as His Most Holy Place dwelling and throne through which He rules the nations.  This is what we also see in Revelation where the New Jerusalem comes down from heaven to earth and God establishes His presence within His Church here.

Let me give further evidence not only that there will not be an end-of-world-history physical rapture of Christians off the planet, but likewise there was not a biological rapture or change of the living in AD 70.

1). Paul could have easily rebuked the false teachers and Christians that were tempted to believe the Lord had “already come” (2 Thess. 2:2) by simply saying, “Aren’t you still here and the dead still in their graves? Obviously, He has not come!”  But since Paul did not hold to the physical rapture view or a literal resurrection attended by Christ’s Parousia, he did not argue this way.  Obviously, Paul understood the Lord’s coming to be a spiritual and unseen event as our Lord taught (Lk. 17:20-37/21:27-32), which was consistent with the “Day of the Lord” language of the prophets in the OT.

2). The coming of Christ in 2 Thessalonians 1:9 is the coming of the Lord in Isaiah 66:5, 15, where Isaiah describes Christian survivors (66:19) who are found alive on planet earth continuing to preach the gospel in the new creation / new covenant age.

3). As we have seen in our exegesis of Mark 8:38-9:1, the Greek is different than Matthew 16:27-28 and actually teaches that those who were alive to witness Christ’s coming would be able to look back (while still alive on earth) on the historical events of Him coming in power and great glory in the destruction of Jerusalem and thus know that He and His kingdom had “already come.”

4). After Christ and the Father come and make their home (dwelling – mone – John 14:2, 23) within the believer, they were told, “I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe” (14:29).  If they were literally raptured, I don’t think they would need to be reminded or exhorted to believe that it had been fulfilled!  These words make more sense if it was a spiritual fulfillment that could not be seen with the physical eyes, and therefore it would take faith to believe that the Father and the Son had set up their presence within them.

5). Jesus of course directly promised to not remove the Church off of planet earth (John 17:15).  Church history tells us that Christians were not raptured, but that they instead fled to Pella (in modern day Jordan).  Historically, Pella is one of the first known Christian churches.  Church history tells us that the Apostle John was still alive during Domitian’s reign in the mid-AD 90’s and that Timothy, Titus, and Luke lived beyond AD 70.

There is simply no exegetical evidence of a physical rapture at Christ’s coming in AD 70 or some imagined one at the end of world history.  The physical rapture view is probably one of the greatest scams perpetrated upon the Church.  It makes the sleeping giant of the Evangelical Church numb to getting involved in our culture and politics because they expect things to simply get worse so that they can get “raptured” just before it gets really bad.  After all, “you don’t polish brass on a sinking ship.”  We MUST get involved in our politics and be the salt and light of this great country and that of the world!

Conclusion

We have examined the so-called “rapture to heaven” doctrine of Enoch and Elijah and found that what God says of all men applied to them as well in that neither of them “ascended to heaven” (Jn. 3:13) and that both indeed died – “these ALL died in faith…” (Heb. 11:13) and experienced one final death before their judgment and or reward (Heb. 9:26).

It was important to take a deep dive into 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 and its parallel teachings of Christ in John 11:25-26 and Matthew 24:30-31 since so many see these texts as allegedly dealing with some king of physical or biological resurrection for the dead and or a physical and biological change or disappearance of the living off the planet either in AD 70 or at the so-called “end of time.”  In examining these passages, I hopefully demonstrated to the reader that a spiritual resurrection of the dead and an internal reception of God’s presence or reciveing “eternal life” / “never die” was fulfilled in AD 70.  At this time the dead were raised out of Hades or Abraham’s bosom to inherit eternal life and God’s presence and the living also inherited eternal life and God’s presence and the Kingdom was manifested “within” them at Christ’s coming in AD 70 (cf. Lk. 17:20-37/Lk. 21:27-32; Jn. 14:2-3; 23; Cols. 1:27; 1 Cor. 15:28; Rev. 21:3; 22:7-10, 20).

[1] See my Substack article series on the book of Revelation and in particular my exegesis of Revelation 11 which disproves the theory that Enoch and Elijah are the two witnesses.  See Part 5:  https://michaelsullivan.substack.com/p/revelation-fulfilled-by-ad-70-part-48a

[2] John L. Bray, Were Elijah and Enoch Raptured to Heaven?, June 5, 2000 (Newsletter)

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] G. Marsh Hilbourne, Michael T. Wark, Thou Shalt Surely Die, p. 33, electronic version: https://archive.org/details/ThouShaltSurelyDie/page/n31/mode/2up

[6] Observation made by Joel Mullen.

[7] Lester L. Grabbe, An Introduction to Second Temple Judaism: History and Religion of the Jews in the Time of Nehemiah, the Maccabees, Hillel, and Jesus, (T&T Clark Publishing, 2010), see pages 9396

[8] Ibid.

[9] Murray J. Harris, FROM GRAVE to GLORY RESURRECTION IN THE NEW TESTAMENT Including a Response to Norman L. Geisler, (Grand Rapids, MI:  Zondervan Publishing House, 1990), 70

[10] (Historical          Jewish     Sources,      https://preteristarchives.org/historical-jewish-sources/?fbclid=

IwAR2OszDkXKqp8Z-qv0RFId1hjS6_tDT7hoysllAAjdGQpUOTi03OmHx67Nc

[11] John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1997), 1843

[12] (Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers).

[13] Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary, free online, https://biblehub.com/commentaries/ 1_thessalonians/2-16.htm

[14] Mathison, Postmillennialism, Ibid., 177

[15] G.K. Beale, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series 1–2 Thessalonians (Downers Grove, IL:

Inter Varsity Press, 2003), 136, emphasis added

[16] Ibid.

[17] Ibid, 136–137

[18] John Murray, Ibid., 391, emphasis MJS

[19] James B. Jordan MATTHEW 23-25 A LITERARY, HISTORICAL, AND THEOLOGICAL COMMENTARY, (Powder Springs, GA: The American Vision Inc., – this book is currently at the printer to be published), p. 180.  Please properly ask Gary and AV for permission to quote this as I have – especially since it is an unpublished work.

[20] Ibid., p. 181

[21] Gary DeMar, Revelation 20, https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-gary-demar-podcast/id1500969161?i=1000565638837

[22] N.T. Wright, THE RESURRECTION OF THE SON OF GOD Christian Origins and the Question of God, vol. 3 (Minneapolis, MN: 2003), 215, emphasis MJS

[23] Weima, J. A. D. (2007). 1-2 Thessalonians. In Commentary on the New Testament use of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI; Nottingham, UK: Baker Academic; Apollos), 880, emphasis MJS

[24] Ibid., emphasis MJS

[25] Ibid., 885, emphasis MJS

[26] Beale, Ibid., 1-2 Thessalonians, 138, emphasis MJS

[27] Beale, Ibid., A New Testament Biblical Theology the Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New, 369

A Full Preterist Response to Kenneth Gentry’s Articles: DANIEL 12, TRIBULATION, AND RESURRECTION and ACTS 24:15 AND THE ALLEGED NEARNESS OF THE RESURRECTION

A Full Preterist Response to Kenneth Gentry’s Articles:  DANIEL 12, TRIBULATION, AND RESURRECTION and ACTS 24:15 AND THE ALLEGED NEARNESS OF THE RESURRECTION 
By:  Michael J. Sullivan
“At that time Michael shall stand up, The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; And there shall be a time of trouble, Such as never was since there was a nation, Even to that time.  And at that time your people shall be delivered, Every one who is found written in the book.  2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt (cf. John 5:28-29; Matthew 13:39-43/24:3, 30-31; Acts 24:15; Revelation 20:5-15).  3Those who are wise shall shine Like the brightness of the firmament, And those who turn many to righteousness Like the stars forever and ever“But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end (Matthew 13:39-43/24-25); many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase (of Messiah and new covenant salvation).”  Then I, Daniel, looked; and there stood two others, one on this riverbank and the other on that riverbank. And one said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, “How long shall the fulfillment of these wonders be (vss. 1-4)?”  Then I heard the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand to heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever, that it shall be for a time, times, and half a time; and when the power of the holy people has been completely shattered, all these things (including the resurrection and glorification of vss. 2-3) shall be finishedAlthough I heard, I did not understand. Then I said, “My lord, what shall be the end of these things (again they are all fulfilled together)?”  And he said, “Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. 10 Many shall be purified, made white, and refined, but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand. 11 “And from the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away, and the abomination of desolation is set up, there shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety days. 12 Blessed is he who waits, and comes to the one thousand three hundred and thirty-five days.  13 But you, go your way till the end; for you shall rest, and will arise to your inheritance at the end of the days.
Introduction
There are several things that are missing from Mr. Gentry’s new view that the resurrection of Daniel 12:2 was fulfilled corporately in AD 70 in his book,[1] article on his site,[2] or in the various lectures he has given where this passage comes up.
First, there is no humble acknowledgment that his new position on this text is the result of Full Preterist arguments pressing him to it over several years.  Nor is there any humble apology or acknowledgment to the Full Preterist community (or even to his futurist readers for that matter) for his past faulty eisegesis oF cherry-picking the time and fulfillment of the resurrection from the other eschatological events he took as fulfilled in AD 70 (the shattering of Jerusalem in judgment, the tribulation, and the three and a half years’ time frame).  Contextually the passage tells us that “all these things” not “some of these things” would be fulfilled together during the same “time of the end” period (Dan. 12:7).
Secondly, not only does Gentry neglect to tell his readers that his change on Daniel 12:2 is a result of full preterism pushing him in that direction, he doesn’t think twice about accepting the fact that men like him and James Jordan have actually stolen and are teaching the full preterist view on the resurrection and judgment of the dead.  Here is what they are proposing happened which is the full preterist view:

  • There was an “already/becoming/not yet” or progressive resurrection taking place for Israel roughly between AD 30 – AD 70.  In AD 70 the Church (God’s new covenant corporate Israel) was raised from the carcass of old covenant corporate Israel.
  • The souls of OT saints such as Daniel and Christians whom died prior to AD 70 were raised out of Hades or Abraham’s Bosom and inherited God’s kingdom/presence/eternal life at that time.

In a nut shell, that is the full preterist view on the judgment and resurrection of the living and dead between AD 30 – AD 70.  The only difference between progressive partial preterists and full preterists at this point is that full preterists do not go beyond what is written and make up an additional “already/becoming/not yet” eschaton beyond AD 70 which allegedly involves a casket resurrection at the end of history – to appease the creeds and or creedal supporters and publishers.
Thirdly, perhaps Gentry is not remorseful for his eisegesis and cherry-picking Daniel 12:2 from the rest of the AD 70 fulfillments he has given in this chapter, because he knows his new interpretation continues with this deplorable approach.  Let me explain.  There is no exegetical defense of Gentry’s novel view that the resurrection of Daniel 12:2 can have two or multiple fulfillments (one in AD 70 and a “consummate” physical one at the end of time).  Therefore, Gentry has come full circle on performing eisegesis (reading things into the text that are not there) or cherry-picking the eschatological events in Daniel chapter 12 from verse 2.  If Gentry can give Daniel 12:2 two fulfillments (one in AD 70 and one in our future), then what is to stop the dispensationalist from saying something like this:  “There may have been some kind of fulfillment of the Great Tribulation in an AD 66–70 (Dan. 12:1; Matt. 24:21) and in the “desolation” of Jerusalem and her temple in AD 70 (Dan. 9:27; Matt. 24:15), but those events were only typological or preview fulfillments for Israel today after Israel rebuilds her temple in the near future.”  Or why should Gentry oppose the amillennialist teaching that, while the Great Tribulation may have had some aspect of fulfillment in the events leading up to AD 70, we should not consider it as one historic event but an “already but not yet” process the church goes through until the end of history?  Gentry gives Daniel 12:2 two fulfillments but won’t allow dispensationalism or any other futurist system to do the same thing with the Great Tribulation, the three and a half years, or the Abomination of Desolation in Daniel 9:27. Jesus in Luke 21:20-22 and Matthew 13:39-43 did not say that all Old Testament prophecy or the resurrection and glorification of Daniel 12:2–3 would be fulfilled in two totally different ways spanning thousands or millions of years from AD 70 to the end of world history. He said that these things would all be fulfilled in His generation (“this generation”) at the end of the old covenant age.
It is more than inconsistent for Gentry and other partial preterists when debating premillennialists, dispensationalists, and amillennialists to argue that their preterist fulfillments in Matthew 24 and 95% of the book of Revelation were fulfilled in AD 70 and cannot have double, multiple, or be placed in a 2000+ “already-not yet” fulfillment reaching beyond AD 70; and then turn around and use this very argument on the resurrection when debating and trying to dismiss Full Preterist exegesis!  Selah.  For example Gary DeMar, rejects openness to the double fulfillment, mixed fulfillments, or future fulfillment theories in the Olivet Discourse:
“Either the Olivet Discourse applies to a generation located in the distant future from the time the gospel writers composed the Olivet Discourse or to the generation to whom Jesus was speaking; it can’t be a little bit of both. As we will see, the interpretation of the Olivet Discourse in any of the synoptic gospels does not allow for a mixed approach, a double fulfillment, or even a future completion. Matthew 24:34 won’t allow for it.”[3]
And Gentry teaches that a theory of “double fulfilling” AD 70 fulfillments in the book of Revelation, for example, is “pure theological assertion” that has “no exegetical warrant.”[4]  We couldn’t agree more!  So if it is true that the resurrection of Daniel 12:2 is found in the Matthew 24 and in the book of Revelation, then it would be “pure theological assertion” to claim another fulfillment of that resurrection is yet future to us.  Per Gentry, his approach has “no exegetical warrant” to it.
Similarly, Gentry and other partial preterists have attempted to blur and muddy their NT two comings of Christ (the parousia), two great commissions, two end of the ages, two fulfillments of the passing of the first creation and arrival of the new, and now two judgments and resurrections of the dead under the guise of two “already and not yet” eschatons.  If you have seen the plethora of exegetical problems with the dispensational double vision eschaton of a “the parousia” consummation/coming of Christ for Israel before the millennium and then another “the parousia” (“secret rapture”) consummation/coming of Christ for the Church, then one can easily see how partial preterism suffers from the same kind of eisegetical double vision hermeneutic which rips apart the harmony and analogy of the NT Scriptures!  Partial preterism teaches that there was one “already and not yet” 1)  roughly between AD 30 – AD 70 for Israel, and then what appears to be the first “not yet” in AD 70 becomes the “already” of the second “already and not yet” 2)  AD 70 – end of time for the Church.  They have learned from their futurist opponents that when an AD 70 fulfillment is exegetically developed their opponents “out” seems to be to throw it into a scholarly “already and not yet” scene.  This is Gentry’s approach now in debating Full Preterists which according to him is “pure theological assertion” with “no exegetical warrant.”  Even partial preterist Joel McDurmon tried this in his debate with Don Preston.  When pressed into a corner on such passages as Daniel 12:2/1 Corinthians 15/Revelation 20 – McDurmon admitted that these passages “could” have had “a” fulfillment in AD 70, but await another fulfillment/manifestation.  To claim that the resurrection and or judgment of the dead in 1 Corinthians 15 and Revelation 20 “could have a fulfillment in AD 70” is a huge admission which “gives the farm away.”
Fourthly, when one considers Gentry’s older writings and new writings on the resurrection of Daniel 12:2 they definitely do lead us to Full Preterism.  In the past Gentry has argued that the resurrection of Daniel 12:2 is the same “one” resurrection as what we see in these texts (Matt. 13:39-43; John 5:28-29—6:40; Acts 24:15; 1 Corinthians 15; Revelation 20).  This is a Full Preterist view.  In his new writings he is arguing that the resurrection of Daniel 12:2 was fulfilled spiritually and corporately in AD 70.  This too is a Full Preterist position.
Fifthly, Gentry never explains how Daniel (the person ie. his soul) was raised and received everlasting life in AD 70 (cf. Dan. 12:2, 13).  How and how many times must Daniel be raised from the dead to inherit eternal life and the kingdom?!?  Does Gentry believe that Daniel was raised out of Abraham’s Bosom (as James Jordan believes according to Revelation 20) in AD 70 and inheriting everlasting life was being raised into God’s presence?  Who knows because Gentry cannot articulate his position or attempt to answer the tough questions.
Lastly and most importantly, there is no exegetical work done by Gentry on where the judgment, resurrection, and “end” of Daniel 12:1-4 is referenced and alluded to in the NT (ex. Matt. 13:39-43/Matt. 24:3, 31; John 5:28-29; 1 Corinthians 15; Acts 24:15; Revelation 20) in order to prove that the Full Preterist view that the resurrection of Daniel 12:2 was consummately fulfilled in AD 70 is the wrong view.  As I will demonstrate in the bulk of this article, Ken doesn’t want to even acknowledge the collecting of these dots because he knows how reformed creedal eschatology and how full preterism has “connected these dots!” Gentry simply asserts that his new view that the resurrection of Daniel 12:2 was fulfilled in AD 70 does not lead to Full Preterism.   He  references only a few passages in the gospels and in the book of Revelation which he feels is an AD 70 fulfillment of Daniel 12:2 (where most commentators and orthodoxy has not made the connections) while ignoring the main passages such as Matthew 13:39-43; John 5:28-29; Acts 24:15 and Revelation 20 (where commentators and orthodoxy has made the connections)!   Here are the passages which Gentry applies to Daniel 12:2 and note how the relevant passages I listed are ignored:
“Christ himself points out that some from Israel will believe and be saved, while others will not (e.g., Mt 10:34–36; 13:11–15), that in the removing of the kingdom from Israel many will be crushed and scattered like dust (Mt 21:43–45). He even speaks of the saved Jews as arising from the “shadow of death” (Mt 4:16). Though in AD 70 elect Jews will flee Israel and will live (Mt 24:22), the rest of the nation will be a corpse: “wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather” (Mt 24:28). Indeed, in AD 70 we see in the destruction of the city of Jerusalem (Mt 22:7) that “many are called, but few are chosen” (Mt 22:14).
Second, elsewhere he employs the imagery of “regeneration” to the arising of the new Israel from out of dead, old covenant Israel in AD 70: “You who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Mt 19:28).
This paralleling of divine blessing and divine curse, of life and death (cf. Ro 11:15) for those in Israel is a frequent theme (under varied images) in the Book of Revelation
Third, God’s angels protect some Jews from the winds of judgment, while not protecting others (Rev 7:1–9). John measures some Jews for safe-keeping in the temple, while not measuring others (11:1–2). Some stand high upon Mt. Zion in safety (Rev 14:1–5), while others do not (Rev 14:17–20).
Returning now to Daniel, it appears that Daniel is drawing from the hope of the future, literal resurrection and applying it symbolically to the first century leading up to the tribulation in AD 70. That is, he is portraying God’s separating believing Jews out of Israel through the winnowing of Israel in AD 70. Again, this is much like Ezekiel’s practice in his vision of the valley of dry bones.
Fourth, though Ezekiel’s prophecy is concerned with Israel as a whole, whereas Daniel shows that Israel’s hope is the believing remnant.
In Daniel 12:4 the prophet hears a command to seal up his message until Israel’s end, thus delaying its prophesied actions. In Revelation 22:10 John receives a command precisely the opposite of Daniel’s, resulting in Revelation as a whole being opened and thereby fulfilled shortly: “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near” (Rev 22:10; cp. 1:1, 3; 22:6).”[5]
I feel this is by far the most glaring weakness of Gentry’s new view on Daniel 12:2, and therefore I will go ahead and do the exegetical work he can’t do and won’t do while quoting and referencing other reformed theologians to make the full preterist case.

Jesus’ Teaching on the Resurrection and Judgment of Daniel 12:1-4

Matthew 13:39-43/Daniel 12:2-3
Historical Argument:
The Jews during the times of Jesus and the NT era believed in two ages.  The first “this age” was that of the Mosaic old covenant law and prophets and the “age to come” or “age about to come” was that ushered in by Messiah and answered to the new covenant age.
“The end of this age” Exegetical Argument#1:
The new covenant age had not yet begun when Christ was teaching his audience about the judgment and resurrection which would take place at the end of their “this age” (Christ had not shed His blood yet).  Clearly the “this age” he is discussing is the old covenant age and the harvest/judgment/gathering/resurrection which would take place at that time.
Partial Preterist (Orthodox) Admission to Full Preterism confirms this interpretation:
Some of Gentry’s partial preterist colleagues have come to the conclusion that the parable of the wheat and tares was also fulfilled in AD 70.  For example, Joel McDurmon (Gary North’s son-in-law, and Director of Research for Gary DeMar’s American Vision):[6]
It is clear that Jesus did not have in mind the end of the world, nor did He mean the final judgment.  Rather, Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 describe the judgment that would come upon unbelieving Jerusalem. During this time, the angels would “gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity” (13:41) and these would be judged with fire.  Many of them literally were burned in fire during the destruction of Jerusalem.  During this same time, however, the elect of Christ— “the children of the kingdom” (v. 38)—will be harvested.  While the explanation of the parable does not tell us their final end, the parable itself has the householder instructing the harvesters to “gather the wheat into my barn.”  In other words, they are protected and saved by God.
This, of course, is exactly what happened to the Christians. Not only were they saved in soul, but they mostly fled Jerusalem before the Roman siege.  This was consequent to Jesus’ advice to flee and not look back once the signs arose (Matt. 24:16-22); indeed this would correspond with the angels’ work of harvesting the elect (24:30).[7]
“The end” or “This age” Exegetical Argument #2:
“The end” of “this age” is equivalent to Daniel’s “time of the end” in (Daniel 12:4) and thus answers to the same time period.  That this is the same “time of the end” resurrection is clarified even stronger in our next argument.
“Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” Exegetical Argument #3:
Virtually every commentator understands that Jesus is referencing the resurrection and glorification of (Daniel 12:2-3) in which the wise and righteous rise and “shine like the firmament” and “like the stars forever and ever.”
Gentry simply avoids the exegetical facts that Jesus is teaching the harvest/judgment/resurrection of Daniel 12:1-4 would be fulfilled at the end of the old covenant age in AD 70.  Here merely assumes that the parable of the wheat and tares will be fulfilled at the end of the Christian age or “end of history.”  Following James Jordan, the closest Gentry wants to come to applying the resurrection of Daniel 12:2 to Matthew 13:39-43 (the parable of the wheat and tares) is oddly in the parable right before it in Matthew 13:11-15 (the parable of the soils):
“Christ himself points out that some from Israel will believe and be saved, while others will not (e.g., Mt 10:34–36; 13:11–15), that in the removing of the kingdom from Israel many will be crushed and scattered like dust (Mt 21:43–45).”[8]
The harvest is the end of the age” Exegetical Argument #3
Gentry writes of Daniel’s resurrection,
“That is, he (Daniel) is portraying God’s separating believing Jews out of Israel through the winnowing of Israel in AD 70.”[9]
Uh, but isn’t it Jesus here in Matthew 13:39-43 that is connecting the resurrection/glorification of Daniel 12:2-3 with a “harvest” and thus a “winnowing of Israel in AD 70”?!?  Don’t be afraid of the text Ken.  At least another partial preterist Peter Leithart, who understands that the parable of the wheat and tares was fulfilled in AD 70 correctly writes, “Jesus has now come with His winnowing fork, and before the end of the age, the wheat and tares will be separated.  The end of the age thus refers not to the final judgment but to the close of “this generation.”[10]  Gentry takes the eschatological harvest/judgment/gathering of John the Baptist’s teaching in Matthew 3:7-12 as fulfilled in AD 70, so why is Ken so afraid of Jesus’ harvest/judgment/gathering in Matthew 13:39-43 as being the same harvest fulfilled in AD 70?  The answers I believe are as follows:
First, if Gentry concedes that the harvest/gathering/judgment/resurrection took place at the end of the old covenant age in AD 70, then this is but one more passage he has surrendered to full preterism – thus once again demonstrating that his writings and that of partial preterism in general “leads to full preterism” (something Gentry try’s to deny but everyone from any other eschatological school of thought knows to be true).
Secondly, if Gentry concedes that the harvest/gathering/judgment/resurrection of Matthew 13:39-43 took place in AD 70, then the harmony of Jesus’ teaching in the gospel of Matthew and exegetical evidence would demonstrate that the eschatological gathering at the “end of the age” in (Matthew 24:3, 30-31—chapter 25) was also fulfilled in AD 70 along with  the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20 at “the end [of the old covenant] age.”
Thirdly, if Gentry concedes that the harvest/gathering/judgment/resurrection of Matthew 13:39-43 took place in AD 70, then a “double,” “multiple,” “type / anti-type,” “already not yet” sell on the resurrection of Daniel 12:2 becomes virtually impossible to make to reformed/creedal orthodox folks who finance his ministry or creedal publishers who publish his materials.  This is also why American Vision and Gary DeMar have avoided this issue as well in my opinion.  If Jesus is directly teaching that the judgment and resurrection of Daniel 12:1-4, 13 would take place at the end of the old covenant “this age,” it would be pure and direct eisegesis (reading into the text something that is not there) to claim that somehow He meant that TWO different kinds of resurrections would take place in two different “this age” time frames spanning thousands or millions of years.  Early creedal statements and that of the Church fathers believed the “age to come” or “age about to come” was still future and when it came the Second Coming and judgment and resurrection of the living and dead would occur.  They did not teach that the NT’s use of the “age to come” or “age about to come” was fulfilled in AD 70 as partial preterists are now admitting and conceding to full preterism.
Concluding Daniel 12:1-4/Matthew 13:39-43 and the teachings of progressive partial preterism.  Directly or indirectly, progressive partial preterism has conceded to full preterism that Jesus taught the judgment and resurrection of the dead in Daniel 12:2-3 was fulfilled between AD 30 – AD 70 at the end of the old covenant age in fulfillment of the parable of the wheat and tares.  This begs the question as to if Jesus elsewhere in the gospels taught this AD 70 doctrine of the judgment and resurrection of the dead and if the rest of the NT applies the judgment and resurrection of the dead in Daniel 12:1-4 to AD 70 or the end of time.  To this issue we continue.
Matthew 24-25/Daniel 12:1-4

   Daniel 12:1-12

Olivet Discourse
1.  Tribulation and Abomination that causes   Desolation  (Dan. 12:1, 12) 1.  Tribulation and Abomination that causes   desolation

(Matt. 24:15, 21; Lk. 21:20-23)

2.  Judgment and Deliverance  (Dan. 12:1) 2.  Judgment and Deliverance

(Lk. 21:18-22, 28; Matt. 24:13)

3.  Resurrection  (Dan. 12:2-3) 3.  Resurrection (Matt. 13:40-43; 24:30-31; Lk.   21:27-28)
4.  The End (Dan. 12:4, 6, 8-9, 13) 4.  The End (Matt. 24:13-14)
5.  When would all this take place?  “. . .when the power [The Law] of the holy people [Israel] has been completely shattered [the destruction   of the city and the sanctuary in AD 70], all these things [including the judgment   and resurrection] shall be finished.”  “But you, go your way till the end; for you   shall rest, and will arise to your inheritance at the end of the days.”   (Dan. 12:7, 13) 5.  When would all this take place?  “There shall not be left here one stone upon   another, that shall not be thrown down” [the destruction of the city and the   sanctuary in AD 70].”  “Verily I say   unto you, This generation shall   not pass, till all these things [judgment & resurrection] be   fulfilled.”(Matt. 24:1, 34)

 
Argument #1 The Analogy of Scripture “Parallels”
Of course progressive partial preterists such as Gary DeMar and Keith Mathison have surrendered to full preterism the belief that Matthew 24-25 cannot be divided into two comings of Christ (one in AD 70 and another at the end of time), but rather one in AD 70.  Gentry has nowhere to go at this point except to concede that this is now a legitimate and orthodox position to take although Luther, Calvin and the WCF all have taught that the coming of Christ in the OD is indeed the Second Coming.  For example the Reformation Study Bible, is in perfect harmony with full preterism in interpreting the parallel’s in Matthew 24:30-31 as being the same eschatological event with the following passages:
“But the language of [Matthew 24:31] is parallel to passages like 13:41; 16:27; 25:31, as well as to passages such as 1 Cor. 15:52 and 1 Thess. 4:14–17.  The passage most naturally refers to the Second Coming.”
It is important to note that full preterist hermeneutical “parallels” are reformed “parallels.”  Let’s briefly enjoy the analogy of Scripture which partial preterism arbitrarily rips asunder in hopes of trying to deal with NT imminence and stay creedal at the same time.
Matthew 24-25/Luke 21 & Matthew 13 Parallels
Evangelism in the world takes place (Mt. 24:14/Mt. 13:38).
There is persecution, tribulation, apostasy, & faithfulness (Mt. 24:9-13/Mt. 13:19-30).
The subject is the growth and reception of the kingdom at which time the judgment at the “end of the age” takes place (Lk. 21:31-32/Mt. 13:43; Mt. 24:3/Mt. 13:40).
The Son of Man comes with His angels to gather the sheep/wheat into His barn/kingdom and the wicked goats/tares are gathered and thrown into the fire and burned (Mt. 24:30-31, 25:31-41/Mt. 13:39-42).
Matthew 24-25/Luke 21 & 1 Corinthians 15 Parallels
Christ’s coming/parousia and trumpet call (Mt. 24:27, 31/1 Cor. 15:23, 52).
This is the time of “the end” (Mt. 24:3, 14/1 Cor. 15:24).
At this time God judges His enemies (Mt. 21:43à22:41-44à24-25/1 Cor. 15:24-28).
This is the time for inheriting the kingdom (Lk. 21:31-32/1 Cor. 15:24).
This is the time for God’s final redemption when the sin, the death, and the Law are destroyed for God’s people (Lk. 21:27-28/1 Cor. 15:23, . The temple’s destruction =’s the death being swallowed up in victory over “the [Mosaic Torah] Law” (1 Cor. 15:55-56/Dan. 12:7).
Matthew 24 & 1 Thessalonians 4-5 Parallels
Reformed and Evangelical commentators such as G.K. Beale see that in 1 Thessalonians 4–5, Paul is drawing from Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 24.
“That both [1 Thessalonians] 4:15–18 and 5:1–11 explain the same events is discernible from observing that both passages actually form one continuous depiction of the same narrative in Matthew 24. . . .”[11]
Christ returns 1 Thess. 4:16=Matt. 24:30
From heaven 1 Thess. 4:16=Matt. 24:30
Accompanied by angels 1 Thess. 4:16=Matt. 24:31
With a trumpet of God 1 Thess. 4:16=Matt. 24:31
Believers gathered to Christ 1 Thess. 4:17=2 Matt. 4:31, 40-41
In clouds 1 Thess. 4:17=Matt. 24:30
Time unknown 1 Thess. 5:1-2=Matt. 24:36
Coming like a thief 1 Thess. 5:2=Matt. 24:43
Unbelievers unaware of impending judgment 1 Thess. 5:3=Matt. 24:8
Judgment comes as pain upon an expectant mother 1 Thess. 5:3=Matt. 24:8
Believers not deceived 1 Thess. 5:4-5=Matt. 24:43
Believers to be watchful 1 Thess. 5:6=Matt. 24:37-39
Warning against drunkenness 1 Thess. 5:7=Matt. 24:49
Beale goes on to write:
“Other significant parallels include:  the use of the word parousia for Christ’s coming; reference to Christ’s advent as “that day” (Mt. 24:36) or “the day of the Lord” (1 Thess. 5:2); and a description of someone coming to “meet” another (eis apantesin autou, virgins coming out to “meet” the bridegroom in Mt. 25:6; eis apantesin tou kyriou, believers “meeting” the Lord in 1 Thess. 4:17; see further Waterman 1975).”[12]
Gentry, to support his argument that 2 Thessalonians 2 was fulfilled in AD 70, says that “Most commentators agree that the Olivet Discourse is undoubtedly a source of the Thessalonian Epistles.[13]  Unfortunately Gentry’s sources of authority end up proving too much.  For example, both D.A. Carson and G. Henry Waterman (the same source Beale uses) make virtually the same parallels between Matthew 24–25 and 1 Thessalonians 4–5 that we do.
Another partial preterist and outspoken critic of full preterism Keith Mathison attempts to avoid the unified parallels between Matthew 24–25 and 1 Thessalonians 4–5 by claiming that his Reformed brothers and “hyper-preterists” merely assume that “Jesus is speaking of his second advent when he speaks of ‘the coming of the Son of Man’ in Matthew 24 and that Paul is speaking of the same thing in 1 Thessalonians 4.”[14]  The notion that Mathison is trying to pawn off here in his new book From Age to Age, is that Jesus in Matthew 24-25 was not teaching on his Second Coming (thus Mathison contradicts Luther, Calvin, and the WCF) and had very little to say about it at all in the gospels, and that it was the Holy Spirit who allegedly leads Paul to develop the doctrine of the Second Coming more in-depth in 1 Thessalonians 4 and 1 Corinthians 15.  Seriously, I can’t make this stuff up folks!  Where is this taught in the reformed creeds and what early church fathers were teaching this?  The self-evident fact of the matter however is that Mathison turns a blind eye to overwhelming evidence because Mathison assumes that partial preterism is right.  It is more than inconsistent and arbitrary to claim preterist parallels between Matthew 24 and 2 Thessalonians 2[15] and between Matthew 24 and 1 Thessalonians 5 to support AD 70 fulfillments of Pauline eschatology,[16] and then deny the obvious parallels between Matthew 24 and 1 Thessalonians 4.  But this is what partial preterists such as Mathison do to remain creedal and support doctrines the Scripture does not teach.  This is why partial preterism is a nothing more than a stepping stone to full preterism.
Argument #2 – Christ came to fulfill “all” of the “jots and tittles” of the OT law and prophets in AD 70 (Matthew 5:17-18=Matthew 24:35).  This would have to include the judgment and resurrection of Daniel 12:1-4
Gentry says that when Christ referred to the fulfillment of “all things written” in (Luke 21:22), He was referring to Old Testament prophecies only, and that Christ therefore did not include the resurrection of all men and the Second Coming in the term “all things written.”[17]  But if Jesus came to fulfill “all” of the “jots and tittles” of the OT law and prophets when “heaven and earth” pass and if Reformed, Evangelical and partial preterist theologians are admitting that “heaven and earth” in (Matthew 5:17-18) refers to the Temple and or old covenant world of Israel which perished in AD 70, then “Houston we have a problem” for Gentry and partial preterism!  Some of the best Reformed theologians have taught that “heaven and earth” in Matthew 5:18 refers to the old covenant system which passed away in AD 70.  Reformed theologian John Brown:
But a person at all familiar with the phraseology of the Old Testament Scriptures, knows that the dissolution of the Mosaic economy, and the establishment of the Christian, is often spoken of as the removing of the old earth and heavens, and the creation of a new earth and new heavens.[18]
Evangelical theologian Crispin H.T. Fletcher-Louis agrees:
. . . [T]he principal reference of “heaven and earth” is the temple centered cosmology of second-temple Judaism which included the belief that the temple is heaven and earth in microcosm.  Mark 13[:31] and Matthew 5:18 refer then to the destruction of the temple as a passing away of an old cosmology. . . .[19]
One of Gentry’s co-author and partial preterist colleague’s Gary DeMar agrees and goes further building upon John Brown’s observations:
“The darkening of the sun and moon and the falling of the stars, coupled with the shaking of the heavens (24:29), are more descriptive ways of saying that “heaven and earth will pass away” (24:35).  In other contexts, when stars fall, they fall to the earth, a sure sign of temporal judgment (Isa. 14:12; Dan. 8:10; Rev. 6:13; 9:1; 12:4).  So then, the “passing away of heaven and earth” is the passing away of the old covenant world of Judaism…[20]
Exegetically, Jesus says nothing about two passing’s of “heaven and earth.”  And another interpretive problem for progressive partial preterists such as Gary DeMar would be that they take both “heaven and earth” passages passing in (Matthew 5:17-18/Matthew 24:35) as the old covenant temple or world perishing in AD 70.  Follow me with these exegetical/logical points along with the teachings of reformed eschatology and see where we end up.
If the analogy of Scripture teaches us that these passages are “parallel” and thus are the same eschatological time of the end judgment and resurrection events (ie. Matthew 13:39-43=Matthew 24:31ff.=Daniel 12:1-4) and…
If Jesus’ statement of coming to fulfill “all” the OT “jots and tittles” of the law and prophets (Matthew 5:17-18) includes the judgment and resurrection of Daniel 12:1-4 (no one I know denies this).  And…
If all of the OT “law and prophets” were fulfilled when Israel’s “heaven and earth” passed in AD 70 (the necessary implication of partial preterism).  And…
If the passing of “heaven and earth” in both of these passages took place in AD 70 (ie. Matthew 5:17-18=Matthew 24:35), and…
If it is true per partial preterism (DeMar and others) that Matthew 24 cannot have double, multiple or have mixed fulfillments beyond AD 70,…
Then… the judgment and resurrection of Daniel 12:1-4 (necessarily implied in Matthew 5:17-18 and found in Matthew 13 and Matthew 24) took place at the end of the old covenant age in AD 70 and therefore, cannot have a double, mixed or fulfillment beyond AD 70.  Remember partial preterist teaching on the fulfillment of Matthew 24:  “Either the Olivet Discourse applies to a generation located in the distant future from the time the gospel writers composed the Olivet Discourse or to the generation to whom Jesus was speaking; it can’t be a little bit of both. As we will see, the interpretation of the Olivet Discourse in any of the synoptic gospels does not allow for a mixed approach, a double fulfillment, or even a future completion. Matthew 24:34 won’t allow for it.”[21]
Gentry’s assertion that Matthew 24:30-31 is not dealing with the Second Coming or resurrection event (and it’s possible that neither is Matthew 24:36ff.) is simply not valid.  It is not valid because 1)  Jesus is simply discussing the same end of the age gathering He addressed in Matthew 13:39-43 (which is Daniel 12:2-3), 2)  Pauline parallels between Matthew 24-25 / 1 Thessalonians 4-5 prove Jesus was addressing the gathering of the elect as the resurrection, 3)  When Jesus says He came to fulfill the OT law and prophets when Israel’s old covenant “heaven and earth” would pass away in such passages as Matthew 5:17-18/Luke 21:22/Matthew 24:35, He not only has the judgment and resurrection of Daniel 12:1-4 in view in Matthew 24-25 but also of what commentators and theologians have called “Isaiah’s little apocalypse” (Isa. 24—28):
“IN THAT DAY (the last day of the old covenant age) the Lord will thresh from the flowing Euphrates to the Wadi of Egypt, and you, O Israelites, WILL BE GATHERED (cf. Matt. 13:39-43, 49/Matt. 24:30-31/2 Thess. 2:1) up one by one. And in THAT DAY A GREAT TRUMPET WILL SOUND (Matt. 24:30-31/1 Thess. 4:15-17/1 Cor. 15:52) those who were perishing in Assyria and those who WORSHIP THE LORD ON THE HOLY MOUNTAIN IN JERUSALEM.” (Isa. 27:13).
Of Isaiah 27:13‘s connection with the NT texts I inserted above, let’s turn to G.K. Beale and D.A. Carson for support:
“The trumpet as a sign of the day of the Lord in 1 Cor. 15:52 recalls Isa. 27:13…” Of 2 Thessalonians 2:1, “The content of Paul’s appeal in this section concerns not only “the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,” but also “our gathering to him.” The immediate reference to this latter subject is the comforting picture given in the previous letter of how all believers, both those who have died and those who are still alive, will be gathered together to Jesus at his return (1 Thess. 4:16–17). The motif, however, goes back to the widespread OT hope in the gathering together of the scattered exiles to their own land on the day of the Lord (Ps. 106:47 [105:47 LXX]; Isa. 27:13; 43:4–7; 49:12; 56:8; Jer. 29:14; 30:3, 18; 31:8, 23; 33:7; Joel 3:1–2; Zech 2:6; Tob. 14:5; 2 Macc. 1:27; 2:7, 18; Pss. Sol. 17:50; T. Ash. 7:6–7; T. Naph. 8:3). This hope was taken over by Jesus and his scattered followers to refer to the final gathering of God’s people with the Messiah (Matt. 24:31 par.; cf. 23:37 par.).[22]
Within “Isaiah’s little apocalypse” the resurrection is to take place at the time of this trumpet gathering in Isaiah 27:13 and on a mountain where the wedding feast takes place Isaiah 25:6-8.  In Jewish weddings the feast always follows the wedding which leads us to our next argument.
Argument # 3 Wedding=Resurrection
If the parousia of Christ in both Matthew 24-25 is pointing to Christ coming to close the old covenant age in AD 70 (DeMar and Mathison’s view with Gentry seeing no problem with it), and if the wedding takes place at this time (cf. Matthew 25:1-13), then it necessarily follows that the resurrection of Isaiah 25:6-8 was also fulfilled in AD 70.
Daniel’s time of the end judgment and resurrection had to either be fulfilled at the end of the old covenant age in AD 70 or at the end of the Christian age – it can’t be both!  Either the passing of “heaven and earth” and the fulfilling of all the OT law and prophets were fulfilled when Israel’s old covenant world “heaven and earth” passed away with the destruction of the temple in AD 70, or it refers to the literal planet at the end of time – it can’t be both!  Either Christ came in His parousia and the wedding/resurrection took place in AD 70 or it takes place at the end of time – it can’t be both!  Whey?  Because in the words of DeMar,  “…Matthew 24:34 won’t allow for it.”
Concluding the teachings of progressive partial preterism on Matthew 24-25/Daniel 12:1-4.  Through 1)  the analogy of Scripture and 2) seeing that Jesus came to fulfill all the OT law and prophets by AD 70 in such passages as Matthew 5:17-18/Matthew 24:35/Luke 21:22 full preterism is justified in taking a consistently reformed position that the judgment and resurrection of the dead described by Jesus and Daniel in Matthew 13:39-43=Daniel 12:1-4=Matthew 24-25 were events fulfilled at the end of the old covenant age in AD 70.  This is when all OT prophecy was fulfilled (cf. Luke 21:20-22/Matthew 5:17-18/Matthew 24:35) and there can be no double, multiple, or mixed fulfillments of this prophetic material beyond AD 70.  This is consistent reformed eschatology pure and simple.  Selah.
John 5:28-29/Daniel 12:1-2
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:[23]
The “already” or imminent “already”

Daniel 12:1:    “And at that hour…” John 5:25:    “…an hour is coming and now is…”
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.” 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.”

 The “not yet”

Daniel 12:1:    “And at that hour…” John 5:28:    “…for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear   His voice,
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.” 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.”MJS – also related:1 John 2:18:    “Dear children it is the last hour…”Revelation   14:7:  “…the hour of His judgment has come.”

From the very start Gentry is at odds with reformed theologians such as G.K. Beale.  Both believe that the resurrection of John 5:28-29 is the “not yet” of a physical resurrection at the end of history, but consider the problem in that Beale believes the “not yet” resurrection “hour” of Daniel 12:1-2—John 5:28-29—1 John 2:17—Revelation 14:7 are all the same event to be fulfilled at the end of history, while Gentry on the other hand believes the judgment and resurrection “hour” of Daniel 12:1-2—1 John 2:17—Revelation 14:7 were fulfilled in AD 70!  However, both reformed views form full preterism when it comes to John’s judgment and resurrection “hour.”  Beale (nor the classical Reformed amillennial position) does not give the “not yet” judgment and resurrection of Daniel 12:1-4 TWO end of the age (“not yet”) fulfillments as the progressive partial preterists are now forced to do — in order to try and be consistent with NT imminence while trying to please creedal supporters at the same time.
In commenting on the resurrection of Daniel 12:2 Gentry mentions the spiritual and corporate nature of the resurrection for Israel in Ezekiel 37 a lot to support his corporate view of Israel being raised into the new covenant Israel by AD 70.  Well, since there was a spiritual and corporate resurrection of the dead coming out of their graves in Ezekiel 37 and there is a spiritual fulfillment for the dead rising within the immediate context of John 5:24-26, there is no exegetical reason why the new covenant anti-type coming resurrection hour out of graves in John 5:28-29 is not also a corporate and spiritual resurrection.
Since partial preterism is now teaching that the resurrection of John 5:28-29 is the resurrection of Daniel 12:2 and are fulfilled together, and that the resurrection of Daniel 12:2 happened in AD 70, it necessarily follows that they need to prove without a shadow of doubt that the resurrection of John 5:28-29 is a physical/biological resurrection which takes place at the end of history and not the AD 70 one.  And if I’m not mistaken Joel McDurmon has also said that this passage could have had a fulfillment in AD 70 just like there “could” have been one in 1 Corinthians 15 and Revelation 20.  Gentry and partial preterism in general have not brought forth any compelling exegetical evidence that John 5:28-29 refers to a biological resurrection at the end of history.
David Green in response to Strimple in our book House Divided Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology A Preterist Response to When Shall These Things Be?, has updated his response a bit on this passage (see pages 178-180):
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)

  1. God’s worshipers would no longer worship Him in Jerusalem.

2. All who were in the graves would hear His voice.
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).”
Gentry agrees with full preterism that Jesus’ “already and not yet” eschatological “hour” in John 4 is between AD 30 – AD 70 when the old covenant mountain and temple worship is removed and the new established,[24] but then Gentry would claim Jesus’ same phrases on the coming eschatological “hour” in John 5 allegedly deal with the end of time.  We again find this arbitrary and exegetically unconvincing.

The Apostle Paul’s teaching on the Resurrection and Judgment of Daniel 12:1-4

We now turn our attention to Pauline eschatology and how Paul develops the resurrection of  Daniel 12:2, 13 in the NT.  Does Paul follow the same teaching that Jesus does in the gospels concerning an imminent AD 70 “hour” and judgment/resurrection of the living and dead?
Acts 24:15/Daniel 12:2
Paul, in agreement with Daniel and Jesus, also taught that the resurrection of Daniel 12:2 was imminent in the first century:  “having hope toward God, which they themselves also wait for, that there is about to be a rising again of the dead, both of righteous and unrighteous (Acts 24:15, YLT & WEY)
Argument #1 – Paul taught the OT resurrection:
The Apostle Paul taught, “…nothing but what the Prophets and Moses said was going to take place” (Acts 26:21-23).  This would obviously include Daniel 12:2
Argument #2 – Only one place in Prophets that predicted a resurrection for both groups:
There is only one passage found in “the law and prophets” (Acts 24:14-15) that explicitly speaks of a resurrection of believers and unbelievers, and that is Daniel 12:2.  This is Paul’s source in Acts 24:15, as virtually any commentary or scholarly work agrees.
Argument #3 – Paul’s resurrection was “about to” take place:
Paul says that Daniel’s resurrection was “about to” take place.  Although Gentry has completely ignored arguments 2-3 above, he has tried to appeal to lexical and language works such as BDAG to get rid of the imminence in this passage.[25]  He and other partial preterists appeal to YLT and WEY translations in supporting passages they want to be fulfilled in AD 70 when debating futurists, but somehow everyone is supposed to think that these translations must be in error if they posit the resurrection as being imminent in the first century when debating full preterist’s.  Unbelievable. 
Argument #4 – The burden of proof is now upon Gentry:
Gentry’s new progressive partial preterist interpretation that the resurrection of Daniel 12:2 was fulfilled in AD 70 begs the question – if Jesus in the gospels and John in the book of Revelation apply the resurrection of Daniel 12:2 to AD 70, then why is it a stretch to believe that the Apostle Paul isn’t developing the resurrection of Daniel 12:2 in Acts 24:15 to AD 70 as well?
In Gentry’s article Acts 24:15 AND THE ALLEGED NEARNESS OF THE RESURRECTION,[26] he claims this passage does not support a full preterist interpretation concerning the judgment and resurrection of the dead.  Since Gentry and his partial preterist partners in crime have stolen a full preterist view of an AD 30 – AD 70 “already and not yet” resurrection (one that was progressive, spiritual, and corporate for Israel resulting in the souls of saints being raised out Hades or Abraham’s Bosom) the burden of proof is now upon Gentry to prove that Acts 24:15 isn’t the AD 70 judgment and resurrection he claims did take place in AD 70 (no matter if mello here should be translated as “about to” or not)!
Argument #5 – Cowards are usually found hiding and unable to respond:
Gentry will not allow myself, Don Preston or William Bell to add comments under his articles on his site, because he doesn’t want to look bad and have us demonstrate to his readers how indeed his teachings are in fact leading people to full preterism.  Nor does he want it publicly pointed out how he is avoiding 3 out of the 4 arguments that we have given on this passage (see above).  I continue to find Gentry arrogant, deceptive, ignorant and unscholarly when he behaves in such a manner.
Romans 13:11-12/Romans 8:18-23 YLT/Romans 11:11-27 & Daniel 12
Again since Paul taught no other things on the resurrection except that which could be found in the law and the prophets, it is no stretch to see that Daniel’s “hour” (cf. OG LXX) in Daniel 12:1-2 of resurrection is not only Jesus’ or John’s in (John 5:28-29) but also in Paul’s (Romans 13:11-12).  If Beale is correct in that the judgment and resurrection of Daniel 12:1-2 has an “already and not yet” aspect to it, and he makes parallel’s to the (OG) LXX with that of the “already and not yet” “hour” of John 5:24-29, then I see no reason why Paul is not drawing from that same “hour” and waking out of “sleep” here:  “Besides this you know what hour it is (cf. 1 John 2:17-18), how it is full time (the end time or time of the end of Daniel 12:4) now for you to wake from sleep (Dan. 12:2). For salvation (cf. Dan. 9:24 – finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness) is nearer to us now than when we first believed (the NT’s “already”); the night is far gone, the day is at hand (the NT’s AD 70 “not yet”). Let us then cast off the works of darkness and put on (the transformation resurrection process) the armor of light; (Romans 13:11-12).

Daniel 12:1:    “And at that hour…” Romans 13:11:    “…you know what hour it is…”
Daniel 12:4:    “the end time” or “time of the end” Romans 13:11:    “…how it is full time…”
Daniel 12:2:    “Many of those who sleep in the width of the earth will arise Romans 13:11:    “The hour has come for you to wake up from your sleep…”

Partial preterists such as Jordan and Gentry believe that Jesus and the Apostle John taught that the resurrection of Daniel 12:2 had a spiritual and corporate body resurrection process taking place between AD 30 – AD 70.  We have this already and imminent not yet process in Paul’s theology on the resurrection in this passage as well pointing to AD 70.
Argument #1 – Imminence:
The resurrection of Romans 13:11-12 was the resurrection of Daniel 12:2 and it was “at hand.”
Argument #2 – The analogy of Scripture:
Partial preterists have acknowledged that Romans 13:11-12 was fulfilled in AD 70 and yet the Reformed Study Bible and classic amillennialists believe that the restoration of creation and the resurrection or redemption of the body in Romans 8:18-23 are the same events.  We couldn’t agree more and accept both of these reformed conclusions!
Argument #3 – Imminence in Romans 8:18-23 YLT and analogy of Scripture:
In our second edition of House Divided Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology (pages 116-120) I pointed out how Gary DeMar (Mathison and Gentry’s partner in crime when it comes to trying to overthrow full preterism) agrees with us and the YLT and WEY translations that the glorification of the Church or the “glory” that was “about to be revealed” points to an AD 70 fulfillment of (Romans 8:18).  At least this is more progressive and honest than Gentry’s more than inconsistent “scholarship” on mello here.  I wrote the following and would like a response from Mr. Gentry:
“It is more than arbitrary for partial preterists such as Gentry to honor Young’s literal translation of mello in Revelation 1:19 when debating Dispensationalists and Amimmennialists, but then not honor it in Romans 8:18 when debating full preterists.  Mello is used in the aorist infinitive in both verses.  Gentry writes of mello in Revelation 1:19:
…this term means “be on the point of, be about to.” …According to Young’s Literal Translation of the Bible, Revelation 1:19 reads: “Write the things that thou hast seen, and the things that are, and the things that are about to come [mello] after these things.” The leading interlinear versions of the New Testament concur. This is surely the proper translation of the verse.[27]    …when used with the aorist infinitive — as in Revelation 1:19 — the word’s preponderate usage and preferred meaning is: “be on the point of, be about to.  The same is true when the word is used with the present infinitive, as in the Rev. 3:10.[28]  Unfortunately, none of the major translators cited above translates Revelation 1:19 in a literal fashion.[29]
Where is Gentry’s disappointment when it comes to translators not translating Romans 8:18 by the same grammatical standard?  It is nowhere to be found, even though there are two other Greek words of imminence (apokaradokia and apekdekomai —  “eagerly waiting”) within the immediate context.
At least partial preterist Gary DeMar has tried to be more consistent with a proper translation of mello in Romans 8:18. Citing Robert Young’s Literal Translation of the Bible he writes:“Whatever the glory is it was ‘about to be revealed’…”[30]
We appreciate the honesty on properly translating mello here as “about to be revealed,” but contextually there is no ambiguity as to what the imminent manifestation of this “glory” was — the liberation of creation from its groaning and bondage, the full adoption of the sons of God, and the “redemption of the body” (vss. 18-23).”
To further complicate matters for progressive partial preterists such as Gentry, Mathison and DeMar on Paul’s imminent expectation of the glorification of the Church, liberation of creation, full adoption of the sons of God and the resurrection or redemption of the body in Romans 8:18-23 is my reference to John Lightfoot (one their favorite partial preterists to quote) who in no uncertain terms held to a full preterist view of the “creation” groaning – being men and not the planet earth (not even poetically).
And of course one final response to Gentry here on the use of mello in Romans 8:18 – Ken used BDAG as virtually his end all argument in his attempt to translate mello in (Acts 24:15) as “shall” or “will” instead of “about to be,” and yet BDAG references (Romans 8:18) as “about to be revealed.”  Once again we find partial preterist’s such as Gentry being unable to deal with what other partial preterists teach on important texts and or are using grammatical arguments and linguistic works arbitrarily.
Argument #4 – Romans 11:11-27:
Gentry, and his anti-full preterist co-authors in WSTTB? and other partial preterist associates form full preterism – the imminent glorification, restoration of creation, and resurrection in (Romans 8:18-23) and (Romans 13:11-12) were “about to be” fulfilled in an AD 70 “at hand” time frame along with a third resurrection text partial preterists take as fulfilled in AD 70 (“all Israel shall be saved” being “life from the dead”) which to my knowledge Gentry has not acknowledged along with Mathison (Romans 11:11-27) (see pages 126-128):
“Mathison neglects to interact with other partial preterists such as DeMar and Jordan who teach that “all Israel” was saved by AD 70 and that covenantally, there no longer remain “ethnic” Jews after AD 70.[31] Why was not the view of DeMar and Jordan one of the many “possible interpretations” within Mathison’s eschatology of uncertainty?”
To drive the point home again – if it is true that there was a spiritual corporate (process and covenantal) resurrection which was fulfilled to close the old covenant age in AD 70 (climaxing with dead saints such as Daniel himself being raised out of Hades or Abraham’s Bosom) per orthodox partial preterism, then why wouldn’t the Apostle Paul be teaching this kind of resurrection in Acts 24:15 YLT; Romans 8:18-23 YLT; Romans 13:11-12; and Romans 11:11-27?  If not why not Mr. Gentry?  And if so partial preterists such as Joel McDurmon need to prove from these passages that both an AD 70 resurrection is in view but an ultimate physical one is found in the text as well.
1 Corinthians 15/Daniel 12:1-4
Again, we would concur with Reformed Study Bibles, commentators and theologians whom state that Paul is following Christ’s eschatology and thus the two are “parallel” in such passages as Matthew 13:39-43; Matthew 24-25; 1 Thessalonians 4-5 and 1 Corinthians 15.  Or that Daniel’s resurrection is Paul’s in 1 Corinthians 15.  But can Gentry and Jordan’s progressive AD 30 – AD 70 resurrection for Israel resulting in the dead being raised out of Hades be seen in 1 Corinthians 15?  As Joel McDurmon has admitted there could have been an AD 70 fulfillment of the passage.

Daniel 12

1 Corinthians 15

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

Argument #1 The rising of the dead:
There definitely seems to be good reason to plug Gentry’s progressive and corporate view of the resurrection of Israel into 1 Corinthians 15.
Wuest’s translation of the present tense of (1 Cor. 15:25) correctly renders the last enemy of death as in the process of “being” destroyed.  Obviously this is not a fleshly corpse resurrection taking place over the last two thousand years.  Are corpses coming out of the ground?  Are men living to be 500-900 years old?  No.  But between AD 30 – AD 70 the administration of the old covenant condemning power of “the law” was present and its promises contained in the Law and Prophets had not been completely fulfilled (Matt. 5:17-19/1 Cor. 15:54-56).
In Hosea, Israel had been sown in death and captivity but she was in the process of being raised from something greater than a Gentile power (ie. “the death” that came through Adam), united together, and transformed through the good news of the new covenant.  Israel’s process of being transformed and being sown and rising from old covenant glory into new covenant glory in (1Cor. 15 & 2 Cor. 3) should be viewed together.  The Greek and grammar of these passages being in the present passive indicatives renders a more probable translation of “if the dead are not rising,”(vss. 16, 29, 32), “the death being destroyed” (vs.26), “But God is giving it a body,” (vs.38) and,  “So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is being sown in corruption; it is being raised in incorruption:  It is being sown in dishonour; it is being raised in glory: it is being sown in weakness; it is being raised in power:  It is being sown a natural body; it is being raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body” (vss.42-44).  Gordon Fee in his work on (1Cor.15) puzzles over this,
“The grammar of this sentence is somewhat puzzling…” “The sentence literally reads, “The last enemy is being destroyed.”[32]
Perhaps something else that might be “puzzling” in 1 Corinthians 15 that my friend Don K. Preston pointed out to me at the Criswell Conference concerning (1 Corinthians 15:49) is that  the text does not say “we shall bear the image” it is literally “let us bear the image.”  It is in the subjunctive, (phoresomen) not simple future!  That first century Christians were playing an active role in their resurrection (through the sovereign power and free grace of God) is something that we have already seen in the “already and not yet” resurrection of Romans 13:11-12/Daniel 12:1-2.
Most if not all of Gentry’s amillennial co-authors in WSTTB? would agree with the Reformed Study Bible for example which equates the parousia and or resurrection of Matthew 13:39-43; Matthew 24:27-31 with 1 Corinthians 15:
But the language of [Matthew 24:31] is parallel to passages like 13:41; 16:27; 25:31, as well as to passages such as 1 Cor. 15:52 and 1 Thess. 4:14–17.  The passage most naturally refers to the Second Coming.”
The classic amillennial position is that the one end time resurrection and judgment of Daniel 12:1-4 is the resurrection and judgment Paul is developing in 1 Corinthians 15.  So…
Argument #2 – Analogy of Scripture:
If it is true that the resurrection and judgment of Daniel 12:1-4 was fulfilled in AD 70 (per Gentry) and if it is also true that the resurrection and judgment of Daniel 12:1-4 is the same time of the end resurrection described by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 (which cannot be double fulfilled – per classic amillennial view), then the resurrection of 1 Corinthians 15 was fulfilled in AD 70.  This is a perfectly logical and reformed conclusion to make regarding the resurrection of 1 Corinthians 15.
There are many more full preterist arguments that Gentry needs to respond to when it comes to 1 Corinthians 15 which are addressed in chapter seven of our book, House Divided Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology.

The book of Revelation and Daniel 12:1-4

Revelation 20/Daniel 12
Gentry has been very outspoken that the millennium of Revelation 20 was not fulfilled by AD 70 and yet at the same time holds that there was a progressive judgment and resurrection for Israel between AD 30 – AD 70.  In our second edition of HD, I added seven closing arguments or points on the millennium of Revelation 20 which would also refute Gentry’s futuristic position (pages 131-133):
“In scriptural usage, a symbolic “thousand” can be likened to “one” (day / yesterday / a watch in the night), or used in reference to millions of hills, or to eternity (“forever”). A “thousand” can be likened unto or used to represent a number lesser or greater than a literal thousand. Only its context can determine its literal numerical meaning, but the basic idea that is communicated by the number is “fullness.” As G. K. Beale wrote, “The primary point of the thousand years is probably not a figurative reference to a long time . . .”[33]
To conclude my section on the millennium of Revelation 20, please consider the following exegetical, orthodox, and historical points:
Kenneth Gentry informs us that the book of Revelation is about things which were past, present, and “about to be” fulfilled in John’s day (Rev. 1:19, YLT). There is no exegetical evidence that Revelation 20 does not fall within these inspired parameters.
As G.K. Beale has said, the symbol of the thousand years does not have to be taken as describing a long period of time (i.e., thousands of years).
It has also been acknowledged by Reformed theologians that many Rabbis believed that the period of Messiah was to be a transitionary stage between “this age/world and the age/ world to come.”  These Rabbis (such as R. Adiba), understood this transition period to be forty years, based upon how long the Israelites were in the wilderness before inheriting the land. This type/anti-type understanding is developed for us in the book of Hebrews (cf. Heb. 3-4; 10:25, 37; 11—13:14, YLT).  And as we have noted from Reformed partial preterists such as Joel McDurmon and Gary DeMar, it is within the realm of Reformed orthodoxy to believe that Jesus’ and Paul’s “this age/world” was the old covenant age, and that “the last days” were the days of transition between the old covenant age and the new covenant age (AD 30 – 70).
Reformed partial preterists such as Keith Mathison, Kenneth Gentry, and James Jordan teach that the content of Revelation 1-19 and 21-22 was fulfilled by AD 70, at which time there was a judgment and resurrection of the dead and arrival of the new creation.  And amillennialists such as Simon Kistemaker teach that Revelation 20:5–15 recapitulates the same judgment and consummation scenes that are depicted in chapters 1–19 and 21–22.  Full preterists hold to both of these Reformed and “orthodox” positions in interpreting the book of Revelation.
In criticizing the premillennial view, which often seeks to isolate Revelation 20 from the rest of the New Testament, amillennialists and many postmillennialists hold that Revelation 20 falls within the “already and not yet” of the “last days” period in the New Testament, and that this transition period is depicted in the parable of the wheat and tares, or in Matthew 24–25.  But as we have seen, it is “orthodox” to believe the “last days” ended with the old covenant age in AD 70, and that the harvest/gathering and coming of Christ in Matthew 13 and 24–25 was fulfilled by AD 70.
If it is true that a) the coming of Christ in Matthew 24 and 25 is referring to the AD 70 judgment, as Mathison and other partial preterists are now proposing, and if it is true that b) John’s version of Matthew 24-25 is found in the book of Revelation, and if it is true that c) Matthew 24:27-31 — 25:31ff. is descriptive of the one end-of-the-age Second Coming, judgment, and resurrection event (the creedal position), then d) the authors of WSTTB have some explaining to do, because these orthodox doctrines form the “this-generation” forty year millennial view of full preterism.

MATTHEW 24-25

REVELATION 20:5-15

Resurrection and   judgment Matt. 24:30-31 (cf. Matt. 13:39-43/Dan. 12:2-3) Matt. 25:31-46 (cf.   Matt. 16:27-28) Resurrection   and judgment Rev. 20:5-15
De-creation   heaven and earth pass/flee matt. 24:29, 35 (cf. Matt. 5:17-18) De-creation   heaven and earth pass/flee Rev. 20:11 (cf. Rev. 6:14; 16:20; 21:1)
Christ   on throne to judge Matt. 25:31 God   on throne to judge Rev. 20:11
Wicked   along with Devil eternally punished Matt. 25:41-46 Wicked   along with Devil eternally punished Rev. 20:10, 14-15

If it is true that a) the judgment and resurrection of the dead in Daniel 12:1-4, 13 were fulfilled by AD 70 (per Gentry), and if it is true that b) Daniel 12:1-4, 13 is parallel to Revelation 20:5-15 (classic amillennial view), then c) once again the authors of WSTTB have some explaining to do, in that these orthodox views form the “this-generation” forty-year millennial view of full preterism.

DANIEL   12:1-2

REVELATION   20:5-15

Only   those whose names are written in the book would be delivered/saved from   eternal condemnation Dan. 12:1-2 Only   those whose names are written in the book would be delivered/saved from the   lake of fire Rev. 20:12-15
This is the time for the resurrection and judgment   of the dead Dan. 12:1-2 This is the time for the resurrection and judgment   of the dead Rev. 20:5-15

Therefore, the reader should be able to discern that the full preterist view of the millennium is: 1) consistent with the teaching of Revelation, 2) falls within the “orthodox” views the Reformed church, 3) is in harmony with the analogy of Scripture, and 4) has historical support from Rabbis who saw a forty-year transition period between the two ages. Our view on the millennium is exegetically sound and orthodox. It is not as “difficult” as Mathison attempts to portray it.”
Mr. Gentry wants to apply his AD 30 – AD 70 judgment and resurrection view of Daniel 12:1-4 in Revelation 7 and 14 but doesn’t want to touch upon where everyone clearly sees Daniel 12:1-4 being fulfilled in the book of Revelation – ie. Revelation 20!  This appears to be once again an arbitrary creedal philosophy guiding him and not a commitment to “sola scriptura” or sound exegesis.  Again, Ken has already informed his readers that anyone wanting to give multiple or double fulfillments to his AD 70 fulfillments in the book of Revelation, would be guilty of “pure theological assertion” which  has “no exegetical warrant.”[34]  So he can’t then turn around and claim that John in Revelation 7 and 14 is giving the judgment and resurrection of Daniel 12:1-2 two fulfillments.  He sure would have to disagree with partial preterist Joel McDurmon who claimed there could have been an AD 70 fulfillment of the resurrection in Revelation 20 but it would also have to have another “final” fulfillment at the end of time.  McDurmon’s comments are indeed “pure theological assertion” without “exegetical warrant.”
I’m sure Ken would say that John in Revelation 7 and 14 is using the judgment and resurrection of Daniel 12:1-4 typologically to point to AD 70 whereas in Revelation 20 he is using Daniel 12:1-4 to refer to the “final” resurrection.  But once again reformed theology sees an “already” resurrection process for the living taking place in Revelation 20 culminating in what partial preterist James Jordan sees as a resurrection for Daniel’s soul being raised out of Hades or Abraham’s Bosom (per Daniel 12:2, 13/Revelation 20).  After all, where in Revelation 20 is there any mention of a physical or biological resurrection per Gentry?  Only “souls” are mentioned.  And your typical amillennialist is going to tell us that the same end time resurrection and judgment of the dead in Revelation 7, 11 and 14 is then recapitulated in Revelation 20.  These are orthodox views that full preterists have taken on the judgment and resurrection of the dead in Revelation 11, 7, 14 and 20.  We have no desire to “go beyond what is written” or “add” to the prophetic material in Revelation so that we can be creedal.  When creedal tradition seeks to trump sound exegesis, it’s time for the true reformed Christians to make a stand on sound exegesis and what the historical church (combined amillennial and partial preterists) have written on the millennium of Revelation 20.

Conclusion

If no written or printed response is forthcoming from Mr. Gentry and his co-authors of WSTTB? to our second edition of HD, then I will conclude with Gary North’s kind of logic in these matters and that this debate is over because no consistent exegetical one can be given.  I wanted to express my sincere appreciation to the work that Mr. Gentry and his co-authors and anti-full preterist associates have done thus far in demonstrating what full preterists have been saying all along:  the “one” Second Coming or “THE parousia” of Christ attended with the one judgment and resurrection of the living and dead was a process from AD 30 to AD 70 for Israel coming out of her old covenant world/body and into the her new covenant world/body, was spiritual, corporate, resulting in the souls of men such as Daniel (Daniel 12:13) being raised out of Hades or Abraham’s Bosom to close the old covenant age in AD 70.
This article has proven that progressive partial preterists have indeed “given the farm away” to full preterism when it comes to the judgment and resurrection of the dead.  This used to be the defining difference between the two views, but as we have seen Gentry and his progressive partial preterist associates have only stolen our AD 70 judgment and resurrection view of the living and dead (w/out giving us credit) and simply asserted with no exegetical evidence that such passages as John 5:28-29; Acts 24:15YLT; 1 Corinthians 15; and Revelation 20 teach two fulfillments or that a biological resurrection at the end of time is present in any of these passages.
Gentry co-authored a book entitled, HOUSE DIVIDED THE BREAK-UP OF DISPENSATIONAL THEOLOGY in which he and others demonstrated that progressive dispensationalists have given the farm away to covenant theology/eschatology and thus there remains nothing left to dispensationalism.  They must accept that their house is falling apart and cannot stand or accept covenant theology/eschatology.  Gentry is now on the receiving end of this kind of logic.  Our “House Divided” book has demonstrated without a shadow of doubt that progressive partial preterists such as Gentry, DeMar, McDurmon and Mathison combined with the classical amillennial and creedal views form full preterism and they can either accept this or watch their house continue to fall at the feet of full preterism.



[1] Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. He Shall Have Dominion (Draper, VA:  Apologetics Group Media, 2009 Third Edition), 538.
[2] Kenneth Gentry, DANIEL 12, TRIBULATION AND RESURRECTION, http://postmillennialism.com/2012/03/daniel-12-tribulation-and-resurrection/
[3] Gary DeMar, The Olivet Discourse: The Test of Truth, http://www. americanvision.org/blog/?p=190
[4] Kenneth Gentry, Four Views on the Book of Revelation, ed. C. Marvin Pate (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998), 43–44.
[5] Kenneth Gentry, DANIEL 12, TRIBULATION AND RESURRECTION, http://postmillennialism.com/2012/03/daniel-12-tribulation-and-resurrection/
[6]   Gary North, perhaps not knowing his own son-in-law’s position at the time, wrote in 2001: “Anyone who equates the fulfillment of [the parable of the wheat and tares] with A.D. 70 has broken with the historic faith of the church.” http://www.preteristcosmos.com/garynorth-dualism.html
[7] . Joel McDurmon, Jesus v. Jerusalem: A Commentary on Luke 9:51 – 20:26, Jesus’ Lawsuit Against Israel (Powder Springs, GA: The American Vision, Inc., 2011), 48-49; see entire section 43-51. One of DeMar’s co-authors
Peter Leithart, has also conceded that the parable of the wheat and tares was fulfilled in the first century, Peter J. Leithart, The Promise of His Appearing:  An Exposition of Second Peter (Moscow, ID:  Canon Press, 2004), 95.
[8] Kenneth Gentry, DANIEL 12, TRIBULATION AND RESURRECTION, http://postmillennialism.com/2012/03/daniel-12-tribulation-and-resurrection/
[9] Ibid.
[10] Peter J. Leithart, The Promise of His Appearing:  An Exposition of Second Peter (Moscow, ID:  Canon Press, 2004), 95.
[11] G.K. Beale, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series 1–2 Thessalo-nians (Downers Grove, IL: Inter Varsity Press, 2003), 136.  Copyright 2003 by G.K. Beale.  Some Progressive Partial Preterists are now agreeing that 1 Thessalonians 4:15–17 took place in AD 70.  Mike Bull is admitting that Gentry and Mathison are forced to “dodge and weave to put this passage [1 Thess. 4:15-17] into our future.” Mike Bull, The Last Trumpet, http://www.bullartistry.com.au/ wp/2011/06/05/the-last-trumpet/

[12] . Ibid, 136–137.

[13] .  Kenneth Gentry, Perilous Times: A Study in Eschatological Evil (Texarkana, AR:  Covenant Media Press, 1999), 100, n. 19.  Here Gentry cites D.A. Carson, “Matthew,” in Frank E. Gaebelein, ed., The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, 12 vols. (Grand Rapids, MI:  Zondervan, 1984), 8:489; and G. Henry Waterman, “The Sources of Paul’s Teaching on the 2nd Coming of Christ in 1 and 2 Thessalonians,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 18:2 (June 1975); 105–113.

[14] . Mathison, From Age to Age, 515.

[15] . Mathison, Postmillenialism, 230.

[16] . Ibid, 226.

[17]Dominion, 542.

[18] .  John Brown, Discourses and Sayings of Our Lord (Edinburg: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1990 [1852]), 1:170.

[19] .    Crispin H.T. Fletcher-Louis, Edited by Kent E. Brower & Mark W. Elliot, Eschatology in Bible & Theology: Evangelical Essays at the Dawn of a New Millennium (Downers Grove, IL:  Inter Varsity Press, 1997), 145.

[20] DeMar, Last Days Madness, Ibid. Fourth revised edition, 192.
[21] Gary DeMar, The Olivet Discourse: The Test of Truth, http://www. americanvision.org/blog/?p=190
[22] Beale, G. K., & Carson, D. A. (2007). Commentary on the New Testament use of the Old Testament (747, 886–887). Grand Rapids, MI; Nottingham, UK: Baker Academic; Apollos..

[23] 0. G.K. Beale, A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of The

Old Testament In The New (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2011), 131132.

[24] Gentry, ibid. FOUR VIEWS ON THE BOOK OF REVELATION, 43.
[25] Kenneth L. Gentry, Acts 24:15 AND THE ALLEGED NEARNESS OF THE RESURRECTION http://postmillennialism.com/2012/02/acts-2415-and-the-alleged-nearness-of-the-resurrection/
[26] Kenneth Gentry, Acts 24:15 AND THE ALLEGED NEARNESS OF THE RESURRECTION, http://postmillennialism.com/2012/02/acts-2415-and-the-alleged-nearness-of-the-resurrection/
[27] . Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., The Beast of Revelation, (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1989), 23–24.
[28] . Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., Before Jerusalem Fell, (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1989), 141–142.

[29] . Ibid., 141.

[30] . Gary DeMar, Last Days Madness: Obsession of the Modern Church, (Powder Springs, GA:  American Vision, 1999), 225.

[31] Gary DeMar, All Israel will be saved:  Notes on Romans 11:26, American Vision http://americanvision.org/1234/all-israel-will-be-saved-notes-onromans/#.UG3auVGJr3A.  James B. Jordan, The Future of Israel Re-examined, July 1991. Biblical Horizons, No. 27 July, 1991

[32] Gordon D. Fee, THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS, (Grand Rapids, MI:  Eerdmans Publishing, 1987), 756.
[33] . G. K. Beale, The New International Greek Testament Commentary: The Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1999), 1018.
[34] Kenneth Gentry, Four Views on the Book of Revelation, ed. C. Marvin Pate (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998), 43–44.
 

House Divided Chapter Four The NT Time Texts Partial Preterist Keith A. Mathison Vs. Full Preterist Michael J. Sullivan Part 8 The Rapture 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17

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

When Shall These Things Be?

 
Chapter Four
The Eschatological Madness of Mathison or How Can These Things Be? 
Part 8 – The Rapture 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17
Michael J. Sullivan
Copyright 2009 and 2013 – All rights reserved.  No part of this
book (or article) may be reproduced in any form without permission
in writing from the publisher or author of this chapter/article (Vision Publishing
or Michael J. Sullivan), except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical
articles or reviews.
 
 
The Rapture
 
Mathison argues: Some have said that since Paul used the word “we” in
1 Thessalonians 4:15 and 17, Paul expected the events of 1 Thessalonians
4 to occur within his own lifetime. “The problem with this interpretation
is that in several other epistles Paul talks as though he could die soon.”
Therefore “Paul [was] simply using the pronoun ‘we’ in a general way to
mean ‘we Christians.’ As far as Paul knew, Christ could have returned in
his lifetime, but there was nothing that demanded He do so” (194).
 
Response:
 
To my knowledge, no preterist thinks that Paul assumed that he himself
would be included in the group of believers who would remain
alive to the coming of the Lord. If I were to say, “We who live long
enough to see the year 2030,” there is no reason to think that I would
be assuming that I myself would be among the living in 2030. My only
assumption would be that some of us today would be alive in 2030.
In the same way, Paul’s words imply only that he knew that some of
his contemporaries would still be alive when Christ returned, as Christ
Himself promised would be the case in Matthew 16:27–28; 24:34.
According to Mathison, all of Paul’s “we,” “you,” and “our” statements
in 1 and 2 Thessalonians refer to Paul’s own first-century audience and
address Christ’s coming in AD 70—except for the statements in 1 Thessalonians
4 (“the rapture”).[1] Mathison decides that “we” in 1 Thessalonians
4 means something other than what it means everywhere else in
1 and 2 Thessalonians. Suddenly in chapter 4, “we” includes Christians
who potentially will not be alive for a million years from today. Now let
us move on from arbitrary Mathisonian constructs to a biblical look at
“the rapture” passage, 1 Thessalonians 4:15–17.
 
A day was approaching when Christ would deliver believers from
their persecutions and pour out His wrath upon their persecutors (1
Thess. 1:10; cf. 2 Thess. 1:6–7). When that day came, the Lord descended
from heaven with a word of command (or “a shout”), with archangelic
voice, and with a trumpet call of God; and the dead in Christ rose.
Then the living in Christ and the dead in Christ were simultaneously
“caught up” in “clouds” to “a meeting of the Lord in the air.”
 
We can know that Paul’s words in 1 Thessalonians 4:14–17 are not
to be interpreted literally (a literal trumpet, etc.) because the Scriptures
tell us elsewhere not to interpret them literally. In Exodus 19 and 20,
the Lord came down in a cloud over Mount Sinai. He spoke with a loud
voice. There was the sound of a loud trumpet. And Moses met the Lord
on Mount Sinai. Then God established His covenant with His people.
The writer of Hebrews tells us that though the trumpet and the voice
of the old covenant were literal, the “trumpet” and the “voice” of the
new covenant are not literal (Heb. 12:18–19). Neither is the mountain
(Mount Zion) literal in the new covenant (Heb. 12:18, 22). Therefore,
neither is the cloud (which descended to cover the mountain) literal in
the new covenant.
Since the cloud-covered mountain is not literal, but is heavenly,
neither then is the meeting that takes place in the heavenly mountain
(i.e., in the clouds in the air) literal. Therefore the shout, voice, trumpet,
mountain, cloud, and meeting of 1 Thessalonians 4:16 are all spiritual
antitypes of the literal shout, voice, trumpet, mountain, cloud, and meeting
of Exodus 19 and 20 (Heb. 12:18–22).
 
What we have then in 1 Thessalonians 4:15–17 is the “rapturously”
metaphorical language of a prophet who is speaking of antitypical, spiritual
realities —the transcendent profundities of Christological glory in
and among the saints in the consummation of the ages.  If this sounds
like an over-spiritualization, it shouldn’t. The Lord Jesus Himself was
opposed to a literal removal of the church out of the world:
 
I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them
from the evil one. (John 17:15)
 
The “rapture” passage is no more literal than the prophecy of
Ezekiel 37:4–14. In that passage, God caused a valley full of dry
bones to come together. He attached tendons to them and put skin
on them. Then He caused the bodies to breathe and they stood on
their feet as a vast army. The bones represented the house of Israel.
They were hopelessly cut off from the land, and were said to be in
“graves.” As God had done for the dry bones, He was going to do for
the house of Israel.
 
In the same way, in 1 Thessalonians 4:15–17, God raised up His
church —the first fruits of the resurrection-harvest— which was anxiously
longing for the consummation of redemption and atonement.
As a mighty warrior, the Lord issued forth his shout of command and
sounded the trumpet of God. Then His spiritual army arose by His
power. They met Him on His way to His temple to judge the enemies
in His kingdom (Mal. 3:1). That is when God afflicted the persecutors
of His church, when He gave His people relief and glorified Himself in
them (2 Thess. 1:8–10).
 
Being revealed with Christ in glory (Col. 3:4) and becoming like
Him and seeing Him in His Parousia (1 Jn 3:2) had nothing to do with
escaping physical death or with being literally caught up into the literal
sky or with being biologically changed. It had to do with God’s people,
living and dead, being “gathered together” to become His eternal Tabernacle,
His spiritual Body, the New Man, the heavenly Mount Zion, the
New Jerusalem in the Spirit. “This mystery is great” (Eph. 5:32), and is
therefore communicated in the accommodative “sign language” of prophetic
metaphor.
 
Since our Lord came “with His saints” and destroyed the earthly temple
in AD 70 (Heb. 9:8), the church of all ages lives and reigns in glory
with Him forever (Rom. 6:8; 2 Cor. 13:4; 2 Tim. 2:11–12). Now whether
we are alive or asleep, we “live together with Him” (1 Thess. 5:10). This
was not the case in the Old Testament, when to die was to be cut off from
the people of God. As Paul says in Romans 14:8–9, “ . . . whether we live or
die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again,
that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.”
 
1 Thessalonians 4–5 & Matthew 24
 
For this we say to you by the word of the Lord . . . .
(1 Thess. 4:15)
 
Virtually every commentator and cross reference system parallels 1
Thessalonians 4:15–16 with Matthew 24:30–31 and 1 Corinthians 15:51–
52, and agrees that Paul is using Christ’s Olivet Discourse as the foundation
for his teaching concerning Christ’s Parousia throughout the Thessalonian
epistles. For example the Reformation Study Bible, of which
Mathison is Associate Editor, states of Matthew 24:31:
 
But the language of [Matthew 24:31] is parallel to passages like
13:41; 16:27; 25:31, as well as to passages such as 1 Cor. 15:52 and
1 Thess. 4:14–17. The passage most naturally refers to the Second
Coming.
 
Ironically, the parallels between Paul and the Olivet Discourse become
the clearest in the one chapter in 1 Thessalonians that Mathison
severs from the Olivet Discourse. Mathison admits the parallels between
1 Thessalonians 4 and 1 Corinthians 15 (193), but he avoids the obvious
parallels between 1 Thessalonians 4 and Matthew 24.
 
Reformed and Evangelical commentators such as G.K. Beale see
that in 1 Thessalonians 4–5, Paul is drawing from Jesus’ teaching in
Matthew 24.
 
That both [1 Thessalonians] 4:15–18 and 5:1–11 explain the
same events is discernible from observing that both passages
actually form one continuous depiction of the same narrative
in Matthew 24. . . . [2]
 
Here are some of the parallels between Matthew 24 and 1 Thessalonians
4–5:
 
• Christ returns from heaven 1 Thess. 4:16 = Matt. 24:30
• with archangelic voice 1 Thess. 4:16 = Matt. 24:31
• with God’s trumpet 1 Thess. 4:16 = Matt. 24:31
• Believers caught up to be with Christ 1 Thess. 4:17 = Matt. 24:31
• Believers meet Christ in “clouds” 1 Thess. 4:17 = Matt. 24:30
• Exact time unknown 1 Thess. 5:1–2 = Matt. 24:36
• Christ comes like a thief 1 Thess. 5:2 = Matt. 24:43
• Unbelievers caught unaware 1 Thess. 5:3 = Matt. 24:37–39
• Birth pains 1 Thess. 5:3 = Matt. 24:8
• Believers are not deceived 1 Thess. 5:4–5 = Matt. 24:43
• Believers told to be watchful 1 Thess. 5:6 = Matt. 24:42
• Exhortation against drunkenness 1 Thess. 5:7 = Matt. 24:49
• Τhe Day, sons of light, sons of the day[3] 1 Thess. 5:4–8 = Matt. 24:27,
36–38
 
Beale goes on to write:
 
Other significant parallels include: the use of the word parousia
for Christ’s coming; reference to Christ’s advent as “that day”
(Mt. 24:36) or “the day of the Lord” (1 Thess. 5:2); and a description
of someone coming to “meet” another (eis apantesin autou,
virgins coming out to “meet” the bridegroom in Mt. 25:6; eis
apantesin tou kyriou, believers “meeting” the Lord in 1 Thess.
4:17; see further Waterman 1975).[4]
 
In a more recent work Beale now seems to lean in the direction that
the coming of the Son of Man in Matthew 24:30 was fulfilled in AD 70
and not at the end of history:
 
“The clearest reference to Jesus as the Son of Man from Daniel 7:13 come
in the third category (which he identifies as “those that refer to Jesus’ future
coming in glory”), where there are quotations of Dan. 7:13 (Matt. 24:30,
Mark 13:26, Luke 21:27).  However, it is likely better to see most of these
third-category references fulfilled not at the very end of history but
rather in AD 70 at the destruction of Jerusalem, in which the Son of
Man’s coming would be understood as an invisible coming in judgment,
using the Roman armies as his agent.  The reference in Matt. 25:31 to
“the Son of Man” who will “come in His glory” and “sit on His glorious
throne” is not a quotation of but rather an allusion to Dan. 7:13-14, which
clearly is applied to the very end of the age at Christ’s final coming
If this view is correct, it may be that the AD 70 coming of Christ in
judgment as portrayed by the Synoptics is a typological foreshadowing of
his final coming in judgment.  However, the traditional view that the coming
of the Son of Man in the Synoptic eschatological discourse refers to Christ’s
final coming certainly is plausible.  This issue is a thorny one that still
deserves much more study.”[5]
 
This indeed is a “thorny” problem for Mr. Beale to affirm in one work that the
coming and implied resurrection gathering at the end of the age in Matthew 24:30-31
is the same Second Coming of Christ and resurrection event as described
by Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 and now try and affirm that the coming
and resurrection gathering of Matthew 24:30-31 was fulfilled in AD  70.  Why?
Because both of these are full preterist or “hyper-preterist” interpretations to
take on these texts.  Beale due to creedal commitments will not accept that full
preterism has done the “more study” necessary in order to reconcile
the exegetical problems he and his “orthodox” colleagues have created.
 
But is Beale then saving himself from this “thorny” problem by citing
Matthew 25:31 as “clearly” the end of time or end of the age coming of
Christ?  Not when you consider that partial preterists combined such as Mathison,
DeMar and McDurmon have deemed it orthodox to believe that the coming
of the Son of Man in Matthew 25:31 was not Christ’s “actual” Second Coming,
but was Christ’s going/coming in AD 30–70 and that the “end of the age” here is the
old covenant age ending in AD 70. But this then creates more thorny problems
for these men such as the marriage that follows Matthew 25:10.  How many times
does Christ in His Parousia consummate His marriage with the church in
Mathison’s view?
 
Mathison attempts to avoid the unified parallels between Matthew 24–25 and
1 Thessalonians 4–5 by claiming that his Reformed brothers and “hyper-preterists”
merely assume that “Jesus is speaking of his second advent when he speaks of
‘the coming of the Son of Man’ in Matthew 24 and that Paul is speaking of the
same thing in 1 Thessalonians 4.”[6]  The self-evident fact of the matter however
is that Mathison turns a blind eye to overwhelming evidence because
Mathison assumes that partial Preterism is right. It is more than inconsistent to
claim preterist parallels between Matthew 24 and 2 Thessalonians 2[7] and
between Matthew 24 and 1 Thessalonians 5,[8] and then deny the obvious parallels
between Matthew 24 and 1 Thessalonians 4. But this is what partial preterists
such as Mathison do.
 
Gentry, to support his argument that 2 Thessalonians 2 was fulfilled
in AD 70, says that “Most commentators agree that the Olivet Discourse
is undoubtedly a source of the Thessalonian Epistles.[9] Unfortunately
Gentry’s sources of authority end up proving too much. For example,
both D.A. Carson and G. Henry Waterman make virtually the same parallels
between Matthew 24–25 and 1 Thessalonians 4–5 that we do.
 
To make matters worse, Gentry also now concedes that Matthew
24–25 does not necessarily need to be divided and that all of Matthew 24
could be addressing one coming of Christ in AD 70:
 
“Orthodox preterists see no doctrinal problems arising if we apply all of
Matthew 24 to A.D. 70. We generally do not do so because of certain
exegetical markers in the text. But if these are not sufficient to distinguish
the latter part of Matthew 24 from the earlier part, it would not matter.”[10]
 
But virtually all scholars and commentators tell us that Matthew
24–25 forms the foundation to and contains parallel prophetic material to
Matthew 13; 1 Corinthians 15; 1 Thessalonians 4–5; 2 Peter 3 and Revelation
20–21. Yet Mathison claims Matthew 24–25 was fulfilled in AD 70
and Gentry doesn’t see a problem with it? How can these things be, indeed?
This is why partial preterism gains a following for a short period, and
then its students end up coming to “hyper-preterism” for a more consistent
and exegetical approach that is in harmony with the analogy of Scripture.
 
Another problem for Mathison and Gentry is that in their other writings
they admit that the last trumpet of Revelation 11 was fulfilled in AD
70, but they do not discuss the fact that the time of the last trumpet was
the time for “the dead” to be judged (Rev. 11:18). This is the same problem
they face in the immediate context of 1 Peter 4:7. How were the dead
judged in AD 70 without the resurrection of the dead taking place? And
how is this time for the dead being judged different from the time in which
the dead are judged in Revelation 20? And how is this trumpet judgment
in Revelation 11 different from the one in Matthew 24:30–31, 1 Thessalonians
4, and 1 Corinthians 15? The analogy of Scripture nullifies with
finality the arbitrary Scripture-dichotomizations of partial preterism.
 



[1] Mathison, Postmillennialism, 224–225.
[2] 45. G.K. Beale, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series 1–2 Thessalonians
(Downers Grove, IL: Inter Varsity Press, 2003), 136. Copyright 2003 by
G.K. Beale. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press. PO Box 1400, Downers
Grove, IL 60515. www.ivpress.com. Some Partial Preterists are now agreeing
that 1 Thessalonians 4:15–17 took place in AD 70. One is admitting that
Gentry and Mathison are forced to “dodge and weave to put this passage into
our future.” Mike Bull, The Last Trumpet, http://www.bullartistry.com.au/
wp/2011/06/05/the-last-trumpet/
[3] If we translate astrape in Matthew 24:27 as the sun (instead of lightning)
coming from the east and shining to the west, then these parallels are
possible.
[4]  Beale, Ibid, 136–137.
[5] G.K. Beale, A NEW TESTAMENT BIBLICAL THEOLOGY THE UNFOLDING OF THE OLD TESTAMENT IN THE NEW, (Grand Rapids, MI:  Baker Academic, 2011), 396 n. 27—397.  (emphases added).
[6] Mathison, From Age to Age, 515.
[7] Mathison, Postmillenialism, 230.
[8] Ibid, 226.
[9] Kenneth Gentry, Perilous Times: A Study in Eschatological Evil (Texarkana,
AR: Covenant Media Press, 1999), 100, n. 19. Here Gentry cites D.A.
Carson, “Matthew,” in Frank E. Gaebelein, ed., The Expositor’s Bible Commentary,
12 vols. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984), 8:489; and G. Henry
Waterman, “The Sources of Paul’s Teaching on the 2nd Coming of Christ in 1
and 2 Thessalonians,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 18:2 (June
1975); 105–113.
[10] 52. Kenneth Gentry, He Shall Have Dominion (Draper, VA: Apologetics
Group Media, 2009), 540
 

The Living Body Show 10/15/12 Re: Criswell Millennial Conf. Review Part 1 G.K. Beale's "Thorny Problem" in Matt. 24-25=1 Thess. 4-5

If it is “orthodox” to believe the following:
1)   The resurrection and glorification of the Church in Daniel 12:2-3 happened in AD 70 – corporately, covenantally and Daniel was raised out of Abraham’s Bosom or Hades into God’s presence at that time and according to Revelation 20 (Partial Preterism).
2)  The end of the age in Matthew 13:39-43 and Matthew 24 is describing the end of the OC age in AD 70 not the end of history (Partial Preterism).
3)  The end of the age eschatological gathering or resurrection/glorification into the kingdom of Daniel 12:2-3/Matthew  13:39-43/Matt. 24:31 takes place at the same time at Christ’ ONE Second Coming (Classic Amillennialism).
4)  Christ’s coming in Matthew 24:27-31–25:31ff. took place spiritually in AD 70 and involves a spiritual resurrection (Partial Preterism).
5)  Christ’s coming in Matthew 24:27-31–25:31 describes Christ’s ONE Second Coming (Classic Amillennialism).
6)  Christ’s coming in Matthew 24-25 is the same coming and resurrection event described for us in 1 Thessalonians 4-5 (Classic Amillennialism).
Then why are Full Preterists deemed as “unorthodox” for making these “orthodox” observations straighter and more exegetically consistent?
7)  Daniel 12:2-3/Matthew 13:39-43/Matthew 24:27-31 –25:31ff./1 Thessalonians 4-5 describe Christ’s spiritual ONE Second Coming event to raise the dead or gather God’s people (dead or alive) into His Kingdom in AD 70.
*  What is not orthodox/straight within futurism is its contradictions without Full Preterism being present to solve the problem.

 

An Exposition of "This Generation" (Matthew 24:34) Part 3

By Michael J. Sullivan
We are continuing our series on the “this generation” of (Matthew 24:34) and are discussing the various false interpretations that have been set forth in order to avoid the most clear one. We now approach a false interpretation that is probably the most detrimental to the Christian Church in our generation and one that has left many Evangelicals faith cold causing them to question the reliability of some of their so called “prophecy experts.” In addressing this interpretation I also wanted to take a look at the alleged OT “proof texts” that support that the gathering of Israel back into her land in 1948 is somehow a fulfillment of prophecy. I will be covering the Dispensational false teaching that OT prophecies and promises made to Israel cannot “in any way” be fulfilled by the Church. To the Dispensationalist, this even includes the promise of the New Covenant which has profound implications upon the Christian faith and the gospel. These are SERIOUS issues and I hope you will open your Bible as we begin this very important study.
2) “Our generation which saw Israel become a nation 1948 will witness Christ’s return.”
Hal Lindsey, an alleged “prophecy expert” who, based on current events and not the Bible claimed,
“WE are the generation that will see the end times… and return of Christ.” And “unmistakably… this generation is the one that will see the end of the present world and the return of Christ”[1] And then this view was fueled from the pulpit from the mega church Pastors such as Chuck Smith of the Calvary Chapel movement:
“…that the generation of 1948 is the last generation. Since a generation of judgment is forty years and the Tribulation period lasts seven years, I believe the Lord could come back for His Church any time before the Tribulation starts, which would mean any time before 1981. (1948 + 40 – 7 = 1981).”[2] In his book Future Survival (1978) Chuck wrote,
“From my understanding of biblical prophecies, I’m convinced that the Lord is coming for His Church before the end of 1981.”[3] Having attended Pastor Chuck Smith’s church–Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, CA as a very young boy till about the age of 22, I was indirectly and directly influenced by this false interpretation. As a boy crossing the intersection of Sunflower and Fairview everyday for school I would read the words, “Jesus is coming soon. God keeps His promises” painted on the back wall of the Chapel Store (the church book store). After the Lord saved me at the age of 18, I would then attend and graduate from Calvary Chapel Bible College and had more direct interaction with Lindsey’s and Smith’s false newspaper eschatology. For Smith and Lindsey, Christ’s announcement that He is coming “soon” only “truly” meant He was coming “soon” for our generation because it was said that only our generation witnessed the “super sign” of Israel becoming a nation in 1948.
Another popular Calvary Chapel Pastor and author Jon Courson, instead of confronting Lindsey and Smith sought to manipulate his following as well and tried to ignite the dulling faith of those failed predictions of Smith and Lindsey,
“The fig tree is the symbol of Israel nationally, historically, and scripturally. On May 14, 1948, the fig tree blossomed once again when the land of Israel was returned to the Jews. Jesus said the generation that sees that event take place will not pass away. Who is that generation? We are.”[4] “Written by a then-unknown author named Hal Lindsay, The Late Great Planet Earth exposed an entire generation to the concepts of the Rapture of the church and the return of Jesus Christ. It was foundational to the Jesus Movement of the 70s, which started on the West Coast, spread across the country, and eventually circled the globe. Lindsay and other teachers of prophecy during that time stressed this teaching in Matthew 24. The parable of the fig tree enflamed the hearts of an entire generation for Jesus said the budding of the fig tree signaled His impending return.
What is the budding of the fig tree? Scripture interprets Scripture. Thus, Jeremiah, Joel, Hosea, and others identify the fig tree as the nation Israel. For centuries, Israel seemed to be a dead tree. In the year A.D. 70, the Romans marched into Jerusalem, destroyed the city, and took over the country. The Jews scattered every direction in fulfillment of Deuteronomy 28:64-67. But in addition to saying the Jews would be scattered throughout the world, God also said, But The Lord liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land (Jeremiah 23:8).” (Courson, ibid,)
“So it was that on May 14, 1948, Israel became a nation again. The fig tree that had appeared to be dead and hopeless suddenly sprang back to life and blossomed just as Jesus prophesied. And, according to Matthew 24:34, the generation that saw that happen would be the final generation.
What constitutes a generation? Hal Lindsay and others taught that a Biblical generation could be a thirty-eight to forty-year time period.
And the Lords anger was kindled against Israel, and he made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation, that had done evil in the sight of the LORD, was consumed. Numbers 32:13
And the space in which we came from Kadesh-barnea, until we were come over the brook Zered, was thirty and eight years; until all the generation of the men of war were wasted out from among the host, as the LORD sware unto them. Deuteronomy 2:14
Thus, anticipation grew. Excitement and expectancy filled the hearts of many, for if you add forty years to 1948 and if you believe the rapture of the Church takes place seven years before the return of Jesus, the Rapture would take place in 1980 or 1981. Truly the time was near! T-shirts, bumper stickers, and posters were printed. Maranatha Come quickly, Lord became the watchword of believers. 1981 came. So did 1982, 83, 84, 85, and 86. And then something began to happen. A whole bunch of radical Christians began to cool off, saying, Maybe were here for a while after all. Maybe we shouldn’t be so committed to this kingdom thing. Oh, they didn’t say it in those exact words, but that’s what they were thinking. And a dulling of expectancy swept over our generation.
What went wrong? Perhaps forty years is not the figure we should work with when looking at a Biblical generation. Take a look at Genesis 15
And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; and also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again. Genesis 15:13, 14, 16
Here in Genesis 15, God refers to the four-hundred-year period the Jews were in Egypt as four generations. Therefore, in this model, a generation is not forty years but one hundred years. If a generation is one hundred years, am I suggesting that the Rapture will take place in 2048 one hundred years after the rebirth of the nation of Israel? No. I suggest it will be before then. You see, there is a principle in Bible interpretation called the Principle of First Mention that says foundational understanding about any given subject is usually found in the first place it is mentioned in Scripture. Where is the Greek term, generation first mentioned? In Matthew 1:17 we read: So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.
Sharpen your pencils and think with me: Christian and Jewish theologians alike agree that, based on Biblical genealogies, Abraham was called by God in the year 2085 B.C. Genesis 2 tells us he was seventy-five years old at that time, which means Abraham was born in 2160 B.C. Matthew 1:17 tells us there were forty-two generations (14×3) from Abraham to Christ. So, if you divide 2160 the year of Abrahams birth by 42, you get 51.4. Thus, scripturally, there is validity for a Biblical generation to be 51.4 years”
“I believe you who are in your teens and early twenties are very possibly the last generation. Set your heart on things above. Live for heaven. Seek first the kingdom, and you will be happy presently, rewarded eternally, and grateful constantly.
You who are older, continue setting an example for us who are younger. Continue to make the Lord top priority in your life. Were looking to you in a very real sense. Please keep the fire hot.
Fellow baby boomers, we need to realize that Jesus Christ is coming soon. We don’t have time to play around. We don’t have time to chase worldly pursuits any longer. We need to return to ministry and service, worship and prayer, Bible study and street witnessing. Whatever it was you used to do when you were fired up about Jesus in the 70s, do it again. Maranatha!” (Courson, ibid)
Well, 1999 like 1981, came and went too! And just like the last days cults of Mormonism and the Watchtower of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, when Jesus doesn’t come back in the lifetime and 40 year generation of their “Holy Spirit led,” “prophets” and “prophecy expert” teachers, they just keep stretching out the meaning of “this generation” from 40 to 50, 60, 70 – 100 years and manipulating and trying to get people “fired up” with new newspaper eschatological schemes and scenarios that allegedly teach that our generation is the one that will witness the “rapture.” This is how these last days cults, TBN and such mega churches as the Calvary Chapel’s “Jesus movement” have grown!
Well, I’m 41 now, so I guess according to Jon Courson I am somewhere between the younger generation that is going to see Christ’s return and the baby boomers who’s faith have become cold and dull due to the false date setting of men like Lindsey, Smith and Courson. So I (and I hope you will too) accept John’s exhortation and challenge to: 1) Set my heart on things above, 2) Live for heaven, 3) Seek first the kingdom, 4) I won’t play around, and 5) return to ministry, service, worship, prayer, Bible study, and witnessing. In doing these things however I will need to refute Jon’s false interpretation of “this generation.”
“Look at the fig tree and all the trees” (Luke 21:29)
As we have seen Dispensationalists usually interpret the fig tree in Matthew 24:32 as the Nation of Israel coming back into the land in 1948. And usually Amillennialists, Postmillennialists and Preterists counter with Luke 21:29 and ask, “Well, if Israel is the fig tree beginning to get tender in 1948, then what about “all the trees” or nations? What happen to them in 1948?!?” It is then pointed out that the next verse equates the signs with the leaves beginning to get tender and the kingdoms arrival with Christ’s return as “summer.” Well, why not combine the two concepts? I don’t have a problem in the least seeing Israel as the “fig tree” and the rest of “all the trees” as the Gentile nations in this passage. Other than the abomination of desolation, the other major sign that marked “the end” is the Great Commission. The gospel was bearing fruit throughout the land of Israel and among the Gentile nations within the Roman Empire or world as they knew it (cf. Colossians 1:5-6, 23; Isaiah 27:6).
PROPHECY FULFILLMENT
“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world (Greek oikumene) for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:14)
“But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed:
‘Their sound has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world (Greek oikumene)” (Romans 10:18)
“And the gospel must first be published among all nations (Greek ethnos)”
(Mark 13:10)
“…My gospel… has been made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures has been made known to all nations (Greek ethnos)…” (Romans 16:25-26)
“And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world(Greek kosmos) and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15)
“…of the gospel, which has come to you, as it has also in all the world(Greek kosmos), as is bringing forth fruit…,” (Colossians 1:5-6).
And he said unto them ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature (Greek kitisis) ” (Mark 16:15)
“…from the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature (Greek kitisis) under heaven, of which I, Paul became a minister” (Colossians 1:23)
“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth (Greek ge)” (Acts 1:8).
“But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed:
‘Their sound has gone out to all the earth (Greek ge), and their words to the ends of the world” (Romans 10:18)
The Great Commission and bearing forth fruit here is the fulfillment of Genesis 1:28 and paradise is being restored and about to come into its fullness at Christ’s imminent return. Although not a preterist, G.K. Beale at least makes the parallels:
Genesis 1:28
Colossians 1:6, 10
‘increase [auxano] and multiply and fill the earth…and rule over all the earth’.
‘in all the world also it [‘the word of truth, the gospel’] is bearing fruit and increasing [auxano] (v.6); ‘in every good work bearing fruit and increasing [auxano]…’ (v.10).
“Several commentators have noticed that verse 6 and 10 are an allusion to Genesis 1:28 (and perhaps 1:22). It appears that the Hebrew text may be the focus, since the Greek Old Testament renders the Hebrew para (‘bear fruit’) by auxano (‘increase’) and raba (‘to multiply’) by plethuno (‘to multiply’).”[5] There is a new Adam—Christ, and He is exercising dominion through His seed and progeny–the Church. Through the Holy Spirit, His light was shinning through them and transforming them as God’s New Covenant Creation (verse 3; cf. 2 Corinthians 3-5:17).
The Church or God’s New Israel (comprised of believing Jews and Gentiles) was the fig tree or the “seed” that was “being sown” and “being raised” (the present tense is used in 1 Corinthians 15:37-44) through the gospel and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. This process would reach its resurrection fullness and maturity at Christ’s return. His return would usher in an “end” to the Old Covenant “the law” of the Adamic and Mosaic body of sin and death for His people (Rom. 5-8; 1 Cor. 15). Without God attending to Israel as His olive tree, vine, or seed, her vineyard could not bring forth resurrection life/fruit, and there could be no salvation/resurrection/harvest for the Gentiles or the rest of “all the trees” (Luke 21:29-31/Rom. 11:15ff.).
Combined, Reformed theologians such as Peter Leithart and James Jordan understand the resurrection and harvest of Daniel 12:2-3 and Matthew 13 as an evangelistic/resurrection process for Israel, that ended at the end of her Old Covenant age in A.D. 70.[6] The wheat and the tares were in the process of growing together as they each responded to the gospel. I understand the presence of the Holy Spirit as a glorious light reflecting the glory of Jesus Christ raising and changing God’s elect from the Old Covenant mode of existence to the New. Between A.D. 66-70 Christ as the “Sun of Righteousness” came from the East to the West (cf. Matthew 24:27 – I translate astrape as the rays of light from the sun and not the lightning) bringing the final maturity and ripeness to the fruit and gathered it into His barn while burning up the chaff, tares and grass (Matthew 3:2-12; Matthew 13; 1 Corinthians 15-“first fruits” harvest motif., Revelation 7, 14; James 1:11; 5:1-9).
I may be wrong, but to me (and my reading of Isaiah and the OT prophets), the putting forth of the fig tree’s leaves and their blossoming (the Restored New Covenant Israel) along with all the trees (the time for the fullness of the Gentiles to be gathered and engrafted/redeemed into the Kingdom), seems to embrace the substance and fulfilling of the sign of the Great Commission in relation to Christ’s return in AD 70. Through the sign of the Great Commission being fulfilled and the power of the gospel, people/trees were about to blossom and become a well watered garden of God in His restored kingdom/paradise placed within the Land (Isaiah 27:6; 35; 44:1-5; 61:11). The Jew understood his Temple, City/Jerusalem and Promised Land to be the “heavens and earth” or a heaven on the earth of light in which the beasts/gentiles needed to come out of the darkness of their lands and enter in order to be saved. This is what we see in the book of Revelation with paradise being restored and the nations coming to the New Jerusalem for life (cf. Revelation 21-22:6-7, 10-12, 17, 20).
It always amazed me how Pastor Chuck Smith wanted to get people excited about how much agriculture and flowers he saw over in Israel the last time he was visiting there. He used this as an alleged “sign” along with Israel becoming a nation in 1948 and her making plans to re-build the temple again, that we were indeed living in the generation that would witness Christ’s return – yadee yadee – you know the story I’m sure. But this isn’t the kind of fruit and blossoming the book of Isaiah or Jesus is concerned with! The Bible is always interested in the heart and it is “within” and “in” this realm where the kingdom of God/heaven would come in Jesus’ “this generation” (Lk. 17:20-37; Lk. 21:31-32).
As I have sought to use the “this nation will not pass until all these things are fulfilled” interpretation against the dispensationalists by teaching that indeed the Old Covenant nation of Israel did indeed pass away in AD 70; so too I will use the Israel=fig tree argument against them here by offering a much better explanation as to how the remnant of Israel (the fig tree) and the nations (“and all the trees”) began to bud and blossom through the sign of the Great Commission being fulfilled before Christ’s imminent return in AD 70.
Since the alleged “re-gathering” of Israel in 1948 is supposed to be the “supersign” that we are living in the last days generation predicted by Jesus, we should give some attention to this imaginative interpretation. Instead of rebuking Hal Lindsey and Chuck Smith’s false interpretation and predictions arising from this text, Calvary Chapel Pastor and Evangelist Greg Laurie still teaches this, and quoting from Mark 13:28-29 he writes,
“Jesus said the rebirth of Israel will be a supersign of the last days…” “Of course we know this prophecy was fulfilled not that long ago. On May 14, 1948…”[7] 1948 – A fulfillment of what prophetic “re-gathering”?
In this section I want to analyze the various “proof texts” that Dispensationalists use to support that 1948 was a fulfillment of Biblical prophecy. I will focus mainly on the writings of John Hagee and Thomas Ice. We also examine the empty claims of Dispensationalists that OT prophetic material made to Israel cannot be applied or fulfilled in the Church age.
Now days most Dispensationalists are either abandoning the system or going further into it by embracing the “Christian Zionist Movement.” This movement seeks to try and persuade Jews from around the world to move back to Israel in order to usher in the Great Tribulation period and hasten the pre-tribulation “rapture” of the Church. Newspaper prophetic sensation John Hagee has built a foreign policy advocacy organization called Christians United for Israel (CUFI) around this false doctrine and false interpretation of Scripture. He is pushing for a pre-emptive war with Iran to quicken the “rapture.” In 2006 while lobbying in Washington Hagee was clear in his agenda, “The United States must join Israel in a pre-emptive military strike against Iran to fulfill God’s plan for both Israel and the West,” he said. This was supposed to be a step in the right direction as allegedly mapped out in the Bible, “a biblically prophesied End Time confrontation…which will lead to the Rapture, Tribulation…and the Second Coming of Christ.” Hagee not only uses guilt manipulation techniques on the members of his church and T.V. audiences to tithe to his “ministries” through his false “prosperity gospel,” but also uses guilt manipulation to push his false Dispensational Zionism doctrine. Hagee clearly insists that if you are not on board with him and his alleged Holy Spirit led agenda of believing 1948 was a fulfillment of prophecy, and that God has a literal real estate “forever” in the literal city of Jerusalem today, any other view for a Christian to embrace “sin.”[8] It is sad that this false doctrinal system/gospel of Hagee’s is tolerated among Evangelicals and it is more scary when he is allowed to lecture and manipulate our politicians and give them “altar calls” while pushing this agenda as part of his “gospel” of redemption etc…
In Deuteronomy 4:25-31; 28 – 29; and Leviticus 26, God lays forth His covenant with Israel of blessings and cursings. If Israel obeyed God they would be blessed in the land and if they disobeyed, they would be “scattered” among the Nations. The condition for their re-gathering back into the land was repentance and faith. Even though this is clearly laid out in the texts above, Dispensational Premillennialists such as Tim LaHaye, Thomas Ice, and Arnold Fruchtenbaum assert (in order to defend their system that 1948 was a prophetic gathering), that Scripture actually addresses two re-gatherings of Israel in the land: 1) in un-belief, and 2) another re-gathering in belief. Thomas Ice quoting his favorite dispensationalist theologian states,
“The re-establishment of the Jewish state in 1948 has not only thrown a wrench in amillennial thinking, but it has also thrown a chink in much of the premillennial thinking. Amazingly, some premillennialists have concluded that the present state of Israel has nothing to do with the fulfillment of prophecy. For some reason the present state somehow does not fit their scheme of things, and so the present state becomes merely an accident of history. On what grounds is the present state of Israel so dismissed? The issue that bothers so many premillennialists is the fact that not only have the Jews returned in unbelief with regard to Jesus, but the majority of the ones who have returned are not even Orthodox Jews. In fact the majority are atheists or agnostics. Certainly, then, Israel does not fit in with all those passages dealing with the return. For it is a regenerated nation that the Bible speaks of, and the present state of Israel hardly fits that picture. So on these grounds, the present state is dismissed as not being a fulfillment of prophecy.
However, the real problem is the failure to see that the prophets spoke of two international returns. First there was to be a regathering in unbelief in preparation for judgment, namely the judgment of the Tribulation. This was to be followed by a second worldwide regathering in faith in preparation for blessing, namely the blessings of the messianic age. Once it is recognized that the Bible speaks of two such regatherings, it is easy to see how the present state of Israel fits into prophecy.”[9] Ice then seeks to give us some proof texts for this position,
“In 1948 when the modern state of Israel was born, it not only became an important stage-setting development but began an actual fulfillment of specific Bible prophecies about an international regathering of the Jews in unbelief before the judgment of the Tribulation. Such a prediction is found in the following Old Testament passages: Ezekiel 20:33-38; 22:17-22; 36:22-24; 38-39; Isaiah 11:11-12; Zephaniah 2:1-2 presupposes such a setting.” (Ice, Ibid.).
Scripture simply does not teach a prophetic “re-gathering in unbelief” and that is why other dispensationalists are struggling with this position! Let’s briefly address some of these passages that Dispensationalists use as their “proof texts”:
Ezekiel 20:33-38
The context of this passage is dealing with the Babylonian captivity and has nothing to do with Israel being re-gathered back into the land in 1948! The context is that Israel was being unfaithful to God and wanted to be like the heathen nations around them. Therefore, God would take Israel out of her land in the wilderness (symbolic of the Babylonian captivity) and “purge” the wicked there so that the unbelievers would perish as God had purged the unbelieving generation under Moses in the wilderness. So this text actually teaches the opposite of what Dispensationalists say, because it would be the unbelievers who would be purged and die outside the land and not enter it. How is this passage teaching us that unbelievers would be re-gathered in the land of Israel in 1948 “in unbelief” is baffling to say the least!
Paul combines and applies both Isaiah 52:11 and Ezekiel 20:34 to the Church age in 2 Corinthians 6:17 which Dispensationalists claim cannot be done in any way.
Ezekiel 22:18-22
Again, the context is the “near” (vs.3-4) judgment of Israel by means of the Babylonians in B.C. 586 for their sins of spilling innocent blood and idolatry. The unbelievers are “dross” and would “melt.” This prophecy has nothing to do with God gathering Israel in the land in 1948 as a covenant gathered blessing, and it definitely does not teach a gathering of Israel in unbelief in 1948 either!
Ezekiel 36:22-24
The immediate context of this chapter is describing Israel’s sins of idolatry and her sins of blood guilt. For these reasons she was scattered into the Gentile nations and made slaves. As slaves they remained unfaithful to God and were thus a poor witness of Jehovah to the nations in which they were scattered. But God for His own great name sake would cleanse them from their sins and call them back into their land to rebuild the waste places. In type form, this prophecy (and chapter 37) was fulfilled under the restoration of Nehemiah and Ezra when the people came back into the land in repentance and began re-building the waste places of Jerusalem. There is NO contextual evidence whatsoever that there was a “re-gathering” of Israel in “unbelief” let alone any suggestion whatsoever that 1948 is the focus of this prophecy!
Ezekiel 37, 40-48
John Hagee writes of this chapter,
“MORE THAN 2,600 years ago the prophet Ezekiel prophesied the resurrection of Israel from the Gentile graves in the lands to which she had been scattered, predicting the rebirth of Israel, which took place May 14, 1948.”[10] “I want to make it clear that I do not believe that Ezekiel’s vision has anything to do with the resurrection of the dead saints of the church.” (Ibid.).
“The dry bones in Ezekiel’s vision represent the nation of Israel during the Dispora, beginning in A.D. 70 (Ezkek. 37:11). Gradually the bones came together, and the sinews and flesh came upon them.” (ibid. 130-131).
And popular Calvary Chapel Pastor and Evangelist Greg Laurie has sought to get his piece of this sensationalistic money making pie as well,
“On more than one occasion in Scripture, Israel is compared to a fig tree (see Judg. 9:11; Hos. 9:10; Joel 1:7-8). I believe that Mark 13:28-29, along with many other Scripture passages, such as Ezekiel 37-39, speak of the rebirth of Israel—the regathering of God’s people. When the nation of Israel comes back into the existence, Jesus was stating prophetically, it is a supersign that His coming is near.”[11] Of course some Dispensationalists disagree with Lindsey, LaHaye, Smith, Laurie, Courson, Ice, etc., that Ezekiel 37 has anything to do with 1948,
“The Israelites residing in Palestine today are not the fulfillment of this prophecy.”[12] Everyone agrees that the resurrection depicted in Ezekiel 37 is a “national” resurrection. In other words Israel experienced national and covenantal “death” when she was scattered from her land and experiences a “resurrection” when she is restored back into the land. Again, like chapter 36, this prophecy was partially fulfilled through typology when the two houses of Israel came back into the land under the restoration and leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah. However, both chapters contain elements of Messiah’s work of salvation (the anti-type) with the coming Messianic New Covenant.
Ezekiel 37:22-28 discusses the coming New Covenant King/Shepherd who would cause: 1) His people to possess the land, 2) establish an everlasting covenant of peace with them, 3) multiply them, and 4) “sanctify” them by establishing His “sanctuary” and “tabernacle” in their midst forever.
Are OT prophecies fulfilled in the Church? IN CHRIST OR IN THE LAND?
Dispensationalism makes the bizarre claim that OT prophecies made to Israel cannot be fulfilled “in any sense” to the Church. Keith Mathison provides a helpful list of quotes from some of Dispensationalism’s leading theologians on this point:
Lewis Sperry Chafer. “That the Christian now inherits the distinctive Jewish promises is not taught in Scripture.”
J. Dwight Pentecost. “…it would be impossible for the church to fulfill God’s promises made to Israel.”
Charles C. Ryrie. “The church is not fulfilling in any sense the promises to Israel.”[13] They believe that OT prophecies concerning the restoration of Israel in such passages as Isaiah 11, 35, 43, 44, 61; Ezekiel 11, 28, 34, 37; Jeremiah 16, 18, were made exclusively to Israel and therefore cannot be fulfilled in and through the Church “in any sense.” Dispensational Zionist John Hagee believes these passages motivate the Church to get Jews around the world to re-inhabit Israel today in order to hasten the “rapture” of the Church and usher in the last days World War III event.[14] However, the context of these passages and how they are understood by the NT authors, make it clear that these “gathering in the land” promises were fulfilled 70 years after the Babylonian captivity under the restoration ministries of Ezra and Nehemiah (in type or partial fulfillment form), which pointed to them being ultimately fulfilled in Christ and through the Church (2 Corinthians 1:20).
Dispensationalism argues that Israel under the Abrahamic covenant has not yet inherited all of the land promised by God, in spite of God clearly saying otherwise (Genesis 15:18; 1 Kings 4:20-21; Joshua 11:23; 21:41-45; Nehemiah 9:21-25). The objection from Dispensationalists is that Israel has not inherited the land “forever.” Sometimes in Scripture “forever” means forever and other times it simply means a long time. In the passages listed above, God’s promises made to Israel concerning the land had not failed to come to pass. Indeed in type and shadow form, through the 40 year reigns of David and in particularly Solomon, Israel received peace in all the land that God had promised to give Israel. All the blessings under the Old Covenant were realized “in the land.” However, in the NT we discover that the anti-type and “true” fulfillments of the Abrahamic promise is found in the gradual 40 year “this generation” pre-parousia reign of Jesus and the reception of a “heavenly country” that was “about to come” in the first century (Hebrews 11:13-16; 13:14YLT). The writer to Hebrews (under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) applies the New Covenant Promised Land, City, Tabernacle/Temple, Mount Zion, Sabbath/Rest/Inheritance and Kingdom promises made to Old Covenant Israel to the Church with the reception of these promises to be fulfilled at Christ’s “in a very little while” coming in which He would “not tarry” (Heb. 1-10:37). The NT emphasis is not “in the land” but rather in a person – “in Christ” through faith. For “in Christ” and through the Church, are all the OT promises of God realized and fulfilled (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:20).
The New Covenant promises
Since the gathering back into the land and New Covenant prophecies of Jeremiah 30-31parallel much of the same historical re-gathering and New Covenant material found in Ezekiel 37, we should probably examine the blatantly unbiblical comments of dispensationalists who claim that the New Covenant promises made to Israel are not being fulfilled in the Church. Dwight Pentecost writes,
“the Church cannot be presently fulfilling the New Covenant.” John Walvoord agrees, saying that “the New Covenant is with Israel and awaits the second coming of Christ for its fulfillment.” (Mathison, Ibid. 28)
Pentecost concedes that if the Church has been redeemed with the blood of Christ under the New Covenant, then the other covenants must also be applied to the Church and that would mean that the Bible does not teach an earthly millennium,
“The whole covenant takes on importance, in addition, for amillennialism attempts to show that the church is fulfilling Israel’s covenants because the church today is redeemed by the blood. If the church fulfills this covenant, she may also fulfill the other covenants made with Israel and there is no need for an earthly millennium.”[15] Charles Ryrie claims that the Bible condemns Dispensatinalism if the New Covenant is being fulfilled by the Church,
“If the church is fulfilling Israel’s promises as contained in the new covenant or anywhere in the Scriptures, then [dispensational] premillennialism is condemned.”[16] These are obviously startling statements to say the very least. How can any Christian claim that he or she has not been redeemed by the blood of Christ’s blood under the New Covenant when the Scriptures are so clear that we are? The answer is that these men have become so engrossed in defending their eschatological system, that this has forced them into rejecting foundational elements to the gospel and indeed the Christian faith.
One King
Jesus began fulfilling the Davidic Covenant or “One King” prophecies of (Ezek. 37:22; Jer. 30:9) at His ascension (Heb. 1-2). Every element that is required for a King to reign is given to Christ through the Church. He was seated on a throne and rules through a City and Nation—that is the Church (1 Pet. 2:9; Heb. 12; Gals. 4). The sending of the Messiah and the fulfillment of the Davidic and New Covenant is the focus of attention in (37:24ff.).
One Shepherd with one flock
Jesus would be Israel’s “one shepherd” who’s sheep would walk in His judgments and observe His teachings and do them (Ezk. 37:24). This prophecy is clearly fulfilled in the words of Jesus in John 10 and 17. Obviously OT promises made to Israel are being applied to the Church–the New Covenant fold of God! In the striking and sacrifice of the True Shepherd, the everlasting New Covenant (v. 25) seals the sheep’s/Churches salvation (Mark 14:27; Mt. 26:28; Heb. 8, 12:24, 13:20).
A New Covenant Temple, Peace and Sacrifices
The New Covenant of peace and temple motif began with Christ sending the Holy Spirit within His people. It would be competed and matured when He returned in AD 70 for them. At this time God placed His glory and everlasting peace “within” the Church who is the ultimate New Covenant fulfillment of the Temple promises (Hag. 2:9/Jn. 14). Christ and the Church are the fulfillment of Israel’s New Covenant Tabernacle/Sanctuary/Temple promises with Christ being the chief corner stone (Isaiah 28:16; Psalm 118:22-23/“the builders rejected”/Acts 4 “YOU rejected”/Mt. 21:33-45/1Pet. 2:4 -10; Ezk. 37:27/2 Cor. 6:16; Ephs. 2:19-20; Amos 9:11-12/Acts 15:7-19). God’s New Covenant/Temple/Kingdom plans for Israel were not postponed because of Jesus’ rejection and sacrifice (per Dispensationalism), but rather this rejection of the nation and belief of the remnant and the Gentiles established and began fulfilling God’s Kingdom promises made to Israel with Christ’s return in AD 70 bringing them to full maturity. While here in Ezekiel 37 and on the temple motif alone, we see Paul quoting Ezekiel 37:27 in 2 Corinthians 6:16 and applying this prophecy to the Church! But Dispensationalists seem oblivious to the hermeneutics of Paul and remain adamant that this is somehow a prophetic description of a “literal” rebuilt temple in the millennial age,
“These promises anticipate the detailed plans for God’s new sanctuary (chaps. 40-43). This literal structure will serve as a visual object lesson to Israel and the nations of God’s presence in the midst of His people.” (Walvoord & Zuck, Ibid., 1299).
BUT Paul claims that the Church is the fulfillment of these temple/millennial promises and says nothing about a literal “rebuilt” temple in order to fulfill Israel’s millennial promises thousands of years off in the future!
One of the most disturbing elements within Dispensationalism’s “literal hermeneutic,” is that within this literal rebuilt temple, animal sacrifices will be re-instituted. Some Dispensationalists such as Scofield gave the farm away by claiming that it is possible that the sacrifices in Ezekiel’s temple prophecy are not to be interpreted literally,
“The references to sacrifices is not to be taken literally, in view of the putting away of such offerings, but is rather to be regarded as a presentation of the worship of redeemed Israel, in her own land and in the millennial temple, using the terms with which the Jews were familiar in Ezekiel’s day”[17] But obviously if the sacrifices are not to be interpreted literally, then neither should the altar or the entire temple structure itself be so interpreted.
The vision of the Temple structure is completely symbolic as James Jordan points out,
“The things Ezekiel describes in these chapters could never have been built. The Temple, City, and Land are entirely visionary and symbolic. The Kingdom of God in the Restoration was going to be so powerful and glorious that it simply could not be pictured in any architectural model that could be built. Only a vision would do.”[18] Unfortunately, most Dispensationalists seek to defend that these are literal animal sacrifices taking place after Christ has returned to Jerusalem and sits on his literal throne,
“However no difficulty exists if one understands the proper function of these sacrifices. First, animal sacrifices never took away human sin; only the sacrifice of Christ can do that (Heb. 10:1-4, 10). In Old Testament times Israelites were saved by grace through faith, and the sacrifices helped restore a believer’s fellowship with God. Second, even after the church began, Jewish believers did not hesitate to take part in the temple worship (Acts 2:46; 3:1; 5:42) and even to offer sacrifices (Acts 21:26). They could do this because they viewed the sacrifices as memorials of Christ’s death.” (Walvoord & Zuck, Ibid., 1305).
First of all, the writer of this statement (Charles H. Dyer) fails to acknowledge that the writer to the Hebrews applies the sacrifice of Christ’s blood of the New Covenant to the Church thus “condemning” (Ryrie’s term) Dispensationalism altogether (Heb. 7-10, 12).
Secondly, I appreciate the admission by Mr. Dyer, that Jewish Christians were obeying the Old Covenant Mosaic Law, because this is what Jesus clearly taught they should do in Matthew 5:17-19 before He fulfilled it all. Here Jesus instructs that ALL the jots and tittles of the Mosaic Old Covenant Law are to be obeyed UNTIL: 1) heaven and earth passes away, which is equivalent to the time period of when 2) all the Law would be fulfilled. Dispensationalist Thomas Ice seems oblivious to what this text says and actually cites it to claim that the Mosaic Law was fulfilled in Christ’s first coming,
“The Mosaic Covenant…” “…was fulfilled through the ministry of Jesus Christ during His first advent (Matthew 5:17). (Ice, Charting the End Times, Ibid., 79).
But clearly the Old Covenant Law was not all fulfilled in Christ’s first coming, but was binding and should be obeyed until heaven and earth passes away or it is all fulfilled. But since the futurist interprets “heaven and earth” here as the planet having not yet vanished, this necessitates that the Church today should be obeying all of the Mosaic Law—including the animal sacrifices. However, the truth is that the Christian Jews did participate in temple worship and animal sacrifices during a particularly unique period (“this generation” roughly AD 30-70) in which the Old Covenant was still being fulfilled by Jesus and the New was reaching its full maturity. According to the writer to the Hebrews, the Old Covenant Law was still in the process of “aging” and would “soon vanish” at Christ’s “in a very little while” return in which the “about to” reception of the New Jerusalem/Creation would take place (Heb. 8:13-10:37-13:14YLT). This all took place “soon” when the Old Covenant Mosaic Temple was destroyed at Christ’s return in AD 70. Dispensationalists (and most futurists) concede that “soon” in (Hebrews 8:13) is a literal time statement that most likely applies to AD 70,
“…the author’s words suggest that he recalled the prophecy of Jesus that the temple in Jerusalem would be destroyed (Matt. 24:1-2). Probably this prophecy was fulfilled soon after Hebrews was written. If so, it was a dramatic confirmation of the writer’s thesis about the Old Covenant.”[19] But unfortunately once in Matthew 24 and Luke 21, the abomination and desolation of this same first century temple Jesus and the disciples are looking at and discussing, becomes an alleged rebuilt one thousands of years removed from them. How you might ask? Apparently all it takes is a wave from the eisegetical wand of Dispensational theology. And although the literally “soon” vanishing of the Old Covenant in (Hebrews 8:13) applies to the temple being destroyed in AD 70, Christ’s coming in a “very little while” in which He would “not delay” in (Hebrews 10:37) is spiritualized away by these “literalists” and finds no contextual harmony with their literal interpretation of “soon” in (Hebrews 8:13)!
Once the Mosaic Law was all fulfilled and it “soon vanished” at Christ’s imminent return in AD 70, there is no Scriptural support for the statement that “The Old Covenant Is Not Dead.” (Hagee, In Defense, Ibid., 158). God indeed has kept His vows and has not altered His covenant promises, sending Jesus in a literally “some standing here,” “this generation,” “soon,” “in a very little while” time period in order to fulfill all of Israel’s promises by AD 70. For Dispensationalism to claim otherwise and return to the prophecies contained in the prophets and Old Covenant Law for support of another re-built temple with animal sacrifices, is a complete reversal of what the book of Hebrews teaches. The writer instructs us that redemption moves from physical Old Covenant types and shadows to their spiritual New Covenant substances and “true” fulfillments in Christ and through the Church. The writer says nothing about all of the Old Covenant Law being fulfilled in Christ’s earthly ministry, and neither does he teach that it is “not dead” and will somehow come back to life again thousands of years off in the future with another re-built temple for Israel! These concepts are literally READ INTO THE PAGES OF THE NT with millions of evangelical Christians asleep and refusing to be Bereans and hold these men accountable!
Dispensationalists claim that other OT passages such as Isaiah 66:20-23 teach the literal temple and sacrifice motif to take place in our future. And yet Paul references this passage in Romans 15:16 to demonstrate that he was a priest (in the temple predicted by Isaiah) offering up as a sacrifice the Gentiles (not literal animals). The prophecies in Isaiah that Dispensationalists reference as “proof texts” concerning the Jews and Gentiles coming to the “last days” Holy Mountain/Mount Zion/Temple, Jesus and the NT authors identify as being spiritual and fulfilled in the Church (John 4; Hebrews 12; Ephesians 2; 1 Peter 2).
The unity of Ezekiel’s visions of the heavenly Temple
Most Dispensationalists have not been exposed to other historical views of the Church other than their “literal” interpretations coming from their local church or TV “prophecy experts.” Therefore I would like to expose the reader to some excellent exegetical comments of the Ezekiel Temple from a few Reformed theologians and then I will put these concepts together and place them in their proper NT preterist paradigm.
Following the lead of Block, G.K. Beale points out the unity of the visions in Ezekiel and that this heavenly/spiritual Temple is not a literal structure but is rather intimately connected with God’s presence among His people during the exile period,
“…chapter 40 begins where chapter 11 left off describing God’s heavenly presence that had departed from the physical temple and had taken up invisible residence with the remnant of Israel in exile (11:16, 23-25). It is, therefore, quite viable that Ezekiel’s final vision of the temple describes the heavenly sanctuary to which the remnant on earth are related (Tuell 1996). The formal and thematic parallels between chapters 1, 8 – 11 and 40 – 48 ‘require that the same hermeneutical principles [of symbolism] employed in the interpretation of the previous prophecies apply here, and that one interpret this block [chs. 40 – 48] in the light of the previous visions of God’ (Block 1998: 496-497).” [20] But how would Jews worship in the midst of exile without a temple? The answer as Beale points out lies within God’s promise to be their Temple and in analyzing the Qumran community who considered themselves as being the last days Temple Ezekiel prophesied. The Jew during a time in which the current temple was defiled with an apostate priesthood or was destroyed by Gentile invaders taught that the renewal of the covenant and atonement could come through ones own repentance, obedience and commitment to the Word of God,
“This spiritualization of the altar in the temple was based on analogy with the temple altar in Ezekiel 41:22. To engage continually in the study of the Law was equivalent to building the temple prophesied in Ezekiel 40 – 47 (Midrash Rabbah Leviticus 7:3). Repentance could be ‘accounted unto a person as if he had … built the Temple and the altar, and offered theeron all the sacrifices’ (Midrash Rabbah Leviticus 7:2). Part of the precedent for Qumran and John conceptualizing Ezekiel’s temple in a non-structural manner and applying it to a remnant of Israel or to the church may have been given by the prophet Ezekiel himself!” (Beale, Ibid., 318).
Another Reformed view taken from James Jordan sees the descent of the heavenly temple in Ezekiel 40 – 48 being more applicable during the reformation and rebuilt temple under Ezra. He emphasizes its fulfillment during the post exilic era before then applying it to the New Covenant Temple or age of the Church under Messiah,
“This time Ezekiel was given a vision and blueprint for the post-exilic Temple, but it was a temple so vast and huge that it could never be built. Ezekiel’s visionary Temple symbolized both the nature and the glory of the restoration establishment, but the Temple actually built by Ezra was a small affair. Ezra’s Temple symbolized the nature, but not the glory, of the new restoration covenant.” (Jordan, Ibid., 242).
He also points out that there is a de-creation that takes place upon the Land of Israel and the Temple during this period (cf. Jer. 4:23-28, see also Isa. 24-25) and that even the language of a new heavens and earth should be applied to the covenant’s renewal under Ezra and Nehemiah before it is applied to the New Creation’s arrival at Christ’s return,
“The new covenant and the new heavens and earth ultimately point to the coming of Christ, but their first fulfillment is to be found in the restoration of Israel from exile. That restoration was a downpayment, a pledge of God’s faithfulness. After all, each new covenant, being a resurrection in more glorious form of the previous one, pointed to the New Covenant.
It is often overlooked that the restoration establishment was indeed a new covenant, and an advance in glory beyond the Davidic establishment. Whether we call the post-exilic establishment a new covenant or simply a “covenant renewal,” the fact is that there were very great changes involved in the new cosmos, changes equivalent to the changes involved in the previous new covenants.” (Jordan, Ibid., 243-244).
The River
Of the river in Ezekiel 47 Jordan writes,
“This is not a picture first and foremost of the New Testament, but of the spiritual realities present in the Restoration. This is indicated by the context of the prophecy, but there are also clear indications in the text, especially the fact that the river in Chapter 47 only flows in one direction, not four, and only to the edge of the Holy Land, not into the wider world.” (Jordan, Ibid., 246).
Jesus in John 4 and particularly in John 7:37-38 Jesus promises that the coming of the Holy Spirit would be like water welling up within the believer’s heart. Jesus claims that this is in fulfillment of the “Scriptures.” Of what Scriptures is Jesus alluding to? Since the Apostle Paul has already identified the promise of the Ezekiel Temple with the believer and the Church, it only follows that this is so because his Master had taught His disciples the same. John Gill and John Lightfoot are on the right track when Gill writes,
“And here may be an allusion to the waters issuing out of Ezekiel’s temple, #Eze 47:1 Re 22:1 Zec 14:8. Dr. Lightfoot and others tell us it was a custom of the Jews, which they received by tradition, the last day of the feast of tabernacles to have a solemnity, which they called Libatio aquae—The pouring out of water. They fetched a golden vessel of water from the pool of Siloam, brought it into the temple with sound of trumpet and other ceremonies, and, upon the ascent to the altar, poured it out before the Lord with all possible expressions of joy. Some of their writers make the water to signify the law, and refer to #Isa 12:3; #Isa 55:1. Others, the Holy Spirit. And it is thought that our Saviour might here allude to this custom. Believers shall have the comfort, not of a vessel of water fetched from a pool, but of a river flowing from themselves. The joy of the law, and the pouring out of the water, which signified this, are not to be compared with the joy of the gospel in the wells of salvation.”[21] Again, it is difficult to understand how Dispensationalists can claim that that OT promises made to Israel cannot be fulfilled in and through the Church when Jesus and the NT writers do just that very thing in practically every page of the NT!
In the book of Revelation, Christ’s imminent coming serves to reward and clothe the Church with the New Creation. It is through the power of Christ and the Church that the gospel of the Eternal Life is preached to sinners and this is symbolically described as a river flowing and welcoming the Gentile nations to come through its gates and receiving healing in drinking from its living waters (Rev. 21-22:17).
The measuring of the Temple
A lot of Dispensationalists claim that the Ezekiel Temple must be physical since there is so much detail given to its measurements. But in the OT measuring generally was a symbolic way of decreeing protection for the covenant people[22] and there are obvious elements of symbolism and numerology as well.
In Revelation 11 we see this concept of measuring the Temple once again, but this time it is connected with the prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. It is more than difficult to dismiss the parallel subject matter in regard to the prophecy of the fall of Jerusalem between Luke 21:24 and Revelation 11:2. Both passages discuss the “trampling” of “Jerusalem” or the “holy city” by the “Gentiles.” In Revelation 11:1-2 the inner sanctuary, the worshippers and the altar are measured. This represents the New Covenant believers. The “outer court” is not to be measured because it’s so called worshippers have become apostate and will not be given God’s protection and given over to the Romans to be trampled and judged. The “outer court” represents the physical structure of the Old Covenant system itself[23] – the destruction of the earthly temple and city and the worshippers who have looked to it for their salvation rather than to Christ and His followers.
Putting the Temple promises of Ezekiel 37, 40 – 48 all together
I would agree with Keith Mathison when he concludes that no matter which view above is the correct one, the heavenly Temple described in Ezekiel 40 – 48 is a non-literal structure,
“If the unique introductory fourmula connects all three visions, then the question is whether the temple vision in chapters 40-48 “refers to the purely heavenly temple dimension that descends in the midst of the faithful saints on earth (as in chapters 1 and 11), or the heavenly dimension in the midst of another (new) earthly temple in the structural form, as in chapters 8-9.” In either case, the emphasis is upon the heavenly dimensions of the temple dwelling in the midst of God’s people. Beale concludes that the vision of Ezekiel 40-48 is “a figurative vision of a real heavenly temple that would descend and be established on earth in a non-structural form in the latter days.”[24] Ezekiel prophesied of a literal “at hand” or “near” Day of the Lord (Ezekiel 7 & 12) upon Judah for her apostasy. Her temple and city were about to be imminently destroyed by the Babylonians and was depicted as a symbolic and metamorphic de-creation event. In Matthew 24, Jesus is predicting a “this generation” imminent return of Himself upon the clouds to bring an end to the Old Covenant system and age once and for all using the familiar metamorphic and symbolic language of the prophets.
Although the heavens and earth of Israel’s Temple and City would lay desolate through God sending the Babylonians, God assured His faithful remnant that He would function as their sanctuary during their exile and absence of a literal temple. This transition period of a spiritual temple laid the foundation for the NT teaching that the Christ and His disciples was the True New Covenant last days Temple predicted by the prophets.
The other typological picture comes in the form of the restoration period or covenant renewal during the ministries of Ezra and Nehemiah. The “gathering” and resurrection of the Jews and their Gentile proselyte converts whom came from among the Gentile nations of slavery and exile (death) back into the Land in faith and repentance (resurrection) to rebuild the temple and city, were typological of the restoration, “gathering” and glory of the New Covenant Temple/Creation that Christ would perform in and through the Church. During the transition period, Christian Jews continued Old Covenant worship in the Temple until Jesus as their High Priest appeared a second time and thus fulfilled all of the promises of that covenant system (Mt. 5:17-19; Heb. 9:6-10, 26-28). During this period the out pouring of the Holy Spirit, obedience to Jesus’ teachings and the spread of the gospel throughout the Roman Empire was the process by which Israel’s “last days” New Covenant Temple was being built up. This was the “already” aspect of Biblical eschatology and the descent of the heavenly last days Temple. The “not yet” to Biblical eschatology in the form of the completion and maturity of the last days Temple is undisputedly tied to Christ’s imminent parousia in AD 70 (Rev. 21-22:6-7, 10-12, 20).
The Jew understood his covenant with Jehovah in the Land and Temple to be a “heaven and earth” filled with the living waters and light of Torah. When Gentile converts came from among the death and darkness of their nations to Jerusalem in faith and repentance, they partook of the cleansing waters of God’s Word and were considered a “new creation.” This is what we see taking place in Revelation 21-22:17.
Multiplying seed promises
The Abrahamic and Davidic covenants of multiplying seed is fulfilled in Christ and those placing their faith in Him (either Jew or Gentile) and thus become the fulfillment of these New Covenant promises (Gen. 9, 12-13, 15, 17,22:17-18àGal. 3:16, 29; Isaiah 53:10, Isaiah 65-66; 2 Sam. 7:12; Psalm 18:50; 89:29). The fulfillment of these Abrahamic “faith,” “seed” and “circumcision” promises that constitute the New Covenant “Jew” had not been postponed thousands of years (per Dispensationalism), but were being fulfilled in Paul’s day through the Church (Rms. 2:28-29; 4).
Jeremiah 31:31-34
The NT is very clear that the New Covenant promises made to Israel through Jeremiah apply and are fulfilled in the Church (Luke 22:20; Heb. 7-12 especially 8:6-13; 2 Cor. 3:6).
Ezekiel 38-39
There is nothing in these two chapters that even remotely suggests that Israel is being “re-gathered” in “unbelief” in 1948 as the fulfillment of this prophecy. It is said that God’s judgment of the wicked will be a witness to the nations of Himself. He also states that He will make Himself holy in the ones He calls back into the land 39:27-29 and this as well is a witness to the nations. Again repentance, faith, cleansing, and restoration in the hearts of Israel are necessary requirements to be gathered from among the nations back into the land. We can understand from the text how FIRST the wicked being judged are a witness to the nations of God’s holy character, but how was 1948’s alleged re-gathering in unbelief a witness of God’s holiness and faithful covenant dealings with Israel? The answer is that it isn’t and simply does not meet the covenantal requirements. And if 1948 is a fulfillment of Israel’s Old Covenant Mosaic Law promises, are Dispensationalists claiming that currently Israel is under the Old Covenant while we are currently living in the Church age?
John Hagee writes,
“We are on a countdown to crisis. The coming nuclear showdown with Iran is a certainty. The war of Ezekiel 38-39 could begin before this book gets published (MJS- don’t worry it won’t and it will get “revised” once again!). Israel and America must confront Iran’s nuclear ability and willingness to destroy Israel with nuclear weapons.” (Hagee, Ibid., 53).
“No prophetic scripture is more crystal clear than Ezekiel’s vivid and specific description of the coming massive war in the Middle East that will sweep the world toward Armageddon. Ezekiel’s war as described in chapters 38 and 39 will consist of an Arab coalition of nations led by Russia for the purpose of exterminating the Jews of Israel and controlling the city of Jerusalem.”(Ibid.).
Of the battle of Armageddon as described in Revelation 16, Wal-Mart sensation Tim LaHaye writes of China’s alleged involvement,
“…China is already moving in the political direction that will make it possible for her to do what Revelation indicates she will during the Tribulation: march over the Euphrates River to participate in the Battle of Armageddon. Such an action would have been considered impossible just sixty years ago. Today it is not only feasible, but with her Communist-inspired obsession to take over all of Asia and perhaps even the entire world, it may be feasible. Just another suggestion that “the time is near.”[25] Revelation 16:16 is simply a historic reference and symbol of war that is directed to a place – the mount of Megiddo or the city of Megiddo where famous battles of Israel had been fought (Judges 5:19; 2 Kings 23:29) and is thus used as we might use the term of someone “Meeting your Waterloo.” Gary DeMar captures the intent of the text well when he writes,
“Israel remembered Megiddo as a place where God vented His divine wrath against rebellion, whether exhibited by Israel or a foreign power. God brought the nations of the world against first-century Jerusalem as he had promised (Matthew 22:7; 24:34). Rome, as an “empire of nations” (Syria, Asia Minor, Palestine, Gaul, Egypt, Britain, and others) representing all the nations of the world (see Luke 2:1),came up against Jerusalem and destroyed her.” “There were those in Israel who actually attempted to fight against this world empire and, met their “Waterloo.” “It no more takes place in Megiddo than Jerusalem is Sodom, Egypt, and Babylon”[26] (MJS – These cities in Revelation describe apostate old-covenant Jerusalem 11:8; 18:24/Matthew 23:31-36).
As John writes towards the end of Jesus’ and his “this generation,” the prophetic last days battle, was to be fulfilled “shortly” not 2,000+ years away.
Like the other eisegetical embarrassing elements to Dispensational Zionism, is the belief that Russia will invade Israel because Ezekiel 38:2 and 39:1 use the Hebrew words rosh (which sounds like Russia) and Meshech (which sounds like Moscow). The other reasons are that Russia has some ancient cities residing in its domain that were ancient cities recorded in Ezekiel. But none of these other cities “sound like” their modern counterparts like Rosh (Russia) and Mesech (Moscow) allegedly do. Obviously this sound alike word game of “hermeneutics” is a “make up the interpretive rules as you go” game that is being plaid fast and loose with God’s Word. Again DeMar writes,
“The most damaging piece of evidence to the theory that Ezekiel 38 and 39 refer to modern Russia’s invasion of Israel during the Great Tribulation is that there is no mention of Gog and Magog or Meshech and Tubal in Revelation 4-19, yet this passage is where dispensationalists tell us the Great Tribulation is described. Revelation 20:8 describes the battle of Gog and Magog as coming after the thousand years. Moreover, its characteristics are quite different from the Ezekiel battle. This means, like “Jezebel” (Revelation 2:20), “Sodom and Egypt” (11:8), and “Babylon” (14:8), the Battle of Gog and Magog is characteristic of an Old Testament event, but it is not the same event! One is past (Ezekiel 38-39); the other is future – after the “thousand years” (Revelation 20:8).” (DeMar, Ibid., 366).
Another problem for Dispensationalists revolves around the question – was the gathering of Israel in 1948 a “super sign” that we are in the “later days” or “last days” of (38:16), or are the “last days” strictly an OT prophecy for Israel separated from the Church? Hard line Dispensationalists claim that we are not in the last days because the OT never predicted the church and the “last days” prophecies only address Israel after the “rapture” of the Church takes place. But others such as Charismatic Dispensationalists teach that the gifts of Acts 2 are continuing in our day (“the last days”), and that 1948 was the “super sign” that God’s time clock for Israel has been activated. In other words it is a sign that the Church is in the last days expecting the imminent “rapture.” But if the distinctions between the Church age and the last days to Israel’s age overlap, this collapses the Dispensational system.
These passages in Ezekiel (cf. also chapters 6 and 12) are referring to the scattering of Israel among the nations in the Babylonian captivity and are not addressing a scattering which took place in AD 70. When does Scripture teach that God would “gather” Israel back into her land from among the nations? Jeremiah tells us that it would be after 70 years were completed (Jer. 29). And this typological scattering and re-gathering under the hands of Cyrus, Ezra and Nehemiah pictured the true fulfillment of the New Covenant promises in Ezekiel 37 and Jeremiah 31under Jesus. This historical slavery and deliverance only typified the slavery of sin of which Jesus through the New Covenant gathering of the Gospel and through His parousia would deliver His people from.
Isaiah 11:1-12
Dispensationalists understand this section of Isaiah 11to be teaching a literal 1,000 year millennial period and Ice sites it as a proof text for a gathering of Israel in unbelief in 1948. This allegedly results to Israel’s millennial period in our imminent future. But again, the text only supports a gathering of the remnant of Israel and the Gentiles into the Kingdom in belief and not unbelief (vv. 11-12)!
Like we saw in 2 Corinthians 6:16/Ezekiel 37:27, Paul once again dismisses the Dispensational theory that Isaiah 11 is dealing with a future millennial period when he quotes Isaiah 11 in Romans 15:8-12. Here Paul makes it crystal clear that God was in the process of fulfilling His covenant promises to Israel because this fulfillment was resulting in the salvation of the Gentiles. Clearly if the “gathering” of Israel is the “in that day” millennial period which results in the salvation of the Gentiles, then Paul is emphatically teaching that this prophecy was being fulfilled and that the Church was in the millennial period. This portion of Isaiah deals with the second exodus theme which I will deal with in more detail towards the end of this article.
Isaiah 35:10
John Hagee appears to believe that Isaiah 35, 43, and 44 are dealing with literal “agricultural accomplishments” fulfilled in 1948 and today,
“If Israel as a nation had not been reborn, if the Jews had not returned to the land, if the cities of Israel had not been rebuilt, if the Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) had not been occupied, if the trees that the Turks cut down had not been replanted, if the agricultural accomplishments of Israel had not been miraculous, there would be a valid reason for every person to doubt that the Word of God is true. But listen to the prophets of God declare his intention for the Jews of the world to reinhabit Israel.” (Hagee, In Defense of ISRAEL, Ibid., 150).
It is indeed true that under the blessings and curses of the Old Covenant Mosaic Law that God would withhold rain (harden the land) or give rain (cause fruitful produce) for Israel in order to picture the state of their hearts. The desert beginning to bloom and blossom is really dealing with the hearts of God’s people turning to Him in faith and repentance under Ezra and Nehemiah, but is ultimately fulfilled in the out pouring of the Holy Spirit upon Jew and Gentile (the Church) in the NT.
Verse 3ff. is quoted in Hebrews 12:12. Within the immediate context, this passage is designed to comfort the fearful among Israel of the invading Gentile Lords. Eventually God would come and deliver them and bring them back into their land through Cyrus, Nehemiah, and Ezra – all types of Christ. Therefore, in type form, this historical coming of the Lord in judgment and salvation would picture the imminent return of Jesus in AD 66-70 – Hebrews 10:37. In Hebrews 12:11-13, the writer interprets the agriculture, the way/path, and healing of Isaiah 35 as a “harvest of righteousness” and “peace” to be realized in the salvation of Jesus. Unfortunately for Hagee and Dispensational theology in general, the writer to the Hebrews in chapter 12 does not teach that Israel’s kingdom promises of salvation and a New Covenant were “postponed” until 1948 (and counting into the “literal” 1,000 years millennial period), but rather that they were being fulfilled and received in the first century by the Church!
Jesus performed literal miracles of deliverance in the Gospels for the “unclean” from their blindness, deafness, not being able to speak, leprosy and being lame (vv. 5-6), because these infirmities pictured the bondage of sin in the heart of man. Jesus would bring the ultimate healing (the forgiveness of sins) through the cross, outpouring of the Holy Spirit and at His parousia in AD 70.
Isaiah’s promises to Israel of a “highway of holiness” and “Way” that the “redeemed” travel on (vv. 8-10), have not been postponed for thousands of years, but are being fulfilled today in the Church age through faith in Christ (cf. John 14:6).
Isaiah 43:5-6
Clearly God did bring His scattered children back into the land from the south, north, east and west from the Assyrian and Babylonian (cf. v.14) captivities through the deliverance of Cyrus and the restoration period of Ezra and Nehemiah’s day. As in Isaiah 11 the “second” or “new” exodus under Messiah is the contextual setting here and was ultimately fulfilled in Christ’s blood and parousia.
God gathered all kinds of His children from the east, west, north, and south into His kingdom through the preaching of the Gospel and at His return in AD 70 (Isaiah 27:13/Mt. 24:14-30-31; Luke 21:22-32). These children included not just the remnant of Israel, but the Gentiles and they were gathered into the kingdom when the Old Covenant Kingdom was judged and taken from the Jews and given to the Church in AD 70 (Mt. 21:33-43; Luke 13:28-30).
Again, Christ and His New Covenant salvation is the “way” and “new thing” (cf. Jeremiah 31:21-22, 31) in the desert which causes men’s hearts to blossom as the very garden of God (43:19-21).
Isaiah 44:24, 26
Here it becomes abundantly clear that the “miraculous” “agricultural accomplishments” that Hagee literalizes, the prophet Isaiah identifies as the water and outpouring of the Holy Spirit into the hearts of His people. The water is the Holy Spirit and the grass, meadow and poplar trees are God’s people (vv. 1-4).
The time of deliverance here is clearly typified during the time of Cyrus who functioned as God’s shepherd and would, “…accomplish all that I please; he will say of Jerusalem, Let it be rebuilt, and of the temple, Let its foundations be laid.” (v. 28).
Perhaps there is some application for false prophets such as Hal Lindsey, Chuck Smith, Jon Courson and John Hagee in verse 25. God clearly has made “foolish” their “Holy Spirit led” false predictions of the 1948 “this generation” scenario–“overthrowing” them, and making them “nonsense” and “fools” in His sight!
Isaiah 61:4
The “miraculous” “agricultural accomplishments” or the “planting of the Lord,” according to Isaiah has to do with His people being “oaks” and displaying the sprouting of His righteousness and praise before the nations (vv. 3, 11).
Jesus applies the fulfillment of Isaiah 61:1-2’s “the year of the Lord’s favor” to His personal ministry in Luke 4:16-19. There is nothing in the prophecies of Isaiah or anywhere in the Gospels that even remotely suggests that Jesus’ ministry and Kingdom promises made to Israel got postponed for some 2,000 years and counting.
Amos 9:11-15 is a parallel prophecy to Isaiah 61:4 and the rebuilding and restoration here is clearly identified as the salvation of the remnant of Jews and the Gentiles in Acts 15:16-17. This rebuilding of the ancient ruins was fulfilled in type form during Nehemiah’s ministry and fulfilled in anti-type form through the building up of Christ and His master builders the Apostles and the Church.
Zephaniah 2:1-2
This is but yet another prophetic passage that has to do with the Babylonian captivity which was “near” and would hasten “quickly” during the time the prophecy was written (Zeph. 1:7, 14). The context is dealing with a casting out of Judah from the land in judgment because of sin and not a “re-gathering” back into the land in unbelief in 1948! God was calling Judah to gather together in repentance or face their imminent judgment. They refused this exhortation (3:6-8).
Let’s now move on to consider another interpretive error of “this generation” make in hopes to avoid the obvious and clear interpretation.
[1] Hal Lindsey, The 1980’s: Countdown to Armageddon, back-cover, p.144, New York: Bantam, 1980
[2] Chuck Smith, End Times, The Word for Today, 1978, 35.
[3] Francis X. Gumerlock, the Day and the Hour Christianity’s Perennial Fascination with Predicting the End of the World, (Atlanta, GA: American Vision, 2000), 290.
[4] Jon Courson, Jon Courson’s APPLICATION COMMENTARY NEW TESTAMENT CD-ROM, Nelson pub.
[5] G.K. Beale, The Temple and the Church’s Mission A biblical theology of the dwelling place of God, (Downers Grove, Illinois: INTERVARISTY PRESS, 2004), 264. See also references to Genesis and trees as Nations and people in Ezekiel 31; 47; Revelation 22).
[6] James B. Jordan, THE HANDWRITING ON THE WALL, A Commentary on the Book of Daniel (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision, 2007), 619-628. And Leithart sees the harvest at the end of “this age” in Matthew 13 as taking place by A.D. 70, Peter J. Leithart, THE PROMISE OF HIS APPEARING AN EXPOSITION OF SECOND PETER, (Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 2004), 94-95.
[7] Greg Laurie, ARE THESE THE LAST DAYS? HOW TO LIVE EXPECTANTLY IN A WORLD OF UNCERTAINTY, (Ventura, CA: Regal Books From Gospel Light, 2005), 20.
[8] John Hagee, IN DEFENSE OF ISRAEL THE BIBLE’S MANDATE FOR SUPPORTING THE JEWISH STATE, (Lake Mary, FL: FrontLine, 2007,) 4-5. It is true that Christians are called to continue in doctrine and in the teachings of Jesus and Apostles, but since Hagee’s teaching is not Biblical, his exhortations are purely manipulative.
[9] Tim LaHaye and Thomas Ice, CHARTING THE END TIMES A visual Guide to Understanding Bible Prophecy, (Eugene, Oregon, 2001), 86, (emphasis added).
[10] John Hagee, (REVISED AND UPDATED) JERUSALEM COUNTDOWN A PRELUDE TO WAR, (Lake Mary, FL: Frontline pub, 2007), 129.
[11] Greg Laurie, Ibid.
[12] John F. Walvoord, Roy B. Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Faculty OLD TESTAMENT (Colorado Springs, Colorado: Victor Cook Communications Ministries, 2004), 1298.
[13] Keith A. Mathison, DISPENSATIONALISM Rightly Dividing the People of God?, (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1995), 19 (bold emphasis added).
[14] Hagee, Jerusalem Countdown, Ibid., 129-135. John Hagee, IN DEFENSE OF ISRAEL THE BIBLE’S MANDATE FOR SUPPORTING THE JEWISH STATE, (Lake Mary, FL: Front Line Pub., 2007), 149-154.
[15] Dwight Pentecost, THINGS TO COME A Study in Biblical Eschatology, (Findlay, OH: Dunham Publishing Company, 1958)
[16] Curtis I. Crenshaw and Grover E. Gunn, III, DISPENSATIONALISM TODAY, YESTERDAY, AND TOMORROW, (Memphis, TN: Footstool Publications, 1986), 175.
[17] C.I. Scofield, The New Scofield Reference Bible, (New York: Oxford, 1967), 888.
[18] James B. Jordan, THROUGH NEW EYES Developing a Biblical View of the World, (Brentwood, TN: Wolgemuth & Hyatt, Publishers, Inc., 1988), 246.
[19] John F. Walvoord, Roy B. Zuck, Zane C. Hodges, The Bible Knowledge Commentary An Exposition of the Scriptures NEW TESTAMENT by Dallas Seminary Faculty (Colorado Springs, CO: Victor COOK COMMUNICATIONS MINISTRIES, 2004), 800.
[20] G.K. Beale, The Temple and the Church’s Mission A biblical theology of the dwelling place of God, (Downers Grove: Illinois, 2004), 339.
[21] John Gill, John Gill’s Expositor, Online Bible CD.
[22] Beale, Ibid., 314.
[23] Kenneth L. Gentry (contributing author), FOUR VIEWS ON THE BOOK OF REVELATION, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998), 65-66.
[24] Keith A. Mathison, FROM AGE TO AGE THE UNFOLDING OF BIBLICAL ESCHATOLOGY, (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2009), 257.
[25] Tim LaHaye, REVELATION UNVEILED, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan 1999), 256.
[26] Gary DeMar, Last Days Madness, (Atlanta GA: American Vision, 1999), 318.

Cross-Examining the Critics of Preterism

edwardhasssertt
Edward Hassertt

A Response To Kenneth Gentry

When addressing the scholars of the Reformed community, care must be taken to get our facts, logic, and scripture correct. Unfortunately, those scholars do not take the same careful approach in dealing with Preterist Theology or the people involved. These scholars play loose with the facts, use logical fallacies, special pleading, and personal attacks. What is even more disturbing is their pointed criticism of the “difference” in theology shown by preterists when even those organized to argue against it (e.g., the contributing authors in Mathison’s book) cannot agree on the interpretation or application of the key eschatological texts of Holy Scripture. Despite the overwhelming fact that they cannot agree on the most simple aspect of their own eschatology, these glass-house dwellers try to dispel their own disunity by casting stones at those trying to be biblically consistent with their theology and hermeneutic. If internal confusion and hasty attack were sound argumentative techniques, the responses to preterism would be daunting. As it is, however, they represent nothing more than a loud, shrill, persistent (but not ultimately significant nor convincing) critique of preterist theology.

As an introduction to the type of criticism being leveled against biblical preterism I will first deal specifically with the introduction to the Keith A. Mathison edited book, “When Shall These Things Be”, penned by R.C. Sproul, Jr. I will follow with a thorough cross-examination of the testimony offered in the chapter authored by Kenneth Gentry. In the end the evidence will show Continue reading “Cross-Examining the Critics of Preterism”

Can God Tell Time?

Don K Prestoon
Don K Preston
Almost two thousand years ago John the Baptizer said “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” Matthew 3:2. Jesus, Son of God, echoed those words “the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” Matthew 4:17. The Prince of Peace sent his disciples out to preach the same message, Luke 10. Jesus clearly said the kingdom, and other events as we shall see below, were at hand.
A common response to these Biblical statements of the imminence of the kingdom in the first century is this: “Well, yes, the Bible said the kingdom was coming soon, but remember, ‘One day is with the Lord as a thousand years and a thousand years is as a day.’ God doesn’t see time as man does; He is above time.”
Is there anything wrong with these statements? Well, if God cannot tell time there isn’t! But if God can read a calendar, and if God truly meant to communicate with man there is something drastically wrong! Essentially, what these statements say is that while God said the kingdom was “at hand,” God cannot tell time, therefore the “at hand” time statements mean nothing at all! Continue reading “Can God Tell Time?”