Revelation Chapter 20: Introduction and Outline


Revelation Chapter 20: Introduction and Outline

Adam Maarschalk: February 7, 2010

This post will serve as an introduction to Revelation 20, expressing some thoughts as we prepare to look more deeply into the period designated by John as “a thousand years,” popularly known as the Millennium. This post will also contain a mini outline. Here’s why:

Our Bible study group met last Wednesday (January 27, 2010), as we do on a weekly basis, and we completed our group study of Revelation 20 at that time. We generally take turns leading, so that each person only needs to lead the group study roughly every five weeks. This time, however, three of us each led a portion of the study. Dave presented on Revelation 20 from a postmillennial standpoint, Rod from a premillennial viewpoint, and myself from an amillennial viewpoint. All of us completely reject premillennialism, and find ourselves agreeing with some elements within amillennialism and postmillennialism. I personally, however, can’t help but believe that the truth of what John wrote in Revelation 20 goes beyond any of these three schools of thought.

Due to time constraints, we only presented a fraction of the material that we could have presented. Over time, we’ll be posting more than we prepared for our actual study time. On my part, at least, this will be a work in progress, and this post includes an outline of our posts on this topic. This same information can also be found on our Revelation page.

Here is the working outline for the posts on Revelation 20 (it may be expanded in the future). Following the outline are some preliminary thoughts on the topic of reigning with Christ for a thousand years:

Revelation Chapter 20 Outline

1. Revelation Chapter 20: Introduction and Outline (this post)
2. John Piper Hosts “An Evening of Eschatology” (Subject: “The Millennium”)
3. Revelation Chapter 20: Amillennial Viewpoint (Part 1: Verse-by-Verse Study)
4. Revelation Chapter 20: Amillennial Viewpoint (Part 2: Verse-by-Verse Study)
5. Revelation Chapter 20: Amillennial Viewpoint (Part 3: Two Articles)
6. Revelation Chapter 20: Amillennial Viewpoint (Part 4: Two More Articles)
7.
Revelation Chapter 20: Post-millennial Viewpoint
8.
Revelation Chapter 20: Pre-millennial Viewpoint
9. Revelation Chapter 20: Minority Viewpoints on the Millennium (Part 1)
10. Revelation Chapter 20: Minority Viewpoints on the Millennium (Part 2)
11. Revelation Chapter 20: Four Views on Gog and Magog
12. A Discussion of Two Ages: “This age and the age to come”

Preliminary Thoughts on Revelation 20

Anyone who has read through the previous studies which we have posted on the book of Revelation will have noticed that on the whole we favor what is known as the preterist interpretation. That is, we see a first-century fulfillment for the prophecies contained in the book of Revelation, John’s descriptions of God’s judgment about to be poured out upon unfaithful Israel and old covenant temple-based Judaism in 70 AD just as Jesus predicted (e.g. Luke 19:41-44, 23:28-31; Matthew 23:37-24:34). This is based not only on a wealth of internal evidence in Revelation, but also on John’s numerous statements announcing that the things he saw were soon to take place (e.g. Rev. 1:1, 3; 3:11; 22:7, 12, 20).

Now, I’ve also mentioned that, as a group, we seem to be leaning toward the amillennial interpretation, i.e. that the “1000 year reign of Christ” began in the first century and continues until today (whether this is taking place in heaven, on earth, or both, will be discussed in a couple of posts which are to follow). A combination of these two views—and it’s understood that many readers will not hold to this same combination—means that we (generally speaking) do not see the storyline of Revelation 20 as being parallel in time to the story-line of Revelation 1-19. In other words, Revelation 1-19 was completely fulfilled by 70 AD, though there is continued application for us today, but at least some portion(s) of Revelation 20 suggest an ongoing and even future fulfillment. (Check back with me in a couple of years – I might change by that time.)

Many amillennialists do see Revelation 20 as parallel in time to at least the events of Revelation 6-19, most notably those who are also Historicists. We do not – at this time. I offer up this explanation for the sake of clarity regarding what is to follow. In this regard, I would like to quote a few excerpts from a publication written by Kenneth Gentry titled “Recapitulation v Progress.” This is a primer for a full-length, verse-by-verse commentary on the book of Revelation which Gentry is currently working on. This particular publication is #13 among his Revelation Commentary Updates so far. The following selected excerpts are from pages 2-9 of that publication:

Revelation 20 is probably the best known and most hotly debated chapter in Revelation. This is the chapter (the only chapter in the Bible!) that mentions Christ’s ruling and reigning with His saints for 1000 years… An extremely important issue arises as we move from Revelation 19 into chapter 20. The question arises regarding the relationship between these two passages: Is it one of recapitulation (i.e., repetition of the same events) or sequence (two different episodes with one following as a result of the other)?

The prevailing scholarly (non-premillennial) consensus today holds that the relationship between these two chapters is one of recapitulation. The recapitulationist sees Rev 20:7–10 covering the same ground as and repeating 19:11–21. That is, they argue that the final eschatological battle at the second coming of Christ appears in both 19:11–21 and 20:7–10. This, of course, destroys the premillennial argument that sees the second coming (19:11–21) leading to Christ’s subsequently establishing his millennium (20:1–10). Consequently, premillennialists insist on sequence rather than recapitulation.

Oddly enough, my evangelical preterist view agrees with the premillennialist regarding the relationship between these two passages — though with quite different results. I hold that Christ’s coming from heaven to wage war in Revelation 19:11ff represents His judgment coming on Israel in AD 70. As such it reflects the theme of the book found in 1:7, where he comes against those tribes who pierced him (the Jews). Consequently, 20:1ff presents the consequence of Christ’s judgment of Israel, Christianity’s first major enemy: the binding of Satan, the vindication of the martyrs, and the spiritual rule of believers with Christ in the present age.

By way of illustration, Gentry later makes some statements on the mention of Gog and Magog in Revelation 20:

R. Fowler White notes [that Revelation] 19:17–18 is “virtually a verbatim quotation” of Ezekiel 39:17–20 (1989: 326), and [Revelation] 20:7–10 specifically mentions “Gog and Magog” (Ezekiel 38:2; 39:1, 6), showing God destroying them with fire from heaven (cp. Rev 20:7–10; Eze 38:22; 39:6). Clearly then, John bases both “the Armageddon revolt (19:17–21) and the Gog-Magog revolt (20:7–10) on the same prophetic passage” (1989: 327)… both [Revelation] 19:19–21 and [Revelation] 20:7–10 allude to the same OT eschatological battle prophecy (Ezekiel 38–39).

Gentry notes that there are those who draw from these facts the premise that the events of Revelation 19:19-21 and Revelation 20:7-10 must therefore refer to the same historical event. However, he adds:

Though “significant correspondence” of a “highly peculiar” nature exists between Rev. 19 and Ezekiel 39, problems confront this interpretation: First, similarity does not entail identity. Simply because John patterns both the battles of Rev. 19 and Rev. 20 on Eze. 38–39 does not mean they are the same battle. Similar language is used because similar fundamental realities prevail: God is catastrophically judging oppressive enemies of His people.

Many scholars see AD 70 as a microcosm of the final judgment. Consequently, we may expect the same imagery to apply to both AD 70 and the end. For instance, of those first century events, Bloesch states: “The catastrophe that befell the Jewish people in A.D. 70 is a sign of the final judgment.” Morris agrees: “…[We see that there is] a theological unity between the two judgments, and that some of what Jesus says [in the Olivet Discourse] could apply equally well to both.” Second, as Bøe notes, John often makes double use of Ezekiel’s images (Bøe, 275). The imagery from Ezekiel’s scroll vision in Eze. 2:8–33 applies both to Rev 5:1 and 10:8–11; Ezekiel’s measuring imagery in Eze 40–48 appears in quite distinct passages in Rev 11:1–2 and 21:10–27 (Bøe 371).

…If John had wanted us to understand recapitulation rather than sequence in this passage [Revelation 20], John “did us no favor” by: (a) recasting the beast and false prophet (19:20) as Gog and Magog (20:8); (b) inserting a thousand year period between the two battles (20:2–5); (c) representing the period of Christian history from the first century to the end as “a short time” (12:12) and as “a thousand years” (20:2–6)… (d) offering no hint that Satan is bound before Rev 19:11ff while emphasizing his being bound before Rev 20:7ff; and (e) telling us that Satan will be thrown into the lake of fire where the beast and false prophet already are (20:10).

…[The judgment of] AD 70 (in Rev. 19:11–21) anticipates the final eschatological battle (Rev. 20:8–10)… It even seems that the NT emphasizes AD 70 more frequently — probably because it was looming in the near future, directly relevant to first century Christians, and of catastrophic significance in re-orienting their thinking regarding the flow of redemptive history… Indeed, it seems that the NT knows of only two great battles remaining in redemptive history: AD 70 which closes the old covenant era (and inaugurates the new covenant) and the Second Advent which closes the new covenant era (and history). Jesus certainly seems to link AD 70 and the Second Advent in his large Olivet Discourse… In addition, John limits Revelation’s prophecies to the near term (1:1, 3; 22:6, 10), which suggests a strong emphasis on AD 70.

That’s one view, and it reflects the view that most of us in our Bible study group tentatively hold at this time. I’m not sure yet if it’s my own. Revelation 20 is one tough chapter to understand.

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Kim Riddlebarger has compiled a very good, clear, and concise “Comparison Chart” displaying the distinctives of:

[1] Dispensational Premillennialism
[2] Historic Premillennialism
[3] Postmillennialism
[4] Amillennialism.

For each viewpoint, Kim includes a brief overview, a list of distinctive features and emphases, and he also names the leading proponents for each view. This very informative comparison chart can be seen here:

http://www.fivesolas.com/esc_chrt.htm

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All of our Revelation chapter-by-chapter studies, and any other posts related to the book of Revelation, can be found here.

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53 thoughts on “Revelation Chapter 20: Introduction and Outline

  1. I would like to send you and your group a copy of my book “The Prophecies of Daniel 2,” but I need an address. I find your comments on Revelation 20 to be interesting.

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  2. Adam, several years have passed since you entered this post. At that time you stated that you and most of your study companions tentatively agreed with the analysis of Gentry and McKenzie (and J. S. Russell) regarding sequence versus recapitulation in Revelation 20. I’m currently of the opinion, after much pondering over the issues involved, that this view is correct. I think McKenzie (following Russell) is more correct than Gentry regarding the likely nature of future fulfillments (that is, seeing the judgment and resurrection of Rev. 20:11-15 as a continuation of the scene in verse 4, which began to be fulfilled in A.D. 70).

    The completely unfulfilled part, according to my current understanding, is the scenario found in verses 7-10. But I’m undecided as to what exactly that passage is actually predicting in real historical terms. Is it predicting a complete end to demonic evil in this world, or is it symbolic of something else? Do you still see this passage as awaiting future fulfillment, or have you moved to a full preterist position (or something else) ? Either way, how do you interpret the Satanic attack on the beloved city, the fiery judgment on the nations and the casting of the devil into the Lake of Fire? Russell was somewhat vague on these issues while McKenzie sees the modern nation of Israel involved, and Gentry (also Haug, I believe) sees it as the ultimate second coming of Christ complete with a final judgment and general resurrection. It’s obvious that you’ve been giving all of these issues a lot of thought for several years now. I’m hoping you might help me to gain some additional insight. Thanks, Adam.

    Bill Carsley

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    • Hi Bill. Thank you for your comments and questions regarding Revelation 20. Several years later, Revelation 20 continues to stand out to me as a very difficult chapter to understand. Without saying that I’ve come to a conclusion, I lean at this time toward the view that all of Revelation 20 was fulfilled by 70 AD. Verses 7-10, then, would be God’s deliverance on behalf of the church (“the camp of the saints and the beloved city”), and I suppose the fire coming down from heaven is God’s judgment on earthly Jerusalem and apostate Israel. I’m not firm on this, but it’s the position I’m leaning toward at this time, unless I can be convinced by a different understanding (including future fulfillment).

      If there is to be a future fulfillment of Rev. 20:7-10, I have no idea where a parallel account can be found in Scripture. That’s my main difficulty in considering a future fulfillment of this passage. At the same time, admittedly, I also have difficulty equating 1000 years with a 40 year period or less.

      I understand the Satanic attack on the beloved city as an all-out campaign of persecution intended to eradicate the church. Such a campaign did take place between 64-70 AD, and Nero’s death in June 68 AD brought relief to the church. Evidence exists that this campaign was both instigated and supported by the Jewish authorities in Jerusalem, though enforced by Emperor Nero and the 10 Senatorial leaders under him (this is discussed more in our studies on Revelation 13 and 17). As Paul wrote in I Thessalonians 2:14-16, the unbelieving Jews were creating havoc against the church not only in Judea, but also in Thessalonica and elsewhere, and wrath would soon be poured out, resulting in a greater opening for the gospel to be spread among the Gentiles.

      As far as the devil being cast into the lake of fire, that’s a tough one, but I know that Satan was said to be the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10; Job 1:6-7, Zechariah 3:1). I understand that this activity was based on the law of Moses, and that the cross ended Satan’s ability to accuse the brethren. The overthrow of the law/old covenant system in 70 AD was significant in this regard, and was related to Satan’s defeat. Paul stated that Satan was soon to be crushed under the feet of Christ’s followers (e.g. Romans 16:19). It seems clear that Satan’s defeat was fast approaching in the first century, which is another reason why it’s hard to see his being cast into the lake of fire as still in our future. At the same time, I believe demonic activity still exists.

      That’s where I’m at for now. What do you think?

      Blessings,
      Adam

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  3. Thank you for your thoughtful reply, Adam. It seems that we both wrestle with many of the same issues although we lean in different directions at present. I’m convinced that the “reign of the saints” millennial period in view in Rev. 20:4 is sequential with the events of A.D. 70 pictured in chapter 19:11-21 (as so well argued by Gentry and McKenzie). If the commencement of the millennial binding of Satan in 20:1-3 is identical with that of the saints’ reign then it requires an A.D. 70 timing as well. For me, that is the question.

    Doug Wilkinson ( he maintains the Premillennial Preterism website) has proposed a dual millennium model which sees the 1000 year reign as beginning in A.D. 70 and continuing for eternity. I agree with him there. Doug’s view of the millennial binding of Satan is essentially the same as full preterism. Doug points out that both Augustine and Wesley cited evidence that there are two distinct millennial periods in view in Revelation Chapter 20. He also believes that the structure, content and historical timing of Peter’s second epistle is consistent with a full preterist view of Satan’s binding and release.
    I find this proposal to be intigung, although I’m not yet convinced there are two different millennial periods being described in Revelation 20. It seems very counter-intuitive to me. I don’t dismiss it entirely as a possibility however.

    I understand very well the reasons you prefer a full preterist view of Rev. 20:7-10, Adam. In fact, if Doug’s theory is correct, I could see recapitulation there very easily. But there are a couple of things about seeing past fulfillment in the Gog/Magog scenario that still trouble me. First, most FPs interpret this passage to mean that there has been no real Satan or any real demonic activity since the A.D. 70 parousia. I find this view to be untenable, totally at odds with historical and current reality. Apparently you agree with me there.

    Second, some FPs (mostly those with a charismatic orientation) believe in Satan’s reality, but they suppose that in the book of Revelation Satan was only used as a symbol of first century persecutors of Christians – thus evil spirit entities, Satan and his demons, have continued to exist as spiritual beings opposed to God and His people. The big problem I have with this interpretation (when seen from a full preterist perspective) is that it implies a perpetual, never ending state of spiritual warfare. God and Satan are apparently locked in this battle for eternity. This is really nothing more than cosmic dualism along the same lines as Zoroastrianism. It denies that God is the ultimate Sovereign who will someday put an end to all evil. Are we to believe that this world-view is really what the Bible teaches after all?

    Blessings to you as well, my brother.

    Bill

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  4. Bill and Adam, I have also wondered about the exact meaning of Rev. 20:7-10. It seems to be speaking of something, and something of great consequence, but what? For a long time, I was unable to find a parallel passage to shed light on it. It seemed strange to me that such a significant event would only be taught once, and in such a difficult manner to understand it. I believe I have found a parallel passage in Matt. 25:31-46.

    For several years now, I have believed Jesus’ prophecy in the Olivet Discourse was the blueprint for Revelation, and Revelation merely expands upon that great prophecy with extra details. I believe Rev. ch. 20 follows sequentially after the end of ch. 19, and that the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD triggers the arrival of New Jerusalem, the binding of Satan, and the beginning of the millennium.

    In both Rev. 20:7-10 and Matt. 25:31-46, people are gathered together into two groups, the people (nation) of God, and the people (nations) of this world, belonging to the Devil. Those that are not in God’s group are punished with eternal fire, along with the devil and his angels. This of course, would take place at the future Second Coming, the day of resurrection. (This would mean Rev. 20:11-15 is a retelling of 20:7-10.)

    Besides the previously mentioned parallel, there are other parallels to Rev. ch. 20. The two resurrections are parallel to John 5:25-29; the binding of Satan is parallel to Matt. 12:29 (in 70 AD, the world looted Jerusalem, but in the millennium, New Jerusalem loots the world: Rev. 21:24-27), and especially, the end of Christ’s reign when death and Hades is abolished and the dead are raised in 1 Cor. 15.

    The reason why Rev. 20 is so difficult to understand is because it was written in code, using heavy symbolism. This was because the Christians had to be very careful what they put into writing, since they were under careful scrutiny during a time of heavy persecution. But 1 Cor. 15 is not written to be difficult. It is written in a straightforward manner, to refute a fundamental error regarding one of the core teachings of Christianity.

    There is just no way to reconcile fulfilled eschatology’s view of the resurrection beginning or ending in 70 AD with 1 Cor. 15. Paul’s teaching in 1 Cor. 15 is not meant to be difficult, but straightforward, and if one’s view of eschatology does not allow for a simple interpretation, then something is wrong with that view of eschatology.

    In regards to Rev. 20, if you agree with me that 70 AD kicks off the millennium, how then can the rest of the millennium be said to have also been completed in 70 AD? How can the millennium go on forever when both 1 Cor. 15:23-28 and Rev. 20 both speak of His reign coming to an end when death and Hades are abolished at the resurrection? How can the resurrection be an ongoing event when it is described as taking place in a single moment on a single day, affecting the living and the dead?

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  5. Hi Steve,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I think we all can agree with you that Revelation covers much the same ground as the Olivet Discourse. If I’m understanding you correctly you believe that all of Revelation up until chapter 20 deals primarily with first century events. Therefore Chapter 19 is not describing the second coming but is a description of the coming in judgment upon Jerusalem in AD 70. Thus you see the real “second coming” being presented in chapter 20:7-15 (the events at the end of the thousand years). And you see the creation of the New Heaven and Earth in Rev. chapter 21 as also being an AD 70 event. Is that a fair statement of your view? If so, it seems to be pretty close to the partial preterist, post-millennial views of Kenneth Gentry and Gerald Haug. Are you familiar with them?

    Bill

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    • Hello Bill, yes, that is an accurate summary of my beliefs.

      I believe the millennium began in 70 AD and will continue until Jesus returns, and the new heavens & earth figuratively describes life during the millennium/the present time. I guest posted a three part series on the old/new heavens & earth here on this blog a little while ago.

      Ken Gentry’s Before Jerusalem Fell was pivotal in my understanding of Revelation. I knew Gentry is a post-millennialist (I’m amillenialist myself), but I don’t believe I’ve ever read his beliefs about the new heavens & earth. Is he ever going to finish his commentary on Revelation?! =)

      I had not heard of Haug until reading your comments. I’ll have to go look him up.

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    • I did a quick look up of Gerald Haug, and I could only find a couple of things about his beliefs. He believes Christ will not return until the Gospel is more successful in Muslim countries. I disagree in that I believe Christ can return at any time, and there are no signs or anything left to accomplish before that will happen.

      He also believes in a 70 AD resurrection out of Hades, as I believe Adam here also believes, that the saints who died couldn’t be with Jesus until 70 AD. This is clearly false, because Paul said, “But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ…” Philip. 1:23. As Paul contemplated a pre-70 AD death, he believed he would go to be with Jesus right then, and no earthly temple could prevent that (Rom. 8:35-39). The same thing is taught in 2 Cor. 5:8.

      Jesus wasn’t bringing people out of Hades in 70 AD, He was sending people down INTO Hades in 70 AD (Matt. 11:23).

      This is why I always press fulfilled eschatology types on the nature and timing of the resurrection, and why I keep prodding Adam to post on this topic. They are never willing to engage me, because the 70 AD resurrection theory cannot withstand scrutiny.

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  6. Ok, I just wanted to be sure I understood you before comparing my view with yours, Steve. I’m in agreement with much of your thinking – Revelation up until chapter 20 is primarily fulfilled in the first century, Rev. 20:1 follows in sequence with chapter 19, the New Heaven and Earth depicts the post -AD 70 age under the New Covenant etc.

    I think the main point where we diverge is related to our assumptions about the judgment scene in Rev. 20:11-15. You see this scene as depicting events after the millennium; I do not. Let me explain why I understand it the way I do. I essentially follow the reasoning of J. S. Russell and the more recent and thorough analysis of Duncan McKenzie.

    I think it makes the most sense to see the judgment scene of verses 11-15 as being part of the same scene that was introduced in verse 4. The detailed discussion of the millennial period (verses 5-10) would then be seen as a brief interruption in the narrative flow begun in verse 4. I think there are very good reasons for looking at it this way. Carefully comparing the AD 70 judgment scene in Daniel 7 with this passage is what convinces me. In Daniel the one judgment scene includes both the setting up of thrones and the opening of books. Daniel’s parallel vision in chapter 12 clearly states that there will also be some kind of a resurrection (both of saved and lost) which will take place in the context of AD 64 -70 tribulation events.

    The conclusion is very clear for me that John’s vision of judgment in Rev. chapter 20 (verses 4, and 11-15 taken together) is picturing the same time of judgment and resurrection foreseen by Daniel. Another clue that this is the correct interpretation is that Rev. 20:11 states that “the earth and the heaven” are removed at the time of this judgment and resurrection. This seems clearly to be anticipating the creation of the New Heaven and Earth (which you agree took place in AD 70). If the New Heaven and Earth was being anticipated at the time of the judgment we can’t really make sense of the judgment coming several thousand years after the New Heaven and Earth began.

    Its because I see the initiation of the millennial reign of the saints (Rev. 20:4) as synonymous with the AD 70 judgment reign of the saints predicted in Daniel that I conclude that the millennial period (as symbolically applied in Revelation to this reign) is actually representing a state of eternal duration. This is because Daniel repeatedly describes this reign as being “forever” and “everlasting” (Daniel 2:44, 7:27, 12:3). This is why I can agree with Doug Wilkinson that the millennial period (as applied to the reign of the saints, not the binding and release of Satan) can be viewed as an eternal one.

    The millennium as it applies to Satan’s binding and release is another matter. It clearly has a beginning and an end. The question for me is whether it is to be interpreted as symbolic recapitulation of events in Revelation 16 and 19 or if it is better viewed in sequence with chapter 19 (as verse 4 clearly is) and thus understood as a long period (starting in AD 70 and ongoing even into our own time). If the latter is the case, then the events of Rev. 20:7-10 are still awaiting fulfillment (and according to my current view this is the only passage in the chapter that remains entirely in the future). Of course full preterists view verses 7-10 as a symbolic recapitulation of the Armageddon events in chapter 16 and the “coming” of Christ events in chapter 19 (both of which they rightly see as having been fulfilled in AD 70). So my position is closer to full preterism than yours in some respects but it’s closer to yours in other respects. I hope this helps to clarify where I’m coming from, Steve. God bless.

    Bill

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    • Hello Bill, you’re exposing me to ideas new to me. It is always nice to have a conversation when both sides try to understand the other’s view. =)

      One key difference we have is that I do not believe Daniel 12 is about the Roman era. The chapter begins with “Now at that time…” which points to the previous chapter, which speaks of the Greek era and Antiochus Epiphanes IV. So I believe the resurrection in Daniel 12 is a figurative depiction of the spiritual awakening that occurred during the persecution and strife in the Maccabean era, as recorded in 1st Maccabees.

      I’ve tried reading Rev. 20:4, and then skipping to v. 11-15, supposing v. 5-10 as a parenthesis, and it reads very disjointed to me. You compare it to Dan. 7, but Dan. 7 doesn’t speak of a resurrection, which I believe backs up my view the millennial kingdom is not the literal resurrection at the Second Coming.

      In the passages you cite, Dan. 2:44 & 7:27, I believe in context, it is “everlasting” in that it is never overthrown by a subsequent kingdom like Babylon, Rome, etc. were. This kingdom would remain until the world ends, but it would still have an end.

      Earlier, I pointed out parallels between 1 Cor. 15 and Rev. 20. 1 Cor. 15:23-28 makes it clear that Christ’s reign does end when He defeats death at the resurrection, which corroborates my reading of Rev. 20. Since 1 Cor. 15 is a plainer passage than either Rev. 20 or Dan. 7 & 12, I believe we should use this passage to understand these other passages, rather than the other way around.

      One key difference between us is our understanding of the resurrection. I believe the resurrection is the bestowing of life to our mortal bodies (Rom. 8:11), the redemption of our body (Rom. 8:23), which is the transformation of our body into the likeness of Christ’s resurrection body (Philip. 3:21, 1 John 3:2), which is a body of flesh and bone (Luke 24:39), leaving an empty grave (John 20:2), and the giving of life is transforming our mortal body into an immortal body (1 Cor. 15:54), bringing an end to death and Hades, since we will be raised never to die again (Rom. 6:4-9).

      If our bodies are still in the tomb, then that proves we have not yet been resurrected (Acts 2:29).

      This is why the resurrection occurs on the “last day” (John 11:24), and why there is no more marriage in the age of resurrection (Luke 20:34-36). If there is no more death, then the world as we know it, and life as we know it, cannot continue. Marriage is based upon the one flesh relationship, heterosexual union. Sexual reproduction has to do with mortality. But where there is immortality of the body, there is no more need of sex, and thus no more marriage. Marriage is then abolished because “they cannot even die anymore.” This is why the judgment at the resurrection brings about the end of the literal universe (Rev. 20:11). The only places that remain are Heaven and Hell.

      There are many, many plain passages about the resurrection that will first need to be explained away before I can buy into an interpretation that places the resurrection back in 70 AD.

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  7. Steve, I’m very happy to engage with you on these issues. My own views are not set in stone. Like everyone else I’m trying to make the best sense I can of the biblical data. I appreciate hearing your views. Your comment regarding Daniel 12 is something I’ll need to look at more closely. The correct interpretation there clearly impacts on my correlation of Daniel 7 and Revelation 20. The key passage concerning Christ’s reign in 1 Corinthians 15:24-28 is very difficult to interpret, regardless of what eschatological system one adheres to. Verse 24 seems to reflect plainly the passage in Revelation 11:15-18 (which in turn seems clearly to be within an AD 70 context). Do you interpret Rev. 11:15-18 as referencing AD 70? If so, how do you see its relationship to 1 Cor. 15:24? The nature of the glorified resurrection body is a large topic which I honestly don’t think is as cut and dried in the Bible as you would have it, Steve. However I don’t claim to have it all figured out either. Making sense of the biblical data regarding the timing of the resurrection is more critical for my understanding at present. Thanks for giving me things to think about and for a chance to look at things through different eyes!

    Bill

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    • Bill, since fulfilled eschatology folks make a big deal about Rev. 11:15-18, I’ll address that passage in a second reply.

      I think several things are clear about 1 Cor. 15:24-28. “When He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father” obviously is speaking of the Son handing over the kingdom to the Father. “For He must reign until…” Obviously, the He that “must reign until” is the Son. When you say “He must reign until X happens,” that means His reign will end when X happens.

      What is the “X” that happens that marks the end of the Son’s reign? When death is abolished. When and how is death abolished? According to 1 Cor. 15:54-57, death is abolished at the resurrection, when the mortal is made immortal. If the dead are raised immortal, then obviously death and Hades become forever obsolete.

      So this is the end of His reign, the end of the millennium, and the beginning of the resurrection age (this will come into play when we look at Rev. 11:15-18).

      Regarding the nature of our glorified resurrection bodies, I believe the Bible is clear on this subject. If you find certain passages to be ambiguous, please ask me, as I have spent a lot of time studying the resurrection body in particular.

      But remember, if you hold to the 70 AD spirit resurrection out of Hades view, Philippians 1:23-24 plainly contradicts it. There is no veil of cryptic prophetic symbolism here to wade through, Paul plainly states that as a Christian dying pre-70 AD, he would go straight to Jesus. If that is so, then there is no point to a 70 AD spirit resurrection.

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      • I forgot to add one more point to my previous reply. The nature of the resurrection body is inseparable from the timing of the resurrection. If the Bible teaches the resurrection is the raising/transformation of our physical bodies (and it does), then that places clear limits on when the resurrection can and cannot occur. If the resurrection entails the raising of our physical bodies, then that necessarily refutes the 70 AD view.

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    • Regarding Rev. 11:15-18, yes, I believe this passage peeks ahead to the 70 AD judgment. This passage, along with 1 Cor. 15:24-28, and Rev. 3:21 & 21:22 (among others) all speak of the Son co-reigning with the Father.

      In Rev. 11:15b, it speaks of the kingdom of the world becoming the kingdom of the Lord. The Lord in this instance must be the Father, as the Lord is in contrast to “His Christ,” or the Lord’s Christ. It then goes on to say “and He will reign forever and ever.” So the question is, who is this “He” that will reign forever and ever”? The Father, or the Son?

      I believe this “He” refers to the Lord/Father. The Lord is the more primary subject here, since not only is the Father a subject in this sentence that stands alone, but the reference to Christ/Son is defined by Christ’s relationship to the Lord/Father. This would also fit with the simple reading of 1 Cor. 15:24-28, which has the Son handing over all things to the Father when the end comes.

      Since we both agree that this reign, the co-reigning of the Father and the Son, begins in 70 AD, notice there is reference to two ages here: the Father “will reign forever and ever.” That is, the Father reigns throughout the reign that began in 70 AD, the kingdom of Christ, the millennium, but this also means there is an age that follows AFTER this millennium reign ends. What is this age that follows after the millennium? As I have been saying about 1 Cor. 15 and Rev. 20, the millennium reign ends with the arrival of the resurrection age, which is the final age.

      But what about judging the dead and rewarding the saints in Rev. 11:18, isn’t this the resurrection? No. At the end of v. 18, it speaks of destroying “those who destroy the earth.” Since we agree this passage is about 70 AD, and since Revelation is focused on the judgment of a land, the Holy Land, and not the planet, then the “earth” here is better translated “land.” So the ones being destroyed here, the dead that are being judged, refer only to the disobedient Jews of that generation.

      In this passage, there are two groups being judged/rewarded, the saints/Lord’s bond-servants/prophets and the dead. The natural contrast to the saints is not the physically dead, but the lost, those who are spiritually dead. This same author refers to living people as being dead in John 5:25-27. They are dead in their sins, but to those who heeded the words of Christ, they became spiritually alive (the first resurrection of Rev. 20, and thus protected from the second death). So in 70 AD, the dead, that is, those Jews who remained spiritually dead because they rejected the words of Christ and His Apostles, they were judged in 70 AD by being put to death and sent to Hades (Matt. 11:23).

      The saints were also rewarded in 70 AD. The martyred saints received peace now that justice had finally been served (Rev. 6:9-11). The still living saints received peace by being delivered from their earthly persecutors. And both the dead and the living saints rejoiced at the establishment of New Jerusalem.

      I do not believe Rev. 11:15-18 supports fulfilled eschatology. To the contrary, like all of the other Bible passages, it refutes it.

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  8. Steve, could you direct me to material which interprets Daniel 11:36 through Chapter 12 as relating to the period of Antiochus and the Maccabees? Of course I understand Daniel 8 and Chapter 11:1-35 as relating to events of the Greek era and Antiochus, but I (along with many other interpreters) discern a shift in focus at verse 36. The things described from that point on seem to fit hand in glove with the activites of Titus in the Roman era. I have not seen any convincing evidence that correlates the known historical activities of Antiochus Epiphanes IV to the description in Daniel 11:36-45. I’m also skeptical of your proposal that the resurrection in Chapter 12 is intended to be taken figuratively. Of all the resurrection passages in the OT this is the one which seems least likely to be intended as figurative (and which has clear textual resonance with the resurrection passages in the NT). Thanks for any material you can provide, Steve.

    Bill

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    • Bill, I do not have any references off hand to point you to. Instead, I would point you to the text of Daniel itself, and ask where is the actual transition?

      Many commentators assert there MUST be a transition in Matt. 24, because “obviously” some of those events haven’t happened yet. That is the same reasoning people use with Daniel 11 &12. But there is no transition in Matt. 24 because, when properly understood, it was all fulfilled in the first century. The same goes with Daniel 11 – just because it may not all fit our understanding of history, so what? Perhaps our history is wrong, or our understanding of this passage is wrong. But if the text provides no clue to a major transition, then we are not justified in inserting one, even as a matter of convenience.

      Like you, I have seen people propose a transition in Dan. 11:36 or later, but where is this transitional verse? I can’t find one. In fact, Dan. 11:40 is still speaking of the king of the South and the king of the North, the precise language used earlier in the chapter which we all recognize as the Greek era.

      It has been several years since I last dug into 2nd century BC history, so I can’t get into the weeds at this time. But let me make a general point. There are three abomination of desolation passages: Dan. 9:27, 11:31, and 12:11. Jesus refers to “the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel.” Which of these three passages is Jesus referring to? I assume we agree that Dan. 9:27 is 70 AD, but I also assume we agree Dan. 11:31 is referring to Antiochus Epiphanes IV.

      All three of these passages sound very similar, because they all tie an abomination of desolation with the ending of sacrifices, but they at least refer to two very different times/events. So don’t just assume similarity establishes it as the same exact thing. Regarding 3&1/2 years, there are several important 3&1/2 years even in the first century: the ministry of Jesus, Nero’s persecution, the time of the invasion to the taking of Jerusalem, and the taking of Jerusalem to the taking of Masada and an end to the war.

      So my advice is to respect the (lack of) transitional statements in the text, even if it doesn’t fit your preconceptions.

      I don’t see any compelling reason to view Dan. 12:1-4 as the literal resurrection, even though I once believed such (much earlier in my Bible study). Eze. 37 has a very graphic depiction of the resurrection, and yet I think we agree this is not referring to the literal resurrection.

      I don’t see the Apostles quoting Dan. 12 like they do Psalm 16:9-10 in regard to the resurrection. Psalm 16:9-10 is the primary OT passage on the resurrection, as the book of Acts records both Peter and Paul quoting it in their earliest sermons while speaking on the resurrection. So we not only have the passage, but we have NT commentary on it. In fact, in the single most foundational resurrection passage in the entire Bible, 1 Cor. 15, Paul alludes to Psalm 16:9-10 not once but twice, although most people miss it. This OT passage is key to not only understanding the nature and timing of Christ’s resurrection, but our own as well. But like every other passage on the resurrection, to dig into it and understand it is to blow up the 70 AD resurrection theory.

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  9. Hey Steve, you’ve said a lot since I last opened my email! I have some time today so I’ll be reading through what you’ve said and will try to have a thoughtful reply for you by the end of the day. Blessings…

    Bill

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  10. Hello Steve,
    I’m going to try and address the bulk of your earlier concerns first. I’ll address the issue of applying Daniel 11:36 thru chapter 12 to the Roman era in a later response. In regard to 1 Corinthians 15:24-28 I grant that your analysis of Rev. 11:15 is one possible way of harmonizing the two passages. However I think there are other factors which bear on this question and which make other interpretations possible.

    Concerning Christ’s reign, the NT is clear that it was in place at least from the time of the resurrection (Matt. 28:18). Likewise, Christ was in a very real sense co-reigning with the Father at least from the time of His ascension (Mark 16:19, Acts 2:32-33, Rom. 8:34). So it isn’t quite accurate to say that I agree that Christ only began reigning in AD 70. AD 70 is when the kingdom was given to the saints and (according to Rev. 11:15) the worldly kingdoms (perhaps referencing specifically those represented by the visions of Daniel) were superseded by the kingdom of God. You interpret the phrase “He shall reign forever and ever” in Rev. 11:18 as a reference to a future handing over of “the kingdom to the Father” (1 Cor. 15:24). But it could just as easily mean that such a transition was already in process. Or it could simply be emphasizing the eternal nature of God’s kingdom without intending any particular distinction between the kingdoms of Christ and the Father.

    In regard to the whole of Rev. 11:18: You’ve developed an interpretation that fits with your overall partial-preterist, amillennial paradigm, but I honestly don’t find it to be any more compelling than the full preterist view. Your insistence that the “dead” must be understood as referencing the spiritually dead is entirely a matter of your preference, based on your controlling paradigm. The fact that we both see the context as the AD 70 Holy Land judgment certainly doesn’t exclude the possibility of a resurrection /judgment of all those who are literally dead being in view here.

    I can’t help thinking that your amillennial background may be influencing you here, since you appeal to Jesus’ allusion to resurrection from spiritual death in John 5:25 as a basis for your interpretation. The traditional amillennial understanding of the first resurrection in Rev. 20:4-5 as being the new birth from spiritual death (beginning in AD 30, by the way, not AD 70) is convincingly refuted by Gentry and McKenzie. Interestingly, most full preterists also interpret the first resurrection as the new birth experienced by the early Christians.

    I think good exegesis makes it apparent that the specific meaning of the first resurrection in Rev. 20:4 is the raising of the dead martyrs (from the period of pre-AD 70 Roman persecution) to reign with Christ. The category might legitimately be broadened to include all of the redeemed dead, but it clearly isn’t depicting a spiritual rebirth type of resurrection as amillennialists and full preterists have usually understood it. It seems clear to me that it’s your insistence on a “self same physical body” type resurrection that is driving your interpretation of the passage and its relationship to 1 Corinthians 15. Actually you pretty well said as much in one of your previous comments. Since I don’t concur with your imperative assumption I can’t exclude consideration of a preterist understanding of resurrection passages.

    You are correct that if one has already concluded that resurrection bodies must be entirely physical and material (as our modern culture would define those terms) then one must rule out an AD 70 resurrection view. My point is that because I’m not at all convinced of that necessity (or even of its likelihood) I find the timing issue to be the most helpful and determinative for interpretation. For a long time I held the same assumption that you do, and sincerely thought it was biblically based and non-negotiable, but deeper study and thought has changed my mind.

    Many respected evangelical scholars would agree with me regarding the ambiguity that exists in attempting to biblically define glorified resurrection bodies. Some of these would include Louis Berkhof, George Eldon Ladd, J. I Packer and Scot McKnight. These are all futurists in eschatology, so their views are not motivated by preterist concerns but simply by being completely honest with the facts. If you have any openness at all to examining your assumptions on this important issue I would recommend two books to start: “Case Dismissed” by Randall E. Otto and “From Grave to Glory” by Murray Harris.

    Now concerning Philippians 1:20-24. I agree with you that this passage demonstrates Christians of the pre-AD 70 era expected to enter the presence of Jesus in some spiritual sense when they died. The passage does not specify the location or nature of that presence. Neither, as far as I can tell, does it preclude a future resurrection that could be something other than a “self same body” resurrection. 2 Corinthians 5:1-6 is clearly a discussion of Paul’s hope of being “clothed” with a body “from heaven”. Although many Christians have assumed this passage is speaking of an intermediate state (similar to the Philippians passage) Paul’s language clearly ties the 2nd Corinthians passage to his discussion of the resurrection in 1 Cor. 15:53-54.

    I think I’ve covered most of your concerns to the best of my ability at present, Steve. I’ll get some supper and then tackle the issue of Daniel 11:36 thru chapter 12. I appreciate the good dialogue, brother.

    Bill

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    • Hello Bill, allow me to explain how I arrived at my view of the first resurrection in Rev. 20.

      Rev. 20’s “first resurrection” strongly implies a second resurrection at a later time. I found this confusing, as my understanding of the resurrection was a single resurrection on the last day. I believe as a general rule, and especially with difficult passages, is to use the Bible to interpret the Bible. If possible, find a parallel passage and use the clues from that to help understand another passage.

      So when I got to the first resurrection of Rev. 20, I immediately looked for a parallel that might help make sense of this. Notice the parallels between Rev. 20’s resurrections and John 5:25-29:

      * There are two resurrections separated by a period of time.
      * The first resurrection was near.
      * The second resurrection was later.
      * The first resurrection only applies to the righteous.
      * The second resurrection includes both the wicked and the righteous.
      * The first resurrection does not appear to include rising from the grave.
      * The second resurrection appears to include rising from the grave.
      * They were recorded by the same author.

      I find those parallels too striking to ignore. But as you point out, the passages aren’t perfectly parallel. One began with the ministry of Jesus even prior to the establishment of the New Covenant (Luke 19:9-10), and the other in 70 AD. (And certainly Jesus’ reign and kingdom began in some sense in 30 AD, and not just 70 AD.) Yes, the first resurrection in Rev. 20 only applied to the physically dead, whereas John 5 is speaking only of the physically living.

      But such differences can easily be allowed for if we recognize John is adapting previous teachings and Scriptures to the then present situation (as I believe John does throughout Revelation). One is saved when one converts to Christianity, however, it is possible to later fall away. So in another sense, one is saved when they have been faithful to the death (Rev. 2:10). Since Revelation is a book of intense persecution, John is emphasizing that salvation is (in some sense) not given until death.

      Satan was ruling the world, and he gave his authority to Nero (Rev. 13:4). Nero was at this time beheading Christians with the sword. So to provide hope for Christians who faced the real possibility of being beheaded simply for maintaining the faith, the vision in Rev. 20 shows Jesus reigning, not Satan, and Jesus granting authority to the beheaded saints to reign, rather than the one that had beheaded them – Nero. This would explain why the first resurrection of Rev. 20 singles out the beheaded saints, rather than all the saints.

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      • Steve, I think the key to understanding the First Resurrection is your beginning comment that throughout scripture we only find one resurrection of the just and the unjust at the eschaton. Your observations on John 5 are reasonable (and as far as I can tell the majority view). I’d argue that they, along with the various words available to translate protos (which can mean first in order, first in quality, etc.), are actually the basis for the gloss of Rev. 20:5a. If you take that variant out, however, you are back to a single resurrection at that time. And, I think that the definition of that resurrection in Rev. 20:4 make it impossible to be otherwise. This is because those who are resurrected are those who are killed for not taking the mark of the beast.

        It’s hard to underestimate how important that is. If you accept the standard Full Preterist (or Amillennial) proposal that Satan was bound during Christ’s ministry and is released just before the parousia then it demands that the thousand year detention of Satan ends before the thousand year reign of the saints begins. This is because the mark of the beast is related to the function of the persecution of the saints immediately before the parousia. And, the function of persecution happens only after the release of Satan. In other words, the only way that you can have saints reigning for a thousand years is for them to be raised after having died at the hand of beast in the 42 months leading up to the parousia. I suppose that you could have them reigning for just the individual balance of the 42 months (essentially Simmons’ position). But if you step back to a single resurrection then this too is impossible because the resurrection doesn’t happen until the parousia.

        There is indeed resurrection language in John 5. There is resurrection language and imagery used throughout scripture. I don’t deny any of this. I am only arguing that it isn’t all necessarily the First Resurrection as defined in Rev. 20:4. The First Resurrection has to include those who are raised for refusing to take the mark of the Beast, which is flatly impossible with some systems such as standard Full Preterism and Amillennialism.

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      • Hello Doug, I don’t want to come across as if I’m ignoring you, it is just that you have me completely lost. =)

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  11. Ok, Steve, I’ll now share my thoughts on why I’m discerning a break or shift at Daniel 11:35. First let me say that your concerns and objections are duly noted, appreciated and understood. I agree with you completely that it’s indefensible to simply imagine interpretive transitions when there are no textual clues indicating such a shift is possible. The frequent abuse of the Olivet Discourse, or appeals to the “gap theory” of the seventy weeks in Daniel 9, are certainly prime examples in this regard. Please let me explain why I think there are indicators in the case of Daniel 11 which make my interpretation possible.

    If one looks carefully I believe it is possible to discern a textual shift at Daniel 11:35. It’s a shift from the discussion of the Jewish remnant of the Maccabeean period to an entirely different period in their future. That future period is the Roman era and the key transitional phrase is “until the time of the end; because it is still for the appointed time.”

    That phrase”the time of the end” has very specific significance in Daniel. I believe the evidence shows that it refers to the Roman era and the events of AD 64-70 in particular. The first time this phrase appears is in the angel Gabriel’s interpretation of the Daniel 8 vision (Dan. 8:17). At first blush this would seem to support a Greek era definition of the phrase since the Daniel 8 vision deals primarily with the Maccabeean events. But a closer look seems to point in another direction.

    Clearly Gabriel is indicating that the vision has something to do with “the time of the end”. But his interpretation ends uncompleted, and Daniel faints. How do we know the interpretation was incomplete? Because Gabriel returns in chapter 9 and specifically tells Daniel he had come to give him understanding of “the vision”, the vision that Daniel refers to as “the vision at the beginning”, meaning the vision he had seen before Gabriel’s previous visit in chapter 8 (Daniel 9:21-23). So Gabriel’s words in Daniel 9:24-27 must be a further expansion on the meaning of the chapter 8 vision. Specifically, it must be Gabriel’s clarification of the meaning of “the time of the end”. All (at least the vast majority of conservative scholars) recognize that Daniel 9 is prophetic of Christ’s first advent and related first century events. Even all but the most extreme dispensationalists acknowledge at least an initial first century fulfillment relating to AD 70. I’m pretty sure you’re on board with that.

    This loaded phrase, “the time of the end” is introduced in chapter 11 at verse 35 and it (or some near equivalent) is repeated throughout the remaining verses of Daniel 11 and 12 (11:40, 12:1, 12:4, 12:9, 12:13). Daniel 12:7 clearly defines the term as “when the power of the holy people has been completely shattered – all these things shall be finished” (to me this statement is a striking allusion to Daniel 9:24-27).

    Another factor which I think is relevant to the discussion (in fact, you brought it up) is the phrase “abomination of desolation”. As you mentioned, this phrase (or some variant of it) is found in Daniel 12:11, 11:31 and 9:26-27. I would also add Daniel 8:13. In your view 3 out of 4 of these occurences are referring to the Maccabeean period; only 9:27 predicts events of AD 70. But please notice this. We can really only say that Jesus (in Matthew 24:15 and Mark 13:14) alludes to the words in Daniel 9:26-27. His precise phrasing is not found there. The phrase “abomination of desolation” or “transgression of desolation” can only be found in 12:11, 11:31 and 8:13. You and I agree that Daniel 11:31 and 8:13 (at least primarily) are Greek era prophecies. We also agree that Jesus was prophesying AD 70 events. So where was he deriving that precise phrasing from to identify those events? The only option left is Daniel 12:11.

    Given these considerations I think it is entirely valid to ask the question “How, if at all, do historical events in the Greek era correspond to the details of Daniel 11:36 – 12:13? Are there plausible fulfilments? Maybe getting “into the weeds” of 2nd century BC history isn’t such a meaningless exercise after all. Frankly, I have a pretty good idea of what you will find if you do.

    Something to think about: liberal scholars who deny biblical prophecy are virtually unanimous in proposing that Daniel 11:1-35 was written “after the fact” because the details match Greek era history so remarkably well. But they also note that verses 36-45 have practically no resemblance to historical events of that era. This being the case, due to their liberal bias they propose that the writer of this section of Daniel was simply guessing about remaining events and just happened to do a very poor job of it. These liberal interpreters notice the historical gap at verses 35-36 very readily, but they explain it in a way that discredits the inspiration, authority and prophetic integrity of the Bible. I personally think a much better solution is to recognize the remarkable correspondence between this passage and the widely known, well documented activities of Titus in the Roman era. There is ample reason to make this application, in my opinion.

    Honestly, I’ve looked at these issues inside and out for years, Steve. I’m happy to share my conclusions, and I’m always willing to consider other views. I”ve found that although I may not agree with someone 100% I often learn valuable things that can spur me on to even better understandings. That’s why I engage with others on blogs like this one. I really am pursuing truth. God bless.

    Bill

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    • Bill, I think it is too simplistic to say “the time of the end” has a specific meaning throughout the book of Daniel. I could declare the same for “the abomination of desolation,” and “prove” Dan. 12:11 is the same as Dan. 11:31. There are as many “time of the end”s as there are kingdoms, ages, and eras, just as there is more than one abomination of desolation.

      I do not see the 70 weeks vision as a completion of the previous vision. The revealing of the seventy weeks prophecy is in response to Daniel’s prayer about the 70 years, not because he fainted too soon in Dan. 8.

      When Dan. 8:21 refers to Gabriel being seen in the previous vision, Daniel is merely reintroducing him. Which brings me back to the lack of a transition in Dan. 11 & 12. Dan. 11:35 reads, “Then the king will do as he pleases…” It doesn’t introduce who this king is, nor the kings of the South and North. The simpler reading is that this is a continuation of things introduced earlier in the chapter.

      Regarding the liberals’ view of Dan. 11, I don’t care. Sometimes the liberals inadvertently get things right, and conservatives can get it wrong. Case in point, “this generation” in Matt. 24:34. Some conservatives insisted “this generation” doesn’t really mean “that generation,” in order to protect Jesus from making an error. Meanwhile, ALL the liberals insisted “this generation” DOES mean “that generation,” so they could gleefully point out Jesus’ error. Of course, I also insist “this generation” means “that generation” so I can gleefully point out Jesus & the Apostles knew what they were talking about and got it exactly right!

      After years of asking the hard questions and studying Christian evidences, I have sufficient wisdom and confidence in the Scriptures to allow some problems to remain unresolved, rather than jumping in to “save Scripture from error” and possibly forcing a flawed resolution. The Bible has “DEFINITELY” been wrong before, only to be later vindicated by a single find or record. Such is the nature of ancient history, what is unquestionable today becomes laughable tomorrow.

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  12. Though I haven’t changed my opinion on a bi-millennial paradigm since I wrote “Making Sense of the Millenniu” (though I have tried to avoid calling my self a Premillennial Preterist since going that road so as not to confuse my position with Duncan’s), I have had some repetitions of trying to defend my position, so I think I’ve gotten a bit better at it. I’ll try to explain it as clearly and succinctly as possible.

    My basic assertion is that it’s impossible for the two 1,000 year periods to be precisely the same period. Kurt Simmons does an excellent job of pointing out why this is so in a number of his articles. In summary, you can’t have the First Resurrection be of people who haven’t died yet. According to Rev. 20:4-6 we see the First Resurrection as those who’d died for not taking the mark of the Beast. But, the mark of the Beast will happen during the function of the Beast, which only happens after the release of Satan (according to CE/FP, I know Duncan sees this slightly differently). If the release of Satan is the end of the thousand year (symbolic or otherwise) detention of Satan, then the mark comes after that, and the First Resurrection comes after that. And, of course, the First Resurrection starts the thousand year reign of the saints. One of the more difficult parts of arguing this is that the church has historically misinterpreted the regeneration of salvation in John 5 as the First Resurrection. But, Rev. 20:4-6 is crystal clear. It includes those who’d been killed as martyrs during the function of the Beast in the last 42 months before the parousia.

    As far as interpretation of Rev. 20 goes, I think that Duncan did a masterful job of explaining why the saints’ portion of it is all one event. In summary, all of the constituent elements of the saints’ portion of Rev. 20 are seen as one cluster of events in Daniel 7. There is no implication whatsoever in Daniel 7 that the seating on thrones is separated by a thousand years (symbolic or otherwise) from the judgment made for the saints. So, Duncan has argued that Rev. 20:4-6 and 11-15 are actually one event. I don’t think it’s much of a stylistic jump, then, to say that 1-3 and 7-10 are actually one event as well. The first reason is stylistic symmetry, as I think you can see above. The second reason is that John has regularly gone backwards in Revelation up to this point and explained details about the characters involved after telling their basic story. His story of Mystery Babylon is probably the best example. I suggest that John is essentially telling a story of two characters. He is then going back and giving some additional details about them. But, one detail stands out above the rest: Only Satan’s thousand year period is said to end. If you take the phrase “when the thousand years are completed” from v.7 and apply them to the only thousand years that are said to end from v.3, you have a pretty simple story. At some point in the past Satan is bound (I have stipulated to the FP definition of this, but I’m open to other suggestions). That will last a thousand years. When it ends, he’s released. During that time he forces a mark as part of persecution. When God steps in and ends the persecution a decision is made for the saints. Those who were killed during this persecution are raised to rule with Christ. Because of parallel passages in Daniel 7:18, 22, and 27, and Rev. 22:1-5, we know that this rule is “forever.” This means that the Gog/Magog was could easily have been a double fulfillment or simply fulfilled in 70AD at the Armageddon battle described in Rev. 19. But, either way, it’s done being fulfilled.

    Duncan has also gone a great job of pointing that Rev. 20:5a is a textual variant gloss that should be thrown out. If it is, then we have one resurrection (just like the rest of scripture) happening at the parousia in 70AD. I propose that this, just like the GWTJ, rule of the saints, and lake of fire, is an ongoing institution for the rest of human history. I don’t see where scripture predicts and end to history per se. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t end at some point (I expect it would have to), but it just means that it’s not a topic that scripture speaks about.

    I hope that makes my position a bit more clear. I have just started reading Evans’ book, and I expect that it will correct me on a few things, but help me solidify my arguments for even more.

    Doug Wilkinson

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  13. Hey Doug,

    It’s great to see you entering the discussion here. If you’ve read through the whole thread of comments you know I brought your dual millennium view into the discussion early on. I was curious to see if Adam had any insights that might be helpful to me, and I mentioned to him that the only way I would be able to accept an FP understanding of Satan’s binding and release is if I also accepted your dual millennial view. This is because I’m convinced that you and Duncan (and Ken Gentry) are correct on the first resurrection. It’s clearly an AD 70 resurrection of the martyrs who died under the persecutions of the Beast. This means the reign of the saints had to begin in AD 70, so if the millennial binding of Satan must be seen as concurrent with the millennial reign this makes the FP view impossible.

    So your dual millennium theory does serve to make the FP position (which views the account of Satan’s release in Rev. 20:7-10 as a recapitulation of Armageddon) a possible option for me. But if you’ve read my original comments you can see that I’m still not completely convinced that recapitulation is the better way to go there. I also noted that I have real concerns about the broader implications of a fulfilled view of Rev. 20:7-10. It’s really these broader concerns which are the most disturbing to me. I was hoping that Adam (or someone) would be able to help me with those concerns, but so far no one has addressed them. I know we’ve touched on these issues a bit in the past, but without much progress. Do you have any new thoughts?

    By the way, I’m glad you mentioned the issue of the textual variant problem with Revelation 20:5a. Your contention that “only Satan’s thousand year period is said to end” is only correct if 20:5a is in fact a gloss. I understand that there are some textual issues with the term “thousand years” in Rev. 20:4 (the question being whether there should be a definite or indefinite article there). If the indefinite article is correct it supports your case for a dual millennium. If the definite article is correct it weakens your case considerably. Have you looked into that particular textual issue at all?

    Bill

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    • If you’ve studied the recapitulation view deeply I don’t know if I can say anything that will surprise you. But, I’ll try to summarize why I’m where I am on that. The primary reason is tied to the outline of the book. The easiest reference for this is from Poythress’ online copy of his book, “The Returning King”. I’d strongly argue that you get the physical copy if for no reason than that the chiastic outline is much more clearly presented. Below is a link to the book with the relevant outline below it:

      Rhetorical Structure of Revelation

      I. Prologue 1:1-3

      II. Greeting 1:4-5a

      III. Body 1:5b-22:20

      A. Thanksgiving 1:5b-8

      B. Main part 1:9-22:6

      1. What you have seen 1:9-20

      2. What is 2:1-3:22

      3. What is to be 4:1-22:5

      a. Cycle 1: 7 seals 4:1-8:1

      b. Cycle 2: 7 trumpets 8:2-11:19

      c. Cycle 3: symbolic figures and the harvest 12:1-14:20

      d. Cycle 4: 7 bowls 15:1-16:21

      e. Cycle 5: judgment of Babylon 17:1-19:10

      f. Cycle 6: white horse judgment 19:11-21

      g. Cycle 7: white throne judgment 20:1-21:8

      h. The 8th and culminating act: new Jerusalem 21:9-22:5

      C. Final instructions and exhortations 22:6-20

      IV. Closing salutation 22:21

      http://www.frame-poythress.org/ebooks/the-returning-king/

      In my opinion, the structure of Revelation is a strong indicator of recapitulation. But, in addition to the macro structure I think the constituent element tie between Rev. 20 and Daniel 7 demands this. Duncan has proven that the saints’ portion of Rev. 20 happens at one time in Daniel 7. If this symmetry holds true for Satan’s thousand year detention then the climax of it happens at the defeat of the beast in Daniel 7. No matter when Satan’s detention begins, then, (and I’m still looking at various options for this) it has to end just before the 42 months of the operation of the beast. I tend to lean towards a historical quasi fulfillment of the Gog and Magog war associated with Babylon and then a final fulfillment with the Romans in 66-70AD. But, if Rev. 20 parallels Daniel 7 I don’t see any other option than that the final fulfillment was in 70AD.

      Your reservations about Satan are interesting to me as well, though I haven’t spent much time digging into it yet. I think you are indicating that you don’t understand the power of evil (and hint of supernatural evil) after Satan and his forces were supposed to have been destroyed in 70AD. The best answer I have at this point is that I’m not persuaded that Satan still has to exist. However, it might be that there are evil spirits (angelic or not) still running around regardless of his disposition. And, of course, there is still the fallback position of saying that human evil accounts for all of this. I don’t find that completely satisfactory, but some do. If you are interested in an interesting book that touches on the topic (though not with any preterist flavor) you might be interested in “Deconstructing Lucifer”.

      http://www.amazon.com/Deconstructing-Lucifer-Reexamining-Ancient-Origins/dp/0615533868/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1408327218&sr=8-1&keywords=deconstructing+lucifer

      I haven’t checked into the definite article issue on Rev. 20:5a. But, I’m also out of time tonight, so I’ll have to get back to you on that.

      Doug

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      • Doug, have you ever heard of Jeffrey Burton Russell? He’s supposed to be quite an authority on the idea of Satan in the Bible and world history. I picked up one of his books a few weeks ago, “The Prince of Darkness”, but have not yet read it. It looks like it may cover much of the same ground as the one you’re suggesting. Anyway, I’m going to read it before deciding I need another one. Thanks for your thoughts and suggestions.

        Bill

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  14. Thanks, Doug. I’ve read the Poythress material online and also some good material by R. Fowler White. I noticed that Poythress draws upon White considerably. A good example of White’s arguments can be found here:

    http://www.apuritansmind.com/the-christian-walk/recapitulation-in-revelation-201-10-by-dr-r-fowler-white/

    Some of White’s arguments are only relevant when viewed from an amillennial perspective, but he provides a lot of support for recapitulation that is applicable to a preterist view as well. I’ll probably have to get a print copy of “The Returning King” by Poythress in order to take advantage of the charts. I’m planning to get a chart book by Mark Wilson that’s available on Amazon because it has a chart specifically related to your observation that 2nd Peter has structure and content parallel to that of Revelation. I’ve been wanting to look at that premise more closely because it figures significantly into your (and the FP) view of Satan’s binding and release in the first century. I’ve looked for material online dealing with those parallels but haven’t come up with any extensive o detailed discussion of it. If you can point me to anything you think would be helpful please do so. The chart book I’m talking about is here:

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0825439396/ref=ox_sc_sfl_title_7?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=A313D6C6QOYFZZ

    Yes, a big part of my concern over the FP view is the issue of how to understand the meaning of Satan’s casting into the Lake of Fire. The majority FP view seems to be that Satan and demons no longer exist as ontological realities. I believe Jerel told me that he agrees with that view. I cannot accept it because it absolutely defies reality in my opinion. Then on the other hand, there are some FPs (usually charismatics who emphasize spiritual warfare) who interpret Satan in Revelation as being only a symbol of first century persecuting powers. This approach leaves Satan (the ontological spiritual being) alive and well.

    But appealing to this symbolic approach seems redundant to me since there are already adequate symbols for those powers in Revelation (and it’s particularly redundant to have Satan representing those powers when he’s being pictured as cast into the lake where those powers already reside – Rev. 20:10). I also see a serious theological problem with that view since it implies that we can only expect a perpetual, unending state of spiritual warfare with no full end in sight. This is cosmic dualism similar to Zoroastrianism (or Star Wars theology) – it’s a big departure from the Judeo-Christian concept of God as the ultimate Sovereign of the universe.

    I will say, Doug, the more thought I give to your dual millennium approach the more sense it makes to me. There’s a very good article by Virgil at planetpreterist.com on “Why the Single Millennium Model Forces a Futurist Eschatology” here:

    http://planetpreterist.com/content/why-single-millennium-model-forces-futurist-eschatology

    Virgil’s article supports your approach. By the way, the definite article issue (which has some bearing on the dual millennium approach) is in verse 20:4, not 20:5a. I think Virgil (or perhaps some of the related discussion following his article) actually touches on this topic a bit.

    Bill

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    • Bill, I think you’re smart be hesitant of any explanation that flatly denies the reality you experience personally. I am personally skeptical of solutions that result in absolutely no spiritually evil activity because of this. That topic is a pretty complex one, but I’ll try to point out a couple of the key issues. The first is that just because there are some kinds of evil spirits in the world in 2014 doesn’t mean that Satan is one of them. This becomes even more powerful when you look at some of the lore related to the Watchers, where Satan is one of the key bad guys but not only one. His role becomes even more complex when we see that term for his name has a generic sense of opposition, so that in some cases we might be assigning him a role in the narrative that is improper (though I don’t agree with the camp that discounts all supernatural evil by assigning all of it to mental illness or evil people). Finally, on Satan’s identity, the book I linked on deconstructing Lucifer does a very good job of tracking the label Lucifer as it applies to Satan. I find the arguments in there (too complex to repeat here in detail) impressive. His basic point is that Lucifer is simply the term for Venus, and that back in the day resurrection imagery was tied to apotheosis, where you become a star in the heavens when you die. The Lucifer (or man who aspire’s to be Venus, the brightest star in the sky) in Isaiah and Ezekiel would simply be the king of Tyre as the passage indicates. The more important application is that Jesus doesn’t claim to be Lucifer (or the Morning Star) in Revelation, and doesn’t promise that at resurrection Lucifer will rise in our hearts. My point of all of this is that there is a spaghetti bowl of thought around supernatural evil and Christian doctrine and it is quite hard to untangle it. I’ll stipulate to you that there has to be room for evil spirits in the modern era, though I won’t say that at this point their influence approaches a Zoroastrian crisis.

      Working from the bottom up, I think the time statements demanding a first century 2nd Coming are unimpeachable. I think preterism makes a solid case that the New Heaven and New Earth promise in scripture is tied to this. I don’t see how the millennium can be a precisely parallel period for the saints and Satan. I think I’ve made a strong case for the parameters of saints’ reign with Christ. I think that Satan’s thousand years came before, and have accepted the FP definition of this, though I am open to other suggestions on how far back the detention extends. Because of all of this, I wrote “Preterist Time Statements” and will probably really focus on introductory issues for a while (outside of hobby level blog posts like this, which I do just for fun).

      Thanks for the links. I have the Revelation chart book. If there is something specific in there that you are looking for please let me know

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      • Doug,
        My main interest in the chart book right now is the comparison of Revelation with the epistles of Peter and Jude. I’d also be interested in alternate FP proposals concerning the start time of Satan’s millennium (his binding) other than the usual AD 30 timing. This is of some interest to me, but not as important as the time of Satan’s loosing and end in the Lake of Fire. Thanks.

        Bill

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    • Quickly on the definite article in Rev. 20:4, that argument was very interesting to me. I’ll look into it further. I came to my conclusion through a different route though. It struck me when comparing v.1-3 and then v.4-6 that Satan’s thousand years is the only one that is explicitly said to end. And, the language of it’s end seems to be repeated in the description of v.7,

      Rev 20:3 and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while.

      Rev 20:7 And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison

      It’s not just the definite article, the idea of release seems to be deeply embedded in the idea of the end of the thousand years. But, the saints have no such caveat. In fact, this dynamic looks very much the way Greek grammar handles things like a perfect tense. A perfect tense is normally seen as being true for all time once it comes into effect. But, there can always be a caveat. So, a perfect tense is true within those bounds. Likewise, it appears to me that the term of the 1,000 years is governed by the caveat included in the section defining it for each group (obviously, I’m assuming they are two different periods here). For Satan, he’s held for 1,000, but this will end at his release. For the saints, they reign for 1,000 years but there is no caveat. I’d argue that other passages inform us unambiguously that the saints reign forever. Since the 1,000 in any case is symbolic, and may have a sense of their full function or destiny, I think the matter is actually quite simple (once you jettison 20:5a, that is).

      Doug

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      • Doug,

        If memory serves, I believe that the presence of the indefinite article in Rev. 20:4 figured prominently in Wesley’s conclusion that two distinct millennial periods are in view in chapter 20. He apparently was working on the assumption that the traditional reading is correct.

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  15. Bill, you are right that there are plausible/semi-plausible sounding interpretations of Rev. 11 & 20, Dan. 12, and so on regarding the resurrection of the dead. But that is because these are passages that were intentionally cryptic so that not everyone would be able to understand them. The more ambiguous a passage, the more plausible-sounding interpretations you can come up with.

    This is why I try to adhere to the principle of using the plain passages to understand the difficult passages, and not the other way around. This is also why I don’t teach the resurrection beginning with Rev. 11 & 20, or Dan. 12, or even 2 Cor. 5. Because none of these passages were written with the purpose of explaining the nature of the resurrection body.

    1 Cor. 15 asks and answers the question of the resurrection body in a straight forward and detailed manner. If it is as you believe, that it doesn’t decisively answer that question, then no passage will. I believe Paul succeeded in decisively explaining the nature of the resurrection body, which was his intent, and which is why you correctly note my understanding of 1 Cor. 15 strongly impacts how I read other resurrection passages. That is as it SHOULD be.

    I believe a careful and detailed study of 1 Cor. 15 will make it abundantly clear the resurrection body is the continuation of our earthly bodies. Do you know where and how the OT Scriptures teach the Messiah would rise on the third day? Do you understand the significance of the third day and the fourth day? Do you understand what the baptism for the dead was? If you cannot answer these questions with a confident yes, then I would suggest there is much more for you to learn about 1 Cor. 15.

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  16. Steve,
    I have no doubt that I yet have things to learn about 1 Corinthians 15 (and many other things in the Bible!). If you would like to direct me to material covering those significant things you apparently see that I do not – please, by all means do so! I too see a “continuation of our earthly bodies” being presented by Paul there, but obviously not in the same sense as you are seeing it. The dogmatic view you hold, which precludes any possibility of an AD 70 resurrection, eludes me at the present time. It’s very apparent that if you cannot persuade me of what is so clear to you (or vice versa) we must remain at an impossible impasse.

    Thank you for clarifying your view of the first resurrection in Rev. 20:4. It appears that we are not very far apart on that issue I apparently misunderstood your previous statement: “those who heeded the words of Christ, they became spiritually alive (the first resurrection of Rev. 20, and thus protected from the second death)” . My assumption was that you were affirming the traditional amillennial view of the first resurrection. It seems clear now that this was not your intention. It’s probably safe to say that we are in agreement that the first resurrection involves the martyrs coming to life in AD 70, but my view is that this was a “bodily” resurrection. In your view it didn’t meet the criteria for a bodily resurrection, as you believe the Bible defines that term. I’m not entirely clear what kind of a resurrection you do see happening there since it was a resurrection of already dead people who already had a spiritual existence. What state were they resurrected to, in your understanding?

    I’m not going to let you off the hook so easily on the matter of Gabriel’s visit to Daniel in chapter 9. There is clearly more going on there than “merely reintroducing him”. Please do a careful and honest reading of 9:21-23. While it is true that Gabriel came in response to Daniel’s prayer, it is not true that there is no connection being made between the vision of Daniel 8 and the prophecy of Daniel 9. In verse 23 Gabriel begins by telling Daniel, “consider the matter, and understand the vision.” Daniel had seen no vision in Daniel 9, he had only been engaged in prayer. Then what vision is Gabriel urging Daniel to understand? In context, it can only be referring to the vision Daniel references two verses earlier – that of Daniel 8. Daniel refers to the previous vision (verse 21), identifying it as “the vision” in order to clarify what the words of Gabriel are intended to reference in verse 23 – again, “the vision”.

    Bill

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    • Bill, I’ve read what you wrote and Dan. 8 & 9 several times, and I’m still not sure exactly what you’re getting at. I think you are saying you believe in Dan. 9:20-27, Gabriel is explaining to Daniel the vision he had in ch. 8? I believe the message & the vision of Dan. 9:23b is one and the same, the seventy weeks. My understanding is that this is new and not a review of things Daniel had seen back in ch. 8. I hope that answers your question.

      I do not believe the first resurrection in Rev. 20 is a true resurrection, but is symbolic, much like their reign. For example, I do not see the first century martyrs actually directing the rise and fall of individuals and nations from Heaven, whereas I DO see Jesus doing that through the present age. I see their “resurrection” as an affirmation of their spiritual life and of God’s favor, and a rebuke to their persecutors (along the lines of Rev. 3:9).

      I am confused at what you believe about the afterlife and the resurrection. What do you believe happens to a Christian today that dies? What happens and what will happen to them, in regards to the resurrection?

      While I believe there is only one true, literal, actual resurrection, the Bible does refer to a number of figurative, symbolic, and/or spiritual “resurrections,” but these aren’t resurrections in the truest sense. So I am not dogmatically opposed to saying there was some kind of spiritual/figurative resurrection in 70 AD, nor am I dogmatically opposed to interpreting Dan. 12 as the Roman era (I just believe it is better understood as referring to the Greek era).

      What I AM dogmatically opposed to is placing the Second Coming, the final judgment, and THE resurrection of the dead that takes place at the end/on the last day at 70 AD.

      This is what I believe happens to a Christian today when they die: The spirit leaves the body and goes to be with Jesus, and the body decomposes. We remain with Jesus in Heaven as disembodied spirits until the Second Coming at some point in the future.Then Jesus returns to our world with the spirits of the deceased, reunites them with their old earthly bodies as He brings them back to life, but in a changed state. The resurrection body is made from the old earthly body’s remains, but made immortal, made immune to temptation, and redesigned for life in Heaven. Jesus then returns to Heaven with the resurrected saints where we all spend eternity in a perpetual state of spiritual bliss.

      How do you see it?

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  17. Glad you asked! And thank you for clarifying your views a bit more, Steve. My view about the topic is honestly a work in progress, but I’ll do my best to clarify where I am right now. Essentially what seems clear to me now is that the one general resurrection which the OT anticipated (and Jesus and the apostles predicted as being near at hand) did, in fact, take place in AD 70. I believe the weight of evidence shows Daniel 12 to be describing this event (and also Rev. 20:4-6 and verses 11-15, taken together).

    I believe that Paul’s comments in Philippians 1:20-24 reflect the situation as it existed for him and his contemporaries prior to AD 70. His comments in 2 Cor. 5:1-8 are describing the change from being unclothed (a spiritual intermediate state such as he alludes to in Philippians 1) to being clothed with a new body from heaven. This passage is referring to the same resurrection experience Paul is discussing more extensively in 1 Corinthians 15, and this parousia/resurrection took place in AD 70. The resurrection of the martyrs in Rev. 20:4 is a case in point of those Christians (whose names were in the book of life) who were changed from the spiritual intermediate state to glorified heavenly bodies at that time. These resurrected ones entered the heavenly realm represented by the New Jerusalem.

    Since AD 70 I believe people who are “in Christ” when they die are immediately clothed with their bodies from heaven and enter the New Jerusalem. In effect, the judgment takes place for post AD 70 people at their death. The deciding criteria for this judgment are the same as they were for the judgment and general resurrection in AD 70. The principle that all must appear before the judgment seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:9) and that it is appointed for all to die and then be judged (Heb. 9:27) is maintained. The question that I’m still debating is whether the release of Satan and his activities described in Rev. 20:7-10 are still unfulfilled (this is the position of J. S. Russell and Duncan McKenzie which I have favored) or if it should be interpreted as a recapitulation of Armageddon in AD 70 (the full preterist view). Doug used to hold the unfulfilled view but has changed to the FP view by proposing that the millennial period of the reign of the saints is not intended to be identical with that of Satan’s binding and release. I’m considering that position seriously now, although it has some implications that I find disturbing.

    One difference I’ve noted between you and I, Steve, is that you believe the present physical universe will end at the time of judgment, based on Rev. 20:11. I believe that verse makes much more sense if the phrase “heaven and earth” is understood consistently and contextually as referring to the end of the Old Covenant. As I mentioned before, this verse is also a strong indicator that this judgment scene is a prelude to the New Heaven and Earth which immediately follows in the narrative – thus it is an AD 70 event related to the transition from the Old to the New Covenant.

    I accept that you cannot make the connection that I see between Daniel chapters 8 and 9. I’m persuaded that it is there, and also that there are significant parallels between chapter 12 and chapter 9 (as well as the other Roman era visions) which cannot be found in the Greek era prophecies. The Roman era climaxes found in chapters 2, 7 and 9 are clearly the dominant theme of the book of Daniel. The Maccabees era focus is a sub theme which has some definite immediate relevance to the near future of Daniel’s people. It also has, as you have correctly pointed out, some thematic similarities to the Roman era visions. But the meaning of “the time of the end”, in the overall context of the Daniel prophecies, heavily weighted toward the Roman era. This is my honest analysis and conclusion at the present time, but I don’t insist that you must agree with me. Just grant that I am basing my view on what I see as valid textual grounds

    By the way, one other significant factor in my (and Doug’s) thinking on these issues is the matter of Revelation 20:5a. You mentioned in an earlier post that you have wondered why Revelation 20 implies two resurrections when it seems that all other biblical references are only anticipating one general resurrection. You explained how you deal with that (positing one as symbolic or figurative and the other as literal) which is certainly a possibility. But I agree with Doug (and Duncan McKenzie, who first brought it up) that it is very likely the phrase “but the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished” was not in the original manuscripts. Textual evidence is very strong that this is the case. Understanding this can shed light on the two resurrections conundrum, and it also might help you to better understand Doug’s position since he assumes that 20:5a is a textual gloss.

    Bill

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    • Bill, thanks for that fair summary of where I’m coming from. Before I wrote “Making Sense of the Millennium” I tripped over some of Kurt Simmons’ stuff on a split millennium just long enough to note his references to Augustine and Wesley who describe for different reasons why they think they must not be perfectly parallel. But, I only recently read the rest of what he has to say on it. Because he must have two resurrections he is stuck making the saint’s thousand years last for about 3.5 years running up to 70AD. I don’t find that persuasive. But, all of his arguments about why they must be split seem pretty solid to me. I refer you to one of his articles on the topic below. If you agree that it must be split then you end up in either his system, my system, or an as yet to be defined system of a split millennium in the future.

      http://www.preteristcentral.com/Studies%20in%20the%20Millennia.html

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    • Hello Bill, if I understand you correctly, you believe a Christian that dies today receives a heavenly body, which is basically a replacement body, distinct from our earthly bodies. I do not understand how that equals “a continuation of our earthly bodies.”

      I first began a serious study of eschatology several years ago. I was taught historicism, but through my own study emerged a (partial) preterist. This is when I became exposed to hyperpreterism (what you call full preterism). I began to feel its pull, but I just couldn’t make sense of 1 Cor. 15 from a hyperpreterist viewpoint. As I continued to study, I became greatly alarmed at hyperpreterism and its ramifications. This is when I came to believe it was not only an error, but heresy.

      Prior to getting into eschatology, I had studied 1 Cor. 15 a great deal, as it is one of the most important passages in Christian evidences (a subject I had already studied for years). 1 Cor. 15 became key for me to see through the 70 AD view of the Second Coming and the resurrection of the dead, and became the basis for my view of eschatology and how I interpret the prophetic passages.

      For that reason, I’d like to go through some things about 1 Cor. 15 that necessarily rules out 70 AD as the Second Coming and the day of resurrection. I will put that in a series of comments to follow.

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  18. 1 Cor. 15 part 1, the context.

    Before we can understand 1 Cor. 15, we must first understand the historical and cultural context. Even though the audience was predominately Gentile Christians, Paul was reminding them of what he had taught them a few years prior (1 Cor. 15:1-3). Before Paul was an Apostle, he was a Jew and a Pharisee.

    So what was the common resurrection belief among the Jews and Pharisees of that time? It is widely acknowledged among scholars that their popular belief was in a resurrection of our earthly dead bodies. This can be seen in Acts 2:29, where Peter proves to the Jewish crowds that David had not been resurrected. His proof is simply this, that David’s bones are still in his tomb. If the Jews viewed the resurrection as a spirit-only existence, or the receiving of some kind of heavenly replacement body, then Peter’s argument proves nothing. But if their view of the resurrection was the raising of our earthly bodies, then he proves his point, case closed.

    The argument the Sadducees (Matt. 22:23-28, Mark 12:18-23, and Luke 20:27-33) and Greeks (Acts 17:31-32 and 1 Cor. 15:12, 35) present to the Christian view of resurrection presupposes the resurrection of our earthly bodies, resuming our earthly lives. They were correct in understanding the resurrection was the raising of our dead, earthly bodies. Their mistake was failing to realize/acknowledge that the bodies were not raised as they were before, but raised in a changed, transformed state. This can be seen with Paul’s response to the question of the resurrection body in 1 Cor. 15:35-38, that the body does not come back to life as it was before, but as a changed, transformed body (also see 1 Cor. 15:50-53). Likewise, Jesus points out the Sadducees’ proposed predicament did not take into account that the bodies are raised changed, not able to die anymore.

    We see Jesus and Paul arguing with the Sadducees about the resurrection, but we never see them arguing with Pharisees over the resurrection. The obvious reason is because they shared the same view on the resurrection of the body. This is supported by the fact Jesus, Paul, and the Pharisees all used the same illustration to teach on the resurrection, a grain of wheat (John 12:24, 1 Cor. 15:37). This is not surprising, since Paul testifies on multiple accounts that he believes the same thing as his fellow Jews and Pharisees about the resurrection (Acts 23:6, 24:15, 26:6-8).

    Jesus’ own resurrection conforms to this belief, raising up His flesh and bone body (Luke 24:39) and leaving behind an empty tomb (John 20:11-13).

    The context overwhelmingly points to belief in the raising up of our earthly bodies. Any other interpretation of 1 Cor. 15, as a spirit-only resurrection, or a replacement resurrection body, is going to have a massive burden of proof to overcome the weight of the context.

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  19. 1 Cor. 15 part 2, Christ was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.

    To refute the claim that there is no resurrection, Paul points to the fact of Jesus’ resurrection. Part of Paul’s argument for establishing the fact of Jesus’ resurrection is by pointing out it was predicted in the OT Scriptures long before it happened (1 Cor. 15:4). The problem is, the OT never says such a thing, at least not explicitly. The passage Paul is alluding to is Psalm 16:9-10. But to understand how this passage teaches the Messiah will rise on the third day, we must first understand how the ancient Jews viewed death and decay.

    To the ancient Jewish mind, decay set in on the fourth day. This is because in that climate, a dead body would typically begin to smell on the fourth day (see John 11:39). So for the “Holy One” (identified as Christ, see Acts 2:27-31 & 13:32-37) to not undergo decay, that means He must be raised before the fourth day, which strongly implies the prior day, the third day.

    There are a couple of things that support this is the passage Paul has in mind. First, Psalm 16:9-10 plays a key role in the earliest sermons of Peter and Paul proclaiming Jesus is the Christ (Acts 2 & 13). Second, Paul echoes the substance of this OT passage both here in 1 Cor. 15 and also in his sermon on Mars Hill (Acts 17:30-32).

    Reading Psalm 16:9-10, as well as Peter’s interpretation of it in Acts 2:25-31, together indicates two things. First, David as a prophet was able to look ahead and see the resurrection of Christ. Second, seeing this, it gave “hope” to David’s “flesh.” That is, David realized that Christ’s resurrection was proof that one day, his flesh would also be resurrected in the same way. This echoes Paul’s argument in 1 Cor. 15:20-22. The resurrection of Christ proves there will be a resurrection of the rest of the dead. The resurrection of Christ didn’t inspire hope in David’s spirit, nor in some other body, but in his own flesh.

    This is also Paul’s reasoning in Acts 17:30-32. “Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead…” Where did they hear about the resurrection of the dead? (The original Greek word translated “dead” here is plural, so it cannot refer to Christ.) It must have been when Paul spoke of a day that was fixed in which He will judge the world, proven by the resurrection of Christ. So again, Christ’s resurrection is a proof for everyone else’s resurrection in the future. Similar arguments could be made from Rom. 6:5-9 & 8:11.

    Just as Jesus’ earthly body was brought back to life at His resurrection, so our earthly bodies will be brought back to life when we are resurrected.

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    • I missed an evening of conversation by being at work, but I thought I’d add something before installment number 3, which I’m honestly looking forward to. I have two points. First, I think the background of Greek philosophical schools is being ignored in the attempt to engage Jewish themes such as the doctrine of the Sadducees. In most of the New Testament this would probably be the right course of action since it is geographically centered in Judah. But, in Corinth I think it’s worth looking at the Greeks a little more closely. Though the Sadducees did indeed discount the resurrection, it turns out that the Epicureans did as well. Given the physical proximity of Athens to Corinth and the chronological proximity of 1st Corinthians to Paul’s speech at the Areopagus in Acts, I think it’s more likely that the source of doubt about the resurrection comes from the Epicureans. The epistle starts out flatly declaring that there are both Jewish and Greek errors to be addressed. If we look at 1st Corinthians 15 in particular, I think I can point out that the chapter is based on a threefold structure of addressing Jewish, Epicurean, and then Stoic concerns or themes. It wraps up with Jewish promise of the nullification of death, according to the scriptures. I think it is unavoidable that there would be ignorant Epicurean converts in the Corinthian church. I don’t think the same can be said for Sadducee influence. So, I suggest that Paul is trying to explain to them that while they may have made an allowance for the Son of God to be raised, they need to embrace the reality that they will be as well.

      Second, the definition of pneumas has to be governed by audience relevance. In the NT period the dominant school of Greek philosophy was Stoicism. In Stoicism, as in Hebrew thought, pneumas (or the spirit) was physical. In Stoicism it was the invisible, ethereal thin air type substance that held all matter together. In the Hebrew world it was the breath of life or God. What matters here is that the spirit of a person is considered a part of the real, physical body. In other words, if your spirit were resurrected that would indeed be the resurrection of your real, physical body. There is no need for your flesh to be reassembled. In fact, your flesh is not suited for heaven. But, your spirit is. This isn’t a gnostic proposal because gnosticism wasn’t formulated until the Mediterranean world embraced Platonic cosmology where the spirit was an immaterial, paranormal, or unreal thing. Both gnosticism and Roman Catholic cosmology were based on Platonic foundations (the Pope recently wrote an article defending this reality), and so was later western Christian doctrine. But, in the time of the New Testament Paul’s cosmology (or definition of physics) was based on Stoicism. With that in mind, read a part of 1st Corinthians 15 again, and I think it will be as simple as can be (I have a couple of sources below that I highly recommend to prove my point):

      1Co 15:35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?”
      1Co 15:36 You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.
      1Co 15:37 And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain.
      1Co 15:38 But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body.
      1Co 15:39 For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish.
      1Co 15:40 There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another.
      1Co 15:41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.
      1Co 15:42 So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable.
      1Co 15:43 It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power.
      1Co 15:44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.
      1Co 15:45 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
      1Co 15:46 But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual.
      1Co 15:47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven.
      1Co 15:48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven.
      1Co 15:49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.
      1Co 15:50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

      Flesh and blood aren’t suitable for heaven. But, pneumas is. There is no such thing as physical vs. spiritual in the New Testament. That can only exist under Platonically informed theology.

      http://www.amazon.com/Hellenistic-Philosophy-Stoics-Epicureans-Sceptics/dp/0520058089/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1408520374&sr=8-1&keywords=a.+a.+Long+hellenistic+philosophy

      http://www.amazon.com/The-Corinthian-Body-Dale-Martin/dp/0300081723/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1408520509&sr=8-1&keywords=the+corinthian+body

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      • Doug, it is true, there was a diversity of Greek thought about death, from oblivion to various kinds of a spirit afterlife. If Paul had taught a spirit afterlife, I don’t think that would have caused the Greek philosophers to sneer at him. What the Greeks didn’t have was a conception of our flesh body, the body that dies and rots, as standing back up and coming back to life. But that is what Paul taught, and so they sneered at such an “absurd” notion.

        Doug, you said: “if your spirit were resurrected that would indeed be the resurrection of your real, physical body. There is no need for your flesh to be reassembled.”

        If that is true, that one can be resurrected while their flesh and bones remain behind in the grave, then Peter proved nothing in Acts 2 by pointing to David’s grave. Under your view, just because David’s dust and bones were still in his tomb, that would do nothing to show he hadn’t been resurrected. Three thousand converts that day prove Peter’s point did strike home, and your view of the resurrection doesn’t line up with Peter or the Jewish crowds on that day.

        Furthermore, the resurrection of Christ gave David hope in his FLESH (Psalm 16:9-10, Acts 2:26-27), which is most definitely distinct from his spirit. Jesus maintains the distinction between a man’s spirit and his flesh: “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26:41). Paul describes the war between his flesh and his spirit in Rom. 7:14-25.

        The spirit doesn’t rot in the grave, but the flesh does, so it is the flesh that needs a resurrection. It is the flesh, the part that rots, that is saved from decay when it is resurrected (Acts 13:34-37). This is why Jesus was resurrected in His flesh and bones, the parts that would have rotted otherwise.

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      • Doug, I would be very interested in seeing you elaborate on the threefold structure you see in 1 Corinthians 15 (and specifically how you see each of the three schools of thought being engaged by Paul there). I’ve found Sam Frost’s proposal that Paul is addressing an anti-Jewish faction within the Corinthian church in chapter 15 to be very plausible. He makes a good point that Paul’s introduction indicates that the error he’s about to address doesn’t have anything to do with doubts about the reality of the resurrection of Christ. He goes over that reality with the assumption that it is commonly held by those he’s addressing and trying to persuade. He’s about to use Christ’s resurrection as a common denominator (an anchor point which both he and those he’s addressing can agree on) which his logical arguments can then revolve around.

        There’s no question that the whole epistle is addressing the sad state of factionalism and lack of love and acceptance among the brethren in Corinth. Reading chapter 15 with that in mind makes a huge difference in what issue (or issues) Paul is actually trying to address. Frost’s point is that some in Corinth (probably actually those who considered themselves “of Paul”) were boasting that the church had replaced Israel (similar to the problem in Romans 11) and denying that Christ had any solidarity with the Old Covenant people of God. In this view, the term “the dead” throughout chapter 15 is not a general category but specifically refers to the Old Covenant saints who are awaiting the resurrection (which Paul refers to in Acts as “the hope of Israel”) So in this view Paul’s point is that if the promises to Israel are not being fulfilled in Christ’s resurrection then neither do the Gentiles (the anti-Jewish Corinthian objectors) have any hope of resurrection.

        So, according to this view, the objectors being addressed in chapter 15 were neither denying Christ’s resurrection nor their own (nor that of any New Covenant believer). Neither was the primary issue what kind of bodies would be raised. The fundamental issue was whether Christ’s resurrection was only effective for New Covenant believers or if it also benefited the Old Covenant people of God. Paul’s argument establishes that it was the very fact that Christ’s resurrection fulfilled the promises to Israel that made it possible for the church (both Jews and Gentiles) to benefit and participate in those promises. I’ve read through chapter 15 substituting the phrase “Old Covenant saints” in every case where a reference to “the dead” is found. It makes Paul’s logic suddenly very clear, where most traditional interpretations and assumptions make his reasoning redundant, circular and very difficult to follow at times.

        Bill

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      • I’ll start by saying that to catch some of the nuances here it is pretty much mandatory that you become familiar with Epicurean and Stoic philosophy. A short, though dense and dry, book on the topic is A. A. Long’s “Hellenistic Philosophy.”
        http://www.amazon.com/Hellenistic-Philosophy-Stoics-Epicureans-Sceptics/dp/0520058089/ref=sr_1_sc_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1408639790&sr=8-1-spell&keywords=hellenisitc+philsophy+long
        The major points of these systems that intersect with what we are talking about start with Epicurean views on spirituality. From their point of view there was no life after death. By reputation (though the gurus wouldn’t have put it quite like this) Epicureanism resulted in a hedonistic lifestyle. Though they didn’t see individual humans as having any life after death it’s possible that they’d see a God/man as having such due to his unique nature. However, they would simply assume it didn’t apply to them. A new Christian who hadn’t yet given up some Epicurean assumptions might think that his sins needed to be forgiven by faith in the God man, but would not expect “eternal life” to mean anything other than a quality of life here (this might sound familiar from preterist debates).

        The second major point is the cosmology of the Stoics. Stoic cosmology (or explanation for physics) was the dominant view of the NT region at the time of Christ. It had ascended a hundred or so years before and would recede a hundred or so years after. Even those who didn’t follow all of the Stoic philosophical implications accepted a great deal of the cosmology. I argue that as a point of audience relevance that when Paul is using the term pneumas he starts with the popular definition and then drags it towards a Christianized version by reference to Hebrew scriptures. It’s critical to understand that in Stoic cosmology and Hebrew thought (as opposed to Platonic cosmology, which has been the foundation of almost all theological writing and underlies our assumptions about the spirit to this day) pneumas, or spirit, is a physical thing. If your spirit were to be resurrected it would be your individual, personal, physical body.

        With that background, and keeping in mind that 1st Corinthians opens with Paul saying that the bad guys he’ll argue against are both the Jews and the Greeks (and that he’d just done so with the Epicureans and Stoics down the street from Corinth), I’ll paste the chapter below and put in brackets quick explanations of what I think is going on. It’s really not a difficult chapter if you approach it from this point of view.

        1Co 15:1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand,
        1Co 15:2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
        1Co 15:3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,
        1Co 15:4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,
        1Co 15:5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.
        1Co 15:6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.
        1Co 15:7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.
        1Co 15:8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.
        1Co 15:9 For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
        1Co 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.
        1Co 15:11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

        [Earlier in the book Paul said that he knew nothing but Christ and him crucified when evangelizing the audience. He is repeating his simple gospel here. He relies on “according to the scriptures” directly or indirectly throughout the chapter. This keeps the message as simple as possible (the simplicity was meant to contrast the style of Apollos who had a more complex, though not wrong, style probably more like the book of Hebrews).

        1Co 15:12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?

        [Though I think that Frost makes an interesting argument I think that it (and CBV writers driven by King) is driven by the need to have an invisible resurrection so that it happened in 70AD, though no one saw it. That motivation is a bit behind the scenes, but it drives what he’s required to come up with. King’s solution followed by Frost is to have a categorical or corporate resurrection as opposed to a physical one. Because in Platonism, the basis for cosmology in modern times, the invisible spirit is not physical they had to come up with a way to have a real resurrection that was invisible. They simply carried over the Old Testament typology of a resurrected nation in order to accomplish this. There are some places where I think they are right to do so, but I don’t think the CBV approach exhausts the meaning of resurrection. On the other hand, I’d look at the history of the church in the region in the parallel account in Acts 17 to find out that there were Epicureans and Stoics in the area, and that some of each joined the new church. It is a logical necessity, then, that you’d have ignorant new former Epicurean believers who’d need some more detailed instruction on the implications of their new faith. Lightfoot wrote that he thought there was a chance that a bunch of Sadducees had invaded the church because he saw the dynamic but missed that they might be former Epicureans instead. So, Paul is addressing one of the key beliefs of Epicureans philosophy by mentioning resurrection from the dead]

        1Co 15:13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.
        1Co 15:14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.
        1Co 15:15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised.
        1Co 15:16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised.
        1Co 15:17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.

        [I hinted above that the motivation behind Epicurean converts might have been to be forgiven of sins, but not necessarily to look forward to an afterlife. On the lower levels they tended to be hedonistic, but on the upper levels they tended to strive for a balanced life. They wanted as much pleasure as possible in life. But, the upper level thinkers understood that they needed balance and moderation to enjoy this. Having forgiveness, the elimination of shame and guilt, would have been a natural thing for them to embrace without necessarily having thought of the afterlife package. Paul is setting them straight here. Becoming a Christian isn’t just about being forgiven and then living a pleasing life on earth. He is also making a point about the fact that identity with Christ means taking on his nature just as he took on ours. This theme is deeply embedded in patristic and EO theology.]
        1Co 15:18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
        1Co 15:19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

        [Again, a quick jab about “this life only” aimed at the Epicureans.]

        1Co 15:20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
        1Co 15:21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.
        1Co 15:22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.

        [There is a switch here from a simple assertion that there is an afterlife to founding that assertion on Hebrew categories (first fruits and the mention of Adam). Paul will repeat this again later with the Stoics.

        1Co 15:23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.
        1Co 15:24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.
        1Co 15:25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.

        [More Hebrew solution. Psalm 110, Daniel 7 and other similar passages are in view here.]

        1Co 15:26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
        1Co 15:27 For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him.
        1Co 15:28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.

        [see last comment]

        1Co 15:29 Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf?
        1Co 15:30 Why are we in danger every hour?
        1Co 15:31 I protest, brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day!

        [In most cases people are over thinking this section. Paul is simply saying that there is no point in taking on his mission to save people who are going to die if there is no afterlife. It might help to really focus on the fact that he considers himself as good as dead for taking on this mission (remember that Christ would show him all the things that he was going to suffer)].

        1Co 15:32 What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”
        1Co 15:33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”
        1Co 15:34 Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.

        [This is the last section directly engaging the Epicurean hedonistic life and the mistake of not seeing life after death. Paul insists that life after death is the only thing that makes his efforts worthwhile (he’s basically saying that if there is no afterlife then they should go back to being Epicureans). The nexus that gets us here is that the Epicureans are the ones who combined no life after death with “eat, drink, and be merry”, at least on the popular level]

        1Co 15:35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?”
        1Co 15:36 You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.

        [In this passage Paul switches to the Stoics. A hint that he has done so is to call them foolish. Remember, in chapter 2, when he starts to talk about the wise of this world he is aiming that directly at these two philosophical schools. Since he focuses on pneumas, a key part of Stoic thought, we have an indication that this is the school in view. And don’t miss this. Paul is laying down an axiom that we almost always overlook. What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. There is no resurrection without death. This becomes important later when we talk about the sequence of the resurrection and 15:51]

        1Co 15:37 And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain.
        1Co 15:38 But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body.
        1Co 15:39 For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish.
        1Co 15:40 There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another.
        1Co 15:41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.
        1Co 15:42 So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable.
        1Co 15:43 It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power.
        1Co 15:44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.

        [I’m not sure how Paul could have been more clear. And, I don’t understand how someone can read that section and say that in order to have a resurrection body you have to put on the old body again over the top of the new one. That is completely foreign to the logic he is using. It is raised a spiritual body. That’s a given person’s real, personal, physical body. It’s just made of spiritual material and is suitable for life in heaven.]

        1Co 15:45 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
        1Co 15:46 But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual.
        1Co 15:47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven.
        1Co 15:48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven.
        1Co 15:49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.
        1Co 15:50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

        [Again, I don’t know how he could have said this more clearly. Dust, or flesh, are not suitable for life in heaven. Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. There is no point. You will take with you the part of your individual, personal body that was linked to and renovated by God’s spirit. Human spirits that have not been renovated cannot exist in the presence of God and will be judged eternally instead. In this section Paul has built on the idea in Stoic cosmology that pneumas is physical, but he has redefined it so that it will be in compliance with the kingdom of God. In typical biblical fashion, the word is used initially in a way that the audience can understand because of their philosophical background (John does this very powerfully with Logos, which was a Stoic term as well) but then the word is redefined or more correctly defined. We’ll transition below into a repetition of the use of Hebrew imagery and categories to solve the earlier confusion.]

        1Co 15:51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
        1Co 15:52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.

        [Mention of the trumpet has deep Hebrew implications primarily based on the Feast of Trumpets. He’s saying that at the time of the fulfillment of that feast the resurrection will occur. There are about 20 pages of implications there that we might talk about another time. In addition, for the sake of time I’m not going to talk about the textual variant in v.51 or how I interpret the sequence of “and we shall be changed”. That has to wait for another time.]

        1Co 15:53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.
        1Co 15:54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
        1Co 15:55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”
        1Co 15:56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
        1Co 15:57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
        1Co 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

        [The section wraps up using Hebrew eschatology to fix the misunderstandings of the audience. When the language from Hosea and similar passages is fulfilled then all of these things will have happened. It doesn’t strike me that the Stoics were as messed up as the Epicureans. The Stoic sense of a physical pneumas was built on to explain how God was going to use the people’s spirits to make new bodies for them. The physicality of pneumas was already in Stoicism, but this transformation would have been foreign to them, not the least of the reasons why being that they didn’t believe in an all powerful God with a kingdom. The Epicureans were more directly schooled. Both of them were corrected according to the scripture.]

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      • Doug,

        Thanks for the running commentary on chapter 15. I can see your point now. I agree with you that we really can’t hope to understand the intended meaning of Paul (or any biblical writer) if we’re looking through the wrong philosophical or cosmological lenses. I can see why the view proposed by Frost would appeal especially to CBV preterists but it doesn’t seem to me that it precludes an IBV approach. The hope of Israel was resurrection and they experienced it corporately and covenantally in Christ and His resurrection. But that expectation also included individual hope of resurrection from Hades. It seems to me that the two ideas are not incompatible, but complementary.

        Bill

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      • I have no doubt that there is a blend of the two. The debate on the topic has tended to push peoe to one camp or another. I’m more interested in figuring out the right blend and how to explain the mechanics of each.

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      • Doug,

        Frost appeals quite frequently to N. T. Wright’s work in pointing out the fulfilled aspects of the corporate body view. Wright sees the hope of Israel, corporate resurrection motif in the first century very clearly. But as a futurist I suppose he postpones the Hadean resurrection for the Old Covenant saints until a future Second Coming. Or perhaps he sees something significant for them in passages like 1 Peter 3:18-20; 4:6 and Ephesians 4:8-10. If so, I expect he would not view it as a true bodily resurrection having taken place. Do you know how Wright handles that? Do you see any significance to those passages in regard to resurrection for the Old Covenant people of God?

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    • Hi Steve,
      I’ve been pondering some of the things you’ve been saying but haven’t had time to think about addressing it all. I’m glad Doug decided to jump in because we’re pretty similar in our thinking on some of the issues. I just want to quickly address the point you make here about Peter’s use of Psalm 16:8-11 in his sermon in Acts 2 (also similarly applied by Paul in Acts 13, as you mentioned).

      I agree with your statement that “David as a prophet was able to look ahead and see the resurrection of Christ”. However I’m not so sure about the viability of your belief that David’s prophetic insight was giving hope to his flesh (in terms of expecting his own fleshly resurrection). Reading Peter’s application of the text, his main point is that (even though the Psalm reads as if it’s David speaking of himself) David couldn’t have been speaking of himself because he did die, experienced bodily decay and didn’t ascend into heaven.

      But this is not all that Peter says about the passage. He also supplies the reason why his chosen text should be applied to Jesus. He affirms that David was not only seeing prophetically, but he had a connection with the future Christ which made Peter’s application of the passage perfectly reasonable. Peter says, “knowing that God had sworn an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne.”

      It seems to me that it makes more sense to interpret the hope of David’s flesh as being related to the “flesh connection” which Peter himself points to in his inspired interpretation of the passage. He focuses on God’s promise to David that the Messiah would be one of his descendents, “according to the flesh.” So according to Peter this was the significant point in view when David said his flesh would “rest in hope.” There’s nothing in Peter’s application to indicate that David had his own future resurrection in mind.

      Bill

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  20. 1 Cor. 15 part 3, baptism for the dead.

    Part of understanding 1 Cor. 15 is understanding being “baptized for the dead.” Although confusion and complex theories abound, the answer is pretty simple. The “dead,” in the original Greek, is clearly plural. The plural dead refers to the dead BODIES. Beginning with 1 Cor. 15:29, replace the word “dead” with “dead bodies” and it will make sense, and become explicit by v. 35:

    Otherwise, what will those do who are baptized for the (their) dead bodies? If the dead bodies are not raised at all, why then are they baptized for their dead bodies?… If the dead bodies are not raised, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die… But someone will say, “How are the dead bodies raised? And with what kind of body do the dead bodies come?

    What sense does it make to be baptized for your own dead body? After all, the body being baptized isn’t dead, but still alive! While it may sound strange to us, this is how Paul speaks. In another passage that has numerous parallels with 1 Cor. 15, Paul speaks of living bodies being dead in Rom. ch. 5-8. In Rom. 7:24, Paul refers to his living body as “the body of this death.” In Rom. 8:9-11, which is most definitely about the resurrection, Paul says of his readers’ bodies: “the body is dead because of sin.”

    In what sense, then, is our living bodies already dead? Because we all have sinned, sin dwells in our flesh (Rom. 7:14-25). Our flesh bodies have fleshly appetites, in contrast to the mind/spirit of the Christian who has chosen spiritual pursuits. Since the flesh has its “mind” set on fleshly things, which is the path that leads to death (Rom. 8:1-13, Gal. 5:16-26, etc.), the body is mortal – it must and will die, and is effectively already dead.

    This is why Paul says “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable” (1 Cor. 15:50) and why the body must first die: “You fool! That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies” (1 Cor. 15:36). Since our bodies have become the dwelling place of sin, it needs to be REDEEMED, hence the resurrection is “the redemption of our bodies” (Rom. 8:23).

    According to my NAS concordance, the word translated “redemption” in Rom. 8:23 means “a release effected by the payment of a ransom.” In other words, to redeem something is to buy it back. This isn’t the purchase of a new body, this is buying back the old body, the body of death, the body of sin, the body of flesh, the body that dies and rots.

    Notice that whenever a resurrection is described in visible terms anywhere in the Bible, it is always described the same way, as the old earthly body standing back up, coming up from the grave, and coming back to life. Isaiah 26:19 says, “Your dead will live; Their corpses will rise…” Eze. 37:5-6 says, “Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones, ‘Behold, I will cause breath to enter you that you may come to life. I will put sinews on you, make flesh grow back on you, cover you with skin and put breath in you that you may come alive; and you will know that I am the LORD.'”

    Regardless of how one interprets Isa. 26:19, Eze. 37, or the other resurrection passages as referring to a literal or figurative resurrection, they all depict resurrection the same way – that the body that dies, the flesh, the bones, is the body that stands back up, comes out of the grave, and lives again. This, then, is the basic notion of how the Bible looks at the resurrection of the dead. In fact, this is EXACTLY what happened at the resurrection of Christ, as His flesh and bones came out of the grave, and back to life.

    Getting back to the baptism part of the baptism for the dead bodies, this is referring to normal Christian baptism. Paul connects baptism with death and resurrection in Rom. 6:3-14. This baptism involves a ritual cleansing, where “our bodies (are) washed with pure water” (Heb. 10:22). Our earthly, flesh bodies are washed in baptism to cleanse us, to prepare our flesh for something. Hence, Paul also says that the death and resurrection of baptism is a spiritual circumcision “in the removal of the body of flesh” (Col. 2:11-14). That is, the body of sin is done away with in preparation of receiving the heavenly body of righteousness.

    This resurrection body of righteousness isn’t a different body, but the old mortal body that dies and rots (Rom. 6:12 & 8:11). This is why Paul describes resurrection as redeeming the body not only from death, but also from decay (Acts 13:32-37). If it cannot decay in the grave, it cannot be resurrected.

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  21. I had much more to say, but I’ve run out of patience.

    Adam, Bill, Doug, I’m calling you out.

    Your view that people can be resurrected while their flesh and bones remain in the grave is contrary to Peter’s view of the resurrection in Acts 2, as well as the crowds’. Your view of resurrection is contrary to how the resurrection is depicted throughout the Bible, as the raising of our flesh and bones, which informed Peter & the crowds of their view of resurrection. And your view contradicts the resurrection of Christ, which was the raising of His flesh and bone body.

    I don’t see any signs that you can own this. The reason is because this clearly ends the debate on 70 AD as the day of resurrection.

    What I see here is people willing to multiply millenniums, suppose 1 Corinthians 15 is REALLY about factions arguing over the resurrection of OT saints, open to pretty much anything but the simple truth.

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    • I’ll point you to the response to Bill that I just posted a longer explanation. But, in summary there is no logical implication in 1st Cor. 15 that the resurrection body is made from the spirit with the old flesh re-wrapped around it. Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God.

      Like

    • I’m sorry you’ve lost patience with us, Steve. No one here is denying that Peter was claiming a flesh and bone resurrection of Jesus without having seen corruption in Acts 2. But, contrary to your claim, there is more than one way to biblically understand how redeemed people are identified with and included in Christ’s resurrection. You said you wanted to engage with us and we are engaging. Why engage if your only real intent is to assert that your view is the only possible interpretation that is true to the Bible? The point of discussion is to consider what others have to say with somewhat of an open mind, so long as all can agree that good exegesis of Scripture is the common standard. Just because your view is being challenged in ways that are new to you is no reason to throw up your hands in disgust! I hope you’ll reconsider because I’m really benefiting from the discussion. God bless.

      Bill

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