TK Burk: $1000 Challenge to Dispensationalists


“$1000 For One Scripture That Says…” On the heels of the previous post being about dispensationalism, I find this long-standing challenge by TK Burk to be an interesting one. For those who may have seen the last post, but weren’t sure what dispensationalism is, Burk’s eight points below should help give you an idea of what is taught in this school of thought:

A biblical doctrine is not biblical unless it has biblical passages proving it is biblical fact. That may sound a little simplistic, and maybe even a bit of a tongue twister, but it is still the main rule to follow when rightly dividing God’s Word. Please, keep this in mind when reading through this $1000.00 challenge.

Each of the following eight points are taken from foundational teachings in the prophecy view called “Dispensationalism.” If Dispensationalism is truly biblical then there should be Bible passages that clearly speak of these points. If there are no such scriptures, how then can Dispensationalism be said to be biblical? For this challenge, I am offering $1000.00 to the first person that can give just one Bible verse that actually says any of the following Dispensational teachings:

  1. God delayed His Kingdom because the Jews rejected Jesus.
  2. There is a gap between the 69th and 70th week of Daniel.
  3. There will be a secret pre-tribulation rapture of the Church.
  4. God will require the building of a physical third Jewish Temple.
  5. God will no longer accept grace and Jesus’ blood for salvation but will instead return to the Law and animal blood sacrifices.
  6. An Antichrist will make a seven-year covenant with the Jews.
  7. There will be a future seven-year tribulation period.
  8. A physical Jesus Christ will return to establish a 1000-year reign on earth.

If you’re a Dispensational believer, and if you believe that any or all of the above eight teachings are biblical, would you please give us at least one Bible verse that actually says any of the above? Though Dispensational teachers claim to have much scriptural evidence to support their teachings, you only need one Bible scripture to qualify for the $1000.00.

This $1000.00 offer has been around for many years. To date not even one verse has ever been sent to prove any of these Dispensational teachings are in fact biblical…not one. This silence alone should be enough to prove that these main points in the Dispensational theory are not biblical. However, since Dispensationalism is still claimed by some to be biblical, this $1000.00 is still being offered to the first person that can give such a verse. If you are a Dispensationalist and you cannot find such a scripture, I hope you realize that this means you are missing much more than just $1000.00–you are missing the fullness of God’s Truth.

For continuity, responses to this challenge must use the King James Bible. Use the below “reply” area to send in any Bible verses. Comments concerning the lack of any such scriptural evidence are also welcomed.

(Source)

Burk is right – not one Scripture passage substantiates any of those eight points. As a side note regarding #5, my understanding is that dispensationalists/pre-millennialists would probably say that God’s grace and Jesus’ blood will still be the basis for salvation in an alleged future millennium, but that animal sacrifices will be re-established as some kind of a memorial. It’s still a very strange idea, though, in my opinion, and certainly without Scriptural basis.

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A Study of II Thessalonians 2:1-8


Scripture text for this study: II Thess. 2:1-8

 1Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, 2not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 3 Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. 5Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? 6And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. 7For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way.8And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming.

BACKGROUND

Just like the seven churches who first received the book of Revelation in the form of a letter, Paul wrote to a church in Thessalonica that was under persecution (II Thessalonians 1:4-7). This persecution was evidently coming from the Jews, based in part on Acts 17:1-13 and I Thessalonians 2:14-16. The first Imperial (Roman) persecution against Christians under Nero had not yet begun, since this book was written around 52 AD. The Thessalonians would experience relief from their affliction, they were told, when Jesus came in vengeance and to be glorified in and marveled at by His people (II Thess. 1:7-10). That Paul expected his first century readers to experience this relief firsthand is no surprise when we remember that Jesus Himself promised to come bringing recompense with Him while some of His 12 disciples were still alive (Matthew 16:27-28).

VERSES 1-2

In this regard, Paul writes to a church that was concerned that they had missed His coming, for Paul writes: “Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to Him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come” (II Thess. 2:1-2). We must consider the nature of their expectation about these things. For if their expectation of the Lord’s coming was that it would be visible, that it would bring an end to the world, or that it would result in the instant removal of all believers from the earth, it’s hard to imagine how they could be led to believe that these things had already occurred. If the Day of the Lord referred to “a rapture,” and they thought it may have already occurred, why would Paul still be around? As David Lowman, a Presbyterian pastor, has written, “Now, if on the other hand, the Thessalonians believed the Day of the Lord to be the coming judgment against apostate Israel, then asking about that event would make sense. And if they had friends or relatives in the Judean area it would easily explain their concern that the Day of the Lord had passed.”

David Lowman points out that the Greek word for the phrase “gathered together,” episunagoge, used in II Thess. 2:1, appears three times in the New Testament: [1] in Matthew 24:31 (“…and He will send out His angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other”; see our study of this passage), [2] here in this passage, [3] and in Hebrews 10:25 (“not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”). In each of these cases the term denotes the fellowship of believers or the gathering of the Church in terms of the spread of the gospel.

Lowman notes that, where this term was used in the Olivet Discourse, it was the fall of the temple and Jerusalem that enabled the gospel to be spread apart from infringement by Jewish authorities and the Judaizers. Also recall that in I Thessalonians 2:14-16 Paul says “the Jews…oppose all mankind by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved—so as always to fill up the measure of their sins. But God’s wrath has come upon them at last!” Paul saw the coming judgment upon apostate Israel, which Jesus had repeatedly prophesied was to come, as a good development for the spread of the gospel among the nations.

VERSES 3-4

Paul states that two events had to occur before the day of the Lord would come: [1] the rebellion, and [2] the revealing of the man of lawlessness.

The Greek word “apostasia” is used here in verse 3 for “the rebellion.” It can mean either [1] rebellion or [2] falling away. Most modern translations now render it as “rebellion.” So this doesn’t have to mean a falling away that is only spiritual in nature, but it can also indicate a social or political rebellion. History tells us that a large-scale Jewish rebellion rose up in 66 AD which led to Nero declaring war on Israel in February 67 AD, precisely 3.5 years before Jerusalem was crushed and the temple fell in late August 70 AD. This rebellion began about 15 years after Paul wrote this letter. It appears that Paul made the argument that the Day of the Lord’s judgment against Israel would not take place before the rebellion led by the Zealots had already occurred, and this is exactly how it played out in history (see this post and this post for more details).

Verse 4 says that the man of lawlessness “opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.” Among futurists, i.e. those who believe that this prophecy has not yet been fulfilled, it is popularly held that a third temple must be rebuilt in Jerusalem, and then a future antichrist figure will literally sit in that temple. Among those who do believe this was fulfilled in the first century, some believe (as I do) that Nero was the man of lawlessness referred to here by Paul, while others believe that it was Titus. Some question the idea that Nero was the man of sin because he is not known to have physically entered into the Jerusalem temple, as Titus did in 70 AD. However, is it correct to believe that Paul was even referring to a physical temple, or is this interpretation perhaps off-track from the very beginning?

On the other hand, some have interpreted the phrase “temple of God” to refer to the Church (e.g. Ephesians 2:11-22), rather than to any physical temple. I agree with this interpretation. In other words, the man of lawlessness would attempt to usurp the place of God as the object of supreme worship within the Church. This Nero did. [He had coins minted on which he was called “Savior” and “God.” Those living in Rome were required by law to publicly proclaim their allegiance to Caesar by burning a pinch of incense and declaring, “Caesar is Lord,” after which time they were then given a document called a “libellus,” which was necessary for engaging in commerce in the Roman marketplace. More is written on this here and here.] Regarding the physical temple which stood in Paul’s day, let’s remember that God had already rejected that temple as His own. As Jesus said to the Jewish leaders in His day, “See, YOUR house is left to you desolate” (Matthew 23:38). Why would the Holy Spirit then, speaking through Paul, refer to the Jerusalem temple as the “temple OF GOD”?

Alan Campbell, a pastor in Belfast, Ireland, has pointed out that when Paul spoke of “the temple of God,” he used the Greek word, “Naos.” According to Young’s Analytical Concordance, this word means “a dwelling place or inner sanctuary.” When Jesus used this word in John 2:19-21, He referred to His own body. When Paul used it in I Corinthians 3:17 and II Cor. 6:16, it was to say that Christ’s followers are “the temple of the living God.” When Paul used it again in Ephesians 2:21, it was to say that the Church “grows into a holy temple in the Lord.” If Paul had wanted to say that the man of sin would sit in a physical temple, says Pastor Campbell, “he would undoubtedly have used the Greek word ‘hieron,’ which is used on some 25 other occasions to describe the Jewish temple at Jerusalem.”

Many futurists today believe that Paul spoke of a physical temple which, in our time, has not yet been rebuilt. Is there any way that the Thessalonian believers would have understood Paul’s words this way? They knew from Jesus’ own prophecies that the Jerusalem temple they were acquainted with would be destroyed in their own generation (Matthew 23:29-24:1, 24:3, 24:34; Luke 19:41-44, Luke 21:5-33, etc.). How strange it would have been for them to consider that this temple would later BE REPLACED in order to grant a momentary seat to a lawless one, a person whom they didn’t even need to be concerned about because he was generations away from appearing. It’s even more impossible to conceive of such a rebuilt temple being regarded as “the temple OF GOD.” Those who are trying to initiate this project in the 21st century hope to resume the Old Covenant sacrifices, which is an outright rejection of Christ and another wave of apostasy. It’s a tragedy that many professing Christians in America today are actually passionate about seeing such a project come to pass in modern Israel, even to the point of collectively donating millions of dollars to see it happen.

Lactantius (260-330 AD), embracing the viewpoint that by “temple of God” Paul was referring to the Church, said that Nero became enraged by the “faithful and steadfast TEMPLE OF THE LORD” built through the evangelism of Peter, Paul, and the early Church. So Nero “sprung forward to raze THE HEAVENLY TEMPLE and destroy the true faith.”

VERSES 5-7

Paul reminded the Thessalonians that he had already discussed these things with them in person (verse 5), and his language indicates that we are not given all the details of their conversation. Apparently, Paul had privately discussed with them the identity of the man of lawlessness and the entity that was restraining him, because he says, “And YOU KNOW what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time” (verse 6). This points to a first-century fulfillment, as does Paul’s next statement: “For the mystery of lawlessness is ALREADY at work. Only he who NOW restrains it will do so until he is out of the way” (verse 7).

James Stuart Russell, whose book, “Parousia,” in 1878 has been cited favorably by Charles Spurgeon and (more recently) R.C. Sproul, wrote the following about the immediate relevance of this subject to the Thessalonians:

“Is it not obvious that whoever the man of sin may be, he must be someone with whom the apostle [Paul] and his readers had to do? Is he not writing to living men about matters in which they are intensely interested? Why should he delineate the features of this mysterious personage to the Thessalonians if he was one with whom the Thessalonians had nothing to do, from whom they had nothing to fear, and who would not be revealed for ages yet to come? It is clear that he speaks of one whose influence was already beginning to be felt, and whose unchecked and lawless fury would [before] long burst forth. But why does not the apostle speak out frankly? Why this reserve and reticence in darkly hinting what he does not name? …Obviously, because it was not safe to be more explicit…

The early church father, Augustine (354-430 AD), held to the same interpretation:

“Some think that these words refer to the Roman empire, and that the apostle Paul did not wish to write more explicitly, lest he should incur a charge of calumny against the Roman empire, in wishing ill to it when men hoped that it was to be everlasting. So in the words, ‘For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work,’ HE REFERRED TO NERO, whose deeds already seemed to be as those of Antichrist” (emphasis added).

Chrysostom (347-407 AD) also agreed, saying:“‘For the mystery of lawlessness doth already work.’ HE SPEAKS HERE OF NERO… But he did not also wish to point him out plainly: and this not from cowardice, but instructing us not to bring upon ourselves unnecessary enmities, when there is nothing to call for it” (emphasis added). Others who taught that Nero was the man of lawlessness include Clement of Alexandria [150-215 AD], Tertullian [160-220 AD], and Jerome [347-420 AD], who, interestingly enough said, “There are MANY of our viewpoint who think that Domitius Nero was the Antichrist because of his outstanding savagery and depravity.” James Stuart Russell continues,

“But how striking are the indications that point to Nero in the year when this epistle was written, say A.D. 52 or 53. At that time Nero was not yet ‘manifested;’ his true character was not discovered; he had not yet succeeded to the Empire. Claudius, his step-father, lived, and stood in the way of the son of Agrippina. But that hindrance was soon removed. In less than a year, probably, after this epistle was received by the Thessalonians, Claudius was ‘taken out of the way,’ a victim to the deadly practice of the infamous Agrippina; her son also, according to Suetonius, being accessory to the deed. But ‘the mystery of lawlessness was already working;’ the influence of Nero must have been powerful in the last days of the wretched Claudius; the very plots were probably being hatched that paved the way for the accession of the son of the murderess. A few months more would witness the advent to the throne of the world of a miscreant whose name is gibbeted in everlasting infamy as the most brutal of tyrants and the vilest of men.”

Victorinus, another church father who was martyred in the year 303 AD, in his commentary on Revelation, wrote:

“[John tells us that the beast] was in the kingdom of the Romans, and that he was among the Caesars. The Apostle Paul also bears witness, for he says to the Thessalonians: ‘Let him who now restraineth restrain, until he be taken out of the way; and then shall appear the Wicked One, even he whose coming is after the working of Satan, with signs and lying wonders.’ And that they might know that he should come WHO THEN WAS THE PRINCE, he adds: ‘He already endeavours after the secret of mischief’ – that is, the mischief which he is about to do he strives to do secretly; but he is not raised up by his own power, nor by that of his father, but by command of God.”

Victorinus here connects “the beast” from the book of Revelation with the Roman empire. He also links “the Wicked One” [a.k.a. the lawless one] with the person who was prince when Paul wrote (Nero), and who would follow his father (Claudius) to the throne just about two years later (in 54 AD).

On a humorous note, Dispensationalists often claim that the restrainer is the Holy Spirit, who will be taken out of the way when the Church is allegedly to be snatched away (in “the Rapture”) before a future 7-year Tribulation. This creates a dilemma, though, because Dispensationalism also says that there will be a revival during the Tribulation led by 144,000 Jewish evangelists. It’s impossible, however, that so many Jews, or anyone at all, could come to faith in Christ without the work of the Holy Spirit.

VERSE 8

The lawless one, Paul said, would be killed by the appearance of Christ’s coming in vengeance (II Thess. 2:8): “And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of His mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of His coming” (II Thess. 2:8). Is it significant that Paul used the expression, “the appearance of…”? Concerning this language, James Stuart Russell (in 1878) said:

“In this significant expression we have a note of the time when the man of sin is destined to perish, marked with singular exactitude. It is the coming of the Lord, the Parousia, which is to be the signal of his destruction; yet not the full splendour of that event so much as the first appearance or dawn of it… This evidently implies that the man of sin was destined to perish, not in the full blaze of the Parousia, but at its first dawn or beginning. Now what do we actually find? Remembering how the Parousia is connected with the destruction of Jerusalem, we find that the death of Nero preceded the event. It took place in June A.D. 68, in the very midst of the Jewish war which ended in the capture and destruction of the city and the temple. It might therefore be justly said that ‘the appearance, or dawn, of the Parousia was the signal for the tyrant’s destruction.”

Bringing Nero “to nothing” was no small thing. Nero began to persecute the Christians throughout the Roman Empire in November 64 AD, after using them as a scapegoat for the large fire which many believe he set himself. The methods he used to put the saints to death were especially vicious, cold-blooded, and inhumane (more details can be seen here). This intense persecution only ended when Nero committed suicide in June 68 AD with the help of his personal secretary. Thus he made war on the saints for a period of exactly 42 months (in fulfillment of Revelation 13:5-7; Daniel 7:21, 25), until he himself came to an end.

PP16: The Man of Lawlessness (II Thess. 2) Part 2


This is now the sixteenth post in our series on “A Partial-Preterist Perspective on the Destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.” This is the same title as a term paper I recently submitted to Northwestern College. All the previous posts can be found here, and it’s recommended that they be read in order before reading this post:

[1] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/13/brief-explanation-of-partial-preterism/
[2] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/13/pp2-references/
[3] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/13/pp3-external-evidence-for-an-early-date-revelation/
[4] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/14/pp4-internal-evidence-for-an-early-date-revelation-part-1/
[5] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/14/pp5-internal-evidence-for-an-early-date-revelation-part-2/
[6] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/14/pp6-internal-evidence-for-an-early-date-revelation-part-3/
[7] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/14/pp7-internal-evidence-for-an-early-date-revelation-part-4/
[8] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/14/pp8-daniels-70-week-prophecy-part-1/
[9] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/15/pp9-daniels-70-week-prophecy-part-2/
[10] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/15/pp10-jerusalems-destruction-foretold-in-the-olivet-discourse/
[11] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/15/pp11-did-jesus-come-in-70-ad-part-1/
[12] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/15/pp12-did-jesus-come-in-70-ad-part-2/
[13] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/16/pp13-signs-of-the-close-of-the-age/
[14] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/16/pp14-abomination-of-desolation/
[15] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/16/pp15-the-man-of-lawlessness-ii-thess-2-part-1/

In the last post we turned to a discussion of the man of lawlessness spoken of in II Thessalonians 2. This  is a two-part study in which we are considering the relevance to the first-century Church of Paul’s prediction of a coming man of lawlessness and a rebellion to the first-century Church. We’re also considering the identity of this man of sin.

Adam Maarschalk

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F. The Man of Lawlessness (II Thessalonians 2) [Part 2]

Regarding the identity of the man of lawlessness, also known as the “man of sin” and the “son of perdition,” there has been no end of speculation in history. Aside from 20th and 21st century figures, and various Catholic Popes, more than one 1st century personality has also been tagged as the man of lawlessness. Not all Preterists assume that the man of lawlessness and the beast of Revelation are one and the same. One reason for this is because of the language used in II Thess. 2:4, which says that the man of lawlessness “opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.” Nero, who is generally regarded within Preterism as the beast of Revelation, certainly proclaimed himself to be God, but some question whether he was the man of sin because he is not known to have physically entered into the Jerusalem temple.

On the other hand, some have interpreted the phrase “temple of God” to refer to the Church (e.g. Ephesians 2:11-22) rather than to any physical temple. In other words, the man of lawlessness would attempt to usurp the place of God as the object of supreme worship within the Church. This Nero did, of course, but this alone perhaps isn’t proof that Paul wasn’t referring to a physical temple. He could just as well have been referring to the physical temple which still stood in his day, that is, except for one other point of truth. God had already rejected that temple as His own. As Jesus said, “See, your house is left to you desolate” (Matthew 23:38). Keeping this statement by Jesus in mind, why would God then refer to the Jerusalem temple as the “temple of God”? This interpretation then, of a spiritual temple rather than a physical one, has solid ground to stand upon. Kurt Simmons points out that similar language to that used by Paul is used in the Old Testament, as in this instance regarding the prince of Tyre: “Thus says the Lord God: Because your heart is proud, and you have said, ‘I am a god, I sit in the seat of the gods, in the heart of the seas…’” (Ezekiel 28:2).

Dispensationalism is surely wrong in saying that Paul had in mind a physical temple which, in our time, has not yet been rebuilt. For one thing, the Thessalonian believers had the ability to know from Jesus’ own prophecies that the temple they were acquainted with would be destroyed in their generation (Matthew 23:29-24:1, 24:3, 24:34; Luke 19:41-44, Luke 21:5-33, etc.). How strange it would have been for them to consider that this temple would later be replaced for the purpose of granting a momentary seat to a lawless individual, one whom they didn’t need to be concerned about because he was generations away from appearing. Also, as noted earlier, any future temple which may still be rebuilt for the purpose of resuming Old Covenant sacrifices would in no sense be God’s temple, but would be the ultimate symbol of apostasy and an outright rejection of Christ. It’s a tragedy that many believers today are passionate about seeing such a project come to pass in modern Israel, even to the point of sending millions of dollars to see it happen.

Nero does seem to have been the candidate of choice, though, among many early church writers, as the man of lawlessness spoken of by Paul. Aside from Victorino and Augustine, Chrysostom (347-407 AD) also wrote: “‘For the mystery of lawlessness doth already work.’ He speaks here of Nero… But he did not also wish to point him out plainly: and this not from cowardice, but instructing us not to bring upon ourselves unnecessary enmities, when there is nothing to call for it” (Kurt Simmons [2] , 2009). Lactantius (260-330 AD), embracing the viewpoint that by “temple of God” Paul was referring to the Church, said that Nero became enraged by the “faithful and steadfast temple of the Lord” built through the evangelism of Peter, Paul, and the early Church. So Nero “sprung forward to raze the heavenly temple and destroy the true faith” (emphasis added).

Aside from Claudius, the emperor who preceded Nero, another figure who has been suggested as the restrainer[1] is Ananus, the high priest who opposed the Zealot-led rebellion against Rome. He is seen to have restrained the Zealots as long as he was in his position. Within a couple months from the time he was removed from his position and replaced by Phannias, who was one of the Zealots’ own men, the Zealots and the Idumeans together slaughtered 12,000 Jews who would not join their cause. Around the same time, they also caused the temple to “overflow with blood” in one particular civil war in which 8,500 were killed in one night. This view either regards the Zealots as a corporate “lawless one,” or their leader, John of Gischala, as the man of lawlessness.

As will be seen in the final section, John led a faction in Jerusalem during the Roman/Jewish War which occupied the Jerusalem temple and turned it into a military fortress. John personally melted down the sacred temple vessels and dishes, poured out the wine and oil which was meant to be poured on the burnt-offerings, and caused the Jews to become drunk from the wine. His behavior provoked Josephus to exclaim that Jerusalem was more worthy of judgment than Sodom ever was, and that such madness was the true cause of the people’s destruction. This was terrible sacrilege from the standpoint of Judaism, of course, but the temple ceremonies were invalid in God’s eyes anyway because Christ had already gone to the cross. This view of Ananus as the restrainer and John and/or the Zealots as the “man of sin” seems highly unlikely, though, for the simple reason that there is no record of John or any of the other zealots claiming to be God. John also fails as the candidate for the man of lawlessness, in any case, because he survived the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD and instead spent the rest of his life in a Roman prison. The true lawless one, Paul said, would be killed by the appearance of Christ’s coming in vengeance (II Thess. 1:8): “And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of His mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of His coming” (II Thess. 2:8). Of this language, James Stuart Russell said:

In this significant expression we have a note of the time when the man of sin is destined to perish, marked with singular exactitude. It is the coming of the Lord, the Parousia, which is to be the signal of his destruction; yet not the full splendour of that event so much as the first appearance or dawn of it. Alford (after Bengel) very properly points out that the rendering ‘brightness of his coming’ should be ‘the appearance of his coming,’ and he quotes the sublime expression of Milton, —‘far off His coming shone.’ Bengel, with fine discrimination, remarks, ‘Here the appearance of His coming, or, at all events, the first glimmerings of His coming, are prior to the coming itself.’ This evidently implies that the man of sin was destined to perish, not in the full blaze of the Parousia, but at its first dawn or beginning. Now what do we actually find? Remembering how the Parousia is connected with the destruction of Jerusalem, we find that the death of Nero preceded the event. It took place in June A.D. 68, in the very midst of the Jewish war which ended in the capture and destruction of the city and the temple. It might therefore be justly said that ‘the appearance, or dawn, of the Parousia was the signal for the tyrant’s destruction (Todd Dennis [26], 2009).

David Lowman (2009 [1]) points out that the Greek word for the phrase “gathered together,” episunagoge, used in II Thess. 2:1, appears three times in the New Testament[2]: [1] in Matthew 24:31 (“…and He will send out His angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”), [2] here in this passage, [3] and in Hebrews 10:25 (“not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”). In each of these cases the term denotes the fellowship of believers or the gathering of the Church in terms of the spread of the gospel. Lowman notes that, where this term was used in the Olivet Discourse, it was the fall of the temple and Jerusalem that enabled the gospel to be released apart from infringement[3] by Jewish authorities. It also accomplished the official separation of Christians and Jews in the eyes of the Roman world.[4]

Before this gathering to Christ was to occur, there was one more event, not yet discussed in any detail, that Paul said had to happen first. There had to be a rebellion. David Lowman again comments:

The Greek word “apostasia” is used here. It can mean rebellion or falling away. Most modern translations have properly identified the proper usage as “rebellion.” This is not to be seen necessarily as a spiritual falling away, but rather a social or political rebellion. It is quite probable that Paul is making the argument that the Day of the Lord’s judgment against Judea will not happen until the rebellion of the zealots has already occurred. We know this began taking place some 15 years or so after the writing of this letter (David Lowman [2], 2009).

The Jewish rebellion against the Romans played a large role in ensuring that Jerusalem would be crushed. This and other related historical events will be examined in the following section.


[1] Dispensationalists often assert that the restrainer (II Thess. 2:6-7) is the Holy Spirit, who will be taken out of the way when the Rapture snatches away the Church before a future Tribulation. This creates a dilemma, though, because Dispensationalism also says that there will be a revival during the 7-year Tribulation Period led by 144,000 Jewish evangelists. It’s impossible that such a spiritual harvest, or any salvation at all, could be accomplished without the work of the Holy Spirit.

[2] It can be argued, though, that a different form of the same root (Greek) word is used several more times in other instances.

[3] Whether or not this interpretation is accepted, such infringement is certainly in view in I Thessalonians 2:14-16, where Paul says the Jews “oppose all mankind by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved—so as always to fill up the measure of their sins. But God’s wrath has come upon them at last!”

[4] Some full preterists believe that this “gathering together” was a physical resurrection of Old Testament saints as well as the faithful who had died in Christ up until that point, as a parallel to Revelation 14:13 and Revelation 20:4-6.

PP8: Daniel’s 70-Week Prophecy (Part 1)


This is now the eighth part in our series on “A Partial-Preterist Perspective on the Destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.” This is the same title as a term paper I recently submitted to Northwestern College. The first segment included the Title Page, Outline, Introduction, and a brief introduction to Partial-Preterism. The second segment consisted of the References page, and the third segment was a discussion of the external evidence for an early date for the writing of the book of Revelation. These segments can be found here:

[1] Part 1: Brief introduction to partial-preterism
[2] Part 2: Reference page
[3] Part 3: External evidence of Revelation’s early date

We then turned to a discussion of the internal evidence for an early date. In Part 4 we discussed the inclusion of Jerusalem, the temple, Babylon the Great, and “a great city” in the book of Revelation. Part 5 dealt with the seven kings mentioned in Revelation 17:9-10 and the identity of the beast of the book of Revelation. Part 6 addressed Nero’s persecution of the saints and his prophesied demise.  Part 7 spoke of the worship of Nero and the worship of his image even after his death. We also saw that the language used by John strongly indicates the relevance of the entire book of Revelation to the first-century Christians who were alive when he wrote this book. These posts can be found here: [Part 4], [Part 5], [Part 6], and [Part 7].

We will now examine the 70-Week Prophecy given to Daniel through the angel Gabriel, in two parts. In this first part, we will begin to discover that the historical view did not focus on a future Antichrist, but rather the focus was Jesus the Messiah.

Adam Maarschalk

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Daniel’s 70-Week Prophecy (Part 1)

Earlier we saw that Clement’s statement regarding John’s banishment to Patmos makes it difficult to determine when he believes the book of Revelation was written. However, there is no doubt that he saw in the events of the Roman/Jewish War the fulfillment of the final week of Daniel’s 70-Week prophecy (Daniel 9:24-27). Dispensationalist Futurists hold that this final week (seven years) is still unfulfilled, and that the book of Revelation foretells the events which will take place during those seven years. Clement saw it differently:

From the captivity at Babylon, which took place in the time of Jeremiah the prophet, was fulfilled what was spoken by Daniel the prophet as follows: [Here he quotes Daniel 9:24-27 in its entirety.] …And Christ our Lord, “the Holy of Holies,” having come and fulfilled the vision and the prophecy, was anointed in His flesh by the Holy Spirit of His Father. In those “sixty and two weeks,” as the prophet said, and “in the one week,” was He Lord. The half of the week Nero held sway, and in the holy city Jerusalem placed the abomination; and in the half of the week he was taken away, and Otho, and Galba, and Vitellius [were also taken away]. And Vespasian rose to the supreme power, and destroyed Jerusalem, and desolated the holy place. And that such are the facts of the case, is clear to him that is able to understand, as the prophet said (Puritan Lad, 2008).

In his mind, Clement may or may not have tied the final week of Daniel’s 70-Week prophecy to the book of Revelation, as is often done by Dispensationalists and non-Dispensationalists alike. If he did, though, then by definition he was an advocate for Revelation’s early authorship, i.e. before 70 AD, because he clearly taught that Daniel 9:24-27 was entirely fulfilled by the end of the Roman/Jewish War. In any case, his view of Daniel 9 was certainly Preterist and, as we will see, so also was his view of Matthew 24 and other passages thought by Futurists to be unfulfilled.

It can be noted that nowhere in the book of Revelation is a 7-year period indicated, but a period of 3.5 years can be seen. The basis for a future 7-year Tribulation period within Dispensational thought is taken only from Daniel’s 70-Weeks prophecy in Daniel 9:24-27.  Sam Storms (2006) speaks of the importance of this passage to Dispensationalist and Futurist theology when he says, “One could conceivably make an argument that apart from the dispensational interpretation of Daniel 9, these and related prophetic doctrines would lack substantial biblical sanction.”

The final week (i.e. seven years) will be initiated, Dispensationalists say, when the Antichrist makes a covenant with Israel. This is the current popular interpretation of verse 27, which states: “And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering…”). For this to happen, we are also told, the Jerusalem temple must be rebuilt and the sacrifices and offerings resumed. John Hagee, Benny Hinn, and others are willing to raise millions of dollars to see this happen, despite the blasphemous nature of such a venture in light of Christ’s work on the cross and also what happened in 70 AD.

This viewpoint does not appear to be the historic one. A number of the early church writers (like Clement) and also some of the reformers, in fact, did not see the “he” of verse 27 as referring to the Antichrist, but they insisted that this was a reference to Jesus. The covenant in view, then, was the New Covenant, made with many (Matthew 26:28, Mark 10:45, Mark 14:24). The first half of the final week was fulfilled in Jesus’ 3.5 year earthly ministry. The “end to sacrifice and offering” was achieved by Christ’s work on the cross, which was the ultimate sacrifice. Philip Mauro, a brilliant lawyer who spent years on the bar of the US Supreme Court, spoke of the centrality of Christ’s work on the cross in Daniel’s 70-Weeks prophecy in his 1921 book, The Seventy Weeks and the Great Tribulation:

No one will dispute that, when Christ suffered and died on the Cross, thus offering “one sacrifice for sins forever,” he then and there caused the sacrifice, and oblations of the law to cease as a divine appointment… Neither can there be any question that the removal of those sacrifices (which could never take away sins) was a great thing in the eyes of God, a thing so great and well-pleasing to Him, to warrant its having a prominent place in this grand Messianic prophecy. In proof of this important point we direct the attention of our readers to Hebrews, chapters 8, 9 and 10… The great subject of this part of Hebrews, as of the prophecy of the Seventy Weeks, is the Cross… And when we find, both in the prophecy (Daniel 9:27) and in Hebrews 10, that this setting aside of the sacrifices of the law is connected directly with the confirming of the New Covenant, we are compelled to conclude that the passage in Hebrews is the inspired record of the fulfillment of this Prophecy… This gives to the last week of the seventy the importance it should have, and which the prophecy as a whole demands, seeing that all the predictions of verse 24 depend upon the events of that last week. On the other hand, to make this last Week refer to a paltry bargain between Antichrist (or a supposed Roman prince) and some apostate Jews of the future, for the renewal (and that for a space of only seven years) of those sacrifices which God has long ago abolished forever, is to intrude into this great scripture a matter of trifling importance, utterly foreign to the subject in hand and to bring the entire prophecy to an absurdly lame and impotent conclusion (pages 30-32, emphasis added; Todd Dennis [21], 2009).

Ralph Woodrow in 1971 pointed out the significance of Christ’s ministry being 3.5 years long, in relation to the prophecy in Daniel 9:27a (Todd Dennis [22], 2009). He notes that Augustine and Eusebius recognized that Daniel had defined the exact length of Christ’s ministry, with Eusebius saying, “Now the whole period of our Saviour’s teaching and working of miracles is said to have been three-and-a-half years, which is half a week. John the evangelist, in his Gospel makes this clear to the attentive [by the mention of four Passovers during His ministry; John 2:13, 5:1, 6:4, 13:1].”

Understanding this, we can now see real significance in certain New Testament statements which also speak of a definite established time at which Jesus would die. For example, we read: “They sought to take him: but no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come” (John 7:30). In John 2:4, Jesus said, “Mine hour is not yet come.” On another occasion, he said, “My time is not yet come” (John 7:6). Then just prior to his betrayal and death, he said, “My time is at hand” (Mt. 26:18), and finally, ‘”the hour is come” (John 17:1; Mt. 26:45).

These and other verses clearly show that there was a definite time in the plan of God when Jesus would die. He came to fulfill the scriptures, and there is only one Old Testament scripture which predicted the time of his death—the prophecy which stated that Messiah would be cut off in the midst of the 70th week—at the close of three and a half years of ministry! How perfectly the prophecy was fulfilled in Christ!

But those who say that the confirming of the covenant and causing sacrifices to cease in the midst of the 70th week refers to a future Antichrist, completely destroy this beautiful fulfillment and are at a complete loss to show where in the Old Testament the time of our Lord’s death was predicted.

The prophecy of Daniel 9 stated that Messiah would confirm the covenant (or would cause the covenant to prevail) with many of Daniel’s people for the “week” or seven years. We ask then, when Christ came, was his ministry directed in a special way to Daniel’s people —to “Israel ” (Dan. 9:20)? Yes!

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A good article on the subject of Daniel’s 70th Week, which I didn’t reference here, is this one by Peter Cohen of Messianic Good News. Cohen focuses on how this prophecy concerned Christ’s incarnational ministry and work on the cross during His first coming, and notes the implications of saying that what Daniel prophesied will yet be fulfilled through some means other than the cross.

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A chiasm is a literary structure long recognized as a way to emphasize ideas or concepts by placing them into a symmetric pattern, as they are recorded in a given literary work. Where they appear in the Bible, some have referred to them as the “fingerprints of God.” The chiastic structure of Daniel 9:25-27 is very interesting, as it makes clear that the Messiah is the “he” who confirms the covenant. William H. Shea, a historicist,  notes the following chiasm in Frank Holbrook’s work*, “The Seventy Weeks, Leviticus, and the Nature of Prophecy“:

Another helpful chiasm of this same passage, including verse 24, can be seen here. It is shown as follows:

Daniel 9:24-27

24 ” 7.) Seventy weeks are determined For your people and for your holy city,
6.) To finish the transgression, To make an end of sins, To make reconciliation for iniquity, To bring in everlasting righteousness,
5.) To seal up vision and prophecy, And to anoint the Most Holy.
25 4.) “Know therefore and understand, That from the going forth of the command To restore and build Jerusalem
3.) Until Messiah the Prince, There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks;
2.) The street shall be built again, and the wall, Even in troublesome times.
26 1.) “And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself;
2.) And the people of the prince who is to come Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.
3.) The end of it shall be with a flood,
4.) And till the end of the war desolations are determined.
27 5.) Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; But in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering.
6.) And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate,
7.) Even until the consummation, which is determined, Is poured out on the desolate.”

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RED –         The center of the chiasm , the apex of eternity , the cross.
GREEN –   Above – God uses gentiles (Cyrus) to liberate nation for rebuilding city
Below – God uses gentiles (Romans) to decimate nation and destroy city
VIOLET – Above – Announces arrival of Messiah in Blessing
Below – Announces departure of Messiah in Judgment
BLUE –     Above – Restoration commanded by God through man
Below – Desolation Determined by God through Messiah
PINK –      Above- Anoint the High Priest who would be the sacrifice and offering.
Below – End sacrifice and offering
ORANGE – Above – Christ brings in everlasting righteousness and reconciliation
Below – Christ makes the city of the abominable unrighteous, desolate.
DARK RED – Above- 70 weeks of years determined for rebuilding and life
Below – The consummation of judgments determined for rejection.

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In the following post, we will consider whether or not there was meant to be any gap at all between the 69th and 70th weeks in Daniel’s prophecy.

All parts belonging to this term paper on the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD can be found here.
*William H. Shea, “The Prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27”, in Holbrook, Frank. ed., The Seventy Weeks, Leviticus, and the Nature of Prophecy, 1986, Daniel and Revelation Committee Series, Vol. 3, Review and Herald Publishing Association; shown on Wikipedia in the following entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/70_weeks_prophecy