BOOKS: BIBLICAL STUDIES (1500BC-AD70) / EARLY CHRISTIAN PRETERISM (AD50-1000) / FREE ONLINE BOOKS (AD1000-2008)
AD70 Dispensationalism: According to
that view, AD70 was the end of 'this age' and the start of the 'age to come'.
Those who lived before AD70 could only 'see in part' and such, lacking
the resurrection and redemptive blessings which supposedly came only
Herod's Temple in Jerusalem
fell. Accordingly, AD70 was not only the end of Old
Testament Judaism, but it was also the end of the revelation of
Christianity as seen in the New Testament.
AD70 Dispensationalism: According to that view, AD70 was the end of 'this age' and the start of the 'age to come'. Those who lived before AD70 could only 'see in part' and such, lacking the resurrection and redemptive blessings which supposedly came only when Herod's Temple in Jerusalem fell. Accordingly, AD70 was not only the end of Old Testament Judaism, but it was also the end of the revelation of Christianity as seen in the New Testament.
material is being archived for balanced representation of all preterist views,
but is classified under the theological term hyper (as in beyond
the acceptable range of tolerable doctrines) at this website. The
classification of all full preterism as Hyper Preterism (HyP) is built
upon well over a decade of intense research at PreteristArchive.com, and
the convictions of
the website curator (a
former full preterist pastor). The HyP
theology of final resurrection and consummation in the fall of Jerusalem, with its dispensational line in AD70
(end of old age, start of new age), has never been known among authors
through nearly 20 centuries of Christianity leading up
to 1845, when the earliest known full preterist book was written.
Even though there may be many secondary points of agreement between
Historical/Modern Preterism and Hyper Preterism, their premises are undeniably and
THE FOLLOWING MATERIAL HAS BEEN CLASSIFIED AS "HYPER PRETERIST"
"Full preterist" material is being archived for balanced representation of all preterist views, but is classified under the theological term hyper (as in beyond the acceptable range of tolerable doctrines) at this website. The classification of all full preterism as Hyper Preterism (HyP) is built upon well over a decade of intense research at PreteristArchive.com, and the convictions of the website curator (a former full preterist pastor). The HyP theology of final resurrection and consummation in the fall of Jerusalem, with its dispensational line in AD70 (end of old age, start of new age), has never been known among authors through nearly 20 centuries of Christianity leading up to 1845, when the earliest known full preterist book was written. Even though there may be many secondary points of agreement between Historical/Modern Preterism and Hyper Preterism, their premises are undeniably and fundamentally different.
WARNING: THE FOLLOWING MATERIAL HAS BEEN CLASSIFIED AS "HYPER PRETERIST"
SOME DISTINCTIVE DOCTRINES OF SYSTEMATIZED HYPER PRETERISM
It is important to keep in mind that many ideas and doctrines full preterism appeals to - such as the complete end of the Old Covenant world in AD70 - are by no means distinctive to that view. Many non HyPs believe this as well, so one need not embrace the Hyper Preterist system in order to endorse this view. Following are exceptional doctrines which, so far as I've seen, are only taught by adherents of Hyper Preterism.:
DISTINCTIVE DOCTRINES TAUGHT BY STANDARD FULL PRETERISM
DISTINCTIVE DOCTRINES TAUGHT BY VARIOUS FORMS
Considerations in New Testament Eschatology
By Daniel T. Silvestri
The following is a brief exposition of the general presuppositions which guide Biblical interpretation. Special emphasis is placed on the Spiritual nature of the Biblical scriptures and how intellectual understanding guides eschatological perception. This perspective places focus on the generation of Gospel writers and the "second coming" imminence of the Lord, Jesus Christ.
Like so many others, I have been bombarded with "end time" prophecies from every form of popular media: radio, television, books, videos, cassette tapes, tracks, brochures, and the pulpit. With all of this material coming at us we have some choices to make. We can embrace a particular prophetic orientation, perhaps the one held by our personal church, and tune out the rest. We can ignore all of this and not really be concerned with any of these prophetic positions. Or we can pay attention to the vast array of this stuff and attempt to make something out of it all.
End times prophecy controversy certainly has more appeal, generally speaking, for the average person than arguing over whether baptism requires "sprinkling" or "immersion". Is Biblical prophecy important today? Many churches stay away from any ‘official’ doctrinal statements concerning this, fearing it as a controversial subject, and not being willing to risk potential divisions and loss of church membership over these matters. On the other hand, many denominations as well as prestigious theological schools strongly embrace positions on "end time" teachings. They feel so strongly about it that membership and status depend on this particular proclamation. Imagine being in a position of acceptance or rejection based on your eschatological orientation?
In my best scriptural experience and judgment, prophetic matters are not critical to gaining or losing one’s membership in the gracious family of God. God has saved us by His grace and faith, both of which are gifts to us who belong to Him. In the epistles Paul urges Timothy and Titus to have "sound doctrine" but when asked how to be saved Peter says, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost" (Acts 2:38). It would appear that repentance and baptism in the name of Jesus Christ is what brings remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Ghost. It isn’t sound doctrine that is life saving other than what Peter said. How much Biblical knowledge did the gentiles possess when, "the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel (Eph. 3:6)? Most scholars estimate that, even after the death of Christ, it was seven to ten years before Cornelius and the gentiles were evangelized into the kingdom of God. It would appear that brothers and sisters in the family of Christ can study and quibble over differing views of scriptural meaning without serious threat of harm or loss of salvation "life".
I believe there is an "objective" truth and meaning to the scriptures. My own personal inner drive toward truth of the scripture attests to this. I also contend that it is probably not as complicated, confusing and esoteric as many of us tend to make it. At the same time, it does take some time, energy, and prayerful meditation. There is also a "spiritual" quality to the scriptures which surely God intended. This writing represents the very beginning of some scriptural truths I am just beginning to "see". It is not always an easy or comfortable ordeal. It is a humanly natural thing to create our own personal psychological safety zones as pertains to our belief systems. When something different, strange and alien to our established system enters we quickly react. The inner psychological ‘judge’ quickly evaluates the incoming information, usually dividing it into "acceptable" or "unacceptable". Rarely do we have a "further consideration" category. In my opinion having a "further consideration" category has to come from God, because we as people, don’t seem to usually have that capacity. Most of us would like claiming to having an "open mind", but do we really have one? I have sent many questions to others, concerning scriptural matters, over the internet. Very rarely do I receive answers or even an acknowledgment. I think it is because I sprinkle in a little of what I am now seeing so they will understand what answers I seek. They may indeed be difficult or awkward questions to answer, but I highly suspect, and some have responded, that if I already have a certain orientation it would probably be a waste of effort to give me honest responses to the questions. They don’t understand that I am always in sincere search of the truth. and I believe God uses people, as well as His Spirit and His Word to that end. They seem to assume that I am "closed" to their response. Are they simply projecting their own disposition to me? I don’t really know, but I wish they would just answer my questions and tell me what they really ‘see’ in the scriptures. It could be a great help.
I have learned for myself that where I am in scriptural knowledge always changes. I don’t feel that I go with every "wind of doctrine", but what I ‘know’ today will be different in the future. It will be different tomorrow, or next week, or next month. It does not mean that what I know today is wrong necessarily, but limited and incomplete. Of course, sometimes some of it can be simply be flat-out wrong. If I ever get to the point where I really feel that I know it all, I’ll probably have to start all over again. Paul learned that God was strong "in him" when he was weak. Six times Paul talks about being "puffed up" and James makes it clear that "God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble"(James 4:6)(KJV). Jesus thanked the Father for hiding "these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes" (Mat. 11:25). Sometimes I have a problem recalling these verses, but God always has a way of bringing them to mind. When we, as individuals, become so ‘fixed’ in our Biblical ‘positions’ that love (which is unconditional acceptance of others in obedience to God - not necessarily acceptance of what they believe or do) takes a secondary position to our personal viewpoint, it might do us well to meditate on Paul’s "thorn in the flesh" and the Lord’s statement, "my strength is made perfect in weakness" (IICor. 12:9).
A short while ago I was preparing to write on the subject of deception in the "latter days" - the "time of the end". After all, we are living in the Biblical "end times" aren’t we? The nation of Israel has been once again established. With all the unrest currently in the Middle East, along with the rise of liberalism and decline of conservative moral values in this country, and the approaching new millennium, surely, I thought, we must be at the very edge of the Biblical prophetic "latter days". The Devil is winning the battle. People’s love is waxing cold. Men are becoming "lovers of themselves" and are "falling away" from the faith. Apostasy seems to be everywhere. This is a common theme in the New Testament concerning the "last days". I also have read about these "times" in many books, been taught it by sincere and highly respectable men of God, seen it on national television, listened to it on radio, and heard it preached from the pulpit. Then I ran into a book at the local theological seminary written by evangelist John L. Bray entitled, "Matthew 24 Fulfilled". This book led me to many scriptural truths I had never been able to see before. What Pastor Bray had to say was, at first, very disturbing to me. He said the "end times" were "then" (in Jesus’ generation) and not "now". I began fervently studying and searched the scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. To my complete amazement I found that he is correct. It is a more basic and much plainer interpretation of scripture than all of the currently popular dispensational millennial teachings. Also, many previously obscure scriptural passages began to clear up. My perspective of the New Testament began to change. How could I have missed this? How could so many others still be missing this? I discovered the answer. It lies within the framework of our mental paradigm. It lies in our intellectual precepts. It lies within the presuppositions we bring to the reading of the scriptures. To give a brief example, the following single verse from John’s first letter causes interpretation difficulties for many because of the precepts they bring to the reading. The Apostle John, in his letter to those living in his current time and his present generation said,
John begins this verse by addressing the brethren and proceeds with a plain, black and white, obvious statement of fact, "it is the last time". The simplest and plainest sense of words and meaning tells us that John is saying that antichrist shall come, but that there are already many antichrists presently existing therefore, they (those back then, not "us" now) "know that it is the last time". This verse doesn’t indicate how long the period of the "last time" will endure, but it certainly indicates that it had presently begun back then at the time of his writing. Most of us would have great difficulty taking John at his word when he says "it is the last time" meaning back then. This is largely because of what we’ve all been taught for a very long time.
The only thing more amazing than people is God. If someone were to ask the majority of Christians today, "Is Christ present?", most would echo a resounding "Yes!". If asked, "are your dearly departed family relatives who were believers and "in Christ" presently with the Lord in Heaven?", again, the clear majority would affirm with a solid "Yes". I fully agree with them. The amazing thing is that the majority of these people dearly hold to an eschatology that blatantly opposes these core convictions. I find this truly amazing about people, but much more amazing that God’s Spiritual truth has taken precedence over any faulty eschatological doctrine, instilling the "bottom line" of the faith in the heart of these believers. Jesus Christ is the Way the Truth and the Light right now. We are "saved" and redeemed the very moment the Spirit of God comes over us and we confess, repent, and give ourselves to the Master. We don’t wait for salvation, we have it instantly don’t we? Is our Salvation complete? If we were to die moments later we would be in the presence of heaven with God, right? Once again, clearly most people would answer a positive "Yes" to this. I would certainly agree. However, whether they realize it or not, their eschatology and "wind of doctrine" doesn’t agree.
If the Old Testament saints and our departed loved ones "in Christ" are presently in heaven then what happens at the "rapture"? According to today’s millennial thinking, the dead in Christ will rise first (in today’s generation) but aren’t they already in heaven? Do they come back to their graves in order to get raptured with us who are living? How much salvation do they have right now? How much salvation do the living "in Christ" today already have? Christ is present with today’s believers but He is also seated at the right hand of God in heaven. According to scripture, He will be there until all enemies have been made His footstool (Psalm 110:1; Mat. 22:44; Mark 12:36; Luke 20:43; Acts 2:35; Heb. 1:13; 10:13). However, popular belief today says He will come back to earth and defeat His enemies and the Devil, and will then reign a thousand years. If He is sitting at the right hand of God until his enemies are made His footstool then He would have no enemies to come back to earth to defeat. Does this make sense? Is this what scripture really says? These are just a few of many questions that cause one to see there are problems with much of today’s popular eschatological doctrine.
The purpose of this exposition is to give those who are sincere and open minded in their search for scriptural truth something to consider. This writing is scriptural, spiritual and, I believe, based on sound presuppositions. These suppositions are clearly defined at the beginning. The writer warmly and openly invites correction, challenge and other viewpoints. It is challenge that brought me here. I believe an honest reading of the following may cause "cognitive dissonance" in the traditional reader. It is not popular theology. It is certainly conservative theology. Only for the sake of space, scriptures are not always displayed in their entirety. All scriptures are taken from the King James Version. Although much care has been taken to properly handle God’s Word the reader owes it to himself to look up all scriptures to determine accuracy and context for himself. This writing is intended to be a very brief, nonexhaustive exposition on how a few basic premises guide our scriptural interpretation and eschatological perspective. For the average reader it will undoubtedly raise more questions than provide answers. It is the writer’s sincere wish to share a glimpse of what he is currently beginning to see. There is nothing fancy or esoteric about it. It is not ‘far out’ there somewhere. It is a plain reading of the scriptures. I believe it is an accurate and truthful reading of the scriptures. I hope to efficiently raise a legitimate sense of inquiry in the reader as pertains to his own presuppositions and how they influence the interpretation of scriptural truth, and his understanding of the nature of salvation in Jesus Christ and His eternal kingdom.
Understanding How We Perceive the Bible Reveals How We Determine Our Eschatological Perspective
As we approach the Biblical texts we must ask ourselves a few questions. Our own personal answers to these questions will fundamentally determine how we interpret, learn from, and apply the scriptures of the Bible. The answers to these questions help form our presuppositions. Among the questions we must ask ourselves are:
The answers to these questions are critical to any ‘reading of the Bible’ experience. The answers to these determine your Biblical "experience". I reply a resounding "Yes" to all five questions. The Bible is a complete book in that it will never be canonically added to or subtracted from. It requires no outside historical, archeological, sacred, secular or other kind of information to interpret. It is fully inspired of God, and is thereby fully and perfectly true, without error, and trustworthy. The Bible is meant to be experienced through understanding and comprehension by means of the Spirit of the living God. It is a "spiritual" book and requires a spiritual exactment (quickening) to be properly understood. In other words, if one were to be stranded on a deserted island with no resources other than the Bible to read, it could be understood provided the quickening of the Spirit.
One’s general presuppositions (paradigm) act as an interpretive filter to incoming information. For example, if one does not believe the Bible is a complete book they can easily begin adding newly discovered and other kinds of information (e.g. Dead Sea Scrolls, Gospel according to Thomas) whether it agrees or disagrees with the Bible. One can look at archeological discoveries and secular history. Some of this information may prove to support our perceptions of Biblical history, but what happens when it doesn’t? Could this produce confusion and doubt? Outside information can prove to color scriptural information causing one to question whether the Bible is "inspired" or whether it can be understood. The Bible, being a complete book, interprets itself. Scripture interprets scripture. Look at the following two questions:
Are there any prophets today? Not according to the Bible. Jesus said, "The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it" (Luke 16:16). (cf. Mat. 11:13)
In Matthew 24:14 Jesus says, "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come". Has the gospel been preached in all the world? Yes, according to the Bible.
Therefore, one’s presuppositional view of the Bible greatly effects interpretation and subsequently our view of ourselves and the world. Our personal beliefs about the five presuppositions listed above create the backdrop upon which our eschatological picture is painted. What follows in this writing will have more meaning for individuals who hold, or think they hold a strong conviction of "yes" to these five questions and corresponding presuppositions.
What do we mean by "Eschatology"?
The word, "eschatology" is from the Greek, "eschatos" (last) and "logos" (study). Therefore, it is the study of "last things". It would be difficult to separate eschatology from doctrine. Eschatology springs from the doctrinal orientation of what is perceived through the holy scriptures. Doctrinal perspective, in turn, has already been greatly influenced by the five presuppositions listed above. Thus we gain our "doctrinal eschatology". In its most common concept, it deals with Christ’s "second coming" and the events preceding and following this great event.
Is Our Eschatological Perspective Important?
Our eschatological view strongly effects our inward experience which determines our outward interaction with the world. For example, if it is believed that salvation has not yet come or been fully consummated, one’s self and the world are perceived much differently than if salvation has already come. To repeat, what is perceived to be the truth strongly effects one’s identity, their perception of the world, and how they relate and thereby interact with society. For instance, if it is believed the Jews are a particular people, in the eyes of God, our interaction with them may very well be different than if we perceive they hold no special favor with God. There are thousands of Christ-believing people today flocking to Israel for many purposes, but, for the most part, it predominantly is due to their eschatological view point. Many gentiles today are attending Messianic Jewish church services, learning the Hebrew language, studying Torah and participating in their feasts and traditions, all motivated by their eschatological understanding. There are other Christ-believers who have little interest in these activities because of their differing eschatology.
Three General Doctrines of Eschatology
Most all Messianic ‘Bible people’ will agree to the fact that the entire Bible is centered around the story of redemption that comes by Jesus Christ. However, eschatological schools of thought divide here as relates to time and events. The focus is the "second coming" of Jesus Christ. A very broad, limited, and simplistic overview follows:
All of these general groups divide within themselves as relates to time and events.
Is "Time" That Important?
The answer to how important time is depends on your frame of reference. The major importance of ‘timing’ is that it represents the nature of important specific Biblical incidents, issues, and concepts. For instance, timing determines how we answer questions like: Have we obtained redemption yet? Are the Old Testament saints in heaven yet? Has the devil been defeated yet? Has all power been given to Christ yet? If not, When will Christ’s everlasting kingdom begin? When will death be defeated? When will all of his enemies be made His footstool? When will the fullness of the gentiles come in? When will "all of Israel" be saved?
Timing has a profound effect on our understanding of the nature of Biblical things. If Christ has already "come" (parousia) then His rule and His kingdom probably represent a different "nature" than if he were not presently reigning and were to come in the future to physically sit on a throne and rule the earth from Jerusalem. If He has already come (second coming) then the power of sin and death have already been defeated; The devil has been defeated; Salvation has been accomplished. However, if He is to come in the future, then maybe these are yet to be fulfilled, or at least in a more powerful way. Time, in scripture, seems to be a vital and yet evasive thing. What does it mean when Jesus says, "The time is coming and now is" (John 4:23; 5:25)? Could all of these things mentioned be here now and yet be future? Is the everlasting kingdom one which has come and is yet still coming?
If we consider the five presuppositions above then the scriptures are meant to be understood and should, of themselves, reveal insight into these things (with the help of the Holy Spirit). I believe they do reveal these things, as the Bible is a comprehensively complete book. All of these answers are contained within it. Since "time" seems to be a major fulcrum point from which doctrinal issues teeter we should look at statements which appear to reveal chronology.
A Word About Interpretation
Before venturing into the scriptures in search of a chronology, a few things should be said concerning rules of interpretation. We began by stating five fundamental presuppositions in approaching the Bible. It is my personal belief that the violation of one or more of these presuppositional tenets is common and lends to many, if not most or all, of the problems of interpretation. This will be seen as we proceed. There have been many "rules" of interpretation set forth among theologians throughout the years. Guy Duty, in his book, lists eight. For our purposes four will be listed:
Words must mean something or there would be no reason or sense of communication. Words can be used in many different ways. For example, there are metaphors, similes, allegories, parables, and other figures of speech. In addition there is the fact that these writings have been translated. Also there are various texts and manuscripts from which scriptures are translated. In addition, there is our cultural bias and presuppositional stance, and it is little wonder why so many variances of interpretation exist. Also the scriptures speak of things in heaven which are "not of this world". "But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him."(I Cor. 2:9). Through all of this, God meant for us to gain understanding through and by His Word (II Tim. 3:16,17).
When things appear repeatedly in the scriptures it is easier to gain understanding. We have four Gospel books. Repetition gives themes. The redemption we receive through the blood of the Lamb is a theme that appears over and over. However, sometimes people create complete doctrines using one or two verses. Considering all the aforementioned variables, this is building on shaky ground. Repetition leads to establishing themes which, in turn serves to establish a context out of which doctrines develop. The entire Old Testament establishes the theme of redemption. These are shadows and types of things to come (Heb. 8:5,10:1). The New Testament is the arrival. It is the climax of all things spoken of through the prophets (Luke 24:44). It is the redemptive plan brought through the nation of Israel.
The presupposition has already been stated that the Bible is comprehensively a complete book. This means the Bible has everything needed contained within itself (along with the Holy Spirit) for complete, intended (by the Spirit), understanding. It is an "inspired" (of God, Himself) book and therefore is perfect and trustworthy. The major and predominant theme, in and throughout the entire Bible, is the plan of redemption as set forth through the nation of Israel by way of Jesus Christ through faith.
Interpretive ‘Point of Reference’
Major interpretive problems occur when the reference points are ambiguous, unknown, or misplaced. For example, sometimes the Old Testament prophets speak of Israel’s restoration in reference to the old covenant fleshly Israel. At other times the reference point of restoration is to the new covenant spiritual Israel. For instance, it is not always clear what prophecies written during the Babylonian captivity pertain to post exile restored Israel in contrast to Israel during Messianic times, or perhaps both. Confusing the point of reference has been a major factor leading to high levels of interpretive variation. It is this writer’s firm belief that, when in question, the Old Testament must be viewed from the New Testament. Although the new Testament is an outgrowth of the Old Testament, if something must be made to "fit" it must be done from the perspective of the new covenant, and not vice versa. The New Testament reveals "mysteries" as things previously, "Which has been kept secret for long ages past, but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith". (Rom. 16:25,26). Jesus, "Opened their minds to understand the Scriptures" (Luke 24:45). John, "Was in the Spirit on the Lord's day", when he received, "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants" (Rev. 1:1,10). It has been said that, the Old Testament is the New Testament concealed, and the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed. "Old" is a time word that, in the Biblical sense, means past in time. "New" means after the "old" or present. We are currently living in New Testament times. Testament means "covenant". We are in the new covenant. To be part of the new covenant is to have the laws of God written in your heart (Jer. 31:33) and the indwelling Spirit, "Will guide you into all the truth" (John 16:13). "His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie" (I John 2:27). Living in the new covenant means, "Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come" (II Cor. 5:17). Let us live in the new covenant and be guided by the indwelling Spirit, "Of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises" (Heb. 8:6).
Heaven or Earth?
Another point of reference to be considered is that of heaven or earth; above or below; spiritual or natural (physical); old covenant or new. This should not be confused with "literal" versus "figurative". Strong doctrinal divisions are drawn in the name of "literalism". The presupposition used in this writing, is that ALL Biblical statements have a literal application, sometimes expressed symbolically or figuratively, but literal none the less. Sometimes it is required to discern the literal meaning through the use of symbolic language (e.g., the book of Revelation). Therefore, it is not a matter of objecting to literalism, but of discerning whether it pertains to the natural or spiritual; heaven or earth; old covenant or new. It could be said that this is just a means of "spiritualizing" the scriptures. However, Jesus spoke much about the "Kingdom of Heaven" which is, "Not of this world" (John 18:36), and "The kingdom of God cometh not with observation" (Luke 17:20). He proceeded to use parables and phrases, "The Kingdom of Heaven is like" to describe that which, "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God" ( I Cor. 2:9-11). This is the exactment of spirit (regeneration and revelation) required for scriptural understanding because the Bible is a "spiritual" book. One must recognize the spiritual, invisible, non-worldly dimension of scriptural revelation. Jesus said, "Except a man be born again [of the Spirit], he cannot "see" the kingdom of God (brackets and quotes mine). Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" ( John 3:3,5). "If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things" (John 3:12)? Jesus spoke of "heavenly things". He was with the apostles for forty days after His death, " Being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God" (Acts 1:3). It is generally agreed the "Kingdom of Heaven" and the "Kingdom of God" as used in scripture are in reference to the same thing. Heaven is an objectively "real" and literal place but is of the spiritual (not of this world) and not perceived in our natural sight.
The notion of pertaining to the natural or spiritual should be of no surprise to any student of the Bible. Most Bible believers would quickly agree with Paul that they have "died with Christ" (Rom. 6:8). What does this mean? Some might say this is simply a figure of speech meaning our old sinful nature has passed away. What does it mean when Paul tells his readers that Jesus, " Hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2:6)? Paul continues, "In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit" (Eph. 2:22). There are verses like this, too numerous to list, all throughout the New Testament. If we were to skip over these verses we would miss the very foundation of the Biblical message because there is no one that understands, in the natural, what took place at Calvary. How can one man, any man, be raised up from natural physical death and take away the sins of the entire world? Is there anyone who can completely understand this in the natural mind? Do we really understand the resurrection? The very core of the Gospel is rooted in spiritual conception. Many people pass by these verses and cling more to the "literal" in the "natural" verses because of their accessibility to human intellectual understanding. This may also create a tendency to misplace and "fit" spiritual things into natural things. Paul prayed, "For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God" (Eph. 3:14 -19). A full reading of the second chapter of the first letter to the Corinthians (found on pg.15) reveals the nature and importance of the role spiritual discernment plays in revelation knowledge.
God’s Plan of Redemption Was Brought Through Israel
Dispensational thinking has created the common belief that a separation exists between Christ’s church and Israel. According to this premillenial belief Israel’s prophetic "clock" stopped when they refused Christ as their messiah, and the "age of the church" began. Therefore, according to the theory, we are currently in a parenthetical time which will end at the "rapture" and then God’s prophetic clock for Israel will begin again. Supposedly, this will commence the seventieth week of Daniel wherein lies the great tribulation and the appearance of the Anti-Christ. The major point here being a separation between Israel and the "church". As will be clearly shown by scripture, this is simply not true.
It is a fact that, "Salvation is of the Jews" (John 4:22). Paul was bound in chains because he was preaching the "Hope of Israel" (Acts 28:20), " Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen" (Rom. 9:4). "These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Mat. 10:5,6). "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek" (Rom. 1:16). Paul addressing the Gentiles says, "That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens no hope, and without from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having God in the world" (Eph. 2:12). The scriptures are of the Jews, given to, received, written of, and culminating in a Jewish Messiah. In the new covenant the redemption of the Gospel is given first to Jew and then to Gentile. The first church was Jewish, "And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved" (Acts 2:46,47). "And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles" (Acts 14:27). The church of Christ was of Jewish origin and was never replaced by a Gentile church. Thus, there is no "church age" or "Christian age" divided from a "Jewish age "to come in the future. There was a "Jewish age" of the Old Testament to be consummated (transformed and fulfilled - not destroyed) into a new era in Christ. "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill" (Mat. 5:17).
Church is "One" in Christ
Paul says, "For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God" (Rom. 2:28,29). "For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him" (Rom. 10:12). "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise" (Gal. 3:28,29). "Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all" (Col. 3:11). Paul, addresses the Jew/Gentile issue in the letter to the Ephesians when he says, "For He is our peace, who hath made both (Jew and Gentile) one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both (Jew and Gentile) unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby" (Eph. 2:14-16 parenthesis added by writer). "Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God" (Eph. 2:19). "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit" (I Cor. 12:13). It is difficult to understand how dispensationalists believe and teach that a Gentile church replaced the House of Israel when Paul clearly and repeatedly states the two have become one in Christ. We have been baptized into one body and made "one" in Christ Jesus. He made "in Himself of twain, one new man that He might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross" (Eph. 2:15,16). The New Testament reveals one "Hope of Israel", and one salvation, and one church, and one body of Christ. This was new Testament revelation, "How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel" (Eph. 3:3-6). "So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another" (Rom. 12:5). Can it be any clearer? "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all" (Eph 4:4-6).
"One" in Christ. Is it in the Natural or Spiritual?
It seems quite human to seek that which is understandable in the natural. It is quite obvious that Christ reconciling both Jew and Gentile unto God in one body by the cross can not be fully understood as pertaining to the realm of the natural (of this world). It is a dimension of the redemptive work of Christ in the spiritual and must be spiritually discerned. It is noteworthy that those who divide Israel and the church do not appear to perceive this unifying aspect of the cross. "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24). The complete second chapter of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians presents the critical importance of that which is spiritual.
Paul continues this exposition by saying, "And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ" (I Cor. 3:1). To shed more light, the following is from the "Strong’s Concordance" of Thomas Nelson Publishers.
SPIRITUAL 4152. pneumatikos, pnyoo-mat-ik-os'; from G4151; non-carnal, i.e. (humanly) ethereal (as opposed to gross), or (daemoniacally) a spirit (concr.), or (divinely) supernatural, regenerate, religious:--spiritual. Comp. G5591.
CARNAL 4559. sarkikos, sar-kee-kos'; from G4561; pertaining to flesh, i.e. (by extens.) bodily, temporal, or (by impl.) animal, unregenerate:--carnal, fleshly.
What was Paul saying ? He was telling them they were fleshly, bodily, temporal, animal, and unregenerate. He was expecting them to become ethereal, spiritual, supernatural, and regenerate. They lacked spirituality and its accompanying discernment. Later in this epistle Paul spends time instructing about the spiritual gifts (more accurately rendered "spirituals" - the word "gift" is added by the translators). They needed their spiritual eyes opened. In the second letter to the Corinthians Paul writes, "While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal" (II Cor. 4:18). Jesus says to Nicodemus, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3). Paul also says, "For we walk by faith, not by sight" (II Cor. 5:7). He continues to say, "Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new (II Cor. 5:16,17). Jesus said, "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit (John 3:5,6). "Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh" (Gal. 3:3)? These statements clearly reveal an "unseen", ethereal, invisible, non-carnal, supernatural, regenerated dimension in the redemption of our Lord, Jesus Christ. This is of the spiritual.
We’ve already seen the Kingdom of God/Heaven is "not of this world", and "cometh not with observation". "Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you" (Luke 17:21). "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God" (ICor. 15:50). This only makes logical sense being that "God is a Spirit" (John 4:24).
To Whom Was Jesus Speaking?
The Bible is for all ages but Jesus was speaking to those of His present generation. This gives a "time" point of reference. For many there is a tendency to interpret everything Jesus said as pertaining directly to us and our time (and all times). It’s as if everything that Jesus said is for us, here now today, as well as for the people of His day (and all other times). It is true, that scripture is the Word of God and has a universality and "timelessness" of value because, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" (II Tim. 3:16). However, it does not mean that everything written pertains specifically and directly to us (and everyone at all times) in the same manner it applied to those living in that day. Much of it is like getting a news report, or reading someone else’s mail. Their scriptural writings are a witness to us, "the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy" (Rev. 19:10). When Jesus lived it was a very special time (God in the flesh on the earth!!!). He lived in what Paul called the "fullness of times" (Eph. 1:10). For example, when Jesus said, "Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom" (Mat. 16:28), He was talking to his immediate listeners, the twelve disciples. He was saying not all of the disciples would be dead - that some would be alive to "see the son of man coming in His kingdom". In Matthew 10, Jesus was instructing the disciples as to their mission, and He was speaking to the disciples, not to us or anyone else, when He said, "But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come" (Mat. 10:23). He was telling them - His disciples - that when persecution comes to leave one city and go to another and that they would not go through every city before, "the Son of man be come". We find an example of the different audiences Jesus addressed in His prayer. In John chapter 17 it is very evident that Jesus is praying, first of all, for the disciples (and possibly all that were converted in His day in His ministry) when He says, "While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled" (vs. 12). He also says, "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word" (vs. 20). He is praying, first for those of His day (not us in our day) and then for those who are converted through the ministry (which includes all subsequent time up to the present and future, since His kingdom is everlasting (cf. Jer. 34:40; Ezek.16:30; 37:26; Daniel 4:3; 7:14; 7:27; 2Peter 1:11). God has no problems conveying who was being spoken to in His inspired scripture.
Jesus made it very clear to whom he was speaking when He said, "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation (Mat. 23:29-36). In speaking to His disciples on Mt. Olives He said, "Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled" (Mat. 24:34). Within the same context Luke records, "For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled" (Luke 21:22). He was speaking specifically to those of that generation - the generation in which Jesus physically walked the earth.
Was It Really THAT Generation?
There are many disagreements over scriptural "time" interpretations. Why do these varying opinions exist? They largely exist due to a violation or misapplication of some of the five presuppositions listed at the beginning of this writing. In addition, some of the basic "rules" of interpretation are ignored or confused. To give an example: Jesus said, concerning His generation, "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come (Mat. 24:14). There are many today that say the Gospel has not been preached unto all nations. Therefore, the end could not and has not come. They are looking into the "outside" world and making this judgment based on secular learning. Since they have not looked to the scripture and observed that the Gospel has been preached unto all nations, it is concluded that Jesus could not have been speaking about His generation in reference to "the end" (violation of presupposition #2 and #3). It has already been shown that, according to the Bible, the Gospel has gone to all nations (see pg. 8).
Spiritual Discernment and Time Statements: Past, Present, or Future?
Jesus and the other New Testament writers spoke of things past, present, and future. The reader is reminded of the spiritual and inspirational revelatory nature of scripture (presupposition #5). Many scriptures speak of things that do not pertain to the natural, but to the spiritual. Two prime examples are "the kingdom of heaven" and the nature of redemption. Most Christians readily agree the major theme of the Bible is redemption through the Lord, Jesus Christ. Therefore, pure logic dictates the Bible, although containing much worldy history, is predominantly a book about something spiritual, and not the "natural". Acknowledging this is critical. Jesus and the Apostles preached the Gospel and the Kingdom of God/Heaven. They preached spiritual things.
Describing things of the spiritual is not like describing things of the natural. "But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God: For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God: Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual"(ICor. 2:7,10,11,13,14). Many of the teachings and parables of Jesus begin with, "The kingdom of heaven is like…". We must recognize the spiritual nature of scriptural messages. Sometimes the scripture directly reveals the spiritual or unseen message. For example, Jesus said, "He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water" (John 7:38). In the very next verse we are told what these rivers of flowing water are. "But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified" (John 7:39). The scripture itself interprets that Jesus was referring to the Holy Ghost which was not yet given. Could this give us a clearer interpretation of what Jesus meant when He said, "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (John 5:3)? Could it also apply to, "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely" (Rev. 21:6)? Could it also apply to the Old Testament, "In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness" (Zec. 13:1)? Scripture interprets scripture and makes it exceedingly clear that "living water" refers to the Holy Ghost, and isn’t this the heart of the Gospel, which is spiritual in nature?
Jesus said, "The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live" (John 5:25). He also said, "But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth" (John 4:23). The sense of time appears difficult to understand in these sayings. He says the hour is coming and "now is" (already here). How can something already have arrived and yet be coming? Could this be a time of transition when the old covenant and the new covenant were coexisting? Could this be why Paul himself kept the Jewish festivals and did not speak against them to the Jews, but preached a Torah free Gospel to the gentiles? Jesus said, "For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled" (Mat. 5:18). The writer to the Hebrews said, "In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away" (Heb. 8:13).
Many times Jesus used the statement, "the kingdom of God is at hand" meaning "near" (Greek - eggus or eggizo). We might state it, "something of a spiritual nature is near". There is no question that "at hand" means near. The expression is used 21 times in the New Testament King James Version. Some examples are: "And the Jews' passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem" (John 2:13). "Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me" (Mat. 26:45,46). It is obvious from these verses the expression means "near" - in the not too-distant future. Why does there seem to be interpretive difficulty when this expression is used in other scriptural verses? For example: "That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand"(II Thes. 2:2). "But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer"(I Peter 4:7). "Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand"(Rev. 1:3). "And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand" (Rev. 22:10). The reader is strongly urged to look up these passages in order to establish the context for himself. These statements say the "day of Christ" and the "end of all things" is "at hand" (near). The two verses from Revelation are speaking of, "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass"(Rev. 1:1). Today there appears to be two common general practices in the interpretation concerning these "time" scriptures. The first practice is to extract all of these statements, communicated to the people of that generation living back then, and transplant them to the future (usually about 2000 years). This practice violates all four basic rules of interpretation listed prior: definition, context, logic, and inference. In addition, it violates #2, and #5 of our Biblical presuppositions listed on page 7. A second interpretation practice says that Jesus and the apostles were simply mistaken. This is an obvious violation of presuppositions #3 and #5. How can this be? Both of these speculative interpretations are based on the belief that "the day of Christ" and "the end of all things", and all of the happenings in Revelation were really NOT "at hand" and were NOT to "shortly come to pass". Why isn’t it believed? The root probably lies primarily in the process of looking "out" into the world and applying secular information and natural worldly understanding to the sacred scriptures (violation of #2 and #3). It is perceived that the day of Christ and the end of all things and the visions of Revelation certainly did not occur. The first group, mentioned above, believes in the inerrancy of scripture (following #3) therefore these things must come to pass and are placed in the future. The other group simply does not believe the infallibility of scripture (violation of #3) thereby having no claim to the inspirational spirituality of scripture (violation of #5). This second group can not have any sense of consistent or systematic theology since interpretation follows an arbitrary nature - taking some things and leaving others. It can easily be seen how all five Biblical presuppositions are readily violated by this latter group. Both of these groups virtually perceive the scripture through their own personal knowledge of the world rather than perceiving the world through the scripture.
Both groups usually recognize the "imminence" of Christ’s second coming expressed in the language and content of the New Testament. According to them, since the day of Christ and the end of all things did not happen (in the natural) another explanation must be forthcoming. If one adheres to the five presuppositions, then one must conclude that these things did, in fact, occur as scripture clearly states repeatedly. Jesus said to those of His day, "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come" (John 16:13). This was said in the time prior to the day of Pentecost and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. In post Pentecostal days, after the Holy Ghost was received, the Apostle John says, "But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him" (I John 2:27). Peter writes, "Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" (II Peter 1:20,21). Therefore the mistake is not in the writing of the scriptures lest we accuse God Himself. It must lie in our perception (interpretation) and understanding of what these statements mean and meant to those of that time. We know what "at hand" means, and we know the meaning of "must shortly come to pass". The misunderstanding must lie in the interpretive perception of what is meant by "the end of all things" and "the day of Christ" (to be addressed shortly).
Old Testament and New Testament
Broadly and thematically speaking, it could be said the Biblical message involves three basic ideas: God, Faith, and Redemption. The entirety of the scriptures is based on a mixture of these concepts throughout. This could even be presented as a simple mathematical formula: God + Faith = Redemption, or Faith + God = Redemption. All three factors (God, faith, redemption) represent that of the spiritual (in contrast to the natural).
GOD "God is a spirit" (John 4:24).
FAITH "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Heb. 11:1).
REDEMPTION "In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins" (Col. 1:14). "How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Heb. 9:14). "God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation (redemption) through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth" (IIThes. 2:13).
We have already said the Old Testament and the New Testament are rooted in spiritual themes and ideas. "For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect (Heb. 10:1). "Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual" (ICor. 15:46).
Testament means "covenant".
Old means "3820. palaios, pal-ah-yos'; from G3819; antique, i.e. not recent, worn out:--old" (see footnote 5), taken from, "But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same veil untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which veil is done away in Christ" (2 Cor. 3:14).
Old also means "3822. palaioo, pal-ah-yo'-o; from G3820; to make (pass become) worn out, or declare obsolete:--decay, make (wax) old" (footnote 5) taken from, "In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. "Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away" (Heb. 8:13). The Old covenant was "worn out", "decaying" and being declared "obsolete" "ready to vanish away". "Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second" (Heb. 10:9).
New means "2537. kainos, kahee-nos'; of uncert. affin.; new (espec. in freshness; while G3501 is prop. so with respect to age):--new" (footnote 7) taken from, "This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many (Mark 14:24). "Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life (II Cor. 3:6). "By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament" (Heb. 7:22). "By how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises" (Hebrews 8:6). The new covenant was a fresh transformation rooted in the old and "established upon better promises".
What is "The Time of The End"?
The time of the end is the "end time". It is not the end of time. This is found in the book of Daniel, "But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end" (Daniel 12:4). "And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end" (Daniel 12:9). It is seen here that Daniel’s book is sealed until the time of the end. Who will unseal the book? "Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon". "Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof" (Rev. 5:2,3,5). It would appear that Jesus is the opener of the seals. The first direct Biblical indication of Daniel’s "sealed till the time of the end" book is in the Gospels where Jesus Himself refers directly to Daniel and the prophecy where Daniel speaks of "The Abomination that maketh desolate" (Daniel 11:31;12:11). Jesus says:
All of these verses say the same thing except Luke’s Gospel substitutes "Jerusalem compassed with armies" for the phrase, "abomination of desolation". Therefore the Roman armies that encompassed Jerusalem is the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel as unsealed by the words of Jesus. Daniel is told that the "words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end", and Jesus, in His day, unseals them making the first direct Biblical reference to Daniel and the abomination of desolation. He tells them about something that will occur in their own generation, in their time. This clearly establishes the "time of the end" as being in Jesus’ day.
Kosmos means "World" and Aion means "Age"
In the New Testament King James Version both "kosmos" and "aion" are rendered as "world". However, the Greek word, "aion" is more properly rendered, "age". The translation is unfortunate because it has had a greatly impact on interpretation and eschatological doctrine. It is important to know when the point of reference is the "age" rather than the "world". There is an interpretive difference between "the end of the world" and "the end of the age". Many modern translations have corrected this. A full definition of these words can be found in "Strong’s Complete Dictionary of Biblical Words" or a Greek Dictionary. In one of His parables Jesus says, "As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world" [end of this age] (Mat. 13:40). In another parable He says, "So shall it be at the end of the world: [end of the age] the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just" (Mat. 13:49). Leading into the discourse on the Mount of Olives, the disciples asked Jesus, "what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world [end of the age] (Mat. 24:3)? Paul writing to the Corinthians says, "and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world [ends of the age] are come" (I Cor. 10:11). Referring to Christ, the letter to the Hebrews states, "For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world [end of the age] hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself" (Heb. 9:26). It should be clearly discerned by the use of ordinary interpretation and the usual meaning of words that an "age" is coming to an end. This is the time of the end; The end of an age; The age of the old covenant. The new covenant in the blood of Jesus has come. "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah" (Heb. 8:8). "And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come"[age to come] (Heb. 6:5). "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds [made the ages]" "And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance" (Heb. 1:1,2; 9:15).
"Parousia" is a Noun and "Erchomai" is a Verb
The discourse given in Matthew 24 by Jesus Christ to the disciples on the Mt. Of Olives is commonly called the "Olivet Discourse". The subject matter is focused on the destruction of the temple, the end of the age, and "the second coming" of Christ. This discourse contains the English translation, "coming" in several places. It is rendered from the Greek word "parousia" four times, and from "Erchomai" twice. Parousia is a noun that denotes the sense of arrival or active presence. Erchomai is a verb that means "to come". Throughout the epistles the predominant term used in reference to "His coming" is "parousia". Christ’s coming is an "active presence".
Mathew 24 "The Olivet Discourse"
In chapter 24 of Mathew Jesus speaks privately to four of His disciples as they stand on the Mount of Olives looking toward the Jerusalem temple (Mark 13:3). This chapter has become popularly know as "The Olivet Discourse" and represents one of the most comprehensive and clearest eschatological expositions in the Gospel. Ironically it is probably the tremendous amount of detail and information that causes the interpretation problems. The problem exists in trying to confirm the prophecy rather than simply believing the prophecy. The reader looks "out there" into the world, instead of being like the Bereans who, "searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so" (Acts 17:11). The keys to interpreting this Biblical prophecy is within the scriptures themselves and not "out there" somewhere (violation of presupposition #2). Some simply think Jesus was wrong (violation of #3). Another problem arises when the spiritual discernment character of scripture is ignored (violation of #5). A sincere study of this discourse helps shed light on what one really believes, and the presuppositions one holds. Parallel verses of the Matthew 24 discourses are found in Mark 13, Luke, 17, and 21. A careful study of the Olivet Discourse requires an examination and cross referencing of all three accounts.
Jesus tells the disciples about the destruction of the Jerusalem temple. Peter, James, John, and Andrew privately ask Him, "when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming [parousia] and of the end of the world" [end of the age] (vs. 1,2,3). Jesus proceeds in giving them events as time indicators. He uses expressions: "but the end is not yet" (vs. 6), "are the beginning of sorrows. Then" (vs. 8,9), "And then shall" (vs. 10), "and then shall the end come" (vs. 14), "When ye therefore shall see" (vs. 15), "For then shall be" (vs. 21), "Immediately after" (vs. 29), "And then shall" (vs. 30), "ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors" (vs. 33), "This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled" (vs. 34).
It can easily be seen by the most literal interpretation using the ordinary meaning of words, context, and logic, that Jesus is speaking directly to those with Him about things they (the disciples) will see and experience. During the discourse He gives instructions: "Take heed that no man deceive you" (vs. 4), "When ye therefore shall see" (vs. 15), "But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day" (vs. 20), "Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not" (vs. 23), "Behold, I have told you before" (vs. 25), "Wherefore if they shall say unto you" (vs. 26), "So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled" (vs. 33, 34). If Jesus were referring to another generation it would be indicated. Nowhere is this indicated. He says, "Take heed that no man deceive you" (vs. 4). He does not say, "Take heed that no man deceive them". Jesus was speaking about things they would experience, and clearly says that all these things will take place in this generation, meaning the present generation in which they were living. There are many who say "this generation" refers to a future generation from those alive at the time even though these same people concede that "this generation" means that distinct living generation every other time it appears in the Gospel books (cf. Mat. 11:16;12:41,42; 23:36; Mark 8:12; Luke 17:25). If it were a future generation Jesus would have said "that generation", but He said, "this generation". Some believe it meant a future generation because "the end of the world" didn’t happen (in the natural). We know this expression speaks of the end of the age (aion) and not the planet (kosmos). Others dispel this fulfillment because they do not believe other parts of the prophecy came true. For example, "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come" (vs. 14). There is a popular belief today that once the Gospel is "preached in all the world" then shall the end come. We have shown (pg.8) that this has already occurred, in Paul’s day, according to the Bible (following presupposition #2). In the most literal and commons sense meaning of words Jesus was saying the end would come after the Gospel goes to the whole world, "and then shall the end come". He didn’t say, "and then the end shall come many generations henceforth", or "in a couple thousand years". Jesus is speaking to those before Him when He says, "Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors" (vs. 32,33). He was speaking to them who were standing there with Him about things that would effect them. Those that place a "time warp" futuristic gap in this discourse are simply not following elementary principles of interpretation. Those who place divisional time points of reference, in Matthew 24, have not cross referenced it with Luke 17. Another reason some believe that Jesus is referring to some future "generation" is the unbelief that Jesus’ "coming in the clouds" happened as prophesied by Christ Himself, spoken of with imminence in the epistles, and clearly stated in the prophecy of the Revelation.
The Fulfillment Problem and "Bible Talk"
If Jesus says these things will all take place in that generation (His present generation) the writer simply believes it. If John begins his prophecy of the Revelation of Jesus Christ with the words, "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass" (Rev. 1:1) this writer takes him at his word (which is God’s Word) and those things shortly came to pass. They occurred shortly after he had written the prophecy. Those things were written twenty centuries ago. Those things have already occurred (more will be spoken about this later). First and above all, the writer believes this on faith. If the plainest meaning of words that were spoken by Jesus and the prophets of God can not be believed then the scriptures simply have no meaning. If Jesus says His coming in the clouds will happen in that generation this writer believes it. I may not have a full understanding but I believe it. It’s the Word of God.
Some scriptural passages are very easy to understand. However, there are also passages that are symbolic, allegorical, parabolic, metaphorical etc., sometimes being very difficult to understand. These elements of scripture can act to sometimes disguise, confuse, and mislead the reader if the reading is not mixed with faith. "For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it" (Heb. 4:2). Again, this is the spiritual exactment required for understanding and discernment. However, not all is simply "a spiritual thing". A student of the Bible must study and become familiar with the Bible, and not make void the gift of intelligence, logic, and common sense which is given by God.
The scripture contains phrases this writer refers to as "Bible talk". An example of this is found in the book of Acts on the day of Pentecost when Peter is speaking and he says, "But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: And I will show wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come" (Acts 2:16-20). What does all of this mean? Maybe only God Himself completely knows, but if Peter says this prophecy of Joel was in the process of being fulfilled at that time, the writer believes it, period! "And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief" (Mat 13:58). It is not a question of, "I’ll believe it when I see it", it’s a matter of, "I believe therefore that I may see it". "Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed" (John 20:29). What does it mean, "The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood"? In the discourse of Matthew 24 Jesus says, "the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other" (vs. 29-31). Can some sense be made out of all of this, or should we continue to wait for the natural sun to be darkened and the natural moon to be turned into blood?
Redemption came through the nation of Israel. The Old Testament is written in Hebrew. The Jews were familiar with the Old Testament and its idiomatic language. They were exposed to the scriptures weekly, at least. "For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him" (Acts 13:27). "For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day" (Acts 15:21). Many believe the Pharisees committed the entire five books of Moses to memory. Do you suppose Jesus could be using forms of speech found in the Old Testament? Herbert Lockyer in his book entitled, "All the Teachings of Jesus" says,
Jesus was certainly no stranger to the Old Testament commonly referred to as "the law" (of Moses). Jesus came to fulfill the law/Old Testament. Does the Old Testament contain language similar to that which Jesus uses in Matthew 24? "For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine" (Isaiah 13:10). This is used in the prophecy of the overthrow of Babylon. "And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree" (Isaiah 24:4). This was referring to the desolation of Edom. "I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed" (Daniel 7:13,14). This was Daniel receiving a Messianic vision. So we find there is language like this in the Old Testament scriptures. "Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken, because he was wroth. There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it. He bowed the heavens also, and came down: and darkness was under his feet. And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind. He made darkness his secret place; his pavilion round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies. At the brightness that was before him his thick clouds passed, hail stones and coals of fire. The LORD also thundered in the heavens, and the Highest gave his voice; hail stones and coals of fire" (Psalm 18:7-13). This is David speaking of God’s deliverance of him from the hands of King Saul. "And when I shall put thee out, I will cover the heaven, and make the stars thereof dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give her light. All the bright lights of heaven will I make dark over thee, and set darkness upon thy land, saith the Lord GOD" (Ezek. 32:7,8). This is referring to the destruction of Egypt. "And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord GOD, that I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in the clear day" (Amos 8:9). This was in reference to the northern kingdom. These passages are very obviously not meant to be interpreted in a natural sense in the common meaning. It is symbolic language. It is what this writer calls "Bible talk".
Judgment and Redemption
An obvious theme in the verses above is that of "judgment". God’s judgment also carries with it themes of justice and redemption. When we observe peculiar language, such as in those scriptures above, we might carefully examine it and look for themes of judgment and redemption. The major point here is to recognize the symbolic language of the Bible, and employ the Bible itself to discover similarities, connecting themes and expressions, ever guided by the Spirit, into further revelation of scriptural truth. Becoming very familiar with the words, phrases and expressions of scripture is an integral part of discerning between a natural or spiritual (or both) interpretation, even within the same passage. There is no "system" per se, except that which God, Himself creates. No one can "prove" an interpretation. "For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect" (ICor. 1:17). "Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe" (ICor. 1:20,21).
The Olivet Discourse begins with Jesus speaking about the destruction of the temple, "There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down" (Mat. 24: 2). Doesn’t this sound like judgment? John the Baptist said unto the sadducees and pharisees, "O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come" (Mat. 3:7). Jesus said, "Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell" (Mat. 23:33). He continues, "That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation" (Mat. 23:35,36). This sounds like judgment, and it will fall on "this generation" (the one Jesus lived in). The symbolic language of Jesus under discussion and similar Old Testament "Bible talk" both appear to contain the idea of judgment. In Daniel’s Messianic vision, he sees, "one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven" (7:13). In Psalm 18 David says He "came down" and "his pavilion round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies. At the brightness that was before him his thick clouds" (vs.9, 11, 12). Jesus says, "and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory" (Mat. 24: 30). These scriptures are written in similar language, using common phrases, and have a theme of judgment/redemption. We do not suppose these expressions are to be taken literally in the natural even though they carry an earthly aspect (physical destruction) and signify spiritual truth (justice and redemption).
The Old Testament’s foreshadowing of future events culminated in the birth, life, death, resurrection, giving of the Holy Spirit, and coming (parousia) of Christ. There is strong scriptural evidence that Christ’s coming (parousia) is linked with the destruction (judgment) of the Jerusalem Temple. A careful cross referencing of the synoptic gospels (Mat. 24; Mark 13; Luke 17;21) reveals The Olivet Discourse responding to three connected events as inquired by the disciples: the destruction of the temple, the sign of His coming, and the end of the world [end of the age]. In Hebrews it states:
The above passages from Hebrews chapter 9 reveals much under this discussion. It clearly says the way into the heavenly holy of holies was not manifested until the first temple "made with hands" had fallen (destruction of Jerusalem Temple). It says that "meat and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances" were the shadows of things to come until the time of Messianic rectification (cf. Acts 3:21). It goes on to say "being come" is the high priest of things to come, by a better temple made not with hands (Godly, spiritual); "That is to say, not of this building" (not of the physical, earthly one). It says that Christ entered once into the holy place, and He appeared "once at the end of the age" to put away sin by sacrifice of Himself. This verse (Heb 9:26) shows indisputably that Christ’s sacrifice at Calvary will not repeat, and that it occurred once at the end of the age. It is now clear that the "end times", "last days", and the "end of the age" refer to the era of that generation, 2000 years ago, in Jesus’ day. He will appear the second time unto them who look for Him, reiterating Jesus’ admonition (to those in His day) to stay alert and "watch" (Mat. 25:13).
The Day of the Lord
"Howl ye; for the day of the LORD is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty" (Isaiah 13:6). "Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it" (Isaiah 13:9). "For this is the day of the Lord GOD of hosts, a day of vengeance, that he may avenge him of his adversaries: and the sword shall devour, and it shall be satiate and made drunk with their blood" (Jer. 46:10). "Alas for the day! for the day of the LORD is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come" (Joel 1:15). These verses reveal "the day of the Lord" coincides with judgment. However, judgment is also connected to justice (redemption). The day of the Lord, in the Old Testament, spoke of destruction among nations such as Egypt, Babylon, Edom, and the "Fourth Kingdom" of Daniel (2:40, 7:23). The prophet Zechariah said, "Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle;" (Zec. 14: 1,2). We know Malachi was speaking of John the Baptist when he said, "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD" (Mal. 4:5). We know that Peter, on the day of Pentecost, said the pouring out of the Spirit and the other elements of Joel’s prophecy were happening, "before that great and notable day of the Lord come" (Acts 2:16-20). In the Olivet discourse Jesus says, "But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh" (Mat. 24: 43,44). The parallel passage in Luke we find Jesus saying, "And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through. Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not" (Luke 12:39,40). Paul says, "For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night" (I Thes. 5:2). Peter says, "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night;" (II Peter 3:10). John reports in the book of Revelation that Jesus says, "If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee" (Rev. 3:3). It is revealed by these scriptures that "the day of the Lord" is associated with the destruction of the temple, the sign of His coming, and the end of the age.
"When Shall These Things Be"
"Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom" (Mat. 16:28). "But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come" (Mat. 10:23). "Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he, tarry till I come what is that to thee? follow thou me. Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true" (John 21: 22-24). That last passage, from John’s Gospel chapter 21, marvelously interprets itself leaving no room for confusion or misinterpretation. Jesus says He will have His disciple, John, tarry (live) until He comes. The brethren rumored that John would never die (physically) but the next statement makes it perfectly clear that they misunderstood, and that Jesus simply said that John would live until Jesus "come". He would be one of those that would not taste of death until he sees the Son of Man coming in His kingdom. "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching" (Heb. 10:25). "For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry" (Heb. 10:37).
"At Hand" means "Near"
"The kingdom of heaven is at hand" [near] (Mat. 3:2; 4:17, 10:7; Mark 1:15; Luke 21:31).
"The night is far spent, the day is at hand: (Rom. 13:12).
"Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand" (Phil. 4:5).
"That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand" (II Thes. 2:2).
"But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer" (1 Peter 4:7).
"Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand" (Rev. 1:3).
"And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand" (Rev. 22:10).
"Last" 2078. eschatos, es'-khat-os; a superl. prob. from G2192 (in the sense of contiguity); farthest, final (of place or time):--ends of, last, latter end, lowest, uttermost (taken from Strong’s Concordance, see footnote 5)
"But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you" (I Peter 1:19,20).
"Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time" (I John 2:18).
"I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last:" (Rev. 1:10,11).
Prophecies in the Book of Revelation - When?
At the beginning of the Revelation of Jesus Christ we find:
Rev 1:1 "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand" (vs. 1:1-3). "Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen" (vs. 7).
Next the contents of the book and testimony of Jesus Christ is presented. In chapter 10 verses 5, 6, and 7 say, "And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven, And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer: But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets."
At the end of the Revelation of Jesus Christ we find:
Rev. 22:6 "And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to show unto his servants the things which must shortly be done. Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book" (vs. 22: 6,7). "And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand" (vs. 10). "And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be" (vs. 12). "He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus" (vs. 20). These verses reveal, without question, in the plainest meaning of words, that whatever is written in the scope and body of the revelation is to come to pass shortly (then, not today). John is told not to seal the book (compare Daniel 12:4). The reader (living in John’s day) are told to "keep" the things written because the time is near. If we missed or forgot this at the opening of this prophecy we are again reminded at the conclusion that these things "must shortly be done", the Lord will come quickly, "for the time is at hand".
Whatever the symbolism’s and apocalyptic speech forms might represent in the book of Revelation, we know that it all took place shortly within the time of its writing. Just because we may have difficulty understanding the content of this book does not mean it did not come to pass shortly (back then). Just because it’s not believed doesn’t mean it’s not true and didn’t happen. Once again, the problem seems to be confirming the prophecy within a common conceptual framework of understanding. If the content and/or fulfillment is not understood then it is conveniently placed in the future. If we don’t see it then it must not have happened yet. This clearly violates basic rules of interpretation as well as most, if not all, of the five listed presuppositions. It is also claimed and assumed the book was not written until after the destruction of the temple. This is based on very sketchy secular historical information at best. However, it makes little difference if we are looking for scripture to interpret scripture as the Spirit leads. No matter when John wrote the book, all "the things which must shortly be done" (22:6) therefore came to pass including, "Behold, he cometh with clouds" (1:7), and every eye did see Him (even those who pierced Him of His time generation) whether we fully understand this or not.
Paul and the other epistle writers acknowledged living in the times of, "as ye see the day approaching", "last days", "last times", "end times", "end of the age", "fullness of times", "end of all things". From their time perspective, in their day, the day of the Lord was in their future. It was an "at hand", "shortly come to pass" future. It would happen soon in that generation. Prophecy would be fulfilled. This was Paul’s "blessed hope" and "The Hope of Israel". The Kingdom of God "is come nigh unto you", "is at hand", "is come upon you", "is within", "cometh not with observation", "shall come". It is apparent that the Kingdom of God had, in some sense, already come and was yet coming. When the epistles are read, there is yet a consummation ahead (near at hand). The bulk of the New Testament may appear to contain, "time ambiguities". However, in contrast when the Book of Revelation is viewed, it is clearly known that all contents of that prophecy will take place "shortly". In Revelation, all prophecy which had not at that time yet occurred would happen "shortly" for the "time is at hand". However, at the time of its writing some things have already occurred, and some are in process, and some are yet in the near (to them) future. John begins by saying, "John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come;" (1:4). Four verses later we hear the words of Jesus, "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty" (1:8). Several verses later, in verse 1:19, Jesus tells John to, "Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter." Then in chapter 4 verse 1 and 2 John writes, "After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will show thee things which must be hereafter. And immediately I was in the spirit; and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne." It is evident that John wrote of things past, present and future to his time all in the context of events to be fulfilled in a "near future".
Scriptural "Time" Indicators
What City was Abraham Looking For?
Hebrews chapter 11, commonly referred to as the "faith" chapter speaks of the Old Testament patriarchs and saints. Speaking of Abraham the scripture says, "For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God" (vs. 10). Verse 13 says, "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city."(vs. 13-16). "And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect (11:39,40). It certainly would appear that Abraham was looking for a city that was "not of this world" but "a better country, that is, an heavenly". He wasn’t expecting a king "like other nations" to sit on a physical throne, in an earthly Jerusalem. Apparently the O.T. fathers and saints were not going to receive the promise, and be made perfect, without Paul’s generation of saints. In the following chapter (12) it says, "But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect" (12:22,23). It appears that "the spirits of just men" are made perfect in the heavenly city of Jerusalem on Mount Sion. In the letter to the Galatians Paul says, "But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all" (Gal. 4:26). Paul also wrote, "Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth" (Col.3:2). In Revelation 21 it says, "And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband" (1:2). In the letter to the Romans Paul says, "And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob" (11:26). In the letter to the Hebrews it says, "But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us" (9:11,12). Jesus entered into the "more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands" bearing the sacrifice of His own blood, "For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us" (9:24). Jesus came out of the holy of holies in Sion where His blood sacrifice was accepted and He delivered and turned ungodliness from Jacob (see the Appendix).
Paul’s Lesson about Natural and Spiritual in the Letter to the Galatians
In his letter to the Galatians, Paul’s theme is that of his Christian brethren becoming free in Christ only to return back into bondage of the law. He plainly speaks of things pertaining to Abraham as an allegory pertaining to the contrast between the law and freedom; the old covenant and the new covenant; the flesh and the spirit.
"And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven" (I Cor. 15:45-47). We are all born in Adam "after the flesh". With Christ we become reborn "of the Spirit". The old covenant is after the flesh (law), and the new is after the spirit (grace). The old fleshly covenant represents bondage and the new spiritual covenant represents freedom. The earthly Jerusalem is in "bondage with her children" but the Jerusalem "which is above" is free. Christians are reborn "of the spirit" and are "children of promise". In the letter to the Romans Paul says, "but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated" (Rom. 9:10-13). Paul’s obvious message is that works do not justify. It is God’s "calling" and being born in spirit (through Christ Jesus) that justifies and redeems the promise. "Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin" (Rom. 3:20). "Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster" (Gal. 3:24,25). "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again" "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (John 3:6,7,5). "They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed" (Rom. 9:8).
It is the writer’s hope that readers have, at least in some sense, been challenged in their traditional beliefs of scriptural knowledge. You can pay tithes for the service of others to read, study, and interpret the Word of God for you, and pray that they’re correct. Or you can actually read, study, and interpret the scriptures yourself in association with others. It is the writer’s sincerest wish that you, personally, always study the scriptures yourself. The foundational beliefs you hold will invariably and strongly effect your perception of the scriptures. A very significant aspect of human learning behavior is that it travels through the filters of our past experiences and perceptual bias. God has made us to be human, and He has given us everything we need to love, live, and have joy in the Holy Spirit. He had given us His son, Jesus Christ.
There is much to be said for those who have written many books, summaries, commentaries, etc. However, if you, personally, do not "see it" in the Word of God you must question it and study the scriptures. Earlier it was stated that repetitions lead to themes in scripture. Themes formulate a context out of which doctrines grow. The clear and continually repeated imminence "time" statements in the New Testament create a theme of imminence. Virtually all "end time" expositors fully recognize this. However, they usually simply ignore it or displace it through disbelief. This practice raises some very serious questions. If these "time" statements are ignored as "unimportant" or irrelevant then exactly what scriptural information is important and relevant? If the New Testament writers were simply mistaken about the Lord’s soon return, and it didn’t happen, then what else were they mistaken about? Were they also mistaken about other teachings and facts in the life of Jesus Christ? Was Jesus mistaken when He said the Spirit would lead them into all truth? Were they mistaken about salvation? God forbid. It would almost be more comforting if "end time" writers didn’t recognize "second coming" imminence. However, most of them do recognize it and as previously stated, they simply ignore it, displace it, or disbelieve it. Their eschatological doctrines are created on the presuppositional thematic bedrock of ignorance and unbelief. Any legitimate eschatological doctrine must come from a presuppositional thematic context of imminence. The imminence of the "coming" of a new age; a new "heaven and earth" in Jesus Christ.
For most readers that have remained to this point, there will probably be many more questions swimming through your mind than answers. The author shares that with you. Can we afford to ignore, displace, or simply not believe scriptural "time" statements because we don’t understand Jesus’ "second coming"? Or because it is uncomfortable and against most of what we have heard (but not studied ourselves). At what point does our faith start? A better question might be "where does it end"? If it can be shown that the writer is way off-base here and the scriptures hereto presented mean something far different, I will be the first to listen and look. Peter’s statement about a thousand years being as a day to the Lord is not an instruction to count each day as a year. If it were, we would need to use this formula in other N.T. "time" statements as well. It will certainly take more than a single verse, and a much clearer instruction for me to modify all of the "time" statements in the New Testament. The statements about "at hand", "must shortly take place" and "our salvation nearer than when we believed" say nothing about a formula for measuring "days".
One of the first questions that may come to mind, "Is there any prophecy yet to be fulfilled? A flat "No" sounds almost heretical doesn’t it? Why? Because it’s what most people have believed and preached for a long time. It is the cement of our conceptual building blocks. If truth were confirmed by the power of consensus Christ certainly would have been made a worldly king two thousand years ago. He also would have "come" many times in many generations because this is what has been frequently believed by multitudes. Doesn’t most of our "future" prophecy come from John’s book of the Revelation? It is the last book of canon. It is the revelation of Jesus Christ, and Jesus Himself says He is the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. If we believe some of this prophecy is in the future then we choose to ignore, displace, and disbelieve the "time" statements at the very beginning and the end of the prophetic Book of Revelation. Virtually all futurists base their theories on what they believe did not occur rather than what the Bible plainly says will occur shortly, and therefore did. Futurists base their Biblical eschatological understanding on "personal knowledge" usually taken from "out there" in the world, rather than by faith mixed with what scripture plainly and repeatedly says. The presuppositions are violated. The spiritual nature of the "Kingdom of God" and the scriptural message is misunderstood. We currently live in the New Testament times; The new covenant; The new heaven and earth; The Messianic age of Jesus Christ’s everlasting kingdom.
For the Bible to be meaningful it must be believed as the true Word of God (John 17:17). For the Bible to have a message it must be interpreted and understood (II Timothy 3:16). Understanding comes with personal study under guidance and leadership of the Holy Spirit of the living God (John 16:13; I John 2:27; II Peter 1:20; II Timothy 3:16). Revelation of truth comes gradually (I Corinthians 3:2, Hebrews 5:12-14, I Peter 2:2). Biblical truth comes from steadfastly searching the scriptures (Acts 17:11).
Let’s ask the Lord, Jesus a question, "What did you not complete or finish yet, Lord?".
Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, 2000 years ago said, "I come quickly" (Rev. 22: 7,12,20). This writer believes Him. Jesus came. His work is consummated and His redemptive work is complete. His presence is here. His dominion and kingdom are everlasting.
John Noe, "Demanding Evidences Why Christ Returned As When He Said He Would" originally presented and read as a theological paper at the 48th Annual Meeting of The Evangelical Theological Society, November 1996, in Jackson, Mississippi. It was titled,
"The Reformation and Restoration of John 16:13". Noe lists seven evidences of why Christ returned as when he said he would. In "Evidence #6" he speaks of the typology of the high priest on the Day of Atonement and his "second appearing". This portion of his paper predominantly deals with typology and is largely from the book of Hebrews.
Evidence #6 – Follows the Typology of the High Priest
The fall of Jerusalem and demise of the Old Covenant Temple system was no localized judgment, as some suggest, just as the Cross was no localized event – and yet fewer people knew of it than did about the destruction of Jerusalem. Jesus’ coming in judgment in 70 A.D. was also His appearing "a second time apart from sin unto salvation" (Heb. 9:28). If it wasn’t, this "non-occurrence" creates some major problems.
Curiously, the Bible says that Jesus had come and appeared MANY TIMES following both His resurrection and ascension. Then what did this phrase appearing "a second time" mean? To understand this choice of terminology, we must refer to the typology of the Jewish high priest. The high priesthood was centralmost to Israel’s existence. It was their very connection with God. Once each year on the Day of Atonement [the 6th Jewish feast as prescribed by law], the high priest would perform his most sacred duty. He’d put on his finery, make an animal sacrifice, put its blood in a bowl, tie a rope around his leg, appear before the gathered crowd in front of the Tabernacle [later the Temple], enter into the Holy of Holies, sprinkle the blood on the Mercy Seat of the Ark of the Covenant, and then reappear "a second time" to bless the awaiting congregation. The time he was inside the Holy of Holies was a fearful time for the assembled crowd. But his reappearance alive, "a second time," was the most-awaited and rejoiceful part of this whole event. It revealed that the sacrifice had been accepted by God and Israel’s sins were forgiven for another year.
Jesus Christ, as our new and superior High Priest of the New Covenant (Heb. 7-10), followed and fulfilled this typology, perfectly (Heb. 8:5; 10:1). After Jesus ascended to the Father, He entered the true Holy of Holies and offered up the Perfect Sacrifice of his spilled blood. But never was atonement considered completed with just the slaying of the sacrifice. Neither was it finished by entering into the Holy of Holies. In order for Jesus to fulfill the high priest typology, He also needed to fulfill the final, inseparable and essential act of atonement - to appear "a second time" to show that His sacrifice had been accepted. If, however, this final step has yet to occur, as many traditionalists tell us, then here are a few rather problematic and inescapable consequences:
In other words, all we could be sure of is that we have the promise of salvation. And, if that’s all we have, then how is the New Covenant better than the Old in this important regard, if it still doesn’t supply what the Old could not provide? Then how much salvation do we presently have? How much sin has Christ put away so far? Is there a split redemption? Please note that any doctrine that says Jesus must yet come back and fulfill salvation promises to Israel is saying we don’t yet have redemption ( I Peter 1:9-13; Acts 3:24; 26:6-8; Eph. 4:4). There’s no way around it, if we carefully follow the typology under the law system of Jesus’ fulfillment of the high priesthood pattern on the Day of Atonement.
But the good news is, there was no 19-plus-centuries delay. God’s redemptive plan was thoroughly tied to Christ’s appearing "a second time." And, as our High Priest, He did that just as part of His atoning work in history. He has been "revealed from heaven" (II Th. 1:7; I Peter 1:7; Lk. 17:30, 31). The 6th Jewish feast of Day of Atonement is totally fulfilled. How so? By His "coming on the clouds." The invisible nature of that particular type of coming was why a "sign" was needed and asked for by His disciples (Mt. 23, 30). Jesus had inseparably linked and designated the destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple as this sign of his coming. And, in that event(s), He was revealed. It signaled God’s acceptance of Christ’s atonement (Heb. 7:25) and that the way into the Most Holy Place was now open (Heb. 9:8). Thus, Jesus has completed everything for our salvation. We no longer are "eagerly waiting."
Our problems only come when we lift this salvation process out of its "last days"-of-th-Jewish-age context and shift it to an alleged end of a Christian age. There is no basis for removing Christ’s appearing "a second time" from the end-time framework of history of His "first" appearing (Heb. 1:2; 9:26). Remember, Jesus also inseparably linked, "Not one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law until all be fulfilled" or "everything is accomplished" (Mt. 5:18). He came to do just that (Mt. 5:17). Who of us would question that just a jot or tittle was ready to, was passing, and did pass away, from the law back in the first century (Heb. 8:13; 12:26-28; I Cor. 7:31)? The Temple, rituals, geneologies, etc. are all gone. And, "Salvation is of the Jews" and their age (Jn. 4:22), not of the Gentiles and an intervening Christian age.
So why would we be waiting for Jesus to still be revealed to His awaiting audience after almost 2,000 years have passed - again, a waiting period longer than Israel’s whole existence as a covenant nation? Come on, we’re talking inerrency here. Whom will we believe, Jesus or our postponing, futurist brethren? For me, I believe Jesus. How could He be any more clear? More than one jot or one tittle has passed away and all was fulfilled and everything accomplished, just as He said. The typology is complete. We’ve received the goal/end/telos of our faith, the ultimate and consummated realization of the promise of the salvation of our souls (I Peter 1:9). But there’s much more involved in this coming of the Son of Man than just judgment and salvation.
Bibliography and Suggested Reading
The publications listed below do not necessarily reflect the views of this author.
"Unger’s Bible Dictionary", Moody Press Chicago 1957
Guy Duty, "God’s Covenant and Our Time", Bethany Fellowship, Inc. Minneapolis, Minnesota 1982
Herman Ridderbos. "The Coming of the Kingdom", The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 1962
James Strong, "The New Strong’s Complete Dictionary of Bible Words", Thomas Nelson Publishers 1996
Herbert Lockyer, "All the Teachings of Jesus" Hendrickson Publishers, New York, NY 1991
John Noe, "Demanding Evidences Why Christ Returned As When He Said He Would" originally presented and read as a theological paper at the 48th Annual Meeting of The Evangelical Theological Society. November 1996, in Jackson, Mississippi. It was titled: "The Reformation and Restoration of John 16:13"
Avi Ben Mordechai, "Signs in the Heavens", Millennium 7000 Communications International Publications, 1997
John L. Bray, "Matthew 24 Fulfilled", John L. Bray Ministry, Inc. Lakeland, Florida 1996
Gene Fadeley, "Revelation: Kingdoms in Conflict", Anchor Publishing Waxhaw, NC 1995
Max R. King, "The Cross and the Parousia of Christ", The Parkman Road Church of Christ, Warren, Ohio 1987
James Stuart Russell, "The Parousia", Kingdom Publications Bradford, PA 1996
The writer openly invites questions, comments, criticism and other communications.
Daniel T. Silvestri
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Date: 10 Feb 2006
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